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File 157837514861.webm - (3.53MB, 1616x908, yue ni odoru.webm) [iqdb]
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♫: https://youtu.be/0rVqj8PGTXA
[オメガリズム - Omega Rhythm (UPLIFT SPICE)]
Lyrics: https://releska.com/2015/11/23/omega-rhythm/
Music Collection: https://mega.nz/#F!1BdBzIKZ!bhLzijfM3iyphpueDOKf0g

A tale of fools and lovers.

Note:
Open to critique, criticism, and praise. Mostly praise!
(I'm kidding, you can say whatever)
Comment kindly!


Histories of Yatsugatake, a Suika backstory short: >>>/shorts/2180
THREAD 1 >>65260 THREAD 2 >>65548
THREAD 3 >>65922 THREAD 4 >>66462
THREAD 5 >>66845 THREAD 6 >>67429
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[X] Nightwish’s Wish I Had An Angel. (Flandre loved it)


Once more they were in the Library. The matter of Youkai Mountain was not discussed.

Although Gen would eye his Master suspiciously on some occasions when her eyes were put elsewhere, he did not ask if she had spoken to him within a dream and he did not bring up the unacceptable present state of his quest. He still had more than a week to accomplish it, so kvetching now was not needed—even if he had kvetched while in the World of Dreams.

To be frank: he did not wish to even be in the same space as his Master until he was absolutely certain he was on the right track. Presenting himself before her as “together” and “not a bumbling fool” was very important to him.

“You look as if something is concerning you.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UFI0dms5LM ]
[Specialist - Persona 4 (Meguro Shoji)]

“Hm!?” He grunted this with a fool-smile on, lifting his cheek from his fist and blinking (he had been slouching over a table). Patchouli had struck the nail precisely on its head. He pretended as if she hadn’t, and replied, “No?”

“Gen is upset that I found what he couldn’t,” said Sakuya, who was almost sitting on the same tables at which he was resting. She pointed at the adapter, which she’d told Patchouli she had found in Muenzuka while Gen had failed at Kourindou. “And though it was only a flip of a coin which of us, if not either, would find success. Isn’t he precious? He is that desperate for your favor, Lady Patchouli.”

It was a lie they hadn’t agreed on, but Gen appreciated how quickly Sakuya had come up with it.

“Well, precious or not he should get rid of that foul mood. His bothered face is just a bother to me,” said Patchouli. She then turned to look at who was sat on the couch beside her. In the meanwhile, Sakuya looked Gen’s way and gave the miserable-looking apprentice an apologetic shrug and smile.

The one seated next to Patchouli Knowledge was Flandre Scarlet, wearing an old, brown, pair of studio-work headphones and bouncing joyfully in her seat.

She sang “I’m in love with my lust, burning angel wings to dust!”; evidently her favorite lyric of the song she had listened to several times now.

The iPod was functional. It had come with six songs, though oddly they seemed to be nothing akin to the kinds of sample music Gen thought one would typically find on a fresh device, though the number of songs to sample was about the usual. In any case the tastes of whomever had added the songs were... eclectic. There had been a heartfelt pop song from America, another with R&B stylings from Japan, a famous “noise”-y and frightening song by Aphex Twin, a song from a Japanese band he hadn’t heard of that blended pop and hip hop in a way he found delightful, and there was the song Flandre was listening to: a song from the band called Nightwish. He only knew a bit of them, but apparently their bombastic, “epic”-styled rock operatic and orchestral flavor struck just the right chord with his younger Mistress.

Moments before his Master had caught him staring worriedly at her, she, he, Sakuya, Flandre, and Meiling (who was no longer present) had been discussing the songs and which they thought the master of the house, Remilia Scarlet, would enjoy listening to first... or rather, which they would each like their Mistress to listen to first. Meiling had liked the foreign pop song, his Master had liked the pop/R&B song from Japan. He and Flandre had their favorites, but the only person who didn’t seem to favor any song in particular had been Sakuya. Sakuya wanted her Mistress to listen to Aphex Twin. Her wicked intentions were worn plain on her sleeve.

It was Gen who was allowed to ultimately decide, and seeing as his younger Mistress was so fond of Nightwish, he was leaning toward leading with that for Remilia.

“Ahh, it’s great...!” Flandre sounded exhausted as she pulled the headphones down from her ears to around her neck. She looked content: eyes closed and a single fang protruding from her smiling lips. She opened her eyes to look at the iPod’s screen as she navigated the short song list with its circular pad. “I like Aphex Twin’s song, too!” she declared.

“It’s fantastic, isn’t it?” agreed Sakuya, beaming with a serpentine lean. Patchouli and Gen looked at the made with evident exasperation.

“Let’s have Remi listen to the songs when night falls,” said Patchouli, calling a book from a shelf and settling down as Flandre hit “play” on Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy. Soon the youngest vampire’s head was lightly bopping, and the two magicians were side-eyeing her uncomfortably.

Night won’t fall for a while, thought Gen. I’d better have something else to do.

He glanced at Sakuya.

Hm.

He wanted to use magic to create or summon a “self-warming cloth”. He also didn’t want his Master to realize that that was his intention. As she’d already caught him looking into gods and artifacts, she would know that that avenue which he had been looking into only just that earlier morning had already proved a dead end. Then, she would question him about that. And, he would have to answer.

That thus returned to point one. Shielding his pride was paramount, and still very much doable.

He was thinking...


[] getting Sakuya to help would likely be a safe bet. She could easily get him books with Patchouli being none the wiser.

[] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.

[] researching within the library, or using the library’s resources, was just too much of a risk. No... instead he’d pay the sleeping Marisa a visit, and he would convince her to help instead. A Founding Father of America once said something to the effect, “an enemy that has done you a favor—a kindness, will be only more ready to do for you another”.
[X] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.

Fairies
[X] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.

Please, your fairy maids are fucking adorable
[x] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.
Maids are as reliable as a loaded gun from 1920. No way.

[x] researching within the library, or using the library’s resources, was just too much of a risk. No... instead he’d pay the sleeping Marisa a visit, and he would convince her to help instead. A Founding Father of America once said something to the effect, “an enemy that has done you a favor—a kindness, will be only more ready to do for you another”.

You owe us you witch.
[x] researching within the library, or using the library’s resources, was just too much of a risk. No... instead he’d pay the sleeping Marisa a visit, and he would convince her to help instead. A Founding Father of America once said something to the effect, “an enemy that has done you a favor—a kindness, will be only more ready to do for you another”.
[X] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.

there is 0 chance relying on the fairy maids can go wrong
[X] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.

I wouldn't even mind if the fairies made things go awry.
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image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2593687

++++++++

[X] Sakuya was a bit too much of a wild card to truly “rely” on—or rather, she perhaps wouldn’t be keen on him “pushing his luck”, as it were. The fairy maids, however, were straightforward and simple. They, though wild and stupid and frank, could actually potentially assist him best.


I’ll go and rally them— he decided, no gifts, otherwise they’ll talk about it.

Alright, it’s settled.


He looked up from the table, the surface of which he had been gazing into while planning. His gaze was met with Sakuya’s, and the maid kindly asked, “Is something the matter?”

“I’m planning another coup,” he replied.

Her brow raised. “Ohh...” she breathed. “Be less troublesome about it this time, hm?”

He smiled and told her, “I will!”

“I hope you’re just joking, Gen. I will have no chaos on a day we give Remi a gift,” said his Master, staring at him from afar.

“No chaos,” he swore, hand raised.

“Not an ounce of it,” she demanded, and he nodded, standing from his chair.

“I’ll be back by dinner time,” he announced.

“Stay safe.”

“Fare well, Gen.”

It’s au-tomaaatic~!” sang Flandre.

He swiveled on the toe of his shoe and exited the space, and eventually the library.

~~

According to a few maids he stopped, today a number of fairies were relaxing in one of Remilia’s studies on the first floor, pretending to be refined. He made his way, opened the door to that study, and interrupted them.

“Are there any fairies in here?” he asked.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FD4bSgQXT0 ]
[Afternoon Break - Persona 3 (Meguro Shoji)]

“Why, yes, Master Itou, there are seven fairies in the room,” declared one of the seven, seated in a scarlet armchair with a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar open atop her lap. This fairy was named Parchment, and this was not the first time she’d acted this way.

“... Where did you get a monocle?” he asked, his shoulders slumping as he closed the door behind himself.

“Hmhmhm... Ahahahahaha!! I am very glad you asked!” she chuckled, laughed, and gave an enthusiastic shout.

“‘Where did you get it?’—Ohohoho! ‘Where’, asks the human!” said another fairy in a separate couch.

“One may as well ask how glass is made!” said another with a scoff.

“And everybody knows how glass is made,” bragged one sitting on a bookshelf.

“Glass is made in ovens!” declared one sat a few feet away from him on the floor, reading a different children’s book before her.

“Yes, like cakes,” affirmed one who was sitting on the floor to the left of the doorway and fiddling with an armillary sphere. She closed her eyes and wagged her finger at the human in front of the door, as if chastising him.

“Heh heh...” chuckled the last, sipping tea at a small table to his right. Smiling, she looked into her cup and queried, “... Wasn’t if furnaces?”

“Furniture?”

“Couches?”

“Cakes?”

“I’d much rather talk about cakes.”

“We should have some cake.”

“Yes! Gen, have you brought cake?”

“I haven’t brought any cake.”

“Then why are you here!?” yelled Parchment, to a following chorus of “Yeah!” from the rest.

This yellow-haired fae was outraged, her tiny fist slammed onto a page of mainly sweets through which the titular Caterpillar ate through in the story.

“Did you all find a radio or something?” Does radio even make it through the barrier? “Why are you all talking like that?” asked Gen, his face twisted in consternation.

“We are being like the Mistress you prolotratertaetrite.”

“I—what?” he asked, slouching now.

“Prostarious!”

“Prototototatry-ish!”

“Prosit!”

“It was proletariat,” said the faint blue-haired, tea-sipping fairy. Her name was Coffee Sugar.

“Coffee, why are you with Parchment?” Gen posed the question, looking directly at her. This was a rarer sort of fairy, and he most often saw her on her lonesome if ever—or with Mistress Remilia. She was a fairy who tended to prefer solitary pursuits.

“Parch stole a sugar cube and gave it to me,” she explained. Parchment swiveled her head quick and became panicked.

“Oh my god!” the blond cried. “Shut up!”

“What?” asked Coffee, genuinely confused.

Parchment quickly looked to him and begged, “Gen, please don’t tell Miss Sakuya!” Her hands were now gripping both the armrests at her sides. At the mention of their boss’s name, the rest of the maids sans-Coffee seemed to grow concerned as well.

Gen blinked. “... You wanted Coffee to teach you how to be refined?” he posited.

At once, the fairies aside from Coffee became red-faced and ashamed, hiding their glowing cheeks in their hands.

He began to grin. “Forget telling Miss Sakuya,” he said, “I have to tell the Mistress about this.”

“Don’t! That’s so embarrassing!” screamed Parchment.

“It’s mortifying!”

“It’s horrible!”

“Oh, what a world!”

“I’m melting!”

“Quiet,” he hissed. Coffee indicated that she wanted his attention, beckoning it with her hand. He looked at her quizzically.

“Gen, can you make sugar cubes with magic...!?” she asked, her eyes sparkling.

No,” he said flatly, and she flinched, now looking just as mortified as the others in the room.

“Th-Then... getting me more sugar—”

“I’m not even allowed in the pantry, you know?” he answered.

“Oh no...” moaned Coffee, her free hand raised and wavering. She whispered, “I’m melting...”

“OH, WHAT A WORLD!” cried the fairy on the floor before him.

“Oh, Jesus,” he grumbled. This was becoming a chain reaction. “I won’t tell anyone!” he snapped. They all lifted their heads and looked at him with burgeoning hope—except Coffee, who was still horribly upset. Ignoring that, he informed them, “Rather, I came to you on business.”

“Eh? Work?” asked the fairy on the bookshelf.

“You all have jobs, don’t you?” he reminded them, his voice tired.

The one at his left straightened her back. From her place on the floor she looked at him sternly and asked, “You’re gonna order us, then? On whose authority?”

“Oh god...”

“Our orders come direct from the masters of the house and you, Sir Gen, are an apprentice,” the fairy argued.

Her name was May Truce. Like Coffee she wasn’t... without intelligence. She kept her hair short and proper, and she wore large spectacles not out of necessity, but as a statement. She adjusted those glasses now, their lenses catching the lamplight from the walls of the room.

“Parchment called me ‘Master’ Itou earlier,” he noted.

“That was a different ‘master’,” the fairy clarified, holding her hands in front of her as if she were holding the word itself. She moved her hands to her right side and said, “Not master, but master.”

Her distinction was clear enough in Japanese and, to Gen, absolutely irritating.

“Do I really have to argue with you, Miss Truce?” he questioned.

“It’s ‘Mistress Truce’ to you, preposterate!” said May with an emphatic point at his face.

“Proletariat...” Coffee corrected, still nearly weeping.

“Proletariat Gen!!” May shouted.

“Working class Gen!” Parchment followed with zeal, having found her strength again.

“Peasant!”

“Commoner!”

“Bourgeois Gen!”

“Gentry Gen!”

“That’s not right...” Coffee moaned off to the side. Gen put one hand on his hip and the other to his chin, frowning.

Alright, fine... he thought, what’s the next move?


[] Remind them you’ve led them before.

[] Lie about it, say you’re bringing orders from someone else.

[] Attempt to redirect their focus again,
----[] now on the subject of sugar cube magic.
----[] now on the armillary sphere.
----[] back on Parchment’s monocle.

++++++++

Note: Gen lied and he absolutely can make sugar cubes with magic, or at least he can if he looks into it. Marisa makes candy stars after all.
[x] Attempt to redirect their focus again,
----[x] now on the subject of sugar cube magic.
[X] Remind them you’ve led them before.

How quickly do stars fall of they've forgotten about the great '19 rebellion
[x] Attempt to redirect their focus again,
----[x] now on the subject of sugar cube magic.

Coffee needs her sugar.
[x] Remind them you’ve led them before.
heada lead
tails cube

Coin flip: heads!
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image source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/77076064

++++++++

[♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzdgIYzoZUY ]
[Lindblum - Final Fantasy IX OST (Uematsu Nobuo)]

[X] Remind them you’ve led them before.


Gen took a leader’s posture – one of confidence and sureness – in an instant. Seeing this, the rest straightened their postures as well—even Coffee, who had been crying (and was now sniffling).

So, he spoke, querying: “Who was it who commanded you lot not three days ago through the forests of Gensokyo, seeking treasures?”

“It was Sir Gen,” answered Parchment.

“And not long before that? The one who led Livy, Shimmer, Panora, and Lev in the investigation behind who was drawing humans and youkai to The Shrine?”

“That was Gen...” answered Coffee.

“And you should know:” began the Apprentice, looking down at May beside him with a cool, presidential façade, “who it was just last year who instigated and directed the rebellion against the rest of the Mansion—the one who you all followed into battle against Sakuya?”

“You, Gen,” the little maid replied.

“I am the second-in-command of the fairy maid contingent in Scarlet Devil Mansion!” he declared to the rest of the room, standing at-ease and keeping his chin up. “Stand!”

They all did so, taking the proper maidly postures which Sakuya had taught them: spines straight, heads held high, and hands placed neatly before their aprons.

He looked them over then, and said, “I have something for you lot to do.”

~~

The idea was only to get them to act. He ordered this task force of fae to find him three categories of things from the library: books on fairy lifestyle, books on enchantment, and books on sealing. The books about their race were meant as a distraction—of which he would have liked one or two other categories to rest assured, but... three categories, all, was a safe number for the unintelligent pseudo children of the Mansion to likely keep in mind.

While they gathered, he walked through the mansion’s halls. He had time before evening and more time before they would be done. He wondered how he might spend it?


[] By returning to the library in a bold showing that the one responsible for the fairies’ taking of books could not possibly be him. Also, to see his Master, younger Mistress, and his colleague Sakuya.

[] By going to see Miss Meiling. They hadn’t had too much time together of late, aside from during tai chi practice.

[] By going to see Wakasagihime. He could always make time for the Princess.
[x] By going to see Miss Meiling. They hadn’t had too much time together of late, aside from during tai chi practice.
[x] By going to see Miss Meiling. They hadn’t had too much time together of late, aside from during tai chi practice.

