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File 125506810763.jpg - (594.06KB, 780x930, Renko&Mary022.jpg) [iqdb]
19766 No. 19766
"...What about the shrine?" Seeing Renko raise one eyebrow at this, you wave your hands and laugh strangely as you continue. "S-sure, we've been there before, but it's big enough that we might find something new! Right?"

Looking up, Renko shakes her head a little as she considers this option. "I dunno... It could be fun, but I just really don't know. What do you think, Mary?"

Mary, who had been studiously observing the ground for the past minute or so, looks up at the two of you with some level of surprise. Looking back with a little uncertainty, she seems troubled for a moment before speaking her mind.

"I've kind of forgotten just what it's like there, so I wouldn't mind going back. Besides, like Aoi said, we'll probably stumble across something we haven't seen before."

"...Well, I guess that settles it." Mounting her bike, Renko lifts the kickstand with one foot while focusing on clouds in the distance. "Alright, this shouldn't take too long with a shortcut. I'll lead the way."

Getting on your own bike, you follow after Renko as she starts to peddle down the edge of the road, looking ahead with some kind of stoney determination. Mary, late to react, follows a few yards behind you, hurrying to keep up with the rest of the group.

For a short while you merely look ahead, following Renko whenever she takes a turn or speeds up. It occurs to you that time seems to go by quickly when you're focused on something, and, as you have that thought, the realization that Renko is leading you off the usual path hits you like a truck.

"Wait a second!" Coming to a stop, you look around the dirt road and the trees lining it, feeling uncertain about this sudden diversion. "Is this the shortcut you were talking about?"

Bobbing her head once for a 'yes', Renko looks at you with a slightly sweaty face, though not an exhausted one. As Mary comes up from behind, huffing, you look down the road and blink a few times, trying to express your perplexion.

"...How long has this road been here, then?"

"A few weeks. It's pretty convenient, if you need to head down that way. Right?"

You can only nod in reply, albeit uncertainly. Following Renko's lead, you jump back onto your bike and start to make your way down this road, passing a little statue as you do. Looking to your left, you watch as Mary passes you to ride beside Renko, and you copy her, getting on Renko's right. Riding like this, you continue to ride towards the shrine, not wasting any breath on words.

.....

With a reassuring 'click!', Mary locks the device around your bikes. It really is nice that her bike has a place to carry something useful like that. Maybe, just maybe, you should invest in one... If you ever get a chance to, in all this madness.

"Hmm..." Looking at the sky again, Renko seems to be absorbed in thought for a moment. "...Right, only point two miles away from the shrine, now. Just a little climbing and we should be there!"

Suddenly bursting back into life, she charges into the woods, then pokes her head out from behind a tree to look at you and Mary doubtfully. Getting the message, you smirk as you follow after her, finding that you're actually enjoying this outing as friends. Mary follows closely behind the two of you, looking down with a slightly grim expression as she walks along.

"...Hey hey, don't drag behind like that."

Grabbing her arm, Renko pulls her up to walk between the two of you, much to her surprise. Smiling a little, you can understand how she must feel to be the victim of Renko's various schemes and plots. Afterall, you've probably been that same person a large number of times in the past, even though you don't mind now.

Having walked for a short while, you slowly approach the shrine. Decaying in a few places, and a good ways out of the way, it seems to have been untouched by any human hands for a long while. Taking a few steps towards this shrine, you can see that there are a few doors along the edges of the building, and a large set of doors in the center of the building. Glancing over it once more, you turn your attention to Renko for a moment.

"...So, where are we going to start? I think we've been over a good bit of this building in the past, so I doubt we'll find any rooms that we haven't seen before."

"...Well, hmm." Scratching her head, Renko seems to think hard about the decision. "I think the living quarters are towards the back and also along the left wall, and the rooms meant for decoration and festivals are to the right, along with a kitchen and a bathroom. Then the central doors would lead to... Hmm, I forget, now that I think about it."

You start to scratch your head yourself, unsure of where to start in this large shrine. The few options you have aren't that interesting, though you appreciate the fact that all three of you have forgotten a lot about this place.

[ ] Start with the living quarters. If anything, the contents should be interesting.
[ ] Start with the kitchen and that bathroom on the right side. If anything, it's a change of pace.
[ ] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
[ ] The shrine had holes in the attic last time you were here... Maybe, if it has an attic, it could have a basement too?
Expand all images
>> No. 19767
[x] The shrine had holes in the attic last time you were here... Maybe, if it has an attic, it could have a basement too?

I wonder if there's any kind of information down there.
>> No. 19768
[X] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
>> No. 19782
[X] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
>> No. 19802
[ℤℯ] Start with the living quarters. If anything, the contents should be interesting.
>> No. 19806
[x] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
>> No. 19807
[X] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
>> No. 19821
[X] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
>> No. 19823
[x] The large doors seem curious. Why not start there?
>> No. 20039
Man, I've been lazy. I honestly haven't felt like doing much at all lately and have found myself getting busier and busier every day, and by now I just want to stare at the cieling when I have free time. Hopefully I can work out a way to fix my updating problem, but until then, this will be pretty dead.
>> No. 20149
>>20039
Excuses, excuses.

WRITE.
>> No. 20205
[x] The shrine had holes in the attic last time you were here... Maybe, if it has an attic, it could have a basement too?
>> No. 20338
As Mary and Renko look around, still unsure of where to start looking, you sneakily approach the large double doors, tired of standing around and being indecisive. Gingerly, you push one of the two open to peek into the room, and see that it's nothing more than a dusty room with a large donation box in the center. Pulling your phone out, you snap a quick picture before being shoved into the room yourself.

"Ahahaha, that's right! This room's nothing more than a simple little place to put a donation box!"

Spreading her arms out, Renko snaps a picture with her own phone before turning her attention to another door in the room, and dashing through it. Mary follows quickly after her, and you, too, find yourself tagging along in this eccentric game of follow the leader.

Stepping into a bedroom, you take one look around to see that the room only has one entrance, and that Mary and Renko must be blundering about some other part of the shrine. Shrugging to yourself, you take a seat next to the door and take another snapshot of the room. Sighing, your eyes pan around the room and find nothing of interest. This place really must be dry of anything new and interesting.

"...-ome on, this shrine won't clean itself."

Hearing a faint voice in the hallway, you suddenly find yourself on your feet. That voice definitely didn't belong to Renko or Mary, and it's definitely not a voice you're familiar with. Sheepishly, you peek into the hallway to see who owns the voice, but see nobody else. Stepping all the way out, you wait a second and hear nothing else.

Then the voice returns, although only as a very faint mumbling now. Acting quickly, you start to record the sound, the hairs of your neck starting to stand. Swallowing, you listen as the voice fades in and out of focus, "walking" straight towards you. It stops for a moment, before continuing towards and through you, and then down the hall.

Flicking the phone shut, you make a dash down the hall and out of that place to try and find Mary and Renko. After running around for a few moments, you open a door to collide with Renko, who was also running through. Toppling to the floor, you struggle for a moment before standing up and rubbing your head in pain.

"Aaahh... Sorry about that, we were trying to find y-... Aoi?" Looking at you with some level of concern, Renko frowns. "Are you alright? You look a little pale... and like you saw a ghost. Which would be kind of a good thing, I guess."

"What kind of reasoning is that?" Frowning, Mary shakes her head like a school teacher. "We may have come to look for ghosts and things like that, but if one of them scares someone then it isn't good, of course... I mean, it's just... You know, it's kind of..."

Ignoring her, Renko looks you over once or twice before nodding and showing you her phone, with a large grin on her face.

"We kept running around for a few minutes, and I ended up taking a picture of this beauty while we were in the kitchen."

Looking at the photo, you can see some kind of short, red headed person with large horns lying on the floor, clutching a gourd-shaped item to its chest. The thing stranger than the horns is the ghastly presence the person brings, having a sort of translucent texture to their skin.

Checking your own phone, you take a look at the first picture you took to find that it's very similar. Only, a green haired girl in a maid outfit appears to be present in this one. Just like the picture Renko took, the person has the appearance of a ghost while having an air around them that seems very much alive.

"Oh, creepy..." Wiggling her fingers in rapid motions, Renko sticks her tongue out in a gesture towards Mary. "Maybe this shrine was built on a burial ground or something, and the angry ghosts of those buried under this building are going to trap us here and torture us! Ooooh, so creepy!"

"...That sounds like some kind of crappy movie's premise, Renko. Really, do you think that's original at all?"

"Oh, come on. Stop being a wet end, Mary! This is more interesting than anything we've seen in months, and it's in a place we thought was completely dry of anything supernatural! Can't you be excited?"

Turning, Mary harrumphs in response and causes Renko to shake her head in dismay. Grinning slightly, you turn your attention back to the direction you had come from, wondering if that voice belonged to either of the figures in the pictures.

[ ] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?
[ ] This place is a little too weird. It may be a good idea to suggesting getting out of here, ASAP.
[ ] Maybe there is some burial ground or something else like what Renko mentioned. If there is, you all might as well search for it.
>> No. 20339
[ ] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?
>> No. 20341
[X] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?

hooray!
>> No. 20342
[x] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?

Seems the border is weak at the RW Hakurei shrine, and I guess Suika's back in Gensokyo.
>> No. 20344
[x] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?
>> No. 20345
[0] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?
>> No. 20347
[ø] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?

a-an upd-date?
>> No. 20348
[x] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?
>> No. 20382
[x] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?
>> No. 20385
[ ] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?

Hooray indeed!
>> No. 20421
[x] Go back and take pictures of that location. Maybe the figure who was talking will appear in the pictures, too?


Niiice.
>> No. 20527
Update.

please...?
>> No. 20538
Sorry for the lack of updates. My explanation is simply that there was a wedding in my close family, and that it had stolen a lot of my free time. It's done and over with now, though, so I'll be trying to get back into gear and updating a bit more regularly.
>> No. 20541
>>20538

Who got married?
>> No. 20549
>>20541
One of his sisters, I think.
>> No. 20557
File 125990304317.jpg - (96.20KB, 930x618, Night sky.jpg) [iqdb]
20557
>>20549
Youngest one, actually.

******

Taking one look back at the two of them, you shrug before heading back the way you came, curious about the voice you heard in the hallway. Moving slowly, you take in all of your surroundings, just now realizing how the sky is growing dimmer.

As night descends, the shrine appears to take on a more sinister appearance, and it becomes harder to see into the inner rooms. Still moving stealthily, you come back to the place you had just been, and hear nothing for a few moments. Then the opposing door rustles a little, and a footstep or two seem to echo in the darkness.

Pulling out your phone, you snap a quick picture of the other door, then wait a few seconds. After seeing no further activity, you take a look at the photo you had taken, curious to see what you got a picture of.

The first thing that catches your attention is a ghastly shrine maiden, sweeping the floor just a few feet from the camera. Then, as you continue to look at the photo, realization dawns as you see only half of a person's body suspended in the air. With a look of horror entering your eyes, you realize that "Yukari" is in the picture, turned towards the camera at the far end of the room, a slim grin on her lips.

Pocketing your phone, you quickly turn around and run back in the direction you came from, no longer caring about ghost hunting or border finding. Moving quickly, you rush through the room you, Renko, and Mary had been in, seeing that they're no longer there, and make your best attempt at finding the exit. With a cold sweat creeping up, you find the large doors you entered through and burst out of the shrine, rushing over to Renko and Maribel, who had been looking off at the sides of the building.

"Aoi! There you are!" Catching you as you collapse into her arms, Renko chuckles lightly. "We were just trying to spot you from out here. I was just about to yell your name when you flew out those double doors."

Glancing over at Mary, you watch her expression slowly go from being one of confusion and mild annoyance to one of understanding. Standing back up on your own, your attention goes to her as she speaks to Renko.

"Renko, I think we should really leave right now. Looking for spirits in the sun is one thing, but..." Biting her lip, she seems to be trying to think of a way to say things right. "... But, things can become a lot more sinister at night, I suppose."

"...Yeah, you're right. Aoi looks shaken up anyway, so let's get going."

Saying that, Renko turns to face the trail, waving a hand to beckon you and Maribel. Taking a few steps to follow her, you look off into the woods, more than certain that you'll see that evil woman with some sinister demons just a few meters away.

...

Feeling a little more secure from the lights of the streetlamps, you slowly come to a stop in front of the Han mansion. Looking at the tall building, lit up from within, against the black background of the night sky, you can only wonder how the time seemed to go so quickly. Marking it up to one of those strange little incidents in life, you dismount your bike gratefully and make a beeline for the mansion's gate.

After walking through the front yard and putting your bike up in the shed with Renko and Mary's, the three of you go in through the back door, after taking a moment to look at the garden. Taking your shoes off, you follow the two of them towards the kitchen, stopping at the door.

"...I'll make sure they prepare something nice, and that they send it upstairs. Just go to the usual room and I'll meet you there."

Without a word of protest, both you and Renko make your way towards the nearest staircase, ascending to the second floor and then tracking down the "usual room". Finding it, you sit down at the small table while Renko lays down on the floor, looking in your direction. After locating the remote, you turn the TV on and start to look for something mildly interesting.

With a quick glance towards Renko, you can see that her stare is intent, and pointed towards you. Feeling a little flustered, you set the remote down gently and consider what she may be doing.

"...What's up with that look? It's like a kid looking at a shiny new toy, and it's starting to make me feel weird."

"..." Looking up towards you, Renko gives a thumbs-up with her usual mischievous grin on her face. "Panties look great on you!"

After a moment's delay, you blush heavily and bring your legs together, trying to hide the feminine underwear you wore today. Laughing, Renko gets up and sits next to you, wrapping one arm around your shoulder.

"It's only cuter when you make a big deal about it like that! You're already so girly, so wearing something like those should feel almost natural to you, Aoi." Pulling closer towards you, she rubs her cheek against your own while still speaking. "My little boyfriend is becoming a little woman! So cute, so cute!"

Laughing, she shakes you a bit before turning her attention to the television. Smiling awkwardly, you shuffle around before giving her a slight shove, barely giggling as you speak.

"It feels nice, but it'd be easier to handle if you didn't just suddenly molest me with your eyes. I mean, it's kind of nice, but it's also embarrassing and makes my heart race..."

A sly grin spreading on her face once more, she reaches down towards your skirt with a glint in her eyes. "If it isn't alright to molest with my eyes, then maybe we could just molest with our hands later~."

She suddenly stops as the door opens, and Maribel walks in. Sitting on another side of the table, where she can still see the TV and the both of you, she smiles clumsily as she sits down, as if she were a stranger trying to make friends.

"...So, I guess that last little trip was a success and a failure at the same time, huh?" Pulling her phone out, she clicks a few buttons before showing you the screen. "This is the last picture I took, before we took off."

Looking at the phone, you can make out the forms of the shrine maiden and the little horned girl... Suika is her name, right? Behind the two of them, the image of a woman in a purple dress is clearly evident, making moose horns with her hands and giving a mocking gesture with her tongue. You almost laugh, but hold the laughter in as Mary puts her phone away.

