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8574 No. 8574
[x] Apologized
---

“I’m…sorry. I went in the forest, even though I knew I shouldn’t. I was being stupid…” you said, lowering your head in shame. Miss Inubashiri gave you a light smack on the forehead with the edge of her hand.

“Honestly, Mikio, I thought you were more sensible than that,” she said with a stern look on her face. It quickly relaxed, however, as her tone of voice softened and she continued to speak. “…Well, you don’t seem to be hurt, so I’m relieved. I…was really worried when I saw Ami running out of the forest with you on her back, you know. I thought you might have been…” She fell into silence as she looked to the wolf that remained sitting beside her.

The crow perched on top of the wolf’s head took flight and landed beside the beast as you weakly raised your hand to gently pet the wolf. It let out a low grumble in protest, but otherwise did nothing to prevent you from touching it. You still felt too weak to stand up, but the feeling in your legs were starting to return. Meanwhile, Miss Inubashiri leaned forward, whispering into the wolf’s ear. The wolf responded with a low growl, and short, deep barks, and she nodded.

“Seems it was the crow that alerted Ami to your position, Mikio.”

“Eh? You mean, Miss Aya’s…?”

“Yeah. You know, every time Miss Shameimaru spots you going outside, she sends one of her crows to keep an eye on you. You never noticed?”

“…Ah, no…”

“…She might seem kind of irresponsible, but she does watch out for you,” she continued to speak as the crow took to the air and flew away, watching it become nothing but a speck in the blue sky. That knowledge shed a bit more light on Miss Aya, and you make a small pledge to yourself to not complain anymore when she sends you on an errand.

“Anyway, Mikio. Let’s get you back to the mountain. Can you stand?”

You try to stand, to no avail. Your legs just don’t have the strength to hold your body up right now. You nearly collapse, but Miss Inubashiri quickly steadies your torso, holding you up. You grimace as you realize how much your entire body is going to be sore the next morning. Miss Inubashiri hoisted you up, carrying you on her back, with the wolf following close behind.

“…So why in the world did you go into the forest, Mikio?”

“Um, well, I saw something floating in the river, so I thought I’d take a quick look at what it was. It was a weird doll thing, but then I think a youkai woman came up to me, and I just ran without thinking.”

“A youkai woman?”

“Uh huh, she had a red dress and a lot of these…frilly ribbons. She gave me the chills. It’s weird, though. She started fighting the other youkai that was trying to kill me.”

“…She’s probably not a youkai then. Most likely, she’s one of the many gods that live here. I think I remember hearing about a god of curses that places misfortunes in dolls and sends them floating down the river. The gods here try to protect humans by keeping them away from dangerous places like the forest and the mountain, so she was probably just trying to warn you off.”

Now that just made you feel guilty. Apparently, that woman was only trying to help you, and you ran away from her like she was some monster. You make a note to yourself to apologize to her if you ever run into her again.

---

The wolf parted ways from you near the base of the mountain; Miss Inubashiri said it was going back to the den at the bottom of the mountain fortress. She also grumbled something about the leader of the pack being a lazy bum, but you didn’t really get to hear most of it.

The trip back up the mountain was mostly uneventful. You still felt a little dizzy and disoriented, so Miss Inubashiri took the long way, hiking up the mountain trail instead of flying over the waterfall. On the way up, you saw some white feathers on the ground: evidence that a desperate struggle had taken place there. You offered a small prayer in your mind to whatever the white thing you saw earlier was.

Huh. The snow around the area’s completely melted. It’s a bit warmer now, like spring really should be.
---

“Mikio, do you need to go to the infirmary, or do you want to rest in the sleeping quarters?” Miss Inubashiri asked you as the two of you entered the tunnels of the mountain. Well, you feel slightly more energetic now, you might be able to stand up and walk by yourself, but it might be a good idea to take it easy for the rest of the day.

[] I’m okay. I’ll be fine on my own.
[] I just need some rest in bed.
[] Take me to the infirmary.

>> No. 8577
[X] I just need some rest in bed.
>> No. 8578
[] I’m okay. I’ll be fine on my own.
>> No. 8579
[x] Take me to the infirmary.

Rest and recuperate.
>> No. 8580
[X] I’m okay. I’ll be fine on my own.
>> No. 8581
{X} I just need some rest in bed.
>> No. 8583
[x] I just need some rest in bed.

With you to tend over me.
>> No. 8584
[x] I just need some rest in bed.

Bed~

Just caught up with your story, and I gotta say, you're doing a phenomenal job, Lion. Keep it up; I'm really looking forward to where this goes.
>> No. 8585
[X] I just need some rest in bed.
>> No. 8586
[] I just need some rest in bed.
>> No. 8587
>>8584

Thanks. Keep up the good work on your story as well.

[x] I just need some rest in bed.
---

“Rest sounds good right now. I think I could…really use a nap,” you whispered to Miss Inubashiri, slowly closing your eyes as the usual breeze within the tunnel gently caressed you. You felt relaxed and strangely comfortable, despite your legs feeling more like a pair of noodles than limbs. Miss Inubashiri nodded, and continued to walk, still carrying you on her back.

The two of you reached the sleeping quarters, and she slid the door open and slipped inside. Gently, she lowered you, leaving you there to lean on the wall as she removed the scarf on your neck.

“This is Miss Shameimaru’s…?”

“Yeah, she let me borrow it just before I went out. Can you return it to her? Oh…and um…I guess I’ll have to apologize to her for getting it all dirty…” you trailed off, shifting a little with discomfort. The patterns were covered with dirt, probably from when you crashed into the ground earlier. Well, it was lucky that it didn’t outright get torn to pieces, you suppose.

Miss Inubashiri nodded, wrapping up the scarf into a circular roll and placing it on the floor. She then picked you up in her arms and carried you to your spread out futon, jerking back the blanket and gently placing you on the mattress. She then pulled up the blanket, tucking you in. She also removed the tokin hat from your head, undoing the straps and placing it near your pillow.

“…Now, I have to go back on the watch, so get some rest. I’ll bring the dinner up here, so sleep until then, okay?” Miss Inubashiri said, placing her hand on your head and softly petting you. You closed your eyes and gave a nod, letting out a content breath in the warmth of your blanket. Lying down cozily like this when you were so exhausted felt so good. Slipping away from the plane of consciousness, you quickly drifted into slumber.

---

“Heeeey, Miki! Wake up!”

Huh? What? No, go away Miss Aya. You’re still sleepy. You feel too tired right now, way too tired to deal with anything. You mumble out an incoherent grumble as you turn onto your side, hugging your pillow closer to you.

“Ah…Miss Shameimaru, maybe we should just leave him alone. He seems really tired right now,” Miss Inubashiri’s voice came from above you, and you felt a gentle touch on your forehead.

“Well yeah, but the food’s going to get cold, just get him to wake up real quick. He can sleep once he finishes his meal.” Someone started shaking you by the shoulder. With a disgruntled groan, you forced yourself up, opening your eyes. Miss Inubashiri and Miss Aya sat beside you, and between them was a tray. On the tray was a plain bowl of rice and assorted side dishes.

“Hey there, you awake?” Miss Aya asked cheerfully, picking the tray up and pushing it onto your lap.

“…Nearly,” you said, rubbing your eyes with your hands. You covered your mouth as you let out an audible yawn and wiped away the tears that watered up your eyes. Taking hold of a pair of chopsticks, you placed a piece of meat on your bowl of rice, then scooped up some of it and began eating.

The two women there watched you eat, which was mildly discomforting, although you didn’t really mind too much. You placed your chopsticks down, having finished your meal, and placed the tray beside you between Miss Aya and Miss Inubashiri.

“That must have been a close call, huh, Mikio?” Miss Aya began talking, looking slightly more serious than her usual demeanor. “I heard what happened to you from one of my “informants”, but really now, I thought you had a better head on your shoulders than that.”

“…I’m sorry…and I’m really sorry about getting the scarf dirty, too,” you said with a frown, once again hanging your head in shame. Miss Aya reached out and placed her hand on your head, playfully messing up your already disheveled hair.

“Hey, hey, don’t look so down about it. The scarf doesn’t mean as much as your safety, now does it?” She said with a sheepish grin. Quick to forgive, wasn’t she? “…But, seriously, Miki, be more careful than you were today, okay?” You nodded.

You lay back down on your pillow. Your body still felt like they were half-asleep, and you still felt a little tired. A short period of silence in the room was soon broken by Miss Aya.

“Hey, Miki. You up for an old story?” She asked, and Miss Inubashiri turned to her with a curious expression.

“…Huh? An old story?” you asked.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s an old tale only the oni and tengu can remember.”

[] Well, okay, tell me the story.
[] …No thanks, I just want to go back to sleep right now.
>> No. 8588
[] Well, okay, tell me the story.
>> No. 8589
>“Yeah, yeah, it’s an old tale only the oni and tengu can remember.”

Again with the oni?

[x] Well, okay, tell me the story.

PLOT EXPOSITION? I HOPE MY BODY CAN TAKE IT
>> No. 8590
[x] Well, okay, tell me the story.
>> No. 8591
[x] Yay story time!
>> No. 8593
[x] Well, okay, tell me the story.
>> No. 8594
I can't be the only one who think Lion & Chain would be a good band name, right?
>> No. 8595
[] …No thanks, I just want to go back to sleep right now.

Going against the tide.
>> No. 8596
[x] Well, okay, tell me the story.

ok
>> No. 8597
[X] Well, okay, tell me the story.

Tell me a story, aunt Aya!
>> No. 8600
[X] Well, okay, tell me the story.
>> No. 8602
[x] Well, okay, tell me the story.
>> No. 8607
>>8594

...lol wut.
>> No. 8608
[x] Well, okay, tell me the story.
---

“…Mmm, sure. What kind of story is it?” you ask, pulling your blanket a little tighter around yourself as you shifted your head towards Miss Aya, still sitting beside your mattress.

“It’s a scaaary story. The sort that might give you nightmares for the next few days, still interested?” she said with a mischievous grin on her face, leaning a little closer to you. You couldn’t help but let out a small snort.

“That’s fine. Just let me know when to cover my ears,” you said with a heavy dose of sarcasm in your tone, which only widened the grin on her face, as she backed away from you to straighten her posture.