As much as I adore the fish, Meiling has been unfortunately absent for a while
[x] By going to see Miss Meiling. They hadn’t had too much time together of late, aside from during tai chi practice.

She's pretty cute ngl.
[x] By going to see Miss Meiling. They hadn’t had too much time together of late, aside from during tai chi practice.
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[X] By going to see Miss Meiling. They hadn’t had too much time together of late, aside from during tai chi practice.


~~

A whistle carried on the wind.

At the gates of Scarlet Devil Mansion, its red-haired guard was dutifully keeping watch—standing at ease and passing the time with a tune. Not one in particular: a nonsense melody, for the hell of it. There was very little to do most days in Gensokyo as the Vampire’s gatekeeper. Few ever dared even near the mansion, and trespass? They only ever had one who tried to do that—and it was very rare that she ever tried going through the front. If she ever did, it meant the guard was sleeping on the job, and that really did not happen. Often.

Evening was soon. Ahead, Misty Look tended to not look particularly nice in twilight, she thought. Perhaps she had just already become accustomed to this sight in the time since they’d moved to the land of fantasy. It changed little—looked best in the winter, never pleasant at noon. And while youkai and humans frequented the lake every day, that the fear of the Devil kept so many away meant that watching people fish, frolic, and whatnot was always very distant. She needed manga. She needed something to distract from the drudgery.

She was glad she was also a gardener.

“Don’t nap,” said a male voice. Meiling looked up at the source. He didn’t always sit up there... In fact he’d only done so once before: when they’d first properly met. She stopped looking at the Mansion’s second human, and kept watch ahead instead.

“I won’t nap,” she answered tersely.

“Master Patchouli keeps saying you do. Often,” he countered lightly. Out her periphery, she saw him casually swinging his feet.

“I don’t!” she snapped in return, shutting her eyes with annoyance.

“Well, assuming you do,” he ignored her, “I couldn’t blame you. How often does anyone even come to the gate, Miss Meiling?”

She partly glanced his way and explained, “Not very. We’re almost a hermit estate, like this.”

“So you’re a guard for show? Like the fairy maids are just here to staff the halls?” asked the boy. Meiling flinched.

“Sir Gen!” she addressed him in something akin to a hiss. “You’re not supposed to say that!”

“Ahh... sorry,” Gen apologized honestly. His Mistress Remilia’s love of “veneer” was a mansion open secret—acknowledged, known, but never, ever bluntly addressed: especially outside its gates. This unspoken rule was one he’d gathered early, in fact...

With rosy cheeks the guard also added, “And I’m not for show...! Gensokyo is just peaceful! ... And I’ve had to guard the gate before, you know!”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized again.

“Sometimes I stop Miss Marisa...!” Meiling went on. “And there are youkai and fairies on occasion, thinking they can get past me!”

And the apprentice replied, “Didn’t you let a lot of people through during the last week? When the Incident was happening... Master said the gate had become a revolving door.”

“I-It wasn’t that many!” insisted the guard, now looking at him completely. Gen was slouching and had his hands locked together in front of his knees. Meiling thus told him: “Sit up straight!”

“Right.” He did, separating his hands and putting them on his knees instead.

“So did you only come here to bother me, Sir Gen?” asked the guard, returning to her watch once again.

“‘Bother’...” the young man repeated. “At the least, I wanted to chat with you.”

“I see... Well, I appreciate that,” she told him honestly.

“I was thinking of maybe getting you something to make guarding less dull, but... you have to give your complete attention for as long as you can, right?”

She nodded.

“Who guards when you go to sleep?” asked Gen.

“The fairies that I’m in charge of,” answered Meiling, turning her chin a bit as she gave him attention, “the night guard: fairies of the moon, the stars, shadow. You haven’t seen them since you always go to bed long before I do, Sir Gen. Mistress Remilia thinks it’s fine to have them keep watch while she is awake and at her best.”

“She’s only sometimes awake at night, though,” said Gen. Meiling smiled with apology and amusement.

“That’s on our Mistress,” she said. “Things have gotten very strange since we arrived in Gensokyo...”

“Right, the Mansion was moved here. Were things different where you were before?”

“Of course,” answered Meiling with a decisive nod. Memories of the night—of hunters and holy men at the walls—flashed through her mind. “I actually had real work to do,” she said.

The flash showed in her eyes, which had faded a second. The nearby human saw this, and considered it.

“Mistress Remilia... is over five hundred years old?” asked Gen, adding “Mistress Flandre has said she’s a bit younger than her, and Mistress Flandre has been alive for over five centuries.”

“That’s right,” the gatekeeper confirmed with a lighter nod than before.

“Did you all live in the same place for five hundred years?”

Wearing an apologetic smile again, Meiling said, “You’ll have to ask Mistress Remilia about that, and I’m not sure that she’ll answer.”

Gen thought, Because the past is behind, I suppose... She doesn’t bring up anything of her old exploits or life. Maybe I shouldn’t ask.

Not her, that is.


His Master would most definitely be more willing to talk, not that she had been alive anywhere near as long as his Mistress. She’d studied in her library for the last hundred years, and he was sure she was older than just one century... Almost two, he thought. But five? That was certainly not it.

“Anyway, Sir Gen: I haven’t gotten to ask—” Meiling began to pose a question, and the boy perked up, “—What were you hiding in your clothes last night? It was something alive, right!?”

He flinched, went pale, and began to sweat. Bringing his hands together once more, Gen’s thumbs did fretting combat as he tried to pretend he hadn’t heard the question.

“Come oooon... Tell me, Sir Gen!” Meiling whined.

“U-huh...” he stammered awkwardly, and Meiling started to slyly grin. She’d realized something.

“Wait... you like little girls so... were you smuggling one—!? Aha! Ahaha! No way, right!” Meiling laughed.

Gen was not laughing.

While the worry over his being a lolicon was sincerely unwarranted in Gensokyo, where so many could not have their ages accurately determined by appearance, the fact was still the fact:

He’d denied it once, but he really did like little girls. In fact, he had discovered very recently that he liked them quite a bit.

He had to answer; Meiling would stop tittering soon and construe his silence badly. He thought, should he tell the truth? Lie? He felt he could trust Sakuya but Meiling was a bit... sloppy.

He felt like she and he were siblings, all told, but sisters and brothers let secrets slip all the time... or so he’d gathered. He was still an only child.

He wanted to trust Meiling, but he was not certain that he should. She would mock the truth, most definitely... He ran through many scenarios in his head: quickly, worriedly.

And he decided—


[] He would wholeheartedly tell her the truth.

[] He would sincerely request that she not spread the truth, and then sincerely tell it.

[] He most definitely wouldn’t tell her the truth, not now.
[x] He most definitely wouldn’t tell her the truth, not now.
[x] He would wholeheartedly tell her the truth.
[x] He would wholeheartedly tell her the truth.

Even Sakuya is cool with oni

Probably the worst scenario out of this is just more teasing/mockery so...
[x] He would wholeheartedly tell her the truth.
File 158134911525.gif - (3.50MB, 947x1080, Kya! Kya!.gif) [iqdb]
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>.gif

Choice comes up before the end of the update. Also, it will be open during the NEXT update, as I'll get to that ideally tomorrow (today).

++++++++

[X] He would wholeheartedly tell her the truth.


[♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=8FJTKM772g4 ]
[Key-word - TOHO JAZZY VOCAL I (Swing Of The Dead)]

“Your wording is a bit wrong, but...” started Gen, nervously, and Meiling’s laughter began to halt. She looked at him with one eye closed while clutching her stomach. He continued, saying, “I didn’t want Master Patchouli to know about it, so I was being secretive.”

“Eh... Eh? You didn’t want her to know? So it’s not like last time when you were hiding something from everyone in the mansion?” asked Meiling. He nodded.

“I’ve already told Sakuya,” he admitted. “I’ll tell you too, Miss Meiling.”

“Oh!? You will!?” After she said this, Gen winced. It almost seemed like the youkai was glowing: her eyes had widened in surprise and an anticipating smile was opened on her face. He swallowed, and finally admitted:

“I was hiding an oni in my clothes last night,” he said, solemn and red-faced. “Ibuki Suika. I’ve entered courtship with the oni who showed herself a few days ago.”

Meiling took a moment to process this.

After this moment, her brow entirely distorted, and she shouted, “You WHAT!?”

“Ibuki Suika,” he repeated. “I’ve started dating her.”

“The—! Ah! The oni who escaped the mansion that day after the last gathering!? Seriously!?” cried the guard.

Gen nodded, saying, “Yeah.”

“Dating, then—” Meiling stopped herself to recall what she’d seen the previous night. In a few seconds the recollection was accessed and closely examined, and the sitting apprentice watched as his youkai friend’s creeping realization showed in her eyes. Soon enough, she determined: “Then it was perverted!”

“‘Per—’!? You mean when she—?” Gen sputtered with surprised, and thought of how the oni had begun caressing his back while clinging to him. “I... I’d prefer to think of that as affection,” he firmly insisted.

“Really...? It just seemed... lewd,” asserted the guard. At the last word, Gen shivered. “And, you showed up in the dark hours of the morning...” Meiling went on. “You didn’t sleep with her?” she asked.

“Well, I... I did, but...” Gen stammered, and Meiling was left in awe. “At the time, I wasn’t... there weren’t any... plans like that. When she rubbed my back it was because... she... needed to...”

He was slouching, and deeply embarrassed.

“Don’t make me talk about this!” he snapped, looking to Meiling with an expression of blended enmity and pleading.

“I haven’t made you say anything, Sir Gen!” she countered. She stood straight after having twisted and turned to shoot looks his way and, while still looking at him, told him succinctly: “Well, I’ll keep what you’ve told me a secret, though. I think you’re right: Lady Patchouli wouldn’t approve of your relationship.”

“Miss Meiling...” said Gen in quiet surprise. His bitter visage was wiped away at once and replaced with burgeoning warmth.

“Moreover,” continued Meiling, but before she said more a catlike smirk crept onto her lips. For a moment, worry washed over him again. The guard shut her eyes, grinned with glee, and declared, “I very much do approve! Oh wow, Gen! You fell in love!”

“Uh,” uttered Gen. And again, “Uh.”

“It has to be real if you fell for each other so fast!” jabbered his friend. “You’ve met so many people since you arrived, and you’re quite outgoing, so I figured you’d have met a girl you fancied much sooner than that!”

I... did, actually, thought Gen as he stared, unflinching and with furrowed brow, at Meiling. Though I never tried nor wished to try pursuing it before, suppose...

A thought occurred to him. He asked, “Hey, Meiling... didn’t you call me out for liking little girls when we first met? And just a few minutes ago... You know Ibuki Suika looks like a child, right?”

“Yeah,” said Meiling with a nod, “and?” she asked.

“... It doesn’t... bother you, or...?” he ventured while leaning forward, confused.

“Ehh? Why would it? I don’t understand.” Was Meiling’s response.

“... Then why’d you say that!? Why’d you laugh!?” he demanded to know.

“‘Why’...?” Meiling repeated, tilting her head. “I thought it would be interesting if we’d picked up a lolicon, so I asked if you were one. Because most of the members of our house are little girls, that would’ve been quite something. Are you attracted to the fairy maids, by the way?”

No...” he answered with disgust. The fairies were just children. Perhaps he’d sing a different tune seeing them in the baths, but living with fae made them thoroughly undesirable. Like being attracted to your family of a hundred younger sisters.

“Well, I also laughed because it was funny to think you’d be smuggling a little girl. There are so many to choose from in the Mansion, after all!” followed Meiling, smiling brightly. He looked at her with an expression of somewhat deep concern.

It really was easy to forget that Hong Meiling had rather warped morals.

“Well like I said I wasn’t smuggling her, either... I was... I was just making her feel better,” he explained, sitting up straight and frowning.

“If you want, I can let you two use my bedroom and you can sleep together all you like! It’s a great place since it’s not connected to the main building!” She gave him a thumbs up, he sputtered with surprise again. “I know it’s gotta be hard finding places for you two to have sex,” she went on unabated, even as Gen began coughing, “but I don’t mind helping you out! We’re friends and colleagues, after all!”

“Th-Thanks...” he answered, shaking now. Uh...


[] I think I’ll take her up on that offer.

[] ... That would be a really, really bad idea, wouldn’t it? Forget it.



“So, are you attracted to the Mistresses, Sir Gen?” Meiling queried, cocking her head again. His shoulders sank.

“Of course,” said the boy in a tired voice. “Anyone would be. The Mistresses are gorgeous.”

“Ahh, but you like Miss Flandre more right?” Meiling teased, pointing at him.

“I love Mistress Remilia and Mistress Flandre,” he answered flatly. He knew better than to ever suggest he liked one Scarlet sister over the other, at least not ever aloud. Either one of them could kill him over such a thing, and more importantly their feelings would be hurt.

“Oh, did you give Mistress Flandre that gift you said you’d hand her personally?”

“Not yet...”

“I hope that she likes it!”

“Me too.”

“What about that request Lady Patchouli made of you? How is that progressing?”

“Hm. About that...”

Dinnertime wasn’t long off...

As Gen explained his idea to Meiling, he kept that in mind. It wasn’t often that everyone ate together. Breakfast, lunch, dinner—all meals happened wherever you were; Sakuya would find you, and present you with a tray.

He was very much looking forward to it, and especially: he was looking forward to keeping this talk up with Meiling in the dining room especially. Even rarer was the day they broke bread together...

And he’d realized, he had a peculiar and particular, precious bond with the guard of Scarlet Devil Mansion. It was the sort of nonsense, absurd thing that could only function in a world very lacking in common sense. In fact, that was what kept the two worlds truly separate: a border of common sense.

How ridiculous, he thought, and he smiled. I think that last year, had I seen this scene in a vision I’d have called it a pure illusion.

I suppose that’s fine.

I think I prefer lacking common sense.


++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3582867
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3486183
[X] I think I’ll take her up on that offer.

I like wingman Meiling.
File 158135677272.jpg - (287.33KB, 850x768, sanaefastballspecial.jpg) [iqdb]
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Gen, you can't let yourself be held back by common sense in Gensokyo!

>Either one of them could kill him over such a thing, and more importantly their feelings would be hurt.

Keeping your priorities straight I see.

[x] Take her up on her offer.

Gen is a teenanger on her first relationship and Suika hasn't been in one for centuries it seems. We should consider ourselves lucky that he still bothers to use underwear.
[x] I think I’ll take her up on that offer.
[x] I think I’ll take her up on that offer.

Gen is too pure for Meiling
Hope I can write something when I get back home several hours from now. Had unexpectedly little time to write today. Real annoying
File 158142681293.jpg - (410.89KB, 1890x999, there's blood in there.jpg) [iqdb]
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~~

[ ♫: https://mega.nz/#!AYUmCQzT!4tbRK1M5_Nq4etB3hKlBHqUSyihyknWzs3e8zm7DXzo ]
[紅魔館 - 幻奏演舞 幻想人形演舞MusicCollection (FocasLens)]

“But, honestly—! Only five tracks? Why, I was certain CDs held more than double that, yet this—!”

“CDs use uncompressed audio, but with the rise of the mp3 format and thus better compression, the file size is smaller.”

“Wha—”

“Songs tend to be up to five megabytes in size, and the iPod we have is forty gigabytes. There are one thousand per gigabyte and—”

“Hey, wait, stop stop—”

“—that means that for every gigabyte you can hold about... two hundred songs? And because there are forty gigabytes on that... hm, eight thousand I think?”

“WHAT!?”

“Ten if you go down to one hundred twenty-eight kbps.”

At the head of the dining room table, Remilia clutched her knife and fork with a look that spoke of blasted revelation.

“THERE ISN’T EVEN THAT MUCH MUSIC IN THE WORLD!!” she cried. Gen, sat beside the gatekeeper a little ways down the table, wondered whether that was or wasn’t true. It probably wasn’t.

“If CDs came with twelve,” chimed in Patchouli Knowledge, seated near and to her friend’s left, “and there were even just twenty artists releasing twelve-track CDs per year, in about forty years ten thousand original pieces would’ve been made. These are using too-generous estimates.”

“I believe electronic music, and recording, have been around since the late nineteenth century, correct?” posited Sakuya, who was seated opposite Patchouli. Remilia glared at her. “Ergo, using too-generous estimates, more than twenty thousand original pieces would have been made, recorded and sold since that time.”

“How mwush mujic dihd recordsh shtore?” asked Meiling through a mouth stuffed with rice.

“A bit over forty minutes,” Gen answered. “Twenty-two, each side.”

