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16938 No. 16938
============

Then I’ll just go bother my colleague instead.

A little frustrated, I flung the door of my room open and stormed outside, kicking the door shut with the heel of my foot. From there on, I silently navigated my way to the surface world, heading for the Sanzu River.

“Yo.”

I greeted Komachi with a wave of my hand as I landed on the bank of the river, lazily slouching my way to her. To my surprise, she was actually standing in her boat with a soul on board.

“Hey there. Slow day, or are ya just slacking?”

Komachi greeted me by waving back. I let out an exaggerated sigh as I walked closer to her, gesturing with my hands dramatically.

“Oh, I’m so distressed that you would accuse me of such a thing!”

I said with wild gesticulation. I’m a pretty lousy actor, though, and Komachi just rolled her eyes at the sight. I shrugged, and put on a grin.

“I don’t have anything to do yet, so I thought I’d drop by and bother you a bit.”

Saying that, I snatched one of the roaming souls out of the air, dribbling it on the ground like a basketball. You know, these things are surprisingly elastic.

“I’m used to being busy throughout the whole shift, so I gotta say, this kind of inactivity is new for me.”

I tossed the soul aside as I sat down on the edge of her boat.

“Well, there’s less people here than in the outside world. It’s to be expected, don’tcha think?”

“Guess so. Still, not even one person’s died yet?”

“Gahahaha! Well, the less work you have to do, the less work I have to do! Just take it easy, why don’tcha?”

I shrugged, and tapped my fingers on the side of the boat.

“… Hey, you know, is it just me, or are these boats getting dinkier and dinkier every millennium?”

I said, looking at the plain and unadorned boat. Could’ve sworn these used to be a lot bigger.

“Hell’s having financial issues lately, ya know.”

“Heh, right. Another thousand years and you’ll be ferrying souls on a piece of plank.”

“Well, compared to others, my Titanic is a first-class luxury ships.”

Komachi said proudly.

“Well, with a name like that, who’s gonna disagree with you?”

I laughed. Then I realized something.

“… wait, how do you know about the Titanic?”

“Eh? Oh. Heard ‘bout it from an outsider’s soul some years ago.”

“I thought you ferried the souls of Gensokyo humans.”

“Well, when I’m free, I sometimes ferry over outsiders, too. I think their stories are interesting, ya know?”

I shrugged, and stood up from the boat. If she was going to work, then I wasn’t going to keep her from it by jabbering away with her.

“Anyway, keep up the good work or whatever.”

“Oh? You leaving already?”

“You’re working, right? Unless you want me to stay ‘til you’re done ferrying that one to Higan.”

“Ehhh. Might take a while. This one’s got a lot of vice ‘stead of virtue.”

She said, nudging her head towards the soul on-board.

“Then why don’t you ferry over the virtuous souls instead? The trip would be shorter, and they’d cough up more money. It’s time efficient and profitable.”

“Well yeah, but it’s always the bad guys that have interesting stories.”

There’s something wrong with that line of thinking. But, well, whatever.

“Where’s your scythe, anyway?”

I ask. I was carrying mine on my shoulder, chained to my arm, of course. I just don’t feel right without it.

“Right here.”

Komachi said as she raised the wooden shaft she had in her hands. She was holding her scythe upside-down, with the blade submerged in the still water.

“You’re using it as an oar?”

“Yeah. Why not?”

… Why not, indeed. If it works, it works, I guess.

“Anyway, best get started.”

She said cheerfully as she dunked the head of her scythe back in the water. Presumably, she was lengthening the shaft of the scythe so the head reached the bottom of the river. The boat slowly started out into the mist, and I waved goodbye as her figure disappeared into the fog.

… Well, now what? Might as well treat this like a day-off.

[] Go check out the road between the river and the mountain.
[] Go to the human village.
[] Back to Hell.
Expand all images
>> No. 16941
[] Go to the human village.
>> No. 16942
[ze] Go check out the road between the river and the mountain.
surroundings~
>> No. 16967
[x] Explore aimlessly while trying (not) to get lost.
>> No. 17002
[x] Explore aimlessly while trying to get lost.

As a real-world person with a case of wanderlust, I can say that were it not for my duties and mortality, I would simply wander as able. This being has the luxury of being able to do so for now, so I think it would be reasonable to.
>> No. 17019
>>[ ] Go to the human village.

Isn't is stuff like this that landed us in Gensokyo in the first place?

[x] Explore aimlessly while trying to get lost.

Sure, why not go for a walk?
>> No. 17027
[x] Go to the human village.

Let's meet the denizens of Gensokyo!
>> No. 17072
[x] Go to the human village.
>> No. 17146
[x] Explore aimlessly while trying to get lost.
>> No. 17247
[X] Go check out the road between the river and the mountain.
>> No. 17306
[x] Explore aimlessly while trying to get lost.
============

Scratching the back of my head, I lowered the arm carrying my scythe, letting the tip of the blade dig into the ground as I dragged the thing along behind me out of boredom. Well, if I’ve got nothing better to do now, I might as well go exploring the world. This small, backwater world that didn’t even have a beach anyway. Damn, this sucks.

I balanced the shaft of the scythe across the back of my neck as I passed through the Chuu Road. Walking through the still thick fog, I looked everywhere around me. Heh, guess I never really paid any attention to this place before, since I usually take off to the sky rather than walk through here. All around me where a bunch of stalls being run by spirits from Hell.

Now what ticks me off about this place is the lax security. Or rather, the complete lack of it, actually. If any spirit gets assigned to work up here, they’re pretty much being given a free pass to getting the hell outta there. Or rather, getting out of Hell. Not to mention the horrible, horrible sin of overcharging for their stupid games and crappy food. Man, that should be punishable by being sent to a maximum security level of Hell.

Not wanting to stick around for very long, I took to the air, and rather than head past the mountains, I went further down, heading for a place known as the mound for foreigners. Or Muendzuka. It’s supposedly one of the weakest parts along the boundary, and maybe if I went there, I could pick up a few pieces of junk.

Muendzuka was hidden within a circle of trees, at the end of the Road of Reconsideration. It’s a pretty dangerous place for humans, or so I hear, so there obviously wasn’t too many, of course. It’s a graveyard, anyway, so there wasn’t much reason for humans to come around, either. It was pretty damn cold, too. Must be ‘cuz of all the ghosts floating around. Well, whatever. Ghosts aren’t part of my responsibilities, anyway.

…Eh? Do I see someone there? I fly a little lower to the ground to get a better look below me. Yup, there’s someone there, alright. Some boring looking four-eyes wearing a lot of blue. What is he, a grave digger? Out of curiosity, I took a look at his lifespan. If he’s around here, he can’t be living for long, eh? …No, wait, looks like he’s gonna live for a long time. Too long for a human. It wasn’t as dynamic as a youkai’s lifespan, either. Is he a half-breed, then?

He was looking around the area, looking kinda jittery. Well, wouldn’t blame him for being scared. I’m not sure about what’s on the other side of the mountain, but around here a bunch of supposedly dangerous youkai and evil spirits were around. Well, whatever. I didn’t feel like looking around the area anymore, so I left.

While I was flying away from Muendzuka, my cell phone rang. Finally, an order came in. Excitedly, I flipped the screen open. On it was the profile of some loser-ish guy. You know the kind. Unshaved, unwashed, stained clothes… but hey, wasn’t this guy from the outside world? Whatever. I quickly headed for the location the profile specified.

The guy was roaming around, looking considerably confused. Judging from his t-shirt with various stains and shorts, he was definitely an outsider. Huh, so those occasionally fall into this hole, eh? Well then, it’s too easy to figure out why he’ll die. I lurked in the branches of trees nearby, watching the man. Only a few minutes of his life remained.

I focused my eyes as a new figure entered the scene, as if the man had attracted ‘em. A child, A little girl with blonde hair wearing a white shirt underneath a black dress. The man looked startled for a bit, but relaxed once he saw the girl. You know, looking like that actually gives her a bit of an advantage when hunting, doesn’t it? Makes the prey let down their guard, and then riiiiip. Sure enough, once she was in close proximity with the man, she smiled viciously, and a bubble of darkness engulfed the two of them, blocking out exactly what she was doing, though the man’s scream and various other sounds coming from within gave me a pretty good idea of what was happening in there. You know, sort of like a convenient censor cut-away on TV.

I descended down as the little youkai girl let the bubble around her dissipate. Guess that’s her unique ability, then? Unseen, I approached the remains of the outsider man. Oh, wow, that’s pretty damn messy. I’ve seen worse, though. You ever see a guy get gibbed by an industrial fan? Yuck. Without further delay, I collected the newly separated soul. At least I ain’t going back empty-handed, thanks to the kid here. I watched the girl eat the human for a minute ‘til I got a little disgusted and ditched ‘em.

Still, if that was gonna be the only catch of the day, I still had a lot of free time.

[ ] Keep exploring.
[ ] Go roam the streets of the village.
[ ] Go see if Komachi’s back yet.
[ ] Back to Hell.
>> No. 17318
[x] Go roam the streets of the village.
>> No. 17321
[x] Go bug that guy in blue. What the hell is he doing in such a dangerous place anyway?
>> No. 17322
[X] Go roam the streets of the village.
>> No. 17353
[X] Keep exploring.

our character would think "nothing better to do"
>> No. 17384
[x] Go roam the streets of the village.

>>17321
Tempting. Maybe if he's still there when we come back.
>> No. 17388
[x] Go roam the streets of the village.
>> No. 17409
[ze] Go roam the streets of the village.
>> No. 17577
============

… That’s right, maybe I’ll head to the village again. Everywhere else was boring and full of a bunch of uninteresting youkai, anyway. Cracking my neck, I jumped up into the air, taking flight.

… What am I doing, I wonder. What did I intend to do when I got there? Would I simply watch the humans live their lives like I would before? It’s a scene I’ve seen over a hundred years ago already… that would be boring.

I hate people. I hate getting involved with anyone. Time passes by faster when I’m alone. Everything was so much easier when I didn’t have to think about anything else. But because of people, everyday’s become so much longer. So much more bleak. I hate that.

… What am I thinking? I sound like a loner freak. But I can’t help but think back to the days when I couldn’t think. Back when the entire transcendental world was more of an unchanging force of nature rather than personifications of human perceptions of concepts they couldn’t understand. When we were all nameless wraiths mindlessly carrying out the will of the world.

Did I miss that? Hell no. There were no video games or manga or anything interesting back then. But things sure were a lot more comfortable. No stupid thoughts to get in the way.

… Before I knew it, I was flying over the human village. I landed on the roof of one of the buildings, crouched down. With droopy eyes, I watched the people below pass by. I scanned through their life spans. None of the people around there would live very long past sixty. Some of them would die even sooner than that. The people of this world… their lives were shorter than even those of the outside world. I suppose it was due to the lack of advances in medicinal science.

Humans. They were so pitiful as a group. Out of all those who are mortal, it was their life spans that were the most stable of the lot. Unlike a youkai, the length of their lives was mostly set in stone from the moment of their birth. They were as nothing to the flow of destiny. They cannot stop their fated death.

But there are exceptions, of course. The iron-hearted humans who do not fear death. Those people are the ones whose hearts I can’t crack open. I can’t understand them. They may even be powerful enough to drive me away. People who are able to defy even death’s reach. In that way, those humans were… truly admirable.

And… it was to humans that we owe the purpose of our existence. We Reapers exist solely to handle human souls, after all. The souls of youkai and non-human animals did not require our hand in returning to the Sanzu River.

But… was it human beliefs that have shaped us, and the Celestial Bureaucracy into what it was today? I can’t… remember much about the time that we were formless. And to tell the truth, I don’t think even Lord Enma knows much about it, either. I know beings like us have existed since the creation of life… but-

Oh, fuck this shit. I’m not going to get an answer to that even if I contemplate over it for a hundred years. Believe me, I’ve tried.

