Okay, okay, never mind. It's none of my business. Hina and Itchy were just having a private moment, and no doubt she was just sharing some advice with him, or offering a few words of encouragement. It's not like she was flirting with the blushing, clearly fascinated male tengu who, when you really take a look at him, is actually kind of handsome.
Of course not! This has nothing to do with me! So there's no reason for me to feel all wary and curious, and vaguely eager to throw Ichiro to the floor and demand answers. Nope. Nuh-uh.
I'm sure it was nothing. Really. Besides, I can ask her about it later. And Ichiro probably needs some time to think things over. I can talk to him later about, you know, disrupting tengu society as we know it. Right now, I think I should do my chosen job and actually try to mingle with the people here and improve business. Gotta make the opening day as good as we possibly can, right?
I spare a glance for two of the more familiar figures in the room, but Tokiko is already talking to Lily, trying to persuade the fairy to do something while Lily hunkers down in her black robe, shaking her head obstinately. Meanwhile, the flow of people here is starting to slow down. This fills me with new determination.
This is Hina's big break. I'm damn well gonna make it a good day for her!
With one final glance at my beautiful, spinning goddess, I march out front to do my job. It's time to lay on the charm and act like a shrine maiden.
"...I dunno, I've hear some bad things about this Hina lady," the old man rumbles. He stands out in the front courtyard with his wife, rubbing his chin while the two of them give the Mikami Shrine suspicious looks.
"Good sir, all you have heard are baseless rumors!" I say calmingly. "After all, just look at all that Lady Kagiyama has done to try and lower misfortune in Gensokyo. Spreading knowledge of techniques to rid people of misfortune, sending out paper dolls, the whole nine yards! All she wants to do is make life better for people. Isn't a simple donation and a little appreciation worth having all of your misfortune taking away?"
The man mutters to himself while his wife raises her hand. "What about all the misfortune she gathers to herself? Won't that spread to us?"
"Lady Kagiyama is far from being infectious," I laugh, forcing a professional smile onto my face. "Think about it: she absorbs misfortune. How can you possibly be worried about something like that? Why, if she were to hold your hand, the misfortune would simply flow out of you and in to her!"
The elderly couple nod at this, thinking it over, when Sukuna bounds up and onto my shoulder. "Please consider the Mikami Shrine for your day-to-day needs!" The inchling chirps happily. "Consider offering them a prayer in your simple endeavors, and they will help you get through the day!" She hands a pair of flyers to the couple, who gape at her in amazement.
"So cute..." the woman whispers. "A tiny miko."
The old man tilts his head. "Youkai shrine maidens?"
I shake my head sadly. "Isn't it terrible, that the fine ladies Minoriko, Shizuha, and Hina have been neglected for so long? Especially when they have so much to offer!"
"At the very least, please come look at the shrine and have a refreshing snack!" Sukuna pipes up. She bows politely to the couple, who stare at her, then at me, at each other, and finally at Sukuna again.
Then they shrug. "May as well take a look," the old man mutters, and his wife nods eagerly. Together, the two of them make their way into the shrine. I smile at Sukuna and pat her on the head, causing the inchling to purr happily.
"Nice work, Sukuna," I tell her with a thumbs-up.
"Nice work too, Aya!" the tiny miko says happily.
"...So where's my miko outfit?" I ask with a grin.
Sukuna's response is to get very pale. "All the fabric... that would take me forever to stitch!" The inchling looks positively horrified at all of the work that would take. I just shrug in disappointment. Oh well.
"So, I've been having terrible luck, lately," a young man says in in the central building, looking sheepish.
"Please go and see Hina! She's right down the middle hallway," I tell him cheerfully. The man nods in appreciation, and is quickly replaced by a rugged-looking man.
"I hear that Lady Aki is holding court today," he says to me. "Can you tell me where to find 'er?"
"Lady Minoriko?" I ask, taking in his appearance. Probably a farmer. As expected, he nods in response. "Off to the left, sir!" In his wake, a small, bookish-looking individual steps up.
"I hear that the vistas here are quite something to look at, and would like to try sketching them?" he says uncertainly.
"You want to see Lady Shizuha," I say understandingly. "Down the hall to your right!"
An older man is next. "I'm getting older, and I just don't know how to deal with all that's going on. Kids moving out, all this new stuff coming in from the Outside..." he sighs.
I give him a sympathetic smile and nod. "These things happen, and life changes all thing. You should also go speak to Lady Shizuha." After directing him, I send a couple of people wanting to start a business off to see Minoriko. Then convince a few other nervous souls to go talk to Hina. A few more artists and poets go off to talk to Shizuha, while a few people just want to look around the shrine and have a drink. Then there was this woman who couldn't get one of her kitchen drawers open. After a moment, I suggested she go to Hina to get her misfortune removed, then ask one of the craftsmen visiting Minoriko to help repair it for the future.
Being a shrine maiden for three goddesses is hard work!
Minoriko is trying very hard not to laugh. Several of the patrons aren't even putting in the effort.
"Pam... please stop," Marisa moans in embarrassment.
"But I love you soooooo much~!" The drunken fairy sings, her arms locked around Marisa's neck. "You're so great, and I wanna make our new business a success, and sell all kinds of neat things, and get lotsa money, and have a big family, and I'll cook steak every night, and and and-"
Oh boy. Drunken, amorous fairies. Poor Marisa. They came here looking for business advice, and the smaller woman got a little carried away with the drink. Smiling sympathetically, I hand Marisa a glass of strong booze, which she takes gratefully... and hands to Pameel.
"Ooh, more of the good stuff!" Pam enthuses, downing it all in one shot. She blinks, flushed and quite happy. Then she passes out in Marisa's arms.
The witch sighs with relief. "Yeesh... this always happens whenever she has too much to drink."
"This is a common occurrence, then?" I ask innocently.
Marisa glares back at me. "Not a word of this to anyone, crow."
I stare at her. "I'll hold my tongue, but um..." I gesture to the smirking crowd surrounding Minoriko, who are watching the scene with varying degrees of amusement. Meanwhile, Pameel starts to mumble in her drunken stupor and starts grabbing for Marisa's chest. The witch facepalms.
After a while, I manage to get the two of them to a private veranda where the fairy can sleep off her stupor, and Marisa can regain her dignity. Meanwhile, Minoriko starts to lecture people on the virtues of privacy. I'd feel sorry for Marisa, but given the fond way she brushes hair away from the sleeping Pameel's face, I don't think it's necessary.
Shizuha's wing is the quietest of the three, unsurprisingly. It has beautiful vistas of the autumnlands, and Shizuha is speaking to the people, explaining how acceptance and appreciation of natural cycles is a virtue. A lot of her listeners are elderly people, young married couples, and people expecting children. Off to the sides, a few people are taking the opportunity to make quick sketches of the summerlands. Shizuha is trying to angle herself as a patron of the arts, so this is a good start. I do notice a couple of people talking about poetry in one corner, and some girl with pink hair is speaking with an animated elderly woman.
For some reason, the girl with pink hair never changes her facial expression, remaining blank even as she emotes with her hands. Weird.
Still, things seem to be under control in here. Shizuha pretty much attracts the more sedate bunch. Except for one weirdo who keeps drawing nude sketches of Shizuha. I suggest to him that angering goddesses might not be the best idea, and he quickly smartens up.
Hina is gorgeous.
What more can I say?
Still, I help out a bit by encouraging people to let Hina draw their misfortune out, and shuttle those lingering around back out front with suggestions that they take in the rest of the shrine. And also let their friends know just how great Hina is.
No sign of Tokiko or Lily Black, though. I wonder what that was all about?
Still, I wish I could get Hina to wear a miniskirt. That would make her rituals so great~!
"Oh, geeze, I'm so tired," I groan, slumping down on a bench outside. "Serving three goddesses simultaneously is hard work." Sukuna just groans where she lays sprawled out on my head. The inchling is pretty tired out, too.
The day was busy, to put it mildly. I was running around from one wing, to another, back out front, then inside again, back and forth all day long. I sure hope this qualifies as a successful opening day, because I think we've all earned it.
I look on as the last remaining petitioners of the day wander back down the road leading to the village. It's still far from sunset, but I guess not many people would really want to be stuck outside at night in Gensokyo. Local dangers, and all that.
Still, a few people do stick out to me. Marisa is lugging Pameel back home, and looks to be having a bit of a hard time of it, what with how the fairy keeps clinging to her. I see Tokiko talking animatedly with Lily Black, gesturing at the shrine emphatically while the fairy just shakes her head adamantly. After a bit, the fairy just waves Tokiko off and starts walking down the path while Tokiko watches her leave with a huff. The odd girl with pink hair is staring at the shrine with a blank expression on her face, while I see Ichiro perched on a tree branch, lost in meditation. I guess I could go talk with one of them.
On the other hand, I'm beat. This bench is so comfy, and I could just sit here and talk to Sukuna. Then again, I kinda want to go check on the Mikami, too. It's been a really long day for them, after all.
[ ] Help Marisa lug Pameel home. [ ] Go after Lily Black. You wonder what was going on, there. [ ] Talk with Tokiko. How's the ibis holding up? [ ] Who is that strange girl? [ ] Talk to Ichiro about... things. [ ] Just sit here and chill with Sukuna. [ ] Go check on the Mikami.
[X] Go after Lily Black. You wonder what was going on, there.
[X] Have Sukuna go talk to the strange pink haired girl
The only time that I can remember reading about Lily Black was in Hakugyokuro LA, which I'm going to guess you're drawing some inspiration from for her potential character.
The impression that I got of her was that she was kinda depressing. It seemed to me that she was the kind of person that had experienced so much misfortune in her life that she had become resigned to it, that she almost deserved it. Naturally this led to her being a pretty grumpy person which led to people avoiding her in a cycle of loneliness and misfortune.
While >>25152 is right in that Kokoro is a shoe in for our religion, Lily Black is the kind of person that NEEDS the help of the Mikami if she's ever going to be happy. Which is why Sukuna should go talk to Kokoro, and possibly make a new friend, and Aya should go talk to Lily Black
[x] Easy mode: strange girl. Go mini shrine maiden! [x] Hard mode: Black terror. Aya, I choose you!
I just realized that putting a faith about accepting change in a land full of traditional Japanese hunters who are living In a time where their predators are changing to neighbors is an excellent idea. Talk about dumb luck.
I wonder if this could lower the amount of Human-Youkai incidents ? That would make byakuren and reimu happy.
> Then there was this woman who couldn't get one of her kitchen drawers open. After a moment, I suggested she go to Hina to get her misfortune removed, then ask one of the craftsmen visiting Minoriko to help repair it for the future. I don't think Anoia exists in Gensokyo, so I guess that lady will just need to live with it. Sometimes you don't find the perfect fit and need to settle for a lesser solution.
Y'know if Aya can properly get over her fear of oni she could go get big papa to come over and carry out services in Shizuha's wing. From marriage it's just a short hop to tying in 'love' as a 'change' and boom Shizuha's a love goddess. If that doesn't bring believers in droves nothing will. And shenanigans. Plenty of that already but we can always do with more.
(That and I kinda wanted an excuse to see how Koa's and the Alfreds' love lives are developing.)
Okay... time to arbitrate. There's a 6-6 tie between going to talk the 'the pink-haired girl,' and 6 votes for sending Sukuna to talk to her while Aya goes and speaks to Lily Black. Beyond these, there are two more votes for going to talk to Lily Black, and one vote for Sukuna talking to the strange girl while Aya talks to Ichiro. Plus, two lonely little votes for Ichiro and Tokiko.
So, I'm gonna arbitrate for >>25154's plan, since it seems to satisfy most of the voters, and will start writing soon.
I sigh. A shrine maiden's job is never done, it seems. Now I know how Reimu feels. Well... I'll talk to the Mikami later, Ichiro probably needs some time to think things over, Marisa seems have have slung Pameel over her broom, and Tokiko looks fine. On the other hand, Lily Black is just skulking down the pathway while that other girl just keeps staring at the shrine blankly. Right then.
"Sukuna, you wanna go talk to our pink-haired friend over there? I wanna talk to the fairy in black." I shake my head a bit to wake up my companion, who perks up at my voice.
"Sure thing, Aya!" Sukuna says cheerfully, standing up and stretching. Bouncing off my head, she hurries over to the strange girl. A youkai, maybe? Or just a human with an odd hair color? I have no idea. Anyway, I have someone else that I'd like to talk to.
Standing up and taking a quick stretch myself, I hop into the air and speed over to where Lily Black is stomping away from the shrine, glaring down at the ground as if willing it to disappear. I set myself down a few feet in front of her, waiting for the fairy to notice me. Which she does- mere moments before walking into me. And her head's at my chest-level, too... slapstick moment, wasted!
The fairy in black screeches to a halt and blinks at my chest for a moment before looking up at me. Scowling a bit, she heaves a sigh. "What the hell do you want, tengu?"
Well, we're off to a good start, here.
Over the top of Lily's head, I notice Tokiko looking at us hopefully. Sukuna is speaking to the strange girl, chattering at her excitedly. The girl in question remains impassive, but she seems to be giving Sukuna an awful lot of attention. Also, just for a moment, I think I see some sort of ethereal mask slide over her face before disappearing. That's unusual. Still, I need to keep my attention on my subject.
I smile down at Lily Black. "Hey there! I noticed you hanging around the shrine today. What brings you here?"
