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[x] “...Still, as a courier you should just run past her, you’re not getting paid to fight.”
- [x] "But if push comes to shove, a spell card fight is how things are done in Gensokyo" explain the rules.

“I can crawl along these caves faster than you can run, you know!” Yamame calls out, “I didn’t do it this time, but I can also set up my webs to slow you down if I want to! There’s also diseases…actually, you don’t need to know about that.”

“Well, fight it is then.” You shrug, “Ian, want me to explain the spell card rules for you?”

“Please do so.” He’s already shuffled off the pack and is settling into a battle stance. He’s not manifesting his sword though, strange.

“Rule number one of a spell card fight, you must give names and meanings to your attack sequences that you will use as a sort of…video game boss pattern? That’s the best comparison I can make. For us, these attack sequences are usually patterns of magical bullets, but I expect outsiders to have their own techniques. However…technically you don’t have to do this if you’re okay with being on the defensive the whole fight.”

“I have some names for my attacks, and they are far more unsightly than patterns of magical bullets, but they can deal with airborne opponents.”

With a deep inhale, he furrows his brow as his arms melt away into a stream of black ink, before swiftly reforming into something significantly more threatening. Something metallic, and colored ivory and gold. You clap as the massive claws emerge from the ink, bound to his normal body by chains.

“Now that is a dueling worthy apparatus for a human!” You praise, “You’ll fit right in here in Gensokyo.”

“What.” Again, that weird typewriter effect is echoing like a bass line in his voice, “You don’t find this…hideous?”

“Why would I? There’s a monk up on the surface who controls a ‘nyuudou’, which is a massive cloud giant’s head and arms, and probably fights the same way as you with giant hands. And Yamame, mind showing him your lower body?”

With a grin, the earth spider leaps upward to the cave ceiling. Her bulb-like dress distends and distorts as her human legs disappear. Then, all at once, six hairy brown arthropod limbs sprout out from under the skirt. She extends her body forward as her rear becomes the abdomen of a wagon-sized spider.

“See, your transformation is tame compared to what the average youkai can do.” You say to reassure Yan. This boy’s got some serious self-image issues, though at this point you are sure that’s the least of his problems if he thought coming to a stranger’s home in the equivalent of the Feywild (thanks Baldur’s Gate for giving you that analogy) was a good idea. “Just don’t go waving those sharp claws around, that’s looking for trouble.”

“Ah…” He’s staring at Yamame. “That seems similar to…no, this is the real deal, not an imitation.” Raising the claws up in front of him, Yan gets on the balls of his feet. “Let us get started then, now that we’re both ready.”

“In that case, I shall begin the duel!” Yamame shouts as she flies onto the cave ceiling and clings there, “Spider - ‘Cave Spider’s Nest’!”

It’s a card you’re quite familiar with, having fought with Yamame on and off during your tenure down here in Former Hell. For a human who’s never seen it, or any danmaku before…

“HOLY SHIT!” Yan exclaims, utterly losing all composure for a moment as he sees the elaborate web-shaped pattern of bullets fly all around, many of them aimed towards him. His speed is enough to just barely manage dodging the first wave, but as per usual Yamame’s second wall of bullets overlaps with the first one, and he is promptly nailed by at least a dozen of them.

Knocked back, he draws the claws back towards himself, covering his whole body and blocking the bullets.

"Using the difficult version of your spell card, eh, Yamame?" You call out.

"Just making sure the kid is up to snuff. If he can take this much danmaku to the chin then he can take physical harassment from fairies with no issue!” Yamame replies between sending waves of bullets at the boy.

You watch as Yan stumbles back into the cave wall, his claws clasped around like well, claws clasping around a small object, like an egg or something.

“Ian! Rule Two! Danmaku attacks all come in elaborate patterns! You don’t have to dodge all of them as a human who cannot fly, so it should be possible. There!” You point to the gaps in Yamame’s bullet pattern, which you’ve seen over a hundred iterations of. “You can stand there to avoid the worst of it.”

“As you order!” He leaps over to the safe zone, where bullet density is low enough that he can afford to free one of his claws. Curled up into a fist, it is hurled towards Yamame in a straight punch.

She dodges it with ease. “Too slow!”

“Miss Parsee, any other…”

“Make sure you keep an eye on your pack while you’re fighting!” Horosha interjects with a warning, while Yamame eases up her attack so the boy can hear, “The enemy may have an accomplice, or will try to overwhelm you with attacks before running off with it.”

“That…wouldn’t be an issue.”

You raise your brows as he sends one of his claws over, and a strange glow bursts from it as it gently punches the pack. Faint, almost ethereal chains then sprout from the top of the pack, anchoring it to the ground, and out of the tangle they came from sprouts a gigantic padlock with an oversized keyhole, tying the chains together like the bow on a present that the humans and recently the oni have been doing for this thing called “Christmas”.

You didn’t participate in Christmas, or most festivals, come to think of it. Maybe you should…because lots of potential jealousy victims go there! Right?

“So, you do know magic!” You say to Yan.

“Not really magic, this is Jeong Industry’s patented lock tech, alongside my own…peculiarities. It’s nowhere near what Miss Yamame can do.”

“If this is technology,” You let out a scoff, “Then call me an engineer. No outsider who visited Gensokyo had anything like this.”

“Have you had any Korean visitors?”

You look at Horosha, who shakes his head. “Last time I checked the Village’s records, there weren’t any. A few Westerners, a few Chinese. No Koreans. You’re the first one here…Ian. Though, as for Koreans in general…” Horosha perks up as he remembers something, “…I think the komainu of the Hakurei Shrine might be related, given how komainus are named in Japan?”

“Probably not if we’re talking about technology.” He looks up, and experimentally throws a few more punches at Yamame, who skitters around the ceiling at a pace too fast and too erratic for his relatively slow moving attacks to land. “I retract what I said about ranged capabilities. If opponents are like her, then this is not going to work.”

“Nah, I’m just pretty fast like this.” The earth spider says as she swings past an incoming claw with unnecessary flourish. “You’ll do fine against a ground-bound feral or a dumb fairy. I guess if the tengu harass you it can be a problem, but those crows and wolves generally stay civil.”

“Such speed…” You hear him muttering the next part underneath his breath, “I’m jealous.”

The boy’s picking up after you! That’s nice.

The fight goes on for about another minute, before Horosha raises a hand for Yamame to stop firing. “Good, we see that you can defend yourself adequately. However, such situations are not ideal, and are to be avoided.”

“Of course not. I would prefer not to fight…”

“I mean fighting defensively. It is better to crush the ne'er-do-wells that harass you with an unfair spell card, as the attacker. That leaves less potential risk for your package.”

“Spell cards can be any attack with meaning, according to the rules, as long as you write it down somewhere as a contract.” You say, showing off the spell cards that you use regularly, written down on cursing dolls. “Since you don’t know magic, you’re not going to be firing off bullet swarms any time soon. A sucker punch with a fist should solve the problem, unless you have something flashier.”

You see Yan frown as his arms fade back into normal ones…though, now that you’ve seen the claws, it is clear that the human arms are just a thin facade, with the chains underneath clearly visible if you know what you’re looking at. He then draws his sword out of the dimensional pocket. “I have one…I’d rather not use it. But if that is what is necessary...”

He raises his sword up high, “Miss Yamame, prepare yourself!”

You look over just in time to see a massive sword blade, resembling a giant version of his slab of steel, sprout from the ground and hurl itself into the ceiling. Upon impact, black ink splashes out with an acidic sizzling sound, before rapidly dissipating.

For Yamame though, the slow speed of the sword and ink do not manage to get her, although she did have to jump off and fly as the ink spread across the ceiling.

“Ineffective, but visually impressive.” Horosha says with a hand on his chin. “A name might give it some more meaning. Tell me, boy, what is the name of this attack?”

“...Distorted Blade.” He says, quietly.

“Distorted Blade?” You think about it for a moment, “Too simple, how about ‘Absolute Execution: Blade of Fate’? Eh…maybe that’s a little too much.”

Yan stares at you as you cringe at your own suggestion. Video games have begun rotting your brain, it seems.

“Parsee, don’t you name your spell cards after folk tales?” Yamame asks, still upside-down on her thread even though she’s almost to the cave floor.

“I don’t know any folk tales involving a giant sword though.” You think back to both tales youkai told about themselves here in Gensokyo, tales that were part of the general Japanese zeitgeist, and tales from your homeland, “...Nope, nothing that wouldn’t be pretentious.”

“Giant Killer: Blade of Jack.” Horosha suggests, with an uncharacteristically enthusiastic tone. Come to think of it, this weirdo spider always was happy to talk about foreign things. “This British folktale contained no mention of a giant sword, but it did contain a hero who went around slaying giants, so such a weapon would be well within his purview.”

“No offense, Parsee, but your suggestion was too presumptuous for someone of my status. ‘Giant Killer’ is a good title, Mister Horosha.” He holds up his sword again, “Giant Killer - Blade of Jack!”

This time, the massive conjured blade slams into the ceiling at greater speed, and Yamame looks noticeably surprised, and excited, at the change. And then, instead of merely splashing out some ink, the liquid coming out of the sword slowly turn a verdant green, a color in start contrast to the earthy darkness of the tunnel. The ink coagulate and twist, and before your eyes they transform into beanstalks, shooting towards Yamame.

Yamame enters an evasive pattern, skittering erratically to have the beanstalks hit air. However, the beanstalks sprout pods, and the contents of the pods explode outwards, covering the air with soramame. Yamame isn’t an oni, but getting nailed with a fava bean to the head still hurts enough that she clutches at it reflexively.

Bean danmaku. Not a common sight outside of Setsubun on the surface. But it makes so much sense that you wonder why more people don’t do it.

“A hit!” You cheer. Yan has frozen in shock, letting his sword drop into the ground while pointing at the botanical manifestation that came out of the Distorted Blade.

“I…I can do that?” The typewriter sound effect seems to have lessened, more background noise than bass line. “Was that magic? Just from renaming my attack?”

“This is Gensokyo. Names have power, especially when they tap into folklore.” Horosha brushes aside his bangs, “Britain may be a long ways from Japan, but the tale of Jack the Giant Slayer…Did it get conflated with the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk? It has been a century or two…This tale is still notable in Japan through contact with westerners. This ain’t proper magic though, it’s just you tapping into what’s already there.”

“Oh, but still…” Yan purses his lips, continuing his stare as the beanstalks dissipate along with the sword. “Jack and the Beanstalk was a tale of courage, guile and…hope, wasn’t it?”

“I could debate you academically on that.” The traveling earth spider says, “But yes, that would be the popular opinion.”

“Ah, then it definitely can’t just be part of my…condition…then. I cannot slay a giant.

His tone on the last sentence is odd, with rasping like he’s crying, but there’s no tears on his face.

“So, Horosha.” You ask as Yamame flies down, rubbing the sore spot on her face. “Good enough?”

“You should have more than one spell card to have a dignified duel against a proper opponent. But for a human new to Gensokyo, your new ‘Giant Slayer’ and that ‘condition’ of yours should suffice to keep nuisances off your back. Most of the time, they are fairies, so a single good hit from those claws of yours should defeat them.”

“Do they die?” He said as he dismissed his sword. “I don’t want to kill…”

“Yes, but fairies just dissipate and return to life within days.” Yamame says instead of the other earth spider, “That was a really cool spell card, human! You’ll do well in Gensokyo.”

“Thank you?” He hesitantly replies. “Was it really that impressive?”

He’s looking over in your direction.

[ ] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Ian.
[ ] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Yan.
[ ] Impressive for a novice, but could use some improvements.
[ ] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.

You take a glance at your phone to see what people’s talking about on your Discord server’s social channel. You are genuinely curious now as to what your new fans are interested in. To better evoke their jealousy, of course.

========

GunBunny: It sounds like you have it rough over there.

Knife Bnuuy: You don’t know the least of it. After the whole mess with [PARTNER CORPORATION REDACTED], we’re in an energy crisis and the Caw-caws are breathing down our necks ‘cause we worked with them. One wrong move and it’s time to be converted into gene-stock.

GunBunny: Yeesh, and I thought my masters back then threatening to turn us into rabbit stew was bad.

Knife Bnuuy: If I got purged, the gene-stock will probably qualify as Rabbit stew lol.

GunBunny: We should form a union. “Asian Federation of Abused Rabbits”. Too bad it’ll just get crushed immediately.

Knife Bnuuy: [CryingWojak.png]

Sandwich Enthusiast: OH SHIT, WIFE’S GONE INTO LABOR, GTG

Knife Bnuuy: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, asshole

GunBunny: So hostile

Knife Bnuuy: You’d be hostile too seeing a happy couple if the person you loved since childhood doesn’t even remember you

GunBunny: That sounds like a story

Knife Bnuuy: A very personal one, thank you very much.

GunBunny: But you shared that much

Knife Bnuuy: I’m a little drunk, okay? Shit, it was mostly my fault for not confessing, but I was supposed to act professionally during the one meeting I got with her. And just a month later, the Incident happened, the facility she worked in was demolished, and everyone inside disappeared to god knows where.

GunBunny: That’s rough buddy.

Knife Bnuuy: And I’m going to be honest, it’s one-sided. I’m just one of many street rats she saved, while she is…kind of a big deal. I worked really hard my whole life, selling myself to [PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT REDACTED], just trying to be a little bit of the hero she is.

I’m not a hero. Nothing close.

GunBunny: There there. It’s okay, I’m sort of a coward myself too.

Knife Bnuuy: I won’t go as far as to call myself that

But what I’ve done.

GunBunny: What did you do?

Knife Bnuuy: Many, many questionable things. Cowardice isn’t one of them, but she would be disgusted by whose blood me and my team have gotten our hands stained with.

Can I show my face to her again?

GunBunny: Sounds like you need some help getting her to like you.

Knife Bnuuy: Are you offering help?

GunBunny: Just some casual advice. First you need a cup of dried and crushed rose petals, then a sprig of wolfsbane. Mix those together.

Knife Bnuuy: What?

GunBunny: Let me DM you the rest of the medicine recipe. It’s a perfume that will make you absolutely irresistible and it should be easy enough to make. (edited)

========

Oh, somebody’s getting groomed, either for sex or for crime. Lovely. None of your business right now though. “I Am Fire” can deal with it (for free).
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[X] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.

Oh boy, the ending conversion makes me pretty excited of what's to come.
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Praise or jealousy, praise or jealousy, why you gotta do this to me man?
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[x] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Ian.

Who could've guessed that discord users would try to groom someone
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[X] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.

Paruparuparuparuparu
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[X] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.

Paru train. Gotta stick to your character! Also bungun get in the story already.
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[x] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Ian.

Reisen out here bout to introduce some magic out into the korean wilds XD.
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[X] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.
Paruparuparuty time!
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[X] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Ian.

Discord is a bad influence on her.
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[X] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.

“Paruparuparuparuparuparu…”

“Parsee? You’re making that sound again.” Yamame says with worry in her voice.

“It came out a really nice spell card. My spell cards never come out with such dramatic flair.” You clutch your head and stare at Yan in a way that makes him severely uncomfortable. “I’m…jealous.”

Now that you have time to think about it…it’s so cool. So aesthetic. Such a dramatic display of inner turmoil and strength that makes all of your spell cards appear superficial and petty. It is a true masterpiece, straight from a distorted soul.

“Miss Parsee?”

“Don’t mind her. She’s just like that sometimes.” Yamame reassures the human, “You'll get used to it if you keep living with her.”
“Dammit Yamame.” You sulk a bit, but make no further comment as the three of you make your way out of the underground. Several other earth spiders came out of their dens at the sides of the cave systems to gawk at the human, but Horosha doesn’t appear to have set more “challenges”.

“I did not set any further artificial barriers.” He states as the group crosses the threshold into the blinding sunlight. “The road ahead would prove challenge enough.”

“If you say so.” You take a glance at the “trainee”, who is…smiling? Barely smiling, but smiling. His slight frame, juxtaposed against the mass of packages he is carrying, is a remarkable sight in the morning sunlight, amidst the natural landscape of Gensokyo.

You sketch as you walk, being mindful to depict the contrast between the traveling couriers and the unkept wilds around this area. Neither human nor tengu and kappa tread much around the entrance to the Fantasic Blowhole, with the latter preferring the elevator shaft leading to the Nuclear Furnace when needing to travel underground. With most everyone leaving the Underground for whatever reason having some form of flight, the “road” joining the Blowhole to Gensokyo’s network of barely maintained paths was largely tread out by the few earth spiders ferrying seeds or construction material.

Walking is nice. Moving around with your feet to the dirt is significantly easier and more relaxing than flying. Your shoes rarely get much mileage, much like those of many Gensokyeans who think that going out in socks only is perfectly fine as long as they’re flying from indoor space to indoor space, without ever touching the ground.

“See? To the north, that distant peak in the clouds. That’s Youkai Mountain. Twas a different name in the past, but its current occupants, the tengu, bestowed this awfully unimaginative moniker upon the range.”

