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Thread 1: >>53047

Chapter 1 Start.

“All right, it’s about time!” Cirno cheers, swooping down towards the lakeshore bordering the mansion. You, Dai, and Sunny follow at a slightly more relaxed pace, Luna hanging back a bit while muttering to herself.

“...But, I never cancelled...”

You tune out Luna’s voice and alight on the shore, looking around. The gate, a few yards away, stretches up to a height perhaps twice your own. That won’t impede entry, though, given that you can, well, fly. Maybe the structure’s just there to look pretty, not like you’re an expert on large pieces of crafted iron.

It’s likely there to keep out humans.
Doubtful, considering just how many Gensokyan humans can fly.

Anyway, that’s not really important. You can better make out the green woman’s feature, now. She’s tall, considerably moreso than you and by proxy your companions, and has vibrantly red hair, several shades more crimson than Sunny’s carrot hue, and extending down either side of her head in two linesbraids, they’re called braids, er, two braids.

Oh, and she’s looking directly at you. Or, perhaps through you sums it up better? The lady blinks, rubs her eyes and takes a half-step in your direction before pausing with a shrug and returning to her slouch against the gate.

You hear a grunt, and turn your head up and leftward to see Sunny gritting her teeth, sweat beading on her brow and eyes locked in concentration.

“...Aah, shouldn’t take this much effort, even with the clouds.” she mutters.

“You all right there, Sunny?” Cirno asks, hovering over you.

“Yeah, just was having a little trouble hiding us, but I’m good now. Just feeling really weak for some reason...”

Dai and Cirno exchange a worried glance.

Before you can dwell on that for long, your thoughts are interrupted by a loud splash from behind you, and a few stinging water droplets splatter against your calves. Glancing over a shoulder, you see Luna spread-eagled on her back in the shallows, looking extremely peeved.

“...Seriously, Luna?” Sunny snickers, looking down on your latest arrival.

“Shut up, it looked like the ground extended farther over here.” Luna defends herself with all the dignity available to one fallen in a lake. She blinks, and the frustration drains out of her face, quickly replaced with confusion and a side of daunting fear. “Wait a second, you could hear me...which means that the gate guard could...aw, crap.

Oh dear.

Indeed, the woman is now tromping over here, wearing an expression that screams “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I intend to find out.” The cloud of rainbow-colored bullets aimed to encapsulate you and much of the surrounding area does little to lessen this impression.

Whipping your head around, you have an instant to process the sight of Sunny, Dai, and Cirno taking flight away from the bullets. The remainder of your turn reminds you that Luna is in an immobile, decidedly helpless, and soon-to-be-revealed position. Wonderful.

Hardly sparing a thought, you grab one of Luna’s flailing hands Right, let’s see what we can do here and, disregarding the sudden heated current fusing your limbs together, and the wide-eyed spasming Luna’s now undergoing, yank the soaking girl out of the line of fire and towards your other companions.

Not a second too soon, art that- as you and your erstwhile passenger fly backwards, a scattering of bullets grazes you, the guard’s salvo impacting against the water in puffs of steam or cutting paths into the mists. None of it striking your group, thankfully.

Breathing a sigh of relief, your gaze refocuses on Luna, whose eyes are askew and body is faintly vibrating. Er.

That would seem to be enough. The flow of power ceases and so too does Luna’s movement. She refocuses her gaze and lets out a long, shuddering breath, before clapping her free hand over her mouth, panicked gaze searching the area behind you.

Nothing to fear there, though; the gatekeeper’s merely walking back to her post, oblivious.

“…Looks like we’re silenced again, then,” you say, half statement and half lingering question.

“Looks like. Thanks for the assist, ahaha…” Luna chuckles softly, still looking a bit drained.

“You two all right, there?” Sunny asks.

“I’m good. No, better than that, I’m feeling great. Wow, I was pretty out of it just now, but now I’m feeling like it’s midnight. Midnight with a full moon, and crystal-clear skies. Yeah…” Luna trails off with another giggle.

A quick glance skywards at the gray, but still illuminated clouds confirms that it’s anything but. “And that’s…good, I assume?” you ask carefully.

“Oh, yeah. Night’s when I’m at my best, and I’m feeling a hundred percent right now.” Looking at Luna, there is a subtle energy filling her

Cheap trick.
Jealous that you can’t do anything useful?

Your clasped hands tingle, and you shiver as a chill rushes down your arm. Luna jerks, breaking the contact and ending the sensation, hands settling back to your sides.

“…How about now?” You ask.

“Um…” Luna shrugs. “Exactly the same. Which, y’know, could be a lot worse.”

As I said. Nothing useful.

“Right’s red, left’s blue.” Cirno mutters, staring at you. Dai nods.

“What?” Sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place…

“No, nothin’.” The ice fairy shakes her head. “So, did Juniper get lost, or…?”

As if on cue, the girl in question pops her head out of the mists a few feet behind Sunny, glancing around. She pauses, then looks around again, a bit more agitatedly.

“...Sunny, she can’t see us.” You say, jabbing a finger towards the searching girl.

“Hmm?” Sunny follows your line of sight, then shrugs. “Well, I can’t really do much about that, sorry. Refracted light doesn’t work on a by-person basis.”

“Oh, fine then.” You push past her and grab a fistful of Juniper’s dress, wincing as she yelps and hauling her back into your midst.

“Gackpth- Oh, here you all are.” The shorter fairy looks around at everyone. “Well, except the meaner blue one.“

“Star went ahead, she’s meeting us inside, I think.” You catch Luna’s eye. “Uh, how likely is it that the guard heard that…?”

“Don’t worry, she didn’t. I extended my power over an area large enough to include Juniper once you pointed her out. You probably could have just called out to her, actually.”

“Ah, that’s good then.” It’d be nice if Luna’d have said something, though.

“…Sunny, couldn’t you have done the same thing with your powers?” Dai asks, giving the girl in question a sharp look.

“Huh? Oh, whoops, I guess so.” Sunny raps herself on the forehead. “Sorry, I’m feeling weirdly tired out just from hiding this area, not thinking straight.”

“About that…Dai, could you-?” Cirno beckons her friend to come a bit closer, and the two start up a whispered conversation.

Luna catches your eye, glancing meaningfully in Juniper’s direction and tilting her head towards her. Ah, that’s right.

You pull Juniper out away from the rest again, keeping yourselves within an area which you’re reasonably sure that Sunny’s hiding, and address her in a whisper. “Juniper, there’s something we need to get straight before we start the prank.”

“Hmm? Juniper’s not sure what you mean.” Juniper whispers back, head tilting in confusion.

“Well, um…” How exactly should you go about convincing her, anyway? If you’re too straightforward, her determination for pranking honesty might clash with her appreciation of secrets…

…Which is what you want to stress. Yes, okay, you can build on that. “Since you’re going to be a part of this scheme, I really think that I should be allowed to know what your power is.”

“B-but it’s a secret, Juniper already said it was a secret and if you don’t keep a secret then it’s not a secret anymore.” she stutters out.

“You really are committed to your secrets, huh Juniper?”

“Of course. Keeping secrets is the right way to do things, just like telling the truth when you talk to people, or making house-wreckers be punished, or creating art.”

“Uhm, right.” One of these things is not like the others.
Anyway, though…You heave what you hope to be a suitably dramatic sigh. “Well, okay, I guess I can’t argue with secrecy being important. You should keep yours, I don’t need to know it.”

“Juniper’s glad you can see that she’s right.” Tad smug there, aren’t you…?

“Oh! That reminds me, though…” Your eyes widen with a sudden ‘realization’. “There’s something else which we decided has to be a secret. Can we trust you with it?”

“Of course!” Juniper puffs up proudly.

“All right.” You repress the smile you’re sorely tempted to show. “The secret is one we’ll have to keep from everyone else in the mansion, and it’s pretty simple. Our plan, all of it, is the secret.”

“Oh, okay, the whole plan is – wait, what?”

You press on quickly through her confusion. “And we, your friends, are going to be trying really hard to keep this secret, so it’s important that you don’t tell anyone about it and let us down. Right?“ That’s a bit of a cheap shot, but you can’t afford to take chances with this.

“…Juniper doesn’t want to disappoint her friend, Juniper’s had more than enough friends go away. Juniper will keep the plan secret.” Yeah, you’re definitely feeling a bit guilty now. Can’t be helped. “So…if someone inside there asks Juniper what she’s doing, she’ll say it’s a secret?”

And pray that they won’t be suspicious, right? “How about instead of that, you just say that we’re helping work to maintain the house and prepare for the party. That is what we’ll be doing, after all, as part of our cover.”

“Okay, so saying that would also be true. All right, Juniper will do that, then.” She nods determinedly, and you can tell that she’ll follow this course of action as best as she can.

“Great. Thanks, Juniper.” You smile at her, and she awkwardly returns the gesture, blushing slightly.

One last thing, though…“Oh, and for the record, you only said you wanted to keep your powers a secret from me. You can still tell the others, I’m sure they’ll tell you what they can do if you ask.”

“Eh? Ahh, Juniper never thought of that, but Juniper thinks she will now.” She nods, as if confirming this to herself.

“You do that.” And, if any secretive fairies happen to be caught off-guard by such a question and let something slip, well, you can hardly be blamed for listening, right?

“You two done?” Sunny barely waits for your nod before continuing. “Okay, then let’s fly over and get inside, already.”

“Um, actually…” Dai trails off, glancing at Cirno.

Cirno clears her throat. “I was thinking that you guys should go on ahead. Me ‘n Dai are going to talk to Meiling first.”

“Cirno, now’s not the time to be picking fights.” Luna says.

“No, no, I actually meant talk to her.” You can practically feel the skepticism radiating off Sunny and Luna, and Cirno clearly is likewise aware of it. “Look, we’re friends who occasionally also challenge each other to battle, alright? Talking’s not that ridiculous.”

“Technically, you’re the only one who ever does the challenging.” Dai murmurs.

“We don’t need to change the plan more now, do we?” Sunny asks. “And we really don’t need you tipping her off by talking to her.”

“We’re more likely to tip her off if I don’t talk to her and say I want a job. Meiling’ll recognize me, and some others like the maid probably will too. The wings kind of stand out from other fairies’.” Cirno points to the ice shards attached to her back. “If they just happen to see me in the mansion, apparently working with no prior excuse, they’ll know something’s up.”

“Hard work’s familiar to her, but housework isn’t, and anyone who’s met her would realize that.” Dai chimes in.

“Okay, but another thing,” Sunny counters, ”We’re already split up from Star, dividing ourselves further will just make meeting up again a hassle. And we don’t have much time to spare.”

These dissenters should know better than to go against you.

Then again, it’s not like you really need them with you right now…

Looking at the proceedings, it doesn’t look like an agreement’s likely to happen on its own, so...
What do you do?
[ ] Try and convince Cirno (Dai will follow, you assume) to just come with you.
[ ] Let Cirno and Dai go talk with Meiling.
[ ] Go along with Cirno and Dai.
[ ] Encourage everyone to go meet Meiling.
[x] Let Cirno and Dai go talk with Meiling.

Best to keep suspicion at a minimum.
[x] Go along with Cirno and Dai.

Cirno and Dai suddenly wanting a job? Suspicious. Cirno and Dai helping their new friend get a job and joining temporarily to help her out? That makes much more sense. We're like a flying cover story.

>Luna energizing
I'd make her take shuddering breaths anytime. Poor spoiler-chan doesn't know how her hijacked power works either...
[x] Go along with Cirno and Dai.
[ ] Go along with Cirno and Dai.

I like this idea.
[x] Try and convince Cirno (Dai will follow, you assume) to just come with you.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm suspicious about the context they're coming up with this in, and the fact that they didn't mention it before.

But I also think that going with Cirno and Dai is better then letting them go alone, just putting that out there.
[x] Go along with Cirno and Dai.

I think it'd be less suspicious to be seen with these two than with the trio on the mansion grounds.
Calling for going with Cirno and Dai.
You mean you like the idea of us being used as a cover story or the idea of us making Luna take shuddering breaths?
The cover story.
[x] Go along with Cirno and Dai.
I like both!
Status update, please?
File 134198902489.jpg - (473.73KB, 600x870, for_real_this_time.jpg) [iqdb]
Status update is that a real update will be within 24 hours, maximum.

Have another (likely rather empty-seeming) apology about how long this is taking, once again. I'll be doing my best to make up for the delay over the coming days.
File 134210506089.jpg - (395.36KB, 800x820, faget.jpg) [iqdb]
Uh huh.

Looks like we've got a new Patchwork on our hands here.

I know you mean well, but... maybe you should stop making update promises while you're behind. Instead, how about you promise us status updates? It's kind of annoying to have to poke you for them.
Status update on the status update, please?
Semi-valid excuse this time, was in the hospital for the last few days, but still sorry. Yes, status updates will be a thing in the future whenever I'm noticeably delayed, and I should no longer need to be poked for them.

Current status: about half done with the update and writing, will be up in a few hours.
File 134238419366.jpg - (558.54KB, 700x907, cirno helping can't possibly hurt.jpg) [iqdb]
The only invalid excuses are lies. Sorry about your thing, whatever it was.
File 134241148384.jpg - (182.69KB, 567x800, wave_to_china.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Go along with Cirno and Dai.

“Actually, Sunny…” you cut in, prompting the red-clad girl to turn her focus to you. “I think Cirno makes some good points. You guys can go on ahead, we can all catch up later.”

“Ah, c’mon, this is a waste of time.” Sunny groans.

“If we make the residents suspicious and get thrown out, I think that’ll be a much bigger waste of time,” you point out. Judging by the speed with which Sunny’s mouth snaps shut, she doesn’t have much of a response to that. “I’m going to go with them too, I think my presence could help.”

“Ah, you don’t really need to do that, Sakuya –the head maid, she more or less runs the whole place- won’t recognize you.” Dai says.

“Right, but that’s not necessarily a good thing,” you counter. “Even if she won’t associate me with trouble like you or Cirno, seeing a completely new worker, especially one that looks different from other fairies, would probably get her attention and not in a good way.”

“Honestly, I’m not sure how much attention she actually pays to the maids…” Luna says. “Beyond ‘You’re doing your job, you can stay un-knifed for now’, at least.”

“And anyway, someone new like me could be your excuse for getting a job here at all: you know, helping show your new friend around.” You continue.

Dai tilts her head. “…That’s not a bad idea, actually, it’d add some legitimacy to our being there.”

“Do we really need an excuse, though?” Cirno asks. “Not like Meiling would rat us out, and with all the work needed for a party I kinda doubt they’d question the extra help.”

“Maybe not,” you admit, “But you said yourself that seeing you working in the mansion at all would seem weird, so a legitimate-seeming motivation would seem prudent to have just in case.”

“…Yeah, okay, you probably should come with us.” Cirno admits, nodding.

“Juniper wonders…” Your eyes turn downwards to the speaking girl, who’s frowning in thought. “Juniper could just fit in with all the other maids, she’s sure, but Sunny and Moony-“

Luna,” the fairy in question interjects sharply.

“Sorry, Luna and Moony…” Luna slaps a palm to her forehead, groaning, but Juniper continues undaunted. “Shouldn’t they go to get the excuse too? Even Juniper’s heard of them and what they’ve done before, so the mansion people would have too, right?”

“Ah, you’re worried about our reputation preceding us, are you?” Sunny smirks at Juniper, folding her arms and nodding. “And well you should be, for the dreaded name of the Fairies of Light is one that has spread throughout all Gensokyo just as it has the Forest of Magic. We’ll be forced to hide our presence the whole time, for if we were to be discovered the Scarlet Devil Mansion would be forced to muster their full powers against us...”

Sunny smirks for a moment longer before she sighs, drooping. “…Is what I’d like to be able to say, but no. We’re not really important enough that anyone knows about us, unfortunately, and even on the off chance the maid or someone has heard of our trio we wouldn’t be recognizable to her. Especially not once we’re disguised in the maid uniforms.”

“Oi, that’s a bit negative for you, isn’t it?” Luna asks, raising an eyebrow. “Come on, Sunny, surely you meant to say we’re not important or well-known enough yet, right? That was the point of this plan, after all.”

“…Right, right, of course, I don’t know what I was thinking there. This isn’t a time for doubts, it’s a time for action!” Sunny pumps her fist on the last word, holding the determined pose before turning sheepishly to your fellow blonde. “Er, thanks, Luna.”

“Whatever, it’s no big deal.” Luna says dismissively, but you glimpse a small smile on her face regardless.

“For the record, they probably have heard of you three,” Dai comments. “The ‘Great Fairy War’ is a story that was being spread everywhere a while back, but it wouldn’t exactly help our case if you showed up with the girl you were famous for fighting with.”

“Hmm, famous?” Sunny perks up further. “Oh, so people did take notice of our plan to unite fairy power, did they? Were they cowed? Impressed?”

“Um…sure, yeah. Something like that.” Dai puts a hand behind her head, smiling uncertainly.

“So, shall we split up then?” You ask.

“Yeah, might as well. We’ll find Star, then she can help us find you once you’re inside.” Luna says. “Might start looking for the artifact, too, depending on how long you take.”

“See ya soon, then.” Sunny turns her back on you, angling herself towards a part of the gate considerably away from its guard.

“Wait, Juniper wants to go with you to meet the Chinese woman-” Juniper starts forward, but Sunny grabs her shoulder and drags her back.

“You’ll be back with your friend soon, kid, but we’ll be keeping an eye on you for now.”

“But, but...” Juniper stutters. You nod to her, as reassuringly as you can, and her whimpering subsides. “...Okay.”

“Stay close to Sunny and Luna, they’ll keep you hidden. Bye, guys.”

“Bye-bye.” Juniper waves over a shoulder, flying away from you. “Wait, Juniper thought their names were-” Juniper’s voice cuts off, and a moment later she winks out of sight with the other two.

“Uh...” You glance at Dai and Cirno, then shrug. “Okay, guess that’s that then.” You take the lead in flying towards the tall guard, waving in tentative greeting.

Only to slow to a halt, dropping your hand as you notice her closed eyes, shallow breathing, and slumped posture against the gate.

“Looks like your friend’s asleep, Cirno,” you mutter.

“Huh?” Cirno peers over your shoulder, then snickers quietly. “Oh, right, you don’t know- okay, just watch for a sec.”

Dai’s voice emanates softly from behind you. “Cirno, you could just tell her-”

“This way’s more fun, Dai!” Cirno zips past you, sporting a grin. As you watch, she flies upwards to the top of the gate, glances down towards you briefly, then propels herself forward to cross the barrier.

One moment the crimson-haired woman’s laid out in front of you, the next she’s shooting upwards in a red-and-green blur to intercept the fairy. There’s a curving rainbow blur, a crack, and a blue streak extending downwards that ends in a shuddering thud, as Cirno slams into the ground headfirst.

Your mouth drops open, and you start forward to check on Cirno, only to be stopped with a yank as Dai grabs the back of your dress.

Turning back, you see Dai shaking her head, as well as rolling her eyes but looking otherwise unconcerned. “She’s fine, just give her a second.”

Sure enough, in half that time Cirno’s sprung up off the ground, looking barely worse for wear, and propelled herself up towards the guard, trailing a fine white mist and pulling a crystalline blue sword out of the air to slash upward. Her opponent knocks aside the blade with one clenched fist, other hand snapping downwards to grasp Cirno’s left arm and pull it behind her back. Cirno yelps, dropping the sword which dissipates as it leaves her grasp.

“That enough?” The guard asks, not unkindly.

“You wish!” Cirno strains, there’s a loud popping sound -Dai winces, clenching her eyes shut- and Cirno twists out of the guard’s hold, rotating around her and slamming the untrapped hand into a green-covered sternum, the green woman shoved several feet backwards with a grunt.

Looking annoyed, Cirno tugs on her limply hanging arm for a second, then another two, gritting her teeth. “...Okay, maybe that is enough for now,” she admits.

“I guess even your determination has limits.” The guard visibly relaxes and approaches Cirno again, wrenching her arm back into place with another pop. Cirno sighs.

“Ahh, thanks Meiling.”

“No problem, but don’t just power out of my holds, okay? Dislocated shoulders can’t be fun even for you.” The woman -Meiling- admonishes.

“Hello, Meiling. Thanks for not roughing her up too badly.” Dai greets.

“Hi, Daiyousei. You two are inseparable as always, I see. Cirno not running you too ragged?” Dai’s only response to that is a grin and a resigned-looking shrug, and Meiling laughs.

“And...I don’t think I’ve met you before,” she addresses you. “What’s your name?”

“Ah...don’t have one. None that I can remember, at least.” You admit.

“Well, nice to meet you, miss nameless fairy. I’m Hong Meiling.” She smiles warmly, extending her right hand towards you. You stare dumbly at it for a second grab shake before tentatively clasping it in your own smaller appendage, moving your arm up and down. Her grip feels much restrained, but very firm in spite of that, and you get the sense that this woman could crush your hand easily if she so wished.

“So, ah...getting beaten up by this lady is your definition of fun, Cirno?” you ask, pulling your arm back.

“I wasn’t expecting Meiling to be quite that fast to react.” Cirno grumbles.

“You never do. And she always is.” Dai says, straight-faced but with a hint of teasing in her tone.

“Shut up, Dai.”

“How did you do that, anyway? Weren’t you asleep?” You ask Meiling, still more than a little awestruck.

“One of my skills is manipulating chi, and part of that is sensing its flow in the area around me. I’ve honed my abilities to the extent that I can even do this when asleep, and react appropriately to any threats.“ You guess Sunny and Luna, and Star presumably, stayed far enough away from her to avoid this.

“W-wait, so you’ve actually been asleep all these times?” Cirno gasps. “You told me that was just an act to put intruders off their guard!”

“Well, er, yes, Miss Sakuya happened to be within earshot when you asked me about that, so I sort of had to...” Meiling trails off with a nervous laugh.

“Ugh...so you can literally kick my butt in your sleep. Repeatedly.” Cirno groans and buries her face in her hands, as Dai pats her on the shoulder consolingly. “That’s actually really humiliating...”

“No, don’t think of it like that!” Meiling says hastily. “Even Miss Sakuya can rarely match me in this type of fight, not to mention that you’ve improved a great deal over the last couple years.”

“Meh, I guess. Thanks for saying so.” Cirno nods, looking slightly appeased.

“So how have things been around here, Meiling?” Dai asks.

“Busy, mostly. I assume you’ve heard about the party?” The three of you nod, and Meiling shrugs. “Well, thought I’d ask anyway, even though it’s not like Lady Remilia’s gone to any effort to hide it. Anyway, there’s been far too much to do for that, and Miss Sakuya’s had me spend the last several hours lifting or carrying things too heavy for her or the maids.”

“Several hours? But I thought you’re posted here for the whole day and night, basically.” Cirno says questioningly.

“Yes. I am.” Looking closely, the woman looks considerably drained, though she’s clearly making an effort to hide it.

“...Oh, right.” Cirno nods. You have the distinct feeling you’re missing something here. “Geez, that’s pretty harsh, not surprised that you were falling asleep.”

“It’s not too bad, double shifts like that are something you get used to when working with Miss Sakuya.” Meiling sighs. “Thanks for your sympathy, though. I don’t suppose you could spare any time to help out?...”

“Sure.” “Yeah.” “All right.” Your nigh-simultaneous responses blend into each other slightly, but the meaning behind them is still clear, and Meiling’s eyes widen. Not all that much, though.
“Wha-really? You mean it?” Meiling beams at you. “Finally, some more help! I can’t believe I actually convinced some fairies to join up, Miss Sakuya was sure I’d never be able to-”

“Actually, you didn’t convince us, we were already planning to.” Cirno interrupts. “Dai and I were getting this girl-” she nudges you- “a job, and thought we might as well show her the ropes while we were at it.

