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18088 No. 18088
Starting the thread off right with a wall.

>>17822
No, no, you're doing it all wrong. You have to weave it in with one of the actual votes; say, "[X] Call for updates." or "[X] Get up and update as fast as you can." Try harder next time.

---

[X] Call for help.

You feel the beat of your own heart as you stare at your bloodied hand. You need to run, you need to get out of here, but the strength has left your legs, and you sit uselessly on the ground.

"...hey." You try to shout, but the sound that passes through your lips is barely a whisper. "Hey!" you try again, getting louder this time, "Someone! I'm--"

"Upsy-daisy!" Koishi's voice, followed by a pair of hands under your arms, lifting you back up onto your feet in a single motion. You test your legs, and find that you can stand; as you do, Koishi's hands pull you gently from behind, ever so slowy. You try to spin around and run, or at least tell Koishi to go faster, but quickly find that you can't do that and walk at the same time, nearly falling backward onto your escort.

"No hurry," she says near your ear. "We're just moving away from Yuugi so we don't get in her way."

No hurry? She must still not realize what happened. "We..." You try to speak, only to be cut off by a stabbing pain from your head. "You have to..."

Realizing how intent you are to speak, Koishi stops pulling you and moves around to your front, looking up into your eyes. "What is it, Taizou?"

"...you need to take me back to the palace. I'm hurt," you say, managing to raise your voice through the pain a bit more with each word. "We have to hurry before--"

"Shhh," she says, cutting you off by putting a slim finger to her lips. "You won't get hit again." Startled, you close your mouth, and her hand drifts away, caressing your cheek through the layer of liquid staining it. Your mouth literally falls open at the intimacy of the gesture, and the smile that Koishi has worn since you first met her dims slightly, accompanied by knitted brows of concentration.

"Are you... okay, Miss Koishi?" you ask uncertainly, trying to bring your hand up to meet her own. Before you can, though, her hand pushes farther back, running her fingers through your hair gently. Her expression is completely unreadable, none of the carefree girl you've seen up until now remaining. "Miss Koishi?" you echo.

"Are you ready?" she asks quietly, looking up at you with utmost seriousness.

"Ready for... what?" you ask, your already tense emotions reaching a breaking point. You catch a glimpse of a smile on her face before her hand darts back across your face and two of her fingers, covered in your blood, push their way into your mouth.

What the fuck? You jerk your head away as fast as you can, nearly biting down on her finger in the process, and try to spit out as much of it as you can, but you feel a bit slide down your throat, and the flavor of blood sticks on your...

...Wait, blood doesn't taste like this, does it? The flavor you taste is sweeter, somehow, and more watery; something more familiar. Something like...

Koishi giggles. "You figured it out?"

No way. You raise your hand to your head again and feel around for a wound through your damp hair, only to find nothing. Bringing your hand down to your face for another look, you see that the color of the liquid is much lighter and less vivid than blood, and that stuck between your fingers are little bits of...

"A tomato. Somebody threw a tomato at me." Your knees nearly give out again from the combination of relief and shock. You brush a hand against your forehead, and what you recognize now as about a fourth of a tomato falls out of your hair, landing on the ground at your feet. "What did you... How..." you stutter, only semi-coherent with confusion over Koishi's actions.

"Those aren't sentences, Taizou. Do you still have a head injury?" She giggles again and puts her hands on your shoulders. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

"...you aren't holding up your hands."

"Huh?" Koishi looks down at the space between the two of you, as though to confirm. "Oh! Whoops," she says with a giggle, taking one of her hands off of your shoulder to knock a fist against her head playfully. "I guess you're okay, then."

She seems to be right, you think, taking a deep breath out. Shaking your head again to clear your thoughts, though, sends another wave of pain through your skull, starting above your right eyebrow at what you guess was the point of impact. What's more, the ache in your shoulder from sparring with Yuugi has flared up again worse than ever.

---

Continued in next post.

>> No. 18089
Right, Yuugi! Looking down the street in the direction you came, you see Yuugi facing away from you, arguing with what looks like a group of kids. Putting a hand to your head, you make your way back over to her. Even walking hurts now, though; every step seems to vibrate through your skeleton up to that same point in your skull. Whoever threw that tomato must have a hell of an arm. "Miss Koishi, are you sure I'm not too badly hurt?" you ask.

"Yep! Your thanatos instinct is way too far on the inside!" she says, nodding earnestly.

"My what?" you ask.

"It's the part of you that tries to cope with injury by making you think you want to be dead. When you get injured, it moves closer to your conscious mind so you don't feel bad about dying. I can see it with my power!"

That's... really not comforting at all. If she says it means you're not hurt, you guess it's good news, but the idea gives you the creeps.

"Yours is suuuper big! Bigger than most people's!" she says, evidently oblivious to your uneasiness. "If you ever got really hurt, you might even start begging for death!" she says, beaming broadly.

...Wait, what? You fix her with what must be an odd look, but she just smiles back, apparently unaware of how creepy what she just said is. Did you mishear her or something?

"C'mon, kid, I'm givin' you a break here. Take your friends and get lost." You're close enough now that you can hear Yuugi's conversation with the kids.

"Go jump in a lava pit, stupid oni!" the kid says, and his band of friends behind him makes approving noises. You don't think he's an oni, but he's clearly a youkai of some sort; a pair of short antennae covered in some sort of armor dangle from his forehead, bobbing up and down as he moves. "You too, human!" he says, turning to yell at you as he notices you behind Yuugi. "How'd you like my welcoming present?"

"Ah, Taizou! You okay?" Yuugi asks, turning to put a hand on your shoulder and leaning forward to examing your head. "You dizzy or anything?"

"It hurts, but Miss Koishi says it's nothing permanent," you reply, and Yuugi looks back at the kids, gesturing to you with her other hand.

"At least the guy you hit is okay, you dumbass runts! What did he ever do to you, huh?"

"The stupid human doesn't belong down here if he's gonna team up with the oni!" the kid retorts. "What sort of human even gets along with oni, anyway?"

"'What sort of human?'" Yuugi's expression grows cold, and what was annoyance changes to plain anger. "This is your warning, brat. Shut the hell up and go home or I'm gonna bury you upside down and let you tunnel your way out."

"You think you can beat all of us?" he crows, gesturing to his friends. "You oni are all talk! I bet I could fight you myself!" With that, he suddenly raises a fist and punches into Yuugi's stomach. Yuugi takes a breath in and flinches, but her movement is too late to dodge, and the punch connects without a sound.

Wide-eyed and unmoving, Yuugi looks down at the site of impact. "Oh, fuck." The anger falls out of her voice, replaced by the tense hiss of urgency. She takes a quick look from side to side and over her shoulders, scanning the street as though for witnesses. Once satisfied, she takes a step in towards the boy, leaning over him and lowering her voice enough that you have a hard time hearing, even from your position not more than a few feet away. "Listen, kid, you just did somethin' real fuckin' stupid, but I'm gonna let you off the hook if you get the fuck out of here, now," she says through gritted teeth, thrusting a finger down the street in emphasis.

"Why would I leave now, stuuupid?" the kid says, crossing his arms. "I already told you you can't--"

"Yuugi, you were struck." The deep baritone cuts through the air, silencing anything else the boy (or anyone else in the area) was going to say. Without even thinking about it, you turn to look at the source.

From the moment you lay eyes on him, you know the man is an oni; not from any physical features, but from the aura of sheer ferocity that surrounds him. His entire body seems to be carved from stone, from his intense expression to his pillar-like legs; he looks like a moving statue, something you would build outside a shrine to scare away lesser youkai. Muscles bulge all over his body, so big that it seems as though his skin could rip open just from the pressure of walking. Yuugi is a few inches taller than you, but this man is easily a foot taller, reaching to at least seven feet, not counting the two branched, deer-like antlers protruding from either side of his forehead. After a moment of staring, you realize that he's moving towards the three of you, and you can hardly help but take a step out of his way. Out of the corner of your eye, you see Koishi do the same thing.

"You have an obligation to uphold under the agreement. Put the question to him." Even the man's words have a weight to them, and he speaks them with a measured air, as though reading them one by one from a script. His intonation doesn't reflect a question, but you can sense that he wants a response.

"I can discern his lack of desire to fight without asking directly," Yuugi says in a clear, if tense, voice.

"You fail to honor the spirit of the agreement," the man says, never stopping or slowing his walking pace.

Yuugi flinches as though to take a step back, but still doesn't move. "We differ in our perception of the spirit of the agreement," she says, not breaking eye contact with the man.

"Yes," he says, reaching his destination next to Yuugi, nearly close enough for their noses to be touching. The man looks her in the eye for just a moment without speaking; not long enough to be a stare, but too long to be without meaning. "I will act according to my perception," he says finally, and, breaking his gaze, faces the boy Yuugi was talking with, who, for some reason you can't fathom, has stayed nearby after all of his friends have long since fled.

The kid turns to move, but it's too late; the hand that comes down on his shoulder holds him in place as surely as if he had been nailed into the ground. Expression growing frantic, he gyrates wildly, trying to free himself, but the hand trapping him pulls him towards its owner, slowly, but without hesitation. Once the kid is moved into place, the oni's other hand comes down, grasping the other shoulder, and the boy, immobilized, looks up into his captor's face.

"You have struck Yuugi Hoshiguma the Strong, an oni of the underground. Your act of aggression, unprovoked and without reason, is an act against all oni. Have you any explanation for your action?"

By this point, the kid looks about ready to wet himself in fright, and the small crowd that had gathered around the scene after you got hit has multiplied. It's composed primarily of oni, a few of them nodding appreciatively and the majority just watching impassively, but other youkai are well represented as well, and they look significantly less pleased. You start as you look behind you to see one youkai with the same antennae as the kid being forcefully restrained by a few other non-oni youkai. Just what's going on here, anyway? What's going to happen to the kid?

[ ] Surely there's something you can do?
[ ] Ask Koishi for advice.
[ ] Try to signal Yuugi.
[ ] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18090
[x] Stay quiet.

Oh, hey, thought this was dead.
>> No. 18091
[x] Stay quiet.

Whatever is about to happen, the kid literally asked for it. Let him have it.

Trying to interfere in any way would probably really piss off the other oni too.
>> No. 18092
{X} Stay quiet.
>> No. 18098
[x] Stay quiet.

That brat threw a fucking tomato at us, do you know how deadly a tomato can be as a weapon? What if we were allergic to tomatoes, huh? Let him suffer.
>> No. 18099
[X] Surely there's something you can do?

Okay, woah, hold up. This newcomer oni looks damn near ready to kill the poor little bastard, and right in front of his mother, too. Stupid kid threw a tomato at us, but damn, this is just not cool. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Be a man. Stand up for what's right.
>> No. 18100
[X] Surely there's something you can do?

Too little, too late?
>> No. 18101
>>18099
Ah, whoops. I meant to mark this as a write-in option, with you specifying what exactly you wanted to do. In the absence of any specification, let's have it indicate trying to talk the council head into letting the kid go. And, of course, write-ins of any kind are always welcome.
>> No. 18102
[X] Surely there's something you can do?
>> No. 18105
>Okay, woah, hold up. This newcomer oni looks damn near ready to kill the poor little bastard, and right in front of his mother, too. Stupid kid threw a tomato at us, but damn, this is just not cool. Two wrongs don't make a right.

The tomato is a non-issue. Forget the tomato.

What matters here is that someone struck an oni in anger. From the way the big oni admonished Yuugi, this is obviously a part of their culture. Not only is it not our place to involve ourselves, it will also show that we're ignorant of oni customs, or that we just don't care, like the youkai kid who is about to be punished.

We're on very shaky ground already in this city. Causing trouble for Yuugi and other oni will work against you if you want to do the Right Thing, which is not fixing this single incident you happened to see, but to prevent it from ever happening again in the future. Your best bet for that would to go through Satori and Koishi, not attempting to stand down individual oni in the street.

Finally, he's a youkai. He'll regenerate or reincarnate eventually. You won't.
>> No. 18106
>>18089
>You have an obligation to uphold under the agreement.
>I can discern his lack of desire to fight without asking directly
>You have struck Yuugi Hoshiguma the Strong, an oni of the underground. Your act of aggression, unprovoked and without reason, is an act against all oni. Have you any explanation for your action?
>It's composed primarily of oni, a few of them nodding appreciatively and the majority just watching impassively, but other youkai are well represented as well, and they look significantly less pleased.

Things we can (probably) tell about this agreement: it's between the oni and the rest of the youkai residents regarding acts of aggression, certain aspects of this agreement are contentious between the residents of the underground city, and while the spirit/intent of the agreement is open to interpretation, it involves a highly formalized procedure. Unfortunately that's all we can guess at, but it's enough to lawyer around with what we definitely know:

[X] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, and unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
-[x] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.