“Youkai Mountain? That does sound…obviously descriptive.” Yan shields his eyes from the sun as he looks towards where Horosha was pointing. “But perhaps we don’t have enough context judge their decision. Tengu are wise beings, or so I’ve heard.”

“You’ve heard wrong, my dear Yan.” You say, before switching into a tone mocking that of the long-nosed bastards, “Us tengu are mostly scared of anybody not us coming up the mountain, and carry around big swords to intimidate humans! Except for crow tengu, who zip around like mosquitoes sucking out every last drop of personal information from innocent bystanders!”

“I take it you don’t like them very much, Miss Parsee.”

“I don’t like anything, but tengu particularly.”

“Aww, don’t be like that, Mizuhashi.” Yamame followed you three out of the underground…doesn’t she have construction contracts to do? “At the very least, you enjoy feeling jealous!”

“I don’t enjoy feeling jealous.” You instinctively retaliate with a false statement.

“Yes you do.”

“No I don’t. You popular, cheerful spide.”

Yamame grins. You groan.

Seeking to divert your attention to something else, you check your phone. Oh, somebody pinged you on Discord.





Sandwich Enthusiast: @everyone THE BABY HAS ARRIVED





Did this guy just ping everybody in the server? Discord lets you do that? You remind yourself to remove mass pinging privileges from people who are not you.





Rift Maiden (KR): Couldn’t be there, but I’ll come visit as soon as I can!

Dark Quietude: Thanks, grandma

Rift Maiden (JP): Congratulations!

Dark Quietude:: A duplicate grandma?

Rift Maiden (KR): :trollface:

Rift Maiden (JP): :trollface:

I Am Fire: Mind if I ask you what the kid’s name is?

Sandwich Enthusiast: Medoro

Dark Quietude: It felt like we had to choose that name, to prevent something bad from happening.

Wolfgang Mozart: He’s so cute!

Wolfgang Mozart: If anything happens to Medoro I will kill everyone involved and then myself.





No more messages from the trio after that. Discord is probably low priority during a birth, and it’s weird that they’re sharing it on here at all. Shouldn’t they be sharing it on social media using their real names? With their friends and family?

You hate happy families. Shouldn’t they just die?

“They’re probably security contractors. ‘Fixers’ in our slang.” Yan says when you ask him. “Posting about things as vulnerable as an infant on Twitter or Kakao with their real names is inviting an enemy to kidnap it or worse. As you can see, they probably all know each other’s online handles, and if they are going to share pictures it’s going to be over private messages.”

“It’s that bad?” You remark, “The online news in Korea surely don’t report on this ‘Fixer business’ from what I saw.”

“Fixer business and organized crime are two things the media won’t touch. These two groups are not averse to raiding news offices. Fixer business is usually the worse to report on of the two, since you won’t know if you’ve accidentally condemned the very same Fixers you hired to guard your own property and life.” He shrugs, as if this is normally expected. “I would argue that other countries like America do not report on their ‘routine and expected’ crime and violence either.”

You think about the shrine maiden, the only person you can think of in Gensokyo who is close to a “security contractor”. Considering how the shrine has been targeted during incidents, you cannot imagine Hakurei Reimu having a child even if nobody has come after her with murderous intent yet. You’ve heard that one of the Four Devas hangs around the shrine regularly, and a drunken oni is probably among the worst things in the world to mix with an infant.

“Having a child in that scenario just sounds like a bad idea.”

“I agree with you on that.” Yan checks your phone, “But judging by their screen names, they probably think they will do just fine.”

You audibly “hmph”, “What, you know them?”

“No…but given the records of some of the more famous contractors, I can hazard a guess that they are among the upper echelons.”

“Hmm.” You look around and see the Village…moving away from you. “Horosha, aren’t we going to the Village?”

“No. We’re heading to Eientei.”

“YOU’RE HAVING THE ROOKIE DELIVER TO EIENTEI?”

“Dealing with hostile terrain is part and parcel of being a good courier.” Horosha says as the Bamboo Forest of the Lost gets closer.

The tree-sized bamboo stalks loom over you as you walk into their shade. You've never been comfortable with the place when you absolutely had to come here for Eientei’s services. Despite being largely devoid of hostile ferals, the massive bamboo stalks always seemed to conceal gawking eyes. Eyes which you felt penetrating deep within you, laying your less savory aspects bare. Of which there are many, you presume based on how uncomfortable you get around this place.

Horosha is deliberately not leading the way. As such, after about half an hour of wandering around on the soft loam, crunching the fallen leaves, you, Yan and Yamame are hopelessly lost. The other earth spider is chewing on tobacco while not saying anything, only keeping a watchful eye on the trainee.

“Miss Parsee, I am sorry for asking, but do you know the way?”

“I’ve come here once before…quite a while ago.” Your life up to this point has been largely a blur, with most details lost in the endless haze of jealousy that made up your memories for the past centuries. “How did I get to Eientei again? Yamame?”

“Miss Yagokoro always met me outside of the forest.” Yamame says with her hands behind her back, “Something about not wanting me near the patients. Understandable given my nature, I suppose.”

“Wondering how to get to Eientei? Needing an appointment with Miss Yagokoro for your illness?” A voice rings out.

A fuzzy white and pink blur leaps out from behind a bamboo trunk, does a somersault in mid-air, and lands with one foot forward and head leaning down, letting her floppy white ears droop.

Tewi then moves into a cutesy curtsy, “Tewi Inaba, at your service. I spy three hated youkai from the underground, traveling alongside a human reeking of cement and smoke. What an odd group to be traipsing around the Bamboo Forest!”

It is the boy who speaks up first, “Miss…Inaba, if we are treading upon your land, we sincerely apologize for the trespass.”

“It is my land, but you’re not trespassing or anything. I’m just thinking that you look a little lost and need some directions.”

“Oh, in that case, thank you…”

Fragmented memories, cast in sharp relief, spring to the front of your mind. You recall bits and pieces of pain, tripping and falling, and a lot of cursing.

You do remember that you got to Eientei by the end though, somehow. You weren’t sure if the rabbit fulfilled her end of the deal.

[ ] Despite her reputation, you should deal with this rabbit.

[ ] DO NOT deal with this rabbit. She will screw you over, and it will be painful. Let’s find our own way.

[ ] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.

[ ] Maybe do something else? Write-in.
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[X] DO NOT deal with this rabbit. She will screw you over, and it will be painful. Let’s find our own way.
The little accidents this rabbit causes are anything but happy.
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[X] Despite her reputation, you should deal with this rabbit.

Better for our resident human to learn lessons while we are there as compared to when we are not.
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[x] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.

Cute
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>>17253
Agreeable.

[x] Despite her reputation, you should deal with this rabbit.
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[X] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.

I want to see what this "something else" is.
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[X] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.
Rolling for intimidation
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[X] Despite her reputation, you should deal with this rabbit.
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[X] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.

Yassss. Btw I see you Yukari being all sneaky sneaky in discord.
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[x] Maybe do something else? Leave it up to Yan.

Wonder if he would catch on or not?
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[x] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.

This seems to be the most comedic!
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[X] Despite her reputation, you should deal with this rabbit.

What could possibly go wrong
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[X] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.

“If you say so, Miss Parsee.” He hesitates for a moment, takes a deep breath, and then howls in a soft, gentle voice. It is pitiful, perhaps he’s used to never raising his voice? You wonder if it will even do anything.

Turning back around, you see that it did have an immediate effect. Tewi has disappeared without making a single sound. You give an inquisitive look at Yamame and Horosha, but they just shrug.

It was a full five minutes before the bamboo leaves above you rustle. You look up to see a figure in a full dress—and a very fluffy tail—descend upon you.

“I see someone remembered how to summon me.” She says. “Imaizumi Kagerou, at your service. For a few coins, I shall lead you out of the forest, or lead you to a destination within. You are here for the latter?“

“Of course, Lady Kagerou.” The boy says with a bow, making you rather confused. “We would like to know the way to Eientei, as we are couriers.”

“Ah yes, the sole destination anyone is interested for the Bamboo Forest.” Kagerou states with some disappointment in her voice. “Very well then, that will be 500 yen.”

“Eh? That’s pretty…” He looks at you, expecting some information. You give it to him.

“Gensokyo’s currency supply isn’t as large as the rest of Japan.” You explain, “Prices here are lower, that’s pretty much it. Things are also priced differently since we don’t have much heavy industry.”

“Ah.” He rifles through his pockets and puils out a wallet. Several crisp new yen bills are removed and placed into Kagerou’s clawed hands. Something about the motion feels intimidating, as if passing the pieces of paper was a motion he practiced and refined for his entire life.

“Thank you very much.” Kagerou turns around, swishing her tail, and you notice Yan’s head turn along with its motion. Impulsively, he reaches a hand out, then catches himself and straightens up.

So he does have a weakness. You think to yourself, smirking. How are you going to use this against him? Wait, is that even possible? You have no tail. Perhaps you can…no…he would actually be more socially accepted amongst the youkai than you, a hashihime. Surely…

You dwell in these new, confusing thoughts as the group make their way through the tree-sized bamboo, following no trodden path, for the rotting bamboo leaves constantly form fresh loam for the ground. While you are thinking though, Yamame notices what you did and watches Yan’s staring with glee. Pretty genuine glee too, unlike yours.

“Hey, Yan.” She whispers as she walks next to him. “You want to touch her tail, don’t you?”

The young man’s face slightly blushes, a change subtle enough that you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t paying attention. “No! That would be rude, and indecent to boot. Wouldn’t it be like touching a person’s rear?”

“Are you sure that’s what she thinks? You’re an Outsider, a newcomer to Gensokyo. If she refuses, she would merely think it a strange inquiry by a foreigner. If she agrees.” Yamame smiles, “Just go ahead!”

“...If you say so.” Yan walks ahead, to Kagerou’s pace. “Um…uh…Miss Kagerou?”

“Hmm? Need some water, human?”

“No…” He purses his lips, gathering the foolhardiness needed. “Can I touch your tail? You know, just to see if it feels like those of wolves in Korea!” He quickly adds on as Kagerou raises a brow, “Merely a flight of curiosity.”

Listening to this, Kagerou shrugs, fishes out a thick-toothed comb from her belt pouch, and holds it in front of a surprised Yan, “Now that you brought it up, my tail is feeling rather itchy. While you ‘satisfy your curiosity’, please groom it well and remove any small branches and leaves in it.”

He gulps as he takes the comb, his arms slightly trembling. You, Yamame, and Horosha spectate as Yan, walks behind Kagerou as she lifts her tail up to combing height. Which isn’t much, considering how short the Korean is.

You expect him to screw up and embarrass himself somehow, but the moment he lays hands on the werewolf’s tail, his trembling stops. You watch, with equal degrees fascination and disappointment, as he gently runs his fingers through Kagerou’s fur, slowly, picking out the debris as instructed, but clearly lingering for longer than he really should be. Noticeably though, he’s careful to not touch the core, sensitive portion. Wait, is that…no! He has a grooming kit on him! Not a pet grooming kit, but after he drips some strange liquid on Kagerou's combo, it plows through Kagerou’s thick wolf fur like a nuclear-powered icebreaker.

Seems like Kagerou was expecting the human to fumble and irritate her. Was she thinking the same thing you were? Perhaps all youkai have an instinct to mess with humans? Whatever, it is irrelevant. Kagerou is nodding, looking rather comfortable and pleased by the grooming while not making any sounds that are…weird. Are tails sensitive for the youkai with them? One of the many things you wonder for a moment and then forget.

Come to think of it, how did you forget that howling summons this werewolf? Oh that’s right, you never go outside. You probably filed away this memory into the trash disposal like many others. But why shouldn’t you? There is no reason for a hashihime to care about these things.

Why do you even bother existing?

“You are good at this!” Kagerou says, genuine appreciation in her voice, “Were you an animal caretaker?”

“Ha ha, no.” The man gives a polite laugh as he tugs on his own long ponytail. “My hair isn’t the most agreeable with grooming products, so getting it to this state took much work…and money. Not that had much to spend with my lifestyle back in Korea.”

A few minutes pass while you observe Yan’s grooming techniques. So much care and precision. Nothing like the crude way you do it, on the days where you bother to wash your hair at all. It’s not like anyone is around to see your hair, after all? But now you are going out more, and people are seeing your hair…

You idly run a hand through your blond locks and rub your fingers. Greasy. You didn’t bother soaping it last time you visited the onsen, as one is expected to do. Are Yamame and Horosha just being polite when they don’t mention it? Yan definitely noticed and didn’t mention it, not with how smooth and silky his white-and-black striped hair looks.

For the first time in a length of time you don't remember the beginning of, you feel slightly ashamed.

Yan takes several minutes to get Kagerou’s tail fur completely cleaned out and straightened, though you do notice that he was being slower than he probably should be. But really, can you fault the kid? Well, 25 year-old man, but to everyone else here he both looks like and is comparatively a child. Young enough for youkai to be a bad influence on him, anyhow.

“Whoa.” Kagerou remarks as she gets up and stretches. “It feels lighter, even. Nice job, human.”

“Thanks.” Yan looks uncharacteristically happy. You feel jealous of it, as usual.

As such, you cannot help but let out a snide comment, “Can’t be that hard to keep hair clean with the tech you’ve got in Korea.”

“It probably is much easier than what you have to deal with out here.” He carefully wipes his fingers of loose fur with a handkerchief. “You want to try my tools out? You seem to have trouble keeping your hair well.”

Was that an insult? Was the boy snapping back at you? You look over at the earth spiders with their utilitarian and well-kept haircuts, giggling at you.

[ ] I can take care of my own hair, thank you very much.
[ ] (Very Begrudgingly) Maybe you can take a look

====

Late update because I'm working on too much shit at once right now, and laziness.
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[x] (Very Begrudgingly) Maybe you can take a look

Extremely cute holy shit
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Yook being cute brings in the donations.
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Pride does not wash your hair
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Yay bonding :D
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[X] (Very Begrudgingly) Maybe you can take a look

Tsundere Parsee

Tsundere Parsee
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[X] (Very Begrudgingly) Maybe you can take a look. Perhaps once we’re at Eientei.

You’ve only been to Eientei once before. The hardy constitution of youkai usually means that biological maladies are a thing you sneer at humans about, but the same mechanisms that allow vices such as sake and opium to affect your body also provide an avenue for particularly creative microorganisms to wreak havoc.

You were not proud when you sat in that office, with the prying eyes of the alien doctor dissecting the hurried habitual lies you gave about your raspy voice and phlegm. A serious throat infection, it was, and she said you had a chance of dying from it.

Going out due to a throat infection seemed grimly karmic for a hashihime that drew her sustenance with a poisoned tongue. Now that you’re reflecting on it though, you think people will probably just call you stupid and your gravestone would read: “Here lies Parsee, died from being a stubborn shut-in with a moldy manjuu. What a loser.” Though given what Rinnosuke told you, Hakurei Reimu of all people almost went out in the same way so you have company in that department.

Eientei stands out from the rest of the bamboo forest mostly by not being bamboo. Its external decor is largely akin to the rest of Gensokyo’s Meiji-era rural Japanese aesthetic (albeit, as the years went on, slowly upgraded with all sorts of inventions and conveniences developed independently from the Outside for the Human Village and youkai settlements alike). But this facade conceals a technologically advanced pharmaceutical facility and a surgical center not available for public knowledge…at least that’s what the rumors say.

For what it’s worth, the packs Yan and Horosha are carrying contain both medicinal mushrooms as well as petroleum products from the recently sprung well in the Underground. You’ve never studied medicine, nor had much need to, so this isn’t much conclusion other than confirmation of their usage.

“Come in, come in.” A voice calls from behind the gates of the house, shortly before it swings open to reveal a tired-looking rabbit with straight ears, herding a swarm of smaller rabbits with floppy ones. “Kitchen team, carry these to Master’s storehouse. Garden team, get these plants to the greenhouse…” Her ruby red eyes turn over to your group, “Hello…”

She abruptly freezes as she sees you, “YOU…Umm, sorry. Please come into the parlor and have some tea. Coming here from the Underground must have been a long journey.”

“Miss…” You begin to say, then think better of it. Are you that infamous? You don’t think you’re that recognizable. Your companions took notice, and Yamame suppresses a snicker as you pass into Eientei’s front yard.

“Raised hell here before?” Yamame says.

“No…” You mumble. Despite how much you’d wanted to, something about the gaze of the Master here, that Eirin Yagakoro, gives you enough heebie-jeebies that you dropped any idea of using your abilities on the patients here.

So why did that rabbit call you out like that? But also seem to drop the subject? Eh, you’re obviously a hashihime. She’s bound to be cautious.

The parlor is spacious, decorated in a pre-Heian style that is so antiquated you think it’s effectively Chinese, if the brief reads you gave an old copy of Architecture Through the Ages by the Hieda family is correct. You only skimmed it because you had a brief moment of inspiration when designing your dwelling below the bridge, then gave up approximately half an hour in and decided upon a firepit with a pallet for a bed.

