The dead man accepts judgment with unusual aplomb. Whereas others might squirm at having their sins read out or—as had been the case earlier—attempt to interrupt the session with hasty interjections and justifications, he seems almost indifferent to what the Yama has to say. If the judge is surprised by this unusual man, she hides it well, being as meticulous in presenting the facts of the case as with every other preceding soul that day. His quiet poise still makes an impression on the others watching and they pay careful attention to the build up to the sentencing.
Being sentenced to hell seemed like the obvious outcome; the lot of most sinners is an opportunity for repentance followed by punishment. So you're surprised when he is instead sent to the Netherworld. The man offers a bows to the judge once the proceedings are concluded. Then he is escorted away from the court, his fate to be advanced by a shinigami acting as bailiff. This proves to be the last act of the court for the day.
The presiding yama thanks the clerks of the court for their hard work and ends their long shift. She puts away her hand mirror into a protective bag and then rises from her seat. Before retiring to her chambers, however, she looks over at you and beckons you to come with a nod. That’s a very exciting development for you, as you’ve never been in the private chambers of a judge before. Truth be told, you have no idea what to expect. Your first courtroom experience today has already made your head swim more than once.
It appears that the Yama does not have very extravagant tastes. The room is an austere space with a few chairs, a simple shelf with some scrolls and a large desk with a stack of documents. She takes a seat and invites you to do the same. “How was your first day at court?” she asks, allowing a slight smile to form on her lips for the first time in the day.
“It was fascinating, Enma,” you answer. “Hearing about what goes on and actually seeing it with my own eyes is like night and day. I am not certain I am ready.”
“Modesty is good, Candidate,” she says, using the official term endorsed by the ministry, “still, you would not be here if you did not have potential. We may be overworked these days and there’s been talk of loosening standards but, for now, we’re still doing things nice and properly. How ever much of a personal rapport we develop will have no bearing on the final assessment.”
“I understand,” you nod. She is telling you nothing that you didn’t already expect.
“You were paying attention during the last case today, weren’t you?” she asks.
“What did you make of it? Of the case, of my decision?”
“It was the correct decision,” you say, as a matter of course. Whatever decision a yama makes in court is, by definition, the correct one. There is no altering it.
“That is not what I am asking,” the judge focuses her blue eyes at you just as she did with the various accused in court. It is a terrible pressure. She will not need to ask her question again.
You are compelled to tell her the unvarnished truth.
 There were no major sins and neither excessive virtue, so her interpretation was reasonable.  Without peering into the man’s past yourself, there is no way to be sure it was the correct call.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/02 (Mon) 12:00
This is my entry for not-nanowrimo. It's meant to have short updates and the story is designed to conclude at about the end of the month. I plan to have several characters that don't normally get their break around here appear and I do hope you enjoy the ride!
“Reasonable?” she echoes the last of your words. There is nothing as overt as a frown or a condemning look but it is clear that she does not approve of what you’ve said. It may well be that you’ve failed to understand her question in the first place and that your answer was therefore a non-sequitur.
The facts of the other cases melt away into irrelevance as you feel under scrutiny. Somehow, you still manage to maintain enough presence of mind to speak, “My apologies, Enma, it may be that I did not comprehend what it is that you are truly asking.”
To say that you are nervous or that you require more time would be pathetic excuses and likely an insult to someone of her station. Even a “I will endeavor to do better” may well come off as flippant.
The Yama closes her eyes and lets out a soft “hmm” as she thinks. For a moment, you fear the worst—she lifts her rod up from the desk and it seems altogether probable that punishment will follow. That panicked, irrational thought lasts for but a moment as she simply reaches for a book that lay underneath. She opens her eyes once more and slides it to your end of the desk, uttering a simple command, “Take that.”
You reach for the book. On closer look, it can barely be called that; thin and bound by fine red string along its spine, it’s more of a collection of blank pieces of writing paper with hard black covers. A small charcoal pencil is also nestled between some of the looser pages of the notebook.
No doubt that the expression on your face prompts her explanation, “It is for you to keep and use to take notes and organize your thoughts.”
“Thank you, Enma,” you say, still a step behind.
“The truth you need to understand is provided by example and contrast,” she says, “in other words, experience. As you cannot judge the dead then we should approach the living. I shall help you take these first steps.”
“Ah, Enma-” you begin but are cut off.
The Yama lifts her rod again, waving it to silence any protestations. She smiles once more and shakes her head, the longer strands on her right side rustling over the shoulder of her dress. Though stiff and still unsure of what she exactly means, you accept that you’ll see soon enough. Seeing that you’re lulled into acceptance, she stands and makes her way around the dress. She grabs your hand, stirring you up to your feet. “Come on, let us make the most of the day,” she bids.
You cannot but think of something foolish: the Right Honorable Lady Shiki, Yama of Paradise, sure has a remarkably soft hand.
“Cadidate,” she says softly, letting go of your hand, “let us be off.”
You nod and begin to follow, words still escaping you. You keep the notebook close to your side, guarding it as something something precious as the Yama leads you beyond the courthouse. You pass a few souls being shepherded around by shinigami as well as other staff that strain to look busy as soon as they catch sight of the yama. Others that you pass are on their way home, mostly hell-bound but some go in the direction that you’re taking, towards the Sanzu.
The comforting warmth of Higan helps you recompose yourself. Souls are found idling among the sea of flowers, peacefully awaiting their time of judgment. It is that display of self-reflection that allows you to manage some of the daze you’ve felt ever since you were first selected for this prestigious nomination by the Ministry of Right and Wrong. With that relative clarity, you make a decision.
 Chancing a reprimand for being impatient, you hope to commit her instructions and any future facts to the paper record.  The sundry thoughts and emotions you have, as irrelevant as they might seem, deserve to be written down as context.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/03 (Tue) 12:00
>“Reasonable?” she echoes the last of your words. There is nothing as overt as a frown or a condemning look but it is clear that she does not approve of what you’ve said. It may well be that you’ve failed to understand her question in the first place and that your answer was therefore a non-sequitur. Well, I personally wouldn't have said that but there wasn't really a "double down on conviction" option, so I'll just take it as this protagonist not being altogether together or "set" in their ways. though it does bother me a little that the choices were either semi-sympathizing with a sinner or assuming the Yama's judgement could've been incorrect
[X] The sundry thoughts and emotions you have, as irrelevant as they might seem, deserve to be written down as context. Here's my reasoning: you should keep facts and instructions in your head. A yama's judgement is their personal judgement, so your personality is important; your judgments aren't based on law. Thus, if the protagonist isn't very sure of themself they should focus on making themself concrete. If they're indeed a jizou it could even be that they haven't had much time being legitimately sentient.
There is no time to write while walking but you will begin later by writing down your decision. It’s not a personal journal, you tell yourself, it is a tool to frame whatever revelations you might have in an intelligible context. That must certainly fit the Yama’s intentions.
The Yama leads you to the shore of the Sanzu, where the comfort of Higan yields to mist. You catch sight of Shigan from time to time, whenever the rolling mist recedes some but the river’s exact width or shape is inscrutable. A lone ferry is on your side of the river, something foreseen by the Yama judging by how she approaches the vessel with a hand on her hip and a mild scowl.
“Komachi,” she calls out, “have you been idling on this shore again?”
“Of course not, Enma,” A woman replies, quickly rising to her feet from the floor of the rowboat. She takes a step onto the shore, revealing herself slightly taller than the Yama, though perhaps solely by merit of wearing geta. A shinigami—unmistakable due to the large scythe she handles effortlessly with just one hand. “I’ve just delivered another soul to Higan and there was no one else waiting that I could see on the other side.”
“Is that so?” Lady Shiki sounds unconvinced but does not act on her suspicion. She turns to you, blue eyes softening. In the background, the shinigami eyes you with curiosity before displaying a playful wink. “Candidate,” the Yama addresses you, her volume lowered as to not be overheard, “cross the river with Komachi.”
“You do not mean to go across yourself, Enma?” you hope you’ve hid your mild disappointment. A part of you had hoped that the Yama would be direct in her lesson.
“I will meet up with you soon,” she predicts, “before you’ve gone too far ahead. Komachi will volunteer to take you beyond the river. I’ll explain who you are, though not your purpose.”
“My purpose?” you ask.
“She is practice before we are beyond the places you know,” she says, with a gentle smile. To you, she is as a mother bird encouraging her chick to take the first steps towards independence. There is a dangerous plunge from the nest but, if overcome, the whole of the sky is the reward. It seems for a moment that she might lean in close, to fix a loose button or straighten your collar but she instead restricts herself to a quick nod. The Yama summarizes, “See who she is, how she chooses to behave, weigh up her virtues and sins and, ultimately, make a judgment.”
The purpose of the notebook becomes clearer to you. To ask what format you should encode your thoughts or how to judge is pointless—those are determinations that you must make for yourself. Filtering your sundry emotions and miscellaneous thoughts is your prerogative as well. That is part of the nature of the experience the Yama wishes to make you undergo.
“I will not disappoint, Enma,” you say solemnly.
She taps you on the shoulder approvingly before turning once again to the shinigami. The redheaded woman, this Komachi, had been straining to overhear your exchange by pretending that she dropped some of her coins and had to move about to find them. The Yama either does not notice or does not care as she gives her a brief series of commands.
You find yourself on Komachi’s boat before too long, ready to set off to the opposite shore. The Yama wastes no time after a brief goodbye to double back towards the courthouse and Hell.
“I’m Komachi, in case that wasn’t clear,” the woman says, beaming a disarming smile at you. She places her scythe down in the boat after she sits down. Her eyes are only a shade or two lighter than her dark red hair, you notice. Immediately she asks with a hopeful look, “Do I really have to call you ‘Candidate’?”
Strictly speaking, that was not a requirement. A candidate must not announce their status to others but were otherwise free to behave as they wished. This freedom obviously extended to how you wished to approach the shinigami’s evaluation.
 Embracing familiarity would reveal her true nature.  How she handled formality and structure was of interest.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/04 (Wed) 12:00
“No, you do not have to call me that,” you say, adopting a more formal tone “but does it not give you pause to talk so freely to someone who you have just met?”
