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Moving on to the next thread from >>43483

By the dragon himself, how has it been over a year already?
Thanks for sticking around, folks! Hopefully I can make this chapter 3 congeal into something good soon enough.

[x] Just ask the god that’s always around there for help.

“So what’s the first thing you’re going to say when we get up there, Tanner?” Mokou asks me as the dirt road fades into a set of stone steps.

I’ve gotten used to walking enough that I’m not overly winded, but there is a slight shortness to my breath in conversation when climbing up the steps.

“Well, isn’t it enough to just ask for help finding the frog god?” I reply.

“She is not a god of frogs, Tanner,” Ran notes.

“Wait but isn’t that some kinda characteristic of hers?”

“Ignore that fact. It is a strange quirk to that particular god,” she insists.

“Alright. So I’m going to ask the god that’s always around there for help finding the… she’s an earth god, right?” I continue to ping Ran for the details.

“Correct,” she pongs.

“The god that’s always there? You mean Sanae?” Mokou comments, taking our front and walking up the steps backwards.

I ponder the name for a moment, and inflect, “Sanae… Was that her name?”

I’m beginning to notice that my mind is fizzing out around the edges. I used to recall almost every name in that Gensokyo chronicle and could almost recite some articles full width, especially after I realized that I would probably find any one of those names on the fly (no pun intended) each day. Now, though, I’m having trouble recollecting the appearance of actors that I’ve not interacted with, yet. And that isn’t even to start with the poor decision making my brain is taking.

“Face forward, Fujiwara, the gate is ahead,” Ran nags Mokou’s laxness.

Mokou does as commanded, finding it not the right time to play around with Ran. Each step brings more of the large wooden gate into view. The shrine itself seems to be separated by another set of stairs and a ways past the living quarters.

Finding no one at the gate landing, we pass right through up to the temple grounds proper. Here I can see that a large stone path surrounded by gravel leads right into the mouth of the temple, which itself contains a massive rope. The living quarters are further off on both flanks, making a corral for festival grounds.

Only a handful of believers are here to pray in this early afternoon. It makes sense, given that it’s early afternoon of a Monday everyone is probably still working. Well not them, and not the girl sitting over at the awning of the left living quarter. She’s wearing a getup very similar to Reimu’s but blue, so she’d probably be able to point me in the right direction. I look over to Ran and she nods in confirmation, so we make our way over the grounds.

It takes a few moments for her to glance away from the praying guests and notice our approach, but rapidly perks up when she does. The girl smiles at Mokou, but grows a confused, if not concerned, look when spotting Ran and I off behind her.

“Uhm… Hi?” she weakly greets with a curt raising of her arm as we come to a stop. “Well this is an odd set… Mokou, Lady Ran, and a tengu reporter..? No, not a tengu… maybe?”

Mokou nudges her head for me to step up and speak first.

I oblige. “Hi, we’re looking for Sanae,” I say. I can hear Mokou audibly smack herself behind me.

“Ah, that would be me, but I guess your company didn’t tell you,” the girl’s bushy green hair whips in activity as she shakes her head. It reminds me of Dasshinki. Bush like.

She awkwardly laughs at the mess up. I’m more concerned with the fact that this is apparently Sanae. Who was it that I was thinking of? How many gods are there here?

“Right, hi Sanae,” I continue, trying to still act focused. “We need to speak with the goddess Moriya.”

“Oh?” she intones in interest. “She isn’t here right now, but what would you need her for?”

I fidget my hand a bit, thinking on whether to tell her and make this quicker. Ah, screw it. The tengu know already, so there’s no need to hold back at this point.

“Do you know about the trouble at the base of the mountain?” I ask.

“Tanner…” Mokou groans.

“That is…” Sanae thinks to herself. “Yes, if you mean the thing with Hina, a tengu representative came by to warn the shrine. I thought they were helping her, though…”

Mokou sighs. Ran picks up the explanation, “They were forewarned by our coming. It is most likely that the tengu are in meetings deciding what action to take at this time. Most assuredly, it will not be to ‘help’ the curse goddess.”

Sanae crosses her arms, bothered by how things must be panning out. “So you need Lady Suwako’s help to contain Hina first. If that’s the case, I should go let Lady Kanako know instead,” she concludes and begins to step away.

“No, no,” Mokou and I repudiate, stopping her by doing so. I continue to explain, “We’re here to ask for Lady Suwako’s help in determining what Kagiyama is ‘sick’ with.”

Sanae stops, looking straight at me. She checks me up and down for a moment and mumbles, “Tanner… Is that your name?”

“Uh…” I smartly utter, realizing I hadn’t introduced myself. “I mean, it’s not my job, so yes it’s my name. Tanner Regis, a bit out of it today, so sorry about that.”

“You’re a foreigner, aren’t you?” Sanae questions. “Tengu have Japanese names, so you must be something else or a human from outside. Where are you from?”

The conversation has definitely gone off track, but I play along out of curiosity, “America. Utah, specifically. Though, that might not mean much to you.”

“Aw, I was hoping you were a big city guy like from San Francisco or something,” Sanae pouts.

Did she just mix up a city and a state? Wait, more importantly I ask, “Why do you know an American city?”

“Hm? Are these two not telling you anything? I’m from the outside world and so is the shrine,” Sanae states matter of factly.

I take a moment to process this information. The entire shrine came from outside? How the hell do you move a whole building through the barrier, and furthermore why did it end up on top of a mountain? Better yet, why does everyone act like I’m a unicorn for coming from outside? Gods damnit, Gensokyo, even when I already feel stupid you find ways to keep confusing me!

“Uhm… is he alright?” Sanae asks while I’m buried in my thoughts.

“Yes, he does that on occasion,” Ran chimes in.

Sanae scratches her head before continuing, “I’m sure I’ll have the chance to talk with him… when he’s not like that, but what are you two doing here with him?”

She points to my partners, looking for some form of explanation.

Ran is quick on the uptake, “I am this human’s bodyguard.”

“What? Why would he need a–“ Sanae starts but catches herself. “You’re helping Hina and you ran into the tengu, obviously he’d need protection.”

“Indeed,” Ran agrees.

“And you, Mokou? Are you also his bodyguard?”

“No,” Mokou simply replies at first, but then rubs at her chin and doubles back, “Err, well, not quite? I guess Keine technically asked me, so let’s just go with ‘sure.’”

“Uh huh… Let’s get back to finding Lady Suwako,” Sanae announces with a clap of her hands, not really understanding our group but deciding to ignore the topic for now. “Why do you need her? How would that help Hina?”

“A being knowledgeable in both misfortune and curses is required to identify the source of Hina Kagiyama’s current peril. This would allow proper countermeasures to present themselves,” Ran explains.

“This is gonna sound funny coming from me, but you have a lot of faith that Lady Suwako would help,” Sanae bluntly states.

“Oh?” Ran keens in for Sanae to explain herself.

“Well, if we’re talking about Hina Kagiyama, she is a competing god and one that also deals in misfortune. Those aren’t reasons for Lady Suwako to help and I have a feeling they would drive her away instead.”

“Whatever, let’s just hear it from the frog’s mouth,” Mokou badgers.

Sanae fidgets in place for a moment before deciding, “We can go look for her, but no promises. She can be anywhere on the mountain.”

She begins to float up with Mokou joining alongside her. Now that the tengu know about us up here, they probably won’t bother locking us up again.

“No, really, he doesn’t look alright,” Sanae says pointing out that I’m still in a daze.

Wait, what? What happened? I’m thinking just fine, so why can’t I move anything?

“Hold,” Ran commands. She flits a paper strip from under her tabard and smacks it on my forehead. An electric shock, or what feels like one, propagates through my whole body, kicking my limbs back into motion.

“Well how about that. What’d you do?” Mokou questions as I feel around my limbs to make sure I’m moving right. “That’s the thing that Taoist lady does with her pet, ain’t it?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Ran chides, “soul binding is adjacent to shikigami binding, the Taoist method is all the same principles with varied inputs.”

I loudly clear my throat to grab their attention and say, “If you two can hold off on discussing magic theory, what the hell just happened to me? I was totally conscious just now but lost control of my body.”

“Misfortune does weird things to people, that’s why everyone’s so afraid of it,” Sanae speaks from a bit above me. “What I don’t understand is that you have luck charms on your chest, not to mention that dream eater, but the misfortune’s still getting you.”

“It could be the charms only protect his physical body,” Ran hypothesizes.

“That would be bad if true,” I further. “But that doesn’t explain why the first charm burned out.”

“However it works, I don’t want to be the one to explain to Keine why he’s become a vegetable,” Mokou says shoving me into Ran before taking flight. “Let’s fix this before that happens, already!”

Ran picks me up as we follow Sanae and I comment to her, “I don’t think I need to state this, but I’d like to keep my mind and body as one.”

“There’s no need to explain that to your bodyguard, however, you have much longer than those two believe,” Ran… comforts me? Wait that can’t be right. Today keeps getting weirder.

What isn’t weird is the amount of time we fly around the mountain looking for the goddess we need to ask for help. Sanae picks out a lot of scenic spots to try and find her, but neither slime nor tongue of the not-a-frog goddess appears. I can feel my nerves getting to me because I don’t know when this misfortune will try something else that Ran won’t have a quick fix to, even despite her assurance that I’m perfectly fine.

I can tell the other three are feeling the same, but for varied reasons. Mokou makes some sense. She wants to live up to Keine’s expectations of her, and letting your person of interest ‘die’ is not conducive to that point. Ran likely wants a way to present itself so that we fix this fast, but Sanae shouldn’t have as much stake in this matter. Could it be that she’s worried about her Lady Suwako, or is she scared of what could happen to her and the shrine like Ran?

Either way, she seems invested in finding her goddess to fix this problem before everything gets out of hand.

“Where is she?!” Sanae shouts with a stamp of her foot at our current stop. “I thought I checked everywhere that she’d go!”

We’ve slipped over to the toad pond I believe Cirno must use to practice on the poor wildlife. Side note: my mind is clear again with the charm firmly attached to my face. I wonder if I could make my writing productivity this focused with this?

Also on that note, I finally remember some more of my readings, so I remember what Mokou and Sanae are capable of. An immortal and a living fictional plot device are always good to have around.

“Tanner, focus,” Ran chastises. I spring back to attention at the command, the irony not escaping me.

Mokou grunts in resignation at the blue-green shrine maiden’s cry, “We’re burning daylight, the birds will be out of their nest at this rate.”

“Weren’t you the one that said they’d be stuck in their village all day arguing about this?!” Sanae pressures.

“Their village, yeah, but what about idiots like Aya?” Mokou rhetorically states.

Everyone goes silent thinking of our next act. I decide to ask who I expect has a plan B already, “Ran, what’s your next idea?”

“Next idea?” Ran queries.

“Yes, you always think a step ahead on these things. You already have someone in mind to go to after this was a bust, right? It only makes sense to account for this misfortune bug hiding someone from us,” I reason.

“…” Ran blankly replies. Oh, it’s getting to her as well now.

“Do either of you know how to slap a talisman on Ran like she did for me?” I ask of Sanae and Mokou while they’re doing their own back and forth.

They look over to Ran and I, interrupting their bickering. Each of them look ready to say yes on impulse, but think better.

Right, guess if I’m the voice of reason in Ran’s place, I’d better come up with something good.

We’re definitely running the clock at this point for the tengu to come to some kind of agreement on what to do. Even if not in some round table discussion, there might be people like Iizunamaru that are going to decide for themselves. And it only takes one person to alert Reimu of all of this.

I’ve gotta think fast and effective, here.

[x] Go in with what you have. Sanae will have to put her miracles to the test.

[x] COCKED GUN: Alert Reimu, worry about repercussions afterward.

[x] Go with whatever Mokou and Sanae have been arguing about? (Don’t let common sense bind you!)

Huh? Oh, comments, shit. Uh, yes I'd like to include Sanae more and made the out of body experience as a left field decision. Even I don't know why I decided on that but we'll see where it goes! In other news, misfortune is a convenient tool when I want it to be. More misfortune facts next week.
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[x] COCKED GUN: Alert Reimu, worry about repercussions afterward.

It's her job to solve these sorts of things and Reimu rarely kills her opponents, so Hina wouldn't be in mortal danger (I hope)
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I'm not entirely sure what the vote is about here.

Are we going back to deal with Hina right now because time is running short?

If so, I don't see what bringing just Sanae would do. Some purification rite?
To quote Symposium of Post-mysticism:
>"The ability to create miracles is often confused with fortune. Miracles are ultimately the culmination of chance, and the result is not limited to being wholly positive or negative. It has no relation to good luck or bad luck."
Her miracles are merely her invoking of rare occurrences, they have nothing to do with fortune. That aside they take more and more prep time the more impressive the desired effect is.
Time we do not have.

Calling Reimu is the nuclear option.
I don't actually see any point to her just coming to beat up Hina, except to make the poor girl even more miserable.
Maybe she can improve the barrier Ran set up? Reimu's barriers are top-of-the-line, but that'd just put off the problem and not fix it.
Last thing is maybe her intuition would give insight into the root of the problem, but I'm still hesitant to call her in; even if we made a pretty good impression with her when we went for the talismans.

Maybe the Mokou/Sanae option has merit?
The problem is I have absolutely zero clue what they're planning, and possibly neither does Regis. Agreeing to even a well-thought out plan without knowing even the basics is the height of (misfortune-induced?) inanity.
I don't think I missed it, but if somebody else actually knows what their plan is about absolutely do correct me.

Anyway, holding my vote until I'm absolutely sure of what is happening here.

Some side notes:

I wonder if Regis was actually thinking of "some other god" while he was in his addled state or he just forgot Sanae. Could be either. The former option would be quite interesting, even if it is less likely.

Are there any others we could call in? I sure can't think of anybody at the moment, but maybe a write-in like that could prove to be the ticket.

>Hopefully I can make this chapter 3 congeal into something good soon enough.
Hey now. Don't sell yourself short. I've enjoyed this story every step of the way so far.
I only joined during the travels after the lectures had all been written, and am deliberately abstaining from reading those until they come up in the story as to not spoil myself. That's how much I look forward to reading this every week.
Sappy drivel aside; story good.
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Just to hop in for some clarity: >>44192

You have your ideas correct, and this is a vote for what to do since things are about to time crunch.

The Mokou/Sanae vote is very much what's on the tin: you've got no idea. Expect it to be spectacular, though.

Also, thank you.
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[x] Go with whatever Mokou and Sanae have been arguing about? (Don’t let common sense bind you!)
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>>44192 here.

Ah, right. Thank you for clarifying.

Well, as I've already said the option of just taking Sanae and hoping for the best seems very unlikely to do anything.
For me it'd be between Reimu and the Mokou/Sanae option.

Still don't like the idea of calling in the nuke. It would be entirely too unfair towards Hina, not to mention unpleasant.

That leaves the bickering duo's plan.
I have no idea on what to do, the fact they're arguing about something means they have at least some plan which is better than nothing at all.

So, barring any good write-in...

Fuck it. We're doing it LIVE!

[x] Go with whatever Mokou and Sanae have been arguing about? (Don’t let common sense bind you!)

P.S. Here I am asking for clarification when what I write is far more ambiguous. You probably already know, but I just want to make clear that I was referring to me being sappy. I wasn't riffing on the story.
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[x] Go with whatever Mokou and Sanae have been arguing about? (Don’t let common sense bind you!)
do not into commen sense
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[x] Go with whatever Mokou and Sanae have been arguing about? (Don’t let common sense bind you!)

About the thing with being unable to find Suwako, couldn't we just pray to her? She's literally a god; listening to and granting the prayers of their worshippers is what she does.
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[x] Go with whatever Mokou and Sanae have been arguing about? (Don’t let common sense bind you!)

God it’s boring. There’s never anything fun to do. I just sit around waiting for something else to happen. This morning was just rolling out of bed, eating the same thing as always, and wandering around outside. I don’t get why people strive to live like this.

All I’m doing is fishing at this point, not that I expect to catch anything. I wonder how long I’ve been sitting here, just feeling the breeze comb through my hair and play with my dress. It’s definitely been a while, the sun’s already poking at the horizon, and the clouds betray the lightest hint of a brilliant evening orange.

I guess really what I want is someone to be around and entertain me. Where’d that little drunkard go? She always livens things up for me. Or that unfortunate girl. She was alright. Having her sing my praises felt great, but it did also grate after a while.

Heh, what a stupid pun that is...

The rod in my hands remains as limp as always. I’m zoning out on it, not really thinking much of anything.

It shuffles a bit.

Oh?! Something’s tugging on the line?!

How is that even possible?! Something real stupid must have gotten caught on it. What the hell would even let itself get snagged like that?

I yank and tug the line in practiced motions, catching the line with my free hand and passing it over to the rod hand. Despite it being purely for show here, I do know how to fish where it matters. The line pulls against me erratically. The thing on the other end doesn’t know what it wants or where it’s going. There isn’t a struggle for life or death, per se, but it is playing against its current restraint. With enough finesse I land my catch and raise one green headed girl above the dense cloud sea.

That’s… not what I was expecting. She sits in place, her collar held up by the end of the hook, without saying anything or reacting in any way. She’s just as surprised as I am right now.

No, literally, what the hell? Who is this? I feel like I know her, but it’s been a while since I last had fun with the earthly residents of Gensokyo. She looks at me and springs back to life

“Found you, Tenshi!” she joyfully says, slowly raising her gohei. Actually, that one was called something else, wasn’t it?

Oh wait, she plans to–

“You really found her just like that?” I say, baffled that Sanae could just pick a random direction and find who she wanted. That isn’t even going into the chunks they tore out of this floating island in the fight afterwards.

“It honestly pisses me off that you can just do shit like this, Sanae…” Mokou groans.

“I count my blessings everyday,” Sanae says, proudly hauling the beat up blue-haired girl over her shoulder. “This makes four today. Yesterday was nine.”

A long sigh comes in unison from Mokou and I. Ran doesn’t join only because she seems to be out of it right now.

She’s been steadily more absent looking as we’ve flown up to heaven. That sounds so wrong to even think. Just fly up to heaven, catch a celestial being sitting around, easy. On any other day the weirdest thing here would be the floating islands and waterfalls dotting the sky above the vast field of clouds. Not today, though. Today I get the pleasure of seeing how one of the two shrine maidens stumbles through incident resolution.

“So now that you have a knocked out celestial,” I start, pointing at the blue sandbag on Sanae’s shoulder, “how do you expect to convince her to help us?”

“Convince her?” Sanae asks in return, clearly confused by what I’m thinking.

“No, no, no,” I quickly attack her vexation. “You need to convince her to help us. If we just have her with us that isn’t going to do anything.”

“But it will…” Sanae says, saddened that I’m not keeping up with her.

I turn to the only other sane man here and ask, “Mokou, what is she talking about?”

“How am I supposed to know? I’m not some encyclopedia like the fox… usually is,” Mokou argues back. “Sanae, what are you on about?”

Sanae brightens up, lifting the girl on her shoulder higher to stand up straight and proudly explain, “Well… A while back I went to a Hakurei shrine flower viewing party and that one poverty goddess was there, but so was Tenshi. It was a horrible experience, but I did learn that celestials apparently have natural luck so strong that it counters that goddess, so they stuck around together. Hearing about Hina’s problem makes me believe that the same thing could work here.”

I take in the explanation and conclude, “So she’s here as a good luck charm. You don’t care if she’s even conscious.”

“Yes,” Sanae confirms. “I’m going to throw her at Hina and this problem will resolve itself.”

I bury my face in a hand, disappointed that I would listen to Sanae’s idea this far through.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to talk with that brat, either,” Mokou jokes. “Anyway, we’ve wasted enough time, let’s hit the source of the issue… wait that came out wrong. Just shove along already!”

She pushes Sanae over the cliff and then disappears into the clouds herself. Ran grabs me and pursues the two… three.

We make our way through the sea of clouds. The place is worse than any kind of fog could ever dream of, it’s so thick. Looking again, it was miraculous that Sanae would get caught by Tenshi’s line. That goes without saying, though, just because it’s Sanae I’m talking about.

We eventually wander out of the clouds, catching our bearings in the brilliant evening orange. Not too long before the sun sets completely. Ran is the first to make a beeline for Hina’s cabin after breaching the cloud line. Seems she’s stirring somewhat if she could tell where to go that quickly.

It doesn’t take us too long to touch down in the cursed forest once more. Ran landed without a word and waits for Sanae and Mokou to follow suit.

There’s a bit of shimmer in her eyes, like she’s already back to full attention. Not only that, but she’s focused on something. The ears under her hat turned toward the deeper forest.

The moment the other two land, she about faces and treads into the barren area.

“Wait, Ran, why did you land here?” Mokou calls.

After a moment without reply we awkwardly gesture between each other for who goes after her first. I end up caving and take the second position.

The cursed forest is just as gloomy as before, only made creepier by the knowledge that something is out to get everyone that comes here. Or, it wants to, at least. It might very well be sealed with Kagiyama back at her hut. Anything that can ignore the rules as other Gensokyans know them is a heap of trouble, though, and not one that we can play reactionary to.

It’s been several minutes of brisk walking, but we haven’t caught up to Ran, much less spotted her again.

“Yaah!” Sanae squeals behind me. I pivot on my toes to see what happened.

Mokou also takes stock of the situation, but it appears to be a false alarm. A beetle flies around the miko’s head, maybe taking interest in the unnatural display of fertile and wet colors that the girl and her baggage radiate. Whilst an annoyance, it isn’t cause for panic.

“Swat the thing if you’re so scared of it, girl,” Mokou says, pantomiming the motion.

“But I don’t want to hurt the poor thing!” Sanae pleads. “He’s just living out here and I walked into him.”

Living out here… A thought occurs. If the misfortune is sealed, and bugs are coming back into the area, then we’re safe to move without any worry. That might be why we haven’t caught up to Ran yet, as she’s already determined this.

It doesn’t take more than a few words to convince Sanae of this, as she hurdles past me to escape her tormentor, but Mokou is hesitant to fully believe that conclusion.

“Why are you so confident in that? It’s just one bug,” she comments.

I think on my answer, and claim, “I guess I just trust Ran’s work to, well… work.”

Mokou scoffs at the only mildly embarrassing vote of confidence and starts to dash ahead as well. It is at this point that I realize that they’re flying through the woods at high speeds while I’m stuck on regular human legwork. Damnit.

One healthy jog later and I’ve caught up to the others. The forest was abuzz with activity as the insects of the surrounding healthy forest sensed the opening to scavenge to their heart’s content. It at the least kept me from feeling lonely, but a normal person would have been better for that. Or, you know, someone just carrying my because I’m a frail human being that can’t fly.

Ran and Sanae study the trees a distance out, while Mokou takes a crouch next to Ran with her hands on her head. Maybe taking a bash from Ran for leaving me behind. A part of me is happy that even when she’s still too absentminded to speak Ran keeps my safety in mind.

Moving on from the thought, I take a tree near the others, and begin to whisper across, “What are we waiting on?”

I spot Ran crossing a finger over her lips, and points further into the forest. After a few moments I acclimate to the silence around us. It’s not quite perfect, though. It seems some commotion is happening a ways out, and when you listen for it the sound of people becomes obvious to identify.

Mokou picks herself back up and walks toward the noise without even the faintest sound of footfall, and we pursue behind her.

It’s a tense and quiet moment as we hope that nothing catches our group since there isn’t even so much as the cover of leaves. Mokou seems to care less, sauntering in her steps over random debris on the ground and taking a silent stride despite her heavy looking boots. It’s another of those times that I question if she’s just floating off the ground ever so slightly or if she’s just that practiced at stealth.

Mokou takes a stop and halts our company where we stand. We each careen into nearby trees out of the forward sight line and find an angle to observe what Mokou stopped for.

First and foremost, I spot people. Quite a few people. Next, I notice that the area they’re standing is right where Ran set up the barrier. It might be pure chance that we’ve ended up back in the same location for me to recognize, or it’s more likely that there’s some kind of weakness here since it’s the source point. For now, I try to discern who’s crowding the barrier.

A lot of tengu, both the crows and wolves, and one individual in all red in front and above them. The waning light doesn’t make it easy to call at a glance. It’s not Reimu, they’re too large in frame to be that girl. There’s a bunch of pillars floating around her…

“Kanako?!” Sanae says with a bit too much volume.

Kanako? Kanako Yasaka, the main goddess of the Moriya shrine? If she’s here, then anything could be happening. It’s really a wonder that I wanted to find her of all people in my idiotic stupor.

I need to stop and think for a few moments on what this could mean…

“Tanner–“ Ran queries me, but I pause her mid speech to dive into my thoughts more.

Starting with what I remember now: a capricious goddess, both of sky and war, acting as the main body of faith for the Moriya shrine. By multiple accounts she is stated as the sole cause to numerous incidents over the course of two, potentially three, years. No stranger to getting her hands dirty, she was a direct party of conflict for two.

Now capricious isn’t entirely correct, as she’s seen as that only because her decisions are so heavily handled by one factor: faith. Her greed for worship, human or otherwise, allows anyone to gauge the cause of her actions, but the outcome remains elusive because of her strategic intellect. She’s a general that would make any tyrant blush, and under other circumstances would run Gensokyo. Thankfully there are too many parties to involve herself with for that to be physically viable, so she instead weighs herself on political ventures.

That all said, what about here? Kagiyama, a separate god of a completely different field is under duress. Without help, she’d be taken out by the tengu crowd there, at least my assumption is they’re not there to sit and drink with Kagiyama. That would mean Yasaka does not get involved, but does not gain from the event. An antithesis of the opportunist. Helping the tengu would marginally benefit her, as they would be thankful for her support in stifling an observable calamity in the making, but it would never be publicized to the public of Gensokyo in the name of peacekeeping. Helping Kagiyama…

Would show her hand in acting as a major authority? Shows the tengu how unphased by their actions she is, enforcing her alignment with gods of Gensokyo? Could be construed as a peace by force act in order to protect Kagiyama, and… maybe even followers if she strings it along.

It’s not hard to deduce that she’s here on our side, thankfully. There’s more to gain from it than being against us. But a good politician is a scary thing. There for you one moment, against you the next.

I stand from a crouch I had apparently taken.

“Tanner?” Mokou now also addresses me.

“Yasaka is here to help Kagiyama,” I announce.

“Well, of course,” Sanae says in naive virtue.

“That hag? Bullshit,” Mokou groans.

“I’m in agreement with Fujiwara,” Ran comments, back up to full speed.

“You may not agree, but that’s what I’ve concluded. I can explain later if you want, but we’re going to have to either take my word for it, or we’ve got a way bigger issue on our hands,” I argue back.

Mokou thinks on it for a moment, screwing her face for a rebuttal. She gives up and says, “Fine, I’ll believe you for now. If it ends up being less trouble, good. If not, I’ll let Keine know what torture to give you later.”

“Good. So what now?” I ask the others. They glare at me. “Hey, I was trying to figure out what the scary goddess might be here for. I was hoping you all thought of what to do.”

“Sneak in,” Mokou states.

“Help Kanako,” Sanae states.

They turn to each other, their opposing answers not meshing well.

“That’s it?” I reply somewhat deflated from my expectations.

“Not everything needs to be that complicated,” Sanae advises. “And someone doing good should be helped to do that good.”

“Yeah, in your dreams. I’m here to fix a problem, not play along with someone more fog than steam.”

I notice Ran’s remained silent as the two stare daggers at each other. She hasn’t moved much from her tree.

“Ran?” I prod her.

“Yes?” she responds.

“You good?”

“Indeed,” she mootly replies. “If you are worried that I have provided no advisement, feel no concern. The two here have presented both valid methods. Do you require an error check on a different option?”

Mokou and Sanae seem to have run from their earlier deadlock to another now. I guess it’s again my choice what the hell we’re doing here. Maybe I should transfer a few of these decisions to Ran at some point.

[x] Go with Mokou’s plan. Better to avoid whatever that whole crowd is doing.

[x] Go with Sanae’s plan. Whatever Yasaka’s final goal is, at least it involves working with you.

[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)

*Careful now, I might be open to some ruthless behavior on your choice.

Man it’s weird being able to scroll to latest update again. Anyway,
Yeah >>44198 I 200% forgot this. It’s two hundred because I even remembered at one point while in this chapter. We’re really bouncing places, here. We’ll all just have to live with the idea that Sanae spawns ghost frogs for her attacks and live with it. Also, it was nice to write Tenshi perspective for that short moment. It’s fun to tap into the rude brat vibes she gives off.
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What's stopping us from boldly strolling towards Kagiyama while ignoring the crowd?
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If we go with what Mokou's suggesting, we piss off both Hina and Kanako and have a really hard time solving the situation. If we go with Sanae's suggestion, then the tengu instantly riot because we broke outta tengu jail and are hauling a celestial.

[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Organize a distraction.

Sanae should make her way to Kanako and explain the situation.
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[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Organize a distraction.
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Honestly, these are both fine options.

Sanae's plan works to de-escalate the situation brewing outside. Getting in bed with Kanako is not great, but making the tengu back off gives us breathing room.

Mokou's plan, however, cuts to the heart of the matter. Fixing Hina thus would, and in my opinion should, be first priority.

I don't really agree with your read on the situation:

It would probably piss off Kanako, yes, but I don't think Hina would be pissed off. Make her afraid that she'll hurt us, perhaps.

I really don't think the tengu would riot. They're be tokenly pissed to save face, but they intentionally left no guards earlier which boiled down to letting us go.
But what do they care about us hauling a celestial in particular? It's another foreign body on the mountain, but I don't see any grievance beyond that.

