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File 152176789057.png - (578.87KB, 600x800, nobody.png) [iqdb]
66010 No. 66010
You open your eyes again, but you don’t see the dark streets of the city, disgruntled passersby, or fellow drunkards. Instead, it’s the warm glow of a quiet kitchen — her kitchen. It was cozy, as was the rest of the house — distinctly upper-class, but not big enough for servants. That was her dowry, absurd as it was. When you discovered it had been the house she stayed in since she was a child, things made a lot more sense: it had never really been your home. It was the princess’s playhouse, where she could pretend.

Just like now. Washing dishes. She was good at that — cleaning. It’s no wonder why. She turns away from the running water with the most delicate smile you’ve ever seen. “Another late night?”

You lean on the wall, keeping the length of the room between the two of you. “Whatever keeps me away from you.”

Her hand on the wet plate stops for a moment, then resumes. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say you were an abusive husband.”

You weren’t abusive, but you weren’t the best. Long hours, late calls, and a lot of pent-up stress and anxiety dominated most of your relationship.

“Let’s pretend I was the perfect husband,” you say. “Would it have mattered at all?”

She looks back at the sink and grabs another plate. “What do you think?”

You’ve considered it, again and again and again. Where would you both be if you hadn’t become a detective? If you were at home with her more often? If you appreciated her more instead of using her as a reprieve from a hard day at work? Would you be speaking with her in reality, instead of this twisted dream? Would you still have your old life?

“Of course not,” is your answer. “You were always rotten to the core.”

Kotohime puts the plate back down, but doesn’t pick up another. “Even when we were kids?”

“I met you when I turned eighteen,” you answer. “Our parents arranged for us to be wed.”

Suddenly, she breaks out into a fit of laughter that you have to tune out. After collecting herself, she says, “You can be such an idiot sometimes, PI. But that’s alright. I love you anyway — whether you’re out at work or home with me.”

Fucking lunatic. You ignore her and turn your attention to the kitchen itself. It’s been a while since you’ve seen it, even in your dreams. There were always things laying out on the counter: jars, rags, knives — small and large. You wonder if she really did like cooking, or if that was just another part of the big ruse. Your hand falls on a carving knife— worn, but with a maintained edge and a distinct point. You happen to pick it up.

“That’s my favorite,” she remarks, as soon as you get a grip of it. “A dependable blade makes all the difference when it comes to meat.”

Disgust turns into rage, and you drop the knife back on the counter. “I’m sure it does,” you utter, your hands feeling a little dirtier.

“I remember how you always loved my cooking,” she goes on. “Bragged about it, even. You haven’t had anything else like it, right?”

She isn’t wrong, but that’s hardly relevant. You don’t want to give her the satisfaction of a response to her rambling.

“But I always thought it was a funny thing, how you never asked me what you were eating.”

You whip your head around to stare at her. “What?”

She meets your eyes, with a grin. “You were so happy whenever you could actually sit down and eat with me, that you never asked. All I had to do was say it was fresh from the butcher.”

Something dark and heavy grabs your stomach. You remember that night, how she showed — no, displayed her sick ways for you, her captive audience. The ways she tortured those girls — physically, mentally, sexually. The humans were lucky enough to die, and that just left the youkai who could suffer through it again and again.

But there was always something else you didn’t want to remember. It was the way she could remove their skin so effortlessly, and how the flesh could be pulled from the bone. She knew exactly how to do it so their bodies would grow back quickly and properly — turning the youkai’s ability to regenerate physical wounds so cruelly against them. She had done it so many times before that it had become a routine.

She beams a smile at you. “They were delicious, weren’t they?

You cross the length of the room in an instant. With one hand you grab her and slam her against the wall, hard enough to hear it splinter. Your fingers clutch her white neck halfway around, and you squeeze hard enough to where you can feel the tendons in her neck strain and fold.

Kotohime offers no resistance, letting her arms dangle as she stares into your eyes with none of the emotions you want her to feel — just a pleasant expectance of what has and will come.

“A, are you going to do it?” she chokes out. “W, will you stab me?”

You glance down at your other hand. It’s holding the carving knife. You don’t even remember grabbing it. All it would take is one thrust, then you could keep going and going and going, until you killed her again. That your wife might feel a fraction of the pain she put others through would bring you peace.

Wouldn’t it?

Would it?

Your hand on her throat loosens, and then releases.

Kotohime doesn’t take any deep breaths, or even feel around on her throat. Instead, she keeps smiling at you, like nothing happened. “It’s more difficult to stab someone to death than to shoot them, isn’t it?” she remarks. “The trigger of a gun is a decision that can be made in a split second. The blade of a knife requires dedication. I know you can’t really kill me.”

You turn around and search for an exit, but there’s no doors where they should be. It’s just walls. You look back, and that pure smile of hers starts to burn into your head.

“I’m your wife,” she continues, “and you know that everything I did, was because I love you. Nobody can take that away from us.”

###

You jolt out of bed and dash to the bathroom. Your vomit tastes like alcohol and bile. Even when you’re finished, it doesn’t feel like enough.

