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File 135213189678.jpg - (10.55KB, 194x393, familiar stranger.jpg) [iqdb]
26223No. 26223
One of the many travails of life is how tedious it is. When one is young, they dream of their future life, and how great it will be. One believes that they will soon reach out and touch the stars, as if they were points of light just inches beyond his grasp. Fantasy is behind every nook and cranny, with legendary creatures hiding just out of sight.

As time begins to take its toll, one starts to realize that reality does not coincide with fantasies. There are no monsters that hide under one's bed. There are no fairies that dance among the trees, giggling as they watch the giant humans that ignore them. Stars are not just beyond one's reach; they are instead untouchable. Even as high as one can jump, he will never lay a finger upon them.

Realizations like that must be accepted, in order to grow. When one becomes a man, they must put away those things that are childish. Dreams and hopes are all well and good, but will dreams end up sustaining one? Will hope keep one's body warm when the shivering cold of the long night approaches? Worst of all, if one does keep those beliefs, one larger question looms.

If those hopes and dreams come true, are they something wonderful? Or are they, instead, just the opposite?

Such is life. Such is the life that everyone must accede to. Such is the life that you have agreed to. Where once you were a vivacious child, jumping and bouncing hither and thither in your joy, you are now just one of many. A face that is hardly different than any other in the crowd.

Where you once had your dreams, you now have tedium. Gray cubicles in a larger gray room are all that you know. Instead of touching stars, you now touch the keys on a board, writing documents that never seem to end. All of it done just so you can make it to the end of another week, and to start all over when you reach the next.

The contact you have with those like you is sparse, merely enough to survive the long days. Even if these are faces that you have seen for years, they are faces that you know no more than the names of. They could potentially become friends, maybe even something closer. However, you fear the chance that they might be happier than you are. You dread the frightening possibility that they could enjoy their station in life.

If that proved to be the case, you would have to wonder if they were the ones mad, or if you were mad instead.

That is where you find yourself once again, surviving another week in order to head home. If you could call such a cold abode by that name. As you leave the steel labyrinth that is your place of work, you let out a sigh of relief. "Another one done… But how many more will I have to endure?"

Fortunately, there were none nearby that seemed to be interested in answering your question. Nor did you want to appear insane by answering it yourself. Instead, you let your fingers curl around an old tattered bag that contained your work, and begin to walk down the dirty sidewalk.

At no time did you try and meet the eyes of those walking towards you, nor did they do the same. Crowded the sidewalks may have been; but for you, they were empty.

Biding your time, you let your legs continue to carry you forward, until eventually you found the building that you called your home. "Still too optimistic to call it that, though. Just a place to sleep until I go to work once more." With one strong shove, you pulled the ancient door of the building open, wincing at the shriek of its neglected hinges.

Without pause, you stepped inside of the building. You had to duck in order to miss the small cloud of brick dust that had dislodged itself from the doorframe, managing to escape relatively clean. Shaking your head, you started to climb the stairs to your home, not even bothering to wait for the antique that was called an elevator.

One long and arduous climb up one hundred and sixty two steps later, you found yourself facing the brown door that led to your apartment. Fumbling in your pocket for the key, you noticed that the number had come off once more. "Next time, I'll just fix it myself. If maintenance can't even be bothered to keep the eight completely upright…" Well, there was no need to lament about their incompetence. You've done it many times before.

Eventually, you managed to find the key at the very end of its ring. Turning the lock with your right hand, you grabbed the handle with the left and pushed it open, quickly shutting your door behind you once you entered inside. You stumbled through the tiny hallway, plopping the bag on the kitchen counter as you passed it.

Your eyes began to droop as you walked towards what could laughably be called a living room. A small, musty chair along with a smaller television were the only things that were to be found in said room, connected to the tiny kitchen. Before you sat down, though, something in the corner of your eye caught your attention. Turning towards it, you found yourself tensing at the sight what was there.

Posing in the entryway to your bedroom was another person. Your mind struggled to recognize him as you looked up and down, trying to identify him. Standing not quite at six feet tall with a lanky, pasty build, he cut no handsome figure in cheap, dreary clothes. Cold gray eyes stared you down from underneath a black bush that could be called hair. Still, the second most unsettling thing was the smile on his face, as if almost happy to be found out.

The most unsettling thing was how he was the spitting image of you.

[ ] Great. Now you're so tired, you're hallucinating. Just go rest in your chair.
[ ] Ha ha. Some idiot decided to put a mirror or something in here. Or maybe a poster. Whatever, just go remove it.
[ ] Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?

------------

Howdy all. One of the rookies from the writeathon here. This isn't my first idea I've had for a CYOA, but it is the shortest one I've had. Hopefully this will allow me to decide if I'm cut out for this, or if I'm biting off more than I can chew. Especially before I try to write one that involves every single named character, plus a few unnamed ones.
Expand all images
>>No. 26224
[x] Ha ha. Some idiot decided to put a mirror or something in here. Or maybe a poster. Whatever, just go remove it.
>>No. 26225
[x] Stare at the person for a bit and go "WTF" then recover and ask Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?
>>No. 26227
[X]Back away from the figure some, in case he pulls a knife or something; one can never be too careful. Who is this... this... doppleganger? No, that sounds silly. Such a thing couldn't possibly be true. ...Could it? Demand to know what this person who they are. Ignore the fact that they look so very much like you, for the time being.
>>No. 26228
[x] Ha ha. Some idiot decided to put a mirror or something in here. Or maybe a poster. Whatever, just go remove it.
-[x] Consider improving your image, no doubt you feel like crap, you look like crap.

Going for some kind of oblivious disbelief.
Also, good to see a new story.
>>No. 26232
File 135221340610.jpg - (90.42KB, 500x334, be careful lest your cogs be scattered.jpg) [iqdb]
26232
[a] Ha ha. Some idiot decided to put a mirror or something in here. Or maybe a poster. Whatever, just go remove it.
-[a] Consider improving your image, no doubt you feel like crap, you look like crap.

------------

"Just lovely…" You shake your head as you stare at the unmoving image before you. "Great. Must have a practical joker watching me. And invading my apartment." Making a mental note to have the locks changed as soon as possible, you begin to walk over towards your image, intent on removing it.

Before you get too close, you take a better look at your picture. It had not changed at all as you had approached, as not even the slightest of the stubble on its chin had waved. "Not a mirror of some kind… But who would go to the length of printing out a full-size cutout of me?" A yawn threatened to pass your lips as you continued to examine your image. "Do I always look like a piece of shit?" Getting no response at all, you rub a hand through your hair, trying to give it some semblance of order.

However, no amount of idle mussing would prove to be beneficial. "Perhaps I should try and find something to wear that isn't in such a state. Maybe go and get some sun." You can't help but to laugh shortly at the thought. "Good waste of vacation that I'm never going to use. Bah. Why am I still talking to myself? Just get this thing to the trash, and I can go rest." As you spoke, you moved closer to your image, finally grabbing its shoulder.

Instead of meeting paper and cardboard, your hand met fabric as you grabbed a handful of the image's shirt. Belatedly, you realize that this is no poster propped up against the doorjamb. As your tired eyes meet the picture's, you notice that it moves for the first time since you looked. With but a wink and a widening of its grin, its hand rose up, grabbing your head and launching you across the floor.

Yelping as your buttocks collided with the hard linoleum, you skidded back along the hallway towards the door. Thankfully, you did not have enough inertia to carry you all the way to the door, leaving you with but an injured tailbone as you stared at your copy. "What the hell is going on here?"

Said copy merely chuckled as it loped forward, its arms and legs swinging at unnatural angles. The smile on its face seemed to grow wider as it approached you, straddling your body before sinking into a squat. "Ya know, you're not as smart as ya should be. What a maroon."

Shaking your head in disbelief, you tried to rise from the floor. However, your copy's hand shot forth once more, grasping your body with fingers of steel, preventing you from moving any closer. "Again, what the hell is going on here? What do you want?"

The person clucked its tongue at you, disappointed by the response. "Sounding like a broken brass drum. A music box that's been wound too tightly, and can only pluck the same few studs over and over." A tongue darted out over its teeth as it chuckled. "Perhaps I can wind ya a bit too much, and see how that turns out. Oh, what a delightful, agonizing twist it would be!"

From what the person was saying, there was only one conclusion you could come to. Whoever it may be was completely insane. Your eyes began to dart about as you attempted to struggle away, hoping to escape its grasp long enough to flee. "No… No thank you. You still haven't answered my question. What is going on here? Why do you look like me?"

Releasing you just for a moment, the copy clapped its hands. "Finally! A good question! Ten points to the broken music box!" Chuckling once more, it leaned down. "But besides, shouldn't I be asking ya the same question? Who are ya, and what is an idiot like ya doing in my home?"

You take the moment you are free to back against the door, trying to quickly rise to your feet. "Bullshit. And I'm not an idiot, so stop calling me that!"

"Ya aren't? Then why did ya think I was a mirror?" The copy cackled, rising to its feet as well. "Even the dumbest of animals could tell the difference. I suppose that makes ya dumber than them! Therefore, ya be an idiot. Perhaps I can be tightening the little screws in ya head; wind that spring up. Maybe make ya sharper." As it spoke, it began to slowly approach you, its hands rising to seize you once more.

Grabbing the handle of your door, you try to jimmy it open. But even as your other hand grabs the lock, you realize that the handle will not turn. Not an inch it budges, no matter how much strength you use. Your breath begins to shorten as panic swells within you. "What is it that you want from me?"

Shrugging slightly, the copy flipped its hands up. "Oh, just ya life." Shooting you a nasty grin, it kept speaking. "After all, it isn't as if ya're doing anything with it now." For the first time, though, the smile fell from its face. "Not as if my maker will let me have precisely what I want." Just as quickly as it vanished, the smirk returned. "But would she be happy with a defective music box? Perhaps I be finding another one for her, better than ya."

[ ] Alright, now it's time to panic. Not as if you know any of your neighbors, but even they should come if you make a large enough disturbance. Right?
[ ] Keep it talking. You need to know what is going on. If it is too busy speaking of itself, someone could come by to help. Maybe?
[ ] Now is the time for action. Bum rush the copy, and get into the kitchen. There might be something there to protect yourself. Perhaps?

------------

Alright, one thing to say. Write-ins are accepted, not just modifications. However, I take full discretion with said write-ins, so choose your words carefully if you make one.
>>No. 26234
[x] Alright, now it's time to panic. Not as if you know any of your neighbors, but even they should come if you make a large enough disturbance. Right?

Dying silently is never the way to do things.
>>No. 26235
[ ] Now is the time for action. Bum rush the copy, and get into the kitchen. There might be something there to protect yourself. Perhaps?

Dying fighting like a man. Also, bystander effect, noone would come anyway (considering the tone of the setting).
>>No. 26237
File 135230464478.png - (364.41KB, 593x393, crinkle.png) [iqdb]
26237
Flipped a coin to call it. Just wanted to point out that I plan to update at least once a day. If enough votes get in today, I might do it twice today. Have the time to do so.

[b] Now is the time for action. Bum rush the copy, and get into the kitchen. There might be something there to protect yourself. Perhaps?

------------

The moment that copy of yours looked away, you saw your chance. There was no way that you could exit through the entrance. Whatever had been done to the door of the apartment to bar egress through it would be too much for you to overcome. Whoever this is, it sounded like it was working for someone. There might even be compatriots with it barring up the other side of the door.

As much as you could stand here and let it keep talking, there was no one else that you could depend on to come to your aid. So you decided to take events into your own hands. Lowering your shoulder, you rushed towards your mirror image without waiting one more second.

Oddly enough, it did not stand in your way, nor did it lash out with those hands of iron to hold you down. Instead, the copy merely turned to the side, allowing you past it with relative ease. The air rushed in your face as your shoes pounded along the hard floor, echoing loudly in the silence that was your apartment.

Once pass the copy, you immediately turn the corner into the kitchen, not even daring to look back and see if it was following. Kneeling below the counter, you began to search through the various drawers, intent on finding something that could be used to defend against the impostor.

Withdrawing your hand from the third compartment, a blade gleamed in your fingers as you held it in the dim light of the room. Not a moment later, your eyes immediately turned from the shining knife, sensing movement in the hallway. The copy was standing there, staring at you with that same creepy grin on its face. It turned the corner around the counter, slowly approaching with that same odd lope in its step. "Running away, are we? Seems that ya're not quite as broken as I thought ya might have been." With another chuckle, it deliberately began to approach slowly, savoring your reaction as its smile widened. "Too bad that ya're about to come unwound once more, yar box scattered across the floor."

Even such banal rhymes could not break you out of your reverie. "Don't… Don't come any closer. I will use this on you if you do!" The tremor in your voice belied the conviction in your words, not causing it to falter in the slightest. Having no success, you slowly retreated until your back was pressing against the wall.

Laughing softly at your actions, the copy crept even closer. Arms swinging like pendulums, one rose up to caress your cheek, before falling back down. "Why shan't I, little broken box? Ya've no danger to me. Can't even shred my ears with a devil's note. Just be still and it all will be—"

Tired of hearing his blathering, your eyes clenched down as you reared back with the knife. Hesitating but a moment, you thrust the blade forward, wincing at the sickening thunk of it piercing the copy's flesh. After hearing neither a mouthy response nor shout of agony from the copy, you slowly opened your eyes to see what you had wrought.

The copy was stock still as its eyes crossed, looking at the knife that was now puncturing the middle of its forehead. It moved not an inch, appearing to all the world as if it had become the image that you had seen but moments previously. Tepidly, you raised a hand towards it, wondering if you had killed it.

Before you made contact with the image, its eyes looked back at you. A low, bone-chilling laugh managed to escape its constant grin as its own hand rose to grip the knife's handle. With one smooth thrust, it withdrew the blade, metal grinding against the bone in its skull.

Oddly enough, there was no blood that escaped from the wound; no brains that might have spilled forth. There was only an empty black hole that was quickly covered by its skin. "I do so love the modern weapons… Much less of a fuss to my system." Gripping the knife on the blade, the copy squeezed it until it folded in twain, the edge bent into the flat.

Bile began to rise in your throat as you retreated from it as far as you could. "What… What are you?" Whatever this copy was, it couldn't be human. Could it? Nothing made sense about what had just happened.

"Finally, a good question from the box…" Grinning, the copy tossed the knife away, sending it clattering to the floor. "Such disregard for the life of yar fellows. Perhaps ya can be redeemed in the end…" Stepping right up against you, the copy grabbed you by the chin, lifting you just off the ground. "Still, ya had yar chance. I believe I'll be letting the maker explain to ya, since I was sent merely to fetch ya." Laughing once more, it slammed your head into the wall, rattling your brain against your hard skull.

As you slumped to the floor, darkness creeping over your vision, you felt it kneeling by your side. "Night night, human… Have fun with her!" Nothing more was to be heard as you slipped into the void of unconsciousness, the creature's cackle echoing as your mind faded to black.

------------

Soft and crisp scents flooded your nostrils as your eyes slowly began to creak open. Wincing at the light and the pain on the back of your head, you immediately shut them, covering both with one hand as you braced yourself on the ground. Instead of meeting purchase with hard plastic or carpet, your hand pushed its way through paper until reaching the cold metal floor below.

"What the hell just happened to me?" Sniffing automatically, you recognized the familiar smell of paper. "That thing… took me somewhere? But where…" While you ask questions that have no answer, your stomach suddenly growls in protest. Forcing the thoughts out of your mind, you eventually manage to sit up.

However, you cannot keep your mind clear for long. Once more your stomach gurgles, while at the same time you clench your head in pain. It is remarkably hard to think in the condition you are in, but you still try your best to do so.

[ ] You have to check where you are. Fight through the pain.
[ ] So hungry… Have to eat something. But what?
[ ] No… Just go to sleep. Maybe a good rest will make it all feel better.
>>No. 26238
[x] You have to check where you are. Fight through the pain.

Food be damned, where are we?
>>No. 26242
[X] You have to check where you are. Fight through the pain. Maybe you'll find food on the way, but you have a feeling that that was not a dream. You have the pain of the blow, and have been taken somewhere.
>>No. 26243
[x] You have to check where you are. Fight through the pain

In retrospect, asking who the copy was from the get go probably would have save us a lot of pain.
>>No. 26244
File 135235505766.jpg - (69.71KB, 600x600, tweet.jpg) [iqdb]
26244
[c] You have to check where you are. Fight through the pain.

------------

This is no time to dally. While pain like this may be a stranger to you, it's something that can be pushed aside. Even the many demands that your body is asking are forced away, as there is only one urgent question that needs to be answered. Where are you?

Of course, a moment later you think of another question. What the hell is going on? You can't help but let a small chuckle slip past your lips. In a much better mood, you manage to climb to your feet, wobbling shakily on the paper underfoot. At least you're not as poorly off as you thought you were, if you're making jokes this whole time. You'd like to hope so, at the least.

Still, that didn't help the most pressing problem that plagues you. Pain still shoots through your eyes as you try to open them up, forcing you to close them once more. So, you still covered it with your one hand, using the other to feel out what may be around you.

Eventually, your hand was able to find purchase. Grasping a metal bar, you use it to prop yourself up as you slowly open your eyes, letting them become adjusted to the light. As you do, though, you can't help but wonder at how hard you hit your head.

From what you can tell, you've been placed inside some kind of giant brass cage. Paper lines the floor of it, crumpled up from left over sacks and news script. Nothing seems too out of the ordinary at first glance, but you can't help but wonder why someone would build such a large cage for one person.

However, you spot something in the middle of the cage that raises your eyebrows. What seems to be a flat-topped arch of some sort is standing there, heads above you as far as you can tell. Most odd is that the top of the arch is made of wood, not brass. Not to mention that there are two sets of scratch marks, as if a giant bird routinely perched there.

"Wait a moment." Your eyes begin to frantically look around as suspicions rise in your head. "Why would there be a perch here?" As you turn your head to the side, you notice two large tubs at least four feet across. Giving both a closer look, you notice that one is full of water, while the other one is full of seeds. Seeds that are as large as your head.

"Am I… Am I in some sort of birdcage?" Shaking your head at the madness of it all, you still can't deny what it is. "For all intents and purposes… That's what it looks like. Even if there is no door." Granted, that just brings more questions than answers. Most of which involve who would be insane enough to build a giant cage like this, only to stick a person into it.

Finally aware of what your surroundings were, you turned your head towards the outside of the cage to see where you were being held. "If I'm on some sort of giant table, or hanging from an oversized hook…" Well, you'd do nothing. The implied threats always felt nice to make, though.

However, you were incorrect in your suppositions. There was no hook or crook that was holding the cage in the air, nor was there anything that your cage sat on. As far as you could tell, there was nothing beyond the cage but inky-black emptiness.

Pressing your head against the cage's bars, you keep trying to look. "Probably just a trick of the light. It's just one small room, and I'm being utterly confused by how massive this cage is supposed to be. I just need to be logical." You could try to test to see if what you saw was real or just an elaborate illusion. The majority of it, at least. The bars were real, after all.

As you began to speculate, your eyes trailed over to the dish of giant seeds.

[ ] Ignore the seeds. Call out for someone. Surely they'll hear.
[ ] Use the seeds. Throw them out of the cage. Find out easily what this place is.
[ ] Eat the seeds. You're hungry, after all. Can't plan escape on an empty stomach, after all.
[ ] Make the seeds into a pillow. Still so tired. Just a little nap wouldn't hurt…
[ ] Mandatory Write-in Option

------------

>>26243
For the most part, true.
>>No. 26245
[X] Take a bite of one, and if you don't like them, throw it into the darkness. If you do like it, take a particularly small one, and throw it, while still eating the first. Although, as hungry as you are, it's likely that you could eat most anything.
>>No. 26246
[x] Use the seeds. Throw them out of the cage. Find out easily what this place is.
>>No. 26247
[x] Use the seeds. Throw them out of the cage. Find out easily what this place is.
[x] Drop one seed out each of the four cardinal direactions as best you can, and then throw one out in each of the eight directions on the compass rose. We'll get a good bearing, at least.
[x] Listen carefully to check for bottomless pits!

We're a man, not a bird. First,
>>No. 26248
[X] Wait. No, wait just one moment. If I'm in a giant bird cage, and all around me is blackness... where the hell is the light coming from?
>>No. 26250
[d] Use the seeds. Throw them out of the cage. Find out easily what this place is.

------------

First things first. Walking forward, feet slipping and sliding along the bottom of the cage as you do so, you make your way to the giant dish that was full of seeds. Using the bars of the cage to keep you upright, you eventually make it to the enormous pan.

Peering inside, you take a closer look at the seeds. The black seeds covered with long white stripes are recognizable to you as sunflower seeds from the time you played baseball when you were much younger. However, as you initially thought, the seeds themselves were quite enormous. You had to reach in with both of your hands to pick one up and hold it in front of you.

While not quite the weight of a gourd, it was still heavy enough to make you check your footing. Taking a closer look at it, you try and see if there is anything special about it, aside from its size. Twisting and turning it in your hands, you do your best to crack it open, failing for the most part.

Eventually, though, your efforts do pay off. With a single snap, the seed split into two sides, letting you peer at the meat within. Or at least, you would if you could bother to ignore the scent of the seed, now that it was open.

While not particularly strong, the smell flooded your nostrils, nearly making you go heady as you took it in. At the scent of food, your stomach rumbled loudly, nearly making you dig a hand in for some of the meat. "No… No. I've got work to do. That can wait."

Oh so slowly, you resisted the impulse, turning back to look at the cage. "If I'm in a room, all I need to do is toss this out. At least I can figure out how big it is…" Even if it was a useless strategy, what more could you do at this point? With no door, you couldn't jimmy the latch open. The bars on the cage were barely small enough to get your hands through, so the possibility of bending them open to escape was slim.

"At worst, what will they get mad at me for? Littering in their hideout?" Smiling momentarily at the passing mirth, you continue to split the seed until it is slim enough to pass easily through the bars. Grabbing one end of it, you pulled your arm back and launched it outside of the cage.

Well, you attempted to, at least. The first throw spun horizontally, immediately hitting the bars and falling to the floor of the cage. Ears turning red, glad that it appeared that no one saw that, you reached down to pick the shell up once more. "Let's try that again, and hopefully I'll remember how to throw."

By the third time, you finally met success. The shell turning end over end, it slipped through the bars and began sailing out of the cage. "…Why isn't it hitting anything?" You stare in amazement as it continues flying, going forward fifty feet by the time it reaches the apex of its arc. The shell then begins to fall, going below your hands before continue down. You stare in disbelief as it drops out of sight, never hitting a floor or a wall the entire time.

"That can't be right…" You grab another piece of the shell, before holding it over the edge of the cage and letting it fall. That one also descends until you can see it no more, the shell becoming one with the darkness. "How can that be?"

With no answers in sight, and your curiosity piqued, you begin to collect more pieces of sunflower seeds, gathering them under you arm. Grabbing the edge of the cage, you begin to make your way around in order to test if this was true in as many cases as you can tell. But before you can rear back and throw the next shell, you hear the air move above you.

Before you can look up, you feel something long and hard impact the back of your head. "Gyah! What the hell was that?" Covering the back of your head as you cry out in pain, you look around for the offending object. Behind you, lying separate from the bundle of shells you had carried with you, was another of the shells. "That's… Didn't I just throw that one?"

As your mind processed what had just happened, you heard the same movement in the air. Tumbling to the side, you fell once more on your rear as you dodged out of the way of another falling shell. "Who the hell is throwing these back at me?" You look up at the top of the cage as you ask yet another rhetorical question. There is nobody, or for that matter nothing, that could have thrown the shell at you.

"What madness is this? It fell forever into darkness…" You begin to tremble as you consider the implications. "I thought it was just painted to look that black. But is there simply nothing to reflect the light…" In your state of mind, you do not even bother to think of where the light could be coming from, as there were no flames that could be seen casting rays in the cage.

Abandoning all intentions to throw more seeds, you don't even bother to rise again. "This has to be a dream… Yes, I hit my head too hard. That's it. It has to be a dream…"


[ ] It's a dream. Relax… You'll wake up soon.
[ ] It's an illusion. They're trying to drive me mad!
[ ] It's real. By all that could be holy…

&

[ ] Just close your eyes and rest. Nothing that can be done.
[ ] Go and have something to eat. Maybe that will calm you down.
[ ] Don't stop. Keep trying to get out. Perhaps that will lead to success.

------------

Again, I plan on updating again today or tonight. The sooner I have enough to work with, the sooner I can get started.
>>No. 26254
[X] It's an illusion. They're trying to drive me mad!

Obviously something like this cannot be real. But since an illusion of this scope and verisimilitude can't possibly be easy to set up and you're not about to give them the satisfaction of actually going mad...

[X] It's real. By all that could be holy…

Might as well treat it as though it was real. Someone is apparently going great lengths to make you think so, anyway. Even if it is an illusion, you're still stuck in it.

[X] Go and have something to eat. Maybe that will calm you down.
You're hungry, and if whoever stuck you here wanted to harm you somehow it would have been easy enough to do so earlier. Might as well make the best of it for now and refuse them the satisfaction of seeing you freak out.
>>No. 26255
[x] It's an illusion. They're trying to drive me mad!
[x] Go and have something to eat. Maybe that will calm you down.
>>No. 26256
If the shells are not making sounds when dropped, and shells are falling from above, then there are two possibilities:

a) Someone or something is catching the shells, soundlessly, and dropping them in from above.
b) Space is curved, and whatever we toss is coming down from up top.
c) There is, conveniently, a loose pile of shells somewhere above us that things are dropping from.

In all cases, we're more or less incapable of doing anything for it just yet. However, we're hungry, and everything we're telling us is that this is a real thing. Don't let panic delude our better judgment. We should probably not eat the seeds, just because we don't know if they're tainted or not. So for now---

[x] It's real. Even if we don't know how it works yet. Rule of Adamsian Space Travel: Don't Panic

[x] Relax for now. There might not anything to be done at the moment, so it's best to conserve energy.

[x] Test the dream-reality theory. Slap yourself.
>>No. 26257
[X] It's real. By all that could be holy…
[X] Go and have something to eat. Maybe that will calm you down.
>>No. 26258
File 135241172841.png - (720.74KB, 671x677, yummy yummy.png) [iqdb]
26258
[e] It's real.
&
[e] Go and have something to eat. Maybe that will calm you down.

------------

As much as you want to deny the events before you, your worries cannot be stopped. "There is no way that this can be real… Yet, I… I can't think of any other explanation." It could not be the simple illusion that you presumed it originally. This isn't just a setup in some sort of warehouse, where you were being held for ransom or something. Like anyone would ever take you for ransom.

"Could I be dreaming, though?" That is the option that you prefer the most, but there is too much evidence stacked against it. Everything is too sharp, too clear. At the same time, there is nothing happening. Everything is so still and so quiet. Not to mention that the whole time you have been here, your head has been throbbing something nasty.

Your eyes turn down to your hand as you continue to think. "Well, there is one way to test it. Just need to pinch myself. You don't hurt in dreams, right?" Automatically, you raise your hand as if to pinch your cheek. As you do, though, your body decides to go through a much more thorough check, and instead slaps your palm against the side of your face.

Barely keeping yourself on your feet from the force of the blow, you stare at your hand as your head pounds even louder. "Did… Did I do that? Or did something else…" Shaking loose the thoughts that threatened your sanity once more, you sighed and waited for the pounding to go down. "At least it's no dream. This has to be real."

After resting for a few minutes, you make your way back over to the edge of your cage. "So, if this is real, am I in space?" Reaching your hand out through the cage, you wave it around, stirring up the still air. "Then why is there air here? None of this makes logical sense."

Your eyes continue to scan outside the cage for a few seconds, studying everything that you can see. Considering that means you're looking at brass bars, it doesn't take long for your efforts to be fruitless. Sighing, you turn back around, your gaze falling upon the food bowls.

"Would it… would it hurt to have just a bit? I am feeling quite hungry. As demeaning as it is to eat bird food…" Well, your stomach had greater protests than your ego. Shrugging away the problems lingering on your mind, you once more cling to the cage as you make your way around towards the two dishes.

When you get there, you spy the one seed you had already broken in two. The scent isn't quite as strong is before, but it seems to pervade the air. Your mouth begins to water as you bend down to pick up the seed. "Just a little bit of the meat should be good enough. Enough to sate my hunger."

As you speak, your hand digs into the giant seed, scooping out the flesh. Raising your hand up to your mouth, you suck down the seed as it clings to the side of your mouth. Automatically, your hand begins to dip again and again into the husk of the seed as you continue to eat it, devouring the seed faster and faster with every bite.

In the midst of your impromptu feast, your ears begin to burn, adding to the pounding in your head. At the same time, your fingers begin to itch as they scratch against the bottom of the husk, every single one of them beginning to bleed from the fingernails. The sunflower seed begins to stain red as you scoop more of the seed out, but you don't care. All you care about is to consume as much as is possible.

Eventually, though, the seed runs out of food for you to eat. Tossing it to the side, you wipe the mess from your mouth with your bloody hands, before turning back to the bowl. "More seeds… Still so hungry… Hungrier than before." The hole in your stomach had not been filled by the consumption. Instead, it seemed to have become larger, more insistent. What with the pain in your head, it now was becoming hard to think, and you automatically took a step towards the remainder of the seeds.

[ ] Eat all of the delicious seeds.
[ ] Eat some of the scrumptious seeds.
[ ] Eat one of the luscious seeds.
[ ] Get… Get… Away…

------------

Maybe time for one more today, and maybe not. We shall see.
>>No. 26259
[X] Eat all of- No... Get… Get… Away…
>>No. 26260
[X] Eat all of- No... Get… Get… Away…

We're not a bird! /OR/ a hamster!
>>No. 26262
[f] Eat all of- No… Get… Get… Away…

------------

"N-no…" Slowly, you force yourself back, each step an excruciating exercise as you retreat from the bowl. "Want to… eat it… all. But it's… hurting me?" Tearing your eyes away from the bowl, you look down at your hands, your eyes widening in shock as you do.

The nails on your hands seem to have already fallen off due to your actions in ripping the seeds apart. Blood runs down your fingers in tiny rivulets, reaching halfway up your arm as the red liquid continues to flow. If you didn't know better, you looked like you had just gutted a wild animal, or another person.

Consciously, you realize that it should be making you sick. There was so much blood pouring from your hands, not to mention the pain. But you felt your subconscious straining dearly to try and take control. It wanted to feed. It wanted more of that delicious food.

As the thought crosses your mind, you nearly have to grab your leg and hold it steady just to keep from running towards the bowl again. "Just need to… Get away from it. Hope I… calm down. Yes, calm down."

Your retreat from the bowl is also hampered by the blood pounding in your ears. You're no stranger to the effect in its simplest form. After all, you've blushed before; you know how it feels. But it's never been so bad that your very ears felt like they were on fire. Not to mention that it was getting worse by the second. As if it wasn't bad enough that your head felt like it was going to burst. At this rate, your ears would soon follow.

Luckily, your conviction is strong enough to break you from the spell of the food, and you find yourself retreating away from it, back towards the perch in the center of the cage. Sucking on your fingers as best you can in an attempt to clear the blood, you do not even realize where you are going until you knock into the brass.

Sighing in relief, you turn around, preparing to sit with your back to the food. However, right there in front of you was the bowl of seeds. "What… How did it…" Looking back, you saw there was a bowl over there, and now a bowl over here. "Is the bowl… Following me?"

As ridiculous as the concept is, you cannot laugh now. You truly believe that a roughly hewn wooden bowl has decided to follow you around. You do your best to back away as quickly as possible, but the moment that you do so, you find yourself backing into the bowl yet again. "Gah! Stop following me! Stop following…"

Your voice trails off as you see two bowls now surrounding you. "Multiplying? How can bowls breed?" By this point your mind had receded to its flight or fight impulses and you had begun to run, trying to put as much distance between you and the bowls of seeds.

However, everywhere you looked there were more. In front of you. Behind you. To your left, to your right. Even looking up, you found one floating above you. Its delicious bounty began to tip out and smack into your head, pummeling the tender spot.

Slowly, you curled into a fetal position as all the bowls began to pour on top of you, covering you in a veritable shower of seeds. Deeper and deeper you were covered, until you could not see anything else. All that existed were you and the delicacy you were trying so hard to avoid.

A delicacy that, the moment you managed to recover from the maddening downpour, you tore into with relish.

------------

Slowly, you regained consciousness, having finished with your assault on the sunflower seeds. You slowly shake your head, trying to clear the cobwebs from your mind as you open your eyes. Instead of seeing the sheen of brass above you, instead there is gray stone, dimly lit by a flickering torch.

Realizing that you're not in the cage any more, you force yourself up. Ignoring an odd pulling on your back, you push yourself so that you are sitting up. "Where is that torch… I can't… Ah." Finally, you notice that the shifting light is coming through bars on the door. "Wait, bars? Looks like I'm still imprisoned. But why move me now?"

Banishing that thought, you rub your hand over the floor. "Straw… Rather rough. I'm amazed I can see it in this light." As you continue to feel the surface of the floor, you frown at the dimpled texture. Is this some sort of natural cave? But it has a quite normal door, even if it has bars. A contradiction in and of itself."

Giving up on the questions for now, you frown as you feel your hair tickling behind your ear. Raising a hand idly to scratch it, you easily brush the hair away, only to find something wrong.

One, you should not cut the skin so easily, considering that you just lost your nails in what felt like minutes before. Two, you no longer had any sort of ear to speak of.

[ ] You are sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.
[ ] No ear… Did they cut it off? What else did they take from you?
[ ] Panic!
[ ] Anemia option
>>No. 26263
[X] You feel faint, your ears are gone, and you feel a chill. You're obviously bleeding pretty badly from tearing open all those seeds, but you panic regardless of this, or maybe due to this. Panic at the loss of your ears, before losing concious due to anemia.
>>No. 26264
[x] No ear… Did they cut it off? What else did they take from you?

Firstly, know your mind. Secondly, know your body. After this, you can examine your surroundings.
>>No. 26265
[X] You are sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.
-[X] No ear… Did they cut it off? What else did they take from you?
>>No. 26266
[X] You are sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.
-[x] So, either this is a dream, or the cage was a dream, or both are dreams, or both are real, anyway your ear might be gone, so check carefully your body starting by your hands, discover the new "rules" of this reality.
>>No. 26267
File 135246139711.png - (416.36KB, 572x752, someone comes.png) [iqdb]
26267
[g] You are sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.
-[g] No ear… Did they cut it off? What else did they take from you?

------------

Biting your lip, you refuse to panic. You are not going to let them have the satisfaction of seeing you go mad. So what if they took your ear? Not to mention what else must have been done to you. Instead, you slowly breathe in and out, calming yourself as best you can.

You also ignore the painful fact that your lip is now bleeding. Wiping the blood from your mouth, you begin to feel around your ear, trying to see what had been done to it. As you do, you notice that you can't quite feel very well. Your fingertips seem to be much duller, unable to feel quite as much as they should. Putting aside your concern for your ears, you take a closer look at your hands instead.

Again, you have to bite your lip in order to hold down the shriek of panic. These are not your hands. Attached to your body they may be, but these wicked projections are not yours. Each finger was just longer and thicker than your old ones, even attached to the spindly limbs that you call arms. That alone wasn't bad enough.

On the end of each of your fingers was a claw. Short and black, there was no light that reflected against their hard surfaces. You do your best to tamp down the fear that was coursing through your body at the sight. "Surgery or something? Some manner of witc-" You immediately stop. "No. No. That would just be silly. Completely and utterly silly." As you stare at the claws on the end of your fingers, though, your mind can't help but to consider the option.

"Still… I can't feel with my fingers anymore. What should I use instead?" Staring at your fingers, you eventually turn your hand about and begin to feel your ears with the backside of the hand. It is just as sensitive as your fingers now were, but at least there was less of a chance of slicing your head open in the process.

Now that you were paying closer attention, you noticed something odd about your ear, or lack thereof. There was nothing to indicate it had ever been there. No scar, no ridge, not even surgical tape or stitches to hold the skin together. It was as if your ear had completely vanished, leaving behind a hole in your head.

