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14297 No. 14297
"...Careless?" Pushing yourself away from her, your previously spaced out look contorts into a prelude of rage. "A girl... A girl committed suicide in my house, you know! Even if I don't actually live here... It's still my home!"

"But, like I said, she didn't kill herself. She only faked it becau-"

Clenching your fists at your sides, the events up until now finally make you crack, no longer holding anything back. As you begin to yell, Renko's face turns pale, and you feel a stream of hot tears fall down your cheeks.

"It's not the best place, and they aren't the best memories, but... There's no helping it!" Glaring into her eyes, you yell one last thing before merely sobbing. "Whatever it is that's 'normal' around here... i... it's got to change!"

With that, you collapse to the floor, bawling and wiping at your eyes. As cold mucus drips from your nose, you feel two hand pick you up by the armpits, and an arm supports you as you stand.

"...It's not my place to tell you what Maribel- and her dad, too- have been involved in... Let's find your mom."

You merely nod, unable to manage anything else. Walking down the hallway with Renko at your side, you eventually calm down, and walk forward on your own as the two of you continue to look for your mother. Renko asks a few servants along the way, and they all point in the direction of the library, saying that they last saw her there, in that place where your mother seems to spend most of her time.

Looking over at Renko... You can see that she's trying to not look at you. Her gaze is focused ahead and a bit to the right, so that she probably can't even see you as you look at her. Even after watching for a few more seconds, her gaze is steadfast. Sighing heavily, you give up just as the two of you reach the library.

Opening the door, Renko peers in and waves to the person inside, but you rush on ahead of her, jumping at the woman who raised you.

"Oh-" Loosing her balance, she soon recovers, holding your head as you sob. "Aoi... What's wrong?"

"There's been an acc... Um, an accident." Renko speaks slowly, sounding a bit downhearted.

As she continues to stroke your hair, your mother replies, her voice still pleasant and sweet... which is extremely inappropriate for this situation.

"Oh? Did someone break something, or did someone get hurt?"

Turning back to look at Renko... you realize just how pathetic you must look to her. Sobbing, yelling, clinging to your mother as if you were a small child... Slowly, you let go of your mother and speak up in Renko's place, trying to show a bit of courage.

"A maid... Eliza... She's... Um..."

A concerned look spreads across Mrs. Han's face, as she lets go of your head.

"What is it? It's fine if you tell me."

"...She's... dead."

A silence follows, with the three of you all holding your breath. It seems like hours pass by as you all stand there, your eyes in place, your breath held, none of you moving or saying a word. As this false eternity passes, it feels as if you've started to recover from your little breakdown, but... it sounds like someone else might have one.

"...What?" Mrs. Han shakes her head in disbelief, shattering the silence. "What do you mean...? Do you think you saw something wrong, or-"

"She committed suicide in the basement, or that's what it looked like, at least."

Renko's words are harsh and to the point, and that point seems to pierce your mother, as she rushes to the door, pulling a collection of keys from her pocket. Wordlessly, the two of you follow after her, paying no attention to whether or not you're alerting any servants to the situation.

Tearing down the hall, you soon reach the staircase, with Renko and your mother already going into the hall. As you reach the lowest step, you hear them take off down the stairs, and then, once you've gotten to that door... you hear Renko scream.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, you look into the room, wondering why she would suddenly be this shocked. Considering how level headed she was before... She should be able to handle this. As your eyes adjust, you see what had shocked her so badly.

Like she said, the corpse is obviously no longer there. However, in its place... a doll lays in the chair, with countless long, demonic looking pins stuck into it. Each pin looks to be about a foot long, and one of the pins in the front seems to have something attached to it.

A card, the kind that you might play a game with. Not a regular card, of course, as this one has an extremely detailed picture on it, and a name at the bottom, along with its number. Looking it over, you see that it says...

-12 THE HANGED MAN-

Looking on at this scene, you almost scream, too. However, your exhaustion from earlier stops you, and you merely pan your gaze over to the table, which has a large, red pattern scribbled on top of it.

As if it was part of some satanic ritual, a large, demonic pattern has been made on the table with a strange red substance. A circle which contains a square, which holds a circle. Outside of that is the outline of an eight-pointed star, which is also surrounded by eight circles, which are numbered like clocks. Inside the circle is some writing in a language you can't understand, and similar scribbles are on every point of the star, making for a rather creepy display.

"Wh..." Swallowing hard, your mother speaks, a grim look on her face. "What kind of prank is this? Aoi, Renko, did you...?"

Renko shakes her head violently, and you do the same, both of you equally horrified by the odd display. As your mother begins to inspect the scene, she pokes one of the needles, looking closely at its design. Doing the same, you see that the actual needle has odd texts engraved all over the sides, as do the other needles. Your mother merely shakes her head, holding it in her hand as she does so. Rushing over to the door, she glances back to you and Renko.

"I'm going to go get some protection, and some of the staff. Aoi, you stay there. Renko, you check around to see what caused this."

[ ] "Wait! We'll go with you!"
[ ] Nod silently.
[ ] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.

>> No. 14300
[ ] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.
>> No. 14301
[X] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.
>> No. 14302
[x] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.

Weeeeelp, shit.

>Key Words for the Hanged Man Tarot Card Meanings
>* Yield
>* Suspend
>* Surrender
>* Sacrifice
>* Non-Action
>* Submission
>* In-Between
>> No. 14303
[x] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.

Fuck you, Mary. Fuck you.
>> No. 14304
[x] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.
>> No. 14305
[x] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.
>> No. 14309
[X] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.
Hey Mary, you're going stellar job of making people hate you.
>> No. 14317
[x] Wait for her to leave, and then get a closer look at the scene with the doll, card, and needles.
Is there really any need to wait for more votes....?
Also
I just went through the whole story, after not knowing about it's existance for a while.
This is awesome, keep up the good work.
>> No. 14318
>>14317

You're right, I should've gotten to this earlier. It's also nice to know that you're enjoying the story.

Writing now.
>> No. 14319
>>14318

hooray!
>> No. 14320
You nod, and watch as she darts out the door, making her way up the stairs. After a few more footsteps resound from the top of the staircase, the door up above slides open, then shuts firmly, leaving you and Renko to look at the scene.

Turning your head back to the table, you can see that Renko has taken out a small notebook, and has apparently started to draw what the circle on the table looks like, looking at it again and again to be precise. Turning your attention from her for a moment, you focus on the chair with the doll, pins, and the tarot card, squatting down to look at it more closely.

All over the pins, as you saw before, there are scribbles engraved into the metal, most likely from a language you're unable to understand. At the top of the pin is an odd design, with an impression of an eye on all four sides of the base, and various curves and falls in a design which gives it a more refined yet sinister look. Just looking at the thing makes your eyes water, as if steam was rising into them, and you swiftly avert your gaze and look at the card attached to one of the pins.

Number twelve, "The Hanged Man". Thinking back to times before, you remember Maribel and Renko showing you a deck of cards that looked just like this, and was apparently meant to be used for some strange card games, and for telling fortunes. On the card is a picture of a man hung by his feet, looking towards you with a pained look on his face. Still below the card and the pins is the doll, which is made to look like Eliza.

Looking at the thing, you can tell that some special care had been put into crafting it. Golden hair on its head, a small version of the maid's uniform, and... Whoever made the thing also tore its neck open, even though there's no pin to attach to that area.

Stepping back from the thing, you begin to feel uneasy being around a display such as this one. The imitation of Eliza, the satanic pins of an incredible length, and the card on the pins take on a new meaning in your eyes, as you slowly back into Renko's leg.

"Ah? What're you doing down there?" Turning her gaze down to look at you, Renko is holding a familiar book, which Maribel had been obsessing over just a few nights before. "Come on, I'll help you up."

Taking a hold of your hand, she pulls you up to stand again, and you merely look on at the strange book, which has all sorts of strange writings on the inside. Scribbles and jots in a foreign language, one that resembles the language on the pins, and on the center of the next page...

The odd circle that was on the table sits on the next page, looking as menacing as ever. Below it is a large amount of the foreign text, which hurts your head to look at. Turning your attention to Renko, it seems she can see the shock on your face, and she forces a smile as she speaks.

"Oh, are you worried about this...?" Pointing at the book, she lets out a dry laugh, placing her sketch of the circle in between the pages and shutting the tome. "I was worried about it too, and thought this set up had something to do with it. Like I thought, the same things in here were drawn in the book, but..."

Walking towards the door, Renko grabs a bag and opens it up, putting the large book inside. Zipping the thing up, she turns her attention back to you.

"Unfortunately, the entire thing is in Latin, with a bit of Hebrew and Greek included."

Setting the bag down, she makes her way over to a bookshelf and grabs a book, handing it to you and opening it to the first page.

"I'm going to look for a key that'll let me translate it, but it'll take a while... But, you remember what I was talking about earlier, right?"

Slowly, you nod, feeling a bit out of focus right now. Looking down at the book, you understand the letters, and see that the thing is a record on the Han family.

"Mary's family keeps a track of important things that happen involving the family in a large collection of books. For this one, you just have to turn to this page, and..."

Turning the pages, Renko has a focused and determined look on her face, and after getting to a page marked as page 157, she pats the paper and helps you into a seat.

"This should have everything you need to know about the Han family in this area. From their aggression with the people who lived here before to the annihilation of one of their branches, this book has everything recorded. So, read it while I go to look for that one book, okay?"

With that Renko turns your head so you're looking at the pages, and she trots off. Turning your attention back up... You can see that she's no longer in the room, and that it's only you left in here.

[ ] Do as Renko says and read the book.
[ ] Call out for Renko.
[ ] Look in the hall to see if she's out there.
>> No. 14323
[ ] Do as Renko says and read the book.
>> No. 14324
You know what I think?
I think they've all got their little agendas.
>> No. 14325
Wow, Renko, that's pretty cold. "Go read this, I'm busy."

[x] Read the book. You did want to know more about the Han family's past, right?
[x] Plan your revenge on Renko later.
>> No. 14326
>Wow, Renko, that's pretty cold. "Go read this, I'm busy."

We just expressed a desire to end whatever's going on here. We're deadweight if we're not willing to at least do the research.

[x] Do as Renko says and read the book.
>> No. 14329
[x] Do as Renko says and read the book.
>> No. 14331
[X] Do as Renko says and read the book.
And while we read this Renko diseappears and is killed.
>> No. 14332
>>14331

Either that or the book has mystical bullshit powers and drags into Gensokyo or something.

Or Mary sneaks up on us and slits our throat while we're reading.
>> No. 14333
[X] Do as Renko says and read the book.
>> No. 14337
Calling it now. Writing will be attempted with no guaranteed results.
>> No. 14344
>>14337

hooray!
>> No. 14349
For some reason, though, you feel it'd be better to leave her be for the time being. Looking down at the book, you read the title and scan the article beneath, finding nothing interesting. Looking over to the next entry, your eyes widen at the title.

'Four Murders in the city of Himechisoba'

Recognizing that as the name of the city, you swallow hard, wondering just what sort of evil things you're about to read. Glancing down, you continue on.

'When the events leading up to a large disagreement between the locals of the city and the Han family came to a boil, those who joined the Han family's side took matters into their own hands. This was manifest in the form of four murders which were committed in cold blood and without any approval from the Han family.

The first murder was that of a young woman who supported the notion of chasing the Han family out of town. Her throat had been cut open, and worms had been stuffed into her throat. She was found at a shrine in the city, displayed out in the open by the time the sun was up. The murderer was caught and taken away, and we still do not know what happened to them in the end.
'

Holding your mouth with one hand, you look on in terror at those words. What's written down here... matches the death of Eliza, who may or may not be dead, by Renko's logic. A young woman with her throat torn open and worms all over her... it fits the description, shaking off the part about opposing the Han family.

Bracing yourself, you continue reading, slowly looking over the words below those previous words.

'The second murder was that of a young man, who was only said to be murdered. His actual body had never been found, but his blood was found in abundance all over the interior of his kitchen. The man's girlfriend was soon killed, but the police wouldn't confirm the way she died. Not long after the corpse vanished, and they never caught the culprit, who is possibly still hiding to this day.'

...That part wasn't very relevant to you in any way, and you breathe a sigh of relief as a result. You can't help but feel worried, though, as this could be something else that will be 'staged' later on. Reading past some lines about the situation, you come to the end of the article.

'The fourth death was a real mystery.

A religious official had his eyes and tongue removed and placed into a donation box at the shrine. His face was torn apart, with some pieces of skin curling like ribbons, and the meat of his face was torn and mixed. He could no longer be recognized as who he was, but his identification gave him away.

The murderer was soon found, apprehended, and dealt with accordingly.

The Han family would like to say to anyone reading this that they had no part in this, and will never do something of this sinister nature.
'

Looking on in a silent horror, you shake your head. Murders committed by three people, two of which were caught, and one which is still free to this day. You almost close the book before remembering that there was one more article for you to read. Looking once more, you look over the material and find something that sounds relevant and interesting.

'Family Branch Wiped out by Local's Curse'

...A curse? That and the mention of a whole branch of a family being killed sounds odd, but what follows offers no clear answer to the questions the title brings.

'Names will be withheld, as the bearers are forgotten.

With the end of summer in a certain year which has been forgotten, a branch of the Han family was destroyed. The branch had grown rather large, and all its members had gathered for a party to celebrate some event.

All the people there had been poisoned, excluding two individuals. All but one individual had their faces smashed, and their bodies torn. It was blamed on a local curse, and when the police arrived, ribbons were made of the family's ripped flesh and left out on the floor.

One girl was left alive, but she soon disappeared along with the whole mansion, and nothing was left to be discovered about the case.
'

...Swallowing hard, you set the book down, looking around for Renko. Those two stories... you can't help but think that they weren't true, and that whoever wrote them was trying to play a joke or get some cheap writing award.

After having no luck in the library, you head out into the hall and look about, with Renko still not appearing. Looking up, the door at the top of the stairs is slightly cracked. Step by step you ascend the staircase and close it, but then a new light shines in.

Down below, Renko has come out of some hidden room, and is carrying a heavy book. Behind her is a red and green tiling, with an odd jagged pattern on it. Looking down at her, you can see that she hasn't noticed you being out of place.

[ ] Call down to her and ask about the hidden room.
[ ] Watch silently.
[ ] Open the door beside you and leave.

-----

Still not feeling good, so the update was kind of short. Also, I've had ideas for two stories now, and I was wondering if I should give either a try. Here's a quick synopsis for each one of them.

