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File 135485125053.jpg - (739.39KB, 768x1024, BathingBug.jpg) [iqdb]
26706 No. 26706
Previous thread: >>24655

[X] Since she's offering I'd like to share some of the latent worries caused by today.

Although I don’t want to burden Wriggle with my worries, getting them out in the open should help. “It was just crazy today when Reimu kicked the door off of its hinges. She looked far more menacing than any youkai and started making various accusations about Miss Keine. Most were rather crude, and Reimu also threatened her with some 'secret' that she knows. Father and Mr. Yaguu arrived to stop her from doing more, and she left saying that Keine's position was created solely to spite her. If what Reimu said is right, the more it seems that the biggest thing trying to subvert the order of Gensokyo is the better part of the council. Those old fools… have they no respect for history?” There goes the water and the shampoo… oh that feels nice. I don’t know how I’ll manage to wash my hair myself now that I’ve felt how Wriggle does it.

“I’m not really sure about all that, but I know that Keine isn't someone who'd abuse her power… or looks,” answers Wriggle. “I think Reimu was just driven to say those things in anger. Cheer up though: the village has a bright future since those old men won't be around forever, and will be replaced by people with more sense, like you.” Now she's moving to the back... ah, that feels so nice.

“Wriggle, that really feels nice. I can't think of anything else to say that doesn’t come off sounding cheesy…” I say. I really can’t say much else; something like 'I don't know how I could have lived without this' or something equally worse would ruin the moment. I think I've cleaned up everywhere else as Wriggle rinses me off. I stand up to let her sit down.

“Yuki, could you wash my back now? I'd ask you to do my hair, but with these, it's better to be careful,” Wriggle says, pointing to her antennae. I nod and start working the soap into a lather before I try my best to replicate what she did. Leaning into my hands, she says, “Yuki, don't worry so much; just do it normally and it'll feel nice.” I adjust my scrubbing, making sure everything is clean then focus on the spots she's most responsive.

I need to get something else off my mind. “I'm surprised at the moment as I have a tendency to pass out from certain material or thoughts… but the last few weeks- Sorry if I'm-” Wriggle interrupts me.

“I understand… you're not the only one who knows people who like talking about perverted things. I bet that womanizer was the one who showed you whatever it was you’ve seen, right? I have a pretty good idea of what it was like as Kurumi seems to have similar stuff. I'm not fond of it either, but this is different: I don't mind spending time like this.” I stop paying attention to what I’m doing as she talks, and I find my hands slipping off her back and under her arms. I hope she doesn't take this the wrong way.

“Sorry, my hands slipped,” I apologize as I get my hands out from under her arms. I think one of Kamui's comics had a scenario like this in it.

She giggles, responding, “Yuki, don't worry about it. I know you wouldn't hurt me or do anything that I don’t want.” Cleaning finished, she rinses herself off and heads towards the tub, and I follow suit.

Soon after getting in, Wriggle sighs contentedly. “Ahhh~ This is the first time I've been in a Japanese style bath. I actually had to ask Kurumi for some advice.” Come to think of it, I remember that Yuuka’s place had a western style bathroom.

I respond, “How did you clean up besides the stream when we first met? I ask as I'm trying to remember what's at your mother's house.”

“A shower and bathtub, though she never told us how she got them. But this is nice, especially with you,” Wriggle answers. As things fall into a silence, I feel her taking my hand in hers as we enjoy the moment.

My relaxation gets interrupted by her giggling. I look, and end up seeing her breasts above the water. “Sorry for laughing, Yuki, but I realized I can say that this isn't the first time you’ve see me bathing, and I don't mind at all. I hope I don't sound like a Yukari for saying that!”

I couldn't say that at all, as she's not flaunting anything towards people but rather revealing herself just for me. “No way. I couldn’t think that at all since it isn't true. I know you would never be that sort of woman.” Looking at Wriggle like this, I'm not sure if I could really say no if she were to ask something of me.

We get back to relaxing for a bit before getting out. As I get out first, I hear a gasp… wait, Wriggle just saw me completely nude! As I blush, I hope that her gasp was made in a good way. I head over to the dry towels and put one around my waist, then take another over to the tub as Wriggle gets out. I must admit it’s a very good view: the angle is such that I can see a good amount, including the curve of her butt. Gah, time to divert my mind from that; I'm just a nudge away from giving into my impulses, such as if Wrigg- Oh what the... wait, I can think about such things without really panicking. I guess talking with her was helpful.

My thoughts are interrupted by Wriggle. “You know Yuki, you're definitely attractive yourself, and I think I know how you feel after that day. Kurumi said something like bigger isn’t better, but no matter what, the important thing is that Yuki is Yuki.” She must be referring to the day when we first met.

Any thoughts I might have had because of Kurumi's remark are swept away by what came after. “Just as Wriggle being Wriggle is the important thing, not size,” I reply. The rest of the drying goes quietly but I know she liked that. Compared to earlier, I can't help but feel a great sense of ease.

-----

After we make sure the bathroom is clean, we head back to the living room to see if my parents are home. Father is sitting down and reading, and he looks up as we walk in. “Your mother is making dinner. I also apologize for this morning; if I kept a better eye on things, the incident wouldn't have happened. You should focus on relaxing today and leave the poking around for tomorrow. I know you're curious about what Reimu mentioned, and I hope you're not too worried.”

“He isn't as I helped him out, Mr. Kojima,” Wriggle answers.

Father chuckles as he answers, “That's very good to hear; you two should go to the dinner table as your mother should be finishing soon.” That sounds like a good idea so we go towards the kitchen and help mother set out the food. Dinner's quiet, likely due to today's incident. I’m not exactly eager to let Mother find out about the bath as she'd have something incredibly embarrassing to say. The rest goes without real note, and Wriggle and I head downstairs afterwards.

