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92399 No. 92399
---

System UPDATE:

[X] A coin of copper

Current Phase: Afternoon??? - Clear??? - Day ?? (4 / XX, Year 2XXX)

BGM Load: "Your Affection", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4

---

Well, it's been two weeks since that---incident---and another dreadful Saturday rolls around. The half day is over but since you are in the Student Council, once again, you are consigned to a miserable afternoon with one Eiki... Yes, just Eiki...President of the Student Council, and the Smartest Delinquent in Gensokyo Kassen Gakuen. This "school" is the ravine where the strongest delinquents in the nation of Japan will be forged anew into tomorrow's leaders of all posts and status...if they can survive their time here.

Frankly, you were not in any danger of physical harm yet; your would be rivals still reeling and cooling their heads over your spectacular acceleration to stardom at the school opening ceremony. What you were in danger of---was dying in...

DESPAIR.

The beginning of your sixteenth Hardcore springtime of youth is NOT going as planned. You want a girlfriend. You want to enjoy all those damn simple pleasures ordinary high school idiots are supposed to enjoy. So why the hell has fate handed such a crappy hand to you? By being lauded the Strongest Delinquent in school, your chances with the opposite sex have been shot utterly to pieces, thanks to a nice big red target painted on your back.

It is only a matter of time before the real fighting starts. Some punk is going to get that classic stereotype of "Strength in Numbers" all wrapped up in his (or HER---you really hope it's not a chick; that might just be really problematic for your Banchou Chivalry) head and decide they can take you. Ugh. You still loathe that night you attained the nickname, "The Hundred Man Hurricane", after destroying four delinquent gangs in one night. Hell, you cannot even recall what happened exactly, but arsekicking on a scale of a Hong Kong action movie, like Hard Boiled, was dished out that night.

Hard to imagine you did it all last summer in four hours...

@#$%! Now, is not the time to get nostalgic about the past; you are trying to change your image, dammit. Speaking of which, taking a gander at the clock above the blackboard, could that Eiki-san be...

"Sorry ta intrude!" an eerily familiar voice cries out boisterously, as the doors to the classroom are practically torn open with a bang. "Oops. I hope I didn't break it. Forgot they don't make things heavy duty in the city like they do back home."

A "delicious" redhead, by every stretch of the definition, glides---not bounces...GLIDES---into the room, like a model swinging a 12-gauge shotgun over her shoulders, accompanied by the distinctive staccato of her platform-style geta. Hell, this girl is still wearing her funky retro skirt-kimono thingie, which you last spotted back home in her closet. ...that was one visit to a girl's room you would wish to scrub free from your memories in a hurry, for by your reckoning, she had singlehandedly destroyed every fantasy you had about the opposite sex.

This swan is only perfect until she opens her mouth.

"Ah, @#$%-chan!"

You facepalm, mightily. What. is. this. IDIOT. doing here? Isn't this trespassing on school property?

"It's not @#$%-chan; it's @#$%-SAMA da!"

"Yeah, yeah... We'll just stick wit' Gin-chan, right?" Red brushes of your spite, as if it were nothing more than a mild gale.

Not that a gale is anything to be laughed at, and you will not be denied, "What the HELL are you doing here, you hardcore bastard?"

"Oi, oi, is that anyway ta greet ya childhood buddy ol' pal, Machi-nee, who transferred all this-"

"T-Transfer?! TRANSFERRED you say!?"

"AHEM," a little BIG voice interrupts this happy reunion; it's Eiki-san.

"A~ah, sorry, Danna-sama," Machi does a one-eighty and is all humble and apologetic in a flash. Last you checked, she was still serious about being the chief hostess to her aunt's---club---and being a fashion designer, too, running her family's textile joint. "I just didn't expect ta see a familiar face so soon. Thought I'd hafta track him down, y'know?

Compared to yourself, she was slick as Orochi. If she could just kick that hick accent, she would fit right in at Shibuya or friggin' that other district...once her wardrobe got updated.

"K-Kaichou-san! Where have you been?" you are not about to accuse Eiki of being late. "Did something happen? What's this rude, nosey bastard doing..."

"Vice-President @#$%..." Eiki, of course, like usual, completely misses the concern in your voice. You thought you were inept when it came to the touchy-feely side of life, but this pint-sized tiger of a girl was even worse!

Don't call me @#$%, dammit!

"...do I need to remind you of proper honorable bastard etiquette, again?"

"N-No, ma'am."

"Then correct yourself."

"Right. [i]Ahem[/i. What's this fly rooney-pooney bitch doing here?!"

"R-Rooney-pooney?" breathes the receiver of your ire, flushing red.

Hey, that's nothing flattering to be getting all school girl blushy-flushy about, you backwater gangster hick! Dammit, you are starting to talk and think like you were back home. How will you ever change yourself at this rate?

DESPAIR.

"You two honorable bastard and bitch are acquainted, yes?"

God, why does Eiki have such a dirty mouth for someone so small and cute----WHAT!? CUTE!? That little prick? No way. Not going to go down the lolicon path, even though you hope you two really are the same age, but... NO. And you are NOT going down the childhood friend, buddy sex path, either!

"Yaaaaaa~, we are. Gin-chan, y'know, grew up in the same neighborhood I did."

>> No. 92400
"Excellent. I am giving you an assignment right now," the green-haired girl brandishes the manilla folder, stuffed to the brim, which she had been carrying in the crook of her arm to you both. "I need you two to go---bargain down these ridiculous funding estimates from the club leaders around school, starting with the Judo Club. These numbers are a mockery of our authority and responsibility. I trust you two can handle this while I handle official affairs with the faculty?"

What the hell? When did we become yakuza, huh? HUH! And is this a shakedown trip or what?

Machi smiles, "No problem. Let's go crack some heads, Gin-chan! Just like old times, eh?" slapping her fist into her waiting palm emphatically, "...You can still cry on Big Sis's shoulder when ya get socked bad, if ya wanna."

Buddha! Did she have to throw you under the bus like that; you're kinda still holding out a candle for Eiki-san here... Wait. No. You did not just think that! Just. Say. NO! to the childhood friend flag! This is... This is all just too much to take in. How could SHE even be here? It's unreal. Did she seriously get a transfer to this crazy ultra co-ed banchou school or did Machi for reals follow you here?

...okay, let's not go there. After all, it would be a bad thing. A very bad thing. Like Shounen Jump says, yanderes are never good for business, unless you are trying to up your ratings.

"Wait a second...something is off here," you hesitate, trying to process all this plus your tumultuous thoughts. "Are you serious, Kaichou-san?"

Did she really just say that she wanted you and Machi to go out and shake down these punks?

"Yes."

...n-no way.

"B-But... What is she doing here for? Isn't she just a---transfer student?"

You still find that claim hard to believe...

"Ye~ah, I just got here today, y'know~!"

"Right, and she just got here today."

"You are looking at our new Public Morals Officer. Note the armband."

Huh? ...oh look, there really is an armband on the left uppersleeve of her clothes, just like you have one, which espouses your titles and affiliation respectively.

"Heh heh~! Gonna kick in teeth an; take names, right, partner?"

The flickering flame of your hardcore springtime of youth, just became a whole lot dimmer.

---

SYSTEM MSG: Well, congratulations. Hm. It appears you have grown a little closer with Komachi. Hm. You get the feeling you'll reach a new understanding with her soon...maybe.

Gain: + 1 Expression

BGM Load: "just another day", Iwasaki Taku - Shin Megami Tensei Persona ~ Trinity Soul ~ OST

---

It is with a groan that you wake from slumber, exhausted and mired in sweat. Bleary eyed, you try to make sense of your surrounding but all you seem to be able to make out through your "dry" senses is a whole lot of brightness and that balmy warmth one would normally associate with summer. Oh yeah, something is chirping too. Lots of somethings. Cicadas?

"Ah, cheerio, and a good morning to you, Master Jack-of-All," a bemused man's charming voice greets you.

You turn your head, a Herculean feat in itself, considering every muscle and joint in your body screams in inflamed and sore agony. An image comes into focus slowly...lots of blue, black, and then...silver; big guy sitting there by your side. Glasses? There is only one person you know who matches these features.

"Ri-Rinnosuke..." your voice is---dry. You could really use a glass of water of something, and could someone please throw this damn blanket off of you? Wha the hell. Why am I seeing your face? I don't want to see a guy's face when I wake up and feel like-"

"You have been struck by lightning," he finishes in jolly good mood for you, the total opposite of what you feel, "but come now, ol' chap, is that any way to treat the man who saved your cantankerous arse twice in the same day?"

Buddha, what is he doing here? Where is here anyways? And who the hell undressed you? ...well, you have clothes on this time, just a plain white yukata for sleeping... Thank Goodness. Wait a second... Did he just say he saved you twice?

"Come again?"

"Playing stupid with another man? Blimey, Gintoki, you might fancy yourself a dashing rogue, but now is hardly the time for vain bravado."

Seriously? That was the sort of impression people had of you? Then again, it was mostly your fault for perpetuating that badass image. Maybe you needed to work more on your people skills, instead of trying to out badass everyone and everything you come across.

"Okay-okay, thanks. I'll be sure to pay off my debt...ugh, when I don't feel like sweaty balls."

"I say, you really do feel the way you look, ol' chap. Funny, how gods work, eh?"

You feel the way you look? Shouldn't that be the other way around. ...well, you do feel just---awful. Yeah, just awful; no doubt about it. Did you get sick? You sure as hell do feel ill as any mere mortal.

"I admit I don't feel a hundred-percent right now, Mister Sunshine and Darjeeling."

"Darjeeling? Fantastic. We ought to sit down some time for tea, I say. Bring Reimu along, too, if you would; she would loathe you absolutely should she not be informed of the little get together. Aside from money and resolving crisis', tea is number one on her list of---hobbies."

Okay, you get the feeling you should be freaking out here, but you are little bit slow on the uptake here.

"Rinnosuke-han, before we go any further, can I get a few things straight here?"
>> No. 92401
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92401
The bespectacled gentleman beams, slapping his thigh.

"By the Queen, make it so, ace."

Uhhh...whatever that is supposed to mean. You'll take that as a "yes".

"Where am I? What happened to me, exactly? What are you doing here? What..." you pause to phrase this one a little more delicately, "...circumstances, if I may ask, brought your fine self and O-Reimu into the know about each other? What do you mean by that god stuff? You know something about me I don't...and can I have a glass of water, please?"

"Well, I can do better than water for starters, ol' chap. Lemon Ice Tea from my private stock."

Is that a PET bottle?

"Uhhh, if you hadn't notice, just trying to carry on this conversation is taking all I got."

"Jolly a-mazing, but the last thing a gentleman ought to do is invade another's personal space without permission, when not subject to the Good Samaritan clause. So, may I?"

You have to admit this guy is way more thoughtful and sensitive about these little things than you are; you could learn a thing or two from Morichika Rinnosuke here, merchantman and gentleman extraordinaire. Uhh...and a Bro, too.

"As long as this stays between us, go for it."

"Agreed; I would hate for the tabloid reporter blackbird to see us like this, or any of the womenfolk. Gossip is the stuff of evil."

"I can imagine."

...

Ah, how refreshing.

"Thanks again. ...I think I'm starting to lose count of the favors I owe you."

Rinnosuke laughs.

"What are friends for, if not companions to be relied upon in moments of dire seriousness and grave boredom?"

Fortunes, now you are still feel really guilty for even suspecting that this guy had any remotely ill-intentions in the first place, when you met him just a day ago. You sure are one lucky sonuvagun to have met all these good people so quickly, though yesterday was also a clear demonstration that there were also those who could care less for you. To strike such a golden friendship is something that should be treasured, not squandered; you really ought to find a way to make it up to Rinnosuke sometime.

"True, true."

He nods, agreeably so.

"Now to answer your elementary questions, my dashing Watson: you are at your residence, Hakurei Shrine, specifically in your room. The time is nine in the morning, according to my handy little Omega. It was I who brought you here late last evening after discovering yourself in a lonesome little dreary fainting spell on the trail near to my establishment in the Forest of Magic. Worry not I recovered all your belongings, including one case of sheer ebony that I am quite interested in, if you know what I mean."

Right, you did tell him you were a new resident deity at Hakurei Shrine. Hopefully, your honorable landlady is taking the current course of events well enough...as for that business opportunity Kourin's hinting at, you can hear the ryou ringing like bells in your head already. Cha-ching!

...wait a second here!

"You found me by myself? ...You're pulling my leg here, right?" you ask him urgently.

Your concern does not go unnoticed by the wily merchantman, who gives you a sympathetic look.

"I got the feeling when I arrived there had been quite the battle, but I am afraid anyone else present, spirited themselves away long before."

You sigh.

"...at least, she was nice enough not to eat me, while I was defenseless."

"She?"

"I didn't do most of that damage. It was this crazy youkai kid, Rumia. You know her?"

"More than I would care to admit, ol' chap," his expression turns pained for an instant before flashing back to his easy joy. "Oh, congratulations for besting her without a Spell Card duel! That took some guts if I should say so myself."

"H-How did you know?"
>> No. 92402
"Just elementary powers of observation and my uncanny experience, Gintoki. As for your other questions, well, it is part and parcel of being an older gentleman like myself and the advantages of a long, fairly fulfilling life. Why, I can still remember the day when we met! She was not even called Hakurei no Reimu then. That fated name belonged to her mother, as the true successor of Hakurei."

...Wh-what? O-Reimu was not always---Hakurei no Reimu? ...but. But how does that work?

"Ah, I see I have caught your interest---that makes the two of us, does it not?"

Now, you cannot help but feel---overwhelmed by that statement. Honestly, you did not think there were any other males beside your august self who could be interested in the Fated Shrine Maiden.

"Well, I should say three. Heaven have mercy on us when that perplexing woman decides to make her debut."

Okay, so she is popular with both sides of the fence? ...Wunderbar.

"But at the risk of redundancy, I am honest here, ol' chap, you really do look the way you feel."

Wha?

"I do not know what happened after you and I parted ways, but I can discern clearly that you are not the same man I met a day ago. It is not only illness, which you are afflicted with at present. There is something far greater at work here, and if I can tell the difference after knowing you less than a day, I guarantee your other acquaintances will notice the changes too. The signs are written all over your body and demeanor, but to my eyes in particular, ol' chap, you seem undefined, wavering, lost..."

And right on cue, a fluttering bittersweet agony flares up in your chest, the epicenter right over where your heart would be... Damn. You---you did not want anyone to see you like...this. It is so strong, compelling that you swear you feel as if you are about to snarl like a caged beast.

"Now, am I not demanding that you have to tell me anything at all. Even if we are friends, I understand well that you and I have only just met. I trust you, but you may not trust me. It is an irony I am well versed in the nuances of... That said, I am not saying I am the best person for you to speak of such sensitive matters too, but I also won't recommend anyone you know."

Eh?

"See: they---we can tell you what you WANT to hear, but it is not necessarily what you NEED to hear. We are not impartial. Objective. After all, it was I who stayed up all night to nurse you back to health. Someone less connected might not have gone to such lengths. ...Of course, approaching a complete, perfect stranger for a matter like this is idiocy; what I would recommend is to approach one who knows you, but is not so invested in you that they are afraid to speak their mind. Having met you halfway, the rest is up to you."

What you want to hear is not what you need to hear...

"Ahh, this ol' bloke needs his sleep," Rinnosuke yawns all of a sudden, breaking the grave mood all in one fell swoop. Just how does he do that? Serious one second and all happy dory the next? "If there is nothing else, I shall take my leave, Yorozuya no Gintoki-san, but not before going to inform your landlady of your recovery. So, what shall it be?"

What is it going to be?

Choose...

[] Confide in Rinnosuke. He's a cool guy. You're a pretty cool guy. He would understand where you're coming from, right?

[] On the other hand, maybe he is right. You ought to think more carefully about who you are going to talk this over with.

[] ???

If Option 2, then...

[] But first, let's not do anything rash here. You're in a bad way. Let's just try to sleep this illness off, first, then deal with all these outstanding issues.

[] How about a "phonecall"? The girls wouldn't be a smart idea. But Kid? He looks like the type who's used to dealing with problems, his own and other people...even though he falls to pieces on occasion, certainly. He ought to understand, too, if you need your space. ...You can't say the same for Machi-nee or Sikieiki. Women just got a totally different way of dealing with problems. Seriously.

[] Let's just---chillax. Think about nothing. Care about nothing. You are in the Zone, until further notice.

[] ??????

---
>> No. 92403
>It's apparent to anyone who looks at you that there's something wrong with you.
>But don't communicate the cause of the problem with those who would care the most.

Not that his advice contains any malice; he's just telling you what he would be doing in the same situation. We're not Rinnosuke, obviously. Giving off a cool, disaffected air may suit him, but we live and die by our connectedness with others. Touya is concrete proof of this.

[x] Tell him you will make a note of his advice, remarking that a friend's eye is the best mirror. Thank him for watching over you.
[x] COMMUNE: Call the children; tell them it's story time. Lay the events of yesterday out for them in the form of an entertaining tale, embellishing where needed. Try to be in full swing by the time O-Reimu comes around.
-[x] Ask them what kind of person the main character seemed to be.
-[x] Most importantly, was it a good story?

Yea, have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
>> No. 92407
>>92403

There's also the fact many of our friends are blunt as hell.

Reimu isn't one to beat around the bush.

Komachi could easily be blunt (though she'd tease you about it some)

Siki you could try asking to call upon her professional side (which is very cold and objective)

Dunno what to vote yet since Rinnosuke has a male PoV, and perhaps knowledge of the SDM, so he might shed light on Gin's big screw up. (If not for that screw up, perhaps the meeting with Remilia would have gone better, not to mention Gin wouldn't be in such a mess)

By comparison, pissing off a thunder god is rather minor.

And there's yet another reference to Yukari (I wonder if in canon, Reimu and Yukari met before the PCB Phantasm stage)

Though I wonder how those three would react to news of Gin's screw up...

I'd think Komachi would be the most forgiving (though she'd tease Gin)

Siki might be most upset, but if Gin convinces her of his intent to repent for it, she might forgive him.

Reimu'd most likely shake her head at the whole thing and tell Gin in the future to think with his upper head.
>> No. 92466
>>92407
>Dunno what to vote yet since Rinnosuke has a male PoV, and perhaps knowledge of the SDM, so he might shed light on Gin's big screw up. (If not for that screw up, perhaps the meeting with Remilia would have gone better, not to mention Gin wouldn't be in such a mess)

Thing is, what's at heart is the internal conflict itself. Any outside observer would upbraid him, not for any moral failing, but for blowing the issue out of proportion and allowing himself to sink into a sea of self-doubt because of it, thereby threatening to squander the investment that they themselves may have made in him.
>> No. 92481
Amending vote.

[x] on the other hand, maybe he is right. You need to think more carefully about who you are going to talk this over with.
[x] first thing first: let's not do anything rash here. Your current situation simply doesn't allow you to do that. Let's just try to sleep this illness off, first, before dealing with all these outstanding issues.
After that...
[x] how about a "phonecall"? Calling the girls wouldn't be a smart idea, so why not contacting Kid? He looks like the type who's used to dealing with problems, his own and other people... even though he falls to pieces on occasion, certainly. He ought to understand, too, if you need your space. (You can't say the same for Machi-nee or Sikieiki, though. Women just got a totally different way of dealing with problems. Seriously.)
>> No. 92484
[x] on the other hand, maybe he is right. You need to think more carefully about who you are going to talk this over with.
[x] first thing first: let's not do anything rash here. Your current situation simply doesn't allow you to do that. Let's just try to sleep this illness off, first, before dealing with all these outstanding issues.
After that...
[x] how about a "phonecall"? Calling the girls wouldn't be a smart idea, so why not contacting Kid? He looks like the type who's used to dealing with problems, his own and other people... even though he falls to pieces on occasion, certainly. He ought to understand, too, if you need your space. (You can't say the same for Machi-nee or Sikieiki, though. Women just got a totally different way of dealing with problems. Seriously.)
>> No. 92551
ADMIN:

Calling the vote, then. Unfortunately, I'm-ma gone for the weekend, so expect no updates until late Sunday evening.
>> No. 92706
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92706
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Ze Custom Frankenstein

Current Phase: Morning - Cloudy - Day 2 (7 / 2, Year 118)

---

Being a rather passionate and proud fellow, you do not feel you have anything to hide, other than that which should not be spoken of to protect certain persons, including yourself. If this metaphysical crisis of yours is going to be a problem, then it ought to be addressed head-on...though that method seems to have been a hit-and-miss for you as of late.

"Naw, I'm good," you nod, before flashing him a sly look. "Give her my best, thank you kindly. I'll be up and about...in good time, trust me."

The savvy merchantman laughs and shakes his head.

"Ah, the boundless energy of youth."

Man, he really talks like an older guy. Just how old is Morichika Rinnosuke, seriously? Well, chock another thing to find out about the smooth gent one of these days.

"Cheerio, ol' chap; good day and a pleasant convalescence."

"See ya around, Kourin. I'll be sure to drop by with that interesting item some time."

"Fan-tastic!"

Those words spoken, he was gone, his footsteps soon receding away to leave you in solemn solitude and the relative peace of the morning. You expected it to be more noisy like it was yesterday, but you suspect your honored landlady had something to do about that matter. Too bad, she could not do anything about the weather.

Fortunes, it is balmy as hell; your fever---yup, that's a fever all right---is not helping. Who knew gods could get sick? Guess there is a limit to how godly you really are, considering how much punishment you have suffered in past days, and how often you have reached the brink.

Well, first thing first: let's not do anything rash here to earn anymore unnecessary suffering. Your current situation simply does not allow---nay---want you to do that. It is plain lunacy to even think a sick man can just go off to take on the world by himself, even more absurd for a sick god to do the same. So what you are going to do is just try to sleep this illness off, along with all your other aches and pains, before dealing with any of these outstanding issues.

Maybe Rinnosuke is right. You need to think more carefully about who you are going to talk this thing over with, and boy, is it mess, but you sure as hell are not going to get anything productive done while you are suffering. So without further ado, you try to sleep.

Funny, how you are out like a light before you know it. Must have been more exhausted than you...thought.

---

SYSTEM MSG: Well, congratulations. It appears you have grown a little closer with Rinnosuke. Savvy~. You get the feeling you'll reach a new understanding with him soon...perhaps.

Stand-by...

Current Phase: Evening - Rain Showers - Day 2 (7 / 2, Year 118)

---

The veil of night has fallen when you at long last rise from a dreamless slumber. Quite a few things come to mind at a moment's notice, beginning with: you feel quite refreshed and clean, which is odd. You do not remember bathing or doing anything of the sort that would elicit such a feeling. True, it is much cooler outside now than it was this morning, chilled with a bit of a gentle, melodic "hum" of rain.

Had it been dark, your personal might have been more difficult, but thanks to the presence of several paper lanterns, providing a subdued pleasant light, as they float ethereally in the corners of your room, it is much easier than expected. What is not expected is that the bedding and your sleepwear is fresh no doubt, and someone must have taken the liberty to bathe and change you...

Erm. Awkward.

You do not know what to think of that, though you suppose it is not unusual treatment for the nobility and the rich, much less a god. It would have been nice if they asked your permission first, but...you suppose O-Reimu's word is good enough as any, at least you think it was her who tasked the kami children. As far you are concerned, she is the last word around the shrine and had the "muscle" to back it up, which you could believe in with all sincerity, considering your recent experience.

Gensokyo is a strange realm indeed, if the gods of Nihon can be bested by all sorts of ruffians. Then again, you are not exactly the shining example of poise and power, compared to your cousins. Still, you appreciate the challenge. You have got a long ways to go and many more adventures to look forward to, before you can even think to tire of this place, which was a relief unto itself.

Say, those paper lanterns... Probably shikigami... The kanji written on them...that's "Gin", the character for "Silver", which your own namesake is taken from. Nice. Your honorable landlady is even more thoughtful than you expected, then again, you have not really gotten a chance to sit down and get to know her, but---these little touches, so they say, tell a lot about a person.

You sigh.

Speaking of little touches... How did you come across that insight just now? ...Right. You were "Thinking", not trying to satisfy the root of your ego, which sadly, though you are not willing to admit it yet, stems from your favorite little friend. Hindsight is a wonderful thing is it not? It really helps to put things into "Perspective".
>> No. 92707
Fortunes, what a mess. You played right into Ebisu's hand. Clearly, you are in desperate need of mastering yourself; as you are, now, you can hardly be called a god, much less a man, and certainly, a thousand years too early to be Samurai. You used to have some interest in Zen, but even that does not have the same appeal it once did, though now you see it could have been an avenue to master yourself within and without.

Alas, you are lacking the understanding and the knowledge to make any more sense of your experience. Tsk! Arrghh, complicated, and you just do not get it, no matter how hard you try to wrap your thoughts around it.

...

Damn.

...

Well, if you cannot unravel this koan by yourself, then you sure as hell are going to get some guidance.

In fact, how about a "phonecall"? The girls wouldn't be a smart idea, so why not try contacting Kid? He looks like the type who's used to dealing with problems, his own and other people...even though he falls to pieces on occasion, certainly. He ought to understand, too, if you need your space. ...You can't say the same for Machi-nee or Sikieiki, though. Women just got a totally different way of dealing with problems. Seriously.

Thankfully, it does not take too long to locate the mystic mirror for it is located in the provided closet, with your few possessions. You cannot help but chuckle at the irony you have already succeeded in destroyed three sets of clothes, two set of underthings, and two pairs of footwear, since you arrived at Gensokyo. Seriously, you are going to be spending most of your money on replacement "necessities" at this rate, unless you can figure some way to enchant them to be much more resilient to damage.

Sigh.

You only have one more set left and one last pair of boots. Wonder what kind of currency they use in Higan... More importantly, how are you going to explain you destroyed most of your wardrobe in such a short amount of time? Oh well, maybe the Great Little King of Hell can help you with that problem, too.

Anyways, a little focus and a little jaz, and HAAAAAAAA~lleujah.

"Well, it's about time you called," a poised, almost regal voice greets you, informally (shocking, really), as the image comes into focus.

Golden eyes. Prim and proper, super expensive suit. That distinctive two-toned hair. Oh, and of course, that air of boredom wrapped about his person like a kingly mantle: it was a hundred percent genuine Death the Kid. He "rocked" that throne like he owned it, though you question why his office was...just pitch black. If it were not for the fact that his throne was of pure white porcelain, most of his "deathly" person would have blended right in.

"Sounds like you missed me, Kid-kun," you raise a sly brow. "What? Not having enough excitement in the nether realm without me there?"

"Oho-ho ho ho, if you knew even half of it, Yorozuya no Gintoki-san, you would blanch pale enough to match your teeth."

Oh, so he knows about your name? ...it would be safe to assume he knows most of what you told Komachi. Word sure does travel fast among a small circle about who's doing what or how they are doing. What you did not expect was for them to be this closely knit, then again, Kid and Sikieiki share similar views and are around the same "age", you reckon. They are also the most human-ish of the Yama, so it makes sense they would be close.

"You've created enough trouble down here to last several human lifetimes. It'll be a long, long time before this blows over, so I hope you've prepared your heart to live in some---interesting times."

Hmmm. Food for thought, huh?

"Ri~ght. Say, you got some time to kill?"

The Little King of Hell stifles a laugh, as he breaks into the faintest hint of a smirk.

"Gintoki, you really shouldn't be asking that of THEGod of Death. I happened to have taught quite a few individuals what it really means to kill things, if you know what I mean. ...though there are people out there who like to claim they are better at it than me, like Morrigan. ...still, can't figure out if that girl wants to own me or wants to kill me, and I don't understand in the slightest why she decided turn into a complete Succubi slut. Must be one of those mid-life epiphanies."

Wow... Did you call the right guy up or what?

"But I digress, if you're here for the briefing, I'm afraid you're still too early. Sikieiki and I are still scouting out a potential target for you, so---you'll behave, won't you?"

Ahh... Behave. Huh?

"Actually, Kid..." you trail off with a guilty look.

As expected, the God of Death's eyes immediately turn half-lidded, his gaze glossing over with cool exasperation, but also an odd undercurrent of---almost paternal really---understanding(?!).

"Stay right there; I'm coming over."

Man, even Kid's...wait. WHAT?!

"So what did you do?"

HOLY ZEN, he's here! How did he get here? So. Damn. FAST!?

"Well?" the Great Little King of Hell prompts you, as he sits there beside you, his cheek propped up against an open palm, looking for all the world that he belonged with every inch of his finery. True, it is just a suit, but damn, does he make it look---GOOD. "You're not going to sit there all night gawking at me, are you?"

Right, stop staring; he is the God of Death, so it is to be expected he can do things like this...but it would not hurt to ask how, no? You would like to be able to do cool stuff like that too some day.
>> No. 92708
"Uhhh...how'd you get here so-"

"I'm the God of Death," he smiles ruefully, "and you two need to strengthen the wards around this property as soon as humanly possible. I don't expect you to be able to keep everyone out, but at least you should have warning, when something or someone is coming. The difference between minutes and seconds matters in life and death."

Figures he was not going to share, but he does raise a good point there with the home security thing.

"So, let's hear it, before people realize I'm gone from my office. ...You can't begin to imagine what kind of an uproar that's going to cause."

No time like the present to air out all grievances, so you tell it as it is---was---with no embellishment. You get the feeling trying to brag about your (mis)adventure would hardly impress someone of Death the Kid's prestige. He has probably done everything you have ever dreamed of accomplishing already; that was the sort of overachiever he seemed to be, in all experiences.

When all is said and done, Kid does not say a word. He merely reaches over to grasp your shoulder, firmly---and smirks.

...

"What's with that reaction, HUH!?" you cannot help but yelp in an uproar after pouring out your honest feelings.

Like seriously, does not this guy know how to read the mood. This is serious business here!

"Ah, I'm just amazed a straightforward, bull-headed, brave, idiot fake perm, Nice Guy like you can have---ahem---such grave concerns."

"Hey~... If you came here to make fun of me-"

"Nonsense, but I am not going to praise you, either."

...Ouch. Curt sonuva-

"On the other hand, there is hope for you yet, Gintoki. It is not as if your entire misadventure was a loss."

Gyah! He really knows how to cut right through the fat and into the heart of the matter doesn't he? This guy.

"Learning of one's limits is often an embarrassing, shameful experience, but taken with a dose of humility is also the best experience life can offer. Better it happened now, then later, for as the expression goes---the bigger they are, the harder they fall---is true in every sense of the word."

You hate to say it, but that kind of made you feel better.

"So what do I now?"

"There's a number of things you can do."

"...Like?" you drawl at him, dryly.

A dryness he has happy to return in spades, "Like stop sulking."

S-Sulking? You!? You were sulking?

"I can read the angst all over your face. You need to accept what happened and move on."

"And how am I supposed to do that?"

"For starters, you need to shake off that Charm the succubus put on you."

...

C-Charm? What charm?!

"You look confused, understandable, since you are ignorant, woefully so, of beings who fall outside of Nihon's Celestial Order. Wizards. Witches. Vampires. Werewolves. Devils. Imps. Angels. And succubi to name a few."

"What the hell are they, and what do they got to do with me?"

"You met them at that Scarlet Devil Mansion. Baroness Remilia Scarlet is a vampire, obviously, and likely, a Dead Apostle, if she can use a Reality Marble. Miss Koakuma is a succubi and a Prince of Hell, bound to someone in the household as a familiar; a dangerous contract, but one I suspect isn't without it's advantages. Our chief concern, however, is with the latter at the moment."

"Charm?"

"She cast a spell on you, Gintoki. Vector: eye contact. And as tough as you think you are, she is a Prince of Hell---you lost the moment you decided to face her head-on."

"I lost?"

"She robbed you of your will. Every thought, every action you made between the time of you looking into her eyes and you trying to comfort her was not of your own will. She was calling to you the entire time, a subtle subconscious suggestion...playing to your chivalrous beliefs that the crying maiden needed to be comforted. All part of the plan, see? You were her willing little puppy already and she was trying to finish what she started. The ritual is still only half complete.

"Had you---consummated the moment, you would be her helpless, unknowing thrall until death, when she has taken every last drop of prana from you... Or she could choose to convert you into an incubus, erasing all traces of your former self to create her perfect, ideal manservant---a dog---loyal and obedient that would suit her every fancy, and when she grows bored of you, she'll destroy you and seek out another. ...You are still in danger of her influence and you need to have that---affliction---looked at as soon as possible."

"N-No way, she couldn't be-" you protest in shock.

"I see her influence is even stronger than I suspected at first," Kid interjects mercilessly. "Tell me, Gintoki, what do you know about her?"

"Ah...uhh."

"Exactly. She was ravishing. The most beautiful woman you laid eyes on at that moment. At that point...you knew next to nothing about her other than she was a dangerous femme fatale in every sense of the word, one that you had been warned of. Your first time with her would have been your last. Certainly, she could have decided to play with you, patiently, for I hear that most succubi cannot drain all of a being's prana at once.

"Thus, they will---court you---gradually, much like how vampires revisit their victims several times, before the latter finally expires and can be revived as a ghoul or a thrall. Always the victims are powerless to resist once the process begins. That is how strong this Dark Magic is. ...though I imagine a Prince of Hell could have finished you in one go, quite easily."

@#$%.
>> No. 92709
---

System MSG: Uh-oh. Gain...

***DEFECT: Dark Compulsion - It appears you did not escape unscathed physically from the den of lust, after all. An insidious dark arcane spell has been cast upon you and it is but a question of time before this new weakness of yours is exploited. Tread carefully. Effects: Primary - Increased TN difficulty for all rolls versus Koakuma. Secondary - Invasive Mental Contamination (Active / Passive).

---

"I don't know if anyone ever told you this, or in these exact words in particular, but..." Kid closes his eyes in solemn reflection. "Being a god, isn't easy, Gintoki. There are miserable people out there who really need our help, but there exists those wicked wretches who would exploit our place in the---grand scheme of things, quite readily, too."

A grim moment of silence follows as you digest his words. Yes, O-Reimu's paranoia was starting to make perfect sense; already you had some inkling of how bad things were from your experience in the Forest of Magic, but it is hard to imagine the worst could come from just one mistake, one moment of weakness. You have blundered beautifully.

"So what. THE HELL. am I supposed to do, now?" you growl harshly in unnerved agitation.

The wavering in your heart has worsened.

"As I've suggested, letting the Hakurei know and see you would be a most excellent idea. Your only alternatives otherwise... Well, I'll see if I can recommend a wizard or a witch of some renown, perhaps they can see to the---curse."

He breathes, giving your shoulder a gentle squeeze. His sentiment is reassuring, oddly enough. You never expected to meet this sort of mature and reliable side of Death the Kid, in person, after all.

"The last and toughest thing you could do is confront Koakuma, a proposition tantamount to suicide at your present level, though I imagine, for someone of the Hakurei's power, it shouldn't be too difficult for her."

The thought of asking your honored landlady to clean up after one of your mistakes leaves a rather bitter aftertaste in your mouth. In fact, having to sit here with the Great Little King of Hell as you are, is a substantial blow to your ego. Hard to believe just the other day it was you comforting him. How quickly the mighty have fallen from grace, eh?

"Don't kick yourself too badly over what happened, Gintoki, and don't use this incident as an excuse to shy away from us, either."

What? H-How did he notice? Were you that---transparent? Geez. How lame of you.

"It is as someone dear said to me a long time ago---people grow stronger together. I respect your desire in every way for I, too, am the same. I have people I want to---have to protect as well, and so do they feel obligated to protect myself. It's like kind of a comedy, don't you think?"

A comedy?

"I love you more. No. I love YOU more. Get it?"

He favors you, once more, an unusually fatherly smile. Arguably, Kid looks much younger than you, but right now, he felt very much so like someone wise beyond his years and far more experienced than his apparent youth. Compared to him, you are the boy and he is the man, no doubt.

"Y-Yeah...I get what you mean," you cannot help but shy away from him, a touch embarrassed.

"Listen. The beginning of any great man---person is learning to accept his or her mistakes. I'm not going to criticize you for whoever the hell you want to have a relationship (or relationships) with... I probably would've had some difficulties myself, resisting a beautiful woman, who was practically throwing herself at me. It's like trying to refuse a free meal from your host, don't you think so?"

Incredibly, you find yourself reddening at such frank, crude talk coming from Death the Kid.

"That said... I've made efforts to ensure that I have more healthy, productive relations, so to speak. It need not be sung of that I very much do appreciate living with Elizabeth and Patricia. Therefore, saying 'NO!' is a lot easier in my case... You're a growing boy, Yorozuya no Gintoki-kun. I expect that you'll make mistakes in both love and life. You're entitled to it, just like the mortals are."

Kid's smile beams with a nostalgic flair.

"It's like my honorable father said, a long, long time ago, 'We might be gods, but when given the fascination of the human spirit, we, too, are fallible'. How else do you think I was conceived?"

What? So...wait... Does that mean...? Kid was really born-born, unlike how you were...making him the product of parents, mortal and immortal? ...For real?

"Too bad, if I must say so myself, that this whole mess isn't going to end pretty," he laughs haphazardly, "because running away didn't really solve anything, Gintoki."

You get a little bit angry at such a ridiculous statement.

"What? Did you expect me just to keel over there and die like a dog?"

"No, but I would've been impressed had you confronted your problem right there."

"What problem?"

"Like it or not, this I'll say in simple terms: You. Royally. Pissed off, the hostess of that household, and being a blue blood, she's not going to take it lying down."

"But, you said-"

"I don't have a problem with whom you have relations with, though I hope you would have enough sense not to end up with someone who is just out to use you."

You seethe, reminded of your shameful misjudgment once more.
>> No. 92710
"The problem here is you were invited into someone else's home, and you pretty much acted in the most ungrateful, disgusting behavior possible. Shouldn't blame you too hard since you didn't know any better. It's like asking a caveman to dance the waltz at a ballroom party. Etiquette. Propriety. That sort of thing?"

The comparison is not flattering to say the least, so do you try to protest only to discover...

"And what the hell did I---we---no, I... I do wrong? She---I---s-she came on to me!"

...unexpected difficulties? You attempt to clarify yourself but the words end up coming out all jumbled. ...What the hell is happening to you? Could this be an effect of the curse? Was Koakuma bending you to her will, yet again?

Kid notices your complication, but says nothing, oddly.

"You were both wrong. That demoness had no business in your presence and nor did you have anything to do with her. I understand women and girls are like the best thing since sake to you right now, but please, don't get it into your head that they're just toys for you to romance and play with at will."

What kind of an accusation was that?!

"Don't give me that. Had she not been what she was, truly, or had you not been interrupted, you would have been happy to play games with her, hadn't you? ...even if you don't know what those games really are or what they entail, isn't that right?"

His words cut sharper than any steel straight to your pride. Now, you cannot help but wonder if you were really such a shallow person. Kid, mercifully, does not press any further and continues onward.

"Baroness Scarlet's servants did what they could to protect you. True, their plan was flawed, but everything went south because of your reckless behavior, made worse when you tried to beat the succubi at her own game."

...ugh, kinda hard to argue with that because, ultimately, if you had not let her in, if only you had resisted harder... If only...

"Man up, Gintoki. That's all I'm going to say. I don't know how merciless that narcissistic vampire can be, but whatever you do, do not show your belly to her and accept whatever cruel and unusual punishment she might have. It will only encourage her megalomania more, and I can tell she is not the kind to accept any sort of compromise from one she deems beneath her. Face it: this is probably going to come down to a duel in the future. The only way the both of you can settle your respective indignation in this disgraceful scandal. It is the strong that have the last word; the history of this world is proof enough."

The Great Little King of Hell is gazing at you, stoically, but you can tell that he is expecting an answer from you. So, is your wavering heart.
>> No. 92711
File 124988468983.jpg - (43.34KB , 400x400 , 2079665.jpg ) [iqdb]
92711
"I know this is a lot to take in, but I am certain everything ties back into that very shame. A part of you must have felt disappointed---betrayed. That you knew this was a dangerous gamble... That you were doing something foolish here... You bet yourself on that wager, Gintoki, and you lost. More important than letting yourself down, I believe, that part of you feels you let everyone you knew down. So you tried to change yourself...and right now, we are in the middle of that change. A crisis of identity."

Identity?

"I'm sure you've considered the questions. Who. What. When. Where. Why. How."

Yes.

"You can run if you want to, it is certainly one way of ridding yourself of this burden. I've thought about doing just that myself many, many times. Just quit."

Q-Quitting?!

"A complete paradigm shift. You are caught in between a massive tug of war between ideologies. Humility versus Glory. Freedom against Law. Hedonism compared to Asceticism. Errata. Why bother with one or another, some balance, when you can just embrace the extreme?"

Embrace the extreme?

"Don't you find it curious why most gods or beings are either for something completely or against it altogether? How there is no room for compromise? Well, the answer is elementary: it is easier to live that way. You don't have to think. The only thing that matters is the strength of your zeal and the ability to realize those drives. Base. Crude."

...

"If you wanted to be free, then all you would have to do is forsake the Celestial Order, including all of us. Freedom, you would have...but nowhere to return to and no greater enemy to fight save for boredom. It is a haughty, self-serving existence, such is the manner of chaos. Order, I'm afraid, is not terribly much better. The Greater Good this. The Greater Good that. Let the few perish, so that the many may live... It leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it."

That's "quitting"?

Kid turns a cool half-lidded gaze at you, withdrawing his grasp at last.

"Whatever you choose is your choice, Gintoki. Be a man, or feel free to delude yourself as much as you like. Freedom. Justice. Strength. Those things and more mean nothing without one simple thing. Do you know what it is? Heh. Not that I expect you to know the answer right now, you're a kid. Maybe a little more Decoration Disorder Disconnection might be good for you."

D.D.D.?

"So, what's your plan going to be, Mister Yorozuya?"

CHANCE: To be or not to be that is the question?

Choose...

[] Man up. There's a lot things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out soon enough. In the meantime, it's clear that you need to face this---wavering BS with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner is right up your alley.
[] DELUSION
[] "You lost me."
[] ZEAL
[] ??????

---
>> No. 92716
>>"If you wanted to be free, then all you would have to do is forsake the Celestial Order, including all of us. Freedom, you would have...but nowhere to return to and no greater enemy to fight save for boredom. It is a haughty, self-serving existence, such is the manner of chaos. Order, I'm afraid, is not terribly much better. The Greater Good this. The Greater Good that. Let the few perish, so that the many may live... It leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it."

So, the paper-pushers up in heaven would have us believe that "order" and "good" are the same thing?

...Ridiculous.

[x] Man up. There's a lot things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out soon enough. In the meantime, it's clear that you need to face this---wavering BS with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner-- Oh, who the fuck are you kidding?
--[x] CHAOTIC GOOD

Since you're apparently dead set on forcing the alignment system on us (and I am extremely disappoint, by the way) we might as well stick to what this story is supposed to be about; "kicking ass" and "looking good doing it".
>> No. 92718
[x] "My plan? I never asked for complete freedom, remember? And I think there's a few other people I have to talk to before I start drawing up any blueprints."
>> No. 92722
[x] Man up. There's a lot things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out soon enough. In the meantime, it's clear that you need to face this---wavering BS with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner-- Oh, who the fuck are you kidding?
--[x] CHAOTIC GOOD

I agree
>> No. 92726
[] Man up. There's a lot things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out soon enough. In the meantime, it's clear that you need to face this---wavering BS with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner is right up your alley.
-[] "As it is, I do not plan to forsake the order- more precisely the sacrifices and difficulties you, Siki, and Machi-Nee has endured. But in the meanwhile I can't expect myself to keep to the perfectly narrow line, nor I do ever plan on letting my desires get to me in a strange locale. I will learn my ultimately true path in time."
--[]Neutral good with traces of lawful.

Possible plans
-Find Alice and have her look at the curse, (She has a neutral attitude towards Reimu and isn't quick to tell Marisa things)
-inform O-Reimu that things didn't go well and that it'd be ill-advised that you go back at the moment, tell her the details later on after you remove the curse.
-Look into Gensokyo more in general.
>> No. 92728
>>92726
[x] Man up. There's a lot things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out soon enough. In the meantime, it's clear that you need to face this---wavering BS with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner is right up your alley.
-[x] "As it is, I do not plan to forsake the order- more precisely the sacrifices and difficulties you, Siki, and Machi-Nee has endured. But in the meanwhile I can't expect myself to keep to the perfectly narrow line, nor I do ever plan on letting my desires get to me in a strange locale. I will learn my ultimately true path in time."
-- [x] neutral good with traces of lawful.
>> No. 92732
ADMIN:

All right, calling ze vote and striking the iron, while it's hot. Should be an interesting frankenstein.
>> No. 92734
>>92732

Wait, aren't the votes tied?
>> No. 92742
[x] Man up. There's a lot things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out soon enough. In the meantime, it's clear that you need to face this---wavering BS with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner is right up your alley.
-[x] "As it is, I do not plan to forsake the order- more precisely the sacrifices and difficulties you, Siki, and Machi-Nee has endured. But in the meanwhile I can't expect myself to keep to the perfectly narrow line, nor I do ever plan on letting my desires get to me in a strange locale. I will learn my ultimately true path in time."
-- [x] neutral good with traces of lawful.