[ ] "Yeah, it could've been a little more successful, but I didn't feel like sticking around anymore. Some things I saw shook me up."
[ ] "Yeah... This show is kind of neat, though. Looks like something with a shut-in and a girl he met online."
[ ] "Ahaha... Well, maybe we can go back there some time when things are a little more normal, but I have all the paranormal I can handle now."
>> No. 20558
[x] "Yeah... This show is kind of neat, though. Looks like something with a shut-in and a girl he met online."

I don't think we should mention the matter of Yukari to Mary anytime soon.
>> No. 20559
[x] "Yeah... This show is kind of neat, though. Looks like something with a shut-in and a girl he met online."
>> No. 20560
[x] "Yeah... This show is kind of neat, though. Looks like something with a shut-in and a girl he met online."
>> No. 20561
[X] "Ahaha... Well, maybe we can go back there some time when things are a little more normal, but I have all the paranormal I can handle now."

hooray!
>> No. 20563
[ ] "Yeah... This show is kind of neat, though. Looks like something with a shut-in and a girl he met online."

Densha Otoko?

Also, lovely lewd Renko is lovely and lewd.

>she smiles clumsily as she sits down, as if she were a stranger trying to make friends.
...Awwww... Now I want to hug poor Maribel.
>> No. 20564
[x] "Yeah, it could've been a little more successful, but I didn't feel like sticking around anymore. Some things I saw shook me up."

>>20563

How the hell did you get Densha from that? He wasn't a shut-in and he didn't meet Hermes online.
>> No. 20567
>>20564
I saw bits and pieces of it years ago.
All I could really remember was the massive online group effort to find out more about the teacups. I remember that part was pretty cool.
>> No. 20568
[ø] "Ahaha... Well, maybe we can go back there some time when things are a little more normal, but I have all the paranormal I can handle now."
[ø]Hug Mary

So, what we see at the shrine, is that what is currently happening in Gensokyo?
>> No. 20569
[X] "Ahaha... Well, maybe we can go back there some time when things are a little more normal, but I have all the paranormal I can handle now."

I went what. I love this Renko.
>> No. 20572
>She suddenly stops as the door opens, and Maribel walks in. Sitting on another side of the table, where she can still see the TV and the both of you, she smiles clumsily as she sits down, as if she were a stranger trying to make friends.

This not wanting to punch you thing? It's alright.

>Behind the two of them, the image of a woman in a purple dress is clearly evident, making moose horns with her hands and giving a mocking gesture with her tongue.

There's plenty of places for me to redirect it.

[x] "Ahaha... Well, maybe we can go back there some time when things are a little more normal, but I have all the paranormal I can handle now."
>> No. 20573
Why do I get the feeling the show they're watching is based on DoLF?
>> No. 20575
>>20572
you've lost me.
>> No. 20582
>>20575
For much of the recent story, we have been wanting to punch Maribel.

Now that she has been saved from herself and Yukari, she's apparently trying her darndest to be a decnet human being once more, and some of her efforts, such as the one quoted, are somewhat endearing.

Yukari, on the other hand, is now revealed to be more of a bitch than even before. The poster was most likely saying that he hates Yukari even more, and that she deserves most all of the anger and irritation once reserved for Maribel.

That's my guess, at least. You should have been able to solve this.
>> No. 20587
>>20582

I realized this a while back, since there's various factors that turned Maribel into the bitch she was a good deal of the story (Generally being 'used' as a substitute Yukari tends to mess one up, and due other family matters, she ended up spoiled on top of that.)

But the fact also remains that Yukari's bitchiness is a result of being used by the Hans for a long time, and this time she has had enough. Not to say it justifies the full extend of it, or basically psychologically assaulting Maribel.

And from what I see, Maribel wishes she could be close like Aoi and Renko are (Not sure on the romantic matter).

I still think had we taken a route that lead into Gensokyo, perhaps this series of events regarding Maribel snapping out of her bitchiness would have progressed faster.
>> No. 20589
>>20587
This makes me wonder, which options until now would have lead us to Gensokyo?
Also, I like this almost tsundere Mary~
>> No. 20590
>>20589

I suspect if we went to the shrine in the very beginning that would have happened, but instead we choose the graveyard and as a result found Layla's flute.

I think Mary would have warmed up faster on the Gensokyo route just due to how out of her element she'd be (since it's not the town where everyone kisses the Hans' asses), and the shock might cause her to grow truly close with Renko and Aoi.
>> No. 20591
>>20590

Plus Yukari may have actually been likable down that route, instead of this psychopath. Yuyuko commented on her 'not being herself' as well.
>> No. 20592
>>20591

Since I think what might have set her off was the fact Maribel summoned her. At least that was when shit started going down.

I think on the Gensokyo track, perhaps Aoi would find out about being the reincarnation of Layla in another way.

But I would like to find out exactly what's causing Yukari's irrational behavior, since what Yuyuko said has definite merit.

And anyone else remember the battle in the town's past between the Hans/cult and the local shrine? I might have said this in the past, but said Shrine might have been the Hakurei Shrine. How's that for a possibly twisted Yukari and Reimu dyanamic?
>> No. 20676
"Yeah..." In an attempt to switch the subject, you turn your attention to the TV. "This show's kinda neat, though. Looks like it's about a shut-in who met a girl online."

Mary nods somewhat casually, also turning her attention to the television. A moment passes with the three of you merely watching the screen together, until Renko starts to mumble with a slightly angered look on her face. When you stare at her, her expression changes to slight embarrassment.

"...It isn't that they met online, Hanako knew Hiribana when they went to middle school together, but they didn't get close until Hiribana tried talking to her online." Folding her arms, Renko continues to explain herself. "I'm a little irked that this is just another rerun, though. It's also one of the more boring episodes, since they don't actually do anything together, but just send eachother texts and things like that through the episode while Hiribana deals with his li--"

Perhaps noticing the slightly amazed and mesmerized looks on both yours and Mary's faces, Renko cuts her sentence short and swipes the remote, changing it to another channel with the same show on. A few footsteps can be heard from the hallway as she sets the remote down, probably just servants moving about to do something else.

"..." Unable to resist the urge, you turn your attention to Renko again. "What about this episode? Is this better than the last one?"

Hesitant at first, Renko eventually nods and starts to speak, though more slowly and calmly than before. "Yeah, they actually spend some time together in this episode. It's really cute, since Hiribana gets all embarrassed once Hanako tells him that she wants to try going on a date somewhere nice, which is what Hiribana thought he should've been suggesting."

Falling silent, the three of you go back to watching the show, which progresses with the couple going to an aquarium and running into someone that seems to want to take the girl away from the main character. Getting kind of tired of watching this, you turn your attention towards other things, and hear more footsteps in the hallway. For a moment you feel that the increase in activity out there may be a negative sign, but you ignore the feeling.

"...Well, that was interesting." Watching the credits with mild interest, Mary seems to have been at least entertained by the show. "You watch a lot of shows like these, don't you, Renko?"

"Yeah, I really like sappy love stories." Leaning back, she stretches and puts her arms up in the air, yawning slightly as she does so. "This one was kind of different, though, so I really liked watching it. They need to make more episodes, though..."

"It's surprising that you don't have a boyfriend, seeing how much you act like you want one!" Grinning Mary, nudges Renko arm as she speaks. "You'd probably like the type who's really timid around girls, right?"

"Ahaha... Yeah, that's right." Blushing, Renko rubs the back of her head while avoiding looking your way. "Yeah, timid guys are cute... Maybe you know some, Aoi?"

Suppressing a grin, you look sidelong at the window. This may be a good time to change the subject again, before the three of you get to personal about the conversation.

[ ] "Oh yeah, my mom told me to stay in the rooms tonight... I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"
[ ] "Those servants walk pretty noisily. I probably heard them go by a couple times in the past ten minutes!"
[ ] "What about you, Mary? Any guy you might go after in college?"
>> No. 20677
Sorry about taking so long to update. I've had a lot going on, and had less motivation to write do to an increased desire for free time to waste on pointless things. I'll try to get back in the swing starting with this small update, though, so please just bear with it.
>> No. 20678
[ø] "Oh yeah, my mom told me to stay in the rooms tonight... I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"
-[ø] "It must be related to all those noise coming from the hallway."
>> No. 20679
[x] "Oh yeah, my mom told me to stay in the rooms tonight... I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"
-[x] "It must be related to all those noise coming from the hallway."
-[x] "...What is that, anyway?"
>> No. 20680
[X] "Oh yeah, my mom told me to stay in the rooms tonight... I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"
-[X] "It must be related to all those noise coming from the hallway."
-[X] "...What is that, anyway?"
>> No. 20681
[X] "What about you, Mary? Any guy you might go after in college?"
>> No. 20683
>>20681

That'd be a dick move to do to Mary. Since I suspect she likes Aoi on some level, and it might be a while before she could try to have a normal relationship with a guy.

That and it'd fail to change subjects from the matter of relationships (and the budding one between Aoi and Renko being secret)

[x] "Oh yeah, my mom told me to stay in the rooms tonight... I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"
-[x] "It must be related to all those noise coming from the hallway."
-[x] "...What is that, anyway?"

This would do the job.

But I do feel bad for Mary for various reasons.
>> No. 20684
>>20683

More like Mary has a huge crush on Renko. Not that I would be opposed to creating a three-way relationship in which Aoi and Mary find an uncomfortably more-than-sibling affection for each other, in addition to their mutual love for Renko. Renko seems like a nice, open girl when it comes to relationships, so...

[X] "Oh yeah, my mom told me to stay in the rooms tonight... I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"
-[X] "It must be related to all those noise coming from the hallway."
-[X] "...What is that, anyway?"
>> No. 20685
>>20684

That may be very well true, but I did sense tsundere vibes from Mary towards Aoi. I think his cross dressing is perhaps a factor in why she might like him (Not a normal guy like dear old dad). That and he's easily on the bottom even with girls (just ask Renko)

I wouldn't mind Aoi ending up with both, but there's Mary's issues in the way. Particularly her guilt about certain things (causing her to be distance herself some from her friend and step-brother)
>> No. 20690
>>20685

There's also that small problem with the reality hacker. Which also means she's here, judging by the sounds from the hall. Maybe.
>> No. 20692
"...Oh yeah, my mom told me that we should stay in our rooms tonight. I wonder why she'd say something weird like that?"

"Ah." Baited by the topic change, Mary is the first to respond. "That is pretty strange. I wonder if my father told her to tell you that..."

You hesitate a moment, and decide to listen to the hallway again. Once more, the sound of footsteps passes by, which has become increasingly suspicious over the past few minutes. They're definitely going to the entryway, and some of the footsteps sound more rushed than others, deviating from the usual uniform stroll the servants have.

"It must be related to all those noises coming from the hallway... What is that, anyway?"

"Sounds like the servants moving around to me." Glancing towards the door and then back at you, Renko hesitates before standing up and peeking into the hallway. Sitting down, she nods her head. "...Yeah, it's the servants. Looks like a lot of them went in the same direction or something."

For a moment, the three of you fall silent after hearing this news. Considering what all of this may mean, you wonder what path the three of you should take.

"...I think we should go out there and see what's going on. It sounds pretty important, I'd say."

Saying that, Maribel falls silent and stares absent-mindedly at the clock for a few seconds. Taking a look yourself, you're surprised to see that it's drawing close to twelve in the morning. Time really has flown by quickly, albeit surprisingly quickly.

"...Well, um... Still." Trying to be firm, you speak up next. "My mom said to stay in our rooms, and she probably said that with good intent. I think that we should just stay in this room and trust that she has things under control..."

"That's too irresponsible, Aoi!" Shaking a finger at you, Renko grins widely, being the next to speak. "With your method, we have no idea what's going on and we aren't prepared for a thing. If we do what Mary suggested, though, then we could at least see what's happening out there."

...Honestly, you are a bit curious. Considering the two conflicting sides, wanting to obey your mother and wanting to indulge in your curiosity, it's hard to decide on what to do next. As you consider the options, Mary stands up and makes her way for the door, looking determined as she takes a hold of the knob.

"..." Giving both you and Renko a firm stare, she nods her head once before turning the knob slightly. "I'm going to see what we're being left out on. With everything as it has been lately, something like this can be nothing but bad."

After hearing that, Renko stands up and joins Mary at the door, looking towards you with a compelling message sent through her eyes.

"...Come on, Aoi. I'm sure your mom will understand later, so let's just make sure nothing wrong is happening, okay?"

[ ] "...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go."
[ ] "No, no. I'm going to stay here, and you two should do the same."
[ ] "Can't you at least stay here, Renko? I don't want to be left alone."
>> No. 20693
[ø] "...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go."
>[ ] "Can't you at least stay here, Renko? I don't want to be left alone."
Aoi~

Wow, f5'ing /border/ worked for once!
>> No. 20694
[x] "No, no. I'm going to stay here, and you two should do the same."
-[x] If they truly insist, go with them.

But I don't think this is Yukari related, at least nothing intending to mess with the trio. (Think a mere door would keep Yukari out?)

I just have a strong feeling about staying in, but at the same time if they're truly insistant, the best thing to do is to go with if that is the case.
>> No. 20695
[x] "No, no. I'm going to stay here, and you two should do the same."

Tough choice. I can see Aoi being minced either way but taking the obvious hint from Junko seems like the safest option. Not that taking either option will necessarily end up in any sort of bad end.

And as much as I'd LOVE to go for the last option it just seems cruel to Mary.
>> No. 20696
[X] "...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go."
>> No. 20697
{X} "...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go."
>> No. 20699
[echs] "No, no. I'm going to stay here, and you two should do the same."
>> No. 20700
I'm calling it for [ ] "...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go." since it got to 3 first. Update later.
>> No. 20701
[x] "...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go."

Better than being sharked.
>> No. 20703
>>20701

I doubt EX Nine is a hack writer known for equating sex scenes to Mollusks. Try to lay off the bad VNs.

And going out would be more likely to result in mucking something up if not a bad end. (Aoi's mom most likely told him to stay in for a good reason)
>> No. 20705
"...Well, I can't see too much to hold me back now. Let's go."

Following the two of them out the door, you really start to wonder what all the commotion is about. It has to be linked to the events that have transpired lately, but what it actually is escapes you as you walk down the hallway, between Renko and Maribel.

Seeing one servant swiftly walk across the hall in front of you, the three of you turn to follow him as he heads toward the front of the mansion.

Noticing this, he slows down, causing you to do the same. Turning, the servant frowns while looking the three of you over, shaking his head a little as he does so.

"I'm sorry, but Ms. Han said to not let anybody other than herself and the servants go to the entryway. I actually think she gave a direct order to see that you three stay in your rooms, out of harm's way."

"Out of harm's way?" Latching onto the one hint the boy let slip, Renko fakes a grimace as she continues to speak. "If something dangerous is going on in the mansion, then we have the right to know what it is. Get out of the way so we can go see Aoi's mom!"