-----

“Yuki, were you going to ask your dad tomorrow about how Keine’s position was founded?” Wriggle asks. That's a good question.

I answer, “I probably could ask him, and I'm definitely going to get some advice on who to ask, but…”

[ ] I'll definitely ask him as he’ll have an idea
[ ] I don't want to bother him with this, at least not so soon.

And…

[ ] We should see Akyuu as I'm certain her family kept a record of it
[ ] I think asking Miss Keine would be good, though we'd have to word it carefully. I think she could use some friendly company anyways.
[ ] We should try to catch Mr. Yaguu as I'm sure he knows about it.
203posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 28202
[x] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.

Why ask about him when we can just go see him?
>> No. 28203
There wasn't much of a dispute here. I'll try to have it done in 1-2 weeks.
>> No. 28224
It's in the middle of proofing so it should be done within 2 days.
>> No. 28225
File 139459832896.jpg - (32.92KB, 590x480, ToThinkThisIsReal.jpg) [iqdb]
28225
[x] Check out the explosion, I think it came from the Merchant’s Area.

"I better check it out, I hope nothing’s happened to Ginji. I'll be back when I'm done," I say before standing up.

Wriggle responds, "Alright. You don't have to rush; I've been meaning to catch up with Akyuu for a while now about a few things." She and Akyuu wave as I leave.

-----

As I get closer to the Merchant’s quarters I see a trail of smoke drifting into the sky. I really hope that Ginji's alright – he’s mentioned failed projects before, but nothing’s ever gone up like this!

His store seems to be intact when I reach it, so I walk in. I find Ginji towards the back, looking over a twisted metal panel over what appears to be a window. Wait... he has a blast shield in the back of his shop!? "Ginji, are you alright? I heard that explosion all the way from Akyuu’s house."

This seems to snap Ginji out of his thoughts and he answers, "Yeah. Can't believe that guy's idea for a coffee maker would blow up like this… and now Rika wants his notes for ideas on how to make better ammo. These blast panels are going to need more work, but I'm glad I installed at least this much, plus a layer of metal on this side of the house." Good thing he thinks ahead; without the plating someone may have gotten hurt.

"That guy – do you mean that amateur alchemist? Where’d he go? " I ask.

He presses a button on a panel which causes some chains to pull back the shield, revealing a slightly broken window and a shallow crater in the yard behind it. "He ran the moment we noticed problems… God I hate how that dumbass tries to half-ass things! If he were a tenth as dedicated as those who made great alchemic advancements his mundane contraptions wouldn’t double as bombs. Even wizards do things in a proper fashion. Oh, no offense, Yuki.”

“It’s fine, none taken. It sounds like you don’t really hate alchemy that much, just people who use it recklessly.”

“Of course. Alchemy was the foundation of Outsider science, after all. You can bet I'll be better prepared when I try to integrate a Kappa heater with some magical components. For all their innate magic, they sure seem reluctant to use it in their inventions for the most part." He points to a machine that looks like a tank with pipes branching out of it. "I might need your help with it later on since you're the only person who messes with fire magic."

If he were to finish it, it might work better than usual warming methods like a kotatsu or fireplace. "I'd be glad to help, it'd really help out in the winter!"

"Good to hear. It'll be good to have something to focus my mind on; I already got past the tricky part of the project, though the two extras did not blow up as much as THAT!" Ginji responds as he looks over some drawings at his desk.

He sits down and begins to work, so I decide to leave now that I know he’s fine. It’s no use talking to him once he gets started on a project, anyways. Time to find out what Akyuu knows.

-----

I get back to Akyuu's room without incident, and when I arrive I hear them talking about something. I glance into the room, and see Akyuu, Wriggle, and Shinobu looking over a map. "Wriggle, these bugs are really dangerous to humans! I really wouldn't advise taking him here; try here or here instead. They’ll work as nice dating spots."

Shinobu adds, "If I may, I know of a few other locales that would be nice as some areas are safer than most would think, more so with bandits on the decline." She points to a few more places, but I can’t make out what the map says under her finger.

Wriggle frowns indecisively. "Hmm… I do want to expand my abilities and sharpen my senses, though. Things with Yuki are fun and new, but I don't want to go soft either. I hope he'll understand that." Of course; there’s no way I’d be against that!

Akyuu replies, "I know he will, for various reasons…" She slowly turns to look at the doorway, smirking at me. "Right, Yuki?"

"I didn't mean to eavesdrop! I'm sorry! I was just coming back and-" She cuts me off.

"Don't worry, it wasn’t anything private, not like the topic of matching undergarments and hair colors" Wha!? Both Wriggle and Shinobu are blushing heavily after that comment. I try to compose myself as she continues, "Well that didn't really happen anyways, just trying to find a cute lab coat number for her. It'd fit an assistant nicely, and glasses would suit her very well." She says that so casually, but it’s shocking to think about how cute Wriggle would look.

Ah, better ask before I get distracted. "Akyuu, what is your take on Alchemy?"

I take a seat next to Wriggle as Lady Akyuu starts explaining. "Alchemy in Gensokyo isn’t practiced widely as far as I know. It was founded by those with magical talent, both innate and learned, but most of its points pale when compared to everything else you can do in Gensokyo. Even the famous ‘lead into gold’ transmutation was surpassed by some of the feats the Hakurei clan performed, like creating a shower of gold coins in something symbolic of the summoning a god. Certain magician types have picked it up to help with their research, but I have no idea if the more technically inclined community is working it into their projects or just hybridizing them with normal magic.”

A serious look comes over her as she looks me in the eye. “I must say it's probably more dangerous than either magic or science as unlike them, alchemy wasn't really clearly recorded in history. Practitioners either abandoned it or took their secrets to the grave, and those that still live want to keep it secret." Magicians don’t sound like a very trusting group.