“Well then, Mikio, prepare to be shocked and awed,” she said, bringing the tip of her index finger to her lips. She waved her arm as a strong gust of wind overtook the room, blowing out the lights of the candles and torches lighting it. Taking a nearby unlit candle, she snapped her fingers, creating a spark of flame that lit the candle. Bringing the small source of light up to her face, she began to talk in what you assumed was her attempt at a creepy whisper.

“A long, long time ago, before this world was separated from the outside, there used to a smaller human village in Gensokyo. It was a humble town, with very few families living there. Although they were constantly in danger of being attacked by wild youkai, they were able to live in peace, trading with the other smaller villages and eking out a living on their own.

But one day, a large group of wild youkai suddenly attacked the village. The villagers fought back as well as they could, but were all wiped out, except for one man. He was shrewd, cunning, and resourceful, and possessed spiritual power on equaling that of his enemies. That human swore to vanquish all youkai from the land, and create a world just for humans.

He was obviously outmatched and outnumbered by the numerous creatures of the land, but he continued on, relying on underhanded, cunning maneuvers such as lies and deceit to overcome his lack of strength and gain the upper hand on the creatures. He was merciless, and made no exceptions to what he killed, seeing all youkai as mindless beasts. Eventually, he just became a mindless killer, bathing in the blood of a thousand youkai. In doing so, he became a youkai himself, and even stopped discriminating between humans and youkai. He made himself a worse monster than the creatures he hunted down.”

She stopped there, falling into silence as the light of the candle she was holding flickered in the darkness, casting dancing shadows on her oddly solemn face.

“…That’s it?” you decide to ask with uncertainty.

“That’s the end,” Miss Aya replied, nodding sagely.

“…I’m going to sleep.”

“Ah, hey, no! Come on, ask me questions!”

“…Okay, fine. What happened to the guy?”

“Heheheh…no one knows! Maybe he’s just watching you, waiting for a chance to strike you in the back.”

“…So what? Did this really happen?”

“No it didn’t, Mikio. It’s just an old story Master Ogata made up to warn new tengu about how dangerous humans can be,” Miss Inubashiri cut in as Miss Aya opened her mouth to say something. “…And honestly, it’s really not scary at all. I don’t believe any human could kill over a thousand youkai without being killed himself. Why are you telling him this, Miss Shameimaru?”

“Because I wanted his opinion on something,” she said, setting the candle down on the floor as she brought out her notebook and pen, flipping open to a page. “Mikio, as a human amidst a clan of youkai, how would you say this old tale makes you feel?”

“…Huh? What do you mean?”

“Well, let’s make it a little bit simpler. Which of the “monsters” do you think were worse? The youkai whose nature is to attack humans, or the human who vowed to kill all youkai for it?”

[] The human.
[] The youkai.
>> No. 8609
{~} The human.
>> No. 8610
i love F5.

[x] The human obviously. Just 'cause youkai eat humans doesn't mean that humans have to go on a killing rampage.
>> No. 8611
[x] "They're no worse than one-another. They're both monsters."

idort option
>> No. 8612
[x] "They're no worse than one-another. They're both monsters."

Black and black.
>> No. 8613
[X] The human.

Mostly because he doesn't have natural impulse to fall back on as an excuse - he did it out of pure vengeance. Worse still, he let himself go to excess, and become an outrageous monster. At least the youkai weren't slaughtering their own.
>> No. 8615
>>8613
>Worse still, he let himself go to excess, and become an outrageous monster. At least the youkai weren't slaughtering their own.

Yes, but at that point he had already become a youkai, making the distinction between him and them moot. According to the story, obviously the occasional youkai does indeed go on a murderous rampage of their own kind, as do humans.

As for the youkai, this was obviously not the isolated cases of hungry beasts stumbling across unwary humans: This was a planned, calculated extermination of human presence. Whether or not they ate the bodies afterwards doesn't make their actions any less genocidal than those of that one man.
>> No. 8618
>>8615

I'm not talking about hungry youkai, though. Harming humans isn't just something that youkai do it's something that they are; youkai exist on human fear. That story doesn't seem to be set in recent Gensokyo either, where youkai "harming" humans means being a little bit of a pest from time to time, but rather in an older Gensokyo that may not have been so peaceful.
>> No. 8619
[x] "They're no worse than one-another. They're both monsters."
>> No. 8620
>I'm not talking about hungry youkai, though. Harming humans isn't just something that youkai do it's something that they are; youkai exist on human fear.

Really? What about Tengu? Aya just referred to Mikio as "as a human amidst a clan of youkai".

Youkai exist on belief, of which fear is just one form.
>> No. 8622
>>8620

Sure, I'll hand you the tengu. The kappa, too: as Nitori says, they're humans' allies since way back when.

But then look at youkai like Rumia: "Attacking humans is a youkai's job."

In fact, most of the minor youkai exhibit this attitude. It seems to be the natural course of things for wild youkai, which the man was dealing with. You can't really fault ancient youkai for being violent if that's just how they're born; wild youkai are beasts, and probably none too bright.

That's kind of why the guy was such a dick. He started going after all youkai, and then after humans too. At least the wild youkai were presumably following their natural impulse, whereas this guy just kind of lost it.

In fairness, I can see an argument for both sides being genocidal loons. Certainly both sides are not at all what you would call good. I just happen to feel that the youkai's attitude is a little more understandable than the man's in this instance.
>> No. 8623
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
>> No. 8624
>But then look at youkai like Rumia: "Attacking humans is a youkai's job."

Even by youkai standards, Rumia is stupid.

>It seems to be the natural course of things for wild youkai, which the man was dealing with.

Wild youkai don't attack in groups, and certainly not in groups large enough to take out a whole town.

>You can't really fault ancient youkai for being violent if that's just how they're born; wild youkai are beasts, and probably none too bright.

Why not? Just because some mass murderer was born a sociopath doesn't make him any less deserving of my antipathy.

>That's kind of why the guy was such a dick. He started going after all youkai, and then after humans too. At least the wild youkai were presumably following their natural impulse, whereas this guy just kind of lost it.

It's the natural impulse of humans to hate and fear threats to their livelihood and that of their loved ones. It's also human nature to seek revenge. That this is so doesn't make said actions committed in the name of these any less objectionable.
>> No. 8625
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
I like them both.
>> No. 8626
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
>> No. 8627
>But then look at youkai like Rumia: "Attacking humans is a youkai's job."
Rumia's as sharp as a sack of rubber balls.

[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
>> No. 8628
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
>> No. 8629
[x] "There are no such things as monsters. In the end, we all govern our own actions. It is human to do so, and it is youkai to do so. No one is born a killer"
[x] "But truthfully? I think the real monsters are the fascist scum who tell this story to degrade an entire race. No offense to you, of course. You're just silly"
>> No. 8630
[X]The half-youkai.
>> No. 8631
>>8624

You miss my point: wild youkai are presumably that dumb. Maybe worse in pre-civilized Gensokyo. And we are certainly dealing with wild youkai, as the story explicitly points this out:

>But one day, a large group of wild youkai suddenly attacked the village.

In point of fact, the way this is phrased would make it seem as though it were not premeditated. "One day?" Seems to have happened awful suddenly. It seems to me more like a sudden wild animal attack than plotted genocide.

This is why I see the man as the more "evil" party in this case: humans ought to have the intellect to drive themselves correctly, yet he gave in completely to base impulse despite the fact that he should have known better. He became worse than the youkai, turned into one himself, and became a mindless killing machine. Worse still, he planned all of it, and engaged in willing Genocide. On the flip side, from what I see in the context of the story, there's no reason to believe the youkai were capable of higher thought in the first place; youkai is a pretty catch-all term, and it's difficult to pin an intellect to a faceless mass, especially when it is described as wild. I wouldn't blame a child for murdering someone if they didn't understand what that meant in the first place; granted, I'd probably lock them up, but still.

Neither side is particularly good here, but the man just looks so much worse.
>> No. 8632
>He became worse than the youkai, turned into one himself, and became a mindless killing machine.

How can he be worse than the youkai, if they're just "mindless killing machines" themselves? It sounds like you're trying to have it both ways.

>I wouldn't blame a child for murdering someone if they didn't understand what that meant in the first place; granted, I'd probably lock them up, but still.

And if it was an animal that mauled your child, you'd have it put down.
>> No. 8633
>>8627
I believe the correct expression is "As sharp as a bowling ball and twice as dense."
>> No. 8634
>>8632
The point the previous poster was making, I think, was that if you're just following instincts because you don't have higher mental functions, you're not responsible for your actions in the same way as someone who willfully abandons those higher functions for base revenge.
>> No. 8636
>>8629
Maybe not.

[X] The human.
>> No. 8637
>>8632
>How can he be worse than the youkai, if they're just "mindless killing machines" themselves? It sounds like you're trying to have it both ways.

Because he wasnt a mindless killing machine, but became one despite being "rational and civilised".
>> No. 8640
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
Good answer.

>>8631
She's not asking who's more evil, though, she's asking who's more of a monster. The action of mindlessly slaughtering innocents is the same. The human probably killed a lot more than most individual youkai, but to be fair, she's comparing him with youkai as a whole. Would you feel any less terrified if you ran into the group of wild youkai in the story just because their origin is less heinous?
>> No. 8641
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."

the man would have been much more justified if he ate the youkai and people he killed.
>> No. 8642
>>8641
>the man would have been much more justified if he ate the youkai and people he killed.

I propose that Mikio makes a note of this.
>> No. 8649
[x] "Neither and both. Anyone that kills unnecessarily without remorse is a monster."
---

“Hm…well, I think both the human and the group of youkai that attacked his village were monsters, really,” you say, closing your eyes as you pondered your next line of thoughts.

“…Oh? And why would you say that? Isn’t it a youkai’s nature to attack humans?” Miss Aya asked, and you opened your eyes. The room was better lit now, as Miss Inubashiri had started going around lighting the torches and candles back on.

“Yeah, but it isn’t a youkai’s nature to attack in groups large enough to destroy even a small village, right?” you said, and you spotted what you imagined may have been a slight twinkle in Miss Aya’s eyes. “That was just as genocidal as what that guy did. I think anyone that kills so much unnecessarily without remorse is…a real monster.”

