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[x] You want to carry Patchouli to her room since you feel bad for her. What happened to her wasn't entirely her fault.
Patchouli Knowledge’s room seems like it was originally for storage — not for someone to live in. There’s a large, plush-looking bed that takes up most of the space, with only a small cabinet for outfits — on top of which are a variety of pills and an inhaler. It’s easy to tell she spends most of her time in the library. There isn’t even a mirror, and you thought that was a necessity for a woman. Then again, Patchouli is a youkai with access to a time-bending maid. Her needs might be a little different.
Taking care with her frail body, you gently lower the unconscious magician onto her bed. You figure leaving her uncovered is the best for her asthma, but that’s really just an assumption. It’s not like you would want to tuck her in anyway, even though she does look pretty cute when she’s asleep.
Lucy sighs. “For all the times I fantasi—err, imagined meeting you, I never would have thought you’d end up putting Patchouli to bed so delicately.”
You look at Lucy. She avoids your eyes, but the jealousy in hers isn’t hard to miss. “She’s been through a rough time because of me,” you explain. “She can’t be held entirely accountable for her actions.”
“I don’t know how much you know about magicians,” Lucy says, “but she isn’t a human that was tempted by knowledge or corrupted by a mentor or anything tragic like that. She’s a full-blooded youkai witch who willingly lives with a vampire and has no moral quandries sharing a glass of human blood with her on a good night. I’ve always heard the stories and reports of how you treat youkai, but seeing it in-person just feels unnaturally self-sacrificial.”
Self-sacrificial. You hate that. “I prefer to think of it as being conscious of my worst mistake,” you mutter. Already you can tell you’ve said the wrong thing when you see curiosity blossom on Lucy’s face. “And I don’t see what’s so unnatural about humans and youkai trying to get along,” you add quickly. “Humans are capable of far more monstrous acts than youkai. That’s why I can work at Kakashi, under a tengu, dealing mostly with youkai.” And gods.
Lucy approaches you. “You speak from experience.” After a twitch of hesitation, she raises her hand to caress your face. “How—u, um, how deep are your scars, PI?”
Her awkwardness is nice, because it gives you a great opening to deflect. You grab her hand and move it away, but don’t let go. You get so close that you can feel her breaths on your neck. “Are you trying to seduce me again, Lucy? It sounds like you’ve been reading too many romance novels.”
She breaks completely, stepping away from you with a fierce blush. “I’m just trying to help! Geez. You don’t have to act so practical and cool all the time. A good lead character should go with the flow!”
You can’t help but laugh. “You’re the one who panicked. And I don’t know where you’re getting those ideas. I’m not practical, cool, or a lead character.”
She fidgets with her fingers. “Of course you’re the lead character, dummy. That’s why I wish you would um, stop being so cool. Because, you’re a human. And if you die, that’s it. But, it’s also really exciting when you have all these dangerous adventures so, um.” Suddenly, she shakes her head and cries, “Ahhh! It’s so frustrating! I don’t know how to feel!”
You don’t know how to respond to her delusions, until you hear a choking, gurgling noise and look back to the bed to find Patchouli coughing up some kind of dense foam in her sleep.
Lucy groans. “Oh geez. Just when it was getting good. I have to give her medicine or she’ll choke on herself. Blech.”
She sluggishly grabs one of the pill bottles on the plain wood dresser, empties more pills than you can count into her hand, and unceremoniously shoves them all into Patchouli’s half-open mouth. With a snap of her fingers, a glass of water appears out of thin air and also dumps itself into Patchouli’s mouth.
“Won’t that drown her?” you mention.
“Nah, she’s used to this,” Lucy responds. While she’s paying attention to you, Patchouli coughs most of the water down her chin. Lucy doesn’t even notice, and dismisses the empty cup with another snap. “Alright, she’s good.”
Patchouli stops making noise, but now she’s laying face-up and completely still — almost like she’s ready to go into a coffin. You can’t help but confirm with Lucy. “Are you sure?”
Lucy neglects to even look at her. “Yeah, she does this a lot. Like I said, she has so many enchantments on herself that she might as well be immortal.”
You’ll have to take Lucy’s word for it, and move on. “Well, now I have to think about how I’m going to avoid her until the party. I can’t let her get inside my head, Lucy. Come to think of it, why hasn’t she tried invading my dreams again??”
Lucy glances away with a nervous smile. “I was the one who actually invaded your dream in the first place, and she entered through the hole I was using.” Then she starts thinking. “It would be possible for her to enter your dreams on her own, but I think she knows that’s a bad idea. Something about your mind is very unstable, enough to even block out other people’s magic. I’m not sure what her plan is now. If I were her, I would create a neutral space that would temporarily house the entirety of both your consciousnesses, but that might have its own issues.”
