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34389 No. 34389
[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.

Still, a part of you wonders if she even had a choice. The Lady is certainly a scumbag, but can you really fault the servant? You don't know. So, you take a deep breath, and let out a huge sigh.

“This is really bad.”

“Yes,” Patchouli agrees. “That much was certain when that woman showed up. What do you plan to do?”

Those words in particular... you didn't want to hear those, either. However, you're the leader, so you'll need to come up with something. Quickly.

“We should head back as soon as possible,” You say, “I think. I wish we could leave tonight, but... well. Hmm. Maybe we can catch the mechanic before he gets too drunk. Let's discuss this on the way to the bar.”

Patchouli gives you a slight nod. “Shall we leave her here?”

You can't think of any reason to bring Sakuya along – you think that's all you wanted to know. “Yeah. Thanks for answering my questions.”

“The Lady would have wanted me to,” She says, “But... you're planning to try and fight this? That seems foolish.”

“My master is the Guild,” You say, “This is our job. The Empire expects us to deal with threats like this, without hesitation.”

At least, that's the motto. You can't say that you're that brainwashed. You can still think for yourself. And, personally, having the Empire fall apart around you doesn't seem like it would lead to good things. There isn't much of a choice here.

“I see.”

She seems to have said her piece, so you turn back to Patchouli. “Let's get going.”

“Certainly.”

It takes you a little bit to find the place, but once you realize that it's the only other building in the whole town that's lit up, it's fairly easy to spot. As you get close you can hear laughing, talking, singing, music... and, upon entering, you can see that it looks about as crazy as it sounds from the outside. The bartender seems absolutely swamped, but everyone else looks like they're having a good time.

You spot Marisa fairly quickly. She seems to be playing a fairly intense game of cards at a table near the back of the place. She spots you as you move closer.

“Hey, Jack! Over here!”

Well, she doesn't sound too shined up yet. Maybe the mechanic will be in a similar state. The card game goes on hold as you arrive, with the people at the table giving you a curious look.

“This guy's the one that staked that bastard,” Marisa says, with a laugh. She holds up her mug. “This one's to you. You drinking tonight?”

“Maybe later,” You say, “You know how you said the train would be up and running tomorrow?”

“Yeah?”

“We need it tonight.”

Marisa laughs. “Why the rush? Or” Then her smile drops. “... oh.”

“Yeah,” You say, with a grim nod. “Worse than we expected. Is the mechanic around?”

“He's over there,” She points, “Joe. How bad is it?”

“Thanks,” You say, “I'll fill you in later.”

You leave before she can continue the conversation. The man's sitting at the bar. There's nothing really remarkable about him.

“Excuse me,” You say, after taking a seat next to him. “Are you the mechanic? Joe?”

The man turns to you, a small glass in his hand. Wiskey? Either way, he downs the whole thing before speaking. “Yeah? You that Guild boy that saved us? Don't look so glum! Bartender, two more rounds!”

… this guy, on the other hand, has already had a few rounds. Maybe this will be OK. When the bartender comes with two more glasses, he sets them down. Joe goes for his, but you grab hold first.

“Look,” You say, “You know that train down in the station? I need it fixed as soon as possible.”

He seems a little put off by you grabbing his drink. “She'll be ready by tomorrow afternoon.”

“No,” You say, “I need it tonight.”

He laughs. “Got some important paperwork to do? Don't be so uptight. It's time to celebrate, not work!”

“I understand,” You say, “But many lives are in danger. I really need it as soon as physically possible.”

“What's this about?”

“You'll hear about it soon enough,” You say, not really wanting to alarm the man. “One way or another. Just trust me on this. It's incredibly important.”

He seems hesitant, so you decide to use one of your Guild perks. “I can pay you on behalf of the Guild, if that's what it takes. Just name your price.”

The mechanic grumbles a bit. “Fine. I'm gonna need an assistant, though.”

“You don't have one?”

The man motions to someone doing a jig out on the floor to the music. He also seems to be wearing a paper hat on his head. “Man's a lightweight. Wouldn't be much good right now.”

You look behind you, but it looks like Patchouli has wandered off somewhere.

[ ] See if you can't find her. This sounds like something koakuma would be well suited to.
[ ] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
[ ] Just find someone who looks sober, and see if they'll do it.

>> No. 34391
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.

Huh. The Lady would have wanted Sakuya to answer questions? I wonder if she'd be willing to do more than that.
>> No. 34393
[x] See if you can't find her. This sounds like something koakuma would be well suited to.

Sounds more like it.
>> No. 34394
[x] See if you can't find her. This sounds like something koakuma would be well suited to.
>> No. 34395
[x] See if you can't find her. This sounds like something koakuma would be well suited to.
>> No. 34397
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.

You want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.
>> No. 34400
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
No time to wate
>> No. 34401
[+] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
>> No. 34406
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
No need to freak out people with little devils after this whole affair.
>> No. 34411
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.

It's the quickest way and I doubt the MC's a squishy weak wizard.
>> No. 34418
[ ] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.

Ask him if more hands would make a difference. If so:

[ ] See if you can't find her. This sounds like something koakuma would be well suited to.
>> No. 34419
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
>> No. 34430
>[x] See if you can't find her. This sounds like something koakuma would be well suited to.
>[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
>[x] Just find someone who looks sober, and see if they'll do it.

The more the faster the work will be done-- nah. I'll go with this:
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.
>> No. 34436
Maybe if he can read a book on mechanics, he can take up the abilities of one.
>> No. 34439
[x] Well, you're not doing anything. Physical labor will give you some time to think.

“How about me?” You offer, “I'm not really doing anything.”

He thinks about it, giving you an eye over. Then he sighs, and stands up. “If you're willing to get your hands dirty, yeah. You'll do. Ever do any mechanical work before?”

You stand up as well. Hah. Yeah, there's a few times you'd rather not remember. “A little. Manufacturing equipment, though, not trains.”

“Bah, it's not much different,” He says, “'Sides, you'll mostly be a gopher.”

“Gopher?”

“Someone to go fer parts and tools,” He says, with a wry smile. “Come on.”

The station, as it turns out, is only a few blocks from the bar. The building itself looks very well kept. Relatively fresh paint, a wonderfully laid sidewalk... overall, a tribute to all the wealth that has flowed through this place.

After getting the lights on inside the place, however, you can see that the engine itself has seen better days. A lot of parts have been torn out of the engine, with the engine itself having been derailed. The engine itself has one passenger car attached to it, however, which should be sufficient once you board up the smashed windows.

“... you can really fix this with only two sets of hands?”

“Sure. You just gotta know what you're doing.”

The work itself is boring, just as you had expected. A lot of heavy lifting, running over to the tool shed to bring back tools, that sort of thing. It gives you time to think about the issue that, thankfully, the mechanic seems to be fine with letting you keep secret.

Leaving town is priority number one, certainly. Nothing you can do to speed that part up. After that? Well, you do have a few options. This line doesn't run straight to the capital. There are a few places along the way that should still have telegraph service.

From there, you should be able to get a better picture about what's going on. 'Driving a train into an army from Hell' isn't something on the top of your to-do list. With your divination abilities out-of-service for the time being, information gathering is going to be critical.

So, after you do that... well, you'll have to wait until you get that far. Too many variables on that front.

There's many other sources for information, though. Some of them are a bit more, ah... undesirable than others, but they're still there. For instance, a part of your mind won't let go of trying to seek out that Yukari woman. A very small part, since you're almost convinced that it wouldn't be worth the trouble. At least, if Patchouli is to believed.

Then, there's that demon that possessed you, along with various other ones. That's Patchouli's domain, though. Demonology isn't a good thing to accidentally slip into, so you try not to read too much on it. Also, there's the whole failing to fulfill your end of the deal on a demonic contract thing.

Aside from information, you also need to hook up with the Guild. That may also take a bit of work. And, from there, it'll be up to them to figure out how to close whatever hole those bastards are sneaking through the Barrier in. Well, that, or kill every single invading demon. Hopefully they won't be able to pull some of the more powerful ones up from Makai.

You go over all these things as you work. Oddly enough, it's soothing in a way. The situation isn't particularly out of control yet. Shitty, but not impossible. You aren't minutes away from death, and a united Guild shouldn't have trouble with that kind of invasion force.

Fully repairing the thing takes around 5 hours. You'd be tired anyway, but with all the working you're doing, you're very close to just lying down in a corner somewhere to take a nap. After discussing payment, you remember one more critical issue. By thinking so far ahead, you've managed to forget the present.

“So, uh, can you drive this thing?”

“Nah,” The mechanic says, “I just look after em. I hope you can, because the guy who drives this thing didn't make it. Bless his soul.”

“... well,” You say, sighing, “Thanks anyway. Maybe one of my partners can help out.”

The two of you head back to the bar, and find the festivities still going. The number of people still out has been cut in half, but a fair number – Marisa and Patchouli inculded – are still around. Looks like, somehow, Patchouli's been roped into the perpetual card game going on in that corner of the room.

“Hey, you're back!” Marisa calls out, “Damn, and you're all greasy.”

“Hey, Patchouli,” You say, ignoring Marisa for the moment, “You, uh, wouldn't... happen to know how to drive a train, would you?”

“I doubt it can be very difficult,” She says, “Why?”

“Doesn't sound like there's any drivers around.”

“Hey,” Marisa calls out again, sounding a little irritated. “Don't just ignore me. Come on, sit in for the next round.”

“I really---”

“Nope,” She cuts in, “You can't work all the time. Have some beer, too!”

You look to Patchouli for help, but she just gives you a halfhearted shrug. “It isn't a bad game.”

“I even got her to play,” Marisa says, laughing, “Come on.”

[ ] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.
[ ] … sure, why not. It shouldn't take too long.
>> No. 34440
[x] … sure, why not. It shouldn't take too long.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
>> No. 34441
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.

Jack doesn't have time to spare on these plebeians. He's a guild man; he'll rest and celebrate with fellow guild members, but not these hicks. We're too good for them.
>> No. 34442
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.

People are gonna die, no time to fool around
>> No. 34443
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.
>> No. 34448
[+] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.
>> No. 34452
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.
>> No. 34462
[ ] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.
>> No. 34463
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.
There will be enough free time during the trip
>> No. 34466
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.

I wonder what happened to all the people that were waiting outside the town.
>> No. 34476
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.

Because she'll definitely be coming with us.
>> No. 34490
[x] You can play after you leave. It's going to be a long train ride back.

“Did Patchouli fill you in?” You ask, “There's no time.”

Marisa groans. “Fiiiiiine, be that way. Did you know I'm licensed?”

“Licensed for what?”

“Train operation,” She says, “What? Don't laugh!”

You really can't help yourself, though. “Seriously? Why?”

“Part of being a guard,” She says, “If I ever needed to get Kourin's ass out of town in a hurry, train's probably the best way to do it.”

That's... true. You decide not to ask why she didn't get Rinnosuke's ass out of town in a hurry when the mist hit, but that does seem like something the Guild would spring for. “Well, that's even better. You can show Patchouli the ropes.”

“Whoa, hold it,” Marisa says, “Why am I going? I have shit to do here. These guys are going to need a lot of help getting back on their feet.”

You turn to Patchouli. “You did fill her in, right?”

“She said she didn't want to hear it.”

Marisa sighs. “I don't. But, you're going to tell me anyway, right?”

“Well, I can tell you tomorrow,” You say, “We just need to get moving. Now. We can pick the game up there.”

She hesitates for a moment, before tossing her cards on the table. “I'm still not seeing what a couple of hours will do, but whatever. You've killed the mood already, anyway. Hey,” She adds, turning to the two humans at the table, “I'll see you guys in... how long do you think this will be?”

You shrug. “Dunno.”

“A few weeks,” She says, “Don't let the place go to shit when I'm gone.”

She stops to say goodbye to everyone else at the bar, as well, and the bartender gives her a bottle of some locally made vodka to bring with her. A sort of parting gift, he says. It sounds like Rinnosuke can take care of things here, so personally, you aren't too worried.

“See,” She says, as you leave the bar, “That's what you should be like. You're always so serious.”

You keep walking, and wait until you're a little ways from the bar before speaking. “The capital's about to come under attack,” You say, “It's hard not to be serious with that looming above your head.”

Marisa laughs. “Is that a joke? Come on, that's impossible.”

“I guess it's not,” You say, shrugging, “Because it's going to happen.”

“How?”

“Don't know yet,” You say, sighing, “Anyway, let's grab Sakuya and a day's worth of food.”

“Damn,” Marisa says, “I knew I didn't want to hear why. This is bullshit. What good is an impenetrable border if you can just go through it?”

Aside from Marisa's ranting, you make it back to the bank without incident. The maid is sleeping when you arrive. Thankfully, she's easy to wake. They haven't moved the food yet, either, so that's easy to get as well. You opt to grab enough food for the whole trip. There are places that you can stop, but if you pass through them at night, it won't do you any good to stop.

Hm. Was there anything else you forgot? You rack your brain for a moment.

