Topic: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen  (Read 2471 times)

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_cf

  • playing with training wheels
  • "Touhou" is japanese for "silly hats only"
Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« on: September 30, 2011, 10:59:58 pm »
Let me try something else more stand alone for a change... I took the forum's advice and tried to shorten the phrasing.



Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen

I, YUKARI YAKUMO, HEREBY COMMAND THAT MY SHIKIGAMI RAN YAKUMO CANNOT READ THIS LETTER PROPER UNTIL AFTER THE SHIKIGAMI OF MY SHIKIGAMI, CHEN, HAS READ IT ALL AND COMPOSED AN ANSWER, WHICH SHE'LL RETURN FOR ME FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS ATTACHED.

YUKARI YAKUMO



Dear Chen,

How's the weather in Gensokyo? Here the days are getting longer and hotter and a bright tropical sunlight bathes everything with a searing heat. Do you remember the sauna we visited in the Youkai mountain a few years ago? And the subterranean geyser center? Well, think both at the same time! I'm thankful for shades and sunblock right now~

Like me, most people in this beachfront resort are foreign tourists. I've been engaging in casual talk with them since yesterday when I checked in. You know, about how Buzios is lovely this time of the year, fortunes in business, sports, celebrity gossip. I've been enjoying the banter for another reason too: The curiosity that invariably builds on the humans as they talk with me and try to guess from where I am, by my appearance and accent. You'd listen some very funny guesses! Have you been practicing your English these days? You know how I don't like when you let your accent appear. You must continually train and improve if you want to walk more on the outside world. You may even practice with the squatters at the misty lake's house: even if their British accent is hilariously antiquated, you should observe how both sisters switch so well from Gensokyo Japanese to English. Strive to do the same!

I digress. Here's something for Ran. You may even skip this part if you're not interested, but since you have been a shikigami too for the last few years, maybe you should pay attention, too: RAN YOUR SHITHEAD I'M SO ANGRY AT HOW YOU'RE WILLFULLY HIDING BEHIND THE SHIKI PACT TO AVOID THINKING AND FEELING. YOU WANT DEAL WITH NUMBERS, YOU DUMB FOX? I'M SPENDING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS RIGHT NOW AND I'LL NOT CREATE WEALTH TO MAKE FOR IT. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT? NO, I DON'T CARE HOW YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IF ALL I WISHED WAS FOR A SPREADSHEET I'D JUST USE EXCEL, THANK YOU. I WANT SOMEONE WHO LOOKS TO ME IN THE EYES AND WHEN I LOOK BACK I CAN FEEL ANOTHER THINKING, FEELING BEING. STUPID, STUPID RAN!

So, well. How about THAT for a digression, right? I had to take that out of my heart, so I'm sorry for that, Chen~ Now let me write the part that's actually about your instruction:

It's cool and shady right now, in the resort's lounge. A pianist is playing a classic Bossa Nova or other, making me wonder if I didn't gap-travel into a version of Brazil that only existed in the movies of the 60's (and I could). But no, this is the solid real stuff they sell for affluent tourists. Much like what I already showed you when we travelled aboard, tourism is pretty much about selling past glories to rich foreigners. The young humans love it because old things always feel deeper and more meaningful. The old humans love it for plain old nostalgia. For me, it's already an effort sometimes to remember if a certain human cultural artifact is from the last 100 years or not, so this touristic exercise is lost. Still, they serve deliciously expensive cocktails here, the cold air feels delightful against my just tanned skin and the pianist is professional enough to make the old music count.

You see, I've been around for quite some time. And so have you, dear Chen, if we take these short lived humans as a comparison. But even then, you, just as Youki's kid, hasn't lived for a century yet. A century is an important mark that all youkai should strive for. Do you know that even humans can get this old? Of course, they're complete wrecks way before they get to a century, while I don't think I'll see much difference between the you now and the you in a century or two.

You know all this, of course, because Ran is such a strict teacher. By now your head should be full of facts about math, natural sciences, history, rituals and magic. All this knowledge is important but they're just facts. What I'm trying to impart here is something beyond them. Something that I feel that's important that you, and even stupid Ran, always have in your hearts:

See, they don't have faeries here. Here I am, right in a relatively untouched place (why, compared with Japan, or even to your native kingdom, Brazil is pristine) and I can't see or hear a fairy. Anywhere. In Gensokyo, as you well know, you can't stack two stones without a stone fairy appearing. They're everywhere, and why shouldn't them be? They're the embodiment of nature's soul.

