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File 128098463995.png - (180.58KB, 480x600, Playful little oh god what.png) [iqdb]
You know what they say: The more the merrier. And the more people working on this at once, the less likely I am to accidentally blow myself up to the point where no one can put me back together because I overlooked something so fundamentally simple. And to that end, I need to fix something for lunch as technically they are my guests as well as called in help. "I'll set about making lunch then. Anything in particular?"

Marisa does little more than smile at me mischievously before turning back to her part of the work. "I know you well enough to trust that you'll make something good without my tellin' ya what I want. Nitori'll want something with cucumbers, but I think you can get away with using them in a drink of some sort. Stay away from anything with alcohol though, that'll do more harm than good." She all but slaps the back of the kappa next to her.

Said kappa made an annoyed huff noise as she turns to look at Marisa. "Are you saying I can't hold my liquor? I'll have you know I could drink a barrel and still be able to work on this!" Is Nitori really that prideful of her ability to hold booze?

"Yeah, but can you do something other than make these explode?" Marisa points to the casings in a matter of fact- Wait, when did those get made? The witch catches sight of my disbelief and responds in kind. "Heh, don't worry, Nitori does this kind of thing all the time. Turns out she had a bunch of ready components for this with really simple assembly instructions." That grin of hers would be more suited to a shark... What's gotten into her? I roll my eyes as I mentally slap myself. It's a possible weapon of mass destruction, of course she's going to get worked up over it.

Letty seems to show at least a passing interest in this, but there's nothing there yet. No sudden insight like she did when I was having trouble with my jacket, but that took time and I don't know what the exact triggers were. In that case, I decide to leave her be for the time being and work on lunch as I said I was going to.

I step into the kitchen and think up something that wouldn't take too long to make, yet still be acceptable to everyone. Marisa really is well acquainted with my cooking, and it is a fair bit better than her own as the witch really only worked with mushrooms when she doesn't feel like mooching off someone else.

oh my god I love that image.

Okage was such a fun game.
I wonder if Rumia eats anything besides main characters?
Well, depending on the depiction/version/author I would guess she eats at Mystia's eel stall at times.
Since I feel like putting some effort into this, I decide to make a pizza with the spare dough I just happen to have handy. Why? Because it tastes good and nine times out of ten it's generally well-liked among those who've tried it, not to mention that it's so thoroughly versatile that you can set one up for multiple people without any sort of effort. The problem is toppings. Marisa's actually easy, but for a different reason then you might think. You see, she's actually grown sick of mushrooms for breakfast, lunch, and dinner yet doesn't focus on improving her cooking skills at all. This means she's often bugging other people to cook for her and doing odd jobs in exchange, and in cases like this I'm glad she developed that bad, and quite frankly, sad habit.

Nitori ought to be relatively simple as well as kappa should like both meat and cucumber on her pizza slices, but I hope she doesn't mind a nice pepperoni. Letty... I don't know what she'd like so I go ahead and do her part up they way I would do mine and hope she'll like it. With that done I stick it in the oven and wait for it since it'll only take ten, fifteen minutes at most and I want to make sure it doesn't burn while I get caught up in work. ...And yes, I've set my oven on fire before in that manner, so you can laugh.


Fifteen minutes later and I pull the cooked pizza out of the oven and set it on the stovetop so I can cut it out into the appropriate sizes, and almost jump when I feel Nitori leaning over my shoulder. "Hey, cucumbers! I haven't baked them like that before though, so it'll be interesting to see what it tastes like." ...She's even got a plate in hand.

I turn around and see that everyone does, and that they're all looking rather expectant. "...How long have you been standing there?" I cast an annoyed glance at their stealthiness.

"The moment we smelled it." Was Marisa's simple answer.

I merely facepalm as I realize that no one's going to get any work done while I'm cooking lunch, and though it is quite the compliment that they'd drop everything to come see what I'm making, it's also slightly annoying that they did just that. ...I suppose I can't really blame them for wanting lunch though since I would do the same thing myself. Then again, I missed lunch by a large margin so I have a bigger excuse to not work until I get something in my stomach. Regardless of that I serve up everyone's portions and we head back into the main living room, at which point I see that there was major progress in the last fifteen minutes. "...Nitori?" I ask, staring in disbelief at the three nearly complete orbital devices.

"I said I got all this stuff prepared before hand." Nitori states matter-of-factly. "And it's still not really done since you and Marisa still have to set up some of the other components, but for all intents and purposes the physical components are done for those three. I still have to deal with the other four but those won't take much time at all, especially not with...!" She then calls out a few extendable robot arms from her backpack, which proceed to assemble another modular frame as she eats. "This is pretty good. No wonder Marisa wanted to watch you make it."

I turn to give Marisa a slightly annoyed look, which she rebuffs with absolutely no effort whatsoever. Yet... "Is that so?" I still feel the need to make my general annoyance known. "If you wanted to watch then you could have asked instead of sneaking in like that."

"Heh, sorry, it's a habit I can't seem to ditch." She then smiles that shark smile a bit sheepishly as she relents just a bit. "If I lost it, I'd get into all sorts of trouble with the SDM you know? I might get caught, and then where would you be?" Her argument is so full of holes that I could spend an entire week pointing them all out and still miss some.

"I'd probably have learned magic from someone saner." And it's my turn to rebuff her guilt trip with some cynicism of my own. Somewhere along the line I decide to sit down as well since I need to eat my share before a certain witch steals it in her greed.

That image, it scares me.
File 128107552456.jpg - (89.12KB, 480x640, Rumia-iel.jpg) [iqdb]
What about this one?
"Aw, that's just cruel! I teach you everything I know and I receive ill wishes for it!" Marisa's trying her hardest to make me feel bad over that, but the fact that she's trying to balance her act with scarfing down lunch as though she hasn't eaten in a week kind of kills the dramatic part of it and makes it amusing instead. "Gah, you're just not gonna take me seriously today, are you?" She's fighting back her own smile even as she continues to look anguished, but something crosses my mind. Don't people tend to- "*Cough*" ...choke.

"Marisa? You okay?" Nitori certainly looks worried, but I doubt that she really knows what this is- "Don't tell me you're choking! Let me-!"

Nitori might have helped if I wasn't so quick on the uptake. While the kappa was still talking I got behind Marisa and put my arms around her, clamping my hands together over her stomach. From there I make quick, powerful thrusts against it to get her to cough up whatever's clogging her throat. Once I hear her cough something up, I look to see exactly what it is only to note that somehow she's kept it in her mouth, chewed it properly, and swallowed it again. I allow myself to roll my eyes once again now that I'm certain that disaster has been averted. I still give the witch a gentle knock on the head for it. "Idiot. Chew, then swallow. Prefereably before talking." It's not nice to know that she still occasionally allows her voracious appetite and her tendency to be overly dramatic over the littlest things to mix.

"Heh... Sorry Ivan, I got carried away there." She turns to give me a genuinely apologetic look to make it so she can convey that she's truly sorry about this. Normal people wouldn't have to bother, but Marisa will lie whenever it's convenient to her so she has to go the extra mile to make people believe her when she is honest. "...A-and you're kinda still holding me. I can't really work if you're doin' that." Truth be told, I was more relieved that Marisa didn't die of her own stupidity than anything else, and merely forgot I was still holding her.

Wait a tic, isn't there someone else I'm forgetting in all this? "Geeze, I'm glad you forgot to lock your door, it's freezing out there!" Whoops, looks like I forgot Aya in all this. She walks into the living room where we're at, and I note that she's removed her shoes thankfully enough. That's kind of diminished when she sees me in an easily misunderstood position, one where I still have an arm around Marisa's waist and said witch having an embarrassed blush on her face. "So, working on building up a harem to fight for you? Not exactly manly." Scary part is, I can't tell if the crow's teasing or not.

"Of course not! He had Marisa bring me over so I can work on these really cool orbital cannons for him! The reason he's holding Marisa like that is because she talked while trying to swallow and ended up choking on her lunch." Nitori clears things up while her robotic arms put together the seventh cannon frame. "You're not gonna write some scandalous story are you?"

"Me? Nah. I'm more interested in those cannons." Aya's mannerisms seem normal, but Marisa and Nitori are both quick to give the tengu a look of almost complete surprise. "What?"

Marisa then gently breaks away from me in order to go feel the tengu's forehead. "You really okay Aya? You'd normally be all over stuff like that."

"I'm fine, seriously!" Aya brushes away Marisa's hand and opts to sit down in one of the empty seats, and I have to admit that I can't seat another person should someone else drop by. "I'll just be over here taking notes, is that okay?" She's looking to me now...

"Of course. That was part of the deal." And I respond in a completely neutral tone as I ponder exactly why the witch and the kappa might be worried about the tengu. From what I've seen, she's been a perfectly upstanding girl.

"So, I assume the runes will be applied now?" Letty finishes up her lunch just in time to help with the next part. She's got a genuine interest too, if her curious expression is any indication.

"Yup! My part's all done, so it's up to you three!" Nitori then vacates her seat to make room for Marisa, Letty and I, but I still note an immediate problem. I don't have a couch so much as I have a two-person love seat, which will make this uncomfortable as-

Well, I was about to drag a chair for myself over, but Marisa forces me down onto the right hand side, has Letty sit on me, and sits on the left herself. "Looks like there's room for everyone after all!" That shark grin is back, and she's jabbing my side with her elbow rather gently. "Okay, how should we do this?"

[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.
[X]Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.


Basically, given Ivan's inginuity combined with his luck (Great and Horrible), the more you give the cannons the more likely you'll have unintended consequences in battle.
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.

> unintended consequences in battle
like accidentally firing in the opposite direction?

still, ivan has managed so far with just a small selection of things that do exactly what he expects them to do.
Adding random variables will only fuck up his combat tactics.
[X]Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.
[x] Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.

Going whole-hog.
[X]Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.

With Ivan's luck, the array will eventually gain sentience and call him 'daddy.'

Well, probably not, but it's fun to imagine...
[X]Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.

Do not want GLaDOS.
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.

Baby steps.
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.

So that we don't end up blowing up Ivan even more than he already has/will.

>has Letty sit on me

Thanks, Marisa. You're a true bro.
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.

What are the odds of it creating a sense of sentience after spending some time with Ivan..?
[x] Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.
[X] KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.


For safe use of your orbital device: Do not touch the operational end of the device. Do not look into the operational end of the device. Most importantly, do not <fzzzzzt>.
[X] KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.

They'll be chances to upgrade later.
File 12813096266.jpg - (16.86KB, 200x304, n40299964036_5253.jpg) [iqdb]
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.
-[X]But add a little 'something' for that little shadow, dearest of all your friends.
[X]Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.

Just to be awesome.
[X]Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.

Before you know it the cannons will inexplicably start playing music like this.


no not really but considering Ivan's luck it probably would just play polka instead for no reason.

Sound waves capable of deflecting some danmaku?

Only one way to find out!
[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.
Just because it doesnt have 16536 forms doesnt mean it cant be versatile enough. say,
direct attack
indirect attack
point defense
and a few others is plenty enough...
[X] KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.
Knowing his luck, it'll probably still go Rampant or something on him.
I was expecting something more like


[X]KISS rule. Keep It Simple, you stupid. Just enough variables to make a few viable forms.
Considering Ivan's luck, not only will it spontaneously develop sentience, it'll also self-identify as female and morph to look incredibly hot.

[x] Go for broke and etch the whole runic alphabet onto each one. We'll just make each rune small enough to fit.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing it all the way.
File 128141122481.jpg - (430.67KB, 750x1116, d3bf2c541a3fa15d7539c64a203134b98b0529ad.jpg) [iqdb]
>I was expecting something more like 'Richard Wagner's' piece.

I would agree if it were not for the fact that, he's essentially scattered skill-wise. There's not one true focus that Ivan seems to stick to; be it danmaku or alchemy.

He's all over the place but when push comes to shove he seems quite capable of pulling through when needed; regardless of having the grace of an elephant dancing around in some old glassware shop.

Nonetheless we have yet to see what kind of effect the orbital cannons will have on his abilities. Chances are he will need to train himself to adapt those cannons...

time for boot camp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTPSRhO4nrc
Taking it slow seems to have won.


"We'll give these just a few select forms for now. I don't really want to have to deal with all manners of unintended effects when I wind up using these." I pick up the first of seven and snap the fingers on my right hand a few times while uttering a short spell. Eventually an arc begins to fly between my thumb and my index finger until I slide my thumb against my index to 'wipe' the arc off onto it. Now all I have to do is think about what I want and this will write it for me.

"Whoa, you're not foolin' around, are you?" Marisa looks positively dumbstruck by my decision and method of etching. She's mostly waiting for me to get done with the first one so she can do the rest the way I want them configured, or make it so the rest won't blow up in my face by making the needed corrections. "You really don't see this side of Ivan much, so take a good look Nitori." That was almost enough to make my thought process go haywire. Does anybody have any faith in me whatsoever?!

...Shit. I really did just etch 'faith' onto the space I wanted to write 'shield'. Still, it seems nobody's willing to call that one out given that I'm still weilding the equilivant of a high-energy lightning bolt and could seriously hurt someone if I so much as pointed the wrong way. However, it didn't seem to escape Letty as she places her right hand on mine to steady it and to help me concentrate. Her touch and weight are what I use to mute the rest of the world for now, getting enough runic figures together to form three distinct forms with more than enough varience to make sure that my commands cannot be misinterpreted.

I'm sure the peanuts gallery is saying something, but I'm too far into this to back out now. I set the first down and set about working on the second, then the third... Eventually I do them all myself with no help other than Letty's simply being there. Nitori jumps in and finishes a second layer of casing, which can be removed to edit the runic structure as I see fit. After that, there remained one task: Charging the gems up. Or at least giving them enough of a spark to let them 'turn on' as Nitori put it and allow them to draw trace amounts from the air while generating their own. From what I understand it will take several hours since I lack the capacity to even fully charge one.
"So, you want any help with this, or?" Marisa asks this because even though I'm infusing just a little bit of my own power, it's still a ridiculously large amount for my tiny pool. Naturally, she's worried about me.

"I'll manage. Imparting your own power is like imparting your will, isn't it? It's best for me to do it since I'll be the one controlling it." And as per usual, I don't want to accept help with this when I have no idea what adding more cooks to the proverbial broth would do to it. It might help, it might hinder, it might spontaneously explode or become some kind of tsukunogami. ...Though with my luck it might do that anyway.

"Okay, but I'm stickin' around 'til you're done. This is a lot for someone who only started tappin' into his magic a couple days ago." I believe that it's not that Marisa doesn't have any faith in me, but rather she's worried I'll do more than just overexert myself and wants to be there to get me help the moment I would need it.

"It's fine. I doubt that I'll kill myself doing this." I pick up the first one and begin charging it, confident that I can get them all up to minimum requirements before nightfall. "Taking breaks between, getting food into my system... That will help, won't it?"

"Sorta. But it's not like you'll regenerate spontaneously, if you overexert yourself now it might take days before you fully recover, unless someone was willing to make a donation to you." ...Now why in the world is she blushing at that concept? Transferring mana can't involve anything too tricky or overly complex.

Shrugging, I return to my work, and as per usual I get so wrapped up in it I neither notice the time nor my current body state until Letty makes herself known. "Ivan!" Her cool voice cuts across my trance like a knife, causing me to cut the transfer a little early. "Ivan, you look pale..." ...Oh god damnit-


Switch perspective:
[x] Rumia

I love the little grue.
[X] Marisa

We haven't seen the witch's PoV yet.
>Transferring mana can't involve anything too tricky or overly complex.
Heh, he has no idea at all.

[x] Rumia

Mana Transfer? Interesting...
File 128154303040.jpg - (384.48KB, 813x750, 27562d1f415ba4eadfb3fb1.jpg) [iqdb]

This Marisa's strangely more reserved than usual and got me interested.

Got strange vibes from the recent update, though most likely unintentional...

Image very related

Haven't seen Rumia in a while. We need to keep tabs on our not-so-litle EX boss.

this is going to be fun.
File 128156676598.png - (12.63KB, 150x181, Youlostme.png) [iqdb]
>...Now why in the world is she blushing at that concept? Transferring mana can't involve anything too tricky or overly complex.
You'd be surprised.

[x] Ordinary magician vote.

Works for me~!
[x] Marisa

[x] Marisa
File 128171611755.jpg - (142.08KB, 550x500, baa7774370f04679576bf2be4c5bf56361274d6f.jpg) [iqdb]
>this is going to be fun.

I've watched you Ivan, I've stalked you Ivan
and now I'm so close to you
With this chance right now, those silly blind sows
I wish to be very, very sure of taking you now.

Don't sit under the cherry trees with anyone else but me
Anyone else but me, no one else but me
No, no, no Don't sit under the cherry trees with anyone else but me
Otherwise I'll chop them, chop them down and keep you locked in at home.
Home home home sweet home
don't go walkin' down the shrine's path with any one else but me
Anyone else but me, no one else but me
No, no, no don't go walkin' down the shrine's path with any one else but me
Otherwise I will trip you, trip you and drag you all the way home.
Home home home sweet home

I just got word from a bug who heard from the bird next door to me
The girls you've met just love to pet and it fits you to a tee,
So, don't sit under the cherry trees with anyone else but me
Otherwise I'll chop them, chop them and keep you locked in at home

Don't you sit under those trees with any one apart from me
You'll never get away from me oh no not if you using a beam
Why would you sit under a cherry tree with any one but me
I'm by far the most beautiful girl you've ever seen, ever ever seen
Don't you walk under those slings with any one apart from me
Because if you think I won't see you walking down the path with some one other
that will be the end of you and that's alright
ooh don't go walkin down the shrine's path with any one else but me or you'll go marching home.

So don't go walking down the shrine's path oh down the shrine's path
If you want me, I'll meet ya on the otherside and we'll go all day long
Sit down under the cherry trees, Ivan just you and me

Or you best believe I'll lock us up and throw away the key.

Sorry about the delay folks, I had my wisdom teeth yanked out all of yesterday and the whole 'write a story' thing just kinda flew out the window until now.


Oh you~

Watching Ivan over the last... How many hours was it? Regardless, watching him has been rather boring since all he's been doing is pouring a bit of his pitiable strength into each of those cannons, thinking they'll honestly amount to something when this is all said and done. ...On top of that, he's started to pale and the only reason he's not dead or at least so thoroughly crippled to where he can't use magic again is because that yuki-onna actively stopped him and made him realize his mistake.

He's just been so infuriatingly boring today, but I can't jump in and play with him when he's got a whole frigging harem surrounding him to make sure he stays alive, or at least doesn't have to get hurt too bad when we play. I make a slight disgruntled noise as I slip from the witch's shadow to Ivan's so I can keep a better eye on him. His life is in no immediate danger, not by any stretch. His body and total willpower could probably break even Kaguya's power of eternity if he had the proper training and the right tools, not to mention that he's just flat out too stubborn to die any time we meet.

Keeping an ear on the conversation doesn't alleviate my boredom much, as Marisa's contemplating whether she should take him to train with someone named 'Patchouli' to further hone what little magical skill he's got, the kappa's talking about creating some kind of exo-armor, whatever the hell that is, while the yuki-onna's been carrying Ivan's limp form with no more than a worried look on her face. ...I really want to erase her from the picture. She's in the way. She views Ivan as hers whether she truly realizes it or not, and would stand in my way until the bitter end. I may not wish to make Cirno hate me, but even I have limits to my patience, especially when attempting to outlive the snow woman would only result in my prize rotting away in his grave. Aside from that, they're all idiots. Ivan isn't one of those people with high magical aptitudes, roughly thirty seconds of nothing but firing a simple shot type left him almost too tired to play with me, and it would take years for him to fully realize his potential, if any. Oh sure, it could be drawn out by an experienced magician, but that could damage him severely if so much as a minor mistake was made.

I have to stifle a laugh here. Their talks are just so pathetic. Ivan is not a creature of magic, unlike them. He's a thinking man. A sly, underhanded, cheating thinker who turns the tables by pulling the rug out from under you and altering the rules of engagement on a moment's notice, not through brute force of any kind. It's not in his capacity to pull such a stunt, it's not his nature. And yet they still yammer on, claiming that they know what would work best and that any of their options wouldn't be a total waste of everyone's time. ...Save perhaps the lunar doctor, who might make something of him, but Ivan is too cautious of her intentions. Too afraid of her. Too uncertain about the road she'd lead him down. It's almost too pathetic to laugh at, though I would anyway if the house weren't populated by women who could possibly match me if they coordinated their attacks, and if it weren't being watched by that damn Yakumo woman. ...What does she even see in him?! ...Or is it more that she just wants me sealed up again? That's the more likely solution. If she really wanted a man, she'd look for one who fits her criteria, not mine.

Ivan's placed on his bed, all tucked in and ready to sleep off the fruits of his own stupidity. Marisa manages to make him down something that will accelerate his recovery, but it'll still be tomorrow evening before he can do much of anything. But that's to be expected when ones friends are blind idiots who are trying to turn him into something he's not. His symbol can't even manifest properly when he tries to cast a spell, even though the witch would claim he's made progress. Mana usage wears him out too quickly, augmentation technology would only weaken him in the long run. I stare out from under Ivan's shadow only to remember that he's lying on his back under some covers. I can hear, sort of, but see? Forget it. On the flip side, they can't see me either. They talk a little more about how Ivan could recover faster, but their ideas all fall short of the mark. At this point, a direct mana transfer would let him go back to being interesting much sooner, and quite frankly I'd like to steal him out from the odd couple of girls who would enjoy doing that for him. ...Oh yes Marisa, your face and mannerisms around him say it all, but you continue to hide it out of 'decency'. No one believes your spiel.

Letty would gain something back from this, but she's too genuinely unfamiliar with him to want to go that far. She's only known him a few days at most, and I admit that if I hadn't screwed up last night they might not have formed that connection of theirs. ...Not that it isn't too late to sever it. All it would take is a little help, and... Ahaha~ Just look at the tengu woman~ She's contemplating him. How cute. Too bad her own little red warning flags will never let her get that close without the cause being revealed, and even then~...

Ivan certainly keeps some pathetic friends. They all file out one by one, and all but one leave for various reasons. Marisa has something she needs to check on, lest she destroys her house again. Nitori can't really stay here either. Letty has to go make sure that Cirno doesn't think that some human is stealing her away, and Aya... She chooses to stay behind for now. She's a challenge, but when she's holding back because she think's I'd be obeying the spellcard rules she'll be in for a nasty shock.

My lips curl upward as I have the most terrible little idea. It means waiting for a bit, but I'll have the opportunity to take what I want for as long as I want. All because she thinks her little cloth has no scent.

I slip out of Ivan's shadow and into the tengu's as she gives him one last emotionally mixed look before walking out of the room with the mistaken impression that I was seriously going to leave things be. Not that she knew I was there, and in fact I wasn't. I was traveling in her shadow, and with the most miniscule pittance of effort I have that cloth in hand. I note that I have to be remarkably careful as to not hold this blasted thing too close to me, as that would cause all manners of unpleasantry, but all I have to do now it wait. Wait for juuuust the right moment.