“I...oh.” Meiling seems to deflate slightly, but the end result is still pleased. “Well, that’s still good then! You can head on in to see Miss Sakuya when we’re done here, just tell her I sent you. There’s still tons of preparations to be done for the party: literally, in a couple of cases.”

“Who’s going to be at this party, anyway?” Cirno asks.

“Oh, all the usual faces. Lady Remilia invited Reimu, obviously, and Marisa will be there as well, much to Miss Patchouli’s chagrin. The other shrine maiden and her gods will be attending too, as will representatives from the Buddhist and Taoist temples. Miss Margatroid and a number of the forest youkai, or lesser youkai as milady put it-”

“What, like Wriggle and Rumia? Oh, should be nice to see them-” Cirno pauses, her eyes narrowing. “Wait a sec, they’re not ‘lesser’, she doesn’t have any right to call them that.”

“It is not my place to question milady’s manner of referring to other youkai. Nor is it yours, for that matter, Cirno.” Meiling says this mildly enough, but her blue eyes flash a threatening red, and her shoulders tense up slightly.

“I’ll question whoever or whatever I feel like if it’s wrong to- what, Dai?” Cirno snaps, as Dai grabs her arm.

“Calm down, Cirno. Meiling’s not responsible for how the vampire talks about us or our friends, and getting mad at her won’t solve anything.”

Cirno fumes for a second or two more, before subsiding. “...Fine. You’re right, it’s not Meiling’s fault that her Lady’s an arrogammph-” Dai muffles Cirno’s voice with a quickly-shoved hand over her mouth. “So, what were you saying about attendance, Meiling?”

“Hmm, who else is there...some kappa and tengu, the Prismriver sisters, the ghost princess, the hakutaku... Ah, and I’d heard a couple of those aliens will even be coming.”

“The ones that run that medicine shop in the human village?” Dai asks, removing her hand from Cirno’s face.

“I assume so, yes, although Miss Sakuya didn’t specify.”

“Aliens? What?” You ask, not even bothering to hide your confusion.

“They’re supposed to be from the moon, they came to Gensokyo a few years back...” Dai clarifies, or tries to, sighing at your continuing quizzical stare. “It’s a long story, we can explain later.”

Attendees from the moon? That sounds interesting, we should look into it.
No need, affairs elsewhere than the Earth matter little to us.
And you’re so sure of that...why, exactly?

Be quiet, you two, you’re giving me a headache. You rub your forehead, frowning, but at least the voices heed your words.

“There’s probably a couple more I’m forgetting, but that’s most everyone. Er, Cirno, you’re not going to ask for a rematch?”

“I’d be more than fine with one, I didn’t get a chance to use most of my moves just now. But, uh...” Cirno shoots a glance towards you and Dai.

Dai shrugs and nods. “A little more recovery time couldn’t hurt.”

“Alright, sure then!” Cirno exclaims. “Just, uh, give me a second to work out a strategy for round two, would ya?”

“Take your time.” Meiling smiles.

“So, um...” You cough. “You two don’t use danmaku or Spell Cards to fight, then? Aren’t you supposed to do that?”

“No, we do, just in a slightly different way,” Meiling responds. “The majority of Spell Card duels are fought at range, obviously, but the system also allows for close-ranged combat. That has more of an emphasis on physical attacks; those are my specialty, and what Cirno works on with me.”

“Huh,” you respond eloquently. Quite a diverse system of battle, isn’t it?

“I could show you, if you like.” Meiling offers. “You and Cirno could come at me together, two opponents won’t be much more difficult than one.”

She underestimates us. Foolish.
She seemed competent enough that underestimating us wouldn’t keep her from winning. Still, proving her wrong would be satisfying...

[ ] Sure, you might as well try joining in. Maybe you can find out what kind of “chi” your powers use?
[ ] Nah, you’ll pass, but it’s fine with you if Cirno enjoys herself a bit more.
[ ] No, you should get going. Dissuade Cirno -and Dai, though it’s odd that you have to.
[X] Sure, you might as well try joining in. Maybe you can find out what kind of “chi” your powers use?
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[x] Sure, you might as well try joining in. Maybe you can find out what kind of “chi” your powers use?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but remember this line?
>“Might start looking for the artifact, too, depending on how long you take.”
You might want to take that into consideration.

>lesser youkai
What, seriously? I figured there was no way they'd be at a high-class party like this, and Remilia hands them an invitation? Such a generous lady. I'm pleased, even if they'll be lucky to get bit parts.

>Attendees from the moon? That sounds interesting, we should look into it.
Yeah, you would be interested in the aliens, Mokou-chan. Totally a red herring, truly the voices are original characters do not steal.
[x] Sure, you might as well try joining in. Maybe you can find out what kind of “chi” your powers use?
[x] Sure, you might as well try joining in. Maybe you can find out what kind of “chi” your powers use?
Unanimous vote called for joining in the sparring match. Writing will begin when I get home later today.

>What, seriously? I figured there was no way they'd be at a high-class party like this, and Remilia hands them an invitation? Such a generous lady. I'm pleased, even if they'll be lucky to get bit parts.
The number of "high-class" people in Gensokyo is rather limited, so Remi's parties are more an excuse for her to show off than to mingle with the nobility.

And yeah, the two voices aren't OCs.
A nobility's compassion, right?

Also the latest three chapters are WaHH are more or less translated, the links are at the touhouwiki.
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>A noble's compassion, right?
More like conspicuous consumption.
All right, status update: currently stuck in a location without wifi, and posting this from my phone. I'll be able to post an update later today when this isnt an issue, though (or half of one at least: this update's getting split into two due to the time needed to work on its second half). Please wait warmly (or cooly might be a better suggestion, given the weather lately).
Aaand yeah, was stuck without wifi for the whole day, go figure. Will be able to update today for sure, though, at the earliest possible opportunity.
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Yes, I know, sorry.
[x] Sure, you might as well try joining in. Maybe you can find out what kind of “chi” your powers use?

“Yeah, I’ll give it a try.” You reply, nodding.

“Ah, really?” Meiling blinks, looking slightly taken aback.

“Sure. Seems like it could be fun, given Cirno’s enthusiasm at least.” Granted, Cirno seems enthusiastic about many things, but still. “Why, is that so surprising?”

“A little, yes. Most of the maids here would be too scared to try, I haven’t had any sparring partners in a while besides Cirno.” Meiling taps her chin, thinking. “…And Miss Sakuya, I suppose, but that’s different.”

“Right…” you mutter. “You said that the maid fairies would be scared of doing this? Should I be?”

“Eh, there’s no need to worry,” Cirno cuts in. “Sure, we play pretty rough, but, well…” She shrugs. “You’ll heal, right?”

Dai groans softly. “Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go-“

She’s interrupted by a wordless battle cry from Cirno, who lunges at Meiling with a spinning, ice-laden kick. Meiling responds with a quick sidestep, dodging the blow save for a few ice crystals, and a looping vertical kick of her own.

“Easier…well, I tried.” Dai sighs. “Be careful, would you? They won’t be used to having a third.”

“Thanks, but I’m not that worried,” you say, waving a hand airily. After all, you picked up danmaku and snowball fighting easily enough –well, in the latter case more like you figured out a way to bypass the actual fighting part, but that still counts- how much harder can this be?

You stare at Meiling and Cirno’s struggles, watching for an opening, Within a few seconds, Cirno’s circling about and jabbing at Meiling has managed to turn your mutual opponent completely around, leaving her back exposed and an inviting target. Wrapping your fingers around your thumb, you lunge at Meiling, extending your right arm to strike.

Something grabs and yanks on your forearm, Meiling blurs out of your view, and you find yourself accelerating much faster forward, crashing to earth face first and skidding through several feet of rough, unyielding granite.

…That much harder, apparently. You spit out a mouthful of gravel and compacted snow, twisting your neck to fix Meiling with a pain-intensified glare. Or you would, at least, if she was even sparing you a glance instead of remaining embroiled in combat with Cirno, trading ice-laden blows for rainbow-trailing ones. Nice to know she’s paying you close attention as a threat.

Show her your pain, then. Pay her back. Sounds good to you. You clench your hand -the left one, this time- into a fist and charge Meiling again, keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground. As Cirno stabs down with her ice sword, you throw a punch at Meiling’s side, putting all your strength behind the blow.

Nonchalantly, Meiling knocks aside Cirno’s sword, and as the ice fairy unwittingly drives it down into the ground, catches your fist in an open palm. Your attack is stopped cold with both a cracking sound and a cracking feeling, and a wordless shriek escapes your mouth as you jump back, frantically shaking out your stinging hand.
You’re not very good at this, are you?

“Never make a fist like that!” Meiling calls to you, kicking down at Cirno who rolls away. “Fingers around your thumb will make your punches crush it. Always better to strike with an open hand.” As Cirno jumps up with a snarl, Meiling whips a flattened hand into her stomach, driving the air out of her lungs with a gasp. “Like that, see? –Aah!”

Cirno returns the favor, slamming a hand into the back of Meiling’s knee and forcing her to leap away, brushing off the rapidly-expanding frost.

“Or that,” Cirno continues with a cough. “But, uh, if you want to help out, shouldn’t you be sticking with other kinds of attacks?”

Oh. Right. Yes, yes! Take my strength, use it to strike her down, as we did before.
Hey, wait, no need to do that, I can help you out too…
And use unfamiliar tactics against such a seasoned foe? Foolish. Here, act now! You shudder as warming energy suffuses your body, and, with a quick glance up at Meiling, stomp the ground.

Leafy vines erupt out of the earth around you, and Meiling, already in descending flight towards you and Cirno, gasps and tries to halt her movement. Too late, though, as your new arboreous allies grab and constrict her arms and legs, suspending her parallel to the ground.

“Nice one!” Dai cheers, grinning at you.

Okay, maybe now you can actually get a hit in. You bridge the gap to Meiling, priming your leg for a kick. She’s closed her eyes, as if in acceptance of defeat.

She’s also started mumbling.

And glowing.

…Being right next to her is seeming like a really bad idea, all of a sudden.

Meiling’s eyes snap open, sclera flashing from red to violet in an instant. “Colorful Sign: 「Colorful Wind Chime」!”

There’s a woosh of air, accompanied by a horrible ripping sound, and Meiling spins, surrounding herself in a colorful corona of gyrating energy. The vines restraining her are shredded in an instant, fragments splattering onto your face and dress, and one of her rotating arms smashes into the top of your head, driving you straight back down to the ground. At least you landed on your feet this time, is your first thought as your knees buckle.

Your second is: Gods damn it.
That trick of yours is getting awfully useless, isn’t it?

Gah… “C-can’t you just freeze her solid or something?” you gasp to Cirno, who nonchalantly tilts her head towards you, evading a jabbing elbow from a now de-spiralfied Meiling.

“Huh? Well yeah, probably, but what’d the point of that be?”

“…We’d win?” A simple solution to the rather pressing issue of blunt force traumas. “Isn’t that kind of the goal, here?”

“No, not really –uh, duck.” You instinctively obey, feeling the rush of air from a blow swinging over your head. Cirno shoves herself between you and Meiling, kicking out with a flurry of icicles to force Meiling back.

“Um, okay then,” you say, backing a bit farther behind Cirno. “Can you enlighten me as to what our goal actually is?”

“Training, obviously.” Cirno says, kicking up and having three massive icicles follow her foot, making Meiling hastily reconsider her forward lunge. “Getting better at fighting forms, coming up with stronger attacks, having a chance to test them out. That sorta thing.”

“Ah. Right, I guess if you’d wanted to win quickly you would have had better ways to.” That giant snowball, or something like it, comes to mind.

“Yeah, and it’s not like Meiling would be helpless either, if I tried. You didn’t see what her hat says, didja? Uh, don’t check now.” She quickly adds, as you stick your head out to the side and nearly have it taken off by an energized fist.

“But anyway, point is. Freezing things solid? I’m good at that, really good at that, already. Freezing frogs, lakes, bullets even- that’s all easy, and not something I really need training in. Heck, I can freeze fire if I time it right, you can’t go much higher than that.” Cirno pauses, knocking away several rapid strikes of Meiling’s and tossing an icicle at her. “Well, lasers are still kinda problematic, I guess, but that’s not the point.”

“Please don’t try and freeze Marisa’s Master Spark again. That’s just never going to end well.”

“Givin’ a speech here, Dai!” Cirno calls over her shoulder, before refocusing on the battle. “The point, and I really mean it this time, is that these? Actual fights, danmaku or physical? Those are the things I can still lose at, things I need work on, and Meiling’s nice enough to help me with them. Actually help, not just ‘let’s-attack-the-stupid-fairy-because-she’s-in-the-way’ kind of help. And with her help, I’ve been able to improve, and get stronger. I’m not saying that winning’s not important, or that you should always hold back like that dollmaker, but it’s better to lose and get a lot stronger for it than to win and get nothing. Because eventually, if you keep working to overcome your weaknesses and don’t give up, then they’ll all be gone. That’s what it means, that’s what it really takes, if you want to be the strongest.”

“So, just because I could do something like this…” She slams the ground with both palms. There’s a cracking, keening sound, and a field of jagged ice columns sprouts up from the ground, leaving gaping holes around you two and Meiling.

“Or this…” Cirno stretches her hands up, there’s an aquamarine flash of light, and an enormous mass of ice, shadow encapsulating all of you, materializes in the air above them. She effortlessly tosses the miniature glacier to your right, and the earth shudders as it slams into the ground, making you stumble.

“…It’s a lot more rewarding to manage this.” As her icicle field fades away what, is it evaporating?, Cirno zips in close to Meiling, dodging a jab, a hook, a kick, and slams a double-palmed blow into Meiling’s chest, blasting her backwards into the gate and sending sparkling shards of ice flying everywhere.

Cirno remains in that pose, arms outstretched, for a few seconds, before sighing and turning back to you. “So, think you get it?”

“…” You nod hesitantly, then with a bit more confidence. “Yeah, I think so. Thanks, Cirno, for that...impassioned speech of yours.” Even if you don’t really see the point of many things she said, the general point is clear. You’d gotten caught up in beating her just like with that tree, right? That was smart… , but you should be seeing this as a learning opportunity. That was one of the reasons you’d decided to participate, after all.

“Good, because here she comes again!” Meiling’s gotten up, leaving the gate a bit dented where she impacted, and a pale glowing aura surrounds her body. Cirno rushes forward to meet her, forming a sphere of ice in one hand.

You inhale deeply, and close your eyes for just a moment- you can afford to, Cirno’s keeping Meiling occupied. All right, then, er… non-growing voice. Care to show me what you can do?
Oh, thank you, I thought you’d never ask. Right, let’s give this a try…

A wave of chilling energy, this time, floods over you. It’s not uncomfortable, exactly, just a distinctly odd feeling, and you shiver.

Okay, now go up and hit her.
That, uh, didn’t work all that well the last time I tried it. Or the time before that, or the time before that-
Just do it, it’ll be different this time.
No it won’t, she’s useless to you.

You ignore the latter voice, advancing on Meiling and Cirno. The former is still surrounded by that glow, and the latter has evidently coated herself in ice. To- match Meiling, counter her maybe? Whatever. With a quick propulsion of your wings, you close the distance to Meiling, lashing out with a kick-

And missing, as Meiling shifts her torso marginally to the side. You’d sigh if you had the time and weren’t distracted by the woman twisting towards you to counterstrike.

And feel…absolutely nothing. Meiling’s eyes widen in surprise.

Your managing to turn and chop her in the throat adds to this, you like to think. It seems to do approximately as much damage as her own attack, but it’s still the first hit you’ve managed to land.
So when she hits you uselessly it doesn’t count, but when you hit her uselessly it does?
Shut up.

“Whoa, what the-?” Meiling stumbles backwards half a step, staring at you. “How did you do that?”

“Well, you let your guard down, so I-“

“No, not that. The flow of your body’s chi just …froze, for a second. Completely stopped moving or changing. I’ve never seen anything like that before, I don’t think.”

…How on earth did you manage that? And why didn’t you before?
Well, there wouldn’t have been any point with you-Oh!

Meiling’s launched herself into that tornado attack from before, throwing off Cirno and beating her limbs against you repeatedly. You grit your teeth instinctively, but there’s no need: though you can see the contacts against your arms and torso, you still feel nothing.

…Phew, almost lost it for a second there. These attacks aren’t enough to break my concentration, though.
No, really, we need an explanation here. What are you doing?
Personally, I’m fine just knowing that this keeps me safe-
Yes, well I’m not. Where did you get this ability?

“Huh, so it looks like my normal techniques won’t do a thing against you, then. However you’re doing that with your chi, it makes you really resilient, especially for a fairy.” Meiling pauses, then grins. “Interesting. Guess that means I’ll have to try something with a bit more power behind it…”

That…still shouldn’t be an issue, right?
I don’t have any reason to let you know. Perhaps I’ve always had it.
No, if you had then you would have used it against me, and we wouldn’t have gotten into this in the first place.
…Right? Hello?

Meiling draws a Spell Card, holding it aloft, and it flashes. “Fiery Attaaack…”

…Well, you did catch me by surprise. Still, I don’t care to give you any more information.
…No, I don’t care, I’m satisfied. If this failed you against me once, it won’t save you again.
Will you two shut up and help me, ideally now-

“「Roc-killing Fist」!” Her hand, now surrounded in a vivid rainbow ring, launches towards you-

What? Ohhhh, fu-

The world explodes into blinding prismatic pain, centered on a fist-sized area of your chest. Your eyes overload and take this as their cue to shut down, your field of view shifting from all colors to none black is still a color, you know. You remain dimly aware of wind rushing past and around your backwards-propelled body, buffeting at your clothes and chilling your body.

Ugh…No, that’s still me, actually. You’re welcome.

You attempt to take a breath, and fail, bringing to your immediate attention that you’re still in pain. Incredible pain, in fact.
…Also my fault. It was this or being disintegrated, sorry.
Oh, stop that already, the threat has passed. Let us heal.

The chill lessens, and the agony permeating your body starts to dull. Rather more slowly than you’d like, admittedly, but it’s progress.

Your flight ends abruptly, head impacting against something soft and your body doing the same half a heartbeat later. A pair of arms, wrapped in white cloth, wrap around you as well. Looks like someone’s caught you mid-flight, that’s nice of them. Probably.

You hear a low, throaty chuckle, and the arms tighten around you.
That…sounds horribly familiar. Of something from a long while ago, but still…

You crane your neck back, looking up. Your head is pressed against a yellow strip of cloth tied around a woman’s neck. She’s not wearing a dress, unlike every other person you’ve met so far, but rather a divided crimson garment, with darker crisscrossing lines spread over it, over a white piece of clothing. A pale pink parasol floats by her side, and you have the inexplicable feeling that it’s alive, somehow. Looking up further, forest green hair frames knowing crimson eyes and a mature, lovely face.

And she’s smiling at you. Now, in most cases, this would be a reassuring thing to notice: most of your friends are prone to smiling, after all, and it’s a pleasant expression in all their cases. But while Star’s perpetual smile indicates a blasé contentment with her surroundings, or Cirno’s grin shows the bright confidence typical of her being...this woman’s mouth forms the grin of a predator, whose unsuspecting prey has just leaped neatly into their jaws and is struggling futilely to escape.

“My, my, my, my…”

Oh, no. Not her...
What? Who is this supposed to be?

As you stare into the woman’s blood-red eyes, you are filled with the rising feeling that running away, far away, would be an exceptionally good idea. If only you could.

“What do we have here~?”
Yaaaaaay. Moe time!
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Back to having no idea who italics is. Yay.
I'm thinking that they aren't people, but aspects of our shattered subconsciousness. Italics is the part of us that is flowering and reproduction (Spring and Summer). Censored is the part of us that is hibernation and endurance (Fall and Winter). The two of them act as personified id and superego, both wanting the best for us, but going at it in different ways.
Cool theory, but Viridian said they aren't original characters, sooo...
Do they count as original characters if they aren't even characters, but just aspects of our character?
Well, our character is most likely an OC herself, so yeah.

>>54106 does have an interesting theory, but I think there's too much evidence against it. The voices do seem to fit the id-superego roles rather well, though, even if they don't actually personify them.

Is there anyone else italics could be, if Yuuka's out? Maybe Suwako? Minoriko?
I'm not quite sure why I think this, but I can't help but feel that the voices are Mugetsu and Gengetsu. Especially since they seem to know Yuuka on a personal level, although pretty much everyone in Gensokyo knows about her.
Well, one of them knows Yuuka. The other seems to be rather confused as to who she is. I immediately thought the one who knows Yuuka might be Mima, but I can't quite see why Mima would be scared of Yuuka...

Meh. Just wild mass guessing, at this point.
>Just wild mass guessing, at this point.
Lily White and Lily Black.
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“Ah…” You gulp nervously, staring up at the woman’s eerily smiling face.

Be careful what you say. Make sure that you don’t say anything which might offend her, or we’ll regret it. “H-hello there, ma’am. Sorry for, er, dropping in on you like this.’

You take a quick look around, attempting to get some idea of where you’ve landed and potentially seek out some avenues of escape. The lake’s no longer in- no, wait, it’s still in view, off in the distance. For the more immediate area, there’s a wide river on your left and a strip of trees on the right.

Oh, and a red-clad woman with a strong grip immediately behind you, so no escape likely. Great.

“Well, aren’t we a polite little fairy. Although…‘ma’am’, is it? I do hope I’m not looking my age…” The woman chuckles.

“Um, n-no! Of course not!” You’re quick to assure her. “You don’t look a day over…er…” She’s a youkai, right? How do they age? Very slowly, if at all. Just pick a number that would flatter a human woman, that should suffice. Um, that’s not actually very helpful… Twenty or thereabouts. Quickly, now, it’s obvious that you’re stalling. “Seventeen?”

She chortles heartily at that, jostling you a bit as her stomach vibrates beneath you. “Oh my, you are quite the flatterer, aren’t you? And amusing as well, I like that. I think I might keep you~”

Erk. “I think I’d prefer that you just put me down, let us go our separate ways…”

“Oh, but why would I ever want to do that?” She blinks demurely down at you.

“…Because I need to get back to my friends?”

“But you’re with me now, sweetie. And we’re friends, aren’t we? I do hope so, I’d be so terribly disappointed otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself…” Her hands abruptly tighten around your midsection, applying just-shy-of-crushing force, though there’s no strain evident in her arms nor a single change in her expression.

“Yes, okay! We’re friends!” you gasp out frantically, and the vices on your stomach release. Owowow, your body’s still sore from Meiling’s attack and that really didn’t help…

“Wonderful, wonderful.” She beams at you, before tilting her head slightly and fixing you with a contemplative gaze. “Hmm…I can’t help but notice that you seem a bit scared, sweetheart. Don’t worry, I won’t bite...”

Her head thrusts down besides yours, teeth snapping by your ear. You jerk your head away, and the woman’s bared teeth morph into a smirk as you feel to confirm that your ear’s still intact.

“Well, I might. I suppose you wouldn’t fit my tastes, though, not those tastes at least~ A fairy like yourself- unlike fish or fowl, human or even youkai- would disappear far too fast to make good food or fertilizer, wouldn’t you? Or would you?...” She pauses, looking like she’s seriously contemplating testing that out, then giggles.

