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File 154761937043.png - (2.37MB, 1754x1240, the witch in the devil's mansion.png) [iqdb]
67429No. 67429
♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG4a4ittWVg
[紅の魂 ~ 赤より紅い夢 - 幻想少女大戦紅 オリジナルサウンドトラック (さんぼん堂)]

・-・・ --- ・・・- ・

Music Collection: https://mega.nz/#F!1BdBzIKZ!bhLzijfM3iyphpueDOKf0g

Histories of Yatsugatake, a Suika backstory short: >>>/shorts/2180
THREAD 1 >>65260
THREAD 2 >>65548
THREAD 3 >>65922
THREAD 4 >>66462
THREAD 5 >>66845
Expand all images
>>No. 67431
File 154880868867.jpg - (486.67KB, 800x426, the always noisy halls.jpg) [iqdb]
67431
[X] Leave Suika with Wakasagihime.


“Suika, I’m going back to Scarlet Devil Mansion. Would you mind waiting here while I go?”

“You’re gonna leave me with some slimy fish!?” she whined.

He looked on with a smile and some confusion. “You haven’t eaten each other,” he noted. To that, Suika made a grumbling sound. So did Wakasagihime.

“It’s a bad idea to let you in while Master Patchouli’s still in a mood,” he explained, gazing toward the Mansion again. He gave her his attention again, saying, “I’m leaving you for a little while to not start any trouble.”

“But trouble’s fun,” she told him with a grin.

“Not so fun is the punishment I’d receive for letting your fun through the gate,” he told her, turning away. He glanced at her once before taking off across the lake, waving and telling her, “... Later!”

Suika sat before Wakasagihime and watched him go while the mermaid waved goodbye to her friend. With that, the two seemed to stop arguing, and in short order idle talk began instead.


He brought his heel down to the sands before Hong Meiling, who lifted her head very suddenly to the sound. He shot her a glare. “You were sleeping again!” he chastised.

“S-Sir Gen... No, I...!” she answered him awkwardly, rubbing her right eye with the back of her hand. “I just closed my eyes!”

“Leave them open,” he told her with a frown. “What would the Mistress say?”

“Yes...” she replied, her head slightly bowed, “I will do better.”

His frown deepened and he shut one of his eyes, resting a hand on his hip. “I’m too new to Scarlet Devil Mansion to be the one chastising you.”

“Ah, to speak of chastising, Sir Gen,” Meiling whimsically changed the subject, pointing upward in announcement, “Lady Patchouli is angry with you!”

“Hehh... Seriously...?” he muttered, sweating a little at the thought.

“You should’ve told us you’d be staying outside of the Mansion. We figured you were dead,” explained the guard. Gen put his free hand on his other hip and cocked one of his eyebrows.

“She was angry with me even though she thought I’d died?”

Meiling yawned, waving off her breath while explaining: “She’s annoyed.” The youkai stood at ease, saying, “Please talk to her soon, Sir Gen.”

“Of course,” he replied, and he floated his way past the gate, hurrying to the front doors with the intent to go down to the basement quickly. Upon throwing them open, he paused due to seeing Sakuya blink into existence in the foyer. She addressed him immediately.

“Gen. Go to Kourindou later and find something curious for the Mistress. I’ve been meaning to but haven’t had the time.” She spun on the toe of her shoe, said, “Welcome back. Please see Lady Patchouli as soon as possible,” and vanished.

He couldn’t, and wouldn’t refuse her order, but he thought it was somewhat inconvenient. He wasn’t exactly sure where Kourindou was, let alone what sort of curiosity would pique his Mistress’s interest. While he was thinking, still at the door, his face caught a flying fairy maid, who grabbed around his head and threatened to topple him onto his rear.

“MMWHat!?” he exclaimed. From the scent, rather like the scent of an autumn morning, he determined in a muffled voice: “Merremia!?”

“I didn’t get to wake you up or sleep with you yesterday,” said his fairy, “I’m gonna sleep on you now, Sir Gen.” She squeezed his skull a bit tighter.

“Don’t, I’m doing something!” he shouted, but she was already at rest. Somewhat used to this, he sighed into the cloth of her uniform and put his hands under her thighs to start rotating her. He switched posture to pull her back around until she was settled, snoring, on his shoulders now in a way that let him at least see ahead. He felt exasperated, but held her drooling, unconscious form firm to him regardless. The foolish fairy felt like family to him at this point, and he didn’t even consider being angry with her.

He took a cautious step forward, expecting a different resident (or flock of residents, as the case may be) to stop him, but finding none. So he walked undeterred through the bleak antechamber and toward the basement stairs, keeping Merremia steady and hoping her spit would not ruin his hat.

That reminds me, he noted while descending beside flickering torchlight, watching orange streams and shards dance upon the steps, I need to get my coat back. Taking it off for the Village was pointless, huh? He looked down at his vest, recalling when he’d received it. Once entirely in the stone-halled basement, he felt a pang of guilt. He didn’t have to report in every day. He didn’t have to do anything, despite recognizing another person... at least three people, in fact... as “masters”. The nagging sensation he’d felt before accepting Suika’s midnight invitation loomed again at the edge of his awareness.

He pushed it away.

He looked down the hallway, pondering, Is Mistress Flandre in her room? He turned his attention to the great doors of the library, huffed, and moved to get them opened.

It wasn’t that he already missed the library—he’d been here just yesterday, but he realized that the old odor of its almost infinite catalog of books was calming his nerves with ease. As he pushed the right door forward, gripping Merremia’s thigh to keep her stable, and the smell of the library – the rush of mostly stagnant air displaced from a difference in temperature – blew around him, his apprehension and worry started to fade. It only started, and it wouldn’t finish. It did a little for his confidence, but he had to face his Master.

“Master...” he called out, moving into the library, flanked by shelf-towers and walls, “I’ve returned, alive.”

She didn’t answer him, so he kept on, assuming he would run into her instead—as was a fairly typical pattern. He did, not long after coming inside.

His Master was lounging on a scarlet-colored couch to his right and ahead from where he entered the area. Her legs were extended across it as she – of course – paged through a book. Her eyes laboriously moved from the text to his face, where they held their gaze in silence for a solid, rather noticeable number of seconds. Her first word after letting him stew was simply, unemotionally, “Gen.”

He nodded.

“I see,” she continued, unblinking, “you’re alive, hm.”

“I-I’m sorry I did not return last night,” the boy stammered. “I—”

“Are you aware of why I’d be angry about this?” asked his Master, blank-faced as ever. He swallowed, and answered her seriously.

“I don’t have that freedom,” he told her, echoing the truth his Mistress had given him the day he was introduced to Gensokyo. “I can’t pretend that I do.”

Patchouli swung her legs to put her feet near the floor, sitting up and putting her book down, slouching forward. “That isn’t the only reason,” she told him, speaking somewhat hoarsely. “In fact, I thought it over, Gen, and if it even is a reason, it’s a negligible reason. We can rule it out: no count on however free or not free you are.”

He stood still and listened. She explained.

“Of the facts relevant, the most important is that you are not only summarized in two words: ‘my student’. You are, in one word, ‘mine’.

“Yes, that means you have no freedom,” she said, her eyes steady, “but the overarching truth to this is that you are something I value. I do not want you to reflect on me poorly by dying stupidly out in the wild, and I do not want you worrying me by possibly dying at all.”

He drew his eyebrows together, feeling confused. She lowered her gaze, and continued to speak without tone.

“You’ve been good lately. Don’t concern me by playing ignorant with one of my foundational warnings.” Patchouli Knowledge stared into his eyes again and he straightened his back, feeling a prickling crawl up his forearm. “The night is dark,” she spoke smoothly, with a threat cold on her tongue, “and it belongs to dark creatures. It will never be humanity’s place.”

It had been quite a long time since last, but Itou Gen found that he was once more fearful of his Master.

He didn’t know what to say to her. He had a justification, but not one he wanted to admit to Patchouli Knowledge, and especially not at that juncture. He felt he hadn’t forgone her teachings, but telling why would leave him compromised. He had left his life in the hands of an oni and slept overnight at the foot of the Mountain (on a full moon—a youkai’s night, no less). He could explain every facet to the context of that reality, but he was sure she would hear only the reality: that he had knowingly put himself at the second greatest risk (and this was after he had put himself at the first when he’d dabbled with the Rauðskinna). He felt like right behind him, at his heels, was a yawning, bottomless, pit to doom.

He swallowed again, unable to break his gaze from her eyes, and something struck him as odd.

What struck him as odd was that more than scared of the witch’s potential malice, he was upset that he hadn’t met his Master equally. Not four days ago he had accepted that he had a strong love for his Master. Why, then, had he underplayed his worth in her eyes again?

When he’d nearly perished from producing a gift for Remilia and Flandre Scarlet...

When she’d taken up arms to defend his right to life against Kazami Yuuka...

When he’d returned after resolving the Spring Snow Incident...

There were many times he remembered that Patchouli had surprised him with concern, care, and even affection. Had he been surprised because she said caustic things? Because she wore a face that often told nothing?

Why hadn’t he realized this? In gesture and act, Patchouli Knowledge showed in many ways that she loved her apprentice as much as the apprentice loved his master. Was she not the same way with the Scarlet Devil...?

So now, although he felt worried for his life, he more majorly felt regret and fast-diminishing self-worth. He knew he had betrayed the one who mattered most to him within this hidden world.

... However...

He couldn’t regret it all, and he swore inside his mind; cursing that this was simply not simple.

“Master Patchouli...” he finally spoke, managing to tear his eyes from hers to stare at the blood-carpet below them. His chest was thumping into his throat, and cold ran down his skin. He opened his mouth, and felt a vibration through his teeth. The words he had to say, he had to drag them heavy from his heart, and so out they came weakly, but in absolute honesty, “... I am sorry.”

Without begging for anything, he expressed how he truly felt.

“... I didn’t tell you to always come back to me,” Patchouli said. He continued to gaze into the red before his feet. “And I didn’t think you made a mistake.”

His brow relaxed and his tension went away instantly, leaving him feeling pale, and in a daze.

“You came back safely, which tells me that whatever you did last night, you did within reason. I maintain that I have taught a good student, one who listens to me well.” Gen brought his head up with a jerk, jostling the fairy on his shoulders awake. His brow contorted in befuddlement, and there was a heat in his eyes. “I don’t need to know what it is you did...

“Thank you for returning unscathed. Please do not worry me any more. Welcome back, Gen.”

“Don’t cry, Sir Gen,” he heard Merremia’s voice, feeling her hands atop his head. He forced a smile to his lips, exhaling a shaking breath from his nose and mouth and saying:

“I haven’t cried yet.”

“Do you have anything to tell me about your discoveries or findings so far?” Patchouli asked, as if nothing prior had taken place. He hid his eyes behind the back of his hand before answering.

“N-No, I... I’m still working on your request, Master.”

“You should take care if you’re seeking things out at night that although the moon is a source of youkais’ power, it can be used just as well against them. Don’t fear it, or become narrow-minded about neglecting it.”

“Yes, I know that...” he replied, sniffing once, and keeping himself together. Merremia rubbed his head.

“And if you’re sleeping under the sky, don’t put too much faith in wards and barriers like some kind of idiot. That can just as easily be a beacon, and a shield is no use against quite a number of evil spirits.”

“Right...”

“Are you listening?” she asked.

“I always listen to you,” he answered, lowering his hand and revealing unreddened eyes, having successfully held back a wave of burning, twisted, sentiment. He told Patchouli Knowledge, “Master, I hope that I can always be someone you’re proud of.”

“... The record shows,” she said lightly, and she opened the book on her lap again. “If you’d like to read or research, do as you like. I’ll be waiting for the completion of your task. Be careful, be mindful, boy-Gen.” She turned a page.

“Please excuse me, Master Patchouli,” he announced formally, and bowed before turning to take his leave. Patchouli did not acknowledge this, and kept at her book.

As he listened to his soft footfalls on the scarlet field below, Merremia told her human, “You’re a real crybaby, Sir Gen.”

“There are things I don’t deserve, Merremia,” he explained. “And it just so happens, I often feel like it’s ‘every’ thing.”

“Hmm...” she moaned, swaying slightly while still seated on him, “I don’t get it.”

“You can’t,” he said with a chuckle. “Just... Lady Patchouli is a better person than she’d ever let on.”

“What?”

“She’s a good girl,” he said simply. “I love her.”

Merremia breathed in sharply and he heard her wings beating rapidly. He looked up at the library’s doors, laughed through his nose and said, “Not like that.”

“No! Noo! Don’t you know what ‘love’ means, Sir Gen!?” the maid cried, gripping at the hair underneath his hat. He smiled easily now while he pushed the door open.

“No, please tell me.”

“Love is—!”

And she explained her fairy view of romance.

He couldn’t tell his Master what he had done the night before, or more importantly the circumstances behind his choice... he’d say that in time. He was not resolute or settled in his decision: regret still crept at his mind and core. However, he knew now that the faith he had in his Master, his Master readily reciprocated in him. He only needed to prove that her faith was worth it. Patchouli believed he was a mature enough magician to truly handle himself, even in the dark. He had to do everything to make that sure, and he was eager to rise to the challenge.


Before he left to complete Sakuya’s errand...
He felt like easing his mind, just a little more, through the company of at least one of the two sisters. Selfish though that may be...

Which did he seek out?


[] Remilia.

[] Flandre.
>>No. 67432
[x] Remilia.

The hardest decision of this quest so far
>>No. 67433
[x] Flandre.

Easy choice
>>No. 67434
[x] Flandre.
>>No. 67435
[X] Remilia.

May as well kill two birds with one stone and ask her if she had anything specific in mind.
>>No. 67436
[x] Remilia.
>>No. 67437
[x] Remilia.
>>No. 67438
[x] Remilia.
>>No. 67439
[x] Flandre.
>>No. 67440
[x] Flandre.

She's super observant, so she would probably be the better of the two to ask about what would be an interesting curiosity to Remilia.
>>No. 67441
[x] Flandre.
>>No. 67442
File 154889222580.jpg - (54.32KB, 415x311, 1293452337447.jpg) [iqdb]
67442
(X) Flandre.

Given the choice, a Magician's Apprentice will always gravitate toward the blond loli. QED.
>>No. 67443
[x] Remilia.
>>No. 67444
[x] Remilia
>>No. 67445
[x] Flandre.

The most ancient popularity contest of vampire lolis begins anew.
>>No. 67446
[x] Remilia
>>No. 67447
[X] Flandr
>>No. 67448
[X]Frandoll

>>67445
At least he didn't invoke the forbidden popularity contest.
>>No. 67450
[x] Remilia

The votes are now perfectly balanced (as all things should be).
>>No. 67451
[X] Flandre.

I'll vote for the opposite of what the tiefag voted for.
>>No. 67452
[x] Rumia

Ok, [x] Flandre
We'll probably be seeing the other sister after Kourindu
>>No. 67453
File 155037790223.jpg - (392.33KB, 718x723, canon sass.jpg) [iqdb]
67453
Sheesh. Lots of votes. Thanks, even to the cheeky "making it a tie or not" voters.

Image is safe for work, just a surprise box. Sorry for the delay. Slowly but surely I earn more free time.

++++++++

[X] Flandre.


After shooing away his morning fairy, Gen began making his way toward the younger mistress’s room. He wanted a bit of relaxation from the company of one of the sisters... They were often entertaining to be around, and it had been a few days since he’d sat down with either specifically. When he reached her door, he knocked on it and announced, “Mistress Flandre? Are you there?”

He opened it, finding the room seemingly tossed inside (which was the norm), and the little sister absent (which was also the norm).

He left her chambers to find and ask the maids if they’d seen her in the halls somewhere and was surprised to learn that today was a rare case: Flandre was with her sister.

“Really?” he asked the fairy who had revealed this information. The little blue-haired fay nodded.

“They’re hanging out together,” she explained. She told him, “You should go make sure they don’t start beating each other up, Sir Gen. I’m not gonna. I’d get killed!”

Eehh... It’s not like I have much better chances, andI don’t even get to revive...

Hmph. It’s probably fine. They’re not
always at one another’s throats.

“Will do. Thanks,” he answered. “Get back to work.”

“Roger!” she exclaimed with a salute, and then she returned to dusting painting frames.

The sisters were in one of the studies on the second floor. He traveled more windowless halls and grandiose staircases on the way, noting that it wasn’t particularly quiet today. The mansion tended to only really be loud at night. He wondered if Suika’s closeness to his home at the moment might have been exciting the fairies. The presence of powerful youkai usually led to that.

As he came toward his destination, he began to hear a pair of familiar voices muffled behind a door. They didn’t sound aggravated... The voices seemed quite casual, in fact.

He entered the room.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=4RC2hrMFIMQ ]
[Acoustic Image - TOHO BOSSA NOVA 2 (ShibayanRecords)]

“Because they were brothers, Flandre.”

“He killed the dog, Elder Sister! He killed Danny!”

“I’m aware, Flan.”

They’re... talking aboutJoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? he gathered as he stepped inside the room.

It was a chamber with an open-air balcony and some cupboards for chinaware: the sort of place his Mistress often liked to find herself in. The sisters were seated at a circular, thin, and white tea table with an elaborate metalwork base crafted to resemble spiraling roses. Remilia’s posture was leaned back, but composed. Flandre looked like she was ready to stand in anger.

“If you did that to my dog, I’d never forgive you, Elder Sister,” said the blond.

The blue-haired sister looked a touch exasperated. “We don’t have a dog. Though, if I ever did something like that, I wouldn’t expect your forgiveness.”

“You wouldn’t get it!” the younger sister insisted. “Why did Jonathan!?”

“‘Forgiveness’, well... Putting aside whether or not he truly forgave his brother in the end, he was simply a gentleman. Though he could fight, he always wanted an amicable, jovial relationship with everyone. He wished for a peaceful life.”

“Peace is for losers,” Flandre said. She declared (almost hopping with emphasis, which made the crystals on her wings waver a bit wildly), “It’s cooler to mess everything up! You agree with me at least for that, right? You.”

“Use respect... I only mostly agree. Dio certainly did have more charisma.”

“That’s right, huh... He was bad, but fun too... Oh? Gen. The heck are you doing here?”

Having finally been addressed by one of the two, Gen ceased twiddling his thumbs and bowed. “Mistresses. Sorry for interrupting.”

Remilia smirked. After taking a sip from her teacup she asked, “My, who is it that you came to see?”

He squinted, knowing the truth or its opposite as an answer would, in either case, cause trouble. From the look in her eye, he could already tell that Mistress Remilia had wagered he hadn’t come to see them both... and the fairies could corroborate that.

He decided to answer truthfully, “Mistress Flandre.”

Remilia’s expression soured. Flandre looked at it, her expression now twisted and teasing. Seeing this, Remilia snapped, “Don’t look at me like that!”

“Like what, El-der Sis-ter?” Flandre asked, looking, of course, entirely smug. She pointed at her face with both hands. “Like this? With a face of someone superior?”

“It’s a face of someone who’s about to get thrown,” the older sibling threatened.

Gen interjected, saying, “I wanted to see one of the two of you before I left the Mansion again, and decided to see Mistress Flandre since I don’t tend to bother her with my company as much as I do with you, Mistress.”

“Smooth!” the elder vampire exclaimed, her eyes severe.

“Don’t make excuses, Gen; you can say I’m the better sister. It’s fine,” Flandre assured him with a voice full of sympathy. She had her elbow on the table now, her cheek on the heel of her palm. “Well, you found me,” she spoke breathily. “What happens now?”

I’d thought about asking her what Mistress Remilia might be interested in from Kourindou, but... he thought to himself, eyes drifting to the somewhat bothered older sister. “I was going to go back out shortly. Would you like me to find anything out in Gensokyo?”

“Find a leprechaun,” Flandre said.

“... Are those here?” he asked seriously.

“How should I know?” she asked, pouting more than Remilia now. She stretched out across the table, making her sister narrow her eyes and frown rather deeply. Turning her head she told him, “I don’t know, Gen. If there was something out there, wouldn’t I go get it on my own?”

“... Would you?” he asked, again seriously.

“I would!” she shouted. While Remilia shook her head.

“I’ll challenge myself to spark your interest then, Mistress Flandre,” he announced with a bow. Looking up he changed the subject, “That aside: JoJo, Mistresses?”

“You already know I read that,” Remilia told him. Flandre began to lightly flap her wings as the Mistress continued, “Flandre decided to read Phantom Blood, and was discussing it with me.”

He straightened up, asking Flandre, “How did you find it aside from the animal cruelty?”

“The frog punch was cool,” she said.

He nodded. It was.

“But I could’ve destroyed that rock without even touching the frog!” she boasted, grinning.

Remilia sighed, afterward saying, “Of course you could.” Flandre shot her a glare.

“Do you have any other manga to read out ahead of you, Mistress Flandre? Or are you going to shift your interests again?”

She shrugged. “Who knows?”

Remilia hissed in an angry whisper, “Get off the table already!”

“You should join Miss Meiling and I for tai chi in the mornings!” he declared enthusiastically.

“Hahh?” Flandre grunted. He lost enthusiasm.

“We vampires have no need for exercise,” said Remilia calmly. Next, showing a fang in her smile, she explained, “Unlike physically lesser youkai such as Patche, our bodies are made of strong stuff. In fact, we’re the most powerful beings imaginable.”

“Pffff.”

That had been Flandre. Remilia’s smile stiffened.

While looking at her sister and kicking her legs slowly, Flandre asked, “Didn’t you get beaten down by an old lady only last week?”

“I did no such thing,” Remilia replied, squinting at Flandre again.

“You did, you did,” she insisted, though playfully.

“I didn’t and you’ve got no proof!” With a raised voice and flared wings, Remilia Scarlet settled the matter. Flandre Scarlet puffed laughter out of closed lips.

He wagered they were talking about Miss Suika, who he recalled had mentioned in passing that she’d met Remilia and thought of her as a “scaredy-cat”. Much as he respected his Mistress’s strength, having witnessed Suika’s firsthand he was quite sure Flandre’s call had been right. Not that he’d ever call Suika an old woman, even with her gruff and somewhat old manner of speech.

This wasn’t something he could ask Remilia about, at any rate.

“Mistress Remilia is incredible,” he said truthfully, “I’m sure she’s being honest, Mistress Flandre,” he lied.

“You’re lying,” said the younger sister. Remilia, whether she believed his words or not, was happy that he hadn’t delivered them mockingly, and was blushing now with her eyes closed and a smile on her face. He did believe this: if her opponent hadn’t been an oni, there were none likely to really give his Mistress a run for her money. Miss Reimu could due to Gensokyo’s rules of engagement but that was all.

... Oh, he recalled, and whoever it is antagonizing Mokou, sis, in the Bamboo Forest. They’re supposed to be trouble.

On second thought, there may have been quite a few. But, that didn’t matter! He had faith in the Scarlet Devil’s power!

“You look like you just went through a buncha leaps in logic in your head, Gen,” Flandre said, still fully locked in to “sass”. “Don’t worry, this girl is always building herself up way taller than she actually is. I mean, look at her! Midget.”

“You’re the same height as me!” Remilia snarled.

“And you’re five years older than me... How sad...” spoke a pitying Flandre, still sprawled out across the table. He saw the cup in Remilia’s hand trembling.

“I’m going to go get Sakuya.”

“Get off the table!” Remilia yelled, standing from her chair. Flandre cackled, her wings flapping delightfully. He stepped out of the room, closing it as he saw a red spear of energy manifest in his Mistress’s hand. This had been a critical failure. He had to find the Head Maid to make sure the two of them kept things civil. If they destroyed parts of the Mansion while the Sun was still up, that would be very bad. He hurried down the halls and stairs and flew fast toward the kitchen, hoping to find his human peer there, who might defuse the lit bomb between Scarlet Sisters.

~~

He stepped into the Mansion’s gardens.

After talking to Sakuya, he outfitted himself completely once again, and so now stood under the Sun in his dark, but airy robes. The maid had gone to keep peace, and though the two’s fighting had already gotten intense enough that he could hear it outside, he was sure Sakuya could handle it.

What should I pick up for her...? he wondered as he rose into the air, thinking of Remilia. Something that’d amuse her and take her mind off of her sister’s bratty behavior, hm...? Huhm... I wonder if I can find a Rubik's Cube there... Oh! Or maybe one of those... What are they? They’re like, boxes of smooth metal pins... You can put an imprint of your hand or face in it... Those are cool.

Supposedly Kourindou had quite the supply of curated Outside World items. It would be better for finding something than his going to Muenzuka, perhaps. That, and surely Miss Sakuya would prefer that he not dig around in garbage for The Mistress’s gift.

He started to descend when he spotted Suika and Wakasagihime where he had parted from them.

“I’m back!” he told them enthusiastically.

“Hey,” answered Suika with a smile. Wakasagihime waved as her greeting. He noticed at once from Suika’s slouched back and The Princess’s usual shore-resting posture that these two, at least, had worked out their differences.

“We just heard something going BANG, BANG coming from the Mansion. Was there a fight?” Suika asked. He nodded, and Wakasagihime sighed.

“Why do so many youkai fight all the time...” she lamented.

“It’s in most of our blood,” said Suika, thumping her chest while looking at the mermaid. She pointed at the younger woman and observed, “Can’t you fight, too? It’s weak, but, I can feel some kinda power coming from you.”

“You end up having to fight here and there in Gensokyo... I wish it wasn’t like that,” she answered.

“Where’d that fire in your heart go, mermaid!? Did the Lake drown it!?” complained the oni. Wakasagihime shook her head.

“I just ended up feeling easy around you, Madame Suika.”

“Just call me ‘Suika’...” the older girl replied, plainly bothered by the honorific use. Gen smiled and pushed up one of his brows to observe that. She found his use of a similar term adorable, after all.

“Do you mind if I get going, Princess? I have a new assignment from Sakuya,” he said to his friend, who shook her head lightly.

“Go ahead. Just be careful the oni doesn’t rip off one of your arms by accident.”

“I... I won’t do that!” snapped the oni in question. Wakasagihime only gave her a look, centered around a smirk.

“See you soon, Gen!” said the girl, turning from the shore and waving once again. He waved back with chipper gusto, then looked at Suika as she stood up.

“So you two hit it off?” he asked.

“I can hit it off with anyone!” she yelled, more “honest” than boasting. He knew that wasn’t true, and when she saw the look on his face she grumbled and turned her eyes away.

“I’ve got to go to the shop just outside the Forest, but not quite near the village. You know it?”

“Yeah, a pathetic guy lives there.”

“I can’t speak for that, but that’s where I need to be. I don’t feel like flying there. Shall we walk?”

“Y-Yeah! I can spend more time with you that way!”

Whoa, he thought as his heart tightened. He put a hand over his chest and gripped.

“Th-Then—” he spoke abruptly, “let’s –


[] go through the Forest.”

[] take the long way around to the store.”
>>No. 67454
[x] go through the Forest.”

(insert Jojo reference here).
>>No. 67455
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

Just to spend a bit more time with her.
>>No. 67456
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

HNNNNNG
>>No. 67457
[x] take the long way around to the store.”
>>No. 67458
[x] go through the Forest.”
>>No. 67459
[x] take the long way around to the store.”
>>No. 67460
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

Suika a cute
>>No. 67461
[x] take the long way around to the store.”

Jojo references get me in the mood for long, drawn out journeys that are more indirect than necessary.
>>No. 67463
File 155237008784.png - (772.22KB, 840x679, 94fd1865178d04ab850564f41a89d628.png) [iqdb]
67463
Sup duders.

Firstly a self-shill. My first totally completed story, Make a fist., has been completed over here >>/underground/16139 Please give it a read! Not only is it my first completed CYOA, it's what I consider to be my first full long story ever written and finished.

Other than that status report: finally finished reading CoLA in its (translated) entirety, so now I feel comfortable writing for Rinnosuke. Updates SOON.
>>No. 67464
Thanks for the update. I'm looking forward to more watermelon content.
>>No. 67465
File 155284147975.jpg - (328.92KB, 704x686, remorseless assaulter.jpg) [iqdb]
67465
Here we go. Long one.

image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/268601

++++++++

[X] take the long way around to the store.”

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=4RC2hrMFIMQ ]
[妖精のいる風景 - 東方アイリッシュ8 妖精奇譚 (Floating Cloud)]

With a nervous laugh and a coquettish smile, Ibuki Suika made the astute observation: “Ahaha... You want to spend more time with me, too.”

“Of course I do,” he answered with a half grin and a reddened face. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, turned, and began to walk the dirt road alongside the Forest. Suika trotted just behind him, watching him with a blush on her face as well—until the smile on her lips pushed up her cheeks and she sprang ahead to tug down and hug onto his arm, squeezing rather intensely. He allowed it, but worried the oni might shatter the bones within.

~~

The afternoon was nearing its last hours, and the atmosphere made that much known through a change in the air that was now just barely, but clearly, tinged with a chill. The Sun was still high and the day was bright. The emerald and wild forest flitted and churned with life. Beside it, he walked a path he had become very accustomed to, feeling very much like this was all rather new. He found himself asking Suika about things as they went along – things he hadn’t noticed prior and things he’d noticed before but hadn’t much cared about.

Mostly, he did it just to hear her voice.

“Do you know if these trees are the same as when you were last in Gensokyo?”

That seemed to be the only reason.

“Oh, yeah. I think there’re a lot now that’re younger, and I get the feeling they got brought in somewhen along the way, but for the most part it’s the same forest it always was.”

“What about the forest on Youkai Mountain?”

“That’s totally the same!”

Whenever she gave a shout, he noticed that he was smiling. To her latest, he chuckled and pondered aloud:

“I wonder what that’s about...”

“It’s not that nothing can get added to it, but humans don’t really know about the Mountain.”

“Eh? What?”

“Since the humans in Gensokyo don’t have much of an idea about Yatsugatake aside from ‘it’s scary!’, they don’t assume much about it. Like that, the only ones who can change anything on it are the youkai living there... and most youkai don’t like any change... Yeah.”

“I figured something could slip through the barrier and onto the mountain, though.”

“Mm, well, that’s why I said it could still happen.” She put herself a bit closer to him. “Just not something I could see happenin’ on its own.”

“Hm, now that you’re mentioning it... See that moss over there?”

He pointed at a segment of bluish-green growth on a great oak nearby.

“What about it?”

“It grows on the south side of trees.”

“Hah? First I heard a’ that.”

“Master says that, from what she can tell, the fairies here were tricking the sense of direction of travelers enough that a kind of ‘fool’s moss’ evolved or... well, it was partly an evolution, and partly a total farce.”

“Blasted fairies.”

He knew about it as a curiosity, a warning.

“I’ve thought offhand before, that if fairies are just aspects of nature, then it’s strange they could change nature itself. The reason moss grows on the north side of trees isn’t as a guide. It’s since we’re on the top part of the world, so that part of the tree gets the most light. It’s the opposite in the bottom part, by the way.”

“Hehh...”

“But, like with the Bamboo Forest and the Lake, in Gensokyo, humans’ ideas can definitely make parts of nature supernatural.” He paused for a moment, thinking about that. “And that’s kind of neat, but also a bit terrifying.”

“Scary, huh...” Suika seemed to consider the idea. “That humans can dictate the life of somethin’ supernatural? Mm. Well. That’s...”

She stopped herself. The way she did it was something he was beginning to recognize as sort of... patterned behavior. Put simply, Suika had a tendency to retreat inside herself when something (about her past, he wagered) was brought back into the forefront of her mind that had, perhaps, once bothered her deeply.

With the consideration that she didn’t follow every standard of an “oni” in mind, he neared in his thoughts a troubling realization: one too troubling for the mood.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve got faith in you.”

“Hah? ‘Faith’...” she grumbled, becoming a bit gentler with her hold on him. “I’m the one that proved what an oni really is,” Suika told him firmly. “You’re the one that shouldn’t worry, Gen. That story is as old as it’s over, and any of my hang-ups from the time along with it.”

So youdid remember something... he thought.

Despite how close he’d gotten to Suika in really a handful of days, he understood that there was a lot to know about her, and that, in her surely long life, there had to have been many moments that weren’t all joy and revelry. The mere fact that her race had abandoned this world for another one told him much about his oni companion. She’d even suggested that she wanted him to help her... help her with something that she thought was impossible even for herself.

So, he wanted to make sure he knew whatever he could about Ibuki Suika. He noticed all sorts of things in all sorts of places now because they were opportunities to grow his knowledge on the ancient oni. Even if he was talking about stones and pebbles, he felt he could round that into learning more about her. The more he knew, the more he could potentially help...

“Have you ever eaten any mushrooms from the forest? Master says to not put anything I find on a branch or the ground in my mouth before she checks it first.”

And, the more he knew, the more he liked her.

“Course I have. What’re you saying? You never had any morels straight from the ground?”

“Raw? You’re... supposed to cook those first.”

“Human stomachs! Weak! Let’s go foraging right now!”

“No.”

Suika, with no secondary motivations for learning more about Gen in mind, only probed him in return for that one reversed reason: her like of him.

She asked: “When were you born!?”

And then: “Do you like that color so much, or is it just ‘cause of Patchouli?”

“Hey, hey, where were you born?”
“Chiba!? Where’s that!?”
“If you’re not eating outta the forests, what do you eat!?”
“Umm... Can you cook?”
“Wha—! ‘Stop talkin’ about food’!? It isn’t my fault you didn’t eat at your mansion!!”
“Hey, hey, you ever gone hunting? ... Don’t roll your eyes!!”
“We should go hunting some time! Hohh, or fishing! Let’s fish out that mermaid, okay!? Have you gone fishing before!?”