Checking the other side, you noticed that it had disappeared as well. "Well, at least I don't look like some sort of damn Picasso, do I?" Considering that you had no mirror available in the cell, you couldn't quite confirm it. However, at least everything you had checked seemed to be even.

Your eyes suddenly widen. "What else could have been taken?" Head turning down, you start patting down every inch of your body, trying to see if there had been any other changes.

Fortunately, there seems to have been no major differences from your hurried inspections. Your torso, legs and feet seem to be the same. Although, you do notice that your feet feel much tighter in your shoes than they normally do. But nothing seems to be amiss. "At least the ones that chopped off my ears didn't bother to do the same to my balls." Not as if you ever used them, but the thought of being emasculated was not a happy one by far.

All this time, you were still bothered by the twitching in your shirt. It was as if something alive was on your back, trying its best to get out. However, you could not turn your head around to inspect it. Trepidation brimming in your heart, you begin to remove your shirt in order to check it.

Or at least you would have, if someone had not chosen that particular moment to arrive.

"Oh? How interesting. I hadn't expected my new pet to be so interested in shedding his raiments." Peering at you from behind the bars to your door, the stranger grinned faintly in the light. "I hadn't imagined that you were that far gone yet…"

Immediately desisting in your activities, you squinted at the intruder. From the sound of her voice, you could tell it was a girl… But that was all. It was too dim to make out any of her features. "Who are you? What am I doing here?"

The figure merely chuckled. "Getting ahead of ourselves, aren't we? Shouldn't you introduce yourself to the lady of the house first? Or have manners really degraded so far out there?"

A snort of derision passing your lips while you continue to glare at the figure. "Really, now? You kidnap me, and you expect me to be courteous?"

"Why, of course!" Doffing her hat, the figure held it in front of her. "But I would never, ever be so crude as to kidnap you as if it were a lark." She began to rap her knuckles on the cell door in order to emphasize her point. "It was a much more drawn out process. I had to find something nice and malleable to be my pet. And you proved perfect."

You do your best to ignore the urge to wrap your claws about the girl's neck, merely snarling instead. "I am no pet."

The girl merely tilted her head. "Are you, now? You might as well be. You barely had any life beforehand, so dull and dreary… I can give you something much more." Before you could reply, she grinned again. "But that's what I like about you, pet. You've got just enough fire to keep things interesting, but you know when to bow before your betters."

Seeing as you're not getting anything but platitudes and insults, you drop into silence, thinking about your next move. Before you can consider it, though, you hear the tumblers in the lock turning over. The door opens wide, revealing the other side of the hall. From up a nearby corridor, the girl's singsong voice flows down. "Do come along, pet! I've got to introduce you to everyone else… Yes yes. They'll be delighted in having another join them."

[ ] Leave the cell, but look for a way to escape. No way you're following her.
[ ] Chase after the girl and wring her neck. She's the one responsible. She will give you answers.
[ ] Follow after her. What a good, obedient pet that you are.
>>No. 26268
[X] She doesn't seem too concerned about anything you could do to her. Follow after her, but at a leisurely pace, such that you have time to question her.
-[X] And while you're at it, check what it is that's on your back.
>>No. 26269
[X] She doesn't seem too concerned about anything you could do to her. Follow after her, but at a leisurely pace, such that you have time to question her. And look for an exit.
-[X] And while you're at it, check what it is that's on your back.
>>No. 26270
[x] Leave the cell, but look for a way to escape. No way you're following her.
>>No. 26271
[h] She doesn't seem to concerned about anything you could do to her. Follow after her, but at a leisurely pace, such that you have time to question her.
-[h] And while you're at it, check what it is that's on your back.

------------

Does she really think that you'll willingly submit yourself to her whims? Apparently she does, as she is not waiting for you. Instead, she has vanished and left you be in that cell that you had woken up in, not having a care in the world. Well, if she thinks that you will follow along like an obedient puppy, she has another thing coming.

After another glance down at your hands, though, you realize that there may be something that you're missing. Would you really be allowed to get away with whatever you want? "I should probably at least attempt to follow her… No need to be like a dog and wait at her heels." You really wonder if you are mentally well, as you keep on talking to yourself when there is no one around. Shrugging off the thought, you exit the cell, and begin to follow the sound of her voice.

Leisurely strolling in the vague direction that you think she is calling from, you can't help but to stare at the walls as you travel along. The hall, if it could be called that, was roughly hewn from stone, resembling a cave more than anything. Your claws run along the round walls, leaving a trail of scratches as you continue along.

The oddest thing, though, is that it doesn't appear to be ancient. There are no wide, vast expanses, nor are there trails of water from which the caverns could have been carved. If you didn't know better, you appeared to be in a burrow of some kind.

"What kind of animal could be large enough to carve this out, though?" Fearing the answer to the question, you continued along the corridor as it twists and turns upon itself. "Seems like whatever it was wasn't trying to be efficient." Granted, you wonder if any burrowing animal would ever bother with such a thing as efficiency.

Scoffing at the concept, you suddenly halt as you come to a split in the path. Glancing back and forth, you begin to wonder which way the girl had gone. By now her voice had faded, leaving you with no guide.

"Wait a moment. If she's gone, then I can check…" Reaching around with your hand, you raised your shirt high enough so that you could slip it up your back. The quivering had been continuing the entire time, although you had shoved it to the side considering you had larger problems. But now that you had a moment, you decided to check.

Your claws climbed up your back, causing you to wince as they dug in enough to make blood begin to leak. Before you became too distracted with your life fluid draining away, your hands met something rather incredible. Something that left you incredulous.

An odd protrusion, which was attached to hard bone and muscle. "Scratch that. Lots of protrusions. If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were…" Trailing off, you did you best to pinch your fingers together in an attempt to grab one of them. However, your claws were not particularly well suited for such an activity, and you immediately failed.

"That can't be right though. One long stem with what feels like bristles?" You head begins to shake as you take it all in. "That can't be right." Your mind snaps back to where you were held hostage earlier. "Kept in a bird cage, then fed the seeds. And suddenly I am losing ears and growing claws and… feathers?" Whatever was caught in your back suddenly wriggled as you froze in place. "Oh no, don't tell me…"

Mind blanking, you glance between the hallways. "Must get out of here. This girl is mad, trying to make me fill some sick—" As you look the third time, the girl is suddenly standing there, the same grin from on her face. "—Dream…"

Now that you take a closer look at her, she doesn't quite look like a girl. There are plenty of things that suggest otherwise. But just because one favors pants and a man's hat doesn't mean that they're a man. You are still just as frightened as she steps closer, regarding you with that smile. "Why are you being so slow, pet? Can't you keep up?"

Tilting her head to the side, she begins to stroke her chin. "The Fetch I sent did mention that you were quite messed up… Quite indeed. Something about a music box being broken?" At your dumb look, she suddenly nodded. "Oh, yes, yes. I like to break my toys, but I hate it when they come pre-broken. We shall have to fix that. Yes we shall."

Finally, you find your voice again. "Are you insane? What are you talking about?"

"Oh nothing to worry about. Even if you weren't a stupid pet, I wouldn't tell you. After all, I like surprises. Don't you?" Suddenly, she held up her hand, shushing you. "Wait, don't say. You'll spoil the surprise of me finding out!"

"Right…" With another sigh, you shake your head. "Will you at least answer one of my questions? At least let me know something."

Grinning again, the girl vanished from in front of you, before appearing by your side. "If I must, little pet. I know you'll be so insistent lest I agree. So, what is your question?"

[ ] What is your question?

------------

You only get one, so make it count.

Also, I will say don't be afraid of bad ends. Sometimes a choice that might seem to be asking for one will not be a bad end, while the exact opposite will be true.

Just to let you know, following would have taken you down the right path, while trying to get away would have taken you down the left.
>>No. 26272
[X] What is happening to me?
>>No. 26273
Hmm. Just giving us one question does put us on the spot, doesn't it? In his current state, MC is likely to ask things like:
>Where am I?
>Who are you?
>What did you do to me?
but those are ultimately unhelpful. To properly decide on his course of action from here on in, all I can think of now is:
[X] "What are you planning to do with me from now on?"
>>No. 26274
[X] "What are you planning to do with me from now on?"

Might as well vote this one, more useful than "Who the hell are you?"
>>No. 26276
[X] Might as well stay and see what this person knows. Maybe they'll be more helpful? Or, at the least, maybe they can tell you your... duties, even if the thought of preforming them makes you feel ill. Not because of the actions, even if they might as well. But instead, because they benefit your captor.
>>No. 26277
[X] >>26276 is fine.
Trying to escape with no plan is just asking for trouble.
>>No. 26278
File 135256959598.png - (480.26KB, 634x742, crazy girl.png) [iqdb]
26278
There were a few questions that came to mind the moment she asked that of you. Most included some variation of who the hell she was, along with where you are and what the hell has happened to you. However, you realize as you consider them that they would not be that useful. The other questions will be answered in time… Best use your chance for a question a crazy person might not answer.

"What are you planning to do with me?"

Not moving from her spot at your side, the girl immediately responds. "Oh, what does one indeed do with a pet? They'd love to have them keep their owner company." She looks up and grins at you. "Would you mind keeping me company, pet?"

Before your brain could process that, she immediately continued to speak. "But there is so much more pets are useful for, yes? Why should I task my little friends to take care of my abode when I have wonderful pets to do whatever I tell them to?"

"Ah, I see." Your eyes harden as you stare at the girl, not that she notices your withering gaze. "You intend to turn me into your slave."

"You already were one, pet." Reaching up, she ruffles your hair. Or, rather, she went through the motions. It felt instead as if she was trying to rip the skin from your scalp. By what had to be divine grace you managed to survive without losing a good portion of your head. "Always toiling, trapped in that drudgery that was your life. I can give you so much more…"

"At least I was free to choose that life of mine. I can't live inside of dreams and fairytales, after all. I had to make do."

The girl shook her head, grinning even wider. "So, you don't believe in magic. This will be fun, pet. This will be fun…" Continuing to stare up at you, she giggled. "I wonder if that will make it harder or easier to break…" As your eyebrows shoot up in alarm, she took off once more. This time, she bothered to clasp your wrist with her hand, giving you no chance to take your time.

As it was, you were nearly sent flying by the girl as she pulled you along. She was easily as strong as that copy of yours, if not stronger. Good thing that you had the sense about you to pick up your feet and run after her. At least that way you're not flailing about on the walls. Too bad that it means you won't have the chance to wring that neck of hers, either.

"What the…" You think back over what had just passed through your mind. "When did I get so bloodthirsty?" Fortunately, the girl doesn't respond, but instead keeps towing you through the tunnels. "It must have just been what she did to me…"

Unfortunately, she herself yielded no answers as she kept leading you along the tunnels, accidentally slamming you into the walls as she took the tight turns way too fast. "Gotta look on the bright side… At least my head isn't hurting anymore."

Eventually, the two of you ended up in front of a wooden door that seemed rather out of place, considering you hadn't seen any other doors yet. Before you could ask, she turned about and answered your question. "I don't have time to introduce you to everyone now, you lollygagging pet! But you're new, so I won't punish you, yet."

Without further ado, she yanked open the door, before tossing you in. "Just get in there and help your fellow pet, now! I'll be back once I know we can have you fixed…" Grinning widely, she slammed the door in your face, leaving you alone in the room.

Well, not quite alone. Once you finally allow yourself to listen and look around the room, you hear the clinking of metal against stone. Turning about, you see a figure in the distance, just far away enough that you can't tell what it looks like. The only thing that is particularly obvious from here is that there are some kinds of projections on the person's back. "Wait, don't tell me that she has them too?"

Continuing to look around the room before deciding to do, you finally realize that you're now in a kitchen of some sort. Nothing looks quite right, though. The pots and pans all seem to be made of stone, while also in odd oblong shapes. Open fires roar in the center of the room, with barely a lip around the pit to keep the flames from escaping and licking at the walls.

Now that you think about it, this must be another of that girl's pets. Who knows what side she is on? But if you're careful, maybe you can attempt to sneak out, now that the crazy girl is busy with something or the other.

[ ] Skedaddle out of there. Even though you're not sure how to get out.
[ ] Might as well stay and see what this person knows. Maybe they'll be more helpful?

------------

Will be around for most of today, so expect 2-3 more posts.
>>No. 26279
File 135256976937.jpg - (97.53KB, 480x673, perhaps an ally?.jpg) [iqdb]
26279
[j] Might as well stay and see what this person knows. Maybe they'll be more helpful? Or, at the least, maybe they can tell you your... duties, even if the thought of preforming them makes you feel ill. Not because of the actions, even if they might as well. But instead, because they benefit your captor.

------------

With a sigh, you begin to walk forward, towards the figure who's standing and clinking together utensils. When you eventually come into view, your eyebrows raise in shock once more. "So that was true… But, can that be real?"

Before your mind allows itself to admit defeat on that topic, you step close enough that it draws the figure's attention. "Who's there? Is that you, Master?" Said figure steps back from the counter, distancing herself from the smoke that was all around. "Doesn't sound right, she'd be of lighter step. If she even bothered to walk—"

The knife in the figure's hand slowly clatters to the floor as she spots you. "No… No! Not another one. Not another." As the figure spoke, wings on her back fluttered up and down in fright. Without any hesitation, what was soon revealed to be a girl ran forward, her hands rising as she did.

"Whoah now!" Holding your hands up, you kept her from grabbing at you. "Wait a second, umm, stranger. What are you doing?"

"I am checking to see how far you have gone." With a quick snap of her hand, she grabbed your own with it. "Held out some length of time…" Turning it back and forth, she traced around the claws with fingernails that looked closer to talons than anything else. "If you had held out longer, you would have been in much greater shape than you are now. Be thankful that you haven't turned further."

"What do you mean by that?" Your eyes traced over every odd feature that the girl had. The feathery ears to the talons to the… To the wings that sprouted from her back. As the word passed through your mind, you felt your back twitch once more. "I can't get a straight answer from anyone about what's going on."

Meeting your eyes, the girl then glanced back and forth before hissing back at you. "You will never get a straight answer from anyone here. Not any of the original inhabitants. Not the youkai."

The strange word fumbles on your tongue as you try to replicate it. "Yokie?" She immediately shook her head. "Youkai… Alright. But what does that mean? Why are we here?"

"We are here because it amuses her." Sighing, the girl clicked her talons together. "She told you that you are to be her pet, yes?" At your nod, she looks away. "That means you will need to do anything that you can to amuse her. At least if you want to survive with your sanity."

"That's… That's…" Well, your mind had adjusted to the prospect already, so you didn't immediately break down. "Well, damn."

"Pretty much." Seeing that you had nothing more to say at the moment, the girl grabbed you by the chin, turning your head back and forth. "As I thought. You are like two of the others in that regard. You've lost your ears."

"I noticed. I thought I had gone insane… I don't remember them being cut off."

"It might have been better if you were insane." Tapping the side of your head, her lips quirked up a bit. "It isn't as if some doctor cut you up, you know. The Master doesn't work like that."

"I wasn't aware that she had a way that she worked." Grumbling, you crossed your arms, looking away. "But what could have changed me like this? There is no way that this is possible… I could see how I could be altered in my hands, and have my ears lopped off…"

The pity in the girl's eyes nearly made you speak once again, before her hand touched your scalp. "The changes are deeper than that. Nothing that a healer could accomplish with knife and needle." Pressing her fingers together, she plucked a hair from your head. "It would have been impossible to have done this, after all."

In front of your face, she holds up the hair for you to see. Or, rather, whatever it was that came from your head. Instead of a single strand of hair, it was a short wispy feather. "…I feel like I'm a broken record. None of this makes sense."

The girl smiled sadly. "Nothing ever will again."

[ ] What exactly has happened to me? …Whoever you are?
[ ] Why has then been done to me? Is there truly no real reason?
[ ] …Should we get started so that she isn't mad? With… Whatever that I am supposed to help you with.
[ ] What about this twitching that's on my back?

------------

Sorry about last post. I just noticed the formatting error. Reuploaded, and I hope that I won't do that again.
>>No. 26280
[X] Well, as I already know what is likely the full extent of the 'why,' how about we ask about this twitching on my back?
>>No. 26281
[X] What exactly has happened to me? …Whoever you are?

It might explain the twitching and it'd give us an idea of what these youkai are capable of.
>>No. 26282
[X] What exactly has happened to me... Miss... how should I address you?
-[X] Nice to meet you, though I wish the circumstances could have been better. Back to my earlier question, what's happened to me? For instance, I have this constant twitching on my back...
>>No. 26283
[k] What exactly has happened to me... Miss... how should I address you?
-[k] Nice to meet you, though I wish the circumstances could have been better. Back to my earlier question, what's happened to me? For instance, I have this constant twitching on my back...

Since this is much closer to the second vote, I'm going to go with this. If anyone has any objections, go ahead and say.

------------

At her words, you sigh. "I think I'm starting to understand that… But there surely is some method to her madness, isn't there?"

The girl's wings flutter behind her, causing you to wince again. "You assume that she is human, and she is using the logic of a human. She is something else… Something more, and less, at the same time."

That certainly isn't a welcome thought. Especially as you had not noticed anything that appeared inhuman about her. …Not that you had a great chance to look, but the point is still valid.

You begin to ask what exactly this other person is, but you stop yourself as your mouth opens. There is a far more pressing question on hand. "If I have feathers on my head and claws on my hands, what is happening to me?" Before she could reply, there was one other thing you needed to add. "Whoever you are… I mean, how should I call you, Miss? That is if you don't prefer Ms…"

Giggling at the flustered look on your face, the girl finally managed to give you a real smile. "This is interesting. It has been a while since I've had someone stuttering when they spake to me." Tilting her head just slightly to the side, she continued. "You should know exactly what it is that you want to ask. Take the extra second and compose yourself before speaking. Better to be thought slow than to be proven a fool."

Still smiling as you sputtered just slightly, she nodded her head. "But I know what it is that you want to know. And I forgive you for not being able to articulate it." Folding her hands one over the other, she gave you a short bow. "My name is Mystia… I had a last name once upon a time, but I no longer use it. There is no need for family names when there is no family to speak of."

"Right…" You weren't quite aware of what was creepier. The utter resignation in her voice as she said that, or the smile that she managed to maintain. "It's… It's good to meet you. I wish that it wouldn't have to be under these… circumstances." You can't help but to blush as you stumble over your words. Somehow you get the feeling that it is even worse, as your blood has no ears to run into.

Again the girl laughed, her voice taking on a nearly musical tone. "Trust me, you're not the only one that wishes such a thing." Slowly losing the smile, she waves the talons on, beckoning you back towards where she had been working. "As to your question, there is the simple answer and the hard answer."

"Seeing as I can't understand anything so far… Try me with the first option."

Mystia nods, turning back towards you once she reaches her station. "Very well. You have been turned into a bird." Tilting her head, she eventually shrugs. "But I suppose that is not enough for you, is it?"

Slowly, you shake your head. "No, I'm afraid it is not."

Sighing, the girl's ears twitch noticeably. "Then I am afraid I cannot satisfy you, as there is little more that I do truly know." Glancing away, Mystia begins to explain. "There is something about this realm… Something about her that makes it so you are transformed into the form of a bird."

Placing her hand on her own chest, talons gleaming in the firelight, the girl continues to explain. "I was given the… gift of becoming as a sparrow. There are others in this den that are like me. An ibis, a crow, and a raven."

"There are others?" Glancing around, you try to peer around the kitchen, looking for others that might be there. "Why aren't they here?"

"You speak as if they are mentally or physically fit for the strenuous act of cooking." Grumbling loudly, Mystia took up her knife once again. "But that can be explained later. All that should matter to you is that you are turning into some kind of bird, just the same as we did. I know not what type you are becoming, but it will become apparent sooner or later."

Well, you suppose it certainly could be worse. Although, you can't remember the last time that a bird had claws like you did. "Wait a moment. If I'm turning into… into that…" Seeing that Mystia was grinning again as she spun the knife in her hand, you took a deep breath before continuing. "You see, I've felt some twitching on my back. Do you know what could be the cause?"

Staring at you for a moment, Mystia eventually grips her knife tightly before stepping about you. "I believe I do, actually. Although I'm surprised you haven't realized it for yourself." Chuckling darkly, she grabs hold of your shirt with one hand, the talons easily piercing through the fabric. "You seem quite insistent to not admit what is before you."

Although you know that you shouldn't worry too much, considering the hospitality she has shown you, you edge away from the knife that is gripped in her hands. "Erm, Mystia, what is it that you're doing?"

Without another word, the girl pulls your shirt towards her, before placing the knife against the fabric. With one swift stroke, she tears a hole in the fabric, before repeating it on the other side. "No worries. Just don't scream if I'm a bit rough."

Before you are able to respond, the girl reaches into your shirt before wrapping her hands around something that is part of you, but at the same time shouldn't be there. Biting your lip, you try to ignore the strange feelings, instead concentrating on the blood now dribbling down your face again.

Reaching down into the other hole, Mystia pulls out another appendage that you shouldn't have. "And that should be it… I'm surprised you weren't able to figure out that you had wings." Patting you on the shoulder, she turns back to her station, flipping the something in the pan before her with the same knife she had used to cut your shirt. "They are bigger than mine when I was at that point. Not by much, though."

Her words are lost to you as you stare at the feather appendages extending from both side of your back. "You've got to be shitting me…" Out of the corner of your eye, you spot her shooting you a dark look, before turning back to her work.

[ ] Wings. Fucking Wings. What next?
[ ] You know, she doesn't seem to appreciate your reaction. Maybe something is wrong?
[ ] Just thank her, apologize, anything to keep her happy. Perhaps you should tell her your name, considering she did share hers.
-[ ] Choose name.
>>No. 26286
[X] She didn't seem to appreciate your reaction. Ask her if something is wrong?
-[X] Realize that your language may have offended her and apologize if that was the case.
--[X] Introduce yourself. It's only polite.
---[X] Ask how you can help her.

Can't think of a good name now. Perhaps another anon could suggest one.
>>No. 26287
[X] She didn't seem to appreciate your reaction. Ask her if something is wrong?
-[X] Realize that your language may have offended her and apologize if that was the case.
--[X] Introduce yourself. It's only polite.
**[X] Name: Lucas Adler
---[X] Ask how you can help her.

I can't resist that name. Not even a bit.
>>No. 26288
[X] She didn't seem to appreciate your reaction. Ask her if something is wrong?
-[X] Realize that your language may have offended her and apologize if that was the case.
--[X] Introduce yourself. It's only polite.
---[X] Ask how you can help her.
>>No. 26289
[x] Wings. Cursed wings. What next?
>>No. 26290
[l] She didn't seem to appreciate your reaction. Ask her if something is wrong?
-[l] Realize that your language may have offended her and apologize if that was the case.
--[l] Introduce yourself. It's only polite.
**[l] Name: Lucas Adler
---[l] Ask how you can help her.

------------

Well, looks like you went and offended the only person who could even be called halfway normal in this place. You hardly needed to think that you would rather not do such a thing. So, you immediately desist in staring at your wings, looking instead at the grumpy… part-bird? Is she one of them, too? What was the strange word… Bah, it'll come to you.

"Hey… Mystia? Are you alright?" The girl doesn't react at first, although you note that her hands are not busy doing anything, instead resting on the counter. "I should apologize if I'm out of line. I didn't even think…"

"No, you didn't." The girl flapped her wings once, before glancing back at you. "I suppose you have enough of a right to succumb to such language, though. It isn't as if one is transformed so completely every day." Sighing, she looked down, sweeping an invisible crumb off of her shirt as she did so. "Not to mention I still sometimes think of myself as being back at home… Where a stranger would never even think of cursing in front of me."

"Right." Well, sounds like she had an interesting background… Not that you're making it work any better. At least your long time without much social contact was weakened your ability to regulate your speech. Just another thing to work on. "Sorry. I just needed to make sure."

As she turned back, you spoke up once again, even surprising yourself. "Is there anything you need me to do? If just to help a little?"

Frowning, Mystia looked back at her own work. "No, you can't help with that…" Her eyes turned back across the room, towards a small chest. "Go and fetch me some nectar and some liquor. I'll need to concoct an appropriate drink for her soon…"

"Right. I'll get on that immediately." Cringing at your choice of words, you turn away, preparing to look about for the box where that liquid may be stored. Before you go too far, though, you look back at Mystia. "By the way… The names Lucas. Just thought you should know, since, you know…" Words failing you once again, you scurry off and begin to search through the cabinets for your objective.

------------

Fortunately, whatever Mystia had been cooking did not take much longer, before she slid what must have been an absolutely enormous few slabs of meat onto a pan. Balancing the offered nectar/liquor combination on the top of the platter, she gives you another sad grin before walking towards a door which you suppose is the entrance to a dining hall. Or it could be the bathroom for all you knew.

However, as she leaves, you realize that now is your chance to escape, or at least explore enough to find out what this place was like. Granted, this would mean risking the wrath of the master of the burrow, or wherever you may be. Granted, she doesn't look like much, but Mystia seems to fear angering her…

[ ] Go on ahead and explore. Try and find out something useful.
[ ] You should go with Mystia. That way this master will know that you did help her, at least a little.
[ ] Follow Mystia, but stay out of the way. Let her presume all she wants.

------------

Oh, and vote whether to confirm the name or not. Since we only had one vote on it, I feel like it would be best. If not, that can just be his embarrassing first name.

Oh, and sorry for the short post. Tired, and not trusting myself to write more.
>>No. 26291
[X] Avarian White

[X] You should go with Mystia. That way this master will know that you did help her, at least a little.
>>No. 26292
[X] Go on ahead and explore. Try and find out something useful.

It's risky but information is important, plus the fact that the "master" plans on "breaking you" intentionally or as a side effect is rather worrying. I'd be trying to find a safe route and planning to escape.
>>No. 26293
[X] Ask Mystia where your other fellow captives are. You'd like to speak with them, if possible.

This constitutes a vote for [X] Explore, incidentally. If we're called out on it, we can say that carrying a tray is hardly a two-man job, and we were told to help out our fellow pets...
>>No. 26294
File 135263577561.png - (413.84KB, 482x682, unsure.png) [iqdb]
26294
[m] Go on ahead and explore. Try and find out something useful.
-[m] Ask Mystia where your other fellow captives are. You'd like to speak with them, if possible.

------------

Your initial gut reaction is to leave Mystia to her duties and take the time to explore the rest of this maze yourself. Before you bother leaving her be, though, you stop yourself. You have no idea where anything in this place is located to begin with. "Mystia! Have you got a second? I wanted to ask something."

Turning back to look at you, the girl cocks an eyebrow. "You did, now? You better make it quick… She won't like it if her food is cold."

Glancing back and forth, you nod before speaking as fast as you can. "Alright, well, I need to know whether the others are. I want to speak to them; maybe we could figure out a way to escape?"

Mystia's eyes cloud over before looking away. "…You wouldn't get any help from the crow. The raven is… Well, best to be seen. And the ibis isn't in a state to help herself, at the moment." Sighing, she continues forward. "Besides, the Master may not be sane, but she's not dumb, either. Though there are many entrances to her home, majority lead into her… well, throne room might be the best way to put it. And the throne room connects directly to the dining hall."

"…Why would she design it in such a way?" Granted, having everything connected to the throne room made sense, but otherwise…

"She's had to deal with the others of her kind. It's too tempting to sneak in an intruder during mealtimes…" Gulping, she glances away. "It is also tempting to try and escape while she is preoccupied. …There is a reason there is only one crow anymore."

Gritting your teeth, you shake your head. "Lovely… Well, is there anything that might help outside of here? Someone else that might be in the cages?"

Placing her hand on the door handle, Mystia glances back one last time. "The reason I was so surprised that you showed up is that you're the first one to survive the process in ten years. At least, that's what it's felt like to me." Biting her teeth, she looks back at the door. "I will do my… do my best to distract her for a little while, if you truly wish to look. Perhaps you will find something that I have not."

[ ] Yes, please.
[ ] …Never mind. Thank you for the offer.

&

[ ] Lucas Adler
[ ] Avarian White
[ ] Other

------------

Only getting this because you bothered to ask where the others might be. As for the name, I'd like a consensus. If we have a tie, I'll be picking Lucas, since that was the first one offered.
>>No. 26295
[X] ...Never mind. Thank you for the offer. I'll face her with you.
IC, she's only been helpful to us, and she seems absolutely terrified right now, so we should lend her our support, meager though it may be.
OOC, by having her give us the option to walk away, and yet choosing to stand beside her, we insinuate ourselves into her good graces and have her more willing to help us in future, not having had the deterrent of punishment from acting out of line this time.

Anyway, we can likely ask our captor ourselves if we can meet the others more legitimately. Whimsical as she is, she doesn't seem likely to forbid it (if we phrase the request properly).

[X] Lucas is fine. Avarian seems too punny for me.
>>No. 26296
[x] …Never mind. Thank you for the offer.
[x] Lucas Adler

We're probably expected to check straight away.
>>No. 26297
File 135264854771.jpg - (22.91KB, 620x415, how can you see?.jpg) [iqdb]
26297
[n] …Never mind. Thank you for the offer.

------------

The offer is tempting, you'll admit. If she covered for you, there's no telling how much time you'll have to look around. Then again… She's said herself that she has searched for a way out. And she never said how long she has been here.

With a sigh, you shake your head. "Never mind, then. Thanks for offering to help me. But I'll go with you, instead."

The girl's shoulders fall in relief, nearly causing her to lose hold of the tray. "…Thank you. If she was expecting you, and you didn't come…" Biting her lips, she looked pointedly at the door. "Well, I don't think that it would have ended well."

Was this master of hers truly that bad? The girl seemed crazy, to be sure, but was she really something that horrible? "What is it that you need me to do, then?"

Hand gripping the handle just slightly harder, she spake shortly. "Just keep your head down, and don't act out. Also, do not deny her anything. Do what it is that she asks of you. Remember that she likes it when you fight back. But if you do it too much, she'll either get angry, or very happy. You do not want either." With those short words, Mystia finally opens the door before stepping into the room beyond.

Without hesitating too much, you follow through into the room beyond. At first it is hard for you to see what is in the room, but eventually your eyes adjust to the darkness of the room.

Compared to the long but relatively cramped kitchen behind you, the hall before you was cavernous. There were fires lining the wall in braziers, but the light seemed to be unable to reach the middle of the room, nor the recesses of the ceiling above you. In the middle of the room was a large rock platform that was completely flat and waist high.

You notice very little after that when you see two pinpricks of green light glowing before you. After a few more moments, you realize you are staring instead at the face of the crazy girl. Of the master of this burrow.

To the side, you see the form of another. You can't make out too many details, though, as she seems to shun the light. Either that, or the master of the house is glowing with an inner light that the other does not match.

Making a point to stay as close to Mystia as you can, your footsteps echo across the stone below your feet as she flutters forward with the food. Keeping your head bowed slightly, you make an attempt to stay as unnoticeable as possible.

No matter what you do, though, you still feel the eyes of the girl on you.

"Well, I see that the pet has found another…" Her smile blooming on her face, she glanced at her companion. "See how behaved he is already? I haven't even had to do anything. Such a disappointment…"

Gritting your teeth in your mouth, you choose not to reply. Wordlessly, Mystia sets the tray in front of the girl, backing away silently once she had done as much.

The silence drags on for a few seconds as the girl stares at you while you stubbornly refused to look her way. "So, pet, why don't you sit down with us? I'm sure that you are oh so tired, now…"

Now that she mentions it, you indeed were. However, you aren't going to give her the satisfaction of a pleasant response. "I wasn't aware that pets were allowed to sit beside their masters as equals."

A giggle passes the girl's lips as she continues to stare at you, her gaze never wavering. "They aren't. However, I've someone for you to meet. Remember that we've got to get you fixed…"

The figure finally stirs, still not coming out of the shadows. "You are aware that you could simply change it yourself? You need not involve me."

"But of course! However, where is the fun in that?" The girl's grin shifts to her companion. "Are you saying that you do not want what I am offering as pay?" At the silence of the figure, the girl chuckles loudly. "I thought not."

While she spoke, the girl reached down to her food. Taking it up with one hand, she rips off a sizable chunk of meat from the enormous slab before her. As the conversation stalled awkwardly once more, she took a bite. "Pet… What is this?"

Already tense, Mystia suddenly freezes in place. "Your… your evening meal, Master."

The room brightens as the girl looks straight at Mystia, the glow in her eyes now angry. "And how should you prepare my food, pet? Have I not given you clear instructions?"

Her wings flittering too and fro, Mystia's eyes darted about. "Y-you said that you wished it to be w-well done and seared, and to be piping hot?"

The snarl on the girl's face seemed to show that was the wrong answer. "You stupid bird! Don't you remember that was only for days that do not end with y or after the fall equinox?"

Mystia let out a small gasp in realization. "I… I had not checked the time recently. You know how w-we have a hard time k-keeping track with that." Bowing her head, she began to shake. "Please forgive me, Master Wriggle."

The glow that the girl was letting out immediately dims as cool eyes regarded Mystia. "Oh, do not worry pet. I will." Not a second later, the crazy girl's hand grabs something off of her tray and throws it at Mystia.

"Gyeh!" Her hand quickly rising to her shoulder, Mystia did her best to hold back a shout of pain. Blood drips down her shirt from the knife that had punctured her shoulder, while her left arm hangs limply. It barely twitches for a few seconds, before falling still.

You don't know what you did, but you find yourself running towards Mystia before you can even think. Before you even get near her, though, the voice of the master stops you. "Pet." Gulping, you turn back around, looking into the eyes of the monster. "Sit with us. Now,"

Your feet automatically carried you forward even as you still stare at Mystia, who was wrapping her arm with a strip of cloth from her dress. "Do not worry, pet. She will be fine. After all, she has been through much worse."

Snapping at the voice, you look back at the girl and meet her gaze. "What kind of monster are you? What did she do to deserve that?"

"She failed. Simple as that. I am a patient youkai, but I am not that patient." Just as quickly as her mood had come, it was gone once again. "How about you try, and see how horrible it is?" Spearing a rather sizable chunk of meat on what appeared to have been a knife at some point, she held it out to you. "Here, go ahead and try it."

From first glance, you couldn't tell if there was anything wrong with it. As she held it out, parts of the meat fell apart, being too tender to even stay together. But as the scent floods your nostrils, your mouth waters once more. Granted, the last time you ate something, you paid for it dearly. But could you afford to say no when she is here staring at you?

[ ] Take it… She's eating it herself. Just because she's picky doesn't mean it's harmful.
[ ] Don't take it. What's the worse that she can do to you?

------------

>>26295
Manipulating a stranger to get her on his good side, and to act on his behalf? We'll make a youkai out of Lucas yet.
>>No. 26298
[X] Hesitate, but take it. You don't want a knife in the shoulder.
>>No. 26299
[X] Hesitate, but take it. You don't want a knife in the shoulder.

Hopefully we won't sprout additional appendages from eating this.
>>No. 26300
[X] Hesitate, but take it. You don't want a knife in the shoulder.

>>26297
This is why I elected to differentiate between in-character and out-of-character reasoning.
No, of course I'm not a Youkai - whatever would make you think that?
>>No. 26302
[o] Hesitate, but take it. You don't want a knife in the shoulder.

------------

Sweating at the gaze that she has leveled upon you, you slowly reach out, grabbing the metal spear. Sniffing once again, you try to find anything that might be wrong with it. But you can't find anything that smells unusual with it. Nothing in the slightest.

The whole entire time, the girl seems to be staring at you. The grin on her face grows more and more manic as it approaches your mouth, making you wish you had another option at the moment. Your eyes immediately turn to Mystia, who was still holding her hand against her wound.

Turning back towards the girl, if you could even call her that now, you continue to raise the meat to your lips. The moment you try to take a bit, you find your arm locked in a viselike grip.

Turning at the owner of said arm, you find yourself looking at Mystia once more. "Don't you do that to him. Why don't you bother to tell him what it is you're trying to feed him."

