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34237 No. 34237
Continuation of >>32909

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BGM: "Tues Deus Meus (In Manibus Tuis)"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtXj3Q821P0

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Before I could properly react, the horned she-beast crashed into me at an inhuman velocity, slamming me clean off my feet and nearly knocking the wind out of me. Naturally, when a 'proper' reaction is out of the question, you turn to less proper ones - as we hit the ground, I pulled up my legs and pressed my feet against her chest, rolling into the momentum and kicking her off my body into the wall behind me. Springing back to my feet, I turned around just in time to see her neatly latch onto the metal cage surrounding the ring of battle with her fingers and toes. Whoever this strange woman was, she was rather... acrobatic. Blazing red eyes now fixated upon me with a burning mad hatred, she leapt from the wall to come crashing down with a deadly kick.

I dashed backwards in reverse just in time to avoid it, quickly drawing my whip to properly defend myself; noticing Alice, who had regained her senses after the initial shock of the lightning-fast lycanthrope attacking us all of a sudden and was readying a spell to assist me, I shouted to her while gesturing skywards.

"Alice! The moon!"

The dropkick had embedded the woman's leg in the sandy dirt floor of the ring, temporarily immobilizing her and allowing me to take on a defensive, combat-ready stance. Meanwhile, to the side, my companion had halted her spellcasting, arm still outstretched in the direction of our mysterious opponent as she glanced to me in confusion.

"The moon? What are you-..."

In less time than it takes you to blink an eye, the werebeast pulled her leg free and dashed for me once again, with me barely seeing it coming and blocking the swipes of her claws with the chain of my weapon, her relentless flurry of strikes forcing me to slowly step backwards. Noticing a hole in her defenses, I pulled back, her next claw swipe missing and sending her off-balance just long enough for me to kick her in the stomach hard enough to push her a fair distance away, giving me a window of opportunity to speak once more.

"The full moon was yesterday{/b]!"

"Yester-..." Suddenly, Alice blinked, looking upwards at the nigh sky above, the false moon shining down upon us with its unholy light.
"Got it." And with that, she levitated off the ground, flying upwards in the direction of the 'sky' overhead, leaving me to deal with the woman...
Now, most therianthropes - werewolves and the like - are beyond saving. The disease or curse which drives their transformation tends to also warp their minds, leaving them essentially rabid both in their beast forms and out of them. There are naturally exceptions, of course; for example, magical shapeshifters tend to retain their human minds even if they transform into animals. However, that's irrelevant to this story... As I was saying, most werebeasts are beyond saving, the best release one could offer them being to put them down and end their suffering.

However... this woman felt different, somehow. I could sense it - her human spirit, locked away within, struggling to get out and regain control. The one obstacle in the way? That false moon. I remembered it clearly. The night before, the old innkeeper had warned me about the full moon, advising me to spend the night as opposed to taking on the mistress on a night when the forces of darkness are at the peak of their power; furthermore, I had confirmed this by looking at the full moon myself, that night. This was an illusion of sorts, or something like that... Created to keep this woman in a perpetual shapeshifted state, and to drive her mad. Little did I know this would not be the first time Gensokyo would be dealing with a false moon, but that's another story...

Anyway, as Alice rushed upwards to get rid of the false moon, it was my job to keep the woman occupied. To my surprise, me kicking her and drawing my weapon didn't drive her into an even deeper craze, but... seemed to bring her to a state of focus. Growling and howling just moments ago, she suddenly took on the expression of a predator patiently circling its prey... and proceeded to do just that. As we slowly began walking around one another in a clockwise circle, I got a better look at her.

I still had no idea what animal she was meant to be. On the one hand, she had horns, like a bull; or, well, a cow in this case. Sharp ones, too. On the other hand, that bushy tail seemed out of place... It resembled that of a wolf. I couldn't think of any horned beast with a tail like that, at the time. What else was strange was that the rest of her body was not covered in fur, unlike most therianthropes - while the degree of transformation varies between person, she looked almost entirely human aside from the horns, tail, and sharp claws. Her facial lines were... peculiar. I couldn't tell what her ethnicity was - it was as if she were some sort of strange amalgam of the entire human race, characteristics of Asians, Europeans... everything, and yet it all seemed to form a surprisingly well-formed, even beautiful face. It was a little difficult to tell at the time, of course, what with the way her hair was hanging over her face, which was contorted in rage...

Movement. In the corner of my eye. But I was faster. I turned and blocked her blow, this time a punch as opposed to a claw strike. Two more blows followed before I could even react, one hitting me in the chest and the other smacking me right in the face, knocking me backwards and striking with enough force to cause my vision to turn black for a second or two. As I regained my balance, I tasted blood; however, a quick check proved that all my teeth and my nose were intact. Satisfied that my looks had not been tarnished, I spat out the blood (mostly just to look tough) and decided it was time to stop being defensive - it was time to see how well this woman could dodge, too.

The holy chain whistled through the air at a velocity I wouldn't exactly have considered bone-crunching - after all, my intention was merely to keep this woman busy, not kill her. However, one blink of the eye later I realized my misjudgement of her abilities - with her right in my face, I stepped backwards to avoid another flurry of blows, jerking the whip back and using my other arm as leverage against the chain to swing the spiked ball on the tip right at her head.

...which she didn't seem to expect, as it resulted in a loud [b]crunch
, blood and small shards of bone spraying from her face as her cheek caved in. Crap. Or, I would have thought 'crap' if this had killed her, or at least incapacitated her. But no - before my very eyes, she slowly turned her head back to face me, the grotesque wound -fading- before my very eyes... and within my memory, as if I had never struck her at all. Confused, I looked down at the spiked ball of the whip that had struck her, but the blood on it was also fading away as if it were never there to begin with. Did I actually strike her, or..? I couldn't remember. Maybe I was only imagining it-... no. I saw it clearly, I heard it, I felt the blood spraying on my face. Mustering up my will, I convinced myself I had hit her - this was not regeneration, this was something else entirely.

Her face now fully 'healed', her lips contorted back into a savage sneer; before she could move in for another attack, I whipped her again, drawing my dagger and slicing through the air before she could attempt to blindside me after evading the chain. Using the dagger to keep her at a distance from myself, I proceeded to keep her under constant pressure with the whip, my strikes flowing without pauses, the woman sidestepping most of them, yet getting hit by the occasional stray lash, each wound of hers disappearing mere moments after she took the hit. As she got a little too close and tried to grab my hair, I cut a gash across her palm with the dagger and delivered a downwards kick to her thigh, greatly diminishing her mobility for a brief moment as she roared in pain.

I took the chance to look up. Alice was almost to the 'sky', although I wondered just what she could do to disrupt the fake moon... Just blast it? Or would it involve some sort of bizarre magical ritual? Perhaps I could-...
Ah, my foe had already recovered. Not too soon did I notice this, either - just barely managing to sidestep her lunge, I pulled my coattails over her head, blinding her while narrowly avoiding getting stuck in her horns. Just like a bullfighter! My dagger moved to strike, but I could only damage the ragged clothing she was wearing, cutting a gash in the back of the fabric. Trying to take advantage of this moment, I turned around and aimed another strike of the whip at her back... which she dodged effortlessly without even looking at me.

Damnit, did that woman have eyes in the back of her-...

Oh.

Two vertical rows of red eyes, running down her back, staring right at me even as her face was turned away. Two pairs of horn-like spikes also sprouted from her spine, at either end of the rows of eyes; I hadn't noticed before, due to her hunched posture and the rags covering her body. Just what manner of creature was she..? Well, no matter - eyes in her back or not, I had to keep her busy. As she moved her head to look upwards at Alice, I struck once again with the whip, only to have her roll to the side and turn around on one knee. Before I could even begin to guess what she was up to, she scooped up some of the sand and dirt on the floor of the arena, slinging it right at my face, blinding me. All I could really do was wildly slash about with my dagger, rubbing the crap out of my eyes with my other hand. Hurry up, Alice..!

By the time I was able to see once again, I saw her charging right at me at full speed, those deadly horns aiming to kill...



[] Jump.
[] Slide.
[] Counterattack. (Optional: Specify weapon and/or method.)

>> No. 34239
[x]Jump

No hesitation. L2minotaur.
>> No. 34240
[x] Jump.

Over the head.
>> No. 34241
[X] Slide

She's no typical minotaur as no minotaur is that acrobatic. Therianthropes (were-beasts/half human-half beast) on the other hand seem more than capable of changing her trajectory...

The hunter has seen her jump before and oh boy it'll be like getting struck with a pitchfork with possibly the strength of a couple of wrecking balls at the same time if she connects her charging attack.

plus a swift kick to the ass assuming the slide is successful ought to buy the hunter perhaps less than a second to react accordingly.
>> No. 34242
[x]Jump
To the side.
[x] Counterattack.
Fast turn and two quick whip slashes.
[x] Inventory
Justin Case.

If my experience in monster hunter tells me something, is that the monster will try to stop immediately after missing its target. Considering the range of our MC's weapon, I think that she'll be well within his range. The second slash is not so much as damage but as a precaution: if the monster somehow dodges the first one, she may attempt a quick counterattack. However, if a second slash is interposing between her and her target (and considering her lack of ranged weapons*) she will have no choice but to wait until it's over, giving the MC enough time to assert the situation after that somewhat disorienting quick turn.

*The last's monster specialty was lasers, this one charges. Long range, close range... is Remilia trying to make a fucking theme park here?
On that matter, Taisa, what will happen to Suika and Cirno? Are they still in that dungeon? Will they come to save the day? Was it even possible to get this far with Cirno as a teammate, or our MC would discover a new power to compensate? So many questions!
>> No. 34243
[x]Slide

Sounds good
>> No. 34244
[x] Jump.

God damn update, i love you Taisa.
>> No. 34247
>properly hakutaku-y version of Keine
Fuck yeah.

>sexy hakutaku Keine picture in OP
Fuck yeah.

[x] Jump

>>34241
>Therianthropes on the other hand seem more than capable of changing her trajectory...
Ignoring for the moment that this sentence makes no sense, what proof in-story do you have to back this up?
>> No. 34248
>>34247
I'm not him, but I'm guessing he's referring to the Rondo of Blood werewolf, who hops around the screen and has a wall jump attack very similar to the one Keine did at the start of the update (and, now that I think about it, pretty similar to Remilia's wall jump attack in SWR too).
>> No. 34249
>>34239
>>34240
>L2minotaur.

Consider the fact that the Minotaur is known to use a charging attack leading into a Shoryuken on occasion.
>> No. 34250
[x] Slide
[x] Defend

Like a smooth operator. Don't want to get impaled on those horns - would rather risk a claw wound.
>> No. 34251
[x] Slide
>> No. 34253
>>34247
>Ignoring for the moment that this sentence makes no sense, what proof in-story do you have to back this up?

I;m that guy and was half asleep when I tried to type in a reasoning. I'm also the castlevania music guy/extraordinaire

I'm referring to the RoB werewolf where it would launched it self from the ceiling as well as walls. Even when it did it's dashing charge it sometimes would jump up surprising the player into getting hit thinking it wouldn't be jumping as it's charging.

The minotaur, while does a charge attack, never changes its trajectory.

lastly, while Keine may not have a halberd or even a spear, since she seems to behave as an amalgamation of the minotaur and werewolf...

Trying to jump over her is just asking to get caved by Keine in the kidneys. At the very least Rictersliding may be the hunter's best bet.
>> No. 34254
>>34253
once again I forgot to mention.

While I doubt Keine would shoryuken the hunter like the minotaur, there may be a good chance that Keine may do a downward upppercut to the ground as the hunter slides. She may even combine Danmaku into that uppercut for explosive effect.

Oddly enough I found them to be much more annoyingly difficult in Aria of Sorrow when you're near the end game as they would come in small groups of two or three.
>> No. 34256
>>34254
>downward upppercut
A downercut?
>> No. 34257
By the way, nice BGM. The best song I've heard so far.
>> No. 34258
File 126530673568.jpg - (873.45KB , 1400x2000 , Merch.jpg ) [iqdb]
34258
>>34257
Upon which you can find in my Castlevania Thread in /words/~!
>> No. 34259
[x] Slide

Jumping is just plain dumb for reasons already stated.
>> No. 34260
[X]Slide

This is no time to get gored!
>> No. 34281
[x] Slide
>> No. 34285
[x] Slide
>> No. 34293
Calling it. Slide it is.
>> No. 34294
>>34293

Hooray!
>> No. 34301
Status report: I'll update this after I fill up the current GH thread.
>> No. 34302
>Status report: I'll update this 5 seconds after the next update in GH
Hooray!
>> No. 34352
>>34301
>251 posts and 19 images omitted.
Objective Completed
>> No. 34353
>>34352
As we usually say in my country, Taisa: 'A man is master of his silences and slave of his words'
>> No. 34357
>>34353
As we usually say in my country: 'I'll get to it tomorrow'
>> No. 34358
File 12660429325.jpg - (19.93KB , 190x190 , re4_luis.jpg ) [iqdb]
34358
>>34357
Americano, eh?
>> No. 34361
>>34358
No, Estonian.
>> No. 34362
File 126607888037.jpg - (464.34KB , 1700x1550 , 1261325305850.jpg ) [iqdb]
34362
Keine trolling us with her history manipulating powers.
Alice floating around...doing something.
And our brave hunter having to deal with this Keine.

I enjoyed this update.
>> No. 34364
>>34362
this is the hottest thing that i have seen in a week now.
>> No. 34365
File 126612690085.jpg - (449.14KB , 1000x1250 , c068660985eff5b2c798608db6c6ac5c.jpg ) [iqdb]
34365
Split-second decision time! As I wasn't in any particular mood for getting gored that night, I decided to take advantage of the fact that this woman, while having horns, lacked the hooves to go with them. With that thought in mind, I took the most logical course of action... and ran right towards her, meeting her charge, like some sort of game of headbutt-chicken. It seemed like a good idea at the time, at the very least... Still, I knew well enough that she had no reason whatsoever to avoid impact with me. However, I never intended for any impact to occur to begin with - moments before our collision, I dropped into a slide that would leave pro baseball players jealous, my momentum still carrying me forward along the sandy-dirt ground until I passed right under the woman, nearly sweeping her legs out from under her in the process and avoiding her horns.

When I say 'nearly', I mean I caused her to stumble. This was enough to cause her to become unable to stop her movement, and resulted in her crashing into the wall behind me rather unceremoniously, the force of impact feeling as if it quaked the entire arena, several bladed weapons falling off the racks on the walls. With my foe temporarily incapacitated with her horns nicely impaled right into the wall, furious crimson eyes on her back staring at me through ragged clothing, I turned around and stood back up, readying myself for her next attack, and trying to catch a glimpse of Alice's progress in getting rid of that accursed fake moon. At the very least, I was -hoping- she would've been making progress.

Naturally, Remilia Scarlet and the wizard of the Voile hadn't made this easy for us. My sight was temporarily blinded by the bright streak of light from one of Alice's destruction beams; squinting through my fingers as I covered my eyes, I saw the blast leaving a bizarre rippling effect upon the night sky above us, as if someone had tosses a stone into the reflection of the moon in a pool of water. Rather trippy, really. In any case, it seemed that just plain blasting the thing wouldn't do the trick this time. How long had she been trying, anyway? I tend to lose track of time while battling for my life, you see.

"Just plain blasting the thing won't do the trick this time," Alice yelled down at me with exasperation plain in her voice, confirming what I had just thought myself. Thank you for that, dear...
"I'll need more time! Keep her busy!"

"What the hell do you think I've been do-..." A whistling whoosh! through the air, and a deafening clang right after, echoing outwards from where I had been standing just a split second ago, a huge battleaxe now embedded into the ground with the werebeast woman clenching its handle in her grip. How a woman like her even managed to lift that humongous thing, I... well, let's just say that seeing her rip it back out of the ground and swing it about effortlessly was a pretty damn good hint at how strong she truly was in her transformed form. One hit from that gigantic cleaver in her hands and I'd be split in half.

If the church hires magicians to aid them in their pursuit of the forces of darkness, why couldn't one of those magicians whip me up some sort of magical armor? I wouldn't even have asked for complete invulnerability, just the ability to stop a lethal strike of a blade or two. Or a fireball. That one time, I had to grow all of my hair back after a run-in with a high-level flame demon...

Ah, yes, where was I? Oh right, avoiding certain death being swung at me in the form of a large blade on a stick. Another quick glance upwards revealed Alice to be at work channeling some sort of spell to dispel the enchantment woven over the hole in the ceiling of the arena; her dolls were spread to the edges, surrounding her in a circle, the strings glowing with magical power as the illusion began to ripple yet again, more and more violently...
*swish*
That one passed close enough to my neck to trim my hair just a bit on the one side. How annoying... I'm not that much into asymmetry. Deciding that my worthy opponent had had far enough fun with that toy of hers for the moment, I attacked yet again with the whip, this time aiming to a disarming strike. The chain coiled itself around the handle of the battleaxe, and I pulled, as hard as I could. Wrenching the weapon out of her hands was no easy task, even for someone as trained as myself, yet she didn't even seem that interested in keeping the axe. Before she could lunge at me for another strike, however, something distracted her.

Her already furious face contorted into a vicious snarl upon noticing Alice far above us, still at work with her dispelling ritual. Before I even understood what the werebeast was planning, she had sprang from the arena floor and was scaling the cage with inhuman speed, her bloodthirsty gaze focused intently on my unaware companion. I couldn't afford to have her harm Alice and interrupt the ritual, however. So, with few other options available to me, I leapt after her, reaching the edge of the arena and the bottom of the cage, preserving my momentum and running a few steps up the cage... before kicking off to the side. And then, kicking off once more, and again, and again. Each kick would become a little shorter, until they turned into steps, and I was running up along the round cage in a rising spiral, using sheer strength and force of will - alongside a bit of magic, of course - to tell the laws of physics to go fuck themselves if they were planning on getting in my way. I had to get to that beast before she got to Alice, no matter what. It looked like it'd be a close race... Every circle I made during my ascension, she would pull herself higher in a straight line, a relentless predator with her tail swishing side-to-side as if in excitement.

Just a little more, and I could

almost

reach

...

Gotcha.

Same altitude. Opposite sides. Time stopped. This had better work, I thought, hoping my aim would be as accurate as always as I kicked off the wall one more time, performing a surprisingly graceful backflip through the air and landing right on top of her. For a split second, I considered using another Rosary, yet I quickly remembered this creature mysteriously lacked any sort of weakness towards Holy items. So, instead... I stuck to something far more simple and effective.
The dagger.

I raised my hand, the blade aimed downwards as I gripped the handle in my fist, staring right into those animalistic eyes of hers. Any second now, time would resume, and the force of my landing would send both of us tumbling downwards to the bottom of the arena. Of course, chances were that she'd endure this and not fall, which is why I strongly regretted what I had to do - unfortunately, she left me with no other choice at that point. The drain from the pocketwatch was beginning to fatigue me.

I brought the knife down with all my strength, aimed directly in the center of her forehead.



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(Part 1 of 2.)
>> No. 34366
Goddamn Cliffhangers.
>> No. 34389
>>34366 .
>> No. 34390
>>34389
>> No. 34391
File 12662241756.jpg - (58.36KB , 600x800 , 6f757cb1451c6b42fc4a0fd1a6a45172.jpg ) [iqdb]
34391
Soshite And then, time continued.

*CLANG*

...My dagger snapped in half. It had cut her skin, yet broke against her skull. I noticed all this within the span of half a second, of course; as gravity and physics took their hold of us yet again, my sudden weight appearing on top of the werecreature combined with having a freaking dagger stabbed into her head loosened her grip, the two of us plummeting back to the arena floor. The last thing I heard before the fall was Alice's shocked gasp as she finally noticed us. Having discarded the useless, now-broken dagger, all I could do was grip onto her, keeping her beneath me as we crashed down, the impact knocking the wind out of me and bouncing me into the air once, off to the side a little, a gigantic cloud of dust erupting into the air from where we landed. I spent a good minute or two just lying there, coughing the dust from my lungs and trying to catch my breath, every bone in my body protesting against my choice of profession in the form of incredible pain.

Unfortunately, I could lay there wincing and twitching in pain for only so long - my foe had recovered first. Goddamn supernaturals. Why aren't there more creatures of the night that are -weaker- than the average human? Even the goddamn bats and crows around a vampire's territory seem to have nasty habits of knocking people into water for some sadistic reason; the popular theory is that the vampire's influence just plain turns local wildlife into massive dicks. Oh, but where was I? Ah yes, about to be butchered by the werecow.

There she was, standing over my prone body, crimson eyes burning with rage and staring right at me. As she leaned down and grabbed me by the neck to lift me up against the wall, I noticed that the wound on her forehead had vanished without a trace. Was there even a wound? There was a faint image of me having stabbed her in the back of my memory, yet it was difficult to remember for some strange reason... As if my memory was being blocked. Well, I had bigger worries at the time, such as oxygen deprivation from being fucking choked by the beast before me. Depressingly enough, had I died there, my last thought would've been how humiliating it would be to be choked to death by being raised off the ground with one arm by a woman shorter than myself.

And then... the light changed. There was a sound, like glass shattering. Gathering up what strength I had left in my body, I turned my eyes skyward, as did my foe, both of us with curiosity on our faces.

The waning gibbous moon. The pale moonlight illuminated my companion, Alice, floating above us and looking rather strained from the effort, several dolls dangling lifelessly on strings from her fingertips as if they had been hanged. And yet, the false moon, the illusionary sky, she had broken them. As my foe was bathed in the light of the true moon, it was as if something invisible had washed over her, cleaning away all the animalistic rage and madness that had plagued her mind and vision up until then. Slowly, gradually, before my very eyes, I could see her changing - the horns on her head seemed to simply snap off, falling to the ground, somewhat reminiscent of moose or elk shedding their antlers... I guess. Her tail shed its fur and receded into her body as if it had never been there. The streaks in her silvery hair turned from green to blue. And finally, her eyes ceased their red glowing, turning into a shade of brown instead. Seeming as dazed and confused as myself, if not moreso, she lowered her gaze, staring at me blankly for a moment or two before realizing I was slowly dying, and dropping me in shock.

...

Aaaiiirrr. The taste of oxygen, the rush of the air at my throat, it had never felt that wonderful before. Well, okay, maybe it did during that little adventure in the alchemy lab. And there was that one time a few months before that... Ah, I'm getting side-tracked again, aren't I.

"...Oh my. I'm terribly sorry about that." The woman before me, now a complete mirror image of her previously feral self, radiated a motherly warmth and polite aura, gasping from concern as she noticed the state she had left me in - a coughing mess on the floor of the arena. Alice descended to my side as well, kneeling down to examine me and make sure I was alright... Ah, how caring of my loyal companion.

"Eh, you'll be fine. Get up already." I stared right into those orange eyes of hers in a mix of frustration an disbelief, coughing out my words as I responded.

"What happened to you being all worried about me being a fragile human, huh?"

"Well, you did say you could take a beating, didn't you?" The light chuckle that followed silenced me for a short while. True, I had said that... Goes to show what I get for being a cocky hothead. The woman before us just stood there quietly, politely waiting for us to finish and for Alice to help me back up on my feet. Even when wearing little more than torn rags, this woman gave off a distinctly refined feeling of sorts... Not to mention that she was impossibly good-looking for someone who had been chained up in an arena for who knows how long. The torn cloth she was wearing barely covered her bare legs at all, not really reaching very low... Ah well, I had more important things to care about for the moment. Dusting myself off, amazed at how durable and stain-resistant this coat Remilia Scarlet had provided me was, I turned to her with my questions.