“So you don’t think the human’s actions were justified either?”

“Maybe if he ate the youkai he killed.”

“Pfft…hahahaha!” Miss Aya burst out laughing, setting her notebook down for a moment as she pretended to wipe a tear from her eye. She then brought up notebook back up, scribbling on the pages using her pen. “Demented little boy, aren’t you?”

“Only when I’m sleepy.”

“Anyway, smart answer. Calculated genocide can’t be justified, be it youkai or human. As tengu, we feel very strongly about the destruction of a community,” she continued to speak, fanning herself with her still opened notebook. “Most of the newly inducted tengu tend to believe the human was worse, though.” Well, that’s peculiar, the tengu telling stories of humans and their atrocities to warn those of a newer generation. Somehow, that felt almost ironic.

“…Hey, Miss Inubashiri…?” you said as Miss Inubashiri returned to the floor beside your futon, having lit all the torches again. Something’s about what Miss Aya said had been bothering you a little. “…Does old man Ogata hate humans…?”

“…Well, I wouldn’t say he hates them, but…” she seemed to be considering her next words carefully, when Miss Aya suddenly cut in.

“Nah, Miki. Too old to care about that; the only thing he seems to think matters about someone is how well they can hold their drink.”

“Hahaha, I’d say you’re right about that one,” you said, letting out a light chuckle. Would it bother you if he hated humans? Probably not all that much, but you would have really wondered why he had you adopted into the clan if he detested humans. Well, maybe you’ll have the guts to ask him about it someday, but for now…

“…I’m still sleepy,” you stated quietly, and the two women sitting beside your mattress stood up from the floor.

“Good night, Miki,” Miss Aya said, walking to the door whilst stretching out her arms to the ceiling.

“Change into your nightwear before you go to sleep, Mikio. Your clothes are dirty.” Miss Inubashiri gave you a nod before following after Miss Aya. When they left the room, you reluctantly pushed your blanket off of yourself and undressed, slipping into your more comfortable kimono.

Yawning, you quietly lay back down on your mattress, pulling your blanket back up to your shoulders. Already, your joints were beginning to ache. You really weren’t looking forward to waking up the next day. Regardless, it was time to rest now, so…

---

As expected, you feel terrible. You couldn’t even walk properly, because your legs would bring a world of pain whenever you tried to move them, forced to resort to a funny looking limp. Your upper body wasn’t exactly in the best state of affairs, either. The shoulder that you had landed on after your brief flight and crash had bruised, and was aching terribly.

Fortunately enough, Ogata heard from Miss Inubashiri about what had happened the day before, and after giving you a sound whack on the head with his shakujo, told you to take the day off. So, you decided to do just that, as well as enjoy the fresh air outside. After the painstaking hike down the mountain, you came to the giant chestnut tree just barely above what would be the base of the mountain.

Sighing, you fell back on the grass. Squirming around on the ground, you leaned your back against the tree, your forearms placed behind your head, acting as a pillow. It was really too bad the tree wouldn’t bear fruit for a while: you could go for a snack.

As you basked in the fresh air under the shade of the tree, one of the white wolves of the mountain sauntered over to you. You weren’t exactly familiar with all of them, but you recognized this one: it was Ami, the one who had saved you from that youkai yesterday. As it pushed its nose towards you, you reached out and pet the beast, and it let out a low whine. Twisting its body around, it took a bit of your hakama into its mouth, gently tugging on it.

“…Eh? What is it?” You asked, straightening your back as you leaned forward, watching the beast. Ami let go of your hakama, giving you a short, gurgling sort of bark. It then bit down on your hakama again, tugging you with more force this time. Did it want you to follow?

[] What's that Lassie? Timmy fell down a well? Follow the wolf.
[] No way, I’m tired.
>> No. 8650
[x]What's that Lassie? Timmy fell down a well? Follow the wolf.
>> No. 8651
{X} Follow the wolf.
>> No. 8653
[] Follow the wolf, I’m tired.
>> No. 8654
[X] Follow the wolf.
>> No. 8655
[x] Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though"
>> No. 8656
[x] Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though
>> No. 8658
[x] What's that Lassie? Timmy fell down a well? Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though."

>>8633
My personal favorite is "Not the sharpest hammer in the soup."
>> No. 8659
[x] Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though"

fluffy doggy
>> No. 8660
[x] What's that Lassie? Timmy fell down a ravine? Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though."
>> No. 8661
in b4 demands for an Ami route.
in b4 accusations of furry.
>> No. 8663
[x] Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though"
>> No. 8664
>>8661

10% baby
>> No. 8665
[X] What's that Lassie? Timmy fell down a well? Follow the wolf.
[X] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though

>>8664
This Ami is very clearly 100%, though.
>> No. 8666
>>8665

fine too
>> No. 8667
i never finished Ookami. i should get to it.
>> No. 8669
So yeah, hate to break the daily chain here, but I'm going to have to do the update tomorrow. Sorry.
>> No. 8670
>>8669
Chain will be weakpointbroken over that. I hope you give him some daisies to make up.
>> No. 8671
>>8670

PROTECT BREAK?!

Best Data Drain him fast.
>> No. 8672
>>8670
>>8671
>> No. 8673
[x] Follow the wolf.
[x] "Fine, fine. You'll have to carry me, though"
---

“Fine, fine…” you mumbled, drawing back your legs as you reluctantly got up from the ground, standing on your shaky legs. Your balance was still unsteady, and between the limp feeling in your legs and the bruise on your shoulder, “not feeling very well” was an understatement. “…You’ll have to carry me, though. I feel beat.”

The wolf walked up to you and bit down lightly on your hand. Well, not a whole lot of things appreciate being used as a mount, after all. Regardless, it bears no further complaints as you gently climbed onto its back, lazily wrapping your arms around its neck. It took off, covering a great amount of distance with each leap, although it seemed to be careful not to go at its usual, dizzying pace. For that, you were thankful; you’d probably end up throwing up otherwise.

Ami navigated a path around the mountain you were never really aware of. Well, you don’t think this wolf would lead you to danger, anyway, but you couldn’t help but wonder where it was that the wolf was bringing you to. That question was quickly answered minutes later, as Ami gradually stopped when it approached a cave opening of some sort. Was this the den of wolves that Miss Inubashiri had mentioned yesterday?

Well, whatever it was, the wolf refused to walk another step. Did it want you to get off its back? Lifting your leg, you did so, stepping onto the ground. With your two feet firmly planted on the ground, you watched as the wolf sauntered into the den, stopping momentarily to give a glance to you. It must want you to follow it into the den. Well, you don’t really like dark places, but that wolf did help save your life, so…

So you struck out into the cavern, and the wolf trotted along in front of you. The inside was very dim, and it would only get darker as you continued inwards. Eventually, you could barely see anything in front of you, resorting to having to feel your way through with your hands.

There was dim light up ahead: wherever it was that Ami was leading you to, it must be lit by something. Careful not to trip on the rough ground below, you continued to make your way towards that growing light. The source of the light is coming from right in front of you now; the small passageway you’d been walking in opened up to a large room. You stepped forward into the light.

And you immediately darted back into the safety of the darkness. Out there were dozens and dozens of wolves, and it was unnerving to have them all turn their head to gaze at you. But what intimidated you most was in the very back of the room. There was a wolf lying on its forelegs there, probably the leader of the pack, but it was huge. As in, big-enough-to-swallow-you-whole huge. Ami turned towards you, expectantly waiting as you worked up the courage to walk back out.

Having calmed your nerves, you slowly walked back into what you assumed was the main area in the den of the white wolves. The area was circular, the edges of the “room” held crudely shaped “beds”, if you could call them that. At the very back was the leader of the wolves, and on both sides of him were brightly burning torches. Nervously, you followed Ami, uncomfortably aware of the dozens of pairs of wolves’ eyes staring at you, approaching the giant wolf. The giant wolf there raised its head, looking at you with one good eye; the other looked mangled with scars. It bared its teeth at you; its fangs were easily as long as your arms, though it didn’t seem to growl or exhibit any other hostile behavior.

Finally, the wolf got up on all four of its legs. As expected, at straight posture, it completely dwarfed you, and you had to crane your neck up to keep your eyes on its face. The giant wolf slowly started walking towards you – and began to glow brightly, forcing you to shut your eyes and block out the light with your arms. When you opened your eyes, you saw something completely different in front of you.

Before you was a half-naked, tall man, with wild white hair. There was a piece of cloth wrapped around slanted around on one side of his face, covering the same side that the wolf’s scarred eye was. There were large wolf ears sticking out from the mess of the man’s hair, and he also had a large fluffy tail. He was lean, but his body was well-toned, and there was a tattoo running down the length of one arm.

“Yo,” the man spoke with a rough, coarse voice, raising one calloused hand towards you as a greeting. “So you’re the human at the tengu’s place, huh? Been wantin’ to meet ya for a while now.”

You stood in silence, a little too busy wondering who the hell this guy was to return his greeting. He wasn’t one of the white wolf tengu, was he? He had wolf ears and a tail like them, but there were subtle differences. For one, his ears were much sharper and more pronounced than that of the tengu, and his tail was bigger and wider: the ends split into five distinct tips. Not only that, but his canines were much longer and more intimidating…

“Hey, boy. You’re supposed ta’ answer a greeting when you’re a guest. Didn’t that old fart Ogata teach you manners?” The man said, clearly a bit irritated. You snapped back into attention, bowing slightly.

“Um…hello, I’m…Kirita Mikio. Wh-who might you be?” You asked as politely as you could, straightening yourself as the man gave an amused snort, turning his back to you.

“I’m the great Lord Rouga, of the Jouyama clan! Remember that name well!” He declared, striking a pose as he swiftly faced you again, his white fur waistcloth waving in the air dramatically.

…You’re at a loss for words. What a strange guy. “Lord” Rouga stared intently at you for a while, before giving a sigh and slumping down on the ground with his legs crossed, supporting his chin with one hand.

“Y’know, there used ta’ be a time when that name struck fear into the hearts of humans,” he mumbled, looking a little put off by your lack of a reaction. He raised one arm, snapping his finger, and one of the wolves came running over, dropping a piece of raw meat on the man’s lap before retreating. The man took the meat and tore into it hungrily, taking off a large chunk of it in with his mouth.

