Hina leaves you two to yourselves as she heads off, teapot in hand. After she's out of earshot, Sanae leans in close to you.
"This is weird," She whispers, "What kind of goddess doesn't have a shrine?"
You look around. There's definitely nothing resembling a shrine around, not even a small one. Nor is there anything resembling a path into or out of this small clearing. In fact, when you look to where Hina just walked off to you notice that the underbrush doesn't seem disturbed at all.
"Maybe it's somewhere else?" You whisper back, "We'll just have to ask."
She doesn't seem satisfied with that. "Hmm."
After a few minutes, Hina returns, carefully cradling the now heavier pot. With a wave of her hand, she makes a small bit of flame near the center of the stumps. Much to your unease, it's a bizarre whitish-purple color rather than a more normal orange.
"That's... scary," You mutter.
"It is." Sanae agrees with a nod, carefully focusing on it. "But I... think it's safe."
Hina just smiles. "Well, it won't hurt the tea. Just don't touch it yourselves, OK?"
"Hina," Sanae asks, as the three of you wait for the tea to brew, "Where is your shrine?"
Hina looks puzzled by the question. But after a few moments, she responds. "This isn't quite like the outside world. I can gather faith directly, without a shrine."
"It's easy to believe in something you can see, right?" Hina giggles, "I just have to make sure to wander close to the village every once in a while. But I try not to get too close. I gather misfortune and curses, but sometimes they get loose from me."
That sounds dangerous, especially when uttered around that purple flame. Sanae, however, doesn't seem to pay it any mind.
"But, there's at least one major shrine here... are you saying goddesses like you don't need even a minor one?"
"That's right," Hina nods. "By the way, do you mean the Hakurei shrine?"
Sanae nods. "That's right. Do you know where it is?"
That's your first time hearing of any of this. A competing shrine would be trouble, wouldn't it? Maybe Sanae thought it wasn't important to mention, but it definitely seems important.
Hina laughs. "Why, would you go there? I wouldn't recommend that. The shrine maiden doesn't take kindly to troublemakers."
"I think you have to answer my questions now, right?" Sanae laughs, deflecting the question. "Or else I think I'm allowed to beat you up again."
Hina sighs a little in resignation. "Well, that's true. It'll make more sense if I start with what's between here and there. First, let me start with this forest..."
You sense your chance to ask about this other shrine slipping away, but maybe it's best not to bring it up right now.
[ ] Ask for more information about this other shrine... from both of these two. [ ] Let Sanae continue with her questions.
[x] Ask for more information about this other shrine. From both of these two.
"There's another shrine here?"
Your curiosity gets the better of you so you can't help but butt in.
"That's right," Hina says, "Didn't your friend mention it?"
"It's a run down, decrepit one," Sanae quickly replies, "and it's run by a lazy shrine maiden. It barely gathers any faith even though Gensokyo is full of it."
"So why's it the only one, then? Seems like someone else could do a better job."
Sanae smiles, but it's a dangerous one. "I know, right?"
A wave of realization washes over you. "Oh, I see."
This isn't just a mission trip, but maybe a bit of a crusade. Not that you really mind, of course - at least for now, your goal is still to get out of here. But you guess that does inform your role a bit.
"By the way," Sanae says, turning to Hina, "I was going to ask you later, but... we've got more than enough space at our shrine, if you'd---"
"No." Hina says, flatly. "You're definitely troublemakers... even if you are right about the Hakurei shrine."
"Absolutely," Hina says, removing the pot from the fire. "Although I won't get in your way, either. I'd rather be well away from things when the Hakurei shrine maiden comes for you."
Sanae nods, completely ignoring the bit about the other shrine maiden. "Well, if you change your mind, we'll still accept you."
"I won't," Hina says, "Besides, what kind of shrine would want to be associated with curses?"
"Oh," Sanae laughs, "Well, I don't think it would be a problem."
You don't see how it wouldn't be, but you decide not to drag things any more off topic. "Sorry. You were going to tell us about the forest?"
"Right, right," Hina says, as she gets up and heads back to her hollow. "Well, aside from being wild and full of misfortune, there's not much here. But, just beyond this..."
She pulls a small pouch out of the hollow of the tree, taking a bit of the contents and adding it to the tea pot. "... you'll run into some farmland. And farmers, of course."
She continues through the surrounding area first, after pouring the tea. You learn about the village, the Hakurei shrine, and a few other wilder places that you're probably best avoiding. For someone who primarily dwells in the forest, she's got quite a good memory of layouts.
Sanae thought far enough ahead to bring a pad of paper and a pencil, so she spends most of the time taking notes and drawing maps. You mainly just savor your tea and try to take it all in.
After the surroundings, Hina pauses. "More tea?"
Sanae nods. "Yes, thank you."
"Well," Hina says, "Actually, I'll need to fill the pot again. There's more to talk about than I thought. Please wait here."
"That's ok, we'll wait."
After Hina gets out of sight, an oddly familiar voice calls out from the bushes.
It's... that fairy from before. Is this thing still following you? You thought it wandered off. Sanae looks to you, raising an eyebrow questioningly.
[ ] Ask Sanae to deal with it. [ ] You're owed at least one ruse out of it, you think.
[x] You're owed at least one ruse out of it, you think.
Now that you're back under Sanae's protection, you decide to have a bit of fun with it. Verbally, of course -
"I don't know," You shrug, looking it right in the eye. "Maybe it's confused? I think I'd remember someone like this."
It's face scrunches up again for a moment, but then it relaxes. "Follow? Crash?"
Sanae laughs. "It's cute. What's it even trying to say?"
"Beats me. Definitely seems confused."
You think it's on to you. It gives you one heck of an evil eye before turning to Sanae.
"Come where?" Sanae asks. "Do you want to show us something?"
Sanae turns to her as she speaks, so you take the opportunity to make a face at the little fairy. You can behave like a kid, too. It notices, making a face back. Sanae turns around, but you've returned to your poker face before she does.
"We're busy right now," You say, "So you'll have to find us later."
The fairy, seeing that this new person doesn't seem interested either, looks back to you.
With that, it leaves. You chuckle a bit. Making enemies of fairies might not be the best idea, but it sure feels good.
"Geez," Sanae says, amused but a bit shocked, "What was that all about?"
"I wonder," You say, trying your best to keep your satisfied smile from shining through. "I guess it just doesn't like me?"
Right about then, Hina returns. "Are the fairies bothering you? You should just shoot them, they can get to be a real nuisance."
"I kinda wanted to see what it would do," Sanae said, laughing, "Pranks or not."
"Hmm," Hina says, "Well, it does get old after a while. You'll get sick of them soon enough. Now, where was I?"
"Umm, somewhere around 'the fringes'," Sanae says, "I think you were going to talk about the mountain first."
You didn't have really anything to add last time, so this time you wrack your brain for any questions you might have.
[ ] <Questions for Hina> [ ] Listen intently. ============================================== Kind of a cop-out vote, but I'll be writing again in ~6h so it's just a short wait.
Although you wrack your brain, you can't really come up with anything you'd want to ask this Hina person. Instead, you opt to just listen and take note of what she's saying... and keep watch for the fairy, should it decide to return.
"So, the mountain..."
Hina continues on. That river you passed on earlier is apparently home to a whole host of kappa, although the legends you know about kappa and these creatures don't really match up aside from them living in water. The do sound friendly to humans, though, so you shouldn't have to worry much about them. The tengu do only have the one village, so you seem to be good on that front.
here's a fairly well established trail that runs closer to the river, although it runs right up to the tengu village so only merchants really use it now.Still, that sounds like where the rest of your shrine's path should meet up with existing infrastructure. That info alone made this little diversion useful, even if you're nowhere near where people will be travelling.
You do notice the fairy once or twice, peeking out from behind a tree, but it seems to be wary of Hina. Although you try to focus on Hina's lecture, once she gets away from the mountain and into "places you should definitely avoid", you find your thoughts drifting to that popped fairy from earlier. Do these things die? Where do they even come from? Who makes those little dresses?
By the time Hina gets through everything, you definitely feel like you've taken on too much information. You're tired, even though you've been sitting here not doing anything for at least an hour or two.
"... and that's everything," Hina says, "Well, everything I know about at least."
Sanae seems to be in much the same boat as you. "That's... a lot of different places."
"Gensokyo is small," Hina says, "But there's a little bit of everything."
"Well, that's way more information than I thought we'd get," Sanae says, before turning to you. "We'll definitely have to beat up anyone else we meet."
You're not sure what to make of that. It almost sounds like a joke, but you can't be sure. "Might makes right, huh?"
Sanae nods energetically, although she pauses before responding. "... actually, that probably would just scare people off wouldn't it?"
"Or scare them into believing," You nod, "That's worked for some religions in the past."
While Sanae seriously considers the idea, Hina speaks up. "I don't mean to rush you, but it's about time I make my rounds."
"Oh," Sanae says, snapping out of thought, "We probably should get going, shouldn't we?"
You nod. "Probably. Where to?"
She thinks about it for a moment, then glances down to her notebook. "... my brain is mush."
Hina laughs. "Well, you did want everything. You're welcome to rest here if you want, but I really do need to get going."
"Sure." You say, "Thanks for everything."
Sanae looks up, giving her a warm smile. "Thanks again!"
Hina gives her a bit of an odd look. "Well, I didn't have much choice, did I? Please, try not to cause too much trouble."
With that, she leaves after carefully stashing her tea and tea pot back into the hollow. Sanae seems to be at a loss, fumbling through her notebook.
[ ] Suggest lunch. Sanae's been burning a lot of energy, you're sure she could use it. [ ] Suggest checking out the river. You want to check on the state of this path [ ] Suggest heading to the nearby farms. Better to start spreading the word early.
[x] Suggest lunch. Sanae's been burning a lot of energy, you're sure she could use it.
"How about we head back to the shrine?" You suggest, "It's no good to skip a meal, especially when you're working hard."
Sanae stops flipping for a moment, then closes her little notebook. "Huh. I guess it is lunch time, isn't it?"
"I think so," You say, "Though, I don't have a watch."
Sanae laughs. "Why didn't we think to bring a lunch, anyway?"
"Beats me," You say, shrugging. "We'll just have to remember next time. Although... it's not going to be trouble for you to fly both of us, is it?"
She shakes her head. "I'll be fine. After that fight, I really think I'm getting the finer points of flying now. You ready?"
"Yeah, let's go."
Without any of the unsteadiness from earlier, you gently rise up off the ground. "What are the finer points, anyway?"
"Um... hold on."