I let out a huge yawn, wiping away at my watery eyes. I then jumped down from the house, landing on the streets below. No one could see me, of course. But… just watching people’s getting a little dull. Since this world seems familiar enough with our presence, I wonder if I can get away with actually walking amongst people in their plane.

Shall I try it?

[ ] Yes.
[ ] No.
>> No. 17578
[ ] Yes.

why not?
>> No. 17584
[ze] Yes.

Welcoming trouble with open arms.
>> No. 17602
[x] Yes.

Loner freak needs friends.
>> No. 17603
[x] Yes.

Suddenly, pandemonium! Haha, this is fun! This is fun!
>> No. 17608
[X] Yes.

Making his presence known.
>> No. 17625
[x] Yes.

>>Loner freak needs to get laid.
>> No. 17626
>>17625

But that's what Komachi's for so yeah!
>> No. 17637
[X] Yes.

Bandwagon masochist reporting in.
>> No. 17662
============

Hell, why not? I can’t possibly go any lower than this. Well, actually, I might end up on cleaning duty for five hundred years, but how is that Yabba-dabba-do gonna find out, anyway?

… Well, no need to change out of these clothes. I doubt any of these humans are familiar with the Western representation of Death, anyway. Besides, with all these ridiculous looking frilly clothes and hats some of ‘em have got on, it’s practically a contest of the bizarre and I’d fit right in.

I held out my scythe, using my manipulation of length to shrink it enough for me to easily conceal. I didn’t think it’d be too acceptable to be going around carrying it along, see.

I brushed my fingers along my hair, making sure it was spiked up exactly the way I liked it. Actually, I couldn’t remember much about the lifestyles of the people around in this era, so I was feeling a lil’ nervous. Pretty stupid of me, really. Come to think of it, when was the last time I had a normal interaction with a living human?



I forget. Can’t remember. Don’t wanna remember. Pain in the ass. Why would I want to do that anyway? Useless. Stupid.

Why am I doing this? Because I was bored? Meaningless. I shouldn’t have come here. I should just focus on carrying out my orders. Just that. Like I used to. It’s easier that way. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll return to how I used to be. But that’s monotonous. Boring. What is it that I want? …I’m not sure.

Eh? Seems I bumped into someone while I was walking. Ah… I must have unconsciously entered the lower plane. Suddenly, a flash of anger entered my mind.

“Watch where you’re going.”

I said roughly. It was actually my fault, but I didn’t care then. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said that.

“… Excuse me?”

Someone placed their hand on my shoulder to stop me as I tried to continue walking. Turning around, I saw a stern-looking woman wearing a hat in a shape that could only be described as a miniature pagoda. Having caught my attention, she crossed her arms together, glaring at me.

“I think that was a bit rude just now.”

She spoke with a calm but decidedly annoyed tone of voice. That’s it? She stopped me just to tell me that? What kind of… whatever. I turned back, intending to walk away without a word, but she stopped me with a hand on my shoulder again, practically twisting me back around.

“Excuse me! Don’t you think you should at least say something?”

She said, not even trying to hide the fact that she’s irritated now. How annoying.

“Goddamn, what’s your problem, woman?”

I said exasperatedly, shoving her arm away from me.

“Just turn around and carry on! That’s all you have to do! Sheesh, reacting like that…”

She stopped me again as I tried to walk away. Seriously, what the hell. As I prepared to chew her out, she looked at me dead in the eyes…

And then she hit me with a killer headbutt.

Holy shit, that hurt…! She knocked me flat on my ass! Goddamn it, are all human women that violent?! Dazed, I looked around for the woman who had just floored me, but she was already out of sight. I knew it. I shouldn’t have gotten involved with humans. They’re all such a pain in the ass—ow… and in the forehead, too.

“Bad luck, guy.”

I looked up and saw a man offering his hand. I ignored it and stood up on my own, rubbing the spot on my forehead that still hurt.

“She’s a lil’ on edge ‘cuz it’s that time of the month.”

The guy didn’t seem put out by my refusal to take his hand, and instead spoke good naturedly.

“Too much information.”

I said, biting the inside of my mouth. I was a little pissed, see.

“Wha? Hahaha, no, no, that ain’t what I meant, guy. There’s a full moon tonight, and she’s always a little more aggressive around that time.”

“Whatever.”

I left without a word of goodbye, walking off without thinking of where to go. Argh, what was wrong with her? I didn’t know humans would care so much over petty things like that. It wasn’t like that in the outside world. People would just keep carrying about their own business no matter how many strangers they bumped into. I can’t understand her. She’s a weird one.

Or maybe all those people in the outside world are the weird ones. I don’t know. I just emulate what I saw while watching those people. I’ve gone on for eons without interacting much with people. I can’t judge society. Maybe I should act more like the abnormal ones? I don't understand. Human behavior... is confusing.

… I feel like eating something.

[ ] I might as well have my lunch in town, then.
[ ] Time to head back.
>> No. 17663
[X] I might as well have lunch in town then.

Poor Sho. One can't get away with being an ass here.
>> No. 17664
[x] I might as well have my lunch in town, then.

Wonder if Mokou has a stall in the village yet...
>> No. 17668
[ze] I might as well have my lunch in town, then.

Never would have figured Keine for the Apologize-To-Me type of punk.
>> No. 17670
[x] I might as well have my lunch in town, then.
>> No. 17672
>>17668

More like a teacher who isn't tolerant of schoolyard tough-guy types. Sho is a bit of an ass.

inb4 he gets his ego knocked down a few notches by one of Gensokyo's residents.
>> No. 17677
[B] I might as well have my lunch in town, then.
>> No. 17691
[X] I might as well have my lunch in town, then.

laziness = not going back yet. plus, we don't like the merchants back home. may as well see what this place has to offer.
>> No. 17737
============

Well, so long as I was there, I figured I might as well eat at the town. Maybe check out what kind of food they have here. I wasn’t expecting anything fresh, though. There were no such things as fridges there anyway. Pah.

But the problem was… where should I go to eat? It wasn’t like I was a regular villager who had his usual meal at a place he was fond of. I was a newcomer. I had no idea what was good. I didn’t really want to ask the people around about where I should go, either.

Finally, I settled in front of a shabby looking… tavern, I would guess. And by shabby, I mean “How the hell is this place not wrecked yet?” Regardless, I ventured inside.

Inside, the whole place stunk of alcohol. The building was eastern (no surprise there), and various square tables had been set up, with patrons sitting around either on cushions or on the bare floor. And speaking of the patrons, they were all louts and drunkards. Some of them were passed out on the floor.

I made my way to an empty table, making sure the hem of my cloak didn’t brush against any of those filthy drunks, and sat down on a cushion. Pretty soon, a harassed looking middle aged woman came to my table to get my order. I ordered some grilled meat and drinks to go with it. I’m not really much of a drinker, though, so I wasn’t planning on getting plastered.

My orders came in pretty fast. I guess the cooks in the kitchen didn’t have much to do at the time, since all that the other patrons seemed to be ordering was more sake. Several strips of meat had been skewered on sticks, and I hungrily devoured them, washing it all down with a cup of sake.

As I ate, I looked around the place, using my eyes to scan the lifespan of those present. A lot of them weren’t going to live for very long. No wonder. I really wondered then, why do these people waste their life like that? Don’t they value their short time in the world of the living? And yet there they were, drinking their lives away. I couldn’t understand them anymore than those who didn’t fear death. Why…?

After silently finishing my meal, I stood up from the table, getting ready to leave. The middle aged woman from earlier hurried on over to me, and stopped me as I was walking away from the table.

“Leave behind the payment.”

She said to me with a cold glare. Ah, right. I have to pay for what I eat. Reaching into my cloak, I withdrew a few coins and tossed them down on the table. That should be enough to cover everything right?

Silently, I made to leave again, but the lady stopped me again, and pointed at the coins on the table.

“What is this? Is this a joke? This isn’t money! Pay what you owe!”

“What are you talking about. This is money.”

I said. Money is money no matter how you look at it, right? Why is she being fussy about this?

“That’s not money! I don’t know what currency this is supposed to be, but we don’t accept coins like this!”

Ah. So this is about that, I thought. The money I carried around came from the afterlife. Well, that was a shame, wasn’t it? I didn’t have any other form of money with me.

“You. Wait here.”

The woman commanded, and just to amuse myself, I followed that command. What were they going to do? I scooped the coins back up and deposited them back into a pocket. The woman then returned with a burly man by her side, probably the owner of the place.

“Hey. It’s a basic principle to pay for what you eat.”

The man growled at me. As if he could intimidate me.

“I know that. But I don’t have any money, so I can’t pay you.”

I said, standing there with a bored look on my face.

“Then you shouldn’t have ordered anything.”

The man replied, scowling.

“You’ll just have to work off what you owe.”

“What, you gonna make me wash dishes?”

“… Yes. That’s exactly what I’m going to make you do.”

Hah. I snickered a little. If he thinks he can make me waste my time…

Well, actually, there was nothing for me to really do. I actually seriously considered his offer then…

[ ] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[ ] Introduce the table to his face.
--[ ] Run for it.
[ ] Alright. Fine.
>> No. 17738
[x] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[x] Vanish into the upper plane.

We'll disappear and laugh at them from our upper plane.

And when we get back home it'll be punishment time.
>> No. 17739
[ ] Alright. Fine.

Be a nice guy... for now. We shouldn't be too much of a jerkass while we're still getting used to the place.
>> No. 17740
[X]Alright, fine.

'But I'm only doing it out of boredom.'
>> No. 17741
[B] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[B] Vanish into the upper plane.
>> No. 17742
[ ] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[ ] Introduce the table to his face.
>> No. 17743
[X]Alright, fine.
>> No. 17744
[x] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[x] Vanish

We can pay him back later once we get some of the local currency from a few souls.
>> No. 17746
[X]Alright, fine.
>> No. 17748
[ze] All right, fine.

The hardest part of understanding is all the boring necessary stuff.
>> No. 17749
[x] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[x] Vanish into the upper plane.
>> No. 17750
[x] Nah. I don’t want to.
--[x] Vanish into the upper plane.
>> No. 17751
[X] Alright, fine.
-[X] "... but maybe your could use a waiter instead?" Chewing the fat with some of the locals sounds less-boring than pruning your hands in the kitchen. Besides, as long as you're sticking around, might as well do what you would've done earlier if you had the energy for it.

Oh, why, hello there, little horned girl at the corner table!

(Eh, it's worth a shot.)
>> No. 17756
>>17751
ಠ_ಠ
>> No. 17757
>>17751
I really can't see our character doing that.

[X] Alright. Fine.
- When leaving, end conversation with "see you in 30 years," or something to that tune.
>> No. 17760
>>17757

Admittedly, neither could I, but I still wanted to do it.
>> No. 17779
[X] Alright. Fine.
>> No. 17837
File 124666406365.jpg - (300.03KB, 566x800, 01.jpg) [iqdb]
17837
============

Scowling, I tossed off my hood, cracked my knuckles, and stood on my tippy-toes to seem a little more intimidating, getting in the owner’s face as I spoke in a deep, threatening voice.

“Alright, fine.”

They promptly marched me off to the kitchen. You know, I didn’t think they would actually make me wash the dishes, but goddamn it, they did. No problem, though. I’m the best dishwasher ever. I could totally finish that mountain of crap in five minutes.

Also, I’ve never washed dishes before, but that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

They let me go pretty fast. Probably because I was just too awesome at washing dishes. Or it might’ve been that they kicked me out for breaking half a dozen dishes while washing ‘em. Tch, what’s the deal with them? Dishes don’t have lives. They can just replace them all. Don’t they make enough money to replace some cheap dishware? It isn’t my fault the dishrag is so damn slippery.

Still, it was pretty fun to see them get mad at me. It was a nice change, considering everyone else I’ve talked to are either dying or dead. Or one of us. I felt happy, even. Over here, I could talk to humans instead of just watching them.

But did I want to associate with them?