If Yamame and some of her friends weren’t around to tease and, as much as you begrudgingly say it, actively helped you in building your shack, you probably would’ve still been living like a true youkai with wanderlust—a homeless person, in other words, under the bridge.

“Parseeeeeeee.” Said earth spider says as she slouches below the low table. “Can you pass me one of the peaches?”

“Sure.” You grab a peach and prepare to toss it over, before thinking a bit better of it, and lean over to hand it off instead. Kagerou got dragged off by a pack of rabbits for some unknown reason so it’s back to the four of you that left the underground. Horosha is nursing his tea and not talking, his attention immersed by a tengu newspaper.

You turn to look at your new voluntary victim…well…roommate, cautiously sipping his tea while eyeing his surroundings. He sort of froze up when seeing the head rabbit…Reisen, right, that was her name. He was muttering something about, “R…R…R?” Before snapping back out and reverting to his usual composure.

“Ian?”

“Hmm?”

“You wanted to take a look at my hair?”

“I’ve been taking a look. Now what I need is a place to work.” He sets down his tea, “But surely I can do better than the courtyard’s well…”

“Of course, Mr. Vismok, you are more than welcome to use our washing facilities.” A voice abruptly comes from the side. The two of you snap your heads to see Eirin Yagakoro walking by the room. She’s not even looking up from her notebook. You glare at her, knowing (or at least, assuming) she was listening in the whole while, but she doesn’t look at you.

How the hell did she know his name?

Eientei has a special…salon that you noticed when you came here the first time. You’re not sure you can call it that really, as it appears to be used for experimental hair treatment products. Yagakoro has several vials lined up on the shelves with big red warning labels, and judging by the amount of cut fur and hair in the disposal bins they appeared to have some success.

“You don’t visit the hairdressers much, do you?” Yan says as you get into one of the barbershop chairs

“I have a mirror and shears at home.” You grumble. “Look at my hair, does it look like something I need to fork over a fistful of yen to a barber for?”

“With how uneven it is? You really should be. Look.” He twirls one of your greasy locks near your ears, “If you’re going to have your ears exposed, which you will, given how long yours are, you’re going to want to keep it cropped neatly around it. Otherwise it’s going to get tangled up and get dirty, defeating the purpose of a low maintenance haircut.”

“And what’s the point of you calling it a low maintenance haircut if I need to maintain it anyway?”

Yan stares at you. You stare at him back.

“Parsee, how often do you cut your hair normally?”

“When it gets to my feet I get the shears and cut everything to chin length.”

You can’t help but smile as a look of horror spreads across the boy’s face. “Oh no. Oh no no no. Oh that won’t do at all.” He mutters as he picks up the spray bottle, “For starters…you’re cutting the lifespan of your follicles short! Even if you live forever, it’s not healthy!”

“Oh don’t be so overdramatic.” You brush off the comment as he brushes through your greasy locks, “I’m not a human, hair problems don’t exisssss…”

You trail off as Yan combs deep and draws out a clump of dead hair, nestled deep in your locks as if you were a shedding dog, before holding the coated comb in front of your face.

Maybe not thoroughly scrubbing during your infrequent baths was a bad idea.

“Fine, some hair problems might exist.” You reluctantly admit.

Spray bottle, scissors, even some strange solvent he kept on his person. The boy had it all, and generously applied each and every one of these gifts to your hair. Your hair condition was bad enough that he had to shampoo and rinse it twice before resuming the haircut, but little by little…

“Gah, Miss Parsee, you hair is as strong as nylon.” He says with a grimace while switching out his diminutive scissors for a pair of gardening shears Eirin had lying around the room. “Is this part of being a youkai?”

“Yes actually. Youkai hair is stronger than human hair, which is why you see so many of us leave them longer than humans usually do, even for those of us that get into fights all the time. Oni hair is even stronger, comparable to metal wire. Wait.” You tilt back to look at him as the cutting pauses. “Aren’t you similar to a youkai even if not exactly one? How’s your hair like?”

“Much stronger than before, I can’t cut it but that’s fine.” He smiles, “It doesn’t grow any more.”

You’re not sure why, but that statement seems to get sadder the more you think about it.

He didn’t cut much hair, just trimmed all of the excess locks around the back and around your ears to better sculpt out the shaggy bob cut your hair naturally seems to form into. But he sure did thoroughly, and thoroughly, cleanse your head of all the gunk and dead matter within.

At the end of the haircut session and the final shampoo and rinse, you shake your dripping head around and it feels significantly lighter. Did you really have that much stuff in your head? Or did you really have that much stuff in your head metaphorically that a nice haircut dispelled?

You can’t help but laugh (into a cough) at the sheer idiocy required to consider the second option.

“Normally women’s hair requires more involved procedures, but with how tough yours is and with these products, a cut like yours needs none of it. Of course, many of the women I come across do not bother.”

“I believe most of Gensokyo’s population are like that too.” You remark. “Hair care isn’t exactly something most youkai keep on their minds.”

“Are you sure? Or are you speaking out of your own experience?”

“I—-shut up.”

He smiles. You don’t. Getting smugged on by a human of all things is not an acceptable experience.

“Thank you.” You begrudgingly mutter.

Yan heads back to the parlor, but as you are about to follow him something makes you stop and turn.

You can smell it: The scent of someone doing what they’re not supposed to do…in aid of something jealous too no less. You sniff again. It’s coming from the closed door to your right, but it’s not strong enough to be directly related to committing a crime out of jealousy…more like an accomplice?

Suppressing a giggle of delight, you creep over to the door and press one of your long ears against it.

“...and then obtain rice vinegar, and marinade the rose petals within for seventy-two hours exactly, no more, no less. Then, make sure to sketch out the circle in your own blood…no, a theoretical clone’s blood wouldn’t work…why are you even asking this? A joke, okay. I know the Outside World doesn’t have this technology yet. Yes it has to match the signature.”

It’s the voice of that Reisen woman, but you can’t hear who she’s talking to.

“No, you need the untanned hide of a fox for this…no, a synthetic one won’t do, it has to be naturally born…where are you even getting these clones from? That’s a secret? Alright then. I guess you told me enough about your love life to…”

You involuntarily drool a little as you press up against the door firmly. Love life? Your ideal food! What sort of couple is this? Are they merely a stalker? In that case even better! Just think about the various handles and cranks in their head you can turn with just words alone, no powers needed even. For starters…

…Your train of thought violently rams into a cliffside as the door, apparently in need of maintenance for a while, gives in with you pressing on it with unintentionally too much weight. With a squeak then a thud, it pops free of its frame and crashes into the room with you on top of it.

“CUT THE CALL!” You hear Reisen shout. Looking up, you see a device vaguely resembling a desktop computer, though one obviously made with whatever Eientei’s got going on with the alchemical widgets inside of it. There is definitely a nice big screen however, and on it you see the person on the other end (someone with stark white hair as the dimly lit video feed shows, you note) fumbles about their equipment for a few seconds before the call ends.

Reisen likewise takes a few moments to realize who just intruded on the meeting. “You?!”

“Me?” You groan as you pick yourself off the ground. “Fix your damn doors! I tripped and bumped into it and it just came off!”

“Oh!” Your complaint seems to trigger a reflexive response in the rabbit, and she quickly defers to an apologetic tone. “I’m sorry! Been meaning to fix that all year but Master’s been keeping me busy with other things!”

“It’s fine. It’s fine.” You grumble in a tone that indicates it’s not fine. “Now, can you help me…”

Your gaze falls over to the screen again. You now realize that Reisen wasn’t using a proprietary calling shikigami that you’ve seen people use without computers. It is a computer, running a human operating system, and she’s using Discord. And on the left side, in the list of servers, there is exactly one server listed.

YOUR Discord server.

Reisen follows your gaze, and moves to close the program, before realizing what exactly you’re seeing. “Uh…Miss Mizuhashi…”

[ ] Throw the nearest blunt object at Reisen
[ ] Pretend you didn’t notice and disappear from the scene
[ ] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it.
[ ] Play it COOL and act confidently to her about it.
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Wow I was just reading it and noticed it updated. Cool! Nice PM x Touhou crossover. Hope to see more :P

[X] Play it COOL and act confidently to her about it.

Imagine being the opposite of I_Am_Fire. Definitely me. Fr Fr
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[x] Play it COOL and act confidently to her about it.
coolface
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Snrk. This is gonna be good.
[X] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it.
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[x] Play it COOL and act confidently to her about it.

Smug
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[X] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it.
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[X] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it.
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A story in two parts:

>>17230
>Knife Bnuuy: I’m a little drunk, okay? Shit, it was mostly my fault for not confessing, but I was supposed to act professionally during the one meeting I got with her. And just a month later, the Incident happened, the facility she worked in was demolished, and everyone inside disappeared to god knows where.

>GunBunny: That’s rough buddy.

>Knife Bnuuy: And I’m going to be honest, it’s one-sided. I’m just one of many street rats she saved, while she is…kind of a big deal. I worked really hard my whole life, selling myself to [PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT REDACTED], just trying to be a little bit of the hero she is.

[...]

>GunBunny: Sounds like you need some help getting her to like you.

>Knife Bnuuy: Are you offering help?

>GunBunny: Just some casual advice. First you need a cup of dried and crushed rose petals, then a sprig of wolfsbane. Mix those together.

>Knife Bnuuy: What?

>GunBunny: Let me DM you the rest of the medicine recipe. It’s a perfume that will make you absolutely irresistible and it should be easy enough to make. (edited)

[...]

>>17295

>“...and then obtain rice vinegar, and marinade the rose petals within for seventy-two hours exactly, no more, no less. Then, make sure to sketch out the circle in your own blood…no, a theoretical clone’s blood wouldn’t work…why are you even asking this? A joke, okay. I know the Outside World doesn’t have this technology yet. Yes it has to match the signature.”

>It’s the voice of that Reisen woman, but you can’t hear who she’s talking to.

>“No, you need the untanned hide of a fox for this…no, a synthetic one won’t do, it has to be naturally born…where are you even getting these clones from? That’s a secret? Alright then. I guess you told me enough about your love life to…”

This is Reisen trying to get Myo to /u/ Gebura.

On account of posting wojacks, promoting streaming, using d*scord unironically, using Bob Ross as a plot device AND getting most of the Library cast to populate a server (with some of them doing it for free), this story gets a rare ULTRA-HERESY rating.

I bet Ayin could still somehow find a way to save it.
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[X] Throw the nearest blunt object at Reisen
knee-jerk reaction
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[x] Play it COOL and act confidently to her about it.

Now that I've become a fan of project moon I can be all the more excited whenever this updates! XD
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>>17251
>Sandwich Enthusiast: Medoro
>Dark Quietude: It felt like we had to choose that name, to prevent something bad from happening.

A bit late to notice this, but I find it somewhat strange that the name of Ruina Roland and Angelica's son (who does not exist in the Ruina canon) is that of the mythological Angelica's lover.
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[X] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it.

“So, you’ve been watching my art streams?” You say, a big, forced smile on your face.

“...Yes.”
“I take it you’ve been enjoying them then.”

“Yes?” Reisen’s acting as if you were a taut rubber band, ready to snap at any moment. Which to be fair, you would’ve been before in this situation. Now though, you’re not quite sure how you’re supposed to feel.

“Do you think…my paintings are good? High quality? Well-thought out concepts?” Your art education was entirely from boredom-induced practice under a bridge with stolen reference material and supplies, and while the oni did provide some useful feedback, you are curious as to what someone else outside of the Underground thinks.

“Concepts? Your landscapes are really great! A bit unrealistic in composition, but great! I don’t understand art that much, so don’t take my word for it though!” Reisen is jabbering out a response on reflex, you think.

“So, does anyone else in Gensokyo have access to internet?”

“Not that I know of. I did want to ask you.” Reisen gestures to the computer. “Master developed a modem that can penetrate the Hakurei Barrier, in order to access and disseminate medical texts anonymously. But Master is Master. How did you gain access?”

“The Yakumo gave me one.” You say, not wanting to elaborate too much on the complications or difficulties.

“Why would a Yakumo…nevermind.” Reisen shakes her head, “Not worth it to try and discern any motive from this individual. It’s like when she funded the night sparrow’s food cart business.”

She did what? Well, come to think of it, why did she give you the laptop? But if she funded the night sparrow’s food cart, of all people, then that means she perhaps expected the same out of you as well. A disturbing implication rears its head, “So what you’re saying is that she was expecting me to try and farm jealousy…I mean, start a streaming career, by giving me this computer?”

“More likely than not, yes. You’re good at it. Nobody would’ve guessed that you can take on the role of a public entertainer but…hmm…I suppose even if you didn’t have a talent for painting you still would’ve gone over well with humans. After all, you are a youkai that is emotionally dependent on other beings for subsistence.”

“I feel like that’s an insult.” You mumble.

Reisen opens her mouth as if to say something, closes it, then opens it again, “You’re not acting normally, Miss Mizuhashi.”

“I’m not? What can you possibly be talking about? You don’t even know me, Miss Udongein!”

“A hashihime shouldn’t be getting this impassioned about anything but for seeking jealousy. And by now the books say you should be trying to rile me up. I mean, you haven’t once said anything about respect for my job or salary since you came here.”

“It…didn’t come to mind. Why do I need it? I can just trigger a week’s jealousy from a single stream. It’s even getting viewers from outside of Japan. Huh.”

You have been nursing a thought like this, feeding your own jealousy, but you never thought you would be taking steps on it. Imagine: a wealthy and successful hashihime, with attention from a 24-hour media cycle and the adoration of millions…and the jealousy of even more. You always wondered, is that even a youkai at that point if she needs no powers? Or is she just a human who enjoys making others jealous? Are those vacuous popular streamers way ahead of you in views on Twitch just the Outside World’s hashihime? It was largely a philosophical question, something you have no care for, but now it seems you have to answer it sooner than later, lest you crumble to bones and dust without warning.

And what of youkai who lose their youkaihood? You’ve heard of henge who turned human, but that was an upgrade on the reincarnation cycle. Perhaps the Yama would have an answer. The Yama…ugh. You’ve never met her before, but from you’ve heard she’s an annoying busybody and are not keen on a meeting.

And the strange things happening to you…could this be a result of you losing your youkaihood? Bob Ross shades don’t just decant out of thin air.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” You catch yourself staring off into nothing in particular again. “What’s your username, by the way?”

“GunBunny.”

“Right.” You pretend to check the time on your phone. “Well, Miss Udonge—Reisen. I’ll catch you online. Our group’s gotta move, and you’ve got work to do right?”

“Right! Right.” Reisen answers while scratching her head. Seems like she genuinely forgot some work in the excitement of playing alchemy master to a gullible outsider. “I’ll get back to it then! Bye!”

You get out of the situation without having to reveal that you were eavesdropping. A success by any measures, you figure. Aside from that, you have a Gensokyean to bait…err…regale with your tales of internet fame to stoke jealousy in a more local area! It’s looking bright for Mizuhashi Parsee! Other than the existential questions, anyway.

Just gotta keep going. Keep maintaining your sigma female grindset and get your subscriber numbers up. That is your…purpose?

You shake your head. That’s not important, what’s important is to be successful, as you are no poverty goddess who is tied to her own misery. If you are successful, you have all the resources in the world to worry about if you’re true to yourself or whatever.

“Alright, I’m back!” You say as you swing open the door. Yamame looks at your joyous expression with some surprise.

“We’re heading to the village next.” Horosha checks his pocketwatch. “Platinum ores and gem shipment to several jewelers and smithies. We’re on good time, but dallying around isn’t recommended. If you lot are still tagging along.”

You look around the table. A wolf and a spider are quickly scarfing down their oranges and scooting out of the low table. Is Kagerou joining your little day trip party? Or something like that.

“I’m coming along. Gonna do some shopping?” She says before you can ask.

“Yeah…not my decision to make.” You see the others not give any contraindications, so you just shrug and accept things.

The others finish their snacks, and begin gathering their things. Looking at the boy you’re grooming…err…hosting, you think of something to say.

“Ian?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you suppose you would like to stay here? You said you were just staying here temporarily, but the old spider pays well, and you can make enough money in gold here to live a comfortable life back in Korea, with the way the exchange rates are going.”

“Gensokyo is indeed a beautiful place to live, work and die in.” He thinks about it for a while, “I don’t know, it’s a good idea, but it isn’t home.”

“Where is home then, Seoul?”

“That’s a very good question…I don’t know. My prescr-My orders were that I can return home…find a home when I finish reciting all the digits of e, which iis infinite.”

“Better no home than a mandated home under a bridge, I would say.” Yan gives you an extremely dirty glare as you say that, but you respond with just a giggle. “It really is worse, trust me.”

“Easy for you to say since you’ve forsaken human bonds a long time ago.” He grumbles.

“Yes I have, and I’m very jealous of those that retain said bonds…” You say, though with not much conviction, “But those bonds only last at most until you die, and not for say, a thousand years unto eternity. I got to say, being .”

“You can always just commit suicide.” He says, before realizing it was probably something he wasn’t supposed to say.