Wonderland
"I don't want it! I'm just a small dream, and when the sun comes, I'll shrivel and be forgotten. No, no, no! I don't want that!" The little dream cried, letting its pleas be known. The two heard the little dream's pleas and grinned between themselves, then granting the dreams heartfelt wish. "We will give you these four fates," they said, "so long as you can entertain us. You will surely not be forgotten, little dream."
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Action?

Meeting of the Four Winds
The winds are picking up during the Yasaka family's meeting this year. As the few ponder the results of the weather, the land below is swallowed up in the waters of a flood, and an ill intent makes itself known as the family's head, Kanako Yasaka, slowly takes a turn for the worse in her "condition". As the winds howl, will this storm of doubt ever pass?
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller?

Should I try running one of those along with AoD, or just stick to this one CYOA for now?
>> No. 14350
[x] Call down to her and ask about the hidden room.

>Should I try running one of those along with AoD, or just stick to this one CYOA for now?

Stick with this one. They're not terrible ideas, but I'd prefer you focus on this.
>> No. 14351
[x] Watch silently.
[x] Call down to her and ask about the hidden room.

[x] Focus on this story for now.

>>14349
>Her throat had been cut open, and worms had been stuffed into her throat. Her throat had been cut open, and worms had been stuffed into her throat.
I wonder, was she fucking her brother at the time (or preparing to)?

>His actual body had never been found, but his blood was found in abundance all over the interior of his kitchen. The man's girlfriend was soon killed, but the police wouldn't confirm the way she died. Not long after the corpse vanished, and they never caught the culprit, who is possibly still hiding to this day.'
Boy that sure does sounds familiar. Was she stuffed into an oil drum?
>> No. 14352
[X] Call down to her and ask about the hidden room.
>> No. 14354
[X] Call down to her and ask about the hidden room.

>With the end of summer in a certain year which has been forgotten, a branch of the Han family was destroyed. The branch had grown rather large, and all its members had gathered for a party to celebrate some event.
I wonder if witches were involved?
>> No. 14355
[x] Call down to her and ask about the hidden room.
>> No. 14357
Deciding to get this in the open now, you clear your throat and call down, waving as you do so.

"Renkooo! What's that room down there? I haven't seen it before."

Renko shrieks as she jumps, her shoulders arched in shock. Turning her head every way, she looks up to see you on the staircase. Instead of sighing with relief, she continues to look at you with a worried look on your face, like a kid who was just caught doing something they shouldn't.

Trotting down the stairs, you walk up to her. Looking curiously at the room behind her, you raise an eyebrow as she blocks your sight, a bead of sweat rolling down her cheek.

"...Is there something you don't want me to see? You already had me read that weird book, so it should be fine, right?"

Swallowing hard, she shakes her head, still blocking your line of sight. Wondering just what sort of sinister thing is back there... You become more determined in your resolve to know the truth, and look at Renko with pleading yet determined eyes, hitting her at her weak spot.

"Come on, I want to see. I want to know just what is going on, so seeing this must be important for that, right?"

A minute passes, with another bead of sweat traveling down Renko's nose. She eventually sighs and lowers her arms, motioning towards the door as she does so.

"Okay, you can look. You should know, however, that it isn't pretty. Are you okay with that, Aoi?"

With a firm nod, you walk forward, Renko leading you into the new room.

While the sides are lined with bookshelves and although there's a few normal desks sitting around... There's some sinister devices in the center of the room. A small chimney-like structure with a marking tool sits in the center of these things, and beside it are torture devices that take a moment for you to comprehend the uses of.

A small table with five rings to hold down a hand, and five small hinged joints which, given their distance from the rings, are meant for removing nails. Next to it is another device, which seems to be the same thing but for use on a foot, or maybe on the whole leg. Dark red surrounds these devices, showing that they've been used in the past. Backing away slowly, you shake your head.

"Things like this... Things like this...!" Breathing at a quick pace, you shake your head harder. "That red, it means something! Were these used? Who were they used on? What are they even fo-"

Renko puts a finger to your lips, and solemnly reaches into her pocket. What she pulls out is a purple nail, like the kind that are fake. The only difference is that this one seems set up to cover an entire empty nail bed.

"When Mary hit you earlier... This fell off of her hand. These things were used some time ago to mark Maribel as the next leader of this household."

Regaining your breath, you study the nail more closely, and see that there's nothing too strange about Renko's story with this evidence. It really does look like Maribel's nail, given its color and size.

"Then... You mean, that branding tool was used for...?"

Renko reaches over and messes up your hair, smiling bitter-sweetly as she speaks. Her voice is low, and a sad look can be seen in her eyes.

"It was used on her hand and thigh. She wears a fake glove to hide the hand's wound, and just keeps the other one hidden under her skirt..."

With that, Renko turns away, looking at the door. Wiping at her eyes really quick, she motions for you to follow.

"Come on. I got the book I needed, and now we should wait in the main library for your mom to get back."

Nodding, you follow her into the room you had previously been in and take a seat. As the two of you sit there, Renko pulls out a bundle of cards and smiles sweetly, looking through them as she does so.

"Maybe we should play that game that the three of us tried playing before. It's kind of scary here, but it's still fun, right?"

Eyes widening, you shake your head, pouting as you do so. Renko chuckles as you speak, a worried tone to your voice.

"No way, I'm not going to make some silly bet and have to do that again! It's way too much for a card game, plus this one is really weird. I mean, why use those cards, and 4 full sets of them, for that matter?"

Still chuckling, Renko continues browsing the cards.

"It's just the way Mary always played it. I think she made it up, too. So we might as well stick to the normal rules and..." A bewildered look appears on Renko's face, and she looks from the cards to the chair with the doll, then back again. "...No way..."

Thinking it over, you notice that the card on the chair is the same kind of card this game is played with. That deck is also the collection of cards that belongs to Maribel, which is all the versions of those cards that she has. Catching onto Renko's shock, you realize what this must mean.

"Renko..." Speaking timidly, you look on at her shaking hands. "That 'The Hanged Man' card is from those cards, isn't it?"

Swallowing hard, Renko sets the cards down and holds her head. She then shakes it slowly, more beads of sweat on her face than there had been before. Her eyes jump around in fear as she thinks, then finally replies to your question.

"No." Her words are sharp and quick. "They're all there, every one of them."

"...What?"

Shaking your head in disbelief, you check the cards over once, then twice, then three times, and yet they're all still there, every single time. Even the one that looks just like the card in the chair. Looking between the two, and then at Renko, you can't find any words for a second. The words soon come to you, and you speak.

"...You mean that... Maribel isn't responsible?"

Renko nods heavily, making sure to not look over at that chair. If Maribel didn't do this, then that means... It was some unknown person inside this mansion.

The next few minutes pass in silence, with the two of you almost calming down. As soon as your nerves are loosened, they're tensed back up by the loud slamming of the door, with your mother now behind it. In her hands is a large gun, and her face is covered in tears as she grits her teeth.

"...Mom?" Standing up, you look at her, surprised. "What's wrong? Why are you carrying a gun, and what happened to that 'protection'?"

It takes a few seconds, but she manages to spit the words out all at once, her voice shaky with grief.

"When I went to check on your father... When I went to c-check on your father...!" She shakes her head and lets it all out. "His eyes were gone, his tongue was gone, and his face was torn to bits!"

With that she falls over, clutching the gun in her hands as she does so. You merely stand there in a silent horror, recalling the words from that book. The words about the fourth murder that took place, and how it was committed. As you stand there, Renko passes in a blur, and her voice is distant. As she helps your mother stand, she calls for you, but it takes a second for you to hear her.

"Aoi! Help me hold her, we can't stay down here much longer. At least, that's what I think."

[ ] Fall to your knees in shock. "...Wh... What?"
[ ] Silently nod and help Renko.
[ ] "What's going on? I thought you said Maribel was just playing some weird joke, but if something like that happened...!"
>> No. 14358
[X] Silently nod and help Renko.

Keep your cool, Watarase Aoi!
>> No. 14359
[X] Silently nod and help Renko.
>> No. 14360
[x] Silently nod and help Renko.

Protection from what? Ze Germans?
>> No. 14361
Sure is Higurashi in here.
>> No. 14362
>>14360
Damn, I love that movie.
>> No. 14363
[x] Silently nod and help Renko.

Ffffffffuuuuuuuuuu
>> No. 14386
Silently, you do as Renko says, and help carry your mother out of the basement. She locks the door behind her as you leave, and the three of you make your way down the hall, with Renko calling for Maribel as they walk along.

A few servants try to help, but your mother tells all of them to stay away, waving the gun around like a bat as she does so. A horribly paranoid look is in her eyes, and her teeth grit together as she screams at the workers. Eventually, one of them gets close enough to grab the barrel and speak freely. He speaks as the three of you continue down a new hall, walking backwards as he talks.

"I believe that the young Miss said she was going to check something up on the top floor." He lets go of the barrel and backs away, so he can no longer be hit. "She was really concerned about it, too. I can accompany you if-"

"No!" Shaking her head, your mother refuses again and again, now standing on her own. "No, no, NO! None of you will touch her, you're all probably sent from the other branches of the family. I'm right, aren't I?"

The butler merely shakes his head, and steps out of the way, letting your mother continue past him. You and Renko hurry to catch up with her as she ascends a set of steps, leaving the concerned servants behind.

"What are you going to do, mom?" Breathing steadily, you manage to run right behind her, alongside Renko. "And what was that about? Were you calling the servants spies back there?"

She nods, making a small sound from her throat as a way to say 'yes'. Renko speaks up, an alarmed tone to her voice.

"He was really dead? Someone really killed him?" Breathing harshly, she frowns. "If that's the case, then what're we going to do?"

Slowing down, your mother finally looses her energy to run, and breathes deeply as she stands in place. Turning to face Renko, she smiles sadly, gripping the gun tighter in one hand.

"We're not staying here. We'll take the sturdiest car I have, and get out of here before any one of those servants can do a thing." She reaches into her pocket and pulls several car keys out, a sly smile coating her face. "I took all of them, too. They won't be able to follow us, if that is their intent."

Renko swallows hard, and you merely let your mind buzz freely, unable to hold back any of the thoughts. Wondering why your mother is so suspicious, wondering just what had been going on all these months you lived in this city... It's hopeless, but you're finally sure of it. No matter what, they have to tell you the whole truth about the situation, and finally let you out of the dark.

"Why would someone want to kill d... dad?" It takes a moment to call him that, but you manage to speak in a collected tone. "Especially someone from the same family! Just what is going on here?"

The three of you once again jogging up a set of stairs, you wait a minute for a reply. It comes, but it isn't just what you wanted to hear from her.

"This family... Is like a pack of cannibals." A grim look in her eyes, your mother continues to speak, now checking through a few different rooms. "Cannibals with no code among themselves. If one of them gets fat, the others band together for a short time to eat him, and in the end they'll probably swallow each other up."

A dazed look in her eyes, Renko speaks with a harsh tone, her fists clenched.

"What is that supposed to mean? Can't you just say it plain and simple, and not use such a weird example?"

Coming to a halt, your mother merely shakes her head, before checking the next room. Inside the room is that blond girl you've come to dislike, stuffing a few odd statues and sticks into a small bag. Zipping it up, she looks at the three of you and sighs, then looking out the window.

"...So, we're really going to leave this place behind?" The pitter-patter of the rain has become more gentle, and it seems to have calmed down significantly. "What if people die while we're gone...?"

Your mother twists her brow about for a moment, biting her lower lip. A pained look is in her eyes, and, brushing one of her large locks of hair back, she speaks.

"I'll take responsibility for that, so long as we're all safe." Grabbing Maribel's arm, she pushes the door open and exits, leading your group of four down the hallway. "We're leaving, and I'll tear down anyone that gets in our way. So brace yourselves."

...As you continue walking down the hall, you wonder if this woman is really your mother. She looks like her, and she sounds like her, but... She doesn't act the same. She acts like Ms. Han, the widow, who is determined to protect her children at all costs...

Watching her drill-like hair sway back and forth, you sigh. The whole ordeal tonight has really been eating at your sense of reality, since all of this seems like a horrible dream at the moment. As the four of you enter a garage, you hear gunfire. Turning your attention in its direction, you can see that your mother shot at the wall next to a servant who was heading your way. The maid, who you recognize as the "Koto" girl, backs away, closing the door with a frightened look on her face.

...The truth is, you kind of envy her. She's a fairly new servant, who could just quit the job with no hassle. Looking at yourself, it's impossible to quit being Maribel's step-brother, to quit being a new member of this family, and to quit being involved in all of this...

Climbing into the backseat of the van your mother chose, the garage door steadily opens. Renko has taken the wheel, after convincing your mother that she's in no condition to drive. The two of you hold in your disgust at what's beyond the shutter, so that Maribel and your mother wouldn't notice.

On the other side of the shutter, facing directly towards the car, are two severed eyes and a tongue. On the tongue is a card, which you couldn't read the name of, but you're sure it was a tarot card that sat there. As Renko pulls forward, she speeds up a bit, leaving the things behind as quickly as she can. You remain silent for some time, as the four of you sit in the car, at the end of the driveway.

Oddly enough, the water from the rain isn't on any of the surrounding houses. It's also not on half of the road, and it almost looks like it had only fallen over the mansion itself before the raincloud vanished. Letting out a big yawn, Renko looks at the time, which is a while past twelve AM.

"Huh... Now that we're out, what are we going to do?"

Maribel clears her throat and speaks up. In the mirror, you can see her holding your mother's arm, comforting her as she talks.

"We were going to stay in a hotel for the night, but I'm low on pocket money, so we can only afford one room with two beds..."

Renko nods, and puts the car in park as you all sit there. Rubbing her chin, she turns her attention to you, her eyebrows raised.

"Aoi, what do you think? Do you prefer any place to stay?"

[ ] "I'd really rather go back to my own apartment..."
[ ] "Maybe Mary could go with you, and I could stay with my mom?"
[ ] "I'd like to go back to your house, if that's fine..."
>> No. 14388
[X] "I'd like to go back to your house, if that's fine..."

But damn it, I'll be ripping my throat open if this results in Renko's sister being dragged into the whole deal.
>> No. 14389
[x] "I'd really rather go back to my own apartment..."
>> No. 14390
BAND

THE FUCK

TOGETHER

[ ] "I'd like to go back to your house, if that's fine..."
[ ] Don't let mom leave.
>> No. 14391
When people start dropping dead all around you, the rules of propriety go out the window.