[ ] Yes! (Write-in)
[ ] Nope!
>> No. 34491
>“Damn,” Marisa says, “I knew I didn't want to hear why. This is bullshit. What good is an impenetrable border if you can just go through it?”
All too true.
I'll vote for [x]Yes later but.. I can't remember what.
>> No. 34492
You aren't tricking me into rereading this story!
>> No. 34495
[x] Nope!

Goodbye, small country town. We're off to save the world!
>> No. 34497
>You rack your brain for a moment

Well, that's what I'm doing. I can't think of anything that would justify the time lost. Nothing that could have more of an effect than alerting thousands of guards to their stations. I believe we do have the substantiating documents.

[x] Nope!

Onward.
>> No. 34500
[x] Nope!
Demonology books from the library? Eh, couldn't be that important.
>> No. 34501
[X] Yes!
-[X] Ask someone to tell the people who stayed at the farms that the town is safe.
>> No. 34505
[X] Yes!
-[X] Ask someone to tell the people who stayed at the farms that the town is safe.

Yeah we need to attend to them now that everything's taken care of.
>> No. 34506
[X] Yes!
-[X] Ask someone to tell the people who stayed at the farms that the town is safe.
-[x] What the Guild will do if Marisa abandons her post.
>> No. 34509
Anonymous 11/05/31(Tue)04:16 No. 34506
[X] Yes!
-[X] Ask someone to tell the people who stayed at the farms that the town is safe.
-[X] What the Guild will do if Marisa abandons her post.
-[X] And the books we found. More paradigms will be useful.
>> No. 34518
What happened to all those souls in the end? And the book we were supposed to get?
>> No. 34519
>>34518
85% of the souls were absorbed. We barely dented Makai's plan and got fucked over for our trouble. Was it even possible to get a worse outcome?
>> No. 34520
[x] Yes!
-[x] Ask someone to tell the people who stayed at the farms that the town is safe.
-[x] What the Guild will do if Marisa abandons her post.


Ah... yes, that group of individuals that rode over here with you in the first place. Someone should let them know that it's safe to come down and join their families now, or at least learn what happened to them. You delegate the task to a few of the men at the bar. Maybe not the most reliable way to do it, but you think they'll get the job done.

You'll need to vouch for Marisa when you return to headquarters, too. Both of you agree that this is a little more urgent than the mission she's currently on, but it's still a little unorthodox to pull this kind of stunt. Not unheard of, and there's even clauses in most (including her) contract that allow for them to be temporarily suspended in case of emergency, but it's rarely invoked.

Still, at least there's nothing major. All in all, it only takes you a half hour or so to drag everyone to the station after making it back to the bar.

“Well,” You say, “Marisa, do you think you could teach Patchouli the ropes?”

“Yeah, I guess,” She grumbles, “Come on. We leaving right now?”

“I'm set,” You say, with a nod. Patchouli gives a very slight one too.

“Right, then get in the car I guess,” Marisa says, with a little chuckle, “I'd just drive but, uh...”

“We can switch off,” You say, “It's not like it's hard to keep the thing going, right?”

“You should watch too, then,” Marisa says, “Then I won't have to do this twice.”

In the end, Sakuya and her koakuma escort end up in the passenger car and, after checking the fuel and a few things on the engine, the three of you end up in the front of the train.

She's right. It really isn't very difficult. It only takes her a few minutes to explain what to watch for and what to do when those things happen. Patchouli volunteers to take the first shift, something you were planning on anyway. After the train gets going for a few miles, Marisa finally decides to call it quits.

“Well, I'm not going to drink alone,” She says, being loud enough to be heard over the engine, “and I don't want to play with the maid. I'm just going to go to bed.”

“The koakuma would likely play,” Patchouli offers. Somehow, you get the feeling she's using magic to avoid having to speak loudly. Her voice is louder, but exactly the same.

“Bah, don't wanna play with them either,” She says, taking that bottle of god-knows-what that the bartender gave her “'Night.”

You're not exactly tired, but maybe you should try to get some sleep as well. Set yourself back up in a normal sleeping schedule. Or maybe you should just wait until tomorrow to try.

[ ] Go for it.
[ ] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”
================================================
Since this is sort of the end of an arc (or a few posts away, at least), throw anything that you're still confused about at me. I won't answer everything, obviously, but if it's something I intended for you to get I'll be glad to fill in the blanks.

Also, I didn't include
-[X] And the books we found. More paradigms will be useful.
Because it takes the guy a few weeks to learn something new. They wouldn't be of much help.

>>34518
15% of the already less than 100% of the souls were taken by Makai. The river in the town flows north, and the mansion was on the north end of town. The souls in the liquid will end up dissipating into the mansion itself and less-so down river, along the banks. The youkai population will rise a bit as the local animals drink the tainted water, and the mansion will end up as one of those places you absolutely don't want to spend more than an hour inside.

Eventually, someone will be bothered enough to pay some priests to do a full exorcism to scrub the place of all those damned souls. That's outside the scope of the story, though.

Also, what book do you mean? If you're talking about the ones in the private library/study, they weren't immediately interesting from what you could tell. You have the one that had the seal stuck in it, though.
>> No. 34521
[x] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”

I wanna humor Marisa.
>15% of the already less than 100% of the souls were taken by Makai.
Welp, looks like I failed a reading comprehension test somewhere.
>> No. 34523
[x] Go for it.
Do it.

>15% of the already less than 100%
Somehow....
>> No. 34525
[x] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”

Driving a train when you're drunk and tired?

Brilliant!
>> No. 34527
[x] Go for it.

We're driving our train straight into a warzone. I'm pretty sure drunk and tired is not how you want to present yourself when you arrive.
>> No. 34530
[x] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”
>> No. 34531
[x] Go for it.
>> No. 34532
[x] Go for it.
>> No. 34533
>>34519
Marisa and Patchouli could have died on top of that.

[x] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”
>> No. 34534
Things could have been better if folks weren't consumed with needless spite for Yukari. Having said that, things went incredibly well, all things considered.
>> No. 34537
[X] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”
>> No. 34563
[x] “Actually, wait a sec. I'll play a few.”

“Actually, wait a sec,” You say, eying that bottle up, “I'll play a few. Think you can handle this, Patchouli?”

“Yes.”

“Well, we're going to have to play for money,” Marisa laughs, “So I can kick your ass.”

“No big stakes,” You say, “Because you probably will kick my ass.”

Getting back to the passenger car is a little shocking. You're used to covered walkways between cars, but this one is lacking even a platform. It's just a large step over nothing.

The passenger car itself, well, it's definitely not as nice as what you rode over in. This one was intended for normal, everyday citizens without much money. The boarded up windows, and small unpatched holes that something punched through the ceiling don't help much either.

There's three dual-person compartments, and a lavatory on this car. No kitchen, but most of your food is dried or eaten uncooked anyway. You two take the first compartment, and use the fold-up table near the only good window on the train to set up on.

“Ever play fifteens before?” Marisa asks, producing a wooden box from the bag of things that she brought.

You nod. “It's been a while, but I think I remember the basics. What's in the bottle?”

“Captain Murasa's Private Stash,” She reads, holding it up to the dim lamp in the room, “Want some?”

You shrug. “Sure.”

“You'll have to swig it like a real pirate though,” Marisa laughs, “I don't think we have any glasses.”

You do so, and have one hell of a time swallowing it. After managing, you cough a bit. This is really strong stuff. It's probably kept secret for a good reason.

“Good, isn't it?” She asks, “Pass it here, then we'll get started.”

Seems that Marisa is no stranger to drinking strong alcohol straight out of the bottle. She takes a good gulp and sets the bottle aside. “Haha, that's the stuff. Shoulda asked if he had some back when I was at the bar.”

After a basic refresher course, the two of you set to the game at hand. A best out of five match, to keep the game going for a while. There's a small bit of money placed on it, too – not enough to really mean much, but maybe enough to buy a good dinner for the winner.

Marisa wins the first by a longshot and the second by just a little, but you manage to pull through in the third with some absurd luck. About midway through the fourth you reach the state that you'd call “drunk”, with Marisa having been there for a while.

“... and a pair for sixteen,” Marisa counts out, sounding absolutely diabolical. “Hah. Wish I was this lucky all the time.”

You chuckle as well, “Me, too. Then I could win again.”

“You should have seen me at the bar!” She adds smugly, “Made all kinds of money. I'm kind of inf... infamous there, you know. Good place.”

“You're kind of infamous everywhere,” You add, with a smile. “Seriously. I remember back in Kirland...”

Marisa pauses for a moment before bursting out laughing. “I completely forgot about that! Do you think they still remember?”

“Probably,” you continue, “Or how about Erbis? Opira?”

“I am kind of infamous... aren't I?” She asks, still laughing like a madman, “We had a few crazy adventures back in the day, didn't we?”

“That makes us sound so old,” You say, leaning back in your seat. They really aren't that uncomfortable. “There's still places to go, infamy to gain.”

“Well, we need to kick some demon ass first,” She says, her voice taking on a darker tone, “God, these guys are pissing me off. I mean, first they kill all my friend, then they want to kill all my other friends? What is this shit?”

“It's shit,” You confirm, “But at least we know about it.”

“Yeah, that's one thing you're good at,” Marisa says, “Probably good that they sent you along instead of two extra me's. I would have just burned that place to the ground. And you were even ready to help those bastards.”

“Whoa,” You say, “I didn't know this would happen. How often does something like this happen?”

“Hopefully only once in a lifetime,” Marisa sighs, “I told you it was a bad idea. At least that crazy bitch stopped you.”

You decide not to comment on that. True, but you'd rather not admit she's right to her face. That self-confidence doesn't need boosting.

“Hey,” She says, “What ever happened to that other crazy bitch? The one with the, uh... stuff behind her.”

“Dunno,” You say, shrugging, “Probably off plotting somewhere. She seems like the type.”

“I know, right?” Marisa says, darkly, “I wonder if we need to kick her ass too.”

“We'd need Yagokoro for that,” You say, thinking back to the Guild. Eirin Yagokoro, also known as the Brain of the Empire. She isn't technically the leader of the Guild, but you'd be damned if she isn't the best mage around. “And probably everyone else above Initiate.”

“She didn't look that tough,” Marisa grumbles, “I bet I could take her in a straight fight.”

“Think you could take Shinki?” You ask, a bit sarcastically, “I hear she's not much tougher.”

“Blah, don't even joke about that. That could actually happen.”

“You really think Shinki might show up?” You ask, “I bet it's going to be a bunch of weak little guys and a few strong ones. She wouldn't need a diversion.”

“Guess that's true,” Marisa says, “Or maybe the Guild really is that badass.”

“Hah, maybe,” You say, “Probably. I don't think I'd want to be anywhere near that fight, though.”

“Well, we're going to win,” Marisa says, “The empire is going to be fine, and no one I know is going to die.”

“You're a fortune teller now?”

“Yeah, bitch,” She says with a slight chuckle, “I know that you can't win this game, too.”

You laugh. Right, you're in the middle of a card game. “Oh yeah? Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

The rest of the game plays out brilliantly on your part, but also on Marisa's part. In the end, you lose by two points due to her scoring first. Close, but she takes the series and your money. Then proceeds to let out a victory... howl.

“Haha! Take that! See? I'm spot on.”

“That was close, though,” You say, mournfully looking at the hand that you'll never be able to score, “Look at this.”

“Hey,” She says, offering out her hand, “Fate said you had to lose, but you put up a good fight. No hard feelings.”

You manage to smile. “Fate it is, then.”

“I mean that last bit,” She says, “You're an alright guy when you're not being an ass.”

That's probably true of anyone, but you don't correct her. With a grin, you add, “You, too.”

“Hey,” She says, after letting out a huge yawn, “It's been fun, but, uh... I'm about ready to drop. Gonna get some water and pass out, I think.”

“Yeah,” You say, “That's a good idea.”

The water advice is good, you grab a skin and head to your quarters. For whatever reason, you ended up sharing a room with the supplies. You've got one of the breezy and boarded up windows, so it's a bit chilly, but nothing your coat can't take care of. You fold out the bed and lie down.

… and stay awake. For at least an hour, you turn, thinking of how this is going to go. All the tricks you know don't work. The alcohol is helping, you think, but you simply aren't tired. Sleeping through the entire day is probably to blame here.

[ ] See what Patchouli is up to.
[ ] Give it another hour.
[ ] You've got a few books, might as well give one a look.
- [ ] Divination
- [ ] Demonology
===============================================
>>34527
It's a little more than two days via train to make it to the capital, although there are a few larger places along the way. I thought I mentioned this at the very beginning, but looking back, I can't see where I did.
>> No. 34566
[x] See what Patchouli is up to.

Marisa is pretty damn cool. I like her. On that note, I think this is a pretty spot on job with Marisa's gruff, boyish characterization. She's had tender moments in the past, showing she isn't a one-dimensional pony, but she usually acts just like her crude, rude self. It's great, and I can't recall a single ZE.

>“Yeah, bitch,” She says with a slight chuckle, “I know that you can't win this game, too.”

Fucking awesome. You should feel good Klay. You should feel damn good.
>> No. 34567
[x] You've got a few books, might as well give one a look.
- [x] Divination

That update. Good update. I'm such a sucker for halfway decent banter. Nice dropping of information the characters know that we don't, too.