His father collected a few vinyls.

The table they were all sitting at was several meters long, and rather wide as well. The fairies were one room over—everyone was half-keeping an eye on them, ready to stop any rabble-rousing. The fairies’ room was very spacious, on the X and Z axes; on the Y axis it came up short. Height was instead given to the main dining area (though it had less horizontal space). In fact, the Mansion’s clock tower blended with this room overhead, and if you were to find some way through the ceiling you would be met with staircases, giant gears, and eventually an enormous glass face. You’d have to fly or climb up quite a ways... The entire room was very ostentatious. A chandelier glowed above: mostly red of course.

“Very foolish, Elder Sister,” remarked the younger sister, who was sitting across from himself and Meiling. She waited for Remilia’s glare to change direction her way before elaborating, meanwhile absently spinning her fork between her fingers so that a cube of meat would rotate atop it slowly. “You don’t know very many songs, then? That’s so uncultured.”

Remilia scowled. “I don’t want to hear that from someone who thinks that a recording which contains twenty seconds of screaming counts as music,” she retorted.

“It’s thirty seconds,” replied Flandre, closing her eyes. “I counted.”

“The song you chose was much better than that, though,” Remilia went on while taking more from her plate. Before putting what was now on her fork into her mouth she shut her eyes and asked, “How can you like both?”

“My tastes are ‘eclectic’,” said her sister, before biting what was atop her fork—bitten, it should be noted, at the same time as her older sibling. The employees at the table looked at one another upon seeing this, and gave a chuckle each.

Gen turned to Meiling then and began asking how she knew of vinyl records. In the meanwhile Remilia and Flandre continued to verbally swipe at one another, and the remaining two took to finishing more of their plates. Before dinner they had all gathered around Remilia while she was presented with and listened to the iPod they had gotten her. Her reaction upon hearing Nightwish’s song had been astounding: the vampire’s eyes had sparkled, and her foot was soon tapping.

She liked all the music but Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy. Though they had made her save it as the second to last track (leaving another as a palate cleanser), she could never have been made ready for such an unusual sound. Gen thought, she only needed time to truly feel it.

Thanks had gone around, dinner was set, and conversation took place. It was a proper, lively, SDM evening. Such was it pleasant and enjoyable that it was easy – even when he took a break to make headway through his plate – to forget the amount of blood covering and imbuing the Mistresses’ dishes.

As long as I’m not eating it, I’m fine with it, thought Gen.

“What of sealing? That is magic too, no?” He heard Sakuya speaking, and looked up from dinner to pay attention.

“It is and it is not. There are a few methods to seal someone or something,” his Master explained.

“And do any of the magic methods work with gods and such?” Sakuya wondered. His Master nodded.

“Though the arts are unreliable,” she confessed. “Calling gods, too... In most cases you would need a priestess. The foundations of those connections are made through faith, not research and magical power.”

“Hmmm...” Sakuya looked his way.

“Oh? Gen? Were you dabbling in gods?” asked Patchouli tilting her head.

“I—was curious about a god,” he said quickly after fixing his posture.

“Which?” Patchouli asked.

“Iwanagahime.”

“The god residing on Youkai Mountain?” she asked. “You wanted to do something with her?”

“Uh, no,” he answered. It was the truth, in a fashion.

“Iwanagahime...” repeated Patchouli. She lifted her teacup and leaned back in her seat. “You couldn’t possibly do anything about her. I couldn’t either. Not only is she a god, she’s an old and special one. Special, although I’ve read that she comes across as rather plain.”

“H—Hmmm...?” Gen uttered, trying not to let on that he knew what his Master had read was essentially correct.

“Why were you interested in her?” she asked, her question absolute and direct.

“The smoke on Youkai Mountain... I was wondering how it worked,” he told her.

“It’s that goddess’s doing, so if that was your theory you’re quite correct.”

“Why does she make smoke rise...? The volcano isn’t active, right?”

His Master smirked. “Maybe,” she said.

Worrying, he thought, and his concern showed on his face.

“It isn’t the kappas’ factories?” Meiling asked.

“Kappa...” muttered Gen, “Marisa mentioned them before. Was there a belief that the kappa were responsible for the smoke?”

Meiling nodded.

His Master answered the guard’s question, saying, “No. Rumors aren’t facts. I seriously wonder how you go through life being so superstitious.”

And Meiling was taken aback. “Wha—! It’s a popular rumor in the village!”

“Tell me when rumors begin becoming realities. Until then, I don’t want to hear about guesses,” said Patchouli, words cold enough to make the other youkai shiver. Next to her, Remilia smirked, pointed, and said:

“Rumors are where theories rise from, and the fruit of a successful theory is ‘fact’.”

“Wasn’t it my job to learn things? What do you know about theories and research, Remi?”

“I know quite a lot,” said the vampire, sitting back and opening her hand as she turned it over. Patchouli sighed and drank more of her tea as Remilia Scarlet continued on. “It is the duty of the nobility to be aware. In some regards, I know even more than you, Patche.”

“You didn’t even know how much music might exist in the world... and music isn’t even close to my specialty,” answered Patchouli, looking somewhat miserably at her friend as she took her teacup from her lips.

Remilia pointed again. “Then, shall we have a knowledge-off? I’ll show you that your given name is only that! Surely I can best you...” she trailed off, and loudly declared, “... at TRIVIA!

“Very well,” Patchouli replied. “I will trounce you, and as a reward I’ll have you assist me in research for a week.”

Upon hearing this condition, Remilia’s charismatic mask broke—though for only a second. “H-Hmm! Yes! That’s fine! And when I win, I’ll have you... read to me! At night!”

Ah damn, I want to play and lose, Gen thought, frowning sadly.

Patchouli, on the other hand, smiled. “We’ll have Sakuya moderate,” she said, roping in his colleague without her consent. Sakuya did not mind. She looked serene and pleasant, rather. “I’ll enjoy you regretting this,” the magician declared in all confidence. Remilia scowled.

“You’re so cocky! Hmph!” was what she had to say. Nobody commented on the hypocrisy, though Flandre did roll her eyes. The Mistress sat up from her seat, planting her hands on the table. “Nobody else intrude!” she ordered. “Especially not you, Gen!” Gen pointed at himself and raised one of his bushy brows. “Yes, you! I don’t need you assisting her in secret!”

“What about openly?” he asked.

“Quiet!” she answered.

“Alright, Mistress,” he replied, bowing his head. He was most sore that he had to accept this, though. So, so very sore.

And so, all the ruckus to die down. The two old friends and the head maid would be holding their contest in another room. Everyone else was to go elsewhere—not necessarily to perform any duties, however. The Mistress cared to do this at regular intervals: giving everyone within the mansion an evening of no serious responsibilities, and perhaps even a little Mansion-centered party. It helped mental health, was the reason she’d given him when he asked. His Mistress truly was a noble heart.

As he and Meiling cleared the tables in the main and side dining room (the fairies hated such work), he wondered how he’d spend his night. Hanging out with Meiling was tempting... Finding Flandre was very tempting. He also thought about heading to the Mansion’s roof, where he was quite sure Onozuka Komachi would notice him waiting.

Regardless of what he decided, he was sure tonight would continue to be grand and lovely, and that was especially something he needed after the failures of today.


[] Hang with Meiling for the night.

[] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.

[] Head to the rooftop.


Also;
This choice is still open

Meiling has offered her bedroom to Gen for his use with Ibuki Suika, whenever they wish to be intimate.

[4] I think I’ll take her up on that offer.

[0] ... That would be a really, really bad idea, wouldn’t it? Forget it.

forgot to mention, for those who indulge
>>68004
the linked music here uses a lower compression version of the song. Better compression in the big megalink (THREAD 7 folder, of course)
> “What about openly?” [Gen] asked.
I can only imagine him wearing this absurdly smug-ass shit-eating grin when saying that line.

[x] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.
[x] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.

ywn slowly drift off to sleep as Patchouli reads you a bedtime story
[x] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.

We haven’t given our gift yet have we? We should get on that!
>>68007
Best prize.

[x] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.
[x] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.
[x] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.
File 158263563151.jpg - (1.59MB, 2800x2800, very silly.jpg) [iqdb]
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[X] Find and talk with Mistress Flandre.


~~

[♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=O5x77dSPYnA ]
[Secret Library Daguerreo - Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection (Uematsu Nobuo)]

In the kitchen, after he and Meiling had cleaned everything and set it to dry, Gen fished the water toy he had bought out from his pockets to bring it to a sink. He’d drained it after purchasing it from Kourindou (of course) and decided to refill it. He was going to see his younger Mistress.

Finding her was as “simple” as it could be. The mansion was very lively now that night had very much fallen. The hallways felt brighter than during the day, in fact. To find Flandre, he simply had to find where liveliness and light died—putting it in an uncomplimentary-sounding way. Or, not: Flandre Scarlet was a youkai, and a youkai particularly tied to the night, at that. It was also just a fact: most of the Mansion’s residents were quite afraid of her...

Within a hallway with half its lights taken out, and those remaining had been dimmed, Gen spotted through the darkness the lit lower edge of a random doorway. He knocked on the door, knowing the room’s occupant could only be his Lady Flandre or some strikingly bold invader.

“Mistress Flandre?” he asked at the door.

And a reply came at once. “Gen? What do you want? Come in. I don’t like talking to people through doors.”

He turned the doorknob and entered.

The younger vampire of the household was sitting on the carpet, leaning against an armchair, stuffed animal in hands as she stared absently at a cabinet on the wall to her left (and his right). He looked into the cabinet as well, seeing that it was full of board games from the outside world (and at least one box for shogi, which could be from either realm). Looking at it, a question arose in his head—but not one that he would ask or dwell on. Mistress Flandre was sensitive (or, more accurately, “volatile”).

“Evening, Mistress. Alone again?” he asked.

“What’s that behind your back?” she asked immediately, ignoring his question and turning her eyes on him without turning her head. When she did turn her head, a smile began to part her lips—one that said she’d caught him in “the act”—though there wasn’t really any “act” at play here. “I see...” she spoke smoothly, her right fang glinting in lamplight. “You’ve finally come to me with a wooden stake, huh? I see, I see.”

Flandre spread her arms, letting go of her toy bear and allowing it to roll onto the floor. She put her head on the seat of the chair behind her, exposing her neck in time with a pushing out of her chest.

“Be gentle, though,” she said. “And, if you’ll let me make a second request: please spare this child.”

Her right hand lazily indicated that she meant the stuffed bear.

“Mistress,” Gen began, sourly, “cut that out.” This joke was in very poor taste.

“Ehhh? You aren’t here to kill me?” Flandre asked, lifting her head. “Is that alright? The child is innocent, but I’m such a terrible, terrible, malevolent being.”

“Which would you like to hear: my saying that you aren’t, or that you most certainly are?” Gen asked.

“I’m not my elder sister,” Flandre replied, and she let her head rest again.

“... You aren’t those things, Mistress Flandre,” he said, and to that Flandre said nothing. “May I offer a gift to the innocent younger sister of Scarlet Devil Mansion?” he went on, leaning very slightly forward.

“A stake...!” gasped Flandre, lifting her hands and spreading her fingers into exaggerated, clawed postures. “Through my heart...!” she howled dramatically, and she threw her hands over the source of her precious little lifeblood.

“Can’t you stop!? That’s horrible!” the apprentice snapped.

“Right...” Flandre sat up as she whispered this, giggling after in—what else but a devilish way. The vampire girl looked at him. “You wouldn’t let me puncture you, so I can’t let you puncture me can I?”

Gen was not an oblivious boy. He frowned a disapproving frown at his younger mistress.

“What do you stand to gain from putting it that way?” he asked, embarrassed enough that his words were delivered almost in a grown.

“What way?” asked Flandre, with waving at him a mock gesture of befuddlement with her right hand. “In Japanese?”

“... No—”

“English WOULD be better!” she said loudly, closing her eyes and raising both hands now and shrugging and grinning openly. “It’s a much better language than the Japanese I have to speak in this silly land!”

“You sound like Lady Remilia now—”

“Oh, Gen. Was it the innuendo?” the girl asked, as if she had only just realized. The look in her now-open eyes said she definitely had not.

“You’d ordinarily say ‘bite’, wouldn’t you?” he answered, sighing.

“You wouldn’t let me bite you... I certainly won’t let you bite me,” Flandre replied, laughing again, The boy could tell: he was now blushing a little.

She’s talking nonsense again... he thought miserably, his shoulders slumping. Better to cut to the chase.

“I brought you something far less-compelling than what we got for Mistress Remilia, but I thought you might enjoy trying to master it, Mistress Flandre!” He forced the conversation ahead.

“What an exciting way to say you picked up a lazy souvenir for me! Thanks!” said Flandre happily. She was not being sarcastic.

“It wasn’t lazy... I thought this was a decent idea,” he spoke honestly, and a bit hurt, as he revealed the toy he’d purchased.

“What the heck is that? Are those rings? Are they candy? Is that food?” A slew of questions came at once, all as honest as could be.

“It’s not food,” Gen answered one of them, and then pressed one of the game’s yellow buttons. Water rushed up and swirled some of the rings in the tank. None landed on any of the pegs within.

“It’s a snow globe that’s box-shaped? It’s a box globe?” Flandre had stood up and was now walking toward him, her eyes focused on the little plastic toy. The smile on her face was now one of interest and amusement.

“Wouldn’t that naming schema lead to ‘snow box’? And it’s not that anyway. This is a game,” he replied, taking his other hand to it and trying to play the little thing properly. It really was more of a storm simulator, if he was to explain it more honestly. The little rings danced one intense and wild dance, being buffeted by rapid and interchanging water jets, but a wild dance wasn’t something controllable. After a minute of attempting success, a yellow ring settled over one of the pegs (all of which were mauve in color ), and he breathed out.

“One of them landed around that thing there!” said Flan in surprise. Perhaps she was convinced about her snow box theory, and thus genuinely had not expected some sort of game to manifest within it or show itself to be the (hidden(?)) main purpose. He could see her face through the water tank, and realized he didn’t usually stand before either of the Scarlets. They were both extremely tiny, and seeing the discrepancy between his height and theirs proved a bit of trip. The two were always so imposing, after all; their stature and charming fashion undercut that aura of intimidation.

He got the urge to pick up the Scarlet standing in front of him, but he also – firmly – had no death wish.

He needed to sit down or change where he was standing...

Gen walked over to the wall beside the cabinet, leaning against it once he reached there and playing with the water ring toss all the while, pretending that his Mistress’s cuteness was not disarming him. Flandre followed, eyes still transfixed.

“... Ohh,” she eventually breathed. “‘Ring toss’, right!? I’m pretty sure that’s the name!”

“Have you not played ring toss before, Mistress Flandre?” asked Gen, looking at her face now not through the tank, but directly.

“Festivals have too many people, and fairs show up more often in the day,” she explained.

He gave her the device.

“This is an honestly cheap imitation, using more randomness than actual control or skill to win. I’ve never won at it. I’m not sure anyone really has,” he said. “Kids usually play this on long car trips. It’s just something to waste time.”

“You can use different levels of pressure, huh...” his Mistress muttered as she fiddled with the game, testing its limitations. “Car trips... A rocking and bouncing car would totally mess up the balance.”

“I don’t think it’s balanced in the first place,” he retorted. Flandre, extremely focused on her new task, pressed at the two buttons and, in a few seconds, landed five of the rings onto the highest of the three pegs within. “... Hmm??” Gen made a sound of confusion.

“I’m not really sure I get it yet,” said Flan, almost to herself, “but I think I can figure this little thing out! ... Oh yeah, you said ‘master’—you think I can master this?” She met his eyes.

“I’m pretty sure you can eventually master anything, Lady Flandre,” said Gen, not even trying to sound complimentary—his voice and tone told that he was merely stating the truth. He crossed his arms, shifting his against-the-wall posture, and he admitted, “But, I was actually a lot more certain you’d never figure it out, because I was almost one-hundred-percent positive that these toys were unbeatable scams.”

Flandre huffed a breath from her nose and looked up at the human pitifully. “You bought me a scam toy,” she said, bluntly.

“I was interested in see your frustrated face...” he said, frowning with disappointment.

“Why did Elder Sister hire weirdo humans to take care of us...?” Flandre muttered, her wings slumping in a tired fashion.

“I’m technically not hired, I’m the live-in apprentice of Lady Patchouli,” he clarified.

