The bathwater has been heated sufficiently, and your book is only two-thirds of the way done. The solution, as always, is obvious: read in the bath! That must be why these books were water-proofed, right? If not, it's still what you use them for. This one's just a normal grimoire; spells and notes on the spells. Sure, it's practical, but it isn't very good for advancing personally, which is a problem since quite a few of the books are still illegible to you.
Opening up to your bookmark, and setting it aside with your clothes, you settle in for a relaxing evening. Scanning quickly, you find your place right at the end of another non-directional laser variant. This one seemed particularly nasty, since it emitted the laser pattern from four slaves as well as the caster. There aren't any confounding bullets, though, but you still need to destroy at least three slaves to make it through a wave, and surviving that long would be tricky. You've seen worse, though.
The next spell goes on for twelve pages, and is a mass of corrections and erasures. Out of habit, you skip to the end to read Patchy's concise explanation of the spell.
“Spell to memory imprint.”
Patchy hasn't left a summary, which isn't surprising. Most of the spells in this book have featured corrections, so you would guess that this is, or at least was a testing log. As you pick through the spell's workings, you find your mind wandering towards ways to improve Master Spark, rather than focusing on the memory spell. Briefly, as the light from the window dies down sufficiently to require that you light candles to keep reading, you consider testing it while getting more reading material. Then you stop considering it, as you've already dried off and are pulling on your reinforced bloomers so you can get on with the testing.
Maybe this will be the straw that sees Patchy actually come to get her books back. That book you borrowed did say that making people do things for you will lead to love, so you've been trying your best. As you ride your broom straight for your hidden entrance to the library, you idly wonder if you'll need to take an entire book case.
Entering the library undetected, you settle into your usual routine: find Patchy, grab a book or six, get her attention by leaving very loudly, leaving a hole in a wall if possible, but slowly enough that she almost catches you. She tends to stop once you leave the library, so you don't go straight for an exit. You hit a small collection of padded chairs first, since that's where Patchy seems to be most times, then swing by the testing area. You see that she's not there and start to move on, then pull up short. Though it's not too apparent on the red carpet, there seems to be blood on the ground, and what looks like some manner of heart with tubes running through of it.
As it twitches, you nearly let loose on it, but instead settle in to observe. If this is one of Patchy's new experiments, though looking at it you rather doubt that, you'll find advantage in knowing about it beforehand. Resting about half-way up the bookcase, you pull out a book at random to begin reading. Far beneath, the mass appears to be struggling to move around.
[ ]: An interesting tome. You'll take it!
[ ]: Why is that thing moving?
[ ]: Where's Patchy?
- - - - -
It's just another boring day. Tewi is asleep after Mokou set the forest on fire, again. Reisen is complaining about losing some manner of staring contest. Apparently Patchouli has collapsed again, so Sakuya is here trying to get you to come and help.
Well, maybe if you get things done quickly you can actually get some archery practice in today. The first thing to take care of is the fire. Normally, Tewi would take a while to find, but you have someone here who can bypass that.
“Sakuya, could you please find Tewi for me, and bring her here?”
“This will hasten your coming?”
“Yes. That forest fire will put itself out when it runs out of forest to burn. Tewi is the one who should be putting it out, were she awake.”
While waiting for Sakuya to find Tewi, an act which is probably already completed meaning that you're just waiting for her to drag Tewi to you, you check again on your patient. She's still asleep from the gas, and given her low weight you suspect that she got a higher dose than is recommended. She was given a general-purpose counter, but will be under for a day at least. Still, it's best to have someone checking on her fairly often, lest Tewi see fit to conduct further pranks.
Apparently she was close by, for she showed up immediately upon your shouting her name.
“This one shall be your patient for the time being. I am required elsewhere.”
“Very well. Guard Akyu from Tewi until she wakes up, then?”
“Yes. You know her?”
“She's from the Village. She occasionally buys medicine from me.”