“I definitely don't want to be like that: it'd be a poor way to repay Miss Chalmer's knowledge by secreting discoveries away or making some tower my hermitage. It won’t happen!" As everyone at the table looks startled, I realize I may have said things too forcefully.

"I never thought I'd hear such a tone from you. It's rather manly," Akyuu responds. Wha? I might have sounded rather decisive but manly? Furthest from the truth!

"That's awfully flattering but that isn't true at all!" I stammer. Akyuu usually doesn’t tease me that much, not to mention Wriggle’s right here with us! I try think of something to say to break the awkward silence.

Shinobu clears her throat. "May I interrupt? Have you made preparations for the upcoming harvest festival?" Thank you, Shinobu!

The conversation trails off into more normal topics: the upcoming festival, and another Prismriver concert. That's good news for my friends, I’ll have to see if they’ve heard about it next time I see them.

-----

The next few days are mainly a mix of working with Akyuu on profiles for her book, going over what I wrote down during the interviews, and making a profile for Hourai. When I have time I train my control of flight and magic as Wriggle seems to be going out on her own to different parts of Gensokyo. I worry about her, but at the same time I have faith in her abilities. I wonder how Kamui’s dinner with Lady Yuuka will work out?

-----

I’m shaken awake somewhat roughly. “Hrmmm… wha? Wha’ is it?”

Surprisingly, I hear Wriggle’s speak. "Yuki, get up, your father wants to talk to you!" I roll about of bed and start getting dressed, wondering what this is about... oh wait! This day has finally arrived: the village Council is going to meet. I hurry to get ready and head upstairs to find out what's going on.

I sit at the breakfast table and Father slides something towards me. Sure enough, it’s his summons to the council meeting. "What’s this meeting going to be about?" I ask.

"Relations between humans and youkai, and a serious discussion about the Syndicate and what they’ve been doing. Your input is considered valuable by myself, and a few others. That’s why you’re coming with," Father answers.

"I'll go. I want to see how this plays out and just how much they listen to what I have to say," I reply.

Father smiles in relief. "I wanted to get you up early so you can gather your thoughts before we leave." Not a bad idea; the Council is probably the second worst place to say something really stupid, just behind meeting some crazy-powerful youkai.

-----

Recap of the topic? (For the reader's benefit)
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
>> No. 28226
[x] Yes.

What's going on? I can't remember what happened.
>> No. 28227
[X] Yes
A recap would be nice
>> No. 28228
[x] Yes

Give recap, please.
>> No. 28229
Expect the update in 2-3 weeks as my work schedule seems particularly unfriendly.
>> No. 28252
I've started though things have been busier than I'd have liked but after thursday I'll be on my vacation as I'll attempt to finish it within a week.
>> No. 28253
It's undergoing proofing and some adjustments.
>> No. 28256
>>28253
Waiting warmly~
>> No. 28258
File 139779373284.png - (684.12KB, 1200x818, ehcloseenough.png) [iqdb]
28258
[x] Recap.

Most of this was written in post >>27927, so here’s a summary. Back at the beginning of the story an organization calling itself the Syndicate started causing trouble; mainly kidnappings and experiments that targeted youkai. An outsider named Arthur has been working against them, but more recently some unsavory youkai have joined up too, lured by promises of being able to do what they want to anyone who opposes them. Unsure of how much longer Arthur can fight on his own, the Council is meeting to discuss what to do about the Syndicate’s growing power.

Yuki’s only heard about most of these events from others since he hasn’t done much investigating on his own. And now, back to the story.

----------

"Thanks for letting me gather my thoughts, Father, but I’ve actually been thinking about it the past few days. I feel confident about what to say by this point," I say while standing up. I'll worry about other things after this meeting.

Father responds, "Alright then. Good to see you’ve been planning ahead." As we take our dishes to the kitchen, he continues, “The meeting might go on for a while, but I’m sure we’ll break for lunch. No need to pack anything.” I nod, and we leave for the Council building.

-----

This is the first time I've had a good look at Council building. While I’ve passed through the Noble’s Quarter of the village before, I haven’t had the chance to stop by here; the building’s size and grandeur makes it stand out even among the ornate houses around it. I try to steady my nerves as we approach the entrance, passing under the archway and into a courtyard.

After reaching the threshold and taking off our shoes, an usher guides us to the main meeting room. It’s mostly empty, but a few people are already seated at the cushions laid around a long, narrow table. We probably got here a little early… ah, Lady Akyuu’s already here with her parents. She waves us over, so I start to walk over and sit down before father firmly halts me from moving.

Lady Akyuu bows and says, "Please take a seat. As long time assistants to the Hieda family, we are pleased you were able to come." Wow, she can really be formal when the situation calls for it. It makes her sound older than she appears, hinting at her sheer knowledge and experience. We bow in return and take our seats; besides being polite, it’s comforting to be in familiar company.

"Lady Akyuu, if you are here, may I ask why I was invited to the meeting? I’m honored that I was, but hadn’t I already talked with you about that revelation?" I ask as politely as possible.

She smiles and replies, "It’ll give you a positive reputation early on, and you’ve been able to think about the matter far more than I've had the chance to. You’re also the one with greater reason to be concerned about the official state of human/youkai relations." Her answer certainly makes sense, I just hope I don't disappoint her. As more councilmen come in I focus on composing myself.

As the room is filling up I notice Lord Hojo take his the seat at the head of the table, joined by a secretary who quickly sets out paper and ink. After some formalities and assorted news, Hojo says, "Now, for more pressing orders of business. First of all, the proposed adjustment to the self-defense law was approved by the Tengu. After the revision, if a human or youkai threatens a tengu within the village and has no way to actually inflict harm, the tengu may no more than incapacitate them to turn them over to the village's custody. Depending on the severity of the threat, they will either be judged here or turned over to the tengu to experience their justice system.” Some murmurs and nods of consent pass around the table, then Lord Hojo adds, “This should go a long way towards preventing any more murders from occurring out of claims of ‘self-defense.’" That gets a few more councilors talking; it's a good thing Miss Shameimaru didn't get in more trouble than she did.