“I’ll complete this game like it’s nothing,” Flandre went on, pushing at its buttons a few more times. “But it’s cheap, right? What will you give me if I beat it quickly?”

“What will I give you?” he repeated.

“Yeah, what will you give me?”

He thought about it.

Can’t give you my hand in marriage, anymore... “I would love to give you another gift,” he said, eyes closed in thought. He looked very pleased with himself.

“Yeah, okay, so what will the gift be?” Flan ignored his silliness.


[] “A kiss.” (on the cheek)

[] “I’ll play with you for an entire day.”

[] “Shall I serve you for an entire day?”

[] “What do you want, Mistress Flandre?”
File 158263581782.png - (1.20MB, 1109x1158, bored.png) [iqdb]
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image source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/78906475

also this is an alternative I was thinking of using, but I liked the other picture more (source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3520256 )
And the hand actually has a source image itself: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2329230
[x] “I’ll play with you for an entire day.”
[X] “What do you want, Mistress Flandre?”
Fuckit
[X] “A kiss.” (on the cheek)

Lets see what happens
[X] “A kiss.” (on the cheek)
It's time to derail this story quite horribly.
[x] “I’ll play with you for an entire day.”
cute flan is cute
[X] “A kiss.” (on the cheek)

very cute
[x] “Shall I serve you for an entire day?”

Damn, all options are great! But this is the win/win choice.
[x] “Shall I serve you for an entire day?”
[X] “What do you want, Mistress Flandre?”
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[X] “A kiss,” he replied.


“Pfff!” A burst of air was forced out from Flandre’s lips. With her eyes closed, she chortled heartily. “Kyaha! Ahahaha! Gen, you’re so stupid!”

The apprentice faux-gasped, lifting his bushy brows. “That wouldn’t do?” he asked.

“A reward for you is supposed to be a reward for me?” she asked, looking at him with eyes that told she thought he must be joking. “Don’t kid yourself, Gen.”

“Even if it was on the cheek?” he asked.

“I’ll let you kiss me on the cheek if you learn how to walk tightropes or something. Until then, you can’t kiss me at all!”

“Tightrope...” He looked as if he was thinking about it. “Well, forget that then,” he answered, relenting.

“Don’t give up so quickly! ... Ah. Ahhh...” She continued playing her little water game, sounding disappointed as a ring fluttered away from one of the pegs. “Anyway, no. Something else.”

He thought things over.

“... Playing with you, or serving you all day: which would you prefer I do, Mistress?” he eventually asked.

“Hmmm...” Now Flandre thought things over. After a few seconds, she answered, “The first one. Play with me when I beat this,” speaking with an almost dismissive tone: the tone she took when she was genuinely giving an order, request, or command. Hearing it, Gen stood straight and nodded, once.

He told her. “If you can, then I will.”

“I will, and you will,” she said with extraordinary calm. Her focus was on the game. Gen watched it as well.

“... And if you do well then...” she suddenly spoke up again, and he turned his eyes onto her. Peeking up over the top of the toy, her eyes met his as she told him, “... maybe I’ll reward you right back.”

“...” He stared, not moving any muscles in his face.

... Mistress Flandre is flirting with me again.

It’s never possible to tell how serious she is, either..

If she ever pushes me down again, then...


He told her, “Right, I await the day.”

She returned her gaze to the game and said, “By patting your head.”

“Ehh...?”

--End of Chapter 16: Ordinary SDM--
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The forces of nature, the spirits born from them, life itself—all is woven in the tapestry of magic. So, with study, the world is shaped by your words, your writings, even only your tongue. If you can conceive it, you can cast it. You only need to know how, or discover the Way otherwise.

To spool and spin a cloth that flows with heat as if a living being, what you need is—


[] Blood.

[] Breath.

[] Powdered fire.

[] A trapped and bound soul. Not a god—you need a contract.

++++++++

Flan source: https://www.pxiv.net/en/artworks/78860271

Wrote how I'm sure Flan would react, fell back to the other three... three-way tied options. As there were two votes for her call, gave it to her. To be clear: had "Flan's choice" been the one voted on most (or second-most), she would've picked a fifth option. As things landed this way, I had her decide between only two. Felt I should explain this. There's definitely significance in having offered a kiss.

I hope everyone recognizes these hands.
[X] Blood.

Yatta! Blood for the blood gods!
[X] Blood.
Blood for the Blood God Bones for the Bone Throne!
[x] Blood.
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[X] Blood.


[♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzdgIYzoZUY ]
[Soulless Village, Bran Bal - Final Fantasy IX Piano Collection (Uematsu Nobuo)]


Or, that is what the boy was inclined to believe from what he read. In a secret room, with a cadre of fair folk, he read aloud a black passage from one of the tomes they had brought. He spoke of death; sacrifice; viscera, entrails, and the letting of blood. The fairies shivered in fear, and listened.

“And to have the blood at its hottest, to have the heat of life bound truly eternal, you must extract the heart you require as it still beats...” he read.

The flame lighting their hideaway flickered, and the fairies shrank away. The boy looked over the text again.

“... No mistake about it,” he judged. “Blood; and obviously mine won’t do...”

One of the childlike beings around him piped up, trying to ask, “A-Are you gonna—?”

He replied: “Cut one of your hearts? No. Even if fairies are effectively immortal...” He returned to the tome.

What would be best... he wondered.

There were a few candidates...


[] A chicken, of which there were plenty.

[] An innocent rabbit.

[] A devilish goat.
[X] A devilish goat.

A goat obviously everyone knows there the devil in disguise
[x] A devilish goat.

There aren't any goat hus, right?
[x] A devilish goat.
[X] A devilish goat

To be fair goats are usually the go to for blood sacrifice.
File 158382897438.jpg - (635.75KB, 799x1153, not too hard to find.jpg) [iqdb]
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image source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/59620338

++++++++

[X] A devilish goat.


And there were many peaks to choose from where they would be grazing. Gensokyo was mountainous; it did not only have one “Mountain”. Furthermore, his maid peer had taught him the basics of hunting.

“We’re going, to find a goat,” he said. The fairies swallowed, and nodded.

So, still in secret (afforded by some of the fairies’ powers), he sojourned to a nearby hill outside the mountain. They quietly snuck up on a lone serow. He cursed the stout, fluffy creature to fall asleep, and had the fair folk help him bring it back down. The morning crawled toward noon. He stared at the sun in the sky, thinking nothing. Though... soon, a thought: if this was successful...

If it was, indeed, successful:

He would have passed his Master’s test with flying colors.


Friday morning.
Nine days remain.



“A-Are you really gonna do this, Sir Gen...? Do we have to be here when you do it?” asked the flaxen-haired Parchment beside him. They had returned to their hideaway, and the goat was unconscious before them, resting on a slab, upon which was writ a magic circle.

“You’re dulling the sound, Parchment,” he replied. “May is obscuring the entrance, Thelma is maintaining the shadows around us...” He lifted a finger before his lips and told her straight: “This is a secret for only us. We are doing something the rest of the Mansion can’t hear of,” because I don’t want them mocking me for failing in the first place.

The blond gulped, and the rest of the crew shivered.

“Don’t worry...” said the Magician’s Apprentice, “the Mistresses will have goat for dinner.”
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[♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpwKAx-qMvw ]
[Keeper of Time - Final Fantasy IX OST (Uematsu Nobuo)]

He changed to a dead tongue.

Be still.

Vapors of the air, hear me.

Rest, rest.

Sleep, and dream.


The atmosphere shined briefly with a cerulean, sparkling light. The air became calm. The goat grew relaxed.

... Fires of the air, grant me—

Grant me your breath, for a moment.

Boil. Simmer.

Enough. Sweat the earth.


The room’s temperature rose. The animal before them shook for a second, and its breathing quickened.

He waited a moment, then continued.

... Evils of the air, yield to me.

Do you wish for fear?


Something sickening swirled around them all. He swallowed, keeping down his nausea. The fairies barely kept together, but Evil had its audience with him—the fae were merely collateral from its activation.

I wish for terror,” he said, and he waited until he could see it: a churning miasma, only visible for half a second. Its shape was small, impish. Ideal.

Nightmare,” he bid, “make this creature suffer.

It descended. Shortly, the ghost kicked in its sleep.

Good... he judged, and he withdrew a knife he’d prepared for this: one longer and larger than that he used when gathering materials.

He ordered of the fairies, in his native tongue: “Prepare the cloth.”

[♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXL2QC4yuA0 ]
[Pandemonium, The Castle Frozen in Time - Final Fantasy IX OST (Uematsu Nobuo)]

And once more he spoke darkly, the energy of his spirit lifting out of his body like smoke. “Let the blood in this body FLOW!” he bellowed. “Flow, endlessly, through these veins!

LIVE, beast!

BREATHE. LIVE.


With his left hand, his right maintaining the spell craft over the panicked creature, he plunged his knife into its heaving breast.

Distressed, it delivered a high-pitched snort through its nose, still kicking in an effort to flee.

FLOW!” he commanded the blood as it poured hot over his hand. “FLOW!

The heart is here...! I have to be quick!

He carved its body open, quickly muttering the words for his other spells—those which kept the beast from giving out.

Past bone, past muscle...

Within its chest, a heart beat: triangular, pink and red thing, still beating.

He dropped his blade, reached within its body, and grabbed hold; pulling at the organ carefully—having to tug and jerky it from the flesh. His arm became drenched and dark. A smell of rust filled the room. At the end, the heart was within his grasp—thumping rapidly, and still tied by those passages and cords which brought the beast to life.

He then soundly declared: “This heart is mine, BEAST.

There was a pulse of power—of the Art. The animal shook. The air shook. A red light shone throughout the room.

“Lift the cloth now!” he shouted. The three fairies responsible for this task did as told, fluttering into the air and holding a sizable, knitted wool red blanket aloft.

You have never died, beast,” he continued as blood rose from the body, running through the air like rivers. “This heart still beats. This blood still flows. You are ALIVE.

You will never perish.

The heat of your body will never cease.

From this heart—!


He held the organ high. The blood in the air seemed to melt toward the ground.

I SEAL YOUR LIFE IN THIS! THE VESSEL IS FOREVER! THE BLOOD IS IMMORTAL!

You will only ever fade at my word.


It all blended together overhead: a cosmos of red and thick liquid. The air became sweltering. A light bled out from the blood itself, and died at once to shade, leaving not a drop in the air at all. Instead the cloth the fair folk held became drenched for an instant, horrifying them, before the fabric absorbed it all as if quickly sucking through a pool. It was left dry and...

“I-It’s warm!” said one of the fae holding the vessel.

The goat perished.

Itou Gen looked up at the item in the fairies’ hands and smiled.

With half his body soaked in blood and viscera, he thought to himself only this: I’ve done it.
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~~

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=KrFHVpPN4B8 ]
[渡し舟の娘 - TOHO BOSSA NOVA (ShibayanRecords)]

“Incredible, Gen! You’ve exceeded my expectations once more! This is wonderful—excellent work!”

Against this shower of praise from his Master, Gen stood frozen in place, an open and almost incredulous smile worn on his face.

In the library, his Master was standing with the blanket he’d just given her, infused with the essence of a living goat’s blood. She had, slowly, gone over the make of the article itself, and also the composition of the spellwork upon it, and she had grown increasingly, visibly delighted throughout her evaluation, ultimately resulting in this.

“You sacrificed a beast’s heart for this, didn’t you? Was it... Ah, it must have been a goat, right?”

“Y-Yes, it was a goat.”

“It’s so warm...! A serow’s blood! I’m so proud of you!” She brought the blanket to her face and clung to it, ecstatic.

“W-Well...” he began his response, trying to straighten his back as he continued, “it wasn’t simple magic, for sure. I get why during sacrifice rituals I’ve seen in movies and stuff, there’s usually a circle of people practicing it...”

“Indeed! You have to keep the beast panicked for something like this. Dark rituals are very delicate—at any point you could’ve been lacerated and drained of blood yourself in the process!”

Wow. I knew that already but she said it so plainly.

“Did you induce panic using a nightmare?” his Master asked, still glowing and smiling.

He nodded. “I did.”

“Did you make sure to ward yourself properly beforehand, so that it doesn’t visit you tonight?”

“Yes.”

“A greater nightmare? A lesser nightmare?”

“Lesser...”

“Good. Then I expect your wards to hold. You’ve really done so well! Is there anything else...”

“Master... you’ve never been this pleased with me before,” noted Gen, now standing straight and folding his arms. He was feeling rather overwhelmed.

“You’ve taken a huge step in performing this magic,” Patchouli said, smiling enough that her cheeks were being pushed up. She did not elaborate, however. Therefore...

He said, outright, “What step is that? I just performed by the book, though it was difficult to manage everything.”

“My student is really fantastic. You don’t even realize, and that’s what makes you exceptional. I wonder when it was? When did you become this dedicated to the Art?”

“What do you mean?” he sincerely asked this. His Master sighed pleasantly through her nose.

“If you don’t understand... perhaps one of your friends will let you know. Gen, you’ve really performed splendidly. Will your drive bring you to my level?”

“Of course!” he swore, just as sincerely as before.

“Good. Meet me here, my prized Apprentice,” she invited him, and for a moment—just a moment—something of an understanding came to him. However, he couldn’t truly recognize it; it slipped away. “For today, I want you to settle down. Please avoid using magic as well.”

“Huh??” Gen was utterly incredulous. He then gasped, asking, “Did I exhaust myself by accident?”

Patchouli shook her head (still, the smile never left her lips). “No, just do as I say. You can enjoy yourself however you like, but don’t use any magic.”

“Does that include flying?” he wondered.

“It does.”

“Even flying!?” He couldn’t believe this.

The Magician put on a sly face, and smoothly gave her apprentice a warning: “If I detect that you have used magic today, I will deliver that punishment onto you that I promised.”

You never “promised” anything of the sort! he snapped back in his mind.

“I will put this away,” said his Master, turning with the cloth in her hands and seeming to finally calm down. She was still in an evidently grand mood, however. She seemed outright giddy, and he noticed a concerning rasp in her voice.

But, she glided away before he could ask about that.

Alone, he realized: ... All that, and she didn’t hug or pat me. That’s... That’s quite awful.

He scowled, turning toward the entrance of the library and marching forth.

Miss Suika will hug me... he thought. And, he smiled. I’m in a great mood. Let’s go on a date!

But to where?


[] A date in flowering fields.

[] A date in the Human Village.

[] A date wandering Gensokyo’s farmlands.
[x] A date in flowering fields.

Patche is cute
[x] A date wandering Gensokyo’s farmlands.

Flowers give me a bad feeling.
[X] A date wandering Gensokyo’s farmlands.

Stay away from the flower youkai.
[X] A date wandering Gensokyo’s farmlands.

Go out have a nice walk and get some potatoes!
[x] A date in flowering fields.
[x] Village

A date kinda needs to be romantic! Flower fields are either filled with ghosts (and rats) poison or deadly Youkai so that's out. And farmlands... well they has seen those often enough I imagine.
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image source: https://twitter.com/htk_mikan/status/1155862752591618048

++++++++

[X] A date wandering Gensokyo’s farmlands.

~~

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=hsSggjl8SLo ]
[手を叩こう- 東方猫鍵盤3 (Buta-Otome)]

He left the mansion during midday, and so even from the door he could tell that the Lake had been consumed by mist. He stood at that door with his hands in his pockets, feeling the breeze running through the hair that poked from behind his hat. The breeze shifted the mist not an inch... to that strange Lake, it was as if wind did not exist.

In silence, he trudged through the front gardens, toward the Mansion gate. To himself, he thought, Can’t fly over, can’t fly past...

At the gate, he rattled a bar, grabbing the guard’s attention.

Meiling looked at him quizzically and went through the slightly bothersome process of opening the way for him.

“Could you not just fly?” she asked as he stepped through.

“Master Patchouli’s orders are... I can’t,” he told her.

“And yet you’re going out?” she asked while locking the gate again. She acted very smoothly... this was common around noon. The mist meant she needed to actually be attentive during this hour every day.

“I want to see my lady friend...” he said absently, withdrawing a small roll of paper from one of his pockets, and his pen from another. He wrote something on the paper, and waited, thinking, This should be fine. The magic is already cast, and I’m not using any manipulation of spirit—mine or otherwise.

“Be careful,” bid Meiling, and she returned to her position, peering into the white fog before her.