“Trust me…I’ve tried in the past.” You reply, before realizing it was something you were probably not supposed to reveal. Unlike him, however, you do not stop, “So as an elder youkai it’s fairly difficult to kill yourself. Simply slitting the throat or hanging yourself won’t work, but the more extreme methods such as a thorough exorcism is too painful, and you’ll give up before you make any progress. Not to mention we…have weaker wills than humans on average.”

He stares at you. Then down at his feet and hands. “Do you think that applies to me, in my current state?”

“I wouldn’t try.”

“But in theory.” Oh, the boy is beginning to take on your own way of talking, “IF I were to try and kill myself, would I succeed if I really try?”

“Probably yes, if you ask a miko to purify you, or a monk…hmm…”

Come to think of it, which miko or monk would be best fit for whatever this kid is going through?

[ ] The Hakurei
[ ] The Moriya
[ ] The Myouren
[ ] Those weird basement Taoists
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[x] The Hakurei

Something something needless killing
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[x] The Hakurei

Something something needless killing
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Not the goddamn Myouren good lord.
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Send him to the Taoists and a week or two down the line Seiga's getting a new undead servant souped up on that weird goo Ian has in him. Possibly. Iunno.
[x] Those weird basement Taoists
After having typed the above out, I'm interested in seeing the hungry corpse chill with the awkward Korean.

>Looking at the boy you’re grooming…
Truly, a discord mod of our time.
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[x] Those weird basement Taoists
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[x] Those weird basement Taoists

Necrophilia
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[X] Those weird basement Taoists
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[x] The Moriya

I really just want to see how miss "You can't be held back by common sense in Gensokyo" deals with counseling.
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[x] The Moriya
After considering it, the Moriya seem the least likely to fuck him up more?
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[x] The Moriya

"Your life is everything! You serve all purpose! You should treat yourself, NOW!"

"Your life, literally, is as valuable as a summer ant."

"What I need you to do is I need you to take a nearest rope that you got, wrap it around. If you got a garage or a fucking stairway, and hang youself. Period. Why are you alive? Do the world a favor and hang youself."
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(I don't know who Yan is, haven't played Ruina yet, still on Lob Corp)
Hmm, The Hakurei are essentially peacekeepers maintaining the balance so I don't see them helping him kill himself unless he goes out of his way to be lethal. However, if Mima happens to be there, he might have a interesting conversation.

The Moriya are progressive about things, and I think 2 out of 3 of them would try to help him live, Suwako though, being rather curse related could be an interesting conversation.

Myouren has a larger cast of characters, though, seeing the literal vengeful ghost might dash his hopes that death is the end.

The Taoist would be the exact opposite of helping him kill himself since they pursued immortality via binding their souls to an object, and he is more machine-like and has that type-writer theming, so he'd be seeing people actively becoming like he is but retaining (or at least trying to retain) their humanity...and then there is Kokoro, who is a collection of masks gaining humanity/emotions, essentially undergoing the reverse process to him.

Also there is Mononobe no Futo who looks similar to him, like they could be related if the pictures displayed are accurate.

So, storywise, I'd say the Taoist look the most interesting for Yan to interact with even if none help him kill himself.

Honestly, if he wants death, he should try talking to Shiki Eiki, I'm sure it would be a productive conversation for him.

[x] Those weird basement Taoists
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[X] Those weird basement Taoists

“...As a matter of fact we are delivering a few packages to Senkai.” Horosha replies when you ask him. “I didn’t think you of all people would be interested in Taoism.”

“I’m not. I just happen to need to discuss a few things with them.”

Taoism is ultimately a dual pursuit of passive existence and spiritual ascension. To ascend to the realm of celestials while making no move against any established orders (By Chinese standards. The Japanese celestial order has some very strong opinions regarding upstart wannabe celestials). These hermits however took the easy way out, as instead of ascending they turned themselves into shikaisen, which are effectively liches whilst continuing their training. Now no longer human, they can really do whatever they want without fear of kishin.

Except for that creepy blue woman who sneaks into peoples’ houses at Christmas. You once had to chase her out with a broomstick and her rear felt distinctly alive when you smack it. Seiga Kaku is still a fleshy hermit, and she was paid a visit by kishin not too long ago. Shame they didn’t take her permanently.

“Uh, Miss Parsee, why are you telling me all this?”

You turn to see Yan staring at you weirdly. You’ve been thinking out loud.

“Figuring out if there’s an effective way to get you to die, if that’s what you want. In theory.” You check your phone for the current time. “Wait, that sounds wrong.”

“You really shouldn’t worry about my problems.”

“I get to worry about whatever I feel like, thank you very much.”

You are going to the Taoists. You have had no experience with Taoism, though you did idly dump a few hours on a video game about it, but you figured that if anyone were to offer an unconventional point of view on this, it would be a group of people striving to forsake their humanity as much as possible…legally.

“Technically, you’re not supposed to visit this place if you’re a youkai.” Horosha says as he stops at the primary entrance of Senkai, a designated, monitored crack in reality marked by cairns on the side of the road. “But even hermits need material goods, especially for their mortal followers.”

“You know I’ve been checking out a game called Amazing Cultivation Simulator which is about how Taoists work, so yes they need, uh, energy pills and ancient ingredients to make pills that help them concentrate their chi, right?”

“Well, in a broad sense yes.” The old earth spider rubs his hands, then knocks on the crack like he would a door. “As Senkai has no production of its own nor has made efforts for self-sufficiency, which is frankly unnecessary in Gensokyo, they need to buy normal things, such as paper and ink, just like everyone else.”

You don’t see any outer disciples being enslaved to work in the fields as you enter, as Senkai is a very small area that is largely paved over. There are (artificial) springs, waterfalls, and other carefully maintained scenery around the place with humans meditating or studying texts. You don’t see anyone riding swords or blowing things up, yet, anyway.

Maybe the lack of Japanese sources on Taoism isn’t much good for your understanding of the subject. Or the lack of conversations you had with any of its adherents here in Gensokyo. But why would you want to talk with any of them anyway?

A series of abrupt, crackling lightning strikes the ground near you, causing you to take a step back. A booming voice calls out, “Halt! What are you…”

“Miss Soga, it’s the weekly shipment.” Horosha replies, almost annoyed in tone.

A puffing sound, and you see a green-dressed ghost pop in above, with her arms crossed and her brows furrowed. “You and the other carrier, yes, but what’s with all the other youkai following you?”

Kagerou and Yamame give a dismissive wave, while you straighten up and lie, “We were carrying other loads that have now been delivered. We’re a part of this courier team just like Horosha and Ian here.”

“Uh,” Yan holds up a hand as if to protest, but stiffens and takes a step back as more lightning strikes the area, as the ghost flies down closer to the ground.

“You know we can’t just let youkai waltz in here casually right?” Soga maintains a volume just below a shout, “At least have the decency to wear a hat when you come in!”

Kagerou shrugs, strokes her brooch, and you watch as her wolf ears and tail seemingly retract into her body. “I am a human right now.” She says with a grin. “And you’ve let me in here before.”

“May you stub your toe, Kagerou Imaizumi.” Tojiko mutters, before raising her voice again, “And you! Kurodani! Even the accursed Buddhists banned you from their temple! How dare you wander in here!”

You expect Yamame to react similarly to Kagerou, but instead you see her lower her head, “Sorry.” Yamame sighs, “Meet you guys outside.”

“Yamame?” You call out, concerned.

“I’m not allowed near temples and other places where humans gather. They don’t want me spreading diseases. Eirin let me in because she’s confident she can trivially handle me if I do try to start things, but most people are not.”

“But you haven’t used your ability in ages!” You protest, “Come on! You…”

“The fact of the matter is that I used it at all before…also I said that the humans who come to temple look delicious.”

You stare at her. She smiles. You sigh. Why were you even thinking of defending her?

“For the record, I don’t find the humans who come to your temple appetizing. They are actively restraining their desires.” You say to Tojiko.

“You’re worse than the spider. She’s honest, and her ability only affects the body. You, on the other hand, can use your ability to directly attack the spiritual progress of everyone here!”

You stare at Tojiko’s accusatory finger, and think of something to reply other than your usual vague threats. “There is no possible situation where I would want to evoke jealousy in your acolytes here. They are well on their road to becoming ascended beings, and I cannot touch them even if I tried…madam.”

Horosha raises an eyebrow, and Tojiko gives you a similarly confused look, before saying, “If that is the case, and you insist on coming in, you must agree to wear a blessed restraint which nullifies your powers. I will warn you, it is extremely painful.”

“For you.”

“What?”

“Uh I mean sure, but give me a sec.”

The two stare at you with even more confusion as you pull out your phone.

=====

Mizuhashi297: Subjecting myself to some good old Taoist CBT, wish me luck.

GunBunny: what

======

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Tojiko mutters to herself as she pulls out the myriad seals and talismans that make up the restraint, all attached together with a thin chain for convenience. Smiling, wordless, you put on the chain like a sash.

Pain. A hollow abyss where the jealousy that fuels your being is abruptly quenched. You gasp and recoil, unused to your existence being suppressed by this, and yet…

…It’s not that bad?

“I…I’m fine.” You stick out your hand as the two men move towards you out of concern. “My powers are just suppressed, which is just fine. Just fine.”

You can still feel a good amount of jealousy, or rather, the end-products of the jealousy process within you. You’re still fueled and able to move, oddly enough. This is much different than your experience when fighting the shrine maiden and getting sealing talismans stuck all over your body. That was pure pain, agony. While this doesn’t feel like anything more than a simple stab wound, one you are used to. But shouldn’t this have the same effect?

Tojiko seems satisfied with your reaction however, and waves you onward with a curt “You may pass now.”

Toyosatomimi no Miko was buried with a great deal of her wealth, which you guess was invested into this building. As such, the interior of the temple is elaborately decorated, well-constructed, though not by the rigorous Earth Spider standards you are used to in the Underground. Indeed, you see Horosha shake his head at some of the seams and flaws in the beams and walls.

“Look at this beam, it is a degree off and will lead to a collapse in 132 years. And these foundation stones have centimeter-long flaws in them that they covered with mortar! They could’ve certainly compromise and ask an appropriate youkai to help them shape the rock appropriately. Humans…”

You have no idea what he’s talking about, so you just nod along with Yan as you trudge over to the storage room.

“Does that…ghost? Out front? Does she own this temple?”

“No, that would be a certain Toyosatomimi no Miko. You’re Korean right? You probably know her better as Prince Shotoku.”

An expression of great confusion crosses the boy’s face as you can visibly see his brain short-circuit. “Know her better as Prince Shotoku?”

“The gods were fooling around, their shady shikaisen drugs, Buddhist conspiracies, magic, take your pick.” You shrug, “Honestly don’t think too hard about it.”

“And isn’t this a Taoist temple? Wasn’t Shotoku known for spreading Buddhism?”

“So he could take all the Taoist ascension materials for himself, is my guess. But it is better if ask her yourself.” Horosha slides open the door to the storage room. “Let’s find her after…oh…”

You stare at the person sitting cross-legged on the floor, a smoldering tobacco pipe in her hand and several empty beer pots by her detached earmuffs. She’s frozen like a deer in the middle of the night when someone comes by with a lantern, and so are you.

“Miss Toyosatomimi we have come with your supplies. You want them here, yes?” Horosha says calmly, acting as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on despite the flagrant violation of the Taoist precepts happening in front of him.

“Y..yes..please do so.” Miko hurriedly snuffs out her pipe. “Right, right, we have been expecting this delivery from the underground today…but who are the other two of you?”

“Bridge jannie.” You curtly reply.

“I am Courier-in-training, Madam Shotoku.”

“Shotoku?” Miko raises an eyebrow, “That’s a name people haven’t called me in a long time. And your Japanese sounds foreign, are you from another country?”

“Korea, ma’am.”

“Korea…” Miko looks off, as if remember something. “Nevermind. Please carry on, I’ll just be going…say, I’m reading some odd desires from you, young man.”

Yan stiffens and looks towards you. You stare back, deciding on something to say, or rather, frame the conversation.

[ ] “This boy needs some general purpose therapy.”
[ ] “This boy needs to figure out how to die.”
[ ] “This boy needs to figure out how to live.”
[ ] “Yan say something.”

====

A/N: AAAAAAHHHHHHH I'M DISTORTING HELP ME CHEN
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I will warn you, it is extremely painful.”

“For you.”
=====
Mizuhashi297: Subjecting myself to some good old Taoist CBT, wish me luck.
=====
“Bridge jannie.”
=====

Is Parsee, dare I say it... Based?

[x] "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions"

(why did getting this post through 3 tries?)
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[x] “This boy needs to figure out how to die.

CHEN CAN'T HELP YOU NOW, FUCKER
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[X] “This boy needs some general purpose therapy.”
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[X] “Yan say something.”
>cat will never dance on your grave
Why die?
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[x] “This boy needs some general purpose therapy.”

sTOP FUCKING MEMEING
I BET NEXT UPDATE SHE'S GONNA CALL HERSELF BASED AND TAOPILLED AT THIS RATE
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[x] "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions"
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[X] "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions"

Electrostimulation by Tojiko.
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[X] “This boy needs some general purpose therapy.”
Something tells me the ghost, shikaisen, zombie, and necromancer will know surprisingly little about staying dead.
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>>17320
>>17325
>>17326
So they're training people on the BDSM-5, now?
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[] All of the above
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>>17329
How do you think Miko became a woman?
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[X] “This boy needs some general purpose therapy.”
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[X] "This boy needs some general purpose therapy."
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[X] "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions"

Wouldn't Eientei be better for general therapy?
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Damn killjoys, no CBT.
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Upon googling, CBT can also be short for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
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>>17336
Is that so?
[X] "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions"
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Toji
>>17326 Your post inspired me to made me do this.
I am Tojiko is up to nefarious things.

What heinous nothings is she whispering into the rabbit enthusiast's ear?
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What do you guys think about combination of the two choices?
[ ] "This boy needs some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy"?
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But don't you get it?

By leaving it as Taoist CBT, just initials, it can be mistaken by other characters as both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cock and Ball Torture
vv
[] "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions"
^^
This is a compromise
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ParseeAsTheChadAndYouAsTheCryingSoyjack
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[X] “Yan say something.”
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[X] "This boy needs some general purpose therapy."
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[X] “Yan say something.”
You wanted to speak to the taoists now talk
you suicidal nugget
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[X] “Yan say something.”

Since Miko is already reading Yan's desires, Parsee probably doesn't really need to "frame" the conversation other than prompting Yan to participate.
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[x] This boy needs some Taoist CBT

“What’s CBT—” Yan begins to ask, before Miko abruptly crosses in front of him and…

*SMACK*

Your head breaches the ceiling first, then the roof. You blink at the tiles flying in front of you before realizing that you are involuntarily shooting in an arc away from the temple. Looking down, you briefly see the humans of the temple give you a curious look before gravity starts pulling you down towards the temple gates.

You land on your head, skidding along the stone tiles to the entrance of the temple. You were too busy thinking about why you just said that in front of Toyosatomimi no Miko of all people, or how she can use her shikaisen powers to augment her ephemeral physical body enough to smack you that hard.

“Hey Parsee!” You look up to see Yamame leaning against the side of the gate. “You flew pretty high from that punch.”

“I didn’t see if she punched or kicked me.” You groan, rolling over and picking yourself off the ground. “How did that stuffy Taoist know what CBT meant?”

“Can’t she sense your desires? Even if she didn’t know what it meant she would’ve known it was something bad…assuming that’s something bad.”

You grimace. You had forgotten about that when you blurted out possibly one of the worst things you picked up from the human’s lnternet. “It’s something bad. But it’s not that bad. The reign of Shokotu definitely had something worse…”

Drip. Drip. Something warm and wet drips onto your cheeks. You smell iron.

You touch your cheek, and a red fingertip is the result. “I’m bleeding?”

“She didn’t also cut your head with her sword right?”

“No…” You touch the top of your head and wince. A good chunk of skin from your forehead is gone, but how? “Did I get it from scraping against the ground? Certainly nothing that minor would’ve breached the skin.”

Yamame looks you over. “Strange. I’m not sensing the beginning of any infection there at least, but how could someone like you get injured like that? You’re not as vulnerable as a human.”

“I’m not…human. Haven’t been for a long time.” You touch your wound again out of morbid curiosity. It still stings and now your eyesight is getting blinded by the dripping blood. “Do I have a towel somewhere? Any cloth? No…I just have my clothes. This suppressor wouldn’t have done this right?”

“That only suppresses outward forces, last time I had one on. Ugh, I didn’t leave house with any medical supplies either.” Yamame says. “I can spit some silk out, but weaving them into cloth without a loom is not going to be possible.”

You stare at each other. Of course youkai don’t carry around bandages when they go around. There’s no point. The world’s natural physical threats are of little concern to you. Everyone keeps some bandages around in case of actual threats, but simple gravity-induced scrapes shouldn’t even scratch you…and why isn’t this wound healing yet?

You look over at the temple. You are NOT going to ask for help from them. You then look down, see your scarf, and sigh.