"...Who are you? How did you end up down here?"

"Ah, of course, how rude of me... I apologize." She gave me a polite, apologetic bow that seemed just the right depth for the situation - not that I'd know, mind you, but it just felt precisely right, somehow.
"My name is Keine Kamishirasawa..." Kamiwhattawhat?
"...and I am the guardian of the Human Village."

"The guardian..?" Huh. I didn't hear anything about this during my brief stay there. She nodded in response, giving me a delightful smile that utterly contrasted with her messed up hair and outfit.

"Yes. I keep the village safe from youkai, and... other dangers." Having said this, however, a small hint of her previous self returned for just a moment, the woman glancing back in the general direction of the central part of the mansion.
"...As for how I came to be locked up here, I had a bit of a misunderstanding with the lady of the mansion."

"A bit of a misunderstanding!? Don't you think that's overly simplifying things?"

"Sounds like the understatement of the year," my companion chipped in from the side.

"Yes, well..." She actually seemed a little confused, still smiling at us, as if she couldn't understand why we were making such a big deal out of the whole thing.
"...Ah, I would love to stay and answer your questions, but regretfully I must take my leave. I have my duties to return to." Giving us another bow for a farewell, she turned around, casually walking towards the section of the arena wall closest to the door leading back to the inner quarters. I took a moment to blink, utterly stunned, before reaching my arm out and yelling to her.

"Wait, is that it? You beat the crap out of me, we save you, and you just casually walk away?" Alice gripped my shoulder to keep me from running over to this bizarre woman and shaking her about a little to knock some sense into her. She simply looked over her shoulder with a somewhat sad, remorseful expression.

"...I do apologize sincerely, but I am needed at the village. Please, try to understand..." Something about her voice managed to quell my outrage, and I calmed down. She smiled in response to this, as if to reward me. Gah, why was her very gaze making me feel like a small child..? Something about the look in her eyes just felt so much... older, more mature, even though lookswise she didn't seem past her late twenties at most.
"However, I do not intend to be ungrateful. On the contrary, if you'd happen to find the time to come by my house in the village later, I'd be able to reward you properly for your help - perhaps even aid you in your quest."

"T-that sounds nice, yes." I was starting to feel a little awkward under the gaze of those brown eyes of hers. What made the situation worse was the feeling of Alice's stare on my back as well - she seemed somehow amused.

"Ah, and... You were going this way, right?" She then gestured towards the door heading deeper under the arena - the grate that had sealed it off earlier had vanished. Was there ever a grate to begin with..?

"Wait, how did you know-... no, how did you open it..?" I turned to look back to miss Kamishirasawa, yet she had somehow already gotten out of the arena, to the other side of the cage surrounding it, somehow. As I stared at her in utter confusion, my brain kept trying to tell me that she was never in the arena to begin with, despite me remembering fighting her not long ago... Ugh, it was giving me a headache.
"Well, never mind that - why don't you join us? We could-..."

She simply smiled and waved.
"I can't afford to do much else to help for the moment. I move faster on my own. Remember, come see me in the village later, if you want further aid." And with that, she walked off towards the doors of the arena. Odd, if she could bend reality like that, why did she have to go through the-...

Oh, crap.

"Wait, there's a-..!"

My words were interrupted by a bloodchilling howl, a cacophony of a hundred tormented souls wailing out in unison. The parasitic ball of corpses had still been waiting, lurking behind the door in anticipation of our return, and now it was about to attack that Keine woman..!

"...Get. Out. Of. My. Way!"

Another howl, yet this time one of excruciating pain, intermixed with several rapid, loud, wet cracks. I wasn't entirely sure what the hell was going on up there, but somehow it didn't seem as if the parasite was winning... Damn. Seems the woman could still defend herself, even while outside of her beast form. There was something inherently... scary about her, yet I couldn't put my finger on it. Something behind those eyes of hers. As if there was more to her than just a human afflicted with therianthropy.

Ah well. She had opened the grate for us - assuming there was a grate blocking us to begin with - so we could move on. I motioned to my companion and moved over to the doorway, leading into a dark, damp tunnel.
"Well, let's go, then. I'll lead, you watch our backs."

--------

BGM: "House of Sacred Remains"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAqVxtv15XQ

--------

"Hm, so you think this'll lead to the dungeon, again?" Alice's voice didn't exactly sound skeptical, merely concerned in general. She was asking more out of a general desire to have something to talk about, as far as I can guess - the silent tunnel felt rather ominous when the only sound echoing along its length was that of our footsteps.

"Has to. You saw those skeletons in the arena - they were prisoners. Of course..." The tunnel finally opened up to something that looked more like a network of catacombs than a dungeon. Most of the structures seemed to have been either carved directly into the rock upon which the island and mansion rested, or built around it. Crypts and tombs of all shapes and sizes, as far as the eye could see. A natural underground river flowed through the passageways, stemming from some unknown source and probably exiting the catacombs to flow into the lake somewhere else. Near the tunnel we just came out of were several mass graves, mostly unmarked and only visible due to the rushed burial job. I took a moment of silent prayer for the souls of the departed, as much good as it would do when coming from an atheistic mercenary of the church.
"...it might not lead there directly. Any ideas on which direction we should go?"

"Hmm." Alice paused for a moment, grey eyes fixated upon the river flowing past us, deep in thought, as if trying to remember something.
"...Ah, yes. We should follow the river downstream. There's a repository of water in the dungeon - the water from this underground river is clean, and is used - among other purposes - to give to the prisoners. Well, the ones they don't intend on letting die of thirst." Hm, a convenient management of natural resources - although I figured this was mostly just so the vampire wouldn't have to spend too much of her money on keeping any important prisoners alive.

"Aright, let's-..." My voice got caught in my throat as I suddenly sensed something otherworldly around us. However, I didn't bother reaching for the whip - it wouldn't have done me any good. This strange ethereal chill was familiar. Glancing about our surroundings, I could almost see them, like some sort of faint blur hovering through the air. Several of them. Turning to Alice, I could see her looking straight at them, having noticed them about the same time as I did, if not before. She had the advantage here, after all.

"Ghosts," we muttered in unison, only to have Alice blink at me in surprise.

"...You can see ghosts? I thought humans couldn't see such things."

"I can't," I responded honestly, warily stepping back as a few of them passed by closer to us.
"I can sort of -sense- them, that's about it. Hmm..."

"...Do you think they're dangerous?" My companion's voice became a low whisper, as if she suddenly didn't wish to disrespect the dead. Almost as if to demonstrate, one of the ghosts randomly descended upon a large unaware rat, completely oblivious to the invisible and intangible threat enveloping it... and then, half of its body simply seemed to disintegrate*, all of a sudden. The ghost itself simply hovered onwards with no clear destination, as if it had simply stopped for a spontaneous snack, leaving behind the lifeless remains of the rat.

"There's your answer. We have to move, they've noticed us." Indeed, I could sense the ghosts circling us, curiously... hungrily? Angrily? There was no way the spirits of the gladiators and other humans buried here would not be vengeful, although I couldn't simply -tell- them I was actually there to avenge them, now could I?

"The path downstream is blocked by them. We'll have to find another way." Indeed, the path was completely swarming with malevolent ghosts. As we turned to move upstream instead, they began following us, that deathly chill washing over our backs relentlessly, a low, anguished moaning suddenly carried through the catacombs along a gust of air that seemed to come out of nowhere. This could've gotten ugly... I wasn't exactly equipped to deal with non-tangible foes, you see. At best, I could wave my whip at them and hope the holy energies would keep them at bay for a short while, but that would not work indefinitely. The moaning and wailing gradually became more intensive, louder, angrier; we quickened our pace. To the left and right, we saw what looked like mausoleum entrances, names engraved above the doors in french, many with statues of the deceased decorating the entrance. Of course, we didn't have time to go tomb raiding... More moaning. They were getting closer, and-...

...A whistle? No, it sounded more like something long and thin was being swung through the air, like my whip back in its leather form... or a blade.
"Did you hear that?" I looked to my companion, who was still mostly paying attention to the ghosts pursuing us, yet she responded with a nod. Good, so it wasn't just the ghosts playing tricks on me after all. Speaking of ghosts, turning my eyes back forwards I nearly walked right into one, somehow having missed it with my senses. I ducked to the side just in time to have it whoosh by me as it lunged forwards.
"...We have to run now."

Indeed, the swarm of ghosts had gotten tired of stalking us, having decided that we wouldn't just get tired and sit down somewhere, and all of a sudden began to pursue us at full speed, wailing in an agonized hunger. Running through these natural caverns was, of course, a bit more challenging than running along an even floor, so I had to help my companion to keep from stumbling and falling a few times, her dress having become a bit of a burden for her. And then... we saw him.

Before us, a lone man was standing, his hand gripping a sword handle at his belt. The moment we laid eyes upon him, he noticed us - and the ghosts on our trail. In a flash, his eyes darted wide open, and he vanished, more whistling audible in the air around and behind us for a handful of seconds, streaks of metallic light blazing across our vision. We didn't even have time to react properly, before it was over - the ghosts were gone, somewhere, somehow, and the man was standing behind us, calmly sliding the sword back into its sheath. Having done so, he paused calmly for a moment, before turning to face us, an unamused look on his face.

"...What are you doing here? You'll get in the way of my quest, child." Child? Was he talking to me?
"Please," he continued with a wave of the hand, gesturing to a small passage off to the side, "leave this place. Only death awaits you within the depths of these catacombs." I took a good look at this man who was telling me to just pack up my gear and leave. His clothing reminded me of what one would generally expect a stereotypical samurai to wear while not decked out in battle armor, a hakama and all that sort of thing... I'm not really well-versed in all of that sort of thing. Hanging from his belt were two sword hilts, a shorter one to the side, which he had just used - although when I say 'shorter' I do not mean 'short', as it was a full-length katana. The other was to the back, its sheer length utterly ridiculous. It was one of those... What is it you call a longer katana again? A katanakana? Well, whatever.
His face and features were unmistakably Japanese, yet his age was nearly impossible to gauge - everywhere that his skin was exposed, I could see nothing but rippling muscles and a youthful strength, yet his eyes and facial lines showed a deep wisdom and experience that only comes with age. His hair and beard were impossibly white, to the point where I couldn't tell whether he really was the healthiest old man I had ever seen, or a young man who looked a lot older than he truly was due to an unfortunate hair color.

Wait, what, he was telling us to leave?

"How can you say that? We're here to slay the vampire lord of this mansion! We're not going to leave."

"Regardless," he replied without skipping a beat, "I would appreciate it if you would leave me be. I have a task to attend to."

"A task?" I was starting to get worked up over this.
"What could be more important than killing Remilia Scarlet? You should join us and aid us in -our- quest!" Alice gently touched my shoulder to try and calm me down, yet I batted her hand aside, utterly frustrated by this disturbingly calm man of undefined age. First he calls me a kid, now he's telling me to buzz off so he can meditate in a cave or something? Fat chance.

"Your problems are of no concern to me." Another blunt reply.
"Now, please, leave me to my task." He turned away, yet after I refused to move, her glanced over his shoulder in my direction, furrowing his brow.
"...I will not ask a third time, although it would disgrace my honor to strike down one as young as yourself, child."

"...You. What is your name?"

"Youki Konpaku." He pronounces his name dryly, without even a hint of an air of pride, despite how arrogant he had come off just a second ago while telling me to get lost. This guy..! Clenching my fists, I forcefully spat out my words from between clenched teeth.

"Youki... You..."



[] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
[] Well, time to resort to the one thing I'm good at. Challenge him to a duel of honor - if he wins, we leave him alone, if I win, he joins us.
[] Geez! I-it's not like I really needed your help to begin with, d-dummy...
>> No. 34392
[x] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.

I think we should try helping him first, since as able as our lead is, I think he'd be badly outmatched in a one on one fight, especially after taking a beating from EX Keine.

>Katanakana.
I wonder how many people would get the reference made with this.
>> No. 34393
[X] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.

>What is it you call a longer katana again? A katanakana?
ohu.jpg
>> No. 34394
[x] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
>katanaka
Please no. I've enough of those for a lifetime.
>> No. 34395
[x] >>34393
>> No. 34403
[x] Geez! I-it's not like I really needed your help to begin with, d-dummy...

Youki makes our protagonist go tsun? He's still got it~
>> No. 34405
[X] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.

Possible side quest ahoy!

This may end up benefiting the hunter and Alice later on in their endeavors or merely complicate things instead eheheheh

>Almost as if to demonstrate, one of the ghosts randomly descended upon a large unaware rat, completely oblivious to the invisible and intangible threat enveloping it... and then, half of its body simply seemed to disintegrate*, all of a sudden. The ghost itself simply hovered onwards with no clear destination, as if it had simply stopped for a spontaneous snack, leaving behind the lifeless remains of the rat.

I'm reminded of that red spectral haze eating in the same manner as that ghost shown in the following link at 10:27. A kid tries to shoot at it but merely just disrupts its meal.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x83ExZOzboM
>> No. 34407
>>34405
Reminded me of Cream (Vanilla Ice's stand) from JoJo.

Also: Youki is Grant?
>> No. 34408
[x] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
>> No. 34409
>>34407
I'm more worried about who will be death. He's always a suprisingly reasonable guy so I expected Youki. I guess he'll be Yuyu then.
>> No. 34410
>>34409
Well, Death usually hangs out in the clock tower, so...
>> No. 34411
>>34409
>Death
>clock tower
We all know who it is.
>> No. 34412
>>34410
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFForgot; I just forgot.
Shit, I can hardly wait now.
>> No. 34413
[x] Geez! I-it's not like I really needed your help to begin with, d-dummy...

If only for the hilarity of what it would result in
>> No. 34414
[x] Geez! I-it's not like I really needed your help to begin with, d-dummy...

I'm reminded of that scene in HY's story, where Sakuya accuses the protagonist of being a tsundere.
>> No. 34415
[X] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
>> No. 34416
6[x] Geez! I-it's not like I really needed your help to begin with, d-dummy...
>> No. 34418
[x] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
>> No. 34419
Huh, a potentially dangerous situation. We should probably

>Tsundere Gay option

Fuck. Yes.

[X] Geez! I-it's not like I really needed your help to begin with, d-dummy...
>> No. 34420
[X] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.

I feel sorry for Legion.
>> No. 34425
Is it really a 'Gay' option when the hunter's gender is still up in the air? I wonder if Taisa can pull off the whole CYOA without any of us ever figuring it out.

Still I wonder how Youki has managed to get this far into the castle without having to kill any of the stuff the hunter and Alice have run into. Unless there's another way in, or Remilia is only trying to actively stop the hunter for whatever reason.

Or it's the RPG cliche of the fact no one but the hero(es) of the story ever seem to run into monsters on the way.
>> No. 34428
>>34419
>Gay
>Female protagonist
>> No. 34429
File 126633295174.jpg - (100.42KB , 720x720 , 1261311031070.jpg ) [iqdb]
34429
>>34428
Unknown gender...even after an intimate scene.
TAISAAAAAAAAAAA!
>> No. 34431
>>34428
>Female protagonist.
I sure hope you're wrong. We'll know soon enough I guess (or not)

[x] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
>> No. 34432
>>34431
>I sure hope you're wrong.
Out of curiosity, why do you hope he's wrong?
>> No. 34435
>>34432

I'm guessing quite a few readers had envisioned a male lead and should it be discovered that it's a female would fuck up their vision throughout the story beyond repair or adaptability within their minds.

It could also be because of Alice and the possibility of the Hunter and Alice being something of a reflection of Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades. or rather "Ralph" Belmont and Sypha "Vernandes" if you really want to be accurate
>> No. 34438
>>34432
Personal preference.
>> No. 34439
>Female protagonist.
I sure as hell want this to happen.
But there were enough hints given already, so i am pretty sure it is a she.
Just think back at the rest/bath scene. Alice was surprised when we came out of the bath, all clean and fresh clothed. And that was only one of many scenes.
>> No. 34440
No matter what gender the MC is, the tsundere choice seems a bit out of character to me.
>> No. 34445
>>34435

Yeah, that sure was mindblowing the first time I played Metroid
>> No. 34446
>>34435
>should it be discovered that it's a female would fuck up their vision throughout the story beyond repair or adaptability within their minds.
Okay, THP is filled with fags and morons, but I don't think they're unflexible, fragile-minded pussies like the sort of person you suggest.

>>34438
...Or maybe I'm wrong.
>> No. 34447
>>34446
>You don't like my opinion, so you're a unflexible, fragile-minded pussy.
Woah, a honest-to-god retard on my THP?
Y'know, they made a new board on 4chan for people like you who can't live with the thought that their opinion isn't the only one. Why don't you go there and don't ever post here again? It'll be for the best, believe me.
>> No. 34448
File 126636911331.jpg - (458.89KB , 800x800 , 5d8ab866b7a366caf789a378336d3b90.jpg ) [iqdb]
34448
>>34446
>>34447
>Shitstorms now appearing in the story I still actually enjoy writing too
NO

NOOO

FUCK OFF ALL OF YOU

GOD

*Needs to take a fucking vacation.*
>> No. 34449
>>34448

He's right. Keep your fucking shitstorms out of this story.
>> No. 34451
File 126637080546.jpg - (424.08KB , 705x770 , Shanoa-armpits.jpg ) [iqdb]
34451
>>34446

Yeah I was being rather blunt about that, I probably should have reworded to

"certain readers will not be able to cope with such a realization", now would that have garnered the same reply... I don't know...

To be fair there had been quite a few would be hunters. Retconned characters such as Carrie Fernandez and Sonja Belmont were heroines in their respective appearances in Castlevania64/Legacy of Darkness and Castlevania: Legends. There's also Marie Renard who teamed up with Richter Belmont and Alucard at one point. Charlotte Aulin, possibly a descendant of Sypha Belnades, and Yoko Belnades who in her second appearance pretty much is the reincarnation of Sypha Belnades in terms of ability. Finally we have our recent hunter who's a unique witch with armpits unintentionally challenging a certain shrine maiden's...

So there's nothing terribly wrong for a female lead, but I can understand is for the current run of the story some may have envisioned a male instead.

In the end, take it easy anon and Taisa, it's not as bad as before...
>> No. 34453
>>34451

Damn I forgot, I'm also the OP of >>34435 as well as Castlevania & Music Extraordinare
>> No. 34454
File 126637393116.jpg - (158.43KB , 900x636 , 0b8c258d128acd0df89f457b3b064cd6.jpg ) [iqdb]
34454
>>34448
I lol'd.
Taisa, do yourself a favor and stop writing GH for good. It seems that your defenses against fecal storms have decreased. I'm afraid that another update may prove... lethal
>>34451
Fine then. I suppose I should apologize for my overreaction but I honestly don't think I had one. I just wanted to kill all kind of insults regarding other opinions from the start. To be honest, I wasn't even going to reply if you decided to continue with it.
>> No. 34455
[X] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.

>>34454

Really? things seem to have quieted down somewhat as of the last few updates. My impression, at least.
>> No. 34457
>>34447
>>34446

You two have touched upon some truths, but in interest of not starting anything I won't go into it. As for the topic on hand, worrying about the lead's gender is stupid. Just take it easy.

>>34455
Depends on how the winning choice turns out, since the moment it's a Patchy vs Flandre choice, it'll start up again with a 80% certainty; those groups really hate each other.
>> No. 34458
>>34457
No one gives a fuck. We only discuss the good story here.

Also, I hope Youki isn't a party member.

I wanted a party member that doesn't suck.
>> No. 34461
>>34458

> Intentionally trying to start a shitstorm.
> Wiseman

Get the fuck out of here.
>> No. 34462
File 126639145549.jpg - (140.23KB , 600x520 , 2def9808ae64f09fcaf92223127b0aeb.jpg ) [iqdb]
34462
Take it easy guys.
Mods should really start deleting shitstorms in threads.
/blue/ was created for such things guys.
>> No. 34463
I'm kind of surprised. From the reactions I've been seeing, I thought someone was trying to stir up a shitstorm, but it looks more like a poor choice of words leading to a misunderstanding. Looks like it even got dealt within a few posts, too. Good job, anon.

>>34458
Except for you. Leave that at the door, we don't want genuine shitstorms here. Or anywhere for that matter, but I've given up on that.

Anyway,

[x] Offer to help him in his task, if he'll do the same for you in return.
>> No. 34464
I like how everyone ignores my suggestion in >>34435 on the possibility of the hunter and Alice being something of a reflection of Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades

Really I do...

;_;
>> No. 34465
>>34448

Hey man, chill. On the bright side, GH is actually getting better about that. As of now there are only 15 non-vote posts after your last update, none of them are terribly vitriolic, at least 1 or 2 are minor discussion, and 2 more are just single words. Everything else got taken to /words/, and there isn't a whole lot of argument over there, even.

Keep your chin up.
>> No. 34466
>>34461

>>34458 isn't Wiseman, but an IRC troll. He made himself really obvious this time. He also likes posting in Lion's story and possibly GH just to get people to agree to bad ideas.

>>34464
I didn't, I've kinda thought that all along, and it might have been the root of the whole "Our hunter is male" mindset. But at the same time, it's easy to forget in CVIII, Slypha was assumed male until the ending.
>> No. 34467
>>34466
And then our protagonist was Sypha all along.
>> No. 34468
File 126643367971.jpg - (40.22KB , 707x543 , Return_to_Castlevania_22_-_Sypha_up_Close.jpg ) [iqdb]
34468
>>34466

It was so bad that even cartoon shows such as Captain N: The Game Master had Sypha "confirmed" to be an oldman.

Image horribly related.

In fact you don't want to see what they did to Alucard....

Try imagining Egon Spengler from "The Real Ghostbusters" cartoons and Poochie the Dog from the Simpsons joining as one through mimetic mutation...
>> No. 34471
>>34466
But I post everywhere Wiseman. I've just admitted to those two.

>>34461
>>34463

True. 0/10 for me. That was a lackluster effort. Simply too blatant. I apologize for such low quality. I'm guessing it was the spoiler. Unless you both happen to be gay for Youki or something. But I stand by my words, Keep the GH shit over at GH, I don't care about it in here, and I'm fairly sure I'm not the only one.
>> No. 34473
File 126646415038.jpg - (112.84KB , 640x480 , b8a3585e2c5028ee2ea87123e9405dfd.jpg ) [iqdb]
34473
Honestly, at that point I was more tempted to punch the man rather than negotiate with him, but both Alice's stern look and my own memory of the speed of his blades we had just borne witness to forced me to stay my hand. Taking a deep breath to calm myself, I spoke.
"...Tell you what. We'll help you with... whatever your task might be. And then, when that's finished, you'll help us kill the vampire in return. Deal?"

For a short while, he simply looked at me through narrowed eyes, as if I had said something bizarre, or as if... he was judging my appearance, trying to figure whether I was all bark and no bite. Staring right back at him defiantly, I got a better look at him up close. His eyes were a deep, dark blue in color, though you could barely see them, as he seemed to be stuck in a perpetual state of squinting, further accentuating the wrinkles on his face. Whether these were wrinkles of age or stress, I couldn't tell at the time. Eventually, he stroked his beard between his index finger and thumb a few times, humming idly to himself in thought until the corners of his lips seemed to curve into a faint smirk. So, he wasn't one of those always-frowning serious old guy types after all.

"I suppose that would be a fair trade. To be fair, I am quite capable of completing this task myself, and your ability to aid me would be quite limited due to various, however..." He bowed down a little, so our eyes came to be at the same level. Did I mention he was -really- tall? Even so, the way he was making our difference in height so obvious like that still gave the impression that he was treating me like a kid. Just as quickly as the smile had appeared on his face, it vanished, giving way to a serious, warning glare.
"...I will not be responsible for your well-being, should you choose to follow me into the depths of the abyss beneath the mansion. Do you understand?"