Backing off a little, the boy swallows hard after taking in what Renko said. Looking back behind you, he nods, and two more servants come up to block the hall completely. With the other two there, it'd be hard for the 3 of you to get past, and the first servant, registering this, grins with relief as the three of you hesitate to do anything.

"...As the daughter of the late Mr. Han, I demand that the 3 of you stand aside." Narrowing her eyes, Maribel takes a step towards them. "If you refuse, then I can't guarantee that you'll retain your employment in my home."

Saying that, she reaches into her right pocket and seems to take a hold of something, holding it ready for however the servants may react. Taking a step towards her, the three of them start to reach towards all of you in a synchronized motion.

"Miss Maribel, we need to take you back to your room. Now please be cooperative and move alo--"

Pulling her fist out of her pocket, Maribel's hand holds... nothing. Instead, a metal device is on her hand as it flies into one servant's head and then into another's stomach, catching them off-guard and sending them to the floor. Seeing this, the other one grabs her arms, restraining her before she'd be able to use a surprise attack on him too.

Seeing that his back is turned on her, Renko takes the chance she's given to grab him around the neck and pull at one of his arms. Snapping out of your initial shock, you grab onto the servant's other arm and squeeze it, forcing him to let go of Mary. Surely enough, a hard THUD resounds through the hallway before he falls to the floor, dazed.

"...If these were my original servants, I never would have hurt them like this." Frowning, Mary shakes her head. "They may be strong and specially equipped, but they can't do a thing if their employers attack them, can they?"

Still caught up in the moment, Renko nods seriously before continuing to walk towards the front. Joining in on the walk, the three of you begin to jog through the hallways, eventually making it to the entryway.

...Surely enough, it's filled with a large number of servants, all standing in some strange triangle shaped magic patterns. Junko, at the top of the staircase, is also in one of these, and holding a powerful looking gun to her side. In the center of the place, a rug had been drug back to reveal a large, shady looking magic circle stained onto the floor in some kind of red material.

Attempting to ignore that, the three of you walk towards your mother, who looks more than shocked to see you here now. The edges of her mouth tremble as you come to a stop a few feet from her, and she swallows hard once before speaking.

"...Aoi, Renko, Maribel. I specifically told all three of you to stay in your rooms toni--"

"What the hell is this!?"

Looking at the whole scene unfolded in front of you, Renko shakes her head angrily. Mary seems as dumbfounded as you are, though, and content to remain silent. Regaining some of her composure, Junko shakes her head and motions a hand towards the hallway.

"The ritual to draw Yukari out of hiding has already started... You see, Mary, I actually read some of those books I took from you. After looking over the passages in a few of them, I found instructions on banishing a demon... So, that's what I'm doing now."

"You're trying to lure her out? If anything you should want to keep that woman away from here!" Looking down at Junko's magic "triangle", she shakes her head again. "Do you really think this will work!?"

"...It was all from a book that mentioned how to summon something that sounds like Yukari, so I believe it should. And if the plan fails, then the magic circles that the servants and I are in should keep us safe. Just, please, go back to your rooms..."

[ ] Stay quiet and follow whatever Renko says.
[ ] Prompt Mary to speak up.
[ ] "...I'm not letting you do this on your own, so I want to stay here with you, at least."
>> No. 20706
Went better than I thought it would though I was right about something major going on.

Interesting event, I'm going to have to think on it, but I can easily see how this might go wrong, considering how Yukari is no ordinary demon, and that another such attempt might really piss her off.

And I'm curious to see if Mary actually fully 'paid the price' of summoning Yukari in the first place. (Since isn't part of the summon ritual, sacrificing someone you love?) It's that part I'm unclear on; and in any case I doubt her late father actually qualified in any case.
>> No. 20707
[X] "...I'm not letting you do this on your own, so I want to stay here with you, at least."
>> No. 20708
Uh I don't think killing Yukari is the best idea, although I'm not sure if that's even possible. Gensokyo may cease to exist, and I don't know about other anons, but I'm interested in exploring Gensokyo, and learning more about Layla.
Having said this, I'm going to sleep on the choices.
>> No. 20709
>>20708

Junko's goal is to banish her, not so much kill her. Even then that's very risky, considering how she might react once she's summoned to the area.

And perhaps we might want to defer to either Ren or Mary with this, since some imput would be much needed. (As much as Junko's intentions are good, she's a newbie at screwing around with such books)
>> No. 20713
[x] Prompt Mary to speak up.

She knows best.
>> No. 20715
[x] Prompt Mary to speak up; she's got the most experience in dealing with Yukari of anyone here, and can let Junko know exactly what she's getting into.
>> No. 20718
...3 votes, with a winner if I count an extended version of one of them to be the same as the other. I really want to move on and get to the substance of this thread, so I'll only prod about this this one time: More votes, please?
>> No. 20719
I think we at least need to let Junko know how Yukari operates. Letting Mary tell her can't be a bad idea.

But seeing as how there's only three votes right now, it's sort of up in the air. Anybody else have something better, idea-wise?
>> No. 20721
[x] Prompt Mary to speak up; she's got the most experience in dealing with Yukari of anyone here, and can let Junko know exactly what she's getting into
>> No. 20722
[X] Prompt Mary to speak up; she's got the most experience in dealing with Yukari of anyone here, and can let Junko know exactly what she's getting into.

Let's punch Yukari in the face.
>> No. 20724
[X] Prompt Mary to speak up; she's got the most experience in dealing with Yukari of anyone here, and can let Junko know exactly what she's getting into.
>> No. 20727
[X] Prompt Mary to speak up; she's got the most experience in dealing with Yukari of anyone here, and can let Junko know exactly what she's getting into.
>> No. 20731
This update should prove fairly large, so I may not be finished with it right away. I'll post whatever I do get finished, though, so please wait warmly until then.
>> No. 20733
File 126275552435.png - (509.87KB, 496x446, Yukari 003.png) [iqdb]
20733
First part done, expect the rest tommorow or Thursday.

-----

"...How can you be so sure that this is all so safe?" Frowning a little, you look over the whole scene with some level of disgust. "You're fairly new to this business of demons and summoning, but, from what I understand, Mary knows a lot about this sort of thing... Right, Mary?"

"...A... A-ah, yeah... Yes, I know a lot about this!" Snapping out of the initial shock she had been in, Mary looks over the scene with an knowledgeable look in her eyes, before turning her attention back to Junko. "...You didn't follow the instruction listed in the fourth volume, did you...?"

Hesitating a moment, your mother looks out over what she has prepared with some skepticism, no longer so confident in her abilities to prepare a summoning ritual. As she stands there, the tick-tick-tick of the clock makes the pause seem to last an infinite amount of time, dragging this moment out longer than it should last. Eventually, she exhales and nods.

"Yes... I looked through most of the books I took from you, and that one seemed to mention a way to draw demons out from hiding. So, I decided to follow it, hoping that it'd lure her out." Shaking her head, she seems to be growing impatient. "Where are you going with this, anyway? There's not much time left before the summoning takes place, so you should get to safety already..."

"No, I think I should be the one telling you that." With a suddenly serious look on her face, Maribel looks your mother dead in the eye. "If this is from the fourth volume, it's made to summon and protect against lesser demons... It may even be an understatement to say that Yukari is a greater demon, so she'd tear you to shreds if you lured her out with just this."

A look of shock spreads over Junko's face, and a murmur of doubt rises among the servants before fading after a fierce glare from your mother. While she stands there, looking completely unsure of herself, Mary looks back at the large circle where the rug had once been.

"...You didn't make that one, did you...?"

"...No, it was already there. I think that your father made it a long time ago, and that it's become permanent...Is what you said true? That this ritual won't work, and that it could only end essentially as a suicide mission?"

"...Yeah, calling this suicide isn't a big stretch." Walking out towards the large summoning circle, Mary shakes her head sadly. "...If this is here like this, though... Is it possible that Yukari is already bound to this place?"

Turning back around, she walks back to the three of you she left at the top of the staircase. Just as she reaches you, the clock hanging up over the walkway lets out a chime, indicating the culmination of an hour... and of a full day.

As that chime continues to ring out, everything in the entryway seems to freeze, as if stuck in place. The servants, with increasingly worried looks on their faces, look towards the four of you at the top of the stairs, and as Renko, Mary, and Junko all stand still, you find your hand moving into your bag, gripping the rod that Layla gave you... Clenching it, as if it were a security blanket.

A moment later, the echo of the chime fades away, indicating that the old day is gone and that the new day should be here. Seeing that nothing happened with the summoning circle, you smile, relieved, and turn to the clock to see that the time is...

"...What a pathetic ritual. You would have done well to read the Lesser Key of Solomon rather than to follow this kind of low-level trash!" Spitting onto the magic circle at Junko's feet, Yukari obstructs the view of the clock. "Honestly, I feel insulted... Something like this is blasphemy to a person like myself! You'll have to pay for this, you know?"

Taking a step back, you clutch the wand tighter, swallowing hard as incomprehensible sounds are made somewhere behind you. Swiveling around, you can see that these sounds came from one of the servants who had been at attention being driven through by... a large wheel... Held by a small, blonde girl. Yet another one hangs limply above that servant, their neck suddenly crushed by some sort of phantom noose.

"Iii... Aaaaahhh.... AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Pointing her gun upwards, Junko suddenly lets a round of bullets fly at Yukari, barely scratching the hems of her clothing. "Begone! Die, rot, vanish, disappear!! Why must you continue to plague this house and its residents!"

"Ahahaha.... Aaaaheheheheheeheh!" Grinning with a devilish charm, Yukari wrinkles up her brow and points a long nail towards your mother as the carnage continues behind you. "Aahahaha! It'd be great to crack your skull open and use it like a cup, drinking out of your already-empty head! Seriously, to think that you could damage me with something as pathetic as man-made weapons...! You're a real fool, Junko Han!"

Saying that, she raises her hand to beckon a glowing object of a newly opened gap behind her. Seeing that it's aimed for your mother's throat, you step forward and hold the wand up, faltering a moment before the bright object is deflected and broken up into a million small, violet sparks. Shaking with fear and adrenaline, you look dead on at the monster who threatened your mother, most likely with an expression you wouldn't like to see yourself wearing.

"...Oho?" Placing her hand on her chin, Yukari floats further up as she continues to cackle. "I see... Something like that won't do any good against Layla's magic, so I'll have to settle for what I've already taken."

Saying that, she flies towards the center of the entryway, drawing the 3 corpses of servants already killed towards her. A few other have already been seriously injured, and you can only watch, stupefied, as they brawl with the small harem that Yukari continually seems to tote around with her. Reaching out blindly for something to comfort yourself, you take a hold of that familiar white ghost and turn around, hiding yourself from this otherworldly scene.

As Junko falls to her knees, uncomprehending, and Renko holds onto her head with disbelief, you can hear Mary alone stepping forward, and turn to watch as she stares at this phantasm gathering bodies in the center of the entryway.

"Y... I don't n... You bihaaa..." Sniffling, she clenches her teeth as she continues to stare down the awful figure, who has ordered her servants to a stand-still with a hand gesture. "...I don't... need it."

"...Oooh?" Imitating the speech of a ditzy blonde girl, Yukari laughs quietly before continuing to speak. "What is it you don't need? Servants, a fortune, magic? If you don't say it clearly, a dumb girl like me could never understaaand!"

"...I don't need... any wishes, or any stupid rituals!" Raising her voice to a shout, Mary points one determined finger towards Yukari. "Get out of my home, y... You bitch! Get out of here, and leave me alone! I don't need it, so leave me alone and go away, far away, where I'll never see you agaaaiin!"

Saying that, she collapses to the floor, sobbing and slamming her fist against the carpet. At first Yukari stares at this, with a look half-way between unbelief and fascination, and then that same malicious grin spreads over her face, distorting her features as she speaks.

"That's aaaall you had to say! So long, Han family, so long, Maribel Han, Junko Han, Aoi! Yuyuko, I'm counting on you for the rest!!"

Saying that, she draws herself, what's now 5 corpses, and her "harem" into one large gap and vanishes just as abruptly as she had appeared. Unable to believe it all, you fall to the floor in a heap.
>> No. 20734
>Yuyuko, I'm counting on you for the rest!!
Waiting warmly to find out what Yukari means by that.
>> No. 20735
I want to cover my head with a pillow now.
>> No. 20737
Ah crap, I just remembered something.

Because Mary didn't complete the ritual, Yukari now is free to take her soul however she pleases. And since she's stronger than Yuyuko, who can cause death in any mortal being, she roped her into reaping Mary's life for her. Don't know how exactly, but she did. Of course, I could be wrong with Yuyuko, but the contract did say that if the user didn't complete the ritual, the demon would be able to take the user's soul as payment for wasting it's time.
>> No. 20739
>>20737

wat

When did it say that!?
>> No. 20740
>>20737

Hard to say how many steps she fully filled, but I thought she had her wish already (That is unless having her dad killed wasn't the wish)

But one part of the ritual stood out: Sacrifice of a loved one. This stuck out to me for various reasons, for one that might have been why Mary was trying to be so nice to Aoi at first. (I think she's really trying to be nice, but she's not sure of how to go about it due to various reasons.)
>> No. 20741
So, best case scenario is that Maribel just sacrificed herself for everyone else?
>> No. 20742
>>20741

Hard to say, but if that was the case, Yukari would finally achieve revenge against the Hans.

And you'd act as if Aoi would just sit there and let it happen. (Since Layla's style of magic might be a wild card here)

That and it'd be a sad way to go (on the slightly bright side, Maribel's ghost would be stuck around Hakugyokuro, not the worse afterlife nor the best.)
>> No. 20744
File 126283952748.png - (137.04KB, 870x592, YAMI WO KIRISAKU OH DESIRE.png) [iqdb]
20744
This has actually become number 2 of 3. I kind of forgot how nice it can be to write a bunch of long updates, so this is becoming refreshing.

*****

...With a violent motion, the mansion seemed to shake without warning. The television flickered then continued to show the program that was on, which was a show about a magical girl with a cat tail. It seemed the director must have liked his alcohol, since she was supposedly named after a foreign drink.

A few seconds passed, and then the mansion shook again. The whole room seemed to vibrate, and something precious fell of a shelf nearby and was smashed into small fragments. As the shaking stopped, a shrill wind blew past outside, and finally, the lights went out. Sitting through all of this, wide-eyed and uncomprehending, was a small girl, as delicate as the picture frame that fell a few feet away.

Lost for words, the child looked from the window to the television, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dim light. Blinking rapidly proved useless, so she held her eyes shut and sat still for a minute, before rising to her feet. Unlike most children her age, she didn't burst into tears or scream when any of this happened, but took it all in quietly, waiting to see what might happen next.

...It soon became obvious that nobody would come to that room, so she timidly made her way to the door's frame, tip-toeing all the way. Creak the door open slightly, she peeked out of the room and saw nothing but the darkness of the hallway, constant and unrelenting. A moment passed, and she grew anxious.