Provide a valid reason for being in the city, but admit that a human walking around a youkai city like it's nothing special was probably not the smartest thing and was asking for trouble (like with that d-bag from before). Also, appeal to the notion that third parties shouldnt't be getting involved in the issues of others when it comes to personal disputes. This'll let the oni can withdraw while saving face and the youkai aren't provoked. I doubt the way it shakes down will be as verbose as the write-in, but it expresses the intent.
>> No. 18113
[x] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, and unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
-[x] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.
>> No. 18116
>>18093
Changing my vote. At first I thought there was nothing we could do without angering the oni, but I think >>18106 is on to something.

[X] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, and unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
-[X] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.
>> No. 18117
[X] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, and unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
-[X] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.
>> No. 18119
[x] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, and unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
-[x] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.
>> No. 18141
>>18106
Your write-in is stupid and you are stupid. Thank cod for democracy.
[x] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18142
[x] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18145
[x] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18146
>>18105

Jesus fuck people listen to this guy.

[X] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18147
[x] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18151
[x] Try to signal Yuugi.

Forgetting diplomacy, but not turning a blind eye, he's still just a kid - albeit a stupid one - and there's a worried parent being held back from protecting its kin. Now as much as it would help to knock some sense into the both of them, Taizou doesn't seem the type to regard discipline so highly(given our options, as well). For the most part, we could persuade Yuugi into telling the other Oni to stand down, without really getting involved in the incident ourselves. I'm sure she'd understand our feelings in this matter.
>> No. 18154
[X] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, yet unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
-[x] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.

FTFM, because that 'and unintended' pissed me off to no end.

>>18105
I like the sentiment of wanting to prevent this kind of thing happening in the future, but I fail to see how working through Satori is going to remedy the situation. Aren't they on bad enough terms as it is?

Anyway, it's not like we're telling the oni their notions are wrong. The kid socked Yuugi, but only because she stood up for us. Taizou's as much a part of the equation in this conflict (as the catalyst) as Yuugi, the kid, and the tomato. I don't think getting involved is as terrible afront to oni culture as long as we avoid saying their agreement is stupid and they're stupid for using it. Worst comes to worst, the kid gets pulped, the big oni thinks you're a snot nosed trouble-maker, and Yuugi fwaps you on the back of the head for sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. Best case scenario, Taizou gets a skill up in bladder control as he tries to assert himself in front of a 3 meter tall pillar of muscle.
>> No. 18156
>I like the sentiment of wanting to prevent this kind of thing happening in the future, but I fail to see how working through Satori is going to remedy the situation. Aren't they on bad enough terms as it is?

That's the point. Satori lazes away in her palace of mazes, nearly impossible to find even if they actually wanted to see her for some reason. She is a governor who doesn't govern, so out of touch with the populace, that they think she's plotting against them. Obviously the laissez-faire method isn't working if altercations like this happen regularly. Satori is the one who has to change. Maybe if we can show her that being around other people is not so bad, and that she doesn't drive them away, maybe she'll be brave enough to step outside and start doing her job.

>The kid socked Yuugi, but only because she stood up for us. Taizou's as much a part of the equation in this conflict (as the catalyst) as Yuugi, the kid, and the tomato.

I'm telling you, to the oni, the reason why the youkai struck her does not matter. At all. They do not like you. They have no respect for your wishes, nor any obligation to treat you as an equal.

All those oni onlookers, especially the ones smiling, are going to be very unhappy with you if you attempt to get in the way of this custom, which is clearly a ritualized and very public matter. The next time you step out the door, it's not tomatoes you'll be dodging, it'll be rocks. And the kind of rocks oni throw are the really, really big kind.
>> No. 18160
File 123948756860.jpg - (358.12KB , 661x917 , 1119442.jpg ) [iqdb]
18160
>>18156
>Satori is the one who has to change. Maybe if we can show her that being around other people is not so bad, and that she doesn't drive them away, maybe she'll be brave enough to step outside and start doing her job.

But Satori is only one half of the problem. There's some deep-seated animosity amongst the oni towards the Yamas for not letting them rule hell back in the day. That resentment is spilling over into harassing Satori (I think that's what Yuugi said in >>15894). Satori needs to quit being a recluse, true, but the oni have to let put the past behind them. If you only engage one side there's no way the situation is going to be resolved entirely.

>I'm telling you, to the oni, the reason why the youkai struck her does not matter. At all. They do not like you. They have no respect for your wishes, nor any obligation to treat you as an equal.

If the reason doesn't matter, why would Yuugi and this new oni have different interpretations of the agreement? The majority of the oni watching don't seem to really care, only a few seem to approve of this course of action. That difference in interest gives the sense that there is no uniform understanding of whatever the terms of the agreement are. Engaging the new oni is going to pique the interest of all observing, but only the few approving this course of action will be upset, if that. There's the potential for shooting ourselves in the foot with this, but how is Taizou going to win the approval of the oni, a fierce and competitive race, by being quiet and unresponsive? I'd rather engage and be proven wrong than assume and never know.

Enough of that, though, this quite has been chewing on my mind for a while now:
>"What sort of human even gets along with oni, anyway?"
>"'What sort of human?'" Yuugi's expression grows cold, and what was annoyance changes to plain anger.
Same demeanor she was in when she got back from meeting with the council the first time. Something about disparaging human/oni relations really gets her fired up... Really pisses her off that people think the two can't get along... I want a Yuugi route.
>> No. 18161
>>I want a Yuugi route

Same here, if only because Underground LA is the only place in which there is likely to be a Yuugi route.
>> No. 18163
>But Satori is only one half of the problem. There's some deep-seated animosity amongst the oni towards the Yamas for not letting them rule hell back in the day. That resentment is spilling over into harassing Satori (I think that's what Yuugi said in >>15894). Satori needs to quit being a recluse, true, but the oni have to let put the past behind them. If you only engage one side there's no way the situation is going to be resolved entirely.

Of course, but it's not us who needs to engage them. It's Satori, and it's Yuugi. Expressed scruples on the part of something they used to eat, and now greet by throwing tomatoes at, will only further seem to radicalize those we associate with.

>why would Yuugi and this new oni have different interpretations of the agreement?

Note how although she disagrees with his interpretation she does not and will not actually intervene, despite her reservations. She doesn't like this any more than you do, but she knows how far she can go, you do not.

>The majority of the oni watching don't seem to really care, only a few seem to approve of this course of action.

They have lives. If they didn't care, they wouldn't be watching.

>That difference in interest gives the sense that there is no uniform understanding of whatever the terms of the agreement are.

You obviously have a very shaky handle on group mentality. Two words: Kitty Genovese.

>Engaging the new oni is going to pique the interest of all observing, but only the few approving this course of action will be upset, if that.

A boy throws a tomato at someone and no one even gives him so much as a dirty look. That a boy (with a gang of other boys) threw it at you in the first place should have given you the hint. You grossly overestimate the public standing of the protagonist.

>There's the potential for shooting ourselves in the foot with this, but how is Taizou going to win the approval of the oni, a fierce and competitive race, by being quiet and unresponsive?


The approval of the Oni is not what matters here. Fuck the rest of the oni. Yuugi doesn't care for them, I don't care for them, Satori doesn't care for them. And as I stated above, the only way we'll effect any long-term changes is by working through our associates. This isn't Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is deeply-set racism that's been reified among a population for centuries.

>I'd rather engage and be proven wrong than assume and never know.

The sad thing is that you won't even be that. Most of the city was not capable of even hearing you to begin with.

>I want a Yuugi route.

That's what I've always been pushing for. We'll be the perfect waifu.
>> No. 18166
>>18163
>Of course, but it's not us who needs to engage them. It's Satori, and it's Yuugi. Expressed scruples on the part of something they used to eat, and now greet by throwing tomatoes at, will only further seem to radicalize those we associate with.

Too bad he's already part of a team responsible for mediating the fairness of an upcoming investigation. Taizou's reporting the findings of that excursion to the council as well. Engaging with them is presently a necessity. Furthermore, I'm also having a difficult time trying to reconcile Taizou's duty as a neutral third party for the investigation and trying to resolve a dispute by interacting solely with one side. How does that latter approach fit in with being "unaffected by the outcome, but who still cares enough to make sure nobody gets a raw deal?" Satori, sure: a fresh perspective and a sympathetic ear can work wonders. But trying to satisfy/reconcile the concerns held by the oni without directly interacting with them is impractical. It hinges on details regarding Yuugi's relationship with the council and the other oni. Until that becomes more apparent, it's difficult to say one way or another if she has the ability/authority/willingness to even effect the kinds changes needed to resolve the situation. That's not to say Taizou will definitely be able to put himself into such a position as a human in a youkai city, but I am certainly not foreclosing the idea right now.

>Note how although she disagrees with his interpretation she does not and will not actually intervene, despite her reservations. She doesn't like this any more than you do, but she knows how far she can go, you do not.

Now that's an excellent point. This plus the response by the non-oni youkai indicate that this person is of some significant authority figure within the oni community. Even if she dislikes the way this guy operates, as an oni she's obligated/honor bound to acquiesce to his judgment. Good thing we're not oni.

>A boy throws a tomato at someone and no one even gives him so much as a dirty look. That a boy (with a gang of other boys) threw it at you in the first place should have given you the hint. You grossly overestimate the public standing of the protagonist.

I'm not following. I'm saying a human confronting an oni (a very important one it seems) while a fair sized crowd is focused on him is going to raise eyebrows and gain some attention. You're saying the youkai didn't care a human got beaned by some fruit. Unless I'm missing something, those observations don't seem too hard to reconcile.

>The approval of the Oni is not what matters here. Fuck the rest of the oni. Yuugi doesn't care for them, I don't care for them, Satori doesn't care for them. And as I stated above, the only way we'll effect any long-term changes is by working through our associates. This isn't Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This is deeply-set racism that's been reified among a population for centuries.

This is something we're just going to disagree about on a fundamental level. As I said before, a unilateral approach to the dispute between the oni and the palace by focusing squarely on influencing Satori is a myopic approach that won't even come close to providing an acceptable outcome. Furthermore, coming from an alternative dispute resolution approach, you always considers the interests of all the parties involved. Finding overlapping or misunderstood interests and reconciling them achieves satisfactory results for everyone without butthurt caused by a more adversarial process.
Second, just like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, we have the good fortune of being situated squarely in the realm of fiction and being the protagonist.

>They have lives. If they didn't care, they wouldn't be watching.
>You obviously have a very shaky handle on group mentality. Two words: Kitty Genovese.
>The sad thing is that you won't even be that. Most of the city was not capable of even hearing you to begin with.

That's just, like, your opinion, man.
>> No. 18167
[x] Stay quiet.
>> No. 18367
[X] Try to update LA.
[X] Everyone STFU.
>> No. 18453
Update will probably be today, but definitely no later than tomorrow, depending on whether I decide to break it up with a choice or not.

>>18367
On the contrary, the fact that at least two people have enough interest in the story to argue about it fills me with an inexpressible joy. By all means, debate away.
>> No. 18580
[X] Try to update LA.

Back up to the top~
>> No. 18604
>>18453
Okay, so I lied. It may just be best to assume I'm going to miss any deadline I set for myself in the thread by a day or so. As though you don't assume that already.

---

[X] Surely there's something you can do: Introduce yourself to the new oni and describe your business in the city. Explain that the altercation was provoked due to your careless, yet unintended, provocation of the residents of the city. Apologize to Yuugi for getting caught up in your dispute, but request that she and the new oni and withdraw from the disagreement between you and the child.
[X] Assuming the oni agree, tell the kid you've important business to take care of right now, but you'll accept his formal challenge later.

"I will ask again, speaking as leader of the oni of the underground," the oni says in the same measured tone as before. "Have you any explanation for your action against us?" The kid in his grasp, though, reacts as though he's just been slapped, twisting his head as far away from his captor as it will go and scrunching his eyes shut, literally quivering in fear.

This... isn't right. The kid can't be that old, and even if he did break some law, it can't be worth the punishment that he seems to think he's going to get. A quick look over at Yuugi tells you she doesn't feel too differently; her fists are clenched at her side and she grits her teeth as though trying to keep herself from reacting.

Even if she can keep quiet through this, though, you can't. "Council Head Kisaburou Oosenri," you say sharply, loud enough to be heard by everyone around you. The noise that runs through the crowd can't really be called a murmur; it's as though everyone turned to their neighbor and started talking all at once. As loud as it is, you can make out a few snippets of conversation here and there.