She sits in the chair with her notepad in her left hand, and her pen in her right. She's constantly scribbling something for that worthless rag she calls a newspaper, but as much as I might detest it myself I find myself silently thanking her delusions that anyone might find her articles interesting. After all, if she were paying more attention, she might have seen my arm arcing above her head. If she had looked up, she might have been able to stop me from bringing her own cloth down on her face. If she had the common sense to hold her breath beforehand, she might have avoided slumping down in the chair, to remain unconscious there for the rest of the night. But she didn't, and that's a shame~

Slipping from shadow to connecting shadow is conveniently easy this time around as there's virtually no breaks whatsoever. When I finally slip into Ivan's bedroom once more, I see that he's sleeping... Well, not peacefully. His body's not reacting too well to having used up what little mana it possesses, even if the witch's brew is taking the edge off it. Still, this will be deliciously easy to fix~ It's just a shame that this will be like pleasuring a doll, but virginity is virginity after all~. Hmm... I don't think I'll count this as the favor I owe him though, since he's unconscious and I want him to feel it. No, this will be a little gift to me~

I have a question; did the last choice have any effect on what'd happen?
Quite interesting to see Rumia PoV. And while is true that he's a trickster, if the difference in power is big enough, no tricks can make a difference. And that why he has to raise his power. Speaking of witch witch:
>Oh sure, it could be drawn out by an experienced magician, but that could damage him severely if so much as a minor mistake was made.

Interesting. We just have to find a magician who doesn't make mistakes...
well Ivan's in a bit of a mess, about to have his virginity stolen by a monster... with no one in sight to save the day.
well he's a guy so even if it's rumia, he's still lucky to get laid.
...somewhat less lucky that he's unconcious though.
I giggled when Aya got chloroformed.
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On the bright side, at the very least Rumia's not Sil from the "Species" sci-fi/horror flick or Eve from "Parasite Eve" on the PS1.
Rape is Rape you know; this is just a potientally less forceful variation. Dirty Rumiafags screwing stuff up

Hold on there, the vote in this case were just from the perspective views. Had another perspective been chosen it wouldn't have changed what happens next.

would it?
Yesterday I seriously felt like I was going to die. Now? You'd never have known that I drained myself to the point that I collapsed. I still don't feel all that great, but there's not really any time to lose when those cannons need checking up on. Shifting the bed covers off me is simple enough, as is putting them back, so obviously something did the trick. I can't guess at what it could be to save my life though, and I make a note that I really need to put something on before I leave the room, or before someone enters it.

Kinda like Aya, who looks like she's seen a ghost or just hit a really, really nasty relization. "Ivan! A-are you...?" Her concern is conflicting with her embarrassment, which is only natural given where her eyes have settled. ...What is it with women and staring at my crotch when it's visible? Honestly, some girls act like it's some kind of big deal when it's just a half-pound of flesh.

I set to work putting a pair of boxers on, figuring that someone with some measure of common sense, or someone with a distinct lack of it, decided to take my clothes off when they put me to bed. After all, it's ridiculous to think that someone would just up and rape me in the middle of the night. ...Sort of. I can think of one person, but I don't think she'd be quite so depraved as to have sex with something just a notch up from a corpse. "I'm fine Aya. Better than fine actually." It's actually a bit of a relief when I get my boxers on. Every time I notice someone's staring at me there I have the sneaking suspicion that it's going to involve me getting raped.

Aya doesn't look terribly convinced though, as her expression doesn't change all that much. "You sure?" I nod my head in confirmation. "Alright then. Anyway, what do you want to do about breakfast?" That is something I was waiting to hear. I don't know if I skipped out yesterday's dinner or not, or if I had been so rude as to go so far as to forget about them all. If both statements are true, then I need to make it up to them somehow. "Oh yeah, we did eat dinner last night. You're the only who skipped, and that's probably part of the reason you collapsed in the first place."

"Given my habits it only makes sense to worry about it. It's still remarkably rude for one to forget his guests, regardless of what he's doing." A nice clean pair of pants are in order, then a shirt. It does make me wonder exactly what happened to the outfit I was wearing yesterday, but it didn't have any partiular meaning to me so I don't feel any need to worry overly much. "To that end..."

[X]See about taking Aya out to a bakery. Some nice hot confectionaries right out of the oven sound pretty nice.
[X]Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.


Just to answer the question, had you chosen a different PoV, you effectively would have been in control of that character. Rumia has her own agenda and will not accept commands due to the obvious potential conflict.
[X]See about taking Aya out to a bakery. Some nice hot confectionaries right out of the oven sound pretty nice.
So was this a good deal then?
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[X]Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.

No point in not using what food is left at home before needing to go grocery shopping; unless he got a lot of money to spend on pastries all of a sudden.

A nice dinner with some dessert to stretch those limbs as well as it being time to show off some moar cooking skills that I'm sure the ladies would love to try
[x] Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.
[x] Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.
[X]See about taking Aya out to a bakery. Some nice hot confectionaries right out of the oven sound pretty nice.
[X]See about taking Aya out to a bakery. Some nice hot confectionaries right out of the oven sound pretty nice.
Time to make up.
[X]Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.
[X]Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.

This is kinda good and bad. We now know that Rumia doesn't exactly want to "eat" Ivan in the normal sense. It's bad because Rumia did a mana-transfer (rape) while he was unconscious, essentially taking his virginity.

Don't start that divisive shit up again, I'd rather not see this devolve into a petty shitstorm about routes.

Sage. I really don't want to bring this shit up again.
[X]See about taking Aya out to a bakery. Some nice hot confectionaries right out of the oven sound pretty nice.

Who doesn't like the smell of freshly baked bread while they're eating?

Are you one of those fucking idiots that fucked up GH so badly?
Hey, no, fuck you, do NOT start that shit again.

GTFO Retard.

I agree with these anon's sentiments...


GTFO now as this cyoa does not need that divisive garbage.
[X]Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.
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[X]Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.
-[x]Bound to have some steak reserved for special lonely nights and some vegetables with flan as a dessert~!

[x] Offer to make her something here. I still have a fair bit of variety left, and an inclination to use it.
So, according to Aya, Ivan's schlong has got it going on.
To those who shot down those deleted posts: Thank you. It would have been rather difficult to write anything resembling a normal story if there was a GH-level route shitstorm clogging up the thread(s).

And to those of you who're complaining about Rumia getting to Ivan first: Get over it. Rumia thinks in a different view than most people, and cares little about the consequences of her actions. She would have raped him eventually anyway as despite his being only a little stronger than your average human, his mentality makes him a much more attractive deal to her, not to mention she still wants to 'thank' him for unsealing her in the first place. In fact, the only thing that the votes would have changed is how soon does it happen. So kindly never bring up a route shitstorm, because it's not going to be listened to.


"It is pretty nice." Concluded Aya as she reads the letter adressed to her. ...Not really, as it's more of an off-handed statement, but she wants to answer it anyway. "Not too long, not too short, just the perfect length."


Taking Aya out for something to eat is a very tempting proposition with no appreciable downsides other than it being slightly more expensive than making things here, yet it woulnd't quite be the same as making her something myself. "...I'll make something for you here. It's not right to make someone go off to get her own food while she's still a guest." And I finally get a shirt on, restoring what little dignity I had from the beginning. Pfffhahaha, riiiight. Dignity, that's a good one.

"Hey, you don't have to push yourself so soon. You don't even know what made you feel better in the first place." There's still concern on Aya's face, but now her body language is telling me there's more to it than that. She seems twitchy, almost nervous. "What?" She asks innocently enough.

I sigh in resignation. My overnight recovery is far too good to be true, and Aya's body is pretty much confirming it. Something happened last night, but it didn't involve her getting in bed with me. "Aya, I want you to be honest about this. What happened last night?" I try my hardest to keep myself from sounding accusatory as the odds are very good that this isn't the tengu's fault and that it'd be unfair to put undue pressure on her where there isn't a need.

She looks embarrassed now, but she's keeping eye contact. It looks like she's mustering up her courage, or shelving her pride it'd hard to say which it is at this point, or if it's really a combination of the two. "I... I was knocked out last night with my own chloroform. I wasn't even really aware of it until I woke up about ten minutes ago, and when I did become aware of it I rushed up here thinking something happened to you." It's her turn to sigh, probably because she feels some regret over allowing herself to be caught off-guard like that. "And it looks like I was right. We put you to bed fully clothed Ivan, so the fact that I found that you were stripped naked and the fact that you smell strongly of Rumia means..." She falters for a moment, but recovers quickly enough since I don't bother to interrupt her. "I think Rumia preformed a mana transfer last night. A really, really intimite one."

"Unfortunately, I-" I almost start talking about the fact that I really don't have any idea of what that is or why that would be a problem, but given Aya's look she guessed it before I could properly say it.

"Ivan..." She began slowly. "Did anyone ever explain the whole 'birds and the bees' deal to you?" I give her a quick shake of my head in response, and she promptly puts her hand to her face. "Oh geeze, no wonder this doesn't bug you. No wonder you've never pursued a woman before, you just didn't know!" She shakes her head in exasperation before remembering what it is she was talking about before and why it's so thoroughly important that she does so.

"I had some idea, and I've been attracted to women before, it's just that it's taken a back seat to my work for the last few years now." ...I will admit that my knowledge of the intimite relations between a man and a woman are a little lacking, but would admit it without shame. It was completely unimportant prior to this, and perhaps it would have remained so had- ...No, I get the feeling Eirin might have taught me sooner or later.

At this point the tengu woman looks dumbstruck, but perhaps not entirely surprised. "Ugh... Okay, I'll tell it to you straight then: Mana transfer is at its most efficient when preformed through carnal methods, namely sex. Basically, Rumia raped you last night and that's why you feel better."

"Somehow, I'm not really surprised." Is all I can say on the matter right at the moment. "Do you mind if I hold off on breakfast so I can go take a bath? I feel like I need one." And I do just that after Aya tells me that I don't need her permission.

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To whom it may concern:

Please, don't start that shit in yet another story. There are people here that prefer reading the story, not your ship-to-ship combat.
Alternatively, go wild - but do it in another thread. Make a special thread for that sort of thing in /words/, for example - divisive arguments about pairings and whatnot. There is a place for any discussion, after all.

Doing it right here, in the middle of story updates that people actually -want- to read, is just plain rude to everyone - the writer included. Show some respect. All you're doing is providing the writer with unnecessary stress that he doesn't need to deal with.

Sage for tripfaggotry and random rambling.
Sorry for sticking my nose into your business, SLDT.
>ship-to-ship combat
That phrase ALWAYS makes me giggle.
>"Somehow, I'm not really surprised." Is all I can say on the matter right at the moment.
He's taking it quite well. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
I can only hope things stay that way.

Hey, don't apologize when there's no need. I don't mind it when people state their piece, though I do mind it when it goes overboard. You most certainly have not though.


I can't help but muse about this when I set my clean clothes onto the counter and take off the set I already have on. Out of all the possible times Rumia could have showed up to attack me, last night would have been almost perfect. I was incapable of defending myself due to my earlier stupidity and I probably wouldn't even have been able to scream, which supports my theory that I'm more of a toy to her than anything else. After all, why would she make it so I could go back to my intended schedule if she intended to kill me the first chance she gets? It's not much comfort though, as it means that I'm going to have to deal with her in a more permanent method before I can truly relax.

I draw the hot water for the bath, then drop my somewhat dirty clothes into the hamper. There's a convenient scrub brush hanging on the wall, as well as some soap on a small plate. I grab them both so I can place them where it's more convenient, then continue my line of thought. It really does make me wonder what kind of perverse fascination the little grue has with me. She claims I'm interesting, and apparently that interest is enough to let me live even if she just wants to attack me. Then for whatever reason I recall the way I felt last night when Rumia pulled me into her darkness, and realize that's the reason why I feel like I need a bath. It's no lie that I have next to no knowledge about sex since it would have been nothing but a hindrance, but it sounds like it's the most intimate way for two people to express their feelings for one another. ...Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but that could mean that her interest in me is one of perverse love, and that scares me.

I turn off the water once it's at an appropriate level, then slip into the tub. After all, if this is love on any level, her aim will become completely unchangeable and sealing her will become an inevitable necessity. After that, I start to scrub with a little more ferocity that I might have liked, but after remembering that feeling from before I can't really help it. The feeling, the smell, it has to go before I meet up with anyone else today. My life really has gotten more complicated in the last few days... Still, there's no sense lingering on this subject. And from there I focus on getting myself cleaned up since there's still a guest here and I need to feed her before doing anything else.
Bitch's going down.
Once I scrub myself a couple steps just short of raw, I step out of the bathtub and let the water drain out. ...Now that I think about it, the very same system that I use to absorb pure water out of the air could be used for this to recycle most of the water I use up in the bath. It literally soaks up nothing but pure water, so sanitation isn't an issue. In fact, the only way anyone would know that I'm recycling stuff like bathwater and sink water is if I tell them... I really should look into doing that. It'd make it possible to take multiple baths a week, which is always a hit with other people as it means you won't smell as much, and I could easily divert the water to other uses. Heaven knows that I have the odd fire to put out, or something to boil water in and having that much extra to use would be of incredible use to me.

I allow myself to slip into my plans in order to knock the ugly thoughts of the grue possibly being in love with me out of my head for now. The last thing I need is to get depressed or put off my work at this stage, especially when I need to be able to focus on what everyone has to say or accept what they can offer for help. Speaking of which, making breakfast for Aya would probably go a long way toward my securing her help for the immediate future, so I make sure I'm fully dressed and head downstairs to cook something relatively nice for breakfast.

I walk by the tengu herself even as she's relaxing next to the un-shaded sealed fire, and a question pops to mind as it will affect what I make or how I make it. "Aya, what's your view on using unfertilized eggs in food?" It's probably a rude question to up and ask like that, but in the end it's just me trying to be considerate.

"I'd prefer it if you didn't use any. Why?" As I thought, her tone takes on a slight irritable edge to it.

"I wanted to know how I should prepare the crepes, and thought I should ask before I acted." And it should go away as I explain myself to her.

"Oh. Thank you then." Aya gives me a minorly surprised look in response, and her body language tells me that she somewhat regrets making herself sound that way before she knew why I was asking. "If you're doing crepes... Nah, I'll let you pick the fruit to use as filling."

"Alright, I'll do that. It will be a little bit, so feel free to do as you wish in the meantime. I'll call you when it's ready." I make a point of answering vocally since she can't see me, and head into the kitchen to make up the batter for breakfast. It'll be a little tricky doing this without eggs to act as a binder, but it's not like I can't think up a substitute, and I'll be testing the first one on myself to make sure I've got it right. ...It's not an excuse to eat first, it's really because whenever I make something pan-fried it tends to not be all that great the first time around and I tend to need a test run or two to ensure it is cooked properly before I feed someone else. As with my question to Aya regarding her preference on eggs, it only looks rude. In addition, people tend to change their tune when they do a comparison taste test so those who know how I cook tend not to complain about not getting the first serving.

Once I'm in the kitchen, I set out the pan and put the stove up to the proper temperature. I won't have to worry about that for a little bit as I set up the sealed fire to where it can only gradually heat up the particular element I'm using rather than applying its full force from the get go. I found that this is in fact a fair bit gentler on the metal pans and that it winds up being easier to cook when things don't run the risk of burning to the bottom almost immediately. Since that's out of the way, I pull out a bowl and start adding the ingredients one by one, making sure to omit the eggs and to use something else to compensate for that, then go through the usual rigorous mixing to make it all blend smoothly. Even after that I don't pour the first measured cup of batter into the pan as I both need a lubricant on the bottom to make sure it doesn't stick, and I need to make sure the strawberry preserves are ready for immediate application so the crepe itself won't have as great a chance to cool down before the recipient gets to eat it. I also pull out some powdered sugar for the same reason.

I've never quite understood why a fair number of people write that Tengu don't like eating eggs. Yes, I know there's the connection to them/corvids being born from eggs, but there are a fair number of raven and crow breeds that do eat eggs.
Cooking a crepe isn't terribly difficult. It just requires a swift, yet delicate hand, the proper spatula so you don't end up tearing it, and a really good sense of timing. All of which have been acquired over the years so it's not at all difficult to actually do this. I'm even paying my full attention to this too, which is an even bigger plus! A flip to let it cook on the other side later, and it's basically done. "Aya, do you want the first one, or do you want to wait for me to get it just right?"

No sooner are the words out of my mouth does the tengu show up next to me. I half expect a wall of air to knock everything clear into next century, but thankfully it never comes. I guess she does have some self-restraint. "Hm, I think I'll take the first one. Mind if I do it up myself?"

"Not at all." I respond as I slide the crepe onto Aya's ready plate, and I wonder when she took the time to grab a new one out of the cupboard. I put that thought aside as I make another one...

I must really not be used to Aya's speed at all, since the fact that she's already got hers all set up and ready to eat mere moments after I place it on her plate. "So, what are your plans for the day?" And she's balancing her eating with asking me things. Sheesh.

"Well..." I flip the crepe over to let it finish cooking... "I plan to check those orbital cannons to see if they're functional yet. If they are, I'm going to have to see about getting some training to control them properly." ..and slide it onto my plate. "After all, even if their cores shine with my will, it won't mean a thing if I can't direct it."

"Hm. You know, I never really saw you as being the type to try to force changes in yourself like this. Sure you'd use alchemy to create tools to help you live comfortably and survive the odd encounter, but..." She pauses to take a bite before continuing. "Huh boy, either you're going to blow yourself up or blow away half of Gensokyo dealing with Rumia. Maybe both."

"I'm not quite sure how to take that." It's either a compliment or an unintentional insult. Either way I think it's not worth answering that.


Speaking of which, maybe I should seek out help first, then test these myself...

[X]I think I will test them out personally. Aya's here so if something does go wrong she can get help.
[X]Maybe it'd be wiser to get some help from someone less accident prone than I...
[X]I think I will test them out personally. Aya's here so if something does go wrong she can get help.
Man, he sure has changed. He know takes precautions and takes it safe.
Well, you know what they say: a broken limb is the best teacher. Or two.
You mean more like 20, plus 14 burns, stolen virginity, etc.

[X]I think I will test them out personally. Aya's here so if something does go wrong she can get help.
File 128226782365.jpg - (7.13KB, 300x318, chef-hat.jpg) [iqdb]
-[X]Make a visit towards... Eientei. If anything it's a perfect spot to not only practice, but to get a second opinion.
--[X]It couldn't hurt having a hospital ward nearby should any, if not all, of the cannons manage to backfire unintentionally.

Ivan probably should have made a career in becoming a renowned chef with Alchemy as a hobby.

Ivan & Eirin: Alchemical Culunarians
Ivan & Aya: Fast Food Our Way
Gensokyo's Test Kitchen (Starring Letty & Ivan)

Cmon you know it'll work astoundingly well during festivals or simply on certain days
[X]Make a visit towards... Eientei. If anything it's a perfect spot to not only practice, but to get a second opinion.

Works for me~!
-[X]Make a visit towards... Eientei. If anything it's a perfect spot to not only practice, but to get a second opinion.
--[X]It couldn't hurt having a hospital ward nearby should any, if not all, of the cannons manage to backfire unintentionally.
---[X]Also bring Aya?

Seems reasonable.
You forget that Ivan's not exactly fond of the place, and Eirin would no doubt pressure him to work under her.

Unless Ivan know of the full potential power of the orbital cannons, he could unknowingly be hit with unimaginably amplified power testing them; especially after that romp last night or hurt those that matter to him.

Also who's to say what else that mana transfer had exchanged besides restoring Ivan's vitality and strength. Could it not be said that this transfer may have given Ivan some of Rumia's influence?

Another important note, while Eirin may be pushy and want to teach Ivan she does at the very least show some respect in allowing Ivan to learn on his own.

One thing does bother me, if Ivan had his VIT/STR restored, what did Rumia get in return; aside from the organic fertilizer...


This is becoming quite delicious
SLDT didn't have eientei as an option nor is he the type to hide a solution for the sake of milking write ins.

And you might be over thinking it.
>>2017 has it right. Eientei isn't wasn't an option because it's not really the straight magic option. As for the theory as to Rumia bearing Ivan's child to avoid sealing... How would that even work?

Oh come on, you know he'd just blow himself up every other time he tried to experiment with cooking. It'd just smell better and he'd get good ratings for it.


With breakfast done and dealt with I decide to check on the cannons to see if they're operational or not. This process is actually less exciting than you might expect, as it involves little more than employing a low-power spell to check if they're at full capacity, which they aren't. I kind of expected that since I couldn't offer much before I exhausted myself completely. I find a nice bag to carry them in and carefully line them up to where they'd all fit perfectly, then write up a note to adhere to the door. Aya just happens to be standing next to me as I do this, and is more than a little curious as to why I'm doing it. "So, I take it you're going somewhere with those?" She asks, not truly interrupting my thought process.

"I figure that if I'm going to test these things today, I'll do it at Eientei." I make a point of putting my jacket on before slinging the bag over my shoulder, since today looks like it's going to be another cold one. Mostly because it looks like yesterday's snow froze over and that there's yet another light snowfall.

"Wouldn't Marisa be better for that sort of thing? She is planning on swinging by later to help." Aya's understandably concerned, and it probably involves the fact that she knows that I actually don't know all that much about straight up magic as alchemy requires a slightly different approach than normal spell-slinging and that it would be far wiser to simply wait for/go to someone who actually knows what she's doing.

Fortunately, I happen to both know and trust someone who fits the bill, even if I find myself acting a little wary around her. "Simple. I figure I should be close to, or in a hospital before I start on the off chance that these things blow up or fail in some spectaular manner." I roll my eyes as I say that, mostly because I'm positive that Hina removed my misfortune and that I should be less prone to the spectacular failures of the past. The key word being 'less', since while I can attribute a large number of my failures to bad luck, I can also attribute some of them to plain old stupidity. Marisa knows what she's doing, and knows other people who know what they're doing, but Eirin not only knows what she's doing, but can both offer sound advice and patch me up in the event I misinterpret that advice, ignore it, or screw it up anyway. So for the time being, I'm going to make a visit to the doctor.

Aya doesn't really respond to my comment so much as she simply follows me along as I head out the door. I can hardly complain since I've found myself enjoying the company as of late. I make sure to affix the note to the door before taking flight and heading off in the direction of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. "If you don't mind my asking, if you wanted to get help from Eirin, then why not do so before now? Or even stick to one mentor?" Aya happened to ask me as she leisurely floated backwards ahead of me. "From the sounds of it, both Eirin and Marisa have taught you aspects of their different schools of magic, and yet lately you sound like you can't decide on which path to take." Of course, this doesn't stop her from at least sounding right.

All I can do is shrug in response, aside from saying something in response. "Marisa was my mentor for a little while, but it wasn't really as fun as straight up alchemy. As for Eirin... I don't really know what I want to think of her at this point." Kind of a weak arguement, but it's more or less true as Eirin tends to have some very interesting lines of logic at times, most likely because she's both a Lunarian and an immortal while I'm a normal- Okay, sort of normal human. "I keep declining her offers to become her apprentice, but at the same time the only reasons I can give are that I don't want the help and that I want to be able to come up with, and do amazing things without outside help. Looking back on it, those bits of logic made me sound..." I had to think of the right word for a moment before I said it. "Immature, maybe?"