Lady Akyuu remarks, "He does have the village’s concerns at heart, but he really needs to let go of a problem once it’s been resolved."

Lord Hojo clears his throat and resumes speaking. "Secondly, concern was expressed over the dearth of comprehensive combat experience among the capable. That is, most of our hunters are able to take down feral youkai, but not humans or humanoid youkai. Training in combat skills and tactics against such opponents should be enacted and emphasized. As a first step, I propose putting Keine directly under Master Yaguu's instruction so he can refine her existing abilities before they both provide training for as many hunters as can be effectively taught at once.” The talking between the councilors gets louder until he finishes, "I would like to hear your opinions on the matter."

Miss Keine speaks first. “Thank you, Lord Hojo. As village guardian, I welcome the chance to learn from Master Yaguu to better protect this village, and all of you. I’m sure his experi-”

“And why’s this such an issue all of a sudden?” Lord Kaiba loudly cuts in. I notice Lady Akyuu grimace beside me as he continues, “Come on, everyone knows why you’re bringing it up now; just say you’re getting ready to fight the Syndicate and be done with it.” Oh man, that really set everyone off. Now it’s hard to hear anything over the heated arguments.

Mr. Yaguu speaks over the din, "I agree with the transfer and the importance of the training, but I advise against any thoughts of going on the offensive. It would take me a year to train up a force that both matches my standards and is sizable enough to split into an attacking force and village defenders. Going after the Syndicate now will only cause more trouble."

“Oh of course, a huge investment of time and effort! So much so you wonder if it’s really needed.” Wha-! What is Lord Kaiba saying?! Leering, he continues, “I mean they’re hardly a problem. They haven’t tried attacking the village, or pinned any crimes on us to draw ire from the tengu. I say, ignore the sods! What real threat can they be if a lone outsider’s been able to stop their mischief so far?” How blatantly uncaring! I get the feeling he'd hide behind hired muscle while everyone else worries about it.

Mr. Yaguu is quick to answer, "All the more reason to be vigilant in defense. We don’t know the true strength of the enemy so we can’t know when they may try to take advantage of an opening. Such training would be useful in the long run as it'll potentially allow for greater defense!" As expected, he'd know best about this.

"Do you even care about the other people in the village?!” Keine shouts. “I can respect taking a peaceful stance, but I cannot accept turning a blind eye to a potential threat. What kind of an example are you setting for your son?!” I barely hear Lady Akyuu mutter, "A terrible one," before Keine continues. “It's bad enough that your... guidance caused me to make that terrible mistake, saying I could protect the village without Reimu’s help!" Even though they’ve made up by now, for someone like her that incident really must have been a hard blow.

“Now now, Miss Kamishirasawa, you’re getting things backwards! Calm down and you’d remember that we merely voted to appoint you as village guardian; you’re the one who accepted and made those remarks about the shrine maiden.”

Lady Akyuu speaks up, "That's a terrible thing to say. The last thing you need is to confirm without a doubt what people have been saying about you. Just a friendly piece of advice." I can't tell if it was really friendly or just a well disguised insult.

“Enough!” Lord Hojo slams the table, abruptly silencing everyone. “I’ll remind you that the Council is a place of order, not some tavern for bickering and fighting! Now does anyone actually have something relevant say, or can we move on to the next item?”

Mr. Miyamoto sighs and says, "Yes. I can agree with war being an unwise investment; besides the financial loss we'd be tossing away the security we've worked for. Hayato's reasoning to focus on defense for its long term benefits is sound. Any kind of meaningful offensive at this point would have to rely on Outsider technology, and that would just escalate things nastily." Never thought I'd hear him say that.

Perhaps I can try adding my own thoughts on the matters…

Regarding the self-defense law:
[ ] Stay silent; I don't have much to add.
[ ] "It's reassuring to hear the law’s being changed."
[ ] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[ ] Write in.

Regarding Miss Keine’s transfer:
[ ] Stay silent.
[ ] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[ ] "I'm glad to finally see this happen. Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner."
[ ] Write in.

Regarding the use of warriors:
[ ] Stay silent.
[ ] "I agree that focusing on defense of the village is most important."
[ ] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
-[ ] Give “his roundness” a piece of your mind.
[ ] Write-in.

Stardust Halley also updated recently.
>> No. 28262
Regarding the self-defense law:
[X] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
I may be mistaken, but the law was what got Hatate in trouble, no?

Regarding Miss Keine’s transfer:
[X] Stay silent.
I may change this later, I'm just not sure what to say in this matter.

Regarding the use of warriors:
[X] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
Making an enemy of Sir Round at our first meeting, doesn't seem like a good idea in the long run.
>> No. 28264
[x] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[x] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[x] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"

>>28262
You're almost right about the law, except Aya was the one who got in trouble. Had to dig around, but it was the first thread 2 update (>>23544).
>“I got the rest of the guys in front of the inn... except for the leader... he just wouldn’t stay down and when he made threats against the Tengu as a whole, I invoked the clause in the village law.” One that states that Tengu can use lethal force in the village limits to defend themselves.

I missed it myself until it came up again in thread 3; it was a pretty huge "wtf?" moment.
>> No. 28265
>>28264
Huh, would you look at that. But now I wonder about Hatate. Something to look into later, I guess
>> No. 28271
Regarding the self-defense law:
[X] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"

Regarding Miss Keine’s transfer:
[x] "I'm glad to finally see this happen. Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner."

Regarding the use of warriors:
[X] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"
>> No. 28272
Update will be up in less than a week for sure.
>> No. 28298
[x] "The sooner that law is changed, the better; there was too much potential to abuse it!"
[x] "It’s good to see Miss Keine will be in good hands."
[x] "The village shouldn’t attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war!"