“Should it?” she tilts her head while smirking, casting the boat into the river’s waters with a well-practiced push with an oar.
“I may well be your superior in the not-too-distant future, would you be as carefree then?”
She refuses to answer the question, “You’re not my superior now, though. You don’t look like an oni so perhaps you’re someone just like me? Even if you’re not, you probably don’t outrank me. Either way, it’s boring to be hung up on ranks.”
“Boring? What does that have to do with anything?” you ask, watching as she begins to slowly row towards the other shore. There is something to be said about how effortless she makes the whole thing look—an unsurprising fact when you consider the countless souls she has ferried across.
“Work is work,” she says, “but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun while working. It’s not every day that I have someone like you on my boat.”
“The privilege of helping out the dead isn’t excitement enough?” It’s a loaded question, you know, but you wish to stick to how she views her job.
Komachi laughs, her reply all but confirming that she sees through you, “I appreciate the importance of my sacred duty. I’ve said as much to Lady Shiki many times. There’s no harm in talking, is there? I mean, you’re trying to learn about me just like I would like to learn about you. Being honest about that is not a bad thing, right?”
“I suppose not,” you concede, opting not to deflect.
“I’m glad we’re on the same page,” she nods, “so, you still haven’t told me your name. Rather rude, don’t you think? Especially if we’re just colleagues.”
“Makoto,” you tell her. If there’s one thing that’s become clear to you is that she is good at getting people to lower their guard. You original plan has gotten harder to try out, though you haven’t given up on it yet.
“Why do I get the feeling that’s not your real name?” she asks.
“It’s rather rude to accuse someone of lying about their name,” you fire back, “I may not be your superior but there’s lines you shouldn’t cross with someone you’ve just met.”
“Alright, sorry,” she laughs, “it’s a sincere name, so I should have known better.”
“I just hope that you’re not as rude to the souls you take to Higan.”
“I’ve never heard any complaints,” she tells you with a shrug.
That might well be the case. The recently-departed might not even have the wherewithal to resist the shinigami’s prodding. There’s the distinct impression that she behaves the same with everyone, given just how easily she chose to ignore what you represent.
You opt to write down some of your many thoughts in your notebook. It does not seem like Komachi minds—she chooses to whistle a catchy tune while she continues to row. Still, you’re mindful of the need to keep things moving along.
 Express interest in learning more about her typical day.  Encourage her to share thoughts about the ministry.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/05 (Thu) 12:00
The gentle rocking of the boat is relaxing. You find that it’s easy to put your thoughts down onto paper. Were you not at the start of the Yama’s assignment you might even have been tempted to close your eyes and listen to the gentle noise of water lapping up against the hull and Komachi’s regular rowing. That, too, gets written down though you’re not quite sure why you’ve bothered to do so.
“How many times a day do you usually make it across the river?” you ask, breaking the complete calm.
“I lose track,” Komachi says with nonchalance. You’re inclined to believe her. “Depends on the workload, really,” she tells you, “some days can be nothing but back and forth but others can almost be outright boring.”
“Is today one of those boring days? Just curious,” you say, hoping to establish a baseline.
“It’s not every day that I get to meet a future yama, so, nah, not boring,” she grins, looking a little proud of how she turned the tables on you. She quite clearly has you beat when it comes to conversational skills.
You don’t even bother with a “that’s not what I meant” as you can already tell how much luck you’d have with that. Instead, you allow yourself to shrug a little, hoping to buy yourself some time to think. “I’m certain that the departed enjoy the good company at the very least,” you tell her, hoping to be clever.
The shinigami is yet again another step ahead. She has a vague response, “It is interesting to meet all sort of people. It beats doing paperwork.”
“You wouldn’t trade in your boat for a clerking job?” you ask with mild surprise. The best and most prestigious jobs in the ministry are closer to the yama and, to a lesser extent , kishin. The shinigami you met in the morning would have likely spent years proving their worth before they even got a chance to be close to the courthouse.
“I get on just fine around here,” she says, “the hours are nice and, like I said, it’s not too boring. Getting to leave at a decent hour most of the time is a nice perk.”
“I suppose I cannot fault you for enjoying your leisure time.”
“Some might,” she laughs and you find it’s a very unguarded sort of laugh; there is no pretense nor false modesty. Moreover, you figure that the reason for her laughter is thought of someone in specific. “Work is important and I enjoy what I do but there’s more to existence than just duty, you know?”
“Why do I get the feeling that you’re talking about me?” you say and shake your head.
“Oh, there’s no way I meant you. I hardly know you!” she laughs again. Her ability to make you feel at is almost suspiciously effortless.
“I’m working on it,” you say, showing a little levity. Making her treat you seriously would be counterproductive. At least for the time being. She bristled at formality.
“Perhaps it would go faster if you shared a drink with me after work?” she winks at you and playfully sticks out her tongue from the corner of her mouth, leaving no small amount of ambiguity on just how serious she’s being.
“If you’re trying to fluster me, it’s not working,” you tell her with a smile.
“Why would I try to fluster a future yama, possibly my future boss?” she skillfully plays dumb, looking off to the shore and away from your face.
You think to yourself, “Why indeed?” and believe that you are making progress on understanding her personality. She’s interested in you. It is not self-importance that makes you conclude as much—the trip across the river should have long been over. Komachi was too experienced for it not to be deliberate. There was some other reason why she was slow to complete the Yama’s request.
 Pretend not to notice.  Ask her directly why she’s delaying.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/06 (Fri) 12:00
“Komachi,” you enounce deliberately and get the desired result. The shinigami’s attention is on you completely even if she pretends to look ahead in order to steer the boat. “This has been a relaxing trip. Still, I have to ask why you’re making it last this much.”
“Would you believe me if I said it’s because I like you?” she asks, opting not to deny the accusation. It may well be that she likes you as, in her own way, she is showing respect by not choosing to dissemble.
It is, however, not the main reason. You gut tells you otherwise. “I believe that but I also believe that there’s another more practical reason.”
Komachi shrugs, stopping her rowing for a moment. “A candidate is not easy to fluster, I should have accepted that,” she says mostly to herself. “Can you blame me for wanting to tease you just a little?”
“Yes, actually,” you smile, “and you’re still avoiding the question.”
“Fine, fine, I get it,” she sighs and plops down next to you. For a moment you think it may be another attempt to deflect as you become aware of the sweet scent of lilacs. It even seems like she might lean in to you but she ultimately abstains. Her confession is delivered intimately in a whisper, as if she were afraid that the breeze might carry her words to unfriendly ears, “There isn’t much else for me to do today. No more souls to ferry. You are something new and interesting.”
Others might disbelieve such a mundane confession. Not you. It’s clear that Komachi appreciates companionship and opportunities to talk. “You would risk upsetting the Yama just to talk to me for a while longer?”
She stops to think for a moment. A soft giggle escapes her lips,“When you say it like that, it makes it seem that I’ve fallen in love with you at first sight.”
“I did not mean it like that,” you explain, unnecessarily.
“You’re observing me, aren’t you?” she asks rhetorically. “That book you’re carrying, I bet that you were taking notes about me just then. I wouldn’t have guessed that Lady Shiki would resort to using spies. She’s always been very direct in calling out poor behavior.”
“I am observing,” you see no point in denying it, “but I’m not a spy. She believes that I will be better prepared if I gain experience. As far as I can tell, you just happened to be the first person we ran into.”
“Lucky me,” she laughs, standing once again to man the oar. “Let’s get going then, now that we both know the truth.”
You have no objections. Once she begins to drive the boat again, the ferry soon reaches the opposite shore. The trip in its entirety, you divine, might scantly take a minute or two if she had been serious from the beginning. The trip ends near some reeds, where she uses a rope to tie the boat on a stone hitch You step onto Shigan and find that there are no souls in sight. It is a slow day.
“I suppose this is goodbye,” Komachi says with affectation. “Good luck to you, future yama and, hopefully, nice boss.”
“You’re coming with me,” you tell her. “Lady Shiki said that you would volunteer to take me beyond the river.”
“Because I’d see that you would be lost without me?”
With a grin, you reply, “No, it’s because of what you confessed on the boat. She foresaw your state of mind.”
“A judge is always sharp,” she looks into your eyes and sighs, generating some ambiguity. As she capitulates to fate, she cannot help but ask. “Could you at least tell me what it is you’ve decided about me? I’m asking for a little professional courtesy before Lady Shiki asks.”
You think about how to respond. Yes, your mind is more or less made up. There is no harm in telling her and her failings are not even great. Those are not the issues. The point of adjudication is to ultimately help induce positive reform.
 Refuse to say much. The concern of disappointing the Yama will make her behave.  Exaggerate her foibles and shortcomings with humor so that she may better understand.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/07 (Sat) 12:00
“I don’t see how any of that is bad,” Komachi says. She’s been leading you away from the shore for some time. After a minute or two of your best attempts to highlight her shortcomings—mainly that she is content to ignore work for her own amusement—she quickly seemed to no longer care about your thoughts. Instead, she took every opportunity to change the subject.
You were subjected to more idle talk, mostly about the river and minor things of note. Where spirits of the dead like to gather, the type of fish in the river, the people who sometimes catch those fish and all that proves mildly interesting but ultimately irrelevant. At times you felt like sighing but you persevered and kept on with hopes that you would reach her.
“Your life will be more fulfilling if you do things properly,” you insist. The river is nearly out of view, with mist obscuring the riverbank.
“I feel fulfilled now, so it’s fine,” she shrugs off the latest suggestion as she has everything else. Not even a vague, somewhat cheeky, remark about possibly getting replaced if she slacks off seems to rattle her. It frustrates you enough that you find yourself thinking that the only way she might learn were if she were to be struck on the backside with a rod as punishment. Like one would discipline a naughty child. The inspiration for your thought is one of the yama’s sacred badges of office, the one that is used to induce remorse in sinners. It is a crass analogy but one that pleases you.