Ten seconds later, a tengu flew down to the young magician’s left, kicking up a gust as she did so. Meiling took a stance at once, relaxing upon her notice that the ordinarily very wary and jumpy Gen was entirely unconcerned. If he was unconcerned, that meant he knew who this was. And of course, he did.

The twin-tailed bird lifted her head after landing, and with a brilliant look in her eyes she asked him, “What’s up, Gen!?”

“Hatate...” he began, asking as he turned his head: “It’s fine if I write you from here?”

“I figured I knew what you were thinking yesterday... so, I stopped you. If you’re just making contact from Scarlet Devil Mansion, it’s fine,” the tengu explained, standing generically (for a tengu) on one of her geta.

“Thank you for not always following me, as I asked,” he told her.

“Not to worry!” said the bird with a smile and a polite-looking hand gesture beside her face. “I know how to respect my subjects, unlike some people.” She meant Aya. “So? Why’d you want me?” she asked.

“Could you find where Miss Suika is and tell her to come to the Mansion?” he requested.

“Gegeh—!” Hatate made an absurd noise while recoiling and shutting her eyes. “Th... The oni!?” she confirmed.

“Please do it,” he bid lightly, really pleasantly.

Hatate answered, “Fine...” rather sheepishly, looking askance, and she spread her wings. Beating them once, she... probably entered the sky, and was gone.

“Gen... a tengu? You’re risking a lot...” Meiling noted behind him.

“She’s pretty harmless,” he explained, stretching his arms and fingers.

“Even if she isn’t dangerous herself, she can spread harmful rumors... or worse: truths about you. It could come back to you badly,” his friend told him, speaking in a serious whisper. He smirked at her.

“If it comes to that,” he said, “at least I’ll know who to roast later.”

“Hehh... I suppose,” said the guard, returning to her stance once more. A bead of anxious sweat was stopped on her cheek. “... Gen, is something different about your ki?”

“...? Wouldn’t you know that better than me?” he asked, returning his hands to his coat pockets.

“Well, I’m not su—Heh!?”

For a moment, they both froze with fear. A great wind had blown past them and the lake had become void of mist. The sun shined on both of them now perfectly. The phenomenon had been summarily dismissed, out of nowhere, and so they both looked at the sparkling waters yards out ahead in utter disbelief.

The mist filled in once again in a few seconds, and a solid shape formed from it, in front of their eyes: a small shape, flanked by a pair of what looked simultaneously akin to stalactites as well as an old tree’s branches.

“Oh...” Gen sighed with relief. “It’s Miss Suika.”

The oni dropped to the grass in front of them once she was complete. A crow landed some paces behind her, looking nervous. The elder youkai lifted her head, smiling excitedly.

He threw scissors; she did as well. They grinned, and she stood, patting off her skirt.

She spoke first, “‘Sup, Gen? You start rulin’ the Mountain after yesterday?”

“I-I’m not at his beck and call!” mentioned Hatate behind her: blushing, raising her shoulders, and balling her fists.

“No,” Gen answered, smiling. “I’m just horribly calculating.”

“What’s up? You can’t fly or somethin’? It’s not like ya to not do stuff yourself. Mmn, c’mere, c’mere.” Suika raised her arms and beckoned him toward her. He of course obliged.

The oni took his face in her hands and brought it toward her own, kissing him on his lips and making some sort of highly pleased, squealing sound. With her claws at his temples and venturing beneath his hat, he felt an undeniable and rather embarrassing excitement. He close his eyes as she had closed hers, keeping his hands up as he had raised them prior in surprise.

Mmmmmwuh!” She was being cute. She beamed at him, and he glowed in return.

He squatted to meet her height.

“S-So... Y-You two are really in a relationship?” Hatate asked while he looked into the oni’s face rather fondly.

He questioned the bird with a “You knew?” And then he answered, “Yes, we are,” as he reached over to that face he couldn’t look away from and cupped its cheek in his palm. Suika held his hand in both of hers, moving to enjoy the sensation of his relaxed fingertips on her skin and smirking enough that he could spot her fangs. After a few seconds, however, her smile vanished and she paused. With brows pushed together and lips pouted, she moved her head forward just slightly, lifted her chin a little, and sniffed at his wrist.

“Hmm...??” he gave a sound of confusion, raising one of his hefty brows. “Something the matter?” he wondered. Suika took her right hand from his and clawed not particularly gently at his chest, still looking as though she were determining something. She patted over his heart, and felt his ribs, palming under his arm as well. “What’s up?” he asked, a bit worried.

She pressed her nose into his wrist entirely and, looking askance, sniffed at him again—deeply.

“Gen, you...” she began... but she only ever began. Dropping the subject with a “Never mind” she said. “Um, we’ll talk about it later.”

Eeeehh...? I don’t stink, do I? I mean, I shouldn’t. I cleaned myself of the goat’s blood and properly rewound my clothing.

“What’s the matter, Gen? Do you stink again?” asked Meiling. He quickly turned his head to look at her in shock.

“He stinks?” asked Hatate, holding her nose and stepping back. He turned to her, sweating and bothered.

“He doesn’t stink,” said Suika quite bluntly. She started patting down his front, and pulling something from his clothes with her power. What, he wasn’t sure. It seemed to be black. She gathered a sphere of it smaller, in fact, than the span of a one-yen coin, and put that sphere between her palms, whereupon she crushed it into nothingness.

Wiping her hands in a “job well done” gesture, she eyed him and asked, lightly, “So, what is it? A date!? Are you gonna take me on a date!?”

She got excited partway through and grabbed the front of his clothes, grinning with her nose against his.

“Yes... I wanted to take you on a date,” he replied, still thinking about what could possibly be the matter. He moved her hands off of his robes and stood up. “I need your help, though. Lady Patchouli forbid me from using magic. I want to walk through the farmlands...” He drifted off, looking toward where he meant. Then, he let his head fall back, draped his left hand over the front of his skull dramatically and bid, “Carry me!”

“Aight,” Suika said this as she chopped at the back of his left knee, causing him to plummet. As he stumbled in surprise she held out her arm, catching him by his back and subsequently sweeping him off his feet. With his hand still draping his forehead, he blinked at this chipper oni and thought to himself, My prince...

“Oh! Oh! Can I come too!?” This was Hatate.

“Of course not,” he said, and she seemed confused by this.

“You can watch from far away if you want, it’s not like we’re goin’ anywhere to hide; s’not like we’ll be in private or anything. Do what ya want,” was Suika’s somewhat slurred answer. He didn’t love it, but it was true: they weren’t going anywhere in secret. She met his eyes then and told him, “Keep an eye out, ‘lright? I can’t see everything and you can’t use magic. We’re going someplace safe but I gotta cross the mist first and you look real yummy.”

He wasn’t sure how she meant that.

“I mean that ‘cause I wanna ‘eat you up’ but most youkai jus’ wanna eat you up, get it? Heheh.” Youkai humor.

He was getting more and more used to it.

Looking out as she requested, he awaited her leap into the air. It came in a second, and they were off; Himekaido Hatate keeping an appreciable distance.
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^^^Update there, too, in case you missed it^^^

++++++++

~~

The journey was mostly safe...

His girlfriend had to kick a few lurking youkai in the face, but nothing serious occurred, Most, it seemed, could recognize her unusual silhouette through the fog, as even with her carrying a full-grown human male in her arms that silhouette had an absolutely unreal pair of arm-length shadow-horns.

Therefore, rather soon, they were on Gensokyo’s open roads.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=V7xmoz-QXRk ]
[You're the Shine(Night Butterflies) – Milky Wink (FELT)]

Gen hadn’t traversed these much—or at least, he never really paid much attention while walking them. The roads were useless for someone interested in magic: the forests, mountains, and queer plains were all distant from here. You could somewhat rest assured that youkai wouldn’t be willing to attack you on this, the Human Village’s extended territory, but in exchange those precious materials were kept out your reach.

At least, aside from safety, there was another positive in that it really was a relaxing stretch of lands.

Flat with nay even the suggestion of a hill in side, and so beautifully green; the farms of Gensokyo stood unmolested and pristine, guarded by youkai and gods alike, in fact. Humanity was precious in this secret world, and near every being of fantasy within it recognized a native human’s value, even if gazing upon them caused grumbling stomachs and slips of drool out of mouths.

That wasn’t a nice thought. He moved his attention back to his surroundings.

Glimmering, water-full paddies, men and women trudging through them, barnyards with animals – the usual rural suspects – out to graze...

He was reminded, truly, how deep he was in the countryside.

In the Outside World he had no actual experience with such places, and here in Gensokyo he really only apprenticed. He went through woods and gathered materials... He explored beneath the Lake and studied in the Library.

Though a lot had changed, in some sort of way he still felt like he had it a bit “easy” when watching those humans go about their usual, effort-filled days... but only a moment. Only a moment did he think that. He himself knew how much of his life was poured into and bound steadfastly with magic.

“Nice, huh...” his oni remarked. He looked down to her, walking beside him.

The road was long and clear...

“It is,” he agreed.

“Gen, you ever done any farming?” asked Suika, meeting his eyes.

“I’m a city boy...” was his answer. “Have you, Miss Suika?”

“Mm-mm,” she grunted and shook her head.

“Really? In all this time?” he teased.

“H-Hey!”

“Surely this king of The Mountain had to have grown something on it? A few of rebellious legumes, perhaps?” he continued.

“I had other people grow stuff...!” she admitted, whining and embarrassed. He lifted his eyebrows. He was surprised she’d done even that much... He knew her as so thoroughly apart from a throne, having abdicated in times pre-history, that it still was somewhat difficult to picture her giving orders or instating laws. “What about fishing?” It seemed she wanted to get off the subject.

“You sure like asking questions about me,” he noticed. She blushed, and looked at the road before her feet, eyes widening.

“‘C... ‘Course I would! Aren’t you going to ask me stuff, too!?” she retorted. Oh, he thought, still wearing a smirk from having toyed with her, she’s annoyed.

“I prefer sitting down when I ask you questions,” he replied, looking out on the path they were traveling, spotting a few white birds and briefly wondering what they were. He told her: “Because I enjoy looking into your face as we talk. That’s harder to do while walking around... I’ve always got to keep aware of what’s around us and where we’re going...”

He looked down at her. She was hiding the face he liked to look at behind her hands. The tops of her ears, poking out from her hair, were a brilliant scarlet. Seeing this, Gen closed his eyes and smiled more genuinely.

“Also you’ve asked me that already: if I’ve ever gone fishing,” he revealed. She began to slouch; his heart warmed to see it.

“I didn’t forget—I was nervous!!” she almost screeched with embarrassment, and her words were ashamedly honest.

“Yeah, I got that.”

He came to a stop. She heard this and stopped as well, taking her hands from her face to reveal the shy and almost miserable frown behind it.

They were in front of one of the rivers which flowed out from the lake, and more specifically they stood in front of a rarely creaking water wheel, surely polishing rice inside the small building it was connected to. She looked up at him. He, with his hands in his pockets, was looking at the wheel.

“Well, if you’ve forgotten or not...” he said, “I haven’t gone fishing, and I’m looking forward to trying it as you suggested at the time.” He looked at her then.

Her nerves easing, she answered, “Yeah, it’ll be relaxing.”

“Old lady,” he said.

“Wh-Why do you keep making fun of me...!?”

“I’m in a giddy mood,” he admitted, chuckling.

“Gen... do you want to know how old I am?” asked Suika. He paused his chuckling with a knuckle before his lips, met her eyes and said:

“You can tell me whenever you’d like to. I really don’t care how old you are...” And suddenly, he felt his confidence waver. Looking back to the mill in front of him, sloshing indefinitely, he told her, “Your age, honestly even your looks... it doesn’t matter to me as much as who you are.” He frowned, feeling his face warm. “I like who you are, Suika.”

For a few seconds, she seemed to be looking at him in silence. When the seconds were up, she took a light hold of the wrist of the hand he still had in his coat pocket. She pulled at him, took his hand, and they stood side by side watching the river flow; the sun’s light falling over its surface and fragmenting a thousand times...

“... Gen,” the oni eventually said, “you did some sort of evil today, didn’t you?”

“Eh?”

That was sudden.

“What do you mean?” he asked, glancing her way.

“No—I mean, you did right? You couldn’t have done it without knowing what you did,” she said, glancing in return.

“... Sacrificing a goat?” he posited.

“... You did that without thinking!?” She was in shock.

He was mostly dumbfounded. “...” he went quiet, thinking over his actions again.

“... The goat had to die for the spell to complete,” he explained.

“No—that’s—Gen!“ she was flustered.

“What?” he was still confused.

“Gen, are you even sure about what you’re doing!? You can’t take this stuff lightly!” He looked at her with an expression that asked her to go on. She did. “You committed a minor act of evil for the sake of magic,” she said, holding his hand tightly, “that’s the first step to turning into a youkai magician!”

... Oh.

... It is...!?


“And it’s specifically when you’re becoming so dedicated you stop thinking about consequences...” she continued. “What’d you do to the thing?”

“I slaved its sentiment to an artifact so that the blood of its heart, or more specifically the heat that provides, would keep the artifact warm—it was—that was the task, you know?” he told her. He then rationalized with, “... I mean, I didn’t take its soul.”

“What sentiment, huh?” she bluntly interrogated.

“That... That doesn’t matter, does it?” he queried, his gaze beginning to wander off. He knew that it did.

“What kinda sentiment, boy!?”

“... Sfrng... fr...” he mumbled.

“Hah? Wanna say that clearer?” she pushed.

“Suffering and fear,” he admitted, with a face indicated he had needed to drag this admission out of his gut.

And she snapped a retort of, “See!”

“It had to suffer! For the spell!”

“That’s the point, idiot!”

“Actually, it was rather high level magic. An idiot couldn’t have done it,” he came back with this, sincerely and sternly.

“You’re a HUGE idiot!” she emphasized, lifting her free hand as she chastised him. “This is crazy! You’re already this far gone!? What did the fluffy magician say?” she asked,

“Fluffy”... She means Master, right?

“Lady Patchouli praised me,” he said with barely hidden pride.

Suika made a fist. “I’m going to hit you,” she said.

“What the heck!” he shouted, pulling back a bit.

“Of course she praised you! You’ve gotten so dedicated to black magics it’s taking a hold of how you think! You’re starting to turn into a sorcery conduit! You know what that is? Vessel? Battery? You’re turning into a completely magical being!”

“R-Really?” he asked with a shy and faltering smile. Suika’s eyebrows pushed together and up into a caret slope, and gazed upon him in disbelief.

“I’m not complimenting you, dumbass,” she growled.

“To me, it sounds like you should be,” he replied truthfully.

“Of course it would!” she replied back dismissively, waving out her fist. She then heaved a rattling sigh. “... Has your Master at least warned you about turning into a youkai accidentally?” asked his girlfriend.

... Ohhh.

He snapped the fingers of his right hand.

That’s why Lady Patchouli forbid me from using magic today!”

“You should’ve realized it, stupid,” Suika rightfully scolded.

“Right; I know that falling too fast and incorrectly will end up turning me into a drooling creature, worse off than a beast,” he told her.

“Well... that’s good,” she admitted, her eyes now returned to the reflecting water running below their feet. She held his hand with more strength, and he returned the gesture. “... You shouldn’t become a youkai without thinking about it. What you are, from when you’re born, is special. You can’t ever really go back once you march forth.”

...

I know.


She turned her head. Seeing this out the corner of his eye, he turned his head as well, and they locked into one another’s gazes.

“Promise me something, Gen,” she said, and he listened. “Promise me you won’t use me as an excuse to turn if you do. That ain’t how it should be. You’ve gotta want it... for yourself.”

He gave what she said consideration, for almost a minute.

In the end he answered, “Of course I promise. My life in Gensokyo didn’t start with you, Suika... it only became that much brighter.”

She puffed a breath from her nose and smirked. “You’ve gotta make everything into a pick-up line,” she grumbled.

“Is it working?” he asked, his tone hopeful.

“You know it is, you...! You...!” She started jabbing at him playfully, and he caught her fist in his right hand with every mock blow. “Take it seriously...” she eventually whispered, gazing distant toward his stomach.

And he replied, “I do.”

The sound of a camera shutter rang out.

The couple looked toward the road they had wandered from, seeing Hatate there with her phone-camera out.

“... Great! It’s great!” said the tengu. “I’ll put it in your wedding album!” she said, closing the device and beaming.

The image of an oni and a human, holding one another’s hands before a sparkling river and an idyllic water mill.

Gen looked at her blankly. “... Did you have to?” he asked.