I clear my throat before speaking "I have a few things to say about the proceedings thus far. First, I'm glad the tengu self-defense law was changed; there was too much potential to abuse it!"

"I'm surprised to hear someone who's fond of youkai speak like that," Lord Kaiba responds. "I would have thought that you'd be against anything that hindered them."

"I am not ignorant on the dangers of youkai, I merely hope that those not out to harm humanity be treated fairly. Miss Shameimaru had good intentions but another tengu might not, especially in these times of unease."

Mr. Yaguu adds, "I agree. I am glad that the altercation in question didn't result in more trouble."

Lord Hojo nods in approval. "Good to see you're starting to take into account that not all youkai are reasonable, Yuki. If laws were written as though they were, humanity would we doomed to subservience." I feel like he’s taking things a bit too far with that statement. "Is there anything else you care to add?"

I collect myself and answer, "On the matter of Miss Kamishirasawa's transfer, I'm glad to finally see this happen, she'll be in good hands." I mull it over briefly before continuing, "Pardon my tone, but she should have been released from the council’s control much sooner. The village guardian is meant to protect the village same as the hunters and warriors, not get tied up in politics."

Lord Kaiba quickly responds, "Quite a bold statement, coming from a sheltered young man who barely knows about such things."

"Lord Kaiba, that's uncalled for!" Miss Keine responds. It’s annoying how he tries to divert the conversation when the issue is very obvious.

"Even I can see that someone like Mr. Yaguu is a better fit for teach her about defending the village than you, sir. If it was purely a diplomatic position, I would see the reasoning behind the initial appointment far better," I add, resisting the urge to voice my thoughts about Lord Kaiba more clearly.

"Ah, but tha position does have a diplomatic side, and it can’t just be ignored. There’s only one village guardian after all, so whether Miss Kamishirasawa likes it or not her actions and words represent both the village and the council. Acting hastily without thinking things through reflects poorly on all of us, as everyone remembers." Tch, why does he keep bringing that up?

"Maybe, but I still think letting Mr. Yaguu train her is the right decision." Better move on and address my last point before the discussion ends. "However, I absolutely don’t think the village should attack the Syndicate! The last thing Arthur would want is for us to sacrifice our peace to go to war! I say this as someone who's spoken with him personally. He fights to preserve the peace in this land and if he were to see it disrupted, he would feel as if he failed."

Mr. Miyamoto shrugs, "Agreed, and well said. I must say, you're certainly showing as much backbone here as when you yelled at me in the market."

"You make it sound like he's responsible for your change in stance," Lord Kaiba laughs.

"He merely reminded me of what’s important in life. As an adult it's too easy to lose sight of things," Mr. Miyamoto responds.

"Haw haw! Now that is entertaining, to imagine that Hideo Miyamoto was so easily cowed by a single youth." What?! Mr. Miyamoto was relieved when he made up with Ginji after kicking him out… wait. Lord Kaiba’s peering at me intently out of the corner of his eyes. I shiver involuntarily under his malicious gaze, until he turns back to the other council members.

I sit down to take a breather and notice Akyuu is blushing. "Is there something a matter?"

She pauses before answering, "You're certainly growing up fast. At this rate, Wriggle'll be hearing about what a fine man you are." I'm slowly starting to believe her myself. Better pay attention to the rest of the proceedings, though.

"Yes, well, on to the next matter. Lady Hieda previously mentioned something else that warrants discussion: the Syndicate seems to be capitalizing off of discontentment to recruit new members. I will let her and her assistant explain." Wait… he’s referring to me, isn’t he? I knew this was going to happen.

Lady Akyuu, looking more composed, stands up first. "While it’s true that they swell their ranks with promises to change the status quo, a greater threat is posed by the youkai who’ve started to join them as well." I hear a few shouts of surprise among the councilors. "My assistant, Yukikaki Kojima, suggested they might also be joining because of the stigma against them, at least as far as the male youkai are concerned. I’ll let him explain further, and as for the self-defense matter I am for training a defensive force. However, going on the offensive may cause some to defect." She sits down and motions for me to stand.

Here goes. I stand up and start explaining, "From the various books I've read, again and again there's proof that if someone's persecuted unfairly, they may end up doing what they're accused of. Reducing unneeded hatred towards male youkai would do a lot to keep them from joining the Syndicate, and help spread true peace and progress regarding human and youkai relations. Yes, I am aware this won’t work as well with female youkai since they aren’t as hated, but it would still help. Furthermore, it might prevent another tragedy like those that plague Gensokyo's history, like the deaths of Reimu’s parents." I notice Mr. Yaguu flinch at that; he still remembers that incident. I should apologize to him after this; I didn't mean to bring up painful memories.

"You may sit down now," Lord Hojo says. As I do so he continues, "The idea holds merit; anything that might reduce the number of attacks is worth trying. This is a sensitive issue since the kind of action the Moderates want would be too broad and generalized, so we instead must make a reasonable, informed decision." He pauses to gesture to a servant to leave the room. "To that end, I have admitted a guest to provide his views on the matter."

A few moments later, the servant comes back with- Wait! That's the giant I ran into a few days ago, Kumamaru. Lord Hojo speaks, "Do not be alarmed; despite what you’re about to see, he has been one of the village's strongest allies when dealing with malicious humanoids, youkai or not. Please, you may introduce yourself." Wait… I can sense something different about him compared to everyone else.

Kumamaru pulls back his hood… revealing a pair of bear ears underneath! Some of the councilors just stare in shock, while others start shouting in anger or dismay. I guess that explains why something about him felt different, and why he’s as imposing as he is.

"This is an outrage!" Lord Kaiba shouts. “What the blazes are you thinking bring a beast like that in here?! He could kill us all before the shrine maiden could even hear our screams!" He leaps to his feet, trembling in indignation.