"Considering that even if you did do something amazing on your own, Eirin could do something just as spectacular in a fraction of the time... Yeah. It does sound a little immature to just keep on blowing yourself up when you could have gotten past that stage a dozen times over by now." It's a bit annoying to have Aya agree with that point so readily, but it's the truth so there's not much point in arguing about it. "So what's the real reason? I get the feeling that Eirin's a bit kooky, but apprenticing under her can't do you any more harm than you do yourself, and I get the feeling you don't think that re-inventing the wheel is the best way to go about things."

I cringed when I thought about it. There really wasn't much of a reason, other than the fact that Eirin had to be the one person I felt the second to least comfortable around. It's kind of silly when you think about it, since she's been nothing but nice to me and has backed off from trying to get me to apprentice under her without much effort on my part. By all means, I shouldn't feel this way about her. "You know what it's like to both like someone and be uneasy around them?"

"...You know, you almost sound like you're in love with her." Aya raises an eyebrow as she considers what I've said so far, and she's jumping to what's probably the least likely answer she could possibly have come up with.

"What makes you say that?" It's still a blindside as far as guesses go, as it's not something that's ever crossed my mind. Not that I've felt 'love' when near Eirin, not unless it feels different from when I'm near Letty.

"Eh, it probably is one big guess, but you're determined to prove yourself to her despite not needing to, you wind up spending a lot of time near her, and as you say, you like yet feel uneasy around her. Not to mention you don't even know what sex is, or much of anything about women and how they make men feel." So now she's reaching based on my lack of knowledge on the subject matter? I get the feeling that sort of thing is more hard-wired into one's genetics than anything else, and as such is not something you need to be taught about. You just sort of know it, and I only really feel that sort of thing around the snow woman.

Tis a normal thing to feel a bit uncomfortable around Eirin, she is rather imposing one way or another.
It's seems that his feelings regarding Eirin are a bit more complicated than they seemed. Let's see how this goes.

The 'getting around being sealed' part of the 'bearing Ivan's child' part?
Sorry, I meant 'or', not 'of'
The part where Rumia bearing Ivan's child would protect her from being sealed, or the part where she would even want to bear his child to begin with.


"So you're basing this line of logic based on the fact that I don't know much of anything about women?" It's not a bad line of logic, just a shade presumptuous.

"Well, yeah. No offense, but you seem like the type who's just about oblivious to the affections of a woman. Obviously you aren't, but sheesh..." Aya merely shakes her head as she says that. I wonder if my mannerisms really exasperate her that much, or if it's merely my selective learning? "Maybe you should look at her in skimpy clothing sometime."

"That's neither particularly productive, nor would it really resolve anything. All that would do is make me feel even more awkward from there on out and make it even harder to work with her." While I imagine that the aforementioned skimpy clothes would look quite good, there's the fact that I don't think I can afford to think of Eirin in that way if I want to keep myself productive. Besides, I already find myself wanting Letty, and wouldn't she be enough?

"Ah, so you do admit there's awkwardness between the two of you." Aya's probably never going to let the subject drop now that she's gotten a hold of it. It seems that while she's been 'convinced' to print honest stories, she seems to have either gained or retained the knack for never letting go of something that interests her. "I suppose I won't get any more from just talking to you, so I think I'll do some passive research into the subject." She's smiling an enthusiastic tengu smile, and it's worrying me.

Still, there's not much point in keeping at that worrying since we've arrived while talking. Or rather, I guided Aya into the side of Eientei without slowing down at all, causing her to slam into the side with a dull thump. I, on the other hand, walk onto the porch with a bit more grace and knock on the door. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a small earth rabbit answers the door.

[X]Ask it to take you to Eirin.
[X]Ask it to take you to Kaguya.
[X]Ask it to take you someplace nice and quiet, yet within relative earshot of the clinic.
[X]Ask it to take you to Eirin.

Aya doesn't know Eirin very well does she? I think most that do would be at some ill ease with her.

Maybe Ivan needs to seize the day and give Letty a kiss that'd warm the coldest hearts.
[X] Ask it to take you to Kaguya.

I figure Eirin's working on something, and Kaguya has plenty of free time to keep an eye on Ivan.
[X] Ask it to take you to Eirin.

This is the reason Ivan came here, right?
[X]Ask it to take you to Eirin.

Got to quit dodging and running away Ivan. Besides Eirin "assessment" on Ivan's pet project shouldn't hurt too much
[X] Ask it to take you to Eirin.
[X]Ask it to take you to Kaguya.
[X]Ask it to take you to Eirin.
[X]Ask it to take you to Eirin.
"Hello there." I crouch down to where I'm not quite as imposing to the small rabbit. It's not really necessary since they know me almost as well as they know the regular residents, but I've found it's generally the polite thing to do as not all of them are comfortable dealing with beings several times larger than themselves. "Could you please lead me to Eirin?" My lucks seems to be holding out so far. This one looks a bit skittish, but it's holding its ground. It's even nodding, though it looks like it could bolt at any moment.

"Geeze Ivan, way to be a jerk." Aya dusts herself off as she walks over, and despite the slight irritation in her voice she manages to avoid actively whacking me over the head like she might have wanted to.

"You kept trying to butt into my personal life when it's pretty obvious I'm not comfortable about the subject." I'd also point out that it's not my problem if Aya can't watch where she's going, but there's a limit as to how big a jerk I want to be here. I don't really think Aya deserves it.

"That's a load of crap. You were perfectly fine with telling me about it earlier." Aya's still annoyed as she strolls right on in without waiting for me, yet she stops before she gets too far in. "And if you really wanted me to shut up about it, you should have said something."

The rabbit seems a bit nervous about bouncing around on its own, so it asks me if I'm willing to carry it as it directs me. I'm perfectly happy to agree to this since I'm not comfortable with traversing Eientei's partially frozen interior all by myself. "Would you have backed down if I asked?" I still manage to get that question out as I step through, and I see why Aya's stopped dead in her tracks until I follow her in. The halls have a literal sheet of ice on every surface, and the corners are now little more than a curved surface. It looks more like a smoothed square than a hall by this point, which will make actually getting anywhere a nightmare if the doors are as frozen shut as I think.

Aya twitches irritably as I ask this, yet she makes no effort to walk off like she might have wanted to. "I probably would have! Not to mention asking me would have been more polite than letting me slam against a wall!" She's still not moving.

"Aya..." I shake my head for a moment before continuing. "I'm sorry about that. We really should drop this for now though, it doesn't look like it's a bright idea to stick around when Jack's still around."

"Jack?" Aya asks in an inquisitive tone. "Who's that?"

"Someone who's waited waaaaaay too long to get his shot at another lovely lady." A voice seems to echo from the ice itself. Too distant to tell precisely where it's coming from, but far too close for me to be comfortable. "Not to mention that alchemist. Not only are you courting one of my choices, but you've been an indirect source of so much pain that it's not even possible for me to just pass it off as a fluke." It looks like he's not going to pop up just yet either.

"So, do you have any more personal enemies I should know about?" Aya stepped over to me and whispered this to me, and I note that she's actually rather cold. Not only is she uncomfortable with this, she's also not happy about how cold it is in here.

"I'm sure I'll make a few more before this is all over. I have an uncanny knack for angering people when I do not mean to." I just roll my eyes and walk down the hall the rabbit pointed me in the direction of, intent on ignoring this yet unimpressive threat. After all, how many times has he been pounded into the dirt now?

"Hey!" Shouts the disembodied voice. "You're not going to get away with just ignoring me like you have in the past! Try it and you'll be a-" And it gets cut off again. Obviously something or someone beat on him again.

"Like I said, completely forgettable." I just keep on walking down the hallway, carrying the bunny in one hand while leading Aya along with the other. Not necessary by any means, but there's no point in taking a risk if I can avoid it.
I wonder if Tewi crushed Jack's 'ice cubes' yet.
The correct question would be "How many times has she crushed his ice cubes?"
The small rabbit continues to point me in the right direction until we come across what must be the door to the clinic... Only it's blocked by a three-foot thick ice sheet. "Ha ha! You really think I'd let you get in that easily?" Jack's talking again, but in a higher pitch. I'll have to ask Tewi just how hard she hits that spot, it'll be good to know if I'm ever in a bad position. "I made sure to shut all the inner sanctum entrances tight, so outside of divine intervention, there's no way you're getting out of this alive!"

"How so?" I simply raise my eyebrow as I catch a faint glimpse of the offender at the other end of the hallway. I note that the bunny's burying her head in my jacket and that Aya's grip is starting to get a bit painful... I slide the bunny under my jacket to free up a hand and hastly open the bag. Almost on cue, the cannons activate and levitate out of the bag.

"Oh, nothing too complicated, just this." Jack simply waves his hand, but in the case of such a powerful winter spirit, a simple motion can cause devastating effects. Namely, the creation of a number of ice spears, which he launches at me. Note the fact that I used 'me' here. Jack only wants me dead in that manner, he wants to preserve Aya apparently. "Now, would you kindly die?" There's an almost psychotic look in his eyes as he watches the spears make their way toward me.

I don't move. Primarily because I don't think I have to. The cannons have brought themselves into a defense position in front of me that will catch/rebound/bounce them all, and I can see the barrier. ...On second thought, the highest one is about head level, so three steps to the right...

Two miss, five connect, and one is deflected mid-flight by an arrow. Said arrow just punched through the ice wall, narrowly missing my side by inches as it flies toward its intended target. It still manages to fly true until it knocks that last spear off course (said spear embedded itself into the wall no less), at which point it takes a slight dive. Jack doesn't move either, but that's more because he's surprised that anything got through that. The other reason he stops moving is because that arrow just punched a new hole through him that's right about crotch level. "Ivan? I didn't hit you did I?" Eirin's voice is actually able to come through now that there's a small hole in the ice.

"No. You got Jack though, and I must say that your shot took a rather amusing twist." Aya's basically rooted to the spot out of fear and confusion, though the former is quickly wearing off. Thankfully the rabbit is clinging to me of her own accord so I can pull out a bottled fire to melt the ice with.

"No need. Just give me a moment." I hold back for a moment with a quizzical look on my face until she says something else. "You might want to take cover or direct that shield toward the door." At which point I step in front of Aya and face the sheet of ice.

"Ivan...?" Is all Aya gets out before the next unbelievable event happens.

Namely, Eirin smashing through the ice sheet with one well-placed kick. The ice fragments bounce off the shield, though the cannons won't be able to do much more without exhausting themselves completely and requiring a full recharge. "Not a perfect job..." The doctor whacks some of the sharper edges off before letting her eyes drift over to the figure of Jack Frost, who is lying in a fetal position on the icy floor with an arrow in his crotch. "So that's what you meant by amusing." Eirin smiles and shakes her head as she tears one of the remaining chunks from the ground to let us past. "Though I think you have the more interesting story to tell. Why don't you come on in? I'll get something warm to drink."

I simply shake my head as I lead Aya into the clinic, shutting the door behind me.

[X]Start with the cannons.
[X]Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.
[X]...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.

The former because three feet of ice is really hard to break, and the latter because Jack has escalated from annoyance to real problem.
[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.

three feet of ice can easily support a car, and she just kicks through it? whoa.
Eirin isn't known for her raw power, just her dubious manners, near unrivaled intelligence, and one great figure.

[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.
[x] Then work on the cannons, hopefully in a manner that doesn't knock you out.

It's bad enough that Ivan got... by Rumia, he doesn't need some JackAss trying to kill him. Seriously we ought to find a way to throw those two together, lock them up and wait until they're so into each other that they're not a threat. That or until they kill each other; either way works.
[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.
[x] Then work on the cannons, hopefully in a manner that doesn't knock you out.
[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.
-[x]Recharge the cannons, slowly, while you talk.
[X]Start with the cannons.

Eirin must be absolutely bored to not have already done something about Jack; or Jack's really just one massive nuisance.
[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] ...Ask where the hell she learned to hit like that. It's high time she told you.
[X] Ask why in the world has she not dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion.
-[x]Recharge the cannons, slowly, while you talk.

If the "battery" on those things is so short as to defend against 1 barrage and 1 flying debris incident... i dont know what good they can be, unless they werent fully charged (we dont know how much they got charged before WE needed recharging...)
Once I lead Aya into one of the more comfortable parts of the clinic, namely one of the ones that just happens to have been re-purposed into a living-room/kitchen-like space for the odd times Eirin needs something to eat or drink and can't get away from what she's going. I roll my eyes when I notice that there's a coffee machine sized spot on the counter. Obviously Kaguya's doing after the last incident involving the doctor's over-consumption of coffee. I let go of Aya and allow the small earth rabbit to drop down out of my jacket before taking a seat on one of the chairs, at which point I decide which of the two most pressing questions to ask first. "Alright, it's high time you explained how you can hit that hard. I've never known you to be a juicer so that can't be it." Eirin looks at me with a sideways glance as she finishes up with the cocoa.

"That's a relatively simple explanation Ivan. You see, I've been practicing archery since the Lunar capital was first established. I think I've already told you how that enhances the upper body with minor improvements to the lower, correct?" Eirin then deposits all four cups of cocoa onto the coffee table, one of which is picked up by the rabbit almost immediately.

"...Just how high a poundage are you working with now?" I almost cringe when I consider the curve. Even if she started with something lightweight, like a twenty pound bow, the amount of time she's had to gradually adjust herself to bows with higher draws would make her frighteningly powerful alone. She'd obviously have to work her legs as well in order to keep the recoil from landing her flat on her back every time she fires, but that...

"I think I'm up to... Hm. I really have forgotten to keep track over the years. I should break out that old pressure plate I used to make up for the deficiencies in my log." Despite her saying that, she sits down in a chair not too far from the one I've sat down in. She's merely looking off into space as she tries to either remember what her current bow draw is or where her pressure plate is. Eirin facepalms with a smile on her face as something occurs to her. "Oh right, I broke it about a hundred years back. I suppose I'll have to find the time to make a new one now that you've reminded me about it."

"Uh... That doesn't explain anything." Aya is understandably confused by all this since we haven't bothered to explain any of this to her. She's sitting on my side opposite Eirin, and I get the feeling she's starting to understand why I might be a little conscious of the doctor.

"Simple. Eirin doesn't work solely on her medicine. She's an archer by hobby, and from what she's told me she's had her whimsical moments, such as taking time off her medical development to study martial arts. She's been doing the former ever since the Lunar capital was established, and the latter..." I look to Eirin to get a confirmation on how long she's been doing the latter while taking a sip of cocoa.

"I think I spent roughly two decades every century for the last four or so centuries with refresher courses every few years. It might have gone back farther than that, but I really don't recall anymore." Eirin shrugs and smiles as she answers, even closing her eyes as she admits that she can't recall just how long she spend honing her body. "It's been so long, and I think I've forgotten a few things as the years have worn on. Even with the Hourai Elixer, my memory isn't perfect." She then takes a sip again. "Even so, I haven't lost my strength, and even if I do I can get it back fairly easily."

I guess your Eirin took it then? (That's up for debate in canon, leaning against)

Though if archery makes her that strong no wonder her back can handle the load it bears.
As far as archery goes, there used to be bows with 100 pounds of draw that were used in ancient times by military archers, and I know firsthand that you will adjust to and eventually find that whatever you used as your starting/current draw is too easy. Warning: Skip if you don't want to bother reading through my thought process. I confess that it's a bit of creative licence on my part, but it's one built on logic and personal experience. In Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth, Yorihime is shown to to be absurdly strong physically and while I don't recall quite where it's stated I do know Eirin is even stronger than the lunar princesses. How much is what I'm taking a guess at. I also know, and have previously stated, that you'll gradually grow stronger the longer you continue to do it. Again, I'm not quite sure but I'm quite certain that Eirin is extremely long lived so if she had started even before the lunar capital was formed, was dedicated enough, and upped the draw every time it got too easy for her, she'd be absurdly strong from that alone. After that, any further application of that strength would probably be out of curiosity or boredom. Once again, that's just my take on things.


"So the lunar doctor's also well-versed in physical combat, eh? You've got quite the repitoire of moves to draw from." I don't know whether to be surprised or not by Aya's enthusiasm to learn more about Eirin. On the one hand, this might convince her that I have every reason to be wary of the doctor, but there's also the chance that she may not see it and want to discover the source of my unease. Or perhaps this will all wind up in a story and I'll be sorry I even brought her.

"I do." Eirin nods in assent. "Variety is the spice of life, and I tend to make that little saying a bit more encompasing than the originator probably intended." I roll my eyes as I've unintentionally/done so while kicking and screaming scratched the surface on that particular subject. I'm not going to go into it, but I will say this: Eirin has some very interesting tastes.

"Is that so?" Aya looks like she's genuinely enthusiastic now that she's been told that there's probably a couple year's worth of headlines in the woman sitting next to me. ...I'll have to make sure she doesn't try to dig too deep. I'm sure that Eirin could replicate what Aya's already had to suffer once before for annoying the wrong people.

"Pardon my interruption, but why in the world haven't you dealt with Jack in a more permanent fashion? He seems to have gone from 'pest' to 'threat' if the outer sections of Eientei are any indicaiton." And now for one of the points that genuinely concerns me: The fact that it looks like nothing's been done about the winter spirit.

"Oh, him?" Eirin raises an eyebrow as she recalls the sight of a Jack lying in a fetal position with an arrow in his crotch. "I certainly have tried, but even the most dispicable things I've come up with haven't dissuaded him from attacking repeatedly. In fact, it seems he's just grown more irritable." I shudder noticably as my mind comes up with possible scenarios, and I might have felt sorry for him if he weren't such a bastard. "Though I may just seal him soon if he keeps it up. We've come dangerously close to losing some of our rabbits thanks to his ever escalating tactics, and I'm not sure what I'd do if I lost Reisen." She then looks to me for a moment before adding something to that. "And I'd certainly miss you if you were killed."

"So more that you can't take him out through conventional means than you haven't tried." I'm relieved to hear that the doctor's putting at least some effort into this, though I feel that I shouldn't go responding to that without taking great care in how I word it.

"More or less." Eirin simply finishes her cocoa after that, letting a cold silence hang in the room. The 'cold' part is more because the doors just got busted open, and maybe the 'silence' part was a bit exaggerated.

"Ivan, you idiot!" Marisa brings her broom to a screetching halt in front of the table, dismounts, then promptly starts chewing me out. "You exhausted yourself yesterday, you shouldn't be going out at all! ...Even if it is to go see Eirin! Do you have any idea how long it takes someone to recover from mana exhaustion, and what could happen if they rush it?" Now that I think about it, I left out the part where I recieved a midnight 'mana transfer' from a certain grue in my note. That's probably for the better since Marisa would probably push herself trying to hunt down and either subdue or kill Rumia outright.

[X]Try to knock out her arguement piece by piece. You did do things the smart way, even if it doesn't look like it.
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.

I assume the next bit is "Doctor, what diseases could i have gotten from the grue?"
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.

In soviet russia, Grue impregnates YOU!
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.

She might not even rage at all but end up massively guilty for leaving Ivan alone with just a single Tengu.
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.
[X]Wait for her to finish chewing you out. It's only natural that she worry.
-[X]And you need her relatively calm for this next bit.

Probably the best way to handle it, may need to prepare the shields while Ivan's at it as well; think of it as an experiment should Marisa lose it~!
I could have diverted the course of the arguement by systematically picking apart her arguement bit by bit, but I feel it would be more prudent of me to simply let her metaphorical fire run itself out before I go dropping a potentially worse bombshell on her. ...Okay, not 'potentially', it is worse as far as most people are concerned. Regardless, I simply sit there and listen as she chews me out for the next few minutes. Neither Aya nor Eirin step in to help, which is to be expected since while the former could help she'd simply set Marisa into overdrive, and Eirin simply doesn't know. It's not that far off to assume that the doctor has already spotted the gaping hole in the story and is working out what might have happened, though I sincerely hope she keeps her mouth shut for now.


"Hmph..." Marisa's finally cooled off to a degree, though she's no less annoyed with me. "Anyway, I guess Eirin already took care of you, so it's about time we headed home."

"Actually, there may be no need." I'm not one hundred percent sure that telling the witch this is the brightest move in the world, but odds are good she'd find out about it eventually anyway, and it's almost always better to tell someone this sort of thing on your own terms and not theirs.

"Eh? How so?" The witch tilts her head out of curiosity, and perhaps out of confusion as well.

"You recall telling me about mana transfer the other day?"

"Yeah..." She raises her eyebrow as she begins to think about why I asked that. "Why?"

"It appears the grue paid me a nighttime visit to do just that. Why, I don't know." And now I'm bracing myself mentally for what will surely come.

The first thing I hear is Eirin spitting out her drink. (she went for a second cup while no one was paying attention) The next sound... There isn't one. Marisa looks like she's been dumbstruck and doesn't speak at all.

"That wasn't something I ever expected to hear." Eirin's set her now slightly wet napkin down as she speaks, and she doesn't exactly look thrilled either. "It's also odd. It's clear that Rumia is hunting Ivan, but this is starting to contradict normal predator/prey relations."

"Not all youkai hunt for food you know, some hunt for sport and are more than happy to let their prey go so long as they were sufficently entertaining. There's the rare instance where a predator youkai might fall in love with its prey, but that's a really rare scenario." Aya finally speaks up after remaining silent as to not become the target of Marisa's annoyance. I can't really blame her for that.

"So..." Marisa's brain finally kicks back in after several minutes of freezing, and her voice has a very forced steadiness to it. "Let me get this straight. Rumia basically raped you in the middle of the night."

"That's what it appears to be." It looks like she's about to ask a rather obvious question regarding this turn of events.

"I would have thought you'd be a bit more upset over this than you are." ...That's right, she doesn't know that I intentionally crippled my chances of learning about that sort of thing. It's mostly because I never told her and she never asked. Judging from her statement, it sounds like she simply assumed that I was like every other guy on the planet and had daydreams about perverted things.

"Trauma requires one to be conscious of what is happening to him or herself when it occurs. You say that Ivan was in a state of mana deprivation, which would put him into a catatonic state until his body recovers, either naturally or via an infusion. Given that even an infusion wouldn't have instantaneous results, it's entirely possible that Ivan would have kept on being oblivious to what happened had no one put the pieces together." Eirin simply looks at Marisa, with the latter eventually making eye contact with the former. "In addition, the boy has very little knowledge of the opposite sex, so being told he had been raped would have next to no impact when you take the previous statements into account."

Marisa's changed from being upset and forcibly masking it to genuinely surprised. This kind of reversal is pretty rare when I actually think about it, as there aren't many opportunities to flip the situation around. "You... She's not joking, is she?"

"Nope." A simple head shake goes along with that, and why would I need to do anything else? "I don't think I've even seen ladies underwear before."

"..." Aya doesn't really say anything, until... "Geeze. Someone needs to get laid, and properly."

>"Geeze. Someone needs to get laid, and properly."
and there he is, sitting right in the middle of three people who would probably be glad to show him the ropes.
I can just see Ivan deflecting even this proposition, because he's prude like that.
And if not for Aya butting in that one scene, Letty might have shown him by that point.
>"Geeze. Someone needs to get laid, and properly."
"Geeze. Someone needs to get laid, and properly."

