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8267 No. 8267
[X] Sat next to Miss Inubashiri.
---

You placed your tray on the table, sitting down on the cushion next to Miss Inubashiri. Sitting on her other side was Miss Aya, and sitting directly opposite you was Professor Ogata. Miss Inubashiri glanced at you, gave you a warm smile, and resumed eating her bowl of udon.

“Yo, Miki~!” Miss Aya greeted you, having already finished eating. “Did you get the papers to the printers?”

You nodded, picking up your chopsticks. It had taken you a while to learn how to use these, and you were still a bit awkward at it, but you were able to handle them well enough to eat. You dipped them into the bowl, stirring the noodles around a bit.

“Oh yeah, Miss Aya. You gave me a little more money than I needed,” you say. A small amount of change was still left over from your visit to the presses.

“Huh? That so? Well, you can keep it. I don’t write for money,” she said, before proudly sticking out her chest and announcing with a bold voice. “It’s the job of a reporter to pursue the truth! The money comes after that.”

“If you’re done eating, get outta here, Shameimaru,” old man Ogata said irritably, and Miss Aya gave a small bow before leaving the room. He opened up a bottle of sake, pouring into a small dish, taking a swig. “Want some, kid?”

“…No, no thank you,” you politely declined. Not that you didn’t like it, but whenever you accepted his offer, you’d end up drinking the whole night away in a competition with the other tengu, and it upset Miss Inubashiri to see you do that. Old man Ogata gave a small chuckle before returning to his drink.

You ate your bowl of udon, although a couple of times, your awkward use of the chopsticks made a bit of a mess of things, spilling the broth on the table and scalding your face. This was really frustrating, but you also realized that learning to properly use chopsticks was going to be pretty much essential here; you can’t use forks forever. It wasn’t proper.

“Mikio,” you heard Miss Inubashiri calling your name, and so you turned your gaze towards her. “Hold still.”

She began took hold of one of your shoulders and wiped your face with a paper napkin, cleaning up some of the broth that had splashed around your mouth and cheeks. You felt your face warm up a little as you closed your eyes and did as she instructed, keeping still.

“You shouldn’t eat so messily,” she scolded, her expression stern but not cold. She softened up soon, however. “…But I guess you can’t help that.”

“…Sorry, I’ll try not to spill things so much,” you say, taking the napkin from her hand and wiping it across the table, cleaning up spilt broth. You then stood up from the table, taking your leave as Miss Inubashiri and old man Ogata watched you.

As you left, you heard Ogata say something to Miss Inubashiri.

“…you’re spoiling the boy. Pretty soon, he’ll grow up, you know.”

“…Yes, sir.”

You pretended not to hear as you exited the room and headed for the sleeping quarters.

---

A blazing summer day.

You pulled your blade out from the last of the youkai’s body.

“…Ah…t-thank you,” a man nearby stammered, wiping sweat from his brows. Behind him was a caravan. Probably from a nearby threatened village. Most likely heading to the main human settlement.

You remained silent, blood still dripping from your blade. Ruins of buildings stood around you.

“L-looks like an abandoned village…” the man continued to speak, looking around. “…W-were other humans living here…?”

“…A long time ago,” you answer briefly.

“Ah…I…I see…”

“…Going to human settlement,” you asked in complete monotone. It took several seconds for the man to realize he was being addressed a question.

“..Y-yes…we’re migrating there. It’s become too dangerous lately…”

“I’m heading there too. Hire me.”

“H-hire? Um…who are you…?”

“Youkai exterminator. I kill youkai.”

“…Um, yes. I suspected as much, but…I meant your name…”

“Don’t have one.”

“Ah…okay. Um, but we don’t have anything to pay you with…”

“Food will do.”

---

Sometimes, you just wake up early for no reason. Sometimes, you feel you’ve dreamt of something important. But those times, you can never remember what it was that you were dreaming of, or why you woke up.

You hated that. It would just keep bothering you throughout the day. But today, it wasn’t just the dream that was bothering you, but you also woke up with a painful throat. It felt like something spiky had crawled into it, prickling your neck.

Groaning, you quickly got dressed in your usual clothes. Today was Kendo lessons. Professor Ogata would pull aside one of the white wolf tengu to set up as your sparring partner. Usually, this left you with bruises by the end of the lessons. Some of them were nice enough to hold back from really hurting you, but some of the partners were particularly merciless. It was usually the guys that narrowed their eyes when you walked by them and muttered “human” that really put the hurt on you.

You arrived at the dojo you sparred in, Professor Ogata and another tengu were already there, awaiting your arrival. Seems you lucked out for today. Your opponent was the black-haired white wolf tengu; the one you can never remember the name of. Sato or Yaso, or something like that. He was kind of a nice guy, but very stoic. But it was surprising to know he was really sensitive about his hair color, seeing as he was supposed to be a white wolf tengu.

“…Hey kid, you didn’t oversleep for once. Good going,” old man Ogata gave you a slap on the back that made your back sting for a bit, and you gave him a scowl that he ignored. “Grab your shinai and armor.”
The black-haired tengu gave you a somewhat sympathetic look, or at least you think he did, anyway. It was kind of hard to tell what he was thinking, seeing as his expressions had the flexibility of a piece of rock. You decked yourself out in armor and grabbed your shinai, holding it properly with both hands.

“Alright, kid. Same as always. You ready?”

Your opponent put on his helmet and readied his shinai. Your throat still hurt, and your nose felt stuffed, but you don’t think it would affect your performance too much…

[] On second thought, my body doesn’t feel so good.
[] Let’s do it.

>> No. 8268
[] Let’s do it.
>> No. 8269
[x] Do it, faggot.
>> No. 8270
[x] Let’s do it.
>> No. 8271
[] Let’s do it.
>> No. 8272
>[] On second thought, my body doesn’t feel so good.
Weakling option. You're not a weakling, are you?

[X] Let’s do it.
>> No. 8273
[] On second thought, my body doesn’t feel so good.
>> No. 8274
[x] Let's do this. My body can take it.
>> No. 8275
I HOPE MY BODY CAN TAKE IT
>> No. 8276
[X] Let’s do it.

Men keep going until they drop.
And when they drop, they drink their tea.
>> No. 8278
>Sato or Yaso, or something like that. He was kind of a nice guy, but very stoic.

Sayo~

[x] Yaranaika?
>> No. 8279
[X] Let’s do it.
>> No. 8280
[x] Let’s do it.
[x] Pass out.

Momizi: "You shouldn't fight with a fever like that~"
>> No. 8281
File 123411790384.jpg - (234.39KB , 522x750 , 1231412624421.jpg ) [iqdb]
8281
[x] Let’s do it.
---

Right, this was no biggie. You’ll just finish up here and then go take a rest afterwards; that should be fine, right?

“I’m ready,” your voice left small echoes in your helmet, as you gripped your shinai tightly, readying yourself for the spar. Your opponent gave you a nod, and steeled himself as well.

“Alright then,” old man Ogata’s voice rang out loud and clear. “Begin!”

Immediately, your opponent stepped forward, his footwork smooth and graceful as he delivered an overhead swing. You managed to parry the blow easily enough, stepping back a bit to give yourself more room from the man.

“Watch your footwork, now. That was pretty sloppy.”

Ignoring Ogata’s voice, you quickly stepped forward, lightly thrusting the tip of your shinai towards your opponent. He quickly brought down his blade, forcing yours to the ground. Lifting it back up, he sent another swing at your arm. The blow struck you on the wrist before you could bring up your blade to block.

“Tch,” you spat, as the two of you stepped backwards from one another, only the tips of your shinais touching the other. Ignoring the pain on your wrist, you began shifting to the side as your opponent tried to circle around you. You kicked off the ground, rushing at him with reckless abandon while swinging towards his head. He easily blocked the blow, and your blades locked as you pressed forward, forcing him back.

The man quickly pushed you back, and you stepped backwards as he attempted to jolt you with a quick jab. Both of you were playing cautious for now, occasionally sending each other light blows that would quickly be parried or dodged. That man was definitely holding back on you; he would be a lot more aggressive otherwise.
Finally, he seemed to tire of the stalemate, and sent a powerful thrust towards your torso. Heh, a thrust would be too easy to dodge at this range. His arms were longer than yours, so he may have had more range, but it wasn’t long enough for the tip to reach you if you were to take a step ba-

You suddenly couldn’t move your body. You could only watch as the tip of the shinai became closer and closer. Or was that a shinai that was coming towards you? No…it was a sharpened metal spike. It cut through the air towards you, stabbing through your shoulder with such force that it sent you off your feet. Your back hit the wall behind you, as the metal spike embedded itself into it, pinning you there. No matter how desperately you struggled, you could not free yourself…you could not free yourself…you could not free your-

Reality hit you full force as you flew through the air, colliding with the floor and sliding across the slippery surface. There was a dull pain spreading across your chest, the armor had only slightly absorbed the force of the blow. You let out ragged coughs as you struggled to push yourself up off the ground. Your opponent was there in a flash, having dropped his shinai and taking off his helmet, tossing it aside as he crouched down near you to help you sit up.

“Kirita, are you okay?” he asked, looking at you with uncertain guilt as you took in deep breaths, rubbing your chest plate. The pain had mostly numbed, but you couldn’t seem to stop coughing. The man gave you light slaps on the back, which made you feel a bit better, although the fits of coughing weren’t gone.

“Damn it, kid. Why’d you suddenly freeze up like that?” old man Ogata was there as well, taking off your helmet roughly with one hand and dropping it on the floor. “Go take a break on the bench.”

Your opponent helped you get back on your feet, and you let him take your arm around his neck as he walked you over to the benches, where you slumped back unceremoniously. Your breathing had become heavy, and your eyesight went back-and-forth between focused and unfocused. Your face was covered in sweat, even though the practice had barely begun. The man brought his hand up to your forehead, and quickly drew it back.

“The boy has a high fever, sir,” he reported, turning towards old man Ogata, who walked over to you and took your temperature himself as if to confirm it.

“Damn it, kid. Why didn’t you just tell me you were sick?” He spat, lighting up his pipe and taking a long drag from him. “Take him to the infirmary, Inuhashi.” Mister Inuhashi nodded as he took you by one arm and lifted you up to your feet.

“Can you walk?” he asked, and you answered with a weak nod. Feebly, you began walking with Inuhashi supporting you.
---
“Yo, Miki! I brought you some tea~” a familiar voice shouted loudly as you opened your eyes, sitting up from your soft futon, pushing your warm blanket down to your legs. Beside you was Miss Aya, carrying a tray with two cups and a teapot with designs of flowers on it.

“What are you doing here, Miss Aya?” you asked, accepting a cup after she poured some fragrant tea into it and offered it to you.

“Ah, well, I heard my cute little “assistant” was feeling ill, so I rushed over as fast as I could,” she said, pouring tea into her own cup and taking a sip. “…And the printers weren’t finished with those copies yet, so I had nothing else to do at the moment.” Well gee, don’t you feel appreciated.

“Anyway, how’d you get sick? I mean, it’s autumn, but it’s not all that cold, you know?”

[] Might as well tell her.
[] Just drink your tea and go to sleep.
>> No. 8282
[x] Might as well tell her.
>> No. 8283
[x] Might as well tell her.
>> No. 8284
[x] Might as well tell her.
>> No. 8285
[x] Might as well tell her.
>> No. 8286
[X] Might as well tell her.
No reason not to.
>> No. 8288
[x] Might as well tell her.

Fish wrestling.
>> No. 8289
[] Might as well tell her.

Aya knows best
>> No. 8290
>“Ah, well, I heard my cute little “assistant” was feeling ill, so I rushed over as fast as I could,”
Big sister Aya~?

[x] Might as well tell her.
>> No. 8291
File 123413357779.png - (276.58KB , 428x600 , 7bc4d63d5da5261899613405c01320eb.png ) [iqdb]
8291
[x] Might as well tell her.
---

Well yeah, no reason not to tell her. You brought your cup up, blowing on it to cool it down before taking a sip of the tea. Tasted kind of bitter, but maybe you just didn’t have the refined sense of taste to appreciate it.

“I fell in a lake,” you say simply, setting your cup back down on the tray. The hot liquid traveled comfortably down your sore throat, and you felt a little better. “The Misty Lake.”

“…Huh? What were you doing there?” she asked, taking another sip of her cup with a puzzled look on her face. “You know it’s dangerous around there, what with the wild youkai.”

“I wasn’t alone,” you say. You picked up the cup of tea again, taking another sip from it. Hmm, tastes a little better than before. Maybe it’s growing on you. “Miss Inubashiri was with me too. We were there to test out a new invention for one of the kappa.”

“New invention? What kind?”

“A fishing rod that doesn’t need bait. Uses vibration to attract them or something.”

“…Oh, I can see where this is going,” she said, setting her cup down on the tray and refilling it with tea. “Momi let you try?” You nodded, and she let out a snort.

“That place is infamous for the monstrously large fish, you know.” Miss Aya continued, drinking her tea in between sentences. “Plenty of humans go there trying to catch one, usually they end up going home empty-handed or chased off by youkai. Still, I wouldn’t blame Momi for not believing in them. Even if they’re really there, rumors say they usually don’t come up near the surface except on nights of the new moon.”

“Maybe the kappa’s fishing rod worked a little too well,” you offer your thought.

“Hah, maybe so. I’ll get to investigating the lake once I finish distributing the current issue of Bunbunmaru.” You finish your cup of tea and place it on the tray, which she picked up off the floor as she stood up. “Anyway, I’ll be going now. Take it easy for today, okay?”

“I will. Thanks, Miss Aya,” you said quietly as you lay back down on your futon, pulling your blanket up to your shoulders. You then closed your eyes and slowly drifted back into slumber.

---

Well, no weird dream this time. That was a good thing. You slowly opened your eyes; your throat still felt itchy, and you also had a nasty headache, but it wasn’t going to kill you or anything. More importantly, you felt kind of hungry.

As if to answer your prayers for food, you smell something delicious coming your way as well as footsteps that accompanied then scent. Someone must be here to bring you your dinner.

Ah, it’s Miss Inubashiri, carrying another tray with a bowl and spoon. You weakly raise your hand in greeting. She set the tray down beside you, and sat down on the floor. She brought her hand down on your forehead, checking your temperature.

“Good, seems your fever’s settled down a bit.” She seemed relieved, giving you a smile as she took her hand off of your head and slipped it underneath your back, helping you to sit up. She placed the tray on your lap; she brought you some warm soup. You took hold of the spoon, but your arm seemed to be drained of strength; you could hardly hold it steady. As you tried to scoop up some of the soup, it fell from your hand, clattering as it hit the tray.

You tried to pick it up, but Miss Inubashiri took it in her hand, scooped up some of the soup and cooled it down with her breath, then said.

