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27603
Thread 1: >>/youkai/22769
Thread 2: >>/youkai/23061
Thread 3: >>/youkai/23345
Thread 4: >>/youkai/23651
Thread 5: >>/youkai/23942
Thread 6: >>/youkai/24231
Thread 7: >>/youkai/24553
Thread 8: >>/youkai/24863
Thread 9: >>/youkai/25150
Thread 10: >>/youkai/25419
Thread 11: >>/youkai/25690
Thread 12: >>/youkai/26039
Thread 13: >>/youkai/26370
Thread 14: >>/youkai/26676
Thread 15: >>/youkai/26981
Thread 16: >>/youkai/27293

--------------------------------

I cough, wondering just why in the name of all that is holy this has fallen to me. Briefly, I toy with the idea of just telling Sukuna outright than Shanghai is, in all likelihood, not even truly sentient. That she's basically an automaton imprinted with a bit of Alice's personality (one that likes cute things), and is just acting out that program in a particularly weird way.

But I have no idea if this is actually true or not, and in any case Sukuna isn't the type to let something like that get her down. Odds are, she'd just try to awaken Shanghai as a Tsukomogami or something and go from there. No, better to try and exert a little bit of control over this situation.

"Um. Sukuna, don't you think that this is rushing things just a little bit?" I ask carefully. "I mean, you did just meet Shanghai less than an hour ago."

"Yeah, that strikes me as a little odd," Sukuna admits, frowning. "That Shanghai is being so forward, I mean. I dunno, maybe I'm just so charming that she can't keep her hands off of me? I am getting kind of a weird vibe from her, though. I mean, it's tempting, but things just seem a little bit off."

That's because you're being hit on by an ambulatory doll, little one. Still, at least she's listening to me. "While we're on the topic, what about your other interests? You know, like Youmu, Kokoro, and Yuyuko?"

"Eeeeh, I've been thinking it over, and I'm not really sure if there's anything between me and Yuyuko," Sukuna says thoughtfully. "I mean, Yuyuko is a princess and all, which is a natural fit for a warrior-poet like me, but I've done my research, you know? She's kind of... a schemer. I'm not sure just how well I'd fit with somebody like that. Cute and fluffy, though."

Well, at least she's thought about this at least a little bit.

"And Kokoro's my friend. I mean, she's attractive as all get-out, but hooking up with her would be so weird. Not that I'm going to rule it out!" Sukuna bites her lip. "As for Youmu... well, I'm woman enough to handle multiple ladies!" The inchling gives me a charming grin.

"Yeah, but how would Youmu feel about you dividing your attention like that?" I point out.

Sukuna's smiles vanishes. "Oh."

"Do you really think she'd be okay with it?" I press.

She sighs deeply. "...No. Youmu's way too traditional to be happy with something like that. Hm. I hadn't thought about it before now. But she's awfully attached to her mistress... but then again, we both like swordsmanship and poetry. Argh, this is so hard! Aya, what do you think I should do?" Sukuna gives me a pleading expression.

"I think that you should slow down, and try to get your feelings straight," I say carefully. "Maybe... go on a date or something with the girls you like, get to know them a little better, and see what your feelings, and more importantly their feelings, actually are. Don't rush into things, which is what you're about to do with Shanghai." I crack a grin. "And all without consulting her mother on the matter!" I add with a teasing grin.

Naturally, Sukuna takes me perfectly seriously. Her hand flies to her mouth in horror. "You're absolutely right! How dare I contemplate courting a young maiden without getting her mother's blessing?! And of course, I need ot speak to Miss Yuyuko if I wish to court Youmu... hmm." Shaking her head, the inchling springs off of my shoulder and walks into Alice's work room, heading straight up to the puppeteer and bowing formally.

"Er, yes?" Alice asks in confusion.

"Lady Margatroid, I have come before you to request permission to begin courting your... daughter, Shanghai. May I have your blessing in this?"

Alice blinks, utterly flummoxed at Sukuna's words. She gives me a questioning look, and I nod silently. With a sigh, Alice nods her head. "I... suppose so?"

"I thank you," Sukuna replies, straightening up. "I cannot say for certain whether or not my heart truly belongs to Shanghai, having just gotten to know her. But I appreciate that you will give the chance to find out. A fine day to you, madam." Her piece said, Sukuna tuns and leaves the room, closing the door behind her.

Alice stares at me. "But I'm not even sure if Shanghai is actually self-aware or not."

I sigh. "I'd just leave this one be. Wait and see how things turn out. You can call it an experiment, if nothing else."

"If you say so," Alice says skeptically. "Anyway, please come here. I just have a few more adjustments to make." I obediently get back into position as the dollmaker goes back to work. "By the way, Hina and I were speaking, and I was wondering if you would be adverse to my mother attending your trade show?"

I take a moment to parse this statement. "You don't mean Shinki, do you?"

She nods in confirmation. "Yes. Given her current... relationship with Yukari, there should be no issue with her coming to Gensokyo. Besides, I'm certain that she would bring some interesting goods to share."

"That sounds fascinating," I say honestly. Goods from Makai? A chance to speak with the ruler of that realm? How could I ever so no! "Sure! Please send her an invitation on our behalf!"

Alice smiles broadly. "I was hoping you'd say that! Now, just hold still, already!" This time, she brings the needles into play.

After suffering a bit more of Alice's intense work ethic, the outfit is finally completed, much to Hina's delight. I change back into my regular outfit (much to Hina's disappointment), and the three of us decide to head back to Mikami Shrine. As we leave, Shanghai waves sadly to the departing Sukuna, while Alice just stares at her doll in consternation. Sukuna waves back with a charming smile, but her expression quickly turns solemn and thoughtful as we continue the flight. Maybe something I said got through to her?

It's later in the afternoon when we finally get back home, and Hina immediately heads inside to seek out her fellow goddesses. Sukuna hops of somewhere to be alone with her thoughts. As for me, I take a moment to stretch out and enjoy the cool breeze. True autumn's on its way, huh? Heh, I bet the Akis will go nuts as soon as that happens. Should be good for business- hm?

Hey. Someone stuck a letter into the shrine's roof tiles. Who would do something like that? I almost didn't notice it. Or maybe it was meant to be seen by someone in the sky? Well, either way, I hover up and tug the letter out, frowning with thought as I unfold it. Who wold have-

Shameimaru.

Your visit to our village was noted, as were your activities. Know this. We will not suffer any form of sedition from you. Continue to foment discord, and we will act appropriately to end any threat to the Tengu's stability. Consider yourself warned.

You are always being watched.

The Wise Council of Tengu Elders.


......

Well.

Fuck.


Your feelings on this?

[ ] Anger.
[ ] Nervousness.
[ ] Dismissal.
[ ] Amusement.

ALSO: Current action?

[ ] Tell the goddesses about the note.
[ ] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'
[ ] Go find Sukuna, and see what she's thinking.
[ ] Screw it, I'm taking a nap.
[x] Mild annoyance
Who the hell do they think they're talking to.

[x] Tell the goddesses about the note
They'd wanna know about this
[x] confusion
why did they decide to stick it in the ROOF of all places
[x] tell the goddesses about the note
[X] Amusement.
[X] Tell the goddesses about the note.

Yeah, no. Not intimidating. We should certainly make a note of it, and continue to tread carefully, but at this point a passive-aggressive "WE ARE WATCHING YOUUUUUU" letter is about as scary as a cup of cold coffee.

It's not like, you know, we haven't known they've had their eye on us since the beginning. "Wise Council" my ass.
[x] Dismissal.
Lord Tenma has clearly shown he's inept, and he was once the greatest of the Tengu. The other Elders are probably just as useless. And it's not like we were keeping our visit to the village a secret. They might not even know anything, and are just being vague and trying to unnerve Aya.

[x] Tell the goddesses about the note.
Still, useless as the Elders are and inconsequential the "warning" note is, it was stuck into the shrine's roof, so it's only proper to let the Mikami know about it.
[©] Amusement.
It's taken them this long for the elders to do something? Pffft.
Also, why on the roof?

[®] Tell the goddesses about the note.
Yeah, why not?

>[ ] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'
...why do I have a funny feeling about this...?
Nah.
"the *wise* tengu elders"....think its time we rip that stick out of their asses.
[X] Nervousness for your people.
Worse case scenario elders panic and end up causing the Hakurei to Expel the Tengu from Gensenkyou.
[X] Tell the goddesses about the note.
Need advice
[X] Amusement.
-[X] Tell the goddesses about the note.
[X] Go find Sukuna, and see what she's thinking.

Being a non-native english speaker I recognized the word "sedition" but I couldn't quite place it, so I looked it up.
Apparently it is literally exactly what Aya is doing. ("Incitement to civil disorder against the state, usually in speech or writing". Doesn't get much more accurate than that.)

We can tell the goddesses that we got a letter from the elders, just to keep them in the loop, but right now we should see what's up with Sukuna.

Is it wrong that I kind of want the next story to be about Sukuna going around charming all the ladies?
The answer is yes, because clearly SukunaxShanghai is OTP.
[x] Amusement
[x] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'
[X] Amusement.

[X] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'

Sedition the watchers so they report nothing back.
[x] Anger.
[x] Tell the goddesses about the note.

Screw them. Seems like they won't bow down without a fight which means that they are probably rallying their troops against Aya already. Can't see this end without an exodus.
[x] Amusement.
Silly old farts. Have a good laugh, right where their 'watchers' can see.
[x] Tell the goddesses about the note.
They can laugh too.
[x] Amusement
[x] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'
[X] Amusement.
[X] Seriously? You were doing this sort of thing before they were even born.
[X] See if you can catch one of their "watchers".

Also, it may be time to confront the Council. It's one thing if they think they can throw social pressure at us, because they can. But throwing actual military pressure on Shameimaru Aya? We don't need our sword to ... explain to them why that is a bad idea.
[x] Amusement.
[x] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'

LET'S SHIT ON SOME NERDS
[x] Amusement.
[x] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'
-[x] Get the goddesses involved.

If there's one thing I've learned so far it's that Aya's ability to troll increases exponentially with Hina's presence.
[x] Laugh out loud.
[x] Theatrically tear the letter to pieces and scatter it to the winds.

We are being watched, remember?
[X] Amusement.
[X] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers.'

"Wise Council"? What a joke. Their own policies do a good job of fomenting discord. If they had any wisdom, they'd know what you get when you silence a critic: a martyr.
[X] Amusement.
-[X] Tell the goddesses about the note.
[X] Go find Sukuna, and see what she's thinking.

a token vote, considering anon's gotten into one of their moods.
>>27622
I'll agree with that, but only AFTER showing it to the goddesses for them to laugh at as well.
[x] Concern. Momiji, Hatate, and Ichiro are still in the Tengu Village.
[x] See if you can find any supposed 'watchers,' and interrogate them.

I'm voting my conscience.
>>27622
I was actually hoping for a vote afterwards where we copy the letter and show EVERYBODY.
Okay, tabulating votes. Aya will be reacting with amusement to the ridiculously pompous note, and will then let the goddesses in on the joke.
File 139794372375.jpg - (108.81KB, 850x600, close enough.jpg) [iqdb]
27632
I read the note slowly, carefully. My eyes pause over words like 'sedition,' 'discord,' and 'stability.' They linger over the term 'our village,' and an eyebrow quirks at the warning that I am always being watched.

Then I focus on the title, 'Wise Council.'

The 'Wise Council.' Of the tengu, that is.

Wise Council.

Wise

......

Snrk.

Pft.

"GWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" And then it all comes out, and I find myself rolling around on the ground laughing. Oh gods, this is just too much! I mean, look at this thing! It isn't a warning, it's a damned joke! What, did they read some trashy outsider novel and think this was how you make a threat?! 'Oh no, Miss Aya, you were actually talking to people in the village! That's very naughty, and we're going to wag our fingers at you in disapproval!'

Oh, and then there's the part where they say that I'm always being watched. By a group of paranoid information-gatherers with excellent eyesight. Or maybe voyeurism is more widespread among the tengu than I thought?

But the best part, the absolute best part was the whole 'Wise Council' shit. I mean, who gives themselves such a pretentious name?! Oh wait, a bunch of old farts lording it up in a mountain village, that's who! Sheesh, and most of those guys are younger than me, and totally disconnected from everything, to boot! I mean, why don't I give myself a silly, ludicrous title, like Aya the Incredibly Hot and-

Oh wait. Pure and Honest Reporter. I already did that sort of thing before. Well, now I just feel like a jackass. Still, fuck this letter anyway.

"Um, Aya?" I lift my head and see Shizuha looking at me in concern. "Is everything all right?"

I raise the letter in my hand and grin. "Special message from the tengu! It was stuffed in between a few of the tiles on the roof."

The leaf goddess gives me a strange look as she walks over. "The roof? Why the hell would it be on the roof?"

I shrug, "Probably a lazy crow thinking he was being sneaky. I'd say he just flew by at top speed and stuffed it wherever he could, and then flew off. Pretty lazy job, if you ask me."

Shizuha stares at me. "That's remarkably detailed. Speaking from experience, are we?"

I cough awkwardly. "Well, back when I was making deliveries, I got up late one day, and kinda had to improvise to make all of my deliveries on time, you know?"

The leaf goddess chuckles. "Somehow, I can just see it." Shaking her head, she takes the letter from me and starts reading it, frowning in concern for a moment before a stunned look of disbelief comes over her features. "The 'Wise Council?'"

"Yep," I grin, standing up.

"Of all the pretentious..."

"I know, right?"

She looks over at me. "Should we be concerned?"

I snort. "I all likelihood, the tengu have been watching this shrine since it was built. It's kinda what we do, and you are nearly on their front doorstep. I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over this."

"What's going on now?" Minoriko asks as she and Hina exit the shrine. Wordlessly, Shizuha hands them the note, and the other two goddesses pore over it. "Oh darn, now I can't do my naked harvest rituals," Minoriko says sadly.

"Naked what now?" I ask, suddenly interested.

"What, you've never heard of the naked fertility rituals to bless the land with divine favor?" Minoriko asks me with a wicked grin.

"No, but I wish to hear more about them," I say earnestly. "I think they should be a group affair, in fact. All three goddesses, their loyal shrine maiden, that sort of thing."

"Well, I'd tell you more, but I just made it up on the spot," Minoriko chuckles. "Too bad!"

"Must you toy with my poor, innocent heart?" I ask in a mock-wounded voice.

"It's incredibly fun!" Hina says cheerfully. "So, I take it we're not too worried about this?"

"I'm not," Shizuha replies. "If we aren't worried about Kanako, there's no reason to worry about the tengu elders, either. The way I figure it, they just can't afford to look bad by being an aggressor here."

"Kanako would come down on them like a ton of bricks," I note. "No, they can't do shit and they know it. This is pretty much the most pompous 'I'm very disappointed in you, young lady!' kinda note I've ever read."

"Maybe I'll randomly flip off the mountain, just to see how they react," Minoriko comments.

"Well, It's not like I don't close the drapes every evening anyway," Hina shrugs. "And that reminds me. Aya, hurry up and eat dinner with us."

"What's the rush?" I ask.

"You have an outfit to model," Hina says simply, spinning and walking back to the shrine. In her wake, Shizu and Mino give me a suspicious pair of glances.

"I would ask, but I don't particularly want to know," Shizuha comments. "I'm just glad you two keep it all private."

"Don't worry, Sis," Minoriko pats her sister on the back reassuringly. "Someday, we'll have nice men to dress up for. Or to make dress up for us! We're goddesses, after all."

"...I have been partial to butler uniforms," Shizuha says thoughtfully, walking back into the shrine. I just snort with amusement, and follow them. Dinner turns out to be a pleasant affair, as always, though Sukuna seems lost in thought during the whole event, and quietly excuses herself afterwards. Then I try on my new outfit for Hina.

Judging from her reaction, she likes it. I certainly like her reaction.

*****************************************

Early in the morning, before the sun even rises, I wake up, staring at the ceiling. Hina is curled up next to me, sleeping peacefully. I look over at her beautiful features, and run a hand gently through her hair. My dear goddess, who lifted me from the pit I was in, and made me into who I am today.

As much as I laughed off the elders' note yesterday, as ridiculous and pompous as it was, the message nevertheless triggered something deep inside of me. I can't help feeling a little protective of all that I have made here, after all. Of the family I now have. And if the elders really are plotting against us, as ridiculous as it sounds, should I make myself ready for them?