I wasn’t supposed to, after all. But, still…

Shaking my head, I attuned myself to the higher plane as I stepped out of the building, and pulled out my cell phone. Flipping it open, I checked the time. My shift’s just about over. I think I’ll go back to Hell now. Not much of a haul today. Well, it was just one soul, really.



After I’d dropped off the one and only soul I’d collected, I went down to Hell. I didn’t really have much to do, but I just felt like going there anyway. But as I turned a corner and entered the corridor to my room…

“Oh, um!”

One of the fairies working here? What was it doing outside of my room? It flies over to me excitedly.

“Kitoshirozawa Sho?”

It asks me with uncertainty.

“That’s me.”

“The Yamaxanadu wants to see you.”

What. Oh shit, oh fuck. Goddamn it. Fuuuuuuuuuck. Did she find out? Oh goddamn it, I don’t want to have to scrub the bathroom or work in the lower layers of Hell! Some of those other Hells are freakin’ inhuman. There’s one that stinks really bad, one that’s freakin’ hot, one that’s colder than Fimbulvetr…

Alright, alright, calm down. Maybe she’ll let it slide. Can’t lose my cool. Involuntarily, I slick up my hair, making sure it’s the way I like it. Damn it, that’s starting to become a nervous habit.

With an impatient pace, I made my way to her office. I hesitated before the impressively grand and decorated door, wondering if I should knock before entering. I did so, and heard a voice from inside.

“You may enter.”

Turning the handle of the door, I pushed it open and headed inside. The boss was sitting at her desk, on top of which there were several stacks of paper. The kind that demoralizes your motivation to work. She was filling out some documents with her uncharacteristically cute glasses on.

“Go ahead and have a seat.”

She commanded me without even looking up. Frowning, I silently followed her command.

“Look, I can explain.”

I said rather lamely. Goddamn it, it’s like I’m the bumbling culprit on some cop show.

“Oh? That’s the first sign of guilt.”

The boss said dryly.

“But that’s not what I called you in here for. Go ahead and take one of those forms over there. Fill it out, and do the same for the rest of the stack.”

… Huh? She wants me to do paperwork?

“Why me?”

“Because the end of your shift coincides with the time I use to fill out these documents.”

She explained, adjusting her glasses.

“Or should I say that it’s perhaps because you’re the lowest in your newly introduced hierarchy?”

I saw the faintest trace of a smile there, but nevertheless, I did as she instructed and took a sheet of paper from the stack.

“I hate hierarchical relationships.”

I muttered as I started on it with my own pen.

“These aren’t the forms for my transfer, are they?”

“Oh, no. I finished those on the first day.”

Sheesh, this woman works fast.



“And that’s all of them.”

“Ugh, finally… my wrist feels like a cement mixer.”

I said as I massaged my hand. That took forever.

“We finished up earlier than I thought we would.”

The boss said as she looked up at the clock hanging from the other side of the room.

“Good work.”

“Sure thing, boss. Anything else I can do for you?”

I said sarcastically, shaking my still aching hand.

“Actually… Hm… well, there is something else you might be able to help me with, but…”

She replied, holding up her rod of remorse as she stood up from her table. She examined me a little closer before speaking again.

“… No, nevermind.”

“What is it? You need me to go kill someone troublesome or what?”

I said jokingly.

“No, that’s not it. Actually, a few years back, one of the spirits from the lower levels of Hell escaped somehow. It’s grown in power since it broke out, and the reapers we sent to reclaim it were all defeated.”

“Oh?”

“Well, it’s not that it’s causing trouble, so it isn’t really a high priority matter for the Celestial Bureaucracy. Forget I said anything.”

“… What, you don’t think I’m strong enough to bring that thing back?”

“… Well, yes.”

At least she’s honest.

[ ] Sounds like a challenge. I’ll do it. I’ll do it right now, even.
[ ] I can do it. But only if, and when, I feel like doing it.
[ ] Whatever.
>> No. 17842
[X] Whatever.

Yeah, right. we get back from our shift, forced to fill out a crapton of paperwork, and then get asked to take on some evil spirit that's a low priority? I think we'd rather get a beer and complain at somebody.
>> No. 17853
[X]I can do it. But only if, and when, I feel like doing it.

That sounds like a challenge Yamaxanadu.
>> No. 17858
[x] Well? Who is this spirit?

Mima?
>> No. 17863
[O] Well? Who is this spirit?
>> No. 17865
[ ] Sounds like a challenge. I’ll do it. I’ll do it right now, even.
>> No. 17871
[ ] Sounds like a challenge. I’ll do it. I’ll do it right now, even.
>> No. 17872
[x] Well? Who is this spirit?
>> No. 17876
[ ] Sounds like a challenge. I’ll do it. I’ll do it right now, even.
>> No. 17877
[B] Sounds like a challenge. I’ll do it. I’ll do it right now, even.
>> No. 17883
Well, I know what game you've been playing, Cantus.
>> No. 18120
============

That still kind of ticked me off, though. I don’t like it when people underestimate me, though it’s always a kick to see their expression when they see how much stronger I am than compared to what they thought I was capable of.

“I’ll do it.”

I said confidently.

“I’ll do it right now, even.”

I said, getting up from my seat with gusto. Cracking my neck, I hurriedly made my way to the door, placing my hand on the handle to open it as I heard the boss call out from behind me.

“Wait, you don’t even know who your target is—“

“Just have the info sent to me.”

I said, waving my hand dismissively as I opened the door and stepped outside. As I left, I heard the boss let out a sigh and mutter something along the lines of “so impatient.” Well, I had to admit, I’m not exactly the best at sitting down and listening to someone.



I looked up at the night sky as I emerged from the entrance to Hell, a cave located beyond the mountains that separated Gensokyo and the next world. The air was very clean here. I reached my arms up and stretched, and swung at the air a few times with my scythe.

Typically, evil spirits weren’t under the jurisdiction of reapers. They’re mostly just ghosts who haunt the world of the living out of spite or because of a grudge, and we allow the living to deal with them—through exorcists and priests and such. A lot of people call the souls of Heaven, Hell, and the Netherworld ghosts, but that isn’t exactly correct. Souls who haven’t yet been judged by the Yama of Higan are still classified as “living”. If they’re destroyed then, their soul’s gone forever, and as a result, the birth rate of the world goes down

And of course, once in a while, a soul develops a link to the living world before a reaper has a chance to take it, usually through strong lingering sentiments. Then, well, they’re not our problem anymore. Either they’re destroyed, or they continue to haunt until they’re ready--or forced—to be sent to judgment through an exorcist.

Then there are the escaped souls, convicts from Hell whom somehow managed to escape from their confine. Now, that can be solved by an exorcist, too, but then the reputation of our great Celestial Bureaucracy takes a hit, see, so if things are urgent, they send us reapers to directly escort, or rather, force the spirit back to Hell.

It’s not rare for reapers to have a hard time with an escaped evil spirit, though. I mean, they escaped from Hell. You have to be some kind of a badass to manage to do something like that. Or, well, maybe they just seized a chance, but that takes cunning too, I suppose. There was an incident a few years back. Something about a human going on a rampage in Hell. I laughed when I heard about it, thinking it was impossible. But now that I think on it a little, the spirit might’ve escaped during the whole commotion.

Well, doesn’t matter how it escaped, anyway. What matters is that I’m going to send it straight back to Hell.

As I began to hover above the ground, my cell phone started ringing. Reaching into my cloak, I flipped it open as I took it out. The target’s name, appearance, and current location had been sent to me, just like when I’m given a job during my work shift.

Hm… that place isn’t too far from here. It was right on the other side of the mountain, actually. Closing the cell phone, I pocketed it underneath my cloak and began casually drifting towards my target.



Keeping myself in the higher plane, I phased through the walls of the building that was housing the evil spirit. Hah. To think it was taking up residence here. It’s a pretty bold evil spirit, alright.

In the room, I saw two girls. One of them looked pretty young. She looked to be in her early to mid teens, with shoulder length dark hair, getting ready to turn in for the night, apparently. Hovering above her was an older looking woman, with long green hair. The top of her head was adorned with a long, conical cap, decorated with the moon and stars, and a blue cape fastened at her neck with a large yellow ribbon.

“You’re so lazy, Reimu!”

The woman said tauntingly, continuing to hover over the girl. The girl, Reimu, replied with an annoyed expression.

“Oh, don’t you dare start that again.”

“Why don’t you just quit? You haven’t even been getting any donations! Just let me take over the shrine and your powers and I’ll let you live in comfort~!”

Reimu let out a snort as she slid the door to a room open, stepping inside as the floating woman followed her. I phased through the walls to continue to watch them.

“Just get lost already. Go bother Marisa. She’s probably still awake.”

Saying that, the girl laid out her futon and pillow and lied down, pulling the blanket up. Almost immediately, she fell asleep. The woman lowered herself to the floor, crouching down next to her and pulling the blanket up to her chin. She then looked over to me, flashed a mischievous grin, and quietly headed outside.

Well, there was my target.

She was floating above the shrine, looking up at the crescent moon in the sky with a scepter in hand. As I flew up to the same height behind her, she glanced towards me, and then turned back to the night sky without a word.

[ ] I should attack her immediately. Finish this up fast.
[ ] I’ve always wanted to play the role of a cop.
[ ] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
[ ] Actually, I don’t want to do this after all.
>> No. 18129
[ ] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18132
[x] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18133
[X] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18138
[†] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18144
[X] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18151
[B] I should attack her immediately. Finish this up fast.
>> No. 18157
[X] Greet her. It’s a nice night.

...and after the inevitable argument caused by our lack of social finesse...

[X] Go to hell, bitch.
>> No. 18226
[O] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18265
[X] Greet her. It’s a nice night.
>> No. 18450
File 124841459020.jpg - (300.94KB, 799x802, 01.jpg) [iqdb]
18450
======

“Yo.”

I said in greeting, waving my hand above my head. As I did so, I approached her slowly, waiting for her to turn around.

“Hey, c’mon, not gonna say hello?”

I asked, balancing my scythe on my shoulders as I continued to watch the evil spirit’s back. She’s still ignoring me. Bah, that’s irritating.

“Hey. Don’t ignore me.”

I said in a little agitated voice. She finally turned around again, letting out a quiet laughter.

“Oh, sorry. Didn’t see you there. You have a kind of a small presence.”

She was grinning confidently, without even a single trace of fear or hesitation.

“Is that so…?”

The words left my mouth dryly. How annoying. But, well, I was feeling pretty talkative at the time, for some reason… so I decided not to attack her just yet.

“What were you looking at, anyway?”

I asked, looking up at the sky. Was she moon-watching? Well, it wasn’t like there was even a full moon tonight. Counting the stars, maybe?

“Nothing in particular.”

The evil spirit said, briefly turning her gaze to the sky once more before focusing it back on me and speaking.

“And what are you up to? I doubt a shinigami’s visiting a shrine to give donations.”

“I’m on the job, of course.”

“Really now? That’s too bad. I’ll miss teasing Reimu, but if you have to…”

She trailed off, still grinning. Hah. So she’s playing dumb, is she?

“… No, no, no. She’s not the one I’m after.”

“Oh?”

“That’s right.”

I lowered my scythe and pointed a finger at her.

“I’m here for you.”

“My, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She said, faking a look of astonishment.

“Surely, a death god wouldn’t have business with the deity of a shrine, would he?”

“As if an evil spirit like you could become a God.”

I tossed off my hood, readying my scythe as I crouched down into a fighting stance.

“It’s about time for you to return to Hell, don’t you think?”

I said, grinning with anticipation. There’s no way this spirit can be that tough. So I underestimated the old man. But that won’t happen again. I should be in pretty good shape now that I’ve fought again. This was gonna be easy.

“… Heh. If Hell wanted to take me back…”

She began, swinging her staff as two enormous, black bird-like wings sprouted out from her back, spreading themselves majestically as she flew up into the air, scattering dark feathers below her.

“Then they should have sent a lot more than just you!”