I'm sure that by now Ran has drilled all the main cycles of magic into your poor brain. How nature spawns elementals and faeries, that are both the raw materials for a boring series of natural processes and that can, if they develop enough, change to youkais or gods, etc etc. All very basic, and then you realize that absurdly, you cannot hear a single fairy laughing here. This place, this entire continent used to be filled to the brim with them. Now all I hear are human voices, and these get quite boring after a while. (Speaking of them, can you believe a young married couple just asked if I was Russian? Russian! As if! Well, if you take the whole Russia, and look to its very eastern end… their bet was not that wrong~).

See, one of the problems regarding really ancient beings is that we look all wrong. People migrate, go to war, go extinct and so for. Even if I play with the borders of perception until I look exactly like I wish to, my body today isn't very different from what it was originally. Do you remember when you were very young, and you asked how many years old I was? Silly Ran went all "oh dear" and prepared to apologize in your behalf, but then I laughed and said I was older than numbers, so my age didn't matter. Silly Ran got mad, because she's so addicted on being a shiki that all she wants to see these days are numbers.

And this kind of idiotic thinking is what silenced the faeries on the outside, which returns us to the point I want to make. If you know how to look, of course you'll find the faeries and the elementals here. You simply can't have mango or palm trees, or beaches, or anything natural in fact without a soul. But what happens anywhere outside of our home and of a handful of another secluded places is that any soul other than a human's soul lies in coma these days. I brought ages to your attention a while ago because this mass coma phenomenon (should we call this an "incident" and send Reimu to fix it? I don't think so!) is very recent. A couple of millennia ago, and gensokyo as you know today would be the whole outside world, and the outside would be a handful of pockets where the humans congregated around oil lamps and were at their strongest. This is because, is it turns out, humans are the guilty ones here. (See why Reimu can't fix this?)

"And why would humans do this?" would you ask. I mean, would you seriously ask? You shouldn't, if you've been paying any attention to your history lessons: They need to, it's a survival strategy for them. They're such short lived, frail things, born of pure biology, aliens to magic and wonder that the best kind of world for them is a quiet, predictable one. Imagine for a moment that you couldn't feel magic, at how scary and confusing the world would be if stuff like weather changed on a fairy's whims, or if the the Sun didn't want to rise.

Now, of course Ran has been teaching you all about religions and their astral constructs and even I was impressed by your crafty summonings -- even if I really wished you had created your spellcards by yourself, without Ran's "helpful" advice. As Ran certainly told you, if you look in a certain way, any mind is a mind and any will is a will. Of course Ran is objectively (as measured by neuronal density, synapses or whatever you want) smarter than any earth human (and I'll be always the smarter one!) and of course you have learned in these few decades how to focus your will to a point that few humans outside monasteries can match.

But there are only a handful of us, and billions of them. Can you calculate how much more intelligent Ran is than an average Gensokyo human? Do this as homework (tip: The answer is in the low hundreds). Same thing with our will and our imagination. We can be wiser than them but we are loners at heart, while humans are social beings - it's in their nature to network. Awake or asleep, humans are networking and building upon each other's ideas. And what happens when you get 7 billions of monkeys dreaming together and agreeing on how certain things should be? Monkey planet!

By here starts the stuff Ran may not have told you about, yet. We're all living in the monkeys' planet. This is fact and there's no getting away from it. Have you ever wondered why faeries look like small human children? Why YOU, who was a very old cat infused with magic, has changed into a human girl? Why Onis look like horned humans? Why, I could make a list of youkai here and it'd could be called "humans with funny hats and animal appendages".

Ran or even me aren't old enough to have seen it, but word has it that the faeries didn't look like children of humans back then. What I know for sure is that the real ancient beings still living among us don't look human after all. Or at least didn't bother to look, before humans started behaving like the owners of the place.

Well, it's getting dark here, which means it's dawning in Gensokyo. I'm still angry at Ran and there's still much to do around here, so this letter ends here. The point I wished to make, is that humans did what they did with the faeries by dreaming too hard about some things in common. Humans are outwardly an amazingly different bunch to the point that you'd be amazed that they as a race have common ideas but read this: Humans all dreamed about an unchanging, predictable, deterministic world, and so they got it.

Ran knows all this, as she knows that the shikigami can only exist because our minds have parts that are unchanging, predictable and deterministic. We make use of shikigamis because they are amazing tools. Just don't fall in the trap of forgetting that you must use numbers to do awesome things. Do your math homework and then go play with the faeries, I think that this should be the ideal life for you right now. I'll try to write to you again, Chen, during the next days, while I squander our fortunes and act recklessly in the big humanity festival. Right now, the stars look wonderful in the southern sky. I wrote a bit ago that old people go on tours out of nostalgia, and it ended up happening with me, after all. I'm feeling nostalgic, which means that pretty soon a hapless human or two will have a first-person lesson of why it was a excellent idea for them to dream our race away. Probably the pushy louts who asked if I was a Texan.