It will never be enough.

“PI?”

It’s Mori’s voice. You raise your face out of the toilet bowl and look toward the door. Both Mori and Hina are standing there, watching you with concern.

If you confessed your sins, would they be able to forgive you? Would they be able to comfort you? You remember how Mori saved your life, confided her failures with you, and smelled like dandelions when you held her and kissed her forehead. You also remember the warmth of Hina’s embrace, her inexplicable dedication to you, the sadness she felt while describing her creation and creator, and her resolve to help Alice.

But you also remember vividly the sight of Mori gnawing on that night sparrow, and Hina happily mentioning her disposing of the bodies of the families that used to live here.

No. Mori and Hina can’t help you. Nothing good can come of exposing them to her.

This is what you deserve.

Your voice barely croaks out of your throat. “Just a bad hangover,” you finally respond. “Gimme a sec alone.”

###

Taking a shower helps only a little bit, but it helps. For once you’re thankful for the headache, because it means you can’t think too hard.

The apartment is quiet, except for the mumbling of the television in the living room. If Hina and Mori are still here, they aren’t talking — at least not loud enough for you to hear. You wander through the bedroom door and almost run smack into Mori, who’s wearing some of the pajamas Hina gave her.

She looks up at your face, and then smiles. “Oh, you look better. Come on, Hina’s making breakfast!”

You wince at the sudden bit of volume. “Keep it down. I still feel like shit.”

Mori stops and speaks quietly. “Uh, sorry. Bad headache, huh? Didn’t mean to hurt you. I can heal a lot of things, but a hangover is a bit complicated, y’know? You’d need a dedicated water god or something for that.”

“You’re awfully chipper,” you grumble. “And obedient. I don’t like it.”

Mori avoids your eyes. “I dunno what you’re talking about. Aren’t I always chipper and obedient?”

Something’s up, that’s for sure. Regardless, you follow her to the table and sit down. Hina is standing in the kitchen, messing around with the oven. You watch her play with the dials for a few moments before you feel the need to ask, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Hina?”

Hina jolts the tiniest bit in surprise and turns around to face you, and her cheeks slowly flush red. “I must admit that it has been a while since I’ve cooked, and never with one of these machines. However, I am confident that I can figure it out!”

That’s easy for her to say. It isn’t a gas stove, but you’re still a little nervous about the way she’s messing around with it.

“Anyway,” Hina continues, facing back toward the stove. “I deeply enjoyed our sleepover last night. I understand that neither of you were in a state of right mind, but I was still happy to be in your company.”

You look at Mori, who wears a sheepish grin. “Sleepover?”

Mori forces a laugh. “Well um, I had some problems walking home, and Hina helped me out. Then we saw you doubled over in front of the door, one thing led to another, and I didn’t want to send Hina back to her place, so I told her she could stay here.”

Your partner’s acting like she did something wrong, but you don’t really care about that. “I don’t mind if Hina stays here for a night,” you reply. “I trust her enough.” Then you think for a moment. “Wait, where did she sleep? The couch?”

Mori looks away, so that may be the crux of the issue. “Well, she was kinda insistent on sleeping with us, and I wasn’t really opposed to the idea, so we all ended up sleeping in our bed.”

Our bed, huh? You wonder when that happened, but you find yourself unwilling to address it.

“It was fun,” Hina chimes in pleasantly, as she gracefully cracks some eggs against the countertop. “I do not sleep much, but watching both of you sleep throughout the night was fascinating. You both snore in intervals, and occasionally you even synchronize for a period of time. Your hand was also quite fond of my breast, PI, though I’m not sure why.”

You groped an idol of misfortune in your drunken stupor. No wonder you had such a shitty dream. “Sorry about that, Hina,” you tell her only half-sincerely. “You should have pushed me off.”

Hina turns around and stares at you intently, actually taking some kind of offense to the suggestion. “Not at all! In fact, it has been many years since I was massaged like that. Please let me know any time you would like to massage me in the future.”

That’s a dangerous thing for her to say, so you’ll pretend you never heard it.

You glance over at Mori. Normally, she would be breaking out in a fit of snickering right about now, or maybe glaring at you, but she’s strangely quiet. “And where’s your smartass comment?” you remark to her.

“Oh, the little one made plenty of comments as she held onto you during the night,” Hina answers for her. “Unfortunately, she has sworn me into secrecy. I think she might be embarrassed, but I thought it was very, ahh, cute. Yes, cute.”

Mori drops her head on the table. “Hina, when someone tells you to keep something a secret, that doesn’t mean you tell him that you’re keeping a secret.”

“I see,” Hina responds. “I will try and remember that in the future, then.”

The way she smiles at you after saying that leads you to believe she’s probably messing with Mori again, kind of like the time she dropped her when you were walking back to Minoriko’s farm the other day.

“Well, I wish I had been awake and sober for that,” you admit to Mori, “but if you’re that embarrassed, I won’t push you.”