Grinning fiercely, I shot up after her, my cloak fluttering about in the rush of night air. The evil spirit known as Mima awaited me high in the sky.

[ ] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.
[ ] Take her down as fast as possible. No holding back.
>> No. 18452
[X] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.

Gauge her strength while not showing the full extent of yours. Considering how lowly she considers you, you can surprise her. And pray Twilight Spark doesn't actually exist.
>> No. 18456
[X] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.

It feels like we're doing this more out of ego and bemusement than actually trying to get a job done. And besides, we have nothing better to do right now.
>> No. 18459
[X] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.
>> No. 18460
[x] Take her down as fast as possible. No holding back.

Underestimating our foe got us beat last time.
>> No. 18461
[O] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.
>> No. 18466
[†] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.
>> No. 18467
>>18460

True but there's a difference between taking someone lightly and holding back to gauge their strength and tactics.

The course is different with those mindsets

If one went all out from the start, they'd end up revealing their limits, and as far as we know she might be waiting for that opening.

Sho took Youki lightly (big mistake as most Touhou fans know)

This time I think he might go about being wary of her.
>> No. 18474
[ze] Take it slow. Fight at my own leisure. Get warmed up.
>> No. 18515
File 124866998384.jpg - (88.56KB, 600x575, 01.jpg) [iqdb]
18515
============

I ascended to her level, and she began soaring backwards, while still facing me. I chased after her, gripping my scythe tightly with a single hand. Running away, eh? As if you can run from a shinigami! No matter how fast you are, you can’t outrun death.

Using my ability, I shortened the length between us, my body lurching forward just close enough to her to get in a swing. As I struck at her with my scythe, she raised up her scepter in defense, catching the blade of the scythe in the arc in its crescent shaped tip.

“You seem to think too highly of yourself.”

I sneered, keeping the scythe locked with the staff. As we struggled, we were still soaring through the air, and the scenery of the nearby forests and mountain rushed by beneath us. We were already pretty far away from the shrine. That’s just as well. Could have been troublesome if that mortal had seen us.

“But you’ve flown too far from your cage… The first thing I’ll do now is clip those wings of yours!”

I applied strength to the shaft of my scythe. She was struggling, holding the staff with both hands, but she couldn’t stop the blade from slowly descending.

She yanked her scepter to the side, redirecting the scythe along with it, and released one of her hands from it to point it at me. In an instant, a blast of energy surged from her open palm, and I quickly jerked my head to the side to avoid being hit in the face.

“Oh, even without wings, we can all fly. But you won’t be getting mine~!”

Mima laughed at me, aiming her palm to fire another blast. But before she could, I reached out and grabbed her wrist, roughly snatching it up so that the blast fired at the open sky, instead.

“How rude. If you want to hold a lady’s hand, you should be more of a gentleman!”

I let go of her wrist, and she swung her staff at me. I easily dodged her strike, and slashed at her using my scythe. She stopped the tip of the blade by reaching out with her free hand, putting up a magical barrier that deflected the attack. Well, her reflexes aren’t too bad, at least. This might be enjoyable.

She sped back, her great wings flapping powerfully as from their tips emerged a dense cloud of magical bullets. Opting to charge straight ahead, I swooped into the bullet curtain, wildly slashing my way through, deflecting the barrage with my scythe and hand. Raising the sickle high above my head, I let out a low grunt as I swing it down, vertically.

From the blade of the scythe derived several small spinning edges that resembled the farmer’s sickle. They spun about in the air, rapidly cutting through the sky to reach the evil spirit, who carefully took aim at the sickles and blasted them out of the air.

While she was preoccupied with the mini-scythes, I raised my hand to the air, palm facing up. From the surface of my palm, an eerie light traveled up, splitting into the images of human skulls that cackled, rapidly biting at the air as they homed in on Mima.

Even from this distance away, I could see the contemptible grin on her face as she reached forward with her scepter, drawing a circle in front of her with its tip. A translucent, glowing line followed the movement of her staff, and from that circle, several orbs of various colors grew in size. Blue, red, green and yellow. These orbs spread out as though they had a mind of their own, and each of them met the skulls head on, shattering them.

They then surrounded me, and began to emanate with magical energy as they began firing bursts of energy at will. Clicking my tongue, I evaded the blasts, while at the same time I shook loose the chain around my arm. Gripping the end of the chain, I threw the scythe, using my manipulation of length on the chain to allow the blade to reach its target.

With perfect precision, the scythe crushed one of the orbs. I tugged at the chain, controlling it so that the scythe destroyed another of the orbs on the return trip. Spinning around, I threw the scythe again, destroying the remainining two with a single swing of the chain.

The scythe returned to my hand, and I gladly snatched it up by the shaft. Mima was watching me with an amused expression.

“Not bad.”

She said haughtily, crossing her arms.

“But you’re nothing special. You’re nowhere near strong enough to beat me.”

“That so?”

I shrugged. Well, we were just getting started, after all. I hadn’t even taken off my cloak yet, either.

“Why don’t you just give up and crawl back to Hell like a good little death god?”

“… Well, when you put it that way… it kind of makes me want to take you seriously.”

I smiled, gripping the front of my cloak. With a single movement, I ripped it away from my body. The black cloak fluttered about in the wind, and suddenly, it burst into black flame, not leaving even a single shred of it.

That was another cloak gone, but what the Hell, I had like, thirty of those, anyway.

[ ] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.
[ ] Stay at long-range. I don't know what kind of nasty spells she might throw at a too-close-for-comfort distance.
>> No. 18517
[ ] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.

long range is Mima's best range (and even if she's stronger at melee range than her student, it's still most likely her weakest range)

In retrospect Youki might have been fought better at a longer range.
>> No. 18525
[ ] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.
>> No. 18526
[x] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.
>> No. 18535
[x] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.
>> No. 18543
[X] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.

Standard Tactics: (stanurd taktiks) Pointy end goes into the thing that bleeds and screams.
>> No. 18545
[O] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.
>> No. 18549
[ ] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.
>> No. 18558
[x] Attack her at close-range. She won't be able to keep up if I pressure her.

If you know what I mean...
>> No. 18699
Right. Will get to writing soon. Sorry for the delay.
>> No. 18703
>>18699
YAY!
>> No. 18717
File 124962505624.jpg - (596.82KB, 841x595, 01.jpg) [iqdb]
18717
============

Narrowing my eyes, I gave my neck a good cracking, massaging my shoulders with my free hand. Mima continued to watch me as I began to do stretches. What a stupid woman. You’d think she’d take this chance to attack me now. Or is it because she’s so confident that she doesn’t bother with cheap attacks? Well, whatever.

“I haven’t even started fighting for real yet.”

I said with a smug smirk, swinging my scythe across the air before pointing its toe towards the evil spirit.

“That’s what everyone says.”

Mima replied mockingly, yawning. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little from that. And then I quickly dropped the smile, glaring intensely at her. Well then, here I come.

With a burst of speed, I rocketed towards her, the cold night air brushing against my body as I soared through it. My speed surprised her, and she was barely able to bring up her staff in defense as I struck at her with my scythe. With a loud metallic clang, the shaft of her rod clashed against the scythe’s blade, blocking it from cutting into her.

Swiftly, I shifted the sickle down and pulled my arm back. The curved blade of the scythe caught the rod at its tip, and Mima nearly lost her grip on it as I reaped it away from her. Well, it might’ve been easier if I had succeeded in disarming her then, but that wasn’t my intent anyway.

Spreading my other arm out towards her, I aimed my palm at her face, just as she had done only minutes before. Her eyes widened as though she knew what I was up to, but there was no way she could dodge at this range. A surge of energy erupted from the palm of my hand, blasting her away.

Of course, that wouldn’t be enough to take her down. She quickly recovered from being propelled away. She’d managed to block the blast with one arm just before I shot it at her, it seemed. Waving her staff, a barrage of multi-colored stars flew at me. Bracing myself, I dove into the volley of stars, shattering through any that would hit me with a single arm.

Mima was flying back, trying to keep a reasonable distance between the two of us. But when you’re up against a shinigami, that sort of thing just isn’t possible! Even though normally she could probably beat me in terms of flight speed, it didn’t matter how fast she was when I applied my power.

Warping the space between us, I quickly caught up to her retreating figure. She knows that she can’t match me at melee-range, and so before I have a chance to attack her, she spreads her wings. Those great, majestic wings flapped furiously, sending fierce gusts of wind towards me. With some effort, I managed to cut through the storm with my scythe. Taking hold of the dangling chain at the end of the sickle, I swung it, spinning it in a circle before flinging the great metal weight at the end of it at the evil spirit.

As it approached her, the chain sprang to life, wrapping itself around one of her arms.

“Wha-?!”

Gripping the shaft of my scythe with both hands, I yanked her towards me, dragging her by the arm.

“Go to Hell!”

Raising the blade high above me, I yelled as I struck down with full strength. Mima gritted her teeth, and raised her staff to block the attack. The resulting clash resounded throughout the sky, and sent her crashing down towards the earth.

“Heh.”

I snorted as I watched her fall to the ground. Slowly and deliberately, I descended after her. She was in a crumpled heap on the dirt. Man, was she a mess. Her scepter lay beside her, snapped cleanly in two. Well, time to reap her now and bring her to the boss. She wasn’t nearly as tough as I thought she would be. I walked closer to her to finish her off. Leaning forward over her body, I placed the blade of my scythe at her neck and…

…?!

My abdomen suddenly felt deathly cold. In front of me was Mima, standing very close. I… hadn’t even seen her get up. Looking down, I saw her hands clenched around a single knife, buried into my stomach. I looked back up. With a malicious grin, Mima pulled the knife from my body, waving the bloody thing around my face as I stood there in shock.

“I have to say, you’re a lot tougher than the usual shinigami.”

She said, although she still had that conceited grin on her face, damn it.

“But that’s about it. I can’t believe you fell for a stupid trick like that. Looks like you won’t be taking me after all, idiot.”

Saying that, she placed two fingers on my chest, over where a human would have a heart. A glint of light rushed out from her fingers, ripping through my body and out of the other side. Gradually, and almost dramatically, I staggered back, and fell down.

From the corners of my eyes, I saw her gather the pieces of her broken scepter, preparing to leave.

[ ] Get up. This is nothing.
[ ] Too much effort.
>> No. 18719
[ ] Get up. This is nothing.
>> No. 18720
[x] Get up. This is nothing.
>> No. 18722
[X] Get up. This is nothing.

When you're already dead, the worst case scenario simply doesn't exist. The worst she can do is immobilize us for a time, may as well keep fighting until she does or we win. Either way, we're not letting her win with that stupid trick.
>> No. 18723
[X] Get up. This is nothing.

"Who the hell do ya think I am!?"
>> No. 18726
[x] Get up. This is nothing.

No strange aeons have passed, death will not die.
>> No. 18727
[X] Get up. This is nothing.

A) You need a good tale to tell your lovely co-worker

B) Mima is not a Belmont
>> No. 18728
[O] Get up. This is nothing.
>> No. 18730
>With a loud metallic clang, the shaft of her rod clashed against the scythe’s blade, blocking it from cutting into her.

If you know what I mean?
>> No. 18731
>>18726
Do-

>>18727
ho.
>> No. 18768
[X] Get up. This is nothing.
[X] "That was quite a move. I'll admit you've got potential. If challenge had a taste, you'd be quite delicious."
>> No. 18829
============

Really, how stupid of me was that. I should have figured she was up to something. Muttering curses to myself, I stood up from the ground, leaning on my scythe for support.

“Where do you think you’re going, ah?”

I called out after Mima, who turned around to look at me. I grinned as I glanced down at the front of my torso. There was about a two-inch wide hole in the middle of my chest. I stuck one of my fingers through it.

“What, you think this little thing is enough to keep a shinigami down?”

I said mockingly, taking my finger out of the hole. Of course, a wound like this meant absolutely nothing to a shinigami.

“Maybe you should have made a bigger hole, eh? Or maybe fire off a dozen more?”