“Blood comes out with enough washing.” You mutter to reassure yourself, wiping your face with it and then wrapping it around your head in a tight bind, before allowing Yamame to adjust it. As the scarf gets wet, you wince from the potential clothing damage, but at least you’re not blinded any more.

“I hope that’s not expensive.” The earth spider remarks as she finishes.

“I wove it myself, and I think this is actually your silk I bought to make it. Ah, being able to make your own clothing material must be so nice, paru~” Everything you wear is relatively new by youkai timescales. Your old scarves and clothes from all the way back then were long gone. Your body may be long-lived, but your possessions are not. After all, youkai are usually portrayed dressed in rags for a reason.

Soga no Tojiko floats by, giving you a glare.

“You gonna hit me too?” You ask.

She pretends to retch, and proceeds along, leaving you unsmited and a little disappointed.

After about an hour, the front gate to the temple opens, and the two emerge. Yan is missing his scarf, and he’s sniffling a bit, though he quickly (pretends?) to regain composure. Miko on the other hand has a thousand-yard stare .

You notice their clothing is disheveled, but not enough that you can make a reasonable assumption and thus a snarky comment. It could’ve been just Yan having a breakdown, or…

“Those claw marks are going to take a while to heal.” Miko says, looking at the red mark on her shoulder.

“Hey so you did—-” BONK Miko bops you on the head with one of her rods before you can finish the sentence. Lightly this time and not on the wounded part, but it still stings from the spiritual residue.

“So the scars this one has are buried deep, way deep, within sins that may never be forgiven. Sins that are not his.” Miko continues after ignoring your comment, while looking very disturbed. “To think the Dao in a country can be corrupted to such an extent…may Taishan have mercy.”

“Eh?” You have no idea what she’s saying.

“In laymen’s terms, he was in a bad Dao. That shouldn’t be possible as following the Dao, and thus your truest nature, IS good, but the Dao in his land was…wicked. Again, that should not be possible, but unless I have the time and opportunity to go to Seoul again and perform research on the matter, I can’t give a full answer or solution. That said.” She perks up again with the charismatic spark in her eyes. “I do have a stop-gap measure.”

Miko pulls out a white handkerchief and an ink brush set. Kneeling on the ground, she removes her earmuffs and begins humming a mantra you do not understand. She then inks the brush and holds it out, before closing her eyes.

Then, Miko begins swaying alongside the humming in a strange, erratic rhythm. To your surprise, the brush does not leave mere squiggles on the cloth, but rather recognizable Japanese characters. Slowly, but persistently, it comes out as a message.

“Live…on…as…you…deserve…until you finish reciting the digits of pi.” You read what she writes out. “What does that mean?”

Yan looks on with a completely blank expression. You have no idea what he’s thinking, even as he wordlessly picks up the cloth after Miko finishes writing. “Thank you, Weaver.” He says in a completely different tone than the meek, wavering one you were used to. This one is almost completely devoid of emotion and professionally smooth.

Miko gently nods, and puts away her brush set. “Do as the Dao of this land tells you. As for me…” she shakes her head, “I am going to go stare at a wall for a bit, and consider if I can’t ask one of the Sages to see if there’s any recent news about Korea. Oh and Miss Mizuhashi?”

“Yes?”

“Do not say that again, please.” There’s some sort of resignation in her voice.

You wonder how much alcohol Miko has stashed just for things like this as she goes back inside her temple. Wait, Taoism doesn’t have an alcohol or tobacco prohibition, what were you even feeling smug at her about? Why were you…feeling anything but jealousy. You also had an urge to tell Miko that you have Internet access, but thought better—-it would be too much trouble for you since Miko is definitely going to tell other people.

“Are you bleeding?” He asked.

“No.” You pointlessly lie.

He sighs, then asks, “What’s CBT? And why did Lady Miko hit you for it?” Yan asks as he carefully folds the handkerchief and puts it into his breast pocket.

“...You lived in the Outside, how did you—” That’s when you remembered: Korea has a pornography ban according to some of the grumbling users on your Discord. “...you’re too young to know.”

“I’m 25 you know, and I am not online most of the time like you.”

Did this Outsider just call you terminally online? “For your information then, it’s coc—”

“Kids! Next stop!” Horosha said as he comes out of the temple. “We gotta get these packages to the Village as soon as possible!”

“It’s noon!” You shout back. “Gensokyo’s not big enough to hurry like that!”

“It is when we can fit in a second delivery cycle today! Even without that, I would like to get lunch before 2!”

You look at Yan for his take, but he doesn’t seem to react aside from a small nod of acknowledgement.

“Where’s Kagerou?” You ask, not seeing the wolf-woman anywhere.

“She’s still in a lesson-service, said something about wanting to cultivate her chi and that she’ll catch up with us later if she feels like it.”

You have a weird feeling that Rinnosuke’s been importing some questionable choices in literature lately.

The Taoists are pretty close to the Village, so there’s not really that many interesting things to point out to Yan along the way as the ricefields and cattle are pretty close to what they have in Korea. He does however choose to ask you something on the way:

“Hey Parsee, if you’re going to keep playing New Vegas, what ending do you think you’re going to go for? The fate o…your...Courier?” Yan asks in a really odd tone, with a strange amount of iron in his usually meek voice.

“Honestly haven’t thought of it, even though I read a guide. I guess…”

[ ] NCR, easiest route and I really don’t feel like thinking too much
[ ] Caesar’s Legion, go full evil or go home, really
[ ] Mr. House, because I think he’s cool and I like money
[ ] No Gods No Masters, because I’m very basic
[ ] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone
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It would seem the prescripts given to a child of Gensokyo are much nicer than those given to children of the city.

Also, we deserved that.

No vote because I know absolutely nothing about New Vegas, even if nuking both sides because jealous sounds pretty Parsee.
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>bringing in prescripts again
at this point just use holy fire on it
or block counter dice, those work too
not voting out of principle, I cannot condone being a gamer
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone

Going the extra mile just to spite everyone is pretty on brand for Parsee.
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone

because she's jealous of everyone. clearly.
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone

This twisted game needs to be reset.
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone

>>17354
I somehow had the feeling I had to refresh the page before posting.
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone

Is there really another choice?
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>Yamame looks you over. “Strange. I’m not sensing the beginning of any infection there at least, but how could someone like you get injured like that? You’re not as vulnerable as a human.”

That seems concerning. I remember someone speculating that doing streaming instead of normal jealousy-gathering may be affecting Parsee's youkai nature, and that anon might have been on to something.
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>>17357
Anons believe that Parsee is roleplaying human.
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[X] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone

“Nuke both sides? I see…both sides…everyone.” He mutters. “That is a good option.”

“I wouldn’t call it good. But it is entertaining, and most certainly what every NPC in that game deserves for BLOCKING THE DAMN DOORWAYS.” You seethe. Someday, you are going to head Outside, find Todd Howard, and do terrible things to him for designing that shitty game engine. But that’s for another time.

The village itself was having its usual calm and peaceful day, devoid of the constant explosions that are the signifiers of an ongoing incident. Really, you figure that nothing is happening, and…hey.

You squint. Dumb hat. Dumb cape. Dumb glasses. It’s that one Outsider!

“Gimme a minute guys, I need to go to a business meeting.” You say as you take off after that Outsider at a dead run. She hears your footsteps, turns around to see you, and begins screaming and running away.

However, she is a human, and you are a youkai. You easily catch up to her and snag her by the cape.

“Ahhhh! What do you want with me?” She yells. “I have a gun and I’m not afraid to shoot myself with it!”

The villagers around her simply walk around you two. It seems this type of occurrence is not too uncommon.

“Sumireko Usami.” You say slowly while making your eyes glow without popping your powers, “I have a proposition. A business proposition.”

Sumireko stops struggling, and looks confused, “A business proposition. Hold on, who are you?”

“Mizuhashi Parsee, bridgekeeper of the Underground City.” You clear your throat, and begins forcing a more formal tone, “I have a steady source of income going to an unlinked Paypal account, but as Gensokyo is not connected to the Outside World’s banking system, I cannot access that money in a meaningful way. So, what I would like you to do, if you agree, is to link that account with your bank account, and every month, you take that money out in cash, and give it to me. You may keep…hmm…10% of the money as a fee? It’s easy money for you.”

Sumireko calms down a bit, and deliberately adjusts her glasses to seem more imposing. “So you have internet access somehow. Hmph, I learn something new about Gensokyo every time. What’s the catch here?”

You think for a good minute on this, “Can’t think of any. It’s really as simple as taking cash out from a bank and coming here with the goods. I can track the transfers and operate the paypal account anyway and terminate things if you try something funny.” You lean over in a threatening posture, “In addition to other things.”

The Outsider begins to hyperventilate again, but tries to calm herself down. “H-How much money are we talking about?”

You show her your Twitch earnings on your phone. Sumireko first exclaims, “You have this new model?” then, “That’s a decent starting amount, I thought you meant you stole someone else’s account or were doing something indecent…”

“Something indecent?”

Sumireko mumbles, “OnlyFans.”

A sudden burst of joy and glee bursts into you, as you grasp the terrified human by her shoulders and pull her close, “You’re jealous enough of my looks to think I should be on an adult site?”

“Uh, even ugly people do—GAH!”

“Hey everyone! The Outsider thinks I’m beautiful enough to post my body online!” You shout at your friends. “She’s jealous!”

“That’s not what I meant!” Sumireko screams. Yamame, Yan and Horosha just look confused, having no idea what you’re talking about.

“She’s jealous! She’s jealous! Jealous of my good looks! She thinks I can be in adult entertainment!”

“That REALLY is not what I meant! I was mostly joking!” Likely fearing the reactions of the villagers and your companions over your potential retribution, Sumireko grabs you by the collar (feebly, her strength doesn’t match up well with a youkai’s). “Please don’t say that I told you to do OnlyFans!”

“She’s telling me to do OnlyFans!”

You can almost see the question marks pop up on your friends’ heads. Yamame and Horosha are looking at you like you’ve gone insane, well, more than usual anyway. Yan however, seems to have caught on, and is reacting by closing his eyes and sighing.

“I don’t know what to say. Pornographic sites are banned in Korea.”

“What isn’t banned in Korea?” Horosha asks off-handedly.

“Suffering.” The human curtly replied.

“ALSO! Ugly people post on the site too! Lots of them!” Sumireko shouts at you, “Most of the people posting their nudes on the site are ugly!”

“Oh.” You say, suddenly disappointed. Sumireko lets go of your collar and sighs, patting herself down. “In that case I will likely not use that site.”
“You were seriously considering posting nude pictures of yourself on the internet?” Sumireko grimaces.

“Only if it makes people jealous.” You respond matter-of-factly. “But…”

The gears in your head grind to a halt. When have you ever considered yourself attractive? After all, if you were attractive, you wouldn’t have been a hashihime in the first place as you would have lived a normal, happy life with…who was he again? You don’t remember.

“Right, and I’m me.” You shrug, “I don’t have any of your good looks.”

“My…well I’m glad you recognize my charms.” Sumireko relaxes a bit, and looks rather smug as she puffs up her chest. “So, all that aside, should I provide you with my account number now? That is all you need to start transferring money over.”

You nod. Sumireko takes out a notepad and scribbles down a series of numbers, before handing it to you. “Here, enter this when it asks you for the account number when you link a bank account with your Paypal, and you can send the money over right away.”

You two shake on it, the air of tension that had dominated the room began to dissipate somewhat. Finally, you can see some of that sweet sweet twitch revenue, all thirty thousand yen of it currently in Paypal limbo. Perhaps you can buy yourself something nice…some new furniture for the house? A fresh set of clothes? More vidya? Or…or you can begin doing some native Gensokyean research on the horror movie monster that’s been stalking you, as the internet has not been helpful.
The Scarlet Devil Mansion’s library would be an ideal place to start, but getting legitimate access is a pain and a half, and unlike a certain black-and-white witch you’re not skilled in larceny, nor are you particularly eager to commit such a crime.

“Hey Parsee.” Yan calls over, “We are grabbing lunch at the ramen stalls in the square, you coming? Horosha says it’s good.”

“I’ll joining you. Gotta do something else first.” You say as you recall the bookstore, Suzunaan’s store times you saw on your earlier visit to the village. They have a thirty-minute lunch break so you should head over before that happens. It’s not the SDM, but it does stock books about odd phenomenon and the proprietress is obsessed with the subject.

The bookstore smells of fresh ink and paper, and you raise an eyebrow at the small shelf carrying natively produced manga (mostly tengu-drawn) next to the entrance. It’s been there for decades, actually, but you don’t know that because you never came in here before.

You were worried for a moment that being the only youkai in the bookstore meant that you would stick out like a sore thumb, but this fear was assuaged as you saw someone in a wheelchair at one of the reading desks…someone with the lower body of a fish.

“Wakasagihime?” You ask.

The mermaid turns, “Oh, it’s you!” She exclaims as she gets a good look, “You come into the village too?”

“Not frequently, Wakasagihime…can I just call you Waggy?” You ask the mermaid.

“No problem. Say, did you do anything with those knives yet?”

“Rinnosuke checked them out and said one of them was a sacrificial dagger of unknown origin. You think for a bit, “I’ve done some casual research and it seems to be related to the druids of Britain. However, what exactly it’s for isn’t clear. I was hoping it could help with a problem I have.”

“A problem? Can I help?”

“Not exactly…” You proceed to explain to her the issues with the goop entities and the incident with the razor trees, before asking again, “You think this is like those ‘eldritch horror’ things those new translated books say?”

“Isn’t that just a spriggan’s behavior you’re describing?”

“Eh?” You turn to see the bookstore’s proprietor, a relative young human woman with reddish hair and an apron, chime in. “A spriggan?”

“Fairies from the west that have power over the forests, cause misfortune, and most importantly, can create facsimiles of humans called changelings. I’m not sure how it’s been affecting your mental state, but I’m almost certain that the other factors are from a spriggan.”

“The trees it plants has also been killing other plantlife. From the fairies I know they shouldn’t be that aggressive. Wait.” You reconsider this, “Fairies here are this aggressive! They’re just too weak to hurt anyone usually. I suppose that makes sense. But…what does it want with me in particular?”

Kosuzu raises a finger, then lowers it. “That…I have no idea.”

“It may just like you, or perhaps it has no particular interest in you and the encounters you had were simply coincidental?” Waggy says.

“No it must be because of my…successful career as a…amateur painter?” You scratch your head and ears. What would a fairy have to be jealous of you? “Or is it something simple like just having sugar? Fairies love sugar…but everyone Underground has at least a bit of sugar now that the Dark Blowhole’s been open for a while.”

“Could it be…” Kosuzu was going to say something before being interrupted by a loud racket outside. The sounds of women screaming and yowling ring out along with what appeared to be a fistfight.

Going out, you see, with quite some horror, that the red-white miko is yelling at a dazed and dustied Sumireko who doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. Upon seeing you, her wrath turns towards your face, and a couple of talismans fly for your mug. You wince as they affix themselves to you and wait for them to detonate…and wait…and wait.

“Eh?” You peel them off and stare at them: the talismans have not activated. A hard bonk on your noggin causes you to look up again.

“Damn discount paper.” Reimu curses after hitting you on the head with her gohei. “Knew they were going fail on me one day.”

“Can I…help you?” You ask, cautiously.

“You! Whatsyername! You know how much trouble her little ‘field trips’ cause? And now you’re using her to bring in MORE things from the Outside!” Reimu screams, “Do you have any idea how much more counterweight I have to maintain just so people don’t get spirited away?”

“I mean she’s just bringing in money…”

Reimu freezes, and you can almost see the gears turning in her head as something about the last word in that sentence triggers what appears to be a primal reflex. As her eyes gleam, you realize what she is about to say.

“Money…how much money?” She says, her voice dripping with anticipation.

You ARE terrified of the red-white miko, but perhaps this is a good time to grow a backbone…or perhaps a good time to learn to swallow your pride.

[ ] Give Reimu a cut of the money
[ ] Refuse to back down and challenge her to a danmaku duel
[ ] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors

=========================

A/N: I can hear a soft and gentle voice in my head...
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[X] Refuse to back down and challenge her to a danmaku duel

I WILL NEVER PAY TAXES AS LONG AS I LIVE!
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[X] Refuse to back down and challenge her to a danmaku duel
Taxes do not belong in Gensokyo.
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[x] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors
Rule number one is to never ever fuck with the IRS - but it doesn't mean you can't negotiate.
Also a favor with Reimu means a get out of gay baby jail free card.

>Someday, you are going to head Outside, find Todd Howard, and do terrible things to him for designing that shitty game engine.
Many with conviction greater than yours faltered at the face of Godd.
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[X] Give Reimu a cut of the money

Funny life hack.

Skip danmaku scene to see Reimu get in trouble later. Win/Win.
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[X] Give Reimu a cut of the money
-[X] ...by throwing them in the air

She will be very jealous of our newfound wealth!
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>>17386
With money we don't even have yet?

