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[x] Call Mori.
If you’re reporting your status, then your partner needs to know first. Besides that, Mori has been far more desperate in her attempts to get a hold of you than the others. You can’t imagine her being so distraught, but you did vanish right in front of her. Would you be freaked out if the situation was reversed? Could you just shrug and say “it’s Gensokyo” like you used to?
No. You wouldn’t leave her. You couldn’t leave her. That feeling has been with you ever since your first morning together.
The phone rings only once before she answers, “Hello?! PI, is that you? Answer me!”
Mori’s voice is so loud that you have to hold the phone away from you. Even Sakuya winces out of sympathy for your eardrum.
“Yeah, it’s me,” you respond. “It’s PI. I’m okay. Everything’s fine, Mori.”
There’s silence for about a second. Then it’s another ringing outburst from the speaker. “What do you mean everything’s fine? You think you can just vanish for fourteen hours and then nonchalantly call me back like, like—”
Her voice stops, and you wonder if the connection has somehow eroded from the sheer volume of her voice. Then, you hear her laugh. “J, just kidding. Uh, y’know, of course I knew you were fine! I was just pissed you were ignoring me! I couldn’t stand it if you were having fun somewhere without me, y’know—I mean, uh, wait, you can have fun wherever you want, it’s just, I thought you would respond, or, um—”
You don’t know what’s wrong with her, but this isn’t the time for that, so you gotta make this quick. “Mori, it’s okay,” you reassure her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t respond sooner. I was unconscious because of an unexpected side-effect resulting from that maid’s teleportation powers. I’m completely unharmed.”
“Right,” she says, slowly calming down. “Yeah, that’s a relief. I mean, not a relief, because I knew you were fine anyway. Just, I mean—”
You have to cut her off again, or else she’ll keep going. “Mori. What about the others? Are you all really trying to rescue me?”
There’s another pause from the other end of the line. Then, yet again she strains the speakers of your phone. “The others! The plan! We’re uh, we’re about to reach the mansion, but now I can see that um—hold on, I gotta go and stop them!”
Before you can ask anything else, you hear a lot of rustling — wind, maybe? Then, you can hear voices: Mori’s, Hatate’s, Hina’s, and someone else’s that sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place it. There’s more rustling, then that voice you can’t quite pin down speaks to you directly over the line.
“PI, is this really you?”
Immediately a wave of relief washes over you, and you know that you’ve averted a true calamity.
“Yes Mima,” you respond, “it’s me.”
She sighs. “So, it is really you. I thought they might have charmed you, or mimicked your voice somehow.”
“Wait,” you begin, “I’m glad you realize that, but how can you tell it’s me just from my voice, over the phone?”
“Well, any magical influence would be detectable in the sound of your voice, regardless of how—ugh, never mind. I don’t really like explaining magic unless I’m about to kill the person I’m explaining it to in a villainous fashion.”
Wasn’t she supposed to be Marisa’s teacher? It seems like the more you learn about Mima, the more you understand about Marisa.
“Now,” she continues, “do I still need to blast this mansion to kingdom come, or are you calling it off?”
“I’m calling it off,” you answer immediately. “Can you put me on speaker?”
Mima hesitates. “I don’t know how this thing works. One of you, put it on speaker, whatever that means.”
You hear some more rustling, before Mori says, “Alright PI, you’re on speaker. It’s me, Mima, Hatate, and Hina.”
“Can he hear us now?” you hear Hina say immediately.
“Yeah, I think—” Mori begins, before she’s cut off by two very different voices.
“I am so happy to hear that you are unharmed, PI. Please forgive me, but I feared so greatly for your safety after you vanished—”
“PI, you motherfucking prick, I can’t believe I flew all the way out here because I was worried that you were getting your stupid ass drained like a stuck pig by loli vampires—”
“Yeah, it’s okay,” you tell both Hina and Hatate. “Thank you both for being worried. I mean it. But, I’m fine. How did you even get Mima to help out, anyway?”
“It sounded fun,” the ghost herself replies. “Mori told me the story when I dropped off your reward earlier today. That mansion has always been an eyesore to me, so I thought I could save you — which would be good — and destroy the place in the process, which would be great. Win-win.”
That’s some very Mima-sounding logic. “But you aren’t going to do anything now, right?”