Mori buries her head deeper in her arms. “Thanks,” she mutters.

###

Hina sets a plate of food in front of you: a fat omelette with some rice on the side and a drawing made with ketchup on it. Well, you call it a drawing, but it just looks like a blob with some lines coming out of it.

“What is this, Hina?”

“It’s an omelette, with rice and ketchup,” she answers.

“No, I meant, what did you draw?”

“Oh,” she responds less enthusiastically. “I was told I should draw a heart on it, but I couldn’t remember exactly what the human heart looked like. I think I had some problems with the — what do you call them — arteries?”

That would explain why it took her half an hour to do it. You aren’t sure what’s more disturbing: that Hina tried to draw a heart on your omelette like a schoolgirl or that she tried to draw an actual heart on your omelette like some kind of psychopathic stalker from a television drama.

You glance at Mori. “Did you have something to do with this?”

This time, she’s barely keeping herself from bursting with laughter. “Nope,” she says quickly. “Nothin’ to do with it.”

Of course not.

“I, I can make something else,” Hina offers quickly.

You hold the plate down with one hand so she doesn’t run off with it. “It looks fine, Hina. I promise.”

That’s what you say, but you hesitate to actually take a bite. It’s just eggs, but that heavy grip on your stomach returns. Your appetite isn’t exactly there since your little conversation with Kotohime, and the red ketchup sure as shit doesn’t help. Just like this, you ignorantly devoured the flesh of those youkai — those girls. Who knows how much, and for how long? All the while, they withered away in that fucking basement — dungeon, rather — being used as some sick demented game.

You’re just as responsible as she is.

Hina’s voice interrupts your self-loathing. “PI?”

She’s standing there, watching you expectantly. Out of the corner of your eye, you also see Mori staring at you.

Kotohime isn’t here. She doesn’t even exist to anybody anymore — only you. She’s your sin to carry, and it has nothing to do with Mori, Hina, or whoever else. So for now, you can eat the omelette. And you can smile.

It isn’t good. Some parts are slimy and uncooked, while others are brown and crispy. Hina really was totally clueless about how the stove worked. It’s nothing like the level that she used to cook. This is completely mediocre, and it doesn’t help that the ketchup bottle you have is probably a year or so old.

And that’s exactly what you needed.

“I’ll help you next time, Hina,” you tell her, “but I can eat this.”

Any disappointment that Hina might have felt is completely replaced with excitement. “Yes! I would appreciate that very much!”

“So, whose was better?” Mori speaks up, loudly munching on some toast.

It’s been a while since that time Mori cooked, but you still don’t hesitate to say, “Yours, definitely.”

That, however, does cast a gloom over Hina’s demeanor. “I see. So the little one has bested me in cooking.”

You take another bite of the sloppy egg. “Don’t worry, Hina. It won’t take long for you to get used to that stove.”

What you aren’t telling her is that you don’t mind someone else doing the cooking. It’s not really taking advantage of her if she’s more than happy to do it, or so you tell yourself.

Hina brightens up. “I see. Yes! That is what I will strive for!”

Mori glares at the two of you. “Hey uh, I was complimented, but I kinda feel like I’m getting the short end of the stick, y’know?”

“But you are short,” Hina replies without missing a beat.

Mori looks like she might say something, but stops. Even she probably doesn’t want to push Hina since she heard her secret sleep-talking or whatever it was.

“I don’t like this,” Mori grumbles after a moment.

You glance at Hina and notice her pleased smile. She’s definitely aware of the hold she has over Mori.

“Don’t worry,” you assure them, “you’ll both make great wives someday, I’m sure.”

Then you freeze. Whatever pleasant atmosphere you reestablished for yourself crashes, and surprisingly enough it seems to affect Mori and Hina as well. Mori withdraws into her food, while Hina goes far away in her thoughts.

What a stupid comment. You of all people should know it can be a sensitive subject, but for the first time you really consider: these are two women who have lived many lifetimes. You can’t be the first human they’ve been involved with. Hina had her creator and the villagers from back then, while Mori had her followers and subjects in the outside world. Have they ever made human friends? Lovers? Is it even possible for beings like them to form lasting attachment to humans? They’ve given you a lot of leeway with your own past, so asking them — now, at least — isn’t something you want to breach.

It’s another reminder that these moments are fleeting, especially for them. This could all be gone tomorrow, like so many things you once held dear.

There’s a knock on the door — three of them, very measured.

You stand up. “I’ll get it,” you announce, not that Mori or Hina are rushing to the door or anything.

A glance through the peephole bestows a curious sight upon you: a silver-haired young maid in a blue-and-white uniform. “What the fuck?” you mumble to yourself before turning the knob and opening the door.

Sure enough, it wasn’t a trick of the light. It really is a maid, with pale skin, a genuine maid’s uniform complete with frilly apron, and red eyes with heavy bags that lead you to believe the two of you might share at least something in common. “Good morning,” she greets you with a deep bow. “I apologize for disturbing you, but I believe you are the man known as PI.”