Laughing, I began walking toward her. She looked slightly annoyed for a moment, but also broke into a grin shortly after.

“Of course, if that’s all that took to make you give up, you really would have been a disappointment.”

She said contemptuously, folding her arms.

“You won’t get another chance like that again, you know.”

I replied, cracking my neck. Mima simply laughed, tossing away the pieces of her scepter and brandishing her bloodied knife again.

Leaning forward, I broke into a run, taking a giant leap forward. Vertically flipping in the air, I brought down my scythe with both hands. The evil spirit quickly withdrew, and the tip of the scythe instead crashed into the dirt, creating a small crater beneath me. Swiftly, I pulled the scythe out of the ground and gave chase.

She flew into the air, flapping those great wings of hers, with me in pursuit beneath her. Focusing, I called upon my power again. Our positions became reversed; with her now beneath me and I above her. The switch seemed to have a disorienting effect on her, as she looked at me with a confused expression as she flew towards me, unable to stop her own momentum.

Grinning, I swung the scythe mightily with a single hand. Mima swerved to dodge the attack, but she was too late. With a sickening crunch, the wicked curved blade sliced through one of her wings, and it dispersed into the air as though it were made of foul black dust.

“Only one left!”

I yelled, laughing at her. She looked at me with hateful eyes, clutching her shoulder as she hastened to retreat. No way is she going to get away, now.

As she flew back, I shot off after her. In an effort to impede me, she let out a barrage of light in my direction. I drew back a fist and punched the air, shooting forth a blast of my own. The wisp-like blast took the shape of a giant skull, swallowing up the bullets as it hunted the woman down. She put up a magical barrier in front of her, on which the skull shattered itself, but in doing so she left her back open!

With my manipulation of distance, I quickly closed the gap between us just as she placed the barrier. Grinning manically, I savored her expression of utter surprise and disbelief as I swung my scythe again, severing her other wing.

“Hahahaha! Well, do you feel like going back to your cage now, you little bird?!”

I cackled, backing off a little. She’s definitely in a lot of pain. Her breathing’s ragged, and her eyes are tearing up a little, even. Was this it? This was too easy. Clearly, the other reapers here must all be a bunch of inexperienced weaklings. Still green behind the ears.

“Ugh… you annoying son of a…”

She cursed me. I could just feel the hate pouring from her. She must not have been used to being humiliated like this.

“… Heh…heheheh…”

… Eh? What was she laughing about?

“You haven’t cut off all of my wings.”

She said, managing to still look defiant.

“Now I’m serious.”

“Oh? Weren’t you fighting seriously just now?”

I asked mockingly. Seriously, if she was holding back, then she probably should have been serious before I cut her wings off. You know. Just saying.

Mima grinned as she flew up into the air. From her back emerged three sets of wings. They grew to enormous size, almost completely blocking out the light of the moon. Ah, so that’s what she meant earlier.

“Big deal, you grew some more wings. Am I supposed to be impressed?”

Her response came not in words but in action. Her wings began to glow brightly, giving off an eerie purple light. Particles of energy seemed to be drawn into her wings. Is she charging up an attack or what?

[ ] I should attack her now, before she has a chance to do whatever she’s planning to do.
[ ] I need to stay back. Be cautious. I don’t know what she’s up to.
>> No. 18830
[x] I should attack her now, before she has a chance to do whatever she’s planning to do.

I only suspect Mima's doing one thing and one thing only: Twilight Spark
>> No. 18832
[x] I should attack her now, before she has a chance to do whatever she’s planning to do.
>> No. 18841
[B] I need to stay back. Be cautious. I don’t know what she’s up to.
>> No. 18842
[†] I should attack her now, before she has a chance to do whatever she’s planning to do.
>> No. 18843
[ze] I should attack her now, before she has a chance to do whatever she’s planning to do.

Fuck yeah, blindly charging in like a retard!

Sho really needs to be taken down a few pegs.
>> No. 18847
[X] I should attack her now, before she has a chance to do whatever she’s planning to do.

Although I do feel bad about hurting mima, she kinda deserves it for the earlier nasty trick...and it's not like she would be any kinder to us.
>> No. 18848
>>18847

I just think of Sho regarding this as mainly business and/or fun. I don't think he has an actual heartfelt grudge or anything yet towards the ghost.
>> No. 18850
>>18848
but still, cutting off a lady's wings? necessary I know, but kinda low.
>> No. 18865
>>18850

To be fair she did stab us in the gut with a knife.
>> No. 18890
============

Well, whatever she was planning, I wasn’t going to let her pull it off. Without further delay, I leaned forward and charged in with my scythe at the ready. Speeding up tremendously, I quickly closed the distance between that woman and myself, gripping the shaft of my scythe with both hands as I raised it up to strike.

Her wings struck out powerfully, and sent out an immensely powerful gust of wind in my direction, blowing me back. I steeled myself against the storm, but from the countless feathers of her wings, there erupted a stream of spikes. They sped toward me at a surprising speed, breaking against my body as I held out my arms to block my face. Some of them even managed to pierce my skin, making me look like a pincushion.

“Gah, how annoying…”

I muttered as I shook away the spikes embedded in my arms. The ones that remained in my body quickly shattered, dissipating into the air.

And then, suddenly, as though it were in an instant, a brilliantly bright light nearly blinded my vision. Shielding my eyes with my arm, I looked up at the source of that blinding light, and saw Mima’s wings glow a shocking gold color.

“What the…?”

I heard the snap of a finger, and instinctively, I hurried to move out of the way. Shortly after, the golden light of her wings exploded, as a massive surge of energy rocketed towards me with the momentum of a flash of lightning. Panicking, I held out a hand towards it, and time seemed to slow down as I tried to focus on manipulating the distance between the spark and me. Speeding up as fast as I could, I managed to put enough distance between us to just barely manage to dodge.

The tremendous burst of power flew into the night’s horizon. I looked back at Mima, with what I think might have been a genuine look of fear. Just what was that? If that had hit me, I’d have been in pieces for sure.

“You…”

I growled, gritting my teeth as her wings began glowing with golden light once more. Ugh, no way, she’s going to throw out another one again? There was no way I was going to get even near one of those.

As yet another ridiculously huge blast of energy headed towards me, I quickly darted out of the way. Ugh, that was a seriously risky situation. The size of the blast was freakin’ huge, man. Big enough to easily level a buildi- no, a skyscraper. Not to mention the collateral damage from the dodged blasts. If any of them hit a human before their time was up, I’d be in serious trouble for affecting the lives of humans.

“Whoa, hey!”

I yelled at her as I narrowly dodged a third blast. Damn it, wasn’t she ever going to get tired of spewing those blasts out?

“Do you seriously think this is fucking fair?!”

I protested, flying out of the way of a fourth spark. This was ridiculous! I couldn’t even get near her like this, and there was no way I was going to try to tank a blast of that magnitude.

“Don’t care! Hurry up and get hit~! ♥”

Freaking whore.

Tch. If that was how it was going to be… then to Hell with being cautious. It wasn’t like she could kill me anyway. So I decided it would be just fine to rush in like a goddamn retard.

So as soon as I saw her charging up her next attack, I charged forward, yelling like a damned fool. I think I saw a mocking smile on her face as she snapped her fingers, and a blinding golden light overtook my vision. I struck out with my scythe as the ominous glow drowned out my body, and felt it make impact with the blast.

My body was being cut up. I knew it from the moment I touched the blast. It was ripping away at my skin. My arms shook as I struggled to keep my scythe in front of me. Even if my arms were torn apart, I wouldn’t let go of it. The pain was maddening. Every ounce of my body seemed to scream at me in protest. I’d forgotten what it was like to get as close to death as you could without being able to die.

It sucks.

Why was I trying so hard, anyway? At any moment, I could have just ditched the spirit and gone back. No one would blame me for being unable to take her in, especially with that giant freakin’ laser at her disposal. It wasn’t like I liked doing extra work anyway. I hate when I have to exert any more energy than I need to.

Was it because I liked to fight? Nah, not really. I wasn’t sure why. But I guess back then, it didn’t matter. Because right then and there, I felt the euphoria of near-death and the rush of a desire to kill that woman. I was crazed with it. I wanted nothing more than to behead her with my scythe, and that’s why I held onto it so preciously.

The rush of energy passed, and as far as I could tell, I was still conscious enough to keep moving. I couldn’t feel my left arm, but that didn’t matter, because I knew my right hand was still holding my scythe. No longer blinded, I shot up. Mima entered my vision. She looked absolutely shocked as I emerged from her attack.

“How did you-?!”

I swung the scythe at her. With a splat, the tip of the scythe stabbed through her stomach and emerged from the other side. Blood seeped into her clothes. With a jerk, I ripped the scythe out from her, and let her fall to the ground once more. Her majestic wings faded into the darkness of the night as she fell.

I looked down at my body, and immediately wished I hadn’t. The left side of my body was almost completely demolished. The blast had taken my left arm, shoulder, part of my torso and leg. In my wounds, I didn’t see blood or bones, but nothingness. A black void, as though I were made of the stuff. An eerie sort of black smoke gushed out from the missing parts of my body. I hated it. I looked so inhuman like this.

Snapping out of it, I descended down to the ground, where Mima had fallen. She was hunched up on the ground, having sunken to her knees while grabbing her torso. She really wasn’t faking it this time. As I stepped closer to her, she looked at me with a hateful yet defiant sort of gaze, as though daring me to finish her off. Looking at her like this, I felt a rare moment of pity for her. So strong, so proud, and now she was at my mercy.

“H-hurry up. I-I'll just e-escape again...”

She provoked me in between heavy gasps for breath. She looked so defenseless right now. My expression was completely blank as I lowered my scythe, placing the curved blade just behind her neck.

"D-do it."

“You don’t need to tell me that.”

[ ] Finish her.
[ ] Hesitate.
>> No. 18893
[ ] Finish her.
>> No. 18894
[X] Finish her.
>> No. 18897
[X] Finish her.

If she escapes again and goes back to normal life, well next time we won't go through all that trouble. That and at least we won't have to deal with Reimu's possible wrath (if Mima really was disliked by Reimu, she'd have been sent back to hell by Reimu herself)
>> No. 18900
[x] Finish her.
>> No. 18905
[X] Finish her.

Sho-tality
>> No. 18906
[X] Let her go.
>> No. 18907
>>18906
A hitman for hell? An inhuman killing machine? This is not who we are, or who we want to be. But if we kill her, it is what we will become. We've showed her that we're stronger than her. That's enough...for now.

Now, once my arm regrows, I'm getting a beer. The boss'll probably yell at us tomorrow, but it's not like she expected us to succeed. In any case, we're used to getting yelled at.
>> No. 18908
[X] Finish her.
>> No. 18909
>>18907

If we were just going to let her go, then why the hell would we have gone through all the trouble of fighting her? Why'd we even get up then she stabbed us?
>> No. 18912
>>18909
Simple: Because we were told we couldn't beat her.
>> No. 18913
>>18912

That's fucking retarded and childish.
>> No. 18914
We might get more interesting jobs, too.
>> No. 18915
>>18913
which is a description of sho that I would call accurate.
>> No. 18916
[O] Finish her.
>> No. 18917
[X] Let her go.
>> No. 18919
I change my vote to this:

[x] Let her go, I won, clear and simple. And to be honest she's not that bad of a evil spirit... I did start it. And if she acts up; well I won't be so nice next time. Now it's time to heal up and grab a beer. I wonder how Komachi'd like the story, since I wanted to at least get a tale of a heroic struggle.
>> No. 18922
[X] Let her go.
>> No. 18923
[x] Finish her.

Do your job Sho
>> No. 18924
[X]Let her go.