As you get nearer to a mountain and the river melts away, you eventually stop your attempts to make her understand. If Lady Shiki were to act on your conclusions, then Komachi would be the one at fault. Not that the shinigami seems to care—her excitement grows proportionately from the distance to her workplace. You soon understand some of the reason behind that.
At a straight section of the road, the path widens and a series of stalls line the way. Merchants ply their wares eagerly to small groups of the living, giving the place the odd feeling of a festival. “They have good candy here,” Komachi observes, “we can stop for some if you like.”
“I’ve no money,” you tell her, “besides, all of the merchants here are here on a work release program. As someone from the ministry you should not interfere with their task.”
“Interfere?” she laughs, “they’re meant to show that they’re ready to move on by being normal. You’re just being stingy! Don’t worry, I’ll get you something too.”
“Fine, go ahead,” you tell her, “but be mindful of their feelings. Your scythe might bring back some bad memories.”
You watch as Komachi approaches one of the nearby stalls and begins chatting with its attendant. No one seems to mind the woman with the scythe at all, not even the few people who seem to be very much normal humans. Their patronage is appreciated, of course, as the ministry’s coffers are sometimes a little on the empty side. You take the time to write down some of your thoughts off to one side of the road. Some of it is dedicated to wrapping up matters regarding Komachi but a lot of what you write is about the other people present.
Two people in particular catch your eye. One is someone you saw briefly when exiting hell—a winged blonde woman with an unusual shock of feathery red on her head. She is quietly observing a child eating a skewer of some sort of grilled meat. The other is a horned woman with a red bovine tail and a spotted jacket. A lesser oni, perhaps. She doesn’t seem very interested by the peoples or stalls and is carrying a bag and something else in her arms.
Your companion seems busy haggling at a stall, so you put away your notebook and approach one of the women.
 It’s curious that the winged woman is just standing around.  There’s something mysterious about what the horned woman is carrying.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/08 (Sun) 12:00
The winged woman does not seem to mind your intrusion. She keeps on looking quietly ahead for a while before even noticing that you’ve opted to stand close by. It’s only a moment after that that she looks at your face, seems to ponder something and then asks, “Excuse me, do I know you? You look familiar.”
“We may have seen one another earlier today,” you tell her. “I don’t believe we’ve ever spoken.”
“You don’t look like an oni nor a human…” she pauses, “those are most of the people that I meet.”
“I am with the ministry and I saw you at the gates of hell,” you explain.
“A shinigami then?” she asks, cocking her head to one side.
“I’m currently following Lady Shiki’s orders,” you say.
At the mention of the Yama’s name, the woman brightens with recognition. “I see, I see,” she tells you, “good to meet you. You probably know this, but I’m Kutaka.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” you nod and give the same name you gave Komachi. “I’m sorry to bother you but I was curious as to why you were just standing around.”
“Oh, that,” Kutaka looks a little reluctant to speak. You note that both her wings and long, silky tail feathers dangle back in response. “I was on my way home and I saw something that got me thinking.”
Perhaps it would be rude to pry further. It might also be equally rude to broach a subject and then drop it, you decide. At the risk of being nosy, you ask, “May I ask what it was?”
“It’s not unusual for birds to eat other birds,” she tells you, “but to see humans do so without any thought is not something that I can get used to.”
You connect the dots. The child had moved on after eating her snack but Kutaka’s gaze still lingers on where she had stood. It’s then that Komachi rejoins you, a bag of candy in her hands. She is smiling brightly, no doubt happy to have gotten a good deal. When she notices Kutaka, she looks over at you quizzically. You offer quick introductions to the pair.
“Have we met before?” Kutaka asks, tilting her head forward to look at Komachi’s face carefully. “Were you the one who asked to borrow some makeup the other day?”
“No, that wasn’t me,” Komachi replies, bemused.
“Definitely a shinigami,” Kutaka remarks, noting Komachi’s scythe. She smiles at you and asks, “So are you two colleagues? Odd to see people from the other shore out and about in Gensokyo.”
You get he distinct impression that she’s indirectly asking if you’re on a date with Komachi. There’s no way of making sure that’s the case without implying it yourself. The safer bet is to just repeat that you’re following Lady Shiki’s instructions.
“So she wants you to go into Gensokyo, get a feel for things in her stead?” Kutaka asks. Giving her own guess credence, she adds, “the Yama always has been concerned for the well-being of the living.”
“I wish to meet some of the people who live here,” you tell her.
“I can help if you would let me,” she says. “That is, if it’s alright with the both of you. I do not wish to intrude on something I am not supposed to.”
It doesn’t seem that Komachi understands what she means and simply defers to you, saying that she’ll stick with you for a while longer, no matter what you decide. You’re not about to turn down an offer of help, especially as you would be otherwise lost in Gensokyo.
Kutaka tells you that she was on her way up the nearby mountain, to her home. “There’s a lot of interesting people up there. I can’t remember all of their names, but I know where some of them live,” she says, “I can take you to meet some of them, if you like.”
 Those who live near her home, by the waters that flow from the mountain, are of interest.  It is important to ensure the righteousness of those who concern themselves with faith.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/09 (Mon) 12:00
[x] It is important to ensure the righteousness of those who concern themselves with faith.
Is this a fellow jizou with a considerably sizeable posterior? I feel like this is a fellow jizou with a considerably sizeable posterior.
Also, I imagine either the author didn't read the Komachi manga, doesn't consider it canon or is making it so that this story happens before it, but she and Kutaka are acquaintances beyond working for the same person.
Kutaka leads you away from the relative bustle of the market. For a while she follows the road away from the river but, eventually, you come upon a fork on the road. She takes the smaller path, one that begins to wrap upwards around the mountain. It’s not difficult going though exposed tree roots and bushes begin to intrude on the dirt path with regularity. The leaf canopy above obscure views of Gensokyo for the most part save for when a small clearing allows you to get a sense of just how much you’ve climbed.
Your guide is cheerful and speaks unprompted about the mountain. That there are goddesses of all sorts to be found, that there is a large tengu community and even that there’s hags living in caves here and there. Komachi is mostly uninterested in what she has to say, instead happy to eat candy and look at the occasional wildflower you come across. On the other hand, you take a few notes, treating the outing as a chance to learn more about Gensokyo.
Before too long, you come across a river. Its source seems to be higher up the mountain, possibly by a waterfall that you can just barely make out in the heights. You spot a few figures in the distance, downstream and ask Kutaka about who they might be.
“Perhaps tengu,” she says, cocking her head forward, trying to make out who they were, “they send patrols out on the mountain, they like to think that they run things around here.”
“Sounds a little arrogant,” Komachi offers her opinion with a smirk. Making it sound like it would be a chance for fun, she asks, “I wonder what they would do if they spotted us?”
“I do not believe that they would do anything with me around,” Kutaka says. “At any rate, I forget what the patrols look like. They could well be those water goblins. They are near this river, after all.”
“Once a kappa tried to fish at the Sanzu,” Komachi recounts with a laugh, “She was surprised by what she hooked. I’ve never seen anyone run away so quickly.”
“I want to talk to them,” you say. There is absolutely no doubt in your mind that that is what Lady Shiki would want you to do. If Komachi was meant to be practice, then you were determined to be ready for the real thing.
“Oh?” Kutaka crosses her arms. You note that her wings raise themselves a little.
“I’m following my orders, “ you tell her, “thank you for the help.”
“Yes, I suppose it would be best if we parted ways here. There’s still much more I have to climb to get home. I would have offered tea but I see that you would be better served with something else.” She turns to Komachi and adds, “Make sure to return my makeup some other time.”
“I never borrowed it to begin with!” the shinigami protests. That doesn’t seem to faze the winged gatekeeper who simply shrugs and is soon on her way up the mountain.
You begin the descent, following the clear terrain around the river to get closer to the figures below. You hear mirthful conversation, hard to make out exactly due to the gurgling of water. The group hasn’t noticed you as they’ve their backs turned to the heights. They may well be a patrol of sorts, you think to yourself, as they’re all wearing similar outfits—and caps.
“Hey,” Komachi whispers to you, “if we get any closer they’ll notice us. I have a suggestion.”
Her plan makes some sense but you’re not sure it’s the way forward. Though she assures you that she’s “trying to help you work” that slightly-too-eager smile of hers hints that maybe her own boredom is a large factor. The main thing is that she’s right that there’s a possibility they might run away or, worse, be confrontational. Having her approach from the other direction with that scythe of hers in open view could be intimidating enough to keep them subdued. Either way, it would set the tone for the encounter and any subsequent judgment.
 Approach the group openly.  Give Komachi a chance.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/10 (Tue) 12:05
Komachi slinks off into the brush. You wait for a few moments. The group below stays oblivious to your presence for the time being. Before too long, you spot the glint of the shinigami’s scythe from below. That is when you decide to climb down and approach the group.
The cheerful exchange stops abruptly. Someone notices Komachi first and there’s silence. Several of the group take a step back. “What do you want?” cries a small voice.
“Me? Nothing,” Komachi answers back with a smile, “the person behind you, however, wants to have a little chat.”
Half of the group turns to face you for the first time. They hadn’t realized that you were so close. There’s an unmistakable rash of anxiety in their eyes as some start to step back towards the river. One of them fiddles around with something in one of the large pockets that they all seem to have on their shorts or skirts.
“On three!” another voice cries out in the group before starting a very quick countdown. Komachi comes closer, saying something that you aren’t going to hurt anyone but that falls on deaf ears. The call of “three!” is following by the crackle of something. Thick smoke comes from somewhere and the sound of water splashing is all you can hear for a moment.
The unexpected turn of events leaves you stunned. It is fortunate that the smoke disperses quickly and allows you to orient yourself once more. The group is gone, as is Komachi. A single object remains in their stead—a pale metal cylinder the length of about two hand spans that’s warm to the touch. You pick it up and look around some more.
“Ow, that hurts!” someone complains on the other side of the small river. You find a few large dry stones that you step on to get across. There, by a cluster of trees, comes another compliant, “I get it, I get it, so quick hitting me already!”
