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36554 No. 36554
[x] No. If you want to break Makai's back, you'll need to gather as many straws as you can.
[ ] Actually... she might be right. A few hours may not be worth the extra firepower.

“No,” You say, simply “I was told to bring you back to the capital with me, and that's what I intend to do. Getting back as early as possible isn't our priority.”

“Heh,” She says, turning back to her table, “Come on, don't put it like that. It makes me seem like the bad guy here. Still, though, I appreciate the help.”

“Do you have any clue at all as to where we should start?” You ask, “Aside from 'outside of town', of course.”

“In the gnashing fangs, she...” Makoto pauses, to let out a big yawn, “... she waits. That's where she is. I don't get it, though.”

The yawn is catchy, and you find yourself yawning shortly after as well. Kyou, too.

“If you're tired,” Rikako says, “I've got something that'll pep you up. Statistically, it's not good for you to go into combat tired like that.”

“I'm not much of a combatant,” You chuckle, “I'll be fine, I think.”

“No?” She asks, “Well, me either, I guess.”

“Do you have a topographical map of the area?” Patchouli asks, “Perhaps we should plan a proper route before searching.”

“I don't even think they've surveyed this area properly,” Rikako sighs, bending over to reach under her table, “I've got a few maps, but nothing all that detailed. Here.”

She spreads them out on a second table, one not completely filled with various glass tubes and strange apparatuses. Basically, the town is a lot like one would expect from a town like this. The immediate surrounding area is mostly cropland; there's no real industry here. Beyond that, you've got sparse forests and a few swamps.

The two initiates stay out of your way during all of this, instead opting to watch you both silently. Heh. It brings back a bit of nostalgia, to back when you were new. Tewi watches, too, but you think she's got completely different reasoning behind it.

'Gnashing Teeth', your group decided, probably doesn't relate to anything you'd find on a farm.

“Seer,” Patchouli finally says, after you all sit around scratching your heads for a while, “May I ask some other questions?”

Makoto simply nods.

“What are these teeth made of?”

“Don't know.”

“Wood? Stone? Metal?”

“Don't know.”

“Are they not made of metal?”

“D... they aren't,” He says, a small smile showing up on his face. “They aren't made of stone, either.”

It takes a few minutes, but Patchouli seems to know the answers to ask to get the right answers. Good. Makes sense, too. You've heard that divination is a fairly cryptic art – the actual act of divining something isn't difficult. The difficulty in divination comes with figuring out what the answer really means within a reasonable amount of time, and using various other 'tricks' to get things done.

By now, Kyou and Tewi have started talking to each other off in the corner. About what, you don't know. Nothing too crazy, you hope.

Eventually, you start asking your own questions, filling in what gaps Patchouli leaves with hers. Both of you together manage to narrow down the search area fairly quickly to a band of swamp a mile or so east of the city. It would take a long time to search on foot, but not with divination.

“This should be a sufficiently small area,” Patchouli says, satisfied with the area, “Yes?”

“Yeah,” You say, “This'll help quite a bit.”

[ ] Have the new members join you. No other changes to team makeup.
[ ] Change things up a bit (write-in).
================================================
I'll say in advance that I won't be updating tomorrow, because I need to do homework that I've been putting off all weekend.

>> No. 36561
[x] Have the new members join you. Pick up Marisa. Drop off Tewi if she wants.

We need more firepower. And Tewi might not want to go to a swamp.
>> No. 36562
[x] Have the new members join you. No other changes to team makeup.

We need to do this as quickly as possible, so we should only take more time to meet up with the others if it would substantially change our group composition.
>> No. 36572
[x] Have the new members join you. Pick up Marisa. Drop off Tewi if she wants.
Let's rush this up
>> No. 36574
[x] Have the new members join you. No other changes to team makeup.
>> No. 36583
[X] Take
-[x]Patchouli, Sakuya, & new members

Hmm...
>> No. 36585
[ ] Have the new members join you. No other changes to team makeup.
>> No. 36593
Or today, because I'm really bad at managing time. I'll update tomorrow.
>> No. 36594
>>36593

Hooray!
>> No. 36596
[x] Have the new members join you. No other changes.

“Can we count on you three to join us?” You ask, “Numbers will certainly help here.”

“I will go,” Makoto says, close to immediately, “As I'm needed.”

“I, uh,” Rikako pauses, fiddling with something on her workbench, “Hold on a sec.”

You look over towards Tewi and Kyou, still talking in the corner. Tewi gives you a dismissive 'wait a second' wave, so you do just that.

“There we go,” The scientist says, once again turning around, “Yeah, I might as well go. Let's try not to get into any heavy combat, though, alright?”

“Not well suited for it?” You ask.

“Well,” She says, “I've got to whip up whatever I use beforehand. If I'm going to be any help later, I can't be throwing all my acid vials at once.”

“Ah,” You say, “Then, you've got the inside of your coat lined with various deadly vials?”

“The coat is designed to keep them from exploding if they break,” She says. Then, noticing your confused look, she laughs a bit. “Sorry, that's usually the next question I get. I'm a pretty good shot with a pistol, too, I guess.”

“A pistol?” You ask, with a laugh, “Really? I've never seen one of those used in combat before.”

“They aren't very good against youkai, normally,” She says, with a shrug, “Or other things with supernatural defense. Normal bullets aren't, at least; I use beefier stuff. You saw one of my stun bullets earlier.”

Patchouli seems to understand. “Ah, that explains... interesting.”

“And Kyou?” You ask, “No offense, Makoto, but I've never known a diviner to mix it up in combat.”

He smiles. “I'm no different.”

“Kyou blasts things,” Rikako says, “Magical beams and whatnot. More of a general magician, I guess – classification gets hazy when it comes to that.”

Like Marisa, then – from 10 years ago. “Huh. I never would have guessed. Have you seen her fight?”

“She's not bad,” Rikako says, keeping her voice down, “Especially considering she hasn't even been with the Guild for a month yet. You're some kind of barrier user, right?”

You nod. “That's correct.”

“We should be fine, then,” Rikako says, “None of the sick I've seen are particularly tough. I'm just saying, getting stuck in a mob of them probably wouldn't be good. I've only got so many things that can stun, if you read me. No need to turn this into a massacare.”

“Got you,” you nod. By now, Tewi and the other initiate seem to be done talking. You motion for them both to come over. “How about you, Tewi? Do you want to come?”

“Yeah,” She says, “I want to meet who's behind this. I don't know anyone around here who would just disease a whole town like this. Just, well, you know. Remember that I'm just following you.”

You laugh. “Right. Kyou?”

She looks to you, a bit skittishly. “Y-yes?”

Ah, it's been a while since you've had to have a few initiates under your wing. Getting them to say something other than 'yes sir' and 'no sir' can be pretty difficult sometimes. It takes them a while to ease into the idea that everyone in the Guild does their own thing, and a few strict leads can make them scared for months.

“Do you want to come with us?” You ask, “We could use the extra set of guns, so to speak, but I understand if you just want to rest.”

“We'll be safe,” Makoto says, sounding completely sure in his prediction, “It's ok.”

After hearing that, she nods, “Ok. What should I do?”

“Well, for now, we'll be walking,” You say, “Stick close, so I can catch you in my barrier. Don't attack unless I say so.”

“Easy stuff, just try to do like we've been doing the past few days,” Rikako says, “Besides, I bet these two could take out the whole hoard themselves. We're just going to make it a little faster.”

Kyou smiles at that. “Really?”

“Well,” You laugh, “Who knows?”

“It's impossible,” Patchouli says, “The infected would be too numerous.”

You shoot her a glance. “It was a joke,” She says, “Makoto is the only one here with the possibility of knowing.”

That makes you smile a bit, at least, but you're not quite sure how to respond. “Anyway,” You say, “Let's get moving.”

You roll up the map, and place it into one of your many pockets. Then, your group treks upstairs - and, after moving a bit more furniture, heads out into the bright night once more. The koakuma from before is waiting, having delivered it's message.

With the koakuma and Makoto scouting, you manage to avoid any large groups of diseased animals. Narrowly, in some cases, and only by some creative sound dampening by your barriers (something you didn't even know you could do) in a small few. Eventually, your group come to the swamp after a mile of nothing eventful.

The map itself hadn't prepared you for this. The swamp itself seems to be very moist – and very dense as far as foliage goes. Lots of concealed pools of water with potentially concealed mutants all around. The moon's light doesn't penetrate very well through the tall trees, either.

You pause for a moment, examing the situation. Patchouli taps you on the shoulder, and, after sound-proofing the place, speaks.

“I could light the way,” She suggests, “This low light is difficult to see through.”

Tewi snickers a bit. “Eh, so even you're a bit human-sighted, aren't you?”

“Yes.”

“That'd likely draw a ton of attention to us,” Rikako notes, “Unless you can produce sunlight, somehow. They're really bothered by it.”

“Only in small amounts,” Patchouli says, “The spell is taxing, and even more so at night.”

“I've got some night-vision potions,” Rikako offers, opening her coat quickly “Only... well, these are my last ones.”

[ ] A light spell would be best.
- [ ] Try to be as conservative as possible with your shots.
- [ ] Blast anything remotely threatening.
[ ] This is a stealth mission. Go with the night-vision.
>> No. 36597
[x] A light spell would be best.
- [x] Try to be as conservative as possible with your shots.

Wanna know why Tewi is talking to Kyou so much.
>> No. 36598
[x] A light spell would be best.
- [x] Blast anything remotely threatening.

Don't hold it against me.

Victory through superior firepower.
>> No. 36599
[x] A light spell would be best.
- [x] Blast anything remotely threatening.

Search & destroy.
>> No. 36601
File 131545873944.png - (38.19KB , 137x196 , Callahan-Equipped.png ) [iqdb]
36601
>You saw one of my stun bullets earlier.

That Callahan.

[x] This is a stealth mission. Go with the night-vision.
>> No. 36602
[x] This is a stealth mission. Go with the night-vision.
>> No. 36603
[x] This is a sneaking mission. Go with the night-vision.
>> No. 36605
[X] This is a stealth mission. Go with the night-vision.

Because if we defeat the source, "anything remotely threatening" might return to normal.
>> No. 36607
[x] This is a sneaking mission. Go with the night-vision.

Let's destroy Meta- Infectious Spider. Again.
>> No. 36611
Nothing today, bla bla excuse bla bla. Update tomorrow. Sorry for all the slowness lately, actually having things to do again is messing with the rhythm I had over the summer.
>> No. 36615
[x] This is a stealth mission. Go with the night-vision.

“That sounds like the better option,” You say to the alchemist, “Would you mind?”

“It sounds better to me, too,” She says, reaching in for three vials. Each one is about as large as your thumb. Handing one to you, she adds, “Here. Drink half.”

The siblings get their own vial, and you hand your half to Patchouli. It tastes like someone took a sock they'd been wearing for a few days, wrung it out, and added a bit of mint to it. Horrible, really, but thankfully there isn't much to drink.

Rikako drinks hers, and tries to hand it off to Tewi. Tewi shakes her head, however.

“I'm good,” She says, “I can see fine already.”

Rikako shrugs, and places the cap back on. The twins hand their empty vial back, and you pocket yours – never know when something like this may come in handy.

“Now what?” You ask, “I'm not seeing any better.”

“Now we wait about a minute,” Rikako says, “After the effects start, we'll have about thirty minutes before it wears off.”

“Right, then,” You say, looking into the blackness of the swamp.

In a little under the minute, the gloom starts to lift. It's odd – the effect is a lot like simply getting used to dim light, only much more rapid and extreme. Where you are becomes bright as day, but the colors are still quite dim. The swamp becomes as bright as you'd expect it to be if there were no trees hanging above it. Not quite as bright as you were expecting, but it's more than enough.

“Makoto,” You whisper, “Got any leads?”

He steps up near you, and nods. “I'll lead,” He says, his voice catching in his throat a bit. Heh.

“I'll be right behind you,” You whisper back, “Point out any threats.”

“That's... too hard,” He says, “I'll just take us to her.”

“That's good, too,” You nod, “Let's go.”

Navigating the swamp isn't too terribly difficult. Slow, since you need to check your footing before making every step, but not hard by any means. And, once you get inside, the foliage isn't nearly as tall. Still dense, though.

Your group wanders for nearly fifteen minutes, straight in. At least, that's your guess – it's probably a little less than that, actually. As far as creatures go, you skirt around a few deer. An owl attempts an attack, but Makoto spots this one – and a well placed barrier/earthen spike get rid of it in short order.

“The fangs,” Makoto mutters, coming to a stop, “There. She's waiting.”

Up ahead a good distance is a clearing, of sorts. Clear in that you can see the sky, although the grasses are very tall. There are quite a dead trees, most of them snapped about ten or so feet up. A few of them are cleanly snapped off, but a good number of them are simply bent over and lying on the ground. Fangs, almost, if you're dealing with weird cryptic visions.

It's maybe... well, it's hard to tell. Between one and two hundred feet across. With the amount of range you've got in the party, three groups should be sufficient to surround it. Still, maybe keeping everyone together would be better.

[ ] Surround the clearing as best you can, and move in; you can't risk this thing escaping.
[ ] Move in as a group – maybe it'll be foolish enough to attack you head-on.
[ ] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.
>> No. 36616
[x] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.

Makoto said everyone is going to be safe. He's the diviner here.
>> No. 36617
[x] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.
>> No. 36618
[x] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.

Making your numbers clear is important for intimidation.
>> No. 36619
[x] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.
>> No. 36620
[X] Move in as a group – maybe it'll be foolish enough to attack you head-on.

I know y'all's Touhoe-gathering instincts are kicking in here, but don't listen to them. Seriously. We're talking about the kind of youkai who would create this horrible mutating plague in the first place.

Tactically speaking, moving as a group may look silly to people wanting to use encircling tactics, but if you do that, every direction will be Behind You.
>> No. 36621
>>36620
No more Flandres!
>> No. 36622
[X] Move in as a group – maybe it'll be foolish enough to attack you head-on.
>> No. 36624
[x] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.
>> No. 36625
[X] Move in as a group – maybe it'll be foolish enough to attack you head-on.

We're not here to befriend her, remember? We're here to kill her.
>> No. 36626
[x] Move in as a group, but with full hostile intent. At least, for now.
>> No. 36627
[x] Move in as a group, but without hostile intent. At least, for now.

“Follow me,” You whisper to everyone, “Stay close, and don't attack until I give the word.”

All five of the people that remain seem fine with that. Tewi is nowhere to be found, though – she must have wandered off at some point. Probably around 'She's waiting', if you had to guess. Although it feels like a fight is imminent, you still wonder if you can't do this peacefully.

Cautiously, you walk up to the edge of the clearing. You see no one, but there's definitely something bad about this place. Something that doesn't want to be bothered lives here. You take another few steps, and another few.

“We know you're here,” You say, cutting into the sounds of the swamp, “You'd better come out. Maybe we can still end this without bloodshed.”

There's no response. Well, not from any unknown sources, at least. Rikako certainly gives you a strange look, but that's pretty much all.

The grass here is quite tall, being a little below waist height. It's difficult to see if there's anything in the clearing at all besides the 'fangs'.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” You ask, “I'll be forced to assume hostility if you keep hiding.”

Again, you scan for any sort of movement. The faint wind blowing through the clearing makes it difficult, but you're certain there's nothing large moving about. Probably. For a second there, your thoughts waver. And you're feeling a little warm. Odd. Why would it be getting warmer on a night like this?

Then, a laugh. A terrible, warbling laugh. Maybe cackle would be a better word. Then, across from the field, you see something rise up. A youkai, and almost certainly your target.

With the upper half of a well-formed woman, and the lower half of a spider, she's quite the sight to behold. She hasn't bothered with clothes, a trait typical of especially feral youkai. Kyou lets out a small gasp when she sees the creature, and even you feel a little ill when you see it.