“I suppose that’s enough fun for now. Wouldn’t want you to die of fright before we can get to know each other. I have been searching for you for a good portion of my day, wouldn’t want that time to have be wasted.”

“Searching…for me?” You repeat. That can’t be good.

“That is indeed what I said, dear.” She smirks at you.

“But then, why were you…?”

“That is the question, isn’t it? Well, let me tell you a little story.” The woman shifts you around in her arms so that you’re facing her properly, instead of painfully craning your neck back to make eye contact. She also pulls you up to her eye level, freeing your head from being muffled in her chest.

“I was on a fairly routine trip to the Human Village to get some gardening supplies –could have had Elly do it, but the girl tries so hard at her real job that I couldn’t take her away. Anyway, nothing there went unordinarily; I purchased my goods, terrorized a few shopkeepers, very normal.” She looks rather disappointed in that, for some reason. “So obviously, I was dreadfully bored, and decided to take a stroll back through the forest, in hopes of finding something interesting. Now, what do you supposed I discovered?”

…Buying gardening tools, mentioning fertilizer… “My flowers?” you hazard a guess.

“Full marks, give the girl a prize!” she exclaims. “Yes, indeed. I was ambling along, still disappointed that I hadn’t even gotten to cause a little panicked mob, when I sensed something that pushed that right out of my mind: a small growth of snowdrops. So, naturally I-“

“Wait, ‘sensed’?’ you interject, evoking a scowl from the woman’s face; worrying, but you press on regardless. “How did you manage that?”

“It’s rude to interrupt, dear. Ah, but I suppose I can allow you that question, this will all make a good deal more sense with it answered. I-“ She pulls one hand off you, grasping her parasol and twirling it with a flourish. “-am Yuuka Kazami, Flower Master of the Four Seasons. Knowing flowers is, quite simply, what I do, and having a sixth sense about them – well, more like an eleventh sense, but still- is practically part of the job description. Likewise, my knowledge of the four seasons alerted me to these blooms still being one early. But I’ve gotten distracted, it seems.” Yuuka taps the tip of her parasol on the ground, frowning. “Where was I- ah, yes.”

“Naturally, upon noticing such an unseasonal event, I simply had to go and investigate it further. I was hoping I might have discovered an Incident; those are generally good for a laugh or two. Finding my way to the small clearing, I could observe the snowdrops firsthand, and managed to be surprised once again. I could feel a little residual energy on them, and- “She stops, focusing on your face, then exhales briefly. You catch a faint scent of…sunflowers? “I suppose you’re wondering how I did that too, aren’t you?”

“Um…” Are you that easy to read? “Well, yes, actually.”

“Darling, while I appreciate the attention, having to explain everything I’m capable of would leave us here long into spring. Just go along with it, would you?” You nod, and she smiles. …Has that expression gotten less scary, or is it just your perception? No, it’s a trick, don’t fall for it.

“Very good. Now, this energy that I sensed seemed familiar, though I couldn’t for the life of me remember why. I asked the snowdrops who, or what, had made them grow, and they were happy to tell me that it had been a little fairy with a pleasurable touch.” Yuuka hums, tracing a finger over your chest, down your back, withdrawing it with a smirk as you shiver. “It seems that they were accurate on both counts after all~… I certainly wasn’t convinced of that at the time, though.

“You see, prior to yourself, I’ve only met four fairies who I viewed worthy of my attention. One of these four would be capable of this, and not only did I know how distinctly different her power feels, I knew for a fact that she’ll be busy until the start of spring proper. And while there are many other fairies whose abilities relate to plants or flowers, they’d be far too weak to grow and sustain a large area of flowers out-of-season. So, I was rather stymied.”

“What happened then?” you ask, curious despite yourself.

“Well, I couldn’t leave things at that, now could I? I continued searching the forest for this mysterious fairy, and eventually I happened upon another incongruous spot; a pair of trees, each with the same type of lingering energy. One looked to have had its boughs snapped off: wouldn’t be all that uncommon, if there’d been any snow weighing it down.” Yuuka shrugs unconcernedly.

“The other was covered with a brand-new crop of cherry blossoms, and this was the one that sparked my memories, letting me recognize the influence of an old…friend.” She puts particular emphasis on the word ‘friend’, as if unsure of whether it’s the correct one to use it’s not.

“So, what’d you remember exactly?” you ask. Searching your own memories, you’re drawing a blank on this woman yes, that’s intentional but you’re not certain you can rely on your-
Wait. What? Oh, you hypocrite…

“Why, everything, child. A time long gone, before the Border or Gensokyo proper; a rivalry, innumerable battles, fear, pride, love and hate, the sealing and the exodus; oh, yes, it made me nostalgic thinking on those times and the parts we played. I remember it all.” Yuuka’s eyes are locked on your own, studying you intently for what seems an eternity, until her gaze drops with a sigh.

“But…you do not, it seems. How puzzling. That girl was never any good ay secrecy or subtlety, nor would she ever have lowered herself to a fairy’s form…” A flash of annoyance sparks up within you, but you quash it quickly as Yuuka continues. “And yet, that is unmistakably her power on you.” Her free hand plucks a fragment of vine from your hair, rolling it between two fingers. “In you.” The plant piece drops, forgotten, as her fingers stroke your cheeks and chin. Yuuka’s brow creases, and her hand withdraws.

“And there’s something else there too. Perhaps I am mistaken? Yes, I see it now, two separate weaves spread throughout your fragile flesh, oddly inimical, and yet still…growing, sustaining…” Her voice drops off, eyes trailing over you, before they narrow in on a spot by your hip. “What’s this, now?”

Quick as a flash, her hand darts in and out of your pocket, withdrawing – “Another sakura blossom, but…a still living one, is it? Untouched by heat, pressure, or even time, if I didn’t know better I’d guess this had…ahhh.” Her eyes widen. “Could it be? Have we a pair? Oh my…” Her hand closes on the flower, then reopens, revealing a small seed.

“Replicate that, if you would.” You glance from the seed to Yuuka and back again, but she cuts you off as you open your mouth. “That was not a request. Now.”

Very well. Why are we listening to her, again? Just help me appease her, would you? Oh, fine.
You touch the seed with your index finger, concentrating. Heat spreads down your arm and hand, spilling out into the seed which vibrates before bursting, sprouting a green stem and eight pink leaves. My turn. Warmth is replaced by cold, and your arm’s pins and needles pass into the bloom with an aqua flash.

“Ohh?” Yuuka remarks, brows raising as she spins you around, one hand curling about your waist while the other plays over your wings, swiftly tracing out patterns across both. There’s a moment of tension, then the cold dissipates from your body and Yuuka releases a sigh, turning you back towards her.

“Both it is, then. Quite astonishing. Ah, but if she’s here, then that means...” Yuuka’s gaze turns skyward, scanning for something. She lets out a laugh, then turns back to you, a very crooked smile playing across her face.

“The smoke no longer spreads. Now that little accident from earlier makes sense. Oh, I don’t know what game you’re playing, silly girls, but it’s certainly going to have repercussions, oh yes, ahaha…”

“I…” You gulp, staring at Yuuka. “I don’t understand. What are you-?”

“Oh, but you will, you will! Very soon, too soon, you, your friends, and all Gensokyo will know, you’ll understand, however much you try to deny it. And you, poor damned foolish girl, you’ll be at the very center of it all, fufufu…” She chuckles cruelly.

Watching her laugh, the terror you’d felt before, though temporarily gone as if sleeping, is returning and you have to consciously force yourself not to tremble.

And then she stops, and stares, and…frowns? “But perhaps…perhaps I don’t like this idea quite so much after all. The chaos and confusion will be wondrous, the pests will be weeded out, yes, but there’s still those girls to keep in mind…” Her eyes wander over you, up and down. “And I have started to like you as well, dear, despite myself… Yes, I suppose I might help, just a little.”

“I have three pieces of advice: heed them well.” Her face and voice shift back to neutrality, taking on a surprisingly serious tone. “One. Your thoughts and powers may be in you, but they are not necessarily of you, and heeding them will not long be in your best interest. Remain wary.

Two. Any other fairies at your side will be, in one way or another, immature children. Children of any species, despite the popular belief of being pure and innocent, are capable of great selfishness, spitefulness, and cruelty; do not expect more of children than is due them. Remain realistic. And three…”

Yuuka pokes between your eyes with the flower, evoking a small cry of surprise, before delicately inserting it back into your pocket. “Keep this with you, the construct grown from my seed and your energies; I will keep the other. Use the blossom to remind yourself of the potential within the young and small, of how your influence can change those around you, and of how even the simplest things may hold unexpected strengths. Remain hopeful.”

“The rest…is up to you.” As Yuuka slides her hand out of your pocket, her fingertips brush against the inside of your leg, and you let out a too-loud gasp.

“Ah?” Yuuka tilts her head, actually managing to look faintly embarrassed. “My apologies, that was accidental,” she murmurs. “Well, mostly accidental at least, but despite what rumors say I am not-“ Whatever she is not will have to remain a mystery, as an uncharacteristically loud and angry voice cuts in, and your head whips around to see a familiar face.

“Get your hands off of her, Yuuka.” Dai demands.
I had originally planned to make Yuuka a fair bit more cryptic than this, but after an attempt at that characterization I realized that it made conveying the right amount of information really difficult. Feel like the rewrite could be better, too, but I'm satisfied enough.
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“Dai?” you say, blinking in surprise. She followed you? When did she get here? “What are-”

“Don’t worry, I’m going to help you.” Dai says, narrowed eyes fixated on Yuuka.

“Oh, it’s her.” Yuuka mutters, distaste evident in the words. She lowers her voice and whispers to you. “Mind playing along for a bit? I’ll reward you for it afterwards.”

Without really processing that, your head automatically bobs a confused nod. Play along with what? No idea, but if it’s something she needs to make up to you then that doesn’t bode especially well…

“Well, if it isn’t little Daiyousei. Trying to play hero, save an innocent fairy from the big bad flower youkai?” Yuuka smirks. “How pathetic. Still trying to fight against your nature, girl? You have to know it won’t last.”

“Your attempts at taunts won’t distract me, Yuuka,” Dai snaps back. “I did hear her just now, it’s obvious what you were doing to her.” Oh, that’s awkward. “What, you couldn’t content yourself with Wriggle, now you’re having to resort to picking up random fairies?”

…Okay, so it seems like Yuuka’s aim is just to mess with Dai and make her worry about you, not unlike what happened with yourself earlier. You feel like you should stop her…Your friend’s doing fine for herself, there’s no need. Yes, Kazami’s attention is off you now, leave it that way.

“Wriggle?” Yuuka replies, raising an eyebrow. “Huhu, so the nightbug’s let on about our night trysts, has she? Spoke of how she rubbed her pollen on my petals and made my stigma tingle?” Yuuka grins as Dai’s face reddens, though you can’t tell whether that’s from anger or embarrassment. “Oh come now, Daiyousei, I’m not quite so monstrous as the stories say, not without a good reason at least. You should know that.”

“Yes, I feel so very lucky to have gained that bit of knowledge.” Dai mutters. “But for all I know, you wouldn’t even consider it unethical to do this-”

“A misunderstanding, dearest Daiyousei. My affections aren’t something I’d administer to any ‘random fairy’, as you put it. A suitable target would need to have managed a certain closeness to me, like little Wriggle.” Yuuka pauses, a cruel twist adding itself to her grin. “Come to think of it, another possibility would be Cirno…”

Dai’s eyes narrow to aqua slits, malice flashing through them, and darkness wipes the pearly shade from her wings. A faint wave of nausea washes over you, skin crawling not this again, and the thought crystallizes in your mind that things are definitely going too far.

“Yuuka, wait, this is too- hrkgh.” Her supporting hand relocates itself from your stomach to your throat, turning the rest of your admonishment into so much gurgling, and the sickening feeling from Dai intensifies. “Children should be seen and not heard,” she murmurs, loosening her grip enough to allow air through and calm the panicked rush of adrenaline through your veins.

“My, that certainly got your blood boiling.” Yuuka addresses Dai over your head. “Better be careful, now, lest it lead to blood or body parts bursting. I have no doubt I’ll be fine at this level of things, but I’d be worried about this girl-“ she gives you a meaningful shake- “given that you’re not with Cirno right now…”

“Was with her until just a minute ago,” Dai seethes, but as her gaze flicks over you, its anger is rapidly replaced by worry, and her wings slowly settle back to a light grey, then white. “I…I’m in control, I’m in control...” she repeats to herself, a mantra.

“Such a strong will,” Yuuka purrs. “And it has to be, no doubt, to match the strength of the power you’ve attained. For you have become powerful, have you not? Little Cirno’s still working hard to eke more scraps of power from her essence, but you…you’ve very nearly outgrown her, haven’t you? Or mayhaps you have already, Daiyousei?...”

“I’m used to you messing with my head by now, Yuuka,” Dai spits. “You’re not going to-”

“Messing with your head, you say? Funny you should say that, for the body of the fairy I found by your lake earlier had her head severely ‘messed with’. It had decayed off the rest of her body, from what I could tell, now what could have caused that…?”

“I- wha- Body? No…” Dai falters, color draining out of her face. She shakes her head violently, empty-eyed. “No, no, no, you’re lying, you have to be lying, please, not again, not again…”

Yuuka stares dispassionately down at Dai’s stricken form. “I can hardly force you to believe me, Daiyousei. But I ask you, if I decided to tell you this lie…why would I wait until now? There have been ample opportunities over the past years, particularly the early days after your awakening when you were at your most fearful.”

Dai doesn’t respond, just shaking her head mutely and staring blankly at the ground. Waves of grey ripple over her wings, unnoticed.

“Although I must say, I didn’t expect you to react quite that strongly…” Yuuka muses quietly, a frown creasing her brow. “Surely you wouldn’t unless…you were already suspicious? I wonder…” She shakes her head, blinking as Dai raises her own, some life having flickered back into her eyes.

“Maybe you are telling the truth, then. I don’t know, can’t know, for sure. But…I had weeks, last time by Cirno’s side, before anything bad happened. So I’ll continue with the next couple days as planned, and then…” Dai pauses, then nods wearily. “I’ll find out the truth and…do what’s necessary.”

“…Very well, then.” Yuuka nods, looking slightly taken aback. “You’ve grown more than I thought.” she whispers, voice barely reaching your ears. “Perhaps even you, cursed girl, will make it through the coming times...”

“But if I’m going to manage that, then I can’t deal with you right now, Yuuka.” Dai continues, a calm defiance filling her tone. “Hey-“ she catches your eye. “Can you do the same chi-resistance technique as you did with Meiling, in a few seconds?”

You’re unable to articulate a verbal response, but you manage a nod to Dai. Seems things are going to escalate, then…

“Chi-resistance- Oh, so you two actually are acquainted, then?” Yuuka asks, quirking an eyebrow. “So, that explains your determination, Daiyousei. But you can’t be considering an attack with your power now, your little friend could easily take the brunt of it-“

“Which is why I’m using this instead,” Dai states, drawing a Spell Card from her pocket and holding it aloft. “Restrained Plague: 「 Trypanosomiasis」!”

The card flashes white, and a cloud of grey smoke erupts from it, reshaping itself and lightening into several dozen oblong pink shapes, a bit like very warped cylinders with long tails at their ends. As one, the shapes dart towards Yuuka, surrounding the two of you from all sides. In the same heartbeat, your body fills with the almost-familiar chilling energy.

“What on earth are these-“ A frowning Yuuka grabs one wriggling shape out of the air, crushing it between her fingers. Her eyes widen. “Oh, that’s rather clever…Hah!” She leaps away, dodging through the group of Dai’s projectiles, which blur past you too quickly to see their points of impact. Exceptions being one that grazes your leg, and another striking your stomach, but you wouldn’t know it if you hadn’t seen the collisions.

The spell ends, and Yuuka drifts back to ground, smiling. “Not bad, Daiyousei, but it’ll take more than that to-uhhn…” Her body sags, eyes drooping shut, and she slumps down to the ground, grip on you loosening enough for you to pry her fingers off your throat.

“Ah, good, it worked.” Dai smiles, flying up to you. “You’re all right, then?”

You nod, inhaling deeply and squeezing out a few hacking coughs. Couldn’t Yuuka have just put her hand over your mouth or something? “Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks for the help.”

“No problem, now let’s get back to the ma-mmgk!” Dai is interrupted by the back of a large hand smacking her across the face and snapping her head back, shoving her back several feet.

“Juuust kidding!~” Yuuka announces, jumping up and using her slapping hand to grab her parasol, the tip of which starts to glow. “I did say it would take more than that to put me down. Oh, wait, did I not manage to finish saying that? How confusing it must have been. Anyway…”

Yuuka flourishes her parasol at Dai, simpering. “Like it or not, that was tantamount to starting a duel, now it’s your responsibility to continue it. Prepare yourself-“

No,” you assert, grabbing her parasol interesting, it ripples under our touch and plunging its tip to the ground. You’ve been waiting far too long to speak your mind.

“What?” Yuuka stares down at you, brow furrowing. “Dear, you do realize that you can’t actually stop me-“

“I said no,” you repeat. “Shut the hell up.”

Yuuka’s head jerks back in a manner uncannily similar to Dai’s a moment ago, the woman seeming almost physically affronted. Her voice takes on a dangerously sweet tone, each word dripping honeyed acid. “My dear, do you realize just who you’re talking to-“

“Yes, I do, in fact,” you interrupt, and Yuuka’s eyes narrow further. You do have a plan here, right? Right? “I’m talking to the woman that provoked my friend, choked me and threatened to hurt her best friend to further mess with her, and convinced her of something I don’t entirely understand but that practically drove her to tears. All of this you did for no apparent reason other than her worrying about me, and all of it you’re now trying to use as a justification for attacking her. And I’m not having it.”

You pause for breath. Dai’s mouth has dropped open and she’s staring at you blankly, looking unsure whether to applaud or pull you away and flee as fast as possible. Yuuka’s face, meanwhile, is an unreadable mask.

…How long can you block Kazami’s attacks for before she kills us?
Given her power, I doubt it would be possible at all.
Well. Shit.

Your voice softens, and you press on. “But in addition to that, I’m talking to someone who is supposedly my old friend, professed a liking for me herself which wasn’t entirely unreciprocated, and despite being needlessly creepy in doing so, gave me a great deal of unexpected advice for the purpose of helping me through some unmentioned danger. And for that last part, Yuuka, you do have my thanks.” You stare up at her, and note that her expression still hasn’t changed one iota. Oh boy.

“So, I hope it’s not necessary to fight, but if you’re going to attack me for my disrespect just now, could you at least leave Dai out of it? She was just trying to-” You trail off, in the face of one new, entirely unprecedented development.

Yuuka is laughing.
And not like the refined, knowing laughs she’d exhibited every time before. Belly laughter bursts out of her in great waves, the force of her mirth doubling her over and breaking her composure more than anything you’ve seen this whole time, tears even leaking out of her eyes between the guffaws. Dai looks askance at Yuuka’s bent figure, opening her mouth and then closing it again with a shrug, at a loss for a proper verbal reaction. Eventually, Yuuka straightens up, wiping a tear out of her eye.

“Ahaha…Ah, that was just superb. I had no idea for a moment there if you were brave or unbelievably stupid, and, well, now I’m convinced it’s more than a little of both. But still, the sheer bravado needed to confront me like that- marvelous.”

“Yes, with resolve like that, now I’m definitely sure that you’ll be all right. I’d suggest a bit more common sense in just how you use it when addressing powerful beings, however. Very well, the two of you are free to go. But, one last thing…” She smiles at you mischievously.

“…What last thing?” You’re not sure if you like the way she’s looking at you, nor are you sure what to make of it.

“I did say that I’d reward you, didn’t I? And, well, I suppose that I owe you something more for putting you through all of that. Fly up here for a moment, would you?” Yuuka beckons you with a hand.

…She’s going to give you something else for a reward, then? Exchanging a bemused glance with Dai, you do as you’re told, fluttering up a foot to Yuuka’s eye level.

“Close your eyes…” You obey, last sight being the knowing smirk on Yuuka’s face.

…Wasn’t her face awfully close to your own-

Her arms, gentle this time, wrap around your back to pull you close, and a pair of soft, warm lips meet your own, the tip of her tongue sliding into your mouth.


[ ] Pull away.
-[ ] She doesn’t have the right to do this.
-[ ] You’re not comfortable with this.
[ ] Go along with it, but don’t give her the satisfaction of anything more.
[ ] Kiss her back.
-[ ] Harder than she wants; beat her at her own game.
-[ ] You’re curious about how this happens.
[x] Go along with it, but don’t give her the satisfaction of anything more.

Trying to pull back would be dangerous and I'm too unsure of her to want to continue.
[ ] Go along with it, but don’t give her the satisfaction of anything more.

Our Fairy-self probably doesn't even understand what exactly Yuka is doing. Inactivity due to a mix of confusion and being overloaded by the new sensations seems like the most likely response. At least to me it does.
[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.

If this is a thing that's going to happen for fear of offending Yuuka, I for one would like to learn some things. For later. Nevermind that Dai is watching.

I sure am glad I didn't bother typing up a justification for my Lily guess. Still no idea~
[X] Kiss her back.
-[X] You’re curious about how this happens.

I am willing to make a gamble.
What gamble? If she wasn't pissed about nameless fairy's little speech, she sure as hell isn't going to be pissed by getting kissed back.
[X] Pull away.
-[X] She doesn’t have the right to do this.

It's not OK for your uncle to touch you inappropriately, and it's not OK for thousand year old youkai to touch you inappropriately.

Stand up for fairy rights. Don't just go into "OH shit guys it's Yuuka" mode.
[X] Kiss her back.
-[X] You’re curious about how this happens.
[X] Kiss her back.
-[X] You’re curious about how this happens.

Nice to see a Yuuka that isn't totally insane. This one seems far closer to the Yuutroll I prefer.
[ ] Go along with it, but don’t give her the satisfaction of anything more.
>It's not OK for your uncle to touch you inappropriately, and it's not OK for thousand year old youkai to touch you inappropriately.

>Stand up for fairy rights.

Assuming that you're being at all serious, it's just a kiss, she's not actively molesting us or anything. If she was then that'd be a problem, sure, but as things stand now not so much.
She's using tongue. That's definitely Bad Touch.

But I'm not complaining~
[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.

Oh hell, Why not?

>It´s just a kiss
>Not actively molesting

you don't seem to quite grasp the definition of molest. Come now, im sure am upstansing gentleman such as yourself could spare a moment or two to open a dictionary.
[x] Pull away.
-[x] She doesn’t have the right to do this.

A peck would be one thing. Tongue? Too much, right there.
[x] Go along with it, but don’t give her the satisfaction of anything more.
[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.

You have my attention now.
[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.

I'd vote for the assertive option, but it doesn't have any support. A bit of a shame it was ignored in favor of this one, really, but since both are good options, I'm not gonna complain.

Why not vote for the other option then, since it doesn't matter anyway? You voting for the less prefered but more popular choice won't change a thing, but there if there is turnaround in votes your vote could be the one that swings it around.
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A turnaround for an option he wants even less, likely. The margin is way too low for symbolic gestures.
[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.

Growing up is so cute~
[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.
Hooray for learning!
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Meant to do this earlier, but calling for curiosity-compelled kissing.

So, of course, the kiss option gets by far the most votes of any choice so far, not very surprising.
Likewise, it probably says something about people's' priorities that only 2-3 people out of 15 commented on any part of the update besides the kiss. That's okay though, looking back the second section was done pretty badly anyway.