Pouting, the girl glances at her pet. "What about it? It is just meat, after all." Wriggle grins widely; indeed, much too widely for it to be anything approaching human. "Besides, I haven't even touched it with a little bit of my magic."

"That's not what I mean, and you know it!" If there was any way that you could describe that girl at this point, it would be to say that she seemed ready to breathe fire. "Tell him what that is!"

"Ohhh." Grinning once again, the girl looks back at you. "So that's what you mean! Why didn't you say so?" Turning towards you, the girl pauses a second while thinking, before shrugging. "Oh, I do forget exactly what you call it. But I do believe that she said that her name was Jane."

"…" You look at the girl, and then back at the meat in your hand. You look at her once more, before glancing back at the meat. "You mean, this is…" Yelping loudly, you toss the stick away, sending it clattering to the floor. "That's a person!? You tried to feed me another human?"

Again, the girl shrugs, completely calm as she faced you apoplectic rage. "You say that like it's a bad thing, pet. Meat is meat, after all. Why should I waste a perfectly good dead body?"

"Because… Because…" You try to shake your head, trying to understand why what appears to be a little girl would even want to eat another person. You can't understand why anyone would want to do such a thing. "What are you? What kind of monster would do such a thing?"

Rising from the table, Wriggle puffed her chest out as she stares at you. "Why, thank you. It's always lovely to get such reactions…" Bowing slightly, she dons a hat she had kept by her side before approaching Mystia. "I am Wriggle Nightbug, if you must know. More importantly, I am now your master. And you are my pet." Grinning widely, she grabs Mystia's injured shoulder before twisting the knife in further. "Just as I am her master, and she is my pet. Although, I believe that I will have to remind her what she gets for defying my will."

You try to rise as well, intending on going over and helping her. However, the bird looks you straight in the eyes before shaking her head. Glancing at her for a few moments longer, you eventually relent as Wriggle takes her away. Still, every single whimper that the girl makes as she is dragged out of the room makes you wince.

"What a waste." Clucking her tongue, the stranger in the darkness stares at the door the two retreated into. "It's a wonder that such a youkai manages to keep a hold on her little corner of this world."

Glancing at the figure, which you can only tell to be a woman by her voice, you sigh. "Are you telling me that this is normal? Eating other people and acting in such a manner?"

"Among her kind of youkai? Yes." You can't help but think that she is studying you from inside the darkness. "Such crude creatures. But then again, she is only a beast."

Not that you can deny that. Not that you ever would want to. Perhaps this one would be willing to help you out.


[ ] Err… Then what are you supposed to be?
[ ] Never mind that. What are you here to do, exactly?
[ ] Even thought it probably isn't the wisest thing to do, should you go after Mystia?

------------

>>26300

Of course, I can understand that. And nothing too much. Just reminded of a certain seventeen year old.
>>No. 26303
[X] Err… Then what are you supposed to be? Say as such in a confused way, without any sense of mocking or the like. Better to not accidentally pick any fights with... with whatever they are.
>>No. 26304
[X] Never mind that. What are you here to do, exactly?

What she is does not really resolve whether or not she's more trouble. She could even be a human, but that won't help us much if she's allied with wriggle.
>>No. 26305
[X] Never mind that. Who are you? and what are you here to do, exactly?

Not too surprising, human meat was to be expected sooner or later.
Not sure if the options are meant to be said to the misterious woman or only the first and the last two are actions.
>>No. 26306
[X] "If you feel that way, then why do you let her go on with it? With all of it? And if you don't mind my asking, just who are you anyway? Why are you here?"
>>No. 26307
File 135273031062.jpg - (352.39KB, 680x680, what could you call this wonderland?.jpg) [iqdb]
26307
[p] Never mind that. What are you here to do, exactly?

------------

"Bah." As much as you would like to argue about whether that was normal, and why she wouldn't even help, you let it go. This woman seems unlikely to respond in any sort of positive manner. She does, however, have a measure of loathing towards the crazy girl. "Pardon me, but what are you doing here, then? If you're not the type to approve of her… activities…"

Shifting in the darkness, the woman looks straight into your eyes, even though you still cannot see them. "As she said, we have reached a deal. I am to fix one of her thralls."

Her quiet voice sends shivers up your spine as you were reminded of that one pertinent fact. "Right. I had forgotten about that. But what are you going to do that that one?"

Silence reigns o'er the cave for a few seconds. After an eternity of waiting, you see the figure moving forward, finally coming into the light.

The woman's eyes were dark, constantly shifting color as her irises swirled about. Unlike the bright glowing eyes of the girl, though, this woman's eyes were dead, devoid of life. "…You were the new one she spake of, are you not? I had supposed as much, but your words have just confirmed it for me."

With whatever that passes for hair on you raising, you try your best to stand your ground, even though your feet are doing their best to run away. "I guess that is what she meant. Does that mean that you're—"

"No." Sniffing, the woman crosses her arms, porcelain skin dark and dull in the light. "I have not all that I desire with me to perform such an act, so you shall earn your reprieve." With those words, she began to walk forward, towards a pair of large doors at the end of the hall. Before she crossed over the threshold, her head spins around, unhindered by the skin on her neck. "I shall return upon the morrow. If you so desire, seek me out before then so that you may hasten the repair. It would be much more preferable to me if I perform the act within my own home. It is much more efficient when I have all supplies on hand."

After a moment, her face shifts slightly. A small smirk grows on her face, nearly unnoticeable in the darkness. "And I do enjoy intelligent conversation on occasion. So, if you manage to retain your mind, beast… Seek out Margatroid." At that, her head snaps back into place before she left, steps hitting the hard rock with mechanical precision.

"Well, that's lovely." Why is it that you have the feeling that you're going to be boned, either way? "But what should I do now, though? That crazy girl is still with Mystia. I should be avoiding her… But, I need to see what it is that she wants. I don't want to get stabbed like Mystia." Not to mention that a not so small part of you wants to check and see if she was ok. Going that far out of the way to help you was unnecessary.

Your own wings twitching back and forth, not that you notice them moving due to the completely alien sensation, you approach the door that the two had left through. The moment you placed your hand on the handle, though, the door flew open, hitting you square in the face.

As you cradle your broken nose, you glare up at the intruder. Her smiling face does nothing for your disposition, especially considering the suspicions you had as to what she had just done. "Wab hab you done wib her?"

Green eyes glow and sparkle as she looks at you. "Oh, I just punished my bothersome pet. Nothing that she won't survive." After a moment, she stops, her face freezing. "You're injured. Who hurt my pet? Was it that loathsome elemental…"

"No, ib wasn't." Still staring at her, you point at the door. "When you obened da door, you smashed my nose."

Immediately, her face brightens at your words. "Wonderful! I had worried that someone else had broken my pet." Even though she speaks, she looks up at you softly. "Remember, as your master, I am the one required to punish you—"

As she speaks, she leans up to your face. Brushing aside your hands, she places her lips on your nose. You do your best not to recoil in disgust, not wanting to offend her in the slightest. Too bad that you can't choke that pretty little neck of hers while it's there, waiting for you…

Eventually, she leans back before continuing her speech. "—just as I am the one required to take care of you." Any soft emotions in her gaze immediately disappear as she smiles widely. "There, now don't you feel better when your nose is intact?"

"What do you mean by that?" Your eyes widen in shock as you reach up to feel your nose. "Wait a second, you were able to heal it just like that?"

The girl grins, shaking her green hair to and fro as she laughs. "Oh, how easily it is to impress you. This shall be fun!" After regarding you for another moment, she reaches into her ear, before pulling something metallic out of it. "Here is the key to a room where you can find something to wear. Be a good little pet and clean yourself up. Those clothes don't help your looks at all." At that, the girl gaily waves at you before walking away. "I shall find you there soon enough so that I can finish your instructions. Until then!"

As you watch the girl skip away from you, you can't help but sigh in relief. "Great. Just great. I don't even know where this room is…" Grumbling at the indignity of it, you finally go through the door, shutting it firmly behind you. "Wait a second… What room is this? I don't recognize where I am…"

Scratching behind your ear, or at least where it had once been, you begin to make your way through the dim room, as there was barely a lit brazier to help you find your way. As you finally find another door, you hear sobbing coming from nearby.

"…Mystia." Biting your lip, this time consciously trying not to draw blood, you wonder what you should do.

[ ] Go and help her. She went out of her way for you, should you do the same.
[ ] Every bird for themselves. Best to make use of this time to find that room before you are punished.

------------

>>26305
Sorry about that. I'll do my best to be clearer in the choices from now on. Not to mention including quotes for dialogue. If necessary, though, change it for you to make sense of it, or explain the choice. I'll be flexible.

But yeah, I was going to ask a favor. What is everyone thinking about this story, generally? Is it decent? Bad? Horrible? Is there anything you feel that can make it better, or something that you feel is taking away from it? Are the updates too long? Not long enough? Just thought I'd ask, since we're a week into this.
>>No. 26308
[X] Go and help her. She went out of her way to help you; you should do the same. And ifwhen she feels better, hopefully she might be able to point you to where your room is.

>>26305
It's interesting. I can't recall offhand having read any stories to paint the characters in such a light, though you're clearly taking quite some liberties with canon.
The updates are a good length, given the apparent propensity to modified votes or straight write-ins (which I hope you don't mind), though some readers would of course prefer walls. But many short updates are not necessarily less preferable to fewer long ones.
Seems to me the genre here is horror - struggling oppressive forces beyond comprehension or resistance. There's been an almost constant sense of being out of our depth, akin to despair but not yet truly past the initial denial. Yet we also find others in the same situation - allies and pillars of support, or dire warnings of our fate. I am eager to see where the plot takes us from here onwards.
>>No. 26309
[X] Go and help her. She went out of her way for you, should you do the same.

Pretty much what >>26308 said. I enjoy how Lucas is basically a fish out of water in this situation.
>>No. 26310
File 135274502570.jpg - (644.47KB, 1000x780, broken little birdie.jpg) [iqdb]
26310
[q] Go and help her. She went out of her way to help you; you should do the same. And ifwhen she feels better, hopefully she might be able to point you to where your room is.

------------

This time, you do not even hesitate as you turn to the girl. After going out of the way to take the punishment for you, you can hardly think as to why you wouldn't bother to assist her.

So, with your steps cautious in the dark of the room, you make your way towards the sound of her crying. As you walk, you find yourself stepping over and around broken bits of furniture. You gulp as you realize that these few were actually made of stone, and not out of wood or metal. How strong was that crazy girl, anyways?

When you finally are able to make out the form of the girl on the floor, you can barely hold in the gasp at her appearance. Even in the darkness, you can see the odd shape that those wings of hers are in. They were obviously broken. Pale white bone was visible as it stuck through the feathers at the oddest of angles. You can hardly believe that the wings remained on her body. Or that they even remained attached, for that matter.

Immediately, you rushed over to her, kneeling by her side. Subconsciously, your own wings spread out to cover her, even if it cast her further into the darkness. "Mystia… Are you there? Can you hear me?"

Amazingly, the sobbing immediately stopped. Opening her eyes, the girl looked up at you. You realize in an instant they are not the same eyes though. She is frightened out of her wits, unable to form a coherent thought or reply. "You… you…" Mystia immediately retreats as her instincts take over. "Get away! Get away! Don't hurt me anymore… Don't hurt…"

You wince as she scurries back on her hands and feet, her broken wings crushing into the rock wall behind her. However, if she was in any sort of pain from the bones shifting and grinding against each other, she doesn't show it. "Don't do that again! Please Master! No more of the mandibles. No more crawling over my skin, under my skin, everywhere everywhere…"

After a few moments, you decide to act. Just sitting there while she relived her own memories was not helping in the slightest. "Mystia… Listen. It's not that crazy girl. It's not that damned Wriggle. It's me… The new guy!"

"No, don't use them on him! You'll drive him insane…" Covering her face with her hands, Mystia starts to shake. "Drive me insane. Chittering, chattering, snattering, snitchering everywhere! Can't stand it, can't stand it. So nasty, so ugly, in my ears in my nose in my mouth in my head!"

"What has she done to you?" Well, she wasn't going to respond to your words at all. "What can I do to prove that I'm not Wriggle?" That girl seems perfectly normal, as far as you could tell. Whereas now, you have no ears, claws, feathers on your head and wings.

Wait. Feathers. If she doesn't recognize your name, would she recognize the feel of feathers? Fearing that there was no other choice, you reach for one of her hands, prying it off of her face. "Calm down Mystia… Trust me. It is going to be alright… It is going to be alright."

The bird still didn't listen as her free hand started to swipe at your arms in an attempt to loosen your grasp. Ignoring the cuts that you were starting to collect, you kept pulling it closer and closer towards your own wings. "It's not Wriggle, Mystia. Does Wriggle have feathers? She doesn't have wings. Not at all."

"Yes she does, nasty wings. Cuts and bruises she makes with them. Nasty, please leave Mystia alone…" After you finally pull her hand into your own feathers, she immediately stills. "…Never has wings like this, though. Hard, nasty. ugly wings she has…"

You sit there for a few more minutes as she runs her hands over the feathers. At the same time, you push out the oddly pleasant quivering you gain from the act. It's probably just a figment of your imagination, especially as you still aren't quite sure what to feel from these new wings of yours.

Before you can dive into that internal debate too deeply, you hear the girl in front of you gasp. "L-lucas?" Her wide eyes are still full of fear, but at least she doesn't seem so scared of you anymore.

However, you might want to correct that thought as she launches herself forward, throwing her arms about your neck before slowly squeezing the life out of you. "Mys…ti…a…" As you speak, though, you start to hear the choked sobs from her once more.

"Sorry, but it is so terrible…" You begin to feel your shoulder getting wet as she continues to cry. "She is truly horrid. I was trying… Trying to keep you safe. Pure. But she is a monster… Trying to make us all monsters."

Patting her gently on the back, making sure to ignore the broken bones as well as the knife wound, you ask, "What do you mean? What did she do to you? How can that girl—"

"She is no girl." Staring into your eyes, her voice began to plead, begging you to understand. "She truly is a monster. That face she wears is just one that she prefers. When she removes the mask though, and shows her true self…" Mystia began to shake again. "It is so horrible. I can't even begin to describe it."

"Then don't." Still doing best to be gentle, you ask, "Are you going to be alright? Your wings are…" Well, you don't know quite how to say it.

Glancing back over her shoulder, Mystia's eyes widened. "Oh no…" Automatically trying to flap them, she couldn't help but to wince as they shivered. "That is going to take a while to heal…"

"Are you saying that… That you can heal from something like that?" Well, at least you didn't have to worry about breaking anything if that proved to be true. However, if they are so blasé about such an ordeal, perhaps that is why that girl didn't consider the 'punishment' to be such a big deal.

"It isn't easy, but yes. I'm going to be out for a while, though…" Sighing, she still didn't move from the position on your shoulder. "Already starting to feel tired. Just… Just be careful while I'm out, will you? She's just going to do more of the same."

"You mean she's going to try and hurt you again?"

"No…" Shaking her head, Mystia pulls away from you before looking in your eyes. "She's going to tempt and torture you, to do her best to trick you. She'll try to turn you into a… monster…" The girl's eyes began to droop, her grip beginning to loosen on your torn shirt.

"Wait a minute!" You don't know whether she's close to dying or not. Wriggle may not believe that she has injured her that much, but what if she was wrong? "Don't go to sleep. That's the wrong thing to do. I don't want you to… to…"

Smiling sleepily, she sighs and leans her head into your chest. "This has happened before… So many times. I will be fine. Do not worry." Shivering one last time, she implores to you, the voice passing her lips small and scared. "Just… Just don't give in. That's what she wants you to do. Don't let yourself become like her. Like a monster."

With one last shudder, Mystia closed her eyes and stopped moving. You just sit there, holding her for a few moments. As you start to wonder if she was even alive, the girl before you became a blur of colors and motion.

You immediately yelped, drawing your arms away as she began to shift. Smaller and smaller she shrank, her figure becoming a formless blob as it changed. She eventually became so small that you could not even see her, effectively disappearing in the dim light of that room.

Peering down, you can't help but gasp. Lowering your hands, you scoop up a small feathery ball in your claws. Raising it to your face, you find yourself staring at a tiny sparrow, its head tucked into its wing.

Your lips thinning, you bring the sparrow closer to your chest. Where is it that you can go from here? That girl is mighty, if she can reduce Mystia to such a state. Is there anything that you can do against her?

[ ] No, there is nothing. Might as well just do what you can and make things easier on you.
[ ] Not at the moment. Just keep going through the motions. Maybe something will present itself.
[ ] Yes you can. Margatroid may help against Wriggle, if she so pleases. And were there not others that live here?
[ ] Damn right there is! She has such a tender little neck… Just waiting for your claws to squeeze tight.

&

[ ] Leave Mystia here, after giving her something to keep her warm. Wriggle would expect her to be there.
[ ] Find someplace safe that she can sleep, and she won't need to worry about being woken by another.
[ ] Keep her with you. She's small enough that it won't be a hassle. Not to mention that you can try and keep her safe.

------------

Feel free to modify these choices as you desire.
>>No. 26311
>>26308
>>26309
Danke. I'm glad that you've liked them so far. I am deliberately straying from canon, as I wanted to do something different. A lot of inspiration comes from another, completely different series. But I'm trying to merge the two worlds so that they become their own, instead of randomly tossing elements together and hoping they match. I shan't say which one, but if someone does say which one it is, I shall admit it readily.

You are correct in the genre. Just be careful from here on out. As the question is not when you will escape, but if. And how much of yourself remains when you do so. Also, there is more to this world beyond the burrow, but I'm going to keep you on a short leash, and in the forest. Just remember that virtually every action will have a consequence somewhere down the line.

One last thing I will say. Write-ins are welcome, and even encouraged. As are modifications. Although unless you have something particularly brilliant, I ask you to think through your choices. It would be dangerous for you to give me enough rope that I may hang you with it.
>>No. 26312
[X] Yes you can. Margatroid may help against Wriggle, if she so pleases. And were there not others that live here?

[X] Leave Mystia here, after giving her something to keep her warm. Wriggle would expect her to be there.
>>No. 26313
[X] Yes you can. Margatroid may help against Wriggle, if she so pleases. And were there not others that live here?

[X] Keep her with you. She's small enough that it won't be a hassle. Not to mention that you can try and keep her safe.
>>No. 26314
[x] Not at the moment. Just keep going through the motions. Maybe something will present itself.
[x] Leave Mystia here, after giving her something to keep her warm. Wriggle would expect her to be there.
>>No. 26315
[X] Yes you can. Margatroid may help against Wriggle, if she so pleases. And were there not others that live here?
[X] Before any of that, find our room. No point in provoking her any more than we need to right now.
[X] Leave Mystia here, after giving her something to keep her warm. Wriggle would expect her to be there.
>>No. 26316
File 135277484293.jpg - (150.97KB, 800x588, please wait warmly girls are sleeping.jpg) [iqdb]
26316
[r] Yes you can. Margatroid may help against Wriggle, if she so pleases. And were there not others that live here?
[r] Leave Mystia here, after giving her something to keep her warm. Wriggle would expect her to be there.

------------

Sighing, you keep the sparrow held to your chest as you decide what to do. There are a few things that you could hopefully do to get out of there. Hopefully you could do so while getting your... friend out as well. You can hardly imagine living like this for another week. How long has she had to endure this?

Not to mention that she still seems mostly sane. Would you be able to keep yourself from going insane spending just as long within these walls?

Eventually, though, you realize you need to move. As good as it would be to stay here with her, or to take her with you, she would not be safer with you by her side. There's no telling what that girl is truly capable of, so it'd be best to just leave her here where she would be expected to be.

Still, it feels wrong to leave Mystia here just to sleep on the stone floor. You can't tell if there is anything nearby in this darkness, as the only thing that you've seen is the stone furniture. No tapestries, or anything else that could be used for a blanket.

"Well, I'm going to be acquiring a new shirt anyway…" After a few moments more of thought, you nod. Gently sitting the snoozing sparrow on the ground, you begin to remove your shirt as quickly as possible. "Damn buttons… Can't even get them to work with these hands…" After a few more seconds of attempting to remove the shirt, you shake the head and just rip it open.

Pulling it over your wings, you wad up the shirt and set it up against the wall. Picking her up once more, you gently place her into the wadded clothes, keeping her nice and comfortable until she turns back into what she was before.

Standing back up, blushing noticeably at walking around without a shirt, you amble over towards the door, glancing back at Mystia before going through. "…Sleep well, Mystia. See you soon."

------------

The next fifteen minutes are spent quickly walking through the hallways of the burrow, checking each and door that you passed to see if the key worked. From the door from the room Mystia was asleep in, you initially turned left. Every door that way seemed to be unlocked, the majority just being empty rooms with pallets of straw on the floor. "These must be the pet's rooms…" You didn't see much at first glance, but there seems to be very little in personal effects.

There isn't much time to waste, though, so you quickly move on. At the end of that hallway, you happen across another room that is unlocked. Glancing inside, you see towers of books and trophies, with various trinkets and weapons lining the halls. At the very center of the room is a perch, but it doesn't seem to be used currently. Making a mental note of where it is, you turn tail, and head back past where you had begun.

As you continue past the room with Mystia, you begin to dive deeper into ground. You automatically sink your claws into the rock, barely noticing as the stone gives way before the dark talons. The one wing furthest from the wall spreads in order to slow your descent.

After walking down for a few minutes, slowly spiraling to the right, you come to yet another long barren rock hallway. Continually to slowly creep along the corridor, you find yet another door, which is identical to every single one that you have passed so far.

This time, the door is locked to your hands. Retrieving the key that had been offered what felt like ages ago, you insert the ancient metal into a brass lock. Fiddling with it for a few seconds, the tumblers within all click open, and the door creaks open with agonizing slowness.

Past the threshold of the door is a brightness you have not yet seen since you awoke. The light blinds you as you stare into it, your eyes slow to adjust to the extreme change in luminosity. Opening your eyes with agonizing caution, you can't help but gasp at the view before you.

Mentally, you recognize that there is nothing particularly special about this room. Wooden chests and dressers of all kind line the walls each one a different shade. Some are dark redwood while others are deep walnut, while others are chestnut in color. Some are elegantly swept in their curves, while others are utilitarian and straight. Past them all you can spy a few vanities with mirrors of rippling silver. Two in particular seem to be framing a door on the far end, and seem overly ornate.

What amazes you the most, though, is how clear the colors are. Each and every one is so vibrant now that you can finally see in a clear light. You can't help but smile as your eyes enjoy a reverie that is usually reserved for music that strikes a chord deep within your soul. "Is this why it's so dark in here? So we do not succumb to this all of the time?"

As you try to shake yourself out of the visual high you were now experiencing, you can't help but wonder which you should explore first.

[ ] Check the dressers on the right side.
[ ] Check the dressers on the left side.
[ ] Check the chests on the right side.
[ ] Check the chests on the left side.
[ ] Check the vanities on the right side.
[ ] Check the vanities on the left side.
[ ] Check the door beyond.

------------

Would it help if I made a map? I know perfectly well where we are at, but I don't know if it would help, or if it would be appreciated.
>>No. 26317
[X] Check the dressers on the left side.

Get dressed first. We spent quite some time with Mystia, so we might not have much left before Wriggle comes knocking. I just picked at random between left and right.

>map
That depends. Do you want to give the feeling of being lost in a sprawling labyrinthine complex, or is the burrow relatively straightforward that Lucas can easily remember what is where? Sometimes in-character and out-of-character knowledge are difficult to keep separate, after all. I'd suggest making a rough map on the area, with the areas Lucas clearly remembers or has been to many times visible, areas he vaguely remembers blurred or airbrushed such that we can't see them clearly, and areas he hasn't been to completely blacked out.
Of course, I realize this would probably require a not insignificant amount of effort for something that might be trivial, so it's really up to you.

>giving you the rope to hang us with
Ah, so you're that kind of storyteller, huh? We'll have to be careful from now on, it seems. At the very least, you're hopefully not the kind to kill us over a clumsy turn of phrase.
Oh who am I kidding - we're obviously going to continue giving write-ins with reckless abandon.
>>No. 26318
>>26317
It's not that some sort of great maze to trap a minotaur, that is to be certain. The biggest problem is that the burrows are three-dimensional, which would be hard to represent. I might throw together on something on gimp on the morrow, just to keep better track. After all, he would be doing his best to mentally keep track of where everything was.

As for potential bad ends, I'll let the characters speak for themselves. I'm impressed that no one has sought out one yet, though. Although, I will say that there is no completely happy ending. You've only met one of the girls worth saving. Not all of them will make it.

Feel free to be brilliant enough to prove me wrong, though.
>>No. 26319
[X] Check the dressers on the left side.

>>26318
Hooray for our own stupidity doing us in. That being said thanks for the heads up.
>>No. 26320
>>26318
>3-dimensional dungeons
Alright, those are a bitch to draw out. In that case, I think you can be forgiven for being unwilling to map it out. But if you still want to do so, the obvious thing to do to simplify things would be to have multiple floors where most things are on an approximate level, and note the other areas that lie between the floors.

>seeking out bad ends
While that might be amusing, it seems most of the voters in this thread aren't masochists. In any case, it wasn't clear whether you were the type to Bad End us immediately and let us choose how many choices to go back or make us live with our choices and carry the story to it's conclusion. Still isn't, now that I think of it.

>impossible to save all the girls
ROW ROW FIGHT DA POWAH.
>>No. 26323
>>26320

Put it this way. If you manage to die, end up crippled beyond recovery, or have a permanent loss of sanity and personality that kills Lucas mentally, I would bad end you for sure.

This will be more likely once your new guy status wears off. But as for anything else... I will call the shots. As long as the game isn't unwinnable, so to say, it will keep going on. If there is enough of an outcry, though, I will consider rolling back at a penalty.

>>26319
You're welcome. Nothing bad has happened yet that would make me even think of doing so, so we'll see how everything continues.
>>No. 26325
[-s-] Check the dressers on the left side.

------------

First things first. You need to check the dressers and see if there is anything to wear. Shutting the door behind you, making sure to lock it so that you are not walked in upon accidentally, you open up the dresser on the left and begin searching for it.

Everything inside seems to be collared shirts that are blazing white, shining almost bright enough to make you shield your eyes. However, you eventually realize that they are just plain white, and your eyes had become so accustomed to the dark and dull that you were nearly blinded by the white. Shaking yourself out of your woolgathering, you instead begin searching through every one.

"Button down, button down, more button downs…" Your initial search does not go very well, though. Claws were hardly suited for unbuttoning your shirt earlier; they would be even more inadequate for putting them on. Still, you take one off the hanger and hold it up against you. "Much too short… And they're all the same length.

On further inspection, you notice that the buttons are on the wrong side. At least they would be for a man. "…A blouse, then? But who would be wearing one here?" Cursing yourself for not paying attention, you begin to examine the dresser more thorough while looking for clues.

The top drawer in the bottom of the dresser would not open, so you immediately proceed to the bottom one. Inside are what seem to be a large collection of mismatched socks of all sizes and colors. Picking one of them up, you can't help but chuckle as you tug at its edges. "So, they can't turn people into bird… monster… things… But they haven't discovered elastic."

Still, there isn't much of a hint at the moment. As you continue to play around with the sock, you realize they all are much too small for a man's foot. "These are girl's socks. So, female shirts, female socks… Where are the pants?"

You return to examining the dresser, eventually finding a small shelf above with folded clothing. "So, there is that…" Still, there seems to be nothing that you can use. Perhaps one of the larger shirts will fit you, but you're quite unsure of that.

"Better safe than sorry." Taking the largest one you can grab, you set it on the bottom of the inner part of the dresser. As you do, the wood rattles as you rap it with your claws. "Wait a moment…" Taking a closer look at the bottom of the dresser, you spot that the wood is just off color, compared to the rest of the cabinet, just as it doesn't quite fit the frame. "A false bottom, maybe?"

[ ] Check underneath. Whatever she is hiding must be worth it.
[ ] Take the time to put the shirt on. It may take some time, but at least you'd be wearing something.
[ ] Inspect something else.
-[ ] Check the dressers on the right side.
-[ ] Check the dressers on the left side.
-[ ] Check the chests on the right side.
-[ ] Check the chests on the left side.
-[ ] Check the vanities on the right side.
-[ ] Check the vanities on the left side.
-[ ] Check the door beyond.

------------

Only choose one above. Unless you think of something else to do for a write-in, as always.

Just fyi, the next few posts are going to be shorter, for obvious reasons. I can pump these out fairly quickly when I do have a mo', so be sure to keep checking.

Reuploaded because of stupidity on my part.
>>No. 26326
[x] Check underneath. Whatever she is hiding must be worth it.
>>No. 26327
[x] Check underneath. Whatever she is hiding must be worth it.
>>No. 26328
File 135283051186.jpg - (67.84KB, 1024x494, and so you know the first to die.jpg) [iqdb]
26328
[t] Check underneath. Whatever she is hiding must be worth it.

------------

"Well, this is too obvious not to check." Reaching down, you forced your claws under the wood at the seam, slowly forcing the board up. After a minute or so of tugging, the board comes off, but not before a small crack shows up in the middle.

"Oh dear." Well, nothing you can do about that now. Gingerly picking the board up, you place it to the side before gazing at the contents below it. "…That is rather underwhelming…"

Within the secret compartment is a veritable symphony of color. Hundreds upon hundreds of feathers, each of a different hue and each of a different shape are piled on top of each other, drowning out the wood with their loud colors. You find your eyes dancing to and fro in joy, amazed at the saturation.

Yet, you realize mentally that it is nothing but feathers. "Maybe she's hiding something beneath?" Dragging your hands through the feathers, you slowly shake your head. "There's nothing here… Just a bunch of feathers…"

Naturally, the moment you say that your claws hit something that isn't wooden or feathery. Immediately grabbing it, you pull out a small bound tome. "Is there something in here that will help, maybe? …Perhaps I should stop talking to myself, first, and then I can see what is going on in here."

Laughing at yourself once more, you flip open the pages of the book, this time taking great care to not rip anything with your claws. Every page that you turned had another name in it, accompanied by a rather juvenile figure. The images were no more than stick figures, but each one seemed to be killed in a rather decadent or bloody fashion. More than a few seemed to be consumed by insects, while others earned no more than a knife to the neck.

Aghast at the first few pages, you felt dread growing as you flipped through the first hundred. "Are these… Are these all of the pets that's she had? There's so many…" You wonder if Mystia's figure about there being no pets in ten years was true, or if she was just exaggerating. For everyone's sake, you hoped that it was the latter case. "If not, then she must have been doing this for… For hundreds of years?"

Eventually you reached the end, in which you found something odd. A jet-black feather was sticking out from betwixt the pages, just in front of the last entry. "Either a raven or a crow, I suppose? That's the only thing coming to my mind…" As your finger traced under the name of the deceased, you couldn't help but wonder if this was the recent death Mystia had referred to. "If there used to be two crows… I wonder what happened to the survivor."

Holding the feather in your hand, you sighed. "Who knows… But if you tried to escape, you can't have been like them…" Even though this didn't help you find anything that could be used against the monster of a girl, it does strengthen your resolve, seeing so many names. Silently, you swear to take vengeance in her name as well. "I'll make sure she remembers, Aya."

[ ] Put everything back. Make sure that Wriggle won't notice that her stuff has been tampered with.
[ ] Take (insert stuff here) with you. It may not help you at all, but it wouldn't be right to leave it here.

&

[ ] Check the dressers on the right side.
[ ] Check the dressers on the left side.
[ ] Check the chests on the right side.
[ ] Check the chests on the left side.
[ ] Check the vanities on the right side.
[ ] Check the vanities on the left side.
[ ] Check the door beyond.
>>No. 26329
[X] Put everything back. Make sure that Wriggle won't notice that her stuff has been tampered with.

[X] Check the dressers on the right side.
>>No. 26330
[X] Put everything back. Make sure that Wriggle won't notice that her stuff has been tampered with.
[X] Check the dressers on the right side.

The scary thought here is that this tome might not be Wriggle's.
>>No. 26331
File 135283696231.jpg - (677.30KB, 1998x4009, the map so far.jpg) [iqdb]
26331
[u] Put everything back. Make sure that Wriggle won't notice that her stuff has been tampered with.
[u] Check the dressers on the right side.

------------

Shaking your head, you finally place the feather back in the book. "Sorry, but I need to put this back. I don't want her asking any questions…" Once that was done, and you had buried the book underneath the pile of feathers, you placed the board back onto the dresser. "I just hope she doesn't notice that crack. Then we might have a few problems…"

Still, there was nothing that could be done about it. If you tried to cover it up with some other type of clothing, there is no doubt that she would notice something amiss. At the moment, you would just have to make something up about not knowing your own strength, or your claws accidentally breaking it, or something.

Turning opposite of that dresser, you approach the one across fro mitt. Making sure to hang the one shirt that you were keeping as a possibility on the nearest handle that you could spot, you pull open the doors to the second dresser.

This one is just the opposite of the other. If the first dresser had shirts that were nearly identical lined up in a uniform row, this one contained a cacophony captured in cloth and fold. Dresses and shirts of every shape and color imaginable lined the wooden cabinet. You are quite sure that there were a fair few more that were piled on the bottom, as there simply was not enough room for them to stay hanging.

"Why would she need so many?" Idly, you remove one of the outfits, which is much too small for anyone you've seen to wear. "Unless these are not hers… In that case, though, whose could they be?" Immediately, you stick it back on the rack, before searching everywhere else.

At least, you search everywhere else that you can get into. Once more you check the drawers, and once more the top drawer is locked. This time, though, there is no easily removable board on top. Taking a better look at the dresser, you note that this one is one of the older ones. "Probably better constructed. That much I can tell. It wouldn't be easy to get inside."

Granted, you could probably rip it open with proper application of your claws, but that would take much too long, and be much too obvious. So, instead, you check the second drawer.

The moment you look inside, you immediately shut it. Your face burns as you look away, rubbing behind the holes that are now your ears. "E-heh, yeah… I'm not going to be digging through underwear, unless I have the choice." Even if it seemed to be mostly variations on bloomers, you are not going to put yourself through that, yet. Especially as you imagine Wriggle's reaction to you searching through that pile of skimpy cloth.

"Well, moving on… Where else could it be? I haven't seen anything else that I could wear. And I do not think that forcing that shirt onto me would prove successful."

[ ] Force the shirt on. Because what would she say about having her shirt potentially torn, especially if it doesn't fit in the end?
[ ] …Perhaps you could force that top drawer open? You are rather curious.
[ ] Inspect something else.
-[ ] Check the dressers on the right side.
-[ ] Check the dressers on the left side.
-[ ] Check the chests on the right side.
-[ ] Check the chests on the left side.
-[ ] Check the vanities on the right side.
-[ ] Check the vanities on the left side.
-[ ] Check the door beyond.

------------

Uploaded the map along with this post. Rather basic, but considering we're in burrows rather than a proper building with straight lines, I think it works well.
>>No. 26332
[X] Only a fool would damage both of the things meant to keep people out. Leave the drawer be.
-[X] Check the door beyond. Maybe the pet room is there.
>>No. 26333
[X] Inspect something else.
-[X] Check the door beyond.
>>No. 26334
[x] Inspect something else.
-[x] Check the door beyond.
>>No. 26335
File 135284456858.png - (100.63KB, 424x307, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.png) [iqdb]
26335
[v] Inspect something else
-[v] Check the door beyond.

------------

You nod once more, before closing the door on the dresser before you. "Right. That wouldn't be the best idea. Just keep searching, and something will present itself.

As you do as much, you look around the room, searching for anything that might stand out. However, every inch of wooden cabinetry appears the same to you, with none of them having any features distinctive enough to make you want to inspect them. "Bah. It will take forever for me to bother to inspect them. So, if I can't find any clothes here…" Well, maybe there was something beyond the door you could use. If it just turned out to be yet another hallway, you could easily turn back.