She asked a lot of simple questions, and she was much more direct than he was. He found that he was almost embarrassed at having someone this concerned over him. Prior to entering Gensokyo, he didn’t find himself to be all that interesting. Of course, that didn’t matter.

Like Gen wanted to be an expert on Suika, Suika wanted to be an expert on Gen. He wasn’t truly aware of this, and nor was she of his intentions. With some observation and awareness, the two of them would have likely stopped on their way in order to dwell in shame for a while. Without it, they continued their frivolous back and forth: Gen being roundabout, and Suika being straight – but both unconsciously playing a truly saccharine game. It would have made Patchouli sick to her stomach.

Like that, they went on.

Every so often, a youkai from the forest would stop to watch, consider the human of the pair, and promptly reconsider upon witnessing the horn pressed broad into his back. Suika wasn’t doing anything consciously to protect him; he simply had the fortune of her figure being so quickly recognizable.

It was thus a trip without complication or hindrance. After they’d taken to strolling quietly for a bit of time, being sufficiently at ease, Suika became compelled to sing. Gen listened with pleasure to her song of oni, sang with repetition and the subdued (but distinct) influence of bluster and zeal.

On~ days of su~n
The good oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of moo~n
The great oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of fi~re
The strong oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of wa~ter
The wise oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of woo~d
The tough oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of go~ld
The swift oni alone~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On~ days of ear~th~
Oni young and old~ surely ought to know~ that a cup of sake goes~ down very well.

On those days forlorn and gray, on those days blissful and bright,
Any oni knows~ that very well.


Suika finished, crooning giddy. With her song done, she looked at Gen expectantly, almost hopping in place.

“Wait,” he said, cocking an eyebrow and bringing up one side of his mouth, “so ‘every day’ is a drinking day?”

“What else?” was her cool answer. She bared her fangs in a grin. “So?” she asked. “Wanna drink?”

He wanted to hear her sing more. Her singing voice was a bit scratchy, full, and layered with something like... a whole belief in her words. It sounded old, and calming; sort of like a grandmother singing to her grandchildren...

But he’d never tell her that. Also, he didn’t want to drink.

“From your gourd? How’s this? ‘Any human knows not to drink sake before the evening.’”

“Tchhehh...” was Suika’s miserable response, before she took her own offer and gulped from her infinite supply. She swallowed several times before turning her bleary eyes on him, pointing at her tongue, and asking, “How about if you use this as a cup? Eh?”

Gen frowned, telling her, “You’re a pervert, Miss Suika.”

“Eh, that’s not a no? You would?”

Of course I would, he thought to himself with his eyes shut and brow furrowed, struggling to not imagine taking the oni up on her offer. He felt her pressing into him even more than she had been and, squinting, saw that she now had her gaze square on his lower body.

She lifted her left hand and began to move it toward him.

“Hey!” he snapped, lifting his right and almost growling. “You’re incorrigible! Give it a rest!

He pushed down on her head; she pushed her hand against the front of his trousers.

Gen leapt out of her hold, turning to fly backward and away from the girl. “Is it always going to be like this whenever I’m close to you!?” he yelled.

In response, a rosy-cheeked Suika put the pads of her fingers over her lips, puffed with laughter, and told him, “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that?”

She pointed where he expected she’d point. As he gritted his teeth, his face felt on fire.

“Geeen... I can give you a hand! Or a tongue! Or, whatever!” she shouted, jumping toward him. The lad gripped his belt with both hands, turned his pale face forward again, and took off hoping the oni would not tackle him.

I suppose this is retribution, he thought, recalling his provocation in the skies from earlier. But I was only teasing...! If she even gets a hold of one of my pant legs...

Concerned about public indecency, Itou Gen fled from the pursuing youkai, prepared to strike her single-minded head down if necessary.

========

Curious about the song? The tune of Which Oni Knows to Drink Sake?, I imagine, is this: https://onlinesequencer.net/1074098 (repeats 3 times before the conclusion rather than 7, because otherwise it'd be annoying!)
I think that repeats automatically. Close that tab, dude!

The lyrics are these, according to my struggling understanding of Japanese:

日の日に
「いいな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
月の日に
「素敵な鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
火の日に
「強いな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
水の日に
「賢いな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
木の日に
「逞しいな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
金の日に
「速いな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
土の日に
「老いも若きな鬼」は酒を飲むことを知っている。
悲しいの日とも、嬉しいの日とも、
「どんな鬼」が知っている。

I made it up. To roughly fit meter, the translation into English is VERY loose. In Japanese, it's basically:


X no hi ni~
"Y oni" wa~ sake o~ nomukoto o~ shitteiru.

...

Kanashii no hi tomo, ureshii no hi tomo
"donna oni" ga shitteiru.

translated
On days of X
"The Y oni" knows to drink sake.

...

On sad days, or on happy days,
"Any oni" knows.


========
>>No. 67469
File 155284281548.jpg - (388.75KB, 1240x1754, Rinnosuke.jpg) [iqdb]
67469
~~

Morichika Rinnosuke sat in his store (it was a store, he insisted), considering closing early for the day. It was perhaps four of five in the afternoon-going-on-evening, the clocks in his store (he insisted) were all misaligned, but vaguely within the same hour or two. Regardless, it was business as usual, and he’d reached a fairly good part in the book he was reading. It would be a shame if he had a customer’s arrival spoil that. He’d have to greet them, see to their needs... He thought to put out a sign.

“Mm, let’s do that,” he muttered to himself. He stood up, putting his book face-down on the counter and stepping back to begin navigating his network of goods to reach the main area of his store.

The alleged store, Kourindou, was at first glance, and any subsequent, upon a cursory look-over and closer evaluation, even upon the most thorough scrutiny... a nightmare of items, of all shapes and sizes. It was the home of, seemingly, the proverbial collector bird that was compelled to gather anything that shined (or really, as was clear in the somewhat small confines of the place: anything “novel”). It was the nest of, apparently, a rodent with a similar habit. Were an outsider to walk inside, they would recognize perhaps seventy-five percent of the items as familiar but... old. Kourindou was a store of artifacts, and its proprietor gathered these artifacts (from within and without Gensokyo) with complete zeal. He had a reason, an open one which he advertised, but the establishment maintained a reputation of not being much of a business but more of a... kind of house of curiosities, where one could bother the owner for tea or free, strange items.

It maintained that reputation because the owner, contrary to his protests, often maintained it.

“It’s fine to close up now,” he continued to monologue, “because there were so many parties over this past month. Surely no one in Gensokyo wants to see any more of anyone else after all of that. I’ve certainly had more than enough.”

He made his way to the counter’s end and started to squeeze past a large urn, pausing for a moment as dust tickled his nose and threatened a sneeze.

I’m better than this, he thought, holding back a sneeze and keeping stable with both hands on the pot. He glanced over his wares: the computers, the monitors, the totems, the staffs and glass bottles, the keyboards, the broken instruments, the tools of his own formation... all layered, almost, with a level of dead mites comparable to a fraying, vast blanket.

... Shall I dust tonight?

The entire building shook, and there was an explosive sound just outside his door. On some shelves to his right, porcelain statues threatened to rattle their ways off. He felt his blood drain and thought to move, only to realize the porcelain urn before him was beginning to fall toward the ground.

No! he thought, and he reached to grab at its top and around its side. Sweat on his cheek, panicked, Rinnosuke slowly breathed out through his nose and carefully stood the pottery back up while also putting himself onto his store’s main floor. Kneeling, he told himself that he shouldn’t be so panicked by sudden sounds: this was Gensokyo, and ever since Reimu had instated new rules of battle within it, sounds of fighting had actually become more frequent. His jumping and flinching from the perhaps-danmaku battle outside had nearly cost him a three-hundred year old container of sacred ashes.

That was... assuming the noises outside were danmaku. He could imagine there being exceptions. Standing straight, attempting to steel himself, Rinnosuke slowly, calmly, made his way to his entrance. He pulled the door ajar, and as the bell above jingled its usual sound of entrance or exit, he peaked through the resulting crack to witness the... somewhat expected.

Outside of his (make no mistake) shop was a magician with garb he thought was somewhat familiar, stood with his legs apart, one hand grasping and pulling up on his belt, and his other hand pointing down at what had to be a youkai. There was a little girl with horns below him, grasping at the end of his pants with her eyes shut in pain. A pillar of stone was pressed down on her head, towering well above Kourindou’s height, and perhaps two arm spans wide.

The magician spoke.

“Wait until tonight!” he yelled. “You can do that, can’t you!?”

“Nngh... augh...” the other youkai moaned. Squinting, Rinnosuke realized that she, too, looked rather familiar. He thought back on why that might be, holding his chin while the girl continued to hold the young man’s pants.

The young man growled, shook his head, and knelt before the other youkai. He reached toward her left cheek, looking rather annoyed. “Here,” he said (and at this point, the youkai opened her eyes), “this is what you want, right?”

Rinnosuke slammed his fist down onto his palm. “Ibuki-douji!” he said in a hushed voice. “I’ve seen those horns before! I’m sure of it!”

The two youkai flinched, the male of the two moving his face back from hers and looking petrified. He peeked up from under the brim of his hat to the sign of the establishment he apparently hadn’t realized he’d stopped before.

“Kou... rin... dou...” the man read. He looked at the proprietor, who was thinking over details of the Ibuki-douji legend and comparing them to what he could see of the pinned down youkai. “Mister... Rinnosuke?” he ventured.

“Y—Yeah, that’s him,” said Ibuki-douji... the oni... as she let go of the boy’s clothes and harbored a heavy blush on her face. An oni in Gensokyo... thought Rinnosuke, There’s no way, right? They’ve been gone for longer than I’ve been alive. Much longer, in fact.

He got his bearings again; he stood up straight behind his door as the magician dispelled his earth and patted the oni off, carefully helping her up. What a curious relationship, Rinnosuke observed before coughing once into his fist. “Ahem,” he began, “yes, my name is Morichika Rinnosuke, and this is the store ‘Kourindou’. I’ll have to ask that if you wish to do business here, I cannot allow any fighting within the store.” Feeling a bit more confident with the two now standing up outside of his establishment, Rinnosuke fully opened his door. “Do you wish to do business? If so, welcome, but do keep in mind that I intend to close soon so if you’d please...”

He stopped. The magician wasn’t a youkai. In the chaos and confusion that was the pair’s arrival his eyes seemed to have missed the truth of the matter. That, and now it was obvious that no youkai energy was coming off of the human dressed in lavender and blue. The human, kneeling now and rubbing Ibuki-douji’s head with his bushy eyebrows furrowed, was somebody he’d heard of, in fact.

“Yes, sorry,” said the human, now looking his way but not ceasing the easeful motion of his hand, “I apologize for causing a disturbance outside of your store... We got carried away. Sorry.”

“It’s alright, this is Gensokyo; I understand,” Rinnosuke answered. “However... Gen, I want to be absolutely clear that you will have to buy whatever it is you need from my establishment. If you understand that, please come in. Humans and youkai are both welcome at Kourindou.”

Itou Gen was somebody he’d expected to eventually meet, if only because he was a human living at the same mansion as a certain maid. The Mistress of that mansion was unreasonable, and he’d long now wagered that the magician in their library had to be as well. According to Marisa, this young man worked for that magician. He didn’t know much else beyond that, but it was enough...

Enough to know some recompense could be had at that estate’s expense.

Gen stood and gave Ibuki-douji a questioning look while pointing Rinnosuke’s way. He received a shrug in return, before the oni looked to where he was pointing, waited for the owner to go inside, and beckoned the human to her level, whereupon she took his lips.

~~

[ ♫: https://picosong.com/w6a82/ ]
[月のワルツ [カラオケ] - 月のワルツ (諫山実生)]

Inside, Rinnosuke walked to his counter and waited. He wondered how he could get back at the mansion for the destruction of his property. Earlier in the year, the head maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion, Izayoi Sakuya, had come to meet and baffle him, starting a series of events that ended with his stock taking a definitive loss. He had nothing against this new fellow, but if he could get rid of some junk at a high price then, well, he could consider that a debt repaid (and air easier to breathe).

He turned as he heard the pair’s approaching footsteps. The magician took off his hat and looked around. The oni looked at the magician’s free hand, and, squirming a little, began touching a few of her fingers together absently.

“Do you have something already in mind?” Rinnosuke asked.

“No, unfortunately,” Gen answered with a smile. He looked around just a bit more, noting after: “Huh... it really is filled with outside world goods.”

The proprietor nodded. “Yes. Are you familiar with outside world objects?”

Gen thought about that, answering, “Yeah, I am,” with a nod after a moment.

“A fellow collector?” asked Rinnosuke, a bit excited.

“I’m just familiar, sorry to say,” answered Gen with an apologetic smile.

“What’s this? It looks like if you poked it just slightly you’d break it.”

Rinnosuke turned his eyes to Ibuki-douji, who had a finger raised tentatively over a short box with the figure of a frill-skirted dancer posed atop it. Though the box was open, its contents were still blocked from sight so the dancer might have a floor. Rinnosuke looked at it, looked at the oni, and told her, “It’s called a ‘music box’. One of those rare names that tells you everything you need to know.”

“It can play music? What? But there’s no... eh, mouth? Or strings, or a hollow body... Nothing for sound to come out of.”

“I’ve stocked a few of these before. Inside, there’s a small instrument that... if you spin that bit on the side around a little, a small, bump-filled cylinder will rotate afterward, each bump plucking at the instrument inside to make music.”

“No way!” Ibuki-douji picked it up and began winding it immediately, the figure on top turning as a click, clicking sounded. The two men eyed the oni warily, both looking as if they wanted to explain that not much winding was necessary. She let go of the diamond-shaped knob on its side before they could interrupt, and watched with a pair of wide eyes as the dancer slowly spun in place, and a song (one from, if he recognized it correctly, Spain) began to prettily play. Her mouth spreading wide into a smile, Ibuki-douji cried, “This’s crazy! How’d you humans even think of this!?”

“Well, I’m not entirely human, nor did I invent the music box of course,” he replied. He walked over toward her, “I understand these were invented rather recently, if we’re considering the entirety of history. They’ve been around for only two hundred years.”

“Young!”

“Yes.” He nodded. The oni showed her smile to him, and its brightness made him wince.

“You got any others!?” she shouted.

He nodded again. “Yes. Are you interested in buying them?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course, lemme see some more!” she insisted. Rinnosuke frowned, looking at her suspiciously... but ultimately recalled, oni were not known to lie. Business was business...

“I’ll get some of the hand-operated ones from the back,” he said, and he went to do just that.

“Hey, Gen! These are awesome! Look, look!”

Rinnosuke glanced over his shoulder, seeing the oni holding the box in both of her hands and chortling mirthfully, her eyes fully closed.

The human answered, “You mean listen?” The oni frowned, and told him to shut up. Rinnosuke turned away.

“Your Mistress would find these interestin’, right?”

“I don’t know how else to say this but... music boxes are common enough that I’m sure Mistress Remilia has several... Ahh, Miss Suika, don’t look so devastated. I like them, see?”

Those two arevery peculiar, he thought to himself as he stepped into the even-more-stuffed realm of his store’s back storage area. He stepped carefully through narrow paths of somewhat random making, looking for where he kept the music boxes he’d collected. So that vampire mistress wants something “interesting”. Poor fellow, I think I can understand why meeting that request can’t be easy.

He stopped in front of a metal and leather-bound chest.

What should I do, then? Something the vampire would like...

As he opened the chest and looked for things to satisfy the oni’s curiosity, he considered also the blood-sucking oni’s curiosity. The item would be important, certainly... but what would really matter would be how he spun its value. If this Gen was anything like the other residents of Scarlet Devil Mansion, he was likely fairly intelligent... but not infallible. More importantly, he’d have some sort of ridiculous way of thinking. He seemed to be a partner of some kind with a genuine oni, for one. Perhaps if the shopkeeper could impress the magician well enough, the oni would see him as trusting and so might share some of the secrets of her kind’s spectacular tools... Once more, he found himself getting excited. This could be an exceptional chance.

With a few music boxes selected, Rinnosuke put a thumb to his chin and a hand on his hip.

What could he try to sell?


[] Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale.

[] Something cheap from Gensokyo. With an oni around, and one the human trusted so well, he could have the elder youkai potentially corroborate whatever explanation he game.

[] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.

[] Something expensive from Gensokyo. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.
>>No. 67470
[x] Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale.
>>No. 67471
>As he opened the chest and looked for things to satisfy the oni’s curiosity, he considered also the blood-sucking oni’s curiosity.

Suika does not suck (blood) As far as I know...

[X] Expensive - Outside world

Both rare AND valuable.
>>No. 67472
>>67471
>Suika does not suck (blood) As far as I know...
Refers to Remilia, actually.

The way the Japanese call vampires is 吸血鬼, which literally means "blood-sucking oni". This is probably why roasted soybeans harm vampires in Touhou, because they are "technically" oni.
>>No. 67473
[x] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.
>>No. 67474
[x] Something cheap from the outside world. If Gen was well-versed in the outside world, he might actually need less convincing than with another item for sale
>>No. 67475
[x] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.

"I know I've got some scarlet gold around here somewhere..."
>>No. 67476
File 155329608935.jpg - (2.28MB, 2281x1000, usual kourindou.jpg) [iqdb]
67476
[X] Something expensive from the outside world. Something Rinnosuke was convinced would be worth something. This was a rare opportunity, after all. Retribution could wait.

... Thinking, it had to be that.

Rinnosuke put the music boxes down onto a tray and moved back toward the main store.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=cganW8kwG-s ]
[月のワルツ - 月のワルツ (諫山実生)]

He arrived to find a somewhat strange-looking scene: Ibuki-douji had her hands on a counter and was swaying her head lightly to the music of the box from before. On one of her horns was the human magician’s hat, held as if it was meant to hang there. On her other horn was the human’s finger, tapping the rhythm of the song offhandedly. He was looking at some of the clocks on one of Kourindou’s walls, and had his other hand in his robe’s pocket.

Rinnosuke spoke up, “Miss Customer, I have some more here.” He presented the tray of the varied boxes on his front desk, drawing the oni’s attention. “They’re hand-operated. Rather than running on their own, they only play as you move the crank. I urge you to take care with them.”

“Of course!” she answered, and she leapt from the magician’s side (who, on her leave, snatched up his hat and started spinning it slowly ‘round a finger). Ibuki-douji got her hands on a dark-wood box with a fairly large handle to go along with the box’s rather significant size. She cranked it gently, smiling as a song Rinnosuke believed to be from Deutschland was plucked out. He looked to the human in the room.

“As for you, Gen,” said Rinnosuke, addressing the boy amicably, “I believe I have something that your Vampire Mistress would be quite interested in in stock. With your knowledge of Outside World tools, perhaps you will recognize its value and rarity immediately.”

Gen waited. Rinnosuke thought to himself, Alright, this is it...

He stepped from behind the counter and past the library’s assistant (just as he donned his cap once more), moving to a shelf upon which, beside some strange lamps and heavy-looking, many-buttoned devices, lay a relatively simple, small and thin white box.

“Have a look,” he said, indicating toward the box with a flat and open palm. “This is called an ‘iPod’. It’s a tool that can store and play music.”

Morichika Rinnosuke could see names.

More than that, in knowing the names of things he saw, he was also able to determine their functions. This... did not include an understanding as to how they functioned, though. In other words, the “iPod” was one of the rarest, strangest, seemingly useless items in his store. It had a large circle on its face, containing another circle that seemed to be a button; there was a switch on top along with a few purposeless holes... it was supposed to gather and play music, but even assuming it could perform that former part, or perhaps even was somehow already, Rinnosuke was entirely unable to get it to sing; unable to make it play, or anything. What’s more, the odd, shiny and dark square of material on its top half seemed to only serve as an incredibly poor mirror. It may have seemed unworkable or broken... but this was the only device of its kind Rinnosuke had ever found. Its unusual, esoteric and sleek make also suggested to him that this was, miraculously, a new device. It was something Gensokyo, a land of forgotten and old things, was not likely to find. It must have been lost: the lost also showed up in this land after all.

At any rate, Rinnosuke was sure a portable box of many songs would not even simply sate that vampire’s curiosity; it would be an invaluable, precious tool.

“So? Have you heard of it?”

If she could figure out how it was used at least.

Rinnosuke looked over at Gen and saw, with a little bit of a shock, that the boy was plainly in awe; the sort of awe that mostly confused Rinnosuke. Why? Because the look in Gen’s eye told Rinnosuke that not only did this boy know far more about the object than Rinnosuke could, he also saw value in it surely beyond what the store owner had estimated.

For a moment, he reconsidered selling it.

“How did an iPod get in here? Moreover... I’ve never seen this before,” Gen muttered. “Can I have a look at it? At the back?”

“F-Feel free,” Rinnosuke stammered as the younger gentleman stepped next to him and picked the box up. He observed, swallowing from nervousness.

“‘Sup, Gen? Ya recognize it?”

At Ibuki-douji’s sudden interjection, Rinnosuke swiveled his head, spotting the girl with a much smaller music box on the palm of her hand, turning it by pinching the handle with two fingers.

“That’s the thing: I don’t,” said her partner, drawing Rinnosuke’s quick attention again. The magician turned the iPod over in his hands, squinting at the text near the bottom of it.

“Could it be...? No... You understand what that text down there means?” Rinnosuke asked. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach.

He could read a bit of English and so knew a little of what was said on the back of the tool, such as its point of origin (China, though it was designed in a place called California by... an apple—perhaps a nickname or business name?), but there were numbers and words there, as well as symbols, that were essentially total gibberish to the Gensokyoan man.

“No, it’s all gibberish to me, aside from knowing Apple made it, of course,” replied the boy. He squinted, holding his chin. “I was hoping the year of production or copyright would be back here, but looks like it isn’t... A forty gigabyte model that looks this slick... Which generation is this?”

“Um,” Rinnosuke began, a bead of sweat crawling down his forehead, “copyright? Gi... Giiga... baito? What? Generation?”

“This is insane. It somehow got in here after I did, Miss Suika.”

“It happens once in a while, but that really is nuts.”

“Hey, wait, wait a second,” Rinnosuke interrupted, his posture now somewhat slouched, his hands raised as if trying to physically grasp an understanding, “you, what on Earth are you?”

Gen brought the iPod close to his chest and met Rinnosuke’s eyes. “I’d say that you seem trustworthy enough, Mister Rinnosuke. More importantly, Sakuya wouldn’t have sent me here on a shopping trip if she was concerned about my safety... ha, well, when it comes to the Mistress, that’s first priority. She wouldn’t send me to my death on an errand for Mistress Remilia.” The boy chuckled again, looking off in thought. Rounding his gaze back to Rinnosuke, he revealed, “I’m from the Outside World.” He straightened his back a little. “I’m an Outsider.”


Rinnosuke felt like reality had broken for him. As the proprietor of a store primarily dealing in Outside World goods, perhaps a genuine Outsider’s appearance should have been expected at some point. But, there were some things to keep in mind. For one: the majority of Outsiders either died shortly after entering Gensokyo or they left via Reimu’s Shrine. For two: they did not tend to settle in Gensokyo, and if they ever did it was in the Human Village. A human Outsider, living in that Devil’s mansion? Capable of magic? And, most importantly...

... he hadn’t had any interest in Kourindou, despite having been in Gensokyo for over a year!?

The owner of the secondhand artifact store was deeply, wickedly affected by this. Was his store’s reputation so poor that this Gen had decided against shopping there? Or was it that Outsiders would consider his Outside World goods to be... quaint? Truly junk?

He thought he was an expert on Outsiders and their world. Even with the good news that the “iPod” was indeed valuable, he was finding this horribly difficult to take in.

“Er... are you alright, Mister Rinnosuke?” Gen asked.

He tried to answer, frowned, looked askance, then looked miserable. He wasn’t.

Gen moved to whisper behind his hand. “Miss Suika, something’s wrong with him,” he said.

Ibuki-douji, still testing music boxes, told him plainly, “He thinks he’s an Outside World expert. He’s probably upset that you never thought about going to his shop, even though you’re an Outsider.”

Why on Earth does she know that!? Rinnosuke was flustered.

Gen said nothing. Composing himself, the store owner saw that the Outsider was struggling with what to say.

“N-Never mind it, ah, Gen,” Rinnosuke urged. “The iPod... you are interested in purchasing it?”

“Mister Rinnosuke, I abandoned the Outside World because I have little interest in it. That’s really all there is to say about it. I’m quite dedicated to the arts, so I don’t have much time to go on flights of fancy to your store anyway.”

“‘Abandoned’?” the half-youkai repeated. “You came to Gensokyo on purpose? Through the barrier?”

“No, but I’ve stayed on purpose.”

This man is crazy, thought Rinnosuke. “Why?” he demanded to know. “Why abandon the greater world for this tiny one?”

Gen and Ibuki-douji looked at one another, then at Rinnosuke. Gen could have answered completely honestly, but looking at Rinnosuke, he surmised that he currently had his foot over another man’s dreams. His conscience, which held him always by a firm leash, informed him that saying outright “The Outside World isn’t a wonderful place, Mister Rinnosuke” would be... essentially an evil act. “I’ve found things that I want in Gensokyo,” he decided to say, fishing out the necklace and vial around his neck, “and things that I’ve come to love. I found a different life here; I can’t leave it now.” He put the vial in his grasp, looking through the glass into Remilia’s dark and precious blood. “I... wasn’t heading anywhere special in the Outside World.”

“I... I see,” Rinnosuke replied. “Thank you for humoring me. Pardon my outburst.”

“It wasn’t really an outburst...”

Rinnosuke coughed into a fist. “Well then... um, Gen, could you tell me how it is the iPod works? You see, I have the ability to understand the names and purposes of tools... but I cannot understand the ways to use them. Perhaps... my store would be rather popular if I did.”

Gen nodded in understanding. “That makes a lot click,” he said, and Rinnosuke agonized over what the boy meant by that. “First, it’s dead so it needs charging. I can’t do that myself but my Master, Patchouli Knowledge, can use lightning and other sorts of electricity in magic. As long as I tell her how much or... rather, how little is needed, I can give the device power.”

“Wait, so you’re going to buy it then?” Rinnosuke asked.

Gen nodded. “I intend to, depending on the price. Mistress Remilia would love this, and if we want to change the music on it we can just—... well, we can do something, and get that done.”

The proprietor was flabbergasted once more. “You know how it stores music!?”

“We need a proprietary USB cable for that, which is a bummer. Master might be able to circumvent that with magic. We’d also need a computer, and a connection to the Internet. In Gensokyo, even if we had the former we can’t access the latter here but... Scarlet Devil Mansion has its own routes.”

“I... I see, but—” Rinnosuke grimaced, cutting himself off and thinking, You haven’t told me how to actually use it...!

“If you’re still wondering how it works, I don’t know how understandable it would be to someone from Gensokyo but...” Gen stopped to think, putting a hand over his mouth and a finger and thumb on either cheek “think of it like... being able to connect to anyone or any business through a series of electric cords, one of which is tied to your computer. For the iPod, you buy or... find music by searching through those connections. It’s all rather organized, so finding anything isn’t difficult. Once you have your songs, they go from the USB cable into the device.”

“I think I understand...” I understand that the technology of the Outside World has advanced much beyond my imagination.

“Oh, and, it isn’t a stereo or boombox. You need earbuds to listen to its songs. You plug them in here.”

Gen indicated toward one of the holes on top.

“Earbuds...! Those things are worth something!?”

He only knew they were used to “listen”. Earbuds landed plentifully in Muenzuka where he hunted for items; so plentifully he’d assumed they were a strange, disposable sort of trash.

“Well, whether they’re ‘worth’ anything or not is... Eh, they’re needed is all. Headphones work as well. I’d prefer those, honestly.”

“Um, sorry, please slow down,” asked Rinnosuke, holding his skull with his fingertips in something of a vice. Headphones... weren’t phones, then? Certainly they had the same function as earbuds, but with their name he had assumed they could be used to communicate across long distances, like telephones supposedly could. He’d tested pairs of them on so many things... he only ever used them now on some cold winter nights as novelty ear warmers.

“Anyway, it makes more sense once it’s on; I’ll show you later,” Gen said, looking at the device in his palm again. He met Rinnosuke’s eyes, “May I ask how much you want for it?”

Rinnosuke froze up for a second, but quickly made himself seem self-assured. It was undeniable: he was out of his league. He didn’t know how much this item was worth. He could tell that even in Gen’s society, it was a luxury item given the apprentice’s reactions and comments, but... how much of one? And did he really want to give it away if it was that valuable? He’d love to use it himself, and he couldn’t be sure he could find another.

He swallowed. If he was being honest, he almost felt faint right now. This innocuous visit was turning extremely revelatory, and he hadn’t even gotten to asking the oni about her society’s fantastic tools. He tried to calm down as best he could. How much was it worth? Well...

He didn’t want to seem unknowledgeable. Even if he didn’t know how to use items from the Outside World, he still understood value. He had to believe that. He would answer the Outsider quickly. When he did, he’d tell him—


[] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.

[] a much higher price than what he’d originally predicted. This was a now or never sale.

[] the iPod was priceless. He wanted to have it for himself. Maybe... if the Outsider helped him get it working, then the boy could have another deal.
>>No. 67477
[x] a much higher price than what he’d originally predicted. This was a now or never sale.

The iPod isn't priceless if only one person in Gensokyo can actually use it. If Gen doesn't buy it, no one will, and Rinnosuke will never figure out how it works. Sell the device if Gen promises to come back and demonstrate its function once he gets it working.
>>No. 67478
[x] a much higher price than what he’d originally predicted. This was a now or never sale
>>No. 67479
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
>>No. 67480
[X] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
>>No. 67481
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knoweldge to help categorize items in the store.

An investment.
>>No. 67482
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knoweldge to help categorize items in the store.

Absolutely yes. This helps everybody by giving the Mansion a lead on things coming in that might be interesting and it'll give Rinnosuke a better position with his shop if he actually knows what to do with some things.

Though keep in mind, Gen's help would need to be kept quiet for his safety. Maybe things sent to SDM on occasion for examination?
>>No. 67483
[x] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knoweldge to help categorize items in the store.

Going too high will scare him off, and getting their help will be much more valuable in the long run.
It's time to actually be a bit business savvy.
>>No. 67484
File 155377464643.jpg - (836.84KB, 1462x2048, perspective switch.jpg) [iqdb]
67484
[X] a higher price than he’d originally predicted. High for Gensokyo, but reasonable given its rarity.
-[x] But a bargain could be made if he agreed to use his knowledge to help categorize items in the store.

~~

~~

Gen blinked.

Morichika Rinnosuke seemed to be a bit fragile. This was a comment on his mind or personality rather than his physique (not that the tall and pale, fancily garbed man in glasses looked anywhere near tough). The Magician’s Apprentice wondered, somewhat seriously, if part of the reason Sakuya had sent him to Kourindou was to potentially greatly disturb the shop owner’s foundation. He was an Outsider after all, and Mister Rinnosuke was an alleged Outside World expert. The only way one could be an expert on another place would be if they had quite a lot of firsthand experience with it, rather than just relying on secondhand accounts. Rinnosuke clearly did not have that for the Outside World, if simple facts he brought up (such as the function and use of headphones) were completely blindsiding him.

The half-youkai cleared his throat. “Ahem... Hm. It’s thirty-five thousand.”

The human winced. Well... that’s definitely cheaper than what they sold last year for around the same price and less storage... But, I was hoping he wouldn’t be so close to the mark on how stupidly high Apple prices its things.

“... I’ll pay it,” he answered, almost bitterly. Rinnosuke narrowed his eyes rather worriedly. “Or I say that, but I don’t have the money for such a thing right now.”

“It’s yours for five thousand,” Rinnosuke said quickly, “if you do something for me.”

The boy was taken aback. Suika, without any knowledge of present-day value, did recognize that the number Rinnosuke had just offered was thirty thousand less than before, and dropped her jaw upon hearing it.

“Uh, seriously? What’s with that deal?” Gen asked, almost slouching now. “The catch has to be disgusting.”

“That relies on your perspective alone, dear customer,” Rinnosuke explained, looking now to be much calmer than before. Opening his eyes from their rested state, he met Gen’s and told him, “I’d like you to help categorize this store’s items if you want that deal.”

“Geh,” was his immediate response, complete with a notably repulsed expression. This confused the store-owner.

“I-Is it that much of a problem?” he asked.

Gen let his gaze wander around the store and its many, many tools as he answered, “I can’t sign myself up for that,” he said, “I only even have some part time work in the Human Village for when I have a rare amount of freedom to earn some spending money. The time I spend with others, I tend to spend when my Master grants it during research trips and ingredient runs, not to mention tasks I must complete. What I’m saying is, I’d have to ask my Master about that, and she’d probably answer no given how much time I’m to dedicate to her...” Gen looked toward Rinnosuke again, apology on his face. “Or she’d want something in return,” he revealed.

“Hmmm...” Rinnosuke looked upset by this.

There was another reason he had for being reluctant. From his lectures on Gensokyo’s make and maintenance with Patchouli, he had a somewhat... incredibly bad feeling about identifying many modern day tools in Gensokyo. He considered this: his Master only things from the Outside World in fantastic terms... although she had, as far as he knew, come from the Outside World—he wondered from where exactly. At any rate, the closer Gensokyo came to truly understanding the Outside World and its devices, the closer the worlds would be overall. Kourindou possessed a vast array of tools, therefore...

He shook his head.

Maybe working with the unpopular shop Kourindou wouldn’t cause a significant shift in balance, but maybe it would. Gen didn’t want to be responsible for that. With this in mind, he spoke up again.

“Hey, if I show you it working after I fix it, could you drop the price to twenty-thousand?”

Morichika Rinnosuke thought for a solid, eyebrow-twisting minute before answering, carefully and deliberately:

“... I insist, take the deal. Think of it this way:” he paused to exhale, then inhaled long before explaining, “the vampire you work for is one who’s quite whimsical, no? My shop is a concentration of many of the sorts of things that would absolutely interest her. Not only do I have things here that would interest her, but I have things that would be of use to her. If you ever spot something she might like, you would be the first to know about it, before any other customer. A certain amount of exclusivity would thus be granted to your Mistress. And that Magician master of yours: surely I have things she’d like to see or utilize as well. Furthermore if you lack time, searching for items of interest in places like Muenzuka would be dangerous to an Outsider such as you, but for me searching through the things of other worlds is more than half of my work. I can waste that time for you, and I can travel largely safe through Gensokyo while you cannot. Having a partnership with Kourindou would be invaluable to you! You wouldn’t need to be here constantly either, only whenever I’d call upon you. So? So!? How does that sound!?”

“It sounds desperate,” he replied. Rinnosuke shut his mouth as Gen gave him a pitying look. The magician put his fingers under the brim of his cap and vaguely explored his hair as he continued, “I’ll definitely talk to my Master about that first. For now, give me this.”

He grabbed off a lower shelf a small (about half a foot high), clear, rather thin tank of water, full of plastic rings coming in several colors. Two yellow buttons were apart and prominent on its red base. It was a piece of trash piece of entertainment...

But it could pique his Mistress Flandre’s curiosity.

“That? The water ring toss?” Rinnosuke was visibly bothered by his customer’s decision. “Certainly if she hasn’t seen that, your Mistress would be intrigued but...”

“There are two vampires I call ‘Mistress’,” Gen explained, pressing one of the buttons to push up water and toss the rings toward their peg goals. He met Rinnosuke’s eyes, smiling now. “One of the two would really take their time figuring this thing out.”

“I see...” Rinnosuke sounded defeated. The older man (who, really, looked to be about Gen’s age) sighed. He pinched his white hair, narrowed his golden eyes, and touched the black bottom frame of his glasses. “Well, these are cheap; as I’ve no doubt you’re aware. I couldn’t even try to pretend that these had any sort of value. They fall into Gensokyo very often, and break fairly easily.”

“No surprise there,” said Gen.

“This much.” Rinnosuke lifted his arm to indicate toward a (very low) price. Gen bought it at once.

He looked over to his partner, asking, “Suika, are you going to buy one of those?”

“Nah, let’s get going. It’s getting late.” The oni put down the music box she’d been fiddling with and started toward the exit.

“Alright then. Thank you, Mister Rinnosuke, I’ll see you again soon,” said Gen, nodding politely and following after the girl.

Rinnosuke’s face had become about as blue as his outfit now. He was almost shaking. However, without a confrontational bone in his body, the half-youkai simply let them leave. He’d have to rely on luck. Luck...

The young old man sighed once more at the sound of the entrance bell, and returned to the front counter to find the book he’d been reading, picking back up from where he’d left off.
>>No. 67485
File 155377476551.jpg - (1.05MB, 3541x2343, hello.jpg) [iqdb]
67485
~~

On the other side of the door to Kourindou, Gen stepped forward and found himself surrounded by greenery, breathing an almost poisonous air. Old trees, dead leaves on the ground, and mushrooms sprouting every which way... There was no doubt about it: somehow, he now found himself in the Forest of Magic.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=HcGWNts_3BQ ]
[Necrofantasia (Sweet Melody) - Remix (Flandre-SDM)]

“... Hn!?” he stopped, glared, and went immediately on guard. He wasn’t outside of Kourindou anymore. In fact, he was not sure exactly where he was. He’d undergone this kind of sudden shift in place quite a few times back in the mansion due to Sakuya’s tampering, but never had he experienced this outside those scarlet walls. He had a feeling Sakuya wasn’t behind this either.

Before him, Suika was stood in place, her back facing him while she stared upward through the forest canopy and to the sky, blending and fading between lavender and the color of the setting sun.

“Suika, did you do this?” he asked in a hushed whisper.

She shook her head. “It’s that girl,” she replied in her normal voice. She lifted her left arm to point deeper into the Forest. With a hand on one of his spell books, he followed her direction, and saw a white and violet figure taking a few steps toward an oak tree: perhaps thirty feet away, not facing him and almost fully in profile. The figure sported a large white parasol that obscured its face, one that was decorated with red ribbons on the out and inner sides. It lifted a hand – a silken-white gloved and feminine one – to touch the mossy bark.

“You’re off the mark, you know,” spoke a voice he knew he’d heard before. “It’s not humans that changed the trees. The moss is just an ordinary moss. It’s colored a bit different from normal and its makeup is designed to survive well enough with less light, that’s all. It’s certainly the fairies’ fault that it exists and confuses passers-by, but it’s simple evolution.”

Gen began thinking of magic to utilize quickly as he addressed the woman: “Yakumo... Yukari.”

The infamous youkai moved her parasol aside, revealing better her long and golden hair – the crimson bows tied at the ends – as well as her amethyst-colored eyes and her white mob cap, festooned with red ribbons. She smiled, almost entirely with those odd-colored eyes, telling him in a lightly delighted lilt, “Ohh, you remember me? Itou Gen.”

“What are you doing here, Yukari? Are you bored?” Suika asked with a sloppy, hand-on-hip pose, entirely absent of tension. Gen glanced toward her, recalling to himself: Right, they’re friends.

But he did not relax his guard.

Yukari ignored Suika’s question and talked to him directly, looking his way in a very polite manner as she did so: her head bent just slightly in respect, and her hands posed elegantly on the nature before her and the object in her grasp.

“You met the half-human shop owner?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“That offer he gave you for the mp3 player was superb. Why didn’t you take it?”

“... You were listening? Don’t do that,” he told her with a frown and a narrowed gaze. Suika mirrored him.

“Yeah, don’t spy on people,” she said.

“Suika, you’re one to talk,” Yukari chastised airily, now pouting at her friend.

“I spy no more than the wind,” the oni boasted with her hands on her hips, raising her chin and closing her eyes. Gen turned his frown on her, and Yukari lowered one eyebrow while raising the other and smirking.

“Well if you were listening, I gave him my reasons,” Gen finally answered.

Yukari closed her eyes and shook her head. “An oni’s lover shouldn’t lie,” she said, “even if the oni in question is Suika.”

“Oi,” interjected the oni in question, crossing her arms and shooting a glare.

“... Alright, Miss Yakumo—”

“Yukari. We’re friends, Gen, because a friend of my friend is a friend of mine.”

“... Yukari,” he said miserably, his brows pushing together, “why do you think I said no?”

“Oh, you really are smart! How nice! You’re just like that pillow you call ‘Master’.”

“Quiet...” said Gen, more embarrassed than bothered.

“So you see...” Yukari began to walk their way while speaking, looking to her right (he felt, perhaps, toward Kourindou), “Kourindou and its owner as they are are... cute. There’s a similar place, in the human village, called Suzunaan... it’s a book rental shop that specializes in books from the Outside World, but nobody in Gensokyo can understand them.”

“Seems like the kid there has special eyes. She’s cute,” Suika noted. Gen didn’t know what she meant.

“Yes, she is quite adorable, though her eyes can’t ‘read’ yet,” said Yukari, now in the same clearing where the two of them stood. She closed her eyes to smile.

“... You’re worried about Gensokyo’s stability, too?” Gen asked, relaxing just a bit. Though he eased his stance, he was rather disgusted by Yukari’s presence. She felt a little like being before the Saigyou Ayakashi.

“Let me take care of the shopkeeper,” Yukari proposed, meeting his eyes. “I will get you the mp3 player, and replace his with another. If we’re lucky, he won’t notice.” She smiled again.

“... I don’t want to steal it,” said Gen. “I’ll leave the evil-doing to youkai, thanks.”

“That’s why I said I’ll do it,” Yukari replied.

“I don’t aim to be an accomplice, either. Aiding and abetting is a crime, too.”

“Gen, you’re so kind,” Yukari complimented, though she spoke and looked as if she was sad to say that. She reached into her sleeve. “When you become a youkai for Suika, I wonder if you’ll lose that kindness.”

Beside him, Suika blushed. Gen dragged his fingernails gently over the leather of his grimoire. “You’re saying that, too...” he grumbled.

“It isn’t wrong,” said Yukari, extracting a wad of bills, “and I’m not admonishing you. Here.”

She presented the cash to him. A quick count told him it was thirty-five thousand en.

“Gen, are you gonna...?” he heard Suika mutter.

“I have a lot to think about,” he answered. If he was being honest, the shift in his considerations had been happening since before he’d met the oni,

He grasped the money Yukari was offering him.

“Gen, this is the second time I’ve interfered with your life. That wasn’t what I expected when you crossed the barrier. Well... I was certain you’d end up on a dinner plate, actually.”

“I didn’t beg for your help or anything,” he said, pocketing the money. “Why help me at all?”

“Helping...? I didn’t use that word...” Yukari told him, looking a bit miserable. “Though this is helping, I suppose. I’m funding you. Aren’t I swell?”

“Because I’m your friend?”

“We’re on the same side,” said the youkai, and her lips turned up one more time, raising the hairs along his arms.

He grimaced before speaking. “You told me to be honest, so I should say: I really don’t think of you as a friend, Yukari. Besides not knowing you, you creep me the hell out.”

“Well, ignoring that first part, the second is good. I am a youkai, after all,” she admitted, looking thoughtful with her pointer finger pressed to her lifted chin.

“But Miss Suika likes you,” he continued, “and it sounds like we agree on things. I’ll try to get along with you.” He raised his hand, offering it to her. Yakumo Yukari looked down at it, raising her eyebrows and losing her smile. “Let’s keep Mister Rinnosuke and Gensokyo safe,” he said, smirking just a bit.

Yukari grinned very happily then. She took his hand, and he was not surprised to feel how firm her grip was. “Yes...” she almost hummed, “this sort of thing... is grand, no? ... No, better... ideal.”

They shook hands amicably, and Yukari let him go, keeping her arm aloft as he dropped his.

“Don’t get too chummy with her, Gen. She thinks you’re useful,” Suika noted plainly. He met her eyes and shrugged.

“That isn’t true. Gen isn’t very useful,” Yukari defended herself, slightly insulting him in the process.

“Then why’re you bothering with a human like him? Isn’t the deal that Outsiders are fair game in Gensokyo nowadays?” asked Suika, jutting her thumb his way and putting her other hand on her waist. “‘Cause of me? If you’re gonna go easy on him ‘cause of that, I won’t forgive you, Yukari.”

The eerie youkai shook her head and spoke to Suika quite seriously, telling her, “That isn’t it. If it turns out that way and I think I have to kill this boy, then I will. And, if he is to die, I will let him die... When I came across him last year, I rescued him by happenstance. The creature attacking him had threatened a resident, and I couldn’t ask Reimu to help there...”

Suika didn’t answer. She looked at Yukari and pushed out her bottom lip. Yukari’s expression became pleasant again, and she continued.

“I want to get along with him, that’s all. Isn’t it nice? Getting along with people. It’s nice to see that you two get along as well...” She chuckled, and took a step back. “Take care of Suika, Gen. She isn’t as strong as she wants to be.”

“H-Hey!” Suika shouted. A gap unfurled behind Yukari, the eyes within the new void staring everywhere before the girl entered it and it closed on her ladylike, farewell wave.

“Be seeing you... Gen.”

The gap thinned, its bow-ends slipped into nothingness, and Gen was displeased to realize that Yukari had left them in the forest.

“... I guess we should find our way out,” he said. Suika looked at him.

“Wanna talk about it?” she asked.

“About Yukari?”

“We should talk about it.”

“Nobody’s really told me about her. Actually, it kinda feels like she just... started to exist a few months ago.”

They picked a direction, and started moving through the Forest.

“Yukari’s... we’re friends, but she’s not a good person. You can’t trust her, Gen. She’s the only person I’d call a friend who I can’t trust... I’d say the only thing I can rely on with her is that she’s not really reliable.”

“How’d you become friends with her?”

“Hm...” Suika went quiet, closing her eyes and thinking to herself. He cocked an eyebrow at that. “I can’t tell ya that,” she said.

“Did you make a promise?” he wondered, tilting his head. He moved a low branch out her way while she continued to walk.

“That’s not it. It’s just pretty complicated and uh... it’s her business. If she wants ta tell ya, she can, but she probably won’t.”

“When you say it like that, I feel like I don’t wanna know.”

“Yeah, she might kill you if you figure that out,” Suika admitted. He could tell she wasn’t joking.

“So what do you think? Think she’s gonna come after me now because I made a kind of deal with her?” he asked in a playful tone.

“Naaahh, she won’t,” Suika said, shrugging her shoulders and stepping into the air to start floating instead of walking. “She probably won’t bother you much, either. She lied about being your friend, after all.”

“I could tell that much.”

“But you did something she liked; she wasn’t lying about that,” said the oni, drinking from her gourd after. She turned over and began floating backward, nearing him more and almost hitting his head with hers.

“I just got caught up a bit in something, huh.”

“Yup, but hey, you could befriend her if you tried? Ya shouldn’t though.”

They walked quietly for a bit.

As they did, Gen thought:


[] he really didn’t want any more to do with Yakumo Yukari.

[] that might not be a bad thing.
>>No. 67486
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

G A P
>>No. 67487
[X] he really didn’t want any more to do with Yakumo Yukari.
Didn't expect to meet her.
>>No. 67488
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

Getting in over his head is his second name. Well, I'm not sure if it is, but it should be.
>>No. 67489
[x] that might not be a bad thing.
>>No. 67490
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

Because of course.
>>No. 67491
[x] What happens, happens.

I don't want to clearly keep distance, I don't want to try to like... ingratiate Gen towards her.

Treat her just like everything else that can kill Gen with a small but of effort, dangerous but cordial unless there's reason otherwise, I guess.

I trust Suika here a lot when she says that Gen shouldn't be outright friends, but we don't need to be friends with someone to at least be friendly.
>>No. 67492
[x] that might not be a bad thing.

I like the way you write for Yukari, but I agree with >>67491 in general. Gen should trust the Oni.
>>No. 67493
[x] that might not be a bad thing

Gap youkai moe~
>>No. 67494
[X] he really didn’t want any more to do with Yakumo Yukari.
>>No. 67498
File 15542100026.gif - (779.18KB, 600x600, o hai.gif) [iqdb]
67498
[X] that might not be a bad thing.

~~

It took them some time to exit the forest. After they did, they returned to Kourindou to purchase the iPod (with an explanation that the magician had found a benefactor), which Rinnosuke was not pleased with. Gen said he would still ask his Master about assisting the store... but in all likelihood he wouldn’t. With the moon rising, he and his partner left the secondhand store to start heading back to the Mansion.

“Are you gonna sleep in your room tonight?” Suika asked him as they walked the open road.

“I’ll probably report back and give the girls their gifts, but um...” he faltered, slightly screwing up his face, “... I’d like to sleep with you tonight... I implied as much before we went into Kourindou.”

“Ah... ahaha...” Suika laughed with embarrassment, and quietly grasped the side of his robes.

“Oh, it’s you again.”

Gen stopped. The odd, bouncing cadence of the voice which had just spoken was distinctly recognizable. Beside him, Suika was quiet. It seemed she didn’t care.

Floating in the air a few meters before them, difficult to see as it had almost blended in with the night sky (really, it was only visible due to the lack of stars, as if they were being blocked) was a somewhat large hole in space, flying slowly over the road from the trees nearby. Gen thought it looked familiar, but wasn’t certain. He was only certain of that voice. He’d found the one who had spoken it only yesterday.

“Do you want me to set you on fire again?” He threatened, casually.

A blond head of hair emerged from the void in space, revealing that the void was some sort of sphere before the girl within spun and showed herself to be the small youkai that had tried to attack him on the Road of Reconsideration.

“That doesn’t sound great...” the youkai opined, smiling apologetically with her red eyes closed.

“That’s a shame, then,” he replied, and he released the clasp on one of his belted grimoires. Suika decided to speak up then, rather suddenly.

“Oi, oi, oi, you kidding me right now?” the oni grumbled. Letting go Gen’s coat, she stepped forward to confront the lesser monster. Glaring, one finger raised and pointed, she growled out, “I’m in too good of a mood for this stuff. If you want a fight, you’re getting a massacre. I’m an oni.”

“What’s that?” the childish youkai asked. This did not please Ibuki Suika.

With a dark smile cut along her face, eyes wide and pupils sharp, Suika brought up the claws of her right hand. Gen shivered. His new lady friend was choking the air around her, with choking too similar to the sensation of a rope around his neck. It was something humans ordinarily weren’t keen to. The youkai tree in the Netherworld, the flower youkai, and the being in the lake; forces like these were the only ones with power and emotion so strong that they had been palpable too. Suika had had a moment as well in the library, but it had felt deliberate then. It was like the gathering of strength in a fighting manga, really. On the other hand this was natural, tangible rage and – being frank – evil. It was fearful; youkai.

“Here,” Suika bid, the muscles in her arm coming to resemble a statue’s in definition, “I’ll make your body remember.”

“I—... I can handle this, Miss Suika,” he made an attempt.

“You’re with me tonight,” she answered, her tone heavy as iron and obstinate as a boar, “I’m not wasting even two minutes of my night on a nuisance.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-YFDV-5x8A ]
[Atomic Bonsai - Strife! (Homestuck) (Joren “Tensei” de Bruin)]

The hair waving behind Suika began to wave like water. In fact, he was fairly certain while watching that the girl was genuinely becoming liquid. The ends of the strands began to mist, and the air surrounding her shimmered. He swallowed, and took a step back. “This’ll take me just two seconds,” she said, and she promptly closed her fist.

There was a crack of sound before a veritable explosion of it, wind whipping around the elder youkai enough that he was sure he’d be knocked back in moments. The air that was shimmering around her seemed to break, brightly, and Gen realized he was blinded temporarily from the spectacle. He braced near the ground while shutting his eyes and waiting to regain his sight, and in a split second found that that was very difficult, on account of the earth being mercilessly, violently rocked every which way. Several more explosive sounds went off in the remainder of the second, a veritable cluster bombing all around, and he felt dirt being splashed and peppered all over him. He opened his eyes, and saw nothing. Not due to being blinded; with light fading from his eyes, he saw that he’d become surrounded by shadow.

He had a bad feeling, and so began to incant. It was then he heard a voice at his ear, happily breathing out:

“Aa~n.”

His sweat ran cold. He continued his call to the elements, but turned as well in an effort to escape. It was then he felt the pair of hands on his shoulders, holding him from behind.

“Fire Si—!” he announced, but was stopped when a third hand grabbed the front of his clothing, the powerful grasp taking hold of his coat, vest, and even his undershirt with ease. He was yanked forward, hearing a krsh just behind him, something like steam, spraying out after a distinct, hollow, snap: a pair of things fast closing shut.

Suika was pulling him out of the shade. As her image blurred past and he was dragged like a towel rather than a person, he could make her face out for only a moment, and saw that she really was rather pissed. She delivered a weighty body blow into the black mass from where she’d extracted him, and as he slipped and planted his feet beside her (still being held) he saw that the shape was bending oddly to the punch. He took a second to look over their environs, too, and was instantly reminded, with chilling effect, of footage from American riots about ten years before. Suika had set the place on fire somehow, but it lacked any of the prettiness he tended to strive for in his danmaku. This was a chaotic hellfire, completely unlike the noble flares his Master liked to produce. With black billowing sickly to the sky from burning and almost molten pits; with crippled, crackling and spitting trees falling nearby, the young human grew concerned for the first time about what it meant to have an oni return to Gensokyo.

“Wow, wow, wow!” the other youkai exclaimed, recalling her darkness like a cloak to reveal that she was entirely unharmed. She grinned with a row of wicked shark’s teeth, excited plain as day (contrary to her abilities). “What did you say you were? Ongi?”

“We’re fighting! Shut your trap!” snapped his girl, and the temperature surrounding her began to rise. It was sweltering as soon as he noticed the change.

Don’t know what that means, but I’m not liking it, thought Gen. He put his hand on Suika’s at his front. She didn’t notice.

I’d better do something before this becomes an event. We’re a little too close to the village...

Holding his partner’s hand tighter, he made a decision:


[] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.

[] He’d attack Suika to distract her, and then finish off the second youkai.

[] He’d attempt to placate the oni by hugging her from behind and pleading, in as cliché a manner as possible.
>>No. 67499
[x] He’d attempt to placate the oni by hugging her from behind and pleading, in as cliché a manner as possible.
>>No. 67500
[x] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.

Dishonorable? Please. They're a pair. A duo. Just like she reacted because they were threatening him, is he not entitled to do the same?
>>No. 67501
[x] He’d attempt to placate the oni by hugging her from behind and pleading, in as cliché a manner as possible.

Holy fuck yes please
>>No. 67502
[x] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.
>>No. 67503
[X] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.

Suika's not in the mood and we aren't either, so let's end this.
>>No. 67504
[x] He’d attack Suika to distract her, and then finish off the second youkai.

Gen first impressed her with irreverence, recklessness, and bravado that bordered on insanity- time to remind her who she fell in love with.
>>No. 67507
File 155495099219.jpg - (203.30KB, 700x560, shadow.jpg) [iqdb]
67507
[X] He’d sneak attack the other youkai to finish this quickly.


[♫ still on]

It wasn’t the easiest thing to hide an attack under the school of magic Patchouli had taught him, ruled by incantations, but it wasn’t the time to be put off by difficulty either. If this was a youkai of darkness, then he would pierce them with light—perhaps something that would burn, for good measure.

For now, he’d distract Suika to slow her down. He pulled his clothing from her grasp (tearing all three layers out from his side because she would not let go, thus leaving an awful hole), got behind her, and while speaking his next spell put his hands into the front of her shirt, through her torn sleeves.

Feeling his hands on her chest, the oni instantly diminished the heat that had been surrounding her and she screamed at him, “GEN!? WH-WH-WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

He didn’t answer, of course: he was still incanting.

The youkai who sought to attack him was also stunned by his boldness. “Wahh! Human! Isn’t that too much!?” she cried, floating before them with her arms out to her sides.

“Nun lasu la teron malfortiĝi. Fosu profunde.”

“G-Gen, let go! A-A-And stop whispering in my ear...!” Though her body had gone cold, Suika’s breathing had plainly heated up.

Looking stern, the human grabbing her continued to quickly bid the elements without any pause. The youkai before them stopped looking flustered; realizing that now was a perfect opportunity to bite into the young man.

She went ahead. He let go. Suika put her hands over her chest. One of his books opened, glowing orange. She surrounded herself in darkness. He calculated his aim before the shadows swallowed her completely.

And a hole opened up beneath him, dropping him at once. Suika, noticing his fall, hid the back and underside of her skirt with both her hands. The belligerent youkai snapped her jaws at open air, and realizing the human had disappeared she let light illuminate her again, checking for him. The falling Gen rapidly spoke a second spell, knowing his aim was true.

“Sunder! Tooth of Heaven!” he yelled, and between the palms before his stomach a hot light manifested. However, an unfortunate thing happened before the tree of evil’s bane could sprout from it.

His side suffered a twinge from where he’d been struck in the morning. He winced, and his magic missed.

Mostly.

Aboveground Suika leapt away from the hole Gen had made, surprised at the potent, silvery spell that was now erupting from it. It probably wouldn’t hurt her, but from only looking she could tell it was a kind of magic designed very specifically to harm most any youkai.

“Guess that pervert’s okay, then...” she spoke under her breath, taking her hands from her butt and slouching back into a fighting stance. “... Hn?” she grunted.

Something was different.

The youkai before them had definitely been struck, and obviously badly. On the mirrored branches of Gen’s spell were red and viscid streaks, with just a bit of glistening, gooey white. Suika noted no brain matter, so the youkai shouldn’t have gone temporarily insane or anything. She’d stopped, however: fully stopped, without even the slightest twitch. She was like a colorful figure, stuck to a bizarre tree in a bizarre way: by her head—her face, with her arms wide and her backside jutted behind like she was sitting in the air.

“Huh...” said the youkai, but she continued to not move.

Suika looked at her back, feeling a glance of something both familiar and peculiar. She lifted her gaze slowly to where the damage had been done. Where the magic had speared and torn the small youkai’s cranium asunder were some floating, crimson, bits of religious paper.

How hadn’t she noticed before?

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPBt-sMkYU8 ]
[妖魔夜行 - Scarlet Inferno (PHOENIX Project)]

“Ohh... ” the girl moaned as she gently parted from the lance. Strands from the inside of her skull clung to the bright and jagged pillar, glinting scarlet. Smoke and shadow seeped out of the cavernous wound.

The ribbon in her hair was never cloth: it was in actuality a Shinto seal.

The trace Suika had felt was familiar was the unrefined and primordial power of the night.

The youkai gave a shout: “Ah...! Isn’t this nice!?” And darkness rushed out around her, quickly consuming all light that could be, from the earth to the sky.

“Tch!” Suika spat, and she leapt away from a rapidly expanding swirl of the oldest element. She stopped her retreat, however, when a pang of concern shot through her heart. “Ahh, crap,” she muttered, and she jumped into the blind, intending to slip under the youkai before her.

“Hey, Ongi,” said the youkai from somewhere in the dark, “and human; I wanna thank you. That’s really been such a pain~.”

Come on!

To thank you, I should tell you my name.”

Suika felt around for the edge of the hole Gen had made, and saw that the shining spire was fading and splintering in front of her. She spun over the pit spread-eagle and called on her inborn ability.

A pair of eyes glowed above her.

Scatter!

The shadows parted, but not as much as the oni had wished for. Between what manifested as ink-stratus clouds, she saw the blond child’s three-fourths face grinning at her. She felt in her stomach the curdled and instantly recognizable feeling of black magic, running her through. From the girl’s arm was a jet-colored spike, stabbed directly into and out the oni’s core.

The youkai narrowed her eyes blissfully and hissed: “It’s Rumia...”

Ancient blood crawled down the spike, down to the tip where it fell in a heavy drop. In a moment, it struck the human below on his cheek, and he assumed it was some of the unburned stuff from inside the youkai he’d attacked. With his hand on his side and his gaze aimed up, he saw at once that that wasn’t the case.

He steeled his mind, and began to ready another spell.

Above, Rumia looked to her left as her eye and skull slowly regenerated, looking at her shadows stuck in the air. She noted to the oni she was spearing: “Eeeehhh? When that seal was off before, there wasn’t aaaanyone who could hold back my darkness. Ongi are...” she trailed off, meeting Suika’s eyes and showing her fangs in an open smile, “... kinda strong, huh?”

Suika gripped the youkai’s upper arm, made a fist, said, “Oi,” and smashed her knuckles against the right side of Rumia’s smug face.

With the wallop, Rumia was blasted into the woods, sand and dust rippling from the force and speed before she exploded somewhere within, presumably having hit a thicker tree or a boulder after smashing through smaller sorts. But, she did not go with her arm, which Suika had held by her nails. The arm was torn off and left as a bloody weapon stuck in the oni’s belly.

The elder youkai went to the side of the artificial hole in the earth and loosened the arm by moving some of the mass of her body that was around it away. She pulled it out, held it in her hand, and looked at the hole going through her with a frown.

It was then that Gen scrambled out of his pit, falling toward Suika the instant he saw her. His eyes were wide and pupils narrowed. He held his hands out near the new opening on Suika, gaping and obvious there.

“Su-Sui... Sui, ah—!”

Suika saw that he wasn’t able to talk. She looked at him sideways while taking a knee and still frowning.

She pointed to where she’d been impaled, and Gen watched as her body and clothing smoothly reformed. Suika gripped her stomach, and then her gourd.

“Listen here, boy:” Suika began, taking a second to bite the stopper off her gourd’s mouth (she then spit it out), “an oni’s not gonna get taken down by something that pathetic.” She then drank with her head back, holding the arm over where she’d been hurt and swallowing everything presently inside the infinite container. When she was done, she made to look at his worried face more directly, addressing him again, “More importantly, you. Did you get hurt at all there?”

Gen had to gather his thoughts before shaking his head. Suika threw the arm on the ground, the spike shape of it returning to a white-sleeved, bloodstained, child’s limb. She then pushed her hand down over Gen’s hat and head, bowing him. “Then quit freaking out now,” she said, pointing at him with her sake-holding left. “Get it together. That fight isn’t done.”

The arm in front of them turned into shadows and lost its form. The forest out ahead of them burst suddenly with a blaring, discordant sound and waves of black energy, like half a hundred malignant geysers had gone off all at once within the wood. Suika stood to her max height, and Gen followed suit beside her.

“Sorry,” she said, keeping her eye on the bleak miasma now oozing out of nature. “I got really carried away.”

Gen looked at her and held his gaze, then straightened up to stare into the building shadow. “Am I going to have to expect that a lot from you?” he asked.

“Yeah, you went and courted an oni,” she said.

“Hmph,” he huffed. He then smirked, saying, “Let’s see some of that passion in bed tonight.”

Suika’s grimace deepened, and she answered, “... I’m going to beat you the hell up in bed tonight.”

The shadows swirled in a conic shape, pointed towards Heaven. At the tip was a cross, shining red at its center.

“Well then, I ought to tell you that I hit that seal in her hair because you hit me this morning,” Gen mentioned, opening a few of his grimoires. “Hm... it was a seal, right?”

“You know why I hit you!” Suika snapped.

The sky filled with orbs of white, some half-hidden by lingering darkness.

Gen donned a soft smile and told her, “... I just can’t help myself,” before flying off to the right, his whipping coat catching her eye before slipping out her view.

“...” Suika quietly grit her teeth, not wanting to admit to herself that she felt the same. Not here. Wasn’t this serious?

She stayed put, and waited for the unsealed youkai to come to her.

Rumia drew up her darkness out of the Forest of Magic, and with it came a low hum of power, vibrating the teeth and skin. She threw her arms out ahead of her and cast it as a pall over her opponent. Suika drew a fist back, and uppercut the sky. The air thumped, and shook. With this, in the next second, the darkness split in half, then all fell away in wisps.

“Dealing with this is nothing,” Suika declared matter-of-factly, still holding her fist in place.

“Is that so~?” asked Rumia, who Suika realized was now beside her and lurching out of a stream of shadow that was falling down to the ground. Suika looked rather annoyed, and quickly grabbed the girl’s face.

“You’ve gotta...!” Suika began, lifting her arm up and tugging Rumia out of the shadow. “Respect your elders!” she shouted, and slammed the uppity youkai down with a fair fraction of her strength. The earth shook like the plates below had shifted and the girl made a crater. She bounced, and crashed back down into dirt like a ragdoll. Rumia immediately began to disperse into shade, and Suika hopped over her body, aiming a clawed hand at the child. Her shape was thus retained, and she in place along with it. She forced her head to the side to see what Suika was doing, in time to see the oni dropping her elbow against her spine.

“Gh—! Ah—Oooowww!!” the youkai yelled, for with that impact her back had broken and the ground beneath her too, fracturing like a fault. She dragged her fingers forward, not caring about the soil accumulating in her nails, and realized she didn’t feel her legs. She looked behind herself to see that her back being “broken” meant that it had broken the upper half from the bottom. Suika knelt beside her and lifted her hands to continue. Rumia looked where the oni’s shadow was being cast, and melted into it.

From the cracks in the earth, darkness flowed like a flood of water—like a wild and wrathful black fountain. Suika began to push it aside with her own power, but this Rumia had gotten either smart, or desperate. Darkness was coming almost randomly in waves, obscuring her vision as the youkai took potshots. It wasn’t a simple matter to gather or dismiss it, because it wasn’t centralized at all. If she gathered it all at once into a sphere to be disposed of, Rumia made sure to hold some shadow away for another round. She pounded the oni with the bullets she’d gathered earlier in the sky, cut at her with her power, and generally acted a nuisance: one Suika had to (angrily) admit, was formidable.

The field brightened.

In the sky, before the moon, her lover was weaving light thoroughly and beautifully. From his hands, white color was drawn out almost like the waves of old block paintings. She didn’t stop to appreciate; she pushed her hand into a nearby puddle of shadow, willing Rumia to her grasp, then yanking her out again. At this point, Suika acknowledged that the child was indeed, at the least, battle smart.

Rumia became the absence of light for a split second, enough that Suika couldn’t grab her. She hid in Suika’s shadow again, and when the oni tried to draw the youkai from the black behind her it slipped to the shadows under her feet, then to the pit nearby, out and into the woods. Suika concentrated and jerked the “shadow” out of the forest in a show of fantastic and dark wonder that gave Gen above pause, only for the youkai to dive out of the resulting void-avalanche into a crack underfoot. Gen concentrated again and maintained his light, which now danced slowly like strings in water. He was no longer able to see what was happening clearly, and so didn’t notice that Rumia had impaled Suika again: through her spine now.

The youkai spiraled out of the wound looking only two-dimensional, and she split the spike of darkness running Suika through in twain to lock her in place. From there she entered the black of the sky, and unbeknownst to Gen came for him directly.

Suika was meanwhile regularly whipped against the eyes with blindness, not even knowing what the youkai’s new target was.

Rumia swam carefully to her prey, not wanting to alert him. His light was decent, but the kind of shadow she controlled wasn’t something light could easily dash away—not if she wished that it didn’t.

It had been long since she’d had a taste of power.

It’d been fairly long since she’d had a taste of human.

She neared the side of her target, his exposed, waiting belly. She opened her mouth, and kept it open frozen as a gohei struck fast against her face.
>>No. 67508
File 155495105328.png - (878.22KB, 1536x819, not today.png) [iqdb]
67508
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPBt-sMkYU8 ]
[少女綺想曲でメタルっぽい何か - Tokushu Gensokyo (O-LIFE.JP)]

“Hey.” Reimu said, keeping the Shinto staff firm to the youkai’s visage as she glared with utter contempt. “What the hell do you think you’re doing just outside the village?”

Gen looked down at his side to the two little girls that were there. Realizing how close that had been to a dead end, he swore under his breath.

Reimu meanwhile looked at the youkai trapped against her weapon closely. Specifically, she looked at the youkai’s hair. When she heard Gen’s curse, her eyes darted to the older boy. “Don’t get upset over this,” she said. “Turns out this girl’s not someone you should be fighting.”

She pulled her gohei back, and before the angular paper tassels from its top could fall, her left arm flickered. Rumia bared her teeth in a grimace, then felt something stabbing through her chest. And her arm. And her forehead. Her chest again. Her legs... She looked down and saw needles inside of her, then became aware that she was being rocketed back.

“Don’t waste your life tonight, Gen,” Reimu ordered, and she dropped into a gap opened under her, reappearing quite a distance away and giving chase to the strange youkai.

Gen stared after her, then squinted. He blinked twice, and shook his head violently.


Down to ground, Ibuki Suika was freed from her second round of impalement, and rather irritated at the fact that she’d been so thoroughly damaged twice by a being that wasn’t an oni. Old-fear youkai like this “Rumia” tended to be like that... Simple, timeless fears gave forth to simply absurdly powerful youkai. This one had been sealed, also simply, but very effectively. When she thought about it, she wondered if even she could have undone the binding spell that was in that youkai’s hair. Only a human could’ve dealt with it, probably.

On that note, she looked into the night sky. She’d felt Reimu coming, and now there was a dazzling battle in the night sky of auras, lavender rays, glowing orbs and patterned ofuda. Darkness was there too, but Reimu seemed to be cutting barriers through the heavens, opening gaps to confuse the battlefield and generally manipulate a win here. Shadow was awkwardly severed at angles and swallowed by the tears in space. Cheating, really. Well, the human had to. Loathe as she might have been to be honest about it: Suika felt her hands couldn’t actually stop that youkai, not without killing her. That would’ve pissed Yukari off, for certain. She’d definitely forgotten for a moment but, the age of death was over.

“Hn...! Gen...” she noted the magician’s apprentice descending slowly a bit away from her and started stepping toward him, gathering the plug of her gourd with her power along the way.

Gen stopped on the ground with a start, holding his hands aloft. His back was turned to her, and she reached up, intending to tug at his coat. He spoke before she could do so.

“Hmph, that smells nice... It must be Suika. Is that you, Suika?”

“Huh?” She was puzzled, letting her hand stop aloft, fingers held awkwardly.

“Yeah, it’s Suika. Hey, look,” he said, turning and pointing at his face.

Suika felt her face going pale, and her heart sink.

Behind him, in the skies above, light burst all around to signify the close of a spell card duel. She saw the dark figure of Rumia fall into the trees, and Reimu draw a gap beneath herself again to follow. Gen, unchanged, told her plainly:

“Looks like that cheeky brat of a youkai made me blind.”

Gen’s eyes had become entirely black, glassy. Suika looked into them, and felt ice flowing through her veins.

Her mind went into a rush.

What do I do?

Wh... Why’d I let happen...!? I knew that unsealed youkai was too much for him!

Oh no no no. No, man...! His Master! His Master’s gonna be pissed!

Isn’t that perm—? No! No, sh-fu-cra—crap! Crap!!


She stood on her tiptoes and balanced by keeping her left hand on his stomach while she waved in front of his face. Gen didn’t react to her hand’s closeness to his face, but did flinch at her touch and general proximity.

Gen...” spoke Suika in a cold voice, “that was a youkai of darkness... Wh-What the heck do I d-do?”

“Whoa, you’re panicking, Miss Suika?” asked Gen with a smile, now closing his eyes.

“D-Don’t take this so lightly, boy! This isn’t like your tricky magic stuff! That’s... That’s a curse!

“Ahh...” he muttered. “Then can’t Reimu take care of it?” he asked.

Suika shook her head.

“I-I-I’ve seen that before and it wasn’t a shrine maiden’s problem to fix, I... I’ve never seen it get fixed.”

“Uh...” was Gen’s response. His humor had rapidly, entirely faded.

Suika took a step away from Gen, but now held his clothing with both hands. She looked at him while hearing her heart in her ears: incessant, loud, sickening, too troubled.

She didn’t know what to do, but in the face of that...

... she had still not completely acclimated to trying to make the impossible possible. Even after everything she’d gone through, and her life had been so long that what she’d gone through could healthily fill several historical texts.

Ibuki Suika was at a loss.

And in that loss—


[] she did the first thing that came to mind.

[] she succumbed to panic.

[] [Write in.]

++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1199367
https://gelbooru.com/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=3690155
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1813587
>>No. 67509
[x] she did the first thing that came to mind.

Oh fug
>>No. 67510
File 155502436640.jpg - (189.87KB, 634x697, image.jpg) [iqdb]
67510
[x] she succumbed to panic.

is that so~?
>>No. 67511
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.

EX Rumia?
>>No. 67512
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.

EX Rumia?
>>No. 67513
[x] she did the first thing that came to mind.
>>No. 67514
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.
Another defeat! Don't worry, you'll eventually do something Gen... After you become a youkai.
>>No. 67515
File 155542147789.png - (92.47KB, 488x486, upset oni.png) [iqdb]
67515
[X] she did the first thing that came to mind.


“Open your eyes!” yelled the oni. Her human did just that, with a stern and ready glare.

She held her hand in a claw before his eyes. When I last tried fixin’ this, she thought, a bead of sweat running down her forehead, I tried pulling out darkness, night, shadow, even “blindness”...

I could never pull it out. Whatever the stain was, it wasn’t called by any a’ those names... But what if... What if I tried to gather light back to the eyes instead? Adding instead a’ subtracting...


She frowned, and focused.

The marks on her fingers ran with something vibrant and white, swirling the unique patterns there. Out of the trees walked Reimu dragging Rumia behind her by the collar. An ofuda was tied in the unconscious and beaten blonde’s hair.

Come back!!

She extended her digits toward his blackened eyes, and the light lifted sharp and thin off of them. They swirled into his sockets and he made a face of confusion, one eyebrow lowering. She looked at him carefully, concentrating through waves of sway-inducing intoxication. She waited as the spheres in his skull crawled with bright lines, waiting to see the color in them again. When she began to—when the shade covering them began to lift off so thin she suspected it lacked any depth at all—she quickly withdrew the light into her right hand. Something like black paper began to flit out from under his lashes. Before the cursed shadow that was on his eyes could escape, she pulled it to her left hand.

Gen, who could now see perfectly, blinked and winced as he watched Suika smash her palms toward each other, the dichotomous elements between them fighting one another in a microcosmic war. She forced them into armistice, and the result was a strange object: a small, evil-feeling orb attempting to lash out from a cage of morphing light, floating in the cage that was her hands. It reminded him of a cabochon obsidian gem, but with an unstable form that the light was reining in. All he could do was wonder, Could I hold that?

“It’s done...” said the oni, not raising her head.

“Thanks!” he offered with cheer. He quickly wiped the smile off his face, however, when he realized cheer was not what his girl needed right now.

“... Hic.”

She made a noise, and her shoulders bounced. Reimu, who was fairly close now, frowned more than she was already frowning. “Gen, take care of your girlfriend,” said the little girl with a hand on her hip. She lifted the little youkai in her grasp to her side, saying “I’ll take care of this one: punish her a little more, and I’ll punish Suika later for acting out of order.” She floated away from the earth and gave him a tired look. “Haahh...” she sighed, looking to the east. “Seriously, youkai are such a pain.”

Reimu flew off, and Suika burst into tears.

“Uuuu... Whyy...? Wwwhyyyy’d I dooo thaat...? I-I-I—...” she hardly managed these words while Gen fretted before her, his hands held up and serving no purpose. Suika wailed and cried, her tears pouring down her face like twin waterfalls. Her eyes were shut, her mouth was wide, and her head was bent back. Gen felt his heart racing in the worst, most desperate way.

“Miss Suika... Miss Suika! Don’t worry about it! Like you said, you’re an oni! That’s only natural!” he insisted.

Yet she protested, “No id’s nodd! Hig... Id—Id’s not for mee...” Gen wasn’t quite sure what she meant. “You coulda been blind! You coulda been blind ‘cause of me!”

“If you hadn’t fixed it, my Master would’ve,” he assured her, slouching over the broken youkai. “And if she couldn’t fix it, even if she could, no matter what the case the fault was my own for not recognizing when things had gotten out of my league.”

“You don’ ged id!” she pointedly refused his attempt at reassurance, balling her fists. He opened his mouth to ask her to clarify, then, but she seemed to shut down. She grabbed and tugged futilely at the hair atop her head, moaning long in despair. He looked down at her almost stunned. There was some sort of nerve this whole situation had touched. He would definitely have to find out what nerve that was.

But not now. For now, Gen walked behind Suika and grabbed her under her horns. He could lift her easily, and due to her overwhelmed emotional state she didn’t even notice what he was doing. With a frown on his face and a furrow on his brow, he stomped toward The Lake with Suika before him, who continued to express her anguish into her hands, into her forearms, or into the balmy, open air.

~~

The time he took until Scarlet Devil Mansion’s gates shone dull on the evening horizon changed absolutely nothing. Suika cried the entire way as he carried her, clutching the frozen curse in her fist all the while. He was thankful, at least, that her powerful voice was most definitely acting as a ward.

“Higg... hku.... Waaahh...”

She was truly miserable.

“I’m an iddiod...”

Gen felt absolutely terrible.

Of course she’d recover from this, no person ever didn’t from a good cry (youkai or not, surely), but that he couldn’t seem to help very much bothered him. What did he have to do? Give her a hug? Tease her? These sorts of gestures just seemed shallow. This person who he was coming to love had a wound in her heart. Of course he wanted to heal it.

“...” The young man silently marched, thinking about his options.

... He came to the conclusion—


[] that he’d take her into the Mansion
----[] and sneak her into his room.
----[] and bring her to Sakuya, who was much more used to handling miserable and all-powerful youkai than he was.

[] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.
>>No. 67516
[x] that he’d take her into the Mansion
----[x] and sneak her into his room.
>>No. 67517
[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.

This time we will ask permission of course.
>>No. 67518
[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.
>>No. 67519
[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.

I suppose.
>>No. 67524
File 155655505168.gif - (3.82MB, 533x750, bringing the sky down.gif) [iqdb]
67524
>.gif
image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1979048
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/500821

++++++++

[X] that after going to the gate and handing off his gift, he would spend the night doing his best to impress her.


He approached the red-haired guard of Scarlet Devil Mansion with a strange shape in his robes. For that matter, his robes were closed up—something he never really did, even in the winter. Hong Meiling showed Gen a worried expression, asking, “Sir Gen, what are you hiding?”

“Nothing,” he lied, his face a half-obvious mask of seriousness. In his robes, Suika clung near to him, still sobbing but much less vocal about it now. The tips of her horns gave him very peculiar-looking shoulders, and as he noticed that, Gen’s mask gave away to a frustrated look, directed at a wall rather than his colleague.

“... Hiding something again,” said Meiling, leaning toward him with a hand at her chin and another on her hip. Her eyes were narrowed, but she straightened up and sighed before he could get the impression that she was angry with him. “Are you trying to bring that into the Mansion? I can’t let you do that if that’s the case, not without you showing me what it is.”

“I’ll be out again tonight,” he replied, reaching into one of his deeper pockets. “There’s something I have to do outside the mansion that I can’t do here. Tell Lady Patchouli that I’ll be alright.” With this said, he produced the iPod he had purchased and held it toward his friend. “Take this, keep it safe, and keep it secret. This is very important, Miss Meiling. Don’t let anyone find this, especially not any fairies. It’s a gift for the Mistress.”

On hearing his last note, Hong Meiling jolted into a serious posture and gave him her utmost attention. She carefully took the iPod and told him, “Understood! I’ll do exactly as instructed!”

“Thank y-hYOu!?” Gen flinched as the music-player left his grasp. He felt the claws and grip of Suika’s hand entering his clothing from the hole she’d torn before. He swore under his breath as his pulse kicked up—cursing himself for having forgotten to mend the tear.

Meiling, seeing how he wiggled to his passenger’s touch, saw that his clothes were damaged, and saw through them. A hand was moving to his back, and when it reached there it started to brush, very lightly, up and down, also thumbing his side. The human began to keel over and his face turned red. He couldn’t look her in her eye. Meiling pouted with suspicion, and he forced words out his mouth.

“I-I also have a present for Mistress F-Flandre. I’ll give her th-that my sSElf—”

He clapped his hand on his front—his passenger’s back—with some irritation. Meiling turned her judgmental eye from where his body was being exposed to his nervous and bothered face.

“S-Sorry, I’ll be going now. See y-you l... LATER, Miss M-Meiling,” he said. He slightly bowed (or, he bowed a bit more than he was bowing already), and turned to walk away in a hurry.

As he departed, Meiling looked at him confused. Whatever the second human was hiding wasn’t dangerous this time, it seemed. “Still...” she muttered, “... wasn’t that too perverted?”

She sighed again, and told herself to have a talk with him later.


[ ♫: https://picosong.com/wE8eB/ ]
[Friend - Riei Saito (Fragile ~Sayonara Tsuki no Haikyo~ Original Soundtrack PLUS)]

Gen found a quiet place a few meters into the base of the Mountain, where the Lake still fully showed itself, glittering under the moon. He sat with Suika wrapped around him, his chin on her head while he waited for her frustration to ebb away as much as it could on its own.

His hands were around her lower back, his expression was dull. After sitting in silence for quite some time, simply listening to the rustling mountain trees behind him and keeping his ear out for any incoming predators, the oni, too, became quiet, and furthermore soft and calm. Her grasp on him eased, and she moved her head.

“I’m sorry.” Her first words were a slightly warbling apology.

He muttered the spell to reset his clothing and placed a new spell onto the threads immediately thereafter. “Sui... Hm, Suika, would you allow me to speculate about your past?” he asked, somewhat blunt in his delivery. He had gathered the sensitivity of the situation, and though rationally he could see that a gentle air would give him the safest path through her tumultuous heart, his nerves were more than a bit frayed and so tact was something a bit beyond his grasp.

“Wellll, you can feel free but I’m a real old girl. There’s a lotta room there for you to speculate.” Although she chuckled with this allowance, her voice still sounded a little tearful. It was that in particular that now put him off-kilter.

“... I will then,” he said, after a little while.

“What? You won’t tell me?” She looked up at him. He was still staring at the lake.

After a few seconds he replied, “You’re here right now,” bringing his arms higher to hug the girl (and prompting her to press her face against his chest again) before saying, “and you’re with me. For tonight, that’s what I’d like to remember.” He held her with security, looking down into her hair and speaking toward her ear, “Let me remind you of that – and why you picked me – rather than whatever brought these tears.”

Suika held him more strongly again in return, though mostly she let him hold her. She relaxed into her man as if this respite, specifically here, was all that she wanted in this moment. And for this moment, he thought that Ibuki no Suika felt weak.

She lifted her head, and he leaned a bit back to look at her. Suika then asked him, very earnest and seriously: “Um, a-a-are we going to...?”

However it took him a moment to realize her implication. On the realization’s dawning, he narrowed his eyes, whispered, “Miss Suika!” and found his jaw left dropped after he’d opened it for her name.

“N-Not that I don’t want to have sex!” denied the oni in a flurry, eliciting from him a tired “don’t say the word”. “I mean, I was gonna say if you wanted that m-my heart wasn’t ready! Like, it’s my first time, and we don’t know each other that well, and—”

“Don’t worry, I wasn’t planning on doing that with you,” Gen reassured her plainly.

“D... Don’t say it like that! Don’t you want to!?” she gripped his shirt while asking this. He closed his eyes while she shook his upper body.

“Let’s table the subject of... that, alright? I can slake your insatiable lusts later.”

“Y-You...! You’re just as insatiable as I am, Gen!”

“Give it a rest,” he demanded, taking his hands from around her so he could pull out her cheeks.

“Oush... oush oush,” she complained. He bent an eyebrow while looking at her tongue and the distinct fangs within.

“Does this even hurt you?” he asked, squinting, He let her go and she rubbed her face, eyes shut.

“Small things always hurt more than big things,” she told him. He thought that... had some kind of logic.

“Anyway I wanted to see if I could impress you tonight,” said Gen, attempting to steer back to the original course.

“We really are gonna make love!” declared Suika in a hushed voice. He brought his knuckles down on her head in a brief strike. Thus: “Ow!”

He brought the hand to his chin. “‘But how do I impress a woman who must have seen it all?’ That’s what I was thinking,” he pondered aloud. “So I thought I’d do something like this.”

He held out his hands and one of the tomes on his belt flapped to life. Suika perked up and turned in his lap, seeing that he was looking out toward the Lake. Her human was speaking at length, indicating some sort of rather involved spell. The lights in the sky all glinted in too-rapid succession, and the lake’s surface shimmered with a fluttering motion. Water in the form of mist rose to form smoky, serpentine shapes above their source, and in a second the stars in the sky gave their light to reflections floating impossibly in midair. In short order, with little work, an apparent facsimile of the night’s heavenly tapestry was spread out before them in all its wide mystique and beauty.

“A simple magic trick,” said Gen with a smile. Suika did not turn to acknowledge him. “With the lake a mirror and the night’s elements so plentiful, this is a simple matter. The idea is a pretty recent one magically, though. Well... historically speaking.”

He stood, letting Suika sit down before he offered her his hand with a deep and practiced bow. Here, he made a proposal: “Miss Suika, would you be so kind as to join me in the stars?”

[ ♫: https://picosong.com/wE8ex/ ]
[I Can Understand - Riei Saito (Fragile ~Sayonara Tsuki no Haikyo~ Original Soundtrack PLUS)]

The oni from the top of the mountain, in her time, had wandered much of the world. Her wandering had even taken her, once, to the lunar sea, and the land beyond its shore. But that journey had been from surface to surface, and had taken an instant: the stars between and beyond were something she could only ever imagine seeing up close. According to Yukari, even humans in the outside world in this modern age had yet to themselves even begin to near the farther stars.

Yet there they were, just out ahead: the stars from that very same night sky; the sky which had hardly changed from the one which had once lulled her to sleep on countless evenings. Before sleep, Admiring, wondering, and drawing shapes between its points.

She took his hand without thinking, and let him lead her to a scape she’d only ever explored in her dreams: to the scape he had manifested in a way he claimed was, plainly, “simple”.

They stepped onto the lake; the magician taking the barest minimum of flight and the youkai girl walking across the surface with ease. Weaves of white and magenta began to bend and slip out the way in their presence, and speckled space—dotted white—hung all around them in clusters. Some specks were particularly bright, and she recognized them as the guides for those pictures she had drawn over and over throughout her first centuries.

“Whaa...” she breathed out, clenching his hand and looking wide-eyed at everything around them.

“I say it’s simple, but I could work a little harder to make it feel a bit more ethereal...” Gen muttered. Suika closed her mouth and was almost in disbelief. More ethereal than this?

They were stood in the River of Heaven. Amidst colored clouds from leagues away and belts of stars from further, she felt like she was falling in love.

“Now... go! Explore the night sky as you see fit!” announced her partner, pulling her forward and casting out his free hand with flair. Suika stumbled out ahead of him, eventually rising into slow steps over the glowing lake, looking out around her at everything, and being plainly taken by it all.

Gen crossed his arms and looked at his handiwork.

In actuality, he’d never cast this spell before on Misty Lake. Since his Master had generally forbid him from going out at night, even in her company, he didn’t often have the opportunity. It was theoretically simple, but he allowed himself a sigh of relief for the magic’s complete success. It was one thing to reproduce the night sky in a half-meter basin, it was entirely another to do the same on a sizable body of water. A single imperfection and he’d simply have a messy lighted fountain on his hands. He was, therefore, glad.

That Suika seemed to like it made him especially pleased with himself. I thought she might, he gave himself some praise. The way she spoke about wandering the world, I figuredthis world could catch her heart.

He smiled, and turned his gaze from his work to his lover.

I hope she really does feel better, he thought.

Suika was walking through the copied stars not dazzled, per se, but absolutely fascinated. She walked through them, touched them, and studied them in rapt attention. Looking, he saw that she was now examining Orion, putting her finger from shoulder to shoulder and down. He was surprised when she spoke up, talking to him unprompted.

“Yukari said,” she began, “‘this one is you’.”

“Eh?”
>>No. 67525
File 155655516755.jpg - (181.90KB, 1000x1491, Ibuki-douji; who once ruled.jpg) [iqdb]
67525
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZUjjGAwZY0 ]
[自由な精神 ~ To Drink From Life Itself - Maiden's Capriccio/ArmpitMaiden (自由な精神 ~ To Drink From Life Itself (Single))]

Suika didn’t explain. Her hand was held aloft and her back was turned, the only motion in her vicinity being strands of her hair shifted with breeze and the ripples in the water emanating from under her feet. He thought he shouldn’t seek clarification, and when he started to think that he should she decided to give it.

“When I was watching the new and old faces in Gensokyo, among the youkai I’d sometimes hear about the constellations. They gave ‘em names of youkai, and I was wonderin’ ‘Now when did that come about’? I asked Yukari. She said it was her.”

Suika turned halfway to look at him, pointing at the pattern now half-behind her. With a lax and easy expression she told him, “And she named this one after me, all special: ‘The Ibuki-douji Constellation’. She wanted at least my name to definitely be remembered. ‘In case you never came back’, she said.”

The oni let her arms fall and continued to reveal things about herself, keeping Gen’s close attention as she spoke of the Milky Way. “Instead of The River of Heaven, they call it the River of Kishin. She said that the oni had to have at least that much reverence. When she told me that, I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t really think about it much either.”

Her gaze turned up to the true night sky. “It’s still laughable, but not how I laughed at it before. It’s somethin’ like, do I even deserve a friend who would put me in Heaven while I’d flee away to Hell? ... I mean even now, maybe ‘cause of that, while humans may have forgot us, youkai can’t.”

She sat down on the lake, crossing her legs and slouching. “I wanna think everything’s been worth it: every step.”

She took her gourd from her side, opened it, and after drinking a few gulps herself held it upside down before her. She let the sake pour out into the lake until half a minute had passed, at which point its flow escaped gravity and began to run through the air and the stars. Gen was captivated again by the sight of Ibuki-douji surrounding herself in rivers of sake, solemnly still with a hand grasping her knee, elbow out. “‘Kishin no Kawa, from which the sake of the oni flows down to the Earth’;” she declared, her voice heavy with a sort of magnanimity. She did not budge even slightly from where she sat, and her pronouncement continued, “An oni has returned once again to let life flow from their cup. Not for a throne, but for the joy that life brings.” One final drop left the artifact’s lip, and entered the water’s surface. “Now that made-up legend is the truth: honest and fair as everything in this world ought to be.”

Her gourd empty, its contents blending into the sky, the lake, and the somewhat distant land, Suika looked over her shoulder at her human. “Thank you, Gen,” she said. “Oni have really fragile hearts... You’re a miracle for knowing how to mend one.”

Gen blushed and found himself smiling involuntarily, turning his eyes from her and knitting his brow. His bashfulness was rather momentary, however. Suika’s air had become, to his surprise, entirely different from usual with this act and vow. Though he knew it already, he stood before a King. She had abdicated, and she hardly carried herself with anything like regality, but Ibuki Suika had once swayed that distant mountain and all the youkai living on it, enough so that Kamishirasawa Keine believed her return to it would have definite repercussions, even after all this time. Furthermore perhaps in the world she’d gone to after the onis’ disappearance, she continued to rule there as well. This was the first time he had ever met someone he felt was a natural leader. As he’d thought before, this must indeed have been the air similar to Remilia’s that Flandre had felt when Suika had been observing the land. How it was different was that Remilia gathered those around her through her charisma. While Suika had a sort of charisma as well, he could tell this was not what had once made her the one all others followed.

Remilia gathered people through charisma, Suika gathered people through a commanding presence.

It was the difference between wanting to please a person, and not even having a concept of refusal. Gen, who had already sworn to this woman, felt compelled to swear again.

“Su... Suika! Um...! I know you said... you wanted me to help you... That I, at least, could do something for you most definitely,” he reminded her, feeling on edge with his every words (much to his confusion). “I... I don’t know what that something is, and you call me naive if you like, but I... I want to be sure that I can as well.” Gen met his eyes with those of the old ruler’s. “Whenever you want to tell me what that is, I swear that I’ll do it.”

To this vow, Suika smirked. She leaned a bit to her side, and gave him an evaluating stare. With the youkai surrounded by the cosmos he’d sewn around, casting shadow over her at acute angles and shone off the canine sharp in her jaw, he felt his heart swooning, “You really are naive, huh...” she said, cocking an eyebrow. “... Don’t vow to me just yet, Gen. I’ll... ask you some day, definitely. If you’re gonna promise anything, I want you to promise me this: if you don’t want to help me when I finally ask, honestly reject me, right out. Fight me if you have to. Got it?”

Gen frowned, his brow now knitting from a feeling of pain rather than elation. He looked toward his feet, hovering above the water. He didn’t like that response, realistic and reasonable though it was. It was too staid, and not something he wanted. He wanted to move her with the strength of his conviction.

“Listen, Gen... alright?” Suika started, standing on the water again and plugging her gourd back up. She turned to him fully, eyes steady despite the starlight shining brilliant beside her face. Like that, Suika told him this: “You can’t treat me like you do your Master. It’s good that you have your loyalty, and great that it’s given you strength, but I ain’t her. That spark of yours that drew me in as if it was a fire... it was the light of a man with freedom at his back and out in front of him. Okay? You got it!? A free man shouldn’t swear at another’s feet when they wanna be eye-to-eye! They should straighten up, and make their vow while they’re on the same footing, with both feet firmly planted!”

He straightened up, swallowing. Suika’s stare had turned glaring, and remained unbroken.

“So?” she asked.

And inwardly, he evaluated himself.

Itou Gen was not only a follower, he was someone who enjoyed the feeling that following and admiration gave: to Patchouli Knowledge, to Remilia Scarlet, and to any who were powerful and respectable. Relinquishing himself to such figures... he felt—no, in fact, he was certain his life was being enriched. Helping someone far greater than himself led to a fulfilling, grandiose life. It instilled him with purpose he hadn’t even dreamed of in the much comparatively dull Outside World. He didn’t question it. Following Patchouli felt like something he had to do, without regret, without reconsideration. He let himself wear her collar, and was gladly tied.

This was not how he’d formed a bond with Ibuki Suika. Though he admired her strength, he faced it as equally as he could. In the library, when a single bout mattered more than anything, with Patchouli he had been risk-averse, careful, and had gone against her while feeling loss was a hair’s breadth away, afterward wanting her strength to become his. With Suika, he never felt close to that way. With her, he had given it his all and more importantly, he had enjoyed their battle in kind. This could have been for many reasons over the year he’d been in this foreign land, changing his ways, methods, and style, but the truth was: although he admired both youkai for their power, with Suika that power hadn’t captured him and made him supplicant. Now, on this night, he’d forgotten that, if only for a little bit of time.

She was right. She wasn’t his Master. Suika was somebody he wanted most of all at his side.

With this in mind, and the light of his magic still vibrant between and around them,


[] he acted.

[] he spoke.

++++++++

The choice between just doing something to convey your answer, and answering as requested.

The stuff about Orion = Suika is not something I made up, nor are the youkai constellations or Yukari's making of them. I feel like this is a lesser known thing about Touhou considering there are only two canon references to point to and like... no(?) fan stuff that references it. Details on the youkai constellations can be found in Curiosities of Lotus Asia chapter 22 (in which Rinnosuke finds Yukari's edit of a armillary sphere with youkai names for constellations) and Wild and Horned Hermit chapter 25 (where you can actually see Suika in the Orion position, in a planetarium).
>>No. 67527
File 155655545565.jpg - (625.58KB, 995x1440, x21.jpg) [iqdb]
67527
page related, what a cutie
>Orion is too hard to see outside of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere
Magic. The stars are always there, as Star Sapphire will gladly remind. I'll just make a note here not to mention it being actually up over their heads...
>>No. 67528
Ibuki 2cute4me

[x] he acted.

I mean, it worked before.
>>No. 67529
[x] he acted.

Be as an oni
>>No. 67530
[x] he acted.
>>No. 67531
[x] he acted.
>>No. 67534
File 155678823016.jpg - (467.48KB, 1748x2480, one to one.jpg) [iqdb]
67534
[X] he acted.

“Well?” she asked, her eyes closed and palm lifted in impatience. “What’s your an... swer...”

She trailed off. By the breeze brought around him, she saw that Gen had quickly flown to her. The brim of his cap shadowed his eyes, but she could see his lips: still and solemn. She felt her heart beat, and she swallowed. He was a mere few inches away, hands in his pockets as he hovered in place. She brought her right hand a little higher, and shrank, but did not retreat.

“Uhw... wa...” she muttered.

His hand, ungloved, grabbed her right wrist.

“Hahn!”

Pulling her upward, the human snaked his right arm to her lower back, bringing her body close. He held her securely, and she heard her heart go to full pounding in her ears while she started to pant, and watched the lower half of his face.

Slowly, he brought his left hand down along her arm. Suika was certain that the heart in her chest was about to break out as his fingertips went down her skin, to her forearm, under her pit, and onto her side. Her right arm was thus rendered sensitive and held aloft while she thoughtlessly raised her left as well. Gen lowered his head so that his eyes could be shown in nearby light. He met them with hers, and she saw in them determination.

He began to float almost reclined, and Suika sat somewhat seiza on his thighs when he did. Gen held her with a bit more strength, a bit closer, and, she thought, clear and honestly possessive. With no real effort, she futilely pushed against him in embarrassment with her unmolested arm. Gen, still holding her right side, moved his hand from her back to her left, brushing underneath the arm briefly and making her flinch before he settled on her shoulder. Suika waited there, until he lifted the protesting limb from below and guided it along until it was down and aside, carefully tracing her body the whole way until he could entwine his fingers with hers. His elbow bent, he held her hand tightly and made one simple statement.

“This...”

He began to caress her side, pulling his hand lower while she squirmed.

“... is what I can do...”

He brought his palm down and over her rear, then kept his hand steady.

“... to an oni.”

While squeezing her hand tightly, he squeezed just as tightly down on her lower body.

Gen looked into Suika’s face as she bent into him overwhelmed at the force gripping her. Her right hand was pressed into his chest, scratching deeply into his clothes. She moaned and grit her teeth, shivering with feeling, and not rejecting him at all.

This was not a gesture of dominance, but a declaration of intent.

While Suika twitched in his hand, he thought about what he sincerely wanted from her. He wanted to understand her and know her, yes, but as she had suggested what he truly wanted was for them to stand on the same ground. Indeed, before she’d demanded her first kiss, he had compared Suika to any of the unreachable betters he had come across in Gensokyo, and could easily agonize over that impossible goal. That wasn’t ever the truth of his heart, however. He wanted to believe he could stand beside her. He wanted to be skilled and powerful enough that he could match her. He wanted her to watch him. He’d touched on that acknowledgement during their game of hide and seek, and he came to realize how much it meant to him—how much elation and fulfillment it brought him to resonate with another person, rather a woman.

Not only fearlessly facing powers beyond him, but being confident and sure that those powers could be made to yield, and to give recognition. To accept the other.

This ageless body that could shake mountains and shatter the sky... could be made to yield, accept, and be shared.

Releasing her gently, her body now warm and noticeably limp, he dragged his nails past her thigh and pushed his fingers into her belt from above. From there, he started to gather the hem of her shirt.

In this case, he had her not by combat, but by will, and her acceptance was shown in her inaction. With her shirt untucked, he slipped his hand into her clothing and felt her firm stomach, her smooth ribs, and the stiff bumps on her chest. As she lightly spasmed, exhaling heavily from her nose with her mouth now shut and lip bitten, he drew his thumb down from her abdomen’s center. As he neared her hips, she opened her legs.

Gen spoke a spell of water, Misty Lake below them rising to wrap them in a sphere. As he undid her belt, and the two were hidden away by the water’s turning, he never let go of her hand, keeping it beside them both. Before the water obscured them completely, the starlight shone on their joining lips, an elated smile evident on those of the small oni.

--End of Chapter 14: Gensokyo Past and Present—

========

Their longer night, can be read here (NSFW):>>/at/39675


Choice: In the morning, head—


[] up the mountain, to the Kappa Den.

[] back home.

[] to Hakurei Shrine.

++++++++

Long chapter. Longest? I don't know... Not much to comment on from me. Just keep movin' on.
>>No. 67535
[x] back home.

... Well now.
>>No. 67536
[x] back home.
>>No. 67537
[x] back home.

The cutest oni
>>No. 67538
[x] back home.

2cute4me
>>No. 67539
[X] to Hakurei Shrine.
Oni's cute and all, but i just realized we still need to check up on the shawl.

Can i ask how many days left until Patchy's deadline request?
>>No. 67541
>>67508
>[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPBt-sMkYU8 ]
>[少女綺想曲でメタルっぽい何か - Tokushu Gensokyo (O-LIFE.JP)]
oh hey, this has been wrong the whole time. Good thing I put the actual credit there
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRPmqVspfDs

>>67539
I was gonna put a reminder next update (still will) but I'll tell you 11 days remain.
>>No. 67546
[x] to Hakurei Shrine.
>>No. 67548
File 155714176696.png - (325.96KB, 700x700, Master.png) [iqdb]
67548
Wednesday morning.
Eleven days remain.


[X] back home.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLESWPUnVss ]
[Like a dream come true - Persona 4 (Meguro Shoji)]

“Gen, studying at the Mansion. Snow is going to fall.”

“Master, please; I haven’t been away that long.”

In the ancient-feeling air of the Scarlet Devil Library, a young human searched through ancient books while his Master strolled by. He was sat on a sofa, looking at the passing magician miserably. Her slippers slid to a stop, and she gazed upon his plaintive face without much expression herself.

“Is that so?” she asked. She called a book from a faraway shelf, the tome flying toward her spine-first. “Were you here last night? I don’t remember that being the case.”

Itou Gen, having no answer for himself, simply wriggled his frowning lips. Opening her book, Patchouli Knowledge strode to the other side of the couch and sat down beside him. His look turned into one of surprise, and his cheeks dyed just slightly. She didn’t often do this.

Gen had returned to the mansion in the early morning. He and Suika hadn’t spent the entire evening together as they had during their first nightly rendezvous, so with a good rest he bid her farewell before sunrise and was able to have an actual and proper bath this time, at his home, with all his things and privacy. He was looking into the subject of divinity when his Master arrived, and presently he was feeling embarrassed that his Master seemed to miss him this much.

If she wanted me around so much... she shouldn’t have given me such a long assignment, he thought with a smirk, although in full honesty he didn’t blame her. Perhaps she didn’t consider that her apprentice would do this much field work for the job.

He marked his place and closed his book to give his Master his full attention, relaxing gently in the presence of her light and flowery aroma. Her full attention seemed to be on her book, but this was not the case. As he expected, she soon addressed him (with an insult).

“Hm. Well, truant, I guess you’ve a handle on your task, huh?”

“To be honest, I’m not sure,” he replied in a bit of an apologetic tone. “‘A cloth that warms itself’... right? I was able to find something, but it’s gotten a bit complicated, and it may be totally off the mark even if I follow this quest to its conclusion. The reward might be trash... or something like that.”

The magician in lavender turned her eyes onto him.

“Ehh...? So, I should be expecting you to fail? That’s rare. A definitive first, isn’t it? I haven’t had enough opportunities to punish you, Gen, so go ahead and mess up.”

He slouched. “Don’t kid around, Master. I don’t want to know what you’d do to me.”

Patchouli chuckled. “Hmhm... But I do,” she said (in his opinion) somewhat ominously.

“Well... putting aside whether I get your assignment done or not...” Gen changed the subject, “could you help me get an Outside World tool working, Master?”

“I should be able to so long as I’m able to understand it,” she answered, putting her book page-down over her lap. “Show me.”

He gave her a “Thank you,” and reached into his coat pocket, producing the iPod he’d purchased the day before. He handed it to the Magician, who let him place it atop both of her hands. She looked down at the thing in complete silence.

“... Well, what is it?” she eventually asked.

“It’s a music player,” answered the boy.

“Music...!? But it doesn’t have a speaker or any openings for tapes... Too small for any media like that anyway, isn’t it?” Patchouli murmured. She tapped the screen a few times, testing it. “... It isn’t hollow either... hm. Hm?”

“It’s a sort of computer, just one that only works for music files,” he explained.

“I see. The magic of the Outside World has progressed again. When I was last there, the latest progression was the compact discus player.”

“Just disc, Master.”

“And what is that short for? Don’t correct me with what’s incorrect,” she snapped lightly, looking over the device more closely. “... Ah, here’s the headphone jack.”

His Master wasn’t an expert on the Outside World, but she wasn’t ignorant of it either. Patchouli Knowledge was not a native Gensokyoan, and had experience with quite a lot of surprisingly modern technology. She’d even played video games, and had enjoyed them enough to reference them in regular parlance (for instance, with how she would describe her books’ “resistances”). She did insist on referring to all that technology as “magic”... but he never corrected her on that. In fact, as far as Gensokyo was concerned, perhaps such technology was magic. He, a human, denying that would probably not bode well.

Patchouli met his eyes again. “You said you wanted my help to get it working. With something this small... I suppose it’s not a device that runs on batteries? Do you plug it in? That would defeat the purpose of such a miniscule design, however...”

“You charge it,” he explained.

“Hmph! Even that magic has become so commonplace... The Magicians of the Outside World can’t stop, can they?”

He shrugged. He wasn’t much of one for technology.

“How many volts does it take?” she asked.

“Ehh? I don’t know,” he whined a bit. Patchouli didn’t want to hear that.

“You. You gave me something like this and you don’t even know that much? Tch,” she almost spat, leaving the young man disappointed in himself. “... Look, here, it’s five to thirty volts. To be safe, we’ll power it with five...” She touched her lip for a moment, then looked at Gen. “... This is a gift for Remi, isn’t it?”

He nodded. She lifted her left hand with her fingers hanging, beckoning him with them twice. He bent toward her, and she put her hand over his hat, rubbing softly. “It’s too bad I’ll have to punish you in eleven days,” she said, “you’re such a good boy.”

“Sh-Shut up,” he complained.

“Oh?” she voiced a bit of surprise, and she stopped. “You don’t want me to pet you?”

“... No, please continue,” he requested, eyes closed and face slightly contorted with shame.

She did so, speaking again, “Don’t be ashamed, Gen, I know what it is you like and don’t mind petting you. Be more honest with me. It’s not only a trait exclusive to oni.”

He chose not to respond to that, simply allowing his ancient Master to praise and pamper him a little more.

She lifted her hand a little ways into a minute, letting him sit up once more. She then asked him, “Would you like a hug as well?”

Gen squinted at his Master, his lips slightly parted as he grimaced. Yes, he thought. He answered, “No...”

His Master looked at him smugly, lifting her chin. “Hmph, you do,” she observed. “And you know that I don’t want to give one.” The young old girl closed the book on her lap, held the iPod aloft and told him, “That’s all I wanted to see: your pathetic and honest face. Sorry, no soft Master for you.”

He almost grumbled, but settled with gritting his teeth. The elder Magician was definitely teasing him more than usual today. She addressed him one last time, to dismiss him with a small task: “Alright, go see Sakuya, Gen. She should know where we have some headphones around here... I’ll prepare a spell to give this a continuous charge. It shouldn’t be destroyed if it reaches capacity and I’m still providing a current to the device, right?”

“That sounds correct,” he told her.

“‘Sounds’... Between the two of us, this is supposed to be your field, Gen. What are you even good for?” She turned the device around in her hand, then showed him the charging slot on its bottom side. “Is this where you would plug it in?”

“Yeah, and transfer music.”

And transfer...? I don’t understand. You’ll have to explain that to me later.” With this, she stood up. He did as well.

“Okay, I’ll go find Miss Sakuya,” he declared.

“Go,” she commanded, and they parted ways; he with some regret weighing on his heart from having not boldly taken her offer.
>>No. 67549
That was so worth it.
>>No. 67553
File 155780909726.jpg - (838.31KB, 800x1242, peaceful.jpg) [iqdb]
67553
[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFtWziksPa8 ]
[New Days - Persona 4 (Meguro Shoji)]

He traveled through the halls with Sakuya’s daily schedule in mind. Although he didn’t often directly interact with his peer beyond the delivery and receipt of tasks and duties, he’d regardless spent over a year living with her in the same home. He knew where she tended to be, and she knew his locations in kind (though admittedly, it was easier to determine where the Librarian’s Apprentice might typically find himself). At this hour of the day, she would be getting breakfast prepared for the residents and staff. After that, she would attend to the Mistress, after which she would clean, organize the other maids, prepare lunch, attend to the Mistress again, accomplish any out-of-Mansion tasks she hadn’t been able to see to in the morning...

Miss Sakuya’s work was a lot more demanding than his. In comparison, between the two youkai-bound humans Gen was practically without a leash. He never considered that work too demanding for his fellow human, however. In fact, he never even found himself wondering about how much Sakuya did at all. It could have been that he subconsciously recognized Sakuya as someone perfectly capable of handling so many jobs, given her ability to manipulate time and space and her overall unshakable confidence; in reality he simply knew that Sakuya would not do anything she didn’t really want to, and what she generally wanted to do was whatever Mistress Remilia requested. He understood that very well; he’d even confronted that compulsion within himself just the night before. Besides, both of them weren’t unwilling to sass the boss now and then, and that was perhaps one of the largest contributions to their usual compliance.

In a little while, Gen stepped onto the carpet before the kitchen door. The door was actually starkly un-fanciful, as if it did not even belong in the mansion... He’d described the door to Mistress Flandre’s room as relatively plain, but at the very least it was engraved. This door was made of thick boards and bands of binding iron. Perhaps its blunt design was meant to serve as a kind of ward... After all, this was where the bloodletting for the vampires took place. He never took part in it, but other outsiders were often taken into here and prepared in tea and cakes.

... Thankfully, as far as he knew, this never meant butchering; not that the humans turned away after being bled tended to survive past the lake. Furthermore, there was Meiling at the gate... and she had no qualms consuming humans’ flesh.

... Thinking now, he really hadn’t given all of that much thought lately. In regards to Meiling, he’d also never seen or heard of her having a person as a meal since he’d arrived. Patchouli had told him that she did indeed eat humans, and the youkai herself had expressed regret that he was not to be a feast, but mostly he knew her as someone who treated humans nicely, or as challengers every so often to entertain the Mistress.

Perhaps Scarlet Devil Mansion had overstated its danger. That said, he was still rather wary of Flandre at least.

Waving these darker thoughts off, he knocked on the door, then pushed it open.

“Miss Sakuya! Sorry to interrupt! Lady Patchouli asked me to bother you!” He began by throwing aside responsibility.

In the rather narrow, but almost impossibly long seventeenth century-looking kitchen, Sakuya was drying her hands with a cloth by the sink. “Oh, Gen,” she said lightly, “I’ve just finished breakfast. Would you help me with serving it?”

Fairies flitted and floated around a line of large tables, making sure everything was in place, and many sneaking away bits of food whether their checks discovered errors or not. Breakfast was, as always, what seemed to be a yard-long spread of plated nuts and berries and other simple, foraged foods for the majority staff. In front of all this, for the Mistresses in particular, the maid had prepared for each a brisket, red wine, and a sizable muffin with a somewhat foreboding, rich and burgundy color. Close by he saw that his Master would be given deserts, that his breakfast was standardly Western, and that Sakuya’s was as well. With all this before him, he stopped at the entrance with his hand still on the door, looked hard upon the Head Maid, and asked her, “... Are you serious?”

She chuckled, closing her eyes a moment for the laugh. “Of course, I have no other answer than ‘no’,” she assuaged his concerns. “You’d maybe be less useful than fairies,” she told him, meeting his eyes smoothly.

“Silly as they are, they’re more practiced than I am, I’ll admit,” he replied, sighing in relief. “Anyway, do you know where I can find headphones in the Mansion?”

“Headphones?” she asked. “Would these suffice?” She revealed from behind her back a pair that, he thought, looked to be from the 1970s. The cans were a deep and almost blood-red, with semi-mirrored metal plates on the outside, pads that were a dark brown, and an equally dark leather strap connecting them. Holding it all together was what looked to be a sturdy and solid wire sort of frame, showing absolutely no wear on its shining surface. The cord for the jack surprised him. It was a thick and telephone-esque sort of thing, in both spiral and length. The jack itself, on that note, was absolutely massive. He’d never seen a plug so large: with its plastic casing included it was almost the size of a small finger. Three point five millimeters, it was not.

“Did you just get those?” he asked the maid. To this, she simply and pleasantly beamed, handing them over. Taking them, he saw that they were Panasonic brand, dubbed EAH-22. He addressed Sakuya again, who was now crossing her arms somewhat proudly. “Well, I don’t know much about brands,” he said, “but we’ll need something else to get these working... An adapter...” Trailing off, he squinted at nothing, then looked again to Sakuya. “Would Mister Rinnosuke even have those?”

The other human opened her eyes and tilted her head.

“Outside world things,” he clarified. He then glanced at the fairies and stealthily beckoned Sakuya toward him to whisper in her ear, “... I have something for the Mistress, but I need to do a few things to get it working first.

He met her eyes, very close to his now, with a concerned glare. Sakuya placed a finger over her lips and held for him a wink. She understood.

“I’d love to use these,” he continued after leaning back from her, gazing now at the vintage headphones’ strap in his hand. He looked into her face again and said, “Only the best quality for the Mistress.”

“I would like for her to hear some discord and noise music as well,” said Sakuya, still smiling. She closed her eyes, pointed at sides of her head from below, and explained, “To train her ears,”

Knowing her, Gen knew she meant “to see Remilia’s face, pained and aggravated from having experienced something very unpleasant.”

To this prospect he frowned and lowered his brow, but he understood the sentiment completely. “Anyway, best of luck, Gen,” his fellow said next, turning toward the kitchen tables. “I’ll bring your breakfast down to the library in just a moment. You look as though you haven’t eaten in a while.”

He hadn’t. “Thank you. Then, Sakuya—”

He nodded, she nodded over her shoulder in return, and he left to go find his Master.

~~

“Master, I found a pair, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to get these to work,” he announced upon approaching the elder Magician in her library.

Patchouli was positioned before a four-pillar stand of some sort, the surface of which was glass. Upon the stand was the music playing device. Beneath it, between its legs, were a series of four magical glyphs floating like plates in the air. On each of the legs was a page with a spell inscribed upon it—from what he could tell, each a different sort of magic controlling lightning: generation, regulation, storing, and control, he gathered. Upon closer inspection, the pillars seemed to be made of copper, and a small copper wire was coming off of one, positioned just within the iPod’s USB slot.

“That’s unacceptable. Remi will want the best quality,” she said, meeting his eyes. She looked at the headphones he’d found. “Mm, those: Remi got them about thirty years ago when she was interested in some band. She only used them once.” He stepped toward her and handed over the pair, and after examining it, Patchouli’s eyes narrowed. She scrutinized the iPod. “... I see. That’s what you meant. This won’t fit,” she concluded, pinching the jack just before her eye and frowning. She somewhat lazily gestured toward the modern device and declared, “In fact, now that I think about it I’ve never seen this size before. It would be a waste if you got another pair to fit this miniature, though...”

“I’m going to see if the store owner of Kourindou has a tool that would make it work: an ‘adapter’,” he said, standing close to her now. She looked up his way, and he thought, Cute.

“Good,” judged his Master. “This,” she looked down, pointing at the iPod while still holding the jack to her palm, “it seems to be holding a charge. Measuring its power, it’s most definitely increasing. How long until it reaches capacity, Gen?”

“Maybe, four hours?”

“Okay. Let’s have breakfast th—”

[♫]

There was an explosion in the distance.

“Again...” Patchouli growled, looking over to the source of the sound angrily. Gen looked as well, frowning and twisting his eyebrows. “The morning isn’t even done...”

Patchouli started to float to where the damage must have been caused, summoning grimoires to her side. “Go eat, Gen,” she ordered, a light rattle and roughness in her voice. “You look hungry, and I’ve already abandoned that need.”

Gen stared after her,


[] and complied.

[] and said, “No, Master; I’ll take care of it.”
>>No. 67554
[x] and complied.

I think we've been far too cheeky lately. He trusts his master and so should we.

Besides, Gen has been getting his ass kicked lately. She blinded Suika not 24 hours ago.
>>No. 67555
[x] and complied.
That's probably just Marisa.
Hopefully.
>>No. 67556
[x] and complied.

If we leave, Marisa will come in a swipe the iPod, I guarantee it.
>>No. 67560
[x] and complied.

Going to agree with the others. Gen has no real reason to fight right now, especially when Patchouli is telling him not to bother.
>>No. 67562
File 155980406266.jpg - (766.98KB, 1473x1677, high energy thief.jpg) [iqdb]
67562
[X] and complied.


~~

In a little time, he found himself seated deep into the library with his ankle at rest on his knee, meanwhile having breakfast and reading to the sounds of battle and the occasional cannon of light firing over distant furniture. While finishing his tea, Marisa fell to the floor next to him, tumbling past the table he was sitting at until her bottom stopped her at a row of books. Upside-down, she looked at the tea-sipping human.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=f8rQzDmCO80 ]
[夢じゃない何か - 縁 (Buta-Otome)]

“Gen, help me out here,” she bid.

He brought his gaze from the tome on the table up to her and, taking the cup from his lips, lifted his left hand palm-up, beginning to mumble foreign words.

Recognizing them, Marisa scrambled onto her knees. “Come on!” she snapped, barely keeping her hat on in her attempt to escape. “Help your fellow man!”

He stopped his spell to ask, “Woman?”

“Girl!” she yelled, breathing out afterward in exhaustion. At the end of her breath, her eyes went wide and she looked up over his head.

“Isn’t that enough?” Hearing his Master’s voice, Gen looked up to see the greater Magician floating high above the floor, positioned over one of the library’s taller shelves. She continued, asking, “Or, should I keep going until I’ve rendered you unconscious?”

Marisa ground her teeth together. Gen lifted his cup again and turned back to the book he was reading. “Why can’t you ever be friendly, huh!?” the girl shouted. Patchouli Knowledge spoke a long string of archaic words and threw at the girl a hail of fire. Below it, Itou Gen ducked a bit.

“Now get out!” bellowed Patchouli, pointing at the fleeing, younger magician. “If you want to come in here, use the front gate!”

“I do!” Marisa yelled in return, picking up her broom which had gotten out of her grasp in her earlier crash. Patchouli didn’t like this answer.

“Out! Get out!” Patchouli insisted, landing next to her apprentice while firing at a now-flying Marisa. When the thief turned toward her original point of entry (where, sadly, the two of them would have to fix again), the librarian stopped pursuing in order to breathe heavily. Gen looked up from his book.

“Are you alright, Master? Take your asthma medication.”

“I’ll be fine,” Patchouli answered, taking out a vial, shaking it, and heeding him.

His breakfast all done, Gen bookmarked the tome before him and stood from his seat, hands planted on the table as he looked toward his Master. “I’m feeling good, now. I’ll go check that she’s definitely gone, and without any contraband in tow.”

Swallowing the solution inside the vial, Patchouli looked narrow-eyed at her student. She steadied her breathing, and then with the vial removed told him, “Alright. I’ll eat and then get back to research. We’ll check on the music device in a few hours.”

“Got it,” he said with a nod, and he took off to where he’d first heard that explosion.

He followed the scent of burning cloth and mushrooms to more strictly adhere to the invader’s path of escape. Marisa wasn’t a constant threat, per se, but regularly irregular? One could be sure she’d show up to “borrow” books from the Scarlet Devil Library eventually. Meiling couldn’t be relied on to stop her (the guard either wouldn’t notice (due to a lack of attention or, at times, consciousness) or would be defeated at the gate), and Sakuya tended to let her in and secret her away at that. This only left the Magician and her apprentice to reliably defend the library. Unfortunately, both tended to be preoccupied, and the trespasser tended to sneak in and out rather than making an entrance with a bang. He thought, she must be rather zealous today.

After a minute or two of searching, his ear caught a peculiar and repetitive sound that brought to mind flapping clothing. Searching the vicinity, he found Marisa seated against a shelf, legs out, and hat off to be used as an improvised fan. Her cheeks were red, her eyes were shut, and she was obviously sweating. Approaching, he chose to ask, “Are you hot? That’s a shame. You should be on fire.”

“Shut uuup...” she groaned, pulling on the color of her shirt and not looking his way.

He turned his eyes to the hole that had been blasted through a wall and earth, the light of the sun bleeding into the room just a little. He stepped over to Marisa and grabbed her at the back of her shirt. “Alright, up you go,” he said, and he lifted the tiny magician from the ground, sort of dangling her out in front of himself. She was too tired and beaten to protest, let alone to resist. He began to fly toward the almost eight meter wide tunnel she’d made—the one presumably blown out by a master spark, and spoke to her. “Too bad, huh?” he began, eyes forward and on the destination before them. “You’re coming up empty-handed today.”

“I’ll just show up later,” she grumbled.

“No, don’t,” he said seriously, glancing her way. “What were you so excited about, anyway? You usually don’t blast your way into here. At most, you’ll kick open a door.”

“Actually, I just wanted to see if I could beat up Patchouli today. I was feelin’ confident, y’know?”

“What are you, a hippo?” he asked.

“It’s not like I wanted the whole library for myself, or somethin’.”

“An idiot, then,” he judged.

“That pun...” she wheezed, referring to the closeness of the two words in Japanese. “Gen, don’t make me take more damage.”

“Bah, I don’t want to hear that from you.”

“I don’t make puns,” she lied.

“Don’t lie.”

“I don’t do that, either,” she fibbed again. Gen rolled his eyes, This child...

He soon enough found open air, exiting the uncommissioned tunnel and tossing the human who had dug it out onto part of the stone path winding through the Mansion’s gardens.

He then crossed his arms.

“I guess I’ll stand here until you leave.”

Marisa pushed herself up to sit in a cross-legged position, then took off her headwear and started smacking dirt from her clothing with it, pouting all the while. Beside her, her bamboo broom rolled a bit away.

After dusting herself off, the little witch started fanning herself with the hat again, staring off to the side.

“... Well? Are you going to go or what?” he asked.

“Hey, Gen are ya busy?” she asked, still not looking his way.

“Of course I’m busy,” he said, flatly.

“Y’see,” she continued, ignoring him, “I’ve been thinking about going up Youkai Mountain.”

He noticed now that she was looking toward that distinct landmark.

She turned her golden eyes on him. “You’ve been up there, right? Take me up there,”

“I haven’t. I’m not exactly allowed to go there,” he said.

“Eh? Aren’t you a kappa’s friend?” asked Marisa, cocking her head to the side.

He explained, “The kappa don’t live ‘on the mountain’, exactly, and I’m only friends with one kappa. The rest don’t know about me, Marisa.”

“Gen! Just go with me!” she whined. He frowned.

Annoying... he thought, narrowing his eyes. Then, he glanced in another direction, and closed them. But...

I
have been thinking about going up there to see if I could find a piece of Hinokagutsuchi for the shawl. If I went with Miss Suika, Miss Keine made it sound like that would be an awful idea...

He looked toward the sky.

I know a pair of tengu now, so I don’tneed someone with me necessarily... Eh, well... but...

He looked at the child, who was looking at him intensely, and his frown began to ebb away.

Would Marisa be a decent tagalong? Or rather, if I tagged along with her, would that be good...? She can’t be harmed mortally by Gensokyo’s youkai, and she’s definitely powerful anyway...

His grimace returned.

But it’s Marisa.

After a minute of hemming and hawing, he told her,


[] “Fine, but we have to be careful.”

[] “No, girl. Now scram.”
>>No. 67563
[x] “No, girl. Now scram.”
>>No. 67564
[x] “No, girl. Now scram.”
>>No. 67565
[X] “Fine, but we have to be careful.”

Let's find that shawl piece. What could go wrong?

The thought of facing dangers and survival tone is exciting.
>>No. 67566
[x] “Fine, but we have to be careful.”

It's a golden opportunity that has fallen in our lap just like that. We know we can't take Suika there, and Shishou doesn't move so...
>>No. 67567
[X] “Fine, but we have to be careful.”

Might as well give her a chance.
>>No. 67568
[x] “No, girl. Now scram.”

This isn't even largely because I'm opposed to it, but I don't want to reward her for breaking into the Library by then immediately doing something she suggests.
>>No. 67569
[x] “Fine, but we have to be careful.”
>>No. 67577
File 156085195814.png - (473.26KB, 1105x1173, stars.png) [iqdb]
67577
[X] “Fine, but we have to be careful.”


Yesss!!” the child cried, jumping onto her feet with her fist in the air.

Yesss, let’s be careful,” he said dully. “And remember, I’m being nice here. Nicer than you deserve for this damn hole and these constant raids...” He looked behind himself at the mentioned damage, his face showing his displeasure. Shaking his head, he returned his gaze to Marisa and proposed, “I’ll meet you between the Forest and the Lake in about two hours then. Alright?”

“Alright, Gen. I’ll be waitin’ for ya!” Marisa agreed, pointing at him and beaming. She got onto her broom next, and after a wave sped off toward, he had to assume, her home.

Thus, he descended the way he came.


“... There you are. That took you long enough.”

His Master was quick to criticize his return. Still in the air, he looked back at Marisa’s tunnel, then at Patchouli standing on the floor in front of it. Pointing at the scar he asked, “Can I help at all with this?”

“You can, but I don’t need your help.” With this refusal, she began to cast something, and the words she was using told him it was, of course, an earth-based spell.

He watched as she summoned solid earth from thin air in great chunks and replaced the earth that had been vaporized, stuffing it forward all the way to, he had to imagine, the surface. When she was done the results were rather unsightly. There was now an unsmooth, large, circle of dirt left in the wall. But, it was definitely better than a hole.

“I’ll have Sakuya handle further repairs...” she said. “We wouldn’t be much help with rebuilding to Remi’s specifications. Magic in construction is quite bothersome when it comes to precision.” She sighed, she shrugged. He didn’t like the idea of Sakuya fixing things on her own, but had to admit: if his Master didn’t know easy “architecture” magic, he most certainly didn’t. The head maid would be done quickly, at least. He’d think about getting her something, or doing something for her, for her trouble.

“Gen,” his Master addressed him, pulling him out of his thoughts, “go fix the books and shelves that thief knocked over. When you’re done, you can go out to continue trying to complete your task. While you’re out, if you go out, be sure to visit the outside world shop run by that half-breed, or Muenzuka otherwise. I’ll make sure Remi doesn’t find her gift. Let’s try to get it all together by nightfall, hm?”

“You got it!” he made his affirmation with a salute and a smile. Patchouli “hmph”ed with plain acknowledgement, and they went their separate ways. He would spend the next hour repairing and organizing, and when he left for Gensokyo once more he wished his Master luck with the device that was soon to be awakened.

~~

His first order of business outside of the mansion was to go to the area where he’d told Marisa they would meet, and for this business he would stroll. He found the tyke by the Lake’s shore, sitting ordinarily, just waiting while watching the water’s surface. Yawning, he waved at her as he approached on the dirt road beside her.

“What’re you tired for?” Marisa asked after noticing him and his widened mouth.

Hm, right, I didn’t gothat long last night, he thought to himself, rubbing his chin and looking toward the Human Village for no reason in particular. Suika definitely got as much as she could from me in the time I gave though...

“... Smiling? Something good happen?” Marisa asked, looking into his face

“I’ve been busy from before sunrise messing with something,” he smoothly hid the truth from her as he continued down the path he was walking. He shrugged and said, “... Won’t tell you what it is; don’t want you getting any ideas.”

“I already know. Kourin said you bought that white music box off of him. I guess you know how to use it?”

Marisa got up from the grass, dusting off the back of her dress, He eyed her strangely.

“‘Kourin’...? You mean Mister Rinnosuke?” he asked.

“Kourindou’s Kourin!” answered the girl with pluck, grinning, winking, and pointing halfway to the sky.

“Huh. So he told you? Somehow, I didn’t peg him for the type to talk about what his customers bought.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘cause he didn’t,” Marisa answered casually, and he shot her a narrow look. “I noticed he didn’t have it,” explained the shorty as she moved to intercept Gen on the path, “and I figured if anyone woulda taken it, it’d be an Outsider who knows how it works. A little box of music doesn’t seem that useful so don’t worry: I’m not gonna try ta take it.”

“I... guess I could see that not being of interest to you,” he replied, shaking his head and trying to ignore how she’d just tricked information out of him. “Well, you better not. I’ll step on you if you mess with it. It’s a gift for the Mistress.”

Reacting somewhat over-the-top to his threat, Marisa suddenly jerked away from him with her arms raised in fear. “Step on me!?” she cried. “What am I, a bug!?”

“Some sort of pest, for sure,” he said, stopping now and putting his hands in the pockets of his robes. “Anyway, are you ready? Let’s start heading up the Mountain.”

“Oh, awesome! You’re pumped up too, huh!?” answered Marisa excitedly, her hands that had been opened from “shock” now closing with zeal.

“I... no, not really,” he told her. “I wasn’t kidding: we have to be careful as can be, Marisa. You can survive no matter what happens; I, on the other hand, am screwed if we run into a bad situation and I can’t convince people I’m a native. Master doesn’t know I’m going here, either, and I’m pretty sure she’d chew me out if she knew...”

“Don’t worry! You can leave everything to me!” said the girl, hitting her fist into her chest.

“I really can’t,” said the young man.

As a matter of fact,


[] I’m going to have to be at the very top of my game here.

[] maybe I should touch base with Aomu.

[] maybe I should contact Hatate.

>>No. 67578
argh

all three of those are very good and intelligent options and I kinda want to do them all
>>No. 67579
[X] I’m going to have to be at the very top of my game here.
>>No. 67580
[x] maybe I should contact Hatate.

It's her home territory, the presence of her will likely allay other suspicions if she vouches for Gen, she maybe shouldn't write on him directly but Marisa will definitely be a chatterbox and that might be good for her personality to follow along with.
>>No. 67581
[x] maybe I should contact Hatate.

I felt bad for her last time.
>>No. 67582
[x] maybe I should contact Hatate.

gib birb
>>No. 67583
[x] maybe I should contact Hatate.

Yeah she deserves a story of some sort, or an interview or whatever.
>>No. 67584
[x] maybe I should contact Hatate.
>>No. 67585
[x] maybe I should contact Hatate.
>>No. 67586
[X] maybe I should contact Hatate.
>>No. 67611
File 156265581535.png - (666.07KB, 637x900, scare crow.png) [iqdb]
67611
[X] maybe I should contact someone.


Aomu? No. She’s already warned me a bunch about palling around with her too much out in the open, and I think I still need to recharge my good will points lost from having her help me out with the Spring Snow Incident.


Beside him, Marisa whined that he needed to hurry up, and what was he doing? She started pushing at him, at the left of his hips, while he stared at the sky at a rather fluffy, rather large cloud, and continued to think.

... Considering everyone in the mansion figured out what I was doing around the mountain last time, maybe I should limit the amount of people who’ll know about this... Well, then again: thiswill seriously be dangerous.

How about that other tengu? Hm.... she’s probably watching me now, right?


Marisa had her back against him, her shoes’ heels digging into the earth as she tried to push him on with the meager weight of her pint-sized body. Still hardly jostling, Gen fished a certain scroll from one of the inner pockets of his robes, and made to unfurl it.

“Wait, wait, what are you thinking!? Don’t put that in writing!”

The pair of humans looked up to find a short-skirted, twin-tailed tengu. Himekaido Hatate had her hands raised, palms toward Gen, and she was panicking.

Below, Marisa blinked at the youkai after staring at her with her mouth slightly agape. She promptly shoved her hand under her hat, withdrew her signature magical furnace, and aimed it fast at the crow.

“MASTER SPARK!!” she shouted. The device glowed, whined, and wasted no time firing off a gigantic, sustained beam of ice-colored magic, absurd in power. Gen almost fell from the force of the blast’s initial eruption, and he had to squint to the light it produced, His clothes rippled as if he’d been caught in too-strong a wind, and his ears nearly deafened from the bassy hum of the spell. When the laser had finally shrunk to a thin line, he looked up again, spotting a large hole in the cloud he’d been watching before. Hatate was nowhere to be found.

“AAAAAHHH!!” There was a scream. He looked toward one of the small rivers flowing into the Lake, noting:

Ah, there she is.

Down in a heap of her knees, thighs, and calves, Hatate was shaking as if an earthquake was going on. She was looking at the damage the cloud had received. “Eeeek!” she screeched. In her hands, her “camera” (phone) was out and extended toward the sky, and her hold on it was as unstable as the rest of her body. “NO NO NO!!” she refused the situation. “ISN’T THAT WAY TOO FAST!? D-D-D-D-Don’t DO that!!!”

“She dodged it, huh,” Marisa said with cool delivery. She tossed up her mini-Hakkero once and caught it with a swipe as it fell, aiming it again. “This time I’ll use Stardust Reverie...”

Gen, wearing a severe and somewhat bothered expression, punched down on the top of her head before she could fire. She dropped her aim.

“Gwah! Gen!? What are ya—!?” she complained. When she lifted her head, he grabbed her face, pinching and stretching out both of her cheeks. She continued to protest, breathily saying, “Gen! Shtop thaht!”

He heard Hatate shouting. “Stop that wildling child! She’s a menace!”

“Tenghu chalking abouch menashe. Don maegh me laugh.” Having said this, Marisa held up her mini-Hakkero again.

Rambunctious... he thought, and he let go of her face to grab her around the sides of her torso.

“Haha!!” she laughed from the feeling; he lifted her up and chucked her over his right shoulder, patting her butt over her skirt twice.

“Thank you, Marisa, but I was actually going to call this tengu,” he explained.

“Huh! You know a tengu too, dude?” He was surprised at how readily she accepted this. He felt her hand on his back as she contorted a bit to speak partway toward him. He turned his neck to respond. She said, “Don’t you get around!”

He replied, “Hmmm... kind of, huh?”

“Gen, you really shouldn’t have tried to write to me...” Hatate chastised him at a distance. He looked at her while readjusting Marisa. She recognized the scroll fast... he observed.

“That’s what you were saying before Marisa tried to hit you with a magic cannon,” replied the novice magician. “Why?”

“‘Cause I’ll get in trouble, stupid human! Stupid human! Humans aren’t allowed on the Mountain, you know!!” she cried.

Wait, that attitude isn’t kappa exclusive? I mean, I know I’m not allowed on the mountain, but tengu get in trouble for helping humans on the mountain, too?