Aya, we all know how much you want to get in Ivan's pants...

Aya just happens to be strutting around her house wearing not her normal black skirt, but a pair of pants that look like they belong to someone else. She also happens to be reading a letter at the time too. "I'm wearing his pants already silly!" Her bright smile and sunny disposition annoy me to no end, especially since I've been strapped to a board without my pants. "Hm... Going to need some lube..."


Aya's comment earned her a scowl from Marisa, who seems to be none to pleased with the fact that I was raped. Of course, this might be only part of the reason, but who can say? "Don't you think that that's a pretty tactless thing to say Aya?"

Aya just rolls her eyes in response. "Didn't you listen to Eirin, or pay attention to Ivan's general lack of response? If he really was affected I wouldn't have said anything, but since he wasn't, I see no reason to hold back."

"Awkwardness aside, I assume you wanted me to look at those cannons of yours?" The doctor provides a nice out in the form of a conversation change. One that just happens to steer the conversation clear away from the dangerous territory it was drifting into.

"I did." I allow the cannons to float around me, though I note that they don't seem to sit in one spot. They, like my control, are all over the place. "Or rather, I need to learn how to control them properly and figured I should be close to a hospital before I start."

That earned a small laugh from the doctor, which she tries to hide by covering her mouth with her hand. The only issue with this is that her eyes betray her. ...I wonder what compells women to do that, as it doesn't hide their amusement at all. "Oh? Showing some foresight for one? How unlike you." She then proceeds to look one of the cannons over, giving each part a thorough check. I question her methods a little when she looks straight into the lens, as everyone knows that you should not look into the operational end of a device. After all, who knows when it might accidentally go off? "Still, they look like they'll preform their jobs admirably once they've built up a sufficient charge, so the only thing left to do would be to learn how to control them. Suffice to say that I might not be the best teacher for that sort of thing."

"Not to offend, but I wasn't planning on having you teach me. Advise me? Most certainly." I only really say that as Eirin is not the most prominent example of control that I've ever met. Or perhaps that's merely self-control. The thought's enough to make my eyes roll on their own, but I hold back the urge until I'm out of eyesight.

"The only advise I feel the need to give is that you should have either a very strong healing spell or a quick way to get back here. I haven't tried to consciously control satellites before, and the princess is... Well... Whimsical." It's clear she picked her words very carefully in case Kaguya is snooping around the clinic for her own reasons, but I understand the meaning well enough. Kaguya, being a long-lived immortal, holds little regard for her own safety and will occasionally partake in actions that are less than sane. This is where I agree with Eirin: I need Kaguya to decide to do something crazy on a whim like I need a grue in my bed. "I'm sure you or your friends know of people who are much better suited for that particular job than I."

[X]Alice controls those dolls, does she not?
[X]Marisa knows me quite well and this might take her mind off things.
[X]Ask Marisa if she knows of anyone who might be of assistance here.
[X]Ask Aya if she happens to know anyone.
[X]Surely the brain of the moon can't be that bad at controlling hands free weapons.
[X]Alice controls those dolls, does she not?

As much as I'd like to think of an excuse to see Letty, I'd think Alice'd be by far the best at this.

I'd think Marisa would say the same thing.

One'd wonder how Alice'd take the news of Ivan getting "Grued"
[X]Alice controls those dolls, does she not?
[X] Alice controls those dolls, does she not?

Going to Alice would make the most sense.
[X]Alice controls those dolls, does she not?

Sensibility ho!
[X]Alice controls those dolls, does she not?

Sensibility? In my Alchemist? It's more likely than you think.


Of all the possible options, Alice appeals the most. Not only has she, according to various sources that may or may not be correct, been well versed in the art of remotely controlling automatons all her life, she's naturally gifted with a high degree of common sense, something everyone here lacks. ...Well, save for Aya, but it seems rather forced at times. "In that case, since my saying it does not offend, I think seeing Alice would be the superior choice here as she's already familiar with the type of magic I'll need to learn."

"But doesn't that completely contradict the reason why you came here to begin with?" Aya seems a bit curious about my sudden change of heart, but there should be a few immediate and blatantly obvious advantages. One of which is not having to worry about Mr. Psycho Snowman trying to impale me sometime during the training.

"It does, but I have my reasons." I then get up off the small sofa to put the cannons back, then sling it over my shoulder while approaching Marisa. "Besides, if I do get hurt, I trust the two of you to deliver me to safety." A small smile should seal that cheesy line. I may not employ them often, but when I do, I mean it. Marisa is odd yet I'd entrust my life to her if need be. Aya hasn't quite gotten that far yet, but I believe in her.

I get some small amusement out of making the witch blush like that, especially since that's such a rare event. Opportunites to make her blush are truly few and far between, and out of those it'll be more likely to be out of embarrassment than anything else. "Okay, okay, I get the point." She mounts her broom on the spot, gesturing for me to get on. "I'll make this run snappy since I bet this broom won't be too gentle on ya." On the flip side, the opportunities for her to make me feel uncomfortable are more common. That shark smile in combination with her patting the spot just behind her...

"You do know that I can fly solo now, don't you?" I've ridden on her broom before, yes, but that's when she wasn't scaring me a bit. The fact that she's bound to attract fairies with her antics and that she's bound to be less than gentle in her flight contributes to that.

"I know, it'll just take forever and you're the one who keeps going on about being efficient." ...I must say that it's not entirely pleasant to have one's arguement thrown back in one's face when he least expects it. "So what are you so scared of anyway? You think I'm going to get rough with you during the flight?"

Of course, there's the off chance that she's just asking me this to test whether or not I'm serious about my previous statement. As a result, I chuckle as I give up on arguing this pointless arguement to mount the broom just behind her, wrapping my arms around her waist in the process. "Well then." Is all I can really say in the matter. "Farewell for now, Eirin." I wave the doctor goodbye, and am slightly annoyed that that's all I really have time to do as Marisa bolts off almost immediately afterwards.
Aya follows suit with some effort, though she looks enthusiastic with the idea of not being in a place seiged by winter itself. She also looks minorly annoyed at the fact that Marisa's basically darted off with me, without her. "You could wait up you know!" Now she's flying alongside us through the corridors, yet that's not what catches my eye. It seems old Jack has moved on for the time being, which worries me since it means either he's licked his wounds and is setting up another attack, or he's gone for now.

"Heh, sorry! It's just that Ivan needs to learn not to blow himself up!" Her enthusiasm is another worrying point as far as I'm concerned.

"That's more of an excuse and you know it!"

Their exchange goes on like this for a little while, which means I've effectively tuned it out for the time being. If I need to talk to them, I will, but there's no need right now. Instead I focus on the icy, lifeless halls of Eientei to keep an eye out for any unwanted attention.

It does annoy me that Jack Frost has hit the point that he'd prefer to kill me than leave me be, especially when he's brought everything that's happened to him on himself. It feels like I'm little more than an outlet for his anger and bad luck, and that annoys me more than anything else. The fact that he seems to think Letty is his is another point I happen to dislike about him. He seems to treat people as little more than property instead of the living, sentient things they are. There's no real point in digging at that man's bad points though. What I really need to foucs on is getting my act together to deal with him as well as Rumia. ...The odd part is that I believe that the latter would be more likely to rip apart the former when push comes to shove, but only a fool goes in assuming success.

"Hey, are you spacing out back there?" The witch winds up snapping me out of my thought process just as we're passing over the human village. As I've said, I've been on her broom before, yet the speeds she's capable of moving at are still incredible.

"It seems that way." I answer in a rather simple manner since my head's still not entirely in this conversation.

"I was just asking if you're really okay. You look like you're still a bit out of it." She doesn't look at me, but given that she's dipped into the forest itself instead of flying above it I can understand why. "The fact that Rumia raped you can't have sat that well with you, can it?"

"No, it hasn't. However, if I allow such a thing to drag me down, it would detract from my ability to defend myself when I really need it, and given that I seem to be picking up more enemies as time goes on..." I don't even have to finish that sentence. Rumia may just want to keep me around as a toy, but Jack wants to end me outright for his own petty reasons. It's really rather troublesome.

File 128425437067.jpg - (79.27KB, 463x462, my-body-is-ready.jpg) [iqdb]
His body is not ready for so many enemies.
Marisa just shrugs in response. "If that's the case, then it's fine to ask us for help. Everyone knows the spellcard rules and what happens if you break them, so all you'd have to do is let Reimu know and Jack'll be face-first in the dirt so fast he'll feel like he did a time warp." She then slows down to where she can actually make eye contact without crashing, at which point she looks me in the eyes. "Maybe it's just me being selfish here, but I don't want you to supress your emotions to keep one painful thing under control."

I shake my head in response. "It's hard to feel anything over something that happened while I was incapable of feeling anything. It does drag up memories of one of the more recent attacks, but it's a poor analogue. I have no idea what it would even have felt like." It's the truth. I've never been with a woman, nor would I have ever consciously pursued one before now. "I'm not supressing anything though."

"You're denying Ivan's nature pretty hard Marisa." Aya drops her speed a bit to get back in line with us, and she looks like she's at least interested in what we're talking about. "He's basically been in denial about his nature as a male for most his life. Surely you've been aware of that?"

"Can we stop talking about this? I know the idea seems absolutely facinating to you girls, but in truth I'd rather stop hearing about it for now." Perhaps it would lead to Marisa having a better understanding of how I work, but it's not really worth it right now. I just want to learn how to control the weapons we've created for me to defend myself with, and this conversation will never get us closer twoard that goal. "As for your idea Marisa, I may talk to Reimu about that. I'm not sure I want to deal with both the grue and the snowman at the same time."

"Fine... I'm just trying to get the truth driven through Marisa's thick skull since she doesn't seem to believe that it's possible for you to be completely oblivious to women." Aya's keeping an eye on her path through the forest instead of just cockily floating with her back to the path. It's a good thing too since her having an accident here might be more trouble than any of us really anticipated or wanted.

"It's not really the sort of thing I should be asking you about anyway, at least when there are nosy tengu around." The witch is minorly annoyed too, but it's probably more because Aya's getting in the way of her getting more out of me than she did. Perhaps she can't be blamed for wanting to try since she may want to find out more about me than I felt comfortable telling her, or that which I deemed irrelevant and didn't tell her. "I might push the issue later though, so don't think you're off the hook yet."

"I wouldn't expect anything less of you Marisa." Even so, I can't help but smile at her determination. ...I might not get why she's so determined to understand but I enjoy it all the same. "We're close to Alice's home now. Aya, you plan on sticking around for this?"

"May as well. You're proving to be an interesting case, even if you draw all the unwanted attention. ...Might not want to stick around if Jack shows back up, but this is fine for now." Aya does bring up another point. If Jack's going to be serious about attacking me, then I'll need to think about how to reinforce my house to withstand a massive freeze-over or else face the possibility of having it collapse on me. Even if I have an absurd determination, even I can't survive being crushed like that.

Alice's home quickly comes into view after that last comment, and both Aya and Marisa stop well short of the mark. This is good since the last time Marisa let me off her broom above ground, it was less a dismount and more a launch, and I don't think the puppeteer would appreciate it if I demolished her door twice in a row now. ...I still feel kind of guilty for having to trash her place to begin with, but that's a resolved issue and one that I have no need to beat myself up over. "Yo, Alice!" Marisa walks up to the door and knocks a couple times to try to get her attention. "You've got guests!"

[x] Wait patiently
Oh, come on, it hasn't even been a full day yet!


A few minutes pass as we wait for the puppeteer to answer the door. It's not impossible that she's simply busy and didn't even hear us, but it's not worth just walking away from this just yet. "Come on, I know you're in there!" Marisa bangs on the door once more, tapping her foot on the ground in an annoyed fashion. The odds are good that there will be some forced entry here in a few moments if Alice doesn't answer soon.

...Still no answer.

"Alright Alice, don't say I didn't warn you!" Marisa then sets her broom up to where it will batter right through the door, then hops on it. "I know she complains about this, but how else am I going to get her attention?" She looks to me as she's ready to batter through the puppeteer's door for the... However many times it's been.

"You could check to see if the door's unlocked you know. If it is, then it's safe to assume she's here or else has forgotten to lock it." Aya then steps over to the very same door Marisa's about to ram down to press down on the little latch mechanism that's located just above the handle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it doesn't move when she applies pressure. "So she might not be home."

"She's always home when I come. Sometimes she's just shut up upstairs working on her dolls, and sometimes she gets so absorbed in her work that there's no way for anyone to get her attention unless they rock the whole house." Marisa frowns as she has to explain exactly why she's doing what she's doing, though this wouldn't be a ready line of logic to most sane people.

"That's still not the best way to go about it though." And now it's time for me to step in, methinks. "Surely you can cast something to get her attention?" I make a point of knocking once more just to see if the puppeteer has noticed anything yet.

"Not really. Alice has got some pretty potent anti-spell magic on her house so casting anything on it would probably bounce it back in my face." Marisa takes a seat on her broom as she thinks about what to do next. "Stardust Reverie doesn't really count since I just use that to build up speed before cutting it out, so I tend to use that."

"Physical projectiles work?" Aya asks while leaning against the side of the house. She has a finger to her mouth in thought before looking at me. "Why not...? Nah, that'd be a jerk thing to do."

I get the feeling she was going to suggest throwing me through a window as if I were a rock, so I'm glad she decides otherwise. Still, this is problematic. Alice is either heavily involved in what she's doing or she's out of the house, which might make this harder than it needs to be. I contemplate what to do that doesn't involve wrecking Alice's home, yet nothing comes up. "Wait, where does she usually work?" There's a less damaging variant of the whole 'batter down the door' idea Marisa's got stuck in her head, and I'm all for it.

"Second floor, but she's in a central workshop." At which point the witch shoots it down as handily as she would a fairy. She looks to me with a small smile on her face as she talks. "Trust me, anything you're going to think up, I've already thought of and tried. She gets really absorbed into her work."

"So, we're at an impasse." Is all I can really say on the matter.

[X]Go ahead and let Marisa batter down the door.
[X]The tengu hasn't given any appreciable suggestions that don't involve you using your head as a battering ram, see if she can come up with anything.
[X]Perhaps we just need something that hits a certain shockwave threshold...
[X]The tengu hasn't given any appreciable suggestions that don't involve you using your head as a battering ram, see if she can come up with anything.

didn't she get around the locks to ivans home at some point? or am i remembering stuff from the commentaries?
[X]The tengu hasn't given any appreciable suggestions that don't involve you using your head as a battering ram, see if she can come up with anything.

Wasn't that Marisa though?
[X]The tengu hasn't given any appreciable suggestions that don't involve you using your head as a battering ram, see if she can come up with anything.
[X]Perhaps we just need something that hits a certain shockwave threshold...
I like this
[X] The tengu hasn't given any appreciable suggestions that don't involve you using your head as a battering ram, see if she can come up with anything.
-[X] Maybe said tengu's head would be a better choice for a battering ram.
[X]Perhaps we just need something that hits a certain shockwave threshold...
Cirno's head would be perfect for a battering ram.
I entertain the idea of causing a massive shockwave that would rock the house without possibly damaging anything, and it's not even out of the realm of possibility considering who we have along. Maybe a bottled wind, some application of Aya's power as a tengu, Marisa's brute force, and we could whip up a sonic boom that you would have to be deaf to miss. Not to mention that it would most likely be felt as well since we wouldn't have done it more than maybe a hundred feet up or so... But that might wind up doing damage too, and I'm rather against that. "Alright Aya, any ideas aside from using me as an impromptu battering ram?" I raise an eyebrow at the tengu in a bit of an annoyed way.

"Eh? What about you? You look like you were thinking about what we could do to get her attention." Aya is taken somewhat by surprise, but I can tell she was thinking about this just as much as I am. ...Well, she's thinking at least. Who knows what about.

"I am, but it's not something I want to do as a first resort. More as a last if I can help it." Of course, I'm not about to let her redirect my question back at me so she can avoid answering it herself.

Marisa's mostly keeping quiet, yet there's clear signs of impatience. She has a small frown playing across her face, she's got her arms crossed, she's tapping her foot, and her hat's tilted down slightly. All of these are bad signs for Alice's house since there's a good chance she may lose patience and simply enter her usual way. ...There's also the fact that she might be cold too. "Eh?" Impatient annoyance turns to a surprise as I hand her my jacket. "Ivan, you sure...?"

"There isn't any sense in you freezing, just because I'm making us wait like this. And before you say anything, I'll be fine. It's not like I'm trying to experiment with something ice-related." I'm only really concerned about Marisa here, as evidenced by my comment. It's true I could have gone either way with this, but Marisa needs something to take her mind off things for now. Not to mention that warming up would probably do her mood wonders. "Alright Aya, I'm not letting you deflect the question."

"Fine... We could probably pick the lock or something, or maybe force one of the windows open." Aya then turns to Marisa to confirm something. "It's just a barrier to block out magic, isn't it?" It makes sense to check since there's no way to tell if Alice hasn't installed some kind of barrier to repel intruders as well as magic.

"With the way you all talk, maybe I should." Given that we're all standing around talking to each other and not really paying attention to the door, it would only be natural that we be taken by surprise. Still, Alice could have said something. She simply sighs and shakes her head before waving us all in. "Come on, before you all freeze. ...Honestly, none of you have any common sense."

"Well geeze, if you paid more attention to the people knocking at your door, this wouldn't happen!" Marisa looks somewhat annoyed, but manages to dismiss this to a degree when Shanghai looks at her in an apologetic fashion. "Man, you really need to give your dolls the ability to talk or something. It'd save us all some trouble."

"Eh?" I can't help but be a little confused. Did the witch catch on to something I missed?

"Simple. Shanghai heard us and went to go fetch Alice, but the former can't really speak without the latter. We were busy plotting for nothing." Marisa then takes off my jacket and hands it back, smiling in the process. "Thanks for this too, and sorry about getting so impatient with you."

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YES. All stories could use more Shanghai.
"It's no problem at all." I take the jacket Marisa's handing back to me, yet I don't bother to slip it back on. We're inside a nice warm house, being lead into one of the inner parts by the owner and one of her dolls so there's not much need for me to roast myself. Not that that would really happen, mind, since the temperature is heavily regulated by a number of spells applied to the fabric itself. Not to mention Mokou's will would most likely make it to where I can't come to harm heat-wise, but there's no sense testing that out when there's no need. "Personally, I'm glad it was of use to you."

"Heh... That was real sweet of you, you know." Marisa's shark smile is back, but it's not to the same degree as other times. It's more her standard smile this time around, which makes it only slightly less unnerving than those other instances. However, I'm getting off topic here. She shakes her head at the gesture of using my jacket to keep her warm, perhaps perplexed by my actions. "For a guy who has virtually no interest in girls, you've got some gentlemanly traits in you."

I shrug at the comment, not really sure how to respond to it. "Allowing others to suffer because of me is not the way I work. Gender had nothing to do with it." I'm not quite sure about that though, but I think the fact that she's also a friend has a lot to do with my decision.

"Ah, you're sure that's it? Seems to me you care about her a fair bit and didn't like seeing her get all cold and grumpy." Aya's walking right alongside me with her own thoughtful expression, displaying her own thoughts about what this all means. "I'm not going to press the matter, I'm just pointing it out." It's strange seeing her like this, but why should I complain? ...Unless she's acting the schemer, at which point it might be a good idea to be a bit more wary of her from here on out.

"Pardon the interruption, but what brought you three out here to begin with? It doesn't seem like my house would be high on your list of places to go." Alice seems rather perceptive today, though from what I recall, she's always been like that. She leads us into a sitting room as she speaks, which is still the same guest room/doll display it's always been. It's slightly unnerving to see all those empty eyes staring outward, yet it's something you get used to after a while.

"I came to ask for your help." I figure it's time to get down to business before I get distracted by either my compainions or I lose concentration on the matter at hand. I set the bag down in order to undo the strap keeping the contents from spilling out, at which point I pick up one of the cannons and show it to Alice. "Namely, help in controlling these."

Alice looks at them with some interest, but doesn't seem to get why I'd come see her specifically. "They look like simple options to me. It doesn't look like it'd take anything special to aim them the way you want." She does take one in her hands to observe it, look it over and perhaps get a better idea about what's so special about these things. "Their charge is awfully low..."

"Huh?" I shouldn't be surprised. I exerted the lot of them without confirming a full charge, and the things they had to deflect weren't exactly small time projectiles.

"I suppose you've had these built with more functionality in mind than just this, but the amount of mana stored in them isn't really sufficient to make them do anything." Alice sets the cannon on her table, at which point both Shanghai and Hourai begin to play around with it. ...It's difficult to focus on the task at hand when Shanghai is pretending to ride the cannon like it's some kind of spaceship. Hourai's pulled another one out and is trying to joust with Shanghai with another cannon. They're not powerful enough to lug them around, but they're trying their hardest.

"I do. They're meant to be controllable in a manner similar to your dolls, but if they're as depleted as you say then attempting to learn how to control them would be a pointless endeavour." Yet I set the full set of seven down on the table while Marisa and Aya are either busy talking to each other and/or are watching the two dolls play with each other. "Unless there's some other way to get them charged up in short order..."

[X]Infuse each with just a little of your power. Enough to get them going again without going comatose.
[X]Ask if someone has an idea of how to do this.
[X]...You know, I did accidentally inscribe 'faith' onto one of them.
[X]...You know, I did accidentally inscribe 'faith' onto one of them.

He did.
[X]...You know, I did accidentally inscribe 'faith' onto one of them.
-[x]Why not trying... "having faith" into that one cannon..? Who know what will happen.

Rather surprised it never occurred to us that the particular cannon may be the solution to powering up the rest of the cannons. By instilling "faith" into that cannon it could possibly in effect act as a new power source that wouldn't require a drain on the user. Worth a shot I'd say.
[X] Ask if someone has an idea of how to do this.

I'd rather not rely on an untested accident to power the cannons.
[X]Infuse each with just a little of your power. Enough to get them going again without going comatose.
[X]...You know, I did accidentally inscribe 'faith' onto one of them.
-[x]Why not trying... "having faith" into that one cannon..? Who know what will happen.
...Actually, there might be a way to do it without causing myself undue mana exhaustion. It means exploiting a flaw in my own design, but only a fool wouldn't consider all possible options when working toward his or her goal. Besides, there's a very good chance that this won't simply backfire and blow up in my face. Marisa picks up on the meaning behind my sudden silence in very short order and has the common sense to ask about it before acting. "I'm guessing you've got an idea?" If I had to make a guess, I'd assume that she might have noticed my little error and that I might be attempting to use that error.

"I do. I can't give the cannons the amount they need through normal means, as that would put me in a catatonic state if I tried." I pick up one of the cannons, then set it down. I'm looking for one in particular, the only one with the 'faith' error on it. "Instead, I will attempt to use an alternate means of bringing them up to a useable state. Namely through the use of a small error I had made when inscribing the runes."