If this is a job, it’s probably the most bizarre way you’ve been recruited yet. Since she’s already made it this far, there’s no use in denying it. “I am,” you reply.

The maid procures something from a pocket in her apron, and you notice just how toned her bare arms are. That is not the physique of a simple housekeeper.

She unfurls a piece of parchment and clears her throat softly before reading aloud from it. “To my esteemed ‘PI’, I hereby invite you to the First Scarlet Devil Mansion Birthday Celebration of Mistress Remilia Scarlet, Blood Heir of the Legacy of Vlad Tepes, Greatest Most Legendary Vampire of the Outside World.”

The maid takes a breath after such a long, nonsensical title, while you wonder both who Remilia Scarlet is and what she’s compensating for.

“You will hereby attend on the night of the new moon,” the maid continues. “For your special case, formal attire will be provided and free lodging will be granted until the event. Please rest easy, and accompany my head maid without reservation. Further instruction will be provided when you arrive. Dictated but not read, Mistress Remilia Scarlet, Blood Heir of the Legacy of Vlad Tepes, Greatest Most Legendary Vampire of the Outside World.”

The maid takes another breath, then hands the parchment to you. Everything she read is written in clean, crisp penmanship, and at the bottom is a signature in a language you can’t read, penned in a deep red ink.

It’s all pretty damn surprising, and you’re still trying to wrap your head around it. “The Scarlet Devil Mansion?”

“Are you not aware of it?”

“I think so,” you answer. “Only a couple rumors, if it's what I'm thinking. I don’t know why your mistress would invite me to her birthday party when I’ve never met or even heard of her.”

The maid thinks for a moment, before frankly stating, “I do not, either. This invitation was made for you by the request of Patchouli Knowledge, a resident of the mansion and close friend of the mistress. Would that name be more familiar to you?”

You shake your head. “Never heard it before in my life.”

The maid’s eyes regard you sharply. “Then that is unfortunate, because I was ordered to bring you to the mansion now. Will this be a problem?”

Mori saunters up to you, with Hina not far behind. “So uh, what’s this all about, PI?”

The maid glances down at Mori, and then — to your surprise — smiles warmly and speaks delicately. “I’m sorry, Little Miss, but the invitation is for this man — alone. Please don’t worry. I won’t harm him, and neither will my mistress.”

“Invitation?” you repeat. “This seems more like a demand.”

“If that is what you think, then I apologize,” the maid replies to you, a bit more coldly than she addressed Mori. “The language my mistress uses isn’t meant to insinuate a lack of choice, but a predetermined outcome. Simply put, it’s your fate to attend. If it was your choice, you would have certainly attended. It just so happened that your presence is required a bit earlier than we originally expected.”

This Remilia Scarlet sounds like some kind of grandstanding crime lord. “I still don’t see what the difference is,” you admit. “In fact, I might even take it as a threat.”

“I see,” she replies, with a strained smile. “Well, I certainly wouldn’t go that far. Please excuse me, I need to check the time.”

The maid reaches into the other pocket of her apron and takes out an old-fashioned silver watch on a chain. She hits the button to open the face, and—

###

###

###

You wake up in…

[] …a sunny garden, near a flowerbed.

[] …a dark library, tied to a chair.

[] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?

[]
Expand all images
>> No. 66012
First Thread: >>63343
Second Thread: >>64075
Third Thread: >>64718

Off the Record (NSFW): >>>/at/38307

Cool Stuff:
>>64680
>>65767
>>65925

PI's files are currently offline while he and Mori rewrite them. Please wait warmly!
>> No. 66013
[] …a dark library, tied to a chair.

The Koakuma option
>> No. 66014
[X] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?
Lol fairies freed him somehow.
>> No. 66015
[x] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?

Gotta keep PI's lolicon street cred
>> No. 66016
[X] …a sunny garden, near a flowerbed.

Mei Ling!

And oh WOW PI really need a therapist. That's one hell of a PTSD holy shit.
>> No. 66017
[X] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?
I smell hilarity.
>> No. 66018
[x] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?

Fairy shenanigans best shenanigans.
>> No. 66019
[x] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?
>> No. 66020
[x] …the middle of a bunch of fairies?
>> No. 66022
I guess we're gonna meet Lucy soon, huh?
>> No. 66024
[X] …a dark library, tied to a chair.
looks like PI is going to be interrogated by Patchouli about Kotohime.
For the disaster two threads back
>> No. 66070
Looks like the vote is pretty clearly in favor of fairies, but I'll go ahead and call it just to be safe.

It turns out that before PI was captured, he actually finally made some progress on his files. The "Mori Journal" he's planning isn't quite presentable yet, but his basic Contacts list should be, and a new corrupted file has sprung up. You can find the link to the folder here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B3yTr6zUKvDYM1p1WDllYkk4MnM?usp=sharing
>> No. 66085
>>66070

Oh wow... So PI is responsible for unknowingly encouraging Kotohime's urges.
>> No. 66099
File 152255779520.jpg - (160.30KB, 850x956, endgamesuwako.jpg) [iqdb]
66099
>>66085
Even calling him 'unknowingly responsible' is a step too far. She had those tendencies from the start.
>> No. 66104
File 152286687723.jpg - (148.87KB, 600x888, pouting big sis.jpg) [iqdb]
66104
[x] ...the middle of a bunch of fairies?