After a moment's hesitation, I gently kiss Hina on the eyelids before slipping put of bed, silently putting on a kimono and then leaving the room. I pad stealthily though the halls of the shrine in the early-morning light, my destination one of the storage rooms where my old possessions still sit. The ones that have yet to find a home in the shrine, that is.

Opening a large crate, I start moving aside old, yellowed novels and clothing I haven't worn in a century... not to mention some underwear that really needs to be burnt, ugh... and finally pull out a long, slender package wrapped in cloth. After a moment's hesitation, I undo the wrappings and stare at it's contents: a long, black sheath, holding a sword.

My sword.

...It's weird. I was expecting something when I picked this thing up. A flicker of awareness, maybe, from an item outraged at having been abandoned. An aura of menace and bloodlust, from all of the lives this thing has taken. But... nothing. It's just a nondescript, if well-made, piece of steel that happens to have an edge.

I put it on a shelf and stare at it, frowning in thought. I put away the sword long ago, sickened at the acts I had taken part in. But I have changed since then, and no longer see a sword as a destined weapon of death. Youmu and Sukuna both show that mastering swordplay doesn't doom you to a life as a blood-crazed madman, and if the elders actually are plotting against my shrine, then the extra weaponry could come in handy in protecting all that I love.

But then again, I may not really need it. I have my fan, and my mastery of wind magic. I'm pretty devastating just in hand-to-hand combat. And my speed is incredible, especially when I really get going. In the end, having a sword might just be redundant to me, and seeing me carry it around might cause some on the mountain to panic should they have any memories of my younger days.

I've thought about this before, but always deferred the decision until later. Now, I think the time has come to resolve this in my heart once and for all. So: to reclaim the sword, or to cast it aside forevermore? That is truly the question.


[ ] Practice with the sword.
[ ] Forget the sword.


Final call on this question. Previous votes on this subject were very close, so consider this the final word on the matter.
>>27632
>[ ] Practice with the sword.

We should probably confront our past. As should most of the Tengu, really - pretending that none of the bad stuff happens won't get you anywhere.

>seeing me carry it around might cause some on the mountain to panic should they have any memories of my younger days.
That might force some people to stop seeing Aya as just a perverted reporter, although I don't know how useful that would be.
[X] Practice with the sword.
[x] practice with the sword
[x] Forget the sword.

Sorry guys but I am against it.
[x] Practice swordplay with Sukuna.

It’s not like Aya’ll actually use that sword. What’s to worry about?
[x] Forget the sword.

Who needs swords, we have potato rituals.
[x] Forget the sword
-[x] Let the potato ritual give you the strength of starch!
[x] Practice with the sword.
>and seeing me carry it around might cause some on the mountain to panic should they have any memories of my younger days
And this is a bad thing, how? I for one would love to see the old fools trembling as they piss themselves in fear. Also do something foolish and get the shit kicked out of them. Also yeah, not picking up the sword means that we'd be the biggest hypocrite ever. Trying to make the tengu "confront" their past when all Aya is doing is precisely that. She used to be a murderer. If she cannot carry a sword at all because she's afraid she'd suddenly start tearing random people apart, what the fuck does she think she has the right to tell others about their avoidance of Truth?
[x] Practice with the sword.
[X] Practice with the sword.
--[X] Yes, I was once a murderer. I am no more.
--[X] And I won't take the easy way out by not giving myself the chance, either.
[X] Forget the sword.

In case you've forgotten, Aya's decision to not use the sword was basically the catalyst for the tengu to be a civilization instead of an unusually organized group of psychotic barbarians.

Drawing the blade again is basically declaring "Hey, everyone, I gave up on every last one of you." This is not how we make revolutions happen.
[x] Practice with the sword
[x] Practice swordplay with Sukuna.

The reason so many people didn't want Aya to train last time was because Aya thought Yuyuko might ask her to duel Youmu (which turned out to be unnecessary).

This time is very different. The tengu elders have threatened Aya, and threatened the Mikami. Here, I think violence is more warranted.
It would be beautifully symbolic if Aya used the thing that reminded her of the tengu's hideous depravity to defend herself against the elders. It would also be symbolic for Aya to use a traditional tengu weapon to do the same; showing that the tengu can become more than they are, using their weapons for a noble purpose.

I can understand if she doesn't train, though.
[x] Practice with the sword.

Also you should write more /at/.
[X] Practice with the sword.


>>27640
Well, the reason it's a bad thing is that if the elders "do something foolish and get the shit kicked out of them", it would likely be the spark to ignite a larger conflict, maybe not full out civil war but Aya is trying to minimize collateral damage as much as possible.
Panic always leads to collateral damage, and that is bad.


Voting "yes" to picking up the sword feels weird because I've been firmly against it until now, but...
As some others said, if Aya wants the tengu to deal with their past, the first tengu to do so has to be Aya herself.

All the other votes we've had about this have been people saying "we should pick up the sword and we can use it to do [whatever we were doing at the time]", which just didn't sit right with me. Picking up the sword for whatever cause we had, no matter how good, was just too close to simply bailing out on her decision to not use a sword ever again.

But picking up the sword now, under these circumstances, feels like a step forward in her character development, instead of a step back.
She's not picking up the sword to use it (although that might happen as well), instead she's picking up the sword because not doing so would be running away from the same ugly truth she wants the other tengu to open their eyes to.
>>27647

Nonsense. The thing I wrote on /at/ was an abomination. Never again.
>>27644
No, Aya not using a sword anymore was a parallel result of the event that caused the tengu to civilize (the massacre), but they're not directly related.
Aya's decision to drop her sword had nothing to do with the founding of tengu civilization. It was just her own way of distancing herself from that horrible event, just like Itchy decided to pretty much cast away his emotions.


>>27646
Eh, I wouldn't say that violence is warranted. We're trying to do this as peacefully as possible, after all.

I'd rather see it stay as a symbol than go back to being a tool of violence.
Not using it was a symbol of resistance against the tengu's violent nature, but picking it up again will be a symbol of her reconcillation with her past.
>>27648
>>27646
>>27643
You're voting to go back on the single most important choice Aya has ever made, which changed the course of tengu civilization forever, and you think you're arguing against running away from the past?

Leaving the sword behind isn't just running away from bad memories. It's a constant and ongoing announcement, that, no, might does not make right.

As for the argument that we need it for defense, Aya is the fastest thing in Gensokyo, and force equals mass times acceleration.
[X] Forget the sword.
She put the sword down for a good reason. Taking it back up would spit on everything she went through after abandoning it.

Besides, it might end up being taken as a hostile move and spark the assault we have been trying to prevent by taking the sword back up in the first place.

Remember: Scared. Old. Codgers.
>>27650
I'm pretty sure the massacre was actually well after that. Ichiro's description of the events leading up to the village massacre implied that the tengu were already civilized at the time, especially since the elders were so quick to declare a cover-up.
[x] Practice with the sword.

>and if the elders actually are plotting against my shrine, then the extra weaponry could come in handy in protecting all that I love.

That's as good a reason as you can get, I suppose. If it really comes down to it, defending Hina is far more important than Aya's oath. If the sword means the difference between keeping her safe and losing her, then we should take up the sword. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

But let's save actually using it as a last resort, okay? Practice is fine, but anything less than legitimate danger to the Mikami doesn't warrant it's use.
[x] Practice with the sword.
[x] Practice with the sword.
[X] Practice with the sword.

I think we should try a Rurouni Kenshin approach, honoring the past while moving forward.
[X] practice with the sword.
[x] Forget the sword.

Okay no. Taking up the sword again is the WORST POSSIBLE THING Aya could do right now. The second the Tengu see her with it, the Elders will go apeshit.
>>27632
[X] Practice with the sword.
[X] Forget the sword.

We already made this decision once, and it's no better an idea this time around. >>27651 has the right of it.

Take that damn sword and toss it into the deepest, fiery pit of the Former Hell.
It has been forgotten in the subsequent threads, but one of the things Aya and the Mikami were against is the idea of "might makes right" which is still a problem in Gensokyo. By taking back up the sword we are going against that.

Don't forget, the Elders and Lord Tenma are basically impotent, only riding on a wave of "tradition." With the trade show going on soon, if all goes as planned, they'll lose their power because the only thing they can do, banishment, no one will care about.
[x] Forget the sword.
[X] Forget the sword.

Seriously, no. The reasoning is very simple, here: Aya does not need the sword any longer. She was a different person back then. It IS good to look back on who you were so you can take a step toward who you can be but I don't see any merit in Aya taking the sword. Aya can diplomacy and if push comes to shove she's the fastest thing in Gensokyo, as far as I know. Let's leave this behind, folks. It isn't a piece of truth being hidden or locked away or forgotten it is just not something that need be carried anymore.
...you idiots.
[X] GET! THE! DAMN! SWORD!
[x] Practice with the sword.

More important than any oath are the people you love. Nevermind that the oath once sworn, ages ago, may no longer be valid given the circumstances of the present, there are other things to worry about, now.

Besides, there's nothing wrong with being too prepared.
>>27649
....we want more abomination then.
[x] Forget the sword.

Nope no, don't want this happening
[X] Forget using the Sword.
-[X] Clean it, and leave it in simple display.

Yes, we could use the sword. It would even be effective as hell. But it's not how Aya fights, these days. This said, I think it may be worth displaying the symbolism of that sword never being used again. Besides: a vague threat from pompous shits isn't worth going back on an oath we swore, even if it was mostly to ourselves.
[X] Practice with the sword
-[X] But not as a weapon.

The main goals that seem to be at odds here are acknowledging the past while rejecting it's violence. I believe that these two views can be reconciled by taking a similar approach to sword practice as many people do to tai-chi: as a meditative technique. This approach allows Aya to accept her past while removing the teeth from much of the symbolism of the sword. Since she would not be using it as a weapon, there would be no need for Aya to carry the sword with her on a daily basis.

The main disadvantage to this approach that I can think of is that people like Sukuna and Youmu might disapprove of this attitude.


Note to Keymaster: If no one else likes this idea, please count it as a vote AGAINST picking up the sword.
I don't understand the idea that Aya needs to start using a tool of war symbolically to "reconcile the past" or to not forget what happened. She seems to remember just fine without it. This isn't the kind of revolution we want.

[x] Forget using the sword.
-[x] But put it on display in Aya's room.

You think she needs to face it, well, there you go. There's nothing she needs to use it for.
[X] Practice with the sword.
[x] Forget using the sword.
[x] Practice with the sword.

Yeah, no question.
[x] Forget using the sword.
[x] Forget the Sword.

The damn thing is redundant. "BUT MY OPTIONS" One might cry, I say to you we have plenty already.

Swordplay as an art form? That's not our thing. That's Youmu's thing, and Sukuna's thing, but it's not OUR thing. Our thing is the truth. "So we'll cut to the heart of the matter" You might counter. We can do that already with wind and our fan.

Maybe you just subscribe to the idea that "Swords are cool." I say to you this is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

We abandoned the sword, and we don't need it anymore. To pick it up "Just in case" or "Just because" is pointless. It's not a special weapon by any means, either, and practicing with the blade means eating into our time anyway.

"But what if we need something to defend ourselves with in the shrine?" We have Hand-to-hand combat. NON-LETHAL hand-to-hand combat. It's much harder to kill someone with a fist than a blade. She's out of practice, so its likely there might be an accident in live combat.

"But what about the Tengu-" stop yourself right there. They are a JOKE. Kanako would wreck their shit if something were to happen. If it DOES happen, the political shit-storm that would follow would ensure that the entire council would lose credibility and be forced to abdicate.

That's just me though. If this changed your minds, more power to you. Like I said above, the sword's redundant. I see no point in picking it up.

"So why did you write this entire thing up then?" Because this is a big issue. I felt a need to contribute to the dialogue at hand
[x] Practice with the sword.

Picking it up isn't gonna turn her ax-crazy, and considering how "overcoming the past" seem to be a theme, picking it up and using it as a protective thing instead of a murder weapon would count.
[X] Forget using the Sword.
-[X] Clean it, and leave it in simple display.

You want Aya to face the past? She can do it without using the sword.
[x] Practice with the sword.
[X] Practice with the sword.
[x] Practice with the sword
[x] Practice with the sword

We don't even need to use the sword. What I like about this choice is that it would be sending the Elders a signal that we would be willing to go this far if things go out of hand.
Current total as of >>27685 (counting >>27672 as a vote against):

>[ ] Practice with the sword.
26
>[ ] Forget the sword.
17
>>27672
Why would Sukuna and Youmu disapprove?
I'm sure both of them understand the idea of practicing your sword form as a kind of meditation and even use it themselves on occasion.


>>27651
>Leaving the sword behind isn't just running away from bad memories.
But you agree that it is running away, then?
Just because it is a choice that has shaped Aya to be who she is today doesn't mean she can't look back at it and realize that even if it was the right choice at the time, it isn't for the best anymore.

And, again. Aya's choice to not swing a sword was not the catalyst that changed Tengu society. That was the massacre which led to Aya decision.
Correlation, not causation.


>>27678
>Swordplay as an art form? That's not our thing.
And why can't it be?
A few months ago, panty shots and invasion of privacy was Aya's thing.

>>27653
They were wearing the shape of animals as they ate the dead after massacring civilians. They might have been organized, but the weren't civilized.
>>27651
I don't see how the sword is a constant announcement that might does not make right.
Her decision to get rid of it was because "holy shit, what have we done? We're insane murderers!", not because of any ideal that you shouldn't force your will on others just because you're more powerful.
>>27686
yeah but proxies
>>27689
Please don't start making claims of cheating, this wouldn't be the first time that a decision like this pulled a ton of lurkers out of the woodwork in a Keymaster thread, and it likely won't be the last.
[X] Practice with the sword.

I'm all for PRACTICING with the sword, but I don't think we should just carry it around in our daily lives. If we carry it around, it'll show the elders that their message made us worry, even if it really just made us laugh. But a little practice, especially under the guise of being an art form, doesn't send that message.

Also, Keymaster, do you write in Notepad or MSWord? Or even some other program? I like your stories and writing, but I'm starting to find it hard to get past the spelling mistakes. Most of the time it's just one letter missing, but it still bothers me. It seems to be getting worse as time goes on, so either proofread before you post, or get someone else to do it. Please.
[x] Forget the sword.

Seriously, there's absolutely no reason to take up the sword again.
[X] Practice with the sword.

Disregard the haters.
Okay, I'm going to call the voting here and declare it in favor of practicing with the sword. Which, to assuage the worries of those against, is very different from carrying the sword around all the time, and using it as a first resort.

>>27692

I do proofread, actually. And I manage to get most of the spelling mistakes I make. But I just type fast by nature, and every so often one gets by me. Honestly, this is probably as good as it gets. Sorry.
>>27695
>Which, to assuage the worries of those against, is very different from carrying the sword around all the time, and using it as a first resort.

I thought this vote was supposed to settle this thing once and for all? Keep in mind you can't always please everyone, KM.
>>27696

The vote was for whether we ever take up the sword again. That's not the same thing as carrying it around everywhere and showing it off where it'll get negative attention.

See >>27655's sentiment.
looking back at this people seem to be confusing "practice with the sword" & "use the sword"
File 139802597239.jpg - (107.89KB, 850x531, prepared.jpg) [iqdb]
27699
Slowly, gingerly, I reach out and pick up my old weapon. Gripping the sheath in one hand, I take hold of the sword and start to draw it out from its confinement. For a moment, it doesn't budge. Frowning, I tug harder and the sword slowly is freed from its prison of centuries, allowing me to see-

Ugh.

Blood. Old, rusty blood. The remnants of it, anyway. A thick layer of brown dust, from where it has lain within the sheath for longer than I can clearly remember. Right, I didn't exactly clean this thing before stuffing it away, now did I? As I recall (faintly) I just stared at the blood-encrusted blade in horror before stuffing in in its sheath and throwing it in a corner. And later, stuffing it in a closet.

I wipe at the film of ancient blood with one finger, and it comes away in a thick layer of grime. Beneath the stains however, the metal actually seems to be in good condition. Heh, I guess even back then, Tengu craftsmanship was rock-solid. Too bad we only used it for war. Too bad we never developed our skills further.