“Give me a copy,” Suika ordered. He frowned at her with some scorn.

Hatate waved a goodbye and returned to the skies.

Suika caught his attention again, now with a chipper smile. She asked him, “Where to now, my Husband?”

“Quit it...” he insisted. He looked off toward the Sun then, absently stroking her fingers with his thumbs. She resisted squirming.

“Where”, huh...


[] “Let’s keep going. I think there’s a sweet potato farm or stand around here.”

[] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
----[] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.”
----[] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go ask Marisa about it.”
[x] “Let’s keep going. I think there’s a sweet potato farm or stand around here.”

Give Aki sandwich
[x] “Let’s keep going. I think there’s a sweet potato farm or stand around here.”
[x] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
-[x] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.

"I'm going to interrupt the date somewhat, yes, but I'm proving that I'm taking what you said seriously"

"Sure, I'm going to another woman's house, but with you-and you can brag around!"

"I'm not Yandere Alice Fag, but Alice has gone through the process, whereas Marisa hasn't-yet"
[x] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
-[x] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.

Someone who has already gone through with would be more helpful.
[X] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
----[X] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.”
[X] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
----[X] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.”
[x] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
-[x] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.
[X] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
----[X] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.”

Screw Marisa she caused this!
File 158668791555.jpg - (2.95MB, 2125x3000, the unsettled oni.jpg) [iqdb]
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image source: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/75503861

++++++++

[X] “You’ve gotten me a bit concerned about this ‘evil magic’ thing...
----[X] “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go see a puppeteer I know.”

“Oh...? Sure!!”

Suika hopped in place and beamed as she said this.

“Ugh...” he groaned, “you’re so cute, Miss Suika. You’re always so happy, I can’t stand it.”

“Bask in my happiness!” she commanded, now speaking with arrogance. “Soak in it! Get happy yourself!”

“Yeah, I’m feeling it,” he said half-jokingly, taking a knee and waiting for the oni to pick him up.

“Good, ‘cause I bet you’re gonna need it.” She separated her hands from his, and slapped his bottom. A jolt of surprise shot through him, and he raised his eyebrows. “Talkin’ about evil and stuff... ish no good!”

Had she snuck more juice while he wasn’t looking?

The oni lifted him by his rear, raising him up over her head with one hand.

“I should squeeze yer butt more...!” she remarked. Now slightly embarrassed, he merely replied:

“P-Please go! Before someone sees this.”

“The crows see everythin’,” she breathed, still looking happy. She stepped backward, just lifting into the air. “I’ll get this picture too! Of my trophy husband!”

He attempted to look down and her while she held him shockingly steadily, only managing to twist and turn awkwardly. He tried to ask her, “Wh-Where’d you learn that ter—”

But she was flying toward the forest of magic before he could do so, or explain how within context... he was certainly no mere trophy. He was assuredly a catch.

The catch held his hands over his head and braced his entire body as his oni lover bounded over treetops, and began hopping on and through that lush canopy.

~~

He noticed that she already knew where Alice Margatroid’s home was.

Indeed, she had spent a while simply watching Gensokyo for the last month rather than showing herself in a more “ordinary” form. Right, he knew that.

Still, as he stepped from off the seat of her palm and palmed his butt in mild annoyance (and his shoulders, and clothes in general, which now bore a few twigs, leaves, and even spiders’ webs) he felt compelled to remark:

“You really are a voyeur, Miss Suika.” He straightened up after saying this, having been slouching until then.

“Nah, nahh; I’ve just looked’t people, out and about, or in ‘n not about, like this one.” She pointed, drunkenly, at the white western house before them. She looked at him in a daze and said, “This one doesn’t leave much.”

“Let’s just head in,” he replied, dismissing her defense. He turned as he spoke, and began to walk toward the front door. It struck him that the last time he’d approached this door “on his own”, he’d been very, horribly wary. That wasn’t the case at all anymore.

He knocked.

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=22h4X4MaokI ]
[snowdin - acoustic arrange - Undertale arrange (fjsmu)]

Shortly, he heard, “Yes? Who might it be?”

“An associate,” he answered.

“Gen? Right...” He heard her approaching the door. Opening it, she said, “It’s been four months. As scheduled you’ll be wanting another massage, then?”

He gave a bothered “No...” in response. His lady eyed him suspiciously. Seeing her, Alice lifted her eyebrows. In earnest, she hadn’t noticed that the oni was present.

“That is...” she trailed off.

Gen followed her gaze and put his hand down on the oni’s head.

“‘The oni’?” he posited.

“Yes...” muttered the blond magician, eyeing Suika for a while. Suika was still eyeing Gen. “She is with you... why, exactly?”

“She...” he paused, realizing “she” seemed suspicious of him, “... is annoyed, evidently. She massaged my shoulder, Suika.”

“Yeah? Why?” grunted the oni, now eyeing Alice with equal suspicion and not only a little malice. Alice seemed to raise her caution at this.

“I damaged it while rescuing spring,” he explained.

“And you scheduled another!? That’s not what you said you came here for!” She lifted a fist in a huff.

“She’s lying. We lie to each other,” he told the petulant youkai while looking at the one before him whom was apprehensive. “It’s one of our traditions.”

Alice then said, through a cool smile directed at the oni, “His other tradition is to leave me wet.”

Suika twitched.

He lifted his hand and flew backward from her fist, which had been swung at where his abdomen would have been had he remained. He stopped before one of Alice’s windows, crouched low and grasping at his heart.

“Did you have to put it that way!?” he yelled at the Magician he could no longer see.

“Would ‘soaked’ have been better? ‘Drenched’?” she asked around the doorway, wearing a light expression. “Ah... ‘sopping’, then?”

He frankly had no words for Alice, only a look of hate and utter disbelief.

“Suika!” he shouted before the oni could enter an oni-styled rage. “I’ve never lied, alright!? That’s the truth! Not to you—not once...! You understand!?”

She seemed to cool off from that, believing him.

But her sharpened gaze next pointed at the mage, who straightened her back and attempted to look polite rather than piss-afraid.

“Oi,” grunted the smaller, older youkai. She put a hand on her hip and gestured at Gen with her thumb, asking, “You wanna fuck my man?”

“Y-Your man!? Really!? I... I...!” This seemed to shock Alice Margatroid... in a right way. Ignoring the vulgarity of the question, she turned her head to Gen, grabbing the doorframe and looking at him with magic in her eyes. She exclaimed, “Really, Gen!?”

Idiot! She’s pissed off! he screamed internally.

“You stupid, puppeteer? I kicked your ass so easy it was like scratchin’ mine, and you think ignoring me is a good idea!?” Suika spoke with pure intimidation... That being said, he wasn’t sure that Alice felt it. “Go on! Answer truthfully! Oni hate liars!”

“Then...” Alice began, turning to look this oni in the eye, “you must really love Gen.”

He felt it in his face: he was blushing.

She, Suika, was beet-red now as well, and had been entirely thrown off guard.

“L-L-L-Love is...! That’s... not... somethin’ to say yet! E-E-EEeeven if I—No! I mean...! I... I... I LIKE him b-but....” Suika continued to stammer, lifting a finger and wagging it about as if she were a lector; standing on one foot and barely managing to keep her balance.

Then, Suika stomped her lifted foot down and screamed, “SHUT UP!” followed by, “SHUT UP!”

“My, you’re so upset,” Alice remarked. “May I consider this a victory, then? My revenge for your trouncing me a week ag... Goodness, it’s only been a week.”

Suika covered her face with her hands and screeched into her palms, muffling herself.

Gen stood; ashamed but forced to admit that this time, Alice had taken the point.

“Come inside, you two... what should I call you? ‘Shotgun newlyweds’?” said Alice, leaving them both embarrassed again. “I’ll put on some tea.”
File 15866880076.png - (1.42MB, 2355x1325, in the end the real master.png) [iqdb]
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~~

Inside of Alice’s western-styled home was as comfortable as ever. He sat now at a table by a window, not wearing his coat (it was hanging by the door—he didn’t need it, seeing as he was prohibited from casting anything, and so his book-belt and other things were left there as well), waiting for the host to tend to her guests. The other guest was was sat grumpily on the floor, defying the atmosphere. He liked that, though: how it seemed that Suika was Suika, no matter the time, place, or circumstance. Perfectly open, easy to read, and obviously truthful even when she was trying to be dishonest.

“... I’d prefer if you sat at a table, Miss Oni,” noted Alice as she approached Gen’s table with a tray that carried steaming teacups.

Suika glanced up at her, and still with a scarlet face gave a feeble, “Guh...”

“Now, now...” said Alice as she set the tray down in front of Gen. “I will let the couple sit together.” She lifted a plated teacup from the tray and stepped over to a couch at the far wall. Gen watched as Suika grudgingly crawled over to the chair opposite his, climbed into it, and staring askance out the window, picked up her offered cup.

She took a sip.

Alice took a seat.

Suika took out her gourd, and spiked the tea.

“Pf—” This came from Gen. Alice looked at the oni with incredulity. Sitting unladylike, spreading her left arm out over her chair’s rest and sinking in her seat, Suika more readily drank the “improved” beverage.

“So, Gen,” addressed Alice, lifting the cup and saucer in her hands and dropping the matter of her other guest’s lack of manners, “what truly brings you here today? And why with an oni?”

“Well... we can put Suika’s being here aside; it is... essentially unrelated,” he told.

“Oh?” answered Alice.

“Yes,” he confirmed, as the unrelated person belched. The magicians gazed upon her with equal reproach.

“Miss Suika,” he chided.

“Sorry,” she apologized. He could tell she was still bothered. Her hand was over her mouth and she was looking at neither of them—that roar had been one slipped.

“... I came to ask you about some things,” he went back to Alice, who sipped her tea and waited for words as to what those things might be. “Does... becoming a Youkai Magician involve becoming evil?”

“You didn’t believe me!?” interjected Suika angrily. He glanced at her.

“In fairness I can’t be positive that an oni is an expert on magicians,” even if you’re old. He kept that to himself. “Rather, it’s because I believed you that I wanted to absolutely confirm it.”

“You’ve done evil?” asked Alice, a bit intrigued.

“According to her—” he pointed at Suika.

[ ♫: https://www.infinitelooper.com/?v=E9Et37mUpUw&p=n#/0;339 ]
[Ice to Meet You! (Snowdin Town) - Live at Grillby's (insaneintherainmusic)]

Suika frowned.

“What sort?” sought Alice.

“Animal sacrifice,” he said.

“No,” said Suika. “You slaved its soul too: to a thingy.”

“I slaved its sentiment,” he retorted.

“What for?” queried his comrade in magic.

“A twist on necromantic arts,” he revealed. “Tricking a life into a seemingly traumatic experience to quicken its blood, and feeding that blood into an object.”

“Ahh,” breathed Alice. “To keep something warm? An odd experiment.”

“Less ‘odd’, more...” he waited for the words to come to him, vaguely holding one hand up, “‘novel’, perhaps? Though it sounds like you’ve done it before.”

“I’ve heard of it before. What did you use?”

“A goat.”

“Sensible.”

“So I’d concluded, at least.”

“You induced terror in the beast?”

“Mm, through a nightmare.”

“A bit risky. I would have just used whatever was on-hand.”

“I needed it sedated while extracting its heart.”

“Ahh... to keep the heart beating?”

“Correct.”

“You two...” Suika interrupted again, and those two looked at her, “... you’re totally crazy.”

“You’ve had quite the storied history yourself, no? Ibuki-douji,” Alice countered. She raised her cup and argued, “Perhaps you haven’t performed the same sorts of experiments we magicians may have, but with your queer ability surely you have had some fun testing your limits, and the limits of the world around you.”

“... Sure, but—”

Now Alice interrupted, “Magic is about finding the borders of reality, examining, and dismantling them. Rearranging them. Finding new form through the old, and if one is exceptionally lucky finding something new entirely on its own. You’re a master of rearranging, you should be able to understand this.”

Suika was unable to deny that. She did not simply clam up, however. She lazily lifted a finger to Alice and told her, “Fact is, malice, evil, wickedness, and sin can all be measured, and in the worlds we walk through that measurement’s still holding weight.”

“That is right...” Gen agreed. “And it is why I’m here.” He looked to Alice.

“Evil, hm...?” The puppeteer smiled.

“Tell the truth,” Suika urged. Alice chuckled through her nose.

“Evil comes with the package... typically,” the witch admitted.

“That makes more sense, I think...” said Gen, putting down his now half-finished cup of tea. “Let me guess: us magicians have some usual tendencies, and those of us who ‘make it’ are almost guaranteed to possess them?”

“That’s a fact, but not relevant,” said Alice, and once more Gen was confused. “When you devote yourself so powerfully to the art that you eschew morals, you open your soul to greater possibilities. The more you free yourself, the easier it is for ‘magic’ to become a part of you, because you are abandoning the old things that would ordinarily restrict you from the wider set of sorceries.”

“... Uh...?” He wasn’t quite grasping what she meant.

“Belief, will, perception, and so much else are fundamental to worlds like these... spiritual, and magical worlds. Worlds that have not succumb to reason,” Alice lectured.

“Yes...” He knew this.

“And in particularly—do you remember the six components of magic?”

“‘Ability’ of the caster, ‘temperament’ of the soul, ‘substance’ used, ‘space’ the magic is being cast within, ‘time’ of casting, and over all else: ‘fortune’,” he answered like a proper student of the Art.

“And which of those is relevant to our current subject of conversation?”

“... The soul’s temperament, huh.” He crossed his arms.

“I’m sure Patchouli has been properly taking care of your soul,” said Alice, pausing a moment after to drink. “She has likely done little to warn you aside from forbidding you from unwittingly tainting it. It is better for a true magician’s soul to mature without interference.. Various reasons in that: it is ‘healthier’, ‘stronger’, less fragile.” He nodded at this. He could believe it. “Since you’re coming to me about this, and this is Patchouli we’re speaking of, I take it that she told you to not use magic today to prevent your soul from being corrupted during this moment of growth. Like a muscle strained from exercise, your spirit needs time to heal, and be stronger, from what you’ve done to it.”

“Ya dirtied it,” Suika remarked matter-of-factly.

“Was that ‘dirt’ of the soul you removed from me at the gate?” Gen asked her, picking up his cup.

Suika lifted her gourd (her tea was done). “Nah,” she said. “That was a bit of nightmare left behind from what you were doing.”

Some of it clung past my wards...?

Alice noticed his expression, and responded to it: “It would have had an opportunity to slip through your wards as you’d just done something to compromise your soul. That is: an evil act.”

He grimaced slightly, unsure of how to interpret this information.

“Patchouli must have been very happy with what you had done,” said Alice. He looked up at her from his cup, a bit surprised that the puppeteer had nailed it. “And she must have been very worried, though it’s hard to imagine a worried look on that dull face of hers.”

He chose to ignore her bait.

“So...” Gen began to formulate his opinion on all he was learning, “there is an advantage to my temperament becoming dark, but it isn’t necessary for my becoming a real magician?”

Alice eyed him with a question in her look, but she did not verbally express it. Instead, she answered, “Correct... but it is difficult, really, to be a pure soul when one dabbles so heavily in black magic.”

“Because the forces I’m working with are risky?”

“No,” said Alice, “because you are the type interested in such things.”

What she said had Gen feeling unusual.

Suika glanced at him from across the table.

He looked into the little amount of tea he had left, at his blurred reflection.

“...”

He felt... as if he should feel apprehensive.

But in truth he felt nothing.

And it felt as if that lack of worry should worry him... but still: not a drop of worry came.

At some point... though he didn’t know if it was a point so much as during some gradient period... these sorts of things had stopped worrying him completely, and he had not recognized that.

Alice, studying his expression, knew precisely why that was, and knew the face he was making for one she had once made herself.

Gen spoke up. “Miss Suika,” he said. The oni lifted her head and bettered her posture. “Would you hate it if I became... morally void, for the sake of my study?”

“I’d only hate if you lost your mind,” she answered. “Just be careful.”

... Hmm.

He furrowed his brow, and gazed into the tablecloth before him.

The magician’s apprentice felt as if there was a choice to be made here. As if he needed to consider the future sincerely...

But he had once in the past chosen to cling to his humanity forever, and here he was in the present contemplating how it might be for him once such a thing was abandoned.

He already knew: he was who he was.

And now he knew: what he was was something colored evil.

...

It was just so very odd: that that was something he didn’t seem to mind at all.
>Alice then said, through a cool smile directed at the oni, “His other tradition is to leave me wet.”