I see no particular reason to finish her.
>> No. 18926
Sho's gotta do his job, bringing a wayward spirit back to hell so it can go back to the cycle is on the job description, he's not being a hitman, he's just doing as a reaper does.
>> No. 18927
>>18919
Seconded.
>> No. 18928
[x] Finish her.
>> No. 18934
>>18926

This was more of a bonus case that Sho took for the challenge. Since Siki said that Mima hasn't started any major trouble so it's low priority.
>> No. 18935
[X] Hesitate.
>> No. 18939
[X] Finish her.
>> No. 18940
[X] Hesitate.
Because worthy opponents with good thrash talk are hard to come by.
>> No. 18941
[X] Hesitate.

Mima ;_;
>> No. 18942
[X] Finish her.
>> No. 18945
[X] Hesitate.
>> No. 18946
[X]Let her go.
>> No. 19039
bumping for update.
>> No. 19040
Will get on it. Sorry about that.
>> No. 19041
>>19040
's fine, I just wanted to make sure you knew you still had readers.
>> No. 19042
[X]Let her go.
>> No. 19045
============

I tightened my grip on the shaft of my scythe, my hand moist with the sweat of my palm. The defeated spirit waited for the end, hanging her head low as I slowly drew back the scythe’s blade. It stopped just as edge of the blade touched the back of her long, dark green hair. I could feel her give a slight shudder. She was afraid. She was definitely afraid.

Silently, I shook distracting thoughts away, taking a deep breath. Why did I feel sorry for her then, I wonder. All I was doing was severing the connection she had reestablished with the world of the living. Yet, looking at her face, her eyes shut tight in preparation for what was to come, my heart sank.

For a moment, I saw another face, smiling through a bloodied mouth. My arm began shaking. I couldn’t hold my scythe straight. That was weird. I didn’t even feel anything when I killed humans in the outside world. I thought I grew past that. But, why was I hesitating from finishing off an escaped soul?

My moment of indecisiveness was quickly taken advantage of. As I slowly lowered my scythe-arm (which was, at that point, my only arm), Mima quickly opened her eyes and seized her chance.

“Fool!”

With that cry, her body phased into the ground, and disappeared from my sight. If I wanted, I could have given chase. No one can escape a shinigami. It’s simply impossible. You can repel one, but you can never run from them. But I just stood there, still dumbly staring at where she had been just a moment ago.

In frustration, I tossed my scythe to the ground. Grimacing, I looked down at my body. Left arm completely missing, part of my torso carved out, a good chunk of my leg was completely fried as well. I should have just gutted her, I thought. I was pretty angry at myself that time. It might’ve been from the blinding pain that comes with getting half of your body blown off by a blast of magic.

Yeah, that was probably it. Seriously, that hurt like a bitch, and it kept hurting like a bitch even after the wounds closed up and started healing oh so slowly. It was probably the biggest injury I’d ever suffered in that century. I mean, sure I did get a sword or two through the sides when I battled that old man (and what a fight that was, I might add), but that wasn’t nearly as bad.

Sighing, I pointed my one remaining hand at my scythe, now lying on the ground. Using my manipulation of distance, I pulled the scythe towards me, and caught it in my hand. Right, it was time to go report my “failure” to the boss.

---

Before I headed back to Hell, I decided to visit the river to see if that slacker of a co-worker was still around. Not surprisingly, I found her lazing around in her little boat, floating at the edge of the river.

“You’re still out here?”

I asked as I approached her. There was a sake bottle at her side, and in the moonlight, I could see that her cheeks were flushed. Looks like she was drinking while watching what little of the moon you could see in the fog.

“Huh? Oh, hey there.”

She greeted me hazily, squinting to see me clearly in the darkness.

“Huh. Did you get hurt or somethin’?”

“What tipped you off, the cuts on my face, the hole in my chest, or the fact that I’m missing an arm?”

“Oh, just assumed it was another one of your stylistic changes.”

“Very funny.”

She giggled as she sat up, uncorking her bottle and taking a quick swig from it as I sat down on the boat next to her.

“What were ya doing to get yourself so messed up, anyway?”

“An assignment.”

“Huh? But it’s way past your shift, ain’t it? Why were you still working?”

“Just thought I’d work overtime, that’s all.”

“Ehh, so hard working, ain’t ya? You’ll make me look bad if you work so diligently, y’know.”

“Ho, maybe if I do that, the boss will finally make you pick up the pace.”

“Ahhh, don’t do that! I like working at my own pace, okay! My pace, my pace!”

She sounded panicked, her face glowing redder than before. I let out a snicker as I watched her rise up and settle back down.

“Alright, alright, I won’t do that.”

“… Shake on it?”

“Sure.”

She reached out with her left hand, offering it to me for a handshake. Narrowing my eyes, I glared at it.

“That’s a low blow.”

I said, and it was then her turn to snicker as she withdrew her hand and gave me her right instead.

“Sorry, sorry, I forgot.”

She said playfully.

“You did that on purpose and you know it.”

Still, I grudgingly took her hand and shook it.

---

Some minutes later, I was standing in front of the door to the boss’s office. Bracing myself, I gave it a little knock.

“Yes, come in.”

Pushing the wide doors open, I stepped inside the room. The boss was seated at her desk, as I was accustomed to seeing her by then. As I entered, she silently took off her spectacles, cleaned the lenses with a rag, and gave me once-over. She didn’t look shocked at all, even as I plopped down in a chair in front of her.

“So you’ve failed, then.”

She said frankly.

“Yup.”

“Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.”

She continued, placing her spectacles back on.

“Well, since you know now…”

I hastily started, wanting to leave as soon as possible. Unfortunately, she caught my intention pretty quickly and stopped me with a single word.

“Wait.”

I sank back into my chair.

“I won’t admonish you for failing to retrieve the escaped soul, but…”

Her eyes narrowed, and her tone became sharper, as if she was ticked off at me about something.

“I hope you will learn to listen to people carefully before you take off to do whatever you want. Leaving the way you did was not only foolish, but it was also very disrespectful. When someone is telling you something, it’s only polite to respect them and listen to what they have to…”

Oh boy, I thought. This had better not take too long.



“… and when he chose not to listen, and instead went about his usual ways, he…”

I looked up at the clock. Thirty minutes and counting. I just barely resisted the urge to scream curses at the top of my lungs.

“Hey! Are you paying attention?!”

“Yeah, sorry boss, but the fact that almost half of my body is missing has been a little distracting for a while now.”

I said, more than a little frustrated at this point.

The boss let out an “Oh!” as she looked at my injuries as though it was the first time she saw them. Her cheeks flustered a little, although she still put up a dignified front.

“R-right. You’re dismissed. Rest easy.”

She added, looking at the missing chunks of my body with some concern. Sighing again, I got up from my seat, waved goodbye to the boss, and headed out into the hallway, shutting the door behind me.

---

Reaching my mess off a room, I kicked the door open and tossed my scythe to the ground, making my way to my bed and falling onto its soft mattress. I felt really tired, and not just physically, either. I felt completely drained.

My body would heal up by next morning, so it wasn’t like I was worried about that. It was just that… seeing a part of my body blown up like that, and the inhuman, bloodless way that my wounds closed up. That shook me, I guess. Why did that affect me so much? I really didn’t know then.

I felt like I was a monster, I think.

Back then, what did I think of humans…?

[ ] Humans are weak and pathetic. For all their achievements in life, all of them would eventually fall prey to death. Their lives are miserable and meaningless.
[ ] Humans are resourceful. Despite their limited time and power, they continue to advance. I… admired the fullness of their lives.
>> No. 19046
[x] Humans are resourceful. Despite their limited time and power, they continue to advance. I… admired the fullness of their lives.
>> No. 19047
[x] Humans are resourceful. Despite their limited time and power, they continue to advance. I… admired the fullness of their lives.
>> No. 19048
[x] Humans are resourceful. Despite their limited time and power, they continue to advance. I… admired the fullness of their lives.

there's no other answer, since this is basically his opinion of humans and why they interest him.
>> No. 19049
[X] Humans are weak and pathetic. For all their achievements in life, all of them would eventually fall prey to death. Their lives are miserable and meaningless.
[X] Humans are resourceful. Despite their limited time and power, they continue to advance. I… admired the fullness of their lives.

Really, is there any other correct answer than both?
>> No. 19050
>>19049

well, or neither, or either, or...maybe I should have been a philosophy major...
>> No. 19051
>>I mean, sure I did get a sword or two through the sides when I battled that old man (and what a fight that was, I might add)

Fuck you, too.
>> No. 19052
[ze] Humans are a resourceful mess.

Welcome back, Cantus. I liked this update, too.
>> No. 19053
>>19051
I'm sure we'll hear about it later...right?...right?
>> No. 19058
[B] Humans are resourceful. Despite their limited time and power, they continue to advance. I… admired the fullness of their lives.
>> No. 19077
[x] Humans are a miserable little pile of secrets.
>> No. 19088
[x] Humans are a miserable little pile of secrets.
>> No. 19094
>>19077
>>19088

When did Sho become Dracula?
>> No. 19097
[x] Humans are a miserable little pile of secrets.
>> No. 19107
Tweaking the format just a little bit.
============

I admired them.

They were weaker than us. They lived, and they died. But even so, I respected them. Their powers and lifespan were so limited, and yet they continued to advance forward as a race. That was something the youkai, with all of their immense powers and longevity, were unable to do. That’s why they had no place in the world of humans anymore.

That’s why I hated Gensokyo. It was a world where change had stopped, where humans had become stagnant. Or, at least, that’s what I thought of it. I realize now that it was narrow-minded of me to assume such a thing, that there are other ways that humans can develop other than in technology.

But, at that moment, I hated it. I didn’t think I would ever be able to get used to such a situation. Probably, I was just angry. I was truly angry for the first time in hundreds of years. Angry at the sudden change in my position. Angry at the state of the new world I was assigned to. Angry that a crack had appeared in the image I was forcing myself to hold.

I shut my eyes tightly, and carried myself off to a sleep that was neither restful nor necessary.

------------

”YOU’RE FINISHED!”

With a single arm, I swung my scythe at the old man. He countered the blow with a single swing from one of his swords, repelling me back with a loud, metallic clank. His counter attack sent me reeling back, and I struggled to regain my footing on the ground.

Continuing my assault, I ran towards the old man, and swung my scythe at him again. With expert precision, the old man blocked the strike using the shorter blade, and retaliated with the other, jabbing its end towards me. Just barely, I managed to keep it from skewering my face, tilting my head out of the way. Drawing back, scythe and blade met again.

“Powerful, but only in brute strength,” said the old man, holding back my assault using both of his swords. “And with only that, you cannot hope to defeat one who has devoted their life to the practice of Enlightenment, assassin of Hell!”

“Shut up!” I spat as I whirled my body about, trying to catch him by surprise from behind. He saw the attack coming, though, and he quickly stepped out of the way. “If you can afford to talk, then focus on the battle, old man!”

“There’s no need for that,” he smiled, blocking yet another attack, catching the rod of the scythe using his to blades and driving its tip into the ground. “My full attention is to be reserved for a worthy opponent.”

“Wha-?!” I started angrily, tugging on the handle of the scythe to pull it out of the ground. “Don’t screw arou-! Urk!?”

The old man’s blade shot out towards me with incredible speed. Before I could do anything about it, the sharp point penetrated my throat, stabbing all the way through to the back of my neck. As quickly as it had gone in, it retreated a moment after.

“Urgh…koff kggh…!” I wheezed, clutching at my neck with my free hand.

That accursed old man watched me calmly as I staggered back, coughing my head off. His swords were pointed at the ground. If he wanted, he could have finished me off while I was still in shock, but instead he chose to speak to me.

“Do you wish to know why you cannot win?” he asked me. I gave no answer, my hand still massaging the bloodless wound on my throat as I tried to regain my balance, using my scythe as a support. “There are three reasons.”

“Damn you…!” I yelled angrily, having already recovered my speaking skills, at the least. “Looking down on me!”

“The first,” he continued on unfazed as I lashed out violently, swinging around that wicked sickle with greater fervor than before. “You lack form,” he quickly maneuvered his blades, shuffling back as he easily continued to defend against my advance. “You attack wildly and without precision, no better than a madman.”