As for your suggestion:
What is the exact goal of your distraction?

Is it to get Sanae to Kanako? I don't think we would need a distraction for that. She could simply approach, perhaps on her own.

I agree that Sanae explaining things to Kanako could be helpful, but that doesn't mean we cannot sneak in to go and actually start fixing the problem.

The problem with that route, however, is that we still have no idea on how to fix it. Having Tenshi around means we are likely to not die just from talking to Hina and so getting more information, but we're not closer to an actual fix after this whole journey.
Secondly, we'd not have Sanae around inside, she may not directly influence fortune with her miracles, but it was still her plan to grab Tenshi.
Perhaps there is a second stage she didn't mention? She could explain it before we make a move, I suppose.
Thirdly, sneaking in behind Kanako's back is likely to piss her off for the same reason we got pissed at Megumu: Authority
Kanako is a politician. She lives and dies (literally) by her face as a god. Sneaking in would be an insult to her authority. She might also just notice it? She is a god after all.

Thinking of a solution that actually satisfactory to all the concerns at play here isn't very simple and it's taken me a few days of thinking to come up with something at least somewhat productive.

What if we simply walk up and play Kanako's game?

As much as Kanako would want it to be so, she isn't the only one with authority in Gensokyo. We have someone with us with a name that causes pause in everyone in the land: Ran Yakumo.
If we walk up and announce our intention to resolve an incident (again) in the name of Yakumo, we could negotiate entry with Kanako.
This would allow us to enter with her blessing, leaving her face intact and us actually on our way to do something productive instead of being stuck outside with a bunch of tengu. Sanae joining us inside would even help signify said blessing.
Mokou would be more useful outside to deal with the tengu, but I'd honestly feel pretty bad leaving her to deal with them and Kanako.

The main problem with this plan is that there's always a chance of failure no matter what route we take.
In this case it's that we don't know Kanako's argument for barring entry to the tengu. It could be directly opposed to our reasoning for all we know and that would complicate matters.
The upside, however, is that she has a vested interest in seeing the problem gone, especially if she had a direct hand in it. Thus letting us fix the problem with her blessing (and thus at least partially in her name) would be good publicity for her.
There might be a lot of tengu, but they wouldn't be able to do anything about it but gripe, considering Kanako alone is already keeping them at bay.

[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Approach openly, announce your intention to fix the problem, negotiate entry with Kanako.

Kanako wants to save face and get good PR.
Us fixing the problem with her blessing does both.
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At the risk of being cringe…

[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Organize a distraction.
-[x] Not just any distraction. A dance distraction. No, better yet, THE “Distraction Dance”.


I know. It's stupid for SO many reasons. Feel free to judge me.
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Actually please no.
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even f***nite dance is better
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Yeah, I figured that was coming.
Never mind.
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Hey guys, It's once again the stupid nobody who posted this trash > https://www.touhou-project.com/shrine/res/44189.html#44205

Yeah, sorry about that. I love the Henry Stickmin games and all, but I’ll admit what I typed was really F-ing stupid. And even if it wasn’t, this really wasn’t the place to be putting something like that.

[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Approach openly, announce your intention to fix the problem, negotiate entry with Kanako.
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I will give it one more day before I write the distraction. I have not started out of respect for >>44203 putting in so much effort to his idea and argument.

>>44205 gets a slap on the wrist for not having Sanae provoke the traditional distraction.
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[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Approach openly, announce your intention to fix the problem, negotiate entry with Kanako.
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Yeah, I deserve that. LOL
Anyway, when it’s time, just do your thing, buddy.

(Last post before I leave you alone for now. I promise.)
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[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Approach openly, announce your intention to fix the problem, negotiate entry with Kanako.

Us asking Kanako for entry undermines the Tengus' authority and rubs salt in their wounded pride. Let's do it.
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[x] Ping pong an idea with Ran. (Write-in)
-[x] Approach openly, announce your intention to fix the problem, negotiate entry with Kanako.

Actually, on that line of thought, maybe Ran could help me fact check an idea.

“Ran,” I address.

“Yes,” she replies, ready for whatever crazy thing I’m going to say next.

“Do you think Yasaka knows you’re here?”

“Please specify: here as in position or here as in participating party to this circumstance?” she feeds back.

“The latter.”

“It is unlikely that whomever notified her of the current circumstances has explained that a separate participating party is involved. That said, if the goddess Yasaka can read barriers then she would at the least know the Yakumo signature is tied to the current field holding the miasma in,” Ran explains. Her relapse into robotic speech is almost comforting after how heavily our affliction got to her.

“Then let’s walk up and say that we’re taking care of the problem,” I claim.

“Wait, what?” Mokou breaks from her bickering with Sanae to some confusion. “Did I hear you right? You want to waltz up and tell everyone there to piss off? Do you still have some gunk in your system or are you usually this suicidal?”

She emphasizes the point by waving over to the crowd. There’s no small number of tengu there. It’s a whole city block’s worth of people, at least. They must have hoped to take care of the whole thing on their own with a military unit’s worth of brute force.

“I’m perfectly present now, despite how I look,” I state, lightly tugging the paper tag stamped to my forehead. With Tenshi here, I may not need this, but I’d rather be safe and not work on that conclusion.

They look eager for me to continue my thought before arguing, so I elaborate, “If the goddess Yasaka is out there despite not being directly involved before, Sanae not withstanding, then she’s doing it because she believes there’s some political benefit to her taking a stance.”

“Yup, I get that much,” Mokou assents. “But now what about the tengu, they seem to want to deal with it themselves.”

“The tengu won’t get in the way. It’s my understanding that they’re too politically bound with Yasaka’s decisions. So, if, say, we were to walk up and claim that we already have the solution, then they’ll gripe, but won’t have a legitimate reason to stop us this time,” I argue.

Ran remains indecipherable to her opinion on the idea, while Mokou seems very skeptical still. Sanae, on the other hand, is immediately onboard, even dragging Mokou off before she can give her grief. It takes Ran and I a moment to realize what just happened and start running after her. The sudden burst of noise we make draws a few eyes from the crowd, maybe wary of intruders or feral beasts.

They seem surprised but also relieved when they see Sanae. They also retract that relief when they notice who she’s carrying and who’s following after her.

The crowd gazes at us. Bafflement spreads through their entourage as they realize that the individuals arrested earlier are waltzing up to this mess once again. None take the initiative to apprehend us as we cut through the crowd towards the front. Some are outright terrified that we’re standing here since at least two of this group are carrying something misfortune related.

Despite the noise their stares feel like they cause, no sound breaks the current silence. Even the goddess patiently waits for our arrival at the head of the pack.

Yasaka seems keenly focused on what’s happening, but also shows the slightest hint of surprise. Who that surprise is pointed towards is up in the air, but either way that’s what I was hoping for.

“Sanae,” her deep voice booms over the crowd.

“Hello, Lady Yasaka,” Sanae happily greets with a wave. I’d go so far as to say that she gayly greets.

“You’ve come present with something useful to smother this trouble. However, why do you know what is happening?” her eyes pierce with a similar intensity to Ran’s. The dominating pressure she has is no magic, it’s the raw intensity of her persona.

“Ah, they came to us for help!” Sanae declares gesturing Yasaka’s attention over to our crew.

The preeminent goddess eyes us down. The tengu are more than happy to move out of the way of her gaze.

“Fujiwara… an individual I am unknown to… Yakumo..?” she takes stock of our heads. “An odd assortment. I will forego asking what brought the three of you together and instead ask, what do you hope to do here? I assume now that this barrier behind me is your doing, Yakumo.”

“Indeed it is,” Ran curtly confirms.

Step two: convince everyone to let us go in and fix the problem.

“We are here to resolve the incident,” I claim. Supposedly, this mixture of words is no small announcement in Gensokyo, being something that is usually reserved to Reimu, Marisa, and a few others. Incidentally, Sanae seems to have also had a time or two in that spotlight.

“Is that so?” Yasaka replies unimpressed. “Now that is the true oddity here, given the Yakumo’s prior blind eye to matters on the mountain.”

“The Yakumo are the ones to determine what Gensokyo requires,” Ran retorts.

Yasaka doesn’t take kindly to the implied curtailing of the conversation and the two stare daggers. Each woman has eyes that could cut right through stone.

“So the Yakumo directly resolve incidents now?” Yasaka questions.

“Nay,” Ran denies. “The Yakumo have never done such, we have only ever supported our proxies.”

“Proxies..?” Yasaka asks with a tone demanding a specific reply.

“These two humans,” Ran states, offering attention over to Mokou and I.

This gets a chuckle out of Yasaka. “We both know that first one is a lie,” she mocks, “and the second one is… hm. A… foreigner? How..?”

In Yasaka’s moment of calculations, Ran takes charge, saying, “Enough. Now is not the time for questions. What must be done is before us, not among us.”

Not allowing the goddess a moment to retaliate her undermining of the situation, Ran steps forward towards the barrier. Right under the goddess floating in the air.

One of the pillars held aloft behind Yasaka takes offense to this and hurtles down right in front of the fox, kicking up a swathe of dirt in every direction. Ran appears unphased, but she has stopped walking.

“Miss Yasaka,” I beggar her ear. “Please allow us to work this.”

She turns on me, clearly losing patience with us. However, it isn’t me that she stops her glare on, instead catching Sanae’s eyes.

“Lady Kanako, please,” the shrine maiden doesn’t back down to her god’s cutting stare.

After a tense wait, Yasaka breaths out, hiding the sound that would otherwise be a sigh.

“Very well,” she says. “The Yakumo and company will resolve this incident. However, my shrine maiden must join you as insurance,” she directs to Ran.

Ran looks up to the goddess and offers a silent nod in agreement. With that, the pillar blocking her lifts itself back into the air and joins its companions behind Yasaka. She walks up to the border awaiting the rest of the group.

We look between each other, making sure nobody has anything else to bring up. Even the tengu gave up trying to stop whatever it is we’re doing. It seems they didn’t come with any leadership, so they’re at a loss for what to really do now.

They mumble amongst themselves, but don’t really come to any unanimous decision, so we decide to leave them be.

We get to the edge of the barrier, where Ran has been doing some amount of incantations to open a space for us to use. The Moriya shrine’s goddess oversees the process, but otherwise keeps watch on the mob of tengu surrounding us. It’s tense, but by no means out of the realm of usual business for these people.

Unprompted, Ran starts to explain the circumstances at play, “Regis, the inside of this barrier is unexplored territory. There is no certainty what state it is in.”

“Ran, what do you mean?” I ask, oddified by her sudden bluntness.

“Gods of misfortune are not well documented, and one that has lost control of its power is seldom seen. This is unexplored territory,” she repeats.

Ran mixes no words nor does she obfuscate the reality of the situation. No one here knows what is happening. Kagiyama doesn’t even seem to know what is happening. But we want to fix it before anything worse happens.

Mokou speaks up first, “So what is stopping us from walking in right now? Why all the dramatics?”

“Should the barrier be entered, it must first be completely dispelled,” Ran explains.

Mokou goes to argue, clearly with more curses, but Sanae first replies, “Wait… that doesn’t sound right. Barriers can be entered and exited with no problem, the border of Gensokyo does that all the time to hell and the netherworld.”

Ran stops her motions controlling the magical symbols in front of her to explain, “Gensokyo’s barrier is planned, and required a long time to prepare in terms of barriers. This example is… what you may define as a ‘rush job.’ Something not complete by any standard but does the bare minimum to classify it as a border.”

“Does that mean we can’t enter without breaking open the whole barrier?” I ask.

Ran takes a moment to think. Or, maybe not think, more like contemplate something. After some time she replies, “There is another way.”

“Oh?” Mokou mutters.

Ran elaborates, “The barrier is set to use my power. However, there was not enough time to set it to use my power whilst I am inside. Therefore, if I were to not join you when entering the area, the barrier would remain intact.”

“In other words, we go in and are on our own,” I reiterate.

“The barrier is invisible, so you would still be able to leave if you find me again.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine,” Sanae says in confidence.

Mokou and I aren’t as sure. It doesn’t help that we still don’t have a real plan for what to do. Sure we have Tenshi to help alleviate the worst of the effects, but that’s only prevention, not a solution.

Now’s not the time to argue, though. We can’t show Yasaka or the tengu that we’re fibbing. Mokou, Sanae, and I stand against the barrier by Ran’s direction, ready to walk into whatever madness is happening inside.

I can see in, clear as late evening, and while there isn’t anything that looks different, we can’t say for sure what’s happened throughout the day deeper in.

At Ran’s command, we step forward. And everything goes black. It isn’t that it’s dark like nighttime. It’s more like I’m sitting in some extremely dense smoke. Immediate confusion sets in since this isn’t remotely what it looked like from the outside.

Before I can start speculating what’s happening, Mokou calls out, “Are you two seeing this? It’s not just me, right?”

“If you mean not being able to see, then yes, I’m seeing the same thing,” Sanae jokes.

A flicker of light sparks next to me, then a palm size blaze bursts alive in Mokou’s hand. It does little to abate the crippling haze around us. Seeing the light in contrast, this dark really is a mist. It’s a gas swirling in the air. Mokou looks around with the flame to get what few feet of view she can with it. Sanae waves a hand through the air to feel the homogeneous mass constantly dissipating and reconstituting.

My first priority is to look down at my shirt. Using Mokou’s light I can tell that the charms are just fine. Only the bottom one is burnt out right now, no change otherwise. Hopefully that’s a good sign. Very little else is right now.

My eyes trail down to the ground. Nearly pitch black. It’s like the ground I’m standing on died and started to decay. This place was already decrepit, but this is far beyond the cusp.

“Alright, come on you two. In a line behind me and grab the person in front of you,” Mokou orders.

Sanae does just that, and asks, “How are we going to get to that little hut with everything pitch black like this?”

Which is a very good question. I saw this area just earlier today and it all looked the same then, but it’s unnavigable now.

“You’ll just have to trust my sense of direction,” Mokou whims. “I haven’t lived in that damn bamboo forest without learning how to get my bearings when I can’t see.”

She holds the flame at the edge of her reach, and watches it. She stays like that for a chunk of time before feeling satisfied with her reading. The flame was gently moving in the direction of the fog. We walk perpendicular to it, likely walking transverse to some air current.

“Wait isn’t that still using your sight?” I jab to lighten the mood a bit.

“Shut up. Be glad that the bamboo forest of the lost is really good at its namesake or I wouldn’t have had to come up with this,” Mokou retorts.

“I mean, it’s also a simple caver’s trick, too,” Sanae comments.

We move slowly through this blind region, taking care not to disturb the vibrant compass Mokou holds. She takes the lead, Sanae holds her off arm behind, and I take up the rear holding Sanae’s arm still carrying Tenshi.

Only the sound of our steps pierce the dead air. It was the same before, but this illusory crammed space made by dark walls forces it to feel evermore present.

After several dozen meters, I notice the flame start to lose magnitude and directionality. Mokou notices as well, but trudges on.

A thought occurs to me at this point, “Hey, is this all misfortune around us?”

“You mean this situation?” Sanae asks.

“No, like this stuff in the air. I thought it was some chemical reaction, or whatever equivalent that would be, between the misfortune and the ground rising into the air, but this is just too consistently dense.”

“That’s… uncomfortable to think about…” Sanae trails.

“I’m trying to figure out why the air has any motion, though,” I continue. Now I'm waving my hand through the air to try and feel some resistance.

Mokou nips at my casual attitude with a, “Quiet, we don’t know what’s here.”

Only a few steps more and Mokou pipes up again, cursing, “Damnit!”

“What’s wrong?” Sanae chitters, not hiding her nerves well.

“The fire isn’t picking up any draft now,” Mokou explains. “Either of you have another idea that could keep us moving without mapping the area?”

I ponder for a moment, and fish something from my pocket. One of the flash rocks I’ve been holding onto. Thankfully unused to now.

“Hey, can either of you do something with this? It shines when striking something,” I hand it off to the two. Mokou puts out her flame when taking the rock.

She looks at it for a bit in the pitch black, and starts questioning, “Is it some magic? Does it work multiple times? How bright is it?”

I answer in order, “I think. Not entirely sure, but without some kinda mojo definitely not. Bright as the sun in July.”

Mokou stays quiet for a few extra seconds before I hear her grab it tight. It lights up better than a lantern. It also doesn’t instantly burn out.

“What? Could I always use it like that?” I ask, surprised that I apparently didn’t check everything I could do with the set.

Mokou grunts, and replies, “Not really. It took me a while before I really settled on pyromancy. Stuff like light is always useful, though. Glad I could remember this little tidbit to keep enchanted crap going for more than a second.”

“I didn’t know you studied magic, Mokou,” Sanae chimes in.

“Didn’t, really. It’s more like it’s hard to not learn stuff when you’re harassed by things that shoot lasers on the daily,” Mokou brags.

The shining rock is a lot brighter than a regular fire, so we’re able to see a total of ten feet now! That’s a three times improvement, so I’ll take it.

Mokou has a much easier time keeping our bearing toward the center by seeing the foliage around us. In some short moments we tunnel through the impossible blackness, the fog dissipating around us as we move forward.

Suddenly we’re in an open area. The misfortune let up on this area, and with the bright lighting I can see why. A jet of this crude misfortune ejects upward from Kagiyama’s now crumbled shack. The entire area is a diorama for angular forces: spinning material at the edge being drawn in and spit out upward, hitting the ceiling of the barrier and trailing back down around the encasing to loop once more.

It’s beautiful, it’s horrifying, and someone is sitting in the center of it making this.

[Please wait warmly…]

Had to play around with this one in my head for a bit. I think it came out naturally in the end. No vote this time because I’d like to believe that I can finish this portion of the Hina chapter within the next update. We’ll have more time with the poor girl after, though, so don’t you worry.
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I had a feeling Kanako couldn't resist the fruit dangled in front of her face, especially with Sanae here to sweeten the deal for us!
The crows/wolves were similarly as toothless as expected.

Very satisfied with this result; we can finally get to work solving the problem.

Ran having to stay outside is understandable, but now we've walked right into a survival horror setpiece without her.

Supremely excited to see what happens next!

[X] Objective: SURVIVE
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So... What happened to Tenshi? Is she still in Sanae's arms while we went through the barrier?
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>“Very well,” she says. “The Yakumo and company will resolve this incident. However, my shrine maiden must join you as insurance,” she directs to Ran.

Sanae was the one with the bright idea to kidnap invite Tenshi along for the extra misfortune resistance so she's pretty much earned her right to be part of the team regardless. Kanako probably would've asked for something else if she knew this.

>Ran looks up to the goddess and offers a silent nod in agreement. With that, the pillar blocking her lifts itself back into the air and joins its companions behind Yasaka. She walks up to the border awaiting the rest of the group.

Ran agreed to what was essentially a free concession, but Kanako doesn't know this.
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Even if Kanako knew there's only upsides for her shrine maiden to join the party.

Sanae's presence causes the Moriya shrine to be directly involved in the incident's resolution, which in the event of a positive result would generate a lot of faith.

Tenshi is a known delinquent and troublemaker, so nobody on the surface is likely to take offence to her getting knocked about a bit.

Kanako's a shrewd enough politician to have considered all the circumstances at play here and Regis just presented her an offer she actively would not want to refuse.

Regis played a politician's game and he played it smooth.

Ran, no stranger to politics herself and back in top form, took to the plan perfectly.
I wonder if her raising no comment whatsoever to the plan was indicative of her approval.
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“Either of you have something to say to lighten the mood?” I request of my companions while standing in awe of the nightmare around us.

“I don’t think now’s the time for that,” Sanae refutes. “Do either of you see where we need to start looking? Are we even standing in the right place to find Hina’s house?”

“I could swear that Ran set up the barrier with the house smack in the center,” I reply.

The place is moving as if it were itself living. The vortex of dark clouds create their own weather patterns that phase in and out of existence as the mass hits the ceiling of the barrier only to precipitate back down. The reason we could see so little before is because the misfortune settles at the edge of the barrier and only inches back towards the central source point.

Mokou flips around, the light in her hand making conspicuous rays against what was clearly the house here, and it doesn’t appear to be in any state that could be called a building now.

“What the hell was that?” Mokou curses.

I turn to look the same way Mokou is, only the dense wall of fog greets me.

“What is it, Miss Mokou?” Sanae asks, also staring into the dark wall.

“Don’t damn know,” she replies back. “Thought I just felt eyes on me. Place is freaking me out. Never seen something like it.”

She starts moving towards the building remains, taking the light with her. Sanae follows suit, but I linger a moment more to study the wall. She felt eyes on her? Is there an animal in here? Hopefully not, since it’s probably been mutated beyond recognition.

The fog begins to form an eddy current around something inside the blind space.

That can’t be my imagination, right?

“Hey, you two, I think there’s something here…” I attempt to get their attention, but they’ve already started to make their way to the most of the wreckage.

I retreat back to them, and I can only hope that whatever is causing that is some emergent property of the misfortune itself.

I get back over to the two, who are inspecting the space before us. I move to start looking as well, but I remember something. I check the condition of my shirt charms. The second one took on a small amount of rot. I’ll have to be pretty pious to these seven after this is over.

I turn my attention to the house… what’s left of it, anyway. It doesn’t just look like it fell apart, it might be closer to say it broke apart. Violently. It would be closer to call it a wreckage, and I imagine a gross amount of paraphernalia is buried under here, considering what I learned about Kagiyama before.

“Hina!” Sanae calls out for the goddess.

We stick close together and fan the pile of wood, calling for the goddess every few paces. The devastation that this area has been under is beyond comprehension. I can only wonder if you’d need to track healing from misfortune like this in half-lives.

A shift in the wood near me catches my attention, so I walk over to investigate. Something catches my ankle. I yelp in stressed panic, and I can already hear Mokou and Sanae rush beside me.

Mokou snags what caught me and grunts as she yanks it from the wood pile.

She’s fished up a particular goddess, one who’s too tired for conversation, or even standing for that matter.

The goddess appears beaten. Worn down. Having no more spirit left to give this place. She seemed ragged last time I saw her, but now all of her demeanor has been killed. Her outfit is shredded in places, torn at the hems, and caked with ample amounts of dirt. Her eyes and face are sunken and nearly hollow. It’s hard to know that she’s even alive if she hadn’t grabbed my leg like that.

Mokou is the first to speak again, “Holy shit. What happened to her..?”

What she said summarizes my own thoughts pretty well. It looks like she’s been living destitute for a whole month after we left. Is that a statement of the misfortune’s magnitude?

“Go…” Kagiyama rasps, still held aloft by Mokou’s clutch. Mokou realizes this and settles the goddess on her back.

“Hina!” Sanae exclaims, kneeling down next to the goddess and taking care of Tenshi’s hair not to get in her face.

“Hmm..? Oh, you. From the shrine at the top…” Kagiyama pushes her speech through an obvious lack of energy. Her words are quiet and slow. The eerie silence of the fog came in handy to hear them clearly. “You… all… should go.”

“Yeah, not on your life,” Mokou states. “You need help and we’re the only people here to try and do anything right now.”

“But… what are you going to do?” Kagiyama asks, regaining her breath bit by bit.

“Ah, right,” Mokou trails off.

“Well…” Sanae tries to find the right words.

“We don’t have a damn clue,” I bluntly explain.

Kagiyama stares between us in disbelief. Instead of berating our foolishness, she breaks out into a weak, joyful chuckle, only stopped by a coughing fit.

“I guess that’s how it is for Gensokyo,” she jokes.

“Ah! We do have Tenshi, since I think she protects against bad luck,” Sanae remembers, presenting the celestial like a person-sized doll.

“Prevention isn’t gonna solve the problem, though,” Mokou undermines.

“There’s other things to worry about, though,” Sanae leads the conversation.

“What do you mean?” I ask. “What’s stopping us from sitting here and deducing how to dispel Kagiyama’s curse?”

Sanae points past us, over to the vortex of misfortune now only a couple dozen meters away, and explains, “She’s here, and not in the middle of that. So what is at the center?”

She looks back down at Kagiyama, hoping for some level of explanation. The sullen goddess looks around in thought, not sure how to word herself.

“You… I don’t know how to say…” Kagiyama fails to explain.

“Well, I guess we gotta kill whatever the hell that is, then,” Mokou determines. “Tanner, can you carry Hina?”

I’m mildly surprised by the request, and answer, “I don’t know. I’ve never been much of a macho man.”

“Just be a regular man and pick up the damsel,” Mokou complains. “If I’m gonna be beating something up, I can’t be carrying someone flammable.”

“Alright, alright. I get it,” I nag back. It takes a bit of knee work, but I get Kagiyama off the ground and hold her in front of me. I’m not as weak as I used to be when teaching, but people are pretty heavy.

Even I can tell that Kagiyama is no more than a twig right now, though. It’s like half her body’s left her in the last several hours.

“Is something wrong, Tanner?” Kagiyama asks.

“No, Miss Kagiyama. Just making sure I have a good grip on you,” I deflect the question.

“Please… just call me Hina,” she requests, nestling into my arm to conserve her strength. “I’ve never been one for formality. Is Nitori fine?”

“Based on how Ran reacted, I’d say she’s probably doing fine at Eientei.”

“Good,” Hina responds, contented.

“Alright, less talking, more walking,” Mokou demands, taking the bright stone away with her.

Sanae and I scramble to keep up with her. The tempest is blasting from the hill over, but it’s hardly doing anything at all to us. This stuff is in every way otherworldly. Understanding it might be just as difficult as the barrier itself. Thank the gods that it’s unable to do anything to us.

We sneak a view over the knoll to spot what the cause of the storm is. Mokou doesn’t have much choice but to raise the bright stone over the bump. It doesn’t end up helping, we’re sitting inside the inner wall after all. We’re barely able to see past our own face. We signal amongst each other to move up in the densest portion of the fog.

I ask Hina to grab Mokou in front of me and Sanae takes my shoulder. We start to walk inward, only a few steps before completely breaking into an open space.

There, standing in the center of this mass, and more so conducting it, is Hina.

“What?” Sanae asks what’s on our minds.

The conductor Hina slows her raised hands from their wave. As she calmly lowers them, the wall around us lowers in turn. Soon enough, the misfortune is no longer piled on our position, and we can see out to the far fog walls.

The conductor turns around, eyes closed and face at peace.

Her eyes open and leak gaseous misfortune from empty sockets. Mokou slides a leg back, preparing to launch into an assault to protect us.

The conductor folds her hands over the front of her pristine red dress. The same as what Hina’s wearing. Her entire outfit is in fact identical.

“Welcome,” the conductor speaks in Hina’s voice, a pleasant ring to this strange situation. It would be more pleasant if it weren’t for the fact that when she opens her mouth more of the black fog escapes from it.

She continues, “I was wondering when you would finish traipsing through the woods. I see you’ve picked up my lesser, as well.” She gestures to me and the sullen Hina I’m holding.

Mokou raises an arm between us and asks, “What are you?”

The conductor twists into a gnarly smug face, and answers, “Exactly what you’d expect. A god, a Youkai, and a part of my other self. Though, that might not be so true at this point, as I’m something of a purified essence of misfortune,” it contradicts with a polite bow.

“I’m guessing you’re not particularly friendly, then,” Mokou surmises.

“That would depend, how are you all with inflicting suffering and strife on the world around you?” it asks.

Mokou snorts, “Yeah, not surprised you would be some messed up piece of filth.”

It replies, “Let’s not mix words: I am pure, raw misfortune. ‘Messed up’ only means that I am living my existence correctly to your standards. Just as Youkai seek fear and gods seek faith, I seek misery, hopelessness, and contempt.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever. Kill you and no more problems, right?”

“Is that the case?” it questions right back.

Mokou wastes no more time with its wordplay and leaps into the air. Setting herself ablaze, the area lights up far brighter than the rock she just dropped could manage. The conductor Hina stands with arms open to embrace the fireball. The din of scorching flames is deafening against the utter silence from a moment ago.

Sanae sets Tenshi down next to me so that she might support Mokou, but Mokou herself is going all out to finish things now, allowing no one near. A set of fiery wings sprouts from the woman, and beat back, launching herself as a projectile feet-first into the false goddess.

The conductor does nothing to stop the torrential flame from colliding with her, barreled down by the impact that morphs into an erupting pillar of fire. The heat is intense. I’m more than a safe distance away from the fight, but I can still feel it as if I was sitting in an oven.

Sanae stays until the pillar collapses, and casts several bright stars around her as she rushes in beside Mokou. From what I can see, there isn’t anything left of the body. Either it turned to ash or back into the misfortune fog around us.

Wait… would it be made of fog? Then wouldn’t that mean–

A bang as loud as a cannon sets off right behind me. I can’t see the dark projectile speed down to Mokou and Sanae, only the dirt shoveled up by the blast. My hearing takes a few moments to recover from the noise, to which I can hear Mokou cursing up a storm.

The two were sent skyward, catching themselves and preparing more spells to launch my way. The light from their extensive firepower clearly shows a false Hina standing behind me, finger pointing at the spot she shot.

It tilts its head up with a ceramic scratch. “Why did you assume that was the only form of my being?” it mocks.

“You really should have remembered that part where I’m a god,” Hina’s voice comes from the left behind some trees.

“Remembered? As if those two are even thinking right now,” a third Hina chimes in from the right.

Right, Shinto god. If the area is any indicator, she’s pretty strong right now, and that would mean that she could be as many copies as she wants.

Wait… why didn’t we use that to find the Goddess Moriya earlier?