Ah, there's Sakuya now. Being dragged by Tewi.
“So why did you set this maid on me? You could've just shouted, you know.”
A rather tired Tewi, it seems.
“I somehow doubt that you would have come, under the circumstances, even if you were in shouting distance.”
“Or sent one of my family members. Or...”
“The maid got you to come, didn't she?”
“I guess so. Why, though?”
“She was handy. At any rate, your forest is on fire again. I suggest that you put it out.”
“Reisen, you'll need to look after Sakuya as well. Please don't draw on her.”
“Very well.” You note that she has already obtained a marker from Kaguya knows where.
You'll have to send Reisen to find the various traps that Tewi and her family will inevitably leave in the area, but the place should remain forested. It's not an ideal situation, but it is stable.
Grabbing your medical bag, and a vial of a recent experiment, you take off for the Scarlet Devil Mansion. You're almost surprised that Remillia didn't come, but she's probably trying to help Patchouli herself. While on the way, you refresh your memory regarding Patchouli's illness.
It is not contagious, though you have no idea how she got it. The disease seems to feed off of magic, and has some rather anomalous properties. For one, it actively retaliates against attempts to remove or repress it, and it actively eliminates weaker antibiotics as they are introduced. Remillia claims that Flandre attempted to destroy it once, but that just resulted in the entire mansion getting sick for a few weeks.
Arriving in the library, for the second time in two weeks, you look around. Of immediate concern is Patchouli, currently having been laid on a table where Remillia is trying to get her to wake up. Judging from the increased density of books, scrolls, and assorted papers on the floor near one end of the desk, Patchouli was not the one to clean the desk. Chances are, either Remillia or Koakuma moved Patchouli following her collapse.
Sparing a glance for the environment, you note that you still can't see the floor for ten meters around Patchouli's desk, but past that the carpet is starting to regain its crimson color, rather than the uniform brown it had the last time you were here.
The answer should be none, assuming, of course, that Patchouli is taking her medicine regularly, which you somehow doubt. Still, with medicine like that it's best to not risk an overdose.
“Koakuma, you may put those away. Remillia, Patchouli will wake up when she's ready.”
[ ]Knowledge is key.
[ ]When in doubt, act!
[ ]You've been meaning to try something.
- - - - -
Oh random fluctuations in the space time continuum, it's that bloody bird again. What the here did you do to get sent here? Aside from kill a few thousand people...and become a vampire...and arrgghhh.
Once the white pain fades to merely excruciating levels, and you regain control over your thoughts, you demand for what seems to be the hundredth time who thought it would be a good idea to have someone create a sun right next to a vampire. Then your memories return, and you remember that it's the idea of whomever is running hell.
You've tried moving. There is nowhere to move. You've tried using The World. The only thing to use it on are the others suffering with you. They regenerate.
At times you'll see a figure in red robes moving through the crowd, unaffected by the heat, or the fires, or the mud, or anything else here. Occasionally, you see her stop to consider someone. Rarely, she takes that person from their spot and leads them away. After what seems like centuries, you see her pass directly in front of you. You call out to her, in the hope that she will take you.
She doesn't stop.
You begin moving through the crowd to follow her, calling out to her. You try asking politely. You try threats. You try begging, even. You try everything short of attacking her, for you've seen what happens to those who tried that. They didn't regenerate. The crowd seems to become more mobile around her, pressing together in the hope of her favor. Pressing you out.
She doesn't stop.
You declare time to be stopped, and watch as everything freezes. The fireballs constantly raining down stop in place. The magma flows cease to flow. The other fools cease their movements. The lady in red finally stops for you. You move, to stand directly in front of her, and will time to flow once more.
She finally considers you. A question is posed, and you understand that it is meant for you and you alone.
“For what reason do you persist?”
[ ]I still have my pride.
[ ]To despair is to know true death.
[ ]There is but one, simple virtue. Victory and Conquest. How you get there doesn't really matter.