“Humans,” It says, “Haha. Delicious.”

The creature uses its eight legs to move up the nearest 'fang', and perches on top. Why is it getting so hot all of a sudden? You haven't felt like this since the last time you were sick, wrapped up in a blanket at home shivering.

… oh. Yes, well, that would make sense. A disease causing youkai giving you a disease. Ha-ha.

“Kill it,” You say, your eyes fixated on the youkai. There's no hope of reasoning with this thing.

The spider cackles, and leaps directly towards your party. An effortless jump on its part. You were anticipating something like that, however, and place up a barrier a few feet in front of your group. The spider doesn't expect that – it smashes into the thing rather awkwardly, and falls to the ground.

Patchouli doesn't hesitate to fire back with various earthen shards while you stand in place, holding up your shield. Her accuracy isn't terribly good. Kyou, too, gets in on the action after not too long. Small lasers scorch through the grass, burning holes in the side of the beast. At least most of Kyou's shots are landing, but because of the carapace on the youkai's lower body, they don't seem to be harming it much.

Rikako, too, engages with her ranged weapon. It looks cumbersome to use, though – the first shot gives off an icy burst, but the second one doesn't come for quite some time.

This creature doesn't seem to understand your barrier, because it tries twice more to break through with a leap. Pathetic, really. It should already be dead, but, if you had to guess, the whole party was stricken with whatever it managed to give you. Even Patchouli looks positively ill.

Eventually, the creature decides to try and flee. It's very fast, faster than your party in it's current state. However, before it can make it to the other side of the clearing, something nails it in the face with a well-executed kick. Tewi, bless her soul. The rabbit quickly gets out of the firing lane, and the spider youkai soon ends up on the receiving end of the rest of the volley.

You motion for everyone to follow, and quickly make your way over. Yes, it seems to be quite dead. Even one of those shards would probably be fatal.

“Jeez,” Tewi says, “Were you just going to let it get away? I mean - whoa, you guys don't look so hot.”

“Yeah, I... ugh,” Rikako pauses, “Need to throw up. Hold on.”

While the alchemist is off retching to the side, the two initiates take a seat on the ground. Patchouli, too. “Magically induced illness,” Patchouli mutters, coughing a bit, “How unfortunate.”

“Yeah, I...” You pause, suddenly feeling quite dizzy yourself, “I'm really sick.”

“I've go---” Rikako ends up interrupted by her illness, “got... something. Here.”

Some more vials. Tewi's kind enough to fetch them for you, as none of you really feel like moving.

“Drink one,” Rikako says, “It might be... ten minutes or so. Before it kicks in.”

Indeed, it takes about that long. You spend most of it spinning, sweating, and shivering. However, the effect gradually lessens, and you start to feel less and less like you're dying. Finally, you sit up. Stand up. Gradually, so does everyone else, with Rikako rising last.

“...well then,” You say, giving your body a good shake, “That should do it. Right?”

“Probably,” Patchouli says, “What a disgusting youkai.”

“Glad that was just a normal disease,” Rikako says, “I felt like I was going to die. Disgusting, indeed.”

“Are you two OK?” You ask, turning to the initiates, “Feeling better.”

“I am,” Makoto says, “We've saved the town.”

“... we did,” Kyou says, breathing a sigh of relief, “We did, didn't we?”

“Yep,” You say, with a nod, “Probably. At the very least we killed something horrible.”

“No, we did it,” Rikako says, peering into yet another vial, “My disease samples have all turned to dust. People are probably turning back to normal as we speak.”

Tewi laughs. “I hope all your fights aren't like that, though. That was kind of a poor showing.”

“I didn't think it was going to make us so sick,” You say, “Aside from that, it really stood no chance.”

“Haha, whatever you say.”

“So,” Rikako says, saving you from the rabbit's playing, “That's that. Thanks. That would have been a lot harder on my own.”

[ ] With that, it's time to leave town.
[ ] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.
>> No. 36628
[x] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.

Damn it. I was hoping we'd be sick permanently.
>> No. 36629
[x] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.
In my mind, all of these events are connected. I don't buy the mass effect-ish coincidence that everyone we seem to find has a quest of their own.
>> No. 36630
[x] With that, it's time to leave town.
>> No. 36631
[X] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.

We might possibly be able to acquire pertinent information, and info on a telegraph flows much faster than mages on a train.
>> No. 36632
[x] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.
>> No. 36633
[X] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.

Works for me~!
>> No. 36634
[x] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.
Loot?
>> No. 36635
[ ] With that, it's time to leave town.

See, you guys need to stop being pacifists all the time. She shoul have died faster than Flandre.
>> No. 36636
[X] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.

We might possibly be able to acquire pertinent information, and info on a telegraph flows much faster than mages on a train.
>> No. 36638
[x] With that, it's time to leave town.

I think that's it for this sub-quest. I certainly do hope that wasn't Yamame as that'd be quite the butchery of her character.
>> No. 36644
[x] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for A magic weapon/armor anything else unusual.
-[x]Roll a perception check
>> No. 36645
[X] With that, it's time to leave town.

>>36638
This story is in /others/, alternative character interpretation central. Though, this version of Yamame is accurate in as far as her story relevance is concerned.
>> No. 36650
[x] You're not satisfied just yet. Poke around the clearing for anything else unusual.

“I think you would have managed,” You say, honestly, “Anyway, let's search this place a bit before we leave. I'm still convinced Makai had a hand in this, so let's do a proper cleanup before we leave.”

“A good idea,” Patchouli says, “A weak youkai like that should not have been able to create such a disease.”

“What are we looking for?” Makoto asks.

You shrug. “Anything demonic or dangerous. Can you tune into wavelengths like that?”

He pauses for a moment. “There is something. But, I can't see where.”

“That's alright,” You say, “Well, everyone. Let's get searching.”

For most of you, the search involves looking around the clearing with your feet for any sorts of holes. Patchouli isn't nearly as energetic as the rest of you, and instead has some koakuma assist in the searching while she examines the body.

By now, the nightvision has worn off, and you're all searching via magical light instead. Aside from a few rotting baskets and things from unfortunate travelers, though, there's not much to see here. That is, until Patchouli notices something.

“Interesting,” She notes, “A hellstone.”

“Huh?” You ask, giving one last kick before turning around, “You've found something?”

“Yes,” She says, as you walk over. You can't quite make out what she's seen, though, as she's leaning over the corpse of the spider girl, “It seems to have eaten it.”

Then, without much warning, she shoves her arm inside the thing – after rolling her sleeves back, of course. She stands, a small bit of red light emitting from her now ooze-covered closed hand.

“You sure that's safe?” You ask, “I wouldn't be sticking my hands in any disease-manipulating youkai.”

“It is dead,” She says, simply “It is no longer a threat. This hellstone, however, might be.”

She washes her arm with a bit of water, and the light dims a bit upon contact. By now the others have gathered nearby to get a look. She opens her hand, revealing a rather odd thing. It's a mostly black stone, with bits of dark red stone mixed in. The red bits, which somewhat remind you of blood, are glowing a bit.

“That's it,” Makoto says, upon seeing it, “It's very evil.”

“... yeah,” Rikako says, “I'm getting chills just looking at it. What is it, anyway?”

“A hellstone,” Patchouli says again, “When a demon wishes to spread hellish influence without making proper contracts, they can deposit these in our world – given certain conditions, of course. They generally enhance the negative aspects of the holder, and cause general misfortune.”

Tewi laughs. “Yeeeah. It's probably not a good idea to hold on to it like that. ”

Patchouli looks at the stone, looks back to the rabbit, and then drops it onto the ground. “I thought my wards would have been sufficient.”

“They're personal wards,” Tewi says, “That kind of misfortune spreads among friends and family, so they don't really work.”

“Interesting,” Patchouli says, “That does make sense. The literature on these stones is very lacking, as they often end up destroyed once their purpose has been realized.”

“Is there anything we can gain from it?” You ask, “Or would it be better to just destroy it?”

“There might be something,” The elementalist answers, “These stones do have a substantial link to their creators. However, I won't know until I can examine it.”

[ ] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.
[ ] Destroy this thing, and get moving.
================================================
Seems I'll need to take a break for a few days. I'll update again friday, after I recharge.
>> No. 36651
[x] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.

Many things come to mind. If it really fails we will deal with it.
>> No. 36652
[X] Destroy this thing, and get moving.

"Substantial link to their creators" sounds a little too much like "beacon for demons to come kick our asses" to me.
>> No. 36655
[x] Destroy this thing, and get moving.

I'm with the bunny girl.
>> No. 36657
[X] Destroy this thing, and get moving.
This reminds me of a pathfinder campaign where a silver dagger you find in a table ends up being a Rakshasa spy.
Also, not only it could be a beacon or a listening device, but it Tewi said that it BRINGS MISFORTUNE TO THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY OF THE CARRIER.
>> No. 36658
[x] Destroy this thing, and get moving.

We brought Tewi along with us, may as well take her advice.
>> No. 36659
[X] Destroy this thing, and get moving.
We don't want any more misfortune than we already got from the last time we dealt with demons.
>> No. 36661
[x] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.
C'mon, what's the worst that could happen? Demonic possession? We're fine, we've been there, we've got this, no worries.
>> No. 36662
[x] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.

There's never been any research done on them before, guys! Never! And we have researchers right here! Some misfortune is necessary to advance the state of knowledge!
>> No. 36663
[x] Destroy this thing, and get moving.

Infinitely better safe than sorry.

>>36661
>>36662
I didn't know people from /th/ read this story.
>> No. 36665
>>36663
I wish /th/ wasn't risk-averse. Sadly, that's not true.
>> No. 36670
[x] Destroy this thing, and get moving.
Under different circumstances, maybe. In this case, maybe we shouldn't take the hellrock with us on our way to fight demons.
>> No. 36673
[X] Destroy this thing, and get moving.
>> No. 36677
File 131592812764.jpg - (45.87KB , 410x326 , Skittering_Horror.jpg ) [iqdb]
36677
[X] Destroy this thing, and get moving.

That behelitHellstone could have pushed the "disease" beyond merely being a deadly plague for humans.
>> No. 36678
[ ] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.

Sometimes, certain risks are needed. If Patchouli can develop a spell, or discover a weakness in the demons we could explore, then we should spare it, for now.
>> No. 36681
[X] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.

Considering we have both a skilled demonlogist and a luck manipulating youkai with us....
>> No. 36682
>>36681

But the luck manipulating bunny girl didn't want to be near it. I might be reading it wrong, but that might mean she can't do anything about it.
>> No. 36684
[x] What's the worst that can happen? Bring it along.

>The literature on these stones is very lacking, as they often end up destroyed once their purpose has been realized.

That just will not do. Information and technological advances will just not be held back by some sort of stupid superstition and "misfortune."
>> No. 36685
>>36684
In a land where magic is common place and demons and other 'monsters' exist, such fears are more sound than you'd think.

>>36682
IF someone who's been around as long as she has doesn't want anything to do with it, it's a good sign it's not something you'd want around.

I feel sorry for the writer getting votes with typical /th/-level intelligence
>> No. 36686
>>36684
This is not some hard sci-fi we're dealing with here, this is Gensokyo, the place where superstitions come to become reality.

Other than that, you're ignoring the advice of one of the eldest beings in the land based on your own belief that "misfortune is stupid/doesn't exist".
Especially when it's already established earlier in the story that misfortune is a capability of demons: Patchouli mentions it as a consequence for what happened with the souls back in the mansion.

Seriously, don't forget most of what has happened in the story at this point.
>> No. 36687
>>36685
Uh, no shit? No one is claiming it isn't dangerous. We think the potential benefits outweigh the risk. Or that losing is fun (it totally is).
>> No. 36690
File 131600486090.png - (794.14KB , 635x903 , cut_it_out.png ) [iqdb]
36690
>>36687
>Or that losing is fun (it totally is).

Okay now you're trying too hard.

Cut it out
>> No. 36693
File 131602723919.jpg - (358.36KB , 768x1024 , 18867102.jpg ) [iqdb]
36693
>>36690
Please forgive me for not making my enjoyment of CYOAs dependent on success. You should try it; it's liberating.
>> No. 36695
>>36693

Wouldn't mind it so much if it was actually clever and funny; which have yet to be seen.
>> No. 36701
>>36693
You mean besides ruining stories and breaking a poor writer's willpower? I thought the last of the were driven out.
>> No. 36734
Actually, make that monday for the next update. If I tried to write now, it wouldn't work too well. Sorry for being crappy and delaying this even further.
>> No. 36778
[x] Destroy this thing, and get moving.

“Well,” You say, “It's probably not good to just leave it lying around like this. You said these things are usually destroyed, right? How long will that take?”

“A few seconds,” She says, “They aren't particularly strong. Shall I?”

“Yeah,” You say, with a nod, “It sounds like nothing but trouble.”

There's a bright flash, as Patchouli summons forth some kind of fire bolt to strike the faintly glowing stone. The stone promptly melts, and a quick dousing keeps the resulting magma from burning anything.

“Well,” You say, turning back to everyone else, “Now I think we're done. Shall we get moving?”

“No objections here,” Rikako says, “I'll need to grab a few things when we get back to town, but let's get out of this swamp first.”

The two initiates nod in agreement that sentiment. Tewi just gives you a shrug. “Makoto,” You say, “Can you lead us out?”

He looks forward for a few moments before answering. “Yes,” He says, finally, “Just follow me.”

The trek out and back to town isn't much more than a nighttime hike. The night seems quieter than it should, your group included – but, you get the feeling that everything is just recovering from something. Personally, you still feel pretty drained, although you're not sure how much of that is due to how late it is.

Nearing the edge of town, you find a few villagers in shredded clothing, sleeping near the edges of the street. Although there's no way to be certain, Rikako says, they're likely villagers that had the disease and are now cured.

As requested, you stop at the inn on the way back.

“I'm not going to grab everything,” Rikako assures you, “But I could use some help.”

“I don't think you need six sets of hands, right?” Tewi asks, “I might just go wait back at the train.”

Rikako looks off into the distance, counting under her breath. “No,” She says, “Four should do it.”

“I can help,” You say, shrugging, “Any other volunteers?”

“Me, too,” Makoto says. “I'll help.”

Neither Patchouli nor Kyou volunteer, and, honestly, you're not sure which one would be better suited to carrying things. Patchouli's naturally feeble, you guess, but it's pretty clear that this is the biggest workout Kyou has had in a long time; she looks pretty rough. The two meet gazes, although Kyou breaks it quickly.

“Hmm,” Patchouli finally says, still looking towards Kyou, “I suppose I'll help. You seem very tired.”

“Thank you,” Kyou says, grateful enough that she almost looks like she's bowing, “I am.”

“Have fun, I guess,” Tewi says, before turning to Kyou. “ Ready?”

Kyou gives a relieved nod.

“Alright,” Tewi says, “Let's go.”

You watch them leave, as Rikako knocks on the door. While waiting for it to open, she sighs.

“You know,” She says, “I still don't have a clue what's up with that youkai. You were planning on explaining it eventually, right?”

“Actually,” You say, “I was planning on letting Tewi explain it. She'll probably tell you if you ask.”

Rikako looks towards Patchouli, but the elementalist is as stone-faced as ever about the matter.

“Alright,” She says, “I'll ask. Sheesh.”

The door to the inn finally opens, although now the interior is mostly dark. There's a single lamp burning near an armchair.

“Hey,” Rikako says, “Thanks for waiting up.”

“How was your mission?” The older man asks, “You sounded like you were in a hurry when you left.”

“A great success,” Rikako says, proudly, “The disease should be completely gone now. Everyone who had it should be cured.”

The older man goes from disbelief, to grinning from ear-to-ear. “My. You're serious, aren't you?”