You’re conscious, but every muscle in your body feels numb — even your eyelids. The last thing you remember is talking to that maid, and then everything went black and it felt like you were sucked through a straw. You can breathe fine, but you can’t see — or rather, you just can’t muster the strength to open your eyes. The noise, however, is unbearable. High-pitched screeching settles into girlish chatter that violates your ears from all sides.

“I can’t wait for the party!”

“What are you going to wear?’

“Our uniforms, duh! We gotta look all nice and proper for Miss Sakuya.”

“You’re such a kissass. I want to wear something scandalous!”

“You don’t even know what scandalous is!”

“I do too! It’s like, black stuff!”

“Will the Mistress wear something scandalous, you think?”

“Well duhhhhh! Vampires are the cutting edge!”

“Cutting edge? Like Miss Sakuya’s knives?”

“Um, kind of, yeah!”

“That’s not what that means!”

“Is too!”

“Nuh uh!”

“Is too!”

“Nuh uh!”

No longer. Every fiber of your body strains and connects with each other in an effort of sheer resolve and determination. As you feel your limbs again, you summon what little strength you can recover to pull yourself upright and bellow, “Enough!

The room falls silent. Your eyes slowly open, revealing what must be twenty fairies dressed in frilly blue maid uniforms, all floating completely still in the air with their wide eyes locked on to you. The room is some sort of open barracks, lined with small cots — one of which you happen to be laying in. The bed is so small, however, that your legs are dangling off the end.

“He’s awake!” one of them — a tiny white-haired fairy — cries.

Then it all becomes chaos.

“He’s awake!”

“Ohmigosh, he’s awake!”

“PI is awake!”

—and it keeps going and going and going. All of them buzz around like a swarm: from the floor to the ceiling, bumping into the walls, bumping into each other. You cover your head and make yourself as small as possible, trying to ignore the tremendous, aching pressure building up in your head.

You consider that you may have died and begun your eternal punishment, but the Blazing Hells you read about were supposed to be a fiery domain deep underground. Instead, this appears to be a torture catered toward you personally, and one beyond your own imagination.

“Shut up!” one of them yells over the madness. She looks tall — for a fairy, anyway — with green hair tied into a simple ponytail. “Beta, go tell Miss Sakuya that he woke up,” she commands. “The rest of you, don’t be so loud ‘cause he’s sick and stuff!”

“O, okay, big sis!” the fairy presumably named Beta zips out the door before you can even get a good look at her.

The other fairies, at the larger one’s behest, begin to settle down and crowd around you, much to your displeasure. None of them dare touch you, but their eyes scan every bit of you as they whisper to themselves excitedly.

One voice finally addresses you. “Are you really a hero of justice?”

The floodgate of noise opens once again.

“Do you really have a gun that goes like, BANG and stuff?”

“Are you wearing something scandalous to the party?”

“What does ‘scandalous’ mean?”

“What’s your pants size?”

“Do you hate the tengu the mostest?”

“Have you ever killed anyone?”

“Do you like puppies?”

“Have you ever killed a puppy?”

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Are you gonna take Lucy away from us?”

That last question is what stops your attempts to tune them out. You hold your hand out, and all the chattering fey fall silent — or as silent as a group of them can get. “You all know Lucy?”

The green-haired fairy from earlier, who exerts some manner of authority, flies in front of you. “Of course we do! She reads us stories, and sometimes she makes up her own. The story she’s tellin’ us now is about you: Gensokyo’s Ace Detective.” Then she frowns. “You don’t look as cool as she said you were, though.”

A fairy’s judgment is worth less than nothing to you. What you care about is Lucy. “So she’s here? Lucy works here?”

The green-haired fairy places her hands on her hips indignantly. “Now hold on! You never answered the question! Are you gonna take Lucy with you?”

All the fairies stare at you expectantly, with childish dread. You had no idea that Lucy is here, so it’s difficult for you to even answer the question.

“I just want to meet her,” you tell them. “I have this feeling that the whole reason I’m here is because of her.” You don’t really want to bother interrogating a bunch of fairies, but this bunch seems well-behaved — for their kind — and they really are the only source of information you have about your situation right now. You try and think back to your brief conversation with that maid and remember a name from that letter. “Who is Patchouli Knowledge?”

“She’s a nerd!” one fairy suddenly shouts.

“A big nerd!”

“A total nerd!”

“A super nerd!”

Neeeeerd!

Alright,” you cut in before this gets out of hand, again. “I get it. She’s a nerd. But Patchouli Knowledge isn’t Lucy?”

The fairies all laugh, which makes you regret ever thinking that they could be good for anything. Finally, the green-haired “big sis” answers, “Nope! She’s Lucy’s boss, and we don’t like her because she won’t let us read any books from her library. She even booby-trapped all the books with a buncha dangerous spells! But that’s okay, ‘cause we can just respawn.”