"You're banking success on an error? Isn't that... Risky?" Alice then brings up the most obvious question in the world. She looked like she was going to go make some tea, but with me saying what I have she decides otherwise. Instead she sends off a number of dolls to take care of that little formality.

"It is, but it's just like him. Explode first, ask questions later." Marisa simply shrugs and sighs while shaking her head. Her tone makes it sound as though she's given up on trying to talk sense into me, but it's partially her fault that I lack common sense to begin with. It's not really fair to blame her since I'm still fully capable of making my own decisions. "Still, don't you think you oughta at least think about what you're doing? This could screw up in a way you haven't even thought of!" Despite the resignation in her voice, she continues to try to talk me out of it in the off chance that I do listen.

"I have. It's either this or taking the slow route of filling each one a little bit every day, and I don't need to remind you that I have one person after me who has some very questionable intentions, along with someone who wants to do away with me entirely. Time is of the essence and I cannot allow myself to waste any." I note that Alice raises an eyebrow at this comment, but that will probably be handled by one of the others. Instead I locate the cannon I was looking for, which is the one being ridden by Hourai, and immediately hit a roadblock.

A few minutes pass, and Aya pipes up. "What's the problem?" She almost makes me jump... "You've been standing there staring at that cannon for a few minutes now. Tea's done and I'm sure you can figure something out while sitting down." Aya's finally got my attention, and I see that she does indeed have a cup of tea in her hand and that there's a pitcher on the table along with matching cups. She doesn't wear the same worried look that Marisa does though, it's more curiosity than anything else though. Speaking of the witch, it looks like she has indeed filled Alice in on the details.


Sorry about not paying more attention to this folks, hopefully I'm back on track for updates.
With Aya more or less inviting me to sit down I decide to take my cannon and take a seat, then a cup of tea. "It's rather funny. Of all the possible things that could have occurred, I didn't expect a total Alchemist's Block." That, of course being a play on a writer's block, meaning that I've completely and utterly have run into a brick wall in terms of how to go about this. "I've never directed my faith into any one thing in particular, at least not consciously, so I'm sort of stuck on how to go about this."

"You're kidding, right?" Marisa's staring right at me, and all I can do is grin sheepishly in response. "This coming from someone who puts so much faith into his projects to where he could pull off miracles if he could. You mean to tell me that you're having trouble believing that the cannons can work?"

"It's not that insofar as I don't know how to make it into fuel. With mana it's a ridiculously simple matter of telling when you've got the vessel at maximum capacity. With faith, I can't really tell." It's a stupidly simple thing that I'm surprised I haven't even considered. I know how to work with mana, but faith is uncharted territory for me.

"Once again you've jumped right into the middle of things without knowing what would happen." The witch facecpalms once she hears that, then simply looks at me while possibly wondering what to do. "Geeze, this is something we'd need Reimu for. I'm not so good with using faith as fuel."

"You know, I could just speed her over here." Aya rolls her eyes in response to that, having clearly noticed that no one's really taken her incredible speed into consideration.

"True, but where's the fun in that? Half the fun in this is in the experimentation." I try to keep a straight face since I am trying to be serious, but even I can't keep that level of facade up for long and I find myself relenting sooner than I might have normally. "Of course, experimentation would require me to actually have an idea of what I'm doing, and I don't."

"Common sense. That's not something I hear outta you every day." Marisa's deadpan voice is something of an annoyance right about now, since I don't hear her offering any advice on the matter.

"Look you, I didn't come here just to hear your smart-alecky remarks. I came here to get proper training for my devices, and if you don't have any good ideas on how to go about it, then at least keep the commentary to a dull roar." With that I decide it's high time I put some effort into getting these operational, and if faith really works the same as the rest of the times I've worked on my projects believing that they'll work, then all it will take is my not paying much attention to them as I'm trying to work. "Alice, do you have an empty room we can use for this? I'd prefer not to make anyone sit outside in the cold while I'm training."

Alice finishes sipping her tea, at which point she calmly sets it down. "I don't normally train indoors since there's a good chance I'd damage something, but in your case I think I have a room that would suit your needs." She surprises me with that comment since she knows that my experiments are prone to catastrophic backfiring. She must have heard the stories and have gotten information out of the others, so how in the world can she claim that? "Come along. Marisa, Aya, you may both come as well if you wish."

I cast Marisa a quizzical look, which she responds to with a non-commitable shrug. It annoys me since I have a hard time believing that she doesn't know anything about this whatsoever. Since the question is still fresh in my mind I figure I may as well ask. "Alice, may I ask precisely why you think I would be less destructive than you? I apologize if it's a rude question, but I have little reason to doubt that you know of some of my more spectacular, yet less commonly known failures."

She spares me a quick glance that's not irritated like I might have thought. Instead it's more enigmatic, which means she's definitely not telling me something. "I know of your exploits, and no, it's not rude, and yes, you may ask." She then pauses her speech for a moment before speaking again. "As for why I think you're not going to destroy anything, it has more to do with the fact that I'm a much more experienced magician than you."

That's not the entire story though. I don't feel like pushing any buttons just yet though. If she wants to tell me or show me, then she will.
There's also a severe logic flaw in her sentence, as it's typically the ametuer who deals the most damage to his surroundings while attempting to cast magic. It's clear that I am the ameteur magician and Alice a master, but for her to say something like that has some interesting implications. Either she's incredibly sloppy without her dolls, or she's so powerful when practacing that even her own defensive measures fail. Neither thought is particularly hope inspiring. However, as I've already told myself that I would still my tongue on the matter, I decide not to ask. It would be a moderately pointless task anyway since she's directing us into an inner room.

"In here will do nicely." Alice holds the door open for the three of us to walk through, then closes it as she comes though herself. "This room, like most others, has a few things I do not wish to have broken, but this particular room happens to be equipped with several things that would make your training progress further than it might have otherwise, especially if you fight in the manner I think you do."

"Alice? You're not just gonna beat up the poor guy are you?" Marisa decides not to follow Aya's lead in finding a suitable place to sit down until the fireworks are over, instead opting to stand between Alice and I.

"Of course not!" Alice sounds rather indignant over that. "Unlike you, I usually wait until there's an actual need to shoot at something before doing so." She walks off to one side of the room in order to set a few of her dolls up on the shelf in a ready stance so that they can take off at any time. "While part of this will involve my shooting at him, it is only because I believe that Ivan preforms at his best under pressure. If things are kept at a happy lull, it may take longer to provoke the proper response." Alice also applies a bit of power to a small, lamp-like object on the ceiling, which illuminates the room to a greater degree than it was initially and dispells my discomfort over being in such a dark place.

"But doesn't telling him that weaken the impact? Danmaku's already non-lethal and you hold back when you do fight. Ivan's not going to respond to a half-hearted bombardment that just happens to be aimed in his direction." I'm not sure how to respond to Marisa there. On the one hand, she's vouching for my ability to survive overwhelming odds, but on the other she's baiting the puppetteer into reproducing those conditions without thinking about what she's saying. It's like not being sure whether to hug or strangle someone. Not that I'd really do the latter.

"That's the simple part. Overwhelming odds may provoke the reaction he needs without putting his life on the line." ...I can't read Alice's expression to save my life. There's something going on behind the closed doors of her mind, and I'm not sure I like the implications.

Marisa thinks about it for a few moments before letting her eyes drift down to Alice's grimoire. She raises her eyebrows and gives the puppetteer a look that asks her if she's crazy, while Alice responds with a calm smile and a nod. ...I don't think I'm going to like this.

"Ivan." Alice finally adresses me properly while a worried Marisa takes a seat next to Aya. "Are you ready?"

[X]Dodging counter.
[X]Dodging counter.

Hopefully of the unnecessary combat roll variety.
[X] "It's Go Time."

all cannons online (depleted, but online)

This will do

I have a bad feeling about this. If I'm correct, Alice is going to use her Grimore, meaning she's going to be at full power. And since it's been a long time she was at full power, she may not truly know her own strength now. Do you really want Alice to feel bad about sending Ivan to Eintei because she made him look like Rumia tried ripping him apart and made good progress, or worse...
[X] "It's Go Time."

I like this answer.
Having set the cannon just inside the field of battle, I stand on the end opposite the puppetteer, entering a ready stance as I do so. "I only have one thing to say to that, miss Alice. It's go time." I don't bother initiating a taunt or any such nonsense as the only thing it would accomplish is leaving me vulnerable to whatever her initial wave is.

Alice nods and undoes the lock on her grimoire with a simple sweep of her hand, causing the heavy gold lock and strap to fall to the ground with a thud, revealing the full title. It's simply called 'Grimoire of Alice' in gold, loopy lettering, but it indicates it as Alice's so I suppose it works out well enough. ...Though if there's any reason why she's normally reluctant to fight with her grimoire, it must be because of the sheer intimidation factor it gives her. There's no appreciable physical change yet, but even a normal human could tell that the open grimoire was triggering a massive power boost. There was something else as well within that change, though what it could possibly be is beyond me. Alice holds her grimoire in the air as though declaring a spellcard yet does not actively speak the name of the spell. This brings to mind another possibility: She does not use it because it would be viewed as illegal by the spellcard rules. A spell used must not only be named but spoken aloud in order to give the opponent fair warning. There's no need for that here though.

The first thing that happens is Alice forming a pair of wavy walls of red danmaku that cut the available amount of space to maneuver down to a pitiable third of what we originally had. Add the fact that this wasn't the biggest duel border to begin with and I'm suddenly wondering how the hell I'm supposed to dodge whatever else she may throw my way. Therefore it's almost an anticlimax when she only throws out some small, quick yet easily avoidable pillars of red danmaku that are only aimed at me. Misdirecting them is an easy feat. Doing so repeatedly in a tight corridor where you literally have to duck into the dips in the waves of a danmaku wall just to avoid it all makes it less so. The fact that she launches a fan-shaped arrangement of pillars and throws them outward in such a manner that I have to slip between the pillars of danmaku is... Not that much more difficult. It means there's a higher possibility for failure, but it's still doable given enough distance.

It's true that Alice is actively attempting to herd me into one of the walls, yet there's a rythm in her spell that I can take advantage of to make that a little easier. First of all, she only launches one pillar every second or so, and there's a slight delay before it fires in order for it to aim correctly. The fanning spray comes after every seventh attack or so so I begin to count when that particular attack comes in. It gets to the point where avoiding her fire is at least doable and I'm not overexerting myself to the point where I'll run out of stamina before I get done with this. All in all a very managable spell. Not at all what I was execting. Since that's settled I think it's high time I tried to give that cannon a shot. If I believe I can avoid fire like this the odds are pretty good I could make that cannon work for a counter-attack. With that I reach out for just one cannon in order to call it to my side, and much to my surprise it's not the one with the mistake I intended to use. Furthermore, it's currently glowing with the same red light the rest of the danmaku bullets are, a fact that causes me to get smacked upside the head with a bullet while I wasn't paying attention. Another one would have impacted save for the fact that I was able to throw up a shield in self-defense. I rolled out of the way of another only to realize that the mock battle is over, and that Alice seems to be rather embarrassed.

"My apologies, it seems my danmaku would up charging your cannons to full somehow instead of you learning to believe in them like you had wanted." Alice then dispells the border before picking up the lock and re-applying it. Shanghai and Hourai have also come to perch themselves on her shoulder, their absence during the duel being something I really should have noticed sooner.

I simply shake my head in dismissal. "It's not a big issue either way. I came here to learn how to control them, and the idea of using faith energy to power them was merely in response to their being too low on power to be usable. As far as I'm concerned, this worked out just about perfectly." Another thing I should have smacked myself for forgetting was that they're designed to draw in ambient mana from the air, and the air in the duel area was loaded with it. There could be unintended consequences for allowing them to soak up so much of another person's power, but at this point I'm not sure what the effects of siphoning off someone else's danmaku bullet would be, assuming it would change anything.

"True. In that case, I think it's time we took the next step in the process." Her expression has returned to one of neutral happiness, at which point she undoes the lock on her grimoire again while mumbling about why she bothered to reapply it when she'd need it so soon afterward. However, this time there's no marked change in power, merely the sound of pages flipping as the puppeteer attempts to find whatever it is she's looking for.

"You did pretty well considering that was your first time. Alice's spells are pretty brutal when she's got her grimoire open." Marisa promptly reminds me of her existence by walking over and putting a hand on my shoulder. It takes her slightly more effort than it would have taken most others to accomplish that given that she's a fair bit shorter than myself, but the fact that she's basically hovering in order to negate that potentially awkward scenario makes her height a moot point.

"Really? That one looks pretty tame to me, not to mention familiar." Aya's trying to keep her voice neutral as she's scribbling down something on her notepad, yet you'd have to be deaf to not notice the excitement in her voice. ...Is Alice undoing the lock on her grimoire so big a deal that the tengu reporter feels the need to pursue it in the same manner as a hound tracking its prey? "It looks an awful lot like one of Sanae's spellcards though..." She then puts her hand to her chin in thought.

"Looks like?" Marisa frowns slightly as she follows the tengu's line of thought. "Yeah, it does, but trust me when I say that the two are similar by coincidence, and that I'm certain Alice created it first." She takes her hand off me and instead opts to lean on me while she sets about setting the record straight.

"Is that so? It's difficult to say who created what spell first since I don't know if Sanae had any spellcards while she was still living as an Outsider, but that's not really what I'm interested in." That comment causes me to wonder what caused her to say something like that aloud to begin with. Perhaps she was hoping for something truthfully scandalous since she seems to believe that's what sells the papers. "What I really want to know is just how powerful Alice really is, not to mention what she is to begin with. I know she says she's a magician youkai, but when she opens that grimoire there's something about her that doesn't add up with her original story." I'd sigh in relief, but I'm sure that would get me in trouble. I don't really need or want Aya hounding me to that degree to write a story about my experiments. ...Now that I remember it, I need to set aside a day or two and devote it to finding out more about Letty, as that's what I had originally planned to do to begin with. I know the yuki-onna used to be human, and an alchemist to boot, but I believe that I'm missing so much of the big picture that it's mind-boggling. "Alice!" Aya's voice promptly snaps me out of my thought process and reminds me that the witch is using me as a wall.

"Yes?" Alice seems to have either narrowed down her search or is currently looking through the index of her grimoire. It strikes me as a bit odd considering that I thought that such a magically-empowered book that's so closely tied to its owner would be a little more forthcoming with its information. Alice herself responds with a half-hearted interest, as though dreading anything Aya might have to say.

"Two things: One, can we do a proper interview later, and two, can I take pictures of your EX-mode spells for my private collection? I get the feeling you know a bunch of interesting spells that'd be worthy additions!" Her focus has clearly shifted to Alice's previously unknown level of power, which might prove a hinderance to my training. Or Alice could shrug it off and ignore her, but I doubt she's that rude.

Alice raises an eyebrow in response to that, yet that's the only indication of her actual feelings on the matter. "You've already interviewed me, then proceeded to warp my words into something that pleased you. I believe you understand why I would be a little reluctant to undergo that process again with new material for you to attempt to make money off of." ...I swear the temperature of the room dropped a few degrees just then. I'm guessing Aya wrote something that offended the puppeteer to a great degree, and that Alice has no intention of letting her guard down like that ever again lest more weird rumors start from whatever Aya writes. "As for demonstrating my full power to you for your own desires... I will not." There's a dangerous note of finality there...

"Why do you have to be so cold about it? I've straightened out my paper and I don't alter the truth anymore, not even to make harmless jokes! I know I've been less than professional about this but-" Aya winds up an arguement about how she's changed with a certain amount of panic that seems out of place here. She's shown me pictures of what had happened to her when she recieved her 'punishment' and I get the feeling that might be factoring into her current state of mind. Especially when said pictures were time-lapsed from day to day and there were more than a few of them. I also get the feeling that she hasn't told anyone outside of those who already know about it for fear they might turn that against her in further retribution of her actions. And since she made me promise to tell no one else, I can't diffuse the situation for her or help convince others that she has renounced her old ways.

"The answer is no, Aya." Alice is quite clear on the matter and isn't even giving the tengu her full attention as she finally reaches the page she wanted originally. Of course, had she been paying attention she would have noticed Aya's current state of mind and perhaps thought to question why she's acting the way she is.

"Eh, Alice?" Fortunately Marisa's watching Aya and has at least some idea of what's going on. Or at the very least she understands that something is wrong and that Alice doesn't know Aya well enough to seperate 'desperation for material' from 'desperation not to be punished again.' "Maybe I oughta take Aya outta this room so I can talk to her in private." With that she ceases to lean on me and takes Aya by the arm to lead her away. "I'll be back in a bit Ivan, I just need to check something."

"Go right ahead. I doubt I'm going to be eaten by a grue while it's this light and Alice is around. I'm also conscious this time around so I'll be able to defend myself properly." I know that's not going to reassure the witch properly, but it's the best I can do considering the current situation.

"Alright, but if you do get attacked you'd better let me know somehow." Marisa's almost at the door now, having only turned around to respond to me.

"I'm sure you'll know when I get smashed through a wall or something." I roll my eyes while I comment with a rather dry tone. It's rather worrying when it's gotten to the point where I've effectively stopped caring about what happens to me during a fight so long as I survive it and Eirin can patch me up once it's over.

Marisa chuckles while shaking her head, then leads Aya out. Not before she says "Here I thought I was the only insane person around here."

With that distraction vanishing out the room's door, I'm left with a somewhat concerned Alice who may have noticed that there was at least one thing wrong with here. "Ivan, perhaps you could tell me just what is going on here after we're done? I was made aware of Rumia's unsealed state, but I clearly lack the specifics to understand what's going on here. Aya's change in attitude is also unsettling."

"I can fill you in on the former, but Aya made me promise not to speak of the latter." And it's best to speak bluntly when it comes to things like this, especially when time is available only in unknown quantaties based on a grue's whim. "And before you ask why she made me take that promise... I'm sure you can imagine what it must have taken to make Aya go from twisting the truth to going on the straight and narrow."

Alice seems to be trying quite hard to keep the images out of her mind so that she can actually teach me something instead of thinking about the unknown horrors Aya must have been broken by.

Perspective change:
[X]Stick with Ivan.


Have we ever been in her head before? I don't remember.
[x] Rumia.

I'm so curious about what she's been up to.

It's been a while since we've heard anything about her

>Have we ever been in her head before?

Ivan really doesn't take his own safety seriously. He keeps tempting fate more, pushing his luck further than he ever would have normally, and getting hurt for it. Sure that last one isn't anything new or shocking, it's just that this time the consequences for failure are a lot worse. Then there's the bit with Aya. I know Alice isn't the best when it comes to reading people's emotions, but when I took a look at Ivan and he was worried... Hah, I know him well enough to where I can use him confirm other people's moods. I don't even notice myself shaking my head as I lead Aya to the main sitting room.

"I'm not being a bother am I?" Aya's really out of it if she's worried about something like that. I direct her to a chair so we can sit down and talk properly since I get the feeling this may take a while.

"Nah, that's not it. It's more along the lines of my being curious about why you were so panicky about Alice not giving you an interview or a good shot of her spellcards. And this polite nature isn't like you." I fall backwards onto the sofa while I'm talking, and also observing the fact that Aya's looking increasingly uncomfortable about this. My eyes narrow when she starts looking away. No way am I going to let this go now. "Come on Aya, out with it."

She's growing increasingly nervous as time goes on. It looks like I might have to try something different if she doesn't start talking fairly soon. "...Okay." At least until she speaks out in a really quiet voice. If I weren't listening for anything she'd be saying I would have missed it. "I don't really want to talk about it, but if it gets people to actually believe that I've taken steps to change then I will." She's still speaking softly in some kind of attempt to get me to not listen to what she has to say so she won't have to actually go through with this, but when she sees me looking right at her with all my attention focused on her she seems to both lose hope and continue. "You know about the articles I wrote about Reimu right?"

"Ah, those? Yeah, they kinda did cross the line, but if it were Reimu getting revenge for it I doubt it'd cause this much of a change." I'm not sure my offhand tone is really the best for this given how she's already unsure about this, but no point in complaining about it.

Aya nods in response, then she starts fidgeting as starts speaking again. "It wasn't Reimu. She never came for me. I was working on an apology since I felt guilty over it one night when something suddenly felt off. But before I could check to see what it was I felt a pair of arms drape around my neck and someone's voice whispering in my ear. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that it was Yukari, but..." She then falters a bit. I can understand that Yukari's not the most welcome individual to have around the house, what with how unsettling she can get, but something tells me that this was worse than the usual.

"But...?" It's all I can do to egg her on.

"But she said that she's tired of all the lies I write, and that she's only tolerated them so far. She knew most of them were just harmless jokes..." She trails off again. I've gotta be getting close to what's really causing her this issue. "...But she noticed I was getting a little fiercer in my writing. She didn't want it to continue so she said she'd teach me a lesson." Aya takes up a defensive stance by drawing her legs up and wrapping her arms around said legs, then casting her gaze downward. "I got caught up in a contest with Hatate since she's so hellbent on topping my paper, so I didn't even notice that I was writing what I was."

"Aya. What did Yukari do?"

She looks up at me with tears forming on the edges of her eyelids, and she's getting choked up just thinking about it. Or is that fright in her eyes? "She pulled me backward through a gap into some weird room then sealed the gap. I didn't know what she had planned until-"

Then the sound of something crashing through a wall caught both our attention. That something was Ivan, who was somehow shooting back with his cannons while Alice was giving him some needed cover. How could I tell it was needed? The fact that Rumia was making a break for him even as he's picking himself up outta the rubble. I waste no time in getting a shot of my own off, nor do I hesitate to bring my broom back out so I can make Rumia take a nice long flight out of Alice's house. Rumia's already been knocked to one side, but she's getting too close! I kick my speed up a notch...

Just in time to see that Ivan's done something to launch her through a wall. Man, I gotta stop thinking of Ivan as being really frail, especially when he's done that sort of thing before. "Yo, Ivan, you okay?" My arrival is a little tardy by comparison to his counter, but eh. Better late than never you know?

"I'm fine." Even though he says that, I can see the blood running down his face. It can't have been too bad if he's gotten right back on his feet, but it's not like I can help cringing when I see it. "Watch out!" His warning comes just in time for me to get grabbed by Rumia and slung around hard, which is countered by the fact that he's... Smashed a glass phial in his hand and grabbed Rumia's face with said hand? I'd have questioned his logic more than normal if it weren't for the fact that he used that bottle to fire off a huge gush of flame. She promptly drops me in response before diving into the shadows again, but I'm not about to let her get away with that!

"Marisa, Ivan, please leave this to me." ...I'm guessing Alice figured out what I'm thinking since she's already got her grimoire open. She steps out of the room Ivan had been forcibly vacated from and promptly illuminates every dark corner she can. Maybe I oughta stay out of this one. Ivan's gone nuts again, Alice is fighting at full power, and that nut of an alchemist and I would just get in the way.

>Smashed a glass phial in his hand and grabbed Rumia's face with said hand?
Whoa, G Gundam vibes.
Shitshitshitshit! When the hell did Alice turn into a demon?! And that power's something else! The worst part is if she gets serious and starts wrecking her house to find me I'm never going to last against her. Hell, I can't even stick around in any one place for too long with her lighting up every corner as she progresses. It's worse in the fact that she's covering her trail too so I can't just loop back around. It's come down to two options: Either I loop around to grab Ivan and pray there's a convenient window, or I run away. ...A direct frontal assault is out of the question, stealth might not even be remotely feasible at this point, yet my pride and my survival instinct are still clashing!