“Could you spread the message, come morning?” Rikako asks, “I'd really like to stay, but the Guild calls. I need to leave, well... now.”

“I'll inform everyone,” The man says, “I'm sure everyone will be so happy to hear it. Do you need any help packing?”

“No,” She says, “Well... actually, could you let me keep some stuff in the cellar for a few weeks? I'll come back to retrieve the bulkier stuff when I have time.”

“Certainly,” The man says, “It's the least we can do.”

“Right,” Rikako says, turning towards you all, “Packing. Let's get that taken care of.”

In the end the luggage consists of three large sacks, one box filled with glassware, and one filled with various reagents and papers. You can tell that Rikako has done this a few times before – it's rare to see someone pack such odd shapes into a crate so smoothly. It only takes a few minutes to break down the essentials, as she calls them, and in no time you're on your way.

You end up with two bags of clothing, Makoto with one, and the other two each with a crate. Although, looking at Patchouli, she doesn't actually seem to be carrying it, instead opting to levitate it along. With one final goodbye to the inn keeper, you step out into the night.

Upon arriving back at the train, you find roughly twenty townspeople in torn clothing, lying on the train platform. They seem to have been placed there. And, thankfully, they all seem to be alive.

“Hey,” Marisa calls out from an open window in the engine, “You guys made it!”

“Yeah,” You laugh, “Took a bit longer than I expected, but we're back.”

“You need any help with that stuff?”

“We've got it,” You say, “Are we ready to leave?”

“Should be,” Marisa says, “I finished that thing you wanted me to do, too, between the zombie blasting.”

You laugh. “Good. Let me toss these in the back.”

Turning around, you see that everyone else is already a step ahead of you in that regard. They all seem to have picked a bunk as well. Chen especially, since she's fast asleep by now.

“Here,” You say, handing off the two bags to Rikako, “I'm going to head up front for a bit, and tell Marisa what happened.”

“That's who was up front, then?” Rikako asks, “Marisa …?”

“Marisa Kirasame,” You say, “She does what Kyou does, basically.”

“I'll join you,” Patchouli says, “I will need to explain the hazard map to the koakuma.”

“Right,” You say, “We'll be back in a little bit.”

It's only a short trip up to the cabin. Along the way, you notice that Sakuya's shade is drawn – she probably called it a night when the last of the zombies dropped. It is getting pretty late.

“So,” Marisa asks, after you enter the engine, “What was that all about? That little imp told us not to kill anyone, and something about diseases, but I think it forgot most of the message it was supposed to give.”

Youmu seems to be up here, as well. The two of you exchange nods.

“Typical,” Patchouli says, “It was a simple matter of a disease-manipulating youkai attempting to destroy a town.”

“Simple?” Marisa laughs, “I've never seen a disease like that before.”

“It was demonic in nature,” Patchouli continues, “The youkai had swallowed a hellstone.”

Marisa frowns. “Oh. Really? Figures that Makai would have some kind of hand in it.”

“Good job with not killing anyone,” You say, after a bit of a lull. “I'm glad that bit got through.”

“Youmu did most of the work,” Marisa says, with a shrug, “They weren't very organized, thankfully. Anyway, we're ready to move, right?”

“Yeah.”

The train begins to move in short order. And, like that, you're on your way.

“It really wasn't much work,” Youmu says, once the cabin grows quiet again, “And both Sakyua and Chen were valuable as lookouts.”

“Well, regardless,” You say, “Nice work. And Marisa, you said that you finished that hazard map?”

“Yeah,” She says, motioning to the familiar railroad chart that you've seen a few times before, “Here, take a look.”

In addition to the pins you'd used when you first got your orders, it now has even more pins – although these pins also have paper stuck underneath them, with warnings written on it.

“Basically,” She says, “I just did some cross-referencing with some of the other charts here. We're looking at a mostly straight stretch from here on out, with a few corners. Only a few of them are in low-visibility places, though, like forests and such.”

“How long would it take to stop something like this?” You ask.

“Eh, not too long,” She says, “We aren't carrying much, so there isn't much momentum.”

Most of the hazards just say 'go slow' or whatever, although there is one bridge along the way. Turning around, you find that Patchouli has summoned up a pair of koakuma – probably the ones she usually uses.

“Here,” You say to them, “Have a look. I get the feeling you two will be driving most of the night.”

“I will supervise,” Patchouli says, “I'm not particularly tired.”

“Speaking of tired,” Marisa says, “I think I'm gonna hit the sack myself.”

[ ] You think you'll do the same.
[ ] Something else (write-in).
>> No. 36779
[x] Ask Tewi about Kyou. Or Kyou about Tewi.

Wanna know why they hit it off so well.
>> No. 36781
>>36779
YOu have my vote. I was going to choose 'sleep' anyway and this seems much more interesting.

[x] Ask Tewi about Kyou. Or Kyou about Tewi
>> No. 36785
[X] You think you'll do the same.
Eh. It can wait until the morning.
>> No. 36787
[X] You think you'll do the same.

SLEAPAN GAEm-Zzzzz
>> No. 36793
[X] You think you'll do the same

Works for me~!
>> No. 36798
[X] You think you'll do the same
>> No. 36805
[x] Ask Tewi about Kyou. Or Kyou about Tewi
>> No. 36807
[X] You think you'll do the same

Good night folks.
>> No. 36808
[x] You think you'll do the same.

You can definitely get behind that. “Yeah, that sounds like a plan,” You say, “I'm beat. This stop was a lot more draining than I thought it would be.”

“You'll have to give me the blow-by-blow tomorrow,” Marisa says, “Tell me what I missed.”

“Will do,” You say, before turning to the others in the engine. “I'll see you all in the morning.”

Youmu gives you a nod. “Sleep well.”

“Thanks.”

You follow Marisa back to the passenger car that you're both staying in.

“You did kill it, right?” Marisa asks, after sliding her door open, “The youkai you guys ran into.”

“Yeah,” You laugh, “What, you didn't think I struck a deal with it, did you?”

At least she's in the mood to laugh with you tonight. “Nah. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, 'night.”

“Goodnight.”

Before you head to bed, though, you figure that you should at least pop in and say goodnight to everyone in the rear car. You do so, and let them know about the food in the back – although no-one who's awake seems very interested at the moment

You return to your breezy compartment, fold out your bed, and lie down. The transition into sleep is so fast that you hardly have time to shift back into yourself before your consciousness fades.

Sometime during the early morning, however, you wake up to find your feet absolutely soaked. There's a rather steady spray of water coming in from your window, and in short order a flash lights up your compartment for just a moment. A thunderstorm, it seems.

You dry off your feet as best you can. Thankfully, since you moved all the perishables into the rear car yesterday, that's the only thing getting wet at the moment besides the floor. You don't really have much to deal with it, but you manage to plug a few of the offending holes with a bit of wax.

Again, you head back to sleep. By the time you wake up for the second time, you can tell that your body no longer wants to sleep. In fact, you feel so well rested that you actually feel tired. With no clock to check the time, and the window too opaque to offer any clues other than 'it's light' you put on your footwear and head out into the hall.

The sky's still very gray, but you'd guess that this isn't morning any longer. Nothing out of the ordinary on the horizon, either – just grass, and the occasional tree. All in all, a very dreary picture.

The blinds are still drawn on Marisa and Patchouli's compartment, although Sakuya seems to be awake by now. You keep heading back and, although it's a bit difficult to make out who, you can see that there's people awake back there as well.

You're quite hungry, so the rear car seems like a good first stop, although you do get a bit wet switching between cars.

Rikako, Makoto, and Chen are all still asleep, while everyone else is sitting near the front end of the car at that table you were playing cards at yesterday. Chen you can understand – you've never known a cat that's awake most of the time - but those two looked like they were about to turn in around the time you were. Must have been tiring all around.

“Good morning,” You say, keeping your voice down a bit, “Does anyone have the time?”

Tewi smiles, “Well, it's not morning anymore. I know that much.”

Youmu offers a bit better time, although you're confused as to how she got it. “It's roughly 1pm.”

“Neat trick,” Tewi says, “How'd you know that?”

“I have a sense for it,” She responds, “Can you tell me what luck looks like?”

Tewi laughs, “Fair enough.

“Well,” You say, “I'm starving. Does anyone want something while I'm back there?”

You get three people shaking their heads in response. “Alright. I'll be right back.”

Marisa's coffee pot is back here, too, you notice while rummaging around... although, thinking back – how did she heat this thing? You'd make yourself a pot, but you really have no idea. Instead, you grab some bread, butter, and an orange.

[x] Figure out what's going on between Kyou and Tewi.
[ ] Some other specific thing (Write-in).
================================================
Sorry that the voting kind of sucked for these last two updates. I'll be getting to a bit more meat soon.
>> No. 36809
[x] Figure out what's going on between Kyou and Tewi.

Sure.
>> No. 36810
[x] Figure out what's going on between Kyou and Tewi.
>> No. 36812
[X] Figure out what's going on between Kyou and Tewi.
>> No. 36817
Apparently this update is going to be long-ish as well, and I started too late to finish it today. Update tomorrow.
>> No. 36822
File 131670860943.jpg - (580.67KB , 668x1036 , 7723207.jpg ) [iqdb]
36822
>>36817
Hooray!
>> No. 36829
[x] Figure out what's going on between Kyou and Tewi.
[ ] Some other specific thing (Write-in).

The bread is a bit hard, but it's still good. You'll work on the orange later. For now, you return to the table near the front of the car.

“So,” You say, taking the only vacant seat left, “Ready for an exciting day of sitting on a train?”

“Ah, I hope it's not too exciting,” Youmu says, with a bit of a smile, “Excitement and trains do not go well together.”

“That's true,” You laugh, “I had enough of that on my way up north.”

You munch on your bread, while the others continue talking.

Youmu, however, seems intent on keeping some conversation going, “How long have you been with the Guild, Kyou?”

“Not very long,” She says, seeming a bit embarrassed about it. “Only three months.”

“Was this your first mission?”

“Ah... yeah,” She says, nodding, “Well, besides training things. How about you?”

Three months? And they sent her into that? You know that the number of agents hanging around the Guild was low when you left, but things must have gotten really crazy during your trip up Rokford.

Youmu actually laughs a little at that. “A while. I may be dodging the question, but I don't actually keep track.”

“Really?” Kyou asks, “But, you look so young...”

“I'm only half-human,” Youmu explains, “I age more slowly than you do.”

“... ah,” She says, looking a bit shocked by that revelation. “Tewi, how old are you?”

Tewi laughs. “Way too old.”

Kyou then looks to you, so you figure she wants an answer. “I've been with the Guild for ten years,” You say, with a shrug, “I guess I'm not to the point where I stop counting years yet. Did Makoto join with you?”

“Uh huh,” She says, “He's my brother. We're twins.”

“How about Rikako? Have you known her for a while?”

“No,” She says, shaking her head, “We met her when we left.”

There's a lull, and you take another bite of your bread.

“Did you know anyone here?” Kyou asks, after a little bit.

“I've known Marisa for years,” You say, “I'll introduce you two when she wakes up. She practices the same school that you do.”

Ah, that got her attention. “Really? Maybe I could ask her for tips. My lasers weren't doing much last night...”

“Really,” You laugh, before going back to your bread. “And hey, don't worry about it. Hard-shelled youkai like that deal pretty well with lasers, and we were all looking pretty rough.”

She nods. “I felt so sick. Will we be fighting more things like that?”

“Probably not,” You say, shrugging, “I guess it's possible, but they wouldn't really last long against the force we're bringing.”

“Feral youkai will be a non-issue,” Youmu confirms, “And I've never heard of a disease-manipulating demon.”

“I'm still scared, though,” Kyou says, “Demons are probably worse, aren't they?”

“Some are,” You say, “You remember the koakuma from last night?”

She nods.

“Those are demons, too, although they're under contract to help Patchouli” You say, “I expect we'll be seeing a lot of similar things.”

“Oh,” She says, smiling a weary smile, “I think even I can shoot those down.”

This sort of thing goes on for a while. She definitely seems more open today – you'd guess that the change of atmosphere has something to do with it. Somehow or another, the conversation comes around to first impressions, and, eventually, to you.

“Really, though,” You say, “I'm curious. What were you two talking about last night?”

“Hmm?” Tewi asks. “Oh, while you two were planning?”

“Yeah.”

“Nothing, really,” Tewi says, “I was just admiring her luck.”

“Luck?”

“I guess I'm really lucky,” Kyou says, quietly, “Well, she says so.”

“I was being serious,” Tewi laughs, “You're like a shining beacon of luck. It's really impressive.”

Kyou doesn't really seem to want to argue the point, and you're not sure what exactly to make of it. An interesting thing to file away, you suppose. “I wonder if there's any books on luck manipulation,” You laugh, “Really, all your talk is making me interested.”

“Maybe a few,” Tewi says, “I can't say I've seen any humans with the skill running around, though, so don't get your hopes up.”

“Yeah, me either,” You say, “Maybe I could cobble together something, given a few years.”

“Heh, maybe,” Tewi chuckles, “Faking skills as a skill really opens up a lot of options, doesn't it? Well, it would if you had a longer lifespan, maybe.”

You laugh. “Maybe. I have enough trouble with the schools I have.”

Really, it's a whole lot of talking about nothing. Not that you mind, of course; these people are pretty pleasant to be around.

Eventually, Rikako wakes with a low groan. She practically falls out of bed, but manages to stand up. And... wow, does she look out of it. Are her eyes even open?

“'Morning,” You say, “Well, Afternoon.”

“Uhn.”

“Food's in the back,” You say, “And if you've got anyway to make heat, we've got coffee.”

Her eyes open a bit at that, and she shambles back towards the rear of the car.

Tewi laughs a bit. “I guess she's not a morning person.”

“Guess not.”

[ ] Stick around here for a bit longer.
[ ] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.
[ ] Maybe you should check on the engine. There's at least one bored person up there.
================================================
Ok, maybe not.

Good news is that I just knocked out a bunch of homework, though, so my schedule should be stable into next week at least.
>> No. 36832
[X] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.

Gotta work again at getting Sakuya to our side again. Hopefully we can recruit and without her wanting to kill us afterwords.
>> No. 36833
[x] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.

What does luck do? Did it keep her safe? Did it resolve the situation?
>> No. 36837
[x] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.

Yes.
>> No. 36838
[X] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.

Works for me~!
>> No. 36843
[x] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.
>> No. 36847
[X] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.
>> No. 36850
[x] Maybe you should check on the engine. There's at least one bored person up there.

Pissing against the tide, because I will never trust Sakuya.
>> No. 36856
[x] Maybe you should check on the engine. There's at least one bored person up there.
>> No. 36861
But, of course, the moment I say I should be good, things happen. Update tomorrow since it's 3am and I really shouldn't be writing right now.
>> No. 36871
>>36861

Hooray!
>> No. 36873
[x] Maybe you should check up on Sakuya. She probably hasn't eaten yet.

“This seems like as good of a time as any,” You say, standing up, “I'll be back in a bit. I'm going to go check up on Sakuya.”

“Who's that?” Kyou asks.

“She's, ah... a mage, who's traveling with us. Non-Guild.”

“Oh.”

“I can introduce you two if you'd like,” You offer, “She's not much of a conversationalist, though.”

“A-ah... that's alright,” She says, “Thank you for asking.”

“Right then, I'll see you all later.”

You make your way up to the first car, again through the rather depressing rain that seems to have rolled in. Hopefully, this storm will be gone by tomorrow. Fighting in this crap would be pretty bad.

Sakuya's still working on that book that Patchouli gave her earlier, it seems; that, or a different one. In either case, she gives you a nod when you knock on her compartment door.

“Hey,” You say, as you enter, “I just thought I'd check up on you, and see if you're doing alright.”