And it looks like I gave Yuuka a more rape-y vibe than was intended, which is unfortunate. Interesting how those few words mentioning tongue changed the meaning so much.

Your fairy-self doesn't, really, but the voices do, and the options are largely based on which personality has the most control in the decision.

I think I mentioned this previously, but you are going to be meeting Lily White and Black at some point. Probably rather soon, in fact.

This Yuuka was designed, more or less, around being a troll, although I'm not sure how well the final product conveyed that.

Oh, and writing is now in progress. Shouldn't be 4.5k words or take 4 days this time.
>the options are largely based on which personality has the most control in the decision.
What? Dropping a super-ominous line so casually...
That is pretty ominous, especially considering:

>Your thoughts and powers may be in you, but they are not necessarily of you, and heeding them will not long be in your best interest. Remain wary.

Not to mention that I'm pretty sure we didn't pick the "fairy" choice, though I'm not sure what that would have been.
Curiosity is pretty fairy-like. Besides, italics definitely doesn't like Yuuka, and while spoilers might do it to annoy italics, that isn't a very strong motive. Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss.

As far as pernicious influence goes, I'm far more concerned about this line.
>Searching your own memories, you’re drawing a blank on this woman yes, that’s intentional but you’re not certain you can rely on your-
>Wait. What? Oh, you hypocrite…
That some mindwipe? Of fairy's memories? I don't remember what the hypocrite line could be referring to.

>troll Yuuka
That came across well. I can't think of any other reason why she'd poke at Dai like this... I like her. Quite a bit. That she's exhibiting concern for fairy despite being a troll is probably a large part of this.

>The smoke no longer spreads.
Well gee, what person is known for smoke? Could it possibly be Mokou? I'm kinda curious, if this is what that sequence is like now, before you decryptified it... it must have been utterly impenetrable.
It's entirely possible that italics and/or spoilers were responsible for our amnesia in the first place, given how they seem to have been the ones causing us to regain specific memories. Still not sure on how this would have worked, though.

>Well gee, what person is known for smoke? Could it possibly be Mokou?
This seems almost too obvious, now that you've pointed it out, but that definitely furthers the current "spoilers is Mokou" theory. Nice catch.

>I'm kinda curious, if this is what that sequence is like now, before you decryptified it... it must have been utterly impenetrable.
I have no idea what you meant here, though, or if you're being sarcastic or anything. Who's the "you" you're referring to? Yuuka? The writefag?
The writefag.
>I had originally planned to make Yuuka a fair bit more cryptic than this, but after an attempt at that characterization I realized that it made conveying the right amount of information really difficult.

I'm not sure what information was supposed to have been conveyed here. All I got out of Yuuka's speech, other than her warnings, was "something big is going down", "fairy is involved whether she likes it or not", and maybe "the voices started it". I'm sure I'm missing lots.
I suspect that one of them, probably spoilers, is actually Kaguya. The timeless flower certainly narrows it down, given her power over eternity.
Kaguya has power over both eternity and the instantaneous. Using the instantaneous part, she could probably do something like speed growth. So she could be either one. And maybe-Mokou said she hijacked could-be-Kaguya's power, which would be easy since possibly-Kaguya is, by her own admission, fragmented by her opposite's last-ditch attack.

As for why the powers only seem to work on plants and fairies (so far), that's might be thanks to the whole fusing with a fairy thing.
Oh, and hastening memory degradation could cause something like amnesia. Sort of. I'm reaching here.
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Just wanted to see which of you were paying attention, that's all. Or I like scaring you.

Actually you did, as per >>54172's reasoning. Roughly speaking, if I'd edited the choices' text to match they'd be
-[ ] She doesn’t have the right to do this./-[ ] You’re not comfortable with this./[ ] Go along with it, but don’t give her the satisfaction of anything more./-[ ] Harder than she wants; beat her at her own game./-[ ] You’re curious about how this happens.

Thanks for the feedback, that was pretty much my desired audience reaction to Yuuka. Additionally, good catch, and your hint's to look over the previous update's little argument.

All right, so judging by this I kept it at the right level of vagueness. And yes, it was pretty bad previously, but I deleted the previous draft so can't post an example.

But anyway, current status: update's about 2/3 written, but it's being delayed due to the fact that my computer suffered a hard drive failure yesterday.

...Now that I've given the 2-3 of you that care enough to be checking this heart attacks, I'll follow up by saying that, purely from the perspective of this story, this actually isn't a big deal. All of my notes and writing for the story are backed up online (and have been since I started, having previously noticed the "THP curse"), and I've been working from them with no problems to write the update.

From a personal standpoint it's a bit more of a hassle, given that I wasn't quite as scrupulous about backing up most other things on my computer. Dealing with this is a large part of what's been responsible for the delay, but /bloggan.

tl;dr: currently experiencing technical difficulties, update will be done once I've slept and written some more (i.e. within the next 12-ish hours). Have a Yuuka, she cracked my screen in the last picture, maybe she caused this.
...Or tomorrow, sigh. Freaking summer. Why do I even keep making these assurances about time estimates, again?
Because, even though you prepare for the worst, you're still foolishly optimistic in other ways?

>your hint's to look over the previous update's little argument.
Italics asking spoilers where she got her new power? I'm not seeing much there.

>choices determining which personality has the most say
Looking over the past choices, most of them seem too straightforward to be hiding secret personality flags. The only one that definitely looks suspicious is when we were deciding how to fight Juniper.

>[ ] Well, she did attack you first. Fight back.
>-[ ] Take her down hard and fast, she’s just an obstacle to you.
>-[ ] Be more careful in dealing with her, you don’t really want to hurt anyone.
>[ ] Ignore the pain, try to talk her down. You’re both reasonable fairies, you can work something out, right?
>[ ] You have a mansion to raid, you can’t be bothered with this. Try and flee.

The careful one is probably fairy? I can't tell what the others are. It's probably best that we don't freak out and try to always choose the "fairy" option, in any case.

Fairy will never get a name of her very own ;_;
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[x] Kiss her back.
-[x] You’re curious about how this happens.

This feels strange.

…Not necessarily strange in a bad way, though.

Certainly, having a woman you’ve just met grab and kiss you wasn’t something you were expecting to happen, but…

A tingling sensation runs through your body, and a barely-audible gasp comes unbidden from your mouth, swallowed up in Yuuka’s own.

…But it’s not something you’re especially eager to stop, either. On the contrary, this feels surprisingly pleasant, being held by Yuuka in this way, having her tongue’s tip play about the inside of your lips…

And, owing to some base curiosity you hadn’t known you possessed, you want more of it.

Uncertainly, you push your mouth up against Yuuka’s, transforming your lips’ touch from the barest contact to a more mutual caressing. Yuuka makes an approving sound, somewhere deep in her throat, and the noise speeds up your heartbeat, urging you to press your whole body close against her, warm chest squishing under your own.

Your tongue lashes forwards to meet Yuuka’s own, sliding teasingly around it, along its underside. With an appreciative moan, Yuuka forces her tongue fully into your mouth, filling you and sending pleasurable shocks down your spine. You feel an urge to have more of her, arms reaching around to grab her in a tight embrace.

A breathy sigh from Yuuka pushes its way past your lips, and you return it with a muffled gasp as she wraps her tongue around yours, pulling both back into her own mouth. She bites down on your tongue, just hard enough to elicit a muffled yelp from the shock you feel, which morphs into a series of low moans as she nibbles on your tongue, a not-unwanted punishment for her mouth’s intruder.

Not satisfied with that, she begins sucking on your tongue, pulling you further past the rows of her teeth, suction tightening the walls around the part of you inside her and sending overwhelming tingles from your tongue to the rest of your body.

Your hands are tracing out searching circles on Yuuka’s back, intermittently roaming and grasping at her flesh through the thin fabric. One of Yuuka’s own hands, in turn, has slipped down below the small of your back and is playing about the area below. Yuuka’s strong arms are squeezing you tightly against her, exerting enough pressure to cause a growing pain in your chest.

A nagging doubt floats up through your brain; no, wait a second, she’s not holding you too tightly, what’s causing-?

Oh, that’s right. Oxygen. Although a not insubstantial part of your brain cries out that it would be worth it to continue with this until you suffocate, the majority reluctantly asserts that you need to break the kiss.

“Mmh...” You separate with a shuddering gasp, a thin trail of saliva linking your mouths as you draw your tongue back. Panting heavily, you gaze at Yuuka’s flushed, smiling face.

“…Am I to assume my little reward was appreciated, then?” Yuuka purrs.

You nod mutely, granting no voice to the dozen thoughts whirling through your mind, urging you to grab her, pull her close once again, move your hands and hers to explore places markedly more interesting, pull that top off her and make her-

“What was that about not being affectionate to people you weren’t close to, Yuuka?” Dai asks sharply, her voice cutting through your hormonal haze and dragging you back down to reality.

“Oh, but this was just a reward, Daiyousei. Entirely different.” Yuuka says with an ingratiating smile, but Dai remains visibly unimpressed.

“That might make a halfway decent excuse if I hadn’t, you know, been standing here watching and listening the whole time.” Dai deadpans. “And I’m pretty sure that administering an award doesn’t require quite that much tongue.”

Yuuka shakes her head, sighing in defeat. “Haa, I suppose that you do have a point, Daiyousei...although that’s not quite as interesting as learning you like to watch, is it?” Dai splutters, Yuuka regaining her smirk and addressing you.

“I believe I did overstep my bounds with you just then, dear -you’re far too tempting, really, being so very pleasant to hold and touch~…and if so I apologize, though you really didn’t seem to mind.” She grins.

You find your voice again. “I…no, I didn’t. It was…nice.” Well, most of your voice at least, your brain’s still fogged enough that you’re stumbling over your words. You could let us help out, we at least are still in control of our mental faculties.

“But would you have known enough to tell when it stopped being so nice? Not to mention that we’ve known each other for little more than a second, on the scale of my life at least.” Yuuka shrugs. “Even little Daiyousei would be a more suitable choice in those respects, but all things considered…”

Dai chuckles bitterly. “I’m not sure if I hate you too much or not enough to try that, Yuuka. And even if I did want to, a youkai of your age would have to have some survival instinct, right?”

“True enough; it seems all things have been considered by you, hmm?” A mocking overtone adds itself to Yuuka’s smile. “Such a smart fairy, but not smart enough to keep her friends safe…”

“Don’t…don’t count on that,” Dai retorts, but there’s little energy behind her words, and her face has fallen again. “A-anyway, you said we could go, didn’t you? So let’s-“

“Weeell, there is one more thing I’d like to discuss with this girl here, but you can run along now.” Yuuka waves her hand absently in a shooing motion.

Dai’s eyebrows raise. “And if I choose to stay and listen to this discussion?”

“Why, then it won’t happen of course. I do like some things kept private- but those don’t need to include your secrets, if you don’t want to leave us alone like a good girl~.”

“Yuuka, you…” Dai grits her teeth. “Fine, then. I’ll go and wait out of earshot, but I’ll come back in a couple minutes and I don’t want to find you kissing, so keep this brief and restrain yourself.”

“Very well- but you should take your own advice as well, Daiyousei.” Yuuka raises a hand in a little wave, which Dai returns summarily to her and more warmly to you before flying off.

“Rather protective of you, isn’t she?” Yuuka asks rhetorically, grinning. “Of course, having to be concerned about others’ safety isn’t exactly new for Daiyousei.”

“She seemed to think it was justified with you in particular, though.” you note, glancing up at Yuuka, whose grin falters- just for a split second, but that’s long enough to notice. “What’s happened between you two in the past?”

“Ah, now that…would be telling, and exceeding our little time limit to boot.” Yuuka deflects quickly. You raise a questioning eyebrow, but nod, accepting that as Yuuka continues. “I’d suggest you direct any questions about me and Daiyousei to the girl herself, if you think them pressing enough. But in the meantime, I have my own questions about the two of you.”

Seems reasonable enough. “All right, what are those then?”

“Well, my queries themselves are rather simple, although your answers to them may not be. By all appearances, Daiyousei seems to care about you- do you like her, as well?”

“Um…” Do you like me? Star’s words echo in your mind. Yes, thank you, I was remembering that on my own. Just thought you could use the hint… “What do you mean by ‘like’, exactly, because there was this thing earlier-“

“Ah, so you’re not quite as innocent as you appear, if you’re thinking to ask that? Who exposed you to that meaning of the word?” Yuuka eyes you speculatively, before shaking her head. “But I’m getting sidetracked. I meant how do you view her as a friend, assuming you do in the first place?”

“Oh.” That’s an altogether less confusing question, in that case.

You trawl back through your memories of the day’s events- it has been a full one so far, hasn’t it? Day’s still young. Relatively. It’s the mid-afternoon…
You recall Dai lending you her clothes and aiding you in using them, chatting with and helping advise you on Juniper’s issues, coming to your defense in this situation, and sticking up for you and the others in that conversation with Letty.

“Yes, I like her. She’s been kind and helpful to me so far, maybe more so than any of the others I’ve met.” Well, actually most everyone has acted like that towards you, but their behavior had generally been more broken up by fits of violence, sarcasm, or just outright confusing behavior.

“Indeed, I’d think it’s practically second nature to her at this point. An effective enough way to complement Cirno’s own personality, and it’s understandable that you would enjoy her friendship as well. However… Do you trust her?”

“Well, I-“ …Huh, that’s not quite as simple to answer as you’d expected. Dai’s exhibited her fair share of confusing behavior as well, come to think of it, and in markedly more worrying ways than the others. From the first moment you and she met, in fact, and continuing to that almost-breakdown she had, which everyone else saw fit to ignore afterwards. It also disturbed you how aggressively she was acting towards Yuuka just now, in stark contrast to her usual demeanor.

And perhaps most tellingly, there’s the fact that she had to have that conversation with Letty at all.

“…No. I’d like to say that I could, but…I don’t trust her, not entirely at least.” you say slowly.

Yuuka smiles and nods, clapping her hands lightly together. “And that is wise of you to realize. I doubt that any who have come to know the girl, save perhaps for Cirno, trust her fully. Especially not Daiyousei herself, but that’s another complicated subject.”

“…All right.” That’s a more reasonable-sounding response you expected, given the animosity Dai and Yuuka seem to share, but definitely something to think on. “So, is that it then, or…?”

“No, we’re not quite done yet,” Yuuka says, placing a hand on your shoulder. “I noticed that you never introduced yourself to me, which didn’t strike me as especially odd until I realized that Daiyousei also never addressed you by your name. So, if you’ll excuse me for prying…”

“I don’t know what my name is, and so neither do my friends,” you reply, shrugging. “I’ve just been going without a name for the time being.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, is there?

“Well, that certainly won’t do, now will it?” Yuuka’s eyes unfocus slightly, acquiring a far-off gaze. “I think…ah, yes, that should do nicely…that you shall be called Hebe.”

“He…be?” You sound out the word, seemingly comprised simply of the two smaller ones. “Why that?”

“It’s what another old acquaintance of mine was called, back when I lived in a distant land.” Yuuka responds, smiling nostalgically. “And I think it suits you.”

Oh come on, names can’t be given as simply as that, even by ones such as Kazami. “Well, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t think I really need-“

“Hebe,” Yuuka’s gaze hardens. “Do remember my first piece of advice, would you?”

…Yes, that’s a good point. “Hebe it is.” You pause. “…You can’t read my mind, can you? How did you know-”

“That was a guess, dear, if one that I’m not especially surprised to have confirmed.” Yuuka hums disquietedly, a vaguely displeased look on her face, before brightening up. “Oh, well, I’m confident that you’ll be able to overcome it.”

“Now, time is ticking on-“ Yuuka pulls a shining pink pocketwatch out of the air, scrutinizing it for a moment before stowing it into- er- somewhere, and continuing. “So, I believe I’ll take my leave for now.”

“Ah- oh, all right.” That’s a rather sudden turnaround, but not entirely unexpected coming from this woman. “Will I see you again?”

“I did say ‘for now’, didn’t I?” Yuuka giggles. “You can’t be rid of me that easily, and I do expect to see you tomorrow at the vampire’s gathering.”

“You’re going to that?” You frown, remembering. “Meiling didn’t mention you as one of the people that were invited…”

“Yes, I will have to take that up with little miss Scarlet,” Yuuka drawls. “In truth, I hadn’t been planning to attend, but now I have a…feeling that it’s going to be the first stage of the coming event, and I simply couldn’t miss that.

“But I simply must be going, now. Adieu, Hebe~” Yuuka steps away, blowing you a kiss. She raises her parasol above her head, twirling it. A swirling cloud of flower petals rises up around her, and the next moment she’s gone.

“Yuuka, I really need to get back to- oh, she’s gone.” Dai flies up to you, perking up as she sees you’re alone. “Ready to go?”

“Yeah, let’s.” The two of you take off, flying up until you can catch sight of the – wow, you flew a long way from the mansion. “You sound pretty relieved that Yuuka left- and you reacted pretty violently to seeing her, too. Why’s that?”

“Yuuka and I have a bit of a…history.” Dai says grimly. “We don’t get along well, as you might have noticed.”

“What do you consider not getting along well?” you ask. “Like, it seemed like you were both trying to make the other mad, but you also seemed ready to attack each other, but on the other hand that doesn’t usually mean much…”

“Hundred-plus murders or attempted murders, repeated attempts to hurt the other as badly as possible when lethal force seemed impractical, generally being a blight on one another’s lives.” Dai rattles off, grimacing.

“…Oh.” And from how she phrased that, it sounds like Dai wasn’t so much an innocent victim as an active participant. You’re not quite sure what to make of that, even if it does seem worryingly fitting with how she was acting towards Yuuka.

“Yes.” Dai sighs. “I don’t really want to talk about it. But, hey, at least she’s gone now, right?” She smiles at you.

“Well, yeah…” you admit. “But she also said she’d see me tomorrow at the party, so there’s that.” Dai’s smile withers and dies, and she groans.

“Oh, that’s just freaking perfect. Can’t just stay in her gardens like, oh, any other day, has to come to the party too. Wonderful. Why’d she even have to keep you there longer if she was planning to talk again tomorrow She knew I couldn’t afford to stay there for long, she was outright taunting me about it! Argh…”

You stay silent, thinking now probably isn’t the time to mention that you’d been looking forward to seeing Yuuka again. Brilliant deduction there.

“Ugh, and I thought fetching you would just take a minute of being away in the first place…so much for that.” Dai shakes her head.

“Uh, sorry about that.” you say sheepishly. “But you do realize that I didn’t exactly plan to get caught by-”

“Don’t worry, I know it’s not your fault,” Dai mutters. “It’s Yuuka’s. Yuuka’s and mi-” She stops herself.

“…Meiling’s?” You fill in speculatively. Seems like Dai doesn’t want to speak badly of her friend, even if she did hit you really hard. Aaand you’re back to being an idiot. Well, more of an idiot.

“Um…sure, yes. Meiling’s. Anyway…” Dai adds quickly, not to mention a bit awkwardly. “Why did she want that last couple minutes with you, then?”

“Well, she…” You hesitate, unsure of whether mentioning this is a good idea. No, it’s almost certainly a bad idea, but- you have to clear the air about this sometime, don’t you? You’ve seen how unstable this girl is, do you really think it’s wise to do this? Probably not, but you being against the prospect is the little bit of added motivation I needed, so thanks. Wha- that’s ridiculous! What have I actually done so far to make you so distrustful, it’s-

“Yuuka asked me whether I trust you or not,” you say over the frustrated mental voice, watching closely as Dai stiffens up slightly. “…And I said no, I don’t. I like you, Dai, but way too much of your behavior’s been suspicious, and I can’t ignore that.”

A mix of emotions play across Dai’s face as you speak, but as you finish her expression falls into reluctant acceptance. “…Well, I can’t say I blame you. The way I’ve been acting around you all hasn’t exactly screamed forthcoming or trustworthy, has it?” She hesitates, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. “Not to mention- you overheard me and Letty, didn’t you?”

So she did pick up on your hint. “I did, yeah, and that’s why I’m intentionally not bringing this up around her. I don’t want to get even more on her bad side considering what she was advocating for us.”

“Letty was just running through ideas, I don’t think she’d actually hurt any of you.” The doubt visible in Dai’s eyes makes you less than certain about this. “And even if she tried, I wouldn’t let her.”

“I heard you tell her that, and I’m grateful, but…” You sigh. “You’ve still been acting really strangely, Dai, and I want to know what the reason for that is.”

There’s a long moment of tension as Dai considers this, before heaving a weighty sigh. “…And I guess you deserve to know, too. But I can’t tell you now, there’s not enough time for it, and I wouldn’t be able to make things sound remotely trustworthy or understandable. I’ll tell you- have you mentioned this to any of the others?”

“No, but I’m considering it,” you admit.

“Please don’t, then, at least for now,” Dai begs. “The fact that you were willing to come to me about this indicates that you’re trying to be reasonable about it, and I’m not so confident that the others would be. I’ll tell you what you want to know later, but for now can you keep this quiet?”

“…I guess so.” Well, you practically have to say that, but you think you will for now. It’s still possible that you’ll change your mind, though.

“Thank you,” Dai murmurs, a measure of relief showing itself on her strained face.

The two of you fly in silence for a few moments; you think it’s a more peaceable silence this time, though, your worries having been somewhat alleviated.

“…Oh,” you say, an afterthought striking you. “Yuuka decided to give me a name, too.” Dai looks at you in surprise.

“She gave you a name? Huh, that’s…weird.” Dai chews her lip. “What was it?”

“Hebe. She said it suits me, for whatever reason. Sound familiar at all?” you ask.

“Can’t say it does, no; that’s probably something which makes sense to Yuuka and her alone. Sounds nice enough, at least, if a little outlandish.” Dai remarks.

“Why’s it weird that she named me?” you say.

“Well, it seems…right. Fitting. All fairies are born knowing their names, so the fact that you didn’t kind of made you an anomaly. And she fixed that…what would she have to gain from doing that?” Dai wonders aloud.

“…So, basically you’re saying it’s unbelievably strange for Yuuka to do something right or helpful,” you say flatly, raising an eyebrow. Dai sighs, nodding.

“That probably sounds strange, and I admit that I might be more than a little biased, but yes, as a matter of fact it is. Yuuka’s more likely to help someone off a cliff than give them a helping hand, if she thinks it’d be funny at least.” A mischievous smile worms itself onto Dai’s face. “Sorry if I’ve been ruining any fantasies about your crush.”

“Wha- she’s not my crush!” you protest, feeling your face heat up.

“Oh come on, you were really blatantly into that kiss; heavy breathing, sensual moans, deep blushing, the works.” Dai teases, the hint of a blush showing on her own face as well. “I feel sorry for poor Star, having you stolen away by Yuuka Kazami of all people, though not as sorry as I feel for you…”

“I was really into the kiss because she was really good at kissing,” you defend yourself. “…From what I could tell, at least, not like I have anything to compare it with. And even if I’m sort of thinking of her as a friend, Yuuka does still creep me out too much for anything like…that. As for Star…” You trail off, suddenly uncertain. Dai gives you a regretful glance.

“Mentioning Star was out of line, sorry. And I wasn’t serious about the crush accusation. Not entirely, anyway. Still,” Dai muses, “first Star, now you…very odd for fairies to grow enough to be interested in this kind of thing.”

“Um, yeah. Odd. Anyway, I don’t actually get why the name thing counts as helping me out,” you say, shifting away from uncomfortable subjects. “What’s so special about a name?”