“Mmoo mamph fwumph?” he said while still chewing the meat in his mouth, holding out the still respectably large piece of meat towards you. He was offering it to you, wasn’t he?

“…No thank you, I like my meat cooked,” you said, your voice barely audible as the man continued to chew loudly, swallowing the chunks in his mouth with big gulps. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and tossed the rest of the meat to Ami, who took the meat into its mouth and ran off the join the rest of the pack in the circle around you.

“Bah, you humans are picky. But I’ll give you that meat does taste better cooked, but I suck at cookin’ meat. Always end up burnin’ ‘em, so I usually don’t bother,” Rouga continued to speak in a casual tone. “Anyway, Kirita, have a seat. Or are you too proper to sit on dirt?”

Ignoring that last question, you sat cross-legged on the ground. Nervously, you began playing with the hem of your hakama as the man picked up what looked like a small fishbone from the ground and began picking his teeth.

“You're prolly curious about what I am, ain’t ya?” he asked with a disinterested face, not even sparing you a gaze while talking to you. “If you're smart you might have already figured out that I’m the leader of this pack, see. And if you're observant enough, you probably figured I ain’t a tengu, neither. I’m a wolf youkai, see.” He concluded, flicking the fish bone away.

“…What’s the difference?”

---
>> No. 8674
---

“The white wolf tengu aren’t really wolves. The tengu are spiritual creatures, they’re different from beast youkai like us. They resemble us and they’s got a spiritual connection to us that gives ‘em empathy, but that’s ‘bout it.” He said, absentmindedly scratching his neck. “But we’re indebted to ‘em, so we ser- I mean, we assist ‘em with their patrols around the mountain. Not that there’s been anything to watch out for lately, mind ya. Not a lotta humans come out here, most of ‘em ain’t stupid enough to go through places with names like the Great Youkai Forest to hike up the Youkai Mountain.”

“…Um, what do you mean by indebted to the tengu?”

“We’re under their protection. Well, my pack is, anyway. I don’t need it, really, but the rest of the pups here do.” He said, glancing to the sides where the wolves lay about, listening in on the conversation. “Humans don’t really like wolves, ya know? We’re the only wolf clan that’s still united, the rest have mostly split to form smaller packs in the wild. Humans have been getting a little bit too strong in the past two hundred years or so.” He paused here to crack his neck, closing his eye and presumably recalling old memories.

“Man, I remember when they were giving me annual offerings of the finest mutton and sake to keep the pack from massacrin’ their cattle. But then they started driving off our members, so we retreated back to the mountain. I could still totally kick all their asses, but I ain’t allowed to because of the balance of Gensokyo or whatever.”

“Anyway, the tengu here took pity on us and put us under their protection, so yeah, we ended up working for ‘em, pretty much. Ain’t so bad living like this, hunting the fauna in the forest, but whatever. Times have changed, and so have humans,” He concluded, before reaching out a hand toward you. By instinct, you took his rough, worn hand into yours, and he gave you a firm squeeze as he shook it. “But you ain’t so bad. Heard you can hold your drink better ‘en some of the tengu. That’s pretty damn impressive. Sneak out a sake bottle and have a drink or two with me sometime, eh, Kirita?” He gave you a grin, letting go of your hand. You’re not sure if you like this guy or not.

He snapped his finger again, and Ami came walking back to him, having finished her meal while the two of you (mostly Rouga, actually) were talking.

“Ami here’ll guide ya back to the base of the mountain. Later, Kirita.” He said, placing a hand on the wolf’s head and petting it quite roughly. You stood up without a word, although you did give a bow before turning and following Ami back into the narrow passageway. As you left, you heard the man yelling behind you.

“Oh, and tell that stinkin’ fart Ogata that I’m sorry for making fun of his nose. I mean, damn, it’s been a hundred years and he’s still holding a grudge!”

---

Ah, back in the mountain fortress. The sun’s set outside, and now it was just about time to get ready for dinner. What to do now?

[] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[] Go directly to the canteen, you didn’t really eat anything for lunch, and you don’t want to be the last in line for food.
[] Wander around the tunnels. There’s still a while before they start serving food.
>> No. 8675
[] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
>> No. 8676
[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
>> No. 8677
[] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8678
[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[x] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8683
[x] Ask Ami, idly, if she can change into a human, too.
[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[x] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8684
[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[x] Go directly to the canteen, you didn’t really eat anything for lunch, and you don’t want to be the last in line for food.
[x] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8688
[X] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[X] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8689
[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[x] Go to the canteen afterwards, you didn’t really eat anything for lunch, and you don’t want to be the last in line for food.
[x] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8690
>“The white wolf tengu aren’t really wolves. The tengu are spiritual creatures, they’re different from beast youkai like us. They resemble us and they’s got a spiritual connection to us that gives ‘em empathy, but that’s ‘bout it.” He said, absentmindedly scratching his neck. “But we’re indebted to ‘em, so we ser- I mean, we assist ‘em with their patrols around the mountain. Not that there’s been anything to watch out for lately, mind ya. Not a lotta humans come out here, most of ‘em ain’t stupid enough to go through places with names like the Great Youkai Forest to hike up the Youkai Mountain.”

WHITE WOLF TENGU COME
TAKE'UM LAND

[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[x] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
>> No. 8691
[] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.

Suddenly, hygiene.
>> No. 8693
[x] Go take a bath. You didn’t take one yesterday.
[x] If you see Ogata, apologize for Rouga.
---

You continued along the hallways as you swept your fingers through your hair. Ewww…it felt all oily and unpleasant to touch. Time to take a bath: a soak in the hot water might do your tensed up muscles some good, after all. Wiping your hand on the hem of your hakama, you made the bath area your destination.

You arrived at the changing room, stripped yourself naked, and wrapped a towel around your waist as you entered the bathing area. The bathing area was large, as would be expected, considering there were at the least a thousand members of the tengu. A large wooden divider split the men’s bathing area from the women’s, neatly bisecting the natural hot spring.

Grabbing a bucket from the edge of the hot water, you filled it up and splashed the water on yourself steadily, not wanting to be scalded. Grabbing a bar of soap, you cleaned yourself, and rinsed yourself off once you were done. You cautiously dipped into the hot springs and sat down on the stone bench underwater, letting out a content sigh.

“Hey there, kid. Feelin’ better already?” a familiar voice came from beside you, and you quickly turned your head towards that direction.

“…Eh? Old ma- I mean, Professor Ogata? What are you doing here?”

“You blind, kid? I’m soakin’ up in hot water, what’s it look like I’m doin’?” He said irritably, leaning back his head on the rocks behind him. “Ahh….nothin’ quite beats a bottle of sake after a nice boil, eh? So I thought I’d take a dip in the springs ‘fore dinner.”

“…But you’re drinking a bottle right now,” you point out, looking at the half-empty bottle of sake beside his head. Ogata let out a loud laughter as he turned around and reached for the bottle, taking a sip from it.

“Hahaha, so I am, so I am!” He said, placing the bottle back where it was. “Well, a drink during a bath can be good too, eh?”

You gave no answer, instead turning your gaze to the open air of the sky above. You smiled as you gazed at the faint light the moon gave off, as well as the bright North Star that had become visible in this young darkness. It was so nice to relax in the hot springs when your body felt worn out. You could practically feel your whole body loosening…
“Professor Ogata, can I ask you something?”

“Huh? Whaddaya want to ask?”

“Do you know a youkai named Rouga? Um…I think it was Rouga Jouyama…says he’s the leader of the pack of white wolves at the base of the mountain.”

“Keh, how do you know about that punk?”

“One of the wolves led me to him when I was outside.”

“...Damn it, kid,” Ogata spat out, giving you a light slap upside the head. “I tell you to take the day off and you go outside again? Bah, whatever, it ain’t my health you’re wrecking.”

“Anyway, yeah I know that punk. He’s an arrogant, ungrateful little dog. Terrorized the human settlement back when the Gensokyo border wasn’t up: killin’ their cattle and attacking the ranchers. Petty stuff like that.”

“It ain’t no surprise the humans decided fight back when they were strong enough and started hunting down members of his clan in the area. Stupid little bastard was all rarin’ to attack the whole village by himself, so the white wolf tengu here decided to stop the suicidal idiot and placed him and the remainders of his kind under our protection.”

“He says he’s sorry about making fun of your nose.”

“Well he ain’t forgiven. He’s over six-hundred years old, could stand to act more his age.”

You shrugged; it can’t be helped if Ogata refused to accept the apology: nothing more you can do about that. So instead, you decided to just enjoy the hot springs for a little while longer.

---

“Hey Miki, Momi, what’re you guys doing there?” Miss Aya inquired. “..Oh, playing Go? It’s been a while since I had a game.”

Just after dinner, you and Miss Inubashiri decided to kill some time by continuing a game of Go from a few days before. With a single bead of sweat rolling down your brow, you picked up one of the black stones from the bowl, although you hadn’t quite decided where to place it. You were, admittedly, in a bad position. You glanced up from the board to steal a glance at Miss Inubashiri, who remained calm and collected.

“Hey, hey, Miki. Place it here,” Miss Aya sat down at the side of the board, pointing the tip of the fan at one of the points and advising you with an all too audible whisper. You caught Miss Inubashiri give a silent sigh. Well, hmm…

[] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.
[] Ignore her; you’re the one playing, after all.
[] Tell her to go away.
>> No. 8694
[] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.

Aya obasan
>> No. 8695
[] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.
>> No. 8696
[X] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.
Eh.
>> No. 8697
[x] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.

surprise me and win Mikio.
>> No. 8698
[x] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.
>> No. 8699
[x] Follow Miss Aya’s tip if you know what I mean.

Ayayayayaya.
>> No. 8700
[x] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.
>> No. 8714
[x] Follow Miss Aya’s tip.
---

With uncertainty, you held the stone over the position that Miss Aya had pointed out to you. You couldn’t really see the strategic benefit of this move, but she’s probably played this game a lot longer than you, so you may as well follow her advice for now. You set down the stone after a moment of hesitation.