Three streams of pitch black projectiles assail Sanae and Mokou’s position, forcing them to dodge and shield against it. Sanae rose up further to narrow the direction the shots came from, coming out unscathed but otherwise too surprised to counterattack.

Mokou… is not so lucky. She took multiple shots through the chest, and these are not the playful dueling kind Gensokyo is bound to normally. She keels over unceremoniously, with blood pouring out of the gaps in her body. It pools up immediately. The two Hinas hiding in the trees burst up to the same height as Sanae to continue their assault.

The first walks around me, taking careful stock of what I’m doing. I can’t tell what she’ll do in the slightest. I can only realistically fear for my life. First time in a while.

I hold the original Hina tightly, covering her.

“Now, now,” the false placates, “you are better off making sure she is just fine. I wouldn’t want myself to die, now would I?”

The words resonate a bit in my skull and I look up to the creature. It looks down to Hina with a morose smile. Hina looks back, spiteful of the creature.

“Ah, this one, though,” the false Hina grabs Tenshi’s ankle and flings the unconscious girl into the air before loosing another blast. Tenshi is sent into the distance, tumbling through the air until she’s buried in the sea of misfortune fog. “Wouldn’t want her around. She just felt like a bed of thorns. Now relax there, odd human.”

That last part catches my attention, “Wait, what do you mean–“

She floats off to deal with the literal explosive rebirth of Mokou soaring into the air. While we weren’t looking, Sanae seemed to have taken a major hit and tumbles down through the air before Mokou knocks into her, kipping her back into a stable float.

The two take to fighting the three false Hinas in the air, but even more are waiting on the ground, still as statues, only observing.

“I wish I could say I’m to blame for this,” Hina starts to speak, “but I don’t know why this happened at all.”

“It’s alright, they’ll pull through, won’t they?” I lie for a shred of confidence.

“But will you?” Hina asks, shifting in my arms to prod my stomach.

Oh, shit. That.

The second charm from the bottom is already burnt out, and the third one up is going that way, too. I didn’t even think about how I was only protected because Tenshi was sitting next to me. I was just relieved that the fake Hina didn’t immediately kill me.

That also means that the misfortune is going to start heavily effecting Mokou and Sanae as well. It already has been the moment they had to start fighting away from Hina and I.

I panic and shout to the two, “Go find Tenshi! It threw her into the woods!” I point out in the direction she flew after catching one of their attentions.

A Hina at the ground doesn’t take the call out nicely, and turns in place to aim a shot directly at me. I don’t have much time to grab another bright rock. I curl in on my Hina and smash one to the ground, and a bang goes off right at the same time.

It seems to have saved me for this short second, but I can already feel a searing pain in my shoulder. My entire shoulder. I must have gotten a hell of a flesh wound just now.

“Aargh!” I cry. The pain is too much for me and I crumple over on top of Hina.

“Tanner?!” Hina shouts. “Tanner, please!”

She’s too weak to even budge me, and I’m too focused on the pain to pay attention to my surroundings.

I can feel the extreme heat emanating nearby, as well as hear the sounds of numerous explosions on the ground. Mokou must have retreated down to help me. The firing squad at the bottom might have made things difficult on that end.

This isn’t looking good for us. I can’t think of any way that we could pull around the fight in our favor. We only have two active combatants and neither of them can do any meaningful damage to the target.

Come on, brain, work through the pain. Your adrenaline addled thoughts need to find it. There’s got to be something else…

“GOD THAT FUCKING HURT!” a shout cries, surprisingly not from me, though. It came from out in the woods, where… Tenshi… fell…

I force my head to look in the direction of the roar.

An intense gout of red light much like Mokou’s eruption pierces through the darkness, shredding a sector of the fog wall from existence.

“Why’s it so damn dark?! Where the hell am I?! THIS PLACE IS DISGUSTING!” a younger female voice rings in stark fury. I would assume Tenshi’s voice and fury.

Scarlet light shines from her position, clearly pointing out a target for the many Hinas in the area to now make a priority. One loud and very impending priority. They send a wave of dark bullets out into the distance, only doing to incense the increasingly agitated celestial.

The light blitzes our direction, screaming, “I’m going to smash you to dust!”

A massive swath of earth is picked into the air and Tenshi perches atop it, still going at full speed. She drives the small hill into the first target she can spot, which is unfortunately Mokou, who is a bright white beacon in this lack of lighting. Tenshi stands on the top of the boulder, looking around at all of the Hinas, who are now realizing their own misfortune to come upon them. A lot of them gasp, releasing a black cloud that clues in the celestial to their rather unholy nature.

Tenshi stands proud, raising a small rod emitting a blade of energy above her head, and sinks it into the ground, causing a ripple of blasts from the earth around her. The Hinas are skewered by the fragmentations of earth and scarlet energy, profusely bleeding their misfortune fog. Those downed don’t even bother getting up, knowing another pounding would come if they did so.

Or, I mean, even a gaseous monster body might be expended by that much force. I’m no expert.

Sanae floats down to the scene, fleeing from a few other Hinas. Tenshi hears the chase and sends smaller rocks into the sky that hone in on multiple Hinas, but instead of colliding directly the rocks themselves repeatedly fire lasers.

Tenshi stares Sanae down and flips her off for knocking her out. And, obviously, taking her to wherever we are now. Maybe also her hat, if she noticed. Thankfully I held onto it.

Sanae doesn’t get to apologize as something else catches Tenshi’s attention, turning her view over to me. I had thankfully avoided her blitz by keeping my head low, though I was kind of already there since it’s hard to sit up with the pain in my shoulder.

She hops the distance in one go, landing right in front of me. Sanae busies herself with the edges of the rock, frantic that Mokou is buried under it.

“Who are you, and why do you feel like someone I know?” Tenshi asks to me and Hina.

“Me or her?” I retort.

“The goddess, obviously. You can screw off elsewhere for all I care, human.”

“I don’t… know you, though?” Hina more asks than answers. She looks around for anyone to explain what’s happening to her, but both Sanae and Mokou are out of the way. I sure as hell wouldn’t know.

Tenshi poses in thought before snapping her fingers and reiterating, “You are someone I know! Hang on, I think I’ve got the idea now.”

She fishes out of her skirt pocket a… fishing hook. Go figure. Taking the sword hilt and placing the hook at the base, a bright glow emits to heat up the metal bit in whatever crazy energy she uses. The hook appears red hot now, but Tenshi grabs the thing without issue.

Before I get the chance to ask what she plans to do with the small item, she tosses my torso off of Hina. Ignoring the screeching sting from my shoulder, I roll to see what Tenshi’s doing, and find that she’s stuck the hook in Hina’s nostril, pulling with all her might.

Guess I hadn’t seen the strangest thing yet today, because this probably takes it.

Sanae came over to see what’s happening, but is too baffled to stop Tenshi. So am I, for that matter.

After enough effort, Tenshi pulls something out of Hina, the hook passing through her nose without injury. Or, wait, maybe not? Her nose is still caught on the hook, but the bottom of her head is against the ground. Some more pulling and I get an understanding that this is two faces splitting from each other.

It most certainly looks as weird as it sounds, too. I can see both faces, despite one being physically below the other. Is Tenshi pulling out a ghost?

With some more area for leverage, namely the two heads split from one another, Tenshi sticks a boot into Hina’s face and really wrenches the second person from her. This is unpleasant for every party involved, and shouldn’t need explanation for the amount of grunting involved across the three of them.

With the heads and torsos separated, Tenshi gives one last pull and peels out a darker blue haired girl. This one is as ragged as Hina is right now, and just as horribly skinny.

Hey, isn’t that..?

“Shion?!” Sanae shouts.

[x] A time of rest.

[x] A time of investigation.

And thus, here we are. The finale of what might be a more action packed section for this chapter. I still plan on going through a good deal more (this doesn’t even remotely cover ideas in the original lecture!) and I haven’t gushed over Hina yet. As for this vote, consider it more of a little explanation of what happened or a lot of explanation, not too difficult this time.
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[x] A time of investigation.
Something something, every nook and cranny.
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Well, we found the Yorigami sisters, one way or another.

Hina absorbs misfortune, Shion causes it.
Rather than possession, this sounds more like Hina went full Kirby on Shion by accident.
I am morbidly intrigued by this misfortune feedback loop.

[x] A time of investigation.

Investigation or not, Regis should probably care he hasn't lost an arm or something first.
Keine's gonna give him one hell of a literal headache over this.
Also, him being referred to as an "odd human" was rather peculiar; he's already picked up on this himself, too.

>I haven’t gushed over Hina yet.

I was in the remain with Hina camp; more Hina is never a bad thing.
Even just the little tidbit we've gotten so far makes her sound precious.
Waiting very warmly.
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[x] A time of investigation
Wuh happun
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[x] A time of investigation.

Questions are flooding through my mind at this point. Why the hell is one of the Yorigami sisters here? How was she in Hina? How is it possible that we lucked into having Tenshi here to do that? Why the fuck did using a fishing hook work? Sanae looks like she’s just as curious as I am, but holds herself back.

I can’t feed my curiosity, either. Not because I don’t want to, but because I think the adrenaline in my system has subsided, so now the pain of the shoulder injury is settling in. Did I say injury? Because I think it would be more correct to say it feels like my arm has separated from my body!

The intensity only seems to ramp up in the next few seconds as my mind is purely kept on the area. I can’t even tell my eyes to focus or my head to move, only my voice works to shout in pain. Tenshi and Sanae turn their attention from whatever they were talking about over to me. One of them pins my opposing arm away from my shoulder, which I hadn’t known I moved to put pressure on the wound.

“Hey, so what am I looking at, here? What is this guy?” Tenshi asks, unimpressed by the show.

Sanae kneels down beside me and answers, “He’s just a regular human …Oh that’s really bad. Uhm… is anyone a medic?”

“Like any of us would know medical junk,” Tenshi states matter-of-factly.

Sanae scrambles around for something to use for my wound, even taking one of her long separated arm sleeves off to see if she could purpose it for a knot. It only agitates my exposed flesh, and stains the article more red than white.

I feel sweat clamor me worse than any hot flash could do, and my continued cries are giving Sanae an anxiety attack.

“Ugh, his screaming is annoying,” Tenshi revolts. “If it’ll shut him up, then let me… wait, where’s my hat?” She checks her head for the missing piece. Thankfully, I know that it’s in my pack and try to lift the entire thing out from under me. Sanae notices and helps to retrieve it. She undoes the strap and picks out the wide brimmed hat.

Tenshi snags it back to her head and proceeds to pluck something from her crown. Right, there were fruits attached to the hat. I couldn’t even tell how, but they were definitely there. In between an uncontrollable moan and a wail she stuffs the fruit in my mouth. There’s not much thought for me to give about the taste of it, only the confusion about how this is supposed to help.

Clenching my teeth down, I eat a large swathe of the fruit’s flesh. In no time flat the pain gradually subsides. Pinkish fruit, a celestial, right, that was a thing they had. Something about body strengthening, but I didn’t pay it much mind since it seemed so moot of a point for people from heaven to have food that strengthened their already powerful bodies.

With the pain subsumed by whatever I just ate, I have control of my muscles again. My eyes go back into focus to see that Tenshi is looking just as miffed as I expected, but also holding Shion at the waist tightly in her arm. She releases her boot from my arm when she can tell that I’m fine...ish.

Sanae, on the other hand, seems to be on the verge of tears. Poor girl must take my wellbeing more personally than I expected.

I try to roll up, but I have no strength, so I only nudge upward a bit. I note just how little control my left arm has. Looking down, yeah, that’s just a whole chunk of the shoulder completely rended. Luckily it was the top of my shoulder, otherwise I would have bled out already. Or so I say, but it seems that my blood pooled up more than a person should survive from, much less remain awake.

If I were a betting man, then I’d say the combination of the seal on my forehead, the celestial fruit, and the charms on my shirt are probably to thank. Only three of the charms seemed to survive after I last checked, but that’s still more than I was suspected.

“Here,” a pleasant, calm voice chimes in. Hina got up at some point. There’s a fullness to her that I haven’t seen yet, and it might be some level of delirium speaking, but she looks positively divine.

In short, she’s looking unnaturally healthy, all things considered. Ah, no, it makes sense. The misfortune is seeping into her, the clouds evenly floating into her body. A god of misfortune would obviously need the stuff as a core part of their existence, so absorbing it probably replenishes her energy, too.

Hina removes a ribbon around her forearm, revealing a series of scars, and wraps the top of my arm in a tight knot to lessen the blood flow. I look up to her, expectantly.

She giggles, and follows with, “No, there isn’t any magic in that ribbon, you just needed something to help tie down the bloodflow.”

Sanae and Hina attempt to raise me to my feet, but there’s just no energy for them to use.

“So, uh, when am I supposed to talk?” Shion asks nervously.

Tenshi goes to answer coyly, but the sound of a blast from under the boulder shudders the ground. A loud, and more than mildly aggrieved, roar comes from under the rock, blowing open an edge in a gout of fire. Mokou climbs out of the opening, looking plenty pissed off, but otherwise no worse for wear.

“Hey, Tenshi!” she shouts. “Try and kill me harder, why don’t you?!”

“Shut up and help these two with the dying pig over here!” Tenshi shouts back.

Mokou perks up at the words and bounds over in an instant. Shion seems rather crestfallen that she’s missed her chance to announce herself to the group.

“Gah… shit. Well now both Keine and the fox are gonna kill me,” Mokou bemoans. “What even happened to you?”

“One of the fake ones shot me, that’s what. It’s a wonder I even have an arm left,” I gripe, rousing my coarse voice. I look over the group and clear my throat to say, “And thanks for keeping me alive. Not in the best mood with all the blood loss.”

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get sappy with me,” Mokou jests, working to lift me up. She gets me in a piggyback leaning on my arm. “Hey, grass head, hold onto his pack. Don’t want him having a cow later.”

“Why do you people even know an English saying?” I bicker, lost in the amount of absurdisms I have to absorb from just one day.

“Is that English? I always thought it was a common saying,” Mokou ponders as the group starts to make steps to the edge of the barrier.

“No, no, no. Surely you heard it from somebody recently, Mokou,” Sanae argues.

Keine told me this, but the people of Gensokyo really take life too much at their own pace. One moment Mokou was dying over and over and now she’s arguing about common phrases. What a place I’ve found myself.

While the two make their own comedy show, I take a glance over to Tenshi and Shion. Shion being here at all is no small surprise, even if it makes some sense. She’s supposedly capricious, or maybe just wily, when compared to Hina. But while their powers are similar, they’re not exactly the same. When I’m back on my feet I’ll need to interrogate both of them for all they’re worth.

I almost leave it at that before I really pay attention to the fact that Tenshi is still holding Shion at the waist. At first it looks like something possibly obsessive on Tenshi’s part, but there’s an oddness to Shion’s body.

Shion emits wisp like flames at all times from the tips of her hair and her feet. I would expect it to look like a flame rising, but right now, though, the ‘flames’ are gravitating in Hina’s direction. Hina is over a dozen paces out, and yet there seems to be an almost magnetic attraction between them.

If I look closely enough, it seems as if Shion’s legs trail a few degrees ahead of their natural hanging tendency from Tenshi’s grip.

“Hey, Miss Yorigami,” I address the pestilence god, “is that odd attraction you have normal?”

Shion seems more confused than anything by the question, staring back blankly without a call to respond.

“Is he hitting on you of all people?” Tenshi grimaces. She perks back up when further noting, “Wait! He addressed you properly! Show me respect too!”

Mokou chuckles, adding a small bit of pain to my shoulder, and jeers, “Maybe when you start acting like somebody respectable. Hell, both gods here have you beat and they exist on negativity.”

“Huh… an attraction…” Shion absent mindedly comments on my question. “Yeah, that’s weird.”

“Well, it doesn’t take a genius,” Tenshi claims. She points to Hina and moves to Shion, saying, “One sucks in, the other spits out.”

“Could it really be that simple?” Sanae muses to the idea.

“Mm,” the front of the group chimes. Hina shares her thought on the matter, “It’s not impossible. Seeing Miss Shion separate from me was quite startling, but it makes the most sense when put how Tenshi said. I take in, she gives, and together we wouldn’t be able to do either, instead it would pile up worse than snow.”

“Hang on, I’m no misfortune expert,” Mokou interjects, “but wouldn’t the two of you combined like that make nothing happen at all? Why would misfortune miasmate worse than the little vampire brat on a temper tantrum?”

Hina remains silent. Her gait is very structured, even when walking with her eyes closed in thought. It wouldn’t surprise me if you could balance a book or even a glass of water on her head. Wait, is that how her bow stays on? Not to mention that her crowning bow is back on her head, even though it was all shredded up before. The thing must be mystically attached to her–

Snapping fingers in front of my face attract my attention. “Hey, genius, start your speculating thing. Less fawning over the hot stuff that can get you killed,” Mokou mocks my poor tunnel vision.

“Oh my,” Hina giggles, “is that high praise from someone of your experience?”

“It wouldn’t be high,” Tenshi insults. “I’m sure the most experience she’s ever gotten is back country farm boys.”

“Hey now,” Sanae states wedging between Mokou and Tenshi. “Let’s all act a little mature, yeah? There’s only an angry mob of tengu outside.”

“Ah…” Hina deflates. “I guess it would come to that.”

“No, no, it’s fine now!” Sanae reassures her.

We approach the edge of the barrier, I can only really tell because a group of people are gathered. Thankfully, Hina has been absorbing the blinding fog on our way out, so we didn’t have anywhere near as many visibility issues.

I get a good look at Hina absorbing the unnatural atmosphere. She pirouettes on the balls of her feet, arms laid on her skirt front. She continues to rotate, showing no signs of friction affecting her. Is she floating while doing that?

The visible misfortune gas gravitates into her like water in a sink. The swirl makes me think of the personification we saw, conducting the misfortune outwards. That creature made no motion, though, unlike Hina. Perhaps the motion is what causes a restorative force on this miasma.

That point pales in comparison to another observation. It isn’t lost on anyone that Shion is also directly effected by Hina’s spin. Her wisps and limbs are pulled in like she was the only one to experience a heavy gust of wind.

It begs an obvious question: can this happen again?

As the mist clears further, a familiar face starts to make motions outside. Ran moves her hands in practiced circular motions before beckoning us to come out.

We move past the line of separation and are greeted to a much brighter world. The sun may have set, but it’s clear as day to see compared to inside of the dead zone. My eyes adjust to spot the nearby group of people. They’re not who I expected.

The tengu aren’t crowding around the edge of the barrier anymore. Instead they’ve taken to the treeline a short distance out. Replacing them is a cavalcade of colorful girls. Reimu, Marisa, a girl with white hair in green carrying samurai swords, the western styled maid from the vampire mansion, and a haughty tengu mixed in with them. From my understanding this is the usual crowd of… what you might call ‘fixers.’

What exactly they are ‘fixing’ is up for any given whim they’re here for, not to mention how much it gets fixed. Mileage may vary and all that.

An extra I hadn’t noticed at first but sticking out for the wrong reason is a girl with tied up purple hair hiding under a large straw hat. She’s wearing plain white work clothes like a village worker would, contrasting the eccentric colors and fabrics of basically every single person around us. Wait I think I’m part of that group now, too, with my decorated dress shirt, and the talisman stuck to my forehead.

The other colorful individuals react to our arrival, but the workman moves faster, ignoring any impede even from the goddess Yasaka.

She rapidly checks through our group, returning to me after she’s finished, and starts ordering Mokou to help her. I get set down against a close by rock and she cracks open a large wooden box she’d been carrying. She begins perusing various bottles and medical pieces as Mokou strikes up conversation.

“What brought you out here, Reisen?” Mokou asks.

“A certain loudmouth kappa. One who made it obvious things could get this bad,” the medical girl responds. She continues to sift through her box in a panic. I’m beginning to believe there’s something off about the box itself based on how many items she’s already gone through.

Mokou looks at her increasing frustration and grabs the girl’s hat off, revealing a pair of tall standing bunny ears. She looks back up to Mokou with piercing red eyes as the ashen haired girl admonishes, “Hey, cool it! He’s stable right now, so stop stressin’ us out!”

“A-ah,” she stutters, the sharpness in her eyes settling down. “Right. Yes, you’re right. First aid gets to me, that’s all…”

“Sadly, I know what you mean…” I commiserate with the scrunched up rabbit.

As she treats me I keep a close eye on the conversation happening between the rest of the group. Not really what they’re saying, more just body language and emotions. It figures Reimu is disinterested to a comical degree the moment she heard that no fighting is needed. Marisa at least shows attentiveness, though that may just be because she’s a magician. The others have similarly mixed responses. Yasaka being the most troubled by the events.

Nothing seems to be of concern, besides the implications. That is, before a tengu swoops down on the group. Iizunamaru has shown herself again, and she doesn’t seem deterred like her cohorts.

I get up against Reisen’s wishes and wander over to see what they’ve started talking about now. Reisen continues to apply bandages to me as I’m walking, disregarding a few odd looks from the other denizens around us. Being even more hopped up on drugs and magic than before makes me feel like I could take on the world, fainting isn’t even a remote concern.

“You are to be tried by the inner circle of tengu society as an immediate threat to Gensokyo, Kagiyama Hina,” the present tengu authority declares.

“Under what jurisdiction do your people think they function?” Yasaka rebukes the tengu acting larger than life.

“One which refuses to administer harsh terms for an obvious threat, Lady Yasaka,” Iizunamaru stings back. “With all due respect, this scenario here could happen again, and action needs to be considered immediately before another catastrophic event transpires. The tengu have decided that we are the only ones willing to humor longer term solutions.”

“But nothing even ended up happening!” Mokou interjects.

“And that is due to how many circumstances to keep this monster down?” the golden pauldroned tengu points up at the area of the barrier. Still clear looking, but we all know better at this point.

Some murmurs start in both the crowd around us and within the trees. It quickly grows into a din of speculations and possibilities. Not many with a positive outlook.

“You are not the highest level of power involved in this incident,” Ran dominates the crowd’s worry. “The Yakumo withheld the tide now minimized. It is up to our decision what happens to the goddess.”

“The Yakumo are planned to be involved in the proceedings,” Iizunamaru placates. “You, Lady Yasaka, and three others others outside of tengu society will act as judges for the sake of Gensokyo’s safety. This was after much deliberation over the scope this incident could have.”

“You can’t seriously think that arbitrating this will go well,” I comment, a bit too high on my own impulses. Reisen shoots a hand over my mouth to stop me from further aggravating someone.

Iizunamaru doesn’t bother to respond to the provocation, instead pointing to Sanae and commanding, “Your Moriya shrine will have four days to produce their defense for the curse goddess, as you have claimed responsibility in resolving this situation. Use whatever means you need to present in her favor.”

With that, Iizunamaru turns around and whistles to the trees. A wave of her hand and the birds fly from the leaves and the wolves the roots. She looks over the gaggle again, giving a stern but not wholly dispassionate eye before soaring off as well.

“Those bastards really think they can just do whatever they want, huh?” Mokou gripes.

Sanae seems stunned over her sudden promotion to defense attorney, and so she doesn’t have much to comment on the matter.

The fixer crew disbands from the area, leaving the original assortment, now including Yasaka and my good partner.

There’s much to do, I suppose, and so little time to keep Reisen away from dragging me to the hospital.

[x] Support Sanae’s investigation.

[x] Help Hina rebuild her home.

[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.

I hadn’t made it clear, but the previous choice was actually a scene skip to Eientei or continuing as is. I ended up doing a lot more banter between Tenshi and Mokou than I expected to do, and I think it’s just fun to imagine what kind of dynamic they’d have with their wildly different backgrounds. Shion also didn’t get much light, but that’s just unfortunate, isn’t it?

Oh, and take this plot development as you may because I am too.
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
the guy is currently down an arm because there's a big mcfucking hole in it, held back only by a tourniquet.
those aren't supposed to be on for extended periods of time
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
Medical bills. Health insurance. Long lines. Shady drugs. The Medical brings their own dose of horror to the world.
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> [y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
Yeah no other option is due to have some major consequences and may later lead to permanent damage. He's not some super human or magical creature, he's a normal human. Very fragile.
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
Keine's going to be more angry at us if we don't.
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
No other choice really.
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.

As much as i want to help Hina and Sanae with their problems. Down an arm and high on pain killers makes us kinda useless,
Best we could do is ask around if anyone knows someone who can help them out while we get treatment.
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Damn tengu bureaucrats taking a stand now of all times.

Well, we're almost missing an arm and hopped up on magic and drugs.
As mentioned by others, we'd be about as useful as we were during the whole misfortune-addled episode.
So we'd be better off recuperating as much/soon as possible.

However, I still feel bad for saddling Sanae and Hina with all of the work.

Sanae needs the most immediate help; 4 days is not a lot of time at all, but we're basically useless.
Maybe Eientei's expert care will allow us to help at least the final day or two? That's just wishful thinking, however.

Hina's house... is not that immediately important, all things considered.
She will need some sort of shelter right now, but rebuilding her house can just be done after everything else is sorted.

So, I suggest we at least excuse ourselves to the two ladies.
We can at least make a promise to Hina to help her rebuild after Regis is all healed up.
We can't promise to be well enough in time to help with Sanae, but we can at least vow to help if that does happen to be the case.

[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
-[X] Promise Hina you'll help rebuild her house once you're well enough to do so.
-[X] Excuse yourself to Sanae. You're in no state to help her right now, but you can at least pledge to assist her if you recover in time for the trial.

Better to not drop dead before Keine has a chance to kill us for this.
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
-[X] Promise Hina you'll help rebuild her house once you're well enough to do so.
-[X] Excuse yourself to Sanae. You're in no state to help her right now, but you can at least pledge to assist her if you recover in time for the trial.

Keine will kill us if our injuries don't first
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[y] Go to the hospital, you unhealthy bastard.
-[X] Promise Hina you'll help rebuild her house once you're well enough to do so.
-[X] Excuse yourself to Sanae. You're in no state to help her right now, but you can at least pledge to assist her if you recover in time for the trial.

Log initiated.
Date time: 08/12/19 21:07:36
Protection target health unstable. Medical attention required.
Potential of observable bystanders misinterpreting requested actions as dangerous: 45%
Potential of observable bystanders misinterpreting requested actions as dangerous given explanation of reason: 10%

WARNING! Violent act capable of injury/incapacitation to protection target requested. Form of reason required for submission to Adm. Y at earliest convenience.

Proceed anyway? Y/N


Initiating combat usage of shkgm_04.tlsmn

A paper doll is released in a cutting arc. The doll flies, splitting the spirit binding talisman on Tanner Regis’ head. Using his moment deep in thought is ample time to incapacitate him.

It has been approximately over twenty minutes since Tanner Regis obtained a critical injury. It should be expected that the medical professional from Eientei would take him, however she has become shaken by the sight of an intense fight injury, instead choosing to attempt first aid treatment.

He needs to be forced elsewhere for treatment. The talisman was meant to focus his spirit back into his body, as the misfortune had strung it out. He decided to treat the boon as a makeshift stimulant, pushing his body beyond normal human capacity. The fool.

Sanae Kochiya and Hina Kagiyma shout in surprise as the human’s body collapses. Fujiwara no Mokou assumes a combative stance in front of the man’s body.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Fujiwara no Mokou shouts.

“He must be subdued for medical care.”

“He would’ve gone if you’d just asked!” Fujiwara continues in hostility.

This unit raises right hand in gesture to convince Fujiwara no Mokou to hear out reason.

“We both know Regis would not have listened in his current state. The moon rabbit supplied him too many medicines, causing him to turn hyperactive.”

The moon rabbit averts her eyes in a deserving shame.

“Tch,” Fujiwara no Mokou clicks her tongue, but removes herself from the body.

“It still would have been better to try and convince him, Miss Ran,” Sanae Kochiya argues.

“Regardless, he is unconscious. A moment before you carry him yourself, medic moon rabbit.”

Connecting to grtst_shkgm.dll via neural transmission…


Yes, Lady Ran?

Are you available at this current time to carry another body?

Did that old guy get hurt? No, sorry, Lady Ran. Only curious. I am at the human village attempting to scare roadside humans. I am available for transport… Both teleportation and the body, I mean.


Activating spell based teleportation.
Target grtst_shkgm.dll acquired.
Please channel raw energy into spell channel runes before dropping to floor.

The runed doll glows a brilliant blue before falling as a drop of water. A flash conceals the method Chen materializes in. A quirk of the spell Lady Yukari deliberated on to reduce replication from others.

“Lady Ran,” Chen salutes in a soldier-like fashion. Who taught her that? Only recently has she done that repeatedly.

I point to the protective target. Chen requires no further explanation. Chen does, however greet numerous members of the current group. Including Shion Yorigami. This child knows more individuals than would be expected.

Chen hoists the human body over her shoulders. A fully grown adult human male is nearly twice her size, but that means less than nothing to Youkai. Chen does need to be reminded of a human’s frailty. Tanner Regis has no less than 80% of his arm severed from his shoulder. It was by pure chance that the major artery there was not shredded.

Sanae Kochiya did admit that there was more blood pooled around Tanner Regis than a human could commonly produce before succumbing to anemia.

Investigation note added for later reference. Documented under happenings.dir folder as part of rgs_status.txt.
Launching bindings.exe using shkgm_05.tls through shkgm_55.tls…

A series of paper shikigami dolls fly from the units’ sleeves to tie down Tanner Regis arm to his chest. A tourniquet would not be enough to stop the free motion of Tanner’s arm from further injuring him.

Executable complete. Please set timer/distance for termination of structure.

>Set radial location eientei.domain center

Eientei grounds set as termination threshold. Please ping a used shikigami for a change in setting or manual termination.