Komachi comes back into view, standing behind one of the girls from the group. The girl is being driven forward with taps of varying strength on her backside delivered by the wooden haft of the shinigami’s scythe. The front of the girl’s blue dress is muddied in places, likely a result of tripping. The large backpack she carries around likely makes fast movement an unstable prospect.
“Yo, Makoto,” Komachi cries out with a grin, “where would you like her delivered?”
“Violence isn’t necessary,” you say, “I just want to talk to her.”
“Ah, well, you saw what happened when I said just that earlier,” Komachi says. “Some people just are too stubborn for their own good.”
“You’re not going to kill me, are you?!” the prisoner cries out, nervously glancing at the bladed edge of the scythe.
“Death happens to every living being,” Komachi says with a particular smugness, “there’s no need to fear it. Unless you’re sure you’re going to hell, that is.”
“Now, now, please stop teasing her,” you say, coming closer, “you’ll just make things more difficult for me. What’s your name?”
“Kawashiro. Nitori.” the girl speaks haltingly, closing her blue eyes and taking a deep breath. “I haven’t done anything wrong so please let me go.”
“We’ll see about that,” Komachi adds. You give her a stern look. It is one that she likely is accustomed to seeing from the Yama. She apologizes silently with a shrug, indicating that she’ll stay quiet.
“Is this yours?” you hold out the cylinder towards her.
“Um, yes, it’s my portable water heater,” she tells you, “you can have it if you let me go. It’d normally cost you a lot, so it’s a really good deal!”
There is nothing material that she could offer that you would accept, even if you were truly ransoming her life. What someone cherishes and what they’re willing to give up is telling of their values. As is how they react to leniency when disaster feels certain.
 Allow her to believe that she needs to present a better deal.  Show grace and make it clear that you want nothing.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/11 (Wed) 12:00
>>31724 >>31729 >>31726 >>31724 No one is being bribed here. I thought that the last bit would make that clear. >There is nothing material that she could offer that you would accept, even if you were truly ransoming her life. What someone cherishes and what they’re willing to give up is telling of their values. As is how they react to leniency when disaster feels certain.
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The girl takes the water heater from your hands when you offer it. She holds onto it close, as if expecting it to be snatched away again at any moment. Despite your gesture, it doesn’t seem that she understands why you returned it, saying, “I don’t have much else on me that I can give, I think.”
“I don’t want anything,” you tell her yet again, “why is that so difficult for you to understand?”
“Difficult? No,” she shakes her head, her small twintails flopping from side to side, “you chased me down, so you have to want something.”
“I wish to talk, that’s all.”
“Since when do shinigami chase down people just to make them talk?” she frowns as she tilts her head up and back a bit to indicate Komachi.
“Hey, you’re the one that ran away,” Komachi pipes up.
“After you surrounded us and started swinging that sharp thing around!”
“Two people can’t surround a larger group,” Komachi laughs.
“Surprising someone like that is just rude,” Nitori pouts, “what did you expect us to do?”
“This isn’t helpful,” you interrupt the back and forth. First impressions may well be important, you figure. And your first impression wasn’t great. “I’ll tell Komachi to give you some space if you promise you won’t run away.”
“And if I don’t promise? Are you going to beat me up? Drag me to hell?!” Nitori, dwarfed even by the size of her backpack, attempts to stand tall. Komachi rolls her eyes at the display.
“Fine, we’ll let you go. Feel free to run away, but I would still like to just talk awhile,” you say, giving Komachi a private look that says “it can’t be helped.”
“If it’ll make the kappa happy, sure,” the shinigami backs off, moving off to the side. She stretches and stifles a yawn, showing just how interested she is in this exchange.
Nitori takes the opportunity to run away immediately. Or, rather, she attempts it. She’s not dexterous enough to turn around and run away without losing her balance. That backpack, again, no doubt. She stumbles backwards, foot caught on a stone and drops her water heater. Reacting quickly, you grab her arm and prevent her from finding herself flat on her butt. There’s a lot of force in her stumble and you barely manage to keep yourself from going over as well. You pull her up with a heave as Komachi stares on into the distance, indifferent to the commotion.
“Ah, thanks,” Nitori says with no small measure of awkwardness. She laughs nervously, “Guess I’m not doing to well today.”
You let go of her arm. “Just leave normally if you like. You don’t need to run,” you tell her.
“Um, maybe it’d be kind of rude for me to do that now,” she hesitates. Picking up the metal cylinder again, she offers it again, “are you sure you don’t want this? I’d feel better if you just took it and I then left.”
“I’m sure,” you reply. “Why is it important that I have it?”
“A trade like that is easy to understand,” she tells you with a sheepish smile, “going through all this bother to just talk is weird and, um, I don’t really believe you. Sorry!”
You don’t quite understand her mindset. It’s definitely transactional to an extent. No clear code of conduct that you can tell either which is something that all but defines certain types of youkai. There is some curiosity in her eyes, likely the reason why she hasn’t attempted to run away for a third time—that and faint traces of injured pride.
 She recognized Komachi as a shinigami so matters of life and death may have been on her mind.  It is worth exploring the criteria she uses to determine trustworthiness.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” Nitori says, tugging at her backpack’s straps. Despite your best efforts, she isn’t quick to open up. Whether it’s intentional wile or an honest reaction is difficult to tell.
“I suppose I’m asking what would make you trust someone,” you try to put it more succinctly. “Like me” isn’t your focus but it’s implicit nonetheless.
“Kappa like to have long-term relationships with people and groups,” she attempts to answer you. It’s general, sure, but better than nothing. “Having an agreement that everyone understands and respects is a way to earn trust.”
“Sure, but you have to start from somewhere. What about a stranger? How do you decide if they’re trustworthy?”
“It helps if they don’t push us around and try to get us to answer silly questions,” she huffs, pointing a resentful glare at Komachi. The shinigami ignores her, having long since decide to sit on a large stone by the river and dangle her feet over the cool mountain water.
“You’re free to go whenever you like,” you remind her, attempting to minimize her resentment.
“You might try to follow me,” she complains, though you’re not certain just how serious she’s being. The girl tolerates your questioning better than you thought she might at first—it is entirely possible that you’re mutually sizing one another up.
There is a moment when she appears to abandon the idea of giving you her water heater. While you’re asking her a little more about kappa, she tries to put the cylinder into one of the lateral pockets of her bag without drawing attention to herself. You pretend not to notice.
“Why do you want to know all of this, anyhow?” she asks.
“I want to know if people are living their lives properly,” you answer after a moment of thought.
“How can I trust someone who has such a weird reason for wanting to talk?” she lets out an exaggerated sigh, to drive home just how unreasonable you’re being and how she’s been unfairly victimized. “You’re not going to drag me to hell if I don’t pass your test, or something. Right?”
“Does it matter what I say? You don’t trust me either way.”
“Please don’t say that sort of thing with such a carefree smile,” Nitori says, evidently not at ease with what you think is non-threatening body language.
“I just can’t win with you, can I?” you shake your head. “If I had taken your water heater, would you have trusted me more?”
“I don’t know why this is something so hard to understand,” she takes a more scolding tone. Her previous bashfulness has melted away. “Everyone has bought something from a store, right? No one expects something for free. It takes time and effort to make things. So you make it clear what you want and you pay for it. When I sell things I always offer a fair price because of that fact. And now I wanted to go away and was happy to pay for it.”
“So it bothers you that you didn’t have to pay anything for your freedom?” you ask your main takeaway from her rant.
“No, I’m glad, but also maybe just a little…?” the kappa puffs up a cheek, no longer sure why she’s cross.
“How can you trust someone who doesn’t take advantage of an opportunity? ‘That person is too strange’, is that about right?”
“Um, yes, I think so,” she gives you a look that confirms that she thinks that you’re a complete and utter weirdo. Her reactions interest you, as is exploring the practicality of her worldview.
 Gift her something of yours and ask for nothing in return.  Bring up those things that cannot be bought nor traded.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/13 (Fri) 12:00
[x] Gift her something of yours and ask for nothing something of token value in return. I feel like trying to push any point about 'value' isn't going to get anywhere, assuming there's 'anywhere' to get. Might as well just do a quick, pro-forma exchange and get on with it.
It becomes evident as you speak to the kappa, that words have little effect on her attitude. She gets bolder with her rejections and seems to have forgotten all about being caught by a shinigami. With a smirk, she even goes as far as to question just how innate altruism is to the living. Albeit, perhaps, not consciously.
“All of those things that happened in the underground wouldn’t have been solved if we didn’t have a mutual interest,” she says of her supposed good friend, a magician who is described in anything but a positive light; driven but only due to the promise of profit.
“And every time you’ve met it has been because you needed something from one another?” you ask, doubting it’s the case. “No niceties, no shared meals, no empathy?”
“Basically,” she nods, stubborn to a fault. That it contradicted even some of the facts of her story did not seem to register. The kappa crosses her arms smugly, enjoying taking the opposite position to yours.
Your intent is not to debate as such. There is no debate at court. You ask, trying to get a complete image of her positions, “If you ever had a romantic interest in someone, would you approach your relationship the same way?”
Nitori’s self-satisfaction refuses to subside. She says without hesitations, “Humans exchange money and property when they get married. Why should it be different for youkai?”
“If someone is interested in you, they should just make you a good offer?”
“Sure, that would save everyone some time.” She laughs, “Looks like you don’t believe me!”
“I have my doubts,” you confess, “but you have me at a disadvantage. The only source I have to how you would act is yourself.”
“Oh, you can’t trust me?” the kappa is tickled by the idea, “it sure sounds like I’ve been right all along then.”
“We’ve just been talking for a while and I’ve gotten on with you just fine, so perhaps not,” you tell her. That you say it dispassionately, without any clear sense of superiority like she has displaying is more effective at reaching her than the actual substance of the argument. In other words, her curiosity keeps her engaging as she can’t quite figure you out.
In the end, however, there’s a limit to just how much discussion someone will brook with a stranger.
“I could have been doing so many other things,” she makes a half-hearted complaint of the encounter. The truth was that she was entertained and relished rebuking you.
“You chose to talk to me,” you remind her.