"...Renko? Ms. Aoi's Mama?" Hesitating, she waited for an answer. Seeing that none was coming, she took another step into the hallway and called out again. "...H... Hello? Someone turn the lights on! It's creepy with them all off."

The shrill wind blew in reply, and she knew that something wasn't right. Swallowing hard, she took one more step into the hallway before retreating to grab what looked like a toy baton, like something one of those cartoon magical girls may use. Stepping back into the hallway, she looked around a few times before deciding that nothing would change, and that no lights would come on.

Then, faintly, she saw it.

At first it was hard to make out what the strange light was, but she then made out the form of a butterfly, with a luminescent purple form. Walking out into the open hallway, she shut the door behind her and kept watching, to see if the beautiful illusion was something she had actually seen.

Once more, a purple butterfly flew slowly through the end of the hallway, illuminating the space with its ghastly wings. Feeling compelled, the girl started walking towards it, wanting to see something this spectacular more up-close.

"...Mary, are you trying to scare me? I'm not scared!" Biting her lip, she stopped at the end of the hallway, seeing the butterfly flying off towards another hall. "...I'm not scared, so make something nicer with magic... Okay? If you make a glowing panda instead, I'll make the tables dance!"

As the light began to fade down the next hall, she realized that no reply would come, and decided to just follow this phenomenon. Moving slowly at first, she picked up her pace to keep up with the butterfly, eventually standing just a few feet behind it. Moving slowly, the creature led her into the main hallway, where it rested for a moment before flying towards the portrait on the wall.

It then flew through the bosom of the demon displayed there, and the faint light seemed to peek out of a crack in the picture. Moving forward, the girl watched in awe as the picture began to open up, as if it were a doorway instead of a picture frame.

When it finished opening, the figure waiting on the other side... Was Yuyuko, a woman she had met a few times before when talking with Yukari. Stepping into the frame, she payed no attention as the entryway vanished behind her, and instead looked in awe at the elegantly dressed princess in front of her.

"...It's a pleasure to see you again, Hikari!" Smiling warmly, the ghastly maiden gave an exaggerated bow, which Hikari returned, laughing as she did. "Yukari told me to call you to this place, so that I could help you prepare for the ceremony."

"...Ceremony?" Tilting her head slightly, the small girl gave an expression that didn't in anyway hide how baffled she was. "What ceremony? Is Yukari about to get married to a handsome prince?"

"Ohoho!" Covering her mouth with her fan, the elegant woman chuckled at the absurd remark. "No, no. This is a special ceremony for you, Hikari! I'm supposed to make sure that you're dressed appropriately for the occasion, and that you know what you're supposed to do!"

"...I'm getting married, now?" Still confused, the small girl touched the toes of her shoes together and squirmed uncomfortably. "I don't want to get married, I haven't even told Keniichi from school that I like him!"

"...No, you aren't getting married either. If you follow me, then I'll explain this all to you and we can find something more elegant for you to wear." With an arm gesture, Yuyuko let a butterfly escape her sleeve and slip through an invisible crack in the wall, opening the door there behind it. "Come now, we don't want to make your guests wait!"

Still in the dark about the whole situation, the small girl followed the motherly figure through the doorway, not knowing what she was walking into.
>> No. 20745
>>20744

OH HELL!

Now I have to see the last part of the update.
>> No. 20747
File 126284220315.jpg - (199.46KB, 877x620, They\'re all in on this I tell you they all m.jpg) [iqdb]
20747
The guests in the hall chatted excitedly among themselves. The whole scene was decorated lavishly, with silk streamers and confetti that appeared to be like gold leaf. Overhead was a crystal chandelier, and on the floor was a fine, red carpet, leading back to two double doors as if it led to a large VIP room. At the other end of this hall was what resembled an altar, with three figures waiting at it. One of these was in the center, Yukari Yakumo.

Gathered through the hall were many faces that were unfamiliar, and some that would be recognizable to Aoi, Mary, and Hikari. Among these were people such as Youmu, the Prismriver sisters, Suika, and a host of small, blonde haired girls. Scattered all throughout the crowd, they seemed insignificant to the many anonymous faces of the party goers that were awaiting the star of the show.

At that point in time, Yuyuko stepped out from the double doors and bowed, signaling that the event was about to begin. A hush came over the crowd, and the Prismriver trio began to play an energetic yet regal tune, almost like a wedding song, and yet more resembling a herald to the guest of honor.

As two of the blonde girls pulled the doors back, the small girl that was to be the object of everyone's attention stepped into the hall, smiling meekly while holding her baton to one side. Applause rose among the crowd and then quickly died back down, and the girl began to walk forward. As the music continued to play, she resisted the urge to look at all the assembled people that she was unfamiliar with, and instead walked towards the familiar figure at the end of the hall.

Hikari's new dress was very beautiful, and yet seemed to reflect her immaturity in its design. The shoulders were covered, and the dress reached farther down in the back than it did in the front, as if giving her legs a background to stand by. In a way she resembled a ballerina, or maybe one of the magical girls she loved so dearly, and the tiara on her head only reinforced this image, topping it off like an angel might top off a Christmas tree.

Stepping up onto this "altar" at the front, Hikari stood awkwardly for a moment before bowing to one knee, holding the baton she used up towards Yukari. The woman dressed in purple took the baton and looked it over once before nodding her approval.

"...Hikari Usami, your efforts have this day been recognized, and you will now pass from the level of a magician's apprentice, to the level of a magician... No, of a magical witch." Tossing the baton up to the high ceiling, Yukari continued to speak. "On this day, you will now be granted with new powers, stronger powers, through the recognition of your mentor."

Catching the baton, Yukari gripped it hard for a moment, causing it to change forms. Growing longer, it became a silver staff, and the head now doubled itself, giving the staff four loops growing out of the head. Pulling the bow from her own hat, Yukari tied the violet fabric to the staff, giving it an even more royal look. Holding it at full length, she watched the girl who was on a knee for a moment before smiling, and tapping both her shoulders with the new device.

"You will now be a full fledged witch, who was once human, but is now awakened to a greater world. As a witch, your new name will be... Theta, just like your current age. Rise."

Following Yukari's orders, Hikari-- No, Theta rose to her feet, her eyes sparkling as she tried to hold back her tears of happiness. Handing her the new staff, Yukari smiled sagely, nodding her approval once more.

"You are now Theta, the shape changing witch, who I, Yukari Yakumo, have appointed to this new position... So long as you pledge loyalty to me and my magical friends, you will always be recognized-- by all of us."

"Yes! I'll always be ready to listen to you, each and every one of you!" No longer holding back the tears, Theta grabbed out and held onto Yukari, laughing as she sobbed.

"...If that's true, then there's already something that my friends and I have to ask you to help us with." A cold, sly smile began to slip over Yukari's face, showing her malicious intent in this, what had been Theta's joyous occasion. "There's an evil witch who's making Maribel sick and is trying to make Aoi her pupil... An evil witch named Layla."

.....

.....

Opening your eyes, you can see that the morning has come. The events of last night seem far behind you, and the only thing you're worried about right now is...

"Aoi~!" Grinning mischievously, Renko flings herself onto your bed, gripping you around the shoulders. "I'm going to cheer you up, so let's go out to the town today!"

...Right, the only concern you have now is what you'll do with Renko today.

[ ] "That sounds like a good plan. Maybe we can visit that ice cream shop again?"
[ ] "Okay, but we need to have breakfast first."
[ ] "...Is Mary awake yet? She should come, too."
>> No. 20750
[x] "...Is Mary awake yet? She should come, too."

I think Mary needs some time to unwind considering all that's happened. But I wonder if Renko isn't trying to get Aoi to herself today. Hard to tell.

On what happened otherwise: OH DOUBLE HELL. Yukari's planning on using Renko's sister against Layla. How clever of Yukari, using the big scene at the mansion to distract everyone as to make her true moves.
>> No. 20757
[X] "...Is Mary awake yet? She should come, too."

That's it, I don't care what will happen to Gensokyo, Yakumo is going to die.

EX Nine, your version of Yakumo pisses me off to no end. A real bitch.

So how are we going to kill her? It should be as horrible and as painful as possible.

Can we get Soul Edge? That might help, being a demonic sword and all.
>> No. 20763
>>20757

I don't think there's anything that can kill her for good in the group's power. Though sealing her somehow would be more effective, such as sealing her in Gensokyo as so she can't meddle in real world affairs ever again.
>> No. 20767
[X] "...Is Mary awake yet? She should come, too."
>> No. 20775
>>20733
>>20744
>>20747
In the first part, I said to myself "No one's keeping track of Hikari."
In the second part, "What did I just say."
The third part, rather than come as unexpected, makes me want to re-evaluate the three poltergeist's role in this.

[+] "...Is Mary awake yet? She should come, too."
>> No. 20778
[ø] "...Is Mary awake yet? She should come, too."
>> No. 20784
>>20775

I wonder if everyone else even has an idea of what Yukari's up to, since I don't think she said that little remark about Layla out in the open.

But it seems revenge against Layla (who had the nerve to find a special magic on her own and not follow Yukari blindly) is on her agenda if revenge against the whole Han family isn't on it as well.

But it's quite insidious how Yukari's aiming to take out a wild card that could be used against her. And that due to various factors, she might finally find a blindly loyal magician at last.

But despite the whole gathering thing, Reimu was absent. (and for good reason, if Reimu had an idea of what Yukari was up to outside, she might actually do something more than merely 'resolve an incident') I do also wonder how Reimu might react to the possibility that Yukari had the Hans more or less removet the family of priests and priestesses in the town who might have been the outisde world branch of the Hakurei family
>> No. 20790
>>20784
Reimu normally does not have jurisdiction of the Outside; her domain is watching the front door for things that accidentally fall in and stubbornly refuse to turn back, and making sure the inside runs smoothly. The presence of a team of "Inside" agents does raise questions regarding the state of affairs in (this) Gensokyo.
>> No. 20811
>>20790

I think it's also her job to keep the youkai in line so they don't make a ruckus anywhere. And the whole incident with that shrine and the Hans, that might be revelant to Reimu's interest, since A) it might be responsible for more folks from Gensokyo running around in the outside world.

I suspect the family running that shrine was removed as to make summoning Yukari easier.

I doubt there was a wide spread case of Yukari gapping various beings outside before and so Reimu might not have considered it.

But it'll be hard for Aoi's group to contract Reimu as it stands.
>> No. 20901
Update, dammit.
>> No. 21074
Seriously, fucking update already.
>> No. 21103
>>21074
Nah he'd rather talk about dicks in IRC despite the fact that IRC wants more Aoi.
>> No. 21105
>>21103

I don't actually talk much in #THP anymore, and certainly not about Aoi. Oh, I don't talk about dicks either.
>> No. 21112
>>21105
Then update already! I miss this story. ;_;
>> No. 21349
I've reached a dilemma, unfortunately. I love mysteries, but feel that I've done an awful job with this one. To be blunt, I'm not that excited about writing AoD anymore, and would like to write something with more of a focus on the characters themselves than a mystery.

As a result, I've decided that I will keep writing this and finish the first route, but that the second route will have an entirely different structure altogether. It'll still involve some mystery, but not the same mystery belonging to this route.

That said, I'll get back to updating soon enough. Let's hope I can finish this thing off well.
>> No. 21358
>>21349
Well, I can only hope everything will turn out for the better. And I'm happy to hear that you're updating soonish.

Looking forward to it, Nine.
>> No. 21359
>>21349
Glad to hear that updates are coming! I thought this might have stalled indefinitely, and that second route sounds promising.

Sure, it may have its flaws, but it's been fun to read and the supernatural flavor interspersed with slice-of-life is a neat touch.
>> No. 21361
>>21359
Yeah and even the ever so worshiped classics had their flaws as well. First runs are always something of a mess, that's what the second run is for. I wonder what will be in the second run though.
>> No. 21368
>>21361
Hopefully with no Psycho!Yukari.
>> No. 21372
>>21368
And hopefully with happy Renko and Maribel ending; but mainly a Maribel that wasn't used as a 'substitute Yukari fucktoy' by her dad.
>> No. 21631
I like the more disturbing & malevolent elements; they paint Maribel in a sympathetic light, whereas otherwise she would simply seem to be a bitch. Her plot seems to have failed, and now she is under suspicion by her adoptive mother, making things more complex, unless she is really out to destroy the cultists in their entirety. It should continue as it has, with Aoi being a proxy for greater powers in Layla, Renko being a contrary, grounding element that pressures him toward a 'normal' life, while she herself is conflicted, her little sister being bewitched by Yukari.

Needs more updates though.
>> No. 21633
>>21631
you mean more cliched? Whatever.
>> No. 21650
>>21633
Haters gonna hate.
>> No. 21837
File 127343835080.jpg - (163.79KB, 850x850, Picture unrelated.jpg) [iqdb]
21837
"...Is Mary awake yet?" Brushing your bangs away from your face, you smile at Renko. "She should come, too."

"Ah... Yeah, she's awake. She just kind of..." As she starts to twiddle her fingers, she puffs her cheeks up. "...Well, she didn't seem very happy this morning."

For a moment, the two of you remain silent. You agree to drop the subject without a word said, and quickly dress yourself. As the two of you start to walk down the hall, you can't stop yourself from tugging on Renko's sleeve.

"...I think she really needs our attention. With everything going on, being by herself isn't a good thing."

You continue to walk, and Renko's eyes gain a serious glaze for once. Frowning a little, she starts to walk a little slower, and swallows as she comes to a complete stop.

"You know what, you're right." Smiling, she takes off her hat and runs one hand through her hair. "To think, even after all the trouble she gave you, you're a better friend than I am..."

As she says that, her fingers slide over yours, and feel warm. A small smile creeps over your face, and you hold her hand in yours. Not long after, the two of you are leaving the mansion along with Mary.

It isn't long before Mary warms back up to both you and Renko, and is smiling and laughing like she did a long time ago. Not being able to hold Renko's hand because of Mary being here is...

...Actually not that unreasonable. Whispering into Renko's ear, you grab her right hand as she takes a hold of Mary's right. The blonde girl is shocked for a second, but eventually smiles with a red hue on her cheeks, and the three of you continue along your way.

"It really is nice to be with friends." Purring those words, Renko starts to swing her arms. "Don't you think so, Mary?"

"...Yeah." Nodding, she looks bashful as she replies. "Friends are wonderful."

...

It isn't long after that you wind up in an icecream shop, and each of you has bought your own cone. Mary chose a plain vanilla, Renko chose a blueberry cone, and you decided to try the strawberry flavor. Taking in the smells coming from various shops along the street, the three of you sit in front of the store at a small metal table.

"...Surprise attack!" With those words, Renko swipes a lick from your icecream and another from Mary's. Looking thoughtful for a moment, she sighs happily. "They're both nice, but strawberry is the best. Wouldn't you say so?"