“It’s…kind of hard to explain, really, and maybe it’s not quite as big a deal as I’m making it.” Dai hestitates, before nodding firmly and pressing ahead. “But a fairy’s name –anyone’s name, really- is a large part of forming their identity. Gives us something to define ourselves by, distinguish ourselves from everyone else – or provide a link making us similar, depending. Cirno’s the one who named me Daiyousei, in case you’d wondered; I had another name beforehand, but it meant little compared to the one she gave me.”

“So…by naming me, do you think Yuuka’s trying to establish the same kind of relationship you and Cirno have?” you ask, half-jokingly.

Dai shudders visibly. “Gods, I hope not.” A voice, indistinct from the distance, sounds out, and Dai perks up as you catch sight of a growing blue dot heading towards you.

“And, speak of the little devil,” you drawl.

“Huh, what?” Dai looks at you, eyebrows raised, before she shakes her head, tapping herself on the forehead. “Right, Cirno, I thought you were talking about someone else we know.” She frowns. “How’d you know that expression, anyw-uff!”

You duck to the side, as for the second time that day Cirno greets Dai via a high-speed ramming, grabbing her in a hug. Guess it’s how she meets this place’s standard of meeting people with violence.

“There ya are! I was really starting to wonder where you’d gone once I beat Meiling and you still weren’t back, like maybe that you’d gotten in a duel with some youkai that found and ate her-”

“Well, that practically happened, in a manner of speaking…” Dai mutters as an aside to you.

“Or maybe you’d run into Reimu when she was in Incident Mode and gotten shot down from that, or maybe you’d just run into Rumia or Mysty or Wriggle or Letty or someone and gotten sidetracked from-” Cirno’s laying out of her ideas is interrupted by a series of violent, hacking coughs, the force of which breaks her grip on Dai’s stomach and doubles Cirno over.

“Cirno? Cirno?” Dai backs away a few feet, staring anxiously at Cirno’s bent and coughing form.

A pale blue glow, just for an instant, suffuses Cirno’s body and the next moment she’s upright and smiling again. “I’m good- so yeah, I was coming up with hyposythis-es like that, but now you’re back so I guess that proves about half of them wrong, but that’s okay.”

Light flashes in your eyes. Abruptly, the cold feeling filling your body –which you hadn’t been actively noticing, oddly enough- drains away, only to be immediately replaced with a slightly less familiar chill. That’d be Cirno’s, I guess-

Your mental ruminations are interrupted by a-sigh? Ahh… There we go, it’s about time.
What’s wrong with you?
You hadn’t noticed? Well, I guess that speaks well about how successful I’ve been, then, but…
Noticed what?
The green-haired one. Since she showed up, she’s been constantly barraging us with some kind of weak energy attack. Wasn’t hard to defend against to start with, but concentrating for a while takes its toll, not to mention that I think it started getting stronger.

…Attack? You stare at Dai, now contentedly listening to Cirno about the final outcome of her fight. She was attacking you? You don’t think you want to believe that she’d go that far, but your suspicions about her are hitting uncomfortably close to home right about now…

Why that treacherous little bitch.
Again, well done with the hypocrisy, but yes. It’s stopped now, though, I guess she didn’t want to catch her friend in it or have her notice. Something like that. Now, what’s this about a name?

The voices quiet down- or something akin to it, given that they’re not actually producing sound, but the end result is a quiet buzzing in the back of your mind. Mildly annoying, but minor enough that you turn your focus to the end of Cirno’s story.

“…so once I‘d managed to freeze her legs to the ground, she wasn’t any match for my finishing move, and I finally managed to take her down!“ Cirno grins proudly, but her smile sags as a realization seems to strike.

“…And I guess she’s still stuck to the ground, actually. I should prob’ly fix that, hang on-“ Cirno snaps her fingers, and a scream echoes over from the gate. Cirno winces. “Crap, forgot about the shards. I really need to work on that part. Uh, but she’ll heal fast enough, right?”

“Well, yes, but you still might want to go-“ Dai starts.

“Apologize? Yeah, yeah, I will, hang on.“ Cirno about-faces quickly, zooming back towards the gate. Augh, not again.

Watching her go, Dai smiles. “…Well, at least she’s learning. Come on, we should let Meiling know that she didn’t accidentally tenderize you before we head in.” She accelerates forward to follow Cirno, and you do the same.

The two of you drop down to the gate, to find Meiling rubbing her legs while Cirno flutters overhead. …Huh.

“…no, really Cirno it’s all right, I know it was an accident. Hmm?” Meiling looks up as you and Dai fall into place besides Cirno. “Oh good, you found her then Daiyousei? I’m really sorry about that…” she addresses you, one hand going to the back of her head. “I was trying to take things a bit more seriously, but I should have known better than to use that spell on you. I suppose I was getting a bit caught up in the heat of battle, but that’s no excuse for a martial artist of my experience.”

“…Well, it still hurt a lot, but I guess I forgive you,” you say, perhaps a bit grudgingly. “I did make the decision to join in the match after all, shouldn’t get too upset if it didn’t go the way I wanted.”

Meiling looks relieved. “Thank you for being so gracious. I’d offer you some tea inside to make it up to you, but I’m still on duty, not to mention that I’d have some trouble moving right now…” Cirno squirms guiltily beside you.

“That’s nice of you, Meiling, but we should really go meet Sakuya already,” Dai says, glancing at you and Cirno.

You nod in agreement. “Where can we find her?”

“Oh, you can just head on in and you should find her,” Meiling says. “There’s a ward Miss Patchouli set on the front door, set to alert her when it opens, so Miss Sakuya will be along any moment.”

“Great, thanks Meiling. We’ll stop by and see ya later.” Cirno says, and the three of you fly off over the gate. You pass through a large courtyard, skimming over an impressive-looking garden ah, I haven’t seen some of these in ages but ignoring it, quickly reaching the mansion’s front door. Cirno pulls the large double doors open effortlessly, and you file inside.

“So, where’s this ‘Miss Sakuya’, then?” you wonder aloud, scanning the empty entrance hall.

The breath catches in your throat as unexpectedly, a young silver-haired woman is there in front of you. She’s quite pretty, dressed in a dark blue maid’s outfit that shows off her figure wait, since when are you noticing things like that?, but detracting from this somewhat is the fact that she is idly twirling a steel-gray knife in one hand while she surveys you.

“Did you fight your way past Meiling again? Really, that girl has to learn to stop going easy on pests…”

She shakes her head, silver locks swinging back and forth. “I’d really rather not have to deal with intruders right now, but I shall if it’s necessary.” She brandishes the knife at the three of you. “If you have any business here, state it, if not leave or prepare to be thrown out.”

How do you introduce yourself?
[ ] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”
[ ] “Heard you could use some extra hands? I’m Hebe, Cirno and Dai are my friends.”
[ ] “I was bored, so my friends suggested that I get a job here and brought me along.”
[ ] (Write-in)

And, assuming that this goes as expected:
[ ] Plan to go off and find your other friends, then you can see about doing work.
[ ] Plan to go off and find the others, unless the job she assigns you seems really important.
[ ] Plan to get the job done first, then you can catch up to the others.
[ ] (Write-in)
Hit the character limit, woo.

Writing kiss scenes is really goddamn hard due to being limited in how much can realistically happen in one kiss, and I apologize if this one was unbearable to read. It was for me, at least.

Second choice thrown in because I didn’t want the next update to be really short just to fit it.

>Because, even though you prepare for the worst, you're still foolishly optimistic in other ways?
Yep, that sounds about right. I’m cynical enough to avoid disappointment in everything except my own laziness. Some good thoughts in the rest of your post too.

>Fairy will never get a name of her very own ;_;
Yeah, that made me feel even worse about delaying the update. Ah well, making me feel guilty about slowness is decent enough motivation.

Question for anyone: does the fact that I’m producing walls for updates (by most current stories’ standards, at least) do anything at all to make up for the delays? I'll be going back to (relatively) shorter ones after this to at least try and increase my updating speed, but I'm interested in knowing what you all think.
[ ] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”

[ ] Plan to go off and find the others, unless the job she assigns you seems really important.

Interesting name Yuuka gave us, but it sort of makes sense.

I'm fine with you making up for delays with more content.
[ ] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”
[ ] Plan to go off and find the others, unless the job she assigns you seems really important.
[ ] Plan to get the job done first, then you can catch up to the others.


I'm fine with either. Though long updates usually start needing more and more time, until they simply stop.
Walls definitely make up for relatively slow update speed. I don't mind either way, and you should feel guilty about the broken promises, not the speed, which is fine.
>Dai likes to watch
Yesss. I liked the scene as well, even if you found it a pain to write.
One google later... goddess of youth, huh? She's also associated with forgiveness and pardons.. sounds like someone Yuuka would get along with; she has done an awful lot of things that need pardoning. I'm going to pretend Yuuka is somehow responsible for Hebe getting a flower named after her, cause that's neat. Feels good to finally have a proper name to toss around.
Heh. Unintentional association, I'm sure.
>Mokou and Kaguya not having a monopoly on murder-feuds
>Wha- that’s ridiculous! What have I actually done so far to make you so distrustful, it’s-
Hebe wouldn't remember what she's done, would she? Italics wouldn't let us. ~paranoia~
>“I was really into the kiss because she was really good at kissing,”, Incident Mode
>spoilers being absent
I was wondering why she was so quiet. She's too busy fending off Dai to speak.
>wait, since when are you noticing things like that?
I think italics is leaking. Hebe shouldn't be noticing that sort of thing after one kiss.

[x] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said we should find you to get a job here. Cirno and Dai are my friends.”
[x] Plan to go off and find your other friends, then you can see about doing work.

I like the Meiling namedropping, but it seems too dismissive of Cirno and Dai for my tastes. They need jobs too. And we need to make sure the others do work too, or they'll be caught in short order.
[X] “I was bored, so my friends suggested that I get a job here and brought me along.”
[x] Plan to go off and find your other friends, then you can see about doing work.

I was against kissing Yuuka, and I'm against using the name she gave us.
[x] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”
[x] Plan to get the job done first, then you can catch up to the others.
She already knows we know Cirno, if she finds out we know the Three Fairies as well she'll probably get suspicious.
I don't care just write more
I mean, uh
Either's great but smaller updates are probably easier to plan, while larger ones allow better flow (and fewer choices for us to mess up).
[x] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”
[x] Plan to go off and find the others, unless the job she assigns you seems really important.
I think Dai wasn't trying to attack us but rather it's the result of her power without Cirno to keep it in check.
Why, to both? I can understand being against the kissing, but what's wrong with using the name?

That seems pretty clear from Mokou's spoilers' reactions afterwards, yes. I really doubt that Dai would actually want to attack us, she wouldn't have enough motivation to do so. Hopefully.

I don't think you can vote for two of the "plan" options.
[x] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said we should find you to get a job here. Cirno and Dai are my friends.”
[x] Plan to go off and find your other friends, then you can see about doing work.

I'm not sure if I like all this exposition so quickly; we're still in thread 2.
Calling for:

[x] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”
[x] Plan to go off and find your other friends, then you can see about doing work.

Technically there might be a tie for the second choice, but since I can't tell what >>54233 intended, I can't count the latter part of their vote. Sorry. Additionally, the write-in will be taken into account.

So at least the speed/content ratio seems well-liked enough, that's good.

That does seem unfortunately likely, based on how long updates have been working for me.

>you should feel guilty about the broken promises, not the speed, which is fine.
They're interrelated, but yes, I feel guilty about the false hopes and broken promises. I think I'm just going to outright stop making promises about timing for the forseeable future, it never works.

Glad to see all the ways you liked the update, too. I might actually make that flower-naming thing canon. Several good insights, as well.
Well, given Yuuka's tastes Yes, that was unintentional. The other associations, however...

>I don't care just write more
Seems to be the prevailing sentiment. Yessir.

It is a bit infodump-y, isn't it? That's the majority of the exposition for the near future, though. I'd initially planned to introduce Yuuka later on and have her exposit then, but that ended up changing.

Oh, and don't worry, despite all the exposition so far there's still many, many things that you don't know.
Any news on the update?
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[x] “I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here. They’re with me.”
[x] Plan to go off and find your other friends, then you can see about doing work.

The head maid’s expression indicates to you that she’s going to be very no-nonsense about this issue, whether due to stress, prior experience, or just her intrinsic personality. Whatever the case, you suppose you’re the one who should appease Sakuya. Seems a better idea than leaving it to those two, yes.

You step forward, pushing past Cirno and quickly forestalling her attempts to speak. “Hello, miss Sakuya. I’m Hebe, and Meiling said I should find you to get a job here.” You glance back towards Cirno and Dai, the latter of which is shushing the mildly annoyed-looking former. “Um, they’re with me.”

“They’re with you? She’s with you?” Sakuya asks, raising one elegant eyebrow and nodding towards Cirno. The ice fairy looks distinctly more rankled now, actually: you suppose that comment of yours might have come off as a bit dismissive. Plus, you suppose the implication of Cirno being submissive to you like that would seem rather odd.

“Yes, Cirno and Dai are my friends. They had the idea of coming here in the first place, and suggested it to me.” You pause, noting that Sakuya looks a bit mollified, lowering the knife a fraction. “So, was Meiling right to direct us to you, or-”

The words catch in your throat, as it’s suddenly apparent that you’re speaking to an empty hallway. Your head swivels around quickly, but you can’t find any sign that she was there at all. Although, turning back towards Dai and Cirno, you can see that they don’t look concerned at all. “Where’d she go? Do either of you-”

“Very well, your story checks out,” Sakuya’s voice comes lazily from behind you, and you spin around with a yelp. How’d she do that? The faint smile on her face quickly wipes itself off yep, she’s messing with you, replaced with a neutral, businesslike expression. “Maybe you have managed to keep Cirno in line then, miss Hebe. Meiling confirmed that she’d given you permission to enter, after she’d convinced you to lend us your aid. Do any of you know how she got that limp, though?”

“N-no.” Cirno blurts out, a bit too quickly. Sakuya shoots her a withering look, but one that only lasts a moment before she shrugs.

“Well, it’s not really my business how Meiling spends her time while on duty. I suppose I could order her to stop her little training sessions, but she does seem to enjoy herself with you, and she did manage to stop Marisa from entering at least once even while preoccupied so.”

“Oh, yeah, that was fun.” Cirno says. “Marisa’d put some kind of spell on her broom to supercharge its speed, so it was a lot harder for us to chase her down, but we still managed.”

“Ah, you helped out with that?” Sakuya says, looking a bit taken aback. “I’d assumed that she just had to deal with two opponents at once.”

“Yeah, I don’t really have anything against Marisa, but Meiling asked me to lend a hand.” Cirno falls silent, thinking. “…And I think that was the day after she’d Sparked me from behind on her way to the caves, so there’s that.”

Sakuya nods. “Well, I suppose I can thank her for making you less of a nuisance, both then and now. I’ll have to remember that next time I’m assigning raises…But, regardless.” Sakuya flickers in and out of view, pulling three blue-and-white dresses from behind her back. She tosses one to each of you, and you fumble the catch for yours, quickly grabbing it up off the ground. Klutz. Shut up!

“For the moment, the only job I can think of which I couldn’t do far more efficiently myself is the dishes- running water’s so inconvenient- and there’s quite a lot of those to do before dinner, considering how many mouths we have to feed.” She pauses, absently tapping her chin with the flat of her knife. “…Even if you fairies don’t technically need to be fed, or eat at all, but that’s moot considering we do it anyway. Do you remember where the kitchen is?”

“Down the left hallway from here, two turns right then another left, bordering the dining hall,” Dai recites quickly.

Sakuya blinks, then nods approvingly. “Right, then, so you can change in the bathroom down this hall, and I’ll leave that job to the three of you. Hebe, Cirno, and- er…”


“Yes, that was it; I’m sorry, that was unprofessional of me. Now, I have a thousand and one things to do before tomorrow’s event, so farewell-” And she’s gone again, last words echoing in the hall.

“…That’s going to be hard to get used to,” you mutter.

“It’s what everyone goes through when they first talk to Sakuya,” Dai says reassuringly. “Her time manipulation’s something you learn to deal with pretty quickly when working here, don’t worry.”

“Speaking of first talking to Sakuya…I coulda done that too, you know,” Cirno grumbles.

“Well, she didn’t seem to like you much,” you defend yourself. “And you did say earlier that she’d probably be suspicious of you coming to work here, right?”

“Well yeah, I guess, but…meh.” Cirno crosses her arms. “I just don’t think I like you acting like you’re in charge, and even Sakuya assuming it. What, does suddenly remembering your name make you the boss of us?”

“If it helps us reach our goals, what’s wrong with me being in charge?” you ask, a bit annoyed. “Look, just because you want to be the alpha fairy, doesn’t mean you’re the best for the role.”

“Who says you’re any better, then?” Cirno counters. “You barely know anything or anyone, that doesn’t exactly make you a great-”

“Guys, this arguing isn’t getting us anywhere.” Dai asserts with a frown, quieting you both. “We’re inside, we’ve gotten our alibi for being here, and we haven’t made anyone suspicious. Right?”

You nod, albeit a bit reluctantly, and Cirno does the same.

“Right, so let’s just keep going, get done what we had planned, and avoid fighting with each other.” Dai continues. “Okay?”

“…All right.” you mutter.
“Fine,” Cirno says, though not without sticking her tongue out at you as Dai turns away.

“Okay, so let’s change into these,” Dai says, giving her maid dress a shake. “If we’re going to be fitting in here, we need to look the part.” She hovers down the hallway towards the door Sakuya indicated, you and Cirno following.

The door swings open, and the three of you enter a large, nearly overwhelmingly white room. Dai drops her new outfit on the edge of a lustrous bowl-shaped structure, swiftly reaching around her back to undo her dress’s buttons.

Following her lead, you copy Dai’s movements, or at least attempt to before running into some difficulties. Your fingers slip over the brass circles on your back, and you grimace.

“Ya need some help, there?” a snickering Cirno asks, having already slipped out of her own dress.

You fumble at the buttons for a few more seconds before admitting defeat. “Fine, yes. Can you help me out, then?”

“Eh, I guess.” Cirno steps over to you, pushing your hands out of the way. You feel no chill this time Ha! Got it!, nor any particular sensation barring a light flow of air over your exposed back.

“There we go.” Cirno’s hands leave your back, and she steps away from you. “I really don’t get how you can’t handle things this simple, though.”

“Um. Yeah.” you mutter, paying little attention to Cirno’s words. Your eyes are drawn to the sight of Dai disrobing in front of you, stepping out of her dress and exposing her pale skin and sizable curves to your gaze. Her undergarments are made of a thin-looking green material, practically translucent and teasingly revealing, and as she bends over to pick up the replacement apparel your hand begins reaching out toOkay, seriously. Stop that.

You pause, dropping your hand to your side. I- um, oops. Too blatant?...
No, not you, I meant her. …But you should definitely stop too, yes.
I, er, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

The inclination to stare is gone, suddenly, and you reorient yourself with a shake of the head, followed by shrugging your dress up and over it. This successfully results in blocking your line of sight to anyone’s unclothed bodies. You breathe a small sigh of disappointment, though you’re unsure if it’s really yours.

Don’t play innocent, you were making her look, practically leer at that girl, and the other too. And I can feel those urges you’ve been pushing her to, as well…

“Uh….so, I’ve been thinking,” you say, clearing your throat. The voices have quieted again as they stopped addressing you, and you think conversation should be an effective distraction from a moment ago’s thoughts. “It seems to me like we should locate the others before we start getting caught up in work.”

Given how much you yourself have been influencing her lately, I have to do something to get my own back.

“I’d be fine with that,” Cirno quickly agrees, surprising you. “Putting off anything as boring as dishes sounds good to me, hopefully once we find them we can make ‘em help us out.”

“That should be possible, yeah,” you affirm while reaching for your new outfit, frowning as a thought strikes you. “Um, even if it’s boring, this isn’t an especially important job we have, is it?”

And besides, it will help her in the long run, even you should know that.

“Not technically, no, but it still doesn’t seem something we should ignore,” Dai says, pulling her dress up. “Sakuya implied that it would at least be a chore to do them herself, and I’d really rather not start things off here by getting on her bad side.”

The “long run” doesn’t apply to her, she’s a fairy! They don’t develop past this point!

“Eh, Sakuya can suck on her knives for all I care,” Cirno mutters. “It’s not like we have any reason to be afraid of getting on her bad side- what’s the worst she could do?”

“Well, she can manipulate the mansion’s space and time, so theoretically she could drop you in the basement with the vampire’s sister.” Dai says flatly.

Oh? Then explain the changes in that friend of hers.

Cirno flinches at that. “…Okay, technically that’s a reason to be afraid of the sister, which everyone is so it doesn’t count. But fine, I guess we should avoid anything happening like last time.”

“Mhm. More realistically, though, she could easily decide to kick us out of the mansion if we’re not doing our jobs well.” Dai pauses, eyes flicking back and forth as she contemplates that. “…might…possibilities…” she mumbles, mostly inaudible.

“Sakuya could easily do that to them too, though. They don’t even have an alibi for what they’re supposed to be doing.” you argue. “And they’re already probably searching for the artifact on their own, which…seems like it could lead to some screw-ups, honestly.”

How should I be able to- ohhh.

“Well, not necessarily, they might-“ Dai says half-heartedly, before grimacing and nodding. “Yes, I guess those four together right now are a disaster waiting to happen. Let’s find them.”

…I admit, that’s a rather clever way to take advantage of our situation. Still, when all’s said and done, there will have been little point. Not to mention…two can play at that game.

“Plan of action check, disguises check.” Cirno says, looking around to you and Dai. “And they don’t look half bad, too. Fit well, very snug.”

“Yes, they are.” Dai says, smoothing down the outer white layer of her dress. “…Surprisingly so, actually. Did Sakuya get our measurements?”

You take a moment to properly take in your new appearances. While your previous clothes consisted of primarily blue cloth and white trim, the maid outfits are the reverse, with three frilly white headdresses adding to the ensemble. Cirno and Dai keep their ribbons, adding splashes of color to personalize their outfits. You don’t have anything like that to distinguish yourself, though.

“Where are we going to put these, though?” you say, gesturing to the three discarded dresses. “Can we just leave them here on the floor, or-“

“Got it covered.” Dai grabs the clothes, opening a small pair of wooden doors in a box-like structure on the wall, and tosses them in. “We can retrieve our normal clothes from here when we’re ready to leave tomorrow. I think we’re ready to go look for them now, though.”

“Okay, sounds good.” You step out the door, moving a few feet into the hallway, then stop.

“…Of course, that would be easier if I had any idea where they were.” you mutter, slapping a hand to your forehead. “I don’t suppose either of you…?”

“No, they didn’t mention anything to us either.” Cirno says as she steps out the door behind you. “…Maybe this isn’t such a great idea.”

“Oh, but how hard can it be, really, to find four potentially invisible and inaudible fairies, in an enormous multi-floored building, with all of us constantly on the move?” Dai remarks, rolling her eyes, before letting out a sigh. “But we should at least make an attempt to find them before they do anything stupid. “

“Okay, but how? Especially assuming they’ve been hiding themselves, we have no- what are you doing?” you ask Cirno, noticing that she’s been muttering under her breath, alternating points down the left and right of the hallway.

“…if he hollers, eat his toe, eeny meeny miny moe- wha? Oh, it’s a rhyme Rumia taught me for situations like this. So, left it is!” Cirno launches off down the hall.

“Eat whose what? Hey! Cirno!” you call after the ice fairy, you and Dai flying to catch up. With her lack of response, you shake your head, turning to the rather stressed-looking girl by your side. “How did she even decide this?”