Chen flies from the mountain down to the bamboo forest with Tanner Regis in tow. That concern may be dealt with as is, aside from the bill Doctor Eirin Yagokoro may deliver for formality, but there are more matters to attend currently. The other members of this current party are conversing amongst themselves, though appear to be preparing to leave.

“Kochiya, do you require assistance to investigate this event currently?”

Sanae Kochiya looks over in surprise at the offer and states, “Oh, uhm. No, I should be fine with Mokou. Thank you, though.”

“No, Sanae, I only said tonight, I really didn’t mean more than that,” Fujiwara no Mokou complains.

“Very well, best of luck.”

The two walk off in the direction of the barrier. They must have forgotten about it and the contamination zone that will need cleanup. Hina Kagiyama is currently speaking with Shion Yorigami and Tenshi Hinanawi. They are projecting possible reasons for the event.

“But if she went in me… which I still find wholly strange… why did more misfortune pile up? I can’t really explain it,” Hina Kagiyama speculates.

“How should I know? I didn’t even know it was already Monday. How many days does that mean I was stuck like that?” Shion Yorigami questions.

“Seven,” Hina Kagiyama answers surely. “I remember because I couldn’t take in any more misfortune right then, which I can’t think of another reason that might be.”

“Theoretically, it could have been more, had the pestilence goddess incubated before that period.”

“Smaller words, fox,” Tenshi Hinanawi shows her lack of upbringing.

“Shion Yorigami could have been inside Hina Kagiyama for longer than that week in which Kagiyama could not fully use her power.”

“Well, what do you think poor stuff?” Tenshi Hinanawi addresses Shion Yorigami.

“Uhm, I don’t really know any dates. It’s not something I think about,” Shion Yorigami confesses.

“Oh, yeah. I get what you mean. I only know what day it is when February rolls around into March,” Hina Kagiyama agrees.

“Remain on topic for now, this initial period will be vital to collaborating a single understanding of the events.”

“Hey, at least give them a moment of peace here, you dumb machine,” Tenshi Hinanawi rebukes.

“No, no, Miss Ran is right,” Hina Kagiyama assents. “I’m not safe just yet. I want to visit Nitori and make sure she’s fine, but… Walking away from here won’t look good. I don’t even have access to my own home right now.”

“Is that to be interpreted as requiring help in purifying the zone inside the barrier?”

“If you’re able to, then it would be a huge help for me. Even if it wasn’t my fault, this misfortune is still piled up because I’m here,” Hina Kagiyama explains. “I want to show the tengu that I do not wish to harm anything.”

“Do you understand how to purify an area of this scale?”

Hina Kagiyama contemplates the question, and shakes her head to say, “No. I haven’t done anything quite this size. Would you be able to support me, Miss Ran?”

“It is within the interests of both Gensokyo and Tanner Regis to do so. You will have my support on the matter.”

Hina Kagiyama is content with the answer and awaits further instruction to begin the process. Tenshi Hinanawi is unenthused by the current outcomes.

This unit beckons Tenshi Hinanawi for elaboration of her thoughts and mood.

Tenshi Hinanawi rolls her eyes and says, “Yeah everything’s just great now. I’m sure you’re only forgetting the part where you knocked me out and kidnapped me by chance.”

“That was Kochiya’s idea, which resolved the incident itself most amicably. There is another perspective that directly involves you. Your friend is half the cause. The tengu will not ignore her. The coming trial is only prosecuting Hina Kagiyama out of a lack of full context.”

The lack of a priori knowledge to Shion Yorigami’s involvement does not need to be discussed.

Tenshi Hinanawi appears skeptical, but does relent, “So, what? Should we help out as well or something? Wouldn’t that get Shion in even more trouble for sticking around?”

“Tenshi, I think we should,” the pestilence goddess comments. “That Hina lady seems to have been through a lot. For me it was a nice nap. Even if I don’t remember a week…”

Tenshi Hinanawi seems hesitant to argue back to Shion Yorigami. Their friendship was prior known information, however the celestial listening to any other person’s concerns is an unusual occurrence.

Note added under peoples.dir as part of ptlhitlist.txt

“If you are in agreement, there is much to be done. The four here will work to purify the area, Sanae Kochiya and Fujiwara no Mokou will begin investigation for the trial in four days time.”

This will be enough information to relate to Tanner Regis directly. Another log will need to be started should Sanae Kochiya or Fujiwara no Mokou find information of note.

>End current log

Current open log closing.
Please note that this log type is not allowed further editing or recording after closure. Continue to close? Y/N


Shit. Feels like I banged my head into a wall. A lot. And maybe my arm, too.

No, wait, my arm is probably worse. That dull yet sharp pain that spreads to every blood vessel around the wound. That kind of feeling sits there, telling me to remember what the fuck I did wrong to cause it. I should start working on that before it starts to really get pissy with me.

“Oh?” a subdued voice announces herself next to me.

The metallic ring of a curtain opening combined with sudden light scrapes my senses together, even causing me to flinch and raise my left arm as a blinder. Or rather, I flinch because I attempt to use my left arm. It’s easy to feel the whole thing wrapped up to a point that it can’t move.

I crack my eyes, first noticing the ceiling light obscured by a silhouette, then the woman’s round head protruding two long rabbit ears. Ah, this sounds familiar but not something I can immediately place.

She flicks on a light directly above the bed I’m in, this one thankfully not as blinding, and says, “I thought I heard you waking up. How are you? Can you speak?”

“Mm?” I blearily grumble in my stupor. “Yeah, I’m good. Why would I not speak?”

“We’ll come back to that. First, what do you remember?” the bunny girl asks, rolling a stool over to my bedside. Interesting that she’d have a rolling one here.

“Hey, try to focus, this is important for me to know,” she lightly scolds.

“Right,” I reply, parsing out what I can from earlier… today? Maybe today. “I was… in the misfortune storm, but I got shot at by the misfortune creature in it. And then I– no, we– left out of the barrier with Hina. At least, I’m pretty sure. It gets blurry around that point, was it just dark or something?”

“No, you made it out of the barrier and were even walking around before fainting,” the rabbit explains. “In fact, I was treating you at that point. Do you remember any of that?”

“No, sorry,” I answer, rocking my head in a pillow.

Thinking on that, this pillow is fairly soft, and this seems to be a proper cot rather than a futon on the ground. Where am I, exactly?

The rabbit senses my curiosity and speaks up, “Alright, let me introduce myself. I am Reisen Udongein Inaba. You have been brought to the Eientei clinical section. My master Eirin Yagokoro has already seen to you. Is there anything else confusing you?”

“Well, yeah, but…” I start before shuffling up in my bed. Inaba is kind enough to tilt the pillow up along the back wall for me. “I’d guess you know, but my name is Tanner Regis. A researcher from the human village.”

Inaba giggles, “’From the human village.’ That’s quite the stiff introduction. I guess master was right that you’re an outsider.”

“Foreigner, actually,” I correct.

“What does that mean?”

“I’m from a different continent, not the land of the rising sun.”


“Anyway, I’ve got a lot to ask about,” I return to topic. “I think I should prioritize my health first, though. How bad off am I?”

“Would you prefer if I said you can’t use your arm or do you want the hard answer?” Inaba jokes.

I give a… not slightly nervous laugh, responding, “I’m a big boy, you can tell me.”

Inaba clears her throat and answers, “Two months in a cast.”

I slowly nod, taking in the logistics of it, and comment, “You know, that’s shorter than I was expecting, but that’s probably really bad around here.”

“Since we’re accounting for my master’s medicines, yes. It wasn’t good… that’s for sure,” Inaba states with some trouble.

A moment passes in silence. I’m about to ask if something’s bugging the girl, but a noise breaks my tempo.

“Yawww…” a small yawn comes from on top of my lap. A black cat has been sitting there the whole time without my notice. “Are you two done, yet? It’s honestly amazing you didn’t get shot until now. You’ve been going around with nothing but politeness and words in Gensokyo of all places.”

I easily recognize this little scamp, replying, “Settle down, Chen. I’ve also got my smarts and sarcastic commentary. Did you carry me out here?”

“Wish I could answer no, but I’m sure Lady Ran wouldn’t like hearing that.”

“Wow,” Inaba reacts, “she’s like a whole different person when you’re awake.”

“Wait, what..? Not another word you alien fiend!” Chen threatens in her diminutive form.

Inaba slides next to me with a wily grin, whispering, “She didn’t know I saw, but she was pacing around a lot while you were asleep. I think she was worried.”

“Hey, I can hear you. Cat, remember?”

“Oh, no, a cat. I’m so terrified,” Inaba chuckles at Chen’s clear irritation.

“Hang, on, we’re getting off topic again…” I input. “What happened while I was… no, how long have I been out?”

Chen and Inaba look at each other awkwardly, neither choosing to answer me.

“What? What’s wrong?” I ask. Their reticence can’t be anything good.

“No, well…” Chen starts.

“It’s only been a few hours,” Inaba finishes.

I feel misled. I thought it would be something bad. “Isn’t that a good thing? It means I haven’t missed much,” I conclude.

“My master estimated that you should have been asleep throughout the night and most of tomorrow. My master is never wrong,” Inaba adds.

“Well, I mean…” I try to add some humorous comment, but fall short. This is something strange, obviously, and it’s happening to me. Or my body, I mean, but me. Even if it’s helping me, it’s… “This isn’t natural, huh?”

“I don’t think so,” Inaba confirms.

“We can worry about you being a squishy human when we’re not in a time crunch,” Chen blatantly ignores the issue. “Right now there’s a lot to do.”

“You say that as if being human should be an afterthought,” I argue.

Chen smirks as much as a cat possibly can when she says, “Alright. Then start thinking about it. I’ll let Hina know you’re fine with her getting sealed away by the tengu.”

“Wait what?”

“He didn’t remember,” Inaba notes.

[x] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.

[x] Should I maybe report this whole event to other powers in Gensokyo before the tengu do? I don’t know if they’ll go that far, but it would be better if I jump the gun before they even consider it.

[x] No, hang on. I really should be digging into the part where I’m abnormally healthy after getting so beat up.

I hope you like how I’m deciding to do Ran perspective. If you have any critique on it, let me know. It’s difficult to do the current style because I’m so used to Tanner’s rough and tumble style of smart guy speak.
Oh, and yes, sorry that the vote looks so similar to last week. I guess there wasn’t really a choice needed there, huh? I’ll be serious about diverging from here.
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Injecting firstvote.dll...

[x] No, hang on. I really should be digging into the part where I’m abnormally healthy after getting so beat up.
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[x] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.

I don't know enough about the political situation of Gensokyo to be confident about calling for the involvement of other authorities.
And investigation into our newfound resilience can always come later when we have more time.
I am looking forward to the rationale for the other options though.
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>Greatest Shikigami
Awwww, she does care!

Moving on, there is clearly something going on with Regis.
The signs have been there for a while, but I'm personally inclined to agree with Chen; we're on a time crunch right now, so we don't really have the opportunity to get into it.
Perhaps letting it pass for now could mean we lose the chance to investigate the phenomenon, but at least we'll be conscious of it going forwards.

The other choices are directly getting involved with the investigation somehow or informing the big players in Gensokyo.

To start, I don't really see much point to going to the big players because most of them should already know.
All the big incident fixers were present so let's sum up who's already abreast of the situation.
-The SDM
-The entirety of the Youkai Mountain
Who would that leave? The Human Village? The Buddhists and Taoists?
That is a comparatively small amount of people that's left out of the loop and they're all located relatively near to each other.
Minus the Taoists perhaps, but I doubt Regis can just enter Senkai.
Informing the Village and the Buddhists thus shouldn't take that much time, leaving us time to maybe do other things as well.
Maybe Byakuren will take a stand; having been sealed herself before.

The other option is direct investigation.
Logistically, this may be troublesome.
Regis is relatively okay now, whatever the reason, but traipsing right back into less-than-safe environs might not be the smartest choice.
There's also the fact of him being in hospital at the moment: the good doctor may not allow him to leave yet.
Putting those concerns aside, however, this is the most direct way to assist with the problem, if not the most practical.
I'm still inclined to, somewhat recklessly, directly assist because Hina doesn't deserve a fate like this.

I propose we put investigating the healing factor on the backburner and actually focus on the matter at hand: exonerating Hina.
As it's currently nighttime we can't really go knocking on doors in the state we're in, but Chen can assist us here.
If we write short and concise messages (telegram style?), we can have Chen deliver them to the village and buddhists (the two entities left that are both easily accessible and possibly still uninformed).
If we can't write, we can dictate it to Reisen or Chen instead, but I think having a message with our name on it would go down better considering the parties involved.
Any blanks in the story can be filled in by Chen herself.
The village elders and maybe Akyuu possibly won't be happy to see a youkai like Chen about the village at night, but at least Keine should be receptive.
This way we get the word out this same night, without overly taxing Regis.
Chen might not like being used as a messenger, but she'll probably relent if we ask nicely.
This leaves Regis free to stay at the hospital overnight for monitoring, which should appease the doctor.
This in turn might allow him to negotiate (temporary) leave with Eirin for the remaining days before the trial to go aid the investigation and/or meet with anybody who responded to the telegram with the intention to help.
I doubt the village would involve itself with this, but as I said before the buddhists might. This is just a pure guess, however.

Finally, this is mostly just my guilty conscience speaking, but we should check in with Nitori if she's still at Eientei. She was clearly well enough to yell at Reisen to come assist on the mountain, so she may or may not still be here.
Also, Hina is her friend so we should inform her of the situation. Maybe she can help as well?

[X] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.
-[X] Stay the night at the hospital and try to negotiate (temporary) leave with the doctor in the morrow.
-[X] Get Chen to deliver messages to the human village (Keine, Akyuu, Elders) and the buddhist temple to inform both of the situation.
-[X] Check in with Nitori to apologise for getting her into this mess and to inform her of the situation, if she's still at Eientei.

This extra time in hospital might allow for more tests and/or insight on Regis' condition, but that'd just be a lucky bonus.

If I forgot a power that's relatively accessible or if I made an error in my logic, please feel free to point it out.
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[X] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.
-[X] Stay the night at the hospital and try to negotiate (temporary) leave with the doctor in the morrow.
-[X] Get Chen to deliver messages to the human village (Keine, Akyuu, Elders) and the buddhist temple to inform both of the situation.
-[X] Check in with Nitori to apologise for getting her into this mess and to inform her of the situation, if she's still at Eientei.

I do like the idea of sending a letter to Keine letting her know what's goin' on considering her grievances from the last time.
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[X] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.
-[X] Stay the night at the hospital and try to negotiate (temporary) leave with the doctor in the morrow.
-[X] Get Chen to deliver messages to the human village (Keine, Akyuu, Elders), the buddhists, and the taoists to inform them of the situation.
-[X] Check in with Nitori to apologise for getting her into this mess and to inform her of the situation, if she's still at Eientei.

I edited the 3rd option to include the Taoists because they have a lot of experience with being sealed for thousands of years.
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>>44239 here

After thinking it over a bit I realise a far simpler way to contact the village is to only send a message to Keine.
This way she can inform all the important people in the village herself the next day.
Sure, they won't hear the news right this night, but everyone in the village should be far more receptive to hearing it from Keine.
It's also much less work by cutting down the amount of writing and stops Chen has to make.

Not gonna change my vote because that'd just confuse things, so I'll leave it to Regis (ie. Poignant) to decide on the most logical course if this choice happens to win.

Part of the reason I didn't include the taoists besides the logistical difficulties involved with them being located in their Senkai is that I don't believe we've ever even had contact before.
Our name obviously has ties to the village and we've already built some rapport with the buddhists, but it'd be a bit strange to send the taoists a message out of the blue even if we could get it to them.
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>>44241 here

Ran and Chen probably knows some ways to enter Senkai, but it likely won't matter in the end. If the message spreads far and wide across the Human Village, the Taoists will hear about it eventually.
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[X] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.
-[X] Stay the night at the hospital and try to negotiate (temporary) leave with the doctor in the morrow.
-[X] Get Chen to deliver messages to the human village (Keine, Akyuu, Elders) and the buddhist temple to inform both of the situation.
-[X] Check in with Nitori to apologise for getting her into this mess and to inform her of the situation, if she's still at Eientei.

Man I wish I was as good at problem solving as some of you guys seem to be da hell?
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[X] Let’s help stop that sealing, then! Albeit I might be tied down to my bed.
-[X] Stay the night at the hospital and try to negotiate (temporary) leave with the doctor in the morrow.
-[X] Get Chen to deliver messages to the human village (Keine, Akyuu, Elders) and the buddhist temple to inform both of the situation.
-[X] Check in with Nitori to apologise for getting her into this mess and to inform her of the situation, if she's still at Eientei

“Well obviously I wouldn’t remember. This is something from after we jumped out of the barrier, isn’t it?” I argue.

“Ah, yes. That’s true,” Inaba realizes the gap in her train of thought.

The two give me some cliff notes on what’s happening. The tengu being a bunch of asshats, Yasaka being part of the judge panel, and for some reason Sanae being the one designated as the defense.

Realistically, there’s no way this trial ends well, right? This whole thing sounds like the tengu griping over something out of their control, and then them trying to drag down the parties involved to make themselves look better to the rest of Gensokyo. Is there a deeper meaning to their reaction? It would be so shallow if that’s really all there is to it, but I also can’t discount the politics being like this.

How exactly does Sanae plan on scratching together something resembling a case in four days? And what will be the angle that the tengu try to pull as prosecution? Too many questions.

Before anything, I need to see if Inaba here is willing to let me run around outside the premises. I can’t gather much information sitting by here.

“Inaba,” I address the good nurse. She tilts her head for me to continue. “May I leave Eientei to rejoin my group on the mountain?”

“Oh,” she gasps, “no! Obviously you need to rest here and recover!”

“Come on, it should be fine,” the cat on my lap rebukes. “He’s got a dedicated escort right here.”

“That’s not the issue. He’s only just been patched up, so the injury is probably going to flare up again while he’s recovering. If he’s not here for me to administer some of Master’s medicine it could be bad,” the rabbit explains.

“Hold on, what do you mean flare up?” I ask with some concern.

“You’re regenerating some of your body using Master’s medicines, but that doesn’t mean no pain is involved. If I had to explain it… maybe think of trying to build a bridge from one side to the other. Master knows how to make your body go from one side to the other without anything under the ‘bridge’ as it goes up, but at the same time your ‘bridge’ might want to collapse midway because nothing is supporting it. That’s the pain that you’d feel.”

“That makes as much sense as it doesn’t…” I complain.

“I hear that a lot,” Inaba concedes.

“I don’t think I see the issue, though. If I’m pain, I just come right back, don’t I?” I point out.

“Well… ehhh… kind of, but also not really,” she uncertainly states. “I can’t, under good conscience, let you leave in case you’d get hurt again because of the same injury. Not to mention, I can’t allow you to leave if you’re fine with getting hurt intentionally.”

“So you’re saying I’m on bed arrest for my own good,” I paraphrase.

“Well, I’m not that good at explaining things, but if that’s what you want to think of it as, I can’t stop you,” she parses her words while twiddling her fingers.

“But you will stop me from leaving?”

She loses some of her lameness when she says, “Undeniably. And I wouldn’t lose to this cat, either, if it means Master’s good name is on the line.”

“Hey, don’t look at me, I never said anything about fighting you, rabbit,” Chen defers attention from herself.

I stay silent for a moment or two, considering if I’m okay with this. While I want to be of direct help for Hina alongside the others still there, I also can’t be a bastard and have Inaba on my ass while doing so.

“… fine,” I relent. “I’ll stay here for the time being, but you’ll have to kill me if you want me to sit still while I’m here.”

“Ha!” a largely muffled snort comes from nearby. I look at Inaba for some explanation. She gets up to reel back more of the curtain from my bed. I see that I’m in a room with other curtained beds around it, a wooden hospital center of sorts. She continues over to another of the curtains and slides the covers out of the way.

A blue haired mass of bandages looks over. Even in a white gown and hair let down I can tell that it’s Nitori. Not because I know her, but because obviously she’d be the only person in reason to have her entire head bandaged up.

“He can see you,” Inaba tells the clump of wrappings.

“Mm. Yo!” the mummy greets, most of the sound muffled.

“Nitori..? Right, I can’t be surprised, Chen already brought you here earlier,” I remember. “How are you doing, I guess I should ask?”

Instead of even attempting to answer the question, Nitori points over to the rabbit nurse to give explanation. Inaba is looking towards me, though, so I point out the gesture for her.

“Ah! Right. Nitori is doing alright, but much of her face needs reconstitution. The bleeding was quick to subside but the majority of her face is still unwell. Her eyes will also take some time to regenerate. Thankfully, the brain damage was minimal, so it won’t take anywhere near as long to heal,” the nurse lists off.

“Youkai can get brain trauma?” I ask out of curiosity.

Inaba looks back, somewhat dumbfounded, and replies, “Yeah, why wouldn’t they? Unlike humans they can heal it off, but they can still get hurt physically like that.”

I shake my head, sarcastically commenting, “Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t people whose bodies are made through some spiritual magical nonsense not have brains?”

Inaba harrumphs, but doesn’t further argue my point.

I continue to prod Nitori, “So are you mad about getting hurt at all? I know you were dragged into this and all.”

I’m worried that Nitori doesn’t hear me, but am proven wrong when she swats away the idea. This is even more surprising given Nitori’s usual attitude with me. I thought she’d take the whole thing personally even though it was by chance. I won’t look that gift horse in the mouth, though.

It’s too bad that she’s been so injured. It would have been a great help if she worked with me or Sanae for that trial. She isn’t moving around too much when literally missing eyes, though. A fair bit utilitarian of me, but I need to consider options I have to support the cause when I’m anchored down to a hospital.

On that line of thought, I look over to Inaba and ask, “Do you have pen and paper that I can use?”

The nurse thinks on the question before nodding and leaving the room. I’m thankful that I don’t have to make some argumentative point for every request in here. It was starting to feel like she wouldn’t even let me out of this bed.

“What do you need writing stuffs for?” Chen questions, relaxing back onto my lap in a curl.

I naturally go to pet her head, taking care to avoid an ear piercing. She mumbles in a little agitation at first, but decides to ignore it when I slow down.

“It’s going to be important that we have as much information as possible on hand,” I respond. “That includes observations from each person that was inside the barrier. I think it’s obvious enough to say that my perspective was different from Sanae and Mokou’s.”

“Why would that be obvious to me?” Chen retorts. “It’s not like I was there. Is that really gonna help in some dumb court trial, anyway?”

I consider her point and admit, “Maybe… maybe not. There’s no way to tell. Either way, I still have a job that I’m supposed to do, so coming to a better understanding of whatever this was would be good.”

“Eh, whatever you say,” Chen dismisses.

After waiting some time I notice that my belongings are set onto a side table to my left outside of the curtain. Not my backpack, sadly. I move over to grab the watch on top, but a sharp stab from my shoulder reminds me to not try anything unnecessary. I leave it be and continue waiting for Inaba to return with some writing utensils.

As I’m sitting around, another line of thought starts to take over. Passive at first, but domineering after being left to fester.

Politics. The tengu, or even just all of Gensokyo, don’t seem to be immune to nonsense power struggles. People always trying to get a hand up on other people. I saw it with the yamawaro and Yakumo, but this is different.

Meaningless efforts like this never leave anyone happy. It’s an idiotic play to throw someone’s name under the bus, and anyone even tangentially related. In a world where people are literally able to be made of magic that sciences can’t explain, I guess this is just something of a disappointment.

But that’s probably just me projecting this place as a damn utopia because the word fantasy was strapped on at some point. Maybe I’d just hoped that the more mundane issues of the world I came from wouldn’t be so present.

Oh well…

If the tengu are gonna play some big reactive undermining scheme using Hina, then I should use my position in the sidelines to alleviate the problem. So, what will bureaucrats try to do first when things happen?

I’m sure they have some kind of investigation team giving Sanae hell, but that isn’t all they’d do. Surely they’d try to do anything that could give them even a small advantage. But what could that be?

What is it in the real world? Something like… convincing public opinion?

Wholly mundane and sounds ridiculous, especially for this setting where the various factions living so close together outright despise each other. But you can never underestimate the mob mentality. Whether it be pressuring a judge’s decision or swaying their opinion before proceedings, the ‘common knowledge’ of something can change how a ruling plays out.

Is the idea worthwhile enough to invest incredible amounts of time and resources into? Hell no, just make a solid case. In an isolated environment such a scenario should be laughed off. It can help take that minimal advantage off the table for the other side, though. We’re talking about Hina, and if you spin her description correctly, she’s the equivalent of a dirty bomb…

“You alright?” Chen disrupts my thoughts.

She’s looking up to me, my hand clenched and shifting a small tuft of her hair out of place.

I force myself to relax, and respond, “Yes, it’s nothing.”

My thoughts really are just as bad. It’s a wonder I never tried to get into politics if all I’m thinking about is ways to take advantage of a situation. Even if I’m trying to help who I consider the victim this time, I can’t always be so sure about that being the case. That should be some kind of wisdom that comes with age. Should be.

Maybe Ran can kick my ass over making baseless assumptions or jumping to conclusions. She loves doing that, after all.

Inaba slides the door open to the room, but no tools or materials in hand. She walks over and before I have the chance to ask her where the tools are, she asks, “Are you capable of standing? I’ve set up another room with what you’ve asked for. If you can’t walk there, even assisted, then you shouldn’t be working.”

She states this with a sort of exasperation that gets me curious. That is until she glances over at Nitori, where I can feel an amusing story must have happened.

“Hmph,” I scoff, “I’m not decrepit, you know. It’s an arm injury, so I can at least walk on my own.”

Inaba seems nonplussed by my moxie. I pick up Chen from her comfortable home and place her on the ground, then move from my bed. I can tell my legs are rather hollow feeling before I collapse. My shoulder despises this greatly. After many a pained grunt and curse, Inaba sighs and supports me to a hunched stand.

“Everybody thinks they’re invincible, huh?” she comments.

“Yeah, sorry, sorry,” I remark, more frustrated with my own predicament than her indifference.

I need to lean into her, and every step reminds the wound that it’s supposed to hurt like hell, but I can in fact move around with enough effort. Here I was talking big about getting out by the morning.

She walks me over to the room next door, Chen following along underfoot. We enter a large room floored with tatami mats and hosting low tables along the length of it. I can already tell this is supposed to be a meal room much like what I saw in the Buddhist temple, but I can’t really say why they’d have this, considering their small group of residents. The cushions for seats also outnumber the tables by a good margin.

“This room is for the Youkai rabbits to eat,” Inaba explains as if hearing my thoughts. “For now, please use this table as a workspace, and I’ll let the troublemakers know to not clear it off when they come by.”

With Inaba’s help, I settle down at a table with some ink, a pen, and a few sheets of blank paper. Chen mounts a table next to mine, spectating my troubles getting seated while also not hurting myself.

“Thank you, Inaba,” I say.

“Please just call me Reisen, Inaba is way too awkward,” Reisen requests.

I puff a small, humored snort, and reply, “Yeah, I thought so, too. Thank you, Reisen.”

Reisen waits for me to check that I have what I need before leaving the room. Chen leans in, anticipating what I might start writing, but before I pick up a quill and begin to scratch text to paper, I turn to her, and ask, “May I request something of you, Chen? A task, if you want to call it that.”

“Oh?” Chen answers, prompting me to continue.

“I want to make a sort of report to the village and the Buddhists that you’ll deliver in my place. Are you alright with doing that for me?”

“My, I didn’t realize you–“

“Were your master. Yeah, yeah. Quip with me all you want, but I’m being serious. Besides, I’m asking you, not ordering you.”

Chen eyes me down, miffed that I’m not playing along with her banter right now. The glare hardly phases me at this point. I know that a stern look from some people is only for show, and that goes for both the real world and Gensokyo. Some seconds pass that Chen and I are just staring each other down, a rather comical looking scene from an outside perspective, I’m sure.

When I think she’s going to give up, she remains stalwart, tired of me winning arguments with her in the same way again and again. We’re past the point of no return, whoever talks first loses.

After what feels like ten minutes, I finally cave and gripe, “Fine! Do I need to tell Ran that you’re being a little miscreant and not helping an injured man with important errands?”

“Aww, you’re going to tattle on me? Tattle on me to my mama?” Chen mocks. She breaks into a mad chuckle at her own joke.

I grumble like a senile bastard, and relent, “Oh just shut up.” I follow up, clearing of my throat to grab her attention, and calmly say, “Chen, could you please help me with something I think is important to do?”

She hops from her table onto the neighboring seat cushion, shifting to her human form and wiles, “There’s that magic word. Something even I know is good to use. It’s nice to hear it from you, even better since it’s for me!”

“Please go easy on me…” I plead, realizing she’s going to sit here the entire time that I’m writing my report.

[Please wait warmly for continuation…]

Another early update! Have I found a rhythm? No, of course not. I’m just really good at filling space with random thoughts. With that in mind, no vote for this week. I may or may not have enough material for a proper length update next week, but it was a bit too long to contain here. Depends on how much I want to swing my hamfisted plot devices around.
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Well, I suppose getting out in the morning was too hopeful.
No matter. All in all this was a great result.

We've decided to focus on the path most likely to produce results: focusing on the facts and making a strong case rather than trying to sway public opinion.
Far more in line with Regis' strengths than the alternative in my opinion.
We're also set to get the message out to two major parties we already have ties with.