...tch. Did he really have to ask? Well, okay, there was the whole matter of my options being rather limited against ethereal beings such as ghosts, but my pride kind of got in the way of that thought at the time.
"I am more than capable of taking care of myself."

"I see. Then, I will take your word for it." Nodding hesitantly, as if he was still somewhat unsure whether or not I'd simply get in his way, he glanced over at Alice, who had politely kept quiet the whole time up until then.
"...I presume your companion will be joining us, even though she is aware there are great risks involved?"

"The name is Alice. Alice Margatroid. Also, I too am capable of holding my own in battle." Muttering this line without even blinking, she produced a sphere of light from her palm, a few of her dolls floating into a circular formation around her as she did so - obviously to show off, you see.
"My methods are of a... less physical nature, you see."

"Ah, a Magician. Fair enough." The man gave another bow of the head, albeit a far more respectful-seeming one than the one I got. I didn't bother making a fuss about it, although being treated as a young hothead with no experience in life or battle was gradually beginning to tick me off more and more. Oh, I'd show him, the moment we ran into some manner of enemy... Well, some manner of enemy my weapons could harm, that is.
"Well then, let us be off. This way. Stay behind me."

"Hey, I'll-... oof!" Trying to rush past him didn't work, as I was stopped in my tracks by his suddenly outstretched arm in my way. Looking at me sternly over his shoulder, his harsh gaze managed to extinguish the flame of rebellion in my heart for the time being. Fine then, I'll let you play party leader for the time being, was what I thought. Satisfied, he gestured forwards in the direction of one of the caves in the underground network, and we headed off, following closely in his footsteps. Our steps were the only sound echoing through the damp caves for a while, alongside the quiet noise of flowing water from the subterranean river at our side, or the occasional droplets falling into the river from the ceiling. Do you still call the ceiling of a cave a 'ceiling'? Well, whatever. The air around us was still somewhat tense, which was understandable - Youki had no reason to trust us, and vice-versa, plus I realized I had made a bit of a scene with my bratty refusal to let him boss me around like that. With the way he was constantly holding one hand on the handle of his sword, I decided to try and break the silence with some random conversation.

"So, Youki..."

"Yes?" His speech still sounded as dry as before, as if each word were a resource not to be wasted without good reason. He didn't even bother looking my way, either, eyes firmly fixed straight ahead.

"How, exactly, did you get this far into the mansion without running into any of the countless things we've killed so far?"

"Well," he started, pausing for a moment and giving me another glance that was clearly judging me yet again, "I did not simply barge in through the front door like some manner of barbarian."

"What's wrong with barb-... I mean, who are you calling a barbarian, you, you-... You old man!" Yeah, I suppose I could've come up with a better retort, had I not been so pissed off at the time. Honestly, it was like Youki was pushing all of my buttons on purpose, just to get a reaction out of me. He merely seemed to give me another mild smirk, before turning his gaze back to our front.
"...So how -did- you get in? Did you swim through some underwater cave or something?" My tone was somewhat sarcastic - the water of the lake was utterly freezing. Even cleaning myself in it earlier that night had been almost painful, the water numbing my limbs as it washed over me. Still, if anyone could've survived such an ordeal, Youki seemed to be the type...

"Of course not." Well, that was my spontaneous heroic superhuman image of him dashed as well.
"There is a hidden passage in the gardens. I simply scaled the wall and happened to discover it by chance. It seems to be rarely used. I managed to avoid the various... servants in the garden, too." Servants? Suddenly, I was a little glad I never chose to go around the back, when I was first looking to gain entry to the mansion. Wait, he scaled that huge freaking wall, with the spiked edges? I mean, I can parkour myself up over most obstacles, but that... I'd have to have been able to fly to cross that sort of thing. Well, fly a little better than I could at the time - I was still only beginning to learn how to do that back then, just enough to maybe double-jump in the air, or boost my jumps to reach higher places, that sort of thing. Now where was I, again?

"You scaled... over that wall?"

"Yes, of course." Another curious glance in my general direction, as he tweaked his beard with the hand not resting on the sword hilt.
"Why, did you fight that gate guard for entry?"

"Well... Kind of. Yeah. I supposed I did."

"Hm. I see." Was that a disapproving tone? I was hoping the guy wielding two freaking swords wouldn't start giving me some sort of lecture about pacifism and not doing harm unto others... Besides that Hong Meiling woman got better anyway. Damn youkai didn't die when she was killed. Somehow, I got the feeling I'd be seeing more of her sometime soon... Ah, but something else about Youki had been bothering me for some time, too. A strange... presence, of sorts, a familiar feeling from not too long ago.

"...Hey, Youki. I can't help but get the feeling you weren't down here alone." As I said this, I stared at the space at his side, earning a surprised look from the man, his pace slowing for just a moment, his eyes blinking at me, the previous look of 'aww the kid wants to fight monsters' suddenly having vanished.

"You can see it?"

"Well, no, not exactly..."

Alice decided to speak up for a change, answering in my place.
"'Sense them', I believe is the expression my dear companion used. I can see it, though. Your ghost half, right?" Ghost half?

Looking over at Alice for a brief moment, his face seemed to adopt an even more serious appearance, yet he simply faced forwards again, hastening his steps, us following closely behind.
"Yes, that's correct."

"Your ghost half? What does that mean..?"

"I am a half-ghost, child." I waited for a while, patiently following in his footsteps and expecting him to continue his explanation, but I finally lost my patience and decided to just ask for myself.

"A half-ghost? Are you undead?"

"No, not at all. It's... difficult to explain. Suffice to say, I'm simply part human, part ghost." Not exactly the most sensible explanation...
"The part of me that you see before yourself, in the physical world, is my human half. The part of me that you 'sense', in the metaphysical world, is my ghost half."

"How can you be... half-ghost? No, nevermind, I'm sorry." I quickly realized asking him about it as if he were some sort of new animal species I had discovered wouldn't make the relations between us any less awkward, so I might as well drop the subject right then and there. Just then, however, that sense of something otherworldly nearby... magnified tenfold. Youki tensed up, drawing the longer of the two blades without warning, his eyes narrowed and darting left and right across our surroundings. For what little good it would do me, I gripped the handle of my whip as well, at the very least trying to pinpoint the locations of the invisible ghosts surrounding us; between the two of us, Alice was preparing some of her spells. To be quite honest, I felt somewhat disadvantaged there, being unable to see our foes, and more than likely unable to effectively damage them. And yet, Youki only had that sword...

...

...And in the blink of an eye, he slashed not once, not twice, but three times through the air, roughly thirty or so of the spectres dissipating and passing on.

"...Your sword can kill ghosts!?"

"It is why I've come here. To put to rest a tormented soul, long forgotten." He said this while already preparing his blade for a second wave of attacks, calmly and quietly. Meanwhile, behind us, Alice was busy keeping the spirits at bay with her own magical onslaught, too focused for idle banter. And myself? Well, what could I do? Not wanting to look bad in front of the old guy, I focused my senses to figure out where the ghosts were, striking at them with the whip, the steel passing through them harmlessly, yet the holy energies contained within still deterring them long enough for Youki to focus on the ones closest to him, turning to the ones on my side once he had cleared his own. Honestly, I'd love to describe an epic battle scene at this point, but it was over before I even knew it. Ten ghosts passed on with each slash of his blade - the shockwaves sent through the air with each cut even hit those further away from him. All this time, it felt as if that ghostly presence at his side was... covering for him, aiding him somehow, slashing at the ghosts with a spectral sword of its own, like some sort of invisible doppelganger. A rather specific 'feeling', yes, I know. I like to think my senses are just that sharp.

"...It is over." With those words, he sheathed the sword for the time being, speaking in a voice that sounded... solemn? I almost said 'regretful', yet it didn't quite seem that way. Honestly, I didn't know the guy well enough yet at the time to guess what could've possibly been going on in his head.

"What? We're done already?"

"Well, no. Those were simply spirits roused by the vengeful nature of the one I've come after. She awaits us just a little deeper within the catacombs, within a lost tomb." A lost tomb? Before I could ask, he lead us onwards, deeper into the caves... Soon enough, the wall-mounted torches stopped, the section of cave up ahead becoming pitch black. As I reached to grab the last burning torch off the wall for a source of light, Youki sent me a strange glance, raising one eyebrow, before muttering something to himself. It sounded like 'ah yes, of course' or something... Well. Sorry for not having natural night vision, you damn youkai people. Alice noticed my emotional status, gracing me with an amused chuckle of her own, pulling me along by the wrist as I stood there moping a little. I was supposed to be the hero of the story, and now some swordsman was making me look like a silly kid, damn it.

It didn't take long, though. We came to what seemed at first to be a stone wall, before Youki gave it a bit of a push, opening up a door that had been concealed by years of wear and dust. He motioned for us to stand back... and I could already sense why. The malevolent aura of whatever being was locked inside that tomb was enough to make one go weak in the knees, a deathly chill radiating outwards through the door. Even Alice seemed disturbed by this overpowering aura, yet Youki stood there like the stoic warrior figure that he had painted himself as, unmoving, one hand resting on the hilt of the longer sword yet again.
"The forgotten wizard... the so-called 'Charming Demon'. She awaits us just inside. It is time to put those forgotten by time to rest for all eternity." Having said this, he looked at us, over his shoulder - in the darkness, his blue eyes seemed to glint in a somehow meaningful manner, and his voice adopted a quiet, cautious tone.
"...I hope you're prepared. While you will be able to affect her more easily than regular spirits, so too will her ability to manipulate reality be stronger."



-------

You are going to fight a powerful malevolent spirit alongside Youki. Battle plan?
[] (Write-in.)

-------

System Message: Youki, the master swordsman has joined the party. The things that cannot be cut by his youkai-tempered blades are next to none. He is also incredibly acrobatic and athletic, his ability to overcome physical obstacles even greater than that of the hunter.
>> No. 34474
[x]"Stay behind me."
[x] Something else

Just wanted to contribute a witty retort.
>> No. 34475
[x]Protect Alice at all costs.
[x]Youki can handle himself.
>> No. 34476
OH SHIT!

It had to be Mima

I'm fighting the urge to use meta-knowledge as I have a rather clear idea on dealing with her... but the hunter very well may not know a damn thing where as Youki and Alice might...

[X]The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything to distract Youki from assessing the 'Charming Demon'.
-[X]On the off chance that Mima becomes more than a handful for Youki, direct Youki to counter any attacks made by her while the hunter makes his attempts against it, perhaps some artifacts being utilized by the demon that needs to be shattered. Alice should continue defending against any flanking enemies.
>> No. 34478
>>34476
>>34477

Hey hey due to poor sleep I just realized something...

>The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything to distract Youki

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFfffffffffffff

Just change that "to" to "from" please...
>> No. 34479
[X]The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything to distract Youki from assessing the 'Charming Demon'.
-[X]On the off chance that Mima becomes more than a handful for Youki, direct Youki to counter any attacks made by her while the hunter makes his attempts against it, perhaps some artifacts being utilized by the demon that need to be shattered. Alice should continue defending against any flanking enemies.

>>34478

Took out a redundant 's' as well. I probably would've caught it myself the first time, but frankly I'm pretty baked.
>> No. 34480
>"Well," he started, pausing for a moment and giving me another glance that was clearly judging me yet again, "I did not simply barge in through the front door like some manner of barbarian."

Youki: Not just good with swords, but words as well.

>"Charming Demon"
So you like AGLA /pyscho mantis

[X]The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything from distract Youki from assessing the 'Charming Demon'.
-[X]On the off chance that Mima becomes more than a handful for Youki, direct Youki to counter any attacks made by her while the hunter makes his attempts against it, perhaps some artifacts being utilized by the demon that needs to be shattered. Alice should continue defending against any flanking enemies.

We may be playing mostly support, but we can still play a key part.
>> No. 34481
>>34480
>So you like AGLA /pyscho mantis

Not that I hate references or anything, but I'm not sure you can really attribute that title to AGLA. "Charming Demon" is simply what the name Mima actually means.
>> No. 34482
[X]The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything from distract Youki from assessing the 'Charming Demon'.
-[X]On the off chance that Mima becomes more than a handful for Youki, direct Youki to counter any attacks made by her while the hunter makes his attempts against it, perhaps some artifacts being utilized by the demon that needs to be shattered. Alice should continue defending against any flanking enemies.
>> No. 34483
[X]The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything from distract Youki from assessing the 'Charming Demon'.
-[X]On the off chance that Mima becomes more than a handful for Youki, direct Youki to counter any attacks made by her while the hunter makes his attempts against it, perhaps some artifacts being utilized by the demon that needs to be shattered. Alice should continue defending against any flanking enemies.

Going with this, despite my lack of pc-98 character knowledge.

Honestly, I thought we were doing a Youmu/Yuyuko thing here.
>> No. 34484
[x] The Hunter may as well assist Alice in preventing anything from distracting Youki from assessing or assaulting the 'Charming Demon'.
-[x] On the off chance that Mima becomes more than a handful for Youki, direct Youki to counter any attacks made by her while the hunter makes his attempts against it, perhaps some artifacts being utilized by the demon that needs to be shattered. Alice should continue defending against any flanking enemies.
>> No. 34487
>>34476
>I'm fighting the urge to use meta-knowledge as I have a rather clear idea on dealing with her...
Share anyway, even if it's in spoiler tags? For those of us who aren't that knowledgeable in the PC-98 era. Just curious.
>> No. 34489
>>34487

Generally speaking Mima is technically one of the easiest final bosses in the entire series. She could be considered a ghost for simplicity's sake but she'd often deny being dead in the first place; merely dubbing herself as "just a soul".

It's rumored or heavily regarded (by fans more or less) that she herself taught Marisa how to use magic, some possible theories going so far that she may have been Marisa's biological mother.

As for Mima's attacks, one peculiar thing about her is that in her danmaku she would be assisted by 4 orbs colored Red, Green, blue/aqua and purple/black. Whether they are elemental or just colored I don't know. Some of her danmaku are star shaped like Marisa's so there's some possible proof of her ties with Marisa.

More or less she's a "Malevolent Spirit".

Curiously enough I don't recall her ever having any impressive spells except her bombs when she's a playable character (Mystic Square) and in a soccer game (touhou soccer 2)

Here's an example --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kofnEdB8Blc

In regards to touhouvania is concerned, I may actually compare her to Shaft of Castlevania:Rondo of Blood & Symphony of the Night fame.

Shaft in DXC: PSP edition. -->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1-01F6O73g

basically I'm willing to bet Mima will be utilizing those orbs I've mentioned in a similar manner but perhaps much more... aggressively.

Please forgive any mistakes I may have made in this post, dealing with a bad cough...

Edit* Forgot, here's some video of Mima in action as a playable character in "Mystic Squate" or TH5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-4W-fwTado

Note her danmaku...
>> No. 34490
>>34489
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kofnEdB8Blc
Holy fuck that's impressive. But, like someone said, what does destroying the world have to do with hitting the ball?
Still the write in is good, because it provides an action against artifacts (I.E: Her Orbs) which I strongly suspect that they're her weak point.
>> No. 34491
>>34490
I wouldn't refer the orbs as a possible weak point but merely catalysts to her strength.

Strip her of them and she may become nothing more than a glass cannon, incredible strength but no way to manipulate it to full potential.

Remember technically she's a "malevolent spirit", and she has made attempts to gain a human body. or reviving herself despite her exclaiming never being dead in the first place.

As for the soccer ball, it is in a game involving touhous trying to win a game by any means necessary. Ran Yakumo is probably the only one who successfully managed to split the ball at the very least.

But I digress,

Mima's bound to provide some difficulty. The hunter ought to be able to do something..

Also you should be able to guess who I am eheheheheh...
>> No. 34492
>>34491

Hello Taisa
>> No. 34493
>>34492
I'm more of an "Ahahahahaha" type of guy than an "Eheheheheheh" type one. I'd figure that's our generous CV music providing Anon.

Anyway, keep voting/discussing/etc. because I'm probably going to be doing an update or two for GH next, before continuing this. Shouldn't be too long of a pause, though.
>> No. 34495
>>34493

Right you are Taisa, posted a Silent Hill ost on another thread on /words/ but it seems there's little interest...


In any rate my interests are quite peaked in how you'll portray Mima later on; No doubt I'll be entertained.

I've also got another album to post for the Castlevania music thread and despite the turnout I'll post another silent hill ost.

I'm also still quite curious about that switch back at Voile where a certain someone's strength is needed to activate it...
>> No. 34496
>>34495
Interesting. I, on my part, am still curious about the Oni and Ice Fairy that are still captured in the dungeon where we found Alice. Or was that a 'What you choose is what exists' vote?
>> No. 34497
>>34496
>Or was that a 'What you choose is what exists' vote?
Correct. I'm sorry if this disappoints you, but those companions are now Lost Forever. As of the moment Alice was chosen, Suika and Cirno had never been captured to begin with.

Well, it's not like Cirno got any votes to begin with...
>> No. 34498
>>34495
Replay value perhaps in the second run?

>>34497
Ah I figured as much, though people underestimated Cirno's usefulness, that and she had raw strength/mist (Suika) or magic/CVIII dyanamic (Alice) to work against.
>> No. 34500
Oh, another random tidbit: The Golem encounter would have been something else entirely if you had chosen Suika or Cirno.
>> No. 34502
File 126663583986.jpg - (1.25MB , 1221x1700 , e886924d7ddca30e86582db4c964a60cacb488f5.jpg ) [iqdb]
34502
For fun here's a rare instance of Youki in action, if only as a reflected skill by Reisen assisting Youmu in a combination shot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apdNavnaEms
>> No. 34528
File 126680529630.jpg - (300.94KB , 799x802 , 93c15618d6816d3b5303dd7e753f4f9c.jpg ) [iqdb]
34528
"We're prepared. Don't worry about it." I gave Youki an energetic thumbs-up, which he didn't return; judging by his entire appearance, I figured he wasn't the type to be accustomed to the ways of the modern outside world in any case.
"I may not look the part, but I've got plenty of experience in battling supernatural beasts of all types."

"Even ghosts?" I could see you smirking for a moment there, you cocky old codger.

"...Well, I'll admit that my experience in ghost-busting is somewhat limited," I muttered under my breath just loud enough for him to barely hear it, earning a reserved chuckle from Alice standing by my side, "but fighting thing is what I do best. I'll figure out a way to be useful."

"I'm sure you will, child." Before I could once again lash back at him for treating me like a damn kid, his perpetually calm gaze moved from me - as if he had lost interest for the moment - to Alice, taking on a far more respectful look.
"Would I be correct in presuming that you, too, are prepared, miss Margatroid?

"Please, just 'Alice' will be fine," she retorted with a delighted flick of the wrist; the old pervert still seemed to have retained some of the charm from the days of his youth. Plus, I had to admit that the old geezer had aged considerably well... Blah, I'm getting side-tracked again - don't laugh, you've never met the guy. Behind that cool wise-old-sage mask he wore lurked a wily mind, a wit more sharp and sly than that of the most devious fox... as I would find out some time later in the tale.
"And yes, indeed, I am prepared; I should hope my magic would be of at least -some- use..." Her voice seemed to trail off a bit at the end of that sentence, hinting at a mild confidence deficiency... Slightly worrying, that. You can't win a battle if you don't tell yourself that you're going to win in advance, with conviction.

"Very well, then." With these quiet words, he gave us a nod to follow him, stepping into the tomb with us right behind him, our senses sharp and ready to detect any anomaly or sign of danger around us...

SLAM

...

Alice had to have one of her dolls produce a sphere of light between its hands to illuminate the pitch black darkness that had blinded us the moment the heavy stone door behind us abruptly shut itself. Well, naturally, doors like that don't just shut themselves on their own - I had a fairly good hunch on just who or what it was that trapped us in the tomb, and you should be able to figure it out on your own, too. That eerie, netherworldly chill washed over us yet again, becoming more intensive. The cold was crippling, numbing my limbs faster than if I had been standing in a raging blizzard totally naked, yet there was barely a breeze to be felt in the dark chamber. Even Alice was shivering uncontrollably, although from the distressed look on her face, grey eyes glancing left and right rapidly, I couldn't tell if it was more due to the cold, or... fear. As for our new companion, Youki? He simply stood there, unmoving, not showing a even the slightest sign of the cold affecting him at all, his hand calmly resting on the hilt of his longer sword. I couldn't see his face as his back was turned to us, yet I could imagine him looking just as calmly focused as his posture suggested, ready to defend us from any spectral threat, should it appear. With Alice and myself covering our sides and rear, and Youki's eyes staring directly in front, there would be no way for us to be ambushed.

And then, it appeared.

In the light produced by the doll, we noticed something slowly floating down from the ceiling of the tomb... As we turned our gaze upwards, we noticed it to be some manner of ethereal, transparent blue cloth, like a tattered robe, with some white trim here and there. Despite myself and Alice preparing to strike at any moment, it drifted to the floor slowly and harmlessly. Did our entry cause air movements in the tomb that dislodged this cloth from some object in the ceiling? Ah, no... That grave chill, that malevolent aura, dripping with malice... it was coming from that cloth. Sure enough, it started glowing ominously in the darkness, rising up again in the vague shape of a person's body, as if an invisible being had suddenly decided to wear this ragged old robe. To top off this spooky display, a pointed hat of sorts fell from the ceiling as well, blue with a yellow sun or star or something woven into it, stopping neatly where the head of this ghostly person would have been - and then, two bright green lights ignited where a person's eyes normally are.

The dark aura in the room seemed to magnify even further; I tightened my grip around the whip's handle, poised to strike. Alice kept clenching and unclenching her fists, keeping her fingers in motion to prevent the cold from numbing them and hindering her spellcasting or manipulation of her dolls. Youki was as stoic and unmoving as ever - in a way, that was actually comforting, somehow. A beacon of fearlessness, standing between us, and... and that thing. In my entire career of battling evil monsters and bizarre creatures, not one had radiated such a shocking amount of evil and malice - it was nearly enough to make my stomach turn. And I had just eaten a somewhat luxurious meat courtesy of our vampiric nemesis not all that long ago, too.

I'll be honest, I was truly scared of that spirit at that time. I'm not trying to sound tough or anything, but I don't scare very easily.

Suddenly, Youki stirred, drawing his overly long blade from its sheath. How he even managed to use such an unwieldy weapon effectively in combat was beyond me... although, being the one using a chain whip of all things, I wasn't about to ask him about it.
"...Forgotten One. I... We have come to put you to rest, to end your torment."
An ambient hiss in response, the 'eyes' of the spirit flaring up. I assumed it wasn't from gratitude.
"...Will you pass on quietly? Will you allow me to release you from your binds, your torture?"

...

Ufufu... Ufufufufufufu~

That... laugh...

UFUFUFUFUHUHUHOHOHOHOHOHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAA-..!

A screeching, warped laugh, mangled by the sound of something being torn, shredded - as if the maniacally cackling voice itself were being torn asunder. I could feel my legs weakening momentarily, the evil spirit glowing brighter before us, its malevolent aura radiating awesome power outwards, illuminating the dark tomb in a pale, chilling light. Her green eyes were burning like unholy torches, -squinting- at us in a manner which I could only describe as...

Amused.