“I am fine,” She says, simply.

“Have you eaten yet?” You ask, “Unless you're Chen, the food is pretty much fair game. I can't remember if I told you that or not.”

“I inquired about it last night,” She says, “But no, I have not eaten.”

“Want me to grab you something?”

“No. I'm not hungry.”

Does she ever get hunger, you wonder? You don't think you've seen her eat anything since you've left Rokford, to be honest. And, if memory serves, she's turned you down every time you ask.

[ ] Press the issue.
[ ] Leave it be.
- [ ] As long as you're checking up on things, head up to the engine.
- [ ] Kill some more time in the rear car.
================================================
>>36833
Luck does what it would do in real life. Jack, however, hasn't noticed anything out of the ordinary with her - nothing he'd attribute to luck, at least.
>> No. 36874
[x] Leave it be.
- [x] As long as you're checking up on things, head up to the engine.
If Sakuya wants to not need to eat or go on a hunger strike or whatever, that's her business.

>Luck does what it would do in real life.
Oh. This clears everything up.
>> No. 36875
[x] Press the issue.

With enough luck, you'll never need Maximize Spell.
>> No. 36877
[X] Leave it be.
- [x] As long as you're checking up on things, head up to the engine.

Works for me~!
>> No. 36880
[x] Press the issue.
>> No. 36883
[x] Press the issue.
>> No. 36889
[x] Press the issue.

Because we don't want her collapsing from anemia in the middle of a fight.

Besides hunger strikes don't really work unless your jailers know about it.
>> No. 36919
[x] Press the issue.

“You're sure?” You ask, “I don't think I've seen you eat anything in a few days now.”

By now, she's decided to mark her book and close it.

“My appetite has been very low,” She freely admits, “Don't concern yourself with it.”

“Even if you're not feeling like it, you should at least try to eat something,” you say, “It'd be no good if you waited until your body started to eat itself.”

After a bit of a pause, she lets out a small sigh. “Perhaps you're right. That would be unbecoming of me.”

You give a nod. “I'm not going to lie and say that the food we've gotten is great, but it's good enough to live off of.”

“Hey, Jack.”

However, your talk is soon interrupted by Marisa. You turn around to find her just outside the room.

“Can you, uh, come here for a second?”

You look back to Sakuya. She gives you something like a cross between a bow and a nod, all while standing up. “I'll go back there now,” She says, “You can attend to other matters.”

You give a nod in response, and step out of the doorway back into the corridor.

“What's the matter?”

“Eh,” Marisa says, “Let's talk up front. It'll make more sense up there.”

Although you're feeling a small knot of dread in your stomach from the way she's presenting this, you do your best to suppress it. “Alright,” You say, motioning for her to go first. “Lead on.”

You do look back and notice Sakuya heading towards the rear as you near the front of the first car. Good. Kind of an... odd mistake to make – not eating, that is – but you get the feeling it wasn't intentional. She's still pretty out of it, if you had to make a guess.

“What was that all about?” Marisa asks, by the time you reach the engine. With a laugh, she adds, “You didn't send her back there to dice up the rest of our passengers, did you?”

“Nah,” You say, “I was just making sure she knew where the food went. So, what's the problem?”

Seems that, for now at least, the two Koakuma from last night are still driving. You don't see anything out of the ordinary. No fire shooting out of the controls or anything, at least.

“Be quiet for a second,” She says, “You can't really hear it because of that bubble thing Patchouli did.”

You do as you're told, and simply listen. That anti-noise enchantment Patchouli applied to this room does a wonderful job, but, if you're quiet, you can still hear a bit of noise leaking through. Still, you're no mechanic.

“I can't hear anything strange,” You finally say, “What am I listening for?”

“Eh,” She says, “I guess it's not as strong as I thought it was. Still, here. Take a look at this.”

She points to a gauge on the wall, just off to the right of the majority of the levers, which is just a cylinder filled with water or some other liquid. There's a line running through the middle of the clear part, and the water is just below that.

“I'm guessing it shouldn't be below the line,” You say.

“Yeah,” She nods, “I found it like this when I woke up. Tried a few things to fix it, but at this point I'd need to stop to check any further.”

“What's the problem, anyway?” You ask, “Is it dangerous?”

“It means that the water level is low,” She says, “So, basically, the boiler doesn't have as much cooling as it should.”

“Is it going to melt or something?”

“Probably not.”

You turn to look at her, with a gaze that's a bit more serious than you intended. “I-I mean,” She says, “It's probably not going to be a problem in the short term. It might not even be a problem, gauges get messed up sometimes.”

“But, it could turn into one,” You say, “Right?”

“Yeah,” She says, “Like I said, though, I can't know until we stop.”

“How long is it until the next town?” You ask, “We should be getting close by now.”

“We're... ah, right here,” She says, pointing to a location on the rail chart that you've been using this entire time. You move over to get a better look. “Next stop is here. So, about a half hour.”

“What would you suggest?”

“Eh...”

She doesn't seem keen on making a judgment, but eventually she comes up with something. Or rather, nothing. “Your call, really. If we had all the time in the world, I'd say we should stop and check it out, but... well, like I said. It's probably nothing serious. I just thought you should know about it.”

[ ] It should last through the half hour, then. She can check it out later.
[ ] Maybe if you slowed down a bit, the temperature thing wouldn't be an issue.
[ ] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.
================================================
Sorry, I tried to post this last night but the site was down.
>> No. 36920
[x] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.

>sidetrack
Yes please.
>> No. 36921
[x] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.

Indeed it would be.
>> No. 36922
[X] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.
Better safe than sorry.
>> No. 36923
[X] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.

Don't need to be blocking any other possibly incoming train nor risk forcing everyone to go by foot towards the capital should the train suddenly break down.
>> No. 36924
[ ] It should last through the half hour, then. She can check it out later.

I want to get the capital.
>> No. 36925
>>36924

What if the train is needed later and can't be used because it's broken by the time Steam & Co. get there?
>> No. 36926
[X] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.

It'd be best to get it out of the way.
>> No. 36929
[x] It should last through the half hour, then. She can check it out later.

We'll arrive in the highest fashion of style; on an exploding train.
>> No. 36930
[X] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.

I want to get to the capital with a getaway train intact in case.
>> No. 36931
It's been a while since I've actually thrown out the numbers, but the upcoming stop isn't your ultimate destination. There's a third agent you'll be picking up at the next stop; the stop after that will be meeting with Alice near the capital.

I just figured I'd say that, because it sounds like you're thinking this is the final stop. I won't be updating for a few hours yet, so feel free to switch around your vote if you'd like.
>> No. 36934
[x] It should last through the half hour, then. She can check it out later.
>> No. 36936
Update tomorrow. Again, I've started too late on this to get it done in time.
>> No. 36937
File 131729464743.jpg - (147.58KB , 1280x906 , 18361787.jpg ) [iqdb]
36937
>>36936
Hooray!
>> No. 36940
[x] According to the map, there's a sidetrack ahead you could stop on. It may be wise to take a look.

“How long do you think it would take?” You ask.

“Anywhere from minutes to an hours,” She says, shrugging, “It really depends on what the problem is.”

“I think we can manage it,” You say, “Our current schedule has us arriving sometime tonight, right?”

She takes a look at the map, whispering a bit of mental math to herself. “Yeah,” She says, eventually, “Technically tomorrow morning, I guess, but yeah. So, you think we should check it out?”

You nod. “It'll be a lot worse if this thing explodes before we make it to the capital. This 'D' shape... that's a sidetrack, right?”

“Yeah,” She nods, “That's where I was going to suggest. We'll be coming up on it in a few minutes.”

“Do you need any help or anything?”

“Nah,” She says, looking to the koakuma. “We should be able to handle it.”

You nod. “Sounds good. I'll let the others know that we're stopping.”

And, that's what you do. On your way back, you notice Sakuya munching delicately on a bit of bread, so that's good to see.

In only a minute or two, the train begins to slow, and a little bit later it comes to a complete stop. Aside from Tewi, Marisa, and you, everyone else elects to stay on the train out of the rain. Personally, your coat is plenty suited to dealing with rain, so you decide to stretch your legs a bit while you have the chance. Marisa seems to have packed a light coat, too, while Tewi doesn't seem to be bothered by the rain a single bit.

You go for a little walk, mulling things over. Cleaning up your headspace a bit. Tomorrow, things are going to get heavy again, and you'd like to be at your best. The rain seems to have lightened a bit, currently something closer to a mist than actual droplets of rain.

Although you're only gone fifteen minutes, By the time you return you see Marisa zapping the engine with one of her lasers. Kyou has managed to find her way outside, too, and is watching intently.

“Did you find something?” You ask, upon getting close.

“Yeah,” Marisa says, continuing to hit the engine with her laser. The metal seems to be glowing from the heat. “Just a small hole. I got lucky enough to catch it while the steam was still hot.”

You move closer. “Any idea what caused it? Is it something we'll need to worry about in the future?”

Marisa shakes her head. “Hold on, I'm giving a lesson here.”

Heh. You look to Kyou, but she's not focusing on anything except Marisa's beam.

“And, there,” Marisa says finally, just as the beam ceases. “That's how to use a focused beam. Pretty handy, right?”

Kyou gives a firm nod. “I didn't think... to try that.”

“It's harder than it looks,” Marisa laughs, “But if you get the idea, it's something you can practice. Anyway,” Now, Marisa turns to you, pocketing her focus in the process “What were you asking?”

“I was asking if this problem is fixed for good,” You say, “Or if we've still got issues.”

“That was probably the only hole,” Marisa shrugs, “It wasn't a huge leak, but enough to make us lose about half our water overnight. I'm going to keep looking for a bit, to see if there's anything else, but I doubt it.”

“Any idea what caused it?”

“Well...” Marisa shifts a bit, “The puncture happened from the outside, but that's about all I could tell. The metal was bent inward. Either something crazy happened accidentally, or something fishy happened on purpose.”

Immediately, you look to the two koakuma who've graciously been holding a tarp over the working area this entire time. Both of them seem to be dressed properly, though. Then, you laugh.

“What's so funny?” Marisa asks.

“Nothing,” You say, “I'm just seeing demons everywhere. Not literally, of course.”

“Demons, you say?” Marisa asks, as if something just occurred to her. “Huh. I guess that's possible. It wasn't a very big hole. Maybe some imp decided to put its fist through our return line while we weren't watching.”

“I wonder what it would take to get this train demon-proofed,” You wonder out loud, half-seriously. “I hope they're not giving all the other trains in transit as much beef.”

“It would take a concentrated effort of around two hours. Would you like me to do so?”

You didn't notice her initially, but Patchouli seems to have come out of the first car at some point.

[ ] That sounds like a good idea.
- [ ] She should get started right away.
- [ ] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.
[ ] It's tempting, but you'll just need to run a tighter watch.
================================================
Well, tomorrow for certain timezones, I guess.
>> No. 36941
[x] That sounds like a good idea.
- [x] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.
Guess patchy's gonna wait in the train at the next stop. Also, fuck Makai, they're really organized.
>> No. 36943
[X] That sounds like a good idea.
- [X] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.

Yes, Makai is organaized. I just hope they don't plan on bringing in Shiki.
>> No. 36944
[X] That sounds like a good idea.
- [X] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.
>> No. 36945
[x] That sounds like a good idea.
- [x] She should get started right away.
>> No. 36946
We have enough people now such that we don't need to risk leaving koakuma around unattended.

Odd that they could have done much more damage with a concerted effort; they seem to more concerned with slowing us down than stopping us completely.

Now if Makai is intent on conquest rather than simply sacking the capital, they must be hesitant to destroy too much of the infrastructure, and that includes the railways.

[x] That sounds like a good idea.
- [x] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.
[x] But you'll need to run a tighter watch anyway.
>> No. 36947
[X] That sounds like a good idea.
- [X] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.
>> No. 36949
[x] That sounds like a good idea.
- [x] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.
- [x] Until then, keep a tighter watch.

Patchouli can work on it, while we're on our next side quest.
>> No. 36955
[x] That sounds like a good idea.
- [x] But it can wait, at least until your next stop.

“Not now,” You say, “I like the idea, but let's wait until we reach the next town.”

Patchouli gives a faint nod. “If things go as they have previously, that will be enough time.”

You laugh a bit at that. “Yeah. Who knows what we'll run into next.”

Marisa seems to be mostly ignoring you two, having gone back to work already. “Well,” You say, “I'm going to go dry off. Good work.”

“It's nothing,” Marisa counters, brushing off the comment, “I'll probably be done in another fifteen minutes or so.”

“I'm concerned about this,” Patchouli says, plainly. “If you don't mind, I would like to at least to a quick examination. Fifteen minutes will be sufficient.”

You nod. “That sounds fine. Let me know what you find.”

“Of course.”

With all of that taken care of, you head back on board the train – to the back car, since nothing in particular is going on in the front car. You do grab the book that Patchouli lent you, although you doubt you'll be doing much divination.

Seems that, by now, Rikako has something resembling coffee. It looks like she's even able to set up some of that alchemical gear in her sleep – at least, the portable flame. She's using one of her flasks as a cup, too. Youmu's off near the rear of the car, doing what looks like morning meditation.

“Hey,” You say again.

“'Ey.”

At least you get something this time. Well, you suppose the brew will need a bit of time to act. You set to reading your book, and she slowly works on her coffee.

After a few more gulps, however, she seems to be a bit more talkative.

“How were you feeling this morning?” She asks, “Well, afternoon or whatever.”

“A bit groggy,” You answer, “I think I overslept.”

“Yeah,” She says, “I'm thinking we shouldn't have mixed those two.”

“Two what?”

“Potions.”

“Ah,” You say, “This groggyness is a side-effect.”

“Yeah, probably,” She says, taking another drink from her coffee, “I'll need to talk to that elementalist, though. Patchouli, was it?”

“That's right,” You answer, with a nod. “Huh. I wonder if that's why Makoto is still out of it.”

Rikako looks over her shoulder to the sleeping initiate. “Maybe. He's always sleeping in, though. I guess divination tires him out.”

After a bit, she comments on your book.

“Just a passing interest?” She asks, “Or do you do divination, too?”

“This?” You ask, with a laugh. “Oh. I think I might have lied to you last night. I'm actually a schizist.”

“A what?” She asks on reflex, although a few moments later she seems to remember. “Oh. Really?”

“Yeah,” You say, “I guess it wasn't technically a lie, but I'm not always a barrier user.”

She laughs. “I've met one of you types before. You seem downright stable compared to her.”

“Some people think about it too much,” You say, shrugging, “It'll drive you nuts if you try to figure it out, or so I've heard.”

“It drives me nuts trying to figure it out,” She laughs again, “But, I guess it's magic. It doesn't need to make sense.”

You're a bit too groggy still to get into this kind of discussion, so you let it quietly come to an end. A few minutes later, Tewi comes back. She's pretty tight-lipped about what she was actually doing, only giving you the word 'breakfast' to work with.

In about fifteen minutes, as expected, you're back on your way. And, in another half hour, you pull in to your next location. Another smallish village that, quite honestly, looks like most of the others you've been through in these past few days. You'd have a hard time telling them apart at a glance.

By now, you've all congregated towards the back car, and everyone is awake – even if they aren't out of bed yet.