Keine will headbutt us for almost losing an arm, but at least we learned from last time and kept her informed in case we couldn't return.
Never wanna upset her like that again. (Maybe have a private message/letter for her to go with the report?)

It's a shame about Nitori, but it can't be helped and it's good she's basically doing fine aside from the whole parts missing thing.
I doubted that she would have taken what happened personally anyway, but it's good we cleared that up now.
Since she's basically stuck to her bed like us, depending on how well she's feeling at the time we could bounce ideas off of her while we work.
She's a smart cookie so it could prove to be valuable insight provided the whole brain damage thing isn't too bad, but she seems to be well enough to snark at least.
Even failing that we have the perfect character witness for Hina, she's her close friend after all.
Also, since we can't really leave and haven't really had the chance to properly speak to Hina at all yet, we can at least get some more info about her from Nitori.
A valuable, credible and intellectual source.
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I just binged this entire thing, and its fucking good
Very nice story would read again, i hope you can finish it ponignant
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I thank you for the kind words! Out of curiosity, did you start from the lectures or the story proper? I've been working off of keeping the story basically 'drafted' with beats from the lecture and wanted to know if that sounds about right.
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Neat coincidence -- im in the same boat
Great ride so far! Tanner's perspective as an older lad is refreshing

I'd have to read em side by side to tell, since it's not fresh in my mind any more.
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Not that guy, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this as well.

I'm actually the guy who mentioned a while ago that he was saving reading the lectures for when they come up in the story.
I have to say it's been pretty great reading back and seeing some of those beats that happened in the story get mentioned in their respective lecture.

For example: the knife Regis bought from the Yamawaro.
Getting it when shopping got voted in was a very organic way to incorporate it.

I'm looking forward to see what details get put into the Hina lecture.
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I start drafting out a formal letter to the village as a whole, but notice an alternative. There’s no reason to have Chen run around spooking some old men in the middle of the night, Keine will be able to do that just fine if she wants to. I can make a letter to Keine as the village representative and double up with a quick update for her on where I am. I’m sure she’s worried to death again since I’m out.

I write out my report as carefully as I can. Writing on paper means there’s little room for error unless I want to start over. And that’s even more annoying with how I need to choose my wording carefully. I’m trying to make a report that won’t put Hina in the burner, but also not omit too much information that could undermine myself later. The last thing we want is for the village to directly be involved in a pseudo-legal matter on ecological safety. The tengu are going to make this messy enough as is with their political stunt.

Finishing up the main report, I check it over a few times, Chen also nodding along with what I’ve written. After letting the ink dry for a few minutes I flip over the scroll paper. Chen questions what I’m doing until I put more word to paper. I’m writing an informal letter to Keine, one that lets her know that I’ve been hospitalized.

“You sure you want to add in the part where you’re hurt?” Chen comments as I’m going.

I stop writing to not screw up the words and respond, “You should have seen her last time. She was a wreck after I’d been out a week. Nobody ended up telling her that I was fine. She was pissed off enough to scare Ran into submission. So even if she’s mad, she’ll know this time.”

“Hmph. Drama queen,” Chen grunts, but without the bluster I usually hear in her taunts.

I continue making headway through my writing. I’m not as careful on this side, instead hoping to be genuine in my words. Get across that I’m not too concerned with my injury, but I do understand how bad it is.

I sign off the letter and whip out another page to copy the formal report. This one will go to the Buddhist temple, but it’s not going to need much changing since I made the first one agnostic to the receiving group.

I finish up the second one in record time and hand both pages to Chen. She takes the two letters and folds them for me in a specific style, like what I might see on Akyuu’s desk. Seems there’s some etiquette in her yet.

She’s been paying close attention to what I’ve written, so I don’t need to tell her who each letter is going to. Without another word she stands up and picks a door on the other side of the room to leave. She’s greeted by the outside air and flies off into the night posthaste.

Now there’s only one problem... the person attending me has just left, and I still don’t have the energy to stand and walk on my own.

My bed is next door, not here in a serving hall.

Guess I’ll have to do this the hard way…

I shuffle my way along the ground, really feeling the blunder I’d made as I get back to the next room over. I should say I’m disappointed in myself for not thinking this through, but I’ll just lie and say I’ve been on more important ideas for the time being. I get back over to my cot, and barely clamber back on top of it. My fatigue from this idiotic episode sinks in quickly, the sweat not helping with my general discomfort.

My mind attempts to keep itself active with thoughts of what to do next, but there’s no stopping the sandman this time…

I awake to some conversation near me, a voice I recognize and one I don’t. I can place the first as Reisen’s, but the second voice is beyond me. I crack open my eyes to the rabbit and a fairly tall white haired woman in a red and blue checkered dress at the foot of my bed.

“Oh, he’s awake again!” Reisen exclaims. She shuffles over to me from the curtain, checking parts of my body for… anything abnormal, I guess? “Mr. Regis, are you doing fine this morning?”

I grumble in my gravelly, just woken up voice, “Mm. Think so…”

“My…” the white haired woman utters with a tap at her cheek. “Then my calculations were off.”

Reisen looks to her, and rationalizes, “A different sleeping pattern couldn’t mean you were wrong, could it Master?”

The woman, Reisen’s master, sits in thought, pondering… not what Reisen said. I think she’s trying to go over calculations mentally. Her hand goes from an interested tapping at her cheek into a statuesque hold of contemplation.

“Sadly, it does. The level of injury must match the resting period, especially after the rejuvenating mixture is administered,” she reaffirms.

Just as Reisen implied, but I’ve got no grasp of the implications here. I interrupt their conversation, “Sorry, I’m still lost here. Reisen explained this last night, but I didn’t get the full scope. Would you be able to explain to a guy not into medicines… Dr..?”

“Yagokoro, the only resident in Gensokyo that title may apply to,” she muses. “As for your question, there’s not much you’d be able to understand, even should I attempt to explain. Do not fret over it, it is simply beyond human understanding.”

“Oh, no, I get it. Some subjects are hard to explain to the uninitiated. You get the same thing with higher level mathematics,” I console her of headaches I imagine she’s had before me.

Dr. Yagokoro chuckles, “A charmer, are you? But, I’m always happy to see someone… brighter… than the average villager.”

“Don’t say that in front of Keine. But, really,” I insist, “what’s the problem that you’re having?”

Dr. Yagokoro picks up a clipboard at the foot of my bed. A damages sheet, I’m sure, but one with a surprising number of lines from what I’m used to seeing. She takes some time to study it and mull over her thoughts before giving me an answer. Reisen and I wait with bated breaths, not sure what to expect from this.

“I’m not sure,” Yagokoro answers.

“What?” Reisen responds first. Her ears go to a pencil straightness out of surprise.

“I mean that whatever afflicts this man is an unknown variable to me,” she elaborates.

“Should I be worried, then?” I ask. I knew this part already, but hearing her confirm it just seats it further in my mind to worry about.

“That’s not a judgment for me to make. Health-wise you are in perfect condition for full recovery in under a week. I can conclude that what effects you is magical in nature. Something more obscure than I would know offhandedly.”

She sets down the clipboard and informs Reisen that I am allowed to leave as soon as I’m able to walk unassisted again. Reisen’s oddified by the statement, but doesn’t question her master’s orders. Yagokoro walks out of the room, very consternated by the major change on my timescale.

I don’t care to stay in the hospital for too long, anyway, so I’d prefer if I can recover fast. Or, maybe… there’s no way I already am, right?

Reisen stares blankly in the direction her master left from. When she looks back I’ve already shifted in my bed, getting my legs out of the covers I don’t remember putting on, and scooting out of the bed. I lift off from my ass, and am met with a bastard of a head rush.

Reisen catches me, and helps me take a few steps. I start to move around on my own as she lets go. Turns out, my anemia is already gone. Which would mean that I recovered my entire body’s worth of blood overnight.

How ‘bout that?

Reisen looks just as surprised as I probably do. I’m no medic, but yeah, no. That’s not supposed to happen. Whatever’s got me, it’s effective, if nothing else.

“I should go inform Master,” Reisen states after ensuring that I’m stable. She dashes out of the room, and quickly retrieves Dr. Yagokoro.

Yagokoro steps into the room and inspects me. It doesn’t take long for her to come to some conclusion and sigh, “Yes, I had a feeling this would be the case. As I instructed, you’re free to go, but check back in daily for me to monitor you. I do not enjoy when something is left to vex me.”

She just as quickly leaves the room once more, Reisen pursuing her with questions. I won’t bother asking anything else of the doctor, as she seems more frustrated than anyone by this development.

Before I gather up my things, I check Nitori’s cot. She’s asleep, but it seems a guest has taken the seat next to her. Takane’s come by to check up on her, passing out at some point as well. Since they’re both asleep, I leave the sisters be and make my way out.

While it’s easy enough to find doors outside, I forgot to ask anyone what direction the proper exit is in, so I end up wandering for a while. I eventually find some kind of entrance gate, and spot someone I was expecting walking up to the clinic.

“Hey, Keine,” I call out to her in the distance. You can see her feather topped hat flap as she perks up.

She jogs up to me and inspects my cast, mumbling, “Huh? But I thought it was bad? What?”

“No, Keine,” I try to calm her down. “I’m fine, see?”

“But… Chen said you couldn’t even walk last night. How?” her unpointed questions continue. The mix of worry and confusion is very clear to see, and I don’t want to add more…

“Dr. Yagokoro treated me, see?” I put a hand to her shoulder and lie. I’m not entirely certain why I’m playing this off right now, but here I am. If it at least calms her down, then that would be enough for me. I can always explain later if it comes up.

“But that can’t…” she trails off and sighs. “Okay, okay. You’re fine.”

Her shoulder relaxes considerably, I didn’t even realize how stiff it was until then. She doesn’t follow up with anything, so I start to direct the conversation.

“I’m happy that you’d come to see me,” I comment.

“Yes, yes. Obviously I’d come to check up on you. I was worried that you were wandering out of the clinic to continue working without permission,” she somewhat nags, somewhat bemoans with a rub at her temple.

“Well, I mean… I have permission.”

“Ha ha,” she monotones. “What a good joke that is. Should I tie you down to a bed after all?”

“Please don’t,” I whimper. “And, sorry to be very business right now, but you did read my whole letter, right?”

“The elders have been informed. None of them seemed to take any particular stance for or against the matter. I couldn’t tell you if it was from apathy or uncertainty, though. It could have been that they were too tired to think it over,” Keine recounts.

“Either works out in our favor, really,” I reply.

Keine grows a weary face and asks, “In ‘our’ favor? You’re going right back out, aren’t you? Whatever happened to not wanting to do this?”

“Ah, well, that is…” I stumble my words. “I’ve still got stuff to do..?”

“And you need an escort, don’t you?” she says shaking her head, keeping a step ahead of me.

“Are you offering?” I only half joke. It also doesn’t come out in the most confident tone, but I’ll act like it did.

Keine slides away from my hand, walking away responding, “Not particularly. That hospital bed is calling for you more and more, though.”

“You wound me,” I joke, getting in line behind her.

I check the time. 7:05AM. Keine came here first thing in the morning after getting ready. Looks like I was on the money with sending that letter to her.

What comes now can be a number of things. First, I’ll need to double check my things in case anything is missing, though I doubt that. By the time that’s done and I can review the notes on Hina, hopefully someone will have come by to grab me. Wouldn’t that be just perfect, though?

If I have my information and guesses right, Ran is working on purifying the area, Sanae is busy with investigation, and Mokou is supporting Sanae. One of them coming by would be very unlike–

“Is that Mokou?” Keine interrupts my thoughts.

I glance around her up the trail of bamboo forestry now packing us in. Sure as hell, that’s one white haired girl calmly wandering around.

“I thought she was helping Sanae?” I question no one.

“Oh, so then she was helping you out?” Keine notes, continuing forward. “You know, there’s a few ways to get her to talk.”

“Oh?” I mouth, curious where Keine is going with this.

“Yes, one way is to ask her to talk. She’s very straightforward, you know,” Keine chuckles to herself over my deadpanned reaction.

“Well ain’t you in a good mood?” Mokou states on approach. She then spots me and continues, “And you… are already out? Hm?”

“’Already?’” Keine questions. I immediately signal from behind Keine for Mokou to cut her chatter in a panic.

To my gratitude, and surprise, she shifts gears and tries to play it off with, “Uh, yeah. I guess it was better than it looked…”

“And how might that be?” Keine narrows her query down.

“Uh…” Mokou tries to think it through. I’ll admit, she’s not bad at being coy, acting like she’s thinking and everything. I raise my hand with a five. She raises a finger against her opposite shoulder and continues, “It was about the size of a five yen coin. Yeah, a hole clean through his shoulder. We’ve all been getting so used to bash wounds that I thought it was worse.”

“Uh huh,” Keine, not really accepts, but allows for now. “Well, Tanner. I believe you have an escort, now. How long until I expect you back in the heart of this forest?”

[x] Try to see if Hina’s house is safe enough to visit and interview the woman herself, as unfortunate a time it may be. And no, that’s not any form of pun.

[x] Check in on Sanae’s progress of investigation. Last time I let her do her own thing she beat up and kidnapped a celestial.

[x] I’ve got time available, let’s go with something else. (write-in)

Well, got something here. Not too much to discuss here specifically. Instead, I’d like to thank the couple guys that plopped in since my last post. I do try to keep details oriented safely, but at some point I may need to find a way to better organize all of the little nuances I fit in. (Kisu who?)
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Well, if our affliction has even the Sage of the Moon stumped, we're absolutely not gonna find the answer by ourselves.
Since it's confirmed to be magical in nature, I believe we should attempt to make contact with Patchouli about it once all this hubbub has died down.
She's probably the most studied mage in Gensokyo at present, but entering the SDM even as a formal guest might pose some risk.

Anyway, let's leave that matter aside for later and focus on the task at hand.
Two obvious ways to go from here, barring any write-ins.

The first is going to interview Hina.
Unfortunate timing, perhaps, but since she's at the center of the matter interviewing might help with the case.
However, she's already mentioned that she does not quite know what happened, so that line of questioning might be a dud.
We could just go for our lecture interview now, but that feels insensitive to put it mildly.

Assisting Sanae seems like the logical course, we're more or less fit to work and leaving the miracle ditz in charge of a legal defense case unsupervised seems unwise.
For that matter, what's Mokou doing back here anyway?
Did she just ditch Sanae first thing she could?
Putting that aside, if we head to Sanae we can give our testimony on the matter, since we were witnesses to everything ourselves.

A possible third option would be to check up with the Buddhists.
We haven't had a response from them, understandably so as it's only been some hours, if they even feel inclined to do so at all.
While an option, I believe this is best left for either later in the day or tomorrow, so they have time to mull over their stance on the matter.

My vote goes towards helping Sanae now.
We're a key witness and we can help fill in the gaps in her investigation.
If she hasn't heard Hina's account yet we can go with Sanae to get it from her, but since Hina's her "client" of sorts that'd be pretty irresponsible of her if she hasn't.
For that matter, maybe we think of angles of investigation she hasn't thought of yet.

[X] Check in on Sanae’s progress of investigation. Last time I let her do her own thing she beat up and kidnapped a celestial.

I get that Regis did it to calm Keine down, but to lie about his injuries to her first thing feels a little disingenuous of him considering their make-up talk last time.
I also understand that she probably would just tie him down to a bed if she knew he almost lost an arm only yesterday, so immediately coming clean about it isn't practical.
But rather than not mentioning it unless it comes up, he should instead give her the whole truth the first time there's a moment of rest after everything has been sorted. On his own initiative.
Perhaps the night after the trial at home?
Well, it's entirely possible she's already seen through him, but it's the intent that matters here.
>How long until I expect you back in the heart of this forest?
This sounds like a jab saying that she's expecting him to get himself nearly killed again. She's probably correct.
Gotta show that Regis is back in (sort of) top form by firing back with a joking "I'll be back in hospital by tomorrow... because the doctor wants me back for monitoring," or something to that effect.
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[X] Check in on Sanae’s progress of investigation. Last time I let her do her own thing she beat up and kidnapped a celestial.

Was it ever discovered how Hina and Shion ended up in such a state?
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I'd say finding that out would be the top priority of the defense.
But as it stands I believe it hasn't yet. As far as Regis knows anyway.
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[X] Check in on Sanae’s progress of investigation. Last time I let her do her own thing she beat up and kidnapped a celestial.

The healing factor is concerning.
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It's also really convenient.

I'd assume that Tanner's turning into some kind of youkai, because youkai are known to be more resilient than the average human villager, but he healed even faster than Nitori.

Maybe Yukari's fiddling around with the boundary of life and death around Tanner and that's why she's MIA and Tanner's still alive. Maybe someone slipped a few drops of Hourai Elixir in Tanner's drink at a bar at some point. At this point it's all speculation.
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>Maybe Yukari's fiddling around with the boundary of life and death around Tanner
This was honestly my first thought, which says a lot about the state of my guesswork lol.
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My take on it is that Sanae saw us flailing around with a really bad wound, worried herself sick and actually Magical Girl ★ Miracle Sanae Kyun Kyun healed us to full health
only miracles would stump Eirin (considering who she is) without this being some really terrible foreshadowing in my opinion
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new game, new ran
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As you all may expect, I am currently preoccupied in my writing endeavors. One could only guess as to why.
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[X] Check in on Sanae’s progress of investigation. Last time I let her do her own thing she beat up and kidnapped a celestial.

I respond in kind to Keine’s jab, “Depends on what the great living goddess herself is up to right now. Can’t let her run around beating people up, now can I?”

Keine scoffs as I maneuver next to Mokou, “Maybe you’re getting ahead of yourself? Have you stopped to consider that one? Even in top shape, you’re not at rights to make that argument.”

“Pfft, nahhh,” I mouth whimsically. “We’ve been over this: I’m invincible and the world revolves around me. I hope to be back for dinner. Seriously this time.”

Keine takes a second to interpret how much I seriously believe my own words, but gives up with a puff and a smirk, choosing to instead walk back to the village. Mokou stares to make sure she’s well out of range before speaking up.

“Can’t say I’ve ever seen Keine in a marital spat,” she remarks. I whack her arm for the comment. “What?! I don’t think there’s any other way you could see that!”

“Yeah, maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s called for,” I argue. “We understand that it might look odd. I could care less, though. We’ll figure out what we want ourselves.”

“That’s cute and all, but it sounds like you’ve already decided,” Mokou snides.

“Fuck off,” I reply in defeat. “Back on topic, what is Sanae up to? Why are you here and not with her?”

“Cool it down. Sanae went to follow up on a lead and I’m here to check up on you.”

I give her a raised eyebrow to the explanation and she seems to understand how flippant it sounds outside of her own context.

She raises a defensive finger and continues, “The furball asked me to. You do remember that you had your arm hanging by a tendon, right? That’s the kinda nonsense that I would take out of a fight. Not something for a regular human. I’m no Eirin, but you got up way too fast.”

“Yes, yes, I know what you’re saying. It’s weird right now. I don’t know. I’ll tell Keine later. Right now we’re in a bit of a time crunch, aren’t we?”

Mokou just stares at me for a spell, taken aback by my outright callously casual attitude.

“Hmph,” she snorts, getting comfortable against a bamboo stalk, “guess she talks about you so much for a reason. That attitude would piss off a lot of people, which is a good thing in Gensokyo.”

I trail my eyes upward and exasperate, “I’m flattered. Can we get on topic now?”

“Sure thing, killjoy,” she jokes. “Sanae wanted to find Shion’s sister. I’ve met both before myself, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they cooked up something this stupid for basically nothing.”

I think on the logic for a moment: loose, but maybe there’s something to it. Or, at least, it’s better than nothing…

I remember one important question, though. “Where do you even find said sister?” I ask.

Several hours and many questions in the village later brings Mokou and I to the front of a quaint little bar in the village. Funny enough, it’s one I personally frequent. Well… one of five, but that’s besides the point.

The owner of this one decided it would be cute to use some western saloon doors. While fun for the aesthetic feel, it’s less quaint when you can see magic blistering around inside because of it. Mokou and I stare on in… I wish I could say disbelief, but it’s entirely believable, huh? It’s a wonder that the bullets aren’t flying out of the roof, or the walls, or the actual windows.

“After you,” I gesture to Mokou.

She scrunches her face, looking for a good argument, but comes up short, groaning, “Shit, fine.”

She screws her face into a false battle fervor and kicks open the doors on their hinges, walking into the middle of the barrage. I sneak in and stay close to the walls, observing the scene.

“Alright, you two idiots! You’re gonna quit fighting right damn now!” Mokou shouts throughout the room.

Sanae, at one end, has taken an assault against a fashion criminal, it seems. The girl on the other end is wearing an assortment of gaudy colors and jewels, turning herself into the most visible thing in the room. That’s even considering the fact that the magic flying around consists of frogs, snakes, and coins.

What is with these random objects being used for magic? First I’ve seen of it, I’m pretty sure.

Mokou has added to the madness by placing herself directly in the center lane and attempting to block all of the projectiles, but she seems to be doing so with her face just as much as her magic. The other two don’t care to stop for her sake.

I sneak under some of the thick wooden tables that canopy against the barrage, crawling slowly by one arm, and make it to the bar proper while the combat is still raging. A massive man sits at the counter, less than enthused by the event, but just as well knowing he can wait it out.

“Foreigner,” he states as I take one of the few seats still upright. “You look worse for wear.”

“I could say the same to this place,” I joke to the bartender. A number of new pocks mark the tables that have been nailed down. I had a feeling this place was for ruffians, but to see the tables end up withstanding this storm is outright impressive.

“Would both of you stop?!” Mokou shouts in the middle of it all. “We can always talk it out!”

“Fuck off!” the gaudy one, I’m assuming Shion’s sister, shouts back. Sanae doesn’t deign a response as the bullets continue to fly.

They don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The bartender grabs me and keels my face against the bar as a stray frog goes overhead. Sanae immediately stops her firing and jumps through the barrage at Shion’s sister. The coins also stop streaming out as the girl goes to block a cleaving swing from Sanae.

Mokou shifts gears as the two go into a close range brawl, jumping from table to table in an attempt to catch them. The two girls move around in a blitz as they exchange blows, Sanae using a stick with a paper sticking out of the end for harsher strikes than I’d expect it to take, and Shion’s sister, Jo’on I think her name was, tossing out some kind of golden flames with her punches.

Mokou tackles Jo’on against a table, the thing standing proud against the force, and the three of them end up in a stand off, already looking worn down. They launch into an all out war, tossing each other, trading hits, firing magical blasts right in each other’s faces, a real brutal sight.

“Sanae, why are you hitting me?!” Mokou shouts above the din.

“There’s no helping that, is there?” I ask the bartender, carefully watching for what direction their clamor is traveling.

“You shouldn’t look for more bandages,” he responds in kind. He doesn’t sound amused by current circumstances, but he’s also not agitated by it. He’s always quiet, so I have trouble getting to what he’s thinking.

I turn my attention from the fight and point over to one of the shot glasses against the wall. He picks it up, and before I ask for my usual he lifts a finger for me to wait. Rummaging through his counter for an unmarked bottle I assume is whiskey, he pours me a shot. I down the thing, savoring a taste of another home, and think on the flavor for a moment.

“Sweeter than the other stuff… is this Bourbon?” I ask the man.

“A good guess,” he answers with a matching hand gesture. “I told my supplier what you told me about the stuff. They came back with that. Didn’t know what it tasted like, so I held it for your take.”

“A happy taste,” I reply, inspecting the bottle with charcoal pen marking it. “You really gotta tell me how the hell you source this stuff, since I won’t be fooled into thinking the village grows corn outside of my sight.”

“Not on your life,” the bartender declines.

The chaos still roars behind me as the girls tumble back and forth through the shop, but I know there’s nothing I can do about it at this stage, and just enjoy a conversation with the poor man whose place is getting broken apart by the natural disaster.

Several minutes pass before a decisive move is achieved by Sanae launching Jo’on with a burst of wind across the room straight into the man I’m talking with. While there aren’t any drinks on the wall, he’s got a proud collection of shot and whiskey glasses that would be a shame to break, so he redirects the girl’s face straight into the stone counter, halting her momentum.

Mokou and I cringe at the impact. For any normal person, that’s at least three, maybe four, teeth that will need sticking back in. Jo’on slumps to the ground like a corpse, while the counter top remains unphased.

Silence reclaims the bar for a brief second, before the bartender announces, “Oops.”

The rest of us huddle around the girl’s frame, curious to see the damage. Most of the scuffs and scrapes on her clothing are similar to the state Sanae and Mokou are in after fighting, but a large bruise marks the entire center of her face. Her nose is broken and then some, coloring the whole region a blackish purple.

She jumps back awake, knocking over the stool I was on a moment ago and causing the group to expand from her wild swinging. She’s still set in a combat stance, glaring down Sanae for another round.

“Hey, you really need to stop,” Mokou suggests. “You already lost, take a look at yourself.”

“Again…” Jo’on tiredly retorts, “fuck off. This crazy bitch attacked me out of nowhere, and I’m not letting that slide so–“

She cuts herself short as she stumbles into the counter top, catching her footing with some support from the bartender and I.

“Mokou’s right,” I say. “You’ve got a concussion. Assuming a god is allowed to get one. Just hear us out, it’ll make sense after.”

Jo’on swats her arms free of their restraints. Everyone reacts with caution, waiting to see if she’ll continue to try and fight in her condition. She glances around at the lot of us, like a wounded animal weighing her options. If anything, it’s her pride that’s wounded, and she knows it.

She sighs and relaxes back to full height of her diminutive stature, straightening her coat to act in some semblance of class. As if that could fool anyone after the obscenities, brawling, and throwing money as a weapon. A pulped face doesn’t help, of course.

She tilts a bit from her straight posture, immediately forgetting that you can’t really balance when concussed. I pick up the stool and convince her to sit down while everyone fills her in on current events.

“Wait, so…” Jo’on contemplates through a nasally voice while nursing her temples. “This Hina is in an honest to other gods’ trial while my sister got away scott free? How is that even physically possible for her?”

“I think all of us have asked the same thing,” I admit.

“But you’re looking for a reason that she got caught up with my sister, right?”

“That’s the gist of it, yeah,” Mokou surmises.

“Then why did this grass headed bimbo ambush me?!” Jo’on shouts, clasping her head from the pain of the volume.

“I thought it would be easier to take you with me like I did with Tenshi. She gave up after a while,” Sanae explains with a touch of embarrassment.

“Tenshi in particular is an idiot, so of course she’d just want to be taken for a ride. Wouldn’t surprise me if she was bored again.”

“That is to say that you didn’t know about any of this?” I ask very pointedly.

“What? Oh come on. Not everything I do is a problem, stop acting like it.”

“Using perfect possession to steal money,” Mokou states.

“Attempting to use the underground oil for financial gain,” Sanae adds.

“I’ve seen at least three separate articles calling you a belligerent in town,” I drive home.

“Alright, shut up, jeez,” Jo’on relents, hiding her face. “But really, my sister and I split again after the underground episode. I heard the place had a few too many dangerous types and needed her help to check up on the oil. Too bad it all dried up.”

“Wait, but I thought the blood pools were still roiling because of some beast Yakuza…” Sanae questions.

“Nope! All dried up,” Jo’on insists. She points to the bottle of Bourbon that’s still on the counter. The bartender pours a shot with one of the glasses on the wall. She downs it and gets up, saying, “Well, if that’s all, I’ll just trip outta’ here. Foot the bill for me, you pricks.”

“Wait, hang on!” I exclaim, grabbing Jo’on’s shoulder causing her to tumble to the ground again in some agony.

She takes her time getting over the continued beatings to her head before turning up and seething, “Oh for– what now?!”

“We still need you for this case. I don’t think you’re involved here, but there’s some thoughts I have that could be useful to test,” I clearly demand.

“Fantastic,” Jo’on exasperates. “I’ve been promoted from goddess to mugging victim and now lab rat. I have less than zero reason to help, so bye.”

She climbs to her feet, and another hand catches her opposing shoulder. She turns ready to throw a punch, but blanches in the face of Sanae, who looks no worse than earlier, ready to fight again with a smile.

Surrendering to the shrine maiden, Jo’on slouches over depressed. Sanae takes the opportunity to sling the goddess over her shoulder as if it were an act of permission. No words are exchanged in the act, only everyone else’s bafflement fills the air. Sanae does not take ‘no’ for an answer.

“Objective accomplished,” she states with a fist pump.

Before I can ask her to at least leave Jo’on with some dignity to move around herself, Sanae walks clear out of the bar and takes off. I mutter in confusion for who’s going to pay for the damages, but the bartender waves me off with a simple, “Just the drinks.”

I thank the man for his saintly nature and leave plenty extra for him as Mokou drags me outside to continue chasing Sanae and her second kidnapped heavenly body within a day. Granted, both ‘bodies’ have been anything less than heavenly, but I don’t make the definitions.

The travel by way of Air Mokou ends up being uneventful. Which is good, since the closest we come to a notable event is the tengu stopping us following Sanae up the mountainside. They are dissuaded from their usual bluster before even getting into audible range, probably paying attention to the individuals of our group.

Back at the mountaintop shrine activity seems to be the same as before, but with a number of tengu slipped into the various corners of the main foray. There might be more as well, depending on how many are not dressed in their usual white collar attire. Thankfully, none of them approach me with that usual misunderstanding, either because they’ve seen me or know that a wackjob with four burnt talismans on his shirt is not gonna be good company.

Sanae continues to the back of the shrine where we find a sitting room much like the one Reimu often occupies at the Hakurei shrine, open to the air past a single sliding door. This one has been heavily repurposed overnight to examine a number of artifacts that Sanae claimed from the rubble at Hina’s house, now strewn about a long table.