Now I'm going to finish this letter, fold it and put it besides this deliciously smelling dinner the waiter just left at my bedside (did I mention I went to my room to dress up for the night?), cover everything with this silver bowl and put a paper shiki on it, monitoring what Ran is doing. Ran will wake up in about 20 minutes, prepare the breakfast for you and then cover it with the cat-paw print straw bowl, to keep it warm, just like she always does. Once she does that, the contents under the bowls here and there will be swapped. So you'll get to receive my letter and enjoy this nice lobster dinner and the resort's dishwashers will have less pieces to care about. Don't you think a 400 years old miso cup is a nice trade-off for whatever this Sèvres 1920 (or is it 1921?) porcelain dish and silverware are worth? Let Ran do the math, because it's going on my tab, anyway.

After you finish your lobster breakfast, compose a nice reply letter for me and put it under your pillow. I'll fetch it when I can. I'll be looking forward reading it!


With love,

Yukari <3
  • my Pixiv
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2011, 09:31:54 pm »
I really liked this and would have writen earlier, but I was reading it on my phone, and its a *pain* in the butt to type on.
I have...a terrible need...shall I say the word?...of religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
  • LOOK AT ME
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2011, 05:24:19 am »
I love your Yukari.

I'd be so pleased if you were to write more like this; while there's a little bit of stumbling over grammar here and there, the sheer amount of emotion you write into this, with the little personality quirks here and there, the inferred spat between Yukari and Ran, everything - it more than makes up for the two or three spots where the English language, and all its silly rules, tripped you up.

This is a wonderful read. Thank you for sharing it with us!

OkashiiKisei

  • Still working on the Grimoire
  • It's all about devotion
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Okashii
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2011, 02:52:03 pm »
I absolutely adore the way you depicted Yukari in this. Her personality, her way of life and her relationship with her shikigami are all very nicely depicted in this letter.
It's surprising to see Yukari directly caring for Chen and giving her advice. It is very loving side of Yukari that you don't see very often in fanworks. Very cute~
I also like the idea of Yukari traveling around the world, owning a fortune yet being a big spender. :V Her comments on the areas and people are very amusing, and also give good insight in what goes on in the mind of an ancient being.

The letter provides quite a lot fascinating lore too. I like how you described the world the humans made for themselves, and how all that is supernatural has grown dormant. Magic may not be visible, but it is still there, waiting to awaken again one day.
And you also touched on an interesting subject: how most supernatural creatures now resemble humans, either being born that way or having taking on that guise along the way. It becomes very clear just how much influence humans and belief have on the supernatural.

This Yukari is charming, upbeat, funny, intelligent and most of all caring. A very fine depiction indeed~

I do however wonder how Ran became so 'robotic' as Yukari implies. And what happens whenever Yukari feels 'nostalgic'.

_cf

  • playing with training wheels
  • "Touhou" is japanese for "silly hats only"
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 11:26:18 pm »
I'm a bit surprised by the positive reaction here. Thank you very much for the positive input. ^^

OkashiiKisei, the Ran depicted here is influenced by Cage in Lunatic Runagate, specially this chapter here: http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Cage_in_Lunatic_Runagate/Fifth_Chapter (I think CiLR is an amazing read overall. The characters come alive with their inner voices and not usually in the ways we're used to see in fandom). As for the consequences of Yukari's nostalgia, let's try to not think too hard about it.

Esifex, if you put your finger over the grammar stumbles, I'll fix them. It's a promise.
  • my Pixiv

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
  • LOOK AT ME
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 06:11:35 pm »
I'm a Librarian, don't forget - I actually have the ability to modify posts in the Library. I normally don't, but if you give me permission, I'll go through and grammar check it myself and tidy things up for you.

I promise I won't alter the actual flow of the story, only the few spots that need a little polish.

_cf

  • playing with training wheels
  • "Touhou" is japanese for "silly hats only"
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2011, 12:33:45 pm »
I'm a Librarian, don't forget - I actually have the ability to modify posts in the Library. I normally don't, but if you give me permission, I'll go through and grammar check it myself and tidy things up for you.

I promise I won't alter the actual flow of the story, only the few spots that need a little polish.
You have my permission. :)
  • my Pixiv

Yukarin

  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: YakumoSilver
Re: Letter for the benefit and instruction of Chen
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2011, 05:49:12 am »
I approve.

Amazing depiction of Yukari. I was smiling the whole time reading it.

Anyways, keep it up, and I hope to see more soon!

EDIT: Also, I love that chapter in Cage in Lunatic Runagate.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 06:04:47 am by Yukarin »


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