It's only sensible that "honest" work is done for "honest" pay, to simply take our money would be stealing.
Even tax allegedly contributes to paying for some kind of service by the government, so clearly that's not the case here. Just ignore the whole "maintaining the border" stuff, Reimu's not gonna think too hard about "free" money.
So instead we negotiate a mutually beneficial bribe arrangement.
It's just good business.

[x] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors

The only thing is that she actually has stolen from youkai before: such as Toki's books and Kogasa's needles, but imagine the stink we could raise about this.
She either just beats us up and steals our money, which means we can spread the news around about how the Hakurei miko is an extortionist; or she takes the money and if she gets cold feet later we can blackmail her for taking bribes.
Now that sounds like some Parsee-brand fantasy.
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[x] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors

Honestly, the Parsee fantasy here is the jealousy obtained by her having money and Reimu not having money.

The problem is, that's also a one way trip to getting yin-yang-nuked, so let's settle for getting a manageable advantage here.
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[x] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors
>>17388
Could always negotiate an amount just low enough that its a constant reminder you have more money, without making her well off enough to not worry about it.
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[x] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors

Do the talismans look forward to being used?
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[x] Give Reimu a cut of the money

Finally found the time to catch up. This Sumireko is funny. She's probably terminally online too huh.

Anyhow Reimu's probably not someone she wants as an enemy. Even if Parsee is becoming more human as she gets corrupted by the internet. Doesn't stop her from getting beaten up the old fashioned way.
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[X] Give Reimu her cut on the condition that she owes you favors

“Favors?” The shrine maiden gazed at you with narrowed eyes, “What sort of favors?”

“You are the Hakurei shrine maiden, surely you can think of something? Perhaps…extermination on request, once per month? Ooh, or you can bless my house! I could use some warding talismans right now.”

“How…why…would someone like you, a youkai, need such services?”

“Oh trust me.” You reassure with a pained expression, “I have certain issues I am dealing with right now that demand your expertise. How’s a five percent cut sound to you? That would be fifteen hundred yen for this month.”

“Fifteen hundred yen…” You can see her drooling. “That covers all the rice I need for the month! Alright! I’ll be taking that as a donation as soon as Sumireko over here comes in with the money!”

Taxes. By engaging with the greater Gensokyean economy outside of Satori giving you cash for maintaining the bridge, you have began needing to pay taxes. You’re not quite sure what gives Reimu the right to charge taxes, but you figured that she’d beat you up if you didn’t give her something.

Besides, you feel rather nice as you see her continue on about what she can do with the money. It’s definitely a form of jealousy to be so joyous at being given a small portion of their wealth. To think that the Hakurei shrine maiden will feel jealous of a lowly youkai like you…well, she would be jealous of anyone with money, to be fair.

Money.

Is that the key to eliciting jealousy? Or is the fact that you have the skills to make money that makes people jealous? Do you even need to be a hashihime any more to elicit jealousy? Or would any hashihime eventually start getting ambitious and do something like this? You do not know any other hashihime in Japan, or the world, for that matter. For all you know, you could be the only one of your species in existence.

“Hey Parsee!” Yamame greets you as you walk over to the ramen stall. “Got you deal through with that Outsider?”

“Yes indeed. Finally, I can get my secondary income through. Might even buy some more silk off of you, Yamame.” You reply as you take a seat next to the group and order a spicy braised beef ramen, your usual choice. “Hope this one is good.”

“It’s one of my personal favorite lunch spots for trips to the village.” Horosha says, “Mr. Izumi here,” He waves at the proprietor, “Keeps some dried crickets and cicada shells on hand just for me and the few other earth spiders allowed in the village for work.”

You don’t have any unusual ingredients you want, except…”You got any hogweed seeds?”

“Sure do.” The proprietor responds without looking back. “How much of it do you want in your ramen broth?”

“Huh.” You were sure they wouldn’t have those in Gensokyo, or Japan for that matter. “Half a teaspoon, please.”

As your ramen is prepared, you check your phone to see what the dweebs on your Discord are posting.

======

BlackTea: Children, do be aware that what you post on here is viewable by unwelcome eyes

Sandwich Enthusiast: American platform, KCSC doesn’t have a backdoor. At most we have to worry about Tencent or CIA snooping.

Rift Maiden (JP): She’s not talking about humans

BlackTea: :thinking emoji: How did you know I’m a woman?

Rift Maiden (JP): There are entities that are born from and live off the information from the Internet, and interestingly enough the more powerful the people posting them, the more sentient they become. So be wary.

Sandwich Enthusiast: :thinking emoji: Are you assuming that we’re powerful?

Sandwich Enthusiast: I’m just a grade 9 bottom feeder in Korean society

Rift Maiden (JP): False.

Rift Maiden (JP): [personal information deleted by auto-moderator]

Sandwich Enthusiast: heyo that’s not cool

[Rift Maiden (JP) has been banned (10000 years) by IAmFire.]

BanhammerBot: Zero tolerance for doxxing

IAmFire: You are so lucky I have your names and addresses on a filter

Sandwich Enthusiast: how did you find the time to moderate so much anyway? Aren’t you [personal information deleted by auto-moderator]?

IAmFire: maternity leave

Sandwich Enthusiast: you’re married and have kids? how did Section 1 [personal information deleted by auto-moderator] find someone fireproof enough, both physically and emotionally, to wed a literal dragon?

[Sandwich Enthusiast has been banned (24 hours) by IAmFire.]

BanhammerBot: Once the child goes to sleep I’m going to come show you how you are courting death

=====

“Hey.”

“What?” You turn to Yan.

“You get the feeling that you just want to do something? With no reason?” He says, staring at his ramen, which you note has several chunks of konjac in it. “I…want to learn how to cook ramen myself, from scratch, without a soup packet or pre-prepped ingredients.

“Wait what…oh…” You have to wrack your head a bit to remember that the Outside World has many culinary conveniences that Gensokyo lacks or rejected. “Yeah it’s not that hard, most of the work is in the broth really. Is Ramen that good to you?”

“It’s not like I particularly like it…though I do greatly enjoy konjac in the broth, I just want to try something new. For no reason.”

“Most interesting things in Gensokyo happen when someone gets bored. You know our lovely Underground? It only opened up to the surface world after a goddess decided to kickstart an industrial revolution, with some success.” You gesture at the utility poles around the village. “But she started off by force feeding one of Lady Satori’s pet ravens the corpse of Yatagerasu, the sun crow, and that particular raven decided to try consuming the surface world in a nuclear apocalypse because she misheard the goddess’s commands.”

Yan stared at you, disbelief in his eyes. “And that was just an event that…happened? No lasting societal impacts?”

“It was pretty hush-hush all things considered.” You grimace, “I got beaten black and blue by the incident resolvers crossing the bridge, yet even I didn’t even know why they were down here until Satori told me. Besides, things like that happen all the time. People are used to it.”

He nods, “True, that’s the case in Korea as well. Political scandals, large-scale crimes and other such activity happen without anyone caring after their fifteen minutes of attention in the media. Is this apathy here too?”

“Less apathy and more that no harm happens in the long term. Things do not cause deaths beyond extremely rare cases, and the youkai are forbidden from physically harming the human citizenry of this land. It is a walled playpen for those who are forgotten, after all. Padded and with guard rails. Not that I care.” You sigh as you clack your chopsticks for emphasis, “What matters is that I can live on the bridge and feed off the jealousy of passersby, unto eternity.”

“Unto eternity?” He asked quietly.

“Well, youkai do not live forever, but our lives are long enough that events blur together…for better or for worse, I do not know what I’ve forgotten. Nor care anymore.”

“Do you care for anything at all other than your desire for jealousy?”

“Hmm.” Your adaptation to modernity causes you to instinctively check your phone again before answering.

=====

UR_TOO_SLOW: there’s a chinese housewife and a string bean-looking guy slapfighting on the street below me

UR_TOO_SLOW: should I be worried

UR_TOO_SLOW: i’m literally hearing muffled boss music

dark_quietude: nah ur fine, ur just a schizo

WolfgangMozart: get your phone and stream it bro

WolfgangMozart: WHO WILL WIN? PLACE YOUR BETS!


Poll: Slapfight winner

[ ] Chinese Food
[ ] String Bean

=====
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[X] Chinese Food
I can't immediately place this particular event as a Project Moon reference, so I'll bet the "housewife" is actually the landlady from Kung Fu Hustle.
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[X] Chinese Food

Xiao is the great filter, and Roland doesn't have the support of the library behind him. He's toast. (Unless his better half joins in, anyway.)

>>17396
It's not actually something that happened in LoR canon, but to spell it out, IAmFire (Xiao) is showing Sandwich Enthusiast (Roland) how he's courting death.
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>>17397
Ah, of course, thanks for pointing out. But I'll still stick with my vote in that case.
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[x] Chinese Food
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[x] String Bean
lolan doesn't have the library for Pinocchio combo, but I am fire~ shouldn't have her E.G.O. up (she's not going mad) so it's "just" her first form
between the greatsword, shotgun and durandal on the weaker strikes, grade 9 scrub will absolutely mop the floor with her without the library if it's just her, and it looks like it's just the two of them
imagine doing this over a discord conversation
well, it could be worse, they could be clerks instead
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Honestly it's been so long since I used IRC that my brain couldn't decide whether the auto-mod was scrubbing just the info from Sandwich's messages or if he was taking the piss and just writing [personal information deleted by auto-moderator] every time.

Then my brain cell started up again and of course he's taking the piss; it'd kill his whole message if it got filtered.

Also. Y'know. Imagine actually doxxing.

[X] Chinese Food
-[X] COURTING DEATH
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[X] Chinese Food

Base String Bean should be easy. The observer specifically states the combatant is a male, so Sandwich Enthusiast obviously isn't using the mask/gloves. Dragon girl wins this one hands-down.
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[X] Chinese Food

Damn can't believe Yukari just doxx'd Roland, right after his child was born too. Anyhow Roland wins this if he's going all out, but in washed up mode Xiao beats him. This is also post relationship Xiao and Roland, so Xiao has the love buff while Roland doesn't have his angst energy.
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[X] Chinese Food

You hit the little dumpling option on the poll, and then set your phone down. “I do care for things which are not jealousy…I mean, I do not…I do?”

Yan watches as you fumble with your chopsticks in an effort to think, “I care for food, water, sleep, even if youkai technically do not need these things to live.” You say to him.

“We do to a degree, Parsee.” Horosha chimes in from the other end of the stall. “So if you were sacrificing sleep or food for your new ‘streaming’ endeavors, please do not. It is one thing if you are hibernating, but for someone who’s as recently active as yourself, you need them, as youkai are still mortal and living for the purposes of spiritual needs.”

“Okay grandpa.” You reply. He’s right though. You got very sick when you neglected food and drink in one of your sulking episodes.

“Anything…greater in life?”

“No. What’s the point?

“Umm…doesn’t everyone have higher desires? For instance, would you like to become a more popular streamer?”

“To harvest more jealousy.”

“And nothing more?”

“And nothing…well, perhaps the modest fame and fortune is nice too. After all, youkai are just as human as anyone else in that regard.” You clack your chopsticks again for emphasis, “After all, there’s a lorelei and a yamabiko pursuing a career of punk rock music here, so I am not even the first youkai to pick up a modern Outsider hobby.”

“There’s a WHAT?”

“Youkai punk rock band. They live in the forest over yonder. Or so I’ve heard.”

“Hmm.” Yan seems to be pondering whether or not he should check it out, while you check your phone again.

=====

dark_quietude: brb, hubby got a boo-boo

hippogryph bae: did you sock him on the head again

dark_quietude: not me this time

I Am Fire: 🏆

dark_quietude: hey fuck you only I get to commit domestic violence on him

I Am Fire: It is not domestic violence, merely normal violence.

dark_quietude: and turning into a dragon for a slapfight is cheating

I Am Fire: It is an absence of skill and expertise to not be able to overcome such a trifling gift, or to underestimate it by having eyes that cannot see Mt. Tai.

dark_quietude: we visited Mt. Tai on our honeymoon though

I Am Fire: He should obtain some prescription glasses then.

LoboWell: T_T I guess I owe him a case of beer for this

=====

“So people Outside beat each other up for fun as well, eh?”

Yan looks over at the screennames, then sighs, “No, these people are just weird. They know each other in real life so it is closer to a friendly brawl than anything. As you read, they were only using their bare hands. It also helps that they are strong enough wherein a fist or bullet to the head will only mildly inconvenience.

“So they really are like us youkai!”

The boy shrugs, “I suppose? It does seem rather odd to me how Gensokyo has such a rigorous maintenance on the segregation of humans and youkai. There’s a similar law regarding artificial intelligence in Korea, but you would not be considered a non-human under it. To me, you all seem like humans.”

Yamame looks as though she is about to say something, and then decides against it, going back to her noodles. You consider for a moment about his words, “So even though you know our existence predicates upon the Barrier transmuting disbelief into belief for us to sustain a corporal form, we are still human?”

“If you originate from a human, you are a human. The law itself is very vague and contradictory, but someone like you is almost definitely covered as human, as you were originally one.”

“If you’re going to define it that way. Does it really matter?” Yamame pipes up now, “Korea still allows animals to exist within its borders right? So me, an animal turned youkai born of human superstitions about diseases, would also qualify?”

Yan purses his lips. “Hmm…” He takes out a scrap of paper, closes his eyes, and then uses his pen to randomly jab at it, leaving dots of ink in a vague pattern. After a minute, he opens his eyes, squints, and turns towards you, “Um, is this Japanese? I cannot read it.”

You look at the ink pattern. “It says ‘Yes’ in an archaic way.”

“Whoa. I did not think that would work.” His normally squinted eyes widen, a rare occurrence, you note. “So yes, Yamame, you would be considered human.”

It occurs to you that Yan may in fact be considered a non-human by Gensokyo’s definition even if Korea still defines him as human. But does this matter? You’re not the Hakurei shrine maiden, you have no reason to care whether or not someone is a human or youkai. Especially for someone like you who does not eat human flesh (much) in the first place. Jealousy from either human or youkai both work the same way.

=====

WolfgangMozart: Congratulations on all those who voted for Chinese food! As per the honor system I will be Kakaopaying or Paypaling all of you 5000 won.

=====

You DM him your Paypal email, and then turn back to your noodles. 5000 won is just over 500 yen, so you’re not too excited about getting the equivalent of a large fruit tart’s worth of money. But money is money, and it’s 500 extra yen that you get to make Reimu feel jealous when you interact with her next week. You’re not happy about paying taxes, but to make the shrine maiden jealous is worth more than mere money.

And as long as you hold on to this part of you, you’re…



You’re something coherent, at least.

“Hey mister?” You turn to see a little boy tug on Yan’s shirt. “I lost my cat, can help me find it?”


“Um…” Yan looks around, only to realize that he was picked because he seemed like the least busy and nonthreatening adult in the area, as his noodle bowl had been emptied (rather quickly, you note the boy slurps up the stuff faster than the oni) and well, he looks the way he does. “Sure…”

You sniff the air. The child (actual) doesn’t smell like a youkai in disguise, and even if they are Yan can probably handle them. Still, you can’t help but feel like you should come along.

“I’ll come help too.” You say, downing the whole bowl in one go and auspiciously slamming down the handful of yen bills to pay for it.

The child looks at you and shirks, eyes widening. You recognize that, compared to Yan, a youkai like you who isn’t even bothering to hide her pointy ears and inhumanly green eyes may be a red flag. However, the boy (adult) stands up for you, “It’s okay…um…”

“Seo…”

“Yes, Seo, sir. Parsee is a friend, you can trust her. My name is Yan, by the way.”

“I thought your name was Ian.” You snark at him.

“Please drop it for now.”

“Getting assertive now, are we?”

He lets out an uncharacteristic “tssk” sound, but doesn’t respond to your teasing further. The child still looks at you with suspicion, but does not object to you as you and Yan follow him away from the square.

“I last saw Yon over here two hours ago!” The child says as he leads you to a deserted alley. It would be unsettling if the two of you weren’t the most horrifying things here. “But he ran away when I approached him…”

You smell the air again. “Hmm, I do smell cat, but no human…I do smell fox though. Hope it wasn’t what I thought it was.”

Yan pokes around the corner, “No human? But I can see footprints on the cobbles. Small ones.”

“You can?” You and the child look over to where he’s pointing. “I can’t see anything.”

“Oh right, my eyes have had basic augmentations. UV sight.” He looks a little embarrassed, “I forgot Japan doesn’t have those yet.”

The child seems confused as to what that is. “He can see things that are normally invisible.” You explain.

“Did Yon turn invisible?”

“Not unless he somehow achieved nekomata-dom within two hours, no. Unless you left out that he had two tails?”

“Yon had no tails, actually. He lost his to a rabid dog.”

“Huh.” Poor thing. “Anyways, Yan, can you trace those footprints?”

The invisible footprints lead a hundred meters away from the alleyway to a nearby run-down house. Again, would be creepy if you and Yan weren’t youkai or youkai-adjacent.

