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File 160247718446.png - (1.01MB, 1200x675, am disturbed at the lack of suzunaan pictures.png) [iqdb]
43026
Depending on who you ask. You’d get a lot of different opinions on this fantasy land called, ‘Gensokyo.’

If you were to ask the folks in the Human Village, they’d say that the land is nice so long as you stay inside the walls of the village. But if for some unfortunate reason you’d have to travel out of it, they’d still say the land was mostly fine so long as you’d stay within the well-traveled roads.

And avoided the enormous Forest of Magic.

Stayed away from any large fields of sunflowers.

Kept your distance from any large patches of spider-lilies.

Took care not to attract attention from the Tengu from the mountain

Made a large detour around the lake and avoided the scarlet mansion.

Oh and if you somehow had the ability to do so, stayed away from the big hole in the sky over yonder unless you want to visit the netherworld early.

Among other hazards.

‘But it is a nice place regardless!’ So they’d say.

If you were to ask the question to a youkai who was more willing to make conversation and not gore you for a snack ‘just because,’ They’d have a higher opinion of the land as a whole. But also mention some, if not a good chunk of the same hazards the villagers mentioned.

Then you’ve got the individuals that are practically the center of these hazards who’ll tell you that Gensokyo has no issues and will stare at you blankly and/or oddly for even suggesting that there might be some issues with this little land of fantastical paradise.

But who were you to think? You were just an outsider dropped into this hot mess out of nowhere. A case of ‘Right place, wrong time,’ that you quickly found out was all too common for something seemingly uncommon.

Months went by, through multiple strokes of luck and will. You had somehow managed to carve out a little niche for yourself as another ‘problem-solver’ of sorts. Taking cases from the village and, on the rare occasion, the more sophisticated youkai.

Luckily for you, the majority of cases were just small-time stuff. ‘There’s a weird noise coming from the attic!’ that would turn out to be a possessed heirloom and just needed to be moved or exorcised by one of the shrine-maidens’ charms.

‘There’s a kid wandering around the streets at night.’ Which would turn out that there was never a kid. Just a young youkai curious about the human village. A short bit of walking and talking and transferring custody to the local teacher takes care of it.

Of course, there’d be times where the seemingly innocuous cases turned out for the worse. A case where a farmer’s particular livestock was behaving erratically would turn out to be a sudden extermination case when it would suddenly transform into a fresh, feral youkai.

Then there’d be the high risk, high annoyance cases. Ones where a youkai had been causing either havoc or mischief to the point that one group or another puts out an ‘Extermination’ request for any able-bodied person to take upon. The kind of case where it’s not as big of a priority for the local shrine-maidens, but a big enough thorn in the side where it wouldn’t take much for it to be pushed to their radars.

One might ask, ‘Well, why not let them take that little extra step and get punished by the more severe authorities?’

To that you’d reply, “Why did a sane person like you wind up here?”

Many times it’s just a coincidence on the side of the offender and us, ‘problem-solvers,’ take care of it before it can even get the chance to escalate any further. Worse comes to worst, the more ‘specialized’ folks end up taking care of it in their free time.

But a more prominent issue is that sometimes the youkai -or sometimes even humans-, that bring themselves up to this level of notoriety are just as aware of this threshold as anyone else are; and would cause just enough trouble to where they wouldn’t get the swift and decisive hammer of the law bearing down on them quickly.

In a way, it grates on your sense of morality knowing that individuals or beings can just cause enough trouble and stop just short of getting swift retribution and slink back into the shadows waiting for the heat to die down before making another mess.

But in another way, if it weren’t for this, ‘threshold,’ folks like you wouldn’t be able to make a living in this line of work.

Which brings you to now.

A case a few days ago by a ‘concerned’ villager who happens to have an occupation in real-estate for the particularly wealthy section of the human village had led you to an abandoned mansion a little ways past the high class area of the village.

It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a high risk, high annoyance case when you started investigating. You found multiple reports of individuals going missing surrounding the area of the mansion. Which led to you obtaining the information that all victims were young men. Which then turns out that the reason why they were going inside of the mansion in the first place was because of a sudden rumor being spread around that there was a beautiful looking noblewoman inside ‘just waitin’ for her man.’

Looks like even across a magical barrier of time and space the man’s healthy yearn for the opposite sex triumphs over logic and reason. Many times.