"--he nuts? He's just gonna get--"

"--business does this guy have, coming--"

"--gonna try to stand up to him? About time someone--"

sThe council head doesn't show any sign of having heard you, at first. Then, ever so slowly, without moving any other part of his body, he turns his head towards you, fixing you with a glare that makes you want to dig a hole in the ground, then crawl into it and die. "Taizou Hori," he says, in the same clear tone as before that seems to cut through the ambient noise and dive into your ears.

Guess that's all the acknowledgement you're going to get. Swallowing once to wet your suddenly-dry throat, you summon up all your skill at speaking diplomatically and begin.

"I would like... to intercede on the behalf of that child."

If you thought the crowd was loud before, you had no idea; you can hear people actually shouting at you now, though you can't even tell whether they're for or against you through the din. You sense Koishi moving at your side, but you don't dare turn your head and look away from the council head.

"What need is there for an intercession?" he replies, his cold anger still transmitted through the noise of the crowd. "I witnessed the child's action myself. He has acted against the oni. Will you testify to the contrary?"

You shake your head. You're not completely sure of what's going on here, but you know that the kid's getting punished for hitting Yuugi. Maybe if you can convince the council head that he doesn't deserve it, then...

"I fear I may have provoked his attack."

Silence. The screams of the crowd stop in an instant, and the only voices you can hear are urgent whispers between observers. The council head stays silent as well, but removes a single hand from the kid's shoulder and turns his whole body to face you. As he does, he draws his body up to its full height, and you find yourself noting exactly how close the two of you are to each other, and wondering how long it would take him to cross that distance and punch you into next week if he decides you're the one who acted against the oni.

...This may have been a bad idea.

"What was the nature of this provocation?" he says, even more coldly than before, if such a thing is possible. You take an involuntary step back; a small concession to the reasonable portion of your brain that's telling you to run away

"I-In entering the city without proper preparation, I may have, ah..." you stutter, running out of steam. How are you supposed to cast this as anyone's fault but that kid's, anyway? Well, if it was because you're a human that you got attacked, you'll have to go with that. "That is, by virtue of my species, I may have incited more unease than if I had met with the proper authorities beforehand, such as yourself," you finish, hoping that the ego stroke you slipped in at the end will be enough to get him to listen to you.

It clearly isn't, though, as he turns away from you and back to the kid before you even finish speaking. "Your actions did not make this situation unavoidable, and thus have no connection to the matter at hand." As he finishes, his other hand returns to its position on the child's shoulder.

"Nonetheless, I feel a sense of responsibility for what has occurred here," you say, speaking quickly now, hoping to get his attention away from the kid again. "Had I not chosen to--"

"'Had I not,' you say," the council head echoes without looking at you, and for the first time, the anger in his voice is fresh, the kind that makes people take action. "I have no interest in hypotheticals. As you do not seem to understand the mechanisms at work here, I will ask you directly: did you compel this child, against his will, to take action against the oni?"

You pause, and for the first time since you spoke out, your eyes shift away, down to the kid, still trapped in his grip. The look you receive in return can only be described as wordless begging; if anything, the kid looks more desperate than before.

[ ] "Yes." If this is what it takes to get the kid off the hook, you'll do it.
[ ] "No." You're in way over your head.
[ ] Genuflect.

---

Incidentally, what are your opinions on update length and scheduling? Should I bother shooting for walls, or is the Klaymen-type style of relatively short updates on a tighter schedule better? In all honesty, your input probably won't affect me much, since I doubt I could change how I write without putting in more time and effort than I have to spare, but I'd still like to know what people prefer.
>> No. 18605
>>18604

Wait. Didn't stay quiet win?
>> No. 18608
>>18605
Oh bugger. I had counted it as a tie at first and picked one randomly, but it looks like I counted the lone "Signal Yuugi" vote as one for the write-in by accident.

I'm honestly not that excited about the prospect of writing a different option for the same choice, and I'm sure you're all tired of waiting for updates by now, but in the spirit of democracy, I'll leave it to you, the readers. If you don't mind this option winning, go ahead and vote as usual; if there are five or more votes when I check tomorrow, I'll just continue without rewriting.
>> No. 18611
We got updates, I don't mind.

[x]Genuflect.

Seriously, we're screwed.

But not helping the kid out is just not our style!
>> No. 18612
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18613
File 124002323342.png - (158.13KB , 250x281 , RetconPunch.png ) [iqdb]
18613
[x] Retcon punch
>> No. 18614
>>18611

Since when do we have a style?

And how the hell does genuflecting help?
>> No. 18619
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18621
{X} "Yes." If this is what it takes to get the kid off the hook, you'll do it
>> No. 18623
>>18604
>It clearly isn't, though, as he turns away from you and back to the kid before you even finish speaking. "Your actions did not make this situation unavoidable, and thus have no connection to the matter at hand." As he finishes, his other hand returns to its position on the child's shoulder.

Really? No connection to the matter? Everything Kisaburou said before and after this made sense, but to so definitively say something like this, but we're the matter. We are the underlying element of the dispute. Remove us from the situation and there's no reason for Yuugi and this brat to argue. Saying that we have no connection to the 'matter' is the same problematic perception and thought-process that causes so much crap for Satori. Taizou's half-hearted delivery didn't really help, but this smacks of having reached a conclusion before all the facts are out. He wants to find this kid guilty, and he'll adopt whatever narrow interpretation of this 'agreement' he can to see it through.

[X] "Yes."

Cutting the malarky.

>>18608
Meh, the more (insanely) interesting idea would to run parallel stories branching from this moment: one where Taizou tries to stand up to the oni in a fit of passion, and one where his machinations won't let him do anything until the time is right. Kamina-Taizou v. Lelouche-Taizou.
>> No. 18625
>>18623
>Remove us from the situation and there's no reason for Yuugi and this brat to argue.
>"Your actions did not make this situation unavoidable, and thus have no connection to the matter at hand."
While "no connection" isn't right, the first part is dead on. The kid chose to throw the tomato; even if we "provoked" him, he made the choice himself. He chose himself to attack Yuugi. The current situation was avoidable; he could have at any time chosen to do something less hostile. He is the true instigator.

Not that I'd say he really deserves it or anything. The agreement is stupid. I'd try to reason with the Oni by saying that the kid is just a kid, and even if he did attack Yuugi, he is of absolutely no threat to her. The problem with that is that it'll probably be seen as an insult to the oni, or calling their stupid 'agreement' stupid, or something along those lines.
>> No. 18629
File 124002605490.jpg - (58.38KB , 700x535 , futurama.jpg ) [iqdb]
18629
[x] "Yes." If this is what it takes to get the kid off the hook, you'll do it.

Snoo-snoo?
>> No. 18630
>>18625
I'm picking up what you're putting down. Just because we happened to be there doesn't mean the kid had to throw crap at us (unless the agreement is way more messed up than originally thought). Technically, we should be the one bitching out/ignoring this kid.

To me, the nasty catch of it all is that it may have been Yuugi's decision to get involved (I can't say definitively because for some key moments there Taizou was too worried about having a massive head injury to care what Yuugi was doing) in a situation that didn't need her intervention. The only reason oni and their agreement are involved was because she may have entered into a disagreement that didn't involve her to begin with (still guessing). Kinda stupid to think she wouldn't get involved considering her way of thinking (towards humans?), but it still may have been her decision. That said, I'll vote for the most blatantly labeled Bad End before we even think of trying to pin this on anyone but ourselves.
>> No. 18632
>>18614

Disgaea 2 reference.

...I'll get my coat.
>> No. 18633
[x]Genuflect.
>> No. 18651
[x] You'll decide this over a spellcard duel
>> No. 18656
[x] Ask Komeiji for advice.

I think she probably knows a lot more about the oni than we do.
>> No. 18657
[x] "Yes." If this is what it takes to get the kid off the hook, you'll do it

It'd be horribly mean otherwise, and frankly, I don't think we could do it.
>> No. 18658
File 124006753691.png - (35.37KB , 736x736 , awesome.png ) [iqdb]
18658
[X] LET'S LIE TO AN ONI
>> No. 18660
[x]Genuflect.
>> No. 18663
[x] "No. However, being that the child caused me offense first, then Miss Hoshiguma and yours, means that my affairs with the boy will take precedence. You can deal with the boy as you wish, after I receive my own satisfaction."

Stalling tactics. This will give us time to at least find out what they were going to do with him, in a manner that doesn't make us look like a total coward.

And Jesus is there some rampant stupidity going on in this thread. Lying to an oni in front of an entire crowd of oni? Really?
>> No. 18666
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18670
[X] "No. However, being that the child caused me offense first, then Miss Hoshiguma and yours, means that my affairs with the boy will take precedence. You can deal with the boy as you wish, after I receive my own satisfaction."

I like it. Let's do it.
>> No. 18674
Switch my awful genuflect joke for a vote for the write in, then.

[X] "No. However, being that the child caused me offense first, then Miss Hoshiguma and yours, means that my affairs with the boy will take precedence. You can deal with the boy as you wish, after I receive my own satisfaction."
>> No. 18675
What lying? We just said that by technicality, yes, we provoked the kid.
>> No. 18676
Do you people have a plan on how to punish this kid, assuming the Oni agrees? I'm sure you'll have to do something to him, and I doubt doing anything physical would count.
>> No. 18677
>>18676

We shouldn't actually have to do anything. Hell, we should be able to postpone "dealing" with the situation at all indefinitely, just by constantly claiming that we're working on it. It's not like he can say anything after brushing us off for being "unconnected" to the so-called situation between the kid and him - he is of no connection to the incident between the kid and us, and so he can just keep his fucking nose out of how we choose to deal with the kid, thank-you-very-much. He basically provided us with the perfect argument to shut him down.
>> No. 18678
>>18675

Words mean things.

>"I have no interest in hypotheticals. As you do not seem to understand the mechanisms at work here, I will ask you directly: did you compel this child, against his will, to take action against the oni?"
>> No. 18681
>>18676

He injured a human, putting him under human jurisdiction. And we just happen to be the only human down here. We cannot interfere with the oni law, just as they cannot interfere with human law, whatever we decide that law may be. If they want extradition, well they'll just have to go to a higher power, won't they? Oni don't seem the type to jump through bureaucratic hurdles, so they'll either 1) let the matter drop, or 2) take matters into their own hands, which they were essentially going to do already.
>> No. 18692
>>18691
Or you could vote for [x]rewrite and go one post back.
>> No. 18694
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18695
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18696
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18698
>>18693 >>18694 >>18695

ಠ_ಠ
>> No. 18699
>>18698

>ಠ_ಠ

ಠ_ಠ
>> No. 18703
>>18704

щ(゚Д゚щ)
>> No. 18704
>>18703

┐(´д`)┌
>> No. 18705
°ε°
>> No. 18707
°3°
>> No. 18712
Alright, what the hell? First one option was winning, then several of its votes were deleted and replaced with votes for the write-in, some of which were posted close together, then those votes were deleted in favor of rewriting the post, several votes for which came in only seconds apart, and I can't tell what the hell is going on anymore.

Someone get a mod in here to check for vote spamming. This shit is ridiculous.
>> No. 18713
>>18712
Agreed. The fluctuations in votes the last couple times is bordering on absurd. More than a few times now I've seen strings of 3 to 4 sequential votes for the same option disappear. For some reason, I don't think this CYOA attracts a majority of anon that are both easily persuadable and highly mindful of their post password.
>> No. 18715
>>18713
I know there was an anon who deleted two votes yes into two votes rewrite, or perhaps vice-versa?

Between 18614 and 18619, though it seems he's deleted his posts once again.
>> No. 18716
[x] Rewrite (stay quiet).
To retcon the completely ridiculous 'Let's lie and stand up to a bunch of oni over a kid who threw a tomato at us' stance we seem to have taken. I hate it when protagonists act like they're Jesus or whatever.
>> No. 18717
Just to reiterate my point:

glasnost, please ask a mod to check these votes for you before proceeding. This situation has gotten out of hand, and it needs to be put down.
>> No. 18719
>>18692
Point.
[x] Rewrite
>> No. 18720
[X] Rewrite.

I don't know what hamfuckery is going on here, but I don't like it, not from one side OR the other.
>> No. 18732
[+] Rewrite.
>> No. 18754
Even taking the votespam into consideration, "[X] Rewrite" carries the day, so here you go. Those of you who liked where this was going, rest assured: the major difference between this and the 'No' write-in was character affinities, and there's plenty of time left to make friends or enemies with whoever you see fit.

---

[X] Rewrite.
[X] Stay quiet.

You can't let this happen. Sure, the kid's at fault for just about everything, but you can't bring yourself to be happy about punishing someone who's barely old enough to know better, especially if the punishment is going to be as bad as it looks from the reactions of the people around you. This all started because of the damn tomato; can't you just forgive him yourself and end all this? You open your mouth, preparing yourself to say something, anything...