Miss Inubashiri observed the board for a moment before reaching out and taking hold of a white stone, placing it on the board. As you contemplated your next move, Miss Aya gave a sharp poke to your side with her fan.

“Miki, put the next one here,” she said with a frown, pointing at another part of the board. With a resigned sigh, you complied, setting a black stone down where she had told you to.



You went from playing the game to observing it. How in the world did that happen? Oh, right, you kept on doing what Miss Aya told you to until she outright kicked you out of your seat and took over your place.

As you sat at the side of the board with a bit of a sulking look on your face, Miss Inubashiri offered you a look of sympathy, but didn’t dare to speak up against it. Miss Aya, on the other hand, seemed completely oblivious as to why you looked upset.

So you just sat there watching the rest of the round with an expression of dissatisfaction, up until Miss Aya became bored of the inconclusive round and she and Miss Inubashiri decided to wrap it up for the day. After that, you felt tired, so you went straight to your futon and dived underneath your blanket. Almost as soon as you closed your eyes, you fell into slumber.

---

The next few weeks after that passed by in relative peace. Your training in flight continued…actually, it was more like just about finished. After that mishap in the Great Youkai Forest, your skills in flight had improved considerably. It might have been that during your escape from the youkai, you’d inadvertently made a lot of progress out of a desperate necessity. Whatever it was, things became much easier from that point on, and although you weren’t nearly as fast as any of the tengu, really, you could still fly competently enough.

After that would be the combat training, something you’d been both dreading and looking forward to. On one hand, it would be exciting to learn how to utilize your spiritual energy to fight, on the other, your practice opponents didn’t really seem to be the best at pulling their punches, as you’d learned during your sword training.

Well, no need to worry about that for now, since there was a week or so of free time that Ogata had given you. You wonder why the old man would give you a break: he hates wasting time, so you’d have expected him to start the combat training at once, but…

---

“…What’s this?” you ask with a disgusted expression, looking at the thing that Miss Aya was holding out to you.

“It’s a mask. Put it on.”

The “mask” that she was giving you was only big enough to cover the top half of your face. It was ivory white with wide slits for eyes and an elongated beak, covering the wearer’s nose. Straps on the back would secure it on their head. You took it into your hands, running your fingers across the smooth surface of the mask.

“...I’m not wearing this,” you said, frowning as you let the mask dangle from your hand by its straps. “Why would you want me to put it on?”

“Because Master Ogata said you can’t accompany me without you wearing it.”

“The old man gave the ma- wait, what? Accompany you? Where?”

“He also told me to take you along the next time I went looking around for scoops. Something about wanting to make you see the world of Gensokyo. But we can’t have anyone finding out we have a human with us, so he told me to hand you that mask.”

“How’s a mask going to help?”

“Well, most wild youkai and humans out there can’t tell the difference between each other just by looking. Only the really spiritually sensitive ones can tell from proximity, like us tengu. He says the mask has a charm on it that, well, “masks” your spiritual presence. So you’ll have to wear it, like it or not.”

…Seriously? Looks like a regular dinky old bone mask to you. Regardless, you placed it on your face, tying the straps to the back of your head. There was enough space in the beak of the mask to not restrict breathing, and those slits for eyes, surprisingly enough, didn’t obscure your sight too much. It smells kind of funny, though…

“Anyway, Mikio, as long as you’re coming with me,” Miss Aya continued, shoving her camera into your chest. You took hold of it and examined it. It was a new model Miss Aya had purchased from the kappa: apparently it could capture color as well now. “Now, remember, Mikio. This thing cost a lot of money, see. Keep it out of harm’s way, even if you have to risk your life!”

It sure was reassuring to know that she valued the camera over you. Oh well, what could be so dangerous about photographing and interviewing a few people, right? Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, it’s not as if anyone would attack you for it.



A few minutes later, the two of you had taken to the skies, soaring through the air. Miss Aya was leaving you behind by an increasingly large margin, so you had to cup your hands around your mouth to yell at her to slow down.

“Geeze, Miki, fly faster! Can’t waste the day!” she yelled back, reducing her pace just enough so you could catch up. Seriously, lady, you could stand to take things more slowly.

She came to an abrupt stop in the air, and you slowed down to halt near her, looking down at the scenery below. Wow, it certainly was impressive from this height. This was the first time you were so far from the mountain. Of course, the sight at the top of the mountain was striking, but this was different. It was…grand to be closer to the numerous forests and plains of grass below you.

“Hey, Miki, snap out of it,” Miss Aya’s voice shook you from your short reverie, as you turned to face her. She gave you a broad smile, placing a hand on the back of your head and messing up your hair. “It’s really something, isn’t it?” You nodded.

“Anyway, I have two places in mind right now, actually. Rumors of two newcomers in Gensokyo have surfaced. There’s supposedly another witch that appeared from nowhere living in the Forest of Magic, and a mansion that appeared near the Misty Lake.” She said, flipping through the pages of her handy notebook.

“I sent a few scouts, and they confirmed that there seems to be a neat looking little house in the Forest of Magic, and the stuff about the mansion was true. So I thought I’d swing by them and do an article on the inhabitants.”

“…Um, wouldn’t taking pictures and bothering them be harassment?”

“Nah, nothing of the sort. We’re just welcoming them to Gensokyo, Miki.” She said, snapping the notebook shut. “And since it’s your first time going anywhere beyond the Misty Lake, I’ll let you choose where to go first.”

How nice of her.

[] The Forest of Magic.
[] The mansion at Misty Lake.
>> No. 8715
[x] The Forest of Magic.
>> No. 8716
{X} The Forest of Magic.
>> No. 8717
[x] The Forest of Magic.
>> No. 8718
[x] The Forest of Magic.

This might be the safer option.
>> No. 8719
[x] The mansion at Misty Lake.

Corrupting Mikio, get.
>> No. 8721
[x] The Forest of Magic.

I always liked the Forest, myself.
>> No. 8722
[] The mansion at Misty Lake.

Time for revenge.
>> No. 8723
[] The Forest of Magic.
>> No. 8724
[x] The Forest of Magic.

lake bad.
>> No. 8725
[X] The Forest of Magic.

Never enough Alice.
>> No. 8726
[x] The Forest of Magic.

In before Alice.
>> No. 8727
[] The mansion at Misty Lake.

pushin' against the tide here ...
>> No. 8728
[X] The Forest of Magic.
I can't imagine what good visiting SDM would do to us. But then again, it might not do anything bad either. Oh well.

>He says the mask has a charm on it that, well, “masks” your spiritual presence.
Suppress your power-level!
>> No. 8729
[x] The Forest of Magic.
>> No. 8730
>>8718

Considering that the Fores of Magic has plenty of youkai living in it (like, wriggle, mystia, and maybe rumia) it the most dangerous one, since the lake only has cirno and maybe rumia.
>> No. 8731
>Considering that the Fores of Magic has plenty of youkai living in it (like, wriggle, mystia, and maybe rumia) it the most dangerous one, since the lake only has cirno and maybe rumia.

Flandre
>> No. 8732
[x] The Forest of Magic.
A new story? Man i sure should check /youkai/ more than once a month.
>> No. 8733
[x] The Forest of Magic.
---

“…The Forest of Magic, I guess,” you say with a shrug. You didn’t particularly care about where you went, but, well, you’re not really in a hurry to go near that lake again. Or any large bodies of water, for that matter.

“Alright, then, let’s hurry,” Miss Aya responded with a bright smile. While your enthusiasm at the moment couldn’t be compared to hers, you had to admit that you were interested in the world outside the mountain. What were other humans and youkai like, you wonder…

Barely able to suppress a growing grin, you soared through the skies as Miss Aya took off in a burst of speed. You did your best to keep at her trail, although the rate at which she traveled was a bit too overwhelming for you. She didn’t leave you too far behind, though, and often stopped to allow you to catch up, although she didn’t forget to chide you for your lack of speed each time…

“There, there’s the Forest of Magic!”

You nearly lost control of your flight as Miss Aya turned around abruptly and rushed back towards you, pointing behind her. You flailed your arms wildly, your entire body spinning out of control. She caught you in her arms, steadying you.

“Ah, geeze, what’s wrong with you, Miki?”

“Don’t turn around suddenly…!” you voiced your protest as you pushed away from her, feeling your face redden with a flush. “Sheesh, that really surprised me…”

“Ahahaha! Sorry, sorry. Anyway, I’ll call for some assistance to help me find the house, so just hold on for a moment.” Saying this, she brought her fingers to her mouth, letting out a sharp call that sounded like the cry of a crow. Almost at once, several crows rose from the trees below, gathering in a swarm around Miss Aya. She seemed to be saying something to them, although you couldn’t hear anything amidst all the flaps of wings and the caws. As quickly as they came, the crows dispersed back into the forest.

It only took a moment for the company of crows to return to Miss Aya, flocking around her with their cawing and their flapping, so noisy…Seems Miss Aya found the house, anyway, since she grabbed you by the wrist and pulled you along with her as she descended down to the trees.

Branches and leaves brushed by your body as Miss Aya led you below the trees and landed on the moist grass. In front of you was, what you assumed, a house. After all, you hadn’t seen any other home other than the huge mountain fortress. The walls were painted white, and it had a blue roof. There was also a bunch of…glass on the walls? What were they…? Well, in any case, it looked like quite the tidy home.

“Miki, take a shot of the house, will you? You know how to work a camera, right?” Well, you saw Miss Aya using it several times, although that was the older version, but it should work more or less the same.

“You just push this here, right? And anything you see on this little glass thing here is captured?” you said as you brought the camera hanging around your neck up to your right eye. It was a bit awkward pressing the camera to your eye with your mask on, but it wasn’t that much of a problem. You aimed at the house and took the picture with a satisfying click.

“Alright, then. Let’s go greet the new resident of the forest, shall we?” Miss Aya spoke as she started off towards the house. You gave a sigh before dropping the camera to let it dangle by its straps, following her with slow, reluctant steps.

Miss Aya stopped at what you assumed to be a door. It was strange, though. It didn’t seem to slide open, and instead of a handle, there was something…round there. She reached up her hand, knocking on the door. For a while, there was no answer, but as she raised her knuckles to knock on it again, the door opened, not to the side, but inward. That’s weird.