Lily jerks her thumb sullenly back at Tokiko. "My 'acquaintance' back there dragged me over here, saying she wanted to check it out with me. I was humoring her. Doesn't mean I want to buy into this stuff, you know what I mean?"
"I didn't know that you and Tokiko were friends," I muse.
The fairy tugs her hat down sharply, trying to conceal an embarrassed blush. "Blame Marisa and her insane family. The two of us got roped into something really stupid and... you know what? No. The less I have to think about it, the better. Short version, me and Tokiko starting hanging out after that, and I'm here today. Now I'm leaving. Bye." The fairy starts to stomp her way past me.
"So, you know about what happened with her and Rinnosuke?" I ask, stopping Lily in her tracks.
She glares back at her, but her anger seems muted somehow. "...Of course I do," she says quietly. "When it got out just how badly she got played, the poor girl was inconsolable. I mean, I did what I could for her, but..." Lily looks away, but not quick enough for me to not notice the regret in her eyes. "In the end, it took some wacked-out Oni to cheer her up again. Some friend I am, huh?"
"Tokiko must think so, if she hangs around you this much," I point out.
Lily turns to glare at me. "Listen, tengu. I don't need your half-assed... sympathy..." the fairy trails off and stares behind me, a confused expression on her face. I turn around to see for myself and...
Well, the girl in pink is doing some sort of formalized dance with blue fans in either hand, kabuki I think, while Sukuna keeps bouncing from fan to fan to the girl's head, and back again. Sukuna is laughing merrily, while the girl is impassive. On the other hand, there's a happy-looking mask on the side of her head that seems to have come out of nowhere, so... maybe that means something?
I shake my head. Best to let Sukuna handle it. "Lily, I consider myself an officer of this shrine, and you came in here clearly needing help. I'm not going to apologize for being concerned and wanting to help. You don't have to donate or worship here if you don't want to, but I'm willing to listen to you in total confidence, if you want me to."
I get a suspicious look in return. "And you're gonna keep it all under your hat?"
I shrug. "Well, my reporting days are pretty much behind me. Besides, I'm not too happy with some of my past actions. I was a fool. Incidentally, if I ever did something to hurt you personally, I am truly, truly sorry for it." I bow deeply.
Lily just stares at me, mouth slightly agape. "Holy shit. What happened to you?" she wonders out loud.
I straighten back up. "I forced myself to confront my past. It sucked, but it let me change my life around a bit. Now I'm trying to do better, in everything."
Lily stares at me for a long moment. "So that story in the paper was the truth?" I nod solemnly. "Huh." For a long moment, the black-clad fairy just stares at me. Then she heaves a sigh and lets her bitterness fade for a moment, leaving a fairy who just looks a little bit tired and forlorn. "Look, it's nothing you can help with, alright? It has nothing to with luck, and it has nothing to do with needing change. It's just how things are."
"What things?" I ask. Lily starts to speak, but is interrupted by peals of laughter coming from behind me. The two of us both look, and see that the girl with the pink hair appears to have manifested a bunch of masks from thin air, and is rotating them at random speeds in front of her. Sukuna is bounding from mask to mask, looking like she's having a ball. A mask with a laughing expression is affixed firmly to the girl's face.
"Who the hell are they?" Lily wonders in disbelief.
"Sukuna's an inchling who stays here," I explain. "Dunno about the other girl. A youkai, maybe?" I shake my head and turn back to Lily. "Anyway, what were you saying just now? What's this about how things are?"
"My sister's the energetic one that everybody loves, and I'm the surly one that everybody forgets," Lily Black says flatly. "Sis is the one who gets all of the attention during the daytime, and I'm the one everybody wants to fuck off at night. Get it now? Plus, what the hell is a herald of spring going to do at a shrine devoted to autumn?"
Technically, Hina isn't affiliated with autumn, but I'm not doing to quibble over the point. Still, I have to wonder what she means by that. "Lily, I don't think anybody's ever had a problem with you, as least as far as I can tell. Actually, a lot of people weren't too clear on what exactly you did. Care to clarify?"
The fairy heaves a sigh. "Look, you know how fall has those two goddesses associated with it?" I nod. "Letty's got the winter, because all everyone thinks about is snow. Yuuka looks after summer alone, because summer looks after itself. But spring has two heralds: one for the daytime, one for the night. You can probably guess which one I represent." She tugs at her dress.
"So what?" I ask.
"You know how Sis flies around screaming about how spring is here at the top of her lungs all day long during spring?"
"Uh, yeah," I nod. It makes her something less than popular, some days.
"Well, I used to be just as enthusiastic, and did the exact same thing. At night." I get a significant look. "Turns out that people don't appreciate that as much. And between having shit thrown at me, and being chased down by ravenous youkai, my enthusiasm took a real hit, real early."
I stare at the fairy. "Lily, maybe you would have figured out that waking people up at night was a really bad idea?"
"Oh, I got that through my head pretty quickly," The fairy admits. "But it brings back the main point: springtime is a daytime event. At night, when the nights are shorter no less, people are too busy being asleep to give a fuck. People don't even know what I'm for, and those that do think that Sis could do all of the work on her own. So yeah. The job I was literally born to do, that is my actual purpose, and people think I'm unnecessary. Which I probably am." She sighs, looking sad and resigned. "It's nothing that can be changed, okay? It's just how things are, and I've gotten used to it. I can live with people thinking I'm a total bitch." The fairy falls silent, and the two of us stand there for a moment, lost for words. From the sounds of things, Sukuna's having a great time, at the very least.
Lily looks up at me. "Listen... thanks for trying. But there really isn't a whole hell of a lot you can do for me. I don't belong here. So I'm just gonna take off before I gloom up the whole place. Oh, and..." she hesitates. "I'm glad you're doing better these days. It's a big improvement over how you used to be. Keep it up." With a final wave, Lily Black turns to leave.
[ ] Say something to her (write-in) [ ] Let her go.
>>25175 [x] "People aren't exactly appreciative of your sister's behaviour either, you know. They're just usually too busy to do anything about it. And like you said, at night, they're asleep. But what if you gave them a reason to stay up?"
[x] You've been throught a lot and I can't even pretend to understand what it must feel like-but I know someone who might. Someone who was also unappreciated for what she was literally born to do. Someone who also had to grow up at the shade of a more popular sister. I think a talk with her will do you some good, if you're willing. -[x] Led her to Shizuha.
Both these votes make really good points. I say we put them together.
[X] "You realize all the attention your sister gets is usually along the lines of 'Holy mother of flying fucks random fairy blitz I'm gonna dieeee!'? Anyway that's besides the point. You've been through a lot and I can't even pretend to understand what it must feel like-but I know someone who might. Someone who was also unappreciated for what she was literally born to do. Someone who also had to grow up at the shade of a more popular sister. For the longest time she was just the Goddess of autumn's changing leaves. Now? She's the goddess of the natural changes in life, from birth, growth, marriage, to death itself. So spring is just a daytime thing you say? I say take a leaf out of her book, no pun intended, and make spring a night time thing. Heard of night time flower viewing? Or fireworks on the lunar new year or spring festival? Heck, there's the Walpurgis night if you're desperate. Anyway, best You see this firsthand." [×]Take her to Shizuha.
You know, I see all this fanart of Lily Black, but I see no evidence of an actual Lily Black in any Touhou game, the mangas or databook-things. Is she entirely a fanmade character, or something? I don't particularly mind; much of Touhou is created entirely by fans, anyway. I'm just curious.
[X] "You realize all the attention your sister gets is usually along the lines of 'Holy mother of flying fucks random fairy blitz I'm gonna dieeee!'? Anyway that's besides the point. You've been through a lot and I can't even pretend to understand what it must feel like-but I know someone who might. Someone who was also unappreciated for what she was literally born to do. Someone who also had to grow up at the shade of a more popular sister. For the longest time she was just the Goddess of autumn's changing leaves. Now? She's the goddess of the natural changes in life, from birth, growth, marriage, to death itself. So spring is just a daytime thing you say? I say take a leaf out of her book, no pun intended, and make spring a night time thing. Heard of night time flower viewing? Or fireworks on the lunar new year or spring festival? Heck, there's the Walpurgis night if you're desperate. Anyway, best You see this firsthand." [×]Take her to Shizuha.
>> In many NSFW content as well as some simple dirty jokes related to Lily White, people sometimes refer to how "prostitution" (売春) in Japanese literally means to "sell spring". In fact, "to sell spring" (春を売る) means to become a prostitute
"I'd like to point something out," I say quickly as Lily starts to walk away. I can't just leave it like this. I've seen people give up completely (hell, I've done it myself), and something inside of me just screams out at the sight of this... sheer despair. I have to do something, dammit! Say something! I can't just leave things like this and act like I couldn't have done anything! I have to at least say something, even if it turns out to have been in vain. At least then, someone will have cared.
Lily Black halts and turns back to me with a sigh. "Yeah, what?" she asks, looking bored.
I clear my throat. "Your sister drives everybody up the godsdamned wall every spring."
Lily chokes a bit on her laughter, trying to hold it back. After a moment, she just gives up and lets a few chuckles out. "Yeah, yeah, she does," the fairy admits. "Don't I know it. Not really the point thought, is it?"
"Well, no," I admit. Never mind that Lily White, every single spring, goes around shouting out the virtues of her season all day long, every single day, usually while blasting magical fireworks around like mad. This Lily is right, it's bit beside the point. "You're more concerned that even with all of that, she's still considered somebody, and you aren't. Am I pretty much on the mark?"
She shrugs. "Yeah, you are. And it's something I've gotten used to." She gives me a dark look. "Also? Sis may be irritating, but she's still my damned sister. So watch what you say about her, okay?"
I raise my hands in a gesture of peace. "No problem. Your sister, your right to complain about her." Lily Black nods, satisfied at that. "Also, that thing about you 'getting used to it?' Bullshit."
The fairy's eye twitches. "And how do you figure?"
"Because if you didn't care about it, you wouldn't be surly all the time and frustrated about it," I point out.
Lily Black glares back at me and closes her eyes. "...Fine. My life sucks, nobody gives a damn about me, and it's hard to take sometimes. Whatever. It's something I'm trying to get used to. Sue me for trying to keep a tiny little bit of optimism in my life."
"What I mean is that you've been through a lot of disappointment in your life," I press on, trying to drill through her shell of bitterness. "I'm not going to claim that I know what you've been through. I don't. Just like you don't know what I've been through, or either of us really know what Tokiko's been through. We've all had troubles, but they've been different troubles, you understand what I'm saying?"
Lily sighs and folds her arms. "Well, at least you aren't trying to pretend otherwise there. Where are you going with this?"
"I know someone who knows exactly what you've been through," I say with certainty. "Someone who went unappreciated for what she was literally born to do for years. Somebody who grew up in the shadow of her brighter, more popular sister."
Lily looks at me thoughtfully for a moment, then her eyes track behind me to the shrine. She raises an eyebrow. "Wait, wait... you mean leaf girl?"
I nod. "Absolutely. I mean, just think about it. For years, Shizuha was only the goddess of autumn's changing leaves. She barely existed during the rest of the year, and even when she did, her sister was the one everybody cared about, talked to, worshiped." I snort. "Actually, her attitude reminded me of yours."
Lily frowns. "You're using past tense here. Judging from the shrine, things have changed up a bit."
"Damned right," I snort. "Shizuha's redefined herself, and it's taking really well. She is still a goddess of autumn, and of changing leaves. That'll never change. But she's also the goddess of natural changes in life. Stuff like being born, growing up, getting married, having a family, all the way to death itself. She's also a patron of artists of all types."
The fairy nods slowly. "Okay, I can see that. But uh, I'm not an actual goddess, in case you hadn't noticed." She gives me a dirty look.
"Then it'll be even easier for you!" I insist. "Look, you're sick of people overlooking you? Then do something about it instead of just sitting there and being angry! Do something active and exciting! Like, night time flower viewing, or fireworks on the lunar new year. Hell, it's the perfect time for nighttime spring festivals! You're a herald of spring at night? Great! Just do something a little more productive than flitting around and screaming 'Spring is here!' at the top of your lungs!" I shrug. "Hell, I read about something called Walpurgis Night that people from the west do. My point is, there are ways to do your job that would make you a lot more appreciated if you just gave it a shot."
I take a moment to catch my breath, while Lily just gapes at me, speechless. "So... what, I'm supposed to be a party fairy or something?" she asks hesitantly.
"Why the hell not?" I ask. "People in Gensokyo love festivals, and you know it. So take advantage of it! Have fun with your job! I mean, all you need to do is throw a party once or twice during the spring and you're pretty much set, you know what I mean? You're a night fairy, so act like one."
Lily fidgets uncomfortably. "Well... I'm not exactly the most social girl out there..."
"That's just an excuse," I snort. "Get some people together, and mention you want to throw a spring festival. People will crawl over themselves for a chance to party. Get some fairies to act all cheery and energetic for you, and just try to have fun. Boom, you're done. You've made your mark, and people will know all about Lily Black and be happy to see you. All you have to do is do it!"
Lily just stands there, looking unconvinced, and I shake my head in frustration. "Fine. Never mind resources, Lily, you'll have an easier time putting together a party than a religion. The key issue is letting some hope in and trying to improve yourself, to grow out of your shell. And you wanna see how that can happen?" I grab her wrist. "I'll show you. Come on."
"Wha... hey!" Lily protests as I start dragging her towards the shrine. I ignore her. Not exactly very diplomatic, but I've come to the conclusion that some people require a bit more force than others. Worst case scenario, she complains about the pushy tengu, which people already see me as. Still, Tokiko gives us both an encouraging smile as we walk past, which seems to quiet Lily down.
Then there's Sukuna. The inchling has gone into full charm mode, and is currently telling the bland-faced petitioner all about her heroic deeds, intermixed with the occasional compliment. The girl with the pink-hair just stares down at Sukuna, head titled slightly. Still, she seems to be listening intently. Well, whatever works.
A few minutes later, I walk into the living room in the Mikami's personal living quarters, and see a scene of utter exhaustion. Hina is sitting on the couch, looking very tired, and yet very fulfilled. She even has a silly grin on her face, and her eyes are slightly glazed. Minoriko is slumped in a chair, fast asleep, while Shizuha sits on the ground by her sister's feet, resting her head in Mino's lap. Shizu's awake, but bleary-eyed.
Lily takes in the Mikami with an expression of interest. "Busy day?"
"You saw for yourself," I shrug.
Shizuha blinks and looks up at our entrance. "Aya, can we close for the day... eh?" She blinks as she recognizes my companion. "...Springtime?"
Lily snorts. "Hey, leaf girl. Been a while."
Shizuha shrugs. "We don't really meet up that often. What are you doing here?"
I pat Lily on the shoulder. "The two of you seem to have quite a few things in common. Got a minute to spare for her?"
The fairy heaves a sigh, looking skeptical, but Shizuha perks up, looking interested. After a moment, the leaf goddess nods. "Yeah, sure." Getting to her feet, Shizu gestures Lily deeper into the house. "C'mon, you want a drink?"
Lily hesitates, but finally nods. "Well, why not. Anything to get your tengu off of my case." The dark fairy wanders off after Shizuha, leaving me alone in the room with a sleeping Minoriko and a dazed, happy Hina.
Screw it. I'm taking the rest of the day off.
Tiredly, I make my way over and plop down on the couch next to Hina. The misfortune goddess cuts her eyes at me and smiles slightly. I chuckle and wave back.
Then she lets her head fall into my lap.
Hina giggles up at me. "Comfy~!"
"Er..." I try. Oh man, her hair is brushing against my legs, and it is so soft! Calm down, Aya. You just have a beautiful woman's head in your lap. It's not something to get excited about.
It's totally something to get excited about. But calm down anyway.
Hina stretches languidly, getting comfortable. She looks up at me, face slightly flushed and looking happy and content. "Busy day," she notes.
"Uh, yeah," I get out.
Oh geez, what should I say?
[ ] Ask about her day. [ ] Talk about future plans. [ ] ...So, like, what was that deal with Ichiro? [ ] HAIRSOSOFTPRETTYLADYOHMAN [ ] Write-in
Another wonderful update! I'm sorely tempted to go for HAIRSOSOFTPRETTYLADYOHMAN just to see what happens but...
[x] Check that Mino is properly asleep. Then ask, "Hey, Hina, what say we go celebrate? We can talk about your day, your future plans. And we can have a toast to day one and all the days to follow and all that? Just us, the way it started?" Look serious about it, none of the usual lustful silly grins.
A good time to get closer to our favourite goddess. Failing that...
[x] "Yeah, busy day. Now time for a busy night. Let's set some partying traditions!"
[x] Touch fluffy goddess. (Gently.) [x] Ask about her day and future plans.
Basically just some small talk while stroking her hair. Nobody here is in the mood for a party today. They're all worn out and tired, so let's keep it down.
>>25208 Actually, the real walpurgis night is not at all ominous. We still celebrate it here in Sweden, where it is called "Valborg". (Blew my mind when I found out they were the same.) Valborg is just a big bonfire and people singing "spring carols", basically. Also some fireworks. The modern version of it is just a celebration of the arrival of spring, celebrated on April 30th/May 1st, but it used to have some folklore attached to it about scaring off "witches and evil spirits" with the fire and noise.
It isn't the most poetic thing that I could say. But it's awfully hard to think right now, what with how tired I am from the long day, and the fact that I have a beautiful goddess laying down on my lap. The sensation of her silky hair brushing against my upper legs is a tad... distracting, to say the least.
"Hm?" Hina looks up at me curiously.
I cough. Oh gods. Oh Hina. You are so lovely, and you pulled me out of a bad spot, and you are so beautiful, and right now I
do stuff with you.
Okay, wind back a bit, Aya. You've been a bit stressed out lately, and granted I could probably use a little bit of... release, but I don't think that just propositioning Hina out of the blue would go over all that well. At best, she'd think I was joking and laugh it off. At worst... well, I have a good thing going here, and really don't wanna fuck it up, you know?
"Aya, are you all right?" Hina gives me a worried look, and reaches up to place a soft hand on my forehead. I think her skin is even softer than her hair, if that's possible. "You feel a little warm, and your face is red," the goddess comments, voice full of concern. "You didn't work yourself sick today, did you?"
"I, I'm fine!" I sputter, trying to ignore the feeling of soft Hina against my body. "I mean, you're the one turning as red as your dress!" I blink. "Uh, actually, are you feeling all right, Hina? Today, wasn't too much for you, was it?"
Now it's Hina's turn to look embarrassed. She glances away at shifts awkwardly. "No, no. I'm fine. I just, uh, absorbed a lot of misfortune today, is all. Not to mention received a lot of faith. It, um... well, it has a bit of an effect on someone like me, you know?" She coughs nervously.
I'm tempted to pursue this line of questioning, but something tells me that it might be a tad too much for me right at the moment. Instead, I let the subject drop and avert my eyes from Hina. It doesn't hep all that much; I can still feel her presence. Her soft, warm presence. Her soft, silky hair, gliding across my skin as she turns her head just ever so slightly...
I give up. I have to do something or else I'm going to pop here. And so I do.
I start stroking Hina's hair, running my fingers through the goddess's luxuriant green locks. In response, Hina heaves out a groaning sigh, and relaxes in my lap, a peaceful smile spreading across her face.
Yep. Hina's voice is not helping things one bit. But stroking her hair... is calming me, a bit. So I think this will be okay. All right, I just need to clear my mind, and not think of Hina in a miniskirt...
Okay, don't think of Hina in a bikini-
Really don't think of Hina in expensive lingerie, sprawled out and waiting for me on the bed-
This is hard.
Laughing to myself, I shake my head and lean back on the couch, still stroking Hina's hair. Hoo boy. Gonna have to figure out a way to let out some stress. Preferably in a way that won't alienate my new patrons. Oh well. This is nice too.
Hina sighs happily. "That feels nice."
"I'm glad," I reply, looking back down at her. "So, how'd your day go?"
"It was great~!" Hina sings. She looks up at me excitedly. "I mean, seriously! Today was so amazing! At first, people were a little nervous around me, but I talked to them and let them know what I was really like, and then this guy let me take all of his misfortune and told everyone else how great he felt! Then some other people let me help them, and some more, and some more, and everybody started talking to me and they were so nice..." she has to stop her gushing and gasp for breath, but beams up at me regardless. "Today was fantastic! I actually feel like I'm helping people for the first time in... forever!"
I smile back, feeling warm inside. I did it. I really managed to help Hina. Seeing her so happy, and knowing I had something to do with it... it just makes me feel all warm inside, you know? Maybe this is how Hina feels whenever she takes someone's misfortune away; that knowledge that you've honestly made someone's life a bit better.
Plus, I know that she likes the taste of the stuff.
"So, a big step forward?" I ask.
She nods, closing her eyes in contentment. "Mmm-hmm. The way things are going, I really will be able to grant people good fortune. It feels good. Real good." She hiccups a little bit, and looks up at me in embarrassment. "Actually... I don't think I've ever had that much misfortune all at once. I... don't look fat, do I?" She grabs her waist nervously.
I can't help it. I just burst into laughter, causing Hina to glare up at me. "Sorry, sorry..." I snicker, trying to get a hold of myself. "I'm sorry! It's just... really, Hina? I never knew that misfortune was fattening."
Hina nudges me sharply in the gut, but a smile starts to cross her face as well. "Okay, maybe it isn't. But as full as I feel, I couldn't help but wonder, you know?" She sighs again. "I feel like I just had a banquet. And I'm so tingly with the feeling of peoples' gratitude~!" The goddess on my lap giggles.
Yeah, you're not the only one feeling tingly right now, Hina.
Hina is silent for a moment, then looks up at me. "...Thanks," she says quietly.
"Hm?" I glance down at her.
Hina clears her throat. "For everything. I mean, if you hadn't showed up, I would probably still be on the mountain, hating my life. Then you showed up, opened up to me and..." she throws her arms wide. "...All of this happened. So thank you. For everything." Hina's face is still a bit flushed from all of the misfortune that she's ingested today. It makes her kind of cute, honestly.
I just shrug evenly. "It goes both ways. If you hadn't put some pressure on me, I never would've taken a good long look at myself, and maybe would have never confronted my past. So, thanks to you too. For making me a better person, I mean."
Hina just smiles up at me, nodding. I realize after a minute that I've been stroking her hair all this time. For a long minute the two of us just sit there quietly. After a moment that seems interminable, Hina yawns loudly. "I think I need to go to bed," she says wearily.
Can I come with you? "Yeah, me too," I say out loud with a yawn of my own.
Hina sits up on the couch and looks over at me for a moment. Her face is so pretty. Slowly, Hina gets to her feet. "Well... good night, Aya."
"You, too," I nod.
Hina smiles back. After a moment, she makes her way to the stairs and I just sit there awkwardly.
I should say something. But I don't know what. But it's too late now, she's gone. I shake my head and look over at Minoriko, who's still fast asleep on her chair. Well, better lend a hand. Getting to my feet, I pick up Minoriko and haul her off to her room, putting her to bed. Out one of the windows, I see Sukuna waving farewell to her new friend. I never did get that girl's name. No sign of Shizuha either; I don't know where she and Lily went.
I take a long bath that night, then I go to bed. My sleep is filled with dreams of ribbons, mixed in with spiderwebs. They're very nice dreams.
STATUS: The Mikami are now an acknowledged faith in Gensokyo. Not a huge one, but one that people take note of. Relations with Myouren Temple and the Hakurei Shrine are peaceful.
HINA STATUS: Full.
MINORIKO STATUS: Fast asleep.
SHIZUHA STATUS: Drinking with Lily Black.
AYA STATUS: Having some very nice dreams.
SUKUNA STATUS: Has made a new friend!
[ ] Public relations. -[ ] More advertising! -[ ] Getting followers. --[ ] An encountered named character (Specify: Kasen, Akyuu, etc.) --[ ] The kappa. --[ ] Other. -[ ] Write-in suggestion [ ] Gathering support -[ ] Visiting the ghost princess. -[ ] Let's go to the underground! -[ ] Visit the Kirisames. -[ ] Visit another group (specify) [ ] Start gathering information on what things are like in the tengu village (Aya's personal mission; may or may not affect the Mikami) [ ] Write-in
[X] Ask the Mikami about becoming a shrinemaiden again. Tell them Aya has even asked Reimu for lessons just to emphasize how serious she is. THEN go see Alice about a uniform. Considering the Mikami weren't very keen on the idea early on Aya should get their permission first. While we're at it we can ask them where they want to take things from there.
[X] Ask the Mikami about becoming a shrinemaiden again. Tell them Aya has even asked Reimu for lessons just to emphasize how serious she is. THEN go see Alice about a uniform. Considering the Mikami weren't very keen on the idea early on Aya should get their permission first. While we're at it we can ask them where they want to take things from there. [X] A
I agree. The Mikami certainly weren't ecstatic about the idea. Now that they've seen mikomiko Aya in action they might seriously consider it. And it'd also be a good opportunity to consult them on the shrine's next steps.
[X] Ask the Mikami about becoming a shrinemaiden again. Tell them Aya has even asked Reimu for lessons just to emphasize how serious she is. THEN go see Alice about a uniform. Considering the Mikami weren't very keen on the idea early on Aya should get their permission first. While we're at it we can ask them where they want to take things from there. [X] B
And my first post of the new year is Tengu of (Mis)Fortune's 100th entry! Happy New Year, everybody! ------------------------------------------------
"So her name's Kokoro?" I ask over breakfast.
"Yeah!" an enthusiastic Sukuna gushes. "Her name's Kokoro Hata, and she's a being called a meinriki."
"Huh. Not a very common kind of youkai," I muse thoughtfully.
"Anyway, she first showed up during this incident that happened not too long ago..." I must have been imprisoned when that happened, "and she's been hanging around ever since. She's really into art and dancing, kabuki mainly, and she's just so cool! You totally gotta meet her!"
I smile. "Sure thing. Next time she's around, make sure to introduce me!"
Sukuna nods happily. "Sure thing!"
It's the morning following the shrine's big opening. It was one hell of an experience, but a fulfilling one as well. All of the goddesses are flush with vibrancy, looking more energetic than ever before. Must be due to the influx of faith. Sukuna's gushing about the new friend she made (Kokoro, that was the pink-haired girl's name), while Shizuha had been quiet about what she and Lily had discussed. Figuring it to be her own business, I decided not to pry. For now.
Anyway, Hatate had stopped by early that morning to give us a low-down. Apparently, the appearance of the Mikami Shrine had caused quite a stir among the people of Gensokyo. With opening day over, people were wondering what the other established religions had to say about it. It was a sort of period of adjustment, with people sizing up the situation now that the initial curiosity had faded. Still, I wasn't worried. Let people have a day or two to think things over. They'd seen what the shrine had to offer. They'd be back; I knew it.
