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29117 No. 29117
"Scientia est lux lucis."

>> No. 29118
This is probably the dumbest thing that I’ve ever done in my life. I mean, over these past couple of days, I’ve done some pretty stupid shit, like when I shot at that cyber-monster or when I stood in front of that samurai woman to protect Elly, but this probably tops all of that. In my defense, my body just ended up acting on its own, running forward in front of the girl I barely know. It’s like my brain, and with it, the ability to think logically, completely shuts down for a moment, allowing me to proceed with that idiotic act.

The hovering knives, looking like glowing crosses surrounding that pale, cold girl, begin to shoot out, rapidly gaining in speed as they fly forward in succession of one another. At that very moment, as my feet carry me forward, I feel like my brain’s slowly turning back on. I recognize the danger in front of me -- that I am going to be killed, but by then it’s already too late to stop myself. I stand in defense of the child behind me, my arms outstretched. I close my eyes, waiting for the impact of those knives and bracing myself for the sharp, stabbing pain that my body will soon be enveloped in.

...It never comes.

This seems to happen to me a lot, doesn’t it? I always end up closing my eyes whenever something bad shows up and expecting to die, only for nothing to happen at all, although the fact that it’s happened to me multiple times is still unnerving. Still, I make a mental note not to squeeze my eyes shut at the first sign of danger next time -- although it would be even better if there isn’t a next time!

Slowly, I open my eyes, and they widen in shock when I see that those pointed crosses were only about an inch away from digging into my skin. Ugh, talk about a close shave! Trying to calm my nerves, I look past those knives--now losing their glow and fading away—at the girl who controls them. She stands where she was before, her body and her eyes completely unchanged from before.

I lower my trembling arms, still pretty shaken from how close I was to being made a pincushion. Cautiously, I watch the girl standing before me. She has yet to react in any way, aside from presumably halting her attack. Her eyes make a sudden movement, however, darting to the side. Following her gaze, I turn around. The girl who was carrying that thick book is gone, having completely vanished from sight. I... guess she took the opportunity to get away.

Gulping, I turn back to the other girl, wondering what to do next. It... doesn’t seem like she wants to kill me, but I can’t be sure of that if I don’t even know what it is she wants. I freeze up when the girl returns her gaze to me, and I feel cold sweat running down my brows as she begins to approach at a leisurely pace. Up close, I see just how small she really is: the top of her head only reaches up to just above my abdomen level.

She stares up at me with those blank eyes, not saying anything. And then, she extends her arm up, reaching out for my face. Not quite tall enough to reach, she stands on the tip of her toes, which gives her just enough of a boost. She touches my face with one hand...

And then she pinches my cheek between her finger and her thumb, giving it a tug and dragging my head down with it until the tops of our heads are level.

“Ow, ow, ow!” I cry out in pain.

“You,” she says in a quiet voice, addressing me in a blunt tone. “Do you wish to die?”

“N-no!” I say hastily.

“Your response is in contradiction with your actions,” she says, not letting go of my cheek as she continues to drone on in that emotionless voice. “If you did not wish to die, then why did you jump in front of that dreck? You would have been killed instantly.”

“I-I wanted to protect her!”

“Why?” she asks while finally letting go of my cheek, freeing me from her vicious pinch. “Is that thing an ally of yours?”

I take a moment to rub my cheek, trying to soothe the throbbing pain. “Um... well, yes! Er, I mean no. Actually, I don’t really know.”

“Then you had no reason to protect it.”

“B-but even so...!” I say, somewhat irritated by this girl’s lack of empathy. “She was a child! I couldn’t stand by and just watch her get killed...”

“Then was it because of its appearance? Was it for a shallow reason such as that that you risked your life to protect it? That is... idiotic.”

What...?

“It is devoid of logic,” she states monotonously. “There is no meaning in such an action. It is a foolish, human-like mistake, for only imbeciles would allow themselves to be killed on account of rash actions born from passion.”

“That’s because I am human!” I say, not thinking to retort with anything better.

“Are you? How surprising,” she says, not looking surprised at all in the least. “You are human, and yet you are able to resist the suggestion spell that has been cast in the area. That is a sign that you possess at least a moderately high level of magical resistance, at least more so than a normal human.”

“...Suggestion spell?” I repeat after her.

“Yes,” she says. “This area has been placed under a mass-suggestion spell. The suggestion is ‘You will not see anything out of the ordinary.’ It is similar to the effects of complete hypnosis. However, the effects are weaker long-term, and generally produce a stronger effect when the command given is—”

“Ahhh, okay!” I say, holding up a hand to silence her. “...So basically, everyone around is being bewitched into not noticing anything unusual?”

“Yes.”

....That explains that.

But... that doesn’t explain who she is at all.

I look at the girl, who continues to simply just stare up at me. It doesn’t look like she wants to kill me, or like she’s about to go anywhere soon... If I ask her some questions, will she give me some answers? I’d better keep them to a few, though, since there’s no telling what it is that she’s here for...

(choose three)

[ ] “Who are you?”
[ ] “Why are you here?”
[ ] “What are you after?”
[ ] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
[ ] “Why did you attack that girl?”
[ ] Ask her for more details about the spell.
[ ] (write-in)
>> No. 29119
[x] Why were you attacking that girl?
[x] I've seen you around before, I think. You're definitely not normal. What are you doing here?
[x] Do you know anything about the Cactus Corporation, crazy angels, or about all the people showing up in this world? They're all serious pains in my ass or on the way to becoming one, and I don't want to add another group to the list.
[x] (If there's aaaaany time left over, get her name, or perhaps work it into one of the previous options. Should it really even be its own choice? That seems somehow unfair.)
>> No. 29120
[x] “Who are you?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
[x] Ask her for more details about the spell.

These three should more or less cover the rest of the choices as well.
>> No. 29121
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
[x] Ask her for more details about the spell.
>> No. 29122
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
[x] Ask her for more details about the spell.
>> No. 29123
[x] “Who are you?”
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
Asking who she is might give us some insight into any group she belongs too.
Asking what she is after will allow us to gain some insight into what she is doing, while simultaneously allowing us to infer a reason for it.
Lastly, asking about Alice should give us a satisfactory answer on what a dreck is.
>> No. 29124
[x] Who are you?
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
The first one seems to be the most obvious. Impulsiveness and all that. The second and third are simply logical steps. We need to know why she did what she did and o the hell did we just saved.
>> No. 29125
[x] “Who are you?”
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] Ask her for more details about the spell.
>> No. 29126
[X] "What is your name?"
[X] "What is your quest?"
[X] "What is your favorite color?"
>> No. 29127
[X] "What is your name?"
[X] "What is your quest?"
[X] "What is your favorite color?"

See how she reacts
>> No. 29128
[x] “Who are you?”
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”
>> No. 29129
[B] "What is your name?"
[B] "What is your quest?"
[B] "What is your favorite color?"
>> No. 29130
[x] “Who are you?”
[x] “What are you after?”
[x] “Do you know who or what that other girl was?”

Be serious guys. This isn't the type of story where joke answers will go unpunished.
>> No. 29133
[x] "Who are you?"
[x] "Why were you attacking that girl?"
[x] "Do you know who or what that other girl was?"

I'd like learn more about the girl we've been bumping into first.
>> No. 29146
“Hey,” I call out to her.

She makes no attempt to recognize that I intend to speak to her, continuing to stare at me blankly with an expressionless face. Goddamn, do those eyes of hers ever blink? And the way they’re completely monochrome leaves me unable to even tell if they’re focused or unfocused, giving me the impression that I’m just speaking to a still, unmoving doll.

“Who are you?” I ask, not discouraged by the lack of acknowledgement.

She stays quiet, but her head tilts a little slightly to the side, her eyes shifting ever so slightly to keep completely transfixed on me. She watches me for a few seconds like that, and I somehow get the feeling that I’m being analyzed and evaluated somehow. Ugh, I really wish she would stop staring and say something.

“It is rude to ask for the name without introducing yourself first.”

Ah, right. A bit flustered, I do just that.

“Muse,” she says in a small voice.

I stand there, waiting for her to continue speaking, but... she doesn’t seem to be planning to open her mouth again, returning to silence. Finally fed up with just waiting, I say with a slightly irritated tone of voice, “...That’s it?”

“You asked who I was,” she says quietly. “I gave you an identity you may refer to me by. Is that not a satisfactory answer?”

“No. No it’s not at all.”

“Then, please make your questions more specific.”

I touch my fingers to my temples, massaging them as I turn away from the small girl, closing my eyes and lowering my head. Why is it that all the girls I run into have to be so difficult to deal with? Ugh, whatever... if I want answers, then I’m just going to have to play by the way she likes it, then.

“Okay, first of all,” I begin, looking back to the girl. “You’re not a human, I’m pretty sure of that. What are you?”

“...I am of a race of supernatural beings who subsist off of the vital fluid of humans,” she answers in a flat voice, touching one hand to her chest, over the red jeweled brooch. “I believe in this country that you would refer to me as a ‘blood-sucking demon,’ is that not correct?”

“A vampire, then,” I say, nodding. “Hold on, if you’re a vampire, then how is it that you’re walking around in daylight?”

“It is true that we possess photosensitivity to a degree that may sometimes produce fatal reactions in our kind, it is a weakness that can be overcome by especially powerful members,” she explains in monotone. “A fledgling, for example, may be reduced to ashes instantly when exposed to sunlight, but it is not immediately fatal to an older, more powerful member.”

...Damn, I didn’t really ask for an explanation on vampires, but whatever.

“Also, through my research, I created a solution that can weaken the effects of sunlight when applied directly to the screen. With it in use, there is no problem in walking around in daylight. The sunlight is nothing more but a small concern.”

I raise my eyebrows in interest. Some kind of magical potion that makes a vampire immune to sunlight, maybe?

“It is called ‘sunscreen.’”

Oh.

“So, uh...” I say, biting my lip for a second before continuing. “...Muse, right? What are you doing here, anyway? Er... what are you after?”

“I seek advancement.”

“Advancement?”

“Yes,” she says, nodding just slightly. “I seek to learn all there is to learn. I seek knowledge. I seek wisdom. It is through knowledge and wisdom that all things advance. Therefore, what I seek above all is advancement.”

“And that’s why you’re here...?” I repeat, a little unsure of where I’m going with this or how it’s related to the recent events.

She pauses, which is odd considering how all of her responses thus far has been almost immediate, before speaking. “...Partially.”

“What do you mean, ‘partially’?”

“Recently, I have felt many unidentified ‘auras’ gathered in this country,” she begins to explain. “That is why I have come here: to satisfy my own curiosity by investigating the cause of the gathering of the numerous divinities in this nation.”

I don’t really get it, but it means she’s here to check out the bizarre things that have been going on here, right? So... she’s not an enemy, then? But what does she mean by ‘auras’ and ‘divinities,’ anyway? Is she referring to all the youkai that’s been roaming the city ever since how-many-days ago?

“So is that why you came after that girl?” I ask her, thinking back to that mysterious little blonde girl. “What is she, anyway?”

“She is only a mere thing,” Muse replies, the tone of her voice finally breaking away from monotone to take on a more haughty quality. “A creation of magic—a very shoddy one at that—that can serve to teach me nothing new. It is filth. Worthless. It was a waste of time to pursue after it.”

The way she talks about her is kind of bothering me. But... a creation of magic, huh? So, what, someone made her?

“...If that is all, I will be taking my leave,” the girl says as I mull over what she just told me, turning around, her black cape swaying in the air. “There is nothing left for me to find here. The source of the field of magic that has been cast here is untraceable. The magic user in question must have taken every precaution to ensure that they would not be found out.”

“Ah? You’re leaving?”

“Yes,” she says, nodding without turning back to me. “...There is one particular area in this city where the gathering of unfamiliar auras is especially dense. I wish to locate that place and examine it myself.”

...Wait, hold on. She isn’t talking about my home, is she? Wait, wait, wait, wait, is that why I saw her outside before?

[ ] “Hold on...”
[ ] Let her leave.
>> No. 29147
[ ] “Hold on...”

Persons With Experience Investigating Things will be Useful.
>> No. 29148
[x] “Hold on...”
It is time to go home anyway.
>> No. 29149
[ø] “Hold on...”
>> No. 29150
[x] Let her leave.
>> No. 29151
[x] “Hold on...”
It seems she's going to go to our house, whether we stop her or not, so we might as well make it on our terms.
>> No. 29152
[x] “Hold on...”

Might as well ask, especially since there's the off chance that she is NOT headed for our house.
>> No. 29153
[x] “Hold on...”
>> No. 29166
[x] Hold on.

She could very well be investigating the church.

Nice to know she's not a total bitch, at least. But what happened to Loli Alice? Did she run off or disappear or something, and I missed it?
>> No. 29168
>>29166
>Following her gaze, I turn around. The girl who was carrying that thick book is gone, having completely vanished from sight. I... guess she took the opportunity to get away.
>> No. 29172
>>29168
I missed it, then. Thanks.

Also, for those wondering:
>"Scientia est lux lucis."
'Knowledge is enlightenment,' apparently.

And that line at the head of the previous thread now makes me wonder...
>“—sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused—”
...I suddenly wonder if this was referring to Kotohime.
Still would like to figure out why our dear nutball was flipping out, and why touching her pulled a Saya no Uta on us.
>> No. 29176
[ ] Go see what they want.

Perhaps they could be of help finding Renko. Unless Renko is laying low also it would be helpful to have the backing of the police.
Of course, if they are here to arrest the main character... it's a risk we have to take, I guess.
>> No. 29180
“Hold on,” I say as she starts forward, weakly reaching out to her with one hand, stopping her before she can leave.

I’m still not sure whether I can consider her an ally or an enemy or someone entirely unrelated to all of this, or the exact reason for her interest in these events beyond just curiosity, but from the conversation I had with her just now, even if it was for the first time, it doesn’t seem like she would try to kill me, at the least. It seems like she might be heading to my home anyway, so I might as well make sure I’m there when she gives it a visit.

Muse gives no reply, only standing still with her back turned to me. A little nervously, I open my mouth to speak out to her, “I might know where that place might be.”

She pauses for a moment before turning around, her black cape tossed up in the air behind her. In that same, quiet tone she always uses, she says, “Of course you do.”

“Huh?”

“If you were not involved in all of this, it would have been pointless for me to answer your questions,” she says, her head leaning to the side just a tad bit. “Also, it would only be customary for you to return the debt that you owe me, would it not?”

“Debt?” I say, furrowing my eyebrows together in confusion. What is this girl talking about...?

“Amongst my clan, information is the most valuable commodity,” she says as she places a hand over her brooch, stepping forward a little closer. “I have answered your three questions. Would it not be acceptable for you to answer three questions of mine as well?”

“I... I guess...?”

“Excellent,” she says, nodding. “Then I will prepare the contract necessary to authenticate the equivalent exchange of knowledge.”

Wait, what contract? Isn’t it a bad idea to make a deal with a devil?

“Uh, do we really need to do that?” I ask with a puzzled frown. “I mean, you could just ask your three questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them.”

Muse seems genuinely confused. “Are you saying that the procedure is unnecessary?”

“I guess...?”

“How strange. I was under the impression that humans would not act in agreement to something unless legally bound to do so by an official contract. But if you say that this is unnecessary, then I will not proceed with it.”

Which era is she stuck in? Or rather, which country does she think she’s in?

“You...” I begin, stifling a laugh by passing it off as a cough, raising a fist to my mouth. “...You’re not exactly familiar with the world, are you?”

She says nothing, but the look on her face tells me more than anything she’s said about herself so far, her normally pale cheeks coloring themselves a light shade of red as she lowers her chin, casting her gaze at her feet.

While looking down like that, she begins to speak at a much more rapid speed, sounding almost frantic, “I-it is not my own fault, the list of things that I still needed to learn was much too large and as the years passed by it continually kept expanding. I...I simply had no time to study the common etiquette of modern day humans before I set out, that is all.”

Failing to keep a grin from breaking out, I reach out and place my hand on top of the girl’s head, giving it a pat. She flinches from contact, squeezing her eyes shut, before pushing away my hand with her own.

“I may not be up to date with recent times,” she says, scowling. “But I can still tell that the gesture just now was a sign of disrespect. Please do not think of me or treat me as you would a human child.”

“You’re wrong,” I say, feeling somewhat adventurous. “Nowadays, in this country, that’s the highest form of respect you can give to a person.”

She eyes me suspiciously, still frowning. “...Is that true?”

“Yup.”

“I see,” she says with a nod of affirmation, relaxing her mouth.

I wonder how long I can get away with that.

“So, you were going to ask some questions?”

She nods. “Yes.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

“First of all,” she begins, taking a small breath before continuing, “You seem to be aware of the reason why so many unnatural energies are gathered in this nation. Would you be able to divulge that information to me?”

“Um, well, let’s see...” I say, rubbing the back of my neck as I think back to the bits of conversations I picked up between Yuuka and everyone else. “...What you’re picking up is probably all the youkai and demons running wild in this city. They come from this one place called ‘Gensokyo,’ I think. It’s another world of sorts, as far as I know.”

“Gensokyo...” she repeats, pausing for a small moment before nodding. “I have heard of it. It is known to be a remote region of Japan that serves as haven of sorts to supernatural beings of eastern origin. I see. That also explains the reason behind the very nature of the presences I sensed.”

“...What?”

“Most of what you know as a ‘youkai’ is very closely tied with nature and the Earth itself. To put it simply, the reason why I called the auras I sensed ‘unnatural’ is because they feel too natural, due to their connection with the world.”

“Uh...”

“Next,” she says, ignoring my obvious confusion. “This place where the unusual gathering is located that you claim to know of, is it your abode?”

“Um, yeah,” I say with a nod.

“Finally, will you take me there?”

It doesn’t seem like she’d take no for an answer, anyway, so I might as well agree to do just that.

“...Okay.”

------

I walk toward home with my hands jammed into my pockets. A few feet behind me, the girl named Muse follows along, her large black cape swaying in the wind. I let out a sigh and shake my head as I look around the streets. Even though there’s a girl walking around with a cape billowing around like that, no one seems to give a damn. I think back to what that girl said about that ‘mass suggestion spell’ or whatever, figuring she’s probably doing something similar right now.

Turning around a corner, I glance on over at the building that serves as my abode, initially absentmindedly walking along. That is, until I notice the two men in uniform waiting outside, just near the metal staircase leading up to my front door. Quickly, I duck back behind the corner I just turned, peeking out. It’s the two officers that came by for a visit the other day. What were their names again...? Well, that doesn’t matter, but why are they here in the first place?

Muse’s voice comes from right beside me. “Is that the place?”

I nearly jump back out of surprise, having almost forgotten her. “Oh, uh, yeah.”

“I see,” she says. “...Indeed, the auras I sense appear to be coming from there.”

Well, of course they are. But what’s more worrying to me right now is why those two guys are waiting just outside my home. I don’t see a patrol car anywhere nearby, and I don’t see any other officers around, so it’s not like they came back with a backup squad to arrest all of us or anything like that, but still, it makes me nervous. They don’t suspect me for the murder of Kurosawa, do they? I mean, I said I’d save him, but he turned up dead anyway... so having known about the victim, wouldn’t that make me a prime suspect or something like that...? Ugh, what have I gotten myself into...

I could try speaking to them to see what they want, but... I’m not sure if that would be a good idea. Well, maybe if I enlist this girl’s help, I can get them to go away, or... or I could get her to help us sneak inside and think of what to do then. What should I do in a situation like this...?