What a wonderful bastard! I love her all over again.

>And now he knew: what he was was something colored evil.

>It was just so very odd: that that was something he didn’t seem to mind at all.

We are what we choose to be.
File 158717679342.jpg - (146.32KB, 600x600, enjoying time.jpg) [iqdb]
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~~

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI0Ft8WSgZo ]
[5pm – Animal Crossing (Kazumi Totaka)]

He realized hours later that he’d been lost in his own mind.

Looking up from his cup, which seemed to have recently been refilled, Gen shook off his pensivity. He was alone at the table. He thought to himself, Suika’s...?

It turned out, she was playing with Alice.

Wha...

The oni had one of her miniature clones out, and was watching as it played with one of Alice Margatroid’s dolls (Alice, obviously puppeteering the blond, skirted pseudo-girl). They seemed to be playing patty-cake. Had Alice taught the ancient youkai the game?

He looked back at his cup, lifted, and drank from it, looking out the window absently.

How long was I thinking for?

...

Did I take up one of Master’s bad habits?


She had a tendency of becoming very absorbed in a single subject.

No... just a rare, serious think for once: that’s all.

He’d spent that time organizing his thoughts and feelings; thinking of goals, how to achieve them and why he even wanted to achieve them at all. Magic... he thought much of magic. Without an assigned task, his mind wandered from possible experiment to experiment, and possible spell to spell. His materials... both on him, and at home. He’d thought of a lot.

But, he’d dropped his date for all that... that was a misstep, even if he’d taken it unintentionally.

Dumbass.

He cursed himself.

And, he finished his tea.

His stare distant, he realized that this matter would continue to be on his mind without it being soundly addressed. If he continued along with Suika, he knew that he’d be distracted and – perhaps only seemingly – gloomy.

She was having a good time. He had to leave...

... settle his mind.

He stood from his chair.


[] He was going to head to the Sanzu River. The Shinigami might have some words for what he was thinking now.

[] Perhaps the kappa Aomu would have an interesting perspective... Did she know of any humans who had turned “something else”?

[] A proper authority on these matters was absolutely Hakurei Reimu.
[x] He was going to head to the Sanzu River. The Shinigami might have some words for what he was thinking now.

suika is cute
[x] A proper authority on these matters was absolutely Hakurei Reimu.
[X] Perhaps the kappa Aomu would have an interesting perspective... Did she know of any humans who had turned “something else”?

Haven't seen her in a while
[x] A proper authority on these matters was absolutely Hakurei Reimu.

My other thought is he cannot use magic today and Reimu's possibly is the only place that's probably safe to approach on foot if he's actually leaving Suika here.
[x] A proper authority on these matters was absolutely Hakurei Reimu
[x] A proper authority on these matters was absolutely Hakurei Reimu.

She is an enemy, and telling her of what could happen is a mistake. But it's a guarantee that, if Gen decides to turn, he will die. So it's a win for my own goals.
>>68077
>She is an enemy, and telling her of what could happen is a mistake. But it's a guarantee that, if Gen decides to turn, he will die. So it's a win for my own goals.
To be clear, since Gen is in Alice's category Reimu would have no beef with him. She is only worried about Villagers turning.

Aside from that being her canon mindset, looooong ago the matter was brought up in this story

>He looked to Marisa. “So, how’ve you been?” he asked.
>
>“Oh yeah, seeing ya reminded me!” she began with excitement. “I’m cookin’ up some magic usin’ that master of yours for reference. We ain’t never fought, have we? You wanna see the work in progress? I’m nearly done with it!”
>
>“No,” he answered, eyes closed, “I already told you I’m pretty low on energy right now. That besides, I already had a spell card duel today.”
>
>“What? You can only do one a day or something?” questioned Marisa in disappointment.
>
>“Rather, I’d still like to restrict casual play a bit. I think I can do it – perhaps I even have seven or eight fights in me – but if I can avoid it, well... I need that spare strength, you see. We’re both humans, Marisa, but not of the same category.”
>
>“Oh yeah, you’re not from here,” Reimu recalled, returning to the pair with a cup of tea and another skewer of dango. She offered both to Gen as if this was a matter of course, and the gesture struck him as rather disarmingly kind. He took the offerings, she sat back down on her knees, and he watched her thinking Goodness, it’s like hosting is just apart of her.
>
>“Yes, I’m an outsider,” he eventually confirmed.
>
>“Want me to send you home?”
>
>“Huh?” sounded Gen in slight surprise, “Oh... no. No thank you.”
>
>“Gen’s gonna become a Magician,” chimed in Marisa.
>
>“Hmmm? Really?” Reimu asked, absently rotating the cup in her hands. “Well do what you want, but if you ever move to the Human Village don’t even think about it.”

https://www.touhou-project.com/others/res/65922.html#65991
>>68080
Ah so it is focused on villagers only? I see. I guess it'd be a bad idea to put dangerous, uh, ideas on food.
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https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1348701

++++++++

[X] A proper authority on these matters was absolutely Hakurei Reimu.


“... Miss Suika, I’m going to head somewhere else. You’ve noticed I’m... confounded right now. I’m too distracted for this—our... date.” After saying this, and looking away from the two girls now looking back at him, he offered “Sorry,” and “see you tonight.”

He stepped swift toward the door, took up his coat, and gave Alice a nod and thanks. The little oni beside her stared after him with a wide-eyed, flush-cheeked face. The magician host nodded in return before her eyes fell on the stunned elder youkai. As the door opened and closed, Alice raised her eyebrows, covered her mouth with her three longest fingers, and asked herself whether or not it would be acceptable to indeed remark on the remarkable smoothness of the exited, gallant apprentice.

~~

Though he knew where he wished to go, and got to heading there with speed... Hakurei Shrine was really very far away from the Margatroid residence, and he hadn’t walked many places for a very long time.

For a while, Himekaido Hatate seemed to want to call out to him from the trees after he’d left the forest and gotten on the road to the Village. She mustered the courage when he was near to that settlement, flying to his side and asking, “Is something wrong?” He told her he was heading for the Hakurei Shrine to talk about some things.

“D... Do you want me to carry you there?” she’d asked him while her head was turned to the eastern border where one could find the barrier’s edge and the maiden who protected it.

He answered, “What? Of course not.”

She’d then shot him a look and given an emphatic, “What!? Why not!? You did it with that oni!”

He said, “Of course I did,” and moved along. The bird followed him, floating behind his back, which forced him to go around the Village instead of through it. Not that he hadn’t walked through the Village with youkai before; it just wasn’t worth any potential trouble if anything happened and he couldn’t use magic to handle the situation.

All in all, by the time he’d reached the Shrine’s staircase he could tell that the day was beginning to give out. He marched up the flight, Hatate leaning her back against his all the while as if he were a moving lounge seat, or he was a car and she a passenger. With a slight frown and a low brow, he continued unabated while the tengu futzed with her phone-shaped camera.

The torii gate approached relatively shortly (comparing how long it had taken him to get here at all). As he crested the hill, he heard the little shrine maiden’s usual sweeping. He looked at the sky, noting its darker blue.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJG_SYgVUIc ]
[Ideal and the Real – Persona 5 The Royal (Meguro Shoji)]

“... Hm? Who? ... Oh. Gen. Hey.” That was the shrine maiden’s slow response. She looked past the young man’s shoulder and scowled. “That tengu, too...”

Hatate feigned ignorance, continuing to play with her phone camera.

“Hello Reimu,” said Gen.

“Egh...” Now Reimu opened her mouth awkwardly and winced, leaning away. “What? You look like you’re depressed.” She frowned, and eyed him warily, saying in no uncertain terms: “I don’t do therapy; I do exorcisms.”

“I just had some questions,” the apprentice revealed as Hatate glanced behind herself to look at the younger of the two humans.

“About?” asked Reimu as the apprentice walked forward.

“Reimu...” he began once he’d approached her to, in his opinion, a satisfactory degree (ultimately: a meter apart from her), “what really happens if I abandon my humanity?”

“...” Reimu stared at him, processing this. Her face then glowered as a growing, open-mouthed smile brightened it. Gen looked back at her in confusion. The child then brought her eyebrows together, smirked, pointed at her elder, and said, “Y’see...!? I was right! Me and Marisa were right!”

“What...?” What is she talking about? He hadn’t the faintest.

She continued to point, saying “You’re gonna turn because of love!

He glared and said, “No.”

“I seriously can’t believe it’s with Suika, by the way...” she went on, ignoring him, prodding toward him without any touching. “You asked for her this morning... Why? So you could kiss?”

“It wasn’t for a kiss...!” He knew not to mention that they had kissed, however.

“You kissed when you were leaving the shrine the day before yesterday...” she reminded, smirking even more.

Gen shut his eyes, blushed, and gritted his teeth. After stewing in embarrassment a little while, he growled out the reasoning: “Miss Suika wanted that, so...”

“Why are you trying to tell me you’re not thinking of doing something crazy for love, then? You’re so obvious, and girls can see a love-struck face really well!” she boasted, holding her broom like a staff at her side and resting the knuckles of her free hand against her hip.

“Get your eyes checked,” he retorted flatly. Looking at her, he explained, “I’ve just realized I don’t mind the idea. Suika has nothing to do with it.”

She just looked at him, smugly. Hatate looked toward him, with pity.

“Okay,” he admitted, “she has something to do with it, too.”

“I know,” said Reimu, and finally she stepped closer and poked him: in his side. He bent to it, frowning. “Okay, so, what do you want?” Reimu finally allowed, him, though still she looked quietly self-satisfied.

“I want an answer to what I asked before you began teasing me,” he said. “What happens from giving up my humanity?”

“You should know that. Are you stupid? Is that librarian not teaching you right?” Reimu’s voice and expression were concerned.

“Right. You’re Reimu,” he said, realizing he’d made a mistake.

“Seriously... You don’t know or what? How about you tell me what you know, and if there’s something the purple witch hasn’t told you I’ll be nice and fill you in?” offered the haughty Reimu.

“Alright, well...” he started, standing up straight (Hatate stretched out her wings and readjusted her position), “if I become a youkai I gain quite a lot, including – assuming I became a magician, specifically – lots of spiritual power, new magical power and energy, no need to eat or drink, and agelessness. As for negatives... A shinigami insinuated she wouldn’t appreciate me going from human to youkai and...” He paused, thinking. “... Master has mainly informed me of the risks of doing things improperly,” he said, “if I screw up and corrupt myself by accident I can become a mindless, filth-eating beast for example. Master hasn’t encouraged or discouraged me from becoming a youkai. Actually... come to think of it, she’s pretty much the only one who’s never mentioned the possibility to me.”

“Hehh... she’s smarter than I was thinking,” Reimu gave her acknowledgement with a bothered face.

“Because she’s been coaxing me toward youkaidom without letting me worry about it? Alice said something like that,” he told her.

“Yeah, so don’t think she was the nicest one around you for not ever bringing it up: she didn’t bring it up so that you wouldn’t worry about it. And now here you are, asking a shrine maiden if giving up your humanity is all that bad. It worked.”

I guess... he thought to himself. Reimu watched his expression.

“Look: you don’t even mind—you’re totally gone,” said Reimu.

“But...” he began to refute her. “... it’s really not bad?”

“Of course you’d think that, that’s how she’s got you thinking, right?” asked the little girl, as if what she was saying was perfectly obvious.

I... guess...?

“Don’t deny it,” Reimu scolded him. “I guess I can’t blame you, but she sure got you good. I can’t break something like this; it’s in your head, it’s how you are now.”

Hmm...

Was it really?

“Well, I can tell you what you’re missing, but I’m going to hate saying it,” Reimu went on.

“Hm...?” he grunted meekly.

“Yeah,” answered Reimu. She sighed, looking toward some of the woods surrounding her shrine. He watched, and waited. “There are no ‘real’ downsides,” she said.

“... What?” he asked in disbelief. It was the last answer he expected.

“It’s an affront against nature and the cycle of life and death to do that. It’s a denial of ‘everything’ when you relinquish what you were and become something else. It’s a fake death, and a totally made-up life.”

“‘Made-up’?” he repeated.

“Manufactured, or artificial,” she clarified.

“I guess the shinigami did tell me that it wasn’t ‘bad’ inherently... she said hermits: those were problem ‘humans’.”

“You should ask Marisa or someone else more about hermits. I knew one, but she left a while ago and we weren’t particularly friendly, okay?”

“Okay,” he said. He nodded.

“I barely know about magicians...” she said in an irritated tone, grumbling. “I know why I say ‘human villagers can’t become youkai’, though.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because this world would completely fade away,” said Reimu, plainly speaking and looking into his eyes. “My job is to protect this world.”

A shiver pulsed through him, lifting the hairs on his neck and arms. It was a strange thing for a little girl to say... and with strange conviction.

“The more humans in the Village know about magic, and the more who abandon humanity, the closer we bring Gensokyo into a dead end... When I exterminate the Villagers who cross the line... I do it permanently.”

He went still.

He knew she meant “killing”.

“I told you before, I wouldn’t do that to you,” said Reimu. “You have a choice.”

“Why shouldn’t I take it?” he asked.

“The choice to become a youkai?” Reimu proposed.

He nodded, then said, “Yes.”

“That’s a better question for the Yama, I think...” said Reimu. “For you, it’s something inside you have to ask yourself, because it isn’t just a change of, say, color you’d be going through. That’s a change to self that can’t be reversed, as far as I know.”

“I see...” he whispered.

“You’re an outsider,” Reimu mentioned, “if you became a youkai, you could still go back to the Outside World at any time by asking me, but the world you recall now... the world as you’ve seen it might be gone.”

“What?” he asked, worried.

“You could die,” she revealed. “Because without the Barrier, and the humans of Gensokyo keeping your existence validated, you have to stick with either age or power, and either, like... way up there to not just... fade away, Forever.”

“Hm,,,”

“You also can’t be sure you’ll still ‘feel’ the same way as you do now,” said the girl.

“‘Feel’, like... You mean my emotions?”

She nodded.

“Why would that...”

He trailed off, He knew why.

“Because your human heart and soul will now be a youkai’s,” she explained what he knew, but had not truly acknowledged. “If you’re lucky you’ll be like Remilia. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be like Yukari. Youkai aren’t... I guess I’d say ‘formless and cruel’ like from the get-go—not anymore, and they haven’t been for a long time... but that doesn’t mean they can’t be.

“Human flesh will appeal to you.

“Terror will appeal to you.

“Violence will appeal to you.”

She stopped, and readied something powerful that both Gen and Hatate listened to closely.

“Youkai are slaves to their instincts, only barely able to move their hands and feet free from binding chains. The powerful do better, but you won’t ever be what you aren’t. Humans are free spirits, youkai are spirits caged.”

“...”

He had no response for that.

“Are you worried now?” she asked him, with surprising sincerity (though without any sympathy).

“... What do you mean worried? Worried how? About what?” he asked, almost defiantly.

“About becoming a monster.”

Hearing that, he attempted to hide that he was shaken, quietly echoing, “‘M-Mons’...”

“Which part?” asked Reim., Hatate watched intently.

“Which... What?” he returned.

“Which are you most afraid of?”

He flinched. “I-I...” he stammered.

But truly, he had to confront this.

I’m already violent... he thought.

I’ve already terrorized others... he thought.

He swallowed.

I...

could I... would I do... that?


Recalling the mansion’s kitchen, at an hour he was not meant to be there...

He’d heard a sound – a sound of humanity – and he’d seen the abode’s color splashed across stone and paper surfaces that should never have been scarlet.

And he paled.

“Tell me straight,” said Reimu, stealing his attention from memory, “okay? I’m listening.”

She was.


[] “... ‘Worried’? No,” he answered. “I find there’s no price too great for knowledge.”

[] “I’m worried, deeply.”

[] “I’m not going to worry about evil if I go, because I love others. I’m sure of it: I’ll stay sane.”
[X] “I’m worried, deeply.”
[X] “I’m not going to worry about evil if I go, because I love others. I’m sure of it: I’ll stay sane.”
[x] “I’m not going to worry about evil if I go, because I love others. I’m sure of it: I’ll stay sane.”
[x] “I’m not going to worry about evil if I go, because I love others. I’m sure of it: I’ll stay sane.”
[x] “I’m worried, deeply.”
[X] “I’m not going to worry about evil if I go, because I love others. I’m sure of it: I’ll stay sane.”