Select Teams (Going):
[ ] Jack
[ ] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[ ] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[ ] Sakuya
[ ] Chen
[ ] Rikako
[ ] Makoto/Kyou
================================================
Since the exception seems to have become the rule over the past few weeks, just assume I'm going to update every other day. I should be able to stay afloat at that pace.
>> No. 36957
[x] Jack
[ ] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[ ] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[x] Sakuya
[x] Chen
[ ] Rikako
[x] Makoto/Kyou

I figure the recruits need some experience. And Chen might appreciate some action. Sakuya's there so we can observe if anything else is bugging her, like that whole eating business.
>> No. 36958
[x] Jack
[ ] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[x] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[x] Sakuya
[x] Chen
[ ] Rikako
[x] Makoto/Kyou

Youmu added because she hasn't had a chance to leave the train yet.
>Breakfast.
What does Tewi eat? I just got a mental image of her grazing... So moe.
>> No. 36959
[ ] Jack
[x] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[x] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[x] Sakuya
[ ] Chen
[x] Rikako
[ ] Makoto/Kyou

Let's rotate teams a bit. Let the focus be on someone else for a while.
>> No. 36960
>>36959
Patchouli can't go. She's demon-proofing the train, remember?
>> No. 36962
[X] Jack
[X] Tewi
[X] Sakuya
[X] Chen

I'm feeling lucky.
>> No. 36963
>>36955
The fact that you update with any consistency at all really keeps this board afloat, maybe even the entire site. For me at least.



[ ] Jack
[x] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[x] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[x] Sakuya
[ ] Chen
[x] Rikako
[ ] Makoto/Kyou

Rotating teams is a great idea. It's what a decent leader would do
>> No. 36964
[x] Jack
[ ] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[ ] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[x] Sakuya
[x] Chen
[ ] Rikako
[x] Makoto/Kyou
>> No. 36972
[x] Jack
[ ] Patchouli
[ ] Marisa
[x] Youmu
[ ] Tewi
[x] Sakuya
[x] Chen
[ ] Rikako
[x] Makoto/Kyou

As much as I'd like to take Patchouli, she's busy.
>> No. 36981
[x] Jack
[x] Youmu
[x] Sakuya
[x] Marisa

It's true you might not need to go into town yourself this time, and it's also true that sending in someone else will help establish who the operational commanders are in case of emergency or separation.

However, your favored #2 is currently fixing the train.

Assigning Patch as an operational leader should be done sooner rather than later, not just so there's less command confusion, but because you need to squash any objections over the fact that she is a youkai while you still have the time to do it.

Marisa may otherwise be the next most senior agent, but she's hotheaded, doesn't get along well with some of the party--a fact has not helped at all with the chronomage's rehabilitation--and she generally takes the other side of whatever you do, making her a poor proxy. The fact she was given a solo mission, far from the capital, probably reflects this. Don't get me wrong. I like her personality a lot in this story, and most of the time her reactions were reasonable. Even if she shouldn't lead excursions, she's still fine for base defense. However she may feel insulted, or even betrayed, if you put her under the direct command of someone else.

Rikako is a senior agent, and confirmed to be a person of integrity after objecting to leaving without saving those townsfolk, and her rapport with her understudies, Kyou and Makoto, shows that she is a capable leader. You don't know how well she'd do commanding youkai, but you should definitely keep K&M near her.

You haven't seen enough of Youmu's interactions to assess her leadership potential. Like Rikako, she wanted to complete her assignment first and foremost, and she didn't seem especially averse to working with youkai, even ones whom were once considered enemies (i.e., Tewi). Her single-minded approach to duty may impress Sakuya, and you should try to find at least one party member that gets on well enough with her.

Chen & Tewi make good scouts and trackers, with the benefit of being able to interact peaceably with other youkai, but they are not leadership material. May not even be safe to leave them in a village unattended, considering the farce you had to play with Chen. Tewi has her own loyalties, and Chen is Yukari's attache, obviously.

Sakuya should not head any excursion for a lot of reasons. However, you don't want her holed up in her room, spending all her time ruminating over revenge; otherwise you should endeavor to give her as much freedom and independence as possible.

With that in mind:

Take Marisa, because she seems to be very resourceful with acquisitions and bartering, and, assuming this isn't a ghost town, you'd want to load up on as much as possible. Sure, there's a stop where Alice is building up forces, but you don't know what their logistics situation is. If transportation was damaged throughout the entire country, you could already be facing a dramatic shortage.

Take Youmu, because her name carries respect, because her unconventional swordplay ability would be surprise to those expecting to fight frail Guild mages, and because she's probably the best scout/tracker among the non-youkai members in your party.

Take Sakuya, because the food thing is worrying. There may be contention between her and Marisa, but at least it will be under our observation.

Between a barrier mage, a close-quarters combat expert, an artillery mage, and a chronomage capable of scouting the areas where the enemy may lie in wait unawares, anyone trying to ambush you is in for a really nasty surprise.

Leave Patchouli to fix the train.

Leave Rikako to continue brewing potions and setting up her roving drug laboratory.

Leave Kyou & Makoto, as they probably still have a lot to learn from the senior agents here; their boredom isn't a liability. Makoto can use his divination to keep tabs on the main group, and allows him to rest, since it seems to take a lot out of him. Kyou can choose to observe Patchouli at work or aid Rikako.

Leave Chen & Tewi, who probably get along swimmingly since Tewi seems to know Yukari personally.
>> No. 36984
[x] Jack
-[x] Youmu
-[x] Sakuya
[X] Marisa

Works for me~!
>> No. 36986
[x] Jack
[x] Sakuya
[x] Youmu
[x] Chen

The stop itself is a bit abrupt, although a quick survey over the crew in back is enough to tell you why.Everyone is back here, leaving the koakuma to bring the train to a stop. They've been trained, presumably, but it seems that they don't quite have Marisa's touch yet.

“Jeez,” Marisa says, setting her coffee back down, “They've got a few things to learn yet.”

“I'm still surprised their tiny heads can hold that kind of information,” Rikako says, “It's fascinating.”

“It is a tight fit,” Patchouli adds, dryly. “Jack, shall I get started?”

The anti-demon enchantment, right. “The sooner the better,” You nod, “You're sure that this will fix our problems?”

“A more powerful demon would be able to simply destroy the train from a distance,” She says, “But, it will prevent any demons from setting foot inside.”

“So, we won't have to worry about anyone shredding the cooling lines again,” Marisa nods, “Well, not without shredding the rest of us.”

“Yes.”

Patchouli stands up, and lazily floats towards the door. You guess she's going to get started right away.

“I can stick around and keep watch,” Marisa says, with a laugh, “After last night, this should be a piece of cake.”

You nod. “That sounds good. You mentioned something about setting up your alchemical gear earlier, Rikako?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah,” She says, quite a bit more awake now. A half-pot of coffee will do that, you suppose. “I've got enough clamps for a rudimentary traveling setup. Not sure about reagents, but I should be able to cook up some good stuff.”

“Makoto, Kyou,” You say, “Why don't you two stay here, too? You both deserve some downtime.”

“Thank you,” Makoto says. He's just being polite, though – you doubt he cares either way. Kyou gives you an affirmative nod.

Then, you look around to the rest of the bodies on board this car. Lots of indifferent faces. “Youmu, Sakuya. How about you two? Would you be up for a walk?”

“I'd be glad to assist,” Youmu responds, from her spot at the table. “Hopefully, I won't be necessary.”

“Not to be mean,” You laugh, “But I hope so, too. Sakuya?”

At some point, after you last had the chance to talk to her, she took the opportunity to move her book reading out of her compartment and into the rear car. Up until now, that's what she's been doing. After you ask her for the second time, though, she places a mark in the book and stands up.

“I wouldn't mind.”

Still, though, you'd like one more. For once, Chen actually seems to be awake, so you decide to ask her as well.

“How about you, Chen?”

“Ok,” She says, a bit lazily, “Trains are kind of boring.”

That makes you smile. Wasn't she the one that wanted to take one in the first place?

“I'll stay here,” Tewi says, “Rainy days are kind of... blech.”

Chen nods. “Oh, you think so, too? Maybe it'll be fun with these guys, though.”

Tewi laughs. “Maybe. Good luck.”

“Thanks,” You say. Then, to Marisa, you add. “You're in charge for now. We'll be back... whenever.”

“'Whenever',” She laughs, “Well, I guess there's no way that's going to be wrong. See ya.”

Everyone else adds in their own goodbye's, although you need to wait for Sakuya and Youmu to get prepared to deal with a walk in the rain. You wait outside with Chen, under an awning at the station.

'Fredrik Zweigesicht' seems to be the next agent on the list, waiting at 'the local inn'. He isn't here on guard duty, but... it's odd for the Guild to send someone without backup on a serious mission. Either he's very good, this was a very minor incident, or they simply ran out of people to send.

It only takes Sakuya a minute or so to return, bearing a dark, scarlet colored umbrella. Youmu takes a bit longer, opting for a poncho done up in the standard Guild blue-and-black color scheme.

“I can't say I see those very often,” You say, commenting on her unique style of dress, “Why one of those?”

“It keeps my arms free,” She responds, “A thick jacket would impede them.”

“Ah, that makes sense,” You say, “Well then, shall we?”

After an affirmative, you all move out... admittedly, in a random direction. A few blocks down the road, however, you run into a well-dressed man bearing a Guild emblem on his lapel. He looks to be about twenty years older than you, just starting on his later years.

“Jack Steam?” He calls out, upon seeing you, “I believe you're looking for me.”

“Fredrik Zweigesicht?”

“Indeed,” He says, with a shallow bow, “I'm prepared to leave for the capital whenever you are, although I admit that I'm confused as to the reason. The telegram I received was quite vague.”

… somehow, something doesn't seem right. Faintly, you can feel your unconscious self begin to move, to prepare – but, for what? Did you catch something in the corner of your eye? After a few short moments you're not even sure if it was just a 'nervous twitch', so to speak.

“Well, good,” You say, letting go of the last traces of that feeling. If something caused it, it'll either cause it again or it was nothing to worry about in the first place, “We'll be waiting around for about two hours, actually. Do you have a bag?”

“Ah, yes,” The man says, “We can --- good lord, what is that behind you?”

You follow his gaze, straight back towards Chen. She looks about as surprised as the man does.

“That's Chen, ” You say, shrugging, “She's with us.”

“It has a name?” He asks, sounding surprised, “Where did you pick up such a beast?”

“Hey,” Chen says, “At least I don't stink!”

“Stink?” The man balks, “I do not stink, unlike yourself.”

“Do too!”

You look to the others, who are about as clueless as you are.

[ ] Stink? What is she talking about?
[ ] Tell them both to cut it out.
- [ ] Politely.
- [ ] A bit threateningly.
[ ] Something else (Write-in).
>> No. 36989
[x] Ask Chen what she sees.
[x] Try to find that feeling again.
>> No. 36990
Fuck this.

[x] Sakuya, slit his throat.
>> No. 36991
[x] Stink? What is she talking about?

I think Chen's caught on to something.
>> No. 36992
[X] Stink? What is she talking about?

Hmm
>> No. 36993
[X] Stink? What is she talking about?

>>36990
What the hell is wrong with you? You can't go around killing Guild members just because something's off.
>> No. 36994
[x] Sakuya, slit his throat.

I'm getting sick of side quests, and we all know where this is going.
>> No. 36995
[x] Tell them both to cut it out.
- [x] A bit threateningly.

Fuck this shit. Frederick is ready to go, and there doesn't seem to be any malevolent and immediate source of danger for this village. Let's rock on out of here.

>>36994
>>36990
You are both fucking retarded, for a multitude of reasons.
>> No. 36996
[x] Stink? What is she talking about?
>> No. 36997
[x] Ask Chen what she sees.
[x] Try to find that feeling again.
>> No. 36998
[x] Tell Youmu and Sakuya to watch the surroundings.
[x] Ask Chen what she sees.
[x] Try to find that feeling again.

In situations likes this i am glad we did not choose to let Sakuya die. She is a dangerous enemy but an even more reliable ally.
>> No. 37001
[x] Stink? What is she talking about?

I don't like the fact that he didn't give his own name, but that might just mean he's rude. What he's said so far is definitely in line with such thinking. Of course, anyone who would attempt to infiltrate a trainload of guild mages would have to be a good actor, unless he were supremely stupid.

Chen's comment could be as simple as the agent smelling like an alcoholic, which while relevant, wouldn't worth getting up in arms over.

The odd sensation may have nothing to do with the man. Youmu and Sakuya would seem to be fairly perceptive toward danger, and neither seem alarmed.

>'Fredrik Zweigesicht'

Erich?
>> No. 37002
[x] Stink? What is she talking about?
Suspicious...
>> No. 37003
[x] Ask Chen what she sees.
[x] Try to find that feeling again.

>Just once I'd like to ask someone for help and hear them say, "Sure. Let's go. Right now. No strings attached"
>> No. 37004
[x] Stink? What is she talking about?

Demonic illusions.
>> No. 37007
[X] Stink? What is she talking about?
[X] Try to find that feeling again.
>> No. 37012
[X] Stink? What is she talking about?

reeking death and rotten human flesh are ye?
>> No. 37013
[x] Stink? What is she talking about?

“Chen,” You interrupt, “What do you mean, he 'stinks'?”

“I mean he stinks,” She says again, “Like... a fire, or a demon! 'Cause we hate demons, right?”

“Perhaps my clothes do,” Fredrik says, a bit defensively, “Yesterday was full of heavy combat, and I may have some of the battle still clinging to my clothing. Why is this a talking point?”

“I'm sorry,” You say, “Maybe I should give you the reason for the recall, and it'll make more sense.”

“I hope so,” He says, “As it stands, I'm confused as to why that thing is still alive, even more so as to why you'd give that kind of statement any consideration.”

“Do you want the long version, or the short version?”

“Short, if you would.”

“Well,” You say, “Basically, Makai figured out how to cross over into our plane of existence, and somehow bypass the barrier around the capital. They're probably assaulting the city as we speak.”

“... my,” He says, after a long pause, “Such a grave situation would explain a recall, even though it sounds like a tall tale. Are you sure?”

“Yes,” You say, “So, forgive me if when, one of our allies says that you stink, I take it into consideration. We've had a few attempted acts of sabotage already, as they seem to not be isolated to the capital itself.”

“My apologies, then,” He says, “But, you're sure this... thing... is an ally?”

“Yes,” You say again. You don't really feel like explaining why.

“I suppose I'll have to respect that, then,” He says, with a sigh. Then, with a very forced politeness, he adds. “My apologies, Miss... Chen.”

“Um... thanks,” She says, a bit confused by the thing.

“Anyway,” You say, “This is Youmu, and this is Sakuya.”

“I notice that Miss Sakuya isn't Guild,” He says, giving her a thorough look over. Then, with a bit of a smile, he adds, “Should I consider her an ally as well?”

“No,” Sakuya says, plainly, “Do not make that mistake. I am simply here.”

His smile fades. “Ah, I see.”

As far as first impressions go, you can't imagine this going much worse. Still, he seems like he'll be a gentleman about it, and not give you too much trouble. You suppose that when gathering up Guild members like this, it's actually rather remarkable that you haven't run across one like him yet.

“So,” You say, breaking up the silence, “You've said something about a bag? We should grab that instead of standing around in the rain.”

“Indeed,” He says, “I can lead you back to the inn.”

Again, you feel the slightest mental tug, but, as before, it's not enough to actually pull your mind anywhere. It's like an itch, only you can't figure out where on your body to scratch. Very irritating.

“You said you were in a battle yesterday,” Youmu says, “Was that the reason you were sent here?”

“Ah, that,” He says, as you follow behind him, “Sort of. A cult had taken root here – a demonic one, coincidentally – and I was sent to remove them. Yesterday was the assault.”

“And you had no backup?” You asks, “That seems strange.”

“My,” He laughs, “I almost feel like I'm being interrogated.”

“Maybe a little,” You add, with a bit of a smile, “You know that it's protocol, though. Why did they send you alone?”

“Yes, well,” He says, “My mission was to find them, not to eliminate them. However, it became a 'do or die' situation, and I was forced to act.”

“How so?”

“They were planning an assault on this town within a few days,” He says, “I requested assistance, but was denied. A few hours later, I was told to prepare for a recall. It was a bit brash, I'll admit, but I was more than a match for them. Any other option would have left them free to kill the residents of the town.”

“How large was this cult?”

“Twenty-three strong,” He answers, “Although, most of them had no magical talent. Only four of them were able to pose a threat. May they find peace.”

Youmu gives a firm nod to that.

A standard Guild mage through-and-through, then. At the very least, he'll be a good asset. You get the feeling he can handle himself.

“I will only be a moment,” He says, after arriving at the inn.

[ ] Follow him inside.
[ ] Wait outside.
================================================
>>37001
Who?
>> No. 37016
[X] Follow him inside.
Yeah, it's probably a trap.
>> No. 37018
[x] Wait outside.

Yep. Everything is seeming pretty standard here. No reason to pick at the hornets nest.
>> No. 37022
[X] Follow him inside.
He has something to hide..
>> No. 37023
[x] Follow him inside.
>> No. 37024
[X] Follow him inside.

Be on guard.
>> No. 37025
[x] Follow him inside.
Each and every town we have encountered had a trap or a situation originated in makai. And we're forced to believe that he couldn't change his clothes since yesterday?

Give him a fresh change of clothes, since those stink so much, and ask chen if the odor is gone. If it isn't... you know the drill.
>> No. 37026
[x] Follow him inside.
>> No. 37027
[x] Follow him inside.
>> No. 37039
[x] Follow him inside.
-[x] Quietly send Chen to ask Patchouli when the demon-proofing will be complete. You aren't returning until it is.
>> No. 37098
Is this guy dressed in guild colors? and why was he standing around anyway?
>> No. 37107
[x] Follow him inside.

You naturally follow after him. He doesn't seem to mind, greeting the innkeep while leading you upstairs. It's a two story building, and actually quite nice for what you'd expect to see in a town like this. Chen herself gets a few funny looks, but she doesn't seem to particularly care.

“Sometimes I wonder if I pack too heavily,” He jokes, placing a few last-minute items into a trunk. Taking a peek inside, you see a bunch of other – much dirtier – clothes. Quite a bit of dark mud and dirt, likely from all the tracking he's supposedly been doing. “I swear I can hear the enchantment creak on occasion.”

You manage a bit of a laugh, even though it's not really funny.

As he's doing that, Youmu gives you a slight tug on your jacket, and then motions for you to follow her. She leads you just outside of the room.

“Is something the matter?” She asks, “You seem preoccupied.”

“Maybe,” You answer, honestly, “Don't worry about it. Something, somewhere is demanding something, but that's as specific as I can get right now.”

As if prompted by its mention, you feel yet another tug. It's the same as all the others. Vague. An itch, but with nowhere to scratch.

… no, maybe that isn't right. You definitely would have switched there, but... it's almost like you are trying to shift into something unknown, and stopping. Odd. Like having a word on the tip of your tongue, but no matter how hard you try, you simply can't remember it. Like reaching into a drawer for some papers that you need, only to find them missing.

“Very odd,” You mutter, “I wonder what this is?”

“It will reveal itself in time,” Youmu says, with a strong confidence on her face, “Sometimes, you simply need to wait.”

You laugh. “Maybe that's it.”

About then Fredrik emerges from the room, with Sakuya and Chen trailing behind him. And, behind them all, a levitating chest.

“That's that,” He says, “Now, shall we get going?”

“Uh... yeah,” You say, bringing yourself back to reality. Waiting passively was never your thing. “Sorry. That sounds good.”

He nods. “Well, then. After you.”

Your group does stop at the front desk to drop off his key, but, aside from that, nothing else happens.

… at least, not right away. About a block from the train station, a man on horseback comes running at your group full bore after turning a corner. For most of you, getting out of the way is a simple matter – however, Fredrik's trunk proves to be far less agile and definitely more random in it's movement. Although it nearly makes it out of the path, the horse still manages to give it a good thunk with it's hoof. It's enough to pop open the lid, and send a few of the contents out into the muddy road.

The man on horseback immediately slows, coming back to survey the damage.

“My word, are you all alright?” He asks, his eyes wandering to your badges. His face goes from worry to terrified very quickly. “I'm so sorry. You see, I need to-”

“It's fine,” You say, with an adrenaline-fueled laugh, “No one's hurt. Calm down.”

“Speak for yourself!” Fredrik yells, “This worthless fool just spilled my trunk!”

Worthless

… oh. And, like that, the missing piece fits.

Sometimes, the best weapon is information, and that's what you've been trying to access – information. However, the information was never actually in your mind. It was only there for a short period of time, back in the basement of the mansion. Back when you were being controlled remotely by that demon.

Something about him reminds you of her, and not in a subtle way. It's almost certain that that's whats been bothering you. You'd know for sure if you could step into a demonic mindset for a bit, but that's impossible.

Fredrik spares no time righting his trunk, and grabbing the fallen clothing.

“It's fine,” You say again, stuffing that revelation away for another few minutes. Fredrik gives you a bit of a glare. “That could have been much worse. Why the hurry?”

“I was just so excited,” He says, “You see, my daughter in the town east of here just gave birth to her first child! I was on my way to see her.”

“Ah,” You nod, “Carry on, then. Congratulations.”

“Thank you, sir,” He says, “I will be more careful.”

And, with that, the horseman departs. Fredrik looks like he's calmed down a bit – or gotten back into her act, as it were.

"I'm sorry," He laughs, "That was uncalled for."

[ ] Confront him now, and see where it leads. This could get ugly if that kind of demon gets near your train.
[ ] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.
================================================
>>37098
Yes, and he'd heard the train stopping at the small town for a change, so he figured it was your group.
>> No. 37108
[x] Confront him now, and see where it leads. This could get ugly if that kind of demon gets near your train.

We should control how things go and not risk having our 'package' explode on us.
>> No. 37109
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.

Let's be discreet. If he was going to do something to the train the moment he got near it, why would he bother infiltrating like this?
>> No. 37112
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.

Let's not get into it without a plan. This is a good opportunity here.
>> No. 37115
[X] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.

And let's just hope demons don't come in Creeper varieties.
>> No. 37116
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.
>> No. 37117
[x] Try stalling until the demon proofing is finished, then take him to the train.
>> No. 37118
[x] Inform him that your group will be re-stocking your supplies here. You doubt that you need anything, but if you can stall until Patchouli's done, then the anti-demon spell will blow his cover, and possibly harm him.
>> No. 37120
[x] Confront him now, and see where it leads. This could get ugly if that kind of demon gets near your train.

Let's not let an enemy near our transportation, hm?
>> No. 37122
>Let's not let an enemy near our transportation, hm?

Patchouli mentioned that a powerful demon could wreck the train from afar or something, since this guy come meet us instead, I guess it's okay to bring him in.
>> No. 37123
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.
Demonic mindset.
>> No. 37124
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.
>> No. 37125
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.
>> No. 37138
>>37122
What? No! That doesn't even make sense. A tiny and weak demon managed to break a critical component. If he's as tough or tougher, up close he'll manage to do at least as much damage. Just because he didn't blow it up from afar doesn't mean he can't hurt it at all!
>> No. 37141
>>37138
I'm thinking that if he wanted to destroy the train he could've had tried to go and do that while part of the party is in town. Instead he came to meet us? I think his objective is something bigger than train destruction.
>> No. 37146
[x] Play along for now – you doubt it'll do anything until you blow it's cover, and you'd like to consult Patchouli.

You smile a bit. “It's alright. I'm sure you're just stressed.”

“Perhaps,” He says, with a sigh, “I do welcome the change of scenery.”

If there's one thing you're good at, it's hiding your true motives – whether it be from yourself or others. Quickly, you file that little revelation away. It might be more dangerous to deal with it now, especially since you've got an expert on demonology waiting back at the train.

...now, what were you thinking about? Nothing important, you suppose.

“Well,” You say, “No sense standing around. Let's get that stuff out of the rain. ”

“Really?” Chen asks, looking after the man on horseback. “It might be fun if we chased him...”

“If we've got time,” Youmu offers, “We could play again.”

“Hum... you're pretty strong, though,” Chen says, frowning, “Maybe I could play with Jack?”

Hah. You wonder if that was intentional. “We'll see,” You say, leading the way again, “Besides, what makes you think I'd be easier to beat than Youmu?”

“'Cause,” She says, “We played before, remember?”

“I really was playing then,” You say, “That wasn't serious.”

Fredrik stays mostly silent during the trip back, as does Sakuya. By the time you arrive, you find about three-fourths of the engine covered up in chalk – or, at least, it looks to be chalk. You suppose if it was just chalk, it would be washing away. The remind you of the circle that Patchouli constructed back in Rokford. Some kind of exclusion circle, you'd guess.

Patchouli herself is scribbling away furiously when you arrive. Most of the others are just sort of chatting underneath the roof of the station.

“Greetings,” Fredrik says, bowing towards the rest of your team when he sees them, “I'm Fredrik, the illusionist. I suppose that we'll all be working together from now on.”

The one he doesn't see, however, is Tewi – as she's tucked away underneath the awning facing the train.

After a round of introductions, (aside from Tewi), he takes a look at the train... and just sort of stares.

“What are those?” He asks, after a short pause, “Those markings. What is she doing?”

“She's demon-proofing the train,” You say, “Well, keeping them from setting foot on it, at least.”

You'd swear that you caught his face contort into something sinister, but just for a moment. “Ah,” He says, “I see. How long will it take?”

“I'll go find out,” You say, “You can go ahead and place your things in the back car.”

“Certainly,” He says, “I'll do that.”

He takes no time leaving. And...

… right, that's not all you were going to talk to Patchouli about. You'd better make this quick.

“You're, uh...”

Tewi catches you as you try to walk by, over towards Patchouli. She seems to be watching him go.

“... you know that he reeks, right? Like he was in a campfire or something.”

“He's a demon,” You say, quietly, “And hold on. I need to talk to Patchouli.”

She looks towards you, and then back to where he boarded the passenger car. “Huh. I take it he doesn't know you know?”

You nod, and continue over to your best adviser in a case like this.

“Hey,” You say, “Can you stop for a second? It's urgent.”

She doesn't stop instantly, opting to finish whatever spiral she was on at the moment. “What is it?”

“Our new guest is possessed,” You say, “Or something. What's the best way to deal with this?”

She gives you a very stern look. You expect she doesn't want to deal with this right now. “Define deal.”

“Give me my options,” You say, “I'm almost certain that it's that demon that took me over in Rokford.”

She pauses for a moment, her gaze going vacant. It doesn't take her more than a few seconds to come up with something, though. She heaves a sigh.

“This is pure speculation,” She finally says, “But, have you noticed a smell?”

“Everyone with a good nose says he smells burnt,” You say, “But I don't notice it. Honestly, I'm not sure what's so suspicious about him, but my intuition is sure that that's what's going on.”

“Hmm.”

Another few seconds.

“It's likely that the demon is physically here, in that case” Patchouli says, “We could take steps to remove it from his body, and hope that he is still alive. We could also take steps to ensure it doesn't leave his body for an indefinite amount of time; although, this will be more difficult to do. As it stands, I do not recommend leaving it be.”

About then, you see Fredrik exit the passenger car, so you quickly ask. “So, how long until these are finished?”

“They will be done in about one hour and thirty minutes,” She says, not missing a beat. Smooth. She doesn't even bother to look over her shoulder. Then, a bit more quietly, she adds, “Neither will take long. Have you decided on an option?”

You mull over your options quickly.

[ ] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.
[ ] Contain it. Perhaps there's something to be gained here that can't be gained in a fight.
>> No. 37147
[X] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.

This is definitely one of those 'Crush first' situations.
>> No. 37149
[x] Contain it. Perhaps there's something to be gained here that can't be gained in a fight.

It'll flee or die if we don't contain it. I want to pump it for information.
>> No. 37150
[x] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.
>> No. 37153
[x] Contain it. Perhaps there's something to be gained here that can't be gained in a fight.

>>37141
I think you're right.
>> No. 37154
[x] Contain it. Perhaps there's something to be gained here that can't be gained in a fight.

The potential intel is worth the risk.
>> No. 37155
[x] Contain it. Perhaps there's something to be gained here that can't be gained in a fight.
>> No. 37156
[x] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.

If it was only Jack's life at risk, I might try the risky option, but since we have others depending on Jack's actions, I'd rather keep them safe if possible.
>> No. 37157
[X] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.

it's the last thing we need on board right now, and if patchy thinks it'll be difficult to contain him, i'd rather not take risks.

...but the big question is if we could have prevented the poor man getting possessed in the first place if we had hurried along earlier.
>> No. 37158
[X] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.

I don't imagine it would be willing to cooperate in explaining itself if it's been caught. If anything I'd say it would try to either commit suicide or worse under such situations.

Considering Jack was possessed seemingly by the very demon that has Fredrik now,

>“I'm almost certain that it's that demon that took me over in Rokford.”

there may be a chance to rescue Fredrik as well; maybe even some memory retention on what he's seen during his possession.
>> No. 37160
[x] Contain it. Perhaps there's something to be gained here that can't be gained in a fight.

It is worth a try.
>> No. 37165
[X] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.
>> No. 37166
[x] Expel it. Keeping a demon around is an unnecessary risk. Better to deal with this now.

… and, although you're torn, you really can't justify sealing a demon intoa man's body, even if it's only temporary. This isn't exactly the best place for a battle, however, as it would only take a small bit of work on the demon's part to leave you stuck here.

“We'll expel it,” You say, quietly, “But not right now. Just... be ready for it.”

“Of course,” She says, not wasting much time getting back to work.

Well, that's that, you suppose. Now you'll just need to come up with some excuse to lure the time-bomb away from the train so that you can deal with it. Maybe.

Fredrik comes to join you two shortly after, seemingly at peace with his new surroundings. “My,” He says, “That car is rather military, isn't it?”

“It's better than the front car,” You say with a laugh, “I guess you could tell that from the outside, though.”

“Indeed,” He says, “The boards are a dead giveaway.”

“Anyway,” You say, walking him back towards the main group, “Sounds like we'll be here for another hour and a half. If there's anything you need to take care of...”

You let that one hang.

“There's nothing,” He says, “As I've said, I was prepared for your arrival.”

It's about then that he sees Tewi, and his mood sours once more. “Another one?” He asks, under his breath, “No, I suppose she doesn't look so... wild.”

“She's on a different league from Chen, if that's what you mean,” You say, “I'd recommend staying on her good side.”

Tewi gives him a wink as he passes by, although he does his best to ignore it. “Yes, sorry,” He says, “I don't mean to disrespect your company. I've just not had good experiences with feral youkai in the past.”

“Just... do your best,” You say, sighing, “It's all I can ask.”

“I will try,” He says, with a faint smile.

As your group passes the time with small talk, you spend your time planning. There's a few different ways that this could play out, you suppose. Getting everyone else in on the loop is going to be tricky, as well, and you'll need to be careful. Throwing them into a fight without any warning would be far too reckless. Still, that can come after you decide what to do.

Firstly, you could simply throw things down right here. Probably not the wisest idea, but maybe it has some kind of plan that could be even more dangerous; that, and you doubt that he'd see it coming.

Another option that comes to mind would be that 'play' that Youmu suggested. It'd be a good excuse to get away from the city, but there's a good chance that 'Fredrik' would decline. If he did, you'd still have to follow through with the playtime – and openings become slim after that.

Aside from that, you're sure you could find some excuse to pull him into town. The way you imagine it in your head, it would be just you and him to avoid, with the assault group taking an alternate route. You'd have a surprise factor working in your favor, but who knows who'd be hurt.

[ ] Right here, right now. With this team, you can make it work.
[ ] Take Fredrik and the group out to 'practice' fight for a while.
[ ] Head into town. Hopefully, he's not interested in killing random civilians.
[ ] (Write-in.)
>> No. 37167
[x] Take Fredrik and the group out to 'practice' fight for a while.

We must practice team coordination: how to ambush an enemy spy. Also, pretty sure killing random humans and taking their souls is in his "to do" list.
>> No. 37168
[x] Head into town. Hopefully, he's not interested in killing random civilians.

I don't care about random civilians.
>> No. 37169
[x] Take Fredrik and the group out to 'practice' fight for a while.
>> No. 37170
[x] Take Fredrik and the group out to 'practice' fight for a while.

Shouldn't be too hard. Just explain it away as getting some sort of feel for how everyone fights so the group can be as efficient as possible for the trip.
>> No. 37176
[x] Head into town. Hopefully, he's not interested in killing random civilians.

Hopefully my vote will reach the damn server this time and show on the thread.
>> No. 37178
>We must practice team coordination: how to ambush an enemy spy.

Then I think you chose the wrong option for that.

[x] Head into town. Hopefully, he's not interested in killing random civilians.
>> No. 37180
[x] Take Fredrik and the group out to 'practice' fight for a while.

Eventually, the conversation comes to a dull spot. Chen is looking positively bored, and you think that this may be the best chance, so you decide to make your move.

“So,” You say, turning to the cat, “Were you still looking to play a bit? I was thinking that we could all get a bit of practice in while we're waiting.”

Chen's look suddenly goes from bored to 'hell yes'. “Really? Right now?”

“That might be fun,” Marisa says, “Nothing like shooting each other to pass the time, right? Besides, it might give these two some ideas,” She adds, motioning towards the siblings. “What do you think, Kyou? I could probably give you some tips.”

Kyou gives her a warm smile – you're glad to see those two hitting it off well. “Ah... well, if they're not too hard, then...”

“I'll probably sit out,” Rikako says, “Might be fun to watch, though.”

Makoto nods. “I'll be trying to predict the outcomes. It might be good practice.”

Both Sakuya and Youmu seem to be on board, while Tewi says that she'll just watch (“there's not much else to do”). That just leaves Fredrik, so you turn towards him.

“How about you?” You ask.

“A-haha,” He laughs, lightly, “No, I think I'll pass. I think that all of your youthful enthusiasm may be enough to beat me, regardless of how the actual fighting goes.”

“You had something else in mind?”

He smiles. “It's about time for my afternoon siesta. Besides, I believe all this rain may be giving me a cold.”

… about as you expected, then. With your understanding of Patchouli's runes, you're pretty sure that he's going to want to be inside the train when they're finished. He won't be able to enter the train, but he should be able to leave it. And, if he's outside, that may prove... well, awkward.

[ ] Insist that he should come. It would be beneficial for everyone to get used to everyone else's fighting style.
[ ] See if Patchouli could send him your way with a fake reason, a little while after you all leave.
[ ] (Write-in.)
>> No. 37182
[x] See if Patchouli could send him your way with a fake reason, a little while after you all leave.
>> No. 37183
[x] Insist that he should come. It would be beneficial for everyone to get used to everyone else's fighting style.
>> No. 37184
[x] See if Patchouli could send him your way with a fake reason, a little while after you all leave.

This is suspicious enough already without insisting that he come.
>> No. 37186
[x] See if Patchouli could send him your way with a fake reason, a little while after you all leave.

No need to give him reasons to think that something might be wrong.
>> No. 37201
[x] Insist that he should come. It would be beneficial for everyone to get used to everyone else's fighting style.
-[x] He can just watch, if he doesn't feel like fighting.
A chance to learn their skills without showing his? A good bait.
>> No. 37210
[ ] Insist that he should come. It would be beneficial for everyone to get used to everyone else's fighting style.

He doesn't really have a choice. Jack is the boss, and you oughta do as the boss says.
>> No. 37213
[x] See if Patchouli could send him your way with a fake reason, a little while after you all leave.
>> No. 37216
[x] See if Patchouli could send him your way with a fake reason, a little while after you all leave.

“Well,” You shrug, “We wouldn't want you to get sick. Rikako, do you have any more of that medicine left?”

“Huh?” She asks, before reaching into her coat. “Oh, yeah. I've got a little left.”

“Ah... thanks,” Fredrik says, as she hands the flask to him. He doesn't take it, however “But, it's not really necessary.”

“Hey, we can't have you sick for tomorrow,” She says, “Go on, I promise it won't kill you.”

Fredrik sighs, taking the flask. “I'm not much for medicine. I'll hold on to this, and take it if I feel worse.”

Rikako seems a bit put off by that. “Oh, well... I guess that's alright,” She says, “Still, it'd be good if you take it.”

Fredrik nods, looking off towards the train. “Thank you. Well, you all enjoy your sparing.”

You nod. “And you enjoy your siesta.”

“So,” Chen says, as he walks off, “Can we play now?”

“Let's go off in that direction a ways,” You say, motioning to the gently rolling hills beyond the train, “It may be good to get away from town.”

“Hey, I like that,” Marisa says, “Less to worry about.”

“You all can go ahead,” You say, “I've got to chat with Patchouli for a minute.”

“Right,” Marisa says, “Everyone ready?”

With that taken care of, you split off from the main group and head over towards Patchouli's latest piece. She's working at a very incredible pace – you didn't think it would be possible for her to move this fast if you hadn't seen it yourself.

“Hey,” You say, yelling up towards the hovering mage, “Got a minute?”

She nods, and gently floats down. “What is it?”

“Would you like to come with us?” You ask, “We're going out of town to spar for a bit. Just over that way.”

Patchouli lowers her voice. “Then, should I get ready?”

“I'll need you to lure Fredrik over towards us somehow, too,” You respond, also lowering your voice, “Is that alright?”

“I would prefer not to,” She says, being frank, “But it is probably the best option now.”

“Good,” You nod, “I'm going to go inform the others. We'll be using the hand signals we made up in Rokford.”

“This should be interesting,” She says, “I will try to send him over in approximately a half hour.”

“Right,” You say, “Thanks. We'll see you then.”

Although you feel a little tinge of guilt for leaving it up to Patchouli, alone, to send the demon your way, you think she'll be fine. She knows what she's doing. You bid her farewell, and jog your way up to the rest of the group. When there, you get Youmu to give you the time for reference.

Eventually, you all come to a stop on top of a small hill about a half-mile from the station. It offers a pretty nice view, and you're pretty sure that this should be good enough to prevent any sort of collateral damage. Even Marisa would have a hard time hitting the train from here.

“So,” Marisa says, “Who's going to go first? Or should we do teams?”

“Actually,” You interrupt, “I've got something to mention first.”

Tewi seems to know what's going on – you can tell by that grin on her face – but everyone else is clueless. “Well,” You laugh, “I don't know how to say this, but it turns out that our new friend a demon. I'm 99% sure, at least.”

Marisa laughs. “Nah, he's just old guard. They're all like that.”

“I'm actually being serious,” You say again, “So, we'll be going over some hand motions to coordinate our attacks and such.”

“Whoa,” Marisa says, “Hold on. What? Why'd we leave him alone back at the train, then?”

“A demon?” Kyou asks, sounding on edge, “Really?”

“A demon...” Makoto echoes.

You gesture for everyone to be quiet for a moment. “He's putting on a pretty good show, so I don't think his goal is to destroy our ride or anything. Patchouli's going to lure him over here on a false pretense, and then we'll strike. It's a simple plan, and all we've got to do is bring our firepower to bare when they gets here.”

“Why lure him, then?” Marisa asks, “I don't get it.”

“Jack's preventing collateral damage,” Youmu answers, “It may have a different goal if it's discovered. Still... how are you sure of this? He is not possessed by any spirits, demonic or otherwise.”

“The demon is physically here,” You say, “I don't get it myself, but Patchouli said that that's the most likely case. Oh, and that thing bothering me before? That was the hunch that caused this. I'm pretty sure that this is the demon we dealt with back in Rokford.”

“... ah,” Youmu says, sounding almost embarrassed. “Then, it wouldn't be just a spirit. I see.”

“I told you he stinks!” Chen says, to no one in particular. “See?”

“Yeah, he reeks,” Tewi says, “I can't believe you guys can't smell it.”

Youmu shrugs. “Smell isn't very important for humans.”

“I'm up for a bit of revenge,” Marisa says, smiling a bit. “Let's kick its ass.”

Rikako sighs. “You should have told me before. I would have grabbed some of my special concoctions. Still, I guess I've got enough ordinance here.”

“Anyway,” You say, “About those hand signals I mentioned. You remember them, right Marisa?”

“I guess,” She says, shrugging, “The ones we actually used, anyway.”

“Well, for the rest of you,” You say, “They're not too difficult. I'll show you. See, first, you've got...”

The commands are still pretty fresh in your mind as well, so you have no difficulty conveying them. Even Chen seems to remember a few of them after your quick little lecture. You think that this will work fine.

All of that takes about twenty minutes, and, accounting for the trip over, you should be expecting those two any minute now. In the meantime most of the group partners up and spars a bit, although you sit out for now.

Ten minutes later, and you still don't see anything. Fifteen, and nothing.

[ ] Maybe something has gone wrong.
[ ] It's fine. You can rely on Patchouli.
>> No. 37217
[x] It's fine. You can rely on Patchouli.

She's fiiiiiiine.
>> No. 37219
[x] It's fine. You can rely on Patchouli.

No smoke? No explosions? No koakuma arriving in a panic bearing bad news? Give it ten more minutes.
>> No. 37220
[ ] Maybe something has gone wrong.

You guys are worthless.
>> No. 37221
[x] Maybe something has gone wrong.

Patchouli is more dilligent than to slack off.
>> No. 37223
[x] Maybe something has gone wrong.
-[x] Send a scout. Tewi or Chen.
>> No. 37225
[x] Maybe something has gone wrong.
-[x] Send a scout. Tewi or Chen.
>> No. 37228
[x] Maybe something has gone wrong.
-[x] Send a scout. Tewi or Chen.

Tewi should be fast, right?
>> No. 37233
[x] Maybe something has gone wrong.
-[x] Send a scout. Tewi or Chen.

… and, you must admit, you're getting a bit worried. From your experience, she should have been here by now – you wouldn't expect her to be late with something like this. Still, you can't be sure, and bringing everyone back to the station would be, at the very least, pretty risky. Maybe a scout would be better.

Your first candidate is obvious. Aside from yourself and Sakuya, Tewi is the only one not currently working on something/sparing with someone else. Somehow, you doubt Sakuya would accept, so you turn towards Tewi.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” She echoes back, a bit lazily, “What's up?”

“I'm getting worried about Patchouli,” You say, frankly, “Would you mind checking on her for me?”

Tewi seems amused by your request, at least. “Yeah, I guess I could do that.”

“Thanks,” You say, “Try to be discreet.”

“Sure, and it's nothing,” She says, motioning towards Youmu and Chen, “I was getting kind of bored watching those two go at it, anyway. Chen's way outclassed.”

And, as it turns out, she's still got a lot of that rabbit speed behind her. It won't take her very much time at all to get there and back – probably only a few minutes. For now, you'll just keep sitting here.

Sakuya, noticing the exchange, turns towards you. “Do you think something has happened?” She asks.

“I hope not,” You say, sighing, “Maybe she's just late.”

“She does not seem the type to be late,” Sakuya notes.

“Yeah, I agree. I'm sure she's fine, in any case.”

Sakuya nods, and returns her gaze towards the town. “It would be a shame if she wasn't. She owes her tale as much as you do.”

Back to that, then. If there's anything you can give Sakuya credit for, it's her devotion. “By the way,” You say, motioning towards the rest of your group, “I know you intend to protect everyone who was at Rokford, but does that extend towards them as well?”

It's something that's been on your mind; you just haven't found a good time to ask.

Sakuya doesn't answer for a bit. “I suppose it does,” She finally says, “Every extra body raises your chance of success, and that chance is already unreasonably low.”

You laugh. “I think we've got a good shot. Well, unless Shiki herself shows up or something. We may look like a bunch of idiots, but we're not slouches.”

Or those two demons who's contract you broke could show up, you suppose, but you were making a joke – not a statement about things to come.

“However, the three of you – and myself - are more important,” She continues, “Keep that in mind.”

“That's pretty reasonable,” You say, shrugging, “Guess I'll just need to throw myself into harm's way more than I usually would, then.”

“How reckless,” She comments, with a bit of disgust in her voice. Then, after a few moments, she speaks up again. “It seems that our friend is on his way.”

You turn to face the town and see that, yes, he is indeed coming. At least, you're sure that that's not Tewi or Patchouli. It takes him a bit of time to arrive, but by the time he does you're doing your best to pay attention to the rest of the group.

“Jack,” Fredrik says, startling you a bit. He's right behind you by the time he announces his presence, “I've got something for you. From the Guildmaster.”

You notice that he's carrying a folded bit of paper, so you nod and take it. He also seems a bit anxious – agitated, maybe.

“Thanks,” You say, “What is it?”

“Aside from what I've said, I don't know,” He says, “I can't read it. The elementalist couldn't either. It must be for your eyes only.”

Unfolding the thing, you can see immediately that this isn't from Yagokoro. It is encoded for you, but the message is from Patchouli. Aside from the forward, which just tells you to read it out loud and directly from the paper, it's an incantation. Presumably to eject this thing from Fredrik's body. It also mentions that she couldn't find an excuse to make her way up here, so she probably won't be able to join you.

“I see,” You say, scanning over the paper, “Interesting. It's not really that critical, though; she wouldn't have gotten you up if she knew what was in it.”

With that, all the pieces are in place, although you wonder if you couldn't make this position just a bit better before kicking off the fight.

[ ] He's expecting something, so it would be wise to put him at ease first. Invite him to stay, make some small talk, etc.
[ ] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.
>> No. 37234
[ ] He's expecting something, so it would be wise to put him at ease first. Invite him to stay, make some small talk, etc.
>> No. 37235
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.

Just do it. If the demon was expecting something, it wouldn't have wandered into the trap.
>> No. 37236
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.

Heaven, Hell, Rock, etc.
>> No. 37238
[ ] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.
>> No. 37239
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.

Attack him before he suspects anything.
>> No. 37240
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.

He's unaware (otherwise he'd have destroyed the letter)
>> No. 37241
[ ] He's expecting something, so it would be wise to put him at ease first. Invite him to stay, make some small talk, etc.
>> No. 37242
Just so you know, he's agitated from fighting Patchouli. The 'stall' option is to wait for Tewi to come back up with the bad news.

At least that's what the spirit in my closet told me.

[x] Thank him for the help and dismiss him.
-[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – as soon as he turns around.

We have a better chance if he doesn't actually see when we start the chant.
>> No. 37248
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.
>> No. 37250
[ ] He's expecting something, so it would be wise to put him at ease first. Invite him to stay, make some small talk, etc.
>> No. 37252
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.

Let's go.
>> No. 37264
[x] Read the incantation, strike fast, and strike hard – you doubt that he's expecting this.

To do that, you'll want to strike swiftly and with as much force as you can bring to bare.

“Well,” Fredrik says, with a bow, “I'll be on my way, then.”

And, now is as good of a time as any. “Oh, actually,” You say, “This is pretty critical. Thanks for bringing this to me.”

“What is?” He asks, without much hesitation.

“It concerns you, actually,” You say, reaching behind yourself to give the rest of the group a sign. Hopefully, someone will catch it, “Let me read it.”

Making sure to keep your eyes on the paper, you do your best to pronounce the old tongue written before you with power. It's something every mage learns at some point, just because so many things are written in it, but 'you' don't often need to recite incantations. Usually, it's something one of your other sides does.

It's rather lengthy, taking up five lines as opposed to the word or five that would normally be used in something. By about the third line, you can hear that Fredrik isn't having a very good time – quite a lot of pained groaning – and by the forth it turns to yelling. After finishing the last word, the paper itself begins to heat up as the magic issues forth. It consumes itself in flame, but you make sure to hold on to it until the very last moment. Then, you look up.

What you see... well, you weren't sure what you expected to see, but this doesn't seem like it. Fredrik lies crumpled on the ground now, and, crawling out of his now insanely large mouth, comes a female figure. Kyou squeals a bit at seeing that – you probably would too, if you weren't in such shock – while everyone else simply looks on.

The demon takes a bit of effort to struggle free, but eventually it manages to shed Fredrik like a tight piece of clothing. It all ends with one final shove, as the demon spills out on to the ground, covered in a bit of slime. It quickly evaporates, however, and you're left with one pissed off looking woman. Fredrik's mouth and head seem to have gone back to it's original shape after expelling the demon, but you can't tell if he's breathing or not.

The demon's hair is as blue as her eyes are red, but if you ignore that, she could probably pass as a human. Speed is of the essence here, so you give the signal to attack, and ---

--- do your part; that is, act as a shield. There is plenty of firepower here, but it'll be up to you to make sure that they aren't taken down before they can do anything.

Youmu is quick to rush at the figure, swords drawn, right alongside Chen. You take the opportunity to fall back towards the rest of the group, right as the initial salvo of beams and other flashy orbs - probably something Rikako kicked up - go flying past you.

The demon lets out a yell, and erupts in a storm of magical projectiles herself. The blast is enough to catch Chen unaware, sending her flying backwards. Somehow, Youmu manages to squeeze between the things, while the ones heading in your direction are absorbed by a quick shield.

And, as usual, you can tell that you'll need to end this quickly. You won't be able to last more than a few minutes. The demon doesn't seem particularly agile. Most of your teams' blows are connecting... but it also seems like they aren't doing much.

Chen decides to slip away at this point, heading to the other side of the hill. Just as you think she's out of the fight, though, she's quickly back in it. Very quickly. Fast enough that she seems to blur as she does ti. She, too, seems to have a few magical bursts to spare, and decides to sprinkle them about.

At this point, you can hardly see what's going on; the cloud of projectiles is too dense. Chen's indiscriminate shooting isn't helping the shielding situation much, either, as you're catching her bullets as well as the ones from your foe.

[ ] Get Chen to cut it out.
[ ] Pull back a bit.
>> No. 37265
[x] Pull back a bit.
>> No. 37269
[x] Pull back a bit.
>> No. 37270
[x] Pull back a bit.

Well, confusion.
>> No. 37272
[X] Pull back a bit.

So our demon is a Succubus? Seeing as the only demonic 'features' are blood red eyes, deep blue hair, and the fact that it's female.
>> No. 37273
[x] Pull back a bit.
>>37272
Might be Luize, after she palette swaps in stage four.
>> No. 37299
[x] Pull back a bit.

This isn't a sustainable position in the slightest; from here, you'd have maybe thirty seconds at most until you'd be out of energy. You order everyone behind you to fall back a fair distance. Hopefully, it'll be enough to dodge most of this mess.

While doing so, you move as close as you can to the artillery and take a knee while the others get down low as well. Marisa and Kyou are quite literally firing over your shoulder, doing their best to keep the beams on target. Marisa is a crack shot as always, but Kyou seems to be having trouble finding her mark at anything less than point blank range.

Of course, Rikako is having no issues with that gun of hers. Your ears are ringing from the thing – it's much louder than anything else here – but she seems to be right on target. Makoto... well, you're not sure what he's doing, exactly. He's yelling directions, such as left and right, but you can't follow his gaze at all. You just assume they're aimed towards the melee group.

Back here, with your lowered profile, you should be able to keep the shield up for a a few minutes. At least, that's what you think initially.

The demon manages to land exactly two lucky blows – one versus Youmu, and one versus Chen – and makes her way towards the rest of the group. She's surprisingly fast, and, although Sakuya manages to plant a salvo of knives into her flank while she rushes your group, she doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing.

She's definitely wounded, however, bleeding what probably passes for blood in demons from at least four different slashing wounds. She bumps into the barrier, looks at you – directly into your eyes – just for a split second, and then unleashes another flurry of bullets.

At this range, you catch close to half of the salvo with your shield – and it promptly fails, leaving you all very exposed. There's no time to restore the shield. The demon lunges at you, but ---

--- you've got plenty of time to dodge. My, how did you let the flow of battle get this bad, you wonder? It's incredibly chaotic. Demons always are, you suppose, since they don't have to rely on anything other than natural ability, but even your own party is beginning to lose its nerve.

Thankfully you're here, and you do your best to bolster their confidence. The demon lunges again, and this time, it manages to strike the side of your torso. There you are – an opening. You bolster its confidence as well. Yes, don't worry, demon. You can kill Jack with ease. There is enough time to strike – your speed is plenty good enough. She prepares for a third blow, and you cross your fingers.

You see the strike coming, and probably would have dodged it if it wasn't interrupted. Youmu, right on cue, impales the creature from behind. The blade enters through the lower back and exits somewhere near the middle of the chest, covered in blood. A second and third blow come from Marisa and Rikako, respectively, while everyone else waits to see if the fight is finished.

As Youmu withdraws her blade, the demon falls to the ground. Her vitality has dropped quite a bit, it seems. You doubt she'll be getting up from that one.

“Ugh,” The demon coughs with that underworldy voice of hers. She hacks up a bit of blood in the process – so, you guess that demons do have lungs to impale. “N-no... I... enough...”

Oddly enough, the demon begins to change color. Her blue hair turns to a shade of gold, her clothing becoming something less dark, and her eyes lose that red glow in favor of a yellow one.

“... have mercy...”

That demonic chaos... it's very hard to read. Once again, you're left in the dark as to what sorts of energies are swirling through her head right now. Everyone, aside from Youmu, looks towards you for guidance.

[ ] Absolutely not. Send this thing back to hell.
[ ] You've got room for more prisoners.
>> No. 37300
Interesting choice as a Demon wouldn't be so quick to beg for mercy...

[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

The above sentiment and the fact we don't want Makai to get the information she has. Also she has some answers to provide.
>> No. 37302
That was a pretty seamless transition there at the last half. I wonder what Jack shifted to.

[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

I'm sure Patchouli knows some way to bind her. Of course it should be thorough enough that the demon will need to ask for someone to scratch her nose.
>> No. 37303
[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

>>37302
Looks like Manipulator, with the battle flow stuff. I like its style.
>> No. 37309
[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

Just look at the people he is traveling with. An ex vampire servant who swore to kill him, youkai and some others i don't need to mention.

Why not convince a demon to join this side for the heck of it.
>> No. 37313
[X] You've got room for more prisoners.

We're going to have a revolt on our hands if we keep her. Demons eat souls as sustenance, Marisa atleast is going to go fucking ape on us if we even suggest this.
>> No. 37314
[x] You've got room for more prisoners.
>> No. 37316
>>37313
I agree. An heretic is a thing, but a demon? Hell, no.

[x] Absolutely not. Send this thing back to hell.
>> No. 37318
>>37313
You don't see Patchy's Koarmy sucking up souls.
>> No. 37322
>>37318
Point, and you don't see marisa going ape on those koakumas either...
Then again, we hinted that this is the same demon who possessed us back in SDM, which would put us directly at odds with marisa if we don't terminate it here.
>> No. 37323
[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

Sending it back to Hell will just give it the chance to be a reinforcement when the demons actually start deploying.
>> No. 37325
[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

Intel. It might have intel on the current situation in the capital. That information will be worth the risk of sparing it.
>> No. 37326
>We're going to have a revolt on our hands if we keep her.
Yeah! Isn't it great? Mutiny is a spice of fictional life~
>> No. 37329
>>37322
if it is the demon in question, then she can answer some questions.
>> No. 37344
So like we kept Sakuya we keep a demon now? Her opinion of us as weak fools will come true if we do this.
>> No. 37345
File 131950040014.jpg - (27.65KB , 640x480 , Doomtrain.jpg ) [iqdb]
37345
>>37344
Personally I'd like to find a way to harness the demon as a source of energy for the train. Hopefully the end result is something like this.
>> No. 37348
>>37345

Only if we get to suplex it. Successfully and with no drawbacks.
>> No. 37352
[x] You've got room for more prisoners.

… hmm. You do have a bit more space on-board the train, and it might be possible to squeeze some information out of this creature. Of course, you'll need to wait for Patchouli to show up to see if keeping her would be safe, but for now you'll let her live.

“Let her live,” You tell them, “But be on your guard. I can't read her at all.”

That garners an interesting reaction from the people present, but not an unexpected one. Marisa is fuming, as you'd expect. Everyone else just shows varying degrees of confusion, with Youmu showing almost none and Sakuya showing the most.

“That's it? Chen asks.

“That's it,” You say, simply.

Although you can't read the demon at all, it drops its head completely at the news – but not before looking a bit relieved. Resting, no doubt. It's still spilling that foul-smelling blood on to the ground, but you know nothing on demonic physiology. Still, if you had to wager a guess from the energy it's giving off, you'd say that she's just resting instead of dying. It doesn't seem to be decreasing substantially.

With that taken care of, you quickly turn your attention to Fredrik, who's still lying where he fell at the start of this whole mess.

“Youmu, keep watch. If she tries to get up, stop her.”

Youmu nods. “Yes.”

“You're just going to let her live?” Marisa finally asks, “I know she's asking for mercy and everything, but... really?”

“Not now,” You say, not bothering to turn away from Fredrik, “He isn't dead, but he needs immediate attention.”

Indeed, Fredrik is still barely alive. Moving closer, you're actually surprised how lucky he was – his clothes hardly look touched at all by the magic that was going on mere feet from his body. You suppose that any bullets going straight down are mostly wasted, so perhaps Chen and the demon managed to avoid him on accident.

Still, he's very weak. Weather that was from the battle or the exorcism, you don't know, but he's on the verge of death.

Rikako spares no time making her way over. When you give her a curious look, she just puts on a grim smile. “I'm a doctor on the side. Being an alchemist gets expensive, and you need to pay the bills somehow.”

She looks him over for about a minute, placing her fingers on various points around his body, pausing, and doing so again. Eventually, she feeds him liquid from a small vial that she produces from her coat, and turns to you.

“I've got stuff in my kit back at the train that'll work,” She says, “But he'll need it soon, and he'll need to be there when it finished brewing. What I gave him was only a temporary solution.”

You nod. She'll need help carrying him back, then. Strength-wise, Youmu probably has everyone here beat – but you're not sure that sending her would be wise. Next down the line would probably be Chen, with her being a youkai and all.

“Hey, Chen,” You say, “Do you think you could help Rikako bring Fredrik back to the train?”

She frowns a bit. “I don't want to. He's mean.”

She was mean,” You clarify, motioning to the demon, “We don't know what he's like.”

“She was trying to be him,” Chen says again, “So he's mean. I think.”

That's... probably correct, actually. Not that you would have expected Chen to come up with that on her own. Maybe she's a bit sharper than she seems.

Next down the line, then, would be you. Not happening. You're going to stay here and watch over your new prisoner, to make sure that neither the prisoner nor Marisa decide to do something irritating while you're away.

… ah, but it probably comes down to Marisa for help, after all. And she seems to realize it, because she quickly speaks up.

“I can do it.”

It's easy enough to fill in the 'Anything to get away from you.' on the end of that, but at least she's respecting your request to let the issue to lie for now. Makoto and Kyou don't need to deal with that kind of bickering right now.

“You two can go, too,” You say, motioning towards the two initiates, “I don't think you really want to hang around here in the rain, right?”

Kyou seems almost startled to be talked to, as up until this point she'd been shifting her gaze between the bloody demon and the crouched Rikako. Makoto... well, he seems to be handling it fine outwardly, but you can tell he's a bit disturbed by the whole scene himself.

“Ehh... I wish we had a stretcher or something,” Rikako groans, after hoisting Fredrik up with Marisa. They'll be carrying him by his arms, it seems. Thankfully, he doesn't look to be a heavy man. “This isn't going to be fun.”

“It's not too bad,” Marisa says, “We'll just need to watch our step. The grass is pretty slick.”

“Yeah.” Then, turning to you, Rikako asks, “Want us to send Patchouli your way?”

“If she's not already on the way, yes,” You say, nodding.

“Alright.”

Off they go, with the two siblings trailing behind them. That ends up leaving you, Youmu, Sakuya, and your new 'friend' alone on top of the hill. Youmu seems to be taking your watch order very seriously – she hasn't moved an inch since you gave it – while Sakuya coldly retrieves her knives from the fallen demon. It doesn't flinch much.

“This is foolish,” She says, after she notices you watching her, “Incredibly foolish. The witch is right. Do you take every enemy you fight prisoner?”

“Weighing the pros and the cons,” You say, vaguely, “I don't think it's so foolish.”

“Then you are incorrect.”

You shrug. It's not really worth your time to argue against that.

“Are you alive?” You ask, moving a bit closer to the demon. Of course, you already know the answer. You're just curious if she still has the energy to speak.

“... yeah,” She answers, painfully. Very quietly, too – it's barely above a whisper. Her head stays resting on the ground, off to one side. “Barely. My front pocket...”

“Hm?”

“A... crystal,” She continues, “Need it.”

“What for?”

“To live.”

Her arm moves a bit, but she clearly doesn't have the energy to fetch whatever this crystal is for herself.

[ ] You can't have her dying. Fetch it for her.
[ ] You can't have her dying. Have Youmu grab it.
[ ] She'll just have to wait until Patchouli arrives.
================================================
>>37303
Yeah, that's what paradigm he shifted into.
>> No. 37353
[x] You can't have her dying. Fetch it for her.

I don't think it's a full heal, or that she'd start fighting again if it is.. but if she does, we have enough firepower here to subdue her again. Or, it could be a bomb of some sort... that doesn't seem likely, though.

And we'd look really bad if she died.
>> No. 37354
Danggit, you just HAD to send our diviner back. We might have been able to divine the crystal's use with his help. Still, they are children. Don't want them catching a cold. That said:

[x]You want to check this thing out before you make any decisions. Fetch the crystal, but don't give it to her yet.
-[x]If you can't seem to be able to identify it, ask Chen to run and fetch Makoto. He would most likely be faster than waiting for patchouli.

And who else is reminded of back in Rokford, where all of those souls Remillia had were stored in a crystal? Maybe this demon is trying to send the souls she collected to Makai before we take her captive and find out about it.
>> No. 37355
[x] You can't have her dying. Fetch it for her.
>> No. 37356
>>37354
This is a tiny crystal. If it has souls, it isn't holding very many. Like a medpack.
>> No. 37357
>>37356
A soul is a soul, and we don't need Marisa even more pissed at us. I think Jack prefers to stay in one piece. Also the fact that every soul makes Makai stronger. A penny saved, ect.
>> No. 37359
[x] She'll just have to wait until Patchouli arrives.
>> No. 37360
>>37357
Why are you assuming it would send the souls back to Makai? This is definitely for personal use, whatever it is.

Marisa isn't here. We never saw a crystal and we're never telling her about it. ah, who am I kidding, waiting for Patchy is going to win
>> No. 37362
>>37360
It's likely something to stabilize her existence here.

[x] You can't have her dying. Fetch it for her.
>> No. 37363
[x] She'll just have to wait until Patchouli arrives.
>> No. 37364
[x] You can't have her dying. Fetch it for her.
>> No. 37367
[x] She'll just have to wait until Patchouli arrives.
>> No. 37371
[x] She'll just have to wait until Patchouli arrives.

No need to risk their lives for a crystal we know nothing about as her request could very well be a deception.
>> No. 37406
New update over >>37405