-------

(Suddenly I have to go unexpectedly, I'll continue this when I get back.)
>> No. 34529
You cruel cruel man.
>> No. 34530
>Forgotten One
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
>> No. 34531
>>34530

We already dealt with the real one, remember?
>> No. 34533
>>34531
I wouldn't say -we- dealt with it...
>> No. 34537
File 126687454176.jpg - (294.04KB , 1200x1600 , 74fb99c5ca1252a80f413819eec11ab8.jpg ) [iqdb]
34537
BGM: "Reincarnation"*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sMhU48qbZY

-------

All of a sudden, one of the sleeves of the ghostly robe gestured forwards, in our general direction; a light, crackling noise echoed throughout the tomb, coming from the corners of the room. What I had thought to be fallen rocks and debris earlier turned out to be strange magical orbs radiating with the same malice and power as the ghost herself, as she summoned them to herself from the piles of rubble - one of them passed by me so closely it would've bashed my head open, had I not dived to the side just in time. These strange spheres, each one colored differently from the rest, surrounded her, orbiting her like planets around the sun - how appropriate the symbol on her hat seemed, all of a sudden.

Youki frowned, the wrinkles on his face making his expression look all the more grim.
"So be it, then. I will do my best to bring you the peaceful rest you deserve." It was somewhat strange... I couldn't shake off the feeling that Youki had some sort of deeper connection to this dead woman. A former lover, perhaps? Or a relative? Well, I didn't exactly have the time to ask him about such things, what with the ghost seemingly preparing to assault us with her magic, the sleeves of her robes emanating a dangerous light as the spheres around her began to orbit faster and faster... and then, we heard more crackling sounds. Skeletal arms burst from the ground around us, the remains of those long dead animated by the spirit's dark powers, groaning at us with an unholy desire to kill.

"...Youki, you handle our ghostly friend over there. Alice, you take care of the skeletons. I'll keep those orbs from getting in our way." It was about damn time for me to reclaim my rightful spot as the party leader, earning me a raised eyebrow from Youki. Still, he simply responded with a nod before looking back to the spirit, instead of wasting time on making fun of me yet again. Alice complied quietly as well, lighting up the entire tomb as she suddenly produced one of her destructive energy beams from her hands, vaporizing the closest skeleton that had wriggled most of its upper body out of the ground by then.

This marked the beginning of the battle.

We were surrounded by skeletons. Alice promptly sent several of her dolls into a circular formation around Youki and me, each doll proceeding to blast the skeletons nearest to itself with its own magical barrage, keeping them away from us. They were weaker than the puppeteer herself, yet they would at least be capable of keeping the undead from getting close enough to attack us... for a while.
Of course, the skeletons were the least of our worries. Another wave of a sleeve, and the cackling ghost sent several of her orbs flying in our direction, blazing with spectral energy. They were rotating around one another in a circular pattern which made it look as if they were magnetically attracted to one another, or something... It's a little difficult to explain. I had an idea on how to keep them from getting in Youki's way, though - simply enough, I stepped forward, meeting the orbs head-on, whipping one of them the moment it came close at a precise angle. This altered its trajectory further away from its partner, greatly increasing the radius of the 'circle' they formed in their movements, passing us by and crushing several skeletons along their path at our sides. The orbs crashed into the wall behind us, shaking some loose stones and dust from the ceiling of the tomb due to the force of impact, a low rumbling noise echoing through the tomb.

"...Damn it. This place is going to cave in if we don't finish this soon."
But Youki wasn't there to hear me anymore. Grabbing a nearby skeleton and twisting its skull until its spine snapped, I glanced about for where he could've gone, delivering a bone-crushing kick to the headless bag of bones as I noticed the half-ghost and the full-ghost engaged in a lightning-fast duel above us. The evil spirit was hovering, swaying to the left and right, moving up and down, to avoid Youki's slashes, with Youki leaping high into the air, staying on the ground for no longer than the blink of an eye before he surged upwards yet again for another attack - the old man was certainly nimble on his feet. The ghost didn't seem to be actively fighting back, simply choosing to evade the slashes while endlessly cackling. Still, Youki was simply faster - every other slash would nick or graze the ghostly robe, leaving small tears in the already shredded cloth, gradually whittling her down...

Ah, but I couldn't afford to become distracted, myself - with Alice and Youki engaged in battling their respective foes, I had to keep an eye on those spheres. The orbs reorganized for a follow-up attack, this time hovering above our heads and crackling with dark magic. I had a good hunch what this meant...

"Alice, Youki! Look out!" I just barely managed to knock Alice aside before the orb above her blasted a dark ray downwards, nearly frying us both - you'd think with my luck I'd have at least gotten a burn somewhere from a near miss like that, but apparently fate had decided that this long-ass night had given me enough wounds and scars for the time being. As we got up, defending ourselves from the gibbering skeletons that had promptly lunged for us while we were thus distracted, I saw Youki nearly get hit with a blast from an orb... before deflecting the ray at our assailant herself with his sword, the beam tearing a rather large, clean hole through the robe. The ghost howled in agony and demonic rage, thrashing about, summoning the orbs to herself in defense yet again, but it was too late; Youki, seizing the opportunity, dashed forwards, and... vanished.

No. I could sense it. I knew this feeling. Honing my senses, I could see him - he was simply moving so fast that time had slowed down in relation to him, vaulting around the tomb to confuse the ghost until he jumped to the wall behind her, kicking himself off and delivering a slash so fast even my trained eyes and senses could not perceive it. As my sense of time returned to normal, I quickly stepped backwards and smashed the skulls of two skeletons that had been charging for me from both sides together, shattering them. Youki, contrary to what you'd expect from a stereotypical stoic Hollywood samurai, didn't slowly stand up and sheathe his sword, but turned around quickly, assuming a combat stance yet again and observing his surroundings, keeping one eye on the wailing ghost floating above us, the spheres now orbiting her far too quickly for him to attempt a second attack. But did that one attack even connect?

Our foe's eyes flared up even brighter than before - I didn't think this to be possible - blasting forth from the darkness beneath her hat like jets of flame, bathing us and the entire tomb in a morbid green light. We slowly paced closer to one another, grouping up yet again, the skeletons eagerly surrounding us as we did so. A large portion of the robe had nearly been torn off completely, dangling loosely by a few threads.

"...Is that thing going to attack us on its own, or will it just keep throwing skeletons and magical balls at us until you cut it apart?" Honestly, I was losing my patience. This ghost wasn't even putting up that much of a fight, compared to our earlier foes... And yet, she radiated such power. Was she just toying with us?

"Be patient, and be alert." Youki's voice had a frustratingly lecturing tone to it.
"The situation might always change at any given moment, without notice. Be watchful, child. We haven't won yet."

"If you say so, old man..." I pulled out one of my throwing axes, muttering a minor prayer to enrich the silver coating with holy power, promptly hurling it in the direction of the ghost, still hovering there and laughing to itself as it she were amused at her own impending defeat.
"...If you say so."

CLANG

The axe bounced off one of the orbs, flying off to the side harmlessly. Damn, and I thought I saw an opening, too... And then, the orbs suddenly launched outwards, in all directions, like cannonballs blasting into the walls, floor and ceiling, some barely missing us as they embedded themselves into the ground beneath our feet, causing the entire tomb to shake and rumble, debris steadily falling from the ceiling in a foreboding manner. Youki seemed to share my concerns, looking me in the eye and nodding gravely.

"This tomb will collapse if we do not end this now."

"I swear I just said that a few minutes ago... Alright, let's go." He nodded sagely again in response to me, and we both sprinted towards the ghost - who had conveniently enough lowered herself closer to the floor - knocking aside some of the fragile skeletons in our path, slashing and smashing others that just would not get out of the way quietly. Loose stones and even stalactites began falling from above, crashing into the ground beside us, spraying us with sharp pieces of rock... Stalactites are the ones that grow on the ceiling of a cave, not the floor, right? I always mix them up with stalagmites. Not that it's particularly important or anything...

More loud rumbling, as the orbs burst out from the walls and floors yet again, flying right for us, spreading deadly projectiles and laser beams everywhere - the ghost seemed to have realized that she had left herself defenseless in her attempt to cause the tomb to collapse upon us, and had forsaken accuracy in favor of denser fire; a 'spray and pray' approach. Combined with the constantly falling rocks and stalactites from above, Youki and I felt like we were dodging and weaving our way through some manner of bullet hell - a single misstep would've meant our end in the form of being crushed or magically fried. On the other hand, it was somehow... exhilarating, if not to use the word 'fun'. If only there were some manner of non-lethal form of battle similar to this... hm. Sidestep a fallen rock here, watch Youki narrowly avoid a laser singing off his beard there, both jump over a flaming orb trying to ram into us at the same time...

"Aaah! Look out!!" Alice's voice called out to us from behind, and we both looked up just in time to notice something shocking - all of that had been one great big diversion. All that time, the spirit had been gathering her energy into her 'hands' - or, well, the area near her sleeves where a living person's hands would have been. This focused energy was glowing brightly enough to nearly blind us all, and we stopped where we were, covering our faces with our hands... and it just kept getting brighter. Even the magical orbs she had used as weapons before gathered around her, shattering one at a time, each one releasing further bursts of energy that were absorbed into the attack she was charging up... Did she realize we would be able to defeat her?

"She is desperate! Her fleeting existence will nearly be wiped out if she fires off this attack!"

"And so will we! Quick, get out of the way!" Alice had rushed over to us as fast as she could, having blasted enough mindless undead to clear a path to us, dodging falling debris along the way, but it was too late - the ghost mumbled one last unintelligible line, before releasing the energy stored in front of herself.

"...♥"

There was nowhere to run, no time to hide. A cone-shaped blast of power rushed forth from her hands, annihilating anything in its path - skeletons, rocks, Alice's dolls, everything - and continued right for us, widening to engulf the entire room...
I said there was no time. You should already know what this means. I had squeezed my eyes shut in anticipation of our demise, yet as I slowly opened them again I was nearly forced to squeeze them shut once more, the energy blast looming in front of us as if someone had tried to hurl a sun at us. Time had stopped, my thumb firmly pressed against the button on the pocketwatch. Only one thing to do now...

"Sorry, gramps... I've got to borrow this." Muttering a not-particularly-polite apology to Youki, I started trying to wrench the ghost-slaying sword from his hands, nervously counting the seconds in my head... Would I be able to do this in time? All of a sudden, I felt his grip gradually weaken - looking up in astonishment, I saw his eyes slowly, very slowly move to look at me. He could... He could move!? Well, I didn't have the luxury of time to be surprised about this at the time - he was giving me his sword, and that was all that mattered. Turning around swiftly, still counting the seconds, I hurled the mystical blade with unerring accuracy right for our ghostly foe, piercing her through where her chest would be.

Only one thing left to do now... How to stop that attack of hers from vaporizing us? There was no way... Except, maybe... No, but that would affect my companions as well. And yet...
...
Hesitatingly, yet without wasting time, I pulled my second Rosary from my pocket. I was only given three of these precious weapons, these 'holy bombs', and I had already used one when we were being overwhelmed by flea men in the library. In hindsight, that use may have been somewhat wasteful... but I could not have foreseen what we were to experience further in our adventures. I decided that to survive this attack, I would have to sacrifice another one. There was just one problem - I glanced over at Youki and Alice. Alice was frozen in place, just as she had been when I first stopped time, yet Youki's face had contorted into a tense expression, staring right at me, eyes bulging and mouth opened, as if he were trying to tell me something.

I knew what it was, even without words.

"Protect the woman."

All I could do was to have faith in his human half protecting him from the effects of the Rosary. Pulling Alice into my embrace and covering her in my coat to shield her from the impending explosion of holy light, I gripped the Rosary in my fist, closing my eyes.

That was the fastest string of prayers I had ever muttered.

And then...

Time resumed.

...

An agonizing scream. Not human, not magician, not half-ghost, but that of the tormented soul, having wasted what energy she had left, sacrificing her defenses for that one last-ditch attack, being skewered by the sword and pinned to the wall. My eyes were squeezed shut again - if the Rosary was too weak, or if if it had activated too late, we would be doomed. And yet... Death didn't come for me. Timidly, I opened my eyes once again, blinking in surprise at first as all I could see was pitch-black darkness, marred only by faint afterimages from staring at the cone-shaped wave of destruction that had been about to destroy us. In my arms, I could feel Alice's body - still moving, still alive, and as I released her, she proved herself to also be unharmed, producing a light source at the tip of her finger, smiling softly at me even though I could see the fear still present in her eyes. It takes a while to calm down after facing certain death, even if you've already been in that situation more than once within the last few hours. Trust me.

And Youki? He was there too, lying on the floor but alive and well, coughing to himself and examining the scorched tip of his beard with a mild frown. He then glanced over to me, blue eyes glinting in the darkness in a meaningful manner yet again. Then, he smiled, even going as far as to grace me with a hearty chuckle.

"Not bad. Not bad at all!" Standing up with a mild grunt of pain, he dusted off his clothes and pinched the singed hairs out of his beard, before the expression on his face turned back to one far more serious, glancing in the direction of our foe - I had not even noticed her, the robes not glowing anymore now that her energies had been spent, the damage to her ethereal form too harsh to recover from. Her very existence was fading, those green burning eyes almost completely extinguished. Her undead minions were nowhere in sight, the only hints of them ever having been there a few charred bones lying here and there on the ground amidst rocky debris and shards of her magical orbs. She was simply dangling limply from Youki's sword, emitting a low, whining moan, the lament of a forgotten one that has been denied even her vengeance in the afterlife. Youki stepped closer to her, Alice and myself following closely behind, watching as he drew his shorter sword with a solemn expression.

"...Youki... Who is thi-..." I was silenced by a gesture of his free hand, even though he didn't even look at me.

"Ssh. Let the man finish what he came here to do." Alice's hand gripped my shoulder, and I gave her a hesitant nod in response, choosing simply to watch and see what happens next.

"...May your anguished soul finally receive the eternal rest it deserves, and may you achieve enlightenment. Your tortured existence ends here, today." The words left his lips weakly and silently, more quiet than the faintest of whispers; he raised the shorter katana in his hand, pointing the tip at the spectre, gripping the handle with one hand and pressing the palm of his other hand against the bottom - and then he drove it forward, stabbing it cleanly through her, right into the wall behind her. There was no scream, no cry of pain nor hatred, simply a metallic clang which echoed through the ravaged tomb for several seconds... and then the flames in her eyes died, leaving behind nothing more than the ragged old remains of what was once a fabulous blue robe, and a pointed hat which drifted to the ground, no longer worn on the ethereal head of the vengeful spirit. A further moment of silence followed, before Youki finally pulled his swords out of the wall - the blades undamaged - and calmly sheathed them both, turning to us once again.
"It is done."

"I'm... I'm glad," was all I could manage to say in response. Somehow, even though I didn't know a thing about Youki, and knew even less about this mysterious ghost we just helped put to rest, I could sense we had done the right thing down there in that tomb.
"...and, uh. Sorry about that, um, well... You know."

Youki's grim expression gradually faded, giving way to a friendly smirk.
"Not at all. This 'old man' has endured magical assaults far more dangerous than your trinkets. Still," he continued, "it seemed rather effective for stopping the spirit's desperation attack - I do not believe any of us could have survived that."

"Hah, well, you know..." I wasn't exactly used to praise, so his earlier words had rendered me somewhat flustered - I tried my best not to let it show, though.

"Khm, khm. Well, I'd hate to spoil the mood, but how, exactly, are we going to get out of here now?" Alice's words brought us both back to the situation at hand. True, we had banished the spirit, but she had locked us inside her own tomb; how, exactly were we going to-...

"Well, we could escape through there, for example." Youki gestured behind us, and we turned to see a giant hole where the back wall of the tomb used to be, illuminated by Alice's light; a large, flat and round stone shape, like a giant coin, was on the ground, indicating the spot where the Rosary had shielded us from the blast, the destructive energy having passed around us and blowing out the wall in the back.

"...Oh," both Alice and myself mumbled in surprise, only to earn another cheeky grin from the old man. Well, that took care of the escape route issue, certainly... We followed the tunnel back to the main catacombs network, where the torches were still lit, so Alice didn't have to waste her stamina on maintaining a light spell.

"It's not like it takes up a lot of energy, you know."

Even so, now we had to choose a path to continue along...
"...So, Youki, you'll be joining us now, right?"

"But of course, child." His smile did little to ease the frustration I felt over him still calling me a kid, even after I had proven myself in the battle just then. Still, I was more than curious about his ability to move while time was stopped... but that question could wait until we decided upon a path out of these catacombs. Not that they were giving me the creeps or anything, but I rather wanted to avoid getting assaulted by any more ghosts for the time being.

"So, Youki - which way do we go from here?"

"That would be up to you. I understand that you're the 'leader' of our group now, correct?" Even if he said that with a sincere look on his face, it still sounded as if he were poking fun at me in his own ways, somehow...
"In any case, I entered the catacombs from that direction..." He gestured further down one of the tunnels.
"That tunnel leads to an exit into the gardens. I believe the path you came from leads to the arena and the dungeon."

"I see, I see... Also, what's that noise?" A distinct, constant roaring noise, like that of rushing water, had been distracting me ever since we made it out of the darkness. I hadn't noticed it before we went in there, due to being more focused on evading the ghosts chasing after us at the time.

"Ah. There is a waterfall created by the underwater river nearby."

"Hm, I wonder... Could there be a secret path behind the waterfall?" I rubbed my chin in thought, tapping my foot simply because the echo of the sound amused me, and leaning on a (strangely cracked) section of the cave wall. Sure, hidden caves behind waterfalls was more of a movie cliché, but vampires tend to love that sort of stuff too...

Youki shook his head.
"I couldn't say. The flow of water is far too strong to pass through. It would push us back no matter how hard we tried, and there is no way to get behind the waterfall except going straight through."

Drat. Well, it seemed I'd have to make the choice, then. Which way would we go..?



[] Back the way we came from, to the dungeon.
[] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.
[] Check behind the waterfall for a secret path. You do not possess a means to get past the waterfall.

-------

*(No, not -that- "Reincarnation".)
>> No. 34539
>>34533
Yeah... it was Flandre's playmate.

>*(No, not -that- "Reincarnation".)
Hahahaha, Nice troll Taisa. LoI's Reincarnation is good too (Dracla's castle remix ftw)

I guess to get past the waterfall, we would need Cirno or Suika's help.

I'll have to think of the choies.
>> No. 34540
>>34539
You might say they share some minor similarities, in a way...
>> No. 34543
[x] Back the way we came from, to the dungeon.

Perhaps Youki's perspective might reveal some things.
>> No. 34547
>On the other hand, it was somehow... exhilarating, if not to use the word 'fun'. If only there were some manner of non-lethal form of battle similar to this...
Heh.
Anyway, we'd need Suika's brute force or Cirno's Ice powers to pass through that barrier. Hard luck, I guess.
[x] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.
Shortcut to the clock tower? Youki's agile and strong enough to get us over there. If our MC can stand getting carrier like a bag of potatoes, that is.
>> No. 34551
[x] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.
>> No. 34552
[] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.
>> No. 34553
[x] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.
>> No. 34554
[x] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.

Mima down. Remilia's next.
>> No. 34555
[x] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.

A lovely time to visit the garden~!

>>34554
Quick to forget the Clocktower eh? We'll need that key I'm betting...
>> No. 34556
>>34555

I don't think we'll be offing Sakuya.
>> No. 34560
>>34556

Oh that would be too obvious, however I can think of a more suitable opponent for our intrepid hunters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KRB42vjNTU

Considering Sakuya is technically Remilia's bodyguard, it'd make more sense for her to be closer to Remilia rather being far away at the Clocktower; especially on the off chance the second to last guardian had been defeated...
>> No. 34561
>>34560

Komachi already showed up in the beginning, it's how we crossed the lake.

Boatman, remember?
>> No. 34562
>>34561

and they wouldn't expect it!
>> No. 34563
[X] Check out that crack more closely.

Either a new path, or goodies. It must be broken.
>> No. 34565
[X] Check out that crack more closely.
If nothing comes of it, then:
[X] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.
>> No. 34566
[X] Check out that crack more closely.
[X] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.

Remember, Alice's dolls are filled with gunpowder. Break down weak walls with them.
>> No. 34569
[x] Check out that crack more closely.
If nothing comes of it, then:
[x] Back the way Youki came from, to the gardens.

Sounds reasonable enough.
>> No. 34690
File 126759913710.jpg - (87.97KB , 800x800 , 9097135ebde947142fb0fd41aa9ba557.jpg ) [iqdb]
34690
I miss her. There got to be a way to befriend her.
>> No. 34721
>>34690
Maybe if we die with enough passion she'll find that our blood is kinda warm and love us posthumously?
>> No. 34723
>>34721
What.
>> No. 34728
>>34723
I think it's some sort of reference to hotblood. Maybe.
>> No. 34730
>>34721
I thought more along the line of her joining us.
>> No. 35037
What happen? ;_;
>> No. 35085
>>35037

Unless I'm gravely mistaking the last post on the GH thread over at /words/ to be Taisa's just without his trip, I think he called it quits...

Real shame too if that's the case, not to mention very strange considering anon had been behaving rather well as of late; at least so on GH.
>> No. 35294
>>35085
What. Where? If I ever do call it quits for whatever reason, my readers will be the first to know. It wouldn't be tripless, either.
>> No. 35462
Any Idea as to when you'll update this story?
>> No. 35702
File 12706928141.jpg - (208.29KB , 500x333 , 2357869844_4f0475b55c.jpg ) [iqdb]
35702
"The garden it is, then," I decided, after rolling the options back and forth within my mind for a short while, weighing the possible benefits and dangers of either choice carefully. Well, maybe not as carefully as I could have, but carefully enough to feel rather confident about my choice. My arms crossed, I absent-mindedly tapped my biceps with my index finger in idle thought before explaining my reasoning to my two companions.
"We've already been to the dungeon, twice. They'll probably have an ambush waiting for us, in case we come out that way."

Youki nodded in approval.
"That would indeed be the wise choice. The garden was not heavily defended."

"So you mean to say that it –was- defended?"

"Well." He pauses for a moment, as if contemplating the words in his head before speaking them. As I would soon find out, the man had a habit of making these mild pauses, glancing upwards and to the side randomly. I resisted the temptation to ask him if he had gone senile from old age and forgotten.
"It –was- when I snuck in, yes. I would assume it would be about as equally defended right now as well, assuming the guards have not been summoned into the mansion itself." Stroking the tip of his beard, still obviously upset over the burned tip, he gave me yet another meaningful nod to imply that he had finished speaking.

"Hm. Guess we'll see when we get there, then." As I pushed myself off the wall I had been leaning on, I couldn't help but turn around and eye it curiously for a moment. Those cracks… For a moment I thought I glimpsed something through them. Was I imagining things, or was there more to this wall than meets the eye? Pulling out the whip, I rapped against the cracked wall with the handle. Hm, from the sound of it, it didn't seem as if I'd be able to simply smash my way through; at least not within any reasonable window of time, and I didn't want to waste too much time while the wicked vampire gathered her defenses.
"Alice, do you think you could blow this wall..? Just a hunch, but…"

The blonde magician cocked an eyebrow in my general direction, then sent a half-hearted glance of her light blue eyes at the wall in question, just to humor me, tapping her foot against the ground, sending a light echo along the caverns.
"Even if I had the dolls to spare after that blast just now vaporized all but a few of them, you wouldn't want me to try. I'd be more likely to cause the caves to collapse on top of us."