Once again, that kind of magic talk goes over your head. “However it is, I’m happy to hear she can’t use any dream magic to get inside my head whenever she wants.” Then you stare at Lucy hard. “That just leaves you.”
Lucy blinks. “Me?”
“You also saw something you shouldn’t have seen.”
Lucy raises her index finger to her chin, thinks for a moment, then shrugs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. All I remember is a beautiful noir scene that was rudely interrupted. If I did see anything else, I’ve already forgotten it.”
Then she winks.
You smile and relax. “I think that’s the best answer you could’ve gave me. Some things need to stay buried and forgotten, Lucy.”
Lucy thinks. “I understand that.” When she catches your disbelieving look, she adds, “Honest. I’m a demon who isn’t even from this plane of existance, so there’s a limit to how much I can meddle with your affairs, anyway.”
You don’t know much about demons, but it would explain why Lucy doesn’t feel like a human, a youkai, or anything else you’ve encountered before. The rest might as well be gobbledeguk, but you think you understand the gist of what she’s saying. Focusing on the “what” instead of the “how or why” is how you make it through these types of conversations. “So you’re an outsider, looking in? It seems like you want to meddle with me quite a bit, though.”
Lucy’s tail catches your eye as it wags and flicks itself around. “W, what I’m doing now is no big deal. Sex — even um, love — between humans and demons is pretty common.” Then her expression turns serious. “However, I can’t interfere with the laws of the world. For example, I can’t exploit my presence outside the timeline to affect—”
Okay, even you have a limit. “Sorry,” you interrupt her, “but I’ll settle for an understanding of the very basics. I don’t really know anything about other existences or timelines or any of that.”
Lucy stops and smiles. “Ah, right. Then let me ask you this: if such a dangerous thing did exist inside you, do you really think you could control it by yourself? What happens when you die?”
“It’ll die with me.”
“And if it doesn’t?” she continues. “If whatever it is becomes larger than you?”
That’s something you’d rather not consider. If Kotohime somehow remained despite your death, you have no idea what would become of her. She might become a proper spirit, waiting to possess someone and go on a rampage again.
But the question is: could anyone even help? Anyone that you would trust? Mori or Hina, maybe. But you already decided not to expose them to this. You glance down at the unconscious Patchouli. The obsessed magician is all the proof you need that Kotohime’s influence is alive and well. If she did to Mori or Hina what she did to Patchouli, you couldn’t stand it.
Lucy stares at you, expecting an answer.
“I’ll resolve it myself,” you tell her. “It’ll be put to rest, somehow.”
Now Lucy is the one giving you a disbelieving look, but she lets the conversation end there.
Lucy couldn’t escort you back to your room since she wasn’t allowed to be a certain physical distance from Patchouli, so she begrudglingly let you call Sakuya by ringing your bell. The maid appeared promptly in about two-and-a-half seconds and began leading you straight out of the library. Before that, however, Lucy informed you that you were welcome to return to the library without concern because Patchouli would be resting for a few days. You told her that you would consider it.
“This library is one of our greatest treasures,” Sakuya remarks all of a sudden, as you reach the giant doors you entered from. “We are proud to have Miss Knowledge — and Koakuma — to watch over it.”
You haven’t heard that name before. “Koakuma?”
“She may go by ‘Lucy’ now, but Koakuma was the name given to her by my Mistress, so that is what I will use.”
Not a very original name from Remilia Scarlet, especially when compared to the long, drawn-out nonsense she spilled out in that invitation.
After taking advantage of Sakuya’s reminder that she could bring you food, you sit on your bed, alone but content. You can call on her to take back the used dishes later, since right now you want to try and log onto Kakashi with your phone. Half an hour later, you think you have it figured out.
*** Welcome to the new mobile KappaIRC! We hope you enjoy the slimmer interface.
*** now talking in #kakashi
*** topic is Official Channel for Kakashi Spirit News THE TRUTH | SEND NUDES TO firstname.lastname@example.org | SHAMEIMARU TERROR LEVEL: bad memories
<~internethatatemachine> look who it is finally
<AgentQ> I hope you’re doing okay, PI.
<~internethatatemachine> alright, gimme all you got
<~internethatatemachine> uh hello have you been compromised
<PI> typing on this thing is slow and annoying
<~internethatatemachine> too bad
<~internethatatemachine> fucking yaaaaawn
<~internethatatemachine> come on old man
<~internethatatemachine> its just a phone keyboard
<AgentQ> Take it easy on him, Hatate.