“Open your mouth.” You could feel your cheeks flushing, but you did as she instructed as she brought the spoon up to your mouth. Like this, she fed you the soup, and although you felt embarrassed about being treated like a helpless child, it couldn’t be helped if you were too weak to even feed yourself.

“...From the way Miss Shameimaru described, it sounded like you were on the verge of death,” Miss Inubashiri said, as you finished off the last of the meal and she set the bowl and spoon back down on the tray. “…I’m glad it doesn’t seem to be serious. I was worried.”

“I’m okay. I just feel tired right now, that’s all,” you laugh it off. “But I was resting the whole day, so I’ll get better in no time. I’m going to have trouble sleeping, though, that’s what I’ve been doing all this time.”

She wordlessly reached out and placed her hand on your head, stroking it gently. You lowered your face a bit, your face reddening.

“I’m…I’m not a little kid, you know…” you voiced a light protest.

“…Of course,” a simple response. She took her hand off your head, and gently pushed you down onto your futon, tucking you in. “…Good night, Mikio.” You gave a nod as you closed your eyes and whispered.

“Good night….”

---

…You can’t sleep. You don’t even feel sleepy. It must be late-night by now, but you’ve slept for far too long during the day to fall asleep now.

On the other hand, though, your strength’s returned to you. You feel a lot better now, actually. You feel energetic enough to walk around a bit, and your throat doesn’t feel like it’s being stabbed by a hundred needles whenever you swallow something anymore.

Still, it might be best to just try to go to sleep instead of tiring yourself out…

[] Go take a stroll.
[] Try to sleep.
>> No. 8292
This story is gonna give me cavities.

[x] Go take a stroll.

If you can't sleep, you can't sleep.
>> No. 8293
[] Go take a stroll.
>> No. 8294
[x] Go take a stroll.
>> No. 8295
{X} Go take a stroll.
>> No. 8296
[] Go take a stroll.
>> No. 8297
[X] Go take a stroll.
Tire yourself out so you can sleep better.
>> No. 8298
[x] Take a stroll.
>> No. 8299
[x] Go take a stroll.
---

No point in trying to force yourself to sleep, and you could use a little movement after a whole day of inactivity. Opening your eyes, you tossed your blanket aside and stood up with little difficulty. Your limbs felt light and responsive, and your head no longer hurt.

You shift around your head, cracking your neck and letting out a satisfied sigh as you stretched out the rest of your body. Putting on a pair of slippers, you headed out of the infirmary’s sleeping quarters.

The candles had, by now, been put out, but the hallways were still little with those ever-burning torches. Your eyes were well adjusted to darkness, and so you had no trouble navigating the tunnels. You were really starting to know the place like the back of your hand, since there were frequent times when you really had nothing to do after finishing the day’s lessons; you often went out exploring the inside of the mountain.

You didn’t know where you were going, though. Just picking random directions to go in, letting your feet take you wherever it was that they led to. Pretty soon, you realized that you were heading for the tunnels leading to the outside.

A pleasant increase in breeze greeted you as you stepped out from the mountain. The night sky was clear without clouds; a rarity for the season. The surroundings were lit by the myriads of stars, as well as the radiant glow of the full moon.

“…The moon sure is beautiful tonight,” you admired out loud, your gaze lost on the surface of the moon as you walked a little further into the outside. You held out your arm towards it, making a motion as if to grasp it in your hand.

“…It really is,” spoke another voice, nearby a gathering of trees close by the exit of the mountain. A voice that you were sure had never heard before, but...

You turned your head towards the voice. Standing there was a man with long hair, although his face was mostly obscured from your vision by the shadows of nearby trees.

You remained silent as the figure grew larger, walking closer to you. His details, however, curiously remained just beyond the threshold of vision. The man turned his head to the moon, before beginning to speak again.

“…I’m glad you’re here. Tonight’s moon is too good to look at alone, you know?” he said, and you somehow felt that he was smiling at you.

“…Moon watching isn’t something to be done in groups, either,” you heard yourself saying. The words slipped out of your mouth without thought, as though you had briefly lost control of your body.

The man gave a loud laugh, returning his gaze to the moon. “I suppose you’re right. There really ain’t a point in watching the moon, I guess. A full moon has dangerous connotations, too. It ain’t good to be out at night when it’s there, y’know. Youkai will get you.”

“Youkai are dangerous no matter what phase the moon is in,” you responded coldly, again without thought. It was as if someone else were speaking for you.

“Hah, you’re right about that, too.” The man laughed again, running one hand through his hair. “…I believe that. Youkai are all monsters. To me, that’s the undeniable fact of things. But is that what you believe?”

This time, you had no response to give him, and so you remained silent. The man, however, seemed to have a lot of things to say, and continued to talk.

“Or rather, is that what you want to believe? Or maybe you just can’t think any other way?”

“…You talk too much.”

“Haha, sorry about that, kid. I like to hear my own voice, I guess.”

Still, you felt comfortable talking with him. This unknown person, a complete stranger, possibly dangerous enemy; you were at peace with him. You actually didn’t mind listening to him talk, even if what he said came off to you as meaningless banter.

“But I’ll tell you this,” he continued to speak, now walking closer to you. He was now fully in the moonlight, yet a shadow was still cast on his face. It seems something absolutely refused to let you look at it. “You can’t live like this forever. It was decided the moment you wanted to pursue the truth. You can’t escape it; someday, all you have will come to an end.”

“…Shut up,” without thinking, your hand shot out and grabbed his face, covering his eyes and nose as you pulled it next to your face, low enough for you two to be at eye-level. He continued to talk. Now he was annoying.

“…But what that means is up to you, you know,” he whispered into your ear as you applied more force onto your grip. “…You can’t run away.”

And then you crushed his head in between your fingers, warm blood splattering on one side of your face, your hands sticky and soaked with the blood and gray matter. You tossed the man’s broken body at the trees from where he had emerged. With a crash, the body collided against the trees, ripping right through several trunks with sickening splashes of blood everywhere. The ground shook as the trees fell, and you returned to the mountain. Still dazed, you made your way to your bed at the infirmary and slipped in, closing your eyes.

---

You open your eyes. The first thing you did was bring your hand up to your face. It was clean; no blood or bits of brain anywhere on it.

…Damn it, what the hell kind of a dream was that?!

…this was going to be a bad day…

[] Screw this, back to sleep.
[] …Time to get up, can’t go back to sleep after that, anyway.
>> No. 8300
[x] …Time to get up, can’t go back to sleep after that, anyway.

Well, that was a gruesome aside.
>> No. 8301
[X] …Time to get up, can’t go back to sleep after that, anyway.
[X] Make a note of this in your dream diary.
>> No. 8302
[X] …Time to get up, can’t go back to sleep after that, anyway.
[X] Make a note of this in your dream diary.

Sounds good to me.
>> No. 8303
{X} …Time to get up, can’t go back to sleep after that, anyway.
{X} Make a note of this in your dream diary.

lol dream diary
>> No. 8304
[x] Screw this, back to sleep.

Seems like anon wants routes that will lead to bad things.
>> No. 8305
so wait... what time is it (how long did he sleep)? and the dream diary thing... can mikio write well enough?
>> No. 8306
[X] Screw this, back to sleep.

Ogata will chew us out for it, but we could use some real rest. Plus, I want a chance at a scene where Momi has to wake us, and we're just too D'AAWWWW for her to do it.

Also, fuck Mysterious Stranger, we can have a happy life.
>> No. 8307
[x] Screw this, back to sleep.
>> No. 8309
[x] Screw this, back to sleep.
>> No. 8310
[X] Screw this, back to sleep.
We're still not clear of the disease, or even if we are, a good rest makes it more certain we won't have a relapse.
>> No. 8311
[X] Screw this, back to sleep.

Oh, what's this now? We can't lead happy life if we pursue the truth?
Then we shall leave the truth in its own peace!
>> No. 8312
[X] Screw this, back to sleep.
>> No. 8313
[X] …Time to get up, can’t go back to sleep after that, anyway.
[X] Make a note of this in your dream diary.
>> No. 8315
[x] Screw this, back to sleep.
---

Ugh, well, whatever. It’s too early to wake up at the moment, anyway. The candles of the infirmary weren’t lit, so that means it was still before waking hours. You shifted around in your bed, turning to your side as you slipped your hand beneath your pillow and pulled up the blanket you seemed to have kicked off while sleeping.

Still, the events of that dream seemed to remain really vivid. It must have left quite an impression on your mind. You’d think more deeply into it, but that only seemed to accomplish in giving you a headache, so you decided not to worry about it for the time being.

Miss Aya gave you a notebook and a pen for your “birthday”, so maybe you should start recording your dreams in it…

…yeah, that might be a good idea…

……

You stifled a yawn as you sat up from your bed, having awakened from a dreamless slumber. It was definitely waking hours by now, as all the candles in the infirmary had been lit, presumably by the tengu that worked here. Turning your head, you saw a folded piece of paper lying on the ground beside you. You picked it up and unfolded it, reading slowly.

”Take the day off. – Ogata”

Short and to the point as always. The old man did hate wasting time, after all. Still, he seemed to understand that you might still need rest or you might suffer from relapse, so you felt a little grateful to him.

Speaking of which, a little rest had done you some good. You felt comfortably cozy in the warmth of your blanket, and your head felt clear instead of wracked with headaches and dizziness as before. You reached out your arms, letting out a yawn and you stretched your body, smacking your dry lips to moisten them.

“Ah, Kirita Mikio. You’re awake,” a woman’s voice greeted the return of your attention to the room, as you turned your head toward her. She was the assistant to the doctor here, a yamabushi tengu by the name of Maeda. She was an elderly woman, and unlike the male yamabushi tengu, lacked an elongated nose. “Here, I’ve brought you breakfast.”

She handed you a tray, which you accepted with a slight bow as you placed it on your lap. The menu for today seemed to be a plain bowl of rice with a piece of grilled salmon. You cut the piece of the fish into smaller bits using your spoon as a knife, and ate them along with your rice. After you finished, you thanked Miss Maeda for the meal, who gave you a smile and a nod before carrying away the tray.

With your stomach full, and your throat and head feeling pretty normal, you figured it might be best to tell the doctor that you had more or less recovered. And so you stood up from your bed, carefully rolled up the blanket and straightened the pillow, and walked off to the office of the infirmary.

“…You’ve recovered already?” Doctor Suzuki inquired as you told him about your condition, stroking his curled, thin goatee. “…Hm…that’s remarkable. We didn’t give you any medicine for cold, since the ones we had were too strong for human standards…you must be quite a healthy boy.”

You decided it might be best to just keep quiet as the Doctor placed his hand on your forehead, checking your temperature.

“Hm, well, seems your temperature’s back to normal. I’d say you’d better stay here a bit longer to avoid relapse, but…” He paused, before giving you a light poke on the forehead with his index and middle fingers. “Seems you’re already bored of the infirmary, eh?” He laughed as he said this, and you awkwardly laughed with him.

You stepped out of the office, changing out from your sleepwear to your usual clothes, which had been neatly laid out for you near the entrance to the infirmary. Stepping out into the corridors, you decided to…

[] Wander around inside for a bit.
[] Go outside.
>> No. 8316
[x] Go outside.

Go see Mommy-zi
>> No. 8318
[] Go outside.
>> No. 8319
[] Go outside.
>> No. 8320
[X] Go outside.
Inb4 this isn't the Momizi option.
>> No. 8321
{X} Go outside.

Fresh air~
>> No. 8323
[x] Go outside.
>> No. 8326
[x] Wander around inside for a bit.
>> No. 8330
{X} Go outside.
>> No. 8331
File 123433382426.png - (570.81KB , 1370x1200 , 7ada01352a7653ae95ba8c2772f0c0ad.png ) [iqdb]
8331
[x] Go outside.
---

Yeah, nothing like celebrating your recovery like a breath of fresh air. Not that you didn’t get fresh air here, where the breeze always ran through the hallways and corridors…but nothing quite like the outside, with the sun beaming down on your body. And the water. The wet, horrible, cold water. You feel a shudder running down your spine just thinking about that lake; it’s consumed its share of unsuspecting adventurers, no doubt.

You almost change your mind about going outside, but a man wouldn’t shun the outside after just one bad experience, and so you steeled your resolve and pressed forward, heading to the exit of the mountain.

The bright sunlight of the outside approaches you as you stepped forward into it with tense steps. Dramatically, you stepped out into the light, shielding your eyes using your arm. The outside was…it was…the same as usual, obviously. Your absence from there had only been for a day, after all.

Your getas made contact with the soft earth as you continued to walk out of the entrance/exit. Looking to your left, you see a gathering of trees that seemed rather ominous to you somehow. Shaking off the feeling, you walked past them onto the mountain trail, heading down. You note with interest that there appeared to be several crows perched on the trees, watching you as you passed by.

Not long after you started on the trail, a blur of black and white whizzed by your vision, landing on the ground with a tap of the foot. A strong gust of wind pelted you with leaves and dust, and you crossed your arms in order to shield yourself from the assault of debris.

“Should you be up and about, Miki~?” You lowered your arms as you let out an exasperated sigh and spoke.

“I’ll be back to sleeping around the whole day if you kick up dust like that, Miss Aya.”

“Hah, guess you’re healthy enough if you can say that.” Miss Aya said, fanning herself using her hauchiwa. “Anyway, I just finished distributing all of the extras, so I’m heading in. Don’t stray too far from the mountain.”

And then she dashed off as fast as she had arrived, and the resulting surge of air nearly knocked you off your feet. Seriously, that woman needs to slow down a little.

You dusted yourself off and continued down the mountain, absentmindedly taking a look at the scenery around you. Today seemed to be a pretty calm day. Usually, there were a lot more fairies flying about being a nuisance to you. Bah, just because they can shoot fireworks at you and you can’t doesn’t mean they have to do it every time they saw you passing by.

You were at the streams leading down to the waterfall, taking a brief stop to drink from the stream. As you raised yourself up, however, there was a familiar presence behind you.

“…You shouldn’t be walking outside already, Mikio.” Miss Inubashiri’s voice. You turned around and saw her worried gaze. You gave what you hoped was a reassuring smile.

“It’s okay, Miss Inubashiri. I feel completely cured.” You say, although she didn’t seem convinced. “…by the way, is that someone behind you?”

Whoever was behind her gave a high-pitched squeal, and it seemed to you as if they were about to spring away. However, that person slowly peeked out from Miss Inubashiri’s back, taking a cautious look at you. Oh, it must be the kappa that kept running away from you. Miss Inubashiri stepped to the side, allowing you a full look at the girl.

She was slightly shorter than you were, and sported a blue dress with many pockets. On top of her twin-tailed hair was a green cap, and you could see that she was wearing a backpack of dark aquamarine strapped to a golden key on her front. She examined you with a curious stare, leaning closer to get a better look at you, which bothered you enough for you to uncomfortably shift around a bit.