[x] You'll all go to the hotel. Renko and Mary can share a bed; you and your mother can share a bed.
>> No. 14392
[x] You'll all go to the hotel. Renko and Mary can share a bed; you and your mother can share a bed.
>> No. 14393
[x] You'll all go to the hotel. Renko and Mary can share a bed; you and your mother can share a bed.
>> No. 14394
[x] You'll all go to the hotel. Renko and Mary can share a bed; you and your mother can share a bed.
>> No. 14404
[x] You'll all go to the hotel. Renko and Mary can share a bed; you and your mother can share a bed.
>> No. 14414
Calling the votes. Going to try to update after I wake up.
>> No. 14425
>>14414

hooray!
>> No. 14428
"...I think we should all stay together."

At this, Renko raises an eyebrow. Smiling meekly, you continue to speak as a speed limit sign passes by.

"I mean, after all that's happened, I think it's most important for everyone to be with each other... Right?" Balling your hands together, you look down and speak lowly. "After all, I don't want any of us to end up like..."

A short silence passes, with Renko merely steering the car, and the two in the back remaining silent. Another second passes, and Renko suddenly starts chuckling, her eyes still fixed on the road. She's paying such a close attention to the street, despite there being no other cars out and about at this time of night.

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. What do you two think?" Adjusting the mirror to look at Maribel and your mother, Renko continues. "Think we can all fit into that room?"

Shrugging, Maribel smirks. She's no longer holding your mother's arm, and she doesn't look as depressed as everyone had been earlier. Your mother also looks cheerier, though signs of worry and heartache are still apparent on her face.

"I guess we can. They have double beds, after all. So I guess you and I can share one, while Aoi and mother share the other."

Your mother merely nods in agreement, and Renko makes a turn, pulling up to a large, impressive looking building. It take a moment for it to register to you, but you then realize that this is the hotel they had been talking about. Wondering why it would still have lights on and be open this late, you exit the car, and the four of you enter the building.

The lobby is large and extravagant, with a few flat screen televisions and various other forms of entertainment around the area. You notice a few more things, such as a chess board, a room with a roulette wheel and some odd tables, and a pool table. Following the other three to the check in desk, the man there is quick to recognize the oldest one of you.

"Oh, Mrs. Han!" An exaggerated smile coating his face, he sets his hands down against the counter. "What brings you here? Needed to get out of the house, or...?"

It takes a moment for her to speak, but surely enough your mother replies, a small, forced smile on her lips.

"I just needed to get away from the home, and my daughters and their friend followed me. I'd like one room, if that would be fine."

Stroking his chin, the man raises an eyebrow. After picking up a phone, he talks lowly to someone on the other end of the line before hanging the receiver up and turning to face your mother once more.

"Well, the manager said he'd like to thank you for your support the past year. I believe he said that he'd like to meet with you in the morning, and that he'll gladly upgrade your room and provide you with an extra one beside it, for free. That is, if you're willing to speak with him."

A humbled look on her face, your mother raises a hand and shakes her head slowly, her large curled locks of hair swishing about.

"No, I couldn't do that. We'll be fine with the normal room, really..."

...Her eyes shining, Renko speaks up, putting one hand on your mother's shoulder as she speaks.

"Oh, come on. You can't turn down such a nice gift, can you?" Winking at you and Maribel, she continues. "If the room is right next to the other one, then Aoi and I can take it. It'd be grea-"

"A-Absolutely not!" A slight blush on her cheeks, your mother speaks in a hushed yell. "I couldn't have you two all alone in that room by yourselves..."

The man at the counter raises his eyes, a curious expression over his face. A few seconds pass and Maribel chimes in, holding your mother's other shoulder.

"Oh come on, it sounds like a great idea." A gloomy smile on her face, she somehow speaks in a sing song voice that doesn't match her disposition in the least. "I'd like to have a bed all to myself, and I'm sure they would too. Please?"

Holding her head, your mother groans lowly. Renko and Maribel have let go of her shoulders, and the man behind the counter has returned to a normal expression. As the four of you stand there, a couple walks past, making their way outside of the closing doors. Looking in the direction they came from, you notice that the hotel extends a good ways back, with a large number of rooms in the back. As you gaze out at the scene, your mother turns to you with a confused expression on her face.

"Aoi..." Still holding her head, she looks at you with pleading eyes. "Is it really okay? Can I trust you to be a good bo- er, girl?"

[ ] "Of course!"
[ ] "Actually, I think you're right. I'll stay in the room with you."
[ ] Look around nervously, avoiding the question.

-----

Sorry about the wait. Life has been really hard lately, but I'll make sure to update again in two hours if I get at least 3 votes for the same thing before then.
>> No. 14429
[x] "Of course!"

Aoi is a good boy~

Girl.

Whatever.
>> No. 14430
[ ] "Of course!"
>> No. 14431
>"Is it really okay? Can I trust you to be a good bo- er, girl?"
...I don't really like how she puts that.

[X] "Of course!"
>> No. 14432
"Oh..." Holding a finger to your chin, you nod slowly. "Yeah... Yes mam, of course!"

Holding her breath for a second, she just looks at you nervously. She then breathes out, rubbing her forehead as she does so.

"...I guess it's fine then." Turning back to face the man at the desk, she nods slowly. "I'll meet with him in the morning, so we'll take those two rooms."

The man hands her the keys and nods politely, then pointing towards the elevators.

"Your rooms are 145 and 147 on the fifth floor. Please enjoy your stay."

With a small bow, your mother leads the three of you to the elevators, and then presses the "up" button. It takes a minute, but the elevator soon arrives, and the four of you enter. After pressing the button for the fifth floor, your mother goes back to holding her head, with a distressed look on her face.

Noticing how she's held her head this whole time, you speak up.

"Mom?" Raising your eyebrows a little, you look at her face. "Are you okay?"

"...I suppose so." Now setting her hand against the bar of the elevator, she sighs. "I've just been feeling a little dizzy since what... happened back there."

The elevator doors open, and the four of you exit. Walking down the hall, Maribel now speaks up, a concerned tone to her voice.

"Maybe you should lie down a while." Brushing a lock of hair from her face, she continues. "It can't be good to walk around when you feel like that."

Shaking her head, your mother opens the door to her room. Renko does the same for the room you're in, which has a slightly different design on the door. Peeking into the room your mother opened, you can see that there's a small kitchen, two large beds, and a large television in the room. There's also a balcony and a bathroom, along with a small closet.

Looking into the room you and Renko are in, you can see a similar setup, only with an extra door in it, which isn't connected to the other room. Walking in, you look around as Renko sets her bag down on the closest bed. Walking over to you, she hands you a small card key, with the room number on one side.

"Here." A small grin on her face, she nods. "This one's yours, so don't lose it, okay?"

"Oh... Yeah." Pocketing the card, your eyes wander around the room again. "...I'm kind of hungry."

Picking her bag up again, Renko nods calmly. Looking in the refrigerator, she shakes her head then looks back towards you.

"Nothing in here. It makes sense, since you wouldn't want to leave food in a hotel like that." Shutting the door to the thing, she makes her way over to the bathroom and opens the door. "I'm gonna use this, and then maybe we can go eat something. Okay?"

You just nod as she closes the door, and you then sit down on the edge of one bed. Looking at the skirt of the weird outfit you had been wearing, you figure that you should change into something less flashy... Only, there's nothing else to wear.

Sighing, you stand and make your way over to the door connecting the two rooms. Opening it up, you look inside to see only Maribel in there, sitting on a bed, unpacking a bag of various items, such as bottles, statues, and clothing. One thing she pulls out is an old summer uniform, which is the one that your school uses.

"...Oh..." Looking at it, you wonder if she might be willing to let you wear it. It's then that she notices you at the door, and raises a brow.

"Hmm? What do you want?" Setting a few more articles of clothing on the bed, she sighs. "It better be important, I'm about to take a shower."

Swallowing hard, you look at all the things she had packed, and wonder if she had planned to leave the mansion for some reason. It's then that Renko's theory about Mary faking the whole thing enters your mind, and you wonder just what really happened back there.

Ignoring this, you speak up, looking at the uniform on the edge of the bed.

"I hate to ask, but... Could I use that?" When she looks at everything she's unpacked, you point to the uniform so she can know what you mean. "All I have is this weird outfit that Renko gave me, and it'd be nice to have something a little more normal to wear."

It takes a moment, but she sighs heavily, shaking her head as she does so.

"Well, it seems strange to wear it here, but sure." Picking it up, she holds it out to you. "It's not like I need it, anyway. It just made me think of when Renko and I went to high school together."

You nod slowly, and utter a small 'thank you'. Mary merely harrumphs as you say that, and you close the door between the rooms afterwards. The bathroom door is open, and you notice that Renko isn't anywhere in the oddly spacious place. Looking at the rest of the room, you still don't see her. The thought that she might have already gone to look for food hits you, and you can't believe that she would leave you behind like that.

[ ] Go ahead and change anyway.
- [ ] Use the bathroom.
- [ ] Change in the open space of the room.
[ ] Go ahead and look for Renko. You can change later.
[ ] Go back and ask Mary if she knows where Renko could have run off to.

-----

And that's it for the night. I'll try to update again when I get up, or at least later in the day.
>> No. 14433
[ ] Go ahead and change anyway.
- [ ] Use the bathroom.
>> No. 14444
[X] Go ahead and change anyway.
- [X] Change in the open space of the room.

Roomy is good, and... I like maximizing our chances of being seen.
>> No. 14446
[X] Go ahead and change anyway.
- [X] Change in the open space of the room.

I hope it's obvious that we'll be looking for Renko after we're done changing.
>> No. 14449
[X] Go ahead and change anyway.
- [X] Change in the open space of the room.
>> No. 14452
[X] Go ahead and change anyway.
- [X] Change in the open space of the room.

Oh yes.
>> No. 14454
"..."

Shrugging to yourself, you set the outfit down on the nearby bed and look at it. Aside from the usual things on a school uniform, this one has something odd... Some little pin on it, shaped like the letter "o". On the edges of the thing are four spikes, and it's pinned to the left side of the uniform. Deciding to leave it there, you begin to take the dress Renko had given you off.

After taking off the hat, you begin to unzip the dress, taking care to not get yourself with the zipper. Folding it up is a bit of a struggle, due to the twin tails at the bottom of the outfit, but you manage to get it folded and put away in a drawer. Searching the room, you soon find a blue ribbon to tie your hair with, and make your way into the bathroom.

Pulling your hair back, you tie it off with the ribbon, leaving some hair loose at the edges of your face. Smiling, you flick the ponytail once before going back into the main room. As you reach the bed, the door behind you opens, and someone comes walking in.

"Aoi? Are you still in here? We need to hurry up and ea-"

Turning around, you see Renko standing at the door, frozen in place as she looks at you. After a second passes, you feel a rush of blood make its way to your face, and you hide yourself behind the wall.

"Eh..." Stepping backwards and closing the door, Renko sounds a bit nervous. "I'll just... um, leave you to change..."

The door shuts, and it take you a moment to notice your heart beating fast. As you hold your chest, the blush doesn't go away, and you soon find yourself breathing hard.

...Collecting yourself, you shake your head and grab the clothing on the bed, and quickly change into it. After putting on the skirt and top, you put on the socks that go with it before finally wearing the shoes. Still a bit shaken, you make your way to the door and open it, peeking out as you do so.

"Oh..." Renko looks at you a bit nervously, but eases up. "...Uh."

Not saying a word, the two of you soon find yourselves in an awkward silence. Another moment passes, and Renko points in the direction of the elevators.

"Well... Let's get going, okay?"

...Smiling a bit, you nod. It doesn't take long to board the closer elevator and go down a floor, but it stops, letting another person on.

For some reason, he seems a bit strange. Gray hair on his head, and a bit of stubble on his face, the elderly looking man bows his head politely as the elevator goes down. You and Renko bow your heads back, and that's when you notice something odd about him.

Just like you, he's also wearing a strange pin on his clothing. On the left side of his sports coat is a pin just like yours, though it shines a bit more than yours does. As the elevator reaches the first floor, the three of you exit, all walking in the same direction. It seems a bit odd for him to go the exact same way you're going, but you shrug it off as you and Renko enter the restaurant.

"Ah, hello." The man behind the podium greets you, as the elderly man continues on into the restaurant. "A Han member, I see. Are you here with Mrs. Han?"

"Oh... Yes, we are." Nodding slowly, you watch the elderly man vanish into the restaurant through the corner of your eye. "If we could get a table near the front, that'd be nice..."

Adjusting her tie, Renko laughs a bit, her brow raised.

"Near the front? That's so boring! We want a window seat, if you don't mind!"

The man bobs his head quickly, and picks up to menus before leading you through the restaurant. A large number of people are here, though most of them are wearing similar things. Long, flashy dresses, and clean, cut suits make up the interior of this place, all the people wearing them talking between each other and laughing. A few people look at you in a strange way as you pass by, paying more attention to the pin on your chest than anything else.

As the man seats you, you hear a woman whisper in the booth next to yours.

"Did you see that pin on her chest?" She speaks in a hushed voice, apparently trying to keep anyone else from hearing her. "With that pin, she must have some big connection to the Hans!"

A man speaks to her with an agitated tone, though you can't make out what he's saying. The woman speaks back with a bit of haste, rushing her words so that you can't hear them. As the waiter leaves to attend to other customers, Renko looks over the menu.

"Oh, wow." Her eyes sparkling a bit, she breathes slowly as she looks over the menu. "I know they said we could have anything for free, but... This is some expensive stuff."

Opening your own menu up, you see that she isn't exaggerating. All sorts of strange things you've never heard of are on the list, and it's hard to find anything that doesn't sound like the meal for a stuffed shirt type of person. A type of large mushroom catches your attention, and you wonder just how the thing might taste. With bits of crab, cheese, vegetables, and all sorts of other things, you also wonder just how large it is.

It's then that a commotion nearby catches your attention. A waitress slips a bit, dropping her plate as she does so... Though it's the way she looks that catches your attention. Blond hair, a braid tied behind her head, and a fairly large chest... She looks just like the maid who disappeared from the mansion. As she cleans her mess and trots off, you notice something else a bit odd.

Sitting at the bar, sipping an expensive looking drink, is your mother. Next to her is the old man from before, who is going through a few papers that he had brought with him. She merely nods as the man moves his lips at a surprisingly fast rate, and the whole scene just seems a bit... strange.

"Aoi!" Looking at you with a small sliver of a smile, Renko taps your menu. "I think I'm going to have the steak, what about you?"

[ ] "Oh... Yeah, the mushroom thing sounded good to me."
[ ] "I... Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the bar.
[ ] "Oh, I'm not sure yet."
>> No. 14455
[ ] "I... Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the bar.
>> No. 14456
[x] "I... Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the bar.
>> No. 14458
[X] "Oh... Yeah, the mushroom thing sounded good to me."
[X] "I... Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the bar.
>> No. 14459
[x] "I... Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the bar.