“The windows are boarded up.” Yan observes, “Wouldn’t buildings like this in a pre-modern settlement normally be repaired and occupied again?”

“Um, momma told me there was a bad person who lived here before. She tortured cats and dogs and was cast out of the village when she was found out. That was a long time ago though, but nobody wants to live here.” The child suddenly froze up, “No! Don’t tell me her ghost is here to torture Yon!”

Okay, now it’s a little creepy. Just a little bit.

“I don’t think an evil ghost would tend the garden.” Yan notes, brushing his hand against the bushes seemingly growing wild in the abandoned, derelict yard. “These plants are not weeds: they’re all uniformly wineberries and their growth indicates that they have been pruned and watered regularly.”

“How do you know this?” You ask.

“Being a courier in Korea requires you to know if a house is abandoned or fake-abandoned, as often times a person will pretend to leave their house to avoid the National Tax Service, unwanted relatives, or other things. Since it was imperative that my delivery items reach their destination, knowing how to spot a house that’s still occupied is essential to saving time.”

You note that he’s puffing up his chest a little upon saying that, as if proud of this fact. To be fair, that is pretty impressive. You probably should pick up on this skill.

He proceeds to stick his ear to the door. “I can hear mewing. There’s a cat inside, but no other sound, though.” He tests the door. “Unbarred.”

“Well let’s go inside then to get the cat.” You nudge the door open. Inside is sort of what you expect from the interior of an abandoned house, but even without Yan’s intuition skills, you pick up on the lack of dust in many areas, ashes in the firepit and the presence of a makeshift box bed made of half a fruit crate filled with straw, and covered with a ratty quilt. The cat is clearly visible, sitting on top of the bed like it owns the place, as cats are wanton to do.

“Yon!” Seo runs over and embraces the cat, who does not resist being scooped up. “You’re safe! Oh. Why do you smell like fish?”

“Someone’s been feeding him, obviously.” You say as you move over to a closed cabinet where the smell of fish and fox is rather strong, “Someone…here.”

You open the cabinet, revealing a frightened looking child with a pair of obvious fox ears and a tail, clutching a half-eaten trout in his hands. Amusingly, you watch him close his eyes and attempt to transform, and fail, reverting to a fox halfway before reforming.

“A youkai!” Seo points and yells, before looking at you, “Um…sorry miss.”

“No it’s fine, I don’t care.” You turn back to look at the fox child, who has began to sob, and then over at Yan. For some reason, that one has frozen up like a deer in the headlights for some reason. Weird.

[ ] Hi there, my name is Mizuhashi Parsee, what’s your name?
[ ] Heyo, what’s up. You’re looking awfully sus in there, you little ‘idiot’ (English)
[ ] (Wait for him to speak first)
[ ] It’s a happy little accident that we found you here. Come on out little friend.
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[X] It’s a happy little accident that we found you here. Come on out little friend.
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[x] (Wait for him to speak first)

Creepily stare down a scared, sobbing yokai child in a cramped closet with your glowy green eyes while your companions watch on in awkward silence.
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[X] Hi there, my name is Mizuhashi Parsee, what’s your name?

lol& jobbing as expected.
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[X] It’s a happy little accident that we found you here. Come on out little friend.
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[X] It’s a happy little accident that we found you here. Come on out little friend.

The fox child lets out a yeep sound, and attempts to cover himself using the mass of his own tail. You frown. You’re not a human, why is this one frightened by you?

“I…let me try.” Yan says as he seems to snap out of his stupor. Retrieving a stick of…teriyaki salmon jerky? From his coat pocket, he kneels down and offers it to the child, “H…here…” He says with a bit of a stutter, “You want to try something tasty?”

Peeking out from between the hairs of his tail fluff, the small youkai child reaches out and cautiously takes the jerky. Seeing that Yan made no hostile move, he seems to relax slightly, and begin chewing on the dried fish.

“Animals trust you more if you offer food.” Yan explains before you ask. “I suppose, animal youkai are no exception.”

You never really interacted with children, youkai or otherwise, as the oni children underground have a tendency to not know their own strength and toss you around like a ragdoll when roughhousing. Aside from that, the jealousy of children is quite bland, as they are routinely jealous of everything they don’t have.

Just.

Like.

You.

The small fox chewed on the jerky, his expression softening and his form relaxing. Yan sighs, and looks at the human child Seo, “Would you mind not telling about this boy hiding here? He doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone.

The boy hugs his cat tightly and nods, “He fed Yon and has not eaten him, so I think he’s a good youkai.”

“You think youkai eat cats?” You ask, somewhat incredulous.

“Mmm…maybe not you, but my grandpa says youkai that come from a place outside of Gensokyo called Korea eat cats.”

You see Yan kind of shove his hands in his pockets and sigh. “I don’t think that’s necessarily true.” You say, “But regardless, you won’t tattle, right?”

“No, ma’am.” The child says with a straight back. “You will probably eat me if I do.”

“I won’t, but sure.” You wave the kid off as he leaves the house with his cat. “Now, as for you…”

“Youkai…aren’t supposed to be living in the village, right?” Yan asks cautiously.

“Not openly, no.” You recall how one of the workers at a dessert shop here was obviously a rokurokubi or dullahan of some sort wearing a high collar to cover up her neck seam, but the owners had turned a blind eye to it as she did the job of three people at once frequently. “This is pretty openly though.”

“But…” Yan turns his eyes to the rest of the content in the cabinet. There are some linguistics textbooks and notebooks, well-used, alongside an inkwell and brush. “Are you learning how to read and write?”

You note that these books have a subtle stamp in their corner. “Suzanaan”. Right, from the village’s bookstore. Was this fox child stealing from there? Or was Kosuzu giving them to him?

The fox child nods, looking at Yan with his big watery yellow eyes.

“Want…” Yan swallows, pauses,and then continues, “Want me to teach you? Learning by yourself must be hard.”

“Is your Japanese good enough to teach?”

He thinks for a moment, then cracks a smile. “Yes.”

=====

“He’s busy.” You say simply when the old spider questions you on where Yan went. “Making a friend.”

“Eh, young people.” Horosha shrugs. “In that case, you’re up, Parsee. We’re flying back home, then hauling gems to the tengu and then back to the village again.”

“Am I getting paid?”

“Just take half of his at the end of the day.”

As it turns out, the tengu had remained as ornery as ever. The white wolves on the mountain stopped you from going any further than the border with kappa territory, and accepted their delivery without a single word of thanks, just the usual suspicious glares that indicate you’re not welcome and that they’re merely tolerating your presence.

You internally fumed quite a bit afterwards, complaining to Yamame, “They don’t properly mine their own perfectly good mountain, and yet they don’t appreciate the cheap gems the Underground puts out? What…incredible arrogance. I’m jealous…no, I’m not jealous of that, I am irritated.”

“They have a gem mining operation, but not for the normal gems we’re delivering.” Yamame replied, chewing on a…is that a cricket she picked up on the road? “Something about dragon orbs? I don’t know.”

“Weird.” Who knows what these high-and-mighty tengu are up to anyway? Even in the past they’ve fancied themselves as distant fair folk compared to humans, making them the western elves of Japan, or something like that. You only know the basics through video games.

Hold on, didn’t Kosuzu say something about the creature haunting you being a western elf? What if they were really a tengu screwing with you?

Hurrying back to the village, you practically burst into the bookstore, scaring Waggy who was sitting near the door so much that she does an instinctual backflip and flop.

“WHOA!”

“Uh…my apologies.” You look around at the interior, finding no pink human, and so you ask the mermaid. “Where’s the girl keeping the store?”

“Miss Motoori? She went out a couple minutes ago to pick up ink. You looking for her?” Waggy says, picking herself off the ground. Unconsciously, you help her back into her wheelchair.

“Alright, I suppose I will wait here for her.”

You do exactly that for all of ten seconds, before getting impatient. Twenty seconds later, you have walked out of the door and into the streets, heading in the vague direction of the ink shop.

“Surely a tengu would not kidnap her right in this village”, your super-ego tells you. On the other hand “She could be getting kidnapped right now, and saving her will make others jealous of you!” your ego exclaims.

Unfortunately, there was no tengu. Well, other than the one snapping pictures from a rooftop for some reason. You give her the finger, a rude gesture you learned from westerners on the internet, but the reporter tengu just seems confused, giving you a head tilt.

Kosuzu was at the ink shop, struggling to carry a rather heavy load of the stuff in unground form. You do not see a branch snaking its way towards her, and you do not dispatch it with the serpentine dagger you now carry on you, using your foot to stomp on it before slicing it apart. Hmm? You thought you saw something strange, but it’s just her and a load of ink bricks.

“Hey, let me get that for you.” You offer her a hand. Nodding graciously, Kosuzu shifts one of the boxes over to you, but to her surprise you take the whole load. You are still a youkai after all. To your annoyance, however, you do not sense any jealousy from this girl at this act.

“Thank you! Miss…Parsee, was it?” Kosuzu says, “You’re turning out to be much friendlier than what Akyuu wrote down!”

You weren’t. But now you are. “Yes…tell her to change it, perhaps?”

“I will!”

She chatters about random topics all the way back to the store, and you drone out most of it. Only when you reach the door of Suzanaan do you realize that she was trying to find a topic you were interested in to talk about.

“Oh right!” You exclaim with fake enthusiasm, interrupting her. “You were teaching me a lot about western fairies earlier. Can you…proceed? I want to know why they would go to the effort of making fake humans”

“Of course!” Little surprise that someone who spends their whole life around books would be very eager to demonstrate their knowledge from them. That’s what you think, anyway. “The western tales tell of how spriggans, alongside many other fairies, would steal human children by replacing them with replicas of wood or similar materials, that act as humans but with flaws that reveal their inhuman nature. The sources are varied as to whether they are trying to get humans to raise their children for them, or if they preferred human children to their own.”

You peer at the book quizzically. “But humans are mostly flaws.”

“Discretion, my dear Parsee.” Kosuzu puffs out her chest, “Discretion. In this case, the flaws are in ways humans consider inhuman, such as awkward speech patterns, obsessions with subjects that their societies would consider abnormal, physical deformities. Things like that.”

You’re not very happy being talked down to like this by a human several centuries younger than you, but right now, she’s the one with the knowledge, and you are not (also, you’re the one that asked). Swallowing your urge to invoke your powers, you ask, “Wouldn’t that mean many human children be mistaken as such creatures?”

Kosuzu taps the book, “The modern theory in the outside world is that the whole mythos was a way for parents to rationalize abandonment or even infanticide of children they saw as abnormal. This is, of course, pre-supposing a world where fairies do not exist.” She looks out the window, and you follow her gaze. Around the corner, there’s a poorly disguised fairy dragging a sack of coffee beans, likely stolen. “We know they do. Or did.”

Considering the average intelligence of a fairy, you can hardly conceive of a world where they would have the motivation, let alone the means to kidnap human children and raise them. As far as your knowledge of Gensokyo’s roster goes, only tengu would do this, but only as temporary pranks, never with any serious intent of parenthood. Some other youkai, such as that mountain hag living over in tengu territory who you’re pretty sure was the same one that raised a certain golden boy a couple centuries ago, do raise children, but only orphans that wander into their domain.

There was also the Ame-Onna, but you’re not sure if one exists in Gensokyo. You’ve been called one several times by humans, but that was just them being racist and not being able to tell one type of horrific banshee from another.

“These spriggans…we don’t have one in Gensokyo, do we?”

Kosuzu freezes. Looking around furtively, she leans in closer and whispers, “I did not tell you this, but my friend Akyuu suspects the youkai of the Garden of the Sun to be a descendant of sorts from a western nature spirit, similar to a spriggan.”

You recall having dealt with Yuuka last week. Was that why she wanted the tree despite its corrupting properties…or how she was unaffected by whatever mental pollution it emitted? Because she was kin?

“You’re definitely onto something…” You swallow, “Thank…you…Kosuzu. I’ll go ask her if she knows more…”

“Wait!” Kosuzu holds up a hand, “You’re going to ask HER directly? She’s a little…antisocial.”

For you, not really, but you can’t discount the possibility she might get mad at you for asking about something like this. “You got a better way?”

“Hmm…Reimu and her friend Marisa claimed to have fought her in the past, when they were still teenagers, in Makai. It’s not that long ago, but maybe they would know something?”

[ ] Go ask Yuuka directly about this. Surely she’ll be open to discussing her past.
[ ] Inquire indirectly. Swallow your pride and ask the shrine maiden and the forest witch about Yuuka.
[ ] Ignore this line of inquiry. Bold of you to assume that all druid types know each other? Also there’s only a suspicion at the moment that the thing stalking you is a spriggan in the first place.
[ ] Consult Bob Ross

===========

A/N: How do I write about people becoming better if I myself am trash?
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Hmm, today I'll [x] Go ask Yuuka directly about this. Surely she’ll be open to discussing her past.
(clueless)



>A/N
Find someone who sees treasures in trash. Ask them what the valuable aspects of the things they choose are. Look, genuinely, if you can see these values (in yourself) as well.
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[X] Inquire indirectly. Swallow your pride and ask the shrine maiden and the forest witch about Yuuka.

Discretion is the better part of valor.
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[x] Go ask Yuuka directly about this. Surely she’ll be open to discussing her past.

But serious, cause Parsee is one of the few Touhous who can probably ask this of Yuuka and not eat a Master Spark. We already are on decent terms with her, we have a good reason to be looking into this, and Yuuka feels like someone who would be more upset about discretely inquiring about her past as opposed to just outright asking her.
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[x] Consult Bob Ross

Consult with the Progenitor Spirit.
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[x] Go ask Yuuka directly about this. Surely she’ll be open to discussing her past.

The quickest way to answers.
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[X] Go ask Yuuka directly about this. Surely she’ll be open to discussing her past.

Fortunately for you, today apparently was shopping day for this youkai, as you spot her perusing the goods at the village’s gardening shop.

Gardening has become a different art than farming, as casual conversations you had around the village had revealed. The growing popularity of impractical and demanding, yet aesthetically and olfactorily pleasing flowers, bushes and trees have taken root in the Human Village, and as a result their required soils, fertilizers and other botanical ingredients traditionally reserved for the rich have become popular enough to require dedicated businesses.

“Oh, it’s you.” Yuuka says plainly, with no hint of joy nor disdain as you greet her, “Are you here to browse the flowers too?”

“Yes.” You half-lie, though the petunias near you seem awfully pretty to you today. “I wanted to consult you regarding a subject I’m sure you’re an expert in.”

“More odd trees?”

“Spriggans.”

Yuuka raised her eyebrows, giving an extremely rare expression of bewilderment. “W…why would you like to know about those? They do not exist in Gensokyo. I would know.”

“My apologies if I sound offensive, but I thought that a plant-oriented youkai like yourself would be knowledgeable about other youkai in the same…genera? Especially someone as long-lived as you.”

“Quite presumptuous of you to assume that I would be familiar with a fairy that existed a whole hemisphere away, given how I am a Japanese youkai like most. However…” She hefted her parasol and regained her usual aloof and smug posture. “I do know of spriggans due to a spot of travel I have done in the past, but let me confirm this beforehand: I am not related to them, not a single bit.”

Yuuka raises an eyebrow when you simply move forward with the inquiry. “I’m interested in one aspect of their existence that confounds me: The kidnappings. Yes, I am very envious of their capability to use changelings to do so…but to what end? Why do they desire to raise human children?”

“They were humans.”

“Eh?” You watch as Yuuka turns away, eyeing a bag of potting soil to avoid eye contact with you.

“The earliest changelings and other kidnapping fairies were simple humans. Either driven from their homes by others or abandoned by their families to die in the woods, the few that survived did so by making deals with the native fairies in the woods, the entities that I can represent. Their bodies were warped and their minds were twisted, but they survived.”

You see several small children in the store had been eavesdropping on your conversation, interested in the fearsome youkai lady telling a tale.

“Still, they desired to return to their homes. Many thought if they had a family with healthy human children, perhaps of the right faith, they would be accepted back into the world of warm fireplaces and solid roofs. It is why baptism was no defense against a spriggan’s spiriting away, in fact, it made it more enticing.”

“Did it work?”

“Of course not.” Yuuka let out a chuckle, “It was wishful thinking in the first place. The humans would have never accepted them back even if they did not turn into fairies, and the children they kidnapped were forced to make the same deals they did to survive anyway, turning them into fairies as well. It is why when the tales talk of babies being recovered, it was always shortly after they were kidnapped: Those who remain with the fairies for longer than a few years are gone for good. Eventually, the new generations of fairies forgot all about their motivation to return to human society, and began making up their own reasons to kidnap children.”

“Kind of like a cycle of suffering?”

“It would be a clean poetic shorthand, but it wasn’t a cycle as much as a fueled fire. In the end, humans of the time would always need an excuse to dispose of sickly or abnormal children. Even if a whole generation of spriggan abandoned their practices, they would find children delivered to their doorsteps nonetheless, as no one would want a child that cannot work, or eat too much valuable food, or…Miss Parsee?”