“Ah, sorry…” She gave a quiet apology, apparently having noticed that she was staring. The kappa drew back her head, although she still seemed unaware of what to say. Miss Inubashiri gave a sigh and turned to you to speak.

“This is Kawashiro Nitori. She’s the kappa I told you about,” she introduced.

“Ah, um…I’m Kirita Mikio, nice to meet you…” you said, giving her a light bow. She returned it excitedly, but she bowed her head so low that her hat fell off her head, and she fumbled for it, hurriedly putting it back on.

“…Um…sorry,” the Kawashiro girl said after a brief silence, and then she took a deep breath and continued. “…I didn’t tell Miss Inubashiri about the monster fishes in Misty Lake, and I really, really should have. See, because kappa sometime drift all the way down there while they’re taking a nap, and then the fishes come up if we go in too deep into the lake, so like, it was a common knowledge for the kappa, and I didn’t even think about the possibility that she wouldn’t know about the fish nor did I think that a human would use my fishing rod, and it’s okay about the fishing rod, I always make a spare when I work on something and…am I talking too fast for you?”

…Wow. You thought that kappa was a really shy girl, but when she starts talking, she was practically doing it without breathing between sentences. You feel a slight bit overwhelmed by the run-on sentence, but you still managed to catch most of that.

“Um, you don’t need to apologize. I lost the fishing rod, and I’m healthy now, so…” you lamely finished; there wasn’t much else you could say in this situation. Kawashiro gave you a strained smile as she grasped Miss Inubashiri’s wrist.

“Actually, Miss Inubashiri here and I were about to start a game of Daishogi. You could come watch, oh but wait, I guess that would be pretty boring, but if you want, I could teach you how to play. How about it, um, Kirita Mikio…?”

[] Teach me how to play.
[] I'll just watch.
[] No thanks, I'm good.
>> No. 8332
[x] I'll just watch.
>> No. 8333
[X] Teach me how to play.
>> No. 8334
[x] Teach me how to play.
>> No. 8335
{X} Teach me how to play.
>> No. 8336
[X] Teach me how to play, if you know what I mean.
>> No. 8337
huzzah

[x] Teach me how to play.
>> No. 8338
[x] Watch and learn.

Explanation/RTFM -> Spectate -> Play
generally what I do when someone asks me to play something new.
>> No. 8340
>>8338
That's just about the best way to do it, I assumed that what the "teach me how to play" meant.
>> No. 8342
[x] Teach me how to play.
>> No. 8343
[x] I'll just watch.
>> No. 8344
>You feel a shudder running down your spine just thinking about that lake; it’s consumed its share of unsuspecting adventurers, no doubt.
Fucking lake.

[X] Teach me how to play.
>> No. 8345
File 123441550557.png - (119.68KB , 600x500 , 7c89155b3e3cce3269195c9ca3d28948.png ) [iqdb]
8345
[X] Teach me how to play.
---

“Dai shogi?” you ask, tilting your head slightly with a quizzical expression. “What kind of game is that?”

“It’s a board game. There’s all these pieces and stuff, and well, it’ll be easier to explain with the board set-up, so come on, come on!”

With that said, Kawashiro skipped behind you, apparently having thrown her earlier shyness to the winds. Floating from the ground, she slipped in her arms underneath your armpits, wrapping them up to your shoulder. Before you could voice a protest, she lifted you off the ground, and you uselessly flailed your legs.

“Woah, hey, wait!” you struggled, a little disoriented as you and the kappa rose up into the air.

“Hm? What’s wrong?” came the girl’s reply from behind you. She seemed completely oblivious as to how shocked you were.

You felt dizzy just looking at how far off the ground you already were. Beside you, Miss Inubashiri had also taken to the air, although for some reason she didn’t look too happy, scowling a bit.

“Ah…it’s just, I was really surprised…” you said quietly as you continued to fly through the air, feeling a bit anxious about being carried the way you were at the moment. “…Please warn me before you do that next time…um…Miss Kawashiro?”

“Nitori. Call me Nitori. And I’ll call you Mikio, okay?”

“…O-okay, Mi- um, Nitori.” You were just so used to addressing everyone formally that it was actually a little uncomfortable to talk to someone so casually…

The trip down the admittedly gigantic waterfall seemed to take a lot longer than it should, during which you began to lose the feeling in your arms; you had also tightly shut your eye, having discovered how deathly afraid you were of heights. None of the three of you had anything to say; only the deafening roar of the waterfall could be heard

“We’re about to touch down,” you could barely make out Nitori’s voice from behind you. You opened your eyes to take in the sight that awaited you; you were a ways from the bottom of the waterfall, near the bank of the river that flowed into the Misty Lake. Nitori gently lowered you down to the ground, letting go of you. Letting out a relieved breath, you massaged your numbed shoulders. Miss Inubashiri landed beside you, and Nitori walked over to her other side.

“I have the board and pieces set up near here. Follow me.”
---

The war would end with this one decisive battle.

You crossed your arms as you looked on in anticipation of battle. The final clash between your Kingdom of Cucumber-Sake and the Okami Empire would take place here; it shall be a glorious chapter of triumph in your nation’s history.

“High Minister Kawashiro, what is the report on our situation?” you barked, and a young girl dressed in an elegant blue china-dress stepped forward, spreading a map on the table that had been placed there for you. She then placed several pieces of rocks with kanji painted on the surface on the map, indicating the positions of your enemies as well as your own forces.

“Sir, reports indicate that the enemy’s troops are of similar size and have been placed in similar formation to ours. Their leader, Empress Inubashiri, is believed to be behind the leading forces.”

“I see. Then there is no way we can fail; for our troops are far superior than theirs, and our morale above the clouds.”

“Actually, sir, I’ve heard tales that their strength and discipline are able to match even our finest.”

“Bah, we’ll see about that. We shall charge their troops all of ours at once. Their overwhelming power will bring us swift victory!”

“Sir, I mean no disrespect, but it would be difficult to manage an attack of that scale. I recommend sending in small battalions one at a time; it will be wiser to be able to micro-manage the skirmishes.”

“Hmm…then we shall strike them with small forces from the back. They’ll not expect an ambush.”

“I’m afraid that’s not an option, sir,” Kawashiro said, pointing at the sides of the map. “There are impassable terrains here; and we are fighting in a plain field; there are no places to hide.”

“I see, so direct confrontations are our only option?” you say, stroking your chin.

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Then a direct confrontation is what they’ll get! I shall lead the charge against our foes; my battle cries shall raise the morale of our troops.”

“My liege, that is too risky. If you were to be killed in battle, I suspect that the confusion of the aftermath would send our troops into disarray; we cannot go on without you.”

“…Hm, I see…It pains me to say this, but I will have to leave the fighting to my troops.” Standing up from your sheath, you briskly walked out of the tent, drawing your sword from its scabbard. Kawashiro followed you out at your side.

Outside, your troops anticipated your coming, as you raised your sword into the air, the tip of it impressively gleaming with sunlight as you shouted.

“Come, brethren! We shall seize glory with our hands, and bring down those dogs!” The troops cheered, raising their weapons with cries of glory and of the coming battle.
---

“Sir! The troops are being routed left and right! They have no chance to fight back before they are overtaken by our enemies!” Kawashiro’s panicked voice indicated that things were not going well. At all.

“Damn it, how can this be happening,” you grit your teeth, standing behind several forces of men who had stayed behind to ensure your safety. “Do not succumb! Retreat is not an option; we fight to the last man!”

You had no intention of giving up or running away, these men have braved the dangers of war with you for this whole campaign. If they weren’t going home alive, then none of you were. That’s how determined you were about this battle; death in the battlefield was a glorious way to g- OH GOD IT’S A LION. A FREAKING LION IS JUMPING ON THE HEADS AND SHOULDERS OF YOUR MEN TO GET TO YOU RUN AWAY OH CRAP WHEN DID THAT EAGLE GET THERE NOWHERE ELSE TO RUN AUUUGH NOT THE FACE-

---

“Check….and I believe that’s mate,” Miss Inubashiri announced as she placed the Lion piece in a position where your King had nowhere else to run away from.

“Oh, so do I lose?” you ask, biting your thumb as you looked for any way to run. How embarrassing; near complete annihilation of your forces. Still, she really could’ve taken it a little easy on you.

“Don’t sweat it, Mikio. That was your first time playing,” Nitori’s voice came from behind you. She had practically been latched onto your back as she explained the rules and the ways the pieces moved. For a girl who was so shy to humans, she didn’t seem to understand the concept of private space. You also didn’t understand why Miss Inubashiri seemed a bit uncomfortable; was it because you were getting in the way of her and Nitori’s game?

“Anyway, Mikio. That took shorter than usual, so do you want to try another shot at it? Oh, if Miss Inubashiri doesn’t mind, of course, but if she doesn’t want to I’ll play with you.”

“Actually, my legs are feeling kind of cramped up from sitting around for so long, so I think I’ll…”

[] “…just watch you two play.”
[]”…go take a walk.”
>> No. 8348
That was awesome. Nitori seems like the kind of friend who's shy at first, but will then go on to trying to monopolize your time. At least, it'll be a learning experience for the rather passive Mikio.

[x] “…just watch you two play.”

Mikio is wondering why Momizi is acting weirded-out: Maybe he can learn something through observation.
>> No. 8349
[x] “…just watch you two play." Sit next to momoji
>> No. 8350
[] Catch a glance at Miss Inubashiri.
[]"…go take a walk."

Let Moemizi play with her Kappakappa.
>> No. 8351
[] Catch a glance at Miss Inubashiri.
[]"…go take a walk."
>> No. 8352
{X} “…just watch you two play.”
じ~
>> No. 8353
The more I see of Nitori, the more I love her.

[P] “…just watch you two play.”

If only we had a tail to wag. At least we can give Momizi an innocent stare and smile whenever she looks our way. Maybe throw in an admiring gaze or two for good measure.
>> No. 8354
>>8353
Do you want to give Momizi diabeetus?
>> No. 8355
>8354
obviously
>> No. 8359
[X] “…just watch you two play.”
Obviously we're siding for Momizi.
>> No. 8363
[x]”…go take a walk.”

board games more like bored games
>> No. 8367
[X] “…just watch you two play.”
>> No. 8369
[x] “…just watch you two play.”
---

“I’ll just watch you two play. Maybe I can pick up a little something from observation.” Having said that, you slowly stood up as Nitori drew away from you. You stretched your arms as you walked away from your seat, quickly replaced by Nitori. She began setting the pieces to their default positions at once, while Miss Inubashiri patiently watched her hands at work.

You walked a little ways away from the board, facing the direction of the waterfall. It was certainly a sight to behold; the mountain towered above the streams leading down to the base, and the sunlight reflected on the surface of the water in a dazzling show of light. Youkai Mountain was certainly a beautiful work of nature, if one were to ignore all the fairies and wild youkai lurking about.

After a little pause to admire the scenery, you turned back towards the game at hand. You walked near to the side of the board, taking a seat on the ground. Nitori had just finished arranging all of the pieces into their places; the battle was about to begin; Miss Inubashiri would be the first to make a move.

---

This was really taking a while. You don’t know how long it had been since the start of the game, but the round has dragged on for quite a bit. You weren’t sure which side was winning either; either they were evenly matched, or you just didn’t have the strategic prowess to see the tactical advantages either side held.

You don’t know when it was, but you had ended up sitting quite close to Miss Inubashiri, shifting around and leaning towards her to get a better look at the board from her position. She didn’t seem to mind at all, and even flashed you a smile when your gaze met hers for a brief moment afterwards. You returned it as best as you could.

You also noticed the distinct playing style between Miss Inubashiri and Nitori. Miss Inubashiri was very careful, and spent a long time during her turn, probably planning out each move in advance. Many times she would pick up a piece, only to leave it where it was after some consideration.

In contrast to that, Nitori seemed much more carefree about the game. She didn’t even seem to think about her moves before moving a unit. She would take one look at the board, then seemingly pick up a random piece off the board and place it anywhere it could go. Nitori also seemed very easily distracted as well; she was playing with a piece of reed in her fingers, and often did not pay attention to the board until the distinct sound of a piece hitting the board was heard And not just that, either, but you get the feeling that she was still staring at you whenever your attention was focused on the board, although you haven’t yet managed to catch her before she looked away from you.
---

“Alright, check and mate!” Nitori’s let out a triumphant announcement. “The score is Cucumber-to-Cattail!”

“…Cucumber…to cattail..?” you said uncertainly, confused. Those weren’t even numbers, what in the world did they mean?

“..We stopped keeping a real count a long time ago, so it’s always just cucumber-to-cattail; whoever wins has the score cucumber and the loser has cattail.” Nitori explained, as though it were something of dire importance.

Miss Inubashiri didn’t seem too bothered by her loss, although her gaze was focused on her King piece, mumbling something under her breath. Maybe she was trying to think of a way she could have turned the game around earlier? You’re not sure, but the number of conquered pieces seemed about even on both sides…

By the time the game had ended, the sun had settled bit of ways to the west. It was probably near four o’clock by now, although you were never too sure about the time of the day. You heard Miss Aya boast that she could tell the time down to the exact minute by the position of the sun, and while she may be tooting her own horn, she wasn’t really a liar; so that was kind of impressive.

Miss Inubashiri and Nitori stood up from their seats, with Miss Inubashiri sweeping the pieces into a container, while Nitori picked up the board, folding it in half and tucking inside the legs that supported it. You followed suit and stood up as well, and Nitori spoke to you.

“Anyway, I’m heading back home now, Mikio. It was really nice to talk to you. Kappa are the sworn friends of humans, so I’ll always be glad to help you out!” she said while hefting the folded board with one hand, and giving some sort of a weird salute with her other hand. “Bye now!” She then sprang towards the river without waiting for a response, diving into the currents.

“…She forgot to take the pieces,” Miss Inubashiri sighed, holding the container for the game pieces in her hands. “…Oh well. Come on, Mikio. We still have some time before my night shift starts…”
---

Tired today. Second part tomorrow.
>> No. 8370
First part is awesome. Second part will be anticipated.
>> No. 8372
>The score is Cucumber-to-Cattail!”
Suddenly, Calvinball flashbacks.
>> No. 8374
File 123463742121.jpg - (222.84KB , 400x800 , happyvalentines.jpg ) [iqdb]
8374
Happy Valentine's Day.

momizi pop
---

“So are we going to return the pieces?” you asked, walking a bit closer to her.

“No, we’ll just leave them here. She’ll come back once she remembers she left them behind.” Miss Inubashiri replied, setting the container down on the ground. “And no one’s going to take them, anyway.”

“Haha, I guess you’re right about that,” you said, standing beside her. “…By the way, night shift? Aren’t you on your watch right now?”

“No, actually. Today’s my off-day on the day watch. I’m not on the patrol until evening for today. I went to see how you were doing earlier, but you were sleeping so peacefully, I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Oh…I wouldn’t have minded,” scratching the back of your head, you turned towards the direction of the waterfall. “So are we heading back to the mountain now?”