Leaving the shirt hanging on the handle, you slowly walk over, making sure to double check everything to see if you had missed something obvious. Not noting anything of particular interest, you grab the hand and twist it.

At first, it doesn't turn. Fishing out the key once more, taking care not to drop it from your clawed hands, you insert it into the keyhole. One quick turn later and the tumblers click open, allowing you to open the door.

The room beyond is just as bright, and for the first time it doesn't appear to be covered with rock and stone. A damp, spongy lining covers the floor, almost feeling like some type of carpet. As you press your feet onto it, though, you realize that whatever it is, it's alive. "It's covered in moss? Odd. Why here, and nowhere else."

Looking around the room, you note that there are no light sources that should provide such a bright atmosphere, just the same as the room you were in before. Instead, the walls are lined with odd tapestries the likes of which are hard to understand. Every time you try to focus on one particular spot, the patterns that might be there disappear, only for them to shift somewhere else. At the same time, the colors constantly undulate and wave, as if they were but waves upon the ocean, ever-changing.

"So… Pretty…" You continue to stare at the colors for a minute or two, becoming lost in their forms. "No… No. I'm here for a job. Need to keep looking…" Your eyes begin to tear up at the loss of the glorious vision before you, but you manage to tear yourself away from the sight.

Pointedly ignoring the walls, you look at the centerpiece of the room. At first glance it appears to be a soft lump, contained by ancient logs holding in its weighty bounty. As you look closer, though, the lump is instead a pile of blankets, stacked three feet tall. Inside the pile of blankets, a much smaller lump shifts slightly.

You immediately freeze as a head pokes itself out from under the lump. A mess of brown hair covers a pale head as it peeks at you, sleepy eyes barely opening. "Master… Is that you? Have you come to let your pet try and please you once more?"

Backing away slowly, you try to close the door quietly, doing your best to not wake the girl. "No, sorry, she let me in, but I was just checking for something to wear…"

Your attempts were rather unsuccessful, as the girl immediately shoots up, staring straight at you. "You are not Master. Intruder. You must be an intruder!" A wide grin spread across the girl's face. "I shall capture you and please Master!"

Before you can shut the door completely, the girl has already risen and raced over to the door, flinging it open. "Do not try to escape! I shall capture you, and present you to her. Then she will let me make her happy!" At that, she reached out and tried to grab at your arms in an attempt to pin you down.

It was at this point that you realized that the girl that was attempting to catch you was indeed completely naked. Your face burning once more, you did your best to look away from her. She made this quite difficult as she continued to claw at your hands in order to restrain you. "Will you stop that now? I'm not an intruder? Can't you tell?" While the girl continued to wrestle with you, you did your best to point at your wings. "I've got wings! I'm another bird, just like you!"

"Not like Hatate!" Surprisingly, the girl seemed unable to restrain you. Could this one actually be weaker than you? "She is good, better, best pet! She will prove it!"

Taking a chance, you let the girl try to grab at you once more. The moment she stilled enough, you grabbed her wrists in return, securing them in your claws. Eyes burning with anger as the tables were turned, she did her best to pull away. You did not have to even try in order to keep her in place, though. "Will you calm down? I'm just here to find clothing. Your master gave me a key…"

"Aha!" Grinning as her eyes turned manic, the girl with brown hair began to sing. "You're a fake! You're a fake! Not just my master! If you're a pet, then she is your master too!"

Before this could go any further, you heard the tumblers for the first door turn. You immediately freeze once more as you realize who is arriving. Your head slowly turns back towards the door as it opens, revealing the green-eyed form of the master.

Now is your first chance to get a good look at her. She appears just as you expected earlier, looking like a young girl wearing clothes that didn't quite flatter that part of her appearance. However, the shirt she was wearing was identical to the ones in the first dresser, just as you imagine those pants might have been one and the same as the ones you originally located.

However, as she removes her hat, her face flat even as dark mirth shone in her eyes, she reveals something you had not yet notice. Upon her head were two long antennae, rising not quite a foot above her before they curled over at the top. You suddenly have the eerie feeling that there is something wrong about her.

At least, something is even more wrong than you initially suspected.

Still, you just watch her as she strolls into the room. "Well, I did not expect this, pet. I give you a key to my room, and I find you half-naked and playing with my current toy…" Shrugging, she began to walk closer. "Pray tell, why would that be?"

[ ] You could mention that you left Mystia your shirt to keep her warm. After all, it's not like you're undressed just for… that. Honesty is the best policy.
[ ] You know what? You didn't come down here to play games. Just tell her you can't find a shirt with someone attempting to wrestle you. Get angry, and get mad!
[ ] You should just shrug it off and ask for a shirt. You'll be damned if you give her an explanation.

------------

You know, I don't think I could have timed this more perfectly if I had planned that to happen from the start. Granted, Wriggle was coming in no matter what choice you took… But still, this gives me chuckling.
>>No. 26336
[X] You should just shrug it off and ask for a shirt. You'll be damned if you give her an explanation.
>>No. 26337
[x] You should just shrug it off and ask for a shirt. You'll be damned if you give her an explanation.
>>No. 26338
[X] You were thought to be an intruder, while you were looking for a shirt. You managed to get your shirt dirty, and ended up ruining it while trying to remove it. If you didn't know this was her room, play it off as not knowing this to be her room. She simply had bad timeing, and walked in as you had just checked what was behind the door. Nobody told you what to avoid and such, so you are really quite lost as to where is what not to do. Explain what had happened, and be sure to appologise, just in case. You won't be able to escape, if you end up in a horrible shape.
>>No. 26339
Alright, it looks like there've been a few updates since I checked yesterday. They'll probably have managed to get dressed by now; it can't have been too har-

Wait.

What.

[X] Ask for a shirt without buttons, with a comment on how hard buttoned shirts are to deal with with these claws. Let her draw her own conclusions.
>>No. 26341
[w] You should just shrug it off and ask for a shirt. You'll be damned if you give her an explanation.
-[w] Ask for a shirt without buttons, with a comment on how hard buttoned shirts are to deal with with these claws. Let her draw her own conclusions.

------------

Alright, you are not in the mood to deal with. Being attacked by an almost literal crazy naked chick was bad enough. But being interrogated as if it had been your intention all along? You weren't going to go along with that.

"I don't know. Since you're the master, can't you figure that out?" Ignoring the gasp from brown-haired girl, you shove her away from you as you turn towards the crazy girl. "But that's not important. I've been looking for some clothes to wear. Particularly something that does not include buttons."

The girl just chuckled at you, seemingly not taking the insults personally. "But of course. After all, it is quite hard for you to even manage such a simple activity now. I hope that you weren't a seamstress before I had you acquired, pet."

"Hardly." Glancing at your own claws, you frown. Could you even go back to your old life after this? You had been concentrating on escaping this entire time, after all. Would you be able to go back to that life?

Still, those are not questions for now. One step at a time, after all. Get out, then get on with life. Not the other way around. "I was a typist, if you must know. Not that I'd expect you to care what my job was before."

Bringing her finger to her lips, Wriggle playfully hummed as she tapped her mouth. "Hrm… No. You'll be doing what I tell you to do from now on, after all. So there is no reason to bother educating me on that world's pastimes."

"So, this isn't the same world as my own?" Interesting thought, you suppose. "Never mind that for now. You won't be telling me anyways. Could I please just have a shirt?"

The girl chuckled, not moving an inch. "Really, you should have found something to wear. There are plenty of shirts in the chests, and not all of them even have buttons in the slightest."

Well, that might have explained why there was nothing usable that you could find. Unconsciously scratching behind your ear holes, you pointedly look away. "I didn't get to those in time. I thought that there might have been something beyond the door that I could wear instead."

Tilting her head to the side, Wriggle's antennae bounced too and fro, as if they were but made of springs. "Really? Why would you think that? Why would I have any man's clothing out and ready to wear, especially in my room."

Narrowing your eyes at her, you bite back your initial response, before settling with one not quite as harsh. "You never did bother to tell me that it was your room, though."

"I didn't?" Grinning too widely to be innocent, she chuckled. "Oh well! So, tell me, are you enjoying my other pet's company? She can be so demanding at times… It might be nice to have her tire herself out on another pet, so that she doesn't bother me too much…"

Glancing at Hatate, you stare at her blankly as she snarls at you. "You know what? I don't think there's much in the future for us. Like a damned rabid dog, she is."

"Ah, but dogs do not have such wonderful plumage." Laughing lightly, she began to walk forward. "So, tell me, where is that shirt of yours, if you weren't trying to have fun with my pet? Don't tell me that you were stupid enough to lose track of it on the short walk all the way down here, of all places…"

[ ] Tell the truth.
[ ] Lie.

------------

>>26339
You should have known it would not be that simple.
>>No. 26342
[X] My shirt wasn't designed for wings. It was getting in the way so I got rid of it.

Why tell the truth or lie when you can do both instead?
>>No. 26344
[X] Tell the truth.
-[X] Point out that it was hardly the short walk the describes, given that you hadn't any directions nor descriptions of where you were supposed to be headed.
-[X] In any case, whilst you were searching, you encountered Mystia's room. Thinking to ask her for directions, you instead found her in a state which seemed to us to be mildly distressed. The end result of a sequence of events which is hardly worth describing is that she is now in possession of your shirt.
-[X] If needed, assure her that nothing improper happened - though if it did, it would still be the prerogative of a gentleman not to kiss and tell.

We technically did nothing wrong.

>>26341
We were already in the room! I even said "okay guys, Wriggle's coming soon; let's get dressed first". How hard could it have possibly been?
>>No. 26345
[x] Tell the truth.
-[x] In any case, whilst you were searching, you encountered Mystia's room. Thinking to ask her for directions, you instead found her in a state which seemed to us to be mildly distressed. The end result of a sequence of events which is hardly worth describing is that she is now in possession of your shirt.
-[x] If needed, assure her that nothing improper happened - though if it did, it would still be the prerogative of a gentleman not to kiss and tell.
>>No. 26346
File 135290355092.jpg - (201.19KB, 993x1200, just a little taste.jpg) [iqdb]
26346
[x] Tell the truth.
-[x] In any case, whilst you were searching, you encountered Mystia's room. Thinking to ask her for directions, you instead found her in a state which seemed to us to be mildly distressed. The end result of a sequence of events which is hardly worth describing is that she is now in possession of your shirt.
-[x] If needed, assure her that nothing improper happened - though if it did, it would still be the prerogative of a gentleman not to kiss and tell.

------------

Alright. You were getting tired of this girl's snide insinuations. You were not going to just stand here and let her dream up her own version of events. Not to mention you were damn tired of this whole pathetic thing in the first place.

"Listen, Wriggle." Ignoring the growling that was coming from the naked girl behind you, you squared off against the green-haired girl. "I don't really want to mess around, so let me tell you what happened. After you left me your perfectly succinct instructions, which didn't even bother to include where this room is, I left and managed to come all of the way down here. But only after running across Mystia."

Before she had the chance to reply, you cut her off. "Do you know what state I found her in? She was completely distraught! She couldn't even recognize me from you!"

"It must have been dark, then." Grinning widely, she buffed her nails on her shirt. "Are you implying that there is something wrong with the treatment of my pets? I do my best to ensure that they are well kept. Sadly, that means that I must be strict with them at times." A slow, low chuck fell from her lips, echoing across the room. "One must take their nose and rub it in the mess she made."

Silence lingers for a few seconds while you do nothing but blink at the girl. "Rub… her nose?" Growling loudly, you do your best to resist the sudden urge to claw the girl. It would be so easy, practically taking no more than a twist of your fingers… "You did plenty more than that! You shattered her wings!" As you mention it, your own flutter in anger, the feathers bristling to make you appear larger. "You broke them, so they couldn't even move!"

"No more than what a stupid bird deserves." Shrugging, the girl began to circle you, her eyes never leaving your face. "She must be reminded of her place. It is her job to remember such things, after all. Not to mention that she is quite the resilient little bird. Who am I to not take advantage of such admirable traits, and make sure the lesson is understood?"

"…You're a monster. Just for that alone." Clenching your fists tightly, the black claws piercing your skin as you do, it becomes harder and harder to contain yourself. "Not to mention what the hell you did to her mind."

Humming to herself, the girl ends up standing by the second bird, slowly petting the brunette's head. "Now, now, temper. Wouldn't it be terrific if you allowed yourself to fall to that?"

The angry bird beside her immediately leans into her hand. "Yes it would! Hatate would protect Master! Stupid bird won't get past her…"

Wriggle stares at the girl for a moment before busting out into laughter. "What a hoot! Oh dear, sometimes I wonder if you were an owl, pet. But I don't believe you could fight your way out of a damp paper bag. After all, you're not your sister…"

Leaving the girl be, and ignoring the rather stricken look on her face, the crazy girl continues to circle about you. "So, mad at I for my treatment of my pets? Poor thing; you must not know how to properly conduct yourself. And here I was thinking I wasn't going to break you in."

"Like how you broke her in?" You cannot comprehend how something that appeared so human seems to be unable to understand why it was wrong for her to have done such a thing. "How you destroyed her mind?"

"I didn't destroy it. I simply reminded her of what exactly I am…" Spinning in place, the girl stopped her circling and instead walked over to one of the chests. "Don't even bother asking. You will understand soon enough… Soon enough."

After she opened the chest up and began to dig through it, she eventually turns back to face you. "Well? Do continue. I would be delighted to hear the rest of your story, after all. And you still have not answered my question…"

Crossing your arms, you huff at her. "Fine. Well, keep it short and sweet. When it was obvious that she was too broken to help me find my way here, and had transformed back into a sparrow, I left her my shirt so that she could stay warm."

"Is… that so?" For one moment in time, she seems to freeze, before she immediately stands back up. "Do you not know that such a thing was hardly yours to freely give to her?"

"How do you mean?" This whole mess was insanity, but you had to force yourself to play the game. "I didn't need it, especially as you had requested me to go find something new."

"Maybe so. But remember, pet, you are mine." Turning to face you, the girl's glowing eyes silently reprimand you. "Everything about you is mine. Nothing is yours to give away." Taking a bundle of cloth in her hand, she slowly walks towards you, her visage growing slowly and slowly more terrible as she does.

Her eyes begin to grow larger, much too large for a human's head. Just as it does, you can see the hair on her head begin to ravel, becoming long and thick strands. Chitinous plates began to form around the outside of her face as she walked closer, disrupting the smooth skin that had covered it. "Do not mistake my leniency for freedom, pet. Do not think an insignificant bird such as you will ever hope to challenge one as I. Be supplicant, and I will keep you well. But tread to far…"

The two of you stare at each other for a few moments more, although you can't help but listen to the voice in the back of your head screaming to get away. Eyes watering, you are eventually forced to blink. The moment you open your eyes up once again, the crazy girl is back to normal, smiling happily. "Here is your shirt, pet. It will fit you as long as you know how to put it on."

"I don't suppose you're going to tell me this time, are you?" At her amused laughter, you hang your head. "I didn't think so. Are you trying to manufacture scenarios in which you can punish me?"

"Are you sure you haven't hit your head on something, pet? You keep on speaking about nonsense…" The grin on her face gave you the answer even as she avoided the question. "Now, is there anything else before I give you some direction in your new life, my young little pet?"

[ ] Would it be a good idea to meet the others? It might be nice to not have to deal with introductions like the last one.
[ ] First things first. Check on Mystia. Sometimes a one-track mind isn't a bad thing?
[ ] You want answers, and you will get them, if you have to choke them out of her!
[ ] No, there is nothing that you particularly desire.
[ ] Actually, Margatroid had mentioned getting the 'fix' done early. Perhaps she would allow you to go out? Not to mention you might know how to get out of this madhouse.

&

[ ] Put the shirt on now. No reason to taunt her.
[ ] Wait until she is gone. No reason to listen to her demands.

------------

>>26344
Sorry. I didn't mean to rebuke; I just meant it to tease. To be honest, since we took the time to help Mystia, I allowed 4 actions to be taken. Checking the first dresser, checking the secret compartment, checking the second dresser, and checking the door.

Granted, the examination could have been cursory, allowing you to find the clothes (some of which were in either chest) at the cost of not knowing what was in the secrets. And most of the pieces of furniture had secrets that were even more of a red herring than the one you found.

Personally, I was expecting someone to check one of the vanities, so we could finally see how he changed.

The only negative consequence of this is that you would have an even harder chance of turning Hatate to your side. And since that was hardly easy modo in the first place… Well, I wasn't expecting her to be helped, anyways.
>>No. 26347
[x] Would it be a good idea to meet the others? It might be nice to not have to deal with introductions like the last one.
[x] Put the shirt on now. No reason to taunt her.
>>No. 26348
[x] Would it be a good idea to meet the others? It might be nice to not have to deal with introductions like the last one.
[x] Put the shirt on now. No reason to taunt her.
>>No. 26349
[x] Would it be a good idea to meet the others? It might be nice to not have to deal with introductions like the last one. Wouldn't want to end up on the bad side of someone who can fight their way out of a paper bag.
[x] Put the shirt on now. No reason to taunt her. Plus, you wouldn't want to catch a cold.
>>No. 26350
[y] Would it be a good idea to meet the others? It might be nice to not have to deal with introductions like the last one. Wouldn't want to end up on the bad side of someone who can fight their way out of a paper bag.
[y] Put the shirt on now. No reason to taunt her. Plus, you wouldn't want to catch a cold.

------------

"Actually, there is one thing that I would like from you…" Opening up the folded shirt idly, you look at the monster of a girl before you. "I'd like to meet all the rest of your pets." Your eyes momentarily turn to the girl who still had not moved the entire time, even to cover herself up, before glancing away. Silently, you thank that you no longer have ears with which to give your embarrassment away. "Nothing… personal, but I'd rather not end up having another introduction go like the last one. Something tells me that not all of them have as much difficulty with paper bags."

Breaking out into laughter, Wriggle turned her eyes straight towards Hatate, smirking widely. "Wow, I must say that I am impressed. We've got a new pet here that is still as fresh as a grub's naked behind, and yet you've managed to convince him how weak you are."

"Master, it's not my fault…" If your words had caused no reaction aside from anger, Wriggle's words practically crushed her spirit. Pulling the stubby wings around her that you had not even noticed she possessed, she curled herself up like a turtle withdrawing into its shell. "I do my best… But I'm just not as strong as the others."

"Really, now? That never stopped that sister of yours…" Chuckling widely, Wriggle turns away from Hatate, slowly walking from the room. "Too bad that the fierce spirit and inventive mind forced me to pluck her feathers much to early. If only you were as she was, then you might actually be of some interest. You are free to prove me otherwise…"

During the byplay, you looked down at the offered shirt. Unfolding it, you try to identify it, and yet you can't. Not that you particularly care. A shirt is a shirt is a shirt, as far as you have ever particularly thought about that quandary. Still, it has two holes for arms and two holes for wings, so it is usable.

Not that it is as easy to pull on, now that you have two extra appendages. Awkwardly manipulating the limbs, they flap to and fro as you try to straighten them out enough for you to pull the holes over them. You do your best to keep your mind from reeling at the sensation. You're not exactly grown up doing something like this, after all. The thought does pass your mind as to whether you'd be able to fly now that you have wings… But you shove it out of your mind. That isn't something you'd want to try at the moment.

The moment your mind strays, though, your wings decide to figure out your work for you. Relaxing on their own, they easily slip through the two holes. After that, it was no problem to pull both sides of the shirt around and slip your arms through. Instead of having to button this one, though, you just had to tie a few drawstrings in order to lock it down. Crude, but it works, considering that you had done your best to keep from tearing the fabric at all.

"—gly as he is, just about! And I have to say that his face might be a sight better than yours." It appeared that during the minute or two it took to put on your shirt, Wriggle had been browbeating Hatate. "So, as hard as you try, it will be a long time until you will be good enough for me."

That seemed to be the breaking point for the girl, as she immediately runs back into the room, shutting the door behind her. Raising an eyebrow, you glance at the crazy girl. "Didn't you say that was your room? Why is she running in there, then?"

"You make it sound like that there is only one entrance, or exit, from there." Beckoning you after her, she chuckles. "But that is for me to know, and you to find out. Come along, pet. Even if you are somewhat hideous to look at, a proper garment does help your appearance slightly."

Following along, you can't help but sigh at the assault on what little of your pride is remaining. Again ignoring the urge to claw her in some manner, you trail after her.

------------

The trip up through the burrows takes you back the same way you came down. As you climb up the steep slope up to the level above you, your claws get another workout as they dig into the rocky surface. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Wriggle has no trouble at all with the slope. It does cross your mind that if she built this place, or rather dug it out, then she would be quite used to its extreme structure.

Of course, it still raises the question of how she did it; unless she simply dug it out with her own bare hands.

Once upon level ground, she leads you through the first door on the left, taking you back into the oddly dark room that you had left Mystia in. However, neither the sparrow nor your shirt is there, leaving you with some hope that she was finally up and about. After all, Wriggle did not know about what you had done until just a few minutes ago, so she couldn't have done anything drastic. Could she?

Back in the dining room, you skirt around the table, before exiting through the other side of the room. As you traipse along, Wriggle turns her head about, grinning as she walks forward, not paying a lick of attention to where she is walking. "So, nothing to say, pet? No more boisterous complaints?"

"Not particularly. I haven't seen something that was an affront to human sensibilities for the past minute." Even if you had nothing to complain about, you still couldn't resist indulging the anger within you.

"That's your problem, pet." Smiling widely, she leads you through the left fork in the path before you start to walk up and to the left once again. "You think in the manner of a human. I have yet to break that of you. You simply need to accept your new station in life. After all, it is much simpler to just be a pet, don't you agree?"

"I'd like to think that my life before was simple, too."

Humming to herself, the girl didn't disagree. "Perhaps. But is being a slave that is subjected to the illusion of freedom better off than the slave who has no freedom?" After a few moments during which you decline to respond, she turns back around, before shrugging. "You'll come around, sooner or later. They always do."

Thankfully, the rest of the trip lasts in blissful silence as you claw your way up the slope. After the initial turn, the hallway straightens out before beginning to narrow. Fifty feet or so later, it begins to turn to the left once more, spiraling up towards the ceiling which was rapidly approaching.

Pushing her way through a trapdoor, Wriggle did not bother to hold it open for you as you climb up after her. One bruised head later, you open up the door yourself, staring at the girl ascending above you. Even as she rises into the air next to the latter, you note that she is not using it. "Just great. She can bloody well fly. What next?"

Giving thanks that she was not able to hear that, you grab onto the rungs with your claws and slowly pull yourself up. As you do, you notice that the cold, dark stone around you slowly seems to be giving away towards wood. "Is this some kind of massive tower that I'm in right now? Am I getting closer to the surface?"

Waiting a few hundred feet above you, Wriggle's hands hold onto the latch for the next trap door. "By the way, you might want to close your eyes."

Before you can ask why, she pulls open the door, flooding your senses with a dazzling white.

[ ] Stare into the sun.
[ ] Root in the dirt.

------------

>>26349
Excellent snark there. I approve.
>>No. 26351
[X] Like I'm about to willingly follow her orde- Ohh god, my eyes!
>>No. 26352
[X] Root in the dirt.

I don't know what "Root in the dirt." means but I'll assume it's the smarter choice of letting your eyes slowly adjust to the brightness. Considering that Lucas was impressed by a white shirt a short moment ago, the sun will probably burn our goddamn eyes out without some preparation.
>>No. 26353
[X] Stare at the sun.
>>No. 26355
File 135299397438.jpg - (752.76KB, 900x750, more of a monster than you at least.jpg) [iqdb]
26355
Considering that first vote is closer to this than the second...

[z] Stare into the sun.

------------

For whatever reason, you do not turn away. You do not shield yourself from the light. Ever inch of your body is screaming at you to look away, to shun the shower of heavenly rays. Still, you do not turn back, nor do you blink.

Part of you thinks it is due to your utter abhorrence at the idea of listening to that girl. She has constantly tricked and befuddled you this entire time. Why would you continue to listen to her demands, even for such a simple task? Especially as she is like the insect, eschewing the light in her burrows. You should not be as she is, afraid of what is natural.

It still does not explain why you do not try and protect yourself. Earlier, looking into brightness hurt your eyes. This time, you felt your skull burning. Every single nerve was shrieking in a harmonic cacophony of pain. You wanted to look away. You wanted to hide yourself from that light, the terrible, terrible light. But you just couldn't.

But as your pain carried you into eternity, a new feeling began to pervade you. You began to feel lighter, somehow, as if the light was slowly burning away your curse. Even though the claws and the ins did not rescind, you felt yourself being cleansed by the light.

If you had taken a thousand baths, you would have never felt this clean. Even if you scrubbed yourself raw with iron wool and lyme, you would never have cleared away as much of the dirt.

Before it could proceed any further, the light was cut off by a shadow moving across it. Your pupils, dilated as they were, burned once more as they tried to adjust to the sudden change in luminosity. Even so, you barely felt anything as you were lifted into the air, the darkness grabbing onto your limbs as it pulled you into its bright abode.

"Master, did you bring me food? How nice!" You hear sniffing as the form slowly comes into focus. "Still, smells like bird. Not like me though, so I guess is ok!"

"Wait a second, what is it that you are…" Was this another of the girls? Blinking furiously, your vision slowly swims back together. At the sight that was now before you, grinning toothily, you wish that you had remained unable to see it.

This was no girl that was holding you. It was another monster, just like that crazy girl that calls herself master had been. Black feathers coated much of the girl that you could see, wrapping up her arms and legs so that not even a hint of flesh peeked through. Grabbing your shirt was a set of talons that made you look like you had a set of baby's hands. While yours were still recognizably human with black claws on the end, hers were far spindlier, looking for all the world like a bird's might.

The quick glance at her feet showed you that it was just the same there. There were no shoes that could hope to contain those feet, as massive as they were. One quick swipe from them, you think, and your guts would be spilling all over the floor.

That, however, was not the worst sight for you to see. Her face framed against enormous dark wings and the bright sun behind her is so alien, so avian, you can't help but recoil. The teeth, so prominently shown in that monstrous grin, look ready to separate your flesh from your bone. . "Now, w-wait! I'm not food! I'm not food! Put me down!"

The horrifying face looks at you with beady eyes before tilting its head to the side. "Not food? Then why Master bring you to show to me? Master only comes up here when she has food for me…"

Chuckling echoed through the platform from near the trapdoor. Wriggle's head peeked through the top, grinning as she watches this larger monster torment you. "Now, pet, he is not food. Much too bony, and hardly enough meat. You should have seen how hideous he was before I gave him that shirt to wear." Laughing at the look on your face, she glanced at the monster. "He just wanted to meet all of my precious pets. Can't you tell that he is the newest?"

"He is?" Her voice suddenly begins to bubble with happiness as she bounces forward, this time embracing you. "How wonderful! How should I call you, bird? I'm raven!"

Being crushed against a woman's chest might have been an idle fantasy once upon a time. Being crushed against a monster that doesn't even know her own strength, cracking your ribs in the process? That was hardly something you would ever desire. "I'm.. Lu-cas…"

"You're a lucas? I've never heard of anything like that before. Do they look like merlins? Or what about a crane? You don't look like a crane…" Giggling suddenly, she looks back. "Or are you something like a brown flamingo?"

Alright, if there was ever a bird you had to be, it was not going to be a flamingo. "Hardly… Just call me a lucas. It's… a new species."

"Oh, ok!" Smiling happily, she claps her hands. "How wonderful! I love meeting new birds!"

"It seems like you two would get along well…" Smirking at you, Wriggle shakes her head. "Raven, let down the other bird, I think you're about to choke him to death."

"Sorry…" After a second, she drops you to the ground, leaving you wheezing in agony. "I just get excited. Hrm. Is it food time, though? I think that it is food time. Yes, yes." Walking over towards the edge of the platform, she approaches an oddly familiar bowl that fills you with dread.

However, now that she is gone, you have the opportunity to finally observe your surroundings. You seem to be in the boughs of an ancient tree, so massive is your location. The platform below you is nearly fifty feet across end-to-end, much too large to be from a normal tree.

Considering how you had to climb a ladder to get up here, perhaps this is something unnatural, instead of just a normal tree that happened to grow this large. You turn your eyes up towards the sun again, basking in its warmth.

"Wait a second. If I can see and feel the sun…" As far as you can tell, there was nothing restricting you from leaving the tree branches and running away. Seeing an avenue of escape presented to you, you immediately dash forward in an attempt to breach the perimeter.

However, as soon as you hit the edge, you come into contact with an invisible wall. "Dammit to hell!" No matter how hard you pummel it with your fists or slash at it with your claws, it does not budge one single inch. "And here I thought I had a way out…"

"It isn't such a simple thing, you know." Laughter dances in Wriggle's eyes as she stares at you from the trap door. "Even I could not break that barrier, so ancient is it. Do you really think I'd let my pets know of a way out of their home, unless I allowed them to know? Please, do not take me for an imbecile, pet." She chuckled once more before falling below the door. "That title is reserved for you. Do come once you are done. Just don't take too long."

Grumbling nonsense under your breath, you turn your head back to the forest just out of your reach. "Damn, and here I hoped that I could get out…" Of course, now that you think about it, if you had left now you would have left behind Mystia. Would you have done such a thing for your own safety?

As you ponder that question in your mind, you see leaves in the forest shuffle. Captivated by the rippling foliage momentarily, you shake the sensation off as you continue to look. "There it is again… Is it just an animal, or something else?"

[ ] Wait for it to reveal itself.
[ ] You're bored. Go talk to the… raven?
[ ] Go follow Wriggle. Good birdie. Nice birdie.
>>No. 26356
Alright, now for something I've not mentioned until now. I'm sure you've noticed how I've been changing letters in the vote every time, right? I'm doing that on purpose. The plan is, now that you've reached z, you get one free question. You can ask about anything you want, and I will tell. That is, once a consensus has been had as to what you should ask.

This is also the way I would punish bad ends. If the bad end comes out of nowhere, no penalty. If the bad end is due to a calculated risk, and ends up killing you, I'll knock the letters back a few. If you do something utterly stupid, I'll knock it all the way to zero. I'm just glad I have to explain this now, instead of doing it earlier.

I will be tallying this up separate from story votes, and will make a decision at 12 am Eastern Standard time. So, if there is anything you want to know that will dramatically affect your choices, I'd argue it out now.
>>No. 26357
[X] Wait for it to reveal itself.

[z] How long untill Wriggy stops going easy on you, due to being the "new guy"?
>>No. 26358
[X] Wait for it to reveal itself.
[z] How long untill Wriggy stops going easy on you, due to being the "new guy"?

I Never noticed that alphabet system until you just mentioned it now.
>>No. 26359
[x] You're bored. Go talk to the… raven?

Don't know what question to ask at the moment.
>>No. 26361
File 135300882268.png - (66.98KB, 185x194, red-haired visitor.png) [iqdb]
26361
[-a-] Wait for it to reveal itself.

------------

Well, you do have a little bit of time until Wriggle will demand that you come with her. So, sitting yourself down on your rear, you stare at the tree limbs just out of reach, waiting for whatever might be causing the disturbance to reveal itself.

There you sit for about five minutes, and not once more do the trees shake. "Great. It must have been a figment of my imagination. I might as well go ahead and talk to the raven, and see if she knows anything…" The moment you place your claws on the wood below in order to lift yourself up, you see the limbs move again. Glancing at the raven, making sure that she is preoccupied in doing whatever, you lean near the edge where the border lies. "Hello? Is anyone there?"

Moments later, you see a flash of red over a smock of blue. Two beady eyes inside the tree stare out at you, reflecting brightly enough so that you can see your own image in them. You raise one clawed hand towards the figure in an attempt to beckon them towards you, stopping halfway through when you realize that it might not be the most welcoming sight, considering the state your hands are in.

However, you do not scare the little figure off. Instead, it creeps forward, pushing aside the leaves as it approaches you. As it finally comes into view, you realize how small the figure is. If you measured her, she might be a foot tall at best, and you don't know how much of that would be due to the hat upon her head. The long red hair is remarkable in that it is one single shade. Compared to the multitude of colors in the leaf to her side and the wood underneath her feet, the red hair on her head is static and unchanging, even as the sun is caught in her tresses.

"Am I becoming obsessed with colors? Every time I see something when it's bright, I can't help but to stare…" Shaking your head, you barely notice her raise a small hand to her mouth and giggle silently, her blue dress bouncing up and down as she did. "Pardon me, but can you… hear me?"

Slowly nodding, the tiny girl approached the glass and put a hand on the boundary. Spreading her fingers as wide as possible, you could only stare as you saw the joints separating each finger. "Wait a moment… You're not real, are you?"

Freezing momentarily, the girl slowly shook her head. As she did, you took a closer look, noticing little peculiarities that seemed off. "Glass eyes… wooden fingers… Are you a… doll?"

Again, the girl nodded, before drawing her finger back. As she does, you shake your own head in disbelief. "I can't believe that I'm talking to a doll…"

For the first time you catch a hint of expression on that face as she points at your wings. "Oh, yeah. I suppose I shouldn't be. Talking to a doll is hardly anything compared to turning partly into a bird…"

Once more, the girl holds a hand up before laughing silently. After a moment, she begins to dig into the pockets of her dress, looking for something. "Why are you here, though? I wouldn't think a doll lives in a forest…"

This time she does not respond as she continues fishing for something within her dress. Eventually she finds her objective, pulling out a folded piece of parchment before presenting it to you.

You reach forward automatically, but your hand bangs against the barrier once more. "Sorry, but I can't do anything about that. It's quite impossible for me to reach through…"

The girl stares at you for a second, before smacking herself on the forehead. You hear a resounding wooden thunk as she does, confirming further that she was not just a tiny person. Quickly, she began to unfold the piece of paper, wooden fingers nimbly maneuvering every nook and cranny as she restored it to its original size. After examining it for a moment, she nodded firmly before spinning it about, holding it against the boundary. Your eyes widen in alarm as you see what is written upon the paper.

DO NOT GO TO ALICE'S

"Wait a moment… Who is Alice? I've not met anyone by that name…" Glancing at the doll, who was fidgeting back and forth, you ask, "Why are you here? Are you just here to give me that message…?"

The girl just nods, pointing at the message again. There is a lot more you want to know, especially if someone is coming out of nowhere to warn you about another you have never met. But how could you ask more, when she can't even talk?

[ ] "Who is this Alice? Do I know her?"
[ ] "Are you here to help me, or to harm me?"
[ ] "Why are you warning me about Alice?"

------------

>>26359
Don't worry about it too much. You've got about nine hours before I decide what question I'll answer.
>>No. 26362
[X] "Why are you warning me about Alice?"
>>No. 26363
[X] "Who is this Alice? Do I know her?"
>>No. 26364
>>26362 Here. Gonna change my vote to:
[X] "Who is this Alice? Do I know her?"

The why maybe difficult to explain with the lack of verbalization. Meanwhile, the doll can still nod.
>>No. 26365
[-b-] "Who is this Alice? Do I know her?"

------------

After debating internally, you realize that you can't ask her much. But what can you ask her that doesn't require her to speak? If she can even speak at all? As the doll begins to fidget, absently playing with her red hair, something finally comes to mind. "Well, doll, Who is this Alice?" As the doll's eyes snap onto yours, you continue. "Do I know her at all? Or is she someone…"

The doll stares at you for a few seconds after you ask the question. As it stands completely still, not even moving an inch, you think that it lost all semblance of life, and had become completely inert. However, it suddenly jerks into motion, its head shaking side to side.

"I don't know her…?" The moment you ask, though, it shifts, nodding up and down instead. "Wait, I do know her? I know her, but I don't know her?" Knitting your forehead, you raise a hand to rub at the growing consternation. "Roger that… But how can that be possible?"

The doll just stares at you, waiting for you to say something. Charades may not be your specialty, but hopefully you'll be able to interpret her motions if you ask another question. "So… Let me get this straight. Have I met this Alice?"

Again, the doll shakes her head. "Got you. So, I haven't met her proper. But at the same time, I know her?" A short nod later, and you continue contemplating. So, then, who do I know that is here…" Ticking off on your fingers, you begin to count off whom you know. "There's Mystia, Wriggle, Hatate, the raven over there, Margatroid…"

As the last name fell from your mouth, the doll begins to excitedly nod. "Margatroid? Is she the one that is not quite Alice?" Again, the doll nods. "Why is it that I don't want to go to Margatroid's, then? She invited me over…"

On second thought, maybe that isn't quite the insane thing to be told. After all, you were now living here at Wriggle's burrow thing, and that isn't quite as good. Who is to say that Margatroid would be any better?

However, as if to cut off your rambling, the doll shakes her head. Pointing at the paper again, she nearly pokes a hole through it with her fingers. "Are you saying that I specifically shouldn't go to Alice's, but Margatroid is ok?"

Once more, the doll stills. You have the feeling that she simply isn't sure whether to say yes or no to your question, and so is erring on the side of caution.

Glancing back at the trapdoor, you have the sudden urge to hurry everything up. You do not want to try Wriggle's patience. If it runs out too early, it could prove to be quite bad for you. Still, you need to know if there is truly danger, or if this other girl could help you.

[ ] "Is it dangerous for me to go. Yes or no?"
[ ] "Can we talk later, or in person? What is your name?"
[ ] "Could you help me with Wriggle at all…?"
[ ] Insert own question
>>No. 26367
[X] "Is it dangerous for me to go. Yes or no?" Upon recieving an answer, hurry on your way. You may hate Wriggs, but you would preffer to not get on whatever side of Mystia got on.
>>No. 26368
[X] "Is it dangerous for me to go. Yes or no?"
>>No. 26369
Looks like I will extend another day, which is probably what I should have done from the start. I know there is at least one more, and perhaps even more voters who haven't thought of anything. Especially considering that some may not get the chance to read until the weekend, and have their votes cast. So, consider the z vote extended one more day.

Also, I should point out that I will accept meta questions as well, not just questions directly related to the ongoing plot.
>>No. 26370
Busy busy busy... alright, let's see what I've missed.

[X] "It obviously might be dangerous... but if I'm likely to get something out of it... Is it likely to be worthwhile if I go?"

>one free question
I assume this is about things in the future which might actually be helpful, rather than parts of the past which we're curious about? I mean, you told us the shirts were in the chests quite readily earlier.

Anyway,
[Z] How long until Wriggle stops going easy on you for being the "new guy"?
seems fine. Were this any other story, I might have suggested
[Z] Given that you've mentioned the improbability of rescuing all the girls, it can be assumed that you have thought out at least some of the possible plotlines this story could take; what are the possible routes that you've conceptualized?
but that feels a little too munchkinny for me this time. Have to keep up some sense of the unknown for the horror feel.

>knocking us back to zero for utterly stupid decisions
I hope we never do anything so idiotic as to necessitate knocking us all the way back from letters to numerals.

Also, you know that, given the chance, we're going to Bad End ourselves furiously every time we pass z, right?
>>No. 26371
File 135307714663.jpg - (53.60KB, 401x266, disappearing from where she came.jpg) [iqdb]
26371
[-c-] "Is it dangerous for me to go. Yes or no?"

------------

Eyes darting back and forth, wary of anyone that might yet be listening to you two, you lean closer to the doll girl. She does not back away one inch, either fully trusting of the protection offered by the barrier, or completely trusting the much larger and scarier man with claws and sharp teeth.

Calmly, you whisper under your breath, fully intent on letting nothing be heard by anyone else. Even if Wriggle hadn't shown her face, that doesn't mean she didn't hear what you had been talking about earlier. You want to make sure that this remains private, though. "Doll, please just tell me yes or no. Is it dangerous for me to go?"

Remaining still for the next two or three seconds, the doll just stares at you in return. Instead of nodding or shaking her head, though, she reaches into her dress and pulls out an object wrapped in a white cloth. Gently unfolding it, she does her best not to touch whatever is within, almost appearing to be afraid that it might hurt her.

Eventually, she reveals a large block of charcoal, its numb blunt and rounded from use. Taking the paper back, she places it up against the barrier and begins to write, her small, jointed hands making broad strokes upon her wafer-thin canvas.

You watch her carefully for a minute or two, fidgeting in place. Every time you hear a limb creak or leaves brush together, you nearly jump and glance back at the trap door. Fortunately, she isn't quite in such a hurry, and seems to have expected you to take your time. It is still with some relief that you glance at the words written on the back of the paper.

"IS IT NOT DANGEROUS FOR YOU TO STAY?"

"Cheeky doll…" Even if that was the case, though, she had a good point. You're not going to be safe anywhere, now. It's more of a question if Margatroid's hospitality would be safe enough to worth risking both Wriggle's wrath and anything that she and this… Alice might do to you. "But I see the point you're trying to make. You just believe that it's so dangerous to go to Alice's…"

Wrapping the charcoal up gently in its cloth once more, sliding it into a pocket on the dress, the doll nods to you. At the same time, she wiped her hands on the paper before folding it up and placing it in its own pocket. After staring at you for a few more seconds, she moves her hand to the barrier once more, spreading her fingers as she places her palm on it.

Staring curiously, you do the same with your own hand, meeting the tiny wooden one on the other side of the screen. Looking at her eyes, you see a small glint of happiness as you do as much.

"Wait…" Your eyes widening, you ask a question that suddenly springs to mind. "You're… you're like me, aren't you? You weren't always like this… You used to be human as well."

A hint of fear blooms in the doll's eye as you speak. Withdrawing her hand, she brushes her dress somewhat automatically, ensuring that there is not a speck of dust or a wrinkle to ruin its image. Turning away, she silently departs through the limbs and leaves.

Before she completely gone, though, she glances back one more time. Her brow knitting, she holds up a hand, as if she was going to ask something. However, she eventually lowers the hand, deciding against it. Her eyes now empty once more, she turns back to the forest and fades from sight.

"…That… Now I feel bad." Glancing down at your own hands, feeling your wings beat automatically on your back, you slowly shake your head. "I thought I had it bad enough, here. At least I still feel somewhat close to normal. But they had to be transformed into dolls…" Shivering, you wonder if you could ever survive something like that. That, or whether you would simply go insane.

Still, as much as you wished to mourn the doll's fate, you can't stay for much longer. Taking to your feet, you immediately dash off towards the trapdoor, ignoring the raven as she idly stares out at the sun, oblivious to the world.

------------

"So, I see that my pet took his sweet time…" Naturally, Wriggle was waiting for you at the bottom of the stairs. Grinning at your panicked look, she asked, "So, why take so long? Worried that I might punish you for taking your time?"

"Err…" Idly, you pick off splinters from the soft wood of the tree. As you had climbed down, you noticed in one misstep that you able to take a large chunk of the inside of the tree off, completely by accident. Still, you tried to think of something that might serve as an explanation. "I was… Was too busy looking at everything. Everything seems so different in the light…"

"It does, doesn't it?" Laughing quietly, she begins to walk, leaving you to scurry in her wake. "We're all creatures of the underground and the darkness down here, don't you know? You'll find in time that it is much easier to see underground than it is aboveground. The colors that you will see are more vivid and varied, sharper and crisper. The light, though… The light surely will blind you, given enough time."

As she mused, she turns her glowing eyes back to you. "And yet, you managed to stare back into the light itself. Maybe you're stronger than I thought. Very interesting…" Her smile widened even more. "Very interesting…"

Gulping at the look that covers her face, you refuse to say anything else in reply. Instead, she simply leads you back the way that you came, through the dining room and past the kitchen door. As you tread the rock beside it carefully, you can't help but wonder whatever happened to the injured sparrow.

[ ] Ask Wriggle if you can go check on her.
[ ] Don't say anything, just keep walking.

------------

>>26370

>munchkinny questions
I actually thought that somewhat might ask one of those questions, as part of me wants to go ahead and explain all the possible routes. You are actually correct, though, in that I've got most of the plotlines in my head conceptualized, some better than others. I even know what is going to be happening in the SDM and underground, so I've got a bit fleshed out.

Don't you even dare try and go there, though. We are staying in /forest/.

>stupid decisions
Indeed. Be of note that I would go from arabic numerals, to roman numerals, and then back to letters. And I believe that the voters have been mature enough to give you some leeway. Don't make me regret it.

But yeah. Part of me wants to tell one of the other routes, so that you know all of your options OOC. Would anyone object majorly if I did share any routes, or just the one?
>>No. 26373
[X] Ask Wriggle if she knows how Mystia is.

Asking Wriggle to wait further might be risky. Add to that that she might just be waiting outside and we don't know if we can even speak freely to Mystia without bring overheard. However, we aren't likely to simply brush her off given how we last saw her, so I think this is the best option.

>expounding on routes
I wouldn't mind this. Though the unknown is always an integral part of horror, some small illusion of hope is also beneficial. Storywise, it also gives us some degree of direction such that we aren't going totally blind. Were it formally one of our straight answer questions, I'd worry about how much you'd have to reveal, but in this case I trust your discretion to not say too much (and instead taunt us with tantalizing hints of what could be, thus driving us further into despair).

There should totally be an end where we go full Mind of Steel, apprentice in magic under Alice and return to purge Wriggle's burrow in vengeful flames.
>>No. 26374
File 135308536999.jpg - (493.63KB, 2000x6000, map the second.jpg) [iqdb]
26374
Since it seems everyone is still in accord, I'll go ahead and answer the question.

[ze] How long until Wriggle stops going easy on you for being the "new guy"?

By the time the night is over, you will no longer be the new guy. Judge whether you think it should be worth staying here to experience it, or taking the risks beforehand to escape.

Now, on to the hints I'd like to share… Spoileristic, beware.

There are three routes that have you escaping without leaving the burrow for help. Some are, of course, better than others. You have passed up the clue for one method, and have indirect clues for another.

Mind you that if you leave the burrow to take up Margatroid's offer, you will not be safe from Wriggle just because of that. She can and will find you, if she thinks you are escaping. As for whether she can help you… She can. Just as much as she can hurt you.

Also remember there are allies that you haven't yet met in the burrow and elsewhere. Keep an eye out for them.


Oh, and >>26373
You are operating under the assumption that Alice is a magician in this universe… Pay close attention to what Wriggle called her, long ago.
>>No. 26375
[X] Ask Wriggle if she knows how Mystia is.

Well now we know that Margatroid is a elemental. No idea how this is gonna play out or how bad our odds are. We're gonna need to find out more about the area and the people in this cavern if we hope to get anything resembling a chance.
>>No. 26376
File 135309622140.jpg - (110.58KB, 640x426, not quite what you had expected.jpg) [iqdb]
26376
[-d-] Ask Wriggle if she knows how Mystia is.

------------

Well, it isn't as if you want to leave her alone, but there is no way that you are going to risk angering Wriggle any further. You're still unsure of how long it will be until she stops treating you like a brand new toy, and instead tries to break you over her knee, but you are quite reluctant to hasten that moment's coming.

Instead, as you cast your eyes upon the kitchen's door, you open your mouth and bid yourself to speak. "Do you know what happened to Mystia?"

"Hrm?" Glancing back over her shoulder, Wriggle raises one of her eyebrows, causing an antenna to bounce up and down. "What was that, pet? I thought you might be addressing me, but I did not quite hear…"

You stare at her for a few seconds, which only helps her smile begin to widen. "You don't mean…" Growling under your breath, you look straight into those smirking eyes. "Very well. Master, do you know what happened to Mystia?"

Giggling, the girl turns around, practically skipping straight ahead, walking through the room that Mystia had been left in earlier. "Good, good. I see that you are finally coming around… Or are you?" Letting another chuckle slip her lips, she continues forward, waiting by the door. "But why would you ask me whether that sparrow is doing well? I haven't seen hide nor feather of her since she elected to anger me enough to punish her."

Narrowing your eyes, you felt yourself growling again at the insinuation. "You don't say. So, you couldn't tell me if she is doing well?"

"No, I couldn't. If she's a good girl, she will be busy working in the kitchens right now. As you know, good help is always hard to find… But lots of mediocre help is quite easy to acquire."

Crossing your arms, you glare at the monster of a girl. "So you say. But why are you talking about it like that? What did she do wrong besides misunderstanding your orders?"

"Precisely that. She didn't follow my orders…" Returning the glare, she stops in the middle of the room, her frame a silhouette in the light of the open door. "I am very patient in some respects, pet, but very exacting in others…" Tiling her head, she grins widely, her teeth shining brightly in the dark. "You shouldn't expect me to think like a pitiful human would. Neither should you… You may be a beast as I am, but you are a miserable bird."

So, she is similar to what you are now? You are tempted to ask, but she cuts you off. "But I wonder… Why so interested in that sparrow, pet? Did you see something that you liked?" Oddly enough, her smile finally begins to fade just as her eyes glow brighter and brighter. "It is not the time to mate, so you shouldn't be worrying about that little trifle. Unless…"

Once more, you are glad that your ears no longer exist, so that they do not burn bright red. "It's nothing like that! After seeing her get stabbed and shattered like that, I think I'm allowed to be a little concerned—"

"Enough." You immediately freeze as the girl glares at you, no longer smiling. "I only spare you your own punishment because you are new, and ignorant. Do not try my patience any further today, and I will not rectify the situation." Turning away immediately, the monstrous girl walked through the door, before turning to the left.

Shakily, you follow her, doing your best to tamp down the nervousness that pervades you. "Hold it together, now, hold it together…" Still, you find that the tremors do not quickly escape you as you slowly continue to amble after her.

Once again, you find yourself traveling along the hallway that the small rooms were along, with what you presumed were the pet's chambers. "Now, come. You wish to meet the last of our number here. She is beyond these doors." Wriggle grips the large handle of the door before yanking it open, revealing another room, this one brighter than the hall that you were in.

Walking through after her, you realize that this is the same room you saw earlier. There are artifacts and tomes of all shapes and sizes were scattered everywhere, both ancient and relatively recent. Many pieces appeared to be broke, and only a bit was organized in any event. The area is a disaster zone; you could only imagine what could have created such a disaster.

Eyes turning up, you realize that there was more of this than you realized. It goes on for a few stories, the mess curving about the room as it spiraled to the top. It is not near enough to be close to the surface, at least by your reckoning, but it is still high enough to contain thousands of different pieces.

"Where is that… There you are! Come out stupid little bird…" Glancing over, you see Wriggle digging under a few piles of equipment. In one of her hands is the neck of a bird that looks suspiciously like a crane. Although, you couldn't particularly tell if it was such a bird. It could be a malformed goose for all that you knew. However, if you had known what was going to happen, you might have bothered to study a little bit of ornithology.

Smart comments aside, you still watched with some worry as she drags the bird over by the neck. "This here is the resident ibis. Why don't you say hello then?" The bird remains silent, its eyes closed. You get the distinct feeling that it is either dead, or ignoring Wriggle. "Stupid bird…" However, that didn't last long. After squeezing the neck and eliciting no response, she reaches down with her free hand and stabs it sharply in the side.

"Awww! Awww!" Eyes opening up wide, the bird began to flap its wings in an attempt to get away. "Awww! Awww!" Even so, it was unable to escape Wriggle's grasp, no matter how much it called for help.

Eventually, the bird calmed, sensing no way out of its predicament. "See how easy they are to tame? Sometimes it makes me wish that it weren't so easy…" Chuckling, she let the bird go, letting it lap its way up to the perch in the center of the room. "Of course, that's why I do so love new pets…"

Ignoring its abusive master, the bird finally focused its eyes on you. After a few seconds, during which it sat stone still, it squawked, "Pretty birdie! Pretty birdie!"

You blink idly for a few seconds before slowly waving back at the bird. "Err… Hello?" You blink again when the bird nods, before proceeding to groom itself.

"Amusing, isn't it? I'm afraid that she is lost to our world though…" Her face wide and smirking, Wriggle faces you once more. "At least your world. She seems to have shunned those who can even think. She is just a stupid bird, isn't she?" Laughing to herself, Wriggle begins to stroke the crest on the bird's head.

Idly, you notice that the bird does not lean into the strokes. Even if she isn't conscious as Wriggle says, she certainly doesn't want to bother currying her affection. "So, what is it that you need me to do?"

After a few moments, the crazy girl finally responds. "You said you were a typist of some sort, am I correct? Well, I have books, and I have a lot of things that need organizing." Putting her hand on her chest, she coyly stares up at you. "And since you're such a big and strong pet, would you be a dear and take care of the mess? I haven't had decent help in years…"

"Why can't you do it?" Try as you might, you cannot resist snarking one last time.

"Because, I have something to do. And because you need to be doing something." Smirking, she walks up to you, placing a hand on your chest. "Besides, I need to test out my new pet, and see what good he is for. I know for certain that you aren't that good for looking at… Of course, being a bird doesn't help in that regard."

By now, you'd have thought she'd have come up with another insult. Such petty concerns don't seem to be fazing her, though. "So, go ahead and start tidying up. You won't hear from me for a little bit, but I make sure that good pets are rewarded…"

Well, seems like now is the last chance you'll have to ask any favors. Is there anything you want to ask her, or are you just going to subject yourself to your fate?

[ ] Ask about going to Margatroid's. Emphasize how she said she would do a better job if you went there, instead of the other way around.
[ ] Do nothing except what you're told. You need time to think.
-[ ] Clean up the armor and various crap. At least get everything separated.
-[ ] Sort out the books. It's one thing you are sure you can do quickly.
[ ] Wait until she leaves, and see if you can figure out these wings. You think there's enough room to fly.
[ ] Sneak out once she is done. But go where?
-[ ] Insert destination
>>No. 26377
[X] Ask about going to Margatroid's. Emphasize how she said she would do a better job if you went there, instead of the other way around. If the idea is rejected, tidy up the room as told; you need time to think. Perhapse try and talk to the bird, while doing so.
>>No. 26378
[X] Ask about going to Margatroid's. Emphasize how she said she would do a better job if you went there, instead of the other way around.

This might go badly, but we'll have the chance to at least find one exit from the area.
>>No. 26379
File 13531101621.jpg - (85.99KB, 954x829, beware.jpg) [iqdb]
26379
[-e-] Ask about going to Margatroid's. Emphasize how she said she would do a better job if you went there, instead of the other way around.

------------

Well, it was the last chance you'd probably have to take that girl up on her offer. Considering how she had reacted to the very mention of her earlier, you figure that it would be a long shot. Still, you need to make the attempt, at least in the hope that she would consider it.

"Actually, there was one thing I wanted to ask…" Gulping softly, you look at the girl who is now meeting you with blazing eyes. "Earlier, that girl that you had waiting said that I should visit her if I wanted to have… whatever it is that you wanted of me done."

"So, what of it? She is coming over tomorrow anyway to take care of that little problem, you broken bird." No longer smiling, the girl narrows her eyes and clenches your shirt tightly. "So eager to run away from me, are you? Is your master not good enough, that you instead seek out another to please you?"

Well, things were already off to a horrid start. "The only reason I bring it up is because she mentioned that she'd be able to ensure the job is done correctly. Whatever it is that you want done to me will be done more correctly if she has the available resources…"

The girl glared at you for a while longer, her eyes burning. "I want you to know that this is an incredibly difficult decision. But perhaps this should be for the best. Yes, indeed. Maybe since the ibis knows there is another who could take her place, she might come out of her feathers…"

"So… That means you're actually considering…"

A flat gaze meets yours for a moment. "Go. But remember this, pet…" The short girl began to grow before your eyes, rising higher and higher. You eventually had to look up in order to meet her gaze, which grew more and more alien the further she rises. At the same time, you felt two objects that are long and hairy begin to encircle your waist, even as her hands stayed clenched on your shirt.

"You are mine. Do not think you are at liberty to attempt to escape. For I will find you. Do not think that your body or your life is your own to give away. I have been kind. Do not make me angry. I will return to educating you on your proper place once you return." Tilting her head as it became less human, a grin came over her elongating face. "Besides, this way you shall be ready and healed by then…"

Shivering, you can't help but wonder if you made a mistake by asking that. "Y-yes ma'am."

"That is not how you address me, pet."

Letting your head fall, you look at the ground. As you do, you notice two long and black limbs encircling you. "Thank you, Master, for allowing me this."

"Good boy." In an instant, everything is back to normal. Instead of a monstrosity staring at you, there was the grinning face of that crazy girl inches from your own. "Now, just remember… You like that sparrow, right? If you're not careful, or don't bother to come back… Who is going to pay for your mistakes?"

"Why you…"

"Uh-uh!" Laughing lightly, she lets go of you before bounding to the door. "Wait here! I'll send someone to guide you out! I have much to do… Yes, much to do indeed…"

------------

The next fifteen minutes pass by slowly as you wait for that whomever Wriggle spake of. Idly, you examine some of the books and pieces of junk that lay along the floor. "Some of this is ancient… Where did she get all of this?" Running your hands over a piece of armor, you jerk them away, finding that the mere act of touching it burns your hand. "Don't tell me I'm turning into some kind of werewolf… Heh. Werebird. Not as intimidating, eh?"

As you muse to yourself, you hear the door to the room creak open. Turning about, you see familiar wings framing a familiar person. "Mystia… Are you the one she—"

"Yes, I am." Approaching you slowly, she shoots you a curious look. "You're bolder than I thought. Asking her to let you go?" Shaking her head, she turns around. "Are you going to leave as soon as you're out?"

"I…" Glancing at her, you shake your head. "No. I don't even know where we are. Are we even somewhere on Earth? I couldn't think anything like this would have existed…"

"I am not sure." After waiting for a second, she looks back, beckoning you towards her. "Are you going to join me? The sooner we go, the less time she has to change her mind."

"Alright, sorry." Approaching her, you catch the slightest of frowns as she leads you out, back towards the dining hall. For the first minute or so that she leads you, she says nothing more, maintaining complete silence.

Eventually you grow tired of it, and you speak at the back of her head. "Mystia… Did I say something wrong? It isn't like you to be this quiet."

"How well do you know me? Could you honestly say that I am normally talkative?" Her tone was noticeably sharp, as if she was trying to cut you with the same knives she had used earlier. "Do not presume that you know who I am…"

As you followed her closely through the door that Margatroid had left through so long ago, you found yourself reaching forward for her as you climbed up the stairs. "Mystia, tell me what's wrong. You weren't like this earlier…"

"You… you…" Shaking, the girl eventually came to a stop at the top of the stairs. "You have no idea… what it's like…"

"Mystia." Stepping around her, you grab her shoulders gently. You try to hide the slight amount of hurt that you feel when she winces away from your grip. "Tell me… Just go ahead and tell me what's worrying you."

"I'm… you…" Shaking under her grasp, she sucks in a short burst of air, before letting words fall out of her mouth. "I'm scared. Are you going to… to leave me here? I was alone, for so long. How many years… How many decades has it been?"

At that, you realize that you have no idea how long that she has been here. She is so young looking, but at the same time you wonder if Wriggle could make people younger, considering her prowess at transforming you. "I don't know, Mystia, but I'm not going to just—"

"Aya… Aya was the last one." Sniffing, she shook her head. "She was the last one that was brave enough to try. And yet… She's gone?" Holding her head tightly, she began to shake it to and fro. "Was it a year ago? Was it five? So hard to keep track here… Now, her sister is dead on the inside. Utsuho has always been like that. And that ibis has always been like that. There is no one sane left."

Suddenly, she stares up at you, grabbing at your arms. You bite your lip to hold back the wince from her talons digging into your flesh. "Am I insane? Is this going to be just another nightmare I had from her punishment? Am I going to wake up in an hour or two, and you'll have never… never…"

Not knowing what else to do, you just pull her closer. "I'm real. I'm trapped in this same nightmare as you are. You aren't going insane. You aren't…"

Sniffing, she shakes her head, burying it in you. "You haven't known the things she can do to you, should she care. Even after ages, she will still get to you as if it is the first time…" Sucking in her breath once again, she asked, her voice small and weak, "Promise me… Promise me that you'll come back for me. That you'll come back, and that I won't think this as yet another nightmare. Please, Lucas…"

[ ] Promise her that. You won't be leaving her behind.
[ ] You left her that shirt, right? You'll be wanting it back when you're both gone.
[ ] …That is a promise that you can't make…
[ ] Say nothing. Just hold her tight.

------------

Feel free to write in something sappy and poignant. No speeches.

Also, don't make a girl a promise, if you know you can't keep it.
>>No. 26380
[X] Promise her that you won't leave her behind, or you will die trying. ...You may very well. The thought of what Wriggo might do to her is enough motivation. Also ask how long she has been here.
>>No. 26381
[X] You left her that shirt, right? You'll be wanting it back when you're both gone.

No man bird person left behind.
>>No. 26383
[X] You'll come back for her, you promise.
-[X] Besides, if she ever needs reassurance that you're real, she has your shirt, right?
-[X] And, of course, you'll be wanting it back eventually, so you simply can't leave her behind.

That last part is an attempt at levity, and shouldn't be said seriously.

>more possible allies
This is a given. First thing that comes to mind is: who put that glass dome there?
Now that I think about it, if things are also going down underground, what would it be like without Utsuho...?

>elemental
Was the end of her sentence or was she just interrupted? I mean, it could just as easily have been an adjective as a noun. Also, I don't see how either precludes magical ability, though the latter probably means instinctive casting, which is probably impossible to learn.
>>No. 26384
File 135311577026.jpg - (943.94KB, 848x1184, because I do not have enough chances to use cute p.jpg) [iqdb]
26384
[-f-] Promise her that. You won't be leaving her behind.
-[-f-] You left her that shirt, right? You'll be wanting it back when you're both gone.

------------

"I promise, Mystia." Pulling back, you look into her eyes, placing one claw under her chin. "If I find a way out of here before I return… I'll come back for you. I promise."

"Even if there is a chance Wriggle will try and stop you?" Looking in her eyes, you see that she is trying to hold back the tears, not to mention the fear that something might happen. "What if she does her d-d-damndest to try and stop you?"

"I still promise. Not leaving without you." Even if you were a pencil pusher before, and didn't care about any other… You couldn't ignore this. Not when you actually had a chance to make a difference.

Still, even as you promise, you see the doubt in her eyes. "Besides, if you need any reassurance that I am real, you still have the shirt from earlier. Right…?"

Slowly nodding, you saw a blush start to come across her face. "Right… I do have that…" Pointedly avoiding your eye, she stares at the back of the staircase. As she bares her neck, you see the hint of a familiar collar beneath her robe-thing. At the same time, she begins to play with something beneath the loose collar of said robe.

Turning slightly red yourself, you hurriedly change the subject. "So, let's go, right? The sooner we get away, the less time she has to change her mind."

"Right, right." Grabbing your hand, she pulls you out of the staircase, and into the next hall. Although to call it a hall would be a severe misnomer.

What is before you is practically a throne room, hundreds of feet long and towering high into above you. For the first time, you see a recognizable architecture, instead of featureless tunnels and caves. A long, worn stone path leads out from the base of the throne, behind which you had emerged from. Noticeably absent from the room, though, is any form of tapestry or carpet. Instead, the whole place is bare stone, with a few hints of metal where braziers had at one point been placed inside recessions.

"…Wow. This place is enormous…" Staring around at it, you slowly shake your head. "She didn't build this, did she?"

"I don't think so…" Tugging earnestly, she pulls you through it as quickly as possible. "I don't like it here, though. It just feels… wrong. Do you feel it?"

Quietening yourself, you try and do just that. "…I don't think so. But I'm so unused to any of this…"

Looking back at you, she gives you a misty hint of a smile. "That might be it. I do hope that you never do have to get used to it…"

In your hurry, it doesn't take long at all to reach the other side of the cavernous room. "…Up through here is the surface. If… If you were invited, there should be someone up there ready to take you to her home…"

"Right." Looking back at the girl, you squeeze her hand once before letting go. "Remember, I did promise that I would be back. So don't you worry."

Starting at your observation, the girl looks away. "Yes. You did promise…" Again, she began tugging at something under her sleeve, pointedly not looking. "Just… don't take too long, ok?"

"I won't." That was something that you couldn't honestly promise, but you couldn't help yourself. Still, a thought crosses your mind as you begin to turn to the threshold. "Oh, and Mystia? I'll be wanting that back, eventually. So, I'll have to make sure that you come with me…"

You don't know exactly why you said it, but it definitely caused a rather mighty blush on the girl's face. Still, she did chuckle as she fluttered away, her wings flapping to and fro. "B-be safe out there, alright? I'll get mad if you don't come back, ok?"

"Alright Mystia. I'll stay safe…" Unsure of what else to say, you watch her slowly disappear back into the darkness. Sighing, you turn back around and start climbing stairs, shielding your eyes as the light grows brighter and brighter. Eventually, you find yourself spotting the greenery of the forest along with the blue sky filled with clouds.

Once you set foot outside, you glance around, trying to recognize anything in particular. However, there is nothing to see. You are in the middle of a thick wood, with no indication for as far as it is possible for your eyes to see of any road or trail. Even that large tree you were in earlier is invisible, so thick are the trees.

Glancing back, you see the entrance to the burrow is just that: a burrow entrance. It is just a mound of rocks surrounding a hole in the ground, with steps leading into the abyss. "…Alright. Well, what do I do now? How would I get to…"

As your words trail off, you hear a rustling in the woods. Turning your head, you see a familiar redheaded doll staring at you, covering her mouth in shock. It seems that she hardly expected you to come, if she was indeed the one waiting.

[ ] What do you say to her/ask of her?

------------

>>26383
>underground
That is a story for another time. We're staying in the forest for now. Needless to say, though, it would be different.

>what she is
I emphasize that more as an element I'm carrying over. Remember when I mentioned I'm using another series as some major inspiration? That is one of the major things that I am using… Although, the one who kidnapped him was a much greater hint.
>>No. 26385
[X] Before we get to the topic of how screwed over I am, what's your name?
>>No. 26389
[X] Hello, shall I only speak in yes or no questions?
>>No. 26390
>>26389
This is a good point.
[X] Introduce yourself briefly, giving your name (as it's only polite), before clarifying how you could best converse with her.
>>No. 26393
File 135316433955.png - (779.23KB, 509x768, cant see anything but the trees.png) [iqdb]
26393
[-g-] Introduce yourself briefly, giving your name (as it's only polite), before clarifying how you could best converse with her.

------------

Well, just because you were headed off to a possible fate that was somewhat painful or terrifying doesn't mean you couldn't extend proper courtesy to the girl. Or doll. Such distinctions were hardly clear when it was perfectly reasonable for people to turn into birds. Not to mention the inkling that you had in your mind that it was possible to do more than that.

"So… I've come." For all your intentions, you weren't the most eloquent of speakers. Still, you offered a hand to the tiny doll, just as you might to anyone else. "My name is Lucas. I don't suppose you're able to speak, or if we still have to converse the way we did earlier?""

The doll continued to stare at you for a few moments, before it slowly craned a finger back at the entrance to the burrow. Its eyes were large and questioning, and you needn't pantomime any further to understand what it was asking. "I know that it's dangerous to go. But you said it was dangerous to stay, too, wasn't it? Besides, I've got to take the chance… There's someone waiting for me to help them. If there is any way for me to help her…"

The girl blinks for a second, before nodding shortly. Walking forward, she grabs your proffered hand with her own wooden one, giving it a quick shake before hugging your thumb.

"Err, nice to meet you, too. I don't suppose that you're the one that's to guide me though?" After receiving her nod in response, you ask, "So, should you lead me, or is there something else…?"

Hardly the most convenient method of communicating, but at least she understands your every word, crystal clear. Looking up at you, still holding onto your thumb, she points up at the side of your head.

Looking about, you squint, looking into the distance. "Is there something there? Is that where her home is…? You don't see anything but treetops in that direction. When you look back down at the girl, you see a cross expression on her face. "…That's not what you meant, is it?"

Shaking her head shortly, she points at your hand, and then at your shoulder. Thinking for a moment, you nearly smack yourself in the head. It is fortunate that you check yourself, considering the great claws that are on your fingers. "You want to ride on my shoulder, is that it? I can see how it would be hard for you to keep up with me…"

The doll nodded again before holding her hands up. Gently, doing your best not to rip her dress with your claws, you pick her up and place her on your shoulder. Even as you do, you wonder how she is going to stay up. It isn't as if you even have ears for her to hold on to.

This hardly stops her, though. Digging her hands into your feath- hair, she seems able to hold on well enough. Even if you fear that a few may be plucked, it still wouldn't be that great of a travesty. "So, are you ready to go? Just point me on my way…"

Out of the corner of your eye, you see a wooden finger pointing forward, to the left when your back is facing the burrow entrance. Sighing, you begin to make your way through the woods, not saying much at all.

"I suppose it would be too much to ask your name, would it? If you have no way to say it…" Although you can't see, you feel the dolls hair as she shakes her head. "…No then? But how could you tell me?"

At that, she tugs on your collar. Stopping like a horse chomping on its bit, you glanced up at her. "What is it?" The doll sighs again, before tugging on her own collar. "Oh, I see. You have it written on your dress. I gotcha." Well, that's the question. Although, should you take the time, or quickly hurry along as fast as you can go? You could always ask Margatroid its name later.

[ ] Ask if it's alright to look now.
[ ] Tell her to not worry, you need to keep going.

&

[ ] Yes or no question to ask on the way.
[ ] Stay silent, and proceed with all alacrity.
>>No. 26394
[X] Ask if it's alright to look now.
It hopefully shouldn't take excessively long.

[X] On the way, quick round of 20 questions to work out what the difference between Alice and Margatroid is.
is what I can think of. I expect there should be better suggestions, but I'm throwing it out. We want to be prepared for whatever awaits us.
I want to try to find out how she ended up as a doll, but that's significantly harder to determine via yes/no questions. Possibly via wild guessing with varying intensities of shake/nod for colder/warmer and wild gesticulations on a key phrase or concept. Still likely to take too long, though.
>>No. 26395
[X] Ask if it's alright to look now.
[X] Yes or no question to ask on the way.

When you're all at risk of turning into mindless beasts, the small gestures of humanity mean quite a lot.
>>No. 26396
File 135318601391.jpg - (146.71KB, 700x600, home all alone.jpg) [iqdb]
26396
[-h-] Ask if it's alright to look now.
[-h-] On the way, quick round of 20 questions to work out what the difference between Alice and Margatroid is.

------------

Well, you imagine you've got plenty of time to get there. Besides, she never requested for you to arrive at a particular point in time or not. For that matter, you've no idea what the time is, so she'll have to forgive you if you were supposed to come earlier.

So, you tilt your head to the side. "Do you mind if I look? It would be odd to keep calling you… well, you. Or doll." Tilting her head to the side, the doll nods shortly. Slowly sliding down into your arms, she tilts her head forward as she bares her neck towards you.

You can't help but stare in amazement, now that you take a closer look after sweeping aside the red hair. Even though you knew that she is a doll… It is quite amazing to see the joints that connected the head to the neck. To have no skin, no muscle, nothing that should exist is quite odd. At least you were still mostly human.

Shaking yourself out of your musing, you glance at the collar of the short. Stitched upon the collar in minuscule detail was a cursive word that you had quite a bit of trouble understanding. "What is this… Can't quite read it…" After staring at it for a few seconds, the threads begin to shift before your eyes, changing from flowing script to block print. "Amsterdam… Amsterdam? Like the city?"

Before you, the doll slowly nods. "That's an interesting name. Named after a city like that?" In front of you, the doll doesn't move, sitting as still as you might expect a doll to be. "I take it that's not what your original name was, is it?"

Amsterdam is still for a few moments more, before slowly shaking her head. "…I'm sorry… I can't imagine what that was like. At least… At least I still have my identity." Placing your other arm around the doll, you squeeze it gently. Even if she couldn't feel it, she might appreciate the gesture.

A few moments later, she grips the nearest finger of yours, squeezing it gently. "So, should we go ahead and head out? Or do you mind if I ask a few questions?"

Turning her head about, Amsterdam stares at you. Her shoulders shrug for a moment, before leaning back into your chest. "Alright… Well, let's walk on. Tell me if I'm getting too off of track. This way, maybe you can help me make sure that I don't do anything too terribly stupid."

