[x] See how this turns out. You don't want to cause any trouble, and you think Ken will help you for now.
You'll just watch for now.
“You're nuts,” One of the guys finally calls out, “Have a bit too much to drink?”
Ken laughs. “Nuts? No. I just don't want to have my family starve come fall. Or the rest of this village.”
“So, you want us to pray to some random god?” He asks, “I'll take my chances with the rain.”
“Its not a random god,” Ken says, “This one has been around since my grandfather was first planting. He is real.”
“Real fishy,” The man says, “And is that a youkai next to you?”
“It is. We wouldn't listen, so He chose a different path to make contact.”
You definitely knocked something loose in him, and its... kind of pretty. Almost warm, like the sun.
“I believe you,” Someone else says, showing just a hint of that color. “I've always had my doubts about these new gods.”
“Yeah,” Another says, “I'm with you.”
“I'm not.” The first one to speak up says, causing another wave of murmurs to move through the bar. “You're a fool. Trusting a youkai at its word?”
“I am trusting the proof that it brought, not its word,” Ken continues, “Anything else would be stupid.”
They go back and forth for... a while. Back and forth, with a few other people speaking out every once in a while. Colors are shifting, changing, all over... its really interesting. Something you'll have to think about and remember later. So you're not really paying attention to the words, but the other things.
.Back and forth, back and forth. In the end, you end up with 11 humans total on your side. The rest aren't listening to Ken any more.
“I think you've said your piece,” The man behind the counter says eventually, “I'll have to throw you out if you keep yelling like that.”
Ken... he doesn't like that, you can tell, but he listens. Mostly. “We'll go someplace else, then.” He yells as a final parting sentence, causing those on your side to nod. They stand up with him. “You'll all see. This rain will be over by tomorrow.”
“Yeah, yeah. Don't let the door hit you on your way out,” The original man against him says, getting a fair bit of laughter from the bar.
Ken turns down to you. “Will you let me keep this?”
You nod. You think this is what you're supposed to do with it. Someone knows what it is, and they're going to use it... yes. This is best.
As your group is leaving, Wriggle shows up. “Looks like you found a good one, Phobe.”
Ken gives her a curious look, but Akira speaks up. “I saw them walking in together. There's a few more around here.”
“So, she's with you,” Ken says, nodding. “But, there were more?”
“Yep~” Mystia says, after having squeezed between two bodies to get to where she is. “I'm here. Cirno's coming, too.”
“I should thank you all, then,” Ken says, “You have shown me the light.”
Wriggle laughs. “No, that one's all Phobe.”
“I know of another place,” Ken says, “Its across town, but we'll try there.”
As you're walking, you can see that this group is uniform in color. Different from the people you left in the bar. This will work. That's what the color is saying, you think. This will work. You believe it, too.
The rain even seems to be less, now. Like finding all these people is making it go away, bit by bit. You can even see stars at the edges of the sky. The clouds are starting to disappear. And in the new bar, you find all the people you need. 6 more. Enough. By the time you all leave the bar, the rain isn't going any more. There's still clouds, but they seem to be shrinking.
At the end, Ken takes you aside once more. “I don't know why you decided to, but you've saved us.” He says, “You say that the proper shrine to this god it up the mountain?”
You nod. “I don't know the path, though. Its by the waterfall.”
He nods. “Maybe you could help me find it later, then,” He says, “Or maybe I'll try to find it on my own.”
“I'll help you,” you say, “Tomorrow, ok?”
“I wouldn't want to try to find it in the dark, anyway,” He says, laughing, “Tomorrow. Well,” He says, turning to the rest of the group, “Let's turn right back around, and celebrate!”
He's met by cheers from the group of people following him, and they do just that. Turn back around, and head back into the bar. You... you've won. Haven't you? You laugh as you watch them head back in.
“We did it~” You say, turning back around to the rest of your group, “We did it~!”
Wriggle laughs. “Sure feels like it. I don't think it'll rain tomorrow, at least.”
“Me either,” Mystia says, “Maybe I'll get some customers~”
“Aww,” Cirno says, “I was expecting something more awesome. Where's the final boss?”
“Sure,” Cirno says, “The big bad guy we have to beat up in the end.”
You shrug. “Maybe there wasn't one?”
“Guess not,” She says, “I guess it was fun enough without one. Do we get a prize or something?”
You... wonder. Do you? You don't think it was ever said. “I didn't check. But we beat all those strong youkai at a game~”
Cirno laughs. “That's 'cause you had me. But, if there's no prize...” She yawns, “... I'm gonna go to sleep. Ok?”
You nod. You were thinking about maybe doing the same thing. Its getting late, and you've been flying and fighting and talking all night. And winning. And watching people do things you've never seen them do before. “Ok. Maybe we can play tomorrow~”
“We'll have to find something even more cool to do,” Cirno says, “But we can do it. Later~”
She starts to leave, but then stops. “Uh... which way is it to the lake?”
You point. “That way. Isn't it?”