Using Aya as a hostage is an opportunity that's long past since I'm well past that area, not that it'd work terribly well since I doubt that the damned puppeteer would actually let me get that close in without forcing me to retreat from the comfort and relative safety of the shadows in favor of using the tengu as a meatshield that wouldn't even last that long, or cover all the angles I'd need to defend myself against. I probably could have kept my claws to her neck for a lethal blow, but I have no idea what this demonic Alice is capable of. The normal one can adhere strings to a person and wrap them up in order to immobilize them, so it's best not to temp fate more than I already have.


My march through my house to flush out the grue is a rather systematic one that leaves no method of escape. I do not wish to fire on my own house if at all possible, primarily because such actions would be without meaning, not to mention costly and potentially harmful to the guests. ...Speaking of which, I'm sure I need to heal Ivan's hand again, and perhaps chew him out for incinerating his own flesh in an almost pointless attack. A few more dolls pop out to further cut Rumia off from escape, at which point a thought comes to mind: Why is she not pursuing a direct confrontation? Reimu and Yukari are bent on resealing her before so that means she must be quite powerful. Perhaps there's still a sizable difference between the two of us, or perhaps she's simply attempting to get an advantage she will never get? I hum thoughtfully as I consider the fact that she seems to refuse to take me on without some form of advantage. It means she's not confident about her chances.


"Ivan, you really okay there?" I cringe when I see what he did to his own hand. Again. The flesh has burnt to a crisp, the glass has melted into his blackened flesh, and it's pretty obvious that he's not using that hand again without proper treatment.

"Not really, but this is nothing. I can keep going if the need arises." He tries to flex his hand experimentally, and cringes himself when he does so. It's not because of how it looks, but rather that it must hurt when he tries to move it! "It's fine so long as I don't move it, so the nerve ends in the burnt part must be dead. As for the head wound? It's just a scrape. Nothing to worry about."

"That'd convince me more if your version of 'nothing to worry about' wasn't so absurd." I can't even keep the clear irritation out of my voice since it came out as more of a growl than anything else. Of course, Ivan's got an even more ridiculous idea of what kind of damage you can get away with taking and still fight, and it's just stupid. "Anyway, you're not fighting Rumia in that state. Alice is taking care of it and she'll take care of you when she's done. In the meantime, you're staying out of the way since I'm pretty sick and tired of watching you do this to yourself every time you fight."

"I'd just get in Alice's way regardless of how fit I think I am for battle, so I'm going to sit this one out." His cannons finally float on over to him and hang out just behind him while he talks. I sigh in relief when he's decided to actually listen to me for once. It's not going to solve the more immediate issue of him bleeding, but it's a start.
ffs Ivan it was kinda cool the first time now it's just silly.
i think that his batshit style of combat against rumia is more of a reflex than any calculated response at this point.

At least until he gets the cannons online and operating.

how perfectly stated for Rumia's situation.

His batshit style of combat is also what made Rumia want to get in his pants in the first place.

Which she still hasn't done yet. And no, raping him in his sleep doesn't count, as he wasn't wearing any pants then.

And can someone else punch Aya for making some sort of stupid comment on this.
Yeah since he was too pig headed to look into danmaku.
"You know, if you'd stop running we could discuss this like civilized people." I didn't expect a response as I walked through the halls of my own home, flushing out and possibly trapping Rumia at every turn, but given that I've grown rather bored with this constant running away... I suppose I'd look rather intimidating to anyone standing anywhere near me. "That's enough. You break into my home, attack a guest for the sole purpose of your amusement, and attempt to silence me in the process. I've given you ample time to come quietly, so prepare yourself." Now it's time to take matters into my own hands. I may not have certain powers to make repairing my house instantaneous, but I have more than enough to repair it without help. My dolls have moved into position, now all I need to do is...


...Escape before that barrier goes up. If she throws that up before I'm out the door I'm a goner! Well, maybe not a goner, but I can kiss my freedom goodbye if I have to face this Alice head-on. Even Ivan could sense something off about this one and wasn't sure whether doing even a mock battle was a good idea or not. If he's not sure about facing someone... That could just be the fact that he still thinks he has a chance against me and he feels no need to hold back. Or perhaps I'm an exception to his rule? Regardless, I'm almost to the door! Two more feet and-


-I've activated the shield. It's satisfying to watch her as she's forced out of her shadows just in time to smack face-first into the shield I placed around this hallway, which I note is actually a poor place to conduct a battle. For her anyway. With so little room to move and no means to conceal herself, Rumia is at a nice little disadvantage that wasn't about to go away any time soon. It's true she could close the gap to attack me, but I happen to note that it would require her to lunge through a withering wall of magic. I smirk as I throw forward a literal wave of energy not unlike the pattern I used to restrict Ivan's movement earlier, though I'm somewhat dissapointed by the fact that-


-I hurl myself up to the ceiling in a... ugh... desperate maneuver to get the hell out of dodge. Unlike last time I could actually slip away before the attack landed, but now? I'm left hoping that she'll demolish her own shields before she demolishes me. I curse inwardly at the fact that the odds are pretty damn good that I'll go long before her shields ever do, and curse again at the fact that she's thrown me into a situation that's put me at a titanic disadvantage. She knows it too, so of course she's going to smirk like a bastard as she launches her next assault. The most I can do is use my pitch black dress to form a sword. It's minorly embarrassing to be caught in little more than an undershirt and panties, but the dignity lost due to being sealed up and tossed aside is even greater. My face contorts into an ugly sneer as I use the flat side of my blade to-


-smack an ice boulder back at me? A quick laser burst makes it a moot point, but she uses her blade to deflect that too. She's become rather angry now, which may work in my favor since an angry opponet is more likely to commit an increasingly large number of mistakes. She hasn't made any so far, but given her look and desperation... I won't call my victory an inevitability, but it's hard not to be confident when your opponent is fighting such an uphill battle. I let loose another stream of forward firing lasers only to blast outward with a full wave. No sense letting her get close, is there~? Sure she's getting close with each attempt-


-But she's blowing me away without even trying! I can't really attack at range either since she's blocking every attack I make against her with a particularly strong barrier, and ranged attacks aren't my forte. I could throw my sword, but that sort of attack is a one-time only deal and incredibly stupid to boot. Instead I think I'll start throwing sword beams at her to try to knock her off balance. After all, it's pitting my physical strength against her magic, which is much more even. Of course, I'm having to cut my grazing really close to even do this much against her since she's picked an obnoxiously dense barrage to work with. Avoiding it is-


-All but impossible~ She knows I'm just messing with her at this point, and her attacks aren't even aimed properly. Even if they broke my shield, they odds are very good she wouldn't even hit me. It's somewhat worrying that they seem to be based more on cutting damage than danmaku, but that hardly matters. It just gives me an excuse to make my patterns nice and harmful instead of merely knocking her out. There's some very strict rules regarding lethality in danmaku duels, and she just broke them.
I ALMOST feel sorry for Rumia.
"This has gotten rather boring." Rumia's still not attacking with any manner of precision, which is killing what little enjoyment I might have gotten out of this. She's managed to annoy me to the point where I actually felt like going out of my way to put up a stronger fight that usual, and despite all the hype about how dangerous she is, she just isn't living up to it. Perhaps it's the fact that she's so far out of her element that it's sad. "I suppose I should subdue you so the shrine maiden can reseal you." And with a flick of the wrist I've launched a laser barrage that would make Marisa jealous. I can't match her Master Spark, but I can launch many times more than her, making up for the lack of coverage with sheer volume.

"That's-!" Rumia manages to pull out a full shield without much effort, allowing herself to block every single laser that would have hit her. "-Because you're cheating!" My eyes widen as she scores a direct hit against my shield, almost punching through it in one go. "If we were fighting on even terms, it wouldn't be in a hallway..." She launches another spike at my shield while rendering most of my assault useless. Unless... "...It wouldn't be in this unnatural light..." One spike retreats as another launches forward. The surprise wears off since her attack is finally making sense to me. She can only extend her dress outward so far, and risks tearing it if she takes it too far. "...and it most certainly would NOT be during the day!" Another one and my shield is almost gone. Too bad.

"If this were fair, you would have announced yourself." In response, I throw out a few bullets that can reflect or refract lasers or bullets. Her shield blocks everything I throw at it, but only in a finite number of directions. If I attack her from every direction, it stands to reason that she would either over-extend herself or that she would be hit repeatedly, and I find that I would actually prefer both. A smirk plays across my face as I allow a familiar set of six wings manifest from my back and aim the tips at the various bouncing points I set up, then fire. I'll have to watch these though...

"You?!" She whips the darkness around herself and dives forward just as the first wave of lasers converge on her, and apparently decides to extend her reach by forming a pair of wrist-mounted blades with her dress and firing them forward. "I don't have to announce myself to you! If you just stayed the hell out of my way, I would have just taken my toy and left!" Her face is contorted in rage, and she's making mistakes now. Just as planned.

I adjust both the reflector bullets and the aim of my lasers ever so slightly to where the convergance point is allowed to move from point to point, so now instead of six deadly lasers all pointing at the obnoxious grue all at once, there are now six individual lasers that are moving to trap her. "Ivan is not a doll Rumia, he's a living being like the rest of us." I can't quite shake the bored tone out of my voice... I really wanted to sound annoyed for that since I do consider Ivan a friend of sorts.

"I know that, he just happens to be mine, that's all." She's trying her hardest to force her anger aside and adopt a similarly neutral tone, but the most she can accomplish is an angry growl as she retracts her blades and throws herself sideways to avoid yet another laser aimed in her general direction.

"I see. So you think just because you've layed claim to him, he's automatically yours?" My sheild fails just as I'm dashing to the side, allowing me to get a nice clear shot. If it weren't for the fact that she whipped her black dress around to provide her with temporary cover I would have blown her away right then and there.

"No one else-" And with another quick movement, I've redirected my lasers to where they converge on her again, knocking her out in one swift shot. Or one long laser blast, but that's just technicalities. As for what she was saying, I'm not really all that concerned about that. She's got some ludicrous idea in her head where she can lay claim to a human in the same manner a youkai would lay claim to a mate. It's not that big a deal since that means she probably has no intention of actually killing them, though I do have to wonder if Ivan will really be able to keep up with the grue's constant attacks once he's outside of anyone's help. ...Would that even happen though?

This whole scene, especially

>>"No one else-" And with another quick movement, I've redirected my lasers to where they converge on her again, knocking her out in one swift shot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd7ggm04GFo automatically played within my head..

Damn you SLDT for the flashbacks of those memories.

nice work nonetheless!
Marisa may be tomboyish and crude most of the time, but she does have a side that seems to tell her to fuss over someone she cares about when they're hurt. Or at the very least, stop them from being hurt further. To that end, she insisted on my sitting down in a chair while the puppeteer finished her business with the grue. I know I must look horrible right now, but I doubt anything's broken, nor are any of the lacerations particularly deep. I made a point of running my non-incinerated hand through my hair to make sure that the bleeding was simply because there's a cut instead of my being scalped. Satisfied with the fact that I've basically taken cosmetic damage, I lean back and await the potential second chewing out for being a reckless moron.

Aya was also giving me a good look over since she happened to be sitting near me, at which point she winces. She does so again when her eyes come to a stop on my burnt hand, though in this case it's mixed with confusion. Rumia possesses no fire element attacks and if this were the result of friendly fire it'd be much more widespread. She opens her mouth to ask what had happened, closed her mouth to think her question through, then opened it again to actually say something. "You really are crazy if that was you who used that weird fire spell." ...Of course she'd guess. There are only two insane fire users in Gensokyo and the other one isn't here.

"That sums up my thoughts nicely." Marisa's still glaring at me for my stupidity, and perhaps because she thinks that this would be far easier on me if I had taken magic and danmaku more seriously. "I keep sayin' that the danmaku rules exist to make this sort of thing a non-issue, but no, you've gotta go and devote your life to alchemy to the point where you've got nothing to fall back on!"

I know she means well, but...

"...I see that my skills are required once again." Alice steps in and deposits a half-naked Rumia on the sofa, while the pitch black dress she wears is rolled up and magically sealed. I notice that the puppeteer is none too pleased with me for damaging myself further when there was little need for it, but doesn't keep the expression up for long. "Next time you want to help, try to use something with less backlash. You're neither a pyromancer nor a fire element youkai, so it's not possible to build up an immunity just by burning yourself repeatedly." She then places one hand on my head as though to ruffle my hair, and begins to heal the damage taken, starting with the more threatening bleeding.

Marisa still looks annoyed with me, but she's not going any farther now that I'm receiving adequite medical attention. Instead she focuses on the more important matter of what to do with the grue. "Hey Alice. You've got this all sorted out so I'm gonna go grab Reimu. It's high time Rumia got sealed back up." She stands up from her previous position, which was on the sofa, to begin walking toward the front door.

"Yes, by all means." Alice gives the forest witch a curt nod before resuming my healing. Once Marisa's out of sight she looks at me and shakes her head. "She is right you know. You've overspecialized yourself without realizing it, and you're hurting yourself because of it." Her tone and eyes are soft, but there's a momentary hitch at the end of the sentence where she seems to have wanted to say that I'm a stubborn moron as well, but she's probably banking on my knowing that by now.

"...Alice, if Reimu's coming to reseal Rumia, then that means Yukari's coming too. I hate to ditch at a time like this and skip out on lunch, especially since you're no slouch when it comes to cooking, but I don't want to be in the same room as her." Aya stands up, bows apologetically, and walks over to the window. "Ivan, once this is all done, it'll be time to start working on what we originally agreed to work on." Her mood picks up a bit as she makes eye contact again. "I'll swing by your house tomorrow, okay?"

"That sounds fine. I'll try to leave a window unlocked." I make a point of at least nodding in response since Alice isn't done yet. "In fact, my apologies over this entire delay. If it wasn't for me we'd be further along than we are." As well as taking responsibility for this. Despite what's been said, I'm still partly at fault over this.

"Nah, it's fine. From what I understand you weren't exactly in the best shape to stop her, and the seal isn't exactly specific about how it's taken off so long as it is." Aya shakes her head in response while smiling. "I'm off then. Any longer and I'm going to have to deal with Yukari. Bye Alice, bye Ivan!" She throws open the windows, and with a hurried goodbye, shoots through them at an insane speed. They close again moments after her departure, though I actually caught a momentary glimpse of the control strings used for that act.

"I wonder why she's so keen on avoiding the gap youkai? Sure she's a bit annoying at times, but hardly someone you'd feel the need to run away from." Alice stares out after Aya with her hand outstretched to close the window, while the other is once again restoring my flesh. ...It's funny how that process can hurt more than the injury itself, but the heat kills off the nerve endings first so...

"She does have an uncomfortable presence though. Friendly or no, I'm not sure what to make of her." On the one hand, Yukari seems to be easygoing and capricious. On the other, she inflicted some rather unspeakable things on Aya for what was written in the tengu's paper. Part of me wants to know the whole story before passing judgement while the other's trying its hardest to ensure that keeping both a physical and emotional distance becomes my default method of interaction when it comes to Yukari.

Alice pulls off the loose, brittle shell of burnt flesh and half-hardened glass while wearing a pensive look. "Yukari is the youkai of boundaries. Comprehending her is more of a matter of what she'll let you make of her, not what you can find out on your own." She walks off to drop the disgusting cast in the wastebin before returning to give me one final look over before saying something else. "It's not really any of my business, but I think you should stick around for Rumia's resealing. Odds are good they'll want to do it on the spot, and it would probably benefit you more to stay than to leave."

Seeing this through to the end. That would be the responsible thing to do here, and since I'm already accepting my share of the blame I may as well stick around and see it through to the end. "In that case, I will stay. Though if you don't mind, I could use something to eat since all the shuffling around made me lose track of time." It's almost smack in the middle of the afternoon, though you probably couldn't tell that just by looking outstide as it's still snowing.

"It's no trouble at all." Alice smiles in response before sending a group of dolls out to prepare something. "I have to ask, what in the world made you decide that you should take better care of yourself? From what I recall, it wasn't uncommon for you to skip at least one meal out of the day, and for the longest time no one could convince you otherwise."

"That's..." I almost start before faltering a bit. Regaining my composure and train of thought is easy though, so the gap wasn't that big. "It's probably for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that a few people seem to have taken greater interest in my own health."

Alice seems to be stuck trying to stifle a laugh or hold back a groan, and it takes a minute for her to stop long enough to talk. "You mean, that yuki-onna girlfriend of yours is around to make sure you take care of yourself. I imagine that having a wife would do you some good."

"We're not that far along yet. It's only been a few days." This conversation is going places I'm not sure I want it to go, but Alice probably won't drop the opportunity to tease me a bit since I left the opening.

"Perhaps it is too soon, but time is of the essence in your case." She has a sly grin on her face even as the sandwiches are brought in. It's enough to warrant a brief conversation change. "Also, my apologies for only being able to make something simple on such short notice."

"No, no, I'm imposing here, it's fine." Besides, simple tends to be good at times. This does bring up some interesting questions about Alice though... "I do have to wonder though, why put so much effort into cooking when it's clear you're a magician youkai with no need to eat."

Alice picks up one of the sandwiches and bites into it before talking again. "Just because I don't need to, does not mean I don't want to. I can essentially feed off the ambient magic in the air, but that gets boring after a while. Besides, it's better to keep ones skills sharp for when she has guests."

"I can understand that, or at least try to." I can't help but look out the window just in case Reimu and Marisa come back by air, at which point a few other questions come to mind.

[X]She says she's merely a magician youkai, but even now you can feel something more eminating from her.
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hunger for the both of us?
[X]I've been rather curious about how her dolls work. Despite the fact that only Shanghai and Hourai display any level of autonomy, the others are never truly idle.
[X]The grue's conscious, isn't she.
[X]Continue the idle chatter for a while. No reason to delve too far into any more mysteries today.


Feel free to ask whatever may be on your mind at the moment, but limit it to one or two questions.
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hung--
-[X]The grue's conscious, isn't she.
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hung--
-[X]The grue's conscious, isn't she.

This seems interesting.
[X]She says she's merely a magician youkai, but even now you can feel something more eminating from her.
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hunger for the both of us?

I think the two are closely related.
[X]She says she's merely a magician youkai, but even now you can feel something more eminating from her.
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hunger for the both of us?
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hung--
-[X]The grue's conscious, isn't she.
[X] Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hung--
-[X] The grue's conscious, isn't she.
[X]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hunger for the both of us?
[X]Continue the idle chatter for a while. No reason to delve too far into any more mysteries today.

[x]Normally healing spells either accelerate the natural healing process or uses the healer's energy to offset the recipient's own costs. Why then, is there only a normal hung--
-[x]The grue's conscious, isn't she.
"There is one more thing that's been bothering me." I find it rather curious that the puppeteer has felt no side effects from using that healing magic. "From what I understand, healing magic works by accelerating the target's natural healing without altering the rate at which it consumes its own material to do so." No interruption yet. "The alternative is supplying the target with the user's own energy, which would do little more than shift where the hunger occurs. It's possible to share the load, but there would still be side effects."

"Your point being?" Alice takes a bite of her sandwich with an expression of mild interest. She still doesn't say anything beyond that, almost as though she was curious about where I was going with this train of logic.

"It occurs to me that there wasn't any increased desire to eat on my end, whereas you seem to possess no greater desire to replenish your own reserves. Toss in the fact that even I can tell you're emitting an 'aura' of sorts and you can see why I'm a little skeptical when you say you're an ordinary youkai magician." I don't pause my lunch to get my thoughts out, instead opting to take small breaks to eat between sentences. My tone's pretty close to neutral right now as I don't have any reason to get emotional one way or the other. As far as I'm concerned, figuring Alice out enough to where I can call her out on her nature is just a way to pass the time.

That's when I hear the sound of a hand slapping a face, which draws our mutual attention to the grue, who I was quite certain was out cold. "Do you have to go through the redundant logic steps? I don't think Alice really cares about how you guessed she's not what she claims to be. If anything I would think she thinks you're an idiot for not figuring it out sooner!" Rumia hasn't gotten up, but she's turned her head to look at me with a face that tells me she's rather annoyed. I raise an eyebrow only for her to make the next jump. "Yes, I've been awake for the last few minutes. Yes, I know I'm effectively fucked sideways, and yes, you can gloat over your 'victory' if you want." She's glaring daggers at me, and the only possible cause I can think of is that I didn't take her head on past incinerating my own hand. "However, what I won't tolerate is you being a slow dumbass! Hell, you practically have a sixth sense when it comes to me, but god forbid you figure out that Alice is a demon masquarading as a youkai!"

...And for some odd reason, this doesn't elict a reaction from me. "Excuse me for allowing others to see how I reached my conclusion, but in case you haven't noticed I've been a little busy with getting my cannons online and getting smashed through a wall. Headfirst no less." It's hard to conceal my own irritation at this point, as the grue's complaining about how slow I am at figuring something out when such things have been on the back burner for the entire visit.

"Oh please, you took that one like a champ. You got up in seconds and everything!" Rumia's voice has taken on a sickly sweet mocking tone to it, combining genuine awe with sarcasm for a more irritating effect than either could have achieved alone. "But seriously, I don't buy the head trauma excuse. I've done far worse to you and you've still managed to function well enough to either escape or get pretty damn close to doing so." She doesn't seem to be under any restraint either since she sits upright to glare at me. ...I note that it's currently impossible to tell what she's actually feeling right now, though the glare itself is genuine. "How can you be so smart and yet so stupid? I could tell what Alice really is right off the bat without even having to look at her, yet you're beating around the bush with meaningless detail. Why not just ask her directly? I doubt she'd try to lie at this point."

"First of all, despite what you may fantasize about, I'm not a youkai, I'm a perfectly normal human who just happens to know a fair bit about alchemy. I don't have a youkai's instinct, nor would I want it." I take the fresh cup of tea offered to me by one of the dolls while Rumia does the same. "Though I have to wonder why you're not restrained. You're quite the threat, unless you got depowered within the last fifteen minutes."

"Take a look around you, then look at me. I don't have a scrap of darkness to work with. My formidable strength might beat out most everyone, but even I have my limits." She blows on the tea to cool it slightly before drinking it, allowing me time to do as she said. She's telling the truth about not having a scrap of her own element to work with, so perhaps Alice deemed her a relative non-threat. The next thing I hear is the grue's grumbling that Alice just happens to be well past her limit. "So yeah, I could lunge at you, tear your throat out and eat your entrails, but I wouldn't get terribly far with it before the doll fetishist blasted me into chunks."
"Though in your case, 'eat' would be replaced with 'rape', wouldn't it~?" A familiar gap youkai is leaning over the grue while teasing her. It seems she's just as unconcerned about Rumia as Alice is, given that she's got her arms wrapped around the grue's neck.