Immediately, the doll points forward, into the thickest portion of the woods ahead. You begin to amble that way, paying particular attention so that you do not trip and spill the payload in your arms. "First things first… Is Alice the same person as Margatroid? You put such a large emphasis on not going to Alice's, but at the same time it's alright to go to Margatroid's…"

To the first of your questions, Amsterdam quickly nods. "So, they are different people then? I take it that they live together, though? I don't see how it would be worrisome if they lived in separate houses." Again, she nodded to you, before pointing to the right as you passed yet another tree.

"So, two people living in the same house… Why is it that I don't need to watch out for Margatroid, though? Is Alice even more powerful than Margatroid? Not that I know what she is capable of in the first place."

Amsterdam is still for a moment before shaking her head, squeezing your thumb once again. "So, she isn't more powerful?" You receive another nod. "Right then. But she is more worrisome. Does that mean she is more likely to do something, or is she just… unstable?"

This time, she nods twice. "So both, or some combination of the two? Great, just great." Shaking your head, you push your way through another clump of trees. "So, should I watch out for… her…" As you turn yet another corner, you find yourself entering a clearing in the middle of the woods.

In the middle of the clearing is a house, sitting all by its lonesome. Oddly enough, it is quaint and rather normal looking, if not a bit archaic. If you would have called it anything, it would have been a small cottage that is perfectly at home in the woods, away from civilization.

You find that you're relaxing at the sight of something normal. Perhaps this would be easier than you had feared. The girl in your arms doesn't seem to share that opinion, though. Amsterdam had once again become as still as a block of wood, her eyes snapping to a figure on the porch.

This time, you recognize the girl standing there. Her white shawl covering her shoulders, Margatroid lifts her skirt just slightly as she steps onto the clearing proper. The moment you walk comfortably close to her, she opens her mouth. "I see that you decided to come, indeed." Tilting her head just slightly, she looks straight into the doll's eyes. "I see Amsterdam has become comfortable with you."

You do not know the expression that might have been on the doll's face, but by how she immediately slipped out of your hands and dropped to the ground, it was evident that she feared something."Well, she did have to guide me. And she is light enough that it was easy for me to carry her. That way, I needn't worry about her keeping up with me."

"Of course, of course…" Still, she stares down at Amsterdam, clucking her tongue. "Although, one does wonder why she did not simply fly. She is certainly capable of such an action…" Before you, Amsterdam's head was bowed, and you had the feeling that if she had the ability, her ears would be as red as her hair.

You don't say anything though, as Margatroid beckons you onward. "If you enjoyed her company so much, perhaps I should tell Alice. She does love it when she has someone new to play dolls with. You have no idea how delighted she would be to hear that Amsterdam got along so well with another." Turning her back, she began to walk into the house. "By the way, would you care for that tea I mentioned earlier? Or are you already sated?"

Well, considering that you haven't eaten a bit since you woke up whoever knows how long ago, you could probably do with some food. Still, you didn't answer at first, glancing down at the doll in front of you, wondering what her true motive in this might be.

[ ] Agree to the tea. She has never shown to be truly hostile to you, after all. And you have to eat something.
[ ] Decline it. You'll survive… on whatever little you have in your stomach.
>>No. 26397
[X] Agree to the tea. She has never shown to be truly hostile to you, after all. And you have to eat something.
>>No. 26398
[X] Agree to the tea. She has never shown to be truly hostile to you, after all. And you have to eat something.
>>No. 26399
[X] Agree to the tea; she's been only cordial to you so far, so you'll trust her not to try to pull anything like Wriggle did earlier.

It'd be impolite to refuse when offered. Hopefully it'll just be tea that's in the tea.
>>No. 26400
File 135320326519.png - (582.74KB, 981x691, all I wanted was a cuppa.png) [iqdb]
26400
[-i-] Agree to the tea. She has never shown to be truly hostile to you, after all. And you have to eat something.

------------

Nodding absently, you reply. "That would be lovely, actually. …I haven't had anything to eat, since…" Well, since a long time ago, that's for sure. You don't even know how long it has been since those sunflower seeds…

Automatically, you shudder at the thought. "Don't even think of that… Just keep going along." Slowly letting your claws relax, you begin to walk after the doll, who had floated to the air shortly after Margatroid's admonition. "So, Amsterdam, why didn't you fly?"

Steadfastly refusing to look at you, the doll continues floating forward through the propped door. "I suppose I'll have to wait for you to tell me." Sighing, you follow after her into the dim light of the house in front of you.

Once inside, you notice that the inside is uncharacteristically bright, considering how dark it was compared to the outside. Paying it no great mind, you look around at the papered walls, all of which are lined with a great deal of trinkets. Those spots that are bare from wooden shelves are instead bedecked with portraits, each containing a subject staring demurely at you as you gaze upon them.

Turning your head from the pictures on the wall, you finally look at the rest of the sitting room. It all seems very quaint, just as the house itself is. Dark wooden furniture surrounded by dusty couches, just a little too close to quite be called cozy.

It is about at this point that you realize how large you are. When you were in the burrow there was never a place that you felt cramped or enormous. Here though, you felt the walls closing in on your wings, and just how fragile the furniture would be when under your claws.

Fortunately, you do not find yourself possessed by any urge to crush or destroy now, so you find it merely difficult to maneuver around. You consciously have to keep the wing muscles taught, folding them as flat as possible against your back.

In front of you, Amsterdam has set down on the table, before pointing at a proffered chair that had been nudged to the side. "Am I to sit here, then?" At her nod, you take the offered seat with a sight.

"You never do know how much you'll miss this until it's gone." After the most comfortable seat being straw or stone, the cushion below you is quite lovely. As you do relax, you almost miss the look of hurt on her face. "…Amsterdam? What's wrong?"

The doll immediately looks away, her red hair hiding her eyes. Before you can question further, you hear another door open to your left. Looking forward at the sound, you see two blurs come through. Your eyes immediately begin to track the blurs, which eventually resolve into red and blue dressed dolls, these with blonde and brown hair, respectively.

Once over the table, both slowed down before setting their cargo on it silently. A teapot and a covered plate now stood before you, their contents hot and steaming still. Before you could get too good of a look, though, you heard more movement through the door.

Finally, Margatroid had made her return, carrying with her two cups in her hands. "I see that you have made yourself comfortable. Good. I would have hated to deal with an awkward guest who did not know how to compose himself." Internally you release a small sigh as you cut your eyes toward Amsterdam.

She, however, does not return the look. Instead, she floats up into the air, joining the other dolls. Margatroid herself does not pay them any attention, smoothly taking a place on the seat across from you, setting the cups onto the table as she did. "It is not often that I actively invite a beast into my home. At least you seem to not have fallen prey to your instincts, at least as of yet."

"It's not as if I've been in this situation for very long." Folding your claws across your lap as best as you could, you look at the cold girl with the swirling, dead eyes. "And many of the things that Wriggle asks of me are repulsive… I couldn't do what she says with a clear conscious."

"A conscious…" Staring at you, still having not filled either cup, she speaks. "That is not something that a Youkai has. Nor is it something that most of those Changed keep."

Tilting your head, you try to read her body language. However, there is very little to speak of. At least, there is very little besides the obvious stillness. "You don't give much away. Is that a good thing from your opinion, or a bad thing?"

Shrugging slightly, she reaches forward, lifting the teapot and pouring into one cup. "It is merely a thing, as you say. Intrinsically, it is neither good nor bad, in my opinion." Pausing once the one cup had reached the brim, she began pouring the other. "However, if that is what keeps your mind in charge, rather than your instincts, I would commend it as a good thing."

"You keep speaking of my instincts. What is it that you expect me to do?"

Becoming still for one instant, Margatroid resumes the pouring shortly thereafter. "You are a beast, pure and simple. See you not those wings on your back and claws on your hands?" Pursing her lips, she offers you one of the cups, sliding it across the table on a saucer. "It is in your nature now to act as a beast. To concentrate on feeding, sleeping, and mating. Although, as you said, you have been in that body shortly. It shouldn't be long until you start feeling it further."

Shivering, you think back to all the urges you've had since you've been like this. None the least of which had been those to kill Wriggle. Could those have been more than just your anger manifesting itself? "…What about urges to kill another?"

Still staring at you, she slowly nods. "Which other is it that you wish to sink your claws into?"

Finally unfolding your hands, you stare back at her as your left hand grips the armrest. "You should be perfectly well aware of which one, Margatroid."

"Indeed." A hint of a smirk shone upon her face. "I should not insult your intelligence so rashly, should I?" Before you could say anything, she continues, her hands slightly moving to emphasize every point. "That is probably your instinct to feed manifesting yourself. Wriggle is your natural prey, after all. That combined with your personal feelings probably amplify it to noticeable amounts."

"Last I checked, I don't eat people." Mentally refraining from biting your lip, you glance away. "I may not quite be human, but that's not what I eat."

"No, but birds eat bugs, do they not?" Shaking her head, she insists, "Go ahead and drink. I brought you in for tea, did I not? You should have it."

Cautiously, you look down at the cup. "I see." Raising your right hand towards the piece of fine china, you carefully slide you claws through it. "I suppose this won't quite be as easy as I'm used to it."

"I wasn't aware that drinking tea was quite as common on the other side." Still, Margatroid nods slightly. "However, you are correct. You will not have quite as easy of a time using standard conveniences."

Not bothering to reply, you raise the cup to your lips, looking at it. It seems quite simple brown and clear. There is no sweetener that could be seen within it. All the same, there is no odd smell, as far as you can tell. Not that you're the biggest connoisseur of tea in the first place, so there is no way to easily tell.

Raising your eyes towards Amsterdam, you look for any indication that it might be alright. She does not look at you, but nods nearly unnoticeably after a moment. Taking that as a cue, you place the cup to your lips and taste a drink.

Immediately, you nearly cough it out. The tea was bitter to your tongue, nearly causing you to gag. However, after taking a sip, you level your gaze at the wall beyond. There is no pain that shoots through your body. No great agonizing that wreaks your body. No urges to do something violent or bestial. No desire to suddenly start singing about unbirthdays.

Sighing, you close your eyes. "A normal cup of tea, then? That was… bitter."

"Would you have taken a drink if you saw anything in it?" Clucking her tongue once more, she takes a sip from her own cup. "Besides, you do not need the sugar or the milk. It would not do well to excite you when you need to calm your instincts, yes?"

"I suppose…" Again, you take another sip from the cup, completely draining the shallow contents. "Certainly would do a better job of keeping me awake than coffee…" At least you know that this is safe enough. You're not falling asleep, and you're not suddenly feeling tired. "At least it's good to know that I don't have to worry about this doing anything to me—"

Before you can finish that thought, you hear a bang upstairs, causing you to jump suddenly. Your claws clench together just slightly too hard, and the handle breaks off the cup. Said cup proceeds to fall to the ground, shattering.

As you restrain yourself from cursing outlaid, Margatroid glares at the ceiling. "That must be the little one making a ruckus. My apologies." Looking back at you, she frowns just slightly, her eyes still blank when she looks at you. "See how difficult it is to keep yourself under control? Just a little slip, and you find yourself breaking something you'd rather not."

"I can see that…" Shaking your head, you bow down to gather up the pieces of china. "This will be quite annoying. Just when I thought I found something safe…"

"Perhaps so." Giving you a close look, she sighs. "Would you like a replacement that you can more easily handle?"

[ ] Yes, that would be lovely
[ ] No, thank you.
[ ] Drink from the teapot Yeah, no.
>>No. 26401
[X] Yes, that would be lovely. She must have been prepared for this, and had a more sturdily made cup at the ready.
>>No. 26402
[X] Yes, that would be lovely
>>No. 26403
[X] Yes, that would be lovely.
As a note, we should eventually ask her at an appropriate time what Wriggle intends to pay her for her services.

Also, inb4 we get a bird bowl.
>>No. 26404
File 135321127985.png - (423.73KB, 490x563, chop chop.png) [iqdb]
26404
[-j-] Yes, that would be lovely

------------

Smiling slightly at the girl, you nod to her. "That would be nice. It'd probably be best to use a cup that'd be easier to handle." Gently, you lay the china on the table, nicely out of the way.

"I was referring to something more… efficacious." As you look at her curiously, Margatroid looks at the dolls for the first time. "Amsterdam. London. Be sure to hold him steady."

Eyes jumping open, you immediately move to stand up. "Margatroid, what are you planning to—" Before you can completely rise to your feet, though, you find wires wrapping around your hands. "What is going on here?"

"I am simply giving you your wish. You wish to have a replacement that is easier to handle, after all." Sighing, she strolls around the table towards you. "You do not have to suffer as a beast, after all. There are plenty of alternatives."

Glaring at her, you attempt to stand up once more. However, you find that your feet have been bound up, attached to the chair. "And what alternative is this? Are you going to work your magic and turn me into… into…" You look at the dolls standing by your side as realization dawns in your mind.

"No, I do not." She cuts off your train of thought while she rubs a hand over your own. You shiver at how cold her skin is, feeling nearly as dead as her eyes look. "I will give you a little taste, but nothing more. After all, you did not express desire to have yourself completely improved, did you?"

"No, I did not. I did not ask for this, either."

"But you did." Leaning down, she turns your head towards her with yet another cold and clammy hand. "You hate what it is that you have become. You so dearly wish to go back to normal. You wish to become human." Ever so slowly, Margatroid's lips began to twist. As they did, her face began to stretch as a horrible rictus set upon it. "I can help you there."

Turning towards the blonde doll, she spoke quickly. "Hourai. Fetch your cleaver. We shall do this quickly." One moment later, she turns back toward you. "Do not worry. There shall be no change. I shall even do just one, so you know how much of a benefit it is. London, go and fetch a hand. Do not take too long, as I do not want my tablecloth stained too much."

The brown-haired doll immediately disappears from her side, having only reappeared once she was done binding you. At the same time, Amsterdam floated behind Margatroid, pointedly not looking at you. Her tiny hands clenched together while her eyes shot glances at the back of Margatroid's head.

"No worries, friend. This shall only sting but a moment." Without looking, she waves on one of the returning dolls. You gulp as you saw it clutching a large blade nearly as big as itself.

"Why? What if I say no?"

"Technically, it doesn't matter, even if I was one to allow you to renege upon your word." Looking down at you with pitying eyes, she grabs your shoulder. "Your master has given me permission to do what is necessary for the improvements she desires, after all."

As the blonde doll wielding a blade draws closer, you begin to panic. Clenching your claws together, you yank at the wires, hoping that you can pull yourself out of their hold. Unsuccessful there, you instead attempt to break the chair itself, hoping that it would help. "Let me out, please!" I will be fine otherwise, just let me go…" Seeing that it wasn't helping your case, you begin to awkwardly flap your wings in an attempt to free yourself.

Clucking her tongue, Margatroid frowns before spinning her head towards Amsterdam mechanically. "He is starting to get rowdy; instincts are taking over. Bind his wings before he damages too much."

The doll does not move, still resolutely staring away from you. "Amsterdam. Bind his wings."

Biting your lip, you hold out hope that the girl listens to you instead of Margatroid. You pray that she disobeys, and at least does nothing to help her. However, she slowly turns toward you, her head bowed and eyes covered by her hair. As she floats behind you, you softly curse under your breath as wires encircle your wings and pinch against tender nerves.

Shaking noticeably by now, you look up at Margatroid. "Please don't do this… Please."

Clucking her tongue, she looked up and away from you, smiling at something unseen to you. "A left hand then? Good. The left it will be." Waving her hand over your left claws, you watch as the wires fall away. Before you can attempt to free yourself, though, her right hand grabs your own. With unimaginable strength in her slight frame, she pulls your hand forward and secures it on the table, where wires once again bind you.

"Trust me, friend. You will appreciate my gift in time. Especially as you will become less of the beast, and more of the world." Ignoring the growing distress on your face, she ushered forth the blonde doll. "Hourai, come here. We shall do this now."

Your breathing begins to shorten as the doll takes its place straight in front of you. Mechanically, it raises up the cleaver, its wicked edge gleaming in the light. "Don't… don't do this. Please don't."

"Beast, please save your cries. This is for your own good." With that, she nodded towards the girl. "Do it."

The doll stays still for a moment as its head turns toward yours. Underneath that hair, you finally see this dolls eyes. "…You are…" Underneath those tresses were not the dead eyes of Margatroid and Amsterdam. Those eyes were alive.

Still, that didn't matter. The doll looked away shortly thereafter. You began to hyperventilate as the blade slowly descends upon you hand. You feel it pierce the skin and the bone and the skin once more. This was too much for you to take. So your body decided to act like the human you still believed you were. It shut down, saving you from the pain.

Chop.
>>No. 26405
Eheh~ I've been looking forward to this one! I had hoped that nobody would ere from the path leading up to this moment.
>>No. 26406
...that's not a bird bowl. That's not a bird bowl at all!

Well done keeping us on our toes. Are you going to leave us to stew for a while to let it sink in?
>>No. 26408
>>26406

Pretty much. Kinda curious what the general thoughts on where to go from now is.
>>No. 26409
>>26408
But we don't even know exactly what's happened to us yet, nor Margatroid's intentions towards us from now on, which is particularly important given that we're basically at her mercy right now.

Gah, the wait is going to be unbearable, particularly if we have to keep spoilering the discussion for those who haven't read the update yet. So, just as planned?
>>No. 26411
>>26409

I tried to not chuckle too much. But yes. Besides, isn't it important to dissect what you do know, and see how it might help you from here?

The lack of information is deliberate. You will see what happens by the time the next update occurs.
>>No. 26412
Well considering what just happened, Lucas may need more of a firm grasp on the situation. We know that a fairly decent number of dolls within the household were former humans. At this point it seems fairly normal for youkai to have slaves. The question here is why does wriggle insist on having slaves that are the natural predator of her race?
>>No. 26413
>>26412
Perhaps exactly that? Who better to enslave in order to show your power and stroke your own ego than your natural predators? Or perhaps she enjoys breaking in her pets, and the instinctive hostility they have towards her makes them put up more resistance?
>>No. 26414
>>26413
I can buy those reasons, but I can't help but think we're overlooking something. For one thing that doesn't explain the presence of the Raven and the Crow. Also, where and whom did she receive the sunflower seeds from? I know it's a bit too soon to assume thing at this point, but I doubt Wriggle has powers that extend to magical sunflower seeds. The only other person I associate with sunflowers make this more complicated.

Finally on a completely unrelated matter, is the Raven always above grove because she'll always mistakenly fall asleep underground assuming it's night?

>>No. 26416
>>26414

Why is it that the Raven and the Crow are out of place? They are birds that feed on insects, after all.

And no, that is not the reason she is above ground. Consider that we have not seen much of the day to day life.

Also, remember to sage.

>>No. 26417
File 135325353614.png - (400.88KB, 492x804, yes the pic is not wood work with me.png) [iqdb]
26417
Darkness begins to melt away as your mind slowly reignites itself. Sparks flash as each piston within you begins firing, and each mental gear catches and begins to turn around. Your eyes slowly begin to ratchet open, letting the light from the sun fill your mind once more.

A groan slips your lips as you bring your right hand to your head. "Where… where am I?" Blinking a few more times, you stares at the room as it slowly swims into focus. Seeing the papered walls surrounding the melted glass of a window, you eventually remember where it is that you are. "Wait a second… This is a cottage? Then I'm still… Still in Margatroid's house…"

Your eyes shoot open as you immediately sit up. "Her house. That means, did that really happen? Did I really…" Trailing off, you find yourself afraid to say anything, and even more afraid to take a good look at your hand. Still, you know you have to. You have to make sure that it wasn't a dream. Trembling, your raise your arm up and look at your left hand.

It was no dream.

On the end of your left arm is not your old hand, nor is it the set of claws that you have become used to. Instead, there is a jointed monstrosity attached to a wooden stump. Trembling, you move one of your fingers on your left hand, and it moves. You clench your left fist, and it clenches.

"This isn't right…" You can't quite describe how it feels. Or rather, how it doesn't feel. You don't feel muscles clenching, skin pulling, blood pumping through. It's just a block of wood, as far as you can tell. And you can't feel a block of wood.

It may move in sync with your mind, but this is not your hand. Shaking harder, you grab the stump on the end of your hand and begin to pull. "Get it off… Get it off! This isn't right. This isn't my hand…" You'd take being a monster any day over being reduced to this.

Surprising even yourself, the majority of the stump easily pops off, sending the facsimile bouncing off to the side. "That's… That's it? It just pops off?" Sighing in relief, you look down at the stump on your arm. "Now, if there was any way to get my old hand back… Anything would be better than this." Moments after you say that, though, you bite your lip, knowing that there is probably something that would indeed be much, much worse.

Clenching your fist, you turn yourself about on the soft platform you are sitting on. "Wait, this is a bed, isn't it? It's certainly not a couch…" Had the concept grown so strange that you simply not even bothered to think about it? "It's just a perfectly normal bed in a perfect normal room…" Glancing at the door, your voice starts to trail off once again. "With a perfectly normal component of dolls staring me down…"

Right before you was a troop of dolls, all lying silently on a shelf, their eyes closed. You glanced along the many that were there, recognizing a few of their heads. "Amsterdam… And I think it was… London and Hourai?" Pausing for a second, you shrug. "I've never heard of a city called Hourai… Doesn't sound normal. Then again, I've never heard of youkai before, either."

Clenching your hands again, you hear movement on the floor. Looking down, you freeze as the wooden fake still mirrors your every movement. "No… Get it away… Get it away!" Quickly darting forward, you kick the hand under the bed, where you can still hear it shake and shudder with every movement of your own hand. "Crap crap crap… This isn't right. This isn't right. Could she be even worse than… than Wriggle?"

Glancing at the dolls, you wonder if it might be possible to rouse them. You need answers. You need so many answers, and you need them now.

[ ] Wake Amsterdam
[ ] Wake Hourai
[ ] Wake London
[ ] Wake a completely random doll
[ ] Don't wake any

&

[ ] What is it you want to ask?

You can pick more than one of the first option.
>>No. 26418
[X] Wake Amsterdam.

[X] Thank her for the effort of resisting, and ask if there's any way at all to get your old hand back.
>>No. 26419
[X] Wake Amsterdam
[X] Thank her for the effort of resisting, and ask if there's any way at all to get your old hand back.
>>No. 26422
File 135327471952.jpg - (57.06KB, 607x506, Guts Cannon.jpg) [iqdb]
26422
[x] Wake Amsterdam
[X] Thank her for the effort of resisting, and ask if there's any way at all to get your old hand back.

That said, if there isn't, or if getting it back is worse than the alternative, then maybe we should make the best out of a bad situation. Maybe bolt some metal to the thing. Or a cannon!

Pic related.
>>No. 26424
[-k-] Wake Amsterdam
[-k-] Thank her for the effort of resisting, and ask if there's any way at all to get your old hand back.

------------

First things first. You need to wake up the only person that you know is an ally. Just because that blonde doll looked at you funny doesn't mean that she was alive. "Wriggle is obviously alive, after all. That doesn't mean that she is friendly."

Finished talking to yourself, you reach up towards the doll with both of your hands. Belatedly realizing that one was no longer there, you wince slightly before patting the doll on the side. "Amsterdam… Are you there? I'm awake…"

The doll is silent for a few seconds before her eyes flutter open. Glass orbs peek out at you from under her red bangs, staring at you for just a moment. Blinking once, she realizes what she is seeing, before looking away.

"Amsterdam…" Keeping your one, clawed hand on her shoulder, you wait for the girl to look back at you. "Don't act like that. I wanted… I wanted to thank you. You tried to help me, and to not do what she said. Didn't you?"

The dolls does not move, steadfastly looking away. "You shouldn't be like that. You shouldn't be ashamed of yourself. Wriggle has captured me and turned me into this, just as Margatroid has done the same to you. Right?"

Still, there is no answer. "Please stop looking like that. I need a friend to help me. I need someone whom I can trust. Someone to help me escape this madhouse. Will you… Will you be that for me?"

Seconds turn into minutes, as the doll does not answer. You begin to suspect that she has instead gone back to sleep, or at least as much as any doll can. However, the moment you were about to give up hope that she would respond, she turns her head to you. Not confirming or denying any of your questions, she slowly pushes herself off of the shelf, before floating towards you.

"Thank you, Amsterdam." Smiling slightly, you wait for the doll to make the next move. Once in front of you, you notice that her eyes turn down to look at your hand. A moment later she is holding it firmly, looking at the wooden socket in which it had once remained.

Even though she had not tried to ask you a question, you still did your best to answer. "I threw the thing off. It was unreal. Unnatural. Completely wrong…" Shivering, you follow her eyes towards where it lay. "My old hand may have been monstrous, but at least it was yet mine. That one, though, is not something I wanted, or desired."

Looking at it for a moment, Amsterdam turned her head to look back at the stump on the end of your hand. Gently, she turned it from side to side, captivated by something that you could not quite understand. When she turned her head to face you, though, there was something akin to awe in those eyes.

Finding yourself turning red, you yourself look away. "That brings something to mind. Amsterdam… Do you know if it's possible for me to get my original back? The hand that I had before…"

For the first time since she awoke, the doll responded to a question. Slowly, she nodded towards you, before pointedly looking over your shoulder. "So, I can, but it is just a bad idea?" This time, she nods more quickly. "Damn. Well, I still need to try… There isn't any good that comes from not, after all…"

As if acceding to your demands, the doll flies off and away, heading straight to the floor. Scooping up the wooden hand and holding it in her fingers, she flies back up towards you, presenting the hand once coming to a stop.

"…Right. I should take it with me." Still, the horrid thing seems nearly poisonous to your touch. Should you carry it yourself, or hand it off to another?"

[ ] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[ ] Just carry it. Ain't no way you're putting it back on.
[ ] Let Amsterdam haul it. You're still afraid something will happen if you touch it…

&

[ ] Forget your hand. Just try to escape.
[ ] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?

------------

>>26422
If you're willing to chop off his entire lower arm, go ahead and vote for it! All kidding aside, the only thing cut off is the hand and the top of the arm. Sure, if you wanted to you could attach a hook to it. If that happens, you'll walk straight into a ticking alligator end.

…Now, a hakero wouldn't be a bad idea, since it'd be the right size. Too bad you won't be seeing Marisa in the main story.
>>No. 26425
[ ] Just carry it. Ain't no way you're putting it back on.
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?
>>No. 26426
[X] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?

>not in the main story
>main
...so, it has come to this.
>>No. 26427
[X] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?
>>No. 26428
>>26426

How do you mean?
>>No. 26429
[X] Just carry it. Ain't no way you're putting it back on. (yet)
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?

>>26428
Basically, that there may be /branches/

Incidentally, we don't actually have to hack off the rest of our arm to make that work! We just need a proper harness for it. Though I would be 100% okay with finding a Hakkero and building it into our palm, or something. Or maybe we could see if we can find whatever Alice uses to make her dolls shoot lasers, and incorporate it into the arm?

SPARKING FINGERRRRRR!
>>No. 26430
>>26429

Now, talk about flipping the bird with that, eh?
>>No. 26432
[X] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?

No point crying over spilled milk
>>No. 26434
[X] Just carry it. Ain't no way you're putting it back on.
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?
I've got a bad feeling about putting that hand on. Let's try to get our old hand back first before anything else. If we can't get it back, THEN we can use the freaky replacement.
>>No. 26435
[X] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[X] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?
>>No. 26436
[x] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[x] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?
>>No. 26437
File 13533403465.png - (62.95KB, 649x800, just for some dissonance.png) [iqdb]
26437
[-l-] Put it back on. It doesn't hurt. It's just wrong.
[-l-] Might as well find Margatroid, eh?

------------

After waiting for a few seconds, you come to a decision. As much as you detest that block of wood, you… you might as well use it. After all, if the cold girl had put it on as a gift of all things, there was not much of a chance for her to make the hand have a negative effect on you.

"I suppose I'll… I'll put it back on." Reaching for the hand, you notice that Amsterdam doesn't initially release the piece of wooden. The two of you engage in a silent, motionless contest, until the doll gives way and releases the hand.

Sighing as you take another good look at the hand, you place it into the slot on your arm. "I know… I know this might not be for the best. But it'd be rather pointless of me to carry this around and not bother to use it, wouldn't it?"

The explanation sounds hollow to your ears, and you know it. However, you're not going to let yourself be dissuaded by the doll's actions and your own uncertainty. Closing your eyes, you take the hand and shove it into the slot, reattaching it to your body.

There is nothing that happens as a result. There are no grand sparks or magical explosions, nor are there tremors as your body tries to accept the foreign object. All that happens is that you now have a wooden hand attached to your wrist. At least, it is attached to what is essentially your wrist.

Even as you move the wooden fingers, though, you wonder if this was a good idea. Nothing feels right… You don't want to get used to this. Resolving to instead just use your right hand, you grab the door proper and turn the handle. "Let's get going, shall we?

Slowly, the doll floats ahead of you, leading you into another small, papered hall within the house. "Let's… Let's go find Margatroid, right? I need to ask if I can get my hand back." Granted, if she finds that you're using the hand, it probably won't end well in that regard. You can still ask, and ask you will.

Not saying a word, the doll floats forward and down the hall, silently leading you onward. Looking in from the outside, you would not have expected the house to be so large. But here you are walking down myriad hallways that are either the result of some magnificent architecture and design, or are instead the result of something supernatural.

As you look through the various doors, you realize that it would have been nearly impossible to find a way out. At least it would be nearly impossible less you break a window or bust down a wall. Considering your luck on destroying what you need to, though, such an idea is best saved for when you're sure it would work. Otherwise, you would just anger the master of this house.

"That is assuming that Margatroid is the master… But what if there is another? Amsterdam is terrified of this Alice…" You are glad that the doll doesn't react to your musing, but the thought still troubles you.

Before you fall too far into thought, though, Amsterdam stops leading you through the hallways. Floating in front of one of the doors, she points at it before looking back at you. "She's in there, isn't she?" A short nod later, and you sigh. "Alright… Well, here goes nothing. Wish me luck, friend."

As the doll floated behind you, you grabbed door with your left hand. Glancing down at your hand, you frown before pointedly letting go and grabbing the handle with your right hand. Twisting it open, you walk into the room beyond, looking for the girl, if she could be called that.

Your search does not take long. Sitting with her back to one of the side walls, and gazing out upon the forest before her was your intended target. Without looking, she sat down the cup that was in her hands and spake without looking at you. "I see that the beast is awake. Are you well and awake then?"

"That is debatable. Would having your hand chopped off count as being well?" Your hand automatically begins to nurse the dismembered arm as you glare at the girl. "Here I was hoping that you would be reasonable, and you proved me wrong."

"Is that so?" Taking her fingers together, she looked at you with those dead eyes once more. "I would like to think I am being more than reasonable. Such a simple gift is quite a boon, especially in this land. I would not do such a thing lightly, after all."

"Then why did you do it?" Not moving from your position in the doorway, you frown. "It sounds like you may have ulterior motives."

Returning your gaze with her own unreadable expression, she answered. "Is giving you the gift that frees you from being a beast, at least in part, not motive enough?"

Considering that question for a moment, you slowly answer. "No. If it were Wriggle, I would have accepted that. But you seem more intelligent than her in the least, and certainly able to plan better than her." Rubbing your forehead with your clawed hand, you look at her. "As you say, you are no mere beast."

That comment seems to earn her praise, if just slightly, her lips turning up in response to your comment. "Exactly. I suppose I may have a reason or two. But would it be necessary for you to hear them?" Not letting you answer, she cuts you off. "Besides, I had imagined that you were here for something else, weren't you?"

Looking at the hand of wood and joints, you shake your head. "How could I have forgotten… Have forgotten that?" Holding up your hand, you look at it again. It was simply alien to you. How could it have been cast aside so easily?

"I do not design my gifts lightly, after all." Smiling even further at your reaction, Margatroid crosses her leg and stares at you. "I know how hard it would be for a beast such as you to accept the gift, so I made it so that you will forget how strange it is. As far as you are concerned, it is your hand. Nothing more."

Gulping slightly, you immediately detach it at her words. "Then… Then let me think with a clear mind, then. I'm tired of this. Will you answer my questions?"

"It depends on your questions…" Her smile fading, she stares at you once more. "Just remember, everything has a price. Some minor, and some major. And I will take payment if you ask too much."

[ ] What are you trying to do?
[ ] What is it you want from me.
[ ] Will you help me free myself from Wriggle?
[ ] Will you help me free Mystia?
[ ] Why do you have the dolls as slaves?
[ ] What are you, truly?
[ ] What does Wriggle want done to me? Have you done it already?
[ ] Will you let me out now?
[ ] (insert your own question here)

------------

Same thing as with the cabinet search a week ago. Rounds of questions. Only vote for one at a time, as the answer might influence you to vote for another. And feel free to ask the specific questions you want the answer to. If there is a tie, I will take it into account.

>>26426
>>26429
There will not be any branches into other boards in this story. I don't want to dip into SDM or Underground or anything else. I might write a short sometime if I so desire and show the inner workings, but that is that.

If I did that, though, I'd have to get a name so that you'd know where to look. So, probably not going to unless there is some major outcry.
>>No. 26438
[X] Have you done what Wrigglo wants done to me already? Best not to ask it in the form of two questions, lest the price rise.
>>No. 26439
[X] What does Wriggle want done to me? Have you done it already?

It does focus on the more immediate issue. Also I hope Lucas can get back his flesh and blood hand back.
>>No. 26440
[ ] What does Wriggle want done to me? Have you done it already?

Might as well go to the point.
>>No. 26441
[-m-] What does Wriggle want done to me? Have you done it already?

Ignoring the sage advice of the first voter? Fine by me.

------------

"Fine then. I'll get down to the meat of the question. What is it that Wriggle plans to do to me? Have you already done whatever she has asked?"

The girl's eyes linger on you as she picks up the cup once again. "So, two questions for the price of one?" Clucking her tongue, she then raises the cup to take a sip. "Hrm… I'm afraid that is not my policy. So I'll have to charge you twice."

Before you can interrupt her, Margatroid continues. "As for the second, no, I haven't. I was waiting for your pants to dry, as I do not care to operate when you are wearing something of my own." Glancing down, you finally realize that what you are wearing is definitely not the pair of slacks that you had on the entire time. "Nor do I care to work on one that has soiled his britches. I do rather detest that smell."

Blushing, you turn your head away. "Does that mean—"

"Yes, it does." Frowning noticeably at you, she shakes her head in derision. "Be fortunate that you did not defecate upon the upholstery, or I would have already had you pay for that. I really should have suspected such an act from a beast…"

"Not like I had a choice!" Growling, you shake your head. "It isn't as if I did so on purpose, you know. Do you take me for some type of animal?"

"Yes. And that's number three." Immediately clicking your mouth shut, you look down. "At the very least, white is much easier to clean than brown. But enough of that." Clearing her throat and taking another sip of her tea, she began again. "Now, as to your second, you should remember how she mentioned that your music box was broken. I am here to fix that."

"…" Glaring at her for a moment, and unsure of how to say anything that isn't a question, you take your time formulating a response. "I do not have a music box, as far as I know."

"Better. Indirect question, without actually asking." Now smiling ever so slightly, Margatroid spake. "Then I shall have to conduct a thorough examination. Do not think that you get out of it so lightly. I do not renege on my promises."

[ ] What are you trying to do?
[ ] What is it you want from me.
[ ] Will you help me free myself from Wriggle?
[ ] Will you help me free Mystia?
[ ] Why do you have the dolls as slaves?
[ ] What are you, truly?
[ ] What does Wriggle want done to me? Have you done it already?
[ ] Will you let me out now?
[ ] (insert your own question here)
>>No. 26442
[X] What is it you want from me.
>>No. 26443
[x] I assume you wanted something from me or of me.
>>No. 26444
[X] I have heard that you were once enemies with Wriggly. Remember to not ask anything that is a question. Make statements that need answers, for it is the safest route to go.
>>No. 26445
[X] You seem to me to bear some disdain for this job that Wriggle has asked of you. What would she be paying you, that you would still do it regardless?