Stage one: Denial.
[x] “... ‘Worried’? No,” he answered. “I find there’s no price too great for knowledge.”

get motivated
[X] “I’m worried, deeply.”

He never seemed to enjoy being cruel, but he didn't shy away from it either. Let this be the last grasp of his humanity.
[X] “I’m worried, deeply.”

I think it's a reasonable thing to be worried about.
[X] “I’m worried, deeply.”

I am too
[X] “I’m worried, deeply.”
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https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3894962

++++++++

[X] “I’m worried, deeply.”


“Hm,” was all Reimu gave in return.

He asked, “That’s all?” lifting his head after having lowered it in thought.

“I said I’d listen,” Reimu reminded him, folding her arms, “and I did.”

“But...”

“I got you to admit that you’re bothered by something. Go take it to Patchouli, and maybe your ‘everything’ will get set straight. Whether you still want to become a youkai or not after you talk to her, I don’t care. You deal with it. I already told you, I’m not a therapist...”

She closed her eyes, sighed, and hunched her shoulders. Then, she looked at the bird behind his back, asking, “She gonna take you back home?”

“I thought you didn’t care what happened to me,” he reminded her in a weakened voice.

“I don’t care what happens to outsiders,” said Reimu, turning from him and walking toward her storage shed, “but I do care about my friends.”

“... Huh?” he uttered, but she was already more than halfway to the little building. “...”

“... Do you want to go?” asked the tengu resting against his back.

“Yeah,” he said.

“... Should I carry you?” she asked.

He turned, and started toward the torii gate.

“You’re really insistent. Do you want to kidnap me or something?”

Hatate was startled by this, recoiling as she floated beside his shoulder. “No!” she yelled.

“Why not?” he asked, smirking lightly.

“That’d be an international incident.”

He started down the stairs.

“The nations of SDM and... Tengu-land?” he proposed.

She grumbled, “Don’t make fun of me...” and they were off.

~~

[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=qvZYnyeON0A ]
[Emperor – Falliccia (Kenmochi Hidefumi)]

I’m going to confront Master about it...

That was his thought as he neared the Mansion gates, in early evening light.

I guess I’ll be direct.

Hatate had departed once the Mansion was in sight, having wished him a good night and explained, she just wanted to be sure her subject wouldn’t fall before reaching his home. He did appreciate it.

The youkai guard now spotted and addressed him, rather happily. “Sir Gen! Your lady is hanging around! She said she’d wait for when you want to go to bed!”

The human Gen blushed, avoiding her eyes and wincing. She’s too forward...! he thought, with Suika in mind.

“You can tell her that if I don’t die tonight, I’ll likely be there somewhat soon. An hour? Two?” he told Meiling.

“‘If you don’t die’? Are you planning to bother Lady Patchouli?” Meiling asked with curiosity, turning to open the gates.

“That’s a way of putting it.”

The gates swung open.

“Head inside, Sir Gen!” the girl directed him with an energetic smile and an inviting palm. She added, “Come see me when you’re ready to visit your woman!”

“Right...” he replied as he walked past, looking at the red-haired girl with defeat in his eyes. In honesty, “Suika” was a nice thought, but it wasn’t really the time to have her in mind.

He went through the courtyard, and entered the mansion.

He would keep interactions to a minimum, until his worries were thoroughly addressed.

~~

The now-familiar library.

The scent, the darkness...

The sound of turning pages that told him his Master was there.

“Gen...”

He heard her voice before he could spot her pink-laden form.

“You’re back, hm? Very late. You were pushing it.”

She was, like often, in a small and temporary study a little ways into the room. Walking there, he laid his eyes on Patchouli Knowledge, who was lounging and reading a novel on a scarlet couch. On her stomach was the warming cloth he had created, folded neatly.

“Or will you go out again, to those unknown places you rest in at night lately?” asked the soft-spoken woman, smiling his way teasingly. This embarrassed him a little, but with tension so deeply rooted in his skull and chest, the embarrassment only manifested in the slightest tinge of pink on his cheeks. His expression remained the same: one which suggested a quiet, aching pain, Patchouli closed her book, and lost her smile. “What’s the matter?” she asked him.

“... I’ve become evil, have I?” he asked.

Patchouli stared at him with no change in her eyes.

“... And you’ve made me that way,” he said.

She sat up, her hair swaying gently with the motion. However, she said nothing.

“I’ve started worrying... about quite a few things,” her apprentice explained.

“I have made you nothing other than knowledgeable,” said his Master plainly. “Your nature is yours. With a path laid out before you, you have walked it.” She straightened her back, looking to the back cover of the book in her hands. “The path was dark, but you walked it. You want to see what awaits along it, and at the end.” She met his eyes again, and again was unwavering within those amethyst pools. “The choice to walk that path: that is what makes magicians.”

“You’re saying I always would have turned out how I am now?” That’s what Alice said. But, Reimu told me Master’s... “You really had nothing to do with my growth?” he asked her, directly.

Her gaze lowered to his chest for a few seconds. “I see...” she said, in some confirmation to herself. Making eye contact once more, his Master told him, “I most certainly have tailored you,”

“Hm...” he grunted quietly, in a deliberate non-reaction, but within it felt to him as though lead had suddenly dropped down in his heart.

“I stopped you from veering off the path,” she said.

“... Hm?” he grunted again. He was taken off guard. Recalling what Reimu and even Alice had said, it sounded as if Patchouli had wanted him to experience a twisted fate... But, his Master wasn’t one to lie. Lying was useless to her. “Can you explain that, Master?” he requested.

“Let us elaborate this ‘path’ metaphor,” Patchouli answered. He gave a small nod, readying his mind for lecture.

So she began. “The path is the abyss of knowledge, with an obscure goal and a hundred thousand, several million shadowed hands grasping along the way. We magicians contend with the abyss, seeking the ways to its ‘end’. What lies at the end is, of course – conceivably – the ‘truth’.”

“Yeah,” he accepted. He knew this; an old explanation of any magician’s motivation, repackaged.

“Along the way we discover other truths of the abyss...” said Patchouli, tracing a finger through the air down from over her head, until she could point at the red carpet below her. “The darkness is not lit, but understood... adapted, applied. Our magic springs from the dark, as unknowns become knowns.”

He nodded.

“However it is dark, and blinding, and in the first place what has tempted us is the dark. The ‘end’, which none of us have yet seen.” The witch explained. “Lesser magicians, like the puppeteer in the forest, and the black and white, human witch who lives nearby her, will become satisfied exploring one realm of the abyss, or small portions of it. ‘Truth’ is their goal as ever, but not ‘the’ truth. This is also the trap of reprobates of the truest sense: those who are so enticed by the dark that they are consumed by it. Some taint is inevitable as we venture further... that is ‘evil’, but should you embrace it altogether... Should you plunge headlong to the depths without a proper understanding, then you are consumed... to become a thoughtless demon, beast... a monster, pathetically shaped like our kind.”

“And finally,” she finished, “even aside from these, there are worse.”

“‘Worse’?” he queried. Patchouli lifted her finger back up, stopping before her chest, and she looked at him.

“There are the thoughtful monsters,” she explained. “Monsters like me.”

“Eh—” he uttered, his brow distorting.

“And,” she continued, turning the aim of her hand, “like you wish to be.”

She pointed straight at him.

“... Wha—”

“Though it’s a matter of perspective and opinion,” she interrupted him, dropping both her gaze and hand. “What is worse? Doing whatever you like because you’ve utterly lost your sentient faculties, or doing whatever you like because you are able, and willing? Answer that...” she paused, meeting his eyes again, “and answer your dilemma. However, I know that you want to see the end as well, and that hardly anything will stop or stay your path. And no: if you’re thinking that it’s what you’ve done today that proves it... it does not. Rather, your ‘self’ does.” The magician relaxed her shoulders. “Gen,” she said, “you were always going to walk the path to its end. The abyss entices you as strongly as any magician, and you know that understanding it often means ignoring those who don’t, and would never.”

He grit his teeth with his mouth closed. He narrowed his eyes, and quietly broke his gaze from Patchouli’s: looking past her.

“I know,” said Patchouli, “because none of this really bothers you.”

He flinched.

“... It does! I’m human!” he shouted emphatically. “Being ‘evil’ isn’t what I’m meant to be!”

“I believe I’ve explained before...” the elder magician went on, unfazed, “... that lies, with me, solve nothing.”

“What—!?”

“If only you could hear how it was that you even said that,” she continued, giving a single, dry laugh. “How you emphasized the most damned word says it all. Gen, do you know what ‘evil’ is?”

“... I...”

He was unable to answer. There was conviction in his heart, but reason kept it down.

“Or were you upset,” she asked, “because the word was given to you, and you then realized you’ve forgotten?”

Again, he couldn’t answer.

“You know that the bother of ‘evil’ will only get in the way of discovery. You may even enjoy it: indulging in the dark that you have taken for yourself as you’ve learned. You have fallen like all proper magicians should: naturally, and with little concern. You aren’t so lost that you would resort to being overwhelmed, you are entirely the opposite: you have become so aware, and you have come to ‘know’ your place on this path so well, that you don’t even properly recall life before the dark.”

And Patchouli Knowledge smiled.

“And that,” she said, “is a wonderful thing.”

He wanted reassurance.

He didn’t really want this: this cold take.

... Even if she was right, and he didn’t remember.

He knew ‘evil’ to be wrong, but his view had been distorted. Itou Gen did not understand it anymore, it seemed almost not in the slightest. What was “bad”, really, when all you wanted to do was learn?

... This was as if he’d turned into a youkai somewhen, without having realized it whatsoever.

He still had his tether to old values. That tether told him: his continuing on would mean this link would one day sever, and like his Master before him, he might do near anything in the pursuit of knowledge.

And as she said, as he had realized earlier in the day, the idea of that happening... did not truly upset him.

But there was that.

There was flesh. If he would come to eat human flesh...

That primal, gut-centered revulsion to the idea that he had...

... it made him almost see his old values more clearly.

“I don’t...” he spoke, and Patchouli waited for him to continue, “want it: being a monster, eating people: I don’t want any of it. I don’t want to not be me. I don’t want to be a shadow aware or un-. I want this. What I have! I don’t want to be a... a husk!

“Then it is good we have an answer,” said Patchouli, “sitting before you right now.”

His emotions lowered. “Master?” he asked, to be sure.

“What do you think?” she asked, clarifying: “Of what you see. Of this Master who you know.”

“... You’re beyond me. A powerful person, who I admire.”

“Gen,” she addressed him, standing up. He straightened his back as she strode toward him, book no longer in hand. She stood almost against him, and looked at him with something rare on her face...

Earnest emotion.

The stern-eyed magician met him close, and from there she told him, “I will not do this often. You know that I won’t.”

She grabbed at his clothing, gripping his vest and looking at his torso. He froze, but listened intently.

“Don’t speak roundabout right now, I will not either. This is something important. It is important, Gen.”

He did not interrupt.

Patchouli spoke with a clarity he couldn’t recall ever before hearing in her voice. She often spoke... distant. Even when he had seen her shouting and impassioned, she had a quality to her tone that always spoke to practice. This was not practice... This was his Master, the magician Patchouli Knowledge, without a guard. Hearing her... he determined that she was speaking to him with what he could only call one thing: the entirely bare honesty of an oni. “Gen,” she called his attention again, and he quickly gave it, finding her eyes which were now finding his. Now, they wavered. “What do you think of me, as a person? Say everything—everything that you think. Tell me, who am I to you? Who am I, to Remilia?” Not ‘Remi’...? “What am I? Speak!” she ordered.

... So he thought, somewhat long before he would answer.

“Patchouli Knowledge...” he said a hefty while later, calling her with no title, “you are a magician with little moral awareness. You enslaved me and wanted at first to use me, a human, for experiments. You work closely with a devil who kidnaps humans. You exhume the dead for magic. You have no qualms, at all, with whatever it is that you do, and you possess one of the most loving hearts I have ever encountered.

“I have seen few people so vastly loyal to their friends: so close that they can be called family. You have the most charming smile I’ve ever seen, and every time I earn it, to witness it makes my love and devotion for you deepen more and more, more than I ever think possible. You can laugh, I have seen you cry; it is plain to me that while many things would not bother you for the sake of magic, you could never truly be so far gone that you would do some of the more reprehensible acts known to humanity, or simply to kin. You limit yourself... and you would never betray anyone, so... If... you are shaping me into you, yourself, or at least guiding me that way... I know why it is that until today I’ve never worried or questioned any part of the path.

“You are evidently evil, but also immeasurably kind... it is very much like Gensokyo itself: a contradiction that lives despite that.

“... And you don’t eat humans, which tells me it is unlikely that I will want to, should I ever turn.”

Patchouli waited a moment, to make sure that he was done.

And then, her lips turned up.

“Look at that,” she said, “I didn’t need to say anything at all.”

“But if you want to reach the ‘truth’, do you think you would really eventually do ANYTHING?” he asked.

“We always think,” she replied, “and that keeps us from being... completely detached, really.”

“Some reassurance...” he commented, “a guarantee of evil, but at least not to anybody I like... and maybe more?”

“Maybe more,” she agreed, with a nod. She was still holding his vest.

He had said that, in a mock dismissive tone... but he was reassured. The worries in his heart and head were simply, near entirely... gone.

“Patchouli...” he said, to indicate he still wished for openness for now. She listened. “Does Sakuya butcher the humans that Flan and Remi have through their tea and cakes?”

Patchouli shook her head. “Do you want to go see for yourself? We’ve caught an outsider again...” she offered.

“I do,” he said, resolutely.

“The process is simple. Syringes are difficult to come by so Sakuya lets their blood instead.”

“She cuts them...?” That surprised him.

Patchouli shook her head. “Bloodletting requires no such thing. It is a very simple and rather safe process. We keep the humans alive, and then set them out after.”

“And then, Meiling...?”

“Meiling hasn’t eaten a single human since she came here, that I know of,” answered Patchouli. “You may ask her yourself. Even if she had, would you stop talking to her?”

“I wouldn’t, I think,” he admitted. “That said, I think I remember you telling me that a youkai, once they’ve eaten human flesh, will endlessly crave for it again.”

“Did I?” she asked. “I would say that they always want that taste again, but not that they’ll necessarily indulge the want, nor will they necessarily have a craving. I don’t recall what I said, however,” she admitted. “Ah!” then she yelped with surprise. “I think I recall! I believe that’s what I said, then—what I’ve just told you now. Gen, shouldn’t you remember everything that I tell you?” she asked him.

“I try...” he gave her that, weakly.

“I remember that I told you Remi is called the ‘Scarlet Devil’ for a reason, but never explained it...” she beckoned him closer, his ear in particular, to her face. She whispered to that ear, “When she bites, she often makes a mess.”

“Ha...!” he chuckled. “So, it’s because—?”

“She becomes covered in Scarlet. She doesn’t kill often, however. Remi is a light eater,” she quietly explained.

She then pulled away, though she was still holding him.

“But she does kill, huh...?”

Patchouli lifted her left hand, pinching at the air to indicate... what she proceeded to demurely mouth at him: very, very rarely.

“I see...”

“But death is still a part of this Mansion,” said Patchouli, dropping her hand and looking at him with a somewhat plain, though oddly sincere face. “We have all killed in this Mansion—though not all the fairies. Flandre, too, has never killed anymore.”

He registered this information. Somehow, he knew Flan hadn’t, even ignoring that she had been previously imprisoned. If anything, her sister may have been trying to prevent her from having blood spilled on her hands...

“And if you kill, Gen?” asked his Master.

“I hope... that I have a damned good reason,” he said.

“If the reason is hunger?” she followed.

“Please make it so I don’t turn out that way, Master,” he begged.

“In the end,” she said, “everything comes down to you. Now, shall we go? Sakuya should be getting ready with the outsider.”

He paused, as he had a thought.

“...”


[] Ask for a hug.

[] ... No! NO! THAT’S EMBARASSING!
[x] Ask for a hug.

Gen is adorable
Oh right, I forgot.

>>68035
>Flan source: https://www.pxiv.net/en/artworks/78860271
Obviously that should be a pixiv link. not sure how I typo'd that
https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/78860271
[x] Ask for a hug.
[x] Ask for a hug.

Just for today
[x] Ask for a hug.

The boy needs some emotional support and isn’t here! Hug the Mage!
[x] Ask for a hug.

Previous choice turned out very well. I have a fondness for when characters talk to each other open and bare, it's one of the fun things I hope to see from stories.
[X] Ask for a hug.
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