Patchy told us to bone up on our divination a while ago. I don't want to disappoint her.
>> No. 34568
it just occurred to me that the guild almost certainly has real diviners and already know about this attack. ... Or knew about it. If it already happened.

I guess we'll find out in a few updates. Maybe.
>> No. 34571
[x] See what Patchouli is up to.
>> No. 34580
[x] You've got a few books, might as well give one a look.
- [x] Skim Divination
- [x] Read Demonology
>> No. 34583
[x] See what Patchouli is up to.

I'm curious to see how she's doing.
>> No. 34585
[x] See what Patchouli is up to.
>> No. 34592
Next update will come Sunday afternoon. Please wait warmly until then.

I didn't realize the tie was broken last night in time to do anything about it. Today, I'm leaving on a trip to a place with no internet for the weekend. I hoped to get it done in the morning, but I'm leaving earlier than I expected. I'll write it on my laptop, and post it when I get back.
>> No. 34596
>>34592

Hooray!
>> No. 34631
[x] See what Patchouli is up to.

Screw it. You'll just go see what Patchouli is up to. She might enjoy the compa... hah, no, probably not. Still, it could be more productive than doing nothing.

You throw on your coat and... sorely miss your hat. Stabbed, then dusted, then drowned in blood; you'll miss the guy. After this is all over, you'll need to see if the hatter downtown can make you another. You feel bald as it is right now. At least your shoes are fine, you suppose. It's going to be a sad day in Gensokyo when these things finally bite the dust.

The alcohol is still effecting you a bit, and this winding track isn't helping all that much. It's a little difficult to maintain your balance.

By the time you reach the front of the train, you can't help but laugh. For one, the entire cabin is quiet. There's some kind of bubble, or something, places around the edge of the thing. When you entered the door, the noise instantly stopped.

Patchouli herself isn't bothering with the train. There's three koakuma – one on lookout and two manning levers – doing the actual driving, while Patchouli sits nearby with a book in her hand.

“Really?” You ask, still laughing, “I guess I should have expected this, though.”

The koakuma laugh with you. “Ah, Jack! It's so boring in here. Save us!”

Patchouli lifts an eyebrow at that, but doesn't bother to respond.

“Don't expect me to be entertaining,” You say, with one last chuckle. “I just can't sleep.”

“Nightmares from the big bad demons?” They ask, giggling a bit.

You shake your head. “I was passed out most of the day. I think that has something to do with it. Nightmares?”

“You broke that contract, right?” The ask, clearly amused by the whole thing, “You're going to get it~”

“No,” Patchouli states, quite clearly, “It will go to court first, as he made an effort. Pay attention to the train.”

That drops their spirits a bit. They do as commanded, though, and turn around.

“Unless they decide to kick my ass while they're up here,” You add, “What are you reading?”

She holds the book at a different angle, so that you can see the title. 'On Makai'. But, wait, don't you...?

“Fourteenth edition,” She says, before you can even get around to it, “The copy you found is much earlier.”

“Doing a bit of cross-referencing?”

She nods slightly, and goes back to holding it at a much more natural angle.

“Find anything?”

“Not yet, as you have the other copy.”

You shrug. “I don't think I'm going to need it. It's with my stuff when you need it.”

“Also,” She says, “I have been thinking about the current situation.”

“Think about anything good?”

“No. There is nothing good.”

“Well,” You sigh, “We'll just have to do our best. Maybe the Guild caught wind of it before we did, and we can ride in just before Makai sh---”

“Unlikely.”

She's right, of course. No one wastes resources monitoring the state of the capital. Diviners are trained to focus outward and treat any visions about the capital as metaphors. That, and you can't see Makai showing up only to be beaten by a few diviners. They've probably thought about that.

“Guess I don't need to waste the pep talks on you, anyway. Anything interesting, then?”

She finally closes her book, and places it to the side of the stool that she's sitting on. “... I was considering our deal with that woman. Or rather, a lack of one.”

You frown. “Why? Nothing good can come from dealing with her.”

“I agree wholeheartedly,” Patchouli states, “... but, if anyone knows about the Barrier and it's flaws, it would be that woman. Perhaps we wouldn't be the ones to suffer from whatever deals we make now.”

“Do you think we should deal with her?”

Patchouli shrugs. “I don't know. Trying to reason about the outcome is interesting, but not very productive. She's quite the enigma.”

[ ] “Well, forget about it. Anything else?”
[ ] “... how would we even make contact?”
>> No. 34632
[x] “Well, forget about it. Anything else?”

I don't think so. Our last deal with the proverbial demons ended up with tons of souls lost, and our head wanted on a pike. We shan't make that mistake again, especially when the demon is much higher up this time, and far more whimsical.

Nope. Jack's going to do this with his by his own merits, and the power of teamwork.
>> No. 34633
[x] “... how would we even make contact?”

I like this Yukari and wish to see more of her. She will be involved in all this somewhere, whether we contact her or not, so I'd like to see if she can be involved where I can read about her.
>> No. 34634
[x] “... how would we even make contact?”

Better late than never.
>> No. 34637
[x] “... how would we even make contact?”

I think this Yukari like the normal one has an interest in gensokyo's well being. Though I'm sure she'd rub the fact we refused her the first time in our faces.

>>34632
Said soul disaster was caused by excessive Yukari spite.
>> No. 34638
[ ] “... how would we even make contact?”
>> No. 34639
[X] “... how would we even make contact?”
>> No. 34640
[x] “... how would we even make contact?”
directed by Justin Case.
>> No. 34642
[x] “Well, forget about it. Anything else?”
>> No. 34647
[x] “... how would we even make contact?”

>>34637

The disaster was caused by Flandre. If we'd taken Yukari's help, the contract would have been intentionally broken, and instead of going into arbitration, there would be demons after our asses this very moment.
>> No. 34650
[x] “... how would we even make contact?”

“... how would we even make contact?” You ask, “She seems like she'd be hard to find unless she was already looking for you.”

“Impossible would be more accurate,” Patchouli says, “There's a reason she's all but a myth now.”

“Hmm,” You say, considering the idea a bit more, “Maybe it's like this play I saw once. Yukariyakumo-yukariyakumo-yukariyakumo!”

Right on cue, the train gives off a low metallic groan. Shit. What have you done? You wait for the area around you to become impossible, for time to suddenly freeze...

… but, showtime never comes. The train continues along, unconcerned, although even Patchouli looks a little shaken by the whole thing.

“Please,” She says, after a few moments of silence, “Don't do that.”

You laugh. “Sorry.”

“So, you would be interested in making contact?” Patchouli asks, curiously. “We are still at a disadvantage, as far as bargaining goes.”

“Marisa won't like it,” You say, “But... well, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Even if it spits acid, it might be better than what we have.”

Patchouli manages a faint smile. “Indeed.”

“Still, all this talk doesn't do any good if we can't contact her,” You say, sighing. “You're sure we can't summon her or something?”

“Perhaps it's possible, but it's not something I know about,” She says, “If we show our intent, however, she may show herself.”

At that, one of the koakuma – the one running the break lever – starts giggling. “Later.”

A chill runs down your spine. “Huh?”

The koakuma takes a second to realize that you're talking to it, and not something else. It just gives you a confused look. “'Huh?' what?”

“Why'd you say 'later'?” You ask, a bit creeped out.

“I didn't,” It says, with as serious of a face as an imp can manage. “You going crazy again, guy?”

“Enough,” Patchouli says to the koakuma, before turning back to you, “That was our answer.”

The koakuma looks positively confused. After a moment, it decides to go back to doing what it was doing.

“Sheesh,” you say, “Talk about indirect.”

“I'm sure she has some whimsical reason,” Patchouli says, with a slight sigh.

“Yeah,” You say, taking a glance to the three demons near the front of the cabin. “You know, this does bring up a good point. These guys aren't going to suddenly turn on us when Makai starts their invasion, are they? I mean, they are demons, right?”

“Hmm,” Patchouli answers, pausing for a moment. “...no, they should be bound to my will. I will double-check my contract, however.”

“Good idea,” You nod. “You might want to wrap up anything else you have going on with Makai while you're at it.”

“They are the only thing,” Patchouli states, “I try not to make many demonic contracts.”

“I hear you,” You say, with a slight laugh, “So.”

“So?”

“... I'm just trying to think of what we should do now,” You say, taking a look out the window. “Just waiting around never was my style.”

“I could find you a more relevant book,” Patchouli offers, “Divination won't be of much use to you for a while.”

You laugh. “No, I don't think I'll need one. I sort of want to go interview the maid, but she's sleeping.”

“What for?”

“When someone breaks like that,” You say, “Sometimes, they can be reshaped. She'd be a tremendous asset. Even mediocre chronomages are rare, and she's at least a step above that.”

“Ah,” Patchouli says, “Yes, that's true. The Guild recruits many of it's members that way, doesn't it?”

“Well, I wouldn't say many,” You answer, “But, I guess we get a few every once in a while. You ever meet with our priest?”

“Kochiya?”

“Yeah,” You say, “She was a member of some cult before a team went in and wiped out the leader. They decided to give her a shot working for us, and, well, it's worked out nicely so far.”

“Interesting,” Patchouli says, “I was unaware of anyone specific. I just knew of the practice.”

You nod. “As long as we're here, and you don't mind me asking... what's your story? You've always just kind of been around.”

She gives a vague shrug. “I joined many years ago for use of the library.”

“That's it?”

“Yes. It's much easier than amassing my own collection.”

“Personally, I got recruited,” You laugh, “I broke into a magical lock by pretending I was the guy who owned it. The guard eventually got me, handed me over to the Guild, and the rest is history. Those were the days.”

By the time you get done reminiscing, you notice that Patchouli has already returned to her seat. She hasn't gone for the book yet, though.

“Well,” You start. Before you can finish the thought, however, you let out a yawn. A wave of drowsiness washes over you as well. “Oh. Hey, I'm feeling a bit tired.”

“I thought that might help,” Patchouli says, “I corrected an elemental imbalance that you had.”

“Thanks,” You say, before yawning again. “I think I'm going to go pass out now.”

“Good night.”

It's not an alarming drowsiness, however, so you pause when you reach the door. A thought flashes through your mind, for just a moment.

[ ] … but, you quickly lose it. Head for bed.
[ ] Write-in.
>> No. 34651
[x] Sakuya.
>> No. 34652
[X] Makai
>> No. 34653
[x]Patchouli
[x]How does she look like under those silly robes?
>> No. 34654
[X] Makai
>> No. 34656
>>34655
He only brainwashes his own brain. ... right? Right? Please let him only brainwash his own brain.

[x] Sakuya
>> No. 34657
... well, this is embarrassing. That's what I get for writing so late at night, I suppose.

When I said a thought, I meant "something to bring up for conversation". I'll need more than a single word. Re-vote, if you would kindly. I'll start writing in 7-8 hours if I'm able.

>>34656
Ah, that's not what I was implying at all. Think of it as un-brainwashing.
>> No. 34658
Yeah, I figured, but people were already voting so I just went with it.

[x] What element needed correcting?

I'm curious. It might be the work of dark magic or something. Or it might be a simple answer.
>> No. 34659
[x] Ask Patchouli what possible motive Makai could have for orchestrating an invasion of the human realm, aside from the souls.
>> No. 34660
[x] What element needed correcting?
An afterthought.
>> No. 34662
[x] … but, you quickly lose it. Head for bed.

It's pretty obvious that Patchy does not wish to continue conversation. She cast that spell on us so we would leave her be, so let's do that. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that thinking of a worthwhile topic is incredibly difficult, no sir.
>> No. 34666
[x] What element needed correcting?

This is food for thought. I doubt Patchy is the sort of lie about something like this.
>> No. 34667
[X] What element needed correcting?
>> No. 34670
I'll get to it tomorrow. Something rather pressing came up.
>> No. 34678
>>34670
>I'll get to it tomorrow.

Hooray!
>> No. 34691
[x] What element needed correcting?

“Oh,” You say, managing to grasp it before it leaves your head, “Wait. What was the imbalance?”

“An excess of wood, metal, and water,” She offers, “It was nothing major.”

“... huh. Well, I'll see you later today.”

“Yes.”

With that, you make your way back to your bed. You should have just come to her in the first place.

As you lay down, you think just a few things. The first is that you should definitely add energy balancing to your skill set for calming down at night. The second is that you're tired. Within no time, you start to drift off to sleep.

… and, somehow, manage to get stuck right on the edge. The wind passing through the cabin begins to sound like whispering, and the darkness holds all kinds of terrible things that you'd rather not see. Half-burned vampires. Pools of blood on the floor. Eyes floating amidst an absence of reality. Nothing pleasant, at least.

It culminates with a touch on your neck. You try to spin around, to swat it, anything... but, you can't seem to move. Then, you start to feel breath down the back of your neck. Then, a whisper. A number, and a street.

That's the last thing you remember before actually drifting off. Your actual dreams weren't much better. Lots of... being killed in various ways. You can't remember the specifics for most of them. The last one, where you were left to bleed out after being stabbed in both calves with a rusty spear, only sticks in your mind because it fits the situation you wake up to.