Not anymore.
>> No. 92745
>>92742

A correction of the statement "nor I do ever plan on letting my desires get to me in a strange locale." ,it'd be "nor I do ever plan on letting my desires get to me in a strange locale ever again."
>> No. 92770
File 124995696610.jpg - (16.54KB , 346x369 , 2754555.jpg ) [iqdb]
92770
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Ze Write-ins Custom

Current Phase: Evening - Showers - Day 2 (7 / 2, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Mukashi no Yuujin ga...", Kamagata Eiichi - Gintama OST 1

---

A plan? You?

...

Geez, who are you trying to kid? When in the past several days had you actually planned for anything at all to happen? Nadda. Zip. Zero.

"My plan? Man," you shrug lazily with a carefree grin, "I never asked for complete freedom, did I? 'sides, I think there's a few other people I'd have to talk to before I start drawing up any blueprints for something as complicated as life."

Kid rolls his eyes at you in an oddly reverent manner. "As expected of a My-Pace! kind of easygoing fellow, but let's not pretend we don't smell smoke here, Gintoki."

If there is smoke, chances are there is a fire somewhere.

Sigh.

He's right. It's time, but for what? You suppose, it's best for you to talk yourself aloud through this: conviction in action or something like that, eh?

"Y'know, as it is," you begin in somewhat ponderous tones, "I don't plan to forsake the Order---more precisely, the sacrifices you, Sikieiki-san, and Machi-nee have endured to get me here, but in the meanwhile..."

"Go on," encourages the golden-eyed god in a thoughtful hum.

"I can't expect myself to keep to that perfect straight-and-narrow..."

He raises a curious brow at that statement.

"We never asked you to, Gintoki. At best, my expectation had been that you should not conduct yourself in a way that would bring shame to us all."

Crap. Come to think of it, in your embellished account of your adventures in the sacred world of the Other Shrine, you never did inform anyone of your little out of body experience that inspired you to seek out a path of enlightenment and wisdom. Well, turns out enlightenment clearly is not for you---at least the you of the now; maybe in the future, things will change. What you really need more than anything is some of that wisdom: in knowledge and experience.

"Nor do I ever plan on letting my desires get the better of me in a strange locale ever again."

Kid nods.

"Amen to that. I might be the more forgiving one when it comes to things like this, but I cannot say the same for our colleagues. Onozuka-kun might be understanding of the circumstances, though I think you will lose some stock with her over the matter. Yamaxanadu? ...I suggest not telling her (especially not Onozuka, if you don't want HER to hear from her) until this incident is resolved. She is very much a woman of virtue and propriety, in just about every sense of the word."

Ah, well, you kind of figured that...

"To sum it up, I will learn my true path in time, ultimately, but right now? Let's just take it easy."

"Take it easy, you don't say?"

"For reals, for reals, Kid-kun. I'm going to man up and say it right now. I was trying way too hard to be a Big BAD~ Man, and I'm pretty sure that lifestyle isn't for me. Way too highstrung on the stress, if you know what I mean."

"Then what's a man to do then, Gintoki-danna?"

An idea bubbles up to you from the sea of your memories; it's the beginning of something bigger, but you do not have all the parts for it yet.

"Right now, I'll settle for this: a man's got to be cool on the outside, but in the inside he's like---magma---from Mount Fuji, ready to explode when the moment comes upon him. I don't need to go out looking for Ebisu. Let HIM come to me. There is plenty of excitement out here in the realm of Gensokyo, and to my experience, it will be more than happy to invite me to the big bash, like it or not."

A moment of silence The Great Little King of Hell claps you on the shoulder gingerly with an approving smile in his half-lidded gaze, even though his expression is---stoned, like totally.

"Gin, I think you're going to be all right, after all."

There is a lot of things you don't get, still, but you'll figure 'em out at your own pace. Haste makes waste, right? As for this wavering BS, it is clear that you need to face it with a boot straight up its backside. How convenient, too, that tackling things head-on in a sincere manner is right up your alley...

Wait.

The pain. ...it's gone?

---

System MSG: Oh-ho! Mighty interesting developments here.

Lose...

**DEFECT: WAVERING SOUL.

Gain...

**PERK: EASY Mode - You have begun to embark once more with a fresh new outlook. No need to get fired up over everything and nothing any more, no sir. Relax. Unwind. Chillax. Take it easy and be excellent, dude. Effect: + Easy-going.

Oh, and congratulations...

Your title has changed to: "The Silver-haired Wayfarer", a man who is certain enough that he is on a journey of self-discovery and that'll do for now.

---

Unbelievable.

You feel so---refreshed, as if a great burden had been lifted off your shoulders. This feeling: it's quite liberating really!

"Well then, I think it's time for me to be spirited away myself," says Kid all of a sudden, snapping you from your reverie.
>> No. 92771
Filled with these good vibes, you cannot help but feel a little bummed out that he is going to take off already. Seriously, it feels like he just got here, and you have been a bad host! The Great King of Hell took a good chunk of time out of his busy schedule to come here and help square you away; least you could do was treat him to a little hospitality. This guy, you know... He is a true bro, and it would not be right to let him take off without some extra peace of mind.

"Oh come on, Kid, you just got here," you laugh in high spirits, joining him as he stands up. "And hell, all we did was talk about me-me-me and none of you. Seriously, stick around for a bit, you workaholic!"

"I'm afraid some of us have actual jobs, Gintoki."

"Man, didn't you say you hated to do paperwork?"

"Yes, but when it's your lazy bum on the line," he levels a flat half-lidded stare at you, "do you really want me to tarry around?"

Aw, man. That was lame. Totally lame.

"Dang, Kid, way to be a buzz kill. You know what I'm trying to do here, right?"

"Of course, I do."

He gives you a secretive eye-smile.

"Then be a good guest and let me introduce you, properly, to O-Reimu."

"I'm a man in high demand, but if you want to do something that'll reassure you'll be good fellow from now on. Here, take this."

Whoa! Did he just pull out a book from inside his suit jacket? That's so weird. No way something this big and glossy---ooohhh, funny cartoon pictures. Awesome!

"Read that book and better yourself. It should prove highly beneficial for your edification, and may hap, unexpectedly rewarding."

"Dude! Kid!"

"Yes?"

With a big grin, you give a conspiratory wink to him.

"Thanks, man, and you know what?"

"Uh-huh."

"I think you're going to make a great father some day. If you can turn around a messed up guy like me, I'm sure you'll be just fine. Oh yeah, might make a good principal or something, too! You never know, right?"

"D-Dammit! Don't go saying embarrassing unsymmetrical things like that to a symmetrical guy, you uncouth, fake au naturel perm bastard! A-And...and I'm not---th-that old yet. K-Kids scare me, you know that? So damn reckless and inexperienced, even the ones that think they're perfect little adults... Ugh. Those ones are probably the worst. ...err, I'm still young, right?"

"Don't worry, man. I got your back, and hey, what do you know? YOU saved ME this time, not the other way around like last time. Guess Death the Kid can be a pretty reliable guy, for a schizo obsessive compulsive metrosexual, huh?"

"I hate you, Gintoki."

Holy crap, why are the both of you completely snot-nosed and crying water falls?! You are just trying to say goodbye in a manly brothers way!

SNIFF.

...Oh, what the hell. If it has come to this point, then there is only one thing left to do.

"I hate you, too, bro."

BROFIST.

---

System MSG: Congratulations, through braving this trial together, your bonds have grown stronger with the Great Little King of Hell, and so do you become more empowered.

**The Death the Kid Social Link of The Emperor Arcana has risen to Rank 2!

You have been awarded a gift!

Gain:

**"The Gentleman's Way ~ A Tour de Force of Neo-Victorian Etiquette in Three Parts ~ Book 1" by Sir Fabulous Zero - A self-help book if you have ever seen one, and thankfully written in a language you understand right from the get go. The addition of plenty of humorous 4-panel comic pages helps to make things much more readable. Learnable Skill: Etiquette (Neo-Victorian). Additional Effect: + Random Personal Trait growth

---
>> No. 92772
After Kid leaves, disappearing quite literally into thin air in a blink of an eye, you decide to go wash up a bit. It would be a touch awkward of someone saw you all emotional and stuff. This was a sort of a private moment thing, you know? Luckily, you manage not to encounter a single soul during the trip, giving you ample time to compose yourself.

When you return to your room, you discover a tray of hot food already waiting for you, to which your stomach greets happily with a loud growl. Still, remembering to exercise a bit of restraint in good taste, you give thanks before happily digging in with no regrets. O-Reimu's cooking is---wow, is her cooking beginning to taste even better? A quick sidelong inspection of your meal between ravenous bites reveals there is a much greater variety of side dishes. In fact, the portions are much more generous, and more spices, aromatic and flavorful, have been added in than from the last time you ate.

Goodness, if this isn't an incentive for you to work harder, make this shrine bigger, and bring in the ryou---then you have to be a damn fool. The fortunes only know what other "benefits" will open up in due time. Heh heh heh, just kidding...though a back rub would be nice about now.

...wait. Oh crap, you forgot to ask Kid about getting you some spare threads! Tsk, guess you'll just have to ask him next time you get, and hope you do not run out of clothes before then.

"Ah, it was a feast! Thank you for the meal, Sama!"

Burp.

Ho boy, you were hungrier than you thought...

Yawn~...

"And, now, I'm sleepy, sama."

However, by the time you look down, you discover that your now "cleaned up" tray has been taken away. How strangely quaint. Could this be the work of a zashiki-warashi? You don't remember inviting one into the shrine's attached estate, but who knows what your honorable landlady has been up to while you were out?

"Eh, what-ever. It could make a cool~ topic for the morn-ing."

Yeah, you are going to catch some Z's. Big day tomorrow; fresh new start and all that jazz. Wonder what will come your way?

Sleep.

---

SYSTEM MSG: End Day 2.

Stand-by... Loading... Begin.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

---

Morning comes sure as Lady Sun rises in the west, but it feels a bit---off. Lying there in your futon, you stare grumpily up at the ceiling, eyes rimmed with red. Most people you think wake up feeling better than they did the day before, but right now, you feel worse than you did last night. Half-rested only at best, even though you went out like a light as soon as you closed your eyes.

Crap.

The shrine is relatively peaceful today too, other than the usual cicadas and the rising heat, but you hear some padded footsteps here and there outside your room, matching the silhouettes of child-sized figures beyond the shoji doors. It appears the kami children are up and about doing something or another, but as for you...

Just what are you going to do?

Choose...

[] Sleep in some more. Need those quality Z's, man.
[] Go air out your futon and blanket.
[] Go freshen up. Maybe that'll make you feel better.
[] Forget all that. Let's go see if breakfast is being served, still.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 92783
[x] Alright, time to get crackin'. You need to freshen up and pay a visit to your shrine maiden. You have some apologizing to do.
>> No. 92787
[x] Alright, time to get crackin'. You need to freshen up and pay a visit to your shrine maiden. You have some apologizing to do.
>> No. 92804
[X] Alright, time to get crackin'. You need to freshen up and pay a visit to your shrine maiden. You have some apologizing to do.
>> No. 92853
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Alright time to get crackin'. You need to freshen up and pay a visit to your Shrine Maiden. You have some apologizing to do.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Your Affection", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Ugh, if you're awake, then you might as well stay awake for a little while, right? You can always find time to sneak in a catnap later. Sure, it's weird to wake up feeling only half-rested, but if it's a sign of exciting things to come, well, you'd rather put it on the back burner for now. One thing at a time, you know?

Alright, time to get crackin'. You need to freshen up and pay a visit to your shrine maiden. See...you have some "apologizing" to do, yeah?

After having packed your linen and things away into the closet, you step out into the ryouka. A quick glance about the inner courtyard reveals this seems to be an ordinary morning as any around the home of Hakurei, aside from the recent addition of an actual household staff. Here: you spot some the kami children, none of the fire children though, tending to the tsukiyama-style garden, specifically a traditional garden meant to copy famous vistas from Chuugoku or right here in Nihon.

Alas, it will have to wait until another time for you to admire its composition. The bathroom calls. Traversing a few halls and turns later in a brisk pace, you arrive at the ofuro (lit. "Bath" in polite terms), which is rather quaint and traditional by your reckoning as it should be in the first. There is a changing room prior to entering the bath where you discard your slippers and plain white yukata into a waiting hamper upon the many shelves---indicative of much happier times long ago...days that you intend to bring back.

But now was not the time to digress into thoughtful rumination was it? Taking your bag of toiletries that also occupied the same cubby hole, you grab a towel and step through the curtains into the steamy bathing area. It is actually quite spacious, and the "bathtub" itself certainly was a luxury for it could have fit at least two to three grown adults. The Hakurei had been well to do, apparently so, before their decline. Too bad you were in a rush today and did not have the time to take a nice long soak, or really appreciate all the "history" around you.

Though with all these amenities, O-Reimu's proud demeanor was making all the more sense. Everything around her served as a reminder of how great her family had been, easily a match for a mighty samurai clan. It would not be a stretch at all to think that at one time Hakurei Shrine was a nexus for all sorts of influential local figures. Then, there was also the visiting dignitaries from far and wide across Nihon, coming to seek an audience with the Shrine Maiden and her ilk. This estate was both a symbol and an ancestral land to be defended to the death.

To think this house has fallen so low but to be occupied by the last Shrine Maiden... Once again you give thanks that you arrived just in time, and so does your morning ritual come to an end, leaving you a little bit more refreshed.
>> No. 92854
File 125006226378.jpg - (475.26KB , 1024x768 , e8c51d5710e8177bee828b961a034d4e.jpg ) [iqdb]
92854
---

System MSG: Gain...

+ 1 pts of Diligence.

---

You waste no time hunting for a change of clothes or searching for a bite to eat. Frankly, this simple white yukata was your best bet for staying cool, not to mention you had plans still for that nap some time later. True, it would be god awfully difficult to remove any stains from the cotton should you happen to spill something like a mannerless babe at the table, but hey, at least you would be in good company doing it, right?

Right.

Soon, you step outside in a pair of geta---not one of your own but burrowed from the cupboard in the foyer that unexpectedly fits you. Hell, it is pretty much a perfect fit. Wonder who these belonged to at some point? Alas, you do not stop to ponder this newest little mystery. Fortune called and you were not going to make her wait.

Still, you are really on a roll this morning, aren't you? What, with the whole moving with an easy sense of purpose in your body, and all. On the other hand, this was O-Reimu and you haven't seen her in close to two days now... You had to admit you were a bit worried, with all sorts of dreadful questions buzzing about your head, but when you do discover the person you seek---you can't help but feel a little heartbroken.

There was Hakurei no Reimu all right in all her EPIC! Miko-ness, sweeping the stone path to the shrine building, dutifully---without a care in the world. Yeah, it's like her new resident god did not take ill the day prior, and the day before that...was brought home a complete mess. Then again, it was not as if you two had a particularly close relationship other than as mutually concerned business partners. If your health was no longer an issue, which it wasn't in the slightest anymore, then why should she be a worry wart for nothing?

Sigh. What a lonely distance it is between you and her.

Uhhh...more to the point, now that you are "face to back" with your honorable landlady, just how should you go about "apologizing" to her anyways?

Choose...

[] Let's start off casual and off-topic, yeah?
[] O Fair Shrine Maiden, this humble one wouldst entreat thee for thy absolution! ...No really, I'm sorry.
[] Sorry. No B.S. I'm sorry.
[] Ahem! Ladies first.
[] BODY LANGUAGE(?) "Men need not words!" so they say.
[] ...Hey, you up for brunch?
[] On second thought...
[] ??????

---
>> No. 92857
[x] ...Hey, you up for brunch?

My treat
>> No. 92858
[x] Bow your head and apologize out loud. No need playing games or beating around the bush.
>> No. 92865
[x] Bow your head and apologize out loud. No need playing games or beating around the bush.
>> No. 92868
[x] Bow your head and apologize out loud. No need playing games or beating around the bush.

Best to be straight up honest about things (perhaps save for the fact Gin thought it was a great idea counter-seducing a member of HELL'S NOBILITY!) but include the fact that you made an incidental mistep that has you on bad terms with the SDM (And perhaps Reimu by extension)

Easy since the mistep wasn't 100% related to the Koakuma snafu, just you getting uppity.
>> No. 92907
File 125012057221.jpg - (61.04KB , 384x512 , 5386974.jpg ) [iqdb]
92907
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Bow your head... + Ze Sorta Write-in

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

---

Okay, as cool as some of these potential approaches are, they are way too stressin', y'know? Relax and be natural... Well, don't let it all hang out; the key thing here is to avoid any misunderstandings or slip-ups, period. O-Reimu was the last person you want to misunderstand you, considering her methods of diplomacy appear to be primarily "HIT IT WITH THE EXTREME PREJUDICE OF AN ANGRY GOD GONE HIKING".

So, without further ado, you step up with a firm stomp to get her attention and bow low---way low, like "your forehead touching the sun kissed stone tiles" low.

"I'M SORRY!"

Your voice carries loud and clear across the front yard, leaving no room for any misconception. It was you, no mistaking, and you had declared an apology. The bizarrely soothing scratch of a swaying broom halts, making it plain to hear that the owner had heard you. Her reaction, however...was to sigh, a long emphatic expression of agitation and weariness in one.

"Lift your face. I don't care how loud you shout into the ground, but I'll never hear it. I'm not interested in natural-born idiots like that. If you want my attention, talk to me, and if you have any balls at all, look me in the eye when you say so. ...Do that first, then I might consider listening to what you have to say."

She is not turning around to face you. Her voice it is---heavy. There, you see a subtle sag and tension in her small shoulders, as if she were burdened. Why? What was wrong?

"How troublesome. I wonder what I did to be chosen arbitrarily as the mother of a newborn never-do-well god, by the King of Hell and a Yama, no less? Tsk, tsk, tsk, guess this just wasn't my lifetime. Might have better luck in the next one."

"Rei-"

"You," she cuts in flatly, "you're really like a kid, you know that? Doing selfish things, or just doing things to impress people. ...I'd like tot think you're not a bad one---misguided, but not bad. At least you finished the job you took on from me and came back in one piece, kind of, right? Says something about your stubbornness. ...Congratulations."

---

System MSG: O~me~de~ttou~ de gozaru. Gain...

+ 1 pts of Diligence

BGM Load: "Why?", Riei Saito - Fragile ~Sayanora Tsuki no Haikyo~ OST

---

Well, you do not quite know what to say to that... The Red and White did not sound particularly enthusiastic, nor was she apathetic, either. It was a simple statement of facts?

"But let's get something straight here," she moves on in a much more stern, forceful manner; full of purpose.

Yeah... You had a bad feeling about this...

"Correct me if I'm wrong, Yorozuya no Gintoki, but did I or did I not instruct you in running an errand for me, to which volunteered of your own free will, two days prior?"

"Yes," you reply, oddly devoid of emotion yourself. What was this feeling? This. PRESSURE?

"Did I or did I not tell you in simple, easy to understand language that all you had to do was to deliver a document and my personal letter to whoever that wretched, pompous den had for a leader?"

"Yes, you did, Miko-sama."

"So where in my simple, easy to understand instruction did I tell you---TO EMBARRASS ME?!"

The explosion of her anger happens literally and abruptly, sending a whipping whirlwind in all directions, the worst of it raking at your hair and clothes. Nails: fortunes, it feels like nails digging stinging furrows into your flesh! What the hell was this?!

"Do you like to start blood feuds for fun, Gintoki?" the Fated Shrine Maiden whirls upon you with a bittersweet accusation upon her lips. "Does it satisfy some sick, twisted amusement for you?"

Her eyes flash an unsettling electric blue, with such furious scorn that it was as if she had the mind to blast you into ashes with lightning bolts straight from those very eyes! The overwhelming sight bewilders and leaves you in awe, unable to resist, only able to be swept away in the turbulent wake of her mighty presence.

"...No," you breathe, somehow managing not to hide your face by pressing it back onto the stone tiles.

"Then WHY! Why do I have a LETTER of CHALLENGE in my hand?"

The crisp flutter of paper being drawn is not so different from a sword coming from this awesome person, and you cannot help shudder, as she brandishes the damning envelope in the air, its red waxen seal broken.

"WHAT. Did YOU do to make ME want to tear out this---Bitch's FANGS (and I KNOW for dead certain it's a bitch, by the way, because she pushed my buttons GOOD)---with my bare hands. WHAT. Did YOU do to make this know-nothing, high off her rosy smelling ass BITCH---NOT take Hakurei no Reimu's WORD of warning, TO HEART? HUH. Answer me!"

You try to explain yourself (in spite of the fact you want to do nothing more than to let loose your bowels and bladder in shear terror) saving her from the gory details. After all, she probably did not want to know right now what a great idea you thought it was at the time to try counter-seducing a member of Hell's nobility. Really, you blundered because you got uppity in a new environment that was way out of your depth.

Of course, your effort is entirely unsuccessful because as soon as you open your mouth, she cuts you off, continuing with her raging tirade.

"Do I. LOOK. like I enjoy wasting my breath? Do I. LOOK. like I enjoy being ignored when I have made MY concerns clear?"
>> No. 92908
File 125012067513.jpg - (92.81KB , 440x772 , d82cfcb7224c3d8c389a60f349b0c518.jpg ) [iqdb]
92908
That would be a most definite "HELL NO", you can imagine, as the Red and White gives a moment's pause, to collect herself, her fair countenance dark and thundering.

"Gintoki...I have a duty to protect the peace of this realm. Certainly, my life becomes much more rewarding when a crisis arises and I get to fatten my purse a little bit for the danger, but I do NOT relish for a second, being held responsible---GUILTY---for starting an incident! ...And we have eleven days until then... Eleven days before Remilia Dame Bitchalot Scarred-blueballs unleashes a GREAT calamity upon Gensokyo!"

What? Eleven days? What does she-!

"Do you feel PROUD of yourself, Yorozuya no Gintoki? Does it make you feel GOOD that in eleven days hundreds if not thousands of lives will be dropped into danger and peril unimaginable because you were a big bad dickhead?"

You shake your head "No"---absolutely not in the slightest "NO!".

"Damn right you better not be, or you'll find my foot so far up your hiney hole where Lady Sun doesn't kiss it that the next person who separates my foot from your frickin' arse will be nominated the next Shrine Maiden!"

Y~eah, you'd like to take a rain check-!

"AAARRGHHHhhhhhhh! Tsk, you. JUST. Don't. Get it. do you?"

Uhhh, yeah, O-Reimu's gone bonkers mad angry... Like flipping out mad angry and about to hit you with that damn broom; its wooden haft whining and twisting painfully in ominous warning.

"Of course, you don't understand anything! Going in blind and hoping things will turn out all right? Keh-hehehehe... Gods, you stupid dung-eating PUNK! Was it too much to hope for that you'd stop and think things through before you do something? That you could behave like a mature adult? That you'd know when it's time to be serious and when it's time to play around? Ugh!"

Amen...

"...look, when you went out that day, you left on a mission as MY personal envoy."

Her personal envoy? Sure, O-Reimu is important, at least that's the gist you got from Machi-nee, but how important was she really if...

"I. AM. The Arbitrator, the Fated Shrine Maiden of Hakurei, and arguably the SUPREME existence in all of Gensokyo, but thanks to a fun little loophole made in the Unwritten Law when this realm was founded... My hands are absolutely tied. The Shrine Maiden cannot resolve a crisis BEFORE it happens---that is the fundamental right of the Youkai! GODS. I didn't even want to know this was going to happen, but you just had to go royally screw everything up and dump the responsibility on me, didn't you, Gintoki? Leave it to Hakurei no Reimu to clean up after the irresponsible eight-million-fold gods, isn't that right? HUH."

Oh. Crap. ...so you managed to start an "international incident" on your second day of living? Well, isn't that just eff-ing FAN-tastic?! Fortunes, this was not just a little misstep; this was huge! Serious freakin' business! How the hell were you supposed to make this right, and perhaps more importantly, how were you going to make it up to O-Reimu?

Now that the Red and White had let all her fury out at you, she just looks...devastated. You---you didn't think it would hit her this hard. Certainly, your honorable landlady was entitled to her outrage, but you never thought she really cared that much about...

"Let me alone, Gintoki. Don't bring this up anymore. I'll come to you when I'm right and ready to hear it. In fact, for the record: I'm not even interested in hearing the full story of what happened from your side, right now, because just thinking about what that Remi-sucks-a-lot told me in her flowery tongue---is enough to make me RAGING MAD.

"I don't care for how much of it was true and how much of it was lies. Why? Because I'm going to be bothered by what's going to happen in eleven days---for the NEXT eleven days! All those people...if something happens to the village, then it's all over. Gensokyo will be finished. Gods! am I even ready for this? The last time, it was M-Mothe---I have to prepare; hurry..."

...well, everything.

@#$%.

CAUTION: What shall you do?

Choose...

[] COURAGE: Tell O-Reimu about the curse. Better to let your complication be known, before you're beyond help.
[] Get up and try to comfort her?
[] Yeah, she needs her space, and you have some... Thinking... Training.... Whatever to do.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 92912
[x] COURAGE: Tell O-Reimu about the curse. Better to let your complication be known, before you're beyond help.
[x] After that, leave her to clear her head. You should do something as well: training, thinking, whatever to help you getting over the mess you've faced.
>> No. 92913
She told you to look her in the eye and speak like you got a pair, son.

So why not give her a whole damn wall of cojones?

[x] COURAGE: "So, you got this letter from Remilia Scarlet saying essentially she was gonna get you if she has to wreck a train to do it, and, that once she has you, she was gonna to rip out your heart and eat it in strips like bacon?"
[x] COURAGE: "Answer is easy. I wreck her train first. Your hands are tied, sure, but mine aren't. I'm a god. I think I can do whatever the hell I want, no matter what my well-intentioned priestess tells me." Say this with a shit-eating grin.
[x] COURAGE: As to whether you'd be able to do it or not, the proof is in the pudding. "You know the phrase 'don't kill the messenger?' 'Cause, apparently, she hadn't. She tried, yeah, but she couldn't, and so she ended up embarrassing herself in front of her servants, which forced her to save face through this threat. So don't be fooled into thinking it's some carefully calculated power play on her part to draw you out; it's really just a fit thrown by a child who feels they have to impress everyone around them. I guess you could say I empathize in that regard."
[x] COURAGE: Tell her what you were actually laid out by, a combination of a still-subsisting hex by a Prince of Darkness and a suicide maneuver pulled on account a being accosted by a wild Rumia outside of a spell card battle (whatever that is).
-[x] The hex you still have to rid yourself of, so you're headed in that direction anyway.
-[x] You're going to read the book on etiquette that the Crown Prince of Hell gave you first, though. Just in case it comes down to (ugh) diplomacy.
[x] COURAGE: Keep in mind she can't actually give you permission to act against Remilia, as it would violate her oath of non-pre-emptive action against youkai, but a glint in her eye or even a less than completely unequivocal rebuke could be taken as a tacit go-ahead.

We'll come to private agreement over Scarlet how serious her challenge to Reimu will be in the next eleven days. You can work it out so that it seems like a huge catastrophe is about occur according to any bystander, when in actuality it's all bluster. You can construct a mutually beneficial farce that both re-asserts Scarlet's position as one of the 'great youkai' of Gensokyo, and re-solidifies Reimu's position as the Lawbringer.

This whole thing is actually good for Reimu: If there weren't problems, there'd be no need for problem-solvers. Donations will go up as a result no matter how this ends, but how we can help is by ensuring that Reimu knows exactly what's going to happen, before it happens, as well as reassuring her it's nothing she won't be able to handle.
>> No. 92914
>>92913

I must say this sounds compelling. I'll wait until tomorrow or so to think of a way to improve it if possible.

And from one writer-fan to another, I'll post using my name (I was responsible for the last couple of good write-ins here)
>> No. 92918
>>92913

It's too smug, our arrogance has gotten us in trouble before. I'm gonna rethink my vote and wait until tomorow.

But I do like the second half. Reword the first part and I think we'll have a winner.
>> No. 92920
>>92918
>It's too smug, our arrogance has gotten us in trouble before.

That's only when we're half-assing it. When we're fully-assing it, we've run into no problems. That's why it's got that COURAGE bit in front: Speaking with anything less than total conviction is going to drain our words of any reassurance they might have for the shrine maiden.
>> No. 92921
[x] >>92913
[x] COURAGE: Do not let her take the spotlight even for a moment. You will say what you have to say and she will hear all of it. You understand the situation and you will fight for her honor, with everything you have.

Whatever the outcome for that vote is, I think that last part is needed. We can't let her interrupt us during our speech; she'll either make us faulter or not wish to hear anymore. With J to the E's current track record, you know he'll try to fuck us over with this.
>> No. 92990
ADMIN:

Out of respect for Wiseman, who said he wanted to take a stab at possibly improving the write in, and more so level headed folks who haven't voted yet, I'm going to keep this vote open another day. The more level Anons aren't wrong at all that this is a rather delicate situation.

But let me just put this out there. Gintoki's Courage stat line is at Rank 3 "Brave"... And I believe, we've been trying to educate ourselves that Gintoki has limitations and faults. Newly humbled with some fresh experience, he's trying to change himself to a more easy going philosophy. Cool under pressure and having the wisdom to know when he needs to turn up the heat for Manly Fire.

Think about it. Think about what Reimu's saying. Think about his character. Etc.

It's all "Wheels within Wheels".

Of course, I'll still go through with whatever wins. Just understand that as with all things there will be consequences. Could be a success, a half-success, a half-failure, or a failure... I admit frankly that this write-in option is a bit of an unnecessary gamble, but hey, it should prove to be an interesting development if we go for it. Even if we don't go for it, I still have to write...

...though it would be nice to go one day in this adventure without some MAD! drama happening. Goodness, we haven't even uncovered the various professions / jobs Gintoki could be doing in town, martial schools, more Social Links, etc. There are still dangling lead-ins to follow up on. A business opportunity from yours truly, Rinnosuke. Random encounters. And oh, your bosses / colleagues in Higan are going to spring that quest on you.

Geez, it wouldn't kill you all to relax a little bit. It is going to be a busy 11 in-game days, and there will be other opportunities.

On the other hand, looking ahead I wonder how much time I should allot for Perfect Cherry Blossom... Eh, we'll see when we get there.
>> No. 92992
>>92990
And we only have you to blame.
>> No. 92993
>>92990

I withdrew my vote. Waiting for the Wiseman write-in. You're our only hope.
>> No. 93002
First let me state that our time to talk and explain ourselves is over. And now isn't the time to be the man of action, but a support player behind Reimu if she'd let us.

[x] Courage: Inform her of the hex and ask her of ways to get rid of it.

Being a Miko, she may know of some ways or someone who can handle it.

[x] Ask her how you can assist in her preparations, at the very least in non-dicey cases (her trust in us is obviously shaken some).

Since you do have some intel at least so Reimu won't be in for too many nasty surprises. And the matter of possible Allies (that is unless in this Gensokyo, Marisa isn't a incident solver)

[x] Plan to improve yourself, including reading that etiquette book. This also includes social links as well.

(That and Siki and Machi-nee might be worried)

[x] Look into removing that hex.

You need to rely on more than just your brazen audacity. It was your lack of etiquette combined with your o that lead to the snafu ultimately.

As for the hex getting rid of it would be a great idea since who knows if Koakuma would be sent over just to cause problems.

Two things to do meanwhile:

[x]Explore Gensokyo as to learn about it, meet new people, and hopefully make some allies. (And not any more snafus)

[X] Write a letter explaining the full story in the case that when Reimu comes around and you're off somewhere that she can find out.

A reminder: We can't assume too much about this Gensokyo at all, we already found out the hard way that Koakuma isn't all that she seems.

So we should vote more carefully from now on.
>> No. 93003
I understand this might not be what you were expecting but I read it carefully and came to this conclusion.
>> No. 93029
>>93002

Cool and collected. This is the path. My vote goes to the Wiseman. Let's get some votes in, people.
>> No. 93031
[X]Wiseman write-in
>> No. 93032
You need to rely on more than just your brazen audacity. It was your lack of etiquette combined with your over abundance of audacity that lead to the snafu ultimately.

Is what I meant to say
>> No. 93043
>>92399[X]Wiseman Write-in
Cool and collected, not rash and careless is the way to go.
>> No. 93073
>>93002

This works.
>> No. 93093
ADMIN:

The Wiseman Write-in it is. Should hopefully be up tomorrow some time.
>> No. 93193
Updates?
>> No. 93211
File 125094811436.jpg - (530.49KB , 800x1000 , 5262206.jpg ) [iqdb]
93211
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Ze Wiseman Write-in

"How unexpectedly long."

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Promise", Riei Saito - Fragile ~Sayanora Tsuki no Haikyo~ OST

---

Man, talk about heavy. What a fine mess you've helped to land yourself into, though you imagine you cannot complain for lack of excitement in your life. Still, there is one more "sin" you ought to divulge now rather than later. An ordinary person probably would not have the guts to admit another failing on their part, but you are made of sterner stuff than that.

"I hate to burden you even more," you address the Red and White in respectful tones, gently, "but there's something else you need to know."

Reimu turns rigid, a sudden unsettling spasm, at the onset of your voice. Her eyes flash to a frosty blue, arms cross over her front, the picture of feminine contempt, as she favors you a hard stare.

"Speak."

Ho boy, this is not going to be pretty, but a man's got to pay his dues.

"I got cursed while I was over there."

"Cursed, you say?" she snorts with a raised brow. "What's there to say you WEREN'T cursed to begin with?"

Yeah, O-Reimu's not happy with you. Not one bit.

"I'm being serious here. I really got cursed over at the Scarlet Devil Mansion."

"By---NO. I'd rather NOT know who did it right now; that's just one more bitch I'm going to purify, with EX-treme prejudice. You understand me?"

"Yeah."

"But let's just say, I believe you. How in the winds did you find out?"

"The God of Death told me. Remember him? Two-toned hair. Golden eyes. Savvy gaijin clothes?"

"Ohhhh, that eccentric punk," her eyes glimmer with recognition.

"He's a lot better than that, Miko-san. Trust me."

"Hnnn, so he looked at you and discovered a curse..."

"A-yup. He recommended you to me first to see if we could deal with it before it got out of hand."

The Red and White's irate exasperation left palpable prickly sting in the air, but remarkably Reimu seemed to be keeping her cool quite well, even though her tone became increasingly stern.

"And what kind of curse is it?"

"Some kind of gaijin 'dark magic'," you emphasize with quotes.

"What does it do?"

"Well... It's going to rob me of my free will, eventually. Fancy that, huh?"

There is no need for words. Hakurei no Reimu's feelings are more than adequately conveyed through the most powerful persuasion ever conceived by woman: The Look. ...GODS. There is no way she should be old enough legally to use that yet! AGH.

You wince, an usual jelly like feeling weakening you right at the knees, as you race to think of a way to salvage the situation. Alas, there is no way that would not amount to a lot of whining and scapegoating on your part.

Sigh.

A man's got to pay his dues, right?

"What's it called, Yorozuya no Gintoki?" Reimu speaks barely above a whisper, but carrying all the deadly intent one would expect from drawn Nihon steel poised to strike and cut the foe in twain.

"Charm," you admit in grim resignation.

Yeah, she was not a happy in the least bit. Seething visibly, her noble countenance snarling red in unspoken indignation, the Red and White turns about and begins to march off.

"O-Reimu, I-" you begin unsteadily, finding your own feet moving to follow her.

"I'm going to be alone: to THINK, unlike some overgrown runts that only know how to swing around their LITTLE head."

Ouch. O-Reimu - 1, you - 0.

"I'm sorry, but look you're a Miko or you know someone, so it's not like it's a lost cause, right?"

She is walking faster.

"Okay, I'm really, really sorry. Uh. Can I help you in whatever preparations you got in mind? I know I don't look like much to you right now, but I can be some use to you. I've been inside that place, met the youkai, and stuff, so-"

Faster.

"C'mon, O-Reimu, I promise I'm going to be a better person from now on. Geezus, you said it yourself: I'm like a big baby. Kids are supposed to make mistakes. I-"

Then, a funny thing happened: she stopped walking on the ground. A breeze blew, causing a stir of rustling leaves, and just like that Hakurei no Reimu was "floating" up into the air. No kicking. No jumping. No running start. She just---floated up in perfect serenity. Even you, with all your sleeping knowledge, are forced to take pause and marvel at the incredible sight of the Red and White, a human just---dancing up into the wind as easily as any leaf. Soon, you watched her soar off into the blue yonder.

Blink.

"Well, that could've gone any way, just about," you murmur aloud after a moment's silent reflection. "I guess, she'll come collect me when she needs me."

Sigh.

Dismissed, you shrug resignedly and return to the inner sanctum of the home. Defeated you are not, only more certain that your new course is correct. These next eleven days will be precious indeed. Sure, you know not how much you can better yourself, or if you will be able to regain your honorable landlady's trust in time, but it is better to try than to sit here and wallow in misery over the inevitable.

---

System MSG: Well, your tenuous relationship appears to have been damaged, but do not fear. Some would say that the more challenging the ascent, the greater the reward when one reaches the peak at long last.

---
>> No. 93212
File 125094835147.jpg - (175.10KB , 1123x794 , 5616572.jpg ) [iqdb]
93212
First on the agenda though was to put down your misadventure in writing. It was for the sake of having a record for O-Reimu, in case she should wish to know all that transpired on that day, if you happen to unavailable at the time. You do not want to sound the part of a pessimist, but you get the feeling the two of you will need some breathing space, at least for a couple of days.

The question is, just where are you going to find some ink and paper?

"Hey there, Boss!" a boisterous cry comes to your attention.

Well, if it isn't Tsuchi no Daiya! Perfect, just the fellow you needed. The earth boy responds to your request for writing materials without question, evidently happy to be of use for his master judging by his enthusiasm. He returns but a spare moment later to your room, carrying even a small folding low-table with him. You thank him but think better before dismissing him entirely.

"Eh, something else I can do for ya, Boss?"

You ask him simply to return check up on you within the hour. He obeys without question and leaves with a big smile on his face, though you have to wonder if he is that carefree or a little bit on a one-track mind. True to your direction, Daiya returns within the hour wherefore do you present to him a white envelope, hand folded by yourself, containing the full contents of your misadventure in a letter meant for only Hakurei no Reimu's eyes.

"Tsuchi-kun, I want you to keep this letter safe," you tell him.

"Okey-dokey, danna, but can I ask who it's for?" he rubs his chin with a thoughtful smile.

"O-Reimu."

"Really? Well, isn't this kindly old fashion of ya. Exchangin' feelin's through letters, eh?"

"Heh, I wish it was that simple."

He raises an eyebrow at that, looking quite bewildered.

"B-Boss, ya didn't make the Missus cry, didja?"

"Relax, Daiya. It wasn't that serious," you try to downplay his worst fears. "Trust me, it's going to be just fine."

The earth kami sighs heavily, as if burdened with a task that was arduous even for a formidable fellow like him.

"Lem'me guess: just hold on to this, let her know I gots it, an' wait on my rear until further notice, right?"

"Yup. Hopefully, she'll come to talk to me in person about---the thing---but if I'm busy, at least she can read that right there."

"I do sure hope y'know what ya 're doin' 'ere, Boss. I really hope so."

"And this stays between us, all right? Don't want to get everyone up in a panic."

"Speak no evil; see no evil; hear no evil," Daiya says sagely, though he has not lost that worried air. "Any-thin' else, Sama?"

"Actually, could you run over to the kitchen and see if they've got any leftovers from breakfast?"

"'course. Plannin' to go out?"

The poor kid was looking even more burdened now.

"Guess that means the party's on indefinite hold, huh?"

"We'll live."

"Yeah... So what now?"

"Well, I'm really hungry and thirsty right now," you laugh haplessly, a sentiment punctuated by your growling stomach, "but I'd appreciate it if someone could make a bentou too and fill up a couple of flasks worth of fresh water. It's hot out there. Don't want to be famished again come lunch time."

"Plans for some fresh air in the countryside, Boss?"

"A-yup."

"I really hope ya've gots a good plan for makin' up with the Missus, Boss."

"Plans don't tend to survive first contact with O-Reimu, Tsuchi-kun."

"I'll take ya word for it, danna; I'll take ya word."

It was the best you could offer. In the meantime, well, there was a number of good reasons why you wanted to take a walk today. For starters, it might help you find an idyllic getaway where you can read or train in peace, despite not being in the comfort of Hakurei Shrine. Hey, you needed the change of scenery and it would hurt to learn more about the realm of Gensokyo---lay of the land and all that. Who knows you might even make a new close acquaintance. If you were not too tired in the evening, you might try to give your colleagues a call just to relax, though you really should call Kid to tell him to definitely follow up on the matter of the hex.

Hell, for all you know maybe one of your soon to be friends might know how to take care of it, without a bigger mess involved. Probably good a idea to get rid of it ASAP, must like the Little King of Hell said, before the Scarlet's learn about it and decide to send their little succubi to come knockin' on your door. ...that would not end well. You have been relying way too much on just brazen audacity as of late. It got you into big trouble all right where good manners, courtesy, and a cool head could have saved you a ton of heartbreak.

Seriously, you'd be pissed too if some guy you saved and took into the hospitality of the shrine decided to start making moves on O-Reimu. Hell, you could give less than a damn if it was mutual or not; that just ain't right. It's wrong dammit, taking advantage of your good will like that, and she should know better than to sell herself short like that to some stranger. ...Great, now you're starting to empathize with Countess Remilia Scarlet a little, and see where she was coming from.

Damn, you really can't blame the Hakurei for being absolutely pissed herself, too.

Sigh.

Hope she'll cool down enough in a couple of days so you all can be back to relative speaking terms.
>> No. 93213
File 125094851431.jpg - (186.28KB , 600x600 , 5f5537a4cf14b43eeadeca10bc624d69.jpg ) [iqdb]
93213
---

BGM Load: "Heartbreak, Heartbreak", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

The meal is much better than you would have expected coming from a guy, then again according to Daiya, Honoo no Hosaka is not your average fire kami. He is the kind who does everything with a thousand-percent passion; a genius at everything he tried, including misunderstandings. You get the feeling you would have had an interesting time with the fellow had you the pleasure of meeting him in person.

Oh well, another chance would come for today was not getting any younger. This time you packed with readiness in mind, taking your pack with you, instead of the satchel. Dressed light, just a simple plain yukata of brown the earth kami managed to scrounge up for you, remarkably in your size (how strangely convenient), with your actual last set of clothes and boots in your pack. Wonder who it belonged to originally?

Ack, you hope O-Reimu does not mind should she happen to see you in it. The coarseness of the material hints that it was probably meant for a man by your reckoning...so no hard feelings, right? Tsuchi no Daiya said he found a cache with a ton of these lying around. You imagine its former owner tended to get into rough scrapes often if he needed that many spare sets of clothes.

As for footwear, well, you decided to go traditional with waraji, sandals made from straw rope---cheap and expendable, so you won't feel bad should they get destroyed in your little outing in the nearby hills and woods. Again, you can't help but shake the odd feeling that the fit is a bit too perfect for a random hand me down that just happened to be lying around... Fortunes, this isn't the beginning of another plot by the Laughing God to which you lack the insight to divine its purpose, is it?

Sigh.

It is Tsuchi no Daiya and a handful of the child kami who see you off, the sentiment strangely touching, serving as a reminder that Hakurei Shrine was your home. At the end of the day, this is where your heart should be, and it is to these pure smiles you will be forever indebted. With any luck, you won't disappoint them again.

The trip down the long flight of stone stairs is peaceful and quite idyllic really. See, the hill to which Hakurei Shrine is secluded upon could honestly be called a "mountain" amongst the hilly countryside, dotted with ridges and saddles, all forested in green and brown. It made sense that the only road through these parts was situated in the long valley at the shrine's bottom steps that luckily cut through this difficult country to make easier the lives of both man and beast.

Of course, you can imagine that the fact Hakurei Shrine was built upon this tallest hill in particular had more to do than just an appreciation for the view, but alas, you are lacking the knowledge to make an insightful conclusion. Perhaps, you should look into getting yourself a copy of... Hmm, a name comes to mind...

"The Art of War"? Sounds interesting, though you have to wonder what's so artful about war; maybe you'll find out.

The dirt road is just as you saw the last time you were out here, but you can't shake the odd feeling that you forgot something important. Ugh, what could it be? Looking up at the clear sky through the shade, the answer comes to you as clearly as being struck by lightning.