"Mhm."

Taking another lick from the cone, you try to hide the fact that you're tasting the spot Renko touched. You notice that Mary is doing the same, and the two of you stare at eachother for a few awkward moments. The silence is once again broken by Renko.

"So, what should we do now?" Stretching, she takes another lick of her icecream. "I was thinking of riding the train towards the beach, since we haven't been there since last summer."

"Oh..." Looking between you and Renko, Mary takes her time talking. "That sounds nice, though I'd rather get an umbrella before going out there. That or some sunscreen."

[ ] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"
[ ] "The mansion isn't too far away. Maybe we could go get our bikes to ride there?"
[ ] "I'd really rather use an umbrella, too. Let's head back to the mansion."
>> No. 21838
[x] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"
>> No. 21839
[X] "The mansion isn't too far away. Maybe we could go get our bikes to ride there?"

As much as I don't want to be anywhere near the mansion right now, for obvious reasons, riding on the train may be counter productive. You know who Yukari likes trains.

And it's about time Ex Nine came back. We're not done raging at Yukari yet.
>> No. 21840
>Taking another lick from the cone, you try to hide the fact that you're tasting the spot Renko touched. You notice that Mary is doing the same, and the two of you stare at each other for a few awkward moments.
Oh god, no. No, no, no. No.

We have Yukari still trying to fuck us/Layla over, a shapeshifting witch that happens to be the love interest's little sister that is (soon to be) on our ass, and a friend who is slowly, carefully, delicately being pulled back from the edge.

The last fucking thing we need is a love triangle brewing, especially given Mary's emotional state.

So I am torn between wanting SEXY HIJINKS
>[ ] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"

And something more sensible. Plus the picture makes me wonder about a connection, despite being supposedly unrelated.
>[ ] "I'd really rather use an umbrella, too. Let's head back to the mansion."
>> No. 21841
>>21840
I think such a thing was brewing for a while, just that with recent events, Mary isn't putting on airs. Mary's also trying to get used to normally interacting with others after how she's been acting.
>> No. 21842
If Yukari decides to pull a ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL we are so going to kill that person. Even if that person happens to be Maribel.

I still stand by my 'fuck Gensokyo, kill Yukari' stand point. And it had better be the same way Sanae was redeemed in 'The Game.' I hear hell is quite nice this time of year.
>> No. 21843
[X] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"

Not only is the Yukari & trains thing really meta, but I doubt she'd so brazenly attack us after the events of last night. She's switched tracks (pun intended) to getting rid of the biggest obstacle between her and the Hans: Layla. Hell, she's probably asleep right now. Let's just enjoy the momentary peace we have. Who knows when the next will come?

>>21842
And what if Yukari possessed Renko? He who fights monsters...
>> No. 21844
>>21842
>>21843
I doubt she'd try any possession at this point, for her focus is using Renko's sister against Layla.
>> No. 21846
[ø] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"

>EX Nine updates
hooray!
>> No. 21847
[x] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"
>> No. 21848
[X] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"

>>The last fucking thing we need is a love triangle brewing

I was thinking that Renko entered the harem route.
>> No. 21849
Does the picture relate to SURPRISE updates?

[x] "I'd really rather use an umbrella, too. Let's head back to the mansion."
>> No. 21851
There isn't a damn thing we could do with Mary that wouldn't be therapeutic. What with her all but admitted incestuous relationship with her father & patricide, the immense sense of culpability she must feel at the deaths of her servants, that her one 'mother' hates her, and that the other considers her to be a danger, and may yet disinherit her.

Not just for her, but for everyone, a bit of romantic comedy would be a breath of fresh air.

[x] "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"
>> No. 21853
>>21851
She needs to know that she still has friends who don't hold the whole incident against her. I think the happy couple would have to downplay some things, for I feel that might put a strain on the process. I have no idea how to make a love trio work in this case. Mary needs some love but not too much/close that it reminds her of THAT.
>> No. 21864
File 127363517199.jpg - (235.08KB, 850x1177, Clearly you\'re surprised.jpg) [iqdb]
21864
"...Ah! How about this?" Leaning towards the other two, you waggle a finger as you speak. "There's a shop at the beach, so we can buy the sunscreen there!"

"Oh! Right, that only opened recently." With a firm pat on the shoulder, Renko voices her approval. "Good thinking, Aoi. So, let's book it!"

For a moment Mary seems dumbfounded, but ends up smiling warmly. As the three of you begin to walk towards the train station, you grasp towards Renko's hand, but end up holding Mary's. All you can manage to do is blush heavily until Renko pops between the two of you, already done with her icecream. You breathe a breath of relief, and the three of you eventually reach the station without any more complicated issues.

...

A rhythmic thudding noise resounds through the train cart as it speeds down the tracks. Looking out of the window, you watch as the environment outside of the cart changes from the city to the woods, and then to the city once more. It isn't long before the train comes to a halt, and the three of you disembark. The heat of the sun pierces your skin all at once, and the first thing to come to your mind is the sunscreen you need to purchase.


"Come on, don't be so shy." Tugging on Mary's hand, Renko drags her towards the shop. "All we have to do is pop in, grab the sunscreen, and then leave. No worries."

While it was easy enough to say, the atmosphere in the store is actually a little frightening. After the bell rings, a number of faces turn to look at your group, or more specifically, at Mary. Some of the customers whisper to eachother, and the clerk seems to ignore Maribel altogether.

"Hey, I wanna buy this." Saying that, Renko swipes a tube of sunscreen from the rack beneath the checkout counter. "It's four hundred yen, right?"

"...Ah, no." With those words, the clerk makes a face of utter disgust. "It's seven hundred today."

After shooting him a nasty look, Renko digs into her pockets and pulls out a few bills. After counting out her money, she hands it to the clerk, who gives her change and a receipt, along with a death stare.

...So, this is why Mary didn't want to come here? For some reason, the people at the beach hate her? Asking these questions, you exit the store and make your way towards the boardwalk. It take a few minutes for all of you to apply the screen to yourselves, and then another five minutes to make your way down the walk. Stepping off the wooden steps, you take your first step onto the beach and feel a little better.

"Alright, which way should we go?" Shielding her eyes with one hand, Renko scans the horizon with a wide smile on her face. "Either way looks good, so let's go to the nor-"

"I'd much rather go south."

Both you and Renko are at a loss of words for a moment, staring at Mary with worry. Her eyes are determined, so Renko just shrugs the strange event off.

"Sure, the south beach sounds better." Chuckling, she darts forward a few yards. "Come on, let's go!"

You follow her example, and dart down the beach for all of two minutes. Afterwards you're breathing heavily, and talking about how you should exercise more often.

"Ah." Seemingly shocked, Renko draws back a little at your words. "Well, not too intense, okay?"

"Huh? Why not?"

"Because!" Placing her fingers on either side of your stomach, she laughs. "If you work out too much, you'll lose your cute girly figure!"

Swallowing hard, you grab at the end of your shirt and try to get past her embarrassing comment. If anything, it made Mary laugh. She really needs to laugh, after the things that happened on the way here.

[ ] "...Say, Mary. Why was that clerk staring you down earlier?"
[ ] "Hey. Mary, is there any reason you didn't want to go to the north end of the beach?"
[ ] Best to hold your peace.
>> No. 21865
[x] Best to hold your peace.

I suspect that Yukari went about dragging Mary's name through the mud. I'm curious as to what happened but I think trying to force it out of Mary isn't a good idea and it defeats the point of the trip.
>> No. 21866
[x] Best to hold your peace.
>> No. 21867
[x] Best to hold your peace.

Come on, vote people!
>> No. 21868
[X]Best to hold your peace.

There's nothing we can say with this vote set that would make things better. Today's supposed to be a day for R&R before the next issue rears its ugly head.
>> No. 21870
[x] Best to hold your peace.

Poor Mary.
>> No. 21872
[X] Best to hold your peace.

I take it the Hans are despised here.
>> No. 21874
>>21872
Possible, but it sounds like something happened between last summer and now there. For all I know the shop might be staffed by surviving members of that shrine family the Hans supposedly wiped out some time ago.

But My money is more on Yukari-related matters, seeing how Mary's absurdly close to being a look alike. This in itself caused Mary much grief, such as dear old daddy in addition to recent events.
>> No. 21875
>>21874

As much as this story of mine goes for situations where Yukari is responsible, I find it shocking how much she can be blamed for absolutely anything that goes wrong. I'm to blame, of course, but still. I'm shocked at myself.
>> No. 21877
>>21875

Well, she is part of the forbidden template for 'things to explain what's going on.'

However, you did make your Yukari extremely hated on this website, where it has spread to the Yukari's in other stories. It has gotten to the point where people will go 'FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-' whenever she shows up.

We look forward to her demise. Or at least send her to hell for a couple of days, then bring her back. Worked for Fell's Sanae, so it will probably work for your Yukari as well.
>> No. 21878
>>21877

As flattered as I am that you consider my Yukari to be the root of all hatred for her character, I find it largely unlikely. In all honesty, the vast majority of the site probably passes over this story like deities pass over the homes of fervent believers who like to paint their doorways with animal blood.

Getting past that, I'd like you to consider things for a moment. Aoi is just an average girl crossdressing boy, and Yukari is some otherwordly spirit that feels particularly bitchy at this point in time in AoD. The idea that our heroine could kill her is out of the question unless I let him pull an Ushiromiya on her, and the idea that he could send her to hell, and, for that matter, that hell would have much of an effect on a demon, is somewhat silly.

Lastly, comparing Fell's Sanae to my Yukari doesn't seem like the best parallel. I sadly never read The Game, but from what I've heard of it his Sanae seems to just be wanting to cause trouble for the hell of it, while AoD's Yukari is a little deeper than "I feel like ruining some random kid's life". Not to say that's the extent of Fell's Sanae, but that's all I've gotten out of what I heard of her so far.

Sorry if I came across as a dick, by the way. Don't mean to, but I can't help it if I did.
>> No. 21879
>>21878

Fell's Sanae is a bit deeper than that, too. Quite a bit, in fact. Read the story, it's good.
>> No. 21880
>>21877
Only to a point, though when she veers more towards the aloof "loves to mess with the MC" type of Yukari that comparison with Nine's comes up. If she's more down to earth and likable, it's avoided.

I think both happened in AoS in /shrine/, at first when she was unknown she seemed more menacing, once the lead met her... people basically fell in love with her.

>>21875
>>21878
Well your Yukari does like to go on a rampage or two, so a more subtle retort at the Hans wouldn't be too unimaginable. But at the same time, she could be completely unrelated to what's going on for there's many possible factors, including Mary's past behavior. Before recent events she did have a bit of a spoiled streak.

Your story may not be too well known to the newcomers, but for long time fans, it's one of /border/'s most famed stories.

Also I was figuring somehow telling Reimu about Yukari's actions outside, perhaps using what other information to find to convince her. I still have that strong suspicion as to what shrine was referenced in the Hans' history. A boy, his ghost, and his two female friends/love interests isn't anywhere near enough to put a real hurting on her. This might not end in violence but an understanding being reached. I doubt that ritual will ever be done again after this.

I second Dr.Q in recommending reading "The Game"; Sanae is most definitely not doing this for fun.
>> No. 21884
File 127378779045.png - (174.39KB, 695x1100, yukari.png) [iqdb]
21884
[x] Best to hold your peace.

As much as one might tend not to ignore the elephant in the room, their fun right now is a hard-won and fragile thing.

>As much as this story of mine goes for situations where Yukari is responsible, I find it shocking how much she can be blamed for absolutely anything that goes wrong. I'm to blame, of course, but still. I'm shocked at myself.

Much of that hate had initially been directed at Mary, who was until relatively recently suspected of being the one holding Yukari's leash, with Yukari seeming to be an involuntary party to the murders. Now Mary seems more the victim, both directly and indirectly of Yukari's actions. It will probably dissipate somewhat when her reasons become more transparent to the principals, but it's not helped by her flippancy and free tendency to ridicule or speak in riddles. Calling her 'daughter' a monster and co-opting Renko's little sister are also not major league moves at all likely to endear her to them.

>I sadly never read The Game, but from what I've heard of it his Sanae seems to just be wanting to cause trouble for the hell of it

Absolutely not. Sanae in that story seems broken & wantonly sadistic from the get-go, but in reality she's a true believer with a god complex. This is not to say she doesn't seem to relish torturing people, but abusing power in these situations is probably more normal than most people would want to admit (see: Stanford prison experiment).

>while AoD's Yukari is a little deeper than "I feel like ruining some random kid's life". Not to say that's the extent of Fell's Sanae, but that's all I've gotten out of what I heard of her so far.

Your Yukari seems to sway between 1) being an inhuman horror with highly affected airs that likes to scare and impress people, and 2) being vindictive & malevolent for having been stuck in a frustrating situation. Whether or not she genuinely enjoys killing incidentals or whether that's an act so as to speed along whatever process she is a part of, I think it remains to be seen.

That's not to say I wouldn't like to see more of her. In too many stories we only see her as a plot device, usually by way of her arbitrarily using her immense powers. We rarely see her doing high-profile youkai-type stuff. Acting like the monster, meaning.

tl;dr: Your Yukari is villainous, but not devoid of redeeming features, and she certainly doesn't feel 'flat'.
>> No. 21885
Man, you guys are great. After all the shit I've put you through, you still manage to be the audience I want, and you can still impress me at times. Go you!

With that said, I'm hoping to pull off another update tonight. If things turn out for the best then I won't have just jinxed myself.
>> No. 21886
Remaining silent, you walk a little meekly down the beach. Renko seems to be focused on shells that were partially buried in the sand, while Mary seems to just gaze a little to her left with a sad face.

She's staring at the sea.

"Mary, are you okay?"

"Ah." Snapping out of it, she turns her attention towards you. "Ah, yeah. Erm, yes. I'm fine."

You make a pleading look that asks if she's honest, but she just turns her head back towards the sea. With an inward sigh, you decide to pay more attention to Renko.

She's looking at the ground, searching for some shell intently. In her right hand, she has one with a blue shade to it, and another with brown stripes. Merely observing like this, you can't tell what it is she wants to find.

"..." For a moment you stop yourself, wanting to remain silent. Considering your words, you decide to speak. "...Is there something out there?"

Mary continues to walk and look, not realizing that you were talking to her. You hesitate once more, then give her shoulder a little tap. She swings her head around, and seems dumbfounded at first. She quickly gathers herself.

"Oh." Her shoulders sag a little, and she shrugs. "No, not really. It's just that... Well, the sea looks like it goes on forever. It's hard to not stare at and think about."

Considering her words, you look out at the sea as well. In an instant you understand what she said, and then loose focus on the subject.

"There!" Swiping at the ground, Renko brushes off her catch and beams at her small collection. "One of each."

The blue and brown shells are still there, though now she's found a splotchy yellow shell. You're a little surprised at how they're all around the same size, though not to the point of saying something. Stare at the shells, stare at Renko. Repeat. You still don't understand.

