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"Hey. Hey." You say, catching the thing's attention. "Someone I know's upset because of a bunch of flowers getting eaten, so. Say you have a nice field of flowers. Or whatever, corn or wheat, but we'll go with flowers now. But then these other Yukkuri come, and they eat the flowers and tear up all the dirt everywhere. What do you do?"
Its eyes flash, seeming to shift color to a more menacing shade of red.
"... Yukkuri that tear up Yuka's field are bad Yukkuri." She says sweetly. "Yuka would squish them."
"Sounds fair." You say.
"Then, once squished, Yuka would bite them, and Yuka would pull them into many pieces, and Yuka would bury the pieces in the dirt to feed the growing of new mister flowers." She continues, still in the same sweet tone.
"... yeah, okay." You say awkwardly. "Can't say I didn't see that coming, but yeah. Right. So what was that price again, Kourin?"
"You're actually buying something?" Kourin asks, and names a price.
"Ha, well, that does seem t'be re'sonable, lad." Kuro says.
"Ah, sorry. That number is the price for a youngling. That much each. The cost of the mother is rather more substantial." Kourin continued, then named a price about five times as high.
"... Ye what now, lad?" Kuro said blankly.
"Well, you understand, the mother is still of breeding age, which the children haven't reached yet, so it's not impossible that she can bear numerous more children, while you would have to wait and risk accidental death in the meantime with the young. In addition, restoring her to full health following the encounter took valuable time and effort on my part. Really, I think the amount is only reasonable."
"Ye c'n pay for a fine yearlin' mule wi' that much, laddie!" Kuro blustered.
"Well yeah, but while a mule might kill invading pests sometimes, you can't let it in your vegetables and be sure it won't eat or smash them all either." You point out. "Seems fair to me. I'd pay that much, anyway."
"Now, ye won't be trickin' old Kuro lass. I'm knowin' full well that ye be in cahoots with this'n." The farmer says reprovingly.
"Hey, hey now." You reply. "That hurts. But really, you see what I'm wearing? This is a scarlet mansion uniform. One thing led to another, and I'm stuck working there and wearing this for a little longer, otherwise I'd be in my normal dress and hat. And I'm not lying either, their flowers really did get torn up a bit ago and the gatekeeper's after something slightly more reliable than fairies to keep things out. Top of that, Patchy's got a bunch of Yukkuri in the library that she's training and running experiments on. It's not for me, but I'll totally buy this thing. With their money. They'll thank me later, probably."
"Harrumph." The old man grumbles, as Kourin chuckles. Then names a price just a little higher.
"That's a nice offer, old man. I think the Scarlet accounts can stretch a little further than that, though." You say, and name a number just a handful of silvers higher. The old man gives you a glower, then snorts.
"Aye. Aye, p'rhap they c'n, a'that." He admits. "An' ye'll not fool ol' Kuro int' no biddin' war neither. Have the hoppin' head, lass, 'tis all your'n. An' ye said tha' the young'n's'll be runnin' ol' Kuro for what now, laddie?"
Kourin repeats the number, then adds it together for the farmer. Kuro nods, then spills a number of coins out of a sack at his side, counting them out and putting some back in, and shoving the rest across the counter. Kourin nods, putting the money away, and retreats to the back for a minute before returning with a cage with four smaller Yuka in it, and sets it on the counter for Kuro to take.
"Babies be good." Yuka says. "Mister is going to take you to an easy place with lots of crops for you to tend."
"An' four mouths do seem as they'll be eatin' weeds faster'n the one, e'en if'n they can' hold's much inside." Kuro points out.
"They grow quickly." Kourin replies. "Another two weeks or thereabouts, and they'll be fully mature, and I could have gotten close to this one's price for any one of them. You've gotten a bargain, old man Kuro."
"Aye... they ain't gon' be droppin' dead on me inna han'ful o' months now, right lad?" Kuro says, suddenly looking a little worried.
"Not at all." Kourin assures him. "They reproduce and grow swiftly, but as yet I don't believe that there's an upper limit known to how old they can grow. In the wild, they tend to die off rapidly from predation or accidents, while in captivity they tend to die off rapidly from predation or, again, accidents. I had a Patchouli once for a span of a few years, and she was in perfect health when she accidentally pulled a heavy ledger down on top of herself and was crushed. I can't guarantee accuracy of a secondhand accounts which says that one in captivity lived for an excess of twenty years before its owner died of illness and it simply stopped accepting food and starved to death, but I can assure you that provided no accidents occur they should be good for several years. I suppose if it would assure you, I can offer you a return of your money if they should die from age or accident in the next, say, month?"
"Aye, I'd appreciate th' thought lad, but yer face's tellin' me how much ye're doubtin' you'll have to pay up on tha'. 'Twill be fine as-is."
"Very good. A pleasure doing business with you." Kourin says, bowing slightly as Kuro leaves the shop. He then sighs and turns an amused look your way.
"And you? Should I write up an invoice for the Scarlet Mansion, or are you just trying out a change of wardrobe?" He asks.
"You really think I'd tell you if I was, Kourin?" You reply. "But yeah, one thing and another. I'll be back to normal things in less than a week, though. And I'm actually here to see if you have some things in stock. Patchy wants literacy primer books, I guess for what she's doing with the flock of these things in the library. Teaching them to read and write, I think."
"Really? Patchouli is keeping Patchouli?" He asks. "They don't write well with their mouths, though, but they're useful enough to have review transactions for errors, once they've figured out what the numbers mean."
"Oh writing shouldn't be a problem, some have hands." You say flippantly.
"... Really, now?" He asks, in sudden interest. "That's particularly unusual. It's noted sometimes in captive ones, but I'm fairly sure that in the wild they get immediately cast out at birth, like any other 'defective' birth. Well, aside from Remilia and Flandre, in any case. It's actually pretty common to see bodied types of those, when they're found, more than even the blob-type."
"Hey, I don't know." You say. "Don't think Patchy knows everything either. Overheard one of her experiments is to figure out something about bodied types and blob types, how many of which show up through breeding with different ones. Or something. It doesn't really catch my interest, so I didn't pay much attention."
"Well, come in back, we'll see if I can't find some primers in my stock. There should be most of a crate full. I don't suppose that miss Knowledge would be willing to sell a bodied type Patchouli, by any chance? Things have gotten a little out of hand since mine died, and a body would make such incidents less likely, as she wouldn't be pulling books off tables with her mouth."
"Don't think so, but you'd have to ask her about it." You say. "It's her pet project, after all. Hey, just put all this stuff together, okay? I'm not heading back until later this evening, I'll swing by and pick it up on the way. Or have you send it off around then, or haul it yourself."
"Certainly." Kourin says, as your eyes pass over the room. Lots of boxes, of course. On one side, cages with varying degrees of rust hold a number of vaguely traumatized looking Reimu yu's, as well as a similar amount of ones that look like you. There's also a paler one... it looks like that netherworld sword-user, actually. Huh.
"Hey, what's that one?" You ask.
Kourin looks, and winces.
"Oh, that one." He says quietly. "It-"
"DICK!" It yells eagerly. "Bring Myon food quickly, you dick! Do it fast, and bring lots, and Myon will reward you by letting you eat her shit!"
"It's a Myon." He continues, pretending he hasn't heard. "Miss Konpaku brings them in sometimes to sell. It seems she finds it disturbing to watch her mistress eat things that look like her. But as they're filled with chocolate, there's not much she can do except move them somewhere else before she notices them. This one is unruly, but I keep it because it excretes chocolate. I can blindfold it and feed it trash, and it'll convert it to pure white chocolate. It's annoying, but that makes it worth keeping, to a point. Also, I've discovered that they can't tell the difference between normal food products and their excretions. If you take them away and wait an hour, then return them, they'll eat it happily. You have to use a different tray or towel to bring it in, though, because they can catch on if you bring it in the same pail they shit into."
Kourin has entered lecturer mode, you reflect as you start to zone out. How annoying.
"So these things show up in the afterlife, too?" You say, trying to change the subject.
"Yes, actually. Well, too a degree. Here, I'll show you."
You don't care.
"Let me just turn this chalkboard over and draw a map..."
You really don't care. It doesn't look like you'll avoid this, though. You'll have to at least pretend to be paying attention. What a pain. Kourin scribbles out a crude map of Gensokyo and draws four circles around it.
"Yukkuri show up based on both prominence of the person they look like, and a certain range from areas they are located, it seems." He says. "You and Reimu, for example, are fairly well known, you travel all over, and Reimu doesn't leave the shrine much but she's known to go anywhere in Gensokyo if it's needed. So your types can show up, well, pretty much anywhere, in addition to being the most common. Alice and Remilia types aren't quite as common, being of a secondary and less known imitation, though still reasonably well known, but they tend to be serial rapists and are predators, respectively. This means that they move around a lot, in both cases, for hunting purposes. As such, they both are also found nearly everywhere in Gensokyo. By contrast, I'll draw a few areas around the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Flandre are also hunters, so they have a much wider range as you see here, but not so wide as Remilia, possibly because there's little known about her at all. By contrast, you see how Sakuya, Meiling, and Patchouli types are all centered but have a much closer radius? There's none found within the walls, for long at least, unless they are supposed to be there, but aside from that the closer to the mansion itself, the more there are, and the circle marking that radius is the outer limit of where they can reasonably be expected to be found. There are outliers that live outside of this radius, but these are very rare and are usually domestic pets of some kind with no choice in the matter of where they live. If given a choice, they seem to migrate towards the general area where their namesake resides."
Don't care. What a pain. You couldn't have just said 'Patchouli generally live around where the real Patchouli does', Kourin? He seems to grasp your indifference to the subject, and shrugs, setting down the chalk after drawing a few more quick circles.
"... So as you can see, a Keine-type could only reasonably be found here, within this circle and relatively near the village, though it's fairly wide of a radius, while these territories are centered around Mayohiga and Hakugyokuro. Myons are the larger one here, while Yuyuko-types are much rarer and only show up here. There's still some overlap with Yukari-types, here, and in a wider and wider still range, Ran and Chen types, but not much. In any case, there seems to be some link between the understood power level or hierarchy of the imitated person and the rarity level of the Yukkuri. I see you don't really care, though, so I'll move on. In any case, I have almost a full crate of these. How many did you say you need?"
"Eh, I dunno." You say. "Probably at least one for each of them, and there's like... a dozen? Wasn't paying attention. About that. Maybe get two dozen so I don't have to come back right away if her experimenting gets her more that she feels like keeping."
"It's not like it's your money you're paying with, after all. No harm in over-estimating." Kourin agrees. "That's two dozen then, and the Yuka. You wouldn't know if miss Knowledge might be interested in the Myon, would you? I enjoy the chocolate, but it does get grating after a while. I'd not mind selling it, and seeing if I could buy one with a calmer personality that she doesn't want, from the testing."
"Dunno, like I said, not my pet project." You say. "You'll have to talk to her. You haven't tried gagging it?"
"It's managed to chew through and eat everything I use, eventually." Kourin says. "I could melt its mouth shut, but then it couldn't eat, wouldn't produce waste-chocolate, and would die of starvation. It's really annoying. I don't give it very long before I crack and just cut my losses, kill it, and satisfy myself with a more limited supply until miss Konpaku brings another one in."
"Mister's dick is too tiny to face Youmu in combat." It jeers from the cage.
"Maybe two weeks, if that." Kourin says.
"Right, sure, I guess I'll bring it up." You say. "Anything special about it?"
"Aside from the chocolate? They seem able to manipulate weapons instinctively in their mouths, similar to swordplay. It's only a little annoying if they just have a stick, but it can be a little dangerous if they get ahold of a knife somehow. They'd probably carry this over into something like actual instinctual sword-wielding if they had bodies, or something like that. It's an interesting enough thought to make me willing to sell it, if she'll use it for that study."
"Not really my call." You say. "Again, not my thing going on. But like I said, I'll mention it. Anyway, do you think you could get this thing possessing the Hakkero out of it?"
"Possession? Let me see." He asks, and you remove the box from a pocket and hand it over for inspection.
"Patchouli put this thing in it. It yells when I try to borrow things. Incredibly annoying."
"Hm... it's not a possession, then, but an 'infusion' of a willing spirit or being." He says, with some thought. "The first, you could go to Reimu and have an exorcism done. The second, there's not much to be done, either the entity inside has to decide to leave, or Patchouli herself has to dispel it."
"Alright, so I should be as annoying as possible, until it cant bear it any more and goes away?" You ask.
"Not likely. It'll probably get more stubborn the more you act out, from what it's saying now." Kourin says. "It seems like its intent, and hers, is to teach you some moral lesson about theft, in the hopes that you'll stop."
"It's borrowing, borrowing." You say. "Geeze. People can just come take their stuff back, or get it back when I die. It's not that hard to understand."
"You don't intend to voluntarily return anything on your own, though."
"Well, no. That would be boring." You point out.
"Well, good luck with this infused spirit." He says, handing the Hakkero back. "I can always make another Hakkero if it gets to be too much to deal with, but I don't really have the special metal to plate it with any more, you'd have to be satisfied with simple iron. It looks like if it's willing to work with you, you should be able to put more power into your Sparks, though."
"Oh, and so if I piss it off enough, I won't be able to spark at all." You say, catching on to the opposite side of that coin straight away. "Well damn. This'll be fun."
"Was there anything else you wanted? I have a few things in stock. No magical tomes for sale, of course, but I have a brass pocketwatch i found hanging from a tree branch in the forest, and a few other trinkets you might be interested in. I know you like taking things apart."
Those do sound neat. You don't really have any money on you though, and if you just borrow them and leave the thing in the Hakkero will yell at you for hours. In any case, either way, next stop on your list is likely going to be your house, if you're going to go look for dinosaurs after all. You left your broom there, and you'll probably need it, either for flying or to hit things with.
[ ] What do you do?