"Well, since we're probably going to have a couple of days where people think things over, I really think that we should take this opportunity to think things over ourselves, and tidy things up!" Minoriko gushes, pulsing with energy. "I mean, if we tidy the shrine up and make it more presentable, we'll encourage people to keep coming back! Oh, and maybe we should think about getting some more staff..."
Shizuha nods attentively as her sister talks. Meanwhile, Hina has been pleasant but fairly quiet all morning. Still digesting her misfortune, maybe? I have no idea how that works. Still, I felt the need to stretch my wings a little bit, so finishing up my meal, I excused myself and headed outside.
I'm going to assert this until the end of my days: building the shrine right where the land turns to autumn was a stroke of genius! As I walk along the path to greener fields, I take a look at the vibrant autumn around me. The sky looks so beautiful right now... but I see some dark clouds on the horizon. We're gonna get a big storm today. Either that, or Kanako is pitching a fit at the new upstarts. Maybe both. Well, might as well get some flight time in before things get nasty. I take a deep breath and stretch, working all of the kinks of the day out of my body...
"Mmm, what a lovely sight~," a familiar voice comments.
My eyes shoot open. I know that voice. I know that sweater. I know that skirt. I know those thigh-highs. I know that spider.
Yamame Kurodani. The earth spider and architect of Mikami Shrine. Also one of the sexiest women I've ever laid eyes on, currently wearing one of the sexiest outfits I've ever laid eyes on, and leaning against the torii that mark the entrance to the shrine grounds as she gives me a sultry look.
A look that quickly turns mischievous as she turns her head to look around the autumnlands. "The scenery, I mean. It's so beautiful here~!" She giggles a little bit.
It takes my heart a second to slow down again, and I slowly relax, coughing a little. "Uh, hey there, Yamame! Good to see you again!"
The earth spider smiles back and walks up to me, making even that simple movement look good. "Thanks! I just happened to be in the area, and thought I'd drop by, make sure that the shrine was holding up all right."
I raise my eyebrow. "You 'just happened to be in the area?'" I repeat.
Yamame coughs, turning a bit red. "Well, sorta of. Kind of. Maybe." She shrugs a little bit. Then she sighs and comes clean, slumping over just a tad. "...This was my first really big contract on the surface. I wanted to make sure that everything was to your liking, see if I needed to make any adjustments, that sort of thing. I figure if I do a good job here, I'll get more work on the surface, you know?"
I nod in understanding. "Ah, business then," I say. Then I clutch at my chest, an expression of mock-hurt coming over my face. "You mean it wasn't that you wanted to see me again? Alas, I am hurt, Yamame! And I thought we got along so well."
The spider shrugs. "Well, I admit that I wasn't opposed to seeing you or your lovely goddesses again. You were pretty fun when we first met, after all." Yamame giggles a bit at the memory.
I smirk a bit myself at the recollection. "Yeah, I guess I was, huh? But then, there were you, peeking at my unmentionables without my express permission!" I fold my arms with a huff.
Yamame grins at me. "But you were so kindly showing them off to all the world! How could I look away?" She laughs a little bit. "Besides, you were the one who flew into a cramped cave and got tangled up, you know."
I shrug. "Hey, crow gotta fly, you know?" The two of us look at each other and share a laugh. "In all seriousness, the shrine is great! You did damn fine work, and we couldn't be happier with it!"
Yamame sighs with relief. "Oh, good! I was worried that I'd screwed something up. I mean, I triple-checked everything, but there's always that nagging doubt, you know?" She shrugs helplessly.
I look at her in surprise. "You really wanted this to work out, huh?"
"...Well, yeah," Yamame admits. "I mean, I was really hoping that word would get around and more people from the surface would seek me out. For the business, you know?" There's an earnestness to her voice that gives me pause. For a moment, an expression of loneliness flits across Yamame's face. But it happens so quickly, that it could have just been my imagination. Then Yamame giggles a bit and cocks her hips. "A girl likes company, you know~?"
...Was I seeing things, or was Yamame just messing with me? Eh, heck with it, this is the wrong time for journalistic instincts. "Well, you have nothing to worry about!" I declare. "Yesterday was totally packed, so people will be talking about your handiwork before you know it!"
Yamame claps her hands happily. "Oh, great! Seems kinda quiet at the moment, though."
I shrug. "New faith when there's already a bunch hanging around. People are mulling things over and probably seeing what the other groups are gonna do." I jerk my thumb at the dark clouds in the distance. "Plus, the threat of a storm is never a good encouragement to travel."
"Good point," Yamame admits. She looks thoughtful. "So you're expecting a slow day, then?"
"Probably," I say. An idea comes to me. "Say, you wanna come in? Get a drink, see the scenery, get some misfortune removed?"
The earth spider thinks it over for a long moment, something crossing her face as she ponders my offer. "...Yeah, why not? I could stand to have some better luck." She laughs a little bit, and her face lights up. "Ah, that reminds me! Why don't I return the invitation? How about the four of you come visit the underground today? I'll be your guide~!"
"I mean, it looks like you'll have a slow day anyway," Yamame notes, looking at the dark clouds. "And I was talking with my work crew, and we think that you might have a chance at getting some followers down below. At the very least, you'd have the occasional prayer coming your way. Every little bit helps, right?"
I find it hard to speak.
Yamame gets a concerned expression on her face and rushes over to me. "Oh wow. Are you okay? Claustrophobia acting up?" I nod stiffly. "Wow, and that's just at the thought of it... uh, maybe it was a bad idea to suggest, then-"
"No, no," I assure her, patting Yamame on her shoulder. "It's a good idea. A really good idea. The underground city probably is a good place to advertise." I take a deep breath. "Plus, I'm trying to change myself. I no longer wish to be bound by the prejudices of the past."
Yamame looks at me and nods. "That's a good attitude," she agrees. I think I detect a hint of jealousy in her voice. "So... does that mean you're interested?"
I take a deep breath. "Lemme run it by the Mikami first, but I think they'll go for it. They thought it was a good idea earlier, after all."
Yamame squeals happily and claps her hand, BOUNCING happily.
"This is so great!" Yamame cheers. "You guys will be like my guests! I'll have to show you all the best parts of the city!" The earth spider looks very enthused to have some actual guests. Well, she does seem like a social type of lady.
Also, note to self: keep an eye on Sukuna. I can just see her drooling over Yamame. Mikami know I am.
I feel so conflicted right now, for multiple reasons.
Then I look over Yamame's shoulder and feel very nervous. "Oh, fuck," I say conversationally.
Yamame looks at me blankly. "Huh?" I point behind her, and she turns to look. "Oh. Fuck."
I nod slowly. "Yep. That's about the size of it."
A small figure lands just outside the torii and starts skipping merrily up the path towards us, a cheery smile on her face. She comes to a stop in front of us and smiles broadly. Googly eyes on her bizarre hat seem to stare at me.
"Hiya!" Suwako Moriya says cheerfully.
Response: [ ] PANIC [ ] FREEZE [ ] RUN AWAY [ ] Sorry, we're closed today. [ ] Greet her nervously. [ ] Greet her politely. [ ] Greet her enthusiastically. [ ] Sorry, I'm supposed to stay away from lolis.
Well, I just figured that things were pretty much resolved on that end. Hina got over her guilt a long time ago, so I figured that the issue could just lie to rest. If people post votes for it though, I see no reason why Hina couldn't seek them out.
[x] Sorry, I'm supposed to stay away from lolis. -[x] Keep on guard. There's no way of knowing what the Moriya are up to. Hopefully it's just a look over on their new competitors neighbours and not sabotage or blackmail.
[X] Greet her enthusiastically. [X] offer a drink. Alcoholic. [X] See what she wants. If it turns out the Moriyas aren't happy with us be quick to open negotiations, starting with offering to build a mini-shrine. If she bargains hard Work our way up to offering to help with their cable car project, placing the starting station at our shrine and introduce Yamame as a potential contractor.
Alright, while Sanae would have been preferable, Suwako is acceptable. Her brief appearance in Being Meiling suggested she was at least easygoing, not too fond of Kanako's scheming and is cool enough to level with others on what those schemes might be. If Aya just acts open and friendly she might be inclined to respond in kind, hopefully. And let's not forget she was usurped by Kanako in the past and may be interested in some payback.
The branch shrine worked as a compromise between them and Reimu. Might work for us. And they have been planning a cable car to ferry humans to their shrine for a while (canonically). Having the station at the Mikami shrine would be ideal as it would bring both shrines extra worshippers and act as free security for the base station. No way they can say no to a deal like that. Plus such a high profile project would be Yamame's dream job. Two birds etc.
Worst case scenario Aya does have a final boss on her side, tiny as she is. Aya should be sure to flash her at Suwako (like a sidearm, not the other way, you know what I mean).
[x] Ask if she's come to convert to Mikamiism. [x] Greet her politely. Panic internally. - [x] Offer alcohol. Because hospitality. - [x] No branch shrine offer.
I see the advantages, but they come with the substantial disadvantage of being under the Moriyas' thumb. At this stage, a branch shrine -- or equivalently, a cable-car terminus with the other end at the Moriya shrine -- would be seen (correctly) as a declaration of political allegiance.
[X] Greet her politely. -[X] Offer the lady a drink -[X] We are neutral and staying that way.
My statement on policy from... what is it, three threads back, now? remains: Be polite. Be efficient. Have a plan for everyone we meet.
Our plan for Suwako is... hm. Well, polite and efficient is a good start. Don't make any deals with her, any agreement of any sort isn't made without Reimu knowing as well as the agreement of all three goddesses present at once. Force will be met with angry oni workmen who don't take kindly to random goddesses defacing their work over petty matters. Any further suggestions on this policy would come highly recommended, as there are several reasons I'm not phrasing it as my vote.
>>25260 See, the way I see it, Ichiro's liable to get whoever Aya doesn't. So if Aya guns for the lovely Hina, Ichiro gets to play with Spiderbutt. If Aya decides to deal with her claustrophobia by taking the solution to the logical extreme (Spiderbutt), Ichiro will sweep Hina off her feet.
>>25262 Different here, Hina is long term, Yamame is booty call. >>25261 That makes no sense. He hasn't even met Yamame. He should go for a nice traditional wolf Tengu. Someone loyal to the people, not the elders... hm, do we know anyone like that?
[x] Greet her politely. [x] Greet her enthusiastically. .
Great customer service is both of these. We want to show that while we respect her, we aren't intimidated by her. We aren't a threat to her, but we also won't be pushed around.
[x] Offer her a drink and ask her if she's interested in any of the services we offer. Earnestly.
It has to be completely honest, otherwise she might misinterpret it as a personal attack. If we do it right, she'll not only see that we're serious about this, but it might help us score some points if she DOES end up being interested in some of our services.
[X] Greet her politely. -[X] Offer the lady a drink (no religious strings attached) -[X] We are neutral and staying that way.
She seems relatively easygoing but let's not forget she is an ancient goddess, old and powerful despite appearances. Let's be polite and professional. Then gather the Mikami so they can deal with the negotiations. As I see it, the last point of this vote is only if the question of making any kinds of deals comes up.
And Aya has no right to accept or offer deals for the Mikami anyway. No deals are to be made except by the Mikami, their religion, their shrine, their rules.
Godsdammit. This is exactly what I've been afraid of. I knew that the Moriyas would be along to scope things out sooner or later, and here's one of them right now. Suwako, the little frog-goddess, innocent and childish-looking, and secretly thousands of years old with massive power under her belt. This was just fantastic.
I had no clue how to handle this. No amount of planning could prepare you for facing this kind of situation, however much you've been expecting it. Still, the frog goddess was here, and she wasn't simply going to hop away. I had to respond. So I do.
I give Yamame a thoughtful look. "Come to think of it, I'm not sure if I can even talk to her. From what I recall, I'll get in trouble if I talk to lolis." The earth spider snorts with amusement.
Suwako gives me a less than amused look. "Lady, I'm thousands of years your senior. Don't give me the 'loli' business, you hear me?"
I laugh a little bit, my tension dispersed. I bow politely to our visitor. "Welcome to the Mikami Shrine, Lady Moriya. Can we help you today? Maybe you'd like to have a drink?"
Suwako whistles, looking impressed. "Damn, look at you! Pretty much the very image of a shrine maiden, huh? A tengu shrine maiden..." She looks me over. "Miniskirts gonna be the new uniform, then?"
"I'd like that to happen, but I think I'd get overruled," I sigh.
"That's such a pity," Yamame quips, twirling her own mini a little bit. Albeit, hers is a lot more 'mini' than mine, but the point still stands.
Suwako nods sagely. "Yeah, it'd never happen with us. Kanako hit the roof the one time Sanae tried to go out with a miniskirt, back before we came to Gensokyo. She can be so damned protective some days, you know?" She pauses. "Of course, I was feeling a little wary about it myself, and I think Sanae was just trying to test her boundaries a little. She was at that age. She's too much of a good girl to want to flash that much leg, especially in uniform."
"Heh, that's too bad," I smirk. "Your Sanae in a bikini would really draw in the worshipers."
"I know!" Suwako exclaims throwing her arms wide. "But when I brought it up, Kanako started chasing me around the shrine like a woman possessed. So overprotective, that woman."
"Did you suggest that Lady Kanako wear a bikini?" Yamame jokes.
"Yes. That's when she really went overboard." Suwako shakes her head. "And I was joking, too. Sanae would've never gone for it, you know? Wish I could pull off the bikini look." She looks down at her small body sadly. "Eh, waddaya do, am I right?"
I feel myself relax a little bit, then catch myself. Suwako might just be acting personable in order to make me drop my guard. I have to be careful, dammit!
The frog goddess gives me an evaluating look. "Yep, I figured you'd act that way."
I blink. "What way?"
"Like I'm about to threaten your very livelihood with a thousand years of curses or some shit," Suwako snorts, walking over to sit down on a rock. "Relax, that's not what I'm here for. And thanks for the offer, but I'm not in the mood for a drink. No, that's not why I'm here."
"...What are you here for?" I ask carefully.
Suwako shrugs. "I'm spying. What else?"
There's a long moment of silence.
Yamame carefully starts to back away from the two of us, but Suwako waves her off. "No, no, there's no need for that. I'm not here to do danmaku, or any of that nonsense. No, I'm just here because Kanako's gotten into one of her 'moods' again." The little goddess rolls her eyes.
"What kind of mood?" I ask, noting that Yamame is moving back to stand beside me.
"One of her planny, plotty kind of moods," Suwako replies, resting her head on a hand. "You know the type. Just think about one of your elders, and you've got the picture." I wince. Yeah, that's more or less what I expected. Suwako takes note of my reaction. "Yeah, you were expecting this, weren't you?"
There's no point in lying. "Yes."
She chuckles. "Anyone would. And yeah, during your grand opening yesterday, Kanako was staring down here muttering herself. I could just hear the gears in her head running overtime. Poor Sanae was flustered as all hell because of her. And me? I had a beer, and that was the end of my reaction." Suwako looks up at me. "Anyway, Kanako was curious about this place, and I volunteered to come take a look."
"Why you?" I wonder.
"Honestly? I just felt like taking a stroll." Suwako shakes her head. "Of course, Sanae was curious, and Kanako wants me to give a full report on what I saw." The goddess looks up at me. "Try not to be too hard on her, okay? Kanako honestly means well. It's just that she's been a plotter for so long, sometimes she doesn't know when to give it a rest."
"And that's the only reason you're here?" I ask, "To take a stroll?"
Suwako thinks it over. "I was curious," she admits, "And one of us was going to come here anyway, so why not me?" She sighs. "Plus, I'm doing this for Sanae's sake. The girl's really outgoing, and likes to make friends. It hasn't always gone well, and she's had a hard time fitting in sometimes. I know the way she thinks is a little weird to native Gensokyans."
"Because she's from the Outside," Yamame notes.
"Bingo. Look, Sanae is a good girl, okay?" Suwako looks quite earnest. "So if she comes looking around, acting like she wants to make friends... it's because she really does. She's trying, and she's not the type to try and use you. You can trust her on that."
"Which doesn't stop her from having her own shrine's interests at heart," I point out.
"Just as you have this place's interests at heart," Suwako counters. "Anyway, Sanae and I aren't the schemers. So you don't have to worry about us. If anything, Sanae is just gonna come down here and enjoy the scenery. That's about it. Me, I'm fine with the shrine as it is."
"And then there's Kanako," I sigh.
"Yep," Suwako nods, "then there's Kanako." There's a pause, and Suwako scowls. "Ugh. I got sick of this politics shit centuries ago. All right, lemme lay it out for you: I have no quarrel with you. Sanae has no quarrel with you. Kanako has no quarrel with you, but she has a plan involving you because she always has a plan going. It's kinda what she does."
"Crow gonna fly, frog gonna hop, war goddess gonna plan," I comment, and Suwako laughs.
"Pretty much," she agrees. "Look, I don't know what Kanako has in mind. Maybe she wants to take this place over. Maybe she just wants to strike a deal and leave it at that otherwise. Maybe she wants to throw a kegger here, I don't know. I just thought you all deserved a heads-up."
"I don't get it," Yamame mutters, and we glance at her curiously. "Why all this plotting and scheming. It's just so... so..."
"Retarded," Suwako finishes for her, and I can't help but nod. "Yes. Yes it is, Miss Kurodani. It's also how a lot of people are, and I don't mean just gods or various kinds of youkai. But Kanako does the planning, and she does it without any remorse. And you know why?"
I shake my head.
Suwako locks eyes with me. "She does it because she thinks it will help Sanae. And Sanae will go along with whatever Kanako plans, because Kanako is more than just a goddess to her. And I'll go along with it, because those two are my family. I think you understand what I mean."
I just nod. I understand completely.
Suwako stand up. "Still, you might not have to worry too much. Kana's track record hasn't been too great lately. And hell, maybe she really does just want to throw a kegger here once in a while. I'm not gonna ask. But word to the wise: drunk Kanako is hilarious." She laughs a little bit at this.
"...Not gonna lie, Lady Moriya, I don't know how to take all of this," I say sincerely.
"Welcome to my world," Suwako snorts. With a final wave, she starts back down the path, heading back home. "Anyway, I'm gonna tell Kanako exactly what I found here: a nice little shrine with well-meaning goddesses and staff. What she does from there is up to her. Later." The loli goddess lifts off, and is gone.
"Well that was something." I comment.
"What was that all about?" Yamame wonders. "It didn't sound like a threat. Maybe a friendly warning? Or maybe she really did want you to give Sanae a fair chance?"
I shrug. "It could've been a lot of things. But I think she was being pretty square with us, on the whole. Still, it's a fair reminder that Kanako's the one we need to worry about." Also, in case of emergency, the Moriya Shrine will band together. I'd expect no less.
Yamame muses for a moment, then looks over at me. "You okay?" She sounds worried.
I rub my forehead. "Yeah... I think. I mean, I knew this was coming, I just... I'm sick of all of this political shit, you know? I just wish we could all live in peace."
Yamame gives me a sympathetic look, and then, to my surprise, comes over and gives me a warm hug. She feels very nice. Smells nice, too. And she's keeping her extra legs retracted for my sake.
This doesn't keep me from being very aware of her more than ample bosom. Yowza.
Still, I sigh a little bit as the tension leaves me. "Thanks."
Yamame rubs my back gently. "No worries. You looked like you needed it." She steps back and gives me a troubled look. "Um, just to clarify, I'm really not contagious or anything. You're perfectly safe being close to me and-"
"I know," I cut her off with a smile. "You don't have to explain it to me, okay?" Yamame sighs with relief and gives me a grateful smile. I have to wonder just how much trouble her nature gives her. "Anyway! Why don't we go grab the others, and get this underground trip underway!"
"Sounds good!" Yamame says cheerfully. We start to walk back towards the shrine. "So, um... the city itself has a lot of space, but getting there can be kinda cramped. How are you gonna get over your claustrophobia?"
I swallow heavily and think about it.
[ ] Willpower. [ ] Booze. [ ] Unconscious. [ ] Thinking about boobies. [ ] Faceplanted in boobies. [ ] Wrapped up in webs. [ ] Screaming. [ ] (Insert your idea here- encouraged!)
At least as Plan A. Willpower, with maybe a shot of booze to fortify the nerves. Plan B is everything else, so that if(/when) Plan A fails Aya gets trapped in the webs again and finds herself wrapped up in a cocoon firmly wedged between spiderboobs.
>>25290 that to, but it sounds like anon is too quick to have Aya jump Yamame's bones. While I woudln't mind a three way but above all else I don't want to see whatever Aya and Hina are building ruined because anon caused a pervert relapse.
As for the pairing thing, it's, as Americans would put it, first past the post. If Aya finds out that she likes Yamame for more that her body-or if she'd rather have a one (severals?) night stand than a full fledged relationship (understandable, given her need for support and incredibly long "dry season") then that's that.
"...I know exactly how to handle this difficult situation!" I declare, nodding to myself in satisfaction.
"Oh? How's that?" a curious Yamame asks me.
I chuckle and stick my chest out proudly. "Sheer willpower, my dear spider-maiden!"
"Willpower, eh?" Yamame smirks with amusement, and I think sneaks a peek at my chest. I'm not entirely sure. Kinda gives me a tingly feeling at the thought of it, though.
"Willpower!" I repeat myself. Then after a moment, I sheepishly add: "And maybe a bottle of booze, too." Yamame bursts into laughter at this and pats me reassuringly on the shoulder.
We enter the shrine, and I lead Yamame back to the sitting room, where Sukuna and the Mikami are talking about their plans for the day. "Hey everyone, look who came to visit!" I call out.
Hina smiles warmly. "Hello Yamame."
Minoriko waves. "Hi! Good to see you again!"
Shizuha nods. "Hello, Miss Kurodani."
Sukuna drools, her eyes wide. "Oh, gods, thank you..." she whispers loudly.
I glare at her. "Behave, little lady."
The inchling slumps a bit at my words. "...Yes'm."
Yamame just laughs at the interplay between me and Sukuna. "This place looks very lively! Anyway, I was just stopping by to check on my work. Aya tells me that everything's looking good- I'm glad to hear that!- but I thought I'd offer to be your guide to the underground today."
"This is a great idea and we should totally do this thing!" Sukuna shouts trying desperately not to leer at Yamame. The earth spider just seems amused by the attention.
The Mikami, however, give each other a concerned look, glance at me, then look at Yamame. "Well, we'd love to..." Hina speaks for the group, "But there's Aya to consider here-"
"I think we should do it," I say abruptly, getting some surprised looks. "I mean... yes, I'm nervous of going underground, and yes seeing the Oni is a terrifying prospect. On the other hand, it could really help us if we could get some followers down there, and I don't want to let my fears control me. Be they of enclosed spaces, or massively powerful youkai." I pause. "That said, Mino, I'd like to borrow a bottle of your strongest booze. Just to take the edge off." In response, Minoriko starts laughing, Shizuha nods in approval, and Hina... just looks worried. I placate her with a confident smile.
Sukuna is desperately trying not to drool at the very sight of Yamame. Poor girl is visibly trying to get into charm mode, and failing terribly.
"Well, it's not like we'll have anything going on any time soon, what with the storm and the aftermath," Minoriko points out.
Shizuha nods and gets to her feet. "Agreed. This is an opportunity that we simply cannot pass up. Well, let's pack some overnight bags and be off."
"Great!" Yamame squeals happily, bouncing a little bit. I can't help but goggle at her as her assets bounce in her sweater, and her skirt gives me just the slightest, tantalizing hint of what lies underneath it. "This is going to be sooo much fun! There's a lot of things I want to show you guys!"
"Er... we look forward to it as well," I say, trying to regain my composure. Yamame smiles dazzlingly back at me, while the Mikami file out to pack their bags. Shizuha carries Sukuna with her; it looks like the little inchling got just a tad overwhelmed by Yamame, and now has a happy smile on her unconscious face. Minoriko chuckles and wanders off to get a bottle for me.
Hina... gives me a sharp glare that sends a chill down my spine. What the...? With a huff, the misfortune goddess spins gracefully on her heel and stalks off. Yamame coughs and looks briefly uncertain before putting a smile back on her face.
...Did I just miss something here?
Whatever the case was, it doesn't take too long for us to pack up. A few more minutes are spent closing all the storm shutters, with Yamame assuring us that no storm will put a dent in the Mikami Shrine; it has Oni-proof construction, after all! As a group, we fly off for the nearest entrance to the underground.
This is gonna be great!
THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER OH GODS.
I thought I was doing fine. I thought I would be okay. Willpower, right? I mean, we landed in front of the cavern, and I was fine. We walked into the cave system, and I was fine. We're walking along, and I'm fine until I realize that I CAN'T SEE THE SKY THERE ARE TONS OF ROCK OVER ME NO ESCAPE OH GODS-
"Aya, Aya!" Hina shouts frantically, shaking me. "Get a hold of yourself!"
I grip my goddess tightly, and fight for breath. "This is harder than I thought..." I mutter. "It feels like we've been underground forever."
There's an awkward pause. "Um, Aya?" Minoriko says gently. "We walked into the cave thirty seconds ago. You can still see the light from the entrance." Mino points to the still clearly-evident cave opening.
This does not bode well for this trip.
"Well, let's hurry!" I say in a slightly shrill tone of voice, and with a smile forced on my face, march down the path as quickly as my legs will take me. After a moment, the others walk after me.
Five minutes or a million years later in the endless, suffocating hallway of unforgiving stone, I'm starting to hyperventilate. The walls keep closing in! I... I think we might be suffering from a cave-in!
"Aya," Yamame's warm voice comes from next to me, "You're doing great. You're doing well. Just keep moving, and it will all be over soon."
Hina slides her hand into mine and squeezes tightly. "That's right! Just focus on moving your feet forward, and you'll get through this."
That's nice. I'd love to answer, but I'm too busy screaming inside as the earth itself reaches out to devour me, crushing my bones beneath its unyielding mass. It's dark. It's tight. It's cramped. Can't move. Can't breathe. Can't escape. Can't-
Why is Yamame moving ahead of me? She's swaying her hips and ooooooooh. Yeah, baby. Look at that butt. The way that mini slides from side to side is just so great~. It almost take my mind off of my imminent demise as the FUCKING TUNNEL CAVES IN.
Hina jerks her hand out of mine in a huff, and I snap out of it long enough to notice her stomp ahead of me. I start to ask her what's wrong, when ooooooooh. Hina starts swinging her hips from side to side too. You know, classy as she is, Hina doesn't dress all that provocatively. Which is a shame, because from what I'm seeing right now, this woman is hiding wonders. Hell yes.
...Huh. It almost looks like Hina's watching Yamame and deliberately trying to outdo her. I mean, Yamame's eyes are fixed on the path ahead, but Hina keeps sending her heated looks. I turn to the other goddesses to ask them what's going on, but Mino and Shizuha have fallen back a bit, and are awkwardly looking in other directions. Sukuna is visibly drooling at the dance of butts. After a while, I decide to take my mind off of things the same way.
"GYYYAAAAAAAAAH!" I shriek, my nerve finally snapping.
Hey, I tried! The dance of butts distracted me for a while, but then I remember the TONS OF FUCKING STONE ENCLOSING US LIKE A TOMB, and tried to go for my precious booze, but my hands were trembling to much, meaning no drinky, and no sky and no drinky make Aya an unhappy tengu who WANTS THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.
"OUTOUTOUTOUTOUT!!!" I scream, flying up and pounding on the roof of the tunnel. Gotta get out gotta get out gotta get out. Hands pull me down, and I see faces yelling at me, pleading with me, trying to get me to calm down, but they don't see what I can, this place is out to get us, out to devour us, we're DOOMED-
Why is Yamame wrapping me up in her webbing? Why is Hina tying me up with her ribbon? Hand on, the Aki's have a grip on my face and are pouring booze down my throat-
Oh, that's strong!
Also, someone, presumably Sukuna, is massaging me in that sensitive spot where my wings join my body. It tickles, but it feels kinda good, too~.
I blink, coming back to myself as the booze warms my throat. I'm wrapped from neck to ankles in a combination of webbing and red ribbon. The others are looking at me warily. "Aya, are you okay?" a concerned Hina asks me.
I think it over. Look at the ceiling. Start to tremble. I force a smile on my face. "Well, if someone would hold me to their bountiful bosom for the rest of the trip, I think I'll be okay!" I say hopefully. Maybe Hina and Yamame would hold me between them! That's be nice~! But the raised eyebrows I'm getting don't seem very hopeful.
And that's how I come to be lugged down the tunnels like a piece of luggage. Yamame holds up my back, Hina takes my waist, and Shizuha holds my feet as I am lugged face-down along the tunnel, unable to see anything but rocky ground. Minoriko walks slightly ahead, holding the bottle in my mouth so that I can nurse from it. Sukuna is riding on my back, gently massaging my sensitive wings. All in all, it's actually pretty calming. Humiliating, but still better than my earlier freak-out.
"Here we are," Yamame finally announces, and I hear Minoriko whistle in admiration. I just sigh in relief as the bottle is finally pulled out of my mouth. Finally. That feels like it took forever. My friends stand me back up on my feet and start to unwrap me, and all I can do is stare.
The Oni did this?!
The underground city is huge. The underground city is glowing with light, and the ceiling above it is so high I don't feel the slightest bit claustrophobic. It's bustling with noise, music, shouts and laughter intermingling into a hubbub that makes my jaw hang down almost to my chest.
Dear gods, what have we been doing all this time? I mean, I knew the Oni had been busy, but this is beyond anything I had ever dreamed!
Yamame just smiles and she strides in front of us. "Welcome to the underground city!" she declares. "Home of the Oni and other youkai, a bastion of civilization in the deep underground!" The five of us can only stare in amazement.
"Shiny," Shizuha comments, breaking the spell and causing everyone to chuckle.
"So, where would you like to go first?" Yamame asks eagerly. "There's a few landmarks here that I'd love to show all of you!"
Yamame's list of locations:
[ ] "The laughing Oni inn. Good drinks, good company, and heh, I've had some nice experiences there myself!" [ ] "The celestial batting range. I don't think Tenshi's around at the moment, but it's pretty cool to see!" [ ] "Big Papa's House of Looooooove and Tacos. You have to go there at some point. It's required." [ ] "The Crazy Wombat. It's a nice place, and these days is the place to go to do some dancing." [ ] "The Palace of the Earth Spirits. If you're looking to make a deal, Satori's the person to talk to." [ ] "The Grand Museum. There's actually a lot of amazing things there to see." [ ] "The great market. I mean, aside from booze, there's all kind of stuff to check out there!"
>>25318 Yeah I can't blame her and to think she didn't see all the votes going on and on about yamame.
[x] "Big Papa's House of Looooooove and Tacos. You have to go there at some point. It's required."
It's a fun place and good tacos. That and I think if we let the current mood persist, Satori's going to find out what's going on with ease in terms of "private information she really doesn't need to know about"
Shizuha raises her hands. "I think we should focus upon business before pleasure. If we want to seek out potential followers here, it might be best to meet with the local authorities and make sure we aren't stepping on any toes."
Yamame nods in understanding. "In other words, the Palace. Satori's the one everyone pretty much defers to when it comes to civic decisions. Honestly, she's one of the few people that bother to keep track of things. Anyway, I'll take you to her." Gesturing for us to follow, Yamame starts to lead us over a long bridge into the city proper.
Hina clears her throat. "Um, Yamame? Is Miss Mizuhashi anywhere nearby?" I glance over at Hina. Is she still hung up on that?
"Well..." Yamame says slowly, looking around, "She's usually in charge of guarding the bridge. Unless she's on break, in which case- oh." Our guide comes to a halt and stares at a house just past the bridge on the city side of things. It's a nice-looking house, overall. It also has some rather loud thumps coming from inside. Also, there's a sign hanging out front with a message written in large letters:
Screwing my boyfriend. GO AWAY
"...Direct," I comment.
"Yeah, ever since she and Al hooked up, this happens from time to time," Yamame says with a little laugh. "Girl's a bit pent-up, you see. Still, better let her know we're heading in." The earth spider clears her throat. "Parsee! Taking a couple of guests into the city!" she shouts at the building.
The response is immediate. "Piss off!" a female voice shouts from inside the house. Actually... it sounds like two voices that happen to be identical. What...?
Yamame just shrugs. "Well, good enough. Come on!" Without a further care, our guide leads us further into the city, while we can only glance bemusedly at the mysterious house. Somehow, I feel like I'm missing out on something really incredible right now.
I quickly forget all about this, however, as Yamame leads us into the city proper. It is... just fantastic. There's loud music playing in the air, alongside booming laughter and cheers. The architecture seems... new, somehow. Hell, I see some laughing Oni throwing up a house even as I look around, and they seem to be having a good time of it! There's lanterns, electrical lighting, strange smells, amazing crafts... and, of course, a bar in every other building. Hell, some of the buildings are multi-purpose. Groceries and a bar. Fine desserts and a bar. Weapons and a bar... which sounds awfully dangerous. It's full of life, and energy. It's... intoxicating.
"The Oni have a lot of experience with construction," Yamame explains as she leads us along. "Based on the fact that they have to rebuild a good part of the city after every drunken brawl. Remind me to tell you about the time a bunch of ladies came down for a visit some time. Now that was something!" She giggles a little bit, blushing at some remembrance.
The city is amazing. Hina, Mino, and Shizu all gape about them, drinking in all of the sights. As for me? I'm somewhere between shock and terror. The Oni are everywhere. The elemental, primal forces of terror are all around me, real as flesh, and it keeps sending a chill down my spine. However, whenever their eyes fall upon us, all they do is wave cheerfully and go about their business. A few do a double-take as soon as they see me, then shrug and move on without another word. It's obvious that they know I'm a tengu, they just don't terribly care all that much. Too concerned with the next drink, maybe.
As for Sukuna, she just rides on my shoulder, speechless at all that she sees. I can't blame her.
Why didn't we tengu do something like this? This city... is electrifying.
After an interminable time, the crowds start to thin, and Yamame leads us towards a tall, dark cathedral. It's brooding. It's lonesome. It's very impressive. It also seems to have panties mounted on it.
I come to a screeching halt. "What the actual fuck..."
From what I can tell, some enterprising soul started to pin panties to the walls of the building in an artistic design, then got bored halfway through. It... really takes away from the building's intimidation factor. Yamame, for her part, doesn't even break stride. "Probably Koishi," she calls back in explanation. "She does stuff like that from time to time."
Glancing at each other, the rest of us follow Yamame up to the main doors of the Palace. Yamame goes to knock, then pauses, glancing to her side to regard a red-haired catgirl about thirty feet away from us. Said catgirl is audibly grumbling, taking the panties off the side of the building and tossing them forcefully into a wheelbarrow.
"Is it okay if we go in, Rin?" Yamame calls over to her. The only reply from Rin Kaenbyou is a frustrated gesture that seems to mean something between 'go on in,' and 'go away.' "Okay, thanks!" Yamame calls back, and leads us into the Palace. I spare one final glance for the disgruntled kasha. Somehow, I don't think she enjoys her appointed task.
The interior is about what one would expect. Big, dark, gloomy, gothic. No panties, though. On the other hand, there are tons of animals laying about. Something that looks like a huge tiger glances up as we walk along, but lays its head back down, apparently uninterested.
"Anybody know where Satori is?" Yamame inquires to the world at large. Some kind of monkey, munching on something, gestures absently down the corridor. "Thanks." Yamame continues to lead us down the halls, apparently used to all of this. I have to admit, though, that despite all of the animals this place still seems pretty tidy. Someone must put a lot of work into keeping it clean. Either that, or the animals actually clean up after themselves. If they're a type of youkai, that even seems possible.
Eventually, Yamame leads us to a large set of doors and knocks, which causes a calm voice from within to bid us enter. Passing through the entryway, we find ourselves in a large hall, probably used for official audiences.
I jump at the voice, and swivel my head forward to see the figure of Satori Komeiji seated on a large chair, almost a throne, at the head of the room. The mistress of the palace shrugs. "I sensed your approach, and your official intent, and decided that this was the best way to receive you. I am Satori Komeiji, and I welcome you to the underground, and Old Hell." She clears her throat. "Now, I can in fact read minds, so let us get through this in no particular order."
Satori points at Shizuha. "You are free to proselytize all you wish. The Oni aren't particularly devout, but I suppose you can get the occasional prayer sent your way." To Minoriko. "My sister has a whimsical sense of humor, but thankfully a short attention span. I sent Rin to deal with it because she had some free time." To Yamame. "No, Koishi isn't around, so you don't have to worry about her getting...affectionate." To Hina, with a warm smile. "Why thank you. I do try to keep myself at least reasonably fashionable." To Sukuna, sternly. "Young lady, may I suggest that you try to treat women with a bit more respect. You may find they take you more seriously." To me. "...Where do I even begin?"
It takes us a few moments to parse what Satori just said. Finally, Shizuha nods in agreement, Minoriko nods in understanding, Hina just smiles, Yamame sighs with relief, and Sukuna slumps in embarrassment. As for me... what do I say?
After a moment, Satori stands up and walks over to me. She looks up at me with an unreadable expression. Then she reaches up and starts rubbing my head. It's... surprisingly relaxing. Mmmm...
"You must have had a hard time of it," Satori says gently. "And you've done a wonderful job with her, Lady Kagiyama."
"I try," Hina quips. I don't see her expression. My eyes are tightly closed as Satori somehow finds all of the most relaxing spots on my head. It feels like I'm being well taken care of. Mmmmm...
"How are you doing that?" Minoriko asks.
"I keep birds, some of which are humanoid," Satori explains. Mino's just jealous.
"So, what are you planning to do, other than spread your faith?" Satori asks us.
"I was going to show them the sights, but I think they want to focus more on business first." Yamame explains.
"In an Oni city, no less," Satori jokes, taking her hand away from my head. Aw...
"Well, we need to make the effort," Shizuha shrugs.
"Fair enough. In that case, I wish you well." Satori smiles at us, while my head feels pleasantly fuzzy at having been patted. How the hell did she do that? I should feel embarrassed, but it was kinda nice~.
So, what now?
[ ] Ask Satori for advice on places to preach. [ ] Ask the mind-reader for advice on... personal issues. [ ] Try to get pet more... [ ] Leave, and go somewhere else. -[ ] The Laughing Oni -[ ] The batting range -[ ] Big Papa's -[ ] The Crazy Wombat -[ ] The museum -[ ] The market
>>25340 It's like getting liposuction when you just need to go to the gym. I mean if it's life-threatening sure, but that's hardly the situation we're in. Putting in the time and effort yourself has a tendency to deepen the impact on yourself and others. I feel that that would be even more important with concerns to interpersonal relationships and personal development. Getting it straight from the tap isn't quite the same thing as going to a therapist or something similar.
Also sort of separately with regards towards Hina it seems in poor taste to ask Satori before making even a single effort on our own part to clear things up. With the way Satori has been just now she would just sort of spew things at us as they came to Aya's mind anyways.
It's not really a matter of whether or not it is an objectively functional idea or not as I'm sure we'd acquire some actionable information from it, but more that I feel that Aya stands to grow more by finding things out herself. You can look up the answers to the test and get a perfect grade, but you don't necessarily learn anything by doing that.
I disagree completely; this isn't an either/or situation, this is lipo (without the high price and recovery time at that) and exercise. Hard work is not diminished in meaning when enhanced with tool use.
Furthermore, I doubt Satori is going to do a complete mindfix, more like she's going to be a therapist who doesn't have to worry about incomplete information. This isn't just about Hina but all of Aya's problems, of which she has a great deal. Even if Satori only tells Aya what she already knows then that itself is useful information, know an outside source won't provide new insights will let her know that it's safe to focus her efforts elsewhere.
That and Aya could use a mother figure, and no one in Gensokyo has more experience in that regard than Satori.
I hesitate slightly. There's a big part of me that wants to talk to Satori. She's a mind-reader, and what information I've gathered about her suggests that she's an expert when it comes to mental issues and past traumas. For all of the recovery I've made, her perspective might help me get an even better grip on myself. Perspective from someone who can truly understand what I'm thinking- and hopefully, won't be judgmental about it.
There's also another part of me that wants to get pet again, but I ignore that part.
But no, it's business before pleasure today, and I need to stick to that. As I nod to myself, Satori's eyes- all three of them- flick over to me, most likely having picked up on my thought processes. I clear my throat.
"Well, since we have your okay, do you have any advice for us?" I ask. "Like, where the best places to preach are? The best way to go about it?"
Satori folds her arms in thought, glancing over our group. "From what I can tell of your religion's doctrine... there are some things you can offer the underground. Let's focus on the Oni, since they are the most prominent residents by far. First of all, Miss Minoriko is most likely to be the most favored here."
Minoriko blinks, then nods. "It's the alcohol thing, plus the Oni seem like a very hard-working bunch," she notes.
Satori nods in agreement. "Precisely. Plus, they also enjoy well-cooked food. You're certain to get a steady supply of prayers from them. In any case, you are likely to have the easiest time finding faith here." She turns to Hina. "The Oni aren't ones to worry overmuch about misfortune. However, my recommendation is that you present yourself who can be appealed to in a minor way on a momentary business. Asking you to take away their misfortune before a move at gambling, or before a brawl. Nothing too big, but something that will add up over time."
Hina nods slowly. "That's something that I've been working towards anyway. Okay, I think that I can manage that."
Satori raises a hand. "In addition, one of the persistent hazards down here are evil spirits, which pose a very real threat to the souls of youkai. Now, these beings are mostly under control, such that Miss Yamame felt no worry in bringing you down here." Yamame nods in agreement at this. "But they still lurk in some of the darker areas of the underground. And as beings of ill-omened energy..."
"...There's a similarity to the misfortune that I normally consume," Hina finishes, looking thoughtful. "So what you're saying, is that I can present myself as a source of protection against these spirits. A prayer for luck, such that they aren't encountered, or that I will shield the people from the worst of their influence."
Satori smiles. "Precisely. That will put you in good standing here, I wager." The mind-reader turns to face Shizuha. "In your case? Just present yourself as a goddess of the arts. The Oni do have an artistic side, and so would give you a prayer just as any being on the surface would. Just be ready for a rather more... exuberant definition of art than you might otherwise be used to."
Shizuha chuckles. "Beggars can't be choosers. I'll consider this a chance to open my mind a little bit."
Satori nods, and thinks things over a little bit more. "As for location... that's a tough one. The market has a lot of people, as do any of the bars, but most of those inhabitants have other things on their minds. You want to go to someplace a bit more sedate where you can present yourselves to the public, and let the rumor mill do its job. Tales travel fast down here. Once the city is curious about you, you'll find the populace more willing to pay attention to your words."
"So, we should find someplace quiet enough to get our point across, and only go to the crowded places a but later," I summarize.
Satori nods. "There are a few places that fit the bill. The batting range is quiet right now, since Okuu's little friend isn't due for a few more days, but it always has a few people in a contemplative mood who are just looking for some quiet. Possibly to recover from a hangover. Some of the more upscale establishments might be just what you're looking for..."
"I was thinking about Big Papa's," Yamame interjects. "He always welcomes people from the surface, and carries a lot of respect around here. At the very least, Big Papa would convince a lot of people to listen to the Mikami, and given the volume of traffic that flows in and out of there, word would get around pretty quickly."
"That sound like as good an idea as any," Satori nods. "In any case, that would be as much advice as I can really give you on this matter. I wish you luck in your endeavors." The mind-reader smiles at us, and the Mikami immediately begin talking to one another. Sukuna and Yamame close in to add their own points of view, and things quickly become a group huddle, with plans being made to earn the attention of the city-dwellers.
I almost go over to join in. But I find my attention lingering on Satori, who meets my gaze calmly. She's a mind-reader, an expert on the psyche. And gods know, I still have some loose baggage rattling around up there. Satori just seems like the sort of person who'd give me an honest hearing, who'd hear me out in full, even if all she could do was listen to my heart's voice.
Satori smiles as my mind goes along these lines, looking flattered. Stepping forward, the small woman starts to say something...
...When the door to the audience chamber is kicked in and Koishi Komeiji runs in, looking panicked.
Also, Koishi is wearing one of those weird Outsider 'school swimsuits,' for some incomprehensible reason.
"Sis, I have a big problem," Koishi says breathlessly.
Satori stares at her sister, face wooden. "What. Did. You. Do."
"I had this idea," Koishi says carefully. Satori groans. "I was drifting along, and I saw the Hakurei-Scarlets acting all lovey-dovey. Things were getting a little hot and heavy, and I thought to myself 'Hey! Maybe I can join in!' So, I put on this little number- because you know how good it makes me look!- and showed up asking if I could join in!"
Satori has her hands over your face. "I knew this would happen. I knew your whims would get you in trouble one day. So what happened?"
"Well, after the outraged screaming ended, Reimu started chasing me all over the place, calling me a dumb pervert, or something. The point is, I think she followed me down here, and she's really mad! Think you could talk her down for me?" Koishi looks at her sister hopefully. Satori just stares back, her expression the purest essence of 'what the fuck' that I have ever seen.
I notice that my group is oh-so-casually making its way to the door. Which leaves me with a choice:
[ ] Get out of there, get to business, this is no business of mine. [ ] Rescue Satori. You'd like to talk, this is an excuse for her not to get involved, and Koishi needs to learn some limits, it sounds like. [ ] Stay and watch the fireworks. [ ] Try to calm Reimu down yourselfHAHAHANOPE
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Classes start up again tomorrow, and it's a full-blown work-practical for me. So, updates may take a tad longer than usual. Just a heads-up.
[x] Rescue Satori. You'd like to talk, this is an excuse for her not to get involved, and Koishi needs to learn some limits, it sounds like. This is a new Aya. And I think Satori could use some practical example about how good this new Aya is. And the Komeiji sounds like an excellent friend to have anyway.
[X] Rescue Satori. You'd like to talk, this is an excuse for her not to get involved, and Koishi needs to learn some limits, it sounds like.
Wasn't Reimu supposed to get back to us on the subject of those possible miko lessons anyway? Maybe we can talk about the opening day and get tips on being miko-like (that is of course if we don't end up sticking our foot in our mouth or pissing her off in the first five minutes)
[x] Rescue Satori. You'd like to talk, this is an excuse for her not to get involved, and Koishi needs to learn some limits, it sounds like. -[x] Make sure to mention that you might be able to help Koishi. Later. After Reimu is done with her.
[x] Rescue Satori. You'd like to talk, this is an excuse for her not to get involved, and Koishi needs to learn some limits, it sounds like.
I was thinking, we might have a way to help Koishi. Or rather, Nitori does.
The brainwashing machine Nitori was tricked into making could be the key to fixing Koishi's cracked mind and open her sealed heart. If we added in Reisen's ability to manipulate brainwaves and have Eirin oversee the whole thing then we'd be set.
The biggest problem would be getting anyone to have anything to do with the machine, especially Nitori.
>Which really boils it down do I just don't like mind reading.
Speaking from experience here, it would be really freaking handy if my Psychiatrist could read my mind; it would make diagnosing my problems a whole lot easier. You'd be suprised about how much guesswork is required in just figuring out what's wrong with you, especially in people who have problems in identifying issues in their own behaviour, not to even mention guiding people in resolving their emotional hangups. As long as the mindreader in question is trustworthy I have little problem with them. Hell, I might actually feel a little guilty for subjecting them to the hostile environs of my brain; considering how messed up it is in there, it can't possibly be a pleasant feeling.
That's just my opinion though, so feel free to disregard!
>>25364 >>25365 Yeah. Nah. Forcing Koishi's mind back to what it used to be would resolve the root issues (her actions are controlled by her subconscious, and it is difficult for others to perceive or remember her) but the side effects may be huge.
A much less invasive plan would be to teach her subconscious the same lessons Aya learned; physical intimacy does not (usually) enable or create emotional bonds, while finding the right people and spending time trying to understand each other does.
>>25369 Prior to SA it was impossible for others to even acknowledge Koishi's existence, unless she both desired it and was present in their direct line of sight. The only exceptions were Satori, and young children whose minds had not yet fully developed. Post-SA, she can be perceived and remembered, but still has the problem of her mind being 'closed'/empty. She is the very embodiment of what Aya could have become if she hadn't met Hina. And with Kokoro running around, Koishi might have found the Mask of Hope, which could very well make her behaviour even more erratic.
Yeah, there's no way that I want to be around when Reimu comes calling. I mean, I just made peace with the woman, I don't want to risk pissing her off again. Plus, I'd rather keep quiet about what we're doing down here, at least for now. With my luck, Reimu might think we're trying to stir up an incident, and only pain lies that way.
On the other hand, Satori's been awfully swell to us just in our brief conversation, and I really don't want to just ditch her like that. Not to the tender mercies of an angry Reimu. Besides that, maybe learning some consequences will be good for Koishi.
Satori glances up at me, looking thoughtful, and I raise my eyebrows. Behind me, Hina calls out for me to hurry, while Koishi looks frantic. Off in the distance, I hear something like fireworks exploding rapidly, one after another. Looks like the shrine maiden is here.
Satori bites her lip, and then comes to a decision. "Koishi? You're on your own here."
The green-haired Komeiji stares blankly. "What."
"Dear sister, let's be honest." Satori folds her arms and glares at her sister. "This is too much of a habit for you. You go and get yourself into trouble, then come crying to me when it gets to be too much for you to handle. Honestly, after a while, it starts to get frustrating, and I have to wonder if I am in fact enabling your behavior. Were it Rin or Okuu, I would have had words with them long before now."
"Maybe... it's because I'm your beloved sister?" Koishi asks, putting on an adorable expression, clearly trying for the cute angle.
Satori mulls it over. "Probably. And that's why, for your own good, not to mention to maintain the peace in the underground, I feel that it may be wise to allow you to face the consequences of your actions. Perhaps that will help control your impulses somewhat."
"Urk." Koishi suddenly looks rather ill. "I brought this on myself, didn't I?"
Satori calmly walks past her, gesturing for me to follow. "Sister dear, I love you with all my heart, but you really need to learn some restraint. And where I have failed, perhaps Miss Hakurei-Scarlet can prove a better teacher. Not to worry, Alfred and I will make sure to tend to you while you heal from this encounter. Learn well, all right?" Koishi just gapes at us as we walk out of the audience hall.
Satori glances to the side as the two of us leave, then breaks into a sprint down the hallway. "This way, hurry!" she hisses at the rest of us. Reacting to the urgency in her voice, our group charges after her, racing down the seemingly endless hallways. After a few minutes, Satori screeches to a halt, the rest of us stopping next to her.
"So... to summarize, a very angry Reimu is due to show up here any moment now," Shizuha comments, catching her breath.
"Technically, Reimu is going to show up back the way we came," I clarify. "Which is to say, not anywhere close to here. Thankfully."
"I'm all for not being around an angry Reimu," Minoriko quips.
"It would be unfortunate... but perhaps a misfortune I would prefer to avoid," Hina chuckles weakly. We hear an explosion off in the distance. "Yes. For the first time in my life, I think I will avoid this particular misfortune."
"Will your sister be okay?" Sukuna asks Satori.
The mind-reader nods. "She will. But I really have to stop encouraging her behavior so much. Some consequences will be good for her development, I wager."
"Well... shall we return to what we were doing?" Yamame suggests. "That is, going to see Big Papa? Miss Satori, you're welcome to come along if you like."
"Ah, no thank you," the mind reader shakes her head. "I should really be around to see to my sister once she's finished with her... lesson, if you will. But I thank you for the offer. Besides which, one of your number seems to have some business with me."
"Um, yeah," I say awkwardly. "Do you think I could have a moment of your time?"
Satori nods evenly, and Hina looks at me in surprise. "Aya?"
I shrug. "Well... she is an expert on minds, after all."
The Mikami hesitate at this, while Yamame and Sukuna look at me silently. After a while, Hina walks up to me and gives me a tight hug. "Want us to wait for you?"
I shake my head, returning the hug. "Nah. Go on and talk to this Big Papa, or whoever. I'll catch up to you all later. I shouldn't be too long, in any case." Nodding, Hina releases me. With one final glance my way, Yamame leads the group down the hallways, leaving me alone with Satori.
"It's private enough here," my lone companion comments, looking around the empty halls. "And I'd really like to be handy to my sister once she's done 'meeting' with Reimu. So, what was it you wanted to talk about?"
As if she didn't know.
"I find that speaking it out loud can be surprisingly therapeutic," Satori says with a smile. "Besides, where is the justice in only I speaking?"
"Fair enough," I chuckle. "Well, where to start... the short version is that I'm a psychological basket-case, albeit one on the mend."
"That's a little harsh on yourself," Satori chides me.
"It feels accurate," I sigh.
"From what I can sense from you, your mind feels as though it is suffering from acute emotional trauma. Most likely due to extended isolation." Satori considers. "I am not one to pry too deeply into somebody's past, Aya. But I can tell that you are a very social person. One that craves affection and contact. Being deprived of that for long periods of time let to an overwhelming desire for it, shutting out most other thoughts."
"I kept reaching out for people the only way I know how," I say glumly. "In other words, badly."
"The key is that you know this," Satori tells me gently, reaching out to stroke my head again. Mmm. "Aya, you don't need my help. You already have the support of wonderful friends, I can tell. You are strong. Very, very strong. It's just that this strength has been hidden away for a very long period of time, buried under your loneliness and fear of isolation." Satori gives me a tender smile. "Honestly, I would never have guessed it from you by your reputation alone. You are a woman of hidden depths, it seems."
"Maybe..." I say quietly. "Is that why you're petting me? The need for affection and contact?"
"Mostly," Satori agrees. "This is what you're really after, isn't it? For someone to pay attention to you. To hold you, touch you, make you feel wanted. It's a very common desire, Aya. It was merely rather pronounced in your case."
"Yeah, and for a long time, I had to act like a high and mighty lady, just to get people's attention," I snort. "Who would have respected a noble woman who secretly just wanted to cuddle? No, I had to keep that side of me hidden. Then I broke, and went the exact opposite way." I sigh.
"You are aware of your faults," Satori says calmly, "and are working to deal with them. That is all that anyone can do. Unfortunately, I cannot simply reach into your mind and 'fix' you, Aya. That is beyond me, and I would not do so even if it were an option. No, the pieces you need are all there. All that is left is to continue on as you have been, and get your own life in order." She gives me a firm look. "You will be fine."
I take a deep breath. Satori's words... mean a lot to me. I guess, in the end, all that I needed was for someone to let me know that I wasn't crazy, that I wasn't utterly broken.
"You aren't," Satori says confidently. "You have all that you need to pull yourself back together. Though, there are some other emotional issues that I suggest you think about dealing with."
"You're about as pent up as anyone I've ever seen, my dear. Honestly, it's a wonder that you haven't exploded by now." Satori gives me a wry smile as she pulls her hand away.
I cough, embarrassed. "Well... it's not like I have a lot of prospects, you know. Not with how people see me..."
"Actually, you do have prospects," Satori tells me. "You're just afraid of what might happen if you pursue them."
Dammit. She's got me there.
Yes, I have a thing for Hina. She's gorgeous, she saved me, of course I want to hop in bed with her and make sweet love to her. But Hina doesn't strike me as the free-love kind of girl, and I'm afraid of screwing up our friendship if I try to, shall we say, offer up my misfortune to her.
On the other hand, there's Yamame. Sexy as all hell, and I keep thinking that she might be interested. Why else would she show up dressed like that, openly flirting with me? Unless, of course, she dresses like that because she likes the look, and I'm reading too much into things. Plus, if I did go all the way with her, that might screw up any chances I might have with Hina.
"Romance is never easy," Satori says with a smile. "But if I may suggest? You may want to consider speaking with both of those ladies at length. They may have depths that would surprise you. And in my experience, the reward is all the sweeter when you wait for it." Wait, does that mean- "Though I fear that my own experiences shall remain confidential." She chuckles.
I sigh. "No easy answers, huh?"
"None. I am sorry."
I shake my head. "Don't be. This helps. I guess... I need to stop fretting and actually move forward, huh? See what the people I'm interested in actually think about me, and go from there." I chuckle. "Good place to do it, too. This city, I mean."
Satori nods. "I wish you luck, Aya. And now, if you'll excuse me, it seems that Reimu has withdrawn. I should go make sure that my sister is all right, and has learned from this episode." With a final encouraging nod my way, Satori excuses herself and makes her way down the halls of the Palace. I am alone.
Well, time to go catch up with the others. I make my way in the direction Yamame left, and after getting lost repeatedly, and asking directions from the animals (which point with paws, beaks, and jaws, depending on the species) I finally find my way outside.
In a city full of Oni.
And I forgot to ask directions. Shit.
[ ] Ask Rin, she's still working over there. [ ] Ask one of the Oni. [ ] Start flying, look for the others from the sky.
Our shrine is all about change, after all. Aya already has a good foundation from the oni gentlemen, but conquering her fears like this is bound to be not only positive character growth, but objectively useful if anything ends up happening where Aya would need to be strong and brave.
[x] Start flying, look for the others from the sky.
Because, as someone else pointed out, flying is very therapeutic and gives you time to think. Also, stretching those wings while she can will help when the claustrophobia returns for Round 2. They still have to go back home, which means more tunnels.)
You know what? I need to fly. As in, I really need to fly. Stuck deep underground, with no way out save by another trip through those horrifyingly dark and twisting passages, I suddenly feel the incredible need to just stretch my wings and soar. Fortunately, the ceiling in this place is so damned high that this is actually a reasonable proposition for me. From the air, my sharp eyes can likely find my friends a lot more easily than just by blundering through the city.
...Huh. You know, that's the first time that I've really thought of the others as being my friends. I mean, deep down I've always thought it, but being able to say to myself 'yes, those are my friends,' kinda feels... good.
And so I take to the air, rapidly gaining altitude until I reach the ceiling of the cavern. It... really doesn't take that long, to be honest. I mean, for all that this city is in a very large cavern, it's still an enclosed cavern. I can actually reach out and touch the roof from where I'm flying. Looking down, I-
You know, this place is somehow even more incredible from above. All those lights in every color of the rainbow. Waves of thermals rising, making the roof of the cavern warm. Delicious scents all rising and pooling, the endless bustle of the city, visible from up on high. Distantly I wonder if this is what one of the cities on the Outside is like: full of bustle, energy, and life. I watch as the Oni go about their business, which seems to mainly involve staggering from one drinking establishment to the next, and getting in frequent brawls.
Actually, from what I can tell, drinking and its associated commotion make up 75% of the activities in the city. But the remaining 25% is still pretty incredible on its own. Art! Culture! Laughter! All the things that make up a society! All put together by the frickin' ONI, for crying out loud! I mean, those guys are supposed to rip buildings down, not put them up! And yet, there's constant activity as Oni work crews put up new buildings everywhere.
Of course, the debris surrounding the construction sites suggests that the Oni were the ones to demolish the buildings in the first place, but still.
...We should be doing this. Why the hell is the tengu village some lonely backwater in the mountains, instead of a center of culture for Gensokyo? I mean, we could totally pull it off if the elders would just the sticks out of their butts! If only the others could see this-
Oh for the gods' sake, have I forgotten myself? I may be out of practice, but I am still a reporter! An agent of Truth! And right now, I feel like spreading the Truth of just how far the feared Oni have come, and how much my own kind have been left behind.
I pull out my camera, its familiar weight feeling good in my hand. Hello old friend, I've missed you~! Ready to take some snazzy pictures and wow some people? Why, I bet you are! So let's do it!
I start flying over the city, taking pictures at every angle from the air. Pictures of the buildings, of the laughing people. Shots of the market, of the museums, of the signs of a culture that goes far beyond just drinking establishments. Shots of what a race of youkai can do, when they put their minds to it. Shots of- hey! There's the others right now! They're walking into a place that's even more ostentatious than all of the other buildings all around it. It's decked out in hearts and neon colors, with a picture of a monocle-wearing Oni with a huge grin on his face hanging over the door. The sign proclaims it as-
Huh. Well, I'll be. 'Big Papa's House of Looooooove and Tacos.' I sort of remember that guy from the Hakurei-Scarlet wedding. Bombastic sort of character. Somehow, this building is exactly what I would imagine for his home digs. Well, I guess that's enough photography for now. I'd better go get caught up to the others before they start to worry about me.
"Hi!" a cheerful voice says from behind me.
Blinking, I turn around to see a figure I recognize. Then again, Utsuho Reiuji cuts quite a distinctive figure. I don't think you'd ever miss her in a crowd, or mistake her for anyone else. I don't think I've ever exchanged words with the woman before, but I sure as hell know who she is, even if only by reputation. The hell raven gives me a friendly look with her brilliant orange eyes before glancing down and coughing. "So, um... you realize that you're flashing the city, right?"
I stare at her blankly. "Sorry, what?"
"Well..." Reiuji shifts in obvious embarrassment. "I saw you flying along, and I got curious, because I thought you were another humanoid hell raven, like me! But then I realized that you were a tengu. But that was fine. But then I realized that you might not realize where you are, and flew up to make sure, and..." her face turns a little red. "Well, I found out that you really were flashing the city. Just a heads-up, is all."
I look down slowly, and see a few faces looking back up at me. Said faces wave cheerily. I groan, and rub my face. "This is the downside to flying in a skirt... most people can't see, or have the grace to look away. Frigging Oni and their eyesight..." I look up at Reiuji. "Hey, wait. You're flying, aren't you?"
She wordlessly hands me a small pair of shorts. "Consider them a gift. They're kinda necessary for girls around here. Oni eyesight, like you said."
Awkwardly, I quickly put the shorts on under my skirt, even as a much-loathed part of myself screams at the heresy of it all. Screw you, pervert me; I'm much more refined now! I don't go for cheap thrills anymore, my desires have to be carefully cultivated! Or something like that. Shaking my head at that, I smile at the savior of my modesty. "Thanks for that, I you you one!"
Reiuji just gives me a gentle smile. "Would you like a hug?" she offers quietly.
I blink. "Sorry, what?"
"Would you like a hug?" Reiuji repeats herself. "You're a bird like me, so you like hugs right?"
I have no idea where this is coming from. "Miss Reiuji, I'm flattered, but-"
"Okuu," she corrects me suddenly. "Please call me Okuu. And, um... one of the Oni who deals with the surface brings back that newspaper, and I saw that story about you in it. It was really sad!" Reiuji, or rather Okuu, is now giving me a teary-eyed look. "I mean, you went through all of that! I read it and really wanted to give you a hug! So, do you want one?"
I cough. "Er, you really don't have to-"
"I don't mind!"
"I mean, we just met..."
"Hugs should be free for everybody!" Okuu says, nodding with determination.
I stare at the strange girl. "In front of all of the Oni below us?"
"They lost interest when you put those shorts on, and Oni like hugs, too!" Okuu frowns. "But be careful about hugging them. Sometimes, they can hug too tight. Ouch." She shudders a bit, then perks up again. "So, how about it? You need a hug! Lemme hug you!"
This just gets weirder and weirder! I don't sense any malice or anything form Okuu, so maybe she's just that direct? "Well, I mean, it's not like I'd hate a hug-"
"Great!" Okuu enthuses, and then she grabs me and drags me into a tight hug.
It's very warm.
I mean, she's really warm. And really soft. And her boobs are huge, warm and soft, and she's pressing me right into them. It's so comfortable that I don't even mind that great big eye in the middle of her chest. The weird thing? If this were Yamame or Hina, or maybe anyone else, I'd probably be drooling right now. But something about this just feels so warm and safe. Maybe it's because ravens are bigger than crows, and something inside of me just thinks of Okuu as a big sister or something, respective ages be damned. Maybe it's the honest compassion in her hug. Maybe it's that she's as good at stroking my hair as Satori. I don't know. But it feels nice.
After a bit, Okuu lets go of me, face beaming in a smile. "There! Doesn't that feel better?"
I sway in the air a little bit, feeling hazy and yet warm and fuzzy inside. "Yeah... thanks," I manage.
Okuu nods. "Hugs are great! Oh, and by the way? You need a lover, really bad!"
After a moment in which the panicked Okuu slaps me on the back in an effort to get me breathing again, I reel and gape at her. "What did you just say?!" I squawk.
She shrugs. "You need a lover. Really bad. I can smell it."
My eyebrow twitches. "And you're... offering?"
"Oh, no way!" Okuu replies. waving her hand in negation. "I like guys. No, I just mean that I can smell that you really need a lover, really bad! I mean, wow!" She thinks it over. "Ummm, I know some nice Oni gentlemen if you'd like a nice night..."
"Uh, I really don't need you to set me up or anything," I laugh weakly.
Okuu gives me a concerned look. "Are you sure? It's not good to be so pent up! I mean, one time Rin went forever, and we were getting really worried about her and-"
"I kinda have someone I like and don't want to screw things up with her," I blurt out. Okay, I said it. I just hope she gets the point.
"Oh!" Okuu brightens up at once. "Well, good for you, I hope it goes well! Would you like my help getting together with her? I can be quite the match-maker! It's all in the hugs, you see."
I feel like I'm really out to sea here. "Er... that's not necessary. Actually, I should really go and meet up with my friends, I just saw them duck into Big Papa's-"
"Ah!" Okuu claps her hand together in delight. "That's perfect! Big Papa's the best person to talk to about this sort of thing! Come on, let's go talk to him together! Don't worry, Big Sis Okuu's gonna make it all better~!" With an encouraging wink, the hell-raven seizes my arm and starts dragging me towards the city streets below.
I'm being lugged along by a woman a fraction of my age who insists that she's my big sister now, and is hell-bent on hooking me up with someone. This all occurred over a span of several minutes. What the fuck is up with this city? More importantly, what the hell do I do?!
[ ] Try to break loose. [ ] Call for help. [ ] Try to reason with her. [ ] Go along quietly.
Why are people going for quietly? As messed up as Aya is, she's still a rational person who is trying to figure things out. Okuu busting in the middle of Big Papa talking to the goddesses and telling him that Aya is trying to get hitched is not going to exactly help. It embarrasses Aya and everyone involved, and continues to make Aya look helpless in the eyes of the others.