“No, I didn’t,” she denies even that but opts not to retread the argument. Instead, she uses the opportunity to announce that she’ll be going if there’s nothing else.
The afternoon sun is still high in the sky, warming all below. Time passes slowly and then all at once—even a youkai may end up thinking different before the end. It is unfortunate that at the end of your encounter you cannot present yourself as a friend, at least not in terms that she would understand.
 Her convictions, so long as they are consistently practiced, will work for her.  Those things that she tries to deny cannot be ignored forever.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/14 (Sat) 12:05
The final exchange with Nitori is simple. You wish her well and thank her for her time. If she expected moralizing or some sort of resistance, she hides it well, checking that her backpack is firmly fastened before turning away. You watch her go calmly downstream, a blue figure that eventually gets swallowed up by forested terrain.
You join your very relaxed shinigami companion by the river, sitting on another large stone with a flat top. As she whistles a simple melody to herself, you write and organize your thoughts in the notebook. Although it is difficult to say if the kappa is being wholly true to her nature, there is no doubt that you can approve of consistency if it really is, well, consistent. Final judgment would involve details of her life that you cannot reasonably be privy to after an impromptu and occasionally antagonistic conversation.
Though you do not believe yourself to very artistically-inclined, you find yourself making crude sketches some of the things you’ve seen. These include the clearing by the river, the key-shaped pendant around the kappa’s neck as well as her supposed water heater. The lines are messy and some of the perspective might be off but it makes sense to you. Satisfied with your work, you stand up and tell Komachi that you’re going. The shinigami happily comes along.
There’s no real set destination insofar you’re concerned. You go downhill because it’s easier going. Whether or not you encounter more kappa or other denizens of the mountain is not important—there is an unspoken understanding between you and your companion that you’ve had your fill of the area. For a moment, you think of doubling back towards Shigan but you figure that the Yama will have her own way of tracking you down. When you encounter a dirt path, you take to occasionally jotting down thoughts in your notebook.
Komachi breaks the silence before too long. Whether it’s an attempt to get you to stop ruminating or, more likely, simple boredom you’re not too sure. “I like working on the river but I think that maybe I would enjoy being up and about, roughing up the occasional hermit or others who don’t know when to die. I mean, it’s a beautiful day today and maybe it’ll rain in a week or so. It’s always the same at the Sanzu.”
You put away your notebook, stating wryly, “I’m glad you are enjoying your vacation, Komachi.”
“There’s nothing wrong with making the most out of a rare opportunity,” she says with a belly laugh. It sets the tone for the rest of your walk together. The shinigami is a little too loquacious for your liking but it undeniable that she is pleasant company. Part of her charm is that she is mindful to prompt others to speak instead of dominating the conversation. It is this way that you get better aquatinted, to the extent that the hour-long walk feels like an instant.
A large lake looms ahead. You are on a hillock that overviews a rocky part of its shore. Komachi leans against the trunk of a large tree, seeking the relief of its shade. There are human and youkai of all sorts in this countryside and yet you encountered none of them during your walk. Some of that may have to do with how intimidating a scythe appears, even at a distance.
“Would you like to take a break?” you ask Komachi, “I’m going to look for someone who might be nearby, we can meet up here in a little while.”
“Oh, sure, that’s fine with me,” she replies, already looking for the best spot to lie down and feel the cool breeze that’s coming in from the lake.
With that settled, you survey the area. Other than the occasional fairy off in the distance, you can’t spot anyone else. There is a commotion nearby but, judging by the noises, it seems to be in good fun. Those humblest of Gensokyo’s inhabitants will have to do for now.
 Check out those who are playing by the lake, where the breeze is coming from.  There were others closer to the woods, flying about without a care in the world.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/15 (Sun) 12:05
>>31763 >Other than the occasional fairy off in the distance, you can't spot anyone else. >Those humblest of Gensokyo's inhabitants will have to do for now. Pretty sure it's gonna be faeries either way, my dude.
>>31767 >Nah. It's society's job to develop the concept of what constitutes right/wrong. As a judge, all we're responsible for is determining if people adhere to whatever concepts their society establishes.
Just for the sake of maintaining character I refer you to >Incidentally, sins are distinct from the living world's crimes, and have nothing to do with whether or not they are based on any law. >Sins are determined purely at a Yama's discretion. in this setting, at the very least, yama make their judgments with no needed consideration to human law/society https://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Perfect_Memento_in_Strict_Sense/Eiki_Shiki,_Yamaxanadu
One of the rivers from the mountain snakes its way through the terrain, ultimately discharging its waters into the lake. Further upstream, you encountered the kappa and, as you near the lake, you find yourself in the midst of a congregation of fairies.
The fairies are mostly happy to play among themselves, keeping to small subgroups where they’re running around or shooting at one another with colorful projectiles. The rules of their games are unclear to you but you would guess that the rules don’t really matter, as almost every face that you see has a large smile on it. They are as children, carefree and happy to frolic under the afternoon sun.
Some notice your approach and react with giddy curiosity. They don’t dare to get too close in the open; you note that some of the groups that you pass peel off and start circling around behind your back at a prudent distance. As you reach the lake shore, where the mouth of the river is but a small gurgling stream, you understand at once why there’s a cool breeze—a fairy in blue is flying around, trying to blast other fairies with icy shot. The attacked fairies scramble around and taunt, leaving the pack whenever they get hit.
You sit by a sloped part of the lake’s bank. It’s a good opportunity to write down what you’re observing. You note the infectious sense of freedom you feel from the manifestations of nature. In short order, those fairies that had been trailing you come closer and you get bolder: some lie down in the grass behind you, stalking poorly as they cannot help but talk loudly and laugh and giggle at every suggested thought.
It is only when those playing dodge-the-iceball begin to bleed away in your direction that one of the fairies dares to make direct contact. The fairy in blue ends the game herself, fluttering down on her icicle-shaped wings to right in front of you. It gets cooler as she gets nearer. She adopts a confrontational stance, placing her arms akimbo and leering at you.
“Hey, human, what are you doing here?!” she asks loudly. With a broad grin she looks around at the other fairies, who seem to be impressed at her boldness.
“I’m not a human,” you tell her, “and I just came here to see what was happening by the lake.”
“Not a human? Ya sure look like one!” she laughs as if she had told a really cracking joke. “Or maybe, nah, maybe a lame youkai that can change shapes.”
“I’m not that either, miss fairy,” you tell her. She operates with such high energy that it’s difficult not to try to quicken your words to match her pace. “I’m not sure you know where it is, but I come from beyond the Sanzu.”
“Yes, of course I know! What do ya take me for, some kind of dummy?” she boasts, throwing back her head with a sharp laugh. That has an effect on the other fairies who chirp and titter at her antics. “You don’t look like you’re dead, so dunno what you’re supposed to be.”
“Just someone who wants to observe the people of Gensokyo for a bit and learn more about them.”
“Ah, I gotcha,” she nods her head, concocting a self-absorbed theory on the spot, “you came to watch the strongest be awesome!”
“...is that you?” you ask, knowing full well that it was. Given how bombastic the small girl is, it’s only fair to tease out certain reactions.
“Of course it is! What are you, a moron? From the mountains, to the lake and the forests, everyone knows that Cirno is the strongest!” she says the last part to a cheer from the other fairies. They seem to thrive on excitement. You, on the other hand, wish to see how in alignment they are with their natures.
 Ask the brash fairy for proof of her claim.  You wish to learn more about the games they were playing.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/16 (Mon) 12:00
A direct change of subject works well on the fairy. You don’t have to couch your words in niceties nor meander to get her to react to something. As soon as you mention the game they were playing, she proves all too eager.
There is a high level of pride and self-satisfaction on her face as she explains, “It’s training for the next time playing with others. Fairies play and fight a lot, sometimes with youkai and with humans too. Not everyone is as strong as me so I gotta make sure they get better!”
“We like getting better, it means we can play more!” one of the fairies in the crowd pipes up. A few similar sentiments are expressed by others.
“Oh, that’s nice of you,” you say, “so what kind of training is it?”
“Dodgin’!” she smirks, “I am pretty smart!”
“Fairies don’t dodge when playing around?”
Another fairy fields the question, “Everyone gets so excited that they like to go after people together. It’s real fun. But we get hit a lot and have to get out of the way.”
Cirno nods, happy with the explanation. “If they start gettin’ out of the way, they can play longer,” she adds.
“Shouldn’t you be showing them how to dodge instead of just shooting at them?” you ask the obvious.
“I already know how to!” she says, “keep up, human.”
“I already said that I’m not a human,” you say patiently.
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” the fairy apologizes, “it’s just that you don’t have horns or wings so I forgot.”
You try again to get her to explain her logic, “I think that if you showed them how it’s done, the others would learn faster. They looked like they were learning much when I was watching.”
The fairy crosses her arms and appears to think about what you’ve said. She even tilts her head slightly forward and scrunches up her lips. Her eyes fall onto the red ribbon around her collar before going to you. Her conclusion isn’t what you expect it to be, “Are you saying that I’m so awesome that the others will learn if they look at me being awesome?”
“...I guess you could say that,” you take the partial breakthrough.
“Ah, ah, ah!” she nods happily, “I get what you mean. It’s pretty smart. That other lady from the river was also smart, but I didn’t get what she said.”
“Other lady?” you ask, expecting the answer to be Komachi. Fairies do go all over the place, so you wouldn’t be surprised if her story of going to the river was true.
“I was following the pretty flowers that appear every once in a while, but that was a really really long time ago,” she says. “It’s boring to talk about. I don’t like thinking about that graveyard!”
At the mention of the word “graveyard” some of the fairies’ expressions darken. A really quiet but persistent “ooh~!” ripples through the crowd.
“It’s fine, we don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” you tell her, feeling that the conversation can easily get derailed due to fairies’ simple natures.
“Yep, good,” Cirno nods, “good good good.”
“So about your training…”
“I think I get it, I want the fairies to be strong too, that way we can all have a lot more fun!” she once again puts her arms on her sides and gives the group of fairies a bright grin. “So you’re going to help us get better, right?”