...and close it again silently. No, no matter how much you want to interfere, you know from what Yuugi said that there's no way the council head will accept anything you say. You'd be doing more harm than good by speaking out.

...At least, that's what you tell yourself as the kid continues to whimper pathetically in the grasp of his captor. "Have you no reply?" the oni asks, and finally, the child swallows heavily and speaks.

"I'm sorry..." His voice comes out in a high-pitched sob, and tears begin to flow down his face before he can finish. "Please don't hurt me," he whispers, barely loud enough for you to hear over the din of the crowd. "I didn't mean to..."

The council head's expression, however, doesn't change at all. "Very well," he says in that cold, businesslike tone, the only one you've heard him use. "As agreed by the oni of the Underground, you will suffer a punishment of blood for blood."

At the sound of the word 'blood', the crowd noise drops to nothing, spoken conversations turning to whispers as all attention in focused on the council head and his captive. The only exception is behind you, where the sound of a struggle is barely obscured by a single voice, shouting at the top of its lungs. Looking behind you to its source, you see the same youkai that was being restrained, still struggling wildly against the youkai holding him back. "Bastard!" he shouts, managing to pull an arm free before another youkai jumps on it, weighing him down again. "Don't touch him!"

A parent? Guardian? The council head doesn't seem to notice either way, not sparing a look in the youkai's direction as he turns to Yuugi. "Yuugi. As the wronged party, it falls to you to administer the punishment. Will you accept this responsibility?

The muscles in Yuugi's arms, already tensed in self-restraint, flex once, and for a moment, she looks like she could jump forward and attack the other oni. In the end, however, she doesn't move, instead staring the council head in the eye as she speaks. "No crime worthy of the punishment you suggest has been committed," she says through teeth gritted so tightly it looks like they might crack.

"If you refuse, the duty of administering punishment will fall to me," the council head says, a little too quickly, as though he had been anticipating that response for a while. "I will ask again. Will you administer the punishment?"

Yuugi doesn't speak for a moment, staring stonily at the other oni. After a long moment, she turns her head away, looking down, and spits roughly on the ground. "I refuse," she says with a voice full of hate.

"Very well." He turns back to the child, still sobbing, and removes his right hand from his shoulder. At the same time, his grip on the left shoulder tightens, and as you watch, he slowly raises his left hand into the air, bringing the child, now shrieking in pain and kicking his feet uselessly against thin air, up to his own eye level. "Prepare yourself," he says, cocking his fist at his side.

The whispers of the crowd, the screams of the youkai behind you, the cries of the child -- for an instant, everything goes silent.

And then the oni brings his fist forward, crashing into the kid's stomach.

The first thing you hear is the hideous crunch of breaking bone, like the sound of an axe splitting firewood. At that instant of contact, the kid's body responds as though he was shocked, legs jerking directionlessly as he tries to double over in midair. After a moment of flailing, his head goes limp and he empties the contents of his stomach onto the ground below. As he does, the council head unceremoniously drops him to the ground, where he holds his hands over his stomach, tucking his knees against his chest and gasping for breath between moans of pain.

The council head looks down at him for a moment, expression unchanging, then looks back up, staring into the crowd for a moment, as though daring them to challenge his actions. After a second, he steps back, turning his back on his victim. As he does, a non-oni springs out of the crowd and rushes to the kid's side, crouching over him to check his vitals. You see the kid shake violently once, coughing up what looks like blood, before your view is blocked by his caregiver leaning over to say something into his ear.

You turn away. You'd rather not see any more. As if on cue, Yuugi and Koishi do the same, the three of you coming together as you move away from the scene.

"Son of a bitch!"

Startled by the sudden yell, you look to your side to see the youkai from before, the one that was being held back, close enough to touch now, close enough for him to touch you. You take a step back, and--

Find yourself on the ground, shoved out of the way before you realized what was happening. Looking up, you see the council head standing behind the youkai, effortlessly trapping his arms. "Yuugi, I will be delayed," he says, with no apparent concern for his current situation. "Take Mr. Hori to the council house."

Yuugi steps up to your side. "S'go," she mumbles, voice muted, extending a hand down to you. You take it, and you and Koishi follow her down the street. By now, most of the crowd has dispersed, but the ones that are left give you no better treatment, with some of the non-oni cursing you openly as you walk past. Not that you can say that you blame them; if it was you in the same situation, you'd lash out at anyone you could. Deciding to try to ignore it, you turn to Yuugi and try to start a conversation.

Her expression, however, is frozen, the same as it was after she refused the council head: head tilted down, eyes staring straight ahead, biting her lip hard enough that you're surprised she hasn't drawn blood. "Yuugi?" you say tentatively, trying to meet her eyes.

"Yeah," she replies without looking at you, her voice sounding more like mumbling to herself than a reply.

You sigh. You know how she feels, but this isn't her fault any more than it is yours, or anyone else's. The question is whether or not she's in a state to believe that.

[ ] Comfort her. "It's not your fault."
[ ] Distract her. "So what are we going to do at the council house?"
[ ] Say nothing.
[ ] Write-in.
>> No. 18755
[ ] Distract her. "So what are we going to do at the council house?"
>> No. 18758
[x] "I'm sorry..."
[x] Stay silent the rest of the way.
>> No. 18763
[x] "I'm sorry..."
[x] Stay silent the rest of the way.

This sounds good.
>> No. 18764
[X] "I'm sorry..."
[X] Stay silent the rest of the way.

I am. Mister Big is fucking dick. Damn. Poor kid sure as hell didn't deserve that.
>> No. 18777
[x] "I'm sorry..."
[x] Stay silent the rest of the way.
>> No. 18780
[X] "I'm sorry..."
[X] Stay silent the rest of the way.
>> No. 18809
>>18757
[x] Comfort her. "It's not your fault."
[x] "But I need to know, what are the terms of this 'agreement'?"
>> No. 18814
Everything that you could say would fade into insignificance, compared to what your heart feels and what her heart feels this moment.

[x] Say nothing.
[x] Take her palm in yours.
>> No. 18816
[X] Say nothing.
[X] Take her palm in yours.

I like this more. Vote change.
>> No. 18817
>>18816

And by that, I mean discard >>18764. Bloody post passwords.
>> No. 18819
[x] Say nothing.
[x] Take her palm in yours.
>> No. 18820
>>18754
[X] Say nothing.
[X] Take her palm in yours.

While I don't think we're really in a hand-holding kind of relationship with Yuugi, it's more of an expression of solidarity and support to me. I think it's probably the best kind of support Taizou can offer.
>> No. 18823
[X] Say nothing.
[X] Take her palm in yours.

This works.
>> No. 18877
After what just happened, I wouldn't want to make any physical gestures toward her. Who the hell knows what hand-holding implies in oni society?

[x] "I'm sorry..."
[x] Stay silent the rest of the way.
>> No. 18947
[x] "I'm sorry..."
[x] Stay silent the rest of the way.
>> No. 18955
[X] Say nothing.
[X] Take her palm in yours.

Vote changed
>> No. 18959
[X] "I'm sorry..."
[X] Stay silent the rest of the way.
>> No. 18961
[z] Say nothing.
[e] Take her palm in yours.

Selur eht era selur.
>> No. 18962
Some one needs to enlighten me: if we say "I'm sorry," it means we are apologizing for something. What are exactly we apologizing for?
Getting hit by a tomato?
Being human?
Being with her?
Being with Komeji?
Coming to the underground?
That she had to be questioned by the other oni?
That she didn't administer the punisment herself?
Being a burden on her?
Not standing up for ourselves?
Getting her in trouble?
Letting her temper get the better of her?

Apologies are never a bad thing. They're a balm for what can seem to be insurmountable problems. The issue is context, though. Are we apologizing for the right thing? Someone needs to elaborate.
>> No. 18976
>>18962
There's nothing. It's obligation, like when you hear someone has lost an important person, or when they tell you about their horrible day. Having an active part just makes us feel like shit; all the more reason to say it.

How about a general apology for every reason you just listed? Play the beaten puppy. That works. Besides, it's all true, anyway.
>> No. 18978
>>18962
For (unintentionally) being part of this incident, and for being powerless to help. It's not our fault, but this still wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been here.
>> No. 18980
>>18877
>After what just happened, I wouldn't want to make any physical gestures toward her. Who the hell knows what hand-holding implies in oni society?

I do not have enough facepalm for this sentiment. You think she's going to be adverse to physical contact because she saw something that horrified her? 1) Women seek such contact in these situations. 2) She is an oni: The first thing she wanted to do when she saw us was wrestle. 3) She just gave us her hand to help us up from the ground:
>Yuugi steps up to your side. "S'go," she mumbles, voice muted, extending a hand down to you.

Apologizing for doing something here just serves to highlight that you're suffering because of this, and will make her feel even angrier. Now, she might not focus that anger on us, or herself, but more anger isn't something she needs.

She needs something that will interrupt the regret->blaming->action cycle. Even the meekest form of physical contact is sufficient. Holding someone's hand after you've just been through trouble is not only a universally understood gesture of commiseration, it is an affirmation that even though you are worried about what might come, you feel safer with this person.
>> No. 18982
>>18980
HAND CRUSH
>> No. 18989
[x] Say nothing.
[x] Take her palm in yours.

That other write-in sounds overly angsty for my tastes.
>> No. 18996
[X] Say nothing.
[X] Take her palm in yours.
>> No. 18998
Calling it for hand-holding. Shooting for updates tomorrow, with all that implies.
>> No. 19010
>>18998

hooray!
>> No. 19203
File 124076654218.jpg - (440.48KB , 900x700 , 31.jpg ) [iqdb]
19203
Why do I even bother estimating update time? Ugh. And just to pile on the bad news, there will be at most one update during the next two weeks as classes wrap up and I flail around wildly trying to balance finals with work.

In other news, I'm giving up on trying to find appropriate pictures for updates. Pic related.

---

[X] Say nothing.
[X] Take her palm in yours.

You say her name once again, but she doesn't even respond the second time. Maybe it's better that way, you think to yourself; it's not like there's nothing you could say now to make this any better, anyway. You don't know any of the details here; maybe there was something she could have done.

But if you're going to to think like that, maybe there was something you could have done to prevent this. It was your presence in the city that sparked the whole incident, and you were just as silent as everyone else while the council head enacted his 'punishment'. If you had spoken out, maybe...

No, you think, shaking your head to clear the thought away. Even if that were true, nothing good can come of beating yourself up over it. For now, at least, all you can do is resolve to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again, and move forward.

And the same goes for Yuugi. You have to say something; tell her you're sorry for what happened, tell her she did the right thing, tell her that her boss is a dick, anything to break her out of the funk she's in now. Every time you open your mouth, though, the words you want to say just don't seem to match up to the bitter expression on her face. There's nothing you can say at times like these. There's nothing you can say, but you have to let her know how you feel. You have to do something. You have to do something--

Before you can think twice about it, you reach over and catch Yuugi's right hand with your left, wrapping your fingers around hers and squeezing tight.

Her reaction comes in bits and pieces. She starts slightly as you first make contact, head bobbing up like someone awoken from a deep sleep. As you tighten you grip, she raises her head and turns it towards you slightly, her eyes just barely avoiding making contact with yours. After that, though, her gaze returns to the ground, and her hand remains motionless in your grasp.

She doesn't pull away, though, so you continue to hold on, and the two of you walk together for a while without speaking. From your right, you hear Koishi make an noise, but you ignore it, keeping your attention on Yuugi and ahead of you.

"Yeah." After a minute or so of walking, Yuugi suddenly speaks again, as though answering an unasked question. "Yeah," she says again, slowing slightly and raising her head, going from staring at the ground to gazing at the cavern ceiling above. "Okay." You feel her hand tighten around yours for a moment, almost painfully, before she lowers her head again, this time turning to look you in the eye. Her smile falls short of actually looking happy, and her eyes are a little moist, but at least it's an improvment over staring at the ground. Satisfied that she's feeling better now, you loosen your grip on her hand, and she pulls it away. "Sorry 'bout that," she says, a little more quietly than her usual voice. "Didn't mean to space out on ya, Taizou." As she says your name, the hand you were holding lands just above your left shoulder blade; softer than previous slaps on the back, but still nearly enough to send you to the ground. After it hits this time, though, it stays there for a moment, squeezing lightly before falling back to Yuugi's side.

"How about you, kid?" she asks, looking across your body at Koishi. "You all right over there?"

"Yep!" she replies, just as happier as ever, if not... happier? You recall what happened just after you got hit; what Koishi did. Was that just a simple prank? That was the most serious you've ever seen her act. She seems to be a carefree person, even a little childish, but you can't quite shake the feeling that something is a little strange about her.