“Nah,” she answers. “I can’t destroy that mansion for no reason. Reimu would seal me back up in that little box in a blink. She’s still pissed at me for everything that happened with Marisa.”
As she should be. “Alright then,” you say, “at least that’s settled.”
“Nothing’s settled!” Hatate cries. “Lucy’s gone totally rogue, and I have no idea what that girl is thinking! If she tries to rope you into working for Remilia Scarlet, then you better tell her that I have the exclusive rights to your ass! Ohhh, that girl is going to get it. Nobody backstabs me, not ever again! I’m the psychic detective, Hatate motherfucking Himekai—”
You close your eyes and rub your aching forehead with your free hand. “Hatate, for fuck’s sake, take it easy. I know as much as you all do at this point, and I’ll keep all of you updated. Just give Mori back the phone.”
Despite some disgruntled noises, the phone returns to Mori. “Okay. Well, Hatate aside, I think we’ve all calmed down.” She pauses. “But, uh, couldn’t you have brought me? You get a plus one, right?”
“He’s already someone else’s plus one,” Sakuya speaks up. “He will be attending the party with Miss Patchouli Knowledge — or rather, the assistant who will be taking her place.”
You wish you knew how to turn the volume down on this thing. Sakuya doesn’t even need good hearing to pick up on the conversation.
“You heard her,” you tell Mori. “Sorry, but I’ll be going this one alone, for now.” She doesn’t respond right away, so you add, “I’ve been doing this for years and years before I met you. You know that, right?”
Mori takes a deep breath. “That’s right. You’re right. I have faith in you. I uh, guess that means I’ll be alone too for a bit, huh?”
“This is gross,” Hatate remarks loudly enough for her voice to be picked up. “You two might as well be husband and wife. And it’s been what, a couple weeks? How easy can you get — even for some old goddess who parades around in a kid’s body?”
There’s a moment of silence on the other line. Then, Mori continues in a much more resolved tone. “Actually, y’know what? I think I know what I can do. I’m going to torment Hatate. I’m going to make every single second while you’re gone a headache for her, so when you come back, she’ll greet you with open arms knowing that the pain and fear will finally be over. Hina, Mima, would you care to help?”
“I’m not sure what you mean, but I would be delighted to help,” Hina replies. “Would this be the fabled ‘girl time’ I’ve heard of?”
You hear Mima laugh. “And here I was, worried that I would be left disappointed tonight. I don’t think Reimu would fault me for being home late if I’ve been having some fun with a youkai all night.”
Hatate yelps. “W, what? I was just telling it like it is! The truth! D, don’t look at me like that! I won’t let you do whatever you want! You can’t out-speed me!”
“Oh, I think you’re well out of your prime, little tengu,” Mima says. “But please do get a head-start, if you think you need it.”
There’s some very loud rustling, and then everything goes silent for a few moments. Just when you think you might as well hang up, Mori returns to the phone. “Well uh, now they’re gone. Anything else you want to say?”
“Don’t go out too much while I’m gone,” you warn her. “You never know what the tengu or that friend of yours are planning.”
“Treating me like a kid, huh?” she replies, her spirit and sass returning. “Don’t worry, I can keep myself out of trouble, unlike you.” Then she laughs, and her voice becomes a little gentler. “Sorry. I’ve been saying a bunch of weird things, haven’t I?”
She has. You remember she was pretty quiet at the party last night, too. “Anything you want to tell me about?”
“I’m not sure,” she admits. “I haven’t thought about it enough yet. It’s not something I could do over the phone, anyway.”
That raises questions, but there’s no use worrying about it now. “When this is over, we can talk. Just the two of us.”
“I would like that,” she replies warmly. “Then, I’ll be waiting for you to come home.”
“Now you really do sound like my wife.”
Something pecks at your heart when you realize what you’ve said. She really did remind you of her, before—
Mori laughs softly. “You wish.” Thankfully, she’s playing it off as a joke. “Okay then. I’m pretty tired, so I’m going to have a nice long sleep in your bed. Good night!”
“Good night, Mori.”
She hangs up before you do. You slip the cell phone back in your pocket and then sigh.
“Would you like a cloth soaked in ice water?” Sakuya offers.
You glance at her suspiciously. “Why?”
She smiles. “Your face is red.”
You touch your cheeks, and upon confirming you’re indeed a bit flushed, you clear your throat in an attempt to get back some dignity. “Don’t worry about it. I’m still feeling a bit sick.”