“More or less randomly, the rhyme’s result is determined by which way she pointed first. Yes, I know,” Dai smirks at the chagrined expression you’re certain has formed, “but it’s not like we really have any better options at this point, do we?”

“I guess not…” you admit grudgingly, continuing in Cirno’s wake and passing down the hallway with no sign of your friends, only a couple of unfamiliar maids quickly passed by.

You fly forward to the hall’s end, where Cirno turns another seemingly arbitrary direction into another hallway branch, repeating the process again.

And again.

And again.

“You know, just because we have a lack of better options doesn’t mean that this is a good one,” you pant to Dai. Your wings are starting to ache, you can only assume from the high-speed flying.

“Did I ever say it was?” she responds wryly. Oh come on, how is she not even breathing hard? “By all means, let’s mention that to Cirno, it should have dawned on her by this point.”

With another burst of speed, you bridge the few feet gap between yourselves and Cirno, grabbing her by the arm and slowing yourself down. A chill flows from your shoulder to hand, and Cirno screeches to a halt.

“Cirno, this really isn’t working.” you say, letting her go and dropping to the floor to rest your wings and lungs.

“I agree with Hebe, sorry.” Dai says. “While we’re covering ground quickly, it’s not actually all that much given the sheer size of this place. We could be at this for hours.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Cirno nods, frowning. “Any better ideas?”

“Why not -haa- ask someone if they’ve seen or talked to the others?” you suggest.

“Mightn’t that make us seem suspicious? Well, no, I suppose there’s plenty of legitimate reasons we could be looking for some other maids.” Dai allows.

“Do you wanna just pick some random girl or what?” Cirno asks.

“Random choice’s steering us so well thus far, why move away from that?” you mutter sardonically, looking around.

You seem to have stopped at what amounts to a hallway crossroads, and observe three strangers who you might ask for aid. Straight ahead, there’s the only maid you’ve seen thus far to be wearing a unique hat, a white one with red stitching and a matching bow. Dai is looking at her oddly, wearing a somewhat surprised but not displeased expression.

To your left, there’s a frowning maid with deep red hair flitting down the hallway towards you, opening the doors of each room she passes and looking inside before closing them with a huff.

On your right, there’s a young woman walking away from you with nearly identical hair, albeit much different in all other respects- she has two pairs of bat wings (what?) on her head and shoulders, is wearing a black and white short dress, and looks a great deal more physically mature.

You could conceivably ask any of these girls to try and help you locate your friends, but which to choose?
[ ] Try talking to:
-[ ] The blonde girl with the hat- Dai seems to recognize her, at least.
-[ ] The redhead who seems to be searching for someone herself: coincidences happen, right?
-[ ] The redheaded non-fairy, with the bat wings on her head and shoulders. You guess she’s a resident here, she might know more than just the workers.
[ ] No, you don’t like the looks of any of them, just keep going with your current method- blind luck has to pay off eventually, right?
[ ] (Write-in.)
Going to call this one a bit faster than normal, FYI.
Unreasonably long comment time.

>Cirno taking offense
At least it'll be easy to make it up to her. Hopefully. Her grudges are the stuff games are made of.
>italics leaking
I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate this. But it's Bad and Wrong and she should stop. I'm kinda curious how spoilers has been leaking. She seems to like disregarding friends, or maybe being assertive/leading, I guess? That would fit a loner-type. Such as Mokou.

I'm not happy that they're influencing fairy, but I like their results. Guess I should suck it up and embrace the corruption.
>How should I be able to- ohhh.
Voices making connections we can't is getting old. Is she implying that Dai also has or had a head-voice? It must be has, since her power strengthening. Dai's hypothetical headvoice seems like a pretty cool chap, all into making her all sensible and cool.
>“Oh, but how hard can it be, really, to find four potentially invisible and inaudible fairies
What. Did anyone think this plan through? I sure didn't.

[x] Try talking to:
-[x] The redhead who seems to be searching for someone herself: coincidences happen, right?

Hi Lily, hi Koa. I don't really care what we pick here.
[x] Try talking to:
-[x] The redheaded non-fairy, with the bat wings on her head and shoulders. You guess she’s a resident here, she might know more than just the workers.
Because I just HAVE to see how you write her.
[x] Try talking to:
-[x] The redheaded non-fairy, with the bat wings on her head and shoulders. You guess she’s a resident here, she might know more than just the workers.
Because I just HAVE to see how you write her.
Why am I suddenly getting the feeling italics is Koishi? And why does it seem amazingly silly that I'm getting that feeling?

[x] Try talking to:
-[x] The redheaded non-fairy, with the bat wings on her head and shoulders. You guess she’s a resident here, she might know more than just the workers.

Nothing can go wrong here!
[X] Try talking to:
-[X] The blonde girl with the hat- Dai seems to recognize her, at least.

Tide, pissing, etc. Hear me out.
While I would want to talk to Koa as well, we're most likely to be able to find her on her own later, since she canonically(ish) works in the library.

Plus, Lily seems more like a potential party member. And not only does Dai apparently know her, but Yuuka mentioned knowing her too.

You picked the one that seems to be neither Koa nor Lily, but whatever.

Dai having a headvoice is a pretty intriguing idea, no lie. I was probably interpreting that line the wrong way, then, because I assumed it meant Star as the one who'd changed (see also: Dai and Luna's comments about her).
-[x] The blonde girl with the hat- Dai seems to recognize her, at least.
[X] Try talking to:
-[X] The blonde girl with the hat- Dai seems to recognize her, at least.

Someone our group already seems to have a connection with seems the wiser choice.
[ ] Try talking to:
-[ ] The blonde girl with the hat- Dai seems to recognize her, at least.
I'm liking italics even more now.

[x] Talk to the blonde girl.
Vote called for talking with the spring fairy. Sorry, Koa fans, but you'll still have the option to interact with her later (>>54266 was right in this regard). The other girl too, but nobody actually cares about her, right?

Nothing unreasonably long about this.
>Voices making connections we can't is getting old.
Sorry, but you should be getting more enlightened relatively soon. Well, depending on choices.
>What. Did anyone think this plan through?
Something to keep in mind (which I think I've touched on, but maybe not too explicitly): generally speaking, a fairy using their powers tires them out, with longer periods of use meaning more fatigue. Staying permanently undetectable wouldn't be viable.

You still will, see above. >>54262, it's generally good practice to avoid copy/pasting people's comments and just do so with their votes.

I think someone theorized this in the last thread.

You'll see.
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[x] Try talking to:
-[x] The blonde girl with the hat- Dai seems to recognize her, at least.

After a moment of thought, you elect to talk with the blonde, headgear-equipped fairy. Going by Dai's apparent recognition of her, you're likely to have some common ground and thus a greater reason to be helped out.

"How about her?" you suggest, pointing forwards to your choice.

"Sure, we might be able to catch up with her for a minute too..." Dai muses, before raising her voice. "Hey, Lily!"

"Eh?" The girl swivels around to face you, confused expression quickly changing into one of delight. "Ahaha, Dai! Cirno!" She dashes towards the three of you, pouncing on Dai and nuzzling a cheek against her.

"Geez, I haven't seen you guys in forever! It's been, what, coming up on three-quarters of a year now?" This 'Lily' speaks very rapidly, you note as she pauses with a quick shrug, shifting her arms' position around Dai. "Well, however long it's been is too long, that's what I say! Missed you~" She gives Dai a quick peck on the cheek.

Dai froze up somewhere during that it was when the girl first hugged her, and her eyes are flickering from side to side, giving her a distinctly trapped expression. "Um, Lily, it's great to see you too, but you kind of-"

"Right! Rightrightright. Sorry, Dai, just got caught up in the moment a bit, you know how it is." Lily winks, breaking away from the hug and setting her eyes on another target. You get the impression, albeit only momentarily, that the bright smile she's wearing is hiding something else a flash of pain? but then she leaps forward again and the sensation's passed.

"Cirno!..." Lily fails to connect this time, as the girl in question neatly sidesteps the attempted tackling, looking a bit uncomfortable. She speaks as Lily whirls to face her, eyes full of shock. “Er, hi Lily. Been a while, hasn’t it?...” There’s a hesitance in Cirno’s voice you can’t recall hearing before.

"Aww, c'mon Cirno! Don't be shy!" Lily huffs, pouting. "What, is the big ice fairy too cool to hug her friend Lily? Is that how it is?"

“What? No, no, Lily, I don’t think that-” Cirno starts, only to be interrupted by a gasp from Lily, eyes widening.

"Nooo, I get it, I know what’s going on here. Letty's been telling you bad things about me again, hasn't she?" Cirno fidgets under Lily’s determined gaze, previously wide eyes now focused on Cirno. “Haaasn’t she? Come on, come on, out with it!”

“Fine, yeah, maybe she has some.” Cirno admits with a wince. "I can't really help it, y'know? We see each other a lot during the winter, and she takes pretty much any possible opportunity to say something negative, whenever you come up in conversation. Or spring does. Or, well, sometimes even without any lead-in."

"Ah, geez..." Lily droops, rubbing her head. "For all that she's willing to act 'mature' or 'adultlike',” -you note the scorn Lily places on these words- “Letty still can't grow up enough to get over...bleah." She looks at Cirno almost pleadingly.

"But the things she says about me don't seem accurate, do they? I mean, I can only guess at what they are, and I know you'd generally want to believe the things she tells you, but..."

"Well, no, the worse stuff doesn't seem to fit. Not usually, anyway." Cirno admits, looking unsure.

"Okay, good!" Lily's smile quickly returns. "So you don't need to pay attention to that, not right now at least, and we can still hang out and have fun without anyone getting offended over it. Okay?"

"...Yeah, sure. Okay." Cirno acknowledges, stepping forward to tentatively grab Lily in a hug, relaxing as the gesture is returned. "It is good to see you again, Lil."

"But, y'know, sometime you're going to need to tell us just what happened between you and her-" Cirno's voice is drowned out by a shout from Lily as she turns towards you- an impressive feat, to say the least.

"You!" Lily’s index finger stabs in your direction almost accusatorially, and you jump. “Um, yes?” you say, more than a bit warily.

“You look like you’re friends with Cirno and Dai. Is that right?” she inquires, still holding an oddly serious expression.

What does she mean, ‘look like’…you guess she’s assuming from your being by their side. Not unreasonable. “Yeah, we’re friends. Why do-”

“Good! Good.” She nods, smile blossoming back onto her face. “Then that means we’re friends too. Lily White, at your service!” She draws her hand back beside her face, flicking fingers up into a V-sign as she beams.

“…” You feel a silly little grin crawling onto your own face. This girl’s vitality may be a bit odd, but it’s also apparently infectious. “Friends it is. My name’s Hebe, good to meet you.”

"And a pleasure to meet you too, I'm sure!" Lily trills. She tilts her head to the side in slight confusion. "Although, I'm surprised that I am, or more like I'm surprised we haven't met before. I've met most everybody and and everyfairy in Gensokyo on my rounds, and though I can have trouble remembering all the names and faces, I'm pretty sure I haven't met anyone before with both of yours."

She studies you closely, eyes darting over your visage. "Well, the face maybe, but...maybe not on the other hand. Or other head? Something different in the eyes, perhaps. Wings too, come to think of it." She purses her lips, shaking her head with a giggle. "Eheh, no need to pay attention to me I'm sure. I'm just being silly. Silly Lily."

"You said you've met everyone in Gensokyo?" you ask, deigning to gloss over the questionably accurate part about your identity. "Seems like a pretty big place to me, is that really possible?"

"Why not? Spring reaches everywhere, greets every person, plant, animal and youkai." Lily smiles proudly. "Not that I generally get much time in any one place, though. There's a lot of ground to cover, after all."

"Lily’s the fairy of spring, and that means she’s responsible for going across all of Gensokyo in one day. Wherever she goes, she brings spring."

"She’s kinda like Gensokyo's version of Santa Claus." Cirno adds. "Except she’s a girl, she comes three months later, and instead of presents she brings allergies."

"Hey!" Lily cries, affronted. "Spring's about way more than just allergies! Just because some of us can't appreciate the beauty of the season, doesn't mean that-"

"Yeah, yeah, but you're biased due to being the freakin' fairy of spring," Cirno says dismissively, waving a hand. "Nothing really special about spring, only real advantage is that there's more things to freeze again."

"You're not Letty, you don't have that excuse for being so diehard about winter! And spring has plenty of special qualities, it's the time when nature really lives again after winter, it-"

"It's also the time when the temperature starts getting too hot again. Not quite as bad as summer, but..."

"You don't have the right to complain about that, you can change the temperature around you at will!"

"Yeah, but that gets annoying, and I don't have to when it's winter. Therefore, it's the better season. D.E.Q."

"Should we...intervene or something?" you ask Dai in an undertone.

"No point, they go through this every time," Dai mutters back with a strained smile. "Every single time. Just let the argument take its course."

"Are the seasons really that big a deal to them?" you wonder aloud.

"Eh, a good amount of it is just ritualistic messing with the other, they're not all that serious." Dai assures you.

"Aha!" Lily shouts, turning to you. “Hebe! You have to weigh in on this!”

“…Well, maybe Lily is.”

“What do you think?” Lily asks you eagerly. “Which season is the better one, spring or winter? Cirno’s and my opinions are obvious, and Dai’ll either agree with Cirno or say something noncommittal like ‘both seasons have their own appeal’…”

Dai just shrugs helplessly at you.

“…but you look like you might be able to see sense on this subject, sooo…? Whatcha think?”

“Um…” You scratch your head, thinking. “Well, the only one that I’m really qualified to comment on is winter, and that one seems pretty good so far…”

“Ha! See?” Cirno exclaims smugly.

“…but on the other hand, it is a bit colder than I’m really comfortable with. Not to mention, a…part of me…thinks that spring and all the growth and life that comes with it would be very nice as well.” Mm. Good girl.

“Huuuh?” Lily draws out the word, staring at you. “Only one you’re qualified, you think that spring ‘would be’ nice…There’s no way you could be that young, is there? You’re way too, I dunno, aware-seeming."

"Well, I don't know exactly, but I don't remember any real experiences older than today." You reply, with a small degree of annoyance. Will you need to go over this with everyone you meet? Should you put a sign on your back, saying ‘AMNESIAC FAIRY, ASK ABOUT THIS AND RISK PLANT-INDUCED CONSTRICTION’?

“Highlights of my day so far: woke up naked, nameless, and nothing in my head, got clothes from Dai, remembered how to use danmaku and powers, came here.” you rattle off. “People were assuming I was a newborn to start with-”

“No, you're definitely not a newborn,” Lily says confidently. “You’d have clothes and a name, at least, if you were. I’d know, too, in spring and its first day especially there’s a lot of new fairies popping up. My guess is you got on the bad side of one of Marisa’s experimental spells, and that messed up your head.” She pauses, looking a bit worried. “...Not sure what to think about the clothes, though. Hopefully she wouldn’t have been responsible for that part, although if at least some of the rumors are true...”

“Anyway, she wouldn’t be able to learn danmaku or her powers so fast if she was doing them for the first time, right?” Cirno asks.

"Not for danmaku, no, but powers could actually vary a lot more depending on how complex they were...what can you do with yours, Hebe?" Lily asks.

"Well, the main thing I've figured out so far is making plants grow." Hmph, I resent that. [u]It is what I've done most, that and I'm still not sure how to describe what you helped me with. Eh, fair enough.

"Well, all right, that's pretty standard, might not take all that long to learn...What kind of plants?"

"Uh, snowdrops, various grasses, cherry trees, oak trees...I don't think I'm limited at all in what I can affect, really." Shouldn't be, no, unless I'm overlooking something about how we work together.

"You can grow anything at all? Wow, that's pretty amazing!" Lily says, eyes widening. "Most of us with that kind of ability are limited to one species- for me, I can grow anything that blooms in spring, but if you aren't even limited like that- whoa."

She stares at you for a moment more, eyes showing a mix of curiosity and awe. “Quite an interesting girl you two found.” Lily says, eyes trailing over Cirno and Dai.

“Uh, not that it's really important, but they didn't actually find me." you interrupt, seeing an opportunity to address your original goal in talking to her. "Sunny Milk, Star Sapphire, and Luna Child did. You wouldn’t happen to have seen them around here, would you?”

"Um...Sunny, Star- ah, right, the trio! Yes, as a matter of fact I did pass by them earlier." Lily says, nodding rapidly. That’s...convenient. "I was surprised to see them working here, but I guess Miss Sakuya thinks desperate times -eheh- call for desperate measures. They were with one of the forest fairies, who I guess got recruited with them, and seemed to be arguing about something."

Lily tilts her head, remembering. "...Not that I could make out most of it, I couldn't hear anything until the very end, which is when- Luna, I think- said something about going up floor by floor."

“...Systematic of them,” Dai observes. “That’d mean the staircase would be a good place to meet up, seeing as they’ll need to reach it at some point.”

“Ground floor’s a freakin’ maze, though,” Cirno groans. “Even if they take longer to get through everything, it’ll still take way too long for us to navigate there.”

“Or it would, if I didn’t know a shortcut~” Lily announces, grinning as everyone's heads turn towards her, and leaping up into the air.

"Here, follow me, this'll get us straight up to the second floor near the stairs, with a minimum of turns and passageways." She leads you back to the crossroads, turning left- the bat-winged girl's disappeared by this point, and you continue down it unimpeded.

"So how've things been around here, Lily?" Dai asks.

“Oh, same ol’, same ol’. Nothing all that special to mention besides the current plans for the party, which has everyone running everywhere and trying to get stuff done.” She gestures at a pair of fairies dashing past you, holding some sort of glass object in many pieces.

“But even with that, it’s just the same identical repetitive jobs, no real change, no real excitement. It’s actually gotten me feeling kinda down, even though seeing you again’s helping with that.”

“...Wait a second, this is feeling down for you?” you ask, words laden with disbelief. "Is she serious?"

“Oh, yeah.” Cirno affirms with a nod. “This is nothing compared to how she acts in the spring, ‘specially on the first day when she’s going around yelling about it.”

“When she gets like that, she’s energetic enough that it’s literally painful to be in her presence.” Dai adds, with a sly smile directed at Lily.

“Ah?! So cruel, Daiyousei…”

“Dai’s talking about Lily’s habit of shooting danmaku everywhere when she announces spring,” Cirno explains, jabbing an elbow at Dai who ducks away with a giggle.

“I can’t help it if that happens when I get really excited...” Lily pouts. She looks up to the sight of you edging away, to the far side of the hallway. "Oh, there's no need to worry! I only get in that kind of mood during early spring. Or occasionally when I have too much sugar."

"Er, all right." You stop your apparently not-very-subtle retreat and scoot back to rejoin your group.

"Ah, we're here!" Lily announces, perking up. Well, more so. Your attention is drawn to a large slab of metal, divided into two halves, mounted very conspicuously on the stone wall. Lily persse a round button mounted on a panel beside it.

“Oh, okay, so your shortcut's an elevator- Wait a sec, this ancient place has an elevator?” Cirno asks, doing a double take. “I didn’t even know they had electricity! How come we never heard about this?”

“Weeell, that’d be because it didn’t exist when you were last here.” Lily responds. “Lady Scarlet had a group of kappa come down and refit parts of the mansion just this past fall. ‘Keeping up with the modernizing factions of Gensokyo’ or whatever. Plus I’d heard that the librarian pushed for her to put them in, something about not wanting to walk up all the stairs.”

“…But she can fly.” Dai deadpans.

“And you’d think that would have been brought up, wouldn’t you, but no!” Lily exclaims. You hear a bell chime, and the metal half sheets slide apart, the four of you stepping into the revealed enclosure and continuing on. “Still, I’m not going to complain, it makes getting around the mansion way faster. Quite a few of the other fairies don’t like them though.”

“Oh? Why not?” you ask. If it makes getting around more efficient, what's the problem with using it? ...Although having thought that, being trapped in a moving metal box is a bit unsettling, you note as you look around.

“I’m guessing that’d be the technology divide at work?” Dai asks, turning to you at Lily’s nod. “Most of the fairies around here, and the residents period, are used to the rudimentary kinds of objects they can see in the village, or purely natural ones if they stay in the unsettled areas of Gensokyo. As such, they find all the more recent advancements unsettling."

Dai shrugs. “I thought it was a bit odd at first, but Cirno and I have been exposed to a lot since then from another friend of ours, which lessened the novelty.”

“Personally, I’m not weirded out by tech, I just don’t see the point of most of it.” Cirno says. “I mean, freezers f’rinstance- normal ice can do the job just as well, not even getting into the stuff I or Letty can do. Or guns- wow, you can shoot one bullet at a time, that’s so awesome.”

“I do wonder, sometimes, what Rinnosuke sees in all the things he collects…” Dai says. “I mean, the books and written objects let us learn about things like this, but much of the rest does seem kind of...quaint.”

…Personally, I too think this “elevator” is kind of weird.
That’s because someone like you would never have been exposed to it, what with the kind of life you live here.
Not true, I do- well, did- often see the kappa and their work, not to mention the recent effects of the mountain’s shrine. Doesn’t stop me from finding them strange.

You hear a thin chiming noise, and the door slides open, revealing a hallway dully similar to the one you exited from. Lily leads you to the left, to the corner of another intersecting hall, and-

“There they are, great.” you say, seeing four familiar fairies emerging from a stairwell at the end of the hall. You take a half step forward, only to have Lily grab your shoulder and pull you back.

“Actually, wait a second, before you get to them I’ve got a question…” Lily says, lowering her voice.“Mind telling me what you’re all, well, doing here?”

"What do you mean?" you ask warily.

"Oh come on, I do know those three. There's no way they'd set foot in this place without ulterior motives, so they'd need to be planning a pretty impressive prank to overcome the danger involved. Something involving searching this place from top to bottom, which you three know about."

"And before I knew that, it was surprising that the two of you would come back to this old place, considering how things ended up last time."

"Hey, that wasn't our fault," Cirno objects.

"I didn't say it was, just implied that it would prevent you from coming back. And you have been pretty visibly uncomfortable here, so I don't think I'm entirely wrong about that, am I?"

"Lily, if you're upset about us keeping this from you-" Dai starts, only to be interrupted by a laugh from Lily.

"Upset? Come on, Dai, really? You should know me better than that. I'm sure that whatever you're up to, you have good reasons for wanting to keep it secret. But if it's at all possible, I want in." Lily's eyes glitter with mischief.

"I might not be a big fan of pranking humans, but I've been bored out of my mind here since Milady Vampire forced me into work, and doing something that'd get back at her- assuming you are- sounds like just the kind of thing that could be fun.

"So? What do you say?"
[ ] “I think that’s a question better relayed to those four.” Gesture to your seperated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.
[ ] “If I can give my two cents...” You’d rather wait to get to know you a bit more before letting her in on this.
[ ] “Well, you see...” Make up a plausible-sounding lie to dissuade her.
[ ] “So, here’s the scoop...” Tell her the deal, Dai and Cirno do seem to trust her after all.
[ ] (Write-in.)
Yeah, I don't know where I got the idea of the elevators. I think Tepes's PDA-using Sakuya and mansion phones left some kind of subconscious mark on me.

On a different note, I think I might have lost whatever ability I possessed to write short(er) updates.
[x] “I think that’s a question better relayed to those four.” Gesture to your seperated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.
>short(er) updates
Meh. This scene flowed well.
[X] “If I can give my two cents...” You’d rather wait to get to know you a bit more before letting her in on this.

