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[x] “Well, uh, actually, I…”
[x] "..am more of a reporter. Tengu like news."
“Well, uh, actually I…” you begin nervously, your mind almost completely blank from fear. “I’m… actually a…” low-ranking grunt, you want to say, but a single look at the faces of the two at the table makes you hesitate. Sanae’s looking at you with the sort of respect you don’t ever get from… well, anyone, really, and the god looks so confident that you just don’t have the heart to shatter their illusions.
“A reporter,” you finally manage to spit out, your heart pounding. That’s not a lie, is it? Probably not! It’s the only thing that you can think to say at the moment, anyway. “T-tengu like news…” you awkwardly add.
“Eh? So you’re not a high-ranking official?” Lady Kanako raises an eyebrow, looking slightly deterred, though by all means not discouraged. “That’s fine,” she says, “So, I would assume that the tengu society still values knowledge, though I’d gather that in a world as small as this, there would be no wars for them to be the harbingers of.”
“You’re right,” you nod, “We’ve shifted from politics and wars to being Gensokyo’s main network of information.”
“A powerful position to be in, to be sure,” she says with a smirk, “…And this mountain. It must be the phantom of Yatsugatake. How ironic that our shrine would end up on top of it. Tell me, tengu, aside from your clan, are there any other major youkai forces here?”
“Eh? Um… I guess there’s the kappa. I don’t think they have a single leader, though. They’re our allies here.”
Lady Kanako nods, her smirk growing wider. “What fortune, then,” she says decisively, rising from the table, “Sanae!”
“It is decided,” she declares in a loud and dramatic voice, “This mountain shall be the base of our main shrine!”
Admittedly, she would look much more impressive if she was, say, outside rather than in the living room of a comfortable looking home.
“Of course, we’ll have to establish branch shrines in other areas of Gensokyo as well,” she continues, crossing her arms together, “But with the aid of the kappa and the tengu, we will spread our influence throughout this world of youkai. Gensokyo will be ours! There shall be no defiant heretics to stand in our way!”
Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.
Lady Kanako stands proudly, as if admiring herself in silence. Her smirk drops, however, when she looks at the two of you still sitting at the table. Neither of you are clapping. Sharply, she turns around, looking up at the ceiling. “Who are you?” she demands, her eyes narrowing.
“Oh no, don’t mind me,” a mature woman’s voice replies, coming from none other than Miss Yukari, peering inside from a gap formed on the surface of the ceiling, “Please, do carry on with your evil scheme of conquest,” she says with an amused smile.
“Don’t make me repeat my question,” her voice firm and unwavering, Lady Kanako speaks in a commanding voice.
The gap in the ceiling closes shut, and another opens up at the doorway, through which Miss Yukari steps out of, standing face to face with the god. “Yakumo Yukari. Pleased to meet you,” she says with a smile, “Ooh, the scent of this tea. I recognize the brand. It’s said to be quite healthy in the outside world, isn’t it? I’ve wanted to try it for a while now,” she says, walking past Lady Kanako and sitting at the table before turning to Sanae, “Won’t you treat this guest with a cup of it?”
Sanae, still recovering from surprise, attempts to stand from the table, but is quickly stopped by a gesture from her god.
“I don’t remember inviting you to be a guest,” she says coldly to Miss Yukari.
“How rude,” she says, looking miffed, “The way I see it, you’re the guest here. Honestly, barging into my Gensokyo, with the subtlety of an Indian elephant! You gave me quite a shock when you broke through the barrier like that, you know, and interrupted my much needed rest,” She stops to stifle a yawn.
“You’re the youkai of the border?” Lady Kanako says, relaxing a little, “Then I must compliment you. Moving the shrine was an unexpectedly difficult trial.”
“Thanks to you, now I have to mend the damages to it. Well, not me personally; that’s really up to Ran. But that’s beside the point,” Miss Yukari says, “Now, how about that tea?”
Sanae looks towards Lady Kanako, who nods, and heads off to the kitchen. Miss Yukari watches her movements with a smirk, apparently thinking of something she found amusing.