You hit a roadblock however, when your experiences made themselves apparent again and reminded you that the last time you jumped straight into an extermination case on a level like this, you had to get bailed out by a passing youkai who thought that the offender was a bigger nuisance than you.

Which brought you to the local library of Suzunaan in the hopes of gathering information as to what the culprit might be.

Which brought you to another roadblock: While you were lucky in that the assumption slash theory that the ambient magic of Gensokyo allowed the language barrier to be traversed easily without issue. It isn’t wholly benevolent as to grant the same pardon for literature and writing in general.

And as much as you hoped it to be, there weren’t any books written in English or any other language you could understand, that focused on the Japanese mythos relevant to your line of work. Which only served as a crude reminder of your early decision to postpone learning the Japanese alphabet in favor of getting by with general vocabulary for your vacation to the mainland, not knowing that you were going to get swept up in a barrier mishap like other poor sods before you.

Sucking up your pride at the time, you sheepishly asked the young lady manning the store if she could find such a book, and additionally had to give her an awkward request to find an entry that sounded similar to the case you were taking.

Of course, she says it is not a big deal. But that little pessimistic voice in your head is no doubt playing multiple phrases in your head exclaiming that the lady is quite annoyed with you for taking up her time to be your personal interpreter and translator. Despite her assurances to the contrary.

A bout of time passed by in an uncomfortable atmosphere. Every once in a while the girl would turn the book around and point out an entry that would seem to fit the case description, you would write down a summary on a notepad, and ask for her to continue. All the while throwing in an apology here and there for her taking the time to assist.

After a little more time, the both of you managed to narrow it down to one likely suspect.

An Aonyōbō.

While it relieved you to have a term to pin this to, it also shoved a seed of doubt into your stomach as you were told all the information there was on it.

Rather, the sparse amount there was on it.

All that was written was how one would theoretically come to be. A lady of the noble courts of low social status, desperate to rise in the ranks yet never managing to do so. Her desperation and envy towards her fellow peers of higher status thus followed her into death and coalesced into what is most likely residing inside of the abandoned mansion right now. Luring in young men and devouring them as sustenance. A staple detail of many of the more ‘instinctual’ youkai.

Faced with this information, and the lack of a ‘textbook’ solution, usually meant one of two things.

Either this youkai can be removed through more, ‘conventional’ means of extermination.

Or this youkai requires a specialized method that is only known to those with prior experience.

It was a decision that made you think for a short while. But not dwell upon. if this youkai was as dangerous as to require a specialized method, then you doubted the human village would put out a request for a general ‘handy-man’ like you to take on.

Even if they did…

Well, if you fail, it’s not your problem anymore.

You expressed gratitude to the young lady of the store. Leaving behind a fee for her trouble -despite her insistence to the contrary-, you begin heading back to the primary area for your case. Stopping shortly by your temporary abode to grab your equipment.
File 160247732825.jpg - (247.94KB, 1200x900, Type 2 Hamada.jpg) [iqdb]
43027
Briskly walking down the village streets, you shift slightly as the weight of your gear makes itself known on your hips. The dated ‘Battle belt’ as you’ve taken to calling such items holding everything you hopefully require to handle this case.

Ideally you’d wish you had more ‘offensive’ means to aid you. But all you have to your name is just an old knife and antique pistol seemingly manufactured in World War Two.

Speaking of, you remove said firearm from the tan leather holster it resides in on your belt. The barely worn exterior of the firearm shining off in the sun’s reflection as you mindlessly admire the ergonomics of such a dated pistol.

The shopkeeper in the forest who sold you the pistol wasn’t able to tell you much. Only that it was a “Hamada Type 2.” It was by a stroke of luck that it even had a box to reside in with the manuals. Unfortunately said manuals were written in the language of the original manufacturer.

If you had more time on your hands, you’d try and figure out the history of this pistol. As it no doubt had a story to tell with its circumstances. You were always a sucker for this kind of stuff too. So to know that you held and used what was potentially a historical artifact instilled some sense of vague respect in the maker and the pistol itself.

The only real important things you had to know though was that it fired eight millimeter cartridges and the general operation functions as well as a pistol of its age should. Pushing back on the hook release on the bottom of the grip, you eject the magazine. The weight of the bullets stacked inside of it alerting you to its full capacity.