Colors flash before your eyes as you find yourself hyperventilating, doubled over from a sudden cramping that seized your muscles. “No one would want…no one would want…no one would…”

=====
“Want a worthless woman like you…”
=====

Unwanted memories flash in your brain. Your body seems to strain slightly, wanting to express your anger and pain. But…you’re already at rock bottom.

You are a hashihime, the embodiment of resentful envy. Your feelings have no higher meaning here, they are simple, natural physical reactions to mental anguish.

“Sorry. Stomach ache.” You lie. “Must have ate something bad today. So if changelings are their natural children, what of the legends of the replacement being an enchanted log or similar?”

“Fairly simple. Some fairies just didn’t have their own children, yet envied and desired human children nonetheless. They were already naturally capable of illusion magics and manipulation of plant life, so crafting artificial dummies that could mimic human infants for a short time before expiring was not too difficult for them. Though if I may ask.” Yuuka leans into you with a grin, “Are you thinking of conducting some envy gathering scheme involving stealing children?”

“Indeed, I so desire my body being blown up in six different ways by the shrine maiden.” You say with no sincerity. “And I wouldn’t want to step on the toes of any spriggans that could be in Gensokyo.”

“There are none. If there were, they would have degraded to the standard Gensokyean fairy long ago. Stupid, immortal, and childish, a perfect fit for this nature reserve.”

Something about Yuuka’s tone felt off when she said there were none. Was it a brief hesitation in her speech? It was also becoming increasingly poisonous, taking on the same tone she takes when somebody steps on the flowers in her garden. It was a signal for you to drop the inquiry for now.

You thank her for the information, and hastily bid a retreat.

It was getting late in the afternoon, and the sun was starting to set, so you went back to the abandoned house to check on Yan.

“Yo, Yan.” You call out as you enter, not bothering to use his flimsy fake name any more. “You still teaching?”

The boy was kneeling on the ground, intently teaching the fox child how to write…a bit too well. He’s broken out his calligraphy set and several large scrolls of paper. Though this may be good after all, as the fox child looks quite happy and understanding, finding the larger characters faster to comprehend even with Yan’s flourishes.

“Ah, I’ll have to leave now. Sorry.” He said to the fox child. “Did you think of a name for yourself yet?”

Feral youkai have no names, and most do not do so even when becoming youkai children. This fox child though, proudly presents his sheet of paper with a single character scrawled on it with crude brushstrokes, “Yin!” He said with a massive grin.

Yan sat there, completely still.

“Mister Yan?” The child said, somewhat worried.

“I…I’m sorry…Yin…” He said, looking away and with a cracking voice. “Sorry…sorry…Parsee, let’s go home.”

“All…right?” You answer, leading him out of the house.

You notice droplets of tears falling onto the ground from his face, though he is otherwise maintaining a reserved visage.

“You good there?” You ask, not really worried as much as concerned about your house’s integrity.

“Yes, no problem.” He said back with a VERY heavy typewriter-like cracking in his voice. Black oil was beginning to trail from his legs…not good for your house’s floors.

“Yan.” Surprising him, you grab ahold of his shoulders and turn him towards you, staring straight into his narrowly-opened blue eyes. “Whatever you’ve got inside, let it out now. I don’t want you making a mess of my house.”

“No…not in front of you.”

You turn around. “Do what you shall…no, do what you want, but do it now.”

Loud, tortured weeping ensued, as Yan’s vocal cords strained to express an emotion he’s not expressed in years, by your estimate given how hoarse he ended up sounding initially. Through his sobbing, you hear some unfamiliar names, including a “Yin”.

Not your business, at least not for now. You check your phone while he involuntarily waters the trees near the road.

=====

DrunkCucumber: yo check out my attempt at a Persian miniature

=====

It’s okay, it seems to depict the inside of a small bookstore or library with a pale-haired figure sitting in the middle of it. Around it are several symbols you cannot discern, all in different colors. Pretty good for an amateur. You thought of typing something jealousy-inducing, but you have a strange feeling that this person wouldn’t care about it, or anything really.

=====

Mizuhashi297: looks great. Personally I prefer if the human parts are less prominent and if it focused more on the natural bits.

DrunkCucumber: :D

DrunkCucumber: It’s my friend’s bookstore.

DrunkCucumber: You should come visit if you’re traveling to America

Mizuhashi297: Yeah I wish, lol. Really jealous of those living there.

=====

You check one of the other active channels, and come across an argument.

=====

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: You cannot define what a better person is!

DokiDokiSayori: There are things you can definitely do that is objectively good. Brushing your teeth regularly, being in shape, reading more books, etc.

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: Yes but if you improve yourself and proceed to commit evil acts, are you really better?

DokiDokiSayori: The evil acts are what is evil about you. That does not negate any improvements you do for yourself.

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: And improving yourself without thinking of the morals and meaning of your existence is pointless!

DokiDokiSayori: …You’re always shouting at [detected personal information redacted by MEE6] to stop drinking himself into a stupor on the floor though.

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: That’s because he keeps getting in the way when I’m helping out at the store! He also needs to go hit up the gym, or the dojo that [detected personal information redacted by MEE6]

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: *that Red operates.

DokiDokiSayori: Have you considered he might not have found a new meaning to his existence, to use your standpoint?

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: And he won’t get over that alcoholism without finding one! You cannot put the cart before the horse!

=====

Hey, you’re the main character of this server. You thought to yourself. Why don’t you interject with some unwanted youkai opinions?

[ ] “It is far more important to have the hope and actions to be a better person first, before moving up to more abstract needs.”

[ ] “I feel it is definitely better to start with proper expectation for the meaning of your existence, else you’ll keep trying things you can’t do and failing, further retreating into your shell of apathy.”

[ ] “Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person. I don’t know why they are crying.”
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[X] “Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person. I don’t know why they are crying.”

Parsee isn't likely to be able to help on her own.
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[X] “Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person. I don’t know why they are crying.”

Just bulldoze right through this oh-so-important conversation, we got a guy leaking multiple fluids here
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[X] “Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person. I don’t know why they are crying.”

Σ(T ⌢T)
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[X] “Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person. I don’t know why they are crying.”

Better to be honest than to try to bullshit it too much. Lol
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Just read this whole story so far in one day, I never really cared for Parsee before but now I'm really starting to like her.
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>>17430
Same here. I went to forgetting about Parsee to actually liking her. I'm still not sure what the source of the weird stuff is, but I'd like to see how it plays out.
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[X] "Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person? I don't know why they're crying."
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WillOfTheCity
[X] Mizuhashi297: “Guys which of the options will help me calm down a crying person. I don’t know why they are crying.”

DokiDokiSayori: Just give them a hug and tell them things are going to be alright

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: Context?

Mizuhashi297: I have NO clue

DokiDokiSayori: Are they your friend? Do you have a vague idea at least?

Mizuhashi297: Yes. I…think it’s family related?

ExodiaTheNihilistOne: Yeah just hug ‘em and tell them you’re always there for them.

===

“Yan, come over here.”

He doesn’t respond.

Sighing, you walk over to the sobbing man. With your youkai strength, you trivially manhandle him into your arms. “Shh…it’s going to be okay, I’m here for you.”

Technically, wouldn’t a hashihime being the only thing you can reliably count on for emotional support be worse than just having none at all? Yan doesn’t seem to care though, squeezing his face into your bosom and staining your clothes wet with his tears.

At least these tears are just salt water, and not black oil.

“Come on Yan, if there’s something you want to talk about, just say it to me. I promise I wouldn’t use my abilities on you.”

“Thats…*sniff*...not reassuring at all!”

“I can also promise that no matter what you say, I can find a way to make it seem like the lesser of two evils.”

“That REALLY isn’t…ugh.” Your offputting attitude seems to have put a dampener on his sadness. Wiping the tears off his face, he attempts to restore his usual stoic facade. “I…appreciate you caring about me…in your own way I suppose, but this really isn’t anything you should get involved with.”

“You mean there’s problems I can’t bribe some oni with alcohol to go beat up?”

Yan stiffens as he recalls the absurd strength the drunken oni he had fought with possessed, and that was just a random civilian off the streets! “R…right, you do have that option. But it is not a problem you can solve with your fists, and my instance of this problem involves something that cannot be undone…a corrupted save file.”

“Did you just use a gaming metaphor?”

“You are a streamer by profession.”

“I suppose I am, but I stream art, not vidya, usually.” You correct him.

“And yet you act so…I guess you are that old, huh?”

“Damn right I am.” You stick your chest out proudly, “I am likely the only living hashihime in existence, having dodged all sorts of priests and mikos in my life to remain as my sour self today! Others may choose to pass on and be reincarnated as humans, but that’s quitter talk. I became this way through jealousy, and will be jealous to the end.”

“You seem…proud of your jealousy.”

You think for a moment. You definitely were not this open before, nor did you consider yourself to have any sense of pride. Was it because this man in front of you is a short-lived, emotionally fragile human? Or are you changing?

To be a better person?

“If that’s what it takes to keep on living, that’s what I’ll think, even if it seems hypocritical.” Your voice lowers, “Those who die and pass on cannot do anything to change the world, or themselves. Even if the object of my hatred had long since been gone, I like to think me existing in this state is a permanent mark on his karma.”

“But the system that caused your misery has not changed.”

“I do not care about the system, the fault lies with the individual and the individual alone.” You continue walking, inviting him to follow on his own accord. “Perhaps there’s too many people in the Outside World now for this to apply, but Iran back then had clear individuals in charge. My hate…was one of them. Even I cannot hurt a whole system, but hurting enough individuals can force a system to cower.”

Yan pauses in his steps, you turn around, and for the first time he seems genuinely fearful. Not the natural fear he displayed when confronting the oni, but the fear of the unknown. That’s odd, surely there are those in Korea with the same sentiments…

“Is that why you stream?”

“No that’s just because I’m bored.” You purse your lips, that’s not the full truth, “And also I want to…express myself to the world to farm jealousy.”

“Ah.” He stands straight, and you swear his shoulders look broader now. “Is that not society’s expectations of you?”

“Quite the opposite. Most of my fellows were surprised by my artistic talents and sudden burst of sociableness. After all, hashihime were supposed to be passive predators.”

“Even then…”

“That is still a part of the world’s…Gensokyo’s expectations of me? No, that’s being the bridgekeeper.” Your response causes him to step back in surprise. “Even if that is what they expect, so what? Society bending to your will means you won. The will of Gensokyo is not your will, but your will is the will of Gensokyo…something like that.”

For you, this is natural. For him though, this seemed a jarring opinion. Now that you’re enjoying the look on his face, you wonder too, would the Parsee of three weeks ago say something like this?

Yes.

Yes you will.

Because you are selfish and envious.

But are you more [ ]selfish or more [ ]envious?
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[X] Selfish
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[X] Envious
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[X] Selfish
Parsee is evolving!
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[X] Envious
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[X] Envious

It's only nature running its course.
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[X] selfish
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[x]envious
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Of course, you are more [X]envious! You are a hashihime, that is your identity and the very core of your being. If you put anything but envy at the core of your being and the pinnacle of what you strive for, then you will simply crumble into dust.

Maybe, but you’re not going to find out.

“I am envious in defiance of Iran’s and later Japan’s wishes for me to be a proper woman and pass on quietly, and now I am standing here as a living bridgekeeper and mediocre streamer. By simply being as antisocial as possible and embracing the worst, you TOO can shrug off whatever fate society cast on you!” You proudly state.

“But…aren’t you unhappy?”

For the first time in a very long while, you can answer…

“No.”

…genuinely.

He turned quiet, not saying anything until you’re back at the Dark Blowhole, “Antisocial…” He muttered, “To actively be less of a member of the City…or of whatever you are in…”


“In Gensokyo, that is the norm, more or less.” You cannot be speaking for most of Gensokyo, but you do feel compelled to share your skewed opinion nonetheless.

Your house under the bridge seems warmer, more inviting as you turn on the lights. For centuries, it had been an empty, cold place where you slept while not loitering on the bridge. The additional furniture helped, and yet there was something ephemeral about it you could not quite put into words that made it more appealing to dwell in. The light seemed softer, the shadows less imposing.

Even if the spriggan were to show up now, you would not be afraid.

You take a quick bath, and plop down in front of the computer. Turning on your Twitch stream, you smile into the camera and say, “Hi there folks, tonight we’ll be drawing some landscape art, now with calligraphy…”

“I’m NOT helping tonight!”

Huh? You turn to see Yan peeking out from the bathroom, his squinting eyes furrowed with annoyance. “Did you just…”

“I’m tired, and I don’t want to do calligraphy after doing it the whole afternoon. My claw…hands are cramping.” He grumbled. “Paint by yourself, please, I’m going to bed.”

Did he just deny you? Well, shame on you for telling him about your modus operandi for staying psychologically stable. Perhaps he would’ve declined even if you did not, but not in such a rude manner.

You’re also tired enough that despite a latent desire to fight with him, your superego overrules it. “All…right.” You turn back towards the stream. People had only started filtering in now due to the servers lagging.

“Today we paint…a village scene.” Your hands seem to move by themselves. “Here’s a villager, look at him, happy with a tobacco pipe and a fresh haul of apples from his orchard.” Your brush moves, dotting and dabbing to paint a small, abstract representation of what you are talking about. “My, if only I could lead a life as content as him.”

dark_quietude: Can you give him a horse?

“Why yes! Not only does this man have a flourishing orchard with a good harvest this year, he also has a fine workhorse!” Dots and dabs form a black equine next to the standing figure. “It’s no racing stallion of course, but in pulling plows and casual rides around the countryside it is second-to-none.”

XXXcrimsonXXX: daniel did you steal the capslock key you fuck

XXXcrimsonXXX: fuck wrong chat

XXXcrimsonXXX: can you give him a cottage…no, a rowhouse. Japanese like rowhouses right?

“That seemed mildly racist but yes, rowhouses are the norm in this village. Though since the Meiji period, people have been building more detached houses.” With broader strokes, you draw out just such a dwelling behind the villager. With a few dots, you add in areas where the white paint has chipped away to reveal the wood underneath.

proBono: didn’t you say he had a good year? The house looks kinda bad.

“He’s looking to move out soon, so renovating his old house isn’t something he’d bother with.” You did put thought into this one. “After all, rowhouses aren’t something you’d live in if you’re doing very well.”

You proceed to draw the mountain behind him. Youkai Mountain, to be specific, but they didn’t need to know its name. You use lavish amounts of red and green for it, and no whites or blacks. Those are the colors of those tengu you so envy, and not in the good way (what do you mean, “good way”?).

BlackTea: Is that not the Yatsugatake mountain range?

“Uh, yeah…” That is where Gensokyo is located physically, right? “It is indeed the Yatsugatake mountain range.”

BlackTea: hmph

BlackTea: no wonder the W patent is registered there

What? Anyways, you proceed to paint the sky while the lower part of your painting dries, and make it largely cloudy instead of the blue skies you painted prior.

LoboWell: The farmer should have a wife, no?

“No! Err…I mean, let me check the composition of the painting to see if…” Shit, the composition does have an empty space near the bottom left to fit a person in.

“They’re…arguing, and not in a good relationship…he’s happy right now because she’s not around at the moment.” You quickly make up an excuse. To your horror, however, the chat responds collectively in a negative manner.

Sadako: wife or husband, doesn’t matter, make him happy

sea31: Yeah, the real world’s miserable enough.

“Fine…” You raise your paintbrush, and with a hard grip, you dab out a female figure looking fondly at the man. “Here, he has a wife! Happy?”

dark_quietude: Did you break up or something recently lol?

“Hey, fuck you. And no, I did not have a break up recently.”

dark_quietude: (Sub chat) So you had a break up far back that stayed with you.

You grit your teeth. Dark_quietude was getting on your nerves but she’s been the one giving you money the most. “You could say…that’s a grudge I held onto for too long.”

dark_quietude: That’s good!

Eh?


dark_quietude: You should have a few bad relationships before finding a good one! For me, I had to find one that could survive monkey punches.

“Uhhh…” You go back to painting. Do you even remember who scorned you? His name? You only remember that he was a noble…that was always the case for hashihime?

Were you right? Were they right? Does it even matter? And if you decide to get a new relationship as a hashihime, would you just crumble into dust from your existence negating?

“I’m not interested in having a relationship in the future.” You say as you flesh out the details on the women, your rage at happy couples now dimmed into a grudging resentment with non-involvement being the core aspect. Couples have nothing to do with you, but you still find them annoying.

You make a mental note to stop by the Sanzu River in the future. If there’s anyone who could explicate the ontological issues with your existence, it’ll be the Yama.

Now, for the finishing touch on the painting:

[ ] Volcano eruption!
[ ] A youkai! (Read: Yourself)
[ ] Something from online pop culture
[ ] Uhhh…. _______
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[X] A youkai! (Read: Yourself)

She's painting story of her breakup lol
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[X] A youkai! (Read: Yourself)

I like the breakup painting idea
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[x] Volcano eruption!
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[x] A youkai! (Read: Yourself KOISHI!)

Unbidden and yet rent free
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