"How long until we get there?" she asks, and realizing that you're staring at her, you look away hurriedly.

"'Till we... oh!" Yuugi stops suddenly, turning around and scanning the surroundings. "We, uh, just passed it," she says, grinning and scratching the back of her head. "That's it, right over there," she says, pointing out one of the houses along the road, and the three of you walk up to it. The house itself is two stories; a rarity in the human village, but, from what you've seen, fairly common in the city. From the outside, at least, it doesn't look any different from the houses around it; a simple wood building dotted with windows and topped with clay roof tiles. Its only distinguishing feature is the large sign of carved stone above the entryway, reading "Council House" in large, thick characters. "Come on in," Yuugi says, holding the door for you and Koishi.

The inside breaks the illusion of this being just another family home. The area you walk into is huge, extending all the way to the back door of the house and taking up what must be most of the first floor. Spanning the length of the room is a low table, with cushions for sitting spaced somewhat evenly around it. The table itself is a disaster area, littered with what looks like at least a week's worth of dishes at each position. You're surprised the whole mess hasn't collapsed on itself and broken the table in half, and you make a mental note to walk carefully around it as a tower of plates shifts ominously. Mounted on the back wall is a chalkboard, filled with illegible writing and hastily drawn pictures that you decide are either troop movements or flower arrangements.

"Welcome to the council house," Yuugi says, somehow managing to grab a small gourd from the center of the table without causing a dishware catastrophe. With a small sigh, she seats herself against the wall away from the table and takes a swig of her drink.. "Make yourself at home. We've got a little while before he shows up."

You take another look around. To the right, you see another, smaller room, along with a set of stairs heading up to the second floor. You also see windows out to the street, a feature that you now realize is strangely absent from this room. Turning back to the room you're in, you see that Koishi has wasted no time getting comfortable, and is currently sitting at one of the cushions around the table and poking at a tilting stack of cups.

[ ] Talk to Yuugi. (Write-in topic)
[ ] Talk to Koishi. (Write-in topic)
[ ] Wander around the house.
[ ] Do nothing.
>> No. 19211
[x] I-It...(look around frantically) it, it, it(yank at your hair in frustration) ititititit(holy mother of Gensokyo) IT IS YOUR DUTY TO CLEAN THIS GODFORSAKEN HELL-HOLE!!!
[x] Fist of the Taizou 「Ninja cleaning skills」
>> No. 19220
[ ] Talk to Yuugi. (Something. Shit, I don't know.)

Can't think of anything.
>> No. 19221
[X] Do nothing.
Wait quietly? I can't imagine anything good to say right now.

(Finals are important.)
>> No. 19230
[x] Talk to Yuugi.
[x]"So, does the council meet here often? *gesture towards the mess*"
>> No. 19237
[x] Talk to Yuugi.
[x]"So, does the council meet here often? *gesture towards the mess*"
>> No. 19264
{X} Talk to Yuugi.
{X} "So, does the council meet here often? *gesture towards the mess*"
>> No. 19265
>The table itself is a disaster area, littered with what looks like at least a week's worth of dishes at each position. You're surprised the whole mess hasn't collapsed on itself and broken the table in half, and you make a mental note to walk carefully around it as a tower of plates shifts ominously.

>
"Welcome to the council house," Yuugi says, somehow managing to grab a small gourd from the center of the table without causing a dishware catastrophe. With a small sigh, she seats herself against the wall away from the table and takes a swig of her drink.. "Make yourself at home. We've got a little while before he shows up."

The way this is put just screams for Taizou to use his domestic skills, as he did earlier at Yuugi's place.

[x] Busy yourself by tidying the place up a bit.

I'd vote for him to chastise his husbando, but it's a bit early in the relationship for that.
>> No. 19280
[x] Talk to Yuugi.
[x]"So, does the council meet here often?" Gesture towards the mess.
>> No. 19423
[x] Talk to Yuugi.
[x]"So, does the council meet here often? *gesture towards the mess*"
>> No. 19432
[X] Busy yourself by tidying the place up a bit.

Wouldn't mind being a house-husband much.
>> No. 19434
>*gesture towards the mess*

ugh
>> No. 19446
[x] Busy yourself by updating the place a bit.
>> No. 19447
[x] Busy yourself by tidying the place up a bit.
>> No. 19448
I don't think it's a good idea to tidy up someone else's mess unless you've asked them for permission first.
>> No. 19449
>>19448

If you were a dinner guest at the mansion, maybe. This here however is oni territory. You didn't ask Yuugi for permission to clean up her house. I'd think if you were doing anything to endanger yourself, Yuugi'd be the first to tell you the what and the why. In which case the lesson should be learned now, before we're presented with a situation where she is not present.

In fact, I hope someone does come down on you, so Yuugi can ridicule them in front of their peers for being such a spastic.
>> No. 19510
updates?
>> No. 19549
>>19510
Unfortunately, not for a while longer. Exams proper are all finished, but I have a final presentation for a project that I've barely even begun on Friday and about 120 short essays to grade by Wednesday. Hypothetically, that means updates Saturday, but I'll probably be in urgent need of sleep by then, so let's say next Sunday. Sorry to have to do this to you two weeks in a row; I'll try to make it up to you this summer.

Double sage for slowness and blogging combined.
>> No. 19566
>>19549
This is not blogging. This is doing the right thing and keeping your readers informed.

Don't sage such things.
>> No. 19699
>Hypothetically, that means updates Saturday, but I'll probably be in urgent need of sleep by then, so let's say next Sunday.

Here we are on Monday.
>> No. 19722
>>19699
Here we are on Tuesday.
>> No. 19745
File 124220010255.jpg - (602.69KB , 983x1039 , 32.jpg ) [iqdb]
19745
>>19722
Come now, did you expect any less? If so, stop it.

>>19566
Since I seem to have settled, for good or ill, into the category of 'slow updater', I assume most people check the front page of /others/ for updates (as opposed to, say, bookmarking this story specifically, as they might if it updated daily). Bumping without an update gives people that instant of hope when they see the thread on the front page; to destroy that by announcing that I'm going on a month-long vision quest or some such shit would generate despair levels high enough that a writefag of my lowly caliber would probably short-circuit.

---

[X] Talk to Yuugi.
[X] "So, does the council meet here often?" Gesture towards the mess.

This is... ugh. You briefly consider doing the oni (and the world) a favor and taking a shot at clearing off the table, but the mess seems to grow bigger as you approach it, and in the end, you sit down with your back to the table and do your best to ignore it. "So I take it the council meets here pretty often?" you ask, gesturing behind yourself.

"Here and only here," Yuugi says, taking a swig of her drink. "None of the family men's wives wanna deal with that on a daily basis, and everyone else begged off hostin' at their place." She chuckles lightly. "Every other week or so, the table'll start creakin' when you put stuff on it, and whoever's around fights it out to see who's the unlucky bastard that's gotta clean it all up."

You turn and look at the mess again, saying a small prayer for the unfortunate soul that gets the job this week. As you do, you're reminded of the unusual size of the room you're in; the table you're sitting at easily has enough room for 30 or more people. "How many people are in the council, anyway?" you ask.

"Between 15 and 20, dependin' on who feels like showin' up. That's not countin' the ones that just come for the food," she says, waving a hand towards the table. "S'not exactly a difficult job for most of the people who do it. Come around whenever the head calls a meeting, eat a big meal, and nod like you're payin' attention every once in a while." She takes another gulp and her voice turns bitter. "'Course, now that things are gettin' a little rough, everybody's gotten real busy takin' care of the shop."

"Rough?" you say questioningly before you can stop yourself; a moment of thought tells you exactly what she was talking about.

Sure enough, her expression turns sour, and she looks at the ground. "You mighta figured it out by now, but we ain't exactly on good terms with the rest of the city. Us oni, I mean." She takes another drink and stares off into the space above your head.

"Hypothetically, we're in two seperate worlds," she says after a few moments of silence. "The non-oni govern the non-oni with Komeiji on top, and the oni govern the oni. No problem. Except when the kids get in a fight down at the playground, and the oni kid ends up breakin' a few bones. Or when a non-oni tries to steal something from an oni shop and gets himself caught.

"The sort of thing you saw out there happens one way or another 'bout once a month," she continues, still not looking at you. "Sometimes we start it, sometimes they do. The way it's supposed to go, everybody gets together and has a nice little sit-down over tea and discuss appropriate actions." She laughs harshly. "In reality, whoever gets there first with the most guys decides what the law is." She takes another long drink. "At least usually it ain't a little kid. Most of the time it's someone who oughtta know better, but just gets..." Another pause. "Hell, I dunno. Gets tired of coexisting, I guess."

"So what exactly do the council members that show up do?" you ask, trying to turn the conversation away from the path it's on.

"Normally, not a whole lot," Yuugi replies. "If someone's broken the law or something, they might make sure the punishment got carried out, but the system's supposed to more or less run itself." She sighs. "The whole root of the problem is that the system wasn't meant for non-oni." Another swig, and another scowl. "And our fearless leader is more interested in changing the people than he is in changing the rules."

As she finishes speaking, you hear a sound from the entryway, and Yuugi's face twists into an odd grimace. "Heh. Speak of the wolf and it's there at the door," she says softly, pushing herself to a standing position, and you follow suit. You look over at Koishi, but she doesn't seem to have noticed that you've moved, her concentration on making what appears to be a smiley face out of dirty dishes in the middle of the table. You decide to leave her be, turning your attention back to the door.

As you do, the council head steps into the doorway. "You have negotiated our right to search the palace, Yuugi?" he says without preface, his huge frame taking up practically the entire doorway.

"Yes," she replies stiffly, and you see some of the emotion from back on the street in her eyes. "The search party will consist of one delegate from the council, one delegate of the palace, and a neutral observer."

"And now all three are assembled here," he says, eyes moving past you to Koishi. "I take it you are the palace's delegate, Miss Komeiji?"

Koishi doesn't raise her head, even at the sound of her name, instead waving in the council head's direction without looking up from her dishware artwork. "Yeah, hi, Kisaburou."

...What? You weren't aware that Koishi was on a first name basis with the council head, and from the looks of it, neither was he. After a tense moment, though, he seems to decide to ignore any perceived slight and turns his attention to you.

"And you are the neutral observer, Mr. Hori. I am Kisaburou Oosenri, head of the Council of the Ancient City." He extends an open hand towards you.

[ ] Accept the handshake.
[ ] Refuse the handshake.
[ ] BROFIST

---

This definitely isn't a artificial choice inserted because I got tired of writing but needed to update. Nope.
>> No. 19746
[x] Accept the handshake.

Be diplomatic. I doubt he's dickish enough to break your hand.
>> No. 19747
[ ] Accept the handshake.
>> No. 19748
[x] Accept the handshake.

I would brofist, but we're are supposed to be a neutral observer.
>> No. 19749
[X] Respek Knuckles

This how we do in human-ville, dawg.
>> No. 19751
[x] Accept your broken hand.
>> No. 19752
[X] Bow

Take The Third Choice.
>> No. 19753
[X] Accept the handshake.
>> No. 19754
[x] Accept the handshake.

I would rather crush my hand than have it shattered with a bro fist.
>> No. 19755
[X] Accept the handshake.
>> No. 19765
[x] Accept the handshake.
>> No. 19766
[x] Accept the handshake.

>Since I seem to have settled, for good or ill, into the category of 'slow updater'

The members list just keeps growing.
>> No. 19771
[x] Accept the handshake.
[x] Make it a firm one. You are manly!
>> No. 19773
>>19766

Indeed. This saddens me greatly.

[x] Accept the handshake.
>> No. 19783
[ze] Accept the handshake.

Delicious, wonderful updates~
>> No. 19889
[Hmm] Accept the handshake.
[Yeah] Make it a firm one. You are manly!

A firm handshake is always a good impression~
>> No. 19891
>>19889

Yeah well, just hope they don't feel the same way.
>> No. 19893
>>19745
>Bumping without an update gives people that instant of hope when they see the thread on the front page
Everyone who votes or comments bumps the thread and would have the same effect. That's not something you need to worry about.
>> No. 19935
File 124288933840.jpg - (434.11KB , 1150x1181 , 33.jpg ) [iqdb]
19935
I like it when I post a fairly large update after a long absence; it gives the illusion that I spent the whole time working on it, rather than, say, spending the first three-fourths of the interval staring at a blank text file, then pounding the whole thing out in two days.

>>19893
Noted. Hopefully, I can end-run the problem entirely by posting update instead of excuses for the lack thereof.

---

"Taizou Hori." You return his handshake firmly, at least as best as you can; your whole hand could probably fit in his palm. He locks eyes with you for a moment, expression full of the same sort of dull hostility from back on the street, before abruptly releasing your hand and stepping past you and Yuugi. "We will leave after my preparations," he says, and keeps walking without waiting for a reply, moving towards the door at the end of the room.