Then Patchouli Knowledge must be the slavedriver Lucy always complains about, and Lucy bonded with the fairies over their mutual dislike of her. However, looking at these snot-crusted, bouncing-in-place, mouth-breathing fairies, you can’t help but sympathize with Miss Knowledge somewhat. “How many of you can actually read in the first place?”

The fairies all look around at each other, confused. One of them raises a hand. “I know a couple letters!”

The green-haired fairy chuckles smugly. “A couple letters? I read a whole word once.”

There are gasps and hushed awe throughout the crowd. The idea of reading an entire word must be akin to some great enlightenment for them.

“That’s why she’s our big sis!” one fairy remarks.

“But wasn’t there a fairy who could read and even do math, though?” another fairy says.

“A fairy that wise? I don’t remember anyone like that. Do you, big sis?”

The larger fairy thinks, but gives up after a few seconds. “I dunno. I bet she just made that up. For a fairy to be that smart, she’d have to be the strongest, and I’m the strongest here.”

“I don’t think I made it up,” the original fairy responds, but is obviously unsure. “I just can’t remember her name.”

At the very least, when you do meet this Patchouli Knowledge, at least you can bond over your mutual distaste for these fairies. Whatever Lucy sees in them, you certainly do not.

Your body doesn’t ache as much now, so you lift yourself off the bed and groan as the joints in your legs creak and pop. Your head is light and your stomach churns, but that’ll all work out while you’re exploring this place.

The green-haired fairy flies right in your face, wearing a nasty glare. “What are you doing? You can’t get up! Miss Sakuya will be here any second!”

You have no more interest in talking with these pests or whoever Miss Sakuya is, so you shove the fairy aside. “Stay out of my way. I need to get my bearings, and I can’t do that if I’m surrounded by you noisy brats.”

All the fairies gaze upon you with terror before exchanging nervous glances with each other. You don’t waste any time in stepping over and under them. However, before you can make it to the door, one of them tackles you.

It’s the green-haired fairy again, and although she isn’t heavy enough to knock you over, she’s clinging to your side tightly. “Everyone, I don’t wanna get in trouble, and neither do you! Glomp him!”

Easily convinced, the fairies become deathly resolute as they charge forward, grabbing your arms, legs, and then eventually each other as they pile on top of you, grabbing as tight as they can. “Fucking fairies!” you curse them, as you try to move forward to the door.

However, the combined weight of the fairies on top of you is enough to anchor you where you stand. You sweat, as the combined heat of all the squirming little bodies attached to you becomes unbearable. You’ll have to start pulling them off, starting with the one who started all this: the big sis.

“Get off me, you little bitch!” you scream, as you try to wedge your hand between her body and yours. Eventually you come across the distinct feeling of a firm but small bra cup under her uniform, and you realize where your hand must be.

“Gah!” she cries out. “My boobie! He’s touching my boobie!”

“He’s touching big sis’s big boobies!” another fairy shouts. “Glomp him harder!”

Big? You didn’t even notice she had breasts, let along “big boobies”. She’s probably wearing a training bra, for fuck’s sake.

The fairies all squeeze harder, and one of them even hops on your head and covers your face with her hands. You try to get your other arm free, but since you can’t see, you’re really just flailing around desperately.

Then you jab something soft, of a distinctly softer cloth than the fairy’s uniform.

You hear a fairy gasp loudly. “He poked my squishy place!”

Surprisingly, some of the fairies let go of you and retreat. “Run! He’s a pervert like the little sister!”

“You cowards!” the big sis calls after her fleeing comrades.

“I don’t even know what’s going on anymore,” you admit out loud. “But if poking your ‘squishy places’ will get you off of me, then so be it!”

After being captured and taken to the Scarlet Devil Mansion by a lone maid, you must now escape a mass of fairies by groping them until they let go. This truly is a Gensokyo moment. At least Mori isn’t here to see this — or gods forbid, Hatate.

Then you hear the distinct sound of the door opening, and the fairies that remain fall silent. You peek through them, and expect to see Mori and/or Hatate, because that would be the pattern established thus far in your life.

Instead, you see a familiar blue-and-white uniform for a split second before it completely vanishes.

Then suddenly, you’re free — and sitting back on the bed you woke up on. The fairies — even the ones that ran away — are sitting against the wall. They look just as disoriented as you are.

In the middle of the room is the maid who brought you here in the first place, holding that silver watch.

“I was only gone for ten minutes,” she begins, maintaining a composed facade despite her exasperation, “and already there’s been a battle in the maid quarters.”

He started it!” the green-haired fairy speaks up. “We were just trying to keep him here like you ordered us to, Miss Sakuya!”

So, the maid who brought you here is Miss Sakuya. If the fairies are speaking to her like that, then she must be the one in charge of them — not that you’ve ever heard of an ordinary human being in charge of a bunch of fairies before. She looks at you with her icy-blue eyes, and then you hear a click.