[ ] Go see what they want.
[ ] Ask Muse for help.
>> No. 29181
[x] Go see what they want.

Can I help you, officers?

>>29175
For some reason, I can't help but think of Muse as looking like Rinko from Love Plus.

>Muse scenes
Yes, I like her.
>> No. 29189
[x] Go see what they want.
[x] Ask Muse for help if something goes wrong.

Backup is important, in case that they came preparted or that you walk into a trap.
>> No. 29191
[x] Go see what they want.
We decided to trust these guys, allowing them to keep their memories of where we live. And now that trust is paying off. Hooray for blind optimism.
>> No. 29194
>>29191
Sure hope you're right.

[x] Go see what they want.
>> No. 29195
[x] Go see what they want.
>> No. 29197
[x] Go see what they want.

I rather like Muse.

And we need to kinda clear up that head-pat thing, because, someday, she's going to try to headpat Yuuka.
>> No. 29214
[x] Go see what they want.

You sir are the first person to include Seihou character in a story. Not to mention my favourite, Muse.
>> No. 29228
...I guess I shouldn’t think too hard about it. After all, if they came here without even a patrol car or something like a riot squad, I don’t think they’re here to do anything particularly dangerous. After all, they did say that they would do their best to help me, didn’t they? They trusted me enough to believe my crazy story about demons running amok, so the least I can do is trust them back in turn. Having affirmed that to myself, I step out from the cover of the building, turning to Muse before I go.

“Do those men have business with you?” she asks before I can open my mouth.

I nod. “...Sorry, but could you wait here for a bit?”

“Naturally.”

I begin to approach the officers, taking a deep breath to calm myself while trying to keep my face as neutral as possible, though I can’t help but think that maybe the effort to make myself seem normal is only going to make me look more suspicious. The rookie officer’s the first to spot me, tapping his older partner on the shoulder to get his attention.

“Hey officers,” I say with a flat voice, raising a hand for what I hope they see as a friendly greeting. “Can I help you with something?”

The older of the two flicks his cigarette to the ground, grinding on it with the tip of his shoe to put it out and reaching up with his hand to rub the bottom of his nose while speaking with a muffled voice. “...A man identified as Kurosawa Takeshi was found dead this morning.”

I cringe slightly at the mention of his name, still unable to completely get the image of his horror-stricken face out of my mind. The older officer calmly watches me. There’s no way he didn’t pick up on that just now. Still, he doesn’t say anything yet, just casually slipping one hand into the pocket of his trousers.

“He was found lying on a subway’s tracks,” the younger officer steps forward to explain when it becomes clear that his partner intended to keep his silence. “Autopsy reports found that he died of suffocation from a broken neck. The official investigation ruled it as an accident or a suicide; they’re claiming that the guy jumped or fell in there, though...”

“That’s obviously not the case,” the older cop says gruffly, pulling out a new stick of cigarette. “They a big ol’ bruise on his neck. He didn’t fall from nowhere. He was murdered, and that’s what the station’s afraid to admit to the public.”

“Wait, what?” I say, taken back. “Why would they do that? Telling a lie like that is...”

“They don’t want to connect it to the other two unsolved murder cases,” the younger officer hurries to explain, sounding almost a little overly defensive. “If word got out that a third murder happened again without a single lead, then people will start to panic, and it makes the police force look like a bunch of incompetents.”

Normally I’d be inclined to say that they are a bunch of incompetents, but I know that the culprits are beyond whatever the police can do right now, so it wouldn’t really be fair of me to say that.

“...We looked up the guy,” the older cop says, lighting the end of his cigarette with a lighter and taking a drag on it before continuing. “Kurosawa Takeshi. 29 years old. Lived with his parents in a house one prefecture away from here. Unemployed. Unmarried. His parents filed a ‘missing person’ report ‘bout four months ago.”

...Huh, so that’s who he was? Some loser living in his parents’ home? That can’t be true... if that is so, then what was with him and that Cactus company? It’s not as if they’d have any dealings with some random NEET, so why would they send Senpai to meet with him...? Hell, even Senpai seemed pretty confused as to who he was.

Raising my hand to my mouth, I nibble on my thumb. How strange...

(Choose one question)

[ ] “Why are you telling me this?”
[ ] “...So do you suspect me?”
[ ] “Anything else you can tell me about him?”
[ ] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
>> No. 29230
>>29214
Actually, YAF had VIVIT in "Ai Ai Akyu," for some unholy reason.
>> No. 29231
[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"

We need to come across as being-- and for that matter, should GENUINELY be --confused and intrigued over the matter. If we seem interested in the case and the weirdness, we won't have a shred of worry or defensiveness in our tone, both of which might make the officers think we did it.

We want to sound like we want to hear more about the investigation and the weirdness, rather than distancing ourselves from it or appearing to be totally uninvolved, since a criminal would want to have nothing to do with this, and be eager to get the cops the hell gone and away.

tl;dr, show concern for and interest in the case, rather than worrying about yourself. We need to appear like we hadn't even considered that they might be here to apprehend or question us.

(If I've repeated myself or reiterated just what I already said, I apologize.)
>> No. 29232
[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
>> No. 29233
[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
Their reasons are unimportant. Facts and informations are what is needed.
>> No. 29234
[ø] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
>> No. 29235
[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
[x] Tell them about the new kill mail.

Just a thought, police officers should have no trouble locating a student.
>> No. 29236
>>29230

I don't read crap. That story just soiled Nanaya's name and I blame YAF and anon who voted. Also, YAF still owes me and some of us TS1 REMAKE.
>> No. 29237
>>29236

Forgot my vote.

[x] "What can you tell me about the two
murder cases?"
>> No. 29238
[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
-[x] Tell them about the new kill mail.
They can mistrust us all they want, but even they should have realized by now that this is no ordinary murder spree and that we're they best bet in stopping the murders.
>> No. 29239
[x] “...So do you suspect me?”
There's no use beating around the bush. From the cops point of view, we definitely look shady, and should clear this shit up, so they can get back to helping us.
>> No. 29241
>>29235
>student
Why do you (assuming you're the same one) keep insisting on thinking of Renko as a college student when it's pretty damn obvious that Renko is the alleged "boy" at Elly's daycare? There is a mountain of evidence for it being the boy, and nothing except regular canon for your theory. Anywhere else, I'd side with you, but you've got nothing to show for that's been confirmed in this story that matches up with her being a student.

...Unless Lion is pulling some kind of massive red herring bullshit on us, of course, but I don't think that is/hope that is not the case.

>>29239
Of course we look shady, but that's because we already knew about Kurosawa, and asked for their help in finding him.

That's the whole point of asking about the other two murderers: You want to paint a picture not just of someone who is interested in this case, but of someone to whom the thought of being suspected in Kurosawa's death has never even occurred.

This makes sense to other people, right? I'm not crazy to think like this, am I?
>> No. 29244
[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"
[x] Tell them about the new kill mail.
>> No. 29245
>>29241
Wouldn't trying to paint a picture of innocence make us seem more suspicious? If we acknowledge that we are suspicious, and clear that up, they would be more willing to help us in the future, right?
>> No. 29248
>>29245
Except that we can't. I mean, what are we going to tell them? Some fallen angel is on a campaign to rid the world of impure souls and summoning demons to do it? It's not like we are particularly certain of what's happening either. Given the situation, there really is no way to avoid being suspected in this case, not until we figure out who sent in the terminator, at the very least.

[x] "What can you tell me about the two murder cases?"

That said, it probably won't hurt to see what they've pieced together. Assuming they'd tell us, of course.
>> No. 29253
...Well, at this point, what I really don’t have much info on are the two murder cases that’s been left unsolved for quite a while now, at least beyond what I managed to catch on the morning news. Since these guys have to handle those cases as well, I might as well learn all I can about them from these officers.

“What can you tell me about the incidents before?” I ask, still nibbling on the end of my thumb in thought. “The other murder incidents, I mean.”

The younger cop looks a little apprehensively toward his partner, clearly hesitating to speak out to me. I do my best to keep my cool, putting on the best poker face I can manage. The older cop looks over me in silence while puffing on his cigarette, dusting off the ashes at the end to the concrete ground below. It’s pretty obvious that they’re at least a little suspicious of me, and I wouldn’t blame them, but I can’t afford to lose my cool and get too defensive.

“The first body was found on October 21st, about a quarter to 10 PM, in the alleyway between two shops in Aoyama,” the older cop finally begins to speak in a gruff voice, taking another long drag from his cig and puffing the smoke out before continuing. “Hamano Takumi. 16 years old. A high school freshman. Apparently he was a bit of a loner in his class. Anyway, he was found with numerous bite marks on his body. Looked more like the work of a wild animal than a human.”

“Right,” I gulp, nodding. A high school student...

“The second body was found on November 3rd at Kanda Station. The report came in at around 3:30 PM. The victim was Yamada Ichirou, 47 years old. A typical salesman; nothing more, nothing less. Anyway, he was found in the station’s bathroom, with the same bite marks on his body as the previous victim’s.”

And a salesman, too? I don’t get it, what could possibly connect those two together? And not just them, either. I can’t forget that I was also targeted by those e-mails; twice, even! Just what is it that connects Yamada, Hamano, Kurosawa, and me? What connection could there possibly be in the four of us? Is it just indiscriminate killing, or... Argh, nothing about this makes any sense.

“...Anyway, that’s about as much as we know,” the older cop says, flicking the cigarette to the ground right next to where the other one fell, putting it out with his shoe just as he had done earlier. “It ain’t much. This is a hell of a strange serial murder case we’ve got here.”

“You can say that again,” the younger cop says with a sigh. “We’re completely stumped here. If we can’t stop the string of murders, we’re going to really get it. Not just from the district chief of police, but the whole police force is gonna end up getting it from the public. Yikes, I’m not looking forward to that.”

“I’ll manage it somehow,” I say quietly, though even to myself I don’t sound very convincing or very confident.

“Just so you know,” the gruff officer says with narrowed eyes, a dangerous edge to his voice, wagging his index finger at me, “You are under suspicion. We just haven’t declared you as an official suspect yet. So you’d better not do anything to make us do that, understood?”

...It’s not like I wasn’t expecting that anyway.

“Don’t think too much of it,” the younger cop says, trying to put on a friendly grin. “You’re only under suspicion because, well, we don’t have anyone else to suspect, and it’s not like we told anyone else about you and all. I mean, you gotta admit, your situation is pretty weird.”

“Tell me about it,” I mutter under my breath, grumbling a little.

“We’ve told you what we had to say,” the older cop says, slipping his hands into his pockets. “C’mon, Samukawa. Let’s go.”

“Yes sir,” the younger cop says, quickly following behind his partner as he begins to walk away from the area.

As I watch them walk away, I see Muse walking toward me with her black cape billowing in the air behind her from the wind, passing by the two officers. Like everyone else, those two don’t seem to notice her, not giving her even a passing glance as they walk past the girl, even though the way she’s dressed is completely out of the ordinary. I’m the only one who can see her, apparently.

I’m starting to think that maybe she’s just a figment of my imagination.

“Have you properly concluded your business with those men?” she asks, stopping in front of me.

I reach out and place my hand on her head again, feeling the soft, silky silver hair beneath my palm. Looking at her completely seriously, I ask, “You’re real, right?”

Muse stares at me in silence for about a second or two, before shifting her weight to the tip of her toes, standing on the end of her feet to reach up to my face with one hand to pinch my cheek, forcefully dragging my head down as she tweaks the flesh pinched between her finger and her thumb, all with that never changing deadpan expression on her face.

“Owowow!” I whimper out loud in a muffled voice.

“Does it hurt?” she asks, not letting go.

“Fucking ow! Yes, yes it does! Of course it hurts!”

She twists the flesh further, causing sharper pain, as she continues to speak in monotone, “Then would you say that the pain you are experiencing now is proof enough of my existence? Or would you desire for me to confirm it in another way?”

“Okay, okay, you exist! So—goddamn it, ow!—let go already!”

She finally releases me, and I immediately take a stumbling step away, one hand rubbing the cheek currently in suffering. I bet if I looked in the mirror now, I’d see a giant red spot in my cheek.

“You didn’t need to do that,” I say, a bit resentfully as I look at the girl.

“It was the fastest method to validate to you my tangibility,” she replies calmly, lowering her hand. “In most cases, physical pain is a very recognizable bodily sensation.”

Gah. I guess it is my fault for asking something so stupid.

“If you have no objections, then I would now like to begin my investigation of your dwelling,” she says, looking up at the metal door leading into my home at the top of the grated staircase. “You have finished discussing your business with those two individuals, have you not?”

“Ah, yeah, I’m done with ‘em, for now,” I say, still rubbing my throbbing cheek. “Anyway, sorry I had to keep you waiting like that. Let’s go.”

She nods, and I step forward to lead the way, taking a hold of the rail and beginning to climb the stairs leading up to my home. I stand in front of the door, reaching into my pocket for the key to unlock it. Having done that, I wait a moment for the young girl taking her time climbing up to catch up before pulling the door open.

I step inside, lighting up the bulb at the front steps so I can actually see my feet. I toss off my shoes as Muse follows behind me, the heavy door shutting behind the two of us with a loud bang. For some reason, the girl seems to tense up slightly at that instant, but I figure the loud noise just surprised her or something.

“Hey, I’m home,” I call out, taking a look around the darkened house. Honestly, it’s getting a bit inconvenient to keep the blinds shut all the time. Think of how much this month’s electricity bill is going to be at this rate...

No one answers my call. Geez, are they still all asleep or something? Feeling a bit annoyed, I walk further inside, turning back to take a glance at Muse. She tries to follow me, but only a few feet away from the door, she suddenly stops, and turns around. The end of her cape’s been caught in the door. Grabbing a fistful of it, she silently tugs at it, trying to yank it out of the door’s clutches.

...Hasn’t it occurred to her to just open the door?

Walking back over to her, I do just that, freeing her and making sure her cape isn’t caught in the door again as I slam it shut. Sighing as I turn around, I attempt to walk further into the house when I feel something tug at the back of my shirt, somewhat forcefully yanking me back. Turning around, I see the girl giving me an unfathomable gaze.

“Just now, you perceived me as ‘clumsy,’ did you not?”

“...Huh?”

“That is absolutely not true,” she says a bit forcefully, her speech once again becoming more and more rapid as she goes along, almost like she’s having a panic attack. “I am absolutely not clumsy at all, it is only that I have spent the last few centuries in a residence far larger and grander than this one, and naturally all the doors are far more grandiose in size. It is only that I am unaccustomed to such small and confined domiciles such as this one. It is absolutely not at all owing to ineptitude!”

I stare at her blankly, before wordlessly placing my hand on top of her head to give it a few pats like I’d done before. Her cheeks glow a faint pink.

“...I still feel as though I am being ridiculed,” she says quietly.

Anyway, now I’m back at home, though no one seems to want to greet my return at the moment.

[ ] Head to the living room together and see if anyone’s there right now.
[ ] Tell Muse to wait for a bit while you...
--- [ ] Go check on Elly.
--- [ ] Go check on Kotohime.
>> No. 29254
[x] Tell Muse to wait for a bit while you...
--- [x] Go check on Elly.
>> No. 29255
[x] Head to the living room together and see if anyone’s there right now.
>> No. 29256
[x] Try and locate Kana first before bringing Muse anywhere. Even if she said she was joking last time, she didn't seem to react too well to yet another girl showing up.
-[x] Make sure she (Kana) knows that as far as you know, this is only a temporary visit, and that she (Muse) is not here to stay.
-[x] Or at least, you hope not.
[x] >>29255
[x] Check on Kotohime soon.
[x] Then Elly.

Just want to reassure the lovely ghost that this is not another lost puppy/love rival/mouth to feed/person to clean up after.
>> No. 29257
[ø] Head to the living room together and see if anyone’s there right now.

>I stare at her blankly, before wordlessly placing my hand on top of her head to give it a few pats like I’d done before. Her cheeks glow a faint pink.

hg--HNNNNNNNGH-
>> No. 29258
>>29257

Damn it, you just have to remind me of that. I really can't resist her. Her moe-ness level is too high.

[x] Head to the living room together and
see if anyone ’s there right now.
>> No. 29259
[x] Tell Muse to wait for a bit while you...
--- [x] Go check on Elly.
>> No. 29261
[x] Head to the living room together and see if anyone’s there right now.
Chances are pretty high that Yuuka will be watching television in there. And it's always a good idea to introduce new people to the leader.
>> No. 29282
File 128297921932.jpg - (117.87KB , 719x963 , 6022720.jpg ) [iqdb]
29282
“...Anyway, let’s just go on inside,” I say, though I can’t help but frown a little at the lack of life within my home.

Usually at least Kana’s around to greet me when I come home, but I haven’t seen her around yet. It’s a bit worrying, to be honest. Deciding to shake away my anxieties and relax myself a bit, I take a moment to clear my throat before heading further inside my home, making my way to the living room with the vampire girl following behind me quietly.

All of the lights are shut off, giving off the feeling that nobody’s home. I grope around in front of me, touching a hand to a wall and following along it in the direction of the living room. My eyes begin to adjust to the darkness, and gradually I can make out the silhouettes of objects in the shadows. Turning a corner, I’m met with an empty living room, which confounds me greatly.

“Where is every—!?”

I’m suddenly and rudely cut off by the feeling of a heavy weight on my back landing on my back, immediately forcing me prone on the ground. My heart races, and though I want to scream I can’t seem to open my mouth to do so. I hear a sharp hiss somewhere above me, and the pressure of weight on my back lightens for just an instant, shifting around. Whoever’s jumped me’s got me pinned down with their knees.

The lights suddenly come on.

“Eh? Oh, it’s just you,” I hear a girl’s voice from above me; the same girl who’s got me pinned to the ground, probably.

I twist my head around, looking up at my assailant. I see Kurumi there, kneeling on top of my back with an innocuous and slightly confused look on her face, her leathery black wings curling and uncurling behind her back as she meets my gaze, staring back at me.

I manage to find my voice a few moments after that, making a slow, steady use of it, “...what the hell were you doing?”

“Setting up an ambush,” she says simply.

“Why?”

“Because someone kept knocking at the door. You told us not to answer the door, right? So I thought maybe if they tried to force their way in I could take them out.”

“So why did you catch me, then?”

“I dunno. You looked tasty, I guess,” she says, shrugging. “I was hungry. I still am hungry.”

Sighing, I press my palms against the floor, pushing myself off the ground and drawing a sharp squeal from the vampire on top of me as she falls to the side, right on one of her buttocks. Maybe it was a bad idea to bring in this girl after all. Standing up from the floor, I look over to Muse, standing next to the wall with one hand on the switch controlling the lights in this room.

“I see that you have a fledgling with you,” she notes, lowering her hand as she moves her gaze to Kurumi.

The eyes of the two vampires meet, and immediately Kurumi stops rubbing her butt and jumps up to her feet, rushing toward me and hiding behind my back. She grips the edges of my shirt, burying her face in my back as she cowers there, practically shivering from fright.

“W-w-w-w-who is this kid...?” she says, clearly alarmed.

“A common reaction,” Muse says coolly, approaching the two of us with small steps. “It is inherent in the natural instincts of our kind; the desire for one to overthrow their sire. When one is within the presence of an older, more powerful member of the clan, they are likely to act in more aggressive ways, surfacing in displays of fear and dislike.”

Certainly, the closer Muse gets, the more tensed up Kurumi seems to become, at one point even letting out a low, beast-like growl in the other vampire’s direction, her grip on my shirt becoming almost powerful enough to stretch the fabric, nearly making tears in the material itself.

“...Well, she is of no notable qualities, anyway,” Muse concludes after watching her for a few seconds, turning her head away in a dismissive manner. “Given her behavior, I would say that she is less than a century old. She does not appear to possess any unnatural powers nor is she of noteworthy strength. Not interesting in the slightest.”

She turns around, reaching into her dress for something. Turning back around, she holds what looks like a medical capsule between her finger and thumb, outstretching it toward the two of us. I look at it with puzzlement, not knowing what the hell it is, and Kurumi peeks out from behind my back to take a better look at it as well.

“What is that?” I ask.

“My own creation,” she says, haughtily pointing her nose up in the air. “This will provide her with all the nutrients in blood that she needs to survive. It will also suppress the bloodlust. The effects can last as long as two weeks if she does not engage in particularly strenuous activities, and can easily last one even if she does.”

So... kinda like vitamin supplements, huh?

Kurumi slowly edges out from behind my back, cautiously approaching the girl. She stops just a step ahead of me, and then leaps forward, darting ahead to snatch the pill out of Muse’s finger and darting back to hide behind me again. She looks curiously at the capsule now on top of her palm.

“Why’s it in a capsule?” she asks.

“Because the taste of the formula is anything but pleasant.”

Kurumi shrugs, then pops the pill into her mouth, taking it without any water. She just stands there for a bit, and frowns. “...I know it’s working, but I just can’t get excited about it for some reason.”

“There is no need to be ‘excited’,” Muse says blankly. “If it works, then that is all that is necessary.”

She turns away from us, moving to one of the many flowers that Yuuka brought into our home. She crouches next to one of the vases, staring intensely at the many different varieties of flowers growing from it.

“How strange,” she notes with a look of vague interest, though out of the many blank expressions I’ve seen from her, this one might be the closest to a genuine look of intrigue. “These are off-season flowers. There is something else that is very strange about these as well, though I cannot say what for certain.”

“Speaking of flowers, where’s Yuuka?” I turn my head to ask Kurumi.

“Huh? Oh, um, she should still be sleeping in her room. She must be tired out from yesterday.”

Ah, right. I guess even Yuuka pushed herself a bit in that chaotic, failed mess of a rescue attempt, thanks to those twins.

“This ‘Yuuka’ you speak of,” Muse says, standing up from her crouch, “Does she have something to do with these flowers? If that is so, then I would like to meet her.”

“Uh, sure...?”

Rubbing the back of my head, I walk toward the entrance again, heading in the direction of the bedrooms behind, Kurumi choosing to stay behind in the living room while the other vampire follows obediently behind me. It’s not until I’m right outside Yuuka’s room, one hand about to touch the handle, that it occurs to me that it might be best to just let sleeping flowers lie.

“Is this her room?”

“Yeah...”

I take a moment to give the door a knock, on the off-chance that she might be awake now. My hopes are dashed when no one gives a reply, even though we spend about half a minute just standing outside the room silently.

[ ] Open the door.
[ ] “Well, after you.”
>> No. 29283
[x] Open the door.
>> No. 29284
>She grips the edges of my shirt, burying her face in my back as she cowers there, practically shivering from fright.
So cute.
[x] Open the door.
Even if she is more powerful, stronger and tougher than us, we still have our manly pride.
>> No. 29285
[x] Open the door.
>> No. 29286
[x] Open the door.
Quick! Thing of something witty to act as our last words!
>> No. 29287
[x] Open the door.
>> No. 29300
[x]"Well, after you."

No point in going first.
>> No. 29304
I'm more afraid of going in Yuuka's room than I was of the MechaBehemoth thing that beat the hell out of everyone.

Time to bite the bullet, I guess.

[X] Open the door.
>> No. 29322
[x] DYNAMIC ENTRY

Let's go out with a bang, baby.
>> No. 29326
[ ] Announce your entry
[ ] Open the door.
>> No. 29327
[X] Open the door.
>> No. 29328
Taking a deep breath, I let out a pitiful sigh, one hand reaching out toward the door knob. Halfheartedly turning the knob to carefully open the door, I peek inside the room. In contrast to the rest of my home, Yuuka’s room is brightly lit with sunlight, all of the curtains left open. Cautiously peering inside through the small opening I’ve made in the doorway, I see that Yuuka’s still sleeping soundly with her blanket pulled all the way up to her neck, dressed in her pink pajamas with her nightcap fit loosely on her head.

A bit more relieved, I push the door the rest of the way in, stepping inside. I keep my guard up, however, tip-toeing my way inside while Muse quietly shuffles along behind me, able to conceal her footsteps far more effectively and effortlessly compared to my clumsy attempt. I stop at the sleeping youkai’s side, moving my hands to my waist as I furrow my brows, looking down at the woman. So... should I just shake her awake? I mean, the last time I tried to tease her when she was asleep, she clocked me one pretty hard.

“A heavy sleeper, I see. How inefficient, to be wasting a resource as precious as time,” Muse notes, making no attempt to speak in a whisper. She then places a hand over her chest, pointing her nose up in that haughty manner again. “As for myself, I dedicate only two hours of each day to resting my body. The rest of my time is spent engaging in further learning.”

That sounds incredibly unhealthy, even for a vampire. Beats not sleeping at all though, I suppose.

Well, I guess I’m going to have to go on and do this. Though I don’t like it, I crouch down, reaching out to touch Yuuka’s shoulder. She twitches just a little slightly on contact, but she makes no other immediate reaction, so I go on ahead and give her a shake to try to rouse her to consciousness.

“Hey, Yuuka,” I call out her name as I try to wake her. “Wake up. We have a visitor.”

When she begins to stir, I quickly move away from her, fumbling back in case she tries to hit me again. She stirs again, and finally, she rolls to her side and pushes herself off her futon, her green hair in a tangled mess over her face. One of her eyes slowly opens, and sleepily, she rubs it with the back of her hand. Sitting up, she closes her eyes again as she stretches out her arms, reaching up.

“...what do you want?” she croaks, her voice groggy and tired and her eyes half-closed.

“We, er, we have a visitor,” I say somewhat nervously.

Yuuka stares at me for a moment, before finally turning her gaze to Muse, who returns it without flinching or even reacting to it at all. They remain quiet for a while, as though each of them is sizing up the other by the look in their eyes. Finally, the little staring match seems to end, and Yuuka turns her head over to me again.

“...Pedophilia is illegal, isn’t it?” she says, stifling a yawn shortly after.

I feel my one of my eyes give an involuntary twitch.

“She’s just a visitor,” I say, trying to keep my tone from becoming annoyed. “She was interested in meeting you guys, so I brought her here.”

Muse begins to speak shortly after I’ve finished saying what I had to say, not taking her eyes off Yuuka, “I would also prefer if you would not misunderstand as well. I am here only to pursue my own curiosity and interests, and I am not planning on staying here for an extended period of time. Once I have concluded my...”

She trails off when she sees the thoroughly disinterested Yuuka lie back down on her futon in the middle of her speech, tossing her blanket over her head. The girl frowns, remaining silent for a moment almost as if waiting for Yuuka to get up again to listen to her again. Finally, after around ten seconds or so, Muse turns her head over to me, pointing at the woman lying on the bedding with one finger.

“This person is rude,” she says.

“Hah...” I let out a weak groan, reaching out and shaking Yuuka’s shoulder again. “...Hey, come on, listen to what she has to say, at least.”

“I’m tired and she’s too wordy,” she says in a whine that sounds uncharacteristic of her, her voice muffled by the blanket. “Make her go away for today.”

“It will not take long,” Muse says, almost a little eagerly. “I give my word that I will keep my inquiries as concise as needed.”

The lump under the blanket stirs a little, and after a second of consideration, Yuuka pushes the blanket to the side, sitting up again. She crosses her arms together, and by her expression, she seems a little more awake than before. “...Okay, what do you want, vampire?”

“How impressive, to deduce my nature in only a single glance,” Muse says, cocking her head to the side just a little.

“I’m familiar with your type,” Yuuka says, yawning into her hand.

“I assume by that you mean you are familiar with the other of my kind here.”

“That small-fry, yes.”

“I see. As weak as her presence may be, you’ve become acquainted with it enough to identify another member of the clan.”

If I were Kurumi, I think I’d want to cry, listening to this talk.

“...The flowers in this dwelling,” Muse begins, narrowing her eyes. “Were you the one who created them?”

“That’s right,” Yuuka replies nonchalantly.

“...And they are not artificial? Imitations?”

“They’re real.”

Muse seems almost shaken by the answers, drawing back with her eyes widened slightly. On her normally emotionless face, there appears to be a mixture of surprise and excitement fighting to show on her face, though she seems to be doing a good job in keeping herself in check, as when she next speaks, her voice is back to the usual flat monotone, though she stutters just a bit toward the beginning.

“T-then... you have truly created those flowers? Living, genuine flowers? Although they are surrounded by magical energy that provides with them nutrients, in properties and growth they are no different from ordinary flowers...”

“I said I did, didn’t I?”

“You have discovered how to create life? Through magic?”

“I guess I have. I’m not really much of a magic user though. I only really started learning a couple of years ago.”

“...Impossible,” Muse says, biting her lower lip. “Countless alchemists and magicians have tried and failed to create a living, genuine lifeform through both scientific and magical means, and none have succeeded. It is currently impossible for them to even create an automaton capable of sentient thought. There is simply no way that a novice magician of only a few years’ worth of experience could have reached such a sought-after goal!”

“I’m a fast learner.”

“You must teach me,” the girl says fiercely, edging forward.

“No,” Yuuka says bluntly.

“I will not accept ‘no’ for an answer.”

“No.”

Muse narrows her eyes again, and to my surprise, her colorless pupils begin to glow red. “You will tell me all that I wish to know,” she says in a quiet, almost mystical voice.

Yuuka stubbornly repeats a “No.”

Muse’s pupils return to their normal gray color. She frowns, staring at Yuuka with a malevolent look in her eyes.

“Oh, you’re looking pretty dangerous now,” Yuuka says with a gloating smirk. “Are you going to try to force the information out of me now?”

“...No,” the girl replies quietly. “I will not engage in such thuggish behavior. I propose a trade; in exchange for the information I desire, I will impart on you anything you may wish to know. I am confident that I will be able to meet your request.”

“There isn’t anything I really want to know,” she says in a bored tone of voice. “I’ll pass.”

“Do not be so quick to dismiss me,” Muse says, her eyes narrowing dangerously again, her face flushing slightly red as her voice picks up in speed again. “I am over a millennium old. Please do not make the mistake of underestimating my accumulated knowledge or my alchemic abilities. If you so desire, I can give to you the structure and elemental makeup of every single genus of plants that have existed since over 1,500 years ago, even those that no longer exist.”

“Not interested,” Yuuka says, playing with her hair and looking like she’s only half-listening.

At this point, it just seems like Yuuka’s just trying to get under the girl’s skin, trying to goad her into a fight.

“Still. Still,” Muse says, swallowing hard as her face grows redder. “There is absolutely no way that I will give up on this. There must be something that would interest you. I am certain of it; if anything... if you wish to know anything at all, I am willing to trade that information with you... I will not leave until I do.”

She’s starting to sound really desperate. Almost like she’s about to start bawling if Yuuka rejects her again.

[ ] Try to mediate between the two.
--- [ ] Try to convince Yuuka to teach her.
--- [ ] Try to convince Muse to let it go.
[ ] You’ll go elsewhere for now. It’s best not to get caught up in this.
>> No. 29329
>Finally, after around ten seconds or so, Muse turns her head over to me, pointing at the woman lying on the bedding with one finger.
>“This person is rude,” she says.
This made me d'awww and laugh at the same time.

>“You have discovered how to create life? Through magic?”
>“I guess I have. I’m not really much of a magic user though. I only really started learning a couple of years ago.”
...That's pretty damn awesome. But then again, it's not called "The Ultimate Magic" for nothing.

[z] Try to mediate between the two.
--- [e] Try to convince Yuuka to teach her.
>> No. 29330
>I am not planning on staying here for an extended period of time.
Lies, that is what they all said. For being over 1000 years old she is pretty cute.

[x] Try to mediate between the two.
--- [x] Try to convince Yuuka to teach her.
Maybe there is something that Yuuka might want.
>> No. 29332
[x] You’ll go elsewhere for now. It’s best not to get caught up in this.
-[x] "Try not to blow up the house."
There is no use mediating in a matter we have no knowledge in. We might as well go see how Elly is doing. Or, if we are feeling lucky, going and seeing Kotohime.
>> No. 29333
>>29330
Pretty well mannered too, compared to a certain pair of sisters
>> No. 29334
>>29329
Same here, that scene was really cute. She is quite the character, no?
Vote later.
>> No. 29341
[X] Try to mediate between the two.
--- [X] Try to convince Yuuka to teach her.
--- [X] Try to think of something else Muse could do for Yuuka.
>> No. 29342
[x] Try to mediate between the two.
--- [x] Try to convince Yuuka to teach her.

Yuuka may be bluffing, and her ability to control her power and harness this magic only amounts to flowers. Big blasts of power not withstanding, because she's always had that, so I think she's only referring to magic proper. She may want a teacher. But on her terms.

[x] Try to mediate between the two.
-[x] Try to convince Yuuka to teach her.

At the worst we get emasculated by Yuuka in front of Muse. At best we get through a whole lot animosity in the future.
>> No. 29343
[M] You’ll go elsewhere for now. It’s best not to get caught up in this.
-[M] "Try not to blow up the house."

Muse doesn't seem to grasp that ultimately, she's just an old and powerful human from Yuuka's perspective.
It's actually pretty tempting to let Yuuka smack her around a bit. As ℳℴℯ as she is, we did kinda just witness her attempt to dismember and kill something simply because it wasn't useful to her. And doing it with a grin, no less.
>> No. 29344
>>29342
YOU ARE DOUBLE VOTING
THIS IS SO UNFAIR
>> No. 29346
>>29343
But in the end she dismissed it as a mere construct.
>> No. 29347
>>29346
That doesn't change the fact that her moe, flustered arrogance seems to have quickly made us forget the callous, dismissive arrogance that she displayed earlier.
>> No. 29348
>>29343
>>29347
Because good, relevant posts that hit upon important theories/plot elements/revelations, and/or which make a decent point (or points) seem to get undeservedly ignored on this site sometimes, I would like you to know that I, at least, read this, remembered that such was indeed the case, consider it important, and will bear it in mind when making further voting decisions.
>> No. 29354
[x] You’ll go elsewhere for now. It’s best not to get caught up in this.
-[x] "Try not to blow up the house."
>> No. 29356
>>29347
But that's nothing new to the MC as he lives with:

A flower youkai with an explosive temper
Her gatekeeper who seems to hate him half the time.
A Yandere poltergeist

So a rather cold girl with a slight moe side is nothing new.
>> No. 29358
>A flower youkai with an explosive temper
She's actually been quite calm in this story. She's still clearly a sadist though, so whatever.
>Her gatekeeper who seems to hate him half the time.
She stopped seriously hating him around the time he risked his life to save her. Now she just tends to act tsundere.
>A Yandere poltergeist
When has Kana ever acted yandere? She shows displeasure at his tendency to bring home random Touhous, but she hasn't actually attacked anyone yet.
>a rather cold girl with a slight moe side
She lacked empathy for Alice, who's clearly sentient, and attempted to kill her. Those are signs of psychopathy, especially since she doesn't seem to understand why it's wrong.
>> No. 29361
>>29358
But according to Muse, the loli Alice we saw was a construct, basically a messenger of sorts. Muse took her apart because a mix of not answering her questions and her rather soddy construction.
>> No. 29362
>>29361
The 'construct' felt pain, meaning she can feel, meaning she's not just a thing (or Alice can feel everything her 'doll' feels, which isn't much better).

I'm not saying Muse is evil. She isn't (Probably. I didn't play Seihou). I'm not against her moving in with either, unless it starts interfering with "Kana love~". All I want is that at some point we give her a stern talking to about her apathy at some point.
>> No. 29363
>at some point we give her a stern talking to about her apathy at some point
Derp.

Also, I'm a different person from >>29347 and >>29343. Didn't consider that that may or may not be obvious.
>> No. 29366
...To be honest, I don’t really care about the pursuit of greater knowledge or whatever the hell this millennium old little vampire is after, but I’ll at least say that I don’t want to sour up relations with her, at the minimum. I don’t know what Yuuka is thinking in trying to get her riled up like this, but at the rate this exchange is going it’s going to get even worse, and Muse might even lose her cool and attack Yuuka. We have enough trouble on our hands as it is without actively making another enemy, I’d say.

“Yuuka, just tell her your secret,” I say, trying not to let my frustration show in my voice as I address her, lest she get angry at me for it. “What do you have to lose?”

Yuuka’s eyes drift over to me, and for a second I almost flinch, expecting her to send a death glare in my direction. Instead, she just looks at me with an unconcerned look in her eye as she opens her mouth.

“I said don’t want to,” she stubbornly says, almost in a childish, pouty tone of voice. “And I’m not going to change my mind. I don’t care what this girl has to offer. I’m not interested in anything she can give me.”

“C’mon, don’t be like that,” I say, trying to plead with her a little. “You don’t know what she might be able to do for you, right?”

She doesn’t even bother to respond to me this time, coiling a lock of her own hair around a finger as she looks toward the window. Ugh, well, this was to be expected, after all. It’s not like Yuuka is particularly obedient to me, so there was no way me asking her to do something she doesn’t want to do was going to work out. At least I gave it a try, right? Hopefully, Muse will at least see that I was trying to help her.

“Why is it that you would deny me this knowledge?” Muse asks, doing a pretty good job at keeping her voice steady, despite the blush rising to her cheeks. “Are you truly hoarding it for yourself selfishly, or is it a matter of principles?”

“Ha?” Yuuka grunts absentmindedly, sluggishly turning her head back toward the girl.

“Or perhaps you lack the intricate knowledge required to instruct others in that magic,” the girl replies, narrowing her eyes and looking at the youkai with some malice in her eyes. “That may indeed be the case; a simpleton who understands only how to make use of an ability, but not how to teach it to others.”

Oh boy...

Yuuka looks at Muse with a blank look in her eyes, her expression completely unreadable as to whether she’s angry or not. Her lips form a slight smirk, though I can’t tell if it’s a bemused smirk or an outright malicious one. Similarly, her tone of voice when she next speaks is pleasant, but at the same time, it sounds venomous.

“Oh, it’s not a question of whether I have that knowledge or not. As you said, it’s a matter of principle,” she says, allowing the hair coiled around her finger to come loose as she lowers her hand. “I don’t believe in power that people don’t gain for themselves, that’s all. If you want to learn how to ‘create life’ so much then just figure it out for yourself... or something like that, I suppose.”

“...Then can’t you at least show her?” I say, not expecting too much but giving it a shot anyway.

Yuuka glances at me for a moment before considering my words, contemplating it for a moment. She shrugs her shoulders carelessly, and looks back to Muse, leaning back her head and speaking in a more casual tone of voice now. “...Well, I suppose I could show you, but only once, and then you’ll have to stop asking. How’s that?”

Muse frowns, looking pretty obviously disgruntled by the terms she’s set. She seems to have caught on to the fact that Yuuka seems pretty set in her decision, however, and finally caves in herself, letting out a wearisome sigh before lifting her chin to nod. “I suppose that would be acceptable.”

“Good. Now, watch closely, because I’m only going to do this once.”

She raises one hand, the top of her palm pointed up at the ceiling. Concentrating, a faint, glowing light begins to emit from the surface of her hand, casting a pale blue tint to a small area around it. And then, just as I blink, a flower suddenly appears in her hand, like it’s just suddenly sprung up from nowhere. Blinking a few more times, I dazedly look over to Muse, who is fixatedly staring at the flower with unblinking eyes.

“...You used magic to create a seed,” she says after a brief silence, frowning. “Then, you poured your own spiritual energy into the seed, expanding and stimulating the life within to grow and sprout from the seed. That much was a simple task to comprehend, and even the creation of the husk of the seed is something even a novice magician can perform. However...”

“A seed with no life in it won’t be able to germinate at all,” Yuuka finishes for her, tossing the flower in her hand on top of the blanket covering her legs.

Muse reaches out, taking the flower in her hand. “...May I take possession of this?”

“It’s 500 yen.”

“You’re charging her...?” I say incredulously. 500 yen for just a single flower? What a rip-off...

“Unfortunately,” Muse says, frowning again. “I am not currently in possession of any unit of currency that this nation has adopted in the last two hundred years. I have copper coins, if you would take that.”

“Sorry, but I’m not really much of a coin collector.”

Ah, geez. Silently cursing inwardly, I lean to the side as I dig around in my pocket, my fingers probing the inside of it for some loose change. Taking out a fistful of coins, I pick out a single 500 yen coin and drop it off on top of Muse’s lap. She gives me a blank stare before looking down at the coin, pinching it between her thumb and a finger and holding it up to her eyes, studying it.

“...I see, so this is what Yamato’s modern currency looks like,” she says to herself, before handing the coin over to Yuuka, who clenches it in one hand as she crosses her arms together. “Then, I have concluded my business here.”

Muse stands up, her large black cape fluttering behind her. Figuring I might as well see her off, I stand up as well. Not bothering to say goodbye, Yuuka immediately lies back down on her pillow, shifting on to her side so that her back is facing us as we leave. As I walk toward the door to leave the room, I hear a faint yawn behind me. Geez, just how long is she planning to sleep, anyway...?

With Muse and I exiting the room together, I take a moment to gently shut the door behind me. As we walk to the front door, the girl begins to speak to me without looking my way, her gaze fixed entirely in front of her.

“Thank you. You have my word that I will compensate you for the exact amount of money that you have lent me.”

“...Uh, well, it was just 500 yen...” I say quietly, though she doesn’t seem to notice. “So, um, are you finished investigating this place?”

“Yes, thank you,” she says, nodding. “...Though I am disappointed that the goal I have sought for so long appears to yet be far away, despite being so close.”

Nervously, I rub the back of my neck. “Well, um, don’t think too badly of her...”

Muse seems unfazed. “That is fine. Thanks to her, I now know that the goal I seek is one that can be reached. Now that I am certain that the end result is possible, it is only a matter of time before I am able to discover the means to achieve that result. I will never give up.”

“Well, uh... good luck, I guess.”

“However, I have one more question that I wish to ask you.”

“Huh?”

“There is a supernatural apparition that has established a connection with this abode,” she says, looking up at the ceiling. “Were you aware of that?”

“Uh... you mean it’s haunted by a ghost? Well, yeah, I know about it.”

“I see,” she nods. “...It is trying to hide, but I can see it. It has been listening in to our conversation, ever since we stepped inside.”

Though the way she’s calling Kana an ‘it’ irks me, I look around myself, trying to see if I can spot the ghost lurking around somewhere in the dark. I fail to see anything out of the ordinary, though, so maybe this girl just has some kind of super vision or something like that. But anyway, I figured she would be doing something like that, so I’m not surprised at all.

“I suppose she is not of your creation?” Muse asks.

“Creation?” I say, a bit puzzled. How do you ‘create’ a ghost? Unless she’s asking if I’m the one who killed her and made her haunt my life or something, in which case it’s still a no. Shaking my head, I say, “No.”

“In that case, you should not become too attached to it,” she says to me, though she seems to correct herself. “...No, even if it were your creation, it would be unwise to linger about it for too long.”

“...Huh?”

“There is only one end for things of such fragile existence, in a world like this,” she says, reaching out a hand toward the door handle. Her fingers coming to a rest on it, she pauses for a second. “And only one end for those who idle about such beings. If you are not careful, you may find yourself lost amidst a dream you can never wake from.”

She swings the door open, taking a step outside. She looks back to me for a brief moment before turning back around. “...We will meet again.”

The door slams shut behind her as she leaves.

Although a bit of her cape is caught in the door again, the corner of it sticking out of the door until it's tugged free from the other side.

Frowning, I bring a hand up to my forehead, my brows furrowed in confusion. Just what the hell did she mean by all that, anyway? Shaking my head, I turn back around.

Kana’s standing there, a scowl on her face. She looks at me for a second, before briskly turning around without so much as a word out of her mouth, walking into the wall behind her and phasing through it.

...What was that all about?

[ ] Get your 500 yen back from Yuuka.
[ ] Go check up on Kotohime.
[ ] Check on Elly and Ellen.
[ ] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.
>> No. 29367
[x] Check on Elly and Ellen.
Oh boy, Kana's pissed again. We should give her some space before we go apologize for whatever it is we did.
>> No. 29368
[x] Check on Elly and Ellen.
>> No. 29369
[x] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.
>> No. 29370
[x] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

Bought time we had some more Kana time.
>> No. 29371
[x] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

We should clear the air as soon as possible before misunderstandings take root.
>> No. 29372
[ ] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.
>“And only one end for those who idle about such beings. If you are not careful, you may find yourself lost amidst a dream you can never wake from.”

Even with this risk, I cannot resist Kana. She appeals to me the most amongst the bunch.
>> No. 29373
[x] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.
>> No. 29374
[x] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.
>> No. 29375
[ ] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

If not:

[ ] Get your 500 yen back from Yuuka.
>> No. 29377
[X] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

Works for me~!
>> No. 29378
[x] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

If she thinks she can use jealousy and pouting as a smokescreen for more serious underlying issues, she's wrong.
>> No. 29379
[X] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

If she doesn't want to talk to us right now, we can apologize and leave her to simmer on her own, but we should at least try to quell this issue before it becomes a problem.
>> No. 29383
[X] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

She's not very scary, but if she's pissed off, she can attack the computer. So it's better to apologize now.
>> No. 29384
>She's not very scary

Somehow I don't think that would help raise her spirits. *rimshot*
>> No. 29386
>>29384
Just don't tell her that she's not scary. She might attack the PC.

And for our character, the PC is holy.
>> No. 29387
[X] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

Priorities, priorities.
>> No. 29388
[X] See if you can get Kana to talk to you.

I've been waiting for more Kana, and I'm not about to allow anything anyone else says get in the way of love.
>> No. 29391
[x] >>29379
-[x] If Kanatalk is a bust, then check on the Ells, and finally Kotohime, that poor little wreck.
>> No. 29392
File 128444425837.jpg - (567.26KB , 800x600 , 6588127.jpg ) [iqdb]
29392
Is it because of what that girl said about her? Is that why Kana’s angry now...? But I don’t even get what Muse was talking about with that cryptic warning in the first place, so it’s not like I can really figure out what she’s so irritated over. Instead of ignoring this, I guess I should go talk to her about it and see if there’s anything I can do to sort out her feelings. Well, that would be the best thing to do, but I don’t really have much of a way with words, so I’m not sure how to approach her about it, but...

Ah, hell, forget trying to be an eloquent charmer or whatever. I’ll just go and be straightforward about it. That... is the best way to be when talking about what seems to be a serious issue, right? Not that I know much about people, but that’s what I’m guessing, anyway. Still, the problem is if she wants to talk about it or not. If she doesn’t want to come out of hiding, there’s really nothing I can do about it...

Looking around, hoping for a glimpse of her anywhere in case she’s still peering at me from outside my vision, I find no one out in this little hallway but myself. Sighing, I decide to head for the living room – to the kitchen, in case she’s gone over there. Fumbling through the dark interior of my home, I grope about the wall for the switch to the kitchen, lighting it up. Inside, I don’t see anyone, although a dishrag is floating at the sink, continually washing the same dish again and again.

“...Kana?” I call out toward the sink, thinking that she might be there, but invisible. “Kana, I know you’re around here somewhere. Come on out, I want to talk to you.”

I take a deep breath and listen for a response, only receiving silence. The dishrag cleaning that same dish again and again continues to swirl about in the air, performing its monotonous duty without a care in the world, even though that dish is probably spotlessly clean by now. I begin feeling a little bit annoyed; no one likes to be ignored, after all.

“Come on, Kana,” I say with a bit of a harder edge to my voice. “Just answer me, please.”

The kitchen light suddenly switches off, making me jump on my feet. The next instant, it’s flicked on again, and when the darkness is gone I find myself face to face with the maid, though she’s looking at me while upside-down. She grins playfully at me while pressing her hat to her head.

“Is that an order, master?” she asks.

“I guess it is...” I say lamely, rubbing the back of my neck with one hand. “...Anyway, what’s up? You looked a little upset back there.”

“Upset? Me?” she says, looking mock-shocked while she uprights herself, her feet gently touching down onto the floor. “Surely not, master. I’m the ever cheerful maid of this household. I can’t afford to be upset and ruin my image.”

...what image.

“...Then why did you go off to sulk?”

“Hm...” she pauses, cocking her head to one side with an insightful expression in her eyes. “...First, let me ask you a question, master.”

“Huh?”

“What’s the most popular suicide spot in this country?”

“Wha...?” I say, more than a little startled by the question. What the hell kind of a question is that to be asking someone? “Um... I dunno. A famous landmark... uh... at the top of Tokyo Tower, maybe? What are you asking me that for?”

“Suicide spots like that are famous – or rather, infamous – because a lot of people have chosen to throw their lives away there, right? Of course, because they’re famous for something like that, more people choose to commit suicide there,” she says with a completely cheerful face, contrasting rather creepily with the ghastly subject she’s talking about. “...But then, if they’re going to die, what does it matter where they choose to kill themselves? It’s funny, isn’t it?”

Um... not really.

“So then, why do so many people choose to kill themselves at the same spot?” she says, lifting a finger to her lips. “I have a theory on why. Would you like to listen to it, master?”

“Uh, sure...?”

Though this is making me feel a bit uncomfortable here.

“Birds of a feather flock together, master. Those people are drawn there,” she says, maintaining a cheerful smile on her lips even as she delves further into this talk of people killing themselves off. “Why...? Because that spot where so many people kill themselves becomes the center of emotions like despair and anguish.”

“Center of emotions...?”

“Right,” she says, nodding. “...And when those emotions gather, they pull more of those who share those emotions to them, attracting more and more of those who share those emotions to them. Do you understand, master...? This is how a place becomes a haunting ground for ghosts and phantoms.”

“Um... yeah, I understand a little, but what does that have to do with...”

“And when those people, carrying despair and a longing for the end in their hearts draws near to that place haunted by those of the same emotions,” Kana continues, abruptly cutting me off. “What do you think happens to them then?”

“...They jump.”

“100 points, master,” she says, snapping her fingers. She turns around, her hands folded together behind her back, and she continues to talk. “But maybe they weren’t going to jump after all? Maybe they were only contemplating those thoughts, but never intended to kill themselves at first. So then, what gave those people the little push they needed to do it? To jump off and take their own lives?”

“...Huh?”

“Maybe...” she says, pausing for a second or two before continuing on. “Maybe, as that person stood at the edge of the cliff, trying to decide on whether or not he really wanted to kill himself...”

She turns around, and shows me a slight grin, an unsettling look having come over her eyes. With an expression like she’s savoring every moment of this one-sided conversation, she continues to speak in her cheerful, playful voice.

“...maybe he was convinced to do it, surrounded by spirits of gloom and despair. Maybe he was even possessed. They took control of his body for just a moment, and by the time the man realized what was going on, his feet had already left the ground?”

She stops there, watching me. I keep silent, not knowing what to do or say. What... exactly is she trying to tell me with all that...? Spirits possessing people to get them to commit suicide...? What is she trying to do my telling me something like that? Is that... is that a warning or a threat or... what the hell is it?

“...Of course, it’s really just a theory of mine,” she says, giggling as her expression returns to its default playful appearance. “Maybe I even made the entire thing up from whole cloth?”

Not assured at all, I bite my lip. “...Kana. What that girl was talking about... what did she me—”

“I don’t know,” she says immediately, still smiling. “I just don’t know, master. What could she have been talking about? I have absolutely no idea at all.”

Not willing to let it go at that, I open my mouth to speak again, but once more the kitchen lights go out before I can even let out a single sound, cutting me off before I can even begin. I stand there in the dark, frustrated and aware that when I turn the lights back on, she won’t be there anymore. Why is she... trying to avoid that subject...?

...Well, like I said before, if she doesn’t want to talk about it, there’s literally no way for me to force her to do it, since I can’t even see her unless she wants me to.

[ ] Check on Elly and Ellen’s room next.
[ ] Go to Kotohime.
[ ] Get your money back from Yuuka.
>> No. 29393
Curse your depressed, gloomy heart, Kana. I want to give her a big hug and explain shit and try to cheer her up and reassure her that we aren't bringing home weird people for shits and giggles, or being unfaithful, or whatever it is she's worried about, and ask her what it is she wants.

There's also the possibility that that was a very roundabout way of her saying "you can't help but bring weird people here because this is a weird-people-hotspot, and I am aware of this" while at the same time sulking (because rational explanation or not, she still doesn't like that it happens) and being creepy about it (because Kana isn't Kana if it isn't delivered in an unsettling way), because she is efficient like that.

I want to believe that's true, but the fact that I just now made it up on the spot in order to explain away strange and upsetting behavior doesn't make me confident in this theory.



I still just want to give her a hug. ;_;


[x] Go to Kotohime.
>> No. 29395
[x] Check on Elly and Ellen’s room next.

I'm sorry Kana, we can't help but bring them here.
>> No. 29396
[x] Get your money back from Yuuka.
>> No. 29397
>>29396
Do you want to die?
>> No. 29398
[X] Check on Elly and Ellen’s room next.

These two should be able to fill us in on what happened while we were gone.
>> No. 29399
[X] Check on Elly and Ellen’s room next.

Well, that went well. Lets hope our next one is a little less cryptic.
>> No. 29400
[ø] Go to Kotohime.

This conversation reminded me of KnK 1st episode for some reason.
>> No. 29401
[X] Check on Elly and Ellen’s room next.
>> No. 29412
[X] Check on Elly and Ellen’s room next.

I want to check on how Elly's been since the last time we saw her.
>> No. 29415
I guess next up I should go check on how Elly’s doing. She seemed to be... well, not quite okay, but she seemed like she was getting better when I went to see her this morning at least, so by now she should have recovered at least a little, not that I’m claiming to be any sort of expert in youkai health or anything like that. But, just yesterday, it was like that one blow from that metal monster had shattered every bone in her body, but just the next day she’d regained consciousness. The vitality of a youkai’s body is pretty amazing...

I turn away from the kitchen, leaving it through the entryway. Heading toward the hallway leading to the various rooms of my home, I make my way to the door leading to the Ells’ room. Looking at the closed door, I make to reach out toward the handle before stopping myself. It’s probably not a good idea to enter without at least knocking when the consequences for not doing so might be painful, so I go ahead and do just that, rapping my knuckles against the door.

It takes just a moment before a high-pitched, immature voice answers in reply. “Come in!”

Now reaching for the handle, I turn the knob and push the door open, stepping inside while I do so. Inside the room, I see Ellen down on her knees on the floor, a dressed placed over her lap and a needle and a thread in her hands, with her faithful cat lying around lazily beside her. Off to the side, I see Elly still lying in her futon, the blanket covering all the way up to her neck.

“Hey,” I say as a light greeting, lifting a hand. “How are you feeling now?”

“Fine, I guess,” Elly replies, though a wince on her part makes me think otherwise. “You got back just now?”

“Yeah,” I say, taking a seat on the floor, resting an arm on my knee as I turn to look toward Ellen to question her. “And what are you working on?”

“I’m fixing up her clothes,” she says with a big smile, lifting up the hand holding the needle. “They got really messed up.”

“You’re such a hard worker, aren’t you...?”

Her hand skillfully works the needle, sewing up and mending the tears in it. The way she handles the sewing kit makes me think that she must be pretty used to doing things like this. Come to think of it, she was a fairly good cook, too. I wonder if she lives alone... even though she looks like a kid, she must be pretty independent to pick up household skills like this. Not like me, who can’t cook or clean or fix up clothes.

...well, now I’m depressed.

“You didn’t pick up anyone else while you were out there, did you?” Elly asks, drawing my attention to her. She’s sat up by this point, dressed in her pajamas.


“Huh? Uh... no,” I say, shaking my head. “Why?”

“I felt something freaky, like some kind of a strong presence close by until just now,” she says, scrunching up her face as if she’s feeling something unpleasant. “Made me break out in goosebumps.”

“Oh,” I say, shrugging my shoulders. She must be talking about Muse, then. Huh, I didn’t really feel anything from her, but I guess that’s just me. “We had a guest, but she’s gone now.”

“A guest? What’d she want?” she says, raising an eyebrow in interest.

“...Just to check the place out or something,” I say, rubbing the back of my head. “She didn’t really seem to know much else about our little situation here, so I don’t really think she’s involved in whatever the hell’s going on. At least, that’s what I’m thinking.”

“Huh,” Elly says, shrugging off the matter as well. “...Well, if that’s all, I guess it doesn’t really matter.”

“Yeah, don’t sweat it,” I say, trying to smile as a reassurance, though I don’t think I’m able to make it look genuine at all. “...I dropped by the daycare while I was out, told them you were out with a fever, so I don’t think you’ll get any flak when you go back. Got their number, too.”

“Number...” she says, frowning. “You said something about it this morning, too. What is it? A number to a safe or something?”

I reach into my pocket, withdrawing my cell phone. “Well, you know how telephones let people communicate over long distances, right?”

“Uh-huh,” Elly nods, starting intensely at the device in my hand. “Your maid told me that before.”

“Well, every telephone line has... unique combinations of numbers assigned to it, and you connect to those lines by dialing those numbers in here,” I explain, flipping my own phone toward her to show her the keypad. “See?”

“Oh, so that’s why there are numbers on them,” she says, looking fascinated. “...But that’s kind of inconvenient. You have to remember all these numbers just to talk to people?”

“Well, that’s why cell phones have contacts lists,” I say, stuffing my own cell back into my pocket. “You know, to store those numbers so you don’t have to memorize them.”

“Sounds like a hassle to me,” she says, looking unimpressed now. “If I wanted to speak to someone, I’d just go over and talk to them in person.”

“...I dunno about your world, but here you don’t always have the luxury of that.”

Of course, in a world as big and as busy as this sprawling city of Tokyo, it’s only natural that there would be more distance between people, whether it’s physical distance... or otherwise.

“Anyway, you seem to be doing okay.”

“What did you expect?” she says with a haughty grin. “I only got hurt that bad because I let my guard down, that’s all. And I hadn’t fought seriously in a long time. Back in my days that thing would have been toast in five seconds flat.”

“You look a bit too young to be saying a phrase like that.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she huffs.

Replying only with a grin, I turn to Ellen, reaching out and patting her head before pushing myself off of the floor, standing up and heading for the door. Gently closing it behind me, I walk out into the hallway. I guess next I should go and check up on Kotohime. I’ve been hesitant to see her, especially after what happened with her last night, but because of that, I can’t just ignore her presence here either, so—

The door to my room opens and from the doorway emerges a red haired woman, all dolled up in a Western-style school uniform. She’s wearing a hazy, almost goofily dreamy expression on her face, a stark contrast from the one she showed me the previous night. When she turns her head and sees me standing out in the hallway, her eyes light up with attention and immediately she makes a beeline for me with a bright smile.

“Oh, hello!” she greets energetically, clasping her fingers together in front of her. “Good morning!”

“...Good morning,” I say, in a bit of a daze. She... is she back to her quirky self? “Are you... um, are you feeling okay?”

“I feel fine,” she says, tilting a head to the side, and then tilting it to the other. “Probably. I think I feel fine, anyway. If I’m about seventy percent sure I’m fine, then I’m allowed to say ‘I’m fine.’ Isn’t that right?”

“Uh... I guess...?”

“Then I’m fine,” she says, nodding happily.

“You... do you remember anything about what happened yesterday?”

“Yesterday?” she says quizzically, blinking a few times and pausing for a short moment before she finally seems to register the question. Looking up toward the ceiling as she places a finger on her chin in thought, she seems to be trying to recollect what happened. “Um... we fought the boss in the subway, and, um... we got a Game Over?”

...I don’t know where she picked up the videogame lingo, but that more or less describes what happened back in that subway, I guess. She... doesn’t seem to recall what happened after that, though, and that disturbs me a little. But, given how she reacted to even seeing me, I think that might just be for the best after all.

“But more importantly,” Kotohime says, leaning forward with a serious look on her face. “I need you to come with me somewhere.”

“...Huh?” I say dumbly, startled out of my thoughts. “Uh, where?”

“I don’t know where,” she says, leaning back and placing a finger on her chin thoughtfully again. “But that’s why we have to look for it.”

“What are you looking for...?”

“The place where we have to go, of course,” she says. “We can’t go there if we don’t know where it is, right?”

...That helps.

She reaches out and grabs my wrist with both hands, beginning to tug at my arm to drag me along with her. “So come on, come on, let’s go look.”

“Wait, hold on,” I say, stopping her. “...Why are you dressed like that?”

“Oh, this?” she says, placing one hand over the sweater she’s wearing over the rest of the schoolgirl uniform. “It’s a clever disguise.”

“A disguise?”

“...You may be surprised, but, you see...” she pauses there, biting her lower lip as if to add dramatic tension to the air before making her declaration, “...I’m not actually a princess. I’m an officer of the law, using my undercover identity as a princess to fool criminals into believing I’m really just an ordinary person!”

“...a princess is an ordinary person?”

She promptly ignores my question, continuing on with a big smile on her face, “This time, I’m using the guise of just an ordinary schoolgirl. This completely ordinary disguise cannot possibly be any more ordinary, and thus, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Isn’t that right?”

...what an absurdly absurd statement.

“So, now that you know why I’m in this disguise,” she says, cheerfully returning to tugging on my arm to drag me along, “Let’s go, let’s go!”

“H-hey, if this is going to involve jumping off a building again, you can leave me out of it!”

“No building jumping will be involved. I’m about half-sure on that!”

...Well, do I go with her? It sounds like it’s going to be a waste of time, but hell, do I really have anything else to do?

[ ] Go with her.
[ ] Refuse.
>> No. 29416
[x] Refuse.
>> No. 29417
[x] Go with her.
She's being CONTROLLED.
>> No. 29418
[X] Go with her.

I have a soft spot for this crazy woman, and I can't help but think that this will be fun.

Though, putting that to one side for the moment, we should probably spend some time around her anyway. Learning more about her might help figure out just why she reacted so violently to us last night.
>> No. 29419
[X] Go with her.

Really... we'd just end up worrying otherwise.

We'll end up in horrible danger/embarrassment, but still...
>> No. 29423
[X] Go with her.

This Kotohime is completly crazy, and I love that.
"We have to go somewhere!"
"Where?"
"I don't know! That's why we have to go!"
"...Okay..."
>> No. 29425
[x] Go with her.
Nothing better to do, really.
>> No. 29428
[X] Go with her.
>> No. 29429
[ø] "Actually, I remember where we have to go now. We gotta find this Renko Usami"
>> No. 29432
>>29429
ON THAT NOTE:
...Did we ever tell anybody else who the victim this time was? Like, say, Elly? Who works at the daycare Renko goes to?

We really need to call everyone together for a little pow-wow sometime soon and make sure they know what the deal is, this time around, and all that. In fact, organizing some kind of attempt at a plan would be a really really good move. Because, let's face it: The Kurosawa thing turned into a complete and utter clusterfuck.
>> No. 29435
[X] "Actually, I remember where we have to go now. We gotta find this Renko Usami."

Let's give this excursion a purpose.
>> No. 29437
[derp] "Actually, I remember where we have to go now. We gotta find this Renko Usami."
This might help.
>> No. 29438
>>29429
rail jumping much? I think we have enough time to do this little side trip without derailing it, and thus ruining Kotohime's purpose for the trip.
>> No. 29439
[X] Go with her.
>> No. 29440
>>29432

Oh, right, because the MC and everyone else obviously know who the fuck Renko is, right?
>> No. 29441
Yeah that is a problem.
>> No. 29442
How much time do we have left until Renko gets killed anyway?
>> No. 29444
[x] Go with her.
>> No. 29449
>>29442
More than enough for a sidetrip with Kotohime, Me thinks.
>> No. 29450
>>29449
Yeah since it's only 1-2 days since the disastrous mission. Kurumi and Elly seem to be recovering fine, not sure about Kotohime.
>> No. 29451
I just took a look myself. It's currently the 10th, and Renko'll be killed on the 12th at 5:30 P.M.

We have time, but we really should get on finding her. Maybe call a meeting after Kotohime drags us to the local police station or wherever she ends up going.
>> No. 29456
File 128504905012.jpg - (96.07KB , 600x811 , 1635342.jpg ) [iqdb]
29456
Rolling my eyes, I resign myself to my fate, letting my arm go limp in her grip, devoid of any resistance as this crazy woman tugs me along with great gusto. She’s even humming a song which I can’t put any particular tune to as she heads toward the front door. Letting go of my arm, she practically throws the door open, stepping out into the sunlight that greets her with an equally bright smile. Turning around to me, she leans forward while holding the door open with one arm.

“Let us go!” she invites me.

Sighing in defeat, I stuff my hands into my pockets after putting on my shoes again, stepping out of the door together with Kotohime, who lets the door slam shut behind us. Excitedly, the woman begins climbing down the stairs, daintily holding her arms up to balance herself as she rushes down the grated steps.

“Hey, don’t run on the stairs or you’ll fall,” I call out after her with some concern.

Far from adhering to my warning, she even turns around in the middle of stepping down a step to look at me, replying to me with a wide grin on her face as she folds her hands together, “Oh, but I’ve got to hurry!”

Immediately turning around, she continues to run down the stairs, touching down onto the concrete ground below with a cutesy little bunny hop before turning around and waiting for me at the bottom of the staircase. I take my time in climbing down, as I’m in no real hurry to take a stumble and crack my head open all over the asphalt. Once I’ve caught up to her, she begins to almost giddily skip toward the opening leading out into the streets.

Seeing her being so joyful is pretty unnerving considering what happened just last night, but at the same time, it’s almost contagious. I can’t help but smile as I quicken my pace to keep up with her, remarking, “You seem happy today.”

“Mhmm!” she nods fiercely. “Today seems like a very happy day, doesn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t know about that.”

“Oh, but today is a very special day,” she says, wagging her finger as though she’s bragging about knowing something that I don’t. “A very auspicious day indeed.”

“Really?”

“Yes!” she says, clapping her hands together. “It’s the first day of school! For an ordinary student such as myself, it is a very important day.”

“...I don’t think any schools start in November.”

“Oh?” she tilts her head curiously. “Really? But there must be some school that starts today, right? The probability may be low, but the possibility still exists! So, you see, I’m not wrong when I say it’s the first day of school.”

“...Whatever, I’m not even going to argue with that,” I say, shaking my head in resignation. “Where did you even get that uniform in the first place?”

“Is it a problem?” she asks innocuously, looking suddenly concerned. “Is it not okay for me to be wearing this?”

“Huh?” I raise an eyebrow in confusion, looking at her with a slightly slack-jawed mouth. “Uh... no, it’s not a problem or anything, but where did you get it is what I’m asking here.”

She claps her hands together a little weakly now, slowly fidgeting the upper half of her body to one side and then to the other worriedly. “Oh, I see, it must be a problem, then. I apologize, but I thought that it would be okay to wear this as a disguise...”

My mouth opens a bit wider now, my confusion getting to that point where I just don’t care anymore. Shaking my head and sighing, I raise my hands in defeat. “...I’m telling you, it’s not a problem, but, ugh, I’m not even going to ask.”

Why can’t I ever get a straight answer out of this girl for once?

“So it’s okay, then?” she asks, instantly cheering up.

“Yeah, yeah, sure...” I say carelessly, frowning and looking to the sky.

Well, whatever makes her happy. I guess.

“So, what are we looking for?” I ask her, not really expecting any sort of meaningful answer, but figuring it would at least be worth a try.

“Hmm....” she contemplates the question, thoughtfully placing a hand at her mouth. “...I would like to look for beauty.”

“Beauty?”

“Yes,” she nods, grinning widely again. “Beauty.”

“And where do you think you’ll be finding beauty?”

“Everywhere,” she says, spinning around with her arms stretched out at her sides. “The world is full of many beautiful things everywhere you look. Each of them holds a quality that cannot be described by words, and the feelings that they impart on one who looks at them can only be written as ‘beauty.’ Doesn’t that sound wonderful?”

“...I don’t get it,” I say, shaking my head.

“Well, it’s okay if you don’t,” she says with a giggle. “Ah, but you know, as a high school student, I think the beautiful thing that I wish to find is to bump into a handsome male student while on my way to the first day of school.”

“With a piece of toast in your mouth, right?”

“Isn’t it romantic?” she says, tilting her head to the side as she dreamily looks off to the sky, “A chance meeting between a boy and a girl on a special, fateful day... one beautiful thing leading to something even more wonderful in the future.”

“Sounds pretty clichéd,” I immediately say without mercy.

“It’s a cliché because it’s well-liked.”

“So, you’re looking for love?”

“Not really,” she says.

...then what was the point of all that?

“I think the beauty is in the concept.”

Which really just puts us back at square one.

“...So, what are we looking for?” I ask again.

“Hmm...” she says, taking on that exact same pose as before again as she once more thinks hard about the question. “...I wonder if it would be too much to ask to go to the place where you can see the entire city.”

She's probably talking about the highest point in Tokyo, then, which is pretty obviously...

“...Are you serious?” I ask her, somewhat annoyed.

“Is it not okay?”

[ ] ...No way, you don’t have time for this.
[ ] Time for a tour.
>> No. 29458
[x] Time for a tour.
Giving us a chance to back out? This must be important.
>> No. 29461
[x] Time for a tour.

We certainly can't leave her alone. Who knows, this might uncover some insight.
>> No. 29462
[x] Time for a tour.
Either random Renko encounter or she is dead.
>> No. 29463
[x] No, you don't have time for this.

Besides, the spot where you can see the entire city is on top of a skyscraper, and it's already occupied by a white-haired guy in red and an irritated-looking twintails girl. Or maybe by a single-night-long vampire.


Jerks got the best spot ahead of us.
>> No. 29464
>>29463
What's up with Nasu and high places anyway?
[x] We don't have time for etc.
-[x] Tell her that there's much more beauty in saving a life, and that's what you should be trying to do now.
>> No. 29465
[x] Time for a tour.

hmm
>> No. 29466
[x] We don't have time for etc.
-[x] Tell her that there's much more beauty in saving a life, and that's what you should be trying to do now.

I like this one.
>> No. 29467
I think you guys are jumping the gun and trying to get ahead of the writer; we still have plenty of time.
>> No. 29468
[X] Time for a tour.
-[X] Pay attention to our surroundings for anything or anyone of note.

We do have time to take this detour, yes, but we only have two days left, at most.
>> No. 29469
[X] Time for a tour.

We're heading for Tokyo Tower. We better prepare for rapid plot advancement, and the destruction of the entire building. Maybe a coincidental giant monster attack.
>> No. 29470
[X] Time for a tour.
>> No. 29471
>>29463
Don't forget an empty killer cutting up some ghosts.

I just started reading this again, and am sorry I ever stopped. Thank you, Lion.
>> No. 29472
>>29471
When can we summon our Di-Sword and fight the deranged nihilist attempting to create a utopia? We've already met enough crazy girls and sinister corporations. And with Kotohime around, delusions are just a moment of physical contact away!
>> No. 29473
[x] Time for a tour.

You'll reenact dialogue from an episode of ARIA then get pushed off the top of the Tokyo Tower. The mystery is whether it'll be Kana's fault, Kotohime's, or your own.

Good stuff.

I like this story a lot.
>> No. 29474
Letting out an aggravated sigh as I turn away, furiously rubbing the back of my neck. It goes against my better judgment and my own desires, but I guess I can take her where she wants. After all... she really saved my life yesterday, and it was my fault that she got hurt and went through... whatever the hell she went through last night. The least I can do to show my gratitude is to let her do what she wants, I suppose. You know, so long as it isn’t dangerous or something, which this might turn out to be considering my prior experience with this girl involving a high building...

...well, that’s probably enough bitching about that. If I’m going to do this, I might as well try to enjoy it, or at least look like I am, anyway, for her sake. I’m still not really in the mood to be having fun at all, but that might just be what I need anyway. Taking a deep breath to force on a smile as I turn back to the girl, I raise a hand, giving her a thumb up.

“Okay, we’ll go,” I say, trying to sound as bright and cheery as I can, although even to myself it sounds forced and overdone. “...You want to go to that tower in the distance, right?”

“Oh, that tower!” she says, clapping her hands together. “It looks really, really tall! It’d be a great place to look at the city from. Good thinking!”

...Though I’d think that’d be the most obvious choice.

Looking in the direction of that tower in the far-off background of the city, I heave a sigh as I consider the distance between us and it. It’s the afternoon, so we wouldn’t want to be flying on a cloud in broad daylight over to there, and walking is out of the question, so to get there, we’d have to take the bus, or a cab, or a subway, all of which is going to cost me some money. I’m not lazy enough to toss out a lot of money to call for a taxi, but I’m also too lazy to bother with public buses, so I guess we’ll be going on the subway.

While I’m busy thinking all this over, Kotohime’s occupying herself by looking every which way, looking absolutely fascinated by pretty much everything around her. She smiles as she watches every passing car in the roads roll by her, and even appears interested in the busy crowd of people around her, which is really drawing some uncomfortable attention to the two of us. That uniform was a really bad idea for a disguise...

“...Is the scenery all that interesting?” I ask, half-sarcastic, half-curious.

“Yes!” she replies with a cheerful smile. “I think it’s fun to imagine where all these people are going, and what they’re going to do. “

“That doesn’t sound fun to me at all,” I say, frowning. “There’re too many people around to think about all that stuff. What’s the point, anyway? They’re all strangers, anyway.”

“It doesn’t have to have a point,” she says, undeterred in her absolute optimism. “Besides, everyone starts out strangers, don’t they?”

I scoff. “So, what, you want to be friends with all these people?”

“It would be wonderful if I could,” she says dreamily, slowly leaning to one side. “I think it’s a bit sad that there are so many people here that don’t know each other and never will.”

“No thanks,” I say, shaking my head. “I like my privacy. I don’t really like the idea of everyone knowing who I am and what I’m like. That’s why people’s worlds are separate from one another, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

...It’s not as if that’s possible in the first place. It’s impossible to be able to understand and relate to everyone you meet. Not without going through what they’ve gone through. And even if two people share the same experience, they’re likely to react differently to it, based on their personalities and principles and what not. That’s what individuality is, and I prefer it that way.

I don’t expect to ever be able to understand the thought process of anyone but myself, and I’m perfectly content with that.

“...You might be right,” Kotohime says, a bit more reasonably than I would expect from her. Her smile softens a bit, becoming more serene than cheerful as she parts her lips, barely moving them as she begins to speak again, “But I don’t know. I think it would be a wonderful thing for someone to be able to look beyond just their own world, and to be able to look into and understand the world of others. I wonder if that would be too much to expect from a person.”

Rubbing the back of my neck, I frown as I look away from the girl, letting out a sigh. Not really having any answers to give her, I jam my hands back into my pockets as I continue to walk down the street while the girl follows alongside me, her expression much more demure now than it was a moment ago, when she was all fired up about the excursion. Oh, c’mon, don’t tell me she’s feeling a little down from that...

“So? What’re you going to do once you’re on top of the tower?” I ask.

“Hm?” she says, blinking for a bit. “What tower?”

“...You said you wanted to go to the place where you can see the whole city, didn’t you?”

“Oh!” she exclaims with a look of surprise, her fingers held above her mouth as if her hand is literally trying to contain her shock. “That’s right, I did want to go there, didn’t I? Or... maybe I didn’t...? How very, very mysterious.”

Scowling again, I reach out and bump the top of her head with my knuckles lightly. “Do you want to go or not?”

“Oh, yes, I’ll go!” she says hastily, reaching up to rub the spot on where I tapped her. “I believe I’d be able to witness a very beautiful scene from up there.”

“You sure care about the weirdest things,” I say, letting out a sigh.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure~” she says in a sing-song voice.

As I walk in the direction of the nearest subway station, I withdraw my wallet from my pocket, opening it to take a look inside. Though I had to split my funds with my freeloaders, I’ve still got a comfortable about of cash leftover, enough to last me a month (or at least until my next paycheck), so the travel fees won’t be a problem.

“Ah!”

While I’m busy checking on my budget, it seems something’s caught the interest of the girl beside me, and before I can even start to put my wallet back in my pocket and start paying attention to her, she excitedly runs ahead of me, making a beeline for somewhere across the street.

“Whoa, hey, where’re you going!?” I call out after her.

I go after her as she runs onto the crosswalk, running around a crowd of people also crossing the street. So as not to lose her in the enormous sea of people, I jog after her. Up ahead, I see her running into a building. Lifting my gaze, I look at the sign, which is shaped like a cartoonish rabbit for some godforsaken reason. She’s gone into a café? Wondering what she could have possibly seen to pique her interest, I follow her inside.

Oh. This is one of those places, isn’t it?

Kotohime stands at the entrance of the café, her hands pressed together in front of her as she looks around at the interior of the building with a very excitable expression. She turns to me when she hear me come in behind her, and immediately leans forward.

“Can we eat lunch here?” she asks, her eyes practically shining now.

“...Are you hungry?” I ask her, not out of curiosity, but because... “Or do you just want to pet the rabbits?”

“Both!”

This is a rabbit café, a place where those forbidden to keep pets in their cramped apartments go to just pet and cuddle with these small, furry little critters for hours at a time. Oh, and eat some food, I guess. Honestly, I’ve never liked small animals much, so I don’t really get the appeal of these places. But, well, it seems mostly popular with children and teenage girls, and I hear they’re packed with business during the weekend, so whatever works to bring in the money, I guess.

[ ] No detours.
[ ] Ahh, hell, let her have fun.
>> No. 29475
[x] No detours.
Sorry Kotohime, this isn't on the tour plan.
And now I'm just downright curious about the tower. We've been given the option to opt out of it three times now. Maybe it means nothing, or maybe its actually important.
>> No. 29477
[x] No detours.
>> No. 29478
[x] Ahh, hell, let her have fun.
bunnies.
>> No. 29479
[x] No detours.
'Tis PC-98 and Seihou town, so there will be no bunny-related tomfoolery.
>> No. 29480
[x] Ahh, hell, let her have fun.
>> No. 29482
[x] Ahh, hell, let her have fun.
>> No. 29484
>...It’s not as if that’s possible in the first place. It’s impossible to be able to understand and relate to everyone you meet. Not without going through what they’ve gone through. And even if two people share the same experience, they’re likely to react differently to it, based on their personalities and principles and what not. That’s what individuality is, and I prefer it that way.
>I don’t expect to ever be able to understand the thought process of anyone but myself, and I’m perfectly content with that.
...Now this, together with the fact that he apparently has some kind of receptive empathy power, seems like a very interesting contrast indeed.

Totally sure that's just coincidental, though.

Also,
[x] Ahh, hell, let her have fun.

She is the rabbit princess, after all.
>> No. 29488
>>29484
I thought the same thing. If that power doesn't open his mind, nothing will.

[x] Ahh, hell, let her have fun.
>> No. 29495
[B] No detours.
>> No. 29496
“...Ah, geez. Fine, fine, we’ll have lunch here before we go to Tokyo Tower or... wherever the hell it is you want to go,” I say in defeat, letting out a sigh. I’m not particularly hungry at all, but I guess I can spare a bit more time. “We’re not staying here long, though, okay?”

“I understand!” Kotohime says with a single, vigorous nod, looking overjoyed.

She rushes on ahead, stepping up to the reception. I saunter on after her at a leisurely pace, my hands once again finding their way into the pockets of my jeans. The woman working the register greets us with the usual stuff, and we walk on past the desk and into the main part of the café.

Looking for a free table, I scan the place out. It looks like there isn’t a separate room for the rabbits, so even as people eat, they’re accompanied by the little critters. I’m a bit worried about the hygiene of this place, keeping these bunnies around in the eating area, but then again, it’s not like the people that come here to eat are really coming for the food, so I guess that wouldn’t be much of a concern for most people.

“I’ll go ahead a grab a table for us,” I say to Kotohime, who is naturally excitedly looking around, probably searching for a poor, bothered rabbit to harass. “You... go do what you like.”

“Mmhm,” she nods, going off toward one of the various cages set around the room to confine them.

I watch her for a bit as she leans over the caging, reaching inside. Turning away, I make for a small, two-seat table nearby a window, pulling up one of the chairs to sit down. Resting my elbows on the surface of the table, I take the menu propped up at its center, opening it up to take a peek inside. It’s pretty much the standard stuff you’d expect at a café: nothing really fancy for meals and a variety of beverages and coffee.

“Here!”

I turn my head upon hearing Kotohime’s voice, coming from just next to me. My vision is then immediately filled with the sight of a snow white hare being held up right in front of my face which almost sends me falling back in my chair. “Gah, what the hell...?”

“Cute, isn’t it?” she says, pulling the rabbit back to cradle it in her arms like it’s a newborn child. She smiles innocently like a child as she pets the thing’s head, playing with the fur behind its ears.

“Don’t just shove it into people’s faces just because of that...” I say, straightening out the positioning of the chair.

“But it’s really cute!” she says, almost stubbornly as she shoves the rabbit at me again. “Look, give it a little pat.”

With a bit of a grumble, I reach out awkwardly at the rabbit being held in her hands. Its pink nose twitches constantly as it looks around, sniffing at the air. It seems interested in my finger as my hand hovers over its head, pointing its nose in that direction. Finally, I let my hand fall to give it a pat on the head, but...

“Ow!”

I quickly pull back my hand, looking down at my index finger to see a reddening tooth mark on the side of it.

Outraged, I say, “It bit me!”

“Don’t be silly,” Kotohime says, unconcerned at my pain as she pulls back the rabbit again, hugging it close to her. “Rabbits don’t bite.”

“What’s this, then?” I say, showing her the mark on my finger.

“That...?” she says, tilting her head as she looks at it with a fixed gaze. Finally, after a few moments, she smiles wide like she’s figured it out and says, “Why, that’s a coincidence, of course. It was really a ghost that bit you the moment you tried to touch the rabbit.”

“What? Ghosts don’t exi—” I stop myself, nearly biting my tongue in the process. “I mean, of course it wasn’t a ghost.”

“But how can you say that for sure? Have you ever been bitten by a ghost?”

“It’s not something you have to experience to know. It was that damn rabbit,” I say, shaking my head. “It’s just common sense.”

“Common sense...?” she says, almost whispering the word to herself. Her lips move, and she mouths the word again and again, silently, before speaking up again, “...What’s common sense, I wonder?”

I stare at her for a moment before carefully asking, “Do you really not know, or is this supposed to be some kind of a philosophical question?”

She giggles, smiling mysteriously. “Maybe, maybe not.”

“...Just sit down,” I say, tired of this fruitless exchange.

Kotohime frees one hand to pull back the chair opposite mine, taking a seat in it and placing the bunny on top of her lap. While she plays with the rabbit, I order food and drinks for the both of us. Nothing heavy, since I’m not very hungry to begin with and Kotohime doesn’t seem interested in the food much; well, not that there was much on the menu to begin with.

Waiting for the food to arrive, I watch the girl in front of me. She’s got a somehow serene look about her as she strokes the rabbit’s fur, gently and very carefully, despite her earlier handling of it. The rabbit, which I can’t tell if it’s enjoying the attention it’s getting or not, just sort of wanders around in her lap, its nose busy sniffing just about everything around it. Well, seeing her like this, being calm and quiet, it’s quite different from her usual odd and overenthusiastic behavior. Like this, she’s... well, a bit more befitting her name, I guess...?

“Grow nice and big and fat,” she says in a soothing voice.

“They don’t serve them here,” I say in a dry voice.

“Really?” she says, turning to look at me with shock written on her face. “They don’t?”

... did you come here to pet rabbits, or to eat them?

...

After finishing up our little detour, we step out into the sun once more. Taking the lead, I look in the direction of the Tokyo Tower, looking a bit despairingly at just how far-off it looks in the distance. I really don’t want to have to go... but I did tell her I would take her there, so it’s not like I can back out of it now. Turning to Kotohime, I rub the back of my neck awkwardly before motioning for her to follow.

“...well, come on, let’s try to get there before the sun sets,” I say to her.

She doesn’t move from the entrance, however, but looks at me, seeming a bit surprised. Staying silent for a bit, she begins to walk forward, and then shakes her head, smiling. “...No. It’s okay. We don’t need to go there.”

“...Huh?”

“We don’t need to go,” she says again, still smiling.

“Why’d you change your mind all of a sudden?”

“That is...” she hesitates, her smile faltering just a little before it renews itself. “...I’ve come to think that maybe beauty that can be appreciated by many people is more splendid than something only appreciated by a single person.”

“...Is that a roundabout way of saying that you were being selfish?”

She giggles. “Perhaps, perhaps not.”

Her playful grin is replaced by that rarely seen expression of calm, instead. Folding her hands on top of her lap, she gives you a polite bow, before looking up to give you a very peaceful smile. “...Thank you. I had a very wonderful time today.”

“Y-yeah,” I say, my face growing a bit hot, flustered. “...Alright then, let’s go home.”

------

Back in my room now, I throw myself on top of the bed, staring up at the ceiling. It’s late afternoon now. Well, what’s the next step...?

[ ] Check the computer.
[ ] Examine Kurosawa’s handgun.
[ ] Let’s do a little post-mission review.
>> No. 29497
[x] Examine Kurosawa’s handgun.
those are all interesting options. But maybe getting a weapon and not being useless would be good for the future.
>> No. 29498
>>29497
>Implying a gun would do much good against whatever you're up against.

Now if it was something out of the dark tower... then it might be useful. But it might be more than meets the eye.

[x] Check the computer.
>> No. 29499
[X] Check the computer.

This will do
>> No. 29500
[x] Let’s do a little post-mission review.
Internal monologue, or are we talking to everyone about this? If its the former, I would rather this count as the the gun option.
>> No. 29501
[X] Let’s do a little post-mission review.
>> No. 29502
[x] Check the computer.

You still have a job, you almost-NEET. You'll better keep it, so FIX THIS GODAMNED STUFF!
>> No. 29503
[X] Examine Kurosawa’s handgun.

Firearms.
>> No. 29509
[x] Check the computer.
Was that her loyalty mission?
>> No. 29510
[x] Let’s do a little post-mission review.
>> No. 29513
[X] Check the computer.
>> No. 29514
Letting out a sigh, I sit up in my bed, one knee raised as I look over to the inactive computer monitor sitting on top of my desk. Well, it might not be a bad idea to check a few things on it, like whether the mail I’ve received on my cell phone is the same as the one that was probably sent to my regular e-mail address, or if that certain hacker’s tried to contact me. Yeah, actually, that’s probably a great idea.

So, lifting myself up from the mattress, I stumble on over to my desk chair, sinking into it and tossing my head back, giving my neck a few cracks before wheeling the seat around so I’m facing the monitor. Reaching out for the keyboard, I hit the spacebar to get the screen out of hibernation, taking a hold of the mouse at the same time.

When the display manages to flicker out of the black screen it had been displaying up until now, I’m immediately greeted with the familiar dark window with white words etched across it. Putting that aside for now, since I probably won’t get an immediate reply back even if I typed out a response ASAP, I navigate the cursor over to my internet browser, clicking on my bookmarked mail inbox.

...Sure enough, there’s a new message from S sitting in there. Clicking on it, I discover to no real great surprise that the content is exactly the same as the content of the e-mail I received on my mysteriously reactivated cell phone, which sort of leads me to think that there’s a link between the force that worked its magic on the cell and this angel. I’m probably right there, but since it’s convenient and it doesn’t seem to have really done anything bad so far, I guess I’ll let it be, although I’m still cautious about it.

Maybe it’s working as some kind of a spying/tracking device? That could be a possibility, but there’s no real way to know. Worst case scenario, the phone’s been modified into some kind of a small bomb that can kill us all at a moment’s notice, but that’s likely just me being paranoid or something.

Putting my focus back on the private instant messaging program A’s whipped up to communicate with me, I take a moment to read the message the hacker’s sent me:

A.> I read the news report on the death that occurred last night.
A.> A 29-year old male body discovered on the tracks of one of Tokyo’s subways identified as Kurosawa Takeshi.
A.> It looks like you couldn’t do anything this time around.

Frowning, I reach out to the keyboard to type my response.

>Sorry.

It takes a bit of time for a reply to come back.

A.> You don’t have to apologize. It’s not like we could do anything either.
A.> Instead, could you tell me the details of exactly what happened last night?
>Weren’t you around?
A.> No. It looks like we were excluded that time.
>Excluded?
A.> Yes. I never detected any change yesterday.
A.> We might have just been out of range, actually. Meira was probably searching some other part of the city when the shift happened, and I was in my home all day.
>You mean, you weren’t close by enough?
A.> Yes.
A.> I had previously thought that the size of the faux-dimension to be that of the entire city, but that might have been a bit of an overestimation on my part.
A.> It could be that only small bits of the city are replicated at a time.
>Right.
>Anyway, here’s what happened...

...

A.> That’s strange. So, you were not only assaulted by a pair of demons, but also by Kurosawa Takeshi himself as well as an unidentified monster?
>Yeah, that was messed up as all hell.
A.> Seriously.
A.> And it doesn’t even fit with the pattern we’ve been seeing so far...
>Really? How?
A.> All of the other attacks were left to be classified as [murders]. In this one, however, it was left to be classified as a [suicide] instead.
>I’m not sure if that’s important.
A.> I’m almost certain it is. All of the other corpses were left in gruesome conditions, probably to ensure that it would be ruled as a murder. But in this case, that wasn’t so.
>Isn’t that because the monster they sent was different? Maybe it was just being efficient.
A.> Well, that’s possible, but in this case, the mark was different as well.
A.> The other victims were presumably defenseless, including you.
A.> But this one... this one wasn’t defenseless at all.
>No. No, he really wasn’t.
A.> So, in this case, neither the victim nor the method fits with the established M.O.
A.> This might be a long shot, but it’s possible that either someone else sent you that mail under the guise of S, or S himself had a different motive for that particular mark.
>...Ugh, it seems like the more we figure out, the more questions pop up.
A.> Keep vigilant.
A.> Oh, and one last thing
A.> You should probably stay wary of Kaktus.
A.> They’re probably involved in this somehow, given this Kurosawa’s supposed relation to the company, which is really the only thing notable about him, aside from his transformation.
A.> and those two things are probably linked anyway.
A.> The chairman’s rise to power... that’s pretty suspect, too.

Cactus company, huh...? Ugh, it’s only getting more complicated if they really are involved in something here.

It would be a bit nice if I could figure out what any of the factions taking part in this... whatever is happening here are up to. The angel wants to... make a new world or something, and somehow killing off some people is going to accomplish that. The twins are... well, it just seems like they’re fucking around, but they might be with S. Cactus is maybe looming around being ominous and shit. Meanwhile I’m just trying to stay alive and maybe keep a few other people alive too and find out what the hell is going on here.

But in any case, A seems pretty knowledgeable about some things, even if it’s not really much help right now, as she doesn’t seem to know much more about the situation than I do. Still, I could glean some stuff from her that I wouldn’t be able to from the other castaways from that mythical land or whatever, since she seems to know and comprehend a lot more about the outside world than the others. This might be a good chance to find some things out.

[ ] Ask more about the Cactus company’s chairman.
[ ] Didn’t Kurumi mention some kind of a time discrepancy between her and Yuuka/Elly?
[ ] Does she know anything about those demon twins?
[ ] Tell her about your cell phone.
[ ] Write-in.
>> No. 29515
[x] Didn’t Kurumi mention some kind of a time discrepancy between her and Yuuka/Elly?
[x] Tell her about your cell phone.
[x] Ask more about the Cactus company’s chairman.
>> No. 29516
>[ ] Ask more about the Cactus company’s chairman.

What, you mean Erich?
>> No. 29517
[x] Didn’t Kurumi mention some kind of a time discrepancy between her and Yuuka/Elly?
[x] Tell her about your cell phone.
[x] Ask more about the Cactus company’s chairman.

Seems good, more infos are needed.
>> No. 29527
[x] Ask more about the Cactus company’s chairman.
[x] Didn’t Kurumi mention some kind of a time discrepancy between her and Yuuka/Elly?
[x] Does she know anything about those demon twins?
[x] Tell her about your cell phone.

Wall me.
>> No. 29528
[x] Didn’t Kurumi mention some kind of a time discrepancy between her and Yuuka/Elly?
[x] Tell her about your cell phone.
>> No. 29529
[x] Didn’t Kurumi mention some kind of a time discrepancy between her and Yuuka/Elly?
[x] Tell her about your cell phone.
[x] Ask more about the Cactus company’s chairman.
>> No. 29531
Although it’s not a hundred percent chance that they’re related to this matter at all, I decide it’s best to find out all I can about Cactus. I’m not sure how much it will help, but anything’s better than nothing at all, right? Preparation is something we really didn’t have much of last time, and that went to hell really fast, so, this time, I’ve got to prepare as much as I can. To start off with, I’ll ask about the leader of this group...

>What can you tell me about the chairman?

There’s a slight pause before the responses start coming.

A.> Yohan F. Ehrlich, born on October 11, 1975.
A.> Doesn’t come from any real notable background. Lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood in Berlin until he graduated from a fairly mediocre university.
A.> To be concise, he was really nothing special until about ten years ago. Just the kind of guy you’d expect to see working a steady desk job later in life.
>Yeah, but then he founded the Cactus group, right?
A.> Right.
A.> There were no real details available, but from what it looks like to me, he seemingly acquired the funds and the means to set up his own business out of the blue, and since then it’s become the most successful of its kind in the last decade.
A.> You hear about “rags-to-riches” stories all the time, but this really does seem a bit suspicious, doesn’t it?
>I guess so.
A.> He’s not very forthcoming with details of his personal affairs, either, so all I know is what’s already been made public knowledge.
A.> I don’t know what kind of a person he is, or what he might be after, considering what he’s already achieved...
A.> But it might be worth some merit to keep him in mind.
>Probably, yeah.

As I sit back in my chair, taking a moment to crack my neck, I cross my arms and let out a sigh. So, it looks like she doesn’t know too much about this Ehrlich guy, either. Still, I guess anyone would be suspicious of a guy who’s as successful as he is. There’re probably a bunch of rumors flying around about him, amongst his employees as well as his business associates. Humans are spiteful creatures sometimes. Well, although in this case, if he really is connected to all this and that freaking mechanical behemoth, I’d be pretty well-inclined to think he’s up to no good...

While kicking back, I remember another detail that I had been curious about: I don’t remember the conversation all that well, since I was in a pretty harried state of mind at the time, but wasn’t there some kind of a discrepancy in time between Kurumi and Elly/Yuuka? Um... like, she was around here for a month already when the other girls had arrived in this world for about a week or so. Getting back to the keyboard, I type out my question.

>By the way, how long has it been since you were thrown over to this side?
A.> Three months.

My eyes widen in surprise.

>Three months? Are you sure?
A.> Yes.
A.> It’s been about that long.
A.> And I suppose the length of time the others have spent here differ, correct?
>It seems like it.
A.> I’m not surprised.
A.> I have a theory on what caused those differences, but I’ll have to save that for when I’m able to speak to you all directly.
A.> Which should be soon, hopefully.
>Okay
>Just making sure one last time
>You came here three months ago?
A.> Yes, along with Meira and Kotohime.
>You know Kotohime?
A.> She’s been with us for the last three months.
A.> Actually, she still comes by whenever she needs a change of clothes.
A.> Didn’t she tell you?
A.> No, wait, never mind.
A.> Of course she didn’t tell you.

I let out a sigh, slapping a hand to my forehead. I could ask her why she never told me, but she’d probably just say that I never asked, or that it didn’t seem important at the time, or some other kind of a vague non-answer. And I didn’t even need to take her in after all... Well, at least I know where she got that school uniform from now, and it didn’t just magically appear out of nowhere.

A.> She’s
A.> Well
A.> I’ve known her since she was a child.
A.> She’s a delicate girl.
A.> Please take good care of her.
>What do you mean by that?
A.> Sorry. I don’t think I’m the best person to tell you.
A.> Just
A.> don’t be too harsh on her.

...what the hell, why won’t she tell me? Could this be related to that freak out she had last night...? Ugh, fine, if she’s clamping up her mouth on that matter, I guess I’ll just have to move on to another one that’s been worrying me for a while.

>Right, I’ll take note of that.
>Anyway, there’s something else I want an advice on...

I explain the circumstances involving the cell phone to her.

>What should I do?
A.> Throw it away.
>I tried. It came back.
A.> Smash it to pieces.
>I’m afraid it might try to smash ME to pieces if I do that.
A.> Well, if you can’t get rid of it, then don’t carry it around.
A.> It might be bugged or something.
A.> Used to spy on you.
A.> Other than that, I can’t really say much about it if I can’t get my hands on personally.
A.> It’s probably being powered by magic.
A.> But magic alone can’t do something like connect a cell phone without service to a telephone line. Whoever’s behind it has to have a good head for machines, too.
>You mean like S?
A.> Yes, it does seem like something he’d do.
A.> Anyway, that’s all I can really offer up about it at this point.
A.> It’s not much, I know, but it’s all I have at the moment.
>No, that’s okay. It’s not like either of us really know much about what’s going on.
>It’d be nice if that would change soon.
A.> Well
A.> Let’s just do our best.
A.> You’ve received the new e-mail, correct?
>Yeah. Usami Renko, two days from now.
A.> I won’t be getting my hopes up, but I’ll be sure to contact you if I find anything on her.
>Same here.
A.> Terminating program.

Swiveling around in my seat, away from the computer screen, I switch off the monitor. I stand up from the chair, taking an uneasy step forward. A dizzy spell washes over me, and I find myself groaning as I shake my head. The dizziness passes almost as quickly as it came, however, so it’s probably not a big deal anyway. Anyway, from a glance at the display clock on my desktop, it’s getting pretty close to dinner time now, so there are still some things that I can do...

[ ] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
[ ] Examine Kurosawa’s handgun.
[ ] Visit Elly in her room.
>> No. 29532
>I stand up from the chair, taking an uneasy step forward. A dizzy spell washes over me, and I find myself groaning as I shake my head. The dizziness passes almost as quickly as it came, however, so it’s probably not a big deal anyway.

Either something is brewing, or he's got residual damage from the earlier trauma (the chair smash or the battle, or maybe both) that needs checking out.

-[x] First, visit Elly in her room prior to meeting-calling. As the only other person who gets out much (that you know of), she's one of the most important people to have there, and you'll be shooting yourself in the foot if she can't attend.
-[x] Unless you trust the information to be carried back to her by Kurumi and Ellen.
[x] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?

[x] After Dinner: Examine Chekhov's Kurosawa’s handgun.


...This all assumes Elly is still bed-ridden.
>> No. 29533
[x] Visit Elly in her room.

Let's check on her, that and perhaps ask her to look out for ANYONE by that name, regardless of age.
>> No. 29534
[E] Visit Elly in her room.
-[R] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[M] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
>> No. 29535
[x] Visit Elly in her room.
>> No. 29536
[E] Visit Elly in her room.
-[R] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[M] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
>> No. 29537
[E] Visit Elly in her room.
-[R] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[M] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?

Works for me~!
>> No. 29539
[x] Examine Kurosawa’s handgun.
>pretty close to dinner time now
The meeting and serious discussion can just wait till then.
>> No. 29540
[X] Visit Elly in her room.
-[X] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[X] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?

We've postponed it long enough.

I assume the meeting is basically an update/reminder about what's happening tomorrow, since Elly's the only one who would reasonably know a Renko.
>> No. 29545
[X] Visit Elly in her room.
-[X] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[X] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?

't's'not a bad idea. Let's ask to everyone. We don't know Renko's age now, right?
And there's no chance that MC notices by himself.
>> No. 29546
[X] Visit Elly in her room.
-[X] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[X] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
>> No. 29555
[X] Visit Elly in her room.
-[X] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[X] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
>> No. 29557
[X] Visit Elly in her room.
-[X] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[X] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
>> No. 29558
>>29516
Called it~

[X] Visit Elly in her room.
-[X] Ask if she's met a Renko Usami.
[X] Go out into the living room. Time to call for a meeting?
>> No. 29564
...Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to check on Elly one more time, although it’s pretty certain that her life isn’t in danger or anything already. Walking over to the door, I turn the knob, tugging the door open and letting it swing shut behind me as I walk into the hallway. Turning to the right, I walk to the room Elly’s staying in, knocking a few times on the door before letting myself in. As I head inside, I see Elly sitting up in her bedding. It seems she’s the only one inside for now.

“Hey,” I greet her, taking a seat next to her bedroll. “How are you doing.”

“I was fine the last time you came in and I’m still fine now,” she says, sounding a bit annoyed in her tone. “Honestly, you don’t need to worry so much over me. I’m not as weak as a human. What, is it because you like me or something? Grooooss.”

“Can you at least stand now?” I ask, ignoring her petty attempt at hostility.

“Probably,” she says.

Kicking the rest of her blanket off of her legs, she pushes her hands against the floor, lifting herself up from the ground. She seems to have a little difficulty in doing so, and it’s clear from the sudden small jerks of her body that she’s pained quite a bit, but she takes it all with grit teeth, managing to stand up and even striking a little triumphant pose with her arms outstretched to the sides.

“See?” she says with a labored expression, one eye squeezed shut while her cheeks twitch, wincing in pain. “So... you don’t have to... give me any pity, you got that?”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” I say, sighing. “Alright, I won’t ask about your health anymore.”

She collapses onto the mattress, pretty much falling on her butt. “...Whew.”

...That’s really pretty much all I came in here for: to make sure she was alright, you know, for like the third time in the day. I should probably get out before she gets too annoyed with my presence here. My mind set on exiting the room, I begin to turn around to get up and head for the door, when—

“When’s the next date on that mail thing, anyway?” Elly asks.

“Eh?”I turn back around immediately, caught off-guard by the question. Oh, that’s probably a good thing to tell her, isn’t it? No, wait, it’s probably a good thing to tell everyone. Digging into my pocket for my cell phone, I look at the screen. It’s the tenth of November now... “Um, let’s see. The next one will be... the day after tomorrow, at 5:30 in the afternoon.”

“Huh, that’s good,” she says, nodding. “I’ll be able to fight again by then. So, you got any idea who’s the next unlucky sap?”

“No clue,” I say, frowning as I look at the name listed in the message. “I really don’t know how I’m going to find them. ‘Usami Renko,’ huh...?”

“Usami?” Elly says, raising an eyebrow.

...What’s with that reaction?

“What?” I ask her, my heart beginning to pound in anticipation and excitement. “Do you recognize the name?”

“Um...” she frowns, furrowing her brows in concentration. “It sounds a little familiar... What was it... Usagi? Usamimi? I’m sure I’ve definitely heard that name somewhere before.”

I feel the blood running through my body freeze over, my heard pounding even faster now.

She recognizes the name.

Biting my lower lip, I try to calm myself down, and to try to think this over logically.

Suppose that the Usami she knows is the same as the one that’s been targeted by the mail. Given that all of the victims were citizens of this world, it’s unlikely that Usami Renko is a denizen of the other world. Then, that means Elly must have met her somewhere here, thus it must have happened recently. Going along this line of reasoning, then the place where it’s most likely that she encountered this Usami is...

“The daycare,” I blurt out. “Is there an Usami Renko at the daycare you work at?”

“Usami... Usami...” she recites to herself. “...Well, no one working there is na—Ahh!”

She suddenly stops, her expression frozen for a second. Hurriedly she turns to you. “Oh yeah, now I remember! There’s a real creepy kid there, and I remember being kind of freaked out because all she does is just stare at the other kids all the time. I think that’s her!”

Right, right. Creepy little kid at the daycare... so then, that was a girl? Bah, androgynous little bastards, those toddlers.

My mouth curls to one side in a fierce grin. There are more questions to be answered, like whether that so-called “Savior” is really intending to kill a little kid like her, or why she’s being targeted to begin with, but I couldn’t care less about that at the moment, in my excitement.

We’ve found her.



------

Immediately after figuring that out, I go to leave a message for A, giving her the name and address of the daycare Elly works at, as well as the identity of the victim. She doesn’t seem to be there to give back a response, but that’s okay. I decide to wait until after dinner’s served before calling for a meeting; that’s about when everyone gathers in the same room, so that’s the best time to bring up the topic. In the meantime, while I wait, I try to think of everything that I want to talk about when that time comes.

Like I said before, this time, we’re going to be a lot better prepared than we were going into the chaotic mess that was yesterday.

When I hear the call for dinner, I walk into the kitchen. I note that while all the food and the table utensils have been set at the table already, the one who set them up isn’t anywhere to be seen. I frown, biting my lower lip. I don’t know if she’s still upset over what happened earlier, or if she’s just trying to avoid me so I can’t bring up the topic from today’s morning, but it frustrates me a little. Nevertheless, I take my usual seat at the table, taking up my chopsticks.

The meal is a quiet, peaceful affair. It’s probably really the only time in the day that this ragtag bunch of mythical, supernatural creatures and oddballs can get together all at once, and though you’d expect the level of weirdness to be critically high in this situation, it’s surprisingly subdued and civil. There’s not much small-talk to be had amongst the girls, although Kurumi seems to be fighting over a plate with Elly.

I finish my meal relatively quickly, waiting until the others have set aside their plates before clearing my throat to get their attention. ”Ahem.”

Everyone’s heads turn to me. Well, except for Yuuka, who never seems much interested in anything I say, anyway. But, usually, she’s at least always half-listening, so it doesn’t bother me much even when she seems much more fixated to the television screen than me.

“We will now begin the post-mission review,” I say in a deep voice, trying to come off as a commander the best I can. “In this review, we will determine what went right, what went wrong, and what we can do to do better next time.”

“Is that really necessary?” Kurumi says, looking somewhat doubtful.

“Of course. The military uses it, you know.”

“Okay, let’s start with what went right, then,” Elly says, crossing her arms together.

I raise my finger, ready to rattle off what did go right yesterday, but...

“...Nothing,” I say.

Elly only frowns.

“Um, but didn’t we beat that spider thing?” Kotohime pops in.

“Oh, right,” I say, reminded of the monstrous form Kurosawa took when we confronted him. “...Well, after he... turned into that thing, he seemed to change back after you... kind of blew him up, so I guess people who turn into that thing will go back to normal once you beat them up enough?”

“...and the things that went wrong?” Elly says.

“Well, first of all,” I scowl. This list is a lot more substantial than the last one. “Those twin sisters attacked us out of nowhere. What was their problem?”

“Maybe they’re with the angel.”

“Yeah, maybe. But with them getting in the way, Yuuka couldn’t come with us. And then, next, Kurosawa changed into a monster, even though we were trying to save him, and then there was that... whatever the hell it was that came after him.”

“Oooh....” Kurumi groans. “That thing was scary...”

“No kidding,” I say, shaking my head as I imagine the blank that is its face, the glowing red eye swiveling and turning. “What the hell was that thing?”

“So, what do you suggest we do to eliminate the problems,” Yuuka asks, finally turning her head this way while brushing her hair out of her eyes. “We have a pair of troublemakers dividing our strength, the victims themselves going berserk and attacking us, and a killer of substantial power. What do we do if we’re under those same conditions next time as well?”

...Ugh, it really does sound stacked against us, doesn’t it?

For the twins...

[ ] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
[ ] Leave Yuuka to deal with them. Time is of the essence!

And for the victim...

[ ] ...that little girl probably wouldn’t turn into a monster, too, would she? Rule that out and worry about other things.
[ ] It’s definitely possible that the same thing might happen. Make sure everyone is prepared for that.

As for the hunter/killer...

[ ] Form some kind of a battle plan...?
[ ] Maybe it won't come around this time? Pray for a miracle.
>> No. 29565
[x] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
[x] It’s definitely possible that the same thing might happen. Make sure everyone is prepared for that.
[x] Form some kind of a battle plan...?
Way too many unknowns to form anything concrete. But since we know who Renko is, we can at least plan. First of all, assuming the twins come to fuck around, we should just gang up on them, and crush them quickly.
We can't rule out the possibility that Renko won't turn into some sort of freak, though its highly unlikely, so everyone should be ready for that. Since we got some downtime to chill before we have to rescue her, we should also examine our gun, so we can at least make a pretense of being useful when we have to go command our touhous into battle.
>> No. 29566
[x] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
[x] It’s definitely possible that the same thing might happen. Make sure everyone is prepared for that.
-[x] Ask Elly if she can take a photo of her when she recovers and returns to work, so everyone can know what she looks like; if she can't, you can do it yourself.
[x] Form some kind of a battle plan...?
-[x] By appearance, it seems to be mechanical, it can't fly, and it ignores 'non-threats' like you. If you have the victim, you'll control where the battle is fault, so you may be able to lead it into a trap or disadvantageous terrain: A high-voltage transformer substation, a factory that utilizes heavy, automated machinery, leading it in front of a moving train, or up to an elevated, open area like the top of the Tokyo Tower.
-[x] You have other potential allies to bring to bear, including that Muse figure and Meira.
-[x] You have a contact in the police department. Even an 'anonymous' tip may be cause to put the victim into protective custody.

>For the twins...

The only advantages you have over the twins from last time is 1) you know they're hostile and 2) you have a relatively good idea where they are. You need to utilize these two differences if you're to expect any different kind of outcome.

The idea is defeat in detail. You can catch one of them alone since they seem to work different shifts/jobs. Now if you can goad them into causing a public disturbance (instead of in the empty world) then you might get the police to deal with them for you, even if you have to trump up false charges (you do have allies in the precinct). At the least you'd be able to ruin their undercover livelihood. You might be able to in this way threaten or blackmail them into staying out of your way, and confrontation in a fighting restricted area may yield information, at the very least on their motives.

>And for the victim...

You just witnessed a little girl wielding untold magical power; you can't afford to delude yourself. You shouldn't immediately attack her, but you should be prepared. If that hunter-killer comes after her, reducing the 'monster' back into a little girl as quickly as possible for extraction might just save her life.

>As for the hunter/killer...

I'm assuming this was looking for a write-in or at least an idea; otherwise it's kind of a no-brainer.
>> No. 29567
I doubt it's likely that she'd turn into a monster; not as if she's involved with that company like he was, though I suspect his role was "test subject"
>> No. 29568
>“Oh yeah, now I remember! There’s a real creepy kid there, and I remember being kind of freaked out because all she does is just stare at the other kids all the time. I think that’s her!”
You got me. I was always searching for an adult and not a child. What an error in my thought.

[x] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
[x] It’s definitely possible that the same thing might happen. Make sure everyone is prepared for that.
-[x] Ask Elly if she can take a photo of her when she recovers and returns to work, so everyone can know what she looks like.
[x] Form some kind of a battle plan...?
-[x] By appearance, it seems to be mechanical, it can't fly, and it ignores 'non-threats' like you. If you have the victim, you'll control where the battle is fault, so you may be able to lead it into a trap or disadvantageous terrain: A high-voltage transformer substation, a factory that utilizes heavy, automated machinery, leading it in front of a moving train, or up to an elevated, open area like the top of the Tokyo Tower.
-[x] You have other potential allies to bring to bear, including that Muse figure and Meira.

First, some stranger coming to take a photo of a child comes off strange, one way or the other.
Second, i don't want to involve the police. They are just human and could easily die when it comes down to it.
>> No. 29569
[x] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
Annoying brats.
[x] ...that little girl probably wouldn’t turn into a monster, too, would she? Rule that out and worry about other things.
She, as a kid, is sinless so she won't turn into anything. Now seriously, infants are used as controls in tests, so...
[x] Battle plan
-[x] By appearance, it seems to be mechanical, it can't fly, and it ignores 'non-threats' like you. If you have the victim, you'll control where the battle is fault, so you may be able to lead it into a trap or disadvantageous terrain: A high-voltage transformer substation, a factory that utilizes heavy, automated machinery, leading it in front of a moving train, or up to an elevated, open area like the top of the Tokyo Tower.
--[x] You have other potential allies to bring to bear, including that Muse figure and Meira.
Heh, lol'd at the battle plan.
>> No. 29571
[x] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
[x] ...that little girl probably wouldn’t turn into a monster, too, would she? Rule that out and worry about other things.
[x] Battle plan
-[x] By appearance, it seems to be mechanical, it can't fly, and it ignores 'non-threats' like you. If you have the victim, you'll control where the battle is fought, so you may be able to lead it into a trap or disadvantageous terrain: A high-voltage transformer substation, a factory that utilizes heavy, automated machinery, leading it in front of a moving train, or up to an elevated, open area like the top of the Tokyo Tower.
--[x] You have other potential allies to bring to bear, including that Muse figure and Meira.

I bet Renko will be sick that day and stay at home and mess up our plans.
Well, it seems like a solid plan barring something like that happening, though.
>> No. 29572
[x] Focus on defeating them first, so they aren’t in the way later.
[x] It’s definitely possible that the same thing might happen. Make sure everyone is prepared for that.
-[x] Ask Elly if she can take a photo of her when she recovers and returns to work, so everyone can know what she looks like; if she can't, you can do it yourself.
[x] Form some kind of a battle plan...?
-[x] By appearance, it seems to be mechanical, it can't fly, and it ignores 'non-threats' like you. If you have the victim, you'll control where the battle is fault, so you may be able to lead it into a trap or disadvantageous terrain: A high-voltage transformer substation, a factory that utilizes heavy, automated machinery, leading it in front of a moving train, or up to an elevated, open area like the top of the Tokyo Tower.
-[x] You have other potential allies to bring to bear, including that Muse figure and Meira.
-[x] You have a contact in the police department. Even an 'anonymous' tip may be cause to put the victim into protective custody.

That's a pretty good plan. As long as you can outrun the Terminator while carrying Renko, everything's all right.
Otherwise... "NICE BOAT".

What happen if Renko dies? Time paradox?
>> No. 29573
>What happen if Renko dies? Time paradox?

A whole lot of despair.
>> No. 29574
File 128650560195.jpg - (80.94KB , 1000x665 , e70f70281ce9e4f8e109ed6733391d49.jpg ) [iqdb]
29574
>What happen if Renko dies?
Not on my shift.
>> No. 29579
Thats a nice pic.
>> No. 29580
>What happen if Renko dies? Time paradox?

Maribel never becomes Yukari and Gensokyo never comes to be, so this entire story never happened. NEET end.
>> No. 29581
>>29580

But...Gensokyo already happened.
>> No. 29582
>>29581
Nope, since only PC-98 characters are here. Gensokyo isn't mentionned in PC-98 games (well, that's what I guess. The Sun Garden, Makai, etc... but not Gensokyo).
>> No. 29583
>>29582
that could be just a oversight of ZUN's.
>> No. 29584
>>29583
Maybe... with ZUN, you can't be sure.
>> No. 29585
Gensokyo is the creation of ZUN and Team Shanghai Alice. The PC-98 games were created when he was still a part of the Amusement Makers. Though the setting of these games is assumed to be Gensokyo, I don't think they explicitly refer to it as such and instead just call it 'the human world'.
>> No. 29586
>>29585
Well, except maybe Lotus Land story, but that's more just the title of the game than anything having to do with the setting.
>> No. 29587
>>29586
Which means that Renko is stil needed to create "Gensokyo", but her death won't cause a Time Paradox, since Gensokyo doesn't exist yet, and... Damn, I have an headache.
>> No. 29588
“Well, um...” I trail off, taking a moment to consider everything I want to say. Thoughtfully stroking my chin as I scowl and furrow my brows in concentration, I try to go over everything I’ve said in order to carefully organize every point that needs to be made.

Okay, first things first...

“...If those twin sisters do show up again, we can’t afford to divide up our numbers like we were forced to last time. We need to get past them as quickly as possible, even if it means ganging up on them and crushing them ASAP.”

“You make it sound so easy,” Elly says with a frown.

“Is that really a good idea, I wonder?” Yuuka says callously, making a show of checking her nails like she always does when she wants to express her disdain of me. “I don’t think it really is. You should just leave me to deal with them.”

I frown, biting my lip. “...Look, I understand if you want to settle a score with them or something, but this isn’t—”

“It’s not because of something like that,” she cuts me off, a glare accompanying her words. “...But, it would be quite inconvenient if the person you were trying to save ended up getting killed while we were occupied with fighting those two, wouldn’t it?”

“W-well,” I say, slightly taken back. “That’s why... we need to beat them as quickly as possible, right? If all of you fight them at once...”

“They aren’t normal youkai,” Yuuka cuts me off again, folding her arms together. “They aren’t even like any of the demons I’ve killed in Makai.”

She pauses for a moment before parting her lips to speak again.