However, Sakuya doesn’t look convinced. “Is that so? Regardless, they do seem like an interesting bunch of companions.”
You don’t feel like you should be too apologetic, given the circumstances, but she did wait there patiently for you this whole time while you dealt with them and defused the situation. “Sorry about that, Miss Izayoi. I can assure you there won’t be any disturbances.”
Her smile never falters. “It’s alright, I wasn’t worried. While you were talking, I took your measurements and made some adjustments on the outfits I had prepared for you.”
You feel around your body, as if you might find some evidence of her touching you. Then you glance down at your feet, and see that you’re wearing some very long, dark socks that are incredibly smooth on your skin. They’re high-class dress socks, and you sure as shit don’t own anything this fancy.
Then you hear a click, and instantly the socks are gone and replaced with the plain ones you had been wearing.
Sakuya bows slightly. “Sorry about that. I forgot to switch your socks back.”
Stopping time, huh? You’ll never be able to relax around this woman.
Sakuya walks at a relaxed pace, so slow that it actually annoys you. Then again, for someone with her ability, time must be an infinite resource.
Speaking of infinite, it feels like you’ve been walking down this hallway forever. This mansion must be so huge that it’s messing with your depth perception.
Eventually, Sakuya stops in front of a door that doesn’t look any different from the rest. “This is where you will be staying,” she announces.
You look at the door, and then glance down the hallway both directions. You haven’t seen anyone else walking around since you left those fairies. “Is there other staff, or any guests who arrived before I did?”
Sakuya smiles politely. “You’re a special case, so you’re the first guest, but there are other servants besides myself and the children. The rooms in this hallway have all been prepared already, so our main tasks now are securing ingredients for the meal and preparing the main hall.”
That begs the question of what the fairies are actually supposed to be doing, but you let it go. You’re more interested in the prospect of being more-or-less alone in this hallway. It will be much easier to sate your curiosity with some completely-harmless exploring if there’s nobody around to bother you.
But Sakuya’s blue eyes sharpen, and you get the cold feeling they’re piercing right through you. “However,” she continues, “please don’t wander around aimlessly. This is a very easy place to get lost in. If you feel the need to sight-see, please call me with this.”
Sakuya presents to you two objects on a platter: a large, rustic key, and a small, silver hand bell on a platter. The key is obviously for your room, but the bell perplexes you. “This bell has been enchanted so that its sound carries to wherever I may be,” Sakuya explains promptly. “If you ring it, I will appear within five seconds. I will be more than happy to escort you wherever you like on the premises — within reason, of course.”
You take the key and the bell. The silver bell seems perfectly normal, but then again you aren’t really the type that can sniff out magic in the first place. “Do I really need to call you every time? Even for the bathroom?”
Sakuya nods. “Yes, that’s right. Don’t worry, I don’t mind.”
You’re the one who minds, but you doubt a complaint would change anything, and you don’t want to make her even more suspicious of you. Her powers are beyond anything you’ve ever encountered, and you want to keep her friendly — or at least non-hostile — for as long as you can.
“There are many Western-style bathrooms,” Sakuya goes on, “but there is also a large Japanese bath if you prefer it.”
You hesitate for a moment as you imagine a grandiose open bath tucked away in a corner of the mansion. “A Japanese bath? In a place like this? That seems out of place.”
A shadow falls over Sakuya’s pleasant demeanor. “Since we arrived in Gensokyo, it has become necessary to make certain adjustments to the mansion in order to, to better please our guests, who tend to be traditional Japanese youkai.”
There’s only one type of “traditional” youkai you know that could enter a place like this and demand a Japanese bath. “Like tengu?”
Sakuya laughs quietly. “It’s in poor taste for me to comment on other guests. Now please, make yourself at home. Don’t forget to ring that bell if you need to leave your room.”
You look at the key, then turn to examine the door. Sure enough, there’s a large keyhole under the red doorknob — because gods forbid something in this mansion wasn’t red.
“Please enjoy your stay at the Scarlet Devil Mansion.”
You hear a click, and when you turn back around, Sakuya is gone.
You aren’t surprised but are still disappointed when your room turns out to be just as red as the rest of the mansion. It would be much less garish if vampires favored another color, like blue or even a dark purple. Instead, you flop right down on the large — probably queen-size — bed and stare up at the dull, crimson ceiling.