“Not right away, no. Why, are you feeling hungry?” She asked, turning to you and waiting for your answer.

“Mmm…not really.” You said, biting on your thumb as you looked around the area. You ate breakfast a little late, after all.

“Great, then do you want to go eat some chestnuts?”

“Chestnuts…?” tilting your head, you made a puzzled expression. “What are chestnuts?”

“They’re edible nuts that grow on trees. Sweet taste. There’s a monster of a chestnut tree down here.”

And then she took you by the wrist, gently pulling you along. She somehow seemed a bit more excited than her usual, somewhat serious self. Was she always like this on her days off?

---

Whoa, that really is a monster of a tree. It was easily fifteen times as tall as you were, and the leaves spread out far enough to block out the sun entirely when you stood underneath it. And speaking of the leaves, they were colored brightly in orange and yellow, giving off an impressive beauty.

The leaves under your feet rustled and snapped as you walked to the base of the trunk, as Miss Inubashiri let go of your hand to fly up to the branches. She quickly returned with an armful of what you assumed to be chestnuts. They were covered in what seemed to be spiny coats.

She sat down on the ground, leaning on the tree, and you followed suit, taking a seat very close to her. Dumping the load into her lap, she took one in hand and peeled it; handing you one of the nuts. Taking it from her hand, you turned it around in your palm. The surface was smooth, and shaped like an irregular sphere. You popped it into your mouth and bit down.

Crunch.

Ow. You spit out what you had in your mouth. Oh, was this a shell? There was a slight crack running down the surface of the nut, but it had endured your teeth. A hand reached out and nipped it from you. Looking beside you, Miss Inubashiri brought your chestnut to her mouth and bit down on it with one of her pointed fangs. With an audible crack, it broke through the shell, and she split the chest nut in half using her hands, giving one half to you.

The inside of the chestnut contained golden brown flesh. You bit down on the half, scraping off the flesh with your front teeth. It seemed to melt inside your mouth, giving off a sweet taste that also wasn’t too sweet. You scraped the remains of the flesh with your finger, taking it inside your mouth and sucking on it.

Miss Inubashiri continued to peel the chestnut with her hand, biting the peeled nuts to split it in half and give it to you. The two of you ate this way for a while, the pleasant autumn breeze blowing by your face. How peaceful.

”You can’t live like this forever.”

---

…Eh…? Did you doze off? Looking around, you seemed to be in the air, rising steadily above the waterfall. Ah, Miss Inubashiri was carrying you on her back, flying up the waterfall. Her back felt so warm on your body, and her hair smelled so nice.

…Maybe it was best to just stay quiet like this…

You stirred a bit as she landed on the ground, next to the streams of water that led to the waterfall.

“…Are you awake, Mikio?” she asked, still carrying you on her back as she began walking the path to the ground entrance to the mountain.

“..Yeah, I can walk by myself,” you said uncertainly. She didn’t seem to hear you, however, and carried on.

She didn’t let you off until she had reached the entrance to the tunnels, slowly lowering you as your feet met the ground. Unwrapping your arms from her neck, you felt slightly disoriented as you stood on the ground. The sun had nearly gone completely down.

“You should go eat dinner, Mikio,” Miss Inubashiri gave you a smile as you turned to her.

“Aren’t you going to eat, too?”

“I’m not hungry at the moment, and we spent a little too much time below the mountain. My evening shift’s already started.”

“Oh…” You couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. She seemed to have noticed your expression, reaching out to pinch your cheek lightly.

“…Don’t make that kind of face. I really enjoyed my day off; it’s only natural that I’d have to get right back to work when it’s time.”

“Anyway, good night, Mikio.”

“…Good night.”

---

Well, now you were back inside the twisting tunnels of the mountain. It was time for dinner, but then again, you didn’t take a bath yesterday, did you…?

[] Bathe after dinner. Snacks aren’t going to cut it.
[] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
>> No. 8375
[] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
>> No. 8376
[x] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
>> No. 8377
[X] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
>> No. 8378
[x] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.

The last bath you had was right after the lake right?
>> No. 8379
[] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.

Such luxury's we have.
>> No. 8380
>momizi pop

(╬ ಠ益ಠ)
>> No. 8381
>”You can’t live like this forever.”

So we'll do our damn best to enjoy it while it lasts.

>“..Yeah, I can walk by myself,” you said uncertainly. She didn’t seem to hear you, however, and carried on.

HNNNNNNNG

[x] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
>> No. 8382
[x] Bathe after dinner. Snacks aren’t going to cut it.
>> No. 8385
[x] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
>> No. 8386
[x] Eat after bathing. Not particularly hungry after all those chestnuts.
---

Yeah, all those chestnuts you ate pretty much killed any sort of hunger you might have had if you hadn’t snacked them. Besides, you probably really do need a bath; and maybe that’ll work up an appetite. And so you made your way to the bath area.

There were a surprising few number of tengu in the bath. You quietly cleaned yourself and took a soak in the hot water. Afterwards, you brushed your teeth with a pinch of salt, and left the bath area to dry yourself off.

Emerging from the changing room, drying your hair with a towel, you unexpectedly met up with a familiar face.

“Oh? Hey there, Miki~”

“Ah, Miss Aya?”

You turn around to see Miss Aya, who seemed to have come out from the female changing room. Her hair was still half-wet and clung to her face, and although she was fully clothed, some parts of her outfit were wet, as though she hadn’t properly dried herself off.

“That’s some coincidence there. I thought I would come take a quick bath, and you finish up at the same time I do.”

…By the looks of it, you were probably in there for longer than she was, anyway. Sheesh, did she always have to be so quick about everything?

“Anyway, Miki. You heading for the canteen? Let’s go, then~”

Without waiting for your response, she nudged you on the back, pushing you forward through the entrance and into the hallways. You barely have enough time to drop the towel you were drying your hair with before you’re forced out.

“Ah, hey wait, Miss Aya, don’t shove!”
---

“Ah, they’re serving barbequed beef!” Miss Aya said excitedly as you stepped into the canteen and dining area. Indeed, the scent of grilled meat filled your nose, and you felt your stomach rumble a little. You lined up behind Miss Aya, grabbing your tray and bowl of rice, as well as your side dish of sliced beef.

You sat by the usual table, and Miss Aya took a seat next to you. Opposite you was Professor Ogata, who had already started drinking. He raised an eyebrow as you sat down, pausing from taking a sip of sake.

“…You alright already?” He asked in a gruff manner, downing the contents of his sake dish. “Damn, boy. You can’t have been very sick if you’re over it already. Lessons are continuing tomorrow, so you best not get sick again, got it?”

You nodded quietly, and picked up your spoon to start eating. Beside you, Miss Aya seemed to be aiming to set a world record for the fastest consumed bowl of rice, the movements of her chopsticks nearly a blur to your eyes.

The meal was uneventful, aside from a few small talks between you and Aya here and there; mostly about the events of the day. The conversations were brief, however; old man Ogata had no patience for dinner table talk. Said when it was time to eat, you eat, not talk.

Miss Aya finished before you, as expected, and left the room. You took your time with your meal, ate every last grain of rice, and politely refused Ogata’s offer for a drink. Rubbing your stomach contently, you made your way to your sleeping quarter.

Before slipping into bed, you remembered that you had decided to keep a dream diary. You dug through your clothes and found the small notebook and pen that you kept around, and flipped open the pages. Most of the first few pages were covered in scribbles and scrawls of varying legibility. Turning to a new blank page, you sat down on your futon and began to write.

…Uh, what was it that you dreamt about anyway? You know it took place outside, and it was at night. Oh, that’s right; the full moon was there somewhere, wasn’t it? And there was also someone else there, and you crushed him…

Oh, you must have been dreaming that you were a monster. A giant, raging monster that howled up at the moon, stampeding through forests and rivers, ripping apart puny humans with your bare hands!

…Man, your dreams are pretty screwed up. Almost as bad as that dream with all the flying three-legged boars.

Putting your notebook and pen away, you slipped out of your normal clothes and put on your light kimono. You curled up in your blanket and closed your eyes…

…………

You stand at a road, with barren land and trails that have long since begun to fade away. Looking behind you, you only saw darkness, threatening to engulf the world that you stood on.

There’s a fork up ahead, the path splits in two ways. One leads to the left, the other leads to the right. You move your feet as you attempt to walk off the road, but they refuse to move out of boundary; you’ll have to take one of the paths.

[] Left.
[] Right.
>> No. 8387
[] Left.
>> No. 8388
[x] Right.
>> No. 8389
[x]Left.

Sinister path, go.
>> No. 8390
[x] Left.
>> No. 8391
We left peaceful life, but that wasn't the right thing to do.
[X] Left.
>> No. 8392
LEFT! LEFT! TURN THIS BITCH LEFT, MOTHERFUCKER!
[/samuel l. jackson]

[X] Left
>> No. 8393
I knew you'd choose left.

kuhuhuhuhu~
>> No. 8394
Choose the sword, and you join me.
Choose the ball, and you join your mother... in death.

You do not understand my words, but you must choose.
>> No. 8396
File 123472511593.jpg - (107.12KB , 800x600 , moriyashrine.jpg ) [iqdb]
8396
[x] Left.
---

Your feet slowly shuffle as you turned to the left path. Your mind felt clear…no, that wasn’t right. Your mind felt completely blank as you followed the road down to that goal that lied ahead of you. What was the goal? You neither knew nor cared.

As you walked on aimlessly, you slowly felt your eyes close. Not because you were tired, but because of the blinding light before you. The light quickly engulfed and overwhelmed your senses, until you weren’t sure what you were doing any more…

………


It was the final year of junior high when you decided to run away. Run away from that house, run away from that school, run away from that city. Run away from the house where no one smiled, away from the school where you had no friends, away from the city where nothing ever changed.

It was that year that you realized you had nothing. Your parents never talked to one another, much less to you. You would return home to no greeting, eat your dinner, do your homework and sleep. In that quiet, cold house, the only ally you had was time. You tried to consoling yourself that they at least paid for your tuition and fed you, but even so…

And at the same time, you had no close friends. You would go to school, occasionally make small talk with your classmates, but ultimately, it was out of fear of being alone. You were afraid that someone might perceive you as being a loner freak; so you hung around with superficial “friends” that you didn’t share interests with, feeling as though you were just a load.

So one day, you stole as much money as you could from your father’s wallet, packed up your clothes as well as cheap canned food, and ran to the train station. You bought the first ticket you found, to Nagano prefecture, and boarded the train. You didn’t care where you went; anywhere but the city was fine.

You shifted in your seat in the nearly empty train. It was in the dead of night, after all, and this was in the middle of a very cold winter. Cupping your hands together, you warmed them up with your breath as you jigged your feet. Although you had a warm jacket to protect you from the cold, all you had on was a pair of jeans that were woefully insufficient in warming up your legs.

After some long hours, the train finally came to a stop at your destination. Taking your sports bag and securely pulling the strap over your head, you walked out of the train. You were greeted by a rush of cold, moist air. As you walked out into the train station, you could see a large lake not far from you. No wonder it was so cold.

By now it was well-past midnight. The moon shone brightly as you headed out of the train station and into the town. The town of Moriya, was it? Well, the name didn’t particularly matter. …But now what should you do? You feel slightly panicked; you hadn’t really planned anything out when you ran away. It was just a spur of a moment thing after a stupid epiphany, after all. But you didn’t want to go back. Even if you ended up as a tramp in the streets and died, you didn’t want to go back their. You wonder if you really hated that city so much, or if it was just you being stubborn.

First things first, though, you should probably find a place to sleep. You had money, so you could spend the night at a hotel, but that would quickly drain your funds in a matter of a few days. But sleeping on the streets in this kind of weather would at worst, probably kill you, and at the least give you mild hypothermia.

Ah, wait. This town had a shrine, didn’t it? And how old are shrines, anyway? There’s probably no one there at this time of the night, so maybe you could head there and take a rest until morning. And then after that, you can go about getting part-time work here and there.

And so you made your way towards the shrine, walking along the perimeter of the lake. You were sensible enough the grab a map of the area at the train station, so you didn’t have too much trouble finding the shrine. You walked up the impressive set of stairs, and as expected, no one was around. Sliding the door of the shrine open and shut as you walked in, you set your bag down as you sat down on the cold wooden floor. The inside of the little shrine was mostly bare, although in the center was a large statue of a frog. Even inside, it was still freezing; you could see your breath as you exhaled.

You lay down on the floor, using your bag as a pillow. You feel a little tinge of regret at not having brought a blanket, but there was nothing to be done about that now. You closed your eyes and hoped sleep would come relatively easily.

And then the door behind you suddenly slides open. Your heart feels as if it had suddenly deflated as you sat up and turned around to face the door. Standing there was a girl, probably three or four years younger than you were, which would mean she was around ten or eleven. …What was this little girl doing here? …But more urgently than that, she seems to be frightened of you; if she calls the police, you’ll probably be taken back to your own home. Better think of something fast…

[] Write-in.
>> No. 8397
[X]Rape

[X]Sit down and do nothing.
>> No. 8398
[x] Pick up your bag, affect a smile, and take out your wallet. "Hi! I've come to make a donation."
[x] Point at the frog idol. "I've been shopping around Nagano prefecture for the best place to spend my allowance, but now I'm certain of it: Frog worship really is the way to go."
>> No. 8399
[x] Run.

Meh.
>> No. 8400
[X] Wring your hands, shuffle your feet.
[X] "If someone is here... does that mean I have to go?"

Mikio should be adorable, even in his dreams.
>> No. 8401
[X] Wring your hands, shuffle your feet.
[X] "If someone is here... does that mean I have to go?"
>> No. 8402
Wait. Our dreams--are we perhaps dreaming of alternate dimension versions of ourselves?
>> No. 8403
[X] Wring your hands, shuffle your feet.
[X] "If someone is here... does that mean I have to go?"

lolk
>> No. 8404
[X] Wring your hands, shuffle your feet.
[X] "If someone is here... does that mean I have to go?"
>> No. 8405
[x] Wring your hands, shuffle your feet.
[x] "If someone is here... does that mean I have to go?"
---

The two of you stared at each other in silence for a few, painful moments. She seemed to be recovering from the shock about now, though, so you’d better say something fast. You raised your hand up.

“Y-yo!” you greeted with a weak smile. The girl didn’t say anything, but she seemed to have relaxed a little bit; her tensed shoulders appeared to relax a bit. “Hahaha, do you…is your house near the shrine?”

She stared at you for a bit, and then quietly nodded. She still seemed a bit startled by you, though, so she might still run off to call authorities on you. Your hands, failing to do something productive, instead fidgeted around, pulling at each other out of nervousness.