I stare at the weapon in silence for a moment before picking up the sheath and walking out of the storage room, seeking materials. I find them after a moment; gloves, some fine cloth, a bit of rubbing alcohol and mineral oil. Taking the materials, I decide to go sit on one of the shrine's verandas as I work. There, under the watchful gaze of the mountain I once called home, I begin the process of restoring my blade.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yEDM-ogtBY Wish I could've found an Aya version)

It takes time. The steel is absolutely caked with filth, though it fortunately hasn't deteriorated any. Call it Tengu manufacture, or call it the natural magic of Gensokyo. Either way, as I work the ages of dirt and grime melt away, allowing me to polish the metal itself to a mirror sheen.

As the sun rises, casting its light over the land, I rise from my seat and hold the blade up to the sun's rays. It really is a nondescript weapon. The sword has no decoration, no artistry aside from the strength of its steel. However, that doesn't prevent the metal from gleaming like silver, so pure that I can easily make out my reflection in it. Crap, I have bed-head. Oh well.

This isn't a fancy weapon. It's pure utility, a sharpened piece of steel meant to cut. But such a thing is a tool, and a tool can be put to many a purpose. Be it to draw blood, or prevent the drawing of blood in the first place.

I stare down at my weapon of old for a long moment before holding it up to Youkai Mountain in a salute. Then I spread my wings wide and leap from the veranda, mounting the roof barefoot with a single flap. Slowly, I settle down into a ready stance. It has been so long; it takes me a moment to recall just how to position myself. I let the blade glide through the air, recalling its balance, the sound it makes. A shudder runs through me as the memory of spilt blood comes to me through the fog of centuries, the tang of iron in my nostrils making me sick-

No.

I will never again cut flesh with this sword. Metal, yes. Wood, cloth, that's fine. But I will never permit this blade to so much as make a scratch ever again. This is my vow.

I begin to move, ancient memories guiding me through routines that I had assumed I had long forgotten. But the body never forgets, even if it has changed over time. Less feathers, more skin. Less beak, more smile. That sort of thing. I let myself fall into a trance as I guide myself through strokes, thrusts, slashes, every movement just so, every motion precisely timed. Under the light of the rising sun, upon the roof of the shrine I call home, before the gaze of the mountain, I recall the skills I thought that I had cast aside for all time.

...But there is value even in such grim knowledge, and a tool such as this need not kill. A mental scenario, then. Say three crows dive out of the sky right now, blades drawn and seeking my blood. I fall into a ready stance, locking eyes with my nonexistent attackers. They dive in, edges seeking my vitals. I am faster, and my sword moves in a blur, knocking their own blades aside. In the same motion, I leap, launching two kicks precisely at the heads of two of my attackers, rendering them unconscious at once. With a flap of my wings, I lunge backward and drive my elbow into the face of my last assailant, knocking him to the ground as well.

Hina is watching me. That's fine. Now two wolves rush for my back, swords and shields ready. I whirl around and bring my sword down in a two-handed grip, shattering one shield in a single blow. I follow up with a high kick, that is as slow as molasses. Out of practice. The wolf has all of the time in the world to block it with his arm. No problem. I reverse, spinning low and knocking his feet out from under him, causing him to call back onto the roof. One more lunge, and my sword's butt slams into his face. He's down for the count.

Flow backwards, as my final nonexistent opponent thrusts at me. I dance backwards. Again. Again. Spin~. Dive forward and slash, but she jumps over me. Assume I have my fan. I bring the phantom fan out and wave it with my off-hand, creating a gentle morning breeze that in my mind's-eye becomes a crushing burst of wind, sending the wolf woman flying. I dash forward even as she falls heavily, and drive my knee down into her gut. My final opponent silenced. Only one figure left on the roof, and I dash for her as quick as the wind. Hina's eyes get a brief moment to widen in surprise before my lips meet hers at maximum speed.

Arm around the waist. Spin~. Dip her low, off-hand locking with hers. Sword raised protectively to guard against any who would dare to mar her fair skin. Wing raised to protect the sight of our love from any damned voyeurs on the mountain. I know what they're like. And my reward for this phantom victory: a very real kiss from my beloved.

This is how I guard my home, and my loved ones. By shedding not a single drop of blood. But by the Mikami, I punch like an avalanche.

After a long, deep, fulfilling kiss, I release Hina's lips, and she stares up at me with shining eyes. "Wow..." she breathes.

I smile back. "Remind me to get a new sheath made. I think the old one is too full of crap to be of any use."

"Wow..." Hina says after a moment, apparently beyond words. I just smile even more broadly in response. I think I can call this a victory~.

***********************************

"So you're going to use the sword again?" Hina asks me later, once we're both dressed for the day.

I look at the sword resting on the wall of my room. Just a piece of metal, albeit well-made, with no more meaning to it save for that which I choose to grant it. "I'm going to practice with it," I correct her. "It's how I redeem part of my past that I'm not too proud of, and how I make myself ready just in case."

"In case?" Hina asks me.

I nod. "In case." And say no more.

Hina walks up to me and puts her arms around my neck. "Apparently, it's also how you show off your legs." Right, I was wearing a kimono at the time.

But I just smile at my goddess. "You can look at my legs any time you want. If anybody else does, well, I don't give a shit."

Hina runs a finger up one of said legs, making me shiver. "You really do such a good job of showing them off-"

"We are RIGHT OUTSIDE your door!" Shizuha shouts at us, embarrassed. Hina and I leap apart as though stung. Whoops!

Minoriko sighs. "Eesh. They just can't keep their hands off of each other."

"I'd noticed, thank you," her sister mutters.

I cough awkwardly. "So! Um, you were saying that Yamame was planning to come over sometime this afternoon to discuss building plans?"

The leaf goddess nods. "That's what she said, anyway. How about you? What's on your agenda for the day?"



[ ] Visit the kappa.
[ ] Visit the underground.
[ ] Visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
[ ] Visit Myouren Temple.
[ ] Visit the Bamboo Forest.
[ ] Actually, let's get the advertising squared away.
[ ] No, let's deal with the tengu now, and deal with that hurdle.

Also, take anyone with you?
[ ] Specify who to accompany you, if anyone.
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.
-[x] Talk to Shou about war and peace (and that trade show thing).
-[x] Ask the friendly archmage who runs the place what she's been up to.
-[x] Fantasize about Nue, 'cause shapeshifters're hot.

That reminds me...

-[x] Bring Sukuna.
>>27700

> -[x] Ask the friendly archmage who runs the place what she's been up to.

And by that I mean asking what's Byakuren's been up to, lest Keymaster think I meant Shou (who we can ask personally anyway what she's been up to).
>>27695
>Okay, I'm going to call the voting here and declare it in favor of practicing with the sword.
FFfffff...

God damn it you guys. Well, can't do anything about it now, might as well move on to the next vote. Idiots.

[x] Visit Myouren Temple.
-[x] Talk to Shou about war and peace (and that trade show thing).
-[x] Ask the friendly archmage who runs the place what she's been up to.

[x] Bring anyone BUT Sukuna.
>>27702
Someones mad.
>>27702
Look, I voted against it too, but Keymaster made his decision, and I'm fine with it.

[x] Visit Myouren Temple.
-[x] Talk to Shou about war and peace (and that trade show thing).
-[x] Ask the friendly archmage who runs the place what she's been up to.
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.
[x] Just Hina

welp
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.
-[x] Talk to Shou about war and peace (and that trade show thing).
-[x] Ask the friendly archmage who runs the place what she's been up to.
-[x] Go with Shizuha

How about reversing the edge, ala Sakabatou? If it worked for Battousai, it can work for Aya.
[x] Visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
-[x] Bring Hina

Honestly I think the little inchling should stay put for her own good. Taking her too many places might have a counter productive effect.
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.

I'm sure they have some interesting things to show at the trade show as well.
I'm torn on who to bring, so I'll just leave that for everyone else to decide.


>>27702
How does namecalling do anything but make you look butthurt that your option lost?
Sometimes I agree with the majority, sometimes I don't, but the majority is still "right" because that's how it works.
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.

Simple.
>>27706

> How about reversing the edge, ala Sakabatou? If it worked for Battousai, it can work for Aya.

Now there's something to ask Byakuren about. Japanese swordsmiths were supposed to be both strong of body and pure of spirit, and Hijirin certainly qualifies there.

And now I'm thinking of her wearing nothing but a smith's apron, showing off her sweaty, curved muscles...
>>27710
Now you're thinking with a Tengu heart
[«] No, let's deal with the tengu now, and deal with that hurdle.
-[»] Head to Moriya Shrine, and tell Kanako it'd be better if she talked to the Tengu about the trade show, instead of Aya.
--["] See if there's anything else we can get her to do, like supervise the construction.

Obligatory tide-pissing vote. It's going to take a lot of time and effort for Kanako to convince the Tengu elders to do this, so we might as well get this over with now.
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.

This update was just beautiful. I had a tear form in my eye in more than one occasion while reading it.

Now, metagaming. The unrest on the mountain is now a thing. This means that we can talk about it without it being about Aya, just gossip about the mountain. The tengu opening up to the outside, specifically to humans, is valuable to Byakuren in the same way as the human village becoming more accepting of youkai. Even if we don't go into any detail about it, even if we don't even hint at it relating to us in any way other than physical proximity, I bet she'll silently support the movement. Of course, if she vocally supports it, then that's just another form of pressure on the elders, even if only indirectly.

Of course, someone coming by with a "black ship" to forcibly open the village's harbors would make our job easier...
[X] Actually, let's get the advertising squared away.

Good advertising will make things vastly smoother. The more people are aware of the trade show, the more people will show up - and we probably don't have time to inform everyone personally.

Also, I am incredibly glad that Keymaster has a proven dislike of consequences, because we just handed the Elders perfect material for a 100-percent-true smear campaign. "Aya Shameimaru can't be trusted to keep her word, details at eleven."
>>27717

> Also, I am incredibly glad that Keymaster has a proven dislike of consequences, because we just handed the Elders perfect material for a 100-percent-true smear campaign. "Aya Shameimaru can't be trusted to keep her word, details at eleven."

I really wish I would've seen this argument sooner, and more emphasized if it was posted sooner. It's certainly a more practical reason to not have practiced than "Symbolism!"
>>27717
It would be worse than "Aya Shameimaru, 'Pure' and 'Honest' Reporter"?
If they want a smear campaign, how about the fact that she bailed on her probation officer (she's most likely still on probation too, actually) after being released from lolicon labor camp. They don't even have to spin it, because it's 100% truth.

Besides, as far as I understand it, this was always a personal decision for her, not something she really trumpeted to the world.
>>27717
>>27719
Now that I think about it, it wouldn't be seen as a betrayal to the tengu in general, but it would be seen as a betrayal to the tengu who would support her, as long as she didn't cause any bloodshed. (Remember, Kyo, one of the wolves in Momiji's troop, liked Aya's goal, but was afraid of the tengu conflict turning into a civil war. Aya taking up the sword again might be seen as saying that she'll use violence to get what she want...)
[x] Visit Myouren Temple.
-[x] Ask Kanako if she wants to go.

I'm kinda upset that Aya's pretty much doing this by herself; I'd like to see Kanako pitch in, since she wants to see the Tengu change as much as we do.
Okay... so it's pretty clear that people want to go to Myouren temple, but no real consensus on who to take with Aya. Fuck.

Shizuha, Sukuna, Hina, and even Kanako each have one vote, but there are more votes with no listed character. So, I'm just going to call it for Aya going alone. Sorry, >>27722.
File 139811688545.jpg - (176.72KB, 850x1201, pad.jpg) [iqdb]
27725
"I think that I'll go pay a visit to Byakuren's crew," I say after a moment's thought. "There's a lot of possibilities for goods there. Besides, Byakuren's all about harmony, right? She should be all for a plan to make the tengu get along with everybody else."

"Just remember how we parted ways with her last time," Shizuha points out. "It was fairly amicable, but she may still want us to side with her on a more official basis. Be on the lookout for that."

"Eh, I'm sure it'll be fine," I assure her. "I'll just be polite but firm if she brings anything up. Besides, she may see the advantages of a completely separate religious goup being all for harmony between all peoples."

"Are you going alone, or would you like company?" Hina asks me.

I hesitate. A few ideas run through my head, several people I could invite with me. Hell, it even occurs to me to invite Kanako along with me, but that might cause a bit too many waves on the mountain. Finally, I shake my head. "No, I'll go alone. I'll be meeting with a major religious leader. Better not make it seem like we're too closely connected, lest we unnerve the elders too much. They probably already know about Yuyuko's support by now, and that probably bothers them enough as it is." I chuckle weakly. "Sorry... I'm bringing my own issues into the shrine, aren't I?"

Minoriko raises a hand. "Just a reminder: you're the reason the Mikami exist as we do in the first place. So don't sweat it, okay? Our problems are your problems!"

The other two nod in agreement, and I feel my heart warm a little bit at their words. It feels so good to have people who will back you up unconditionally. It feels good to have a real home, not just a house you live in.

I bid farewell to my deities and take to the sky, letting myself go at top speed for a little while. Gods, but I love the feel of the wind in my feathers! That feeling of freedom, of invincibility... my people weren't meant to be stuck on some stuffy old mountain, but to roam far and wide. We should be explorers and diplomats, maybe even traders. Instead, just look at us...

Eh, hell with it, there'll be time to mope later. Right now, I need to have a talk with the good people of Myouren temple, and see if they're willing to participate in my little piece of sedition, as the elders call it.

Soon enough, I touch down in front of the vast temple complex, which is bustling with activity. Well, sort of. It's a very serene, contemplative bustle. With a definite sense that more than a few people within want to just cut loose and go drinking. Thank the heavens my goddesses aren't really the restrictions type, and more the guidance type. Though I have to wonder what their prohibitions would actually be...

Again, never mind, lots to do around here. I make my way up the walkway towards the entrance to the shrine, where a figure with green hair and and a pink dress is happily sweeping the entryway. Add in the floppy ears, and it's pretty easy to recognize Kyouko Kasodani. It's just...

"WELCOME!" The yamabiko yells, causing my hair to fly back from the sheer force.

"...Must you yell?" I ask through the ringing in my ears.

"Well, sort of," Kyouko shrugs. "I mean, at first I was just getting into the swing of things, you know what I mean? And I was all excited, and wanted to greet everyone with all I had- which is a lot, with my lungs- and, well, the reputation stuck with me." She sighs. "When I started to greet people normally, everyone kept asking me what was wrong. I went back to full volume because I actually get less hassle from people this way."

"Folks just can't handle a change, huh?" I say absently.

"I guess not," the yamabiko sighs.. She gives me an odd look. "Um, why exactly are you looking at me like that?"

I raise an eyebrow. "Are you... padding your bra?"

Kyouko pats her stunningly enlarged cleavage. "Yes. Yes I am."

"...Why?" I ask in bemusement. "I mean, anybody who knows you would know better!"

The yamabiko snorts. "This is how I get back at Byakuren. She's being a jerk."

I nod in understanding. "The whole Choujuu Gigaku thing?"

She rolls her eyes. "I get lectured every single day about how inappropriate my music is. I mean, whatever! Mysty and I are just giving voice to the frustration of today's youth! Besides, we've got young humans coming around these days too, and they really add something to the performances. Kind of a stabilizing factor, you know? So, I'm doing my part to help human/youkai relations. So there."

"But how do the pads get back at Byakuren?" I need to know.

Kyouko chuckles. "Whenever she comes to lecture me, she just stops and gets this weird look on her face. Like she wants to say something, but is just too polite to do so. It's hilarious to watch her reaction, and in the end she always walks off without a word. Victory to me, as far as I'm concerned."

I laugh. "Nice one, Kasodani!"

She laughs in turn. "Hey, don't get me wrong! Byakuren's great and all, and I owe her a lot, but I gotta be me." Kyouko hesitates. "By the way, thanks for talking to Lyrica. I heard all about it. She's been going off the deep end ever since you-know-what, but I think when you and your goddess talked to her, it helped to snap her out of it."

I smile. "I'm just glad I could help. By the way, have you heard from Lily Black yet?"

"The fairy? No, why?"

"Well, she might be contacting you soon." I glance inside the temple grounds. "So, can I go in? I need to speak to Byakuren."