“A rival shrine maiden…” you hear her faintly whisper to herself, “How interesting.”
The shrine maiden returns with a steaming kettle, which she pours into the teapot already set on the table. Heading back to the kitchen to put away the kettle, she returns with two cups, placing them on the table before pouring the hot tea into the teacups.
“Thank you very much,” Miss Yukari says, sipping from her cup without even waiting for it to cool. “Ah, tastes as good as I expected.”
“So? To what do we owe the grace of your presence here?” Lady Kanako says in an almost sarcastic tone as she seats herself at the table once more.
“Oh, nothing, really,” she says, lowering her cup, “I just thought I’d be a dear and come say hi to a new neighbor moving in. Aren’t I just sweet?” she laughs. “But more importantly, it’s important that you learn a few things about Gensokyo before you go about settling in.”
“And what might those things be?”
“You’re familiar with danmaku, aren’t you?”
“Of course,” Lady Kanako nods, “Danmaku play between gods weren’t uncommon in the old days of faith.”
“Then this shouldn’t take too long,” Miss Yukari smiles, looking pleased as she reaches into a small gap, pulling out a piece of paper. With a flick of the wrist, she throws it at the god, who coolly catches it between her index and middle fingers. “That’s called a “spellcard.” I’m sure a god of your caliber will find it simple to reproduce many more like it.”
“A spellcard?” Lady Kanako repeats, holding the piece of paper in her hand and gazing intently at it, “I see it holds the power to alter reality,” she notes.
“Yes,” Miss Yukari responds with a smile, “All conflicts between humans and youkai in Gensokyo are to be solved with a danmaku battle. The purpose of the spellcards are to limit the powers of the combatants, or otherwise things drag on or get a bit too messy.”
“Um…” Sanae speaks up, “In other words, danmaku festivals replace actual combat?”
“Precisely,” the youkai replies, “Well, of course, some aspects of regular combat are left in as well, but the spellcards are able to shift the border of battle, so there’s no need to fear for your life. Don’t expect attacks to not hurt, though. Heavens, no.”
Which is one reason why you never want to fight that oni ever again. Her attacks feel brutal.
“Border of battle…? What do you mean?” Sanae asks, confused.
“Hm… well,” Miss Yukari struggles to come up with a suitable explanation. Suddenly, she raises a finger, “For example, think of it like an RPG. Your characters can get stabbed, run over, burned to a crisp, and blasted to oblivion in battle. But in the cutscenes afterwards, they look completely unharmed, right?”
You blink. RPG? Cutscenes? What on earth is she talking about? Sanae seems to understand, though, because she’s patiently nodding her head as Miss Yukari continues to explain.
“That’s because they’re playing by the rules of the videogame. The spellcards impose those same rules here. As long as you’re fighting while its rules are in effect, you won’t be seriously harmed. The spellcard rules turn a dangerous battle with your life at stake into a game.”
“Wow… I see, I guess that makes sense,” Sanae nods, a look of comprehension dawning on her. That didn’t make the slightest amount of sense to you, though.
“Good,” Miss Yukari nods, downing the rest of the tea in her cup, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go back to sleep. I wish this shrine the best of luck.” She sets the cup down on the table, and then gives a little wave before sinking into a gap on the floor, which shuts after her head disappears.
“Gensokyo sure is amazing…” Sanae says in an awe-struck voice, looking at the spot where Miss Yukari had been sitting less than a few seconds ago.
Lady Kanako nods, and then turns her attention to you. “Right, first on the agenda,” she says to herself before speaking to you, “Will you listen to what I have to say, tengu reporter?”
“… Um, yes…?” you reply nervously.
“I wish for you to carry a message to your superiors,” she says, gazing at you with uncomfortable seriousness, “Will you act as the bridge of communication between the shrine and your clan?”
Like a messenger, or some kind of a diplomat?
[ ] You’ll do it. It might even help alleviate punishments from the tengu.
[ ] No, you’re in enough trouble already.