A log with dried blood on it, likely that support frame that hit Nitori. Tattered paper remnants of something. A damaged ornate doll, childlike in appearance. The makings of a regular horror movie with Japanese occult elements. Maybe we should double check if Hina had a well nearby to really sell it.

As we’re standing in the doorway, spectating Sanae tying down her captive to a chair for whatever reason, something bumps my bad arm eliciting a grunt from me.

“Oh, right, sorry,” Mokou apologizes. “Just trying to get your eyes on these things here. We picked them up because Sanae wanted to, but I don’t know why they’d be important.”

“Well don’t look at me,” I repudiate. “I need to be told what these are as well before I can make out anything meaningful.”

“Yeah, that’s true. Sanae, stop hog-tying your prisoner there and help with the important stuff!” Mokou scolds Sanae’s continued attention with Jo’on. There’s enough rope tying Jo’on to leave her on train tracks and wait. Also–

“You realize that’s not what ‘hog-tying’ means, right?” I inform Mokou.

“It’s not?”

“Alright!” Sanae shouts in excitement. “It’s time to get to work now that we have a solid amount of evidence to go through!”

“Evidence?” I ask.

“Yes! Evidence. Evidence that Hina is not to be worried about,” Sanae states conclusively.

Mokou and I look at each other. Jo’on is staring off into space, waiting for it to all be over.

“I’m not sure that’s how we should frame our case…” I venture.

“What do you mean?” Sanae asks innocently. “We’re trying to tell them that they can leave Hina alone, right?”

“Yes,” I confirm, “but we need an argument, not an objective.”

“So, like… ‘Here are reasons why Hina Kagiyama should not be sealed’?” Sanae tries a new title.

I sigh, knowing this is going to be worse than I thought, and reply, “No. You’re not making a high school paper. And don’t give me lip about the irony of hearing that from a high school teacher!”

“Actually, I forgot you were a teacher,” Mokou comments.

“He’s not a drunkard?” Jo’on asks a little too soberly for my taste.

“You’re not helping!” I retort. “Sanae, listen. Do you understand the weight of what you’re doing right now? I know Gensokyo is pretty relaxed, but this sounds serious even from an outsider’s perspective. We gotta treat it the same.”

Sanae is taken aback by my shift in tone. She huffs up, looking a bit hurt, and states, “I am taking it seriously! Maybe you should try to help before telling me why I’m wrong!”

“What is this noise?” a voice presents itself through a sliding door opposite of the open space. The goddess of the shrine appears, ready to berate the idiots causing her shrine maiden grief, but stops herself at the scene.

The mature goddess inspects the room and all of its oddities before concluding, “This is part of the investigation, then?”

“Yes, Lady Yasaka!” Sanae immediately answers. She points to me and continues, “He’s being rude and interruptive, though!”

The goddess Yasaka stares me dead in the eyes, evoking an image of a predator to prey. She seems to size me up quickly, maybe having also done so when we spoke at the barrier, and calmly states, “Good. Be as rude as you need to. Maybe our girl will learn something.”

The venerable goddess leaves the scene without another word. We’re not sure how to comment on her words, harsh as they were.

Well, that’s a lie. One of us does…

“Mommy doesn’t wanna give you love?” Jo’on jeers from her captivity.

Sanae kicks her over through a sliding door along the side wall into another room, still bound to the chair. Jo’on moans for a few minutes due to the continued head trauma. It’s probably head trauma at this point, anyway.

Sanae isn’t faring much better, clearly holding back some tears, chanting to convince herself, “I can do this. I can do this!”

How old is this girl? Maybe I wasn’t entirely off to think she was acting young for her age. Sadly, that means a temperamental ego to fight off. It doesn’t help that she’s this emotional after a bit of prodding. No help from a certain pestilence god, either.

I don’t want this to be some kind of moral dilemma, though. I just want to get to work. What to do?

[x] Help guide Sanae in making a case based on what we have and know currently. It may take a while to get her to focus, though.

[x] Convince Sanae to let me take charge of the investigation itself. I could run some risk intervening in the matter at this stage, but the tengu seem to care less about appearances, so I shouldn’t, either.

[x] Maybe there’s another angle I’m not thinking of, yet.

Took a while. Touhou 19 may or may not have collapsed my creative mind for the better part of a week. Hopefully this piece with Sanae here doesn’t seem too blunt, it was hard to get across an idea of ‘ditziness’ without it turning into sheer incompetence. Also, I like the idea of Jo’on just constantly being angry at everything, it amuses me.
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>Good. Be as rude as you need to. Maybe our girl will learn something.

Tutor route unlocked???

Honestly, this brand of "Sanae woke up and chose violence today" is very on par with Touhou 19 Sanae, so it's actually pretty funny seeing the similarities.

I'm not entirely sure what route to go for for today's choice.

It seems to be a relatively simple choice of who is going to be the lead investigator, but there's some more nuance to it.

Helping Sanae build her case sounds like the path of least resistance, we help her on her way and she'll probably have at least a decent case by the end of it.
However, there's also the problem that it's Sanae. Her, uh, modus operandi of throwing stuff at the wall (or through it in Jo'on's case) and seeing what sticks combined with leaning on her miracle powers might not be the most useful skillset for a courtroom setting.
It sounds to be the less likely of the two to succeed if we base the odds purely on courtroom performance.
There's also the part about "making a case on what we have and know currently."
Does this mean we would not further investigate?
I can't say that is wise; we haven't even been briefed on the current evidence, so making that kind of call seems premature.

The alternative is taking the role of lead investigator.
The pragmatic option; we're more likely to build a solid case when Regis has the reins.
As the option states though, we'd be trading the risk of the case itself being flimsy for something else: Sanae has already officially been chosen as the defense.
If we just take over now it might damage our position from the get go.
On the flip side, with our hands on the steering wheel we might uncover some angle of the investigation Sanae hasn't followed yet, but that's only a possibility.

As it stands, there's not really enough info for me to vote either way.
Maybe we could hear from Sanae what she's scraped together, first?
Failing that, we do need to get a move on because the time crunch is only getting worse.

Maybe there's some wisdom to be taken out of Kanako's words?
Regis has more than a little experience as a teacher, he's probably had his fair share of moments where he's had to put his foot down.
If we do have to call the shot now; what if we let Sanae stay as the lead, but have Regis take a hardline stance as her assistant. (So it was the tutor route after all.)
More than a mere guiding hand, one that actually enforces discipline and gives her more than a little push in the right direction.
It'd be a way for Regis to have a far stronger impact on the direction of the investigation without entirely supplanting Sanae, in a way combining the two options.
Keeping her focused yet having her draw her own conclusions will help her grow, but this kind of approach would probably frustrate Sanae and possibly make her resent him for it in the end.
With somebody's life at stake, acting the villain is probably a sacrifice he'll have to make; if anything he's got the snark to pull it off.

I'd still like to hear about the evidence first if at all possible to see if there's any obvious gaps whether that's in her logic, the case itself or otherwise.
Maybe there's more investigating to be done.
For example, Suwako still hasn't been consulted as an expert witness as far as we know.

[X] Sanae's in charge, but you will absolutely be "as rude as you need to." This requires a stern hand.
-[X] Calm Sanae down. What has she actually found out so far?
--[X] Has Sanae been able to contact Suwako yet?

This is the best I've come up with right now, but I'm still somewhat on the fence about it.
There's always the risk of Sanae cracking under the pressure, but I'd like to think that she's made of stronger stuff, emotional or not.
I can only hope I properly delineated the methodology I'm going for here.
Going to think on it all some more and I look forward to others' thoughts on this.

P.S. If we do manage to whip Sanae into shape as a somewhat competent rhetorician by the end of this, Kanako might look upon us favourably.
Could be good to have a god's approval in your back pocket.
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[x] Help guide Sanae in making a case based on what we have and know currently. It may take a while to get her to focus, though.

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[x] Maybe there’s another angle I’m not thinking of, yet.
Let's turn our thinking around.
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Isn't that supposed to be the write-in option?
If not, I completely misread that.
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It is the write in option, correct. My mistake for not noting it.
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[x] Help guide Sanae in making a case based on what we have and know currently. It may take a while to get her to focus, though.

I'll just be breaking this three way tie.
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>>44263 here

I just realised I never really made clear whether what I wrote was just a Sanae vote or a write-in.
My apologies.
Thinking about it now I'm actually not entirely sure.
I suppose in essence it is a Sanae vote, but the way to go about guiding her is a little different than the default option implies; which would make it its own thing and thus a write-in?
Since at its core it is a Sanae vote it probably makes the most sense to regard it as such.
If my methodology does in fact prove incompatible with the writer's idea for the route, however, then feel free to just ignore my added stipulations to keep the vote clear in case of a tie.
If at all possible I would like my sub-questions to be preserved if this happens, more information is never bad in a situation like this.
On that note though; was there really a three way tie?
The one person who chose the specific write-in option did not really write anything in per se, presumably due to a misunderstanding.
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[x] Help guide Sanae in making a case based on what we have and know currently. It may take a while to get her to focus, though.

Well… it would be better if Sanae does this herself. Wouldn’t want the tengu to have anything that could throw the trial off course. However, that doesn’t mean that she’ll be on her own.

Sanae isn’t in the right mind to get down to business, so I might need to be heavy handed with it, if I’m understanding Yasaka correctly.

“Sanae,” I address the emotional girl.

“Hm?” she responds, tone detached, while getting out writing materials and minor observational tools. Interestingly, there’s some talismans and ropes snuck into an old box.

She’s lost a lot of her cheer from earlier, probably from the criticisms everyone’s been giving her. Maybe a bit of positive reinforcement could help steer her back on track, use the critiques as a fuel to do more.

“Sanae, look at me,” I address her again, blustering up more of the ‘old mean guy’ tone.

Mokou gives me an odd look, unsure of how I’m following through on this.

Sanae sighs, turning to me and dismissing with, “Do you want me to take this work seriously or do you want me to stop and listen to you?”

“Simmer if you want, that’s fine, but I’ll ask the same back to you. Do you want to seriously do this job?” I ask with emphasis that this is a question, not rhetorical.

She takes a moment to think on the question, unsure if there’s some deeper meaning to it. She shakes herself from the thought and stands upright, opposing me. She’s screwed up her face to try and hide her instabilities, but not too well.

“Yes. Hina is kind, and shouldn’t have to deal with this,” she affirms. At least her voice doesn’t hitch up, belying her expression.

“Good,” I reply. “That means you’re motivated.”

Sanae sighs once more, and asks, “What are you even saying? I don’t get it.”

“I don’t think I’m following this motivational talk, either,” Mokou comments, sitting down at one side of the long table and glancing over at Jo’on’s feet from the room over.

“Who said this was any motivational talk?” I question. The two eye me with even more confusion, now. Following up, I raise my voice, faking a surge of energy. “I could care less about worthless words like that! If you’re motivated to do something, then do it. Sanae, what is the first thing you think we should be doing right now?”

“Huh?” Sanae reels a bit at my sudden shift in tone. “Uh, what I was about to start doing, I guess.”

“Come on, use your words, what are you doing?”

“E-examining what we know right now and what we have available!” she states, more in a cadence now.

“Then let’s start. I want to hear your entire thought process. Every detail! Remember, we’re arguing with a bunch of assholes why they shouldn’t go one step of killing an innocent woman,” I command to the girl.

She flinches, maybe realizing the severity we’ve been ignoring up to now. Were she trained to, she would most certainly salute when saying, “R-right!”

Sanae gets the rest of the materials ready, moving with a terrified fervor while I hover over her. Mokou looks on, giving me a bit of a sideways nod for my unorthodox methods. What I’ve said is only what I think, though. I hate motivational talks, because they never lead to someone really getting their shit together. If they want to do something, they’ll tell you, and you can help from there. It doesn’t matter if neither of us are practiced lawyers or whatever, that’s not the point of what we’re doing.

We’re here to help Hina. Maybe spite the tengu. That’s a nice bonus for giving us the runaround.

In her fluster, Sanae writes a new angle of attack, Reasons Sealing Hina is Wrong.

While I appreciate the more pointed thought, I take a couple of minutes to elaborate a stronger statement. We rework the argument to, Sealing Hina Kagiyama is without fair reason.

“But how does this help us? Why bother?” Sanae asks after I set the pen back down.

“It shouldn’t. It’s incomplete right now,” I explain. “We need information to put a ‘because of’ after that.”

“I don’t get it,” Sanae continues. “What’s the point in being so picky about the wording?”

“The devil is always in the details, and so we need to be very thorough in everything we do. That includes writing everything we think of. Not because it’s better to put it in writing, but because we may forget about it later as we continue to hunt for the argument we want. This statement here is meant to keep our attention.”

“You’re not doing a good job explaining this, you know,” Mokou stops me. “Tell us something we get.”

I pin my eyes to her, narrowing in distaste for being interrupted in the middle of a point. I don’t really mind, but it’s become a habit to try and stop people from doing it too often.

I clear my throat, skipping forward a small bit in my speech, and point to the table, “These things you found, why are they here?”

“They had a lot of misfortune in them, I could feel it,” Sanae answers. “I figured they could be important.”

“They could be, but why? Pick one, let’s take a look at it.”

She picks up the scraps of paper and presents them to me.

“Can you tell me what that is? To me this just looks like any other ripped up paper,” I prompt the girl.

“This is… I think it’s one of the paper dolls that Hina makes around the end of winter, for Hina Matsuri,” Sanae inspects the item.

“Is that the only one that has misfortune in it, or were there more at her house?”

“There were more with misfortune in them, but this pile felt… hotter? Kind of like some kindling that wasn’t cooled right. It was also the only one ripped up,” Sanae attempts to elaborate.

“So then what do you think it is? Why would it be important?”

“It’s… maybe she was carrying it when Shion possessed her? It has the same feeling as that black fog.”

She walks across the room and hands it over to Mokou as well, who says, “Oh, yeah. That feels like the same nasty stuff. I’m no expert, but it’s hard to mistake that.”

“So then,” I finish, “why is that important to the case, specifically our argument that Hina should not be sealed? It’s fine if you think it doesn’t, of course.”

“... No. I don’t think this helps us prove anything,” Sanae concludes. I wave my hand in circles for her to continue. She mutters, but follows up with, “This only shows that when Hina and Shion are together, misfortune maybe gets more powerful.”

“Maybe?” I ask. “Does it or does it not? It sounds like you already knew before.”

“It does,” Sanae stakes down.

“Alright, so stuff near Hina when she’s possessed gets a worse kind of misfortune. We already knew her ability, but this confirms that misfortune piles around Hina even when Shion possesses part of her.”

“That doesn’t really help, though?” Sanae asks in confusion of my point.

“For right now it doesn’t, but as we keep going, that might not be the case,” I explain. “So, instead of keeping it in the back of our heads, let’s put it to paper.”

Sanae follows my instructions and does just that. We take time to construct a format for the various items, even though we conclude that none of them help us. In fact, if anything, they would hurt our side of the case.

Before moving on, though, I ask, “So, you two keep saying you’re not experts, but have you seen your other Goddess, Sanae? We tried yesterday, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need her now.”

Sanae thinks on it, and elucidates, “Lady Kanako said… Lady Suwako might be hiding to keep herself out of the current situation. She doesn’t like being associated with misfortune, even though she has the native misfortune god with her.”

“Well… we’ll have to do without, then,” I say. It does stick with me, as it’s odd for that goddess to have no involvement even though Yasaka is at the helm, but I can only wonder what’s happening there.

Regardless, now that I’ve directed Sanae to the materials we have, we’ve exhausted what we can infer. Sadly nothing of use to us, but definitely a heads up for whatever the tengu might argue.

Now before we run back out to continue investigating Hina’s area, the main point of interest: Jo’on.

It’s odd that Jo’on didn’t come up except as an after thought to the case. The others sound so certain that she must have something to do with this. Even I’ve seen plenty of evidence to say that she’s not too good of a person, and generally shouldn’t be trusted.

Sanae props Jo’on back up, the mass of rope still looking ridiculous, especially since we all know it wouldn’t hold her. The black mass plaguing the center of her face hasn’t healed, or only done so little that I can’t tell.

“Have you decided to let me go yet?” she asks. Her voice is at least clear now, less nasal to the tone.

“No, no yet,” Sanae refutes with a cheerful expression. “We need to ask questions. Then we’ll see.”

Jo’on rolls her eyes, and points out, “I’ve already told you that my sister and I split a while ago. I can’t give you anything you probably couldn’t figure out by asking her.”

“Sure you can,” I argue. “Here’s one: if you wanted to get your sister to do something, what would you do?”

She stares at me with vile intent, saying, “What the hell would you do with that?”

“Did you listen to what I was saying earlier?”

“Not a word,” she proudly claims. “I was taking a beauty rest as you idiots were playing law.”

Mokou pipes up from her seat next to us, “To be fair, that is a pretty gross question.”

“Jo’on, please. We want you to help us,” Sanae pleads.

“Well I don’t want to help you. This is the same as usual, you ask from me and I don’t get anything in return.”

“Jo’on, that’s not the problem.”

“Sanae, hang on,” I stop her. She looks at me with a curiosity of why I would do so. Mokou does as well. I let a stiff knee go to the floor, making sure I have good balance on it. It wouldn’t be fun to fall on my recovering shoulder.

“Are you going to give me a ring?” Jo’on mocks. “I’m more expensive than some homeless old man could even look at without being stabbed.”

“No,” I assert. “I’m here because it’s annoying to talk down to someone. I try not to do it with students, and I don’t try to do it with people who think they’re better than everyone.”

“Well aren’t you cocky?” she appraises.

“I’d prefer ‘sick of other people’s shit,’ but that sounds more polite,” I banter. “Now in all seriousness, because I haven’t used that word enough, apparently, you have as much reason to worry about this case as we do.”

“That’s a load of bull,” Jo’on crudely calls.

“What I find bull is that your sister isn’t on trial, too,” I argue.

“Woah,” Mokou reacts. “That’s harsh, ain’t it?”

I hold up a hand, hoping to continue. Mokou doesn’t persist, and Sanae is shocked that I shifted tone so suddenly.

Jo’on puffs at my contempt, “Why are you idiots acting so offended? We all agreed she should be.”

I go on the offensive, “And what about you? Do you want your sister sealed?”

“Excuse me?” she responds in a much lower, threatened tone.

“We lose this case, Hina is put away. What’ll they do next?” I ask, rhetorically this time.

“That’s insane. There’s no point,” Jo’on rationalizes.

“They’d smell blood in the water. They wouldn’t need convincing to claw at anything in arm’s reach. If you want to find a point, you can come up with one post mortem.”

Jo’on attempts to give another hot headed answer, wanting to shut me up, but she stops herself. Her brain caught up, and she doesn’t have a counter argument. It was more of a guess, but the tengu must really be some bloodsuckers if the pestilence goddess herself doesn’t want to deal with them.

“So it’s a threat after all, just not from you,” Jo’on concludes.

“Yeah that would be nice if you didn’t think I was threatening you, because I’m not,” I reply, maybe a bit too coyly.

“Go fuck yourself, you old bastard. Now somebody get me out of these ropes already!” she demands, struggling against the bindings like an animal.

Sanae complies, letting Jo’on stand again to her still fairly stout stature.

“Now,” Jo’on continues, “you can have my help. It isn’t gonna get you far, and frankly I could care less about this other bitch, but there is some sense to your words.”

In a show of good faith, she pats my shoulder. My bad one. Hard.

As I crumple over in the sudden onset of excruciating pain, she snides, “Oh, woops. Clumsy me. You most certainly didn’t deserve that for being a filthy rag, no sir.”

Sanae smacks Jo’on over the head. Again.

That isn’t quite how I wanted it to go, but fair’s fair with these people. Instead, we focus on talking with Jo’on properly now. Although…

“That’s it?” I ask, dumbfounded.

“Yeah. For as smart as you like to think of yourself, you’re also pretty retarded,” Jo’on insults. “Obviously the only thing my sister would need is some food, sweets, a present, just about anything. She’s not picky.”

“Well, I guess we can use that as a statement to say she wouldn’t have caused this out of ill-intent,” I parse.

“Why did you have to ask? I thought that was obvious knowing Shion,” Sanae asks, returning to her natural diligent student attitude.

“Well, she could have either done this of her own idea, been coaxed into doing so, or very unfortunately been around by coincidence. We can’t rule these things out without a supporting voice.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if she was promised food for doing something bad, though,” Jo’on admits, shrugging to her disappointment. “I doubt anyone would try to see through that argument. It’s so stupid it must be true.”

I shake my head and relent, “Sure, but I was really hoping there was more here to put an argument together, not fib one. Like Shion was tricked, or blackmailed, or something. Not much is here, though. She’s almost like a force of nature, if anything.”

“Yeah, you could say that,” Jo’on agrees placidly.

“Well, now what?” Mokou is quick to move the point along.

“To Hina’s, I guess,” I give up on thinking for now.

“Or we could move around looking for more witnesses,” Sanae suggests.

“By looking, you mean…” Mokou voices everyone’s concern.

“Best behavior, I promise,” Sanae emphasizes with her fingers crossed.

“I have a feeling that was your best behavior,” Jo’on jabs.

[x] Head directly out to Hina. It’s about time to do a proper meet and greet.

[x] Survey the mountain for any possible witnesses. There’s a lot of people, someone must know something.

[x] Convince the group to look into something else. (Write-in)

I remembered to write the write-in the the option this time… Joking aside, this update was a little mixed for me. Some parts were easy to push through, but the latter half took a while to think of how I wanted to put it together. I’m always worried about making Tanner sound… too confident, I suppose? Obviously, he’s not an idiot, but it’s difficult to strike that balance without making things seem too much of a breeze.
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[x] Head directly out to Hina. It’s about time to do a proper meet and greet.

In an Ace Attorney game, this is always where you talk to a defendant. Let's stick to what makes sense!
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Sanae really is a good girl.
She has all the right ideas, but just needed some focus (and a reminder of the stakes) to calm down and really come into her own.
Was a big fan of how Regis' experience shone through with his treatment of Sanae; stern and somewhat blunt, but not patronising or overly rude.
(I was somewhat worried that the way I wrote my post specified a much too antagonistic attitude and I am happy it went this way instead.)
It also sounded like he drew on not just his teaching experience, but also his army experience to get balance just right.
Sanae's now properly motivated and focused. Ditziness aside, her competency is apparent and I'm glad we allowed her to remain in charge of the investigation.

Reviewing the current evidence gave no immediate leads for the defense, but as mentioned having an idea of what points the prosecution might argue is still very useful information indeed.
Keeping the paper scraps in mind might be useful for establishing a timeline, though. Maybe Hina could identify when she made that particular batch?

Suwako hiding is peculiar, even a bit suspicious, but her apparent reasoning is understandable and now that we have confirmation that she won't be available means we can strike her from the potential witness list which in turn will help focus our efforts.

Jo'on is unsurprisingly hostile, but Regis is worldly enough to know how to deal with a selfish bastard: giving them a reason to care.
Adversity makes strange bedfellows.
I'm a little worried that her presence might cause problems, however. She has more than some notoriety, so it might send the wrong message to some.
Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

For choices, it makes sense to go directly to Hina first.
We have no leads anyway, and though she has already said she doesn't really know what happened we now have to time to properly sit down and get her statement, giving us more to work off of.
Asking any questions we have might help refresh her memory and cause her to remember potentially important details.

I don't want to entirely discredit Sanae's suggestion, however.
Since we have nothing to work off of a wide search might bring up someone important to the case.
It also wouldn't be the first time Sanae has "miraculously" found a person we didn't even know we were looking for.

In the end Sanae is in charge, but this choice is more of a "asking the group for input" thing than issuing a command, so I'd suggest going to meet Hina.
I'm not expecting Sanae to have anybody in mind for her off-the-cuff suggestion and it just being her patented "it'll work out" approach to problems.
But it'd be remiss to just shoot her suggestion down without even giving it some thought after we'd just committed to leaving the role of chief investigator to her.
So instead we should ask her if she does in fact have any persons of interest in mind.
If she does; we don't have to pursue them right now, but we can keep them in mind for later.
If she doesn't; it's no big deal, but at least she'll know that Regis values her input and didn't just leave her perfunctorily in charge to assuage her like she's some child.
Sanae seems far too nice to just assume the worst like that of someone, but more importantly it's good positive reinforcement for her to know that her opinion is appreciated.

On that topic of persons of interest though, we'll probably have to interview Shion as well at some point if at all possible.
She'd probably be open to questions since we have Jo'on with us.

[x] Head directly out to Hina. It’s about time to do a proper meet and greet.
-[X] Ask Sanae if she does have any persons of interest in mind.
-[X] Ask Hina about the paper scraps; maybe she can give more details about them.

We can run the other evidence by her while we're at it, but the scraps seem the most likely to produce at least some useful information.

But we have Miss "Can't worry about common sense in Gensokyo" herself with us!
Jokes aside it is the most sensible option at the moment.

I mentioned this earlier in this post, but I think the way you wrote Regis here perfectly showcased his wealth of life experience.

I don't think it's inherently wrong for somebody to be confident in the way they act. They might still come to the wrong conclusion or act in a mistaken way.
But in this case it is entirely plausible and believable that Regis would simply, confidently know from experience how to interact with the two situations in front him:

- A good natured and smart but somewhat emotional and ditzy "student" that needed guidance to get herself back on track and fully focused on the important things.

- An arrogant, antagonistic and generally untrustworthy person that needed the right buttons pushed to see reason and become compliant.

The former would draw on his teaching experience and his general leadership skills, which he's already shown off to have; for example during the yamawaro arc.

The latter would just be from his experience with people in general.
He's mentioned or at least implied multiple times that he's sick and tired of the politicking, scheming and other bullshit people pull.
I believe it's even part of the reason he likes Gensokyo, because he thought it was free of all that nonsense.
But even so; as a functioning adult who has had to deal with that world, it'd be more unlikely that he wouldn't know how to handle people like Jo'on.

He's also just a smart person in general. That doesn't necessarily mean he comes off as a genius or anything, but definitely someone who has learned from the cards life has dealt him.

Sorry if I misread your postscript and didn't actually address what you were referring to, but I felt like it was worth giving feedback on because I do very much enjoy Regis as a character.
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[x] Head directly out to Hina. It’s about time to do a proper meet and greet.
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[x] Head directly out to Hina. It’s about time to do a proper meet and greet.

“Enough banter,” I scold the two gawkers, Mokou included. While she’s been good to me, she’s also been acting as a distraction since we’ve sat down. I return to the matter at hand, saying, “Alright, Sanae. I want to emphasize that you will be the lead on this, but could I convince you that going directly to Hina is our bigger priority?”

She scratched at her cheek and retorts, “You’re making it sound a little dramatic, if anything.”

I raise my… hand, singular, in defense. Jo’on puffs in pleasure at my pain from over animating.

Restraining myself from reprimanding her, I continue my train of thought with Sanae, “It’s important that you remember you’re the one that will be at the table as the defense of this trial. Still, not that we can expect this to be exact to outside world courts.”

“Hmm… I guess so,” Sanae looks off in thought as she confirms to herself. “So… convince me… I guess?”

I take the offer to start a small bit of lecture, “While there is value in making a broad sweep, I still think we are gonna want to go with the straightforward approach right now. The broad sweep could net us people that act as witnesses, but will otherwise have no use for us as we’re still trying to find some context to argue our case. Going back to our client and directly questioning things is likely to get us what we need to know.”

“That all sounds like a fancy way of saying you don’t have an angle to argue still; go back to step one,” Mokou pokes.

I sigh. Not because Mokou is missing the point, nor that she’s ignored my previous dismissal, but because she’s one hundred percent correct. We don’t have much to go on, and we really need to take this back to the drawing board. Anything we could come up with on our own would be moot right now.

“Alright, let’s go with that,” Sanae assents. The three of us look over at her, surprised that her attitude hasn’t been dissuaded by how little we accomplished sitting here.

We start to head out, but I make sure Sanae carries the paper scraps with her. While the bloody support beam and the ornate doll are related, I already have a grasp of where they came from. The paper scraps are different, though. They appear intentionally torn apart, but we need to know why exactly that is.

The trip down the mountain is completely uneventful, aside from some bickering between Mokou and I about needing to be carried everywhere.

Approaching Hina’s resident forest, we get a good view of the aftermath. Most present is the giant stone Tenshi planted straight into the ground, warping the ground around it from the collision. Hina’s torn down house barely avoided complete destruction from the fighting, although half of the land it was sitting on is now an uphill slope instead of flat ground.

The literal misfortune gas is gone without a trace, not even remaining as a smog anymore, so that’s a good sign. The ground and foliage haven’t recovered, though. The area remains a blotch now more black than its previous gray, only overtaken in presence by the neighboring golds and reds of the Autumn goddesses.

One new structure stands out in the daytime light. As we approach the grounds I can tell that it’s a small wooden awning that must have been erected overnight. Ran and the others are now surrounded by a few new individuals I don’t recognize. A couple of men with skin separately hued orange and purple, and a small blonde woman in brown and yellow clothes.

Behind them, under the awning amidst jars and crates sitting and talking with Hina, is one more I don’t recognize. Another tengu, judging by the white collar attire. A woman with straight hair black hair in a bob cut with thin rimmed glasses. The glasses are particularly interesting, as the only people I’ve seen have them in Gensokyo are those that are constantly in book work or those of high renown. Also Rinnosuke, but he’s more of an exception.