That is, the odd metallic squeaking that this train makes whenever it's changing speeds. Well, that, and you've got a slight pain in both your legs. At the moment, it seems to be slowing down. Probably nearing a town, then. Good. Hopefully, they'll have telegraph service here.

You take a drink of your water, and remember back to last night. This whole 'later' thing has you on edge. Did you just miss something? You're no stranger to pre-sleep hallucinations, and that felt a little too real. Still, you wonder if...

Well, whatever. It's gone now. You throw on your shoes, and head out of your compartment to see what's going on.

Yes, this is definitely some kind of town. There's more than one rail now, and structures beyond that. If you had to guess, you'd say that you're coming into some kind of station.

… jeez. You take a look at your watch, and find that it's already a few hours past lunchtime. Have you really been asleep that long? Well, whatever. Not much you can do about it now. You head up to the cabin to find Patchouli.

“Hey,” You say, entering the engine. Yes, definitely a town. You can see it through the front windows. “Where are we?”

“Latoi,” Patchouli answers. Although she's not directly manipulating the levers, she's speaking softly to the koakuma who are. “At the base of the Skradian mountains.”

Ah, so you're back to something resembling civilization. It's still a long ways to the capital, but you're getting closer. Should be... about a day and a half, then, if you keep up your previous speed.

“We stopping, or just slowing down?”

“Slowing down is required,” Patchouli says, “Would you like to stop?”

“Think they have a telegraph here?”

“Yes, although it may not be working,” Patchouli says.

[ ] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
[ ] There's no time to waste.
===============================================
Would have had this up yesterday, but I couldn't get to the site after I finished it.
>> No. 34692
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
Time is of the essence, that's why we should check if we can save ourselves the rest of the trip
>> No. 34693
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.

I'm for anything that wastes time. Wires are probably cut.
>> No. 34694
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.

I'm worried. Unless some manner of trouble is going on in town, there should be no reason the telegram isn't working. We need to investigate and see if shits brewing over here.
>> No. 34696
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
>> No. 34698
[X] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
>> No. 34699
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
>> No. 34700
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
>> No. 34701
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.
> Time is of the essence, that's why we should check if we can save ourselves the rest of the trip
>> No. 34703
[x] There's no time to waste.

People's lives are at stake.
>> No. 34722
Sorry, friends showed up randomly and we did things. I'll update tomorrow morning.
>> No. 34736
File 130782646745.jpg - (224.12KB , 750x750 , hat.jpg ) [iqdb]
34736
>>34722
Hooray!
>> No. 34759
[x] Stop. A half hour isn't going to kill you.

“Worth a shot,” You say, with a shrug, “bring us to a stop at the station.”

“Certainly.”

She begins speaking to the koakuma again, giving them directions, while you stand by and watch out the window. This town looks to be in much better shape than the one you left. A relief, even if it's just a temporary one. It'll be good to see people that haven't been living in a war zone for a week.

The station itself is a little ways away. Before you reach it, the door leading to the engine slides open once more.

“Hey,” Your groggy looking visitor asks, “what's going on?”

“'Morining, Marisa.”

“Few hours late for that,” She says, rubbing her eyes. “So, we stopping for lunch or something?”

“We're going to see if telegraph service is working here,” You say, “Maybe see if there's any Guild agents in town while we're at it.”

“Yeah? Well, I could use some coffee,” She mumbles, “Can you believe we didn't grab any before we left?”

You laugh. “Sorry, I wasn't thinking about that.”

“What's up with those guys?” She asks, motioning to the koakuma, “They know how to drive this thing?”

“Patchouli filled them in. I guess she doesn't trust them to stop the train, though.”

“Huh.” She says, “Better keep them out of sight in the town, though.”

“I was going to rest,” Patchouli answers, “They will remain on the train.”

“Oh,” Marisa continues, “Do you want to switch off, then?”

“Perhaps,” She says, “I will only need about an hour's worth of sleep, but I don't object to leaving as soon as possible.”

Within a few minutes, the train comes to rest in a very empty train yard. Although it's small, there's not even one other train around.

“Kinda dead looking,” Marisa notes, “Need me for anything?”

You shake your head. “Nah, I don't think so. Like I said, I'm just going to go try and send a message to the capital.”

“I'll meet you back here, then” She says, after opening the rear door. “I'm gonna pick up some coffee. Ever been here before?”

You shake your head. “No, not really. Have you?”

“Yeah. Just so you know, the telegraph office should be that way,” She says, pointing towards the east. “It's the only building with wires running out of it in town, so it should be easy enough to find.”

“Thanks,” You say, “See you in a bit.”

As you go to leave, however, you remember the maid tucked away in back. You should probably let her know what's going on.

A knock on her door doesn't produce an answer, but you can see through the window that she's awake. The koakuma inside pique up, though, clearly looking bored out of their minds. You slide the door open just a crack, and place your head in.

“Hey,” You say, “Just thought I'd let you know that we're stopping for a bit.”

She notices you this time, but doesn't quite turn to face you. Instead, you get a perfectly elegant nod, before she goes back to looking out the window. “I see.”

[ ] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.
[ ] Head out.
================================================
Sorry about the lateness of this update, I spent the weekend getting abducted by people. Things should be normal now.
>> No. 34761
[x] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.

More Sakuya. She probably won't try to escape.
>> No. 34762
[ ] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.
>> No. 34763
[x] Head out.

It would be absolute folly to take her out. She may profess to having no reason to live, and thus no reason to escape, but she has had a long train ride to ruminate over where she is going, and what will happen.

Something is going to go down in this town, and that will give her the perfect opportunity to escape. I am willing to bet she will.
>> No. 34765
[x] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.
>> No. 34767
[x] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.
>> No. 34769
[x] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.
>> No. 34770
[X] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.

I'm sure both she & the koakuma would appreciate the break.
>> No. 34773
[x] Head out.
>> No. 34775
[x] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.
I wonder
>> No. 34776
[x] Ask if she wants to go for a walk.

From the statement she made about owing it to Scarlet to tell her side of the story, she won't be a serious flight risk.
>> No. 34779
[x] Ask if she wants to come along.

“Want to get out and stretch your legs?” You ask, “It's still a long way to the capital, and I doubt we'll be stopping after this.”

“Yeah!” One of the koakuma laughs, “It's boring in here.”

“Sorry,” You say, “I'd rather not be run out by an angry mob. You guys will have to stay here.” Turning back to the maid, you ask again, “So, how about it?”

“... well, I suppose it would be rude to outright refuse,” She says, before turning around. “Why are we stopping? You seemed to be in such a hurry last night.”

“Haha, yeah,” You say, “We're hoping to use the telegraph to send out a message to the capital.”

She smiles a rather grim smile. “And you know that you may be too late? Makai will cut communications as soon as they can.”

“Yeah,” You say, with a shrug, “Losing a half hour isn't going to matter, though. Come on.”

She rises to her feet, and follows you to the exit of the car. The koakuma also attempt to follow.

“Hey, I was serious,” You say, getting in their way. “Stay here.”

“Aww, I want to mess with the hicks,” One of them says, “They're so fun~”

“Haha yeah~”

“Goodbye,” You mutter, as you shut the door on them. “They aren't that annoying all the time, are they?”

“No, they're very quiet when you don't excite them,” She says, “Now, what was your real reason for having me come with you?”

You motion for her to walk, and do so yourself. “What do you mean?”

“I'm sure you realize the risks,” She says, “I'm not even bound.”

“Sure,” You say, “I may not look like it, but if you pulled something... well, I think I'd be fine. Besides, we've got your focii tucked away right now. I'm not too worried about knives.”

“It's a rather jarring change from two days ago,” She remarks, “I believe the second thing you did after we met was have me tortured.”

“Hey,” You say, “If it's any consolation, I didn't feel good about it. That was the only option we really had.”

“Either way,” She says, “I am suspicious. What is your real reason?”

“Conversation,” You say, “It's not every day that I meet someone like yourself.”

“Of course not,” She says, “I was bred to be the Lady's personal servant. What good is a run-of-the-mill servant for a woman of her caliber?”

… whoa. That's some pretty heavy indoctrination. “I guess. Did she let you out of the mansion much?”

“I was free to come and go,” Sakuya says, “As long as I was there when she needed me.”

“Did you ever take advantage of it?”

“These are strange questions,” She says, “I would just like to walk.”

“Sure,” You say, with a shrug. “That's fine by me.”

It seems that this road runs along what is pretty much the north edge of town. Peering down the streets leading through the main body of the place, you can see that, yes, this place is doing well. There's quite a few people moving about. Most of them give you strange looks when the notice you, but after their eyes catch sight of your badge they quickly find something else to be interested in.

“The residents seem to be wary of us,” Sakuya notes, after the fifth or sixth time this happens.

“Yeah,” You say, “The Guild showing up in a place like this usually isn't a good sign. They probably just don't want to get involved in whatever it is we're involved in. “

“Ah. Ignorance is bliss, then.”

“Something like that,” You say, shrugging, “We wouldn't be out this far if something wasn't happening somewhere nearby. That, or pulling escort duty, I guess.”

You pass a few more streets when, for the first time, someone notices your badge and crosses the street to speak with you. A young boy, to be specific. He looks pretty winded, like he's been running for a while now.

“Mister,” The boy calls out, “Mister! Are you with the Guild?”

You give the boy the best smile you can manage. Passable, but you've managed better. “I am. What can I do for you?”

“My pals and I caught a youkai!” He calls out triumphantly, “I was going to get the sheriff, but you're even better!”

“A youkai, huh?” You ask, not entirely believing him. It's possible that a bunch of kids could catch a weaker one, you suppose, but this wouldn't be the first time you've been pranked like that. It usually takes the pranksters more than a handful of minutes to get wind of you, however, so you decide to hear him out. “What was it doing?”

“Sleeping!” He says proudly, “We surrounded it, so it can't get away.”

[ ] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.
[ ] Tell him to turn right around and get his friends away from that thing!
[ ] Your own business is just a tad more pressing. Tell him you can't help.
>> No. 34780
[x] Your own business is just a tad more pressing. Tell him you can't help.

The inhabitants of Gensokyo are well-versed in the dangers a youkai can represent. I believe this to hold true for this setting as well. That this kid would so enthusiastically say he and his gang has already caught one lends credence to his claims. I am certain they will be fine until they can alert the local authorities.
>> No. 34781
[X] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.

Surround a creature that is very likely to be capable of killing you & doing nothing else? They went full retard.
>> No. 34782
[X] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.

Yeah, leaving those kids to their own devices won't end well. Has no one taught them, "Leave sleeping bears lie."?
>> No. 34783
[x] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.

We get to waste more time and possibly meet a new character. I'm sold.
>> No. 34784
[x] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.

Side quests!
>> No. 34785
[x] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.
>> No. 34786
[x] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.
>> No. 34787
[X] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.
>> No. 34788
>“Sleeping!” He says proudly, “We surrounded it, so it can't get away.”

China?

[x] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.
>> No. 34789
[x] Your own business is just a tad more pressing. Tell him you can't help.

Tick tock.
>> No. 34790
[ ] Your own business is just a tad more pressing. Tell him you can't help.
>> No. 34791
If it's a weak youkai, I expect someone of the 9-squad.

[ ] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.
>> No. 34792
>>34791
Nobody said it was a weak Youkai. Sleeping obviously means it's Yukari.
>> No. 34795
[x] Better step in. Even a weak youkai could tear those kids apart.

What do they teach kids these days? Part of you is tempted to let nature take it's course, but... no, you guess helping them out won't take very long. It's not much of a detour.

“So, you want me to take care of it?”

He nods. “Can you? That would be so cool!”

“I suppose I have time,” You say, “Where is it?”

“This way,” He says, motioning for you to follow. “Come on!”

The boy takes off running. Jogging, rather. You turn to Sakuya. “Slight detour. Sorry.”

You take off after the kid, making sure that Sakuya sticks behind you. It wouldn't do to lose her in the process. She keeps pace almost effortlessly.

The boy leads you back two blocks to 'B. Dr.'. Hell if you know what the B stands for, but you seem to recognize the name regardless. Maybe there's a B. Dr. back in the capital, or something.

In either case, this drive seems to be lined with mostly houses. The area doesn't seem poor, but it doesn't seem very rich either. The people that happen to be sitting outside give you looks, as per usual.

Eventually, you reach 415 B. Dr. An address that also seems familiar. The boy stops, and points to a wooded area behind the house. It's not terribly large, with only a dozen trees or so.

“It's back there,” He says, definitely sounding tired now. He seems to be waiting for you to go first, so you do so.

Sure enough, you soon catch sight of four more children. Three boys, and one very rough looking girl. They turn around to look after you start crunching through the leaves.

“I got a Guild member,” The boy that led you there calls out, “It's still sleeping, right?”

One of the children, who looks a bit older than the rest, gives a rather firm “shhhh” as you get close, and nods. “Guild?” He whispers to you, “Great. This one looks tough.”