Due to the size of the cartridges, there’s only enough space to carry six shots, plus one in the chamber. A little less than you were used to when you were doing contract work around the world. But you have no space to complain. Finding firearms is easy enough here, albeit not as prolific. Ammo aplenty too. But the issue stems from trying to find a compatible pair for the two.

Could find any old M4 or similar looking rifle no problem. But any five point fifty-six cartridges was trying to win the lottery. Any that did come by was snatched up by other outsiders who were too used to the modern stuff. Mostly never getting used, as they ended up getting too cocky and went around thinking that they’re Superman now that they’ve got a firearm only for a feral youkai to come around and prove them wrong.

As it turns out, magically enhanced animals and the like are surprisingly resilient to non-enchanted bullets, particularly insufficient quantities of them.

Once again though, you’re one to talk. Seeing as how you’re making your way to an abandoned mansion with the intention of using a knife and gun to handle the youkai inhabiting it. Granted, you have more options. Notably the stack of varied-yet-generic charms and seals stashed inside your belt pouches.

The usual pattern with these kinds of encounters is to just whittle down the youkai’s strength with the lesser items or your weapons and then finish it off with one of the more expensive sealing tools. Usually being a talisman of a sort. Just slap the baby on the weakened youkai, step back, and watch the lightshow. Usually.

Hell, not even your conventional weapons would help you much either. In order for it to even do any damage at all to a youkai would require you to have one of the local priests or shrine maidens bless the weapon with a charm or talisman of a sort. Even then it would only last for a certain amount of time before you’d have to go back and get the ‘buff’ refreshed.

Although you have an inkling that it’s just them monopolizing the methods for their own profit.

All in all, being a lower ‘handy-man’ is a profession that always seems to feel like you’re not getting back enough with how much you put in. But, in a world where the only thing that’s actually stayed somewhat consistent between here and the outside seems to be fighting. It’s something you figured you’d have to jump on less you want to just lay down and die.

“Ain’t much, but at least it’s honest work. Right?” You mumble to yourself in what you guess is an attempt to reassure that you are a somewhat decent path.

Doing one last readiness check on your gear, you rack the slide and catch the ejected round to confirm functionality. Before removing the magazine and placing the lost round back into the mag and holstering the firearm after putting the mag back in. The gun is lubed, smooth, and workin’ good with two spare magazines in reserve.

Next is your knife, which isn’t all much to talk about. You never were a ‘knife’ guy, as usually any fights that involved one meant you would have to get really personal with whatever’s on the other side. All you can tell is that it’s just a standard Japanese Tanto, looked more oriental than practical with no... ‘guard’ of a sort. For lack of a better term.

It’s a simple design, but you always have the slight concern that at some point your fingers are gonna slip when using it and slice your pinky. But beggars can’t be choosers. You were lucky enough to find it in somewhat good condition shortly after your drop inside the border and you’ve had enough excursions with it that upgrading it to something better would put you off somewhat unless the blade drastically failed.

That, and finding a more modern knife inside the border would cost you an arm and a leg due to the high demand from other outsiders looking for similar gear.

All in all, with the old tan uniform you purchased from the shop that deals with outsider goods, you feel as if you’re just one step away from recreating a historical IJN kit. Which is somewhat ironic, considering your American nationality.

You’ve become aware of the sudden atmosphere shift from the usual hustle and bustle of the human village to the quiet, tense atmosphere of the abandoned high-class district. The wind slightly picking up and causing a worn down shop lantern to rattle from its perch on the corner of what used to be a general store.

The story behind the district according to the real-estate agent who asked you to take on the case was that apparently it was a moderately flourishing area. What you assumed to be the ‘leader’ of the district made one too many mistakes, and he panicked when the quality of life started plummeting and caused businesses and families to leave to other districts. More shenanigans happened over months, probably years, -you weren’t here yet when it was going down-, until he essentially ran it into the ground and ran away from his position, leaving his estate to deal with the fallout.

Considering that the culprit behind this case is in the very mansion the old ‘leader’ used to reside in, you can safely assume that the fallout wasn’t pretty for the subordinates involved.

Now, due to the nature of the human village itself, space can’t be wasted. So the real-estate agent wants someone of your profession to resolve the remnants of the past so he can get to work on reviving the district into something comparable to it’s prime.

When you summarize it in your mind, it really doesn’t seem all that out of place. You’re ‘technically’ just evicting a squatter who’s been sitting on a prime piece of land that the ‘bank’ wants to reobtain for their own purposes.