Forgot to ask about the weather forecast! Dang, you really should plan a bit more meticulously the next time you go out. Who knows it might even be a good idea to get your own---the concept bubbles up from your slumbering memories---"Daily Planner". Hmm, might not be a bad idea to look into that, too...

Yip!

Did something just bark at you just now?

Yip-yip!

Poking its white furry head out from a row of bushes across from you is a wolf with quite possibly the most droll, hunky dory expression you have ever seen. In fact, he (or she) was doing a pretty good imitation of a smile, tongue lolling out and lips drawn back far further than a human face could possibly manage.

Yip!.

The white wolf appears to be beckoning you. Hnn, you get the feeling you know who this should be, since it's not every day a wolf just openly approaches a "human". Still, your last misadventure did begin with a wolf...who knows what the Laughing God has planned for you this time around?

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Oh, why not? You're better prepared today than the last time. Maybe "She" will even help you find some sweet getaway spot.
[] Sorry, not today, "Fluffy". You want some peace and quiet.
[] SKILLS (Specify: e.g. Commune)
[] ??????

---
>> No. 93263
[x] Oh, why not? You're better prepared today than the last time. Maybe "She" will even help you find some sweet getaway spot.

Hoping here that Kagura will offer us some advice and/or her thoughts regarding the problem we've been facing.
>> No. 93270
[x] COMMUNE
[x] You're not looking for any adventure today. The wolf can accompany you, but you're out to relax.
>> No. 93299
YIPYIPYIPYIPYIPYIPYIPYIP

[X] Poke fun at her inability to communicate effectively in this form. "What's that, a villager fell down the well! Lead the way, girl!"
[X] Then COMMUNE and ask her how she got stuck like this in the first place.

Since Kagura is apparently under a curse, and you're also under a curse, maybe you could help each other out?
>> No. 93303
File 125203407111.jpg - (21.55KB , 367x407 , yipyip.jpg ) [iqdb]
93303
>>93299
UH-HUH. UH-HUH.

[X] Poke fun at her inability to communicate effectively in this form. "What's that, a villager fell down the well! Lead the way, girl!"
[X] Then COMMUNE and ask her how she got stuck like this in the first place.
>> No. 93304
changing vote:
[x] >>93299

>Since Kagura is apparently under a curse, and you're also under a curse, maybe you could help each other out?

Sounds good enough.
>> No. 93306
>>93299
Let's do it.
>> No. 93308
[x] COMMUNE
[x] You're not looking for any adventure today. The wolf can accompany you, but you're out to relax.
>> No. 93314
ADMIN:

And the majority has spoken. Writing commencing.
>> No. 93388
File 125216965135.jpg - (31.87KB , 400x500 , 4306383.jpg ) [iqdb]
93388
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Poke fun at her inability to communicate effectively in this form. "What's that, a villager fell down the well! Lead the way, girl!"
[X] Then COMMUNE and ask her how she got stuck like this in the first place.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Yo no Charm Point", Kamagata Eiichi - Gintama OST 1

---

Okay, the average laymen probably would not think any humorous about this particular situation, but the more you look at it... To be a god, yet be unable to communicate effectively to your followers in your "natural" form---was that not a brand of irony in itself? The WOLF sun goddess. Truly, O Fair Amaterasu had questionable tastes to gift her "children" with such a manifestation. Didn't anyone ever tell her noble wolves of the forest are not equipped to speak Nihon? Then again, the last time someone told Amaterasu something she went and hid in a cave, drowning the world in night. What a spoiled princess.

Pffffffftttt!

Anyways, looking at the familiar white wolf, you cannot help but wonder if she was in a predicament herself. Possibly---tangled up in the brush? Impossible, though it would be a little funny if it was true.

Yip.

If this is going to be a one-sided manzai comedy routine, then you might as well start first. "Oi-oi, you know I don't understand a single word coming out of your potty mouth, right?"

The white wolf barks, evidently unaware of your words, but happy at being acknowledged. Somehow, you feel the urge to rush over and grab him or her by the cheeks and just, well, erm..."Who's a fuzzy wuzzy, Mister / Missus Fluffy? That's right~, you are Mister / Missus Fuzzy Wuzzy Fluffles!"...something like that. Thank Goodness for your sterner mean and a streak for teasing people.

"Aww~, what's wrong?" you exaggerate in an overly solicitous tone. "What's that! A villager fell down the well, you say?!"

Of course, when your throwing around sarcasm like it is going out of style, even an intelligent being who cannot understand you will take notice. Our Canis lupus lupus makes a noise akin to a flabbergasted gasp of confusion at your aghast expression, cocking his or her head to the way side, as question marks seemingly appear in thin air above him or her.

"Lead the way, girl!"

Clearly, she was still waiting for you to pick up the "phone" per say.

"C'MON! C'MON! BUST-AH WOLF!"

The questions marks are multiplying. If you were not out of snarky witticisms, you would have kept going just to see how many you could make, but alas, you are all out of wit. Your fun had, summarily, you compose yourself before answering your handy-dandy spiritual "phone", causing an immediate transformation in the individual on the other line. Surprise, surprise, guess who it was---your favorite lupine cousin of sorts Amaterasu no Kagura.

"Hweeehhh-aru?" she stares at you---dumbly. Yes, dumbly. Funny how you can read her expressions much better now. This spiritual communing thing is something special, ain't it?

"Yo," you offer a cool greeting, which causes the latter to brighten immediately with a smart bark.

"Gin-chan~!"

"Hey."

"Gin-chan~!"

"Sup."

"Gin-chan~!"

"Oi."

"Gin-chan~!"

"Well..."

""Gin-"

"WILL YOU CUT THAT OUT?!" you roar spastically, breaking out in a cold sweat. Like what the hell? How could the witty, cool you get sucked into a totally lame endless loop like that?! So not cool.

Kagura, though, is unrepentant utterly of the uncool dastardly trick she sprung on you spontaneously. In fact, she seems to be doing the wolfen equivalent of a pout, making an oddly pitiable throaty moan that could have different connotations coming from a human. It is fortunate she manages to hit to the correct note or things could have gotten a lot more awkward---fast.

"Awww, but it was getting fun-aru."

"Don't be stupid, stupid! It's not like we're k-kids!"

The wolf goddess laughs, "B-But, tee hee hee, Silly Gin-chan, you are just a pup. Less than even a full moon old-aru!"

You flush red at the damning truth and feel the need to change the subject like...

"That's right, I'm an inexperienced runt!" so you thump your chest proudly. "That's a truth I won't deny, but I have to ask you this, O Wise She-Wolf of the Sun: what's a responsible adult like you doing getting stuck in the brush like so?"

Kagura's laughter glitters more brightly than before, but when she makes to move, for actions surely speak louder than words, a queer thing happens.

"Eh? Eh. ...Hweeeeehhh?!"

It is so queer, in fact, you cannot help but sweatdrop at it. You were only presuming that she was entangled...

"Wha-wha? Why?! Hwwwwhaaaaaaaaa-aru!?"

...but for assumptions to become reality was not something your heart was prepared for. How frightening it is to witness the causality of the Laughing God, Ebisu! Frightening.

"G---G-Gin-chan~! HAAAAAALLLLLLLPPPPPppppp ME-aru~!"

Oh Fortunes, why did she have to start crying with those big golden "puppy dog" eyes...? Awkward. SO. BLOODY. Awkward! If it was an actual human female, it might not be as bad, but...having to drag a wolf with a flaming enchanted discus on her back out of an entangling thicket? A-W-K-W-A-R-D.

"I guess, it can't be helped. ...so troublesome."

No one better be getting this on tape for posterity.
>> No. 93389
File 125216973990.jpg - (70.60KB , 575x750 , 3529383.jpg ) [iqdb]
93389
---

BGM Load: "Like a dream come true", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

After much wrestling and manly effort, so is Amaterasu no Kagura freed from her predicament.

"Aaahh, that's our Gin-chan! You saved Kagura-de aru~!"

True, it was a small deed but to be appreciated nevertheless makes you feel happy, not that you would admit it aloud. Besides, your body language was doing plenty to express your emotions, judging by the unusual heat you feel on your cheeks. In a move of unexpected subtlety, so too does your cousin respond in kind, behaving almost like a house cat really as she rubs up against your legs in an affectionate manner.

Granted, unlike any mere earthly feline, her fine snow white fur is well beyond anything they could ever hope to attain in all qualities, showering your bare legs quite literally with feather light kisses. Suffice to say, the skinship is a little bit---TOO MUCH---for you. Not because of any manner of lewd stimulation mind you, but this---affection! Emotion that is so pure unfettered "Love"; it feels like---that big shining warm thingy in the sky---The Sun! It's---ohhhhh~ my goodness! TAIL. Feels. So. Good~...

Crap. Must snap out of this! You do not want to bring down any more shame by selling yourself short as some mere common pervert, who would turn into jelly at the slightest hint of any amount of "free love", and goodness gracious, Amaterasu no Kagura was a wolf, dammit! You two were not remotely of even the same species. She is just trying to be nice, not come on to you, so get your mind out of the gutter! Now, self-control: SWITCH. ON.

"Uh, H-HEY!" you blurt out in the spur of the moment, "since Kagura is apparently under a curse, and I'm also under a curse, maybe we could help each other out?!"

Alas, it's too late to take back what you said: a pseudo "nice" save, perhaps, but it was a stupid subject change, like stupid is, stupid does. What were you thinking assuming your cousin was cursed? Not to mention, it was a totally uncool way to broach the subject, too.

"Umm, what you say-aru?" Amaterasu no Kagura backs off a little bit awkwardly.

Dammit. Why did you have to say something like that? Now, you have no choice but to admit certain things aloud... Hopefully, she won't ask for details.

"Listen here, I'm not proud of it, but I got cursed the other day, alright?"

Her ears perk up at the word "Cursed" noticeably.

"Cursed? You?"

"Yes. Me. Cursed."

Then, the blessed carefree child of Lady Sun broke into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, rolling on the hardened earth with all the grace of a pig bathing in mud. You really should not be surprised, as you cannot imagine wolves having quite the same standards as humans on what constitutes propriety and good graces. It was pleasant nevertheless to meet a free spirit who was even more easygoing than you, but her reaction---isn't it a little inappropriate?

"Oi~, why are you laughing?" your delivery is top-notch deadpanned.

"Th-That's, ufu, our Gin-chan get, tee hee, getting into trouble on his first day all by his lonesome~, ufu fu fu!"

"This is pretty serious, y'know."

"Tee hee hee, Kagura's been cursed before, too, yup-yup! Gin-chan will be just fine-aru~."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah~!"
>> No. 93390
Being cursed on previous occasions does not seem like an achievement you should be proud of, if anything, it spoke volumes of your lack of cunning to fall for such a dastardly trick.

"Your optimism is great and all, but that doesn't really help me."

"Did you tell that Miko-san you live with? She should know best."

"She's mad at me, genius."

Again, Kagura giggles with mirth, which sounds rather odd coming from a wolf for the actual effect is closer to wheezing repeatedly.

"Ufu fu fu fu! Humans are so fun, aren't they, Gin-chan?"

"Fun? What's so fun about her being angry?" you reply incredulously. "This is my life on the line here and O-Reimu's my best bet right now for taking care of this curse before it gets worse."

"Well~, act~ually..."

You're kidding. What are the chances you would stumble on a lead so soon?

"Kagura knows a good human with a really, really good head! The female can even see the real Kagura! Funny, isn't it?"

"S-Seriously?"

"Yup~! But, what a waste the female is still too weak; she can't understand a word that Kagura says. Kagura thinks we could be better friends, even if she is a weak one of weak ones. Oh, but her head is smart and she's really, really nice! So she's not really a weak one, right?"

A weak one? Could that be her way of dubbing an individual pack member an "Omega"?

"So, so! You want to go meet her?" the white wolf rises off her haunches, tail wagging enthusiastically.

Try as you might, her good vibes are too much to resist, "Of course, lead the way!"

Together, you set off into the hilly woods at a crisp pace. The going is understandably much easier for your four-legged cousin, unburdened by anything save for her id. You would ask her to slow it down a notch, but your pride as a man (not a god, just a man) shoots down that plea bargain in a heartbeat. So you bite the bullet and try your best to negotiate the difficult inclined terrain wrought with uneven earth, rocks, and gnarly roots, while powering through scattered lines of foliage.

It is not a particular graceful movement, compared to Amaterasu no Kagura who is evidently at home in nature. If you were in need of improving your footwork through the woods, perhaps it would be best to ask her for lessons in the future. For now, a curious thing occurs as she suddenly comes to a stop. Her noble head rises up pointing that black nose into the humid summer air amidst the chirp of cicadas and Nature's song.

Sniff-sniff!

The she-wolf gives a muted yelp, her tone joyous. She turns to favor you with a lupine grin.

"Hey, hey, Gin-chan, Kagura smells something fun-aru! Wanna go take a looksie? It's just a little detour, tee hee hee. Kagura's nose is never wrong when it's about food and adventure~!"

Ho boy, how whimsical of your cousin. Just as expected, huh? You think have enough supplies for a detour, but what distance that might constitute a "little" to her might actually be "a lot" in human terms.

Sigh.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Accept: Humor your august cousin and follow her along for this little detour.
[] Decline: You would rather meet this "Smart" human female before the day is done.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 93391
>"Of course, lead the way!"
Such a large decision you're making for us.

[x] ??????

Simply because I expect something interesting.
>> No. 93393
[x] Accept: Humor your august cousin and follow her along for this little detour.

Grindan gaems
>> No. 93396
[x] Decline: You would rather meet this "Smart" human female before the day is done.
>> No. 93587
[x] Decline: You would rather meet this "Smart" human female before the day is done.

Rather not pass out from exhaustion thanks
>> No. 93599
ADMIN:

Well, ample time has been given for votes. Now, commencin' with writin'.
>> No. 93668
File 125238811430.jpg - (121.42KB , 800x466 , 800px-StreamNorthBay.jpg ) [iqdb]
93668
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Decline: You would rather meet this "Smart" human female before the day is done.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Like a dream come true", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Glancing up at the bright sweltering sun, you make an educated assessment of the situation. For starters, you are not terribly well acclimated to the climate by your best reckoning, nor have you prepared yourself for a rigorous journey through all this deceptively hazardous country. To make matters worse, in an effort to keep pace with Amaterasu no Kagura, you have not paid much attention to memorizing your trail, making yourself lost in the hills effectively. If your cousin had been a less magnanimous person, you would be in quite dire straits indeed.

"Thanks, Kagura-kun, but no thanks," you reply dryly, wiping the beading sheet of sweat from your brow. "I'd rather meet this 'Smart' human of yours before the day is done."

The august she-wolf pouts at you, making a sulky whine of disappointment. A childish response, perhaps, but you are struck more by how expressive and decidedly human-ish your cousin is, despite whatever perceived handicaps you presumed she had. Amaterasu no Kagura seemed to get by just fine on body language and tone.

"Awww, oh fine... There's always another day for a hunt-aru~," she beams with a bright bark, already over the setback.

Fast. You have to admit you sort of envy her ability to just bounce back on the fly. It's really "Cool", yeah?

The side matter settled, the two of you continue on your trek...

---

BGM Load: "How Do You Do?", Riei Saito - Fragile ~Sayanora Tsuki no Haikyo~ OST

---

You do not want to admit it, but damn is this ridiculous! Now, you begin to see why THAT Amaterasu blessed Her children with the manifestation of the wolf. It was not stupid. It was SMART. You are not sure just how far you two have gone, but by the Fortunes are you tired! The same cannot be said at all for your cousin who was still as chipper as always, forging ahead with the same energy and enthusiasm as she did when you first began the trek. Her superior fortitude you had to give her and her locomotion was by far much more efficient than your own.

Of course, you could argue that she had a whole lot more divine "Perks" than you did, which would explain her inexhaustible fortitude. Still, logically, humans have accustomed themselves to living in civilization, and though your mortal body is stronger than the average man, you are far from being a true woodsman with the training, discipline, or knowledge to be at home here in nature. This place is as alien to you as it would be to any run of the mill villager. If it were not for the strength of your bonds, you imagine you would have just quit, instead of doggedly following your cousin all this way.

"Ah-ha~, do your hear that now, Gin-chan? We're close!" Kagura barks as the slope declines and the sound of rushing water reaches your ears.

About damn time! How many bamboo water flasks have you gone through? You swear, you started with five, and you only have three---GULG-GLUG!---scratch that....two left that are filled. Fortunes, you are hungry, too. How did your nice stroll turn into a forced march going up hills and straight through virgin green country? Oh, that's right you got all enthusiastic because you jumped at the chance to follow up on a possible lead to taking care of your curse.

Sigh.

The travails of---

Crack.
>> No. 93669
File 125238824446.jpg - (655.11KB , 1000x754 , d59898623c51307f13b1d01f067325ea.jpg ) [iqdb]
93669
Suddenly, a blunder strikes, ripping a mighty oath from your lips, as you go tumbling forwards, downhill, all thanks to an unruly piece of damp moss. Down, down, you tumble, the world a flash of vertigo and colors in green, blue, and brown. You seem to just about hit every bump and root on the way, adding to the crescendo of pained confusion, until at last all explodes in a singular violent climax.

SPLASH!

Gag reflex or some other lizard instinct ingrained into the base of your brain drives you to push yourself out of the water, which as it turns out is quite shallow, and you have only landed with your upper body in it, mercifully enough. Flush with adrenaline to fight off your fresh collection of aches and pains, you gather a quick survey of your surroundings. It is a secluded creek to which you have landed on the banks of and to your right you can spot a small waterfall wherefore-

"A-Anou...excuse me, but are you unhurt, sir?" a hesitant cultured voice interrupts you.

You turn to zero in on the owner.

"!"

Suffice to say, she is just as surprised to see you as you are to see her. It is a young girl, a year or two O-Reimu's junior by your reckoning, though that number could be way off due to the prodigious folds of her elaborate kimono. Fortunes, it must be hot as hell underneath that faux "juunihitoe" style outfit she has on, with yellow flower print sleeves, her green vest, and that pleated burgundy skirt.

More importantly, she was a human girl. Rather odd you would find one dressed as such this far away from civilization; her attire was not convivial to the weather or the terrain at all, either. What was even more worrying were the simple questions of: how did she get here? What was such a meek, childlike girl doing all the way out here? And who was she? Some minor noble's daugh-

AAAAAAAROOOOOOOOOOOOUuuuuuuuuuuuuuu~!

A spectacular splash soon followed that exuberant howl; guess someone else thought your "Dynamic Tumble" was too much fun not to try out herself. The thing is, did she have to land exactly dead center into the body of creek, offset only by fifteen strides away from you. Sure, you are not soaked but you got a lot more water splashed on you to reduce your au naturel Nice Guy perm to wet dog.

At least none of the water got on the girl; that would have been bad (and UN-cool).

"Ah. Shi-Shiranui-dono?" she speaks in astonishment, hands moving to cover her gaping mouth. Definitely, it was not the sort of delicacy you would expect from a peasant girl.

Who the hell was this kid? And violet colored hair... Seriously, was she the "Smart" human female your cousin brought you all this way just to meet?

Kagura emerges from the spray and froth a moment later, with a big yelp, happy as can be. She "wolf paddles" swiftly to join your awkward company on the bank, and thankfully, has the sense not to shake herself down like a common beast. Instead, the flaming discus on her back (which somehow escaped being soaked) blazes up some, the heat evaporating the water in a flash of steam.

You would be impressed if it were not for the fact that your hair and her fur now both sport a totally retro "AFRO" look.

"Uwah! G-Gin-chan, tee-hehehehe, wha-wha hap-pened, kya-haha, to you?"

Says the idiot who happened to you in the first place!

At that point, you would have been happy to engage in an impromptu comedy routine with the divine she-wolf, no matter how strange it might look to see a man carrying on a lively, dramatic conversation with a lord of the forest. The latter is not supposed to be fluent in human tongues, but hey, you both are walking afros, so it would be safe to assume you have the combined IQs of a delinquent thug from Cromartie High School. Aye, an epic battle of tongues and wits it would have been too if Kagura was not suddenly tackle-glomped by an airborne blur of violet and yellow, to which the august wolf was evidently happy to receive.

"Ah, Shiranui! Soft, feathery, cuddly, uu~! Akyu's missed you so much, uu~uu!"

Damn. So much for all that meekness you thought you saw earlier; this kid can be pretty bold and spontaneous, too. But man, all that cuddling...and giggling. Talk about awkward. It feels like you are sitting in at a private moment between an owner and her beloved pet.

Sigh.

Oh, the travails of your youth.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Ask permission to join in on the free love, too.
[] Enough tomfoolery. Can we please act like reasonable little adults here?
[] Leave 'em alone. They'll holler when they're done. Go find some shade nearby---(ouchies alert!)---and chill out.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 93671
[x] Leave 'em alone. They'll holler when they're done. Go find some shade nearby---(ouchies alert!)---and chill out.

>[] Ask permission to join in on the free love, too.
As hilarious as just jumping over and hugging them would be, we are not a cuddly animal. First impressions and what not. Even though I really want to~
>> No. 93679
[x] Leave 'em alone. They'll holler when they're done. Go find some shade nearby---(ouchies alert!)---and chill out.
>> No. 93709
[x] Leave 'em alone. They'll holler when they're done. Go find some shade nearby---(ouchies alert!)---and chill out.
>> No. 93823
File 125253306130.jpg - (172.99KB , 793x560 , 405109.jpg ) [iqdb]
93823
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Leave 'em alone. They'll holler when they're done. Go find some shade nearby---(ouchies alert!)---and chill out.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "youthful lunch", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Well, isn't that nice?

Sigh.

It is times like these that make you sort of regret being an overgrown manchild, instead of a kid. Making up an excuse to join that free fuzzy-wuzzy love cuddling session would have been a whole lot easier, or acting like tsundere... Oh, what the hell are you thinking?! UN-cool. Totally UN-cool!

The cool thing to do is swagger off all "Cool Guy" like off to find some "Cool" shade and wait for the ladies to come to you. Trying hard is not going to get you anywhere in this kind of situation, so be like water and all that cool stuff, and chill out. Shoot, there is some shade right there on this side of the bank next to the mini waterfall, and about darn time too because your hotblood is about to wear off.

Ooooowww...it stings!

Fortunes, are you accident prone or just cursed with misfortune? Is it even remotely possible that you can go one day without getting hurt or ruining a set of clothes completely? Geez, how troublesome; a quick scan of your augustness reveals a fresh new set of bruises beneath your yukata and a few cuts and scrapes on your exposed limbs. It is nothing major because sure enough your divinity was making easy work of healing your injuries. You imagine by noon or the end of the day you will be as if you never took the bad tumble in the first place, though it did not make the situation any easier to stomach.

Speaking of stomaching, you are bloody right famished! Time to see if your inventory survived intact.

...

Oh, thank goodness, nothing in your pack has been harmed in the process of your unfortunate blunder. Eagerly, you unwrap the furoshiki cloth to reveal the glorious "three story" tall bentou prepared by the overly enthusiastic genius of one Honoo no Hosaka. You have no idea what he was thinking when he made these, but there was enough here to feed three people! Agh, you cannot decide which one to sample first.

Gro~wl.

To hell with aesthetics, you shall obey your stomach. Ooo, a full box of sushi: I-TA-DA-KI-MASU! Mmm, delicious; the sushi rice has been prepared quite entertainingly, too. See, some portions are sour, sweet, salted, or have a dash of kombu to bring out a peculiar savoriness that complements the attached topping, be it fish to the mundane such as tamagoyaki, producing a true delicacy. Magnificent; you swear to pass along your praise to the chef the moment you return to the shrine once more.

Alas, your delightful revelation does not go unnoticed for long.

"Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii..."

It need not be said that Amaterasu no Kagura's hungry gaze had all the subtlety of a smithy's hammer smashing an egg. Regretfully, so were you forced to tear yourself away and address the two interlopers intruding upon your happy space.

"Ah, Shi-Shiranui-san, you must not stare like that. It is, um, unbecoming of a lady."

So said one little Akyuu to the white afro furball; dang, was she a good girl or what? Her words carried a definite polite, cultured flair, telling of a higher upbringing that contrasted sharply with her childish outburst from a moment ago. An interesting kid and a humorously naive one at that, too, for whoever heard or thought to teach a lord of the forest the customs of humans?

"Oh, o~kay..." Kagura obeyed with a sulky whine.

You blink. Hard. Holy crap. No. Friggin'. Way. Did your cousin just listen to what a slip of a human girl told her? Unbelievable.

Akyuu is pleased, evidently, giggling like a child her age ought to and forgetting altogether to bring up the sleeve of her kimono to cover her smiling lips, as would a proper noble lady. She bends down, not that she was much taller than your cousin, to whisper a conspiratory word in her ear for the she-wolf brightens instantly with a bark and nuzzles the girl on her cheek. The sight brings up an odd warm and fuzzy feeling in yourself, watching these two get along so well, despite being virtually worlds apart.

Friends, huh? Ah, it appears they have settled things, and the Akyuu girl is taking the lead on this one.

"O-Kage-sama, forgive us for asking an unreasonable thing of you, but may we join you in your meal?"

Ehhhhh? "O-Kage-sama"? As in literally...Great Shadow Lord? Why was she addressing you like that?

"A feast, a feast, Gin-chan! C'mon, c'mon, it'll be more fun," Kagura adds in her support, too, with an enthusiastic bark.
>> No. 93824
File 12525332551.jpg - (92.39KB , 400x408 , 3058713.jpg ) [iqdb]
93824
Though between these two cute "kids", you cannot help but have a darkly humorous thought that you were being pressured, more or less, by social norms to let them join you in your meal.

"Of course, I offer my meal as well, though it is not as grand yours, sama. Let it not be said that the Hieda are wanting guests."

...uh, wow. This girl has a way with words all right, not that you had any plans to reject her in the first place. After all, she must be the one you came all this way just to meet. ...but being addressed as "sama" by a perfect stranger, who knew next to nothing about you felt awfully strange. Just addressing you with "-san" would have been acceptable, considering the informal setting and the fact Akyuu should not know of your true identity, so why was it she was going so far out of the way to be---polite? Strange. Very strange.

"Yare, yare, then that would make me a bad host, if I refused a little lady and her she-wolf, wouldn't it?" you grouse dryly at the pair.

Your boldness is shocking to the violet-haired girl, who flushes at such a---frank---statement. Her poise shatters and once more does the child within emerge, including...a curious transformation.

"Uu~, mou, you've got it wrong! Shiranui is Akyuu's friend. Akyuu would never try to collar her, uu~!"

Her hair. Did she just turn into a brunette spontaneously?

"Right, Shiranui?"

"Yeah! Best friends-aru!"

Man, you must be seeing and hearing things. Crap. Gotta calm down. Remember: be cool and take it easy.

"In that case, come on over. There's plenty for everyone; let it not be said that Yorozuya no Gintoki is a stingy bastard, eh?"

---

As expected, there was plenty for all, though it was mostly your cousin doing the eating. Hosaka had been thoughtful to include extra chopsticks, too. You really had to hand it to the fire kami, since they could be used thus to politely sample from all of his tasty culinary creations and Akyuu's smaller but no less delicious offering. Sure, it was a bit odd to be eating brunch so soon, not that you had an exact reckoning of the time, but after your exertions, you felt more than justified for the indulgence.

The girl, understandably, ate a lot less than either yourself or your cousin. It is too bad that this genial silence won't last forever and someone going to start asking questions. To exacerbate the problem, both you and Akyuu are playing the customary "polite" waiting game. Yeah, awkward much?

...but what was really weirding you out was the fact that the entire time you all have been eating, the (now) violet-haired girl has been sneaking looks at you. Normally, not a bad thing, but see---she is not looking at you; she is looking at something BEHIND you. Creep~y...

"Etou, I must apologize, O-Kage-sama. Forgive me for thinking badly of you earlier."

Ah, she broke the ice first! ...wait, again with the "O-Kage-sama"? Come on, there is not any meaning to giving someone your name if they are not going to use it. ...Still, earlier? Oh, Akyuu must mean when she first called out to you on the bank. You must have looked like some villainous bastard to her, instead of a good acquaintance of sorts to your cousin. It was an understandable misunderstanding since the two of you looked nothing alike, after all.

"Heh, don't fret, water under the bridge and all that, little miss. 'sides, what kind of a Natural Nice Guy would I be if I offered someone food and still stayed angry at them, y'know?" you pause, smiling slyly, "...unless I really was a youkai fattening you up for desert, heh-heh-heh."

The effect is sudden and pronounced, as you bear the full devastating brunt of two puppy dog eyes pouring out tears like waterfalls. Yes, even your ravenous cousin has taken pause from her meal to stare at you with unspeakable betrayal and horror.

"Uuuuu~...!"

Gah, such a terrible sound!

"Oi, oi! It was a joke! A joke I tell you! Hey, hey, those kicked puppy looks hurt, y'know. Gimmie a break, you two; don't look at me like I'm the bad guy---HEY, when did Gin-chan turn into the bad guy here?! LIES. I tell you. ALL LIES. It's the media! A shogunate conspiracy against the common man! LIES!"

Gah, what the hell is with this sitcom situation all of a sudden? This mood. This atmosphere! Was it all just as planned by the Laughing God, your eternal archnemesis? Damn you, Ebisu!

So what shall you do now?

Choose...

[] Stop! I'm turning over the cheeseboard: let's begin with self-introductions, again. That's good, right, everyone?
[] Timely interjection!
[] ??????

If "Timely Interjection", choose one...

[] Akyuu-kyun, what are you moe kyun-kyun looking at, huh? Gin-chan wants to know is what!
[] Oh, Hieda-san, to what circumstance did your relationship begin with my cousin? SCANDALOUS.
[] Hello, hello, Akyuu-kyuu, but what are you doing out here?
[] Yeah~, so... Who are you, Hieda-san? Pardon me, if your clothes and manners don't exactly scream commoner.
[] How troublesome, the mood's all messed up, and I can't think of anything serious to ask now. So! We're going to study THIS BOOK <The Gentleman's Way>, instead.

---
>> No. 93838
[x] Timely interjection
-[x] Yeah~, so... Who are you exactly, Hieda-san? Pardon me, if your clothes and manners don't exactly scream commoner.
>> No. 93856
[x] Timely interjection
-[x] Yeah~, so... Who are you exactly, Hieda-san? Pardon me, if your clothes and manners don't exactly scream commoner.
>> No. 93862
[x] Timely interjection
-[x] Yeah~, so... Who are you exactly, Hieda-san? Pardon me, if your clothes and manners don't exactly scream commoner.
>> No. 93922
File 125262741970.jpg - (249.36KB , 521x656 , 168d990246c867fe7707471d87dee1bb.jpg ) [iqdb]
93922
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Timely interjection!
-[X] Yeah~, so... Who are you, Hieda-san? Pardon me, if your clothes and manners don't exactly scream commoner.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "youthful lunch", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

This pressure! Are you turning into a esper or one of those New-kind of-Type things? UOOOooohhh! A crisis or could this be the beginning of an opportunity? If so, then it could not be helped for a cool guy can never pass up a chance to learn a few more juicy tidbits that might just help him out of a jam. Why swing a sword when the word can be as mighty, not to much appropriate for most occasions?

But first you have to take back the wheel of this runaway boat, and what better way to get momentum then to clear your throat in the manliest cool way possible?

"A-EH-[i[hem[/i]~!"

"Cool" it appears can even silence the waterworks for both wolf and girl's tears dried up, though they were still favoring you with that kicked puppy eyed look. In a way, things have sort of become more intense because they both have question marks and dark squiggly lines floating above their heads. Talk about a heavy atmosphere.

However: for a Cool Nice Guy, this is nothing!

"Yeah~, so..." you continue all savvy-like a devil's eye, "who are you, Hieda-san? Pardon me, if your clothes and manners don't exactly scream---commoner."

Instantaneously, the questions disappeared and turned into exclamation marks instead. Akyuu gave a flustered gasp, while your cousin gave a defeated teary whine. These two fellows---it almost feels like they are reflecting the inner emotions of each other. What a thing!

"Uu~, no way!" the violet-haired girl protests, brandishing a fiercely earnest look. "Akyuu tried really hard this time to find the oldest, cheapest kimono she had. O-Kage-sama, you're being mean on purpose, aren't you?"

AGHhhhhhhhhh!? REVERSAL (though if that outfit really is the oldest, shabby thing she owned, then it was all but confirmed that she was a noble or the daughter of some filthy nouveau riche merchant who bought his or her family a title). How could this be?!

"Yeah, yeah, that's right-aru! Gin-chan's being a meanie," your cousin adds her firm yelp to the totally off-base accusation.

"Agh, you two, calm down, o-kay?" you flinch, feeling the heat of their looks. "Gin-chan admits he likes to tease people, but he doesn't mean anything bad about it. Honest!"

"Re~ally?"

"Really."

"Really, really-aru~?"

"HAI de gozaru, is what I say!"

Though you have to think: what kind of sad joke is this? Is it not you who is being teased and bullied here?! Ah, woe is you. How ironic; you finally understand the pain of those who have been at the receiving end of your sharp tongue, and these two little angels---well, one angel and a puppy---with the hearts of devils are totally doing a number on you.

DESPAIR! Your weakness has left you in DESPAIR!

"Very well then, I forgive your transgression this time," says Akyuu, suddenly the picture perfect little woman.

"Wooooo~de aru!" your cousin cheers to with a howl.

Ah, they are such good kids! ...wait, why are you being suckered back in like this so quickly? Dammit, it cannot be helped. Grit your teeth and bear with it...though it's certainly a strange way to make an acquaintance.

"Congratulations, O-Kage-sama."

Huh, for what?

"I approve of you as Shiranui's caretaker."

"Yeah~, isn't that great, Gin-chan?"

WOT HAST THOU SAY?! ...Devils. These two are DEVILS!

"Oh, yes, to answer your question..."

Ah-ha, at long last, what you have been waiting to hear!

"Akyuu is Akyuu, ne?"

...Yes?

---

In the end, you could not get any answers out of "Hieda no Akyuu". Her highborn silver tongue too glib and the defenses of her seemingly innocent childish charm too great, a fortress impenetrable as the person you are now. Still, the experience was not a complete waste of time, for at least you felt you made a sort of favorable impression on her, as you and your cousin were strung along to her fancy and whim. Heck, it was actually pretty fun, for she soon suggested some entertainment---so you provided the Neo-Victorian manners book and started some improvised roleplaying right there.

It is getting late and so the time for parting has come...
>> No. 93923
---

SYSTEM MSG: Perhaps, you shall meet her Ladyship of the Hieda again another time, and who knows mayhap you are also on the verge of establishing a palpable bond with your cousin, Amaterasu no Kagura?

Gain... + 2 Pts of Diligence.

A fascinating read this Gentleman's Way but you require some more time and effort to study before you have the basics down. Keep at it.

Current Phase: Evening - Cloudy - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Heartbreak, Heartbreak", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Evening fell. Thankfully, your cousin was kind enough to give you a ride back to the road where you met earlier this day. You scoffed at the offer at first, but when she promptly doubled in size, you thought better. Naturally then you became concerned with how the Hieda was going to find her own way back to the Kabuki-chou, only to discover that the little girl was already long gone. Searched for her you would have had Kagura not assured you that Akyuu would be just fine.

See, she snuck out to this secluded stream in the first place with the help of friends. They are very good staying out of sight and out of mind, so it was better that you two not mess things up by involving yourselves unnecessarily. Suffice to say, your intrigue with the little miss grew another notch. Shame you could not contemplate the mysteries of your encounter further because your cousin's idea of express travel involved leaping hundreds of feet into the night sky, shadowed by the moon, from hillside to hillside, forcing you to hold on for dear life!

Mercifully, you managed to not lose your lunch or control of your bowels, and as with all trials, it came to end, eventually, landing spot on with a hitch.

"Ah, so much fun-aru!" your cousin beams, "that's the way you end a day, fu fu fu!"

Your enthusiasm is directed understandably in a different venture, namely trying to dismount off her snowy furred back without slipping and falling on your back. Heck, do not even start with how you are going to keep your balance. Your knees just won't stop shaking.

"See, Gin-chan! Didn't I say she had a really good head on her shoulders?"

"Oi, your voice is too loud," you wince, bending over to clamp down on your knees in the hopes of stilling them. Ah, could you have been traumatized by this experience?! "Can't you turn back to your normal size again?"

"Oh, sorry~," her cheerfulness is infallible, evidently, and sure enough, your cousins shrinks with a slightly theatrical puff of smoke. "Ta dah~! Cool isn't it?"

"Yeah, yeah...but that girl---she's a little bit too good," you grouse. "I couldn't get any of my questions answered at all."

"Well, it takes time to get close to people, Gin-chan~aru."

Heh, and the opposite was true in screwing up relationships, was it not? Man, every day seems to reveal new lessons for you to learn, not that it was too bad of a thing. You could not complain for a lack of excitement. The day was done but there was still some time left to do a few things this evening.

Thus, it was high time to give one last parting...

Strange, Kagura seems less than her augustness, fatigued really. Her snow white fur looked dull, the red markings in her fur have receded, and the flame of the discus floating upon her back did not blaze as brightly. A first you did not notice before and not until this very moment. What with all the excitement of falling from the sky repeatedly from unholy heights and leaps, meeting her only in the daytime, no way you could have noticed in the first place. Could it be that your cousin's power ebbs and flows with Lady Sun's movements through the day? Had she pushed herself unnecessarily just to get you home? Tsk, man, how troublesome.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?
[] Say your farewells and be on your way. She is a big girl and can take care of herself. Unlike you, your cousin does not have a "Deadline" hanging over her head. ...But, hey, maybe we'll go have that little adventure another day, huh?
[] ??????

---
>> No. 93929
File 125263352915.jpg - (96.27KB , 450x500 , e4a8d4276e6201a188b2f06991b2e3f3.jpg ) [iqdb]
93929
[x] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?

I want to see Reimu's reaction upon seeing Kagura.
>> No. 93939
[x] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?

Letting a minor god snooze at your shrine isn't a bad move at all.
>> No. 93940
[x] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?
>> No. 93942
File 125264155042.png - (354.43KB , 550x550 , ami reimu.png ) [iqdb]
93942
Are you a bad enough kami-sama to build your own pantheon?

Argue that Moriya has (count 'em) five residents gods dwelling on their mountain, and Reimu will quickly see the wisdom of this endeavor.
>> No. 93943
[x] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?
>> No. 93945
[x] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?
>> No. 94006
ADMIN:

Votes received. Update is on the way. ETA Sunday or Monday, U.S. Eastern Time.
>> No. 94090
>>94006

hooray!
>> No. 94255
File 125299468380.gif - (32.65KB , 300x300 , 4622549.gif ) [iqdb]
94255
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Offer Amaterasu no Kagura shelter on the land of Hakurei for the night. It's the proper thing to do, and it won't step on anyone's toes too badly, right?

Current Phase: Evening - Cloudy - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Heartbreak, Heartbreak", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

How troublesome, but it would be very cool guy or nice guy-ish to just ditch your cousin to the mercy of mother nature, whom to your last reckoning was not terribly kind. 'sides, it looked like it was going to rain this night, judging by those clouds, and you know first hand that feral youkai do not take kindly to anyone, period. So, you were going to do the decent thing because you suspect your cousin would do the same for you, not to mention she was a lot less sketchy compared to everyone else in the pantheon.

"Kagura-san," you announce in all seriousness, "you're staying here tonight."

Suffice to say, it was a bit out of the blue, considering no one had even broached the subject yet, and things seemed to be winding down to a good ol' farewell. Therefore, Amaterasu no Kagura freaked out with a big exclamation mark popping over her head that comes within an inch of walloping you in the face.

"HWEEEeeeeehh! So s-suddenly!? W-Why?! Does Kagura even get a say in this-aru?"

You push aside the metaphorical manifest surprise with your hand, holding your composure admirably so.

"You were going to ask."

Your cousin gives a whine of protest, her eyes oddly enough beginning to water. Was it really that embarrassing? Then again, it was embarrassing for you when someone could read you like an open book.

"N-No way. Kagura's a big wolf!"

"Stu-pid, would it kill you to be honest when you should be honest? I wouldn't think so. You don't seem to have a problem doing it normally, so why the big fuss now? Besides, I owe you, remember?"

Such a rationale is hard to beat even on principle, a fact your cousin acknowledges clearly as the she-wolf lowers her head sulkily with a groan.

"You got a point here, Gin-chan."

"Hey, I'm not making any guarantees you'll be able to sleep in the shrine, okay? But! At least, you can sleep somewhere nearby where the kami can keep you company."

"B-But! Isn't it the Nihon way to refuse twice and accept on the third-aru?"

Oh, the little rascal wants to play hardball, huh? Well, you can do that too...

"Tsk, if you're going to insist being difficult about this," you sigh, with a hapless shrug, "then I guess, I have no choice but to enjoy my feast tonight on my own."

Her reaction was textbook hook-line-and-sinker.

"Oh, oh! I accept! Kagura wants to be in your house guest! Take me! Take me!"

Guess your cousin could not hold back against the basic necessities free of charge after all, then again, few would refuse such hospitality from a trustworthy acquaintance. However, it was still too soon to go congratulating yourself on paying back that mountain's worth of debts you have accrued in such a short while of just living. You have only sold half of the deed. The tricky part was about to come next, probably, knowing your luck with the Laughing God.

"Oi, stop gabbing about your stomach for a second," you say offhandedly as the red torii of Hakurei Shrine comes into view.

"Hweeehhh? But, Kagura's stomach is one of her proudest parts-aru," your cousin protests with a whine, clearly missing the solemn atmosphere altogether.

"Don't be stupid, stupid. Learn to read the feeling a bit better, won't you? We're about to step into my honored landlady's shrine, and if there's one thing I've learned, good manners and customs are just about everything in Gensokyo."

"Hoooo, is that so?"

"Geez, are you being slow on purpose?"

"Yes~! Serious, mature Ginpachi-sensei is so much to work up-aru!"

What a thing to say! Ginpachi-sensei?! That's you? Aghhhhhhh, it doesn't sound cool at all. Whyyyyyyyy?!

"So, it was intentional."

"Kagura lied, hu hu hu."

...This gal. Is a little bit dangerous, huh? This roundabout conversation is sort of beginning to get on your nerves...sorta. After all, she could not be planning to run this sitcom situation all evening long with the two of you standing right at the threshold to the shrine, could she? Impossible.

"Gin-chan."

"Yeah?"

"Wanna use Kagura as a pillow tonight, hu hu hu? You should know I, this great Amaterasu no Kagura-sama, has been praised to have one of the top ten furs in all the heavens~de aru!"

Hey, hey, isn't this kind of rubbish talk grounds for sexual harassment? She is really jerking around your chain now, pun intended. ...the irony just keeps flowing non-stop today, doesn't it?

"Sorry, but I'll have to refuse on your offer to corrupt me over to the dark side of fetishisms. Wouldn't want my soon to be followers and parishioners to get the wrong idea about their god is what I'd say to be cool, but really...O-Reimu would have me by the balls in a heartbeat."

"Uwaaaaaa~, you two are already that far? A nice relationship~! Ahh, Kagura's a little en-vi-ous~aru."

"Hey, hey, please, don't misunderstand by presuming the messed up figment of your wild imagination to be true. That girl---woman has a hard-boiled personality unlike any other I've met to date. In fact, I'm more scared of HER than anyone else."

"Oh, really-really? What's it like?"

"Sorry, but the immature, unlearned me of today has yet to acquire the wit to describe it with due justice."

"Ho-ho~de aru."

"Anyways, follow me. I'll introduce you to the kami-"
>> No. 94256
File 125299489226.jpg - (235.02KB , 1300x1000 , ff67fafe6a74a0f66d85620c7a13ba78.jpg ) [iqdb]
94256
You never did quite finish what you were saying because when you felt your feet root themselves to the spot, so did you jaw cease to jibber-jabber. An awesome grip, colder than steel, had seized you by the spine and robbed the courage straight from your heart in one go. Aye, not even your cousin was immune to the effects of this presence, flopping ungracefully to the ground as she had been caught while in mid-stride. It appears locomoting on four legs has its own pitfalls, eh?

More importantly...

"What's this? Back so soon already, I see. And is that a souvenir you've brought with you?" a disdainful voice drawls out in an acid tone. "...If this is your idea of a joke, Yorozuya no Gintoki, it's a poor one. I don't know whether to praise you or chastise you for not---running away. You. Are a real idiot, you know that?"

---

BGM Load: "Who's there?", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Crap, the most troubling, dangerous person had to appear right now, didn't she? Didn't she! You reckoned your proposition was going to be a hard sell, but to see Hakurei no Reimu the girl, the myth, the legend in the flesh, sitting there on the porch of the ryouka, with a cup of tea in her hand, made the enormity of your task all the worse. The Red and White radiated an awesome, terrible presence you had not felt since your first encounter, like a tigress---nay---a vengeful arbiter poised to pass one final condemnation, and this night it was far more powerful than ever before.