Resting against a nearby tree, you see the youkai. And, well, almost laugh. It looks like a feral youkai. Probably an overgrown house cat, if the ears, tail, and claws are any indication. Tough, though? Maybe it's just because it's asleep, but this thing looks pathetic. Enough to turn some children into thin, meaty strips perhaps, but you don't think even the lowest Guild member would have trouble with this one.

Suddenly, though, it opens it's eyes. “Guild?”

After a slight pause, the kids let out a collective cry and fall back in every direction. They don't go far, however; probably looking to watch this fight.

“Yeah,” You say. And... it smiles. You can't say that you see that reaction very often. It's enough to give you pause.

“Jack Steam?”

And that one? Never. This whole thing is creeping you out. “Do I know you?”

“Nope,” It says, “But, I just got a message for you from my boss! It's, um...”

Ugh. You wonder if this is 'later'. Couldn't she come up with a better way to contact you?

“Shoot it!” One of the kids calls out from behind the tree.

“Yeah!”

… this is a difficult position to be in. It'd actually be a crime to let a feral youkai like this go. They're pretty much exterminate-on-site in populated areas.

An idea comes to mind, however.

“Hey,” You say, quietly enough that it's barely audible. These kinds of creatures usually have good hearing, though. “Mind, uh, faking a fight? We'll both make a lot of noise, you'll play dead, and then we'll split up after they leave.”

“Huh?” It says, at a normal speaking volume. “Oh, sure! Die, human!”

You need something that these kids will believe, so---

---you allow your shadow to erupt into a bubble of darkness, absorbing all nearby light within a good radius. Now isn't a very good time for this battle. Midday, it's almost impossible to use your shadowmancy. These trees are providing sufficient shadow for a very short burst however.

“Merow!” The cat growls. “I'll get you!”

You immediately head for your knife, but... no, it would be easier to be unarmed. You were sent to fake this thing's death, not kill it. The cat does slam into you, though – claws retracted – and knocks you to the ground. You can see it perfectly in this light, and you believe it can see you. Well, that's how it's going to be, then. You'll trade a few blows with it.

It lands the next one as well, although you manage to absorb this blow a bit better. The third one, you dodge completely, and land a solid hit on it's back, knocking it to the ground.

“Stay down,” You mutter, “That's good.”

“Ugh!” It cries out, going along perfectly with the act. It's about then that your bubble loses strength, dissolving in the midday sun. Everyone around, except perhaps Sakuya, looks on in awe at the---

--- wonderful performance. With the cat playing dead like that, and after such a dramatic display, the children really don't have much of a choice.

“Whoa!” They cheer, “You got it!”

“Cool!”

“... can I touch it?”

You motion for them all to calm down. “You kids better head home. What if there's more of them?”

“Ah...”

“... yeah, he's right.”

“Thanks!”

They seem to buy it easily enough, and all walk off talking about the battle. Well, that was a little easier than you expected. You didn't even have to pull too much bullshit. After the get out of earshot, you decide it's safe to speak again.

“Now, get out of here,” You say, “Meet me at the train yard, and stay out of sight.”

“Got it,” The cat says, rolling over. “You did what she said, so you're a good guy. Meet you there!”

In the blink of an eye, the youkai ends up in the nearby tree. Another blink, and it's already reached the edge of the little grove that you're in. It quickly bounds out of sight, sticking near the rear of the houses. The thing is fast enough that, unless you're really looking for it, you probably wouldn't notice until it stops.

“Your job is to exterminate youkai, yes?” Sakuya asks, finally, “Why did you let it go?”

“Well,” You say, “I am expecting a message. And, in this case, shooting the messenger would be a very bad idea.”

“You didn't think it was lying?”

“I don't think it's smart enough to lie,” You say, laughing, “Much less guess my name.”

“Hmm.”

With everyone satisfied, you decide it's best to get out of here before anyone else shows up. Definitely don't need any more distractions right now. From here, you just head in the direction you need. No real need to head back up to the road you were on.

Soon enough, you come to the telegraph office. It's pretty obvious, just like Marisa said. The door's open, so you enter.

The man at the counter looks positively bored. “What can I do for you?” He asks, after he notices you standing up at the counter.

“I need to send a message to the capital,” You say, “Are the lines working?”

“Service has been kinda iffy lately,” He says, sighing. “There's guys working on it, but I guess they have to check the entire length of wire from here to the next office. Let me see.”

The man folds up his newspaper, and goes to a station behind him. He taps something out, and waits.

“So, what're you folks doing here?”

“Just returning from Rokford,” You say, “Mission complete, and all that.”

“Yeah?” He asks, “You figured out what the hell was going on there?”

“We did,” You say, “You'll need to read about it, though. I can't say much.”

The guy whistles. “Not good, then?”

You nod. “Not good.”

“Damn. We were all hoping---”

A tapping interrupts the man's thoughts. He listens, and then nods. “Yeah, seems like it's working. That was the central office. Here,” He says, handing you some paper and a pencil, “Write down your message.”

You decide to use a rather high level cipher. In theory, only Guildmaster Yagokoro and her aids should be able to read it. You're not entirely sure how it works, but only they have the code to decrypt it. The message itself, decoded, ends up being:

'ROKFORD A RUSE. HOSTILE FORCES FROM MAKAI HAVE FOUND A FLAW IN THE BORDER. LARGE SCALE ASSAULT ON CAPITAL CITY IMMINENT. RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE RECALL OF ALL AGENTS. CODE VIOLET.

A.J.S.'

Of course, after the cypher is applied, it's all but gibberish. You'd like to put more in, but honestly, that should be enough. Issuing a code violet is enough to cost your job in almost every case. It's pretty much reserved for things like this.

After you finish encoding all that, you hand it over to the guy at the counter. “I need this sent to the Guildmaster's office.”

He gives it a suspicious look over. “Sure thing. I, uh, should probably forget I ever saw this, huh?”

“Probably for the best,” You shrug.

He taps away at the machine in the back for a while. “There,” He says, “That should do it. You expecting a response?”

You think for a moment. Are you? You've never sent out anything that urgent before. They'd probably send an acknowledgment, at least.

“Yeah,” You say, “Say, do you know if there's any other Guild agents in town?”

“Can't say that I do,” The man says, “I heard they were having some trouble south of here, though.”

You wait for five or six minutes, before you hear more tapping. The man swivels around, and begins writing. In a minute or so, he returns to the front counter with an almost-equally gibberish response. Decoded, it reads:

'ACKNOWLEDGED. AWAIT FURTHER ORDERS.

M.A.K.'

M.A.K.? Master's Aide... Konpaku? What would the Guildmaster's personal bodyguard be doing writing you a response to that? Quickly, you scribble out another coded letter.

'REQUESTING PERMISSION TO RETURN TO CAPITAL IMMEDIATELY, AS PER RECALL.

A.J.S.'

“Send this back,” You say, handing the man at the desk another letter.

“Most use this place has gotten a while,” He chuckles to himself, “Sure.”

Tap tap tap tap. Then, some more silence. Then, a response. The man hands it to you. This one is fairly simple to decode.

'DENIED. AWAIT FURTHER ORDERS.

M.A.K.'

… this feels rotten.

“Fuck,” You mutter under your breath. Did they already get the place? That's the only thing that comes to your head. The key should be secure, but... it would be easy enough to kill or steal one of those cypher kits.

You decide to bump the security up a notch, to Guildmaster eyes only level.

'REQUESTING STATUS AT CAPITAL OFFICE.

A.J.S.'

“Should be the last one,” You say, handing it to the man at the counter. “Sorry for all the trouble.”

“No problem,” He says, turning around to get to work. “You guys pay enough into my salary as it is.”

This one goes through. You wait. One minute, five minutes... ten minutes. There is no response. Your first thought is to assume the worst, but the second one... well, she's probably very busy. It could take a while to get a response from her.

[ ] Give it another ten minutes.
[ ] You need to get moving... now. Stuff is already going down.
>> No. 34796
[x] You need to get moving... now. Stuff is already going down.

Shit's already absolutely crazy, and we are late to the party. Besides, we need to go receive Yukari's message. She might have already foreseen something like this and tried to tell us.
>> No. 34797
[x] You need to get moving... now. Stuff is already going down.
Worst case scenario? Check.

Now would be a good time for Yukari to make an offer. Anything from, unsummoning demons to instant transportation to the capital would be welcome.
>> No. 34800
File 130809242395.jpg - (642.98KB , 720x800 , 17543846.jpg ) [iqdb]
34800
[x] Meet the cat youkai. Check back afterwards.

We can get shit done and wait at the same time.
>> No. 34802
[ ] Give it another ten minutes.
>> No. 34803
[x] Give it another ten minutes.
>> No. 34804
[x] You need to get moving... now. Stuff is already going down.
>> No. 34806
[x] Give it another ten minutes.
>> No. 34807
[x] Look for the messenger and then come back here and check
Ten minutes can't, realistically, make a difference. And wen can look for the messenger (which we were going to do anyway) to save time.
>> No. 34813
[x] Meet the cat youkai. Check back afterwards.

Its not like ten minutes will matter, right?
>> No. 34814
[X] Give it another ten minutes.

If shit's already gone down 10 minutes is not gonna make any sort of difference.
>> No. 34829
[x] You need to get moving... now. Stuff is already going down.

Choo choo.
>> No. 34839
Sorry, I got distracted by a game that wouldn't let me put it down until I hit the end. I'll have something tomorrow.
>> No. 34840
>>34839

Hooray!
>> No. 34841
>>34839
Which one?
>> No. 34843
[x] Give it another ten minutes.

No need to give up hope yet. Be cool. Things like this... well, they can't just call every agent back to the capital on a whim.

“Hey,” You say, getting the attention of the man at the desk. “Do you deliver? I've got a few other things to take care of.”

He shakes his head. “Nah. It's only me right now. Not until shift change in a few hours, at least.”

“Hum. Alright.”

The clock above the counter continues to tick away. Eleven, twelve...

“Why are we waiting so long?” Sakuya asks. “It seems like you would have received a response by now.”

“Can't expect the Guildmaster to get back right away,” You say, with a shrug, “She's a busy woman.”

“The Guildmaster?” Sakuya asks, “She responds to you directly?”

“What?” You laugh, “The hierarchy isn't as deep as you'd think. There's only one level between me and the Guildmaster.”

“Is that so?”

“My boss is great at filling out forms and putting together teams, but he's not much of a mage,” You say, with a shrug, “Above him, you've got the Guildmaster and her aides. This is definitely something that goes straight to the t---”

Tap taptaptap taptap tap taptap.

“See?” You say, “Everything is fine. I can still warn them.”

She scoffs. “It won't help. You will still be on the losing side.”

The man at the desk finishes writing out the letter, and sets it on the counter. “Your response.”

You take up the thing, and set to decoding it. It reads as follows:

'A.J.S., YOUR EARLIER MESSAGE HAS BEEN RECIEVED BUT NOT VERIFIED. AWAIT CONFIRMATION AND FURTHER ORDERS. IN THE EVENT OF A RECALL, WE WILL REQUEST FOR YOU TO CONTACT AGENTS ALONG YOUR RETURN ROUTE.

G.M.Y.'

“There's no time for this,” You mutter. This is something you should have seen coming, you guess. The Border does not fall. They'll want to have the diviners on-site look at it. Not that it'll do much good, seeing the kind of anti-scrying garbage Makai can pull.

Maybe, though, maybe they'll pull through. The best diviners in, well, maybe the entire world reside within those walls.

“Thanks,” You tell the man, after placing the paper in your pocket. “I might swing by later. Let me know if anything else comes in.”

“Got it,” He says, “Take care... uh, I never got your name.”

“Jack,” You answer, before turning back to Sakuya. “Well, let's head back. I've got a message to get.”

The walk back is about the same as the one here, minus the youkai hunting. Lots of looks, but no one bothers you at all as you make your way back.

Upon ariving, you see Marisa camped out near the passenger platform on a chair. You're not sure where she got it. When she notices you, she waves... after she gets over the idea of seeing Sakuya walking with you, that is.

“Yo!”

You wave back, but you're not really in the mood to shout. As you get close enough to speak normally, though, you answer back. “Hey. Get your coffee?”

“Actually, yeah,” She laughs, holding up the cup she's got in her hand. “You wouldn't believe what I had to do to get this. I had to buy it off of the owner of the local food joint for double what it would normally cost.”

“Is there any more?”

She motions to a rather beat-up looking metal pot nearby. There's also a few similarly beat up tin cups next to it. “Have at it... it's probably a bit cold, though. How'd the telegraph thing turn out? You were gone for a while.”

[ ] “Good. They're having us wait here while they work out what to do.”
[ ] “Badly. They're not taking me seriously.”
[ ] “... hell if I know.”
===============================================
>>34841
Blue Planet, a mod/set of campaigns for Freespace Open. Not only was it something fresh for my favorite game, but it's at least as good as the stock campaign.
>> No. 34844
File 13082590451.jpg - (222.64KB , 664x928 , Totally not suspicious.jpg ) [iqdb]
34844
[x] “Badly. They're not taking me seriously.”

Freespace? I would laugh at you if I weren't playing Sven Coop (a mod for half life, a game that came 12 years ago) right now
>> No. 34845
>>34844
Are you saying that people should be laughed at for playing old games? Is that really what you're saying?