It’s just that the squatter just so happens to be an otherworldly entity potentially filled with malice and is ‘disappearing’ young men upon their entrances into the abode.

Nothin’ out of the ordinary...

You’re coming up onto the estate now, the old wooden walls in disrepair only show a fragment of what used to be a respectable home. Said building beyond the walls looking none the better to the walls protecting it.

A figure stands near the entrance. A guard you asked to be placed to prevent any more ‘healthy youths’ from testing their luck with whatever’s within. His lax stance as he shifts on foot to foot with his arm resting on his katana only shows that he’s had an easy shift.

Still, he perks up when he sees your figure coming closer to the mansion. His hand that was resting on his katana twitching to ready the sheathe just in case it was someone not supposed to be here. Only relaxing when he notices the tan uniform, switching back to the lax stance he held previously, irritation gracing his features.

You are not too sure if letting someone irritated take the reins on the conversation would be a good idea. So you prep a standard ice-breaker as you get within earshot.

“You look like you’re bored outta your mind.”

The guard shifts, glancing this way and that, looking for something or hoping for nothing. Perhaps his irritation was more anxiety then?

“Was there anyone who tried to get in?” You take a guess.

The guard gives you a blank look, apparently off-put at your question. “What? No. It’s been pretty quiet. No one’s tried as far as I know.”

“Why the jumpiness then?”

It is then that the guard's anxiety seems to increase upon getting noticed, looking like he’s about to bolt any minute as he once again looks around before leaning closer to you. “It’s been a little too quiet. And I’m not sure if my mind is messing with me or what, but I’ve been hearing things coming out of that house shortly before you got here.”

“”Things?”” You confirm, “what kind of things?”

Idly, you glance towards the horizon acutely aware of the sun’s position on the horizon. Twilight is approaching.

The guard responds, “Not too sure anymore, if I try and think about it, feels like I’m losing my mind. But if I were to try and guess, I’d say it’s more like a ‘call’ of sorts.”

You nod, “Sounds about right, if what we’re dealin’ with is true.”

“‘We?’”

Oh, right. Sometimes the folks don’t pick up on your phrases. “Don’t worry about it, it’s just me goin’ in.” Wanting to avoid the awkwardness, you push on, “Look, uh, go ahead and head back, tell the chief that I’ll be handling it now.”

The guard hesitates a bit, lookin’ at you in what seems to be in a mixture of awe and incredulousness. “All right. But uh…” He glances back at the entrance to the mansion, “You got a plan?”

You take a breath, not entirely ready to answer seeing as how most of the time you just tend to ‘wing it’ with these kinds of things. But you don’t think the guard wants to hear that.

“Of a sort. Problem with dealin’ with these kinds of cases is that usually the first plan gets thrown out the window as soon as shit hits the fan.”

“...’fan?’”

Fuck. “Look, tell ya what. I’ll leave a talisman here on the wall.” You accentuate with a slap on said wall, leaving behind a standard paper talisman. “If I don’t come back out and take it down by the time you or someone else comes to check up on it, assume I failed and call the shrine maiden.”

Not like the talisman actually does anything as far as you know. Just a sign of ‘Hey, something is going on over here. Stay away until it’s over.’ But they don’t need to know.

Reluctantly satisfied with the answer, the guard takes a few steps away, making his leave. “Okay. Just… Stay safe, all right? Whatever’s in there has already taken away multiple men, we don’t want another one.”

You nod, “Hopefully I won’t be the next.”

You turn away from the guard as you hear his footsteps grow fainter as he speedwalks away. Looking up at the gate to the mansion, you’re suddenly aware of its height and the imposing feeling it seems to give off.

And then, behind it, the mansion itself. The wooden steps leading to the front sliding door are broken down and in disarray, and the door itself is torn in half. Only showing darkness to whatever’s inside.

You take another deep breath, and clear your mind. Can’t be having the place itself scarin’ you before you even go in. You’ll need to keep your mind on the plan. Any distractions or other flights of fantasy can cause whatever’s in there to mess you up harder than you can say ‘oh shi-’

So. How are you gonna handle this?