Damn. You took this undertaking, perhaps, a little too lightly.

"Ah, can't talk right now, can you? Sorry, I forgot kids scare easy and I need to hold back myself."

The "gravity" eased up, just a touch, earning a whine from your cousin, who seemed to regain the ability to verbalize herself and move her head about, which was the same situation for you. Running, unfortunately, was not an option anymore now that you had been caught by the Hakurei, not that you had any intention of sneaking your way past her like some delinquent trying hide his misdeeds. Admittedly, life would have been simpler had this confrontation never taken place.

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself, Gintoki?" Reimu asks you in an ordinary tone of voice that had all the subtlety of a brandished katana. "Of course, it's fine if you say nothing at all.

Even sitting down just some tens of strides away from you, it felt like she was looming over the both of you, a great imposing shadow. As expected of the Fated Shrine Maiden, huh? Dang, you wish there were some lanterns or something up right now, so you could read her expression properly. The shrine; it felt so dark and quiet. Where was everyone? Or had she planned this---ambush---from the start?

Tsk. How troublesome, but there is no better time than now to be cool, ain't that right? No attitude. Just be mature and to the point.

"Well, for starters, I wouldn't call HER a souvenir. O-Reimu meet my cousin, Amaterasu no Kagura."

The white she-wolf shoots you a pitiable, teary "WHY YOU DO THIS!?" look, instantly, at the attention being called to her now.

"Cousin, you say? Funny. I guess, all dogs do look alike."

Ouch. And...holy crap, did your cousin just get FATAL KO'd by that one slight? That pathetic gibbering whine does not sound too good, and oh dear me, is her soul trying to leave out of her body!?

"Oi, oi, she's weak to teasing, Miko-sama! Cut the newbie a little slack. Not everyone is as tough as me, when it comes to a war of words."

"Hmm."

"Anyways, the truth is, I got lost a bit on the road to life today. Tends to happen y'know when you there's someone out there up to no good, bound to show up uninvited, and brainwash you into their slave against your will... So! I tried to do something 'bout it. Didn't want to leave you to do all the heavy lifting, no offense O-Reimu, since you had enough to worry about, thanks to me."

"And where does this dog play into?"

"GYA! Again. A dog?! Uuuu~!" the soul of your cousin cries in anguish. You have to wonder if she has an image problem, perhaps? ...though you are not one to talk yourself either, considering you have a complex with your hair, amongst many other fallacies.

"Well, I met my cousin along the way. She said she knew a specialist. So I got introduced to some kid called Hieda no Akyuu: real smart. Rich girl. Probably a little crazy. Couldn't get a straight answer out of her, but I'll keep trying and look for other sources."

"Is that so?"

"A-yup."

"So why did you bring a dog to the Shrine? Last I remember, we weren't running an overnight animal shelter---unless you want me to euthanize her for a new coat... Or did you want a blanket, instead, Gintoki?"

Good Gods, and you thought the Baroness---ahem!---"Countess" Remilia Scarlet was bad. Hakurei no Reimu elevates the art of polite cruelty to a whole new level. Your cousin's poor spirit is writhing positively so in unspeakable torment.

"Well, she gave me a lift back to the Shrine, so-"

"No."

...ho boy.

"O-Rei-"

"No."

"But-"

"No."

"C'mon, consider-"

"No."

"S-Serious-"

"Yes."

Uh...UN-believable. H-How...heartless and unreasonable. A monster. Yes, she must be a monster shrine maiden that Hakurei no Reimu! And...and is she smiling? Talk about creepy. It's way too wide for a normal person. ...You're kidding. AAAAAAhhhhhhhh! A real YANDERE MIKO. Curse you, Ebisu! What have you done to our Red and White?
>> No. 94257
But really...you cannot help but sigh inwardly at the prompt and casual refusal by your honored landlady. Clearly, she had no interest well before you even began to explain, and you had underestimated her outrage by far, at least that was the impression you had. Just what was going on in that head of hers though, you wonder? The Hakurei struck you as a rather practical girl, so why would she be refusing a chance to have a god owe her a favor?

Strange.

"As you wish, O-Reimu, I'll-"

Then, an even stranger thing happened: the clouded sky turned open the "faucet" and let loose the rain. From a little drizzle to a right and proper shower within moments, it was a sure sign of an unpleasant evening for anyone having to hang around outside, a simple fact of life. The strange thing, though, was Reimu, snarling in a rather---grotesque "sound" (if you could call it such a thing) as she brought up a free hand, grabbing at her bosom, right where her heart ought to be, suddenly.

Her influence upon yourself and Kagura was released, too, adding to the growing mystery. A train of tumultuous thoughts made a fine mess in your mind in a heartbeat, as you bore silent witness, wanting to act, yet fascinated by intrigue. The Red and White had a literal white knuckled death grip evidenced by the tea cup in her occupied hand that you swear gave a little audible crack.

What was going on here? You did not think a girl like her could break cups with her bare hands---normally. So why here and now were you being given the privilege to see an even more abnormal thing about your shrine maiden? It was already bad enough with her eyes and hair being able to switch colors, an occurrence you wanted to pass off as a delusion on your part, but maybe you were not seeing things, after all.

Maybe. There was more to not just the Fated Shrine Maiden, but the Hakurei lineage than what meets the eye?

"O-Reimu," you call out to her, your voice surprisingly calm in spite of yourself, "hey, are you-"

"Go inside, and take the god with you. She can stay...this time."

She cut you off again, huh? Dang, this girl is real hard to win against... However, judging by the way she spoke, her word was not just a simple statement, but a command that left no room for discussion or argument.

Tsk.

Good cheer never tasted so bland.

---

Current Phase: Evening - Rain - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

---

Rain, huh?

Well, everything inside the Hakurei estate appeared to be just about business as usual. O-Reimu must have asked to be left alone in privacy was all. Still, sitting alone in your room, lit by a handful of mystical paper lanterns that emitted a soft silvery light, it is only natural you find yourself occupied with thoughts of the former.

Just what was that all about really, huh? Why the sudden change of heart? ...it made no sense.

If your cousin had not been abducted by a troop of the water kami children for an impromptu bath (something about inspecting for fleas and such), you would so be pestering her to gauge her reaction and mayhap gain some new insight into the mystery yourself. As it stands, you can do no such thing and will likely have to wait until after dinner, but just sitting around ruminating is not much your style at the moment either. After all, you ought to be using just about every opportunity you have to improve yourself, and if you wait that long, you might be too tired to care anymore.

Looking around your room, you contemplate what to do next...

What shall it be?

Choose...

[] Help prepare dinner. You might be able to start learning some cooking skills, and it might be a good avenue for a private one on one with your august cousin, without raising too many questions.
[] Go track down Tsuchi no Daiya. He ought to know what's been going on around the shrine today. Might help you figure some things out.
[] Phone Call? Come to think of it, you ought to get on the horn with Kid again. Take care of some serious business. He should know an important thing or two about O-Reimu, too, so that'd be knocking out two birds with one stone.
[] Man, you are stressing out over nothing. Why not relax to some more of that Neo-Victorian Manners business? Could help you to get along with that Hieda girl better in the future, among other things.
[] Call it a day. Eat. Bathe. Sleep. No more questions or hard stuff.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 94277
[x] Go track down Tsuchi no Daiya. He ought to know what's been going on around the shrine today. Might help you figure some things out.
[x] Man, you are stressing out over nothing. Why not relax to some more of that Neo-Victorian Manners business? Could help you to get along with that Hieda girl better in the future, among other things.

I think a local pair of eyes would know better than what's going on. She might have read that note.

Also reading that book would make for a nice activity before bed.

I'd thought she'd be honored to have a god sleeping at the shrine; then again it might be association to Gin; whom she's none too happy with.
>> No. 94290
[x] Go track down Tsuchi no Daiya. He ought to know what's been going on around the shrine today. Might help you figure some things out.
[x] Man, you are stressing out over nothing. Why not relax to some more of that Neo-Victorian Manners business? Could help you to get along with that Hieda girl better in the future, among other things.
>> No. 94297
[x] Call it a day. Eat. Bathe. Sleep. No more questions or hard stuff.
[x] ??????
>> No. 94298
[x] Go track down Tsuchi no Daiya. He ought to know what's been going on around the shrine today. Might help you figure some things out.
[x] Man, you are stressing out over nothing. Why not relax to some more of that Neo-Victorian Manners business? Could help you to get along with that Hieda girl better in the future, among other things.

>I'd thought she'd be honored to have a god sleeping at the shrine; then again it might be association to Gin; whom she's none too happy with.

Reimu only sees things in terms of potential trouble. It's possible she changed her mind because she thinks her decision was somehow connected to the sudden rains, and letting her stay suddenly became less trouble than kicking her out.

But Amaterasu is a sun goddess, so we may be able to rectify things by asking her for a favor. I suppose that wait for dinner conversation, though.
>> No. 94300
Eh fuck it
[x] Go track down Tsuchi no Daiya. He ought to know what's been going on around the shrine today. Might help you figure some things out.
[x] Man, you are stressing out over nothing. Why not relax to some more of that Neo-Victorian Manners business? Could help you to get along with that Hieda girl better in the future, among other things.

This seems like the best course of action considering that Reimu is inhumanly pissed off.
>> No. 94340
File 125307265240.jpg - (39.65KB , 342x348 , 3537251.jpg ) [iqdb]
94340
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Go track down Tsuchi no Daiya. He ought to know what's been going on around the shrine today. Might help you figure some things out.
[X] Man, you are stressing out over nothing. Why not relax to some more of that Neo-Victorian Manners business? Could help you to get along with that Hieda girl better in the future. Maybe.

Current Phase: Evening - Rain - Day 3 (7 / 3, Year 118)

---

The rain keeps a-pourin', going pitter-patter on the roof. It is kind of soothing, actually.

Ah, but you must not digress for the night will not stay young forever. A course of action you have in mind and so you shall begin by tracking down your trusty retainer of sorts. Technically, you have four but you have only met Tsuchi no Daiya so far in person, and you got to admit he seemed to be the most reliable and normal person in this household at present. Guess it is a nice bonus about being an earth kami, huh?

Peeking your head out of your room, you spot a pair of rascally earth kami children coming your way, sharing a hearty laugh with each other. If it were not for the impending doom and gloom, you might have joined them too, instead you beckon them over. The rascals clad in their brown kimonos eagerly scamper over, both boys, and stare up at you, with eyes so bright that you cannot help but be a little bit taken a back by the attention. Being put up that high on a pedestal sure can be a little unsettling, you realize.

"What's it, what's it, Oyakata-sama! What can we do for you?" they chorus together.

Well, no time like the present to earn your worth, huh?

"Hey, boys, can you go get Tsuchi no Daiya for me?" you ask casually. "I'd appreciate it, if you could."

"Anything for you, Oyakata-sama! We'll bring Daiya-san over here right now. Just watch!"

"Eh?"

Normal people would have run off or sent some kind of message but kami were not exactly ordinary human, so you should not have been too surprised when the two rascals faced inwards---and headbutted each other. Your jaw goes slack in gaping shock as the wrenching impact causes both of the boys to shatter, disintegrating completely into a mass of earth and rock with a gravity all to itself. The mass levitates under its own power too, crazily enough, and soon reforms and compacts itself into a new familiar shape, taking on the guise of a stone of clay state of the very person you sought in all of his perfect likeness down to his clothes.

His eyes open and the brown earthen palette gives way to flesh, blood, and cloth right before you.

"'ey there, boss! I heard from the little 'uns. What's up?" Daiya greets you with a big smile.

Clearly, he thought nothing of the bizarre phenomenon that just happened to make him exist here and now, thanks to using the combined mass of his two fellows.

"Awww, c'mon, danna. Shouldn't ya be as happy ta see me as I'm ta see you?"

"D-Daiya," you cannot help but stutter in disbelief, holding up a shaking finger, "wh-what. What did you---what happened..."

"Eh, eh? Ya losin' me here, boss. I never said I was the smartest tool in the shed, so ya gotta break it down easy for a 'ard-headed fella like me."

Taking deep breaths, you spend a moment to collect yourself before answering in all seriousness.

"Daiya-kun, try to put yourself in my shoes as I say this, as a man, not a god."

"Err, I'll try I guess."

"See, I was just talkin' to two of your little friends and they said they could get you for me."

"Right."

"So they look at each other and bash their brains in the father of all headbutts, fall apart into just dirt and rocks...and then I find you here."

"Oh, pardon me, but that explains why ya look spooked."

"Daiya, a normal person would be spooked to see someone be---born---on the spot, from dirt and rocks that belonged to two other people."

"Well, it's nice ta see ya care 'bout us, boss, but don't fret yerself silly over it. Those two are just fine. All we did was switch places. Perfectly, ordinary trick fer kami livin' in a big family together, yeah?"

You did not have much choice but to take the earth kami's word for it; goes to show just how human-ish you are compared to the rest of your kind, huh? You have a lot more to learn in the realm wyrd, but maybe it would be safer to start with something simple, like learning how to danmaku yourself.

"As long as nobody was hurt, I'm fine with it," you run up a hand to scratch at your scalp. "Step inside, man. I need a quick word with you."

Daiya nods and follows you in. Funny: now, you really feel like some super important daimyo, sitting down with his most trusted lieutenant to get a feel for what has happened in his castle while he was away. You pray nothing ill has come to pass.

"Anything happen while I was gone?"

The earth kami makes a face, crossing his arms over his burly chest in evident consternation.

"That's the problem. See, nothin' happened."

Nothing happened? How could that be a problem? Should not a peaceful day in your own home be a good thing?

"I told her 'bout your letter when she came back 'round noon. But after that---she didn't say say a word. Miko-sama just goes and locks herself away in the Inner Sanctum all day long. Didn't pause for lunch or even ta take a break, danna."
>> No. 94341
There was an "Inner Sanctum" in the Hakurei estate? Fancy that; you are learning new things all the time.

"The whole rest of the day? That can't be healthy."

"Nope," he nodded in sympathy.

You rub your chin thoughtfully. Secluding herself in a room, is it?

"Would explain why she was so pissed when I met her outside on the porch by the donation box."

Once again, a strange thing happened: Daiya gave you a funny look, wide-eyed and mouth agape. It was the sort of expression that screamed "Wait...WHAT YOU SAY?". Taking your cool new direction to heart though, you think better on calling him out for it and wait to see how things develop. You are not disappointed.

"...You met her?" says the burly boy breathlessly.

"Yeah, like outside about ten minutes ago," you answer him with a firm nod.

"...danna," he chews on his lip, "the Missus hasn't left the Inner Sanctum since she went in."

...EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?!

"With all due respect, either you were seein' things or Miko-sama has learned some new funky onmyoudou, but I can vouch she hasn't left. Kaze no Megumi is right in there wit' her, as we speak. Oh, an' before you ask, I can't talk 'bout the Inner Sanctum or what she's doin'. Gave her my word. We all did, boss. Sorry."

Well, crap; things just get muddier and muddier around here, don't they? Wait. Damn, could this be an effect of Koakuma's curse, too? Kid did warn you about---mental contamination.

Sigh.

So this is what it feels like to know the clock is ticking on you, huh? You can only wonder how much longer did you have before the fine line between the delusion and reality ceased to exist, but---that Reimu you met---she was just like the real thing, was she not? Why was she so angry? Then again, you are in no position to fault her for it, considering you are part of the major reasons.

Still, her cool spite struck you as unusual. Hakurei no Reimu, to your experience, was a raging inferno at her hottest and a simmering boil at her coolest. True, your day proved largely fruitless, but it was not like she was just giving you an instant handout to salvation either. To save---be it people or things takes time and effort in the real world. Events just do not go your way all at once. Clearly, your early adventures was a fluke. Reality is, as you have come to learn, hardly as forgiving.

Hnn, this is a troubling situation. You want to know what the Shrine Maiden has been up to, but she has cloistered herself away quite effectively. Barging into her privacy would be insensitive and moronic to an order unspeakable, so you had only choice: to wait until a chance came that you could meet face to face again. Hopefully by then, cooler heads will prevail and the two of you can make up with whatever time you have left.

After all, it is better to face a common foe with a united front.

"Appreciate it, Daiya-kun. Best of luck to you all with stopping her from doing something reckless. Try to get her to take care of herself too, yeah? It takes all of us to make this shrine, and it wouldn't be the same without our capricious Red and White."

"Wow, danna, that sounded like something a cool, responsible man would say."

"What can I say? I'm going through a shift in paradigm."

The matter settled, though the shadow of intrigue grows ever darker, the two of you part ways for the evening. Of course, you make sure to follow up and pass the good word along to Honoo no Kosaka for his fabulous cooking, while making a mental note that you ought to meet the rest of your chief retainers some time. Hell, you wonder what kind of character was in charge of all the water kami, though seeing the trend thus far---he or she must be an "interesting" eccentric of note, too.
>> No. 94342
File 125307280664.jpg - (675.93KB , 1271x960 , 7f4f82f0a4477d48c8b899ea6e2e0b85.jpg ) [iqdb]
94342
Evening wears on you but you decide to relax with some studying, namely The Gentleman's Way, until supper. Alas, you are disappointed to hear that your cousin has been---a bit traumatized by recent events, and is as such declining to join you in the dining room. The fact that she is depressed though alarms you. How was it that she could experience the same delusion as you? If it was a delusion, just that, then she should not have been able to experience it.

Could it be that O-Reimu had really been there?

Ugh.

It is getting late. By the time, you finish your meal you find that you have no energy left to go and solicitously pester Amaterasu no Kagura. Your answers will have to wait until the morning...

---

*SYSTEM MSG: Wheels within wheels, and the plot thickens. Oh, as for your studying...

Gain... + 2 Pts of Expression!

The soothing rhythm of the rain unexpectedly helped you to concentrate, too. In addition...

Gain... + 2 Pts of Knowledge!

A most fascinating time well spent; you feel you are close to having the basics down for The Gentleman's Way. Just got to keep at it.

But on a different note... Oh my, there appears to be a change within you!

...

You have attained Expression Level 3 - Persuasive!

Hmm, perhaps you can actually have a proper conversation with the silver-tongued Hieda no Akyuu now?

**SYSTEM: Loading... New Phase.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

BGM Load: "New Days", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Night passes and a new dawn breaks across the fantastic realm of Gensokyo. Your slumber was not the best, burdened with so many concerns, but as is the way of sensible humans, you try not get hung up on it. Morning has come to Hakurei Shrine and you know enough than to squander your precious time.

That said, what should you do?

Choose...

[] I hungry. Breakfast first!
[] Go freshen up. That ought to help wake you up.
[] Suck it up. Time to go drop in on your august cousin. Hopefully, she's hasn't left the shrine yet.
[] How about a "phone call"? You still need to settle some issues, like replacements for your awesome threads. The clothes make the man, right?
[] Sleep in. Be cool, yo. Gotta get some of that energy back.
[] ??????

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>> No. 94348
[x] Go freshen up. That ought to help wake you up.
[x] Go meet all of your retainers. It just wouldn't do to not know their names or their purposes, right?
[x] Suck it up. Time to go drop in on your august cousin. Hopefully, she's hasn't left the shrine yet.
[x] And the current news on Hakurei no Reimu?
[x] A little breakfast sounds nice.
[x] How about a "phone call"? You'd like to hear from your friends in Higan.

That order, etc.
>> No. 94351
[x] Go freshen up. That ought to help wake you up.
[x] Go meet all of your retainers. It just wouldn't do to not know their names or their purposes, right?
[x] Suck it up. Time to go drop in on your august cousin. Hopefully, she's hasn't left the shrine yet.
-[x] Inquire about her PoV of last night's events and inform her that something might be amiss.
[x] And the current news on Hakurei no Reimu?
[x] A little breakfast sounds nice.
[x] How about a "phone call"? You'd like to hear from your friends in Higan.

This sounds great.
>> No. 94357
You're seriously still writing this?
>> No. 94396
[x] Go freshen up. That ought to help wake you up.
[x] Go meet all of your retainers. It just wouldn't do to not know their names or their purposes, right?
[x] Suck it up. Time to go drop in on your august cousin. Hopefully, she's hasn't left the shrine yet.
-[x] Inquire about her PoV of last night's events and inform her that something might be amiss.
[x] And the current news on Hakurei no Reimu?
[x] A little breakfast sounds nice.
[x] How about a "phone call"? You'd like to hear from your friends in Higan.
>> No. 94410
I AM EXPRESSING MY DISLIKE OF THIS STORY AND IT'S WRITER
>> No. 94473
[x] Go freshen up. That ought to help wake you up.
[x] Go meet all of your retainers. It just wouldn't do to not know their names or their purposes, right?
[x] Suck it up. Time to go drop in on your august cousin. Hopefully, she's hasn't left the shrine yet.
-[x] Inquire about her PoV of last night's events and inform her that something might be amiss.
[x] And the current news on Hakurei no Reimu?
[x] A little breakfast sounds nice.
[x] How about a "phone call"? You'd like to hear from your friends in Higan.

I love it.
Trolls be damned.
>> No. 94537
4th thread already? Woah. nice job, J.

I stopped reading the story since that thing with the succubus but... it's good that you can keep a constant pace on updates. Keep it up.
>> No. 94576
ADMIN:

Votes received. Update in-progress.
>> No. 95113
Updates?
>> No. 95260
File 125359883636.png - (67.60KB , 600x400 , 5886022.png ) [iqdb]
95260
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Anonymous Inc. Custom

"For future reference, please use Multi-Choicing---wisely. This combined wall of text is over 5000 words long... Yeah. Pardon me while I go disable multi-choicing for a bit. I'm just burned out after this monster."

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

---

As much as you would like to sleep in, you think better and decide to pull your cool augustness out from the futon. After all, you were not a man who could afford to kill time for the sake of killing time at the moment; the clock was ticking for both yourself and the future of Gensokyo. Properly motivated to move it or lose it, you roll up your futon (can't even remember putting it out in the first place) and toss it into the closet, before stepping out into the characteristic Nihon-style, oper air hallway.

It is another peaceful summer morning by Hakurei Shrine's new standards. The cicadas are out in force again, chirping away, and you spot some of the more "ordinary" kami children milling about the halls. They are doing just about what you would expect: making a game out of running errands and doing chores, generally making right laughable fools out of themselves. The joys of being innocent and young, huh?

You exchange some casual offhand greetings and encouragement with them on the way to the washroom, of course. It was the decent thing to do, considering these little fellows are working hard for you, doing tedious little things like scrubbing the wooden floors and maintaining the inner courtyard's garden. To be frank, you were having a hard enough time as is just holding up your end of the bargain, so it was a small mercy than you did not have to toil away on chores, distracting you potentially from the bigger picture.

And what a big picture it is...

Some minutes later, you emerge from the bath and it turns out your hunch was right. A little quality alone time woke you right up, and shoot, someone was even kind enough to leave a fresh plain white yukata, like the one you wore to bed, and "necessities" in the hamper for you. Heh, take that Remilia Scarlet! Bet you don't have awesome courtesy service like this at your bloody mansion.

Speaking of courtesy service, a nagging thought comes to mind from the evening prior, as you step back out into the halls once more: that's right, you ought to introduce yourself to the rest of your---chief retainers. It does not take long for them to answer your summons either. Thus, you are reminded once more how extraordinary these children of the world, whom serve you and your honored landlady, are despite their plain appearances.

Swiftly, four pairs of kami children assembled at your "quarters": brown, red, blue, and green. Each representing their namesake element, they waited for your command before calling upon their elder brothers and sisters. Some might say it is an odd show of respect, but you reckon word of your reaction from the evening prior must have traveled fast amongst the household. Nothing to be embarrassed about; still, it was something you ought to keep in mind as to the "flow" of information within your own home.

You nod in wordless ascent and the children begin the same transformation as you saw the night prior, though everyone had a decidedly unique taste of a "handshake". The earth butted heads, the fire exchanged a peculiar gesture that your a priori expertise pointed out to be a "high-five", the wind "shot" each other, and the water simply embraced. Thus, they all in turn shattered into earthen rock, burst aflame, exploded into whipping air, and melted into pure liquid.

...no matter how many times you watch, you doubt you will ever get used to the spectacle, a phenomenon that the human side of your brain could not accept. Unnatural, and through such wondrous sorcery thus were your chief retainers brought forth: a boy, a young man, and a pair of girls who could pass for sisters.

The first was Tsuchi no Daiya. No surprises there. The others, though, were new, unfamiliar faces. For starters, the guy looked awfully mature and handsome, that is way older than his supposed actual age, which by appearances should be around seventeen or eighteen summers by human standards. Dark-haired and fit, if it were not for his red kimono with flame print, you would have passed him off as another village playboy, the glaring lensflare glinting off his million ryou smile not helping matters.

You swear someone will go blind some day from looking at his smile too long...starting with you, unfortunately. Might be a good idea to look into getting some sunglasses or glasses, period, with transition lenses. ...what the hell are transition lenses, anyways?

Ah, but you digress... The girls were an interesting pair, too. Both older than O-Reimu by a few years and self-evident adolescent figures, which were filling in so nicely that no kimono could possibly hide the fact. The elder sister had to be taller one, you reckon: green hair, real wild and wispy, and green eyes. She totally gave off this feeling of happiness and energy, like "KIRA! (Sparkle!)" with a hip pose.

The younger sister was all about the color aqua, which matched her kimono, too. Seriously long hair, she had enough to put them up in twintails, held up by ribbons, for goodness' sake. Unlike the elder, this one gave off a much more reserved feeling but---moe. An ideal concerned imouto?

"Waiii~, everyone! At last, at last, we have assembled~!" She of Wind speaks first, her call vibrant and refreshing.

"Mou, nee-chan, do we really have to do this?" the Girl of Water bemoans, cool and sweet, something terrible imminent. "It's embarrassing."

"Embarrassing, you say? Very well! Good, then I will burn even hotter to flush your cheeks with ardor!" scoffs He of Fire with a debonair sparkle.

"Yeah, yeah, let's get this over wit', 'kay?" Daiya rolls his bright diamond eyes.

You soon find out exactly what sort of embarrassing thing these four are up to no good about: they powerpose.

"From the East and the West side~!"

"No, it's not!"

"From the North and the South side~!"

"No, it's not!"

"Peerless from all sides and CENTER~!"

"Now, we talkin'!"

"Kaze no Me~GUMI-desu!"

"Sui no MIKU~kon...(I knew it; this is embarrassing!)"

"Ho~noo no Kosaka-de gozaru ya!"

"Tsuchi no Daiya-yeah."

"We, the Four Heavenly Generals of Hakurei~! COME FORTH."

It cannot be helped; you find yourself complying automatically with a round of applause for your retainers. Anyone in your opinion who had the guts to come out and put on a show so bombastically over the top deserved it. Never mind the fact it was just a self-introduction that did not say much about the cast, save that they were absolutely "badass", so to speak.

"Oh my~, thank you, thank you, Master!" Megumi crows with joy at your favorable reception.

Among her merry bad, she seemed to be the one getting the biggest kick for her buck. You had to wonder if she was the one orchestrated this routine in the first place.

"Nee-chan... Please, tell me we will never, ever do that again," groaned a self-pitying Miku, evidently still in red-faced shock she had gone through with the whims of the former.

"Meh, there wasn't enough PASSION!" Kosaka objected, puffing out his toned, muscled pecs. Like. Well, so manly chest. Or you suppose it's supposed to be more like a rooster. "This Kosaka demands an ENCORE!"

An encore?

"Oo~, oo~! Sure, I'd like to do another-"

Hey, now...

"Ah, my sister, Megumi, you are a spirit after my own heart!"

Uhhh...

"Noooo~! NO way! I don't wanna!"

This is---getting out of hand, sorta. Maybe calling all four of your chief retainers at once was not such a good idea? Then again, how were you supposed to know they would be such a handful, when they are all gathered together? ...So how were you going to fix this?

Mercifully enough, your savior soon presents himself, heading off the imminent squabble amongst his siblings.

"This sorta thing ain't bad once in a while, but more ta the point, basterds 'n' ladies, this isn't YOUR time. It's DANNA-sama's time, remember?"

A brief awkward pause dawns upon the moment, before an all out epidemic of hasty genuflections and earnest supplications breaks out all at once amongst your retainers, minus one Tsuchi no Daiya. The latter simply takes his time assuming the proper seiza position, a sign of rather good manners. Wonder where a kami had time to learn a Nihon tradition like that?

Though now that he did so, you find yourself compelled to follow his example, losing the more comfortable "barbarian sitting" of agura, nominally considered by gaijin to be sitting cross-legged. ...Oh wait, the rest of them are still prostrating themselves for the perceived slight, even though you did not mind it much terribly.

"'ey, you're all forgiven. Lift up your faces, all right? It's hard to carry on a conversation when I can't look at you all in the eye."

So passed a round of cheers and sighs of relief from the latter three, but as for---well---your foreman he seemed to be taking it perfectly in stride. Daiya has been in most contact with you in person, and it was only to be expected he would be comfortable in your presence compared to his brother and sisters. Thus, he took the lead to initiate conversation.

"So, wha'cha need, Boss? Bored? Or is it somethin' pretty important that ya needed ta call out all o' us 'ere this mornin'?"

Normally, you'd think it would incite some umbrage but the rest of your retainers seemed happy to defer to his experience.

"No and sorta."

"Really, now?"

"Number one, I called you all out because I wanted to meet you. The days have been kind of busy, and I'm new to this whole responsibility deal. Thought it'd be good to start paying attention to the details, yeah?"

Having said that, Kaze no Megumi spontaneously bursts into tears, much to your surprise, along side her brother from fire.

"T-Touching! So touching! Megumi is moved by your earnest feelings for us, Master!"

"Yes, yes! You light a fire in this Kosaka's hearth, mi'lord!"

Those two... They really eat up sentimentality like cotton candy, huh? Well, more power to them for being so honest and open; a cool guy like you has to hold back some on the love, but you got your own clever ways of showing you care.

"Aye, then, this one shall start first," Miku interjects in rather formal language with feigned annoyance. Granted, it is a little bit hard to tell how much of it really is her annoyed and her just relishing pulling a fast one over the other two crying "idiots".

"EHhhhhhhh!?"

"UN-POSSIBLE!?"

"Knock y'erself out," Daiya shrugs.

Hey, hey, don't you get a say in this, too? Oh what the hell, forget it.

"I, Sui no Miku, am charged with all maters concerning---Water."

You listen attentively, expecting many a telling revelation.

"That's it."

...EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh?! What's with that kind of deadpanned reaction?

"Oi, oi, Sui-san, aren't ya being a little harsh?" Daiya whistles nonchalantly.

If looks could kill, the earth kami would have been drowned by his sister at least ten thousand times over. Indeed, the atmosphere in your seems to have suddenly taken a turn for the worst. This air of hostility... Why?

"I have nothing to say or to offer to an immature, incompetent louse for a lord, Tsuchi-chibi."

Ouch. ...It couldn't be that word of your indiscretion has spread to, has it? Well, you and O-Reimu were speaking in open air at the front yard, so it would not be unreasonable to...

"I'm ashamed and embarrassed to think---nay, I still can't believe we were awakened, after so long, just to serve a hairless brat. Aaa~ah! Woe is us. Hakurei-sama's ancestors must be tossing and turning in Heaven that the fate of our house falls to such a selfish, whimsical lord. I pity and sympathize from the bottom of heart with Hakurei-sama that She must tolerate-"

"Uwawawawa~! MI~KU! You've said more than enough," Megumi interjects loudly in a manic panic. "Master, please, for-"

"What rubbish! The conduct of the lord reflects upon his servants, too, Megumi-nee. If we do not chastise and correct him, then no matter how much times passes, this good for nothing will always be a good for nothing. Fortunes, it took him five days to even think to gather us!"

"B-But..."

"This Kosaka acknowledges the truth of your words!" it is the fire kami that comes to the rescue of his sister, sorta.

"Finally, some with some sense-"

"But! It is also a truth that we have slept and weakened; the cause for our slumber was irrefutably because our Lord abandoned us many a year ago! So the fact this ardent boy god has not fled from his responsibility is a testament to his character, sayeth I, the Flame of Passion, Kosaka!"

Miku is far from won over by such good will.

"Feh! Such blind faith. You have not grown at all. YOU---are still the same gutless child hiding in an adult's body, Man of Fire. Here I thought you, who was hurt the most, shared the same thoughts as I. How unsightly!"

Hey, hey, if this is supposed to be somebody's idea of a joke, it sucks. Hard. Bad. The Worst. Sure, it figures some people would disapprove of your recent gross failure, but to have that and add the sins of your predecessor thrown right on top---was this not all a bit too cruel. Damn that Ebisu! Why the hell did you call of them at once?

"I take my leave of this worthless affair to return to mi'lady's side. I have no interest in a failure of a god and an even smaller, tiny, puny, little man, who knows nothing of honor and duty!"

"And this Kosaka retires from this repulsive field lest it spoil breakfast!"

"Uwaaa~! You, two, wait a-"

They left.

So that's that, huh? In the end, you didn't even learn what all of your chief retainers do, though at least you got their names and a whole lot more drama than you bargained for... Fortunes, how could everything be so screwed up just because of one mistake? ...Okay, it was a BIG mistake.

Man, being a god sure is tough; you really underestimated how important this job is and how many people are looking up to you (watching your every move and all that). Shoot, why was not there some kind of orientation for this? Did the Celestial Order just expect gods to be excellent gods right from the get go? Idiots. It does not work like that when you have human feelings and faults!

Ugh, maybe you ought to think about writing up some kind of self help guidebook on the subject. It could be highly profitable and the lessons within might even apply to humans, too.

"So, are ya mad I didn't tell ya that y'er castle was a mess, Boss?"

What the! Tsuchi no Daiya. That "kid" is still here?!

"Ah! You!"

"Yeah?"

Sigh.

"What's wrong, boss?"

"As if getting mad at you would change anything, ya little punk," you grouse dryly, with a weary glance. "...though I would've, sorta, appreciated a little warning in advance."

"But aren't the best lessons the hard ones?" he smiles, totally innocent and unrepentant. "'sides, I thought ya took that pretty well. Ya might just have what it takes ta become a good lord ta us all. I'm rootin' fer ya!"

So that scene just now was a test, too, huh? Man, this kid is a lot more interesting than he looks. Wonder if it has something to do with being an earth kami? Wise and immovable as the mountain or some such was it?

Well, a lesson learned is wisdom gained. Eat up that humble pie and move on. The best you can do is try even harder from now on as the high stakes of what you have signed up for become ever clearer by the day. After you resolve things with O-Reimu at the right place and time, you can start taking care of these old grievances amongst your vassals and learn a thing or two about how Hakurei Shrine used to be in the time of its previous "Lord".

Clearly, you and the Fated Shrine Maiden are paying dearly because of the sins of your progenitors. Best to be brought up to speed with all the skeletons in the dirty closet, eh? In the meantime...
>> No. 95262
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95262
"Oi, Tsuchi-kun, y'know where my cousin is?" you ask Daiya, as you stand up. "She didn't take off yet, did she?"

The burly boy gazes up at you with a gleam in his bright eyes, like diamonds. It is hard to tell what that shine meant exactly but you would like to think he's a little bit impressed by your new found "cool" maturity: just taking things in stride, one step at a time.

"I thought you'd never ask, Danna. Follow me."

Following the earth kami's lead, you soon arrive at a peculiar but cute scene.

"Fetch it, Kagura-sama~!" a gang of kami children chorus bright together as one.

"NUUOOOooooo! I'll do it-aru~!" she answers back with a mighty bark.

Amaterasu no Kagura was playing "Fetch" (the item in question a harmless enough ball) with your servants in the front yard of Hakurei Shrine. Though an activity normally reserved for plain, ordinary, domesticated dogs, the snow white wolf in her full brilliance seemed to be enjoying herself quite so. Yourself and Daiya, however, share a conspiratory look, wondering if she realizes the irony of the situation. You, in particular, cannot hold back a sweatdrop from condensing against your brow, as you struggle not to laugh.

After all, this was the same Kagura, who was just deeply hurt---apparently so---the other night from being called a dog. Sure, it was a gross insult that no self-respecting wolf could ever bear without retribution, but here she was acting all hunky dory like a regular family dog. In fact, now that you think about it: your cousin did not act an awful lot like a wolf in the first place.

Tsk... That is rather troubling, actually. True, you have benefited from it, but getting along with human-ish beings is one thing. How she does with her own native kind is another issue altogether. Probably...it can't be pretty, knowing of Man's own bloody history.

"Ah, Gin-chan~!" your cousin cries out exuberantly having noticed yourself lurking around the bend at last.

Of course, this triggers a predictable round of chorus from the gathered kami children too. How convenient.

"Hey, there, kiddos!" you barge into the scene, cool and savvy-like. "Thanks for keeping our guest real happy while I was otherwise occupied. Couldn't do it without you all, honest!"

There was a mix of cheers and humbleness at your words. In the big picture, it was not a big deal, but to they who hold you in the highest regard on this world, it was pretty much everything to them. The earnest emotion on all these little faces was irrefutable proof.

"That said, I hate to break up the fun, but I need a private word or two with Kagura-san here. Promise, I'll return her to y'all as soon as godspeed possible, okay?"

Your delivery, unexpectedly insightful, proved to be the medicine the doctor ordered, though it only took the bite off the terrible pouting, sulking faces that blasted your psyche in the next second. Note to self: it appears that tiny lizard part of your brain also loves kids, for you were nearly reduced to your knees by the adorable little runts.

"Awwwww..."

Gah!

"Ya heard the Boss, runts, so move it before I catch ya!" adds Daiya helpfully.

The imminent threat sends the little ones happily scattering before they could focus the full brunt of their rascally disappointment against you. Likely, you would have been forced to capitulate to their demands for more fun time.

"Waaa~! So fast!" says your cousin with a bark. "We should've played tag, instead-aru!"

"I'll be around if ya need me, boss. Just say the word."

Dang, is that guy psychic or what? He totally read the mood...

"Eh, eh? Why is he leaving, Gin-chan?"

...which is more than you can say for Kagura. Sweet innocence appears to be more her strong point.

"I did say I needed a word in private with you."

"Oh, what is it then?" she stares up at you, with her full attention and curious tail wagging, eagerly. "C'mon, c'mon! Say it! Say it-aru! Kagura likes serious talks, too!"

And what could be fun about a serious talk? You shake your head in bewildered wonderment.

"Ask and you shall receive: listen, about last night-"

No sooner do you speak that a wounded whine interrupts you, as your cousin drops to the stone tiled path, like a ton of bricks. Her big golden eyes are weeping waterfalls of tears. Clearly, she has not gotten over the trauma from the evening prior yet.

"W-Why, G-in-chan? Ka-Kagura, sniff, al-most fuh-got, boo-hoo-hooooo~!"

Talk about a pathetic sight. Even you find yourself losing your cool just looking at it, despite trying to detach yourself sentimentally from the spectacle, as a mounting cloud of black depression seemed to encroach above the blessed white wolf.

"Stupid, I'm asking because I think something was wrong last night."

"Eh? Sniff, y-You mean th-at Mi-miii-ko-sama is even mean-er usually-aru?"

"...Uhhh, probably, but-"

"Noooooooooooo~! Bweh-aaaaaaaa~!"

Geez, this is not getting anywhere. You need to figure out some cool way to get your cousin to calm down. Come to think of it, food and adventure seem to be on the top of her priorities, so...

"Oi, if you keep crying, then I guess I'll just have to go eat breakfast. All. By. My~. Self~! NO MISO FOR YOU."

Like flipping a switch, the sunshine and blue sky came right back.

"Food? Good human food! YEAH~! Kagura's want some. Please, please, pretty please? Don't be stingy-aru~!"

"Okey-dokey, but! business first, breakfast second, got it?"

"Anything you say---goes~!"

Shoot, there were even sunflowers blooming over her head, too.

"Anyways, did you notice anything funny?"

"No. Why?"

Tsk, you were not expecting such a straightforward answer.

"Well, just so you know, the Hakurei we met last night---probably---wasn't there."

"Huh?"

Exactly your reaction; if O-Reimu was not present in body, then likely the mental contamination theory had to be right. ...but how was it possible? By the standards of common sense, a man ought to be only able to perceive his own delusions. Therefore, how could your august cousin experience the same thing too?

"Unbelievable," you mutter in frustration.

"What? What is, Gin-chan? C'mon, get to the point-aru," the she-wolf whines at you. "Kagura's gettin' hungry, wahoo~."

"Stupid, stop thinking with your stomach for a second, would you? This isn't the sort of thing that just goes away that simply."

"Like Kagura said, get to the point! Kagura, y'know, doesn't understand what you're thinking. You have come out loud and say it."

Fine, she asked for it.

"Look, remember that curse I was talking about?"

"Sure Kagura does! ...So what about it?"

"I think I'm going crazy," you say in all seriousness, crossing your arms over your chest. "That's bad."

"But gods like us go crazy all the time. What's so bad about that-aru?"

"Stupid! It's one thing to go wild and it's another thing to go crazy. I mean it like I'm serious going mental here!"

"Men-tal? ...Uuuu, use easier words-aru. Kagura doesn't like to figure out complicated stuff."

Oh Fortunes, have you somehow landed yourself into an impromptu stand-up comedy routine at the worst time possible? What! Is your life supposed to be one big divine sitcom or something, too? How absurd.

"Look, that O-Reimu we met? She. Wasn't. REAL. The real one was sitting inside somewhere in the house!"

"So..." your cousin drifts off, before gasping in shock, "don't tell me! The one we met...was Gin-chan's delusion?!"

"Why, yes-PFFFFFFTTTTTTTttttttttt! What the?! How did you figure that? Who are you and what have you done to my stupid, innocent cousin, Amaterasu no Kagura? IMPOSTER. Isn't that right? Huh? HUH!"

Damn, you freaked out! You were totally not expecting to hear such a profound conclusion on the part of your cousin. Could it be that she was a genius of life experiences in disguise behind that droll stupidity?

"Ah ha ha ha ha, silly Gin-chan! Kagura has done the same thing, too."

"WHAT YOU SAY!?"

For real for real?!

"But something at that level is pretty tame-aru. You've seen nothing yet. Just wait until you get REALLY crazy, Gin-chan!"

"Stupid! I don't want to get any crazier than that...but how is it possible, Kagura-sensei?"

"Stu~pid. Kagura and Gin-chan might not look that strong but Kagura and Gin-chan are still gods. Is it really that hard to believe that Kagura and Gin-chan can't make our illusions, delusions, and disillusions reality for everyone to see?"

Wow. That sounded really smart and philosophical.

"Though to be serious," your cousin adds in a dry, sheepish tone, "that's only something Kagura heard from someone else when Kagura was crazy-aru."

Ah.

"SO~! It could be a total load of bullshit-de aru, tee hee hee! Isn't that something, Gin-chan?"

....

DESPAIR.

In fact, your shock did not wear off until well after breakfast was over, so did you find yourself ruminating in solemn silence back in your room. You recall vaguely that Tsuchi no Daiya passed along the word that nothing has changed concerning the Red and White. O-Reimu was still in seclusion within the hidden chambers of the Inner Sanctum. Whatever she was doing there was on a need to know basis only, which you were expressly excluded from.

Gods, what could you have done in your previous life to deserve all of this uncalled for "excitement"? Whoever you were you must have been an extraordinary jerk that's for sure to have your life this messed up now.

The sudden sound of music---a jazzy, moody electronica---emanating from your closet mercifully pulls you away from such a loathsome train of thought in the knick of time. A little shuffling and rummaging soon produces the familiar sight of the mystic mirror, its perfect finish glowing intermittently, like a beacon. Funny, you never heard the memo that it could receive calls too, but it seemed logical enough.

Besides, this melody reminded you of a certain someone. He might just be your best hope right now for any consolation at all.

"Yo, Kid, what's up?" truth be told, you were actually quite glad to see that all business-like and professional face of the Little King of Hell.

"Ho, what's with that reaction?" the golden-eyed young man raises a brow at you. "Dare I say you sound happy to see me?"

"After what I went through last night---oh, and this mornin', I could use a friendly face."

Kid's expression tightens.

"Well, I am going ahead first because whatever I have to say is going to be infinitely more dreadful to you."

Sigh. Way to kill the mood there, man.

"Fine."

"You have three days."

"...Three days? For what?"

"You have not forgotten you are a provisional Shinigami of Higan now, have you?"

"Uhhh, well, maybe just a little..."

"You are going to hate me for this, but we have found your target. It will be arriving exactly three days from now... Estimates put it somewhere in the heart of the Forest of Magic. We only have a short window to make our strike, but Sikieiki and I feel confident that you can handle---It. With this achievement under your belt, it should keep Ougi and his cronies off your tail for a little while."