“Strange of you to suddenly start knocking, you-“ an irritated voice began to speak as a young girl peeked out of the gap of the door. She was about the same height as you were, maybe just a little bit taller. Her blonde hair reached down to her shoulders, and the top of her head was adorned with a blue ribbon. …She was also wearing strange clothes, nothing like the ones you’ve seen before. She was wearing a weird white shirt (?) underneath a simple blue dress, and was holding a large, black tome underneath one arm.

“Oh!” she let out a surprised squeal as she saw the two of you standing at the doorway, looking a little shocked. She opened the door fully, looking a little embarrassed, although she was quick to regain her composture. “Oh…hello. Pardon me, I didn’t think I’d get any visitors other than that girl…” she said politely as she cautiously examined her unexpected visitors. Her gaze particularly seemed to linger on your face, and you felt your ears heat up as you imagined how ridiculous you must look with that stupid mask on.

“Ah, that’s fine. No need to apologize,” Miss Aya said in a polite tone you never would have imagined from her. Well, it was a bit reassuring to know that she at least had some courtesy after all, though she rarely ever showed any to you. Actually, the only thing anyone ever respected about you was your ability to drink ten or more bottles of sake without passing out. Such was the life of a bottom-rung (hu)man on the social hierarchy.

“…So how may I help you?” The young girl asked. Miss Shameimaru wasted no time in pulling out her small notebook and pen, flipping open to a blank page within a matter of about two seconds.

“Ah, well, I was hoping you could lend a few minutes of your time to answer some questions.” Miss Aya responded in that same tone that almost unnerves you. It’s just not something you’d expect from her, to be honest, you expected her to be more…demanding.

“…Yes, of course. Come on in,” the young girl said after a moment of hesitation, retreating back into the house. Miss Aya stepped in with a smile, and you followed her inside. The inside of the house was as tidy as you’d expect from looking at its exterior. The walls were remarkably white and unblemished, you noticed. No one seemed to take off their shoes as they stepped inside, so you didn’t either.

As you walked in, you looked around the house with all the wonder of a small kid. On some of the furniture, dolls of varying details were laid out carefully. On the table, you spotted one of the dolls clutching a needle with both arms, sitting beside a half-completed elaborate looking dress. That’s adorable.

“Amazing, do all these dolls belong to you?” Miss Aya asked the question you’d been pondering yourself, and hearing this, the young girl gave a grin that looked just a little bit haughty.

“Yes, of course. I made all these by hand, and their clothes as well,” she said proudly, holding her nose high in the air. She must really be into dolls. The girl then walked over to a strange piece of furniture that resembled a ridiculously wide chair. She gestured towards another of these at her opposite side. “Have a seat.”

You followed Miss Aya’s lead as she sat down, seating yourself next to her. Huh, springy. Kind of comfortable as well. It felt strange, however: you were just too used to sitting on cushions and mats.

“…Well, I have a lot of questions, but…” Miss Aya began, her pen at the ready. “The first thing I’d have to ask would be your name, please.”

“Alice Margatroid, the Witch of Death,” she responded coolly. That’s…an unusual thing to call yourself… “And who might you two be?”

“Ah, I’m Shameimaru Aya, but you can just call me Aya, Miss Alice… I run the Bunbunmaru Newspaper, and I’m also its reporter.” Alice nodded, then looked at you. Waiting for you to introduce yourself, but…you felt a little…how to describe it, a little awkward? Maybe embarrassed? Whatever it was, you felt a bit uneasy and wanted to just keep quiet, but that would be kind of rude.

[] Force yourself to speak.
[] Just keep quiet. Miss Aya will take care of the introductions, anyway.
>> No. 8734
[x] Force yourself to speak.
>> No. 8735
[x] Force yourself to speak.
>> No. 8736
[] Force yourself to speak.
>> No. 8737
[x] Force yourself to speak.
>> No. 8738
[x] Just keep quiet. Miss Aya will take care of the introductions, anyway.
>> No. 8739
[X] Force yourself to speak.

I picture Mikio eventually going out without the mask, and subsequently awakening the motherly instincts of every grown woman he encounters. I also picture him as potentially being adorable enough in this situation to get Alice curious about him. Then again, I picture him as borderline shota.

I'm also picturing Momizi as being a possessive-mommy type who will step in and interfere with any relationships we form at some point on the grounds that "ragh, he's my little boy, get your own!"
>> No. 8741
>>8739

>I'm also picturing Momizi as being a possessive-mommy type who will step in and interfere with any relationships we form at some point on the grounds that "ragh, he's my little boy, get your own!"

Unless we decide to go for Momizi and it turns into some weird halfway Oedipus complex.
>> No. 8742
[x] Just keep quiet. Miss Aya will take care of the introductions, anyway.

The silent guardian.
>> No. 8743
{X} Force yourself to speak.
>> No. 8744
>>8739
He must look like Backbeard-tan's brother.

>>8741
A maternally confused yet aroused Momiji is weirdly appealing.
>> No. 8745
>>8744

We could even shorten Momiji to just Mom. That'll draw some looks.
>> No. 8747
>>8745
Momi sounds better.
>> No. 8749
>“Alice Margatroid, the Witch of Death,” she responded coolly. That’s…an unusual thing to call yourself… “And who might you two be?”

[x] Force yourself to speak.
[x] "Mikio Kirita, the Photographer of Death"
>> No. 8750
>>8749
Suddenly I'm having a lot of Goosebumps flashbacks.
>> No. 8751
[x] Just keep quiet. Miss Aya will take care of the introductions, anyway.
>> No. 8771
[x] Force yourself to speak.
[x] "Mikio Kirita, the Photographer of Death"

hahahaha
>> No. 8772
>Unless we decide to go for Momizi and it turns into some weird halfway Oedipus complex.
You say that like there'd be some kind of doubt about it.

[X] Force yourself to speak.
[X] "Mikio Kirita, the Photographer of Death"
>> No. 8774
[X] Force yourself to speak.
[X] "Mikio Kirita, the Photographer of Death"
>> No. 8775
Update tomorrow.
>> No. 8776
>8775
guess that means i'll go to sleep now.
>> No. 8789
>>8775

hooray!
>> No. 8793
[x] Force yourself to speak.
---

…Yeah, you were taught to respect others and be polite, right? So it won’t do to just keep silent the whole time, you might as well introduce yourself.

“..I…I’m Kirita Mikio,” you said with a small voice, nearly fumbling over your words as you spoke. Taking a deep breath, you opened your mouth to continue to talk. “I…I’m the…” You felt a growing lump in your throat, your voice dying out. …No way, you weren’t this pathetic, were you…? You shoot a glance towards Miss Aya, giving a pleading look for help. Miss Aya nodded, and then leaned over towards you, placing both hands on your shoulders.

“This is Miki, my assistant of sorts,” she said with a light smile on her face. You felt just a bit troubled when her smile broadened to a more mischievous grin, however. She pulled you closer, and then with a more excited tone of voice, continued to speak. “And he knows his way around a camera. Some call him the Photographer of Death!”

…What?

That…that doesn’t even make sense. And this is the first time you’ve been allowed to use her camera! You’ve only ever taken one picture! The only thing anyone knows you as was “that human kid that can out-drink almost every tengu”! You open your mouth to protest, but all that comes out of you was something half-way between a cough and a gurgle

“He’s a little shy,” Miss Aya added with a sly wink at you, and you felt your entire face growing hot with embarrassment. Miss Alice, on the other hand, seemed quite interested.

“Oh, is that a camera? I didn’t think they had any of those things here!” she said, leaning closer towards you to get a better look at the device hanging from your neck. …Huh? Wasn’t the camera a unique item made for the tengu? You want to ask, but you still couldn’t seem to speak. Not just that, but you feel kind of…dizzy for some reason. You pushed yourself farther from Miss Aya as her hands released your shoulders from their grip, leaning back on the “chair.”

“Oh? You know what it is? That’s quite unexpected,” Miss Aya said with a genuinely surprised look on her face, leaning a little closer to Miss Alice, on the edge of her seat. “Well, I suppose now that the introductions are done and over with, we could get right to the interview…?” Miss Aya smiled expectantly, raising her notebook a little higher, her pen at the ready.

“Yes, I suppose so, but first…” Miss Alice stood up from her seat, and as she walked towards the kitchen, made strange movements with her fingers. The doll sitting at the table snapped to attention, gently lowering the needle in its arms to the table. It then flew up towards Miss Alice, accompanying her to another room. When they reemerged, the small doll was carrying a tray with three beautifully decorated cups and a teapot.

As she returned, she made yet more movements with her hand, her fingers dancing along the air. A second doll appeared at her side, and as the girl sat back down at her seat, the doll picked up the teapot and poured tea in each of the cups. The other doll offered the tray towards you, and the two of you graciously accepted the cups.

“Thank you,” Miss Aya said as she took her cup by its handle. You gave a silent bow to show your gratitude as well. Bringing it up to your lips, you took a gulp. Whoa, that’s bitter. And hot: nearly singed your tongue there. Still, bitter tea had this kind of growing taste…Miss Aya set her tea down on the small table placed between the two “chairs.”

“So, let’s begin, then,” she said, raising her pen. “First of all, “that girl” you mentioned earlier, might it be the “other” witch of the Forest?”

“…Yes, that is who I was referring to.”

“So I take it she visits very often?”

“I’m afraid so. Sometimes she just barges in and demands to study some of the tomes of sorcery I brought with me, as if they belonged to her.”

“So do you consider her your friend? Colleague? A bitter rival, perhaps?”

“She’s a neighbor. That’s all there is to it. I don’t engage in things as petty as “rivalry,” and besides, her magic is crude and lacks refinement. Honestly, using unstable ingredients like magical mushrooms…”

Miss Aya jotted down several notes on the pages as they spoke, and you simply stayed quiet, occasionally taking a sip of your tea.

“…By the way, that was magical puppetry you were using earlier, I believe?”

“Of course. It’s gotten much easier to control them using magic after I began the process of Shashoku.”

“Oh? I know about that. I see, so you’re undergoing transformation at the moment, correct? It seems your body’s been maturing much faster than the normal rate for humans. I don’t think there’s been a case of a human fully completing that procedure for a while now. And, well, the one sorceress I do know that completed it doesn’t exactly seem to have everything correctly in her head.”