Later in the conversation,
[ ] Could you please tell me about this land I've been brought into? I've come to the conclusion that it's no longer Earth, or at least no longer Earth as I know it.

Eventually at the end, possibly, how to defeat Wriggle, couched in hypotheticals, alongside a recognition of her own distaste for beasts and a rationalization of preventing any more humans from being abducted and suffering the same fate, but with an admission of the obvious ulterior motive stemming from your own emotions towards the girl.

>What is it you want from me.
a) Just because it doesn't end in a question mark doesn't mean it isn't a question.
b) Let's not offend our host, shall we?
>>No. 26449
Interesting. I said I would take into consideration multiple votes, but I do believe that I will wait a while longer. If I write now, all it would be is a blurb about how Alice is frustrated at your lack of decisiveness.

So, go ahead and take your time to make your consensus. I'll check back later today and see if any progress has been made.
>>No. 26452
Changing my vote from >>26442 to:
[X] I have heard that you were once enemies with Wriggly. Remember to not ask anything that is a question. Make statements that need answers, for it is the safest route to go.

I doubt it'll prevent Lucas from picking up more debt, but it will save him some hassle.
>>No. 26453
[x] I have heard that you were once enemies with Wriggle. Remember to not ask anything that is a question. Make statements that need answers, for it is the safest route to go.
[x] You seem to me to bear some disdain for this job that Wriggle has asked of you. What would she be paying you, that you would still do it regardless?
>>No. 26454
[-n-] I have heard that you were once enemies with Wriggle. Remember to not ask anything that is a question. Make statements that need answers, for it is the safest route to go.

------------

Well, that was an interesting think for you to take into account. As you think of what to say next, you let your mouth speak without thinking. "So, I have heard that you were once enemies with Wriggle."

"Indeed?" Lowering her cup, Margatroid's eyes narrow. "From who have you heard that?"

As those dead eyes stare you down, boring into your soul, you think back to where you had heard that thought. However, there is nothing that comes to mind. Have you made up that statement completely from nothing? Sure, the two may have disliked each other, as Wriggle immediately jumped to conclusions earlier… However, there was nothing to have said that she specifically disliked Margatroid.

"…Nobody. I had just assumed…"

Sucking in a breath, you feel the air around you begin to become colder. "So, you make up an accusation out of the cloth, and impugn upon both my character and that of your master?" Snorting, she leans closer, her eyes never leaving yours.

You immediately recoil, drawing in as she comes closer. "Well, she had no kind words for you. And she was reluctant to let me come."

The girl is still for a moment before letting out her breath. "Are you that much of a fool? Or are you simply willfully blind?" Leaning back, she shook her head. "You do not seem to understand. And if you do not understand, beast, then there is no hope for you. Even with my gifts, you must bother to think."

"I'm sorry, I didn't—"

"Don't apologize either, beast." Glaring at you, she sets her cup down and folds her arms. "Either be smart and clever with your mind, and keep your self, or go ahead and succumb to your instincts and be strong." Clenching her hands, it starts to move towards you before she stops herself. "Do you expect to last long if you show weakness?"

Sighing, you look down at your two mismatched hands. There were probably a hundred questions that you could have asked there, and instead you said something that seemed to have insulted the girl deeply. "No, I won't. Still, I am sorry for being so out of line."

Snorting under her breath, she settles her hands back in her lap. "If you say as much. Still, such ignorance is rather off-putting. Remember that I wished to have intelligent conversation, not an ignorant beast making half-veiled assertions to my face."

"I suppose there is a lot that I still need to understand. I don't even know where I am, what is going on, what anything is…"

Leaning back in her chair, she sighed. "I am only entertaining you because you have proven before to act contrary to your nature. Succumb to your nature further, beast, and I do not expect that such generosity will hold out."

[ ] Chose your next action
>>No. 26455
[X] What is your relation with her, if you don't mind me asking?
>>No. 26456
[X] What is your relation with her, if you don't mind me asking?
>>No. 26458
Stealing a little from my earlier post:
[X] "Perhaps, then, you could choose the topic of discussion. I would think that those in which I am most interested would be those that I am least able to distance myself from, emotionally.
-[X] "Or, if you would not mind a largely one-sided conversation, you could tell me about this land I now find myself in. I gather that it isn't Earth, or at least not Earth as I know it, so I'm naturally rather interested in it, regardless of whether the most of it is relevant to me."

>>26455
If we're going with her relation to Wriggle, can we at least phrase it along the lines of
[ ] "How exactly is it that you have come to know Wriggle, if you don't mind my asking?"
so she doesn't just say they're presently business partners, first and foremost?
>>No. 26459
Going with the previous anon, here. Let's try not to presume anything more.

[X] "Perhaps, then, you could choose the topic of discussion. I would think that those in which I am most interested would be those that I am least able to distance myself from, emotionally.
-[X] "Or, if you would not mind a largely one-sided conversation, you could tell me about this land I now find myself in. I gather that it isn't Earth, or at least not Earth as I know it, so I'm naturally rather interested in it, regardless of whether the most of it is relevant to me."
>>No. 26460
File 135352634069.jpg - (319.47KB, 640x600, there is something you need to ask.jpg) [iqdb]
26460
I wanted to write, so I flipped a coin.

[-o-]"Perhaps, then, you could choose the topic of discussion. I would think that those in which I am most interested would be those that I am least able to distance myself from, emotionally.
-[-o-] "Or, if you would not mind a largely one-sided conversation, you could tell me about this land I now find myself in. I gather that it isn't Earth, or at least not Earth as I know it, so I'm naturally rather interested in it, regardless of whether the most of it is relevant to me."

------------

Furrowing your brow, you let out a long-winded sigh as you carefully choose your next words. "Perhaps, then, you could choose the topic of discussion." Glancing away for a moment, putting eyes on Amsterdam as she continues to float to your side, you eventually glance back at Margatroid. "I do believe that those in which I am… am most interested would be those that I am able to least distance myself from, emotionally."

Eyes devoid of life study you further, even as the colors within shift slowly and subtlety. "Admitting your limits, or stating simple facts? Don't answer that. I have no need to know which it is. At least you are no longer presuming to know." Taking her cup in hand once more, she draws a long sip from it. "Nearly out. Amsterdam?"

Silently, the doll floats forward and over to the nearby teapot. Margatroid holds the cup out to the side as the doll refills the fine china. "So, you desire to hear anything of my choosing? Take in mind that I might have a desire to talk about the weather, should it be particularly fell. However, it has stayed constant these past few years, hardly changing in the slightest."

"That seems rather unnatural…" As she takes the cup back once it has been poured, you think of how little you know. If she so desires, she might share with you some measure of knowledge. That is what you lack the most. Not just knowledge of Wriggle and how to handle her, but knowledge of where you are is in even shorter supply.

Nodding shortly, you meet her eyes once more. "If you would not mind a rather one-sided conversation, you could perhaps tell me about this land I now find myself in." At her raised eyebrow, you continue, thinking that maybe you had found some common ground. "I have gathered that this isn't Earth, or at least not as I know it."

A ghost of a smile comes over her mouth as she takes another small sip of tea. "Better. Ugly beast you may be, but at least you have some semblance of a mind left, should you care to use it." Setting the cup down, Margatroid interlaces her fingers and leans barely an inch towards you. "However, how much should I speak of? I could go on for quite a while, depending on how detailed that you wish me to be."

Shrugging slightly, you nearly hold your breath at the girl's reaction. However, you take a moment to remember that you need to speak, and you can't hold your breath and speak at the same time. "It doesn't matter to me. I'm interested in all of it, naturally. I don't really care whether or not it is relevant to me."

"Incorrect." Leaning another inch closer, Margatroid studies you. "There is much that you care to know, so do not fool yourself into thinking that you merely are in this for the sake of knowledge." However, after a moment, her lips turn up further. "However, I do admire such a trait. Perhaps if things had been different, you would have been a valuable asset to I?"

Not knowing whether to reply or whether to remain still, you do the latter. A few seconds later, Margatroid continues to speak. "I shall start with what you should know, and what should have been explained by your master." Staring at you for a moment more, Margatroid closes her eyes before looking out towards the sun.

"This land is not Earth as you know it. We are sideways from it, neither above nor below. You might say that we are on a different plane of existence, but that in itself is not true, either." Not looking back at you, she begins to wiggle her fingers slightly as she spoke, as if wishing to enunciate each point. "One can walk from one world to another, if they know the route. Or the transition can be as easy as losing one's self within one's fantasies."

Crossing your arms, you look down at your mismatched hands. "I wasn't lost, nor was I attempting to cross over. I was brought here."

"Be glad that you were." Finally the girl looks back at you. This time, you see the hint of something shining within her eyes. "This land is a land of glamour. A land of illusion. Once a mortal human steps foot within it, this land takes it upon itself to twist and turn them until they belong."

Holding up one pale hand, she prevents you from breaking into the conversation. "Those that are brought in, those that are taken from the mortal realm are guided by others. They are shaped by the desires of those taking them in."

"So that is why I was turned into a bird?"

Imperceptibly shaking her head, Margatroid leaned forward, even closer. Your hair began to stand on its ends from the proximity of the cold girl. "Not exactly. There are beasts, just as there are elementals. There are many others as well. A white-haired devil runs a scarlet mansion leagues away from here, just as a teal monster with a closed eye runs rampant beneath the soil."

Snorting under your breath, you can't help but let out a remark. "Besides, Wriggle, you mean."

"Quite. Her hair is green, not teal. However, that all is irrelevant. You will not be encountering either of those lest ye search them out." Looking down her nose at you, you have the funniest feeling that she was about to laugh. "I trust that you are not imbecilic enough to seek out further trouble for yourself?"

In lieu of her, you let out your own dark chuckle. "I would certainly hope not. However, you did chop off my hand. Could they do worse than that?"

Whatever smile was on her face immediately vanished. "Far worse. For a youkai, I am kind. I am gentle, and I am caring. Do not mistake your old values as being relevant here, as you should know the madness that one can fall to here."

Looking away from her rebuke, you sigh gently. "Yes… I do know. I do." Unsure of what to say next, you let the first thing slip from your mouth once again. "What is this place called? Would I know?"

"Perhaps. And four. I shall be generous, as the one required but a word to answer." Scowling all of a sudden, Margatroid glanced down at her tea, studying it intensely. "This land has many names, over the many centuries I have existed here. However, that does not mean anything. Everything in existence has multiple designations one may refer to it. However, only the true name of something allows you power over it, and the knowledge associated as such."

Biting her lip, Margatroid shakes her head quickly. "I despise the name myself. Such an unsightly word. However, the word for what I am is unsightly as well, so I cannot be a miser with my verbiage." Glancing at you, she is quiet for a few seconds, before leaning back an away from you. Even as you welcome the relief from the cold, you wonder why she is being so open.

"The name of this land is Gensokyo. A land of fantasy, illusion, glamour, and madness." The moment the words passed her lips, you hear a thumping from up above. Startled, you look at Margatroid for an explanation.

"Alice is awake. She will want my attention soon. Pray tell, is there anything else that you truly wish to know, before we are interrupted?"

[ ] Ask one last thing (choice here)
[ ] Get out before Alice comes
>>No. 26461
Youkai seem to be ancient, from what little I have seen. It makes me wonder just how old Wriggoth is, not to mention if any pets have ever escaped her. She has earned enough favors. Stick to nothing but statements, lest you wind up owing her big, if you already do not.
>>No. 26463
[X] "Much, but if you have other things to which you must attend, I'd be a poor guest to hold you from them."

Can't think of anything in particular to ask first and foremost. Perhaps what Wriggle is paying her? But if that's her last impression of us, she'll probably think us overly whimsical.

In any case, I think it would be best to show some politesse and hopefully gain some Margatroid points. Not to mention it seems asking another question would have us still present when Alice arrives.

Or do we actually want to be?
>>No. 26464
>>26463
Just a reminder, as you need to remember that you are Margatroid's business right now. She's just entertaining you because you're interesting enough to warrant it.

Not going to tell you whether to stay or go, though. Just weigh your options carefully.
>>No. 26465
>>26464
That was why I said "other things"; she's entertaining us right now because she finds the conversation enjoyable (or at least not disagreeable). She's doing so out of personal interest.

However, if she has any other pressing obligations (anything that she has to prepare for Alice's awakening, for instance) it would be poor form to keep her from it. And judging from her comment about Alice wanting her attention, she very well may have. We'd be poor guests to cause her to run off to her duties half-cocked. At least, this was the impression I wanted to give.

Didn't actually use the word "duties" because I didn't want to presume about Alice and Margatroid's relationship. Hope this clears things up.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have said "other, more important things to which you have to attend". Feel free to take the vote as such if it helps.


And judging from the previous indications in the story, it'd be a good idea to scram before Alice arrives, but this isn't the first time such things could have been counter-intuitive... I think we should leave, but I just wanted to point it out to the other anons.
>>No. 26466
>>26465
I understand what you mean. I just wanted to point it out to you and make sure there was no misunderstandings.

We'll just see how the votes line up by tomorrow morning, unless everyone comes out of the woodwork now. But for now I shall hold my tongue, before I give anything away.
>>No. 26467
[X] "Much, but if you have other, more important things to which you have to attend, I'd be a poor guest to hold you from them."

>>26461
It's evident that Aya did something and died for it. She may have made a run for it, but we can't be certain that of either that or certain of what exactly killed her. If she did attempt to run that might mean Hatate might know some details about possible escape route. Still a pretty grim picture for our protagonist's chances.

Also, I wonder what the relationship between Margatroid and Alice is.
>>No. 26471
File 135360174523.jpg - (540.60KB, 800x1129, two of a kind or are they.jpg) [iqdb]
26471
[-p-] "Much, but if you have other, more important things to which you have to attend, I'd be a poor guest to hold you from them."

------------

"There is quite a lot that I wish to know." Glancing at the door, worry covers your face. "However, I would not want to hold you from other, more important things. I'd have been a poor guest, otherwise."

Raising an eyebrow, Margatroid's expression didn't shift on her face. "As good as that would be, you should not worry so much. Alice is rather… eccentric, you might say." Sighing, she put her cup on the nearby table, before shoving it away. "I might appreciate someone here to help assist me dampen her enthusiasm."

Nervously, you shift back and forth in your seat. "Isn't that somewhat… dangerous? I was under the impression…"

"What was it I said about assuming?" Cutting you off, Margatroid's eyes turn towards the doll. "Or did someone do her part to color our guests imagination?" To her part, Amsterdam did not move an inch, still staring resolutely away from you both. "Hrm. Perhaps I was too hasty, Lucas. However, you shouldn't be afraid of the girl. Even if there was a reason to be, would you think I'd bring harm to one of my guests?"

Before you could answer, the door behind you blows open, and you hear a voice shout out. "Maggie! Maggie, where are you?" Turning you spy a small girl in blue barrel through the entrance before leaping on top of the cold girl.

You can't help but stare at the short blonde hair of the girl. This was the girl that you were supposed to be afraid of? However, as you glance at Amsterdam for a moment, you spy her recoiling.

"What are you doin' up here, Maggie? Why aren't you down in the sittin' room havin' your tea?" Climbing up further, the adolescent girl peered into Margatroid's face. "Are you up to somethin', I wonder?"

Her face still even, Margatroid gave her a bit of a smile. "I am up to nothing in particular, Alice. I was just entertaining our guest before we proceeded with our business. How was your nap?"

"It was good!" Smiling, the girl patted Margatroid's head. "You should take naps too, Maggie! Might make ya feel better!"

"I believe I shall decline." Turning towards you for a moment, you watch the eyes shift colors again, slowly turning to red in general. "I have too much to do, as you are aware, Alice. If I do that, I feel that I may be unprepared for certain eventualities."

Alice blinks up at Margatroid for a second before laughing. "You say such silly things, Maggie! You shouldn't do that. Just come and play with me!" After a few more seconds, the girl realizes that there was someone else in the room. "Ohh, who is this? This your guest? Is he here to play too?"

Shaking her head, Margatroid looks down at the girl and puts a cold, restraining hand on her shoulder. "No, he is not here to play. I have work to do on him here in a few minutes."

"Are you sure?" Blinking again, Alice scampers off of Alice and grabs at your legs. "He's already wearin' part of a costume, so he's dressed for the part!" Grinning up at you innocently, the girl asks, "Do you wanna play dolls with me?"

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

------------

Sorry for the lack of updates, and how short they are. They should become better in a few days. In the meantime, enjoy the (hopefully first) Thanksgiving post, to those of you who do celebrate.
>>No. 26472
[x] Yes

We all know where this is going.
>>No. 26473
[ ] Yes, but first give a moment to see if Margatroid believes it a bad idea; it could be that Amsterdam, being a doll, would dislike playing. It could also be that you will end up fine.
>>No. 26474
[x] Yes
This Alice is setting off my SMT-Alice alarms.
Saying no could possibly lead to her throwing a temper tantrum, which would very quickly Bad End us should my suspicions be correct. Granted, saying yes could just as easily Bad End us, but at least we have a bit more time.
>>No. 26475
File 135362630544.jpg - (276.42KB, 727x1020, if this is not an oh crap moment.jpg) [iqdb]
26475
[-q-] Yes

------------

"Well, I've never been one to play with dolls before…" At the girl's pouting face you immediately backpedal, answering to her whims. "But I suppose I can play a little while, if that is alright?"

Again, the child shoots you another innocent smile. "Of course it's alright to play with me! I love to play with dolls! It's so fun…" Turning to the redheaded one floating next to you, she grins even wider. "Isn't that right, Amsterdam?"

The doll breaks a rather scared look on her wooden face to look at Alice. "Isn't that right, Amsterdam?" You watch as the doll nods quickly, her red hair flying to and fro until she uses it to hide her face once again.

Before she could say anything else, though, Margatroid cut her off. "Alice, I'm afraid you can't play with him. After all, he is not yours to play with, and he will be leaving us once I have finished my business."

As calm as Margatroid's voice was, Alice did not take it well. Acting just as the child she looks like, she begins to whine. "But Maggie… I wanna play with him! I haven't had no new dolls in forever…"

"That is because you have plenty of dolls, Alice." Tilting her head to the side, Margatroid's eyes flicker to the ceiling. "What about all of your others? Berlin? London? Orleans?"

"But they is no fun!" Pouting heavily, Alice tries to climb on top of Margatroid and look into her eyes once more. "Please? All the old ones are so boring. Look at Amsterdam here! So pretty, but she doesn't want to play with me! The only ones who do anything are Shanghai and Kyoto…"

"But that does not mean you can have another doll." Sighing, Margatroid looks up at you. "Would you please wait outside? I will take care of Alice—"

"No Maggie!" Leaping off the girl, Alice stomped on the floor. "You promised me that you would get me a new doll soon! I wanna play with someone!"

Turning her head down to the girl, Margatroid leaned up, before kneeling down to her eye level. "Alice, I promised you that I would find you a doll, yes? I will give you one soon, right? I am going to find someone for you to play with soon." Smiling, she pats the girl's head. "Besides, did he not agree to play with you? I just need to finish with him, and you can have him until it is his time to go."

"Hrmpf! That's not the same, Maggie. You know that." Glaring at her, the girl huffed. "But you know how mean it is to bring a new one in and not let me play with him! I think I'm goin' to have to have a talk with you…"

From in front of the girl, Margatroid shuts her eyes for a moment. Looking back up at Amsterdam, and then at you, her eyes shine with warning before she glances at the door. "As you wish, Master."

You barely are able to hold in your gasp as the floating doll grabs you by the arm. Carting you outside the door, she shuts it before pulling you away from the door and down the hall.

[ ] …What the hell just happened?
[ ] Who… What…
[ ] I thought Margatroid said she was the Youkai! So why is….
[ ] Amsterdam, are you telling me that little girl did all this to…
[ ] (insert own)
>>No. 26476
[X] Who… What…

My thoughts exactly
>>No. 26479
[X] Who… What…

Wow... truth be told, that went a lot better than what I expected to happen.
>>No. 26480
As much as I want to actually use the option to say something useful, I think just about anyone would be too stunned to do so right now. So no metagaming.

[X] Amsterdam, are you telling me that little girl did all this to…

Closest to remembering that we can only ask her yes/no questions.
>>No. 26481
[X] Amsterdam, are you telling me that little girl did all this to…

Closest thing to something that Amsterdam can answer.
>>No. 26483
[X] Amsterdam, are you telling me that little girl did all this to…
>>No. 26485
[-r-] Amsterdam, are you telling me that little girl did all this to…

------------

"Amsterdam, what just happened?" The doll does not respond as she keeps pulling you along, further and further through the hallways. Even you are surprised by her strength as her wooden fingers dig into your hand, pulling you along easily. She does ease up once you stop resisting that little bit and run along side her.

Eventually, you find yourself back in the room you woke up in. Glancing at every single doll idly once more, you try to lock the door behind you. However, Amsterdam's spindly fingers cut you off, easily doing the one lock on the door.

Once done, Amsterdam turns back to you, her glass eyes staring into your soul. "Amsterdam, can you tell me what just happened? Was that girl—"

Smack.

Holding your hand up to your face, you rubbed the part of your cheek where her small wooden fist hit it. Before you could ask why she had hit you, Amsterdam throws her arms around your neck and buries her tiny head into your neck.

Automatically, one of your hands rises up and holds her against you. Again you wince when you notice that it was the wooden hand that you detested so. You cast it aside after a moment, trying your best to comfort the doll that is shaking in your arms.

Even as you pat her back gently, you let your eyes trail over all of the dolls that littered this room. Are all of these… Were all of these people that the little girl turned into dolls? You could see nearly a dozen in this room alone. And you had no doubt that there were more that were in these halls.

Looking back down at the shining red hair of the girl, you gently ask her, "Amsterdam, are you telling me that little girl did this to everyone here? She did this to you?"

Slowly, the girl nodded into your chest, before looking up. It was eerie how calm that face was, with her wooden expressions and dead eyes. Even so… Even so you could feel her shake. If she was human still, you imagine that she might have broken out into tears. You take that back; you know she already would have.

Even so, you just hold her close to you. Thinking over what had just occurred not moments before, you eventually ask her, "What about I? How close was she to turning me into…"

Removing one of her hands from around your neck, she holds up two fingers and separates them just slightly. "Are you telling me that just by saying that I would play with her, she would have been able to change me?" Another nod comes from her, before she balls her fist and shakes it in your face.

"You're mad at me? I understand why…" Sighing, you pointedly look away from the girl, staring at the floor. "I was just afraid, so afraid that something worse might happen if I said no. What if she then made me into a doll and forced me to play with her then?"

Again, the doll shook her head. However, she did lower her fist and place her hand around your neck once more. Sighing, you look around for the bed, before idly ambling over and sitting down on it. "So, what about Margatroid? Didn't she say she was a Youkai? Why is she not in control, if that's the case."

The doll does not respond to your question, which makes sense, considering how little she can speak. "I suppose that's something that I should ask her. But I had thought it was just those that were Changed against the Youkai. But could it be that I have a Youkai on my side?"

Suddenly, the doll stiffens in your grasp. "Is that it, then? I suppose that's what I have to work with… So, it's you and me against the rest Alice, with Margatroid being…" You trail off, as you remember there was another problem that you had already promised to take care of. Could you say such a thing, when you've already promised Mystia you would help her?

[ ] Tell her that you'll get them all out.
[ ] Promise you'll that you can save her too.
[ ] …You have other things you have promised, but you will do the best you can.
[ ] There is no way you can do both. You're too weak.
[ ] (Obligatory Write-in Option)

------------

Was going to keep going, but I have to go in a while. So I'll give you another longterm guiding choice. Not that I have a good feeling what you'll pick, but you all have surprised me multiple times, so I'll let you choose Plot will move forward on next update though, don't you worry!

Also, there are not enough pictures of the dolls that are not Shanghai and Hourai.
>>No. 26486
[X] …You have other things you have promised, but you will come for her after you free Mystia. Let's just hope that you can fufill both promises.
>>No. 26487
[X] …You have other things you have promised, but you will do the best you can.

Don't make a girl a promise if you can't keep it. Besides, I think we should focus on one problem at a time.
>>No. 26488
[x] Promise that you'll save her

Can you honestly say no to her?
>>No. 26489
Ugh. This is where it starts to get tricky. Right now, I want to save Mystia and Amsterdam both. But is that even possible? What about the rest of the dolls? Maybe Hatate, Okuu, and who I assume to be Tokiko were swell people before losing their minds.

I worry that by trying to save to many, we wind up saving none, but I don't know what else to do. I'm not even sure how to vote...
>>No. 26490
File 135372976252.jpg - (172.39KB, 800x540, an ally an enemy or a damsel herself?.jpg) [iqdb]
26490
[-s-] …You have other things you have promised, but you will do the best you can.

You surprised me.

------------

You can't do that. You just can't. As easy as it would be to speak the words and promise her such a thing, would it be honest of you to do that? You've never particularly bothered with such little things before. But when was the last time you had someone that you cared about in any measure? You would like to have thought you were a good person, but have you ever been forced into a situation like this?

Not to mention the promise you've already made. You've a girl waiting for you back at the burrow. The thought makes you turn a bit red at the thought. The basics of the thought are true enough, though. There's a girl waiting for you to save her sanity, and you can't make that promise to another. Not yet, and not when you still aren't sure you can save yourself.

As the silence drags on, Amsterdam seems to realize what it is that you're about to tell her. However, she doesn't move an inch from you, nor does she loosen the hug. "I'm sorry, Amsterdam. I'm so sorry… I can't promise that I can get you out of here."

Laughing bitterly, you look over her shoulder at all the dolls in your sight. "Could I ever promise anything to you? There is a friend back there that I need to help out, and I don't even know if I can help myself." Sighing, you let the doll release the hug and pull away before continuing. "Has anyone ever escaped? From the sound of it, they are so strong that the mere thought of it would be unimaginable."

Idly, the girl nods, her red hair hiding her eyes once again. "But… Amsterdam, I swear that I'll do the best that I can. Even if I won't be able to do much at all, I still feel like I should do that much. For you, and for everyone else…"

The doll sits there for a few seconds, clinging to your chest as she does. Eventually, her head rises up and the hair falls away, letting you meet her glass eyes for a second. After judging you for a few seconds, she tilts her head to the side.

One of her hands rises up, meeting her wooden mouth. Looking at you for a second longer, she closes her eyes slowly before pressing her hand against your own mouth. Letting it linger there for a second, she then pulls it away, quickly floating in the air and away for you.

The only thing that you can do after that is stare at the doll. But as you hear footsteps through the door, you glance at the girl and do your best to smile back at her. "You're welcome."

------------

Fortunately, the one who had approached the door turned out to be Margatroid, and not the tiny blonde monster. Standing as primly as she ever does, you could still tell there was something wrong with her gait. It was not as smooth as it was before, nor were her steps as large. At best, she was mincing her stride, and at worst… Well, you're not sure what's causing it, but it still makes you wince as she leads you down the hallway.

Still, you kept your silence, not bothering to speak. You had made a motion to moments before, but she cut you off before ushering you after her. To your side, Amsterdam floated along as silently as ever, joined by the blonde and brunette that had assisted in your dismemberment from earlier.

This time, instead of leading you through the halls and into another sunny sitting room, she guides you down through the halls and down old wooden stairs. The paper walls begin to give way to smooth stone, and you have another suddenly eerie feeling within your body. "Margatroid, are you—"

"Not now." Cutting you off again, she pulls you through a nearby doorway and into a dimly lit room. As your eyes do adjust, you barely even had taken note of the lack of cold in her rather wooden grip.

Instead, your eyes are fixed upon your surroundings, which are far grizzlier than you would have ever imagined possible in the quaint house you had been within the past few hours. Rather sharp implements line the walls, each one rather dull in the light, as they all have a rather dark, brown substance clinging to their edges. At the same time, the room itself is empty, except for the one rusty, metal table lying in the center beneath a large glowing light.

"Is this… Is this some sort of operating room?" You take another look at the supposed Youkai as she stares away from you. "I thought you didn't know of what you have to replace."

The girl doesn't answer for a moment, instead inspecting the saws that are lining the side of the room. "I do not know. However, I will do what I can to finish the job. I will fix that box for her, just as I said she would."

Again, you feel your ire starting to rise. At this rate you had given up any thoughts of reclaiming your original hand after her gift. But could you hold her off long enough so that you did not receive another. "You don't have to do this, Margatroid. I know you don't want to do this. I can see it."

"What did I tell you about presuming, beast?" Sighing, she still looked away as she plucked a few of the bladed instruments from the walls before placing them on a table near the bed. "Trust me. Can you not hear the joy that is in my voice? You are to receive something that will improve you, and in some manner. I just know not what it is, yet."

Beside you, the three dolls float over, silently joining behind the slim girl. None of them look at you, nor do any gaze at her. Each of them is determined to find solace in the stone floor that is freezing against your feet.

Knowing that they had as much choice in this as well, you do not mind their actions. However, you try to implore to Margatroid's better senses once more, asking her for mercy. "I am not presuming, I am making guess based on what I do know. You're not like this. You don't want to do such things to me. If you are a servant to her…"

"You know not the conditions of my indentured nature, nor are you aware of much else. There is much for you to learn, beast. Pray tell that you are willing to listen as you have for the most part." Sighing grandly once more, she looks upon you with those dead eyes of hers. "You need not worry. My hand is steady, and my mind sharp. There is no chance that you will end up worse under my care."

"But I don't want this at all, Margatroid." Backing up against the wall, you break your eyes to the door, looking for some way to escape. "Is there any way to change your mind?"

"No, there is not." Her knuckles bulge as she grips the knife she is currently wielding tightly, not turning her eyes from you. "My master does want a new doll, after all. And I am not one to turn down such an easy acquisition of the base material. So, Lucas, please listen to my word. Just lie on the table and do what I ask. You shan't feel a thing."

As she spake to you, your eyes dart to the door once more. You know that there is very little chance of making it out, considering how unfamiliar you are with this structure, but you could take the chance, if you so dared.

[ ] Accept
[ ] Resist
[ ] Flee

------------

>>26489
Honestly, I'm surprised that there haven't been any calls to save one girl over the other, or demands that one must be among the number that escapes. While it is nice, I should take such solace before voters decide to fight it out, unless you all surprise me once again.

I am not going to tell you how to vote, but I will ask which you should follow. Your mind, your gut, or your heart?
>>No. 26491
First things first:
[X] "Hold, Margatroid, a moment - I feel entitled know: if you are set on this, then what of Wriggle? Moreover, there is another within Wriggle's burrows; she will suffer if I do not return. I have made her a promise. What of her?"

I would personally follow with:
-[X] "If- if you will swear to help me- no, to help her... If you will help her escape beyond Wriggle's reach - and no, not bring her here to become a plaything either!
-[X] "That is... help her escape and live in freedom, and I will willingly... pacify your master, as much as I can. Otherwise... you may find yourself wishing I had never come here."
but I understand the other anons may not agree. Some discussion, perhaps, on our goals henceforth?
>>No. 26495
[x] "Won't Wriggle be upset if you turn me into someone elses doll?"

At first, she wanted to 'fix' us. Now she wants to turn us into Alice's doll. And I'm pretty sure Wriggle aint gunna have that shit.
>>No. 26496
>>26495
Easy, there. Did she ever say that she was going to turn us into a doll? Or that by finishing the job on us, she would acquire the materials. Remember how fond she is of exact words.
>>No. 26499
[x] Accept

Why? Because reacting on fear, impulse and what have you can be classified as 'bestial.' If Lucas returns, not fixed, it's likely that both he and Mystia will suffer for it. Further, if we want any chance of rescuing the dolls, we probably need to do this.

We need to gain Margatroid's trust, and there's only one way to do that.

[x] As a joke, ask if she could install some kind of ray-gun into our doll-hand. Because why the hell not.
>>No. 26500
[X] Accept, as nothing good will come of doing otherwise. Jokingly ask if she could install a raygun in to your dolly bit.
>>No. 26501
Alright, well, as the votes seem to be 2 for accept, 2 for resist, and two for some variation on bargaining, I'll wait a while longer. Take the time to discuss your future plans if you so desire. I'll be around, and will start writing once I have a better consensus.
>>No. 26502
>Take the time to discuss your future plans if you so desire.

>>26499 here. I'm personally of the opinion that the best- if not the /only/ way that we can get Margatroid to trust us is to trust her, first. Such things are built on trust, after all. It seems that the one with the power here is in fact Alice- and that Margatroid is, like the others, operating at her whims, though with considerably more power to resist than the others.

Hence, if we're ever going to help these dolls, we need to be able to make sure that she's, if not with us, then at least not /against/ us. Besides that, if we come home and we are not as 'fixed' as Wriggle wants us to be, then we've got some serious problems. It means we'll probably see freedoms being restricted. We're still weak here. Lucas needs to play their games, until he can figure out a better way to resolve this situation. As long as he can keep hold of his sense of self, and as long as he doesn't give in to his baser instincts, then he can more likely maintain his position- and improve upon it- in the future.
>>No. 26505
Well I'm >>26497. My reasoning for resisting is that there is too much unknown for the "fixes" Lucas is suppose to undergo. For all we know, it could be some kind of mental shift to make him pliant or perhaps some kind of magical tracker. It will make him less beast like, but then again so did losing a hand.

>>26502 does raise good points and I can see where he's coming from, but Margatroid's statement puts me on edge.

> "My master does want a new doll, after all. And I am not one to turn down such an easy acquisition of the base material."
>>No. 26506
>>26505

>>26499 here again. I'd agree that Margatroid is behaving suspiciously, and that she's said some questionable things. However, I'm not certain if this operation is to do /that/ or if it's a matter of forcing Margatroid's hand if we resist. Her agreement with Wriggle still stands, but it might become null and void if we give her a reason to do so.

She does not necessarily want to make Alice a new doll, and she is also still in an agreement of sorts with Wriggle. Causing a conflict at this juncture is not in her best interest. However, if she is given grounds, she will act on Alice's desires. So we must not give her those grounds, and we need to recognize that she doesn't /want/ us to give her those grounds.

If that makes sense?
>>No. 26507
Deleted and changed my vote
[x] Accept

>Base material
>Not turn down

Something rare and that she'd rather have easily instead of the hard way (implying she can get it anyway).
I'm going to take a shot and say she wants feathers.

Please God, be this.
>>No. 26508
[x] Accept

>>26506
I guess that makes sense. Hope nothing goes horribly wrong though.
>>No. 26509
File 135386289297.png - (270.57KB, 496x311, not somewhere anyone wants to be.png) [iqdb]
26509
[-t-] Accept

------------

As much as you want to resist her words, either darting away or trying to fight the smaller girl, you can't bring yourself to do that. For as much as it is worth, you trust Margatroid a little bit. Especially after she revealed her true station in this household… She's just the same as you. Only instead, she is smarter and deadlier. You need her to be neutral, at least, if not on your side directly.

Raising your hands, you hang your head low. "So that's how it's going to be, then? If nothing can change your mind, and if you will kill me without a second thought…"

"…I have no desire to kill you." Looking back at you, she waves the blonde and the brunette doll towards your hands. "Even if it were not up to the letter of our agreement, which does specify that you return alive, but fixed, I have no desire for that." Her eyes met yours again, the seven colors within swirling like mad. "Death is… quite the ugly thing. I prefer that which is beautiful."

Tilting your head to the side, you watch her as the dolls lead you over towards the lone table in the room. "I didn't take you for someone who was so vain."

"Hmpf." Her expression not shifting, she pointed at the table. "Sit on it." As you did as directed, warily watching her still, she began to speak. "It is not so much vanity, I would like to think, as it is my having a lack of beautiful things around me to appreciate."

Raising an eyebrow, you gesture towards the ceiling. "But that is a beautiful house that you have. Perhaps a bit old and musty, but it is still quite nice. Especially compared to that burrow…"

"Then you need to understand that beauty is not just a comparative quantity. The abode that is above us now may be beautiful on the surface, but it is merely a facsimile of what truly is attractive." Grabbing your feet about the ankles, she swings them onto the top of the table. Within seconds, wires again secure your feet, causing your hackles to immediately rise. "Do not descend into that again, beast. Not when I still need another who understands what I speak of."