[ ] Aggressive, but with patience. You know it’s gonna end in a fight usually, so just try and cut out as much filler between then and there.
[ ] Try and talk it out. Maybe it’s the rare chance where the youkai can at least communicate. Think you’re ready for a diplomacy check?
[ ] Take a card from the Hakurei. Fuck it, guns blazing.
[ ] Stealth? If it’s even possible. You’ve done it before, but it relies heavily on luck rather than skill.
>>43027
[x] Stealth? If it’s even possible. You’ve done it before, but it relies heavily on luck rather than skill.
gun and a knife. might as well go full solid snake
[x] Stealth? If it’s even possible. You’ve done it before, but it relies heavily on luck rather than skill.
[x] Aggressive, but with patience. You know it’s gonna end in a fight usually, so just try and cut out as much filler between then and there.

danmaku strats are a go
[X] Aggressive, but with patience. You know it’s gonna end in a fight usually, so just try and cut out as much filler between then and there.
Assuming no tiebreaker vote by Wednesday, the 14th. CST. I'll do a coinflip.
voting for coinflip
[X] Stealth? If it’s even possible. You’ve done it before, but it relies heavily on luck rather than skill.
>“It’s been a little too quiet. And I’m not sure if my mind is messing with me or what, but I’ve been hearing things coming out of that house shortly before you got here.”
Maybe it's busy with something, or someone.
callin' it for sneaky beaky times then.

let's hope I don't disappear like my last story huh? Although last time was more due to lack of planning. So since I have a more solid foundation this time around, it'll be better.
File 160307371249.jpg - (1.10MB, 848x1200, [her world].jpg) [iqdb]
43036
Aha, would you look at that. I'm already farther than my last story~!
damn. That's actually kinda sad.
-------------------------------------------------------

[X] Stealth? If it’s even possible. You’ve done it before, but it relies heavily on luck rather than skill.

You close your eyes and take a deep breath. The events of today’s investigation starting to take a toll on you.The idea of ending it with a drawn out life or death fight doesn’t sound appealing, all things considered.

So like any other strategically inclined individual, you run through some minor pre-battle thoughts.

Youkai in general are more resilient than the average human. That’s a given. While it’s not uncommon to find both, they usually get separated into two categories. Physically resilient or mentally.

(You’re also aware of the fact that youkai are spirit-based beings but that’s a different can of worms. Right now you’re just compiling the key notes into easy-to-digest snippets.)

Youkai like the Oni, general beast-type, etc. would fall into the former. Again, barring cases where they have legends rooted into a more firmer foundation.

Youkai like the Zashiki Warashi, Karakasas, or your typical spirits would fall into the second category.

Now, you know that it’s not really smart to think that a youkai would wholly be in one category or the other, it’s usually a mix of the two. With certain types being more specialized in one or the other.

The Aonyōbō, in particular, you would imagine to be more of a mentally resilient type of youkai. You can reinforce this theory by assuming that it has been ‘luring’ the victims. Which usually gets followed up with the idea that they must’ve been put into some kind of trance of a sort. Whereas a more physically-inclined youkai would just bruteforce a victim without any tricks.

With that in mind, you can surmise that a physical fight with it could potentially be a situation that it would like to avoid. So any attempts to force it into one could probably be rebuked by any tricks up its sleeve, if its got any semblance of self-awareness.

So, you don’t want to fight either, but you also don’t want to talk it out. It probably doesn’t want to do either, so it’ll most likely try and ensnare you into a trap and swoop in for the kill then.

Two beings who don’t want to engage directly, but want to eliminate the other.

A game of Spy vs Spy, then?

Well, if that’s going to be your main route. The next pre-battle step is to think about countermeasures.

Assuming the Aonyōbō does lay traps. The question is: What are they?

You can already surmise that one of them is a mental hypnosis, if the missing person reports and what the guard said to you previously are to be believed in. But then the question becomes more specific. Is it wide-range? Does the mental snare trigger upon a certain threshold? Anything?

And therein lies your issue. You don’t know. The Aonyōbō's entry didn’t have such information. So you can only rely on the basic fundamentals of mentally-focused youkai.

You can’t recall the ‘textbook’ guidelines word for word. But it boiled down to:

Keep your sense of self at the forefront of your mind.

Never give the youkai your 'True Name.'

Maintain a resolute state of mind.

Be fearless.

Although a resolute mind and a fearless mind probably mean the same thing. But you are digressing.

Maintaining your identity makes sure the youkai could not possess you or ‘overwrite’ your consciousness.

The ‘True Name’ of an individual for whatever reason here in Gensokyo when dealing with youkai seemed to have something to do with ‘authority.’ Which between the two parties can apparently put one or the other at an advantage if one obtains the name of the other. You never were clear on the details.

The final two points though were more or less self-explanatory. Youkai, being more spiritually inclined and mentally as an extension, could tell when an individual’s mind was unstable. Fear is usually a good destabilizer for that. So when a youkai ‘smells’ fear, it’s more that they notice that an individual’s mental guard has some openings they can exploit.

And if there aren't any openings, fear is a good tool to force some to open.

You idly notice that twilight has passed. Yet no new occurrences have appeared interestingly enough. Twilight was apparently the time when the boundary between ‘perception’ was overlapping so encounters with youkai were more frequent as sunset came and went. For not even a unique feeling to occur from the mansion was a detail in itself worth noticing.

You feel your eyes narrow in speculation, is the youkai already aware of you? It is something you mentally make a note of and shove away to think about later.

Were you to utilize stealth for this. You wouldn’t be entirely certain for yourself that you would be aware of whether or not the youkai was aware of your movements. You’d be banking on the hope that whatever you did was hitting all the right spots of slipping in undetected and not falling to the whims of the youkai who may or may not be watching you in amusement as you make a fool of yourself trying to be sneaky.

Hell, the last few times you actually managed to sneak up on a youkai you weren’t entirely sure how you did it. Just seemed like you walked in, saw it, slapped it, done.
Vaguely, you remember that you were in a ‘special’ state of mind that, as far as you knew, was a result of reflex or unconsciousness. But if you were to try and pin down exactly what that ‘state’ was, you only draw meager assumptions.

Rather, you would dare say that the prime mental state for these situations is a state of ‘unthinking.’ A mental form in which the prime focus is just the goal and no other thoughts save for the factors surrounding it.

So the question once again becomes: how do you fall into that state?

...

You don’t know.

But you can make an educated guess!


Right, so. Overall plan is to first get yourself into a state of mind that is ‘unthinking,’ or similar. As it is right now with your musings currently, that isn’t going so well.

You breathe in deeply. Then out. Slowly pushing everything you’ve been thinking about to the back of your mind.

Breathe in. You’re gonna enter the building like any other building.

Out. Search.

Breathe in. React.

Out.



You take a step through the gate. You barely acknowledge the lack of any new sensations. And then with another step, you fully enter the estate.

Mechanically, you take even steps through the yard. Eyes vaguely focused on the destroyed doorway. Without missing a beat, you cross over the debris and into the building proper.

You close your eyes, allowing time for it to adjust. Anything you’d see in the dark would get tainted by your imagination. When you open them, you’re greeted with a living center that’s seen better days. Dust permeates the entire interior, small tufts sprouting into the air and glistening in the moonlight through other broken paper doors and windows.

You’ve made it inside. And a shot of adrenaline courses through as the reality- Suppress.

Search.

Your target isn’t in this section of the mansion as far as you can tell. You’re moving to the next room.

And so you move. Strolling through the hallways as if you ‘belonged.’ Glancing into each room that you pass on the vague hope that something catches your eye.

Yet, nothing does. You ended up doing a lap around the mansion’s ground floor and came up empty. Most rooms either being destroyed beyond observation or empty beyond belief.

Vaguely, you notice that you are slowly losing hold on your nerves as the eeriness of the location bores upon you, as well as the subtle frustration of not finding your target.

Breathe in. The target isn’t here. Time to move to the next floor. Out.

You end up walking halfway across the mansion’s ground floor once more before finding an outstretch of the hallway leading to a staircase in moderate disrepair. Carefully climbing up it, you head up into the second floor. Idly, you notice that for such an old staircase, it didn’t creak at all.

Stepping fully into the hallway of the next floor. You begin repeating the same process, stroll, peer, move on. Only taking care to avoid any major holes in the floor leading back down due to the wood decay.

However, you still aren’t coming up with anything of note. Peering into another room, you are only met with another empty old room with decaying tatami floors. Nothing hidden in the corners as far as you can tell. You are starting to feel a mild irritation building up that’s overpowering the previous anxiousness for better or worse.

Breathe in. The target isn’t in this section. Move onto the next one. Out.
You pass by another room, glancing inside only momentarily to find another dusty, worn room with a stand holding a busted mirror frame with a pulse of ambie-hoooold up.

You look to the other side of the room quickly, purposefully ignoring the debris left behind and just staring at the emptiness of the other side of the room.

You think you found it.

Breathe in.

Out.

You slowly scan back over to the clumped side of the room. The mirror stand was damaged beyond repair. The frame that would’ve held the reflective surface material structurally broken. Off to the corner, an old clothing screen lay upon itself in a crumpled mess.

Something is off.

You gently step into the room. Careful not to hit a soft spot on the floor and cause another collapse. Wouldn’t want to also disturb the resident.

As you slowly get closer, you start to notice more details surrounding the stand. Old containers with drawers pulled out and contents removed lay surrounding the main furniture piece.

A stray moonlight beam from a broken paper window hits the mirror frame just right to show something glisten. Old shards you can assume from the old mirror.

You take another careful step and notice the old, moldy pillow, crookedly off to the frontcorner. Slowly, you maneuver yourself to a favorable position so that you won’t be vulnerable when you start the next step in the plan.

Back to the wall, but enough room on the side to dart either way. You breathe in and close your eyes.

Slowly exhaling, you let up on your ‘tenseness.’ Feeling both the anxiety from before passing through you, leaving shivers in your torso for a sparse moment, before getting replaced with an encroachingsensationreachingupfromyourfingertips-

You pause your train of thought right there. Carefully lifting your eyes, you notice that the room appears to have gotten…’vague.’ Any attempt to focus on a particular detail only serves to make it harder to focus. Like when in the middle of an almost pitch dark area, your peripherals are a better sensory tool than direct eyesight. Despite the inability to pick out concrete details.

So you use it. Letting your peripherals guide you through the suddenly darker room. Towards where you last saw the broken mirror stand and taking special care not to focus too hard on ambiguous shapes that you believe to be irrelevant to the current case. Until eventually you come up to the moldy seat pillow interestingly stationed properly in front of the broken mirror stand.

Looking directly at the wall, your peripheral vision can just make out a blurry figure with its back turned to you, situated on top of the seat pillow. This is it. It has to be the target.

Carefully, you draw out one of the more powerful talismans from your pouch. This particular talisman requires a solid, direct placement on a point where the spiritual presence is most concentrated. Heavy emphasis on ‘direct.’

Talisman in hand, you slowly ease up once more on your mental state. Breath held as you slowly inch closer to the back facing you as more details become defined. The feeling of a presence slowly spreading from your arms to your body as you carefully trigger the youkai’s mental trap.

Talisman mere inches from the noble layered robes covering the youkai’s back. You feel yourself glancing up and down between your placement point and the head of the youkai itself. The long, flourishing raven black hair pulled to the front as the young woman combs through it with an ornate comb-

You glance down, body shivering uncontrollably through the sheer intensity of the situation.

Breathe out. Slowly. Talisman centimeters from the point. You’ve got this. The youkai’s young lady’s face is clueless as she looks through the mirror and locks eyes with you.

Fuck.

You don’t freeze. But neither does she. Right as you cover the few meager points of air to her back, the figure spins and throws off your placement to a wild limb.

A cacophony of decaying flesh and exposed bone that only vaguely resembles a face is what you’re treated to before you get forced away by a sharp scream assaulting your senses.

Stumbling back to gain distance from whatever that thing is. You trip over a strewn piece of fabric debris and lose your balance.

By the time you realize that the screaming has stopped and you’re on the ground. You open your eyes to find the being leaping towards you with an acquired hair needle glass shard.

Letting loose an expletive, you only have just enough time to intercept the assailing limb and block the body from falling onto you.

Unfortunately it also treats you to another close look of your assailant and-

“Jesus fuck!

You refuse to parse the information. Looking at the ceiling over the shoulder of your assailant, you’re now able to only make out the ragged gray hair coming off in clumps, along with pieces of rotten flesh.

Don’t loook at meeeee!” Assails your hearing. Your right eardrum tingling at the proximity.

“Get’off!” You accentuate with a burst of force, yet to no fruition as even despite its appearance, it’s still a youkai.

Quickly shifting gears, you maneuver a leg in between you and the youkai. Pulling and pushing with opposite ends of your body. You manage to catapult the entity off of you after a minor struggle.