…What were they talking about? Faster growth? Shashoku? Was this girl a human or a youkai?

The interview continued on for a while. Most of the things asked were pretty trivial things, really. The only important question that came up was where Miss Alice had been living prior to moving to the Forest of Magic. Strangely enough, she seemed to be a little reluctant to answer, and instead kept dodging the question, despite Miss Aya’s fervent attempts to get her to respond. Eventually, she gave up on the question.

“Excuse us for a bit,” Miss Aya said, clearly disappointed as she motioned for you to stand up with her. You followed her out of the house, where she turned around a grabbed you by the shoulders, whispering into your ear.

“Miki, I’m going to go ask the other witch about that girl, so you stay here and take a picture of her if you can, okay? Preferably outside her house.” By the time you were ready to respond, however, she had already taken off, leaving you feeling dumbstruck.

With heavy steps, you walked back into the house. Miss Alice was sitting at her work table, apparently focusing intently as a small doll beside her worked a needle on the incomplete dress. She didn’t even seem to notice that you were back.

[] Ask to take her picture.
[] Just…stand there and watch her work.
[] Go back outside.
>> No. 8795
[x] Ask to take her picture.

Then we turn it in to Professor Oak.
>> No. 8797
[] Just…stand there and watch her work.
[] ...
[] ...Ah! Ask to take her picture.

Then Mikio will get flustered and moe.
>> No. 8799
[] Ask to take her picture.
>> No. 8801
[x] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[x] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house.

Dynamic photography. You don't want her to become self-conscious and not be able to operate it doll. And if she didn't want a photo taken of her unawares, she'll sure to take up the offer of the second shot so as to make sure the bad one isn't the only one published.
>> No. 8802
[x] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[x] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house.
>> No. 8803
[x] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[x] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house
>> No. 8805
[X] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[X] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house.
>> No. 8806
[x] Just…stand there and watch her work.
[x] ...
[x] ...Ah! Ask to take her picture.
>> No. 8808
[X] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[X] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house.
>> No. 8809
>"... And, well, the one sorceress I do know that completed it doesn’t exactly seem to have everything correctly in her head."
I wonder who this is~

[x] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[x] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house.
>> No. 8810
[x] Ask to take her picture.
>> No. 8816
>>8795
Oh snap!

[X] Ask to take her picture.
>> No. 8828
Update will be tomorrow.
>> No. 8829
>>8828

hooray!
>> No. 8832
>>8816
>Oh snap!
Mo' like Oh u.
>> No. 8834
[X] Take a picture. Try to get her and the doll working in the same shot.
[X] Ask to take another, a "group shot"--her and her dolls pose outside against the house.
---

Might as well get this over with. You grasped for your camera as you walked a little closer to the girl, although you still kept your distance. Whoops, your hands are a little slippery, better be more careful or-

“Ah!” you let out a little gasp as you accidentally hit the shutter of the camera whilst fumbling for it, which let out mechanical snaps as it took a shot of the scene in front of you.

“You should ask someone for their permission before you take their picture, you know.” Miss Alice spoke without looking at you, still tending to her dress using the doll at her command.

“Ah…I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to…um, sorry,” you stammered out, taking a step back with your camera firmly gripped in your hands as you lowered your head. Miss Alice looked up from her table to give you a brief glance-over, with an expression that seemed half-way between apathy and pity, before returning to work. Not exactly one for conversations, but at the moment, you weren’t any better anyway.

“..Um..! Mi-Miss Alice?” It took you a while to work up the courage to say something, but you finally managed it, moving just a step closer to the girl, still holding on to your camera.

“…Yes?” Again, she spoke without even bothering to look at you, looking back and forth between her dress and a book as the doll beside her worked its needle with fervor. Taking a deep breath, you continued to speak in a voice just barely audible to her.

“Can I…may I take a picture of you? Um, Miss Aya told me to get a picture of you outside...oh and it might be nice if you could have your dolls in there too, so…” you trailed off, fidgeting a bit. That lump in your throat was back again. Maybe you just aren’t good at dealing with people other than the residents of the mountain. You also still weren’t sure if this young woman was a youkai or a human. From what you heard earlier with Miss Aya, you would guess that she was a youkai, but…

“Alright, then.” The doll dropped its needle as it floated into the air, as Miss Alice stood from her seat to turn towards you. “…I’d refuse, I don’t much like publicity, but you’ll be in trouble with that noisy woman if I did that, won’t you?” You kept silent at this. Well, it’s not like Miss Aya would punish you for not getting a picture (or would she? You might not want to know…), but if what Miss Alice thinks is going to get her to accept…

Wordlessly, you walked out of the house with Miss Alice behind you. Turning around, you held the camera up to your eye as the girl stepped out from the house, still holding that black tome beneath her arm while the doll floated at her side.

“Um…cheese…!” you sang out. Well, she didn’t say cheese back, but she did put on a barely noticeable smile, so you proceeded to go ahead and take the picture. Letting out a sigh of relief, you dropped the camera, the strap at the back of your neck digging into your flesh as you allowed the camera to dangle down.

“…So did that reporter woman just leave you here?”

“…I...guess so,” you said with uncertainty. Well, you didn’t know the way to the house of the other witch, so you couldn’t exactly go to her right now. “…She’ll come back…I think.”

“Well, wait inside, then. Have another cup of tea.”

“Ah, um…thank you…”

…Well, maybe you’re getting better at this after all. That horrid sensation in your throat has loosened up a bit. And anyway, there was nothing to do but wait for Miss Aya to return, so you accepted her invitation of hospitality. Sinking back down where you were sitting earlier, you gave a slight bow as Miss Alice filled up your cup with warm tea before returning to her worktable.

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The sound of the nearby clock was all that could be heard as you continued to wait patiently at your seat, occasionally over at the girl, still focused intently on a book while her doll continued to work. You feel brave enough to start a conversation, and there’s a lot of things you want to know about…

[] Talk to her about…
---[] Human or youkai?
---[] Her dolls.
---[] The dress.
---[] Write-in.
[] Don’t bother her. Just wait quietly.
>> No. 8836
[] Talk to her about…
---[] Her dolls.
---[] The dress.
>> No. 8837
[] Talk to her about…
---[] Her dolls.
---[] The dress.

Her dress is sexy
>> No. 8838
[x] Talk to her about…
---[x] Her dolls.
---[x] The dress.
>> No. 8839
[X] Dont bother Alice
[X] Watch the doll work

Shanghai~
>> No. 8840
[x] Talk to her about…
---[x] Human or youkai?
---[x] Her dolls.
---[x] The dress.
>> No. 8841
[X] Talk to her about…
---[X] Her dolls.
---[x] The dress.
>> No. 8842
[] Talk to her about…
---[] Her dolls.
>> No. 8843
[x] Don’t bother her. Just wait quietly.
>> No. 8848
Tell me this isn't Aya's heavy-handed way of trying to set Miki up with a girlfriend.
>> No. 8849
[x] Talk to her about…
---[x] Her dolls.
---[x] The dress.
---

Looking around the room, you took a closer examination of the various dolls sitting in many different places. They were definitely well-made: the girl had obviously paid a lot of attention to the details on their face as well as their clothes. There seemed to be a lot of different types of dolls. There were some dressed in a weird uniform you’d never seen before, others were garbed in matching dresses of many assorted color schemes.

But the one that was probably the most impressive was probably the small doll accompanying her. It was clear that it was most likely the girl’s personal favorite as well, given the level of detail and attention that apparently given to it by her. You watched for a bit as the doll moved –almost mechanically, with stiff motions, as it weaved its needle in and out of the dress.

“Do you name your dolls…?” you decided to ask as you brought your cup of tea to your lips, taking a sip from it. You weren’t really all that interested, to be honest, but the silence was a little bit too unnerving for you.

“…Yes.” She said concisely, not taking her eyes off the book she was poring over, even as she was talking to you. “This one’s name is Shanghai,” she continued, indicating to the doll next to her. Shanghai took one hand off of the needle it was holding, turning towards you and giving you a wave. You waved back, feeling just a little silly.

“And Orleans, France, Kyoto, London, Russia…” the girl listed off, waving one hand in the air. At that same moment, the dolls around the room began to float into the air, giving a little twirling dance before landing back in their original places. There had to be at least a dozen of them moving at once. Impressed, you decided to give a bit of applause.

“Wow. That’s really neat,” you said, smiling in spite of your earlier awkwardness. “Do you really control all of them by yourself?”

“…That’s right. The ability to manipulate dolls using threads of magic is my specialty,” she said, finally turning to you to speak. You couldn’t really read her expression, though, which made it hard to figure out if you were annoying her or if she didn’t mind talking to you. “Ah, and I’m also interested in collecting dolls with a history behind them. Most of my dolls are just normal, handmade ones. Well, except this one…”

The doll named Shanghai looked up at its master as she said this, and Miss Alice took it into her arms, embracing it close to herself while closing her eyes. She looked…almost longing for something. As Miss Alice let go of the doll and opened her eyes, she seemed to remember that you were in the room as well, quickly turning back to work when she laid her eyes on you. You (probably wisely) decided not to pursue the topic any further.

But still, Miss Aya sure was taking a while. According to the clock, she had been gone for at least half an hour by now. Just how long was she planning to take to track down a witch? You’re practically drowning in the uncomfortable silence here.

As you finished off the last of your cup and set it down on the table in front of you, it seemed Miss Alice had also finished the final touches on her dress as well, holding it in front of her. A blue dress of a style you’ve only seen once before, with frilled ribbons running down the edge of the skirt. It certainly looked very...fancy.

“That looks really nice,” you praised, leaning a little closer for a better look at the dress.

“…Hm, but this is really more of a design for a dress, though. I think it’s a little too elaborate, actually.” Miss Alice said with an off-hand tone. “It needs to be a little simpler.” Well, a dress like that did look a little hard to move around much in, after all.

A knock on the door grabbed the attention of both of you.