[x] “... hell if I know.”
>> No. 34846
>>34845
Yes that's exactly what I'm saying, that's why I'm playing an old game myself
>> No. 34847
[x] “Good. They're having us wait here while they work out what to do.”

This wasting time is official. I cannot help but approve.
>> No. 34848
[x] “Badly. They're not taking me seriously.”
>> No. 34849
[X] “... hell if I know.”
>> No. 34850
[x] “... hell if I know.”
>> No. 34851
[x] “... hell if I know.”
>> No. 34852
[X] “Badly. They're not taking me seriously.”
>> No. 34853
[x] “... hell if I know.”

It's hard to tell how to take the message as it's very neutral.
>> No. 34854
[ ] “... hell if I know. Official boiler plate could be talking to a trained monkey for all it tells you."
>> No. 34856
[x] “Good. They're having us wait here while they work out what to do.”

If they were totally dismissive, they would have just recalled you for debriefing and Yagokoro wouldn't have answered personally.
>> No. 34858
>>34856
She took her time responding. Either she was busy, or discussed the message and decided he's mad.
They want him out of the capital and that's why he should go right now... and prepare for the worst.

[X] “Badly. They're not taking me seriously.”
>> No. 34859
>>34858
We're going to pick up other mages. Other mages with jobs. Jobs that they can't just walk away from without some serious, confirmed threat. That's what she's doing. Confirming the threat. That she's trying to is proof that she's taking him seriously.

But hey, Yukari is probably going to give us information that'll make this a moot point.
>> No. 34862
[x] “... hell if I know.”

“... hell if I know,” You say with a sigh, “They just sort of told me to wait around while being vague about the whole thing. Maybe they're blowing me off, or maybe they're actually thinking about it. I've got no idea.”

“You sent it straight to the top, right?” Marisa asks, with a laugh, “Those guys sure don't waste any words, do they?”

“Old man Konpaku was the one that answered me at first,” You say, “They must be really busy to have the body guards acting as secretaries.”

“Probably,” Marisa says, “What, with the diversion and all. How long do you think we're going to have to wait?”

“I'm... not sure,” You admit, taking a look around the trainyard while drinking your coffee. Yes, a little cold, but you guess that doesn't matter. As you look around, you spot... ah, that's probably the youkai you met earlier. She's peeking out from behind a building on the other side of the place.

“I'm not even sure if we're going to wait,” You admit, “Anyway, hold that thought. I've got to meet someone.”

“Who?” Marisa asks, following your gaze, “... oh, I see it. But who is that?”

“We met earlier, but I don't really know,” You say, with a shrug, “Guess I'll go find out.”

“Just yell if you need me to blow it up,” Marisa says, leaning back in her chair, “Oh, and don't make any deals.”

You just laugh. “Watch Sakuya for me, would you?”

Marisa turns her gaze to the maid, who's been silent up to this point. “Sure.”

With that taken care of, you make your way across the train yard, over towards the cat youkai. She notices you, but waits for you to come all the way over before starting.

“I remembered,” She says, when you reach her, “I remembered the message! Want to hear it?”

You give her a nod. “First of all, who is your boss?”

“Oh, actually it's my boss's boss,” She laughs, “Did I say boss before? Sorry. My boss is Ran. I'm Chen. The big boss is Yukari, she's the one with the message.”

“I figured as much,” You say, that chill feeling coming back. “What was the message?”

“Well... wait. What was it, again?”

She thinks for a moment more. “Right. It was 'Meet him here in a few hours and give him this message. Tell him that I'm busy, so he'll need to meet me in the capital if he wants something. Sooner is better. Oh, and tell him he needs to do me a favor.'”

“A favor?”

“Yep. 'He needs to owe me one.' Owe her one, I mean. Or more than one if you want a lot of things. And you need to give me a ride on your train!”

“... did you make that last part up?”

“Yeah,” She admits freely, “I need to go, too. And it's pretty far to run, so... that would be really nice. You are going, right? To the capital?”

“You know that youkai can't get into the capital, right?” Well, unless they're working for Makai, but that's beside the point. “It won't do you much good.”

“Oh, I can get in,” She says, with a smile. “Yukari got my name on the list. So, when are you leaving?”

[ ] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[ ] “Not for a few hours yet.”
[ ] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”

Also, choose one:
[ ] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
[ ] Don't take her along. That wouldn't go down well with pretty much anyone else you pick up... or Marisa.
>> No. 34863
[x] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”

May as well keep the plot going.

[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

Chen has been pretty cool with playing along with Steam's schemes. May as well pay her back.
>> No. 34866
[x] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
>> No. 34867
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
>> No. 34868
[x] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”
-[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

Chen's just the messenger, and not particularly strong at that. No harm in taking her along. However, Yukari's plots and dealings are only getting increasingly shadier. You never enter into any sort of contract with a premise as vague as "owing her one." She better have rock-solid terms prepared for our meeting, or that shit is getting vetoed immediately.
>> No. 34869
[X] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[X] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

We were told to await further orders. That simple.
>> No. 34871
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
>> No. 34872
[x] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”
-[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
She did played death so...
>> No. 34873
[x] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”
-[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
This is like being nice to Yukari by proxy.
>> No. 34874
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Don't take her along. That wouldn't go down well with pretty much anyone else you pick up... or Marisa.

Guildmates before youkai!
>> No. 34883
File 130839108353.jpg - (63.19KB , 500x592 , chen_buff.jpg ) [iqdb]
34883
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

Our duties and responsibilities are to the guild, first and foremost. Yukari knows everything, and she's in the city because she's already working against the invasion plot. She's probably not going to do anything massively different on the account of a deal with a single man from the Guild, and the terms are even more ambiguous than they were last time, when we had a more compelling reason to accept her immediate help.

Chen is help enough. Because Chen.
>> No. 34885
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
>> No. 34887
[x] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”
-[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
This is like being nice to Yukari by proxy.

This Chen is a bro.

Strange, for a cat.
>> No. 34890
[X] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[X] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

We already got the warning to the guild, and if they have a better use for us than reinforcements, we should be there instead of getting caught for breaking orders.

>>34874
>Guildmates before youkai!
And what about the guildmates who are youkai, hmm?
>> No. 34899
[x] “Not for a few hours yet.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
>>34890
Why, they're the most important of all.
>> No. 34903
[ ] “Actually, we're leaving in a few minutes.”
[ ] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

THe sooner, the better, Yukari said. This probably involves Makai's business, so we should go meet her ASAP.
>> No. 34906
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

No sign of coup happening, so there's no need to hurry.
>> No. 34907
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Take her along. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.
>> No. 34918
Well, I could finish writing this update, but something tells me that doing that while drunk wouldn't be wise. I'll have something tomorrow. Sorry for the delay.
>> No. 34919
>>34918
>I'll have something tomorrow.

Hooray!
>> No. 34924
[x] “I'm waiting on a message. It could be a whole day before we leave.”
[x] Accept request. No reason not to, and maybe this will count for something.

You think about that for a moment. A part of you wants to leave right away, but... no, you have faith in your leadership. A day sounds reasonable. Anything past that, and you probably won't hear from the capital until this whole thing is over.

“Well, you're welcome to come along if you want,” You offer, “It could be up to a day before we leave, though. I'm waiting on a message.”

“Really?” She asks, “That long? I could beat you there if went now.”

You shrug. “That's in the worst case. I'm not sure how long we'll actually be waiting.”

“Huh...”

“You're free to do what you want,” You say, “Just, uh, don't go back into this town.”

“Why?”

“They think you're dead, and I'd be in trouble if it turned out otherwise.”

“Oh, ok.”

“Oh, yeah. Can you send messages back to your big boss?” You ask, “I have something I'd like to tell her.”

“Only sometimes,” She says, “I have to sleep first. What?”

“Tell her that...” Hmm. How to phrase this so that this little youkai doesn't forget before the next time she goes to sleep? “... tell her that I'm not sure I want to owe her one. I want a job when I get there, if she can think of something.”

“Ok,” Chen says, “Got it. I can try.”

“Well,” You say, taking a few steps back. “I'll see you later. Probably.”

“Uh huh,” Chen says, “Don't wait too hard.”

Don't... what? You chuckle, and turn towards Marisa and company. “You too, I think.”

Chen heads back into the shadows, to do whatever it is that cats do when they're waiting. You head back across the train yard, towards Marisa and Sakuya. They seem to be pretty much ignoring each other, with Marisa looking in your direction and Sakuya looking back into the town.

“So, who's soul did you sell?” Marisa asks, when you make it back over within speaking range, “You look almost upbeat.”

You laugh. “Ever meet a feral youkai that wasn't trying to rip your head off?”

“Huh? No,” Marisa says, “Why?”

“They're pretty hilarious,” You say, “Got an extra seat somewhere?”

“Yeah,” Marisa says, motioning towards something resembling a ticket booth. “Just go grab one from in there. I think they're closed. What was the message, anyway?”

[ ] “Nothing important. It just wanted a ride.”
[ ] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”
[ ] Write-in.
>> No. 34925
[x] “Nothing important. It just wanted a ride."

Eh. She didn't say anything important. No need to worry Marisa.
>> No. 34926
[ ] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Said shes in the capital already.”

Thats more important then any 'deal'.
>> No. 34928
[X] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”
>> No. 34929
[X] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”
>> No. 34936
[X] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”
>> No. 34949
[x] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”
>> No. 34951
[x] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”

Our comrades opinion is of the utmost concern for us. Even when she is likely to disagree. Violently, at that.
>> No. 34957
[x] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Said shes in the capital already.”
>> No. 34958
[x] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Said shes in the capital already.”
1 day wait? goddammit what the fuck where you guys thinking?
>> No. 34959
>“Uh huh,” Chen says, “Don't wait too hard.”

Take luck and care!

[x] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Said she's in the capital already.”
>> No. 34972
>>34958
Obeying orders. IF we went running off against them and it turned out to be nothing, Jack and Co. would be in some trouble.
>> No. 34975
>>34972
Guild agents are allowed to act with some manner of discretion. Did you miss the part where we were under no orders to brutally murder everyone in Remilia's flat, yet did so anyways to end the threat?

Besides, I'm sure Yagokoro would understand provided the context.
>> No. 34978
>>34975
We didn't kill everyone though, just look at Sakuya.
>> No. 34983
[x] “Yukari Yakumo sent her. Seems she might have another deal for us.”

You give her a grim laugh, after retrieving a chair for yourself. “Yukari Yakumo sent the message. It sounds like she might have some suitably ambiguous deal waiting for us in the capital.”

“Ugh,” Marisa says, “Don't say that name. Seriously? Can't she find someone else?”

“Well, Patchouli and I were entertaining the idea of contacting her again last night,” You say, “I guess she heard us.”

“Remember our talk?” Marisa asks. She's trying to sound good-natured, and says it with a laugh, but... there's a hint of anger in there, too. “I wasn't kidding when I said I'd blast you if you tried to do something horrible.”

“Hey,” You say, “I didn't make the deal yet. She tried to get me to owe her one, but I said I'd be having none of that. Besides, if it's not that bad...”

“... alright,” Marisa says, “I expect to be there when you meet up with her, though.”

“If,” You correct, “I'm still not sure if I'm up to it. Oh yeah, and the cat wanted a ride. She wants to meet up with... can I say it now?”

“No,” Marisa laughs, “No way. She might send you another message or something.”

You reline back in your seat. Really, this isn't bad. If you had to dole out tickets all day, this is probably the best thing you could hope for. “That's fine with you, then?”

“Hey, if she's got a right to get in the capital, that's fine,” Marisa says, “I didn't know they gave feral youkai like that permissions, though.”

“I guess she-who-shall-not-be-named pulled some strings,” You shrug, “Or maybe she's the one who actually adds names to the list? Who knows.”

“Yeah, who knows,” Marisa says. “So, did you decide when we're going to leave yet?”

“We'll wait for orders,” You say, “Or for the lines to go dead, or for a day to pass. Whichever comes first.”

“... huh,” Marisa says, “I figured you'd just rush in. What, with us leaving in the dead of night and everything.”

“They know about the threat now,” You say, “We left when we did so I could warn them. That, and they probably know better than I do about how to deal with it.”

“Well,” Marisa says, raising her cheap tin cup to you, “To our leadership, eh? Hopefully they know what they're doing.”

You laugh, raising your empty one towards hers. “Yeah.”

And, for the first time in a few days, the mantle of leadership is lifted off of your shoulders. None of the decisions right now rely on you. It's a good feeling.

“It's amazing that this Guild of yours works at all,” Sakuya notes, breaking the silence, “Truly amazing.”

Marisa bursts out laughing, and you follow. “Nah, we're just misfits,” Marisa finally says, after calming down enough to speak. “Jack's a terrible example of a normal mission leader.”

“What?” You laugh, “Come on, I've never failed a mission.”

“Come pretty close a few times,” Marisa grins, “I guess you're pretty good at pulling plans out of your ass, though. That's why I'm kind of surprised that we're waiting here.”

“I don't think I could pull a 'beat back the legions of Makai' plan out of my ass in a day,” You say, “Well, maybe if I could still do some divination.”

“How about some cards?” She asks, “Let's see if you can pull a 'beat Marisa' plan out of your ass, as long as we're waiting.”

[ ] Pass time at WARP SPEED (a paragraph).
[ ] Pass time at fast speed (an update).
[ ] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).
================================================
I'm not really sure if this banter is interesting or not, so let me know how long I should spend on it before getting back to the regularly scheduled program.
>> No. 34984
[X] Pass time at WARP SPEED (a paragraph).
The banter seems good enough. I just really wanna see about this invasion and the capital in general.
>> No. 34985
[x] Pass time at fast speed (an update)

I can never have enough banter, but it'd be nice if some of that banter could happen while the plot is advancing.
>> No. 34986
[x] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).
>> No. 34988
[ ] Pass time at POST-LIGHT SPEED (a line).
>> No. 34991
[x] Pass time at WARP SPEED (a paragraph).
>> No. 34992
[x] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).

Flesh out them characters.
>> No. 34993
[x] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).
>> No. 34994
[ ] Pass time at fast speed (an update).
>> No. 34995
[x] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).

I'm loving it.
>> No. 34996
[x] Pass time at WARP SPEED (a paragraph).
No option to nullify the 'wait a whole day' bullcrap? Oh well.
>> No. 34999
[x] Pass time at fast speed (an update)

I love banter, but I know not everyone else does, so compromise.
>> No. 35000
[X] Pass time at POST-LIGHT SPEED (a line).
>> No. 35001
>>35000
[x] Pass time at ludicrous speed (just one word)

Not a serious vote
>> No. 35003
[X] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).
>> No. 35004
[x] Pass time at normal speed (a few updates).

“Sure,” You say, “No money this time, though. I can't afford to lose much more, and something tells me tacking it on the Guild account isn't a good idea.”

“Hmm, alright,” She says, “It's a bit boring that way, but whatever. You wanna go grab the deck and a table out of the train?”

“We can just use one of those for a table,” You say, motioning towards a small pile of crates nearby, “I can go grab the deck though.” You take a few steps towards the train, and realize that you're quite hungry. “Hey, did you eat yet? I can grab you something.”

“I picked up something when I got my coffee,” Marisa says, “I thought that we could make our stockpiled food last longer that way.”

“Ah... good idea. Where's it at?”

“Eh, I can just show you,” Marisa says, “It's just down the road a ways.”

“I'll go grab the deck,” You say, “Then you can show me.”

“Sounds good.”

You make your way on-board your sorry excuse for a passenger train, and head for the first cabin. Quietly, you open the door. Ah... that's right. Patchouli said she was going to take a nap, didn't she? You notice her lying down where you were sitting last night, with a light blanket thrown over her and her small posse of koakuma on the opposite side.

They note you, and whisper a bit to each other, but don't make much noise otherwise. You do the same. Marisa's bag is lying open nearby, and you can see the bottle from last night sticking out of it, so you peek inside. It's not on the top, but instead lying underneath a... ah, you recognize this. It's a notebook she was scribbling away in a few nights ago.

Well, you decide to leave it be. You place the book back where it was, set the cards in one of your pockets, and leave as quietly as you came. Another successful mission.

As you leave, you catch another glimpse of that cat, sitting off in the shadows asleep. For a moment you consider inviting it to join your game, but... no, there's basic math involved. It'd probably be too difficult for the poor thing.

“Found it,” You say, after making your way back towards Marisa. “So, about that food...”

“Yeah,” Marisa nods, setting her cup down. “Let's go.”

“I would like to stay here,” Sakuya states, “Outside, if possible.”

[ ] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.
[ ] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.
>> No. 35005
[X] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.

Just need to make sure they keep it low-key.
>> No. 35007
[x] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.
Sakuya can leave when he wants, I just hope she doesn't want to...
>> No. 35009
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.

That she would even dare ask us is a clear sign of our lax treatment. She is a prisoner, and will do whatever the fuck we decide. You can only cut so much slack before she takes advantage. Also, I'm sad that poor Chen doesn't get to play cards with us.
>> No. 35011
[x] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.

She doesn't want to escape so there's no harm.
>> No. 35012
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.
>> No. 35013
[x] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.

I hope the koa don't make a ruckus.
>> No. 35023
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.

Yeah no.
>> No. 35026
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.
>> No. 35027
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.
>> No. 35028
[x] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.
>> No. 35035
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.
>> No. 35043
[x] You think not. She'll need to come with you, or stay inside the train.

I don't think she's a flight risk, but I also don't want her arranging some kind of deal with Yukari through Chen while our back is turned.
>> No. 35044
>>35043
I doubt Sakuya would try any backstabbing at this point as without her mistresses, she has no real drive to do anything. It's also why Jack is trying to talk her into joining the Guild, putting her talents to good use.
>> No. 35045
[x] … it should be fine if you let the koakuma outside. There aren't many people out on this side of town.

“ … hmm. I guess we could arrange that,” You say, looking back to the train. Yeah. As long as the koakuma don't go crazy, it should be fine to pull them out to watch her. She's not much of a flight risk without her watch, either. “You'll stay put, right? I'd much rather come back to play cards than have to hunt you down again.”

“It would be foolish to try,” She says, “There is nowhere to run.”

“Right. Well, I'll still need to have the koakuma watch you.”

Quickly, you head back to the train and recruit three of them. They take up positions in dark corners and small objects nearby.

“Do you want anything to eat?” You ask Sakuya, “I could bring some back for you.”

“I am not hungry.”

You shrug. “Suit yourself.”

“Can we go yet?” Marisa calls out, already standing out on the street, “You're so slow, Jack.”

With a laugh, you hurry after her. “Sorry, sorry.”

“Anyway, it's only a few blocks this way,” Marisa says, after you catch up with her a bit from the station.

“Ah, I see. Why not just point it out, then?”

“Because,” She says, “I wanted to talk with you without that maid peering over our shoulder.”

“About?”

“Well, a few things,” She says, “Don't you think you're being a little, uh... nice?”

“Jealous?” You ask, with a bit of a wicked grin. Turning to her, though, you see she's not kidding. “Oh, sorry. You're being serious.”

“Yeah,” She says, “It's really jarring. She's an enemy, in case you forgot.”

“Was,” You correct, “I'm not sure what she is now. Devoted as she is, she wouldn't have tried to kill herself if she still had something left to take care of.”

“Hmph... maybe,” She says, “I'm going to be pissed if I end up with one of her knives in my back, though. Just saying. Is that a schizist thing?”

“What?”

“Not holding grudges,” She chuckles, “I guess when you're flipping schools all the time, flipping an opinion is no big deal.”

“I think that's just me,” You shrug, “It's easier to make better decisions that way. Here's my angle: treating her like dirt and forcing her to stay in a dirty passenger cabin all day, brooding, well... that's probably more risky, don't you think?”

Marisa pauses for a moment. “... huh. Yeah, who knows what sorts of---”

Then, she laughs a bit. You turn towards her. “What's so funny?”

“Well, it's not funny funny,” She says, “I was just going to say 'who knows what sorts of things the devil might whisper in her ear'. Never thought I'd have to add literally after that.”

You nod. “I'll be careful, but for now, I don't think there's a risk.”

“Roger,” She says, “And... you're sure that you want to just wait around like this? I know you said it was fine, but...”

“I meant what I said,” You say, “the guildmaster probably knows what she's doing. If I had to guess, I'd say that they have us in mind for a flanking force. The idea isn't bad. It'd be a a lot easier to break a sieging army from the outside than it would be from inside the city.”

“I wonder who else is in the region?” Marisa asks, “I'm not really in touch with things right now.”

“Good question,” You say, “I'm not sure myself. Guess we'll find out, won't we?”

“Well, I hope someone can loan us a different train,” Marisa sighs, “I guess we could all pack in like sardines, but that's going to suck if it comes to that.”

You laugh. “Yeah. This place seems pretty bare, so we won't be getting any help here.”

“They, uh... well, you know all those busted up engines outside Rokford's station?” Marisa asks, “One of those was theirs. They sent it up to market before they knew what went down.”

Without any kind of response to that, you just remain silent. Not much to say to that.

“Oh, there it is,” Marisa points out, “Come on.”

There's a ring from the door as you enter. The shop itself is very... well, there's not much to it. It's pretty clear that this is just a house that someone decided to serve food out of. In not more than a minute, however, someone appears to greet you. An older woman, perhaps in her mid 40s.

“Ah, Marisa,” She says, smiling towards the witch, “Back so soon? Who's that with you?”

Marisa laughs. “Turns out I'm not the only one that needs to eat. This is Jack.”

You give her a nod. And, before you can speak, the woman speaks up again. “Jack, hm? I'm Greta. What can I get you?”

Greta... hmm. You're not sure what to make of the name. It's definitely odd for someone in the empire. “What do you have?”

“I'll go get you a menu,” She says enthusiastically, “Just take a seat anywhere.”

The old woman hurries off into another room, while you make your way over to a table. “You two know each other?” You ask Marisa, who takes a seat across from you.

She laughs. “Nah, just met her today. We hit it off pretty well, though.”

“Huh.”

It doesn't take very long for the woman to return. “Here ya are,” She says, placing a menu in front of both of you. “Can I get you anything right away?”

“Water would be good,” You say, “Thanks.”

“Sure. I'll be right back.”

You open the menu, and find a lot of soups and game meat. The prices aren't too bad, either. Ah, and quite a selection of bread. You wonder...

[ ] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.
[ ] Just get something for... whatever meal this is.
===============================================
>>35035
>>35043
Ah... sorry. I started writing with >>35028 and flipped a coin when it was tied. Didn't see these until I finished writing, and, at that point, it seemed like a waste to erase it. If you want to call me out on it, I'll retcon some stuff tomorrow.
>> No. 35046
[x] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.
>> No. 35047
[x] Just get something for... whatever meal this is.

Fuck logistics. If they wanted to eat, they should have brought their own damn food. Or conjure some. Mages can do that right?
>> No. 35051
[x] Just get something for... whatever meal this is.

I'm sure Patchy has her own ways of fending for herself and her koarmy
>> No. 35054
>>35051
I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be for any other Guild agents we might pick up on our way to the capital, not just Patchouli and the Koas.
>> No. 35055
[x] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.

Why not? After all, it is all in the Guild's expenses, or will be.
>> No. 35058
[x] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.

Jack has some weird ideas about imprisonment.

Now, the Capitol will probably be under siege soon. It would only be beneficial if we had the foresight to bring along any manner of foodstuff. Even if it's only a little, it'll help.
>> No. 35065
[x] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.

On the second thought, we are transporting using a train, why not use its cargo capacity to the fullest.
>> No. 35072
[x] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.
>> No. 35074
I had to cram for an exam last night, so I'm running on around 5 hours of sleep and don't really feel like writing today. I'll update tomorrow.
>> No. 35077
[ ] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.
>> No. 35081
>>35074

Hooray!
>> No. 35126
[x] See if you can't work out a deal to buy some in bulk. You can't feed an army on bread alone, but it certainly helps.
[ ] Just get something for... whatever meal this is.

First, you pick something out for yourself. Some fried sausage and cabbage, with some potatoes on the sides. A hearty, country meal to lift your spirits. A sandwich would probably do it, but you decide to treat yourself today.

Eventually, your host returns. “Here you go. Decide what you want yet?”

“I'll have the fried sausage and cabbage,” You say, pointing to the menu item you've decided on, “And... I was wondering if I could purchase some of your bread in bulk.”

“Huh?” She asks, “Can't say I've ever had someone order that before.”

“I'm looking for about two dozen loaves of various kinds,” You say, doing your best to do some quick math in your head. Stockpile a bit here, a bit there... and, in the end, you should make it to the capital with some extra. “How long would that take?”

“A while,” She says, “I'm not sure how fast I can go. When do you need it by?”

“I'm not sure,” You say, with a faint grin, “Not sure how fast my orders will come in. About a day at the latest.”

The negotiations go on for a while – this woman knows how to haggle. Eventually, you agree a discounted rate for loaves on the condition that you pay for them even if they're not actually finished when you need them. She's confident that she won't be able to make them all in one run, so that's just how it'll have to be. Reasonable, you suppose, considering this isn't a bakery or anything. And the price isn't bad, regardless if you get them all or not.

Marisa, remarkably, keeps quiet during the whole thin. She wears a stupid grin, but doesn't say a word.

“Well,” The cook finally says about the arrangement, “I think we can agree that this is fair, right?”

You nod. “Fair. Almost to an unnatural amount. You're a terrifying woman to make a deal with.”

She laughs, a deep, hearty laugh. “Thanks. You have to be to stay in business out here. You wouldn't believe what you city folks usually try to charge for basic goods. Anyway, good doing business with you. I'll have your meal in a bit.”

Greta leaves for the kitchen, leaving you and Marisa alone.

“Told you,” Marisa says, still wearing that grin, “She's a beast to deal with.”

You lean back in your chair. “Yeah... I actually feel weak. Dealing with those demon sisters was easier.”

“Well,” She says, “You know the reputation imperial traders have. She's got a point.”