Another missed swing sent my scythe into the ground. Rather than stab me in the throat again, the old man just kept flapping his yap.

“Your footwork is sloppy and wasteful. You swing a scythe, an already impractical weapon, with one hand, when it’s meant to be used with two.”

“I said shut up!” I said, bringing my scythe down overhead with both hands this time.

He caught the snath of the scythe in between his blades, like a pair of scissors. Before I could react, he ran the two blades down the length of the shaft, and stabbed each tip of the swords into my shoulders.

“Hggh!” I hissed, retreating back. Why… why can’t I even touch him?! I cursed. Frustrated, I tossed the scythe up into the air, snatching it by the chain instead. Spinning it rapidly, I threw the spinning blade at the old man.

“The second,” he began again, still composed. “The kusarigama was not meant to be used with a sickle of such size!” Sheathing one of his swords, he waited as the blade continued to fly at him. Reaching forward with his freed hand, he easily snatched the scythe out of the air. “Nor was it meant to be used in this way!” he yelled scornfully, yanking back on the scythe.

Caught by surprise, I was dragged forward by the chain into the dirt, scraping my face against the ground. Hurriedly, I scrambled to my feet, still clutching on to the chain of my scythe. The old man was still holding my scythe in hand. Alright, then, I figured I’d surprise him by quickly closing distance with my power. I began to concentrate…

“And the third reason,” he said as I concentrated on invoking the power to manipulate distance. “You leave your back unguarded.”

I felt cold metal stabbing through my back. With a sickening splat, a blade stained with black blood emerged from my abdomen.

“W-what the-!?” I stared in disbelief. I turned my head to look behind me. Standing there was the old man’s ghost-half, which I had thought had been incapacitated earlier.

And then I felt another sword stabbing into me, this time from the front. Turning again, I saw the old man standing there, having closed the distance between us within only, at most, two seconds. His sword was plunged into my side, and emerged out the other.

“Y-you…!” I spat hatefully, unable to move. My grasp on the chain loosened, until it fell to the ground. The scythe itself was lying uselessly on the ground, several meters away from me, where the old man had abandoned it.

“One of the oldest of the shinigami?” he started with a grave voice. “Do you think me ignorant of the shinigami of old? They are nothing like you. They are not as saddled with blinding human emotions as you are,” saying this, he unsheathed his second sword, and after a moment of deliberation, stuck that in my other side.

“Aagh!”

“You are a boastful fool and a liar,” said he. “More human than a death god.”

My hands twitched. I ground my teeth together. How dare he? I thought. “Y-you…. You you you you you!” I raved, screaming as I lifted up my right arm and punched the man as hard as I could in the face.

The old man stood there and took the hit. His nose began bleeding, but his expression did not change.

Instead, he just remained silent as I mustered up enough strength to punch him again, with the same hand. But… before my fist could hit him again, it dropped from the air, to my side.

“D-don’t call me human… you asshole…” I panted.

He merely gripped the hilts of his swords, still embedded in my body, and pulled them out roughly.

I feel to my knees, doubling over in pain. I hadn’t been cut by a blade recently, and so the wounds felt incredibly painful. So painful that I thought I was going to pass out. But I remained conscious enough to hear the last things the old man said to me as he sheathed his blades, turning his back to me.

“Don’t get up,” he commanded. “Stay there, and reflect on your failure. Perhaps if we should meet again, in another hundred years, maybe, you will have learned enough to drag me to Hell,” saying that, he began walking away, his constant ghost companion accompanying him in its usual formless appearance.

“H-hey… where do you… where do you think you’re going?!” I yelled after him. “Get…get back here! Damn you…!”

… I lost that one.

------

The morning after that whole evil spirit thing was one of the worst mornings I had. Well, it felt like it, anyway. My whole body felt sore, to say nothing about the parts that had just healed overnight. Well, at least I had my arm back now. I was glad about that, at least.

Since we reapers don’t exactly have a real physical body, we can never suffer permanent damage to ourselves. Like youkai, our body regenerates itself when it sustains a massive amount of damage. Even if we’re blown to bits or completely obliterated, we’d be back in working condition after a day or so. One of the benefits that comes with the job, I suppose, though “dying” still hurts like you wouldn’t believe.

I still had a few hours left before my shift. I supposed it was enough time to go find something interesting to do.

[] I went on a morning stroll in the happy (read: desolate) roads of Hell, making sure everything’s normal (people being tormented and all that.)
[] I went up to the surface.
>> No. 19110
[] I went up to the surface.
>> No. 19111
[B] I went up to the surface.
>> No. 19112
[] I went up to the surface.
>> No. 19113
>>19107
...I liked this update. It lets me know you really have been on the same page as all of us from the beginning.
>> No. 19115
[x] I went up to the surface.

Did we get around to telling Komachi about our battle with Mima?

That and some people were assuming Sho actually took down Youki (and weren't happy about it), but got pwned on both physical and verbal fronts.
>> No. 19117
>>19113

This.
>> No. 19123
[X] I went up to the surface.

Youki's words makes me wonder what Sho was like in the olden days.
>> No. 19127
[X] I went up to the surface.

really no decision to make here. only voting to show support.
>> No. 19141
We can always go back and re-take Mima. We just let her go. We can regenerate much faster than she can. Besides, we know where she lives, not to mention that her ego took quite the hit.

Also, the Mima-fags wanted her to stay.
>> No. 19143
>>19141
Somehow I think she will wind up being "the one that got away." Noone except for her and sho will actually believe he beat her.
>> No. 19144
>>19143

I guess we didn't get around to telling Komachi our tale, since I figured that was one of the reasons why we went so far in fighting her, a memorable tale.
>> No. 19145
We're still gonna have to go back for her. You don't get efficient at a job by leaving it unfinished.

Unless the Mima-fags invade again.
>> No. 19147
>>19145
Sho took on that job more for kicks than anything else.

As far as normal day to day functions he does very well enough.
>> No. 19149
>>19147

It's still an unfinished job.
Besides, we reap Mima, we get to see her more often in Hell. Think about it.

Besides, if Anon complains to much about Mima being in Hell, Cantus can just have her escape again.
>> No. 19151
>>19149

I doubt it since she'd be in Hell-Hell, not the town area of Higan (what most fans call the area with the yamas and such)

That and her busting out of hell would result in a lot more trouble than just leaving her be.
>> No. 19156
>>19151
All hell would break lose, and we'd have one hell of a time catching her again. Hell, even if we did we probably wouldn't know where the hell to put her since she'd just break the hell out of hell again.
>> No. 19168
>>19151
But at that point, it won't be our problem. Besides, weren't there some souls in Higan? We can set her up in Hells version of McDonalds.

>>19156
Hell is a hell of a lot bigger than you think. She just had a hell of a lot of luck with her during that hell of a time with her break out.



Remember, Cantus will only let her escape if we say she should. Or should I say the massive rush of Hima-fags.
>> No. 19183
>>19151
>>19156
>>19168

A hellish amount of hells here.
>> No. 19185
>>19183
Hell ya.

In other news, time for the next update?
>> No. 19260
Wow, I really need to stop procrastinating on this.

Writing now, hopefully I can get back into a regular pace of updating.
>> No. 19262
Bout time.

Human souls don't go around collecting themselves you know.
>> No. 19268
============

I went up to the surface. I was never really a fan of Hell. Not that one, nor any of the ones that preceded it. Some of the punishments there were seriously extreme. Some actually were so extreme that a few of the higher ups complained of cruel and unusual treatment of sinners and instigated a ban on several of the torture devices. That sure got a rowdy response from the hell oni and some of the demons. They can be a sadistic bunch sometimes. I never liked them. They didn’t like me, either. And that was just fine.

Once I was out in the surface, I immediately headed towards the river. Well, it wasn’t like I had anywhere else to go, right? I hardly really knew the lands around here, and I’d only visited the Sanzu River to deposit souls there when I was working outside of the border.

I found her sleeping in her boat at the edge of the river. Did she even go back to Hell last night? Or did she just sleep out here? Well, that didn’t matter to me. I nudged her awake using my foot.

“Huh? Whuzza?” Komachi said blearily, sitting up. “Lemme alone, I wanna sleep,” she said irritably, dropping right back off to sleep.

“Oi, wake up,” I said, ignoring her tired request. I nudged her with my foot again, and she sat up.

“Too early in th’ morning,” she said with a muffled, groggy voice. “Uggh… and my head hurts too. This is gonna be a bad day.” Opening her mouth, she let out a yawn, rubbing her eyes. “So what’s up?” she inquired.

“Nothing, really,” I admitted. “Just thought I’d swing by while waiting for my shift to start.”

“Geeze, was that all?” she said grumpily. “Shoulda just let me sleep.”

“Hey, hey don’t get mad,” I said, snickering. “I’ve got another story for you, after all.”

“Oh?” she voiced her curiosity as she went through a few sitting morning stretches. “Well, I do love a good story. Does it have to do with that secret mission from yesterday?”

“Yup, I guess so.” I replied. “See, the boss called me in earlier that day, and…”



“And that’s when I lost almost half of my body,” I finished, clenching my left hand into a fist in front of me. It still felt incredibly awkward to move my left arm around. Felt stiff and firm, like a pair of jeans you put in the wash.

“That’s another loss, then,” Komachi noted. “Guess Gensokyo has a lot of strong people, huh?”

“Yeah, I never would have expected so much resistance from a bunch of hicks,” I said, massaging the back of my neck. “Guess it’s not surprising, though, considering the history of this place.”

“I think you should give the people here more credit,” she said suddenly, surprising me. “I don’t know much about the outside world, either, but the people here have been developing too, in their own way. They’d have to, to survive in a youkai’s world like this.”

“… I guess.”

I wonder if she was trying to tell me something then. I think she was defending the humans of Gensokyo. That’s probably it. I didn’t really put in a whole lot of thought there though. Too busy being bitter. I’m a little pigheaded that way.

I had hardly sat down in her boat when my cell phone suddenly started ringing. A dispatch had come in, announcing the beginning of my work shift, and I quickly stood back up. Sliding the thing out of my pocket, I casually flipped it open.

“Is that how you receive your work?” Komachi asked me, looking greatly interested by my cell phone.

“Yeah,” I said as I checked out the details of the next target.

“That’s a funny device. Most reaper shinigami here still use scrolls to receive messages.”

“I’m the wave of the future,” I said without paying attention. “Well then, I’ll be off. See ya after work, I guess.”

“Well, I’ll still be working when you’re done,” Komachi laughed.

Giving her a goodbye salute, I ran my fingers through my hair, styling it back as I flew up into the air, heading towards the target the dispatch had specified. My next target was…

[ ] A rich old man.
[ ] The mysterious owner of a ruined mansion.
[ ] A small, poverty-stricken child.
>> No. 19269
[ ] A small, poverty-stricken child.
>> No. 19271
[X] A small, poverty-stricken child.
>> No. 19292
[X] A small, poverty-stricken child.
>> No. 19297
[x] The mysterious owner of a ruined mansion.
>> No. 19301
[ ] A rich old man.
>> No. 19316
[x] A rich old man.

An interesting lesson; that and we need a break from getting worked over by Touhou's mythical figures.
>> No. 19326
[X] A rich old man.
>> No. 19346
[ℤℯ] The mysterious owner of a ruined mansion.

Oh shit, it's Count Prismriver . Or Layla.
>> No. 19350
[X] A small, poverty-stricken child.
>> No. 19466
============

Yeah, that’s right. My next target was just a small child. Inwardly, I cursed my misfortune. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not particularly fond of kids or anything like that. It’s just that any business with them was just so unnecessarily troublesome and a huge hassle. Like I said before, I hate exerting any more effort than I have to, and with children… well…

I touched down on the roof of a small, shabby shack on the outskirts of the human village. Gently, I slipped through the surface with a sinking sensation in my stomach. You know, I’ve experienced it for a long, long time now, but I can never get used to seeing a part of my body phase through solid objects. Shaking off the unpleasant feeling, I descended down to the floor of the dirty house.