"Pretty much. And if I weren't surrounded by people who'd stop me, I'd take him right here." Rumia's response holds no shame whatsoever, though she looks nervous now.

"Not going to bother resisting huh?" Reimu then walks into sight through a gap, dragging a shell-shocked Marisa by the collar. She then landed an unapologetic straight jab on the gap youkai with a rather pissed off expression on her face. "As for you, if I see you try to pull one more 'happy coincidence', I'm going to smash your face in with my yin-yang orbs so hard that your grandkids will feel it across the continuities." ...And everyone in the room recoils away from the killing intent the miko's putting out.

Rumia's rapidly regaining composure in fits and starts, so she decides to say something before she gets even colder feet than she's already got. "Since the odds are pretty good I'm never going to get unsealed again, do you mind if I have a last request?"

[X] No

Might want to switch answers, then. "Yes, I do mind" means you don't want to grant her last request.
[x] No, I don't mind. Yes, you may have one last request.
[x] No, I don't mind. Yes, you may have one last request. Yes, you should use accept or decline as options in the future
[X] No, I don't mind. Yes, you may have one last request.
-[X] Within reason.
>I'm going to smash your face in with my yin-yang orbs so hard that your grandkids will feel it across the continuities."

That sounds as if it'd hurt so bad you wish you were dead 10 times over.
[X] No, I don't mind. Yes, you may have one last request.
-[X] Within reason.

I don't mind granting a request so long as it isn't something she could use against us.
[X] No, I don't mind.

I'm intrigued.
[X] No, I don't mind.
As am i.
[x] I'll at least hear it.

>Take a look around you, then look at me.
"Hello, Ivan. Look at your girl, now back to me, now back at your girl, now back to me. Sadly, she isn't me, but if she stopped using winter-scented body wash and switched to Darkness, she could smell like she's me. Look down, back up. Where are you? You're in the void, with the grue your girl could smell like. What's in your hand? Back at me. I have it. It's a grimoire with two rune glyphs for that thing you love. Look again; the rune glyphs are now options! Anything is possible when your girl smells like Darkness and not the winter. I'm on a nightmare."
Now don't I feel like a dolt? Must be fatigue.

[x] No, I don't mind.
And now for a segment I haven't done in far too long.



Having long since gotten my house repaired, and thwarting Aya's attempt to demolish my roof again so that I couldn't go back home, I found that I actually needed a breather from the near constant smell of ink. Aya's home also doubles as her preferred spot to work up drafts for her newspaper so the smell of ink has long since permeated the house. While I know she wants nothing more than for me to stay there with her, especially since I helped her get over her issue to a degree, but I do have my own life to get back to. Not to mention that if she wants to see me, she can just slip back into my house anytime she wishes. ...Not that she ever asked for my permission before though, and it's not like I ever lock my door.

That's probably half the reason I get so many visitors as it is. Locking the door might not even stop them at this point, as that might convince them that something's wrong instead of my simply wanting some privacy. It's as though my privacy is an entirely foreign concept to most of them.

Still, it's a little beside the point as I have long ago learned to deal with it as it comes instead of complaining about it, since I really do enjoy the company. They grate on my nerves from time to time, like this particular moment where Rumia is sitting in my lap while I'm sitting on my desk chair in an attempt to read a letter that fell through a gap, but I mostly enjoy it when they're around. Perhaps I was lonely, perhaps I was bored, perhaps I was sick of living by myself and felt the need to reach out to others.

Perhaps my insanity has simply manifested in a more noticable form that everyone accepts as normal behavior.

Sighing to myself, I finally open the letter where Rumia could see it since she's sure to find some way to see what's inside while being as intrusive as possible. Annoying to say the least, so I'd rather placate her than tempt her. "Wow, they really caught that?" Rumia asked while looking the letter over. "I would have thought they'd miss something so small." And for once she sounds impressed.

I, on the other hand, roll my eyes. "Liar, you made that comment without even thinking about it." I know for a fact that Rumia only learned about that meme after the fact, after which she promptly facepalmed over it while hoping that they didn't point it out. "Anyway, aside from that reference being made a bit too soon, I actually found that amusing for a moment."

"Of course you would, you're not the one this guy's poking fun at!" She then gives me an indignant look that tells me that I really shouldn't keep going on this particular line of discussion if I wanted to keep what little dignity I have left.


"True. Now for the next... letter..." I start looking for the next letter in the batch just in time for it to appear above my table, but that wasn't the part that made me stop. What made me stop is the fact that it's being held by a hand, and said hand is attached to a tengu who's currently struggling with a gap youkai to see who can squeeze through the gap the latter of the two opened up to deliver a letter. This is complicated by the fact that the gap really isn't big enough for two people yet they look like they tried to leap through at the same time, resulting in them wedging each other in place. I can imagine that their respectable busts squishing against each other aren't helping any either, right along with their faces being so close. Since I don't feel like getting distracted by a very muted catfight, I yank the letter out of Aya's hand and open it up without a second thought. ...I raise my eyebrow in response to the letter, which seems to be a vote that's trying to get the author to change how he writes the [X]Yes/[X]No options. "Did the two of you really have to struggle this hard to deliver such a pointless letter?" I do feel a bit worried about the fact that they're taking this entirely too far when the contents are barely worth reading.

"It wouldn't have been a struggle if the gap hag didn't try to yank it away from me! My house is a mess because she wouldn't back down!" I'm actually a bit surprised at the boldness Aya's displaying right now. She used to be quite afraid of the gap youkai, but now I'm wondering if that fear has been replaced by a desire for retribution. ...Perhaps I should talk her into backing down before Yukari takes it too far again.

"And you could have just let me deliver it like I wanted! If you did that nothing bad would have happened!" Yukari's surprisingly adamant about this, since I'm quite certain she peeked at the contents before actually trying to deliver it. Not that I mind all that much since the questions could be answered by pretty much anyone who's made an appearance in the story, but...

I just facepalm at their antics. "Rumia, get off for a moment, would you?" I ask the grue politely before standing up anyway, since I didn't feel like having a squabbling pair of bisexuals hovering over my desk from a tear in reality. And since I don't feel like listening to this anymore, I do what any sane man would do: Move the table one-handed to where I can stand under the spot the two are occupying, grab hold of both of them, then put all my force into dragging them out of the gap.

"H-hey, what are you doing? We're stuck, and pulling's just going to make it worse!" Aya's now visibly concerned...

"Such a display! I assume you're actually going to get us out?" Yukari doesn't look concerned in the slightest by comparison. In fact, she's amused by this.

...However, the fact that I'm taking the brute force method to a problem caused by the gap youkai, the very same one I'm currently trying to drag out of her own gap manages to make my mood sour considerably. "I would, but there's the small matter of you not bothering to enlarge your gap. I probably can't hurt either of you in my attempts, though it would ultimately be far easier if you stopped making this harder through you laziness."

"I'd help, but I'm enjoying this a liiiiitle too much to even think about doing something to fix this~" Yukari's also far too happy about her current position, which prompts me to resist the urge to facepalm in exasperation while another part wonders why I even bothered trying to ask her for assistance.

"Maybe you are, but I want some distance! You're creepy enough as it is without you molesting me!" Aya's still annoyed, so at least I know there's more than one person who wants to just get this done and over with.

"Me? Molesting you? Why would I do that?" The gap youkai's sing-song voice simply drives me to take better hold of Aya so I can yank the tengu down first, and perhaps leave the gap youkai behind. I am a little worried about where her hands went though. "Though if you want me to do that so bad~..."

Yukari must have touched Aya, as the tengu went red in the face, tried to bolt away (allowing me to get some headway), and started doing her best to make it where such things would stop. Not that it mattered. "You! You're going to pay for that, and not in a good way!" Aya's gotten rather pissed over this by now, resulting in her slowly gaining ground against the gap youkai. Yukari quickly proves that this is only because she allowed it, because once Aya's bust was in line with her face she pressed her face between the tengu's breasts. Aya's words were less words and more unintelligable angry gibberish that just happened to translate into a string of swear words and threats.

Seeing as I'm already doing what I can to diffuse this, I reluctantly look to the only other source of help I have in the hopes that the grue can solve this before I have to resort to violence, and as everyone knows, my brand of violence tends to be rather explosive and brutal to all involved. "Let me guess, you need help." Rumia has the common sense to not state what she thinks I need help with, as that would mean that the gap youkai would be prepared for it. As I've found out, Yukari handles surprises with far less grace, meaning that a surprise attack should be one of the few things she can't properly defend against.

I nod to Rumia once.

What happened next involves Rumia pulling a large hammer out of her dress, yes, it's pitch black, then proceeds to swing it at the gap youkai as hard as she possibly can. I wince as I hear a rather nasty sounding crack eminating from the contact, yet oddly enough I find myself not caring all that much. I instead care about Aya, who's now falling down on me at incredible speed now that she's been knocked free of the gap. I have only moments to contemplate her features before they crash me back-first into the floor, causing a small imprint of my body to form in the floor. I can't help but wonder if either my house or I can ever catch a break around here...

Aya's trying to make sure that I'm okay, but I can only sort of half hear her thanks to the concussion I got only moments ago. Any and all attempts to reassure her are immediately vetoed by both my own brain, and both those who are still conscious. Aya then peels me out of the floor and carries me off to bed, causing the letter-answering to be stopped early.
My apologies, but my full update for this has been deleted twice over now by someone who doesn't know when to quit fucking with my stuff. As a result, I have to re-write the whole damn thing for the third time and hope it doesn't get nuked again.

Curiously are you still using a Wii or DS to type it all out? Maybe it's time to get a laptop, netbook or desktop pc by now.

I don't have the little internet cart for my brick DS, but if I did I'd use that as it's much easier to hide whether it's on or not. As it stands, I typically use my Wii for posting because the cats, or rather, one cat has become excessively needy and as a result I usually can't spend much time on my PC as my mother is a lazy fuck who can't be bothered to placate the cats every once in a while so I can do something useful.

So I do write from my Wii more often than not, though I have my own PC that I can use for this. A laptop might be a good idea, but I don't have the money to get what I need.


I look at the others in the hope that she was speaking to someone else, but my hopes start to sink the more I look at them. Reimu is continuing to chew out Yukari, Marisa's blushing and is being held up by the collar by the miko, Yukari's starting to backpedal ever so slowly in response, Alice is keeping an eye on them so they won't wreck her house, though her dolls are paying attention to both Rumia and I. Hourai is giving the grue the cutest little frown I've ever seen, while Shanghai is looking up at me with a worried look while nibbling on her hand as a nervous twitch. ...Why is it so difficult to not want to snatch them up into a hug and take them home? Alice knows how to make a cute doll.

Concluding that the support would only come once I'm in some kind of real danger, I sigh in defeat. Clearly, the grue is waiting for me to make this coice myself. "I suppose I can hear out your last request, so long as it's-" And just as soon as I begin, I'm forcibly stopped again.

This is because Rumia only waited for me to say that I'll give her one last request, even though I really said I'd only hear her out, before closing the gap between us and kissing me. However, my mouth was partway open when she kissed me, so she upgraded her 'kiss' request to a 'deep kiss' without any sort of warning. Given that my arms have been pinned to my sides by the grue hugging me, I can't push her away in response. Given that she's pinned me to the chair, I can't move my head away. Given that her tongue is playing with mine, I can't even think straight...

At least until something smashes into Rumia's head from behind, causing her to bite her tongue and be knocked out at the same time. Despite the haze in my mind interfering with my ability to think or see straight, I can see that it was Shanghai and Hourai who did it, each of them carrying a yin-yang orb that's easily as big as they are. A proportionately herculean task that'd leave anyone with a sense of perspective impressed. Hourai then comes to a rest on her master's shoulder, absentmindedly kicking her feet out while aiding Alice in watching the bickering come to an abrupt halt. Well, it came to an abrupt halt once Hourai threw her orb at Yukari, which hit the gap youkai hard enough to knock her out too. Reimu then pats herself down, realizes she's missing her orbs, starts to get angry, then notices that Rumia was knocked out first and that I was slumped against the chair with a luminescant blush on my face.

Shanghai instead saw fit to hug my face and rest her tiny head on my forehead in a blatant display of relief and caring. It's said that Alice's closest dolls have some form of limited intelligence that usually reflects what the puppeteer herself is feeling at the time, so Shanghai's own display might be a slightly exaggerated display of what Alice herself is feeling. It's only a theory though, and I have no hard facts to back it up. Since I still need the use of my eyes, I carefully shift the doll off my face, at which point I notice that her chest isn't entirely flat, and cradle her in my arm while wondering if Alice was really eccentric enough to create an anatomically correct doll.

"Sorry about that Ivan." Reimu has made her way over to me in the meantime, holding a small hair ribbon in one hand and a red and white yin-yang orb pin in the other. Her expression is apologetic as she pulls the unconscious grue upright. "Once Yukari sets me off, I usually build up steam until I'm chewing her out for everything she's done recently." She then tied the ribbon into a bow, then used the pin to hold it in place. "And I'm still pretty pissed over what she did to Aya a couple months ago. Sure she crossed the line, but it was only worth leaving a footprint on her face. Yukari just up and crossed the line so hard that I couldn't even speak." She adjusted the seal with care until she's confident that the grue looks cute. ...I'm not even sure if she's paying attention to what she's saying anymore. "It's really rare for me to get that pissed off, but Yukari knew that and felt guilty over it to the point where she knew that letting me whale on her was the first step toward getting rid of the bad karma."

"Pardon my asking, but why are you telling me all this?" I can't help but raise an eyebrow in response to all this. Aya showed me proof of what happened to her while simultaneously incriminating Yukari. ...Perhaps Reimu knew she showed me?

"I don't know for sure. Aya won't confront Yukari to make her apologize, and Yukari isn't about to beg forgiveness no matter how much I threaten her." Reimu then props the grue upright and puts Rumia's dress back on her. "My divine intuition is telling me you might have a shot at resolving this. Even if you don't help her in that way, at least take care of her, okay?" ...She's asking me this? She smiles sheepishly, as though she heard that. "I know it sounds a bit crazy at first glance, but I'm pretty sure Aya's opened up to you. I'm not asking you to fall in love with her, just show her your reliable side like you've done for me. Even if Yukari never apologizes, I still want to see Aya back to her normal self. ...Or at least as close to normal as she can get anymore."

"A friend then, hm?" I ask in a thoughtful tone. "I think I've accomplished that much already, if her attitude around me is any indication. I'll keep doing my best then." I pick up the still adult grue up by the shoulders when Reimu motions for me to do so, then we carry her over to the couch to set her down. "Now that I think about it, how are things at the shrine? I've been a bit busy so I either have not had time to visit or I have been... Incapacitated."

Reimu visibly winces when she hears the word 'incapacitated'. Primarily because she knows exactly what it takes to bring that sort of thing about. "Everything's been fine. Mima's still posing as a deity, Suika's fixing things up as needed while wearing a miko outfit, Ruukoto's busy with the house chores I don't do, and Sariel's still mortified that she's been discovered by a stranger." And by 'a stranger', she means me. "All in all, the only thing that needs improvement is having more people like you around." She walks around behind the couch in order to open up some kind of portal beneath Rumia, which the unconscious grue falls through. She then corrects her earlier statement. "In the fact that they appreciate me enough to actually donate, not in how crazy they'd need to be to be like you."

"So, is it finished?" Alice makes herself known once more when she stands up and walks over to us.

Reimu nods in response. "Yeah. Rumia's seal can't be taken off the same way as last time so she can't use coincidence to get her way. An authorized individual has to take it off her willingly before her powers come back up to full." She then sighs as she flops over the couch, having first made sure that the portal is closed. "I really need to learn how to open those things on reflex, they're really useful. I can see why Yukari abuses them so much."

"If that has been settled, then I'd like to take some time to tend to Marisa. I notice she hasn't opened her mouth once after her return." Alice's comment reminds me that there's a still-dazed Marisa propped up against the couch, and that she hasn't even moved.

"Oh, that? Don't worry about it too much, Yukari just showed her an embarrassingly nice sight in transit, then dumped Marisa's mind in the gutter." Reimu picks up the witch bridal style to hand her off to the puppeteer. "Some smelling salts oughta fix that, and if not, then it should be obvious what you need to do." Alice doesn't seem to get it for a few moments, but blushes before retreating up the stairs and out of sight. "As for you, you're not sticking around. I know you're not at fault, but Marisa's going to default into 'unintelligable gibberish' mode if she sees you first thing after she wakes up. The good news is that I can take you, or drop you off at, anyplace you might want to go, and I'm not taking no for an answer."

[X]Just back home, I've had enough excitement for one day.
[X]Why not pay a visit to the shrine?
[X]Have her drop you off at Eientei, they might need some help reclaiming the frozen part of their home.
[X]See about visiting Keine, she shouldn't be busy at this point.


Reimu's gap skills aren't as refined as Yukari's are, so it's better to pick a place than a person.
[X] See about visiting Keine, she shouldn't be busy at this point.

Outside of Letty and Mokou, the former being Moriya knows where and the latter having an equal chance of being in either the Human Village or Eintei, Keine's probably the most worried about Ivan's well being, seeing as how she's essentially his caretaker, so we should let her know the Rumia incident is resolved.

We should see about letting Eintei know too, since Ivan's friends with just about everyone there except Reisen. (even Tewi cares about us enough to pump us full of good luck)
[c] See about visiting Keine, she shouldn't be busy at this point.

This should do.
[X]See about visiting Keine, she shouldn't be busy at this point.

Works for me~!
>Well, it came to an abrupt halt once Hourai threw her orb at Yukari, which hit the gap youkai hard enough to knock her out too.

You mean "Hakurei" right?

[X]Why not pay a visit to the shrine?

Maybe make a donation or something. It's not like it wouldn't be appropriate to thank Reimu in some way for her help dealing with Rumia and all.
Never mind, just reread and actually paid attention this time. Hourai, yes.

and keeping the vote the same, reasoning still stands for that.
[X] See about visiting Keine, she shouldn't be busy at this point.
[X]Have her drop you off at Eientei, they might need some help reclaiming the frozen part of their home.

We should let her know that we're alright and ask her what she knows about Jack Frost and any other alchemists in history.

But we should try to resolve the Eientei matter somehow as I get the feeling that Jack'll end up the final boss.

First the dolls do cute stuff on Ivan's cannons, now Yin Yang orbs.
I want to know what the hell Rumia was trying to pull by giving Ivan one last french kiss.

Besides the obvious.

Are you sure? I think Rumia may find a loop hole to exploit.
[x] Shrine

Heh, if I had known that you were going to resurrect that section, I'd have made a decent letter. To be honest, I totally forgot about it.
same here.
You know, I actually forgot why I stopped doing that in the first place. It's a fun thing for me to do and I'm sure it's part of the story's overal draw since it provides both an alternative world to mess with and a way to involve the readers since the story answering segment is hardly afraid to break the fourth wall on a routine basis. Now that I've reminded myself of it, don't hold back on the questions if you've got them.


"Since I don't have much of a choice in the matter, I'd appreciate it if you'd drop me off at Keine's place. It's late enough that she should be done with her usual routine and I need to make sure that she knows that the situation has more or less been resolved. I know she's been worrying about me quite a bit so saying something would probably be better than letting her stress herself out over me." The portal Reimu's opened up is practically right in front of me, and the miko herself is standing next to me. Clearly I need to wrap up what I have to say fairly soon or she may just push me right on through out of impatience.

She nods in assent before placing a hand on the gap. The change isn't immediate and is more a slow warping of the previous destination into a perfect view of my desired arrival point, which appears to be one of the bigger differences between her gaps and Yukari's aside from how much time it takes the miko to actually open one. "That's not a bad idea at all." Her warm smile manages to convince me that she really isn't just trying to toss me out of the puppeteer's home for some annoyance, though I find it weird that I even started to worry about that to begin with. "I'm sure she'd get the wrong idea if you left her in the dark too long, and letting her get worked up for no reason is no good either." Her work finishes a short time after she finishes that sentence and begins to push. "Let me know how it goes the next time you visit the shrine, okay?"

"Of course." I begin to walk through the portal only to stop about halfway when I see the miko's smile go from warm to amused. My annoyed look doesn't stop her growing smile in the slightest either. "Don't go getting any funny ideas just because you think that Keine wound up developing a shotacon fetish on me when she took me in. I do love her, but as a mother figure, not as a lover." I then step through the portal, feeling the winter wind lash against my face. I adjust my jacket a bit before taking the last few steps toward the teacher's home.


Reimu changes the properties of her gap so that they come out at her home, shaking her head and smiling as she does so. "I know nobody else has my divine intuition, but even you know that she didn't want you to leave once she got accustomed to having you around." The miko gave the gap youkai a light knock on the head instead of picking her up. "And you, stop pretending to be unconscious. I'm not going to carry you through the gap."

True to the miko's words, Yukari's right eye opens almost instantly when she's hit in that playful manner. "Oh, so the teacher did develop a shota fetish for him? I was wondering why you always found their interactions amusing." Yukari got up off the floor with minor reluctance as she had hoped she could fool Reimu long enough to be carried through bridal style, but she knew she's still in the doghouse over what happened. "Care to tell me what happened between them?"

"No. You'd just start teasing them both and causing trouble for them. Not to mention you're still in trouble and any more mischief out of you will have some truly unpleasant consequences." Reimu's tone makes her statement and threat final with no room for negotiation. She stands before the portal leading home, and yanks the gap youkai toward her.

Yukari still manages to take it rather gracefully, in a calculated yet clumsy way. "Ah, so no amusing story time... Oh well, I suppose I'll just have to tease him about Marisa since she's got something for him too." Standing upright, she walks through the gap.

Reimu lingers for a few more moments as she needed to calm down a bit before facing her family with Yukari in toe. They'd understand, but it wouldn't be fair to them if she kept herself in a perpetual bad mood. Breathing deeply for a few more moments, the heat in her face and the tightness in her chest go away, and she feels ready to go home. "Ivan's left a few impressions, and given how rare self-sufficient and understanding men are, it's a sure bet he's stolen a few hearts without ever meaning to. Nothing has ever come of any of it since he's such an oblivious twit, but that..." Her musing trails off for a moment as she recalls how he acts in front of Letty. "That's going to change soon."
> Ivan's left a few impressions, and given how rare self-sufficient and understanding men are, it's a sure bet he's stolen a few hearts without ever meaning to.

Just come out and say you like hi-
Oh right, Yukari.
>Nothing has ever come of any of it since he's such an oblivious twit, but that..." Her musing trails off for a moment as she recalls how he acts in front of Letty. "That's going to change soon."
But he's already come to terms with his feelings for Letty! Notice how he didn't object to Alice calling her his girlfriend. He objected to how far along she was implying that their relationship was.

Speaking of Alice, is she Ivan's only friend who doesn't have a crush on him?
I'm sure Alice wants Ivan's cock. Or wanted, at least.
If she does or did like him, she's far better at hiding it.

"Ah, it seems there's a reasonable question on the table now." Back in my familiar house, in the same lab, sitting on the same chair, is one Ivan, who is reading a letter that somehow punched a hole through the side of his house. This is mostly because the letter was encased in a metal tube that has a rounded point on one end and a rocket attached to the other. As a result, I'm going to make a certain cucumber-loving twit pay for the repairs. With that out of the way, I get back to reading. "Alice never did hold that kind of interest in me. We're courteous to each other and are more than happy to visit each other for conversations or favors, along with caring about my well-being, but that's basically it as far as Alice goes."