“Ah, well uh…” you say uncertainly, attempting to make up a cover; anything that would work, really. “I’m, uh, I was here to donate to the shrine. But I came too late, huh? Hahaha, and I thought I’d check out the inside of the shrine to, uh…Um…nice frog statue…?”

…Goddamn do you suck at lying. Not even a five year old little toddler would be fooled by that, much less a ten year old.

“…Um…you shouldn’t sleep in the shrine…” The girl said quietly, one hand on the handle of the sliding door of the entrance. “…it’s closed right now, so you’re not supposed to be inside…and…and I’m the…” Her words trailed off as she lowered her head, although it was too dark to make out her expression from where you sat. The girl was brightly outlined by the moonlight outside, casting a shadow on her face.

“Ah…er…” you fumble, grasping at straws for words as your feet shuffled uncomfortably in their place. “…if someone is here, does that mean I have to go…?” You finally say, shivering a bit. The encounter here seemed to have swept away all warmth in your body, and your teeth nearly chattered as you pulled your jacket closer to yourself. The girl remained silent, apparently in deep thought of something.

“…Um…but it’s really, really cold here…so if you don’t have anywhere to stay…do you want to…” She said with a conflicted tone, as if she were unsure of what she was saying. “…do you want to sleep at my house…?”

…Eh? Seriously? Was this girl out of her mind? Who on earth would invite a stranger to stay at their house? Well, the girl’s judgmental skills aside, you’d really appreciate the offer, so…

“...is that really okay with you..?” You ask, getting up to your feet and pulling your bag up. The girl stayed quiet for a moment, and then began speaking.

“…Yes. You shouldn’t sleep outside in winter, so…you should stay at ou-…my house until morning.” She then stepped a few paces back, waiting for you. Shrugging, you stepped outside of the shrine, closing the door behind you. The girl looked up at you as if she were examining you, and then spoke.

“…It’s right over there.” She pointed behind the shrine. You hadn’t noticed it when you entered the shrine, but there was an extension connected to the shrine building. No wonder the shrine looked so big on the outside and yet only had one small room inside.

“Eh..? You live at the shrine?” you asked a question that didn’t need an answer, and you didn’t get one either. The girl began to walk, and you followed her around the shrine building and into the house built behind it.

“Hey, won’t your parents get mad for letting me in?” you decide to ask as you tossed off your shoes off to climb up the deck. Beside you, the girl took off her slippers and stooped over the deck to neatly arrange them.

“…They’re not around,” was the only response you got from her. Was she living alone in a big house like this? She slid the door open and stepped in, switching on the lights, and you stepped in after her, shielding your eyes from the sudden bright light. In the middle of what you assumed to be the living room was a cozy looking kotatsu and a TV set. Ignoring those, the girl walked past them and opened a door to a room, and you slowly walked towards her. Inside the room, she turned on the light and picked up a futon from above a dresser, laying it out on the floor dead center in the middle of the room. Organized girl, huh? You walked into the room and placed your sports bag on the floor.

She then turned to you, looking up at your face with what you perceived as a bad attempt at a strict looking face that just came off as cute.

“D-don’t do anything bad, okay? And…and don’t steal anything, I’ll know if you do…and…and I’ll call the police…” she said, although she had a heavy blush on her face that lessened the effect of her threats. Whatever, you’re not interested in robbing anything, anyway. You’re grateful enough for her hospitality, and so you nodded. She walked past the door, and giving you one last cautious glance, shut the door.

Sighing, you took your jacket off, tossing it over your bag. You then turned the light switch off and slipped underneath the blanket, fully clothed. And then, in that warmth, you drifted into a comfortable sleep.
......
>> No. 8406
......

“..Hey, um…wake up…”

You feel someone gently nudging your body with their hands. Bah, five more minutes…I can be ready for school by then…just five more minutes. Wait a minute, something’s off here. No one ever bothers to wake you up…Groaning, you pushed yourself off the ground with one hand into a sitting up position, forcing your groggy eyes open.

…Eh, where the hell were you? This wasn’t your room. And who the hell is that elementary schoolgirl kneeling beside you? Rubbing your left temple with your hand, you attempted to clear up your head. Oh, that’s right. You ran away from your house without a plan and ended up spending the night here. And this girl was the one living here…

“…Are you okay…?” she sounded concerned, leaning over to get a better look at you. As she did so, you notice that she seemed to be wearing a school uniform. She must be going to some prestigious school if they’re making elementary kids wear uniforms. You gave a nod in response.

“…Um, if you don’t mind me asking…did you run away from home..?”

Ack. Was it that obvious? Well, you suppose that with your bag and having no place to stay, anyone half-way decently perceptive might figure it out. No reason to lie this time, so you nodded again. She gave you a frown.

“…You shouldn’t do that. I don’t know why you ran away, but, um, no matter what, your parents are going to be worried, so…” No. They’d probably miss the money you stole more than they would miss you.

“…you should…you should really go back.”

“…No. I’m never going back there again,” you said firmly with a tone of annoyance. And that’s all you would say; it would be rather embarrassing and undignified to tell an elementary school kid that you ran away from home because mommy and daddy didn’t love you enough.

“…Oh…but, um…Well, I have to go to school right now, so…if you’re hungry, I left breakfast on the table in the living room, so help yourself, okay…?” She said, standing up from the floor. “..if…if you want, though, I think it’ll be okay if you stay a bit longer…but if you want to leave, um, there’s a key underneath the floor mat outside, so lock the door before you go, okay?”

…You can’t tell if this girl was too nice or too stupid. You really hope it’s the former. You kept quiet as she turned away from you and quickly walked out of the room. On her back was a green backpack shaped like a frog face, with a keychain dangling from the end of it that looked like a coiled snake. Cute.

Taking a moment to make sure you were fully awake, you then stood up, neatly folding the futon and placing it where it was, above the dresser. You walked into the living room and found a modest breakfast setup for you on the kotatsu. You ate the meal in silence, and washed the dishes you used. You might as well be a little responsible while you were here.

Well, now you were alone in the house. What now…?

[] Go into the town. Look around for a job like you planned.
[] She said you can stay a little longer, so do just that.
>> No. 8407
[X] Go into the town. Look around for a job like you planned.
How the hell will this thing tie up into the main(?) storyline?
>> No. 8408
>…You can’t tell if this girl was too nice or too stupid. You really hope it’s the former. You kept quiet as she turned away from you and quickly walked out of the room. On her back was a green backpack shaped like a frog face, with a keychain dangling from the end of it thALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD

[x] She said you can stay a little longer, so do just that.
[x] Can you do anything to clean-up, besides those dishes you just washed?
[x] Daydream about the significance of that frog statue.
>> No. 8409
[x] She said you can stay a little longer, so do just that.
[x] Can you do anything to clean-up, besides those dishes you just washed?
[x] Daydream about the significance of that frog statue.

Do you really expect us to leave and never come back?
>> No. 8410
>D-don’t do anything bad, okay?
>although she had a heavy blush on her face
Oho~

[x] She said you can stay a little longer, so do just that.
[x] Can you do anything to clean-up, besides those dishes you just washed?
[x] Inventory check.
>> No. 8411
[x] Drop some change in the donation box and pray for luck for when you...
[x] Go into the town. Look around for a job like you planned.

cmon, lets not be a freeloader. if we can't find a job, we can take it as a sign.
>> No. 8412
>>8407

It will, don't worry.

>>8409

It doesn't mean that.
>> No. 8413
[x] She said you can stay a little longer, so do just that.
[x] Can you do anything to clean-up, besides those dishes you just washed?
[x] Inventory check.

Excellent, I like where this story is going.
>> No. 8414
[x] Go into the town. Look around for a job like you planned.

We can come back after that. Job first, housing second.
>> No. 8415
[X] Inventory Check
[X] Stay a bit longer
[X] See if there's anything to clean up
[X] Donate a couple bucks before...
[X] Looking for a job
>> No. 8416
Alright, combining the votes.

[x] Inventory Check
[x] Stay a bit longer
[x] See if there's anything to clean up
[x] Daydream about the significance of that frog statue
[x] Donate a couple bucks before...
[x] Looking for a job

Writing will begin shortly.
>> No. 8417
>>8416

hooray!
>> No. 8418
[x] Inventory Check
[x] Stay a bit longer
[x] See if there's anything to clean up
[x] Donate a couple bucks before...
[x] Looking for a job
[x] Daydream about the significance of that frog statue
---

…Right. You remember packing some clothes in your bag, but were you sensible enough to bring anything else? Walking back into the room where you left your sports bag, you zipped it open and took a look inside. Inside was:

(3) Shirts.
(2) Pants.
(3) Underwear.
(3) Canned sausages.
(3) Spam.
(1) Water Canteen.
(1) Pack of cigarettes.
(1) Lighter.

…Don’t remember packing the cigarettes and lighter. Then again, it was actually your father’s sports bag that you nabbed from home. Well, that’s just as well, since you could go for a smoke now and then. You started not too long ago, for the same superficial reason that some teenagers who start smoking used: to be “mature.” That was such a trite way of thinking, and you quit smoking once you realized that, but now, you might need something to calm your nerves a bit.

Zipping the bag back up, you left it there on the floor as you stood up from your crouch. Well, so long as you’re here, you might as well help clean up. Looking around the room, though, everything seemed to be neatly organized. In the dresser, clothes much too big for that girl were neatly folded and arranged. Was this her parents’ room?

The living room was in a similar condition. The floor was well swept, objects were well placed; even the remote control for the TV was arranged neatly next to the VCR remote on top of the television set. That girl certainly is a neat-freak. Your room was a total pig-sty compared to this house, mostly because no one bothered to tell you to clean it up. Or go in your room at all.

Well, there was really nothing to clean up, and you didn’t feel like going into any of the other rooms, so you just sat down at the kotatsu, and turned the TV on. There wasn’t really anything interesting on at the moment; just some news about the United Nations adopting the Kyoto Protocol. Boring stuff you weren’t interested in, so you turned the TV off and placed the remote where it was. You stood up from the table, taking out your wallet and counting the bills. Around fifty-thousand yen in total, which was a good amount of money, but really wouldn’t last you more than a week at best unless you just ate convenient store food all the time.

Well, you can’t just stay around here the whole day, so you walked to the door and slid it open, leaving your bag behind. Don’t want anyone to realize you’re just some runaway punk. You lifted the “Welcome!” floor mat outside, and found a key underneath it. Closing the door, you fumbled for the lock and turned the key. It was pretty rare to see a sliding door that had a lock. You placed the key back underneath the mat, and sat down on the deck, putting on your sneakers.

As you walked around to the front of the shrine, you saw the offering box standing in front of the entrance to the building. You took out your wallet and produced a thousand-yen bill from it, letting it slip into the box as you offered a small prayer. You never had any faith in any gods, but what the hell; you could use some good fortune.

Walking down the shrine steps, you began wondering why on earth the local god’s idol seemed to be a frog. You’ve never heard any stories of frogs being holy or sacred; the only folk tale that had frogs in it was that frogs cry during the rain out of fear that its mother’s grave would be washed away by the flooding river. Shrugging, you decided not to put much more thought in that matter. Walking into the city, you began walking around, looking for a job…
---

Goddamn it, no one will hire a fourteen-year-old in this town. Every time you tried to apply for something, the manager would take one look at you, say “Shouldn’t you be in school?”, and refuse to even let you work part-time at the store. The one interview that seemed to go a bit successful turned awry when they asked for the address of your residence. Obviously, you couldn’t say your house was out of the district, and you couldn’t say that you were staying at the shrine either, so you just stammered out some excuse and hurried out of the place.

You felt a bit dejected, and according to your digital watch, it was nearly four o’clock by now. You still had quite a bit of time, and no one will get on your case about being a dropout now, but damn it all if it doesn’t piss you off. Slipping into an alley next to a supermarket, you slipped out a cigarette from the pack and lit it, taking a long drag. You went into a slight bit of a coughing fit, but you recovered quickly enough, and once you finished it off, you dropped it on the ground and put it out with your shoe.

As you stepped out, you saw that shrine girl near the entrance of the supermarket. She was pushing along a shopping cart with a heavy bag of rice inside. Well, it was in a cart, so obviously she wasn’t going to have too much trouble getting it to the shrine, but she’d have to lift it up those long stairs without it…

[] Oh well. Help her out.
[] Whatever. Keep looking for a job.
>> No. 8419
[] Oh well. Help her out.
>> No. 8420
[x] Oh well. Help her out.

Do they have PO boxes in Japan? Could use one instead of giving an address.
>> No. 8421
>>8418
[X] Oh well. Help her out.

Yeah, like we'd ignore a scene like that.
>> No. 8422
{X} Oh well. Help her out.
>> No. 8423
[x] Oh well. Help her out.

>the only folk tale that had frogs in it was that frogs cry during the rain out of fear that its mother’s grave would be washed away by the flooding river
You couldn't have just gone with the frog prince shit?
>> No. 8424
File 123483365114.jpg - (169.98KB , 512x640 , Moriya033.jpg ) [iqdb]
8424
[X] Oh well. Help her out.

I just can't help but want to help.
>> No. 8426
File 123484223079.jpg - (149.08KB , 444x777 , 1041459.jpg ) [iqdb]
8426
[x] Oh well. Help her out.
---

Well, you can’t just walk away ignoring this kind of scene. You quietly walked beside the girl, taking hold of the cart handle. The girl is surprised to see you, letting out a small yelp, letting go of the cart.

“Hey there,” you said, raising your hand in a lazy sort of way as a greeting. “I’ll carry this for you, so just lead the way.” The girl paused for a moment, and then gave a nod, now walking at a slightly faster pace in front of you as you pushed the cart along. As the two of you walked along the road leading out of the shopping district, you decided to strike up a conversation.

“…Hey, what’s your name?”

“Kochiya Sanae,” she briefly turned her head behind to face you as she spoke, and her pace slowed down so that she was walking beside you. Mindlessly nodding as if you were disinterested, you looked away from her and faced forward. But she was still staring at you, as if she were expecting you to say something. You ignored her gaze and started walking faster.

“…Um, aren’t you going to…tell me your name?” Sanae finally voiced her thoughts as she sped up to keep up with you. You brought up one hand to your face to conceal your grin.

“Never said I was going to tell you,” you said playfully, giving a sideways glance at the girl.

“Oh come on, that’s not fair. I told you mine,” she said, frowning. It may not be intentional, but she was making an adorable pouting face at the moment; the kind that makes you want to tease her more.

“Okay then, my name is Setanta,” you said the first name that popped into your head. Odd, considering you don’t even remember where you got it from.

“…There’s no way that could be your name.” Well, maybe that was enough teasing for now. You continued pushing the cart with one hand as you brushed your black hair away from your eyes.

“Alright, alright, name’s Hoshuu. Kuromugi Hoshuu. Nice to meet you, Kochiya Sanae.” You said, stopping the car and holding out your right hand. Sanae paused, before hesitating taking your hand and shaking it. You returned your hands to the shopping cart, resuming your trek back to the shrine.