I like this better than the other "neutral" option.
[ ] “I think that’s a question better relayed to those four.” Gesture to your seperated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.

I like her more than Letty, that's for sure. I'd like it if she joined, but taking charge would definitely annoy Cirno... I don't think a write-in would win, either. This is good enough.

I'm starting to think the write-in options might be necessary to dodge voice infuence in some cases.
[x] Let Dai and Cirno decide.

>On a different note, I think I might have lost whatever ability I possessed to write short(er) updates.

>Implying this is a bad thing

Seriously man, walls are good things to wake up to.
[ ] “If I can give my two cents...” You’d rather wait to get to know you a bit more before letting her in on this.

Come on, guys. Do you really want to tell Lily about a plan to extend winter?

Also this update has me thinking Spoiler-chan is Kasen
You mean hasten the arrival of spring, right? We can put anything in this artifact.
[x] “I think that’s a question better relayed to those four.” Gesture to your separated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.

Hey, it was their idea, going over their heads on this should probably be avoided.
We're changing the plan quite a lot from what Sunny originally intended though, huh? Wonder if that's a good thing or not.

I foresee an argument/fight between Letty and Lily on what we actually end up using the artifact for. Which should be fun.

Another thing: Writefag, didn't you say we'd be seeing Lily Black too? Or am I remembering wrong?
[x] “If I can give my two cents...” You’d rather wait to get to know you a bit more before letting her in on this.
[x] "I think that's a question better relayed to those four." Gesture to your separated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.
Okay, tie's broken, good. Vote called for handing off Lily to the Three Musketeers.

I think that I might have given a misleading impression with that comment about update length. Wall end products are generally satisfying in my view, allowing me more character interaction and such, it's just the fact that they also take longer to write which irks me a bit.
Related is that the story's pacing and progression as a whole is going slower than I'd hoped, but I'll be trying to remedy that without sacrificing content (since I am glad that people like the walls).

And yes, you should be meeting Lily Black too, although when exactly that happens is dependent on a number of factors. Might not be for a while yet.
It does seem to point towards Kasen, doesn't it? Plus her power over animals might, tangentially, relate to our power (being a fairy might have changed it slightly)? But who would be an antagonist and/or counterpoint for her, in italics' role?
So, I've been bored and thinking about the "Dai also has a voice in her head" theory, and looking through the threads for evidence of this. Which basically means finding any remotely suspicious dialogue and reposting it here.

It does seem possible that she has two seperate personalities, with one being fairly nice, normal, and sane and the other being...not, only emerging every so often. Couldn't find too many examples, but there's this:

>“The way you say…all of that…makes it sound like you’re not one of us,” notes Luna.
>“Oh, I am.” Dai’s vacant eyes and upturned lips are juxtaposed in a melancholy smile. “I’ve just been forced to grow up a little faster, that’s all.”
>“Forced?” Luna tilts her head.
>Dai gives no sign of having heard her, merely staring into the mist.
So her theoretical headvoice might have been responsible for that forced growing up or maturity.

Another example of this, which is too long to copy/paste here, was basically her whole manner of treating Yuuka, which seemed a lot different than her normal personality. Her freakout over the power misunderstanding is borderline, in my view. Conversely, how she acted in her conversation with Letty didn't seem different from her normal personality, for whatever reason.

Of course, all this could also just be evidence of Dai having some repressed issues, but that's not as fun to assume, so what do y'all think?
Or was I misunderstanding what other people thought about the headvoice?
Pretty sure this Dai does have repressed issues, what with the thing with her power.
Which is basically 'make people die, really slowly'.
If the doujin's anything to go by, and it probably is, the killing people isn't necessarily very slowly. Yes, it was for Cirno, but she seemed to be the exception rather than the rule.

I'm guessing constant exposure to Cirno/Letty and possibly just getting better control of herself are what's preventing the current Dai from instantly killing everyone she's around.
[x] “I think that’s a question better relayed to those four.” Gesture to your separated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.
What doujin is this? I must read it.
File 134530473727.jpg - (361.02KB, 688x1200, cirno ehehe.jpg) [iqdb]
Sorry, everyone, some complications came up in the last week or so of my life which left me unable to write. They're pretty much resolved now, though, and I should have the next update up today tomorrow within some relatively short interval of time that shall remain unspecified in an attempt to avoid jinxing myself.

Assuming you meant to link to >>54342. Anyway, an anon posted a link to the doujin in the last thread here >>53233. It's Asatsuki Dou's "Because Cirno-chan is the Strongest" and can be more or less treated as a prequel to the story because I'm a lazy writer who can't be bothered to come up with their own ideas, although I've taken a couple liberties with my interpretations of some parts. It shouldn't be strictly necessary to read it, but it'll provide some more context for Cirno, Letty, and especially Dai. All of which should be explained in-story too, but most likely not for a while at my current writing speed.
Real life sucks.
Any news?
File 134636522151.jpg - (775.32KB, 1333x1000, reunited with absolutely no problems whatsoever.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] "I think that's a question better relayed to those four." Gesture to your separated companions: Lily can be their responsibility.

You put a hand to your chin, pondering Lily's proposal. It certainly seems worth considering, you admit; she'd likely be quite familiar with the mansion's inner workings, and it sounds like she has a good motivation to help you out.

...Not that your plan's specifically geared towards pissing off an evidently ancient and powerful vampire, you admit, but it is more likely to happen than you're comfortable with. If Lily's had some dealings with this Lady Scarlet, though, she could possibly give you some idea of what to expect. Which just might be dangerously inaccurate, given the whole "explicitly planning to enrage a dangerous creature greatly her superior" bit, but you know, you can take it if you want.

Well, you don't technically know that the mistress here would be- bahaha, I can't finish that thought with a straight face. Any sort of comparison between a vampire and a fairy is hilariously pointless, even if this one does seem a cut above the rest of her kind.

I think I'd be a bit more qualified than you to make that comparison, due to being around both more recently...but you do have a point.

Do you even have a face to keep straight? You absently echo around the inside of your mind, still thinking. Cirno and Dai obviously get along well with the spring fair y- just having talked with her for a few minutes, you’re finding it difficult to see how anyone wouldn’t. Still, it’s always possible that introducing them could cause problems- your first impressions of Dai seem to have misleading, for one thing, the same going for Star, Juniper, and Yuuka. Who’s to say Lily won’t turn out the same way? Admittedly a “what-if” concern is a rather flimsy one, but-

You frown. Wait, why are you even putting so much time and thought into this decision? You don’t actually need to make it, you can just push it off to someone else. …Well. Okay, so much for that.

“Why don’t you ask them instead, Lily?” you suggest, gesturing to the small party still chattering by the stairwell.

"Ask…them? Oh, I see, you’re here on their behalf in the first place. Sure, that's fine too." Lily nods. "I actually don't remember having seen them in my rounds the last few years, for some reason, so given how our memories tend to be...care to introduce me?"

“I’ll take care of that, Lily.” Cirno assures her before you can respond. “I’m sure at least one of ‘em will remember you, though. So, let’s go see…”

Cirno floats out around the corner, Dai right behind her and you and Lily fluttering afterwards. You have a better view of the other four before they notice you, and have a moment to take in their expressions- the overwhelming vibe from the group is discontent.

"Oh, hey guys- Aaaugh!" Sunny's wearied expression shifts to excitement and terror in a pair of heartbeats, and she flails backwards into Juniper, sending the latter girl crashing backwards down the staircase. Ooh, ouch.

“Ah, good, you made it in without problems too.” Luna says, looking relieved at the sight of you- though you get the feeling there’s more to that than her words indicate. The blonde blinks in surprise as her eyes dart across the extra member of your group. “Oh, and Lily White too? Didn’t expect to see you around here, though I- Sunny, what are you doing?” Luna asks, raising an eyebrow at her friend who is now cowering behind Star’s dark curtain of hair. “Get offa Star already.”

“Yes, please do.” a strained-looking Star mutters, giving the redhead a shove away. Her head tilts as Sunny disappears from view, and Star swipes a hand through the air which does the same; momentarily, before Sunny yelps and fizzles back into view, Star’s fingers clamped around her ear. Star withdraws her chastising hand, raising an eyebrow at the discomforted girl. “…What’s got you so upset, Sunny?”

“Her! Why is she here? Why are you here?” Sunny squawks, jabbing a shaking finger at Lily. “I heard the vampire’d shot you down, not hired you here! What gives? And what’s with the innocent-looking act?”

“There…isn’t one, and I really don’t know why you would- oh!” Lily gasps, clasping both hands over her mouth. “Oh, geez, that was you that I ran into a few years back, when I was- look, I’m really, really sorry about that, I kind of…wasn’t myself at the time. You got better, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, eventually after you attacked me. Freakin’ danmaku freakin’ everywhere, couldn’t escape or dodge for the life of me…and was it really necessary to set me on fire once that part was over?”

‘It was an accident!” Lily pleads, waving her arms frantically.

“Bull!” Sunny retorts with an angry swipe at the air, turning to Luna and Star. “I’ve told the two of you before, if you see the spring fairy be careful or something bad’ll happen to you, just like it did to me. Her power comes from all the strength of spring, so none of us can match it!”

“Eh. Debatable,” Cirno mutters.

“All right, all right, let’s just calm down for a second…” Lily says, holding her hands in the air in what seems an attempt to be nonthreatening. Or possibly just ward Sunny away from her. “Look, Sunny, that little spat between us was a big misunderstanding, believe me, and I’m sorry that you had to get involved in it. But there’s really no reason to be afraid or worried about me, so can’t we just forget about that and move on to-”

“Actually, Lily, I’m curious about what she has to say,” you interrupt with a step forward, earning a hurt look from the spring fairy and a grateful glance from the sunlight one. “Mind telling us just what happened between the two of you to get you so riled up, Sunny?”

“And what did you mean by not being yourself…?” Dai asks Lily in an undertone.

“Yes, of course I- wait, no, I mean no, I don’t mind at all.” Sunny corrects herself quickly. “Yeah, thanks for actually bothering to listen-“ she pauses for half a moment.

“Hebe.” you interject on a whim. Might as well let them know about that little development.

“Right, yeah, thanks Hebe.” Sunny continues without missing a beat. On either side of her, Star and Luna make matching noises of surprise and fix you with questioning glances, which you shrug off as Sunny begins her recounting.

“So, I was just flying around the forest sometime in mid-spring- this was a few years back, before I met up with Star or even Luna- anyway, yeah, flying around, minding my own business, when out of nowhere I get blindsided by this- uff!” Sunny gets shoved forward abruptly by a sprinting figure, Star’s arm quickly intercepting her from hitting the ground, and the air is forced out of your lungs by a diving Juniper.

“Juniper missed her friend…” she cries out, nuzzling up against you. “Juniper was getting lonely just being with Sunna and Luna, and it was worse once they met up with mean Star, she doesn’t seem to like Juniper much. But Juniper’s glad to get back to you, she likes you the best…”

“Oww!” Sunny cries, wrenching her arm away from Star’s now white-knuckled fingers and rubbing the handprint left there. “Ngh- Star, I ‘pprieciate you catching me, but ya really didn’t need to grab me that hard…”

“Sorry, Sunny,” Star mutters, though she looks anything but, fixing a devastating glare on the girl wrapped around your midsection. I wonder if she’ll actually try looking daggers at her. Noticing your look, Star contorts her face into what’s likely an attempt at a grin, but ends up distinctly more of a grimace, and she dips her head in a silent little bow, not breaking eye contact.

“Um, yes, hi, Juniper. I, er, missed you too.” You say hesitantly, mindful of Star’s gaze still upon you, and gently pry Juniper’s hands off your back. “Same with you, Star.” you add carefully, observing as her brow uncreases itself and her smile shifts a few shades towards amicable, making her presence as a whole distinctly more appealing.

That one’s not bad-looking at all, really. Fairly classic-looking little beauty, and the maid dress is rather fetching on her. Although, the more childish one that was so eager to see you does have a surprisingly impressive figure, much more so than her mental age would suggest…

Let’s stop that line of thought there, shall we, before we have a repeat of foreign objects travelling up people’s skirts.

“So, how’ve you been holding up in here so far?” you ask in the general direction of your now-reacquainted acquaintances. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice Lily sidling over to Luna’s side, and the two begin chatting in hushed tones. “Seen or heard anything interesting?”

“Well, the mansion does have quite a lot of interesting parts within it, actually.” Star responds, nodding. “The first floor has several rooms which are just for guests to stay, but there were many different ones we saw too, which looked like they were designed to cater to the vampire’s interests. Well, maybe. One room had a giant pool of water with a springboard, another had rows of chairs in front of a giant screen like one of the Outside’s cinemas, a third was like the pool except filled with colored plastic balls, and a fourth had all these structures made out of metal bars, which Luna thought you were supposed to climb on for fun.”

“You sound kind of disappointed, but…those aren’t bad things, are they?” you ask. The latter few are constructions mainly for child’s play, so that’s right.

“No, and that’s what was so surprising. I expected something more like a chamber for communing with Makai, or maybe a super-gothic cathedral, not things that…innocent.” Star says, looking distinctly puzzled.

“Wait, maybe the vampire had all those rooms installed so that the maids could use ‘em?” Luna theorizes, frowning. “I mean, it doesn’t seem like she'd be the kind to care about the help, but…”

“But that’s more likely than her, or anyone else in this place, getting any use out of them.” Star says with a nod. “I mean, the younger sister would probably prefer a place for playing dodgeball with human heads.”

“Eww…Juniper’s glad we didn’t see anything like that.” The small dark-haired fairy sticks out her tongue in disgust. “Juniper wouldn’t have minded staying longer to try playing in a few of the actual rooms we saw, though. Splashing around in that indoor pond looked like it would be fun, in particular.”

“Yes, well, some of us preferred not wasting time on childish things like that, due to having a sense of priorities.” Star says, sniffing.

“Really? Because you were telling me that you might be up for a swim, too, up until Juniper suggested…” Sunny quiets as Star turns a blank stare on her. “Uh, never mind.”

“How could the vampire fit something like a pond –er, pool I mean- inside the rooms of this place, anyway?” Cirno asks, scratching her head.

“There’s a rule the other maids came up with, working here:” Lily says, raising a pointer finger in the air for emphasis. “Whenever you find, see, or hear something in the mansion that you can’t figure out, the explanation’s always that Sakuya’s been cheating.”

“That’s a pretty fitting way of describing her power, I suppose.” Dai says, smirking.

“It’s led to a few misunderstandings, though. The worst one was when Miss Patchouli heard a couple of us mentioning that, the day after she’d lost something really bad to Sakuya in a poker game.” Lily’s smile downgrades to a faintly sickened expression. “A point-blank Royal Flare does some…interesting things to a human’s flesh.”

“Oh, gods.” Dai winces, the others snickering quietly. Save for you and Juniper, likely because neither of you actually know what a Royal Flare is.

“Yeah.” Lily shudders, nodding. “Let’s just say that the Spell Card nonlethality rule wasn’t exactly a benefit for Sakuya in that situation. I mean, any of us would’ve just popped in half a second and been mostly fine, save maybe for a few days’ aversion to sunlight rivaling the Lady’s. She got the full, all expenses paid tanning experience, though, and ended up looking like one of-”

Not that this isn’t intriguing and all…” you cut in, Lily’s expression not endearing you to the prospect of her finishing that sentence. “But are we just going to stand around here sharing stories? If the lower floor didn’t have anything worthwhile, we might as well start taking a look around here, right?” You propel yourself a few feet down the corridor, looking back on the others expectantly.

“Yeah, let’s keep moving.” Sunny agrees, following closely behind you, your companions doing the same. “The ground floor was a bust, but hopefully this one can at least give us some hints towards finding- uh.” Sunny’s mouth snaps shut, and she gives a suspicious look back to Lily.

“There’s a room on the far end of this floor which might offer some hints, I think. It’s where Sakuya keeps records of the house’s inventories, including things like magical objects the librarian’s created.” Lily says cheerfully, floating along a few steps behind you.

Sunny does a double take. “How did you-?”

“How did she know to suggest a location relevant to our plan? Yeah, that’d be because I just told her about it while the rest of you were talking.” Luna says. Lily nods brightly.

What?! You told- plan, secret- nobody’s listen- agh…” Sunny quickly descends into indistinct spluttering. “I told you that I didn’t want anyone else getting involved, after how this-” she waves a hand in Juniper’s direction, who now looks to be deeply engaged in tugging on Star’s waist-length hair, much to the latter girl’s displeasure. “…worked out. And you decided to let this psycho in the know, of all people?”

“Well, she doesn’t seem psycho at all, so I’m starting to think that was your imagination.” Luna replies, shrugging. “Just asked me how I was doing, if I liked the place so far, if there was anything she could help us out with…so I told her, and she still wants to help.”

“I do, if you’re willing to let me.” Lily attests, draping her arms over Luna’s shoulders and looking hopefully at Sunny. “There hasn’t been any real excitement in this place for far too long, but this seems like a prime source of it. Not to mention that you were half-right earlier; Miss Scarlet did have her maid shoot me down and hired me more or less at knifepoint, just so she could be the first to have spring each year. Stealing one of her treasures would be a good way to get back at her for that, I think.” Lily smiles at Sunny, giving Luna a squeeze.

“Yeah, she also did this a bit.” Luna says, shrugging Lily off. “Hug someone else, would ya?” Lily pouts but nods, flying over to pull Juniper away from Star and begin chatting up the shorter girl.

“An advantage of getting Lily’s help would be having another option for types of pranks,” you point out, thinking aloud. “She could use her power on the artifact too, after all, right?”

“Yeaaah, somehow I don’t think causing a period of constant, perfect spring would really scream ‘Ha, gotcha!’ ” Luna counters. “Invoking good weather to people as a prank is like pushing someone into the path of Reimu’s Fantasy Heaven as a gift.”

“Sending someone to a ‘fantasy heaven’ actually sounds like it would make a decent gift-” you start.

“Well it’s not, given that it’s [iReimu’s[/i] heaven, and her fantasies evidently consist of nothing but smashing people’s faces in with her energized balls.”

“Maybe we could have Lily and Letty alternate days of using the artifact, that’d definitely weird people out.” Star suggests, smirking at Luna’s words. Over by Juniper, you notice Lily tense up at this suggestion, but she says nothing. “What do you think, Sunny?” Star glances over to Sunny, who’s flying along in silence, glare practically burning a line into the floor. “Don’t like the idea much, it looks like.”

“Still upset?” you ask Sunny, unsurprised as she responds with a jerky nod.

“You could have at least asked me before deciding to tell the stupid spring fairy, this was my plan after all…” Sunny grumbles, crossing her arms.

“Hey, I could’ve told you that it’s fine to let Lily in on this, I’m sure she’ll be a big help.” Cirno says with a frown, glaring at Sunny. “And don’t insult her like that, even if she has some of her priorities wrong she’s still my friend.”

“I asked you to be here as a bodyguard, Cirno, not another questioner of everything I do or say,” Sunny retorts.

“Cirno, not that I don’t appreciate your sticking up for me, but Sunny does have a valid enough reason to dislike me, and if she’s the one who organized this then listening to her some more couldn’t hurt…” Lily puts forwards from Juniper’s side, glancing between the sunlight and ice fairies.

“Lily, I’m on your side here, don’t make me regret it.” Cirno mutters.

“I’m just saying…” Lily says, raising her hands defensively and turning to Sunny. “And I really am sorry for hurting you that time, so like I was saying, I think it would be best if we could just try starting over- ”

“Hey, hey, just because you’ve won over Luna doesn’t mean that I trust you.” Sunny says quickly, flinching away. “You were right, I do have a good reason to dislike you, and I’m not going to forget what you did so easily. Which was not a figment of my imagination, thank you Luna…” she calls to the girl in question, glaring.

“Juniper’s noticing that you all really like arguing, don’t you?” Juniper pipes up, blissfully ignoring the three glares which immediately target her. “It’s kind of funny to listen to.”

“Where do you get off having a laugh at our-”
“If you think that’s funny, come over here and I’d be pleased to show you -”
“Look, kid, unless you have anything actually useful to say-”

The shouting voices of Cirno, Sunny, and Star blend together with Juniper’s surprised responses and Lily’s attempted intercessions, and you wince at the discordant sounds. “This…isn’t going as well as I’d hoped.” you say quietly to Luna, who’s found her way up beside you.

“Mm, really? I don’t think things are half bad, nobody’s even started shooting at each other yet.” Luna responds dismissively, shrugging. One hand of hers half-opens into a claw-like shape, rotating in the air, and the others’ shouting quiets down to a whisper’s level.

“Thanks, but…the fact that you’re so cynical about your own plan is not encouraging.” you mutter.

“Realistic, not cynical.” Luna corrects you, surprisingly mildly. “Fairies never really work well together in groups, not for any decent amount of time at least. Most of the humans and youkai view us as being pretty much the same, but there’s a lot of differences among all the members of our kind, and even the smallest disagreements can escalate really quickly. “

“You seem to get along well with Star and…well, at least decently with Sunny, though,” you point out, Luna snickering. “And you seem to have known each other for a while without any problems. Same thing with Cirno and Dai.”

“Well…huh, I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but you have a point. Still, we’re not really your typical short-lived gang of fairies- both me and Star can and do read, for one. And Star’s usually even-tempered enough to stop me and Sunny from grating too much on each other, when she’s not distracted by things like…” Luna gives you a sideways glance and coughs. “…when she’s not distracted.”

“As for Cirno and Dai…I dunno, honestly. I haven’t really been able to figure those two out, but you’re right: they’ve known each other for a long, long time, . They’re much closer friends than anyone else I’ve met, too, probably because of that.”

“But, despite everyone getting along well with their close friends…” you say.

“Yeah, that doesn’t apply so much with anyone else.” Luna finishes your thought. “Seriously, if you’d been around during the war we were trying to organize, you’d understand. Gods, we’d managed to assemble hundreds, might’ve even been thousands of fairies in just a couple days through word of mouth, but once we got them all together…ugh.” She shakes her head, grimacing. “Don’t tell Sunny I said so, but even if Cirno hadn’t come along to freeze swathes through our troops and break things up, I doubt things would’ve held together for even another hour. Definitely would have broken down utterly before we could have organized any sort of strike on the humans.”

"What do you think we should do, then, to try and prevent this plan from breaking down utterly?" you ask.

"Simple. Split ourselves up again into different search parties, ones small and well-designed enough that they won't have everyone at each other’s throats."

"Are you sure that's the best idea? We just went through all that to get back together, after all." you point out.

"Oh, yeah, and you can see just how great an idea that was, can't ya?" Luna retorts, jabbing a finger backwards at the still-squabbling Sunny, Star, Cirno, and Juniper, a more frustrated-looking Lily now among them as Dai watches from the sidelines. “If we keep everyone alone with people that keep them comfortable, though, we can diffuse all this tension. Not to mention that I know we’re going to have different ideas on where or how to search, and that we can cover more ground quickly by using all of them.”

“You’re putting quite a lot of thought into this, aren’t you?” you observe.

“About ninety percent of Sunny’s plans end up with something, usually critical, going wrong and someone, usually me, getting beaten up badly. Damage control’s a necessary role to fill, so I’ve adapted to thinking through it.” Luna sighs. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. The stuff the three of us get up to together is fun, despite how I probably make it sound, and the satisfaction of pulling off a successful prank is worth the pain and humiliation of tons of failures. It’s just…”

“That the tons of failures still happen?” you surmise.