I found my target clinging tightly to his mother, his face buried in her bosom. The two of them were slumbering. It was still very early in the morning, after all. They shook and huddled close, suffering from the cold air. My feet glided across the floor as I approached the two of them. I reached out my hand and placed it on the head of the boy; he stirred a bit, but he didn’t wake.

Moving my hand a bit further down, I felt his ice-cold cheek with a single finger. Not long for the world, I thought. Withdrawing my hand, I stood back and watched them sleep. They were spending the last of their few minutes together, though neither of them was aware that death was so close.

With an empty, detached demeanor, I counted down to the last seconds of the boy’s life, watching him with my eyes. The boy continued to sleep, so peacefully that I wouldn’t have been able to tell that he was about to die, if it weren’t for my eyes.

Sighing, I stepped forward with scythe in hand. It was time. I reached out once more, and prepared to harvest the boy’s soul.

---

The minds of children are so simple, so malleable, I observed as I wearily strolled through a featureless land. At my will, the sky changed colors, and grass withered or grew. Children are impressionable, after all, and this world reflected that. The child was too young. Not old enough to know what he himself was like or wanted.

The world soon became foggy as I walked on further. Fog is good. It has this chilling effect on people, to see a figure walking towards you from the distance, and yet not being able to discern the nature of that figure. It shakes them up, and makes the cracks of their heart easier to exploit and control.

I saw the boy before he saw me. Scared little thing he was, wandering around in the dense fog, looking around frightfully. Reaching a little further into the mind of the boy, I assumed a disguise.

“I’ve come to pick you up,” I called out to the boy in a voice unfamiliar to me. Presumably, it was the voice of the boy’s father, probably deceased or missing or otherwise unavailable normally. For the most part, that approach is useful in getting a soul to come with you quietly, though I never did like deceiving souls like that.

The boy ran to me joyfully, calling me a name I didn’t know. I smiled, and picked him up in my arms. “Listen,” I said, still in that disguise. “Do you want to go on a trip somewhere?”

“A trip?” the boy asked me quizzically.

Still with that false, warm smile on my face, I began to answer. “Yes, it is a wonderful place. There is a beautiful garden, and many people living there happily,” I said. “There is a feast everyday, and everyone is invited. Would you like to go there?”

The boy nodded, but looked hesitant. “Can mama come?” he asked innocently, though he was giving me a reason to curse right now.

“No,” I answered calmly. “Your mother can’t come with us.”

“Why not?”

“She just can’t,” I said simply. “… Let’s go.”

The boy raised no more further objects as I began to carry him away. Well, that went better than I thought it would, I reflected. No hassle, no mess. Maybe this wasn’t going to be such a bad day after all.

“Yuuta!” a woman’s voice quickly dashed that hope.

Turning around, I saw the boy’s mother running after me. I shed my disguise. There was no need for it now. The woman looked at the child in my arms, and then at the scythe that leaned so casually against one of my shoulders. She was quick to understand, because she instantly threw herself to her knees, groveling before me.

“No! Please, don’t take him from me!” she begged tearfully at my feet, grabbing a fistful of my cloak. “Please, he’s only a child!”

The boy in my arms struggled for a little bit, staring at his mother, but stayed quiet, uncomprehending. Of course, the child had no idea what was going on. Too young to understand what death meant, or that I was bringing it to him.

As for me, I just stood there, looking down at the woman in silence as I watched her tug on the hem of my cloak, sobbing like a madwoman. All I could think of was how annoying this situation was. I hate to say anything like “their hearts are connected” or something cheesy like that, but that’s probably the best way to put it. Sometimes, living relatives or friends are so close that they may witness the moment the reaper comes to take the other away. It’s rare, but it’s so much of a hassle when it does happen. There are probably more than a few soft-hearted shinigami who had a change of heart from the experience and extended the life of the was-to-be deceased.

“Please, take my life instead! Just spare him!” the woman continued to beg.

Now that ticked me off. Whatever did that woman plan to do by dying in her son’s place? If she were dead, then who would take care of her child? Certainly not her missing husband. Such an irresponsible and careless thought. A stupid sacrifice like that is worthless.

Not only that, but she was being selfish, as all humans are. A small change in the lifespan of humans… even a child like this one, could have unimaginable consequences on the lives of others. If I were to extend the life of this child, then a recalculation of his lifespan would be in order, and then a recalculation of all the lives that this child would touch in that extended life is necessary. And with a recalculation of those lives, further recalculation would be needed for the lives they would affect!

But I suppose for humans, it’s not their failing. They have the excuse of ignorance, after all. They can’t see human lives on the level that we can, they have no idea that even the smallest change can affect millions of lives, like a single drop of water creating a ripple in a lake.

So there I stood, still watching the woman cry her heart out as I held the child in my arms. I decided to…

[ ] Kick the woman aside and be on my way.
[ ] Strike a bargain.
>> No. 19468
[X] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[X]However...
[X]If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.

This way, we don't create extra paperwork, yet we don't come off as a bastard.
>> No. 19474
[X] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[X]However...
[X]If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.
>> No. 19476
[X] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[X]However...
[X]If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.
>> No. 19481
[X] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[X]However...
[X]If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.
>> No. 19487
[X] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[X]However...
[X]If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.

This is good.
>> No. 19488
[X] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[X]However...
[X]If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.
>> No. 19494
[~] If I were to take you, then who would look after your child then? It is his time to go, not yours. You still have the rest of your life to live. You'll be able to see him when your time comes.
[ℤ] However...
[ℯ] If you commit suicide, then I can assure you that you will never see him ever again. Ever.

"LIVE FULLY AND WITHOUT REGRET, FAGGOT."
>> No. 19514
[X] Turn and be on my way.

no need to be a jerk about it, but one must do one's job.
>> No. 19673
============

I decided to tell her what’s what. To be honest, I thought it was way too early in the morning for all that, but I figured I’d be a little nice, sorta. Still wasn’t going to let the kid go, though. Well, I didn’t kick her in the face to get her off. That was kind of nice of me, wasn’t it?

Well, no, not really, I suppose. I guess even though I did think kids are annoying little pipsqueaks and all that, I couldn’t really bring myself to act like a jackass in front of one that was about to die.

“Ah geeze…” I said, rubbing the back of my neck. “Look, you know, if I were to take you instead, who’d take care of your child? You should think things over before you lay down your life like that.”

The woman was still bawling incomprehensively, grasping even tighter onto the hem of my cloak. I really wished she’d let go, because by then I’d ruined enough of those cloaks for a year, and I was afraid she’d end up ripping it.

“Besides, it’s his time, not yours,” I continued. “I can’t just take whoever I like, you know. You’ll see him again when it’s your time to go.”

“No—please, please don’t take him!” she cries. “Please, then, let me come with him.”

“You’ll never get to see him again if you throw away your life like that,” I said, sighing. “Look, you know, you’re petitioning to the wrong person here. I’m just doing my job, so stop making it so difficult for me. He’ll be fine in the Netherworld. I’ve heard it’s a nice place, better than anything this piss poor world can give him—so let go, already.”

“A job!” the woman says indignantly through her tears. “How can you… how can you treat the life of a child like that?!”

“Look, lady, I’m not here to argue values with you,” I said, getting irritated. “I just wanted this to go quickly and smoothly, and you’ve already gone and ruined my day.” I took advantage of a temporary loosening of her fingers to tug my cloak away from her.

She fumbled forward to try to grab on again, but I had already turned to briskly walk away. I heard her quickly shuffling to her feet, attempting to gave chase. I didn’t even look back. After all, just as how you can’t run away from a shinigami, you can’t catch up to one if they don’t want to be caught.

“Bye-bye, mama!” the child who had remained silent for so long in my arms yelled behind me, waving his little arm.



Back in the poor residence of my target, I beheld the boy’s soul in my hand. Satisfied, although I had a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, I began to step towards the exit. Somewhere behind me, I knew that the mother was waking up, and as I phased through the door and headed outside, I heard a woman’s anguished scream.

---

“I wonder what it’s like to have parents,” I wondered aloud, relaxing with my back against the hull of a cheap wooden rowboat. “Pass the bottle here, would you?”

“Where did that come from?” Komachi asked me, tossing a bottle my way. Some of the liquid inside splashed and fell to the ground.

“Ah, hey, don’t throw it. It’ll spill,” I complained as I caught the bottle in hand, pouring out some of the sake inside to fill my dish. I downed it in a single go.

“Geeze, you’re surprisingly stingy,” she commented. “And you’re doing it wrong. You gotta let the moonlight reflect off the surface before you drink it. It’s in good health to drink the moon.”

“Heh, as if any moonlight can get through this fog,” I said, looking up at the sky. “And since when do we shinigami have to worry about our health?”

“You shouldn’t neglect it, even if you can’t die,” replied Komachi, wearing a grin.

“… Haha, you’re a strange one, alright.”

“It’s not bad to be strange, is it?”

“… Guess not,” I turned my head towards the river. Swimming around in the still water were small fish, their bodies worn and ruined, as though their flesh were rotting away. “… Children are a pain, y’know?”

“… Yeah, I have trouble trying to get them on the boat,” Komachi said after a moment of contemplation, pointing towards one of the souls around. A small, featureless form of a child was kneeling on the ground, stacking rocks on top of each other. “They don’t even realize they’re dead, and until they do, I can’t get’em across the river.”

“So they cause problems over here, too. Ahahaha…” I laughed dryly, throwing my head back to glance up at the sky again.

“It’s not their fault, though,” she said insightfully, pouring the bottle into her dish to take another swig.

“Nah, I guess it isn’t,” I ran a hand through my hair. “It must all seem so unbelievable to them. It’s a funny thing, ain’t it? They say kids have more imagination than adults, but they can’t wrap their little minds around concepts like death. Well, not that even we can really boast about knowing everything there is to know ‘bout the subject. World’s a complicated place, right?”

“Mmm, whenever it seems that way, I just take a nap to clear my head,” she commented lightly. “You don’t really need to understand all that to enjoy life, do you?”

“… Man, what’s with that carefree attitude?” I scoffed, half-jokingly, half-irritated. “We’re transcendental people, y’know? Shouldn’t we be trying to figure out the higher mysteries of the world or something?”

“If that’s what you wanna do,” she shrugged off the question. “But you should try forgetting about all that for a while, or you’ll turn into a prune like some of the people higher up in the Ministry.”

“Ew, wouldn’t want that to happen to me,” I said, sticking out my tongue. “… Well, maybe I’ll try it your way for a bit. It just irks me to leave questions unanswered, though.”

“Take it easy.”

---

After that, I was back in Hell. Thankfully, I was still in one piece, and managed to avoid getting my cloak all messed up that time. I didn’t even feel too tired, and aside from the little incident in the morning, it was a pretty smooth day of work.

Still, I wasn’t quite used to having so little to do during the day. I could count the number of souls I collected that day on one hand, compared to the dozens to harvest each day in the outside world. You’d think a world populated by man-eating monsters would have more people die in it, but oh well.

Flipping open my cell phone, I checked the time. It was still pretty early, and it’d be a bit of a waste to head to my room when the evening was so young.

[ ] I decided to bother the boss.
[ ] I decided to take a stroll through Hell.
[ ] I went straight to my room.
>> No. 19674
[ ] I decided to bother the boss.
>> No. 19680
[x] I decided to bother the boss.

I wonder what she'd have to say about things.

Still aiming for a Komachi route.
>> No. 19682
[x] I decided to bother the boss.
>> No. 19699
[x] I decided to bother the boss.

bother bother bother
>> No. 19700
[x] I decided to bother the boss.
>> No. 19706
[X] I decided to take a stroll through Hell.

boss = trouble
room = boring

lesser of the evils.
>> No. 20343
File 125810510616.jpg - (35.87KB, 285x610, Update please.jpg) [iqdb]
20343
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