Now she’s right next to you, having crossed the distance between the two of you in an instant. “It seems like you aren’t physically harmed,” she says. “That is a relief.” Then she steps away from you to bow deeply. “I apologize. I thought you would be unconscious longer, but your body has recovered rather quickly for a human.”

Simple politeness won’t fool you, though. “Are you talking about how you knocked me out?” you respond bitterly. “Thanks for that. If I’m your prisoner now, then your little helpers did an excellent job of torturing me.”

“Only because he wouldn’t stay put, Miss Sakuya!” the green-haired fairy pouts.

Sakuya turns to her, wearing a cold smile to mask her frustration. “And did you do what I asked you? I told you to prevent him from leaving, but I also told you to explain that he was being kept in the maid quarters while I prepared his guest room, and to make sure that he wasn’t hurt after my blunder. Instead, I’m going to assume that you completely forgot about that, and mobbed him with all sorts of useless questions.” She turns back to you. “Is that correct?”

You can’t help but grin while watching a group of fairies get thoroughly lectured by someone who must be way stronger than them — at least you’re assuming, because anyone in Gensokyo who can move as fast as this maid has to be pretty high-level. “More or less,” you reply to her.

While her gang of fairies shifts nervously in their seats, the green-haired fairy crosses her arms and huffs. “This is so stupid.”

Sakuya’s hands tense as she looks down at the rebellious fairy. “It is stupid, Daiyousei. The other girls look up to you. I expect better from someone who calls herself the strongest fairy.”

Daiyousei looks away from Sakuya, refusing to meet her glare, but seems pacified regardless.

Then Sakuya turns her attention to you, with the same cold smile. “And I wouldn’t be so smug if I were you. Anyone who would use violence on children, let alone their ‘squishy parts’, couldn’t possibly be in the right either.”

The grin falls right off your face. These aren’t children, they’re just fairies, is what you’d like to say. However, that silver watch is still in Sakuya’s hand, and your intuition is screaming that it has something to do with her warping powers. Next time she clicks that watch, you could end up feet-first in a wood chipper, for all you know.

For that reason, and that reason alone, you turn to give the line of fairies sitting against the wall your best forced smile. “I’m sorry I touched your squishy parts.”

“And my boobies,” Daiyousei grumbles.

“And your boobies,” you add.

“Now all of you apologize together,” Sakuya tells the fairies.

Daiyousei looks to her comrades, sighs, and then raises her hands. “All together,” she begins, with zero enthusiasm.

“We’re sorry we glomped you,” all the fairies tell you in varying degrees of unison.

Sakuya’s smile turns much gentler from hearing all the fairies’ voices. “Thank you, all of you. Now, PI, I’ll show you to your room.”

“Yeah, thanks,” you mutter. Your smile vanishes as if it had never been there, as do the fairies’ once Sakuya’s back is turned. As you and Sakuya leave through the door, you turn back one last time to meet Daiyousei’s green eyes. Then, you raise your middle finger at her. She responds in kind right before the door shuts, leaving you and Sakuya alone in a long hallway of crimson walls, red carpet, and dim light provided by chandeliers.

“It’s a bit late,” Sakuya begins with a slight bow, “but welcome to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. I am Sakuya Izayoi, the head maid.”

“I still can’t tell if I’m a prisoner or a guest,” you admit.

“It’s as I said before. You are an invited guest and I will serve you as such. It just so happens that you were summoned early.”

“And forcefully,” you add. “With the added bonus of knocking me unconscious.”

Sakuya bows again. “I apologize. It’s been so long time since I carried a human with me, that I forgot the effect it would have on your body.”

She must mean the warping. You can’t tell if she’s really being sincere or not, but it doesn’t matter. Looks like you’re here to stay, at least until that party. Then you remember something — the people you left behind. You check your pockets, and find that you have your key, wallet, and cell phone still on you. When you open up the cell phone to check it, there’s a lot to gape at.

17 missed calls. 11 emails from your contacts. Sakuya knocked on the door of your apartment in the later hours of the morning, but now it’s 1 AM the next day.

“I was out for the whole day?” you remark.

Sakuya confirms with a nod. “I know little of physics, but I believe that when I stopped time to carry you here, it would have been like your body moved very, very fast — because you still would have been sensitive to time’s flow. You vomited quite a bit when we arrived at the gate, then immediately fell unconscious.”

What the fuck is she talking about? Physics? Time’s flow? You’ve been hearing a lot about faith recently, but this is the complete opposite of the wacky bullshit power spectrum. “Sorry, I really can’t wrap my head around that right now,” you tell Sakuya. “I need to check my phone.”

“I’m not your jailer or your babysitter,” she reminds you. “Please do as you wish. I have plenty of time.”

The log of missed calls is an assortment of Mori, Hina, and Hatate’s numbers — and even one call from Q. There’s just as many voicemails, but you’d rather not listen to seventeen of them right now. You can imagine what they would say. Instead, you turn your attention to the emails.