We settle to the ground nearby and the tengu stands up to leave. While walking off, the entire group of people surrounding Hina give her glares. The kind that tell her she’s not welcome, but she’s less than phased by the reactions. Hina, however, seems…

“What happened here?” Mokou questions the tengu as she passes by us.

She stops and eyes us over, not concerned with the group she’s walked away from, and answers, “Proceedings of this investigation. Do excuse me as I need to write up my findings for later.”

The woman floats off, and we continue to the group in the shaded spot. Yes, Hina doesn’t look too well. Distraught would be too energetic to describe her. Hopeless would be too intense a descriptor. Depressed wouldn’t be wrong, but there’s some level headed thought still in her eyes.

“Hey everyone,” Sanae greets, though subdued by the mood. “What’s happening?”

“That was the tengu’s prosecutor,” Ran explains. “They had more information available than could be expected in this timeframe. Is your investigation progressing similarly, human goddess?”

Sanae stumbles to reassure everyone quickly, so she instead mutters, “Ehh… well… I mean…”

“It’s a work in progress,” I pick up. “We have information, but it’s not as easy for us to put it together into a counter argument for defense.”

The group eyes me oddly. Particularly the cast upholding my arm and shoulder. Ran more than the rest eyes me curiously, probably having done an estimate of how long I should have been at Eientei.

Before she can comment, a small voice speaks up, “Maybe it’s for the best.”

The voice, surprising the group, comes from Hina herself, looking down to the ground and resting her arms on her lap. The brightly colored men and the small girl accompanying them give a berth for Sanae and the rest of us to join the circle around Hina.

“What?” Mokou speaks for us first, not hiding any blunt edge to her voice. “What the hell does that mean?”

“I mean..!” Hina livens a small amount to retaliate against Mokou’s tone, but only further manages to eek out, “maybe the tengu are right to seal me…”

Sanae acts fast, kneeling next to Hina and telling her, “Hey, don’t say that! You know there are people that would be sad if that happened.”

“But… the people close to me are always hurt exactly because of that…” Hina refutes with glossy eyes.

Before I get to witness Sanae demonstrate a god’s charisma and optimism, Ran drags me by the (good) arm away from the group.

“Explain yourself, human,” she commands of me, pointing to my shoulder.

“I’m healing fast? I really don’t know how to explain it. The doctor there was baffled, too, so this isn’t common.”

“Eirin Yagokoro was ‘baffled’ you say…” Ran remains pensive in thought over the image. “Even when not knowing, she released you from hospice?”

“That’s… yeah I guess so,” I confirm. “Maybe she thought it was benign?”

“Unlikely. She’s not one to make snap judgments. Much more likely is that she plans to allow you back into your environment hoping you will come to further bodily harm,” Ran hypothesizes.

“But why, though? Does she think she could use me as a lab rat to get an idea of what’s possessing me?”

“Possession? No, that doesn’t hold on inspection,” Ran tangentially adds before returning to the question. “But yes, this would be within reason for Yagokoro to do. It may be hearsay or common rumor for the village but there are things she does that may be considered malpractice in the outside world.”

“Wait, seriously?” I ask, reconsidering what I thought of the good doctor in the forest.


“That’s scummy as hell,” I tell Ran my honest opinion on the matter.

“That will not change her view. Nor the view of others, as free medicine is too valuable to refuse.”

“Augh, let’s just move on,” I concede.

“Certainly, you will require further investigation later, but miss Kagiyama is the person of the hour, as it were,” Ran muses.

“What exactly did the tengu know? What did she say to get Hina so… that?”

“The tengu woman described the accrued damages and the reasons later events are stochastic and spontaneous. The arguments were sound given the lack of knowledge is available on misfortune.”

“Right,” I sigh, thinking through the major points there. “There’s obviously nothing we can do about the damages, but hopefully we can find a solid argument to make the randomness not an issue.”

“Out of interest, you may wish to know that this entire area is deemed unrecoverable for the needs of local flora.”

“It just gets better by the moment, huh?”

“The tengu have ample evidence at this point, you will need good counter arguments to reduce their impact.”

“Noted,” I finish, walking back to the group first.

Sanae has calmed Hina down, a trail of tears on her face from the stress she’s under. To her credit, Sanae looks unshaken by the episode, instead focusing on continuing to comfort Hina.

The rest of the group looks on awkwardly, maybe not sure if they should have stepped away to give the two some space. Their own senses of worry must have kept them rooted, though. Even Tenshi hasn’t stepped away, but that’s because Shion looks ready to cry herself.

I quietly step next to Sanae and Hina, tapping Sanae on the shoulder. Hina takes a moment to wipe her tears with the ribbons around her forearms.

Sanae looks up, and serenely asks, “Yes, Mr. Regis?”

“I know now’s a bad time, but…” I address, scratching the back of my head. “We need to keep on a schedule. If the tengu are this far ahead of us then there’s ground to cover.”

Sanae doesn’t react for a moment, before changing back to her childlike energy with a declaration of, “Yes! Right! I’m the lead investigator, so I need to keep investigating.”

The sudden burst of volume surprises the group, but it seems to be welcome from the somber atmosphere some minutes ago.

“You’re the defense, numbnuts,” I scold. “You’re investigating to find something to defend her with. A lame distinction, but important to keep in mind.”

“My, you sound like a mentor,” Hina infers. She stands up from the crate she was sitting on and takes Sanae’s hands in her own. “Thank you, Sanae. I think I’m feeling better now.”

“Eh he he, of course,” Sanae chuckles merrily.

“Alright everyone,” I address the group as a whole, “I and Sanae both plan to talk with Hina for a while. So, if anyone has something for us, now’s the time.”

I look around at the group, Tenshi seems to have mentally checked out the moment I started speaking, Mokou and Jo’on are both acting pretty laid back in general, Jo’on fishing out a cigarette from her overcoat, and the trio I don’t recognize are starting to get antsy.

“Yamame, it’s fine,” Hina addresses the smaller woman. Albeit, now that I’m paying attention to it, Hina isn’t on the taller side either. “I trust how you’ll decide to build my home again.”

The short blonde woman, Yamame, apparently, nods and turns to her cohorts, barking out, “Come on you drunkards, you heard her! Let’s get back to moving the debris!”

They march off to the rubble some yards out and I notice that about half of the structure has been cleared away. At least of what I expected to find.

“Out of curiosity, who are they?” I ask the remaining collective.

“A couple onis and a ground spider,” Mokou answers in turn.

“I asked them to help rebuild my home,” Hina elaborates. “Yamame is a kindred spirit.”

“Interesting,” I note of the existence of these oni and Yamame above ground. As I recall, there are articles detailing oni being stowed away underground at some point in history, so this must be a very recent change.

Before anything else takes my attention, I rest my pack to take something out of it. The dream-catcher from yesterday. The wood looks in fine condition even after the battering I took, but the webbing, as it figures, seems to have some kind of dark crud on it. No surprise if the misfortune decided to stick to the strings like burnt coal.

Regardless, I present it to Hina, saying, “I meant to give this to you as a sign of good will, since I needed to work with you on a separate topic throughout the week… Sorry it’s looking under the weather.”

“Oh, I’ll pay it no mind,” Hina cheerfully holds the ring. She inspects it for a moment before determining, “This is not a custom I know of. I would love if you could tell me what it is.”

“Sure,” I return the pleasantry. “Now, Sanae, would you like me to start the conversation with her or did you have questions you wanted to ask first?”

“What are you planning on talking about?” Sanae questions.

“My work. General research of her life, habits, physiology, anything I might be able to learn about her. Think of it as similar to Akyuu’s Gensokyo record.”

“You mean Miss Hieda?” Hina checks.

I clear my throat and reply, “Yes. I’m just bad with last names.”

Hina giggles, letting the slip up pass.

“I would ask a lot of basic things…” Sanae surmises. “I think it would be better if you started. I’ll pay close attention.”

I rest down on the wooden crate opposite Hina and state, “Well I’ll be stealing this spot, then. Hopefully we can find a couple of birds to kill with this conversation.”

“Is that to mean tengu?” Hina asks with a hint of concern.

“No, that’s a metaphor,” I repute.

“Oh, I know,” she jokes. Sanae did wonders to calm her down if she’s already back in a joking mood.

“Well, then,” I recompose myself. “Let’s start with the obvious: your name, please.”

Hina Kagiyama, of no middle name, is a Nagashi-bina doll turned Youkai-part-goddess. She informs me this is less strange than it may sound due to the nature of all things spiritual within Gensokyo. Her dominion is of misfortune, acting as a natural purifier for that which resides in her body. That is the reason she is normally not effected by surrounding misfortune that is drawn to her.

We all know the magnetic force she seems to have on this normally invisible energy, so it’s suffice to say yesterday’s happenings never happened before now.

We spend a while in conversation finding every detail we can about Hina’s life. After a while Mokou and Jo’on step away in their inactivity. Tenshi and Shion stick around for a time before wandering off for some reason or another. I’ll need to be sure to check what I needed when I see Jo’on again, but the basics come first.

But speaking of other gods…

“I’ve not met another god of misfortune, until miss Shion, that is,” she explains. “I could not have known I was able to ‘absorb’ one, if that’s how you’d say it.”

“Yeah, it would only be obvious in hindsight, huh? But you’d never figure beforehand,” I note.

It’s with that I realize something important. I decide I’ll quiz Sanae after she’s done with her own questions to see if she catches it.

In the meantime, after I finish the interview, Sanae steps in and I lend her my notebook for the time being. I snag Ran away for a moment to go over something I noticed. I have no idea how feasible such an idea is, but that would need to be checked after coming to some agreement on its value.

“Certainly the tengu would not be satisfied with such a stopgap measure,” Ran bickers.

“But do you think they’d have enough fuel for their fire after that?” I ping.

“A tool to separate the misfortune goddess from misfortune… If one is possible, then it would hinder their case a great measure,” Ran contemplates. “However, you must get the goddess herself to agree, as well as your pupil.”

That’s doable. Easily, surely. I mean, what else would I do, ask for Sanae’s opinion on what to do next?

… Right.

[x] Pitch the idea to Sanae and Hina as something to prioritize. It could prove fruitful, though there will be inevitable drawbacks I haven’t thought of yet.

[x] Ask Sanae if she’s come to a new lead that might be useful to us. She’s smarter than I give her credit for. It just takes a bit of coercing to show it.

[x] Maybe I’m the one that needs coercing to act smarter… (Write-in)

I feel like we’re getting somewhere now, we should be able to start cooking through this. A trial will come and I will finish this unplanned section, damnit! Anyway, new tengu will get a name come time (and when I decide on every other character detail, lol).

>>44272 Thank you for the kind words and analysis. It means a lot for me to see so much dissection happening in my posts. Keeps me on my toes and whatnot when thinking about foreplanning.
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Something that has come to me while i read this.

IF, Hina is (atleast from what i know) one of the only people in gensokyo that can purify misfortune, what would happen when she's sealed by the tengu, woudnt it build up?

If that us true, we have a powerful counter gambit to almost all of the possible arguments the tengu can make. That Hina acts as a misfortune heatsink and that sealong her could fuck not only the tengu, but the entirety of gensokyo. Little problem though

Im not entirely sure if misfortune will acumulate if Hina is sealed, so that may be a hole in this argument.

In my head we should first

[X] Probe Ran about misfortune Gods and beings that interact with it. If Hina is the only purifier of misfortune around, what do the tengu think will happen when she vanishes


[x] Pitch the idea to Sanae and Hina as something to prioritize. It could prove fruitful, though there will be inevitable drawbacks I haven’t thought of yet.

First time writing a write in, i apolagize if i break any conventions of this site
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[X] Probe Ran about misfortune Gods and beings that interact with it. If Hina is the only purifier of misfortune around, what do the Tengu think will happen when she vanishes?
[x] Get Sanae's and Hina's take too.
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[x] Ask Sanae if she’s come to a new lead that might be useful to us. She’s smarter than I give her credit for. It just takes a bit of coercing to show it.

I feel like we should let Sanae have this next bit. Because I feel like we are taking the lead a bit too much.
Probably just me though.
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[x] Ask Sanae if she’s come to a new lead that might be useful to us. She’s smarter than I give her credit for. It just takes a bit of coercing to show it.

It's okay to step back a little and appreciate miracles.
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Makes sense for Hina to be friends with some of the underground outcasts; shared experiences and all that.
Reconfirming that Hina has people she can rely on when in need is rather heartwarming.
It also sounds like this isn't the first time she's called on Yamame for a job.

Choices, choices.

Regis' flash of inspiration is an interesting concept, but I'm not entirely convinced whether or not it's really actionable.
The details are left deliberately vague, but who would even design such a tool?

Nitori is an engineer with an inventive streak, but she's currently preoccupied with regrowing her eyeballs.

Perhaps Kanako? She had a strong enough grasp of the sciences to successfully import nuclear fusion into Gensokyo.
She's also dabbled in more pseudo-scientific stunts like the cold fusion demonstration which honestly seemed much more like an invocation of the power of faith than an actual scientific experiment.
Maybe her experience in blending science with the supernatural could prove valuable.

Regardless of how it would come to be, however, this kind of spur-of-the-moment idea doesn't make for too strong of an argument by itself.
It would need a proof-of-concept ready for the trial, which would require time we just do not have.

There is still merit to the idea, and maybe the tool can be made later down the line as a way to prevent future incidents.
It's just not something I would make the central argument of our case.

What is arguably more important, though, is that Restless Regis is forgetting the thing he has assured Sanae multiple times now: that she is in charge.
In the end, she is the one who has to stand before the court and defend Hina.

I sincerely believe that she will stand a far better chance of succeeding if she has an argument she came up with herself.
The whole reason Regis put her through the wringer last update was to push her to think for herself and draw her own conclusions.

She's already shown herself to be plenty charismatic with how she consoled Hina.
Now is the time to step aside and let her work her miracles.
While providing any assistance she might require, of course.

>>44275's write-in raises an interesting point.
It's a very strong counterargument, but there's some points about it I'd like to raise.

First, do we actually know if Hina is responsible for purifying the misfortune of the entirety of Gensokyo?
The only data Regis has is what he has read in Akyuu's chronicle and some legends in his briefing.
The chronicle is understandably written from the viewpoint of humans and thus only mentions her role in purifying their misfortune by way of the nagashibina ritual.
Ran did mention there was a lack of knowledge on the subject of misfortune.

We also don't know what the Tengu are exactly aiming for with this whole situation.
What Regis told Jo'on about this just being the first step in the Tengu's plan to clear house might not be entirely empty conjecture.
Getting rid of an entity purifying misfortune, even if it's just the humans', would prove disastrous for Gensokyo.
If some calamity befalls the human population due to rampant misfortune, Gensokyo itself would risk collapsing due to it losing its source of fear and faith.
Tengu are sly bureaucrats; I highly doubt they would simply neglect to consider the consequences of this sealing, so there clearly must be some ulterior motive.
The point I'm trying to make is that they've likely considered this counterargument to their case already, because the alternative would be that they simply do not care about the consequences.

Lastly; this is more my personal opinion, but I am not entirely sure if this is the kind of argument Sanae is looking for.
Sanae seems to want to argue a case centered around the message that Hina is a good person and not a source of harm, if we go off the WIP arguments she came up with last time.
I feel that pointing out that sealing Hina could lead to some misfortune catastrophe paints her less as benevolent and more as a necessary evil.
Again, this is just my personal interpretation, so it is entirely possible that I'm overthinking this.

Altogether I think all options have their merits, so it's worth keeping them in mind as eventual subarguments, rather than core arguments.

Anyway, that was a lot of words to say I think we should let Sanae do her thing.

[x] Ask Sanae if she’s come to a new lead that might be useful to us. She’s smarter than I give her credit for. It just takes a bit of coercing to show it.
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[x] Ask Sanae if she’s come to a new lead that might be useful to us. She’s smarter than I give her credit for. It just takes a bit of coercing to show it.

I stop dead in my tracks.

“What is it, Tanner?” Ran asks, concerned that I would inexplicably freeze up like this.

I relieve a heavy sigh, explaining myself, “Ran, Sanae’s in charge.”

“Is she? It’s shocking you did not take the case for yourself,” Ran deadpans.

“Oh come on, you can’t think that bad of me,” I retort. “And, yeah, she’s really the lead here. I need to temper myself down. She needs to come to conclusions on her own.”

Ran doesn’t respond at first, only looking between me and Sanae out some distance. After, she says, “It’s not entirely convincing to ask Kochiya, of all people, to come to higher function conclusions.”

“It’ll be fine, you don’t need to be that pessimistic,” I refute her.

“She knocked out a celestial as a convenient answer with little logical reason for it solving an issue.”

“And got into a bar fight with Jo’on after deciding she would be a good direction to take the case. It’ll be fine.”


We take our spots under the supply roof again as Sanae is checking over notes she took. The notes read loose ideas, like visiting human village less, doesn’t talk to a lot of people, doesn’t feel lonely out in the woods. She’s clearly focusing on the social aspects still, but she’s being somewhat more scientific about her understanding. Hopefully this should be the last push I might need to keep her on track.

“Alright, pop quiz,” I announce to her.

“A pop quiz..?” she repeats, concern clear.

“Yes, if you aren’t able to answer well then you’re gonna be going through the wringer.”

“Oh my… that sounds intense,” Hina adds in.

“Uh… uh,” Sanae scrambles to skim the information that I wrote as well before I get the first question out.

“What is the main point of contention to absolving Hina in this case?” I ask my first question.

Hina tilts her head, pondering the answer herself. Sanae realizes the question is at a level above the detailed notes I was taking.

She takes several minutes to think of her answer, conscientious that I’m watching, though I try not to seem like a pressuring factor to her thoughts. “That is… Hina’s power… is bad for-… no, it’s dangerous to… the area around her,” she answers with much uncertainty.

“Is that all the time?” I prod for detail.

“No! No, that’s not what I mean!” Sanae flusters, understanding what she just said. “It’s when Hina loses control of her power, like when Shion was in her.”

“I know what you meant,” I reply, raising a hand hoping she’ll settle down. “I’m asking to make sure you know you’re saying what you mean.”

“R-right,” she accepts with some trouble. She’s not happy I’m leading her by the nose, but I want to be certain that she’s thinking about all of this.

“Next question… gimme a sec, actually,” I pause. “I want to be sure I’m asking this in the right order. Let me see my book again.”

Sanae hands back my notebook, curious what I meant by the ‘order’ of questions. I write them down and run through the logical flow between them. Ran checks over my shoulder to read the questions as well, maybe making sure I’m not being pedantic.

After I’m satisfied, I ask, “What is your main counterargument right now?”

Sanae takes time to think over the answer once more. She buries her mouth in her hand, imitating me. She changes her pose to point her finger up and tries answering, “The tengu are making this a bigger deal than it is? Like, we can separate Hina and Shion, like what Tenshi did.”

“Sure,” I acquiesce, “but while that’s true, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a good argument as well. Such as, say, what happens if no one is around to separate the two? Can they eventually become so powerful that even Tenshi couldn’t separate them?”

Hina gasps, “I didn’t even think about that. Oh goodness, just how powerful were Shion and I?”

“Rather, the thing you ejected,” I correct.

“A celestial should be able to extinguish the misfortune of that reported creature even should it be left to fester for a week more,” Ran states. “Longer than that it would be a grueling fight even for the most powerful of their people.”

“But it’s unlikely that the misfortune could go unnoticed for that long, right?”

“Correct. The tengu are able to argue about possible damages, but it is now known what forces can negate the issue, thus possible future events would not be considered catastrophic to Gensokyo.”

“Ah,” Sanae utters, putting fist to open palm. “So we need to look at how to say that shouldn’t be an issue?”

“I’m getting to that part,” I hold her off. “Next question, now. What do you think we should do next to strengthen our case?”

“It would be figure out how hard it would be for the same thing to happen later,” Sanae confidently answers quicker than I’d expected.

“Right,” I agree, taken aback by Sanae’s speed on the uptake. “That’s what we want to find evidence supporting, but what are we going to do, exactly?”

“We…” Sanae pauses, wrapping her head around the question. I only have a vague idea myself, so what she answers should be a well informed thought we can work off of. “We should check out where Hina and Shion fused together. Maybe they were closer together than the tengu think they were. I mean, like, physically, though.”

“Do not worry, Sanae. I wouldn’t take offense to the idea of being on good terms with Shion,” Hina reassures.

“That’s definitely one avenue to take,” I conjecture. “We’re gonna need everyone back here before we go out, though. Shion, obviously, and her sister as well.”

“Miss Jo’on?” Hina confirms. I nod. “Why would miss Jo’on be important to also have present?”

“It’s been a thought I wanted to confirm: would other ‘misfortune adjacent’ gods be effected by you the same as Shion?”

“Oh, so then her sister would be the closest we have to testing that?”

“Well, we could always use lady Suwako’s partner god,” Sanae notes. “That doesn’t sound like something we’d really want to deal with, though… Regardless if nothing happens…”

“I mean, Moriya is also in hiding,” I point out. “Anyways, we’re gonna be waiting here for a while, so I might as well continue asking you questions, Hina. Would you be fine with that?”

“By all means,” Hina says, gesturing to the crate across from her. Sanae hops out of the seat for me to take again.

It’s only a short time before Mokou and Jo’on return, followed by Tenshi and Shion several minutes later, but I do learn something of interest in that time. There’s a sort of active period that Hina has where she cannot contain the misfortune she absorbs. As it turns out, she has it tracked down to the day, and despite the trouble yesterday, she feels like it will still happen some couple of days from now.

There’s something worthwhile for me to see. Ran pesters me, knowing that I’m eyeing down the exact time Hina speculates, and says it would be stupid to go with my injury.

Correct. It would be, but I’m going anyway, since I need to see firsthand what misfortune of a not apocalyptic level does to the world around Hina.

With my cohort still unwilling to back down on the subject, I decide it’s time to move on now that everyone returned. Hina guides us out to her common ritual ground, where the center of the cursed forest used to be. We deduced that must have been where it happened since the last thing Shion remembers was being in the forest, drawn to something in this area.

We observe the opening in the trees, circular, with the tree branches just above cleared away. The ground is etched with a spiral pattern blatantly etched in the dirt. Hina assures us that this happened after a while from channeling the misfortune here, and that she could always choose to ‘perform’ somewhere else.

Choosing to not explain the odd word choice, Hina takes one of the paper dolls she brought with her and places it at an edge of the circle. There’s no obvious reason for the spot she chose, other than it sitting on a tendril of the multi ended spiral.

Hina places herself in the center, and I suppose, begins to perform. She spins on the balls of her feet, hands folded to the front of her skirt. The movement is too consistent and at a speed too slow to normally be possible. Yet still, she spins in place, as sure as the movement of the clouds in the sky. At the end of the ritual circle the doll seems to permeate a dark gas. It’s so light you’d think it was just a hallucination, but I’ve seen misfortune much stronger than this, and can tell that the doll is giving off an absolutely minuscule amount by comparison.

I glance about to the rest of the group, seeing if anyone else is paying attention to the doll. Ran, unsurprisingly, stares at it in an attempt to calculate… something about it. Mokou and Sanae are entranced by Hina’s spinning, so they don’t notice. Tenshi and Jo’on are looking at something else entirely.

Shion. It isn’t supposed to be a surprise at this point, but seeing Shion’s limbs trail towards Hina, as if compelled by a natural attraction, doesn’t look natural.

“Keep a good grip on the idiot,” Jo’on commands of the celestial.

“Sis, that’s mean…” Shion moans.

“Yeah, obviously I’ve got a good grip on her. I’d be the one that has to pull them apart again,” Tenshi bickers.

The others don’t pay attention to me nudging Sanae and murmuring, “Remember what I was talking about before?”

She sits mouth agape for a second, but then a gleam sparks, a mischievous yet innocent smile takes over her. She sneaks around the back of our line of people, ambushing Jo’on with a bear hug from behind, and begins to walk toward the inner ritual circle.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing?! Put me down before I need to smack you around more!” Jo’on snarls, flailing about in Sanae’s grasp. She also forgets that her nose is still somewhat bruised, weakening the weight of her threat.

Sanae doesn’t show any hesitance, continuing forward unabated.

“What the hell is she thinking..?” Mokou comments. She starts to step in and stop whatever madness this is, but I hold my hand to stop her. She acquiesces, maybe getting that this is my idea or just being fine with seeing whatever insanity transpires.

“Hey, we can talk about this, right? Like sane adults…” Jo’on pleads with her captor as they further approach Hina.

Hina herself is only curiously watching the two as they continually approach. In between each rotation, anyway.

“Wait, wait, wait!” Jo’on shouts, bracing herself for anything.

Our group collectively react the instant Sanae pushes Jo’on directly onto Hina. No half measures, Sanae shoves them into each other, keeping an iron grip on Jo’on just in case.

And then, in that very instant..! Nothing happens. We all release a held breath, thankful that nothing went wrong. Hina even stopped spinning, but that’s more likely because she’s supporting Jo’on’s body weight as much as Sanae is at this point.

Sanae, for her part, makes sure to push her luck and really rub the two people together, acting as if a sudden surge of static electricity would do something. When sure nothing is going to happen, she releases Jo’on, who keels over from shock, and declares, “Nothing happened, Mr. Regis!”

“Yeah, I can see that,” I exasperate.

Jo’on is quick to recover after realizing she’s still alive, and proceeds to smack Sanae in the back of the head, shouting, “What the hell are you thinking?! You wanna get us all killed?!”

“I was testing if you were the same as Shion!” Sanae explains, more emotionally hurt than physically.

“But nothing happened!”

“And what if something did?!”

“I would’ve backed up!”

Jo’on growls out her frustration, but before she can start another all out war, loud clapping calls everyone’s attention. Hina has put her hands together, looking stern for once.

She starts speaking in a tone I’d expect of a daycare worker, “Now, you two! None of that! Think about each other’s view.” She points to Sanae, implying her last sentence wasn’t just rhetorical.

Sanae stutters a bit, but scratches her chin and answers, “Jo’on didn’t want to do something that could be dangerous?”

Hina harrumphs, satisfied with the answer and then points to Jo’on.

Jo’on flinches back at the sudden shift and shuts up for a moment to think, stuck with a concerned stare at her accuser. “This vegetable–“ Hina interrupts her, thwacking her head. “This idi-… girl here, was… researching..?” Jo’on eventually answers with more of a question. The last word was especially drawn out because she wasn’t sure how to describe it.

Hina harrumphs once more, and in the two’s bewilderment grabs their hands, forcing them into a handshake. The girls look at each other, with more than a little confusion that this is really happening. At the very least, their contempt is gone. Not sure if treating them like children solved the issue, but they’re not paying attention to it, so… sure?

“So… uhm…” Sanae attempts to reign control of the situation again. “Jo’on, did you feel anything?”

Jo’on looks at her oddly, asking, “Feel? Like what?”

“I don’t know. Like, an attraction to Hina, or something?” Sanae guesses.

“Attraction?” Jo’on states, with a bit too much bile for it to be considered a legitimate question. “Not on your life I would be attracted to this European nanny.”

“Answer the question, jackass!” Tenshi pipes up for the rest of us.

“Up yours, damn tomboy!” Jo’on tags back, not missing a beat. I’m beginning to wonder if Ran or I should step in to bring this back on topic…

“I didn’t feel a thing. No tingles, no shocks, nothing,” Jo’on decides to give a straight answer. “I hope that helps.”

“A lot, yes,” Sanae answers as the straight man, reddening Jo’on again.

Hina attempts to calm Jo’on back down again as Sanae marches back over to me, her next mission completed. She stands tall and proud, hands to her hips, awaiting my praises.

“So… what did you learn?” I tepidly ask.

“Hina does not combine with Jo’on,” she confidently answers.

“Right,” I lamely confirm. “So, if we- I know rather laxly- but if we were to extrapolate from this information…” I wave my hands, hoping for Sanae to continue my thought.

She breaks her confident pose, attempting to answer me in a way I might word it, “Hina… will at no point in the future… fuse with a god that isn’t Shion.”

“Yeah, pretty close,” I nod and praise. “Just remember that it can be any god that is basically misfortune, which Shion happens to be. The point being pestilence, and maybe curse gods depending on our definitions, are not ‘made of’ misfortune. Whatever the hell that means in the grand scheme of things…”

“What should we do next?” Sanae asks, hungry to continue her productivity with the case. At the rate she’s currently going, she’ll definitely come to a decent argument that’s sure to give those winged snobs some headache.

“For now, I think I should turn in for the day. My meds are starting to wear off,” I deflect the girl for a moment as I think of what to do with her.

“What, Eirin didn’t give you any packets?” Mokou questions me.

“Well, sure she did, but there’s no way in hell I’m taking her powders and pills without something to drink.”

“No, you can’t mix alcohol with your medications, Mr. Regis!” Sanae scolds.

“Just because I say drink doesn’t mean alcohol…” I bemoan. Perhaps alcoholism is the true affliction plaguing Gensokyo. “Here, let me give you a homework assignment. Something to keep you focused before the next time we meet. Alright?”

“Oh, uhm, sure,” Sanae accepts.

[x] “Finalize your case argument. A solid foundation should get you on the offensive from the get go.”

[x] “Make a list of plausible arguments the prosecution will use and come up with counterarguments. Being the defense doesn’t mean you need to play reactionary.”

[x] “Any fun ideas, Ran?” (Write-in)

If it’s not obvious, this is gonna be a time jump a couple days over to that little bit I mentioned in this post. If I gotta take a blunt object to bash the story over the head with, then damnit I guess I have to.