This is the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Your presence has been forcibly requested by a woman named Patchouli Knowledge, whom you have never met. There are fairies dressed like maids, a head maid who can stop time, a vampire — or perhaps even multiple vampires — who seems to suffer from a case of extreme tackiness, and apparently Lucy is somewhere in all this mess.
You glance over at the small clock on the desk. The hour hand is close to the two. You reluctantly pull yourself out of the soft bed and throw open the curtains to the window — which are red, of course.
The moon hangs ominously above you, in a black sky. Below, you can make out torches that illuminate spots of the courtyard. There seem to be great stone walls that divide this place from the forest outside; were those built before they arrived in Gensokyo or after? Assuming, of course, that such a large place could be moved into Gensokyo. But Mori’s shrine was moved here, and after seeing Sakuya stop time with a click of her watch, you once again have no idea what the ceiling for bullshit powers is.
You could fall back asleep until morning, but a vampire and her servants would be more active at night, anyway. Might as well go with the flow and stay awake until the sun rises.
First things first, you need to prepare for your meeting with Patchouli Knowledge. No way you’re getting literally dragged out here and being kept in the dark until the party — especially if the fucking tengu are somehow involved this place.
You grab your phone and email your group, explaining that the tengu seem to visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion often and asking what they’re up to. They might be asleep, or still chasing Hatate, but you said you would keep them updated.
Two gigantic wooden doors are in front of you.
“This is the Scarlet Devil Mansion’s great library,” Sakuya announces like a tour guide giving her first tour of the day. “Our resident magician, Miss Patchouli Knowledge, lives inside.”
A magician living inside a library? She already sounds way more legitimate than Mima or Alice — and there’s no use even mentioning Marisa in the same breath as them.
“I thought you might have wanted a day or two to get settled before meeting with her,” Sakuya continues, “but I have to point out that you do clean up pretty well.”
Her bright, approving eyes cause you to glance away and adjust your red tie. “I just want to get this over with so I can learn why I’m here,” you reply. “And I may be living in the slums, but I remember how to present myself nicely.”
“If you would like a change of locale,” Sakuya remarks, “my mistress may be interested in hiring you as a servant.” Her eyes narrow and she smiles darkly. “But the job comes with many conditions you would have to be willing to agree to, and I don’t think your companions would approve.”
“I’m sure they wouldn’t,” you mutter, finding her odd pity annoying. “Well then, please lead the way, Miss Izayoi.”
Before Sakuya can open the doors, she suddenly perks up — reacting to something you can’t hear or see. “Speak of the Scarlet Devil,” she murmurs warmly. “I’m sorry, PI, but I have to attend to my mistress. I think you can find your way through the library on your own. It may seem intimidating, but all you have to do is follow the candles straight ahead to find Miss Patchouli. And, I will add that wandering from this path is a very bad idea.”
Of course it is. This whole damn place is a bad idea for you, but it’s not like you have much of a choice. “I understand,” you assure her.
Immediately, she’s gone. It must be an interesting relationship between master and servant if Sakuya is that eager to attend to her. With her power, Sakuya being the servant must be purely choice, unless vampires are even stronger than stopping time. You really hope they aren’t, but it’s Gensokyo.
That leaves you alone with the two big doors. You grab one gold handle — the color of which is refreshing to your eyes — and push on the thick wood, but it takes all your might to budge it open enough. You squeeze through and stumble into relative darkness, and you hear an ominous boom as the door shuts behind you.
“That’s just fucking great,” you remark out loud, before turning to take in the entirety of the Scarlet Devil Mansion’s library.
Sakuya wasn’t wrong. This library is beyond intimidating: it’s colossal. Even in the darkness, you can see bits of light from candles that reveal rows of enormous bookshelves that stretch out as far as you can make out in the extremely dim room — and there seems to be a whole other level above, connected by thin, spiraling staircases. The air itself smells like old paper and wood — but not of dust.
There’s two significant sources of light you can see: one at the end of the raised walkway that cuts through the center of the library — this must be the path that Sakuya mentioned — and a smaller source of light floating off to your right, nestled in some bookshelves. The smaller light, which appears to be on the move, seems much closer than the light at the end of the path that Sakuya mentioned.
 Keep moving straight into the large light.
 Take a side path to meet the closer, smaller light.