“Is it really my responsibility now?” you ask calmly, as always with the objective of better understanding her way of thinking.
“Why else would you be here, huh? You like fairies, duh. So you want to help us.”
In a sense, what she was saying is true. Things belonging to nature are meant to be respected. And perhaps, to a small extent, you are simply amused by the plucky fairy and her cohorts. So they deserve a little break from being looked down upon by youkai and human alike.
 Have them reverse roles so that Cirno dodges the other fairies’ fire.  Take matters into your own hands and play fight with Cirno awhile.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/17 (Tue) 12:05
The fairy thumps her chest when she hears your suggestion and exclaims, “That sounds like a lot of fun! I’ll show you how good I am!”
The mass of fairies fan out to give you room. They chatter among themselves excitedly and some of what you overhear is about just how tough you look. Cirno is the clear favorite in their eyes but the confidence you show wins you a few winged fans at the outset. There is some cheering as Cirno strikes a defiant pose, arms crossed and with a look that taunts you to take your best shot.
The culture of Gensokyo is something you’re more or less familiar with. The Yama would not have you go out on your own if that weren’t the case. While this is not a spellcard duel, there are still norms to follow. There is no need to use excessive force and it behooves you to be fair to your opponent. There’s a giddy feeling that rises through your body. You give Cirno deferential nod to Cirno and begin.
The posturing the fairy had shown is not without merit. You start small and find that she deftly dodges the first barrage. Then a second and a third. Curving the projectile’s path is no challenge either. A whoop and cheer comes from the spectators as Cirno makes it look effortless. Undaunted, you keep at it and soon you’re engaging in what increasingly seems like a dance.
At some point the fairy decides to stop being passive and fires some of her own icy projectiles at you. It’s not a problem, of course, but soon you’re adjusting your firing position to avoid getting hit. Some in the crowd get hit by either kind of shot, too slow to get out of the way. No one seems to remember that this is a lesson and are instead too caught up in the excitement of the mock battle to pay attention to technique.
You bring things to an end when you notice that many of the fairies have stopped watching altogether. Many smaller groups have formed and have splintered off to play around among themselves, shooting and cheering for their own unstructured duels. Others are content to have free-for-alls while a few have lost interest entirely and are instead playing hide and seek.
Cirno looks frustrated that you call it quits, firing at you for a while as you dodge and come closer. “Why are you stopping now!?”
“It is no longer a lesson,” you tell her, pointing to the others.
“But, but, I was just getting started!” she pouts. “It’s unfair of you to start playing and then want to quit.”
“You’re supposed to be helping the others learn to be as strong as you, remember?”
“Fighting you will make me stronger. If I get stronger, I can help them even better!” so her logic goes. You can’t help but smile.
“Is it really that important to be strong?” you ask her.
She stares up into your eyes, like you have just asked the stupidest question she could imagine. “Of course!” she huffs, “without being strong no one will even think of you! Humans and youkai don’t care about fairies.”
“I care about fairies,” you tell her.
“Yeah, but you’re really smart,” she dismisses your counterpoint with a scowl—it’s not clear if it’s meant as a compliment—and she reasons, “of course you like the strongest. That’s why you were playing with us.”
The others are dumb in her eyes, that much is clear. Yet there’s plenty that makes fairies special, if not better in some ways. You wish to make her understand that and think of the best approach to accomplish that.
 It shouldn’t matter if others don’t care. What matters is how fairies feel.  They take fairies for granted but, deep down, they understand their importance.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/18 (Wed) 12:05
> It shouldn’t matter if others don’t care. What matters is how fairies feel.
Wrong. Fairies are part of life just as much as humans and youkai. In this context, that would be like saying the only thing that matters is what black people think.
> They take fairies for granted but, deep down, they understand their importance.
There is nothing to suggest this is true. In a typical CYOA, the character saying such a statement would have some meaningful insight or experiance that would make vote options immune from being objectively wrong. This MC, by contrast, has been known to spout meaningless gibberish. So yea...not too sure about this one guys.
[X] It shouldn’t matter if others don’t care. What matters is how fairies feel.
There is no shortage of excitement when fairies are about. They fly around, laugh and talk, play their games and sometimes even prank others. Of the latter you’ve seen little, possibly thanks to how much of an interest Cirno has taken in you—without her around you are sure the fairies would have tried something by now. In short, they are true to themselves and that is their greatest asset.
That’s not something easy to explain to someone who thinks that shooting icicles at a stranger will make her stronger. Still, you make the attempt, presenting your logic in a way you hope she understands. “Do you have fun playing around like this?” you ask at one point.
“Sure!” she affirms, “every day is fun.”
“Then, like I was saying, why does it matter what the others think? If you’re having fun then you don’t need to worry.”
“Yep, that’s true,” she agrees, “but I still want ‘em to take us more seriously.”
“Do you take me seriously?” you ask her.
“’Course!” she beams, “you are nice.”
“That’s also because I know that already,” you say. You’re not saying it out of self-importance but in the hope that she’ll apply the conclusion to herself. “I feel that I’m nice and so others see me that way, too. You know you’re strong so others know it too. It’s like how I knew from the moment I saw you.”
“Hm, that’s pretty clever!” she says, sounding genuinely amazed.
“You just have to trust yourself. It doesn’t matter what others think. If fairies are just themselves and are happy, then nothing else matters.”
“Yup, I think I get it,” she nods and crosses her arms. You’re not quite sure that she really understands what you’re saying, even the simplified format you’ve chosen but she does seem less worried about the respect of others. “When we’re playing, they never ignore us.”
“Just continue having fun, that’s all that’s important,” you sum up.
The fairy smiles at you, her blue eyes bright and equally as carefree. She then does something you didn’t expect, jumping at you without thinking. “Take this!” she laughs as she wraps her arms as tightly as she can around you. By the time you realize she’s just giving you a hug, she’s broken off and once again has crossed her arms and adopted a smug pose. “How’s that!?” she asks, triumphantly.
“It was nice, thank you,” you tell her.
“That magic girl was right,” she says, “doing that as thanks feels nice.”
Before you’re able to ask her who she means, you have to deal with a new situation. Namely, that the other fairies around you all want to copy Cirno. Soon you’re immobilized by a throng of hugging fairies who all giggle and laugh like with any other one of their games. It’s not a disagreeable state of affairs but it is a little draining to be pulled and squeezed by so many small hands. By the time that they decide to ease off, you’ve had enough hugs to last you several years.
Cirno herself is back to playing with the other fairies. The sun has gotten lower in the sky and many of those assembled will go elsewhere or to their homes soon. You hope that she won’t forget what you’ve told her though it’s entirely possible that she might. That’s why you decide to do one last thing before you’re on your way.
 Offer her a sketch of her playing with the other fairies so that she can always remember what's important.  Teach her a simple technique that will make a little stronger at fighting that will remind her of you.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/19 (Thu) 12:05
>>31794 Honestly, you're just outright ignoring the context of who you're interacting and why. I don't know what "typical CYOAs" you may be referring to nor why you're thinking about objectivity when it hasn't applied in the least to any vote in this story. You're just going to continue to have a bad time if you think that the protagonist has spouted gibberish at any point in the story. You may disagree, personally, but what matters once again is context. If it's taken seriously in-story by characters that's all that matters.
[X] Teach her a simple technique that will make a little stronger at fighting that will remind her of you. She's not going to keep a sketch. She'll definitely forget it. A technique, though, her body will remember (/eyebrow raise) and maybe she'll remember who taught it to her, if only vaguely.
Case 2 - EndTeruyo!Wo5j3FYZRg2020/03/19 (Thu) 15:34No. 31815▼
You write a few things down in the notebook, adding a small sketch of the joyous chaos that is an assembly of fairies. That gives Cirno a little more time to play before you call out to her and interrupt a particularly energetic game of tag.
As soon as the fairy hears you’re going to teach her something that will make her stronger, she shows you the brightest smile you’ve ever seen someone give. Of course she wants to know all about it and bombards with you with quick-fire questions that you ignore for the sake of your sanity. You silence her the only way you can—by showing her the technique.
“The important thing is that you do it your own way,” you say, “it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it down perfectly. Have fun.”
“I’m not sure I get it,” she shakes her head as she mimics your stance, “but I feel a little stronger already.”
That was likely her natural confidence speaking. The truth was that what you’re teaching her is more of a way of relaxing the body. More meditation technique than fighting. It’s something that helps one focus, essentially. If she does it before fighting or between hectic moments you think that she could benefit. As there is no way to get her to sit still and learn proper meditation, it will have to do.
“Make sure to practice and you’ll definitely feel better,” you say, “the next time we meet I want you to show me how you’ve managed.”
“This is easy!” she boasts, “if you come back tomorrow I’ll be ready!”
“We’ll see,” you smile, “take care until then.”
“Yep! Bye bye!” she waves to you before practicing what you’ve shown her obsessively. You hope that she’ll make the connection between what you’ve talked about and the technique but there’s no guarantee of that. Even if she forgets you, that cannot be helped.
You retrace your path along the river with lingering thoughts about the simple nature of fairies. There is a small smirk in your lips, one that proves your undoing.
“I’ve never seen someone so captivated by fairies before,” Komachi has been shadowing for a while without you noticing, as she chooses just the right moment to appear right next to you. “Then again, I’ve also never seen thirty fairies all try and hug someone at the same time, so maybe it’s a special talent of yours.”
“They are harmless and it was interesting to speak to them,” you tell her, “were you keeping an eye on me?”
“Lady Shiki would probably have my head if you got roughed up by someone,” she says, “but no, it was just coincidence. I was curious why there was such a commotion nearby. I didn’t expect to see someone from the Ministry of Right and Wrong fighting fairies for fun.”
“It wasn’t for fun,” you shake your head, “I was trying to understand them. Qualifies as work.”
“If that’s work then I’ll strive to become a candidate myself one day,” she laughs and prods your side softly with her elbow.
“If I didn’t know better, I would say you are envious of the attention I’m getting,” you fire back, “or perhaps all this stems from a desire to be hugged that is difficult to admit?”