Particularly for this section I noticed it was very difficult to give a sense that all of the characters were present. Such that they have presence in a scene. It’s not been something I’ve thought much about since this is the first time I’ve had so many characters together in the story with a proper reason to be so.
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[x] “Finalize your case argument. A solid foundation should get you on the offensive from the get go.”

foundations above everything
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It's kinda funny to see how Regis and Sanae are actually similarly hotheaded.
However Regis has the years to check himself and fall back into his teaching role for the good of the "student".
The two make for a good combo.

Even Ran was sceptical, but Sanae really is a smart cookie when she reigns in the temper.
Honestly rather (vicariously) proud of the progress she's showing.

So, Hina has a "misfortune menstrual cycle" of sorts?
Please excuse the somewhat vulgar comparison, but that's what it sounded like to me.
It definitely would be interesting to see the natural effects of this in action.
Maybe we can set up a paper doll during that time and use the misfortune in that one to compare to the really dirty ones from when she was possessed?
It will likely show that this natural rise in misfortune is nothing to worry about normally.
We never actually brought up those scraps, I believe.
Well, that's fine. We did come to the conclusion this is where it likely happened, anyway.
Side note: loved stern daycare worker Hina. Incredibly precious.

We got some good research in: Jo'on is entirely unaffected and we can probably assume a curse god like the Mishaguji should be fine too.
As a preventative measure Shion probably shouldn't come to this part of the woods again, but I'd feel bad if we just told them to never get near each other ever again.
Hina sure didn't seem like she didn't mind getting along with her.

Perhaps if there's some regularity to Hina's ritual, maybe she could just inform Shion to not show up at X hour or on Y day?
Actually, for that matter, could Hina not just simply put up a sign outside of her "territory"?
If there's a regularity to her it can be a static one, but if she works entirely by feeling she can use one she can write on or otherwise adjust as neccessary.
So if Shion wants to visit she could check the sign and if it says Hina's spinning, she just comes back later.
...That's probably too optimistic. Shion's misfortune affects herself and it'd probably mess with the sign or cause her to get too close for some other reason.
A shame. I'd like for them to get along. Maybe only come over when she's with Tenshi?
Still think having a sign like that would allow for Hina to receive more guests and thus feel less lonely if said guests feel less at risk because of any misfortune leakage due to her, uh, "misfortune menstruation".

As for the options, both are perfectly valid things to focus on, but different strokes for different folks and in the case of Sanae I think giving her a solid base to work from would work best for her way of doing things.

That is not to say she shouldn't think of plausible arguments and counterarguments, but that can come after she has something to center herself so she doesn't overload herself with what-ifs.

I just want to make one small adjustment to the wording of the first option: it sounds like the event we're gonna see in a couple days could be and likely is very important to the core of the case. so instead of telling her to finalise her argument, I'd want her to have a final draft ready.
You can say this is just semantics and it probably is, but it might indicate to Sanae just how important we think Hina's misfortune leak could be.
Of course, if people disagree and think that'd just make Sanae nervous about the whole thing for no real reason feel free to voice your opinion.

Small aside, I know that asking Ran is actually the write-in option, but asking her about "fun" just to see her reaction is too tasty an opportunity to let go. Just imagine the frown she'd make at him!
Maybe it's a little mean, but they've got enough chemistry going that jabs get thrown around, right?
Besides, if for some reason she does give some serious response, it's probably worth thinking about. (That does not mean she should, of course, it's just an empty write-in for all intents and purposes.)

[x] “Finalize the draft for your case argument. A solid foundation should get you on the offensive from the get go.”
-[x] “Any fun ideas, Ran?” (jokingly)

No problem with moving the story on if it's something you want to do, Poingnant.
Just do whatever you think is best, I'm along for the ride regardless because it's been a great one so far.

As for character presence, I don't think it's necessarily bad for some character to simply be in the background during a scene when they're not currently incredibly relevant.
Sure, you can have them interject where you feel they would, as you have in the post, but I just don't think you should feel forced to do so; if that makes any sense.
For what it's worth, I think you incorporated it all rather well here.
The only time while reading initially (ie. before reading the postscript and realising it was maybe done in other places as well) where I felt like there was a...
Weird cut-in?
A break in the flow?
Not sure how to put it.
Anyway, the one time that I thought that was when Mokou wanted to step in and stop Sanae from bringing Jo'on to Hina.
An action that honestly is entirely reasonable and understandable for her to do, but I dunno, that's just how I felt about it.
On the other hand, a thing I liked alot was the banter from the peanut gallery here and there, because you can't really expect these people to sit there and be quiet, either.
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[x] “Finalize the draft for your case argument. A solid foundation should get you on the offensive from the get go.”

I give Sanae a straightforward answer, something that should be easy to follow through on. She chews on my words for a spell, deciding if it’s an easy or hard task.

“Is… -n’t that what I’m doing anyway?” Sanae questions.

“Yeah, fair point. Let me rephrase it, then. Do what you’re already doing, but work on finalizing the argument,” I explain. She seems dissatisfied by this and starts to question me again, but I halt her and continue, “Yes, yes, I know. Let me stop kidding and actually explain. You could either go after making your side of the case better or looking for ways to make the prosecution’s case worse. Does it make sense why those two would likely be mutually exclusive?”


“Like you can’t do both,” I break it down.

“Oh. I guess?” Sanae more gives up than comes to understand, but she’ll get there later.

“And that’s it?” Tenshi critiques. “Do exactly what you two have already been doing?”

“Sure,” I simply answer. “… Although. Make sure to join Sanae for whatever she might need. It’s her show, here.”

“What are you gonna be doing?” Mokou asks. I eye her a bit. She seems to be asking less out of concern for the case and more for my sake, maybe as expected.

“I will be writing the incident report before anybody else decides to, since it’ll be easy to wedge my firsthand account over the secondhand information the tengu will have,” I detail to the group. Of course, I also plan to visit Hina a couple days from now, but the rest don’t need to know that.

“Will that be enough guidance for you, Kochiya?” Ran queries Sanae.

Sanae is still unsure, so I decide to shove some words in her mouth, answering, “She’ll get there, even if she doesn’t think so right now. Why, did you have some fun idea in mind, Ran?”

Ran looks over at me, and stifles a sigh into a long breath. She judges me unfavorably, without even so much as a word, only using her eyes. I nervously laugh, hoping to play off her disappointment as a regular jab.

“Kochiya, convene here two days from this time,” Ran commands.

“Hey, Ran!” I start.

“Two days from now? Oh… right. Yes, will do,” Sanae assents without further comment.

Mokou grunts with some interest, “Something you care to share with the rest of us?”

“I’m going to be further interviewing Hina as part of my research, that’s all,” I try to deflect.

“But that will be when I need to release misfortune to the area,” Hina worries, having heard me as she walked back up to the group.

Mokou raises her eyes at me for lying so fruitlessly.

“Haah…” Mokou shrugs and sighs. “Well, I won’t get in the way, then. Not exactly like I’m immune to the stuff, either. Hell, I’d probably end up burning the house down if it’s done by then.”

Done? The entire house in that time? Do those horned men work that fast?

While I’m not paying attention, Ran starts to drag me away from the scene, bidding everyone farewell. In her usual stiffness, of course.

Over the next day I do as I said I would: write. With my one good arm I write, and write, and write. It makes a good excuse for Keine to not worry about my injury, since I still can’t tell her the real nature of it. Not yet, at least. I need to finish this next interview with Hina before I open up the floor on that can of worms.

Ran also decides to personally oversee that I’m working and not attempting any insane plans that could further stress my body. Her presence also invites some concern during a surprise visit from Byakuren. She decided to check in around the early morning because of the formal missive I sent out. Not being satisfied with completely sitting out, by her admission. My injury doesn’t escape her notice, and nor does my current house arrest under Ran’s thumb. We ease her worries, somewhat, but she does leave her prayer beads with me after mentioning that I was still planning to return to the cursed forest the next day.

Now armed just that little bit more, Ran and I arrive to Hina’s new abode in the early evening before the day of the trial. Sanae is awaiting our arrival as we touch down. She says it was a wonder to watch the oni work on the house, erecting the skeleton in no more than a couple hours after Ran and I left.

While it’s pretty amazing that three workers would be so organized to get an entire house done this fast, something else captures my attention. The wood on some of the patio beams already seem to be showing the beginning signs of weathering. That’s probably because they reused whatever good wood they found in the scrap heap, but a part of me also doubts that. I jot a note to ask how old the house is alongside my growing list of questions. I also scribble in the correction: how old the house was.

We cease the initial small talk and knock the freshly constructed door. Hina greets us merrily, maybe satisfied that I’d wanted to have a regular conversation. Or at least something not having to do with the trial. Or maybe even just showing interest in learning about her.

Even Akyuu had to send a servant to see Hina, choosing not to come out herself. While for the best, since frankly Akyuu could snap like a twig in a mean breeze, I doubt it feels good to Hina’s ego to warrant so much precaution.

Hina shakes my hand and thanks me again for the dream catcher I found, informing me that it was one of the first decorations she put up in the house. She even made sure Yamame put a proper hanger above her bed for it.

While her sentiments are appreciated, it’s a little embarrassing to hear her sing praises of a simple gift so openly. But then again, the rest of her house makes it clear that she stocks all manner of occult interest. Items that reek of dark origins, from voodoo dolls to statues of probable chthonic origins, line walls and shelves in the living room, the upstairs near her bedroom, and even the kitchen.

Sanae and I take seats at a small circular table at Hina’s request as she readies a tea kettle that has been sitting on the kitchen burner. The kitchenette strikes me as odd since it not only has a mix of modern outside world cabinets surrounding the older style of cookers used by Gensokyans, but the stove is also a model of the dirt and ceramic that would usually be integrated into the ground. I know that it’s like that because the house is raised at least a foot off the ground by supporting beams, but as to how Yamame managed to recreate such a mundane fixture almost like an art piece is something of a wonder.

Hina collects some serving dishes and apologizes for not having proper cutlery and ceramics. I think she’s being pedantic until she presents Sanae and I with thick, colorful plastic cups and trays, like what I would use when I was a child. Seeing our faces, she realizes that it must be strange for people of the outside world to look at these reclaimed articles. Sanae gives a short explanation that the kitchenware evokes more… youthful spirit, to put it kindly.

It makes perfect sense that Hina would have this, considering that her misfortune effects her own house. Any ceramic plates would have a death sentence sitting around here. I keep that thought to myself, of course.

We have tea with Hina (Ran excluding herself from being served) as she tells us the story of how she acquired the plastic finery from a group of fairies in exchange for a few paper dolls. The scene would be heartwarming, if not for the disconnect of colorful, childish cups in the same view as a well framed depiction of Baphomet.

Hina’s collection is nothing short of impressive if she’s including even pagan traditions from western cultures.

With the tea drying up, Hina notices my interest in the depiction and bids us to start the proper interview in the living room where she can explain what she knows and feels from a lot of her collection.

Our way out of the kitchen is interrupted in the doorway when I stub my toe on the framing.

“Ow!” I exclaim in surprise. “Shit that hurts. Getting clumsy in my old age…” I brush off habitually.

Hina thinks otherwise, claiming, “Oh, is it that time already? I thought we had a little longer to talk in peace.”

We disperse around the living room. More of an entrance room connected both to the kitchen and the upstairs, but still a living space with items such as sewing needles, knitting threads, and an overfilled bookshelf that would eat someones time away. As well as the many antediluvian knick knacks.

Sanae is brave enough to risk taking a wooden chair while Hina uses a padded chair hugged by the knitting materials. I, on the other hand, decide to stay where it’s safe: behind Ran and with my back to the thick bookcase. I’m not risking the support beams coming for a second strike.

Ran takes interest and investigates Hina’s previous comment, asking, “Is that to say you do not have the active period defined to the minute?”

“No, not quite, but… that’s not it, either. If I had to say…” Hina wracks her mind to come up with an explanation. She decides to go by analogy, “If I had a bucket… we can fill it with water…”

Hina pauses for a moment, prompting Sanae for an awkward, “Yeah..?”

“Yes,” Hina agrees. “That bucket with the water is like me with misfortune.”

She remains quiet again, Sanae looks back to us prompting me to ask, “And what does that mean?”

“The bucket can keep filling with water and be fine, but it’s hard to tell just how full it is at any time if you aren’t looking at it.”

“Then why don’t you just, uhm, ‘look’ at it?” Sanae asks.

“I cannot. I am the bucket,” Hina haphazardly explains with confidence.

This line of logic is starting to strike me as strange. I question with less uncertainties, “Then why doesn’t someone else look inside using a spell of some kind?”

Hina looks me square in the eyes, and eerily states, “As is often said, ‘stare into the void.’”

She’s read up on a lot of bad influences, hasn’t she?

“Then you consider yourself as the vessel more directly than initially assumed,” Ran hypothesizes. “Should that be to the extent of a sense of communication with misfortune as a form of energy?”

“Nothing like a couple days ago, let me rest your worry,” Hina is quick to deter. “However, it’s easier to tell a full bucket from an empty one, but as for when it might overfill…”

She shrugs. It seems to be on a level of normalcy to her, for all that’s worth. It’s all the more tragic that she sits here on her own with this demon, others unable to be close to her.

That said, after stubbing my toe nothing seems to have happ–

The thought is cut short by a book falling square on top of my head from the upstairs banister. Felt like it was the binding, too. I slump into Ran’s tails, who is quick to understand what happened. She weaves into a hold on my arm over her shoulder, and she helps me to one of the few empty chairs. Hina whims at the bad luck getting to me, while Sanae remains confused as to what happened behind her view.

Ran checks me over for injury as the conversation continues.

“So that’s why you could tell it was today, but not what time?” Sanae confirms what Hina last stated.

“Correct. It’s easier as it draws closer, but never quite what miss Ran may want,” Hina elaborates.

“Alright, then, what do you do on days like this?” I ask, bringing a hand to rub my skull as Ran finishes checking me.

“Well… for a long time, I thought that doing my regular ritual to draw out misfortune might be helpful. A monk once thought that I would hold it in while it clears away, like dirt in water.”

“… Wouldn’t that just make dirty water?” Sanae retorts.

“He wasn’t very good at explaining things…” Hina admits.

“But does his idea work?” I redirect to the topic.

Hina stands and answers, “Sadly, no. But it would be better to show you.”

She fishes out a paper doll from under one of her ribbons, apparently she keeps a lot on her, and asks Sanae to hold it.

“Been meaning to ask,” I interject, “sorry for bringing up the investigation, but why did you have shredded paper scraps on hand? Were they one of these paper dolls?”

“Paper scraps? Oh, yes. I had thought a malicious god buried itself inside the torn one, since I was carrying it when Shion found me in the woods. I was hoping to try and release it by force,” Hina explains.

The moment Sanae touches the intact doll an extremely faint wisp of misfortune seeps out. No more than that which would fit through a pinhole.

I suppose it would make sense that misfortune also tries to actively avoid Sanae, of all people. Her luck is her literal power, after all.

Hina seems mildly surprised by this and comments, “You truly are blessed, Sanae.”

The half goddess herself blushes, saying, “Oh. Thank you.”

“This should be even better to show, then,” Hina notes, taking a spot in the center of the seats of the room.

She spins. The ephemeral, otherworldly movement entrancing us once more. This time, however, the wisp from the doll doesn’t budge. Not even slightly. Not even while it’s being ejected to the open air already. So this is what she means. She no longer gravitates the misfortune, it’s just sitting around her at this point and doesn’t tend to move. As if it were in complete equilibrium between what she could pull and the space around her.

But something doesn’t make sense here.

“Hina,” I ask her attention, “If you have this period where you can’t absorb misfortune which you described as like a bucket with water, why would the bucket be emptied out, so to speak?”

Hina continues to spin, thinking on my question, and answers, “I… do not know. I suppose I’ve always taken it for granted. Oh my, is that bad?”

“It is unlikely that anything has changed due only to your pseudo possession by Shion,” Ran speculates.

“But what if the release doesn’t stop?” Hina worries, ceasing her spin.

No sooner does she finish her sentence do the back legs of my chair give way, tumbling me over. My head slams straight into the ground, and next thing I know the three women are surrounding me overhead.

“Wait! He’s awake again,” Sanae holds Ran off from picking me up. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

She puts up her hand and two fingers.

“Fuck off,” I reply, groggily.

“He’s actually rather rough, isn’t he?” Hina conjectures.

Ran helps me off the floor. She holds me lightly to see if I can still stand. “You overestimate your own durability, human,” Ran scolds.

“Screw off, I know,” I grunt and shove myself out of her grip.

This… was a horrible mistake. I lose my balance instantly and fall face first into the staircase.

[Please wait warmly…]

Finally got some loose ends I was worried about. I reread the original lectures from time to time only for the chapter at hand, so it can end up touch and go around the midway points. That said, I really wanted to spoil myself and think about some of what Hina’s house might be like.

Also, pardon the liberties of using western occultism as opposed to true to form eastern. I imagine Hina would have quite the interest in the historical use of goats in religious practice.
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Did Regis not bring the talismans and prayer beads with him for passive protection? Or have they already burned out?

Seems like he got a full course meal when the amulets should've weakened it considerably.
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Hina having an interest in occult objects from across the globe is a rather cute quirk.

The bucket analogy is rather apt, considering what she is.
Emptying the bucket does seem like an important piece of the puzzle.
If she does purify that which he has inside her, it'd only be a boon to the world; removing however much misfortune that is from existence.

Conversely, they are working and weakening the effects of the misfortune; with this slapstick sequence of events being only a fraction of what it would've been.
Actually rather chilling to think about.
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[… Continued]

The pain comes before the realization of consciousness. It feels as if my skull is cracking across my entire head. Even the pillow my head is on makes the feeling worse. I open my eyes more easily than time I was in a hospital bed, understanding that no amount of lying down will make the feeling go away.

To my surprise, I’m not in a hospital bed. With only a glance I can tell this is still Hina’s home. Ran stands tall beside the head of the bed. It’s an amusing sight since with the bed is stuffed into the corner and the triangular roof sloping down so much, Ran is forced to lean forward.

“He is awake,” Ran calls to the rest of the home.

I roll up in the bed, intense vertigo washing over me. I hold myself steady, Ran lending a hand as well, and sit along the edge. I don’t look up to check, but hear Hina and Sanae clamber the top of the stairs .

“How is he?” Sanae asks, noticing my lack of motion.

“Regis is highly likely to have a concussion,” Ran states. “A migraine is also possible, but it is not possible to determine how long either may last.”

Hina kneels next to me, clasping my hand and saying, “I’m so sorry that I keep doing this to you.”

“No… you’re alright,” I manage to speak out.

“Well I don’t think you’re alright,” Sanae says to me. “Ran, shouldn’t you take him to the hospital? I mean– Eientei.”

Ran puffs and answers, “Yagokoro will certainly prescribe him more pain reducers. Anti-inflammatory medicines were already prescribed. Let him feel the consequences of his choices for longer.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re always right,” I grumble to the devil woman.

Sanae stutters a bit, unsure if she wants to argue with Ran or not. I appreciate her concern for me, even if it’s undeserved.

“Tanner? How are you feeling?” Hina asks.

“Like a hammer was dropped on my head,” I answer.

“Without the amount of protection you adorned on your person, it would have been far more than a comical metaphor,” Ran warns.

We settle down for a brief moment. A welcome respite for my head, as I let it sort itself.

Sanae breaks the silence with the obvious question, “So, will he be able to go to the trial tomorrow?”

“I’ll be there,” I somewhat slur out in my haste.

Ran bickers with my answer, “He will attend so long as Yagokoro does not disagree. How helpful you may find him is an entirely separate question… Hm. Perhaps it would be best to expedite him to Eientei immediately, after all.”

“Oh?” Hina mutters as Ran shifts in front of her, moving to grab me from the bed.

I don’t bother arguing, even if Ran did leave me here I would complain nonstop to get some pain medication for my damn migraine. I’m only on a small dosage to help with my shoulder’s healing, a bit of pain tells me if something goes wrong, Dr. Yagokoro said…

I wonder if she was bullshitting me?

One trip to the clinic, and one disappointed doctor writing me off, later, and we’re back at Keine’s for the evening.

Keine is only somewhat surprised by my dangerous trip out, but is otherwise relieved that a concussion is the worst I received. Ran helps me to my room and onto the bed before stepping out for the evening, noting that she won’t be able to escort me tomorrow as she is part of the judge’s panel. We bid her a good evening and all that, leaving just Keine and I in the same room.

It’s been several days now since we last spoke about anything of importance, my work being a convenient excuse to let me get around her and go out today. Can’t really do that while she’s sitting down next to me. And the part where I’m unfit to work.

She’s not wearing her hat, so I know she isn’t going back out for the evening. I expect a very long lecture about my duplicitous behavior as seems to be half of our chats, but instead Keine starts with a question, “Tanner, why do you take your work so far?”

I’m taken aback. Not only from the simplicity of the question, but also by how Keine seems to be asking this out of concern and curiosity. For a split second I think I’m having some auditory hallucination from head trauma, but Keine stares me down with intent of an answer, so I know I didn’t mishear her.

“What do you mean ‘so far?’” I ask for clarification. My head is still reeling from a newly forming concussion, so I don’t blame myself for being a bit slow.

“You research what is asked of you, and you are expected to do it within a two week time frame. We agree on that much, right?”


“So when you aren’t able to do your job, instead of putting it off or going back and saying it’s unreasonable to work like that, you force the work.”

“Yeah, that sounds like what I’ve done,” I agree.


“Why?” I repeat her question.

“Yes, why? Why did you decide it was reasonable to follow a fairy around Gensokyo to any number of places she could have taken you? Why did you think things would go smoothly by living with the yamawaro for an entire week? Why did you obligate yourself to help resolve the misfortune miss Kagiyama was building up?” Keine barrages me with questions.

As I’m processing the questions, attempting to think of answers one by one, Keine sighs. “I just… I don’t get you,” she says.

“Well… that makes two of us,” I jest with a smile. “I don’t really get myself either. I guess I do whatever feels right. Only thing about it is that Gensokyo is a pretty messy place, so what feels right is muddy.”

“Maybe that’s it,” Keine bemuses. “Maybe you think about others before yourself to the point that you tunnel vision. Dragon knows Mokou is much the same…”

“So, why bring it up right now? Did something happen?” I caution to guess.

Keine shakes her head and replies, “No. It’s more like nothing happened that seemed unusual. I thought about when we spoke in the bamboo forest a few days ago. I thought about how I’ve been… against your modus operandi. That maybe I just don’t see your view of the world.”

“What?” I utter in shock. “What got you thinking like that? You’re right to worry about me the way you do. I constantly put myself into places I shouldn’t be without even thinking about it. I got hurt today because I didn’t take your warnings seriously!”

“But even with all of that,” Keine argues, “you still were the reason that we didn’t have Kagiyama destroy a sizable chunk of Gensokyo as a whole. Have you thought about how much damage could have happened if you didn’t need to visit her? How many days would have gone by that she was sitting in her home gaining strength? A lot of people shudder to think of the consequences that could have been…”

“Keine, that isn’t a reason that you should excuse me for my choices,” I argue back.

She seems almost sad when she says, “I think it is, though. If your choices help people– help the place we live, then wouldn’t it be wrong if I didn’t?”

That’s… a depressive state of mind. Not one that I can answer confidently against, either. It’s all too philosophical for me right now. There is something that I know, though, and that’s Keine is conflicted because of me. I sidle over to her side from the bedding, my balance barely able to handle the motion, and embrace her.

“I’m sorry,” is all I can really say. I’m not sure what I even say it for, but it just… ‘feels right.’

We sit like that for a while into the night, letting the time pass. People are right to poke fun at us, we really do have an estranged relationship. At the very least, though, we care for one another. That’s the best I can do.

The next morning rolls over with a strange mood persisting in the house. Nothing really came of our talk last night, only more concerns and confusion. For right now, though, a clear objective is at hand. Make sure the trial goes well.

I beggar Keine to have Mokou take me to the tengu village, but to my surprise she says she planned to cancel classes today to attend herself. She tells me that this trial is a lot more important than I might think it is, but doesn’t elaborate further from that.

Our journey to the tengu village takes a while, and is notably uncomfortable. It’s the first time I’ve had to be flown around by Keine, and neither of us are really in the mood to try and continue any conversation that might bring up last night, so instead we remain silent.

By the time we get to the village, we’re ushered through the area in a rush to arrive at the official’s building. There’s not even enough time for me to speculate what the various buildings in the village are for, much less memorize the layout.

The trial room is intensely official. A dimly lit wooden flat space that evokes stuffiness and atrophying bones. With two low tables a few paces into the room the rest of the space is dominated by a semicircular collection of draped seats, hiding the identity of occupants from the rest of the room. A single row of people against the wall adjacent to the entry suggest next to no public seating, and the low tables are for the prosecution and defense, not even necessarily enough space for their clients to be seated next to them.

That said, Hina sits beside Sanae without any accompanying seating arranged. Whether it be because the tengu didn’t accommodate her or because she decided to be there on a whim is hard to say. Keine helps seat me in the little open space left against the wall.

With my concussion in full swing, I can’t sit in seiza like the rest of the crowd, at least without falling over. I get a couple weird looks from the other public watchers, tengu mostly with a few kappa and yamawaro mixed in, but they decide to ignore me after spotting the cast on my shoulder.

Or… no. They start mumbling something to each other. It’s too quiet for me to catch.

“All, the proceedings will be started now,” a wizened female voice from one of the center curtain boxes calls to the room. A low amount of light from the far back wall allows a vague silhouette through the covers.

It’s not hard to spot the box Ran is sitting in, but the others aren’t as easy to place. Two of the boxes look like Yasaka is sitting in them, without her massive pillars, that is, but the rest have fairly regular builds. There is one box that has someone with an odd accessory taking up their sides. It’s a bit familiar, but it physically hurts to try to reach for things in the corners of my mind.

Speaking of… it physically hurts to think hard. Yeah maybe I shouldn’t have left the hospital… Christ I just had a conversation with Keine about getting hurt by trying to be helpful. Oh well, in for a penny.

“To those in attendance, let it be known that one member of this panel has been substituted due to injuries sustained prior to the trial,” the official woman speaks again. Wait… why would they have positioned someone who was injured for the trial? How could that have happened?

No, I could probably take a guess that the tengu did something on that end. No, that doesn’t make sense, either. Ran told me the non tengu judges were supposed to be chosen by her and Yasaka…

A second voice clears his throat, nasally and higher pitched. An older man, but hard to say if he’s older than the female by voice alone. He speaks, “As per tradition, I will now describe the basics of the proceedings so all may follow along. The apologist will present their opening statement and first argument to which the vindicator will rebuttal their own opening statement and counterargument. After this is completed the vindicator will open the second argument to which the apologist will counterargue. This will continue until both sides have concluded their points. At the beginning of an argument the presenting side may bring in witnesses for questioning. The panel have already been given the items of interest to the case...”

Fancy names. I guess it’s not surprising, though. Sanae at the ‘apologist’s’ table appears stiff as a brick. She’s been prepping for this but it’s test nerves with gross repercussions tied to them. I don’t envy her position, but even injured I would still feel better shouldering this for her. The tengu woman from the other day sits in the ‘vindicator’s’ position. She appears cool and collected, ready for a long haul.

“… And as such we will not tolerate any interruptions during the trial, regardless of their severity.”

Oh, crap. The older man was still talking. Maybe Ran wasn’t joking when she said I’d be useless like this…

“That is the end of your explanation, yes?” Ran asks. I don’t imagine she’s in a rush, but at the same time I wouldn’t put it past her to be on edge. She’s usually the one to be at the top of the pecking order.

The older man grumbles, “Nrgh, yes. Apologist, make your opening statement. Bring in a witness before the first argument, if you intend to.”

Sanae sits paralyzed, seemingly not paying attention. Hina nudges her, and even the vindicator waves an arm for her to start. She stirs, scrambling to her feet.

“Yes, of course!” Sanae starts, jogging her energy. She takes a script and carefully follows with mild practice, “The… apologist side argues Hina Kagiyama, nagashi-bina and misfortune goddess, to not merit sealing. Reasons being a lack of chance for dangerous events to occur as they did four days ago and the clear actions that can be taken should another event still occur.”

Ah, it’s felt like a while since I guided her to write that. A lot of it was convincing her that it’s fine to sound pretentious if you’re right. Also that she needs to be sure of herself that she’s right until proven otherwise.

This is only getting started, though. I need to pay attention if I’m to even pretend like I can be of use.

Good, we’re here. Now to fumble my way through a courtroom scene… yeesh. As for the obvious lack of vote… I just didn’t have any ideas here. Turns out it’s difficult to give a character agency when they’re not allowed to ‘protagonize.’ That said, the next vote should be a good one, even if you might consider me egotistical for it.

As for fun discussion: it won’t come up in the trial, so who do you think caused this and why? There’s a real answer here, and I believe you partially know the answer.
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aya tried to photograph the curse goddess and rammed into a wall
hatate tried to photograph the curse goddess (remote) and rammed into a wall
after that, the rest of tengu high command rammed into a wall trying to figure this out and their pride did the rest
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>Or… no. They start mumbling something to each other. It’s too quiet for me to catch.

uh-oh. I think Tanner/us shot ourselves in the foot here. We'll likely be used as a witness against Sanae or as an example for the consequences of Hina's misfortune.
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can't he refuse to testify? i know in 'murika you can refuse to testify if you know you will implicate yourself but could tanner refuse to testify if it will implicate hina?
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