Ahhhhhhhh, @#$%... That's right. You forgot you have made some rather unfortunate enemies in the Netherworld. Geez, it felt like a lifetime ago. Hard to believe it's only been handful of days at best since your emergence at the Sanzu. Man, how much you have changed since...

"Gotcha. Just keep me posted on whatever comes up all right?"

"Will do, and speaking of which, there should be a delivery of clothes for you coming in this evening---Living Realm time. Spares, essentials, and the like (do not ask where she got the measurements from). My colleague felt you were entitled to a clothing allowance now that you had settled into a proper residence."

"Oh, hell, man! She-"

"Do not fear. She knows nothing of that---yet. ...though, just a little bureaucratic intuition, you will probably receive a call from her soon. I hope you are a prepared, Gintoki."

Oh, @#$%. You should have seen that coming. You are, after all, way over due for a good talking to with the Yama of Paradise.

"Well, that said, what news do you have for me?" Kid leans back in his chair, propping his cheek up against a fist.

Now, you feel bad for having to broach your half of the news.

"It's started, Kid. Just like you said, it would."

"Tsk. How uneviably quick."

"I'm starting to see things. Well, at least I think I am. And. ...I dunno if it's a symptom too, but I did get a very good sleep last night. Woke up tired."

The golden-eyed king seethes, a sharp inhalation, as his brow furrows into an intense frown. When he addresses you, this time he drops all of his former prim and proper formality for simple frankness.

"Gintoki, you don't have much time. Depending on how it progresses, you might not even make it to your impending confrontation with the Scarlets."

"Ughhh. Thanks for the encouragement there, Pops."

"Che, I'm a realist not an optimist. ...I'll redouble my efforts on seeing if we can track down a specialist from our side, but I make no guarantees. Your best bet is to keep at it. Between the two of us, we should be able to come to a solution before it's too late."

"But what am I going to do, if it gets out of hand?"

His expression darkens.

"I don't want to say this, but you should consider looking for---a second, preferably someone you won't be ashamed to call your nakama. I'd do it myself but I am otherwise occupied by my own station as you can see."

A...A second? As in seppuku? He is got to be kidding.

"Think of it, this way. Would you rather have the Red and White be forced to raise her hand against you at a critical moment?"

...Keh! Damn.

"Heh, have a little faith, man," your lips upturn into a cheerless smile, deadly and grave. "It won't come to that---promise."

"Miracles don't happen by themselves, Yorozuya no Gintoki. I suggest we make it happen."

"Yeah. Catch ya later."

"We'll be in touch."

And just like that, you were all alone again... The cicadas are chirping, as always.

Sigh.

What shall you do?

Choose... (Pick one)

[] Take a nap to clear your head.
[] The day is still young. Why let this morning go to waste?
--[] Give The Gentleman's Way another go?
--[] Try your hand in the kitchen?
--[] Train <Specify Skill / Feat>
[] Send a messenger into town. You have some lingering business you'd like to take care of with the merchantman, Rinnosuke. He might even have a solution for your---problem.
[] A second. Nakama. Who would fit that...?
[] Spend time with... <Specify Whom>
[] ??????

---
>> No. 95295
[x] Send a messenger into town. You have some lingering business you'd like to take care of with the merchantman, Rinnosuke. He might even have a solution for your---problem.
[x] A second. Nakama. Who would fit that...?

There's no reason we can't have some inner monologue during the course of our actions.

Also, I find your update to be the same length as any of your other updates. The only problem you have with it is that you have to cater too much to anonymous' whims, and are not able to go off on some crazy tangent or railroad us into a situation of your choosing.

It's hard, isn't it? Not being in control of your story? Yet you cling desperately. It's not surprising all of the choices lead to despair. Your vagina must be so swollen from the constant bleeding. Get that checked out, won't you? Before it gets on somebody's shoes.
>> No. 95311
[x] The day is still young. Why let this morning go to waste?
--[x] Give The Gentleman's Way another go?
>> No. 95347
[x] The day is still young. Why let this morning go to waste?
--[x] Try your hand in the kitchen?
[x] If we have the mood to go for a walk, visit Rinnosuke at his shop and spend some time with him. He may have some advices to give us.
>> No. 95352
[x] Send a messenger into town. You have some lingering business you'd like to take care of with the merchantman, Rinnosuke. He might even have a solution for your---problem.
>> No. 95454
ADMIN:

Judging from the shotgun pattern on the 00 buckshot mangled corpse, consensus seems to be leaning for "Get Big K in Da Shrine". It will be done. Writin'...
>> No. 95609
File 125384998393.jpg - (241.44KB , 900x900 , 1d312954f94480f4ac600b6610ed1d7f.jpg ) [iqdb]
95609
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Send a messenger into town. You have some lingering business you'd like to take care of with the merchantman, Rinnosuke. He might even have a solution for your---problem.

Current Phase: Morning - Clear - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

---

Well, after that ton of drama slopped onto your plate, you really do not feel like going out today. Still, the proposition of being stuck at the shrine all day, without much of anything to do besides training yourself or finding an excuse to kill time, was not quite appealing either. You had a curse to beat, and though some avenues have been met with delays, there must be other leads, surely.

In fact, you cannot believe you did not think to ask that smooth gentleman sooner. A savvy merchantman like him ought to be well-connected, considering his odd specialty, and if he was a hermit really, well gee-whiz, you would be quite disappointed with Morichika no Rinnosuke. Shoot, the man said it himself he was a licensed go-between with The Sweepers Association, who made it their business to solve "trouble". Hopefully, your urgent issue would be covered within their expertise.

Confident with those thoughts in mind, you arrange for a messenger to go to the Human Village of Kabukichou. Hey, you'd make an appearance yourself, but considering you ran afoul of the law the last time you went, it seems more prudent to lay low until further notice. Hell, you do not even have the faintest clue how the law even applies in a unique community like the Sleepless Town where the human residents regularly interact with more civilized youkai and vice-versa.

On the issue of whether your word will get there in a timely fashion, Tsuchi no Daiya has taken the task personally upon himself, so you can rest easy. If there is one person here you can depend on, it was that burly kid of a earth kami.

That said... Who knows when he will return and when the gentlemanly merchantman can find time out of his day to come see you? It could be a short wait or an awful long wait.

...

Argh, it's so hot and muggy out there. This is what summer feels like, huh? Hnnn. Don't wanna move around at all, especially when you already got your pillow out and about on this here tatami in your room. Hnnn. Would be nice, after all this is over, if you can enjoy a lazy day on the ryouka, just observing some frolicking scene, preferably with a soft lap pillow. Oh, gotta make sure you got a good book, snacks, and tea, too.

...

Yup. That would be awesome. Never mind you have no clue who you are going to convince to volunteer for the lap pillow, but---eh---something or someone will work out. No way the Laughing God would deny you a pleasure as simple as that... Come on, it would be cruel, inhumane, and usual punishment!

...

So sleepy... Guess you'll be getting that nap, after all.

---

SYSTEM: Loading...

Current Phase: Evening - Starry - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

---

It is evening when you wake at last from slumber---troubled. Maybe it was the Summer heatwave, but you are bathed in an unpleasant combination of sweat and tiredness. Hard to believe you managed to sleep most of the day away in such state but you did, much to your present regret.

Weird. Aren't people supposed to feel better after a nap? You feel---a bit worse actually than this morning. What's-

"Goodness, why I thought you would never wake, ol' chap," a jolly baritone greets you.

Well, dammit, it's Morichika no Rinnosuke seated in a corner of your silvery lit room no less with an open book in hand. Some timing he is got to catch you in one of your less than August moments. Ugh. Hope he enjoys all your salty, manly aroma for all its worth...unless he has enough sense to let you go bathe first.

"Though I must admit, your expression when you sleep is rather troubling. Hard to imagine a free spirit such as yourself could make such a pained face."

A pained face?

"Might I add you expressed yourself as such since I arrived here 'round noontime for tea?"

Shocking.

"Wha-WHAT THE HELL, MAN!?"

You are freaking out for good reasons. Definitely.

"Wot the hell wot?" Rinnosuke replies to your vehement blasting, utterly unruffled. In fact, he looked genuinely curious.

This guy...! Could he not fathom how---erm---wrong this situation is?!

"MAN-! H-how could you just sit there for hours on end just---w-watching someone sleep?"

"Hnnh, well I will say, ol' chap, red looks good in your eyes, but I cannot say the same in your cheeks."

Correction: This smooth bastard! He was enjoying this, wasn't he? Teasing you, eh? EEHH!

As if to prove your suspicions, the bespectacled gent gives out a chuckle, clearly, at your expense.

"Goodness, we appear to have digressed quite terribly in the heat of the moment. Forgive my indiscretion, Yorozuya no Gintoki."

Great, now you can't stay mad at him or otherwise you will end up looking like an uncool, immature prat! Well played, Rinnosuke. Well played. You win... This time!

"Yeah, yeah," you grumble, composing yourself hurriedly with a huff, "so, ready to do some business? I reckon I remember there was an item in my possession you were interested in."

"Why, yes! Make it so, chap."

As you move to procure a familiar ebon case from amongst your belongings, you decide to strike up a new line of conversation. The subject is not actually new, more like you are just trying to pick up where the first remarks left off before everything got derailed.

"So, what's this about you watching people while they sleep, Rinnosuke-san? Don't tell me you have some kind of twisted fetish about it, do ya?"

The merchantman brushes off the undercurrent ire in your voice with another easy laugh.

"Nonsense, nonsense. I just find it---edifying to observe the mannerisms and behaviors of others. It does wonders to overcome the initial awkwardness in a client-contractor relationship, do you not think so?"

"Maybe, but to watch me toss and turn with an ugly face for six odd hours... Isn't that taking things a bit far?"

"Why I say, did you wish that I had woken you prematurely from your nightmare, like a dutiful nanny, ol'chap?"

"A nightmare, ya say? I don't remember a damn thing about it."

"Is that so?" Rinnosuke props up his glasses, causing the lenses to catch light and flicker---curiously---for a moment.

How strange. Very strange. Could this be a side effect of the curse, too?

"Ah, got it," you say, procuring the long ebon case, a parting gift from the Scarlets, at long last.

"Oh, oh! Please, may I?"

Considering the misadventure it came through with you on, the case is remarkably in near-mint condition, as you turn it over to an eager Rinnosuke for inspection. The golden-eyed man could hardly hold back a childish glee upon receiving the item in question. You admit it is quality piece of manufacturing, but you can't imagine ever having a use for the ebon case yourself.

As for the merchantman who lived and died by such trifle curiosities, he was very much engrossed in the process of appraisal, running a literal battery of tests. Only after a thorough examination of every facet of its make from its finish to the velvety red material lining the insides did Rinnosuke deem the merchandise fit to his satisfaction. Idly, you wonder if he would fine a subtle ruse to do the same to a gift horse bequeathed to him, flying in the face of custom altogether.

"You like?" you remark aloud, raising a brow at him.

"Very much, ol' chap; very much," he replies with a pleased smile, producing a compact abacus of red and black from his satchel. "Excuse me a moment please."

The sight of the calculating tool calls up an odd remembrance no less. Truth be told, you never learned to use the darn things, as your arithmetic needs never exceeded the ordinary. Whatever calculations Rinnosuke was making at a brisk pace escaped your imagination, but the punctuated clicks and clacks of the wooden tablets sliding up and down the contraption added a palpable tension to the transaction. You would hope he would have enough class not to rip you off. Fortunes, the basis of good business, after all, was trust in the first place!

"Jolly good!" the savvy merchantman cries out exuberantly upon completing his appraisal. He then turns his full attention at you, with a big smile on his face. "It seems you managed to earn yourself quite a handsome commission of our interested item, ol' chap."

"How handsome?" you ask, perhaps a bit more eagerly than you wanted to let on.

"How ace does twelve ryou sound?"

Holy sweet Buddha! Twelve years of rice for a trifle like this? You recall---in a different time and place---that much ryou could have bought you several sets of kimonos or a new daisho set easily of reasonable quality.

"It is evident to my eyes that thing the ring of coinage is a joy that even you are not immune to, ol' chap."

You flush a bit at his statement, but being a rather pragmatic fellow...

"I hear money helps the world go around. Better to have it than to do without it."

"All too true," Rinnosuke inclines his head in agreement, "but that said, might I interest you in a bit of philanthropy?"

Eh?

"It may not be apparent, but I am donating a portion of my own commission for this item to a charitable cause. I happen to sponsor a local public school of sorts in the village. Strictly voluntary and non-profit. The school exists to provide an education to any and all who seek it, as such we have a rather diverse, though small student body."

A school, huh? Fancy that.

"Of course, the operating costs for such an institution is far from ideal, ol' chap. Even with only running the school for only half a day and scheduling regular breaks throughout the trimesters, we are constantly running on the knife edge of the red. Despite her strong front, I assure you my law abiding schoolmarm friend of a governess would appreciate every mon you would be willing to spare."

"Did I forget to mention she is quite the catch of a beautiful lass? You would not want to see her cry, would you, Gintoki-san?"

...What the hell!? Does not this feel a bit like---blackmail? Then again, you figure as much considering this was a thinly veiled test of your character by the savvy bastard. How far did your generosity extend was clearly the question being asked here. Were you willing to aid others that you have never even met face to face?

Ugh, how troublesome.

"Ah ha ha ha, no need for such anguish, chap," Rinnosuke chuckles magnanimously at your consternation. "The good scholarly governess would be offended, ab-so-lute-ly, if she thought you were coerced against your freewill. Charity should be made out of goodwill, with no particular interest for fame or fortune. I, myself, will be nine ryou the poorer after this transaction is finished in the morrow, but wealthier I think I shall be for helping to create a brighter future for Kabukichou."

You are making it harder to decide you silver-tongued nitwit, is what you would like to call out the merchantman for, but boy does he drive a hard bargain.

"So wot shall it be, Yorozuya no Gintoki-danna?"

Decision time.

Choose... (Pick one)

[] Decline on the donation. Seal the deal as is. The Shrine comes first...though it's not awfully cool, but you gotta go by your priorities.
[] Donate. Last thing you want to be known as is the God of Stinginess. Besides, you have a pretty big job lined up pretty soon from your "Bosses" in Higan. Something reasonably lucrative ought to work out from that gig.
[] ??????

And... (Pick one)

[] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[] Tell him about your "issue". Let him know only what he needs to know.
--[] The "issue" and an abridged summary of what happened. Trust is a two-way street, yeah?
--[] Your "issue" and the whole nine yards. Who needs secrets between bosom friends, right? 'sides, he might be able to give you some advice on how to get back into O-Reimu's good graces.
--[] About that schoolmarm friends of yours and her school...
--[] Say, how come you are so damn savvy?

---
>> No. 95641
[x] Donate a portion of your earnings to the school. Four ryou should be a considerable amount; though you'd like to visit the school and meet this woman yourself.
[x] You may even donate more in the future should your luck take a turn for the better.

[x] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[x] Tell him about your "issue". Let him know only what he needs to know.
--[x] Ask more about that schoolmarm friend of his and her school.
>> No. 95642
[x] Donate a portion of your earnings to the school. Four ryou should be a considerable amount; though you'd like to visit the school and meet this woman yourself.
[x] You may even donate more in the future should your luck take a turn for the better.

[x] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[x] Tell him about your "issue". Let him know only what he needs to know.
--[x] Ask more about that schoolmarm friend of his and her school.
>> No. 95653
[x] Donate a portion of your earnings to the school. Four ryou should be a considerable amount; though you'd like to visit the school and meet this woman yourself.
[x] You may even donate more in the future should your luck take a turn for the better.

[x] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[x] Your "issue" and the whole nine yards. Who needs secrets between bosom friends, right? 'sides, he might be able to give you some advice on how to get back into O-Reimu's good graces.

We need all the help we can get.
>> No. 95703
[x] Donate a portion of your earnings to the school. Four ryou should be a considerable amount; though you'd like to visit the school and meet this woman yourself.
[x] You may even donate more in the future should your luck take a turn for the better.

[x] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[x] Your "issue" and the whole nine yards. Who needs secrets between bosom friends, right? 'sides, he might be able to give you some advice on how to get back into O-Reimu's good graces.
>> No. 95742
[x] Donate a portion of your earnings to the school. Four ryou should be a considerable amount; though you'd like to visit the school and meet this woman yourself.
[x] You may even donate more in the future should your luck take a turn for the better.

[x] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[x] Your "issue" and the whole nine yards. Who needs secrets between bosom friends, right? 'sides, he might be able to give you some advice on how to get back into O-Reimu's good graces.
>> No. 95746
ADMIN:

Votes received. Writin'.
>> No. 96090
File 125418605965.jpg - (89.27KB , 541x563 , 6136513.jpg ) [iqdb]
96090
---

System UPDATE:

[x] Donate a portion of your earnings to the school. Four ryou should be a considerable amount; though you'd like to visit the school and meet this woman yourself.
[x] You may even donate more in the future should your luck take a turn for the better.

[x] By the way, Rinnosuke-san...
--[x] Your "issue" and the whole nine yards. Who needs secrets between bosom friends, right? 'sides, he might be able to give you some advice on how to get back into O-Reimu's good graces.

BGM Load: "Reasoning", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

Current Phase: Evening - Starry - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

---

"Jackass, who the hell do you think I am?" you grumble aloud emphatically with a dry huff. "Can't you tell? Yorozuya no Gintoki isn't some small fry, uncool, petty bastard. My natural silver perm says it all: a Nice Guy with a hint of spearmint for cool!"

Suffice to say, Rinnosuke was taken aback by your brazen response, which like a needle to a balloon, ruptured all the hot air out of this serious matter. It was more than you expected to happen, frankly. Guess a smooth merchantman like him is so used to "smooth-ness" that your own amateurish attempts at the art form throws him off his game, or so you theorize. Nevertheless, he soon recovers, brushing off his bewilderment with a nostalgic laugh.

"Young people these days, wot! I fear I am losing my touch and falling behind the times."

Sonuva-! What kind of misunderstanding is he creating? Dammit, now your rhythm is all kinds of off and messed up, too.

"Stupid, don't just give in like that!" you find yourself coloring red in exasperation. It kills the fun in it when people just take your word for this sort of---thingie! Yeah. "Aghhhh, forget it. That's good, right? Right!"

"If you say so, ol' chap."

DOH-Ho?! C-Curse that disarming savvy smile of his-! ...Just you wait, Kourin; one of these days your savvy-gentleman-cool will acknowledge my nice-guy-cool! so you swear in your manic thoughts.

"Ahem! Anyways, I don't mind really. If you're sponsoring them, it must be straight legit. So...how does four ryou sound?"

"Ah ha ha ha, very generous of you, good sir!" he beams.

"But, under one condition..." you hold up a finger for emphasis.

This time, however, your remarks is clearly a line of language the merchantman is used to hearing, for he goes with the flow with dropping a hairbreadth on his open smile.

"Name it."

"I'd like to go check out the school and meet the woman myself. Not a problem, right?"

"Easier than fish and chips, ol' chap. When the fall trimester starts, I will arrange a---hnnn---surprise visit for you. Hopefully, we will not give her too much grief from our little foray into mischief, ku ku ku."

Holy crap, did his glasses just go all backlit Gendo on you? ...Who knew Morichika no Rinnosuke had a devilish bone in him, too?

"Uhh, thanks," you find yourself at a loss for words. "Ehhh... If... If my luck turns for the better, I'll probably do some more of this---philanthropy stuff in the future, too."

"Do not fret terribly, Gintoki-kun. I assure you there is plenty of fortune to be had in the realm of Gensokyo. Even with all our ups and downs, we are a steadily prospering society."

"I wouldn't know. I didn't get much of a look around town before I got into trouble with the law."

"Ah ha ha ha, that you did, but here is an interesting tidbit about the so-called law in the Human Village: see, it is meant to be platonic to all of its constituents, and as such features articles unique to our little community. ...Now, have you run into Hijikata-san in the past three days?"

"Uh, no," you reply, sincerely, though a little concerned.

Rinnosuke beams. "Good, then you are a free man!"

WHAT?!

"And your record is clean too for the fact of the matter."

"Hey, hey, do not be talking crazy here, Rinnosuke-san. I evaded arrest and assaulted that guy! I am sure he's got a record of it, plus plenty of witnesses, too."

"Inconsequential, ol' chap. If you have not been prosecuted within seventy-two hours, then by all rights, you are a free man! Of course, if Vice-Captain Hijikata-san feels so inclined, he can open a new case on you (a rather lengthy arduous process) or enact the Justice for All Clause and come after you himself (or with a few friends) on a personal vendetta. Savvy, eh?"

By the Fortunes, what kind of messed up system of law was this? You could practically get away with murder, except the aggrieved persons would then come hunt you down afterward, if they lose faith in the competence of the proper authorities. How did the citizens agree to such a compact? It was madness waiting to happen, even though you were benefiting from it at present.

"And who's freaking messed up idea is this?" you ask Rinnosuke, flushing beet red in a mix of disbelief and relief.

"Someone infinitely more powerful than you or I," he deadpans in reply.

"...excuse me?"

"Come now, ol' chap, did I not say that the law was written to be platonic to ALL of its constituents?"

"So..."

"That includes the youkai as well."

A youkai (or the youkai) helped write a code of law for Kabukichou?!

"Aside from those two main outrageous points, the code is rather tame and ordinary, but thanks two those two articles, crime is a generally manageable affair in our sleepless town. The townspeople know better than to start trouble, and most who do something unforgivable would rather they be taken in by the police to the courts than be served out wholesale like an all you can slaughter buffet to the aggrieved parties."

Well, isn't that something? You make a note to definitely keep that in mind before you cause trouble in the Sleepless Town.

"Well, congratulations, and my best wishes. If the Fortunes are with you, Hijikata-kun won't decide to make this one slight a personal vendetta, especially when he has enough on his plate as is policing a growing municipality of a thousand odd souls, plus and-or minus some."

A thousand? Sheesh. You had no idea the population was that substantial from your first trip, granted you do not remember much, thanks to your bout with dehydration and the more dramatic events afterward. Wonder why they still call it a village when you have that many bodies in one place? Maybe you should consider doing a little exploration some time to get better acquainted with the "village"?

"Now then, I think I shall take my leave," says Rinnosuke, taking the case and standing up. "Your payment will be delivered-"

"Whoa, whoa, hold up there, Kourin!" you interject hurriedly. "Don't be a stranger. You just got here, sorta."

"Oh?"

Crap, why did you call out to him like that? Totally uncool like you needed him to stay, instead of wanting him to say for a little while. Come to think of it...geh, saying his nickname is little bit awkward coming from your tongue. You imagine it was something meant more to be said by a woman. Why they hell did he pick something so cutesy, anyways?

"Is something the matter, Gintoki-san?"

Tsk. In a way, you were not quite prepared to ask him about this particularly private matter, but considering he is the only person you know---who knows about Her---he was your best bet. You have been putting on a brave, cool show for everyone today. Thing is, you would like to have some insurance to back up all that awesome coolness. ...Assuming you do not lose your mind first.

"Actually, I got a bit of a problem, Rinnosuke-san," you compose yourself a measured cough. "Care to hear me out? You might just be the first person who can give me some good news for a change."

The savvy gent raises a brow at the grave contents of your words, but acquiesces nevertheless, rejoining you on the floor.

"All right, ol' chap, I have some time. Make it so."

"Great, because this might take a while..."

"I say I will be staying over the shrine this mischievous night, then."

So do you recount your misadventure and its precipitating consequences in full to Morichika no Rinnosuke, a tale that takes quite a bit of time to convey. With a gift of hindsight, of course, you cannot help but bemoan the impetuousness of your then younger self. If only the He of the Then had played his cards a little more coolly, with a hint of savvy, the dice would have fallen differently.

Oh well, what is done is done and you are no god of space and time. That would be just cheating, not to mention you would probably turn into a complete amoral megalomaniac with that much power at your fingertips. The Celestial Order would be nothing more but a giant hamster wheel for you to spin and stop as you please, while you play with the lives of others, like some Trickster God, until someone gets fed up enough to put an end to you.

Who knew having limits and boundaries can actually make someone sane?

Eventually, your recollections comes to its end, and all is revealed. Who needs secrets between bosom friends, right? Besides, as you are now, you think you would rather be the person being lied to than the liar, who must bear that sin unto themselves and reap what they sowed.

Now, you wait as the golden-eyed man digests what you have spoken to him, his expression troubled with an open frown. Many sentiments bubbled up onto that handsome face, which likely enchanted its fair share of hearts, but stunningly enough, you were surprised to find bemusement.

"Just to get it off my chest," he speaks up all of a sudden with beaming smile, "I will say this..."

Ho boy, brace for impact!

"Laddie, y'are~ a bloomin', bloody, farkin' nitwit of Sesquipedalian loquaciousness bent sideways, twisted out his arsehole from the teet of a funbag farkfacer!"

...What?

"Now, that my anger has been vented at your lousy attempts to be a Zeusian alpha male, I will speak thus..."

Did he just cuss you out? What kind of language was that? His accent got really thick and weird for a second there. Just what did he say? It sounded bad. Like really bad.

"As a principle, I do not do mysterious love consultations. That is as Hakurei-kun would say, her turf, and I would hate to anger her."

"...So?" you begin uneasily as his smile hardens a notch.

"However, I am a believer in fair business practices. You exchanged, at great personal risk to yourself, many things of great value to me, which has enlightened myself to the madness of certain---developments I happen to hold stock in. I say I should be pissed loony mad with outrage; you have ruined some delicate work of mine that I had been laboring away at tirelessly...for some time, now."

Delicate work? Madness?

"But no matter, I am sure a chance will come again, and besides, it would be a terrible waste to despise you forever just for a few unfortunate mistakes. You may be a god but to have emotion, feelings, and passions...! Is it not Human to Err?"

"Well, yeah, I guess," you reply, scratching at the back of your head awkwardly. This is some pretty deep stuff, and you are not certain you quite grasp it all.

"Ah ha ha ha, ol' chap, I am confident the good in you outweighs the bad, so as you have faith in me, I shall respond in kind."

Rinnosuke props up his glasses, then lenses gleaming for a second as the catch the silvery iridescent glow of the nearby hovering paper shikigami.

"Gintoki, you need not fret terribly over Hakurei no Reimu. She..."

"She?" you ask in a tone that you hope would encourage him to go on.

"Forgive me, I can say no more," the merchantman apologizes hastily, his expression souring for a moment before returning to its magnanimity, "but rest assured, as the man you are growing into, I have every confidence that the both of you can reconcile with one another. Just give it some time."

Well, you suppose some encouragement is better than nothing, but you have to wonder what else he was going to say.

"That said, I understand you---perhaps, we do not have much time. However, when it comes to the Hakurei, affairs are done on the Hakurei's time, not ours, so instead I propose to return the time that belongs to you."

"Um, in plain Nihon, please?"

"I know a specialist in curses and Daemonica. In fact, she just finished up a big contract and should be resting at her domicile, as we speak. I can arrange a meeting, certainly, as I am something of a favorite agent of hers."

"How soon?"

"How does tomorrow afternoon sound?"

"Hnn, I think I can do that..."

"But there is a catch."

Your soaring hopes immediately crash and burn onto the ground. Of course, it could not be that easy, right?

"Name it."

"I will start with---the bad of wot you need to know. The rest I cannot say for fear of violating contractor-agent confidentiality. You understand, yes?"

You nod and so does Rinnosuke breathe a sigh of relief. Wonder why?

"She is an Amoralist, Gintoki-san, but a very skilled one at that, who happens to be taking full advantage of the fact her particular proficiencies are in high demand. Amongst the Sweepers, she has almost no peers to speak of and has an impeccable record. Quick. Efficient. Quiet. No fuss. No mess."

"This is going to cost me---A LOT, isn't it?" you scowl, the sudden dreadful thought dawning upon you.

"Verily so," he informs you with a grave sigh. "She charges just for consultations, well before any labor is even done. I can cover for your first meeting---calling in a favor, see?---but after that, you would be on your own. A specialist like her does not come cheap and your problem is nothing to scoff at, Gintoki."

Well, it is your problem, and it would not be fair to ask for even more out of Morichika no Rinnosuke. True, you admit it is annoying he has some serious insight he is not sharing with you, but if he told you everything, then how does that better a "kid" like you? Just teaching a lesson to someone is not enough; they also have to learn it, right?

Sadly enough, you seem to be more of a hard-headed hands-on kind of fool, which is good and bad.

"As for the impending disaster with the Scarlets..." Rinnosuke rubs his chin thoughtfully, "all I can offer for you and all of us is the best of luck. Though---I find it unusual that our shrine maiden has not contacted the proper authorities in the village yet, so they and the villagers can prepare for the worst. Then again, this is..."

The rest of what the savvy merchantman's words drift into mumbling rumination that is largely lost on your ears, but you do manage to catch one word from it: "First". What the hell does he mean by that?

"Agh, but I digress," he speaks up once more in audible. "I am sure everything will work out fine. After all, it is not as if this is the first time Gensokyo has been met with a crisis, and more likely than not, far from the last. Why I lived through a few myself, and once Hakurei-kun comes out from the Inner Sanctum, rest assured she will take the appropriate actions as necessary."

Hnnn...

"But in the meantime you should be more concerned about yourself, understand? The last thing we want is for you to become an asset to the Baroness's scheme, whatever it might be. So, what do you say to my offer, now?"

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[] Let me think on it a bit longer.
[] ??????

And...

[] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...
[] Argh. Never mind. Let's go have supper, so we can hit the hay, eh? Tomorrow's another big day.

---
>> No. 96094
[] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...
>> No. 96096
[] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...
>> No. 96101
[x] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[x] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...
>> No. 96102
[x] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[x] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...
>> No. 96109
If Rinnosuke's "specialist" is Marisa (obviously), then we may get through without taking a hit to our wallet. She does owe us one. If she remembers ...
>> No. 96118
>>96109

When did we help Marisa out exactly?
>> No. 96134
>>96118

Waaaaaay back a long time ago. She was high on a questionable mushroom...

Oh, and:
[x] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[x] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...
>> No. 96293
File 125428924147.gif - (357.19KB , 1754x2480 , 5508033.gif ) [iqdb]
96293
---

System UPDATE:

[x] Let's see this specialist of yours. Can't hurt to see her at least once.
[x] You know what? Rinnosuke actually seems pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. Maybe...

Current Phase: Evening - Starry - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Koko wa Samurai no Kuni da", Kamagata Eiichi - Gintama OST

---

Geez, as if there was ever any doubt in the first place; better to try than do nothing at all. You will see for yourself whether this chick is a quack or the real deal.

"Oh, why the hell not? Let's go see this specialist of yours tomorrow, Rinnosuke-san. Can't hurt to meet her at least once, right?"

The bespectacled man gives a hearty laugh in reply.

"It shall be done, ol' chap, though I ask that you brace yourself for the worst. If there was anyone whoever fit the metaphor of 'The Princess of Ice', it would be her."

Man, Kourin's just a walking scroll of savvy wisdom, isn't he? Come to think of it, he is actually pretty dependable and knowledgeable to boot. You are not sure what he is supposed to be: human or youkai, not that it matters a whole lot, you think. More to the point...maybe, just maybe the merchantman was the sort of guy you were looking for this one particular job.

"Hey, Kourin, I know this is getting kind of old, but I got one last thing to ask of you."

He takes notice of your use of his nickname, which you have refrained from using quite a bit, in spite of his prior insistence that formalities need not be necessary in private. This makes it the second time, now.

"Jolly, are we developing a bit of a questionable habit of in-debting ourselves to others, Gintoki?"

"Nah, this ain't a favor, man. It's a job and I wouldn't ask you, if I didn't think the best of you either."

"A J-O-B you say?" Rinnosuke raises a brow, and for a moment, you swear you the glitter of ryou clattering in his golden eyes. "Why not, ol' chap? It cannot hurt my sensibilities terribly to hear your proposition."

Well, wherever the dice rolls, you hope you will be the man left standing at the end of it.

"Now, that we are sort of fair and square on the table, I suppose I oughta extend one more piece of trust over to you."

"As you please."

Here goes nothing.

"I spoke with a friend of mine this morning before you turned up and we got to talkin' about my problem."

"And what did he have to say?"

"Eh, it was pretty tame stuff, but one thing in particular stood out: we both agree that my prognosis isn't looking too bright. At the rate the curse is progressing, I might not make it in time..."

"Well I say it is a fine thing we met up today, eh?"

"Yeah, but we also came to agree we need an---insurance policy."

"An insurance policy?" the merchantman blinks in astonishment for a second. "Wait... You are not suggesting what I think you are, are you, ol' chap?"

You take a deep breath and force out a dry smile.

"I wish I was but Kourin---could you be my second? Really, you are the only man here I can ask this of; you are a good fella I wouldn't be embarrassed at all to call my nakama."

There you said it, and predictably enough, the atmosphere just turned real frosty, all tense like. Admittedly, it was an awkward and terrible thing to ask of someone else, especially when they understood the full heavy portent of this duty. Morichika no Rinnosuke says not a word in reply but all the good cheer has left his body, leaving only a dreadful coolness that you would rather not see ever again. The guy just does not seem like the person you have come to know a thing or two about when he is not all jolly and savvy.

Why just looking at him is conjuring up a palpable fear within you. The worst of which had to be "Disdain". Would he think you weak for asking such a thing of him? Alas, it is too late to take back what you have said now.

He speaks thus, his glasses flashing almost as he props them up out of habit, "I am honored by your request but this one thing I cannot honor."

Ugh. Here it comes.

"Do not misunderstand, Yorozuya no Gintoki. I refuse not because I think such a thing is worthless and pitiful. As a matter of fact, I understand the chivalry of Bushido quite well."

...Ehhh? Then?

"To be elementary and frank, I think my strength is not something you require, nor is it within my rights to take the stage at present time. I would be in remiss for reneging on a prior compact otherwise."

What? Rinnosuke has an agreement with someone else that he won't interfere? Who?

"And to be fair, this strength of mine would only weaken you by removing the burden of this trial from your shoulders altogether. The one who stands to benefit the most, the student is you. There is no meaning if you do not fight for your own sake."

"Tsk...Ehhh!" you growl in frustration, "then who can I ask to be my nakama on this? I... As cool as I am, I got enough sense nowadays to know my limits. And you know what? I'll say this without an ounce of shame, Rinnosuke: this @#$%! scares me, all right?"

A grin tugs at the corner of his lips, but he acknowledges with no more than a nod. Ehhh, that kind of cool savvy reaction kinda pisses you off... Time to fire a couple salvos back across his bow.

"Don't just nod, dammit. Words and language were invented for a reason. I can't understand a wily, savvy bastard like you, unless you tell me in plain Nihon!"

"Well, I did not think a young man wise enough to admit aloud his doubts would need any encouragement from me."

"J---Jackass, now ain't the time to be teasing people."

"I believe it is a valid form for expressing one's affection in a twisted fashion."

"Ugh, gimmie a break."

"Oh, is that dissatisfaction I hear in your fiery tones, Gintoki-kun~?"

"Gah! Stop that. Totally creepy! Bad! Makes my guts crawl and wanna puke."

Rinnosuke chuckles and a bit of that old good cheer seemed to be seeping back in the air, at your expense evidently.

"But truly, I am honored you ask, except this is an adventure I cannot accompany you as your nakama."

"Tsk," you make a face.

"Wot? Why ist thou of so little faith, friend?" he eyes you with a bemused spark.

"I ain't of little faith. I'm a realist and because you refused, now I'm back to square one again!"

"Nonsense. I happen to believe you already know of two good prospects who could accompany you for this particular task. Shall I name them?"

What? Two?

"They are quite close by and one of them I just met this afternoon at this very shrine. Certainly, their strength is far below mine, and can only dream of holding a candle to Hakurei no Reimu."

...seriously?

"That said, is it not the joy of youth to broaden one's horizons? It is the journey not the destination that matters; hence, the importance of companions who will not bore you on the trip to Canterbury. I am sure you will become fed up quite fast with my utter competence, no pun intended."

This dude. In a way, he kind of pisses you off, talking like an old man to you, but you got to hand it to him, too. The more you talk to him, the more you believe Morichika no Rinnosuke is the real deal, a man who speaks from experience, deep and vast. ...Just how old is he really? Is he even human at all?

"Ah, the hour grows late, Gintoki," the savvy merchantman interrupts your thoughts with a stifled yawn. "Shall we go about for supper? It would be a horrible waste if we kept your kitchens up and about the entire night."

Dang, is it that late already? You kind of wanted to talk a bit longer, see what else you could learn.

"Ah, that expression... I have seen it many a time, truth be told. Hm. And I know just the medicine for it."

Urk. Caught red handed!

"How about I give you a hint about those two I mentioned, Gintoki-kun? Wouldst that please thy humor?"

Decisions. Decisions.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Eh, why not? Until this curse business is settled, you'd feel a lot more secure if you had a good second---no---nakama to watch your back.
[] Nah. Let's go eat. Big day tomorrow, eh?
[] ??????

---
>> No. 96300
[x] Eh, why not? Until this curse business is settled, you'd feel a lot more secure if you had a good second---no---nakama to watch your back.

Don't we still have that mushroom?

Feels good man.
>> No. 96309
[x] Nah. Let's go eat. Big day tomorrow, eh?

>>96300
I thought we crushed it up and threw it in what's-his-name's face.
>> No. 96332
>>96309

Yeah we did.

"Ice Queen" It's no doubt Alice... whoo boy.

[x] Eh, why not? Until this curse business is settled, you'd feel a lot more secure if you had a good second---no---nakama to watch your back.

Good idea to get some hints from the man.
>> No. 96402
[x] Eh, why not? Until this curse business is settled, you'd feel a lot more secure if you had a good second---no---nakama to watch your back.

May as well hedge our bets while we've got the opportunity.
>> No. 96547
File 125444863651.jpg - (569.19KB , 1000x989 , 4866419.jpg ) [iqdb]
96547
---

System UPDATE:

[x] Eh, why not? Until this curse business is settled, you'd feel a lot more secure if you had a good second---no---nakama to watch your back.

Current Phase: Evening - Starry - Day 4 (7 / 4, Year 118)

---

You know what the gentile merchantman is kind of right. His competence is starting to grate on you. It is as if the man were playing mahjong with you, already has the best hand possible, but is allowing the game to continue simply to observe you. There was nothing malicious about him, thankfully, more like an esteemed scholar watching to see how a colleague will react to his query.

You take a deep calming breath.

"I don't got the luxury of time to searching blindly for a miracle. The possibility exists, I think, but it's not gonna happen unless I put my shoulder into it, get me?"

Rinnosuke chuckles with a hearty slap to his thigh.

"Jolly good, what an interesting individual you are and better friends yet behind you! I dare say I am almost, almost envious."

Now, why would he say a thing like that? Or are you thinking too hard here?

"Well then, listen up, for I would rather not repeat myself ad nauseum. It is quite an embarrassing thing I about to pass on to you. Are you ready?"

You nod, trying to stamp out that odd itch of compulsion to glean some further insight from his words. It is not as if the guy was saying everything with some hidden koan in it, right?

"Hmm," Rinnosuke's expression curls in contemplation, resting his chin upon a propped up palm. "The first is a plain, ordinary footnote of an unremarkable, extraordinary ordinary sorceress, claiming to be a witch---though she know not yet the full weight of the terrible word. Naive, but forthright and courageous. Of subtlety she knows not, for the very idea is foreign to that pure child at heart. Swathed in black and white, but is it not folly to believe that all can be forgiven and wrote right, so easily? Aye, there is great fear in that one of wood, fey and mysterious."

Uhhh, dang...that "verse" kind of flew over your head, but basically you are looking for a witch in black and white, right? Like of the stupidly brave and upfront variety. Right?

"The other is hard to miss but easy to dismiss. White as the purest virgin snow, she is. A smile that shines as the brilliant sun but therein lies the deception. All things cast a shadow, wisely spoken by a man wiser than I. Not only in body, but so too in our imperfectly mingled spirit. That is our grief. Turn which ever way we will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Indeed, that light which shines is like darkness to us; darker than black. Aye, is it not wise then that men shut their doors against a setting sun?"

...

H-Hey, come to think of it, don't the both of them actually sound pretty dangerous? One is a threat from without and the other is the threat from within. Sure, you won't be bored but will everything turn out all right with "Bad" company like that? Tsk. That Rinnosuke what is trying to tell you here? How does he know these things in the first place?

"The choice is yours, Yorozuya no Gintoki-dono," the merchantman smiles, his glasses gleaming in the light. "Now, shall we be away, ol' chap? The night tires..."

Yeah...

"Oh, but before I forget, here take this."

You break from your own dreadful contemplations to be present with a curious item: an O-mamori. Amateurish and worn from use, it is a thing of red and white, bearing the name of Hakurei, as the woven body of the talisman hangs by a white string of cord.

"As you can tell as much, it is a protective amulet," Rinnosuke gives you a meaningful look. "I say, ol' chap, you can make much better use of it than I can. Consider it a sign of my trust and favor, for after all this was some thing gifted to me by Hakurei no Reimu herself some ten winters ago."

Whoa, O-Reimu made this as---a KID!?

"You look shocked. Does a little trinket like this really surprise you?"

"Well, yeah," you admit, marveling at the talisman.

"She was a born genius even by the standards of her clan, Gintoki-san, and amazingly enough, this little bugger has held onto his power throughout the long years. He pales in comparison to what Hakurei-san can produce nowadays, but is the sort of personal protection that is a must in tight scrapes."

Wow, this is some gift, but...

"Oi, Rinnosuke-san, no offense but what are you going to do without it? This is a pretty big deal, y'know? She gave it to you. I can't just-"

"Such modesty, ol' chap, but know this is not the first and last of many gifts she and I have exchanged in our---interesting acquaintance."

Ergh! ...You really don't know what to say to that. Getting jealous does not seem like a particularly productive thing to do, after all you have only been around for less than a week, so it should not be surprising that there are people out there who are in much warmer relations with your honorable landlady. Though, to be honest, it is a little depressing.

You wonder what her "cute" expressions look like? Man.

"Come now, we have refused and offered enough times already. Take it. I would not offer this to you, if I did not think you worthy. Gensokyo would become intolerably more dull without you, and I would be remiss as a horrible friend. It is rare enough to find an individual who can stand to be in my presence for any length of time beyond what is necessary for business."

And why the hell is that the case? Morichika no Rinnosuke, the savvy merchantman, was hardly what you would call a bore.

"And you know wot they say as an excuse, ol' chap?"

...H-Hey! Who messed with the lights? You swore you saw the illumination from the shikigami flicker for an instant, and-! Cold. Whoa, what is with this chill running up your spine? The hairs on the back of your neck are all standing on end, too. You scan your room, discreetly, your eyes flitting here and there, and see that the shadows appear to have lengthened. A disturbing sign that you pray is just a delusion on your part, more of the ugly curse business, but turning back to Rinnosuke, you are not so sure.

"I am a frightening man."

There was no cheer on his handsome face, now blooded only with cruel, sharp apathy.

---

System MSG: Congratulations, your bonds have grown stronger with the gentile merchantman, Morichika Rinnosuke, and so do you become more empowered, as the mystery darkens.

**The Morichika Rinnosuke Social Link of The Hierophant Arcana has risen to Rank 2!

You have been awarded a gift!

O-mamori of Hakurei ~ "A Little Fortune" - a protection amulet made by Reimu as a child some ten years ago. Old and worn from use, it is still quite potent, evident by the concentration of spiritual energy in its fibers. Type: Accessory. Effect(s): Must be equipped. +10% DMG Resistance to Danmaku, +5% DMG Resistance to Supernatural Weapons of Nihon origin.

And for your actions, Gain:

+ 3 pts of Understanding.

You are now very close to reaching a new level insight in your Understanding. Keep at it.

And...

+ "A Little Luck" - Among the many multitude of six-million odd gods in Nihon, it appears someone approves of your conduct, and as a sign of their cosmic favor, they have decided to cut you a little slack. Don't know who but "luck" is luck, right? Type: Consumable / Boon. Effect(s): Allows one re-roll on a failed check.

Also...

Congratulating, with your deepening wisdom, your title has changed to: "The Cool Inconstant Gardener"

Loading...

Current Pha---ERROR!?

...

Calibrating...

...

Current Phase: Afternoon - Overcast - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Who's there?", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Darkness.

Pitch black? No, you think, pitch wasn't anything like you were seeing. It was way too black, too dark, a Stygian "night" that filled this space, nowhere and everywhere, maybe, like crude black oil, milked from the bones of the dead. Yeah, it had to be that kind of stupidly ridiculous darkness, night concentrated without the bright lights in the night sky, no stars, given only by gazing into the boundless eternity.

Where the hell were you?

It's slick and cold, your skin clammy and breaking out in goosebumps all over.

Sweat?

It stinks all right. Pungent. Sickly. Sweet. Too sweet.

You don't have time to play around here. You have to get back to where you belong! ...but where do you belong?

...

Crap, you're joking, right? You. You can't remember. It's right there on the tip of your tongue, but...

...

Oi. OI. DON'T SCREW AROUND. Are you really going to be stuck here forever like this?

Ku ku ku ku ku ku...

That voice. A woman's? It...it sounds dangerous. Black.

Found~ you~, ku ku ku ku... It won't be much longer, mmm~, now.

RUN.

---

BGM Load: "Interstice of Time", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 3: FES OST

---

"Uwah!!"

You awake with a shout, bolting upright, bathed in the tang of sweat. Perceptions are muddy rainbow-hued sensation of noise, heat, discoloration, as you bend over, a quivering pale limb, bent out of focus, comes into view to clasp your face. Breath in, breath out; an awful moment passes, before a weary calm clouds your panic and bring you back to earth.

What the hell was that just now?

A worried whine comes from your bedside, inhuman and of a kind primal empathy that could not possibly be replicated by the human throat. In the light of day, you bleary eyes missed the figure and a few awkward moments passed before the owner of the snow white fur came into view. It is your cousin, Amaterasu no Kagura, minus all of her august trappings; a deceptively unordinary white wolf.

She barks, brightening visibly, at the conscious glimmer of recognition reflected in your eyes.

Agh, what an annoyingly cheery fellow to meet first thing in the morning, but you were grateful for the company. Better to have a happy idiot than a dry pessimist, as the latter medicine is what you would prefer to have to help get your bearings. Now, let's see what she has to say. Spiritual senses: SWITCH. ON!

"Hooray, Gin-chan~!" Kagura yips, her long brush-like tail swishing this way and that. You swear you see little happy yellow sunflowers blooming above her head. "Kagura was worried you'd never wakey-wakey up-aru."

It would have helped if she tried to wake you up.

"Uuuu, but Kagura did. Kagura really tried her best!" whines your cousin in protest, her ears drooping low to match her pitiful expression, as she sits there on her haunches. "Really, really, real~ly!"

Great, now you feel like the bad guy. It is way too early in the day to be feeling like a bad guy. You are cool, dammit. COOL!

"I believe ya, 'kay?" you deadpan, reaching a tired hand over to rub the she-wolf reassuringly on the head.

"Really?"

"Ya, really."

"Yeah~!"

Ah, if only everyone was so easy to please, your life would be a little simpler---though it would be awful boring too.

"Anyways, how long was I out?" you ask her, withdrawing your hand.

"Oh, oh, Kagura knows!" your cousin stands eagerly up on her four legs. "Um. See. Right now, it's the time when Amaterasu Oomikami-sama is highest in the sky!"

Holy hell, it is already that late? You have got to be kidding here.

"Where's Rinnosuke-san?" you rise out hurriedly from your futon, in spite of the protest of your weary body. Funny how you feel even more tired today than yesterday, huh? "Y'know, that cool human with the gray hair and glasses?"

"Oh, gentle strangeman? He was here before and told Kagura to take his spot. Gentle strangeman said he would come back about now or so. Work he had to do first, he told Kagura."

"Gentle Strangeman" she calls him? Why that? Argh, this is not the time to be trying to disassemble little trifle mysteries like that; your condition is worsening, evidently so. Though---why is your cousin still here at Hakurei Shrine? Then again, it is not as if you specified that she had to leave, and none of your retainers were just going to walk over your authority and show her the torii out, either. The latter were clearly divided two against two in a deadlock of power, unless Sui no Miku went up all the way to O-Reimu...

Dammit, now you are getting sidetracked. You should clean up, shower up, eat, and prepare for today's "trial". Knowing your luck, it is going to be far from a walk in the gar-

"Ne, ne, Gin-chan, are you okay?" Kagura concerned interjection breaks you free from your thoughts.

If you had been a more neurotic jerk, you might have snapped at her for such an interruption, instead you find yourself becoming worried. Was the symptoms of your condition becoming that obvious? What were you going to do when it came to face Machi-nee and Sikieiki?

"Gin...chan?"

"Uh, sorry. Zone out there for a bit," you reply hurriedly, moving to bundle up your futon and toss it away into your closet. "Got a lot of things on the brain."

"Uuu, Gin-chan, Kagura can smell it. You smell sick-aru...like rotting meat."

Sick? You? Is it really that bad?

"Don't worry it's getting taken care of, 'kay? I'm going out today to do just that."

Yeah. You are not out of time yet. You are just tried, can't sleep, and seeing weird delusions that's all. Nothing serious yet, right? You can still make it and make things right, again.

"Then, can Kagura come too?" your cousins beams at you with an eager smile.

Oh @#$%! Why did you have to say that aloud? Do you really want to risk it and get her involved even deeper in this business? This---this has got nothing to do with her. Sure, Amaterasu no Kagura is your cousin, distantly you might add, but she owes you zip, nadda, zero. Hell, you still owe plenty to her! Is it okay to get her involved with a questionable curse specializing Amoralist jerktown whatever just to help make sure you are cured of this daemonic curse that you put upon yourself in the first place?

"Please? Pl~ease? Kagura promises she won't get in the way. An adventure, an adventure! Kagura can smell a big adventure!"

That carefree idiot! This is not a picnic.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Let her come. At least the girl knows how to run when trouble shows up.
[] Persuade her not to come? <Write-in>
[] Refuse. You'd rather she not get roped into your mess, too. It's for her own good.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 96550
[X] Let her come. At least the girl knows how to run when trouble shows up.

Well I think having her around wouldn't be a bad idea in any case, though I think during the actual inspect I think Alice might make her wait out side.

As far Rinnosuke's suggestions, First is obviously Marisa, whom we helped out a time back

>"The other is hard to miss but easy to dismiss. White as the purest virgin snow, she is. A smile that shines as the brilliant sun but therein lies the deception. All things cast a shadow, wisely spoken by a man wiser than I. Not only in body, but so too in our imperfectly mingled spirit. That is our grief. Turn which ever way we will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Indeed, that light which shines is like darkness to us; darker than black. Aye, is it not wise then that men shut their doors against a setting sun?"

Still trying to figure out who this is.
>> No. 96558
[X] Let her come. At least the girl knows how to run when trouble shows up.
>> No. 96559
[x] Refuse. You'd rather she not get roped into your mess, too. It's for her own good.
>> No. 96596
>>96550
Assuming it's not Kagura, I'd say it was Akyuu.
>> No. 97048
File 125480395349.jpg - (157.80KB , 710x800 , 3823771.jpg ) [iqdb]
97048
---

System UPDATE:

"A few difficulties getting the mood, right."

Current Phase: Afternoon - Overcast - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

[X] Let her come. At least the girl knows how to run when trouble shows up.

---

The urge to bring your palm to your face in an exasperated exclamation is almost irresistable. That said, being the cool, nice guy you are, the more cool side of your ego deems this mishap far from being significantly "stupid" enough to "COOL! facepalm" over. Instead, you favor your cousin with a long hard look.

That droll, hopelessly carefree expression; this fellow in your humble opinion is totally unreliable. Her best skills by your reckoning are getting into trouble and running away when trouble shows up. By the latter's virtues, you could not deny her from coming along, as you would at least know who's lead to follow in a hasty retreat.

"Fine," you say with a heavy sigh, "you can come. Just don't be a pain to Rinnosuke-san, all right?"

"Ehhhh? Why, why?" Kagura yips right back at you, cocking her head aside as an obligatory question mark pops over her head. Not that the aforementioned curiosity dulls her eagerness, if anything she is rearing even more to go now. "Is it a secret? Kagura loves secrets-aru!"

"Nothin' like that, you silly fluffy head. We got some serious business to handle, namely me."

"Awww, but what about Akyuu-kyuu? We could go play with her today~!"

Man, how troublesome.

"I'd love to, but I'm kind of running out of time here, if you haven't noticed."

"Oh, sorry-sorry; Kagura's kin always said Kagura was a little spacey about little things, hee hee hee."

That's nothing to be proud about and grinning like a dunce over either, sweetie. Oh well, no use in dawdling any longer, for it was about time you started your day. Hopefully, an ordinary morning routine of fulfilling your basic needs will revitalize you some before the savvy merchantman returns. Worst-case scenario? It was going to be a long, long day.

"Kagura, do me a favor and ask the kami if they could fire up some brunch in the kitchen for four, would ya? I'm going to go take care of myself, while they do that."

"Wooooooooo~! FOOD! FOOD! Gin-chan can count on Kagura-aru!"

How you wish you could be so carefree some times. Well, maybe things will get easier after this whole crisis is over with; you can't wait to spend a few quite days here at the shrine for a change without a worry in the world.

---

Right on cue, Morichika no Rinnosuke arrived as both yourself and your cousin were tucking in for an impromptu "brunch". It was a small victory of principle that you were willing to savor, for your efforts to improve your own condition had failed quite miserably. The aches and pains of your muscles were worsening, impeding even the simplest of movements, a fact you managed to hide admirably, and you found yourself yawning more frequently. Of course, at the rate you were deteriorating, you imagine by tomorrow or the day after you will no longer be able to hide your progressive weariness at all.

The merchantman, oddly, did not ask about your wellness. He appeared to know plenty from just a glance and seemed relieved enough to see you up and awake. After the meal, a peaceful affair punctuated by a few delighted yips and yawns from your cousin, Rinnosuke discreetly presses a stack of golden ryou into your hands, completing your transaction from the other day, before bidding that you make preparations for the trip.

When asked of where your destination lay today, he assures you not to fret yourself unnecessarily, simply preparing for the worst was enough on your plate. This time you could not hate to agree with him. Why you swear just thinking about things was starting to raise up the beginning of a headache. Just for today, you would not mind if other people did most of the difficult stuff for you.

Packed and ready to go in roughly an hour, dressed in your usual attire instead of a borrowed kimono, Rinnosuke raises an eyebrow at the company of your cousin. A full minute or two of yipping and pleading passes, before you get the picture that the savvy gent, apparently so, does not understand a single word coming out of her mouth. In fact, you do not recall ever formally introducing your cousin to him, so you decide to cut him a little slack with a quick, sweet brief.

Morichika no Rinnosuke's brows lift quite a lot once comprehension dawns upon his acute mind. The man offers a swift bow before affectionately rubbing Kagura under the chin, whispering a sheepish apology. You are not quite sure what he thought but at least he did not mind having the white fluffy she-wolf of the sun coming along on the trip.

Yawn. Man. So. Sleepy!

The trip flashes by... Almost literally, really, in a blur of...

"Gin...W...ake---uP!" a garbled voice blares into your senses.

Noise, zoom in, zoom out, FWHOOSH, static, crumpling paper, a mountain explodes aflame, water drains, a river churns, feathers flutter, the devil in the black dress-

"GINTOKI!" the voice wrenches you back with a rough pull on your shoulders.

That said, your senses do a literal reset, going blank, before flickering back with an unerring clarity. Confusion spins your thoughts in a blissful waltz of unknowing curiosity, scouring all about you for facts, something tangible to anchor yourself to the moment. The acrid pangs of panic dig in to your guts, raking like hooks, that threaten to hurl you off your center, but once again you are rescued by another.

"Fortunes wot, man, get a hold of yourself!" again, those hands pull and this time you notice who has been standing in front of you all along.

"Rin-Rinnosuke...san?" you gape, your voice hoarse and oddly foreign to yourself. Man, you felt out of it, seriously.

"Tsk, you are deteriorating, ol' chap," he mutters aloud in terse tones. "Even faster than we anticipated."

You gulp, biting on the inside of your lip in consternation; that was definitely not the sort of news you wanted to hear so soon.

"Uh, tsk... Where. Are we?" you ask him in a hushed anxious, uneasy voice. The word fumbling should pass, hopefully, in a few minutes.

"Outside my branc at the Forest of Magick," Rinnosuke replies, stepping away from you to offer you an unobstructed view.

Sure enough, the perspective of this particular trail seemed sorta nostalgic. Hard to believe it has only been a few days since you last passed through here. The main difference, obviously, was your present company, Amaterasu no Kagura included who sat on her haunches a little ways ahead of you both, with a concerned expression and a noticeably tense agitation in her shoulders. In fact, all of her snow white fur seemed to standing on end.

You wonder if she was having doubts now about coming all the way out here but had too much pride to back out.

"Gintoki, do you remember anything about your trip here? What time do you think it is?"

Ah, good man, that savvy Morichika, with his perfect timing, and knowing exactly that you needed a distraction for yourself. So taking his cue, you set about trying to gather your thoughts on the subject, and that is when the grim realization hits you harder than a crashing fall off a high cliff. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, suffice to say.

The woes of your youth.

"Nothing. Just us passing through the torii of the shrine, then... Nothing."

He nods solemnly. But that just won't do now, will it? You were the cool, nice guy. The friggin' life of the party!

"As for the time," you manage to a dry grin, "hell, man, do I look like a walking---Kro-Nom-Mei-Ter?"

Ugh, the foreign word grates roughly out, but a guy as smart as Rinnosuke ought to know what you mean. Chronometer. He smiles wanely, a positive sign though not quite as positive as you hoped, but you would take your small victories where you could snatch 'em. Yeah, things were looking bad, but you were far from giving up.

You had way too much to live for to give up now.

"Well, to be fair, ol' chap, I say it is three in the afternoon. We spent a bit o' time, as my eccentric father would remark, over tea getting the proper preparations done. Trying to dampen that natural Augustness of yourselves took a lot of more work than I anticipated, but fear not, I stand firmly by my work. The denizens of the fey wood should not have a clue you two persona non grata are here, unless they are right on top of us."

Yeah, that's right. The last time you came through here you had to use that Empty Your Boat mantra-trick to make your passage possible. For whatever reasons, the feral locales around here really did not like your kind, which would explain your cousin's anxiety. She must have thought your final destination would be somewhere---less perilous.

"I admit I have never forayed to her home, with extra company, before, so what would normally be a two hour trek at maximum may extend to three or four hours. It will be dark by then, methinks, and the forecast does not look terribly promising, ol' chap. You can imagine how uncivilized the buggers that lurk in this place can be at night, eh?"

Dang, he is an impeccable time keeper too? That's cool. It ain't a bad thing to have an awesome rival to measure yourself up against every now and then.

"Well, I bet we can smooth talk this specialist fella of yours in putting up with us overnight. It would be bothersome as hell for her, if she lost one of her best middle men and a possible business proposition in one go, if you know what I mean."

The bespectacled man lets loose a hearty chuckle at your cool, pragmatic sentiment. That's more like the Rinnosuke you have come to know.

"It shall be so, ol' chap; it shall be so. Come along then. Away we go. Make sure your cousin and yourself stay close, as if you were my shadows. It would be most unpleasant if were to become separated, yes?"

Lead the way, Governor. Though as you follow him down the trail towards your cousin under the cover the evergreen canopy, a curious thought occurs to you: shouldn't Morichika no Rinnosuke be traveling with some bodyguards? This was dangerous country. Sure, you were flattered he had that much faith in the battle prowess of yourself, and perhaps, your cousin too. Still, it seemed a bit irrational to go trooping through a literal living hive of danger in a small ragtag group.

And what's this about preparations? What did he do exactly to help mask your augustness? You had no idea he had proficiencies in other fields beyond business and the fine art of socializing. Would it be too absurd to think that the guy could handle himself in a fight? ...but where his weapons? Even you did not fight barehanded!

Occupied with such thoughts, you are mercifully spared from the onset of the heavy, oppressive atmosphere that poisons the air, as your party of three ventures off the pseudo-trail and deeper into the Forest of Magick. The unfortunate honor of experiencing this dread firsthand falls instead to your cousin, who is also the most hardest hit amongst your little group. Being a descendant of the Sun Goddess, clearly, had its drawback for a change.

Had you noticed, you would have the fear radiating through every fiber of her being, as she lost the usual tell-tale signs of her great progenitor's favor. Her pure snow-white coat dulled to a gray, the tattoo-like red marks faded away, and soon, she was no more than an ordinary wolf, alone and frightened, in an unforgiving environment. All she had to fall back on was instinct, assuming she had not unlearned all of them.

It would not be wrong to hypothesize that the Forest of Magick was cutting of her link to Amaterasu Oomikami quite literally, as Rinnosuke's cautious steps carried you ever deeper into the mysterious fey wood.

Hardly, a sliver of light penetrated through the imposing cover of the ancient, gnarled trees, whose mighty roots jutted out haphazardly all over, forcing the savvy merchantman to pick his way even more carefully, as the going got rougher. Followed you did without a thought: up and down slopes, over broken, rotting logs, sliding down mats of moss into dry river beds, and jumping across seemingly stagnant pools of standing water. The only reliable illumination came from the strange, mystical light emitted by those crystalline growths you spotted the other day.

Deeper in the wood, some of the specimens here grew nearly to the size of great boulders, practically small houses. They pulsed, with an audible hum, typically in shades of green and a faint orange. There was no natural ambiance to speak of that you might find in a normal forest. What was there instead was tension, liking creeping through a house full of strangers in their sleep, snoring deeply, but knowing one false move could wake everyone up in an angry fit.

Aye, the whole thing stank of the unnatural, not that you noticed any of it. Your mind was occupied quite happily with puzzling the growing mysteries of Morichika no Rinnosuke. What a shame he could not be your nakama for this particular adventure. Well, it was not as if you were hero worshiping him, but it seemed your male role models as of late shared quite a bit in common: what with both golden-eyed gents being cool eccentric men of experience.

You had to respect, totally, that they were willing to give you a chance and let you make mistakes, you as your own man, instead of babysitting you every step of the way. It would be beyond cool the day you can stand with him as equals, brothers-in-arms so to speak. In the meantime, you suppose you will just have to settle for being the trouble magnet of a little brother: both in life and with women, so it seemed---

SNAP.

---

BGM Load: "Borderline of Madness", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Oh, that did not sound good, not one bit at all; a sentiment equally shared by your cousin's pitiful whine, her ears drooping low, as you are snapped back to reality. The expectation was it had been either yourself or your cousin who had blundered. What actually happened was on the contrary: Morichika no Rinnosuke had misstepped and he was cursing up quite the unintelligible swarm.

Not that you had any plans to needle him for it; you have made plenty of mistakes yourself, and the guy did say he has never lead a whole gaggle through this place on foot before. To err is human. Besides, what was done is done, suck it up, and move on. Dragging your feet at present time was not recommended, definitely, when a clear and present danger seemed to rearing its ugly head all around.

The forest seemed to be waking from a long slumber, punctuated by guttural snorts, thrashing underbrush, and all sorts of cacophonous unpleasantness. More disturbing though was the sudden drop in light, too quick, too unnatural; illumination was already scarce and dim, but this phenomenon---you swear you have experienced it before.

Ii-hihi, iii hii hi hi hi hi hi~! Is that so~?

That creepy crawly voice that makes you wanna hoof it or lose it! IT. It couldn't be, especially at this craptacular minute? You have got to be joking, Ebisu. Right?

"For once, my vocabulary fails me," Rinnosuke messages his temples in dark humor, "for I cannot describe my present contempt for that slothful, simple-minded lass. I was hoping we would not be so unfortunate as to cross paths with her at the eve of sunset, for she is impetuously unreasonable right when she wakes up. Ugh."

The sun was setting? T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C.

"Uuuu, G-Gin-chan, Ka-Kagura, y'know, is scared," your cousin's fear is palpable in a literal pathetic waterfall of tears. In a way, it was a good thing, as the poor she-wolf was expressing an unsaid sentiment by the whole band. Nobody wanted this to happen. "C-Can't we run-aru?"

"And that is exactly what the two of you shall do, I say. Alice's home is not far from here."

Wait, what the? Rinnosuke does understand what Kagura is saying? Since when? GAH. ...Wait, "Alice" who?

"Here, Kagura-san, smell this. It's a handkerchief she gave to me recently. Can you track her scent?"

Just a sniff and your cousin was filled instantly with new courage. You hate to see you are right, but it appears her other special skill was running away, after all.

"Uoooooohhhhh! This is really fresh. Unn! Kagura can do it with this-aru. C'mon, Gin-chan, let's run!"

"Wait a minute, what about-" you try to protest. Things were moving way too fast and fluid for your taste.

Couldn't you have a moment to think things through here.

"I will take responsibility for this. Now, go. There is no time for arguments!"

Looks like that was a no, but...

Iihihihihi~! I know, let's play a game: Ka~gome, Ka~gome, the bird in the cage~.

"HURRY!"

His infuriated bark was not a suggestion but a command. There was no thinking, no protest from you this time, your body moving well before your conscious thought, motivated by a primal bone chilling ice, threatening to tear out your guts and hang you by your entrails---that could only be: FEAR. Your courage fails, and so, you run. Even your cousin is caught in the same bout of madness, shooting off ahead of you like a bolt of gray.

Thankfully, the two of you do not diverge from the same path. Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, and run some more, getting as far away as divinely possible from the danger behind you; it was all you could think of. If it were not for the shock of nearly tripping over an infernal root in your path, you probably would have run all the way to the ends of the earth. Instead, you come to a dead halt, breathing hard.

For a long tense pause, you are completely alone, before a glimmer of gray bursts through some nearby brush, scarring the hell out of you. Somehow though, you managed to only give out the satisfaction of a wordless scream and almost jumping out of your skin. The culprit is your cousin who seemed to have regained her senses.

"G-Gin-chan, i-idiot! Don't f-f-fall behind like that," she chastises you, her golden eyes seemingly aglow with mania. Wonder if she managed to scare herself, too? "C'mon, c'mon, let's go already-aru! W-we're not safe here."

"No duh, lassie," you wheeze out her, tersely.

"Uuuu~, we've got to go now-aru! Don't let nice glasses man's kindness go to waste, Gin-chan!"

Kindness? She called this kindness? That smooth jerkface made the both of you run off without him. How dare he make that kind of selfishly selfless decision all by himself?! ...but looking at your cousin... Dang, she looks scared as hell, way worse than you, like she's going to have a breakdown any moment.

Man, what are you going to do? This whole situation right now stinks!

Choose...

[] You go on ahead, Kagura-chan. Be safe, ya hear? I'm going back to help that guy. If it is who I think it is, he is going to need all the help he can get!
[] As smart as it would be to run like hell, who's going to bail out Kourin if things go south? That's just not cool (and so not like you at all). Besides, if whoever gets past him, there's no guarantee you two won't be next. Let's go back, hide nearby, and watch for a perfect chance to jump in. We can do this. Trust me!
[] Ack, sorry. Lost my head for a second there. Let's keep going! Rinnosuke'll be just fine, you bet. Right?
[] ??????

---
>> No. 97080
[X] Panic
>> No. 97089
[x] Ack, sorry. Lost my head for a second there. Let's keep going! Rinnosuke'll be just fine, you bet. Right?

Not to sound haartless, but he wants us to get to Alice's place, and we're not in that good of a condition to help him. Alice would perhaps be able to help better.

That and the little Terror Rumia only cares for one real target: Gin, and thus won't exert her fullest efforts on Rinnosuke.

In short, we should do as he says.
>> No. 97092
[X] Ack, sorry. Lost my head for a second there. Let's keep going! Rinnosuke'll be just fine, you bet. Right?
[X]After you get to Alice's house, ask Kagura to go look for Rinnosuke, you can take it from here.
>> No. 97106
[x] Ack, sorry. Lost my head for a second there. Let's keep going! Rinnosuke'll be just fine, you bet. Right?
>> No. 97342
File 125504365999.png - (19.65KB , 400x400 , dda6816296167773e201701a8b592ca9.png ) [iqdb]
97342
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Ack, sorry. Lost my head for a second there. Let's keep going! Rinnosuke'll be just fine, you bet. Right?

Current Phase: Dusk - Stormy - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

---

Dammit, you did not like the way this mess was panning out at all, but Rinnosuke being Rinnosuke, that guy could not have made such a heavy decision lightly. After all, the savvy merchantman did not seem one bit like that type to go selling his life so cheaply. He must have some kind of plan to deal with that wretched youkai of "darkness", or otherwise it would be a damn foolishly brave thing he did sending you all away.

Believe; you just had to believe him, as he believes in you. Hopefully, the bespectacled nitwit also believed in himself. The alternative was just too cruel to imagine. How in the world were you even going to explain to O-Reimu that because of your weakness you helped send her childhood acquaintance straight to an early grave?

Bitterly, you force a sheepish smile on your face.

"Ack, sorry 'bout that, Kagura," you say to your cousin, "I lost my head for a second there. Totally uncool, yeah?"

Your self-depreciation as it turns out was exactly what the doctor ordered to lighten the mood, for Amaterasu no Kagura had the presence of mind now to be embarrassed.

"Uuuu~, it's not like Kagura's acting like a good alpha either," the she-wolf admits with an abject droop of her ears.

What a miserable pair you two made, but this was not the time to be sulking.

"But you're right. Let's not waste any more of the time he bought us. Rinnosuke-san'll manage just fine, heh. Got to believe in the man, y'know?"

No further words need be said and the two of you set off into the darkening gloom as the rumble of thunder echoes in the distance. Some might say it was heartless to leave a man behind, but the very same man wanted you to get to this "Arisu" as soon as possible in the first place, not that you were going to leave him hanging. That would just be UN-cool. Uh-uh. Not going to happen on your watch.

If you could not help him, then Alice sure as hell will go pull his savvy bacon out of the fire.

So with renewed vigor, you forge ahead, following the gray silhouette of your cousin, through the rough terrain. In this particular part of the forest of fey, there was not a whole lot of flora to speak of, almost barren save for the dirt and the presence of ever more grotesque trees of some ancient eminence. The bark an ash gray and the trunks so thick that you imagine not even oni with a prized axe or three would be able to fell them. They were imposing monstrosities casting baleful, disapproving shadows at all who trespass.

On occasion, or perhaps it was a delusion on your part, you swear you see their roots shift and pulse through the forest floor. But the queerness does not end there, for you note the presence of crystal formations was increasing in frequency and concentration. Where you looked there they were, like invasive cancerous growths glowing in the dark. Something strange was afoot here in this fairie wood and you did not like it one bit.

Alas, now was not the time or the place to consider such a quest; it would have to wait for another time. Onward: farther and deeper into the wyrd you went, praying silently that Amaterasu no Kagura's prized nose was not about to fail her now. Like it or not, your very prayer was soon answered. Forcefully.

Crash!

Just like that in an instant flash of white, all the air in your lungs and guts was driven from your body, as if you had just slammed into an extraordinarily stubborn wall, fit for a fortress. Every bone and tissue protested terribly in a debilitating wave of pain that sent you flopping, like a sack of sand, straight onto the unmerciful earth. Well, the latter would have happened, normally, except there was a small mercy this time: you landed in grass, a well trimmed and cared for---the term surfaces---"Lawn" in fact.

It was green, matted with a touch of dew, and utterly ordinary. You never thought being able to smell such a mundane thing could have such a wholesome affect on your sanity, easing you into a lull of comfort. Kagura, too, seemed to be inclined to agree with you, lying not too far away in a similarly helpless state of affairs.

"O-Oi..." you call out to her in a hoarse, pained wheeze. "Still...l-livin' over, ugh, there?"

The she-wolf's reply was pitiable whine. Hey, if she was healthy enough to do that, then that perfectly suited your definition of living at the moment. Though out of common curiosity, just where were you two?

With a struggling effort, you manage to crane your head up to get a look around your surroundings. It was a clearing, perfect and uniform, covering quite a bit of land, maybe an acre or so. Obviously, such a locale could not be naturally occurring, but it sure as hell felt a lot more "right" than the haunt you just came from. Here, you could tell for certain night had fallen and a many a cloud blotted out the sky, foreboding of the rain to come, if that rolling thunder you heard seemingly an eternity ago was not just for show.

Could this "Arisu" you seek have made this place? The chances of finding ground so level and untouched was next to none, considering the sights you encountered in your recent trek. No out of place overgrown roots, none of those eerie crystals---why there was not even a weed in sight! If she did all of this by herself, than she was no ordinary person to have been able to conquer her very own territory in the fey's mysterious, forsaken wilderness.

"Ngghhh, G-Gin-chan," Kagura groans at you. "L-Look. Over there. It's a human...uh, den. Big. Den."

A den? Oh. It's a house. A freaking straight up gaijin-style house! Holy sweet Buddha, not only did she manage to clear and level this wild, ancient land, but she built a house---a big one at that too, three stories tall---all the way out here? Wait. Four stories. Huge. Has a paved stone path in fact cutting across the lawn in your direction. Bushes. A terrace. Hey, isn't this thing what they call a "Mansion"?

Ugh, now you are reminded of your trip to the Scarlet Devil Mansion, except that place was way bigger and ostentatious than Alice's own abode. The more accurate term you think for Baroness Scarlet's piece of ridiculous real estate would be a grand villa. Bottom line though, both of these parties had to be ridiculously wealthy and-or powerful to be able to afford such luxuries.

Question is, were you going to have a repeat of the previous incident all over again? Goodness, you hope to Ebisu not. Now, is so not the time He ought to be screwing you over for kicks.

"Kagura, can you move?" you ask her.

"Don't wanna-aru~..." the she-wolf groans right back at you, petulantly.

"Well, nothing's going to get done, if we both lay around here all night, silly."

Amaterasu no Kagura groaned some more. Guess even wolves had their limits; clearly, she was not used to have such an awful time, though you wish you were not so acclimatized to the unfortunate happenings in life.

"Stick around if you want. I'll come back or I'll send someone to take you into the house in a bit."

Again, her reply was nonverbal, but she had no plans to move at the moment. Whatever you two had just experienced was still taking a harsh toll on her, and without the blessings of Amaterasu Oomikami, she would need quite a bit more time to recover fully. As for yourself, well, moving is easier said than done, but manageable, just barely.

You discard your pack next to your cousin to make the going a little easier, striding forwards in a fast, limping gait that slowly but surely cuts the span at a decent clip. Soon, you are confronted by your first obstacle: a pair of great wooden double doors, sturdy and stern. They were ridiculous big in fact, much more than necessary for the needs of an average human. The only means you had to getting anyone's attention was a pair of ornate door knockers, made of wrought iron in caricatures of serious, scowling men of indeterminate age with bushy beards and mustaches to match.

The imagery was a bit shocking, for the artist's meticulous work made them seem awful lifelike, making you hesitant to utilize the furnishings. Your courage, however, prevails against such trivial fear. You gulp and decide to take the next step, come what-

"Hold!" a vast booming voice stops you cold in mid-reach. "Who dares trespass in the Realm of Prima Facie at first sight?"

There is no doubt it is a man, bombastic and proud. For a moment, you fear it is the door knockers of all things speaking to you, suddenly sprung to life. ...You are little bit disappointed to see that your dread was not the case, and when the man speaks no more, you become vexed to discover that he appears to be waiting for your timely response. How polite of him, huh?

"Uh... What's up?" you try to start things over on a more casual note.

"The sky, rogue!"

Wherever this guy is, he sure takes things literally, not to mention isn't it awful rude of him to accuse someone he just met a vagrant and a rogue? ...You didn't look anything like that, did you now?

"For the record, I'm employed, Mister Talks Loud Literally, so would you mind coming out from wherever you are? Last I checked, in Nihon, it's polite to speak with someone face to face---unless you have plans to stab them in the back. ...You're not planning to do that, are you?"

"Hu hu hu hu, do not think I am of so easy choler to be baited by your dissembly. State your purpose---before I deem you an abhorrent knave!"

Okay, either this guy was bluffing or he really could do some major damage mano-a-mano, and you were not interested in finding out. Rinnosuke was still hanging, so if this guy wanted to blow off some steam, you had just the proposition for him.

"Easy there, buddy. Be cool, be cool, ya hear? I think there's just been a little bit of miscommunication is all. You know a fella named Morichika no Rinnosuke?"

"Hnnn. Mayhap. Mayhap not."

"Well, he says he knows the---difficult eccentric who lives in this here mansion, and on my behalf, Rinnosuke-san called in a favor to set me up an appointment. I'm today's client, Yorozuya no Gintoki, and I do hereby request an audience with Arisu-"

That was about as far as you got to speak.

"EN GARDE, YE!"

Now, if the guy had not been aiming to miss you in the first place, he would have gotten you good because the onset of his sudden battle cry, a fair warning perhaps, only helped to send you reeling in awkward backstep and slip. Wet grass and boots, apparently so, was a recipe for disaster ending up with you falling flat on your rear with an undignified yelp. Ouch. That actually hurt quite a bit too.

Any curses you had though were silenced by the metallic whistle of a great golden blade being brandished at your face by its royally pissed master.

"Hark! and listen well, foul vagrant: do not make the mistake of speaking Her Ladyship's noble name so familiarly again, with your uncouth tongue! I, Meta Knight, guardian of the realm and Her loyal vassal shall not suffer another insult upon my Lady and will part your vile organ from thee."

Make that a very short and unusual master; your wit fails you, as you struggle to comprehend the appearance of this miniature "knight".

Fortunes, what the hell is a knight anyways and was this guy-thingie for real about picking a fight with you over such a little thing? Then again, in the Polite world, as you have come to learn from reading the Gentleman's Way, such little things did mean a lot, though some folks take their jobs way too seriously, you swear. More to the point, that golden sword...your gut tells you it was not just for show and would sure as hell make your day very unhappy, if you went up against it. Vicious. Super vicious. Though it seems awfully familiar, like a variation of the ten-handed sword of legend, Kusanagi no Tsurugi.

Ah, but you digress: how nice that you have chilled out in the past few days into a cool, all natural nice guy, huh? Diplomacy first; fighting after that, and if worse comes to worse, well, let's not think about that.

"Ya~, take it easy, man," you try your best mollifying smile, holding up your hands in open neutrality. "I didn't mean anything by it, I swear. I heard her name from Rinnosuke-san is about all. It's my fault for assuming. Apologies, eh?"

With his expression hidden behind a silver mask that left only a pair of almost glowing yellow eyes peering out between the V-shaped eye slit, it is hard to read Meta Knight's response at all. Just what manner of dwarfed youkai is he, anyways? Is he even a youkai? You can't tell. Though he's some darn awesome combination of cute and cool. Must be real popular with kids and girls, so you imagine.

The guardian of the realm sheathes his blade, where it goes nobody knows, and leaps back a touch, drawing his cape about his armored person in a moody flourish.

"Speak, Man of Yorozuya; I shall hear you."

Well, dang, where should you start? Time was of the essence, so...

Choose..

[] Request asylum for your party.
[] Give Meta Knight a brief explanation what's transpired.
[] Man, I beseech you as the Guardian of the Realm: you've got to help Kourin!
[] Danna, I need to speak with Her Ladyship at once!
[] ??????

---
>> No. 97349
[x] Give Meta Knight a brief explanation what's transpired.

It's getting crazier and crazier, not to say that's a bad thing.

But JE, I wonder why you stopped voting on that story of Wiseman's.
>> No. 97378
[x] Give Meta Knight a brief explanation what's transpired.

Let's see how this crossover plays out. This could be horrible. Or it could be awesome.
>> No. 97407
[x] Request his and his ladyship's help in saving Rinnosuke Morichika. Your own business can wait.
>> No. 97987
File 125537464061.jpg - (46.91KB , 250x333 , 6240578.jpg ) [iqdb]
97987
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Give Meta Knight a brief explanation what's transpired.

"To be frank, I lost interest in Wise's narrative and protagonist as a whole. It just was not my style."

Current Phase: Evening - Thunder - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

---

Tsk, you get the feeling you were not going to get much of anything out of this guy, like some lame duck city bureaucrat, unless he had some solid facts to go on. Might as well try to fill him in, briefly and quickly that is.

"Uhh, Naito-san, I don't really have time to explain," you begin, the foreign word a touch crude on your tongue, with a sheepish tic of your brow, "but basically, I've got an appointment today with your Ladyship arranged by Morichika no Rinnosuke, my buddy ol' pal. Being the awesome savvy gent he is, he offered to escort me and my tag-along cousin here to today, but-"

"Man of Yorozuya, I sense many 'but's' from your tongue," Meta Knight interjects, his voice oddly deep and amplified coming forth from that silver mask. You expected him to sound more muffled, not to actually sound louder and meaner. "And for the matter, it is KNIGHT-dono (if it must be in the fashion of Zipang)! ...But do continue."

"I'll remember it for future reference----ah! but what I meant to say is that Rinnosuke is in serious trouble right now in the woods. You gotta help him out. I'll even come with you, if-"

"That wilt not be necessary."

Geez, and he said he would listen to what you had to say. Isn't this more like he's listening to just what he wants to hear and interrupting you at will? Ugh. At least, you are not the bad guy here. You will make sure the little dwarfed knight of cool gets his lesson from his mistress no less, if he keeps pushing it in.

...But what if this is his way of teasing people? A sadist? Eh? EH!?

"Uhh, come again?" you ask in joking tones. He was not serious, right? About just leaving Kourin out there to hang on his own fate?

"A knight never lies, Man of Yorozuya," those yellow eyes blink at you without an ounce of humor, "but if you should believe that your heart as wavered, I say it once more: that wilt not be necessary."

...Oi. That, just now, was totally uncool.

"There are jokes, danna, and then, there are some jokes you should never make in the first place-"

"Do not misunderstand, O Silver-haired Knave."

Geh. Again! He did it again! Interrupting you on purpose. What the heck is this little chibi's problem?

"Don't misunderstand, you say? You are the one creating a big, big, BIG misunderstanding."

Crap, that came off a little bit too hot. Gotta stay cool. Cool and Proper. Don't forget about Kagura, too.

"Hmph, how little you see," the little knight throws the folds of his cape open in the ensuing gale in an almost contemptuous cut. Thus, a moody fluttering effect for emphasis is produced; more badass than you would care to admit aloud. Touche. "Do not fret, young scoundrel, your companion is far more capable than his mild-mannered appearance. That is all."

"Man, he does not even have a weapon! Last I saw he had the whole neighborhood's worth of ferals and a real deal creepy as hell youkai coming after him, and you're telling I shouldn't worry? Is something wrong with your head?"

"As for your appointment..." he went right on talking without missing a beat. What a sonuva-

Click.

As if they were the immovable gates of Rashoumon themselves, the great double doors of mahogany eased upon with a ponderousness worthy of a citadel's finest defenses.

"There is thy answer from Her Ladyship. You may step inside the Great Hall. I shall go anon to retrieve your cousin and your luggage---assuming that pitiful wolf is the former."

The sight within... It was light, but not the kind of light you were used to at all.

"Go forth, the rain cometh."

Yes, up on those crystal-like chandeliers; they had to be... Light bulbs?!

---

System: Loading...

Current Phase: Evening - Rain - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

BGM Load: "Rimelight", Daisuke Ishiwatari - BlazBlue ~The Calamity Trigger~ LE OST

---

To be frank, you did not know what to make of this mansion, belonging to "Alice". In fact, you were still a bit hung up on just being told to let Rinnosuke be on his own, not that it was a bad thing, you think. So what if you got a little bit of possessive and worrisome over your friends? By human standards, it was the normal thing to do, but the hard part was knowing when to let go.

Sigh.

If something happens that makes O-Reimu cry, you swear to the Six Million Gods of Nihon that you will haunt the savvy bastard in his next life. Practice what you preach, dammit!

"I never knew that a man could be fond of a woman's expression," the cool imperious voice of Meta Knight interjects with a dry laugh.

Oiiiiiii! What was that supposed to mean, huh? Look, even Kagura was groaning her agreement on the totally complicating statement.

"Hey, you, anyone ever tell you that you are not very honest with your feelings?" you seethe back in reply.

"Hence, the necessity of a helmet, for within its armored vanity, a knight has all the sanctuary he could ask for in his duty."

This chivalrous bastard... He was serious, wasn't he? In a way, he was kind of right too, that little dark blue---"Armored Marshmallow". Doh! You should not be bantering with this guy back forth the whole dang time, or else you will miss out on all the details around you. After all, they say you can tell a lot about the owner of a home by just looking around.

This "Alice"---she was definitely a different ball game from Remilia Scarlet. The Scarlet Devil Mansion seemed to pride itself in shadows and duplicity, but here was light and transparency. But it was not warm, cold, or hot. The best you can say was a buzzing lukewarm. Something surgical, almost impersonal, yet searching with a certain peculiar intent. Why the atmosphere teased at nostalgia in a dreamy way.

That said, the mistress of this exquisite mansion had some eccentric tastes all unto herself. There were "humans" here, so life-like that you mistook the caricatures to be real. She had them posted here and there, fully clothed in the manner of fashionable mannequins, admiring some painting or priceless antique. Those were the guests. She had servants too.

To add icing on the cake of your weird-o-meter, you swear the bloody things are moving. When you turn away long enough and look back to particular spot, the faux porcelain madam had disappeared along with the butler next to her. Strange. Very, very strange.

"You may rest here in the Easter Hall, until summoned, Man of Yorozuya," Meta Knight addresses you, after setting Kagura down on the carpet before a roaring fire place.

Here: the artificial lighting from those "light bulbs", hanging in the chandeliers above, is much more subdued. The presence of such an modern amenity continues to confound your "common sense" for its existence and your very knowledge of it is a near irreconcilable contradiction. Why the only thing more problematic was how absurdly easy it was for the little knight with his rotund body and truncated limbs to heft both the she-wolf and your belongings over his shoulders!

Though to call the "Easter Hall" just an overgrown living room would be a disservice to its grandeur, for once again no expense had been spared. The theme here appeared to be of nature and "The Great Hunt"; there was a fair share of trophies on display, and once more, awed "admirers" to go along with the fantastic beasts, littered amongst the many arm chairs and sofas. Artwork of landscapes and larger than life figures also adorned the walls, though these were---faded, much like the other works you have espied.

Come to think of it, the human-ish mannequins (see, some sported wings, tails, horns, etc.) also had the same faded quality, namely you could not read their faces at all. What did it all mean? Or were you just looking for meaning where there was none to be found?

"Thanks," you reply, as he sets your pack down. Glancing at your cousin, though, a curious thought comes to mind; one that you cannot help but voice out. "By the way, is she going to be all right?"

At your word, a mirthless chuckle echoes from behind his silver mask. "[i]Fu
, I would ask the same of you. Why is it thou ist not of the same condition as this---she-wolf?"

...Okay, it is probably a good thing she fell asleep at some point earlier. Who knew she was so tired? That way Amaterasu no Kagura won't see if you happen to lose your cool, right about now that is.

"Oi, what do you mean by that, Naito-dono?"

"It is KNIGHT-dono!" the yellow-eyed marshmallow-man raises his voice sharply to a seething hiss. Wonder if he's a stickler for proper pronunciation, eh? Then again, this is a guy who has a habit of sprinkling bits of archaic language in when he speaks. "As for thy cousin, she is as she should be after entering this guarded realm without explicit permission. We do not take kindly to uninvited guests."

"Well, I probably wouldn't like it either if someone I don't know shows up uninvited, but you're dodging the question, danna."

"An answer given between strangers is an empty one. I seeketh merely to educate thee."

Okay, something happened to Kagura that should have happened to you, too. She is sleeping, passed out, but you are up about like nothing ever happened. What are you missing here? Something happened between you running away with her and getting here.

What was it?

Choose...

[] Hey... We ran straight into a kekkai, isn't that right?
[] Forget it. I'd rather not know. As long as she's okay in the morning, I'll let this slide.
[] Man, why are you such a pain in the you-know-what?
[] Staring Contest of Cool. NOW.
[] Change the Subject <Write-in>
[] Just wait in silence. If the knight doesn't want to talk, fine. You'll just make sure to get a straight answer out of Her Ladyship.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 98001
[x] Just wait in silence. If the knight doesn't want to talk, fine. You'll just make sure to get a straight answer out of Her Ladyship.
>> No. 98029
File 125539564918.jpg - (52.36KB , 255x255 , 1219083764175.jpg ) [iqdb]
98029
This is dumber than the time Sonic showed up in that /others/ story.
>> No. 98044
[x] Staring Contest of Cool. NOW.
>> No. 98045
>>98029

Don't remind me of that.

What makes it worse is the fact that people tried to justify it.
>> No. 98057
[x] Just wait in silence. If the knight doesn't want to talk, fine. You'll just make sure to get a straight answer out of Her Ladyship.
>> No. 98094
[x] Staring Contest of Cool. NOW.
>> No. 98449
File 125556961737.jpg - (539.62KB , 1000x708 , fb70a4fd0fcd70d895ba5aa32cbc20af.jpg ) [iqdb]
98449
---

System UPDATE:

[X] Just wait in silence. If the knight doesn't want to talk, fine. You'll just make sure to get a straight answer out of Her Ladyship.
[X] Staring Contest of Cool. NOW.

Current Phase: Evening - Rain - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

---

Tsk, the answer is right there on tip of your tongue. How frustrating! Racking your all natural "Nice Guy" perm extra hard seemed to be doing more bad than good, too; it seemed you would have to ask someone who was more forthcoming than this marshmallow guy.

If he was not going to talk, that was fine in your book, because it meant he would not be talking, assuming Meta Knight was the strong and silent type. So far, he seemed to be mostly getting in your business by virtue of you giving him an excuse to do so. Fine; in that case, you will shut your BS dispenser too and see how he likes the cold treatment. You bet his Ladyship will tell you the big stink of a secret anyways as to why Kagura was down for the count.

Still, the idea of refraining from the field of discourse out of politeness was awfully dull and uncool, especially with an unknown amount of time on your hands to kill. It could be long. It could be short. The fact stands it was time you had to spend somehow. Just staring at your cousin, willing her to get better, or choosing to admire your lavish surroundings as those strange mannequins happened to appear and disappear every now and then was not going to do wonders for your mood.

You were not hungry yet, either, so it left you with only one logical diversion. See, your escort appeared not to have anything else better to be doing, except babysit you with a moody, awesome look behind his totally swank cape. You swear the guy was powerposing for effect. Good. Let's see who plays the strong, silent type better.

Staring contest of Cool? Game on.

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

As expected of a chosen guardian of the realm, Meta Knight notices your "intent" right of the bat.

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

Well, it is hard to say if such a thing as "Killing Intent" and vice-versa really exists, for you are still a novice in the way of the warrior.

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

Though going by common sense, most people, save for those who have the patience of a Bodhisattva, tend not to take kindly to being stared at.

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

The obvious mundane questions usually asked are: who? what? where? and why?

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

Those are the boring questions, too. No. You want the little armored marshmallow (was he really a marshmallow?) to ask more embarrassing questions!

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

Like: "Hey! Is there an imperfection upon my visor?", "Do I stink? Do I smell like wet dog? Gah! It's all that she-wolf's fault.", "Hey-hey, that silver perm bastard has a really scary look in his eyes. Why? Why does it make me shiver so?!", "Though it might be true, after all; that Cool Nice Guy looks, well, pretty darn cool just gazing so intently, as if absorbed in deep comtemplations. I wish I was cool as him. JEALOUSY~!", and many more.

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

Abruptly, a change occured in the knight of Alice, as those seeming unblinking yellow eyes stared right back at you. Mayhap it was a trick of the light from the auburn flames of the fireplace, but right before you, Meta Knight's dark blue hide was turning---RED.

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii~.

Aha! You got 'em. Guess he couldn't stand the heat of Gintoki Sight, could he? Who's the cool meister, now? You are!

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii~!

"By and by, Man of Silver," Meta Knight addresses you with a discreet cough, "has it ever been illuminated to thee that thou hast a most naughty gaze? It is most impolite to undress another with your lusty eyes, good sir."

...

SAY WHAT!?! You recoil in shock, slack jawed, as if struck.

"Of course, I understand many a man has aspired to be of the same form as I, but your flattery is a touch disconcerting."

What an unexpected reversal!

"T'would be counter-productive, however, to admonish you. Instead, as a knight, I believe your youthful energies would be better employed learning the way of chivalry, for as you are now, I fear you will be a danger to every damsel and dame in sight. Such misguided youth need to be enlightened to the true path of courtly love!"

Uhhh... How did things come to this again? Oh. Right. You were bored.

"And within the breadth of my magnanimous bosom, I would welcome you as my squire; be honored, Yorozuya! This is my kindness."

Argh, his eyes! His eyes are sparkling! It feels---disgusting. Ahhh, you feel like you wanna...

Growl.

Yes, saved by your stomach! Thank you, Buddha and all the gods of Nihon.

"Ah ha ha ha, what were we talking about again?" you laugh sheepishly. "I didn't figure, but I was so hungry my mind blanked out for a second there."

Exactly. What a coincidence, right?

Meta Knight's blush fades out real quick and he's the cool dark knight, once more, before you can even think to blink. The outpour of whatever the hell love-dovey, manly insanity was gone, like it never happened in the first place. Instead, you had a pair of yellow eyes glowering at you.

"Che. You tsundere."

Aghhhhhhhhhhhhh! That's your line, not his!

---

After a much needed repast to regain your sanity, you find yourself summoned at last to go meet Her Ladyship in person. Once more, you brave the eccentricity of the halls with the little knight as your escort, his stubby armored feet clacking at a regular staccato against the polished floors of dark stone with a coarse grayish grain. You do not know what kind it is exactly but such an extravagance must have cost more than a few pretty ryou.

"It is granite of the Azul Noche variety," the answer unbidden comes from Meta Knight no less. "Hard to come by in these backward parts and ridiculously expensive to import, but anything for Her Ladyship."

Geez, were you that obvious in how you were checking everything out? Not that you thought it was a bad thing; most people tended to want their guests to admire their abodes a bit some. Thus, you whistle your appreciation. The darkened floors honestly make the brightness of everything else stand out in a kind of effusive afterglow.

Continuing with your sight seeing, you note for the first time a glance at some of the more personal rooms. All the interior doors you notice feature transparent glass panels into the rich wood itself, allowing those from within and without to gaze at one another mostly unhindered. Sure, it kind of sucks on the privacy side of things, but you suppose keeping tabs on guests and family was a fairly simple task.

Thanks to this interior design theme of "transparency", you managed to look at probably the most curious thing you have seen yet, since stepping foot in this mansion. A workshop but not just any ordinary workshop: here, dolls were making more dolls, completely unassisted by human hands. Thread of all colors and material was spun into clothes, molds were injected with hot clay, wooden and stone was shaped and carved, naked figures of all sizes and make were assembled piece by piece, and vis-a-vis in a near perpetual factory process.

Come to think of it, some of those rooms you passed by earlier had been occupied with such figures, except these workshop dolls were by fair much more animated. Genderless and faceless, they were clothed as fitting of their profession. How they were moving exactly you had no idea, but it must be a form of, well, "Magick", which implies that Rinnosuke's recommendation had been given for good reasons.

This "Alice" was no quack.

"We have arrived at the threshold to the Librarium," her vassal informs you, as the clatter of Meta Knight's footsteps come to a crisp halt. "Be mindful: watch thy step and tread lightly, lest you be sorted by the Librarians. They are a lot of single-minded automatons whose only purpose is to keep Her Ladyship's ever expanding collection of tomes and literature in proper order. Some might commend their alacrity...but I have neither pity nor admiration for their endless toil."

You really don't have a response for his reservations. Guess not everything is sunshine and blue skies here in this mansion.

As for the threshold, well, you are confronted by a pretty bleak detraction from all convention you have seen thus far. Here stands to great studded doors of wrought iron, black as obsidian, and exuding an air of menace. It is more like the entrance to a dungeon than the front door step of a library. Talk about heavy.

Just how was someone supposed to open these---gates? You did not see any handles or any surfaces where you could apply some leverage. Hell, it looked like you would need some serious manpower and a battering ram to bring these iron beasts to heel. They were huge, reaching all the way up to where a second floor in theory should be in this particular high ceiling hallway.

"So how do we get in?" you pop the nagging question.

"We do not intrude," Meta Knight responds coolly. "We are invited."

Just like that, the immovable gates of iron gave a thundering groan and swung inward at a ponderous pace, fitting of their mass, to admit yourself and your guide into the grand vault within. A blast of cool, frigid air hits you, illiciting a shiver from you; somebody liked to keep---the term comes to you---the "thermostat" down in these parts. Guess they were worried about humidity or something damaging the books.

More to the point, it was really dark in there, like pitch black.

"Do step through the portal. I shall meet you on the other side."

...a portal, huh? Well, it figures you were going have to go somewhere fantastic to meet Her Ladyship, so be it then.

Of course, Meta Knight is already gone by the time you have prepared your heart for whatever may come.

---

System MSG: Loading...

BGM Load: "kindertotenlied", Kasahara Yui - Soul Eater OST 2

---

Passing through that black horizon sure was a strange experience. The sensation, if you could it such a simple thing, was like dipping yourself into emulsified cold jelly. Thick, nasty stuff, and frankly, you cannot help but feel a little bit violated. Could "Alice" not have come up with a better way to get people from point A to B (not that stepping in warm mochi would have made the trip any easier)? A substance like say---sake would be much better, though you might get a little drunk doing step through too often.

Still, it was a bearable enough transition. What was not cool in the slightest was that as soon as you appeared on the other side, disoriented slightly and chilled, a freaking book flies out from the periphery of your vision and clocks you upside the head. Whoever said sticks and stones might break my bones but words will never hurt me---LIED! Getting hit by five pounds of projectile book certainly does, which causes you to recoil away from the blow.

Exceptionally, you manage to hold back a curse and kneel on the spot to stop a sudden wave of vertigo, avoiding yet a second book that passes by harmlessly overhead. What the hell is going on here?

"Welcome to the Librarium, Man of Yorozuya," Meta Knight's cool brassy tones call out to you.

His voice as it turns out is an excellent focus to pull your attention away from the burn of the ache and onto more important matters, namely your surroundings. You are a standing a great long aisle. The stone shelves of obsidian are easily three stories tall, leaving you in their imposing shadows. Down the way is a rickety cart being pushed by a cloaked shambling figure, its movements forced and stuttering, as books literally fly from the cart and onto the shelves taking their place and rearranging themselves unassisted.

The ambiance of the Librarium is not unlike being the bowels of a great cavern: airy and filled. The floors smooth and cool to the touch, while motes of flame in humming jade glide overhead, highlighting overhanging walkways and balconies. Having seen those, perhaps, it is more accurate to call Alice's repository of knowledge and knick-knacks a labyrinthine city unto itself.

"Come along and stay by me. Her Ladyship awaits at Midnight's Square."

You nod and obey without a word. Now, would be the worst time imaginable to annoy your escort; he was the only one who knew his way around in this foreign city.

Sure enough, Meta Knight leads you out of the aisle and onto an actual road. Lamp posts lit by the same jade flames are posted at the beginning of each aisle, highlighting a rune or letter of some sort, though calling these humongous shelves merely aisles seemed inappropriate. They might as well be alleyways. In fact, even a few of these shelves seemed to arranged together to form buildings from which more of the cloaked shambling figures, the Librarians you imagine so, emerged from carting away more tomes to be sorted.

Off in the distance, you swear you hear a bell toll, as you follow after Alice's retainer along the cobbled streets. All was arranged in neat perfect avenues, so you think, for everywhere you went thus far, the roads always met at explicit right angles. There were no winding curves or dead ends. Overpasses lead up to the higher levels, of course, but otherwise it was a logical arrangement, almost incorrigible really.

Crossing a bridge, you arrive at what you presumed to be your destination. It was a public square, or at least as close to one could find around these eccentric parts, where four avenues, including the bridge you are approaching from, intersect at an open space. Hanging high above the ground was a disembodied clock face of a Western make, a glow in the dark with jade flame. The hands had struck midnight.

Midnight's Square, huh?

The presence of ordinary fire burning in the lamp posts situated around the square appeared to allude to the fact that someone occupied this locale. Down the steps of white stone you went into what was an artificial depression, passing by more book shelves, though these were of much more manageable size, just a bit taller than your self. Instead of the usual arrangement of lamp posts, these ones only featured hanging lamps of copper light the auburn fire, too.

Try as you might, you cannot help but feel a little excited as your boot clad feet touched the landing at long last. Up ahead was a sizable pile of books and tomes just laid out on the polished floor (more of that granite stuff), arranged in neat stacks. It could only mean you were about to Her Ladyship in the flesh!

That said... The term Ladyship in retrospect was a little bit exaggerated.

"Hail, My Lady!" Meta Knight trumpets on cue, dropping into a bow, or as much as he could manage with his stumpy body. "I have brought the Man of Silver as thou hast commanded."

At once, the train of small blonde-haired figures, like little fairies, some clinging to the high rocking chair while others float or scamper about on foot, cease their fawning all at once. They turn, as does the rocking chair with its accompanying nightstand, to confront you as one, revealing their true nature to you.

Clack.

Dolls: little girls of wood and clothed, bared demented, grotesque smiles at you with sharp white fanged mouths and bright unblinking yellow eyes. In fact, now you notice there is quite a lot of them. Those vacant yellow eyes staring out from every shadow and recess. Thankfully, the callous creaking swing of a hanging lamp distracts you from them to another absurdity. Hanging from thin air was a window with curtains that seemingly lead to nowhere and emitted an luminescence all of its own, bathing the owner of the rocking chair in the afterglow of dusk.

"I see you," the lady of the house greets you.

She smiles, and everything you have seen and heard finally makes sense. Never before had you the ignominious pleasure to experience a smile so cold and cheerless. Remilia Scarlet might have been cruel and unusual, but she had been a being who had been passionately involved, living in the moment.

"Alice" was not here. She was nowhere to be found.

"You may speak, Man of Silver."

Tsk, the Princess of Ice, huh? Rinnosuke had not been kidding. Even her words are unfeeling. Apathy. Those "nowhere" eyes staring right through you.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] While standing, introduce yourself. This is permissible, right?
[] Bow. If it's good enough for Meta Knight, then it should be okay for you, right?
[] Genuflect. You could have sworn you saw this in the Gentleman's Way. Going the extra mile might not be a bad idea.
[] Cut right to the chase? You do got a lot of things to get off your chest.
[] Praise <Write-in>
[] ??????

---
>> No. 98457
[x] Genuflect. You could have sworn you saw this in the Gentleman's Way. Going the extra mile might not be a bad idea.
>> No. 98480
[x] Genuflect. You could have sworn you saw this in the Gentleman's Way. Going the extra mile might not be a bad idea.
>> No. 98496
[x] While standing, introduce yourself. This is permissible, right?
[x] "You have a very lovely mansion. Very mystifying."
>> No. 98501
[x] Genuflect. You could have sworn you saw this in the Gentleman's Way. Going the extra mile might not be a bad idea.
>> No. 98559
[x] While standing, introduce yourself. This is permissible, right?
[x] "You have a very lovely mansion. Very mystifying."
>> No. 99051
File 125576101330.jpg - (254.42KB , 600x654 , 3434588.jpg ) [iqdb]
99051
---

System UPDATE:

"Apologies. Words from the mind sometimes get skipped over by the hands."

[X] Genuflect. You could have sworn you saw this in the Gentleman's Way. Going the extra mile might not be a bad idea.

Current Phase: Evening - ??? - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

BGM Load: "charade", Iwasaki Taku - Soul Eater OST 2

---

Well, as Rinnosuke would probably tell you, "Break a leg, ol' chap."

You kneel onto one knee and bow your head. It is not the usual Nihon way of doing things, but the act is meant to convey the same sentiment. Guess the gaijin thought getting on your hands and knees to bow your head straight to the floor was too servile, especially for an individual of worth. You suppose genuflecting helped to ease the bitter bite of doing such a thing in the first place, instead transforming it into pomp and ceremony, a great honor.

Bottom line, it sure beats having to press your face into the dirt. Maybe the gaijin are not completely insane in some respects, after all. You clear your throat, discretely, and begin.

"Well, it goes something like this: Yorozuya no Gintoki is what folks call me, a cool inconstant gardener brought into the employ of Hakurei no Reimu some days ago. Don't ask what it means; I'm still puzzling out the meaning of my job myself. Suffice to say, business of an urgent crisis, concerning me, has brought us together today, and business being business, a transaction based upon trust, allow me to make the first concession, eh?"

A brief pause ensues before the blonde-haired little princess of girl speaks up, you assume having considered your words.

"You may raise your face."

You make eye contact and can't help but shiver inwardly. Man, her eyes are cold, like daggers---no---scalpels of ice.

"I was a homeless god before I got employed by yours truly, the Hakurei."

Sorry, O-Reimu. Y'know you are not supposed to go around telling people that little detail, but this is a sensitive matter, and you trust that Her Ladyship here will respect client-contractor confidentiality. Besides with a mansion like this, she probably would have found some way to figure it out.

"Alice" inclines her head ever so slightly, slapping shut the open book in her lap and setting it aside. You had her full attention now, apparently so.

"How candid," and left unspoken no doubt, imprudent, "then I shall respond in kind. I am called, Rorisu, the Magician of Mystic Square, Artificer and Spellsmith. Welcome to my atelier, Facsimile."

She gestures to the armored marshmallow figure beside you with delicate wave of her hand. How very genteel of her. Clearly, your action was not a bad choice to make a good impression, and it goes to show having good manners pays dividends, too. Wonder what her parents were like? Assuming a "Magic User" isn't something like a youkai...

"Already you have met my sole retainer, Meta Knight, though others of a less amicable nature would call him my chief furniture rather than the former. My deepest apologies for not providing a more hospitable host, but I have yet to craft another vassal superior to him."

Ah ha ha ha, so she really is the real deal, but to think she managed to create another living, breathing(?) being from scratch... Is this what you should come to expect from a "Magic User"? They sure sound a lot more "God" like than you do.

"I have been informed you mentioned---a particular name of mine. Might I ask where you heard this name from?"

Oh crap, the magician girl must be referring to when you blurted out "Alice" in front of Meta Knight. Kinda figures he would rat out on you about it; goes to show how loyal he is, huh?

"Well, I heard it off-hand from Rinnosuke-san," you say with a sheepish grin. "He spoke of you pretty fondly, so it wasn't like he meant anything bad about it, yeah?

"Sly Master Rinnosuke is it?" she cocks her head aside in thought, not unlike a bird of prey gauging its quarry before a diving strike. "Hnn. An unusual slip of the tongue from a dissembler of his caliber."

Uhhh. Did Rorisu even listen to what you said just now?

"Hey-"

"Amongst my kind, yes; it is a matter for concern."

Whoa, she anticipated your question totally, though it was a pretty obvious thing you were gonna ask. Wait. HER kind? Sheesh, the way she put it sounds like "Magic Users" are their own people altogether separate from humans, then again, just because it looks like a human does not mean it really is a human. You yourself were a perfect example of the fallacy behind assuming analogies are always true.

"I have one other name, a personal allegory, if you will that is not to be spoken of lightly---Alice of the Lost Memory. I would ask you refrain from using it, as my knight has recommend to you, strongly. Master Rinnosuke is a rare exception to the rule, whose number I can name off of one hand, and since you have made it a point to be polite, it would be in your interest to persist, softly and discreetly."

Alice of the Lost Memory? ...Oi, so what's she saying is: that's her real name? You are kind of hoping it is something simple as "Rorisu"-san being shy about it, but knowing your luck... No. It ain't gonna be that simple.

"I'll take it to heart, Rorisu the Magic User-"

"Fool! Her Ladyship is a Magician not a Magic User!" Meta Knight cuts in with an infuriated scoff, catching you aback.

"E-Eh?"

"Bah! Curse the clumsiness of this barbaric tongue. Listen: she is a Magician, understand? Not a Magic User! Thou can dare to play dumb with me, but I will not tolerate such inane impudence upon Her person."

Oh great, this is the whole "Naito" and Knight deal all over again, isn't it? Were you reading the kanji wrong or something?

"Ugh, my bad. Sorry," you apologize just to be safe.

Alice, erm, Rorisu appears to not have been ruffled at all by the outburst. The little knight's timing must have been perfect, or he was in fact echoing his lady's annoyance in full to her satisfaction. Shame you cannot tell at all thanks to her perfect poker face of pure apathy.

"Allow me to enlighten you, Yorozuya-sama: there are few things I dislike as there are few thing I like, which is the essence of the compounding individual that is I, so I have been told."

You make a face, inwardly at that confounding circular statement. It did not really help you to understand her much at all. In fact, you have got even more questions.

"If you don't mind me asking, what's a Magician anyways? Shoot, what's Magick?"

What an embarrassing question, but it begged to be asked. You would rather be made a fool of then really be a fool following the lead of others, as if he understood the importance of a matter. Naturally, Meta Knight gives you a long suffering gaze, but considering he called Nihon a clumsy, barbaric tongue, you expected as much. What came as a surprise though was A---AH, forget it. Alice sounds so much cuter and it's her real-real name (you think), so you will think of her as such, in the hopes of being able to call her by that name some day on good terms.

But yeah. Alice. That girl was smiling, just the faintest pull of her lips, but you swear she had a ghost of smile right there. A win was a win, and hey, now you know something she probably does like: Magick.

"Do you believe in Magick, kami-sama?"

"How am I suppose to believe in something that I don't understand?" you reply unabashedly. It was the truth of your ignorance that you sought to cure. What was the use in dodging the issue?

"What a thing to say for a being who exists only in belief. Ironic. Are you aware that there is not much difference between a youkai and a god?"

Ouch! That was low. That was so totally low! But with your understanding of Shinto lore, you cannot deny the element of truth in her statement.

"I'll give you that both of our kind only exist because of belief. Faith as some theologians say. Doesn't matter if it's fear, respect, hatred, or love. It's the---feeling---that counts."

Her smile was widening, baring a glint of her perfect little white teeth. Was this delight at a good conversation or triumph over an opponent in discourse? You can't tell for her eyes had not changed at all.

What cold nobility, eh?

"That is something you and I share in common. Belief. But Magicians take it a step further. Ego. And some. Megalomania. Make no mistake: the heart of magick is all about imposing one's delusion into reality. Some would call this the power of miracles. I, unashamedly, will admit that magick is nothing more than the power to distort the world to one's own heart. How fortunate we are then that there is only so much absurdity that the World can tolerate of a fanatical belief in one's superiority."

The World?

"I cannot claim to be the voice of the World. I am but a hope---a fear created in Man's image, and so that will always be my limit. The common sense of humans."

...Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh? What's that supposed to mean? What's any of this supposed to mean? Is Alice trying to say that magick is all about a bunch of crazy self-centered people making their selfish whims come true? A distortion of reality that would otherwise be impossible? That's magick?

Her smile fades, as the enigmatic magician steeples her fingers together. You try to think of a meaningful response only to find your confounded by the abstruse nature of it all, and in the intervening silence, Alice's retinue of dolls began to chatter excitedly, their wooden jaws slapping together in what you assume to be a parody of a giggle. The unnerving noise was not doing wonders for your thoughts, and you were thankful that they were soon silenced by a look from their creator.

"I think I have given you enough to think about it," Alice says plainly, before snapping her fingers together. On cue, a gaggle of the demented dolls suddenly spring into action, assembling into a high backed chair with their very bodies. You wish you could say you were impressed, but... "Now, come hither and sit, so I may hear what is it you wish to ask of me?"

C-R-E-E-P-Y. The things you do. Oh, the things you do...

You scoot on over, despite personal misgivings, and park your ever reluctant August behind into that chair of dolls. Had you been any less courageous, you would have freaked and probably leapt into Meta Knight's arms, hopefully, for salvation. Instead, you are able to politely ignore the shivers and chattering you feel vibrating straight up your spine from the little bodies supporting your augustness.

The same cannot be said for the full blast of Alice's Princess of Ice aura. It is even worse up close and you cannot help but feel utterly naked, and weirdly enough, stripped straight down to your bones. Not a pleasant feeling. Not one bit.

You clear your throat.

"You may or may not know this, but I assume you've been told I have a 'Curse' problem and you're the best specialist in town for this sort of thing."

Alice hums her acknowledgment of the facts.

"Though it is not an achievement I am fond of, rather I prefer to be known for my true pursuits. It just so happens that Curse magick makes for an effective solvent to bind a soul to a given object."

Uhhh, too much information?

"Well~, I'm hopin' you're even better than what people give you credit for, Rorisu-san. I kinda...made a mistake. Pissed off the wrong people. That sorta thing, y'know?"

"And what manner of Curse is it? I assume it is a significant spell to have caught the alarm of a god, Yorozuya-sama."

Ho boy. Please, don't laugh.

"Charm. And I got hit by---so I was told: a daemon. Not your regular run of the mill evil spirit, Genma, or youkai mind you but a---daemon. Whatever the heck that is. It's definitely not from around here is as much as I can tell. In fact, specifically, it was a suc-"

Thankfully, it is not Alice who laughs but it is her knight. The little armored bugger scoffs loudly at you sending a chill of chattering amongst the dolls. Who knew they had a sense of humor, huh?

Sigh.

"Charm and a daemon," Alice says aloud. "The culprit was a succubus, or perhaps, a daemon that has succubi traits more accurately. It must be a denizen of considerable power to have bested a god of this land, or...?"

Hey, you were not proud of the fact, okay? And your face was like totally not flaring red. Oh, no, sir!

"Ah. I see," she deadpans, causing another round "giggling" from her train of dolls and a disdainful glare from Meta Knight. "Succubi are Succubi. Gods made in the image of men are Gods made in the image of men."

You cough.

"So... Can you do anything about this?"

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. That we shall see."

An awkward silence ensues as you wait on the magician to make her decision, assuming she was thinking things over. The lack of body language on her part and that air of apathy really did not help you to read her at all. Thus, it is a relief when Alice at last speaks.

"Do you know the name of the daemon who cursed you? And no, I do not ask of its common name, but the name it shares with the foolish sons and daughters of Man."

"Uh, this is important, isn't it?" you sweat.

"Not an absolute necessity but it would help expedite your case."

"Sorry. Like. I'm totally sorry, Rorisu-san."

"Hnnn. As you wish... Contract!"

At her sharp cry, which catches you off guard even more than what happens next, a long roll of white parchment and a golden quill appears straight out of thin in a puff of smoke, with a little glitter of sparks. Immediately, the feathered instrument goes to work scribbling at an astounding speed that leaves audible slashes with each of its masterful strokes. In less than a minute, the task is completed and submitted to Alice for approval, her eyes doing a quick once over, before turning around the said contract to you. What you are presented with is a long legal document filled with nomenclature, specific language, and phrases that faster than you can digest began to run into one another in a tiresome mess.

It does not make a whole lot of sense to you.

"The terms are binding and non-negotiable. However, I may consider allowing yourself to refinance the payment plan at a latter date. Sign on the dotted line, please. It does not have to be legible. Even an 'X' will do. And worry not, I believe in pacta sunt servanda. This is not a trifling, indeterminate, impossible, or illegal request beyond my powers. I only ask you have confidence in my abilities."

That's an awful lot to ask of a person.

"How much are we talking about here?"

"All things considered, including Master Rinnosuke's favorable opinion of you, your total comes to ten-thousand ryou over ten years."

...TEN-THOUSAND RYOU?! Say what!?

"A small price to pay I am sure compared to your soul, Yorozuya no Gintoki-sama."

Ten-thousand ryou in ten years? You can't imagine earning that much in fifty years, much less ten! What did Alice of the Lost Memory think you were? Some damn horrible daimyou with thousands if not tens of thousands of subjects at his beck and call to tax at will?

"O-Oi... Is there anything I could do to speed up or decrease the overall value of the payment? Ten-thousand...that's-"

Fortunes, what is going to happen if you can't pay it all back in ten years?

"I am not a terrible Tyrant; I am a Magician. Ten-thousand ryou is an insignificant sum when measured against the quality of services rendered."

Services rendered?

"If an occasion should arise, I may choose to make a proposition, so tempting that you may be able unable to refuse, despite conflicts of interest. Of course, the final decision is yours, for I would never stoop so slow as to rob another of their free will. Is that not what humans pride themselves most in? The power of choice? Yes, they do, so shall I extend that right to you."

Tsk, guess this is it.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Sign the darn thing and ask if the Magician of Mystic Square has such an offer in mind already.
[] Sign it. Afterward, you shall retire for the night. It's been a long day.
[] Let me think about this...
[] Ask Alice? <Write-in>
[] Ask Meta Knight? <Write-in>

---
>> No. 99052
File 125576140212.jpg - (127.07KB , 934x700 , 1203983107563.jpg ) [iqdb]
99052
[x] Let me think about this...

After considering all the options:
[x] Sign it. Afterward, you shall retire for the night. It's been a long day.
>> No. 99056
[x] Let me think about this...

After considering all the options:
[x] Sign it. Afterward, you shall retire for the night. It's been a long day.

So what ever happened to that write-in guy?
>> No. 99067
>>99056

Who Norseman or Wiseman?

I suspect Norseman might have given up on this when he seen Meta Knight (many people when 'what the fuck!?' at that)

[x] Let me think about this...

After considering all the options:
[x] Sign it. Afterward, you shall retire for the night. It's been a long day.

I'm going with this for now.
>> No. 99070
[x] EMPATHY
[x] COURAGE
[x] "My deepest apologies, madam Rorisu - but not even my soul is worth that much."
[x] Don't sign the contract. You still have some faith in Hakurei no Reimu to pull you out of this mess you caused.
[x] "If ever I earn that amount of money in my life, it would be better spent on more honorable purposes."
[x] "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a certain savvy merchantman to rescue."

Better to be a man and take responsibility for our actions instead of indebting ourselves unnecessarily.

Also, I miss the emotion choices.
>> No. 99072
x] EMPATHY
[x] COURAGE
[x] "My deepest apologies, madam Rorisu - but not even my soul is worth that much."
[x] Don't sign the contract. You still have some faith in Hakurei no Reimu to pull you out of this mess you caused.
[x] "If ever I earn that amount of money in my life, it would be better spent on more honorable purposes."
[x] "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a certain savvy merchantman to rescue."
>> No. 99074
I reject my vote and substitute with [x]>>99072
>> No. 99117
>>99056
Changing vote to this:

[x] EMPATHY
[x] COURAGE
[x] "My deepest apologies, madam Rorisu - but not even my soul is worth that much."
[x] Don't sign the contract. You still have some faith in Hakurei no Reimu to pull you out of this mess you caused.
[x] "If ever I earn that amount of money in my life, it would be better spent on more honorable purposes."
[x] "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a certain savvy merchantman to rescue."
>> No. 99132
File 125579973731.jpg - (31.60KB , 300x528 , RWS_Tarot_01_Magician.jpg ) [iqdb]
99132
---

System UPDATE:

[X] The Write-In

Current Phase: Evening - Rain - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

BGM Load: "charade", Iwasaki Taku - Soul Eater OST 2

---

The power of choice, huh?

You give it a moment to try and digest your circumstances, but in the end, it is as you fear, the person you are now is just too small to understand Alice. Her motivations, her words, her actions, and by extension, the intent of her servants. In fact, you still cannot come to grips with the absurdity of her very "home", if such a travesty could be called a home in human terms. The standing mannequins, the doll workshop, the empty rooms, the faded pictures; everything make no sense at all.

An enigma? A riddle? Why does she call herself Alice of the Lost Memory? You just don't understand.

As for this offer, hmmm...

"My deepest apologies, Madam Rorisu," you pause, gathering your courage, in spite of your inner turmoil, to move ahead. "But. Not even my soul is worth that much."

A hushed silence descends upon the square in a heartbeat, as wooden jaws drop and chatter, while a stupefied splutter transforms into a flash of outrage burning into your side irately. Amidst it all; there was Alice, as uncaring and impartial as always, saying not a word. She merely---observes you.

Many a doubt surfaces in your thoughts, but you bite down and refuse to sign the contract. You still have some faith that Hakurei no Reimu to pull you out of this mess you caused. ...Wait, what's this nonsense about relying on O-Reimu to pull you out of a grave you dug for yourself? Didn't you say you weren't going to burden her with this and try every avenue possible to take care of your problem? Just whose thoughts are...ugh!

"If ever I earn that amount of money in my life, it would be better spent on more honorable purposes."

Again, the Magician of Mystic Square is silent.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have a certain savvy merchantman to rescue-"

"HOLD," Alice snaps boldly bringing the full brunt of her eternal winter down up you.

---

System MSG: LUCK activated!

***Your Little Luck has been expended.

---

It is as if a thousand icicles had been set out to nail you to the spot, a creature to be mounted for---dissection. Your courage fails. Nay, your very soul fails unprepared by this onslaught of inhumanity, though perhaps having your "chair" transform into a literal breaking wheel composed of little bodies with arms, legs, and jaws to hold you tighter.

Some Thing within you seethes with displeasure.

"I was wondering when You would interfere," the magician states in a cool, matter of fact tone. "Did You not know? I already told this godling that his friend was more than capable of taking care of himself, a fact he accepted."

"R-Rorisu-san, what are you-" you find your lips saying.

"Be silent, you brave fool of a man. Master Rinnosuke has already communicated to me the up to date diagnosis of your Curse. You have little more than three night and four mornings left. Mayhap five days before the daemon turns you into a plaything of---her choice."

Her pretty doll-like face curls in the first expression of disapproval you had ever seen coming from Alice. What the hell was going on here?

"You claim your soul is not worth such a trivial sum. That is true. It is worth more than any price I could ever name, which disgusts me to hear you think so little of the suffering to be of your loved ones. Ten-thousand ryou is a small price to pay for their peace of mind. What bittersweet torment would you feel I wonder if you were to turn your sword against them?"

The Thing inside cackles with perverse anticipation.

"How disappointing. You are still very much a child, but such is the case, it is the responsibility of adults to correct the mistakes of children."

Just as quickly as that glimpse of emotion came, it was gone, leaving only the Magician of Mystic Square behind. A rational, impartial arbitrator?

"Listen well, Yorozuya no Gintoki, since I have not informed you of how I intend to remedy your curse, allow me to enlighten you, now. As the boy you are, you stand no chance of besting the daemon who bested you in the beginning. Charm is an accumulating spell. It continues to add on its effects long after the casting; a fact, I think you should be well aware of. Confrontation is only a viable option within the first twenty-four hours of affliction, depending on the strength of the caster. After that you are easy prey.

"See here, the only way to lift Charm is to have the caster release you. Considering the daemon was successful in compelling you once, it has all the confidence it can best you another time. Hence, my solution: we will contract you with a greater daemon with myself as the co-signer. The influence of the latter will cancel out the strength of the former, allowing you to face the caster without worry.

"Do not fear, I am experienced in negotiating with their kind and have had a long, fruitful relationship with a particular daemon lord I am contemplating to call upon. If it assuages your doubts any, my soul shall be part of the collateral too, along with yours. Daemons tend to deal almost exclusively in that particular quintessence for few things in this world are of value to them. Understand?"

The Thing laughs in mocking disdain.

"Now, you have two choices. Luck was on our side this moment, but the Lady of Fortune will not smile so kindly again. If you walk out now, your passenger will very helpfully make you distort the truth of this conversation, for the best lies are half-truths, so too will I forget. The binding medium holding us together in this moment is the contract itself. Sign it and your salvation is assured."

Alice gives pause.

"But your reluctance, is it because you find my services not to your satisfaction? That I will be a cruel contractor? How foolish. Cruelty is beneath me. I am a Magician, a rational being free of such pettiness. Once I have set my mind to accomplish a task, I will complete it without fail: your salvation, perfectly and elegantly. That is a Magician."

CAUTION: What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Trust in Alice of the Lost Memory. A path is open.
[] She's lying, mmm~, don't you see? Fu fu fu.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 99133
[] ??????
>> No. 99137
[X] ??????

for great justice.
>> No. 99138
[x] ??????
>> No. 99142
[x] ??????

Why the hell not?
>> No. 99146
File 125580374425.png - (692.87KB , 751x1000 , shinki.png ) [iqdb]
99146
We're going to uncut Koakuma's compulsion by selling our soul to another demon?

>"Do not fear, I am experienced in negotiating with their kind and have had a long, fruitful relationship with a particular daemon lord I am contemplating to call upon. If it assuages your doubts any, my soul shall be part of the collateral too, along with yours.

SHINKI ALERT

[x] COURAGE
[x] EMOTION
[x] "Alright! But as you said yourself, this 'solution' involves indebting myself to yet another demon lord, one stronger than the current one, and since you're taking a commission on this, this guy better be the best of the best! I'm talking fire, brimstone, and pitchforks—pandemonium—cats & dogs living together!"
>> No. 99149
>Just whose thoughts are
>Your Little Luck has been expended
You're quick to lose what few readers you have left, aren't you?
>> No. 99150
[] ??????
>> No. 99151
>>99149

Ah, let it go. We managed to get ourselves back up to speed after that koakuma bullshit in good time. I imagine we'll get it back soon enough.
>> No. 99158
>>99151
Every vote we've made since that incident has either been twisted or turned into something completely different from the original train of thought. Even the most insignificant ones.

No amount of good intent nor any attempt at getting this story back on its feet is going to change this. The writer is so bent on having his way that he'd probably cut off his own fingers than write anything pleasant or upbeat anon might actually enjoy.

It's a lost cause. I'm surprised no one has tried sage-bombing this yet.
>> No. 99177
>>99158

Well from what he revealed in IRC, he likes Grim dark, macho Shounen stuff, and he came here due to reading YAF's "My Dog" (Not really a typical style story)

He hasn't read many older stories, dismisses most stories as "Girl get stories" regardless of actual story content.

And as you can see, will cross over anything to fill the lack of males.

In short he really doesn't have much business being here, and I think the reason no sage bombing has occurred is that this has taken upon train wreck qualities (i.e. people read to see what kind of batshit insane cross over will happen next, specifically how he'll top Meta Knight appearing)
>> No. 99179
>>99158
Chill out people. It's this sort of shit that gets us into trouble in the first place. He could have just fucked us over even worse for walking away. Contribute or get lost.

[x] COURAGE
[x] EMOTION
[x] "Alright! But as you said yourself, this 'solution' involves indebting myself to yet another demon lord, one stronger than the current one, and since you're taking a commission on this, this guy better be the best of the best! I'm talking fire, brimstone, and pitchforks—pandemonium—cats & dogs living together!"
>> No. 99186
I have to admit that while I generally do enjoy reading this story, All the inane cross overs do tend to make me raise my eyebrows. Strangely enough Death the Kid didn't bother me though. But at this point in the story, Meta Knight has been the biggest offender thus far.

But at the same time, I do enjoy the narrative style. I also like some of the original characters like Kagura and the kids at the shrine. Last but not least the way you portray some of the series characters put a smile on my face as well.

Like most everyone else felt when it happened. The Koakuma screw up really drove me into a wall. But I stuck with it for the sake of seeing what would happen.

tl;dr: Cool it with the cross overs, use more originals if you need to fill in the holes, and be a little less strict.

This is supposed to be fun for all, yes? Not a chore.
>> No. 99672
File 125602069385.png - (188.29KB , 480x640 , 3253894.png ) [iqdb]
99672
---

System UPDATE:

"After much randomizing, the winner is..."

[X] The Write-In 2

Current Phase: Evening - ??? - Day 5 (7 / 5, Year 118)

BGM Load: "I'll Face Myself", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

That girl isn't very honest now, is she? Sign or don't sign. Something or another about a Magician. Why is it all these troubling people come around to an insecure guy like you asking that you believe in them? To be frank, you have probably been the worst troublemaker they have seen around these parts in ages. Who is it that needs reassuring, saving...really? You. Them. Or is it everyone?

Why are these people grasping in the dark for a sliver of light? You cannot see what is so special about a bungling bothersome all-natural perm nice guy like you, but like it or not, you seem to be bringing an awful lot of people together. A sliver of light in the dark isn't terribly reliable; it flickers.

But it is true: you ain't some trick of the mind. You are here and a bunch of lonely, bored idiots cannot seem to let you go. The least you owe them is to face yourself in all your strength and weakness. Right now, that means moving your god damn ass; no way in hell are you going to lose to some backseat driver trying to lead you astray.

After all, there is an open hand reaching out in front of you. All you have to do is meet her halfway. Easy, right? You would hate to disappoint a girl that small and smart.

So with a great effort, veins popping in your neck and bones aching against the malign pull of that malign other, you reached out shakily, a bit of rhythm emotion saying:

"Alright! But as you said yourself, this 'solution' involves indebting myself to yet another demon lord, one stronger than the current one, and since you're taking a commission on this, this guy better be the best of the best! I'm talking fire, brimstone, and pitchforks—pandemonium—cats 'n' dogs living together!"

It shall be so, and the contract was sealed. The parchment glowing golden before scattering explosively into sparks upon the wind of fortune. An infuriated scream of feminine scorn sounded off in the lull, dying into nothingness, as the weight upon your body lifted. It was a breath of fresh air at long last, and if not been for your "restraining" chair, you tumbled face first without a care in the world.

Exhausted. Dead tired. Fortunes, it did not seem that Herculean when you had been in the middle of grabbing that golden quill and stabbing the bloody thing into the contract. Writing anything, much less an 'X' tic mark, was impossible, plain and simple, as such you had to bet on that somehow Alice's magick could understand your intentions.

It worked. Thank Goodness and---oh, she is coming over here? Funny, you arm seems to be stuck in place; must have pulled a muscle or ligament or three because your awesome hand is chilling out there, as if to grasp someone's-

Clasp.

"My thanks. It would have been unbearably embarrassing to admit to Master Rinnosuke that I failed in my negotiation," Alice explains to you, her gaze blue and unwavering. "I have never been rejected by a client no matter how outrageous the request. However..."

You cannot help but marvel at how warm her small and delicate hands are, in spite of her piercing, apathetic demeanor. It just goes to show that no matter how much one would twist themselves into an ideal impossible for humans, some things never change, like this little girl's hand. Thus, even of the veins of such an absurd person, pathos can be found, buried deeper than gold. But what is this clammy tremor you feel.

"...it appears I have acted unlike myself. I-Irrational."

---

BGM Change: "Rimelight", Daisuke Ishiwatari - BlazBlue ~The Calamity Trigger~ LE OST

---

Her hand is trembling and her breaths irregular. Oi, what did this---this little cool idiot just do to herself?!

"As...expected, a m-mind of war with, huff, a daemon is no simple task. I...afraid so...re-tire..."

There: in a split-second flash of blue, a drop of blood, coppery red, splattered upon the unfeeling granite amidst an explosive shower of paper, like old stained yellow pages from an venerable book. Alice of the Lost Memory was gone, and in a climatic crescendo, every doll in the vicinity clattered to the ground lifeless as one---including your "chair". Still, the shock of the impact did not even make a dent in your conscience, zero'd in, focused as sharp as the tip of a katana on one horrifying fact.

The Magician---no---Alice was hurt. She was hurt because of you. Even now, your hand was stained red; guilty as charged.

"I hope thou art grateful, God," Meta Knight speaks up from your side, sheathed in venom. "Be sure that thou repay this debt ten lifetimes over."

...Why? Why go this far? That girl did not owe you anything. She could have let you go---but now...

"Away we go. The hour grows late and I must go anon to attend to Her Ladyship afterward. She would be most cross with me, if I were remiss in my duties as host and left thee to wander until exhaustion claim you into oblivion's slumber here in the Librarium. Follow!"

Tsk, that Alice, you swear you are going to have a good, long talk with her one of these days. One. Of. These. Days...

---

System MSG1: A debt incurred and a contract signed, though this one weighs awfully heavy. Like it or not, you feel a rather strong obligation towards one, Alice of the Lost Memory. That said, it seems to be a rather one-sided affair at the moment, but who knows what a little push here and there might do? An actual friendship of sorts might catch fire? We shall see.

In the mean time, gain...

*ATTRIBUTE: Obligation ~ Alice of the Lost Memory - Through various intersecting circumstances, you have become deeply indebted to the Magician of Mystic Square. It is a debt you feel you must repay not because the authority of any court of law. The exact reasons for your actions you cannot understand as of yet, but by trying, maybe you will come to such an epiphany. Effects: Primary - Increased TN checks against Alice. Secondary - Gain Free Raises when undertaking tasks on Alice's behalf.

Also...

+ 1 pts to all Status Parameters.

Your personality has grown quite a bit from this ordeal.

You are now very close to achieving a new level of Understanding.

System MSG2: Now loading...

Phase Change: Morning - Clear - Day 6 (7 / 6, Year 118)

---

Morning comes, and though someone was kind enough to provide complimentary toiletries, not to mention you managed to learn how to operate the gaijin style bathroom after some fantastical trial and error, the atmosphere tastes horrible to you. No amount of minty fresh toothpaste can possibly make this morning's affairs appetizing to your palate. Why? Because the mistress of this so-crazy mansion had yet to make her appearance and it made you worry. Never mind your cousin was sleeping in like a cat to add to your list of troubles.

It was not a good kind of worrying, especially when you had to share breakfast with Meta Knight in an ostentatious dining hall way too big for an armored marshmallow and a bungling god. The tension was positively killing you. Worse yet, it was reminding you of the coppery scent seemingly stained into your hand: Alice's blood. No matter how much you lathered and scrubbed with soap, you swear it is still there on your hand.

Tsk. What to do? What to do? Argh!

Tread tactfully, now.

Choose...

[] Inquire about Alice?
[] Ask how the knight is faring?
[] Compliment the full course---continental breakfast?
[] So, what's the forecast for today?
[] Say, about the other day. Y'know...that issue you were trying to make me figure out. That was some kind of Magick that did whatever to me and Kagura, wasn't it?
[] Bear with it. Just. Bear with it.
[] ??????

---
>> No. 99678
[x] Inquire about Alice?