You nod. “Still, that was brutal.”

“So,” Marisa says, “I suppose now's a good time to catch up on stuff, huh?”

“Stuff?”

“I haven't seen you in two years,” She says, “I mean, I check in every 6 months, but you're usually gone on assignment.”

“Yeah,” You say, “Ever since I ended up as a team lead, I've been even more busy than normal. Lots of little things to do. The empire certainly has no shortage of bizarre mysteries to solve, either.”

“So, nothing's changed?”

“Not much,” You laugh, “I've gotten a few new schools under my belt since then, but... hey, I've been meaning to ask. Why a bodyguard?”

A grin crosses her face. “What do you mean?”

“You're better suited to blowing things up,” You shrug, “I can't imagine you see much action as a guard.”

“Ah,” She laughs, “You'd be surprised. Kourin there had a neon target painted on his head.”

“Yeah?”

“I guess he was into some real shady stuff in the past. He's out now, but... well, not forgotten, I guess. Some of his old 'friends' still want to have him whacked. Seems like every month or so someone shows up to try and take him out.”

“Really? He seems to... I don't know, normal.”

“He's a half-youkai, actually,” Marisa says, “He doesn't really talk about it, but I guess he's pretty brutal in close combat.”

“Huh.”

“That's not why, though,” Marisa says, with a shrug, “I dunno, I just kind of wanted to try something different for a while. Variety is the spice of life, you know. I almost became a lead, but, well, the paperwork seems like a pain in the ass.”

“Oh, it is,” You laugh, “Worth it, though. I get to order guys like you around.”

The banter continues on through linner, or whatever you'd normally call a meal had at 3:30. The meal is about as you expected – delicious. It's been a while since you've had a dish like this, and it manages to really hit the spot.

After the meal, Greta tries to haggle with you once again. You barely manage to fend her off, quickly pay, and excuse yourself.
================================================
... and then, I slept in, which I think makes me really unfocused for the entire day. Or something. Either way, this is all I got done. It's about as long as a normal update, and I think it's going to be a while before I get to a real choice, so I figured I'd give you something to read while I work on it.
>> No. 35127
>It's about as long as a normal update, and I think it's going to be a while before I get to a real choice, so I figured I'd give you something to read while I work on it.

Hooray!
>> No. 35188
Hmm.

Well, I was hoping to get through this side bit before I needed to take another break. There are things that I can/can't do right now that will shape later events, however, and I want to make sure I pick the best option.

At the latest, I'll have an update Thursday; that should be more than enough time to get things in order. Sorry for the delay.
>> No. 35193
>>35051
>her koarmy
I hnnnngggghed a bit

>>35188
Well, we'll be waiting warmly.
>> No. 35200
>>35188
>At the latest, I'll have an update Thursday; that should be more than enough time to get things in order.

Hooray!
>> No. 35261
The two of you manage to maintain a straight face for about a block, but then the laughter starts.

“We might have bigger problems than Makai,” You offer, “I wonder if we should set up a defensive perimeter tonight to fend her off?”

“Maybe,” Marisa nods, grinning, “She seems pretty determined to get a better deal.”

You nod sagely. “Well, maybe we can just lock up the train and barricade the doors. That might do it.”

Upon returning to the station, you find exactly what you expected to see. An old train, a few chairs... and no signs of life besides your prisoner. From the road, you can't see the koakuma at all, and Patchouli is either still napping or on board the train.

A part of you wants to point out to Marisa how everything is fine, just as you said. But, you decide against it. No need to gloat.

Sakuya at least acknowledges you with a small nod when you make your way up to the boarding platform. She seems... a bit less distant than she did when you left originally. More grounded. Whether or not that's a good thing remains to be seen. You'll need to keep an eye on her.

Upon taking your seat, you look around for the koakuma. It takes a little bit, but you do finally manage to spot one up near the roof. Or, at least, you think you do. A second look shows that it's not there, the stealthy little bugger.

“You're free to... well, head back on the train,” You say, speaking towards where you saw it, “Or you can stick around and stay out of sight, I suppose.”

Marisa seems confused. “Huh? Who're you talking to?”

“The koakuma,” You say, scanning the ceiling for another glimpse of one. It's fruitless, though.

“Ah,” She nods, also taking a look around. “So, you want to play now?”

You shrug, and feel around in your coat for the deck. “Sure. Pull that crate over here.”

Cards goes... about as you'd expect, seeing as most of the games she comes up with are unfamiliar to you. There's enough variety to keep you interested, even though you lose almost every single one. Sakuya switches between watching you two and watching the town, but doesn't make any comments.

At some point, after losing some strange game that Marisa claims is from the south, you notice that Patchouli has decided to join your little group camping the station.

“... so, yeah,” You say, wrapping up your story to fill her in, “Then I went to get something to eat, and ordered a bunch of bread.”

“Interesting,” Patchouli notes, “Then, we intend to wait for orders?”

You nod. “Yeah. Actually... I should probably go see if they came in by now. Getting beat is hard work.”

Marisa laughs. “Oh come on, don't run away~”

“I'll be back,” You say, “Patchouli, why don't you step in for me?”

“... certainly.”

Marisa's smile fades a bit into something more... dangerous. “Ready for a rematch? You beat me pretty hard last night, but I'm feeling lucky today.”

You step out, in either case. These three will be fine on their own.

This time, you take yet another route to the telegraph office. It's probably close to the shortest one – you do very little turning, following a straight line unless it leads through private property.

“Sorry,” The clerk, a new one, says when you ask about letters for Jack, “We haven't had anything come in.”

Part of you realizes that this probably isn't the best way to do this. Running down here every few hours isn't ideal, and could leave you behind schedule if it manages to come in a few minutes after you check.

[ ] See if you can't find this man some part time help. Someone's got to be willing to sit here all night for a bit of cash.
[ ] You'll just need to stay. After letting the others know about your plan, and grabbing a good book, of course.
[ ] Maybe someone else would be willing to sit here all night.
[ ] Write-in.
>> No. 35262
[x] Ask Patchouli if she can send a koakuma to relay any messages that come in.

As there'll be plenty of people at the train to watch Sakuya.

The only issues I can see with this I can see is Yukari coopting it again, or if it disturbs the clerk, though it seems they can be pretty discreet if necessary.
>> No. 35263
[x] Maybe someone else would be willing to sit here all night.

Sakuyaaaaaaaaa we have a joooooooob for you!
>> No. 35264
[x] See if you can't find this man some part time help. Someone's got to be willing to sit here all night for a bit of cash.
>> No. 35265
[x] Give up and head to HQ
>> No. 35267
[x] Ask if this man would be willing to send a runner for you if you get a message.

Easy as pie. Just mention there will be a bit of money in it for him, and he'll acquiesce soon enough.
>> No. 35269
>>35267
He has no runner. That's why there is this option:
[x] See if you can't find this man some part time help. Someone's got to be willing to sit here all night for a bit of cash.
>> No. 35273
[X] See if you can't find this man some part time help. Someone's got to be willing to sit here all night for a bit of cash.
>> No. 35284
File 130958465021.jpg - (39.33KB , 600x404 , cornish-pasty_e7JPG_69.jpg ) [iqdb]
35284
Turns out that this weekend is a local festival thing. I'll try to update tomorrow night, but it might take until Sunday morning. Pic related, it's a pasty, and this weekend is pastyfest.
>> No. 35285
>>35284

Hooray!
>> No. 35296
[x] See if you can't find this man some part time help. Someone's got to be willing to sit here all night for a bit of cash.

“And you're sure you can't deliver it when it comes in?”

The clerk gives you a nod. “'Fraid not. You'll need to wait here if you're waiting for something. We don't have the money to pay a courier.”

“Hmm... well,” You say, “I'll send my own courier over in a little while, then. You can release the message to them.”

The man takes a quick glance at your badge before speaking. “Sure. That works for me.”

“Right, then. Have a good night.”

The man wishes you the same as you head out into the evening. It's not that close to dark yet, but it's certainly getting there.

On the way back, you find one of those kids that you ran into earlier. Instead of running for the police, however, he's busy kicking a rock down the street. You offer him a reasonable salary, and send him on his way. Not the best help one could ask for, but he seems eager enough to earn some extra spending money.

“Hey, what took you?” Marisa asks, when you finally make it back to the station, “Did we get anything?”

You shake your head, surveying the game as you speak. It's difficult to tell who's winning right now. Patchouli's so utterly unconcerned with the game that she's somehow managing to read at the same time, but Marisa's face is hard to read. “Not yet. I hired some kid to run the message over here when it comes in, though.”

“All night?” Marisa asks, still looking at her current hand.

“Yeah. I didn't really want to sleep in a chair at the telegraph office, and I didn't figure any of you wanted to either.”

“Eh, I've slept in worse,” Marisa says, “Poor kid. You paid him well, yeah?”

“Well enough,” You say, “How's the game going?”

“Patchouli's kicking my butt,” Marisa sighs, “She's picking up all these new games way too fast. I think we're just going to move on to my specialty so I'll have a fighting chance again.”

“They aren't difficult games,” Patchouli says, sounding almost a little defensive. “Is your specialty two player?”

“Eh, we can do it with three,” Marisa laughs, “Might be more fun that way. You and I can duke it out while Jack struggles to keep up.”

“Hey,” You say, “I'm getting better. Maybe I'll surprise you.”

The rest of the night is a lot like this. It gets dark in a few hours, and ends up being a fairly standard autumn night. Cold, clear, and quiet. The only thing of note is a faint aurora. It's been a while since you've seen one of those, and it almost makes up for losing nearly every card game.

You and Marisa end up turning in around midnight, while Patchouli goes back to that demonology book she was reading last night. You're woken up in the morning by a few different things – roosters, an incredibly squeeky carriage, and finally, a loud knocking on the outside of the train.

There's no window to look out of, so you instead go outside to see what it is.

“Hey! Are we leaving yet?”

It's Chen. She seems a bit more... uneasy than you remember. She's fidgeting a bit, and one of her ears seems to be twitching a bit more than seems normal.

“What? I said I'd call you when we were leaving, right?”

“Yeah,” She says, “But--”

“Youkai!”

And it seems that she's picked a very bad time to visit. Your courier has arrived... and now it looks like he's leaving as fast as his legs can carry him. And, if the paper in his hand is any indication, he has your orders.

“Hey, come back!”

You take off after him. The chase doesn't last long, since he slows down once he notices who exactly is chasing him, but the two of you still end up a little ways from the station.

“It's back,” He says, looking towards the youkai. It seems that it didn't have enough sense to hide, and is now just watching the two of you. “Didn't you kill it?”

[ ] “That's just a ghost.”
[ ] “Actually, I didn't. It's not that bad.”
[ ] “It came back to life. I was just about to kill it again.”
[ ] Write-in.
>> No. 35297
>[ ] Write-in.

[x] "I bent it to my will, and it's my shikigami now. It won't attack you."

A magician having a youkai servant is plausible I think. Chen is hopefully smart enough to play along now after doing so this afternoon.

I also think this will get Chen to tell us a little bit more about herself later, specifically who she's actually a shikigami of.
>> No. 35299
[x] "I broke it's will. It won't attack anyone now."

Original write in doesn't say "Don't fear it", it says "Fear me instead."
>> No. 35303
[x] "I bent it to my will, and it's my shikigami now. It won't attack you."

This seems like a reasonable idea.
>> No. 35304
[x] "I bent it to my will, and it's my shikigami now. It won't attack you."

Jack's pretty baller, to steal a shikigami from the gap bitch.
>> No. 35308
[x] “It came back to life. I was just about to kill it again.”

Why do you guys want to get a rep as a youkai wizard? Nobody trusts a youkai wizard. We should stage another nice, safe playfight instead.
>> No. 35313
[ ] “It came back to life. I was just about to kill it again.”
>> No. 35314
[x] "I bent it to my will, and it's my shikigami now. It won't attack you."

What could possibly go wrong?
>> No. 35316
[x] "I broke it's will. It won't attack anyone now."

Wow... seeing so many people vote for the other option. I thought this was /others/, not /th/
>> No. 35317
[x] "I broke it's will. It won't attack anyone now."
>> No. 35318
>>35316
>my choice > your choice

Fuck off faggot
>> No. 35320
[x] "I bent it to my will, and it's my shikigami now. It won't attack you."
>> No. 35326
[x] "I broke it's will. It won't attack anyone now."
>> No. 35332
[x] "I broke it's will. It won't attack anyone now."
>> No. 35333
>>35308
>Why do you guys want to get a rep as a youkai wizard? Nobody trusts a youkai wizard

Where are you getting this 'youkai wizard' thing from? Do you even know what 'shikigami' means? I'll give you a hint: Taking one is not a practice limited to youkai.

>>35316
>Wow... seeing so many people vote for the other option. I thought this was /others/, not /th/

Apparently I'm an idiot for choosing the option that uses apostrophes correctly.
>> No. 35349
[x] “It came back to life. I was just about to kill it again.”
We can make a hobby out of this.
>> No. 35350
[x] "I bent it to my will, and it's my shikigami now. It won't attack you."
>> No. 35357
Since this thread is in autosage, see >>35356