"Real charmer, ain't he?" Yuugi deadpans, her sentence punctuated by the slam of the closing door. "You got off easy, too." With that, she steps closer to you, looking over her shoulder at the door the council head left through. "Anyway, this is probably the last time we'll get to talk before the inspection, so listen up," she says, lowering her voice to just above a whisper. "The council head knows the score, so he probably ain't gonna try to strongarm you into letting him trash the place, but you already saw how he gets when it comes to the law. If he starts complainin' about his rights, I'd find someone who can take a punch before trying to stand up to him."

"I agree. It's not worth your life." Startled, you turn your head to look behind you, but you recognize the voice before you see its source; Koishi is standing not a foot away from the two of you, having apparently stood up and moved around the table without either of you noticing. "Besides, I'll take care of him if he gets too rowdy," she continues, thumping a fist against her chest and lifting her chin with pride. You suppress a laugh, reminding yourself that as a youkai, she may well be strong enough to fight the council head. Still, the image doesn't inspire much confidence, especially after she gets a little too caught up in chest-thumping and sets off a coughing fit.

As she recovers, you see the door open from across the room, and the council head steps through.

...Wow. You weren't exactly sure what sort of preparations the council head needed to search the palace, but looking at him now, it looks like the preparations may have been to lay siege and occupy it instead. Hanging off his body at all angles are weapons, enough that you can barely see his skin through all the metal. The swords hanging from his belt clang together with each step he takes, and the club strapped to his back looks about as big around as your torso at its thickest point.

"Let us leave," he says as he passes, brushing past the three of you without a glance. After exchanging a look with Yuugi, you follow after him out the door. The atmosphere on the streets isn't much different from the last time you walked through, with the few people that remain outside avoiding any contact with you or Koishi. The council head's presence seems to affect the situation somewhat, though; a few shopkeepers call out to him, and he returns their greetings with a small nod. Strange; from what Yuugi said, you got the impression that he wasn't well-liked, even among oni. Are they just afraid of him?

The council head sets a fast pace, and you find yourself on the road approaching the palace in no time, if slightly out of breath. As you approach, Yuugi turns down a side road, clapping you on the shoulder in parting as she passes. "I'm headin' home, then. You know the way back, right, Taizou?"

"Yeah. See you, Yuugi," you say, waving after her.

"Bye, Yuugi!" Koishi yells from your side, both arms flailing above her head in a ridiculously exaggerated goodbye wave. Yuugi raises a hand to both of you, then turns to walk home.

When you reach the palace, Satori is waiting at the door. As the three of you approach, she walks down the steps and extends a hand. "Council Head Oosenri," she says by way of greeting.

"Lady Komeiji," the council head replies, shaking her hand briefly. "I will proceed with the investigation," he says, moving past her and up the stairs.

"You understand the terms?" she calls after him, turning to face up the stairs. He stops and turns, staring down at Satori with a glare you're glad not to be on the receiving end of.

"I am to be subject to Mr. Hori. Correct?" he says icily.

"Correct," Satori replies, apparently unshaken. "If you have no questions, I will retire to my bedroom." Her eyes narrow, and her mouth turns upward into a smirk. "When you come to search it, please knock before entering." She looks the council head up and down once. "Dressed as you are, it would be all to easy to mistake you for a burglar."

The council head's eyes widen at this, and you can see a vein bulge on his forehead even from your position behind Satori on the stairs. In the end, though, he opts to remain silent, simply continuing to stare in silence for a moment before turning to continue up the stairs. "We will begin now," he calls back without turning around, and you and Koishi hurry up after him.

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 19936
From there, the search settles into a routine quickly. The council head seems to have a pretty specific idea of what he's looking for, but you sure don't; his requests for directions are things like "all rooms with a window facing west" and "all rooms adjacent to the roof of the building". Nonetheless, Koishi doesn't seem to have any problem taking him where he wants to go, and the three of you make your way slowly around the building. Thankfully, you don't run into Orin; if Yuugi can't get along with her, you shudder to think how the council head would react. In each room, the council head goes through the same ritual, moving every piece of furniture and wall hanging, then walking around tapping his staff against the walls and floor. After a few rooms of that, you realize he must be searching for hidden panels or doors; what he expects to find, you still don't know.

You also realize that this is going to take a long time; he goes through rooms at a rate of about one per half hour and it doesn't sound like he's running out of places to search. When you enter the study and the first place he goes is to the towering bookshelf to start moving books around, you give up on being completely attentive and take a seat in the corner of the room, putting your feet up and enjoying a moment of rest.

As you watch over the course of the next half hour, he finishes going through the books, and moves on to the rest of the room's furnishings. In particular, he seems stymied by a series of paintings displayed on the wall opposite the door; abstract splashes of color not too different from the palace window. More accurately, the trouble seems to be their frames; they seems to be built into the wall itself, with pieces of framing simply nailed into the wall itself, trapping the canvas between the two surfaces. After a few minutes of examination, he turns to Koishi. "This frame must be moved," he says plainly.

"You can't do that, though," Koishi says. "It's nailed to the wall, so you'd have to pull out the nails and then roll up the painting."

The council head simply stares at her, silent, for a moment. Then his hand moves to his belt, and you hear a characteristic scrape of metal against metal, along with a small yelp from Koishi.

You're on your feet before the sword is completely drawn, any tiredness you felt swept away in a wave of adrenaline. "Hey!" you shout, moving between the council head and the portrait (and Koishi) as quickly as you can. "Let's put the sword away and talk this through," you say, keeping your eyes on the business end of the blade. The council head pauses for a frighteningly long moment, as though deciding whether or not to obey, before returning the sword to his belt.

"This frame must be moved," he repeats. "If that is not possible, I will cut the canvas from the frame."

"What, exactly, do you think you'll find under it?" you ask, exasperated, and get a cold stare for your trouble.

"You understand what I am here to search for," the council head says slowly. "So you must understand that if I am to find it, I must first find where it is hidden."

You blink. You actually have no idea what exactly is being searched for, other than some sort of evidence that Satori committed some sort of wrongdoing against the oni, but the council head doesn't seem to be doing this just to cause trouble. Besides that, he could well be right; this is certainly the last place you would think to look for a hidden item.

"Move aside," the council head says.

[ ] Allow him to search behind the painting.
[ ] Stop him.
>> No. 19937
[x] Allow him to search behind the painting.

Let's heed Koishi and Yuugi's advice.
>> No. 19938
[x] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there"
[x] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it"
[x] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19939
[O] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there"
[O] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it"
[O] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19941
[x] Allow him to search behind the painting.

This guy's fists are already super sledgehammers, there is no telling what kind of damage he could do with a sword.
>> No. 19950
[X] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there."
[X] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it."
[X] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"

I can get behind this. I mean, the whole purpose of us being here is to keep him from ripping Satori's house apart, isn't it? That aside, he is genuinely starting to cross the line here.
>> No. 19956
[x] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there"
[x] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it"
[x] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19958
[O] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there"
[O] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it"
[O] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19960
[X] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there."
[X] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it."
[X] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19961
File 124293989524.png - (159.55KB , 527x355 , 1241803054848.png ) [iqdb]
19961
>19960

[!/]This

Koishi~ ;_;
>> No. 19963
[x] "You don't want to search underneath the frame."
[x] Wave hand.
[x] "You want to go home and rethink your life."

Subconscious hax. This is not a serious suggestion.
>> No. 19966
[z] Let him search behind it, but it's do be done carefully.
[e] Remove only as many nails as you need to be able to peer under it.

Who the hell nails an entire frame to a wall?
>> No. 19968
>>19966
Much like a metal poster, I believe this frame is foldable along with the rest of the painting. If not, then they're really trying to make sure it isn't stolen. I'm also pretty positive that it must be an impressively large painting; the kind that takes up the entire vertical span of the palace wall(since there are others next to it).

>>19963
Yet it feels so right, somehow.
>> No. 19970
>>19961

I died.

[X] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there."
[X] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it."
[X] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19983
[X] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there."
[X] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it."
[X] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"
>> No. 19989
>>19970

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCOBPdwpV9M

Try not reading the comments.
>> No. 19997
File 12431558352.jpg - (114.46KB , 635x951 , 34.jpg ) [iqdb]
19997
Quick update this time (well, relatively) as I'm going out of town this week and will have limited computer access. On the plus side, there won't be much to do in the evenings where I'm going, so depending on how cumbersome I find pen and paper writing to be, this may actually increase my update speed.

---

[X] "You're starting to cross the line between searching and harming Miss Satori's property. If you wanted to hide something underneath, then it would take a lot of trouble to un-nail it from the wall. I strongly doubt anything is under there."
[X] "If you wish, you may bring a skilled carpenter here to gently remove the painting from the wall, and observe what's behind it at a later date. Then, of course, replace it."
[X] "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"

"You're starting to cross the line between searching Miss Satori's property and harming it," you say, standing your ground. "Do you have any reason to believe that there is something behind this painting?"

Silence. The council head doesn't react, glaring down at you as though he hadn't heard your question. You try to keep eye contact with him, but turn away after a few seconds; somehow, just meeting his eyes feels unpleasant.

"So you intend to hinder me as well?" he asks as you look away, his voice a low growl.

"I don't intend to hinder anyone. I'm just here to make sure everyone's needs are met." You shift your feet slightly, growing uncomfortable under his unabating stare. "If you wish, you may bring a carpenter to remove the painting from the wall gently and observe what's behind it at a later date," you say. "Would this be okay with you and your sister, Miss Koishi?"

To your right, Koishi puts a finger against her chin and scrunches her face up in thought. "I would have to ask Sister if--"

"Unnecessary." The council head cuts her off bluntly. "If that is your decision, Lady Komeiji will abide by it as I have." He looks back to you, and his perpetual frown deepens. "However, I am certain that should I return at a later date, there will no longer be anything to find. This decision is a mistake." And with that, he strides away before you have a chance to reply, heading for the door out of the study.

The search continues as normal from there, though you decide to stay standing and keep an eye on the council head's sword hand through the next few rooms. After another hour or so without incident, you find yourself back where you started, having made your way up to the fourth floor and back over the course of the past few hours.

It seems the council head still has places to search, though. "All rooms below ground level of the city," he directs Koishi, who responds with a salute, skipping off to a set of double doors across the room. You follow her through into a hallway, and the council head closes the doors behind the three of you, abruptly plunging you into darkness. You had thought the main hall of the palace was dark, but this is absolute blackness; even the sourceless light that permeates the underground doesn't seem to reach here, and you can barely see your hand in front of your face, let alone either of your two companions. You suppose they must have better night vision than you as youkai, but you still can't help but worry that you're going to walk into someone.

"Watch your step on the stairs~" Koishi calls from somewhere ahead of you, and right on cue, you feel your foot miss the ground. Heart jumping into your throat, you lunge in the direction of the wall, catching yourself against it and holding on for dear life. Taking a second to gather yourself, you feel around the ground ahead of you and get a sense of the staircase before pushing yourself away from the wall and moving down. And down, and down, and down...

"Miss Koishi, how long is this staircase?" you call after a few minutes of walking, squinting into the darkness below you.

"Not much longer~" she whispers from about a foot behind you, sending you diving back into the wall in shock. You spin around to say something, but the only sign of her location is the sound of footsteps running past you to your right, along with a small giggle. Sighing, you turn yourself back around and continue down the stairs. Just as well; you doubt you could bring yourself to get too angry about her pranks in the first place.

Just as Koishi said, you begin to see some light in the direction of your destination after another minute or so of walking. This light is obviously different from the light in the city, tinting your vision green. Another few steps down, and you can see into the room at the end of the stairs; it doesn't look too different from the cave you entered the underground in, with walls of rough stone and an uneven floor. As you reach the bottom step, though, you notice one big difference; the green floor, which you had thought was colored by the green ambient light, is actually covered in grass, or at least something that looks like it. You bend down to examine it, and while it doesn't seem to be the same type of grass that grows above ground, it is definitely a plant of some sort. Standing back up and looking around, your eye is drawn to the area around the walls, which are packed with neatly cultivated flowerbeds. Is this some kind of garden? If this sort of thing is possible, why is everyone worried about growing food above ground?

For that matter, how is this sort of thing possible? You look around the room for the light source, and finally find it above you; some sort of luminescent moss seems to be growing on the ceiling, bathing the room in a dim green glow.

"This is the only room below city level," Koishi says, stepping out into the center of the room and throwing her arms open, a wide smile on her face. "Welcome to our garden!"