One of the other annoying points is that the kappa took the time to install all manners of gadgets to everyday objects, as well as modifying several bits of indoor plumbing to their specifications, so I've been surprised in both pleasant and unpleasant ways. My chair, for example, now has wheels on it so I can scoot around in case I need to do something else while feeling lazy. A less pleasant surprise was the rocket-powered recliner, which I can only hope was meant for me to fly around in comfort. Even less welcome is the toilet with a connection to something called 'the internet'. When I asked the gap youkai, she stated that 'the internet' was meant to be used on a personal computer and that only a couple people had one and was exasperated when I mentioned the the kappa installed one in my toilet. As a result, I'm now afraid to check to see what they've done to the guest bathroom.

"Mokou..." I come to a halt in front of the pantry, having successfully navigated my house without leaving my chair. "It's pretty obvious that she's not interested in me in that way. To her, I'm probably a cross between a friend and an amusing curio." I grab a cookie before rolling myself back to my desk, only to have one of the wheels catch on a doorjam, which causes the chair and I to flip on our backs. "Ow... As for the people at the shrine... Reimu's good at keeping her desires out of her expression, Suika's more a boisterous friend and someone who keeps trying to lock proverbial horns with me, Mima's more a source of sarcasm, Ruukoto only has eyes for Reimu, while Sariel... Well, she'd probably be neutral toward me if she wasn't reduced to what she is."

My spot hasn't been filled during my short leave, which is good as it means I'm actually going to get a small break today. "Marisa has had a bit of an on and off crush on me during my training, but I was pretty sure she got over that. Then again, I was pretty much oblivious to love before I met Letty." I roll my eyes as I consider how painful it must have been for anyone who has shown interest in me. "Keine... She got used to my being there, both my presence and that I was someone who essentially filled in the 'husband' role for her. Had I had half a brain back then, or any inclination, it would have been easy for that routine to become permanent." The more I think about this the more I want to beat my head against the wall.

"Hey Ivan, what're you reading?" And just as I'm sure I'm not going to have guests, Letty shows up.

>It's pretty obvious that she's not interested in me in that way. To her, I'm probably a cross between a friend and an amusing curio.

I dunnno, Keine seems to be somewhat convinced that there's something there:
>"You do realise Mokou's not going to be happy when she finds out."
And I'd be more inclined to trust her on Mokou's feelings first, since she definitely knows her better.

You know, come to think of it, we haven't seen Mokou (or the entire "Imperishable Night" crew, for that matter) in a while. Sometime in thread 4, I think?

>Had I had half a brain back then, or any inclination, it would have been easy for that routine to become permanent." The more I think about this the more I want to beat my head against the wall.

Hoho~, seems like someone isn't quite over his crush on a certain schoolteacher~. I wonder if Letty's the jealous type. Eh, she'd probably just give you the cold shoulder at worst, I guess... I'm sorry.
Thanks to the wind I can't even hear the snow crunching beneath my feet as I take the last few steps to my old home, and the same wind is also guilty of chilling my face and legs with it's insationable bite. It's not snowing much at all right now, which is the only good part about this trip. It's cold as well as miserable and I do not need to deal with it being wet as well. I don't quite recall if I made this jacket waterproof either, so that's another thing I'm going to have to check on in fairly short order, preferably before a proper snowstorm hits. Asine thoughts aside, I manage to get to the door and knock. I'm not sure if Keine's house has been equipped with a doorbell or not since I left, though it really should be one of the first things I look for once I knock.

Once, twice, three times... Now to wait.

Thankfully it never seems to take her that long to answer the door as I soon find myself face to face with my former teacher and housemate. "Ivan! What are you doing out here? I would have thought you were off... No, this is the wrong time for such questions. Please, come in." She then steps aside and allows me access to her home, which is quite appreciated since I'm practically freezing in my shoes here. Keine closes the door behind me so she can keep as much heat in the house as possible, then steps ahead of me. "My apologies for that, but my question still stands."

"I wanted to come tell you that the small grue problem has been dealt with. Reimu re-sealed her personally, so that should be one less threat to my life." Now that I think about it, it's probably pretty unnerving to hear me talk about deadly threats in such an offhand manner, perhaps even more so for those who know exactly what I deal with on a day to day basis. I follow the teacher along until we get to her living room, then take a seat. I refrain from asking her anything yet since I'm quite sure that she's going to want to speak to me about the details over some tea.

"That's a relief. I'm sure that you already know this, but I was worried that Rumia's unsealed form might have been too much for you to survive. I know just how powerful she is, and I know how strong you are, and..." Keine looks away for a moment, as though she can't quite meet my eyes. She probably feels ashamed over not believing in me more, but saying anything now would be a bad idea I think. "...And I honestly thought you were going to die. You're almost as stubborn as Mokou and you know how to handle yourself, but you're still human." She then looks directly at me before speaking again. "I know I already said this, but you really worried me! Whatever you did to bring this about, don't ever do it again!"

All I can do is smile in response. "Yes Keine, I promise not to unleash an ancient horror bent on eating and/or raping me in the future, and if I do you have every right in the world to headbutt me as hard as you think is needed until you restore some semblance of sanity in my head." I can't keep an entirely straight face throughout this for some reason, even though I'm not joking at all.

Keine merely huffs in response. "I'll hold you to that, though I think I'd end up killing you long before I knocked any sanity back into your head." There was an almost awkward pause in the conversation after that, but Keine speaks again shortly afterward. "That aside, I'm going to go make some tea."

[X]Follow her into the kitchen to help.
-[X]Talk about something in the process? (Write-in)
[X]Wait for her.
I still think Rumia will find some sort of loophole.
[X]Follow her into the kitchen to help.
-[X]Talk about tea. Show her your knowledge.
[X] Follow her into the kitchen to help.
- [X] Ask about how Mokou and the people at Eintei are doing.
Picking up on the unspoken cue, I get up from my seat just as Keine walks past me in order to join her in the kitchen. There was the off chance that I wasn't right about this, but I doubt she'd actually object to talking to me since she's only mad that I've done something stupid that risked my life. She might not see it as 'only' though so any thoughts about discussing it further are shoved out of my mind in favor of asking about the Eientei crew and Mokou since I haven't seen them in a while. Mokou especially, since while she is an immortal I still like to know how she is.

I take note of the fact that the kitchen hasn't changed all that much in the time I've been away, as everything is more or less as I remember it. The refigerator is new though, though I don't know if it's my Sealed Ice keeping it cold or if it uses electricity to whisk away heat. Call it willful ignorance, but since I've relied on magic and alchemy to make my life easy... Easier I've never bothered with this so called 'modernization'. It just seems like too big a hassle when you can just seal up what you need and keep it where you need it to preform tasks like heating and cooling water/food/ect., collecting and storing water, or powering devices. The idea of storing electricity as an element has crossed my mind more than once, especially if I can adapt it to where it can be used to power electronics. You know, that'd make a killing if I could refine it to the point where they could be recharged by various means, or if I could make something to collect solar energy to make electricity...

Too bad the kappa have such a stranglehold on the potential market. Or at least that's what the Bunbunmaru had printed one time. I was about to dismiss that as a joke when I asked Reimu about it not too long afterward, at which point she said that they really did have such a source of power available, and that it just happens to be in the form of a three-legged hell raven. ...I had no idea how in the world they managed to harness that being for their goals, but I felt that it would be a question best left unspoken. Once I've decided to start thinking in the present, I find that I've been making the tea almost entirely through muscle memory and that Keine is standing off to the side with a surprised expression on her face. I guess there are some things you just don't forget.

"Ivan, is there something on your mind? You've spaced out for the last few minutes." Keine speaks up just as I pull my mind back out of the clouds, and she takes over once I stop moving since that would have caused the tea to not come out quite as well as it might have had I kept thinking to myself.

I step aside to allow the teacher room to move since I feelt that I would be little more than a hinderance here. "A couple things. First of all I wanted to ask how Mokou's doing. I haven't seen her at all lately, and while she can't truly die, I still worry about her." I still set out a couple teacups while I speak.

"Mokou's just fine. Kaguya's forced her to stay in Eientei for a while, both because she wants her help and because she can't stand to watch as Mokou lets herself freeze to death." Keine sighs as she sets the teapot off to the side, but not before pouring tea out into both cups. "I can't even begin to understand why she would allow herself to die like that. I know she gets sick of living sometimes, but to the extent that she'd give up despite knowing how others feel about her?"

I take a cup and sip the steaming liquid as I hear Keine talk about a subject that she's gone on about before. I'm not going to stop her though since she's usually very close to voicing my opinion on the matter. I'm sure that Kaguya also feels quite strongly about this, and if their interactions are anything to go by I'm sure that the lunar princess would be more than happy to strap the immortal down to a bed or something. "In that case, it's up to us to beat some sense into her. I'm sure that Kaguya's doing enough of that for the both of us, so let's keep any worry about Mokou confined to what Kaguya's doing to her right now."

Keine giggles in response before blowing on her own cup of tea. "I'm sure it's nothing harmful. I'm sure I already told you this, but Kaguya never really harbored any ill will toward Mokou. In fact, she only ever killed Mokou out of obligation." She leans against the counter as she finally takes a sip. "Not to mention that I think that the two are positive influences on each other." I can tell that this was a forced stop on her part, but no sense pressing the issue.

"The other issue on my mind was how to tap into the electric energy market. I know that a few people have had electrical devices installed in their home and that the kappa provide elecricity that's more or less free, but I can't help but think that there's still time to get my foot in the door if I'm fast enough." ...Come to think of it, there's only one possible way for me to beat out the kappa when it comes to this market: Beating out their installation price. That means coming up with a way to generate electricity, then to make it compatible with devices without blowing them out... Not impossible, but difficult.

"You know, I almost forget that you happen to run a shop sometimes. Ivan the shopkeep is not an image I'm used to, even after all this time." Keine looks to me with a smile on her face, and it'd take an idiot not to guess at why she thinks that way. "Maybe I'm still..." She cuts herself off once again, but it's not as perfect this time since she trails off rather than cuts herself off.

What to do...

[X]Conversation hasn't dried up yet. Change the subject.
[X]Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.
[X]...You know, maybe she could help with Letty No, that's tactless right now.
[X]Perhaps it's time for another danmaku lesson.
[X]Ask to stay the night. I'm not really for heading off into the bitter cold again if I can help it.
[X]I've taken up too much of her time already.
[X] Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.

Out with it.
[X] Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.

Oh my.
[X] Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.

[X] Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.
Sorry Ivan, but we already invented electricity containers. We call them batteries.

[X] Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.
Elephant? What elephant? I see no elephant.

[X]Conversation hasn't dried up yet. Change the subject.


[X] Push the issue. You're not letting her get away with being shy about it.
While Keine's stumbling with her words, I simply stand there holding a half-drunk cup of tea while silently coming up any number of appropriate ways to push the issue. The teacher is a grown woman who's held, and still has, a fair few admirers who'd love to speak sweet nothings into her ear while contemplating how best to get into bed with her, so you'd think she'd have a bit more experience with talking to the opposite sex. There's the possibility that she simply doesn't feel anything for the opposite sex, but she's not me and I know for a fact that she's not stupidly oblivious like I was. I could spend all day theorizing, but that wouldn't get anywhere. Instead I form a few choice words in my head before responding to her. "You know, you sound an awful lot like a young schoolgirl trying to confess to a boy she likes." My tone is entirely neutral with no hint of amusement in case she takes things the wrong way.

She stops her floundering almost immediately and stares at me in disbelief. "..." She doesn't say anything at first, then the shock wears off just long enough for the innumerable gears in her head to start working again in a matter not unlike a steam locomotive. Slow initially, but it'll probably bowl me over by the end of this. "Who are you and what have you done with Ivan?" It's said with a perfectly straight face as she picks up a bit more speed, not yet able to properly register what I just said, or the fact that I was the one who said it. "Did Rumia knock a normal thought process into that thick skull of yours? You've never caught that before." ...Little red flags start going up. She knows about Letty and how she basically waltzed into my life, then grabbed my hands before leading me in a dance I knew nothing about. A leading position typically preformed by the male in the couple, no less. On the other hand, she doesn't seem to know that I've basically accepted the snow woman as my girlfriend after Rumia put both our lives at risk. In a way, the grue did exactly as Keine said, but at the same time, I don't know if the nature of the teacher's fumbled confession.

"You could say that." I allow myself to slip into a more normal tone before downing the rest of the cup in one go. "There's one thing I'd like to hear though."

Keine caught on quickly now that her mind is running at full capacity again, and nods with her eyes closed. "I already know. You want to hear what I was stumbling with." She then looks at me with a small smile on her face. "I'd be perfectly happy if you moved back in, but I already know the answer to that one."

Sadly, my answer to her proposal is no. My house isn't something I want to give up since it contains my entire life's work and has been reworked to contain it all without going up in a small mushroom cloud. To move back in with Keine would mean I'd have to give up almost all of it in order to keep her house from being damaged, and I don't think I could ask her to give up her house to live with me. ...Perhaps I could, had I not already chosen Letty. That in itself is a little odd, as we don't know each other terribly well. I've read stories where a man and a woman fall for each other right off the bat, and I know I've said it before but I'm still slightly worried that I was thinking with the wrong head at the time without even knowing it. It's not baseless worry, but neither is it appropriate for the situation at hand.

"I'm afraid the answer's still the same, but for an additional reason." I don't really want to do this, but it's better that she find out- No, she's a clever girl. Odds are good she knows this one already.

"It's because of Letty, isn't it." It's not so much a question as it is a statement of fact. I notice that her mood deflates ever so slightly as she says this, and it's enough to make me want to hug her and assure her that things are alright. I'm just hoping that she's not secretly jealous, or the type that'd do truly unwelcome things to the hypotanuse, because that would be an exceptionally nasty mess to clean up. Especially since she's more than capable of rewriting any history not recorded by Akyuu, and I'm sure that my interactions with Letty have not been recorded.

"It is." At the very least, I can be up-front and honest with Keine to show that I trust her, both with my life and not to grow angry with the snow woman on the off chance that Keine develops those tendencies. I also feel that being a minimalist may help...
> I'm just hoping that she's not secretly jealous, or the type that'd do truly unwelcome things to the hypotanuse, because that would be an exceptionally nasty mess to clean up.

Right, you already have one Yandere after you, you don't need another that is confirmed to be one of Gensokyo's power houses.
Way to make me feel kinda bad about going after Letty. I'm not giving up though; one path, no regrets, etc.
Dear Keine,

I'd like to hear it from you. Why Ivan?

If there's a second run of this, chances are it'd be either Aya, Keine, Eirin, or possibly Mokou.
File 128749058118.jpg - (450.74KB, 1920x1080, youbrokeherheart.jpg) [iqdb]
Dear Ivan:

I'd like to hear it from you. Why Letty?

My question: How does it feel to be popular with girls as you are?
Personally I'd go for Aya in a heartbeat.
Has anything ever actually had a finished second run?
YAF's This Shrine story.

As I've said before: If I'm getting this kind of reaction, I'm doing my job.



"I think that has more to do with my alternate self being worried that such a thing is the case, rather than it being true for certain." The small pile of letters has become slightly larger this time around thanks to the fact that those who would send the letters have been reminded of this segment's existence. I may find some of the content less than amusing, but by the same token it's always interesting to hear other people's questions and thoughts. "Keine is in fact too stable for that sort of thing. Yes, she may try to rope the main me back into her arms every now and again, but her realization of her true feelings was almost as post-mortem as mine was. As a result, unless I display interest, she won't pursue me with more than a half-hearted vigor. Unless you lot start a collective bunch of dicks and start stringing her along, at which point she may go yandere, but I doubt that will happen since you all seem to be the respectable sort when it comes to relationships." I set the letter down as that brings up another point: Where in the world is Keine anyway? She was supposed to help me with this, especially since there's one letter directed to her.

A short while later...

After setting out to go retrieve the teacher from her abode, I successfully return carrying Keine bridal-style into the house. This caused a small stir, but not as big of one as there could have been since nobody with a functional brain would be out there without good reason. That aside, it's actually quite nice to see Keine with a full blush on her face. It started roughly when I declared that I was taking her home and would not take no for an answer in an over the top theatrical style, and spread when I swept her up in my arms to make good on my word. She settled for simply keeping her hands in her lap for the time being. After we arrive home, I don't let her down until we get to my desk, and even then it's to deposit her directly into my lap once I sit down. Her warm weight is appreciated a fair bit, even more so when she decides to snuggle up against me. "All this just to answer a letter... It makes me wonder what you'd do if you were planning on proposing to me." She doesn't look at me as she's saying this, instead picking up the next letter.


Keine blinks once just as she finishes reading the letter in question. "That? I originally fell in love with him over the usual things, like personality, his acceptance of what I really am, and to a lesser extent, things like his handiness around the house. Time had a lot to do with it as well since we've lived together for several years before Ivan chose to move away, and we simply got used to each other being there for one another." Keine then sets the letter down as she continues to put her thoughts into words. "Yes, we opened up to one another, and began to understand each other, but it seems that we didn't learn quite fast enough..."

I can't help but feel guilty about this as well, seeing as Aya's decided to open up to me in the same manner Keine did, and as Letty did to a lesser extent. Part of me wants to respond to the teacher, but the more logical part says that the opportunity has long passed and I would only hurt others if I tried, and I couldn't do that to Aya. Not after I helped her past her issue. Instead I remain silent and pick up the next letter to read, looking at the attached pictu-


The picture is rather gruesome to say the least, as it comprises of a young girl dead on the floor with a literal hole where her heart should be and blood pouring out of the wound, staining the dress and the floor, suggesting that she had been impaled rather than someone merely having punched a hole into her to tear her heart out. "...Excuse me a moment." I carefully fold up the picture as to avoid letting Keine see it, and deposit it for later disposal. Clearing my throat once, I calm myself before talking. "And you've asked the question that currently plagues my alternate self in the main story. A woman he's known for less than a week, who has intruded on his life so thoroughly while revealing so little of herself in return... That me worries that he's fallen for her for all the wrong reasons. 'Thinking with the wrong head', I believe it's called."

Keine notes that I've unconsciously pulled her closer to me after looking at the picture, and hugs my face into her chest to help ease my worry. For some reason, it works rather well.

"That doesn't answer your question though, so I'll try to answer it as best I can." I don't pull away from Keine in the slightest since this feels nice. "Letty presents an interesting mystery to Ivan as she has more or less been confirmed to have been an alchemist while she was alive. The fact that she has the occasional bit of knowledge to share in the matter helps him press forward. Her attitude toward him doesn't hurt either, as she seems to like him just as much as he now likes her. It still remains to be seen as to how much of this is Letty genuinely being in love with him and how much of it is merely her reaching out to him for help, or to use him to escape her existence as a yuki-onna. Personally, I could see this easily turning into something deeper between the two as she does seem to genuinely worry about him when he gets hurt."


"As for being the object of affection for multiple girls... Since all of them want me for themselves, I can say with full honesty that being the target of multiple girls isn't all it's cracked up to be. I may care about all of them, but I'd be happy to just choose one and stick with her." As far as girlfriends go anyway. I don't mind having female friends, but their competition is entirely unhealthy!
> start a collective bunch of dicks and start stringing her along, at which point she may go yandere

Good job, now I'm wondering what yandere Keine would be like.

From our perspective that is, not yours.

On a different topic, I do belive that there is a loop hole that Rumia could exploit to remove the ribbon. Unless it's attached to her scalp, she could just cut the hair that it's attached to. That's technically removing it without getting it removed. And while she can't touch her ribbon, she can touch her hair.
"There's just no helping it then." Keine simply huffs in response before breaking into a genuine smile. "I may be dissapointed that I didn't get that sort of reaction out of you while you were living with me, but I am glad someone finally made you hot and bothered. I really was worried that you'd never feel that way about anyone." ...I think it's less that and more 'how long will a lady friend put up with my being dense before she ups and rapes me to get the point across'. I know that Eirin can be a forceful individual, and Rumia's already done so. Though I was comatose in the latter's case so that one doesn't really count. "Is there something on your mind?" The teacher seems to pick up on an expression I displayed without thinking about it. To make this worse, it's not a question. She knows I'm thinking about something and I've found that it's generally better to tell her rather than not.

"Nothing much, just wondering what would happen if Letty hadn't invaded my home and I hadn't developed feelings for her in the process." It's not the whole truth since I left out the part where Rumia raped me (though I don't think it counts), so she's bound to push the issue in some manner or another.

"You would probably die heir-less, along with breaking the hearts of pretty much anyone who would have wanted to have a romantic relationship with you." Now that's just a low blow Keine...

"Actually, it'd probably involve rabbits, drugs, and one lunarian doctor who decided one day that my anatomical knowledge is woefully incomplete." I may have to hug the teacher later. I don't recall the last time I did that, and a little affection might put her in a better mood.

Keine blinks once in astonishment before breaking out into a small giggle-fit, resuming our conversation only when she's done. "That would do it, wouldn't it? Well, either she'd have done it or I would since I imagine that either one of us could cover the necessary bits."

"Keine, can we drop this particular subject? It's making me nervous." It's bad enough that my dreams occasionally turn to Eirin and her possible antics, I don't need to imagine what Keine would do to me, especially not in here were-hakutaku form. Although I'll admit that it's more cute than terrifying, and even as dense as I am I've felt the desire to hug that huge, soft, silken tail of hers.

"Alright then, what did you want to talk about instead?" She's smiling serenely while putting no effort into changing the topic. She's doing this on purpose just to fluster me!

[X]You really could use another danmaku lesson.
[X]Discuss the practicality of magic-based emergency generators.
[X]Ask her to teach you all about women. This isn't an eroge damnit! Not to mention this would bite me in the ass.
[X]Ask how things are going for her lately.
[X]Actually, you should get going.
[X]Obligitory option that tells you that it's okay to write your own option.
[X] You really could use another danmaku lesson.

"Teach me, Keine-sensei! *beat to gauge reaction* Err, about danmaku."
[X]Ask how things are going for her lately.
[X]Discuss the practicality of magic-based emergency generators.
[X]Discuss the practicality of magic-based emergency generators.
-[X]You really could use another danmaku lesson.

Could prove useful~!
[X]Discuss the practicality of magic-based emergency generators.
-[X]You really could use another danmaku lesson.
[X] You really could use another danmaku lesson.

"Teach me, Keine-sensei! *beat to gauge reaction* Err, about danmaku."
This'll do nicely.
[x] Ask if she knows of any other alchemists in Genoskyo's history.

It's worth a shot.
[X] Ask if she knows of any other alchemists in Genoskyo's history.
[X] Discuss the practicality of magic-based emergency generators.
-[X] You really could use another danmaku lesson.

It's not a bad question. Admittedly, it'd probably be better for Akyuu to answer it, but we don't know if Ivan knows her, though he could probably tell us if he does in one of his Q&A sessions. [/UnsubtleHint]
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