"…Eh, might not be a bad way to go, if it means the mansion will come down with us…" Would the vampire be crushed under the rubble? Hmm…

"Well, odds are the island is stable enough that the cave-in would be mostly localized…"

"Alright, alright, I get it. Let's just go, I figure the old man's not liking my attitude much either." Gesturing to the two of them, I motioned for us to head in the direction Youki had pointed out, taking the lead once again. Not that I'm particularly fussed about that sort of thing, but there was something inherently frustrating about being lead along by that has-been samurai. There was an immeasurable period of silent walking, before the swordsman decided to grace me with his response.

"Perhaps so, but for a different reason than what you would have assumed."

I simply scoffed back at him, although it came out as more of an emotionless chuckle of sorts. Squeezing my fists together a little harder and keeping my arms rigidly by my side, I avoided the gaze of those blue eyes of his. I could feel them on me anyway.
"If you're looking for a story, I've already done some sharing earlier tonight. Wait your turn."
Hm. Why was I trying to hide it from him, you ask? I don't think I was –hiding- it, per se… Although I'll admit that I didn't exactly feel comfortable telling him about it just yet, either. Alice had fallen back a bit, deciding to stay out of our little conversation for the moment, the sound of her shoes tapping against the rocky surface reminding us that she was with us.

"Fair enough."

…It was a long walk, though.

"What about you, then? You some sort of professional ghost exterminator or something?"

"Not exactly."



"What about the evil spirit you put to rest, then? Old lover or something?" I glanced at him from the corner of an eye, cautiously, after asking this… and then he started chuckling, the amused ringing of his voice filling the caves. Quite a… youthful voice, considering his looks, really. Even if his hair color hadn't aged well, he had about as much vigor left as someone my own age, as he would be quick to demonstrate time and again.

"Hah, hah… No, no, nothing like that. Though, I must admit that I had been acquainted with the woman in the past, in a way. I suppose you could call her an old friend, if the expression suits you." He's still smirking. What, no dark and troubling past, no mysterious secrets gnawing on his heart? Come now, everyone has them, everyone has their own personal demons… In that personal little hell we all have all to ourselves, that we like to call our hearts. I had already heard of Alice's 'sin', how she created an artificial monster for Remilia Scarlet, and how the lady of the mansion had repaid her for her services. I helped her take care of her mistakes, in exchange for her loyalty; I would have liked to get to know Youki better as well, before I would fully trust him.

"Hm? What's the matter?" I was caught off-guard in my thoughts, and I turned my mildly startled face towards him yet again, nearly tripping over my own feet and landing in a small puddle to the side; Alice gracefully hovered over it behind us.
"Interested in getting to know me better, perhaps?" Another of those damned chuckles.
"I do agree, of course - one fights better together with others if there is a bond of trust involved."

"S-shut up, you…"

I honestly didn't have the patience for that sort of thing at the time. So instead, we simply kept walking towards the garden exit in near-silence, mild snickers coming from Alice behind us this time, who had been listening to the two of us the whole time.

-------

It took some pounding, but the hatch leading into the gardens behind the mansion finally opened. Apparently, it had fallen into disuse many years ago, the hinges rusty, stiff and crooked. And noisy. Not that the bashing it took to get the thing open was particularly quiet, either…
I peeked my head out a bit. Left and right… No, no motion I could detect, no noises I could sense within the immediate area.
"It's safe. For now." Leading the way, I pushed the hatch completely open, climbing out and helping Alice out as well, her outfit being somewhat less suitable for climbing and such. The space leading to the surface was too narrow for comfortable flight, so she chose to simply use the ladder as we did. Youki, watching our backs, came last. We found ourselves in the middle of what appeared to be a hedge maze; I would describe the garden itself in more detail, but that will have to wait for the appropriate point in the story. At the time, all we saw were tall hedges surrounding us at all sides, and the night sky above.

"…So, which way to the mansion?"

"Ah, you see," Youki started with a smirk that didn't seem like it promised anything I'd like, "I did not memorize the entire maze, naturally. I came from the outside, remember?" And he can smile while saying such things…

"Right. Didn't figure this way out would be completely effortless. Alice, think you could fly up and scout for us?" As I turned to the magician, she had already politely curtsied and started her ascension through the air.

"Be careful, don't go too high." Youki raised his voice only slightly to reach her; the hedges were rather high, you see.
"We wouldn't want the patrols to see you, now would we?"

"Patrols?" Ah, yes, he did mention that the garden had been guarded when he first arrived. He responded with a mild shrug.

"Mostly gardeners. Fairies. They are largely harmless, so I snuck past them." He lowered his voice just as I sensed a presence passing us by a little closer than before; his senses seemed to be at least as sharp as mine, if not more so.
"Such a feat would be more challenging in a group of three, mind you… Should one of them spot us, they would quickly scramble to get back to the mansion and alert the others to our whereabouts. That gate guard would certainly be here in a flash."

"You know of Hong Meiling then, I take it?" Something in the back of my mind told me that the woman was seeking a rematch; getting killed twice in a row by a lowly human would probably be a bit of a blow to the ego, you see. My voice lowered to a near-whisper as a fairy's light footsteps were heard in the grass on the opposite side of the hedge right next to us. Why a fairy would choose to walk instead of flying, I do not know.

"Of course. She is the main caretaker of Remilia Scarlet's garden, you know. It is her pride and joy."

We both looked to the side as Alice descended back to the ground next to us, softly and as gracefully as she had taken off. There was a mild hint of concern in the gaze of those grey eyes of hers.
"The path to the mansion is somewhat… tricky, although I suppose I could use my dolls to aid our navigation. It would be risky, though – the patrol patterns are quite tight."

"Hmph. Why don't we just kill them? Dead fairies tell no tales." Muttering this, I fumbled with the handle of my whip… somewhat nervously, Youki's disapproving stare burning holes into my side.

"Is such unnecessary bloodshed truly necessary? It would be better to simply avoid the patrols, rather than ambushing them."

"Well, fairies wouldn't die, even if you killed them. Technically, there would be no harm done." With a dismissive shrug, Alice seemed to be taking my side, voting for my initial suggestion and peeking at me briefly.
"I doubt you could scale these hedges as easily as those bookcases."
She had a point. Still, Youki seemed less than pleased with the idea; gesturing to me with his thumb, he resumed speaking, looking at Alice this time.

"They still feel the pain, though." Shaking his head tiredly, he paced back and forth once or twice, before gripping the handle of one of his swords, stopping before me.
"The young hunter here is the leader, therefore my blade follows the words of the leader."

"Seems reasonable enough," responded Alice with a fairly cheery tone of voice, and thus both of my companions turned to me for my expert opinion.

Wonderful. With great exasperation, I crossed my arms, pondering our options once again. How grand, to be the group leader.



[] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.
[] Anything that gets in our way… We'll make it quick and clean.
[] Better idea? (write-in only)
>> No. 35703
[x] Anything that gets in our way… We'll make it quick and clean.
>> No. 35704
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.

updates? In my Touhouvania?
>> No. 35705
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.
>> No. 35708
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.

Chances are any fairies missing during particular times in their tending of the seemingly vast garden will undoubtedly cause some alarm. The less disturbance done to the garden the better.
>> No. 35713
[X] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.

In before "Whose footprints are these?"
>> No. 35728
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.
>> No. 35729
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.
>> No. 35734
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.

inb4 Hunter gets bonus points with Youki, thus ensuing hunter's delight and giggles
>> No. 35740
[x] Anything that gets in our way… We'll make it quick and clean.
A group of 3 sneaking is a really silly idea.
>> No. 35743
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.

!

SNAKE? SNAKE! SSSSSNNNNNAAAAKKKKEEEEE!
>> No. 35746
[x] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required
>> No. 35782
[X] This is a sneaking mission; the use of stealth will be required.

>>35708

We'll be able to sneak past Meiling better as well. She may be relaxing in there somewhere.

Stupid question: Should we torch it later?
>> No. 35790
>>35782
>Should we torch it later?
Yuuka is the final boss in the garden.
>> No. 35791
>>35782
I doubt she'd be relaxing; we're not dead yet.
>> No. 37432
File 127432025229.jpg - (20.06KB , 614x461 , lake.jpg ) [iqdb]
37432
No surprise work today? Cool.

Alright. This is just like learning to walk again after a horrible crippling accident, right? Baby steps, baby steps…

-------

Ugh.

"Fine," I relented, "we'll do it your way. No killing…"
As the corners of Youki's mouth dragged slightly upwards in the form of a satisfied smirk, he turned his head towards a random noise in the distance, thereby not noticing as I muttered the latter half of my declaration under my breath.
"…unless it's absolutely necessary."

-------

BGM: "Garden Forgotten by Time"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ_t52MCjmc

-------

I didn't seem to be the only one somewhat disgruntled over the proposed plan; you could almost sense the demonstrative manner in which Alice rolled her eyes without even looking at her. The rustling of the damp grass was barely audible as she approached me, though waiting for Youki to head off ahead of us before speaking, her voice a nearly-silent whisper. Were my ears less used to picking up even the slightest noises for various work-related reasons, I probably wouldn't have been able to hear her over the sound of the grass, or the breeze gently caressing the tops of the hedges that surrounded us.

"So. What do you think of our charming new companion?" She sent a brief glance in the general direction Youki had headed, a mild smirk finding its way to her lips.
"It's starting to feel like you're not the one running the show anymore."

"Hey, that's hardly fair," I scoffed back at her, almost a little too loudly, as I started moving as well, Alice following me closely behind without a noise, hovering just above the grass through magic. Of course, my own steps were nearly inaudible as well, sneaking being a skill I prided myself in. My weight perfectly distributed each time I lifted a leg, my foot coming down slowly and smoothly, a calculated motion that would barely disturb the blades of grass that I walked upon.
"We're a team, aren't we? I just like to give you guys some say in how things get done, that's all…"
I was also lying through my teeth. I hate being told what to do… which is somewhat ironic for various reasons, one of those being my employment at the time.

"Sure, sure," my blonde companion chuckled from behind me, before floating to my side and gesturing for me to stop. We had come to the first of many intersections and bends in the path through the hedge maze. Pausing at first to listen for nearby fairies, Alice reached into… somewhere… and pulled out one of her dolls – one of the last remaining ones, actually. Prior to sending it out on a quick scouting journey, I noticed her affectionately pet the little thing's head with her fingers, a lighter, more sensitive smile on her face than what I had gotten used to in terms of her facial expressions – calm and cool, or somewhat snarkily amused. A thin, barely visible string connecting the doll to one of the rings around Alice's fingers, the little thing flew out of her palm and headed off into the darkness. Indeed, it was still night… How odd, I thought at the time – the first night I spent in Gensokyo went by in a flash, and I spent most of the day navigating my way through the woods to the Misty Lake; and yet, time seemed to have stood still during our adventures in the mansion so far.

Alice's eyes took on a narrowed, somewhat glazed over appearance for a short while, with me fumbling my fingers inside the pockets of my coat somewhat nervously for the duration, glancing left and right and listening for any approaching patrols. For a moment, I was tempted to wave my hand in front of her face or something, to see if she was aware of her actual surroundings while controlling her doll in such a manner, but before I could indulge myself in my silly desires, the little fairy-like puppet came floating back through the air to us, Alice's gaze taking on its normal appearance yet again as she yanked the thing back into her palm like a yo-yo.

"Hm. Well, we should turn right here, and…"
She looked over to me for a moment, only to be met with my blank stare.
"Ah, just follow me, would you?" Gripping my hand, she proceeded to hover onwards in the direction she had pointed, leading me along like a child. No footprints in sight, not even the slightest hint of the grass being disturbed – Youki was certainly good at staying unnoticed. Still, I wondered, if the grass is undisturbed, where are the fairies? As we stopped again before another turn, I peeked through the leaves of one of the hedge-walls and realized the answer to my dumb question – naturally, the fairies would be flying.

In a manner similar to Alice's doll just before, a few of them slowly swayed along through the air, sending shifty, mildly paranoid glances left and right, moving along their designated patrol routes through a larger clearing within the maze, each one headed from one passageway to another. Honestly, it was more likely that they were wandering around randomly, as lost as we were; if they didn't have wings, they'd probably never find their way out of there. No sign of Youki anywhere. As we waited for the fairies to clear out before moving on, I wondered in mild annoyance whether splitting up like that was productive for stealth purposes. Not that the guy would listen to me if I told him otherwise, but whatever. As the last fairy went out of sight, we moved along, Alice once again leading me down a certain path, with me dearly hoping that she was certain about the direction. And suddenly, in front of us…

"Hm? What's that?" I pointed forward, moving past her and examining a section of hedge a little closer, Alice catching up to me from behind and tilting her head at me in a perplexed manner.

"What's what? That's a hedge." Stopping by my side, she made an over-dramatic gesture at our surroundings.
"In case you hadn't noticed, we're surrounded by them."

"Funny. Look closer, it's been cut."

"So? The gardeners probably trim them regularly." As she hovered next to me, blinking her grey eyes at me, I lightly tapped the side of my head and smirked at her knowingly; a gesture which she didn't seem to take in good humor, scoffing in my direction and turning her eyes back to the cut segment of hedge.

"Look around again. None of the other hedges have been trimmed recently, and the cut leaves are still down in the grass below. Someone went through here recently and left a mark." Realization dawning upon her, he reaction seemed a little… disappointed? In any case, I continued my logical deduction of the clue before us.
"Obviously, Youki came by here either just now, or earlier when he first arrived here, and left a mark designating this to be the right path."

"Hmph. If you had asked whether the path was right or not to begin with, I could've answered that question for you immediately." Crossing her arms and turning her head to face away from me, her hair, short as it was, swished through the air rather aggressively. A moment later, she still peeked at me from the corner of her eye.
"Or are you taking his word over mine, now? I thought we had established a trust-based relationship by now."

"Hey now, that's hardly fair," I blurted in response, gesturing for her to follow as I rushed on ahead, a bit too frustrated by my companion's sudden moodiness to pay enough attention to remaining as stealthy as before.
"I only met both of you tonight, after all."

"Hmph." An amused 'hmph', not an upset one, for a change.
"How cold. And here I thought you liked me."

Paying no heed to her teasing, I quickly gestured for her to stop and remain quiet; mere seconds later, the voices of several fairies could be heard, close by, behind the barrier of hedges to our side. They were too quiet to make out what exactly they were saying, but I overheard bits and pieces.



"…miss Meiling sure was angry, wasn't she…"

"…finally managed to lock it up, but someone let the parasite out too…"

"…already dead when she found it, though…"´



"Hm," I pondered, after the voices died off again, "looks like the mansion is still in a mild stage of chaos from our, ah, influence…"

"You don't say? The near-total lack of guards so far wasn't your first clue?" Antagonistic all of a sudden, aren't we?
"Though, I suppose most of them might have been ordered to head to the throne room…" Crossing her arms again, she glanced upwards into the sky. No sight of the mansion, yet; we still had a ways to go.

"Probably. The vampire knew I'd be coming for her the night before." Again, I heard voices; many more, this time. While we had been lucky with the patrols so far, the next several sections of the maze seemed to be more tightly packed with the busy little gardeners. Cursing Youki's name in my head yet again for denying me the one solution to this problem that I'd have been most qualified to utilize, I refrained from going for a weapon, instead gesturing to Alice to stay close.

Waiting behind a corner until the patrol passed us buy, then slinking behind the fairy without a noise.

Dashing across an intersection at just the right moment for both fairies, pacing back and forth, to have their backs turned to us.

Slowly following directly behind a fairy, a dangerous feat in the long and narrow passage we were in, then rushing off to the side as we finally came to another branch in the path.

Constantly eluding and avoiding the patrols while paying attention to make as little noise as possible, and leave the grass relatively undisturbed. It's impossible to not leave footprints at all if you can't fly, but you can at least try to make them less obvious and less noticeable. The hedges had been cut here and there, marking the path for us. I wondered… was he just showing off? Or did he truly feel it'd be safer for him to just rush on ahead of us? Did he feel we were holding him back? Tch. In any case, the towering mansion gradually became visible to us as we looked up, hinting that we were getting closer, that we were approaching the home stretch, the goal of this twisting, winding, confusing maze. Even Alice probably had to admit that we'd be stuck in there, had Youki not marked the path. Well, I'd have been stuck; she could've just flown out. Damn those cheating magicians.

Just one more turn, and…

Dead end.

"…Huh." Alice stared at the hedge wall separating us from the mansion blankly, touching her lower lip in thought and furrowing her brow slightly.
"But I… I was certain this was the correct way." Apparently, she didn't take losing to some old swordsman very well. Not that I would have, either.

"Well, there were no marked hedges for a while now… I guess we just took a wrong turn somewhere." Stepping a little closer, I touched the hedge with my hand, idly rolling thoughts around in my head in regards to what we should do, when the simplest solution hit me – this was one of those Gordian Knot situations…
"...and the simplest way around the problem is to cut right through it!"
And with that, and little other warning, I took a few steps back before dashing right into the hedge, covering my face with my hand to protect my good looks-… er, eyes, and crashing right through it, ruining what must have been weeks, if not months of gardener work, miraculously not suffering any clothing damage…

…and promptly landing right in front of one of the gardener fairies, looking up into her green eyes at nearly point-blank distance as I knelt there, regaining my bearings and balance. The timid little red-haired creature stared right back at me for a good several seconds, the two of us blinking dumbly at one another, until Alice climbed through the hole I had provided, whispering to me furiously as she dashed towards me.
"What do you think you're doing!?"

That was all it took to snap the fairy out of her daze. A silent yelp escaped her lips, her throat too paralyzed from shock and fear to emit a sound, and she turned tail to run, no, fly towards the mansion in a panicked rush, intending to call for backup; likely from Hong Meiling, if not other heavy hitters. After all, Alice and I were way out of the league of a bunch of fairies.

I couldn't afford that, of course. Wasting no time, I dashed after her, catching up to her before she could get far, tackling her to the ground and rolling a good distance until our combined mass smashed into the mansion wall – I held her in a vice-like grip, freezing as I nervously listened for any signs of someone coming to investigate the commotion. Time seemed to slow down – it always does in these nerve-wracking situations.

I could hear my heartbeat. I could hear Alice's footsteps as she slowly approached us.

But nothing else. Nobody had noticed, or they had bigger things to worry about in the mansion. Good – that meant there was only one last loose end standing between us and the perfect escape from the underground catacombs: the fairy in my clutches. One hand of mine clinging to her jaw and face, blocking her mouth so she couldn't scream while the rest of the arm held her body in place, the other hand holding onto her head firmly… All it'd take would be one sharp, quick move, just a snap, and it'd be lights out until she respawns. Hell, she probably wouldn't even remember anything from the moments just before she died – natural defenses to prevent trauma from remembering your own death and whatnot, right? That'd take care of the problem of her having seen us. It'd be quick, it'd be efficient and practical. I had killed plenty of fairies earlier that night, too. It wouldn't be anything I hadn't done before countless times, barely anything worth mentioning.

But then, why did he have to be there? Youki, standing by Alice's side, ignoring the mildly annoyed glare she was fixing him with, his blue eyes staring right into my own. No real emotion in his face, no signs of him making any effort to stop me, just… staring. Watching, waiting for my next move. Ugh, so unfair… What do you think I did in such a situation? I did what I had to do, the only thing I could have done.
The hand that covered the fairy's mouth moved up to cover her nose as well, blocking off her air. Just long enough for her to pass out, and then I released her. A gigantic liability, and I just released her. Even as I did so, even as Youki looked down on the fairy's unconscious body while Alice moved to tie her up with some extra doll-string she pulled out of… somewhere, the man didn't say a thing about what just happened. Instead, he turned his gaze back to me, walking closer and giving a mild bow of the head, as if in greeting.

"Very well," he started, casually flicking some leaves and grass off my surprisingly unstained shoulder. Apparently vampires have great tailors.
"It seems the two of you did find a way out of the maze. For a moment, I was worried I would have to go back and guide you."

"You shouldn't have split from the group to begin with!" I must've looked like an insolent pup barking at an old wolf, talking back at him like that.
"If this is going to be a team effort, then we need to function as a team – and that means sticking together. Splitting off like that just makes us easier targets. Do you understand?"

"Of course." A blunt, completely insincere answer, though I felt as if I detected a hint of yet another superior smirk in the corners of his mouth, there.

"Look, I don't like this any more than you do. I usually work alone. However-…"

"I do not mind."

"Huh?" What was he talking about now?

"Working together with you. I do not mind it." This time he wasn't even trying to hide his smile anymore. I tried my hardest not to growl at him in response.

"Ngh… Then stop being so damn difficult, would you?"

"Hm. Yes, someone else did use to tell me such things, as well…" He stroked his beard for a moment, as if considering my words, before turning back to me.
"I will try."

"Good." By then, Alice had finished tying up the fairy, and hidden her away in an out-of-the-way corner where she would hopefully not be discovered until it was no longer dangerous to us.

"Well," she said, eyeing Youki and myself a little strangely for a moment as she drew closer, "I don't know about you two, but I'm nearly out of supplies."

"Supplies?" Youki asked, curiously.

"Yes; my dolls, and the strings I use to control them… I admit I had never planned in advance to be in need of this many of them tonight. Had I known I'd be battling my way through a vampire's mansion, I'd have brought more, obviously." She then turned to face me, eyeing my coat – more specifically, the various pockets, pouches and weapon belts I had strapped to myself.
"I can see our reckl-… ahem, fearless leader is somewhat short on ammunition as well by now. Also, didn't you have a dagger when we first met?"

"I actually had two. I seem to have lost both by now." Glancing down at what I had, the situation didn't seem immediately terrible, but I had certainly underprepared for this mission. To be fair, I hadn't planned on going through all these 'stages' at all, myself. No close combat weapon aside from the whip – which would be difficult to use in cramped situations, running low on knives and axes…

"What do you propose, then?" Youki once again spoke to Alice, his words this time being met with a somewhat less cold reception as she looked to him, then turned to face past me, prompting me to look over my shoulder as well.

"Well, my good swordsman… I propose we restock. As you can see, the maze brought us rather close to the main gate of the mansion, which is still unguarded; apparently miss Meiling is still busy clearing up any mess we made inside the mansion." Taking a step or two closer to the gate to which she was referring, she gestured out towards the forest on the shore of the lake.
"We'd simply need to cross the lake, go get some more weapons and supplies, and come back again. Better to be prepared and well-stocked, wouldn't you agree?" She said this, turning back to Youki again, as if daring him to disagree.
Apparently, he wasn't one to back down from a dare.

"I disagree. My own two blades are all that I require. Unnecessary wastes of time will only allow our enemies to grow in strength and number." As if to add flavor to his words, he drew one of his swords out from its sheath, gesturing with it towards the mansion in a manner far too dramatic for me not to have to hold back a snort of laughter.
"Our strike should be both deadly… and swift. When the enemy least expects it."

"And I keep telling you that we'll just be walking to our deaths if we go in empty-handed. You might not need anything other than your fancy swords, but not all of us-…"

And there they went again, arguing about what course of action to take. I decided to cut this one short before it was too late.
"Alright, alright, hypothetically speaking… If we did go and restock, where would we go? The village?"

"Hmm… That's a possibility, sure," Alice responded, falling into thought yet again.
"Alternatively, my house is rather close by… I might have something you could use lying around, too, but no guarantees. And then there's the, ah, Kirisame household… Mr. Kirisame would probably have some useful items of various kinds from here and there among his magical goods."

"If we do visit one of these locations," Youki interjected, "it would have to be only just the one. Do not get carried away listing locations, dear woman."

As Alice merely scoffed at the swordsman, I slowly walked away from the two to the main gate of the walls surrounding the mansion, gazing out across the Misty Lake, the moon high in the sky reflecting off the surface of the water…



[] Youki is right, we don't have time for this. We should head back into the mansion.
[] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.
[] Old man Kirisame was nice enough before, may as well pay him another visit.
[] The village would probably be our best bet – Kourindou sells practically anything.
[] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
>> No. 37434
[x] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

Heading to Kirisame's house means getting him involved.
>> No. 37436
Oh, and there are no bad choices for this particular vote.

The choice may affect more than you'd think in the future, though.
>> No. 37439
[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

While our vampire hunter's tools were quite useful, lately Alice's weaponry and skills been able to overcome many of the deadly denizens; with some assistance of course.

Besides wouldn't Alice's place have spare weaponry such as axes, lances and swords?
>> No. 37440
[x] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

Her abilities are the most versatile.
>> No. 37443
[x] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
This sounds like an interesting option. It could prove very useful.
>> No. 37445
[x] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

>>37439
>Besides wouldn't Alice's place have spare weaponry such as axes, lances and swords?

I would assume so, cause where else would she keep all those weapons her dolls use?
>> No. 37446
[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

We still have the whip to draw on, but when Alice runs out of dolls, that's it for her. And there's no guarantee that any of the other places will have what she needs to make more.
>> No. 37453
>>37446
I don't think she'd be useless without dolls (She should know some normal magic, just her speciality is dolls). But her dolls have various other uses out side of battle.
>> No. 37454
File 12743266536.jpg - (472.33KB , 642x776 , a98e28eb5db05273d74d1c1e6fb42038.jpg ) [iqdb]
37454
>Her dolls would probably come useful.
Indeed they will.
>> No. 37458
[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

Dolls are useful, and that something sounds interesting.
>> No. 37460
If I could choose a 2nd location, it'd be the Rinnosuke's shop or Keine.
>> No. 37470
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37470
Five to one so far. Surprisingly near-unanimous...

Take note that this little side-trip may end up taking at least two or three updates. Also, have some spoilers to sway your choices, should you choose to read them. Remember that all choices are equally viable.

Alice's house: Some more backstory on Alice's involvement in the whole matter. Loot, obviously mostly for Alice.
Kirisame magic shop: A brief appearance by a character that hasn't featured in the story yet, and a scene involving a party member. Also, loot.
Kourindou: Possibly the most "boring" choice, but also the widest variety of loot.
Keine's house: She did offer to aid you in your quest, and she wasn't kidding - some epic loot here. Also, some backstory on things before the Hunter arrived in Gensokyo, as well as a scene involving a party member (different from the Kirisame household).
>> No. 37475
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.

She may have some great insight to the demon castle ScarletScarlet Manse, probably even clues or hints that would trump any resupplied stock. unlike those peasants in Castlevania 2

Plus it feels so different from the other choices... Keine
>> No. 37483
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.

I picked the option most likely to result in silly hats.
Keine is always a safe choice for that.
>> No. 37498
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
>> No. 37538
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.

I like your Keine, although it's very hard to pass up the opportunity for Alice-specific supplies.

I'm kind of hoping both Alice and Sakuya the MC get a decent restock, though.
>> No. 37544
>Sakuya
>the MC
No. Just because we haven't seen her yet means that she is the MC. The best is used for last after all.
>> No. 37551
[x] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.
>> No. 37571
[x] Keine's house
[x] Alice's house

Round trip. Come on, do it.
>> No. 37586
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37586
>>37571

[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
>> No. 37587
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.

It's like the reward to a sidequest! It has to be good.
>> No. 37592
Unless I suck at counting, it looks like a tie between Alice's house or Keine's house.
>> No. 37596
>>37587
I'd like to collect a reward from Keine.

But for practical reasons:

[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

Her house is the closest location, so we will lose the least amount of time. And for Alice the dolls and her magic are her only ammunition, we can make a weapon out of anything if needed. We could continue the hunt swinging a frying pan if we had to, while Alice could probably not do it(as well as we would).
>> No. 37597
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
>> No. 37601
[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.

Unless Keine has some secret special dolls hidden somewhere in her house, bringing Alice back up to full power won't be happening by going to the village.
>> No. 37605
>>37601
Maybe not secret special dolls, but she has something for each of the party members.

Going out for a bit, back in the evening. Not calling it yet as it's pretty close, will see what y'all have decided when I return.
>> No. 37606
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
>> No. 37607
[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.
>> No. 37609
[X] The village would probably be our best bet – miss Kamishirasawa offered us a favor.
>> No. 37622
>>37544
Doesn't mean she isn't the MC, though. Remember, the MC's gender has been left ambiguous, and we through knives and can stop time...

I don't know how appropriate it is to mention that I'm not trying to start anything. I just feel like it'll degenerate into someone trying to prove I am tyring to OH FUCK LOOK AT WHAT I'M DOING NOW!!
>> No. 37625
>>37622
You apparently never played Castlevania. Most Belmonts can whip, throw knives, and stop time (via the stop watch)
>> No. 37654
[X] Alice's house is nearby? Sounds like a plan. Her dolls would probably come useful.
>> No. 37660
>>37605
I like those quests where every character gets something. Also: epic loot

[x] Keine House.
>> No. 37661
Still a tie, and I think we've reached our average maximum vote amount for this particular story. Unless I get some sort of massive outcry of protest, I'll let a coinflip decide this so I can get to writing.

*flip*

Heads. Keine's house it is.
>> No. 37665
>>37661

hooray!
>> No. 37676
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37676
I'll tell you what you missed from the other options later.

And a reminder… I did get this result through flipping a coin, because the votes were tied. Do let me know if this bothers you, or if you're unsatisfied with this result, or whatever.

At worst, I could be persuaded to write both choices and have you choose which one to stick to, but that'd be cheating, no?

-------

Hmm, wasn't there something I was forgetting? Or someone, rather? It was a little difficult to think with Alice and Youki arguing in the back like that, but-… Ah yes.

"What about that Kami-something-something lady?" I asked, turning around to face my companions again and leaning against the gatepost.

"What about her?" Alice promptly snapped back with a tone I wasn't quite sure I deserved, dark green eyes glancing in my general direction as Youki looked upon us both with a somewhat bemused expression.

"Remember? We met her in the arena?" I punted myself off the gatepost into a slow walk, heading back over to the two with my hands in my pockets. Surprisingly, Alice didn't seem to have any particular reaction to my rather loose definition of 'met'. Ah well, best jog her memory then, I figured; Youki hadn't met the woman, either, so I turned to him and continued.
"She's the guardian of the human village; apparently, she had apparently had a 'misunderstanding' with Remilia Scarlet, and ended up being locked in the mansion's arena, under a fake moon. Oh, and apparently she's a werewolf… werecow… thing."

As Youki simply stood there, merely blinking in minor confusion, Alice spoke up once again.
"Yes, a 'misunderstanding'…" Shaking her head at the quaint manner in which the lycanthrope explained her predicament, she shrugged her shoulders.
"She probably came to get rid of the vampire before you, my dear hunter. No doubt she had sent her minions to terrorize the villagers as well."

"Actually," I responded, rubbing my chin in thought, "the villagers seemed strangely… alright. They didn't seem particularly fond of the idea of me going off to hunt the vampire in the first place." Granted, it wouldn't be the first time, but…

"Hm." At long last, Youki made himself heard again.
"Perhaps they wish to maintain the status quo, and fear that after your death the vampire would retaliate against the village, thinking that you were hired by them?"

"Probably." Then, with a confident smirk, I wagged my finger back and forth a bit for effect.
"However, if anyone's going to die tonight, it'll be Remilia Scarlet."

"Hm, confidence. Confidence is good, as long as it is not in excess."

"In any case… That woman offered to aid us in our quest, if we could get out of the mansion and back to her house in the village. I'm curious about what sort of 'aid' she could grant us."

"Unless she has some secret special dolls somewhere in her house, I doubt she'd have much of use for me," Alice muttered, adjusting the rings on her fingers.
"However, I'm willing to give it a shot. So…" She slowly hovered off her feet into the air, crossing her arms and tilting her head at me, then Youki, then looking towards the lake.
"…How exactly do we get you two over the lake?"

"Perhaps the hunter had a boat?"

"Er. I had help. I don't think we're getting back the same way I got here."

"Hm." A thoughtful look on his face, Youki went back to stroking his beard as he would often do when pondering certain things he deemed unnecessary to share with us. The three of us walked (or floated, in Alice's case) towards the lake in silence, each of us attempting to formulate some sort of plan that did not involve swimming – from what I remembered from when I washed myself in the lake earlier, the water in the lake somehow managed to be well below freezing temperature without actually forming ice. Pneumonia isn't particularly productive for vampire killing, you see. Not only that, but it would be a long swim in any case. I cursed myself in hindsight for not asking old man Kirisame for two coins, when Youki suddenly unsheathed one of his blades, a determined look on his face, and turned to me once again.
"That trinket of yours – you use it to move swiftly like the wind, yes?"

"Trinket? Oh, you mean…" Fumbling in my pocket, I pulled out the pocketwatch I had used to save my hide several times already that night. Of course, to others, it would seem as if I was teleporting… but back when we were fighting that ghost, he had looked right at me, even when I was using the watch – if his senses were honed to the point where he could 'see' such quick movements, the it would naturally look like super-speed to him. It made sense, as he himself often moved faster than anything I had ever seen before; probably because anything faster would be invisible to the naked eye. Ah, but I'm rambling on again.

"This was not always an island. It used to be a peninsula, but either the water level has risen, or…"

"Oh, Remilia Scarlet figured and island would be more 'imposing' than a peninsula." Apparently Alice had some insight into this geographical oddity.
"So, she had her friend, Patchouli Knowledge, alter it to her tastes."

"Hmph. No respect for the land…" Shaking his head, Youki paced back and forth along the shore of the island a few times, measuring distances with his sharp eyes, before stopping and holding his blade as if he were getting ready to strike some manner of invisible foe.
"It should be right about… here." Raising his sword above his head in preparation for the slash, he looked over his shoulder at a somewhat puzzled Alice and a very confused me.
"Get ready to use that trinket of yours, hunter."

As he slashed downwards, his sword whistling through the air with a high-pitched noise that threatened to deafen me, my thumb instinctively clicked onto the button. Time stopped around me, just as the sudden shockwave from Youki's forceful slash tore a passage straight through the lake to the other shore – from my point of view, it was as if Youki were Moses, splitting the red sea. And, uh, I guess that'd have made me a Jew refugee, or something. I'm not good at metaphors, sorry. In any case, I understood then what he had meant, promptly sprinting into the valley he had created for me across the sunken part of the peninsula as fast as I could run, not particularly in the mood to be crushed beneath the roaring waves when my strength would finally fail me and my control over time faded.

Christ, the lake sure felt huge all of a sudden.

My limbs were starting to feel as if they were made of lead, heavier and heavier. Lifting my feet was become more challenging by the moment. It was difficult to breathe. I stumbled over a rock or slipped on the bottom of the lake every now and then. Looking over my shoulder, I could see Youki's blade still down from the force of the slash. The water flying apart around me had reached its apex, and was beginning to come back down. The tunnel became narrower, the waves were slowly encroaching, getting closer, the cold, deadly wet grave was filling itself up above me. Just a few…
…more…
…feet…

No. No more, I couldn't take any more. I tripped once more, more from exhaustion than from the slippery surface of the lake's bottom, crashing into the slope leading up to the shore of the lake, weakly trying to crawl up before the water crashed all over me as my grip over time faded – at this point, it was less of a matter of survival and more of a matter of not wanting to be under ice-cold water, really, so I apologize if it doesn't make for a particularly dramatic scene.
All of a sudden, glancing to the side, I beheld a sight I initially attributed to my tiredness as hallucination – Youki, dashing across the water as if it were a hard surface, his movements swift even as the time around me was still slowed down beyond normal flow. Before I knew it, though, he noticed me, leaping over to the shore in front of me and grabbing my hand, hoisting me upwards just as my strength finally gave out, the water falling back into place just before I could pull my leg up, promptly filling my boot with an icy, wet, muddy chill.

"Son of argh-…!"

"Well," Youki responded in a jovial manner, pulling me out of the water with a smirk, "that's hardly the proper way to address someone who just helped you."

"Feh. Nice trick with the sword, at least." I sat down on the grass, pulling the boot from my foot and emptying out the contents, as Alice flew over to us from the island, a mildly upset look on her face since we two speedsters had effectively left her alone back there.

"Glad to see you two had the time to wait for me." Not trying to hide the unhappy tone in her voice in the least, she landed by my side, cocking an eyebrow at the mud and water dripping from my boot as I shook it up and down and smacked the heel once or twice.
"You two certainly are fast when you need to be, although it looks like the hunter was just a tiny bit too slow."

"It's a little more complicated than speed," I mumbled, pulling the wet book back on. Hopefully the squirting noises wouldn't attract the attention of whatever beasts were left in the forest after I had cut my way through there earlier that day. Standing up again, I glanced at my two companions, staring back at me with blank expressions as if waiting for something.
Oh, right. Leadership and all that. Still getting used to that.
"Uh. Move out?" Gesturing in the general direction of the village, I turned around and headed into the forest, my companions nodding in response and following in my footsteps.

-------

BGM: "Invitation of a Crazed Moon"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPhokg8h-RE

-------

Though the blood had long since dried, there were still signs of the battle I had waged against the local hungry youkai; most of the corpses, however, had been dragged off or eaten, as evidenced by there being little else left behind than bones chewed mostly clean, already beginning to attract flies. As we stepped over and around the carcasses, or what was left of them, I couldn't help but notice that familiar frown on Youki's face yet again. What, was he really feeling sorry for these beasts? What's next, reprimanding me for destroying those zombies back in the entry hall of the mansion?

"Problem, Youki?"

"Hrm." No more than that for the moment, thankfully. Honestly, it was as if his one single defining character trait was whining about anything violent I did, even if it was in self-defense. Speaking of character traits… it occurred to me that I didn't really know anything about the guy, yet I was letting him follow me around like this. Sure, it was my idea to invite him along, but…

"So, uh…" Small talk has never been one of my strengths, nor was I really any good at making friends, for obvious reasons. Not that I had any intention of becoming friends with the guy, but…
"That ghost, back down in the catacombs. Someone you knew?"

Did I strike a nerve? If I did, he sure as hell wasn't going to let it show. Without replying, he simple kept walking at my side for a while in complete silence, face completely expressionless and relaxed, as if I had never said anything at all. Normally I'd ask again in a more forceful manner, but this time I felt it best to simply wait and see if he wanted to talk about it or not. I do try to pretend I have some semblance of empathy for other people, at times. Ain't easy, I'll tell you. A low rumble in the sky and the dark clouds that had gathered, masking what little light pierced through the veil of trees overhead, hinted at an approaching rainstorm.

"An old acquaintance." Acquaintance, huh…

"How close were you?" Friends? Lovers? Not that it really mattered to me, but there was little else to chat about and I was mildly curious. Alice, too turned her head our way to listen in, politely refraining from interrupting even as Youki sank into some sort of supposedly-meaningful silence yet again. More thunder, closer this time. The wind was starting to pick up, though we only knew this from the rustling of the leaves at the treetops – the forest itself was thick enough for the moment that the wind didn't reach us very easily.

"Not very. Enough for mutual respect."

Huh.
"Is that why you went down to the catacombs to, ah… do whatever it is you did? Respect?"

"I gave her spirit release, yes. Hakurouken," he said, tapping the shorter of the two blades in its hilt with his hand, "has the power to grant enlightenment to ghosts."

"Isn't that… cheating?" Alice finally decided to join in the conversation, although with a bit of an odd question. Cheating?

"…Some would say so, perhaps." We kept walking in silence again for a short while. The first raindrops were already starting to land, and the sky flashed a brilliant white through the leaves a few times. The quiet atmosphere didn't last long, though.
"What of yourself? What are your reasons for travelling to the mansion and seeking the demise of its mistress?"

"I'm a hunter. It's my job." Apparently Youki wasn't satisfied with such an answer, however, his brow still furrowed and his eyes still fixated upon me in that uncomfortable manner when someone is trying to stare into your head, figure out what makes you tick. Shrinks and such love doing that sort of thing. Don't ask.
"Seriously, no personal agenda or anything. I was just hired to do this."

"You'd take a life so casually, then?"

"Wouldn't be the first time!" My voice was rather unsuitably cheery as I exclaimed that last bit, promptly shutting Youki up for the moment. I wasn't going to pretend to be someone I'm not, no matter how much of a morality pet he'd try to be. In any case, we were clearing out of the woods, and the rain was starting to pick up; once we reached the road leading to the village, I accelerated to a light jog, Youki and Alice right behind me, heading for the local inn for shelter from the rain and to ask for directions to this Kamishirasawa woman's house.

-------

(Part 1 of 2. More tomorrow.)
>> No. 37682
>Do let me know if this bothers you
I am fine with it.
>> No. 37687
>Do let me know if this bothers you

Works for me~!
>> No. 37688
>I wasn't going to pretend to be someone I'm not, no matter how much of a morality pet he'd try to be...

Don't worry about that hunter, the voters will do that for you.
>> No. 37694
>>37688
MC is rough around the edges and still has much to learn. And that is why i am glad that we work together with Youki now.
>> No. 37699
>>37694
I think he's more referring to people who think that there's a possibility our hunter is Sakuya.

>Do let me know if this bothers you
Not at all
>> No. 37701
I wonder if we will find a bunch of ghouls in the village...
>> No. 37723
File 127465110940.jpg - (68.55KB , 580x550 , 10bd9ed2c659e884127d9a5bcbd69dfd.jpg ) [iqdb]
37723
The rain was already beating down rather heavily by the time we reached the inn, nary a soul outside anymore, the sound of water torrenting down into muddy puddles nearly deafening. After diving inside in a slightly less-than-polite tempo, we discovered that we were far from the only ones seeking shelter from the rain – the tavern section of the inn was packed full of men, women and children of all ages, some sitting around tables, eating and making merry, others chatting furiously about insignificant things while twisting water out of their clothing, apologizing to the servants as they trod mud all over floors that were freshly cleaned only just this morning. What all these people were doing awake in the middle of the night was anyone's guess, but I wasn't going to complain; I had intended to ask for directions in any case.

Wiping my feet on the designated doormat and stepping inside properly, I scanned the room. Compared to the cold, glum and unfriendly attitudes I was greeted with when I first arrived in Gensokyo, the people seemed somehow… different. More cheerful, boisterous, joking amongst themselves, laughing and even singing in that drunken, horribly flawed yet joyful manner. What you'd expect from any other mellow village in the middle of nowhere, but not quite one being terrorized by a vampire. Walking towards the counter behind which the creepy little owner of the inn would be perched on his stool, I couldn't help but feel like I had wandered into the wrong village somehow. But no – there he was, the same creepy old geezer missing half of his teeth if not more, flashing a ghastly grin in my general direction in greeting; I decided to play nice and smile right back at him, as he was the closest thing to a familiar face I had in these parts, in a manner of speaking.

"Ah! Welcome back, welcome back! You look to be doing quite well, mhmm, yes you do; and you've brought friends, too! How did your little visit to the mansion go, then?" I motioned for him to lower his voice just a little, as his little exclamation managed to earn me a few suspicious glances yet again. Strangely enough, most of them seemed to focus more on Alice than myself; could they tell that she wasn't human? Youki backed off into a corner on his own, staying mostly out of sight for the time being and closing his eyes. Probably some sort of pretentious meditation bullshit, I dunno.

"Uh, yeah, I'll be heading back again. She's not dead yet."

"Oh?" Cocking an eyebrow far beyond what most would consider normal human limits, the little man gave me yet another odd look. Not disappointed, not happy, just… well, his usual creepy self. I was starting to wonder whether he was alright in the head, but I didn't quite have time for that.

"Yyyeah, I was wondering, could you tell us where to find-…"

"Coffee?" A sudden interjection before I could even finish my question.

"Yes, please," responded Alice from behind me, trying to dry her hair somehow with her hands until one of the servants approached her and offered a towel, which she accepted with a polite smile. Figures that the only ones not looking at the witch funny would be those working for the weird old guy running the place. Before I could try asking again, the man hobbled off somewhere, presumably to the kitchen, leaving me with little else to do than lean on the counter and wait for him to return, sighing tiredly. It had been a long night, so far – why can't these missions ever be quick and easy? I had planned on just waltzing in the front door, beating up some zombies and whatnot, going up to the little vampire girl and destroying her like the abomination she was, yet there I was, playing some sort of fetch quest for the vampire's amusement with a near-total lack of guards to fight (which is boring) and teaming up with two inhuman beings – a Magician and a 'Half-Ghost'. What's next, the vampire's traitorous half-breed son? Though Alice had certainly earned her fair share of trust from me for the time being, old habits die hard, as do old instincts. Hell, I wasn't even sure what the hell I was thinking when I asked Youki to join us. He certainly seemed to enjoy questioning my methods and motivations at every turn…

"Three cups of hot and steaming coffee for the band of brave adventurers!" An overly excited servant girl promptly ambushed me from the side as I had sunk into deep thought, startling me more than any monster had that night; apologizing profusely despite my insistence that it was quite alright, she placed a tray on the counter to my right – three cups of black coffee with a tiny bowl full of sugar and another full of cream on the side. Figuring it wouldn't do any harm at this stage, I grudgingly grabbed one of the cups and took a sip, as Alice and Youki approached and each took a cup as well.

"There is no need to pretend to be tough in front of me or anyone else, you know," Youki chuckled at me with a smirk, before taking a long sip of coffee himself. Grimacing at both the smartass swordsman and the bitterness of the coffee, I took the hint, adding a bit of cream and a few spoonfuls of sugar to my coffee before drinking any more of it. Even Alice couldn't help but blurt out a muffled snicker at this little, absolutely insignificant event that in no way cast me in an embarrassing light. Et tu, Alice? Ah well, I had important stuff to worry about; such as getting those directions before my companions decide to stay for soup or something. For the moment, they seemed to be enjoying the performance of a young blonde woman wearing a white coat over a red dress, playing some manner of string instrument and singing along to the tune with a rather melodious, well-trained voice on a small raised stage in the middle of the tavern. Despite the amount of drunken or otherwise rowdy men present in the room, there was practically no jeering or perverse remarks being tossed around, either from respect towards the woman's performance or their wives by their sides keeping them well-disciplined.

Even I found myself lost in her song and music for a short while, until the owner of the inn decided to reappear, peeking his head out from behind the counter I was leaning on and looking right at me, a little too close for comfort, scratching his poorly-shaven chin and smirking at me.
"Enjoying the performance, are we? The village nurse is certainly a multi-talented woman…"

"Yes, well, I'm sure she is, but… I really need those directions." I honestly didn't have the time to enter a lengthy discussion about music and song, as lovely as that woman's voice may have been.
"Can you tell us how to get to the house of…" …what was that name again…

"…Keine Kamishirasawa?" Thank you, Alice, for taking the time to assist me between sipping your coffee..

Ah. A reaction, not only from the old man, but from all around us, the locals quieting down some and turning to look at us with piqued curiosity, only the blonde woman's singing and the sound of her instrument piercing through what would otherwise be near-total silence.
"The village guardian, you say? Hmmmm…" Rubbing his chin, his rough skin causing a sound similar to that of sandpaper against wood as he did so, the geezer stared me right in the eye for a brief while, mild whispers being exchanged by those around us. Seemingly unsure of what this could mean, I noticed Youki casually resting one hand on the hilt of his sword, a movement so calm and natural it wouldn't attract your attention even if you were looking right at him. His blue eyes darted left and right suspiciously, yet the lines of his face showed no stress or nervousness.
"So. You'd be the ones that helped her out of the mansion, right?"

With those words, the expressions of the other villagers seemed to become… less harsh. Perhaps not quite friendly, but at least not overly hostile either – curious, even. Did we help her? Absent-mindedly, I couldn't help but fumble at my neck a little, thinking back to the vice-like grip choking the life out of me, Alice's incantations narrowly managing to dispel the illusion before either my oxygen would've run out or my neck would've snapped. Yeah, I don't know if almost getting killed counts as helping, but no reason to be too honest, now is there?

"Yeah, that was us. I guess." The chatter around us livened up again; apparently we had won some popularity points through giving the villagers their protector back. Not that I care much for popularity or anything, but there's no practical use in people hating your guts either, so…
"She said for us to come by her house, should we find the time. Could you tell us where it is?"

"Oh, of course, of course! Surely, she must wish to thank you properly, oh yes!" While the innkeeper seemed more amused-as-always rather than the pleasantly surprised attitude of the other villagers, at least he was being cooperative. I had a feeling he would, as I seemed to have left a good impression on him the first time we had met. Somehow. Or maybe he was simply some weirdo who enjoyed helping out other weirdos. Youki took his hand off the blade's handle, and Alice seemed much less tense as well.
"Come come," the man said, leading us to the door of the inn, "I'll show you which way to go. The rain seems to have stopped already, too, but watch out for puddles!" A nasty-sounding chortle later, I figured out he was referring to what had happened to my previous pair of boots. Gee, thanks for reminding me…

-------

For the 'guardian of the village', the woman's house certainly looked… nondescript. We'd have never found it without directions, at least without knocking on the door of every single generic house along our path until we got lucky. The house itself stood right next to what appeared to be a school, naturally closed for the night; the house's windows had lights in them, however, suggesting miss Kamishirasawa (I –really- need to think of a shorter nickname for her) was still awake; waiting for us, possibly? Well, I certainly appreciated the faith she put in our odds of survival and returning, although it honestly would've been nice of her to stick with us and get back to the village together. Ah well.

"Maybe you should knock," I muttered to Alice, having forgotten what the woman's name was for the umpteenth time. With a roll of the eyes and a rather unnecessary click of the tongue that just says 'Honestly…' without words, she walked up to the door, gently shoving me out of the way, and knocked. Youki stood a ways off in the back, apparently having no intention of going in with us.

It didn't take long for us to hear the sound of footsteps coming from inside, and then the door opened, revealing the woman whom I had last seen wearing nothing but tattered rags, now clad in a fine blue dress (she wears something like that in her own home?), and… some sort of peculiar object perched on her head. I'd call it a hat, except it looked more like some weird oriental building. Or a lunchbox. I couldn't quite tell.

"Ah, you've made it!" A pleasant smile on her face, she greeted us with the tone you'd use to greet old friends you've invited over for tea.
"Please, do come in."

"Thank you," Alice responded, short, simple and polite, stepping inside and removing her boots. Right, they're not big on wearing footwear indoors in Japan, are they… Mumbling a quick 'Thanks' myself, I followed Alice inside, proceeding to taking my own boots off as well. That just left Youki, standing outside and staring off into the distance.

"Mister Konpaku?" The woman calling his name all of a sudden made Youki jump in surprise. That's odd, I thought; did those two know each other?

"…Have we met, miss..?" Well, no, Youki certainly doesn't seem to know – or remember- this woman. Considering their apparent age difference, perhaps they met when she was still a child, and it's been so long the old guy's memory is getting fuzzy?

"Keine. Keine Kamishirasawa. But, please, you may all simply call me Keine." Giving us all another warm and friendly smile, she stepped out to the porch, beckoning for Youki to join us inside.
"It's cold and wet outside. Do come inside, won't you?"

"…Alright then." Apparently more out of sheer curiosity about who this woman is and how she knows him, Youki gave in and decided to join us, politely bowing before entering and taking off his sandals. Now that we were all in the dry and warm confines of Keine's house, she lead us to one of those heated table things with a blanket over them. I always thought those were nifty. A kotatsu seems like the perfect place for a cat to curl up under during the winter... Wait, I'm getting distracted again. In any case, we sat down, our legs all nice and warm under the covers, and despite my repeated protests Keine insisted on making us some team since we were her guests. Honestly, after having had that coffee, the thought of tea right after was a painful reminder that I hadn't taken a leak in quite a while by then – I'd have to remember to ask her where her bathroom was, before leaving.

A short time passes before she returns with the tea; the scent did manage to get me to put aside my annoyance towards her forceful hospitality for the time being.
"Well then!" Still positively radiating politeness and a delightfully friendly attitude, she sat down at the table with us, treating each one of us to a smile that you couldn't help but return.
"I'm certainly glad to see none of you are hurt. I do hope I didn't, ah, rough you up too badly..?"

"Er, not at all! It's totally fine, don't worry about it." As impolite as it may have been to keep my coat on indoors, it served the purpose of being able to hide my neck behind the collar to hide any lingering bruises from her earlier chokehold.

"Ah, I'm glad. And you, sir Konpaku-…"

"'Youki' will suffice."

"Youki," she continues, nodding to him, "I don't believe I saw you with these two when I encountered them. Did you meet up after I had already left?"

"Yes, we met our swordsman friend sometime after we entered the catacombs," Alice answered, before taking another sip of her tea. And I had thought she was focusing more on relaxing than listening in on the conversation.

"I see. I take it your mission was successful then, Youki?"

The guy seemed to be getting more and more bothered with each passing moment as Keine spoke, but this time he just couldn't help but ask a question of his own in return.
"Y-yes, but… I apologize for the rude question, but-…"

"Please, it's no problem at all."

"…Who are you? Have we met? You speak as if you are familiar with me and my mission, but I don't...."

A disarming smile is all he gets in response for a rather long set of seconds, before she opens her mouth to speak again, a faint smile dancing across her lips before she does so. Over the course of the entire conversation so far, her voice had been perfectly calm and gentle, and this time was no different – she spoke in a tone a teacher would to her students.
"Don't worry about it. It's been so long that you couldn't possibly remember, and I take no offense to that. It's perfectly understandable."

"I, uh… heh," Youki stammered, awkwardly smiling and scratching the back of his neck with his hand.
"I… didn't think my memory was that bad quite yet…"

"You were younger back then."

"Still, I-…"

"A lot younger," she finished off the current topic of conversation, with a firm nod that promptly kept Youki quiet again. That was quite… odd, to say the least. The way she made it sound, you'd think the woman that seemed to be about in her late twenties or so was talking to the grizzled-looking guy with the white beard as his senior, which was just silly. And yet… taking the chance to look at this woman's eyes, I couldn't help but feel that those deep brown pools hid more behind them than one would be able to sense at first glance; something vast, arcane, mysterious… perhaps ancient. Experience prompted me to keep an open mind towards any possibilities, even the most unlikely or bizarre ones; you never know in a world where magic exists, right?

"Um… Do you think I could ask you a few questions… Keine?" I figured I'd bail Youki out on this one. He'd owe me one later. I almost even felt like he shot a glance of gratitude towards me as I got Keine to turn her eyes away from his.

"Certainly," she responded happily, turning to face me again.
"What is it that you'd like to know?"

"Well, for starters. When we were fighting our way through the mansion, we noticed a distinct lack of guards. I thought it was pretty odd, at the time… Uh, were you the one that got rid of them?"

"Ah. Well, no," she shook her head, the weird box-thing somehow managing to stay perfectly balanced and in place, as if glued to her head.
"In fact, I had gone to negotiate with miss Scarlet on peaceful terms."

"Negotiate? About what?"

"Well. It's a little complicated, really. You see, the Scarlet Devil Mansion only recently appeared in Gensokyo. Gensokyo is…" She paused for a moment, eyeing me more intently than before, as if trying to figure something out.
"…a land of magic, where all non-human beings are welcome. All humans too, of course, although for obvious reasons we try not to allow too many outsiders past the border…" Well, yeah, there's the whole thing about the outside world being ill-prepared to deal with the knowledge that magic and monsters exist. That's exactly why the Church sends hunters like myself to deal with such threats – eliminating them one by one is simply easier than dealing with the mass chaos and panic and other repercussions of revealing the truth to the world.
"Vampires – a new arrival in Gensokyo - are no exception. However, there are some… issues. I assume you understand when I say that a vampire's natural diet would seem rather problematic to the native humans that live here. However, Gensokyo has long since adopted a type of social balance between the humans and youkai that live here, one that outsiders would likely find rather…" She paused, searching for the proper word to express what she meant.
"…Darwinian."

"Survival of the fittest?"

"More or less. To set aside political correctness for a moment – I apologize in advance, miss Margatroid." Looking over at Alice, I saw her simply wave her hand in a dismissive manner as she lay back and enjoyed her tea, listening to our dialogue.
"…yes, well. Most youkai are, in simple, human terms, something akin to a step between humans and animals. They possess humanoid forms and are as sapient and sentient as humans are, yet their values and instincts are different. Like humans, they speak, sing, laugh, love. Like beasts, they hunt other beasts, and even humans." Pausing for a moment, she gave me a chance to let what she had said so far sink in; however, most of this was standard stuff for a hunter to know about.

"Please, continue."

"It is generally accepted that anyone caught by a youkai when out alone in the middle of the night brought it upon themselves simply through the foolishness of being alone and exposed in the night. Of course… the local humans are rather capable of defending themselves from most regular youkai," she added with a meaningful smirk. Huh. Really? They looked like regular farmer-types to me… Then again, a stable human village in a place like Gensokyo? More likely than not, they had some magic in their blood. Perhaps they were descendants of demon hunters or something of the sort?
"So. When miss Scarlet appeared in Gensokyo, we had some civil talks with her… after the initial not-so-civil talks, that is. We managed to come to an agreement that she would be allowed to feed on anyone she can catch, but not to turn the local humans into thralls or new vampires, and not to kill. The latter didn't seem to be an issue as she seems to be a vampire with a light appetite."

"…You gave her permission to feed on the locals?" I was stunned, to be quite honest.

"Yes. Doesn't every living being deserve to eat and survive?" While she didn't seem surprised by my reaction, she obviously didn't share my distaste (to put it lightly) towards the scenario she had just described. Well, it was mostly shock, actually – most of the time, the vampire brute-forces such deals upon the humans under their control, yet these people seemed so accepting of the supernatural that they would allow such an arrangement voluntarily? However, I wasn't in Gensokyo to convert the locals from their world-views – I was there to kill a vampire, no more, no less.

"Alright, alright, so… How, exactly, did you end up as a prisoner, then?"

"Ah. Well, you see, some of locals… They weren't happy with the deal we had made. I'm sure you can understand this. While the majority of the villagers preferred a calm co-existence, a small group decided to riot against the vampires, and eventually formed a mob to assault the mansion." She paused for a moment, as if thinking back to something.
"This happened roughly a week ago. They haven't been seen since… Although, to be honest, most of them were rather unpleasant people, so they're not very dearly missed…" Gosh, what a brutal place to live.

"I think I might know what happened to them." Thinking back to those zombies I had seen when I first entered the mansion, the fate of the mob seemed obvious.

"As do I, now. However, I had gone to negotiate their release and return. I was welcomed inside as before, however… I let my guard down, and I was ambushed." Frowning to herself, she shuffled about under the kotatsu a little.
"That's all I remember from before you released me. Apparently she had set me up as some sort of challenge in your path..? How strange."

"I… hadn't even told you about her challenge, yet."

"Oh, I know already." Huh, so she knew, somehow. Suddenly, she leaned forward towards me, staring me directly in the eye. Unpleasant memories gripped around my neck again, as I remembered when those eyes glowed a crimson red not long ago…
"Speaking of which… Do you still intend to fight Remilia Scarlet?"

"It's what I was sent here to do, yes. I don't leave a job unfinished."

"Hm, I see. Well, I won't try to persuade you otherwise, however… you'll need help. Please wait." With that, she stood up, heading off into another room somewhere. My companions and I looked at one another curiously, but before we could begin to speculate, she was already returning. In her hands, she held a rolled-up cloth, some items contained inside – she set the cloth on the table and unrolled it, revealing three items – a sword, a mirror, and a green jewel in the shape of what looked like one half of a ying-yang circle on a cord; I recalled such things being called magatama, and symbolizing the human spirit, or something along those lines.
"These items would be of help to you."

Huh. "Ah, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but… Well, I can understand how a sword can be useful, but…-" Although even the sword seemed a little old and rather used, if you know what I mean.

"Do not judge by appearance." A brief, serious look came upon her face, before giving way to her usual smile yet again.
"I do not offer you the use of these relics lightly. You are free to borrow them, but they will return to my possession once your mission is complete."

"Sounds fair. So, uh… what do they do?" From how serious she seemed about offering this stuff to us, it must've been magical. True enough, it wouldn't be the first time something that initially looked like junk would turn out to be a powerful artifact; unfortunately, the Church always confiscated all the good stuff, leaving me with little else than my whip and the shirt on my back after a mission.

"The power contained within these artifacts is vast. The sword symbolizes valor, or the stars; the mirror symbolizes wisdom, or the sun; and the jewel symbolizes benevolence, or the moon. However… what portions of the power are unlocked depend on the person wielding them – no mere mortal may unlock their true power, but even in the hands of a human they would become formidable weapons." Shaking her head, she continued.
"I cannot predict what effects you may get out of them. I apologize." Figures. Guess we'd have to find out through trial and error, huh? Alice in particular seemed rather disappointed that Keine didn't seem to have a convenient stash of gunpowder-filled dolls lying around her house, but what was she expecting? Strangely enough, Youki was staring at the items with what I could only describe as… awe, enough to prevent him from even speaking. Maybe he had heard of these trinkets before? Ah well, there's that saying about not looking a gift horse in the mouth…

"Alright, we'll take them. Thank you for the help – I'm sure they'll be just the thing we need to succeed."

"Ah, but first…" There's always a catch.
"The items must be attuned to the user before you may wield them to their proper potential. This means that you must choose who will take which item before you leave here."




[] The sword…
-{} I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.
-{} Youki will take it. He's the master swordsman here, he'd be able to use it to its full potential.
-{} Alice will take it. Should her magic not be enough, she'd need some way to defend herself from foes that get too close.

[] The mirror…
-{} I'll take it. Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection…
-{} Youki will take it. He seems the wise-old-man type, and the mirror did symbolize wisdom…
-{} Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?

[] The magatama necklace…
-{} I'll take it. The green goes well with my… hair, I guess. Plus, I've always been more of a moon-person…
-{} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.
-{} Alice will take it. Not sure if I'd quite call her 'benevolent', but witches tend to use similar trinkets to amplify their magic.

-------

…Oh, and feel free to speculate about these items all you want. I'd enjoy that.
>> No. 37727
[X] Take all of it, become King of Gensokyo


[X] The sword…
-{X} I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.

Youki already has swords, and I doubt Alice is much of a swordsman.


[X] The mirror…
-{X} Youki will take it. He seems the wise-old-man type, and the mirror did symbolize wisdom…

Sure, that could work.

[X] The magatama necklace…
-{X} Alice will take it. Not sure if I'd quite call her 'benevolent', but witches tend to use similar trinkets to amplify their magic.

Youki's reasoning sounds a little weak if just for the colour.
>> No. 37728
>>37727
Keep in mind this is the MC's reasoning, not that of a reliable narrator or anything.
>> No. 37730
>What's next, the vampire's traitorous half-breed son?

>Though Alice had certainly earned her fair share of trust from me for the time being, old habits die hard, as do old instincts.
Never knew the MC was such an asshole. Earlier it seemed more like s/he really enjoyed her company.


[x] The sword…
-{x} Alice will take it. Should her magic not be enough, she'd need some way to defend herself from foes that get too close.
Youki already has swords, MC doesn't really need them. But Alice would need something to defend herself when she has no dolls or it comes to hand to hand combat. I am sure in the near future it will get even harder and everyone will have their hands full and has no time to save someone else.

[x] The mirror…
-{x} I'll take it. Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection…
The Hunter will be the one who takes Remilia down, the Mirror will be useful in the final fight. And maybe the Extra stage.

[x] The magatama necklace…
-{x} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.
Mystery Object? Maybe he will get a power upgrade or something. At least he will be more stylish and manly.
>> No. 37731
>>37730
>Never knew the MC was such an asshole. Earlier it seemed more like s/he really enjoyed her company.

To be fair, the guy's been killing supernatural beings both monstrous and humanoid (like Alice) for who knows how long. He probably just hadn't had the time to properly reflect on the concept of working with one up until now.
>> No. 37733
>>37731
I think the Hunter has two line of thoughts of Alice: Her as a person and her as a nonhuman. Both in conflict.
>> No. 37734
File 127466044723.jpg - (733.96KB , 1124x900 , 5bdca5809cb04c958a6d236ede1d1e5b.jpg ) [iqdb]
37734
>>37733
>> No. 37735
Isn't the mirror supposed to be pretty damn huge, like the size of a man's torso? You'd think it could possibly be used as a shield or something...
>> No. 37736
[x] The sword…
-{x} Alice will take it. Should her magic not be enough, she'd need some way to defend herself from foes that get too close.

[x] The mirror…
-{x} I'll take it. Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection…

[x] The magatama necklace…
-{x} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

Works for me~!
>> No. 37738
>>37735
8 ata (about 144 cm), it's part of the name
>> No. 37740
>>37734
Yeah it'll take time for the two line to converge one way or another.

[x] The sword…
-{x} Alice will take it. Should her magic not be enough, she'd need some way to defend herself from foes that get too close.

[x] The mirror…
-{x} I'll take it. Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection…

[x] The magatama necklace…
-{x} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.
>> No. 37741
>>37733
This somehow would make sense.
The whole time it did not seem like s/he looked down so much on her. The Hunter was rather happy to have her company.
Just thinking back at the scene where Alice was about to die.
So this just confused me because it came out of nowhere.
>> No. 37752
[x] The sword…
-{x} Youki will take it. He's the master swordsman here, he'd be able to use it to its full potential.

[x] The mirror…
-{x} Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?

[x] The magatama necklace…
-{x} I'll take it. The green goes well with my… hair, I guess. Plus, I've always been more of a moon-person…

Hard choices, man...

The sword couldn't go to Alice, it just doesn't feel right to give a mage something like that. Besides, it symbolized Valor; Benevolence and Wisdom fit Alice much better (obviously leaning more towards Wisdom). And when it comes to Youki and the Hunter, Valor seems to fit Youki better (hell, they all fit Youki better than Hunter).

If someone can convince me to do so, I'll easily change my vote to sword for hunter and magatama for Youki.

But can I get some more insight on why Alice needs a weapon like the sword? She's still got her Grimoire, and as much as she likes to hold back during a fight I still feel like she's quite capable without a weapon.

Goddamn my lack of Castlevania knowledge, I feel like you guys are making decisions based on stuff I don't know.
>> No. 37765
>I've always been more of a moon person.
I see what you did there, and I believe I know what will you do later on.
It'll be glorious, I can feel it. And that's not a word I use often.
By the way, no; I'm going to make a joke as cheap as that one. So stop thinking about it.

[x] The sword…
-[x] I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.
He can't even think of fighting a vampire if he needs to also take care of not letting her move close.
As for the item... it'll be a powerful weapon yes... but since it looks too old I believe it'll have a story of its own. Which was that game/series where weapons with its own story where considered powerful because they earned experience just like a human would?

[x] The mirror…
-[x] Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?
A rough choice. Since he felt it was calling him, I was about to choose our MC for the job but... battle logic won the match. Anyway it feels like the second best thing and I'd much sooner give it to our partner rather than a (temporary?) ally who has more than enough power to wipe the floor with the other two in a heartbeat.
As for the mirror itself... well just like in Ha... in that book, whom I'd rather not quote lest my partners disqualify me yet again for doing so, I think that mirrors (magical ones, that is) can reflect the past, wishes and needs of living beings. Who best than Alice to carry it out then? She's one of the Touhoes with the most grim memories after all...

[x] The magatama necklace…
-[x] I'll take it. The green goes well with my… hair, I guess. Plus, I've always been more of a moon-person…
-[x] Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.
Magatamas... I was a big fan of Blue Seed so I can't help but be suspicious. Considering they're a gift from Keine, I'm sure they are safe but... let's just give it to the moist powerful warrior just in case.
I wonder what could they do? Being somewhat like a seed, I can assume that it unlocks the 'inner potential' of humans. I sure hope I'm wrong tho, since Youki is neither a human nor has much potential left (he had some time to bring it out, I guess) Since the MC said something about magatamas being related to spirits I suppose that it could mean any number of things really... I dunno.
>> No. 37785
File 127468311258.png - (49.94KB , 200x256 , well played you son of a bitch.png ) [iqdb]
37785
[x] The sword…
-[x] I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.

[x] The mirror…
-[x] Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?

[x] The magatama necklace…
-[x] Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

It's not like we can't trade off if they aren't working so well, right?

Please?

>a young blonde woman wearing a white coat over a red dress, playing some manner of string instrument
Taisa, I am so fucking hard for you right now.

I'm glad to see that somebody (aside from Fallout Anon and Milly) knows how to pay their respects to the best EoSD protagonist.
>> No. 37788
Not voting right now since I'm not sure what to choose. But I almost want to vote for -{} Alice will take it. Not sure if I'd quite call her 'benevolent', just to see Alice's reaction. You wouldn't happen to mind writing a few sentences on that even if it doesn't win would you? Just as a "What If"


Also I'm curious on how Gensokyo High is going, you've been updating this a lot more recently then GH. I don't believe you've abandoned it but was just curious as to what your reasons were for it. Is this just coming more naturally or are you enjoying writing this more and it reignites the flame for writing?
>> No. 37790
>>37788
> Is this just coming more naturally or are you enjoying writing this more and it reignites the flame for writing?

A little bit of of both. GH isn't dropped, I'm just getting used to writing again before I get back to it, and THV is flowing a little better for me right now.
>> No. 37791
>>37790
Well, better for me I guess. I prefer this story.
'sides, if you write something that you aren't really feeling well...
>> No. 37798
[X] The sword…
-{X} I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.
[X] The mirror…
-{X} Youki will take it. He seems the wise-old-man type, and the mirror did symbolize wisdom…
[X] The magatama necklace…
-{X} Alice will take it. Not sure if I'd quite call her 'benevolent', but witches tend to use similar trinkets to amplify their magic.
>> No. 37806
>>37785
I'm sure we could, but it wouldn't be very effective. Remember, she has to calibrate each tool to its intended user.
>> No. 37828
>>37824
hmmm

Sword: One of the three divine artifacts. It's amazing because it's a divine relic, but actually it was used like a simple lawn mower.

(Ever seen the movie Brain Dead / Dead Alive? Yeah...)

Magamatama: There's something erotic about the curve of the jewels. Just what you'd expect from a divine artifact. (hmm)

Mirror: They say mirrors are used for magic, but it's really more of a trick. Magic is usually about imitation, er, well, mirrors are magic, eh? Sorry. (Holo-Duke anyone?)
>> No. 37832
[X] The sword…
-{X} I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.

MC is more of a direct attacker, no fancy tricks or whatever, just smashing the opposition upfront. Take sword, slice enemies. That is all s/he does and the primary reason for the sword over the magatama. The mirror seems to be the worst choice for him, even if it is calling him.

[X] The mirror…
-{X} Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?

The mirror symbolises wisdom, which is one of the main stats for a mage. Hence the mirror should go to our mage. Even if the sword will be amplified for her to use effectively I just cannot imagine Alice swordfighting her way through anything.

[X] The magatama necklace…
-{X} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

The magatama is a bit of a wild card for me, since I do not know much about those in general. While Youki as our resident Deus-Ex can probably make good use out of all three of the items, the MC and Alice, even with the amplification, may not. And if the magatama works something with spirit and soul then giving it to the one most versed in spiritual matters is the best option for me.