----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

Call me as soon as you can
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: agentq@tengu.net

Are you okay?
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: psychicdetective@tengu.net

better not die, bich
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

This is your partner btw, “jailbait@kmail.com” was taken, believe it or not
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

Hello? is everything okay?
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: psychicdetective@tengu.net

i know youre probably drowning in child pussy at the sdm, but fucking call us
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

Starting to get worried
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

You better not be ignoring me
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

Please call
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyomori@kmail.com

Call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me call me
----------
To: gensokyopi@kmail.com
CC:
From: gensokyopi@kmail.com

Greetings, PI. This is Hina. The little one has given me permission to borrow your computer and your email account and use it to send my own message. Because you have not responded for over twelve hours, we believe you to be held in captivity. Therefore, I am working with Hatate and the kappa who wishes to be called Q so that we may mount a rescue. Please survive until I reach you.

If your captors are reading this, then they should know that I fear no youkai, no matter what they wish to call themselves, and I will happily tear them apart until they no longer wish to regenerate and prefer to rot on the ground.

Sincerely,
Hina

PS: Please explain to me what a “titfuck” is after your rescue.
----------

Immediately after reading that last email, you check when the emails were sent. Mori’s first email was sent not long after you were taken, with the others’ emails following soon after that. Then you received emails, mostly from Mori, every hour or so throughout the day — until Hina’s, which was about three hours ago.

That means they could be here any moment, if they decided to act quickly — and it sure didn’t seem like they wanted to take their time. You turn to Sakuya. “It seems that my companions are plotting a rescue attempt.”

Sakuya blinks. “I haven’t heard any news from the gatekeeper. Why would they do something so foolish, though? As I’ve said, you aren’t a prisoner.”

You sigh. “You suddenly vanished with me, didn’t you? What else would they assume?”

“I told that little girl you would not be harmed,” she mentions.

You consider arguing that there’s no way that would be enough to assure them of your safety, but there’s no time. You have to make a call.

[] Call Mori.
[] Call Hina.
[] Call Hatate.
[] Call Q.
>> No. 66105
[X] Call Hina
>> No. 66106
[X] Call Hina.
That was entertaining.
>> No. 66107
[] Call Hina.

>Hina wants to know what a titfuck is

Goddammit, between obsessive Koa, mischievous scamp Suwako, buttslut Hatate, and now Hina, you are making it very hard to identify just who is best girl. And Nitori hasn't even come into play yet, so she's a wild card in waiting!
>> No. 66108
[x] Call Mori

>that last message from her
>voting to call literally anyone else
It sounds like Suwako is either emotionally unable to help or is about to attempt something stupid and desperate. Either way, PI's partner needs his trust, faith, and reassurance.
>> No. 66109
[X] Call Mori.

She's PI's partner y'all. After everything, she should be prioritized.
>> No. 66110
[x] Call Mori

She really wants him to call her..
>> No. 66111
[X] Call Mori.

I feel like Mori is the one that needs reassurance the most as soon as possible.
>> No. 66112
[X] Call Hatate.

She at least deserves a pity vote from time to time.
>> No. 66113
[x] Call Mori.

Is there anything in poor PI's life that isn't a complete and utter clusterfuck? Get the frog on the phone before someone croaks.
>> No. 66115
[x] Call Mori

I hope someday we'll get a Hina option I can vote for without feeling like a complete asshole.
>> No. 66116
[x] Call Mori

"Yes, I'm a prisoner. No, attacking someone who can stop time is not a good idea"
>> No. 66121
[x] Call Mori

Do not make frog goddess sad.
>> No. 66124
[x] Call Mori.
>> No. 66127
[x] Call Mori

It'd be heartless to do otherwise.
>> No. 66132
[x] Call Mori

"Hey Mori, what's a 'squishy place'?"
>> No. 66134
[X] Call Mori.

She is his partner after all.
>> No. 66246
[x] Call Mori

She just seemed so worried...
>> No. 66259
File 152453400463.jpg - (288.59KB, 1727x2048, haha yeah im calm yknow.jpg) [iqdb]
66259
[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.

Huh.

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.

[]
>> No. 66260
A very warm conversation with Mori. I think we made the right choice.

[X] Keep moving straight into the large light.

No need to do something that might raise suspicion this early in the game.
>> No. 66261
[X] Take a side path to meet the closer, smaller light.

Investigate.
>> No. 66262
Good update

[x] Keep moving straight into the large light.

Flandre? My money's on her.
>> No. 66265
[X] Take a side path to meet the closer, smaller light.
Most likely to be Koakuma. She's got some explaining to do.
>> No. 66268
[x] Keep moving straight into the large light.

Stick to the script until we know what's up. Patchouli's more likely to give us a straight answer anyway, I'd wager.
>> No. 66269
X] Keep moving straight into the large light.
>> No. 66270
[x] Keep moving straight into the large light.
-[x] Call out to the small light.
>> No. 66273
[X] Keep moving straight into the large light.
Let's not wander immediately after being told it would be a very bad idea to do so.
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