<~internethatatemachine> i refuse
<AgentQ> It’s a new technology.
<PI> I’ve been given a room at the Scarlet Devil Mansion. I met the magician who summoned me. She is mentally unstable. I avoided harm thanks to Lucy. We talked. She believes Remilia Scarlet is planing to oppose the tengu and seeks assistance from other youkai under the pretense of a birthday party.
<~internethatatemachine> holy shit
<~internethatatemachine> now thats more like it
<PI> And fuck you this keyboard is too small
<~internethatatemachine> now you know you have to talk to that vampire right
<PI> I figured
<PI> I don’t know if I can pull it off though
<PI> She doesn’t seem the type to meet with anyone
<~internethatatemachine> well its your job
<PI> Then I want an advance
<~internethatatemachine> excuse me what
<PI> This is more dangerous than anything you’ve ever asked me
<PI> By far
<~internethatatemachine> well uh you got kidnapped yourself
<~internethatatemachine> that was all lucy
<PI> But now it’s Kakashi business
<PI> So I want money
<PI> Give it to Mori
<~internethatatemachine> so thats what its about
<~internethatatemachine> i remember when we couldve been called partners
<PI> uh huh
<~internethatatemachine> i used to stroke my clit to your reports
<~internethatatemachine> i finally had an agent i could rely on
<~internethatatemachine> and now youre so interested in this little goddess
<~internethatatemachine> arent we friends
<PI> Give me money, Hatate
<~internethatatemachine> fine fuck you
<~internethatatemachine> nobody loves me i get it
<~internethatatemachine> Hina and that ghost chase me around all night
<~internethatatemachine> just for pointing out a simple fact
<~internethatatemachine> that you are now reinforcing
<~internethatatemachine> you love that goddess and im nothing
<~internethatatemachine> you think im just a boss barking orders to her assistant
<~internethatatemachine> but at least I respect you
<~internethatatemachine> i dont want to hurt you
<~internethatatemachine> you wouldnt know what its like
<PI> did they hit you in the head or something?
<~internethatatemachine> but okay ill give your little girl her money
<~internethatatemachine> and she can buy a diamond ring and propose to you
<~internethatatemachine> disgusting disgusting normalfags
*** internethatatemachine (email@example.com) has disconnected
<PI> Well then
<AgentQ> She was a bit depressed before you came in.
<PI> All I did was ask for what she owes me, Q
<AgentQ> I know.
<AgentQ> But she’s running out of money.
<AgentQ> That’s why she moved down there next to you.
<AgentQ> She was about to get kicked out of her last place.
<PI> Don’t try and guilt-trip me on this
<AgentQ> I don’t want to guilt-trip you.
<AgentQ> That wasn’t my intention.
<AgentQ> I’m really sorry.
<AgentQ> I probably shouldn’t have said anything.
<AgentQ> Please forgive me.
<PI> It’s okay, Q
<PI> don’t you start rambling too
<AgentQ> Right. Sorry.
<AgentQ> We don’t get a chance to talk like this often any more.
<AgentQ> I get nervous.
<PI> I remember
<PI> I don’t know much about you, but I trust you
<PI> And I’ll keep in mind what you said
<AgentQ> That’s good.
<AgentQ> Thank you.
<AgentQ> Are you alright?
<PI> Still wrapping my head around a lot, but fine
<AgentQ> That’s good.
<AgentQ> Is there anything you want to know about Remilia Scarlet before you meet her?
<PI> As long as she doesn’t try to tear my throat out, I’ll be fine
<AgentQ> I wish I could help out more.
<AgentQ> None of my gadgets ever work.
<AgentQ> I feel like a failure.
<PI> It’s okay, Q
<PI> None of us are over-achievers
<PI> As long as you achieve when it counts
<AgentQ> Thank you.
<AgentQ> I will try my best.
<AgentQ> But right now I’m going over some documents for Kanako Yasaka’s project.
<PI> you made it on the team?
<AgentQ> Not quite.
<AgentQ> I got myself recommended, but whoever designs a structure that matches her ideas best will get the job, and then they pick the team.
<PI> What are her ideas?
<AgentQ> It’s really hard to explain. I don’t understand it much myself.
<AgentQ> But it looks like she wants to supply free, limitless energy for all of Gensokyo.
<AgentQ> Not exactly an evil plan.
<PI> Sounds too good to be true
<AgentQ> That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
<PI> Did you tell Mori or Hatate?
<AgentQ> I haven’t seen Mori online, and I was going to tell Hatate, but she was a little occupied.
<PI> I see
<PI> Thank you for telling me, Q
<AgentQ> Of course. I’ll let you know what else I find out. There’s a lot to look at still.