He sighed, and lowered his bushy brows while staring, exasperated, at the Sun’s reflection on the Lake. Like this, he muttered, “... I should’ve just gone to Aomu. Guess you’re useless, then?”

“What the hell!?” squawked the crow.

Marisa caught his attention with a comment, saying, “Oh? You were gonna try to use her to help us up the Mountain?”

“Aye, ‘were’.”

“Human, quit making fun of me,” Hatate said with her arms folded and eyes closed, still ingloriously sat in the river. The pair of humans put their attention on her. “Aoumu... Aomu... Is that a kappa!? Sounds like a kappa name... Tengu! Tengu, Gen! It’s TENGU that are good at sneaking around, you know!”

“Oh, so you’re gonna help?” the pair queried in unison. At the sync, Hatate flinched, and leaned back.

“Of course I’m gonna help, you blockheads! I’m not gonna let Gen die when I just got him to make a deal with me!” was her fervent answer.

“Super. I guess you were listening in so I don’t have to explain anything,” Gen said as he walked toward her, his eyes set on Youkai Mountain; over his shoulder, Marisa seemed to have gotten comfortable. As he neared the tengu, he looked to see her red-faced and plainly ashamed.

“I mean, I don’t like listening in or anything, I prefer being upfront, and if I get any pictures with thoughtography I consult the people in the images for consent of use and...” she muttered a stream of apologia, unable to meet his eyes.

“Thought-what?” was his only reply. She flinched, met his confused eyes, and shook her head. Her hands were raised strangely—as if she was not sure what to do with them.

“O-Ohh? You don’t knoww? Theeen, I-I’ll have to tell you later!” she stammered. Gen’s concern became more obvious.

“... Is this some sort of perverted voyeurism?” he voiced his concern. “... Though, I suppose that description is redundant.”

“There’re children preseeent,” sang Marisa at his back.

“It’s not usually perverted!” snapped Hatate. The pair of humans weren’t pleased with this answer, and put on worried faces. “Stop worrying about it! Trust me unequivocally, you know-nothing humans! I’ll be your guide, okay!? Now shut up, s-sit down, and take my lead!”

Gen sat down.

“Stand up!!” Hatate screeched while doing so herself, her arms straight and down at her sides, hands in fists and almost ninety-degrees out. Gen sneered with light provocation, and chuckled. On his shoulder, Marisa sniggered.

“I hate you two. I’m going to go back up the mountain and die,” said Hatate with a hollow voice and empty expression. Gen stood and bid her not to worry.

“Enough teasing,” he told her, patting her on the head with his free hand. He pointed to the mountain once called Yatsugatake. “There! Let’s start our journey emboldened!”

Marisa cheered a vigorous “Oohhh!!” and rose a fist. Hatate, meanwhile, also rose a fist. Weakly. Not even above her head. The crow tengu girl gave an apprehensive “O-Oohh...”, while her wings drooped toward the ground, and her posture slouched.

~~

[ ♫: https://picosong.com/wKfCg/ ]
[Suddenly Refreshing - Atelier Ayesha ~Alchemist of the Ground of Dusk~ Original Soundtrack (Daisuke Achiwa)]

“And what Mister Bear, had to tell me
Was ‘Young lady please, don’t run off now!’”

Sutakora sa~ssa~ssa~no saa~!
Sutakora sa~ssa~ssa~no saa~!


“You two, you realize you’ll have to stop singing when we get up to the foot of the mountain, right?”

While the humans laughed at the absurdity of their choice of song, the tengu guiding them looked tired. They were walking through the preamble forest that separated Misty Lake from the foot of Youkai Mountain, Gen still carrying Marisa over his shoulder.

“You should drop the little human, too,” noted Hatate, slouching and pointing. “Why are you carrying her, anyway?”

“Hm, I got used to it,” said Gen. He turned his head to look toward the little girl in question. “How about it? Should I drop you?”

Marisa shrugged.

He—


[] put her down.

[] kept her on.


++++++++

image sources: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2962785
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1711503
That song is real. It's called Mori no Kuma-san (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwatp0BlvLM), and it's a translation of an American song called The Other Day I Met a Bear.
>>No. 67612
[x] put her down.
>>No. 67613
[x] kept her on.

qt
>>No. 67614
[x] kept her on.

Obviously.
>>No. 67615
[x] kept her on.
>>No. 67616
[x] kept her on.

Of course.
>>No. 67617
[x] kept her on.
>>No. 67618
[x] kept her on.
>>No. 67619
[x] kept her on.

Illusion of choice.
>>No. 67620
File 156349526768.jpg - (226.54KB, 850x1555, __ibuki_suika_touhou_drawn_by_sparrow_xici9527__sa.jpg) [iqdb]
67620
>>65548
full image, way late

I'll be updating stuff soonly
>>No. 67621
this track
>27. ぽるた~がいすとの暇つぶし.mp3
from Thread 2 had a weird pop at the start. Reuploaded. Has a few fizzly sounds in it too for some reason, but I can't do much about that so f it.
>>No. 67622
File 156385414834.jpg - (576.03KB, 1650x1994, humans; not even once.jpg) [iqdb]
67622
[X] kept her on.


[ ♫ keep it up]

“Haaahhhh...” the Tengu sighed. “Why are you trying to go up the Mountain anyway, Mister Itou?”

“I’m—” he started, but realized hiding the truth from Marisa might be better, and stopped himself. If Marisa thought he was merely being kind, then she could feel like she owed him something. To make his sudden cutoff seem a bit more natural, he changed the relevant child’s position on his shoulder a bit and muttered a generic, Japanese grunt, following with, “I’m helping the brat.”

“Hey.”

“The thief.”

“Hey!”

“The...” he thought for a moment, tilting his head, “... general belligerent.”

“The heck?” was Marisa’s last reply.

“Then, Miss Kirisame, what is your business?” the crow asked next.

From behind Gen’s head, Marisa responded, “You kiddin’? Gen might trust you, but I just met you eight minutes ago. You think I’m gonna tell a Tengu what I’m planning? So you can spread it all over through your nasty papers?”

Gen thought that was rather fair. Ahead of him, Hatate looked like she was fuming.

“I don’t wanna get in trouble over you two! Why would I let on details that only I would know!?” the crow shot back in a shrill whisper, red-faced with fists balled at her side and her shoulders raised. “You! You should be ESPECIALLY careful! You’re, like, totally delicious-looking! Between the two of you humans, you’re the one the others on the Mountain would want to eat first!”

“You too?” Marisa asked, looking (or so she seemed to be, from the movements Gen felt).

Himekaido Hatate, slouched now, turned her head a bit quickly, revealing her agape mouth and the drop of drool now falling from it. With a disturbing, desperate, and almost exhausted kind of eagerness, she answered, “Yes!”

“Well, you wouldn’t be wrong; I’m real tasty,” answered Marisa without missing a beat. Gen, still not used to the idea of humans being eaten by other intelligent creatures, could feel his face going pale. He still trusted this Tengu, as he believed her when she said she wanted to report on him—as if he were her pet project—but the thought of her eating people... children, especially, was disquieting to put it lightly.

The youkai wiped off her lips with the back of her hand. “Then again... though we could get away with kidnapping you since you’re not a villager, but it might still cause trouble so maybe it really is Mister Itou who’s in more danger.”

Gen’s mood soured further.

Hatate straightened her back and turned her upper body somewhat toward him, thumping her chest and smiling as she declared, “But I’ll protect you!”

“Protect the child, too...” he insisted. The child started absently hitting the end of her broom against the back of his pants.

“We’re just about there, so you two be quiet,” the tengu commanded, putting on a stern face before she turned back to the mountain. Gen glanced at Marisa’s back.

“Keep your eyes peeled,” he said, quietly.

The way her body moved, he could tell she’d nodded.

They were approaching the Great Youkai Forest now, and so the bright morning sky was being threatened more and more into hiding by the packed-together trees. He’d always avoided it... Even with Suika, he hadn’t braved the place. Though he didn’t want to, he began to become worried.

Aaagh... Which is better? To calm down, or keep myself on high alert...?

[♫]

I wonder what Marisa wants to do here... Probably find rare ingredients? I don’t think even she’d barge in on a youkai’s home to steal from them...

Man... Maaan, I’m getting nervous...

I wish Miss Suika was here.


“Oi, quit squeezing my side so hard,” Marisa whispered, and he realized he was indeed grabbing at the side of her shirt. He relaxed his grip. “Nervous?” asked Marisa.

He nodded. The forest grew darker, and the soundscape... unique. He was beginning to hear things he hadn’t heard before, things which sounded less animal and more alien. As a bead of sweat crawled down his forehead, he tried to focus on the sounds of his and Hatate’s footsteps, trudging through the leaves.

“Try not to let it slip,” Marisa urged, and he was surprised to hear that. He lifted his eyebrows, and for a moment he stopped. “More than anything else, what a youkai wants from a human is their fear. Hide that, and you’ll piss them off. They won’t notice you either.” She pat his back with her left hand. “You’re a magician. You know what that means, right? Now, show it.”

Gen indeed knew what that meant. He continued forward, after the tengu guide.

The guide stopped shortly after, however.

He listened to the wind make a vain effort to pierce the forest canopy. It was dark, now.

“It’s hard to hear,” Hatate mumbled, and in the next moment a turning gust was left in her place, violently casting aside twigs and other fallen things. He narrowly avoided the mess and, looking up, saw that she must have gone above the trees.

“Tengu can hear things on the wind,” Marisa explained with a hushed voice. He knew that, actually.

He waited for a while after, until Hatate returned with a report.

“So like, there’s nobody around straight ahead, or to the left from here. Like, West?” With one hand on her hip, the crow pointed her other hand where she meant: his left. She dropped that hand to its respective hip and lifted her left leg, standing perfectly still on her one-toothed geta. “But to the straight ahead is—”

“The Untrodden Valley,” Gen completed the sentence. Around there was one of the main living spaces of the kappa.

“Oh yeah, you’ve got a kappa friend,” Hatate noted with recollection, lifting her chin slightly. “Of course, it’s just one friend, so... Well, we’d stop before getting anywhere close, and change direction.”

Yeah, I’m not the most eager to risk myself there again.

“I don’t know about to the west, though. I don’t know everything about the mountain, and nobody’s talking about it right now.”

He thought about it.

“... Well, let’s—Mh!?”

He made a noise of discomfort as Marisa prodded his butt with her broom, making him leap for a brief moment.

“Hey. It’s my call, you’re just the taxi aren’tcha?” Marisa reminded him. He grit his teeth, glaring at her bottom. Marisa wiggled, thinking. “Kappa straight ahead, right? And somethin’ unknown to the west, hm...”

The two older persons present waited for her call. It eventually came as she silently “snapped” her fingers (only doing near the motion for it, but producing no click).

“Aight, I’ve got it!” she said in a more excited whisper.


[] “To the west!”

[] “Straight ahead!”

[] “To the east!”
>>No. 67623
[x] “To the east!”

The youkai will never expect it
>>No. 67624
>>67622
oh yeah,
image source: https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=72638005
>>No. 67625
[x] “Straight ahead!”

Marisa did get along with Nitori. At least before they changed the kappa from shy youkai who wanted to be friends with humans to haughty technocrats.
>>No. 67626
[x] “To the east!”
>>No. 67630
File 156506917492.png - (355.90KB, 800x945, hm hm taking charge.png) [iqdb]
67630
[X] “To the east!”


The two young adults answered in unison:

“No.”

“Weren’t you listening?”

“Are you stupid?”

“If you know a kappa, Mister Itou, we should just go that way for the safest option.”

“Aomu lives in the Genbu Ravine, though, so...”

“To protect her rep, should we go west?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Then let’s go west.”

“Hey, hey!”

Marisa had had enough.

“The heck aren’t you listening to me for!?”

They looked at her with concern.

“Oh, come on!” she snapped, lifting her right hand, palm to the skies. “What’s the problem?”

“We’re trying to avoid other youkai,” Gen said.

“Let me stay ahead, ‘kay?” bid the Tengu, and he nodded. Marisa grumbled with irritation, mentioning a sad lack of spontaneity, but they moved on despite her complaint.

~~

[♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_YyPsGp3tM ]
[Limited Time - Final Fantasy IX OST (Uematsu Nobuo)

Gen’s objective was the mountaintop. More than anything else, that was his primary concern. Thus, while carrying the little magician girl over his shoulder, he mainly stayed in his thoughts, ignoring much of what was around him. There was opportunity all around, of course: for magic-potent ingredients. However, if he was going to go all the way to the top of Youkai Mountain to see about getting a piece of a god... he couldn’t just wander up. He needed a plan. Plans.

That said, he was carrying that girl. As he was doing so, she nudged the side of his skull with her elbow. He turned his head, and she directed his line of sight to a lush, green, vaguely warped... root(?) emerging from wet-looking soil. He withdrew his gathering knife, knelt before it, and set about extracting the plant.

Regardless of his intentions, he was following Marisa’s cues to collect ingredients. It worked out for the both of them, at least; he had no doubt they would share and examine the items after their business was done. If she wasn’t planning that, he’d simply challenge her to a spell card duel and beat her down for his share. Hopefully. Really, the only issue he had with this system was that Marisa, with her eyes aimed behind, usually had him returning to where he’d already walked when she spotted something to find. This said, he wasn’t planning to gather ingredients today, so at the least he lacked a sizable limit.

... He could imagine that Marisa had brought a sack. Hopefully not. Hindrance wasn’t what either of them needed on this mountain.

Hatate kept an appreciable distance out ahead of them, often checking her phone (camera), though he didn’t know why. “Thoughtography”, was it? He didn’t know the word, nensha. Maybe it took pictures of people’s thoughts...? That could be a convenient second way of gathering information, and possibly more accurate and less colored by rumor as well. Then again, that device had been made by kappa, not satori. Come to think of it, were there satori on the Mountain...?

... Ah! I’m getting distracted...

He pulled out the strange plant and put it in a brown pouch on his belt. Marisa, satisfied, rested her chin against his back. She was too comfortable... He may have been singing before, but that was on the outskirts. He was serious, now; the Mountain wasn’t a joke.

... Well, he wasn’t serious enough to put her down, though.

While he stood, he spotted Hatate rushing above the trees into the sky again. It was thoroughly dark at this point, as if night had fallenm but... of course it hadn’t. This wasn’t the Forest of the Lost, it wasn’t so easy to lose a sense of time and place. After a few seconds, Hatate returned, looked their way, and pointed down some sort-of path.

All in all this was proving to be a good choice. Aomu might have been able to help, but that kappa map-device she had only detected the presence of other kappa. Maybe she knew of a different device for different lifeforms, but as it stood a tengu was probably more reliable.

They trudged along for a while longer, until Gen’s storage spaces were full. They could all hear a river close by... There, they stopped, and Gen sat on a fallen tree while Hatate stood close by, fiddling with her camera-phone and occasionally heading top-side to get the lay of the land.

“Wanna come down yet?” he asked Marisa.

“Put me on your shoulders later.”

Really?” he asked, smiling with disbelief.

“Yeah,” she answered, and with this she wiggled off of him, patting her stomach of warmth and wrinkles. He thought her cute, which bothered him. The little brat was charming; perhaps that was a big reason she hadn’t been grievously injured, kidnapped, or slain in Gensokyo despite not living in the Human Village. She’d told him that she’d left it when she was even younger than now, to live all her own in the poisonous Forest of Magic. He could imagine charm serving her well, especially to more intelligent youkai. For the more violent types, that furnace of hers would serve anyone well.

“Let’s see what we’ve got so far,” Marisa continued, squatting down in front of him.

“Nah, this isn’t the place,” said Gen, slouching and brushing warmth and wrinkles from his shoulder and sleeve.
“We’ve still got a long way to go.”

“Oh? How far were ya plannin’ ta go, Gen?”

Ah, shit.

“Well, if I’m here with two strong companions, I may as well make the best of it,” he responded smoothly.

“Pf, that’s how you lie Gen.”

“Eh?”

Wait, what?

Gen blinked, attempting to not make it apparent that Marisa’s callout had affected him. He slowly started a response with, “... I don’t know what you’re—”

“Patchouli wouldn’t let you onto the Mountain this early, you decided to go with me despite that? Sakuya is Remilia’s dog, and Gen is Patchouli’s. You’d have to have some big reason to head up Youkai Mountain if that’s the case—not for ingredients or anything.” Marisa pointed at him, a casually smug look worn upon her face. “Prolly, the reason’s something like: Patchouli herself. She gave you a job to do, and you think doing it means you need the Mountain.”

Gen couldn’t prevent a cold bead of sweat from crawling down his cheek as he sat like a statue, staring sternly at Marisa.

“If you need to get up the Mountain, then you need someone like me to help, right?” With her evaluation complete, she delivered to the older boy a powerfully sly grin. In a quieter voice than even before, she whispered to him: “You: you’re too obvious, Gen.”

“Sh!” Hatate shushed them.

Gen was annoyed by Marisa’s deduction. Was he indeed that obvious? Even if he tried to refute her at this point, the point was that that was what Marisa thought: that the two were on this Mountain out of mutual benefit. She had no reason to feel as if she owed him a favor, in that case. At the very least, if he asked for something then compliance was fairly unlikely, and in either case that killed some of his plans outright,

He slouched further, and held his head with one hand. Meanwhile, Marisa looked up at him, still with deeply pleased self-satisfaction.

“... I think there’s something nearby, but I don’t think he or she’s a youkai,” said Hatate. Gen gave her his attention. “What do you think? I’m not sure what to do, uh... I haven’t actually talked with many youkai or anything outside of the Tengu Village either or, well... I haven’t talked to many Tengu much... More like, I don’t... communicate.” With these words finished, she looked absolutely dejected.

Slowly, she started up again, “... We can start to ascend up a road full of flowers most youkai don’t like, soon. But, if this other person is still around that won’t matter.”


Gen answered:

[] “Go check it out a little closer, tell us what it is.”

[] “Let’s wait until they leave.”

[] “Let’s just go, we’ll just stay quiet. I think it’s better to not risk others showing up while we know only one is around.”
>>No. 67631
[x] “Go check it out a little closer, tell us what it is.”
>>No. 67633
[X] “Let’s wait until they leave.”
>>No. 67634
[X] “Go check it out a little closer, tell us what it is.”

She's practically the leader of this exploration party and she should feel proud of herself for that.
>>No. 67636
[X] “Go check it out a little closer, tell us what it is.”

She's our guide, so she has to be the one to deal with encounters like this.
>>No. 67639
[X] “Go check it out a little closer, tell us what it is.”
>ywn have Marisa ask you to carry her on your shoulders
Feels bad, man.
>>No. 67641
FACK IT'S BEEN TWO WEEKS

sorry, no excuse really. I actually was on vacation last week, even. I guess I work best when I'm not in my house? That ain't good. Update soon
>>No. 67642
File 156637679019.jpg - (1.66MB, 1000x1500, ara.jpg) [iqdb]
67642
You can open this image when the song is linked. Otherwise, you'll spoil it!

++++++++

[X] “Go check it out a little closer, tell us what it is.”


“Geh.” With this noise, she made an appropriately upset face to match. She slowly turned her gaze to where, presumably, the other in the forest was, and muttered, “Fine...”

She vanished, leaving a flurry of leaves spiraling upward from where she’d stood.

Marisa began to speak up, and he looked her way as she did. She said, “What do you think it i—”

Hatate returned with a panicked stare, standing before both of them pale-faced and shaken. Gen already knew her to be a jumpy youkai, so he was not particularly concerned by this appearance. Marisa, on the other hand, was simply bolder and so was similarly unconcerned.

Hatate parted her lips, her jaw trembling slightly. In a wispy, whispered voice, she said, “It’s a god of misfortune!”

Marisa stood up. Gen froze.

“Y-You saw it!?” Gen hissed, trying to keep his voice low. He got up as well, though kept down to Marisa’s height.

Hatate, with a sorrowful face, nodded.

“For now, go over to the Shrine Maiden and have her bless you,” Gen instructed, giving his potions, papers, and poultices a once-over. “You’re fast, aren’t you? Go! Don’t waste time! She’ll listen to you, especially if you pay her!”

Hatate disappeared once again.

“Dang, just what we don’t need...” muttered Marisa, checking her things in her hat and dress as well.

“I have a way to contact the tengu, but...” he trailed off, frowning. She didn’t want him to use that means to contact her concerning the Mountain. Would she be able to find them again...? He closed his eyes and thought. Most likely, she’d wager where they were given where people weren’t, and it wouldn’t take her long to search for them at least. It was risky to move on without their guide, but it was more risky to have a cursed guide guiding them.

A god of misfortune... huh?

Sometimes benevolent, sometimes malicious, in either case inherently dangerous through mere presence; it was in the name, gods such as these brought on ill fates. Disaster, plague, accident, folly, tragedy of any kind could be caused by witnessing them or being too near to them. Obviously, humans sneaking up a mountain of youkai wouldn’t want any encounters with gods such as that.

We need to be able to hear if anyone’s coming so... let’s keep away from that river, enough that its noise is gone.

He looked at Marisa, who looked back, and he moved his head toward the direction he thought best. She nodded in agreement, and spread her arms. Gen slanted his mouth and drew his eyebrows together. Lifting her up from her waist would be cute, surely, but they’d make too much noise as he tried to maneuver her onto his shoulders. It wasn’t a bad idea to carry her, however: there’d be fewer footsteps, and Marisa was light enough that the weight of his steps wouldn’t change much from having her on top of him. He slouched and pointed his thumb at his back. Getting the message, Marisa moved onto him, he secured one of her legs, and they rose—slightly taller and ready to continue.

He carefully made his way, though irritatingly he had no way of knowing where this way would lead. That was what a Mountain-bred companion would have been for... In fact, maybe he could head back and toward the Genbu Ravine...? It could work, but the knowledge that it could not work (via stumbling across some youkai wandering what paths they’d taken to get here) gave him pause. For now, he’d take a page from Marisa’s book and be a little brash. Hatate wouldn’t be away long, he was sure of that.

To speak of Marisa though, she was now entirely at the ready. Her broom was firm in her left hand and her magical furnace was poised in her right. Though Gen could not see it, she was keeping an eye on wherever he wasn’t (or at least, she made her best guess based on where his head turned). Gen continued to keep the child sat against his neck safe with his hold, while his free hand was ready over the latch of his most versatile spell book.

They did as he’d planned, Gen walked on an incline, keeping quiet and keeping aware. Keeping an eye out, hoping to avoid any unfortunate surprises.

Just once, he thought, let me have an outing somewhere new without encountering something mad.

He smirked to himself.

Well, my first outing to the Forest of Magic largely went well, though.

... Hm? Something smells nice... It’s not Marisa is it?
The girl usually just smelled like wild grass and the Forest.

Before he entertained the notion of checking, something lightly pushed into his face. And Marisa’s. They both scrunched up said faces, and flinched.

It’s too damn dark in here! How’d I miss uh—whatever this is?

He put his hand to whatever it was from beneath and tried to examine it. It felt weak, loose: quite strange indeed. He could tell at least that it was definitely a plant of some kind.

... Willow? No, that doesn’t make sense, not the right biome.

Is’t wis... wisteria...?


He pushed ahead, moving aside the foliage, and he stepped onto what seemed to be an actual path, trodden very well into a soft floor of patted earth, crushed twigs, and mashed leaves. Though he still found it rather difficult to perceive much in the dark forest, he was able to discern that there indeed seemed to be wisteria here, and quite a lot of it at that. Mauve, and hanging all throughout the place, nary a spot without a vine. It formed what seemed to be a natural tunnel... assuming it wasn’t being maintained by a youkai.

Then again, Gen was quite certain that this road was what the tengu had been referring to earlier: the road of flowers youkai did not care for. Thinking about that, he stood still and simply looked the place over. Marisa didn’t bother him to hurry on, and he imagined it was for the same reason he had stopped:

The applications.

To explain: wisteria wasn’t the most classic of wards against youkai, but by association with a certain legend, there was some faith in the plant as a sort of “evil’s” bane. The flowering vine, from which his family took part of its name, was used to defeat a god of curses in ancient times. A single branch of it instantly rusted the iron weapons of that wicked god’s army, and they were forced to surrender. Now, particular if used in certain spells, the flower could be effective against “malicious” entities. Indeed, with the right magic and mixture, wicked hearts would find the plant to be pure anathema.

Gen found it very hard to not start gabbing on and on about this to Marisa. Little did he know, Marisa was also eager to speak of the plant’s benefits to him. Thus, in silent excitement, they waited and wondered if they should gather some of this now, or if there were any landmarks close-by to identify this spot quickly for later. During flowering season for instance.

During flowering season...

That...

... was not in September.

With this realization, a chill ran up Gen’s spine.

He took a step back with his right foot, and looked to the right as well.

To the right...

... were they not near kappa now?

No. What was the layout?

River—Roads—

Who cares!?

These flowers are out of season! Hell, these are flowers in the first place! No youkai around, but one misfortune god is—Get the hell out of here, Gen!


He stepped left, holding on now to Marisa’s other leg and ready to run. She finally noticed his urgency.

Some bane or ward wouldn’t matter, not if Kazami Yuuka is here—!

“Oh my, as I thought” spoke a terribly pretty voice. Hearing it, Gen froze. “You shouldn’t be here, but if you’re here here, then here isn’t so bad a place to be.”

Gen looked upward, meeting the eyes of the green-haired girl before him. She spoke again, the sound of her words strangely evocative of wind chimes:

“All things considered,” she said.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=94_nslnEhHQ ]
[厄神様の通り道 ~ Dark Road - フォーチュン・ライン (xi-on)]

A plate-pale girl, festooned with bows and wrapped with ribbons—over her hair, over her arm, and over her dress—was floating, draped all in crimson and lined with white lace, beyond the wisteria veil.

Looking into her eyes, their color a misted green bright beside the lush forest hue of her well-groomed hair, somehow he knew at once what this person was. Knowing that, he decided to do something uncharacteristically Japanese for him.

Slowly, he took his hands from Marisa’s knees. He put his index fingers below their middle neighbors. He opened his mouth cautiously, and he shouted.

“Engacho!”

Marisa hopped with surprise on his shoulders, exclaiming, “Gen!?”

Pass this curse to her...! he thought, with his fellow magician in mind. It was merely superstition to do this in the outside world, and ancient superstition at that. But here, to be superstitious paid dividends.

“Engacho!”

Marisa had followed suit, skillfully managing the same hand positions while keeping her broom and Mini-Hakkero in the three fingers that remained to each.

He was quick to respond with, “Engacho!”

“Engacho!”

Engacho!

ENGACHO!

“Please cut that out,” the plainly more mature amidst the three said. The misfortune god, the one wearing a sympathetic face before them, slowly landed on the path to their right—where Gen had meant to head before he chose to turn another direction. With this, he noticed that she was wearing very distinct, very tall, black-leather and red-laced boots. “So, you know what I am?” she continued, standing now with her hands politely rested on the front of her dress. Their placement had Gen notice the peculiarly large green spiral sewn onto the left side of the skirt. “Well, that doesn’t matter. You should leave the Mountain.”

“I’ve got something to do here,” said Gen, no longer hiding his motivations. His finger remained crossed. “I guess I could try again another day, but this is a bit of an aligned-stars moment, ironically enough. Despite the current circumstances, this was my most fortunate day to try until now.”

“You’re hoping to continue on after coming face to face with a god of misfortune? That’s foolish.” The woman was right, this was foolish. He already knew, however: he was a fool for his Master. This assignment of hers wouldn’t be finished with inaction. “Sorry,” the girl kindly apologized, explaining, “I may be a god of misfortunate, but I’m still a god. I am a friend of humans. As a friend, I cannot allow you two to wander into danger.”

... Hm?

That, Gen found, was rather an odd thing to say.

As he thought so, Marisa promptly voiced that thought.

“Oh yeah? Yeah... then, why would you come out in front of us like that? A god of misfortune... You’ve screwed us over just by showing up.”

“Were you two not ‘screwed over’ the moment you stepped onto this mountain?” asked the misfortune god, tilting her head as she asked.

Gen uncrossed his fingers and lowered his hands back onto Marisa’s legs. “A lying god, huh...?” he said, finding enough confidence to smirk now as he winced, looking aside. “No matter how you try to spin it, there’s no way you’re making sense. You’re either our enemy, willfully subjecting us to danger or...” he met her eyes, “you’re no danger at all.”

“Hm...” was the only “answer” she deigned to give.

“I’m not taking that last engacho back,” Marisa informed him. His lips turned down.

“Keep it,” he replied. “We can probably move on from here without any trouble. Watch... our guide will come back soon and prove that the superstition is just that.”

“You’re too confident. Lemme just beat the hell out of her just in case.”

The goddess frowned, lowering her brow with motherly disappointment. She judged Marisa, in a word, “Barbaric.”

“Well if she’s our enemy like she says she isn’t, she wouldn’t care whether we were on the mountain or not, and would have cursed us deliberately besides—no need to even show herself. If she’s our friend like she says she is, then she wouldn’t want to expose us to any more problems, especially not the misfortunate sort that she should be very familiar with.” Gen allowed himself some smugness now. “Did you notice?” he asked Marisa. “When we ran into this goddess, she said ‘like I thought’. She knew humans were here, and still chose to contact them on her own.”

“I said, ‘as I thought’,” corrected the divinity, “You;re a human with a quick wit. hm. For faith reasons, I choose to remain mysterious and neither confirm nor deny your proposition.”

“Sounds like you’re spot on, Gen,” Marisa determined. He was rather sure that this was the truth. Well, if it wasn’t, then they were on Youkai Mountain while cursed. Escaping even from here, from the foot, while under curses meant terrible incident would likely meet with them regardless. He preferred to have faith in something hopeful.

“If you won’t be afraid,” said the woman, lifting her ribbon-wrapped left arm toward them, “I will share your barbarism, and force your fear.”

“Sounds youkai-like...” said Gen a bit quietly, and with a dry laugh. Grinning, Marisa brazenly aimed her furnace.


[] Fight.

[] Ask what she was up to.

[] Explain your quest.

[] Flatter.
>>No. 67645
File 156638259213.jpg - (237.35KB, 618x558, __kijin_seija_and_sukuna_shinmyoumaru_touhou_drawn.jpg) [iqdb]
67645
Every picosong song will die a few months from now. Alas. Other direct links, seeing as mega can play files in the browser now

>>67469
https://mega.nz/#!4VEBVAAK!GRoaQFfM9kB-l_No2uj9l24q0pcQKsF6z8tzwSuwccM

>>67524
https://mega.nz/#!hZUBXQZC!q8CndE8Rx-isONZisfUc-g8KFiZ-d6bIzRdGYKkPGjI
&
https://mega.nz/#!RRFjxQZQ!kIK58Mk2VyALG-0WIcrYE9-WoG9cV3DsiVI3wWmPA0k

>>67611
https://mega.nz/#!oMMjgCJZ!T5DCqTyWIWOn9Eys5oxLLT5qlZeR5dBBYh4DJTiFOvQ
>>No. 67646
[x] Fight.
There's too much talking, we should've become violent and unreasonable the second she showed up. Her showing up at all is an act of aggression.
>>No. 67647
[X] Fight.
Feels like we're not gonna get off scot-free from this though.
She probably just want us to get off this mountain.
>>No. 67648
[x] Explain your quest.
[x] Faith reasons...? Why don't you try an honest prayer? You had to no reason to do so on the outside, but it's not exactly hard to have faith in something in front of you.

Faith is free and it seems to help. He doesn't have a god he favors, as far as I remember, so why not try it?
>>No. 67650
[X] Explain your quest.
>>No. 67651
[X] Explain your quest.

Might as well keep talking. Hey, Hatate might come back in the meantime.
>>No. 67652
[X] Explain your quest.

There's gotta be a parallel between a shroud that's doused in misfortune and misery and a god that's aligned with it.
>>No. 67657
File 156817846559.jpg - (782.51KB, 1233x1685, 74518910_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
67657
Got injured, had to move, not good

I'm going to be returning to this and Unchanging Days ( >>/shrine/41060 ) ASAP! Seriously.
>>No. 67658
>>67657
:baghug:

Don't worry, it'll be OK.
>>No. 67659
>>67657
I hope you're okay, writefag. Waiting warmly!
>>No. 67660
File 156902798639.png - (52.59KB, 441x336, you wot.png) [iqdb]
67660
[X] Explain your quest.


“Wait, wait,” spoke Gen softly. So, the two others waited. “I said ‘youkai-like’, didn’t I? But you aren’t a youkai. Since when was it natural for gods to suddenly start attacking humans?”

“Gen, shut your mouth,” Marisa said. He turned his eyes up, listening to her while half-frowning. “It’s Gensokyo. Fighting’s how stuff goes!”

“We didn’t come up here for fighting, we came here to sneak around,” he replied.

“Whatever you’re looking for up there isn’t worth it,” said the god, not letting her spiral-wrapped hand fall. “I will shoo you away and so save you from more unfortunate fates. You won’t die by my hand, but I do intend to drive you off.”

“Could I ask for your help instead? You gods listen to humans, no? I’ll provide you with faith, you can provide me with a blessing,” Gen gently persisted.

“Gen, come on!” Marisa groaned, dropping her weapon arm and bending her head back in exasperation.

In that way, she’s like Miss Suika, he thought, smirking. Of course, Gen himself was just about always up for a fight he felt like he could win, but he was very deliberately trying to survive these days. He wanted less to please his Master through recounting his triumphs of battle, and more to please her by reassuring her that he was a smart, charmer-type apprentice. Something like saying, “I went to the top of Youkai Mountain and recovered a piece of a dead god’s soul, and I didn’t fight a single youkai up or down”; that would make him intensely pleased with himself.