"One of each." She smiles, and hands you the blue shell, then presses the yellow shell into Mary's hand.

...Ah, now you get it. The idea's a little broken, but she gave you a blue shell because of your name. The ones that she and Mary have are based off of their hair colors, so it's kind of convenient that your name is a color in this situation.

"...There's a little hole in this one." Examining her shell, Mary looks between you and Renko. "Yours also have holes in them... Where a string could go?"

"Good idea." Renko nods, her face lit up with pride. She really resembles her sister at times like these. "They can be necklaces... And each one of us has one."

Mary's eyes glaze over for a second, and she looks at the shell passionately. Renko's true motives for doing something like this are finally clear, and you nod your approval.

"Maybe we could loop three strings through each one? Blue, yellow, and brown strings?"

"Ah, yeah." Just saying that, Renko slips her shell into her pocket, and then turns her attention to the right. "There's another boardwalk... Let's take off for now."

...

Touching the shell, you blush slightly. The three of you went to buy string to use for the shells after leaving the beach, and it didn't take long to assemble the childish jewelry. Renko and Mary also put their necklaces on, and gaze between each other and you.

"That was fun." Mary smiles, and taps her shell. "We should... Really do things like that more often."

"Yeah, we should." Renko nods. "Once life gets more... peaceful. We should spend at least one day a week like this."

Casting her gaze out towards the boardwalk, Renko's eyes seem to calculate something for a few seconds. She then grips your hand and runs off, and you grasp Mary's hand to pull her along. Not questioning her, you just follow her away from the store and boardwalk, and off towards the city. It's okay, Renko always knows what she's doing.

...

"Here we are!" Standing in front of the gate, Renko shouts those words towards the station. "It's been fun, but I like our city more than the neighboring one. We should head back."

[ ] Agree with Renko.
[ ] There may be something else to do here.

-----

Filler vote is kind of pointless, but oh well. Needed a place to stop.
>> No. 21887
[X] Agree with Renko.

Hopefully the atmosphere will be less opressive for Mary back home.
>> No. 21888
[X] Agree with Renko.
Can't think of anything else to do here.

>>21887

> Hopefully the atmosphere will be less oppressive for Mary back home.
> Less oppressive for Mary back home.
> Back home.
> Where Yukari is.
You may want to re-think your strategy sir. At least the people here don't murder other random people.
>> No. 21889
>>21888
We don't know where Yukari is at the moment, or if her attention is remotely on the Trio than on her plans for the replacement witch.

I just realized something about the shells and strings: Their colors correspond with the 3 prismriver sisters' hair colors (Blue, Blonde, Brown)
>> No. 21909
[x] There may be something else to do here.
-[x] Eat before heading back.

Unless they already did. They didn't, did they?
>> No. 21913
[X] Agree with Renko.
>> No. 21922
"...Yeah. Let's head back."

...

After an uneventful train ride, you return to your own city. It's now a little later in the day, and, as a result, some people are starting to get off of work. With the streets now more crowded than they were earlier in the day, you now have to wait before you're able to cross. After a few minutes, your group passes through the street and continues towards your home.

Passing by an alley, a sudden chill races up your spine. You stop for a moment to look down the alley, but there's no immediate thing jumping into your vision.

"Aoi, what's up?" Patting your shoulder, Renko also looks down the alley. "Something the matter?"

"Ah... No, I just thought I saw something that wasn't there. I'm fine."

Nodding, Renko urges you along, and the group keeps moving.

"I kind of hate to say it, but-" Shrugging her shoulders, Renko lets out a small laugh. "It looks like we don't have much anywhere to go other than to the mansion."

A gloomy spell hangs around Mary for a moment, and you begin to consider what might wait at the mansion. Though none of you have really talked about it, something terrifying happened last night. Something that you're much better off not mentioning. The mansion's nothing more than an ill omen by this point.

"Well, there's no time like now."

Saying that crude expression, Renko picks up the pace and heads towards the mansion, whose top is now barely visible. You and Mary catch up and hang by either of her sides, both visibly dreading the place you call "home". In no time at all, the three of you arrive and are in through the front doors.

"...Hello?"

"Hello." One of the maids, a petite girl in a french maid's uniform, answers Mary's call. "Welcome home."

"Ah..." Mary looks a little taken back, staring at the girl before you doubtfully. "...Um, is Mrs. Han home?"

The maid nods her head, and motions for Mary to follow. Mary, in turn, motions for you to stay put, and trots after the girl.

You look over at Renko. She looks back at you. At once, you give a mutual shrug and make your way towards the garden at the back of the building. Once there, the two of you sit by a bed of roses and remain awkwardly quiet for a short time, unable to say anything to eachother.

"...So, uh." Renko is, of course, the one to make the first move. "...Should we tell Mary any time soon?"

"Tell her what... Oh, right." Your knees instinctively get closer together, in an attempt to keep from shaking. "...Maybe later. I think it's too soon to tell her."

Renko leans back and nods, turning her attention up towards the setting sun and the rising moon. Her eyes seem to be calculating something, and then return to normal once more. With a sigh, she shakes her head.

"I'm learning to hate the night. Nothing good ever comes out of it."

"...Yeah."

The two of you fall silent once more, and for a while it actually seems comfortable to sit like this, not saying a thing. Renko then shatters the peace by standing up, and giving you a small smile.

"I'm gonna go take a shower." She takes a few steps towards the mansion, then stops. "...We, we aren't really that close yet, so... I mean, if we were, taking a shower together would be... nice."

Saying that, she hurries through the garden and goes into the mansion, leaving you alone with the setting sun and the rising moon.

[ ] She shouldn't take too long. Might as well stay here.
[ ] Explore the rest of the mansion's grounds.
[ ] Go inside and look for Mary.
>> No. 21923
[x] Go inside and look for Mary.

Not exactly comfortable with Leaving Mary alone for too long considering all that's happened. And something was in that Alley, just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. This much is certainly true when we're talking about Youkai.

And Ren's such a tease...
>> No. 21924
[X] Go inside and look for Mary.
-[X] Might also want to check up on Mom.

Make sure nobody's planning another summoning ritual.
>> No. 21926
[X] Go inside and look for Mary.
-[X] Might also want to check up on Mom.

While I don't think Ms. Han is so stupid as to try to exterminate an out-of-control demon with another demon, I think we should do as much as feasible to show that we're keeping Mary close now, so that she doesn't fall into the same trap of paranoid suspicion that we fell into ourselves.

If that can't be done right now, then just 'Go inside and look for Mary'.
>> No. 21933
[X] Go inside and look for Mary.
-[X] Might also want to check up on Mom.

> Try to exterminate an out-of-control demon with another demon.

It might be possible, we just need one that really hates Yukari and can match her in terms of power.
>> No. 21936
File 127407166378.jpg - (908.07KB, 625x1043, mostly harmful.jpg) [iqdb]
21936
[x] Explore the rest of the mansion's grounds.
-[x] Head inside and join Renko.

Well then, it's time to get closer.

>>21933
>It might be possible, we just need one that really hates Yukari and can match her in terms of power.
Why, I've got just the person. Man, this is a GREAT idea.
>> No. 21937
[ø] Go inside and look for Mary.
-[ø] Might also want to check up on Mom.
>> No. 21939
Hey, that actually is a good idea. Yuka has nothing against the Hans. We just need to stay out of her way, exclaim how much we frickin love flowers, and point her in Yukari's general direction. Cue ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny.

Now, how will we evacuate the city...
>> No. 21986
This week's been sort of stressful, and I'll be gone on Friday and Saturday. As a result, the only update this week will probably be on Thursday. I'm going to try and update on Sunday and do better next week though, so until then.
>> No. 21987
Okay, general fucking around of others wore me out and now I'm barely coherent over extended periods of typing. So I'm just gonna cut it short here and say: Seeya on Sunday.
>> No. 21999
>>21987
>Seeya on Sunday.

Hooray!
>> No. 22016
Sighing inwardly, you get to your feet and enter the mansion. The halls seem cold and void of life at first, but eventually a maid or two will walk through, stomping off to their next duty. Their presence only makes the halls feel colder, though. Their movements are all the same, as if programmed to coordinate, and their eyes all carry a steely glare in them. As a result, you try your hardest to avoid eye contact.

Continuing to walk through the mansion, you head upstairs to look through some of the bedrooms for Mary. There's no trace of her to be found, other than one particularly informative maid who tells you that she's in the mansion. You pass by a bathroom which is in use and determine that Renko is in it, but, besides that, you can't find anybody other than the steely maids.

A brief search of the first floor is equally useless, and you find yourself baffled as to where anybody else may be. It's then that an idea forms, and you're soon creeping your way down towards Mary's underground library. No noise can be heard on the other side of the library door, though there's definitely sounds nearby. Searching along the wall, you find the hidden door and enter the torture chamber.

"It's no good. These 'tools of tradition'... You can see the harm they've already caused!" Throwing her arms out, your mother shakes her head at Mary. "If it weren't for these, then maybe... Maybe recent events would have never happened."

Mary remains focused on you and the now open door, staring with slight boredom into your eyes. Junko seems to be perplexed for a second or two before turning around. She lets out a gasp, then bows her head apologetically.

"I'm sorry, Aoi. I didn't hear you come in... In fact, I didn't know you knew about this room yet."

"Ah... It's okay."

Shrugging your shoulders, you search the room for something to sit on. The only options include a machine with a bunch of restraints on it, and another stool installed to some device you've never even dreamt of before. Shuddering, you decide to just hang close to the wall.

"...I'm really sorry. I should've been the one to tell you about this room." Fidgeting, your mother looks towards the ground and twirls a lock of hair around one finger. "I was about to, but then the incident..."

"...You're right, this place sucks." For a moment there's a pause, and then your mother's eyes light up at what Mary just said. "To be blunt, this place is nothing but bad memories. We should... Maybe fill it in with dirt. After crushing everything in here with one of those car crushing machines."

"Mary...!" Honestly shocked, Junko shakes her head in disbelief. "Am I hearing this right? You honestly want to get rid of this place, too?"

Mary nods, then makes her way towards the open door. She leaves you and your mother without a word, vanishing up the steps outside. The two of you share an awkward silence and then follow her up the steps. She's already left, and a nearby maid says that she was heading towards her room.

"...I'll just..." In an indecisive sort of way, your mother seems to shrug back and forth over her options. "...I'll just head to my room. I'm going to try and find out something more about this Yukari woman."

With that said, she also heads up the stairs. As she vanishes into the hallway, a familiar chill runs down your spine. It gives you the idea that it's not good to be alone.

[ ] Look for a fresh and clean Renko.
[ ] Try to find Mary.
[ ] Hurry after your mother.
>> No. 22017
Hard choice here....
>> No. 22018
[x] Hurry after your mother.
[x] Where's Nyom?
>> No. 22019
>"...I'll just..." In an indecisive sort of way, your mother seems to shrug back and forth over her options. "...I'll just head to my room. I'm going to try and find out something more about this Yukari woman."

[x] Hurry after your mother.

It might be time to come clean regarding Aoi's interactions with Yukari. Junko is already deeply involved in trying to remove Yukari, so keeping her out of the loop benefits no one. Moreover we can make sure she keeps Aoi in on her end, rather than keeping mum in a misguided attempt to protect Aoi.

As for the other options, we have an idea where Mary is, but she didn't make any signs or signals to indicate for Aoi to follow her, quickly leaving without comment. It's likely she's doing magical research as a result of this conversation with Junko, so she might not want to be interrupted.

Waylaying Renko as she gets out of the shower is tempting, but Aoi can do that any day.
>> No. 22020
[x] Hurry after your mother.
[x] Where's Nyom?
>> No. 22021
[X] Hurry after your mother.

We already know more about Yukari than her, and we can dissuade her from doing something rash (again).
>> No. 22026
[X] Hurry after your mother.
[X] Where's Nyom?

> As she vanishes into the hallway, a familiar chill runs down your spine. It gives you the idea that it's not good to be alone.

I think we're being watched...
That, or Yukari/Theta is close.
>> No. 22034
Adding:
[x] Where's Nyom?

I totally forgot about that little guy.
>> No. 22035
[X] Try to find Mary.

Her outburst indicates to me that her emotions are in a bit of turmoil at the moment and I think after the beginnings at laying a groundwork for our friendship that we did earlier today we should be there for her to vent if she wants and just let her feel that she is important to us. She's still got a prickly shell between us and her and the only way we're going to get past that is by interacting with her when she isn't composed enough to keep us at a distance.
I don't really see what our mother can do at the moment. While I don't want to keep her out of this since she isn't going to stay out of harm's way anyway, to me fostering our fragile new relationship with Mary is more important right now.
>not good to be alone.
I'd say this goes more for Mary than anyone else, and she's most likely to actively avoid company if we don't force ours on her.

First time voter here. I'm really enjoying this story. Can't wait for the continuation.
>> No. 22036
>>22035
>First time voter here. I'm really enjoying this story. Can't wait for the continuation.

...Man, it'd be awesome if you guys knew just how great a writer feels after seeing a comment like this. In any case, planning to update a little later tonight.
>> No. 22037
> Planning to update a little later tonight.

Preparing to 'Yukari rage'.
>> No. 22040
That chill running up your spine really is discomforting. Not wanting to stay as you are any longer, you make your way up the steps and follow after your mother. A short jog down the hall brings you to her, and she turns to face you with a look of mild surprise.

"Ah... Yes, did I forget something...?"

She looks taken back, and makes no effort to hide her perplexed expression. You sigh inwardly and shake your head, taking a step to tell her to keep on walking.

"No, that's not it. I just felt like tagging along." You shrug your shoulders and flash a slightly mischievous smile in Junko's direction. "Besides, you said you were going to find out more about that Yukari, and I think I might be able to help."

She appears nervous at first, then seems to calm down. She mutters a small "Alright, then" and the two of you continue towards her room in a mostly unbroken silence. The two maids by her door concern you at first, but you understand that she's concerned about protection at this time.

Stepping into the room, you notice that there's been a number of changes since you had last been in here. The furniture is mostly in the same position, though things like the blinds and cloths have changed designs over time. More noticeable is a pile of black leather bound books stacked on her desk, along with a journal which is open to a sketch of the large magic circle that was in the entrance hall. Junko quickly picks the book up and flips to another page, where a photocopy of a page from some book has been attached with a paperclip.

"...Well, then." With a small cough, she tries to dissolve the awkward air formed by this situation. "The text right here... This is Latin, one of the few foreign languages I know bits and pieces of."

You look at the strange scribbles, then to her. Looking back and forth once more, you can feel a doubtful grimace creep over your face.

"Right. This writing means... Let's see..." Lifting the paper, she looks at a list of notes jotted down beneath the photocopy. "It explains a bit more of that wicked woman's ways."

Breathing in once, she clears her throat for what you know will be something far over your head.