“My, and would you be the one to administer said hug?” she asks with a laugh, mocking you slightly by adopting some of your typically restrained language. “I am not certain that the ministry would approve of this type of fraternization.
“It could be said that this employee would not be opposed to the initiative,” she continues, purposefully stilting her cadence to mock formality, “It is, however, believed that there is not enough courage in the candidate to do more than pontificate.”
Giving you a patronizing pat on the back, she finishes her challenge. Clearly she means to push boundaries to test your reactions. A part of you does wish to sink to her level but you have no idea whether that will ameliorate things or simply add fuel to the fire.
 Remaining unflappable will make her give up.  Give her a taste of her own medicine.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/20 (Fri) 12:05
“You’re really insufferable, you know,” you say, “not to mention a foolish. What if I were to tell Lady Shiki that you’ve been mocking me? I doubt she would laugh it off.”
“I trust you not to do that,” she dismisses the possibility simply. “You wouldn’t betray a friend.”
“Misplaced confidence,” you tell her, “we’ve only just met today.”
“I talk to all sorts of people every day,” she shrugs, “after a while, you get a feeling for what sort of person someone is after talking to them a little.”
“Komachi,” you use her name as if it were a command, getting her to stop in her tracks. You stare hard into her red eyes, with an intensity that makes her break eye contact with reflective modesty. For the first time in the day, it seems like she is treating you with some degree of submission. Uncertain if a serious scolding will follow, she is overly conscious of your every move. “I have decided what to do with you,” you let no emotion creep into your voice.
Soberly raising your hand, perhaps a little like a yama would to strike a sinner with their rod, you close the gap with the shinigami. You embrace her firmly, feeling the warmth of her body and hearing the rustling of her dress against her obi and vest. “You musn’t be careless with what you ask for,” you whisper as the scent of lilacs once again fills your nose.
The hug is not drawn out as you feel that the point is best made succinctly. It takes a moment for her to compose herself; she smiles dumbly as she processes your action. At last, with a shake of the head and a laugh, she says, “For both our sakes, you probably shouldn’t write this down in that notebook of yours.”
“I won’t tell if you won’t tell,” you reply.
“Perhaps I should have asked for a kiss,” she says with a wink, remaining utterly incorrigible. As annoying as it might be at times, at least there was nary a dull moment with her around. There is much that you wish to say but keep to yourself, falling instead into a routine of scattershot conversation as you walk through Gensokyo.
Before too long, the sun is low in the sky. It begins to disappear over mountains in the distance. It’s at this moment that your companion asks, “Where are we headed, anyhow?”
“Isn’t it obvious? The village,” you tell her. The only important group that you’ve missed thus far is perhaps the most important—humans. These are primary source of souls for her work and that of the yama. That is why you’ve been following dirt roads of varying levels of upkeep, certain that they lead to the settlement.
“Maybe we could grab a bite to eat there,” says, “or maybe something to drink. It’s been a long day, we’ve walked a lot.”
“We’ll see,” you remind her, “I’ve no money, so you’ll have to pay for yourself.”
“I don’t suppose I can get reimbursement from the ministry later? This is work-related, after all.”
“Try speaking to Lady Shiki afterwards,” you tell her.
“Suddenly, I don’t feel so hungry anymore,” she sighs.
The village is close. From one of the hills you just passed you saw homes beyond the nearby fields. The last part of the path passes through a wooded area, where birds are chirping unseen somewhere in the treetops. Many youkai become active only at night and so you half-expect to see one pop out in your path at any moment. Komachi appears to think the same, cutting down on the small talk and brandishing her scythe in a more prominent manner. That might well be a problem. You’ve a desire to meet people, not frighten them away.
 Continue as you are.  Strike up lighthearted conversation.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/21 (Sat) 12:05
It does not take much to make someone as garrulous as Komachi talk. There are few things she takes too seriously. This means that even tense moments can rapidly become filled with light banter or other inoffensive talk. It is especially true now that you have a clear idea of what you can talk to her about, instantly getting her to exchange thoughts about daily life.
“-not a single thing out of place, right?” she asks.
“Being organized is important,” you follow up. “Please tell me that you’re not the kind of person who is slovenly at home.”
“No one is perfect,” she says, “don’t tell me you’ve never mumbled a greeting because you were tired after work instead of the normal ‘Good evening!’”
“Good evening!” A voice cuts through your conversation. It’s not clear from where. You stop to look around but the trees do a good job of making anything but the path you’re on seem inscrutably dark.
“Good evening,” you answer back, “who are you?”
“’Who are you?’” is echoed back.
“…” you pause and look to the shinigami. She shrugs, giving you the universal sign of ‘I have no clue.’
“Are you hungry?” the voice asks after a moment.
“A little,” Komachi answers back.
“…” another moment passes. Then, some rustling from a nearby bush. Komachi keeps a firm grip on her scythe as you watch a figure emerge from the dark. It is not exactly what you expected. A girl with dog-like ears emerges, an earnest smile on her lips. “Please come this way,” she says, waving enthusiastically at you, “there’s good food waiting.”
“...that’s a little suspicious,” Komachi whispers to you as the girl turns around, already assuming that you're going to follow.
“I don’t think she means us harm,” you tell her.
“You’re too trusting,” the shinigami tuts.
“It’s part of the reason why you like me so much,” you dismiss her concern with a glib response. She rolls her eyes but says nothing else.
You follow the girl, finding her pink dress easy to spot in the relative darkness. She also has a short tail, more similar to a mop than something truly fluffy in your opinion. It moves back and forth excitedly as she leads you on to a clearing beyond a set of trees.
A bright red lantern is lit, piercing through the gloom of the woods. It is hung on one side of a small stand and faint smell of cooking wafts in the air. The girl walks up to the stand and pokes her head under the curtain. “Hey, hey~! I brought some customers!” she announces.
An exchange of some sort, but it’s mostly inaudible. The girl comes back from the stall with a dejected expression, nearing the point of tears. “My friend says she’s not ready for customers yet, sorry! Please wait a while!” she bows deeply.
“Oh… we can wait, it’s no problem,” you say, looking over to Komachi. She understands that you’re not really interested in the food and offers another shrug, this time meaning “it can’t be helped.”
The girl thanks you for your patience but still seems preoccupied. For one, she keeps stealing glances back towards the stand and making a big effort not to sigh.
“What’s your name?” you start with the obvious.
“Oh, um, Kyouko,” she tells you.
“This is Komachi and I’m Makoto,” you break the ice, “what sort of stand is this?”
“Grilled lamprey. My friend runs it. I help out sometimes.”
It wouldn’t take a particularly observant person to notice that she pouts some and her ears droop when she says “friend”. Kyouko does not seem to be good at hiding her feelings.
 Try to make her feel at ease and avoid upsetting her.  Directly ask her if there’s anything the matter.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/22 (Sun) 12:10
The girl is taken aback by your direct question. She forces a smile, meant to look carefree, but comes off as nervous. “I’m sorry to make you wait, I know it must be really inconvenient” she says, bowing her head at you.
“My friend here is just going to ask you the same thing again until you answer or say you don’t want to talk about it,” Komachi warns with a soft laugh. Once again she thinks she has you all figured out. Were you alone, you might be tempted to rebuke her.
“Oh, um,” Kyouko brightens up and looks like she might echo the laugh but instead shakes her head. The girl tells a very unconvincing lie, “I’m just fine, kind strangers like you shouldn’t worry.”
“It doesn’t seem like it,” you insist, “it’s clear you’re worrying about something. Sharing might help put your mind at ease. At the very least, it will help pass the time.”
“Ah, I think that there was something in a lesson about pride…” she says to herself, making a decision. “Or was it patience? I can’t really remember how the rest of it went..”
You exchange a look with the shinigami. She is impatient and puts more pressure on the girl, “If you want, you can tell us all about it over a cup of sake if that helps.”
“Wow, it’s been a while since I met people so pushy!” she exclaims. It doesn’t sound like a complaint to your ears, as she brightens up as she speaks, “Well, you seem like nice people. And I don’t feel like fighting right now.”
“So what’s the matter?” Komachi asks yet again. You throw her a look saying that she should leave the talking to you. It has no effect and the shinigami follows up, “Problems with your love life?”
“N-no!” the girl recoils and becomes as red as the lantern. It’s impressive just how poor of a job she does at hiding her feelings.
“Don’t be shy, I’ve been talking to Makoto here about love, life and death all day. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“Komachi,” you interrupt, “this isn’t helpful.”
“I’m just teasing a little,” she sticks out her tongue at you but is quick to apologize to the girl. “Doesn’t being a little silly help you feel relaxed?”
Kyouki smile and nods, quickly recovering from being flustered. “I guess so!” she even allows herself a small laugh as her ears bob up and down excitedly. “I guess this whole thing silly. I don’t even know why I’m telling strangers about my silly, silly problem. I had a fight with my friend. So I was feeling a little down.”
“The one at the stand?” you ask.
“Yep, but I’m sorry. I don’t want to talk about her behind her back! It’d be unfair.” Kyouko places her hands behind her back and steals a not-very-stealthy glance towards the cart. No one is peering back. “I don’t want to have the fight all over again either,” she says, a little too indiscreetly.
“I can help you work through your issue fairly,” you say, supremely confident that that would be the case.
“Listening and lect-I mean, helping out are Makoto’s specialty,” Komachi adds. She briefly gives you a perfunctory look of contrition. You both know that she enjoyed making that dig at you.
“Hm, hm…” the girl rocks gently back and forth, lips pursed as she thinks. She looks to Komachi then to you but says nothing, all of a sudden bashful. By your reckoning, all she needs is a safe space and a gentle prod.
 Let her know that all you want is to hear her side of things and she shouldn’t worry about her friend.  Leave Komachi in charge of talking to her while you speak to her friend at the food stand.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/23 (Mon) 12:20
Despite your assurances, the pussyfoots when it comes to giving an actual explanation. She begins with an earnest statement that they’re “very good friends!” which is said a little too loudly. “This is really just silly and it’s a misunderstanding. I’m sure we’ll work it out,” she then insists.