“I am not really the sort of god that much needs being prayed to...” said the god as she lowered her arm and stared at him steadily. “... Are you sincere?” she asked him.

“I am,” said Gen. He was.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=BBwxUTtO0zw ]
[History of the Moon(drably lovers mix.) - アンチェインドメロディ (発熱巫女~ず)]

“Well, even if you say so...” said she, her eyelids drooping with thought, “a god of misfortune has little use to humans. I think the best way to put it is less that I can give you safety against ill circumstance, and more that what ill circumstances you might befall could be... lesser. That’s all.”

“You won’t curse us just by being around?” asked Marisa, still sat on his shoulders, and now with one of her elbows on his head to prop her head up by the cheek,

“I wouldn’t say that,” is what the goddess said, tilting her head slightly. “I would say that spending time with me could be a poor idea.”

So I should still be careful, then?

“May I ask your name? I am Itou Gen, human apprentice to the youkai magician Patchouli Knowledge.”

“I am Kagiyama Hina. I will say, ‘pleasure to make your acquaintance.’” Saying this, she performed a curtsey.

He smiled quite genuinely. A friendly face was something he always welcomed. He bowed, replying, “The pleasure is all mine, Lady Kagiyama.”

Marisa tumbled off his shoulders.

The little witch kicked up violet petals with her fall, her bloomers on full display with her skirt turning up over her head. She groaned rather angrily with that, and the two adults looked at her blankly.

“So you’re willing to help?” he asked the goddess.

“That depends on what you’re thinking to ask of me,” the goddess replied.

“Apologize!” screamed Marisa. “APOLOGIZE!” Her legs were still in the air.

“Sorry,” he said.

“HELP ME UP!”

He crouched, reached to the back of her shirt, and, after grabbing her, stood – lifting her up and letting her dangle like a set of books on string.

“This is Miss Kirisame Marisa, by the way,” explained Gen.

“What were you planning to do then?” asked the Lady Kagiyama.

“I need to get to the mountain top, specifically the mouth of the volcano, and I want to try to find a piece of a god inside of it.”

“...” She gave him silence, and an expression that hadn’t changed.

Sensing the presence of a wall in his way, Gen probed ahead with a single “No?”

“Well...” muttered the goddess vaguely. “... I will say it’s not... my place of... activity.”

“Another god?”

“Hey,” Marisa interrupted, “carry me normally or put me down.”

He palmed her side and lifted her back onto his shoulders. From there, Marisa pushed down on his hat at once, depriving him of his sight and making him turn down his lips just a little. She leaned forward, bending his neck too.

“So, Misfortune God, what’s your deal?” she prodded. “Gods like you don’t use faith really, yeah? Ya said so yourself. So, what’re you gunning at? Explain in three words or I’ll blast you out of the sky.”

“I’m not in the sky,” said Kagiyama.

“Then, into the sky,” Marisa replied.

“Hm...”

Unbeknownst to him, Kagiyama Hina caught her elbow and lightly cupped her chin while thinking of her answer.

It was, “I’m somewhat curious.”

“The heck is that?”

Gen, feeling successful, allowed himself a grin. “Ahh, so I’ve intrigued you?” he said.

“Only for a bit. Alright, I will guide you a little.”

“Yeah!” he gave a shout and pumped both his arms.

“Mister Itou! What are you thinking!?”

A new young lady had joined the three. She was clearly the tengu, by the sound of her.

With wind washing over him, Gen turned to her probable direction. Marisa slid somewhat from the gust, but he kept the child steady with a hand over her thigh. Unable to actually see Himekaido Hatate, he simply listened to her nervous voice instead.

“You ran into that Misfortune God and now you’re talking with her!? What was that about sending me away!?”

“You’re back fast,” he replied.

“Well—Yes! Of course!”

“Were you actually cursed at all? I’m willing to bet that you weren’t.”

“I—... I wasn’t, no!”

“See?” he tilted his head up to indicate that he meant that word and patronizing tone for Marisa.

“She basically said we’ll get screwed if we stick around her for too long, Gen,” said the child in response.

“Wait, wait, we’re all going together!? Wait—where are we even going!?” That was obviously the crow.

“The taller human said he wants to visit Iwanagahime,” That was the goddess.

Wait... huh?

“He what?” snapped the crow.

“Who?” asked the taller human, to anyone willing to answer.

“Dunno,” said smaller one.

“She might not appreciate that ignorance, but... perhaps she wouldn’t mind, I suppose,” Lady Kagiyama muttered.

Hatate explained very succinctly: “She’s the Mountain’s god!”

Gen responded with a prompt, “Eh?”

“Well, the Mountain is her home but to call it ‘her mountain’ is a bit...” the misfortune goddess was mumbling.

“Hey, humans! I never said she wasn’t the Goddess of the Mountain, alright? It was this weird-looking foot-of-the-mountain god, okay!?” He imagined Hatate was pointing now, especially as he was fairly certain he heard Kagiyama Hina saying “How rude”.

He lifted the brim of his cap to see. Whilst still pinching at it, he declared, “Anyway, little Marisa is right: I think we’d better hurry up the Mountain already.” Looking, he saw that Hatate was obviously in a light, but growing panic. Lady Kagiyama seemed... tranquil, apparently.

“Hey, you’re my horse, so I’m the one saying where we’re going and when,” Marisa countered.

He looked up at her. “Your orders?”

“Let’s head up the Mountain already!” she declared with an emphatic gesture. He pumped his fist and gave a subdued “Yeah!” Hatate looked at her wit’s end, and Miss Hina still seemed fine.
>>No. 67661
File 156902807532.jpg - (603.13KB, 1300x988, Kirisame.jpg) [iqdb]
67661
~~

If he had to sum up how it was to climb Youkai Mountain while keeping a low profile in a few words, they would be “aggravating temptation”. On that note Marisa kept bouncing her leg in short movements and twisting the sides of his hair, so he was fairly certain she felt the same way.

It was simple: they were both eager, explorative, and, when it came to obstacles, quite aggressive. The two human magicians were entirely bitter that they did not have the run of this youkai lair.

Was it that they were human? That they were magicians? Or was it perhaps a shared character flaw? In any case, though he’d thought to himself just before they began climbing and sweating in earnest how pleased he would be with himself for making a ghost’s trip through Youkai Mountain, it was Youkai Mountain. This was a place he’d been reading about for an entire year, near to his home, always looming and oddly smoking. It was full of mysterious plants, strange minerals, and with its many supernatural residents and societies, there were sure to be curious devices and tools to potentially find and determine uses for. It was all here, right here. And yet, they could not wander.

They had already moved through most of the Great Youkai Forest without incident. The atmosphere didn’t bother either magician, being used to the foul air of the Forest of Magic; and even the darkness proved hardly an impediment for Gen who was used to the Mansion – or Marisa, who just seemed particularly battle-hardened and courageous despite being a child. Ahead of them, Hatate would occasionally breach the canopy and listen to the wind, descending quickly and directing them the probably best way. Behind them, Kagiyama Hina followed without ever touching the ground. Glancing over Marisa’s thigh to check on the god, Gen thought that perhaps this really was a situation similar to the last time he went somewhere dangerous with a green-haired girl. Could other youkai be avoiding them because of the risk Lady Kagiyama presented? Though, really, they themselves were at risk regardless... Perhaps he could just go to the Forest of the Lost later in the day and spot that white rabbit again. Counter the bad luck with good, right?

But truly, it was very irritating just how uneventful their trip was turning out. If they were near a yamanba’s abode, Hatate swiftly turned them away. If a kappa’s den was close by, they changed course. The bird even mentioned at one point while Gen was resting his legs: she was keeping a wide berth from the Tengu Village where she lived. They would never even near that. And really, it felt like such... such an utter waste! The pair of curious humans had last stocked up on wisteria and that was it in terms of gathering materials. They both saw PLENTY of materials, but with the knowledge that more time spent with the misfortune god could mean more potential misfortune, neither ever spoke up about stopping to pick them up.

Now thinking about her, he wondered about what rites or offerings he would need to give Lady Kagiyama, and also what help she would be offering... The most obvious answer was granting and facilitating council with this “Iwanagahime” if it was even needed in the first place. Maybe she could detect the presence of Kagutsuchi’s lingering spirit inside the volcano? Maybe she could give him something to keep it in. If he had to be honest, he was not confident in his or Marisa’s skill with seals. Certainly, he was “ready” to deal with a piece of a god by now... but that was merely in theory. There weren’t any bits of gods to practice on in the Library...

Hatate spoke up.

“The forest is over soon,” she told them, indicating where it would end with her finger, “then we’ll lose our cover. What do you want to do from there?”

Marisa answered, saying, “Alright, you guys didn’t listen to me before so it’s my call this time, okay?”

The three older persons looked at the child and waited for her to say what she had to say.

What she had to say, eventually, was, “Let’s fly the rest of the way!”

“I just said we won’t have cover, Miss Kirisame! Jeeeez, won’t you ever listen!?”

“Well I think it’s a good idea,” was the goddess’s determination. They all looked at her as she explained, “The end of the forest isn’t far from the top of the mountain. If Miss Tengu carries us to the top in a flash, then we ought to be fine.”

“Should a misfortune god be talking about ‘ought to’ in a good way?” Marisa asked.

“Well, assuming your bad luck doesn’t kick in here,” said Gen, “I think I’m all for it as well. There are too many ways we can be caught if we head up the mountain slowly from here. Without trees blocking our progress, it’s probably a bad idea to move on like we’ve been moving.”

“You guys want me to carry all of you? Even the misfortune god?” Hatate gave the impression, through her posture, that if that was what they wanted, that was very much what she did not want. The girl was slouched, and her wings were drooping from her back down to the twig-and-leaf floor. A sick-looking bird...

“I can fly on my own,” said Marisa, spinning her broom overhead.

“No way you’re faster than a tengu!” Hatate snapped.

“Your way of flying fast is pretty flashy and loud, too, Marisa,” Gen commented.

“We’re gonna get noticed no matter what, Gen, flyin’ up the Mountain and all, and big blasts up here have gotta be normal, yeah?” She started tossing her mini-Hakkero up and down in her left hand.

“I wouldn’t call them rare,” said their following god. The darkly-dressed deity finally started moving past them, presenting her hand to Hatate, who looked at it for half a second, then scowled at the other woman.

“We’re not at the edge of the forest, yet!” she spat.

“Ah, right...” said Lady Kagiyama, her tone of voice showing that she was just a bit let down.

Gen went down to a knee and let Marisa off his back, meeting her eyes as she got off and patted down her dress. Ahh, damn it, he thought, I wish this girl was easier to like.

He was pretty sure of this: if Marisa wasn’t such a nuisance, she and he would absolutely be good friends, no question. But, she just had to be a regular invader in his Master’s private library. He sighed while thinking about this. Noticing his gaze, Marisa tilted her head in short fashion and grinned, His expression turned a little bitter, a little proud as he thought, Brat...

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px8Ea2wSlEw ]
[Blue Dragon Main Theme - Blue Dragon Original Soundtrack (Nobuo Uematsu)]

He stood up; their supernatural fellows were already moving on. After a few more minutes of steeper ascent, light started to break through the trees and bleed down the path ahead. Right, it was still daytime...

Hatate stopped and lifted her left hand to Kagiyama Hina. Hina lifted her eyebrows, smiled, and politely took the tengu’s hand from above. The twin-tailed girl of the pair then turned to her right and held her other hand out toward him. “Come on, Mister Itou,” she said.

He moved ahead, glancing back at Marisa again as he passed. She followed slowly, focused now on whispering something to her magical furnace.

He turned his eyes back onto the crow, then her outstretched hand. “... The god is one thing,” he said, meeting her eyes again, “but I’m not sure my fragile human body can handle your flight while being dragged by the arm.”

“You want to grab me!?” Hatate hissed, red-faced.

He blinked, and answered, “... Yes,” in a staid tone. Hatate glared at him, gritting her teeth and not answering back.

“Let’s go,” Marisa said behind them. He checked on her once more, seeing that she was smiling darkly at her now-glowing furnace, lit blue and just before her face. The brim of her hat was hiding her eyes.

... I totally get it, he thought, resonating with the black and white magician here on what he felt was a very deep and rather profound level.

She looked up at the peak of the mountain, and he saw that her eyes were glittering. He followed her gaze to look up as well. The sky was clear, and it didn’t seem as though anyone else was traveling through it. As for the mountain... it was very “shapely”, he thought. Well, that wasn’t the right word, but... “made of shapes”. Its face was comprised of many old-looking, blunt and protruding surfaces... not a pretty sight, all told. There was one footpath visible from where they stood, looking a bit mossy and littered worryingly with stones... The stones were mossy as well, however, and none looked fresh to the path. Could someone have just put them there? he wondered.

At any rate, what a tall thing Yatsugatake was... From here, he could see just how large the streams smoke of smoke easing from its mouth were. He could always see them from the Mansion, were he to look, but he supposed it was much like watching a plane’s contrails: surely the closer you got, those thin clouds would look more and more immense. From here, Youkai Mountain’s black and gray smoke looked to him much like peculiar rivers of shadow, coursing and swaying through the blue.

He felt excited. He would be up there in only a moment.

Without warning, he lowered himself to a knee once again (Hatate flinching and flaring out her wings at the act) and threw his arms around the tengu’s midsection, pushing the left side of his face against her chest and holding her tightly. Hatate stared down at him intensely, frowning and blushing to her ears.

“Whenever you’re ready!” he said enthusiastically. Squeezing closer to her he followed with, “To the top of Youkai Mountain!”

Hatate shut her eyes, frowning one truly powerful, face-shaping frown and putting her right arm around his back. A deep, almost unnerving buzz entered the air, and he quickly recognized it to be the sound of the mini-Hakkero readying to fire. Beside them, the pint-sized magician was indeed completely ready. She chucked the furnace up over her left shoulder, swinging her broom with her right hand as if it were a baton, until its bottom was facing up past that same shoulder. The bristles caught the engine, and the entire broom pulsed for a moment with energy—white. Again Marisa swung her chariot, this time down and right, spinning it just once more below her waist to aim the end of the thing behind her. It was time to launch.

Hatate held her two passengers just a bit more securely, and they returned that safe gesture. Her wings opened to their full, several-meter span, the shining midnight-black feathers primed for flight. Marisa hopped onto her broom, Hatate lifted her wings, and with a blast and a beat, both instantly rose high into the air.

Hm!

Gen had to keep at least one eye closed, but made his best effort to keep his other on the scenery allowed by this new vantage. He’d be able to see it when they came to a stop, certainly... but he’d never moved so fast before. Marisa’s broom indeed couldn’t keep up. Hatate turned in the air as she flew past the stone-face of the mountain, and Gen looked down to just barely catch the sight of Marisa’s rocket-propelled ascent far below before she twisted left and was obscured by the Tengu’s leg. Eye-blearing and ears deafened from the air being forced out their way (the noise of his clothing helped not an ounce, either), Gen looked upon Gensokyo as it rapidly “shrank” in his view. He smiled, thinking, Mercy, this is just cool.

In about five seconds, Hatate, having flapped her wings a few times on the way, flapped them just one more time to break her speed. He was smooshed into her body more as a result, realizing only then what his cheek had been pressing into. Pulling back his face, he thought that to play ignorant would be the best way to handle that faux pas, and with that settled he looked down at the top of Youkai Mountain to see it fully for the first time.


[ ♫: https://mega.nz/#!gVt1kYzT!R4_REIfJk5sm66icXp0k5BfP4GCeajjCxDDKDW7s8J8 ]
[Illusion - Atelier Ayesha ~Alchemist of the Ground of Dusk~ Original Soundtrack (Daisuke Achiwa)]

The mouth was not... “close”. It was perhaps half a soccer field’s length up and away from where Hatate had decided to land. The way up was barren and, unsurprisingly, uneven. Though... that was an oversimplification. To elaborate, there didn’t seem to be any sort of foot path whatsoever. Where they landed was the end of two other paths up, it seemed, but there was no easy way to the true peak from here. What lay ahead of them was a series of (surmountable, at least) boulders and crags, jutting upward quite all over and not unlike an older graveyard from back in Japan. Apparently, this part of the mountain really wasn’t meant to be visited.

After they went to ground, Marisa shot up past them, tossing their clothes around in her star-trail blaze. She swiftly dismounted and fell a few feet down to the risen earth behind them, sighing with all satisfaction.

“Maaan,” she exhaled with the word, “that felt crazy! And wow—I wasn’t far behind a tengu!”

“Shhhhh!!” was that tengu’s response. Marisa rolled her eyes and Hatate spoke in a harsh whisper. “We’re not supposed to be hear and you just signaled the whole mountain that we are!” she hissed. “You’d better hope the Village doesn’t send a patrol up here!”

Lady Kagiyama spoke up, asking, “Would they? What with it being Iwanagahime’s domain.” To that, Hatate seemed to seriously ponder the possibility.

As for Gen, he had to make a choice... or, rather a suggestion to “the party’s leader”. He could seek out this mysterious goddess living on the mountaintop... or he could just forego that and head to the mouth of the volcano. He’d already met a goddess on the mountain and had drawn a lot of attention from Marisa’s and his own flight, so perhaps dealing with this other goddess would just be wasting time. In fact, regardless, he’d be wasting time due to the possibility that more time with Kagiyama Hina could prove dangerous.

... After a bit of thinking, he proposed,


[] “How about we head straight up?”

[] “How about we go see this Iwanagahime?”
>>No. 67662
[x] “How about we head straight up?”
>>No. 67663
[x] “How about we head straight up?”

Hatate a cute
>>No. 67664
[x] “How about we head straight up?”

No distractions
>>No. 67665
[x] “How about we go see this Iwanagahime?”

MORE goddesses!

If not now, when?
>>No. 67667
>>67660
oh yeah, image source:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/874045
>>No. 67668
File 156998688777.png - (2.68MB, 1500x1062, immortal smoke.png) [iqdb]
67668
[X] “How about we head straight up?”


“Yeah, forget about meeting this other god; I wanna see that thing Gen was talking about,” Marisa agreed.

“Guh... fine,” Hatate relented, but doing so seemed no small feat for her. She was the last to move once they’d all decided to set off for the final stretch, and as she stepped forward, Gen noted while checking on her that the tengu was slowly, absently tweaking and touching the tips of some of her fingers. He looked toward her face, seeing that she was looking down, and he felt a touch guilty for having had her fly him here.

Still, only a touch. He faced forward again and joined Marisa as they climbed great stones and stepped up sharp inclines to finally summit Yatsugatake.

Earth ground under their feet, dirt and small stones shifting with a distinctive “crunch”ing sound as they went. Tumbling back behind them, down until they could no longer be heard... In only a little bit of time, the pair of humans were standing at the top.

“Huh...” breathed Gen, and after he’d done so a “Hrmm...” came from Marisa.

Stood side by side on a startlingly level stretch of black land, the two magicians looked upon the vast opening that was the mouth of Youkai Mountain. He had been expecting to see a glow within it, as although it hadn’t erupted in nearly a millennium, it was still “alive”, he’d thought. However, there was nothing inside the crevice to find. The misshapen, vaguely oblong cavern was void of any sign on activity within or without. From what he’d seen in books, he was almost sure it was extinct. This massive hole, half the size of Misty Lake it seemed, and so deep that only a short gaze within quickly offered pitch blackness, was dried and brittle, cold and empty, and almost completely silent. He couldn’t date stones, but surely the black rocks all around him and comprising the landing were almost as ancient as Ibuki Suika. He winced, grimacing. He had come here looking for something dead, but not this...

Marisa crouched down.

“What?” he asked.

“I don’t know much about ‘em, of course, but I figured I’d look at the volcanic rock around here. Maybe I could use it, y’know...” while saying this, it seemed almost halfly to herself, Marisa pat and dragged her hand over the earth, looking lost in thought.

“Forget that, you can find volcanic stones anywhere around Gensokyo if you know where to look,” he said.

She picked up her head, asking him, “You can?”

“Yeah, since the Yatsugatake Mountain Range was so active in the past...” he trailed off.

Where was the smoke?

“Whoa...” Marisa uttered, looking behind his head. He followed her gaze, and had his answer: there it was.

Those banners of smoke one could see from anywhere in Gensokyo were as vast up close as he’d been anticipating. It looked to him as if any one of them was a leviathan, so large that swallowing him in one bite would be a trivial matter. He shivered. He knew: this was one of those sights a human like himself wasn’t really meant to see. However, the trails’ existence alone wasn’t what had him rapt or Marisa baffled: while watching these eternal streams bend gently as ever over their heads, something was standing out.

It seemed as though this smoke had no source.

Uh...

“What the hell...?”

“So it isn’t the kappa...”

They both squinted, following the wide, curving bands and tracing them down to their wispy ends. However, when trying to trace any specific stream to find its point of origin, the stream seemed to dissipate entirely into nothing and vanish before they could. Then, another would replace it, slipping seemingly directly into existence before their eyes, smoothly, like magic.

But this was supposed to be nature... It was supposed to be natural. A phenomenon like the Lake’s mist demanded investigation. Both humans forgot why they had come here, scooted to the mouth’s edge, and scrutinized the inside of Youkai Mountain while thinking deeply about this mystery.

“Didn’t you have something to do?” came the voice of their goddess tagalong. Gen gave her his answer without looking; his dismissive mumbling of “in a minute”.

Hatate was following behind Kagiyama Hina preoccupied not with the miracle occurring over their heads, but her own thoughts. She eventually looked at the humans she’d guided here, then glanced down the mountain, to the west. Watching, she swallowed.

Gen decided to speculate, “Maybe it’s a youkai up there?”

“What are you thinkin’?” asked Marisa.

“An enenra, maybe.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Honestly if you knew what it was you’d probably call me an idiot for thinking that...”

He stood up straight.

“Hm,” he huffed, holding his gaze on the volcano’s entrance. He then looked back to the sky. “... I’ll ask Master about it,” he said.

“Yeah, she might have some ideas,” Marisa agreed with a nod, standing up as well. Once she was in a good posture, she slapped at the front of her apron, making dusty clouds. The article was stained now like she’d just had a trip down a coal mine. “So, how are you getting that god out of there?” Marisa asked.

“Yeah, it’ll take me just a bit,” he replied. He stared into Youkai Mountain again, fishing within his effects. He turned his head to meet the curse goddess’s eyes. “Lady Kagiyama,” he addressed her with appreciable reverence, “would you make sure I’m not close to making any mistakes?”

“I can try, but as I’m not familiar with magic I may not be of much help...” said the god, though she did not sound apologetic. The way Kagiyama Hina spoke, he got the impression that she preferred to be a pure observer on this trip. That wasn’t ideal, he thought, but at least that was better than her being an active antagonist.

Gen brought out scrolls and ink, spreading everything onto the earth. Marisa squatted to his right, looking at him readying to work. Lady Kagiyama also watched over him, and Hatate as well though she did so infrequently. The crow’s concern was on the rest of the mountain.
>>No. 67669
File 156998694979.png - (1.92MB, 1220x892, aneki.png) [iqdb]
67669
I’m no shrine maiden or priest but there are ways anyone can seek out any god. Gen thought to himself. For starter’s I need to use observation magic and take a toll of what divinities are around here. Maybe I’ll... use a crystal ball this time, rather than a glass.

“What’s that?”

His brow twitched.

He answered, “It’s a crystal ball, can’t you tell by... look... ing...”

He almost dropped the small orb from his hand. There was an unfamiliar face next to his. One that struck him as extraordinarily, unmistakably... Japanese. A woman.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plMAgGe85Bk ]
[Guidance - Atelier Ayesha ~Alchemist of the Ground of Dusk~ Original Soundtrack (Daisuke Achiwa]

And he knew: she wasn’t a youkai.

“Hi,” she said.

“Ha... Haro...” he replied, feeling embarrassed at once. What on earth was that? His pronunciation hadn’t been that awful since he was thirteen...!

“Who the heck?” Marisa demanded to know, standing up and clenching her fists, though not reaching for any of her things to fight. Did she feel it too?

The woman who had come here from nowhere, outside of either of watchman’s notice, was without a doubt a goddess. Not of an otherwise and sundry sort, like Kagiyama Hina—slave to one purpose and not unlike a youkai. She was a god of their land, and they could feel that at once.

But, for a god, she was certainly...
Well, her appearance was...
She presented herself as...

This goddess, Iwanagahime... did not seem to very much care about who she was.

“Hello, little girl,” said Iwanagahime, straightening her back. She dazedly batted her eyes, stretched with the heel of her hand against her chin, and, very gently, massaged over her right eye once the hand at her chin had been dropped. “I was sleeping in,” she said a bit weakly, in tiredness, but vigor entered her voice after she took her hand from her eye, “but the other gods started complaining so they woke me up. Wow... two humans... I don’t remember when last it was.”

She put her hand (which, he noted, was very thin—making him flinch) on top of his head, and rubbed there. “Hmm...” she breathed, smiling lightly. Her eyebrows bent uneven, and the smile perked at one side. She looked at the littler Magician who was still half on edge, and waved with her free hand, saying again, “... Hello!”

“H... Hi there,” Marisa finally greeted her. Iwanagahime beamed sleepily, rubbing at the boy’s head more, which made him close his eyes as the hat on top caused chaos throughout his tresses.

He forced one eye open, and finally gave the woman a good look.

Mostly, the woman had dressed herself in the noted color of the east, and she wore her kimono so bunched and loose that it looked as if it would slip off her neck and down her shoulders should she stand a bit too sloppily. Lavender, flower patterns, black and deep blue all colored and decorated her clothes, but with how unconcerned she seemed to be with actually wearing them tautly and properly, he thought, ... Not a very graceful goddess. Although, she was distinctly and admirably tall.

Her skin was sun-touched as well. Although her facial features absolutely reminded him of old art in museums and schoolbooks, that she didn’t bare the most coveted trait of nobility and divinity—that of porcelain skin—told him much about the god... no, the person before him. Her hair was exceptionally well kept, however. Audacious, grand and golden pins held together a hefty fold of the length behind her head, sticking out a ways in a few places. Her headdress was struck him as the final evolution of the Child of Miare’s, adorned with half a bouquet of summer flowers: all brilliant, passionate, and pure. Beads and light chains also ornamented her hair, along with sun-colored tassels—and on closer look, the decorations stuck most prominently in her hair were, too, marked with flower symbols. Her hair itself was healthy and auburn. Her eyes, now that he looked at them, were not youthful, certainly, but they were strong and, strangely, they granted confidence in a glance. The bright, grass-colored irises looked back at him quizzically, as if to ask, “You always do this when you meet someone for the first time?”

He flinched again. Iwanagahime had in fact asked him that.

“Uh, I’ve... got a bad habit of looking a lot,” he replied in a way he felt was far too casual.

While he agonized about this, Kagiyama Hina joined the conversation.

“Iwanagahime, good day to you,” said their goddess guide. Iwanagahime looked over to her, tapping on Gen’s head while occasionally glancing, too, at the tengu who was refusing to look her way.

“Hello, Miss Kagiyama,” Iwanagahime gave an airy greeting, followed by, “Why did you follow humans up here?”

“I helped bring them here,” answered Kagiyama.

“Hmmm,” moaned the goddess, looking at the one she was still petting. She finally let him go, keeping her hand lifted over his head and looking down at him for quite a while. He felt like he was under scrutiny, and vaguely attempted to cover up the materials he still had spread on the ground. “Nice meeting you,” said the woman as she crouched down to his level. She held on to him by his upper arms, pulling him up to stand. “I am Iwanaga... hime. Iwanagahime, sure. I am still... in title a princess,” she closed her eyes while delivering these words, and puffed with one chuckle at what she was saying. She then let him go and indicated to the rest of the mountain in a gesture both grand and utterly lacking in showmanship (at least she spread out her arms). “This is... ‘Youkai Mountain’! The tallest mountain in Japan! And you,” she poked him casually in the chest, tilting her head, “are one of the first to see this sight in so many years.”

She reached over, and tapped Marisa’s hat by its wide brim, smirking. The little magician took a step forward, and Iwanagahime began rubbing her head. “You’re the other one. Hmph... humans... hm.”

She smiled with simple happiness again.

“Um, Lady Iwanagahime, I am a, uh, lowly tengu who... I am the lowly tengu who brought these humans here, but um...”

It was plain: Hatate couldn’t handle this situation.

Gen had to admit, it was one of the more peculiar situations he’d found himself in while living in Gensokyo, and for entirely different reasons than the usual strangeness. Iwanagahime was so disarmingly gentle that he wasn’t convinced it was genuine. He just couldn’t be convinced, knowing the dangers of the world he was in.

While she was a god, it wasn’t as if gods were unfamiliar with curses and punishments. If they wanted to, they could harm humans just as well or worse than youkai, and this god was one he knew nothing at all about. Marisa, still keeping her hands in fists, seemed to feel the same way.

Nonetheless, the goddess of the mountain remained cool.

“The tengu have nothing to do with me,” she said, looking straight into Hatate’s eyes (which were determined not to look back in return). “Well, nothing on the mountain does. I live here, at the top, and I’ve lived here for very long... some of you youkai just think that makes me in charge. The oni are gone, and they’ve been gone for an age. Rule yourselves, stop looking up and hoping to find a lead and leash.”

“Y-Yes, Lady Iwanagahime!” answered Hatate while standing at attention and closing her eyes.

Iwanagahime put her hands on her hips, looking blankly at the tengu.

“It’s just for consideration. I’m not commanding you, good grief,” she grumbled. “It’s consideration to rule yourselves or... whatever you want to do.” She waved a hand in the air beside her head, dismissing the notion that she might really care about this, and frowning. Bringing the hand back to her hip she said, “Except, don’t bother thinking of me as yours. Have you got it? Things like... your complaints, and your petty squabbles, it’s not why I came here.”

“Yes... I understand,” said Hatate. She seemed to, though it didn’t give her any relief from her anxiety.

“That said, nonsense is why I got woken up. Humans,” the lady addressed the two of them, sounding bored, “what are you trying to do?”

Gen and Marisa both went a bit stiff.

They were trying to ignore her, after all.

Then again, being ignored didn’t seem to bother this goddess. If she wasn’t putting on an act, it seemed to Gen that she had really only come here to ease the minds of other gods on the mountain.

With that in mind, he decided


[] to leave explaining to Marisa.

[] to tell her the truth in no uncertain terms.

[] to ask if there was any real reason he would have to tell her what they planned to do.
>>No. 67670
[x] to tell her the truth in no uncertain terms.

Honesty is a virtue, doubly so when traveling next to Marisa. Hina also deserves to know.
>>No. 67671
[x] to tell her the truth in no uncertain terms.

Why not?
>>No. 67672
[X] to tell her the truth in no uncertain terms.
>>No. 67673
[x] to tell her the truth in no uncertain terms.
>>No. 67674
File 157051207429.jpg - (565.27KB, 1072x758, hold up.jpg) [iqdb]
67674
[X] to tell her the truth in no uncertain terms.


“There’s a dead god who I need an untainted piece of,” he said.

“Wow,” said Iwanagahime, “that’s quite the thing to be looking for. What god?”

“Hinokagutsuchi,” he replied.

“Hmm...” she breathed. “So that’s why you came to a volcano.”

He nodded, she held her chin.

“I hate to say it, but a magician can’t call on gods. Magic and faith don’t mix, at least when it comes to pleas and communication,” Iwanagahime explained, casually dismissing his plans. He rose his eyebrows and blinked; he’d have to ask his Master to confirm that supposition. “Why are you looking for Kagutsuchi in the first place? That’s a very powerful god you’re seeking.”

“My Master wants something of me, and to satisfy her request I might need Kagutsuchi’s soul. I already have his blood-soaked shawl but ‘he’ isn’t in it anymore: only a grudge,” he elaborated the details. Meanwhile, Kirisame Marisa, Kagiyama Hina, and Himekaido Hatate were all staring at him with varied levels of disbelief.

He concluded, saying, “I need his soul to revive to cloth.”

“You would risk your own body to get the soul of that god for your Master?” asked Iwanagahime.

“No, she’d kill me if I died trying to complete one of her requests,” he said, smiling calmly as he thought of the Greater Magician. He then told Iwanagahime, “I had planned to suppress and contain the fragment of Kagutsuchi within a barrier. I’m not very practiced in barriers, but I figured I could consider this more experience.”

Iwanagahime crossed her arms and bent somewhat back, looking on him with an air of scolding. She told him, “I won’t say you were foolish to try—the Shawl of Kagutsuchi is more dangerous than a raw fragment of his soul. His body was wrapped in fire, not his soul... but, still, you should be more cautious, you know. You only have one life to live, um... Boy.”

“Gen,” said Gen, smirking just slightly.

Iwanagahime smirked back. “Boy,” she said with a chuckle.

“It could be written differently,” he told her, jokingly. “‘Gen’ from ‘illusion’, ‘gen’ from ‘bowstring’... ”

[ ♫: https://mega.nz/#!BRVzyaqI!WpGvLgwSrvoS0V1dtMMojQy_1WDzrSVA1hH0vH1qbHw ]
[A Far, Far, Distant Place - Atelier Ayesha ~Alchemist of the Ground of Dusk~ Original Soundtrack (Kazuki Yanagawa]

“With this smile on your face? That’s ‘boy’ for sure,” Iwanagahime countered, poking the corner of his lips. She drew her hand back to her opposite arm to maintain her previous posture, and she smiled quite happily. “I think I’ll help you,” declared the goddess.

“Just like that?” he asked, surprised.

“Mm,” Iwanagahime confirmed, holding her left hand out toward the opening of Youkai Mountain, “a mere human can’t do anything with gods without being a natural shaman, but other gods... certainly; we can do something where magic can’t.”

