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File 13342868929.png - (563.00KB, 700x690, Seiga~.png) [iqdb]
34419 No. 34419
Well, this would have been accompanied by a pic of Kurumi since she's the only other person near Wade, but for some inexplicable reason there's no pics of said vampiress on Danbooru at all. There's two pages out of a doujin where she's tagged, but come on.

Instead, you get a Seiga. Yes, just like in the first thread of the first run, it is foreshadowing. This time, however, it is in fact quite relevant.

Anywho, as far as the fragments go, it does seem like the voters go for the more exotic weapons rather than the conventional ones. A simple longsword could work, but since Wade currently exists as a bunch of metaphysical manifestations, it's more fun to just think up and use the most powerful weapon you can.

---

A lot of weapons come to mind, all in different shapes, forms, powers, and functions. I briefly entertain the idea of using the Gates of Babylon, but I don't really have the sheer arsenal required to pull it off worth a damn. On the flip side, it is an idea for later, so I decide to store it in the back of my mind in the event that I have a lot of weapons and no time to use any one in particular.

It takes a couple seconds more, but I do eventually settle on one weapon in particular: Gae Bolg. Kurumi's still trying to tank the various stones being flung her way, but I'm pretty sure I have enough time to manifest this particular weapon before her shield fails completely. Closing my eyes, I focus on the same feeling I felt back when I acquired the cap for the first time. The familiar wall of desires overlays itself over the black, and a few of the smaller desires move to my open hand. I clench down on them, feeling a smooth bone shaft form in my hand, changing its size and weight according to what would be ideal for someone my size to wield, be it for melee or simple throwing. I'm not sure how well this is going to work, but eh. I'm not going to be picky about something that's going to keep me as I am.

I open my eyes so I can take a good look at the instrument of death in my hand. Funnily enough, it's solid black rather than the red or white I was expecting. The spear tip itself... Er, spear tips... are arranged in the vague shape of a spear tip and almost look as though they can't wait to impale something. I can't really complain about the result though, since that means I can actually fight. I'm not so sure I should throw this though, so it's time to get in close.

...Yeah. Get in close against a fragment that's made it plain and clear that it's a beast in close quarters combat. That's a smart move. Still, it's better than no move at all. The fragment ought to be more focused on me than the vampiress, so if I drop through the shield...

"Where are you going?!" The first thing I hear is the voice of my concerned friend right next to me. Kurumi's arms had wrapped around me in that same instant, so my idea of engaging my other self in melee combat's shot to hell. "You can't get close to it, it'll just trap you like it did that other weird fragment!"

"What am I supposed to do then?" I can't help but feel annoyed that she chose to restrain me, yet at the same time I'm glad she's willing to stop me in the event I'm about to do something really stupid.

She has to think about that one for a second. Unless I'm massively mistaken, she actually is straining against the constant barrage being thrown her way. However, she takes one look at my spear and comes to a conclusion. "Just throw it!"

Well, if it has the same properties as the real thing, it should be a perfect throwing weapon. Problem is, will a weapon I made overpower a constant stream of boulders? ...Screw it. I heft the weapon up in one hand, only to find that my friend has gripped it just behind where my hand is. I was about to ask her why she was doing that when the thought struck me: Wouldn't a youkai be able to throw harder than a human? She seems to be thinking along the same lines since she's pulling her arm back in preparation. I let my arm mimic the motion, and feel an odd sense of satisfaction as the weapon leaves our hands to strike at 'Sentinel's heart.

The black spear does an impressive job at shattering the assault launched against it, leaving naught but a stream of small, broken rocks in its wake as the fragment pulls up an ever more desperate defense to intercept the weapon that would end it. I'm certainly impressed by the sheer amount of earth it's displacing just to hit its target.

Eventually the fragment does luck out with the last earth wall it threw up in its defense... Sort of. The thing about Gae Bolg is that it always hits its target no matter what, and will accomplish this feat by any means necessary. For someone more powerful than myself, this might mean going so far as to manipulate casualty to land the hit, but I'm the one who generated it and both Kurumi and I threw it. Does that mean it failed in its task? Nope. I couldn't tell from where I was at the time, but the spearheads broke through just before it stopped, not to mention that it was pretty close to the fragment itself.

Another part of the legend is that Gae Bolg killed its target by embedding itself in said target's body and growing countless barbs to shred the poor sap from the inside. Normally this would only activate after the spear hit its target, but since it's been stopped and I can't get in close enough to retrieve it for another throw, the weapon decided to activate that function a little early. The central spearhead went right for the fragment's heart while the remaining six arced off in various directions, impacting the earth in various locations before producing countless directionless offshoots.

'Sentinel' wasn't quick enough to avoid the spearhead aiming right for its heart, but it was fast enough to raise its arm to block the hit. The problem? The barbs were tearing its arm up from the inside. Little flecks of ghastly white began to fall off its arm as it tried to simply detach the afflicted limb in some desperate attempt to free itself.

It did succeed in that endeavor, but the problem was greater than it anticipated. While it was dealing with the spearhead attacking it directly, the rest of the barbs were gunning for it, closing in from every direction to impale it and end the fight. Earth and wind alike were used to knock aside the countless barbs homing in on it, but it didn't seem to get that my desire to see it turned back into a fragment I'm capable of absorbing was greater than its desire to live. The end result? 'Sentinel' being riddled with barbs to the point where it looked more like a one-armed armored pincushion than a fearsome foe.

---

Not done with this yet...
Expand all images
>> No. 34420
>it's more fun to just think up and use the most powerful weapon you can.

Here we go again.
>> No. 34423
>it's more fun to just think up and use the most powerful weapon you can.

This is the first run went wrong, in my opinion. At least we're not transforming into spaceships this time.

I'd recommend some limitation on making stuff. A spear with the ability to automatically kill the target should require way more mana/desires/willpower/whatever's fueling our abilities than say, a sword that works better against dragons or something like that.
>> No. 34424
>A spear with the ability to automatically kill the target should require way more mana/desires/willpower/whatever's fueling our abilities

Well, this spear was really underpowered compared to the original, really an imperfect copy.
I think he killed the fragment because the strenght of Kurumi, sheer luck and the fact that the fragment never bothered to move away from the earth barrier.

> but the spearheads broke through just before it stopped, not to mention that it was pretty close to the fragment itself.
>'Sentinel' wasn't quick enough to avoid the spearhead aiming right for its heart.
See? Nowhere near the hax level you are suggesting. (turning into a spaceship? really? I need to read the first run then)

>A simple longsword could work.
Now I feel silly.
>> No. 34427
>>34423
A sword that works better against dragons? In the setting where Dragons are the capital G God?

Furthermore, the spear is not really even that good compared to the original. It does not bend the laws of casualty and can only never miss and burst into barbs. Frankly, any high-tier touhou can beat us up currently.
>> No. 34428
>Furthermore, the spear is not really even that good compared to the original. It does not bend the laws of casualty and can only never miss and burst into barbs.

That's because we got the mythical Celtic Gae Bolg (aka the original), not the Nasuverse version. Though this one seems like it might be slightly better than the original; the original had to be boiled in blood to make the barbs retract after every single use.)
>> No. 34430
>>34427
Okay, yeah, bad example. It was meant to be an effect with specific applications. Replace dragon with the fantasy species you prefer, then.

>>34428
>can only never miss
No matter how it never missing comes about, this is an insanely useful attribute, especially if it subsequently fills the target's body with thorns.
>> No. 34431
How about we just go with a gun. I think we should just go with a simple gun.
>> No. 34436
File 13344475166.jpg - (151.40KB, 1000x711, What kind of gun.jpg) [iqdb]
34436
>>34431
>simple gun
What kind of gun? A pistol? A revolver? A rifle? An assault rifle? A machinegun? A heavy machinegun? A shotgun? A blunderbuss? An arquebus? A musket? A carbine?
>> No. 34438
File 13344502864.jpg - (75.31KB, 1072x1074, What kind of bullet.jpg) [iqdb]
34438
>>34431
And what kind of bullet? Full Metal Jacket (sounds badass)? Expanding bullet? Explosive bullet? Incendiary ammo? Slug? Shell? Dragon's Breath(sounds badass too)? Soft point bullet? Hollow point bullet? Blended-metal bullet? Dirty Harry round (damn that one sounds badass too)?
>> No. 34439
>>34436
>>34438
Something that WONT make this run the exact fucking same as last runs Mary Sue.

The .44 Magnum is a pretty sexy gun though.
>> No. 34440
File 133451281573.jpg - (13.63KB, 370x228, auger-mk-ii.jpg) [iqdb]
34440
>>34431
If it boils down to a gun I'd keep with the Auger from Resistance because I like that goddamm gun, but a reliable assault rifle, or a pair of .45 cal handguns would be fine too.
>> No. 34442
Use a gun that shoots danmaku. PC-98 style danmaku if there was a difference after the spell card rule was introduced.

Do this even if it's some other kind of gun. Because everyone fights with danmaku in Gensokyo, no exceptions.
>> No. 34443
I'm still sticking with the GN Blade III just for the number of uses it has.
>> No. 34444
Arondight. Completely indestructible, buffs every stat, boosts defense straight through the roof...

No hax. No sword lasers, no causality warping bullshit instakills, no army-summoning- just a really, really good sword.

Get Arondight.
>> No. 34452
>>34424

You've got it right. Wade would not have had the strength to make his fake punch through that much earth, and if it had not the attack would have failed completely. As for luck, that's not the case so much as it was 'Sentinel' simply not knowing what the spear was actually capable of. Also, the Gae Bolg Wade generated lacks the 'always hit' attribute, so it's not exactly what anyone would call broken.

---

'Sentinel' is down, impaled upon countless barbs from a spear that's probably going to be a complete and utter pain in the ass to actually take back down. 'Killer's still up, but he's still stuck in the earth even without the former of the two fragments keeping him there. Reimu's still off wherever taking down the third fragment that's been harassing us. The earth looks like someone decided to be the chucklefuck in Sim City who likes to spam the earthquake button, so it's annoying to traverse.

Sad part is, it could have been worse.

"I guess that's that for now." Kurumi drifts down to one of the few stable, flat spots on the ground before dropping her shield and letting me go. Granted, she may not want to do that last bit, but I kinda do need to be able to actually retrieve the fragments we just beat up.

"Sort of. There's still the other fragment to take out." I point out the flailing legs poking out of the earth as I hop over to them. "Better to take it out now before it either gets away or finds a way to unbury itsel-"

In that instant, the fragment turned translucent, sank into the earth, then proceeded to uppercut me before I could so much as leap back. It immediately followed up with a couple explosive rounds to the chest, though it seemed to not want to test whether it could actually ignore the vampiress' laser barrage. "That... was annoying as all hell." The voice coming from it sounds like mine, but it's not exactly what I'd call natural. It seems rather robotic in all honesty. "So are you, for that matter." It leveled its arm with the vampiress, firing off a few retaliatory bolts while I pick myself up off the ground.

Roll once, arms on the ground and push. Legs underneath... Just in time to watch my lady friend get blasted a couple times. She's not really bothered by it even though it looks like this fragment's gone into what I can only assume is Trance Mode, so I think it's safe enough to leave it to her while I sort the other fragment out. It's not at all difficult to stand or anything, but I do note that the uppercut must have involved some kind of bladed weapon as I now have a rather nasty vertical gash on my neck and face, something that would have been lethal or very close to it had I been human. ...I'm bleeding? Well, as close to bleeding as I can get, but the fact that faint bits of blue-white particles are floating out of the wound seems to be pretty close to what one would call bleeding.

Of course, it's a good thing that I can technically kill me without screwing myself over, because I'd be in trouble if I got my way and that wasn't the case. I break off into a run toward the thorny mass that is the Gae Bolg I threw, and... Immediately discard the idea of plowing through the thorns as stupid because there's no way I can get through all that without being torn all to hell myself. Instead, I get to the actual spear and try to dismiss it. It does start to fade back into the component desires that formed it, but it's going to take some time before I can actually get to 'Sentinel' and absorb it fully.

This means that Kurumi and I are going to have to play another stall game, this time against an enemy that may or may not be able to ignore our attacks and fire through our defenses thanks to some cock-eyed technique that all my non-merged fragments can apparently pull. On the flip side, 'Killer' looks about as interested in testing his supposed ability to curbstomp as I am in dealing with it.

...At least, that's what I thought. Apparently he did get far enough inside the vampiress' guard to grab her legs and actively use her as a bludgeon should he ever get within striking range. She's still shooting lasers and bullets directly at him, but she can't exactly aim well when its constantly flinging her around! To her credit, she is pounding the ever-loving crap out of the fragment, the problem is that she's missing more than she's hitting, and it seems desperate enough to where it doesn't care so long as it can beat me and restore itself with a few fragments.

Annoyingly enough, it actually does have the upper hand here. It's not using any explosives for some reason, but it's got a tough bludgeon to work with and good enough mobility to where the terrain doesn't matter. I, on the other hand, am trying my hardest to avoid falling over right now. I am getting the odd burst of flame in every now and again, but I can't torch this guy much without hitting Kurumi. ...There's a good chance that it doesn't even matter and that she can easily shrug it off, but it's in the principle of the thing.

"Enough with the wing flapping already!" It's kind of like a hostage situation: You want to take out the bad guy without hurting the victim, but you have the capacity to select who you harm with whatever attack you use.

"Then let me go!" Another swing that I barely duck under, and a swift fire punch that almost knocks it down. ...As I was saying. You can shoot at the kidnapper without touching the victim, but how well would the victim take it?

"Fine then, here, have your girlfriend back!" And I don't dodge that one. It throws Kurumi at me, knocking us both into the wall of earth that used to have Gae Bolg embedded in it, followed up by a drop kick to her middle that smashes us both through it. Did I mention that even though I had a rather attractive cushion shielding me from the blow, it still hurts to get hit like that? Now I have.

Of course, it's not like it knocked us into the fragment we took out either. Instead of continuing this fight, it decided to just leap over us both while we're still recovering and tear at the last few barbs keeping us fragments from getting at the convenient power-up that's inside the thorn cage. It still hasn't quite gotten through, but it seems to have gotten an idea of its own. It tears its own arm off, the one that fired the explosive slugs, and formed a... "You have got to be kidding me."

It used one arm to give itself enough base material to create a Gae Bolg of its own. It twirls the black bone weapon in its hand one, lines up a good shot at us, and throws.

The situation is slightly different though, as we don't have a few hundred pounds of earth to hide behind so we can escape, yet at the same time the vampiress and I already know what that weapon will do should it ever get hit, so we can use the brief moment in time before it hits us to avoid it. And by avoid it, I mean Kurumi grabs me again and flies out of the way. Unlike my attempt at the weapon, it does seem to have at least a limited homing capacity and veers around to continue the chase.

It's also just as resilient since it seems to be able to take every last bullet and fire burst we can throw at it, and before I know it the spear's... Impacted Kurumi's spell shield. I thought she dropped that! It does stop the weapon, but not the barbs making it harder for her to see anything around the two of us, but hey. The fragment just gave us a weapon.
>> No. 34470
Eeeeh... Almost a month. Good lord, it's a pain to kick myself in the rear hard enough to write this.

Though part of this delay had to do with SoPM, since I wanted to see if there was anything interesting about the TD crew. There was, and some of it will be implemented.

---

Kurumi keeps hold of me as she dives forward toward the weakened fragment, intent on using the thorn cage around us as a weapon to tear up 'Killer' before it can try anything else. There is just enough distance between us for it to change its spare arm into what looks like a mini rocket launcher, and it is once again blasting at the shield, but she's not stopping for something like that. I can't tell if it's because it's weakened from turning part of itself into a weapon or because none of my fragments were ever a match for a youkai to begin with, but the vampiress isn't even remotely bothered by the explosive blasts striking her shield.

The fragment knows it doesn't have enough time to move, so it tries to halt her attack with just its one arm... And gets plowed by the thorns. I notice that she's not stopping either, opting to be certain that the fragment won't be getting up again anytime soon by plowing it into what little is left of the Gae Bolg I threw. I know full well that it's not a flesh and blood being, but I still can't help but cringe as it's torn apart from being driven into the thorns like that. Definitely not a nice way to go.

She doesn't drop her shield until 'Killer's Gae Bolg loses form either, which is probably a good thing since it kept extending thorns clear until its owner was torn into its base fragments. Once that dissipated, she dropped said shield to let me collect the fragments and the vulgar spirits they collected.

The small, forest green fragment didn't even twitch as I absorbed it back into myself. Neither did the spirits it had gathered. With that out of the way, I make my way toward the remnants of 'Sentinel'. "Kurumi, were either of them a real problem for you?"

The vampiress tilts her head to the side slightly in response. "Not really. They both hit kinda hard, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle." I can tell. She's not really hurt, scratched, or even winded. "I'm actually more worried about you right now. You were getting smacked around pretty hard, and you're nowhere near as tough as I am."

...Oh yeah. I was kinda bleeding blue spirit stuff earlier. It doesn't look or feel like it's gotten worse since the last time I bothered to pay attention, so that might be a plus. "I should be fine for now. The added fragments should fix any damage taken before it becomes an issue." To be perfectly frank, I'm not entirely sure how that works but in this instance I'm going to treat it like a game mechanic where you get a free HP/MP refill upon level-up. That and I don't want to worry Kurumi needlessly over something relatively minor.

She looks as though she doesn't quite buy that, but doesn't press the issue verbally. Instead she walks beside me, puts a wing around me protectively, and wraps an arm around my middle in silent support. It's not needed, but I'm not about to object to the act or the nature of it.


The other fragments haven't seen fit to move either, despite being left alone longer than 'Killer'. Don't get me wrong, I'm not disappointed by this at all. I'm just slightly curious as to why they'd choose to stick around when it's clear that they weren't interested in returning to me before. Three quick grabs and four more fragments in total are in my possession, along with numerous vulgar spirits which may or may not prove useful.

['Sentinel' has been recovered, and with it comes knowledge of the sword Reimu handed you. It is the Honjo Masamune, an absurdly sharp artifact sword that lets the wielder choose what he or she cuts. I.E., if you have three logs you want to cut, you can stand to where they're all in line with you and still cut only the middle or last one without touching the other two if you so wish.]

[X]Accept 'Geodancer's power.
[X]Accept 'Killer's power.
[X]Accept 'Peace's power.
[X]Accept 'Sentinel's power.
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.
[X]Write-in

---

'Geodancer' taps into the natural rhythm of the world to produce any number of elemental effects. It can't use what's not there, so you can't produce water attacks where there's no water, or fire where they're no fire to begin with. On the flip side, it combines a strong offense with decent mobility, and at this stage it would grant Wade better control over his fire.

'Killer' would have emphasized on all-out attack, discarding any pretense of precision, subtlety, or mercy in favor of overwhelming firepower. In addition, it never forgets an enemy's weak point and after a while will accurately determine a weak point if it hasn't before then. Out of all the paths, this would have been the biggest glass cannon of the bunch, but also the most dangerous. At this stage, adding its power would enable Wade to fire exploding bolts of flame, or to project metal claws. The latter is probably redundant now that he's got a sword, but it's all about preference.

'Peace', despite the name, is heavily focused on ranged combat. It prefers not to get in close in favor of firing large plasma bolts at a distance, and eventually figuring out how to emulate its opponent's attacks if would help end the fight faster. At this stage, it would make it easier for Wade to charge up his attacks for additional power.

'Sentinel' focuses on defense, despite possessing a weapon that's deadly enough to pose a threat to humans, or even youkai. It tends not to strike first, preferring to brace itself in the face of oncoming attacks. It grows tougher through repeated punishment, and may pick up some interesting tricks if allowed to go on long enough. At this stage, accepting it would enable Wade to use the Honjo Masamune more easily, though he knows what it is, does, and how to use it on a rudimentary level regardless. It's skill would be to spin the blade in front of it quickly to deflect ranged attacks, not unlike a certain move Youmu knows.

It'd also be worth your time to see about learning swordplay from someone, if you can track a trainer down and convince her to train you. While the dreamer knows how to use a sword, it doesn't mean he's a master at it.

Boosting Desire still further will enable Wade to hear the desires of others more easily, as well as granting both theirs and his own if it's within his power and would help him accomplish his goal. On the flip side, he's not aware of when he's granting his own desires, and it might not aid him all that much. Getting fired up in battle will also cause his firepower to increase.
>> No. 34471
>>34470

[X]Use them to further boost Desire.

Hot-blooded? Hot-blooded.

>Honjo Masamune
I am more than okay with this.
>> No. 34472
>>34470
Does this mean the TD cast will end up 100% Bitchier?

Also does the sword knowledge stick regardless of choice?
>> No. 34473
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.

Can't we use our desire power to artificially grant ourselves the fragments' power?
>> No. 34474
>>34472

Nah. I already take some liberties with the canon characters, so the TD crew might be a pain to deal with at times, it won't be any more so than other groups.

And yes, the sword knowledge sticks regardless of choice. The only thing that changes with 'Sentinel' is how skilled Wade is with it to start. Also, Konngara, Meira, Yumeko, Youmu, Suwako, and Tenshi are all good enough with blades to teach Wade, assuming you can convince one to do so. Yumeko and Suwako also have the added bonus of knowing how to weild western blades, of which there are two to aquire in this story.
>> No. 34475
>>34474
I can understand why Kanako would be skilled with blades, being a war god and stuff, but Suwako?
>> No. 34476
>>34474

Gentlemen, our goal is clear.

We must obtain all of the swords. All of them. Then we will be Final Fantasy Gilgamesh.
>> No. 34477
[X] Accept Peace
[X] Fuel Desire with the rest
>> No. 34485
[X] Accept Peace
[X] Fuel Desire with the rest

"Peace" through superior firepower, what's not awesome about that?
>> No. 34486
[X] Accept Sentinel
[X] Fuel Desire with the rest

Making projectiles go away is pretty handy, in that it gives us a notable tactical advantage over ranged combatants. Higher baseline skill with our new sword will cover melee enemies nicely, too.
>> No. 34487
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.
>> No. 34510
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.
>> No. 34511
[X] Accept Sentinel
[X] Fuel Desire with the rest

Sword stabby, bad man!
>> No. 34513
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.
>> No. 34516
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.
>> No. 34517
[X] Accept Sentinel
[x] Dispose of the rest

SENTINEL!
>> No. 34519
[x] Accept exactly one, whichever has more votes to accept.
[x] Fuse the rest into Desire.
>> No. 34520
[X]Use them to further boost Desire.
>> No. 34521
>>34473

Sort of. You can utilize the abilities of other fragments, but it's much harder to do so in this manner than if you had chosen the path that corresponds to that ability. It'd be like paying a higher MP cost to use a cross-class skill.

>>34475

It's just my opinion, but given that Suwako's an earth goddess and that she uses iron rings in combat it makes the idea that she might have used other weapons in the past a bit more plausible. As for Kanako, I'm honestly not sure. I kind of envision her fighting with her Onibashira and wind element attacks as opposed to metal blades.

>>34476

Would you believe me if I said that is indeed a legitimate route here, and that there's a fragment based on that?

>>34485

Nice job catching that.

---

I decide to stick to my guns this time around, absorbing everything to boost myself still further rather than add additional skills. While that might have been nice, there is the small fact I don't think I could even challenge Kurumi and win at this stage. I mean, she got impaled by one of them a few times, and didn't seem the least bit bothered by it! It might not be the right idea, but I figure if I focus on what I've got I might be able to hold my own sooner than if I tried to pick up a bunch of skills.

[Fragments have been restored to their original purpose. Re-initializing.]

...I think I blacked out for a second there. A quick look around tells me that it hasn't been too long, or that it was just a momentary thing and it wasn't even worth noticing. "...You can change clothes when you put yourself back together? I wonder if you know any more neat ghost tricks..." Kurumi speaks in a thoughtful tone as she looks me over, which prompts me to do the same.

Lo and behold, I seem to have changed outfits. Instead of the lapiz lazuli colored assassin outfit, this new one seems to be based around sleek battle armor. It's a deep black for it's base color with forest green trim around the feet, identically colored ridges on the front forelegs, forearms, and back. The shoes come out slightly pointed for some reason, and the gloves have equally pointed fingers. Seems a teensy bit impractical, but since the two fragments I consumed have similar outfits I guess it makes sense that they might be a bit more dominant. I seem to have picked up a red visor somewhere along the way, just a plain visor connected to what appear to be earmuffs. Black, metallic earmuffs that seem to enhance hearing rather than reduce it, but I'm calling them that regardless. The sheathed Honjo Masamune rests on my back, held in place with straps. ...Maybe it's because I can actually feel emotions somewhat properly, but I find this to be somewhat embarrassing. It's like I'm trying to be a superhero or something.

...But now that I think of it...

A quick thought of my previous outfit makes it come back. Metallic substance is replaced by normal cloth, though I'm now slightly conscious of it. Personally I can't quite make up my mind on the matter, so I flip back to the one I just generated so I can at least take advantage of the armor aspects of it. I'm pretty sure Reimu's still chasing down the one that threw lances at my vampiress friend, so maybe this'll make it harder to deal meaningful damage.

[Outfits can now be changed. Make a request to switch as you desire.]

The vampiress in question simply stares with her eyebrows raised. I get the impression that she might ask me if I can make myself wear anything more interesting should we be alone and uninterrupted for a a few hours. "See anything you like?"

Her response comes in the form of a snort and a rebuttal. "Aside from your hair? Not really. Your eyes are obscured by that mask thing, and your cute ass isn't really visible at all." She's blushing ever so slightly, but that blunt statement's made me match her. "I suppose I could put up with it~" She's willing to settle for me blushing in this thing? One less thing to worry about I guess.

I was about to open my mouth to point out that we really ought to find out where Reimu went before we forget completely, and in the process incur her wrath when I noticed a blue blur race past, yelling what I can only imagine to be 'crap' continually and so quickly that it sounds a bit run together. Reimu's not too far behind, firing persuasion needles continually in an erratic spread, though it's beyond me as to whether or not it's her trying to tag him no matter where he moves, or her general irritation reaching a peak, in turn causing her to blow off steam on a relatively harmless target.

Both entities blow past us without sparing us even a small glance, and an awkward silence falls between us as a few stray leaves tag along behind the high-speed pair. Amusingly enough, it seems to have mussed up Kurumi's hair a bit, which she's trying to rub back down to its usual state. Mine's not really worth correcting since it's short.

"S... Should we go help her?" The vampiress seems much, much less inclined to go fragment hunting now that the red-white's display jogged her memory on how their battle went. I think that's it anyway, maybe she's just unnerved.

"We may as well. If we're lucky the reason it's fleeing is because it's on its last leg, so it shouldn't take too much to bring it down." To be perfectly honest, I don't really want to do this either, but there's the small problem that not going would be far more troublesome than going.

Just to make that decision more interesting, a somewhat short girl with white and blue hair with a small red bird wing coming off it, black and purple dress, two more red wings on her back, and a book in arm comes into view. She looks like she's been on the wrong end of a lot of persuasion needles, as her clothes are torn and she has a few of the red needles sticking out of her. There's no blood though, nor any indication that she's more than roughed up. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say she's trying to chase the fragment and the red-white, though I have no idea why.

Kurumi simply looks to me. Help a girl we don't know, or chase down an irate shrine maiden.

[X]Try to catch up with that last fragment and help Reimu take it down.
[X]Follow those two, but try to keep away from the mass number of long, sharp things being flung at the fragment.
[X]Leave them be and see what's up with the bird youkai.
[X]Write-in
>> No. 34522
[X]Leave them be and see what's up with the bird youkai.
>> No. 34523
[X]Follow those two, but try to keep away from the mass number of long, sharp things being flung at the fragment.
-[x] "Hey, they went that way"
--[x] If the fragments share your face, maybe you should drop the visor and explain everything in the way.

I don't want to give the fragment a chance to scape, but I'd feel bad just leaving Tokiko there.
So, is Wade looking like a sentai hero right now?
>> No. 34525
[X]Leave them be and see what's up with the bird youkai.

I'm always interested in seeing whether or not authors do anything interesting with the unnamed book-reading youkai.
>> No. 34526
[X]Leave them be and see what's up with the bird youkai.

I have a feeling this is in regard to Reimu's mini-incident with her.
>> No. 34527
[X] Leave them be and see what's up with the bird youkai.
-[X] But try to make sure all three of you are still flying after Reimu and the fragment.
>> No. 34528
>>34521
>spoiler'd bit

Yeah, I would. I was semi-serious when I said that, and I was about 85% certain you had a plan for that eventuality.

[X]Follow those two, but try to keep away from the mass number of long, sharp things being flung at the fragment.
>> No. 34537
Note, I have not disregarded the vote here, I'm simply doing a section I really should have been doing simultaneously as opposed to separate.

---

"Impressive! I may not have seen many humans, but I can't imagine that many of them would have been able to go from not knowing any magic to being able to sling around some simple spells in an hour!" Mugetsu was practically beaming at the small display I put out during my time here, which is probably a good thing if she's doing this to satisfy her curiosity. "Granted, this is the world of dreams and you're not in your physical body, but that's still a great deal of progress."

As for me, I feel like I've been run over by a truck, and my clothes seem to agree with my assessment. The dream demon had decided to start off slow by showing me how mana is channeled through the body and how it translates into spells, but after I got the hang of it she decided that the best way to 'bring out my potential' was to place a few white, spherical bullet spawners about ten feet away from me and let them rip. The resulting bulletstorm made things kinda painful, to say the least, not to mention really annoying. In fact, I'm not sure she even knows what she's doing at this point. "Progress is progress though. Even if I can't do this physically, I can just come in while asleep and search for Wade then."

"You most certaonly could, but it might benefit you more to go there physically. If you only learn to use your skill while asleep, then you won't be able to defend yourself as easily in your physical body." She drifted down to the ground, despawning the paint-covered bullet spawners as she drifts by them.

"But I live outside of this realm. There isn't a whole lot I need to defend myself from there." Somewhere along the line my clothes were fixed and my appearance cleaned up. Don't know why that is, but I'm not complaining.

"...Really?" I nod in response to the dream demon's question. "Hm. With the way you move, I would have expected you to have to defend yourself frequently. I only know of this world, and have only seen two people from outside this realm prior to your friend and yourself, so maybe your realm is as peaceful as you say. Though my point lies more in the fact that you're essentially piggy-backing off of your friend's connection as opposed to going there yourself. If his connection is cut for whatever reason, then you're stuck with no way to help him."

"Er... Peaceful? For the most part. But even when it's not it's mostly humans harassing other humans, and I'm good at getting away from that if I have to." I wasn't sure how to answer the last part of her statement since I didn't really want to think about why that would happen, but I got the feeling she was going to push for me to start learning how to use what magic I can while awake. It was a pretty tempting thing too, since it would give me one more option to use when dodging cops. They wouldn't even know what hit them~

"But why pass up the opportunity? It's clear you have potential, and it's unlike anything I've ever seen to boot. Is magic not accepted where you're from?" She tosses the last bullet spawner away, wipes her hands off with a hankerchief pulled from nowhere, and has set up a table with a deep blue tablecloth, a pair of midnight blue chairs. One of which is fairly cushy, while the other is simpler, yet no less comfortable. She sits down on the cushy one, while I take a seat in the simple one.

"More like no one believes that it exists, and if concrete proof of it were to exist, it'd attract more attention than I'd ever want to deal with." ...The table and chairs are making me just a mite suspicious, and when I think about the fact that she's talking about potentia... It's almost enough to make me facepalm then and there. I hope that this is just a coincidence. "Would you keep using your powers, even if it would make everyone come after you? Not necessarily for you, but for the magic."

"I wouldn't know. Aside from Kazami and her guard there's only my sister here and we're all familiar with magic, and we wouldn't be so rude as to bother each other over such a trivial matter." I guess I should have seen this one coming. The dream demon was probably born with her power, and magic's normal here. Even if she had something exceptional, it's not like people would treat her like a freak, think of her as something to study, get pushed into a position she doesn't want, or have some jealous twit try to steal what she has outright. ...Not that I really have any magic power in my physical body, but I do have to think about it. The cops want to bring me in enough as it is. The last thing I need to do is give other groups reason to come after me. "But since your magic takes such a mundane form, wouldn't it be possible to treat it like paint? Surely that exists in your realm."

"I think people would notice if I kept pulling paint from nowhere." I take advantage of a cup of tea she set out for me. I normally don't like plain tea all that much, but if it's sweetened it's not so bad. Thankfully she's either got a sweet tooth herself, or managed to guess my preferences.

"Perhaps." She's studying me with an intense gaze, probably trying to figure out where I'm coming from with this. "You fear that learning magic would end your established lifestyle, and that is why you only wish to use such things in a dream. It would be easy to do as you wish asleep without repercussion once you awaken." Her gaze softened a bit as she took a sip of her tea, then continued. "But can you really help your friend like that? Given his position, he may not think along the same lines as you, and due to his position, he might not be able to."

And just this morning he was having trouble staying on the ground. If she's going where I think she's going with this... "You're saying he'll be driven to gain as much power as possible while disregarding the consequences?"

"Wouldn't you?" A simple, direct question that I'm not sure I could answer. "Your friend is essentially backed into a corner in a land that eats weak humans like yourself for lunch.To him, the consequences of gaining that much power in a short timeframe would be insignificant to the trial he's facing, yet ironically enough it will bring about the very scenario you fear."

"Why would you say that?"

"His lack of control is obvious."

"How would you know that?"

"I do observe him as he crosses over. It seems that the stronger he gets, the less he's capable of actually controlling that power when not asleep." She finishes her cup of tea and sets it back down, at which point it vanishes. "I'm not sure he'd trust my sister or I to help him, but it's a moot point since his body is in your realm. He would need someone he trusts and knows what they're doing to help him gain enough control the point where he would still be able to live a 'normal' life."

She pulls out a deep blue key from her pocket, and hands it to me. "Should you wish to continue your training in your physical body, simply use this on a door. It will open a door to this realm, and from there you can learn to use your power for real. I could also create an entryway to Gensokyo now if you wish."

[X]Leave, but come back later physically.
-[X]Bring Marine and Ben along.
[X]Scout out Gensokyo to try and learn the lay of the land and the like.
[X]Write-in
>> No. 34538
I wonder, did her nose spontaneously grow three sizes for this conversation?

[X]Leave, but come back later physically.
>> No. 34541
You should consider using prefatory sentences in the beginning of new update if you are changing place or character, even more if the narration continues as first-person. And it gets even harder to understand what is going on since it's been months since the last time you mentioned...Naomi was her name, right? At least tell us who and where, screw when and why. I felt like I was sitting with my back to a TV, hearing characters, but hardly understanding what is going being five minutes late to the start.
And maybe you should mention the names more often, since, I repeat, it was a long time ago we read about her and her doing this at that place while she did that to pursue her friend there.
Don't make the same mistake with lack of fluidness you did at the beginning when Wade woke up. Out of nowhere we learn that he was in a lethargic dream for a long time and was dragged away to his homeboys' den. A strange transfer of consequences, since before that it there were no hints that it will end so. Wade slept for 8 hours and kept his regular tour rides safe. It may be smooth enough in your notepad since you are the author, but we read only the stuff you post, something minor you left out may be crucial to us. All these little details, explanations and interiors are interesting to read, for me at least. If they are lacking, I find it hard to immerse myself into the story, especially first-person one. They make me feel like I partially lack sight and have memory problems.
I find it hard to find right words, so I'll tell you how it feels - missing pages. Someone tore them out.
>> No. 34548
[X]Scout out Gensokyo to try and learn the lay of the land and the like.

Better to do this while asleep and vaguely capable of some modicum of self-defense than while awake.
>> No. 34555
>>34541

Yeah, my apologies about that. I used to be a fair bit better about that than I am right at the moment.

Anywho, just two votes for the second vote? Eh, can't really blame you guys. This did come out of left field with the last appreciable bit of context being a few months ago.

---

Part of me really doesn't want to have to deal with the concept of an annoyed shrine maiden giving it her all right at the moment, and I sure as hell don't want to stick Kurumi anywhere near the line of fire if I can avoid it. "Shall we go see what's up with the bird?" I ask the lovely vampiress.

"Sure!" One word from Kurumi, and a sigh of relief. It may be slightly irresponsible of me, but in this particular instance I'll choose to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. "Hey bird lady! What're you doing?" ...Huh boy. Didn't even ask for a name first. Then again, I have to wonder how much social skill she actually has, what with her living on an island in the middle of a lake of blood with only a couple other youkai for company.

The red-winged bird youkai starts upon being called out to, and turns her head to look at the person calling her out. "Me? Chasing that shrine maiden. She's trying to take something from me again." Just as a small note, there is something of a bird-like melody to her voice, as though she's trying to apply both a human's and a bird's rhythm to her words at the same time. It's a little awkward to hear at first, but the effect is far from unpleasant.

"Something important?" The blonde vampiress tilts her head to the side as she contemplated what that meant. There was really only one possibility, but part of me was trying to think up some other reason as to why the bird was chasing down the shrine maiden. Or at least trying to anyway. "Was that something humanoid and sort of blue?"

The bird youkai nods in assent. "Yes. As a matter of fact, your friend looks remarkably... similar?" She looks at me and slows down her speech in confusion. Her chase momentarily forgotten, she floats over to me and looks me over carefully, inspecting every detail she can get at without getting indecent. She lifts my visor up to look at my eyes, then sets it back into place. "...Who are you?" She asks. It's a question posed with nothing more than mild surprise, but since I don't know her at all I can't really tell just how surprised she actually is.

"He's Wade! I'm helping him hunt down those wayward fragments of his so he can go back to being himself." Her enthusiasm is coming back now that she doesn't feel threatened by the shrine maiden's presence, and I find that it's starting to get a little infectious.

"...Ah, I haven't even introduced myself, have I? I... don't really have a name, but some people refer to me as 'Tokiko'. You may do so as well, if you wish." Apparently the vampiress giving out my name was enough to let her know that we didn't know hers. "And what do you mean, go back to his old self?"

No sense in swiping the spotlight here, is there? "Nice to meet you! I'm Kurumi!" The introduction was met in kind before she continued. "Well, long story short, a bad person broke Wade's mind up into a lot of small pieces, and we've been trying to put him back together for a while now. You'd think this would be easy, but each fragment's got a mind of it's own, and they all want to keep what they've gained, so they're beating each other up to stay at the top of the heap."

"That sounds rather absurd, but it does match what he said..." Tokiko pauses to think to herself for a moment. "Wade." She looks to me once more. "Perhaps it's unreasonable for me to ask this, but do you plan to take responsibility for what your fragments have done while they were loose?"

"That's the general idea, why?" I could have said no. There's no real reason for me to do so. Each fragment is simply a part of the whole, and unlike a normal person I didn't have control over what any of them do. Yet at the same time, it feels like that would be a dick thing to do. While most of my fragments seemed more interested in simply living out their ghostly lives, I'm sure a few have caused their fair share of harm or mischief. These people don't really deserve it either, so far as I can tell, so in some cases it might be better to try and make peace. Especially if I plan to come back here again.

I'm a little surprised when the smaller girl hugs me. "Then you have to take care of me too." Wait what.

[Tokiko has joined the party.]

"Eh? What'd the fragment you found say?" I note that there's really nothing in the way of objections from Kurumi in regards to me spontaneously acquiring a new lady friend, but it is a little early to get excited about it. Neither of us even know the nature of her relationship with that fragment.

"That he'd take care of me. Normally I wouldn't care about such a thing, but something about it made my heart race, and I couldn't refuse." Tokiko doesn't let go of me for another minute or two, then steps backward a couple steps. "How important is it that you re-acquire those odd fragments of yours?"

"I'm in no immediate danger, but there's a chance that they'll burn themselves out and vanish. I may look fine, but I feel like I still have some holes in me and I'd prefer to fix that." I can't help but shrug at first. Out of all the fragments, I'm the least vulnerable of the lot even if I'm not the strongest. I could potentially ignore all of this, but that would be immensely stupid of me for numerous reasons.

"It's really important! We need to wrap this up as soon as possible before something happens!" Kurumi swats me with her wing ever so lightly, but that still sends me stumbling forward since 'ever so lightly' for a youkai isn't the same as for a human. "I won't settle for a pale imitation after all!"

"She really cares about you." Tokiko regards the enthusiasm with a small smile as she starts walking off in the direction of the shrine maiden. "We ought to catch up to those two then if it's that important. Maybe she's regarding you with a little more respect, but I don't quite trust her." I guess she and Reimu have a little history.

"Of course! He's my fuck-buddy after all~" Kurumi practically carries me along as she falls in step with the smaller bird youkai, and matches flight speed as the two take off. Me? I only put in enough effort to keep pace myself since my own face flushed a deep red.

"'Fuck-buddies'?" Tokiko simply looks confused again, either because she's never heard of that particular phrase, or because she's genuinely uneducated when it comes to more intimate things. I'm actually kind of torn in terms of what I'd prefer the reason to be. "What are those?"

"Eh?" Kurumi seems somewhat taken aback by that answer. Clearly she was expecting it about as much as I was. "You don't know what a fuck-buddy is? It's when a couple of people who are close, but not romantically involved-"

I quickly rap her on the head to get her to shut up. "Fragment first. Embarrass Tokiko later." Normally I wouldn't be too bothered by this, but the vampiress is trying to sully the mind of an apparently pure girl.

"Killjoy." Kurumi mock pouts as we close in on what appears to be Reimu coming back our direction.

...

Earlier, inside Mugenkan...

Ugh, my options look like this: Try to find Wade without diving into the rabbit hole too deep, or screw caution and dive in head-first. Both have their pros and cons, but in the end my mind's settled on the latter of the two. He'd do the same for me, so it's only fair I do it for him. "...You're right. I am scared, but I will come back later physically to learn magic better. In the meantime, I want to scout out this 'Gensokyo' place so my friends and I won't be going in completely blind when we finally do go there for real."

"Very well." Her tone is neutral, but she's either terrible at keeping a poker face, or she's just trying to keep the elation out of her voice for some reason. "That key I handed you can be used as a way to get in and out of Gensokyo as well, but it would be wise for me to set up a proper door to lead you here should you use it." With nothing more than a wave of her hand, a door appears no more than ten feet away from us. Funnily enough, it wasn't blue like the rest of the furniture, but a kind of pearly white. You know how if you look at something with a pearly sheen, it reflects other colors too? It's like that. "This will serve as your entry point into Mugenkan if you enter this place from Gensokyo. To make the door appear there, you just need to will it to appear, so don't be afraid to bail out if things get too dangerous."

I simply nod in response as I get up from my chair to use the door. "Thanks for your help." I try, but I can't quite keep the nervousness out of my voice.

"It's no problem at all~ If you really want to thank me though, come back in one piece. I find that I don't mind your company." She waves goodbye to me as I open the door. "Oh, and one more thing. I might not always be here, but if you're willing to wait, simply sit down for a bit. I'll be able to tell when you're there."

I nod once more, gulp once, open the door, and step through.

"...Oh dear, I think I forgot to tell her that the door will deposit her as close to her goal as possible." Mugestu ponders for a moment before getting up and walking off. "I'm sure it'll be fine." She waves to no one in particular as she vanishes from sight.

...

Wow, that was mundane. When she said that this was a door that will get me inside Gensokyo, I didn't think that it'd be as simple as walking in. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing, I was just expecting a fall, a trip through some kind of weird space, something fantastic. Granted, this forest has more than made up for that already. On the surface, it looks like any other run of the mill forest, but it just feels different. The air is charged, like everything livelier than what you'd find back home. Still, no sense standing around. I'm on a worn-looking road, so I may as well walk along it until I find something interesting.

Of course, I would have, save for the fact that I was literally run into by something moving pretty fast. I'm suddenly glad I came here in spirit form first, I'm not sure how well I would have taken it if I was hit in my physical body. Still, I'm knocked into the brush along with my mystery attacker, who looks an awful lot like... "Wade?"

That was my last thought before I was engulfed in light.

...

"Ugh, you could have helped with this." Reimu's currently chewing me out for not helping her catch that loose fragment, but I still don't feel all that guilty about it. She managed to get it all on her own, so that's one more down.

Yet that's not what's caught my interest. The miko was carrying someone other than a fragment fireman style when she came back to get us, and that someone turned out to be none other than an unconscious Naomi. "Sorry, but you did manage to catch it on your own." Tokiko and Kurumi were content to talk to each other for the time being, and a quick glance showed me that they must not be talking about naughty things, or the bird youkai has the single best poker face I've ever seen.

"Not quite." Reimu shook her head and pointed to Naomi, whom I am now carrying. "She managed to trip the fragment up long enough for me to use Fantasy Seal on it, and got caught in the blast. It's just light though, and it was only supposed to target that fragment, so she should be fine." And she is entirely too carefree about this. "Might take her a bit to wake up though."

Let's see... Chew out Reimu now and burn my annoyance out too much to chew out Naomi for being so reckless, or save it for the artist and let Reimu get off scot free? ...Meh, no point in aggravating things if they're working well. "Fine. But I think there's a question that's in need of answering. Where do we go from here? I can't just leave Naomi be, but we could also wind up having more troublesome fragments to deal with later if we leave them be."

"Up to you." The miko responds with a simple shrug.

[Fragment 'Lovers' acquired]
[Naomi has been located]
[Reimu waltzes right back into the leader slot, bumping you out of it]

[X]Accept 'Lovers'
[X]Empower Desire

[X]Start tracking down the most annoying fragments. There's no time to lose.
[X]Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
[X]Write-in

...

'Lovers' is essentially a fragment that specializes in handling women. It wields a spear in combat, an odd, red one with wing-like spear tips, and it is able to split into three. It also possesses decent homing properties, and with your current power it might actually do some damage. As for the fragment itself, it makes it easier to interact with those of the opposite sex. They might be more inclined to offer useful information, or provide services for less than normal. Others still might join you more readily.

---

Hopefully that's something of an improvement.
>> No. 34556
[X] Empower Desire
[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

I'm interested in where this goes if we empower one and only one fragment to its peak of power.
>> No. 34557
[X] Empower Desire
[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

>>34556
Same here
>> No. 34558
[X} Accept Lovers

[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
>> No. 34559
[X] Accept Lovers
[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

This is Gensokyo, a boost to dealing with women is well appreciated for both survival and information gathering, and I doubt SLDT'd let things get to the uber-harem levels of the first run. For one the main girl isn't Yukari.
>> No. 34560
[X] Accept Lovers
[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
>> No. 34561
>>34559
Maybe not to uber level, but I sure as hell can see girls trouble ahead for being smooth. Hope you'll enjoy breaking many hearts because of this part.
>> No. 34562
[X] Empower Desire
[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

Let's not pick the harem grower. Stuff like that never works out as well as one would hope.
>> No. 34563
[X]Accept 'Lovers'

[X]Start tracking down the most annoying fragments. There's no time to lose.
>> No. 34564
[x]Accept 'Lovers'
[x]Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

For what possible reason would we not take the boost to interaction with 99% of the land's named population?
>> No. 34565
>>34564
Ever heard of the term double-edged sword?
>> No. 34566
[X]Take the Lady Killer perk.
[X]Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
[X]Eat some leftover crackers in your armor's pocket.
>> No. 34567
[X]Accept 'Lovers'
[X] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

>>34565
Yes. What's the other edge of this sword?
>> No. 34568
>>34567
Pretty much what >>34561 said. Enjoy your bonus, but do remember how this will take effect.
>> No. 34569
>>34568
I doubt it'll be that strong at first, our main is still Desire after all. All we have to do is limit its growth so it helps Wade talk better but not wooing more Touhous out of their pants than needed.
>> No. 34571
Being able to talk and look them in the eyes and not bosoms is all we need.
>> No. 34572
[*] Empower Desire
[*] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
>> No. 34573
[x] Accept 'Lovers'
[x] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.


Makes sense to me!
>> No. 34610
[*] Empower Desire
[*] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.
>> No. 34614
[*] Empower Desire
[*] Wait for Naomi to wake up first. Find a place to let her rest. I doubt Reimu would mind taking a break either.

Had enought of harems and easy routes. If we romance one of Touhous, we do it hard way.
And do not forget what even without accepting lovers, basics of personality still integrated. It just would not be so powerfull.
>> No. 34615
Six against, eight for. Just to state where the vote lies this time around.

---

"Then we'll find a good place to stop and rest for a bit. I'd prefer it if Naomi here was awake..." I wind up running out of steam for that statement considering that she's probably every bit as asleep as I am right now. "Well, conscious for this. Plus, would I be wrong in assuming you probably vented a fair bit on that last fragment?"

Reimu simply shrugs in response. "I've pushed myself a lot harder than that before, and it's not like I've been running myself into the ground prior to this. As I said, what we do right now is up to you, so you don't have to look for other reasons to justify taking a break."

"Was it that obvious?" I can't help but cringe slightly as she nails my reasoning on the head.

The shrine maiden simply snorts in response at first, and speaks a little after that. "I'm kind of curious as to what kind of life you've lead up until now if you think that you have to try and spin your reasoning around to where it looks like it'll benefit someone else, even if that someone else was already willing to go along with it." ...She must have vented pretty hard if she's speaking in such an amused tone. She's also permitted herself a small smile for reasons that are currently beyond me.

"If you're really interested in hearing it, then let's get to a nice, calm place first. I'd rather not get blindsided while talking." Blindsided while carrying a dear friend of mine whose safety I'm taking quite seriously is not something I'd want to have happen. Granted, I'd rather not have the artist her at all to begin with, but it's a little late for that.

"Fair enough. Kourindou isn't too far from here, and most youkai don't really bother it. We can hang around there until your friend wakes up." The shrine maiden simply starts walking in the direction of the shop, though I feel it would be far better to let Kurumi and Tokiko know where we're going next.

"Kurumi, Tokiko, we're heading off for a different spot!" I don't quite yell, but I did raise my voice just enough to where they could hear me. That did seem to do the trick though, as they both fall in step with me fairly quickly. Once that's done, the three of us follow the miko before she's out of sight.

"Where are we off to this time?" Was the vampiress' first question. She didn't seem to pay a lot of attention to the girl in my arms, probably because she's not conscious.

"Kourindou, apparently." I should know what that place is, but I can't quite recall it. There's a few scattered images here and there, but nothing really concrete. Plus, I can't tell if those images are mine or those of the various spirits I've absorbed before now.

"Ah, the half-youkai's store." Tokiko adds another piece to the conversation, goes quiet, then speaks again. When she realizes that neither Kurumi nor I gained any sudden insight to what she said. "It's a shop that was set up on the edge of the Forest of Magic by an eccentric half-youkai known as Rinnosuke. It mostly deals in things from the outside, which in theory would net a fair few customers due to the novelty alone."

"...He really expects humans to come to the edge of youkai territory to buy his stuff? I'm guessing he doesn't get many customers." Kurumi speaks next, pointing out the most immediate flaw in this 'Rinnoskue's plan. Humans, however industrious and hard-working, tend to avoid danger if at all possible. Those who don't tend to become lunch after all, or at least that's what I think.

"That's half the problem. The other half is that he tends to be just as much a collector as a shopkeep. Even if he claims everything in the store is for sale, he often denies a potential purchase simply because he likes the item too much. It feels like a cross between a museum and a store, to be perfectly honest." And with a little more elaboration on the part of the ibis, I start to get a clearer view of what Rinnosuke must be like. I could see why Tokiko would call him eccentric.

"...Just to ask, did Reimu pick that place because she prefers it, or because it's convenient?" I don't really expect either the vampiress or ibis to be able to answer that, but I am curious enough to ask anyway.

"Eh, probably the latter. Reimu's the type to go wherever she pleases and do whatever she wants. She's a little like Yuuka in that regard." It's a guess, but my question is answered anyway. The miko kinda does seem the type to not be concerned with smaller details.

"I can attest to her doing as she pleases." Tokiko's closed her eyes when she said that, nodding in agreement. ...Come to think of it, Reimu's name must be pretty widespread, and possibly somewhat infamous to youkai. Not all of them mind, but probably enough of them to the point where most of them wouldn't even consider attacking the miko, or even get near her. It's probably more trouble than it's worth.

"How many youkai have a history with that girl?" A bit of a stupid question, but it'll bug me if I don't get it answered.

"More than I really care to." I jump when Reimu speaks, mostly because she's chosen to teleport directly behind me before speaking, giving the impression that she's been there a lot longer than she really has. ...Maybe. If she can teleport, who knows how long she's been behind me, listening in. "Honestly, I really have lost track. There's been so many that I can really only recall the notable ones, the most recent ones, or those who go out of their way to annoy me while reminding me they exist."

I wasn't the only one to jump though. Tokiko whipped around so fast that she spun in place for a rotation or two before coming to a stop, and Kurumi did a simultaneous 180 degree spin jump while firing a lone bullet at the miko, which was casually deflected. "C'mon, I'm not that scary." She then turns to her right to a spot where the trees are less dense.

"Says you! When did you learn to teleport?" Kurumi's still a few feet ahead of me, but she's gone out of her 'retaliate' mode into a a simple tense state.

"That is a little disconcerting." Tokiko manages to understate things just a little.

"This? This isn't teleportation. It's just a flash step technique I picked up somewhere down the line. There aren't any really good places to use it in the air, so I don't bother with it most of the time." She's got her gohei leaning on her shoulder, and a small smile as she explains what it was she just did a little.

"Can we just get on with this?" Great. Now that the miko's relaxed, she's showing us what she's really like. Cheerful and playful. Regardless, the trees are thinning out now, so the odds are pretty good that we're close to this Kourindou shop.

"Killjoy. It's just off this way, so it won't take too much longer." The miko spins on one heel partway, stops, and heads off toward an unassuming building. I can't say I was expecting too much out of a shop that basically exists in the middle-ages, but this is kinda non-descript. I recover from the initial shock of learning that Reimu can suddenly appear out of nowhere fast enough to follow her, though from the looks of things I was the last to do so. Kurumi's muttering under her breath and Tokiko's simply silent.

---
>> No. 34616
>>34614
Then read something else. Hopefully this won't bite Wade in the ass when dealing with certain touhous (ones that would be more liable to shoot him than kiss him normally)
>> No. 34619
It just look... too easy-mode for me.
If this actually change of PC actions, than passive bonus "+1 from nowhere to touhou positive reactions" it is acceptable.
Passive "more positive reactions to things what normally will lead to PC killed"
Again, something wrong with that. I still can enjoy and read this story, but... This will kill too much of social interactions fun.
>> No. 34622
>>34619
Adapting a bit of lovers wouldn't really break the story, it'd just smooth things over.

And this is a story not a game despite how much SLDT seems to be overdoing it.
>> No. 34625
I agree. Don't make it way too easy for him now.
Not like suddenly he became a hot playa. More like girls are less colded by the fact it's their first meeting with MC. Instead of nervousness or mild frustration they feel that thing when you meet someone and just feel him as a friend. That instant warming to a stranger.
>> No. 34670
I'm curious, did he got the spear?

Also, considering that wade is walking around in a kind of futuristic suit of armor maybe it's better to have something that will avoid "no talk, shoot first" situations with the inhabitants of gensokyo.
>> No. 34680
>>34622

This. Very much this. Taking on aspects of one fragment is not going to break the story in half. I understand that I was about as subtle as dump truck full of bricks in the first run, but one would think that I've been a fair bit more subtle, or at least more gradual about all this. Except for the last fragment in this story, but that will pose a question not often asked in stories like this.

Namely, what happens if someone has too much power crammed into their human body, which up until it started gaining power, almost incapable of using it?

>>34670

He did. The general rule of thumb is that if the fragment has a weapon and Wade takes on aspects of that fragment, he'll be able to use the weapon. Unless it's an artifact weapon like the Honjo Masamune, in which case he'll obtain it regardless.

...It feels like I've explained this before too.

---

We're right up next to the non-descript building and are right in front of the door when Reimu opens it, and promptly vanishes. She re-appears directly behind the shopkeep, shouting his name in the process, yet it doesn't provoke a response from him. I'm not sure, but he may simply be used to such treatment and uses the lack of acknowledgement to try and get anyone who does that to stop doing it and talk to him normally. Can't say I blame him, I'd get tired of girls trying to spook me every time we met, if that's what they do.

"...I'm not sure what scares me more. The red-white when she's angry, or when she's carefree like that. It just doesn't seem right coming from her." Kurumi's quick to make her assessment of the situation while Tokiko simply nods in response. It's a slight thing, but the ibis is making her wordless agreement known.

"From what it sounds like, you've only dealt with her when she's grumpy, so that's not really a fair thing to say." I point out the obvious issue as I look for a good place to set the unconscious artist down. It's not exactly simple since the spots are a small table and the countertop where the shopkeep is standing. Oh yeah, I haven't described Rinnosuke yet, have I? His style of dress is kind of odd to me, with black and blue robes? He's got a pair of half-rimmed glasses on, grey eyes, equally grey hair, and a rather stoic impression.

"I guess... I kinda wish we didn't need her help for this though. I'm just not comfortable with her around." Case in point, the vampiress has chosen to stick close to me as opposed to wandering around the shop at all. The ibis youkai, on the other hand, is browsing the book section for anything that might catch her eye.

"I'm not comfortable either, but I won't refuse her help. Especially not when she insists on giving it anyway." Tokiko simply speaks from the other side of a bookshelf, lacking interest in staying near us for the time being. "I must ask though, who is the human you're carrying?"

"Her?" I respond while I sit down while gently setting her down in such a way that I can let her lean against me until she wakes up. "She's Naomi, a close friend of mine on the Outside and someone I help out on a routine basis."

Kurumi can't help but smirk at that in a rather cheerful manner. "I bet all those little things we came up with would work just as well for her~" Lo and behold, she's talking about sex. I can't hold it against her though, since while we do care about each other we understand that what we have isn't meant to last. Humans just don't have the longevity of a youkai, so getting too heavily involved would be painful. On the other hand, it occurs to me that she might want me to put what she taught me to good use, as she just said.

"Reimu, is your shrine destroyed again?" The man in black and blue states in a clear, concise tone that while professional, seems to indicate that he's not terribly thrilled with this turn of events.

"Nah, I wound up finding a friend of the spook here, and he insisted on finding a safe place to wait until she woke up. Since my shrine's farther away than your shop, I decided this would work out better." The shrine maiden's explanation was similarly straightforward, and I get the feeling that the shopkeep's already resigned himself to the fate of having people in his shop who are not paying customers. I almost feel bad for the guy.

"I suppose there's nothing... for... it." His resignation slows into dawning recognition as he spots me, and I can see his eyes drifting to the sheathed sword resting on my back. "Is that? ...No, that's the Honjo Masamune." I simply tilt my head to the side out of curiosity. "My apologies. There's been more than a few individuals who wear your face, and one such individual stole an item from this shop. To the untrained eye, one would assume that the blade you possess is the one I'm looking for, but it's not the same, nor would I push you into giving it to me."

"Geeze, one of the fragments stole the Kusanagi? I know you're not strong at all, but even you could have beat one of them up." Again with the flash step. Reimu uses her skill to disappear from the shopkeep's side to the table, and sits down quite quickly.

"It's not as if I knew what it was. Just because I can instantly know the name of any item, does not mean I can instantly identify living, or unliving creatures." Rinnosuke's a half youkai, yet Reimu's talking to him as though he were weak... I wonder what the deal is here? Youkai are inherently tougher than humans, so one would think that as a half youkai, he'd outclass a human but be weaker than a full youkai.

Reimu goes silent for a moment as she thinks about something... "Oh yeah, Marisa's running around trying to track it down for you. She tends to shoot first and ask questions later, so she might assume that this one's who she's looking for and try to beat him up." She uses her thumb to point at me, which doesn't annoy me at all.

"Eh? That... Blonde girl? Side braid, rides a broom, uses lots of stars in her attacks?" Kurumi must have rattled off enough of the right traits, because the miko nodded in response. "Oh geeze, suddenly I'm a lot happier that you're helping us. I don't think I could take her on even after all this time."

"Dunno how much of a problem she'll actually be, but eh, we'll deal with it when it happens. Worse comes to worst, I'll beat her up and send her packing." ...Where did she get that cup of tea?

"It might not be wise to linger here too long. Marisa tends to dash in every now and again to see if I'm still doing okay. I don't see why I'd be in any particular danger since I haven't been attacked since then, but it's generally easier to just let her do what she pleases than to argue with her." Rinnosuke opts to sit down on one of the unoccupied sides of the table with his own cup of tea, which appears to have been handed to him by Reimu. ...I wonder where she gets those?

And amidst all that, I can feel Naomi stirring from her rather sudden slumber. It seems she's waking up, but now there's a bit of an issue here. From what I know of the forest witch, she's brash, prone to using firepower to solve her problems instead of words, and might not listen to reason. This is still a fairly safe place to be, but there's a few pros and cons to consider.

Staying here would most likely lead to a confrontation with Marisa. While that might be bad, it might also give Reimu a chance to talk her down if she so chose, and I doubt the witch would actively destroy Rinnosuke's shop. Additionally, it'd give Naomi more time to get her bearings instead of being shuffled around all over the place.

Leaving would postpone an encounter with the forest witch, but if we did run into her I doubt there'd be any chance to talk her out of it. Reimu would most likely have to fight her, and since Naomi's still somewhat out of it I'd have to carry her and try to evade or get away from Marisa. If she's as fast as I think she is, that won't be fun at all. Yet at the same time, we might not even encounter her today.

[X]Stick around.
[X]Git goin'!
[X]Write-in
>> No. 34681
[X]Stick around.

I have faith in Reimu's ability to talk Marisa down. That and we can't keep on running around with Naomi forever.
>> No. 34682
[X]Stick around.

Never postpone things. You never know when Marisa is going to appear and make matters worse.
>> No. 34683
[X] Stick around.

Don't run from Marisa - you'll just die tired.
>> No. 34684
[X] Stick around.
[X] Fap.
>> No. 34685
[X] Stick around.
???
>> No. 34706
It's probably better to just stay here and let the miko handle it. Even if we do split from here now, all that will mean is that we'll run into her later in a place where she can shoot first and ask questions later. ...She could still do that, but that would require her to actively blow up Rinnosuke's shop, which she probably won't do.

That, and I'd rather have Naomi wake up in a relatively calm environment as opposed to the middle of a fight or some other such nonsense. Speaking of which, the artist opens her eyes and starts just a bit before taking a good look around. "Wade! You're... okay? What's with the outfit?" Her surprise is more than a little understandable since I'm wearing something that's more suitable for a super sentai show, or PS0.

"That? There's a truckload of more pressing questions, and you ask about aesthetics?" Not that I should be surprised by this at all. I opt to let her sit up on her own since she's recovered enough to do so.

"...Well, yeah. You look ridiculous." I can't help but feel my cheeks flush a little when she says that. This may be somewhat ridiculous, but deep down I kind of like the look. "As for everything else, why would I? I found you here, so it'd be better to just go back home and hear about it there."

"Not until he finishes helping me locate and deal with all those annoying fragments he's got lying around all over the place." Reimu stated that with such finality that I was honestly surprised, especially considering that she's decided to sit at the table as lazily as she has. "Speaking of which, she's up, so we should get going."

"Wouldn't it be better to deal with Marisa first? The last thing I want is to have to deal with her hounding me every other time I'm trying to recover a fragment." Normally I'd agree with the miko on this, but considering the fact that the fragments pose little to no threat to the natives I think it'd be far more intelligent to make sure that none of the natives are annoyed enough with me to attack me.

Reimu merely raises an eyebrow at my statement. "I guess. I don't think she'd be that big a deal." She shrugs afterward while taking a sip of her tea.

"That's because you're one of the only pure humans capable of fighting on her level, not to mention that you almost always beat her when the two of you fight." Rinnosuke chimes in with his thoughts on the matter, and Kurumi nods in assent. Tokiko doesn't seem to feel too strongly about this one way or the other since she's not giving the conversation that much attention.

"Exactly. I'll just keep her busy while the spook deals with things on his end. It's not that hard for either of us, and she'd probably wind up helping by firing at the fragment that's being annoying." The miko's logic makes a certain amount of sense, but it's still somewhat worrying that she's not taking the black-white seriously.

Naomi didn't seem to keen on the idea of angering the shrine maiden, so her idea of getting me out of here has been put on indefinite hiatus for the time being. I honestly wish I could just walk out of here right now, but all I can really do is keep at it for the time being. "Who are they?" She asks in a quiet voice. I take it to mean that she wants to know who Reimu is first, then everyone else.

"Well, the girl with the red and white outfit is Reimu Hakurei. She's kind of the peacekeeper around here and hasn't taken kindly to what I've caused recently, hence why she's been dragging me around and part of why I can't just walk out on this." I tune out most of what's going on for right at the moment in favor of filling her in as much as I can. No telling when a new interloper's going to crash the party after all. "The man she's talking to is Rinnosuke, who owns this place. He's kind of a shopkeep and hasn't been terribly important in all this."

Said shopkeep seems to have heard that, but aside from a sideways glance in my general direction he doesn't pay attention to that.

"Huh... You're pretty cute!" Kurumi's gotten uncomfortably close to the artist in the time it took me to explain things, which causes her to jump sideways into me. Not that it does a whole lot, but it is a reaction. The vampiress then decides to stand up properly and introduce herself. "You probably don't know me, but I'm Kurumi. Vampire, and friends with benefits with Wade~" She seems to have stopped talking, but decides to go a little bit further. "And yes, I really do drink blood, running water stops me, I find garlic distasteful yet not poisonous, and sunlight only annoys me. Seriously, I sunburn really easily."

"...Then why are you running around during the daytime so much?" I'm not quite sure how much the sun actually bothers her, since her skin still looks fairly pale. Maybe tinged red, but nowhere near what I'd call a proper sunburn.

"For your sake, duh!" And she treats her reason as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Should have thought about it a bit more then, since she was willing to spend time in the presence of someone she doesn't seem to like a whole lot.

"Wait, friends with benefits? You mean sex?" Kurumi had to toss that one out there, and Naomi had to call attention to it. In mixed company.

"Yup~ He's gotten pretty good at it too. You should try it with him sometime." Suddenly I find myself in a very awkward position: Naomi seems to be having trouble digesting this bit of information, and Kurumi giving it freely. The latter simply has no concept of discretion in this case, which is understandable since she's a youkai and probably doesn't care about such things. Thus, I suppose it's a problem that couldn't have been avoided even if I had actively tried.

Needless to say, the artist didn't have a whole lot to say about that. I get the feeling she might chew me out just as badly as I plan to chew her out once we're all done with this. The annoying thing is that we're both justified in our respective matters.

"Well, I suppose it's too late to leave now anyway. I believe Marisa's coming in." Rinnosuke announces that with all the emotion of one talking about the weather, which is probably a good indicator of just how often the black-white invades his life. The fact that he doesn't even flinch when the door to the shop is kicked in is quite the support to my theory.

"Heeeeeey, Kourin! I'm back!" The black and white witch of the forest has her broom leaning over on one shoulder, though she doesn't seem to have a sword anywhere on her person. This is both good and bad. Good that it means I might be able to get to it first. Bad because she might accuse me of stealing it... Well, this me anyway. Anyway, the sheer enthusiasm of that statement was so great that her wink had a small five point yellow star fly off it. I also get the impression that she's pretty strong, if her presence is anything to go by.
>> No. 34707
I wonder if Kurumi doesn't want more to do with Wade with how much she's bragging about it.
>> No. 34746
"Must you do that every time?" Asks the shopkeep. He's crossed his arms in annoyance, but doesn't do anything aside from that.

"Heh, sorry. It's just that I'm feeling pretty energetic today. Blew up a few more of those spirit things that have been hangin' around. No progress on the sword yet, but I'll get it back!" She seems to totally disregard the fact that there are other people in the shop for the moment until she lays eyes on Reimu. "What's up Reimu? Still lettin' those spirits slip away?"

"No. I've actually found something I can use to capture them so I can reassemble the perpetrator and punish him properly." Reimu casually gestures to me while taking another sip of tea, not concerned about what she's about to cause in the least.

The black-white laughs at the miko's comment. "Seriously? It's about time. I was beginning to think you'd never catch up to me this incident! What're you using...?" Her eyes drift over to me when she follows Reimu's gesture, and her eyes suddenly lose the good cheer they had but a second ago. "Oooooh, fight fire with fire, eh? I don't think I've ever seen you do that before."

"If you're going to fight, take it out of my shop first." Rinnosuke offers no help in this regard, though I don't think I can seriously blame him. It's not like I've become best friends with the guy or anything since I got here. "Also, the sword he's carrying wasn't the one that was stolen from me, so there's no reason to take it from him." ...At least he's trying though.

Marisa simply shrugs at the last comment. "Eh, big deal. Gotta make sure that a thief knows that it's more trouble than it's worth to steal to begin with when you punish 'em, right?" She's still smiling, but she's definitely not amused.

I take note of the fact that neither Kurumi or Tokiko seem eager to jump into the middle of this. Personally I can't blame them. The former might have trouble recalling the black-white, but she must feel some kind of dread despite that. The latter must feel out of her league too, though she is alternating between throwing worried glances my way and looking at the nearest window when she thinks Marisa isn't looking. Poor Naomi just looks confused and out of place in all this.

"Wade, who is she?" She's sitting up straight now and is quite tense due to the black-white in front of us, as well as the general atmosphere. Though to be fair, the only one who isn't bothered is Reimu, but that's to be expected seeing as she's the only one out of the current group who can beat her.

Marisa's gaze drifts over to the artist, who seems to shrink a bit metaphorically. "The name's Marisa Kirisame, black witch of the forest and ally of justice! You're friend's been causin' my friend here so problems, so I'm going to cause him some problems right back!" Her enthusiasm is back in full swing as she uses her thumb to point at the shopkeep "So you might wanna stay in the shop, 'cause it's going to get pretty rough outside here in a minute!"

"'Ally of Justice'?" Kurumi can't keep quiet about that and gives the black-white a 'are you shittin' me?' look. "You're just a sneak-theif!"

"And a liar." Tokiko chimes in as well, though she's making sure to stay out of broom range.

"And a moocher." Reimu states this with utter indifference, but I could swear she was faintly amused by this. Just enough to where she felt like she should join in.

"Shaddap." Smiling, but distinctly angry now. I'm annoyed by my friends, and Reimu for making her this way, and immensely glad that the black-white's not willing to blow a new hole into the side of Rinnosuke's shop just to throw me outside and beat me up. "Anyway, I gotta thank you Reimu, I didn't think you'd find the bad guy for me! Now all I gotta do is beat him up, mop up whatever's left of him after that, and call it a day!"

...Wait a sec, she mentioned 'blowing fragments up' before, though not in those exact words. How the hell did she do that? And if she's done what I think she's done, what has she done with the remains?!

"You'll do no such thing." Reimu's finally giving Marisa a side glance, and her words possess a frightening level of finality. Enough to where even the black-white flinches a little. "It took me months to track something like this down, and he'll be the key to making sure this incident ends. If you want to beat him up, be my guest, but wait until after I'm done with him."

"What do you need this guy for so much that you won't just beat him up and call it a day like you do with every other incident? It's not like those spirit copies are hard to blow up." She seems peeved enough, though she's not quite ready to risk getting into a fight with the red-white over me.

"Because even if you do defeat them, they reform over time just like fairies do. Sealing them is the only practical option, and this spook here is the ideal bait to make sure they don't run away before I'm ready to seal them properly." ...I note that Reimu is purposely leaving out the fact that she's 'sealing' them by letting me take them back. I decide to refrain from correcting her in the matter. "And don't get me wrong, I will beat him up. It's just that I want to do this properly so this incident doesn't flare up again later." She pauses for a moment before starting up again. "Speaking of which, are you doing anything with those fragments you blow up?"

"Those things? Eh... I caught one or two in a jar, but that didn't seem to hold 'em too long, so I just took somethin' out of one of my junk piles and stuffed 'em in that. They haven't tried to leave, so I guess they don't mind it? Why're you asking?" She seems to have shifted gears for the moment, at least long enough to answer the question.

"I'm going to want whatever you stuffed those fragments into." Reimu states it simply and returns to her tea-drinking now that she's fairly certain that things aren't going to blow up around her.

"I guess. Though I'm not sure what I used. Guess I was in such a rush that I totally forgot." The black-white scratches her head in thought as she tries to remember what she used. I'm rather curious myself, so I make sure to listen intently. "...Maybe a doll?"

"Alice is either going to kiss you or kill you." That was a bit too matter-of-fact there Reimu.

"Ehehehe, don't worry! Even if it was a doll, I don't think she'll have noticed it yet. I mean, it's not going to get up and walk away while I'm not there looking at it, right?" She sounds a lot less sure now than she did a moment ago. "...Right?"

She doesn't know me very well, does she.
>> No. 34747
The question of the day: What fragment got stuck in the doll?
>> No. 34757
The black-white shakes her head as though to clear her thoughts on the matter, which will probably work out better for her in the long run since she won't be quite as panicked as before. "Well, no sense getting upset about it when I don't know what's going on with it for sure. I'm gonna head back home and go grab that doll, then you can do what you need to, alright Reimu?" She's dashed off out the still-open door, swinging herself onto her broom in the process. The resulting turbulence ended up slamming the door hard enough that I'm a little surprised that she didn't knock it off its hinges.

The shopkeep and the miko sigh almost in unison, and the former speaks first. "Yeah, yeah. I don't think she's going to find that doll though. Those little bits of you won't settle for sticking around in one spot, especially if they feel threatened." She drains the last of her cup before standing up and making her way toward the door. "Come on, let's go. There's still plenty of fragments to locate and I'd rather we didn't waste any more time." It seems like she doesn't have a lot of faith in Marisa's ability to locate and retrieve a doll with a mind of its own, which is something I can agree with her about.

"I guess I should clean this mess up..." The shopkeep states in a resigned tone as he goes into the back room to retrieve some cleaning implements. I'd have stuck around to ask whether he wanted some help for this or not, but I think I should put higher priority on getting myself back together. Even if they are just fragments, odds are good that they could get strong enough to pose an actual threat if enough of them are forced together into one entity. Between this and having his sword stolen by one of my fragments... I ought to make it up to the guy somehow. It's not like he deserved any of this.

I follow the miko out of the shop, Naomi holding onto my hand, and both Kurumi and Tokiko close by. I still don't quite know what to do here, since the 'friends with benefits' relationship between the vampiress and I is very much real and I can't bring myself to damage that, but Naomi's probably shell-shocked about this little revelation. The fact that Kurumi seemed to have little to no interest in being either modest or even tactful doesn't help either. If it were Marine acting like this, the artist would be a lot less overwhelmed by it. As it is, she's probably having a hard time dealing with the fact that a youkai was talking to her about various sexual acts and giving her embarrassing advice on all my various weak points. Not that she's doing so right now since Tokiko's actually paying attention, but earlier...? The vampiress spent at least part of the time sitting up close next to her and talking to her in an undertone.

...I know that the vampiress is ultimately trying to help since she and I both know that getting too involved with one another would end in the usual tragedy brought about by one lover only living a fraction of the other's lifespan, but it's making this harder. Speaking of which... "Naomi, there's been something I've been meaning to ask."

"Hm?" She turns her head to look at me, possibly hoping for something to distract her from the fact that a vampire spent a fair amount of time talking dirty to her.

"How did you even get here? In my case it was sheer dumb luck after months of lucid dreaming, followed by bad luck in running into Gengetsu, but you?" I wasn't sure how to go about this. There weren't too many possibilities, at least as far as I knew. Getting into Gensokyo came down to luck while being close to the boundary, or someone drew you in. The former was impossible due to the distance from the actual boundary, but the latter required someone to know you're there and want to bring you in for some reason, be it an important purpose or a simple whim. ...Though there was one other possibility, and that one I didn't even want to consider. The possibility that she came through the same way I did.

"That? I fell asleep next to you and wound up following you into Mugenkan. I encountered Mugetsu, who actually wanted to help fix what her sister did to you. She showed me a little bit of what I can do here and gave me the means to come here or go back home as I pleased." She procured a small key from her pocket to show me, then put it back. An awkward silence fell between us once she finished, as she wasn't sure what I was actually feeling and I wasn't saying anything in response.

I did notice that everyone else in our little party seemed to be paying attention now, as even Reimu was keeping an ear toward Naomi and I. "What you're doing is extremely dangerous, but I guess I there's nothing I can say or do to dissuade you from continuing until I'm back home safe and sound, is there?" I offer the artist a small smile in response, trying to keep the urge to bodily haul her out of this sealed land and back to our homeland bottled up. I figure it's better that I do since this girl's never been stopped by anyone else before, be it in her nightly street art or pursuing something she wants. "I'll try to keep you as safe as I can, but you need to understand that I can't do a whole lot as I am. I might not be able to help you at all."

"Weeeeell, that's what you've got me for, right?" Kurumi drapes her arms over our shoulders, leaning into us as she does so. It doesn't knock either of us off balance though, so I guess that's a plus. "Don't worry about it. Until you're strong enough to fight on your own, I'll help keep your cute little girlfriend safe!" Once again, no discretion at all, but this time it might be a good thing.

Naomi's blushing pretty hard now, but she manages to keep composure well enough to get her own words in. "Actually, I wasn't counting on you to protect me. You've helped keep me safe so many times before now that I felt that it was about time I did the same for you, that's why I decided to take the risks that I did."

"Helping to keep you out of the cop's sight and your parents when they started getting on your case too hard? This is hardly an equivalent act. This is way, way more than I could ever ask you to do for me. Gambling yourself across entire worlds for my sake is..." I can't even think of the right words here. The length she's going for me isn't a small one, and as I said it's dangerous. More than I could ever ask her to do.

"What a friend does?" Reimu turns around to look at us, opting to float wherever she's headed rather than risk tripping. Maybe it's just me, but I find it kind of odd that she's smiling about this. "I guess there is a good side to you if you have a friend who's willing to do all that for you. Maybe a bit of a foolish friend, but a good one none the less. Anyway, I think we're pretty close to Alice's house. I decided to just head there rather than drift around all over the place or wait for Marisa."

"Makes sense. Locate the doll and maybe another loose fragment, so it's basically killing two-" I catch myself before I go saying something stupid like 'killing two birds with one stone' in present company.

"You won't offend me with a metaphor like that. It isn't as though we youkai hold back when it comes to similar metaphors involving humans." The ibis has decided to take up my other side somewhere along the line, something I don't mind at all.

"Two birds with one stone." And with that, I finish what I was saying.

"That's my thinking. Plus, Alice might have been catching fragments for her own use, so this little stop might turn out to be pretty lucrative in terms of resolving this incident." It seems like the miko's got a pretty good reason for bugging the puppeteer, and since I'm pretty sure Alice won't be hostile to us we might even be able to walk away from this without a fight. "Maybe anyway. Is that some kind of duel going on up ahead?"

Kurumi looks to where Reimu was pointing, then starts looking to the right. "...Yeah, looks like it. I'm not sure who it is or why, but there's definitely some bullets flying. Shall we go take a look?"

"It's heading away from Alice's house, isn't it." Reimu's comment is less of a question and more of a statement, so I guess there's some kind of battle that's either close to the puppeteer's house or one originated from her house and is now moving away from said house.

[X]Keep going to Alice's house.
[X]Follow the fighting.
[X]Leave the doll collection to Marisa, and track down a different fragment.
-[X]Location?

---

Several locations have been cleared of fragments by now, leaving Eientei, Moriya Shrine, Chirieden (not recommended with Naomi in the party as she is), Mayohiga, Senkai (Where the Taoists settled down), and possibly Hakugyokuro and Makai.
>> No. 34758
[X]Follow the fighting.
>> No. 34761
[X]Follow the fighting.
The doll probably isn't going anywhere. So either we'll get two fragments or possibly locate even three.
>> No. 34765
[X]Follow the fighting.

We could always visit Alice again later. And who knows? The person fighting might just be her.
>> No. 34766
>>34765
And possibly the doll as Wade remarked if a fragment was in a doll, it'd try walking away.
>> No. 34786
Attention voters: Your dumbass writefag managed to erase about an hour and a half worth of writing with a careless flick of the finger thanks to the 3DS keyboard having this huge-ass 'quit without saving' button on the left-bottom. A button carelessly hit when he meant to hit 'confirm'. So I'm waiting for the 'WHY?!' to wear off before trying again.
>> No. 34787
>>34786
Is hell going to freeze over before doing an update on an actual computer?
>> No. 34788
The decision to follow the fighting was pretty much unanimous, as there was the distinct possibility of Reimu finding precisely what she's looking for in the process as opposed to going to Alice's house and possibly losing out on the contents of said fight. The fragments could literally vanish in an instant. Alice couldn't. At least, none of us thought so.

Hence the short walk through the underbrush between the trees as opposed to sticking to the path. The miko's taken point ahead of us while Kurumi and Tokiko have taken a rear watch behind Naomi and I, but I get the feeling that it's not to deter youkai. Reimu's enough of a 'I don't want to deal with her' flag as it is, and the odd smell can't be all that pleasant to more sensitive youkai noses.

Thankfully the fighting was easy enough to catch up to, and even better was the fact that the doll was in fact involved in this particular fight. Then there was both good news and bad news. The bad news was that a weirdly-themed piece of me was smashing the doll around with what looks like control wires of the sort Alice would normally use, but solid. The danmaku bullets whizzing off the wires with every swing didn't help either. The good news was that the fragment in question wasn't making any real headway with the doll, so the miko opted to not get involved for right at the moment and just let the two fragments wear each other down.

I couldn't resist the chance to poke a bit of fun at the miko. "When you have a big job ahead of you, give it to the laziest person in your group. If his or her solution is legal, you should at least consider it." I was walking alongside Naomi at the time just to keep her close by. I might not be able to really protect her, but there's no reason not to make the attempt. Or at least making the gesture.

"What, I'm not allowed to pick the option that lets me do the least work?" The miko's closer to the fighting than I am by about ten feet, and is casually swatting aside the odd danmaku bullet with frightening ease. I'm not even sure she's aware she's doing it. "You'd wait for those two to wear each other down first too."

"I never said I wouldn't. I'm just commenting on the fact that aside from you getting annoyed, you consistently pick the path of least resistance." At least from my observations anyway. While I doubt it's really the case, it's possible that she's really more diligent than she lets on.

"And I bet that's why everyone uses bullet patterns nowadays! It's not just about beauty, it's about letting the lazy miko stay lazy." Kurumi couldn't help but share her commentary on the matter, which earned her a raised eyebrow from the half-attentive Reimu.

"Considering those rules are about the only thing that lets you fight on even terms with anyone, I figured you'd be thanking me as opposed to poking fun at me." A whole line of small white bullets are sent flying away courtesy of a miko, and I suppose the vampiress' comment as well.

"Oh please, I'm not that weak. And even if I couldn't deal with other youkai, I'd just stick to pushing humans like you down." Kurumi's wording can't have been anything less than deliberate, given how she is with me.

"You and half Gensokyo's population." Reimu simply rolls her eyes in response, clearly having heard such lines before. "Aside from that, I'm kind of curious. Weren't you one of Yuuka's gate guards? I remember Elly and I sort of remember what you were doing, but I can't think of why you were there to begin with aside from the free blood." She adds a 'I wonder if Remilia knows about that lake' in an undertone that somehow went largely unheard.

"Aside from the free food? I don't know. I don't think I even remember who this Yuuka person is, though I know Elly." The vampiress seems to be thinking in a serious tone for once, though rather than snark I chose to leave it alone.

"The flower youkai of four seasons? Wears red plaid everything aside from a white undershirt? Green hair, red eyes, and a giant laser?" The miko decides to play a game of 'let's see how long it takes for something to jog Kurumi's memory' to help pass the time.

"Nope, nope, nope, noooo..." She responds in the negative for all but that last one, which she actually does remember. "Oh right, Yuuka wanted a strong guard to protect her while she sleeps. Somehow that ended with me getting blasted halfway across Gensokyo and waking up on an island in the middle of a lake of blood."

"And that showed her how tough you are?" Poor Naomi's probably lost as all hell in this conversation, but she's trying.

"Eh, maybe. Vampires can take a beating because they regenerate so easily, not just because of their initial durability." Reimu simply drops what she thinks of things while she has a full team to mess with.

---

Short, but right now I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open, let alone writing.
>> No. 34792
>>34787

Nah, I think it's a 2:1 update ratio in favor of the PC nowadays. I mostly use other devices when it's inconvenient for me to update with it, such as a thunderstorm that might fry said PC.
>> No. 34939
The bullet storm didn't exactly let up even as we continued to chat. Fragment 'Controller' doesn't look like it's showing any signs of slowing down, and the doll continues to show no signs of damage. It does look like 'Controller' is making every effort in the world to keep its target where it is, so maybe there's an advantage in keeping the doll there? "As much as I don't mind letting these troublemakers beat each other up, I'm getting bored of standing around experimenting with how close I can graze a bullet without actually getting hit." Reimu once again showing little concern with the task at hand and opting to let stray bullets pass partway through her.

"It's really weird though. I may not know much about souls, but you'd think that a tiny splinter wouldn't have the power or stamina to keep at it for this long." Kurumi points out another obvious point. The fragments connected to artifacts like the Honjo Masamune may draw on said artifact to fight, raising their ordinarily non-existent threat level considerably. So what about the ones with no such assistance?

"The Forest of Magic is named for the high amounts of mana present inside of it. I think those two bits are just drawing from the natural environment." A potential answer from Tokiko, one that might just explain why any of those bits of me can fight.

"Let me guess, we can't time them out because the magic in the air that the one attacking is drawing from makes it so it can keep using its piddly little attacks indefinitely?" Rather than waste any more time, the miko swings her gohei at an incoming bullet and sends it back at 'Controller' at a much higher speed than it came at her at. Said fragment didn't even notice it and got blindsided pretty hard, but that's relative because as far as I know danmaku bullets don't gain any extra power from getting bounced around.

The miko dashed forward the moment the bullet impacted 'Controller' and pulled that familiar flash step trick to get behind it and crescent kick it up into the air before it could so much as think. She followed up by thrusting both hands out just as the fragment's spinning body reached about chest-level, sending it flying. It smacked against a tree and bounced up somehow, enabling the miko to get behind it again and kick it up into an arc. She kept up with said flash step then kick thing a couple more times before I figured out what she was doing. "Is she playing ping-pong with herself?" I can't help but stare at the display while wondering if the miko was even remotely serious about this or if she was just playing around.

"I definitely do not remember her being able to do that when we fought." Kurumi seems to have come to the same conclusion I have. Namely, that we're both glad that the red-white is beating up a fragment of soul and not us.
>> No. 34941
Bleh. Been trying to get back into the habit of updating, hence the stupidly small update two days ago. This one should hopefully be longer. Maybe.

---

The doll had fallen to the ground with a faint plop sound while Reimu was playing a one woman game of ping-pong with one of the fragments. One might think that the doll in question might dust itself off and walk away, shake its tiny fist at the sky angrily, or turn into some four-dimensional monster that decided miko flesh tasted good. Nope, it just lay there, looking like a simple doll with no autonomous function. There were a couple potential reasons for this: One, there was no visible cue that the fragment had been defeated due to its possessing a doll. Two, it's a defensive fragment that hasn't peeked out of its shell yet thanks to the red-white kicking the crap out of the other fragment.

The latter hunch turned out to be the right one since the vampiress, the ibis, and I all saw the diminutive construct look to the sides deliberately to see if the coast was clear.

Tokiko turned out to have been the quickest to react out of the three of us and had launched herself at the doll in question while my mind was still coming up with a plan to catch it without torching it. The ibis' plan didn't look much better since she seemed to be making ghostly, five-colored fire from behind the doll, but that was probably just danmaku. I, on the other hand, had bombs, a flamethrower, a spear concept aquired from 'Lovers', and an artifact sword so sharp that it would probably cut the doll clean in half if I so much as twitched wrong. Kurumi picked up the slack by firing a fairly tight spread of lasers in the doll's general direction, forcing it into a smaller space as it was herded toward the vampiress and I. The combined effort of the two seemed to successfully pin the possessed Hourai doll in one area, but that didn't look like it would last long. Somehow, the doll looked like it was slipping into a reddish, swirling field just as big as its body... Maybe that's the Spirit World technique Reimu was complaining about before?

[X]Don't let it get away!
[X]Leave it for now and focus on the one Reimu's been kicking around.
[X]Write-in
>> No. 34942
[X]Don't let it get away!
>> No. 34943
[X]Don't let it get away!

Reimu can hold her own against that fragment, until she gets bored beating her own highscore or something.
I wonder if the Lover!Spear can be fused with the Desire!Gaebolg, that would get us a neat controllable spear without the straight line problem.
>> No. 35034
The doll was probably halfway through that little red swirl before I finally caught up with the blasted thing. It didn't seem too interested in coming along quietly though and promptly put some distance between itself and I. It hadn't exactly started attacking yet either...

...

"What just happened?" I finally stopped gawking at the displays of bullets and ping-pong long enough to ask a question that must have been on Kurumi and Tokiko's minds. One moment Wade was right there, the next he had launched himself off the ground like a bullet and dove into that red portal along with the doll! The answer was preluded by a small, glowing sphere smashing into the ground and exploding into a small white sphere no bigger than the size of my palm surrounded by pink, green, and blue wisps.

Reimu walked up to the small sphere and grabbed it, which pulled the rest of the wisps along with it. "Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that idiot just followed that doll into the Spirit Realm." She proceeds to wad the entire group of spirits into a small ball and stuffs it into a pocket, which she then slapped a seal onto to keep it from getting away.

"...Do you mind explaining what that is?" The vampiress looked pretty lost when she responded to the miko's answer. I can't blame her though, especially since I didn't really understand the importance of this 'spirit realm'.

"Oh right, no one else was around for that one..." The miko talked to herself in an undertone while figuring out how to explain herself. "I don't really get it that well myself, but from what I understand it's where your spirit ends up when you die, or are close to death. The problem is that it takes a special kind of spirit to guide a living person to that realm, and it takes a lot of them just to let you stay there for ten seconds." She turned to where Wade vanished and used her gohei to point in that direction. "My intuition's telling me he's going to wind up somewhere over that way, and that he's probably going to get stuck in the Spirit Realm. It'll be pretty easy to get him out though, he'll just need someone to guide him."

She then kicked off the ground and flew off in the direction she pointed in. "She's not really one for working with other people, is she?" Tokiko observed this while securing her book to some kind of strap.

"Does it really matter? We just need to keep up with her." I might be just about useless here, but I'm not going to wait around for my friend to come back to the land of the living on his own, and I'm certain that no one here wants that either. ...Though it does occur to me that I don't really have the means to keep up. Parkour is one thing, but flying? I haven't quite figured that one out yet.

Kurumi decides to solve my unspoken problem by wrapping her arms around me from behind and carrying me with her as she takes flight. Tokiko's just a little further ahead of us by this point, but not by much. And unless I'm mistaken, I think Reimu's not that much farther ahead. She's certainly taking her time in all this.

...

Okay, new least favorite thing: Hitting a doll that seems to be cheating to avoid everything I throw at it. I'm seriously starting to wonder if this thing even has the ability to fight back at this point since the thing's done nothing but run away the entire time! "Sit still!" A quick burst of fire from my hand doesn't even phase the doll, and it just keep starting at me with its blank eyes.

At this point I'm getting more than a little annoyed with how things have been going in this lopsided fight, so I decide to get a little inventive. I procure my blue bomb cap from nowhere and put it on my head, marveling at how ridiculous I must look right now while tossing lit bombs in the general direction of the doll. Once again it simply avoids them for what looks like no reason at all!

...

"Oh yeah. There was one more thing about the Spirit Realm. It also seems to shift you a little bit away from the physical plane of existence, so attacks launched from the latter to the former can't really hurt you when you're in the Spirit Realm." The miko suddenly launches into one more bit of exposition, which doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to me. I mean, it seems like it wasn't meant for us so much as it was meant for someone else.

...

"Oh sure, now she tells me." I don't quite know how or why, but Reimu's flown up alongside me and pretty much told me point-blank why nothing's working. I wasn't paying much attention to her as I yanked that cap off my head, but I could have sworn my futile attacks amused her.

The doll on the other hand, just kept staring at me in its own blank manner. I didn't really get why it kept fleeing like this since it seems like neither one of us can properly hurt the other. Why waste the energy running when we could just sit here and glare at each other until one of us drops dead?

Oh wait, that wouldn't work.

At this point I'm just following the doll along as it flies off to what looks like a graveyard, at which point it starts to get a lot more erratic in its movements. It's also whipped out a scaled down halberd and seems to be cutting down the various red and blue spirits that seem to be popping up, and is absorbing both the red and blue bits of paper that pop out of them, along with the various colored spirits that dislodge from the larger mass.

I come to a halt well away from its axe murdering to observe it from a distance. "Let me guess, we can't hurt each other, but we can smack around things that aren't in this weird world." It's not a question so much as statement, and it's one that I get a silent answer to. Namely from the Hourai doll, which turned its head to look at me and nod. On a somewhat more worrying note, its eyes aren't giving off that dull, flat, blank look anymore. The doll's eyes look more like a real person's now. In fact, the doll as a whole looks less like it was crafted out of artificial parts and more like it was made out of flesh and blood.

"Aaaand you're gathering up spirits to gain power like I've been doing, aren't you." I cross my arms as I come to the realization that yes, I've been had, and there's not a whole lot I can do about it.

"Y..." The doll's voice is quiet and stuttering, as though it's... Duh, of course it's not used to talking. It must have only gained the ability five seconds ago. "Y-yes." Stuttering aside, the doll's voice was quite defiant. "I w... ant to be... real!" ...And she's getting the hang of talking in only a few more seconds. This can't be good. "Y-ou-'re the means t... o mak-e that happen." Though she's not quite done hacking up loose spirits. Any attempt to get near her is being met with an equal attempt at getting away. She's even ditching half-sliced spirits to get away.

There's nothing saying I can't kill steal to reduce the resources she has while giving myself more to work with though. Case in point, I wind up following the doll around, torching the spirits she doesn't destroy in one hit while absorbing the paper bits and the colored spirits that come out of them. At this point she's more than a little annoyed with me, so she does an about-face while bringing that halberd of hers around to try and cut me in half. I can't think of any clever tricks to use, so I just recreate the Gae Bolg replica again and use that to block the blow. Though it is somewhat worrying that I'm only barely managing that. I take a swing at the doll with my leg, which she backdashes away from, ending the blade lock in the process.

A lone heartbeat emanates from the doll as it declares its intentions.

'One Who Desires Life'
Hourai

With that and an effortless flourish of her weapon, the doll charges me.
>> No. 35044
The blade whistles toward me only to be blocked by the replica Bolg's shaft, which still isn't pleasant in the slightest since Hourai's halberd is entirely too close to my face for comfort. The other slightly worrisome thing is that I'm having to use both hands to brace the shaft against a hit delivered by an opponent less than half my size! The doll opts to break away once more before taking another swing at me, but this time I'm a bit faster on the draw and manage to back away so that her whistling blade meets nothing but air. I manage to take advantage of her miss by firing a gout of flame at her with a free hand, which doesn't seem to do a whole lot to her aside from annoying her a bit. Her next attack is a lot more precise than the last one so the most I can do to stop it is raise a forearm up, which in retrospect is really, really stupid because getting hit on the forearm's probably going to hurt as bad as getting hit on the shin, assuming the attack doesn't hack it clean off. I don't even have time to wince before I hear a dull thunk sound.

I'm not confident about it, but I decide to take a look at the damage, only to find that there isn't any. ...Okay, there's now a cut in my suit, but that's peanuts compared to what I thought was going to happen. Rather than give the doll a chance to yank her blade off me, I opt to deliver yet another blast of flame directly to her face.

"...How?" Hourai uses one arm to shield her face from the blast just as I had used mine to block her attack, and frowns at the revelation that whatever mystical toughness this realm offered her affected me as well. She uses the arm that's still hanging onto the halberd to yank it free, spin it around to where she's using the flat of the blade as opposed to the edge, and proceeds to swing it at me.

I was confident that I could take the hit, so I decided to let her put some distance between us by means of swatting me away. True to form, I barely felt it. That did bring up a massive problem though. I could barely scratch her before, and now she's using this weird spirit realm to increase her defenses to astronomical levels. Even worse is that I don't even know how to knock her out of this realm and back into the normal one. "What am I doing?!" I muttered under my breath as I unsheathed Honjo Maasamune. If your opponent's defense is so high you can't even scratch it, and you have a blade that can cut anything, then use the blade that can cut anything!

Hourai doesn't bother trying to close the distance this time, instead opting to throw her halberd at me before pulling out a different weapon. Her next choice of weapon is an ornate black lance. She doesn't even say anything as she launches herself after her halberd. Like I'm going to let her recover it.

I hurl the Gae Bolg replica at the halberd, and it's a direct hit. The spear's impact triggered its effect, so the ten tips of the spear immediately started branching out like so many wild brambles. Hourai didn't seem to see this coming, so she got caught right up in it despite her small size. Not being one to let a good opportunity slide, I dash right for her, pulling a small bomb out from nowhere in the process. With a casual flick of the wrist, the small explosive is lobbed at the part of the spear's mass where Hourai's ensnared.

The explosion breaks apart the brambles that blocked my way, leaving me free to dive into the smoke and impale the doll before it can get any clever tricks in. She had other plans though, as instead of my blade meeting cotton, it met that black lance. She had hastily brought it up to protect herself, but it wasn't doing her as much good as she would have liked since my sword's starting to drive right into the lance. I don't even get a moment's notice as she thrusts her lance past where I was driving my blade into it, letting Honjo cut into more of the lance but yanking the blade out of my hand. I counter with a swift kick that the doll doesn't dodge in time, sending the construct flying. She manages to hang onto the lance though, which is annoying because my blade's still stuck in it.

I decide to chase after her, but not blindly. I start tossing small bombs ahead of me as fast as I can, covering the area she's in with explosions that send her every which way. ...Okay, I lied about my not following her blindly. Each explosion created some smoke to go with it, and this realm doesn't seem to have any wind, so I'm chasing a very small person through an increasingly massive smoke cloud in the hopes I can take advantage of the scenario without her doing so first. After about thirty seconds of this I stop tossing bombs about and start firing out blasts of fire ahead of me instead, mostly because I realized that if I haven't thought this through, I may as well keep on winging it until something happens.

...Except I can't seem to actually find the doll anymore. Yeah, I really didn't think this through at all. "Any chance you'd be willing to come out?" It's worth a shot anyway, and I've got nothing else.

---

Reimu, Kurumi, Tokiko, and I were waiting around in a graveyard for Wade to get done fighting that doll when said doll popped out of thin air and landed off to the side of one of the graves. The first thing I notice is that the doll is carrying a black lance that looks like it should be too big for it. The second is that there's a blade driven partway into it. The miko kicks the doll once to make sure it's down before picking it up. "I guess he won." She doesn't bother doing anything with the lance or the sword, but the former seems to dissolve anyway so I guess it was a moot point?

"You said he wouldn't be able to get out on his own without a guide, and from the looks of things he hasn't." Kurumi brings up the most pressing matter, but that's quickly dealt with.

Namely, by Reimu reaching into thin air and yanking Wade out of... wherever he was. "Done." No flashy stuff, no chants, no nothing.

"How'd you...?" My disbelief gets voiced before I can so much as think about it.

"I've been keeping tabs on him the whole time, plus I know how to get in and out of that realm myself. And before you ask why I don't pursue those fragments when they retreat into the Spirit World, it's because it's really hard to gather up enough spirits to make the trip, and I can only go ten seconds at a shot at most. Little dips like this are no problem though." She then gives the doll one good whack on the head with her gohei, and out pops the offending fragment. She hands it to Wade, who looks just as bewildered as everyone else.

---

The acquired fragment was initially aimless, but it seems to have configured itself since then. Fragment 'Realization' attempts to make the dreams of others real, moreso than any other. While it's nothing more than a fleeting dream now, perhaps it can be made into something more.

[X]Accept 'Realization'
[X]Empower 'Desire'
>> No. 35045
>>35044
Ooh. I want to accept [X] Realisation.
Actualizing other's dreams is a way to go about helping oneself!
>> No. 35046
[X] Empower 'Desire'

It's come this far, why not stick with it?
>> No. 35047
[X] Realisation.
>> No. 35048
[X] Desire. I don't know about you, but I'm not one for half assing things
>> No. 35049
[X] Desire
>> No. 35062
[X] Desire

We passed on the Shoot Fucking Lasers power-up, we're going to pass most of the fragments short of the holy hand grenade.
Also because these two are basically the same thing.
>> No. 35075
>>35062
only from a retarded broad perspective; I see desire as a driving force and realization the focusing of it into action.
>> No. 35102
[X]Accept 'Realization'

It seems like it could synergize beautifully with Desire.
>> No. 35108
[X]Accept 'Realization'
>> No. 35109
>>35108
Ignore this vote please, didn't realize my last got through.
>> No. 35112
[X] Accept 'Realization'
For the sake of synergy.
>> No. 35132
Huh, looks like there's a tie in the votes after counting them up. An even 4/4 for using 'Realization' as is and using it to further fuel 'Desire'. Guess it comes down to me then.

---

There's no flashy display of magic or spiritual energy as I reintegrate the wayward fragment with the main mass of soul, which is basically my body. As far as what happened to it goes, I decided to just keep it as is as opposed to making it do something else. For all their similarities, 'Desire' and 'Realization' are two distinct pieces of the same puzzle. The former is one's dream, but the latter is one's ability to give shape and form to that dream outside of your mind. I ought to experiment with that sometime.

In the meantime, I should probably worry about that punch Naomi threw at me while I was mono-

"Wade, you moron! I didn't follow you down that rabbit hole just to have you vanish on me again!" Right. Naomi would have every reason in the world to be mad at me, seeing as I kinda did do exactly what she said. Twice.

I didn't have the opportunity to respond since I just got punched in the face hard enough to make me lose balance and land on my ass. It didn't do any lasting damage though seeing as she's human and I'm... A ghost? A soul? What would you call a guy whose soul was 85% removed from his body, broken into pieces, and was in the process of haphazardly putting himself back together?

It was about that point that I noticed the artist's face is quite close to my own. "Knock it off with the monologue or I'll knock you out."

I put a hand up in a surrender pose, or at least as close as I can get while having to use one arm to steady myself and being almost horizontal. "I get it already!" Under normal circumstances, her being this close to me would be pleasant. It's quite scary right now.

"She cares about him a lot, doesn't she? I'm a little jealous." Tokiko's voice reminds me that my artist friend and I are hardly alone, and that we're kind of in the middle of a graveyard.

"I half expected her to just drag him off someplace after doing that." Kurumi has her hand to her chin as she contemplates us. "Though I guess I could understand why she hasn't. There's no way for them to get home without crossing into Mugenkan."

"Come on. If you want to chastise your boyfriend for being an idiot, we should at least go to the village itself. Last time I came through here there was a zombie running around." Reimu doesn't seem to feel anything about this one way or the other, but she does bring up a good point.

"This place has zombies too?" I raise an eyebrow at the casually dropped admission that Gensokyo has its own host of the undead.

Naomi, on the other hand, blushed when the miko called me the artist's boyfriend. It's not like that isn't true if you take it in the literal meaning, and there's certainly evidence to back up what the miko really meant. ...And then the artist's face blanched. Her discomfort, if not fear of being around or in crowds is bad enough as it is. Make the crowd a zombie mob and she'd either piss herself or break down sobbing. Either way, she gets off me, stands up, then picks me up like I'm some kind of oversized stuffed animal before walking over to Reimu. "Lead the way!" She's maintaining composure well enough at least.

It was a mutually agreed idea that sticking around in a zombie-infested graveyard when there weren't any fragments around was more trouble than it's worth, so our valiant armpit-exposing miko decided to take us directly to the village, where we might hear of other fragment-related anomalies, after making a point of detouring around the Myouren temple.

...Come to think of it, I kinda vanished on Akyuu. And Keine. ...And Byakuren. I can just apologize to the first two, but if the monk thinks I'm the fragment that swore itself to her, odds are good it'll take some time and possibly a fight to sort it out.

Did I mention that I'm not looking forward to that last one?

"Alright, we're here. Though you might want to put your spook of a boyfriend down before we get too far in. The villagers might be desensitized to youkai-based weirdness, but your carrying him might leave a weird first impression." A bit of sound advice coming from the miko, who talks about the whole thing as though it were no more interesting than the weather. ...Though to her, this probably isn't that interesting.

Naomi sets me down before we get too close to the thick log walls of the human village, though she shoots me a glare that says she hasn't forgiven me just yet, even if she has cooled down some.

"Huh. I guess the humans are more industrious than I thought." Kurumi looks around at all the buildings with mild interest after we pass through the open gate. She then looks to me. "Where are you heading off to this time?"

---

Ahaha, whoops. Ran out of character space on the 3DS. Votes will be in my next post.
>> No. 35133
[X]Visit Akyuu. Aside from apologizing for leaving so abruptly, she might know something.
[X]Keine's both a schoolmarm and the village guardian. If there's anyone to ask about fragments around here, it'd be her.
[X]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.
[X]Write-in

...

Back in the graveyard, the formerly possessed Hourai doll lies motionless at the base of a grave with her scaled down ornate black lance point-first in the ground near her. Several stray spirits begin to gravitate toward her, trying to decide whether to use the vacated vessel or to beat it up. Before any of them could come to a decision, Hourai was suffused in a pink glow before finding that she was somehow awake. Awake, feeling, thinking... but how, exactly? As far as the doll knew, it had its soul literally torn from its body. There shouldn't be anything left, but there is.

She slowly stands up, ignoring the spirits that were inching away from her, and takes an unsteady step toward her lance. Then another, and another until she reached it, at which point she used the lance to support her weight. The doll frowns as it tries to recall what had happened. The broken soul that chased her down wasn't directly responsible, it was that girl waering red and white. "Rei... mu. Reimu." Memories from her previous existence as a mere doll started to surface as she vocalized the name of the miko, and she recalled who that person was.

Not that it was that important. What was important was packing up her lance and leaving before a spirit gets too bold and tries possessing her. Steadying herself, she pulls the black lance out of the ground effortlessly and starts to walk toward the forest, toward what she knew was home. The doll might not have any answers, but maybe her... mother? Is that what her master is? She shakes her head as she walks to Alice's home, wanting answers to sate her newfound curiosity.

Alice had simply dropped the doll-sized dress she was working on and felt her heart skip a beat as she realized that her control strings had reconnected to her wayward doll, and that her precious Hourai was moving independent of her. The puppeteer picked up Shanghai and dashed out of her home, ready to meet her doll halfway.
>> No. 35134
[X]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.

then Akyuu
>> No. 35136
[X]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.

Seems appropiate.
>> No. 35144
Liked the first run. Like this run more.

[N]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.
>> No. 35187
[X]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.
Sort her out. Sort her out thoroughly.
>> No. 35196
[X]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.

You should do something to the battle sequences. They are not that interesting, too long and, let's face it, serve little purpose. It can be resolved much faster to move on to something more interesting - relationships, relationshit, plot, romance, how it all started (remember long ago anon posted a long comment about your problems with fluidity? That's me again. I was there. All the time. Silently breathing in your shoulder, watching you wave that stylus on your 3DS. See what a nice, dedicated guy I am?). I still think you should tell us all of that next time he wakes up.
Besides, I feel like you are swinging dangerously close to that overpowered crap from the first run. With the dude being the strongest, all girls hanging on his arms, when he fights adversary throws meteors at him, he counters with command prompt cheating, continents shift and so on. That time people found it funny, I glazed over it not reading the fights (since they were an unreadable mess) but digged into his romantic success, despite it becoming more and more unreadable as story progressed and Wade acting like he's 13, everybody were satisfied. It was like inevitable allergic reaction. This time this Mary Sue shit will kill the run. And I can already smell it in the air. Wade is already dangerously strong. But is it neeeded? If danger arises, there are everyone to deal with it, don't make him some sort of special dude to save everyone. Aren't we going for a more sentient approach? With him being reasonable strong for self-defence. Like young adults, not pre-teens? Fights are not what I read fanfics for. I read them to try and synchronize with amorous success of main character, sadly trying to compensate this emptiness in real life. Preferably observing my fetishes being fulfilled by main dude, since I won't get a chance to do them IRL.
You, probably like no other author here, need an editor. Not a spellchecker, editor.
Remember that next time you throw Wade in another fight.
I wouldn't bother with this wall if I didn't care or didn't see some potential in you. I find this story a nice hole to relax in from the real life. So it's in my interests it stays pleasuring.
If any anon has some insult to throw at me, feel free to do it. I won't reply, but I will read it. But don't whine when story changes it's flow. You have your chance to comment. It's free speech here.

But I feel the need to say something good. What if that truth bomb will yank the ground under you? I don't want this.
It's so charming seeing Reimu showing off and being cool and cold. She wants to attract his attention so much it's making my heart skip. Bet she is on fire inside. Handsome foreigner makes her scream for attention, of course he is much more interesting than boring hillbillys in the village. That's more like what I'm talking about when I say realistic approach. If you want to continue this way with her character, make Wade "pay no attention" to this. That's a pantydropper for such types of girls.
>> No. 35197
[X]As much as I don't want to, it might be better to sort Byakuren out first.

You should do something to the battle sequences. They are not that interesting, too long and, let's face it, serve little purpose. It can be resolved much faster to move on to something more interesting - relationships, relationshit, plot, romance, how it all started (remember long ago anon posted a long comment about your problems with fluidity? That's me again. I was there. All the time. Silently breathing in your shoulder, watching you wave that stylus on your 3DS. See what a nice, dedicated guy I am?). I still think you should tell us all of that next time he wakes up. Maybe some memories of his shards, the one from Tokiko in particular.
Besides, I feel like you are swinging dangerously close to that overpowered crap from the first run. With the dude being the strongest, all girls hanging on his arms, when he fights adversary throws meteors at him, he counters with command prompt cheating, continents shift and so on. That time people found it funny, I glazed over it not reading the fights (since they were an unreadable mess) but digged into his romantic success, despite it becoming more and more unreadable as story progressed and Wade acting like he's 13, everybody were satisfied. It was like inevitable allergic reaction. This time this Mary Sue shit will kill the run. And I can already smell it in the air. Wade is already dangerously strong. But is it neeeded? If danger arises, there are everyone to deal with it, don't make him some sort of special dude to save everyone. Aren't we going for a more sentient approach? With him being reasonable strong for self-defence. Like young adults, not pre-teens? Fights are not what I read fanfics for. I read them to try and synchronize with amorous success of main character, sadly trying to compensate this emptiness in real life. Preferably observing my fetishes being fulfilled by main dude, since I won't get a chance to do them IRL.
You, probably like no other author here, need an editor. Not a spellchecker, editor.
Remember that next time you throw Wade in another fight.
I wouldn't bother with this wall if I didn't care or didn't see some potential in you. I find this story a nice hole to relax in from the real life. So it's in my interests it stays pleasuring.
If any anon has some insult to throw at me, feel free to do it. I won't reply, but I will read it. But don't whine when story changes it's flow. You have your chance to comment. It's free speech here.

But I feel the need to say something good. What if that truth bomb will yank the ground under you? I don't want this.
It's so charming seeing Reimu showing off and being cool and cold. She wants to attract his attention so much it's making my heart skip. Bet she is on fire inside. Handsome foreigner makes her scream for attention, of course he is much more interesting than boring hillbillys in the village. That's more like what I'm talking about when I say realistic approach. If you want to continue this way with her character, make Wade "pay no attention" to this. That's a pantydropper for such type of girls.
>> No. 35206
>>35197
>>35196
>You... need an editor. Not a spellchecker, editor.
I disagree at least a little bit with everything else you said.
>> No. 35220
>>35196

And you in turn need to check to make sure you're not double-posting in a story. j/k

Now where do I start... While I hate to open with a comment like this, your own post needs some work. A literal wall of text is a pain to read. Spoilers will be tagged as such, so highlight at your discretion.

That aside, for the fight scenes I can kind of see where you're coming from. I just haven't been as inspired as I was in the past and I've been trying to avoid doing the same kind of over the top thing I did the last time. They are staying, however. The individual fragments are as alive as Wade's core fragment is. They know what it's like to be out in the sun, so they're going to fight for the right to stay out there.

The other reason the story's paced the way it is is because I want to get the first arc done and over with. I've admittedly been horrible about actually posting, but this arc's almost done. The rest of this in-story day, one more Outside cycle, and maybe half a day before it's done. Then it moves on to more lighthearted things such as remembrance and interactions.

Wade being 'dangerously powerful' is funny to me simply because of the fact that it's a strictly relative thing. His strength compared to the other characters is abysmal and poses little to no threat combat-wise. Nearly all of his fragments fall into the same vein, and the only reason Reimu hasn't dealt with things is because she lacked the ability to do so.

>don't make him some sort of special dude to save everyone.

He needs to be saved before that could even start to happen.

---

"Myouren Temple first. The last thing I need is for Byakuren to stumble on me and try to drag me off at a bad time." Fragment 'Faith' pretty much swore itself to her, and from what I understood the monk took care of it well enough in return. She might understand just how damaged that one bit of me was, and took it upon herself to help it recover.

"I guess. I don't see why she'd go around hunting you down, but if you feel you need to sort that out first then go ahead and do it." Reimu probably wanted to just keep going for now and settle things with the various residents later, but sometimes you just need to set things straight. "I'm going to look around in the village square, so when you're done come get me."

With that, she walks off.

One thing does come to mind though. "Naomi, do you mind putting me down? I'm pretty sure I can walk. Or drift." I can't really go anywhere when my friend's carrying me like a ghostly sack of potatoes.

"And have you disappear again? No thanks. Just tell me where this temple is and I'll carry you there." I really ought to have seen that refusal coming, what with my vanishing on the artist for no good reason.

"I don't think I've ever heard of Myouren Temple. What is it?" Kurumi steps up next to Naomi as she carries me toward the structure we just came away from.

"It's a temple for youkai, run by a magician known as Byakuren Hijiri. She tries to teach her followers to be a pious group, but they are youkai in the end..." Tokiko picked up the slack of explaining the temple in the short version. "We might have to deal with a couple followers before we can get to the actual temple."

"They'd seriously attack someone who just wants to come to the temple? Just how backward are these youkai?" 'Deal with' translating into 'fight' seemed like a jump to me, but not to Kurumi. Come to think of it, that might be a logical leap anyone in this place would make. Some people, be they human or youkai, greet each other with danmaku.

The walk along the stone path leading up to the temple itself was pretty uneventful, though I noticed a remarkably large number of fairies and strange disk-like things floating about. I can't imagine why they're not attacking us outside of the fact that we're not flying or opening fire on them. The peace doesn't last though, as someone is sweeping in the middle of the path while shouting various words and phrases that make no sense to me.

Said someone is a teal haired girl with brown, floppy dog-like ears, a white dress that comes down to her knees and a pink coat over the top of that. White socks and black shoes of a make I can't identify complete the outfit. She's currently paying us no mind and is simply sweeping the odd bit of dirt and debris off the path. We're not making an effort to be quiet, so it's not like she can't hear us...

She then looks up and notices our group. "YAHOO~!" Her yelled greeting is loud enough to make me wince, though it seems like no one else was bothered by it that much. "Two ghosts, a vampire, and a bird today? Hm..." She thinks to herself for a moment or two before coming to a conclusion. "Welcome to Myouren Temple! Since you're not shooting at everything in sight, I guess you're guests?"

"You could say that. I'm here to see Byakuren, if she's present." I wonder how long it'd take for the girl to recognize me, assuming she can? Not that I've made that even the slightest bit easier since I'm wearing an outfit that's totally different than the one 'Faith' was using.

"Byakuren? She's present, and I don't think she'd mind having guests. I have to ask one thing though!" Her relatively quiet tone surged back into a cheery near-yell as she came to her question. "Are you two really ghosts?" She points to me first. "You feel wrong, and you" She points to Naomi next. "almost feel like you're not even there!"

"That's probably because they're not." Another woman lands next to the dog-eared girl, and this one seems to have raccoon features, along with a leaf resting on her fluffy brown hair. Her dress consists of earthen colors, she wears what appear to be large pair of pince-nez glasses and has a notebook and a bottle of ink strapped to her right and left wrists, respectively. "Greetings, I am Mamizou Futasuiwa, and I happen to live around here." She looks me dead in the eye as she says her next piece. "You don't look exactly the same, but you seem to be similar to that spirit fragment that was hanging around Byakuren not too long ago. She's gotten a little worried about its absence."

---

Hate stopping in the middle of an update, but maybe if I just get it out there I can continue sooner.
>> No. 35500
Alright folks, I've left you all hanging for far, far too long. So long that I'm not sure this story has anyone left who's interested in it.

That's why I'm going to go ahead and ask a simple question that determines whether I go ahead and keep trying to write this, or quit and just tell you all what would happen.

Is there anyone here who wants to see this story continue?
>> No. 35501
>>35500
I want to see it continue, why would I not? It's bad enough that Wintertime Alchemist got dropped.
>> No. 35502
>>35500

I would like to see it continue with more regular updates.

Get back to writing Wintertime Alchemist fagget. Stalking EX-Rumia is the best
>> No. 35503
I don't mind seeing this continue.

I'm sure some would rather your story on at update too.
>> No. 35504
I want to see it continued
>> No. 35505
Thank you, anyone who posted and let me know. I think I needed to hear it before I can make a serious attempt.

WA might be a little harder. I stopped working on it because I had no idea what I was doing with it and wasn't sure if Ivan was progressing backward as a character rather than forward.

...

"Spirit fragment? Like those weird ghosty things that everyone started dropping when shot at a while back?" Kyouko's boisterous voice was still an assault on the ears, but she's got passion at least.

"No. These spirit fragments are all small chunks of the same spirit, broken apart through unknown means and scattered for no discernible reason." Tokiko's response was pretty methodical in tone, though she was quick to correct the excitable girl.

"Oooooooh! I still don't get it, but I'll accept that!" ...I get the feeling that this poor girl might not understand spiritual things that well.

That did get Mamizou's attention, however. "Wait, all those spirit fragments were born of one person? There were about a hundred of them originally! Even a youkai couldn't withstand the kind of damage required to split their soul down that far." Unsurprisingly, Mamizou seemed rather surprised by the casually dropped comment about my true nature. ...Not that Tokiko explicitly said that all the fragments are me, but the tanuki is a smart enough woman that she should be able to figure it out on her own.

"I don't think anyone could actually answer that one. Tokiko and I are just here to help Wade here get himself back together into one person again." Kurumi chimes in while smacking one of her ears with a cupped hand for some reason. "Man, you've got a loud voice, tealy."

"Tealy?" It takes the dog-eared girl a moment to figure out that the vampiress was talking to her, but something suddenly occurred to her. "Oh right, I haven't introduced myself! I'm Kyouko Kasodani, and this is Mamizou Futatsuiwaa!" She introduces herself first, then her friend.

Said friend, now identified, cringes from the most recent bout of shouting before speaking. "Ouch... anyway, that's a good thing. Most of those fragments were only able to keep going because they fed off the desires of others. There's one thing that doesn't make sense to me though." The tanuki looks me square in the eye before speaking her piece. "Only an exceptionally strong youkai could withstand that kind of spiritual damage, but none of the fragments I've seen have had so much as the presence of a fairy up until recently. That means you're either a lesser youkai or human."

"I am..." I start, then slowly trail off as I'm hit with the sudden realization that I'm not quite human anymore since I don't have a physical body with me right at the moment. "Well, I was a bog standard human before all this."

"You were dashed to bits and you're still there somehow? That's impressive! I don't think any youkai would go that far!" Kyouko's enthusiasm is starting to get a wee bit unsettling.

"Human, huh?" Mamizou's response was much more subdued. She stands there and thinks for a moment before speaking again. "...Hm. Actually, there might be an answer to that question."

"The sheer impossibility of the scenario made it possible." Tokiko tosses out the supposed answer to the question Mamizou hadn't even vocalized.

"Exactly. Gensokyo is the land where things considered impossible by the outside world go to live their lives in peace. You're a lucky boy then, Wade. Get Byakuren sorted out and use your second chance for something good." She then grabs Kyouko by the arm and starts to drag her off. "And you, I think I need to talk to you about not shouting in people's ears."

"Awwww!" Was all she got as a response from the dog-eared girl.

"That was..." Naomi trailed off as she tried to figure out what just happened.

"Just ignore it, and let's move on." Kurumi grabs both my artist friend and I and pulls us both along, while Tokiko drifts along with us.

...

We reach the temple itself in a matter of minutes, and I have to say it's one of the more unorthodox ones I've ever seen. The thing looks like someone took a giant boat, cannibalized the parts used in making it, and turned the whole thing into a place of worship.

...Worship. Oi.

That aside, the end result is something that's both grand and bland at the same time. Something that draws your eye, makes the average person go 'eh' and walk off to go look at something more interesting. Like women. I'm kinda blessed in that regard. I have no idea what I'm going to do once I've got a physical body and a complete soul again, but one self-apocalyptic scenario at a time.

Anywho, we don't meet anyone else on the way to the temple, and while there are youkai inside it doesn't look like they're too interested in us new people. All except one tiger-ish looking woman, who's approaching us with an apprehensive look on her face. "Welcome, is there anything I can help you with?"

"There sure is. Is the head of the temple in? this guy-" Kurumi points to me with her thumb. "-has some unfinished business with her that he wants to get out of the way before he moves on."

The woman, who I actually recognize as Shou, looks to me and nods. "I'm sure Byakuren has some equally unfinished business with you as well. Come on, I'll take you to her." With that, she turns around and starts walking off to a point deeper inside the temple, with us following close behind her. "Byakuren's been pretty worried about you, 'Faith'. She, and the rest of us, honestly thought you vanished for good."

"About that... First off, my real name is Wade. That 'Faith' bit was probably because the fragment you found only remembered or held a limited amount of information in it. As for the vanishing thing, that's because I managed to reconnect to my physical body and was temporarily returning to it." I launch into a short set of corrections that should hopefully clear things up fairly quickly.

"Seriously?" Shou looks to me and raises an eyebrow, but doesn't press the matter just yet. ...I get the annoying feeling that I'm going to have to repeat my explanations a lot, and start planning out an easy to repeat explanation that's both short and believable. "Well, it's good to know you have a real name at least. I'd leave the explanations until we get to Byakuren, just so you only have to tell us once."

"That's kind of the plan..." I speak with some level of resignation.

"Repetition is inevitable at this point." Tokiko puts a comforting hand on my shoulder as she succinctly points out what I had just thought of for myself.

"That's gotta suck. You've been spread out so far and interacting with so many people too." Kurumi unintentionally rubs salt in the proverbial wound.

As much as I hate to say it like this, but I never asked for any of this.

Of course, my very minor monologue left me vulnerable to having my head planted squarely between a pair of large, soft, bouncy things belonging to the head of the temple, Byakuren Hijiri. "Is that entirely necessary?" Shou immediately starts trying to pry me off of the monk the moment she got the chance.

Byakuren, who seems to have lost her composure temporarily, regains it relatively quickly. "My apologies, though it is rare that someone comes back from disappearing entirely." Sheesh. For someone who's supposed to be pious, this woman has such an incredibly sexy, motherly body.

"It appears that Wade did not cease existing so much as the collective fragments that make up his current incarnation moved back to his physical body." Shou, thankfully, decides to give me a break for this encounter. "He appears to be in no real danger at the moment."

"That is indeed wonderful news. I do worry about what will happen once you are complete again. At no point in my life have I ever encountered someone as broken as you, let alone someone in the process of recovering." Byakuren hasn't really given anyone else so much as a chance to talk as she focuses on me, which makes it quite clear that she has some form of attachment. "Ah, Shou, do you think it's possible for Nazrin to detect his component fragments?"

"Actually, I can already detect them on my own. Retrieving them is the hard part." Not quite as much as it used to be though, since I've got so many people on my side and I can actually fight a little myself. I take a moment to shoot a side glance at Shou, who merely shrugs in a 'That's just how she is' sort of way.

"Is that so? Well, if you do need assistance I would be more than happy to provide it." This woman is the head monk of a Buddhist temple?

"I think I'm fine for now. I've got Kurumi and Tokiko here helping me out, and Reimu once we head out." While having her or one of her helpers along might be nice, at the same time I'm worried about how Reimu would react to the idea of having to work with more people. Especially ones who seem like they're going to be troublesome.

"It seems you're in good hands then. I would still like to see you when you're complete again, so make sure to return when you can." I get the feeling that I might... do something. Not sure what.

Anywho, that's that taken care of, and it was far less painful than I could have imagined. That just leaves the obligatory 'where to next?' question.

[x]Check Hakugyokuro
[X]Check Heaven
[X]Check Youkai Mountain
[X]Write-in (Because at this point I've probably forgotten an area or two and you might remember better than I.)
>> No. 35506
[x]Check Hakugyokuro

One is as good as any other, so...
>> No. 35507
[x]Check Hakugyokuro

What areas did we cover already? That'll help in making a list of areas not covered and not on the list.

As for WA, I couldn't tell of any character decay, though hopefully you'd use this time to make a plan before resuming it.
>> No. 35508
[X]Check Hakugyokuro

Why not?
>> No. 35549
>>35507

Dug through the first thread, found this list that I've updated so it's relevant.

Scarlet Devil Mansion Completed
The Human Village Completed
Myouren Temple Completed
Miko's Dojo - Unstable
Marisa's House/Alice's House Completed
Eientei - Unstable
Hakugyokuro
Moriya Shrine
Heaven

Unstable locations are where you may find just one fragment loitering around, none but get a solid lead on where it went, or multiple fragments. This late in the main story though, there aren't that many left to locate since the fragments are not unlike rocks clumping together in an asteroid belt to form a planet.

---


The trip out of the temple was uneventful due to the fact that no one bothered myself or my group as we made our way out, and we in turn did not disturb any of the youkai milling about doing their own thing. It might have been possible to get information out of some of these people, but at the same time it was a needless distraction since I can sense where the other bits of me were to a decent degree. Enough to tell where they are, though I wish I could gleam more from it than that. Like what they are, what they can do, ect.

That and there was the fact that Reimu was waiting patiently outside the shrine for us to get back to her so we can just get on with it. I happen to share her sentiment though, so it wasn't that big a deal to me.

I decided to let my eyes wander to Naomi, who's been stuck in this scenario with no real chance to do anything. Heck, as much as it pains me to admit it she's more a liability than a help at this stage. ...Which is kind of funny because I'm pretty much in the same boat she is, just a little further upstream. At the very least I can fight reasonably effectively. "Hey, Naomi. How're you holding up?"

The artist perked up when she noticed that I was addressing her. "Okay, I guess. Why the sudden interest?"

"Because you got dropped into this mess with even less time to adjust than I've had, and I've been worried since you've arrived here." I mean, I only dropped the truth of what's been going on with me so far as I know on her, Marine, and Ben all of a sudden, all of whom managed to swallow that without much trouble. Then there was the floating about bit. After that was seeing what I had described for herself for the first time. I'm not sure how she's managing.

"Kinda funny hearing that from you, since I've been even more worried about you than before." She's walking along rather than drifting like I am, which makes me somewhat curious. Is she able to walk without floating despitebeing a ghost-like entity just because she hasn't had time to realize it yet?

"You're pretty hard to phase for a human!" Kurumi butts into the conversation without warning, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. "Especially an Outsider... Well, not like I've heard too much about those aside from the fact that they're typically free game past a certain point, but you're kind of a ghost thing anyway so that's irrelevant."

"Free game?" The artist parrots back as we move onto the main road that leads into the village proper.

"The border that separates Gensokyo from the Outside isn't perfect. Sometimes humans fall in and are preyed upon by youkai to keep the village population intact while allowing us to maintain our existence." Tokiko, clearly being someone who's more knowledgeable about things than anyone else in our merry little band, chimes in. "We youkai aren't as concrete as you humans. We need to reaffirm who and what we are to stay as we are every now and again."

"Plus there's the fact that Outsiders who actually survive the trip to the Human Village help things along there too. Yukari explained it as expanding the gene pool or something complicated like that." Reimu rejoins us once we've gotten partway to the town square. "You and the spook here are safe though. Partly because you're spirits right now rather than flesh and blood humans, partly because you're with me. No youkai's dumb enough to take me on twice if they can avoid it, and a lot more would rather fly the other way than cross me."

A fact that can be attested to as both Tokiko and Kurumi cringed.

"Anyway, Wade." The red-white speaks my name to grab my attention. "Where's the next fragment at?"

"Give me a minute..." I stop in place and try to listen for them. For some reason the more fragments I pick up the less sensitive I am to any stray ones, though one might argue that that might also have to do with the sheer amount of baggage I've been picking up in the form of vulgar spirits. Still... "There's not many left. I can feel one hanging around Hakugyokuro..."

Reimu facepalms as she hears the first option. "That's going to suck. Picking out a spirit fragment is going to be like pulling a needle out of a needle stack."

"Yuyuko Saigyouji should be able to help, shouldn't she?" Tokiko looks to the shrine maiden as she offers her point.

"Yes, but she's almost as bad as Yukari in how whimsical she is. Plus she likes to play dumb to make things more interesting." A point that is quickly refuted by the miko. "Anywhere else?"

"There's one off in Eientei, but it's on the move." On the move and quite large at this point, but I can't tell if it's because it's been successful at absorbing its kin, amassing vulgar spirits from the large number of rabbit residents, or is somehow applying more mass to itself.

"Which means it's probably wandering around in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. I'd rather have you check for it later than try to dive in after it." Reimu seems to like this option even less than the last one. She then looks to Naomi... "Is he as bad about picking bad places to stay as a full person as when he's a bunch of fragments?"

"Nnnnnnot quite that bad, but he had a pretty caustic relationship with his mother that he was slow to get away from." The artist is pretty quick to respond to the causal question, though I was kind of hoping that this wouldn't come up.
"Huh. How old is he?" The miko seems to have gotten rather distracted now that her curiosity has gotten the better of her.

"There's two strong ones hanging around Youkai Mountain..." I decide to butt in rather than let the conversation go that route without a fight.
"Yeah, yeah, we'll get to those." Reimu just waves it off rather than address it this time.

"Eightteen." The artist replies simply.

"Huh." Reimu stops to think that over for a moment. "Not like I have any frame of reference as to why that's a bad thing. I don't recall having parents, and I've been the Hakurei shrine maiden all my life."

"Wait, what?" Naomi's response is quite a lot swifter.

"There's one weird feeling I've been getting too lately. Like there's a really strong fragment that's both everywhere at once and nowhere at all." Literally. I can hear it everywhere, but pinpointing it is impossible. ...Hang on, 'Faith' kept notes about this. "Reimu, where is Miko's dojo exactly?"

"Eh? It's in a pocket realm known as Senkai. Why? Is there a fragment there?" I guess she wasn't paying attention or it didn't click to her.

"I can't think of another reason as to why I can't pinpoint this one fragment, but always feel like it's close by." I can't feel any more outside of that, though now that I think about it the ambient interference might also have something to do with why I'm having a hard time with this.

"Hang on, what's this about you having no parents?" Naomi tries to pull the conversation back over to where it was originally going.

"Hold on a minute." Though Reimu keeps it from drifting back for the time being. "Senkai can be accessed via cracks, but I don't know how to get to it myself. The one time I went there it was Miko who invited me in.

"Meaning we can't actually get at that one." I feel slightly disappointed at that possibility.
"For now, anyway." She goes back to Noami to continue their previous conversation. "There's not a whole lot to say about it. I've always been provided for in some manner or another, plus I've kind of accumulated a family over the years." She then looks to me once more. "Hakugyokuro sounds like the least painful option out of the bunch, but that's not saying a whole lot."

"What, I get to lead with my instinct this time?" I also can't help but notice that she's not really taking the lead this time, unlike pretty much every single other time we've gone to a new location.

"Eh? Well, why not." Rather than take my question as an incentive to get out front and lead, she simply chooses to let me do the leading.

Feeling somewhat defeated, I start to drift off in the general direction of Hakugyokuro, though Kurumi and Tokiko both quickly take places at my sides. "I figure you're going to need some support to last long enough to get there, so we'll back you up!" The former says this to reassure me, and the latter nods. Reimu and Naomi take up the rear while chatting, and with that we're off.
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