“So, why do you live at the shrine?” you decided to ask. It would still be another twenty minutes or so before the two of you reached the shrine; it was a bit of ways far from the shopping district of the town.

“Um, my mother w- she’s the shrine maiden there,” she said quietly, although her slip of the tongue didn’t go unnoticed to you. “…The Kochiya family has been in charge of the Moriya Shrine since ancient times…so I’m…going to be the shrine maiden too.”

“…Huh. They still have something like that in this country, huh?”

“Yes, um. There used to be a festival held at the shrine every six years some generations ago. It was called the Onbashira festival, but…interest and faith in the shrine god’s dwindled, and it’s been discontinued for some time…”

“…Ah…I see. So who’s the shrine’s god, anyway?”

“Um…the deity of the shrine is a god by the name of Moriya. It’s said that it is the god that protects the remains of the ancient kingdom of Moriya from the curse gods, the Mishaguji.”

“So why’s it a frog?”

“I…don’t know, actually…I didn’t have a chance to ask mother…”

“Oh, I see. So you’re going to be a shrine maiden too, huh? So you believe in this Moriya and the Mishaguji or whatever?”

Sanae suddenly stopped walking, lowering her head. Did you say something wrong? Had you brought up a sensitive subject? After a moment of awkward silence, the girl raised her head and started walking again.

“…I…don’t know. I want to believe in them, but…”

“…You don’t have to say anymore if you don’t want to,” you said as you continued to push the cart along. Everyone had something they’d rather not say, after all. Such as you not wanting to say anything about your situation at home to anyone. Sanae gave a weak nod, swallowing hard, and you kept walking.

Reaching the long steps of the shrine, you hefted the heavy bag of rice on your shoulder. You weren’t really cut out for physical labor, but it’d just be plain shameful if you couldn’t even lift something like this. Sanae looked at you with worried eyes, but you gave her a thumbs-up and began steadily climbing the stairs.

You were out of breath by the time you were at the top, gently lowering the ground as you attempted to recover. Sheesh, you were worse off than you thought. Not enough meat on your bones, you suppose, since the unbearable silence of the dinner table prevented you from eating more than your bare minimum.

Sanae waited for you to regain your breath. Such a nice girl she was, patiently standing there. Feeling a little bit more encouraged, you lifted up the bag and walked off towards the shrine.

You walked into the living room after Sanae unlocked the door with her set of keys and slid it open. She led you to a closet in the kitchen, where things like canned food and other things were kept. You gently put the bag in its place at the bottom of the closet, and dusted off your hands.

“Thank you for your help,” Sanae said, giving you a view of her smiling face for the first time. It’s so cute that you want to reach out and pinch her on the cheek, but you manage to restrain yourself and settle for returning the smile instead.

“Hey, least I could do,” you said, backing away from the closet as you shut the door.

“Um, if you’re hungry, I can cook dinner early.”

“Nah, that’s okay. It’s only about 4:30 right now, anyway,” you said, checking your watch. Too early to eat dinner now. But wow, this girl really is independent. An elementary kid cooking her own meal.

You and Sanae then headed back into the living room, where you sat down facing the TV, extending your legs beneath the kotatsu while Sanae went off into what you assumed to be her room, presumably changing out of her uniform.

She returned dressed in more casual clothes, carrying her backpack. Taking the remote off of the TV, she turned it on as she sat down on your right side of the table, opening her backpack and rummaging through it. You paid it no heed and instead fixated your attention to the TV screen. Prime time anime, huh? Didn’t know girls were interested in that.

Sanae would constantly switch between watching TV while simultaneously doing her homework. That was a pretty bad habit, but you weren’t in a position to lecture her about it; not while you had pretty much dropped out from school. But even so…

“..Hey, you made a mistake there,” you said, pointing out an error you managed to spot with your finger. She looked understandably startled when you suddenly start talking. Shifting yourself closer to her, you pointed out where she had screwed up, and she quickly rectified the error. You then moved back to where you were, stifling a yawn.



“…Hey, is it really okay for me to be here?” you decided to ask something that had been on your mind for a while now. It had been a long time since the girl finished her homework, and the two of you had been spending time quietly watching the TV. But even so, the awkward silence left both you and her a bit tense. “…I don’t know when I’ll be able to leave, you know. I’ll probably just be a troublesome freeloader for a while.” You decided against mentioning her parents again. That was probably not a good idea.

Sanae took a deep breath, as though what she was about to say was going to require a lot of resolve. “…To be honest, I’m not sure either. But…you don’t have anywhere to go, do you…? Mother always said I should help people who really need it…so…so until you’re able to leave, you’re…welcome here. Um, I won’t ask you to go home again, but…you should really think about it…”

“…Yeah, thanks. I’ll be in your care, then.”
>> No. 8427
---

“Concentrate harder, Kirita Mikio. You’ve come this far already. You’ve got the basics, and now apply them, or it’s useless.” Easy for you to say, old man, you think. It was easier for tengu, after all, since they relied on the wind. Much harder for you, who couldn’t ride the wind like they did.

Still, you made remarkable progress in the last few weeks. You could hover slightly now, but you still couldn’t fly as high or as fast as anyone else could. Closing your eyes, you concentrated on floating higher, but your body seemed to heavy for your meager spiritual power to lift. Sweat rolled down your brow as you scrunched up your face in concentration.

“Alright, enough for today, kid. Don’t force yourself like that. It ain’t natural.” You opened your eyes and collapsed to your knees, panting for breath. Old man Ogata walked over to you, handing you a small towel, which you used to wipe your face. You handed the towel back to Ogata as you regained your posture, standing up straight.

“Lesson continues tomorrow. See you at dinner.” Professor Ogata then walked out of the room, leaving you alone in there.

Some months had passed since you met Nitori, it was now well into the season of Spring. During that period, you continued to have strange dreams that you could never remember the contents of. Frankly, you were getting rather sick of them by now, although there were occasionally times where your head felt clear enough to jot down what still remained in your memories. It mostly came out nonsensical, though, so that didn’t work too well.

Walking out of your usual dojo/training room and into the hallways, you wondered what to do to spend the day.

[] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
[] Just wander around headquarters.
>> No. 8429
[] Just wander around headquarters.
>> No. 8430
[x] Just wander around headquarters.
>> No. 8431
[x] Just wander around headquarters.
>> No. 8432
[X] Just wander around headquarters.
>> No. 8433
[X] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
>> No. 8434
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.

Show Momizi how hard you try.
>> No. 8435
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
>> No. 8436
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.

Nitori option?
>> No. 8437
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
>> No. 8438
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
[x] But take it easy. You don't want to over-stress yourself.
>> No. 8443
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
[x] But take it easy. You don't want to over-stress yourself.
>> No. 8449
[x] Just continue the flying practice around headquarters.
Well, why not?

>>8426
>“Kochiya Sanae,”
>Kochiya
Thank you.

Some observations on the time frame:

-Thread 1 placed this story as occurring around or during Mystic Square, I think.

-Sanae is 10 in this dream, and while her specific age in current times is unknown, it's certainly a bit older than that.
-Kyoto Protocol reference gives us a definitive date: December 11th, 1997.

Maybe we're not dreaming of our past life, we're dreaming about someone else's waking hours, in a kind of Yukari-Maribel sort of thing
>> No. 8452
>>8449

Kotiya just looks and sounds stupid, anyway.
>> No. 8457
[x] Continue the flying practice by yourself outside.
---

Well yeah, a little bit more individual practice wouldn’t be too bad, so long as you heeded the old man’s words and didn’t strain yourself too much. Plus, you could use the trip outside, get some fresh(er) air and a bit of the sunlight, and maybe get a chance to see Miss Inubashiri or Nitori, although the latter seemed a bit harder to find during the winter. Probably because the streams up here froze up. Well, they’re just about thawed out now, so she might be around.

Letting out a wide yawn, you continued walking through the tunnels, to the same old exit you always used. But as you turned a corner, you saw someone all too familiar ahead of you. It was Miss Aya, wearing a scarf patterned with autumn leaves and trees. She seemed to be returning from her ventures outside. She greeted you with an energetic wave.

“Hey there, Miki~!” She called out, and you replied with a casual wave of the hand in greeting. “Heading out today?” You nodded. She grinned, taking off her scarf and wrapping it around your neck considerately.

“It’s Spring, but it’s still cold outside, you know. And you’re not built as strong to the cold as we are, so take care,” Miss Aya said in a rare moment of tenderness for her. Now if only she was like this more often instead of bossing you around…

“Thanks, Miss Aya,” you said, adjusting the scarf so that it was more comfortable on your neck. “I’ll return it when I get back.” She gave you a thumbs-up and resumed her walk to…well, wherever it was that she was going to.

Outside really was cold. The snow that had piled up during the winter was still around, since the area was so high up on the mountain. You shivered a bit as you stepped outside. You were wearing a sleeveless shirt padded on the inside with cotton to keep you warm, but that didn’t stop the cold breeze from giving your arms goosebumps. You pressed down on the balls of fluffy feathers that had been attached to the straps of your tokin, heating your ears with their pleasant warmth.

Your feet delicately left the ground as you began levitating yourself in the air. You could hover a few feet without effort, although any attempts at going a little further than that took some taxing effort. Still, you were progressing rapidly enough, so you were sure that you could defeat this metaphorical ceiling that you seemed to have hit, and be able to fly like a pro in no time. You hope so, anyway.

The height between your feet and the ground gradually increased as you focused on flying higher bit by bit. Not ten feet above the ground, however, and you could already feel the strain on your body and mind. You decided to lower yourself a bit, to ease things on yourself as you attempted to recollect your concentration. Things were definitely a little easier now than it was yesterday, although you were still moving slower than walking speed.

You spent the next hour or so just testing how fast or how high you could go. You didn’t really make much of a progress in flying, obviously, but you were also making sure that you weren’t over-exerting yourself. Once you started feeling a little drained, you gently landed on the ground, feeling slightly lightheaded. You shook your head so as to clear your thoughts. That was enough for today. Well, you still had plenty of free time, so what should you do?

[] Back into headquarters. Take it easy.
[] Go check out the waterfall. It’s thawed out by now, but it’s still impressive.
[] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.
[] Go a little further than that; you’ve never explored outside the base of the mountain, have you?
>> No. 8458
[X] Pull the lever that floods the TENQ fortress with lava.
>> No. 8459
File 123493577632.jpg - (77.63KB , 406x500 , aki023.jpg ) [iqdb]
8459
[X] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.

If this is considered the path to the waterfall, then we may meet Hina or the Aki Sisters. Love Hina and the Aki Sisters.

Also, not enough Aki Sisters in any of the stories.
>> No. 8460
[] Go check out the waterfall. It’s thawed out by now, but it’s still impressive.
>> No. 8462
[X] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.

>>8459
>then we may meet Hina or the Aki Sisters. Love Hina and the Aki Sisters.
>Love Hina and the Aki Sisters.
>Love Hina
FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

>>8452
We are going to be good friends, you and I.
>> No. 8463
[x] Go a little further than that; you’ve never explored outside the base of the mountain, have you?
>> No. 8464
[x] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.
>> No. 8465
[X] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.
>> No. 8468
File 123500728215.gif - (19.25KB , 842x604 , 1945982.gif ) [iqdb]
8468
[x] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.

sure why not
>> No. 8470
File 123501967785.jpg - (204.14KB , 606x850 , 4681b83ed8fc7d161a3dfad7efe608db.jpg ) [iqdb]
8470
[x] Hike down the mountain path, go to the base of the mountain.
---

Well, it would be quite relaxing to take a walk down the mountain, and the base of it certainly wouldn’t be so cold. The flowers were also in bloom down there, after all, so it might be a refreshing change of scenery from the snow piled mountain.

As you hiked down the trail leading down, you played a little game with yourself. You inhaled with your nose, and exhaled with your mouth, watching your white breath dissipate into the air. It was fun doing that, you’d pretend as if you were a great big dragon, breathing out smoke. You hoped no one was watching you; it’d be pretty embarrassing if anyone saw your silly behavior.
---

Geez, even at the base of the mountain, it was so cold. Spring should be the season of life and warmth, not a time to be spent huddling to yourself to avoid losing body heat. As you looked up at the waterfall from your position of the river that flowed from it, you saw a white speck in the sky. Was it a bird? Whatever it was, it was flying towards the direction of the mountain. And…it seemed to be spraying colorful lights everywhere? Was that thing trying to provoke the tengu or something?

Shrugging, you returned your gaze forward, continuing your little stride along the coast of the river that would lead to the Misty Lake. Not that you intended to go that far, but just until the edge of the Great Youkai Forest was safe enough. However, not ten paces away from where you stopped, you suddenly heard a voice from your right that you hadn’t in a long time.

“Mikio!” Nitori called out to you from the other side of the river, soaring towards you at an alarming speed. You were just about ready to jump out of the way when the girl came to a sudden stop in front of you, extending her legs out as if they were skidding on the ground.

“Hi, long time no see,” you waved your hand lightly in a friendly manner, giving her a slight grin. Nitori beamed energetically as she floated to the ground, raising a strange device for you to see.

“Look, look, look! I’ve been working on this since the river froze up, and it’s finally complete!” She said with the excitement of a small child, talking very fast. “It’s the extending arm!”

…An extending arm. Well, it had what looked like a hand sticking out of it, only it was made of metal. The “arm” itself seemed to be coiled up, with many zigzagging frames that kept the “hand” attached to a box with many switches and buttons, which she carried with care underneath one arm.

“Watch, watch, it can be used to grab things from far away!” Nitori announced as she turned away from you, aiming the “hand” towards a small chunk of rock that rested on the ground. You watched quietly with interest as she began operating the buttons and switches on the box she held with her free hand.

Suddenly, the hand shot out, the coiled up arm stretching rapidly as the hand clenched into a fist around the rock, and then, as quickly as it had extended, returned. Pushing another button, the hand relaxed its grip, allowing the rock to fall to the ground. Her demonstration finished, Nitori then turned to you with a smug look on her face expectantly, and you gave her applause.

“Hahaha, wow, that’s great!” you said, placing the tips of your fingers against one another after you had given your round of clapping. Nitori looked a little more humbled now, although her excitement had not yet passed.

“Aw heck, there’s more! It’s got an “Attack Mode”, too, to use as a weapon!” She said, flicking another switch. The hand closed itself again, although the fist now seemed less like a gentle grasp and more like a mean set of knuckles. She held up the machine, took aim, and pressed a button.

…And instead of shooting out straight and punching the air, it instead made an impossible curve, with flexibility you wouldn’t have thought possible from something that looked like a set of mechanical springs. Before she could react, the fist hit her square in the face, and she was sent reeling back. The fist itself retracted back to its starting position.

“Owowow,” she whimpered, still staggering back from the force of the blow, one hand covering the spot where her own invention had hit her. Worried, you stepped forward.

“Hey, are you alri-“ And then the fist shot out again, without the flick of a switch or the press of a button, giving you a paralyzing uppercut to the chin. “Oof…” you groaned, gripping your jaw with both hands. Nitori dropped the machine to the ground with widened eyes.

“Oh no, Mikio, I’m so sorry, I really didn’t mean to. This thing, it just sort of did it on its own, I’m- I’m so sorry!” She stammered, stepping forward. “Are you okay…?”

“…I bith by dongue,” you said, spitting out warm blood from your mouth onto the ground. Ouch, that really hurt, although the sensation in your tongue was quickly numbing. “…it’s okay, Nitori, it wasn’t your fault.” You added upon seeing the girl’s guilty expression.

“Oh…well, um, I’m really sorry about that. I didn’t really properly test the flexibility function of the arm, and…I guess I just got really carried away when I was demonstrating it to you,” she said, still looking a bit dejected as she picked up her Extending Arm from the ground.
“No, no, that’s okay. We all make mistakes,” you reassure her, still holding your jaw. Hopefully, nothing broke in there. Nitori put on a smile when she heard this, and soon regained her usual gusto.

“Alright then! I guess this thing isn’t quite up to par yet, so I’m going now to change that!” She exclaimed, giving you a tip of the cap. “Scientific progress awaits! See you later, Mikio!” She quickly took off into the air, waving at you as she flew across the river. You waved back at her as her small figure soon disappeared into the trees beyond.

Well, that was an interesting, if somewhat painful, event. Looking up at the sun, you could see that you still had quite a bit of daylight left.

[] Continue walking along the river.
[] Back up the mountain; to the edge of the waterfall.
[] Back to headquarters.
>> No. 8471
[x] Back up the mountain; to the edge of the waterfall.

I wonder if lily's gonna get apprehended by the tengu.
>> No. 8472
[x] Back to headquarters.
>> No. 8473
>>8471
>"It's spring!"

>"This is the tengu patrol, you are in restricted airspace! Change your course or we will take you down by force!"

>"It's spring, motherfuckers!"


[x] Continue walking along the river.
>> No. 8474
[] Continue walking along the river.
>> No. 8475
[X] Continue walking along the river.

More encounters!
>> No. 8476
File 123502854674.jpg - (41.45KB , 315x275 , lily_stark.jpg ) [iqdb]
8476
>>8473
>> No. 8477
[X] Continue walking along the river.
>> No. 8479
[X] Continue walking along the liver.
>> No. 8493
[] Continue walking along the river.
>> No. 8496
[x] Continue walking along the river.
>> No. 8497
>>8476

Ahahaha, wow.
>> No. 8499
>>8473

ALTERNATE ENDING
>"It's spring!"

>"This is the tengu patrol, you are in restricted airspace! Change your course or we will take you down by force!"

>"Says you and what army!?!"

>"WHAT?"

>"I dunno, I just always wanted to say that. IT'S SPRING MOTHERFUCKERS!"
>> No. 8500
[X] Back up the mountain; to the edge of the waterfall.
I love your Nitori, Lion. She's awesome.
>> No. 8501
File 123510879328.jpg - (423.34KB , 986x700 , bcae0098a097d898fa7120cb7e61004d.jpg ) [iqdb]
8501
[x] Continue walking along the river.
---

…Just until the edge of the Great Youkai Forest was still safe enough, right? Besides, it was still day. Most youkai were nocturnal and not very active while the sun was up, so it shouldn’t be too dangerous around there. You hopped onto the piles of rocks gathered at the bank of the river, balancing yourself by extending your arms. Humming without care that you didn’t really know any tunes, you walked along the slippery rocks, careful not to fall into the river.

Following the path of the river, you ended up just outside the “entrance”, if you would call it that, of the Great Youkai Forest. Just beyond this forest was the Misty Lake, although the one time you visited that place was with Miss Inubashiri. Well, there wasn’t really any incentive to really go into the forest, where there were probably a lot of youkai like its name suggested. Stepping down from the piles of rocks that littered the bank of the river, you took a curious peek forward.

Your eyes were no tengu eyes, but you still had pretty keen sight. As you slowly neared the trees, you spotted something floating in the current, stuck between rocks that jutted out of the flowing water, near the edge of the river. You couldn’t make it out from this distance, but there was definitely something there.

...Well, it’s not that far out into the forest, is it? A little tensed up, you carefully stepped forward past the trees. It was probably just trash, but it would bother you for the rest of the day if you didn’t find out what it was. You cautiously ran to the formation of rocks, and trotting a bit into the cold water, you reached out your arm as far as you could and grabbed that thing. As soon as you touched it, you felt a shiver run down your spine, as though something unpleasant had invaded your body.


Straightening yourself, you brought your hand up and unclasped it. That thing was…a doll? Its skin was as white as a sheet, with black painted hair on its head. Its proportions were accurately scaled to the average human body structure, and it wore small, decorative clothes. What was this doing here in the river?

As you debated whether to throw the doll back into the river or to keep it, you suddenly felt goosebumps on your arms, and the hair on your head felt as though they were prickling up straight. At the same time, a delicate hand reached out and took the doll from your stunned grip.

“Oh…? This one was separated from its mate…” you heard a voice behind you, that of a woman. Gulping, you slowly turned around to look at the owner of that voice. Behind you was a tall, green haired woman wearing a red dress, with frilly ribbons decorating the top of her head as well as the rest of her outfit. How did she get behind you without a sound? The woman gave you an eerie smile, her slender fingers clasped around the doll she had taken from you.

But what was most distinguishing about her was not her appearance, but her presence. Just by standing there, that woman made you feel incredibly uneasy. There was a sort of…”aura” that seemed to just plain scare the crap out of you. You remained frozen as she tilted her head, apparently examining you.

“Hmmm…? From that outfit, I’d guess that you’re a tengu…but I’ve never met one that looked so young like you…” she spoke slowly and softly, raising her index finger up to your face, slowly running it down the side of your head. “…or are you a lost human boy pretending to be a youkai…?” Her finger continued to slide down your neck, then to the middle of your chest, running it along its surface as though she were drawing a circle on it. “The mountain is no place for a human child, you know, dressed as a tengu or not…” She then gave you a hard poke on that spot, as if to stress that last point.

You were still terrified witless by this woman, who despite not having taken any real actions to threaten you, still came off as a very imposing figure to you, just by being in close proximity. Who is this woman, is she a youkai? If so, then you needed to get away from here, as fast as you can.

“..You don’t need to be so scared, child…” the woman said, leaning forward, her face just an inch away from yours. She brought up her hand, placing it on your cheek. Her lips began mouthing out words, but you couldn’t hear them anymore. You felt so terribly uncomfortable, you felt so scared, and the reason was because of this woman. You had to get away from her. Finally, you seemed to regain control of your body, and without looking back, ran as fast as you could, not caring which way you were going.

…You didn’t realize how stupid that was until you stopped running, panting heavily for breath. That woman was nowhere to be seen now, but…it seems in the rush to escape from her, you ended up lost in the forest. …Damn it, what now?

[] Try to retrace your steps.
[] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
[] Wait around.
>> No. 8503
[] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
>> No. 8505
[x] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
>> No. 8506
[x] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
>> No. 8510
[x] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.

Poor Hina.
>> No. 8514
{X} Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
>> No. 8515
[X] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
>> No. 8517
[] Wait around

Hina...
;_;
>> No. 8518
[x] Wait around.

Stay lost or get more lost?
>> No. 8519
[x] Try to find the river that runs through the forest.
---

Okay, hold on. Don’t panic, don’t panic. Let’s try to be a little logical here. The defining landmark of this forest here had to be the river, right? Then getting out of the place was simple, all you had to do was find the river, and going against its flow would lead you out of the forest and back in the mountain.

You straightened yourself up, still trying to catch your breath. But wow, how far did you run from the edge of the forest? Looking around you, you could only see trees that have already grown fresh leaves. There was no distinctive sound of a river nearby, so you had no choice but to pick a direction behind you and start walking.

Walking with unease, you looked around the area cautiously. That woman wasn’t going to follow you, was she? If she did, then there was no doubt that she was a youkai. A nervous bead of cold sweat ran down the back of your neck, and you shivered involuntarily as a chill ran down your spine. There it was again, that unpleasant feeling, as though freezing cold tendrils were wrapping themselves around your body. Was she nearby?

Panic creeps itself back into you. You dart your eyes here and to, looking out for any sort of movement around you. There was nothing; not a rustle of tree leaves nor the bristle of twigs on the ground. Only the sound of your set of clogs thumping on the soft earth. You begin to relax a little; maybe you were just being a little paran-WHOA!

Ouch…You push yourself up off the ground, dusting the dirt off your hands as you got up to your knees. Seems you tripped over a coiled tree root, you really should have paid more attention to where you were going, instead of looking around like an idiot. Biting your lip, you got up to your feet and patted the dust and dirt off of your hakama, and quickly resumed your pace.

…Okay, you might really be in trouble here. Where you really going the right way? You can’t have gone that far from the edge of the forest, so it’s possible you picked a completely wrong direction to go in. But you don’t really want to turn around and head another way in case you really were on the right track. Gah, this really sucks, you should have just gone home.

As you mentally kick yourself in the behind for your stupid, impulsive decision to go into the forest, you heard a faint sound that you very much welcomed. It was without a doubt the sound of flowing water: which meant that the river was somewhere nearby. You quickly brightened up, relief filling your heart as you joyfully ran towards the source of the sound, pushing past a low branch of a tree blocking your path.
“Whoa!”

…And then you land right on your back, having crashed into someone. Looking up, you saw a plain looking man wearing a simple kimono. He looked just as startled as you did, reeling back from the impact of collision. As you quickly backed away, however, the man seemed to have recovered from the surprise and put on a toothy grin, showing off his unusually long canines.

“..Ah…lunch,” he said, smacking his lips.

Uh-oh.

Quickly getting up to your feet, you began running as fast as you could, not daring to look behind you. The river flowed beside you, and you were lucky to have been sensible enough to run in the direction going against the flow. If you followed the path, you’d soon be out of the forest. Ignoring the burning pain in your lungs as well as your legs, you continued to run as fast as your feet would carry you. That man was pursuing you; you could hear whoops and mocking laughter behind you. Damn it, damn it, damn it!

“Hahaha, look ‘it the lil’ brat trying to run!” The youkai jeered, his voice coming from a distance that sounded uncomfortably close behind. “Run as fast as you can, kid! This is my favorite part of a meal!” Damn that bastard, he’s toying with you like a cat with its prey. He could probably easily catch up to you if he wanted; chasing you down was just a game to him.

But whatever, if he likes to play with his food, you’ll just have to take whatever opportunity you get to escape from this guy. But your legs scream out to you in protest, and the pace of your breath becomes increasingly shorter as you continue to sprint. In front of you, you could see the imposing mountain above the trees, but it seemed so far away.

“You’re slowing down, human brat!” You heard that youkai calling after you with fiendish delight, still maintaining that far-away-but-not-far-enough distance between the two of you. “C’mon, run faster why don’t you? You don’t wanna be eaten, right?!” ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up, I’m running as fast as I can, you stupid youkai!’ You really want to scream that behind you right now.

All too soon, your legs start to give out on you, and your breath comes out in short, painful gasps for air. Just a little more, though. You could see the end of the forest in sight. Just a little more…and you can make it out of here. That won’t stop the youkai, but it’ll work out somehow if you get there. That’s what you believed, and that’s what kept you going in spite of the hopeless chase.

And then your legs suddenly buckle under your weight, and you double over in pain. No more. You can’t run anymore. It feels like there had been a knife placed between your ribs that ebbed with pain with every breath you took in. The youkai man swaggered towards you, raising his arm.

“Too bad, eh kid? I have no idea what you’re doing here, but whatever. I haven’t been able to eat humans for a while, so I’m going to really enjoy this…”

‘…No you won’t.’

[] Fly over him.
[] Try to regain your breath, and then tackle him and run for it.
[] “HEEAAALLLLP.”
>> No. 8520
[] Fly over him.
>> No. 8521
[X] TASUKETE MOMIZI
>> No. 8522
[X] TASUKETE MOMIZI
>> No. 8523
[x] Fly over him.
>> No. 8524
[x] Fly over him.
>> No. 8525
[x] Fly over him.
>> No. 8526
[x] Tear away your shirt and reveal the red "S" underneath.
[x] Fly over him.
>> No. 8527
[X] Fly over him.
>> No. 8528
Really?

Fly over a youkai?
>> No. 8529
>>8528

You got a better idea, slick?
>> No. 8530
[x] “HEEAAALLLLP.”

AKA

[x] TASUKETE MOMIZI
>> No. 8531
>>8529
>‘…No you won’t.'