“D-Do I need to do something for you?” he asked, still unconvinced that this gesture was one of pure and open kindness.

Iwanagahime shook her head. “You can stay alive,” she told him. “I’ll put a portion of Kagutsuchi’s soul into a stone; you bring that to the Hakurei Shrine Maiden and have her imbue that spirit back into the shawl. She should contain its power beforehand, though, or you, her, and anyone who happens to be around for a few dozen fields’ far will get burnt into nothing once it’s been awakened.”

“Th-That’s...” he stammered, genuinely taken aback by this turn of events. “Shouldn’t you be more cautious, Lady Iwanagahime!? You don’t know if I’m lying or not—and like you said, the Shawl of Kagutsuchi is an insanely powerful object!”

“Well, it’s all fine right? If you’re a hero or a villain,” after Iwanagahime said this, the mountain under their feet trembled. “What you all do on this earth won’t change the lifeline of the earth at all, and that’s all I really can care about nowadays—or, really... for a very long time now.” She glanced at him, still wearing a small, placid smirk. “Though, you’re a good boy; aren’t you Gen?”

The troupe on the mountaintop watched, unmoving, as a small white spirit was drawn out the mouth of the volcano, from their vantage distant, but so bright that missing its arrival was impossible. The spirit curled harmlessly into the shape an orb, and this resulting sphere began to drift toward Iwanagahime’s outstretched and waiting hand without delay.

“Well, here’s a piece,” she said once the ball of spirit had come to rest above her left palm. She began to look at the ground, scanning it for something. When she found it, she knelt and plucked it up: a rough, cube-like chunk of obsidian that hardly bore its ordinary glassy appearance. It was sizable enough that her hand didn’t seem as if it could hold the stone, but she was managing with a wide grip. Standing, she brought the stone toward the soul. She kept her smile as the white essence drained gently into the rock. For a moment, the stone glowed faintly, but just as quickly as it had, it simply returned to the ordinary appearance of a piece of the earth.

“That’s the god...? That’s Hinokagutsuchi?” Gen asked, nearly dumbfounded.

“That’s not quite right. Certainly, this is a piece of his spirit that I plucked from Yatsugatake, but... If you need a word for it: maybe a phantom? Well, even phantoms can, uh... think.” She tapped her head, chuckling to herself before looking at the stone in her hand. Still casual in her tone, she explained to Gen, “He can’t think. He’s been dead for a long time.”

Gen bent down to gather his things, muttering, “Hmm,” as he wondered about that. Gods were truly peculiar beings.

Once that was done, he looked at the stone in her hand from here he was kneeling. He put on a stone face and steeled himself. “Well, if that’s it... Thank you,” he said, and he slowly brought his hand toward the fragment of that dead god.

[♫]

What he found that hand on top of, however, was the hand of a little girl instead.

He turned his eyes on Marisa. She was standing between him and Iwanagahime, and she was holding the stone.

“... You mean to steal this?” he asked her. While he asked, he realized the brim of her hat was low. Her golden eyes were hidden—even her lips were hidden.

Her voice, however, was robust and unobscured. “Hey, Gen,” she called on him, “was this lady joking around when she said this thing could burn us all away?”

Remembering what he’d witnessed of the blood’s power, and what he’d heard from both his lady and the Lady Hieda, he had to tell her honestly, “No. Hinokagutsuchi was a god of fire, and his flames are more intense than the Sun’s.”

“What the heck...” she replied. Her grip on the stone strengthened. In response, he gripped back, lowering his brow and trying to catch sight of her face.

“I won’t be using this in magic, and I won’t let you use it in magic either, Marisa,” he said in as adult a tone as he could muster. “Just leave whatever crazy ideas this stone has given you behind. It’s not some toy or rare material.”

Finally, the young child lifted her head to meet his eyes. “You’re wrong, Gen,” she said, “I’m not the one thinking something dangerous like this is a toy!”

[ ♫: https://mega.nz/#!tIUTxY5K!5b8d3D6lqbhMXsCDeKO3RwI6W2fhTUNVjrkV5dF7Hn0 ]
[ メイガスナイト - mylist/7419940 (生パン]

She was looking at him full of determination and strength.

He glared back.

“Oh?” was all Iwanagahime had to say. Hatate lifted her phone, and Lady Kagiyama raised her eyebrows.

“You can’t trust me to be responsible?”

“Hell no. Did you forget about winter already?”

“Seriously...? Where’d this heroic side of you come from?”

“So you did forget, ya idiot. When Gensokyo’s at stake, I’m not gonna sit around and play with my toes!”

“I didn’t sit back, either,” he argued.

“You shouldn’t have—you started it!” she snapped.

They were holding hands now in the least comradely way possible.

“I didn’t even know that was the risk!”

“And here you know the risk, and you’re still going to mess around!?” Marisa growled. She began to take a more aggressive posture, spreading her feet apart. She yelled, “Forget it, Gen! I ain’t letting you off the mountain with this thing, so seriously just forget it! I’m taking it to Reimu and she’ll properly exorcise it!”

He grit his teeth, feeling his heart pound in his throat.

“You know I’m used to you, you thieving witch,” he spoke darkly, wearing an expression now to match, “if you think you can just carry this off from me while I’ve still got you in my sights, you’re way too naive.”

“Nah,” she rebutted, brushing a few strands of hair away from her eye with her left hand. “I’m strong,” she said, “and you’re a weakling.”

She quickly took her mini-Hakkero out from under her hat, and aimed it at his face. Shocked, he let go and flew back, almost riding the opening’s edge as a spark flew out from the device in a split second.

The beam was brighter than usual—pink with eye-blearing vibrancy—and it wasn’t quite as robust as the ordinary spell. While it buzzed in front of where he knew Iwanagahime to be standing, Gen realized that this was not a Master Spark, it was some sort of variation. The clouds above didn’t dissipate from the blast, and the beam faded like dying smoke. When it was gone, and he was stopped about twenty meters away, he looked at Marisa who held the mini-Hakkero aloft but no longer had her other hand on the god-infused stone. Iwanagahime had stepped away, and was now carrying the rock beside her head while looking at Marisa as well.

“You two are going to fight for it?” asked the goddess, moving her gaze to him while she spoke.

“Since gods can split infinitely, can’t you just give me another piece?” he asked, finally standing up and taking stock of his things, checking for damages.

Iwanagahime scoffed. “You’re something else!” she declared, a hand again on her hip. She huffed, shaking her hand firmly. “No, I can’t,” was her answer. “That works on living gods, but you can think of Kagutsuchi’s soul as a finite resource. Splitting it now would destroy it, rather than create two pieces of equal strength.”

She asked again, “You’re going to fight for it?”

“I’d rather not,” he grumbled, not taking his eyes off Marisa. “But if a fight is what this brat wants...”

“You’re in for a rude awakenin’ today, Gen,” Marisa warned. “I’m not messin’ around, I’m gonna beat the hell outta you.”

All banter aside, he had ascertained that that was the case—or, at least, her sincere intent. When Marisa invaded the library, she was often doing it casually, as a lark. She did not come to take over, to defeat his masters, or with earnest lust for battle: she came to steal books, and she would either manage and irritate he and Patchouli, or they would knock her down and boot her out (or have tea, on occasion). That was all. Even when he’d faced Marisa near the start of the year, the match had been in good fun. When he faced her during the Spring-Snow Incident, they had come to an agreement.

He’d never done it: he had never faced Marisa seriously. Not the Marisa who had trounced his Master on the night of his arrival, nor the one with a full year’s more experience that stood opposite him now, her left side facing the mouth of the volcano.

“Alright,” Iwanagahime said without care, “I’ll give this to the winner, then. Hm.” With a sound of disinterest, she turned away to join the youkai and her fellow goddess who were watching what was transpiring.

He stared at Marisa.

Her clothes were still a bit ragged from the fires Patchouli had put her under a few hours ago, bits of black and frayed cloth swaying just slightly. Her hair started to flow with the breeze as well. Between them, the impossible smoke of Yatsugatake rose from nothing in two gargantuan bands, until the gold shine of her hair was all he could see.

His scarf lifted with the breeze, the colorful tassels decorating it shimmering for a moment before the smoke hid the gold in the sky as well.

I’d better not lose here, Gen thought.

And, eyes narrowing, he took a readied stance.


[] Shift into focused fire.

[] Shift into focused movement.
>>No. 67675
[x] Shift into focused movement.

Oh shit
>>No. 67676
[X] Shift into focused movement.

She's aggresive and confident so we'll have to wait for an opening. Gen is weaker but he is as resourceful, if not more.
>>No. 67681
[X] Shift into focused movement.

Well......Marisa has a point. Hell, I don't think Reimu will react kindly to Gen handling and bringing a potential piece of destruction to her shrine. I guess we have to knock out Marisa to stop her from warning Reimu.
>>No. 67682
[x] Shift into focused movement.
>>No. 67684
File 157089610456.jpg - (964.88KB, 1500x2121, bring it.jpg) [iqdb]
67684
[X] Shift into focused movement.


Danmaku play... is graceful play.

[ ♫: https://mega.nz/#!II9zBaRK!Z8w_fZNZniR537yfcoOuZYZx_5zxHofvi85rluO7P28 ]
[ Killing Time - 幻想狂冥奇譚 (プレミアムプレミ屋)]

Let her swing a bat around, I’ll float by it like the wind.

He opened a spell book on his hip.

Though the smoke surrounding Youkai Mountain was plentiful, the Sun could still shine strong through those black and ephemeral streams. He would use its light to act.

He and Marisa were at a standoff. Another zephyr passed over them, and the only things to move on either of their bodies were their articles, effects, and their loose hair. Neither magician would even blink. Whosoever acted first could gain the upper hand through surprise, or lose it by their opponent utilizing this unfamiliar space. A focus was one thing, but to attack or defend... Which would do him better at this juncture? While time still afforded it, he thought carefully on which of the two positions he’d prefer to be in.

Marisa decided for him.

With no hesitation, she lifted her furnace and blasted off a torrent of love and starlight in a full-fledged showing of her signature move. He cursed himself as it came. He hadn’t noticed her charging it—!

Her hat almost left her head from the spark’s force. Her skirt flew up and her heels dug into the earth. Her clothing rippled intensely, but her arms remained still as her full strength was unleashed.

He narrowly skirted the hefty beam of white light, black magic, seeing clearly the rainbow color of its core. His body shook violently as shockwaves rocked off of the main blast, heating his front side enough that he threw the right of his scarf over half his face out of worry, squinting to protect himself from the temperature. While he continued to admonish himself for his lack of preparedness, the furnace in Marisa’s hands began to fire out giant and flashing stars as well. They came, and ducking, weaving, and swearing, he avoided every last one at great cost to his sanity. At the end of it all, he saw that he’d been forced to fly above the mouth of the volcano.

Everything died down. He stayed in place for a moment to catch his breath, gripping the front side of his vest and trying to steady his heart. Marisa leapt onto her broom and followed him above Yatsugatake, her outfit billowing wildly with her speed. She came to a stop still twenty meters away from him, meeting his eyes and, with the mini-Hakkero firm in her grasp, offering challenge.

“Alright Gen, the next one up’s all for you,” she said, thumbing the furnace absently. She rose it beside her face, and then after a flick of that thumb and a twist of her wrist, began to spin it fast atop her extended pointer finger, seemingly igniting it with power. Marisa then bid in a loud voice, “Try to keep your eyes on it—and thanks a bunch! Here it is!! Love and Astrology: ‘Scatter Spark’!

What!?

When you split a god in two, the power within each new part remained the same. This was also true of the Master Spark... though he knew that already.

A geodesic dome of light shined around her hand and the furnace, each facet of it independently and quite randomly glowing, brightness growing, until he could hardly see Marisa at all. The whole process took only seconds, and when those seconds had passed he found himself contending with a blisteringly rapid shower of “sparks”. Not the sort fell from a smith’s hammer, of course; the surrounding area and himself were both barraged by a hundred fractured beams of Marisa’s malicious love.

Gen was practiced at this point. He figured, even, if he was determined enough, he could actually scrape by against Alice’s absolutely absurd “Phantom of the Grand Guignol”, which had walloped him back in February, unscathed. This was not that, though. This was legitimately impossible for him to completely deal with. It was ludicrous to even try.

Each “mini” spark scattered about was a few inches in diameter, but each packed a hell of a punch, which he quickly discovered personally. Facing this spell felt as if he was trying to dodge freeway traffic during rush hour. This magic that Marisa had created by taking note of his actions... to call it a “refined” version of his improvised mirror during his duel with Gensokyo’s two greatest youkai exterminators would be completely disingenuous. Not only had she managed to keep “love” and “light” together while refracting the beam, she’d taken the core idea of his maneuver and crafted something far beyond a crude half-measure: she’d made a certain-kill move.

At least, it was nearly certain. If he hadn’t braced himself to be ready to dodge anything that could be coming, he might have been hit with forty of those flying sparks rather than fourteen.

When it was over, he was angry to find his body nearly done. The brunt of fourteen Master Sparks was nevertheless a serious something to content with: not any sort of something that a human was meant to deal with. Now he was left holding his arm and wincing, barely even managing to maintain flight.

Marisa whistled long, blowing at the top, yin-yang symbol of the mini-Hakkero.

“There’s still a lot more coming,” she said, and after shoving her hand into her apron, she withdrew three colored flasks – one red, one yellow, and one blue – their necks between her fingers. With that ready, she got her feet onto her broom and through the little reactor behind the bristles. He glared, knowing with certainty that whatever she was doing could finish him here and now. He spoke in a dead tongue. He refused the idea.

He drew a card out of his sleeve, eyes following Marisa doggedly.

His body felt like it only had the strength of a few breaths more now, but his spirit was full and had yet to be drained a drop.

Marisa released the three vials, and each exploded in clouds of their color at once – swirling together, but not actually mixing. Instead, they were suddenly swallowed by the mini-Hakkero. Seeing this, Gen was sure he was about to be struck by a soaring Marisa.

A pair of bright green spheres of magic manifested at her side. They birthed jade bullets which began to surround her hands.

His spell was ready. With the sound of a burst, the card in his hand became bright.

Marisa came at him quick, and he cast: “Sun Sign: ‘Royal Flare’!”

The look on her face before he could no longer see it was priceless, and warranted a smile.

Unlike the Noble Flare he had conceived before as practice, and even unlike the original spell of the same name his Master had used for his learning of that variation, this was a full-fledged, new spell of Master Patchouli’s, and it was absolute hell to deal with.

A small second sun appeared over Youkai Mountain, and more specifically over his raised hand. It wasted no time before its assault began. The thing shined with a fraction of the original celestial body’s power, but any fraction of the Sun was no laughing matter. They were both blinded, and Marisa, gritting her teeth, was seared by the copy’s rays. Of course, danmaku came as well, each burning white and flying fast in curled lines, as if they were cracking whips. You could dodge this spell, as any under the spell card rules—

—but it really was no fun.

He felt the rush of something sizable hurtling past his left side. The spell died fast, so when the light had dissipated he saw that the flying object had been Marisa clinging to her broom and now soaring off behind him like a wild bottle rocket. He pointed at her, and he called on the sun again.

Bullets followed after her as he thought on which spell to use next. Once her sight returned, Marisa realized in seconds that she was being targeted. Her speed seemed to not be something she could presently control, however, and so her direction looked a struggle to maintain as well. She began to adjust as he pursued her with steady fire, trying to catch her path and muttering another sort of spell. Eventually her fuel gave out, while she was high in the sky... Marisa stopped there, tapped the reactor stuck in her bristles, and without warning dropped off of her broom.

!?

“Marisa!” he shouted, killing his invocation. Could she even fly without that tool!? He’d never seen such. He immediately began to call for wind instead. Something soft, gentle—! Fast...!

Only a few seconds into her fall, the broom gave a final and sudden spurt downward to follow her. She caught it, and from its underside, ten yellow glyphs, paired by auras of other colors, corkscrewed out far enough that he thought for a moment the things were covering the entire sky. A piece of paper slipped out from under her hat, swaying gently over her half-obscured face for a moment before she snatched it then and there, declaring, “Black Magic: ‘Event Horizon’.”

A candy star-field bloomed behind her back. The glyphs made them, and directed an uncountable rush of the things toward him in a pattern that demanded his full attention.

Spirals weaved out, and a gigantic belt of the colorful “bullets” formed behind him before he even truly knew that was happening. Though this was plainly no formal duel, he pelted Marisa with magic nonetheless. The card would dissipate if he out-timed it or out-gunned her. With more faith in the former, he sought mainly to contend with the massive card. He felt angry again. With a move so reminiscent of his style of lowly and cowardly play, the child had duped him and reset the pace of the battle to zero, just like that. He hadn’t even managed to hit her while she was vulnerable, and now she was clad in the armor a spell card’s announcement provided.

She was much too much like him, and so much more powerful. Gen looked left, and he looked right. He had to catch something unusual. He needed that. Without it, in a bout of spells between the two of them... he was not going to win.

The spell reached its time limit, and he was unharmed. Calling for the Sun and for fire, he readied bullets at his sides. Marisa did the same with her magic, and he saw that her furnace was in her hands again. Without words, or even nonverbal agreement, they instantly synchronized, intending to do plain battle in the skies overhead.

Kirisame Marisa was much faster than he or Master Patchouli was, and she even had finesse on that broom, but the speed wasn’t something she seemed able to reliably handle. Closer now than when he’d been trying to belt her while she was out of control, in their combat and climb upward he found that he had great odds on placing bullets ahead of the path she would choose to take. She was constantly buffeted with fire and light while he kept only hairs away from her rain of missiles from above him. They twisted and changed who was chasing or chased several times, each magician seemingly testing the other’s actual limits – almost playing fair, to gauge one another and know what could trip either opponent up for later. Marisa’s aim was true when she was focused on him, but only ever true a split second too late. Her shots were straight and honest, and when she intended to hit him, he could quickly see how.

But all this studying in their flight made him wonder: what exactly was she picking apart about him?

She stopped, turning suddenly in the air and looking him straight in his eyes—presently at his level of elevation, and seeming no worse for wear. He stopped as well, his flowing clothing waving out behind him as though he were dressed in standards and banners. They had reached the clouds, and he could tell that, far from feeling beaten by the bullets he had blown her way, her senses had actually been much sharpened from their dogfighting. He could see it in her gaze. He knew she could see the same fact in his.

“You’ve sure gotten a lot better at dodging, huh,” she noted.

And he vowed to her, “If you think I’m going to fail Patchouli – because of you of all people – you’ve got another thing coming.”

“Get ready to taste disappointment, Gen. Being a magician is as much about failure as it is about victory,” she replied coolly, looking into the grooves of her magical furnace. He didn’t care for the sentiment. She decided to speak again in his silence.

“I can tell, y’know: you’re just a few hits away from going down, ain’t ya?” the witch mused. “Well I know one thing about the Outside World: when you’re on your last life in a game, that’s when you get your most intense right?”

She met his eyes again, letting her hand with the mini-Hakkero drop at her side. She told him, outright, “I’m gonna have to take you down with overwhelming force.”

“That’s your motto, hm. ‘Danmaku is all about firepower’?” he spoke dismissively, opening a new book on his belt. “Magic is about everything. I’m the apprentice of the magician who you stole magic from. Between the two of us, I’m the one who’s gotten much more from her.”

At this, Marisa smiled and chuckled with just enough strength to rock her upper body, once.

“I’ve gotten ideas from way more magicians than just her,” she said.

“I know,” he replied, “but I’ve learned from the best.”

They both withdrew spell cards.

“Sun and Fire Sign—”

“Love Sign—”

“‘Prometheus’.” “‘Non-Directional Laser’.”

Air rushed past their ears as they each decided to start plummeting back down toward the mountain.

A ring of sunlight formed around and followed the both of them, seeming to merely be a halo at first, but quickly showing by its instability and errant flares that it was spinning at a truly terrifying speed. From Marisa was something much more ordinary, though. Ordinary, and familiar. After summoning a crowd of magic circles, she fired at him a colorful imitation of a variant of attack magic that his Master favored. Soon enough, Marisa’s lights along with his made for a display that could likely induce insanity: light and lasers firing and spitting everywhere like a falling, harlequin storm – as if an electric show from his world was going off full-tilt above Gensokyo’s most prominent mountain.

Then the fires came.

Marisa’s magic introduced stars along with additional beams of light. He didn’t find it trouble, and even if it was an adaptation, he was still very familiar with this magic. Marisa was not familiar with his.

After the sunlight had shot down below them at angles and met at a conic point, a crack resounded through the air and a plume of flame rushed up from where they’d collided. Marisa lifted her brow and frowned in worried surprise. The name had told the black and white magician that this spell would turn hot, but it hadn’t suggested in what way.

This spell his Master had taught him was meant to represent ur-fire: the original spark that a god had granted men. It was thus appropriately spectacular, and diasporic: almost as if that mountain was erupting. When the two were again to the earth, a fountain of fire was birthed between them, and it scattered with an impression of chaos – but careful observation revealed at once its carefully directed majesty. Marisa was able to only dodge half of the fire bullets. The flames had her magic quickly consumed, and doused her mercilessly once the defensive power of her spell was gone.

He readied magic again. Before the spell even reached its time, he could see that, while it had dealt a significant blow to the witch, she still had a long way to go before she was finished.

She had been right, also: he didn’t.

He’d had enough time to think about what sort of madness he could pull to turn this over... but even then, he had several ideas—“several”, as he could consider not a single one a guarantee.

But, as he’d thought, he truly did need to do something.

His options were:


[] To take this fight into the volcano.

[] To expend vast amounts of spirit to confront her with firepower.

[] To play a trick with the earth.

[] To bid for blinding rain.


And he decided on—


++++++++

image source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/71591663
>>No. 67685
[x] To take this fight into the volcano.
>>No. 67686
[x] To take this fight into the volcano.

This seems like it'll be cool as shit
>>No. 67687
[x] To bid for blinding rain.

First two options are full-on "Villainous showdown" route. It's not nearly serious enough for this kind of treatment and if things go wrong, a very specific red-white won't help us because a very certain kleptomaniac broom-dived straight into the lava, or just a lot of bullets.

Third option is experimenting with earth. Not sure if it's a wood or metal option, but compared to other elements, it doesn't seem like we're well practiced with that so that's probably just pulling things out of our ass again in the middle of the fight and hoping that it works.

Fourth option is light and water manipulation, which we've already done on this very thief. It worked, even. Let's try it again and see what happens.
>>No. 67688
[x] To bid for blinding rain.
Oh god
>>No. 67689
[x] To play a trick with the earth.

Volcano is dangerous, we don't have enough reserves to compete in a direct battle and the rain option seems a longshot.

Being a magician isn't all flashy direct combat-let's show her how skill trumps talent.
>>No. 67690
[x] To bid for blinding rain.
I'll argue that, for Marisa, whose forte is shooting huge lasers in the vicinity of the enemy, a blinding rain could prove more of a detriment to her than to Gen. As long as he's mobile enough, she'll be reluctant to use a killer move like Master Spark. That'll be where Gen may be able gain an advantage.
>>No. 67691
Called!
>>No. 67696
File 157135441628.webm - (1.35MB, 1100x592, crush.webm) [iqdb]
67696
Open this .webm in a new window for looping!

++++++++

[x] the fourth.


[ ♫: https://mega.nz/#!sZ0SxKaD!jbmCeEw4zr5mnxTBG3tTeMKeokXgfi0C1OkepnZT_jc ]
[ Crush - Immersion (Pendulum)]

Gen pulled out a potion for spirit.

With fires fading off her shoulders, one eye closed and other wincing, Marisa met his stare.

“You got something big planned?” she asked.

He only unstopped the vial and began to whisper to the spirits of water.

Marisa turned the reactor over in her hand, looking into its face. She was swiftly moving her finger over that face... Perhaps drawing? Though from distance Gen couldn’t tell what symbol. Possibly a pentagram? Some sort of star, conceivably...

A glyph pulsed into existence at his back, diameter a head above and below his height, and all glowing a dull sky blue. Seeing this, Marisa already knew what to expect, even if she couldn’t hear the magic words.

In that regard, he was already at some sort of disadvantage... but this was his decision. He wasn’t in a fight that would allow for any guesses past those first.

The glyph’s center spiraled, and with that the seal became a portal. Water manifested in great quantity (perhaps enough for a pond) flowing out behind him, and the act had him almost sick. His Master could do this without blinking; for him, he almost wanted to vomit. He held the feeling back, put his vial to his lips and forced the blend of spirit-bolstering liquid down his throat, quickly. He needed to do something more complicated now, and that girl was surely ready.

He looked at the tool in her hand. When he did, just as he did, the thing released two long bursts of steam from its sides. So long that almost a minute after noticing, he realized this... exhaust(?) was still going on. That worried him.

But, he had to meld heat, atmosphere, air, and water. Now, without scrolls. He couldn’t give her so much mind.

As he thought that, still speaking the spells Patchouli had taught him, Marisa aimed the mini-Hakkero down and to her right. A bad feeling came across him seeing that motion. He held off on the final word which would blend the invisible swirl of elements he’d been manipulating before himself finally together with the water he had summoned at first.

The first thing to do—

—would be to ready something quick.

Fandi,” he said.

And as he thought, once he said it, a thin beam of light shot fast out the front of the mini-Hakkero. The air seemed to rush, and he felt he could be fairly certain: that devil object was acting as a vacuum. She knew what he was summoning.

“Black Magic,” she said, “‘Storm Spark’...!”

The space surrounding them thumped with energy. and at once everything he had summoned began to violently rush toward the device in Marisa’s hand. This... This was a time to think fast. So he did.

He coaxed one part of the water away from the mass he’d summoned. Two baths’ worth. Simple magic. Simple commands.

Simply, he sent that water all over her.

“Blpf!? Whod!?” she shouted, flailing as she was dunked unceremoniously from the side. Her mouth was wide, her hair was floating... His elements, however, were still heading toward the furnace. Even now it was swallowing everything surrounding her. Before it could finish consuming, he told the tide to turn. Turn. Fast.

“WHPPp!!” he heard her exclaim as she was spun in place. Soon enough, the mini-Hakkero slipped out of her grasp. He coaxed it away in a separate bubble taken from the water around her legs, and before it could drink that too, he hurled it and its carriage high into the air with magic. He then flew, arm outstretched, intending to catch it.

Marisa was still not sure how to deal with being submerged in midair. While she struggled, the water, heated air, and all else Gen had manifested raced him to the reactor overhead. The tool gulped up its container, exhaling steam again. He hurried himself, desperate, terrified.

And he caught it.

Okay!

“Pwah!!”

Marisa’s head escaped below.

He pulled the reactor to his chest. It was still drawing in the elements, and only the elements; his coat wouldn’t even ripple so near to it. He pressed at the octagonal device all over—looking for a switch, trying patterns. In seconds, his storm was around him in all its unfinished parts. Heart pounding, he found a part of the thing which could be depressed—one of the black lines on its face—and he breathed in relief as its vacuuming ceased. It then started glowing bright against his face.

He let it go, rapidly speaking the words he needed to create torrent-bearing storm clouds and backing away fast. A small blue spark flew off the reactor, and then Marisa’s signature version burst forth, almost taking the toe of his shoe on its way.

Gray clouds formed, slipping past and avoiding the smoke.

Marisa, released as Gen had called for the water which had been hampering her, now threw her gaze upward. Above, she saw a comet falling in a vibrant blaze, and the sky growing ominously dark behind it.

Without a second thought, she dove to catch the meteor, clutching desperately to her broom.

Gen shouted his next commands, needing to get them out at once.

Marisa caught the furnace, turning in an arc that threatened to tear her arm away. As energy sprayed out of it like the wash of a cleaner’s bucket, and she had completed half the roll of a barrel (leaving her upside down), she managed to get her thumb against the device and find the switch to kill its power.

Gen yelled, “Tempest!” and that is what came. The mimic sky he’d made beneath that true grew hot and dense... and it wept black.

Rain fell fast and heavy, drenching the witch in a moment. She covered her face with her hand while keeping an arm and her legs around her broom’s staff, holding just as dearly to her trusted tool. Above her, the other magician may as well have been invisible. His artificial storm, made beneath and beside the smoke of the Mountain, was turned into a shadowfall draping all of Yatsugatake.

With a little effort but all speed Marisa mounted her broom again, and there she was struck in the shoulder by a ball of light.

“Tss!!” she hissed, turning her head in every direction, hoping to see where the bullet had been born from. With a twitch, she spotted another coming from her left side and she swerved, lifting her handheld furnace and swearing through water as she gripped the bamboo handle fiercely.

More bullets came, from almost-certainly random directions, and she turned quick past every one, safe until a white beam came from the darkness and hit her square in her chest. She cursed again.

Gen was untouched. No counterattacks, and the pelting sheets kept away from him as per his dictation of the spell. He could find Marisa with offensive spells of light, and though she was fast she was also confounded: it was clear to him that she was never sure where she was going under the rain. Still, she really was on a tear, and with all that zipping around he couldn’t down her with anything massive. He could wear her down. And that, that was fine.

... There, he thought, sending three more attacks her way. It’s like chasing a whirlwind...

Can she pull that off again? That “Storm Spark”...? Probably, right?
He couldn’t rely on this strategy to the end.

A laser, shining like the colors of oil on water, cut up past his left side.

She found me...!?

She’s too damn good...


He was forced to move. Another laser fired out, slicing into the tail of his coat, splitting it.

!?

And what he’d expected to happen happened sooner than he would have ever wagered: he completely lost track of Marisa.

He quickly flew off from his position, almost growling with irritation. Like this, neither of them could find the other with ease. He could kill the spell, but that would kill his advantage utterly. He needed that advantage.

He threw out magic in eight directions. A return came from one.

Another, there. Another back.

There. There.

He flew toward her, and they passed one another almost as soon as they’d gone to find each other. In a flash, he saw Marisa with her magic furnace presumably stored away, and the hand she would ordinarily use to carry it on the brim of her hat—pulling it down. Her gold eye caught his black. They both stopped, almost sliding in the air while water scattered between them. Where they stopped, they’d lost sight of one another.

But that was enough.

Switching to air, he readied a spell. Distant, Marisa took out a bottle full of colors.

Gen unleashed teal danmaku toward her. She broke the glass, and the rains shifted—so subtly, he felt it was a trick of his ears and eyes.

His environmental magic roared on and on, enough that outside his wards he was sure that a person would feel as if they were drowning in the sky. Marisa had a grip on her hat now, however, and that had to be helping her. He sent bullets more specifically, guessing her place, and he started speaking to leash the winds, intending to add gales to this storm.

Suddenly, his eyes seemed to be tricking him again. Red rain... Orange, indigo... Blue, violet—yellow, green. At first he was sure it was imagination. Soon he realized a spell of rainbow water was forming on all sides, even above and below: wide bullets of every shade shining and surrounding him.

... No! No, this’s—Really!?

The rain stopped falling. As the sun’s light appeared again, ahead he saw Marisa holding up her thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Down, her middle.

Down, the pointer.

With her thumb to her fist, the colors instantly flew. The other magician had stolen the apprentice’s magic straight from his hands. And, with this water not in his control, his directions would mean nothing to the flow. It could and would soak him.

He dropped, she dropped with him. Falling, he shot at her as many bullets of air as he could muster. He corkscrewed out the way of the coming auras, she fired at him with more straight lasers with her once-again equipped mini-Hakkero. Moisture ripped from both of their bodies in their plummeting, and soon they were rushing toward the depths of Youkai Mountain—a place neither of them wanted to be. But, they would not move neck from neck. They consistently dodged one another, and they refused to let up.

He began to miss her deliberately.

She did the same.

However, neither was aware of the other’s plan in the slightest.

Bullets lined tall and crooked behind Marisa, and under Gen was a pit of prismatic light. Once the two magicians had noticed both, the former dropped, and the latter launched.

Gen came to a stop at once and, eyes sharp, he gazed deep into the color barrage. He saw a single gap that would surely be safe, and he shifted his body to meet it. He entered a wash of magic, feeling the bullets sparking off his skin and seeing scrape by his clothes. It was as much as he’d summoned: a pond’s worth of prism, but he maintained his posture. Like this, he grazed the coming wall... and he stayed alive.

Marisa was unlucky.

He flew up and saw that his windstorm had buffeted and slammed her to the mouth’s edge. She was caked in dirt and mud now, and her body was flat to the earth, but he saw that her hand was planted—her elbow bent. She was already getting up.

He lifted his hand toward her—


[] and he made to finish her there.

[] and, with a twitch across his brow, he chose to do nothing.
>>No. 67699
File 157135538273.png - (684.61KB, 1100x594, crush.png) [iqdb]
67699
and here's the image without effects, because shopping out that - 9 - was a bitch to do. I shopped out the smile as well, but that's really easy to put back in if you want. Just cut out that part of the original pic and put it on this'n.

A 30m extension of "Crush" by Pendulum is in the mega link from the OP in the THREAD 6 folder.
>>No. 67700
[x] and, with a twitch across his brow, he chose to do nothing.
-[x] ...but watch for the misplaced broom and dirty fighting.

We already know the sweeping implement can be remotely controlled to an extent. Let's just loom ominously above her and watch out for something rash that will inevitably end up happening for the justice and safety of anything and everything.
>>No. 67701
[x] and, with a twitch across his brow, he chose to do nothing.
>>No. 67702
[x] and he made to finish her there.
>>No. 67703
[x] and, with a twitch across his brow, he chose to do nothing.
-[x] ...but watch for the misplaced broom and dirty fighting.

We will win, but not at any price. We already did that with Reimu and pissed her off.
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