Kumamaru barely reacts to Lord Kaiba, though. "My name is Kumamaru. If something escapes from a manhunt, I hunt it down. I don’t attack the village." Wow, he sure gets straight to the point.

"Oh, what a relief! And here I was worried you were just another frenzied brute who murders with reckless abandon. Thank the Dragon for our good fortune!" Lord Kaiba hisses in mock adulation. Insulting a youkai is far from the wisest thing to do.

"You don’t trust me," Kumamaru states. “Listen to my story, then do what you will." He sits near the door and takes a breath before continuing. "Before Gensokyo was sealed I gained this humanoid form, and befriended a family with a young daughter. We were friends until I grew old enough to notice her femininity. I had thoughts like other young men had, but the infamous youkai intensity nearly overwhelmed me. Terrified, I fled to a secluded area to learn control by living as a hermit. I didn’t keep track of time, but when I returned, Gensokyo had been sealed. Others told me of the youkai attacks, so I decided to try to find other males and teach them to deal with their impulses. Any who couldn’t learn were killed before they could further stain our reputation by harming others." Wow… that’s pretty brutal, but if there was no other way… "I lead a small group of those like myself to help keep peace in places far from the village."

"Hum, how enthralling. And I suppose you’re just taking care of the Syndicate over there as well, hmm? Killing not just youkai, but any humans who don’t start thinking the way you do?" Lord Kaiba asks spitefully.

Mr. Yaguu responds, "Lord Kaiba! You shouldn't speak to him like that! His strength dwarfs my own!"

"It’s fine, Hayato. I am used to men like him. Yes, Kaiba, we take care of the Syndicate despite Arthur’s requests. We will not sit by while they intentionally poison the spirits of others and attempt things that make a youkai attack seem insignificant. Unlike Arthur, we have no mercy to give. Lately, activity around our patrol areas has dropped off. That should speak for itself." Geez, this must be what Keine means when she says youkai think differently from humans. "Or, maybe they think Arthur’s a bigger threat and are taking steps against him and his group. We haven’t pursured them; we focus on our original duty before all else. But to make things clear, I do not pretend that all youkai are friendly. If anyone has any questions, please ask."

Lady Akyuu is quick to respond, "Mr. Kumamaru, what sorts of male youkai are out there? And why do you think male youkai are so prone to trouble when they're younger?"

"Some live in the wilderness like myself, and there's a few that live in distant towns. For animal youkai, males are pretty similar to females. Old Garai, an older cat youkai, is fond of napping half the time. I've sighted a few magician males too, but they love their books too much to be a threat to anyone who doesn’t try to take one from them. Against each other, they still prefer thinking games or magic instead of fighting. For your second question, I think the sealing of Gensokyo somehow promoted the… humanization of female youkai and also curbed their instincts." Kumamaru grits his teeth. "That restraint hasn’t spread to males. There's not many youkai my age because most end up provoking something they can't beat," he answers bitterly. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to bring up the subject of Lady Yakumo around him.

Wait, this is my chance to ask questions!

[ ] Write in any questions you might have.
[ ] Oracle! Take the wheel!
>> No. 28299
[X] "What's your stance on (see previous vote)"

I believe this'll help build the counsel's trust in him, if he were to state his stand. Well except for Kaiba.
>> No. 28300
[x] "Any guesses to why youkai humanization favors females?"
[x] "What's your stance on the self-defense law?"

Why not.
>> No. 28301
[x] "Any guesses to why youkai humanization favors females?"
[x] "What have you seen the Syndicate doing? I've only heard stories and read reports from others."

I'm pretty curious; the group has to be pretty goddamn evil for a kill on sight, no exceptions stance to be taken.
>> No. 28302
[c] "Any guesses to why youkai humanization favors females?"
[c] "What have you seen the Syndicate doing? I've only heard stories and read reports from others."

Alright, then.
>> No. 28306
I'll use the questions (as it was more a gathering choice than anything), though the next update will be delayed as I finish a short I'm working on. When I finish, I'll post a link and a time frame for the update itself.
>> No. 28321
>>28306
Update soon?
>> No. 28322
>>28321
I'm buckling down and getting the /at/ thing out of the way today and maybe tomorrow, after that, then I'll start work on the update.

I'd have done it sooner but some things wound up coming up and derailing things.

Since I'm posting, I'm thinking about doing something special for update post #100, maybe a mail slot thing, but I'm open to suggestions, even "just write an update"
>> No. 28323
>>28322
What about making it the anniversary for Wriggle and Yuki’s relationship, then make an event out of it?
>> No. 28324
Don't mind the changing trips, but yeah I finished that short, though it'll neeed some checking, but I'm going to start work on the update during this week. I'll try to get it done in a week or two, but I can't make any promises as it's summer and stuff has been known to come up in summer.

>>28323
That'd be tricky as it'd be a monthly anniversary thing. But I'll think on it to see if I could make it work.
>> No. 28382
File 140426755792.jpg - (448.17KB, 864x872, OgamiKazukiOkamisty.jpg) [iqdb]
28382
Finished writing. And stuff did indeed pop up but after the 4th it should settle down some... HOPEFULLY. It should be proofed within a week, mainly due to the 4th coming up.

>>/at/35422 The Rika H-short I was working on.
>> No. 28383
File 140488634419.jpg - (389.69KB, 573x800, AspiringKensei.jpg) [iqdb]
28383
It’d be nice to hear Kumamaru’s opinions on the topics of the meeting. "Sir, I'm curious what you think of the Tengu self-defense law, the changes to the village guardian position, and what to do about the Syndicate," I ask.