You see why she wanted to wait in a moment. The canopy is still dense here, yet Sanae manages to weave you both through it without so much as brushing you up against a leaf - although you come close a few times. Once through the canopy you see the open sky again.
Sanae brings you within earshot as she sends you both on an upward trajectory.
"So, the finer points..." Sanae pauses for a moment, then laughs. "Actually, I don't know how to explain it! It's just a lot easier."
"That's fine then," You say, although you can't help but catch a bit of her giddiness. "It's a cool power."
"It doesn't bother you, does it?"
"You know," She says, a bit skittishly, "Being normal."
"Not really," You say, after pausing for a moment to think it over. "It feels weird, I guess, but it doesn't bother me."
She smiles. "Not even a little?"
"Nope. Not right now, anyway."
"Kanako said I should ask you that after you'd seen a bit of the world," She says, "She's worried you might find it tough here."
"Is she?" You ask. "She seems like the type to mention that directly."
"It came up while you were sleeping last night. She wanted you to have a chance to see a bit of it first before thinking about it."
"Well," You say, "I'll keep the concern in mind. But for now, I'm good."
"Can I try something?"
"Some advanced movement."
You look down. It's strange how quickly you've gotten used to this, too. Once the path exists, you'll have to make a point of making the trip yourself... maybe. Then again, that might be unwise, given all you know about the mountain now.
You laugh. "Sure. Just don't drop me. I'm normal, so I think I'd handle that poorly."
You suddenly spiral out of... no, just spiral. Barrel rolls. That's what she wanted? A look to your side shows Sanae doing the same, but in the opposite direction. You shut your eyes - it's a bit disorienting when you aren't the one causing the spinning.
... well, you can't help yourself for long, so you open one eye. She's not just rotating both of you, but accelerating and weaving the two of you around each other. You shut it again. Why did you say yes?
"I'm getting sick," You finally call out, "Can you stop?"
She laughs. "Ok, ok. Sorry."
In a few short moments, you come back into the steady flying pattern you'd become accustomed too. You open your eyes. Yeah, you can tell at least one of you was having a blast.
"Seriously," You say, "That was like a bad roller coaster ride. Only I wasn't strapped into anything."
"It was pretty smooth though, wasn't it?" She asks. "I wasn't sure I could do it with the two of us."
"It was, but... wait, you, weren't sure?"
She laughs. "I would have caught you, don't worry!"
You can't help but be caught up in her laughter, too. Maybe it's the adrenaline. "Can I take back my answer from earlier?"
"Hey, can we try going really fast?"
"If there's no spinning," You say, a bit hesitantly, "Go for it."
Speedy mode is decidedly more tolerable. The acceleration is a bit jarring, but once you're up to speed there's not much of a difference aside from the wind in your face and the rate that the ground is speeding away under you. The wind resistance you feel goes away in time, and the two of you touch down in front of the shrine without any real issues.
"That actually seems useful," You say, taking a quick inventory of the grounds. You don't see anyone else here, but you guess there's no telling with gods if they're around or not. "Is it more tiring than going slow?"
She shakes her head. "It's harder, but not too hard."
The two of you start walking towards the building you stayed in last night. "How hungry are you? We've got some leftovers from breakfast that we could scarf down if you don't want too much."
"Hungry," She says, indecisively. She says she's not tired, but she certainly looks it. "But, a snack would be good too..."
Well, you can't handle a fairy, but you can handle the 'I don't know what I want' meal problem easily enough. Especially when you've already decided you'll be doing the preparing.
[ ] Quick lunch. You don't want to slack off too much. [ ] Big lunch. Gotta keep that energy up.
[x] Quick lunch. You don't want to slack off too much.
"It's better if we don't eat too much. Wouldn't want to get too bloated or sick if we get into another situation later."
"Hum," She says, as the two of you head inside, "Yeah, that's true. I guess I could make the leftover rice into ---"
"Whoa, hold on," You say, "I'll take care of it. I can't fly, but I can handle lunch just fine."
She looks like she's about to argue with that, but instead just nods. "I'll wait out here."
You put together a few rice balls using the leftover rice, using the assorted sides as filling. One for each of you now, maybe one for later... and done. About as quick as lunches can be, and you can even eat these on the way to wherever you're headed next.
You find Sanae resting outside on the porch. You guess the adrenaline from earlier has worn off, because she looks hungry - and like she could use a nap.
"Here," You say, handing her one of the ones with a sweeter filling, "Should be about right."
Taking a seat next to her, you start digging into your own. You were quite a bit hungrier than you thought. The two of you eat at an incredible pace, demolishing the two balls in a matter of only a few minutes.
... something's off, though. You feel like you're being watched.
"Hey, shrine maiden!"
An unfamiliar voice calls out from somewhere high above you. Sanae lazily tilts her head towards the sky. You do as well. It's hard to make out the figure, but you notice one thing - very pointy shoes.
"Hello!" She calls out again, drawing closer. "I'm a reporter with the Bunbunmaru News! Do either of you two have time for an interview? We're doing a piece on your new shrine!"
As she draws closer, you can see now that whoever this is has a rather nice looking camera handy. as well as a notepad. Ah, and you think you saw that style of dress with some of the tengu. Maybe she's with them?
Regardless, this is all a bit strange. You look to Sanae. "Bunbubmaru News? How'd she even hear about this place already?"
Sanae looks just as confused as you.
[ ] Strange, but a news story could help get the word out. How convenient! [ ] Sounds suspicious. Politely decline and look for an excuse to leave.
[x] Strange, but a news story could help get the word out. How convenient!
"I think we should do it," You say to the puzzled shrine maiden, "It might help people find us up here. What's the worst that could happen?"
Sanae thinks it over for a moment, then nods. She turns skyward again. "We have time! Come and sit with us."
Whoever this is, she's quite fast. She takes her seat to Sanae's side in mere moments. "Great! Let's start with introductions. My name is Aya Shamemairu, and as I already mentioned I'm a reporter. What are your names?"
"I'm the head priestess of the Moriya shrine, Sanae Kochiya," Sanae says, pausing and turning to you. You introduce yourself as the assistant priest and a new convert.
"Great! Now," Aya continues, "I'd like to ask you a few questions about the shrine."
She peppers you with rapid-fire questions, one after the other. What kind of shrine is this? What god resides here? Why did you suddenly appear in Gensokyo? Sanae handles them quite well, taking on the spokesman role flawlessly. You note her answer for later use - if these are going to show up somewhere, you'll want to be consistent.
As the list goes on though, the questions become strange. What's your favorite color? If you had to pick between being too hot and too cold, which would you pick?
"You're doing great, thank you," Aya continues, "Now---"
"I'm not trying to be rude," You ask, unable to help yourself. This is starting to feel more like one of those bad variety shows than a proper news interview, "Aren't these getting a bit silly?"
"No, not at all!" Aya laughs, "These are important question. People want to know. Now - so, do you guys, you know?"
"Know what?" You ask, suddenly wary of what kind of interview you've walked into.
"You know, that?"
[ ] What kind of news paper is this? [ ] Answer straight. [ ] Oblivious answer.
You decide to play the oblivious one, although it's a bit hard to do so. "I'm sorry, I don't follow."
Aya looks puzzled. "What, are you a bit slow?" she asks, bluntly. You can tell it's not meant to insult, but it stings all the same. Before you can respond, Sanae piques up.
"We definitely don't." She says firmly, "This is sacred ground."
Sanae looks a bit disappointed as she looks to you. You guess it might be bad if you let that question go unchallenged in a news article.
Aya frowns at that answer. "Not even a little bit? It's not like you'd have to defile the grounds, there's plenty of mountain around."
"Got it," Aya says, jotting down in her notebook, "But you want to, right? I mean, a young man and a young woman living together..."
Neither you nor Sanae knows how to respond to that one, so there's just awkward silence for a few seconds.
"Just kidding!" Aya laughs, "Come on, who do you take me for? Next question! How many visitors have you had so far?"
"Two, right?" You say, looking to Sanae.
"Two," Sanae nods. "One human, and one Tengu. Oh wait, I guess it's three now that you've visited."
She continues with a few more, somewhat normal, questions. How do you intend to get worshippers up here? Does the shrine sell charms, or is it only donation based (you learn that Sanae does prepare charms, in addition to everything else that she does). Is it always open or are there specific hours? General information questions, and quite a few of them.
Aya shows no signs of slowing down, but the two of you must be. She seems to pick up on this "And, I'll end it here. Why should anyone visit this shrine?"
Sanae puffs out her chest. "Because it's the best shrine in Gensokyo!"
"That's it?" Aya asks, seemingly not satisfied with the answer.
"Should there be more?" Sanae asks.
"Well," Aya says, "It's just disappointing, is all. Can't every shrine say that?"
"They'd be lying," Sanae says, frowning a bit. You can tell Aya is starting to get on her nerves. You decide to take over for a bit.
[ ] Bring up the idea of some kind of "grand opening" event. That could definitely draw people. [ ] Play your role - you became assistant priest because of how great it was.
[x] Bring up the idea of some kind of "grand opening" event. That could definitely draw people.
"Maybe something like a 'grand opening' event could work?" You wonder aloud, turning to Sanae, "I've seen those do quite well."
It takes a few seconds for her to cast off her foul mood, but she smiles. "Oh, that might work. We haven't really had much time to think about the opening yet."
You look to Aya. "Could you give us a minute?"
"Aahh... normally, I wouldn't," She says, "But I guess I can, since you did just show up yesterday. Of course you wouldn't have time to think about it."
"Let's talk inside."
Sanae nods. "Sure."
Aya seems ok with that, so you two step inside the living quarters. You head back to the dining room to give yourself some space to talk.
The first words out of Sanae's mouth are a sigh. "She's so energetic."
You nod. "Yeah, I almost regret calling her down. But some advertising should do us good. Can you think of anything?"
"Well," Sanae says, "We do sell charms to people for various things. Maybe we could give some away?"
"That's good," You say, thinking. "Maybe every 30th visitor gets one, or something. Do you charge for blessings?"
"No," She says, "It's donation only. But maybe we could give out a special one to some people?"
"What, like 'this will make you extra lucky'?"
She laughs. "Yeah, you can't put all your effort in all the time."
The two of you discuss it for a bit, but those two ideas are the best that you manage to come up with. Maybe not optimal, but they'll do and they're fairly low effort on your part. As you're discussing it though, you think you hit a snag.
If you're both out trying to gather followers, how will you handle this?
[ ] Bring it up now, while the discussion is fresh. [ ] It's solvable. Bring it up later and get Aya her answer. ================================================================== Next one called in ~7h.