Just my take on this. Opinions, etc.
>> No. 37836
>>37832
>I just cannot imagine Alice swordfighting her way through anything.

The sword does not necessarily mean she'd go hack and slash enemies. Considering Keine would be "attuning" the relics as stated earlier.

Alice could very well turn into a "Rune Knight" where the sword, instead of cutting, actually absorbs magical attacks or magic based assaults. Maybe even learn new spells or techniques in the same manner.

Think of it as a combination of Celes and Strago from FF3/6
>> No. 37838
>>37836
>>37832

Imagine Alice absorbing that Fairy Legion's Laser attack and learning how to duplicate it strength and all, regenerating dolls rather than making them by hand.

awesome
>> No. 37844
[x] The sword…
-{x} Alice will take it. Should her magic not be enough, she'd need some way to defend herself from foes that get too close.

I doubt this Alice would be the kind to hesitate about breaking a nail when getting down to business.

[x] The mirror…
-{x} I'll take it. Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection…

Let's keep up that moon motif.

[x] The magatama necklace…
-[x] Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

I can't really justify this one as anything other than japan.
>> No. 37858
[x] The sword…
-{x} Alice will take it. Should her magic not be enough, she'd need some way to defend herself from foes that get too close.

[x] The mirror…
-{x} I'll take it. Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection…

[x] The magatama necklace…
-[x] Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

>>37838
That does indeed sound awesome.
>> No. 37859
>>37838
>My words were interrupted by a bloodchilling howl, a cacophony of a hundred tormented souls wailing out in unison. The parasitic ball of corpses had still been waiting, lurking behind the door in anticipation of our return, and now it was about to attack that Keine woman..!

>"...Get. Out. Of. My. Way!"

>Another howl, yet this time one of excruciating pain, intermixed with several rapid, loud, wet cracks. I wasn't entirely sure what the hell was going on up there, but somehow it didn't seem as if the parasite was winning... Damn. Seems the woman could still defend herself, even while outside of her beast form.

Yeah, not sure we'll be seeing Fairy Maid Legion again.
>> No. 37866
Alice using that sounds awesome but leaving a melee combatant without a close range weapon is suicidal.
Besides, our MC could use a power boost. Come on, people.
>> No. 37872
>>37866
The whip isn't that poor of a close range weapon, and Alice could do with something to fall back on.
>> No. 37876
Tidal urinating.

[x] The sword…
-{x} Youki will take it. He's the master swordsman here, he'd be able to use it to its full potential.
[x] The mirror…
-{x} Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?
[x] The magatama necklace…
-{x} I'll take it. The green goes well with my… hair, I guess. Plus, I've always been more of a moon-person…

Because it seems more cliche.
>> No. 37881
>>37872
A whip isn't a close range weapon at all and, since Alice doesn't know how to use a sword, it'll end up being a material focus and/or a magical boost... you know, like a mirror.
Just my opinion.
>> No. 37883
>>37881
>Alice doesn't know how to use a sword

How would you know this for sure?
>> No. 37889
>>37881
That doesn't top a Belmont from whipping something point blank.

And with 1999 Julius, I think he'd just punch a monster, and the sheer force would kill the rest.
>> No. 37892
>Alice doesn't know how to use a sword
This is not the normal Alice. It is a harsh and dark world, death is around every corner, and a girl has to know how to defend herself with every means possible. Even the Human population had to adapt to the dangerous surroundings and are tougher. Youkai is probably the strongest, then the MC and Alice. Logical she would benefit the most ouf of it because the Hunter is allround and has many ways to kill or maim enemies. And Youki would most likely prefers to fight with his own swords.
Plus, she has fewer dolls and other supplies so she needs to make up for it in some way.
>Something about it seems to call to me in a strange manner, as I stare into the reflection
This made me curious. Call if cliche but Vampire and Mirrors....
>> No. 37895
Alice's dolls certainly know how to use swords and lances. Of course those could just be haphazard thrusts and swings.

If Alice has ever used a sword, I'd expect her to have some knowledge in fencing, at least. Seems like something an upstanding lady with a bit of time on her hands would learn for discipline or sport.

It's not like you can't just ask her about her skills with one, though.
>> No. 37897
To all those mentioning that Alice has no dolls, remember ZUN's comments on Keine's mirror spell card, more specifically the imitation comment. What more is a puppet than an imitation? She may get infinite dolls, allowing her to fight in a more comfortable position.

ZUN refers to the sword as if it were used to cut grass. Youki is a gardener. And it's not as though he would be opposed to using it in addition to his two swords; he's been looking at these things in awe for a while

As for the jewel... well...
>There's something erotic about the curve of the jewels. Just what you'd expect from a divine artifact.

MC did die by sex once...

>>37752 here, I'm changing my vote to giving the sword to Youki and the magatama to MC, unless this means that Alice gets the sword.

Seriously Anon, Alice + sword = out of character. I understand you guys are trying to justify her as being a toughy, expert in all martial crafts, but it just makes no sense. So what if she can use it to amplify her own magic, not actually using it as a melee weapon but as a magical conduit of sorts, she could easily use the mirror or magatama to that same effect, and Youki and the MC could put the sword to much greater use.
>> No. 37898
>>37897
I see Alice as more of a fencer than a powerhouse broad sword user, though the effects of the Grimoire seem rather nerfed in this, since the implication in the games is that if Alice opens it, she'd end up Extra Stage Tier.

I don't think Youki would have as much use for the sword as the other two.
>> No. 37907
[X] The sword…
-{X} I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.

[X] The mirror…
-{X} Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?

[X] The magatama necklace…
-{X} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

Benevolence fits Youki the most, he went into the mansion to bring peace to the spirit of someone he only knew in passing, and advocated leaving the fairies in the hedge maze alive. Meanwhile, the MC behaves like a mercenary and Alice didn't really care about what her golem was going to be used for. Also, between Alice and the MC, Alice has shown more wisdom while the MC has shown more courage.
>> No. 37919
[X] The sword…
-{X} I'll take it. I need a close-combat weapon after the loss of my daggers, anyway.
[X] The mirror…
-{X} Alice will take it. Maybe the whole sun aspect could amplify the power of those laser beam spells of hers?
[X] The magatama necklace…
-{X} Youki will take it. He's wearing green robes as it is, might as well give him the green jewel too.

The powers of the items depend on the user. I don't think there's a wrong answer.
>> No. 37989
File 127491136367.jpg - (381.09KB , 800x600 , 18597cad8a23db3e86442fa0e88c53f2.jpg ) [iqdb]
37989
Site spontaneously stopped working for me. Had to poke around for help until someone told me how to edit my hosts file.
Odd, worked fine earlier today. Oh well.

-------

Gazing at the items that lay before, I felt each of them calling out to me in their own way… and yet, in the end, I decided to go for practicality above all things. Despite its somewhat aged appearance, the sword would suffice as a decent close-quarters weapon; a whip needs room and distance to be used effectively, which was why I originally had those daggers in the first place. To be fair, I was a bit of a combat pragmatist back in the day, and had had to make do with a variety of different weapons, both actual and makeshift, in situations where I was either disarmed, ambushed, or simply unable to dent whatever foe I was facing with my regular attacks; ranging from decorative swords and axes yanked from wall displays, to furniture and gardening tools, to paper airplanes. And a cream pie on one occasion. Oh, it's easier to kill someone with a pie than it sounds, as long as you're creative about it, believe me. In any case, I grabbed the ornate blade by the hilt, lifting it up and waving it about a bit to test the balance; it felt more like a decorative weapon than one fit for combat, to be frank.

Youki, too, stared intently at the various trinkets that Keine had offered to us, his gaze a lot less skeptical than my own. His eyes seemed to linger on the comma-shaped jewel necklace for a bit, before he, slowly and carefully, as if afraid he could somehow break it, reached out and took it in his hand with the most gentle grip one could muster. Whatever these things were, he certainly revered and respected them, whether for their power or their history. The sword in my hands, too, was probably far more significant than what its appearance would suggest.

Meanwhile, Alice had simply sat back and observed our choices, only joining us once the sword and necklace were taken, leaving behind a rather large bronze mirror, polished to a smooth, reflective surface on one side with various engravings on the other. Considering how huge the thing was, it looked more like a shiny shield than a mirror to me. After eyeing it up and down a few times, and trying to lift it to see how much it weighed (which was when we saw the engravings on the other side), a mild frown spread across Alice's face.

"This is rather… large. It'd be impossible to carry this thing around the mansion and be able to battle the guardians. You've got to be kidding."

"Should've chosen first, then," I smirked at her, still examining the sword and trying to figure out the material it was made from. Youki, still gripping the magatama in his fist, merely sent an annoyed glance in Alice's direction from the corner of his eye, probably thinking her to be ungrateful. On the other hand, Keine didn't seem offended at all, merely nodding at Alice as if in agreement, the smile on her face changing its tone to something I cannot quite describe…

"Of course, in its dormant form, the Yata no Kagami would be far too cumbersome to carry around." The Yata no Kagami… The Eight-Hand Mirror. Ah yes, now I remembered what these things were. I'm not by any means an expert when it comes to Japanese mythology and folklore, but I believed those three artifacts to be the three Sacred Treasures, the Imperial Regalia of Japan – then, the sword I held in my hand would be the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi – the Grass Cutting Sword, similar in significance to Japan as the Excalibur is to Britain. Interesting, although still not particularly helpful in terms of figuring out what those things do.
"Please, if you would place your hand upon it… And you, too, please keep holding on to the objects you chose"

A look of uncertainty in her eyes, Alice hesitated momentarily before touching her hand against the mirror's edge, so as not to dirty the reflective surface. As she did so, and Youki and I held on to the magatama and sword respectively, Keine closed her eyes. Silence overtook the room for a few seconds – a few long, ominous seconds where nothing happened, not even a sound was heard, as if the room and all those inside had been swallowed up into a void, not even the sound of the wind outside or the water dripping from the edges of the roof into muddy puddles were audible anymore. None of us dared even breathe, let alone say anything to interrupt her; especially Alice, who was starting to look rather nervous by then – a look I had barely seen on her face at all since I first met her. And then… Keine opened her eyes yet again.

I had to turn away almost immediately, as I felt I would lose my mind otherwise, as did Youki and Alice. A brilliant, silvery white light shone forth from her eyes, illuminating the room and bathing us in their radiance; looking into her eyes, it was as if I could see forever – the astral debris forming together to shape the planets, the volcanic, molten atmosphere of the young Earth, life forming in the oceans, becoming more complex, crawling onto land and growing, spreading, evolving. The dawn of man, the first civilizations, the first great empires – the Romans, the Mongols, and so on… There was just too much, too much for one human's mind to contain and remember.

And then it stopped, just as suddenly as it had started, the silvery light fading from the room, my eyes temporarily blinded by the sudden contrast until they re-adjusted to the low light of the room. As we turned back to Keine, her eyes were closed again. When she opened them, they had turned back to normal, regular brown eyes, if perhaps still carrying a hint of something supernatural behind them. It was enough to give even me shivers.

Something had changed, though. Briefly glancing down at the blade I had held in my hand, I had to do a double-take - it didn't look like the original longsword at all. Instead, what I held more closely resembled a shorter sword more suitable for stabbing, akin to a Roman gladius or something of the sort. No longer was the blade dull and notched either, appearing as if it had never been used in combat at all – shiny, polished, perfectly sharpened. I simply had to stand up and test it in my hand, swinging and thrusting it through the air of the room once or twice. Perfectly balanced, heavy enough to deliver a serious wound yet somehow a perfect fit for my hand, easy to move, like a part of my own body. Felt good.

Looking over at my companions, Alice appeared to be staring at her item as incredulously as I had just a moment ago myself; what was a large, heavy mirror not two minutes ago (how did Keine carry that thing so easily to begin with?) had now turned into something more closely resembling a medallion of sorts. It even had a cord attached to hang it around the neck with. Otherwise, it looked mostly the same, aside from the bronze not being as dull anymore – a mirror on one side, engravings on the other side. Alice was simply sitting in place, staring at the mirror in her hand, her lips slightly parted in astonishment as she gazed into her own reflection.

As for Youki, the Magatama necklace in his hand had also changed. Instead of one jewel, there were now many, divided at equal distances from one another. The jade stones, shaped like a sphere with a flowing tail, are a common visual representation of the human spirit in Japan, so I could understand why Youki – being a half-ghost, or half-spirit – would have felt drawn to such an item. As he tilted the stones, examining them in the same stunned and silent amazement as Alice and myself, a strange, unnatural silvery glint washed over the stones as the light hit them. This, however, was not what caught my attention the most – each time the stones glinted, a strange, ethereal shape at Youki's side would also glint, briefly becoming partially visible to my eyes before disappearing again. It didn't take me long to guess that it was his ghost half, somehow reacting to the proximity of the magatama.

Well. After we had all finished being amazed by the sudden metamorphosis of our gifts and all that, I decided to be polite and turned back to Keine. Yep, the woman looked perfectly normal again, as long as you consider silver-haired people with colored streaks in the hair wearing odd hats indoors normal.
"Thank you. I'm sure these artifacts will serve us well. We'll take good care of them."

"Y-yes, I'm certain they will…" Regaining her composure, Alice absent-mindedly put the mirror medallion around her neck, taking another glance at it in her hand before letting go of it and turning to face Keine again. Youki had apparently put the magatama necklace around his neck as well, now sitting as calmly and quietly as before. Granted, he'd been pretty quiet the entire time so far.

"Of course." A polite bow of the head, the hat staying in perfect balance.
"Keep in mind, of course, that these items would return to my possession once your mission comes to an end." I would've felt more confident if she had said 'once your mission succeeds', but I wasn't going to complain either.
"Now…" Keine stood up, prompting Alice and Youki to do the same; I was already on my feet from when I tried out the sword.
"…Is there anything else I can do for you before you head back out to the mansion?"

"Ah, well, there is -one- little thing…" A little awkwardly, I walked over to her, earning a curiously raised eyebrow from her, leaning over to her ear to whisper quietly.
"…Do you mind if I use your bathroom?"



Feeling mighty refreshed, and emboldened by our newly-acquired custom-attuned fancy artifacts and whatnot – though Alice still seemed somewhat miffed at not having her dolls – we were set to depart from Keine's house and head back for the mansion. As we stood at the front door of her house, putting our footwear back on, a thought dawned upon me all of a sudden.

"Oh, I did think of one more thing you could help us with… Well, if you can," I suddenly remembered.

"Yes? If there's anything I can do… within reason, of course," she added; somehow, that seemed like a hint that I shouldn't bother asking her to just use her fancy powers, whatever they were, to wipe out the vampire for us. Even so, that courteous and friendly smile never seemed to leave her face. I've seen mothers look at their children with more menacing faces.

"Well, we'd need some way to get back to the island…"

"Ah, yes, the island… Of course." She closed her eyes in that meaningful way again, and I instinctively turned my face away to avoid being blinded, but… no flash of light this time. Hmm.
"…It is done," she said, opening her eyes again, revealing them to be as normal as usual. Well, as usual for a normal person, anyway.
"The peninsula has 'remembered' its original form, it has embraced its history. I will maintain the effect until the end of your mission." Peninsula? Ah, right, I remembered Youki saying something about that earlier when we made that haphazard escape from the island.

"Thank you. Well then, I suppose we'll be off… We appreciate your help, and the information."

"Thank you again," Alice added, having finished roping up her boots and following me out the door, taking care to avoid stepping in the mud puddle I nearly tripped into as I hopped off the porch. I snickered sadistically as some cold water from the earlier rain dripped off the edge of the roof above us right down the somewhat exposed back of her dress, provoking a surprised and very girly yelp from her. A swift elbow in my side and a mildly annoyed glance of a pair of green eyes promptly shut me up before I could say anything, though.

"Of course. Safe journey to you. I hope your mission will end in a satisfactory manner for everyone." There she went, being all cryptic and avoiding a good old fashion 'hope you win', or 'good luck'. Ah well. With one last wave, I turned around and started the march back in the general direction of the Scarlet Devil's manor, intending to finish this once and for all. Just one more key to obtain, one last set of obstacles to bypass, one last stretch of hoops to jump through for the vampire's entertainment, and I'd finally be able to feel her spine snap, crackle and pop in my hands as I tear her head off-…

"Hey, where'd Youki go?" Roused from my violent daydreams (well, not really, it was still the middle of the night), I glanced around for our green-wearing swordsman, but he was nowhere in sight. We turned around to see him still by the house, standing at the open door and apparently talking to Keine about something. They were too far to be heard, yet one could guess at the tone of the conversation by looking at them… well, sort of. Whereas Keine looked perfectly relaxed, speaking in a calm and kind manner to the guy, Youki had that strange look of uncertainty and confusion on his face that I hadn't seen before until Keine first talked to him as we first arrived at her house.

Indeed, they were probably talking about when it was that they last met. Was Youki beginning to go senile? Funny, as much as I liked to think of him as an annoying geezer in my head, I never seriously considered him to be -that- old… Well, in half-ghost years, anyway. Supernatural-types tend to default to a longer lifespan than humans, for some reason that is not quite understood just yet; very, very few of them have a shorter lifespan. A popular theory was that this was also the reason why humans had advanced so rapidly in technology and the like, whereas supernatural creatures had stagnated, showing less interest in such advancements. Our short lifespan naturally drives us to try to accomplish more in the short time we are given, compared to the lifestyle of the various creatures out there that let millennia pass them by as if they were little more than lazy days.

Or something like that, I dunno.

"Youki! Come on, you're the one who said we don't have time to waste!" Apparently Alice was getting frustrated by now, yelling to the swordsman to hurry the hell up, and waving at him aggressively. He sent a glance our way, before turning back to Keine and muttering a few quick last words, taking a polite bow and rushing after us. To his credit, the guy was fast as hell, by our side again in just a few strides. I'd ask him about what they talked about later, if I felt like prying.

"…Had you simply kept walking, I would have caught up to you and we would have wasted no time at all." Arrogant as always, huh.

"Good to have you back with us," I said to him with a slight hint of venom in my voice, nearly mirroring Alice's rolling of her eyes, which Youki chose not to pay attention to. Deciding not to start bickering at every step, I simply motioned for the two to follow me as I lead them back out of the village, along the path headed into the forest. If we could've afforded the delay, I'd have liked to at least take a detour and head to Kourindou for some extra supplies, but Youki's earlier point stood strong – each minute we wasted was another minute for the vampire to amass greater hordes of defenses against us. Just because the resistance in the mansion had been strangely light so far didn't mean it wouldn't get serious once we opened that door to the inner sanctum, right?

So, off into the forest we went. With how many times the distance between the village and the lake had been trod by several people that night, we didn't even need the map anymore – we could just follow the tracks where we had stomped through the grass earlier. The fireflies that were starting to gather were mildly distracting, although also a charming sight in the otherwise near-blackness of the forest whenever the moon was not visible from between the trees. Little yellow lights, dancing about in the dark around us, providing us with some entertainment during the long, dull walk back to the edge of the lake…

Except, Alice didn't seem all too entertained, shifty eyes hastily looking left and right, keeping an eye on the fireflies that surrounded us… as if she were expecting them to attack us or something.

"…Alice? You okay?"

"We're being watched," was her reply, quiet and blunt.

"…What, by the fireflies? But they're harmle-…"

"Harmless? No, not these. Trust me, I've lived in this forest for a long time now." Youki didn't seem to notice our whispering. Stunned into silence, I kept walking alongside Alice for a short while, now becoming somewhat concerned myself, looking to our sides. The fireflies were gathering, becoming more numerous… Normally, I'd have found that to be a pleasant sight, but Alice's words had made me somewhat paranoid. She didn't seem the type to be playing practical jokes on people. The sound of crickets in the forest suddenly became less ambient and more intimidating, too. I couldn't recall the last time when what seemed like ordinary insects had triggered my danger senses.
"…There's something else out there."

"Something else? But wha-…"

"I suggest we run." She sounded serious, too.

Just then, I swore I saw a pair of glowing green eyes in the trees above us, but when I tried to focus on them, they were gone again.



[] "Well, if there's something else out there… it'd be a good opportunity to try out these weapons we got."
[] "You're right. Let's get out of here."
>> No. 37991
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."

Rather not waste energy outside the mansion.
>> No. 37992
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."
Time is of the essence, if you'd pardon the cliché.
>> No. 37995
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."

Wasn't expecting more out of Team 9 than Rumia.
>> No. 37996
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."
>> No. 37997
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlvaAB8Dhx4
>> No. 37999
>To be fair, I was a bit of a combat pragmatist back in the day, and had had to make do with a variety of different weapons, both actual and makeshift, in situations where I was either disarmed, ambushed, or simply unable to dent whatever foe I was facing with my regular attacks; ranging from decorative swords and axes yanked from wall displays, to furniture and gardening tools, to paper airplanes. And a cream pie on one occasion. Oh, it's easier to kill someone with a pie than it sounds, as long as you're creative about it, believe me.

Nice PoR reference.
>> No. 38009
[x] "Well, if there's something else out there… it'd be a good opportunity to try out these weapons we got."

Why waste the chance to try them out in combat OUTSIDE of the mansion? Seems more risky to wait until deep within the enemy's sanctum to try them out.
>> No. 38011
>>38009
wasting stamina and time better spent in the mansion. There's no exp given so there's no real point in fighting for the sake of it.
>> No. 38012
[Q] "Well, if there's something else out there… it'd be a good opportunity to try out these weapons we got."

We have damn new weapons, we will damn well use them.
>> No. 38014
[x]Well, if there's something else out there… it'd be a good opportunity to try out these weapons we got

Might as well give them a test.

Also, I love the interactions between Alice and the Hunter.
>> No. 38017
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."
The fights will get harder and more numerous at this point. Better not waste it before we even arrive.
>> No. 38019
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."
The fights will get harder and more numerous at this point. Better not waste it before we even arrive.

>>37997

Never ceases to amaze this anon how sometimes the simplest of bosses could easily trounce the player in the Castlevania series.
>> No. 38020
Another thing is a lack of ways to restore Hp/Mp after a fight. The closest thing to that was the food and rest Remilia gave the two. Now if there was EXP and ways to recover Hp/Mp I'd be more willing to fight more than what's necessary. And we can't underestimate Wriggle, look how Meiling turned out. (THE GODDAMN TERMINATOR!)
>> No. 38079
Surprise work tomorrow, have to wake up at ~5:30 AM, no writing tonight. And maybe tomorrow too, depending on how rough work is.

Update on Saturday at the very latest unless there's any more surprises.
>> No. 38112
>>38079
Can't be farm work.
>> No. 38181
[x] "Well, if there's something else out there… it'd be a good opportunity to try out these weapons we got."
>> No. 38184
[x] "You're right. Let's get out of here."
>> No. 38487
File 127563400187.jpg - (332.35KB , 635x790 , BOO.jpg ) [iqdb]
38487
>>38079

...Surprise?
>> No. 38554
File 127579483458.png - (486.81KB , 1000x900 , 25b3581e8fc0738a39d29931e3bc3670.png ) [iqdb]
38554
>>38487
is canceled
>> No. 38723
If you read this Taisa, make a new thread, this one hit auto-sage.
>> No. 38729
File 127620949128.jpg - (322.97KB , 1236x2002 , dfa2245d3ef90e57cc5fcfa93bfb48d9.jpg ) [iqdb]
38729
The Mistress does not like to be kept waiting.
>> No. 39441
We miss you, Taisa...
>> No. 40223
>>40222