He thinks a bit before replying, "Hojo told me about the agenda beforehand. It's good that the law is getting straightened out as severity would only be a detriment to peaceful relations. Typical Tengu arrogance could lead to fights if something didn’t keep them in line. I also agree with the reassignment of the guardian: leaving her training to someone who knows nothing of combat is pure foolishness. Not so long ago, a choice like that could have doomed the village, if not for the Hakurei. As for the Syndicate, don’t try taking the fight to them. It may force some villagers to try talking friends or loved ones into returning home, and that’s a risky bet. It might work, but for most who join the Syndicate their betrayal is certain. Even Arthur, who offers them mercy, knows when the time for talk has passed."

Mister Miyamoto asks, "Why do you seem to take killing so lightly?"

"Because it's a part of our life. I'm sure Hayato can tell you that male youkai are out for blood more often than not. Taking them lightly is wishing for death. It's the same reason why your hunting parties in the past didn't stop until the perpetrator was good and dead," Kumamaru replies.

Mister Yaguu adds, "Such is the world beyond the village's gates."

A bit of a silence descends as I'm reminded of his mention of the syndicate. "Sir, you've said you fight the Syndicate. I was wondering, what sorts of things have they attempted? I've only read reports and news on the matter," I ask.

He's silent before answering, "Kidnappings. We stop them whenever we can, but the rescued are almost always poisoned or drugged by the time we reach them. We’re very thankful for Lady Inaba bringing something that allowed the magicians to craft a cure." He scratches his head as he resumes, "Our skirmishes got to the point where the Syndicate men would actually push their captives at us before fleeing in a shameful display of cowardice. Lately though, they’ve started to fight back with surprising strength. Our victories are always hard-won, now… I’m considering sending a message to Arthur to warn him. The most worrying thing is that in the last few days, they stopped completely in our area. That could only mean they're funneling efforts towards Arthur and his group."

Lady Akyuu cuts in with a question of her own. "May I ask if you have any information on his group? The newspapers don’t mention him very much at all. I’ve heard a little about the 'doll princess,' so would you know anything about the 'silent giant,' Lord Kumamaru?"

"I’m no lord, I don’t rule any land. I haven't seen much, but the rumors in town and comparisons by panicked Syndicate members suggest that he could at least rival my own strength. It’s possible, too, since all manner of powerful warriors choose to live on the outskirts of known lands. Like that half-spirit swordsman, or Miss Kasen," he answers. He seemed to stiffen when mentioning the swordsman, but there was a bit of an uncharacteristic blush when he mentioned this ‘Miss Kasen.’

"Youki Konpaku I presume, there’s no other family of half-spirits in Gensokyo. I assume he was being followed by a ghost?" Akyuu asks. I can only guess that she's heard of him by memory.

Kumamaru responds, "Yes, that was his name. I learned it the second time I met him, when we actually spoke. The first time we met I was terrified just by the glare he gave me. It seems he's trying to become a sort of sword saint, out there on his own."

Akyuu adjusts some papers as she answers, "I had been curious about what was meant by 'the old gardener has left, replaced by the new.' I guess it's pretty clear now; I’ll have to wait and see what the new one is like." I suppose I'll ask Akyuu about that some other time.

"Hrmm. If that is all, I’ll be leaving now; there is much that needs doing," Kumamaru states. I better take my chance to ask the last question.

I ask, "Alright, but could I ask one last question? What or who do you consider responsible for the female youkai favoring state of Gensokyo?"

"Yakumo without a doubt. No idea why, but due to her whims the male youkai of Gensokyo had a hard time before I started trying to fix things," he answers bitterly.

"Sir, we were talking about that a bit earlier. I'm going to do whatever I can to help humans and youkai exist peacefully. Otherwise, the tragedies from various old stories are bound to continue," I reply.

Surprisingly, a smile spreads over his face. "I am glad to hear that. I suppose Lady Nightbug has something to do with this."

"Definitely, she- wait, Lady Nightbug?!" He calls her that despite being older and stronger?

"It's mostly due to the fact that some insects can give even someone like me such a hard time. I really do have to go now, so I hope my answers helped," he adds.

"Very well. We'll adjourn for lunch, then reconvene to finalize our courses of action," Lord Hojo announces. As people start leaving, Lady Akyuu passes by, remarking, "That's surprisingly bold of you, Yuki. Not that it's a bad thing…" she says the last thing with a bit of a blush? What could that be reminding her of?

-----

As father and I get out the door, he says, “Yuki, the meeting this afternoon is mostly a formality. You aren’t required to attend, so the rest of your day is free.”

I nod and start walking away from the Council building. I could try and find Kumamaru since I’d like to hear more about the people he mentioned, but home sounds equally appealing. I could ask Lady Akyuu about them the next time I see her.

[ ] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'
[ ] Go home and relax. I can ask Akyuu those questions another time.
>> No. 28384
[X] Go home and relax. I can ask Akyuu those questions another time.
>> No. 28385
[x] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Okay this please.
>> No. 28386
[x] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Large bear, reveal to me your secrets.
>> No. 28391
[c] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Okay, then.
>> No. 28411
[T] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

Follow the bear.
>> No. 28412
I'll try to get it done in a week. Just pray that nothing comes up.
>> No. 28431
I must have been tempting fate with that last post as my week's been pretty spotty. I'm hoping the weekend won't be as probmatic.
>> No. 28443
I'm terribly sorry about the delay but shit just kept on happening. It is done and should be up in the next few days (because I feel like tempting fate).
>> No. 28444
File 140730642643.png - (745.95KB, 708x1000, KissTheChefAlready.png) [iqdb]
28444
[x] I think Kumamaru will be at the tavern. Try to see if he's willing to talk about Youki and 'Miss Kasen.'

I decide to walk to the Tavern as I get the impression it's a typical stop for him before he leaves. It’s not a long walk to get there, and as I enter I find him sitting down with a plate of fried fish. "I take it you want to know more about what I was talking about?" He asks, taking a bite.

I respond, "I was curious about Mr. Konpaku. You only mentioned him briefly during the Council meeting."