"Oh sure, I think she's available all day. Make yourself at home, and feel free to look around!" The yamabiko gestures me inside with a smile, and I accept her gesture with a nod.

So. Here I am inside the bustling Myouren temple. The question is, do I go seek out Byakuren directly, or talk to one of her subordinates first? I know there are a lot of youkai that pass through the temple on a daily basis.


[ ] Well, let's go talk to the boss-lady of the temple.
[ ] Actually, maybe I'll sound things out and talk to that tiger first.
[ ] Actually, I'll talk to that nun first. She might know what's on Byakuren's mind.
[ ] What about that ghost? Wouldn't she have some sunken treasure to sell?
[ ] Isn't that the local shapeshifter over there? What's she up to?
[ ] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.
[ ] I think I'll go talk to that mouse. She collects stuff, right?
[ ]


Please pick ONE.
[x] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.

Oh yay, Mamizou
> [ ]

You forgot to put something there; must be the Koishi option.
[x] Isn't that the local shapeshifter over there? What's she up to?

Must vote for this. Sorry.
[x] Well, let's go talk to the boss-lady of the temple.

Fuck yeah, Hijiri
[X] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.

Remember, the trade show is the main thrust of things. If any of the temple youkai have taken up useful or interesting crafts, Mamizou is likely to know.
[×] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.

Mami-Mami...

I'm not picking the blank one if it's Koishi. Gods, she's annoying!
[X] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.

Let's talk business.
[X]
[x] Well, let's go talk to the boss-lady of the temple.
[X] Well, let's go talk to the boss-lady of the temple.

I think talking to Mami is a great idea, but it might be more polite to find the head honcho first.
[x]

If I expect to be surprised, does it still count as a surprise?
[x]

who knues what's in store. Though that being said, we'll be lucky if we even get a chance to visit yamame.
[x]

Gotta vote mystery option. It could be anything!
[x]
[X] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.
[x] Wait. That tanuki is a businesswoman, and she sometimes hangs around here.
>>27738
I can imagine kogasa greeting you casually "sup" and then her getting her kicks anyway because you didn't expect that.

[x]
>>27729 Here. Changing my vote to

[x] Kogasa surprise!
[x] Well, let's go talk to the boss-lady of the temple.
-[x] She's a powerful magician, maybe she could make the sword non-lethal.
[x]

Mysterious mystery option of mysteries!


>>27747
Why? If we want non-lethal we have danmaku.
I mean, is anyone actually planning on having her using the sword for real?
Whoops! I already started writing, so I guess I should call this, huh? Just to keep me from having to scrap the update and start over. I'd hate to have to do that.
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With a shrug, I decide to walk through the temple grounds for a bit, maybe look around before heading directly to see Byakuren. The temple does have a reputation for being a fairly open place, and it's not like I'm in my official uniform or anything. Besides, maybe I'll look for that tanuki woman. Mamizou, or something. She's supposed to be a businesswoman, so maybe she would have a personal interest in a trade show. Plus, she's relatively new here, fresh from the outside, and I can't help but be a little curious.

As I walk through the grounds, idly watching what the various monks and lay-people are up to, I feel something. Something that I've learned to pay attention to over the long years. A bit of a tickle at the back of my neck, telling me that someone is watching me. It's a sense honed many years ago, back when I was still a warrior, and it's something that never really goes away. Something that even has more than a bit of use even for a reporter.

Casually, I scan the crowds, but see nobody paying me more than passing attention. So whoever it is happens to be very good at hiding. Very interesting. The question is, why? Is it a spy, tailing me after the threat I received from the elders yesterday? Or is it just someone from the temple, wondering what a rival priestess is doing here?

Well, maybe I can get whoever this is to show themselves. Idly, as though I'm just enjoying the scenery, I make my way over to the temple's gardens, a quiet area filled with lovely hedges and flowerbeds. It looks like an idea place to spend a day, though it seems deserted at the moment. The perfect place to approach someone in private. Or to seek out a spy. Closing my eyes, I prick my ears and listen for for any signs of movement-

Ah. Someone just touched down right behind me. That was fast. Opening my eyes, I turn around with a wry comment on my lips, ready for a clandestine meeting or not-so-veiled threats, whatever the case may be-

It's a giant fucking rabbit holding a basket with some kind of eggs in it. Who what why where when the fuck huh the fuck is this...

The rabbit reaches into its basket and holds out some colorful eggs. "Hey, birdy," a muffled voice comes from behind lips that don't move. "Wanna play Cadbury Bunny?"

I stare, open mouthed, my brain short-circuiting. What the fuck is cad berry, anyway?!

Then the rabbit giggles, a surprisingly feminine sound. I narrow my eyes at the figure. "Is that... is that a suit?!" I demand.

"Uh..." the rabbit suddenly goes stiff, its voice sounding worried. It looks from left to right warily. Then its mouth falls open, and a huge tongue reaches out and licks me in the face.

......

"GRAWHAGAHHHGGHHH!!" I scream incoherently, falling to the ground. The rabbit starts to laugh joyfully in response. "Who the fuck are you?!" I shriek, my brain short-circuiting from all that has happened over the past thirty seconds.

"I'm Koishi Komeiji!" The rabbit declares happily.

My eyes narrow. "First of all, I tried to interview Koishi Komeiji a while back. It went poorly, but I remember her voice perfectly. You sound nothing like her. Secondly, since when does Koishi Komeiji have a giant tongue?"

"Um." The woman in the stuffed rabbit suit hesitates for a moment. "Crap. I knew the tongue was pushing it too far." She reaches up and pulls off the head of her suit, revealing a blue-haired girl with red and blue eyes. Also, she has some sort of umbrella running up her back, which looks for all the world to be smirking at me.

I blink in confusion as I get to my feet. "...Kogasa Tatara?"

"Surprise!" the girl cheers. She sucks in a shuddering surprise. "Ohhh, yeaaahhhh, feel that surprise, baby."

I pause, taking a moment to consider the situation. "New technique?" I guess.

The karakasa grins broadly. "Yep! I've been trying non-conventional tactics lately, and it's been going really well. I'm surprising people left, right, and center now!"

"Where'd you come up with this one? And what the hell is a whatever rabbit?" I can't help but feel curious.

"Oh, it just came to me one day," Kogasa replies. "As for the Cadbury Bunny, I dunno. It's some sort of weird rabbit/bird hybrid from the outside that lays chocolate or something. The idea struck me funny, is all."

I make a face. "The Outside is all kinds of screwed up."

"Yeah, but it gives me plenty of ideas!" Kogasa says brightly.

I smirk. "Got anything else in your repertoire for me?" I ask. I can't help it; curiosity has won this day in my mind.

Kogasa gives me a broad grin. "I'm glad you asked!" The karakasa wriggles around, loosening her rabbit suit which falls around her and oh god what the fuck.

Kogasa isn't wearing much. Tight hot pants. A tight, abbreviated shirt. It does nothing to hide the fact that this girl is packing some serious curves. I mean, damn! If I weren't a committed crow, I might actually make a run for this youkai. Just think what she could do with her tongue... Wait, where did Kogasa of all people get curves like this?!

The karakasa sucks in another shuddering breath. "Yeaahhhh, feel that surprise. Gotta love it."

I slowly raise a finger to point at her. "...Since when were you built like that?" I ask.

"Since always." Kogasa strikes a pose and winks cheekily. "Surprised?" I have to admit that I am.

This is when Byakuren walks around a hedge, smiling. "Aya!" The nun says pleasantly. "I heard you were here, and-" Then she sees Kogasa. It's kinda hard to describe her expression at this point. The smile is still there, of course. Along with a bit of surprise at this situation. But there's a sort of weariness to it as well, like Byakuren just wants to groan and say 'oh gods, now what,' but is just too polite to do so.

Kogasa, after a moment of frozen horror, manages to rally and wink at the mistress of Myouren Temple. "Hiya, Byakuren."

"...Kogasa, dear?" Byakuren says gently. "Please go get dressed. I need to talk to Aya for a moment."

"Um. Yes'm," Kogasa says awkwardly. Scooping up her rabbit outfit, the karakasa beats feet out of there, leaving me alone with Byakuren, the nun still having that fixed smile stuck to her face.

"Welcome to Myouren temple," she says weakly. Poor Byakuren.


[ ] Well, straight to business.
[ ] ...Youkai giving you trouble?
[ ] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
[X] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.

If nothing else, I think Aya might need a minute.
[x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.

>>27751
>If nothing else, I think Aya might need a minute.

We ALL need a minute. Loving the Kogasa surprise, though.
[x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.

Well now. God-damn.
[x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
[X] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.

Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and so on and so forth.
[X] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.

Kogasa is always worth it.
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[x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
I know I would.
Keymaster, I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

[ ] Pull the ever-so-adorable Kogasa into a tight hug and don't let go. (I wish.)

[×] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
[x] "So...what's new with you?"
[x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
[x] ...Youkai giving you trouble?

Shapely Kogasa is always a nice surprise.
[ ] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
[ ] Ask Byakuren if she could give you a minute.
No update today, on account of today sucking. However, I can tell you that the vote is clearly called for [x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.

But I will say this. The next update was going to have some Mamizou, but it seems like people enjoyed my take on Kogasa. So, I'm gonna leave it to you who appears in the next update.


[ ] Mamizou Futatsuiwa
[ ] Kogasa Tatara
[x] Kogasa Tatara

This please
[X] Kogasa Tatara
[X]that raccoon dog
[x] Mamizou Futatsuiwa
[x] Ask Byakuren if she needs a minute.
[x] Kogasa Tatara
[x] Kogasa Tatara

I wonder if she'll meet a nice person
>>27768
Oh, that's no fair! We have to choose?
Why can't we just have Mamizou surprise Aya with her transformation skills, with Kogasa watching?

Here, I'll make it easy for you: Kogasa tells Mamizou to disguise herself as the Easter Bunny. Easter Bunny!Mamizou walks up to Aya, and Aya goes, "That won't work on me a second time, Kogasa." Kogasa then pops out of nowhere, going, "Who're you talking to?" Aya gets surprised by Kogasa, then by Mamizou as she transforms back. Insert celebration between the two of them, perhaps involving a high-five and a butt-bump. As they leave, Aya turns around to see Byakuren looking like she'll blow a gasket. Boom.

[×] Down for double: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWupeqhBoJE
>>27777
I really like this, but if we HAVE to choose,
[x] Kogasa Tatara
[x] Kogasa Tatara
[x] Kogasa Tatara
I've never liked Mamizou. It must be the grandma glasses and the tail.
[x] Mamizou Futatsuiwa
[X] Kogasa Tatara

Not that I dislike Mamizou. Hell, she's my main in 13.5, but I have to stick with the umbrella.
[X] Kogasa Tatara
[x] Kogasa Tatara

Never enough Kogasa.
[x] Kogasa Tatara
[x] Kogasa Tatara

The New Youkai Moe~
God, today was long. Anyway, I am unsurprisingly calling the vote for Kogasa! Which is a bit ironic, if you think about it.
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I give Byakuren a sympathetic look and pat her gently on the shoulder. "Do you need a minute?" I ask softly. Poor Buddhist. All she ever did was try and bring peace and harmony to Gensokyo. An admirable goal, really, but kinda missing the fact that the average youkai can be an awfully lively being. The way I hear it, recidivism rates at Myouren temple are pretty damned high, and it's all Byakuren can do to keep her followers on the straight and narrow. Not that she isn't having any success, mind you. But I can only imagine how difficult it is to run around and keep everybody in line.

The nun sighs. "I... yes, actually. Kogasa is a sweet girl, really she is, and I'm so glad that she's gotten more assertive as of late. But everyone at the temple has been a tad more excitable than normal of late, and it's been a little exhausting. And it's still only the morning."

I wince. "Sounds rough."

"Oh, no no no!" Byakuren exclaims quickly. "I don't mean to be hard on everyone, or anything like that! It's just that, with Nue's little... interest, Ichirin's hobbies, Nazrin's enthusiasm for her chosen vocation, and Shou's... recent issues, and everything happening all at once this morning... well, it's been an exhausting start to the day." She laughs weakly, but pleasantly. "Kogasa's little display was something of the straw that broke the camel's back, I fear."

"So, that's a 'Yes' to giving you a minute?" I say with a grin.

The nun nods. "Can you give me a half-hour? Then come find me in my chamber. I look forward to speaking with you once again, Miss Shameimaru!" Looking composed once more, Byakuren turns and serenely heads back into the main shrine. I have to give the woman credit; she's a lot tougher than me to deal with all that she does on a daily basis. Still, she does seem to get results. It's just that many of her followers need a bit more attention than your average human would.

At that moment, Kogasa the karakasa peeks her head around a hedge, looking guilty. "Oops. I think I upset her."

I jump a little bit at Kogasa's sudden appearance (making her seem momentarily pleased), but recompose myself and wave her off. "Nah. I'm sure Byakuren understands that you gotta be who you gotta be. I mean, it's not like you're hurting anyone or anything! It sounds like she just had a busy morning."

"Well, yeah," Kogasa acknowledges, walking over to me. She's still dressed in her eye-catching outfit, and I swear that she bounces more than Yamame ever did. A petite girl with curves. Nice. "I know that folks here at Myouren temple can be pretty eccentric. I'm just grateful to Byakuren to putting up with all of us. I kinda think she overdoes it, though."

"Maybe," I say with a nod. I find myself checking Kogasa out, but I don't feel too bad about it; Hina would probably be getting an eyeful if she were here, too. "Anyway! It looks like you found a foolproof way to surprise folks, huh?"

"Ehhhhh," the karakasa looks a bit uncomfortable. "I guess. I just try not to overdo it too much. I mean, if word gets around too much, the surprise will wear off, and I don't want to send the wrong message about myself..."

I snort. "Kogasa, baby, there is nothing wrong with a woman showing a little pride in herself. I mean, if you've got it, flaunt it!"

"Well, the clothes I wear usually don't show things off," she giggles, "And I do like getting the attention! It's just... not necessarily the kind of attention I want, you know what I mean?" At my curious stare, Kogasa sighs and continues. "The guys... and some of the girls... give me this look like they wanna gobble me up. It kinda puts me on edge as much as it flatters me. I mean, all I want is for someone to hold me tight and let me protect them from the rain, you know?" She pauses. "Er... it's an umbrella thing. You wouldn't understand."

Wrong. "In other words, the poor little umbrella just wants some attention and appreciation, huh?"

She shifts awkwardly. "Heh. Yep. I guess so."

I lay a hand on her shoulder. "You're in good company," I say quietly.

The karakasa locks eyes with me for a long moment. "You too?"

"Well, formerly," I say, voice still low. "But I know a few others with the same issue. I think it's a lot more common in Gensokyo than most are willing to admit, honestly." I shake my head. "But, okay. Leaving aside that you're not sure how much you wanna flaunt yourself, you are still looking good, girly!"

Kogasa actually puffs up a little bit, which does wonders for her bust and is a little hard on her shirt. "Thanks! I never really thought about it, but I was talking to Sanae Kochiya and she said I had 'game.' I had to ask her what she meant, but I guess I'm more attractive than I thought!" She giggles. "Anyway, I've been experimenting with a bunch of things ever since. Maybe all that I needed was a boost of self-confidence after all. But yeah, the surprise pose always gets a good response. I've been thinking about stuffing my shorts with a few pieces of cloth, just to get a stronger reaction."

I freeze. "Which side?"

Her grin is wicked. "Oh, I dunno~. Which side do you think would surprise people more?"

I can't help but laugh. "You. You are a very devious umbrella."

She just laughs. "After struggling for so long, I finally found my niche! Or, well, I'm still carving it out. It's a work in progress."

Carving. Hm. Lonely, yet lively girl, great body and personality, fan of ambushes... maybe I should introduce her to Yamame? Maybe she could help the spider work even on a rainy day. Well, something to think about, in any case.

"Well, I gotta go!" Kogasa says, walking away. "This time of day I usually stake out the graveyard and spook people coming by. It's great for a surprise, ya know?" With a final wave, the karakasa cheerfully skips away. Damn. If I didn't have a lovely goddess who had thoroughly mapped out all of my most sensitive points, I would be seriously tempted.

I have to give the little umbrella credit. For somebody who started life as an unwanted, discarded object, she's certainly done well for herself. But I can't help but feel a little bit of kinship with her. It's hard to feel unwanted, and very difficult to shed that feeling. I can think of a few companions of mine who know the feeling all too well.