Aoi's meat~
>> No. 14460
>A type of large mushroom catches your attention, and you wonder just how the thing might taste. With bits of crab, cheese, vegetables, and all sorts of other things, you also wonder just how large it is.
Oh Aoi...
>> No. 14461
Anyone else wonder why Aoi's mom has a room ready for her and why the receptionist seems so friendly and familiar? Not to mention that bit about talking with the manager.

Maybe she's been having an affair?
>> No. 14476
[X] "Oh... Yeah, the mushroom thing sounded good."
[X] "I... Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the bar.

Oh dear, whatever is going on... if it's something that will hurt us, I do hope our mother isn't involved in it.
>> No. 14479
Okay, writing now.

Also, including "[X] "Oh... Yeah, the mushroom thing sounded good."" since including it wouldn't change too much, anyway.
>> No. 14482
"Oh, yeah..." Looking at the menu again, you nod. "Yeah, that mushroom thing sounded good to me."

Renko nods, rubbing her chin a bit as she does so. Looking back towards the bar, your mother and the man are still there, talking as they had been. Finding the whole thing suspicious, you can't help but mention it to Renko.

"I also... Renko, am I seeing that right?" You point towards the bar, probably looking a bit concerned. "I mean, is that really happening right there?"

Renko turns about, and looks at the scene. After a few seconds pass she turns back, and nods, her mood not any darker.

"Yeah, it looks like she must be talking to someone from the hotel." Folding her hands together, Renko rests her head on top of them, and smiles. "It looks pretty official, so I don't think there's anything to worry about. We should just enjoy ourselves, right, Aoi?"

Silently, you nod. As you look back at the menu, thoughts about potential affairs and strange business deals enter your mind, only to be shooed away even quicker. A few more moments pass by, and your waiter reappears, a broad smile on his face.

"I'm sorry for the wait." Bowing respectfully, he clutches a plate to his chest. "What will you two be having this evening?"

Renko grins happily, passing her menu over to the man as she speaks.

"I'll have the steak, well done and with a baked potato." Setting her arm back down on the table, she continues. "I'd also like some cheese on the potato, please."

The man nods, and hold the menu together with the plate. He then turns his beaming gaze towards you, waiting patiently for your order. It take a moment, but you give him the menu as you speak.

"I'll have the stuffed mushroom, with no sides."

Taking your menu up, the man bows, and continues to smile in a way that makes you feel reassured.

"Thank you. Your orders will be out shortly."

As he leaves, Renko looks around the room you're in. There's an odd number of people around for this time of the night, you admit inwardly to yourself. The thought that some big event might have happened enters your mind, and you decide that it might be the case. Turning your attention back to Renko, you can see that she's found some table-side salt crackers, and has already opened a packet.

"Mm, these are pretty good..." Chewing over one of the small crackers, she holds one out to you. "Want one, Aoi?"

Nodding, you take it and eat it quickly, seeing the waiter reproach already. The plate is now in one hand, with a small fold-out table in the other. After unfolding the table, he sets the large plate down on it, and places both meals down in front of the two of you.

"Wow!" Looking at her hot, somewhat dry steak Renko grins excitedly. "That was pretty quick."

Grinning proudly, the waiter bows his head and sets your food down. Rather than one really large mushroom, it's two moderately large mushrooms, both filled with the stuffings mentioned on the menu. After bowing once more, the man departs, simply wishing for you two to enjoy your meal as he goes.

Cutting off a bit of one mushroom, you put it in your mouth and feel all the tastes of the dish hit you at once. Chewing it over, a heavenly look spreads over your face, much to Renko's amusement.

"That good, huh?" Snickering, she cuts off a piece of her steak and chews it over. Swallowing, she continues. "Mine's pretty good, too. This place really is incredible."

...Your thoughts shifting back to your mother, who is still sitting at the bar, your tone becomes a bit more serious as you speak to Renko.

"...Ren, what kind of connection do you think mom has with the manager?" Taking another bite of your food, you wait for a reply.

"Ah." Finishing off a slice of potato, Renko speaks cautiously. "Well... I'm sure it's nothing bad. What with how involved your family has been in this community, I guess that maybe she supported this hotel... or something."

"Hmm..." Holding your head against your cheek, you take another bite and swallow. "...'Or something', huh?"

Renko laughs a bit nervously, waving her hand as she does so. The smile on her face perks you up a bit, and she speaks tenderly, as if trying to reassure you.

"It's okay, Aoi. You can relax." She pats your arm, and continues to smile warmly. "Your mother wouldn't do a single thing to hurt you, I'm sure of it."

Nodding a bit, a sliver of a grin hits spreads over your face. Renko laughs lowly, and pulls her arm back, now almost finished with her meal. As your fork hits against your plate, you realize that you've already finished, and that Renko must be trying to catch up to you.

Just as she finishes off her food, the waiter reappears, still smiling in a calming and friendly way.

"I see that you two are finished. Did you enjoy it?" The two of you nod, and the man chuckles warmly, his features softening. "That's good, I'll make sure to tell the chef that he did an excellent job. Might you two be interested in a bit of dessert tonight?"

"Eh, I dunno..." Puffing her cheeks out in thought, Renko's brow twitches. "Are you up for it, Aoi? I mean, that cinnamon apple thing did look pretty good..."

[ ] "Yeah, some dessert would be nice."
[ ] "No thanks, I'm full."
- [ ] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
- [ ] Once the waiter leaves, ask her if she wants to go back to the room and sleep.
- [ ] Once the waiter leaves, get closer to the bar and listen in on your mother's conversation.
>> No. 14483
[ ] "No thanks, I'm full."
- [ ] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
>> No. 14484
[ ] "No thanks, I'm full."
- [ ] Once the waiter leaves, get closer to the bar and listen in on your mother's conversation.
>> No. 14485
[X] "Yeah, some dessert would be nice."
- [X] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
>> No. 14492
Ren wants dessert, so if we're going to ply her for information, we may as well indulge her here.

[x] "Yeah, some dessert would be nice."
- [x] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
>> No. 14494
>Smiling, you flick the ponytail once
Hnnnnnggggh

>"Did you see that pin on her chest?" She speaks in a hushed voice, apparently trying to keep anyone else from hearing her. "With that pin, she must have some big connection to the Hans!"
AS YOU KNOW, YOUR FATHER, THE KING

...Let us guess these sorts of things ourselves, Nine.
>> No. 14495
[x] "Yeah, some dessert would be nice."
- [x] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
- [x] Keep an eye on your mother and the man as Renko talks.
>> No. 14498
[x] "Yeah, some dessert would be nice."
- [x] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
>> No. 14501
It looks like the votes are about determined, but I'll leave this open for another hour or so anyway.

>>14494

Hmm, okay. Noted down for the future.
>> No. 14503
[x] "Yeah, some dessert would be nice."
- [x] Once the waiter leaves, ask her about translating that text with that book she had.
- [x] Keep an eye on your mother and the man as Renko talks.

Goddamn.
>> No. 14504
Going to have to go updateless tonight. Sorry.
>> No. 14516
"Yeah," Smiling, you nod. "Some dessert would be nice."

"Okay then, we'll have that cinnamon apple crust thing!"

Renko grins as she looks at the waiter, who grins back graciously. He nods and walks off to put in the order for the dish, and, once he's vanished from sight, you speak to Renko in a somewhat hushed tone.

"Renko..." Holding a hand to your mouth, you feel a bit silly. "You remember the book on Latin you had, right? When were you going to work on translating that weird text with it?"

Renko shrugs a bit, holding a hand behind her head. You look about the restaurant as she does so, keeping an eye on your mother in the process. She's going through all the papers that the man brought her, a less than excited look on her face as she does so. A different drink is next to her arm, now. It's a blue liquid with a lime and a little umbrella in it, partially emptied already.

"Hmm... I was thinking tonight, but it may be better to handle that in the morning." Yawning, Renko stretches her arms out and then continues. "I'm really tired as it is."

"Oh... Yeah." You nod, feeling a bit exhausted yourself. "So, what do you think it says?"

Renko shrugs once more, looking baffled and only the slightest bit agitated.

"Eh, I'm not sure." She sounds as if she were talking about some sort of unfavorable, nasty subject. "Whatever it says, it's probably some sick lie that Maribel wants to use as a guideline. Or something."

"Hmm." Nodding, you reply. "Or something."

Another crash. The same waitress, who looks just like Eliza, is once again responsible. A waiter soon approaches and scolds her, you and Renko watching all the while.

"You haven't even been here a day, and already you mess up like this!" The man's face is an expression of disgust. "Do you really think you're fit to work here?"

The girl merely stays silent, casting her gaze to the ground. The man harrumphs before marching off, leaving her to clean the mess on her own. After a few more moments, Renko speaks up again, a sarcastic tone to her voice.

"He's a real ray of sunshine, huh?" Chuckling a bit, she points her gaze back to the waitress. "Hmm. It's kind of weird, how she looks like Eliza, right? Do you think she might be a relative or something?"

You shrug, watching as the waitress bends over and cleans the mess. Her skirt bounces a bit as she does so, but it comes to rest as she stands once more, having cleaned it up quickly. Marching off into the kitchen, she stays straight and tall. No more than a minute later, there's a scream and another crash, followed by a young girl's apologizing.

"Heh." Grinning, Renko shakes her head. "She may look like Eliza, but she's nowhere near as graceful and skilled. Eliza would never spill a plate like that."

"Hmm... Yeah."

Not feeling talkative, you turn your attention back to the bar to see your mother sign one paper, close the envelope it's in, and then hand it back to the old man. She then stands from her spot and takes her leave, heading towards the entrance of the restaurant. Not long after, the waiter returns with your dessert, which you and Renko begin to eat after thanking him and saying that it'll be all.

Eating a bite of the thing, you chew it over, savoring the taste. As you do so, someone in the booth one over thumps hard against the seat, making you drop the spoon you had been using. It falls down into a pile of dust that was apparently left after a recent cleaning, and, after you pick it up, you find that it's useless now.

"Hey, hey..." After you've set it down away from you, Renko speaks up, putting a spoonful of the stuff up near your face. "Say 'aah'."

"E-eh... 'Aah'?"

As you blush heavily, she sticks the spoon in your mouth, which you realize is the spoon that she had been using. A big, silly grin on her face, she pulls the spoon back and gets another scoop of the stuff.

"Say 'aah', Aoi!"

...Your heart pounding, you give in, even though it's embarrassing. Renko chuckles as she spoon feeds you the dessert, taking a bite for herself every now and then. As the whole scene passes, you avoid the stares of a few restaurant patrons.

After having finished the food, the two of you exit the restaurant, heading back to the elevators. The whole while, Renko seems deep in thought, occasionally glancing at you before drifting off into thought once more. As the elevator goes up, you, too, start to think.

...Even though she's a bit strange, she's acted even more strange recently. Having you wear that dress, feeding you with her own spoon, and even making it obvious that she likes you more than Mary... Is it possible that Renko is-

"Come on, Aoi!"

Beckoning you to follow, you find yourself on the roof now, for some odd reason. You follow after Renko, who brings you over to an edge of the building, where the moon is clear up in the sky. The silly girl grins in a sheepish way, wiggling the toes of her shoes as she does so. A gleam is in her eyes as she looks up at the moon.

"...Renko, why are we up here?" You probably look a little afraid right now, though you don't feel any fear. Not of Renko, at least. "We should be getting to sleep soon..."

"Yeah, we should..." Her eyes still on the moon, Renko sighs. "I just like to look at the sky, though. When I look up at it, no matter where I am... I know where I am."

Pausing, you take in her strange words, thinking them over in your head.

[ ] "Where you are? What is that supposed to mean?"
[ ] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."
[ ] Remain silent.
>> No. 14521
[ ] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."

That was beautiful.
>> No. 14527
[X] "Where you are? What is that supposed to mean?"
>> No. 14538
[ ] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am, just that it's somewhere I'd rather not be."

CAN YOU PLUCK A STAR OUT OF THE NIGHT SKY, WITHOUT GETTING BURNED?
NO!
SUCH IS AOI!
>> No. 14539
[x] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."
[x] After a minute or two, or when there's another long silence, take her hand in yours.

Wherever you go, there you are.
>> No. 14544
[x] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."
>> No. 14549
>>14519
Vote deleted to favor the write-in of >>14539
[x] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."
[x] After a minute or two, or when there's another long silence, take her hand in yours.

Again, this update was glorius.
>> No. 14551
Considering the winner to be
[x] "...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."
[x] After a minute or two, or when there's another long silence, take her hand in yours.

Writing.
>> No. 14552
"...Well, when I look up at the sky, I still don't know where I am."

Renko gives you a strange gaze, then grins. Walking around with her hands behind her back, she continues to speak, not allowing the scene to fall silent.

"That's deep, but not what I was getting at." She chuckles, nodding happily to herself. "I meant that I really can tell where I am, by looking at the sky..."

The roof then falls into silence, and Renko looks up at the moon once more. Breathing slowly, she speaks at a level where you almost can't hear her.

"The time is... Two hours and twenty-eight minutes in the morning." Her eyes fixed on the sky and stars, she continues to speak, a bit louder now. "Twenty-one seconds, twenty-two, twenty-three..."

As she counts out the seconds, you wonder if she's really correct. She seems to be acting more like a device for telling time than a person, at the moment.

"The current location is the city of Himechisoba, six-point-three miles to the west is the abandoned Hakurei Shrine, a graveyard is nine-point-two miles to the west, and the Han mansion is zero-point-five miles to the north-east."

You remain silent, finding yourself starting to follow Renko as she paces about. The two of you are soon in front of the elevators, and Renko had pressed the "down" button. Just now realizing this, you shake your head and give Renko a concerned look.

"W-why were you acting so weird, all of a sudden?" Sighing heavily, you continue. "You sounded like a GPS or something."

"Ah, sorry, sorry." Renko grins, grabbing your hand as the door opens. "I just got kind of carried away. We should really get to sleep now, since we need to get to school in the morning."

You just nod, and hold onto her hand as the elevator approaches the fifth floor. Once it reaches, the two of you exit, and Renko takes off towards the room. Being dragged along behind her, you struggle to keep up, and soon find yourself at the door, opening it with your own key card. Walking in, Renko follows behind, and you then shut the door behind you.

"Ah, so tired..." Sitting on a nearby bed, Renko looks up at the ceiling warily. "But I also feel so dirty. I don't know about you, Aoi, but I'm taking a shower."

Grabbing a change of clothes you hadn't noticed her with before, Renko walks into the bathroom and enters, closing the door behind her. You merely look at the odd pin as she turns the water on, and you wonder just what significance it may have to the family. Rubbing it a little, it starts to shine brighter, much like the other man's pin had.

Surely enough, it begins to shine brightly, proving to be a highly reflective accessory. Tired from the day, you plop down on the bed that you decided to use, and turn on the television. Flipping from channel to channel, the news channel soon catches your attention, a bald newscaster sitting at the desk.

"Following the odd downpours around the city, there have been reports of an odd person matching the police report of the man recently murdered." The man adjusts his wig, which was about to fall from his head, and continues. "Surely enough, the reports said that he has a large red line across his neck, and that he's been appearing all over the place, carrying a heavy object with him. It is advised to call for help if you see this man, so the police can identify him as either being the man recently killed or not."

A picture of an older looking man carrying a large, black item across his shoulders appears on the screen. His face isn't visible, but the report has still caught your attention, since it sounds similar to your having seen someone that appeared to be Eliza not too long ago.

"This is a photo of the man. Aside from what has been mentioned and what you can see, he is easily identifiable by a large scar on his face, and by his strange height. Again, if you see this man, please report him to the police after calling for assistance. Now, to the weather."

A different reporter, this time a woman, appears on the screen, standing in front of a large map of the area. Pointing from place to place, she announces that today will be sunny, and that the following week will be overcast with no rain. Sighing once again, you flip the channels once more, no longer interested in the news. Soon enough, a station showing an interview with one of your favorite pop idols comes on, and you leave the channel there as you listen to water falling in the bathroom nearby.

It's kind of odd, though. Renko has spent more time in there than you'd expect someone to need for a quick before-bed shower, and still hasn't come out or anything. Rolling onto your side, you look at the television with the pop idol on it, feeling extremely tired.

[ ] Go ahead and go to sleep. You can bathe in the morning.
[ ] Ask Renko if she'll be out any time soon.
[ ] Check in the other room to see how Mary and your mother are doing.
>> No. 14553
[X] Ask Renko if she'll be out any time soon.
Sleeping will feel better when you're clean.
>> No. 14554
[x] Ask Renko if she'll be out any time soon.
>> No. 14555
{X} Ask Renko if she'll be out any time soon.
>> No. 14556
[X] Ask Renko if she'll be out any time soon.
>> No. 14557
[ ] Ask Renko if she'll be out any time soon.
>> No. 14558
Picking yourself up, you yawn and turn your vision over to the bathroom. Standing up, you walk over to the door and knock.

"Renko?" Sounding a bit groggy, you knock once more. "Are you almost done in there?"

The water stops, and you can hear footsteps moving quickly around the bathroom. A minute later she shows up at the door, a towel wrapped around her chest. With a slight chuckle she nods, and steps out of the place, holding her clothes under one arm.

"...Shouldn't you get changed in there first?" Raising an eyebrow, you look at her with a bit of concern. "I mean, I can't be in here when you..."

Before she speaks, you can't help but look over her figure. The things she usually wears apparently didn't do her much justice, since, while she doesn't have a very large chest, her hips are really... Shaking your head, you focus on her face as she talks, a slight blush rising to your cheeks.

"It's fine, you can go ahead and bathe in there." She trots over to her bed and shoos at you playfully, a big grin on her face. "Just don't come out too soon, okay?"

Nodding, you enter the room and shut the door behind you, looking at the pin once again. For a split second you think that you can see the same symbol behind you, but somehow that symbol transforms into the image of Nyom, floating at your side.Though it seems mostly the same as usual, though, this time its presence feels a little... different.

Removing the clothing you had worn, you set it neatly folded on the counter and enter the shower. As you turn on the water, you can see that Nyom is still "looking" at the pin, floating around with its tail flicking in place behind it.

The water warms, and you lift the device at the top of the faucet so that the water will make its way up into the shower nozzle. As it sprays down on you, you grab a bar of soap and begin to clean yourself up, rubbing the bar all over your body. It's then that the temperature of the water changes.

It becomes... cold. Colder, at least. Shivering a bit, you wonder if Renko might have used too much of the water earlier, and you step out of the shower for a minute to warm up.

...The chill persists, though, running up your spine, and toppling you to your knees in an instant. Gazing into the mirror, you can see a strange, transparent woman gripping your shoulders, and holding her foot to your back. Still shaking all over, you close your eyes and shake your head from side to side, teeth chattering all the while. As an icy hand grabs your neck, the sensation all at once vanishes, and the ghastly woman in the mirror leaves. Breathing heavily, you pick yourself up and feel the water.

It's warm. Not just warm, boiling hot. Checking the mirror once more, a red hue is across your back, apparently where you had been letting this water hit you. Still shaken up, you turn the faucet off and grab a towel, drying yourself and then putting on your boxer shorts and t-shirt.

You exit the bathroom, and see Renko in a set of pajamas, with a pair sitting in front of the door of the bathroom. You quickly slip the blue top and bottom on, then set the school uniform down on a nearby table.

As you sit on your bed, Renko speaks up, her eyes a bit downcast.

"Aoi... did you see anything... weird in there?" A chill once again going up your spine, you nod, to which Renko continues. "Huh... It was a woman, right? A ghost?"

"H-how did you..." Swallowing hard, you look at Renko with trembling eyes. "How did you know that?"

She looks down, and smiles a little, though she looks sad all the while.

"I took so long in there because I was watching her... The ghost, that is." Looking back up, she sighs. "I thought I was just seeing things, but you saying that makes it certain. There was something beyond our world in there."

Shooting up from her place at once, a grin spreads across her face.

"That means it's something for our club to investigate!" Marching over to the bathroom, she cheers. "Come on out! Where'd you go, you weird phantom?"

...You sigh, and plop down on the bed. Even though that is the sort of thing the club is supposed to research, you just don't want to see that thing again. Wherever it came from, and whatever it was doing, it has no place in your thoughts.

Just as you think that, Nyom lands on top of you, making a large "myon" sound as it does so. You can't help but smile as the blob that radiates warmth squirms about and rests beside you, before "jumping" back up and floating off.

"Ah, wait, where are you-"

As it floats away, you stand up and chase after it. Looking down the small hallway... in Nyom's place is the ghastly woman, smiling coolly at you as she floats in place, holding a flute up to her lips.

[ ] "Re-Renko... Heeelp..."
[ ] Back away from the thing.
[ ] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts.
>> No. 14559
[X] Back away from the thing.
[X] "Re-Renko... Heeelp..."
>> No. 14561
[ ] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts.
>> No. 14562
[ ] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts.
>> No. 14563
[x] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts.
>> No. 14565
[⑨] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts. Move slowly!
[⑨] “Re-Renko… C-Come, come look at this…”

If the specter wanted to directly harm us, it would have done so by now; it’s movements indicated that it’s not localized, so it might have been observing us for some time already. That doesn’t rule out the possibility that it’s leading us into some kind of trap, which is why we need to be careful, go slow, and have Renko to assist us, even as just a different perspective on the situation. Spirits are tricky beings, so it’s best to remain cautious, but I don’t think fear needs to be an issue. Yet.

I’ll just throw the theory out right now that this specter is a humanized form of Nyom, or else somehow related to it. It appeared right where Nyom just was, and carries a flute to her lips. Did we not blow a flute to summon Nyom in the first place? The relation is a definitely possibility. I see no reason why we shouldn’t follow something related to Nyom. But Renko still needs to come, too.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It's finally time for me to pay you back for all the help you gave me on ASSM, Nine. So here I am.

I find myself entranced. What started for me as a mildly intriguing slice-of-life story with Maribel and Renko has transformed into a suspense/horror story with uncomfortable (and yet still rather comfortable) Higurashi vibes. I can't say that I know all of what's going on, or that I'll be able to deduce any sinister plots when the time for deducing comes, but I can say that I am interested in this story now. Very interested.

A job well-done, Nine. I shall return, hungry for more.
>> No. 14567
[X] Stay still, but be prepared to retreat.
[X] “Re-Renko… C-Come, come look at this…”

Smiling coolly. I don't like that--smiling coolly. If it had an anxious expression, or if it was waving desperately, maybe I'd vote for moving forwards. But this...this is...
>> No. 14568
[x] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts.

Nyom~
>> No. 14569
[x] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts.

>>14568~
>> No. 14570
>As it floats away, you stand up and chase after it. Looking down the small hallway... in Nyom's place is the ghastly woman, smiling coolly at you as she floats in place, holding a flute up to her lips.

Nyom withdraws, coolly.
>> No. 14572
Going to go ahead and call it.

[x] Continue to walk towards it, and see how it reacts. wins. Updates will be here shortly.
>> No. 14573
>>14572

hooray!
>> No. 14574
Step by step, you're lured towards the thing. Looking at its features, you can see that "she" has a flat chest, a small build, and... The ghastly thing has what appears to be your face, now that you think about it. Taking one step back, you look on in horror, making a small groaning noise as you do so. Renko notices this and runs out of the bathroom, yelling as she does.

"There it is!" Pointing a finger towards the ghoul, she grins. "Caught you, you can't escape now!"

The phantom merely lets out an other-worldly sounding chuckle, and floats back through the door, playing an eerie tune on the flute as it does so. Renko throws the door open, and you can see the thing begin to fade back into the form of Nyom, the odd noise still sounding out in the hall.

"It... disappeared?" Scratching her head, Renko checks the other ways down the halls, and sighs, shutting the door. "Well, so much for that... It was pretty weird though, wasn't it? I wonder what it's doing in a new building like this."

"Oh... yeah."

Nodding your head, you breathe deeply, and then release. Forgetting the thing floating in the halls, which may appear to be like Nyom, you march over to your bed and fall on top of it, groaning from exhaust as you do so. Renko plops down on the other one and smiles at you, a gleam in her eyes.

"We'll look it up in the school library tomorrow!"

Even though she sounds exhausted, her voice is still somewhat energetic and loud. Laughing, she turns over and pulls her covers up over her shoulders, turning out the lights with a flip of a switch on the wall.

Rolling over, you do the same, though letting your eyes adjust as you gaze up at the ceiling. For some reason, the eerie tune is still playing, though faintly. It sounds as if it's coming from a good distance away, and it eventually fades into nothing.

A few minutes pass, and Maribel pops her head into your room, looking at the two of you with still-adjusting eyes. Feigning sleep, you wait for her to close the door, which she does. A few seconds pass before she speaks up on the other side, telling your mother that you and Renko are both asleep. With that, your mother sighs, and the sound of her resting in a chair can be heard.

"Well, I guess I can tell you now." From the noise on the other side of the wall, you presume that she's adjusting herself in the chair. "Earlier, I ran into the owner's messenger."

"Owner?" A perplexed tone is in Mary's voice as she speaks. "What do you mean, owner?"

The sound of someone getting up can be heard, and your mother speaks once more, her voice a bit stern.

"I mean the man who owns this hotel. Your father and I were supporting him since the construction, since he's an old friend of mine." A glass is picked up, and set down a few seconds later. "Ah. Anyway, he was wanting to know if I'd be willing to accept a legal gift as thanks for the support, and I decided that it was fine."

"You swallowed those sleeping pills pretty fast..." Changing the subject, Mary coughs. "It's like you're used to them."

There's a short pause, and then your mother speaks once more, letting a yawn loose before she does so.

"Well, yes. I've had all sorts of trouble sleeping lately, and after what happened tonight... I'm not even sure if I want to sleep, but I need to. You should probably sleep, too."

There's a step, another step, and then a shuffle, and all falls silent. After a few more moments, you hear Mary speak in a hushed tone, trying to hide what she says.

"About that man... What does he mean to you?"

Your mother fumbles for words, and starts to speak so quietly that you can't understand a single word of hers. A bit irritated, you shuffle in bed and look over to Renko, who seems to be fast asleep.

[ ] Follow Renko's lead, and sleep.
[ ] Go over to the door and listen to the conversation.
[ ] Stay silent, and wait to hear something else.
>> No. 14577
[x] Go over to the door and listen to the conversation. Quietly.

We should have counter-fluted Nyom back to us.
>> No. 14578
[⑨] Stay silent, and wait to hear something else.
[⑨] On a whim, try to use Nyom as a scout to see/hear the conversation.

For the first part, there’s obviously skullduggery afoot, and feigning sleep isn’t that hard to do if you’re not under heavy suspicion. However, we cannot afford to get caught listening to these things, unless you want to open up a completely new can of worms, and I don’t really think Aoi is going to be that good at coming up with on-the-spot explanations for his actions. Curious but cautious is how things like this get solved in the end.

As for the second part? Mostly just a silly little whim, but I think Nyom can be used for more than just a blushing, comforting presence every now and again. It can’t hurt to try.

Also, whatever happened to the summoning flute? Do we have it? And if not, can we possibly get it back?
>> No. 14579
[x] Stay silent, and wait to hear something else.
[x] On a whim, try to use Nyom as a scout to see/hear the conversation.
>> No. 14580
[X] Stay silent, and wait to hear something else.
[X] On a whim, try to use Nyom as a scout to see/hear the conversation.
Yes, we need to know this stuff.
>> No. 14581
Gonna call it now, and write, too.
>> No. 14582
[x] Go over to the door and listen to the conversation.

>However, we cannot afford to get caught listening to these things, unless you want to open up a completely new can of worms, and I don’t really think Aoi is going to be that good at coming up with on-the-spot explanations for his actions.

Why? No explanation is necessary here; not from you anyway. Your mother is talking with your step-sister about having an affair with someone, which seems to coincide with the transfer of a substantial amount of assets from her "friend" to her person, all of this quite rapidly after your step-father's apparent murder. These are important things to know. These are things Aoi has a right to know.
>> No. 14583
Looking up to the ceiling, you stifle a sigh as you continue to listen for any conversation you could hear. The two stay rather quiet, though, so it seems next to impossible to understand a single word they're saying.

A whisper here, a low shout there, you can only manage catching bits and pieces of the conversation. It's just small, meaningless babble, though, and you find yourself tuning it all out as you think back to the ghastly woman, who might just be Nyom...

If she really was Nyom, then does that mean Nyom is the spirit of someone who died a long time ago? Or, could it be that the little white ball is something that was never human to start with, like one of those poltergeists or banshees that you heard about in ghost stories?

Rolling over, you make one more attempt to hear what the two are talking about, but they're still speaking in low whispers. From the tones of their voices it sounds like your mother is still pretty upset, though Maribel sounds just like her usual self... At one point, you think you can even hear a sob on the other side, not coming from Mary, of course.

Fed up and tired, your eyes begin to flutter, with thoughts of the ghastly woman on your mind. If she really is Nyom, and if Nyom is somehow bound to you... Does that mean that the woman could possibly spy on your mother and Mary?

...The whole of the room is enveloped in a thick darkness, and your vision fades away as your mind loosens up. It soon reappears, though, as you soon find yourself floating over a large circle... With all the details of the Han family's odd pin.

Still a bit groggy, it doesn't really register to you that something like this is odd. It does become obvious that it's odd, though, as the woman from before rises up from the center of the circle, floating up to you. A grin on her face, she grabs your hands in hers and holds you close, bringing her forehead to your own. At first it frightens you, but... Her forehead is kind of cold. Though it may be more accurate to call it pleasantly cool.

Her lips move, shaping out words that you can't understand. Only a low, rumbling noise comes from her mouth, with no sound to be heard. As you float there, holding on to this strange woman, the world begins to form around the circle... The lobby below becomes apparent, and then the floor above that appears, followed by floor after floor of the building, until it reaches the space where you are. Letting go of your hands, the woman fades away, leaving you floating in the hallway, all by yourself.

Looking around, you attempt to call for her, but the low rumbling that came from her throat comes out of your own. A bit startled, your eyes widen in shock, and you hold your throat as you look down at the your feet.

Gray toes meet your vision, partially see through. You're still wearing your boxers and t-shirt that you had worn to bed, and you feel embarrassed to be dressed like this in such a place. In one instant, the bare flesh is covered up by your school uniform, which seems to appear out of nowhere around you.

Almost as if in a daze, you merely accept this and begin to float around the hallway, searching aimlessly for something that you can't place. Finding the room Mary and your mother are in, you enter by passing through the door, as if it weren't even there.

On the other side, Mary and your mother speak with a low rumbling, though this rumbling includes actual words. As the two of them speak, you sit next to your mother and listen. She doesn't even notice you as she continues to talk, a few tears in her eyes.

"I really didn't do anything..." Looking down at the floor, one of the tears rolls down her cheek, and she sniffs deeply, gritting her teeth. "How could you think I'm to blame, Maribel? Your my daughter, and he was my husband... Even if I hated him, I'd never do anything to hurt you..."

"You went off the handle and threatened the servants to make yourself look better!" Speaking a bit more loudly, Maribel looks at your mother accusingly, a distinct glare in her eyes. "Aoi and Renko didn't even know where you were, so you could have easily been responsible for both crimes."

Your mother merely sobs in her place, holding on weakly to a tissue. Feeling compassion, you wrap an arm around her shoulder, which seems to catch her attention. She sits up and looks at you, and then behind her, as if you had reached her without being seen. Maribel raises a brow to this, laughing sarcastically.

"What are you looking for?" A dull look in her eyes, she lets a thin smile rise to her face. "You know it's true, don't you? Dad wouldn't kill himself like that, and I know it. Besides, the only person who had even seen him was you, right?"

Your mother lowers her head once more, still frowning. Her frown isn't as large now, though, and she seems to have warmed up a little from your touch. As she stands to her feet, you let go of her shoulder and watch in a hushed silence, still accepting that, for some reason, they can't see or hear you.

"That's enough talk." Wiping her eyes, a stern look comes to your mother's face. "If you choose not to believe me, then that's fine. Even if you think I'm a murderer, you're still my daughter, and I still love you."

Stretching a bit, your mother yawns, sitting back down on the bed. The look in her eyes seems a bit more assured than it had been before, and the expression on her face is confident.

"We should really get to bed. If you really want to, I'll be fine with you skipping classes to talk to me about this again in the morning... Though I'll no longer hold any of this family's secrets back from Aoi." Breathing deeply, she smiles at Maribel now, though a bit sarcastically. "So if there's anything you don't want him to hear, I guess you can't talk to me, now can you?"

Maribel merely grits her teeth and nods, sitting down on her bed. Even though she can be so horrible, it seems that the girl still knows her place.

Leaving this scene, you float through the wall into your room, where you can see Renko still snoozing in her bed, and where you can see... Yourself, fast asleep in bed. Scratching your head in confusion, you notice the odd circle of the Han family on your left hand, and a slight gleam out of the corner of your eye. Turning to face the thing, you see a small girl with a rope around her neck peeking out from the bathroom, holding a blond doll in her arms.

With braided hair and golden eyes, the girl seems intimidated by your presence, and she turns and runs towards the door of your room, passing through it on her way. This strikes you as even more odd than your seeing yourself in bed, and everything else that had just happened. Suddenly, it dawns on you that your situation makes no sense, and you pass through the door as well, seeing the small girl trotting over to a window.

[ ] Call out to her and see if she responds.
[ ] Ignore her and look around for the ghastly woman who had vanished.
[ ] Chase after her, while asking her what she's doing here.
>> No. 14584
[ ] Call out to her and see if she responds.

At first I thought this was just astral projection.
>> No. 14585
[X] Call out to her and see if she responds.
>> No. 14587
[X] Do nothing.

Oh, come on, like we don't all know what's going to happen. We chase after, they run away, or evade us irritatingly, or say something mysteeeeeeeerious, and then we wake up and probably dismiss the whole thing as a dream. Screw that.
>> No. 14588
[x] Call out to her and see if she responds.
>> No. 14591
[x] Call out to her and see if she responds.
>> No. 14592
[⑨] Call out to her and see if she responds.

Wait, my Nyom spy strategy actually worked?! Awesome.

Mmm, this seems like a fairly safe path for now. Shouldn’t get too carried away, though. We’re dealing with mysterious spirit powers we don’t understand; best to not bite off more than we can chew, or to not make promises we can’t keep.

Okay, so, hmm…Either we’re asleep and can control Nyom while dreaming, or we can switch bodies with Nyom, or it’s just a added power that Nyom has given us, or this may all just be a giant dream. Since we still look like ourselves, just ghostly, It’s probably not the first two, unless we can control Nyom’s appearance as well, which would be cool. The third possibility is most likely, though I unfortunately can’t rule out “it was just a dream” on account of the world seemed to “form” out of nothingness when this began. I’ll leave this be for now.

Hmm, little girl…it she anyone our meta-knowledge might know? Blonde hair gold eyes might mean Marisa, and she might have a reason to have a doll, though I highly doubt this. Alice is another possible, though the eye color is wrong I think; doesn’t she have blue? Obviously Yukari could be fooling around again, too.

Rope around the neck, though…a noose? If it’s a noose, I’m just inclined to think one of the Prismrivers, either Lunasa or Layla. It’s highly possible they might have killed themselves by hanging, or been hanged as witches back in the day. It’s just mindless speculation, but it’s worth a thought, at least.

Or, y’ know, it’s someone we have no idea about, and I’m just swinging at clouds in the sky.
>> No. 14597
>Alice is another possible, though the eye color is wrong I think; doesn’t she have blue?

Alice's eyes run the gamut. Her first appearance had gold eyes.

>Rope around the neck, though…a noose? If it’s a noose, I’m just inclined to think one of the Prismrivers, either Lunasa or Layla. It’s highly possible they might have killed themselves by hanging, or been hanged as witches back in the day. It’s just mindless speculation, but it’s worth a thought, at least.

Or something to do with hanged Hourai dolls.
>> No. 14598
The winner is obvious, so I'll start writing now.
>> No. 14599
Breathing in deeply, you try to form words as you bellow out to the small girl. The only sound that escapes is the same jumbled speech which left your mouth before, and the girl only raises a brow as she looks at you. Once again, you try to speak, this time trying to ask her who she is. It still comes out as some other-worldly rumbling, and the girl seems to grow tired of listening to it as she turns around.

Fastening the rope to the pane above the window, the girl balances herself outside the building, on the edge of the window. Rushing over to the window, you can see her jump down, vanishing from your sight in an instant. The rope seems to stretch, though, and, looking down below, you can see the girl falling slowly to the pavement at the base of the building. She lands and cuts the rope, and the end still attached to the window pane begins to vanish before your eyes.

Confident in your ability to fly, you follow the girl down, having only the smallest bit of trouble in handling flight. She takes off when you land, bounding from place to place, and then back into the hotel. You follow after her and enter, chasing after her while still trying to get some understandable words out.

She takes a sharp turn, making a bound for the staircase leading up the different floor of the hotel. You follow after her, still desperately trying to make her understand what you're saying, and you soon find yourself following her back up to the roof of the building, out into the bright moonlight.

You shield your eyes for a minute, taken aback by the odd strength of the moon's light this night. When your vision readjusts, what lies before you is increasingly strange.

A familiar looking woman, garbed in a violet dress, smiling at you with parted lips. All about her are other small girls like the one you had been chasing. Each one seems to have some odd trait to them, too. In addition to the one you saw, who had the rope around her neck, there's another girl with moist skin and plants growing all over her, and then another who is hooded and wearing a skull mask over her face. There's still more, some wearing crowns and holding rods, one with a large turning wheel behind her, and another one who has wheels on the soles of her shoes, and a rope connecting the shoes, which she holds in her hand.

All in all, there appears to be twenty two of them, four of which are holding dolls to their chests. Getting a closer look at the dolls, you can see that one is made to look like Eliza, and the other one seems to be an imitation of your step-father. The woman these girls are all gathered around, whose name you remember as "Yukari", speaks up, the grin still present on her face.

"Oh? What do we have here?" Popping open a fan, she begins to fan herself, until one of the girls grabs the fan and does the fanning for her. "How strange, for two souls to bond in such a way."

Confused, you attempt to ask her what she means. The same rumbling noise comes out of your mouth, and the woman shakes her head as the small girls look at you with cowering eyes.

"Right, I suppose she wasn't able to talk like that." Moving her fingers as if undoing a zipper, Yukari's smile fades a bit. "It's alright, you can speak now."

"What are you doing here? And, who are all of them?"

Getting straight to the point, you cast your gaze over all the blond girls gathered around Yukari. She merely laughs in response, as two holes open up to let the tall blond woman with the nine tails and the small girl with the cat ears walk out onto the roof. The two look at you in different ways, despite both coming in at the same time. While the woman looks disconnected and distant, the girl appears to be excited and energetic, looking around at everyone out on the roof.

"Hmm, I don't feel like answering your questions, boy." Taking her fan back from one of the small blond girls, she folds it and is disappears once she lowers her hand. "If you knew the nature of the magic circle I left in a few places around your 'home', then you would understand my reasons for still being here."

Swallowing hard, you look between the two servants, the twenty-two girls, and the central figure, Yukari. The woman merely laughs again, waving her hand to make the small girls form two lines of eleven. The girl with the cat ears and the woman with the fox tails stand to either side of them, and bow respectfully.

"I know what you're thinking, you know." A sneer on her face, the intimidating blond woman laughs. "'She's invaded my home, my life, and now my dreams! What's wrong with this woman?'"

A loud, chilling laugh erupts from her mouth, sending chills up and down your spine. Her eyes are locked on yours, so you can't look away as she lifts her fan once more and taps the air, making a hole through which a strange eye looks out at you. Connected to wires, it comes out of the hole and peers straight at you, while the woman "Yukari" laughs once again.

"Gwahahaha!" Her eyes full of scorn, she stops laughing and holds her sharp teeth together, waving to make the eye disappear. "I've been watching you with that, you know. Maybe not watching you every second of the day, and maybe just watching once every few hours, but I've been keeping an eye on you."

"Why... Why are you telling me all this? Are you even real?"

Another loud laugh escapes her mouth, and her pupils come to slits as she looks straight into your eyes, as if staring into your soul.

"...I have no ill intent, you know." Beginning to float towards you, she holds a hand out in your direction. "It's merely fate that I met someone like you while being called by..."

She stops there, smiling while looking off to the side. She turns about, and all at once the group of twenty-four behind her vanishes. An umbrella comes up out of nowhere, and then another, though this one brown, tattered, and looking at you with a large eye, comes down. You grab a hold of it, and she then opens her own umbrella, and the two of you take off into the air.

"Hey, wait!" Clinging to the odd thing which looks like something you heard of in a fairy tale, you plead with Yukari. "Let me down! Where are you taking me?"

"You can go down whenever you want. You did it earlier, didn't you?" A smile on her face, she points off into the woods, towards a large mound of rubble. "I was just going to show you something, as a show of good faith."

Remaining silent, you look at the piles of bricks and concrete as you get closer. If there had ever been a structure here, it looks like it would have been literally pulled up from the earth, what with the odd debris stacked up like walls.

"This..." Her voice low, Yukari turns and looks at you, holding and arm out to point to all the debris laying around. "This is a place where I had been summoned to do a favor before."

"Summoned to do a favor?" Scratching your head, you let go of the umbrella, which folds up and falls to the ground as it hops around on one "foot". "What is that supposed to mean?"

Yukari merely sighs, and you wonder just why she has been so persistent on appearing kind up until now.

"You see, the head of a certain family here wanted to have multiple wishes granted by me." Turning her eyes towards you, she seems to be grimacing a bit now. "An awful man. While they're called 'wishes', it isn't as simple as snapping my fingers to make something happen. I have to seek out what they desire, and make my own judgement on whether or not it should be in a person's possession."

You nod, taking a seat on a pile of bricks. The umbrella sits next to you, apparently listening to the story as well.

"This man wanted the key to revolutionizing this island-nation, and making it a great power in this small world. He was very violent, though, and used the item I fetched him in a different way then what he described." Sighing loudly, she shakes her head.
>> No. 14600
"Instead of using it to make people happy and prosperous, he used the very same key to joy to kill those in his family who wanted his money."

She shrugs widely, and casts her gaze up to the moon. Your heart beating slowly, you merely wait to hear more, wondering what the point of such a story is.

"In the end, he killed himself with that very same power. Every member of his close family, save for one small girl, had been murdered in one night. That girl was his daughter, who had lost an older sibling to a suicide in the past. That girl... Unlike her father, she didn't want to see the power used again. I guess I felt sort of... sorry for her. In the end, I restored her home to its former glory, and then took the whole place off to my own home, where I could keep an eye on her."

Narrowing her gaze, she grins grimly, looking straight at you once more.

"A few members of her extended family went by the name of... 'Han'."

The pulse of your heart seems to get louder and louder, and all at once the moon falls from the sky, giving way to the bright sun. Yukari holds her fingers to her lips and shakes her head, fading from your vision slowly.

"Oops, I think I kept you a bit too long."

...

Feeling a nudge at your side, you all at once notice how cold you feel, and that your skin is coated in small beads of sweat. Breathing deeply, you hear a voice calling you from beside your bed.

"Aoi! You need to hurry up and get dressed!" It's Renko, who sounds worried as she nudges you. "Come on, we need to get to school."

[ ] "Uh... Just five more minutes, please."
[ ] "Renko...? Did you translate that thing yet?"
[ ] Yawn and get up, without saying a word.
>> No. 14601
[ ] "Renko...? Did you translate that thing yet?"
>> No. 14607
[ ] "Renko...? Did you translate that thing yet?"
>> No. 14612
[x] "Renko...? Did you translate that thing yet?"
>> No. 14614
[X] "Uh... Just five more minutes, please."
Aoi is so moe.
>> No. 14616
[X] Sleepy.
[X] "Sleepy..."
[X] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[X] Snuggle.

I intend to have that girl nosebleeding all over Aoi.
>> No. 14619
[X] Sleepy.
[X] "Sleepy..."
[X] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[X] Snuggle.
Perfect!
>> No. 14620
>>14616
Wow. Good job Anon.

[X] Sleepy.
[X] "Sleepy..."
[X] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[X] Snuggle.
>> No. 14621
[x] "Renko...? Did you translate that thing yet?"
>> No. 14625
[x] Sleepy.
[x] "Sleepy..."
[x] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[x] Snuggle.

The moe-er becomes the moe-ed.
>> No. 14626
[x] Sleepy.
[x] "Sleepy..."
[x] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[x] Snuggle.

Oh wow.
>> No. 14630
Where art thou, Ex-Nine? i never waited for an update like the i'm waiting for this one

[x] Sleepy.
[x] "Sleepy..."
[x] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[x] Snuggle.
>> No. 14639
{X} Sleepy.
{X} "Sleepy..."
{X} Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
{X} Snuggle.
>> No. 14648
Am I the only one suspicious?

I mean, I'm a bit of a paranoid fellow, so I'm suspicious all the time. Can't turn it off, you see. So I'd just like to know if anyone else is suspicious, or if it's just my mind playing silly cricket with my synapses again.
>> No. 14649
>>14648
Depends on what we should be suspicious about.
At this point thinking that there might be something onto Mary and Aoi's mom is stupid since there obviously is. It is only good for your health to doubt them.
Being suspicious of the ghosts, murders and Yukari is entirely alright.
Being suspicious of Renko is silly. She just wants to get into Aoi's pants. Or panties, if you will. Maybe she wants to get Aoi INTO panties?
>> No. 14653
>>14649
I was referring to those votes showing up all of a sudden, actually.
>> No. 14654
>>14614>>14626>>14630
Stop votespamming.
>> No. 14655
>>14654

MODS/
>> No. 14656
.........Wow, why the hell would anyone votespam on different options?

Yet, regardless of that-
[x] Sleepy.
[x] "Sleepy..."
[x] Grab whatever body part Renko is nudging you with.
[x] Snuggle.

I just have to see this happening.
>> No. 14657
Rolling over, you can't be bothered to wake up. You're still far too sleepy from getting to bed late last night, and the unnerving dream you had only wore you out even more. Opening your eyes just a little, you can see Renko's concerned face looking down at you. She has her hands on her hips, and she's already in her school uniform.

"Come on, we need to get going..." She looks anxious, a small frown forming as she steps up and down a few times, still prodding you with her arm. "Wake up..."

Yawning, you make a small, simple reply.

"Sleepy..."

Reaching out, you grab her arm that's nudging you and bring it close, rubbing your head against it as you mumble. Opening your eyes back up, you can see that she's on her knees now, a bright red blush on her face.

"Aoi... Um." Using the other arm to mess with your hair, her blush fades. "Come on, wake up! You'll get sick if you stay in bed all day."

Finally giving in, you push up from your spot and rub your eyes. A pressure on your feet makes you focus your vision, to see that Renko has brought your uniform over to your bed.

Walking swiftly towards the door, she gives you a slight nod.

"I'll be out in the hall, so come out when you're done. If you hurry, we should be able to grab something to eat from the lobby."

With that, she shuts the door after exiting through it. You stretch once more and mumble, then notice the slightly deflated blob laying next to you. Prodding it, it makes a more worn out version of its normal noise.

"Myon..." Even Nyom sounds worn out today, for some odd reason.

Shrugging to yourself, you get up and begin to put on your uniform, moving as quickly as you can to do so. Having changed, you notice your bag on a nearby table and snatch it up, running out into the hall just a few seconds later.

"Ah, that was quick." A bright expression on her face, Renko grabs your hand and tugs you along. "Come on! We need to move as quickly as we can if we want to make it to the train!"

Being pulled along, the two of you go down the elevator, grab muffins from the first floor's breakfast setup, and soon are walking down the road towards the train station. Remembering what the lady in the dream said to you, you speak up after having taken another bite of your muffin.

"Oh, Renko." She turns her head towards you as you speak. "Did you ever find out what that book said?"

Chuckling a bit, she shakes her head.

"I did, and I didn't." She looks to the side, a sarcastic grin on her face. "I know that it has to do with summoning some silly demon, but the title of the book should give that much away..."

Shocking even yourself, you find yourself laughing. Renko gives you an odd gaze as you chuckle, raising an eyebrow.

"Eh? Eeeh? What's so funny?"

"Ahahaha... ha..." Wiping a tear from your eye, you shake your head. "It's just, the way you said that while chewing on your muffin... It looked so... Pffff-"

Laughing once more, you cover your mouth, not wanting to be too rude to any passersby. Renko sighs and pats your shoulder, putting her arm around you as you walk.

"It's not right for a woman to laugh like that, Aoi." Tsk-tsking, she shakes her head. "Really, you need to be better behaved if you ever want to be ready for marriage..."

A hot blush rises to your cheeks, and you shake your head in an embarrassed daze.

"N-no! Don't say things like that, it's so weird..."

Renko laughs and pats your shoulder once more, taking her arm off of you. Soon enough, you've reached the station and boarded the train to school. Sitting down with Renko by your side, you see a few other students riding along. Goro is in the crowd, along with some slightly familiar faces, and... It's strange, but you could swear you just saw Maribel talking to somebody a few seats over.

[ ] "Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the girl.
[ ] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
[ ] Turn your gaze the other way and hum to yourself.
>> No. 14658
[X] "H-hey, um, Renko... i-if I'm really... never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"

I'm asking you to marry me, Renko.
>> No. 14659
[⑨] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.

I'm no good with these mundane, social decisions. But a transition phase should never be wasted; talking is a free action, after all! Also, something about strengthening relationships or whatever. Yeah, that sounds about right.
>> No. 14660
[x] "H-hey, um, Renko... i-if I'm really... never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
>> No. 14661
[X] "H-hey, um, Renko... i-if I'm really... never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[X] If it starts getting way too awkward to handle, "Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the girl. As an escape route.

Awkward +=1; Moe +=1;
I like how this'll probably create an awkward situation, and seems to be fairly cute(?). Futhermore, 'tis good to have an escape route.
>> No. 14662
[⑨] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
>> No. 14663
[x] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
>> No. 14665
[X] "H-hey, um, Renko... i-if I'm really... never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[X] If it starts getting way too awkward to handle, "Renko, am I seeing that right?" Point to the girl. As an escape route.
Awkwaaard...
>> No. 14666
[x] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
>> No. 14667
[x] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
>> No. 14668
[x] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
>> No. 14669
[x] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.

We've already had our moment of moe.
>> No. 14671
[x] "Renko... if... if I'm really never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[x] Hit her with the Aoi Puppy Eyes™.
[x] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"

>>14649
>Maybe she wants to get Aoi INTO panties?
I think we all want that.
>> No. 14672
>>14671
> [X] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing, cute, or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"

Fixed, and adding this to my vote.
>> No. 14673
[x] "Renko... if... if I'm really never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[x] Hit her with the Aoi Puppy Eyes™.
[x] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"
>> No. 14674
[x] "Renko... if... if I'm really never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[x] Hit her with the Aoi Puppy Eyes™.
[x] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"
>> No. 14675
[X] "Renko... if... if I'm really never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[X] Hit her with the Aoi Puppy Eyes™.
[X] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"

Delicious write-in is delicious.
>> No. 14676
[x] Ignore her and enjoy your ride, while talking to Renko.
>> No. 14677
Oh, great, now I'm feeling suspicious. This seems like way more votes than AoD usually garners. I guess it's my turn to ask a mod to step in and check for us.
>> No. 14678
[X] "Renko... if... if I'm really never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[X] Hit her with the Aoi Puppy Eyes™.
[X] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"

Very yes.
>> No. 14679
>>14677
ITT BITCHES DON'T KNOW 'BOUT MY WRITE-INS
>> No. 14680
>>14677
Wow, what's with the paranoia? chill a bit.
That said-

[X] "Renko... if... if I'm really never ready for marriage... w-will you take care of me?"
[X] Hit her with the Aoi Puppy Eyes™.
[X] If Renko starts getting more flustered than is actually amusing or funny, point out Maribel. "Hey, Renko. ...who's Maribel talking to?"
>> No. 14682
>>14677
I have no idea why or how there are suddenly so many votes, but there is no votespamming going on here. What the hell.
>> No. 14688
>>14682
I put my bet on that thread on /th/ not too long ago, the fact that this story is just plain awesome, the fact that the writing quality is high, and the fact that Aoi is moe.
>> No. 14690
>>14688
That sounds about right.
>> No. 14695
"...Hey, Renko." Looking back towards your cheery friend, you hold your hands together as you speak. "About earlier..."

"Yeah?" A big grin on her face, she nods her head a bit as she reties her hair bow. "So, what about earlier, Aoi?"

Holding your words in for a moment, you lace your fingers together loosely, and look around nervously as you think of the words you're trying to get out. After another moment you speak up, your heart beating lightly against your chest.

"If..." You begin, then swallow hard as you continue to speak. "If I'm never ready for marriage, w... will you take care of me?"

She merely gives you a blank, vacant stare for a moment, her lips forming an "O". A few seconds pass, and a slight red hue comes to her cheeks as she puts an arm behind your head and rubs your hair around.

"Right! O-of course! Hahahaha!" Still smiling, she looks off to the side, swallowing hard. "Yeah, that sounds like a great plan... Maybe I could open up a nice little shop here, or maybe in another city."

You nod, feeling calm once more as you place your hand on top of hers.

"Yeah, some fresh air would be nice. There's some fun memories here, but I'd really like to get out and find a calmer place to live in the future."

An awkward silence passes, with Renko slowly interlacing her fingers with your own. Your heart begins to thump against your chest once more, before she speaks up, or rather, starts laughing again.

"Ahahahaha!" The red hue still on her cheeks, she chuckles nervously. "Haha... We're starting to sound like a couple planning out the rest of their life, not a group of friends, right?"

You nod, blushing a bit yourself. Looking for some way to change the subject to something a little less as odd, you point over in the direction of who you believe to be Maribel. As Renko follows the path of your finger, her eyes light up for a brief moment.

"Hey Renko... Who's Maribel talking to?"

She merely looks at the scene with a sort of stupor, but swiftly recovers. Nodding with her hand behind her head, she laughs boyishly, attracting the attention of a few other students. Another second passes, and they all avert their gazes, leaving Renko open to speak once again.

"I'm not too sure myself." Shifting around in her seat, she looks at your step-sister nervously. "Isn't it odd, though? I thought she only had one uniform left from a year ago, and that she's even on the train to high school is kinda... Strange."

Tapping your finger to your forehead, you suddenly remember what you had heard before about Maribel and her current educational position. That's right, she's supposed to be in a university, isn't she? Thinking about this, you understand why Renko finds this scene so odd.

"It's also kind of weird, though..." Once again looking at 'Maribel', Renko speaks cautiously. "Her hair is longer than it was earlier this morning, and it looks really natural... Plus, that look in her eyes is too calm to be Mary's."

Looking at the girl once more, you can see what Renko means. A shine in the girl's eyes shows something like calmness, though it feels more like... confidence, or maybe 'stableness'? As you look at her, the girl's eyes meet yours, and a smile spreads over her face. All at once, you realize just who this person should be, though you can't understand how they could 'exist'.

The girl makes a motion to walk towards you and Renko, but the train arrives in front of the school, and the girl is swept out with all the other students who were trying to get off. After the first rush, you and Renko exit the train and look at the large student body.

"Huh... I can't see her anywhere." Scratching her head, Renko sighs. "Well, that's not important. I'm going to go put something away in the clubroom, so meet me there once classes are over, okay, Aoi?"

"Oh... Yeah, sure." A little spaced out, you search the crowd for any hint of that long, blond hair, and yet you can't find a single lock floating among the crowd. As Renko runs off, you stand there and wonder what you should do.

[ ] Look for the blond girl. She couldn't have gotten too far away, right?
[ ] Go on to your classes. The sooner you get them over with, the sooner you can relax.
[ ] Go to the clubroom, and see if Renko has any idea why 'Maribel' would want to come to school again.

-----

>>14688

Aw, shucks, you're making me blush! Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates. Hard times for a lot of us here in the US.
>> No. 14698
[X] Look for the blond girl. She couldn't have gotten too far away, right?

Schoolgirl Yukari? In uniform?

Too hot to pass up.
>> No. 14699
[X] Look for the blond girl. She couldn't have gotten too far away, right?
>> No. 14701
[X] Look for the blond girl. She couldn't have gotten too far away, right?
>> No. 14703
[X] Look for the blond girl. She couldn't have gotten too far away, right?
And then Yukari fucks Aoi's life up.
>> No. 14708
[x] Look for the blond girl. She couldn't have gotten too far away, right?
>> No. 14723
Looking all around you, you attempt to spot the girl from before, who should be that "Yukari" character. A large number of students pass by, and yet not a single one has one lock of blond hair. As you sit down on a bench to think of just where she may be, someone grabs you by the shoulders.

"Boo!"

"Uwaa!" Jumping back, you yell in shock, only to see the "person" you were looking for. "...Oh, it's... Just who are you, anyway?"

Frowning, she puffs her large chest out, sending blond locks flying to the sides around her. With that same strange umbrella in one hand and a schoolbag in another, she's really a sight to see. Aside from the school bag and uniform, she has ribbons tied in her hair at various places near the bottom of the locks.

"Haven't I told you before?" Looking at the top of her head, she's no longer wearing that weird hat, either. Your vision comes back to her face as she continues to speak. "My name is Yukari Han!"

"...What?" Raising an eyebrow, you probably look really confused. "What do you mean, 'Han'? I thought your name was Yakumo."

Only a few students are left wandering around right now, but merely saying that catches their attention. As they look at you suspiciously, you look at Yukari, who speaks up once again, only more quietly.

"I'm using 'Han' as an alias, of course." A sly grin on her face, she chuckles. "I have a history here, you know. A really brutal one, too."

Easing up, you sigh, sitting back down on the bench you had been on. Yukari sits down next to you and pokes your shoulder, laughing.