Well, I don't think that really was Mikio's thoughts. Maybe he will become a

>A giant, raging monster, stampeding through forests and rivers, ripping apart puny humans with your bare hands

[] Try to regain your breath, and then tackle him and run for it.
>> No. 8532
>>8531
Now you've got me picturing The Iceman(Hakuoro). Though that would be a pretty decent twist, to be a fake god. We basically already have all the other main characters in place.
>> No. 8535
[x] Double over in laughter. You're dressed like a Tengu. You've lived with the Tengu. You've heard the parables of them leading travelers astray. You should be able to pull this off.
[x] Catch your breath and sit down cross-legged, look around at the foliage. "Among the forest pines." Lock eyes with the youkai, "Is a good place for this story."
[x] "In the days of the Emperor Go-Reizei, there was a holy priest living in the temple of Saito, on the mountain called Hiyei-Zan, near Kyoto. One summer day this good priest, after a visit to the city, was returning to his temple by way of Kita-no-Oji, when he saw some boys ill-treating a kite. They had caught the bird in a snare, and were beating it with sticks.
"'Oh, the, poor creature!' compassionately exclaimed the priest; 'why do you torment it so, children?'
"One of the boys made answer: 'We want to kill it to get the feathers.'
"Moved by pity, the priest persuaded the boys to let him have the kite in exchange for a fan that he was carrying; and he set the bird free. It had not been seriously hurt, and was able to fly away.
"Happy at having performed this Buddhist act of merit, the priest then resumed his walk. He had not proceeded very far when he saw a strange monk come out of a bamboo-grove by the road-side, and hasten towards him. The monk respectfully saluted him, and said: 'Sir, through your compassionate kindness my life has been saved; and I now desire to express my gratitude in a fitting manner.'
"Astonished at hearing himself thus addressed, the priest replied: 'Really, I cannot remember to have ever seen you before. Please tell me who you are.'
"'It is not wonderful that you cannot recognize me in this form,' returned the monk, 'I am the kite that those cruel boys were tormenting at Kita-no-Oji. You saved my life; and there is nothing in this world more precious than life. So I now wish to return your kindness in some way or other. If there be anything that you would like to have, or to know, or to see, anything that I can do for you, in short, please to tell me; for as I happen to possess, in a small degree, the Six Supernatural Powers, I am able to gratify almost any wish that you can express.'
"On hearing these words, the priest knew that he was speaking with a Tengu; and he frankly made answer, 'My friend, I have long ceased to care for the things of this world: I am now seventy years of age; neither fame nor pleasure has any attraction for me. I feel anxious only about my future birth; but as that is a matter in which no one can help me, it were useless to ask about it. Really, I can think of but one thing worth wishing for. It has been my life-long regret that I was not in India in the time of the Lord Buddha, and could not attend the great assembly on the holy mountain Gridhrakuta. Never a day passes in which this regret does not come to me, in the hour of morning or of evening prayer. Ah, my friend! if it were possible to conquer Time and Space, like the Bodhisattvas, so that I could look upon that marvelous assembly, how happy should I be!'
"'Why,' the Tengu exclaimed, 'That pious wish of yours can easily be satisfied. I perfectly well remember the assembly on the Vulture Peak; and I can cause everything that happened there to reappear before you, exactly as it occurred. It is our greatest delight to represent such holy matters. Come this way with me!'
"And the priest suffered himself to be led to a place among pines, on the slope of a hill.
"'Now,' said the Tengu, 'You have only to wait here for awhile, with your eyes shut. Do not open them until you hear the voice of the Buddha preaching the Law. Then you can look. But when you see the appearance of the Buddha, you must not allow your devout feelings to influence you in any way; you must not bow down, nor pray, nor utter any such exclamation as, 'Even so, Lord!' or 'O thou Blessed One!' You must not speak at all. Should you make even the least sign of reverence, something very unfortunate might happen to me.'
"The priest gladly promised to follow these injunctions; and the Tengu hurried away as if to prepare the spectacle. The day waned and passed, and the darkness came, but the old priest waited patiently beneath a tree, keeping his eyes closed.
"At last a voice suddenly resounded above him, a wonderful voice, deep and clear like the pealing of a mighty bell, the voice of the Buddha Sakyamuni proclaiming the Perfect Way. Then the priest, opening his eyes in a great radiance, perceived that all things had been changed: The place was indeed the Vulture Peak, the holy Indian mountain Gridhrakuta, and the time was the time of the Sutra of the Lotos of the Good Law. Now there were no pines about him, but strange shining trees made of the Seven Precious Substances, with foliage and fruit of gems; the ground was covered with Mandarava and Manjushaka flowers showered from heaven; and the night was filled with fragrance and splendor and the sweetness of the great Voice. "And in mid-air, shining as a moon above the world, the priest beheld the Blessed One seated upon the Lion-throne, with Samantabhadra at his right hand, and Manjusri at his left, and before them assembled immeasurably spreading into Space, like a flood Of stars, the hosts of the Mahasattvas and the Bodhisattvas with their countless following: Gods, demons, nagas, oni, kappa, ghosts, men, youkai, fairies, and even stranger beings.
"Sariputra he saw, and Kasyapa, and Ananda, with all the disciples of the Tathagata, and the Kings of the Devas, and the Kings of the Four Directions, like pillars of fire, and the great Dragon-Kings, and the Gandharvas and Garudas, and the Gods of the Sun and the Moon and the Wind, and the shining myriads of Brahma's heaven.
[x] Begin to hover in the air as you reach the climax: "And incomparably further than even the measureless circling of the glory of these, he saw made visible by a single ray of light that shot from the forehead of the Blessed One to pierce beyond uttermost Time, the eighteen hundred thousand Buddha-fields of the Eastern Quarter with all their inhabitants, and the beings in each of the Six States of Existence, and even the shapes of the Buddhas extinct, that had entered into Nirvana.
"These, and all the gods, and all the demons, he saw bow down before the Lion-throne; and he heard that multitude incalculable of beings praising the Sutra of the Lotos of the Good Law, like the roar of a sea before the Lord. Then forgetting utterly his pledge, foolishly dreaming that he stood in the very presence of the very Buddha, he cast himself down in worship with tears of love and thanksgiving; crying out with a loud voice, 'O thou Blessed One!'...
"Instantly with a shock as of earthquake the stupendous spectacle disappeared; and the priest found himself alone in the dark, kneeling upon the grass of the mountain-side. Then a sadness unspeakable fell upon him, because of the loss of the vision, and because of the thoughtlessness that had caused him to break his word. As he sorrowfully turned his steps homeward, the goblin-monk once more appeared before him, and said to him in tones of reproach and pain:
"'Because you did not keep the promise which you made to me, and heedlessly allowed your feelings to overcome you, the Gohotendo, who is the Guardian of the Doctrine, swooped down suddenly from heaven upon us, and smote us in great anger, crying out, 'How do ye dare thus to deceive a pious person?' Then the other monks, whom I had assembled, all fled in fear. As for myself, one of my wings has been broken, so that now I cannot fly.'"
[x] Hover back down to the ground.
[x] "And with these words the Tengu vanished forever."
[x] Walk away.
>> No. 8536
File 123523622156.jpg - (41.71KB , 632x350 , hakuzilla.jpg ) [iqdb]
8536
>>8532

I thought this was funny because I did joke a lot about writing Godzilla into the story.

>>8535

...Wow.
>> No. 8537
File 123523915767.jpg - (24.74KB , 214x442 , 12202829482.jpg ) [iqdb]
8537
>>8535
>> No. 8538
>>8535
Wow. Just wow.
>> No. 8539
>>8535

lolwut?
>> No. 8540
>>8535

[x] And as I turned and left the forest, a gust of wind blew through, and the Akagi OP hummed gently in the background.
>> No. 8541
[x]>>8535
>> No. 8542
>>8535
Yeah, I vote for this.
>> No. 8544
[x] Fly over him.
---

You can’t give up here. Just a little more and you can get away from him, and then you’ll be safe. But you can’t run with your legs anymore, you’re at your absolute limit, so there was only one thing left to do. Continuing to pant heavily, you focused on regaining your breath for now, as the youkai slowly walked closer to you.

“You givin’ up already, kid? Hah, guess I can’t expect much from a lil’ brat, but whatever,” he kept on talking, raising his sinister fingers to reveal sharp claws that extended from the tips of his digits. “Right, kid. Time to die; you’re welcome to scream if you really have to.”

The man was right in front of you now. Any moment now, he’ll bring that arm down towards you, ripping through your body as easily as though it were made of clay. So, before that can happen, you take action. Summoning what little strength remained in your legs, you kicked off as high as you could from the ground. You heard a surprised yelp below you as you felt the wind passing through your hair as you shot up like a thrown spear. Without looking either behind or below you, your body took to the air, gliding against the wind faster than you ever did.

Hahaha, this feels great! This felt so easy! Why did you have so much trouble with such a simple thing before? You let out a hearty laughter as you continued to soar through the air, swerving to dodge branches and leaves with fluid movement Almost, just a little more and you’re out of the woods and in the clear. No problem, you can do this, just hold out for a little bit longer and…

And then you fall. You drop from the air as though you were suddenly weighed down by something. But that does nothing to stop the momentum you’ve gained, and you crash into the earth, painfully rolling through the dirt and grass as you continued to slide across the ground. That’s it, no more. You can’t go any further. You can barely even lift your head. You hear the youkai land on the ground a ways from you, his voice taunting you.

“Haha, so you still had a lil’ fight in you, eh runt? But you can’t even stand now, can ya? That’s really too bad,” his disgusting voice reaches your ears as you struggled to pick yourself up, only succeeding half way as you attempted to balance your upper body on your arms. Your legs aren’t even responding to you anymore, all you could do was watch as the man closed in, raising his arm.

“Die,” he said, plunging his sharp claws towards you. Instinctively, you close your eyes and brace yourself for the pain. But it never comes. You hear a startled cry from the man, as well as a low growl and the sounds of a scuffle nearby. Opening your eyes, you saw the youkai man pinned to the ground by a great white wolf, his hands occupied with keeping its fangs from his neck.

“Gah, what the hell?!” The man spat out as he wrestled with the beast, his hands tightly gripping the maw of the wolf from tearing into his neck. He lashed out with a kick to the belly of the beast, sending it reeling back in pain with a yelp. “Damn it, stupid mutt! I’ll kill you for interrupting my meal!” But the wolf, rather than intimidated, instead quickly hopped over to you. The beast stood at your side in defiance, growling fiercely. By this time, the man had stood from the ground, looking very angry.

He appeared just about ready to strike when the sound of something cutting through the air drew his attention. He quickly rose up his arm as if defending himself from something, and several pieces of paper lodged themselves there, splattering blood on the ground. Painfully turning your head in the direction they had come from, you saw the green haired woman from earlier, several more of the pieces of paper in her hand as she looked upon the scene with a stern expression.

The man growled, flailing his arm around to force the bits of paper off of it. Cursing loudly, he kicked off of the ground, shooting up towards the woman with his arm extended out in front of him, as though his body were a javelin. The woman dodged the youkai with almost eerily tranquil grace, spinning her entire body to float through the air, and in the same movement, launch another barrage of those pieces of paper at the man.

There was no time to watch the rest of the battle, however, as the wolf beside you acted quickly, biting down on the back of your shirt and tossing your whole body up into the air with incredible strength. You fell upon the back of the great beast, draped over it. Not wasting a single second, the wolf leaped and began sprinting towards the exit of the forest, and you wrapped your arms around its neck to prevent yourself from falling off.

The beast didn’t stop running until it was well within the base of the mountain, slowing down to a walk, and finally stopping entirely and leaning to the side to gently slide your body off. Feeling weak and disoriented, you barely managed to sit up. Your heart felt like it was going to explode at rate it was beating at. The wolf sat down in front of you, and as you chanced a glance at it, gave you a sharp nip on the shoulder. Not hard enough to break skin, but it still hurt.

“Ow,” you feebly exclaimed, not even having the strength the rub the spot where the wolf had bitten you. The wolf looked at you with what you imagined were scolding eyes. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry…” You said, as a crow flew down, perching itself on the head of the beast. One of Miss Aya’s crew, you’d guess. The wolf gave a growl, it clearly didn’t appreciate being used as a seat for the crow, but it still remained still.

“Mikio!” Miss Inubashiri’s voice. She landed just a few paces away from you, quickly crouching down beside you and taking hold of your shoulders. “Mikio, are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere? Oh…look at you, you’re a mess! What happened? Did you go in the Great Youkai Forest?!”

Augh, so many questions. With a dazed look on your face, you raised your head and…

[] Apologized.
[] Passed out.
>> No. 8545
[] Apologized.
>> No. 8546
[x] Apologized. Then,
[x] Passed out.
>> No. 8548
[] Apologized.
>> No. 8549
{X} Apologized.
>> No. 8550
I like this wolf. I propose we name it.
>> No. 8551
[] Apologized.
>> No. 8553
[x] Apologized. Then,
[x] Passed out.
>> No. 8554
>I like this wolf. I propose we name it.

name voting must begin now.
>> No. 8555
[X] Apologized.

>>8554
>name voting must begin now.

[X] Ammy
>> No. 8556
>>8554
[x] Commodore Puddles
>> No. 8557
>name voting must begin now.

Unisex names:
[ ] O-Oinumori (狼森, "Wolf of the Forest")
[ ] Karouzan (鹿狼山, "Hind-Wolf of the Mountain")
[ ] Rougajouyama (狼ヶ城山, "Wolf of the Mountain Fortress")
[ ] O-Okami (大狼, "Great Wolf")
[ ] Nakatengu (中天狗, "Dog of the Central Heavens")
[ ] Tengudake (天狗岳, "Dog of the Heavenly Mount")
[ ] Tenguiwa (天狗岩, "Dog of the Rocky Heavens")
[ ] Tenguzan (天狗山, "Dog of the Imperial Mount")
[ ] Tengumori (天狗森, "Dog of the Imperial Forest")
[ ] Kushi (狗之, "A Dog Such as This")
[ ] Guhin (狗賓, "Dog, Honored Guest")
[ ] Inuhashi (犬, "Dog")
[ ] Kenichi (犬一, "First Dog")
[ ] Inukami (犬神, "Dog God")
[ ] Insezaki (犬瀬崎, "Dog of the Promontory Shoals")
[ ] Hakkenden (八犬伝, "Dog of Eightfold Legend")
[ ] Kenmeizan (犬鳴山, "Resounding Mountain Dog")

Male names:
[ ] Ichirou (一狼, "Once Wolf")
[ ] Jirou (二狼, "Twice Wolf")
[ ] Koushiro (古子狼, "Old Wolf Pup")
[ ] Kyorou (巨狼, "Gigantic Wolf")
[ ] Inuhiko (犬彦, "Dog Lad")

Female names:
[ ] Miku (美狗, "Cute Puppy")
[ ] Inuki (犬君, "Dog, Ol' Girl")
[ ] Akainko (赤犬子, "Red Dog Child")
[ ] Inuko (犬子, "Dog Child")
[ ] Minume (美犬女, "Beauteous She-Dog")
[ ] Inudou (犬童, "Young Dog")
>> No. 8558
[x] Rougajouyama (狼ヶ城山, "Wolf of the Mountain Fortress")

Inuhashi's a good though, but we already have one.
>> No. 8560
[x] Rougajouyama (狼ヶ城山, "Wolf of the Mountain Fortress")
>> No. 8561
[x] Cat
>> No. 8562
[x] Jirou (二狼, "Twice Wolf")

I like this one. It's simple.

[x] Apologized. Then,
[x] Passed out.
>> No. 8563
File 12353003165.jpg - (107.00KB , 1095x843 , 1235295403924.jpg ) [iqdb]
8563
>>8562
You... you... DOUBLE WOLF!
>> No. 8564
>>8563
>DOUBLE WOLF
I knew that would come up. I'm surprised it took so little time to get to it.
>> No. 8566
File 123530927427.jpg - (393.91KB , 750x1000 , ammy and momizi.jpg ) [iqdb]
8566
[X] Ammy

This is the right name. Ammy and Momizi will be very good friends.
>>8563

God fucking damnit.
>> No. 8567
It just hit me.

The wolf has helped us twice so far. Once before in the story, and twice with the youkai dude.
>> No. 8568
File 123531212431.jpg - (119.83KB , 633x900 , Amaterasu.jpg ) [iqdb]
8568
>>8566
>Ammy and Momizi will be very good friends.

Eh, I don't know. I think Momizi would be too jealous for that.
>> No. 8569
>>8563
WHY YOU DO THIS TO MY EYES?!
>> No. 8573
[x] Tengumori (天狗森, "Dog of the Imperial Forest")

lol absurdly appropriate names
>> No. 8599
hopefully this turn of events will make Lion write him/her into the story more.