"You see, she apparently had some ties to a secretive cult, one that practiced sacrifices very often. One of your... Of Mary's father's relatives had been caught up in this nonsense, and recorded everything he needed to know about these strange rituals in one of the Han records." She pauses to catch her breath, then continues to ramble. "He wasn't too fond of everyone knowing what he was up to exactly, so he wrote many things in dead languages, including Latin. This page is an entry from a diary of his, and it mentions that the book containing the information has been passed down from generation to generation of the family, and that the information concerning Yukari had been moved to another book entirely."

"...What was the book called?"

"Serious Heralding of Intelligent Terrestrials."

With that, your head falls to hit the desk. Of course everything would come back to that stupid book. Telling your mother that nothing's wrong, you rub your forehead lightly and give her an expression that urges her to keep talking.

"...In any case, I need you to get the book from Mary. I can't find it anywhere, so I imagine that she must have it tucked away somewhere..." She looks down, and frowns while shaking her head. "...I feel awful, getting you caught up in all of this..."

"...But why can't you get it from Mary yourself?"

She shrugs visibly, and shakes her head once more.

"She doesn't seem to trust me anymore, and I can understand why. I'm only trying to make this home safe for us again, but... That does involve a lot of snooping around in her belongings. So, I doubt I'd be able to get the book."

You both fall silent for a time, and a loud wind blows by outside the window. Junko sighs once more, and rests a hand on her forehead. You only watch for a moment, unable to think of a thing to do, and when you finally reach towards her, she speaks up again.

"...So, just don't make her hate you when you get that book. The last thing she needs is to hate her whole family... Poor girl."

A little dumbfounded, you look down at your hands and fumble your fingers around clumsily. There isn't much anything left to say that you could manage to get past your lips. It's about that time that you notice your ghostly companion is missing.

[ ] Go look for Renko to help you.
[ ] Go look for Mary alone.
[ ] Go look for Myon.
>> No. 22041
[c] Go look for Myon.

You mean Nyom, right? Either way, I miss this fellow already ;__;
>> No. 22042
>>22041

Right, Nyom. Things like this happen when you write at 1 AM, I guess.
>> No. 22043
[x] Go look for Nyom.
[x] Go look for Renko to help you.
>> No. 22044
[X] Go look for Renko to help you.
[X] Go look for Myon.

So we're going to ask Maribel for her book of S.H.I.T? Not with that wording of course, that would be awkward.

> She apparently had some ties to a secretive cult, one that practiced sacrifices very often.

I'm getting the feeling that Yukari isn't acting completely out of her own free will at the moment now that I know this. Did the cult involve the Nazi's?
>> No. 22045
>>22044
Hard to say, but I get the feeling that Yukari wants to enact some payback on both the Hans and Layla.

The Hans for basically using her as a wish machine if not sex toy as well

And Layla for going and learning magic without her supervision.

I still want to find out more about that shrine the Hans' cult went against. Mainly due to my suspicions that it was The outside world's Hakurei Shrine
>> No. 22046
[X] Go look for Myon.

I'm torn between this and looking for Mary but if we go to her the fact that our mother asked us to get the book will come out sooner or later and I'd rather not she think that's the only reason we sought her out. She's bound to be looking for the least positive interpretations after all that's happened and with all the guilt she's carrying so she might require a bit of care dealing with.
In short I don't want to go to her with any hidden goals because she's probably looking for them.
>> No. 22047
[x] Go look for Nyom.
>> No. 22048
>>22045
An incredibly powerful youkai used and humiliated by humans, reduced to begging and leaving a part of herself to the man who kept her as a sex slave in order for him to let her free.
I'm surprised she didn't annihilate all of japan to show what happens to anyone who does that to her.
>> No. 22049
>>22048

Gensokyo is part of Japan, that's the main reason.
Another reason is somehow trying to explain how Japan suddenly disappeared off the face of the planet. She's powerful, but not powerful enough to take on all of humanity by herself. There's a reason her war against the Lunarians failed, and we managed to fight them off with three men.
>> No. 22050
>>22048
it's not so wide spread, only against the Hans, and seeing how Influential they are in the area, an easy to find target, more so when her 'daughter' summons her to get revenge on dear old daddy.

But unlike the other times, Yukari didn't go back quietly and basically went about plotting things. I'm trying to remember what factor was different in Mary's summoning than her family's. It may be the final sacrifice (IIRC), one whom the summoner cares about. Mary never made that.
>> No. 22051
>It may be the final sacrifice (IIRC), one whom the summoner cares about. Mary never made that.

Eliza, possibly
>> No. 22057
>>22051
Possibly, but I suspect she was trying to butter up Aoi for that spot originally as a way to cheat the system and Yukari might have killed Eliza just to punish her attempt at cheating.

The scary part might be what if it's that final sacrifice that forces Yukari to go back?
>> No. 22060
>>22057
And what if we fail to find another way to keep her from menacing the family. Could be an unpleasant choice of what to do there.
>> No. 22062
[x] Go look for Nyom.

>>22049
Where was that detailed in Touhou canon, again?
>> No. 22065
>>22060
You mean Maribel; Junko is just in the way. Aoi's more connected to the Layla matter. I do wonder what happened to Mr.Han's first wife.

>>22049
The Lunarians have never really waged an offensive against earth, but more defensive measures. And it's hard to tell how they're really fighting against earth if there's no trace in history. That is unless those unusual things like the Challenger explosion or Apollo 13 were Lunarian caused.
>> No. 22067
"Well then, I'll be leaving."

Standing up, you politely make a quick bowing gesture and exit the room. The hallway outside feels cold and desolate, even with the two maids keeping watch by the door. One of them gives you a sideways glance, and you bow your head a little as you trot away from them. After gaining some distance you slow to a simple walk and enter the foyer. Remembering the hall Renko was down you make a quick dash towards where she may be. You reach the door and knock once. Hearing no answer, you try to turn the knob and open the door.

The first thing you see is a white haze flying towards you. You can't help but take a few steps back and let out a yelp before recognizing it. Creeping back a bit, Nyom curls into a curious shape. Nobody is in the bathroom, but at least you've got your companion back... And that chill down your spine.

Ignoring the chill, you speak to your ghost friend. "Nyom... Did you see where Renko went?"

The wisp's head bobs once, and it points down the hall. You pat what you think is its "head", if a ghost like this could have one, and proceed down the hall with Nyom at your side. Strolling along, you eventually hear a TV in a room to your left. You knock once, but the person on the other side doesn't answer. A quick peek in the room shows that someone had left the TV on and left. You switch it off and head back to the front of the mansion.

Scratching your head, you look around the entryway and wonder where Renko could have gone to. A moment later you've headed towards the garden, figuring that she could be waiting for you there. This idea proves false, since the only thing waiting for you outside is the same scene you left earlier.

After a little more searching, you return to the hall you had been in before and spot a maid cleaning the bathroom Renko had been in. Running up to her, you're frozen into place by the ice cold stare they all seem to possess.

"...Can I help you, Master Watarase?"

"Um... Yes. Renko was using this bathroom earlier, do you happen to know where she-"

"Miss Usami left a while ago. She said told one of the other maids to pass on the message that her parents told her to get back, and to apologize to both you and Miss Maribel."

"...I see. Well, um... Keep up the good work?"

The maid nods absently and goes back to cleaning. You're a little offended that she cut you off while you were speaking, and that she didn't immediately tell you what Renko wanted to tell you. There's not much you can do about that, though, so you turn around and take a few steps toward the entryway.

[ ] Ask the maid where Mary is.
[ ] Head back to your room to take a break.
[ ] Head back to the basement to look for the book.
>> No. 22068
[c] Head back to your room to take a break.
>> No. 22070
[x] Ask the maid where Mary is.
[x] Check the basement room to ensure no funny business is going on, then:
[x] Head back to your room to take a break.

I wonder if the maid is lying.

>>22065
An offensive? I never said anything about that.

And furthermore, I wasn't challenging you or calling that into question. I was asking a serious question: Where is it? I've heard references made to it, I've seen one or two bits of fanart of it, but I don't know where it was written or said.

So... where is that detailed? Cage? Bohemian? PMiSS? 3 Fairies? CoLA? SSiB?
TELL ME
NOW
NOW
>> No. 22071
>>22070
I don't think she is, I think Renko's parents found out about Hikari disappearing. Though the way the maids are is rather spooky.

And I didn't mean to retort your point and I'm trying to remember where the supposed Lunarian/Earth war is referenced (most likely CiLR or such)

[x] Ask the maid where Mary is.
[x] Head back to the basement to look for the book.
>> No. 22072
[x] Ask the maid where Mary is.

and if she doesn't know then
[x] Head back to the basement to look for the book.

If we happen to run into Mary (assuming the maids are not helpful in finding her) we can bring up the book without seeming like we were approaching her with a hidden agenda.
Either way, spending some time with her seems more important than the book atm.
>> No. 22074
We also have to be careful talking about the book as well, as I don't think Yukari even knows of its existence. That will be her first target once she finds out.
>> No. 22075
Yeah but I kinda doubt Yukari's really mucking about at the mansion at the moment.
>> No. 22076
>>22075

There's still Theta.
>> No. 22077
[X] Ask the maid where Mary is.

I'm more interested in getting Mary to open up to Aoi than finding that book.
>> No. 22078
Already wrote the update when the last vote was made, so I'm gonna go ahead and post it in a minute.
>> No. 22079
File 127519159635.jpg - (141.19KB, 452x700, Just a generic maid.jpg) [iqdb]
22079
You pause for a moment, then turn back to look at the maid. She continues to clean, not seeming to pay any attention to you at all. Taking a few steps towards her, you try to see if she responds. As you get within five feet of her, she finally speaks up.

"Can I help you with something?"

"Yes... Where's Mary right now?"

The maid pauses for a moment and looks thoughtfully around. A few seconds pass and she's set down her tools and is now tapping her forehead, trying to think of an answer.

"...I can't say for sure, but I believe that another maid saw her enter Mr. Han's study a short while ago. I haven't seen her since I heard that."

"Okay, thank you."

Trying to stay brief, you quickly distance yourself from the maid. Something about her is simply unsettling, and getting as far away from these servants as you can seems like a golden plan. Considering that, you decide to head for the basement, and Mary's library.

You dart down the stairs and head off to the right, entering the hallway with the staircase in it. Nyom flies through the door before you can open it, and, as you enter the staircase, you see the ghostly thing hover by the entrance to the library. A little shaken, you take more time to descend the basement steps, and soon find yourself at the door with Nyom.

With one motion you enter the room, shut the door, and let out a large breath. Confident that you're away from any suspicious eyes, you look over the large collection of books in this small space. It may not be as many books as is in the normal library, but it's still a lot to look through. Giving Nyom a pat on the head, you walk over to one bookcase and begin your search.

A few minutes pass, and you've found no results. As you pan over the last of the books, you discover that the book you're looking for really isn't in this room. Just to be sure you make one more check, albeit sloppier than the first. You feel a little cold as you look at the large collection of books, and realize that Mary really must have the one you've been searching for.

Giving up on the search, you exit the place and head back up the stairs, making a turn into the main entrance. You're moving a little sluggishly, which is to be expected after a fruitless search. Sighing, you plop down into a chair and look at the ground, then noticing a set of scrapes leading towards the hallway with the basement stairs. They must be... from that first night, when all of this started.

"Ugh..."

Unable to hold you disgust in, you moan that word as you stand up and ascend the stairs once more. The last thing you need to be thinking about is Yukari, or any one of her subordinates. Unfortunately, you find yourself thinking about them just because you don't want to. It's then that you realize that they haven't caused you much harm at all today.

Chalking that up as one small victory, you head back into the hallway and see that the maid from before is just now finishing up with the bathroom, and she's about ready to head your way with her cart of cleaning tools. Taking a step back, you try to hide yourself from her sight.

[ ] Be stealthy and follow the creepy maid.
[ ] Forget about her and find Mary.
[ ] Go find some way to relax.
>> No. 22080
[x] Be stealthy and follow the creepy maid.

Searching completely at random in this house isn't likely to do any good and the maids are bothering me.
>> No. 22081
[x] Forget about her and find Mary.

I'm getting a bad feeling about the whole thing.
>> No. 22082
[x] Forget about her and find Mary.
>> No. 22084
Figure I may as well call it... At 3 votes. Expect an update some time in the next few hours.
>> No. 22085
Backing off, you decide to go look for Mary. The maid told you earlier that she went into Mr. Han's study, and that she had been in there for some time. It would then make sense for her to still be in there, wouldn't it? Nodding, you reassure yourself and promptly relocate yourself to the other hall. A short stroll down it brings you to another hall, still with no sign of the maid from before anywhere nearby.

A short walk brings you to the door to Mr. Han's study, which looks mostly like any other door in the hallway. Being cautious, you check around to make sure that you aren't being watched. You then lean close to the door and listen breathlessly for any hint at somebody still in the room, reassuring yourself that you aren't overly paranoid. A few seconds pass, and the sound of a turning page can be heard, along with someone's silenced "Oh."

Confident enough now that it's Mary in there, you knock lightly on the door. It sounds like she pushed back in her chair, and the silence lingers. A moment later she asks, "Who is it?"

"Aoi."

"...Come in."

You sigh inwardly as you turn the knob and enter the room, quickly pushing the door shut behind you. Mary looks up at you with one eyebrow hardly raised, then looks back to the book she's holding. On top of one of the pages is what appears to be a small journal, with the initials G.H. in bright red on the front of it. Taking a seat, you breathe a little more calmly and watch as Mary flips through the journal, looking between it and the large book in front of her.

She sighs, shakes her head, and closes the books. It's then that you notice the title on the larger book is the same as the one you're supposed to be looking for. Trying to pay little attention to this, you look back up at Mary.

"Are you frustrated?"

"...Yes." At once she seems to deflate, and rests her head on one hand. "I've been sitting here for a while now, trying to figure out something really important... No matter how I look at things, though, the answer is always the same."

She remains frozen for a moment, and then stands up, snatching up the books with her. You also stand, and follow her as she walks to the door and leaves the study behind.

"...I don't like that room, but it's one of the few places I can be without those maids spying on me." Shrugging, she lets her face droop a little. "I'm just so tired of them now. I really miss Eliza and the other maids."

"Yeah... The new maids are kind of creepy. It feels like they're always watching you when you look away. It's just... unsettling."

Mary manages a nod, and continues walking until she stops at what you recognize as the door to a small TV room. You follow her in and take a seat on the couch, and you're a bit surprised when she sits down next to you. After a moment of hesitation you turn the TV on to some show about spoiled children. Lowering the volume, you look back at Mary.

"So, what are you going to do about those books now?"

"I'm probably just going to hide them under my pillow." Looking down, she swings one of her legs a little. "It's the safest place there is now, since they'd probably vanish if I left them alone..."

[ ] Offer to hide the larger book for her.
[ ] Ask her how she felt about things earlier today.
[ ] Ask her how she feels about Junko.
>> No. 22086
[x] Ask her how she felt about things earlier today.
[x] Offer to hide the larger book for her.