I think some sensitivity would help.
>> No. 99683
[x] Inquire about Alice?

See? It wasn't that bad.
>> No. 99689
[x] Inquire about Alice?
[x] Ask how the knight is faring?
[x] Compliment the full course---continental breakfast?
[x] So, what's the forecast for today?
[x] Bear with it. Just. Bear with it.

Small talk.
>> No. 100191
File 125635000646.jpg - (443.42KB , 992x851 , 6429866.jpg ) [iqdb]
100191
---

System UPDATE:

[x] Inquire about Alice?

Phase Change: Morning - Clear - Day 6 (7 / 6, Year 118)

---

The silence is intense. Way too intense as you sneak a glance across the table at your armored host. It is a long table of western design, made of rich dark brown wood, and layered over with an embroidered, lacy white table cloth. Big enough to seat roughly ten individuals, the table was too much for just two people dining over breakfast. A more personal setting in a parlor would have been more appropriate for the occasion, but then you would be confined in an intensely suffocating silence instead; the origin of which was Meta Knight.

You had not seen him touch his sustenance the entire time, sitting there on his boosted high chair, though somehow, food would just disappear from his plate when you were not looking. He had spent the better of half an hour just staring at you with those beady yellow eyes of his, making you feel uncomfortable as hell. You get the feeling his intensive scrutiny was not just out of satisfaction gleaned from a touch of petty revenge either.

To be frank, you have been trying to break the frigid, nigh-impenetrable ice, but you keep losing your nerve, not to mention for the life of you, there does not seem to be pleasant topic to speak of. Defeated at every turn, you resign yourself at last to tackle the beast of the hour by the horns, metaphorically of course.

"So," you begin with a conversational tone, trying to be as casual as possible, "how's Rorisu-danna doing?"

"Hooo..." comes the thoughtful hum from the armored marshmallow. You are still not sure what race he is supposed to be exactly, considering the magician made him. Was he an original thought or based on something? Though if he was the former...well, that girl has a questionable sense of cuteness, you guess.

"She's-"

"And what of thee?"

Changing the subject is he? Fine. You will humor him, so he will humor you, though to be frank...

"Actually I'm surprised myself. I feel better than I did yesterday."

"Is that so? Perhaps, you are made of sterner stuff than your cousin. ...the barrera may require some reinforcement, hmmm."

The barrera? What the hell is that?

"But, seriously," you clear your throat, "is Her Ladyship going to be okay?"

So did Meta Knight seethe at your fool-headed earnestness, a sound not unlike a sword being sharpened, as the intensity within the dining hall went up to a new level. The curtains on the windows slid shut in unison and the door slammed with an audible turning of locks. If the idea never crossed your mind before, now it occurs to you that you are confined into a room, with a little "man", who had plenty of reasons to put the hurt on you.

"What a brazen topic to say, coming from the demigod responsible for Her Ladyship's sudden poor health. As I thought, thy's sense of delicacy is a strange and backward one."

Well, he has a point there, but wouldn't it have been just as rude to not ask? Ugh. Damned if you do, damned if you don't; it's classic Catch-22, huh? ...though you have made the mistake of not taking him up on his parley from the beginning. The changing of subject move appears to have been to your benefit, but it is too late now.

"Rest assured, O Silver Rogue, had mi'lady perished in the dead of night, I shall see to it that your total annihilation into nothing follows suit, with extraordinary prejudice. Using every last ounce of mana in my disintegrating being, I shall be obsessed with thy undoing, plotting, hunting, and finally, destroying thee, until I am no more. Without Her Ladyship, there would be no meaning to my existence, as such it is a blessing that my life belongs to her, and by her command, my brief spark will end. Mercy be upon those who must live long after in shame for failing their lord."

Okay, note to self: it would behoove you to not piss off this little bastard---any further. He means business all right. On the other hand, his talk just now---didn't it feel awfully honest? His loyalty is to be commended, certainly, but he may have just said one too many things... Sure, all Meta Knight did was confirm Alice's own statements, except you never knew what sort of strings came attached.

The knight may have said it all in a really pretty way, and the lady herself disdains such a term, but the fact remains, that armored marshmallow is her---furniture. You cannot even think of him as a "slave" because at least slaves are only bound by bondage. They still had the full potential of any other free being. There was no such thing in Meta Knight; he is the exact sum of his parts. No tomorrow. No future. His life began with Alice of the Lost Memory and it would end by her.

...and he was satisfied. Elated. Happy! Either he was crazy strong, or he lost his damn freaking marbles, so you think, but you have to admit your perspective is tainted by having such possibilities in the first place.

"Do not misconstrue my pure ardor for an asinine slave's ignorance. I am all Her Ladyship has; the closest being to a next of kin, and I. Am. Angry."

Ugh.... Guess it really wasn't a good idea to-URHKGK!

"Deeds before words, Man of Yorozuya. Deeds before words. Make sure you do not renege on this covenant. Now, I go anon and leave thee to your devices. You will be summoned when the time comes. Wander as you wish but be cautious. I cannot be held responsible for the handiwork of automatons."

Those parting words he gifts to you, while having slain you a couple hundred times over, without ever touching you. After all, you only died because you thought you died. He left you discarded in your chair limp, bathed in sweat and piss, like a doll cut from its strings. Suffice to say, it is not until long after the fact he left that you were able to breathe a sigh of relief, and even now, standing in a solitary hallway, you do not understand what happened exactly.

Thank goodness you packed a spare change of clothes!

That guy is dangerous. Definitely dangerous. You can recall his words exactly as you were cut down again and again, powerless to resist, turning the dining hall into an obscene charnel house painted with your hair, blood, sweat, organs, and meat. That---"mental attack" happened right after he said he was angry and you thought what you thought...

Fortunes. Was that the famed killing intent, a technique said to be possessed only by the best warriors in the land of Nihon? How frightening. Truly. That macabre scene haunts you. It was real in every sense of the word, except you were still standing here to think about it, so therefore, it only happened in your head.

Yet as scary as a bastard that little fellow is, a cool nice guy like you knows better than to look at things from a purely negative standpoint. The fact, you are still here means he does not hate you enough to kill you at the moment, meaning if you could just play your cards right...

"I think I have found me a very capable swordsman," you mutter aloud with an easy smile. "It might be embarrassing, but even if he can't teach me, he might be able to tell me who to seek out. Who knew being so small and short could be an advantage?"

Oh yeah, that little guy was darting around all over the place like a damn squirrel, much faster and more nimble than you when you bother to use "Thundering the Heavens". Even in a straight charge, Meta Knight could outpace you, and that golden sword was not just for show. Fights like a damn nightmare in the flesh that one; Alice really made him well. Come to think of it, his grave personality also suits her well, so no wonder the magician has not made anything better since his creation.

Would have been nice if he had showed off some actual techniques during that killing spree; as is, you do not have the faintest clue what else Meta Knight can do.

You sigh at that thought and stop for a moment to rest, leaning against a wall. Off to your left is another faded portrait, featuring a rose garden and an arbor, yet something is lacking in it.

Alice of the Lost Memory.

They say a home is a reflection of its owner, and therefore, everything you have seen must be her doing. Such a conclusion, however, still fails to answer the fundamental reasons of why she chooses to expose herself thusly. Alas, standing here in a lonesome hallway, with the occasional mannequin appearing and disappearing, won't satisfy your curiosity. All you can do is hypothesize ever more absurd explanations until you grow tired with doubt.

Sighing dejectedly, you turn about only for a curious sight to catch you in the light of day. Here was a pair of glass doors, sporting ivory door handles, and through them was a bright room occupied by a single dress, hung up on a stand. From outside here, you could hazard that it was a sunroom for it offered a virtually unobstructed panorama of the greenery beyond the mansion. Funny how looking at things from inside here the Forest of Magick seemed so docile and ordinary, eh?

As for that dress, it was a very pretty dress of light blue with an exaggerated sailor-style collar of white that extended all the way down to where the wearer's elbows would be like a mantelet, topped with a strip of ebon cloth near the embroidered lacy edges. There was a pair of matching accessories, a neckerchief and a sash, as part of the ensemble too, colored a pink-ish red and adorned with white lace. Last but not least was the most disturbing article at all that would complete this getup: a pair of rugged, militaristic brown boots.

You imagine they would be perfect for any situation, including putting a boot up someone's unfortunate backside. ...still, it is a bit of a waste, for the dress was of a cut clearly not meant for Alice. You cannot imagine many women being able to wear it, either, though you will praise her abilities as a seamstress nevertheless. Most Nihon women just are not tall enough, see?

The question of who could be for though had to wait for a peculiar warmth blossoms in the folds of your brown yukata all of a sudden. Reaching in, you uncover a slim compact, which was in fact a protective case for the mystic mirror amongst your belongings. It goes to show how far ahead someone had been thinking.

Unfortunately, it is also the very same someone you do not want to meet right now.

"Ah, why if it isn't, Yamaxanadu no Shikieiki-san!" you try your best roguish laugh. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

---

BGM Load: "like a radio", Myrian DARTOIS-AKO - Soul Eater OST 2
---

The stern of expression Shikieiki is a veritable fortress of steel, and your charming greeting might as well have been the one unfortunate soul bright enough to try catapulting himself over the impregnable walls only to impale himself upon the parapets. Yeah, you failed. Like. Bad.

"How unfortunate for you that bought I am not," she speaks in level tones, using that intrinsic courtly language from Higan, "so easily by such charmingly cheap platitudes."

Correction: you totally failed. Though apologizing for not seeing her in so long might not have made the outcome any better; Shikieiki seemed to be the kind of woman, who did not settle for empty excuses, especially considering her job. In your cause, giving evidence would be the same as admitting guilt, and you were not prepared for how ever she might choose to explode when word of your scandal reaches her ears.

You would rather take care of this problem, quietly and cleanly, before breaking the shameful news to her.

"I guess, my technique still needs work," you do your best downplay your defeat. What you really needed was a hook to move things along, and looking through the mirror, you espy many tall stacks of forms. "Burning the midnight oil, are we? I thought a right and proper Judge, such as you, would know when her bedtime is due."

"The work of the righteous is never done," she retorts, switching over to common tongue, "but a respite now and then offers a refreshing perspective."

Oi, oi, was that her way of saying: "It would not hurt to call me every now and then? I get bored too." or some such? Better to not call her out on it though, but you will keep that juicy hint in mind.

"Thanks for the hard work, but I don't think you're losing sleep just to chit-chat with me, are you? Last I heard, my case is still giving you two tons of hell in Hell."

"Which is exactly why I have called on you, it is time for your Evaluation Exam, at least the practical application portion. You have not forgotten have you?"

"Uhh...that's tomorrow, isn't it?"

"We begin at dawn. I trust you are prepared?"

"Ah ha ha ha, of course I am," you feign confidence with an eager fist pump. "That said, what do I have to do exactly?"

"This will simply be an evaluation whether you have the proficiency to be a shinigami. It is a dangerous line of work, so do not let Onozuka's easy bureaucratic post fool you. Some centuries back, she was quite the ferocious reaper of souls. I almost miss those days..."

Wow, Nostalgic Shikieiki-san? Amazing.

"Expect trouble tomorrow, Yorozuya no Gintoki-san."

Ah, guess she must have heard your name from the others; figured as much.

"Aww, don't I get a hint?" you give her your best puppy dog pout.

"In the interest of fairness: no," came her flat reply, squashing your puppy into a pulp beneath her iron heel of justice. "And do not think to procrastinate, for wherever you may flee, we will find you."

Well, there goes your day.

"Oh, and one more item of note, who would you prefer to be your proctor for this examination?"

And why would you would need one of those individuals?

"Elementary: we cannot allow you to fail spectacularly. This task assigned to you is in fact an official mission for the Shinigami Corps, as such you may choose between myself or Koenma-sama. The ball is in your court, as some would say."

Decisions. Decisions. At least, it's business right now, and for once, you would rather skip the pleasure all together.

What shall you do?

Choose...

[] Pick Shikieiki?
[] Pick Death the Kid?
[] Change the subject? <Write-in>
[] ??????

---
>> No. 100280
[x] Pick Shikieiki?
>> No. 100281
[x] Pick Shikieiki?
[x] Only if she wants to/has the time. Otherwise, Kid would be just fine.
>> No. 100363
[x] Pick Shikieiki?
>> No. 100421
[x] Pick Shikieiki?
[x] Only if she wants to/has the time. Otherwise, Kid would be just fine.
>> No. 100603
[X] Pick Shikieiki?
This might help us form a bond with that lovely judge.
>> No. 100782
File 125666784873.jpg - (341.93KB , 600x950 , 8dd0c32d9ed424f2e83904b280ff99b9.jpg ) [iqdb]
100782
---

System UPDATE:

[x] Write-in

Phase Change: Morning - Clear - Day 6 (7 / 6, Year 118)

BGM Load: "SMILE", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

As much as you want to avoid her, you cannot make it obvious that you are trying to avoid her. It would be rude, suspicious, and beyond uncool! In the present situation, your best bet, so you reasoned, was to stay in-character.

"Hnn, why don't you make room in your busy schedule to enjoy some fresh air, Yama-san?" you propose to her wryly. "I'm still an immature escort I admit, but isn't half the fun in experiencing the earnest mistakes of a young ardent fool?"

That said, your delivery may have been a touch too brazen, eliciting a flush of worry from your cheeks, as you feared a cross admonishment from the Yama. Stumbling a bit, you try to downplay your remarks to head off the coming tongue-lashing.

"O-Of course, I'm only offering. Like no pressure. Believe me! If you're busy, you're busy, y'know? And if you don't want to go, you don't want to go. I'd be cool, perfectly, with having Koenma-sama supervise me on this exam."

Thus, you were pleasant and unpleasantly shocked, when you earned a bemused chuckle. Though her lips were hidden behind that golden tag of remorse, your discerning eyes did not miss the brief upturn of her cheeks, which soon took on a rosy tint. It appears Shikieiki had surprised even herself, eyes wide with astonishment, as she hurriedly tried to cover up her little breach in propriety with an authoritarian cough.

"Do not misunderstand. After making such a statement, I would be a hypocrite not to follow my own advice. Indeed, I believe fresh air would do me good---but prepare yourself, Gintoki."

The Yama favors you with a meaningful look.

"I will not tolerate any cheating, procrastination, sloth, and otherwise intolerable conduct during this examination, or else I would be remiss in failing to live up to my reputation of The Fair and Just Yamaxanadu. The Shinigami's duty is second only to the Bar of Ten! Without their constant vigilance and the diligence to which they carry out the law of the Celestial Order, a great calamity would surely befall us all."

She ended her sermon with a satisfied nod. This person. Talk about strict. But more importantly---WHY DID THIS TURN OUT SO WELL!? It makes you happy to see the stern green-haired girl of a Yama happy, but it makes you quail in unhappiness that she is coming along. You do not want her to find out about your dirty, massive screw up yet! This is your doing, isn't it, Ebisu-bastard?!

"Yes, ma'am," you play your part of a bored schoolboy to the hilt, "but, by the way, I'm not staying at the shrine, right now; I'm on a temp job at a client's place."

In hind sight, your words might not have been the most delicate, but thankfully, Shikieiki does not become agitated by their potentially inflammatory contents. She was completely under the spell of her authority.

"It matters not. Your duty as an imminent provisional shinigami comes first. I ask you negotiate temporary leave with your client, prudently."

"But who are you going to get here?" you lick your lips, choosing your words carefully. "My client lives in a pretty dangerous place. The Forest of Magick ring any bells?"

"I am familiar," the Yama is unruffled. Goes to show how strong she is, huh?

"Well, not only that my client has some weird thing going around their property, which knocked the lights out of me and my cousin. The latter's still out last I checked, but for some reason I recovered really fast."

"Oh?" she raises a brow, indicating you to elaborate.

Now that you think about it: you really do not have the faintest clue how Shikieiki will react to you hanging around so many---female acquaintances---at once. Okay, one was an unemployed wolf sun goddess and Alice was Alice. She was cool with you being employed to Hakurei no Reimu, at least you think so, but judging from the hints you got from your "pals", the Yama is a rather old fashioned kind of gal.

This could be trouble.

"Well, you need a name to start finding your way here. Ever hear of Rorisu, The Magician of Mystic Square?"

"I am not but I shall take steps to enlighten myself. I assume this individual is your client?"

Crap, there had not been any change in her expression.

"Well, I'm at her place, in the Forest of Magick, doing a job. Her mansion's called---Fa-shi-mi-ri---I think, and the land itself... Argh, sorry. It's another western word I didn't catch."

Still, no change.

"As long as I have a name, it should be a trifle to locate her residence, and as for that bizarreness you mention, concerning her property, I am a Yama. That is all."

Okay, now you are starting to get really worried. She did not ask any questions about ANYTHING. You had the beginnings of a bad, bad feeling in your guts.

"By and by, Gintoki-san," again, Shikieiki favors you with that meaningful look, "your complexion appears rather pale to my eyes compared to last when we met. Is something troubling you?"

Pull out. Pull out. Pull out, now! Tactical Movement to the REAR! Your panic produces a flaring blush on your cheeks, as you hurriedly excuse yourself. "Ack, sorry. Looks like my break is almost over! I'll see ya tomorrow, 'kay? LATER!"

Suffice to say, you did not bother to wait for her reaction, killing the connection right then. A huge weighted sigh settles upon your person, as you sag back against the wall for support, lest you collapse. What a fine mess you have found yourself in---again. Are you forever doomed to live in interesting times or some such?

"Fortunes, I can't wait for this whole mess to be over. The rest of the year so has to be better than this..."

Lo with the heavy mood, you tire of the isolation and seek for a distraction elsewhere. Still, before leaving, you cannot help but spare one last glance at the pretty---no---wonderful dress beyond in the sunroom. What a waste it stands there unfulfilled of its purpose; after all, are not dresses meant to be worn?

But who is suitable for such a dress? Who was it made to accompany? To make merry and beautify? The answer to the mystery eludes you, but your curiosity remains unsated.

It would have to wait for another time.

---

System MSG: Congratulations, it appears you have managed to please Shikieiki---"just a wee bit". Your bonds deepen, though one can only wonder how the coming storm shall be ridden out.

BGM Change: "Reasoning", Shoji Meguro - Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 OST

---

Your wanderings eventually lead you back to the Easter Hall. As it turns out, your cousin had not been disturbed at all the night prior and had been left as she was in front of the fireplace, now no more than a spent hearth. Even in daylight, this grandiose living room had an air of strangeness to it made more eerie by the empty, calling gazes of its many fantastical exhibits. The "mannequins" would come and go as always, exacerbating the rigid atmosphere.

You push such depressing observations aside and try to focus solely on your slumbering cousin. Establishing a connection with your spiritual senses, you espy that the coming of day has restored a measure of her former augustness back, her velvety coat white as virgin snow once more, though she was far from her usual self. It must be quite troublesome to be so linked to the coming and going of her progenitor, unlike yourself.

The unexpected moan becomes a pleasant surprise to you, for you see her rousing from the sublime veil of sleep. Groggy golden eyes find their way to you, as you bend to pat her affectionately on the head.

"G-Gin-chan-aru?" someone was evidently out of it, still.

"'bout time, sleepy head. You almost had me worried."

The she-wolf groans, closing her eyes once more.

"Wh-where?"

"We're at the magician's place. What, you hungry?"

"Tired too," came her pitiful whine as her stomach voices its own growling agreement. "Ne, ne, why are you so up and uppity, Gin-chan? Ne, tell Kagura, too~! S-E-C-R-E-T-aru..."

You make a face. Truth be told, Meta Knight asked the same question, and try as you might, you end up drawing up yet another blank. After all, the most important part of this mystery, the introduction, was still lost to you.

"Sorry, I don't know myself."

"Uuuu, that's not fair! Why is Kagura the only one punished by the kekkai? NOT FAIR-aru. Kagura hates, hates it! This gloomy forest and that strict kekkai, too. Stu~pid! Uuu..."

Wow, you never thought you could ever see a noble creature like a wolf having a tantrum, but here you were bearing witness to such an absurdity. Maybe everyone is right. Your cousin is more like a dog than a wolf.

...

Wait a second here. Did she just mention a kekkai!?

Your cousin gives you a vacant look that screamed "Are you a (9)?"

Well, sorry, for being a (9)!

"Gin-chan, Kagura thinks Kagura-san's opinion of you has seriously dropped a little," she speaks to you gravely with a disgruntled yip.

Hey, I was just born last week! Cut a little slack here, won't ya?

"How did you NOT figure? The magic-person hid the kekkai really well, but once Gin and Kagura hit it---it really super, super hurt! ...Gin-chan, don't tell Kagura you're a Maso-type, are you?"

Masochist? MASOCHIST. Who's a Masochist?! HUH! No, masochists around here. No, sir!

"Uuuu, Kagura so hauwnn-gry...uuuu."

Oi! Don't lose interest just yet. You wanna hear this part of the conversation. It sounds real important, yeah!

"Fine... Kagura-sensei will make Gin-chan smarter, so listen up," the she-wolf groaned, leveling a suffering lazy-eyed glance at you. "This land is clean. It's not fresh like the forest Kagura-sensei likes, but at least it's clean when you put it next to the rest of the gloomy trees outside. Must be because of the kekkai, Kagura thinks. Kagura-sensei doesn't know what it looks like, but it tastes like this house and land: strict, cold, and clean. We came in without permission, but instead of acting like a normal kekkai that keeps out like a fence, it kicked us inside-aru."

This land is clean, she says? Does Kagura mean to imply that there is something tainted about the Forest of Magick? True, there were quite a few strange phenomenon you had witnessed, but never had you thought it to be unnatural, at least by your more worldly experience. Granted, by human common sense, the forest was without a doubt unnatural.

"It still cold hurts, but at least in here, Kagura-sensei can feel Ammy-sama. Sensei, you know, was really, really scared back in the gloomy forest; couldn't feel Ammy-sama at all. Blocked. Cut off. And even at night usually, sensei can feel Her a bit, but that gloomy, black place---Kagura hates it and Kagura thinks it hates back, too."

Eh?

"Gin-chan, if Gin can help it, you shouldn't come to the gloomy, black forest too often. This place is still sleeping. It would be better not to wake it up."

After those words, it appears your conversation would have to wait, for a loud, shambling gait interrupts. You turn and spot Meta Knight coming your way, his footsteps overshadowed entirely by the cloaked, hunchbacked figure accompanying him, as it pushed a serving cart. The tell-tale wooden hands and twin pools of glowing yellow for eyes, staring out from the dark recesses of its hood, identified the latter as another one of Alice's creations: a Librarian, or at least something of a similar type.

You really don't get how she can create a being like Meta Knight, though odd, was a functional and almost "beautiful" creature, yet turn around and craft such mocking, disturbing caricatures. Even her home was less disconcerting than her "automatons". Truly, a questionable sense of aesthetics; then again, the magician herself admitted having yet to create anything superior to her first servant.

The only thing that came close to him was that dress.

"Excellent timing. This one," the armored marshmallow glared at the Librarian, "will see to thy cousin. The meal should be amenable to her taste."

Kagura whines pitifully at the unreliable, jerky movement of the hunchbacked movement of the misshapen doll as it broke into a stuttering halt, jarring the assorted bowls loudly. With help like that, who needs service, huh?

"You have been summoned, Man of Yorozuya. Come and tarry no longer."

---

BGM Change: "charade", Iwasaki Taku - Soul Eater OST 2

---

You felt bad about leaving so suddenly, but when the bossy lady calls, you got to go. Ten-thousand ryou and a whole lot more was hanging in the balance, with only three to four days left, before Koakuma turns you into her man-thing, permanently. Still, your cousin surprised you by being unexpectedly perceptive. Guess there was more to Kagura than you have come to know yet.

The kekkai she mentioned and the barrera Meta Knight mumbled off-hand about had to be the same thing. Judging from her testimony, it was a pretty darn ridiculous spell: stealthy, powerful, and discriminating. However, did it not seem like an awful waste of effort? Why go to such lengths? What was Alice's objective in this strange and you dare say forsaken place? And why is it you recovered so swiftly? Could it be the strength of your bonds that emboldens you so?

Indeed, ever since you acquired Lake Touya, it has been nigh-inseparable from your person, and as long as you carry it, you sense your companions are never far. Hmmm. Speaking of which, you probably should look into sending a message back to the shrine sometime today to inform the kami that you will be a way for a few days. It would not do to worry them unnecessarily, after all.

It is up on the second floor when you at last arrive at the threshold to Alice's chambers. Oddly enough, you were expecting her to be on the third floor, separate in essence from all the guests and servants. Why you slept on this very same floor in a guest room, but you suppose that upper level has its own purposes. Though judging by the dizzying array of twist and turns, you suspect you would have never found your way here without Meta Knight's escort.

Here stood a single wooden door with transparent glass panels, as typical of the mansion's decor. You expected something more ostentatious to indicate this was the Mistress's abode and that one ought to tread lightly, instead it looked to be as ordinary as your own guest room. Your escort exercised model manner, rapping at the door three, and by some unspoken command received permission to enter, before reaching up at his tiptoes to turn the knob.

You stepped through, while he held the door, not expecting much particularly, though eager to see what her bedroom could tell you about your contractor and soon-to-be savior. Thus, in a span of a blink, you are astonished at the stimuli that bombards you all at once with the crisp clasping of the door shutting. It was like a night and day in a heartbeat, save evening appears to have fallen judging by starry light flickering beyond the window.

Alice's bedroom was not just that; it was a full blown apartment suite and fully furnished too. A hint of vanilla clung to the air, inviting and calming, while candle light illuminated the suite. Over there you recognized an area set aside as a study, here a kitchen, an entrance to the bathroom probably, and last but not least, a dignified canopy bed of violet occupied by Her Ladyship no less.

The magician was sitting up in a comfy nest of pillows and blankets enough to make an impromptu throne, dressed in a simple sleeping gown, as she was fawned over by a familiar train of little blonde-haired dolls, dressed akin to attendants. Once again, a sizable book was laid out in her lap to which she perused with the aid of reading glasses, so you thought. She did not seem like the type of have bad eyesight and just let it sit though. Perhaps, the glasses were instead magicked to help her decipher otherwise incomprehensible text?

You suppose Alice of the Lost Memory was in good enough health if she had the stubborn energy to be studying even now.

"Hail, mi'lady!" Meta Knight announces with a bow, stopping exactly twenty paces away from the perimeter of the bed. This guy sure knew his manners well. "I have brought him, as thou hast commanded me."

The magician hummed thoughtfully and looked up from her study, allowing her dolls to take away her tome and glasses. You cannot say you did not miss that cool, apathy radiating from her person.

"Good day, Master Yorozuya. How does the morning find you?"

Whoa, you did not expect her to just cut straight to you! ...wait, why is she asking about you? Should it not be the other way around? You were the one who was worried here all along.

"I hope ya pardon my impudence, but that's really my line, y'know?" you reply frankly, with a flushed expression.

"Oh?"

"Yeah."

The magician gaze does not waver in the slightest. If it were not for the subtle rise and fall of her breaths, you would imagine she was a doll herself, the finest masterpiece of a truly mad meister. But why would someone want to make a "doll" like Alice of the Lost Memory?

"I am as well as I can be in the circumstances. My sincerest apologies for intervening in a matter not of my concern. I am the contractor. You are the client. There was no justified premise behind my premature actions other than a wager of pride."

Man, this girl is an expert at sending mixed signals, huh? She sounds seriously colder than ever, but she is trying to be humble and apologize for a perceived slight. You really do not know what to make of it: this magician, a touted rational being, trying to act out a human's sentiment of politeness.

You scratch your head in consternation. "It's fine. I'm used to people butting in by now. After all, I'm really just a wet behind the ears brat, who had the dumb luck to be born looking like a grown man."

Alice absorbs your words as naturally as a sponge might to water, such that it is impossible to gauge her reaction. How clinical.

"Anyways, are you going to be all right?" you do not mention your other concerns, of course. Pressuring the girl would just be plain UN-cool, even if it was your nice guy self on the line.

"It will take time for a full recovery, but I am functional."

"Hey, don't do anything else reckless, before that crazy ritual or whatever you're going to have to do to get a hold of this Demon Lord fellow."

The magician closes her eyes and breathes deep in thought, before speaking in a cool, objective manner.

"The ritual will be delayed. The earliest I can hold it is two days from now. ...Can your spirit hold out until then, Master Yorozuya?"

The new is dreadful but you manage to feign a smile.

"Rorisu-san, you're talking to a guy who swam his way out of the Sanzu River. I got stubbornness in spades."

"Mind you, the earliest I can hold the ritual is two days from now."

Oh crap... There could be delays? Why?

"There are many factors at play: the phases of the moon, the weather, the flux in the leylines, my condition, the quality of the ingredients gathered, and---luck. Summoning a royal daemon is not a trifling venture. They are a capricious and onerous kind, deceptively cunning, quick to anger, and difficult to please, much like gods. It is a blessing that their influence is rare here in the shard realm of Gensokyo. Other realms in the Endless Frontier are not so fortuitous."

Shard Realm? The Endless Frontier?

"Which brings us to my proposal to you, Master Yorozuya," Alice's austere gaze flashes piercingly at you. It is of such force that you are ejected virtually from your thoughts, as if struck by a blow.

Your palms tingle unpleasantly beneath that gaze, but you bear it as best as you can, picking your words---carefully.

"Let's hear it."

"I would ask you venture into the Forest of Magick with my servant, Meta Knight, as your guide. I require an ingredient: fresh crystallized hydrangea. There is a cavern with plentiful formations of Gamma Keil Stones where they can be gathered. Five specimens in full bloom will do."

Gamma Keil Stones?

"But be on guard, I have spotted a Mirage Wampa lurking about the area as of late. Without magick or danmaku to call your own, it would be a disadvantageous fight, for this species of feral youkai is as tall and strong as trolls, with hide to match manufacted high-tensile steel from Lost Herencia. One would have to muster considerable courage, skill, and power to best the beast in a contest of strength, but that would be your first mistake. They are cunning, stealthy hunters, understand?"

...uhhh.

"Of course, should you happen to fell the beast in the process of gathering, your reward for entertaining my selfishness will appreciate considerably. If worst comes to past, you may ask Meta Knight for assistance at anytime, but it would come at the expense of your commission, depending on services rendered."

Oh crap, she's giving you a job to help payback that ten-thousand ryou already? Sweet!

"The decision is yours. What shall it be?"

Hnnn.

What to do?

Choose...

[] Accept the offer.
[] Attempt to refuse?
[] ??????

And... (pick one)

[] Ask for more details? <Write-in>
[] Say what's this business I hear about a barrera?
[] Speaking of Danmaku and Magick, could you...?
[] By the way, I know I'm already indebted to you, but I need a small courtesy, if you would kindly?
[] ?????

---
>> No. 100790
[x] Accept the offer.
[x] "Say what's this business I hear about a barrera?"
[x] "By the way, I know I'm already indebted to you, but I need a small courtesy, if you would kindly?"
>> No. 100794
[x] Accept the offer.
[x] Ask for more details?
>> No. 100857
>Meta knight
>> No. 100880
File 125669376310.jpg - (99.79KB , 450x450 , 121488798660.jpg ) [iqdb]
100880
Sage for shit.
>> No. 100889
File 125669599919.jpg - (96.51KB , 1280x720 , 1256453785787.jpg ) [iqdb]
100889
A Cease and Desist Order is being issued.
Please wait warmly for your timely removal.
>> No. 100890
This shit is atrocious.

What's even more horrifying is it has been allowed to continue.

GTFO.
>> No. 100892
>>100890
Obvious Troll is Obvious
>> No. 100895
http://pastebin.ca/raw/1645781

>Katanakana
>> No. 100896
>>100895
look anonymous, katanakana is underpowered in d20
>> No. 100900
>>100857
>>100892
sugoi story aniki.

Go on, I like your CYA
>> No. 100902
File 125669853084.jpg - (8.59KB , 181x194 , 215487218742.jpg ) [iqdb]
100902
Dear J to the E:

This CEASE AND DESIST ORDER is to inform you that you and the your story “A New World Fool, Pursuing My True Self” has been irritating my bros, Anonymous of T-HP, and it has become unacceptable . Such posts made by yourself are completely confirmed shit and will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form.
This letter is to demand that you and your story “A New World Fool, Pursuing My True Self” stop continuing involvement in, planning and encouragement of, recruitment of, information gathering through “voting” with, but not limited to: Such statements to create a false sense of unwarranted self importance.
To vote or encourage discussions in your story, by stating or implying “Can we all get along???”, through subtle trollan’ and/or “If you don’t like it hide it”, or tripfag playa hate mongering such as “Fuck you, Anonymous. YOU MAD?” must CEASE AND DESIST immediately.
Recruitment of my family, or their friends’ for votes for your stories thread, usage of IRC to spread word of so called “wrong doing”(or any other forms for FAIL) managed and operated by Mods of T-HP entity are subject to this C&E order.
All previous stories written by J to the E are also included in this CEASE AND DESIST ORDER.
Should you and your story ”A New World Fool, Pursuing My True Self” continue to pursue these activities in violation of this CEASE AND DESIST ORDER, we will not hesitate to pursue internet actions against you and your story “A New World Fool, Pursuing My True Self” but not limited to, acquirement of docs or “Pokemons”.

Specific information of such incidents of such behaviour are too numerous.
As such, will be provided on a need to know basis .

Myself and my bros have a right to keep T-HP free of shit stories and their accompanying writefags.
We will take the responsibility upon ourselves to protect that right.
Note that a copy of this letter and a record of its delivery will be stored.
Note also that it is admissible as INTERNET evidence in a court of Judge, Executioner and Lawyer Anonymous will be used as such if need be in the future.

This CEASE AND DESIST ORDER demands that you immediately discontinue and do not at any point in the future under any circumstances do the following for the story “A New World Fool, Pursuing My True Self”, in future threads and previous stories written by yourself: Update, BAWWWWWWWWWW, use ofinternet mediums to threaten BANNED, >imply, usage of white knights, posting as Anonymous to hide opinions of unwarranted self importance, posting on any current board in T-HP, general threats of bodily or mental harm, and many other forms of RAGE.
>> No. 100904
File 125669858383.png - (214.17KB , 444x414 , 1252900459016.png ) [iqdb]
100904
No. Stop writing. Get out of my THP.
>> No. 100905
If there's anyone left reading this story with a fully functioning brain, please be advised:
A) You either have horrible taste in stories, an overabundance of patience for horrible stories, or both.
B) J to the E is not a good person; c.f. >>100895 . High points:
- He thinks most of the stories on THP can be described as "how long will it take me to get into X Touhoe's bloomers"
- By his own admission, he "never lurked much," and "decided to do [his] own thing" (that is, start this little train wreck) "within two weeks of being introduced to THP"
- "KATANAKANA"

Fucking sage.
>> No. 100906
>>100900

Obvious troll is obvious.
>> No. 100917
Now now, let's be civil, GTFO /please/ it might make him go faster.
>> No. 100923
>>100900
You don't even know what that means.
Why do we have some faggots defending J to E? Has it gone that far already? People defending horrible stories? We used to tell them to get the fuck out when they were horrible.
Why would you even need a trip, only writers have them, the rest don't even need one.

People like you should get banned, along with J to E.
>> No. 100924
File 125669913690.png - (3.58KB , 320x240 , 1234176892659.png ) [iqdb]
100924
I was told this story is bad.

Get out of THP.
>> No. 100927
>>100917

Apathy hasn't done us shit, Anonymous.
>> No. 100928
Why the hell weren't you aborted?
>> No. 100931
>>100917
Hey hey hey.

Did you know that italics exist? You don't have to look like a faggot and use slashes when you mean italics.
>> No. 100936
>>100902
>T-HP
>Tou-HouProject

That aside, I didn't pay much attention to this until I found out about the Meta-Knight thing. What the fuck, seriously.
>> No. 100941
I tried to stick with this story. If you check the ip's I've been voting consistently. But the evidence is damning in this case. This faggotry must end.
>> No. 100943
What a shame. Looks like it's about to be the end of an era. I've said all I can in regards to this and the writer before.

*manlytears.png*
>> No. 100956
File 12567046672.jpg - (27.59KB , 120x149 , 1253872088040.jpg ) [iqdb]
100956
>> No. 100958
File 125670663494.jpg - (121.40KB , 640x480 , 1252230388827.jpg ) [iqdb]
100958
>Meta Knight
>> No. 100959
File 125670714618.jpg - (38.95KB , 1280x720 , 1256204245531.jpg ) [iqdb]
100959
>Meta Knight
>> No. 100960
Common Sense here...
Yeah, I know you killed me off years ago, but I heard people decided it was a good idea to try 'screwing' a Succubus a couple threads back in this story.

Brilliant move...

Except for the whole part where Succubi generally use that whole sex thing to make bad things happen to males DUMB enough to go for it... You know, being a sapient demonic parasite and all...

With decision making skills like that, it's no wonder this Choose Your Own Adventure Story has gone down the tubes.

But you know what they say: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Good thing the universe isn't depending on your intelligence like in Space Quest II, right?

Anyway... Gotta' go. Death said no more than two minutes. See you soon! ~_^ Me an' Roger Wilco will share a drink with you when you get here. (Which won't be long, from the looks of things.)
>> No. 100962
>>100960

It's funny, because you act like anyone gives a damn how well the protagonist is doing. People decry this as shit because of its grating style, abundance of retarded crossovers, and idiotic narrative.

Thanks for reminding us all of J's shameless railroading, though. That is another reason that this mangled abomination is shit.

The fact that J is retarded and has refused to learn how horrid his work is doesn't help, either.
>> No. 100966
File 125670836993.jpg - (132.22KB , 640x480 , baww-cirno2.jpg ) [iqdb]
100966
>>100960

Meta Knight
>> No. 100967
The people have spoken, my prayers have been answered. These tears I shed are tears of joy.

Finally. Finally, it's over.
>> No. 100968
>>100962
>>100962
Glad I could be of service. But this IS what happens when you go and kill me you know.

It's just so sad that in the valliant efforts to rock the boat, you've gone and capsized it. The silly shapes and interesting colors that pass over your face as you attempt to extract oxygen from the water do little more than entertain a passing school of fish.

You're dead of course. Better luck next time. ~_^
>> No. 100969
>Nihon Nihon Nihon Nihon Nihon Nihon Nihon

Hahaha oh wow.
>> No. 100970
>>100969
GRORIOUS NIPPON
>> No. 100971
File 125671009213.gif - (1.35MB , 300x169 , 1253236385337.gif ) [iqdb]
100971
>>100968
>> No. 100978
File 125671369152.jpg - (62.91KB , 700x525 , 15885475522.jpg ) [iqdb]
100978
>>100968

Lol wut.
>> No. 101006
Though it involves the common complaint that your premise and plot is excessively convoluted with far too many thoughtless cross-references (gathering from the last thread and the exposition you held in IIRC), the one criticism I would like you to focus on for now is your excessive use of clichés and cultural references.

>"Et tu, Brute?”
> five-point-eight-six-five-zero-seven-seven seconds
> a sight for sore eyes
> ...Time is our enemy
> like a mother might do to her newborn to protect it from the cold

Clichés are referencing Galileo when talking about major scientific discoveries. Though such clichés are often very significant or commonplace, and thus possess a notable number of cultural nuances, unless you actually have a very deliberate reason to use a cliché (which I would heed you against, considering the witch’s brew of cultural references you’re already entangling yourself in), it is much better to use something that isn’t considered overused. For example, by using the last of the above quotes, you have given the reader the idea that Alice is the protagonist’s mother or a motherly figure, which seems somewhat rather unlikely from how she is. Though the reader will get the idea that she is evoking a sort of protection on the protagonist, these other cultural nuances will corrupt the meaning you are trying to get across. Unless Alice is in fact a MILF (Mother I’d Like to Fuck) or the protagonist’s mother, I advise you to choose different phrases so that you do not evoke excessive and disruptive imagery.

I have arguments about the notion of the cliché, but you must accept that the general audience (which THB represents, though with far more Japanese cultural knowledge than the laymen) has its own literary tastes, and it is your responsibility as a writer to respect them to an extent. If you don’t, then you will likely offend your audience, which is what you don’t want to do as writer. This is unless you’re the sort of writer who believes himself to be a futurist, ahead of the curve, or avant-garde, in which case I recommend you have your works released to a more acceptable audience, like Otherkin.net or Gaia Online. Having your work released posthumously is also a good way to reach the proper audience, which would allow you to do some actual good. If you are the sort of writer that isn’t seeking to do good, I remind you that throughout history, people who do not act in the majority’s notion of good are often ignored, hated, or punished. Gathering from your lack of rhetorical skill and charisma, I do not recommend you try to start a revolution in THP, since the two are perquisites. That is simply how the world works.

Anyway, these kinds of clichés often arise from excessive reliance on cultural references to convey a concept or message, which seems to be your greatest fault as a writer. That is, being a typical weaboo, in the literal sense, which is of a person attempting to expound his views on a culture that he seems to lack detailed insight on, as demonstrated by your use of Katanakana [sic] (katakana), Nihon, and many other cultural Japanese references. Though I understand your choice of Nihon over Nippon is for the fact that Nihon is seen as more casual (which fits your narrative style), this idea seems to have been lost on your readers, meaning you have failed to convey that your protagonist is your typical NEET or Japanese youth, who could acceptably use such words, and not the typical Caucasian, which is the default choice for any undefined protagonist. By failing to convey a proper context to your reader, your already confused cultural references have become odd and inappropriate for your protagonist, which furthers the dislike you will evoke in your audience. This could be that the majority of THP’s audience is not Japanese though, so I recommend you try to submit your work to a Japanese site, who will likely be more appreciative of your writing style.

Finally, your use of other cultural resources, like Type-Moon, further complicate things. By describing Remilia as a vampire in the Nasuverse sense (possibly a Dead Apostle, if she can use a Reality Marble, which is actually not the qualification of a Dead Apostle), you’ve essentially placed your world in comparison to the Nasuverse, which can create many paradoxes in the story. For example, by calling familiar-type entities, like Meta Knight (which then adds the universal standards of the Kirbyverse), servant (which, though you may be referring to the laymen definition, carries alternate meanings and thus contradictions due to your use of the Nasuverse, like how did the Earth-based system of the Holy Grail Wars pick out Meta Knight, who is not of this Earth by standards already set in the Kirby universe), and furniture (which then contradicts with the 7th Expansion universe, since furniture have to be created with the purpose of being furniture, which is not the case for Meta Knight according to his universe). As you can see from how convoluted my explanation had to be in order to even be slightly coherent (and I haven’t even addressed your use of Touhou, Alice, and the Shin Megami Tensei universe), by adding too many universes into your context, you’ve basically created a world filled with so many paradoxes and contradictions that nothing makes any sense. Thus anything you try to convey is seen as literally retarded, because you failed to address these paradoxes before you hit the Submit button, showing your lack of care for your writing, which is a blatant sign that your submission is what we call hogwash, or shit. Trying to compromise or wash over these details with unfounded or axiom-based explanations will only serve to complicate the problem like salt on a wound.

Basically, use less cliché phrases and focus your cultural context better, which should mostly be of Touhou, seeing as that’s the cultural mainstay on THP. You may add more universes gradually, addressing any paradoxes you may encounter, but if you do not possess intimate enough knowledge of a universe, it is best that you do not use that universe at all, or spend some time reading about it. There are many recommendable reference texts on the Nasuverse for example, and it would be best that you spend some time brushing on the fundamentals of magic as explained by Rin Tohsaka, and maybe masturbating a bit. Masturbation, or fapping as it is often called, is a common way of releasing clotted man essence. It is likely you are not getting any sexual exercise, so masturbation is a good way of ensuring that you do not clog your penis engine, since that would inhibit production of man essence in your nutbladder. Insufficient man essences can be incredibly damaging to the body, as it generally leads to intense mental and physical atrophy, which I fear you already show symptoms of. If you are actually a female, I will refer you to Satisfaction Jackson, whose ability to satisfy females allows for the production of the female essence, babbys [sic].
>> No. 101007
>>101006
...

_██​_
(ಠ​_ృ)
>> No. 101008
>>101006
Oh yes. I forgot to mention that I posted this critique here to remind you that it is proper etiquette that you exhaust a thread of its proper number of posts before making a new thread. People who do not follow this rule of etiquette are often called 'assholes'. Since I personally find the dictionary definition of asshole to be lacking, I refer you to something called goatse. Though I do not know if your cultural background endorses sodomy, anal spreading, or fisting, these things are generally seen to be very deviant, annoying and more often than not, disgusting, so it is recommended that you do not act like an asshole.
>> No. 101011
>>101006
Or in short:

This story is the most horrible thing that has ever been on THP.
We wish to have at least some kind of quality around here and yours is even worse than the worst story on here. But Wiseman tries to do his best with his limited ability.