The council head, however, doesn't seem to pay any attention to her, beginning his inspection of the walls as usual. You, however, find yourself much more interested, and besides, Koishi looks so excited that you imagine she'd like to talk about it. "This is incredible," you begin, crouching to take a closer look at some of the flowerbeds near you.

"Isn't it?" Koishi says, bounding over to you excitedly. "I planted all the ones on this side! I even got roses to grow, and Sister says that's really hard! See?" she says, gesturing to a small rose bush tucked away in one of the room's corners.

"Does your sister also plant things down here?" you ask.

"Uh-huh! Hers are on the other side. Lots of her plants are boring things, though," she says, pointing to the corner opposite the roses, where an odd-shaped vine with no flowers dominates the ground, growing up the walls and choking the life from the area.

Still, that anything at all grows this far underground really is amazing. "How did you--"

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 19998
KRRCCSH. Your question is cut off by the grinding noise of stone against stone, and you turn around, cursing yourself for not watching the council head more closely. What you see, though, amazes you almost as much as the garden itself. The wall across from the stairs seems to have split, leaving a perfect rectangle as a passage into... somewhere; the glowing moss doesn't seem to grow in the secret room, and your eyes can't penetrate the blackness inside. The council head stands to the left of the opening, directing his stare at Koishi.

"It must have been a great effort to conceal a door like this," he says, and you can hear the triumph in his voice. Bringing a hand to his sword, he moves to step through the opening.

"You shouldn't go in there." Koishi's voice isn't any louder than usual, but it seems to resound in the silence. The council head, however, ignores her completely, stepping into the passageway.

He won't ignore you, though. "Wait," you say standing and taking a step towards the opening. Sure enough, he freezes in place for a moment before slowly turning to face you with a stare that could level a building.

"Miss Koishi, what's in there?" you say, turning to Koishi before he has a chance to stare you down.

"Nothing that wouldn't be better off left alone," she says calmly, looking you in the eye with a stare eerily similar to the council head's. You wait for further explanation, but it doesn't seem like any is forthcoming.

"Mr. Hori." The council head speaks, and you turn to face him, noticing as you do that he hasn't moved his hand away from his swords yet. "I have no doubt that inside this hidden room lies the evidence I have come here to seek. You will not deny me entry."

[ ] Allow him to enter.
[ ] Don't allow him to enter.
>> No. 20000
[x] Say nothing, do nothing.
It's a mistake to go inside, but it's also a mistake to stand in his way.
>> No. 20002
[X] Allow him to enter.

We're supposed to be impartial.
I like Satori, and Koishi, and everybody else. If I were on their side, I'd find some sneaky son-of-a-bitch way to stop this guy.

But we're not on their side, not right now. Right now, we're the impartial third party. We have to be fair.

Even if it hurts.

So, basically...the same as >>20000 except worded slightly different. We say nothing and do nothing that would impede his progress. For now.
>> No. 20005
[X] Allow him to enter.

Let the fucker do as he pleases, as long as Koishi isn't too distressed.
>> No. 20006
[x] Allow him to enter.
What >>20002 said. Although make sure council guy walks way ahead of us, so whatever's dangerous in there gets him first.
>> No. 20007
[X] Allow him to enter.
>> No. 20010
[x] Press the issue.
[x] "Miss Koishi. As much as I doubt that there is anything in there the could harm the council head, I must ask again, what is in there? The last thing I want is for there to be a disaster so far away from other people".
[x] Regardless, if the giant wishes to go in, so be it. But warn him to be careful.
>> No. 20012
[X] Allow him to enter.
>> No. 20013
[X] Allow him to enter.
[X] "Given Miss Koishi's warning, however, I trust you won't mind if I keep a... reasonable distance."

Can't deny he has reason to be suspicious here. On the other hand, I do trust Koishi enough to believe her when she says whatever is down here may be better off left alone.
>> No. 20014
[X] Allow him to enter.
>> No. 20018
[x] Do not allow him to enter.
[x] "You don't understand Mr. Chairman, if what is in there is truly dangerous, if it kills you, and I allowed it to happen, the entire oni population in the city will be screaming for my blood, and that of every resident in this palace. I think we should at least hear Ms. Koishi's warnings. If it is so dire a threat as to keep it lock and hidden like this, then should it not be dealt with in force?"
[x] Ask Koishi to tell you anything she knows about what is down there. There's no reason for her to lie or attempt to save face, as the cat's already out of the bag.
[x] Regardless or her response, you'll be the one to gather the councilmen and Satori. Make Koishi and the Chairman promise they will not enter until you return with a host and are prepared to face it.
>> No. 20021
[X] Allow him to enter.
[X] "Given Miss Koishi's warning, however, I trust you won't mind if I keep a... reasonable distance."
>> No. 20060
>>20000
Neutrality GET
>> No. 20062
[x] Press the issue.
[x] "Miss Koishi. As much as I doubt that there is anything in there the could harm the council head, I must ask again, what is in there? The last thing I want is for there to be a disaster so far away from other people".
[x] Regardless, if the giant wishes to go in, so be it. But warn him to be careful.
>> No. 20110
Writing on paper is awesome. Without the ability to alt-tab and browse the web, I can actually sit and write for a continuous period, and typing the update out on the computer is like a second draft, giving me a chance to correct stuff that sounds dumb. MULTIPLE DRAFTS GUYS IT'S LIKE I'M A REAL WRITER OR SOMETHING

No picture because the hotel computer won't let me save to the hard drive.

---

[X] Allow him to enter.

There's nothing you can do. As much as you'd like to follow Koishi's advice, she hasn't given you any real reason not to enter. Besides, as someone who's supposed to be supervising a search, the fact that a secret room even exists is all the reason needed to go in. "You may proceed," you say, and the council head is through the door before you can say another word.

"Hope you don't mind if I keep my distance," you call after him into the darkness, scowling. It's not like he has any reason to hurry; half the reason you're there is to see what he finds. Stepping to the threshold of the passageway, you take a look back at Koishi, who shrugs and smiles happily.

"Don't worry. We probably won't die," she says, stepping past you and into the darkness.

Well, isn't that comforting. Taking a deep breath and holding it, you follow her into the passageway, Within a few steps, your vision has returned to near-perfect blackness; you have to look back once or twice to reassure yourself that the secret door didn't close behind you. Pressing on with a hand against one wall of the passageway to steady yourself, you follow the sound of Koishi's footsteps onward.

As you continue along the path, though, the walls move further and further apart, and you find that keeping the wall as a reference point sends you in a different direction from your leader. Cursing lightly, you let go of your handhold, setting off in the direction of footsteps as carefully as you can to avoid tripping on the rough ground. As you position your hands slightly in front of your body in hopes of catching yourself before you run into someone, you realize how foolish you must look to Koishi, who didn't seem to have any problem seeing on the staircase either. Those thoughts are quickly driven away, however, when one of your outstretched hands encounters another, smaller counterpart.

"You can't see, right?" You find you can imagine the smile accompanying her words, even if you can't see it. "Don't worry. It'll get a little brighter soon." And with that, you feel Koishi's palm close over yours, and she tugs you along down the path. After a moment of hesitation, you return the grip and follow along at her pace, trusting her not to run you into anything.

Your trust is rewarded, and before long, her words prove true as well; even without any apparent source of light and with none of the palace's sourceless light, you find your vision gradually improving, and you begin to make out some of the features of the path you're on. If the last room, with its grass and flowers, reminded you of above ground, then coming here is just like entering the cave again; small protrusions of rock just out of the floor and ceiling at all angles, dripping with condensation.

After passing close to one of the rock formations, though, you discover one major difference from back then: the heat. It was a little hotter than outside when you first entered the cave from above ground, but walking by the stone feels like stepping a little to close to a cooking fire. In fact, now that you notice it, even the air temperature seems to have risen a lot ever since you entered the secret room. You bring your free hand to your forehead and it comes back glistening with enough sweat to be visible even in this dim light. Maybe you're going deeper into hell? You consider the possibility for a moment, then quickly put as far out of your mind as possible as you realize that it may actually be true.

A little while later, you meet up with the council head, who stands staring in silence at one of the rock formations, motionless. You stand with him for a moment, waiting for an explanation of what's going on, before realizing the futility of your actions.

"Why are you--" you manage before, without taking his eyes off the rock, he raises a hand to shoulder level, palm out, in an abrupt motion you recognize as the universal gesture of "shut up and look at this for a second." You obligingly return your attention to the rock, idly wondering what trick he thinks it's going to do. This has to have been one of hundreds of identical formations; you don't see any reason this one should--

FWOOOSH. A pillar of fire. You recoil, managing to let go of Koishi's hand before falling backwards onto your butt. Licks of flame jump out in all directions, and you crawl backwards frantically, trying to escape the scorching heat.

And then it's gone, the rock returning to normal as quickly as it ignited, and you're plunged back into darkness, made even more complete by the fact that the sudden flare destroyed your adaptation to the dark. You pick yourself up off the ground, carefully keeping your distance from the source of spontaneous combustion, and try to regain control of your nerves. Midway through deep breath number 2, however, the council head's voice cuts through the darkness with a grave "We will continue," and you have little choice but to follow the group deeper into the cave.

You vision returns fater this time, aided by bursts of light in the distance that you attribute to the crazy-ass fire rocks (you came up with the name yourself). Fortunately, the council head gives an appropriately wide berth to other rock structures, and you avoid any more close encounters.

That, however, apparently doesn't stop the council head; you can't have walked more than a minute away from the first rock before he stops, so suddenly you nearly run into his back. "Identify yourself!" he bellows in the direction you had been traveling, loud enough that it feels like your eardrums are going to shatter. Who's he yelling at now? The darkness makes long distances hard to make out, but you certainly can't see anyone.

You can, however, see the gigantic flare that appears not a second later. If the fire from the rocks was a pillar of flame, then this one is a sun; easily big enough to fill one of the rooms of the palace and getting larger every second.

Except it's not getting any larger, you realize a second later -- it's moving towards you. You feel the heat on your face increase to unbearable levels, and it feels like your skin could peel off, but your feet stay planted. What good would it do to run? your brain asks. It's not like you can outrun something like that. No, best to just close your eyes and welcome sweet death. You do just that, and opening your arms, close your eyes and step through the door back into the main hall of the palace. The council head slams the door as he exits behind you, and the half of his words in a language you can understand are curses.

"So help me, I will return, and I will find whatever sort of secret passage you've hidden down there," he growls, his voice quiet, but full to the brim with fury. You know you're supposed to be impartial here, but you can't help but smile a little at his misfortune; even if there was some sort of secret room down there, you're glad nobody found it. Besides, if Satori was hiding evidence of some sort, she probably wouldn't stop at just hiding it; you're sure there would be traps or some sort of deterrent to--

If -- what? Secret room -- nobody found -- what? But you did find one, you were there just a second ago. You remember now, it was dark and Koishi was there and your hand and fire rocks and a fucking giant sun and you were going to die and what the fuck is going on?

[ ] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.
[ ] What the fuck? Say something; try to figure out what actually happened.
[ ] What the fuck? Freak out.
>> No. 20111
[x] What the fuck? Ask Koishi what happened. Make sure the giant doesn't notice.
>> No. 20115
[X] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.

No need to make ourselves look insane yet, especially not in front of the fuming councilman.
>> No. 20116
[X] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.
>> No. 20124
[x] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.
>> No. 20127
{X} What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.
>> No. 20128
[X] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.
>> No. 20129
[X] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.

FUCK YEAH UTSUHO!
>> No. 20131
[X] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.
>> No. 20136
[x] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.

Koishi. Not that I have many sympathies for the councilman, but this isn't the first time she's played us like a patsy, though at least last time she didn't endanger our life in the process. If she gives us an explanation in private, then all right. If she doesn't, then she's quickly erasing the amicable relations and good faith that her sister was establishing.
>> No. 20149
[ze] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.

>>20136
Considering Koishi is a fucking mindbender, I think she's extending plenty of amicable relations and good faith to Taizou simply by allowing him recall any of that shit.

That's likely how she sees it, at any rate.

The only chance Taizou has of truly fulfilling his duty as an impartial 3rd party and finding out what's going on is, unfortunately, by remaining in the Komeiji sisters' good graces, which means playing on their terms.
>> No. 20156
File 124362497162.jpg - (177.40KB , 700x735 , 35.jpg ) [iqdb]
20156
THIS IS AN UPDATE
IT IS MADE OF SMALL AND QUICK

---

[X] What the fuck? Stay quiet for now; try to figure out what sort of brain damage you got.