I think she could use a shoulder of support
>> No. 22087
[x] Offer to hide the larger book for her.
[x] Ask her how she felt about things earlier today.

Slow THP is slow.

Also, I see what did there, Nine. Thought you didn't make it subtle, so I guess that was kind of the point.
>> No. 22088
>>22087

...Er, though, not thought. Need to start using a password so I can delete my posts.
>> No. 22089
[x] Ask her how she felt about things earlier today.

Most importantly. And then

[x] Ask her how she feels about Junko.

If she seems like it won't upset her then

[x] Tell her Junko wants her S.H.I.T. and ask if she can let her borrow it for a while.

I don't think telling her we'll hide the book for her and then handing it to our mother whom she has a shaky relationship with atm is the best move while trying to rebuild our relationship.

Also, it's a little late but the sex scene you wrote for this story is one of my all time favourites. They were so adorable I had to take a break from reading a few times because my face was overheating.
>> No. 22090
>they'd probably vanish if I left them alone...
As much as I want some more alone time with Renko that did make me d'aww a bit. She's feeling lonely ;_;
>> No. 22091
>>22089
I think the original plan of Aoi's is to look it over himself first before deciding to hand it to his mother.
>> No. 22093
[x] Ask her how she felt about things earlier today.
[x] Ask her how she feels about Junko.
[x] Tell her Junko wants her S.H.I.T. and ask if she can let her borrow it for a while.

Let's not over-dramatize what might be an innocuous request. Mary knows more about the contents than you, and you've decided to trust her now, so it should be Mary making the decision on what to do. We probably can't even read it.
>> No. 22095
[x] >>22093
>> No. 22096
Calling it for the larger vote. Expect an update within the next 3 hours.
>> No. 22098
File 127534844453.jpg - (317.64KB, 850x1172, (un)Merryberry.jpg) [iqdb]
22098
"...Hey. About earlier today..." Lacing your fingers together, you turn to look at Mary. "...How do you feel about what's happened?"

"...I'm glad. Not just because of what Renko did, but... Everything just felt so relaxed." The ends of her lips curl up as she continues to speak. "...I had a good time."

You nod your agreement, and grow silent. Considering what had happened, you also feel happy. Not that you treated Mary special, or that Renko had found little trinkets to remember that time by... The reason you're genuinely happy is because Mary's smile has returned.

"But, still..." Shifting her legs uncomfortably, Mary looks back towards you. "Sometimes, Renko seems... a little artificial. Is she putting on an act for me, or something else like that?"

"Ah... Well, I don't know. I'd have to say... Maybe." Loosely crossing your arms, you continue to speak. "I think it isn't just for you, though. She tends to put on a different face when she's with more than one person, so I guess that's just how she is."

At this point, Mary's smile falters. Her face becomes neutral, and her attention shifts down to her knees.

"Renko can be really sweet when she's the only other person... I never really get to see how anybody else is alone, though. Except for back there with... your mother."

"Ah. No, no no no." Waving a hand, you feel an icy sensation on your chest from her words. "Don't get things wrong. My mom isn't mean or anything, she just... I guess she doesn't think you want to get along with her."

Mary bites her lip, and stays quiet. The chatter from the program on the TV hums faintly in the background as you wait for an answer, which still hasn't come a minute later. Gently swinging one foot, you look from the TV to Mary, and see that she's finally looking at you.

"...Does she want to get along with me?"

"...Yes, she does. I just guess she's not too good at showing it." You press your hands against the soft cushion of the seat and continue to speak. "She really does want to be your mother, too. If you talked to her, then maybe you could... Make something work, maybe?"

"...Maybe."

She falls silent once more, but she doesn't seem as sad this time. Sighing outwardly, you glance over at the book you were supposed to get. You honestly don't know if you can get a hold of it now, since just asking Mary if Junko could use it may not be the best idea at this time. It could still be worth a shot, but...

"...You want to borrow my book, don't you?" Speaking suddenly, Mary all at once recaptures your attention. "You were staring at it so intently, so it seems kind of obvious."

"Ah... Well, I don't really..." Looking into her eyes, you can see that she knows how you feel by now. "...Yeah. I want to borrow it."

She continues to stare into your eyes for a moment, as if she were checking to see if she can trust you or not. A cold sensation swipes your hand, and, yelping, you pull your hand up. In Mary's extended hand is a familiar knife... Which is the same one she had threatened you with before.

"I don't care what you do with the book. There's nothing for me to learn from it, anyway." Looking a little upset, she presses the closed knife into your hand. "You need to hide this somewhere where I won't see it, though. It doesn't have to be off in the woods or anything, just... I want you to make it disappear."

Nodding, you pocket the knife. Mary picks up the large tome and hands it over to you, and pauses for a moment with her hands still on the book.

"...In the past, I was really bitter towards you." She frowns, and her grip on the book tightens. "I even threatened to hurt you just a few days ago. Despite that, you've started acting so nice, and you've treated me like a friend... Why?"

[ ] "You're my sister now. I have no choice but to love my family."
[ ] "The same reason I want you to talk to Junko. So we can all be happy together."
[ ] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."
>> No. 22099
Whoops. Just now noticed I had put my tripcode in wrong, haha. Talk about being a nineball.
>> No. 22100
>Glorious updating speed
fuckyear!

[ø] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

Can't hate Mary.
>> No. 22101
[X] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

So sweet. I also am loving the fast updates.
>> No. 22102
[X] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

Is it me, or do those other two choices seem a little shallow?
>> No. 22103
>>22102

Probably. I was thinking that somebody might make a brilliant write-in while I made those options, so that's my bad.
>> No. 22104
[x] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

>>22099
EX Nineball that is.
>> No. 22105
[x] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."
>> No. 22106
[X] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

Sure she was a bit of a dick at the start, but I'm willing to place all that on Yukari's influence.
>> No. 22109
[x] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

I want to beliieeve!
>> No. 22111
Mary~

[x] "It's because... I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

It's love or hate, baby!

Besides, why would we hate on Mary when we can hate on Yukari?
>> No. 22112
>>22106
There's other things like her father, and a mix of a otherwise high pressure/spoiling life. The series of events of this story stripped away the bitter shell, revealing the vunerable girl within.
>> No. 22128
"It's because..." You take a moment to consider your own feelings, and smile. "...I can't hate you, Mary. I've found out who you really are, and that's a person that I can't hate, no matter what."

She all at once lets go of the book, and a look of surprise spreads over her face. The edges of her eyes get a little wet, and for a moment she does nothing. A few more seconds pass and she starts to wipe her eyes, beaming with happiness.

"...Thanks, Aoi. That means a lot."

You're a little taken back by the sight, but you manage a smile despite yourself. With a nod you stand, and look awkwardly off to the left. There isn't a whole lot to say now, other than...

"...Maybe we can watch TV together, after I throw the knife out."

"...I'd like that."

Leaving it at that you turn towards the door and exit the room. Walking quickly, you dart down the hallway and pass one of the maids on the way to where you last saw your mother. The trip seems to take all of five seconds, feeling as elated as you do.

Approaching the door, you give it two loud knocks, and a voice tells you to come in. As you shut the door behind you you look at Junko, who seems a little surprised by what you have in your hands.

"...You were able to get it from her, after all?"

"Yeah, I was." You set the book down on a small table and continue to speak. "You will have to spend some time talking things out with her, though."

Junko nods, and walks over to get the book. She flips through a few pages and nods confidently before closing the book once more. Setting it down once more, she sighs and holds a hand to her head.

"I thought I'd never get to see this book. If things turn out as I hope, then it will shed light on what Yukari really is, and how I can finally get rid of her..."

Most of this goes in one ear and passes out the other for you. So long as she doesn't pull another stunt like the one from the other night, then you have no problem with her using the book how she pleases.

"I'll need some time to look over this tome and research it, so I'll have to ask you to leave, unfortunately."

You nod your understanding. It makes plenty of sense that she'd need to be alone to really read something like that. It probably isn't a really dry subject, but it still must be one that's hard to comprehend. Quietly excusing yourself, you go back into the hallway. Your hand immediately finds the pocket knife and grips it, and you wonder what exactly you should do with it.

[ ] Hide it inside of the mansion.
[ ] Hide it in the garden.
[ ] Hide it at gate.
[ ] Hide it in a gutter on the street.
>> No. 22129
[x] Hide it at gate.

Not too easy for someone else to find, but not too inaccessible in case we need it again.
>> No. 22133
D'awwww

[ø] Hide it at gate.
>> No. 22134
[x] Hide it at gate.

I don't have any better ideas so gonna go with the majority here.
>> No. 22135
[x] Hide it at the gate.

Well, I bet Junko totally isn't going to do something terrible and/or unwise. Good thing we have no idea about what's happening, there!

I thought we were going to look the damn thing over first, or think about what to do with it, or something?
>> No. 22137
>>22135
I was hoping that Aoi would do that myself. Junko means well, but doesn't have any idea of what she's about to get neck deep in.
>> No. 22139
>"...I don't like that room, but it's one of the few places I can be without those maids spying on me."

I just thought about this in the context of her and her father. And then I frowned.

[x] Hide it at gate.

Now we just need someone to guard it.
>> No. 22143
>>22139
Yeah... well he's dead and buried; one can't say Yukari didn't do any favors, but her bad has far outweighed the good.
>> No. 22145
>>22143

But Chen had one of the first dead maids as a zombie servant. And I'm sure Yukari still has some more 'plans' with Maribel's dad.

However, since he was a doush, Yukari can do whatever she wants with him. As long as it stays out of our way in any shape or form, except maybe as a passing comment.
>> No. 22149
>>22145
I don't think Yukari would care to touch him again after tearing him to bits... and I think I know which part she tore off first.
>> No. 22151
The garden... No, the gate sounds like a perfect place to hide this knife. As you walk slowly down the hallway, a feeling of dread slowly creeps up the small of your back and travels down your arm, resting in the hand holding the pocket knife. Swallowing hard, you quicken your pace. Something doesn't feel too right about this thing, and the sooner you've gotten rid of it, the better. With those words in your head, you step out the mansion's front doors.

The night sky is dry and unwelcoming. The moon sits overhead, in a position that makes it seem to watch over the whole mansion, and to be staring intently at you. For a moment you could swear that it was a giant eye instead of the moon, but the illusion quickly fades.

You hustle past shrubs and flowers, ignoring the landscape all around you. Dread continues to build up in your chest, and the knife feels warm. Your throat begins to dry as you reach the gate, and you can't help but feel that Yukari has some role in the cursed aura that the small object in your hand projects. Your other hand flies over a few bricks that make up the bottom of the gate, and eventually finds one that has start to come loose. A few anxious kicks knock it loose, and you stash the knife in the small nook beneath the stone. Replacing the stone, that feeling of dread continues to hold tight to your chest, not wavering a moment.

A rustle in the bushes grabs your attention, and that familiar chill once more runs down your back. If you weren't sure of it before, you're now certain that somebody has been keeping a close eye on you through the day, and will now probably make it known just who they are.

"...H-hello? Is someone over there?" Talking with a dry throat is difficult, and you have to push yourself to speak anyway. "If you're a stalker or something, I'll call the police right now. So show yourself, or I'll... The police! I'm going to call the police!"

The bushes remain still, and, after a minute or two of preparation, you build up the nerve to approach them. Searching through the bushes proves that there is no stalker nearby, or anybody else. Relaxing a bit, you sigh and take a few steps back.

An explosion near your foot sets you back on your toes, and a scream escapes your mouth. As you turn to look at what caused the sudden noise, you see that a considerable chunk of the ground now in front of you has been forced up, and all that remains is a deep hole. Searching around the mansion's yard shows no immediate sign of an attacker, so you make a run for the front door.

Another explosion. This one sends you sprawling onto your back, though it doesn't make you scream. With your eyes wide you look up, and finally catch a glimpse of the person who has been standing behind the gate. It's too dark to identify them, but a red light flows freely from their eyes, and a dark will looms over their head.

"Now, run straight at him!"

Those words are spoken in a child's voice, and seem to come from the side of the mansion wall. Before you can react the figure has started to dash towards you, and their hand is holding the knife you had just hidden away. Your arm instantly reaches into your pocket and finds the wand, and you hold it out in front of you. The figure pays no attention to this and slices at you, scraping the wand instead of your body. You stand and run for cover behind a tree, wanting to be hidden from this madman. Something flies past your head, and the knife becomes neatly lodged in the center of the tree. You turn to face your pursuer, who you can finally identify thanks to the light of the mansion.

It's that maid of Mary's. The one who was being controlled by the demon cat. Eliza.

She makes another lunge towards you, and you swipe at her arm with the wand. The bone in the arm cracks, then continues to crack as it puts itself back together. Getting desperate, you run for shelter behind the tree once more. There's another thunk in the tree's bark, but it's made by a clawed hand this time.

"I'm not going to let you get away! Not after having to track you all day, waiting for a chance to make a move!"

The cat girl's face has contorted into a kind of angry smile, with her fangs sticking up over her other teeth. You take a step back and run forward again, swinging the pointed tips of the wand at her. The point tears into her shirt and runs along her arm, not doing much to hurt her. A little blood appears, but she seems to be perfectly stable.

"Come on, I've been bored all day. At least make things interesting for me and my doll!"

Saying that she casts a sharp glare towards Eliza, who had been standing still until now. She moves swiftly in your direction once more, and lines up for a punch. You take a step back and start to fall, but you can see her fist gradually heading towards your face. Time seems to grow longer, and you take a second to think.

[ ] Swipe the pointed wand against her fist.
[ ] Try to kick her on your way down.
[ ] Her legs are wide open. Run between them, fast!
>> No. 22152
The wand slices right through, even though the wound regenerates. Slicing the hand off completely might work however, and I think its better than the chance of knocking her over with an airborne kick.

[x] Swipe the pointed wand against her fist.
[x] Ask the cat girl what happened that Yukari is now letting her attack her.

Obviously this is Chen using her nekomata powers again, but it seems like she's been given free reign now. Or at least Ran in desperation is doing the same thing Chen was before, violating orders.
>> No. 22153
[x] Swipe the pointed wand against her fist.
[x] Transform!

Because I want to know what Magical Boy Blue looks like.
>> No. 22154
[x] Swipe the pointed wand against her fist.
[x] Ask the cat girl what happened that Yukari is now letting her attack her.

She might be doing things purely on her own.
>> No. 22155
[X] A dead cat is fine too.
>> No. 22156
[x] Her legs are wide open. Run between them, fast!

Don't generally want to get into contests of strength with the walking dead so rely on speed instead.
>> No. 22159
[x] Swipe the pointed wand against her fist.
[x] Ask the cat girl what happened that Yukari is now letting her attack her.
>> No. 22165
Sorry about the lack of updates. Something came up, but I should be back to a good schedule starting tomorrow.
>> No. 22171
New thread, because I felt that it was appropriate.

>>/border/22170
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