“That's right,” She says, but you're not sure if she's sure. “Bye~”
With Cirno gone, its just you three.
“Well,” Wriggle says, “We could go back and celebrate on our own. What do you say, Mystia?”
“There's all kinds of food,” Mystia says, “I'm sure it'd be ok if we ate a little bit of it. Are you coming, Phobe?”
Sleep would be nice, but... you're a little unstable right now, too. You don't think you could sleep just yet. “Just for a little bit. I'm tired~”
Back to the stand you go, where Rumia is waiting. You all eat, and drink, and talk about the whole thing. It sounds like everyone had fun. Even Rumia did, but she was having fun splashing in puddles and scaring big forest things.
And then, after you start to become more ordered, you go back to your den. Sleep. You're tired. That was a lot of work, and...
“What do you mean you solved it?” Marisa asks, laughing, “Me and Alice beat up the god that was causing all the trouble.”
You shake your head. “But we got him enough power to stop the rain!” You say back, maybe a little too excitedly. “He was weak, which is why he couldn't stop it.”
“You believed him?” Marisa asks, “I thought he was lying. So we beat him up and the rain stopped.”
“But, we got people to pray and the rain stopped...”
“My my, how interesting,” Yukari says, finally speaking up. “Is that true?”
Alice nods. “We beat him up, and he said he'd stop it. But, it was kind of weird that he was getting stronger while we were fighting him...”
“He was getting desperate,” Marisa says, “so he was using more power.”
The party was held again in a a week, after the shrine got fixed. This time, everyone seems a lot more happy. Even Reimu is smiling a little bit.
The days after that were pretty normal, for you. The day after you solved it, you showed Ken up to the mountain. You think he said he's going to open up a shrine in the village, or something like that. While you were up there, the god thanked you for helping him, so you know Marisa didn't win.
“But, but,” You argue back, “When we got more people to pray, the rain got weaker... and he even said thank you after I went back.”
“Its so much simpler when you solve it, isn't it, Reimu?”
She nods, that thin smile still on her face. “I still don't think its solved. But the rain stopped, so maybe its ok.”
“We were way off, weren't we, Youmu?” Yuyuko asks the girl next to her.
“That's because you insisted we break for dinner...”
“I can't believe Patchouli was that far off,” Remilia says, “What do we keep her around for, anyway?”
“She is a friend, is she not?” Sakuya asks simply, to which Remilia nods a little. “Ugh. I still can't believe she sent us all the way over to Makai...”
The other teams were not so lucky.
“Chen did a good job leading us,” Ran says, “Don't you think, Miss Yukari?”
Yukari laughs, “She did. Very good for her first try at this kind of thing.”
You're not sure where Chen's team ended up, but it wasn't where they should have been. You and Marisa (and Reimu) were the only close ones, but only you solved it.
“Well,” Yukari says, “Since there's no clear winner, I guess I can't give out my prize. I'll just have to keep it all to myself~”
“Hey, hey,” Marisa says, “What do you mean?”
“Nope. All to myself. Ufufufu...”
At this point, you don't really care. You know you won.
“That's not fair. What if we share the prize?” Marisa asks, smiling at you. “Even if they didn't win, I'll share it if it means I get a piece.”
“But, I won...”
“Two winners?” Yukari asks, “I guess that could work. You all won't get much, though.”
“Pieces?” You ask. In response, one of those rips in what should be there appears above the table in front of you all, and... a small, red thing drops from it.
“Its an exotic fruit, called a 'pomegranate'”, Yukari answers, as if this thing is awesome. It doesn't look that awesome. “...what?”
“Seriously?” Marisa asks, “A fruit?”
“Not just any fruit.” Yukari says, laughing. “You see, the pomegranate has a whole bunch of history and....”
… Yukari goes on for a while about how great the pomegranate is, but you don't think anyone is paying attention. The rest of the party is really fun, too. Lots of food from lots of people, a bit of danmaku, (you did pretty well, with your new spell card), some more food, some praying (although most weren't praying)... lots of fun.
Yes. You like gensokyo. You like it a lot.
GOOD BREAK POINT END REACHED
Hohoho... another story down, at least, to a point that I'm comfortable claiming an end to an arc. Another year spend writing. I'm not sure this story can ever have a real 'end', seeing as its about the life of a youkai. If there is one its several hundred threads in. Phobe certainly has more stories to tell. But, for now, this little chapter has come to a close.
I'll take questions now, on anything you think I should have given an answer to and didn't. Or anything you were curious about. Anything, really, but I may not answer if its a huge spoiler. I do plan to come back to this at another time, with another segment in Phobe's life, so don't expect me to explain everything now. I'm not sure if it'll be the next thing I write (SCIENCE is still on my plate as unfinished, I'd kind of like to do a Yukari-centric story, etc.), but, we'll see. Phobe is really fun to write.
If this story had credits, this is where the "...and YOU, the player..." would come in. Thanks for reading. Thanks for voting. Thanks for putting up with my slow, sometimes crappy updates. I love you guys. I hope you're all here when I get back to writing.