And yes, I know it very well myself.

I have a quiet walk in the gardens for the next half-hour, getting my thoughts in order before going to meet with Byakuren. Finally, I wind up making my way through the hallways of Myouren Temple until I finally come to the personal chambers of Byakuren herself.

"Enter!" the nun calls out at my knock, and I let myself in. Byakuren's personal chambers are about as sparse as you'd imagine, with the only 'luxury' being a large desk and a chair. Even that's probably a necessity for running a large temple. Aside from a few austere wall hangings, the office is otherwise fairly barren. Aside from Byakuren herself, who is far more composed than she was earlier, and seems to radiate peace and serenity. She pretty much takes up the room all on her own.

"Welcome, Miss Shameimaru," my host says, rising to greet me. "How can Myouren Temple help you today?"


[ ] Straight to business: talk about the trade show.
[ ] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.
[ ] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

The day is still young and pleasantries never killed anyone. Additionally, it's an opportunity to build a rapport before we bring out the reason for our visit, predisposing her to view us in a positive light.

I prefer bringing her in on the truth because it genuinely is something she would support. An opportunity to open up one of the most isolationist communities in Gensoukyou, giving otherwise segregated youkai a chance to break tradition and mingle with humans?

She should be all over us.

It also allows us to bind her closer to us without hurting our interests. We could use that in the future.
[x] Ask her about her morning.

I know we sorta already know, and that we're here for business, but I just have to know about Nue's...interest and Shou's...recent issues.
[x] Ask her about her morning.

Because I really want to hear about:

>Nue's little... interest, Ichirin's hobbies, Nazrin's enthusiasm for her chosen vocation, and Shou's... recent issues
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

Both of these things! Also, I for one am 100% all over setting Yamame and Kogasa up.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

Small talk before business, not to mention I'm sure we're all honestly curious what that was all about.

Maybe not so much "setting up", but introducing Kogasa to Yamame would be a good idea. (And who knows where it might lead, hmmm?)
Spidie needs more friends topside anyway.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

That's exactly the plan we need here. Let's do it!
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.
[x] Ask her about her morning.
[x] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

Okay.
[X] Ask her about her morning.
[X] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

Seems good.

Also:
>I was talking to Sanae Kochiya and she said I had 'game.'
>Kogasa
>Sanae
>game
I shat about three bricks before remembering what story I was reading.
If that was intentional, well done.
[x] Ask her about her morning.
[x] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.
[x] Ask her about her morning.
[x] Let her in on the truth behind the trade show.

Not sure how well Kogasa and yamame would go together as I think Yamame's interested in someone not so innocent.
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(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oda8FEbhDEY)

I chuckle easily, taking a seat in the chair opposite Byakuren."What, can't a humble Tengu priestess visit the neighbors without everybody thinking that something is up?"

"We're always happy to have your company here," Byakuren chuckles.

I give her a sympathetic smile. "I hope I didn't come at a bad time. It sounds like you had an awfully busy morning."

Byakuren's smile doesn't disappear, exactly. It just gets a very tired cast to it. "Oh, these things always happen. When you run a temple with a sizable youkai population, one must always be ready to deal with the latest problem. It's just that multiple problems cropped up this morning, and, well..." the nun shrugs helplessly.

"Care to unburden yourself?" I offer. "Trust me, while I still believe deeply in the Truth, I've gained a bit more appreciation for peoples' privacy. Anything said stays between us."

Byakuren chuckles in amusement. "Is a rival priestess offering to help me unburden myself?" she asks in a teasing tone of voice.

"Why should we be rivals?" I ask. "It's not like we're stomping on each other's toes. Besides, if you can't trust an emotionally-damaged, reformed Tengu pervert, who can you trust?"

"I've put my faith in worse," Byakuren admits. She sighs deeply. "I love each and every one of my followers. Truly, I do. But their eccentricities can, at times, be awkward to deal with. First of all, there's little Nazrin. Nazrin hunts for treasure, it's what she does. Unfortunately, she seems to have taken some pages from the Marisa Kirisame book of treasure hunting."

I wince. "Borrowing and forgetting to return?" I suggest.

"Something like that," the nun agrees. "I have to keep an eye out for her stashes of goods, and then return the items to their rightful owners. Hopefully this is just a phase. Then there's Ichirin." Byakuren gets an odd look on her face. "Now, Ichirin is a perfect nun, don't get me wrong. There are few I would trust more than her. It's just that... her hobbies are starting to get out of hand."

"Hobbies?" I press.

"...Have you ever heard of the 'magical girl' style of entertainment from the outside?" Byakuren asks me.

"Um, yes?"

"Ichirin has become a fan of it. She has taking to dressing up as a magical girl in private, complete with poses and war chants, and even has duels with Futo Mononobe of the Taoists, who has a similar hobby. She was being a bit... loud about her practice this morning." Byakuren says all of this with a straight face. "Poor Unzan is beside himself."

I stare. "What."

Byakuren presses on. "Then there's Kyouko and her insistence on being a part of that so-called band of hers, Kogasa you already saw, and then there's Minamitsu." She sighs. "Poor Minamitsu has taken to hiding in ponds and sinking little plastic ships, she's so desperate to sink something. Also, she keeps putting forth recommendations for Myouren temple to build a public swimming pool so that she can drown people. For meditative reasons, she called it. Really, she's like a drug addict desperate for a fix these days..."

"Um." I'm a bit lost for words at this point.

Byakuren stares at the ceiling, letting it all pour out. "Shou has gone into another one of her seasons, which is fine, she has herself firmly under control, but her pheromones are driving some of the male youkai up the wall. She's started to douse herself with perfume to compensate, and it leaves some of the hallways almost chokingly fragrant."

"Wow," I say numbly. This is what Byakuren has to deal with?

"And then there's Nue." The nun pauses. "Nue has fallen in love, which is sweet. She does not know how to be in love, however, and has taken to stalking the poor young man. Also, writing poetry. Very, very bad poetry. Nue claims that I just don't understand the pain in her heart."

I stare in silence for a moment. "What about that tanuki?"

"Mamizou?" Byakuren shrugs. "She only comes by to do business, and that's about it. Mamizou is actually fine, just the kind to drive a hard bargain. Which is admittedly a trial in and of itself." She smiles weakly. "That was my morning. How about you? What have you been dealing with?"

"The stubborn refusal of my people to enter the modern era, and their insistence on pushing away any and all who might befriend them," I say evenly.

Byakuren nods sagely. "Then you have your own trials to deal with," she notes.

"Yeah. So, we at Mikami Shrine are planning to have a trade show in the shadow of Youkai Mountain," I say, deciding to get to the heart of the matter. "All beings in Gensokyo are invited to show their wares and peruse those of others."

Byakuren sits up straight, a bit startled at the sudden change of topic (or so she thinks), but intrigued nonetheless. "I see. Can I assume that we of Myouren Temple are invited as well?"

"Of course!" I nod. "I'd prefer to keep it a bit on the secular side, showing goods and crafts instead of advertising faith, but I understand that that could only go so far. My feeling was that your temple could offer a diversity of goods."

"And we would be delighted to attend!" Byakuren exclaims, looking excited. I can see a glint in her eyes of plans being laid already. But not the plans that would threaten the Mikami, I wager; just normal plans to make a good amount of money and show off a little bit, the same as anyone else. In the end, I can't help but regard Byakuren as one of the more trustworthy souls in all of Gensokyo.

"Of course, the true purpose of this endeavor is to try and get my people off of their mountain," I finish. "Kanako's already in on it. As a matter of fact, the trade show was even her idea."

This gets Byakuren's full attention. The nun stares at me, shocked, before leaning forward with clasped hands. "Please tell me more," she says.

And I do. I tell her of the tengu's bloody history, of a people that became so horrified of their crimes that they hid themselves away on their mountain, hiding away even from their own past. "My people reacted very poorly when they finally awoke to their own bloodthirsty nature," I say seriously. "And they did whatever they could to curb it. And it worked, for a while."

"But they stopped changing," Byakuren says in understanding. "And they have remained in stasis for centuries."

"Precisely." I sigh. "There are others who risk ostracism and exile from a society that is fundamentally intolerant. It isn't good for us, to be confined on a mountain like that. Our society, in which we once held so much pride, is turning stagnant. No, has been stagnant for as long as I can remember. And I hate seeing my people reduced to this, Byakuren. They have to see how much they are missing out on, how far the rest of the world has come. It's the only thing I can think of that might persuade them to finally act, and not just strut around on the mountain, deluding themselves into thinking that things will never change."

"Tough love," Byakuren says grimly. "Sometimes those you care about need a hard slap to realize that they have erred."

I sigh. "Yeah, that about sums it up. The tengu have got to wake up. That's why I'm really doing this. Everything else is just gravy." I give the nun a long look. "We rejected your offer of alliance that one time because we were worried about getting too involved in politics before we were ready. And also... we were worried about getting subsumed by Myouren Temple." Byakuren nods solemnly, understanding. "But all that aside, we've always respected your goals. And we agree with them; Mikami Shrine benefits from having both human and youkai visitors. But at the end of the day, you're the expert at integrating disparate cultures in our Gensokyo. That's why I'm being open with you about this."

Byakuren smiles at me, a very gentle and... human smile, somehow. "I rather suspected your reasoning all along. That's why I didn't press you over it. But I couldn't help but feel a bit of kinship with you nonetheless. In your actions, you supported my beliefs, even if you kept yourselves separate. But never mind that. As you might suspect, I support your agenda with all of my heart." She folds her hands. "Is there any way that I can help you? Or is our presence at the Trade Show sufficient?"


[ ] Ask Byakuren for help (write-in)
[ ] Just showing up is fine.

If leaving the shrine, choose one of the following:

[ ] Visit the kappa.
[ ] Visit the underground.
[ ] Visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
[ ] Visit the Taoists.
[ ] Visit the Bamboo Forest.
[ ] Actually, let's get the advertising squared away.
[ ] Let's deal with the tengu now, and deal with that hurdle.


(Yeah, I forgot to put down the Taoists as an option earlier. Oops. Feel free to remind me if you feel anyone else should be up there.)
[×] Ask Byakuren for help.
-[×] "If you know anyone else who'd want to do business at the show, would you let them know?"
-[×] "Is there any chance you could help us advertise?"
-[×] "Do you mind if I talk to anyone else, see if they'd have something they'll want to sell?"

I kind of want to see delegates from all over Gensokyo actively help with the construction (just for the heck of it), but ehh...

Also,
> "Ichirin has become a fan of it. She has taking to dressing up as a magical girl in private, complete with poses and war chants, and even has duels with Futo Mononobe of the Taoists, who has a similar hobby."

You don't know how much the corners of my mouth turned up at this. I don't want to leave without tossing a, "tsuki ni kawaitte oshioki yo" to Ichirin.
Best Youkai Jesus.
[x] Ask Byakuren for help (write-in)
General advice would be good.

As for the various sidequ- I mean, issues that Byakuren is facing:
>Nazrin
Hire out her services finding lost items for people?
>Ichirin
Stage shows for the kids of the village?
>Kyouko
Byakuren just needs to deal with it.
>Murasa
Sounds like someone needs a Battleship set.
>Shou
Sleepover at Kasen's place?
>Nue
Uh. Yeah. Byakuren's on her own with that one.
[X] Ask Byakuren for help
-[X] "Could you help advertise this? The more people come to the trade show, the better."
lets visit the Taoists.
[×] Ask Byakuren for help.
-[×] "If you know anyone else who'd want to do business at the show, would you let them know?"
-[×] "Is there any chance you could help us advertise?"
-[×] "Do you mind if I talk to anyone else, see if they'd have something they'll want to sell?"

We could probably benefit from sticking around here for a but more, but afterwards I feel that we should visit the Ladies Scarlet. We may or may not be able to get their help, but I think it would be a good idea to at least let Reimu know that the elders might pitch a fit, which could potentially turn into an incident given the parties now involved.

Also Meiling. We should probably thank her for everything. Just saying.
[x] Ask Byakuren for help.
-[x] "If you know anyone else who'd want to do business at the show, would you let them know?"
-[x] "Is there any chance you could help us advertise?"
-[x] "Do you mind if I talk to anyone else, see if they'd have something they'll want to sell?"

>>27811

[×] Offer Byakuren help.
>Nazrin
[x] “She could hire herself out to find things for people rather than from them.”
-[x] “If that doesn’t work, find her a fairy to marry. It mellowed out Marisa.”

>Ichirin
[x] “Get her and Futo to stage shows for the kids in the village. Get Sanae in on the act and make it an interfaith thing or something.”

>Kyouko
[x] “Is there anything about Kyouko’s music that’s against your beliefs, or is it just noisy?”
-[x] “She told me it’s about 'the frustration of youth.' Maybe you could ask her what’s frustrating her.”
-[x] “Oh, and how come her padded bra scares you off so much?”

>Minamitsu
[x] “Uh… start a manzai duo with her? Maybe also include Unzan so he’ll have something to do. You could joke about, I don’t know, you opening a mouse cafe or Minamitsu buying a wedding pon-de-ring.”

>Shou
[x] “Couldn’t she date some guy from the village? Y’know, peaceful human-youkai relations and all that? Plus, I bet she’s a tiger in bed.”
-[x] “Speaking of which, has she taken an interest in you? You two are close, right?”
-[x] “If none of those seem like good ideas then Kasan seems like a good partner; I know she was certainly interested in finding companionship.”

>Nue
[x] “Her talent’s shapeshifting; have her focus on that and nobody’ll be able to resist her.”
-[x] “Who’s the lucky guy she’s after?”

If leaving the shrine:

[x] Visit the Taoists. They’re nearby and Miko’s been left out of this fic.

>"Mamizou?" Byakuren shrugs. "She only comes by to do business, and that's about it. Mamizou is actually fine, just the kind to drive a hard bargain. Which is admittedly a trial in and of itself."

She does have a pro-youkai agenda, though, if Forbidden Scrollery is any indication.
>>27816
Hard to say how closely Keymaster follows that, especially since there's been a major slow down in chapters scanlated.

Though I have doubts about pairing up Shou and Kasen just because they're lonely.... or if another woman would actaully get her out of that state.
>>27817

>Hard to say how closely Keymaster follows that, especially since there's been a major slow down in chapters scanlated.

Shouldn't have to be too closely, that chapter was scanlated and even summarized: http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Forbidden_Scrollery#Volume_One_Bonus_Chapter_-_A_Youkai_Fairy_Tale
>>27817

Well... I've gone through both Wild and Horned Hermit, and Forbidden Scrollery, just to keep caught up. I kinda liked WaHH, but that may just be because I like Kasen. FS was kinda meh, as far as I'm concerned. Just my opinion, though.
File 139855111352.jpg - (158.77KB, 566x800, shes missing out.jpg) [iqdb]
27821
I shrug. "Since you're offering, who am I to turn down help? I was planning on getting Nitori Kawashiro to print out some flyers, or maybe run ads in the Kakashi Spirit News, but do you think you could help out with the advertising?"

Byakuren nods. "We can make sure to spread the word to anyone we can. Word of this will certainly spread throughout the temple populace, I can assure you, and we will inform as far as possible!"

I nod. "Thanks. And while you're at it, can you let anyone else who'd want to do business at the show know of it? I've already talked to Alice Margatroid and the Kirisames, and I've arranged to get word sent down to Makai. I also want to get word to the kappa, the underground, the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Eientei... and of course Minoriko has already spoken with some human merchants."

"...Then of course there are the Taoists," Byakuren says neutrally.

"Yes," I admit. "And then there's getting the tengu to actually attend."

The nun thinks it over for the moment. "I have heard that your people hold a sort of superstitious dread of the Oni. What do you have to say to this? Will the Oni be attending?"

"I'm not sure yet. I need to think it over, and maybe speak with a few representatives from the underground. Though personally, I think my people need to face their fears, and they really need to see what the Oni have been up to."

"My advice?" Byakuren comments, "Have the Oni arrive later, when the tengu are already committed. Then they'll be obliged to see what those from below have wrought."

I nod, intrigued at the idea. "Yeah... that's actually a good thought, Byakuren. Thanks!"

She smiles politely. "Not at all! And I will be sure to relay your words to the others. I'm certain that many from the temple will be very interested in your fair."

I nod again. "I'm very glad to hear that."

Well, that went well. My business here is pretty much finished, but I notice that Byakuren is hesitating, as though wanting to say something more. Finally, she heaves a sigh and gives me a frank look. "Miss Shameimaru... you come across as a very worldly woman. And I have to admit, some of the issues I've been dealing with are baffling, even to me. Do you by chance have any advice for me?"

It's a gesture of trust, and I recognize that at once. Just I put my trust in Byakuren, so is she bringing me into her confidence. The best that I can do is answer her as honestly as I can, with the best advice that I can. "Well... for your little mouse, Nazrin, I'd recommend channeling her urges. Like, get her to hire herself out to find things for people, you know what I mean? There's probably good money in that, and a little detective work can be downright fascinating."

"Not a bad idea, though dear Nazrin always goes for challenging prizes. I think it's part of what has driven her down this road, actually."

"No problem. Then get her hitched to a fairy. It worked for Marisa, after all." I grin broadly as I say this.

Byakuren giggles at the suggestion. "I will take that under advisement, Miss Shameimaru. Though I worry that it could backfire spectacularly."

"Just a thought. Regarding Ichirin, I dunno. I mean, it's just a hobby, right? Harmless."

Byakuren sighs at my words. "Well, yes... but there is the reputation of Myouren Temple to consider. I worry what people will say if they learn my foremost disciple is posing in ridiculous outfits and making up names for all of her attacks."

I kinda want to see this, but decide to hold my tongue. "So, no holding shows for the kiddies in the village along with Futo? That's too bad. Could do wonders for relations between your two faiths~."

I think Byakuren pales a little bit at my humble suggestion. "Once again, under advisement, Miss Shameimaru."

I shrug evenly. "Well, your call I suppose. Since we're talking about this, I hear that there's been some friction between you and Kyouko Kasodani. What's that all about?"

The nun sighs wearily. "Let's just say that I disagree with the path she has taken, and the means she uses to express herself."

"You mean her music?" I shrug. "Look, back when I was still running the Bunbunmaru, I listened in once, and yeah it was noisy, but otherwise it's just another form of music. Plus, she and Mystia are apparently actually trying to bring more humans to their concerts, so... what's the harm?"

"It is less the noise, and more the lack of discipline that bothers me," Byakuren says with a frown. "The way she and her friend rage at the heavens... I can't help but feel that it stirs up disharmonious feelings within people. Now, I know that she says this is merely her expressing youthful frustration, as she calls it, but from what I can tell it's simply a young girl complaining about everything that upsets her, even matters that are virtually of no consequence. And finally, she looks ridiculous with all of the padding she puts in her bra as of late."

I start snickering. "Byakuren? You sound like an old lady."

"I most certainly do not!" She protests, looking horrified a the thought. I just laugh some more, which makes her pout at me. "Oh, stop that!"

"Sorry, sorry," I apologize. "But I think you're gonna have to bend on this one. Really, in most of these cases it's just people pursuing their hobbies, while their leadership looks on in disapproval. While I hear where you're coming form, you've gotta remember my own situation with my elders."

Byakuren deflates a bit at this. "I suppose you are right. What about the others? Have you any advice for them as well?"

"Um..." I think it over. "Your ghost I'm drawing a blank on. I dunno, just find something that she could do. Shou sounds like she needs a boyfriend. Badly. So, help get her set up with some nice guy? I bet she's a tiger in bed~!" The nun just facepalms at this one. "Sorry. But really, if it's biological, it's just something you're gonna have to put up with."

"Oh, I know." She smiles in understanding. "And I comprehend this. In most of these cases, I simply have to accept my dear followers as they are, and help them to channel their frustrations into other matters. All it takes is a bit of effort on my part. It's just that this morning, everything seemed to happen at once, is all." She pauses. "Though if you had any advice on the Nue issue..." there's a strangely pleading look in her eyes as she says this. It's almost painful to let her down.

"Sorry," I say. "You're kinda on your own with an Emo Stalker Shapeshifter. Um, who's she after again?"

"A boy from the Human Village," Byakuren replies, slumping with resignation. "She keeps experimenting with her form to make herself as appealing as possible, and leaving poetry wherever he can find it... it's starting to frighten the poor fellow, which is only driving Nue even further. I'm really at a loss here."

"...Yeah, I got nothing. Sorry." I bow my head in apology.

"I'd get her some romance novels for guidance, but I fear that would only give her ideas," Byakuren sighs. I wince sympathetically. I can only imagine what it would be like having Nue Houjuu as a stalker.

...Maybe I should suggest Nue wear pink frilly dresses? No, I'd just get punched.

*****************************************

Well, at the very least things have been interesting here. At Byakuren's invitation, I stayed for lunch, but now I should really be going. I've got a whole day ahead of me yet, and a lot of people to meet with. So, where to now?

[ ] Visit the kappa.
[ ] Visit the underground.
[ ] Visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
[ ] Visit the Taoists.
[ ] Visit the Bamboo Forest.
[ ] Actually, let's get the advertising squared away.
[ ] Let's deal with the tengu now, and deal with that hurdle.
[×] Let's deal with the tengu now, and deal with that hurdle.
-[×] Hike up to Moriya Shrine, and ask for Kanako's help in getting the tengu to join.

Byakuren said to let the oni join when the tengu are already committed to joining, so we should get the tengu on board as soon as possible.

Like I said in comment >>27315, the goal should be not to reinforce our relationship with the tengu who already support us, but get more tengu to support us. Therefore, someone besides Aya should do this, and Kanako has decent connections to the Tengu Elders. She should convince them to join under the pretense of wanting to showcase tengu culture to the rest of Gensokyo.
[x] Visit the Taoists.

Might as well, since we're already here. I'd like to move on to the Tengu or the advertising next though, as both are things that can benefit from having extra time to work.
[x] Visit the Taoists.
[x] Visit the Taoists.

I wanna see how Keymaster writes them.

>"Sorry," I say. "You're kinda on your own with an Emo Stalker Shapeshifter. Um, who's she after again?"

Nue, emo? How? Nue's too cheerful.
[x] Visit the Taoists.
[x] Visit the Taoists.

As for the nue matter, well we should track down someone who has actually gotten a guy and ask them for advice
[ ] Visit the Taoists.

I'm not fond of the Taoists, specifically their head honcho, but let's give Keymaster a shot. He's made other characters I don't care about interesting, so why not the Taoists?
>>27827
...So Patchy, maybe?

>>27825
>"And then there's Nue." The nun pauses. "Nue has fallen in love, which is sweet. She does not know how to be in love, however, and has taken to stalking the poor young man. Also, writing poetry. Very, very bad poetry. Nue claims that I just don't understand the pain in her heart."
Unrequited love, apparently.
>>27829
Patchy would be a good idea. Honestly I think it might be that Nue's just doing it wrong (it's not like the normal gensokyo native is used to forward super powered women)
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27832
Hm. The Taoists are an interesting lot. They tend to keep to themselves, but they are known to accept any and all comers to Senkai. I suppose that it might not be a bad idea to invite them along to the trade show, if only out of a sense of politeness. Besides, it might not be a bad idea to get a read on our final set of religious rivals here in Gensokyo.

The main issue is getting to Senkai in the first place. While open to those who actually manage to find it, they don't really make it accessible in the first place, especially to a youkai like me. Still, while nosing around before my arrest, I managed to figure out the general location of one of its entrances. Maybe if a go there and, I dunno, knock or something, Miko Toyosatomimi will grant me entry? Eh, worth a shot.

With a final glance back at Myouren Temple, and a mental note to seek out Kogasa at some point in the future, I lift off and head off to find their foremost rivals.

Okay, so one of the entrances to Senkai is somewhere off to the side of the forest of magic, but not too deep into the woods. I saw Miko herself disappear into here more than once. It's fairly close to the village, but you really have to search for it to have any luck in locating Senkai. Then again, it's not really a place that reaches out to visitors, what with its main inhabitant being a hermit. Though I hear that Miko is at least hospitable to visitors. And besides, she might be interested in meeting with a religious rival...

......

Goddammit, this is impossible. I'm trying to track down a hermit, and I have no fucking clue how to go about it. Maybe I should just leave this for another day or something, or go back and discretely ask some of the Buddhists about finding Senkai. Didn't Byakuren say that Ichirin and Futo had something in common? Some weird hobby...?

"...strike...!"

Hello, what was that? I'm sure I heard something just now. Swerving in mid-air, I head back the way I had come, carefully searching the ground for signs of anyone. Maybe one of the locals is out, and can lead me in?

"...divine loving blast...!"

...Okay, that sounds weird. But it's definitely a feminine voice, which makes it a bit more likely to be one of the senior officials in Senkai. Maybe even Miko herself. And it sounds like they're in the middle of a duel or something? Well, far be it from me to turn down a chance to see the competition in action! I glide closer to the ground, and over to a clearing in the trees, where I see-

I see...

Uh.

What the fuck is wrong with this picture?

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRx8SgHxgyg Strictly just for the music)

Well, Futo is definitely there. Dressed in a ridiculously colorful outfit that makes me question my love of miniskirts. She's striking a pose and pointing ferociously at an exaggerated and crude drawing of some kind of youkai with what looks like a scepter with a heart on it.

Also, she looks like she's having fun.

"Evil beast!" the Taoist cheers, eyes gleaming happily. "Prepare to be vanquished by the lovely power of Mystical Magical Futo!"

What.

Then the Taoist starts to contort herself into a variety of ludicrous poses that would have no business on an actual field of battle.

"Hah! Feel the power of lovely justice! And love! And justice!"

She's having way too much fun. Also, she's firing heart-shaped danmaku.

"Grraahhhh! You dare to resist me?!" Futo demands of the crude drawing. "Foolish beast! Then I shall show you no mercy! Feel the power that will protect the happiness of all good humans in Gensokyo!"

It's a drawing, Futo.

"Hiiiiyaaaahhh!" Still, she delivers an admirable diving kick to the drawing (did a child draw it?), and springs off the tree it's nailed to, landing in an exaggerated ready pose. "Still you refuse to yield?!" The 'magical girl' assumes some sort of pose and smiles cockily. "Then I shall not hold back!"

Futo. Please. Stop Futo.

She winds up and jabs her scepter (I think it's an Outsider toy or something) at her 'nemesis.' "My full power! Mysterious Lovely Shinkaisen BEEEEAAAAAMMMM!!!" The resulting beam is bright pink. Also, heart-shaped. I don't know how that works.

Futo, you are hurting my brain. I beg of you, please stop.

Still, the lovely I'm-not-repeating-that-name BEAM manages to vaporize the target, causing Futo to squeal with joy and bounce around happily. "Aha! No force of evil can stand against my power of love! Let evil everywhere be wary!" Then she runs a victory sign over one eye, practically gleaming with triumph.

No, sorry. She is gleaming. Pink, as a matter of fact. Did I mention all of the little heart-shapes? How is she doing that. Why is she doing that. Why am I here.

...Yep. Watching Futo has given me brain damage. I should've been more careful.

And then Futo sees me. For a moment, I go rigid, wondering how the Taoist is going to respond to someone having seen her horribly embarrassing hobby. And then Futo waves up at me happily, broad smile on her face. "Oh! A traveler! Good day to you!"

Slowly, I let myself drift to the ground, still not certain that the sun hasn't boiled my brain. "Um... hi. Futo Mononobe, right?"

"Indeed I am, and a thousand welcomes to- oh!" The Taoist stops as something occurs to her. "Ah, a thousand pardons if you please! I must check on something!" Reaching down to grab something on the ground (also flashing me, which somehow makes me feel very uncomfortable), Futo picks up a book of some sort. As she flips through it, I can make out the title: Modern Speaking for the Outdated. Where would she...?

Still, Futo nods to herself as her eyes scan over the pages, and she finally puts the book away, bowing to me with a smile. "Indeed I am! You are indeed speaking to Futo Mononobe! Pleased to meetcha! Nice day we're having, huh?"

"Um, yes it is," I reply, bowing in turn. "My name is Aya Shameimaru."

"Oh, it's so nice to finally meet you!" Futo replies, as chipper as ever. "So, how can I help you, Miss Horrifying Abomination of Nature?"

What.

"I'm sorry?" I reply, feeling my blood rise at that comment.

"Oh, please don't apologize!" Futo says, looking sympathetic. "I know you can't help your nature! All I ask is that you don't attempt to feast upon my flesh, or... you're a tengu, right? ... or attempt to violate my body! Okay?"

I stare, slacked-jawed at how Futo is speaking to me. This is... this is... kinda how some of the elder youkai talk about humans, huh? It kinda sucks.

The Taoist shifts, uncomfortable at my expression. "Erm. Madam youkai? Have I caused you offense in some way? Is it my clothing? I assure you that this is simply a hobby, and considered completely normal in the Outside World. Why, even men dress as this!"

WHAT.

"WHAT," I say out loud.

Futo frowns. "It seems to be popular garb for hermits on the outside, though I feel that the design favors women more. But maybe that's just my opinion." She twirls a little bit, flashing me again, which somehow seems incredibly inappropriate in that outfit. I don't know what it is. "I think it's cute, myself!"

"It... suits you," I say lamely.

Futo giggles happily, clapping her hands to her cheeks. "Awww, thank you so much, Miss Shameimaru! You're the sweetest violation of the natural order that I've ever met!"

I.

I don't even sense any real malice from this girl. What is going on? It's like someone telling you to your face that you're ugly and repulsive, and then giving you a hug afterward and offering you candy. All while dressed as a magical girl.

Futo looks me over. "You know, I think I think you'd look good in one of these outfits."

I WILL NOT LET THIS BECOME MY FETISH. I REFUSE.

"...So, could I speak to your leader?" I ask politely. "I have an official message from the goddesses of Mikami Shrine for her."

"Oh, certainly!" Futo replies, immediately standing to attention. "On behalf of Lady Toyosatomimi, I happily invite you to follow me to Senkai!" She then smiles cheerfully. "Finally, we've at last got a chance to speak with you! Please come with me, Miss Shameimaru!"

Nodding my appreciation, I walk beside the Magical Taoist Girl as she begins to lead me through the trees, almost skipping in happiness. After a bit, I notice that Futo is giving me a considering look. "Hm?" I inquire.

She smiles at me. "You know, you really are a very pretty lady," Futo tells me earnestly.

"Oh," I reply, taken aback. "Well, thanks!" Maybe she's not so bad after all.

Completely sincere, Futo pats me gently on the arm. "It's too bad you're a youkai. I bet you could have any man you wanted!"

I

But

How the hell can she say that and still look so friendly?!


Topics while Futo leads you to Senkai:

[ ] ...Abomination of nature?
[ ] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[ ] Men don't actually dress like that, do they?
[ ] So, how are things in Senkai?
[ ] Are you friends with Ichirin Kumoi?

Conversation time is limited.
[x] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?

This option will let us get the most new information that we can't get elsewhere, and is the most diplomatic as well.

Also, Futo is an example of why Wisdom should never, ever be a dump stat.
[x] Are you friends with Ichirin Kumoi?
[x] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[x] ...Abomination of nature?
[x] So, how are things in Senkai?
[x] ...Abomination of nature?

Oh, I have got to hear this.
[x] ...Abomination of nature?
-[x] since Magicians are youkai, doesn't that mean that magical girls are abominations of nature too?
Since conversation time is limited, I don't care about guys in magical dresses, if we really care what's been happening around Senkai we can just ask Miko, and listening to Futo gleefully explain how our very existence makes us some sort of affront to the gods would just annoy me, I'm going with these two:

[x] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[x] Are you friends with Ichirin Kumoi?
[X] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[X] Are you friends with Ichirin Kumoi?

This seems like a less brain-melting subject than philosophy on affronts to nature.

For certain definitions of "brain-melting".
[x] ...Abomination of nature?
-[x] since Magicians are youkai, doesn't that mean that magical girls are abominations of nature too?

I really want to see an answer to this.
[x] ...Abomination of nature?

>>27836
>>27839
While 'Magician' is a Youkai subspecies, not all magicians are Youkai. Marisa, after all, is known as the Ordinary Magician, and she's definitely not a Youkai yet.
>>27840
Your answer is logical, and therefore boring. I trust in Aya's bullshiting ability to get past that answer.
[X] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[X] Are you friends with Ichirin Kumoi?

Oh God Futo
[×] ...Abomination of nature?
-[×] Since Magicians are youkai, doesn't that mean that magical girls are abominations of nature too?

This. Also...

[æ] "Abomination of nature? How dare you! Ask any human man (or woman), I am more pure and beautiful than a lowly, ignorant, poseur like you could ever hope to be! I am the pretty guardian of truth and love, Aya Shameimaru, and in the name of the Mikami, I shall punish you!"
[Ø] Challenge Futo by asking someone who's more beautiful. (Get earplugs ready for when the short, dopey hermit is rejected in favor of the beautiful, exotic, experienced tengu.)

May as well unload our full salvo against Futo. My write-ins never have a chance of succeeding, but heck, I might as well try, because, Mikami damn it, I'm tired of seeing Aya being made fun of! I want her to come out on top for once!
[X] ...Abomination of nature?
-[X] Since Magicians are youkai, doesn't that mean that magical girls are abominations of nature too?
--[X] In fact, I think I remember hearing about such a thing Outside. (Puella reference!)
[X] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[X] Anyway, I'd like an audience with Miko Toyosatomimi please, if it is at all possible. I'd like to discuss something with her.
[X] So, how are things in Senkai?
[x] ...Abomination of nature?


Okay.
[x] ...Abomination of nature?

Oh man, as an atheist living in Utah, I understand how Aya feels right now SO WELL
>>27852
>
Oh man, as an atheist living in Utah, I understand how Aya feels right now SO WELL

Preach.
[X] ...Abomination of nature?
-[X] Since Magicians are youkai, doesn't that mean that magical girls are abominations of nature too?
--[X] In fact, I think I remember hearing about such a thing Outside. (Puella reference!)
[X] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
[X] Anyway, I'd like an audience with Miko Toyosatomimi please, if it is at all possible. I'd like to discuss something with her.
[X] So, how are things in Senkai?

in this order, as time permits.
>>27854

>Puella Reference

No, no, those are witches. Totally different.

Also, it strikes me that "magical girls" are a concept that are fantastic, believed not to exist in the outside world, and possess their own goddess...
>>27849
You can't expect to come out on top when you're stooping to their level.
Short conversation, right?

[x] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?

Because. What. How. I don't even.
>>27857

>Gullwhacker

You. Go read >>/gensokyo/6052

If you're new, go follow the advice in >>/forest/28235
[X] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
-[X] ...Men don't actually dress like that, do they?

There is a time to chase useful information, and a time to try to fix people with screwy ideas.

Now is neither of those times. Now is the time to watch Aya grow horrified.
[X] How did you get into this hobby, anyway?
-[X] ...Men don't actually dress like that, do they?
-[X] I hear that Ichirin has similar interests. Maybe you should team up sometime.
[X]Anyways, I would like to have an audience with Miko if at all possible.
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27861
Okay. Try to stay calm, Aya. Maybe this girl is just trying to provoke you. This might just be her subtle way at digging at a youkai after no doubt getting a lot of disdain from elder youkai herself. Maybe. Except that it doesn't really feel that way. This idle, off-hand dismissal of me is just so... infuriating, somehow. I just want to smack this aggravating little bint upside the head and then-

No. No. Calm, down, Aya, take the high road here. Just try to engage her, see what her game is. You can start with her unusual hobby. I clear my throat. "So, um, that's a very pretty outfit you have there," I say after a moment.

Futo looks very pleased. "Why, thank you very much! I really must admire all of the thought that goes into such garb. Apparently, this is a uniform that is worn by military officials on the Outside, who specialize in hunting down youkai and maintaining the morale of the citizenry."

"No kidding," I say, looking her over skeptically. I find in hard to believe that any military branch would dress like that even under the most extreme circumstances. And the type of morale-boosting that I would think it encourages... yeah, I don't even wanna go there. "How did you get into it, anyway?"

"Well, Lady Toyosatomimi gave me a series of materials from the outside world, and set me to the task of 'modernizing myself,' as she put it." The Taoist frowns cutely. "I really don't know what she means. People are people no matter their era, and monsters will be monsters, as I'm sure you well know."

I bite down hard, as I feel anger swelling within me. "Please don't call me a monster, okay? Tengu and youkai are fine, but I'm hardly an unthinking best."

"Well, I hardly ever said that you were unthinking," Futo points out.

I freeze in my tracks. "But to clarify, you do see me as being a beast."

"Well, obviously," Futo says, blinking at me curiously. "It's rather self-evident what you are, is it not?"

"According to you, an abomination of nature," I growl, finding my patience with Futo evaporating rapidly. If she'd just been up-front with disliking me, I would have been able to handle it. But this... cheerful dismissal of me as a person is more than I can handle.

Futo seems to suddenly pick up on my anger, and looks very uncertain as she stands there, fidgeting. "Well... yes, of course. You and all of your fellow demons are plainly violations of the natural order set forth by the gods. I mean, I must commend you for taking on a more human appearance, it's very polite of you, but there can be no denying the savagery that lurks in your heart."

"I am not a demon!" I shout, my anger finally breaking free. Who does this little bitch think she is, anyway?! Futo squeaks and leaps back a little bit, turning pale at my sudden yell. I breathe heavily, desperately trying to fight down the urge to slug her in the face. After all of the shit I've been through, after all that I've endured, who is she to just come along and declare me unnatural?! "What about you and your friends, huh? The ones who keep trying to transcend humanity? What about the magical girls you love so much? Aren't Magicians a type of youkai as well?"

Futo looks absolutely flabbergasted. She's started to sink into a combat ready stance, but looks too taken aback by my outburst to really focus on it. "That's... not all those who wield magic are automatically a form of youkai!" she retorts. "I mean, my goodness, you can't just put that label on anyone who can cast a spell! Besides, we at Senkai are all about traveling along the path of enlightenment to see what lies beyond humanity! We're not a bunch of soulless beasts!"

Oh.

No.

She didn't.

Futo pales at my reaction. "I may have said too much there," she says quietly.

"You think?" I growl. "Now. I want you to listen to me, you outdated, time-displaced, clueless little bitch."

"Wha-?!" Futo's eyes bulge.

"Who the hell do you think you are?!" I shout. "Who the hell are you to just get in my face and tell me, with this cute little smile on, that I'm a monster?! That I'm unnatural, that I have no soul, that i have no right to exist? Do you have any idea what I've been through in my life?! I've seen my people fall into the depths of savagery, I've struggled to get them to admit to their wrongdoing, seen them hide in shame from their own actions, even been forced into exile when I wouldn't play the games of my so-called superiors."

"I... I..." Futo is actually starting to tear up a little bit here. I just don't care.

"I had my mind broken into pieces when I was forced to live alone, absolutely alone, for decades. Hey, you know that guy who said that 'hell is other people?' He's a fucking idiot. I had to grovel and become a mockery of my former self just to be close to somebody, anybody, even if they looked at me with contempt. And now after all of that, I've finally got myself back, I've found a woman that I love dearly, and the only thing I want with humanity, the same people you want to move past, is to help them live each day to the fullest and deal with all of the pain that life brings. I care about people, Mononobe. I care about people in a way that only someone who has truly suffered can care. And now, I have to deal with some clueless bitch from a thousand years ago telling me that I have no soul?!"

"Then explain the wars of the past!" Futo screeches. "Explain the throngs of hideous beasts that did march upon the homes of innocent souls that did never offer them a wrong nor insult in their entire life!"

I suck in a deep breath. "You're right," I admit. "Us youkai have done a lot of shit in our past and tried to brush it off as just being part of our nature. The thing is? You humans have done the same, but in recent years have started to realize that such thinking is bullshit. That's something that I actually admire about humans." My eyes narrow. "But then, you're not really human now, are you?"

"I most certainly am!" Futo screeches at me, tears running down her cheeks. "I... why are you treating me this way? Why does... why does everyone always look at me so strangely, like I've said something to offend, like I've said something foolish, when all I want to do is protect the poor people of this land from the beasts that would rend their flesh?!"

"Because things have changed," I spit back. "Funny how you haven't seemed to realize that."

"Well, excuse this one for not being possessed of the prince's enhanced senses!" Futo sobs back, openly crying now, face full of anger, hurt, and confusion.

...She honestly doesn't know why I'm angry, does she? She doesn't even have a clue. A Japanese woman from 1400 years ago. Much like a youkai elder only coming out from his cave after a millenia's absence, and goggling at the world about him. Not that it changes the filth that she was spouting!

"Please stop, both of you," a voice speaks then. One firm, commanding, cutting through the discord between me and the silver-haired Taoist, but somehow gentle all the same. My head whips around at the same instant as Futo's to fall upon the master of Senkai herself. Miko Toyosatomimi. She of the remarkable hair. The former ruler of Japan looks upon the two of us grimly.

"M-my prince!" Futo wails, rushing towards Miko. The senior hermit holds out her arms and holds the weeping Futo gently, brushing her hair and drying her eyes. "Sh-she said... she was all... why does this always happen?!"

Miko sighs and gives me an apologetic, pleading gaze that makes me still my tongue. "Futo... Futo, please calm down. We've talked about this before. Remember?"

"W-well, yes, but-"

"Ssshhhh," the prince shushes her subordinate. "I want you to head back to Senkai, alright? Clean yourself up, and then Tojiko got you one of those Western documentaries you were so fond of. Wouldn't you like that?"

"...One of those fascinating ones made by the barbarian tribes?" Futo asks hopefully.

Miko flinches as though struck. "They aren't barbarians, Futo, they're just of a different culture. That doesn't make them any less human than you or I. Do you remember that nice bartender? The cultured, educated fellow? Do you really see him as some sort of barbarian marauder?"

"...No," Futo says quietly. "H-he's a perfect gentlemen. I just don't understand why he chooses to lie with a-"

"That's fine, then," Miko says quickly. "Look, just head on home. I'll be back in a bit, all right?"

Futo sighs. "Okay," she says weakly. Without another word, the dispirited Taoist starts trudging off into the forest, wiping her eyes. This leaves me alone with Miko herself, who gives me a solemn stare as I breathe deeply, trying to control my anger.

That little bitch. That little bitch. That awful, racist little-

And then Miko steps forward, bows her head, and genuflects before me. As in full genuflection, forehead pressed to the soil and everything.

"Lady Shameimaru," the Taoist leader says formally, "I beg of you to still your rage and grant forgiveness to my subordinate for her terrible words. Please understand that Futo is from a very different time, and has not adapted very well to the present day. She simply does not understand how much things have changed, and this has left her feeling very isolated from the populace, something that pains her. Her words were spoken not from malice, but from simple ignorance. I beg of you, if you have scorn direct it towards me, for I have failed my servant in not educating her well enough in modern ideals."

It takes me a moment to realize that my jaw is hanging open. Miko Toyosatomimi is on the ground, asking for forgiveness on Futo's behalf. I just... bwuh?


[ ] Your response?
Huh. Miko's actually acting reasonable towards youkai. That's new.
When I voted, I didn't think Aya would be that harsh. On the other hand, I also didn't think Fuuko was that racist. It's kinda hard, because it's hard to blame Miko too much for Fuuko's failings, but immediate forgiveness doesn't really help the problem. Not voting yet because I have no goddamn clue what to do with this.
>>27862

I don't think Miko's anti-youkai so much as pro-human. She expressed concern about the status of humans in Gensokyo (http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Part_1) but didn't say anything derogatory about youkai (that I remember offhead). Her snideness in the Symposium was instead directed at Byakuren and Buddhism.

The impression I get from Miko is that she not a racist but rather a machine politician.
[X] On one condition: that she come to the trade fair as a part of the Taoist contingent and see for herself how things have changed.
-[X] While controlling her tongue.

Seems like the obvious response.
[X] On one condition: that she come to the trade fair as a part of the Taoist contingent and see for herself how things have changed.
-[X] While controlling her tongue.
[x] On one condition: that she come to the trade fair as a part of the Taoist contingent and see for herself how things have changed.
-[x] While controlling her tongue.

As a ginger, I know EXACTLY how Aya feels right now.
>>27867
...what does ginger mean?
[X] On one condition: that she come to the trade fair as a part of the Taoist contingent and see for herself how things have changed.
-[X] While controlling her tongue.

Seems like a diplomatic way to resolve this.

>>27864

That and she's meant to be Byakuren's foil, who is clearly not anti-human.

May as well try to get on her good side from the start. Politicians have long memories.

>>27868

Red-haired, as in "gingers don't have souls". I've never had a problem with my lack of soul, personally, but human history isn't exactly wanting for strange beliefs.
[x] Inform Toyosatomimi-no-Miko that you will need to step away for a bit to compose yourself. Then do so.
- [x] Point out that forgiveness isn't really the issue: forgiveness is about the past, and you're concerned about probable future actions.
- [x] Explain about the trade show... to which, because of Futo's example, you are currently having second thoughts about inviting the Taoists to host a booth this year.
- - [x] Give her an honest chance to talk you into it anyway.
- [x] Suggest that it might be beneficial for Futo specifically to attend the trade show as a visitor rather than an exhibitor... although perhaps not unchaperoned.

>>27865
Ahahahaha wow. Exposing on-the-fence tengu to Futo sounds like an excellent way to get them to side with the isolationists. And yet, exposing Futo to tengu (et al.) is probably the only way to get her head unfucked. I'm a little concerned that my write-in is too rejecting, though, rather than ... admonishing, I suppose?

Also I agree with >>27864 concerning Toyosatomimi-no-Miko's personal views... which should make you stop and consider: what does she think of Aya's power and proper place in Gensokyo, that she's so desperate to have Aya's forgiveness as to literally kowtow?

("Lady Shameimaru". Wow, that's a WTF and a half.)
[x] Inform Toyosatomimi-no-Miko that you will need to step away for a bit to compose yourself. Then do so.
[X] Point out that forgiveness isn't really the issue: forgiveness is about the past, and you're concerned about probable future actions.
[X] Explain about the trade show... to which, because of Futo's example, you are currently having second thoughts about inviting the Taoists to host a booth this year.
-[X] Give her an honest chance to talk you into it anyway.
--[X] Suggest that it might be beneficial for Futo specifically to attend the trade show as a visitor rather than an exhibitor... although perhaps not unchaperoned.
[x] Inform Toyosatomimi-no-Miko that you will need to step away for a bit to compose yourself. Then do so.
- [x] Point out that forgiveness isn't really the issue: forgiveness is about the past, and you're concerned about probable future actions.
- [x] Explain about the trade show... to which, because of Futo's example, you are currently having second thoughts about inviting the Taoists to host a booth this year.
- - [x] Give her an honest chance to talk you into it anyway.
- [x] Suggest that it might be beneficial for Futo specifically to attend the trade show as a visitor rather than an exhibitor... although perhaps not unchaperoned.
[x] Inform Toyosatomimi-no-Miko that you will need to step away for a bit to compose yourself. Then do so.
- [x] Point out that forgiveness isn't really the issue: forgiveness is about the past, and you're concerned about probable future actions.
- [x] Explain about the trade show... to which, because of Futo's example, you are currently having second thoughts about inviting the Taoists to host a booth this year.
- - [x] Give her an honest chance to talk you into it anyway.
- [x] Suggest that it might be beneficial for Futo specifically to attend the trade show as a visitor rather than an exhibitor... although perhaps not unchaperoned.
[x] Inform Toyosatomimi-no-Miko that you will need to step away for a bit to compose yourself. Then do so.
- [x] Point out that forgiveness isn't really the issue: forgiveness is about the past, and you're concerned about probable future actions.
- [x] Explain about the trade show... to which, because of Futo's example, you are currently having second thoughts about inviting the Taoists to host a booth this year.
- - [x] Give her an honest chance to talk you into it anyway.
- [x] Suggest that it might be beneficial for Futo specifically to attend the trade show as a visitor rather than an exhibitor... although perhaps not unchaperoned.

Poor Miko, you really can't catch a break.
[×] Lean back and breathe a big, raspy sigh of relief, while trying to will away your massive headache.

[×] Ask Miko if she has any problems that she'd like to talk to her friendly neighborhood tengu about.

[×] Talk to Miko about the trade show and its intended purpose, and why we're having second thoughts about inviting them.

[×] Resist the urge to ask the question that Aya most definitely has on the edge of her mind.

[×] Act like a chum; something tells me Miko's had a pretty rough time as of late.

Congratulations, Keymaster; you made me madder at Futo than I was at Akyuu. At least Akyuu had a shred of regret in her body...
[X] On one condition: that she come to the trade fair as a part of the Taoist contingent and see for herself how things have changed.
-[X] While controlling her tongue.

It feels to me like Futo just doesn't know any better. The correct response to this is to attempt to help her understand. It's natural and fine for us to get angry about it, but at the same time, if yelling at her for it is all that we do, it could very well validate in her mind the very misconceptions she already has. Once someone has misconceptions, they tend to stick around forever, even I'd you do know better. The only thing you can do is push them out of the way with counterexamples.

I say we try and make friends with Futo and show her firsthand just how wrong she is.
>>27882

>>27871 here. I like this. My only reservation is that, given Toyosatomimi-no-Miko's strongly Confucian leanings, playing chummy with her is (both sadly and hilariously) probably the least effective way to get to her.

It ... nonetheless may not be a bad idea. We effectively have her over a barrel, even if this is almost entirely because she's been kind enough to put herself there, and she is thus unlikely to feel she has standing to object to a less-hierarchical-and-more-Ayaish approach. (And it is a more Ayaish approach, I think.)

In the worst case, we can allow her the polite fiction that our amity is merely a polite fiction [sic]: to be fair, it probably partly will be.

So yeah, let's. Changing my vote to follow [x] >>27882, except with something like
>- [x] Suggest that it might be beneficial for Futo specifically to attend the trade show as a visitor rather than an exhibitor... although perhaps not unchaperoned.
retained.
>>27882
[x] this

The other vote is pretty hypocritical because we refused to put the blame on Byakuren for her followers' actions yet we are about to do exactly that now with Miko.

I understand a bias for someone who sees troubled people as things to be helped instead of voting machines but let's try to keep things balanced yes?

That said, Futo needs to visit The Holy Trinity pronto. The changes on her life seem to have been overwhelming.
>>27885
I don't think 'on one condition' is hypocritical. It's less a serious imposition and more a segue into 'hey we're going this trade fair thing and what you to show up'.
>>27884

>My only reservation is that, given Toyosatomimi-no-Miko's strongly Confucian leanings-

Where'd you get that notion? Isn't Confucianism collectivist while Taoism is individualist?
Gonna call the vote as a cross between >>27865 and >>27871, as they both have the same number of votes and are fairly compatible.

So. I'm gathering that people don't really know what to make of Futo. Good.
>>27889

Well that's not ominous at all.
>>27888
Not by my understanding, which is that:
• Taoism is neither particularly individualistic nor particularly collectivist,
• Confucianism is not so much collectivist as hierarchical, and
• Confucianism and Taoism are distinct but not disjoint.

More specifically, both Taoism and Confucianism assert that everything has its proper place; but Confucianism specifically asserts that that proper place of everything is in a just and righteous hierarchy, while to a pure Taoist, hierarchies and heterarchies themselves both have their proper place. (Comparative religion is not exactly my field of study, though, so do take this with at least a grain of salt.)

I am mostly inferring Confucian leanings from that and from Symposium of Post-Mysticism, in which Miko asserts that Gensokyo badly needs an administrator: "Society cannot function with all humans possessing the same social standing and rank" [Touhou Wiki translation] -- which sounds to me like an archetypally Confucian sentiment.
>>27891

>I am mostly inferring Confucian leanings from that and from Symposium of Post-Mysticism, in which Miko asserts that Gensokyo badly needs an administrator.

Ah, makes sense. Personally, I think she was just being a politician judging by the suspicious way she spoke...

* * *

Miko: Humans need leaders to guide them towards a hope-filled future. If no one else is qualified then I would certainly...

Kanako: I wonder what kind of future lies in store for the humans under the rule of someone who is no longer human.

Miko: "Rule" is such an ugly word. It would just be a stopgap measure until someone from among the humans is able to imitate and overturn me.
File 139881231944.jpg - (359.36KB, 774x924, dammit futo.jpg) [iqdb]
27894
"Um..." I blank out for a moment, uncertain how to respond. "Just... please stand up? This is really awkward." Silently, Miko rises to her feet, gazing at me with a solemn expression. "I... give me a moment, okay?" I pinch the bridge of my nose, my eyes squeezed tight. I sigh deeply. "Give me a moment to get my feelings under control. Then I'd like to speak with you."

"Of course," Miko says politely. "Please, take your time, Lady Shameimaru."

I nod, taking deep breaths. Okay. So Futo is sort of a bitch. That's infuriating, to say the least. On the other hand, what she was saying was no worse than what I've heard a number of youkai say about humanity in general. Like the tengu who assert that humans are inherently inferior. Or youkai who like to talk about 'filthy, worthless, weak humans.' I realize that Futo may have received some of these comments directly to her face, which is probably affecting her opinion, and she is also a product of the era in which she was born. I also freely realize that I'm in no position to criticize somebody for saying nasty things about someone else.

That doesn't make it hurt any less.

"Lady Shameimaru," Miko says politely, "If you have calmed your anger, may I invite you to Senkai for a bit of tea?" I look over at the former prince, who stands straight and tall, still giving me a solemn look.

After a moment I nod. "Yeah, tea sounds good. I was hoping to have a word with you in any case. Just not quite like this."

"I do understand," Miko agrees. "Please follow me." The Taoist leader sets off through the trees, and I follow behind, breathing deeply and letting my anger subside.

And all of a sudden we're in Senkai. Just like that. "What the-" I stare in astonishment at the palace suddenly sprawling before my eyes, people in uniform either milling about or moving to and fro on some errand or another.

Miko just chuckles. "We are a commune of Hermits, after all. We value our privacy here. Still, Senkai is far from inaccessible, as long as you know the route." I nod absently, looking around at the attendants in their robes, the dazzling architecture, the undead woman doing calisthenics.

Wait, what was that last one?

I slow to a halt as I take in the strange sight of a pale-skinned woman in some sort of workout uniform stretching and contorting what looks to be an extremely stiff body. Well, attempting to stretch, anyway. Really, she's making some very simple motions look incredibly painful. And the noise, like nuts being cracked by the hundreds. The chipper, peppy music being played from a gadget to her side makes the whole scene even more surreal.

"Yoshika Miyako," Miko explains, not slowing her stride. "The bodyguard of my mentor, Seiga. There was an incident a while back, and Seiga lost much of her hold on Yoshika. The girl's been trying very hard to get back into shape ever since."

"It sounds painful," I say. "Doesn't it bother you?"

Miko shrugs easily. "It's no skin off of my back. Besides, she's improving herself. How can I criticize that?" We walk into the halls of Senkai together. "By the way, if you happen to speak to Seiga, feel free to disregard anything she says altogether."

I glance at Miko. "Hell of a thing to say about your own mentor."

She makes a face. "Well, I once held Seiga in the highest regard. The problem is that Seiga's path as a Hermit started off steeped in wickedness, and never got better. Honestly, she takes the whole 'Wicked Hermit' thing to a ludicrous level at times. I eventually started to tune her out. The woman needs to get a grip..." Miko finishes with an annoyed mutter. Kind of ironic that Byakuren's biggest rival has as much trouble with her subordinates as the nun does.

The two of us finally wind up in a richly furnished sitting room, a tea service already laid out for us. We take a seat, and Miko pours. "You seem to have composed yourself," she notes.

"I suppose," I sigh. "It was just a little jarring to be discriminated against like that."

"Something not unfamiliar to many humans," Miko says carefully.

"I suppose that's true," I admit. "At the very least, I can accept that Futo's statements came not from malice, but from ignorance."

Miko nods sagely. "That more or less sums it all up. While I slumbered for over a millennium, I was still somewhat aware of the world and its affairs. I had little difficulty adapting to the new era. Tojiko, having become a ghost, was able to perceive things from the realm of the dead. Futo... had no such preparation, and she's never been good at sudden changes." She sighs. "I've been providing her with a variety of cultural materials in the hopes that she will grow more as a person. There have been... unexpected side-effects in that regard."

I raise an eyebrow. "Then Mystical Magical Futo is your doing?"

"Indirectly," Miko admits. She smirks a bit. "Though you have to admit, she manages to work that outfit, now doesn't she?"

I laugh at this. "Yeah, much as I hate to admit it."

"Will you forgive her, then?" Miko asks.

I lean back in my chair and take a sip of tea. "...It's not so much a matter of forgiveness," I say carefully. "I understand her situation, even if her words still aggravate me. It's what she'll say and do in the future that troubles me."

Miko nods. "A concern I share. Futo's careless words have alienated quite a few people already, much to her confusion and pain. I've been trying to work with her, help her through things." The Taoist raises an eyebrow. "Though I sense that you have something more specific in mind."

This woman is sharp. "Yes. We of the Mikami Shrine will be hosting a trade show at the base of Youkai Mountain shortly. I am currently sounding out interested parties."

Miko nods slowly. "Attending such an event would be of great interest to us," she admits. "Though I wonder if Futo's outburst has caused you to reconsider."

"It has." I don't even choose to deny it. "And it reminds me that your group aren't exactly known as champions of good relations with youkai."

"We're not, " Miko agrees. She sets down her tea cup. "Lady Shameimaru, let me speak frankly here. I welcome you here as the chief officer of another faith, one which is rapidly making itself known as a player here in Gensokyo, and a skilled one at that. Furthermore, your first interaction with us resulted in you being direly insulted. Quite simply, I am currently rolling out the red carpet in the hopes of smoothing things over."

I nod. "Thought it might be something like that. I do have experience with the tengu courts, after all."

"Speaking of whom, I somehow feel that one woman being a bit too honest about her feelings regarding youkai might be the least of your issues at this trade show." Miko speaks calmly, but gazes at me knowingly.

I stare back, nodding. "You're perceptive."

"It is quite literally what I do," the Taoist leader replies.

I sigh, conceding the point. "Yes, you're right. Getting the tengu to play nicely at the trade show is going to be a bit of a struggle."

"Whereas I can assure you that Futo will be closely chaperoned," Miko replies. "When the need arises, Futo can be quite good at schooling her tongue. Though, perhaps we shall have her there as a spectator, rather than an exhibitor, hm?"

I nod. "Yes, that seems wise. I have to admit, you seem a lot more comfortable around youkai than she does."

"Do I?" Miko raises her eyebrow at this. "In many ways, despite her woeful ignorance Futo is often more comfortable around youkai than I am. In brief, Lady Shameimaru, I find it hard to trust both Tengu in particular, and youkai in general."

I frown at this. "Tengu in particular?"

The Taoist closes her eyes. "I remember visiting sites of battles. Innocent villages torn asunder, their inhabitants devoured and dismembered. Oftentimes, it seemed as though the killing was done not for food, but for the simple joy of slaughter."

I feel a chill run down my spine. "And given the time period that you reigned..."

"Quite so." Miko opens her eyes at gazes at me. "You are old, Lady Shameimaru. What do remember of those days."

"...Less than you," I confess. "Mainly instinctual urges, the occasional dream of bloody slaughter. The smell of blood. Though I was one of the first to turn away from that path, I remember that much. And humans have little to hold over youkai when it comes to committing slaughter."

"Too true," Miko sighs. "My point is, though, that I remember a time when the word 'Tengu' meant more than 'looks like a human with wings.' Or ears and a fluffy tail for that matter. I remember when your people really were the beasts that Futo remembers. Imagine my surprise at seeing a modern Tengu."

I chuckle. "Not that you open your arms to us all of a sudden."

"Just as your kind have not embraced humanity, even after more than a thousand years of close proximity," Miko points out. "How then, can I be blamed for holding my reserve so soon after my awakening?"

"Not that you were totally unaware during your long slumber," I reply.

She nods, conceding the point. "Nonetheless, I hold youkai at arms length. To be anything less than wary would be foolish on my part. However, this does not change the fact that Gensokyo is fundamentally a youkai domain. Antagonizing youkai at large gains me nothing. No, better to keep to my studies and protect humans as best as I can. Just as you protect the Tengu, in your own way."

I stare at Miko long and hard. She's a consummate politician, no denying it. I really doubt that any of the elders could get the better of her in a debate. Truly a formidable woman. But as long as Futo keeps her mouth shut, having her at the trade show would probably only help in the long run, and it would be better to at least stay on polite terms with the Taoists.

"So, I used to be a man," Miko comments, sipping at her tea.

I choke on my own.

"It's true," Miko says with a shrug. "Apparently reincarnation can have some bizarre side-effects." She looks down and frowns at her chest. "These were certainly a big surprise when I arose. Still haven't really got used to them. I keep folding my arms and smacking my forearms against my breasts. Takes a hell of a long time to adapt to a new body, I assure you. Especially one of the opposite sex!" She rolls her eyes. "And then there's learning to wear female clothing, and learning to use the bathroom was quite the adventure, I assure you! Had to keep Seiga from teaching me 'the intricacies of the female form,' as she put it. Honestly, that woman..."

I gape, stricken speechless at this sudden admission.

"Well, I got used to it eventually," Miko admits. "Standing in front of a full-body mirror helped out. As did posing in a variety of outfits. And other assorted experiments that we won't get into here." She sips her tea shamelessly.

"...You're joking, right?" I finally get out.

"Well, the other possibility is that I was always female, and pretended to be a male in order to deal with sexist courtiers," Miko says innocently.

"Which one is it?!" I sputter.

The Taoist prince grins wickedly. "I think I'll leave that for you to contemplate."

...Yep. Definitely a formidable woman. With a weird sense of humor.

"Um, excuse me?" a small voice asks. I turn my head to see that Futo Mononobe has entered the room, now dressed in more formal attire. She's fidgeting nervously, something grasped in her hands, and bows when my eyes fall upon her. "Lady Shameimaru, I apologize thoroughly for my prior behavior. It was unworthy of me, and terribly rude to you. I realize that my viewpoint is something terribly outdated and inappropriate to this Gensokyo of today, and... I'm trying. That's all I can do for now, and I hope that you will accept this apology in the spirit in which it was intended."

......

"Um, as a peace offering, would you like to watch a Western documentary with me?" Futo straightens up, eyes glimmering hopefully. "Tojiko gave it to me in the hopes that it would 'modernize' me. We can watch it together on one of those fascinating Outsider performance devices! Er... if you'd like, that is..." the silver-haired Taoist trails off, fidgeting nervously.

"What's it about?" I ask curiously.

"Oh! Um, it appears to be a documentary about political machinations in a futuristic version of a Western court," Futo says, looking hopeful and enthusiastic. "At least, according to the pictures on the back and the name. I think it has something to with eggs, maybe a trade war or something. It is called, um... 'A-Lie-N.' Or something. Would you like to watch it with me?" The Taoist waits anxiously for my reply.

Hm.


[ ] Yes
[ ] No
Oh yeah, forgot to mention. By my count, that was Tengu of (Mis)Fortune's 200th post. Goddamn.
[X] Yes

Oh, and congratulations about the 200th post! The story has come a long way.
Oh dear gods.

It would be good to have the Taoists there, both for their sake and for ours. I think we should just accept.

And on that similar note, socializing Futo can only help.

[X] Yes
[x] Yes
chestburster youkai when?
Congrats!

Also

[X] Yes
[x] No

Eh, not really feeling this one.
[X] Yes
-[X] Can the other Taoists join us?

This will be BEAUTIFUL.
[x] Sure why not

I wonder if Xenomorphs will one day find their way to Gensokyo? Yukari might have to call in the Predators to take care of them!
[×] Yes*
-[×] Can the other Taoists Tojiko join us?
-[×] Does Miko know about the problems Byakuren has with her followers?

*It's a real shame Miko hasn't introduced Futo to Star Trek yet. I wonder how that would go over with Futo, a society where humans and non-humans treat one another as perfect equals?
>>27904
Too much too soon, I think. Alien still fits in her world view.
[x] Yes

Congrats!
[x] Yes

As for mentioning Byakuren being at odds with her followers, I don't feel that we should gossip about something like that considering that, at least on paper, they are direct rivals.
[x] Yes

Yes
YES
Oh yes.

Also the I used to be a man section made me choke on my morning coffee.
File 139889383516.jpg - (194.24KB, 800x539, completely related.jpg) [iqdb]
27910
New thread:

>>/youkai/27909
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