You quickly scramble up, unholster your pistol and aim it in the general direction of the youkailady. Who is covering their face with a draped sleeve in a vague sign of vulnerability.

You pause, more due to the lack of a clear target to fire at. But in a twisted sense of curiosity. You lower the pistol slightly to conserve strength, but ready to snap back up at any funny business.

A sudden wave of gentle pressure washes over you. Like a mother smothering their child in a hug in a manner to placate a tantrum, you feel any prior hosti-Suppress.

What an aggressive introduction, mister~.” A silky voice sneaks through your senses. “Don’t you know it’s impolite to peek in a lady’s room while they are getting ready?”

The robed sleeve lowers slightly just enough to reveal a pair of sharp, violet eyes outlined above by a large swath of long, raven black hair. A drastic change from what you were just dealing with seconds prior.

Your body twitches in surprise at the unexpected development. However you quickly recover, lining up the sights of your pistol to where the seemingly glowing eyes peer at you coyly from their perch.

“My~. You do not wish to be entertained by yours truly?” The voice sounds hurt, but what you see implies otherwise. “I am certain a man of your… stature would like nothing more than for a night spent with a wondrous lady-”

“Sorry. I have a job to do.”

A tick of silence. Before her shallow facade slips as she realizes she doesn’t have you ensnared in her charm. Violet eyes glaring with intensity at your curt refusal.

“Then your death shall be more painful than the rest!”

You only get a split second to hear the sound of a mechanism moving before your arms launch out in front of you. Miraculously, you catch onto the ledge up to your forearms while the floor beneath you drops out.

Gritting your teeth at the exertion of keeping yourself up, you only allow yourself to return a glare of your own to the youkai for the cheap shot.

Said glare only seems to offend the not-so-noble woman. Irritation flowing over her figure as her simple attempt to eliminate you failed by sheer luck on your side. “Insolent human.”

You feel a loose wave of pressure soak through you as the vulnerability of your position becomes known.

“If your desire is to be personally eliminated by my unmerciful hand, I will be glad to indulge in your final ri-” The youkai’s spiel is interrupted as her head rocks back suddenly. Her sleeved arm reaches up to the newly created hole in her forehead.

The smell of spent gunpowder begins to waft through your senses as you begin to pick yourself up from your awkward firing position. You swing a leg up and use it as a fulcrum with your arms to roll back onto the solid floor.

Standing up, you only spare a quick glance behind you out of morbid curiosity, and see only darkness at the bottom of the trap. You think for a second how many other victims she caught with this trick before putting your full attention on the youkai.

You are fully aware that the bullet is not enough to exterminate her by itself. You would need to place another high-grade talisman on her most concentrated spiritual point. The problem is, you would have to get up close and personal once more.

With your target currently staring at you in a mixture of shock and offense as a hand rubs the spot your bullet landed. It only serves as mild deterrence against you from launching another attempt. As you are left wondering just how badly did you piss her off.

You get an answer to your internal question, when the youkai’s uncovered eye fully realizes your capability and stares at you with pure, unfiltered contempt. Before her form blurs and meshes with the darkness, violet glowing eyes the last to fade away.

Well shit. You just proved to her you are fully capable of ruining her day. Her running off into the darkness wasn’t a sign of submission, that’s for sure.

That was her subtly saying, ‘I’ll be taking you seriously now.’

Outside of the room. You hear something slam into something else in the distance. An ominous sign of what is in store for you, you presume.

Well. Stealth was maybe a bust. What is your next move?

[ ] Hold your ground. Let her come to you and hope that the trapdoor is the only thing she can throw at you in the room.
[ ] Get moving and hole up into another area. If she’s wandering, maybe you can catch her as she passes by?
[ ] Speed. Accuracy. Violence of Movement. Can’t hit you if you are running everywhere.
Some minor stuff in regards to the story in regards to plans that I probably should've put in the first update.

The goal is for this to be a "short" quest of sorts. Maybe lasting up to a thread or three.

Ideally, I'll try and get an update out within a week after closing of votes. A minor standard to put for myself so I don't "forget" the story like I did with my last one.
[X] Get moving and hole up into another area. If she’s wandering, maybe you can catch her as she passes by?
[x] Get moving and hole up into another area. If she’s wandering, maybe you can catch her as she passes by?
Assuming no one wants to piss against the tide, I'll be closing votes at the end of tomorrow, (Monday, 26th of October, 00:00CST)
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