“No matter what I did, they wouldn’t stay dead. I crushed their bones, ran them through, smashed in their heads, ripped their limbs off, cut them apart like hunks of meat, and even completely, utterly vaporized their bodies at one point, but none of it would stick. That’s why I was having such a hard time against them. Honestly, the nerve of some people, not staying dead when they’re killed.”

Wha... are they immortal or something?

“T-then, even if we try to beat them outright...”

“You probably wouldn’t be able to find a way,” Yuuka says coolly. “...At least, not before the human you’re trying to save is already dead.”

Tch... so it’s a no-win situation. Either we somehow manage to beat them only to end up failing to protect the girl, or we leave our strongest muscle behind and risk not being able to fight effectively against the monster that’s coming to kill the kid. Damn, if only they weren’t in the way. I wonder if it’s possible to ensure that they won’t be able to interfere? After all, I know where one of them works...

But... what really is up with those two? When I met the elder sister earlier today, she didn’t seem to know at all what I was talking about. It’s possible she was lying to me so as not to blow her cover, but... somehow, it didn’t really seem like she was. In her reaction to my accusation, I saw not only indignant anger, but also what seemed like genuine surprise and contempt for how ridiculous the things I said were.

Could it be possible that maybe Mikazuki and her sister aren’t related to the twin demons we saw?

...No, the resemblance is totally exact. There’s no way that’s a coincidence, so there has to be a connection... Maybe they’re something like alter-egos? Maybe the “demons” are split personalities of those girls or something crazy like that? Maybe they’re even quadruplets! I honestly don’t know, and I can’t think of a reasonable explanation for this... whatever we have on our hands here on the fly. Especially since everything that’s been happening to me thus far has been well out of the boundaries of reason.

...I know one thing, though. I definitely don’t want to involve them in any sort of trouble in the real world if I can. Not only because... it just feels wrong to try it when they really don’t seem to know anything, but also because here, we’re bound by the laws of human civilization. It’d be much too troublesome to try to do anything to them while still playing by the rules of our society.

I probably shouldn’t mention either of them to Yuuka. She’d... well, she might try to go after them if I do, and if it really does turn out that they’re actually normal people, then, well...

“...Then let’s forget that for now,” I say, moving on to the next point. “Anyway. It’s possible what happened last time with the victim might repeat itself, so we need to be careful when we approach the targets, and be ready to take them down as quickly as possible.”

“Um, how would we do that?” Kurumi asks. “How will we know if they’re going to turn into a monster?”

“...Well, about that, I already have a bit of a theory. I don’t know how much of it just his paranoia, but Kurosawa was... Well, he seemed—and felt—really unstable to me somehow,” I say, trying to recall how it felt to know his emotions. “It was like... something was amplifying his fear and other emotions, sort of making them swell up until they went out of control and he went berserk.”

“Oh,” Elly says, pointing at me. “So then, you’ll warn us if the same thing starts to happen.”

I nod.

“Yeah. I’m not certain that’s how it’ll be next time, but we have to take every precaution, right? Anyway. Lastly, if that monster from yesterday shows up next time...”

“Can we really win?” Kurumi wonders, looking doubtful. “That thing was really strong. Really fast, too.”

“Yeah,” Elly says, clutching a rib in pain. “I didn’t think they’d send anything as strong as that after us.”

“Well, about that,” I say, frowning. “It had strong legs for jumping high up, but I don’t think it could really fly.”

“Oh!” Kurumi says, clapping her hands together. “So that’s one area we’ve got it beat in.”

“Yeah. So, this time, we have to make sure we’re in an area with an open ceiling, and not a narrow, confined place like that subway station. No matter how fast and strong it is, it won’t mean a thing if it can’t even reach us, right? Considering the weapon on its arm, it seemed to be built for close-range combat, so I don’t think it could shoot lasers at us or anything.”

“So,” Yuuka says, looking to me. “Snipe it from a higher position?”

“I was thinking more like leading it into disadvantageous terrain, but that works better, I guess. And we have other people that might help us, like that Muse girl—”

“I wouldn’t expect any help from that girl,” Yuuka says immediately.

“Huh? Why not?”

“She’s just not the type of person who would perform altruistic acts for others,” she says, brushing her hair out of her eyes again. “...Haven’t you noticed? Her first and foremost concern is herself.”

“W-well, I guess so,” I say, slightly taken aback. “...But anyway, that samurai woman we met before might be able to help us out, too.”

“I hope we can do this,” Kurumi says, still not looking very confident, though she does seem a little less afraid. “...Um, so then, how are we going to find the person that’s gonna get attacked?”

“We’ve already found her,” I say with a proud grin, exchanging looks with Elly.

Yuuka raises an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Yeah,” I nod. “It’s a girl that goes to the daycare Elly’s working at.”

“Seems you were a little more successful this time.”

“It was just luck, I guess. Anyway, just to make sure, how often does that girl come around to the daycare?”

“I think she comes almost every day during the weekdays,” Elly says, looking fairly certain in her statement. “...Yeah, she’s at the daycare pretty much all the time except on weekends. I’m sure she’s said that to me before.”

“All the time, huh...? Her parents must be busy... Anyway, she’s going to be attacked at 5:30 in the afternoon, the day after tomorrow. She’ll be at the daycare then, and it’ll be suspicious if we’re in a large group, so we’ll split up in pairs and wait around the perimeters of the building, so we can respond as quickly as possible when the shift happens.”

“Um, it’s a child this time?” Kurumi asks, looking uncomfortable. “How horrible...”

“...About that,” I turn to Ellen, who’s been quietly listening in to this conversation, looking somewhat lost for almost the entire duration, though I guess I can’t blame her for that. “...When we get the kid, can you use your magic to put her to sleep?”

“Fueh...?” she blinks, confused. “Um... that would be easy, but why?”

“Well, she’s just a little kid, so I was just thinking...” I say as I scratch at the back of my head, “...that, you know, she shouldn’t really have to see those monsters fighting with us. I mean, I don’t want to subject her to a mental trauma at that age, you know?”

“Understood,” she says with a nod.

“Well, aren’t you thoughtful?” Yuuka says with a sneer.

“Oh,” Kotohime suddenly raises her voice. “This is so exciting! We’re going to be heroes of justice, aren’t we? What kind of costume I should wear...? Hm, I wonder if just a police uniform would do...?”

“Why do you need a costume?” I ask to humor her.

“Because I can’t get into the role unless I’m dressed for it,” she says, smiling wide. “It’s the clothes that make the woman, right?”

“Do whatever you want,” I say, shrugging. “...Okay, I think we’ve discussed just about everything. Dismissed.”

---

I shut the front door behind me, reaching behind myself to lock it as I step inside, a plastic bag hanging from my wrist. I shiver a little from the cold air still clinging to my skin as I toss off my shoes, reaching into the bag and withdrawing a pack of cigarettes, which I tuck into my pocket as I head into the kitchen. Opening the fridge door, I shove in the half-a-dozen pack of cans inside, balling up the now empty bag and tossing it into the trash can as I shut the fridge again.

Everyone else’s retired to their rooms already, so it’s a bit eerily quiet in this almost pitch-black hallway leading to the rooms. Making my way to the door leading to my own room, I pushed it open and head inside, flicking the light switch on.

Looking over to the bed, I see that Kotohime’s already taken up the bed, her long red locks in a mess about her head, with the yellow ribbon usually holding her hair in a ponytail lying on the floor next to the bed. She wasn’t in here the last time I was around, so she must have sleepwalked here while I was out at the convenience store. Again. Hell of a sleepwalker, this girl.

[ ] ...Well, whatever.
[ ] Kick her out of the room.
[ ] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29589
[x] Sleep on the couch.
Poor guy. He can't even sleep in his own bed.
>> No. 29590
[x] Kick her out of the room.

Her wackiness is only so endearing. Can't we grab a free/cheap futon off craigslist or something? (There are regional craigslist listings for Japan, but they're no good if he doesn't know English, though. Is there a japanese equivalent of that site?)
>> No. 29592
[x] ...Well, whatever.
This might be a bad choice, but it might also be entertaining.
>> No. 29593
[x]>>29589

Let's not give Kana another reason to be jealous.
>> No. 29594
[x] ...Well, whatever.
Learn to share. It's not like this will end up in sex. She probably has her own problems too and just doesn't want to be alone.
>> No. 29595
[x] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29596
[x] ...Well, whatever.
Above: Entertainment
>> No. 29597
[x] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29598
[x] Sleep on the couch.

Damn sleepwalkers.
>> No. 29599
>>29593

Agreed.

[x] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29600
[z] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29601
[x] Sleep on the couch.
Oh damnit.
>> No. 29602
[x] Sleep on the couch.
Intuition tells me she will freak out if we wake her up. Besides, thats just a dick move
>> No. 29603
[x] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29604
I swear, each time Kotohime says something, it's facepalm time for me.
"We have to go!"
"Where?"
"Idon't know! That's why we have to go!"
FACEPALM.

[x] Kick her.
>> No. 29605
>>29604
You monster.
>> No. 29607
>“Well, aren’t you thoughtful?” Yuuka says with a sneer.

She saw right through that.

[x] Sleep on the couch.
>> No. 29609
[X] Sleep on the couch.

change of scenery never hurts
>> No. 29610
[ ] ...Well, whatever.
>> No. 29611
[ ] ...Well, whatever.
Ehh Nana can trust us.
>> No. 29612
File 128695080662.jpg - (64.48KB , 510x303 , white-feather.jpg ) [iqdb]
29612
Though I’m annoyed that she seems to have invaded my room without my permission yet again, I can’t seem to find it in myself to really hold a grudge against her for it. I guess it’s not a big deal to just sleep on the sofa again. I heave a sigh, rubbing the back of my neck as I watch the girl sleep, her chest peacefully heaving up and down steadily as she breathes, a light snore coming from her.

Making my way over to the girl and looking down at her face, I resist the urge to pinch her cheek. She fidgets slightly in her sleep, shifting her body to get a little more comfortable. Honestly, she looks so vulnerable right now, although I suppose she’s not exactly on-guard when she’s awake, either. What’s going on in that crazy little head of hers? That’s something I certainly can’t understand at all.

Thinking on it now, I find myself wondering about this girl a little more. That... outburst last night, the little mental breakdown she had, or whatever the hell it was. What was that? Did the injury to her head trigger some kind of... a personality change, or something? Maybe the little jolt to the brain ended up causing some kind of temporary insanity? No, wait, I suppose in this case it might be temporary sanity...

...Well, whatever it was, it’s making me feel a bit worried about this girl. She looked so scared, so panicked, even as she tried to attack me. It was nothing like the bubbly and quirky way she always acts. Not to mention that thing her apparent childhood acquaintance said about her. That she was a delicate girl, and that I shouldn’t treat her harshly. What... exactly did A. mean by that? And why won’t she tell me...?

Scowling, I shake my head and turn away from the girl. Well, if the problem ever comes up again, I suppose I’ll deal with it then. And if it never does crop up, then that’s just as well. I’m not some kind of a therapist or a humanitarian; I’m not going to actively seek out a way to help anyone I meet. Like I said before, I’m fine with not understanding people. It’s too much of a hassle to even try, and all it accomplishes is stress your brain out.

Walking back to the door, I glance back at the bed as my hand hovers over the light switch. Before I shut off the lights and head out of the door, I part my lips and whisper, “...Good night.”

---

(http://tindeck.com/listen/zfmu)

I tried to reach for the sky.

I lifted my hand up. Raising my arm above me, I tried to reach as far as I can. But the tips of my finger just would not touch the sky, no matter how far I reached. The joints of my fingers creaked and cracked, threatening to dislocate themselves if my fingertips rose even a millimeter further.

However, still, I could not reach for the sky.

”...help me...”

I wonder why it is that I wanted so badly to touch the sky.

I think I left something very important to me there.

Something very precious.

Something that could never be replaced, no matter how hard I tried to.

What was it, I wonder?

Slowly, I lower my hand, and look down at it. There, resting gently on my palm, I see a single white feather. It shimmers in the dark, giving off its own light, shining in the darkness that surrounds it. Even though it is only a single feather, I find myself mesmerized by its simple beauty.

Is this what I was looking for...?

No.

But looking at this feather, I feel, somehow, that I am closer now to what I’ve been trying to reach.

...That’s right. I remember now.

I have my own set of wings.

The wings I built to fly me into the sky.

So, standing on the tips of my toes and reaching up to the sky once more

I unfold the black wings at my back, and take off into the air.

---

November 11, Wednesday

Arc: Twins / Dream

---

Thump!

I roll off the couch and hit the floor face-first, the impact jolting me awake and scaring off any morning grogginess I might have had lingering about had I awakened normally. In exchange, however, it leaves behind a pain that almost makes me yelp out, though I manage to restrain myself as I rub my poor, reddened nose, having taken the brunt of the fall.

Sitting up, I find my limbs tangled in the same blanket I found by me yesterday morning. Freeing myself from it, in a bad mood, I kick it away from me, lifting myself off the floor to settle down in the couch again while scratching my head. Damn, what a way to start the day. Did I dream of falling from a skyscraper or something? Even now, when I close my eyes, I seem to remember the feeling of sailing through the air, though probably not in a way I would have wanted.

...I dunno if it’s just because I slept on a cramped couch, or because I slept in an uncomfortable position, or if I’ve just been pushing myself over the last few days, but my body doesn’t feel well today. My shoulders feel like they’ve got some heavy burden on them, and my joints are protesting mildly against me whenever I move. This is definitely not a good start to a day at all.

Oh well, lately, I’ve been going outside a little too much. Maybe today I should just relax a little and take it easy. No unnecessary trips outside. Just lounging around being lazy like I’ve been doing for the last few years. It may have felt monotonous and devoid of life during that time period, but it would be quite welcoming given how hectic the last two weeks have been for me, with all of this crazy shit happening to me almost out of the blue.

I stifle a yawn, having come to a decision. Lying back down on the couch, I grab the heaped blanket on the floor and toss it over myself, clenching my eyes shut. Yeah, I think today, I’ll just sleep all day...

...

Whump!

Ugh...

“Wake up. Breakfast is ready.”

Once again, I find myself having to peel my face off the floor. In a dazed stupor, I look about me with sluggish motions of the head, finding a pair of feminine legs clad in pants at my eyelevel. Slowly looking up, I see Yuuka standing over me with her arms crossed together sternly, though her expression suggests she’s more amused. Completely out of it, I can’t tell if I’d simply fallen off the couch again on my own, or if I was shoved off.

“You look terrible today,” the woman says to me, before shrugging her shoulders and turning away to walk to the dining table.

By the time I’ve recovered enough to make my way to my seat, everyone has gathered. I mumble a good morning to them, taking into my hand my chopsticks. Having just woken up, I don’t really have much of an appetite, but I force the bits of egg into my mouth anyway, knowing that by the time I do have one, it’d probably be already time for a lunch snack anyway.

“Yikes, you don’t look well,” Elly comments, looking at me with a somewhat horrified face.

“And you’re looking great,” you throw back at her in a tired, scratchy voice. “...Must be nice to be a youkai, recovering from mortal injuries in just two days’ rest.”

“It’s not all sunshine and daisies,” she throws back, stuffing her mouth with her food. “...Anyway, I’m going back to work today. I’m going to ask that Renko kid some things before we do anything. Don’t follow me, you got that?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say, not really minding what she says much.

After everyone’s finished with breakfast, Elly leaves for her work, and I see her off at the front gate. Heading back into the living room, I sink down on the couch next to Yuuka, who’s sipping from a cup filled with coffee. Letting out a groan, I lean back on the headrest, staring up at the ceiling. Yup, this is definitely an “off” day for me, alright. I don’t really feel much motivation to do anything right now...

“Are you feeling alright today, Leader?” the woman with the teacup calls out to me, turning to glance at me with that smile/sneer.

“...the hell is that?” I say, feeling like I’m being mocked.

“You’re the leader, aren’t you? In this little war game we’ve gone and gotten involved in.”

“This isn’t a game,” I say, annoyed and cranky. “It might seem like a game to you, but it’s not.”

“Well, if the leader says so, then that must be true,” she says, her sneer showing through the smile and becoming more obvious. “Fine. This isn’t a game, then. But, wouldn’t it be more interesting to think of it as a game?”

“Playing with peoples’ lives shouldn’t be a game at all,” I say, shaking my head.

“Oh?” she widens her smile, sipping from her cup. “Why not? People use game pieces to play games all the time, don’t they? If people can use game pieces however they wish in a game, then what’s wrong with someone else using people to play a game?”

“People aren’t game pieces, that’s what,” I say, getting more and more aggravated, despite knowing that that’s precisely what she’s after.

“What separates a person from a mere game piece, then?” she asks.

“Well, a person is alive, for one thing. They can think, and they can feel.”

“So, for you, the state of living and free will gives value to something?” she asks, closing one eye in thought. She lifts her cup to her lips again, taking a small sip before continuing. “...But, those are only things that you hold in high esteem. To someone who couldn’t care less about them, to whom such things have absolutely no value, there is no difference between a person and a game piece. Between a someone and a something.”

“What are you trying to say?” I say, raising an eyebrow. “That you don’t care about people?”

“Goodness, did I say that?” she says, feigning surprise. “I was only explaining how someone could see people as mere objects.”

“...Whatever, I don’t need a lecture from you,” I say, turning away from her to mind my own business.

“Mm,” she merely nods, looking satisfied as she looks back to the lit television screen.

“Hey, mister,” Kurumi says out of nowhere, popping up from the side of the sofa and damn near giving me a heart attack in the process. Crouched on the floor, with only her head popping up above the armrest, she waits until I’ve recovered to start speaking, “I’ve been kind of wondering, but what’s in the box here?”

“Huh? A box...?” I repeat, leaning forward. Oh, she must be referring to the cardboard box stashed in the corner. Getting up from the sofa, I walk on over to it, looking down at it as the vampire girl follows behind me. Squatting down, I open up the box, looking inside. “...Man, how nostalgic.”

Inside, I see my old, old video game console and a small library of games for it. I brought them with me when I moved out, not because I still played them, but because I just couldn’t bear to sell them or to throw them out. They’re all still functional, as far as I know. Actually, this gives me a bit of an idea. So, Yuuka wants to play a game, does she...? Well, maybe she should give actual games a try.

[ ] ...Hm, nah. This is a bad idea.
[ ] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29613
>[] Follow Elly.

[x] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29614
Are we being set up for a "the characters in the game(s) are somehow now alive or have always been, and want to have a 'chat'"?

[X] Hell, why not?

Count me in!
>> No. 29615
[x] Hell, why not?

It'll cheer you up.

Also, music? Good on you.
>> No. 29616
[x] Hell, why not?

Pretty good music for the dream sequence.
>> No. 29617
[ ] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29619
>Before I shut off the lights and head out of the door, I part my lips and whisper, “...Good night.”
Too sweet.

[x] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29620
[x]>>29616
>> No. 29621
[x] ...Hm, nah. This is a bad idea.
Yuuka already spends her entire day being a lazy bum, we don't need to put fuel to the fire.
>> No. 29622
[x] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29623
[x] Hell, why not?

Why not indeed
>> No. 29624
>>29621
>Yuuka already spends her entire day being a lazy bum, we don't need to put fuel to the fire.

That's not completely true. She does keep the other girls in line. Which is more than could be said of the protagonist.
>> No. 29625
[x] Hell, why not?

Troll O'clock.
>> No. 29626
[x] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29627
[X] Hell, why not?
>> No. 29628
[x] Put on your plumber pants and raccoon-ear hat, it's time to use Yuuka's head as a trampoline.
>> No. 29629
[x] Hell, why not?