Slowly, ever so slowly, you force your instincts down. "Then it would behoove you to speak clear, as I find myself confused still."

A ghost of a smile flickers on her face once more. "Better. But there is more to beauty than those things that you can see. Music, after all, can be beautiful. Just as conversation with an intelligent person is beautiful." Pausing, she grasps your wooden hand, turning it over in her own. "Just as a deadly storm itself is beautiful. The destruction is ugly, but the symphony that creates it…"

"So, that is why you wanted me to come over? You wanted to see if I was… worthy?"

The girl spares you but a glance before returning to her examination. "That is not quite the nail whose head I wished you to hit, but that is close enough to be sufficient." Another moment later, she fixed you with her stare, cold and hard. "You are an abomination. You have beauty on the outside, but that which is ugly and bestial overwhelms it. For every feather that is lovely, you have a claw and tooth that is unsightly. Not to mention that you never were that great of a vision before you came here."

Having trodden all over your ego, she continues to lecture you. "Which is why I gave you this gift, beast. I wanted to give you something beautiful, if you still possessed the mind to appreciate it. It is good to know that my own presumptions were not without merit."

You can't help the smile that quirks your own lips. "I thought you told me not to presume, Margatroid. You grew affronted when I dared to do as such earlier."

"I did, did I not?" Shrugging her shoulders, she lowered your hand to the side before binding it down. "That is rather hypocritical of myself. Although, it is something that you should grow quite accustomed to. Youkai such as myself tend to be like that. Always looking for some loophole to take advantage of."

All joviality falls from your face as you consider the girl. As she moves to grab your right hand, you ask, "What are you trying to tell me? There's something that I'm not quite understanding."

"Youkai can be taken at their word, beast." Ignoring your question completely, she trails one finger that is suspiciously warm over the palm of your hand. "That is why this was always going to happen. I am bound by my word to fix your music box, and I will do just that. No more, and no less." After a few moments staring at your hand, she mutters something incomprehensible under your breath. Before you can ask, she cuts you off. "It is the same for us all, whatever type we might be. And it is the same for you."

"…" Silently, you regard the girl for a moment longer. "You are referring when you took my hand. I would have hardly called that a beautiful moment."

"True. But spoiling yourself in front of a lady is never a beautiful moment in time." Ignoring the growing blush, she continued. "Just as we are bound by the exactness of our word, never expect us to honor the spirit of what you intended when you spake to us."

After one more moment of examining your palm, she binds it to the table just the same as the other. Before she can go on another spiel, you can't help yourself from asking, "What is wrong? Your hands aren't so cold anymore."

Her eyes meet yours for a moment. "Be glad that I consider this not a continuation of our conversation earlier. Elsewise, you would owe me more." After another stare, she pointedly placed a hand on your chest and held you down. As she did, she sat upon the edge of the table, the skirt bunching up just slightly as she did. "As you might be able to tell, the Master is only so kind."

Glancing down, you meet hands that are browner than before. More importantly, each digit is rigid and jointed, strung together by string and brass. "Quite the ugly sight, is it not? I wish I could have done for you what I did for myself, beast. Even my powers are limited, though."

Nodding idly, you lean back on the table. "So I… So I see. So you weren't going to turn me into a doll?"

"If I were, I would have left you to be with the Master. She would have done the job herself." Pausing for another moment, she sighed. "I… I would have hoped that would have been obvious."

"Careful there… You're almost sound like a human, Youkai." It does help your psyche knowing that a certain fate was not about to befall you.

Margatroid herself did not seem to find it as amusing. "I gave that part of myself up long ago. I am a Youkai now, just the same as them." Looking at you, she smiles even wider. Even if it isn't quite as creepy as it was earlier, it still made your spine shiver. "Trust me here, though, beast. I promise you once, I promise you twice, and I promise you thrice that I will not make you any more of an abomination. Whatever I do to you, it will be beautiful."

Leaning even closer, you began to shiver. Even if her hands were no longer cold, her body still had that chilling aura. "Thank you for accepting this, beast. It lets me not waste too many of those favors that you owe me. Four you once did, but after my next few words it shall be three."

Taking a deep breath, you hear a voice command you with unearthly power. One that you immediately succumb to.

"Sleep."

------------

Voting post will be up tonight. Here's some fuel to toss on the fire of speculation that everyone is weaving. Have fun!
>>No. 26510
Not really much to discuss this time. Just some random thoughts:

>gave that part of myself up a long time ago
How long, I wonder? How long did it take for her to lose her human self and gain such the thought processes of a Youkai, and the power, which - though it pales in comparison to her own master's - is even acknowledged by Wriggle? Could we gain such power, I wonder?

>not make you any more of an abomination
It seems she considers the dolls abominations?

>you shall owe us four favors for four questions asked
Oh god it's Favors Owed all over again.
>>No. 26511
File 135389257632.jpg - (847.83KB, 1836x1053, such a wonderful sound.jpg) [iqdb]
26511
Light slowly burns as your eyes as they flicker open, gazing out onto the cruel world you had been cast into. It takes you a few seconds to even realize that you are once more in the house, albeit not in the same room that you were in earlier when you awoke. Glancing at the familiar papered walls, you recognize a few of the patterns upon them.

Immediately you sit up from your position on that old couch. You feel your wings flutter behind you as they spread themselves out, one of them quite squashed from your napping. Not feeling anything immediately wrong with you, you stretch your arms as you let out a loud yawn. Your neck pops as you stretch your body, and you finally cast your eyes around the room.

In the corner of your mind you hear a woman idly humming, seemingly bored and doing her best to pass the time. As you turn your head about the room, you spot the familiar redhead sitting at the edge of a nearby table, staring at the floor while she kicks her feet against the wooden boards. "I wonder when he'll wake up…"

Odd that you would hear a voice nearby, considering that neither Margatroid or Alice is nearby. Shrugging it off, you look down at the doll. Smiling at her, you open your mouth to ask, "H͢ey̛,͟ Ams͞ter͠d̵am. ҉ ̡How ͏a͢r҉e̕—" Your hands immediately clap to your mouth.

"Ẁha͡t ͏is͟ ҉w͡ron͢g҉ w͜it̕h͞ m̧e͠?" Your voice is not sounding like itself at all. Instead of the rather monotonous, dull voice that you have been accustomed to your whole lifetime, your voice is now bright and metallic, positively ringing with every sound that escapes your mouth.

It doesn't sound good. It isn't right. It isn't yours. Your hands begin to search all over your head and neck for any indication of what had happened. You find nothing on your head that feels out of place. What is left of your ears also hadn't changed, both of them being flat and gone from your head.

Quickly, you begin to examine your mouth and jaw. Your clawed hand feels nothing out of place, no wood or metal strapped where flesh shall be. It begins the search inside of your mouth, trying to feel for anything out of place. Disregarding the sharp teeth of a monster, thoughts of which only trigger the hunger pains within your belly, you grab your tongue. It also has not changed, still the same as before."

At that, you begin to continue examination wherever and whenever you can, feeling every exposed bit of your body. "Wh͘at̷ ͡did̴ ͢th͢a͞t͠ g̵i̸r̡l ͡d͠o̵ t̶o ͞m͡e; ͜ ͡I͟s sh̕e ҉eve͠n͜ ̸st̕i̶ll a͟ ́g̨įr͟l?" As you talk, you hear the slightest bit of whirring along with the tinkling tenor of your bright voice. "…̧Testįng̀…̶Te̢s̵tinǵ…" You gulp as your hand grabs your throat, and you feel the threads of stitching lining an incision in it. "O̵ne…̢Two҉…͏T̷hre͟e̶…́ ̧ O̧h͞ no.͡"

With every sound that leaves your throat, you hear the small, tinny noises made by spinning gears, brass drums and tiny springs. You find yourself sinking back into the couch, both of your mismatched hands clenched on your throat. "W͝hat̡ mons̵t͞ro҉sit̴y͠ d̕i͞d̸ ͡shę ͞cr͟ea͞te͡? ̧D̀id͡ ̵sh͠e͞… ̨D̸i̡d̕ ͟s̨he͟ br͜ea͘k ͜he͠r ͝p̡romis̸e? ͜S͝h̵oul̡d ͞I͏ ̴not ̷h͜ave ̷tru͠ste̴d ̀he͞r͟?̵"

With every bright note that leaves your mouth, you find yourself wincing more and more. Could have Margatroid done this just to spite you, and to show you that even she could not be trusted? Or was this something more… "I̧f ̸s̷he ̸w̸as a d̴oll̶, ma̡y͟b̴e̡ şhe͡ h̶ad͡ t͜hi̕ś d͜on͏e ̷to her?" You can't say for sure.

Even as you think, though, you see the doll slowly coming towards you. Standing on your knees, she looks up at your face as you cringe at the sound of your own metallic voice. "He looks like he's about to freak out… What should I do? Can I do anything? Or am I just another freak in this madhouse to him… I would hope that he remembered his not-promise…"

[ ] "…Amsterdam? Can I hear you?"
[ ] "Ok, this is a dream within a dream within a dream. Am I going to wake up soon?"
[ ] "Fuck. Just fuck."
[ ] Anemia Option
[ ] Obligatory Write-In Option

------------

>>26510

>abomination
That was a mistake on my part. I meant to imply that she would not make you any more of an abomination that [i]Wriggle
has. So you should put that misunderstanding on me and my poor writing.

>Favors Owed
I haven't read that one myself. So, I shan't do it, so I don't copy anything. Or get any bright ideas to torture you more, eh?
>>No. 26512
[X] "...Amsterdam? Can I hear you?"

Not really much of a decision here. Will keep an eye out for write-ins, though.
>>No. 26513
[x] Amsterdam... I can... hear you.

Looking in the bright side, we got something out of it. and that Margatroid did something besides playing with our voice box
>>No. 26514
[X] "…Amsterdam? Can I hear you?"

Music box status: replaced?
>>No. 26515
[X] "…Amsterdam? Can I hear you?"
>>No. 26516
[-u-] "…Amsterdam? Can I hear you?"

------------

"Ąm̡st́ȩr̴d͘am̨…" Looking down at the girl, you open your eyes wide. "Can I͝… ͟H͢ea͘r͜ yo͢u?" Looking down at the doll, you lean in, your current worries pushed to the side.

For her part, the doll does not flinch away. Instead, she seems to just stare at you with those familiar wide eyes. "You can hear me? I had hoped, but I didn't expect you to be able to know our song so soon."

Tilting your head to the side, you continue to stare at the girl. "I di̡d̢n't̴ kn͜ow yo͞u ̀w͞ere̶ ̸c͞a͢p҉able ̢o͢f̴ singìng̵. Alt͘ho̴ug̀h̛, ͟I͏ ̛w̶ould ͏hardlý ͏ca͏ll ͡t́h̴is͘ h̕o͞r͠r̢ib́l͠e ̧s̸ou̡nd l͏eav͜i͘ng͠ m̕y͡ ҉mout͜ḩ s͜i͡ng͡i̶n͢g͘…"

The doll watches you for a few moments before floating even closer. "It is not the same. I am not moving my mouth to speak, as I have no mouth to move." As her wooden hands touch her lips, you wince noticeably. "Do not worry. I have… grownaccustomed to my rather limited range of motion. Although I do envy what you are able to do…"

Your face burns as you look away, not wanting to look at someone who is suffering a much greater deal than you have the entire time you have been here. "I̵'̸m̶ ̡s҉orr͝y͝, A̵m̷s͏te̡ŗda͘m… I̸t'̕s͟ ̡j͞u͜st̛ so e͢asy to ̵fo͏rg̕e͜t."

"Do not worry, friend." The doll seems to smile at you while she reaches up to pat you on your cheek. "Your predicament is personal. You are acutely aware of what has been done to you. Everything that has been changed." Her hand droops down and brushes over the threads, causing you to flinch at the reaction of your tender skin.

Staring at her red mane, you find yourself asking with your voice, mechanical and bright, "W͝hat͝ ̀has̕ be͏e͟n͡ ch͘an͡ged͘?̨ ͞ I'm ͡af̨raid͟ t͡o as͡k̀,̴ b̨ut…͏"

"You need to know." The doll floats up in front of you, staring straight into your eyes with her glass ones. "You had your music box replaced. What made your voice before now is brass and spinning gears…"

You wince at the confirmation that has been given to you. Coughing to clear your throat while noticing that even that act created a musical tone, you ask, "S͞o͘, t̵hat͟ was a̸l̶l͢?̢ Wh͘y ̧is̸ it́ ͡th́at I̶ can ͞he̛a̸r͘ ҉y̛ou͟ no͏w, ̕th͝ough̛?"

"I can answer that question for you." Immediately spinning around, doing your best to check your motion and prevent Amsterdam from being batted aside by your wings, you look straight at the girl who had just entered the room. "Although, we can do it on the walk back. You have recovered enough over the previous night."

As Margatroid looms above you, you stand up to look the smaller girl in the eye. "J̸ust͡ a night? ͞ ̷I w͟ou͞l͞d͡n̡'̴t͝ h̕av͏e͜ ͟t̛h͏ou̡g̨h̕t ͝su̧ŗgery ͏c͘o̷u̴l̴d h͢a͞v̸e̡ b̵een͞ ͡a͏ćc̴o̕mpl̷ish͘e͟d ͝só ͠q҉u͜ick̡ly͜.͞ Es̡peciall͏y̸ wi̕t͘ho̕ut̷ ́a͞n͟y̧t͠h̛ing to h̷ea̡l…"

"You should know that there are powers at hand that can accomplish such trivial feats quickly." Not giving you one more moment to wait, she grabs you by the wrist and marches you towards the exit. "Even if it was actually less. Time does not flow the same way in here that it does on the outside. Still, we must be off."

Automatically, the doll floats after you, before she was cut off by Margatroid's eyes. "You should stay, Amsterdam. What would Alice think if one of her dolls grew fond of a visitor?"

"That she should keep the other, so that they could be 'happy'." The doll hangs her head, before peeking through the bangs to look at you. "Still, I wanted… Well, goodbye, beast." At that, she turned away, and began to float down the hall.

[ ] Break away from Margatroid. That isn't how you want to say goodbye.
-[ ] (How do you say goodbye?)
[ ] Let her tug you along. The taller girl has a point, as always.

&

[ ] Topics to bring up on way back.
-[ ] Can I make myself sound normal?
-[ ] Why can I understand the dolls?
-[ ] Whose side are you on?
-[ ] Is there anything you can tell me about Wriggle?
-[ ] Choose your own

------------

No hard limit on the second option. Ask as much as you think prudent. But there is wall potential, if such a thing is desired.

Also, last update is not fixed, due to my password not working. Sorry about that.
>>No. 26517
[ ] Let her tug you along. The taller girl has a point, as always. However, do say your farewells to the doll

[X] Is there anything you can tell me about Wriggle? It would be best to stick to the most vital, as the sound of your voice, and the reason you can understand dolls shan't help you escape. If it doesn't seem as if she has any kind words of importance for Wrigglo, ask her if she would consider herself for, or against wriggle's actions. It is best to be careful when asking for such things, after all.
>>No. 26518
[X] Do not piss off Margatroid. But still call out to Amsterdam:
-[X] "Goodbye, Amsterdam. I hope the next time we meet, it will be under more pleasant circumstances."

&

(Can we ask one question at a time, responding to new information, rather than have a wall?)
Assuming not, in order;

[X] "I'm curious - what did you do with the hand and voice box you removed?"
[X] "Why can I understand the dolls?"
[X] "Can I make myself sound like I used to?"
[X] "Why would Wriggle ask you to change my voice box?"
[X] "What is she paying you, anyway?"
[X] "What can you tell me about her?"
[X] "You said that this was a land of illusion and madness. What does that actually mean?"
>>No. 26519
>>26518

You may. Whichever is preferred I shall do. So if you want a tit for tat, I can do that.

...And in the future, I shall try not to rhyme.
>>No. 26520
>>26519
In that case, please take the first topic from my list in >>26518 to begin with, if we're not doing the wall.

Also, you refrained from ending with "next time, I shall try not to rhyme", so you're already succeeding!
>>No. 26521
Well, was ready to start, but we've only two votes, still. I'll keep checking back until I've enough for a consensus.

>>26520
Such is progress, I suppose. But now I am going to actively have to resist rhyming, to prevent me from relapsing!
>>No. 26522
[X] Do not piss off Margatroid. But still call out to Amsterdam:
-[X] "Goodbye, Amsterdam. I hope the next time we meet, it will be under more pleasant circumstances."

Ask about:
-[x] "Is there anything you can tell me about Wriggle?"
-[x] "Why can I understand the dolls?"
-[x] "Just curious, what happened to the things that were replaced?"

This should cover most of what happened. Also wary of asking too much because owing favors isn't something I'd like too much.
>>No. 26523
[-v-] Do not piss off Margatroid. But still call out to Amsterdam:
-[-v-] "Goodbye, Amsterdam. I hope the next time we meet, it will be under more pleasant circumstances."
&
[-v-] "I'm curious - what did you do with the hand and voice box you removed?"

------------

As much as you'd prefer to give her a proper farewell, you know that you can't do such a thing. There is no reason that you should put either yourself or Amsterdam in such jeopardy. There is even less of a reason for you to upset Margatroid, especially when you are still unsure whose side she is on. So, in order to not annoy the one whom you think you can persuade to help you, you let her pull away.

Even so, you cannot just let the doll float away without any words, even if they are from your mutilated throat. "Goo͠db͢ye͟,̢ Am͟s͜t͞erd̡am.҉ ̧I͘ h͢ope the ǹext t͟i͜me we̛ ͞me͘e̶t̸, it wi̢ll͠ ͟b͞e͢ ́under m͠o͢re̢ p̷lea҉s̵a͜nt c̀i̸rcu͢ms̡tànc͏e̶s."

The doll nearly jumps in the air at your musical call, before glancing back at you. Staring at you for a second, you are surprised when she lets out a small giggle. "So formal. You needn't be like that…" Still the doll picks up her skirt and curtsies to you all the same. "I hope that as well. Goodbye, friend."

Without further ado, she immediately turns tail and darts back into the depths of the house. Taking just as little time, Margatroid tugs on you with her cold grip and pulls you out of the house. You find that your wings start to beat in protest at the movement, but you force yourself to calm them down.

Once outside of the house, Margatroid lets go. "You shouldn't be so brazen. Saying such things when the Master of that abode could hear it… All to say farewell to a doll." Giving you a push on the shoulder, she forces you to start walking forward in what appears to be a random direction from the household.

"Ẁhy s̡h̵ou̕ldn̵'͝t I͠? ͘Sh̨e̸'s the one th́a̶t ̧h̵a̵s been ͟mo̴s͢t ̧fr͡iendl̕y ̧to m̨e.̸ Even ͟if ̶I͠ could̸n't̵ u̡n̸dersta̶nd̛ ̷h̸e̷r̛ ̡u͘n̵t͟i͞l just͘ ̨now,҉ s̷h͜e's n̵o͜t had any ulte͘ri̢or̛ m̡o͟ti͘v̧e͠." You watch her for a moment longer as she continues to lead you down an unfamiliar path. "Bes̷ides̸, y͢o̷u̕'̵r̴e ̷th͟e͠ last ̀pe҉rso̸n t͏h̴at shou̵l͡d̷ be̸ ̛dis̀pa̕ra̶g͏in͜g̶ ano͠the͏r fơr͝ ̵b̶eing̢ f̧o͡rce͡d into that f̛o͝rm̕."

The cold girl shoots you another look, furrowing her brow as she does. "As I have said many times, you should not assume. I would hope by now that you would have understood that I mean what I say. Do not think otherwise, just because you do not appreciate the words that your earholes hear."

Feathers bristling noticeably at the slight, you force yourself to eventually calm down. The next minute or two passes by as she leads you down a path which is quite unfamiliar, and untrodden at that. If there was any ground that was beaten by traffic at one point or the other, it had long ago grown over. All the same, it was no impediment to Margatroid, whose slow, deliberate strides knocked aside any brush that did not yield before her.

Eventually, though, you realize that you need to learn something from the girl. She may appear to be in a rather inhospitable mood now, but she never seemed to be in a good mood. Deciding to start with something rather inconsequential, you grind the gears and force your mechanical voice to speak once more. "I…͟ find mys̕e͟l̛f ćurious.̨ W͜ha̕t̕ ͏did you ̕d̵o w͡i͟th ̕the ͟h͜an̴d an̵d v̵oi̧c̀e bo̷x̷ t͢h͢a͘t y̛ou͏ r͜em̢o҉ve̷d͘?"

Not even breaking her stride, she locks those swirling, dead eyes on you. "I am going to repurpose them. Manipulating wood and metal is but child's play to me, but flesh takes a great deal more effort and time for me to have any success upon."

You clench your wooden left hand as she answers your question. "S̵o,͡ ҉I̶ ͞ta͟k̸e͝ it tha̧t ͞th̵i̛s ẁa͜ş j́us̛t̛ ͘a̛s͢ ḿùc̸h̀ for ́yoùr ̷bene͏fi̢t͢ ͏as͢ it͝ was f͠or͠ ̵m̢íne.̸"

"Indeed." After studying you for a few more moments, she glances away, concentrating on making your way through the thick forest. "However, that does not make it any less of a gift. If I were strong enough to give you back your original hand, I would have done that. I merely settled for the next best option."

Slowly, your hand loosens itself, and you let out a small note of a sigh. "T̴hąt̴ ̕ma̶k̴e͠s ͡me fe͏eļ a͢ bit b́èt͜te͏r, ̛a̡lth͜òu̕g͏h I͜ ̨wou͘l̸d̵ have͘ p̨refer̨red ҉t͡h̵e͜ option,͝ ̕st̸il̸l͝…̷" Watching the back of her short hair bounce just slightly with every step, you ask, "Why ̧d̡idn'̴t ̢yo͢u̢ tell ͠me ̷thi̡s ̴be̷f͘ore̸?̧"

"You didn't ask."

[ ] Topics to bring up on way back.
-[ ] "Can I make myself sound normal?"
-[ ] "Why can I understand the dolls?"
-[ ] "Whose side are you on?"
-[ ] "Is there anything you can tell me about Wriggle?"
-[ ] "What is she paying you, anyways?"
-[ ] "You said that this was a land of illusion and madness. What does that actually mean?"
-[ ] Choose your own

------------

Gonna do one at a time, since the only person who said one way or the other wanted shorter updates. Cheers!

And I hope no one minds if I include salient write-ins in the choices.
>>No. 26524
[X] "You said that this was a land of illusion and madness. What does that actually mean?"
>>No. 26525
[X] "Alright then... Well, since it seemed like you were earlier intending to tell me, why can I understand the dolls?"
>>No. 26526
As much as I hate to do this... Could we please have some more votes, so that I can finally update? I've been ready for a while, and was hoping we could continue. While I could flip a coin, I'd prefer not to do such a thing on this section. If not, I'll flip later so that we can continue.
>>No. 26527
[X] "Alright then... Well, since it seemed like you were earlier intending to tell me, why can I understand the dolls?"
>>No. 26528
[-w-] "Alright then… Well, since it seemed like you were earlier intending to tell me, why can I understand the dolls?"

------------

"Al̡right͡ then…͏" Sighing, you turn back to the trail that isn't and continue to walk. As you brush aside a stray branch with your wooden hand, you are reminded of what happened earlier. "E̵ar̛l̸ier̛, it ̛s̶ee̷me̛d͜ ͏li͠ke ̡you w͘ere i͏nten͏d̨ing̛ t͡o͜ tell̢ me why I̡ ca͠n̶ ̢unders̢t̴an̡d t̡he do̵ll͝s."

"Hrm." Margatroid shrugged aside another branch as they came to a small clearing in the forest. Stopping for a moment, she leans against a nearby tree before staring at you. "I was intending you. Although, I did expect that to be your first question, not the second."

"Now, ̢who w͘as̶ ͠i͏t͞ ̴t̸hat sa̕íd̕ ̶s͝o̡ḿet̵hi͠n̕g ̀a͝b͜ou̡t̀ a̵ss̵u͢ming?̨" You can't help the small smile that crosses your face, even if it is muted by the sound of metal being plucked in your throat. Standing by her side, you wait for her to respond.

It takes a few moments for her to do so as she looks away and stares towards the leafy cover of the forest. "I did not assume you would have asked it then. I was merely sharing my expectations, and what I was prepared for." Pinching her nose, she glances at you for a second, before continuing to gaze at the forest. "It is quite simple, though. You are now able to speak their tongue. That is why they are able to speak to you in return."

"…̴S̢o͏m͟eth͞i̴ǹg͠ ̕tel͜ls͏ ̧m̕e ̢it̢'s ̧a͟ l͟it̢tl͘e̢ ̕mo̵re ͞comṕl̷i͝c͠ated͢ ̨t͟hàn̴ ͠t̸h̕a̧t͝.͞" Rubbing your throat to remove the hoarse feeling in it, you point to the side of your head with that wooden hand of yours. "W̕hy w̕o̵ul͞d ͟ćh̸ang̨ing̵ m̶y voi̷ce ͠hàv̴ȩ ҉a͏nyth͢ing͞ ̧t̵o̢ ͘d̴o w̵i̛th̢ w͠h͠at I҉ hȩar?"

The girl gives you yet another pitying look before returning her gaze to the forest. "Tell me, did you hear the voice with your ears? Or did you do it instead with your mind?"

Thinking back for a second, you can't quite say for sure. Even though you know that you did hear her, you never even thought it might be that you heard it through your mind. "…Į don'̸t̀ knoẃ…́ ͠H̀e͏r ̶mo͠ut͘h did̸n͢'t ́mov̡e w͢hen sh̸e ͢sp̀ơke̶,͡ t͜hou҉g̶h…̨"

"So, it should be fairly obvious." Turning back to face you finally, you wait for the cold girl to speak. "However, I probably should not castigate you too badly. You are rather ignorant of what I am, and what they are."

"T͘el̀l͞ m̨e͝ then." You wring your hands together awkwardly, wanting to do something but still unsure what exactly to do. "If ͜I̴ don̶'́t ̛kno͟w͡, y͘ou c̨an͞'͡t ͡expect m̀e̵ ͡to un͢de͟ŕst̨a͜nd,̨ ͝ça҉n̷ ̵you̸?͘"

The girl blinks, before giving you the barest hint of a smile. "I cannot. But you should first know what you yourself are, beast. And how different you are from us." Her hand trailed along the tree nearest to her.

"Tell me, beast." Waving her hands at everything that is nearby, be it the trees or the leaves or the twigs on the ground, she gestures with more force than you've seen her do. "Tell me what you see. Tell me what you feel. Are the colors more vivid? Are the sounds cleaner and purer?"

"I̷'m…̶ ̀I̸'m͠ not̶ sure.̨" Glancing around at the greenery that surrounds you, you suppose that what she says could be the case. "Į'͜ve͝ ̵l͏i͠v̷e̵d̕ ̀s̴o m͞uc̢h͡ of͝ my l͡i̢fe̴ in͞ ͝a̷ ̵c͞o͜ncr̨e͢te̵ ju͢ng̛l͘e. N̶o̵t t̕o m̷entįo̸ń tha̶t ͟I'v̛e ̷had̕ n͠a̛ry̢ ̧a̡ moment ̶t͘o si͡m͘pl̀y be." Curiously, you place your good hand on the trunk of a nearby tree and feel the bark on your skin. It is rough, tearing against every inch, yet your clawed hand is tough enough to not rip as you pull it down the tree. "Al͟l ̡I̕'v̛e ̸not̢i͠c҉e͢d ͏i̡s how͞ ̢b̡r͝i̡ght th̶e̸ ̢s͟u͞n҉ is͘, ͘esp͢eci̷a̸lly̛ after̛ ̢bei̵ng̷ in̶ t҉h̴at͡ burrow."

Margatroid gives you a curious look, slowly raising an eyebrow. "Is that so? I would have expected a much larger reaction from a beast such as yourself." Shrugging her shoulders, she still stares at you even more intensely, searching for something in you as she continues to speak. "That is the curse of many beasts. They are in tune with their more primal instincts. You simply feel more of the world."

Standing up once again, she walks towards you, before passing by and staring at something unseen to you. "The dolls, on the other hand, are elemental. Beings of wood, carved into the form of women." Glancing back at you with those cold eyes, she continues. "Inside, they are brass and clockwork, a mechanical likeness of life."

"They are not alive in the sense you would like to think. There is no heart beating within them, no blood to flow through their veins. Instead, they feel the beat of all that is like them subconsciously. They feel the world, beast, but it is a direct thing, because they are connected to it."

Listening intently, you hardly notice that she finishes her spiel. Even when you do, though, you remain silent as you think what she said through. Staring down at the hand on the end of your arm, something dawns upon you. "S͘o͠,̕ ͜i̷n͜ ef̢fe͢ct,͢ yo͞u h͜o͢o͏ked̸ ͢m҉e͏ up͠ t̸o ̡t̛h́e͞ world҉?"

Shaking her head shortly, Margatroid's eyes stayed on yours. "I gave you a gift. But it is not a gift that great. If I allowed you to see what they see, and feel what they feel, you would go insane. Your mind is not capable of handing that which humans nor beasts are allowed to know."

Narrowing your eyes, you bring up something that comes to mind. "Shouldn't that apply to you as well, if you were not always like this?"

The girl bites her tongue, before looking away. "That is of no matter here. All that stands is that I have gifted you more than even you are aware of. All that remains is for you to learn how to use it, if you so care to."

[ ] What is it that Margatroid is trying to hide? Dig deeper.
[ ] She must not want to say for a reason. Let it go, and ask why they stopped.
[ ] Using your gift? Is this something that could help you?
[ ] Ask something else (specify)
[ ] Move along. Wriggle probably isn't happy. And what she says wouldn't be that important, anyways.
>>No. 26529
[ ] Using your gift? Is this something that could help you? Would I have to discover it for myself, or would you be willing to tell me how?
>>No. 26530
[x] Using your gift? Is this something that could help you?

I'm confused, is this an action or a question?
>>No. 26531
[X] Using your gift? Is this something that could help you?
>>No. 26533
File 135405759457.jpg - (122.41KB, 480x320, the image i want to use is for next post.jpg) [iqdb]
26533
[-x-] Using your gift? Is this something that could help you?

------------

"…͟How dò ͢y̶ou mean͞ ́th̸àt?" Looking at the back of the Youkai's head, you watch her for a few moments as she stands still. "W͞h̡at abo͞u҉t u͢s͝in̛g ̛m̕y̧ ̨gift, ͢as̢ ͝yoų ̴pút ͘it̵? ͜I ̶t̡h̨i̕nk͝ thąt̡ ͡I a͟m ͢mi͟s̢si̴ng̡ ̢s͠o̴meth̨ing h͝ere̵…͏"

The girl sighs, before looking back at you. "I do not have too much time. If I tarry too long, I imagine that she will become angry, yes? Just as Alice is unhappy if I stray for too long. So be silent, and listen beast. It may be hard for you to think, but you need to understand."

Suddenly Margatroid marched forward, placing her cold hand on your throat. Even as your hands shot up to remove her appendage, she shot you a withering glare, forcing you to stand down. "Your curiosity is commendable, beast, but you need to focus it on that which is pertinent. For the moment, I shall show you enough that Wriggle will not despair when you return."

Gulping, you feel your saliva slowly slide down your throat. As it passes her hand, you swear that it seems to slow down due to the cold, but you think that it is just your imagination. "W̴il͏l ̀yo̶u ex͢pla̛i̴n̡—"

"Silence." Your mouth clamps shut as she stares you down, those dead orbs of her swirling with colors that you cannot imagine. "You will listen, beast, and listen well. Tell me that you remember that which I spoke to you on the previous day."

"I be̢li̛e͏v͟e͘ ́so̶, but w͞h̨ich ̡p̵a̵r͠t́?"

Pausing for a second, you feel her sigh on you, the cold air washing over your neck. "What this land is. This land that is illusion and glamour. This is Gensokyo. And just as it is illusion, you are as well."

Silently, you bid her to speak, your eyes automatically darting about. You honestly cannot say whether it is to check for any intruders, or to see if there was some way for you to escape. "G͜o ͏o͢n̷,̷ ̧Marģat̀roid.̡ ͡ ̢Ṕleas̀e te͝l͢l ̡ḿe̢ ̨how ̧yo̢u̸ ͘m͘ea̶n."

"Realize what it is that I am asking you to do. Realize that I am asking you to cast aside that which makes you human, at least for a moment." The lips on her face seemed to fall as her eyebrows droop, and just for a moment Margatroid looks ashamed and vulnerable before you. "I ask you to let go of yourself, and fall to that which makes you primal."

"…Wh̷a͜t?́" Shaking your head, you cannot believe what is coming out of the girl's mouth. "Mar͢gat̛ŗo̴id,̵ ̀yo̢u̢'rè ͏no̸t ̴m̴ak͡i̛n̡g ͜[i\s̷en͢s̵e[/i].͡ ́ ҉Why͞ w͝oul̶d ͜y͠o͝u—"

"Wriggle will be unhappy if your voice sounds as it does now." Frowning, Margatroid shakes her head. "Even if it is what she asked for, the beast in her will not agree to such mechanical sounds. If you do not wish to fall to her hand, fall to your instincts and use your magic."

Slowly you shake your head as you try to back up. However, you feel your feet not responding to your desires, nor will your hands move to push her away. "W̶ha͢t m̵a̢dne̴s̷s̴ ar҉e ̧you̶ ͝t̨al̵k̵ing͘ aboưt̕?͟ I̷ ͞hąve͠ ̸n͝o… ̀no̢ ma̕gi̵c̴."

Margatroid's eyes bore into yours as she continues to stare into your soul. "We are illusion, beast. We are magic. Accept it. Accept what you are, and force your voice to change."

[ ] You are a beast. With wings and claws, you are a bird that flies on the air. Accept it.
[ ] You are a doll. The process may be slow, and you may hate the wood and brass, but you have the whole world to feel.
[ ] You are a human. You aren't one of these things, not at all. Deny it.
[ ] You don't know what you are. You may be part a bird, you may be part a doll, but you are neither and both. You are more. Accept it

------------

Short, but important post. Next one will have the new thread.

Also, I have to tease and say that there is one choice that I really want to write. But in the end, it is up to you. So tell me, THP, what are you?
>>No. 26535
I think I can guess which one you want to write, just comparing the options. Well, either that one or the Bad End. Anyway,

[X] I am the bone of my
Wait, wrong game.

Uh, out of personal preference, I'm rephrasing the chosen option into first person and adding a little here and there as it sounds more awesome to me this way:

[X] I don't know what I am. Part human. Part bird. Part doll. None of them. All of them. Less yet more. To define myself, to attempt to encapsulate my entire being in such few, superficial words is a fool's venture, for none of us are merely the sum of our parts. If nothing else, then I will accept but this - I know not what I am, save that I am I.

[X] What is a man? A miserable little pile of se Alright, I'll shut up now.
>>No. 26536
[X] I don't know what I am. Part human. Part bird. Part doll. None of them. All of them. Less yet more. To define myself, to attempt to encapsulate my entire being in such few, superficial words is a fool's venture, for none of us are merely the sum of our parts. If nothing else, then I will accept but this - I know not what I am, save that I am I.

I like this one.
>>No. 26537
[X] You don't know what you are. You may be part a bird, you may be part a doll, but you are neither and both. You are more. Accept it

Even if you're not a human/bird/doll thing that doesn't make you less than one or something... I don't know where I was going with that.
>>No. 26538
[X] I don't know what I am. Part human. Part bird. Part doll. None of them. All of them. Less yet more. To define myself, to attempt to encapsulate my entire being in such few, superficial words is a fool's venture, for none of us are merely the sum of our parts. If nothing else, then I will accept but this - I know not what I am, save that I am what I am, and that's all that I am.
>>No. 26540
Part Two: >>26539
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