Also, I decided Sunday afternoon isn't the best time for the make-up update, so I'll only do the evening one tomorrow. Instead I think I'll do it Wednesday morning, as I should have some time even while travelling.
[x] Bring it up now, while the discussion is fresh.
If she waits, she'll probably eavesdrop. It's good that they know her real character sooner rather than later. And if she hears something mildly important and passes it on (doubtful, on both accounts) even more so. It's like lending money to a friend: a true test of character.
[x] Bring it up now, while the discussion is fresh.
Sanae seems to have noticed the worry on your face. "Something the matter?"
"Yeah", you say, frowning, "So... who's going to do all this if we're out spreading the word ourselves?"
It takes a moment for that to sink in, but she seems to understand the problem after a bit. "Huh. Should we do something else?"
"Hmm... maybe we could set it for a specific day?" You offer, still keen on the other ideas. "I wonder how long it'll take us to finish the rest of the path to the shrine."
"Oh, not an ongoing event, then?"
You shrug. "Might work. But we'd need to pick the right day."
"We'll do it the day after tomorrow," She says, after thinking for a bit. "A day to get people to come and a spare day."
You hesitate. "Won't it take longer than a day to build the path?"
"Nope!" She laughs. "We could do it tonight if we had to."
Your mind flashes back to earlier when Kanako was hurling massive logs up the side of the mountain with ease. Still, isn't there the issue of faith? You can't say you understand it entirely, but you do understand that feats require worshippers.
Quietly, you ask, "Wouldn't that be hard with no worshippers?"
Sanae thinks about it for a moment. "Hmm... well, a little bit," She says, "Maybe there's something else?"
You go round in circles for a bit, but there really doesn't seem to be much of a way out of it. Sanae assures you that it'll be fine, so you both agree that two and a half days seems about right. You also hash out the details of how the path leading up to the shrine will be marked, so that you can include it in the response.
It'll be a busy few days, but it'll be ok you think.
It takes you a bit to spot Aya after leaving the guest house. At first you're afraid she's left, but you notice her taking a few pictures of the shrine. You call out to her as you head over.
"So," She says, putting down the camera for a bit. "How was the powwow?"
You fill her in on the details.
She seems a lot more satisfied with that answer. "Great! See, that's how you should do it."
Sanae coughs a bit in response. "So, was that all the questions?"
"That's it," She nods, "Thank you for the interview! I'll even throw in a complimentary delivery for you tomorrow. See you!"
Before you can even manage a goodbye, she bolts into the sky. You can't help but marvel at her speed. Sanae was fast earlier, but this is something else.
"... phew." Sanae exhales after deep breath. "Was that really a good idea?"
You shrug. "I guess we'll see. Should we get going?"
"Should we check out the river next?" Sanae asks, a dangerous look on her face, "It might be fun to meet the kappa."
[ ] Sounds good. [ ] Meeting some humans might be better.
"Why not try the farms or the village instead?" You wonder, "It'd feel weird if we didn't even talk to a few humans today."
The dangerous glint in Sanae's eye softens a bit. "Ah, yeah. That's a better idea, isn't it?"
"Of the two, I think so," You say, shrugging. Probably better for the kappa, too - maybe tomorrow she won't want to blast them.
"Me too," She says, "The village, then?"
"Yeah, that sounds good. Let's fly over the farms though to see if we can see anything."
The familiar embrace of the wind picks you up once more, and the two of you head out again - full speed from the start this time. She's gotten quite good at this. You decide to try to strike up a conversation as you've got a few minutes before you hit anything habited.
"So, was that Aya person flying the same way as you do?"
"It looked like she was riding the wind as well," You say, "I was just curious."
"No, that was different."
"How to explain it..."
You don't really get a satisfactory explanation, but it does pass the time. The forest thins out below you as you converse, and you're clearly in human inhabited land before too long. Harvest time, it seems like. The people are quite busy.
"What's that?" you ask, seeing a large gathering of people near a corner of one of the fields. Other than having a half dozen or so people not harvesting, you can't see what's going on from this height.
"I'm not sure," Sanae says, "Let's check it out."
The two of you float closer, staying overhead to remain mostly unnoticed.
"A shrine, maybe?" You ask. It certainly looks like one of those small, roadside shrines. "Wonder who they're praying to."
"Us, in a few minutes," She says, sounding all fired up again. "Let's go."
[ ] No need to rush. Let's observe for now. [ ] Assistant priest mode - activate. [ ] Leave them be, it's just a few people.
You give an affirmative nod. This is your one job here, after all - to help convert the public. Time to sell it.
"I'll follow your lead."
The two of you descend slowly and without notice down toward the unsuspecting worshippers. And, once on the ground, Sanae spares no time in walking over to them. You follow, just a bit behind.
"Hello!" She calls out, announcing herself. "What's troubling you all?"
They turn, seemingly surprised by you two. Yeah, these people definitely look normal - no animal bits or other strangeness that you can see. They grip their tools as they walk towards you, but only lightly. It's a few younger kids and an older man.
"Who are you?" The old one demands, stepping in front of the crowd. "You don't look familiar."
One of the others turns to him. "Isn't she from the shrine?"
"Nah," The old guy responds, "Colors are wrong. I think? Besides, the shrine maiden there doesn't go out."
"We're from the Moryia shrine," Sanae says confidently, "And I'm the head priestess. Are you looking for a blessing?"
"Moriya shrine?" The old guy asks, clearly at a loss. He turns back to the crowd. "You boys ever heard of that one?"
While they talk among themselves, trying to figure out this mystery, Sanae walks past the group of people and up to the roadside shrine. Again, you follow. She looks it over for a little bit before turning back to the crowd.
"Are you praying for a good harvest?" She asks them. "We can help with that."
That gets them off of whatever discussion they were having. "Yeah. You can help?"
Sanae nods. "Of course. Here, let me show you a little taste." She turns to you for a moment, making it clear that you should follow, then turns to the field. "Over here."
You both walk to the edge of the nearby rice field as the farmers look on. She sits on the ground and prepares... well, you're not quite sure, but you take a similar pose behind her.
After a few moments, she rises to her feet again. "There."
You stand, looking out into the field. The unharvested rice plants within arm's reach have all grown considerable volume. Although you don't think there's any more plants, the ones that are there look like they'd give a whole lot more rice. A whole field of this would be incredible.
[ ] Act like you've seen this plenty of times already. Might lend to your authority. [ ] Act like you've never seen anything like it. Might get the crowd into it. ================================================================== New plan. I'll call this one tomorrow around noonish, but stuff may come up and I may not finish the update before travelling (most of the way) home later in the day. If that's the case, it'll show up Tuesday afternoon instead.
[x] Act like you've never seen anything like it. Might get the crowd into it.
Although you've seen Sanae perform a few feats before, the foremost in your mind being flight, you still can't help but be amazed by this one too. You decide not to subdue your amazement. If anything, it might sell the shrine better.
Sanae, though, seems surprised by your sudden outburst. She turns around. Just as she does, the crowd also joins in.
"Whoa!" "That's amazing!"
Sanae recovers from the initial shock rather abruptly, taking on her previous dignified aura. "As I said, this is just a little taste. If you worship at our shrine, your whole field could look like this."
They don't really know what to make of this, and start conversing amongst themselves. In a moment though, they all prostrate themselves before you.
"Please, Priestess," The old leader starts, looking Sanae in the eye from the ground, "Tell us, where is this shrine?"
"Follow the old merchant path up the nearby mountain, towards the Tengu village," She says, pointing, "We're at the summit. You'll know the trail by the frog markings."
"But..." The old man looks down, "That's incredibly dangerous."
"It's not anymore," Sanae says, "We've made it safe."
"Another miracle!" He yells.
Suddenly, one of the younger ones stands up and looks you in the eye. He's tense. His focus shifts to Sanae. "How do we know these are not youkai?"
The old man sits up and look at him, sternly. "Quiet! Clearly, this is a priestess."
"It's too convenient!" The younger man yells back, "Priestesses don't come and bless fields. They barely leave their shrines! This is a youkai trying to trick us in some way."
[ ] Speak up on Sanae's behalf. [ ] Let Sanae handle it. ======================================================== Made it home, so back to normal schedule as of today. But, this week I'll toss in a double updates tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday rather than just Saturday to help mitigate the week of nothing.
We're the normal guy here. It would sound better if we vouched for her instead of a godly being trying to explain herself. And she also currently knows Gensokyo as much as us, so it's fine for us to fill them in.
"She's a human, just like me," You say, not wanting to stand for that kind of accusation, "Or do you think I'm a youkai, too?"
"Yeah, I do," The man looks to you, the fire still burning in his eyes. "That, or you're under her spell. Ow!"
The old man whacks the back of the younger's head. "I said quiet! Let me handle this."
His wrinkled face turns towards yours. "What family are you from?"
You give your family name, not really thinking much about the question. But, when you do, the old man frowns. "I don't know of that family."
"See! He's --- oof!"
The man is faster and stronger than he looks. With a single movement, he knocks the younger man down into the dirt. "Are you deaf?" he asks the downed man, before turning back to you.
"It's an odd name, too. Sounds made up."
"I don't see why you'd know of it," You shrug, "I'm not from Gensokyo. I appeared here yesterday along with the shrine. And, frankly, it was so amazing that I asked them to let me help them out on their mission. The goddess of the shrine is truly wonderful."
That last bit is somewhat of an exaggeration, but it rolls off the tongue nicely enough.
He looks on for a few moments, but eventually nods. "Hmm." He turns around to face the other men with him. "Do the rest of you believe him?"
"I recognize those shoes," One of them says, pointing down. "When I lived in the outside world, those were popular. I believe him."
You look down. Oh... guess you forgot the sandals in your excitement this morning.
"Yeah, I do too."
"Let's test the rice to see if it's real," another says, "If it's a youkai, it'll be poisoned or wither away soon."
The older man seems satisfied with their responses as well. He turns to Sanae. "What do you take in offering?"
"Money is fine!" She says, smiling, "Although, we really just want you to come and pray. That's more valuable to us than money."
"Come and get eaten, more like," The troublemaker mutters, standing up. He's really not buying it.
He's being a bit more careful this time, keeping one eye on the old man. He pulls out his belt knife, holding it up for you to see. "Here, let me prick your finger with this. It won't do much to a youkai, but if you're human you'll bleed like the rest of us."
[ ] Do it. It's just a little pinprick. [ ] Five outta six converts isn't bad. Ignore him.
You look to Sanae, because although he's just poking you you imagine he's going to want to pull her in as well. Although you don't exchange words, she seems indifferent towards the thing.
"Fine," You say, extending your left hand, "Go for it."
The man didn't seem to be expecting that response. He looks to the old man who, although not pleased, doesn't seem to care to stop him. He looks back to his knife, then to you.
"Yeah, alright," He says, walking towards you. "Hold still."
He grasps your hand with one of his, then gives you a rather rough poke to your ring finger. And... a bit of a slice, as his hand slips.
It's not a bad cut, nor particularly painful, but it's enough that the blood doesn't require much coaxing to come out. You immediately draw your hand back and put some pressure on the cut with your other hand.
"It's fine," You say, taking a step back from the man, "Happy?"
"Yeah," He says, wiping his knife on his trousers, "Sorry. I didn't need to do that."
"No, you did," Sanae says, "And if he's fine with it, you don't need to apologize. But we would appreciate it if you'd offer a few prayers at the shrine."
He nods. "Sure."
"Well," You say, turning to Sanae, "Should we get going?"
Sanae seems OK with that. "Let's. Thank you all in advance!"
The two of you rise into the air, although this time you've got an audience. Once you're out of earshot, Sanae moves you close to her as you two lazily head towards the village. "Let me see your hand. Is it bad?"
"It's not too bad," You say, although as you relieve pressure you see that it's still bleeding and it's starting to stain your fingers. "Ah... well, it's just a flesh wound. I guess it does look kinda gruesome."
"Want me to heal it?" She offers, "You can't go bleeding all over the place."
[ ] Sure. [ ] You just need something to wrap it. ============================================================= Next one will be in about 8h.
You see no real reason to refuse, and she's right - you can't go bleeding all over the place.
"Sure. It's no trouble, is it?"
"Nope!" She says, looking off into the distance. "Let's set down over there. I don't want to be doing too much at once."
The landing spot she picks is rather unremarkable. It's field, like almost everything around here, but it appears to not be quite ready to harvest yet. There's no one around, so the two of you land right in-between some of the rows.
"I can't believe that guy," She says, as you two set down. "You know, you didn't have to do that. Here, give me your hand."
"It worked, didn't it?" You ask, giving her your hand. "If he wasn't so clumsy it wouldn't have even been a problem. And I think we'll be seeing all of them in the future."
She sighs, then looks down at your hand. "Still... wait, hold still. It's probably best if you turn away, too."
You do as asked, turning your gaze out into the field. "Why's that?"
"Miracles are easier when no one is watching."
You wonder what kind of plants these are. Strange looking things. "I guess that makes sense. Does that mean you're just using less of Kanako's faith reserves?"
"Actually," She says, "I'm using my faith for this."
You turn back to face her, confused by that remark. "Huh?"
She looks you in the eyes before scolding you. "Look away, please."
"Right," You say, turning away again. "But you're saying this is your power?"
"Did I forget to mention it earlier?" She asks, "I grant miracles. I'm actually not much like a normal human, so it's good he didn't ask to poke me too. It might not have worked."
You guess in all the excitement yesterday, you didn't really put two and two together. That makes sense. Obviously, she's not a normal human - or else she'd be like you.
"I guess I just assumed it was a priestess thing."
"Well, it sort of is," She says, "But... ah, there. You can turn around now."
You turn around and take a look at your hand. It's perfectly healed - and the dried blood on your other hand is strangely missing as well. You rub the previously wounded finger, and really can't find any fault with it. "Whoa, thanks. Good as new!"
She smiles. "It's nothing. Actually, I don't think I even needed you to turn away."
"Hmm? Sorry, I don't follow."
"You're pretty faithful, aren't you?" She notes, still grinning, "We need a lot of followers like you! Ready?"
You laugh. Yeah, you think you get it. That doesn't explain why blowing two people around on divine wind is easier that healing a cut if someone is looking at it, but you'll leave that one for later. "I guess. After all I've seen, a cut is probably nothing to someone like you."
The wind picks up again and the two of you lazily head skyward again. "That's true. Maybe that's why Kanako thinks there's so much faith to gather here. Huh?"
Sanae's gaze drifts off to her opposite side. You can't see through her, obviously. "What is it?"
"Someone's flying at us."
[ ] Maybe we should get outta here. [ ] See what they want. =================================================== Doubles tomorrow, too - next one will be called in about 12h.
"Flying, huh?" You try to look around her, but trying to move while suspended like this doesn't work too well. "Maybe we should see what they want."
"I agree," Sanae says, "Maybe I'll get to practice some more!"
You just laugh. Yeah, you're starting to feel like this isn't a bad side to be on. Sanae begins moving you both towards the figure, and it isn't too long before you can see what it is. Another woman, with hair as blond as her blouse. A reddish-orange hat and dress compliment it, reminding you of fall.
As she draws closer, though, you can tell that she's not pleased about something. "You two!" She finally calls out, "Who are you?"
"Who are you?" Sanae echoes back. Guess she's not going to be polite with this one. "Do you need something?"
"Do you think you can just walk in here and steal my faith?" She asks, coming to rest a few paces from you two. "I have barely enough as it is!"
Sanae pauses for a moment, before having a flicker of realization. "Oh. Was that your shrine?"
You feel yourself begin to drift away from those two. Is Sanae moving you out of the line of fire?
"Yes!" She yells, vehemently, "That old man is one of the few people who even bothers to worship me any more, you can't just take him or his workers!"
"Why not?" Sanae asks, bluntly. "The best shrine should get the most worshippers, right?"
Yeah, you can definitely see where this is going. Another goddess of some kind, and peaceful coexistence doesn't seem to be on the Moriya shrine's list of things to do. You continue to drift away - Sanae seems to have no intention of lowering you to the ground this time.
[ ] It's probably futile, but maybe you can try talking this out? [ ] Ask to be let down before the fireworks start. [ ] If Sanae thinks you'll be fine, you wouldn't mind watching from up here. ============================================================ Doubles again - 8h or so.
[x] It's probably futile, but maybe you can try talking this out?
"Can we, uh," You say, struggling to wrap your head around even what to say here, "just talk about this? Maybe we can work something out?"
They both just turn to stare at you in response. Yeah, you didn't think so. After pondering just how to respond, they turn back to each other. Ignoring you seems to be mutually agreed on.
"We can't, right?" Sanae asks the goddess. You can tell she's not entertaining the idea. "Not yet, anyway."
"Right," The goddess says, nodding. "Get ready!"
Two things happen simultaneously. First, the battle erupts. Multi-colored bullets fill the sky, although during the day like this it's not nearly as blinding to look at as last night's training was. You instinctively put up your arms.
Secondly, you feel yourself thrown well clear of the battle... but before you lose too much altitude, the wind catches you again. Intentionally, you think, although it isn't nearly as smooth as your normal flight is shaping up to be.
When it does catch you, you find yourself hanging upside down at a strange angle. It takes a few moments for you to even make sense of it, and another few to realize the battle is now over your right shoulder. You're... probably far enough away.
Suspended as you are, you can't do much but watch. Most of the bullets seem to be fading out before making it too close to you, although you find yourself flinching as the occasional laser blasts by. It's fascinating to watch. Sanae's patterns are starting to take clearer forms than they were last night. The bullet clouds are starting to take the shape of stars that deform after a while, coming in at odd angles.
The goddess? You can't really tell what hers are supposed to be. They're colorful, at least. Fitting for someone that gets prayers for a harvest.
Regardless, after only a few minutes, the last of the remaining bullets fade out. Judging by their postures, it looks like a clear win for your side. One one hand, that must mean Sanae's getting the hang of this... but on the other, well, you can't help but feel bad for the poor goddess.
She seems to have noticed the state she left you in, because right about then you feel yourself rotate to become upright. You also accelerate back towards them.
... yeah, the goddess is looking pretty rough. That nice dress has a few new holes burnt through it. Sanae looks unscratched, though you think her pride may have grown a bit larger.
You think they were were having a chat while battling, because you show up somewhere in the middle of a conversation.
"By the way," Sanae says, "If you want, you can join our shrine. Then you won't have to worry about losing any faith. I promise we'll treat you well!"
Maybe she should have offered that before beating her up?
"I just want to tend my fields," The goddess says, "And please, stay away from the crops I work so hard on. It's not fair if you just take credit for them."
[ ] Pressure her a bit. There's no reason she can't tend the fields while part of the shrine. [ ] You don't need to claim all the fields for yourself. See if there's a workable compromise here. ====================================================== Doubles tomorrow, too.
[x] Pressure her a bit. There's no reason she can't tend the fields while part of the shrine.
"You could do both, couldn't you?"
Again, both of these two turn to look at you. Although, this time, no one looks particularly angry. The goddess just looks... defeated.
"If I say 'I'll think about it', will you two leave me be?"
"No way, we'll just drop by every day to ask if you're convinced yet." Sanae says, "By the way, was that too rough? I didn't have much time to get you out of range."
"What, the air catapult thing?"
Sanae laughs. "Yeah, that. Great name!"
"It was fine once you caught me." Might make a great amusement park ride. You turn to the defeated foe. "Miss Goddess---"
"Miss Aki," You correct yourself. "It really would be for the best if you joined us. Sanae would make a great priestess for you."
"I like working alone," She says, defiantly. "I don't know what kind of shrine yours is, but I don't need it."
You doubt you'll be able to convince her on words alone.
"So, who built that one back there?" Sanae asks, before you manage to get to it yourself.
"That old man built it for me," Minoriko says, "It's more like a monument than a shrine, technically. He doesn't listen when I say he can just leave his offerings in the field and it'll work just as good."
"You mainly stick around these fields, then?" You ask, fishing around a bit for information.
"Couldn't you tell?" She asks, sounding disappointed. "The soil is way too poor for those sweet potatoes to be that big on their own. I put a lot of work in to keeping them healthy! Come to the harvest festival, and it'll be obvious which ones I helped with."
Minoriko hasn't directly said it, but you can imagine this is more than a problem about the old man. It sounds like she's been working these fields for a while, but you two showed up and promised to outdo all of the work she's done.
[ ] Maybe Sanae hasn't quite grasped it yet, either. Mention it. [ ] No reason to worry about it now. You can mention it later... or not.
[x] Maybe Sanae hasn't figured it out, either. Mention it.
"I couldn't, sorry, I'm not much of a farmer." You apologize, "But you're saying you've been working towards this harvest for a while now?"
"That's what I do," Minoriko says, "Every year for as long as I can remember."
You turn to Sanae. "That's pretty impressive, isn't it? It sounds a bit like art."
Sanae thinks about it for a moment. "Well, it was pretty hard to improve on the rice! There wasn't much wrong with it to begin with."
"I just thought I'd mention it," You say, not really wanting to go as far as to question Sanae in front of another goddess. Turning to Minoriko, you add "I'm looking forward to seeing your crops at the festival."
Again, Sanae pauses. You think she does get what you're getting at, because she adds. "Me too! But, if you're doing all that work, you aren't managing all these fields... are you? That seems like it would be tough."
Minoriko laughs. "No, no. Only that one, and that, and... that one, and..." She continues for a while, pointing out a few dozen plots. Not insignificant, but not a large number either. "Can you at least not disturb those for now?"
Sanae seems reluctant to do so, but she does agree. "Lady Kanako might have other ideas, but I think we can leave them alone. You know, if you'd join us, we could---"
"I'll think about it," Minoriko answers, using the tone she used before. Still a no, then, but tempers have cooled a bit. You imagine she won't try to blast you next time you meet unless you do something to provoke her again.
"Please do," You say, turning again to Sanae. "Should we get going to the village?"
Sanae seems fine with that. "Yes, we should get going," She nods, before turning back to the goddess. "It was nice to meet you. Do well with your harvest!"
Minoriko nods. "I will, thank you."
With that situation resolves, the two of you take off in the direction of the village. Lazy speed this time.
"She'll join us eventually," Sanae says cheerfully, "So I'd say that went well. This is a good day so far."
"Really?" You ask, confused, "How do you know?"
"Because it's really not much of a difference if she joins us or not. And if everyone else prays for the fields next to hers, it'll be clear who's better at making a good crop."
"What happens when a god runs out of faith?"
"Native gods like her? They die," Sanae says, "But, I don't think she'd have to worry about that in Gensokyo. I think she'd just end up tending maybe a plant or two."
Brutal. "It must be tough to be a god. Not that I thought I'd ever say that."
"If she'd join," Sanae says, "We'd let her tend the fields and give her a portion of the shrine's faith to do it."
[ ] Ever had a god join the shrine before? We seem to be getting rejected a lot. [ ] This is all making you feel a bit uneasy. Voice your concerns. ============================================= This is why I belayed things last time I tried Sunday doubles... it's a busy day, usually. I guess the next one will be called in 5h or so.
[x] Ever had a god join the shrine before? We seem to be getting rejected a lot.
"Has that ever happened before?" You wonder out loud, "We seem to be zero for two so far."
"You'll have to ask Kanako," Sanae says, deflecting the question. "I know of at least one, so it's not unheard of. Asking all these native gods to join was Kanako's idea after all - she seemed to think it would go smoother than this."
You laugh. "Well, maybe we shouldn't be beating them all up. Should I ask what happened to that one that joined you?"
Sanae hesitates. "... It's an old story, and Kanako tells it better than me. You really should ask her."
For now, you decide not to pry too much. You'll just add it to your list of questions to ask the big boss next time you get the chance. She doesn't seem like the type to zap you for a dumb question.
"Maybe I'll ask her over dinner," You say, "So, if a god does join, how does faith work?"
"Ah, that one's easy!" Sanae smiles. "The shrine as a whole takes in faith, and that faith gets distributed to the member gods."
"Like a pyramid scheme?" You ask, light-heartedly.
Sanae laughs. "Um... like a company, I guess, with faith being the wages."
"With Kanako as the CEO? Seems like that fits. No wonder no one wants to join."
"Please don't think of it that way," Sanae says, trying to keep a straight face, "We give equal pay to everyone. It's really not a bad idea for them to join."
You two talk for a bit about nothing much in particular as you head towards your new target - the human village. There does only seem to be one here, as you learned earlier, so it doesn't have a name other than that. It's fairly large for a small village, and quite busy.
"How do you want to do this?" You ask, "I think I'll plan on telling my story if it comes up, but I'd like to know what's coming."
The two of you hover over the village for a while, pondering. Finally, Sanae asks "Do you think we should do one big miracle or see if we can find people to help with small ones?"
[ ] Big and flashy. You want to leave a strong impression. [ ] Small is best. Word of mouth is the best advertising. [ ] Unsure. Let's just wander around and get a feel for the place today. ============================================================================ Doubles tomorrow, Tuesday, and another undecided day before Friday. Still a ways from that magic 30. I'll plan on having the first update out around lunch time (14h from now) and the second in the evening (22h or so from now).
[x] Small is best. Word of mouth is the best advertising.
"Small, definitely," You say, "I think if we go big, we might stir things up a bit too much."
She nods. "Small it is then. Let's just wander around a bit helping people."
To not be too conspicuous, she sets you two down just outside the town itself and you walk in together. It's quite lively, lots of people wandering around and plenty of small-scale street vendors selling everyday things.
You can see why Hina wanted to bring you to this place - unlike the forest or the mountain, it's all humans, and you notice that very few of them are armed. Seems relatively safe. If people just appearing in Gensokyo is common, this would be the place to bring them.
For a while, you just follow what seems like a main street until you come to the square in what's probably the middle of town. Very lively, enough so that even though your clothes stick out people don't really take note of you.
"Wow," You say to Sanae, "Busy. How are we going to find someone who needs help?"
"I guess we'll just look," She says, "The square's probably the right place for that."
So, you do that.
The two of you watch for a while, but most everyone seems to just be going about their business. Clearly, no one is just going to come up and ask you for help, and these people seem stoic enough that they're not going to go around asking for it unprovoked.
[ ] Be like the merchants - hang out in the square, loudly proclaiming your 'product' [ ] Try wandering around, asking random people.
[x] Be like the merchants - hang out in the square, loudly proclaiming your 'product'
"Maybe we should be a little more proactive here," You suggest, "No one is stopping or looking like they need help. I wonder if it would work better if we were like that guy."
You point to man who's been selling an awful lot of apples since you've been here - and you imagine, in part, because he's got someone out front yelling what a good deal they are. The suggestion is a bit of a joke, but Sanae decides to play along.
"Maybe," Sanae says, "It's the assistant's job to call people over, right?"
You laugh a bit. "That sounds right. What are we, uh, 'selling'?"
Sanae thinks for a moment. "Small miracles and exorcisms?"
"Let's give it a shot. Need a minor miracle? How bout an exorcism? We want to help you out, no charge!"
You try it for a while, but like most of the other merchants around you're mostly treated as background noise. Eventually, your voice starts to give out, so you decide to take a break from the yelling.
"Man," You say, "Do these people not need our help?"
Sanae frowns. "I can't believe they don't. Maybe we should try something else?"
[ ] Try wandering around, asking random people directly. [ ] They'll pay attention if you do something large. =========================================================== Apologies for the shortness today, work was busy and draining. Doubles tomorrow too, though.
[x] They'll pay attention if you do something large.
"Maybe we should go big and flashy, instead?" You wonder, "You know, make it impossible to ignore."
Sanae and you watch the crowd as she thinks it over. "It still needs make the shrine look good," She says, "So we'd need to find something needing a big miracle."
You continue to scan the square. "Building repair?"
Sanae shakes her head, "No, we don't want them getting lazy."
"It's too much work if people rely on you for everything."
"Ah, I see. So we'd want something they can't do on their own."
"Or somethign urgent that's just too big to do on their own," Sanae notes, "Or maybe a lot of little things at once."
Try as you might, though, you just can't think of anything. Well, nothing wholesome, anyway - you could certainly stage something like that, but getting caught would be pretty bad. You decide not to mention those things.
"Haah," Sanae finally sighs, "I think we need a miracle."
You two ponder it for a few more minutes. A clear voice in distress calls out, and on looking up, you see a panicked man running into the square.
"Fire! Fire at the forge!"
How convenient. You turn to Sanae, and quietly ask "... that wasn't one of yours, was it?"
She gives you a light tap with her paper wand. "No! But it works."
"Yeah," You say, "Let's go."
The two of you run up to the man, confirm that the fire is just down the street, then continue running. It's not hard to find due to the smoke. The fire looks like it's started under the roof, near the top of the building, with the smoke and a few tongues of flame pouring out from under the shingles.
Sanae wastes no time kneeling before the building, and you kneel at her side.
"What are you going to do?" You ask her.
"Put it out."
"Just pray," She sternly says, taking a more rigid posture.
[ ] Prayer for the fire to be extinguished. [ ] Prayer for Sanae's success. =============================================== 6h or so for the next one
Right, no time to fool around. You hope she can do this. You also stiffen your stance
"We need a ladder!"
As you sit still and pray, you hear people moving about all around you. A man bumps into you as you sit, nearly knocking you over.
"Hey! Help us!"
"We are," You answer curtly, not bothering to open your eyes.
Something wet lands on your head.
Rain? You open one eye. It's sunny, like it was earlier.
Out of nowhere, it begins to pour even while the sun hangs in the sky. The sound of the people running about is drown out by the din of the sudden shower and the crash of something heavy. The bit of the roof that was on fire caves in, leaving the flames exposed for just a moment before they get hit by the deluge.
The roar of the rain and the sound of the steam is intense. But after a few moments of it, it's clear the fire won't last too long against the sky and the flames shift to smoke and steam.
Much like it came, the rain leaves just as suddenly. Sanae stands up smoothly, although soaked, as if she's able to just ignore what just happened. Your legs are a bit unsteady, but you also stand.
Most of the people around have taken shelter under the eaves of nearby buildings, with a few still hauling water back and forth. The fire isn't fully extinguished, but it's not out of control any more. They'll be able to get it out once they find a ladder.
"Hah!" You can't help but cry out, "We did it!"
Sanae turns around, smiling broadly, just as people start cheering. Yeah, you guess they noticed that one. It's not too long before Sanae, and you, find yourself mobbed by people asking where you are from.
You let Sanae give the usual introduction, while you also play your role of "man who joined due to the power of the shrine". It's almost a bit overwhelming, and you can see it's not really going to stop any time soon.
[ ] Milk this for all you can. Take us to the mayor! [ ] Don't push this too far - find an excuse to exit. Leave them with a reason to come up to the shrine. ============================================== Decided I'll do doubles tomorrow as well, which should complete my make-up streak.
[x] Don't push this too far - find an excuse to exit. Leave them with a reason to come up to the shrine.
You wriggle your way through the crowd over to Sanae. This is a little too much, you think. It's probably good, for various reasons, if you get out of here.
"Sanae," You call out to her, trying to get your voice above the crowd, "It's nearly time for the thing. We should get going."
She looks puzzled. "The thing?"
"Yeah," You say, "That important thing we've got to do back at the shrine."
There's a flicker of realization in her eyes as she seems to get what you're saying. "Ah, yeah, the thing. Are you ready now?"
"I'm ready," You say, "Are you?"
"Yep. Everyone," She says, "We need to go, but we'll offer blessings at our shrine!"
Again, there's a rather lot of concern when she tells them where the shrine is, but you think the two of you manage to convince them that it's safe to travel to. After prying yourself from the crowd, you rise into the air. You to wave as you rise above and away from the village.
"I guess that was big enough," You laugh, "Wow."
Sanae laughs with you. "Yeah. And I think we left a good impression! What's so important, anyway."
"Look behind us."
That entire section of town is out in the street trying to catch a look of your departure.
"They're gonna be curious about the shrine now, I think," You say, "Probably more curious than if we had stayed."
Sanae ponders it all for a moment. "... good thinking. I bet we'll see a few of them come up!"
"If we weren't on the mountain this would be a lot easier," You laugh, "I bet they'd all go if we were just outside of town."
"It has to be on the mountain," Sanae says, "If you'd seen us before we moved, we were on a really nice cliff. We really do 'earth and sky' at our shrine, so, a mountain really is the best place."
"Oh? Interesting. I guess I never asked about that either. I guess rain fits with that."
"Yep," Sanae says, "That rain was Kanako's. I guess she's done with the Tengu. Where do you think we should go next?"
You're not sure of the time, but if you had to guess you did kill an hour or three since lunch. Maybe enough time to scope out the lower part of the trail, but it's been a long day.
[ ] Head back. There's still work to do around the grounds. [ ] If that trail isn't usable, you're in trouble. You should check it out. ================================================== A bit late because I tempted fate by talking about lengthy power outages last night. Still plan on the second one, 6h or so, unless someone else decides to kiss a power pole with their car.
[x] If that trail isn't usable, you're in trouble. You should check it out.
"We really should check that merchant trail leading up to the tengu," You say, "How many people have we told about it now?"
"A lot," Sanae nods, "Yeah, let's do that."
A lazy arc brings you around to face the direction you should be going. "Getting the upper trail made is probably going to need done sooner rather than later, too."
"No one is going to come today," Sanae says, "So we can worry about that tomorrow. How long do you think it would take to walk up the mountain?"
As the two of you fly, you try to plot it out in your head. You think you can see the river from here, or at least the dent it leaves in the canopy. "I'm not sure. It's probably an all-day trip, regardless."
"All day... I hope we did enough today, then."
"Well, I'm just guessing. Maybe it's a really nice trail. Which side should we start from?"
"The down-mountain side," You say, "Though I think we probably don't want to walk the whole thing."
Sanae nods. "I think you're right. I hope we can see it well enough from the air."
As you head over the fields, you notice that the rain really did only occur over the village. The glistening grass begins about a quarter mile away, trailing into the village on a path only maybe thirty feet wide.
"So, Kanako sent that shower, huh? What kind of god is she, anyway?"
"She did. And, well, you'd better ask her."
You chuckle. "Is it something bad? I mean, we've met a curse goddess today, I can't imagine it's worse than that."
Sanae shakes her head. "It's just complicated. But sky, rain, and wind are part of it."
"Wind... that explains some things about you, too."
She nods. "I am her priestess. And I think she'll be happy to tell you, so don't worry about asking her questions."
"I'll try not to. She's pretty intimidating when she wants to be, though."
"That's true," Sanae laughs, looking off to the horizon. After a few moments, she adds, "It's a weird thought, but this mountain is pretty intimidating, too. Don't you think?"
You take your focus off the landscape that you're flying over and bring it to the horizon. It is a pretty prominent mountain - you think you can picture what it would look like from the farms, although you didn't think to look earlier.
"A fitting place for a god. I think you're right about the location, even if it is inconvenient."
Sanae looks like she realizes something, but doesn't mention it to you. Instead, she looks downward, scanning for the start of this path. You do too, vaguely recalling the huge boulder that's supposed to be the landmark to find it by.
Eventually, you spot it. You point it out, and the two of you descend. A huge boulder, just as described, with what look like wagon cart tracks. The trail looks like something you can follow from the air if you take it slow. The tree's alongside have grown their branches over it, but they haven't covered it completely.
"Should we go through the woods, or over them?" Sanae asks. It seems like an odd question at first, but then you realize that going through means either flying close to the ground or flying close to tree limbs. You also might be able to see more of the area from the air.
[ ] Over, please. [ ] Through is fine. ================================================ Gonna aim for doubles tomorrow, too, just for comfort's sake.
"Let's go through," You say, "I'm not sure we can gage it well from the air."
"Ok," Sanae says, "Let's gooo!"
Rather suddenly, you dive down and shoot through the opening. Close and fast. You guess you'll try to enjoy this, although it might be difficult. Just... focus on the path, you guess, and not the branches above your head.
The path itself does seem in decent shape. Maybe a bit rough, but the cart tracks lead quite a ways in before shifting over to a wide foot path. Aside from some issue where trees have fallen across it, it's quite passable, at least in the forest stretch.
That is, up until you come across signs of a scuffle. Sanae slows as you do. There's a torn pack and various good strewn about. Mainly rice and bundles of cloth/leather.
"That's not good," Sanae says, bringing the two of you down to land in front of it. "A fight?"
"Seems like it," You say, looking around. "I wonder how long ago this was?"
"It's just a guess, but the rice still looks dry." You note. "So, maybe not too long."
There's a clear path of snapped branches leading off into the woods.
"Do you think it's worth checking it out?" Sanae asks.
[ ] We already know there's wild youkai here. Continue checking the condition of the path. [ ] No, but you should at least clean up some of the debris. [ ] May as well. Maybe whoever got attacked is still alive somewhere. =========================================== 6h as usual.
[x] May as well. Maybe whoever got attacked is still alive somewhere.
"I guess so," You say, peering down the path of trampled underbrush, "It's recent enough that maybe we'll find whoever was part of it."
"Or whatever," Sanae notes, "It's a little thick to fly. Should we walk?"
You both step into the forest. This part is a bit more overgrown than the part of the forest you were in earlier, and the trees are shorter. You see the occasional stump as well. Humans were probably using this land at some point, although it doesn't seem like it sees much use outside of the trail your on. There's not much of that ominous feeling you had earlier, either.
Even the not-trail isn't too bad to follow, you decide. This isn't difficult terrain, at least not down here. you imagine it gets worse the further up the mountain you get.
The two of you follow it for a while, until eventually, you start to smell something foul upwind. Rotten. It's enough to make you gag a bit, though you manage to keep your lunch down.
As you draw closer though, you're surprised - it's not a human, like you'd feared, but some kind of beast. Huge, but different than the kind you saw earlier.
"What... is it?" You ask, quietly, trying your best not to take in too much of the smell. Damn, that's foul.
"I'm not sure," Sanae says, looking a bit nauseous herself. "I'm going to do something about the smell though."
In a few moments, the breeze blowing through the area shifts from being on your front to being on your back. And, with it, the smell gets blown off towards... wherever.
"Haaah, that's much better."
"Whatever it is, it's pretty dead," Sanae notes from in front of you. "And pretty gross."
You draw closer, but not too close. It's clearly slashed in various places, with bits of it hanging out. Pretty grizzly scene, to be honest.
"Wow, yeah. I wonder what did this?"
As you ponder, you notice that you can hear what sounds like water further ahead. You wonder if that's the river that this trail runs along?
"Well," Sanae says, turning back towards you, "We found it. Maybe a human killed it? Kanako did say that the humans around here are really strong."
Yeah, you've had about enough looking yourself, so you also turn away. "I guess that could be from a blade."
"We should head back," Sanae says, "I don't think there's anything we can really do if we don't have a trail to follow."
"Don't we need to, ah, burn the body or something?" You ask.
Sanae laughs. "No, it's not a zombie! At least, not right now. Let's go."
[ ] You're curious about the water sounds. Head that way. [ ] Back to the trail, then. Maybe you'll see something else in the return direction. ========================================== ...and that's 30.
I'm going to take it easy tomorrow because I'm pretty beat, but from Saturday on I'm going to shoot for daily evening updates. No reason I can't do this thing daily now that I've de-funkified myself.
So as you may or may not know, the incentive for NaNoWriMo was having a writing request get written by some volunteers if you made 30 updates. I though that I'd put said reward up to people reading this story (or people stumbling on this thread randomly). I'd be nowhere without you all guiding me through the votes, and I thought you all could make better use of it than I could.
To manage the chaos, we'll do it in two phases.
Make suggestions on what you'd like to see this week. It can be anything Touhou related (technically, I don't think it has to be, but I'm making that rule). They are just ideas, so if you have more than one post more than one.
Next week, around this time, I'll compile it into a list and we'll put it up to vote.
[x] You're curious about the water sounds. Head that way.
"Listen. Does it sound like there's water nearby to you?" You ask, "I wonder if that's the river."
Sanae listens for a moment. "... huh, I do hear it."
"Let's head that way instead," You suggest, "I'm curious about it."
She nods. "If that's the river, we should find the trail that way."
So, rather than head backwards, you two head forwards. As you do, you faintly notice the breeze shift again to keep you upwind of the carcass. At least Sanae isn't going to make you smell that the entire way.
It turns out you were both right, you find, when you arrive. The trail, or at least you assume it's the same trail, is running up next to the water you heard. You see the same signs of use, anyway.
The river doesn't look very deep, being filled with stones and gravel washed down the mountain, but its plenty wide. You wouldn't want to try to cross it.
"So this is the river," You say, breaking the silence. "Looks pretty pristine."
"Are you thirsty?" Sanae asks, "We could stop for a rest."
[ ] Rest here for a while. [ ] You'd rather push on. =================================================== Short, but I'm gonna be resetting my sleep schedule over the next couple days, so my brain will be more fried than usual.
If you skipped past it because I didn't flag it as an update, see >>30831
"I wouldn't mind a rest," You say, "This looks like a nice spot."
"Good," Sanae responds, looking relieved, "I could keep going, but I think a short rest is a good idea."
Squatting down next to the water, you can see that it looks clear enough. "I wonder if it's safe to drink."
"Here," She says, handing you a small wooden cup over your shoulder, "It'll be safe."
"Where'd you get this?" You wonder. It's not like either of you brought any sort of gear with you.
"Don't worry about it," She smiles, squatting next to you, "Let's drink."
You decide not to worry about it, find a fallen tree nearby, and take a seat while you drink. Sanae follows your lead. The cool water and taking a load off your legs does feel good - though, you think you're mentally exhausted as well. Probably just the shock finally wearing off.
Neither of you says much. Rest can include silence, too, so you both just sit and watch the river flow by. It won't be long before these leaves start to turn either, you think. A few of the trees you can see have already turned.
Eventually, though, you feel the need to break it after your cup runs dry.
"Want another?" you ask, noticing Sanae's cup being empty as well.
Sanae nods. "Thanks."
You take both and head down to the riverside. As you are down there, you see something floating down stream. It's a ways out, but you snatch up a convenient nearby branch and pull it in. It's some kind of dark cloth, but it's all waded up.
"What's that?" Sanae calls out, still some distance away. She doesn't seem keen on giving up her rest that easily.
"Not sure," You answer back. After fiddling with it for a bit, you figure it out - it's something resembling trousers. Something like the style the villagers were wearing.
"Oh, here we go," You say, turning around to display your find. You hold the soggy pants out in front of you. "They'd be a little big on me, I think. Weird."
"Really weird," Sanae says, "I can't even imagine... is someone going for a swim?"
She's sounding a bit spaced out, much like she was before after talking with Hina. It might be worth giving her some more time to rest.
[ ] If it's related to that mess from earlier, it's probably better if you don't rest. [ ] No need to rush off. You'll figure it out eventually. =============================================== I went to bed thinking this was posted, but I guess it wasn't. Sorry... I'll call it tomorrow at the usual time.
[x] No need to rush off. You'll figure it out eventually.
And besides, it's weird, but it's not rush off worthy. It came from the direction you are heading, so you'll figure it out eventually. Or not.
"Well," you say, neatly laying your newfound pants down on the bank, "I guess we'll find out when we head upstream. Or maybe someone will come looking for them."
"It seems like a weird thing to lose," Sanae says, as you return with her water. "Ah, thanks."
You return to your seat next to her. "I've seen weirder things today. It's hard to care much about it, to be honest."
Sanae laughs. "Well, you're doing a good job! Though I feel a little bad saying it, since you didn't really have much choice in joining us."
You shrug. "Eh, I'm having fun. Even if I'm having a hard time keeping up."
"It's a lot even if you know what's going on," Sanae says, sighing a bit, "I'm beat. I think after we reach the Tengu village, we should head back to the shrine."
You look along the river, trying to follow it up the mountain. "That's still a ways, isn't it?"
"Well, it's on the way," Sanae says, "Don't worry, I'll make sure not to leave you stranded or anything."
"I'm more worried about you. Don't work too hard, ok?"
She nods. "I won't. But we shouldn't slack off, either."
Again, you two fall back into river-watching. It's a bit comforting to know she's actually got some limits like a normal person. Honestly, after all you've seen today, you were starting to wonder.
As you watch the river, you start to notice some oddities. Abnormal bits of foam. Splashes. They're subtle, but up until now, you'd not noticed them at all.
"Is that new?"
"Is what new?" Sanae asks.
Another ripple. This one is quite big, actually.
"Huh. That's new."
The river isn't exactly deep enough to hold much of anything, although you guess it could be fish. Or... well, no. Thinking "something youkai related" in Gensokyo around random mundane things is liable to turn you into a conspiracy nut.
[ ] Head over and take a look. [ ] You'd rather watch from here.
First proper Wednesday in a while (somehow I lucked out during November on these), meaning I spent 6 hours driving. This would have been OK if I had remembered to check the vote before I started the return leg, but I forgot. Will update tomorrow because I'm going to sleep now.
You wanna check it out. Looking at your cup, you can see that it's nearly empty again, so that's a reasonable excuse.
"More water?" You ask Sanae. "I'm gonna go see what that all is."
"Oh," She says, looking down and noticing hers is nearly empty as well. "Sure. Thanks!"
You take both and make your way over to the river, treading lightly but not conspicuously so. But rather than the spot you used last time to fill up, you head upstream a ways nearer to where you'd been seeing the disturbances.
Seems the water gets quite deep up here, actually. Or maybe it's just some strange way the light reflects off this part of the bed. Either way, you can't see the bottom.
Without any warning, a giant fountain of water erupts from the river. You fall backwards from the shock.
... and with even less warning, during the distraction, something grabs your leg.
A hand? No, as you reach down to pull it off, you find that it's some kind of rubber and it's attached to two sets of zig-zagging metal bars. Almost like one of those things you'd use for grabbing items off a top shelf.
"What is it?" Sanae asks, having made it up to your side. "Wait, what's that?"
The grabbing tool does what it looks like it should do, and gives your leg a good tug. You manage to brace yourself with your other leg to avoid being pulled into the river.
"It's pulling me in," You manage, while trying to force the grabber open, "Help!"
Sanae reaches down to help you yank whatever this thing is off. As she does, another one shoots out of the water - this time, taking your arm. It wastes no time tugging, and were it not for Sanae taking firm hold of you you'd have tumbled into the water.
The situation is looking rather dire. A blast of light takes care of both arms, severing one bar from each to render the unable to grip. Judging by Sanae's pose you imagine it was her. The sudden lack of grabbers sends you both tumbling back.
"What the heck?" You yell, standing up immediately. "Who's there?"
No answer. In fact, the water seems still again. But you do feel like something is still watching you from down there.
[ ] Another traveller might not be so lucky. Needs investigation. [ ] Restraint. You'll investigate tomorrow.
[x] Another traveller might not be so lucky. Needs investigation
"Come out!" Sanae demands, "We know you're down there!"
If she's fired up, you've got no problem supporting her. You got lucky, but who knows what'd happen if someone else came across that thing first. And that does seem likely, given how close the trail is to the river.
Still, the murky water doesn't really answer Sanae's demand either. You turn to her. "I don't think they're listening."
"Oh," She says, "I'll make them listen! Ha!"
Again, you're knocked over, but this time by a violent wind. The river parts before your eyes - mostly, anyway - and you can see the bed about a man's height down. But, you notice something odd about it.
"A cave?" You yell, trying to be heard over the wind. Sanae nods, but the wind falters before you can really react.
"Haaaa... ok," Sanae says, sounding exhausted, "Come out of there, or we'll come after you! No one attacks the Moriya shrine and gets away with it!"
Scary. But not scary enough, it seems - again, the water remains still.
"It's probably the Kappa," Sanae says, making you recall the conversation you had earlier with Hina, "They do this kind of thing. Well, usually, they just drag you in... I don't know what those extendo-arms were."
"I wonder if there's another entrance?" You ask, "She said they were further upstream in some kind of obvious ravine."
As you think through your options, you recall something about them being particularly proud, and curious... you decide to try something.
[ ] Taunt them into coming up. [ ] You think you've still got that nice compass...
You wonder if they can hear you down there? Rather than finding an entrance yourself, maybe making them come to you would be better.
"If they weren't such cowards," You start, "We wouldn't even have to look."
Sanae gives you a strange look, as if she wasn't expecting you to get angry like that. It's non-verbal, but you give her a slight smile to tell her not to worry too much about that or what's coming next.
"I mean, they couldn't even manage to drag one human under," You continue, turning to Sanae, "And those grapple devices looked pretty flimsy. Did you even do much to them?"
"Not much," She says, looking honest. "They were pretty weak."
"Why even bother, I wonder? Maybe they're just too scared to show themselves---"
"We are not! We'll drag you down right now if you're not careful!"
A voice calls out in protest from the river. Turning to look, you see three heads bobbing in the water looking at you with fiery eyes. All three of them are wearing various caps. Well, you got them to come up - but maybe you overdid it?
Again, that vicious wind displaces most of the water in a dramatic downburst. You manage to brace yourself this time, half-expecting it, but the kappa are not so lucky - the strong gust pushes them onto the river bank just downstream of you. It's far enough that you don't feel in any danger.
The one with the large backpack manages to get back on her feet first.
"Rude! You two are just rude! Do you think you can treat the kappa genius like this?"
"You weren't going to come out otherwise, were you?"
"Why's it matter?" The kappa asks, straightening out her clothes and hat. "We've got no business with you."
They don't seem to be bailing back into the river, so maybe you've got their attention now.
[ ] No business? Didn't you just try to eat me? [ ] Take a deep breath. Need to settle down a bit. ==================================================================== I forgot to collect the writing prompt suggestions last night (see >>30831), so here they are. I'll count the votes Friday, around update time. Please pick up to two: [ ] Aunn hears about the presence of other 'dogs' in Gensokyo and demands Reimu take her to meet them. [ ] Chen and Orin decide to set up Crino and Utsuho on a picnic date. [ ] Someone asks an un-interested virginal Reimu for romance advice for the winter holiday. [ ] Yukari bullies Reimu into performing the Kagara. Alice ends up involved with fabric. (???) [ ] Alice rescues someone, and they leave a few days later. Rumia probably doesn't eat them. [ ] Rumia and Chen on a playdate. [ ] Amu and Chen on a playdate. [ ] Earth spiders go to the hotsprings. [ ] (Write-in)
"No business?" You ask, "Didn't you just try to eat me?"
"You looked tasty!" One of the kappa calls out, "It's a compliment! I still wanna suck that---"
"H-hey," The leader says, turning around to quiet her companion, "Yeah, I mean, we did - but we're done with that now. So we've got no business with you. So, we'll just be going..."
"Hold it," Sanae says, as you consider your options, "I'm Sanae, the priestess of the Moriya shrine. We're trying to make this path safe. If you're going to make it unsafe, we've got business with you."
"I'm Nitori," The leader says, resigning herself to staying a bit. "Kappa inventor extraordinaire. This is Midori, and this is Kiyori."
You greet them in kind, although you're unable to ignore that these are kappa and they just tried to drown you a minute ago. Sanae seems to want to try her luck with diplomacy, so you just resolve yourself to fuming a bit.
"What do we need to do to make it so no humans would get attacked here?" She asks, eliciting a laugh from all three kappa.
"Not gonna happen," Kiyori says, "Is it?"
"Nope," Nitori says, "Kappa do what they want in kappa lands. And that's where you are right now."
"How far from the river do you claim?" Sanae asks.
"The whole valley is ours, up to the waterfall and down to the edge of the forest."
"Isn't this trail for trading, though?" Sanae asks, "I can't imagine you get much trade if you just eat everyone."
"We don't eat everyone," Midori butts in, "Just some who look really tasty! Like your friend. And that trader from earlier, for example---"
"Quiet," Nitori says, "Yeah, we don't eat everyone. Not even most! Actually, we're pretty peaceful as far as the mountain goes! Eating no humans is ridiculous, but we leave most of them alone."
Kappa, what they eat, and those pants from earlier... ah. A wave of realization washes over you. That might solve that mystery, then. The poor guy probably wandered up to the river like you two did, and, well, didn't have someone like Sanae nearby.
[ ] Speak up. That's not cool. [ ] Keep quiet for now. =================================================== These names probably do not make sense and would not be real names, but oh well.
Reminder that the note on >>30866 runs through Friday (I will post this every day until then, sorry).
The question just kind of escapes from your mouth without too much thought. It's one thing to see it, or hear it talked about in a distant way. But, it's quite another to be talking face to face with people who just killed less than an hour ago.
"Hm?" Kiyori asks, "What's the problem?"
... and apparently one who don't care.
"He was an outsider, so it's fine~" Midori muses.
"Gah," Nitori frowns, "Come on. It's not really murder if it's killing for food, is it? Don't get the wrong idea."
"I don't think it's a problem," Sanae says, turning to you, "Gensokyo is a dangerous place. We just need to make sure it's not too dangerous."
Suddenly finding yourself in a one against four situation, you decide to drop it. Yeah. It's really fortunate you ran into someone like Sanae - a miracle, in fact. Presumably the one that dragged you here in the first place.
"So," Sanae says, "If it's not going to be a problem, I guess we don't really have any other business. Can you think of anything?"
You can't really think of anything else right now, so you just shake your head. Nitori looks disappointed at that, though.
"Really?" She pipes up, "You're not even going to keep us here against our will?"
Sanae looks to you, confused. You probably look about the same. What is this person even talking about.
"You're not," Nitori says, scratching the back of her head. "Huh. Well. I'm gonna test it anyway. Kappa Smoke Screen!"
With a yell, she pulls some kind of rip cord on her pack, causing a massive plume of fog to roll forth from it. Within just a few seconds, it coats the entire area, leaving you unable to see more than a few inches in front of your face.
[ ] This is dangerous. [ ] This is amusing. ======================================================================= Almost didn't, but then I did. Low sleep is not good though. Please try to get enough if you aren't already.
"W-what the heck?" You say, fruitlessly trying to wave the odorless fog from your face, "What is this? Get back here!"
Sanae starts giggling, and the giggling is apparently infectious because you soon start as well. Yeah, there's no reason to be too angry about this. This is a different world, so you should expect different things to happen even if they are ghastly. And those kappa are ridiculous.
In about a minute or so the fog clears, leaving just you two alone on the bank. Strangely, the pants have also vanished.
"Well," Sanae says, trying to regain her composure, "That's that then, right?"
"I guess so," You say, "They ninja'd right out of here. Kappa ninjas. Imagine that."
"I didn't even get to beat them up," Sanae says, laughing, "Maybe they saw that coming?"
Yeah, you're feeling a bit better now. "You don't have to beat everyone you meet up, do you?"
After a bit of unwinding, the two of you feel energized enough to continue along the trail. You try to put the thought of the dead man out of your mind. Poor bastard, but you guess that's why Hina was so insistent on getting you to the village.
You scare a few deer and get agrily chittered at by some squirrels, but nothing dangerous happens along your trek. The terrain quickly shifts from forest to steep valley, and at the head of the valley is a massive waterfall.
"So this is the valley Hina was talking about," You pant, the steepness of this terrain making you tired. "Pretty."
"It is," Sanae says. She sounds a bit tired as well, "I think we can fly now. There's not much for trees here."
Indeed, the trail winds up a rather steep cliff for a ways, but you can mostly see where it goes from even the ground. You wouldn't want to carry a pack of goods up there, but it looks doable and at least somewhat maintained.
"Yeah, I don't wanna walk up that either."
It's certainly much easier by air, you decide, as that familiar feeling lifts you up the cliff.
As you head up, you get the feeling of being watched again. That's right, this is tengu territory now. Although you should have a free pass to move through here, you suspect they're gonna watch you closely.
[ ] Land at the top of the cliff. [ ] Keep moving, back to the shrine. ========================================================= For the next week I'm going to shift these to lunch-time updates, rather than evening ones, and see how that works out.
Also, Aunn option clearly wins, even if it is still a little early to call technically. I'll go request it.
After cresting the cliff, you recognize where you are - right on the tengu's front doorstep. Sanae doesn't seem to be heading any particular direction, opting instead to take in the view.
"Back to the shrine, then?" You ask, after a bit. "We probably shouldn't linger here too long."
Sanae nods, and the two of you start moving in that general direction. "Sounds fine to me. I think I'm going to take a nap when we get back."
"I don't know about a nap," You say, "But yeah, I'm gonna take a rest myself."
You don't see any Tengu on your return, but you do still have that odd feeling of being watched the entire way up.
On your return you see that Kanako has been busy. The torii and the path itself are all pristine, and there's a good hundred steps or so leading up to them now up the steep part of the slope. All stone.
"Wow," You say, "This looks pretty much done. I guess I didn't mess it up too badly."
"Yep, this is pretty much back to normal," Sanae says, "We didn't have a huge slope in our old location, so we only had a few steps."
"Good to see I didn't disrupt things too much."
Sanae laughs. "Kanako was just giving you a hard time, you know? Even if you hadn't appeared, we'd have some cleanup to do."
The two of you land in the courtyard.
"Haa... I really do think I'm going to take a nap," Sanae says, letting out a big yawn, "You'll be alright by yourself, won't you?"
"I think so," You say, "Doubt anyone is going to come up here just to eat me."
With a wave, she heads off towards the living quarters. Yeah, she deserves that nap... you decide to kill some time by poking around the shrine grounds, rather than making too much noise inside the living quarters. You've still got maybe an hour or two of daylight left.
[ ] Wander the perimeter. [ ] Check out the lake. [ ] Hang out near the shrine building.
You've been meaning to check out the area behind the shrine. From the air, it looks like quite a big bit of water - a large pond or a small lake. Now's as good of a time as any.
Although the shrine grounds are on "top" of the mountain, there's an area just above the top that contains the lake. It reminds you a bit of one of those old volcano lakes. There is a brick paved trail leading up, but it's not nearly as grand as the one leading up to the shrine.
The trail ends at the rim of the lake basin, terminating in just a small platform with an even smaller shrine on it. Said shrine is not even as large as you are. Although there's a wind blowing, the water remains like glass.
Curiously, it seems to have grown perhaps a hundred log pillars over the course of the day, all of them adorned with rope. You don't think you would have missed them from the air, so they must be new. Clearly, this is part of the shrine, too... so you get the feeling that you shouldn't head down and take a swim.
Well, this is as good of a place as any to take your rest. You take a seat on the cool stone, just beside the mini-shrine, and take in the sight. You hear a few frogs croaking, but aside from the wind, there's nothing else. Serene.
You turn your head. Seems not all the frogs are down in the lake. There's one all the way up here, watching you from its' perch in the mini-shrine.
[ ] Seems lost. Return it to the lake. [ ] It's just relaxing, too. Leave it be. ============================================= I'd forgotten how big the lake was, so disregard most anything I've said about it up until now other than "yeah it exists".
The frog looks at you blankly. How did it even end up that far off the ground, anyway? It's not like frogs will climb.
"Come on," You decide, "We'll get you back into the water."
You gently prod it with one of your hands while cupping the other. Unconcerned, it wriggles it's way into your hand and looks at you.
"Yeah," You ask, carefully bringing it down to the water. "Just a short trip."
There's no real path leading down to the water itself, and whatever process brought the whole grounds here didn't really bring any vegetation around the edges, so it's bare rock and dirt mostly. Difficult to navigate when one hand - but you manage.
When you near the water's edge, you see more than a few frogs watching you. They don't seem too concerned with your movements.
"Head back to your friends, now," You say, placing it near the waters edge. With a powerful hop, it heads back into the water and swims away.
"Talking to frogs, are we? Did Sanae break you while you two were out?"
A voice calls out to you, breaking the stillness of the lake. Startled, you look up. Perched on one of the nearby pillars is Kanako.
"He looked a bit out of place up there," You call back, "Thought I'd bring him back to the water."
It feels a bit odd, but after spending all day with Sanae, you feel much more comfortable with the idea of just casually talking with a goddess. Her presence still triggers something primal in you, but it's less like fear now and more... something else.
Kanako laughs heartily as she leaves her perch, descending to you, "I bet he was just watching you. The frogs here are known to do that."
She looks to be floating more towards the mini-shrine than you, so you do the same. The walk back up the bank is much easier with both hands.
"Well, who knows," You offer, turning back around to face her, "Did you do all this while we were out?"
"Who else would have done it?"
"... true. It's really impressive."
"Actually," Kanako says, shrugging off the compliment, "Rather than asking if you're broken, maybe I should be asking if you broke Sanae instead. I went to check in with her and she was fast asleep. Busy day?"
[ ] Be brief. You'll let Sanae give the full report later, and you've got other questions. [ ] Full details. You'll spare Sanae the burden of recalling all of it after her nap.
[x] Full details. You'll spare Sanae the burden of recalling all of it in detail.
"Very," You say, gazing back out over the lake, "Are you busy right now? I could tell you about it."
"Busy, yes," She says, taking a new seat - this time, on the platform holding the mini-shrine. "But I could use a rest myself. Actually, that's what I was doing before I noticed you."
Feeling a bit odd being the only one standing, you also return to sitting. "Gods get tired too, huh?"
"Only when our priests and priestesses can't bring in enough followers," Kanako says, though it's clearly in jest. "You did manage to find some, didn't you?"
"Well... sort of. I'll just recount the whole day."
You decide to tell the whole thing, from beginning to end, starting with when you left the tengu village. First, you dealt with Hina, didn't you? You leave out the bit about the fairies, focusing instead on the battle and the rather lengthy education afterwards. You also mention trying to recruit her.
Kanako seems content to listen, nodding occasionally, so you decide to focus on the story and not your questions about the little things that came up.
Curiously, another frog seems to have taken up a spot in the mini-shrine. It, too, seems to be listening - although you're not sure how much a frog could understand. You continue.
Next was... lunch, and that tengu reporter, Aya. You recount the interview as best as you can, including the odd line of questioning. When you make it to the bit the opening event, the freebies, and the state of the path Kanako speaks up.
"That was smart," She says, somewhat suddenly, "Who's idea was that?"
"Both of ours, really," You say, shrugging, "We hashed it out in the back."
Unsatisfied, Kanako asks again, "No, how did you get from the interview to hashing it out?"