"Hrmm." He swallows before continuing. "Youki's a swordsman beyond compare. I clearly remember the first time he looked me in the eyes – I was terrified. After learning more about him it turns out he doesn't like needless bloodshed, though he admitted that he hasn't had the cleanest past. He mentioned something about seeking enlightenment, but it would have been rude to ask why," he answers. I can only guess it's a sort of unspoken rule not to pry into why one travels to the far reaches of Gensokyo. He continues, "He did ask how much blood was on my hands, and commended me for keeping myself in check when I was young. Things have changed now… but I'm certain I'm saving innocent people with my actions."

Seems to be a weighty matter, though I wonder at how Youki intends to atone for his bloodstained past. Maybe I'll find out one day. "I would like to ask about Miss Kasen now, but I understand if you don't want to say too much," I ask. I can understand if he doesn’t want to talk about it; in some ways human and youkai are very much alike.

After hesitating briefly, he answers, "She found me in my earlier years and decided to try teaching me ways to suppress youkai instincts, among other things. I isolated myself as a hermit because of her, though she occasionally stopped by to continue her lessons. Eventually I had nothing left to learn from her words, and we’d just talk. Maybe I’d have gained control like hers if I’d stayed a hermit instead of returning to try to change things for the better. Thinking back, she didn't really look the part of a hermit - well dressed, very attractive. Very powerful too, as anyone that can sense such things can readily tell." Sounds quite interesting, though it's hard to overlook the fact he has some affection for her.

Part of me wants to give some supporting words, but things between older people are generally beyond my grasp. "Thank you for your time, but I think I’ll be going now. I wish you luck in your future endeavors," I say as I stand up and head to the door.

I start heading towards home when I see Wriggle waiting for me… oh no, she just saw me walk out of the tavern, alone! I rush over and start explaining, "I'm sorry, it’s just that someone brought up some interesting stuff at the Council meeting and I wanted to hear more!"

She giggles and hugs me, "Don't worry Yuki, I figured it was something like that. I just wanted to tell you that lunch was ready. Your mother suggested fish, saying you might have a taste for it today." I laugh nervously when I hear that; mother’s intuition can be scary at times.

"Well, she's right. Kumamaru was having fish while we talked and it looked pretty good" I answer. My stomach growls a little in agreement.

Wriggle takes my hand as we walk home. "something." Pause. "Would you really drink at a tavern?" She might be curious about that, but I never really been inclined.

Thinking a bit on it, I reply, "I'd rather try something in private and stay away from the heavy stuff." It doesn't take long to get home.

-----

As mother brings out cooked fish to the table, I ask, “Mother, why'd you think I'd have a taste for fish today?" As I take a bite, the delicious flavor makes me wonder who cooked it so well.

"Kumamaru always has fish at the tavern whenever he's in the village, and when your father told me he'd be at the Council meeting I figured you'd follow him afterwards," mother replies. It really is a little scary she knows me so well. "I remember learning this recipe when I was younger and the original owner was just a cook in training. Seems as though you like it; good thing I've passed it on to Wriggle! Now, you didn’t have anything alcoholic over there, right?"

"No way! I never thought about drinking until after I left since I was more focused on what Kumamaru had to say."

"Behaving yourself as always I see. You're better about it than your father; he occasionally has moments of poor judgement, but I still love him father very much even if he seems to be subconsciously fixated on some things." I suppose love always endures- a flash of yellow passes near the window. Was that… a girl over there?

"I know what you’re talking about," Wriggle responds. "Even that last bit, though it's really flattering..." Wriggle adds, blushing. Is she saying I'm fixated on something? …OH. Have I really been thinking and talking about Wriggle that much?

Mother speaks up, asking, "So, what did Kumamaru have to talk about? I'd imagine it was a story of the far flung reaches that powerful hermits like to dwell in, like the nameless hunter."

"Powerful? Is that area dangerous for most hermits?" Wriggle asks.

She answers, "Yes, there's lots of strong ferals there who consider hermits to be better 'food' than normal humans. Anyone living in that area, especially as a hermit, must possess a great deal of power. Your father mentioned that Kumamaru said his first days were filled with combat as he fended off any attacks. After that he was left alone for the most part."

"It’s understandable," Wriggle adds. "Mystia and I had to do the same thing in the forest. We might need to check again to make sure nothing’s getting any funny ideas."

Lunch went on as normal after that. The fish was delicious; I hope Wriggle cooks it again soon.

-----

After finishing the dishes, I come back to the living room to find Wriggle sitting down. "It's my first time having a family lunch here. I had to remind myself that there's a nice chunk of the day left. Do you want to do anything? If not I have some ideas of my own."

She does have a point, it’d be nice to do something together.

[ ] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
[ ] Take a bath and see about reading something new together and talking about it. I'm sure Father wouldn't mind us borrowing a book from his library.
[ ] See what she has in mind.
>> No. 28445
[x] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.

Romantic antics.
>> No. 28446
[X] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
I'm tempted to pick the bath
>> No. 28447
[x] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.

Explorin' time.
>> No. 28448
[c] Try some flying and see Gensokyo from above, maybe we might catch a sunset.
>> No. 28452
[x] See what she has in mind.

I am kind of curious what she would want to do here.
>> No. 28459
[x] Take a bath and see about reading something new together and talking about it. I'm sure Father wouldn't mind us borrowing a book from his library.
>> No. 28462
I'll try to have it done in the next week or two.
>> No. 28482
>>28462
Told you, you were tempting fate.
>> No. 28483
>>28482
Yeah you were right, both work and something Fyhlen decided to introduce me to. I'm hoping I can really get a chance sunday as I'm swamped with work otherwise.
>> No. 28487
still alive but sort of struggling with my schedule and update.
>> No. 28488
Well... we hit autosage, but good news everyone, I finished my update. Bad news? Proofer's going to AWA, go figure.

It'll be up in a new thread. Sorry about the wait.
>> No. 28490
Here >>28489
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