No, better not say anything; they'll probably think you're insane. Then again, all indications are that they would be right; the new memories, the second version of the past fifteen minutes, is becoming clearer in your head by the second. Your old recollections of wandering around the garden for a few minutes, the council head eventually giving up and storming back up the stairs, are fuzzy and indistinct now, replaced by the feeling of nearly being incinerated by a ball of fire. You've heard of people in the village who lost memories after getting hit in the head; is it possible to gain memories the same way? You run a hand through your hair, discreetly checking for any bumps or cuts.

"What are you doing, Taizou?"

Or maybe not so discreetly. "N-nothing," you say quickly, pulling your hand from your head as nonchalantly as you can. Koishi looks as you for another moment before giggling softly and looking away.

"I will leave for today," the council head says, already at the door on the opposite side of the room from you. Before he can, though, you hear Satori's voice call out from your left, and she steps into the room a moment later.

"Have you completed your search, council head?" she asks, and you think you hear a hint of mocking in her voice. The council head stops in place, hand on the door, and turns to face her, all signs of his earlier anger gone.

"I am not." Make that almost all; the tone of his voice makes it sound like he's ready to murder someone. "You will meet with my representative to arrange further investigation."

"As you wish," she replies with a curtsy, and now the derision is more than a hint; you can even see her mouth twist up into a smirk. The council head makes no attempt to reply, throwing the door open and striding into the night without another word.

"Now then." Satori walks from the doorway into the room, and Koishi bounds towards her. The two collide around the middle of the room, a beaming Koishi wrapping her arms around Satori, whose expression is somewhere between annoyance and affection. With the two right next to each other like this, you can see how much they resemble each other; the strange, otherworldly beauty you saw in Satori is present in Koishi too, although her exuberance seems to get in the way. "Did you have any problems, Taizou?" Satori asks, taking one of Koishi's hands in hers and gently prying herself out of the hug.

"I..." You hesitate for a moment, wondering whether to mention your memory problems to Satori. "No problems," you finish, deciding to keep it to yourself for a little while longer.

"I'm glad," she says, smiling; Koishi stands on her toes to look over her sister's shoulder at you, giggling with an odd expression on her face. "Now, will you be staying here for the night?" Satori asks.

You... honestly hadn't thought about it. You spent several hours searching, and from the look you got of outside when the council head left, it got pretty dark in the meantime; if night traveling below ground is as unsafe as it is above, it might be best not to leave. On the other hand, Yuugi asked if you knew the way back to her house, so she may be expecting you; you wouldn't want to worry her.

[ ] Stay at the palace.
[ ] Go back to Yuugi's house.
>> No. 20157
[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
>> No. 20159
[x] Stay at the palace.
>> No. 20160
[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
[X] Write down your old memories. Quick. Quick quick quick.
[X] In fact, it would probably be a good idea to carry a notepad of some sort with you from now on.
>> No. 20161
[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
[X] Write down your old memories. Quick. Quick quick quick.
[X] In fact, it would probably be a good idea to carry a notepad of some sort with you from now on.
>> No. 20162
[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
[X] Write down your old memories. Quick. Quick quick quick.
[X] In fact, it would probably be a good idea to carry a notepad of some sort with you from now on.
>> No. 20164
File 124363094340.jpg - (482.70KB , 875x1125 , 4144968.jpg ) [iqdb]
20164
>>20156
[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
>> No. 20165
[O] Go back to Yuugi's house.
[O] Write down your old memories. Quick. Quick quick quick.
[O] In fact, it would probably be a good idea to carry a notepad of some sort with you from now on.
>> No. 20166
[x] Stay at the palace.
>> No. 20167
File 124363891131.jpg - (374.26KB , 980x700 , 1241111744658.jpg ) [iqdb]
20167
[!/] Go back to Yuugi's house.
>> No. 20168
[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
>> No. 20176
File 124365416435.jpg - (247.43KB , 480x640 , 36.jpg ) [iqdb]
20176
お前はもう死んでいる。

Yes, I know just updating on consecutive days doesn't really count as Fist of the North Star, but still, this is the fastest I've gone since starting this up.

---

[X] Go back to Yuugi's house.
[X] Write down your old memories. Quick. Quick quick quick.
[X] In fact, it would probably be a good idea to carry a notepad of some sort with you from now on.

"Actually, Yuugi's waiting for me back at her house, so I'll be heading back there," you say. That's not the whole truth, though; you have a theory about your memory loss, and while you don't really want it to be true, if it is, you'd rather not spend the night in the same house with the person responsible.

"I see. Have a safe trip back," Satori says over an "Awww" from Koishi. "If the council head tries to organize another search, I'll contact you. Is that all right?"

"Sure thing. Bye, Satori, Koishi," you say, waving as you step through the door. Looking back, you see Satori giving you a small bow and Koishi waving both hands over her head in what seems to be her signature farewell before the door shuts and the cool night air hits you.

Well, it could have gone a lot worse, you think as you make your way down the path back to Yuugi's house. Memories aside, you quite clearly aren't dead, and you don't seem to have any injuries (any you didn't already have, at least; your shoulder still aches from your fight with Yuugi). After the way Yuugi talked about the council head, you weren't sure if he was going to haul off and punch you into next week if you went against him; as it is, all you have to worry about is your memory -- loss? gain? -- whatever memory problems you've ended up with. Well, that and hiding the fact that you have them from the others, should your fears turn out to be reality and one of them be behind it. Especially Satori's mind reading, if she was --

Wait. Satori's mind reading?! Your breath catches in your throat, and your heart feels like it's been dunked in ice water. You already thought about it once while she was in the room back when you decided not to tell her; does that mean she knows?! You reconstruct the scene in your head, scraping your brain for every detail you can remember. There wasn't any sign that she knew you were lying, and she hasn't shown any reluctance to let you know she was reading your mind in the past. Was she just hiding it out of politeness? Did she not want you to realize that she knew? Is there just some reason that she didn't read that thought; like some kind of distance limitation?

You arrive back at Yuugi's house with your mind still spinning uselessly through the possibilities. As you approach the door, you realize that, as late as it is (or at least, as late as it seems; you still can't tell time that well without the sun visible), Yuugi might have just decided to go to sleep before you got back. Taking care to be as quiet as possible, you slide open the door, and sure enough, there aren't any lamps lit; just the usual light from the palace. Taking your shoes off to keep the noise down, you walk down the hall to your room.

"Taizou!" Yuugi's voice calls out from the darkened dining room, and you jump back, slightly startled. Looking in, you see her sitting, back propped up against the table, with the same wide-brimmed saucer she was carrying when you first met her in her hand and a bottle of what you assume is alcohol of some sort on the table. "Thought they were gonna keep ya there forever," she says, raising her cup to you. "C'mere, sit down and have a drink. How'd things go?"

You follow her instructions, sitting at the table across from her, but her question gives you a bit more trouble. "It was..." you begin, looking away; should you tell her about what happened or not? Before you can make a decision, though, Yuugi speaks again.

"That bad, huh? Did he start throwin' chairs or something?" she says, rolling her eyes. "Actually, don't even tell me. S'not like I'm gonna run out and do anything this time of night in the first place. Unless it's a matter of life and death or somethin' like that?" she says, her tone turning serious for a second.

You can answer that question much more easily, though. "No matters of life or death," you say, smiling at her, and she gives a small laugh in return.

"That's good news, then," she says. "Have a drink to celebrate." Pouring something strong-smelling out of the bottle on the table into a cup (a smaller one than hers, thankfully), she passes it over to you and raises her own drink.

"To not gettin' beat up," she says with a grin as the two of you clink glasses, and you take a drink. The liquor is as strong as you feared, if not stronger, but carries a strange, fruity taste with it, and you find yourself enjoying it far more than you would have expected for something strong enough for an oni. "Did I do it right?" she asks. "Humans gotta say something like that before they start drinkin', right? S'kinda neat."

"Yeah, you did it right," you say with a laugh, and decide to put the issues with your memory out of your mind for now. Yuugi's right; there'll be time enough tomorrow to take care of that. The two of you sit together for a little while, talking about nothing in particular as you drink, and before long, you find the late hour getting to you. Yawning, you try to rest your head in your hands, but the additional weight sends a spike of pain up your arm to your injured shoulder, making you hiss in pain. Was your injury really that bad?

Yuugi sees you flinch and lowers her cup to look at you. "You hurt, Taizou?"

"Nothing serious," you say, waving away her concerned look, but even moving your arm is starting to hurt now.

"You didn't get hurt at the palace, did you?" she says, voice rising slightly.

"No, no," you say, motioning for her to calm down. "It was..." You pause; you don't think it'd be that polite to mention that she was the one who gave you the injury. "Earlier than that," you finish.

"Oh, so from when we fought?" Well, so much for politeness. You nod, and Yuugi raises a hand to her chin, looking thoughtful. "Yeah, I did get you once right at the beginning, didn't I? And then you still managed to end it like that." She shakes her head. "I got lazy, underestimated you. We gotta go again sometime."

Again? Yuugi may have said that you won, but after she came out of nowhere and hit you in the stomach, you're not so sure about a rematch. It might be fun, from a certain point of view, especially if you trained a little, but you're not sure you could get back up if she decided to take it seriously.

"Anyway, c'mon." Train of thought broken, you look back up to see her motion towards you, waving you over to her.

"Huh?" you ask, already feeling the effect of the alcohol as you straighten up.

"Whaddya mean 'Huh'?" she says, waving her drink at you. "I'm the one that hit ya, right? So c'mere and I'll rub it for ya." A massage? That seems a little unusual, but you find it hard to disagree. Maybe it's a cultural thing for oni?

"Oh, and take your shirt off."

...Huh?

[ ] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
[ ] Move over to her, but keep your clothes on.
[ ] Politely decline. You're getting pretty tired, after all.

---

So survey time: I wrote the second half of this after an event that served free beer; does it show? I ask because it makes writing a lot easier, and I'm willing to develop a drinking problem if it means getting updates to you, my loving public, faster.
>> No. 20178
[X] Do as the nice oni says; take your shirt off and move over.

Fuck the other options, so long as she's gentle.

Also, why did I expect Taizou to fall asleep on Yuugi?

Servey response:
Do eet, but don't overdo eet.
>> No. 20179
[ ] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
>> No. 20180
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
>> No. 20181
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take your shirt off and move over.

>>20178
We still might.
>> No. 20182
[X] Do as the nice oni says; take your shirt off and move over.
>> No. 20183
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
>> No. 20184
[X] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.

Yuugi massage? Yes, please!
>> No. 20188
File 124365780892.jpg - (343.16KB , 800x800 , 9de9bea4dda65636a5da12e77bdf34b6.jpg ) [iqdb]
20188
[!/] Do as the nice oni says; take your shirt off and move over.

Well, alright....
>お前はもう死んでいる。
>You are already dead.

No regrets.
>> No. 20190
[X] "Ah!"
[X] "More importantly, do you have a notepad or something? I need to write something down, before I forget."
[X] You'll be happy to take off your shirt, just as soon as you WRITE THIS DOWN--
>> No. 20191
[X] Do as the nice oni says; take your shirt off and move over.

why not have her take off your shirt since she is offering..
>> No. 20193
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
To writefag, it's cool, as long as you don't go overboard with the 'cohol.
>> No. 20194
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.

>>20176 ZUN treatment is a yes.
>> No. 20195
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
>>20176
Not many writefags can attend an event with free beer and then produce a good update with near-perfect spelling/grammar. I salute you.
>> No. 20206
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.

Yuugi route is pretty much a sure thing now.
>> No. 20207
>>20206
Nein.
>> No. 20209
>>20207
Oh yes it is.
>> No. 20223
>>20209

It'll only be certain when Yuugi challenges Taizou to a seemingly innocent contest and wins.
>> No. 20224
>>20209
Oh the fuck it isn't, sir. Your ability to forget Yamame disgusts me.
>> No. 20225
>>20224
Yamawho?
>> No. 20228
[~] "Ah!"
[z] "More importantly, do you have a notepad or something? I need to write something down, before I forget."
[e] You'll be happy to take off your shirt, just as soon as you WRITE THIS DOWN--

>>20225
ಠ_ಠ
>> No. 20231
File 124370788567.jpg - (120.61KB , 589x800 , It'sNotMyFault.jpg ) [iqdb]
20231
>>20225

;_;
>> No. 20237
[x] Do as the nice oni says; take off your shirt and move over.
>> No. 20250
>>20231
Who is that young lady? I don't believe we've been acquainted.
>> No. 20255
>>20250
You send me into throes of despair, sir.
>> No. 20260
File 124374021072.jpg - (53.77KB , 600x600 , 1243693975611.jpg ) [iqdb]
20260
>>20255
I do my best.

Here, have a ridiculous and out of context image.
>> No. 20274
File 12437467959.png - (954.89KB , 1490x1490 , 37.png ) [iqdb]
20274
>>20260
Really? Well, if you insist.

>>20273 is the next thread.