“What caused the fight?” you ask. She’ll keep beating around the bush if you don’t press her.
Predictably, her ears droop once more. “We do a lot of things together,” she says, “she didn’t think it an idea I had was good and when I asked her why she just said that I was being silly.”
“Oh, and what was it that you suggested?” you ask, following up on the obvious.
“It’s just… related to something we do sometimes together,” she tugs at the end of her sleeves, avoiding direct eye contact. At face value, embarrassment.
“I’d like you to tell me if you don’t mind,” you say.
Instead of giving you a straight answer, she tells you more about her relationship with her friend. They bonded over similar interests and usually get along most of the time. “She gives good advice,” Kyouko insists even after she hints that her friend can be outright insensitive or self-centered at times.
It follows that every other declaration from Kyouko is an “um’ or partial walk back of very mild criticism. Perhaps it’s a knock on effect from your earlier directness that has her on the back foot. It could be that she cannot help but suspect you and your motives. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a chance she wasn’t always going to be meek and struggle with being assertive.
Komachi does not have the patience to simply stand around and listen to her meander. She gives you a sign, tilting her head at the stand. You understand that she means to check things with the friend—or see if she can get served food and drink.
“If you won’t tell me what it was,” you interrupt one of Kyouko’s exculpatory tangents, “can you at least tell me why it upset you?”
“Why it upset you?” she echoes and sighs. “I never get the chance to, um, do much but provide backup.”
“Backup to what?” is the obvious question but, sensing her reluctance, you instead ask, “So you’re saying wasn’t willing to give you a chance to do things your way?”
“It sounds awfully selfish when you put it like that, but yes,” she nods, smiling weakly. “It’s not that I don’t get to do the things that I want to but it would be nice if other people were okay with it.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you just going to ignore the issue until it blows over and pretend it never happened? Or are you going to talk things through? Perhaps even insist that you’re right,” you say. This is perhaps less tactful than what you normally might express. However, there’s no point in sticking your nose directly into her business if you’re not going to follow through after.
“I don’t know,” the girl adopts a self-defeating attitude. Neither willing to confront her friend nor willing to share her feelings, it is obvious that the impasse will persist. The catalyst for the falling out doesn’t really seem to matter; the lack of communication is what will continue to hold her back.
 She should know that she doesn’t need her friend’s approval to do as she likes.  It would be best if she confronted her directly and talked things through.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/24 (Tue) 12:10
Sorry for the lateness but life threw a curveball.
The first option is weird. Why wouldn't she need her partner's approval to do something she just said it was a shared activity?
Isn't she in a punk metal with her? Isn't metal about expressing yourself and freedom? I mean, she uses it to express her frustration at her 'oppression' in myourenji, but she should know that oppression can be self inflicted too- wait... that's it! She's 'oppressed' every day at the temple and now she still has to set aside her desires even out of it. Even in the band she did to express herself. Well that makes the other option seem reasonable, even if it is a bit dumb to ignore that she just say it was 'something they do togheter'
Fine, I'll give it a vote:
[x] She should know that she doesn’t need her friend’s approval to do as she likes.
“I can’t do that!” Kyouko protests emphatically when you tell her what you think. She places her hands in front of her chest, as if praying that you’re not serious.
“If you don’t talk about it, you can’t expect to work things out,” you press the point.
She shakes her head vigorously, ears flopping side to side, “I don’t want to fight anymore, that’s all. I don’t care who is right. Winning an argument might be important to you, but I like the time I spend with her. I don’t want that to change.”
“Your friendship will be fine,” you reassure her. Letting herself get cowed by the possibility that things might take a bad turn would just hamper her in the long run. If it was important enough for her to get upset over, or for a fight to come of it, then it was important enough to mend things. She might say that winning the argument is not important, and perhaps she won’t, but getting her voice heard and respected surely has to count for something.
You drive her towards the stand. Despite her reluctance, she follows behind you meekly, being just a step behind you at all times. Komachi sits under the curtain, already busy eating a portion recently grilled lamprey. The friend, a pink-haired bird youkai of some sort has her back turned, tending to her grill while singing something with nonsensical lyrics.
“She just won’t shut up,” Komachi confides as soon as she notices you’ve joined her, grimacing a little at the girl’s high-pitched warble.
“I convinced,” you look back to Kyouko who is standing around awkwardly, “I think, I convinced her that she needs to talk things out with her friend. Do you have have any clue what the fight is about?”
“Some sort of performance,” Komachi offers a piece of skewered lamprey to you laconically. You accept and take a small bite. It feels firm and chewy; a little oily but it’s a nice meaty flavor. “Says that Kyouko wanted to do something without explaining what it was first,” she continues before digging into another skewer.
“Do you believe her?” you ask, sitting down next to her.
“Not especially,” she says, “given how she sings her words even when speaking, I think she just wants to be the center of attention at all times.”
“What’s her name?”
“Mystia!” you call out to the singing chef. The girl turns from the grill, spatula in hand with a bright smile. Her wings are strange and not entirely bird-like in your opinion. They’re light but not especially filled with feathers as was the case with Kutaka.
“Oh, hello~♪” Mystia comes closer, “do you want to order more~?”
“I’m here to tell you to talk things through with your friend,” you tell her succinctly, tilting your head towards the quiet Kyouko.
“My, what troublesome customers!” she laughs, taking it in stride. “Make sure to order more to make up for your nosiness, please!”
Komachi doesn’t hesitate to order more. That gives you the cover to press Mystia. You tell her, “Kyouko here wants to work things out. Won’t you listen to her?”
“I already listened to her and it was pretty awful,” she shrugs. Addressing her friend, she adds, “come up with better material.”
“Better material,” Kyokou echoes and then huffs, “you didn’t even give me a chance!”
“Unless it’s from the soul, it’s best to just sing backup~♪” Mystia trills halfway through the line, being unnecessarily loud. The bird turns around to flick more lamprey on the grill, ignoring her friend.
“You might need to give her a hug now,” Komachi whispers devilishly. It’s not serious advice but she is right that Kyouko looks gutted with how things are turning out. Being dismissed right out of hand is not nice. Seeing no other way forward, you opt for a direct approach to bring this matter to a head.
 Strongly chastise Mystia for not listening and dismissing others.  Push Kyouko to voice her idea all the way through.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/25 (Wed) 12:10
[x] Push Kyouko to voice her idea all the way through. Forcing the issue when you're not even an involved party is asking for disaster. Either the echodog takes a stand or it's time to back out and call it done. Simple as that.
Putting down the skewer, you stand next to the silenced Kyouko. “There is only one way you are going to be heard,” you say. She looks at you without understanding, brow scrunched in confusion. You explain, “Make it so she can’t ignore you, speak up and don’t let yourself be interrupted. Can you do that?”
“Can you do that?” she echoes, faithlessly.
“Being heard is important,” you insist. “Do not allow yourself to feel sorry or miserable without trying.”
“I-” she looks over to Mystia, who is back to singing to herself, without a care in the world. Kyouko is not as self-centered but, from what you’ve heard, she does share her friend’s capacity for volume.
“Go on then. If you’re waiting for a better chance, it won’t come. It’s in your hands,” you say, taking a seat next to Komachi once again. The shinigami offers another skewer with a look that ultimately tells you that she cares more for the next batch of lamprey than this interpersonal ordeal.
Regardless, she’s affected by its outcome. After another moment of hesitation, Kyouko’s ears perk up. She looks straight ahead, beyond her friend, the stand and well past the woods. What comes next is something you could not have anticipated. Though her voice quivers at first, she is loud from the onset and belts out something between a howl and a screech. You wince and her friend turns around, surprised as you are.
Something akin to singing follows, with loud lyrics and not much in the way of harmony. The girl yells into the night, eyes closed as if in a trance. It’s difficult to say how much time passes as you listen. It probably isn’t more than a minute or two but it feels ten times longer. Kyouko does not let up. Her friend joins her. The din worsens but the contented look on both of their faces shows that they perhaps at not at loggerheads anymore. It’s difficult to determine.
“Let’s get out of here,” Komachi says, wincing as the two keep at it. You try to voice a protest but he shinigami ignores it as she grabs you by the hand. The stand, the grilled lamprey and the cacophony is left behind entirely. “How they call any of that music is anyone’s guess,” she says as you find your way back to the road.
“They’re passionate about it,” you say, “perhaps that’s all that matters.”
“Not to me!” Komachi laughs.
You sigh, “I wanted to see if they would make up or not. You shouldn’t have dragged me away.”
“Your smile says otherwise.”
“Maybe I’m a little bit glad, but I am also doing work here. That’s more important,” you tell her.
“Lady Shiki would have been harsher, I bet, so don’t worry about it,” she says before turning her attention to the road. It’s less dark than earlier, for whatever reason and there are lights visible in the distance. “We were closer to the village than we realized,” Komachi says, “come on, let’s get a drink, I’m thirsty after all that lamprey!”
Once again you find yourself being spirited away by your lively companion.
The village is a lively place even at night, with those who spent all day toiling in fields spending time socializing over food and drink. Lanterns are lit and hung outside shops, inviting all to come in and have a good time. You would have imagined that humans would be wary of a woman with a scythe drifting from shop to shop but you’re mostly ignored. The one person who does make a point of noticing is a drunk, cheered on by his equally pissed friends, who ambles up to Komachi and tries one of the worst pick-up lines you could have ever imagined on her. Laughs are had from the group of friends as the shinigami politely turns him down.
She takes your hand once again, as if to underscore that she’s not looking for affection from strangers.
“Sake?” she asks, having found a quiet place to drink, away from the bustle of the larger streets.
 Join her.  There’s still work to do.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2020/03/26 (Thu) 12:10
>The one person who does make a point of noticing is a drunk, cheered on by his equally pissed friends, who ambles up to Komachi and tries one of the worst pick-up lines you could have ever imagined on her
"You put the FUN in FUNeral" "Reaper? I hardly knew 'er!" "Are you here to s-lay me?"
[x] Join her.
Do want more Komachi. Also, what better place to find people who need advice than to the place you go to drown your sorrows?