"So, why are you acting so cold, Wa-ta-ko?" She laughs once more, with those few sharp teeth still poking out of her smile. "Did I do something to offend you?"

For a moment you just sit there and wonder what you should say to her. Thinking about it... She hasn't done anything that you've seen which is all that incriminating, other than being some strange monster. Even if the Yukari you saw in dreams and in the confusion of the night was a monster, it doesn't mean that this one is anything more than a girl with a few strangely sharp teeth.

"Well..." Shrugging, you sigh. "I guess you really haven't done anything other than act weird."

She laughs once more, and pats your back. Almost having the wind knocked out of you, you merely sit there and take it as a few more students walk past. The thought that you and Renko actually got here somewhat early crosses your mind, but...

"So, if I had friends who were only a little weird, you'd like to meet them too, right?"

Thinking you heard that wrong you just stay quiet for a minute. Then, when the words sink in, you jerk your head back and all at once yell.

"W-what?" A shocked quality to your voice, it's easy to tell that her words startled you. "What kind of friends would you even have?"

She merely laughs once more, standing to her feet as she does so. It really makes you uncomfortable to be sitting around so calmly with such a strange person.

"Well, let's see..." Holding out her fingers, she counts a few numbers up and stops. "My subordinates are already here, but my friends include a little demon, a mind reader, a gardener, a ghost princess, three musicians, a fake maid... Well, I guess that that's all I could bring here without being too suspicious."

She chuckles once again, and you can't help but wonder what she means by all of that. Demons, ghosts, mind readers...? What kind of friends are those to have?

She props her hands up against the base of her umbrella and looks at you expectantly as a warning bell sounds off over the campus. Getting up, you begin to take off to class as she calls out to you.

"Heeey!" Waving in your direction, she frowns. "You didn't answer me! That's really rude, you know!"

[ ] "Any friends of yours aren't friends of mine!"
[ ] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[ ] Remain silent and run off to your first class before she catches up to you.
>> No. 14724
[+] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[+] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."

Something about this vote doesn't seem to click well with me, but I don't know what it is. If someone wants to tweak it a bit, go right ahead. Like I've said before, I'm not very good with the commonplace social-type decisions. Knowing me, I'm just going to end up screwing Aoi's life over even more.

I also fear for the safety of the world. Youmu, Yuyuko, and the Prismrivers for sure. Mind reader's probably Satori, but might not be. The rest I'm not too sure about. Just what is this woman planning to do with all that firepower? Nothing wholesome I'd expect.
>> No. 14727
[X] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[X] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."

I, too, have had enough of this mysterious-bitch douche-fuckery.
>> No. 14729
[X] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[X] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."
>> No. 14730
Yukari's one-sided conversations start making a lot more sense when you imagine Aoi with a permanent ಠ_ಠ on her face.

[x] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[x] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."
>> No. 14731
>>14730

>>her face

Oh you.
>> No. 14732
>>"Any friends of yours aren't friends of mine!"
>>"Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
>>Remain silent and run off to your first class before she catches up to you.
Huh. Is this a case of ButThouMust?
>> No. 14737
[z] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[e] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."
>> No. 14738
[X] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[X] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."

>>14730

ಠ‿ಠ
>> No. 14739
>>14738
>> No. 14740
>>14739

Some sort of Behelit.
>> No. 14741
[X] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[X] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."
>> No. 14742
[X] "Why are you even asking me? I'm just going to go on to my classes."
[X] "I don't know why I'm so important to you, but if you're not going to tell me, I've got nothing more to say."
>> No. 14743
Harrumphing loudly, you look back at her with anything but joy as you raise your voice to speak.

"Why are you even asking me this?" Holding your bag by your legs, you nearly glare at this annoying girl. "I'm just going on to my classes before I'm all that late."

As she starts to walk towards you, you turn about only to see her standing right in front of you. Stopping in your place, your breath all at once comes to a halt, and you only give her a gaze with the mixed emotions of confusion and scorn.

"Why are you so cold, I wonder?" Frowning, she waggles her umbrella about behind herself. "Come on, I just want to introduce you to them, is all."

For a second, you just stand there, entirely silent, looking at the sad face of this strange girl... Or, maybe she's a woman who looks like a girl. Sighing, you shake your head and look her in the eyes as you speak.

"I don't know why I'm so important to you..." Feeling a bit insecure, your words waver as you speak to her, attempting to sound cold. "But if you won't tell me why, then I've got nothing else to say to you."

Brushing past her, you make a desperate attempt to get away, and to make it to your first class. A small, elegant chuckle escapes her lips, and, freezing in place, you turn to look at her as she speaks.

"Why are you important to me...?" Now leaning against her umbrella, she hides the edge of her thin smile with one smooth hand. "That's a long story, but I suppose I can sum it up really fast."

Pulling up off the umbrella, she drops it to the side, where it vanishes, as if flying through the pavement. Step by step, she makes her way over to you, a sly grin on her face as she does so. Grasping one of your hands, she leans towards you and speaks softly, her tone not at all angry.

"You see... You remind me of someone who was my pupil." She laughs once more, and pets your hand. "Somebody who was very important to me, and a few of the people I wish to bring here."

Taking a step back, she holds a finger to her lips as she looks you over, still grinning all the while. Nodding approvingly, she waves her fingers to make her tall, blond "subordinate" appear, walking out from behind a nearby hallway.

"Ran." Pointing towards you, she continues to smile, frightening you just the smallest bit. "You have the same class which he does right now. Make sure to take the blame for being late."

The girl with the short blond hair, "Ran", nods, walking over towards you. Her face doesn't even crack a smile as she looks you over, her cold eyes actually warming you up the slightest bit.

"Come on." Walking forwards, she carries a larger sized schoolbag with her. Poking out of the back is a small blackish-brown cat, who mews curiously, catching Ran's attention. "Please be a good girl and remain silent, Chen."

Turning to look at Yukari once more, you can see that she's all but vanished, with no trace of her left behind you. As Ran speeds on ahead, you move quickly to catch up, feeling a bit light headed as you do so.

She looks at you once more, still with a blank expression. Figuring that Yukari must make her keep her face that way, you shrug your shoulders and look down to the ground as the two of you walk alongside each other. It's not long until you reach the classroom, and Ran begins to apologize to the teacher for you.

"Eh? He was showing you around the campus?" The teacher scratches his head, frowning just slightly. "Huh... I suppose that's fine, since you're a new student. You're both excused."

The teacher turns towards the class as the two of you sit down, and he gestures towards Ran with his palm out.

"Class, this is a new student. Her name is Ran Han, so-" He pauses as a few of your classmates laugh at the name given to the girl, and he gives them a hard glare. They become silent, letting him speak once more. "As I was saying, this is our new student, Ran Han. She's transferring to finish up the last of her year, so treat her well."

The class nods, and the teacher goes on to teach your lesson. Ran just sits there and copies down note after note, her expression not changing in the least.

...

Yawning in a small voice, you look out the window to the baseball diamond outside the main building of the school. A few students have already made their way down there for lunch, and most of your class has already left to find their own places to eat. Thinking of what Renko might have ready in the clubroom, you stand up to exit the classroom, when a small rumbling catches your attention.

That girl, Ran, is still sitting in her seat, looking over the notes of the class. The rumble comes again, and you realize that it's her stomach growling. Flipping through the pages once more, she doesn't even grimace at her stomach's growling, but studiously continues to read, scratching down a few notes as she does so.

The whole scene is rather pathetic, and makes you feel a little bit bad for her, if your suspicions that she has nothing to eat are true. Thinking things through, you wonder just what you should do, or if you should just ignore her entirely for now.

[ ] "...Don't you have anything to eat?"
[ ] Ignore her and go on to the club room.
[ ] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
>> No. 14746
[+] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[+] "All work and no play makes Ran a dull girl. Come on, how 'bout I show you around for real this time?"

I may dislike Yukari as a character, but if there's one thing that always cheers me up about her, it's Ran. Ran is the straight man to Yukari's fool in seemingly every comedy routine they perform in the wide world we call life. She's a hard worker, doesn't complain, and probably is more responsible for the well-being of Gensokyo than Yukari herself is. I could always use more Ran.

But I'm not just going to vote based on opinion. As far as story context goes, Ran is the weak link in Yukari's schemes. She's usually less mysterious and more relatable, even if she's still tough to deal with because of her intelligence and kitsune-ishness. And unlike Chen, she's close enough to Yukari to really know what's going on. If you want to get to the bottom of this, don't do it through Yukari; do it through Ran.
>> No. 14748
Her stomach is rumbling because she's surrounded by so much food. Those with pro-youkai sympathies would do well to remember the tone of this story.

[x] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[x] Ask her if she would like you to get her something to eat, fried tofu for instance.
>> No. 14749
[x] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[x] Ask her if she would like you to get her something to eat, fried tofu for instance.
>> No. 14750
[x] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[x] Ask her if she would like you to get her something to eat, fried tofu for instance.
>> No. 14755
[x] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[x] Ask her if she would like you to get her something to eat, fried tofu for instance.
>> No. 14759
[~] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[z] Ask her if she would like you to get her something to eat, fried tofu for instance.
[e] "All work and no play makes Ran a dull girl. Come on, how 'bout I show you around for real this time?"

There is no way in fuck the cafeteria has fried tofu available.
>> No. 14762
>>14759

We'll take a crosstown trip if that's what it takes to prevent her from eating some poor sonuvabitch. Wouldn't be the first time Aoi's skipped out on class anyway.
>> No. 14765
[x] Invite her to go to the club room with you.
[x] Ask her if she would like you to get her something to eat, fried tofu for instance.

Don a pair of cat ears and give her a "Konichinya" sometime.
>> No. 14767
Calling it and writing.
>> No. 14768
Taking a few steps in her direction, you seem to catch her attention quickly. As she turns to look at you, you only wave smalley with your left hand, smiling a little as you do so.

"Um..." Scratching the back of your head, you laugh nervously as you speak. "Hey, are you just going to sit there and take notes all day?"

Setting her pencil down, she raises a finger to her chin and thinks, showing a bit of confusion in her expression as she does so. After another moment of her silent thinking, she shakes her head, making her short, blond hair flop about on her head.

"No, I suppose I should go eat something." Standing up, she stretches her arms out. Her mere height intimidates you, even now. "I don't know where I'm supposed to find food here, though."

At the mention of food, her small black cat jumps out of her bag and trots over to her leg, purring. Looking from side to side, it seems that absolutely everyone has already left the classroom so that they can eat lunch privately. Ran also notices this, and picks her cat up, stroking its ears as she continues to speak.

"I've read about this once before. A building like this normally has some sort of... cafeteria, is it? A place where people go to eat during the day."

Nodding, you look at the cat intently, who looks back at you in the same manner. After Ran gives you the thumbs up, you can't help but reach out and stroke the small animal's head.

"Wow, its fur is soft..." Getting back on track, you decide to keep talking about the cafeteria. "You're right, though. Cafeterias normally serve some nice food in them, if the school budget is okay. They can have all sorts of things, like dumplings, curry, weird meat, fried tofu..."

"Oh? Fried tofu?" As she perks up, you realize that you had something out of place. "They have fried tofu?"

Pulling your hand away from the cat, you shake your head quickly, and bow apologetically. It makes for a real sight to see.

"No! I'm sorry, I said something wrong..." Seeing Ran's expression become the slightest bit let down, you continue to speak. "...But, I think Renko might have some. She can be kind of weird like that, at times."

Raising an eyebrow, Ran sets the cat down and motions towards the bag. The small animal goes back into the pack, and Ran picks it up, still looking at you.

"Renko...?" Frowning the smallest bit, she shakes her head. "I hate to be so blunt, but who is she?"

"Oh... Oh!" Nodding, you make your way towards the door and motion for Ran to follow after you. She does so, and you continue to speak as the two of you walk down the hall. "Renko is my friend, and she's in charge of the Sealing Club."

For a minute, Ran merely remains silent as the two of you walk along. Now going outside and walking towards the club building, she speaks up once again, gazing ahead.

"A Sealing Club?" Her tone is slightly curious, as she walks almost alongside you.

"Yeah, a Sealing Club." Opening the door for her, you and Ran enter the club building, and start to make your way towards the club's room. "The title makes it look like a necromancer club, but that's just a technical thing so it can stay up and running. It's actually a club where Renko and I just... Well, we go around and look for 'seals' to break."

Ran nods, then grabs your shoulder, right as you're about to make a turn. Peeking out towards the corridor in a meek manner, you can see Renko and Yukari in front of the club room, talking in a serious way. You can't make out their words, but you can see Yukari pull out a shiny, foil wrapped package from her sleeve, which she hands to Renko.

Ran merely watches from right above where your head is, and you notice her cat poking its face out of her bag, watching as well. After a few more seconds, Yukari waves to Renko pleasantly. Renko doesn't wave back, and only watches as Yukari begins to walk towards a hall leading to an exit.

[ ] "Hey!" Dash out and confront Yukari. "What are you doing here, you..."
[ ] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
[ ] Walk over there with Ran, but don't speak as you do so.
>> No. 14769
[ ] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
>> No. 14770
[+] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
[+] Confront Renko about the package at a more appropriate moment. Not right now; you should still focus on acclimating Ran to Earth for now.

Knowing Yukari, she obviously knows/can find out that you’re standing right there. While it affects how much she and you know about each other, it doesn’t really affect how you should act. Yukari still hasn’t done anything to gain your trust since last time, and giving mysterious packages to people won’t win her any points. Arguing with Yukari is pretty much a losing battle, so there’s no point in confronting her over this. Better to just let things happen and talk to Renko about it later.

Also, seems like Ran’s more out of the loop about Earth than I thought. We need to remedy that. Make her feel at home.
>> No. 14771
[X] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
>> No. 14773
[X] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
>> No. 14774
[x] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
>> No. 14775
[X] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
[X] Confront Renko about the package at a more appropriate moment. Not right now; you should still focus on acclimating Ran to Earth for now.
>> No. 14776
[x] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
>> No. 14777
[z] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.
[e] Confront Renko about the package at a more appropriate moment. Not right now; you should still focus on acclimating Ran to Earth for now.

>"Well, we go around and look for 'seals' to break."
You know, it's a good thing we didn't say this to Reimu. "Hi, officer! Why yes, I'm part of the Vandalism and Property Destruction Clubs!"
>> No. 14780
[X] Remain silent, and wait for Yukari to vanish from your sight.

Remember, Aoi, this is a sneaking mission.
>> No. 14789
Sorry for taking so long to get around to this. Writing now, expect a new thread.
>> No. 14792
New thread is up. >>14791