<AgentQ> But it’s been a long time since I’ve slept.
<AgentQ> I should probably take a nap before I continue working on it.
<AgentQ> Good night, PI.
<AgentQ> Please stay safe.
<PI> good night Q
*** AgentQ (firstname.lastname@example.org) has quit (Signing out.)
With Q gone, there is little reason for you to linger in the dead #kakashi chatroom. You close your phone and lose yourself in your thoughts. Hatate’s paranoia and jealousy are nothing new, but Q’s explanation is. You assumed that all tengu were more-or-less rich, and Hatate was funding your little missions and investigations with whatever fat lump of cash she had been sitting on in her nest. You thought she moved into your apartment building because she wanted to keep an eye on you directly, instead of relying on Hina. But actually, Hatate’s resources have been dwindling. You only know small bits and pieces of Hatate’s troubled past with tengu society, but you never imagined they would be willing to cut her off and risk tarnishing their ideal that all tengu are simply superior to other youkai, living high on their big mountain, and enjoying all the luxuries of advanced society. However, Hatate is definitely an outsider to their society, and a hostile one at that. They must have finally decided that enough was enough. Suddenly, you’re a little worried about your income. Even if you don’t pay rent, you still have to pay for electricity, water, and food. If Hatate can’t pay you, how can you support everyone?
Wait, why are you even thinking like that? Why would you support everyone? In any case, nothing will come from worrying about it now. What Q revealed about Kanako Yasaka is far more important, and relevant to you and Mori personally. Limitless energy for Gensokyo sounds like a pipe dream. The meagre amounts of electricity Gensokyo does have is mostly funneled into the Central District, while residents of the slums experience frequent blackouts. The fact that you’ve had more-or-less consistent electricity in your apartment must be due to Hatate and/or Q’s influence. You wonder what Kanako Yasaka’s ideas are, but if a kappa is having trouble understanding, then there’s no hope for you.
A hard knock at the door startles you. “Room service.” It’s Sakuya. When you open the door, she peeks inside. “May I have your used dishes?”
“Of course,” you answer. While you pass them to her, you decide to take advantage of the convenient opportunity. “Miss Izayoi, would it be possible to meet your Mistress before the party? I would be remiss if I didn’t properly introduce myself beforehand.”
Sakuya’s eyes focus on you for a split second before returning to the plates. “That is difficult to tell. My mistress is quite busy, as she prepares to be a proper hostess for her guests. And to be blunt, she doesn’t find the idea of meeting ordinary humans to be worth her time.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy. “I see.”
As Sakuya closes the tray and holds it up with one hand, she adds with a little smile, “However, she finds herself bored at times — and you are not quite so ordinary. I’ll mention it to her in passing and gauge her interest.”
Your expression lightens up. Maybe Sakuya isn’t so bad — or she’s feeding you to a monster. Regardless, it’s what you want. “Thank you, Miss Izayoi. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”
Sakuya nods. “It’s no problem. I’m only looking out for my mistress, after all.” Then her expression gets harder. “I advise you to prepare yourself, though. Conversing with a vampire is not easy. See to it you don’t end up our mansion’s newest servant.” She smiles again. “Though I would be happy to have you.” Then she bows, keeping the tray of food perfectly level the entire time. “Have a good night, PI.”
You’re so caught off-guard that you can’t muster a response before she walks off. When you poke your head out the door, she’s already gone.
Needless to say, you had mixed results trying to sleep as the morning set in. Luckily, the mansion’s curtains are especially thick — as expected of a vampire’s abode. Your sleep schedule is going to be totally out-of-order, but you have to acclimate to the nocturnal residents if your stay is going to be fruitful. Thankfully, you were exhausted enough from yesterday’s events to get a few hours of restful sleep. But after waking up just past noon, it’s impossible for you to sleep any longer.
You prepare yourself for the day ahead, and your thoughts toward Remilia Scarlet once again. Sakuya’s words trouble you, but there’s no turning back now. She’s a youkai, she’s dangerous, and you’ll have to be prepared — that’s all there is to it. In that sense, she’s no different from any other.
But you don’t even know if you’ll be able to meet with her before the party. For now, you should find something to occupy yourself with. The sun is still shining brightly outside, so it’s likely the mansion’s residents are still sleeping — except for Sakuya, most likely.
 The garden outside looks nice. Maybe you should take a stroll and spend some time outside before night falls.
 Call Sakuya and ask her to escort you back to the library. You can do research with Lucy.
 Call Sakuya and ask if she can stay with you a while. You’re curious about the time-stopping maid.
 Wander around the mansion without Sakuya, because you’re just that reckless.