“I’ll get it,” you said, quickly rising to your feet as Miss Alice placed the completed dress back on her worktable. “It must be Miss Aya.” You began a stride to the door, reaching out to open the door handle when…

“Alice! I’ve arrived!” The door suddenly flung open, and you barely managed to stop yourself in time to not get hit in the face. Standing at the doorway was a girl, shorter than even you, wearing a wide brimmed, pointed hat and a bright expression. This must be the other wi-

“What the? Who the heck are you? Are you a burglar?! Here for my books, I’ll bet!” Huh? What? Why are you being accused of theft? And in the first place, isn’t this Miss Alice’s house? Well in retrospective, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to answer the door of someone else’s house but- “Eat this!” She raised her hand up at your face, and before you had a chance to do or say anything…

“Marisa? What are yo- wait, don’t!” You hear Miss Alice’s voice behind you as a colorful, star shaped blast slammed right into your face. A shocking sensation runs through your body, and the force of the blast is great enough to knock you right off your feet, as well as sweep the mask clear from your face. The back of your skull slams right into the ground, and you hear the mask clattering beside your head.

Shouting. Someone leans over you. Oh, Miss Aya. Hello Miss Aya, when did you get here? You want to get up from the ground, but you can’t seem to stop your eyes from closing, much less move around. There’s a sweet taste in your mouth. Tasty stars

And then the world grows dim. Who turned off the lights?

---

END OF CHAPTER 2

---

There was no wind in this place.

There was no sky, either. The world above was of infinite nothing.

There was only the darkness behind you.

And the ground that you stood on.

Splitting into two roads.

Which way will you go?

[] Right. A life amidst hardship.
[] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8851
[X] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8852
[X] Center, path of balance, the unseen third choice.
>> No. 8853
[x] Right. A life amidst hardship.
>> No. 8854
[X] Right. A life amidst hardship.
>> No. 8855
[x] Center, path of balance, the unseen third choice.
>> No. 8858
Mikio does not stay in good health very long, be it illness or attacked.
>> No. 8860
[x] Center, path of balance, the unseen third choice.
>> No. 8861
[x] Center, path of balance, the unseen third choice.
---

You don't like either paths. For some reason, you feel a strong aversion to them. You want to stay away from what they would lead to.

Can you go between them?

No. Your feet seem to be bound to only the road. Your body refuses to move beyond the boundary of the paths set for you.

But there really was a third path, now that you think about it. It was the one you were standing on. The path leading to the void behind you.

There was no telling what would happen if you were to follow that path.

[] Into the darkness.
[] Left.
[] Right.
>> No. 8862
[X] Into the darkness.
Boldly into where no Mikio has gone before.~
>> No. 8863
[X] Into the darkness.
>> No. 8864
[x] Into the darkness.

Into the unknown!
>> No. 8865
[x] Right.

Ah shit.
>> No. 8866
[X] Left.
>> No. 8867
[] Left. A small, momentary happiness.

If my hunch is right, this will lead us back to Sanae.
>> No. 8868
[X] Left.
>> No. 8870
{X} Into the darkness.

Whee.
>> No. 8871
[X] Left.
>> No. 8872
[x] Into the darkness.
---

You turn around, facing that void. The Great Unknown that stood behind you, taunting you with its mere presence. With slow, heavy steps, you began dragging yourself towards it. Your body doesn’t feel very responsive at all, but you ignore that and continue on towards that place.

And as you approach it, you’re swallowed up into its cold embrace. Everything disappears. It all returns to nothing. The world, the ground, the non-existent sky. And even you. Falling, falling, and falling into darkness.


....


You can’t see anything anymore. But even so, you know. You’re surrounded by red. Red red red red red red red. The dark color of blood. Blood is everywhere. Why is everything red? Why is everything bleeding? You don’t know. You don’t care. Maybe someone painted the whole world red with blood.

You can’t move. Why is that? You can’t see anything. There’s something holding back your arm. Something fiercely wrapped around your body. Something something something just stops you from moving. You want to move. You want to break free. Break apart these chains holding you.

Pain. It’s different from the kind of pain you know. It isn’t the pain of a blade cutting your flesh or bludgeoning your head. It’s a pain more akin to hunger. You wish it would go away. But the pain just becomes stronger. It hurts. It hurts. Somebody stop it. Someone please stop the hurting.

You can’t hear anyone. There’s no one around. No one to help you. No one to free you. No one to stop your pain. Alone. Completely alone. No. That wasn’t right. You weren’t alone. The pain. The agony. They were your only companions. They were the only ones who were around. You can’t trust anything else. Nothing else has been as constant as they.

Your body. A thousand needles penetrate it. It hurts, but it doesn’t. Something like this means nothing. Absolutely nothing. But. Your companions are leaving you. Stop it. Don’t go. Don’t leave. Stay. Stay with me. Your pleas do nothing. They’re gone.

You can see again. But you can’t see yourself. Just the red, red world. There’s only one thing that isn’t red. Smiling, you wonder why the night sky looks so gorgeous amidst all the blood. Ah, the full moon is smiling at you. The beautiful, pale shine of moonlight.

So.

Under the moon.

Your mind breaks.



--> Back one choice.

[] Right. A life amidst hardship.
[] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8873
[] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8874
[] Left. A small, momentary happiness.

... yeah
>> No. 8875
[x] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8877
[] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8878
[x] Right. A life amidst hardship.

Nice bad-end. You should use it as the default update every time anon does something completely retarded, like genuflecting.
>> No. 8879
[x] Left. A small, momentary happiness.

The kind of happiness worth fighting for.
>> No. 8880
[x] Right. A life amidst hardship.

you're awesome man. even your bad ends are epic.
>> No. 8881
[x] Left. A small, momentary happiness.

Damn. It's like Yume Nikki, the novel.
>> No. 8883
[x] Right. A life amidst hardship.
>> No. 8884
[X] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
>> No. 8885
[x] Right. A life amidst hardship.
>> No. 8886
[x] Left. A small, momentary happiness.
---

So you take a step forward. Towards that light that was waiting for you at the end of the path.

You feel warmth in your body. It feels so comfortable. It feels so nice.

But it’s a dream that lasts only an instant. A small miracle that will, without a doubt, reach a sudden end.

………

Ah geez. It’s so cold. It’s cold enough to freeze seven layers of Hell at once. And you’re wearing your jacket, too. You raise your numbed hands to your mouth, breathing on them just to be able to feel them again.

Your feet make a funny little squeak each time the soles of your sneakers dig into the thick layer of snow beneath you, as you trudged on. It sure snowed a lot last night. There had to be at least three inches of snow piled up on the ground.

Picking up your dropped shovel, you gripped the cold wooden tightly. You hated working with this thing: damn shovel nearly gave you blisters on your hands. But still, snow had to be shoveled out of the driveway. You’re getting paid for this, so you only half-heartedly complained about working conditions.

Scooping up another pile of snow, you carried it over to a large pile of dumped snow, tilting the blade to rid the shovel of its load. But damn it, you never expected snow-shoveling to be such hard work. Your back aches, and you feel more than just a little out of breath. How long was this going to take? You had been at this for at least an hour by now, according to your watch, at least.

Turns out it would take another thirty minutes to clear the rest of the snow up. Your heart feels like it’s going to burst. No wonder old folks don’t do this often. It could quite literally kill them. Placing the snow-shovel back in the tool shed after catching your breath, you trudged on towards the door of the house next to it and knocked on it. An elderly, kind looking man appeared at the door step, dressed in a sweater.

“All done?” He asked, and you gave a nod. Smiling, he reached into his pocket, retrieving a wallet. Opening it, he handed you three thousand-yen notes. “Thanks a lot, boy. You have no idea how much trouble it would have been for me.”

“No problem,” you replied, stuffing the money into your pocket as you gave a light bow to the man as he closed the door. Three-thousand yen wasn’t too bad for that, you think as you walked out into the road. Checking your watch, you see that it’s about 1:42 PM. Still plenty of daytime left.

The town is decorated with various colorful lights, as well as many star adorned trees in the yards of houses and in the lobbies of apartments. Well, Christmas was only a few days away, so that was to be expected. Christmas, huh? You never really saw the point in celebrating some dead guy’s birthday, but the holiday spirit was more than a little infectious, so you couldn’t help but feel a little more energetic as the sounds of Christmas carols bleared out from nearby shops.

You wonder if Sanae is still at the shrine. Usually, she stays at home, but occasionally she does go to the shopping district in the afternoon.

[] Head back to the shrine.
[] Walk around the shopping district.
>> No. 8887
[x] Walk around the shopping district.
>> No. 8889
[x] Walk around the shopping district.
>> No. 8890
{X} Walk around the shooping district.
>> No. 8891
[] Walk around the shopping district.
>> No. 8893
[x] Walk around the shopping district.

walkan gaems
>> No. 8894
[] Walk around the shopping district.
>> No. 8896
[x] Walk around the shopping district.
[x] Present for Sanae.
>> No. 8900
[x] Walk around the shopping district.
And then we run into Ilya Suwako.
>> No. 8902
[x] Walk around the shopping district.
[x] Present for Sanae.

I like.
>> No. 8904
[] Head back to the shrine.
>> No. 8905
[x] Walk around the shopping district.
[x] Buy an frog hairclip for Sanae.

See what i did there?
>> No. 8907
>>8905

>[x] Buy an frog hairclip for Sanae.

>an frog

I see that you violated the rules of English grammar.
>> No. 8908
[x] Walk around the shooping district.
>> No. 8910
>>8907

Forgot to erase the (n) after putting (frog) in front of (hairclip). Common typo is common
>> No. 8913
>>8910
...except 'hairclip' doesn't get to use 'an' either.
>> No. 8914
>>8913
Huh? you're sure? Use (an) before the unsounded (h) seem correct to me, or maybe the (h) of hairclip is sounded? Then again, I still learning English so yeah!

Is all good If I stand corrected, since I learn something new today.
>> No. 8915
>>8914
You're right about using "an" before a vowel sound with a silent h, but "hair" doesn't have a silent h. If it did, it'd sound the same as "air", after all.
>> No. 8919
[x] Become an heroclip for Sanae
>> No. 10280
>>8915

The 'h' is only silent with the 'an'. 'Historical' doesn't have a silent 'h' but 'an historical' does.

And there is precedent for the use of 'hair' with an 'an'. This one from the King James Bible:

"And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite."