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86520 No. 86520
Hey, Anon, how's it going? I have been readin' so many CYOAs / LAs that it reignited my Inner ZUN and I couldn't help but want to give it a try myself. This is probably going to be short, as I don't have much planned beyond the Prologue and Act I one planned. Still I hope to have fun with you all on this, so how about it yeah?

---

A New World Fool, Pursuing My True Self?

Prologue - God or Devil Be BORN?!

A Touhou LA by J to the E

---

A wiseman once said that the gods did not wish for Man to throw His life away, no matter how deeply disappointment should wound His heart and despair strip him of His wings, but rather Man must submit and continue to suffer anew. To that end, Man was given "Hope" that with every breathe He took: a chance still existed; a chance would come, if only He could take one more breath to live just a little longer. Indeed, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs Man's torment, but is it not so that to live is to "Hope"?

Surely, it must be so, and at this very moment, alack, something is interrupting your capacity to "Hope".

You move, arms floundering, an infant newborn clawing at the darkness tangible, a substance that gives at your desperate struggle. Inhale, a mistake, and you discover it fills you so, but foreign and unwelcomed. Cold. The queer thought echoes at the farthest reach of your consciousness...

Mayhap, are you not drowning?

Opening your eyes, watery sight comes to you in a blur of colors. Up and down: it seems all the same, a coloration the sublime thinker, "Knowledge", acknowledges to be akin to fire, orange and golden, but that is absurd; one cannot drown in fire. Your very body constricts, a painful timely reminder of the dire situation at hand, expelling bubbles through your burning lungs and throat.

There is not much time left. The world blends into a colorful surreal blur of bittersweet agony and the cold embrace of your very soul knocking on death's door. It would be easy to lose it all and just close your eyes, yet another within will not lie still, "Courage". All beings fight to live and this day, this moment is no different from any other. "Understanding" rouses from its groggy stupor and a clarity of mind and purpose washes over you, encouraging "Diligence" to renew the dying fires of the hearth, for there, above, was a dark shape.

You kick out, hands clawing, ineffectually through "water" as Knowledge reminds you. A token of wisdom it impart to you bemused, perhaps, by your new determination to live on: "Swim". Understanding crows in euphoria, and marshalled forth by Courage fierce, you gain a new economy of motion, aided by the dogged certainty of Diligence. The shape draws nearer and nearer, even as your limbs protest and your vision dims.

Surely...just a little more...you can almost grasp...it.

---

Pt. 1

>> No. 86521
Pt. 2

---

COUGH.

"Phew, fella's finally..."

HURL.

"Kyan! Y-You crazy thing..."

Who? What? When? Where? How? wonders Knowledge, pleasantly surprised by the turn of events, as a violent maelstrom of sensations assault you. Touch. Taste. Hearing. Sight. Smell.

"Onozuka-kun, stand back," says a voice aloud that bewilders Understanding. Understanding understands without prior understanding? Confused contraction threatens to break out amongst yourselves, but the timely intervention of a firm "SHUT THE HELL UP" by Courage quiets the tremors of dissent quickly. An opportunity available, Knowledge rises to uplift you from ignorance. This voice is the voice of a female, specifically a girl's, imperious and cultured. "Grant him a moment's blessing of air, if you would."

"Heh-hehe, you the boss, Yama-sama," the other noise - no - voice joins in, this one a, a --- a woman, sanguine and rich like a diamond happy to be forever in the rough.

Understanding struggles to understand to as Knowledge teaches, giving rhyme and reason to your experience. Courage growls impatiently, wary of the two female things - correction - presences near by, but Diligence reminds dutifully that there is a time and place for all things. For now, you rest in this moment of respite, rolling wetly onto your back, beholding a "sky" unlike any other you have ever seen; the first "sky", perhaps, you have ever known, though Knowledge protests you have seen many more prior to this hour. It is a thing so "far" and "vast", yet something about its color strikes you ill. "Red" clouds and a sky of "Amethyst".

A sky you think should be "Blue" with "White" couds. Just where were you? And this sweet smell - fragrance - flowers?

"It appears the souls are at peace, now. Shinigami, assist it," the girl, Yama, directs, the sound of receding footsteps alerting you to her moving presence. "Away I shall on ahead to the palace to let the other judges know of the connundrum we face; the remainder of the festival will have to wait while we deal with this most pressing mystery. Follow and do not tarry, Onozuka Komachi."

The woman, a shinigami(?), gives a strangled cry, voicing her helpless displeasure, as her steps approach you. Rolling aside at Courage's behest to face the interloper, you make to stand, but unexpectedly collapse under your weight! Understanding is bewildered, but before it can try to understand, Diligence urges Courage to try yet again. Once more you falter, and a frustrated groan exerts itself from your sore throat, while you flop impotently back into the dirt.

The woman enters your sight, towering over you. Instantly, the "air" seems to still to your senses. Red eyes, modest red hair dolled up in short twintails, a "bizzare" glow to her porcelain skin; her white dress and blue yukata overtop clung snugly to her, held in place by a darn brown obi with a large golden coin tied in the center by a chord. "Beautiful" so Knowledge appraises, but more "Frightening" Understanding noted grimly was the scythe she carried, slung effortlessly across her shoulders, bearing a wavy bend to its blade, as a small train of amethyst "wisps" that hovered about that unearthly presence.

Courage cries foul, bearing its fangs! Yes, something; something about her is not natural, but there is something - queer about yourself too. Why is it you cannot stand? Just how was this unearthly "thing" to help you? Could she be trusted?

What shall you do?

[] CHARM
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] ??????

---
>> No. 86522
[X]Acceptance
>> No. 86523
[x] EMPATHY
>> No. 86524
[] ??????
>> No. 86525
[x] Bewilderment
>> No. 86526
[X]PROFIT

[] ??????
>> No. 86528
[X] Empathy
>> No. 86530
[] EMPATHY
>> No. 86531
[x] EMPATHY

feels good man
>> No. 86533
[x] EMPATHY
>> No. 86534
Alright~, Anon, votes are locked in. Commencing with writing. You all almost seriously surprised me going for the ???? response. Still, empathy ain't bad and I assure your thoughtfulness will be rewarded in the future.
>> No. 86535
>>86534

Why are you putting an actual email in the slot?
>> No. 86536
>>86535
So people could, I dunno, email him if they were so inclined?
>> No. 86540
This is kind of bad.
>> No. 86550
File 124249667667.jpg - (350.19KB , 1353x1432 , e1adb057a240232a403be113d8396914.jpg ) [iqdb]
86550
>>86535
because he isn't just some ordinary anime otaku, he's THE anime otaku
>> No. 86564
>>86550
This image fills me with so much rage.
>> No. 86590
>>86550>>86564

It's only YAF, visualized.
>> No. 86595
>>86590

YAF is dead. Long rot YAF.
>> No. 86784
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86784
To the Thread: Well, like one Anon said, I am pretty much only putting up my e-mail out of courtesy. Normally, I'm a fanfic writer, so I enjoy having good constructive feedback or just shooting the breeze with my readers. That said, if it really has everyone that hot and bothered, I'll take it off should it become a problem.

Anyways, let's get on with the update!

---

SYSTEM Update:

[x] EMPATHY

"Enjoy your delicious Machi Machi~"

---

They say "No man is an island unto himself", so said Knowledge to the many. Courage protested, of course, such was its nature to be war-lie, ready for any confrontation or challenge. Understanding, though, was enlightened and felt a curious hope blossom, so too did Diligence agree, for any effort spent was worth doing well. Consensus was achieved and so the last of the many was awakened from slumber, Expression.

Your snarl lightens and fades away, the tension easing out of your body, as you prop yourself awkwardly up into a sitting position. A moment's pause ensues as the shinigami considers you and yourself to her, becoming aware of more things. You are unspeakably miserable: cold and wet, a persistent burning pain is in your side, a numbing dead ache assails you fiercely in your right shoulder, and worse, for some reason you can't seem to see properly out of your left eye. It hurts, pins and needles in your eye, and spikes, drawing a wounded grimace over your face as you reach up to favor the angry source.

Distracting yourself by trying to focus elsewhere, you see Komachi has not broken from her study of you at all. You can't help but imagine yourself akin to livestock being appraised at a rowdy flea market, seeding insidious pangs of outrage. However, you notice there is no hint of malice in her red eyes, but moreso of a wondered curiosity. Feeling guilty, suddenly, of such unreasonable suspicion, you try to apologize only to find your throat dried up, your voice unable to answer your call.

Alas, you must settle for your most genuine hurt expression (easy as cake considering your pathetic state) and a silent plea for her "agape" to manifest. Unexpectedly, it works. The ominous scythe rolled off her shoulders, evaporating into a thin mist thankfully before it could cause any harm, as the shinigami snapped out of her reverie.

"Kyaaa~n!" Komachi cooed gaily, clapping her hands over her reddening cheeks, a perfect match for her hair. "You poor, poor good-for-nothin'; come 'ere, you!"

It works, perhaps, too well, as you are promptly enveloped into her brazen embrace.

"Wa~haha, I haven't felt this way in forever~, and I don't get why either, but just by me lookin' at you, kiddo? Mmm-mm-mmn~! Brings out that departed big sis in me that I didn't think I still had."

You expected to be revolted by such close contact with this abnormal being, yet strangely, you feel at peace, practically comfortable. A hand of hers was rubbing your back, a kind of maternal gesture you had seen before, as she cradled your face close to the crook of her neck. She was warm (not expected) and smelled --- "nice". You did not know how to put it into words at this time, but you can feel your ails fading away.

"There, there. Don't worry 'bout a thing, 'hun! (Please, please~, can I call you that?) You're in good hands, kick back, and leave it all to Machi-nee. I can be pretty reliable too, y'know?"

This person, even though she's a "Shinigami", she's a pretty good fellow. Perhaps, you can trust her to do all right to you?

"Th...anks...M-Machi-nee," so speaks your "voice" for the first time.

So tired...

"Sleep well, 'hun."

---
>> No. 86785
File 124275861088.jpg - (803.86KB , 1000x1026 , 041fedfce4772e8459d8d9a2d4ce0e0f.jpg ) [iqdb]
86785
A cunning man once said, "the best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep." Diligence doubts strongly that it has been an entire night already for such things that concern time were at the top of its laundry list, but the others, and by extension yourself, feel refreshed. Still, you could have done without the most...

"MACHI~! Will you stop doting on IT, and pay attention!?" an irate female - a girl - voice exploded into your hearing, likely crossing several different frequencies in the process. Such was the fury of woman, so noted smugly by Knowledge.

...rude awakening.

Your eyes flutter open. Well, just your one good eye. The other you noticed seems to have been covered over by something, presenting a black blindspot in your vision. Still, it's better than nothing.

Courage cannot help but grumble that once again it's another unfamiliar "ceiling", except this one is brown and has regular shapes and lines running through it. Knowledge, the erudite, could not help but chime in that "that" was, in fact, a true ceiling made of processed materials, e.g. lumber, adding dangerously to the former's rising discontent.

The call of Komachi's voice, thankfully, distracts you from the internal bickering to bigger and more pressing matters. Namely, your gaze turns to spot one fuming Yama-sama, who is directing the mother of all glares of reproach at the smiling shinigami, seated upon the bed by your side, her fingers idly working their way through your hair. It feels oddly "nice".

"Aww~, Eiki-san, I forgot how cute you look when you're mad an' talkin' like a normal person."

At such playful teasing, it was only expected such a highstrung character like her would redden, clutching tightly a golden "tag" of sorts in her, a flat piece of metal or wood cut in an elgongated pentagon. Her appearance matched the voice, an officious young girl in her mid-teens or younger, rather on the short side compared to Komachi. Blue-eyed and green-haired, she wore a distinctive uniform: a combination dark blue, black, and white dress with gold decorations, frills, and ribbons of white and red. A crowned, 5-point, blue and white hat, featuring a golden pentagonal emblem inscribed with a symbol akin to "The Golden Scales", topped off her modest length of hair.

"That's Yamaxanadu Shikieiki-sama to you!"

She was a long ways off from a grown buxom beauty like the shinigami, yet you could not help but be hypnotized by her most striking feature: her enthralling legs, left dangerously exposed by her short skirt. Like in a dream, you can sense the white silken thigh-high clad devils stringing you along on a siren's call, daring you to bury your face and paw at that delightfully sinful flesh. Oh thank heavens for high heels!

"A-And what are you looking it, y-you thing?!" Shikieiki yipped, turning an even dark shade than before.

Oops, perhaps, you were staring a bit too intently, though now you also notice her red painted nails, the lipstick, and the extra dash of light makeup on her countenance. You wonder if she had been on her way to impress someone? A party, maybe?

"Wahaha, easy there, tiger~," Komachi laughs, ruffling your hair. "You're a little too soon to be thinkin' of takin' on a Yama, but Machi-nee admits you got good taste for being able to spot her good points."

Now, it was your turn to be embarrassed. You had not expected your voyeuristic lapse to be so transparent, not that you made much of an effort to hide your appraisal. At least the shinigami was enjoying your blunder, so it was not a complete letdown, right?

"Oooohhhh! ENOUGH," Shikieiki roars; her patience having flown the coop.

You wouldn't think such a small slip of a girl could produce such a titanic volume, overwhelming, like the heart of an exploding volcano, save it was directed at a singular target. Komachi keels over off the bed with a weak gurgle, sprawling onto the floor in an undignified mess: her rear angling into the air, drooling from the mouth, and blank eyes, a clear indicator she was out cold. Who would have thought that shouting at someone could knock them out cold? Yamaxanadu Shikieiki was much more formidable than her girlish looks and stern frown.

Though you can imagine, she would look much prettier with a smile and a little red on her face.
>> No. 86786
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86786
The whoosh of an implement cutting through the air snaps you to from your reverie to find yourself face to face with her golden tag. Presently lying down on your back in some manner of raised bed, and woefully helpless to move beneath her piercing blue eyes, you can't help but wish for Komachi's magnanimous cheer to shield you.

She speaks to you plainly, "Now that that incorrigible girl is out of the way, I believe, you and I have matters to discuss, thing."

"Thing"? Try as you might, you can't help but bristle openly at such a word. You. You weren't a "Thing". You were... Wait, just what are you, anyways?

"But I would be in remiss if I did not introduce myself properly. Welcome, O Souls of Many to One, to the Palace of Paradise in Higan. I am Yamaxanadu Shikieiki, the Judge of Paradise."

"Hi-Higan? Jud-ge?" you stutter roughly in reply, still unused to your own voice.

She withdraws her tag, pursing it before her lips as if it were a fan, "In laymen's terms, you are in hell, and I, a yama, am the official in charge of ascertaining your worth in the grand scheme of the karmic wheel."

"H-Hell? So does that mean-"

"Yes and no. You are quite alive."

Well, that was a relief, you think.

"Yet, you should be dead."

You make a face, understandly bewildered by her seemingly thoughtless remark.

"Not that I wish for your death mind you," Shikieiki closes an eye, gazing at you in a sidelong manner, as if studying a bizzare animal, "for it was I, who tended to your wounds personally...mostly because of Komachi's incompetence. Imagine that: a law of nature that makes shinigami wholly incompetent at saving lives, which brings us to you, O Many Souls - One."

The laws of nature? What's that got to do with you?

"The way to Higan is guarded, in a sense, by the Sanzu River. The Law dictates that the living are not to pass and the dead will perish as surely as the living into ignominy eternal. Only through the aid of a psychopomp like Komachi may any ford the river, which is where you come in."

Even Knowledge had to admit a feeling of impending doom at her words.

"Nothing comes out alive from the Sanzu River, and yet, YOU. You were swimming in that very river; your struggle spitting in the face of the Laws. You reached us, grabbed onto Komachi's boat, and hauled yourself right in. I expected you to expire many a time, and indeed, I felt strongly that I should have ordered Komachi to throw you back into the Sanzu. Know that the river had become impossibly deep the moment you climbed aboard, but it's true length, of which only Shinigami and Yama can perceive, had not changed."

"And what does this river have to do with me?" you ask her, uncomfortably.

...Whoa. Maybe you were just imagining things, but did Shikieiki just wink at you? Or was that a glimmer of curiosity or excitement just now in her eyes?

"Nothing should be born from the Sanzu River, O Many Souls - One. It is not meant to give life; only to take it away. Even then upon arriving here in Higan, the scent of the blooming spider lilies should have spirited you away shortly after should you have been anything less than extraordinary. The very essence of the Netherworld weakens the living and seduces them to the sweet embrace of death. Aye, perhaps, you are an abomination, truly."

Courage growls in simmering anger at the audacity of the Yama, even Understanding finds it hard to believe whatever it was she was hinting at...

"My, I am appalled with astonishment you have not asked why I address you as such," Shikieiki raises a brow at you, "You are much more carefree than I thought, for a crippled one-eyed, one-armed scumbag."

That's it. This time her barb is too much to resist!

What shall you do?

[] CHARM
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] ??????

---

System: Wow, I really write a lot. Maybe too much for this medium. Anyways, let's see what you do next, Anon.
>> No. 86790
[x]Empathy

We're a freak with feelings.
>> No. 86792
[x]Empathy

I'd leave the email out if I were you.

You're more likely to get feedback in the thread itself than having a person on this site email you.
>> No. 86793
[x]Empathy
>> No. 86797
[x]Empathy

A single tears falls from our good eye.
>> No. 86802
[x]Empathy
>> No. 86803
Well, I'll be damned; seems we got an unanimous vote this time, and pretty fast too. Guess I'll lock things here and proceed with writing~.
>> No. 86837
[X] CHARM

Because we totally can with just one eye and one arm.
>> No. 86916
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86916
To Anon: On the subject of the command "Charm", honestly, fellas have a little more confidence. Charm is a pretty big loaded word, and I think ladies can appreciate a one-eyed, one-armed fella; it all depends on how you sell yourself, whether you're a badass, intellectual, etc. Yes, you're damaged, crippled, blah-blah, but it doesn't have to be a handicap, yeah?

That said, I don't recommend spamming any command just because "because". You will get bad ends if you make stupid choices, no duh. In fact, some commands may fail once we get into the "real" game and you all can see your parameters / stats. Thus, you don't get the maximum benefit out of your encounters.

Read the situation, who's involved, etc., and do what you think is best. So far, I think, you all have picked great choices, and you'll be rewarded for them for sure. Do not fear; we'll get more general commands as the adventure develops.

For now, on with the campaign!

----

SYSTEM Update:

[x] EMPATHY

"Hnn, a surprisingly profound choice~"

BGM Load: "Reverie", Shoji Meguro

---

"You. Aren't you ashamed at all?" you begin, driven by a newfound strength that you did not believe you possessed. Even the mighty, imperious Judge of Paradise is taken aback quite literally by the sudden development, her cheeks coloring in flabbergasted shock, as you rise from the bed.

The blankets draped over you give way to reveal the full breadth of your condition. A collection of meticulously wound bandages holding together medicinal cover your torso and throat, stained dark and black in odd spots. Indeed, you spot more on your working arm, offering just the bare minimum of movement, and you can imagine there was more adorning your head that might have made you look some terrible victim of burning. Still, you swing your legs over, clad in shredded hakama, thankfully, while being mindful not to step on the still unconscious red-haired shinigami, as you seat yourself on the edge of the bed.

Sitting here, you cannot help but feel so pathetic and weak, but to turn back now would damage you forever. ...though, you make a note to at least thank the Yama once this is all over. You breathe deeply, gathering your very trembling soul, for what lies ahead, and speak:

"It's true. I don't know what I am... Who. I am. I understand you are - a judge, and I sense, it means you have a duty to judge all who come to stand before you - equally, fairly, unbiased, and unfeeling --- but what is the Law without compassion? This I know, a me knows, to be injustice. There can be no mistake that right this very second, here, now, I exist. I am trying my best...to live, even though I know not what the next second, much less tomorrow brings. I am not a THING. I am not an ABOMINATION."

A tear, unbidden, falls unbeknownst to yourself.

"Tell me: what is it that makes me so different from you? Can we not come to understand each other? Why? I bleed. I cry. I tire. I. FEEL. I breathe! ...And still I have hope to live."

You frown, as much from the turmoil of conveying your feelings and the uncomfortable dampness building in the bandage that covers your bad eye, irritating you.

"I am just like you, Yamaxanadu Sikieiki, and I don't deserve to be treated any less."
>> No. 86917
File 124286208460.jpg - (372.73KB , 1000x810 , 3178554.jpg ) [iqdb]
86917
A moment's still reflection passes, and the strength you once possessed ebbs and flows away. You sigh wearily, breaking eye contact with the stricken Yama, speechless and wide-eyed, at your bold, perhaps, poignant words. Speaking at such lengths, though, has made you thirsty and a sudden growl, audible, from your stomach also reminds you of your hunger. Diligence is aghast with horror to know that you were so badly neglected.

Such an honest reaction, unintended, nevertheless seemed to be just the medicine the situation called for... Laughter pricks your ears, not something polite and controlled mind you, but boisterous celebration, the kind that brings tears to one's eyes and a ruddy red to one's face. Looking up, you are stunned to see that it was coming from the small frame of one Yamaxanadu Sikieiki, virtually on the verge of keeling over as she clutches at her side.

Somehow, the Yama, normally so proper and upright you imagine, seen like this also suits her, too.

"Wh-Why, I, ah ha ha ha, I don't, ha, know wh-what to say," she wipes away a stray tear from her watery eyes, as she attempts to calm herself. "To think I would forget one of my sensei's greatest lessons."

The blue-eyed girl favors you with a beaming smile that you thought, likely, impossible to finds its place on her pretty countenance. Much like her laughter, to see Sikieiki behaving as - Knowledge suggests the word - a "human" was good for her; the sight touches and soothes your weary spirit, like a cooling balm.

"How old and jaded I have become. Thank you for reminding me."

There can be no mistake that her gratitude was genuine. Her fair eyes do not lie. Alas, a saddened gloom soon settles over the bloom of her smile, though, as she pauses, considering yourself, before approaching your beside.

"I --- I know not what I can do to make this hurt any less," Sikieiki hesitates, her expression cringing as if she had tasted fruit bittersweet, "but it cannot be helped: the truth is, you are different from a grave multitude of peoples, including myself and Komachi.

The girl - no, Understanding reproaches you - the woman sits down beside you. She's quite short, just barely coming up to your chest, and yet, there is a palpable weight around her shoulders, as she slumps forward, her air heavy with melancholy. Suddenly, she seemed far older than she appeared, to which Knowledge reminds you sagely that appearances could deceive the mind as surely as words.

"You are the manifestation of souls coming together as one," a dainty hand of hers, unexpectedly, drifts to rest over yours.

Soft, comforting, so small and delicate: Courage is reminded of a child or a doll, but to be who she is now, there must be much more than meets the eye about Sikieiki, certainly. Yet to be so strong also condemns oneself to be apart from others and tastes the cold bitterness of solitude: loneliness, fear, sorrow, expectation, despair, reason, distortion... Eternal.

"So many I dare say that they are infinite in number, and therefore, impossible for me to change. I had no choice but to report your existence to the Bar of Ten Kings. You are an irregularity in the wheel, and worse, you appeared on the eve of our most glorious of celebrations: THE Enma is here Himself this fortnight, and it did not take long for word to reach His ears. The Great King has called for an emergency meeting to decide your fate, and I..."

She frowns, biting on her lip, as her entire body abruptly goes taut. Silence reigns as you wonder what matter it is that causes her heart such turmoil, and then, the answer becomes apparent. Sikieiki turns to look you in the eye, her expression earnest, open, and so brave that even you are taken aback by her boldness.

"Please, would you allow me the honor of being your barrister? I am out of practice, but...I could never forgive myself if I allowed you to face them all alone with no one to even stand by your side."

This is a matter of grave importance, clearly, not just for yourself but for Sikieiki too.

What shall you do?

[] Accept
[] Deny
[] Write-in?
>> No. 86923
[x] Accept
[x] "What should I expect from this trial?"
>> No. 86924
[x] Accept
[x] "What should I expect from this trial?"
>> No. 86925
[x] Accept
[x] "What should I expect from this trial?"
>> No. 86935
[X] Accept.
[X] "So what should I expect from this trial?"

It seems this guy is a version of Overlord Baal born from neutral and good souls rather than evil.
>> No. 86937
[X] Accept.
[X] "So what should I expect from this trial?"
>> No. 86952
Once again, you surprise me with your fastidiousness, Anon. Very well, votes locked in. Comencing with writin'~.
>> No. 86953
>>86935
If you think of it that way, we could have just as much evil in us as there is good. Should we have picked charm or intimidation, we might have seen it, but we're already off on the empathy route, so we can only really get a feel for our personality later, IF we choose one of the other two actions.
>> No. 87080
Updates?
>> No. 87108
>If you think of it that way, we could have just as much evil in us as there is good. Should we have picked charm or intimidation, we might have seen it, but we're already off on the empathy route, so we can only really get a feel for our personality later, IF we choose one of the other two actions.

I don't think we're choosing an 'action' with the UPPERCASE responses, but rather to which personality we are temporarily delegating the decision-making power.

Not that we're limited to the ones we've thus far been provided.

>"You are the manifestation of souls coming together as one [....] So many I dare say that they are infinite in number, and therefore, impossible for me to change.

When Siki says this she is accounting for the potential of a write-in, which might take you anywhere.

Standard options are probably meant as what they are.

Decisions are made democratically by a vote of its constituent identities, even though the number of these identities is in constant flux and inconsistent in their judgment, attention, and motivation. Almost all of these identities remain undifferentiated (that is, anonymous) and inertial until they are called on to act on behalf of the rest of the composite.

Mark 5:9--"My name is Legion, for we are many."
>> No. 87115
>I don't think we're choosing an 'action'
'Options'. Sorry about that.
>> No. 87206
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87206
To Anon: Interesting thoughts there. Anyways, here's the update. A lot meatier than I was expecting. Enjoy~

---

SYSTEM Update:

[x] Accept
[x] "What should I expect from this trial?"

BGM Load: "SMILE", Shoji Meguro

---

It was a difficult a choice, but your gut knows the right answer. After all, it was always right here, beside you.

"As you wish," you nod your ascent to the Yama, though Knowledge notes idly that you're starting to accumulate a small piles worth of debts and obligations. Still, it's not like it's a bad thing to owe a favor to this girl-woman now, does it? "I am afraid I won't be of much help in the process; I have already told you all I am aware of about myself."

Sikieiki, though, pays no heed to your slight cynicism. Indeed, she gives another bright laugh, her spirit virtually soaring on wings unseen, as the green-haired Judge bounces off the bed and fixes you with a smile that is, well, inspiring. Whatever weight that had been bothering her was gone, and you suppose you should be proud that even if your body is not whole, your soul can still bridge the gap to another's heart.

"Confidence, my guest; confidence! 'Tis the finest armor of belief and delusion that the soul can manifest for itself."

Now, you cannot help but wonder if that is the really sort of advice an upstanding public servant per say, on cosmic level of things, should be giving out, "Y-Yamaxana-"

"Sikieiki-san will do," she cuts in, slashing her tag at you with a crisp finality that said there would be zero protest on your part. See, Courage is occupied presently, gazing into an empty gourd of sake, longingly, as if it possessed all the answers to life. It was not because Courage was scared, mind you. Absolutely, not...seriously. "In private we are where no eyes and ears watch and listen for my every move, but should the need arise to call upon I in public, then address me as Yama-sama. It would behoove you to confer the same respect and courtesy to the others, as befitting of their standing in life, though champion I will not, such behavior to be foolproof in avoiding the err of faux pas."

"Y-Yes, Si-Sikieiki-san," you reciprocate a touch awkwardly. For a girl you thought who was very much concerned with propriety, you are stunned at how swiftly she has already classified you as a close aquaintence. You must have made quite the impression on her.

"Ah, that's right," the Yama blinks, as if an ephiphany had just dawned on her, "before awaken I shall my shinigami, questions do you have for me, my guest?"

Hnn, such a curious manner of speaking she has; different from how she was but a moment ago. You make a note to ask her about it some other time, but for now, business first.

"Yes. What should I expect from this trial?"

In retrospect, it was an important question to ask, but now, you cannot help but kick yourself a little for dampening the mood. Sikieiki's good cheer wanes as surely as the gibbous moon, and once more, retracts her golden tag to assume that peculiar "Judge" stance you saw earlier, lips pursed, and one eye gazing at you.

"Afraid I am that in spite of this land being my jurisdiction, the office of the Judge of Paradise holds no sway before the entire bar association. I am but an equal before my peers, and the one who stands above us all is the Great King Enma. Judgment will be swift and painless; this you may be certain of. However, few friends of the court may you expect to see this silent night. Sensei and I were regarded as, eccentric, at best..."

She of fair eyes frowns, a tangible thunderhead of barely tamed fury seemingly accumulating about her. You cannot help but stare wordlessly in awe as the chamber darkens, hinting at the power contained within the slip of a girl, one who should not be trifled with.

"And disdained at worst. The other Judges shall we say have long since transcended the bounds of - common - reason. Hard it is to imagine they were even once like you and I; that, ironically, they share the same origin as we..."

Sikieiki leans forward, her bangs veiling her eyes, whispering something that alas escapes your ears. If there was ever a moment you sensed true danger from her, it would be now. All was frighteningly still, bathed in pitch black; the only source of salvation was she, her face framed by the melancholy iridisecence of the golden tag, the meaning of the words inscribed upon its form now apparent to you: "Remorse". Clearly, this girl bears a grudge, bitter resentment buried deep somewhere in her very soul; you are either very lucky or very unfortunate to be granted this insight into her character.

Thankfully, the Yama breaks through her grave reverie, in quite spectacular fashion at that, before anything else could come of it:

"MA~CHI~! WA~KE. UP~!"

You are impressed once again by the power of her lungs and voice, as a gale force blast of wind literally sends the room shuddering. Sure enough, like the dead awakening, Onozuka Komachi, previously indisposed, rises from her "grave" in a dramatic action of limbs, bleary eyes, and drool threatening to escape her succulent lips.

"BLRRURUbrlghrghfragh! Whut! Where?! HA!?" the Shinigami blubbers wide-eyed and a touch disheveled.

Had she really been unconscious this entire time?

"How quaint of you to join us once more in the land of the waking," Sikieiki remarks in conversational tones.

"Ooooo...Eiki-sama, z'at you?" Komachi moans, rubbing a palm to her temple, "anybody catch the license plate on that oni just now? Machi-Machi's head is all kinds of fuzzy, right 'bout now."

It appeared that the Yama's formidable "Warcry" was for more than just show. You wonder what other uses it has, but have the presence of mind to favor the redhead with a sympathetic look. She did suffer first hand, inadvertently, so that you could derive this conclusion, though you can imagine, considering their relationship, that this sort of display was not terribly unusual. Perhaps, Sikieiki was not even as alone as you thought. The big question was whether she realized the truth herself.

"Rise. Shinigami."

"Hu-wha?! Err, uh, y-yeah, 'course."

"A task for you I have," Sikieiki brandishes her tag in a swift cut, making the poor reaper shudder with a faint squeal. You swear you can see tears of helplessness resignation begin to well up upon Komachi's sullen face. She must have been anticipating that she was about to receive some manner of unreasonable, finicky request to evoke such a strong aversion in her.

"Say the word boss."

"Attend to our guest. See that he is bathed, clothed, and fed properly. Send I shall an apothecary to examine him and redress his wounds as needed. In the meantime, I am not to be disturbed in my study. Meet again we shall at the hour of the rooster this night, just before court, understood?"

The shinigami could only stare and nod dumbly in thunderstruck stupefication. Even after Yamaxanadu Sikieiki excused herself politely, Onozuka Komachi stood rooted to the spot, disbelieving, and with a slow, peculiar deliberateness akin to a doll pirouetted on strings, she turns to fix you with the same look.

"Dag gone, 'hun. What did you say to her? I haven't see Siki-tan like that in, y'know, ages! That's her HAPPY! C'mon, spill you gotta cut Big Sis Machi a break here, please? Pretty please?"

Well, at least you have something to make up for idle conversation in the meantime.
>> No. 87207
File 124321744663.jpg - (593.62KB , 1778x821 , cdbb45a43a1d5b1bc80434fcbcb8dade.jpg ) [iqdb]
87207
BGM Load: "Old Wise Man", Iwasaki Taku

---

The next few precious moments of respite pass by in a blissful blur between waking and dreaming for you. Even now, sitting here idly on a bench in a vast hallway lit by paper lanterns, you find your circumstances to be too good to be true, a long lucid fantasy that stubbornly refuses to end. Still, you cannot complain for want of company.

For someone whose job it is to ferry the dead, as you found out from the woman no less, Komachi was a surprisingly chatty and welcoming host. You need not try to carry on a conversation, as the sanguine "grim" reaper was full of tale tales and humorous anecdotes to fill the silence; a fact to which you are grateful. There was not much to be said about yourself, after all. Nevertheless, she has taken a liking to you, noticeably, treating you very much like a little brother; your partially censored account of your personal encounter with Sikieiki only serving to endear her more.

The way she said it, "Wa ha ha ha, anyone who can get on Eiki-san's good side does all right by me. See, Machi-nee knew you were a good one, 'hun!"

It was a touch embarrassing, though, having the shinigami mother you every step of the way since some time ago. True to Yamaxanadu Sikieiki's orders, literally, she washed you, clothed you, and fed you. Like a vigilant alpha female, she even stood by and watched as the apothecary appeared after your bath to see you. The poor soul was shaking from head to toe the entire time and was blasted critically without mercy every time Komachi saw a fault in his work, holding the professional very much to the standard of Sikieiki's meticulous work.

An exhausting ordeal, but in hindsight, without her aid, you doubted you would have managed this far, for she has supported you every step of the way. The strain in your body is great. Indeed, you want for nothing more than to embrace sleep once more, but it will have to wait.

Note to self: if - no - when you should survive your latest travail, find some time to thank Komachi, too. The woman was a paragon of compassion and courtesy. She could have teased you and generally made life interesting all the way up until now, but instead, the redhead had grasped the full breadth of your condition right from the get go, likely with no more than a touch. As you recall, a worried frown had crossed her charming complexion the moment she touched your hand, which seemed to corroborate this theory.

Still, you can imagine that she was holding back and would rather have been having a "good time" together with you. Shame, it would have to wait for another time, as Komachi standing apart from you spots a certain someone approaching.

"Yo~, Sikieiki-sama!"

The Yama steps into the light, as ineffable as ever, and raises an eyebrow no less at her shinigami, "Amazed I am at your punctualness. Tell me this: who are you and what have you done to Onozuka Komachi? Are you sure she cannot escape from your diabolical prison? I, for one, would not mind having a temporary scoundrel such as you take her place in the meantime."

Komachi pouts at this, her red eyes watering like a kicked puppy. Truly, Yamaxanadu Sikieiki is a formidable character to be able to resist the psychosomatic assault, for you by indirect contact are literally at the verge of leaping off the bench to comfort the seemingly distraught beauty. Had you not been in the presence of the latter, you imagine, you would acted on the impulse quite helplessly at that... How can any decent man possibly resist, yes?

"Hnnn, 'tis apparent you have chosen a yukata for our guest that finds a happy medium amongst our colors; an apt choice, Komachi. Good. Good, good, good."

Now, the mood does a complete about face as Komachi is positively glittering for joy at receiving such praise. What you do not understand is why it seems to be raining golden coins around her, instead of the usual starry "sparklies" that you would expect normally. And...wow, they are real?

"Come, follow; it is time."

"Don't mind, don't mind, wa ha ha ha ha! Any time, any where with you, boss!" the shinigami gives a proud two-finger salute before attending to you.

What follows you imagine was an eventful trip through the palace, but alas, Diligence took the liberty of turning off the switch of lucidity for you. The full breadth of your ordeal is soon to begin, after all, and in your pathetic state, you would need all your wits about you to survive. Sleep walking a little bit could not hurt, could it, especially with Komachi to guide you - whom is, in fact, holding hands with you at this very moment.

Funny; you feel a touch faint. It must be the heat, yes?

Absently, you note being seated in a chair, and then all of a sudden, everything is brought into sharp focus with the mighty crack of a gavel.

"ORDER! THE HONORABLE COURT COMETH!"
>> No. 87208
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87208
The smell of a fragrant incense hits you a moment later followed by a tide of visual stimuli that almost turns into a complete trainwreck to decipher. Thankfully, the catnap was worth it, allowing you to come to grips with - everything - without degrading yourself into a bewildering outburst. You sat in a vast chamber with a vaulted leading to a singular eye-like skylight that shines down moonlight onto yourself, the yama, and the shinigami, like a "spotlight", so says Knowledge. The central floor is a octagonal eight trigram figure inscribed in relief with an ying and yang dead center where you are.

Candle light and the smoke of the incense burning from huge lion-like cauldrons lends a somber, dark atmosphere to the chamber, where flanking you on all sides, a great breadth away, are the Ten Kings. Each is arrayed around you, occupying their very own bench, none higher or more ostentatious than the other: cool and unassuming. Less could be said for their occupants, however; indeed, Sikieiki had not said a word in jest to you at all, concerning the other judges, for verily so, few resembled a form that could even be called "human".

Beasts, monstrosities, creatures of myth and legend, and "things" not even of flesh and blood. One judge was literally no more than an omnipotent eye and a mass of dark energy that writhed outwards in many tendrils. You would not think it was a yama, if not for the symbol of office that burned brightly in the air above it. Surveying the surreal, almost nightmarish scene, you note that including the Judge of Paradise, there are only two others who could even pass for "human". More strikingly, perhaps, was the game of the courts - so Knoweldge recalls - in full open display before you.

Each yama was accompanied by a personal retuine! Spirits, figures, and things inexplicable are all flocking about them, like common servants and advisors, while their personal honor guard of shinigami in many makes and temperment stood by at the ready. Every one had their own colors, marking them to be in the service of one yama or another.

You cannot help but wince that compared to them Sikieiki herself was a virtual pauper, with no one beside her, save for Komachi and yourself. The only other that came close was a "young" man dressed in outlandish, foreign attire - Knowledges notes it to be a suit - with a taste for black and white that matched his own two-toned hair. He was flanked by two beautous blonde-haired servants(?), sisters or mayhap twins, who are dressed like French Maids in matching outfits of brown and white. Idly, you wonder if he has an issue with color coordination or symmetry, as he seems to staring quite intently at the other judges, making disgusted faces, while occasionally reprimanded by the taller of the two sisters. The shorter one seems to be happy to carry on with him, giggling and pointing.

Speaking of the other passable "human".

"Hmph, as expected of the garbage whelp raised by that equally filthy soft-heart, Masamori," an arrogant masculine voice, so pompous that even you are offended by association. "Once a human, always a human. Unfit they are to be the judges of souls."

He was a massive mountain of a man hidden beneath the humble of robes of a monk, in contrast to his belligerent manner, topped off with a "tengai"-style straw hat that enclosed his entire head in a cylinder. Multiple holes in the front and slits created essentially a grill for him to see, breath, and speak through. In fact, this fellow was seated exactly opposite of you and to the left of the eccentric young man, and his impressive retuine wore the same garb, making them appear as monks from some Zen Buddhist sect.

You recall vaguely that this one, in particular, had been very vocal in prosecuting you. Sikieiki and he had been at a war of minds and words, debating law, technical peculiars, and philosophy at length in fiery rhetoric that escapes, frankly, even Knowledge's learning. It is a failing you will have to correct later. In any case, time has flown, likely hours, thanks to Diligence's toying around yet again, not that you mind terribly; as the Judge of Paradise hinted to you subtly, this entire process was a travesty anyways.

That blantant insult just now, though, was the last straw for Yamaxanadu Sikieiki's infinite patience.

"Dare you to tarnish Sumimura Masamori-sama, my sensei's good name in this high court, Ougi Ichirou?!"

In a flash, she was smoldering rage, causing a stir of murmurs and private whispers from the other judges sitting in, whom had not helped in the matter at all. They seemed to have been content to draw out the battle between the two as long as possible for personal amusement, perhaps, offering only the bare minimum resistence or support. Aye, even Komachi was starting to develop a worried glimmer on her face, which had been curled in a smile the entire time. Looks, of course, were deceiving and one need not look any further than the hands wrapped around her scythe, flexing and unflexing, white knuckled.

She was pissed off, too.

"Think you strong enough to stand in my shadow, girl-child? What nonsense, just like your defense for this abominable abberation!"

You are not exactly sure what hit you, but damn was it cold, taking your breath away quite literally! It was like being swept away in a raging river, no, an all out flood...that guy...was this...yes, Understanding could sense it... Eyes. That Judge Ougi was looking at...YOU.

"WE, this high court demands Proof-of-Life, Judge of Paradise; conclusive evidence that you have been otherwise unable to produce."

If you thought it impossible to see her anymore furious, then you were dead wrong.

"THEN YOU PROPOSE WE MURDER THIS MAN!?"

"'Tis not a Man, Judge of Paradise. This. is. a. THING. It was never alive to begin with! Tear apart this abberant puppet and you shall see the truth that it is nothing more than a vessel, which as of now, spits in the face of Law, delaying due process. The souls trapped within must be set free!"

It seems things have come to a head; the fundamental breaking point. Neither party will budge. If there was ever a time for you to speak out for your own sake, this moment was it. Indeed, many an eye seem to be drifting to you now, including that of the bored, eccentric young man, but unlike the others he seems to be genuinely --- interested.

What shall you do? Choose carefully.

Appeal to...

[] The Bar
[] Ougi Ichirou
[] Sikieiki
[] The Eccentric Judge
[] ????

And...

[] CHARM
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] REASON
[] ??????
>> No. 87210
[x] The Bar
[x]Reason

What is man if not a vessel for souls? I think therefore I am.
>> No. 87217
[x] The Bar
[x]Reason
>> No. 87218
>One judge was literally no more than an omnipotent eye and a mass of dark energy that writhed outwards in many tendrils
Sigma~

>The only other that came close was a "young" man dressed in outlandish, foreign attire - Knowledges notes it to be a suit - with a taste for black and white that matched his own two-toned hair. He was flanked by two beautous blonde-haired servants(?), sisters or mayhap twins, who are dressed like French Maids in matching outfits of brown and white. Idly, you wonder if he has an issue with color coordination or symmetry, as he seems to staring quite intently at the other judges, making disgusted faces, while occasionally reprimanded by the taller of the two sisters. The shorter one seems to be happy to carry on with him, giggling and pointing.
Death the Kid?

[x] Sikieiki
[x] REASON

It's okay, we can tell when we're not wanted. Let us cry for our disfigured self.
>> No. 87222
Their argument is that we are not a single being, but an artificial multitude of beings. We won't be able to convince them of anything by invoking specific sub-identities or personalities: It has to be the expressed will of all the souls we are.

Including Clarence Motherfucking Darrow.

[x] We will speak as one Body to another. We, a collective of souls, to the Court, as a collective of judges.
[x] "We think. Therefore, We are."
-[x] "That the Court refers to Us, that Court addresses Us, that its members even now seethe with fear and loathing as they listen to Us, is tacit admission that we exist as a party of interest, and therefore a being. In the eyes of the Court, We exist."
-[x] If you get no reaction, lighten your hard reasoning with a joke: "I'll have to assume I didn't just disappear to you all just now."
-[x] "The argument brought to Us by one part of the Court, that because Our existence can be broken into Our component existences is a spurious one. Does a man not exist because he can be broken down into cells that still exist? No. Is that same man, strangled in an alleyway, alive because some of his component cells are still alive? Again, the answer is no. Clearly, the property of 'life' or 'existence' is not a commutative one."
-[x] "So it doesn't matter if you graft the body parts into serving as limbs for other people, or clone the line for experimental purposes, or even freeze a man's brain. The man is dead. He has ceased to be. He is an ex-man."
-[x] "In this way, were We to be cut into pieces--bits seemingly more palatable to a more individually-minded worldview--We would die, just as the Man dies when you cut him apart, even if his individual cells yet live on. And then you the Court, acting as a body would rightfully be called a murderer, for you would have willfully killed another being."
-[x] "The fusion of one with the many is not without precedent, figuratively it happens all the time in the living world, in the instance of incorporation."
-[x] "And to address those parts of the Court who refer to Us as an 'abomination' it makes sense that We are hated--of course you think of Us like that--for We are the reminder of your own individually-centered, and therefore unenlightened, nature. No matter how you address yourselves, none of ye possess such hubris as to think of oneself as the Buddha, and of course neither do We, even though We are without doubt that Our nature is a step in the right direction. Yes, We are happy to ride this bandwagon, and We think You should be happy for Us."
-[x] "Finally, if I am wrong, then your 'problems' do not go away, rather they become of another nature. If We are truly an abomination, then none of ye hold any power over Us: How does one judge that which one cannot admit exists? How do you execute a microcosm? How does the reaper's scythe cull a social construct or an idea?"
-[x] "Of course the most horrifying prospect for some you would likely be that it was you who created Us, and though disgusted, feel somewhat responsible for our being. To think: All the souls that slipped through the cracks of your bureaucracy over the eons, the spirits who by will or caprice or in the name of work expedience had an 'accident' and sunk beneath the cloying waves of the Sanzu, never to be seen again. Or so it was thought. But here We are, the sediment of your imperfection, your negligence, your inefficiency, your inattention. You couldn't find the time to judge us then, but now, after serving a sentence of indeterminable length, at the bottom of a lake of tar and ash, a sentence never delivered, never deliberated on, now you allow us our day in Court?"

What chains could bind us?

What cell could hold us?
>> No. 87223
[x] We will speak as one Body to another. We, a collective of souls, to the Court, as a collective of judges.
[x] "We think. Therefore, We are."
-[x] "That the Court refers to Us, that Court addresses Us, that its members even now seethe with fear and loathing as they listen to Us, is tacit admission that we exist as a party of interest, and therefore a being. In the eyes of the Court, We exist."
-[x] If you get no reaction, lighten your hard reasoning with a joke: "I'll have to assume I didn't just disappear to you all just now."
-[x] "The argument brought to Us by one part of the Court, that because Our existence can be broken into Our component existences is a spurious one. Does a man not exist because he can be broken down into cells that still exist? No. Is that same man, strangled in an alleyway, alive because some of his component cells are still alive? Again, the answer is no. Clearly, the property of 'life' or 'existence' is not a commutative one."
-[x] "So it doesn't matter if you graft the body parts into serving as limbs for other people, or clone the line for experimental purposes, or even freeze a man's brain. The man is dead. He has ceased to be. He is an ex-man."
-[x] "In this way, were We to be cut into pieces--bits seemingly more palatable to a more individually-minded worldview--We would die, just as the Man dies when you cut him apart, even if his individual cells yet live on. And then you the Court, acting as a body would rightfully be called a murderer, for you would have willfully killed another being."
-[x] "The fusion of one with the many is not without precedent, figuratively it happens all the time in the living world, in the instance of incorporation."
-[x] "And to address those parts of the Court who refer to Us as an 'abomination' it makes sense that We are hated--of course you think of Us like that--for We are the reminder of your own individually-centered, and therefore unenlightened, nature. No matter how you address yourselves, none of ye possess such hubris as to think of oneself as the Buddha, and of course neither do We, even though We are without doubt that Our nature is a step in the right direction. Yes, We are happy to ride this bandwagon, and We think You should be happy for Us."
-[x] "Finally, if I am wrong, then your 'problems' do not go away, rather they become of another nature. If We are truly an abomination, then none of ye hold any power over Us: How does one judge that which one cannot admit exists? How do you execute a microcosm? How does the reaper's scythe cull a social construct or an idea?"
-[x] "Of course the most horrifying prospect for some you would likely be that it was you who created Us, and though disgusted, feel somewhat responsible for our being. To think: All the souls that slipped through the cracks of your bureaucracy over the eons, the spirits who by will or caprice or in the name of work expedience had an 'accident' and sunk beneath the cloying waves of the Sanzu, never to be seen again. Or so it was thought. But here We are, the sediment of your imperfection, your negligence, your inefficiency, your inattention. You couldn't find the time to judge us then, but now, after serving a sentence of indeterminable length, at the bottom of a lake of tar and ash, a sentence never delivered, never deliberated on, now you allow us our day in Court?"

Holy fuck, write-in of the gods.
>> No. 87224
[x] >>87222

Changing vote for awesome.
>> No. 87225
>>87222
Otherwise known as [x] INTIMIDATION
>> No. 87226
[x] >>87222
>> No. 87227
Well, I'll be damned Anon. You finally surprised me (read: Blew My Egoist Narrator Ass out of the Water). Very well, votes locked for Epic Write-In and commencing with production. I guarantee you'll be rewarded with something for this, not sure yet, but it should help you with a big decision coming up soon.
>> No. 87233
>>87227

hooray!
>> No. 87242
File 124327611156.jpg - (61.77KB , 1024x576 , snapshot20080105192211.jpg ) [iqdb]
87242
>Sumimura Masamori
>Ougi Ichirou
>> No. 87299
File 124332289457.jpg - (127.36KB , 600x1101 , wicked_throne_by_allytha.jpg ) [iqdb]
87299
SYSTEM Update:

[X] The Write-In

BGM Load: "Stream of Consciousness", Hitomi Kuroishi

---

They disgust me.

The thought takes you quite suddenly, bringing you to your feet and knocking over the chair you once sat in with a bang. Possessed of you in your very veins, an indignant rage that makes even Sikieiki's fury pale in its fiery locus. Indeed, like a wind of epiphany, it had swept through the entire chamber killing the fires from the smoking cauldrons of incense, leaving but a scant few stuttering paper lanterns still standing in the settling dust.

If this damned court was so convinced of their righteousness, then you would just have to crush that boorish faith. You, nay, We will speaks as one Body to another. We, a collective of soul, to the Court, as a collective of judges. And fueled with this intense resolve do you speak, far more majestic and powerful than you could ever imagine yourself to be - alone:

"A wise man once said, 'Cogito Ergo Sum'. In the case of Us, it would mean: We think; therefore, We are."

First, pick a hammer.

"That the Court refers to Us, that Court addresses Us, that its members even now seethe with fear and loathing as they listen Us: is tacit admission that we exist as a part of intrest, and therefore, a being. Aye. In the eyes of the Court, We exist."

But not just any hammer, so you smile, as your good eye gauge the fools for a reaction. Still, nothing but all the more savory victory shall be when they receive their just desserts.

"I will have to assume I did not just disappear to you all just now, eh?"

Aye, a special hammer is required for this crude...

"The argument, which was brought to Us by one part of the Court cries foul that because Our existence can be broken into Our component existences, is a spurious one. Does a man not exist because he can be broken down into cells that still exist? No. Is that same man - strangled in an alleway - alive because some of his component cells are still alive?

"Again, the answer is No. Clearly, the property of 'Life' or 'Existence' is not a commutative one. So it matters not if you graft the bodily components into serving as limbs for others, or clone the line for experimental purposes, or even freeze a man's brain. The man is dead. He has ceased to be. He is an ex-man."

...but noble task.

"In this manner were We to be cut into pieces --- bits --- seemingly more palatable to a more individually-minded paradigm, We would die, just as the Man dies when you cut him apart, even if his individual cells yet live one. And then you, the Court, acting as a boy would rightfully be charged for murder. Aye, you would have willfully killed another being."

You see they are like ignorant, stubborn dogs, blissfully oblivious to reason, at least on the surface. They say one's servants are an extension of the master, and the agitation was evident.

"The fusion of one with the many is not without precident, figuratively it happens all the time among the living, in the instance of incorporation. And to address those of the Court who refer to Us as an 'Abomination' it is reasonable that We are hated --- of course, you think of Us like that --- for We are the riminder of your own individualistic, and therefore, unenlightened nature. No matter how you address yourselves, none of Ye possess such hubris as to think of oneself as the Buddha, and of course, neither do We, even though We are without doubt that Our nature is a step to the path of Enlightenment."

Now that seemed to have a struck a nerve, as the Bar now whispers amongst themselves in that peculiar fashion without sound. Well, all except for the young man and Sikieiki, whom are very much absorbed with your words.

"Aye, We are happy to ride this metaphorical bandwagon, and We think Ye should be happy for Us. Now, that said, if I am mistaken, then your 'problems' do not go away, rather they become of another nature. If We are truly an abomination, then noe of Ye hold any power over Us: how does one judge that which one cannot admit exists? How do you execute a microcosm? How does the reaper's scythe cull a social construct, an idea?"

A literal wave of simmering ire hits you at this moment, like a hail of a thousand bee stings, debilitating to the ordinary man, but you are something --- else --- and you will not be cowed by such petty tricks. You press on, speaking even bolder than before.

"But, of course! The most horrifying prospect for some of you would be likely that it was YOU who created Us, and though disgusted, feel somewhat responsible for out being. To think: all the souls that slipped through the cracks of your bureaucracy over the strange eons, the spirits who by will or caprice or in the name of 'task prioritization' had an unfortunate 'accident' and sank beneath the cloying waves of the Sanzu, never to be seen again. Or so it was thought."

The shinigami are up in arms now, drawing their various --- Knowledge provides the term --- "soul reapers", almost as one in a ring of "steel". You notice Onozuka Komachi pale, her jaw going slack as if she just saw her life flash before her eyes, at seeing such a bombastic display by her peers, before sighing in helpless resignation. It seemed she was the type who encountered unreasonable situations on a regular basis, after all. ...you really need to find a way to make it up to her when this is over.

Now, it was time for the finishing blow.

"Alas, alack! Something terrible this way comes! Here We are, this night, the sediment of your imperfection, your negligence, your incompetence, your inattention; you could not find the time to judge us then, a bother, but now, after serving a sentence of indeterminable length, at the bottom of a lake of tar and ash, a sentence never delivered, never deliberated on, now you allow us our day in Court?"

You laugh, a dry, callous mockery that seems to carry into every space in the vast chamber, killing the remaining lanterns for good. All is darkness, save for you and your --- companions --- illuminated by the skylight, as if actors upon a stage, and through the veil of shadow you see them glowing. Eyes. Many, many eyes.

"What chains could bind Us? What cell could hold Us? Ye are not prepared."
>> No. 87300
File 124332306594.jpg - (34.92KB , 600x600 , 2157438.jpg ) [iqdb]
87300
The round of applause takes you, and verily all gathered, by surprise. Eyes blinked and blades gleamed, trying to ascertain the source. It was not you, Sikieiki, or Komachi for certain. Sooner than you could have expected the suspect in question breaks out into full blown, raucous laughter. A new wind blows, nay, howls into the chamber, igniting once more the lanterns and cauldrons once snuffed out, but the flames are --- strange, burning a brilliant blue. The lanterns burn themselves out and the lion-like cauldrons can barely withstand it, seemingly on the verge of melting.

Seeing who it was that had caused this, you suppose you should not have been surprised. He already struck you as crazy, anyways. Never mind how he managed to convince both of his maids to start clapping along with him, too.

"K-Koenma-sama!" the entire chamber seems to cry out as one.

Wait... Koenma? "Little" or "Child" Enma? Did not the Judge of Paradise speak to you that The Enma was here tonight?

"He is great! THIS. Is. Great~! Ah ha ha ha ha, and here I thought I was going to be bored to tears! Liz, Patty, I like this fellow! What do you say if I hire him? Make him a provisional shinigami? By my Honorable Father, he might actually make a half-decent Yama, too, if he can stand the paperwork. ...ick, paperwork."

It does not take long for Judge Ougi to recover from his case of flabbergasted shock, rapping his folded fan hard upon his bureau that sends a blaring thunderclap through the chamber. All are reduced to silent propriety in an instant, except for the Great (Little) King himself who carries right on unaffected along with his maids.

"Koenma-sama, surely you jest? This THING was born from the Sanzu River, and our justice will not waver before its insidious rhetoric! Only the vile souls of the condemned go there, and suffer they will in repentance, until they are purified to rejoin the karmic wheel."

Koenma pauses and so do his girls in perfect unison, as all three turn and shoot the bellicose monk a deadeyed stare. It is he though who speaks, while the maids glare stoically, "Hey, Judge of Undiscovered Eden, when was the last time you had your eyes checked?"

"I had my monthly check up just before arriving this night, Koenma-sama."

"Fire that spirit."

Ougi Ichirou bears the backhanded rebuke, quietly, though you cannot help but grin at your petty victory, as you notice the subtle tremble of the hand holding his fan. However, before he could continue to mount his offensive, someone else cuts in.

"Permission to speak, My Great King," an ethereal voice --- man, woman, and everything in between --- echoes through the chamber. No, just the chamber, but you can feels its very words reverberating through your being. Who is it?

"Ah? Hmm, why, yes, you may, Judge of Aeons Strange."

It is --- The Eyeball --- thing! ...hsss, you. feel. IT. An alien presence brushing against every fiber of your being, like many wriggling tendrils, cool to the touch; the intent appears to be to convey a sense of consolation, but this... Thing. Just feels --- alien. You do not like it one bit at all.

"Your argument is sound, defendant, but you have made a fatal error."

Wait, what?!

"What is there to convince us that your thoughts are your own? That you are not merely the puppet of the myriad of souls within you? That You are You, and not They? As of now, you have condemned yourself to us in free, open admission no less. Jurisdiction falls into this court once more and the possible measure of --- reprocessing --- stands. That which is born of mortal man was not meant to possess more than one soul.

"It is because man is one, alone, that he seeks to be complimented by another, yet you...you are beyond such things. How can you even be called mortal? Humans? Nay. What you still are is an anathema to the Law. Sin. Unforgivable. This High Court will not allow those souls to roam free, for you are a correct... They must be judged."

Damnation, you have been backed into a corner by your own logic, and you are humbled, embarrassed to realize how little you know of yourself. Even Sikieiki and Komachi look horrified now that comprehension dawns upon them, for they, too, had been swept away in the throes of your impassioned speech. Is there no way out of this mess?

"However! There are exceptions, are there not?" Koenma interjects, smugly. His maids nod their ascent with a knowing smile, as if privy to some private joke. "Indeed, am I not one such as he? More than just myself? Yes, I am --- THE God of Death, a kami, charged with grave responsibility and worshiped by all. A great many essences make me, but I am not more than the sum of my components, my friends of the Court?"

Holy Buddha, did the Great King of Hell just now, save your collective behind from the chopping block?

"And, honestly, he looks quite purified and symmetrical to me, but...you all do have a point."

Or not...

"See, I tire of this travesty as well. I know all of our colleagues here, coming in tonight, could care less for the result of this case. Today was to be a day and night of celebration, and instead, we find ourselves cloistered behind these walls in conclave over this --- trivial --- matter. Sure enough, you all have made it a point to entertain yourselves by bringing up old grudges, still fresh even after all these centuries from my honorable, enlightened father's time. Conclusion: I am bored and it is time to end this. You want proof? Then proof we shall all have."
>> No. 87301
File 12433231477.jpg - (212.28KB , 1000x667 , 384dac73d61bf498ffc8ff9a1a7dafed.jpg ) [iqdb]
87301
BGM Load: "Borderline of Madness", Shoji Meguro

---

With a crisp snap of his fingers, the blue flames exploded into roaring columns, casting an unnatural haze about the chamber. The display of power seemed awfully dramatic, but you could hardly complain as the floor began to shake and groan frightfully, as if it were a woman in labor. Debris fell from the rafters and even the retuines of the Ten Kings grew restless, clearly not expecting such a spectacle. In fact, there seems to be something peculiar about the position of the columns, as if-

"Gentlebeings," Koenma announces with all pomp he can muster into his literally sparkling smile. "Since we are unable to come to consensus, I hereby invoke my privilege to set forth a motion to the floor that will solve our connundrum. We shall have the defendant fight for his right to exist."

Howling mad, IT appeared through the molten fissure that had cracked open just a short distance away from you at the mark of "Fire" upon the trigram. The shrill cry had to be one of the most horrible noises you had the misfortune of hearing since you came into being, like a handful of nails shrieking across a blackboard, and the source: a big wolfen beast that seemed to have stepped straight out from a hellish inferno. Indeed, its entire char black body was writhing in fire, and was only held in check by a --- symmetrical(?!) --- lattice work of barbed chains, threatening to slice the fell creature to pieces as it struggled and howled.

"THIS. Lovely, symmetrical abomination is a Shikabane no Rinne. Now, a shikabane or a rinne by itself is not much for sport, but according to the reports I read, these fouls beasts are a different matter altogether. They are quite voracious eaters, apt at seperating and digesting souls for maximum efficiency, and most importantly, capable combatants. No match for us Yama alone, but would require several squads of a shinigami or at least the attentions of a Shinigami Captain or three."

Was this fellow out of his mind? This was outrageous!

"Surely, the tainted souls of sinners are no match for such a creature. And a thoughtless doll? Even less so. Should he be ripped from limb to limb, well, I trust that Sikieiki will be more than up to the task for the paperwork to-"

Did he expect you to take that --- that malevolent thing on by yourself, unarmed no less?

It was then Onozuka Komachi interjected in sudden protest, clearly having had enough of the capricous little king's proposal, "Wait, wait, wait, wait a second here, Koenma-sama! That's not remotely even fair-"

Suddenly, you hear the sound of thunder that cries out even above the loud discord - no, Knowledge corrects you, this was something else. Your bolts to Koenma and your jaw drops in recognition when you see the shining silvery things he holds in hands: guns! What in the name of Buddha was he doing with --- pistols? Where did those two sisters go? And, and --- damnation, what about Komachi?

"You. WILL. do the paperwork, won't you, Yamaxanadu Sikieiki? You must have heard how I loathe paperwork."

Your worst fears, thankfully, were just that, as the shinigami herself was in perfectly good health. The same could not be said for her ego, whose wounds had produced a literal waterfall of tears from her eyes, as she mourned the beheaded "head" of her scythe. Note to self: try not to piss off Koenma in the future. That guy is quite obviously an expert of the quick draw. After all, you did not even see the event happen, only the sound of thunder.

As for Sikieiki, she did not have much of a choice.

"Yes, O Great King of Hell."

She bowed her head low in deferrence, a sight that made you cringe inwardly. You would never imagine someone as proud and willful as her being bent to the will of another. It --- it did not suit her.

"Splendid! Then leave my kekkai."

The Judge of Paradise obeys, dragging a still stricken redhead in her wake by the collar of her half-kimono top. Of course, they say nothing to you, subtlety being warranted for the situation, but that does nothing to stop a meaningful look from one and a thumbs up from the other that spoke volumes: "Do Not Die. Very cross I shall be to fill the forms, concerning your death." and "YOU CAN DOOOOOOOOO IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTT~! BIG SIS MACHI MACHI BELIEVES IN YOU~, 'HUN!"

Soon they step beyond the line of no return marked by the flaming columns of azure, confirming the existence of a bounded territory. Aye, you perceive its very border distorts briefly and visibly, like a ripples in a pool of water, when the two females pass through.

"Now, our mutual friend!" an abrupt, rapid cannonade of gunshots promptly brings you full circle. "Show us what you really are! Doll or God? Careful, not to die, now~!"

Holy Zen! He shot the chains off. WHY! That fell beast is on the loose now --- and damn it all, why did it have to lock on to you right from the go?! How could things go from a ludicrous trial to an impromptu bloodsport gladiator match so quickly?

You have no weapons, you are hurt, you are crippled, you are tired, and you are getting hungry, again! The closest implement you have to one is the overturned chair beside you, which you doubt strongly that it will be of much use against a creature of this magnitude. There is nowhere to run. By the Buddha, how much worse can this situation get? Tsk.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] FIGHT
[] TAUNT
[] GENUFLECT
[] OBSERVE
[] GUARD
[] FLEE
[] ??????

And...

[] Aggressively
[] Defensively
[] Tactically
[] ???????
>> No. 87304
[x] ??????
[x] ???????

I'm at a loss, so I'm voting for the obligatory mystery vote. Here's hoping to this option unlocking a font of godlike power.
>> No. 87309
[x] ??????
[x] ???????

Don't have a clue what to do, either.

I'm rather liking the mishmash of Soul Eater and Bleach, though...
>> No. 87310
>>"Your argument is sound, defendant, but you have made a fatal error."

Wait, what?!

"What is there to convince us that your thoughts are your own? That you are not merely the puppet of the myriad of souls within you? That You are You, and not They? As of now, you have condemned yourself to us in free, open admission no less. Jurisdiction falls into this court once more and the possible measure of --- reprocessing --- stands. That which is born of mortal man was not meant to possess more than one soul.

The eyeball is bullshitting. The thoughts of a man are also generated by millions of brain cells, but that doesn't make a man a puppet of his brain cells. It is in fact up to the eyeball to prove that the individual soul would be viable outside the composite whole and that the sum is no greater than its parts.

And in fact, as the Collective has demonstrated the ability to act and reason as a gestalt entity (as proven by our speech), the second condition is already impossible to prove, therefore rendering the eyeball's argument moot.

Likewise the Naturalistic Fallacy is glaringly obvious. How does it follow that the 'unnatural' is wrong?

No, this entire process stinks to high heaven.

[ODIN] Stop this farce and demand Your right to defend Yourself properly.

And if the game's still rigged,

[ODIN] FIGHT
[ODIN] With Righteous Anger
>> No. 87311
[X] FIGHT
[X] Aggressively

RIP AND TEAR.
>> No. 87313
[x] OBSERVE
[x] Tactically

We stand perfectly still. We glare the beast down, and step out of the way with every swipe of its claw. We gouge out its eyes, knock it off balance, and pierce it in the throat with a leg from the chair. We are calm, collected, and deadly.
>> No. 87315
>"THIS. Lovely, symmetrical abomination is a Shikabane no Rinne. Now, a shikabane or a rinne by itself is not much for sport, but according to the reports I read, these fouls beasts are a different matter altogether. They are quite voracious eaters, apt at seperating and digesting souls for maximum efficiency, and most importantly, capable combatants. No match for us Yama alone, but would require several squads of a shinigami or at least the attentions of a Shinigami Captain or three."

[x] "Your Champion is an eater of souls? You mock Us! We who have clawed our way out of the Abyss, scraped through the infinite Stygian depths, until finally We were spit upon the shore of Sheol because We could not be digested..."
[x] "Yamaxanadu Sikieiki, Onozuka Komachi, though it may avail ye not, We beg of you, seal thy lips, close thine eyes, cover thine ears, and invoke the holiest mantra of ॐ. These Words are not meant for you."
[x] "So come, feast upon Us! Fill your gullets until you burst!"
[x] The infinite souls you embody, whose pleas and penance and outrage never reached the oligarchs of this realm, let them out, let them sound their discontent...
[x] The ℣ℴℹC℮s.... ℒ℮☦ ♱ℏℇℳ Åℓℓ ⍟℧⍡!!




Some will be lost, and some will return, and some will not even leave to begin with, but You will remain, for even if You were to flood this plane with spirits, You embody the host infinite.
>> No. 87319
[x] ??????
[x] ???????
>> No. 87321
[x] ??????
[x] ???????
>> No. 87333
[X] OBSERVE
[X] Tactically

Measure your opponent, and strike at his weaknesses.
>> No. 87343
File 124335759740.jpg - (92.65KB , 600x581 , 4009045_m.jpg ) [iqdb]
87343
Well, Anon, you all surprise me, yet again. You all actually picked the best choice out of this cluster fsck.

As for why DtK is trying to screw the protagonist, the argument, I'll put it in simple terms here: he doesn't have a problem with you being Legion. He's a Legion himself too. The issue of contention is whether you are You, the head that leads this Legion. If you are just a puppet, that's a big no-no in the Celestial Order.

Yeah, DtK would Death Cannon you back into oblivion. Killing the actual Legion would be a royal pain in the ass, and a mechanic that even escapes my understanding at the moment. Destroying the vessel that ties them all together and gives them a medium to act through? Psshh, easy as cake in the protagonist's case.

And yes, if someone hasn't thought that far already, it will be quite interesting times come Mountain of Faith - should I find the motivation to continue all the way there.

Anyways, I'm gonna call the vote on this one, instead of beating around the bush. 4 ???? votes and 1 Write-In pretty much hit at where we ought to go, even if the first two guys that voted were lost.

Commencin' with writin'... But before I go.

HOT. DAMN. THE Norseman is on board for this adventure? I am humbled, honored, and possibly, a little frightened, considering the territory we'll be walking into shortly.

Oh, well, it shall be a most excellent adventure, one way or another.
>> No. 87344
File 124335842675.jpg - (60.58KB , 422x400 , GHOST_RIDER.jpg ) [iqdb]
87344
>Killing the actual Legion would be a royal pain in the ass, and a mechanic that even escapes my understanding at the moment
If the devil can make 'em, the devil can take 'em. Or are you fresh out of crossovers?
>fsck
Sir, I need to have a word with you.
>> No. 87347
[x] ??????
[x] ???????
>> No. 87418
File 124340664945.jpg - (661.57KB , 500x690 , 4129818.jpg ) [iqdb]
87418
To Anon: Well, here it is the big moment. I really, strongly recommend you all think this decision over a lot. In fact, I'll let the votes sit out for a bit longer than usual, as your next choice will be arguably the most important one you make for a while.

Just to give you an idea... It's going to affect a lot of things, e.g. Play style, what you can or cannot do conceivably, relationships, how the very World views and interacts with you, the "original" storyline, "original" storyline bosses and characters, and vice-versa.

Pick the "Persona" you are going to like playing as. And yes, if my narration completely goes over your head, the first choice you will see soon enough is closest to your present self. In fact, it is the origin for the you of the now.

---

SYSTEM Update:

[X] ??????? + [X] ???????

...

????!!?!?!?

...

!!!!!

...

[X] APOTHEOSIS

BGM Load: "Awakening", Shoji Meguro

---

They say, "Come what may, a man's got to learn to take it", but they also say, "That a man can only take so much before he breaks". You have reached the breaking point. This has been one senselessly crazy day. You woke up in a river of the dead, almost choked on dead people to death, passed out, woke up, met two beautiful ladies, selectively passed out again, and regained consciousness one more time to one thing leading to another. Not once were you given the choice to do something you wanted to do from the bottom of your heart, namely go to sleep and brush this all off like one excellent nightmare.

Instead, here you are facing and fell beast of the supernatural order, charging at you all out like a mad-

Courage punts you metaphysically in the backside, causing you to dive out of the way in the nick of time, as black flaming claws come within an inch of tearing through your throat. That beastly bastard sure does move fast, even as time slows for you, thanks to the wonders of whatever human-inspired components this body does possess. No matter; now, you are even more pissed off thanks to having your private monologue interrupted.

Oh yeah, you are done. Enough was enough and you were not going to take this crap from the chains of fate anymore. It was high time to break those chains and kick Fate and all reason to the curb, and you know, instinctively, just the thing to do it. Ah, those snobby, smug bastards even helped provide the necessary instrument for you: the perfectly intent scythe blade from Onozuka Komachi's deathscythe.

Grabbing the blade as you stand, one eye on the shikabane rinne, you take a moment's pause to steal a glance over to where your companions stand, just beyond the Great King of Hell's kekkai. Yamaxanadu Sikieiki watches impassively as expected. Not because she did not care; if anything, she must have been of supreme confidence you would prevail, somehow. Besides, Komachi was doing all the cheering that needed to be done for them both, jumping and whooping with animated, fiery passion, though you could not hear her cries.

A moment's terror grips you, as you once dive out of the way from another lunging pounce, not because of the creature. Oh no, your fear is of a different matter altogether: it pains you to think what would become of your memories of them should the act you are about to commit spiral out beyond your wildest expectations. It may have been only a short span of time, the space between a blink and a tear, but such an encounter has moved your heart. Aye, the weak, distorted you of the now, whom will be reborn anew soon, but the risks are nothing to be laughed at, and this is the only chance you are going to get.

The stage is perfect. Life and Death locked in struggle. So many hearts and minds watching on bated breaths, though they do not even realize it. Yes, you can feel it: the Path opens! Past, Present, Future: all are one. Knowledge, Courage, Expression, Diligence, Understanding: all are ready to travel together, once more, on the Fool's Journey.

You smile --- and deliver the mother of all "My Geta to Yo' Face" punts straight to the wolfen netherbeast's nose. Comically, it whines pitiably as it drops like a ton of bricks from the unexpected counterstrike and rolls away into a hasty retreat. Now, that bugger won't be interrupting your monologue, well, at least long enough for you to do what you got to do.

"Hey, are you all quite entertained yet?" you cry out in a loud, mighty voice so that your words will carry to every hidden crevice and the darkest of hearts. "I say, are you entertained yet!"

Of course, you cannot hear them, but you can imagine each and every soul out there hears you quite well.

"You had better damn be watching well, you unenlightened bigots, because this is the only time in your arduously long misbegotten lives you will see it! I will show you a spectacle unlike any other. Do the impossible, see the invisible, touch the untouchable; a miracle of miracles by my will and the wishes of all who have given their lives unto my hands. To know the Myriad of Truths!"

You brandish the scythe blade high, its keen blessed edge gleaming in the unreal fires of Higan. You can only hope none of the unenlightened morons try to replicate the same feat themselves.

"I am not a doll! I am myself! God or Devil that possibility will be born once again: NOW."

In a single fluid motion, you reverse the "dagger" and bring it home, plunging right into your heart!

WHITE.
>> No. 87419
File 124340673031.jpg - (37.05KB , 500x375 , 0ccd74b1347038ff2ec7aa7fd7cd1e24.jpg ) [iqdb]
87419
BGM Load: "The Poem for Everyone's Souls", Shoji Meguro

---

I am Thou, and Thou art I.

...

Ugh, this place again: The Root - "The Beginning is The End and The End is The Beginning". In a way, you could say it was like coming home. Yes. This is where it all began, this is where it shall all end, and so will all begin anew.

Even now, after having traveled so far, you are amazed by the millionfold way of stars. Possibilities endless, yet an old friend is still here, a journey you took once long, long ago. ...it was not finished.

Something. Happened.

You cannot remember...

Darkness.

Death.

A Woman shrouded in White.

Eternal.

You sense deep sadness and regret irrepressible within you, a wound in your heart so ghastly, unspeakable that you feel you will never be whole should you turn away now. Who knows when another chance will come? So many have already sacrificed themselves for this moment; a chance for you to make things right again.

The Tears of The Fool calls to you.

I am Thou, Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / Through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute."

But this is not the only path. There are others as well, and perhaps, an experience from a new perspective shall give you the answer you never knew? A new truth among the many you have come to learn? Aye, mayhap you should gamble on a chance. Even at the height of your prime, you knew not what the future holds for that was a horizon yet undiscovered. Maybe a chance would come again for you to become The Fool, once more.

What shall you do? Choose wisely.

[] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."

[] The Prince - I am Thou, and Thou Art I? "Catch the wheel that breaks the butterfly / I cried the rain that fills the ocean wide / I tried to talk with God to no avail / Calling my name and out of nowhere / Said if You won't save me, please don't waste my time."

[] The World's Enemy - I am Thou, and Thou Art I! "I don't care if I become everyone's enemy! By my own will, I decided a long time ago that I'd do it; that I'll tear this entire rotten world apart along with those damned bastards. The time has come, and so have I... THIS is my rebellion: Under Heaven's Destruction!"

[] ????? - I am Thou~, and Thou Art I~! "God or Demon, what am I? It's time for me to choose my path~ / The Power of My God Hand / No Evildoer will get that / Hand to Hand or Fist to Fist / Kick your nuts or Twist your wrist / God Power keeps My Pimp Hand Strong / So Trust Me or you won't last very long~ / Dragon Kick Yo' Ass into the Milkyway! / Don't act like you don't like the Ball Bustah / My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, Summons Up the Power of the God Hand~!"
>> No. 87420
[X] ????? - I am Thou~, and Thou Art I~! "God or Demon, what am I? It's time for me to choose my path~ / The Power of My God Hand / No Evildoer will get that / Hand to Hand or Fist to Fist / Kick your nuts or Twist your wrist / God Power keeps My Pimp Hand Strong / So Trust Me or you won't last very long~ / Dragon Kick Yo' Ass into the Milkyway! / Don't act like you don't like the Ball Bustah / My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, Summons Up the Power of the God Hand~!"

Are there any gorillas in Gensokyo?
>> No. 87427
[] ????? - I am Thou~, and Thou Art I~! "God or Demon, what am I? It's time for me to choose my path~ / The Power of My God Hand / No Evildoer will get that / Hand to Hand or Fist to Fist / Kick your nuts or Twist your wrist / God Power keeps My Pimp Hand Strong / So Trust Me or you won't last very long~ / Dragon Kick Yo' Ass into the Milkyway! / Don't act like you don't like the Ball Bustah / My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, Summons Up the Power of the God Hand~!"

Oh yes.
>> No. 87431
As tempting as The Prince is, I'd rather stick with the way the story has been going. If it works, don't mess with it.

[x] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."
>> No. 87440
[X] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."

Frankly, I just like the tone of this one most.
>> No. 87441
[X] ????? - I am Thou~, and Thou Art I~! "God or Demon, what am I? It's time for me to choose my path~ / The Power of My God Hand / No Evildoer will get that / Hand to Hand or Fist to Fist / Kick your nuts or Twist your wrist / God Power keeps My Pimp Hand Strong / So Trust Me or you won't last very long~ / Dragon Kick Yo' Ass into the Milkyway! / Don't act like you don't like the Ball Bustah / My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, Summons Up the Power of the God Hand~!"
>> No. 87443
>>87343

As long as you don't count on your audience to not possess unnecessary amounts of knowledge of religion and mythology you should be fine, even if I follow this.

And by the way, I like the story very much so far. Keep up the good work.


All praise aside, I have a few thoughts about the choices. Or actually, I may have a few too many. First of all I reject the question mark option. Choosing the unknown has led to rewards so far, but frankly this option sounds like the lyrics of a bad rap song. Therefore, by purely stilistic reasons I cannot bring myself to accept it.

As for the other options there is the nature of Legion to consider. As we are dealing with Buddhist philosophy as the background, Legion is a strange being indeed. First of all the concept Atman in Buddhism is in itself viewed as a delusion because it creates selfish attachments to a construction that does not truly exist. It seems as if Legion in itself is an amalgam of beings who share the delusion of individual Atman, but also a delusion of being one.

However, Legion itself is also one being as proven by him possessing all five Skandhas, form, sensation, perception, volition and consciousness (another reason why the eyeball was bullshitting). So it is entirely correct to consider

Legion as one who is many. However, as we are dealing with Buddhist philosophy, and as we are proving a point to a bunch of stuck-up jerks, we also must remember the ethical perspective here. Basically as Legion is many and one, I would imagine that if the one sins the whole sins, and if the one is virtuous the whole is virtuous, and if one is deluded then all are deluded. Conversely this means that if all shall be freed from delusion, one must be freed from delusion.

So what does this mean? It means that we have a collective of beings within us, a collective that relies on us to act ethically. Therefore the World's Enemy is right out, as we have no right to drag down the rest of the collective with us.

However, the narration also stated that we have been in this strange place many times before. 'This is where it all began, this is where it shall all end, and so will all begin anew.' to quote. Because of this the other choices are dodgy as well. Fate is not really a Buddhist concept, rather everything is a consequence of past actions, therefore The Fool has nothing to slash apart. Perhaps this is an indication as to why he did not finish his previous journey.

The Prince is out as well. This option seems to imply a certain self-centered worldview, and that is a delusion that chains a being to the cycle of rebirth.

This leads me to a conclusion. It was said that we have a chance to make things right, and this is obiviously to end the cycle itself. But if this is our goal, how do we free the countless beings within us as we as ourselves from a state created by their own delusions? The answer is obvious - Enlightenment.

So in conclusion, long-term we must know ourself and ourselves, then break the cycle, short-term we must show the judges why it's a bad idea to act like a bunch of jerks with power. This means that posturing and attachments to delusions will only drag us down further. No, for this to work properly we need a more subtle form of badassery. We must become the Buddha.

Therefore:

[ODIN] The Guide - I am Thou, and Thou Art I - "Countless beings We are, trapped, awaiting libertation. By One's actions can Many be saved, by the actions of the Many can One reach the goal. I am the seeker of the truth, the light of Enlightenment. As I am Thy guide, Thou Art the ones I shall lead, as Thou Art the ones who support me, I am the one who shall liberate Thee. My wow is to break the cycle, to set Us free, This is My answer, Nirvana!"
>> No. 87446
[x] The Guide - I am Thou, and Thou Art I - "Countless beings We are, trapped, awaiting libertation. By One's actions can Many be saved, by the actions of the Many can One reach the goal. I am the seeker of the truth, the light of Enlightenment. As I am Thy guide, Thou Art the ones I shall lead, as Thou Art the ones who support me, I am the one who shall liberate Thee. My wow is to break the cycle, to set Us free, This is My answer, Nirvana!"

Deleted my vote, Norseman makes an interesting point.
>> No. 87448
>this option sounds like the lyrics of a bad rap song.

Now, I've got to disagree with you here, because it is in fact the greatest song ever composed in the history of mankind.

Good point on the rest, though.

[x] The Guide - I am Thou, and Thou Art I - "Countless beings We are, trapped, awaiting libertation. By One's actions can Many be saved, by the actions of the Many can One reach the goal. I am the seeker of the truth, the light of Enlightenment. As I am Thy guide, Thou Art the ones I shall lead, as Thou Art the ones who support me, I am the one who shall liberate Thee. My wow is to break the cycle, to set Us free, This is My answer, Nirvana!"
>> No. 87455
File 124347422390.jpg - (62.81KB , 600x600 , 3132309.jpg ) [iqdb]
87455
You know, I don't like to disregard Write-Ins, considering Norseman but a lot work into it, but you guys totally misunderstand me.

Friends, you're not a Legion anymore. You already used up all of those souls for your Apotheosis. You are indeed quite alone once more. I'd say more but that would be giving away a shit ton of story in the true end route, which explains how you came to be in the Sanzu and vice-versa.

Also, I'm not dealing from things from a pure traditional Buddhist standpoint. If anything, I am very Shinto with a little bit of Zen. You are not here to free anyone, my friends. This is a journey about you, and you are / were a Kami.

If you want to actually change the entire Celestial Order, that's what the World's Enemy is for. Not that there are any guarantees you'll succeed.

All of this said, the vote still stands: 7 for ???? and 3 for The Fool. I am still leaving it open a little longer, though the profile for ???? is pretty much done.
>> No. 87456
>>87455

Actually, I stand corrected. It's gone back down to 4 ???? and 3 Fools somehow. Weird.
>> No. 87457
[X] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."
>> No. 87458
Well if the write-in won't work, I'll change my vote to this then.

[X] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."
>> No. 87460
[x] ????? - I am Thou~, and Thou Art I~! "God or Demon, what am I? It's time for me to choose my path~ / The Power of My God Hand / No Evildoer will get that / Hand to Hand or Fist to Fist / Kick your nuts or Twist your wrist / God Power keeps My Pimp Hand Strong / So Trust Me or you won't last very long~ / Dragon Kick Yo' Ass into the Milkyway! / Don't act like you don't like the Ball Bustah / My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, Summons Up the Power of the God Hand~!"
>> No. 87461
[x] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."
>> No. 87463
File 124348030588.jpg - (56.57KB , 479x629 , Nike1C.jpg ) [iqdb]
87463
[x] The Chariot - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "From struggle are ye born, and in struggle ye may pass, but between the clash of blades there lies always a chance for triumph."

We were born from the collected souls crying out from the River Sanzu. Now stripped of these souls that provided us with intention, we are a thing of directionless force. A shadow of a personification. But our connection to the Sanzu is likely no coincidence.

Fitting that both Bia (Force) and Nike (Victory) are both daughters of Styx.
>> No. 87464
[X] ????? - I am Thou~, and Thou Art I~! "God or Demon, what am I? It's time for me to choose my path~ / The Power of My God Hand / No Evildoer will get that / Hand to Hand or Fist to Fist / Kick your nuts or Twist your wrist / God Power keeps My Pimp Hand Strong / So Trust Me or you won't last very long~ / Dragon Kick Yo' Ass into the Milkyway! / Don't act like you don't like the Ball Bustah / My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, My Arm, Summons Up the Power of the God Hand~!"
>> No. 87465
[x] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."

Foolish fools doing foolish things.
>> No. 87466
File 124348336985.jpg - (141.31KB , 544x480 , 3014648.jpg ) [iqdb]
87466
Well, friends, it's 5 minutes til midnight on my end, and I'm going to call the vote. It's been a long day and a vote full of surprises. Again, I apologize for disregarding the write-in, really well thought out, but I could not use it at all.

It was an unexpected turn of events, but coming back from behind, the underdog all along...

The Fool wins.

Votes locked; you all should be seeing a preliminary Character Sheet pretty soon and maybe even a post. Thank you for participating and I hope you will all continue to contribute to this adventure.
>> No. 87470
Ugh, here's a little something to wet y'alls appetites of things to come. A real post will follow after I'm done dreaming. In the meantime, enjoy this tentative character sheet.

---

SYSTEM, Load: STATS

"The Fool"

Personal Traits:

Knowledge - Lvl 2 Informed
Courage - Lvl 2 Reliable
Expression - Lvl 2 Eloquent
Dilligence - Lvl 2 Persistent
Understanding - Lvl 2 Kindly

....

Oh, something within you is changing!

...

Personal Traits:

Knowledge - Lvl 2 Informed
Courage - Lvl 3 Brave
Expression - Lvl 2 Eloquent
Dilligence - Lvl 2 Persistent
Understanding - Lvl 2 Kindly

Feats / Skills:

Kenjutsu - Rank C+ - You are trained in the path of the sword. Though far from being a master swordsman, you are quite competent and more than a match for the run of the mill vagrant or that peasant up to no good.

Yarijutsu - Rank C+ - Although trained specifically in "the art of the spear", your expertise in fact extends to all spears and / or staff-like weapons. Quite the spearman you are, but even you could use the tutelage of a master.

Iaijutsu - Rank C - Trained in Iaido, you are able to defend or strike even while your blade is sheathed. Competent you are, but there is always room for improvement.

Jiujutsu - Rank C - Even unarmed, you are far from helpless, but it won't hurt you to seek more training to improve upon yourself.

Commune - Rank B - An ability once common, though quite rare in more recent times, you possess the ability to converse and call upon the spirits of the realm. The kami are everywhere, for example be it in fire, earth, air, water, and void. Naturally, this also grants you some other unexpected talents, such as the ability to perceive the souls of the deceased. Alas, there are few teachers who could teach you how to improve your "center" and the methods vary wildly; each to their own, they say, and so it will be up to you to better yourself.

Lore: Shinto - Rank AAA - Though you are not a priest yourself, your knowledge of the gods, legends, traditions, and creatures who dwell in the land of Amaterasu certainly rivals that of one who has lived such a calling all of his life. There are still some mysteries for you left to discover and divine the meaning of, but it would be rare to see you caught flat footed in this field of theology and culture.

Lore: Zen - Rank C - You have adopted some of the teachings of Zen to your own lifestyle, mainly as a tool for meditation, but you are capable of some discourse on the subject if needed.

Lore: History - Rank C - You are knowledgeable in history of the old and the new. Of course, there is much more for you to learn as always, but you are relatively well-rounded no doubt.

Lore: Modern - Rank B - Somehow or another, you are quite well-versed with contemporary concepts and knick-knacks from beyond the border of Hakurei. You are not certain where this prior knowledge stems from, but likely, it is from your previous journey.

He of Potential - Character Trait - You are an individual of great potential. Though your growth is not something particularly spectacular, your consistency is a virtue in of itself. You are open-minded and ready to tackle any new body of knowledge, physical or mental, and make it your own.

He of Miracles Divinely - Character Trait - Contrary to your looks, the sum of your strength and vitality stems from more than just your muscles and willpower. Of course, you note that just being able to believe in yourself grants you a substantial boost in any situation. Only time will tell whether you will come to understand the full breadth of your powers.

Aura: Divine - Character Trait - You are possessed of an aura surely ordained by the heavens themselves. It is both a blessing and curse for all things can sense your greatness. There are those who would try to take advantage of you, yet there are also those who need your blessing and aid, sincerely. Be it God or Devil: the choice is yours to make, ultimately, for you are one destined for great things.
>> No. 87471
>>87466

Hah, that's what I get for overthinking things.

And don't feel bad for disregarding a write-in that doesn't work with the story. Better to know when to put your foot down than to write yourself into a corner.
>> No. 87473
[] The World's Enemy - I am Thou, and Thou Art I! "I don't care if I become everyone's enemy! By my own will, I decided a long time ago that I'd do it; that I'll tear this entire rotten world apart along with those damned bastards. The time has come, and so have I... THIS is my rebellion: Under Heaven's Destruction!"

No one chosed this? How sad.
>> No. 87478
>>87473

Maybe if it were named properly

Star Platinum
>> No. 87480
>>87473

No one wants to follow in Overlord Baal's footsteps.
Or fallen Revya.
>> No. 87481
>>87480

It's too bad she didn't get to keep those snazzy floating shoulder pads.
>> No. 87483
File 124354238475.jpg - (169.27KB , 373x945 , 1737710.jpg ) [iqdb]
87483
SYSTEM Update:

[X] The Fool - I am Thou, and Thou Art I... "The Beginning is The End, The End is The Beginning / through My Tears, I slash apart Fate absolute, with these Hands."

BGM Load: "Reach Out To The Truth", Shoji Meguro

---

No. There is no need for hesitation. The right answer was always here, and now, at this very moment, you will cut away the shadows of doubt that cloud your heart!

"I am Thou, and Thou art I... From the sea of my soul, come forth! My shield, my sword, my friend... Together, we walk the path untraveled once more: IZANAGI!"

In a roaring flash of light that heralds your rebirth, you make your triumphant return: stronger, faster, and better than ever before. You stand tall and proud, the origin once more of who you were at your zenith. A man among men but He who was infinitely more than just man, an awesome figure clad in black wielding a spear unlike any other, able to cleave man, armor, and horse in one swoop. Aye, you feel that you swell with such tremendous power that even this very chamber is too small a stage for you, and those watching in wide-eyed awe of you are, alas, cheated of the experience.

A low guttural growl, though, slices through your heady high with all the subtlety of an axe. Your gaze zeroes in on the offender in a heartbeat, and you can barely hold back a sigh: it is the shikabane rinne, apparently, too stupid to realize just whose presence it was in. Oh well, you would just have to teach it a lesson.

Words are wasted on such a beast, so you charge without preamble. Running, however, is far too mundane for you, instead you simply step off, propelling yourself forwards in absolute defiance of gravity with an "Air Dash". Even the supernatural monster is taken aback for a moment by the incredulity of it all, almost forgetting to dodge. It rolls and leaps away, narrowly dodging the slash of your spear. You give chase and lash out with a thrust, again the shikabane rinne evades and flees for distance, much to your annoyance.

Easily, do you tower over the creature, but clearly, there is a difference in speed. Perhaps, it was too much to expect you to bring out the full potential of your new form so soon. The shikabane rinne, though, is far from stupid. The primal intelligence behind those hungry burning eyes recognizes a weakness to which it exploits without mercy. This time it takes the charge, bearing down on you all fangs and claws. You try to ward it off with a cross sweep blow but it leaps through, in fact, aiming right at your face!

Skrriieettt!

You jerk aside, feeling the stinging impact and the frightful squeal of metal ringing in your ears. An ugly gash has been rent into the side of your mempo, uncomfortably close to your jaw, cutting upwards towards your cheek. As if admiring its handiwork, the shikabane howls mockingly at you; the audacity! The humiliation is unbearable, considering the "audience" all around you, but you cannot kill what you cannot hit. All you need is one good blow and your certain your spear will cleave the wretched thing in two!

Aghhh! How frustrating.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] FIGHT
[] TAUNT
[] GENUFLECT
[] OBSERVE
[] GUARD
[] POTENTIAL(?)
[] ??????

And / or...

[] Aggressively
[] Defensively
[] Tactically
[] ???????
>> No. 87487
[X] TAUNT
[X] Tactically

Lure it in for one good, piercing blow.
>> No. 87490
Oh ho? We get to play as the goddamn creator god? Then I have a sneaky plan cooked up.

[ODIN] FIGHT
[ODIN] Tactically
[ODIN] Surely you still have your trusty comb upon your August person. Take it in your hand and wait for this impure beast to attempt an assault upon your honoured person, then throw the comb beneath the beast and create from it a forest of sharpest bamboo, like your Augustness did when escaping from Yomi-no-kuni so long ago. Thus bloodied and distracted by a thousand wounds the beast will be easy prey for the Spear of Creation and its honourable wielder.
>> No. 87491
[x] FIGHT
[x] Tactically
[x] Surely you still have your trusty comb upon your August person. Take it in your hand and wait for this impure beast to attempt an assault upon your honoured person, then throw the comb beneath the beast and create from it a forest of sharpest bamboo, like your Augustness did when escaping from Yomi-no-kuni so long ago. Thus bloodied and distracted by a thousand wounds the beast will be easy prey for the Spear of Creation and its honourable wielder.
>> No. 87497
[x] FIGHT
[x] Tactically
[x] Surely you still have your trusty comb upon your August person. Take it in your hand and wait for this impure beast to attempt an assault upon your honoured person, then throw the comb beneath the beast and create from it a forest of sharpest bamboo, like your Augustness did when escaping from Yomi-no-kuni so long ago. Thus bloodied and distracted by a thousand wounds the beast will be easy prey for the Spear of Creation and its honourable wielder
>> No. 87498
[x] FIGHT
[x] Tactically
[x] Surely you still have your trusty comb upon your August person. Take it in your hand and wait for this impure beast to attempt an assault upon your honoured person, then throw the comb beneath the beast and create from it a forest of sharpest bamboo, like your Augustness did when escaping from Yomi-no-kuni so long ago. Thus bloodied and distracted by a thousand wounds the beast will be easy prey for the Spear of Creation and its honourable wielder

If the write-in doesn't work, I hope you default it to the first two choices.
>> No. 87500
Alright, folks, I'll call this one early. It's just a fight scene, after all. Though with Norseman here being the resident expert on mythology, I don't think we'll ever have to worry about being bored and doing things, well, the normal way.
>> No. 87506
Normally you wouldn't capitalize 'august' the way it's used here, unless I'm misreading and you really do have a strong attachment to the month lying betwixt July and September.
>> No. 87511
File 12435707895.jpg - (114.17KB , 666x1000 , 1578842.jpg ) [iqdb]
87511
To Anon: All right, here it is fellas. In fact, I liked this scene so much that I'm going to give you all a rare opportunity. Depending on what you do and how AWESOME it is, you may receive a Feat / Skill and / or a full baseline stat level up.

Of course, you can still pick one of my choices and you'll still receive points for it. No pressure, dudes, like for reals. Enjoy!

---

SYSTEM Update:

[x] FIGHT
[x] Tactically
[x] THE WRITE IN

BGM Load: "BASARA (instrumental)", Daisuke Achiwa

---

It is then at such a critical juncture does a most curious anecdote surface from the sea of your memories. Aye, you recall a time when you were, well, attempting to leave a rather unpleasant realm, namely the Country of Yomi. A vast host was hot in pursuit of you for some wrong or insult you cannot recall a the moment, but to cover your escape you sacrificed your most trusty comb from your august person to create a forest of the sharpest bamboo imaginable. It worked-

The tainted beast's feral snarl, alas, distracts you, before you can ponder the matter further, but your decision is set. You may not have the comb and you are not certain you have the power to reproduce the same feat; your spectating audience not helping the situation, yet the plan is so insane, it might just work again. First, however, you must create some space and lull this infernal thing into a cautious state.

Settling down onto the floor, you assume a stance, flexible and ready. A soothing calm washes over your raging heart, as you recall an old Kata "Thundering the Heavens", returning you to your true center. How fortunate that the shikabane rinne does not realize this and foolishly chooses to attack head on. A reckless proposition that you are happy to discourage.

The moment you sense the creature about to pounce, you leap into the air, twisting about full on like an acrobat, far more agile than you appear that you are, and deliver a quick, short jab with the butt of your spear, as the shikabane rinne passes underneath you. A surprised yelp rewards your ears the blow striking true to its side, the force just enough to send it landing with an distress wobble. Just as quick as it happened, your feet meet the ground once more. The gravity of what just happened does not register to the netherbeast yet, so it turns about and comes at you once more.

This time you leap to the side, almost parallel to each other, your great coat fluttering theatrically in your wake, while swing your great spear wide. Another yelp is your reward, the flat of your blade catching the beast right between its hindquarters! The shikabane rinne lands awkwardly, its hind legs nearly giving out beneath its weight. Even your audience now seems to be taken a renewed interest in the battle. Something has changed clearly!

They watch on in rapt attention, a few even laughing and smiling openly at the audacity of your display. The Great King of himself is clapping openly in approval, though you cannot hear his ovation, for you and the beast have become like partners in a fantastic dance! Again and again, the shikabane attacks, pouncing stubbornly in the same one-dimensional attacks, its fangs and claws gnashing in frustration at air, as you mock it openly with your own mirth, as you tumble about from the floor into the air and back: cartwheels, somersaults, backflips, aerial twists, and handsprings. You are untouchable Indeed, the very performance almost brings to mind the name of another, a girl, but alas, it escapes you.

Of course, there was a more sinister purpose to this performance. The shikabane rinne does not tire, much like yourself, but your many light blows delivered carefully, diligently, like rough kisses, have begun to take their toll as crippling wounds. With each pass, it has become slower and sluggish, though you suspect a full power swing from your spear would still not be able to touch it. A cornered animal, after all, is the most dangerous of prey, and now, it seems the time of reckoning has come.

Abruptly, with a pained, mournful howl, the wolfen netherbeast breaks off its attack, seemingly limping away. A deception, perhaps, but it appears to be unable to regenerate from the blows you struck, likely because of your august divinity. You land on your feet, and in an extra flourish, decide to bluster, twirling your spear high over ahead and bending the air to your will for that special touch, and bring down the butt of your spear with a titanic impact, blowing away the condensed air into a billowing gust. A proud, manly martial shout roars forth from your lips, delivered with a mighty thunderclap-like stomp, as you pose bombastically shaking a clenched fist at the shikabane rinne.

The creature does not rise to your first bait, but your audience? Oh, they have devolved into a true sporting crowd, rising to their feet and cheering excitedly, with a few exceptions. You could careless for those dull, boring bastards, but as for everyone else. It seemed your little performance was worth the effort, as you note with mild bemusement that Koenma was being held back, barely, by his twin maids (only the Fortunes would know when and how they returned) from tearing off his suit jacket and shirt to wave them around like flags. In a different direction, quite shockingly, though not entirely unexpected, Onozuka Komachi had stripped from the waist up, donning on a white hachimaki sporting the word for "GUTS", and was leading an entire cheer squad of spirits in your honor.

Fortunately or unfortunately, she was wearing sarashi underneath. You have no idea if this is a blessing or a curse but you file the scene away nevertheless as a fond memory. But before you do, how could you possibly not notice the supreme icing on the cake? There was the Judge of Paradise, little Yamaxanadu Sikieiki staring in awe, and you dare say, open admiration, blushing like a headstrong Imperial princess having laid eyes on a true man for the first time in the long while of her cloistered life. A sight that she may not have ever expected to see again, mayhap.

Very well, then you must not disappoint her any longer. The climax is now.
>> No. 87512
You reach up to your helmet and pull, hidden clasps unbuckling, the armor responding naturally as a part of your divine essence. Removed was your mempo as well, and the refreshing touch of cool air kisses your cheeks, highlighting a devilish smile. You concentrate and sure enough the entire set morphs and melts, transforming into a priceless lacquered black comb decorated with blue swallowtail butterflies. What comes next was obvious.

Even though you cannot hear their cries, you sense the crowd's roaring approval at your display. Repaid ten-thousandfold the insult you suffered at the hands of the infernal shikabane rinne, as you groom yourself flagrantly in pompous mockery of the creature. The trap was set and you sensed it clearly, razor keen as a cold dagger, a bloodthirstiness terrible. The primal intelligence behind those burning nightmarish eyes howls in fury.

"What say you, monster, shall I end this farce?" you ask, with all the false saccharine kindness you can muster.

The shikabane rinne charges and makes to leap for your throat! You turn away, carelessly flicking the comb at the foul fell beast. Time seems to slow as the two "objects" seemingly hurtle towards each other, and so was the trap sprung.

"Not that your answer matters," you reply dourly.

At your word, the teeth of your priceless comb suddenly extend, almost as if they are exploding, branching off and growing in a span of heartbeats into a razor sharp phalanx of lacquered black "spears"! The shikabane rinne does not even get a chance to cry out, caught helpless in mid-air, and swept away by the torrent of black, thrusting it all the way into one of Koenma's flaming pillars. Suffice to say, the reaction was quite explosive, understandably, and you can help but wince inwardly at the awful resultant cacophony. Hopefully, those pitiable souls found their way back into the karmic wheel.

As for you...

Thank the Fortunes no one was caught in the blast and his kekkai comes crashing down. For the first time, you can appreciate truly his sound dampening service because the entire courtroom is aloud with NOISE. Comparisons to a "Heavy Metal Concert" come to mind, not that you can recall ever going to a "Heavy Metal Concert", but you imagine it would sound just like this...

Well, what shall you do now? They seem to be expectant of you, oddly. One last encore perhaps?

Choose...

[] PERFORMANCE
[] GENUFLECT
[] ??????

And...

[] Traditional
[] Humble
[] Bombastic
[] ???????
>> No. 87516
[x] PERFORMANCE
[x] Humble
>> No. 87518
[z] PERFORMANCE
[z] Humble
>> No. 87523
[x] GENUFLECT
[x] "Hail Ko-Enma! We who have died, salute you!" Sarcastically.
[x] BUT ACTUALLY PERFORMANCE
[x] Rise. "The so-called Legion of Many who is One, that being that brought before the Court is no longer, forced into a bloodsport, killed for your amusement. How satisfying a conclusion for all of you."
[x] "But their yearning, their rancor, and their indignation, in me, lives on."
[x] "You, Son of Enma, will handle the paperwork, in triplicate. Otherwise I fear not even your record would go untarnished if by chance some partisan witness were to unduly influence the draft of the court minutae in a manner so as to look like the presiding judge was running a carnival, complete with lion tamer, freak show, turkey shoot, and gawking spectators aplenty."
[x] "Or maybe you wish to keep playing? Rap the gavel and adjourn the Court, or use the gavel to rap me, and then I show you how one becomes a black belt at whack-a-mole!"
[x] Contemptuous but exhausted

Someday we will have revenge for this sham of a trial. Someday we will ensure no more souls are lost in the river or otherwise. But for now, we must rest.
>> No. 87528
>>87523
>But for now, we must rest.
Or party.
>> No. 87533
[ODIN] PERFORMANCE
[ODIN] Traditional

Let's be polite. But let's also remember that Our August person Izanagi-no-mikoto, the honoured son of Aha-Nagi-no-mikoto, must demand the respect that is due Our esteemed self. We are the creator of the blessed land of Nihon and the father of the gods, so we act like it.

Thus, in Our mercy Our Augustness will give the Yama another chance, but if they still act disrespectful, shit's going down.
>> No. 87534
>>87533

Makes sense

[ ] PERFORMANCE
[ ] Traditional
>> No. 87535
Oh, and by the way, this part is interesting:

>>It is then at such a critical juncture does a most curious anecdote surface from the sea of your memories. Aye, you recall a time when you were, well, attempting to leave a rather unpleasant realm, namely the Country of Yomi. A vast host was hot in pursuit of you for some wrong or insult you cannot recall a the moment, but to cover your escape you sacrificed your most trusty comb from your august person to create a forest of the sharpest bamboo imaginable. It worked-

Apparently we suffer from some sort of amnesia or we don't have access to all of Izanagi's memories. I doubt that he'd forget his journey into the netherworld, as that was one of the most significant events in his life. This would probably be good to keep in mind, even though it's a bit on the side of meta-knowledge.
>> No. 87536
[ ] PERFORMANCE
[ ] Traditional
>> No. 87537
[x] PERFORMANCE
[x] Traditional
>> No. 87539
[x] GENUFLECT
[x] Humble

Towards Shiki and Machi. We are their knight in shining armor. We are better than the fools that dared to mock us. Superior to them in every way.
>> No. 87541
Alright, Anon, looks we're breaking this down traditional style. Shame you missed out, but points are points. Votes locked in for Performance and Traditional, and I think shall I start a new thread. We've got a lot material here and it's about time we start fresh on a new canvas.
>> No. 87542
>>87541

Don't do that. We aren't even autosage yet.
>> No. 87543
>>87542

O rly? My bad. I'm still getting used to how this board works. I don't even know how to do the bold and italics stuff yet, so my presentation is a little subpar compared to what I do normally.
>> No. 87544
>>87543
Autosage is at 200 posts. Convention is to make a new thread then, but it's not necessary to do it immediately at or before autosage, and making a new thread before autosage runs the risk of some idiot bumping an old thread.
Bold, Italics, Underline, Strikethrough, and Spoilers are allowed using [.b],[.i],[.u],[.s], and [.spoiler] respectively. You must match it with a [/x]. Delete the periods; just added them to show the example.
>> No. 87564
File 12436365454.jpg - (660.07KB , 1000x1414 , 4178250.jpg ) [iqdb]
87564
----

SYSTEM Update:

[X] PERFORMANCE
[X] Traditional

---

Well, now, this is quite a predicament you have found yourself in. You feel obligated to settle business with the Bar of the Ten Kings, but considering things have come this far, you feel the audience gathered deserve their encore. Retainers and servants do not necessarily follow their masters out of love or loyalty, and it could not hurt to curry some more popularity for yourself. You will settle the matter another time.

Now, what to do? Ah, what about a short Noh-style performance? Yes, that would do; you always did enjoy a good play, though you are uncertain you can replicate the same authenticity as a true actor could. After all, you do not believe you ever had to perform in front of a real crowd, and it did not help you had to improvise on the spot. Still, sink or swim, there was no time like the present.

But first to set the mood, you grab a fist full of your great coat, the material melting off your body with but a thought, as you spin with a theatrical flourish and toss it high into the air. At the apex of its flight, the great coat explodes spectacularly into a dazzling display of colors and flash, drawing your audience's attention away from you, so that you may change discreetly into more casual attire. More cheers greet your ears and in a moment the controlled fireworks give way to a singular parasol, specifically a red karakasa that rains cheery blossom petals on down to the delight of your, well, raging fans.

The shrill pitch of a shinobue flute cuts through their enthusiastic clamor, silencing them as you take a step forward, a simple white fan unfurled in hand, ushering the beats of drums in traditional folk song. So do you begin your chant in song, a kind of opera that was uniquely Nihon, your voice deep and resonant:

"So We awakened, day after day in dreamless slumber, from the borderline of madness; to where and for what, We know not, awake in a realm seldom We thought of; so did Izanagi of No Name arrive in the Palace of Paradise."

Lo did you snap shut your fan, catching the falling parasol as the accompanying music ended. Short but it would do to introduce yourself, a mystery that even you were uncertain of, whose truth you could only hope to unravel by pursuing your true self.

---

SYSTEM MSG:

Well, done! This experience has taught you much and you feel your entire character has grown.

+ 3 Pts to All Personality Traits

---

Morning in Higan, you come to conclude, is a miserable affair. The sky, the sun, the muggy humidity are bizarre absurdities that rub you the wrong way, and is far from having a salutary effect on the rampaging illness you are having. The symptoms appeared to be concurrent with a hangover.

Last night was... Fortunes, you cannot remember last night at all! What on earth happened-

The rapport of a sliding door being slammed open interrupts your thoughts. Ah, how churlish! Have people forgotten that it is the social norm to knock and ask for permission before entering another's room? Gracious, what if you had been naked? Wait...you lift up the sheets of your bed to see --- you are naked! Where are your clothes! There are no naked women in the room, so where in Ebisu are your clothes?

"There he is, lads, get 'im! Off with His Eminence straight to the baths!" a manly man's voice cried out with gusto.

Oh damn you, Ebisu! Should you ever cross paths with that runt you swear to return his sense of humor right back to him. In the meantime, you can only protest in vain as you carried off stark naked in all your augustness by a merry band of spirits, particularly of the large and burly variety much like the manservant leading them all. The following hour is a whirlwind of activity forever burned horrifically into your skull and an incident you dare not repeat to another soul. It is at the attentions of such manly "men" you are bathed, clothed, fed, and not even necessarily in that order, but the deed is done, before you are ushered off to head towards the banks of Higan, clad in fresh garments and a modest traveling pack on your back.

Your guide is possibly the biggest spirit, a literal white ectoplasmic mass that size of a boulder you recall having seen somewhere, chasing a man with a funny hat and a whip. It was also quite pushy and diligent, displeased with your slowness that it perceived to be sloth, which it --- no --- "HE" decided to correct arbitrarily by tossing you onto his back. You would rather not know how he accomplished that feat, but you would have appreciated it if he had given you some warning to hold on tight before he shot off like a bullet.

Suffice to say, you feel your masculinity has taken some abuse from this experience, but the sight that greets you at the riverbank swiftly restores your spirit. You all but leap off the big fellow, taking account for his relative speed to give yourself some room to back pedal to a stop. The spirit appears to moo its appreciation, much like a bull, before accelerating and taking off into the surrounding woods.

You turn and the words come to you as easily as smile:

"Well met, friends. May I ask what is the occasion that brings us here at the Hour of the Hare, with Lady Sun risen barely on the horizon?"

Your cheer proves to be infectious in the case of Onozuka Komachi who gives a boisterous laugh from where she minds a small boat in the gravely shallow. Score one for you, but you are somewhat crestfallen to see that Yamaxanadu Sikieiki is not so moved. More interestingly...has she grown shorter over night, or have you grown taller? By your reckoning, well, you are a clear head taller than even the redhead shinigami now, and she is a rather impressive woman. Strange, you swear you were not so just the day before...

"Apologize I do," she speaks in clear professional deference, "a terrible hostess I have been, and now, I ask that you please take your leave at once."

...WHAT?

"Onozuka Komachi will see you safely to the Land of the Living, and the garments you wear shall offer you added protection from the insidious influence of the Netherworld. Please, hurry. There is no time to explain."

The air has turned very grave and somber. You do not doubt the seriousness of the matter for the girl Yama does not even meet your stunned gaze. In fact, she seems to be look straight through you and that heavy burden you once perceived before on her shoulders, now so small and tiny, is back in full force. You thank the Fortunes that your rebirth went off without a hitch, allowing you to retain your recent precious memories, but at the same time curse them for the unfair situation they have given you.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Press her for details
[] Obey and trust in Sikieiki
[] ?????

And / or

[] CHARM
[] REASON
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] BODY LANGUAGE(?!)
[] ?????
>> No. 87569
[x] Obey and trust in Sikieiki
[x] CHARM
>> No. 87571
>>87506

I missed this earlier, but most translations that I've read of the Kojiki actually tend to have the term August and Augustness capitalized when referring to a Kami. I've been led to understand by friends who are more well-versed in the japanese language than I that this is done for emphasis as the ultra-formal language of the Kojiki doesn't translate well into english.


But enough of my ramblings:

[ODIN] Obey and trust in Sikieiki
[ODIN] CHARM

I'm a bit torn on this issue, but Eiki wouldn't toss us out without reason. But if we must go we should give her a farewell to remember.
>> No. 87572
[x] Obey and trust in Sikieiki
[x] CHARM
>> No. 87577
[x] Obey and trust in Sikieiki
[x] CHARM
>> No. 87586
All right, we got consensus. Votes locked in and commencin' with writin'.
>> No. 87628
File 124365701846.jpg - (434.41KB , 509x650 , cb2b8fe698ee59170477a6409722a11d.jpg ) [iqdb]
87628
---

SYSTEM Update:

[x] Obey and trust in Sikieiki
[x] CHARM

BGM Load: "SMILE", Shoji Meguro

---

What comes is a leap of faith, surely, but just leaving without a word does not sit well with you. In fact, you know just the thing to cheer her up. You close the gap between you two and bend down to her height, your eyes twinkling all the while. You cannot help but feel like an elder sibling about to tease his younger kin.

Flick.

"Wha-Wha! What are you doing?!" Sikieiki reels back in surprise, a palm clutching at her faintly stinging forehead.

"What?" you grin at her, incorrigibly unapologetic. "Such a long face does suit a proud, sweet judge as yourself. Smile and laugh, Sikieiki-san! You would not want some scandalizing gossiper spreading rumors of you being an old witch, now, would you?"

On cue, the Judge of Paradise reddens, scandalized by your words, "Y-You in-sensitive-"

"Come now, my dear friend, smile. For me, please?" you press the attack, favoring her with the best watery puppy-eyed look you could muster. Eyes watering, shoulders slumped, and lips drooping as if you were to pout at any moment.

The Yama hesitates, not expecting such a dastardly tactic. Your gambit having paid off, and once more the devil becomes you, striking at her with all the cool charm your divine self can muster, as you offer a pinky finger to her.

"We shall see one another again, Yamaxanadu Sikieiki, so I swear on my little finger and hope to swallow a thousand needles should I break such an oath."

Sikieiki gasps in shock, clearly red from head to toe.

"Ah..."

She is very much like that princess you saw last night, now, and you cannot help but give yourself a proud mental slap on the back being only the second man, likely, to ever bring out this side of her. The girl of fair blue eyes just looks at you wide-eyed, as if mystified by your very existence, and just for a moment, you think you see that blue vastness lighten with a kind of droll, magical nostalgia. The illusionary spell, though is broken by a sudden case of bright laughter.

"Ah ha ha ha ha!" Sikieiki grants you an exasperated smile. "Pity I do the poor woman who would miss a scoundrel like you."

Ah, how disappointing. You wished to savor the magic of the moment a little longer, but it appears, at least, you were successful in your purpose. Now, you need only ride out your role into a blaze of glory.

"Ahhh, you wound me so."

WHOOSH.

Suddenly, you find yourself staring down the business end of her golden tag, an oddly familiar sight.

"I am holding you to that oath. Good company is hard to find these days."

This she says to you in a tender voice barely above whisper, so faint that you feel compelled to pinch yourself. It would be a damn shame if it were just a wishful hallucination on your part, but that was not all that was said, for another voice echoes in the calm of your heart.

"Thou art I... And I am thou... Thou has established a new bond... It brings thee closer to the truth... Thou shalt be blessed with the Faith of the Justice Arcana."

What? This feeling! You feel wonderful, inexplicable, filled with an energy and vitality you thought impossible. Where had this come from?

You almost lose your head in the excitement, and barely remember to reply to Sikieiki, as you rise to your full height once more, "Aye, that it is."

Hopefully, she has not noticed your lapse in concentration...but what would you have to fear from her? This was nothing harmful, yes?

The little Yama turns away, her mask of unruffled professionalism swiftly slipping back on, as she fixes her gaze at a grinning shinigami who had been watching the entire exchange. There was no use in protesting what happened, not that there was any need to in the first place. After all, you were among good friends.

"MA~CHI~!"

"Yes, Boss~!" Komachi salutes smartly.

"Spirit him away!"

Yamaxanadu Sikieiki, Judge of Paradise: truly, she is a woman of conviction you think fondly as she leaves you in the surprisingly capable hands of Komachi Onozuka.
>> No. 87629
File 124365710044.jpg - (645.87KB , 1200x799 , 4144738.jpg ) [iqdb]
87629
SYSTEM MSG:

Congratulations, you have established the Yamaxanadu Sikieiki Social Link of the Justice Arcana. The source of your divine power stems from the strength of faith that lies in one's own heart... And that very heart is strengthened through bonds. As you form bonds by becoming involved with others, so too will your powers grow.

---

Your journey across the Sanzu River is serene, unexpectedly, with yourself lying down seated in the small craft at the bow. You expected Onozuka Komachi to be teasing you and needling you for all sorts of "juicy details" the entire time. Still, a moment's respite for introspection is appreciated. You have quite a lot to think about and an equal number of questions to ask. In fact, why not try to get some answers from the shinigami-

"Holy Enma, hang on tight, 'hun!" Komachi sounds the alarm, suddenly. "Big Sis Machi Machi's gonna kick the Titanic into full steam!"

Any of your own protests were shut up when she followed through on her words, the little boat's bow lifted clear off the water, nearly dislodging, as it accelerated with unbelieveable force. You slam your eyes shut, holding on for dear life. Plunging into the Sanzu River after having left its waters so soon is definitely not high on your list, and you do not want to chance seeing whatever sanity eroding absurdity the shinigami was managing to propel the entire craft this fast.

The moment of terror seems to stretch into the infinite until the Titanic's keel abruptly makes landful, uttering a terrible whine that releases the breath you did not even know you were holding until now. You open your eyes and reorient yourself towards the stern with half the mind chastise Komachi for her insane stunt, when you see it: a wall of fog, impenetrable and enormous that consumes the entire run of the Sanzu River for as far as your vision reaches, even going as far as to blot out the sky.

"Phew, barely made it," the shinigami breathes with a relieved sigh, "Big Sis here thought we'd be goners for a second there."

You barely manage to control your natural reflex to snap at her in alarm. Breathe deep; it takes a few moments, but you regain your center and speak sensibly, "Goners?"

"It's z'at fog, 'hun," she thumbs back in its general direction, before hoping off her beached vessel.

"I do not see what worries you, Ono-" you correct yourself, with a rueful grin, "Machi-nee."

Komachi pauses for a moment, almost as if she stumbled, then turns to face you. "Wa ha ha ha ha! Don't mind, don't mind," she is pleased evidently with your recollection. "Ya might be a real special darlin', handsome, but even Big Sis doesn't expect ya to figure things out at first sight."

"Well, I shall resolve myself to surprise you one of these days," so you say, joining her on the riverbank as well.

"Oooo, I look forward to it, then. Anyways, 'bout that fog, 'hun? It ain't natural."

A ponderous silence.

"Machi-nee, are we not in the Netherworld?"

"Wa ha ha ha!" the shinigami laughs boisterously, "but, 'hun~, that fog is totally weird, even by dead people's standards!"

You were not expecting the hour to turn into a stand-up comedy routine, but more importantly...

"Weird, you say?"

"Uh-huh, and it did not show up until a little while ago, either. In fact..." Komachi drifts off, then winces abruptly as if she had just bitten into atrociously bitter fruit, "ehhhh~, never mind."

Now, what's this? Why did she do --- that --- just now? Did Komachi know something but was withholding the information from you?

"Seriously, don't mind, don't mind, 'hun! Leave it to the Ten Kings and the other Shinigami to figure it out. An ordinary ferrywoman like me and a newbie provisional Shinigami like you got no business poking out noses into it."

What! Did she just...

"W-Wait, I am a provisional shinigami?" you blurt out with a total lack of poise.

The redhead, thankfully, does not mind your frankness at all, "Yup, your boss is Koenma-sama himself, and your area supervisor is Sikieiki-sama. Totally awesome, right?"

Oh, Fortunes! Now, you really, really, really want to know what happened last night.

"Wa ha ha ha, what's with that sourpuss face? Tee hee hee, like I said, 'don't mind, don't mind', 'hun; you're in good hands guaranteed. Big Sis Machi Machi doesn't know all the details herself, but she reckons she can tell you a thing or two. Of course, the choice is up to you."

You cannot help but make an even more sour face. What is this about now?

"What do you mean, exactly, that the choice is up to me?"

"Well...y-you see," Komachi stutters, batting her eyelashes coquettishly at you. The effect is much more powerful than you could have anticipated, as you feel rather weak in the knees all of a sudden. "I got expressed orders to spirit ya off to the land o' the livin', ASAP, but-"

"But?" you breathe...a little too huskily for your tastes. Ugh. She must think you are some hopeless, common --- what's the word? --- horndog, by now. The ignominy of it all, but she does not seem to mind, judging from the amusement in her eyes. It could not hurt to indulge her a little more, right? Oh, what a bewitching devil she is to bring one divine as yourself to that of a mere man. ...perhaps, you could get used to this, at least from her, for now.

"Oh, you meanie~, can't ya tell how gosh darn embarassin' this is for your Big Sis?"

What?

You haven't...oh.

OH! Now, you understand. It appears Onozuka Komachi has a plan to take the scenic route so that you two may spend some time together. In all honesty, it does not sound like a bad proposition. You know very little of your true situation after all, and the total memory loss of the prior night's events does not help, either. As for the redhead herself, you could not ask for better company. She is a rather --- what's the expression? Ah! --- "My Pace" kind of woman, though you are concerned she is privy to some confidential information presumably, and that fog has given you something else to ponder, too.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] The Short Cut
[] The Scenic Route
[] ?????

And / or...

[] CHARM
[] REASON
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] BODY LANGUAGE(?!)
[] ?????
>> No. 87633
[x] The Scenic Route
[x] EMPATHY
>> No. 87634
[x] The Scenic Route
[x] EMPATHY

Machi Machi~
>> No. 87635
[x] The Scenic Route
[x] EMPATHY

sure why not.
>> No. 87636
[x] The Scenic Route
[x] EMPATHY
>> No. 87643
Dang, Anon, that was what, like just a little over 10 minutes and you already have consensus. Sheesh, y'all eat up this story like kids on krispy creme doughnuts and ice cream when I bust out the WAFF. Was it really that good?

Err, yeah, votes locked and commencin' with writin'.
>> No. 87653
[x] The Scenic Route
[X] CHARM
>> No. 87711
File 124373844130.jpg - (233.98KB , 519x734 , 3002601.jpg ) [iqdb]
87711
---

SYSTEM Update:

[X] The Scenic Route
[X] EMPATHY

BGM Load: "Joy", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

---

In retrospect, it would have been incredibly hard to deny Onozuka Komachi, and making beautiful women cry was not really becoming of your august self. Besides, you had questions in need of answering, and this was a good way as any to kill some time for fun.

You smile and favor the lively shinigami with a nod, "Lead on, Machi-nee."

Komachi blinks as if in disbelief to your positive reply, before bursting out in boisterous joyful mirth. For a moment, you swear you see golden musical nuts chime out above her, soon giving way to sparkling flowers, as she claps her hands together, and coyly cocks her to the side.

"Really, really? Are ya sure, 'hun?"

"Only a daft fool would say no to a beautiful woman."

"Wa ha ha ha! Now, aren't you the sweetest---eh?"

You follow her gaze up, and notice for the first time, the heavy gray, almost black clouds settling into to blot out the rays of Lady Sun. A rumble echoes, thunder from Raijin's gongs, and Fuujin blows his flute, letting loose the rain.

"Aa, this is bad..." Komachi deflates dryly. "It just had to start pourin' down now, didn't it? Barely, ever used to get rain around these parts too."

How miserable. In fact, even the loitering unbound souls nearby are clearing out from the inclement weather, a reflex from when they once walked the mortal coil, you imagine. It is only natural, after all, to seek shelter, but the strange netherforest is some distance away, and you note that an actual stone path cuts through the land, effectively limiting your options short of a rather undignified sprint.

You could call upon your divine self to conjure a karakasa like you did once before, but that seems to be a rather ostentatious abuse of your powers. Troubled, you then recall the presence of your modest travel pack. Perhaps, whoever ordered it prepared for you would have had the foresight to include...ah, excellent!

FWHIPP.

It may be a little indecent, but you do not think Komachi shall mind the intimacy terribly, as you grin wryly at her and offer your arm to her.

"Shall we, mi'lady?"

She blushes giving a particularly girlish, before she glues her well-endowed person to you practically, and coos into your ear, making your ears redden.

"Oooo, you're pretty smooth, 'hun. Think we should offer a word of thanks to whoever packed that dandy thing in for ya?"

How bold. You just barely manage to keep your cool when you reply contently:

"Yes, I must agree, Machi-nee."

Elsewhere, a green-haired Yama sneezes and wonders if she's coming down with the common cold.

---

The walk is astonishingly pleasant, and once more, you are reminded just how exquisitely warm she is, that zestful Onozuka Komachi. The fact you walk in the land of the twilight does little to dampen the mood as the two of you continue your animated conversation. Well, it was mostly her doing the talking and yourself reacting. True, you were a god, but right now, well, you did not feel that much different from any other man of humble beginnings.

As an enjoyable as the flirting was, Komachi did have important words to relay to you. First off, the land you were due bound for shortly was the "Special Administrative Ward of Gensokyo" or "SAWG"; the kanji translated literally to the Land of Illusion or Land of Fantasy, which struck you as a touch odd. You had never heard of such a place in all of Nihon. The shinigami alludes that the province is relatively young, having been in existence for a little over a hundred years, and its existence largely kept obscured in anonymity.

Its population is small, and the large influx of souls is actually from the provinces on the "Outside", bordering Gensokyo's Great Hakurei Boundary. You need not worry about culture shock, potentially, as the old spirit of Nihon is alive and well in these parts. Her reassurance strikes you as odd, but some equally strange prior knowledge on your part convinces you that you need not worry about her meaning for now.

The land of Gensokyo is a landlocked territory some tens of kilometers in diameter, but Komachi admits no one has ever been able to determine its true breadth. Besides, it is not its breadth that is a point of interest, but its depth. Gensokyo is deeply connected to various domains that mortals normally cannot access, including for starters Higan and the Netherword, but it is possible to ascend all the way even to the Celestial Heavens. Who knows, she jokes, you might even meet a relative or two while you are up "topside".

You are not aware that you have any family or relations beyond those you have been entangled with here in Higan, but you nod your ascent and follow along in rapt attention. The shinigami names several noteworthy locales for you: Youkai Mountain, the Forest of Magic, the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, a large lake somewhere's that she heard a Western-style mansion appeared mysteriously some years back, the Human Village, and most importantly - the Hakurei Shrine.
>> No. 87712
File 124373863471.jpg - (821.50KB , 1000x800 , f3711f11b428f5ee5ede0be829137259.jpg ) [iqdb]
87712
If there was anyone, who can be called the most important family in Gensokyo, it is the Hakurei Clan. Komachi advises you strongly not to get on their bad side. The Hakurei exist to watch over the Great Boundary, which ensures Gensokyo's existence, and by implication of that power, they have an inalienable right to resolve any major incidents that happen in the war and the muscle to back it up. They have done everything from banishing gods, sealing realms, and putting uppity, bellicose youkai back in their place.

Alas, hard times have fallen upon the venerable clan in recent years and at this very hour, they are survived only by one daughter, the present shrine maiden, Hakurei Reimu. The dreary news causes you to frown, which earns a sly grin for your troubles, as Komachi adds quickly that it would be your first and last mistake to think that Hakurei Reimu was wallowing self-pity. She is an, uncommonly, strong character much like Yamaxanadu Sikieiki and arguably the only person living with the stubbornness to match. Where they differ is clearly on the order of diligence.

The shrine maiden is a frighteningly easygoing character due to her utter lack of sense for danger. "Don't trifle with her, if you want to stay healthy, 'hun," the shinigami warns you coyly, tapping a finger to your nose. The embarrassed blush and wrinkling of your face sends her into a delightful fit of giggles, which you do not begrudge her for; it was a small price to pay, after all.

If her character was not a big enough indicator, than her feats should be all the more reason to be on your best behavior. Hakurei Reimu has just recently instituted a new means for "proactively peaceful conflict resolution" dubbed the Spell Card system, which was created by her no less, and is available in Musou and Shura styles. In fact, a memorandum just came down from the top that all officials and agents of Higan operating in the SAWG are hereby mandated to carry a copy of the Spell Card handbook and the cards themselves.

Komachi believes you should have these items in your pack, and if not, then you needed to go see Hakurei as soon as divinely possible to get them. They were not absolutely necessary, but it would help you to avoid stepping on the wrong toes, or causing a row so terrible that you call down the shrine maiden's wrath upon you. Make no mistake you were still a small time entity compared to the real heavy weights still lurking around some parts of Gensokyo's complex community.

You cannot help but feel a little insulted at that; the warm shinigami, though, is quick to assuage your ire. Funny how a finger upon your lips can cool and silence you so easily from the right person. But a little thinking on your part soon makes the wisdom of her words evidently clear: you are a newly reborn kami with no temple, no home, and no followers to call your own. The source of your faith comes only from yourself and your bond to the Judge of Paradise, whose presence even now you can sense faintly in the direction you came from.

Hnnn.

Komachi continues with her talk, now, focusing on the two styles of a "danmaku duel". Both essentially are meant to be non-lethal means of resolving conflict, almost like a sports event, but it is in execution how they differ. Musou is the "soft" style that emphasizes aerial combat with the "shooting" aspect of danmaku. Shura the "hard" style, in contrast, is a much more physical bout complete full-on contact strikes and so forth. Picking the right style will be paramount to your success in Gensokyo.

"Last, but not least, don't freak out about the high concentration of powerful and beautiful girls in these parts. In fact, lots of them can fly and do other abnormal things, too, 'hun. Big Sis Machi Machi hears it's got to do something about the unusually high concentration of faith in the area that makes the youkai stronger and other fancy things like magic actually work better than normal. Other---oh darn, looks like time is up."

Komachi pouts, coming to a stop, and so do you following her mournful gaze. You do not know when it happened, but you appear to have ascended an impossibly long flight of stairs, a literal stairway to heaven it appeared, for you are well above the rain clouds below. All around you is the strange sky of the netherworld in shades of red and violet, while still even higher is Lady Sun, and there at the end of your journey is a great torii archway, painted in a rich red, and adorned with many folded paper charms and so forth.
>> No. 87713
File 124373883230.jpg - (222.25KB , 600x848 , ff999afb4238a77e80ab8646c9887f86.jpg ) [iqdb]
87713
BGM Load: "Camellia", Iwasaki Taku

---

Understandably disgruntled, you turn to fix your gaze at her.

"What do you mean? We haven't-" you correct yourself, "have not even spoke of each other yet."

At this does Onozuka Komachi grin, reaching up to pinch your cheeks playfully, "Awww, don't be like that. It's just you and me right now, 'hun. Same thing Big Sis says to Eiki-san all the time. C'mon, loosen up a little."

"Oh, fine," you sigh.

"There that's more like you. Oh, and by the way, it's the year one-hundred-eighteen, Month of Water, the thirty-first day."

"Year one-hundred and eighteen?" you give her a stupefied look. "Surely, Nihon has been around for much longer than that."

"Of course," the redhead nods, holding up a pointing finger, "but this calendar is based on Gensokyo's foundation. Outside, it's the year two-thousand-three."

2003?! By the Fortunes, where have you been all this time?

"Oh! Wa ha ha ha, I almost forgot," Komachi releases your arm and steps away. Her absence is felt instantly by you, as a coldness you never noticed prior seeps vengefully into sinew and bone. The separation so agonizing to your heart that you almost reach out on instinct to bring her back to your side. It is only with a thin silver of restraint that you manage to control yourself.

This feeling of separation though...is this what they call "loneliness"? Your other self, your shield, your sword, your friend...Izanagi...offers no words, and lo, does the loathsome sting of the word cut even deeper. What a dreadful miracle that your feelings of turmoil does not reach your eyes.

"Tah dah!" Komachi's voice calls you back and you find yourself presented with two silken pouches, filled with some contents. The one in her left jingles with a shake while the one in her right is solid and silent. "Gifts, compliments of me, Sikieiki-sama, and Koenma-sama."

Wait, the Great King of Hell is playing a part in this?

"Some pocket money and a mystic mirror."

"A mystic mirror?" you ask with a raised brow, as she presses the gifts into your free hand. You try to refuse as it is only polite to refuse twice before accepting on the third time, an act that earns a twinkle in the redhead's mirthful eyes.

"With a little prana, you can't make this little handy fella as big or small as you need, but that's not all it does," she makes a curious gesture with her hand. Clutching into a fist first, then extending her pinky and her thumb out, before holding the entire gesture up to her ear. "It's also a handy thing for talking with people over long distances."

"Like..." the appropriate word curiously jumps into your mind, "a telephone?"

"Wa ha ha ha, now aren't you just full of surprises? Not too shabby at all."

"I see. How does it work?"

"Easy, first concentrate on the mirror, think of the person you want to talk to, and it'll handle the complicated bits. Right now, you can reach either me, Sikieiki-sama, or Koenma-sama with it. It runs on prana from the lunar cycle, so you don't have to worry over it. Works best at night time, but you can take calls during the day time too; just don't expect to be able to take for hours on end during the day time. Limited battery life, ya know?"

Strangely, you also seem to grasp this idea of "battery life" too. How queer. Is there truly a wealth of knowledge you already know but cannot consciously access at this very moment?

"Well, that's that. All Big Sis can offer ya, 'hun," Komachi sighs a touch wistfully, her shoulders slackening. "You got anything else for me before you step on through? Anything you forgot? 'cause once you step on through that torii, there's no coming back for a good long while until things settle down here."

Ah, it seems the decisive moment has come. You can only pray to the Fortunes that it will not cause this parting to end in sorrow. Yes, you want to trust so badly in Sikieiki and Komachi, but to believe blindly in them is a fallacy in itself! If you are trust them, then they ought to show some trust in you as well. The shinigami has her circumstances no doubt, but if she cares for you, as much as you have come to care for her, surely she will reciprocate your feelings.

Won't she? Alas, all you can do is pray and take the plunge.

"Onozuka Komachi," you began, using her full name for the first time, "I entreat you as a bosom friend to another, can you not tell me something of the plot that runs afoot here? Why have I been run out of Higan? Forced to flee like a common rogue, when you say I have come into its employment? Please; anything will do."

The shinigami smiles, so very sad and vulnerable at that moment; O Lady Sun does cast an enchanting forlorn glow upon her, igniting an inner fire in her very eyes and hair, the sight of which is breathlessly bewitching. Your augustness is no match it appears for in her presence you a very much so, just a man.

"I wish I could you everythin' I know, but I can't, friend of my heart. Even what little I know is dangerous."

Dangerous?! Your mind lights with outrage.

"Who dares-"

The cool, silken caress of a finger silences your fiery, passionate lips, with an impish wink.

"It's bad politics, but like I said, you're in good hands, and I think, the best of friends. It's only up to you to open up your heart and trust us. People get stronger when they got someone to fight for, ya know?"

You are absolutely thunderstruck and speechless. What... What are you supposed to say in a situation like this? This feeling... It does not exist anywhere within you, has never existed even before... It was born here and now.

Suddenly, with a big lively laugh, you find yourself pulled into a warm embrace, making you almost drop the red karakasa in your hand.

"Wa ha ha ha! I don't know why, but being 'round you, 'hun? It makes Big Sis Machi Machi feel alive again~, tee hee hee! Talk about weird, eh? ...But you know, I really don't mind it. You're good for me. Good for Eiki-san. And that strange Koenma-sama, too. I got the guts to even say you're the best thing that's happened to Higan in ages! And... well... You know, bein' around ya... Well, it feels nostalgic. Like deja vu. Like we met before, ya know?"

Heat, gentleness, affection, and the inexplicable feel of red tresses bombard you in a overwhelming onslaught all at once, as the body --- no, the soul beside you --- leans in, envelops, and rests against your neck. The fragrance of camellia reaches you; what should have been scentless had become something irresistible, not sake, but a --- a wine, something priceless, warm and content. You are powerless, yet you wish to be here forever, in this moment.

"H-Hey, promise you'll call on me some time? It gets kinda lonely and borin' on the job all by myself. I mean, ugh... Really I'd like to meet face to face, but...right now... Well, that'd just be your Big Sis acting selfish, wouldn't she?"

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Promise Komachi
[] Deny the shinigami
[] ?????

And / or...

[] CHARM
[] REASON
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] BODY LANGUAGE
[] ?????

---
>> No. 87716
[x] Promise Komachi
[x] Body Language
>> No. 87717
[x] Smile "A younger brother can't deny his big sister's wishs."
[x] Give her a hug goodbye.

Machi~
>> No. 87718
Dang, Anon, you folks gonna use the "Men Need Not Words!" / Body Language option this time? ...you know that's what it's there for right? If you don't want say to anything and just do, that's the one to pick.

That said, I am all ears for a good write-in; it might just be worth your while.
>> No. 87719
[X] Promise Komachi
[X] BODY LANGUAGE
>> No. 87720
[X] Promise Komachi
[X] BODY LANGUAGE
>> No. 87737
[X] Promise Komachi
[X] BODY LANGUAGE
>> No. 87748
[X] Promise Komachi
[X] RESPEKT KNUCKLES

"My word is bond. Now give me a pound."
>> No. 87774
[ODIN] Promise Komachi
[ODIN] BODY LANGUAGE

Aw, Big Sis Machi Machi is really adorable.

Let's not ruin the moment with words, she'll know what we mean anyway.
>> No. 87786
File 124383470115.jpg - (872.93KB , 900x1387 , 3630903.jpg ) [iqdb]
87786
---

SYSTEM Update:

[X] Promise Komachi
[X] BODY LANGUAGE

BGM Load: "Mada Warete nee Janeeka, Shabontama", Kamagata Eiichi

---

They say, "Men are creatures of few words for they have no need of such pretentious things to convey their feelings", and at the moment, you decide you shall live up to the idiom. Summoning a few impish little Izanagi to free your hands of certain articles and tuck them away, you return Onozuka Komachi's embrace without hesitation. Indeed, you fear that had you said anything it would only cheapen the purity of the feelings, which you wished to convey to her, but are frankly lacking the genius to do so. All you could manage was to just be --- honest.

The beauteous redhead gasps with shock at first, disbelieving mayhap of the reality, but when she gives you an extra squeeze and you do not happen to evaporate into air, she giggles happily and snuggles closer. Entangled in sweet embrace do you both remain, simply savoring the moment's respite of easy company, and an unspoken understanding that rivaled the glories of thunderstruck epiphanies. You cannot even recall when you felt this close to someone else, and even more astonishing, a stranger who had welcomed you into her grace but in the span of a few short days.

"Mmmm, definitely, definitely, nostalgic~..." the delightful redhead moans as if in a heady, content stupor, "I've missed this...you..."

Truly, you are blessed and lucky to have found Onozuka Komachi, or maybe, it was she who found you, fishing you out from the Sanzu River no less? Indeed, do you feel the stirrings of a faint bond forming between yourself and she in this private moment of intimacy, as a voice echoes in the warmth of your heart.

"Thou art I... And I am thou... Thou has established a new bond... It brings thee closer to the truth... Thou shalt be blessed with the Faith of the Death Arcana."

Onozuka Komachi, a woman beautiful and warm; she was an anachronism that did not fit the macabre image of a shinigami at all. You cannot help but wonder what manner of circumstances lead to her becoming a shinigami? Perhaps, she, too, will be a mystery you shall unravel as time goes on and your bonds deepen, and you most certainly have not forgotten Yamaxanadu Sikieiki either. Yes, you sense the times ahead will be far from boring with company like this.

Alas, such a moment cannot last forever; it was time to depart.

"Wa ha ha ha! Aww, you're the sweetest~, 'hun!" Komachi laughs, reassuming that peculiar platonic mantle once more, as she steps away from you. "Those poor broads in Gensokyo don't stand a chance against a bonafide casanova like you. Tee hee, hee, I'm rootin' for ya, but don't be surprised when you get burned~, caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Don't mind, don't mind; Big Sis Machi Machi will be here always like the real deal for you to cry on her shoulder."

The redhead skips up and taps you on the nose, feather light, and well, oddly endearing. Yes, definitely not your average shinigami was she.

"Now, go on; go get 'em, tiger~."

The gesture that comes to mind does not ring any bells to you, but it felt --- fitting. You gesture with a single "thumbs up", holding the pose for a moment, as if imagining a dramatic radiance stemming from your very person, before turning and stepping through the archway.
>> No. 87787
File 124383484089.jpg - (37.47KB , 500x649 , 2983588.jpg ) [iqdb]
87787
...Whoa.

Wait, when, no, where are you? What just happened? You walked through the torii, and then, what...you're here, wherever here is?

You take a deep breath and try to wrestle with the absurdity of what just happened. In simple terms, you have been transported, instantly, no transition, nothing, straight to your destination; somewhere in the world above of the living. Of course, you have no idea where you are in Gensokyo, though it appears to be a civilized location.

Here: a stone cobbled path you discover, wide enough for a single drawn cart to pass through, with trees and flora to either side of the path. The sky, and thank the Fortunes it is a "normal" sky, is dark and overcast, a touch of dark blue and greys here and there, but there is no mistaking this was the sky you spent much of your life living under. Alas, you seemed to have picked the most horrible day to appear, for it is raining quite hard, and already you are soaked.

Damn that Ebisu, you can only pray your august constitution will see you through this day, but for now you settle for shaking your trembling fist up at Raijin and Fuujin dramatically. Alas, not having anyone to witness your manly fury kind of makes you sad---to the point you never notice the basal pitter-patter of rain hitting something decidedly artificial. The dainty, rich feminine giggle though catches your attention in a heartbeat.

Funny how women seem to be able to draw your interest in a flash, eh?

Aye, and the creature before you was certainly worth your haste: a woman, tall and, ahem, "full" as Onozuka Komachi, but whereas the shinigami was blessed with an enviable normalcy, she was clearly something more ethereal. Possessed of silvery hair and red eyes of burgundy to match your own, her skin was very fair to the point of giving off almost a kind of iridesence, with the tiniest change of light. The faint touch of lipstick combined with the Western attire she wore was very impressive, and now, you cannot help but feel a little embarrassed at pratically ravaging her with your eyes alone.

You avert your gaze embarrassedly and fumble around for your own karakasa to ward off the elements, lest you resemble wet dog anymore than you already do. ...though, come to think of it, her attire---it resembles that of Koenma's personal servants greatly, those two twins. Might this woman be some manner of servant herself? The white apron and hairdress certainly suggest so... Ah, how you envy the spoiled bastard or snobbish mistress who has her to wait on their hand and feet, every waking moment of their lives.

"Ara ara, and you looked so crestfallen but a moment ago," her melodius voice teases you, warm yet reserved, "did you see something that struck your fancy, O-Ronin-sama?"

Now, you were no common masterless Samurai or "wannabe" Samurai, but you sense she did not mean it in a condescending manner. The word "ronin" meant literally a wave man, and judging by your dress, you were a traveler.
Still, it is difficult to hide your shame at being caught with absolute proof of your impropriety. Thankfully, your courage is strong enough for you to own up to your misdeed, and you dare say bluster a little bit.

"Why, yes, and I pity the poor fool that is unable to appreciate the immeasurable worth of your extraordinary beauty, either by blindness or bigotry."

She giggles, veiling her mouth in a dainty gesture of etiquette, not common amongst the peasantry that tells of her profession or possibly her higher upbringing. The faint hue of red on her ivory cheeks was solid evidence that your gambit had been worth the while.

"Ara~, how bold. I see, it is true that outsiders come in all kinds."

"An outsider?" you raise a brow. "Me?"

"If it is your intention to mask your nature, might I suggest a change of clothes, O-Ronin-sama?"

She has a point there. Black "trousers", black leather "boots", and your black short sleeveed "shirt" with its red trim were no going to help you blend in the slightest. Also, to supplement the obi tying the white yukata with a blue and green "waves of the sea" print, which you wore on top like a haori, was an actual Western-style "belt". Yeah, you were definitely foreigner material. ...though once again, you wonder where this knowledge of gaijin things comes from...

"Ah ha ha, I get around," you laugh it off, confidently.

The ethereal woman nods and then abruptly brings her hand to her glossed lips in a gasp.

"Oh my, speaking of getting around, I must return to the village at once."

"The village?" you decide to play the part of the "Outsider" instinctively. Wise it was to play the fool and gain more insight into a matter than you already knew in the first place, yes?

"Ah, I apologize, you are new, so you would not know. I am from the Human Village, and my name is..." a troubled frown graces that ethereal lightness to your alarm, before she shakes her head, masking the maelstrom of emotion behind a smile. "...it is of no consequence. If you need food and shelter tonight, I would recommend bedding down at the inn in the village. The night is dangerous in these lands and soon shall the sun set."

Her look just now concerns you; after all, such a weary expression does not suit a woman, but you ignore the lapse in her "face" out of politeness. You have only met and it would be foolishness to think she is someone as open-minded and frank as Onozuka Komachi.

"And why is that?"

"The youkai," she explains, "are more active in the evening light. The Fortunes have mercy on you should you encounter one that decides to make a meal out of you. Also, it does not help matters that on days like this, especially when the fog comes in, that even the reasonable ones may become violent and hateful."

Strange, so the realm of the living, too, is plagued by a mysterious fog?

"I see. Do you have need of me to accompany you?" you offer naturally.

The reaction is a heartening sight to behold for the ethereal woman colors and laughs delightfully. It seems you are quite the charmer.

"Oh Heavens, Ebisu bless you, O-Ronin-sama, I will be quite all right. I happen to have a charm that makes me invisible to the weak and young youkai. They are the ones usually out on the prowl and dangerous to us common folk."

Ebisu bless you? That laughing good-for-nothing has been cursing you the entire day...then again, you have been having good luck with your social relationships thus far, so you suppose you could not begrudge him for everything.

"Good to know someone is thinking of me."

"Wherever you chose to bed down this night, I shall pray for your comfort and safety, O-Ronin-sama," she smiles, and gestures down the steps. "The Human Village is northwest of here. Follow this path down the hill and look for the tiny shrines to Ojizou-sama to guide you along the dirt road. It will take some hours to reach on foot, but that is a decision for you to take me."

The woman points in the opposite direction; this time you take note that she has done both gestures without pointing her finger, but with a wave of her entire hand, palm up, as if she were sweeping or cupping something. Interesting.

"And if you are brave enough, continue on this path up the hill and you shall reach Hakurei Shrine. I was, in fact, trying to have an audience with the shrine maiden, concerning a small matter for my employer, but alas, she was unavailable."

Oh Fortunes, this is the land of the Hakurei?

"If you are ever in the village, I---" she corrects herself with a wry twinkle in her red eyes, so much like yours, "we would be happy to serve you at our humble tea house, The Blue Ageha. Please, stop by at your leisure in our themed establishment, though bear in mind our clintelle includes both humans and youkai, and we are quite popular. All are welcome within the ephemeral dream of the Ageha, and with that said, I must take my leave: good day to you, O-Ronin-sama."
>> No. 87788
File 124383504095.jpg - (158.41KB , 600x790 , 67078cd8e72c690d40a8b850243c0528.jpg ) [iqdb]
87788
You bow hastily as she, too, bows to you. To speak now would fly in the face of etiquette, but in a way, watching her leave, you could understand her curt farewell. It was better, after all, not to expect much from a stranger she had just met, but you cannot help but be intrigued by her manner; her beauty a definite plus to the mystery.

"Well, I shall have to see about seeing her again some time...oh, damnation."

Ah, you just realized you did not ask for her name or give your own. Tsk, tsk, tsk, better luck next time. However, before you can even think to react at your blunder, a frustrated shout reaches your ears from higher up. This one, clearly male, and his footsteps were drawing closer. Being who you are, you have half-the-mind to teach this fellow a lesson for interrupting a most epic self-pitying monologue you were about to launch into, when you both see each other. Unseen to you both a pair of exclamation marks kick off simultaneously above your heads.

It is the Great (Little) King of Hell, Koenma.

---

BGM Load: "Death the Kid (So Crazy)", Iwasaki Taku

---

"You!" you both cry out in synch less than a second later, and both in less than polite terms of the word. Ah, the subtle beauty of Japanese.

"What are you doing here?" your opposite number demands with a disdainful tic in his brow.

"I could ask the same you," you fire right back at him with equal vehemence, "keeping an eye on me, after all the trouble you have caused me this day, Koenma-kun~? I did not know you cared so much."

"Care? I care? Me? Care about you, you worthless unsymmetrical, fake perm, natural airheaded, Nice Guy?"

Hey, hey, you are not a fake perm. Your hair is perfectly natural this way, and hey, it is true: a guy with a perm is generally an airheaded nice guy! It is all thanks to the feel good radiation vibes they absorb straight through their perms. ...Wait a second, where did all this come from? Never mind, you are going to teach this punk a lesson for thinking he can play god with your life.

"Well, I think you do care, you tsundere, two-toned, metrosexual Goth! And you are nobody to be accusing someone else of being unsymmetrical; hell, your bangs on the left do not even match your bangs on the right!"

GOAL~! Your insult strikes home as you see all the passionate fire die instantly in Koenma's golden eyes. He slumps, hanging his head in shame, and the rain that once seemed to natural repel around him promptly comes crashing down on top of him, soaking him through to the bone in minutes. Weird. It seemed awfully exaggerated. Did he have some power to repell and attract things naturally?

"I knew it," the Great King of Hell begins in a mournful voice, cutting short your thoughts. "I am the most worthless one of them all! I-I I should have never been born at all! Trash, idiot, the worst... Somebody please kill me now!"

Wow. Hey, hey, hey...isn't he going a little overboard? If you knew he was that sensitive, you might have gone a little easier on him.

"Hey, Koenma, are you all..."

"Don't call me Enma! I am unworthy! It's Death! Death the Kid! Say it! Say my name!"

Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, awkward~ much~?

Still, feeling remorseful for reducing him to such a pathetic state, you cannot help but try to humor him some, "Uh, yeah, Kid."

"Kid? Kid? KID!" Death the Kid perks up, abruptly. The sight disturbs your inner center positively to the core for he looks at you with eyes filled with stars and I kind of peculiar delirium you once say in men who had been delivered from certain death. "You... You... You understand me?"

"Uh, why wouldn't I?" you hazard cautiously, not knowing what to expect. The fellow seems to have a rather flighty personality.

"I knew it! We really do speak the same language!"

And what the hell does he mean by that?

"Now, it makes me feel all the better after that horrible shrine maiden kicked me out of her shrine. Can you believe she did not listen to a single word I said? You know, it's not easy for me to schedule time for myself to come outside and do things. Oh, I hope Liz and Patty are holding down my office all right, and haven't screwed the paperwork. I am still in shock we even managed to get everything done in time before that old tanuki, Ougi, could sink his fangs into you. Now the bastard is trying to undermine my authority by appealing your case! That old bleeding eyesore."

Holy Zen, did this fellow just rant out to you...wait a second, here!

"Wait, Ougi? As in the Judge of something-something, Ougi Ichirou?" you ask the Enma in alarm.

"The very same," he nods to you, off-hand, tucking a thoughtful fist underneath his chin. "The case is finished, but he still wants to prosecute you that's why we had to get you out of Higan and the Netherworld ASAP, before something horrible happened."

Holy Zen, looks you have made an enemy, though you did not even have a clue about it until now. Komachi had not been kidding about bad politics, and --- cool, looks like the repelling effect is back in action and Kid is drying right off. You wonder if he could teach you...agh, what a time to be thinking about such foolishness, when there are much more important questions to be asked, and one of them you shall demand right now.

"Wait, why are you doing all this for me?"

The Great King of Hell stares at you dumbly, not because he is dumb, but clearly he is wonder if you have lost your mind. Still, he answers you nevertheless in a matter of fact tone before you can growl out your displeasure at being taken lightly. "Well, is it not natural to stand up for one's principles? Besides, I already said you are an entertaining bastard and I wanted you to work for me, which you are, by the way. To be honest, I think you and I share similar progressive views about Higan's Justice."

Progressive views? You?

"Anyways, don't worry about your case, as long as you are out here doing work for me and Sikieiki, you'll pretty much be immune to any litigation. The problem is...ah, we'll worry about that when we get to that point. Don't worry we'll be sending you some assignments soon enough."

Well, you are not much an expert with law, so you would have to take his word for it. However, there is something that concerns you.

"Assignments?" you quirk a brow at him.

"Relax, relax," Death the Kid waves you off in a placating manner, "we are not going to throw ridiculous requests for a newborn kami right from the get go. Maybe a little gofer work and some cleaning but nothing big, and we promise to keep you out of the Netherworld unless it's absolutely necessary you got to go. As for why I am here..."

"That's right," you say to him in a haughty, accusing tone, "just what are you doing here?"

He answers, completely unruffled; an oddly straightforward character he is, despite his station and power, "Well, to talk to you, plus I was trying to arrange a place for you as your base of operations, before---a troublesome woman I know comes back from her vacation. She and I have an understanding, but her attitude is absolutely and incorrigibly atrocious. She is from my father's generation, an old timer, real powerful, megalomaniac, thinks of Gensokyo as her personal playground; pretty much, the works."

Who the hell was this? She sounds dangerous.
>> No. 87789
File 124383511961.jpg - (122.32KB , 600x600 , 99ac19907e80743605c2b5e626b874fa.jpg ) [iqdb]
87789
"I failed," Koenma admits to with a long suffering sigh, "but maybe you can convince Hakurei to let you stay."

"Hakurei?" you blurt out in wide-eyed flabbergasted shock. The one person and family Komachi told you to watch out for, and now, the Great King of Hell wants you to try and succeed where he failed? "That Hakurei Reimu?!"

"The very same. You see, this entire hill and land?" he fans his hands out, indicating to your present surroundings for emphasis, "it's a Sacred Ground; completely, utterly, absolutely must have real estate for a fledgling kami like you."

A sacred ground? What luck and what misfortune. You need to introduce yourself to the land god at once!

"But there is no Land God."

...WHAT?!

"You must be joking!"

Death the Kid grins.

"I am not. Best kept secret in the SAWG and I am going to let you in on it: the God of Hakurei has been dead for a long, long time, and this is your big chance. If you can convince Hakurei to let you stay, and if you can gain control of the bed of the Land God, you my friend stand to gain everything. Ougi will have to send squads of shinigami, hire out, or send his best if he wants to extradite you by force into his jurisdiction."

Holy Zen, the plot continues to thicken does it not?

"Wait, Ougi's going to what?" you ask for clarification, with a stern eye.

The golden-eyed "young man" flinches, as if he had been struck. Now, you were not expecting that to happen. A being such as he ought to have confidence night unshakable, and yet... "Oh damn, sorry, didn't mean to let that slip. Look, you have to trust me and everyone on this."

Why is he so human...and fallible? He is just like Sikieiki and Komachi.

"We came up with the plan on short notice and the situation is still very fluid and unstable. If you don't take these steps right now to protect yourself, all of us will only suffer in the long run. I am a king but this kingdom is not just my own to rule. ...I am not even half the man my father was..."

Then the unthinkable happens, the Great King of Hell drops in a blue of black and white, and before you know it, his head is bowed low and his very august person, a being that could snuff you out in a heartbeat had he the mind to---was prostrating himself to you. Once again, he was soaked to the bone in a flash. Fortunes, his forehead was touching the very stones and in this contemptible rain!

"Please, I beg of you believe in me, in us, and in yourself. Go to Hakurei. Surely, you have the power to change the World, to alter fate untouchable, and to face yourself: please, Izanagi!"

The power to change the World, to alter fate untouchable, and to face yourself? What is he talking about? Does Death the Kid know something about you, and perhaps, the others as well? All of this, all of a sudden, it is so much. ...Still, there is little doubt you have come to an important crossroads yet again. The purpose of your flight to here becomes more clear, though the exact details still escape you. There is an enemy longing for you in Hell, intrigue and danger beset you at all sides, as a fog descends over the future, clouded and uncertain, but even in such dire despair, you feel there is a ray of hope shining through the gloom, for you are not alone just as Onozuka Komachi said. The fact you are standing here now with the King of Hell, is that not enough proof of their goodness and sincerity?

You want to believe...

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Trust Kid
[] Disdain the Pathetic King of Hell
[] ?????

And / or...

[] CHARM
[] REASON
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] BODY LANGUAGE
[] ?????
>> No. 87790
[x] Trust Kid
[x] REASON
>> No. 87792
[x] Trust Kid
[x] REASON
>> No. 87793
[x] Trust Kid
[x] REASON
>> No. 87796
[x] Trust Kid
[x] REASON
>> No. 87797
[x] Trust Kid
[x] REASON
>> No. 87798
Dang, Anon, that was fast too. I bust out 4000 words and you guys eat it right up. Don't sweat, we're almost done with the Prologue and the full game world will finally open up to you. And yeah, I'll be sure to give you all a brief on what to expect when we get there.

Votes locked and writin'.
>> No. 87799
>>87798

Hooray!
>> No. 87811
>He answers, completely unruffled; an oddly straightforward character he is, despite his station and power, "Well, to talk to you, plus I was trying to arrange a place for you as your base of operations, before---a troublesome woman I know comes back from her vacation. She and I have an understanding, but her attitude is absolutely and incorrigibly atrocious. She is from my father's generation, an old timer, real powerful, megalomaniac, thinks of Gensokyo as her personal playground; pretty much, the works."

...if this is who I think it is...

OHSHIT!!!
>> No. 87827
File 124390423316.png - (243.42KB , 480x640 , 1788021.png ) [iqdb]
87827
SYSTEM Update:

[X] Trust Kid
[X] REASON

BGM Load: "I'll Face Myself", Shoji Meguro

---

Geez, what a troublesome bunch they are, betting on an unknown quantity and sticking their necks out for a perfect stranger. They have worked so hard to come this far; the least you can do was to meet those fellows halfway, right? Man, it really can't be helped.

"Oi, oi!" you begin in an endearingly annoyed voice. "Is that any way for the Great King of Hell to act? I'm just a homeless, good-for-nothing god. Come on, lift your face and stand up, Death the Kid."

The young man in black freezes, a quirk that stirs a touch of disturbed annoyance in yourself. You pray this sort of reaction was not going to be the norm as you are starting to tire of seeing it so many times in one day. Were people that selfish or did you look that much like a bad guy to evoke this sort of response every time you willingly entangle yourself with others? Fortunes, it was they who decided to meddle in affairs that were not any of their business in the first place.

"Look, just a little common sense from me to you: the trick to being a good king, a leader, is a little confidence, and knowing who your friends are; those stubborn idiots you can rely on to pull you up when things get messy. See, they say gods are omnipotent and infallible, but when we have feelings and fears just like any mortal, then the difference between us and they is not something that great. To be weak does not mean weakness; it teaches us to be kinder and stronger."

Now, does Death the Kid finally lift his face, favoring you with an expression of awe, as if seeing you truly for the first time. You bite back a groan; the last thing you want is someone hero worshiping you. You have not even accomplished anything yet but survive by the skin of your teeth.

"Kid, take my hand, and get up," this you phrase as an order, while you gaze at him sternly, not a suggestion. "If I start hearing lightning from Raijin, you, my friend, are on your own. I just started living again, and I do not have any plans for an early retirement, you hear?"

He takes the proffered hand and stands, much to your relief. Having the strongest God of Death acting less than he was had honestly made you uncomfortable, and to think, this crybaby fellow was the leader of Higan. Something was definitely going on down there that the Celestial Heavens did not know about... Your concerns, though, are swept aside when he speaks, an unusually earnest tone.

"Thanks."

You smile.

"Anytime."

And lo, did you sense a faint bond forming between yourself and the Great King of Hell...

"Thou art I... And I am thou... Thou has established a new bond... It brings thee closer to the truth... Thou shalt be blessed with the Faith of The Emperor Arcana."

...but the start of something, a new determination to live on in these troubled times, uncovering the mystery in pursuit your true self.

---

SYSTEM MSG:

Congratulations, you have founded The New World Fool Social Link of The Fool Arcana! As of now, you have grasped:

The New World Fool Social Link of The Fool Arcana - Rank 1.
The Yamaxanadu Sikieiki Social Link of the Justice Arcana - Rank 1.
The Onozuka Komachi Social Link of the Death Arcana - Rank 1.
The Death the Kid Social Link of The Emperor Arcana - Rank 1.

Much you have grown and more you shall as more mysteries you discover. The die has been cast and no longer can it be stopped. The cautious steps of your infancy are about to end and soon shall the adventure of your childhood begin.

---
>> No. 87828
File 124390438583.jpg - (266.19KB , 1266x671 , 70643de402f3769570aadd91bd3e6fd5.jpg ) [iqdb]
87828
Hakurei Shrine looked like it felt, that is a place that had seen better days. You can imagine the glory days when many came to visit and worship, a happier time when the priest's wife would be instructing her daughters to succeed her as the shrine maiden or pursuing more secular ambitions, while the man himself and his sons walked the path of the fine line between the two worlds. Now, the shrine grounds were shabby, forlorn, and especially haunted this raining evening, for there was not a soul in sight and not even a single lantern lit. You even spot the faded red paint on its once proud torii archway, peeling off, and frightfully enough, there is not a single offering in the donation box. Clearly, the absence of a god and the decline of the Hakurei Clan has been hard felt, contrary to any appearances.

All this land, this shrine, and this big house for one lone girl to manage all by herself? Fate has been unusually cruel, indeed. And for what? This place does not even have a god anymore; he or she died or perhaps even outright abandonned this sacred ground, along with their most devout followers.

But things would change today, you swore, starting with a donation of one ryou from your now rather healthy coffers had swelled to forty of the prized gold pieces, thanks to the efforts of your friends. You wonder where they got all this currency from as you cannot see what use would those in the realm beyond have for the frivolities of the living? It was not as if anyone there really had any use for food, drink, shelter, or possessions, except as a luxury.

Then again, you can imagine such indulgence, and who were you to complain as you were the beneficiary of such eccentric excess.

You clap your hands together so as to offer a prayer under the awning of the donation box, but pause, feeling suddenly foolish. Yes, there was no god here, well, except for you, so who were you to offer your prayer to?
So with reluctance, do you unfurl your parasol once more, stepping into the cold rain, and wonder just how were you to find the last descendant of Hakurei? You could go snooping around the compound, but that would be improper and criminal!

You are a god and such behavior is unbecoming of you. At the very least, you should circuit the perimeter and try calling out for her. If she was home, surely she would answer your cries, yes? Kid was just here so she could not have gone somewhere, and you would loathe to think anyone in their sane mind would go out in this horrible downpour; the weather had worsened on your way up here. Effectively, you were stuck and had no where else to go that was dry and hospitable.

The woods were not a welcomed proposition after coming this far. Come Hell or high water, you would convince Hakurei Reimu to let you stay some how, so you resolve. Abruptly with a mighty thunderclap, Raijin strikes, flashing white lightning in the dark thundering sky, a display so sudden and dastardly that it causes you to cry out in manly fright. Again, he strikes and your courage fails you, driving you back under the awning where...

---

BGM Load: "It can't be helped! I'll suck it up for just one minute and twenty seconds!", Iwasaki Taku - Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Complete OST

---
KRAK-THAK

"UWAAAHHH!"

It is a ghost! A real ghost! The ghost of a drowned shrine maiden past! Damn you, Ebisu; was this part of his diabolical plot to get back at you for badmouthing him the whole day. So troublesome! If you got cursed in your present state, there was no telling how long it would take to remove the curse of the dead maiden.

"You," the drowned shrine maiden of yesteryear addresses you.

"AAAAAAAAAGHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" you cry back like an idiot, gesticulating vigorously at her.

"What are you-"

"AAAAAAAAGHHHHHhhhhhh!!!"

"Who are-"

"AAAAAAAGGGHHHHhhhh!!!"

"Oi, are you even-"

"AAAGGHHHHhhh!!"

"Are you out of breath yet?" asks the haunting soaked shrine maiden, holding up a visibly trembling fist.

"Aaaghhh..." you cry at her hoarsely. Yeah, you were quite done screaming like a little girl, even a god's lungs can only cry out for so long, you know?

"Fine, let me help then you, IDIOT!"

You were expecting a punch, not a kick to your shins! Ouchies; it hurts so bad it sends you hopping about on one leg while the irate "ghost" blasts you with the fool force of a baleful glare. On second thought, she must be quite alive to be able to touch you and is possessed of none of the otherworldiness you would be able to perceive in a ghost. Oh yes, this shrine maiden was quite warm, flesh and blood, judging by the raised goosebumps on her exposed arms, and that tantalizing way her water logged raiments clung to her adolescent-

PUNCH.

"Uoofff!" you flinch, feeling a nasty sting on your cheek, and bring hand to cup your wound. Hopefully, it would not bruise. "Whuf wuss thaf for!?"

"Reparations for sexual harrassment, Outsider!" the shrine maiden huffs, arms akimbo on her hips, "Now, who are you, and what do you think you're doing tresspassing on my family's shrine? Shelter's not free, so if you want out of the rain, go shiver in the woods for all I care. I'm in a pissy mood tonight, and if you're not donating, you sure as my foot into your crotch are getting off my property!"

Oh, wow. Could she be...

"W-Wait, are you The Hakurei? As in Hakurei no Reimu?" you ask her dumbfounded.

"And. just," she murmurs with a madly ticking brow. The shrine maiden rears back, drawing in a deep breath, before declaring impossibly in a thunderous voice to shake the heavens:

"WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM, HUH?! I AM HAKUREI NO REIMU, THE FATED SHRINE MAIDEN OF HAKUREI, PEERLESS IN ALL HEAVEN AND EARTH! IF YOUR HEART ISN'T PREPARED, THEN TOO BAD 'COS LOVE CONSULTATION HOURS ARE OVER, AND MY FOOT IS ABOUT TO KICK YOU HIGHER THAN THE SUN!"

Lightning and Thunder chorused dramatically, and here stood the last shrine maiden, the last scion of Hakurei totally and utterly --- BADASS! It appears you have underestimated grossly that immense gravity of your task, and it is self-evident why the Great King of Hell failed. There was not a single ounce of fear in this dark-haired girl's body; in fact, you swear there are literal black waves of anger rolling off of her! Her eyes challenge you unflinchingly, and by Bishamonten, the Fortune of Warriors, was she pissed! This was not going to be easy and you suspect it won't take much to incite her to kick your homeless august backside all over this hill.

CAUTION: What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Explain yourself to the mighty Red-and-White
[] Bargain with the Hakurei
[] Try to calm down O-Reimu
[] Change the Subject
[] ?????

And / or...

[] CHARM
[] REASON
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] BODY LANGUAGE
[] ?????

---
>> No. 87831
Okay, explaining ourselves and changing the subject are out, CHARM and INTIMIDATION are suicidal right now...
BODY LANGUAGE is chancey at best...

Bargaining might work, but trying to calm her down, specifically by making mention of the fact we just donated might make her tolerate us until she's in a more reasonable mood.
EMPATY and REASON are a toss-up to me.

[X] Try to calm down O-Reimu.
[X] REASON

Feel free to pierce the heavens if I don't.
>> No. 87832
[ODIN] Bargain with the Hakurei
[ODIN] BRIBERY
[ODIN] Try to regain some semblance of composure and dignity, then hand the honoured O-Reimu a handful of Ryou.
[ODIN] "Ever has Our Augustness brought prosperity and plenty to this land of Nihon, and even in these late days when both We and Our children already have grown old shall We bless the deserving. To Our eternal shame Our offering is humble, but We have but recently returned to Our rightful majesty."
[ODIN] Deep bow.


Money and politeness will win the day.
>> No. 87836
[x] EMPATHY
[x] "Who you are, you've made quite clear, Hakurei Reimu, priestess to a vacant shrine. Your reputation proceeds you."
[x] "I apologize for the rudeness of my attache. He is very young and very spoiled by his father the Enma. A better reference of character I hope would be the Yama of this realm, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, whom I am proud to call my friend."
[x] "As for myself, I am the creator god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. With my bride Izanami, I stood at the navel of the world, and thrust the spear Ame-no-nuhoko into the chaotic depths to raise up this land from the primordial ocean."
[x] "And if there is but a single iota of reverence for the will of the gods and the heavens, if you truly are trained as a priestess of Shinto, if that uniform and gohei are not merely costume and prop, then I have an offer for you, Reimu Hakurei, if you are willing to hear it."

Yeah, he may technically our superior, but he's a kid, and as we exist in Shinto without Buddhism and its cosmology was tacked on to it, we have no such superior. He's more a sidekick, really.

Empathy because we should be the opposite of proud; we have been stripped of most of our power, literally having our soul ripped apart, after having been dredged up from the bottom of the Sanzu, after sleeping for countless eons. We're not looking for a fight, or to stir up trouble, or mock and insult her. We're just a God, searching for Our People.
>> No. 87838
[x] EMPATHY
[x] "Who you are, you've made quite clear, Hakurei Reimu, priestess to a vacant shrine. Your reputation proceeds you."
[x] "I apologize for the rudeness of my attache. He is very young and very spoiled by his father the Enma. A better reference of character I hope would be the Yama of this realm, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, whom I am proud to call my friend."
[x] "As for myself, I am the creator god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. With my bride Izanami, I stood at the navel of the world, and thrust the spear Ame-no-nuhoko into the chaotic depths to raise up this land from the primordial ocean."
[x] "And if there is but a single iota of reverence for the will of the gods and the heavens, if you truly are trained as a priestess of Shinto, if that uniform and gohei are not merely costume and prop, then I have an offer for you, Reimu Hakurei, if you are willing to hear it."
>> No. 87839
[x] EMPATHY
[x] "Who you are, you've made quite clear, Hakurei Reimu, priestess to a vacant shrine. Your reputation proceeds you."
[x] "I apologize for the rudeness of my attache. He is very young and very spoiled by his father the Enma. A better reference of character I hope would be the Yama of this realm, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, whom I am proud to call my friend."
[x] "As for myself, I am the creator god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. With my bride Izanami, I stood at the navel of the world, and thrust the spear Ame-no-nuhoko into the chaotic depths to raise up this land from the primordial ocean."
[x] "And if there is but a single iota of reverence for the will of the gods and the heavens, if you truly are trained as a priestess of Shinto, if that uniform and gohei are not merely costume and prop, then I have an offer for you, Reimu Hakurei, if you are willing to hear it."
>> No. 87844
[x] EMPATHY
[x] "Who you are, you've made quite clear, Hakurei Reimu, priestess to a vacant shrine. Your reputation proceeds you."
[x] "I apologize for the rudeness of my attache. He is very young and very spoiled by his father the Enma. A better reference of character I hope would be the Yama of this realm, Sikieiki Yamaxanadu, whom I am proud to call my friend."
[x] "As for myself, I am the creator god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. With my bride Izanami, I stood at the navel of the world, and thrust the spear Ame-no-nuhoko into the chaotic depths to raise up this land from the primordial ocean."
[x] "And if there is but a single iota of reverence for the will of the gods and the heavens, if you truly are trained as a priestess of Shinto, if that uniform and gohei are not merely costume and prop, then I have an offer for you, Reimu Hakurei, if you are willing to hear it."
>> No. 87851
[x] Laugh. Laugh for all you're worth.
[x] Wipe the tears from your eyes "Please excuse me, I thought you were a ghost, sent by Ebisu to curse me for insulting him."
[x] "And yes, I have donated. I've come to speak with you about something... shall we first seek shelter from this unforgivable rain?"
[x] CHARM
>> No. 87856
File 124393173371.jpg - (115.34KB , 800x600 , 6ed35aa282a7125aae07217464c21e25.jpg ) [iqdb]
87856
SYSTEM Update:

[X] Custom 1+2
[X] EMPATHY

BGM Load: "The Poem for Everyone's Souls", Shoji Meguro

---

An overwhelming presence she is, truly, the last maiden of Hakurei, but if you were in her shoes --- not that you would ever stoop so low as to trapezing around in Mary Jane's; besides, you do not believe they make those in your size. Ah, but you digress; yes, if you were in her shoes, you could see the necessity for such a bombastic performance. How much of it was a bluff or was genuine a part of her personality you knew not.

Thinking as such, you manage to quell the agitation of your raging heart. Reimu's smoldering anger, though, has not abated and you noticed that in the midst of her monologue she had pushed the both of you back out into the rain. You sigh inwardly. The fool girl was going to catch herself a cold at this rate. You would be without one shrine maiden and all of Gensokyo would be in peril because you delayed, deliberating how best to approach her.

Ha, what nonsense. The correct answer is always right beside you is it not, right, Izanagi?

You step back and turn about, but not before catching a brief glimpse of a flicker of something dance across Hakurei Reimu's eyes: an expected end, her relief, a reinforcement of her ideals, and was that...disappointment? Well, you would have to surprise her, won't you?

"I'm not leaving you, y'know," you address her frankly, adopting that same "My Pace" demeanor as your surrogate "sister" of sorts.

The reaction is instantaneous, an oppressive of disdain washes over you, while you set down your belongings, before turning back around to face her. Indeed, taking one step is a god-like feat, the very air a tangible aura of rejection that laughed and ridiculed your existence. How convenient it is you are a god, eh?

You step forward into HER space and Reimu quirks an eyebrow.

"Oh really now?"

"C'mon, that red-and-white and your gohei isn't just for show now, is it? If you don't know who I am, then at least, you know for certain. WHAT. I am, just like I know you. Who you are, you've made quite clear, Hakurei no Reium-kun, priestess to a vacant shrine. Your reputation proceeds you."

"Ah ha, and whatever could you be talking about?" Reimu rolls her eyes derisively. "I am not the Homeless GOD, who called in a favor and sent his lackey to negotiate on his behalf." She pauses, before bring the full brunt of her baleful death glare at you. "And I don't appreciate people blabbing out my family's secrets. Only the MAN worthy and destined to be my husband would be privy to that forbidden knowledge. I do hope you're prepared for the consequences, kami-sama."

You transform, nothing more fancy than the unfurling flutter of billowing cloth to mask your form for a second, but it is all the time you need. Once more, you are awash in your divine power, and indeed, the well has grown deeper and more rich, since you last tasted it. As a man you were an unpredictable quantity, but as the god, you are without a doubt a formidable entity, leaving the shrine maiden standing in the full breadth of your great shadow.

Of course, Reimu replies to such posturing by boredly crossing her arms over her bosom, utterly disinterested by your greatness.

"So that's your true form. How cute. Mind if you show your face? It's a little uncivilized, last I read in the family library, for a god seeking an asylum, not to even offer his face to be seen in polite entreaty."

You chuckle at her quip; truly, the fierce white tigress protecting her mountain; you can only pray for the poor soul of the man brave or foolish enough to court her. Complying with her not so polite request, you reach for helmet and like before it responds as you wish, but instead of a comb, this time you wish for a red karakasa already unfurled. Extend your arm you do to its fullest length and going as far as to bend down on one knee to her level. When in the tigress's court, is it not wise to be humble yet steadfast?

The shrine maiden eyes you warily.

"Thank, but no thanks. I would rather not know what this is going to cost me, sama."

You smile, the rain hardly a bother to you now, and are quite taken by the surprising wisdom of her bold character. How looks can be so deceiving!

"If a price it must be, O Noble Miko-sama, then I'm only going to ask you hear me out with eyes clear as the blue sky, unclouded by hatred. As a free service, I'll even help you warm up and dry out."

Two can play at that game though, and the hard shrine maiden flinches caught between practical need and pride. She hides her shivers well, but still, she was only fallible flesh and blood; the soul is willing but the body is weak. After a moment of cruel indecision does Reimu reach a decision, with a pouting slump of her shoulders.

"Fine, but no promises. I'm in a bad, bad mood, so don't be surprised if I listen with one ear and out it goes the other ear as fast as I evict your divine, homeless backside off my land."

My, oh, my, what a fiery charmer she is. You cannot help but wonder what the Hakurei no Reimu is really like on a daily basis, though this side of her is quite endearing, too. When you should succeed, you certainly won't be complaining of being bored living around here.

"Well, I wouldn't expect any less, since there oughta be some truth to your grossly inflated reputation."

She shoots you a dirty look.

"That bad, huh?"

"Y'know, how it works. But, yeah..." you drift off for a moment, not sure how to start the conversation, though you suppose you need to apologize and clear up some misunderstandings. "Uh, well, I'd like to apologize for the rudeness of my, erm, attache. He is very young and very spoiled by his father, the Enma before him. A better reference of character I know would be the Yama of this realm, Yamaxanadu no Sikieiki. Have you met her?"

The shrine maiden shrugs.

"Can't say I have. I sent shikigami to do my grunt work of spreading the word about danmaku, so I haven't really meant anyone big and important face to face..." her expression falls in a rather exasperated, gloomy manner, "except for that bothersome woman. Hope that old hag is still on vacation. E~tern~ally seven~teen~ my backside!"

Wow, that's the second person you have met who knows of this troublesome woman character, a rather frustrating figure she is, indeed.

"They're good people, Hakurei no Reimu, and I'm proud to call them my friends, even though we've only just met."

"Only just met?" she sounds unconvinced, raised eyebrow and arm akimbo again. "With the way that brat was going on and on about you, I'd thought you were old best pals for eternity. Hmph, whatever, so what's your story?"

"Me? Well, I'm trying to remember. Right now, I'm just," you pause, searching yourself for an answer, but what greets you is only more questions. It seems you will have to settle for your own relative identity for now, "I'm just Izanagi-no-Nanashi. Could be related, I guess, to that really famous guy in the pantheon, Izanagi-no-Mikoto, y'know? That fellow, who with his bride Izanami-no-Mikoto, created Nihon with the heavenly jeweled spear, Ame-no-nuhoko, and did a bunch more famous stuff?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know...wait," now, Reimu pauses, her brown eyes---no, blue?!

You blink. Violet. You blink, again. Chestnut. What in the world? Even her hair color is---flickering. Brown. Violet. Black. Is this some manifestation of the power of the Hakurei lineage? Her voice, though, shakes you from your astounded shock before you can potentially drive yourself up a wall at the strangeness you are witnessing in a "human".

"You have HIS memories?" the shrine maiden eyes you, carefully.
>> No. 87857
File 124393194552.jpg - (316.02KB , 1175x785 , 2053000.jpg ) [iqdb]
87857
It is a difficult question she asks, but you try to answer as best you can, which is not particularly enlightening.

"Yes and no. Yes, I have his stuff, I think."

"You. THINK. you do?"

"Probably. Yeah... And, I can't see all of it. The one piece I just got to see the day before was something that didn't even come out right. It came out like an old story in my head, but details were missing. Like why I was there, how, and other important things. To be honest, I have only existed in this world for less than two days."

"Two days!?" Reimu cries out in girlish surprise, dropping all of her gruff pretense on sudden impulse.

Wow, so she has this side to her too, huh? How fun.

The shrine maiden blushes but is quick to recover, "That crazy Enma didn't say anything about you being a two-day old God."

"He probably did, O-Reimu-sama," you furrow your brow in an awkward frown, "but considering your mood, it didn't seem important to you at the time."

"Hmph, not that it changes anything."

Oh, but it does, the light in her eyes have---changed.

"Hakurei no Reimu, I'm not going to claim I'm some manifest will of the gods and the heavens. I'm not going to question your piety or your abilities as a shrine maiden, either. Me? I was just at the bottom of the Sanzu River the other day, not-existing or sleeping for Fortunes know how long, only to be dredged up with an eye screwed up, an arm missing, and my body a wreck with all sorts of extra baggage. I have nothing but the kindness of my friends: a Yama, a shinigami, and an Enma, not to mention those countless souls who sacrificed themselves for me to be here before you, right now."

Reimu has a look of consternation on her young, pretty face. Given time, she would become a lovely woman in her prime, but for now, she seemed very much lost before the great theological and spiritual mystery presented to her. Clearly, you are an unprecedented case that escapes the wealth of her knowledge passed down through the generations, learned and, perhaps, in her very blood.

"So what does it all mean then, O Nameless-Male-who-Invites?"

"I don't know, but I'm not afraid to find out," you smile reassuringly at her, "and that's why I'm going to make an offer to you, Hakurei no Reimu, if you're willing to hear it."

A tense silence follows, punctuated only by the constant pitter patter of rain against your person and the red parasol shielding the shrine maiden from the elements. She is actually quite comfortable, now. Her raiment dry and her skin returning to a more natural, healthy firmness, so do you perceive with your eyes, and with your protection, you only allow enough cold to seep through to keep her cool. Under your karakasa, it is much like being in the safe hearth of one's own home, with the added benefit of luxuries otherwise impossible, for example the divine "air conditioning", so does your strange a priori knowledge of the outside provide you the appropriate term.

Reimu sighs.

"Somehow, I get the feeling it's going to be something so damn good that I'd be crazy to refuse, right?"

"Could be, O-Reimu," your eyes twinkle.

"O-Reimu... Ugh, you've got quite the silvertongue on you, too, don't you, for a baby?"

Touche, Red and White; touche.

"Since we've come this far, I'll skip on beating around the bush: I want to be your tenant."

The dark-haired girl stares at you in complete---incomprehension.

"Uhh, you lost me."

"I'm serious. I want to be your tenant. Grant me the privilege of becoming the new God of Hakurei and living on this sacred land; in exchange, you'll be compensated with a new generation of worshipers, material satisfaction, and a revival of your house to a glory that eclipses even the old."

"...Y-You..." she has turned utterly beet red from head to toe, virtually matching the red of her raiment. "G-Get out of here! Don't you even know what you're saying? Wh-What it sounds like is...is a marriage proposal!"

A marriage proposal? You never thought of it that way, but a quick remembrance of your vast knowledge of Shinto lore reveals that in more traditional circles, a shrine maiden is a consecrated virgin female pretty much wed to the Land God. ...well, this could be a little awkward.

"Don't sweat the little details like that, Hakurei no Reimu," you joke playfully, hoping to ease the tension. "It'll take time but I promise to work hard and give it my all every day, and with a little of your help, we'll surely restore Hakurei Shrine. My coffers are yours should you ever have need, and as a sign of good will, I have already donated one ryou and will be happy to put an advance of ten more ryou."

For a moment, you swear you see the shrine maiden's eyes practically pop out of her pretty face, such a sum of money must have been astronomical to her. True, it was, too, depending on the exchange rate, but by your reckoning on a good year, eleven ryou would be enough for a single person to buy enough rice to feed him or her for eleven years!

"Of course, you're free to annul this contract with me, whenever you wish."

You pause for a moment to take a deep breath, committing what you have just said to your heart. It is heavy and solemn. You stand to lose much, but you will bear it, with a smile, for if your friends in Higan can, then this little thing is nothing. Besides, Hakurei no Reimu did not seem to be a person of dubious character. Dubious, earthly wants perhaps, but you sensed she seemed to have a good grasp of what was important truly in life.

"I can only pray that I'll never become distorted to the point where I won't listen when you ask me to leave, but if it comes down to it, well, you. Are. The Hakurei. Evicting a god from your own house shouldn't be a problem, right?"

Once again, an intense silence ensues, with the wind moaning, the raining hammering, the thunder roaring, and the lightning flashing. Finally, did The Hakurei, the last shrine maiden, the fated Red and White reply, starting with her stomach growling in fantastic timing. It becomes apparent why she is dubbed the red and white.

Reimu facepalms, completely and utterly defeated.

"Oohhh, fine! Be that way, you smooth, criminal ronin god! You. Can. Stay. But don't get any wild ideas, I'll evict you faster than you can understand how long it takes for my foot to cut across space and time to kick you in the balls. Ugh, this has to be the worst mistake of my life."

You laugh, pulling a pretty good impression of your nemesis The Laughing God, Ebisu, actually.

"Don't worry. I promise, it'll be the best mistake ever."

Well, the white tigress has decided to welcome you to her mountain, but this evening is not over yet.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
[] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[] Inquire into her physical condition?
[] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?
[] ?????

And / or...

[] CHARM
[] REASON
[] EMPATHY
[] INTIMIDATION
[] BODY LANGUAGE
[] ?????

---

SYSTEM MSG:

Congratulations! After that trial, you sense your entire character has grown. +3 Pts to all personality traits.
>> No. 87862
[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] REASON

[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?
>> No. 87864
[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] REASON

[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?
>> No. 87865
[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] REASON

[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?
>> No. 87866
[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] REASON

[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?
>> No. 87870
[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] "Best that we keep up appearances; we don't want the Izanagi-no-Hakurei to become known as the god of famine, would we?"
[x] CHARM
[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] What did the Kid Enma say to her that would evoke such a display of righteous indignation? For you, it was when he called you an abomination.
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?

In a sense it was a marriage proposal. One takes the name of the other, and they reside in the same house.
>> No. 87874
[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] "Best that we keep up appearances; we don't want the Izanagi-no-Hakurei to become known as the god of famine, would we?"
[x] CHARM
[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] What did the Kid Enma say to her that would evoke such a display of righteous indignation? For you, it was when he called you an abomination.
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?

This wall must be written!
>> No. 87875
[ODIN] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[ODIN] "Best that we keep up appearances; we don't want the Izanagi-no-Hakurei to become known as the god of famine, would we?"
[ODIN] CHARM
[ODIN] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[ODIN] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[ODIN] What did the Kid Enma say to her that would evoke such a display of righteous indignation? For you, it was when he called you an abomination.
--[ODIN] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[ODIN] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?

I support this idea.
>> No. 87892
Eh, why not.

[x] Your Landlady is evidently famished...
[x] "Best that we keep up appearances; we don't want the Izanagi-no-Hakurei to become known as the god of famine, would we?"
[x] CHARM
[x] Ask of her these questions during a meal...
--[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God
--[x] What did the Kid Enma say to her that would evoke such a display of righteous indignation? For you, it was when he called you an abomination.
--[x] Inquire into her physical condition?
--[x] What had she been doing to be so utterly soaked...?
>> No. 87898
>trapezing
Shouldn't that be "traipsing"? Sorry. ^-^;

[x] Enlist O-Reimu's aid in finding the "bed" of the Land God

[x] CHARM
>> No. 87901
All right, I think I'll call it, so we can stop dawdling. CHARM it is. Oh, and Kuro, I don't mind. I'm only a human being and I expect myself to make mistakes despite spell check and Microsoft Word.
>> No. 87914
File 124398037922.png - (4.76KB , 201x233 , 12286923059.png ) [iqdb]
87914
>>87898
> ^-^;

stop that
>> No. 87926
>>87914

Oh my god why would you save that?
>> No. 87929
File 124399506110.jpg - (528.80KB , 1024x768 , 5167edea60c14ce3312fd69518db9c9a.jpg ) [iqdb]
87929
SYSTEM Update:

[X] Custom
[X] CHARM

BGM Load: "Signs of Love", Shoji Meguro

---

As much as you would like to cut straight to business, for once, pleasure seems to be the better of two virtues this time. Your Landlady is evidently famished, so it was only natural to suggest a change of scenery for supper.

"Best that we keep up appearances, yes?" you add wryly, casting of your frank, informality for that happy medium in between. "We wouldn't want the Izanagi no Hakurei to become known as the god of famine, would we?"

Alas, O-Reimu does not seem to be particularly receptive of your well-meaning teasing, so you cannot help but be crushed a little when her hand whips out like a serpent seizing a touch of your cheek for a painful pinch.

"Owowowow!"

"Oi, oi, getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren't we, you baby god?" the Red and White accuses you with a dour expression. "If you really think I'm that easy, you got another thing coming to you."

Rebuked you are, but not all was lost, as there is a glimmer of amusement in her brown---no, violet eyes. Strange; she was doing that flickering thing again. You wonder if she even notices herself, or was this something only you could perceive?

She releases your cheek and directs you to grab your possessions, with a wordless wave, then beckons you to follow. The beeline you follow is understandably straight towards the donation box, recovering the item, before diverting off to the side to enter the house.

"And don't even think about going around calling yourself Izanagi no Hakurei," O-Reimu glares at you sternly, a clear indication that the subject was closed to discussion. "That would cause all sorts of misunderstandings and annoying things I don't want to deal with. You're a baby god, and there's a lot of things you need to learn. Things I, frankly, don't even know about. It's not every day a newborn god just shows up at your house, asking to move in!"

Well, it appears that is confirmation as any that the Hakurei Shrine has been without a god for a long time.

"Still, you need a name. Your true name is all right for now, but that'll have to change too. There is a lot of power in names, and being nameless is like a gaijin double-edged sword. You have no weaknesses but you have no strengths, either, so once some dirty, no-good youkai has you figured out, you're finished. Oh, and change back to your human form, would you? Last thing I want is you breaking your skull open on my front door."

To her not so polite but courteous wishes do you comply. Best not to unnecessarily stress out your landlady; she does have a lot on her mind now.

"Leave your shoes here. House slippers are in the cabinet over there. Now, what to do about your name?"

"Is there some special manner of procedure for this?" you ask as she reaches into a nearby drawer pulls out two small blank sheets of paper and begins to fold them.

It is a crisp, meticulous action, following a peculiar ritual that escapes your knowledge; she is clearly murmuring some words of power beneath her breath, completely committed to the task. The astonishing speed to which the shrine maiden produces two caricatures of paper cranes is a testament to her skill. Finishing her work by blowing out onto the two little cranes, likened to a breeze, they come to life right before your wondered eyes, gliding effortlessly into the air, while giving off a soft luminescence.

"There. One for me. One for you. They should last until morning-"

You cannot help but interrupt her with praise.

"This?" O-Reimu scoffs in reply. "Child's play, just like me having to name you. A little ritual, a little ceremony; nothing I can't handle, and as for your name, baby god..."

Baby god... She is been saying that for the past ten minutes or so, but oddly, it does not really annoy you coming from her. If anything, it comes off as quite endearing considering her gruff attitude at this hour. You suppose you know what phrase is going to be at the top of her list to chastise you in private, however, not that she was wrong in the slightest, though you would like to improve your standing to that of a child or boy god before it comes to that.

"I already have one in mind. It just depends if it actually sticks to you."

"Sticks to me?"

"You have to like it, duh, you baby."

Is that so? Then again, what is an identity if you cannot recognize yourself in it, yes?

"May I ask what name you have in mind?" you hazard curiously, as you two now enter a living "space" or i-ma.

It is a room divided by thick fusuma sliding doors / walls, while its entrances have the thinner shouji that allow outside light to pass into the home. This particular room seems well used as furniture has already been laid out, e.g. cushions and a traditional low table. You spy a hearth on the left side of the "room", an adjoining space presently opened to create a larger room, with a decidedly untraditional chimney above it, while tatami mats ring this irori.

"Set your things in that closet," O-Reimu directs you, seemingly ignoring your inquiry. "Oh, and take this, too. We'll deal with it later. I'll be in the kitchen."

Well, she certainly knows how to take charge, and you decide to cheat a little, summoning those minor Izanagi again, so you can catch up with your landlady. You are quite interested to learn as much as possible about her for understandable reasons, plus --- you really want to know what name she has picked out for you.

"That was fast," the shrine maiden eyes you with a dry sidelong glance. "You really are a baby, aren't you?"

You grin, inclining thoughtfully with your chin, "Come now, O-Reimu, is it not fun to have children doting on their parents for a change?"

...on second thought, maybe that was not such a good idea, but it was too late to take your quip back. Thankfully, it seems to have its intending effect, earning a gruff chuckle out of the Red and White. It seems some of her rumored easygoing self has come back.

"I'd have an apoplectic shock, if I knew that one of my sons will end up a complete no-good ronin like you."

"At least, I'm tall, right?" you continue on without missing a beat, breathing inwardly in relief.

"And exactly your name."

"Was I that transparent?"

"Yes," she deadpans, "but, I guess, I was always the same, too."

Now, this is something interesting, a hint of an anecdote from her childhood.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk, shame I'm not going to tell you any embarrassing stories about me. You're going to have to earn it, baby god."

It seems her potential maternal instincts are quite sharp. You cannot help but pout at being denied, though you cannot complain for want of entertainment. She is an interesting individual to say the least.

"We'll do it when the time's right, but since you're coming along with me, you'd better not be useless in the kitchen!"

Damn that Ebisu! You should have seen this coming.
>> No. 87930
File 124399519386.jpg - (56.12KB , 480x640 , 4008563.jpg ) [iqdb]
87930
Dinner is a humble affair, and you dare say a little strange. Most people you imagine eat at such times by candle light, and in another time and place, within the glow of small bulbs that hold a brightness that imitates that of Lady Sun. Here, you eat in the mystical glow of two paper crane perched upon the shoulders of the two living room turned dining room, with no more preamble than the setting of assorted traditional tableware and dishes. Thankfully, you were quick to catch on in the kitchen under your landlady's brisk commands and waspish ladle, turning the preparations into a routine operation. Not particularly fast or slower, but with some experience and instruction, you imagine preparing meals in the future will be much faster.

Still, you are surprised when O-Reimu sets room at the table for two. It has been a while since you last ate, but considering the rather, well, modest fair available this night, so you note with an inward frown, you would rather the shrine maiden feed herself before you. With your augustness, surely, missing out a meal or two would not affect you grossly.

"No but's, no complaining!" the shrine maiden barks at you, killing your well-meaning protests dead in your throat. "You're eating with me, and tomorrow, we'll have a real feast!"

By the Fortunes, you were starting to wonder if she was a satori!

"Ah..." you half-heartedly manage out, instead.

"Besides, you helped, so you eat, and a meal tastes better when everyone's together. Oh, and don't think just because you got some divinity in you that you won't go hungry. You're a baby! Not a real god yet, so eat up!"

Well, it appears any protest will be ignored and banished to death, so you might as well eat. Clapping your hands together, you join your landlady in a customary word of thanks before digging in.

"Let's eat!"

Hmm! Hey, this is surprisingly good, and that flavor...how...it's...you do not know how to put it into words. Surely, this simple meal would rival even the most glorious of feasts prepared by master chefs at the Imperial Palace!

O-Reimu spots your honest expression and lights up with a smug grin. "I'll have you know tonight's supper is special. I only use this secret spice once every other week, so you had better enjoy it."

Aye, no complaints here, and since the mood seems quite congenial now, why not make a little small talk?

"Say, O-Reimu, how are you feeling?"

Your landlady barely managed to stifle a rather unlady-like snort but it feels right coming from her.

"Ara, how many times has that been now that you've called me that?"

"Huh?"

"Well, at least you have decent manners for a baby. 'O-Reimu', huh? I might just able to get used to that, may-be. ...so, why you ask?"

What a precocious girl, and what fun, too.

"You were utterly water logged when we met, and then I dried you out, so I'm concerned naturally for your health."

"If I'm sick, we'll find out in the morning, knowing how the Fortunes operate, not to mention according to my family's knowledge, you can never tell with these things. Just hope for the best. ...but I'm definitely going to bath tonight to get your baby smell off of me."

Y-Your scent was on her? ...err, well, that's...interesting.

"Erm, what were you doing out there? It doesn't seem like any kind of weather a person would want to be in willingly. Did Koenma-kun say something to incur your wrath?"

O-Reimu rolls her eyes, but at least she does not make that terribly annoyed and disgusted face she used when referring to "that bothersome woman" character. In fact, Death the Kid had a similar expression for that woman too... Could she really be that bad?

"I was already in a bad mood when your two-toned idiot friend showed up," she sniffs before shooting you a hard gaze, "and don't you think this weather is just so. Damn. ANNOYING? It's summer and this stuff ticks me off! Sure, at least the farmers don't have to worry about a drought, but this stuff is a real pain! If it's someone who's making it, then by the seven heavenly fortunes, they better hope I don't catch them or I will PACIFY that spoiled brat or brats. Oh, how they will learn the errors of their ways!

Your landlady has worked herself up into quite the red-faced rage, complete with metaphorical steam heads and scribbling fumes appearing above her. But that was not all; your sublime hearing allows you to catch something else unexpected, a low disgruntled mutter ordinarily unintelligible to others.

"...the nerve: bothering other people by making them remember things better left alone."

Remembering things better left alone? Alas, it seems you have exhausted the local supply of good will, but you file away this newest intrigue for later contemplations. Clearly, there is more to the last shrine maiden and the Hakurei Clan than you are aware of; in a way, you would rather have her sleep tonight in peace.

However, a pressing matter of business remains...

"Hakurei no Reimu," you begin as the Red and White pours tea for you both.

She rolls her eyes, "Child God, you really have a flair for being dramatic, don't you?"

Oh, now that just took out all the wind from your sails; way to rain on the parade, O-Reimu.

"Oh, go on, go on, don't mind me; I'm listening, really," the white tigress beckons you to continue, the gesture reminiscent of a maneki neko's "come hither".

Well, you have nothing to lose before her, as you are, so it appeared, utterly transparent to your landlady, wise beyond her years.

"Could you aid me in locating the bed of the Land God? Your family has lived on this sacred ground for generation, so you would know best how to gain access to the Other World that exists right here in this hallowed earth."

Her reaction is genuine one-hundred percent Hakurei no Reimu: understated.

"Yes, yes, saint young men these days are so impatient, aren't they? We'll go; we'll go. Finish your tea and the rice snacks and we'll go, just don't expect your ambitions to be accomplished so easily."

Now, this almost pessimistic warning grabs your attention.

"And why is that?"

"A little world weary wisdom, baby god. Unlike you, I've really lived my life, every single day of it, and knowing the way the world works, things forgotten like to stay that way for a reason."

You pout at her words, riddle and yet not so. What did she mean by it all exactly?

"Let me put it in simple terms for you: we haven't been to---The Other World---on this sacred ancestral ground in generations. So the Fortunes only know what's going on over there. In my right hand, I could be opening a passage for you straight into the void for all I know, which would likely spell instant annihilation for you."

O-Reimu smiles at you with a predatory wink that seems dreadfully out of place on her young, pretty face...

"In my left hand, you could get somewhere---but find yourself not alone. Someone or somethings might not be using the bed, but they have a vested interest in the grounds. I don't think they would appreciate you muscling in on what they think belongs to them, when it's mine."

...but, oh, does she resemble every bit a youkai right now, shadows crisscrossing her face eerily so.

"Still, will you go anyway, little god child?"

Your answer takes a moment, but it is certainly---your style.

"Geez, how troublesome," you sigh, running a hand through your silvery natural perm, "but it cannot be helped, yes? Many risked everything to get me this far and seeded in me some courage; to turn away now, would be a betrayal of their trust."

"Hnn, and is that all, young godling?" she looks at you critically, but you notice her brow furrow a little bit, as if in sadness.

You smile.

"Of course not, you just totally pissed me off! You're on, Hakurei no Reimu, and I'm going to win this bet!"
>> No. 87931
File 124399539119.jpg - (127.90KB , 500x700 , 3167890.jpg ) [iqdb]
87931
SYSTEM MSG:

Congrats - Gain +3 Courage, Expression, and Understanding.

BGM Load: "Omen", Shoji Meguro

---

Hakurei no Reimu made you swear you will not repeat what happened to get you where you are now, and so you will not repeat it. Though in all honesty, that journey from her shrine to---here and now---was just as abrupt and weird as your transportation from the highest torii in the Netherworld to here in the world of the living. The difference: right now, you had come to a place, infinitely, more alien than any realm you have ever visited.

The Other World of the Hakurei Shrine was a deathly still wasteland in limbo, devoid of life and color. Stark woods surround you on all side, devoid of their leaves, uninviting and haunting. There is no sound save for yourself and each footstep scuffs as if you were trudging through snow. Progress was slow, impeded further by a blasted, disturbing white sun and a pitch-black sky; the horizon bathed in that---fog...even here(?!). If there was ever a need for an appropriate hell to drive a mortal man insane, this cursed place would be it.

Oh, how you miss the world you left behind, even with all that rain, cold, wind, and thunder...

You hope Hakurei no Reimu was managing well the portal back in the land of the living open for you, because that faint energy was your guidepost in this forsaken place. Ugh, wondering around aimlessly in this hilly land, a distorted mockery of the place you came from in the dim hope of stumbling across the bed of the Land God would amount to nothing. You require more than just luck.

What shall you do now?

Choose...

[] COMMUNE: Reach out with your spiritual senses...
[] Call upon your otherself and take to the skies!
[] Try navigating the land in a more methodical manner...
[] Rest; somehow, being here makes you...a little tired.
[] Return to the Red and White
[] ?????

---
>> No. 87932
[x] ?????
>> No. 87934
[x] ?????
>> No. 87939
Tough choice, but if I have to pick one:
[x] Rest; somehow, being here makes you...a little tired.
>> No. 87940
[x] ?????

Mystery option GO.
>> No. 87945
[X] ?????

TO THE UNKNOWN!
>> No. 87951
[x] ?????

Wahahahaha
>> No. 87952
...Oh Gods, Anon, what have you done? ...I can only hope your next important decision is made well. As for what's about to happen, you asked for it, so don't come crying to me.

Votes LOCKED! ?????? a go go!
>> No. 87959
File 124400477023.jpg - (456.87KB , 900x1200 , 93e7960717c2ddcb46223dbdb5aba6a5.jpg ) [iqdb]
87959
---

SYSTEM Update:

[X] ?????

...

!!!

WARNING! WARNING!

"Something terrible this way comes..."

BGM Load: "Borderline of Madness", Shoji Meguro

---

While deep in thought, you stepped forth, and unexpectedly a branch snapped beneath your boot heel. The sight draws a wide-eyed gasp from you as your gaze travels down upon the scene of the crime. Up until now, there had been not a single piece of detritus on the snow white ground, but everything has changed thanks to this one treacherous, miserable branch. It was so dry and brittle that drawing your foot away, 'causes it to splinter and disintegrate even more nosily than when you first stepped on it in the first place.

The noise is loud, bone chillingly so. You close your eyes, deep breaths, trying to find your center. Surely, this delusional paranoia is but a nightmare of your own making. Why should you be scared that someone or anything at all could have heard that noise just now? It was preposterous! There was nobody, no one here, except for...

Hu hu hu hu hu~

What was that? You whirl about, eye open, pupils darting wildly. Just now, you swore you heard a voice, a little girl's giggle, but---there was something wrong about it, and... Fortunes! Where had all this FOG come from? You were surrounded, enveloped---no---eaten! Even your divine eyes cannot pierce this gloom, all about, cool to the touch. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

You could feel...eyes. Someone was watching you.

So delicious, so tasty looking...Ah~, sal~ty~

D-Damnation, you flinch, back away hurriedly, only to have your back slam straight into a withered sapling, breaking it in a terrible cacophony. Down you went groping blindly into splinters and vapor, but just now, you swore you felt it. Did something lick you across your neck? D-Droll? Shit, let this be a delusion. This was not someone's disgusting fluids, but your sweat. Yes, you were starting to perspire a great deal from all this excite-

So fun~; fun, fun, funny~

No, there is something out there all right; female, young, and---weird. You rise tensely, brushing yourself free of splinters and white, ears and eyes straining, but the voice seemed to be echoing from all directions. There was not even a glimpse of who was out there, yet she could not be far; the volume of her voice said she was close by.

Hu hu hu hu hu~

"Come out!" you shout in savage desperation, shoving a finger accusingly into the wet, humid gloom. "Come out from wherever you are! Face me! Or are you afraid of one lonesome Onii-san out for a stroll in the freak woods, huh?"

Afraid? Me? Fraidy cat? Lone-some? Big Brother...alone? Big Bro~? Uu hu hu hu hu hu, ah ha ha ha ha~

"COME. ON."

O~kay~, then ready or not~, here I come~

---

"I'll Face Myself -Battle-", Shoji Meguro

---

There is no more warning beyond the child's words, and even then, had you been a seasoned warrior, the blow that comes would have been impossible to dodge---had it not been for dumb luck. Right when you shouted you had stepped into a slick patch of white, and back you went tumbling, falling away from the great motion of black and gray cutting through the space where you once stood. You hit the white flaky ground and roll away just in the knick of time, spurned on by an unreal sense of danger, for a counter swing smashes into where you were, kicking up gouts of white and bark.

Backpedaling away on all fours until you hit a tree, now do you slowly rise up and lock eyes with your hunter. It is a humongous giant that would dwarf even the full splendor of your augustness: a winged bulbous mass of black that drained away the very eerie light of the cursed sun here and swallowed whole any fog that touched it. Tendrils sprouted from its back and bottom, and in front, massive sinewy arms wrapped in red---COLOR! You could see color! Why? Why, now?!---bandages, which hefted a massive gaijin sword. At it's center came the tormented form of a man, bound and gagged in the same red, and upon his shoulder the source of the voice.

A little girl---well, little compared to Reimu---rode there, clinging to the poor soul's neck. Long blonde hair unbound, clad in a black and white longsleeved dress of Western origin, and dainty red shoes; she was laughing at you with an open sneer.

"Wh-What! Who, who are you?!" you cry out hoarsely, finding the very air oppressive and difficult to breath all of a sudden. Was it because of her? Or was it this place?

"I am a Shadow~, the true self~!" she coos loudly, thrilled by some inner fire, burning bright with madness in her red, red eyes. "Hey, hey~, Big Bro, do you see? When it's dark, there's nothing to be afraid of~! C'mon, everyone~, let's come play together~. Hide and Seek~. And I'm the Oni~ coming to eat ya~!"

Damn, here she---it---they come!

CAUTION: What shall you do?

Choose...

[] TRANSFORM
[] EVADE
[] TAUNT
[] GENUFLECT
[] GUARD
[] ??????
>> No. 87960
>You chuckle at her quip; truly, the fierce white tigress protecting her mountain; you can only pray for the poor soul of the man brave or foolish enough to court her.
Reimu route go.

I like your Reimu, by the way.
>> No. 87962
[] TAUNT
[] TRANSFORM

Henshin!
>> No. 87964
[X] EVADE
[X] TRANSFORM

ENCOUNTERED AN ASSAILANT
EX-RUMIA
BE ATTITUDE FOR GAINS:

1. BE PRAYING
2. BE PRAYING
3. BE PRAYING
>> No. 87965
King of crossovers, do you have enough references in stock?
>> No. 87968
[X] EVADE

Tactical withdrawal seems prudent in this situation. EX Rumia will RUIN OUR SHIT.
>> No. 87970
[X] EVADE
[X] TRANSFORM
[X] Respond:"Is that so~"
>> No. 87971
Well fuck. We probably can't beat EX-Rumia (who am I kidding, we can't beat EX-Rumia), and we certainly can't reason or genuflect our way out of this either. And evasion may sound good on paper, but I doubt that we can evade the physical manifestation of darkness itself. Rumia could simply make it dark, and we won't see what we are evading.

Therefore, as we can't win by ourselves we should call in the cavalry. The following is a gamble, but if we really are Izanagi the odds should be on our side. Of course it might backfire horribly too.


[ODIN] No force in the universe binds two beings together as strongly as the bonds of family. The Law of the Heaven itself pales beside the bond of blood.
[ODIN] Once, long ago there was a man who cleansed himself in the middle stream, one whose water did not flow too fast or too sluggish. Thus, by divine purity Light was born to this world. You remember her, and you remember her name, the name that banishes the darkness.
[ODIN] Raise your voice to the heavens: "We are Izanagi. If Thy Augustness still remembers our bond, We call Your sublime Power and Your divine light to Our side in this hour of need, honoured daughter, Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami."
>> No. 87972
And now that I think about it, there's an implied [] TRANSFORM somewhere in my write-in, so I'll amend it for accuracy:

[ODIN] TRANSFORM
[ODIN] No force in the universe binds two beings together as strongly as the bonds of family. The Law of the Heaven itself pales beside the bond of blood.
[ODIN] Once, long ago there was a man who cleansed himself in the middle stream, one whose water did not flow too fast or too sluggish. Thus, by divine purity Light was born to this world. You remember her, and you remember her name, the name that banishes the darkness.
[ODIN] Raise your voice to the heavens: "We are Izanagi. If Thy Augustness still remembers our bond, We call Your sublime Power and Your divine light to Our side in this hour of need, honoured daughter, Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami."
>> No. 87973
[x] TRANSFORM
[x] No force in the universe binds two beings together as strongly as the bonds of family. The Law of the Heaven itself pales beside the bond of blood.
[x] Once, long ago there was a man who cleansed himself in the middle stream, one whose water did not flow too fast or too sluggish. Thus, by divine purity Light was born to this world. You remember her, and you remember her name, the name that banishes the darkness.
[x] Raise your voice to the heavens: "We are Izanagi. If Thy Augustness still remembers our bond, We call Your sublime Power and Your divine light to Our side in this hour of need, honoured daughter, Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami."
>> No. 87974
[x] TRANSFORM
[x] No force in the universe binds two beings together as strongly as the bonds of family. The Law of the Heaven itself pales beside the bond of blood.
[x] Once, long ago there was a man who cleansed himself in the middle stream, one whose water did not flow too fast or too sluggish. Thus, by divine purity Light was born to this world. You remember her, and you remember her name, the name that banishes the darkness.
[x] Raise your voice to the heavens: "We are Izanagi. If Thy Augustness still remembers our bond, We call Your sublime Power and Your divine light to Our side in this hour of need, honoured daughter, Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami."
>> No. 87975
[x] TRANSFORM
[x] No force in the universe binds two beings together as strongly as the bonds of family. The Law of the Heaven itself pales beside the bond of blood.
[x] Once, long ago there was a man who cleansed himself in the middle stream, one whose water did not flow too fast or too sluggish. Thus, by divine purity Light was born to this world. You remember her, and you remember her name, the name that banishes the darkness.
[x] Raise your voice to the heavens: "We are Izanagi. If Thy Augustness still remembers our bond, We call Your sublime Power and Your divine light to Our side in this hour of need, honoured daughter, Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami."
>> No. 87977
[x] ??????

The mystery choice got us into this mess, it will get us out.
>> No. 87987
>>87977
It's not going to work like the last time.

[x] TRANSFORM
[x] No force in the universe binds two beings together as strongly as the bonds of family. The Law of the Heaven itself pales beside the bond of blood.
[x] Once, long ago there was a man who cleansed himself in the middle stream, one whose water did not flow too fast or too sluggish. Thus, by divine purity Light was born to this world. You remember her, and you remember her name, the name that banishes the darkness.
[x] Raise your voice to the heavens: "We are Izanagi. If Thy Augustness still remembers our bond, We call Your sublime Power and Your divine light to Our side in this hour of need, honoured daughter, Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami."
>> No. 87989
Well, Anon, I think, you all should consider yourselves lucky that Norseman somehow seems to think on same wavelength as me, if not higher. You're lucky, really lucky, I can use this material... I suggest not praying to God every time you screw up that Norseman will show up and save you all. It's difficult to get killed in this adventure, but Time...is rather precious...

Votes locked for Transform and Custom, though I shudder to think that somehow in six choices: you all picked the worst one. Seriously. You must surely be lacking a sense of danger as great as Reimu herself, despite all the hints I laid out for you.

oh, btw, it appears we've reached Autosage status, like 200+ posts, and I've been recommended to start a new thread, which I will. See ya there.