“Yeah, exactly.” Luna nods. “And since I’m the clumsiest of us, not to mention that Star tends to ditch us when things go south...well, more often than not I’m the one who bears the brunt of our mistakes.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” you say, looking at Luna, her mouth pursed in a thin line. “Guess that would explain why you seem kinda bitter most of the time, then.”

“I am not bitt- well, maybe a little.” Luna acknowledges, corners of her mouth twitching upwards. “Takes quite a bit to change our natures and make me that way, but- well, even if Star’s escapes usually make sense practically and Sunny’s plans get all of us in roughly equal danger, doesn’t change the feeling I sometimes get from them that my main contribution to the team is being the scapegoat-cum-distraction.”

“…Well, that’s their loss then, if they’re going to make you feel like that. I certainly think you’re more important to us than that, and I don’t plan on abandoning you if things go wrong.” You place a hand on Luna’s shoulder in what you hope is a companionable manner, and feel a slight tingling of indeterminable temperature.

Unlike with Lily earlier, Luna doesn’t quickly shift away from your touch; instead she leans into your hand with a soft sigh, before blinking and scooting sideways. “I…um, well. Thanks, then.” Luna turns her head away from you, blushing slightly and covering it with a cough. “…Gods, this feels weird. You didn’t mention anything about that part, Star…” she mumbles.

“What part?” you ask, blinking. …Ugh. Can’t I tell her? Please? Just let her develop an awareness of these things at her own pace, you should like that. Plus, I’m finding her obliviousness fairly entertaining to observe. It is that, in a pathetically embarrassing by proxy kind of way.

“…It’s not important. What is important, though, is what you thought of my suggestion earlier, or any other ideas you have about what we should do now.” Luna says, face still turned away from you.

So, what do you think is the best course of action?
[ ] Try splitting yourselves up again, but in a more organized way:
-[ ] Cirno, Dai, and you, Sunny with Star and Juniper, Lily and Luna as a pair. Being with the pair of lake fairies went fine earlier.
-[ ] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star. As did your brief stint alone with the three Fairies of Light.
-[ ] Cirno and Dai, Lily with Sunny and Luna, you with Star and Juniper. Surely nothing can go wrong here.
-[ ] Some other combination... (Write-in)
[ ] Just keep going with the current arrangement, and hope that you can keep things on track.
[ ] Keep the group together, but talk privately with all your individual friends about trying to resolve their differences.

Really sorry that this took so long, everyone. My free time kind of abruptly disappeared. Might as well ask at this point: to anyone who writes, any suggestions on how to make time for it when you're busy?
[x] Try splitting yourselves up again, but in a more organized way:
-[x] Cirno and Dai, Lily with Sunny and Luna, you with Star and Juniper. Surely nothing can go wrong here.

Watching those two together should be fun. Having all three members of our burgeoning harem would be better, but that'd be a write-in.

And at least this was a wall, so the size makes up some for the delay. Worth the weight.
[x] Try splitting yourselves up again, but in a more organized way:
-[x] Dai and Hebe; Cirno and Lily; Juniper and Luna; Sunny and Star.
Because more groups equals faster searching. And we can ask Dai about the weird things that happen when we touch people.
[ ] Try splitting yourselves up again, but in a more organized way:
-[ ] Dai and Hebe; Cirno and Lily; Juniper and Luna; Sunny and Star.
[x] Try splitting yourselves up again, but in a more organized way:
-[x] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star. As did your brief stint alone with the three Fairies of Light.
Given all the weird and dangerous things that seem to happen when Dai isn't by Cirno's side, I don't think this is such a good idea. Dai might not even agree to it, actually: I wouldn't if I was her. If we want to ask Dai, we should either wait until later or be in a search party with both her and Cirno.
I'm digging the little backstory-ish bits. Makes the world feel alive. Same goes for everyone not getting along all the time, that's great.

>Fairly classic-looking little beauty,
Riiight. Of course maybe-Kaguya likes mini-Kaguya.
>Juniper likes arguing
Hahaha. Juniper agrees, arguing is awesome.

[x] Split up
-[x] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star. As did your brief stint alone with the three Fairies of Light.

Playing fairy counselor sounds more fun than splitting up, but it doesn't look likely to win. I'll take the option with Star minus Juniper. Star deserves a break.
Dai might agree if we mention spoilers protection. Maybe. It'd piss spoilers off something fierce, though...

Aren't we not supposed to be trying to avoid relying on the powers of the voices in our head?

Changing vote >>54421 to:

-[ ] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star. As did your brief stint alone with the three Fairies of Light.
No? They're infuencing Hebe, yes, but if we like the benefit they bring, I don't see a reason to fight it. Benefits like not dying a horrible death to Dai's power. Nobody wants that.

I could do without the body-snatching and memory-erasing, however. Cut that shit out.
>Aren't we not supposed to be trying to avoid

Way too many negatives in that sentence. And I don't think there's anything explicitly wrong with using the headvoices' powers, it's not quite what Yuuka warned us against at least, so I generally agree with >>54427. But italics and spoilers do seem to be basically fighting over which if them gets to use their powers more, through us, judging by their little conversation here >>54257. Which we might want to keep in mind, though I don't know what motivations they'd have for competing like that. Ideas?

Anyway, changing >>54419 to
-[x] Dai and Hebe; Cirno and Lily; Juniper and Luna; Sunny and Star.
If Dai wants to bring Cirno we can stick Lily with Luna and Juniper.
But I think we should at make an attempt at some alone time with Dai. We really need to talk about stuff.
Is this really the best time to talk about stuff? It'd be easy to be overheard here, and we're already planning to talk to her after this mansion business.
[x] Split up
-[x] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star.
[x] Split up
-[x] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star.

Damn it, I want our harem members, but don't want to mess up the plan by setting up time bombs...
Calling it for:
-[x] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star.
In retrospect, the disembodied bits of underlined text after the choices look pretty stupid.

You should still have the opportunity to talk to Dai, just a bit later.

Good points, but look more closely...

Thanks for saying so. The backstory-ish bit with Sunny and Lily, at least, is stolen/adapted from a couple lines of Sunny's in a chapter of SaBND. And I find that interpersonal conflict is generally much more interesting than everyone on a side getting along perfectly.

The voted-on group does have a couple, anyway.
That's why I settled on those groupings. The only other way it would work was Sunny and Luna paired, but I based on what Luna said I didn't want her becoming a scapegoat for Sunny if things go south.
File 134691712394.png - (334.74KB, 714x744, back with the trio.png) [iqdb]
[x] Split up:
-[x] Cirno, Dai, Lily and Juniper in one group, you with Sunny, Luna, and Star.

“Your suggestion seems like it’s the most likely to keep things together, Luna,” you admit. A couple other ideas did occur to you briefly, such as effectively forcing everyone to get over their differences, helping them through conflicts yourself. You’re not sure how capable you’d be of solving things that way, though, you have only just met everyone recently. For now, it’s probably best to just try and keep your friends with their own and avoid the fighting as much as possible.

Prevention is better than a cure, after all, and keeping oneself away from unwanted people is a tried-and-true method to that end.
Hmph. Well, I can’t say this has my full support, but very well. If you must cede to this Luna child’s idea, however, can’t you do something to make it more our- your own? Taking charge and such.

Well, there are the actual logistics of her plan to think through… You notice that Luna’s looking at you expectantly, and realize that your mouth is still hanging half-open from your previous statement. Hurriedly, you continue speaking. “So, working from that. Lily and Sunny are pretty obvious choices to separate from each other…” You trail off as Lily’s muted voice makes its way through more clearly to your ears.

“…please, Sunny, I’m not trying to make excuses for what happened, but surely you’ve been through worse from others without holding grudges this major-”

“Feh. There might’ve been some of Reimu or Marisa’s beatings that rivaled yours in pure pain, but neither of them made it seem as personal as you did, what with the tying me to a tree and igniting enough sake to make an oni hurl-”

“Igniting enough– wait, really?” Lily’s quieted voice takes on a particularly shocked timbre. “That’s a bit more…gratuitous than I, er, remember.” You can’t see Lily’s face from the way you’re facing, but her tone gives you the distinct impression that she’s frowning.

You shake your head with a grimace, and the pair’s voices quiet back down to near-nothing with a gesture from Luna. “Separate them as quickly as possible, at that. Star and Juniper are another pair to keep apart, although probably not quite as urgently.

“I told you already, stop tugging at me like that! Can’t you go back to annoying Lily instead, brat?” you hear Star’s exasperated voice cutting through the ambient sounds, before reverting to a more mild, normal tone. “Er, no offense, Lily, it just seems like you get along better with her…”

“Uh, Luna, you don’t actually need to bring the voices of anyone I mention into focus. I can tell that they’re arguing just from the background noise.” you point out.

“Eheh, sorry.” Star’s voice fades back into a soft chatter, along with the start of Juniper’s retort, and Luna smirks at you. “I’ve just been feeling tempted to experiment with my power since a little bit ago, feels like my control’s gotten a bit better or something.” Luna shrugs, mouth curving up into a small, prideful smile.

You feel an odd mix of satisfaction and discomfort at those words, though you’re not sure why. Shrugging off the inexplicable emotions, you continue to speak. “Anyway, Cirno and Dai we can probably treat as more or less inseparable-” Or really should for our own safety, you add mentally. Good, you're learning not to trust so blindly in others. “And Lily’s already friends with them, so having those three in a search party would seem pretty ideal.”

“Uh-huh, I picked that up from how Cirno was defending her. Kinda weird, I’d expect those two to fight over their- um, philosophical differences, but I guess not.” Luna frowns. “And, you do know that those three are probably the only ones who’ll know their way around this place, right? Putting them together will handicap any other groups.”

“Um.” Your brow creases- no, that hadn’t occurred to you. “Haven’t you been here before with Sunny and Star? It seemed like you could navigate around the ground floor without any difficulties.”

“We’ve been here briefly before, yes. There was a day during the rainy season- uh, a few years back- when we were looking for a holiday house, but we got thrown out when Sakuya noticed that we were working even less than the other maids. And another time when we raided some books from the library, and got a look around there. But aside from that, we’re as blind in here as you, we kept getting lost downstairs.” Luna admits sheepishly.

"...Okay, that might make things difficult, then, if we don't have another navigator. If you know the library better, though, how about that as a place for us to start searching?"

"The library'll be difficult enough on its own by virtue of practically being its own separate building, but we would still probably have an easier job there than anywhere else. Er..." Luna tilts her head a fraction, studying your expression. "I can't help but notice that you said 'us' there, as opposed to 'you'.

"I was thinking that I might tag along with you three for this next bit of searching." Luna fidgets slightly at your words. "Why, is that a problem?"

"Uh, not as such, no..." Luna looks away. "Well, it shouldn't be for you, anyway. Might be some trouble for the rest of us, though, me and Star in particular.

"If you don't want me to come with you..." you start, but Luna shakes her head to stop you.

"I didn't say that. Some kinds of trouble are worth getting into, after all." Luna flashes you a brief smile, then takes your arm, spinning you around to face the trailing members of your party. "This next bit is all yours, though. Have fun with that."

Surveying the arguing girls following you and Luna, you gulp, and take a deep breath. “So, guys?” you attempt, with little effect on the squabbling masses arranged before you. Frowning, you clap your hands loudly together, diverting their attention for a brief moment, and use that as your opening. “Hey, everyone! Listen up!” Good. Make them heed your words.

There’s a chorus of varyingly-annoyed “What?”s from your assembled group, and you take a step backwards, but continue quickly. "So, it's pretty obvious that the current arrangement of things isn't exactly ideal for many of us."

"Starting out with a huge understatement, I see." Luna mutters from behind you, and you make an annoyed shooing gesture with one hand before continuing.

"As such, Luna and I were thinking that it'd be a good idea to...regroup, for a little while at least, and split up into smaller search parties, each comprised of those of us that are already friends. So, the Three Fairies of Light would stay together, but Juniper might want to separate from them. Lily, the two of you seem to have hit it off, right?"

"We were having a little chat about the various aesthetic appeals of springtime, and that was going just fine before the interruptions, so yes." Lily dips her head with a smile. "I'd be fine with watching over Juniper, we can get to know each other better." Lily casts a brief glance towards Dai and Cirno, and a hint of disappointment flickers over her face, likely not intended for you to catch.

You notice it anyway, though. "And I know you're friends with Dai and Cirno too, so all of you can go together." Lily's expression brightens, and her wings flutter happily.

"Fine with me, I wanted to catch up more with Lily anyway," Cirno says agreeably, before frowning. "But I'm doing this because I think it's a good idea, just so ya know, not because you're telling me to."

"Of course," you say with a small smirk.

"I'm fine with that as well," Dai adds, contemplative eyes flickering over Cirno, Lily, Juniper, and yourself. "I suppose we'll go to investigate the records room that Lily mentioned, read over the- actually, can you read, Juniper?"

“Nnno, Juniper can’t.” The fourth member of your complementary group bites her lip. “But if there’s maps or something in there, Juniper can help with those, remembering them especially.”

"That’ll be fine, Juniper. So, I suppose that you'll be going with Sunny and company, Hebe?" Dai asks. "Where will you be heading?"

"The four of us will be searching the library to start with," Luna cuts in. "The three of us have looked through it before, raiding for some special books we’d heard of. Not that they were quite as special as we’d hoped, but…actually, never mind that, it was pretty stupid.”

"Um…all right, then. Hopefully you’ll be able to unearth something useful in there." Dai replies, before dropping her voice to a barely-audible mutter, which doesn't seem to be addressed to you at all. "Not like there's any job downstairs which we've already been assigned by Sakuya or anything, is there...Eh?" Dai says, blinking as a heavily pouting Juniper pushes her way past.

“Wait, we’re splitting up again? Aww, but Juniper didn’t even get to talk with her friend yet, and describe all the things she’d seen in the vampire’s mansion. There’s lots and lots of cool paintings on the walls from the Outside, not to mention all the sculptures that caught Juniper’s eye…”

“Um…look, Juniper, it’s not like I want to leave again, it’s just that-” You flounder for an excuse and come up short- dealing with a disappointed Juniper yourself had been a secondary priority to getting her away from Star. It's still a shame, though.

“She’ll probably need some incentive to go along with this,” you notice Dai muttering into Lily’s ear, a few feet away. "Any suggestions?"

"Well, they wouldn't need to be separated for too long..." Lily whispers back, unconcerned. "In fact- say, Hebe. Did you catch what time it was on your way in? There’s plenty of clocks in the entrance hall, not to mention all the regular hallways.”

You recall seeing several tall structures which you passed by, ticking things of brown, black, and white, but you didn’t think anything special of them at the time. “Well, I think I saw the clocks, but I don’t actually know-” You halt, a neural spark flashing between your eyes, and the memories of those clocks abruptly have new meaning. “…Never mind. It was four o’clock when we came in.”

You're welcome.
Could you have given her that knowledge? I doubt it.
I’m not that out of touch with…bah, never mind.
Thought so.

“Is dinner still at six-thirty here, Lily?” Cirno asks.

“It is, yes- I was going to bring that up myself, actually. The vampire’s day-to-day interests may wax and wane with the full moon, but I suppose you just grow into certain habits after five hundred years, and meals would qualify.”

“Why does any of this matter, though? Juniper doesn’t see how- how the amount of time before sundown or whatever affects her not being able to see her friend so soon. Again.”

You catch a wink from Lily out of the corner of your eye, but it’s an unnecessary gesture considering you’ve already caught on to her point. “It’s relevant because I’ll be seeing you again in just a couple hours, once we all reconvene at dinner. We’ll be able to talk then, I promise.”

“Oh.” Juniper’s tirade of righteous anger more like self-righteous annoyance seems to drain right out of her. “…Well, fine, but Juniper’s friend better make sure to eat dinner with her to make up for this, okay? Don’t forget about Juniper, you’ll regret it if you do.”

“I won’t, and that should be fine.” You pause, uncertain whether the next point is really necessary, but go ahead with it regardless. “…Also, I do have a name now, Juniper, so you can call me something more than just your friend. It’s Hebe.”
“Hebe? Hebe. Heee-beeeee…” Juniper says, rolling the word around in her mouth as if tasting it. Nodding, she flashes you a smile. “Juniper likes it. It’s a pretty name. Pretty like you.”

“Sooo, I think it’s about time we were off. Wouldn’t want to keep, er, those books and records waiting, right?” Lily says loudly, quite fixatedly not looking at the expressions of Star and Luna.

“I’ll second that.” Dai says, tugging on Cirno’s arm and pulling her past you down the corridor. “Good luck with your own search.”

“See you guys at dinner,” Cirno calls back to you.

Juniper refrains from a verbal goodbye, instead deigning to give you a quick hug before flying off after the others, giving you a little wave over one shoulder.

“How do you put up with her, anyway?” Sunny asks you in an undertone, looking dispassionately on Juniper’s receding back as you fly back to the staircase.

You shrug helplessly, unsure of what to say to that. “I…don’t know? She doesn’t bother me.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet she doesn’t.” Star mutters.

“...By which I mean she seems to intentionally- to some extent, at least- act differently than she does around you all. Less immature- well, no, not really, but a bit more considerate, I guess. I’m not entirely sure why.”

Star sighs. “Yes, Hebe, thank you for further confirming my point. But regardless of that...” She sighs again, but the sound is a much more relaxed one this time, and a matching smile forms on her face. “We don’t need to think about her for the time being. I’d rather focus on how nice it is to have you back with the three of us.”

“Is it? Well, that’s good, I was worried that things might be awkward after how that conversation of ours ended.” you respond, blinking as Star’s smile seems to freeze up. Luna groans softly, pressing a hand to her forehead.

“W-well, I suppose I can see why you’d think that.” Star says after a pause, turning away from Sunny’s questioning look. “But I had a chance to think things over, and I’ve decided that it’ll be better for both of us if I try taking things slower, easier, for a little while. Focus on being better friends for now, and gradually…see what you’re comfortable with.” She blushes slightly.

On your other side, a small smile flickers on Luna’s face, but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “How did your time with Cirno and Dai compare to our company, Hebe?”

“Um, it was fine; I’ve enjoyed both your company and theirs so far. There was a little complication where Cirno seemed to think I was threatening her being in charge of things, but I don’t think that’ll be too big of a problem.” You’ve decided that keeping your promise to Dai should include keeping a lid on all of her suspicious activity, so you leave things at that.

“Yeah, she was acting like that with me too, ticked me off a bit.” Sunny replies. “I mean, it’s obvious that I’m better qualified to be in charge than her- I’ve managed a whole war before, and the most she’s done is lead a few dozen fairies to help out Letty one time. But she still didn’t believe that I’d be a better leader, even with that and plenty of other reasons.”

“Can’t imagine why, I’m sure.” Star murmurs to you, winking.

“So, did Cirno give you any trouble?” Sunny continues.

“Nothing worse than a few heated words,” you assure her. “The only actual trouble I had was unrelated to her, when I unexpectedly found myself with Yuuka and–what?” You glance among your three companions, who have stopped as one in midair and are now staring at you in horror.

“Y-you ran into Yuuka Kazami? And you survived?” Sunny quavers.

“No, there’s no way she did, after meeting with that monster.” Star dismisses quickly. “Still, I’m glad you could even escape, even if it almost certainly wasn’t unscathed- I guess she didn’t notice you as anything worth more than a swatting.”

“Well…actually she said that she’d been searching for me,” you admit, a bead of sweat forming on your forehead.

“…did…she?” Star’s expression doesn’t change, but her face, naturally pale to begin with, blanches half a dozen shades whiter. Sunny and Luna suddenly seem about half a panicked step farther away from you.

A few words of Yuuka’s come to your mind. “You see, prior to yourself, I’ve only met four fairies who I viewed worthy of my attention.” Judging by your friends’ reaction, you think you might be getting an idea of how she treats, or at least appears towards, those whom she deigns not “worthy”.

And that throws another complicating variable into your judgment of Dai’s behavior towards Yuuka, dropping you squarely in the territory of No Idea Whatsoever.

But that’s something to think about later. For now, focusing on calming down your friends from the perceived threat of this youkai-boogeywoman is a higher priority. With a sigh, you make an effort to speak calmly and reassuringly. “Look, I’m sure you’ve heard some bad things about her-” Luna lets out a choked-sounding laugh at this, but you press on- “but she was just trying to figure out who had been making the plants and flowers grow where we were. Once she established that it was me, she let me go.”

“Oookay, I’ll humor you for a minute. What did she do to you that was ‘actual trouble’, then?” Luna asks skeptically.

“Well, she ki-” don’t say that really, don’t say that I know there’s the whole distrust issue now, but voicing that’s a really bad idea “…kicked at me a bit, and batted at me with her parasol too, but didn’t actually make contact or hurt me. Um…yeah.” you finish a bit lamely.

“…That doesn’t sound very troublesome. Or remotely likely, for that matter. Were you going to say something else, there?” Star asks, eyes narrowing slightly.

“No.” you blurt out, perhaps a bit too quickly. Noticing your face heating up, you cover it up with more rapid speech.

“Look, everyone, I appreciate the concern, but Yuuka really didn’t actually harm me, seriously threaten to harm me, or imply that she’d try and hurt, say, you because of me. Forget what I said, it wasn’t anything worth worrying about. I don’t care how unlikely that sounds, it’s the truth.” you assert. “And I’m regretting that I brought up this subject at all, now, so can we just drop it? Please?”

There’s a tense moment as the trio mulls over your words, but it breaks when they sigh and nod in acceptance.

“…Fine. Guess I’ll count my blessings that we don’t actually have Yuuka Kazami after us.” Sunny says with a shudder.
“Whatever, if by some miracle she likes you that actually might stop us from getting hurt if we cross her path.” Luna says.
“…If you’re sure about all that.” Star says simply, eyes still focused on your reddened cheeks.
“Right. So, anyway, that reminded me…Sunny, what happened between you and Lily, exactly? You got interrupted when I asked earlier.” you say, peering at the ginger flying once again beside you.

“I did? Oh yeah, that’s right, I did.” Sunny says, harrumphing noisily before stealing a glance at Luna. “Can we keep the disbelieving comments from the chestnut gallery to a minimum, please?”

"Well..." Luna draws out the word, smirking. Star rolls her eyes, delivering a poke and a stern look to the curly-haired fairy, who acquiesces with a snicker. "Fine, fine, I’ll keep the skepticism to myself until you’re done at least.”

"All right, so this is how things went down. A few years back, in early spring, I was flying through the Forest of Magic one night. Just keeping to myself, y'know, and keeping myself hidden so any nearby youkai wouldn't get ideas.

Now, this was before I'd hooked up with Star or Luna-" the latter muffles a combination laugh/cough at this, and Star's mouth twitches. "-and so I didn't have our old home to bed down in for the night. It was taking me a while to find a good place to spend the night , and so I was getting kinda annoyed- I don't much like when it's night out, even apart from the other things that come out then."

"So, this is still about the time that you got attacked by Lily, right?" you ask, attempting to nudge Sunny back on track.

"I'm getting to it, I'm getting to it...good stories take time to tell, Hebe." Sunny says, waving a hand airily. You're getting the impression that this girl would judge anything she had to say as a good story. "Now, where was I..."

"Night, lost, homeless, irritated." Star supplies.

"Right, thanks Star. So, that had been going on for a bit, and I suddenly heard this girl– well, it was sort of like she was singing, but it had this more scream-y or wail-y sound– and suddenly I couldn't see anything. But it only lasted a second before I heard this flapping noise dashing right by me, then a squawk, and the girl's voice stopped so I could see again to notice her plummeting to the ground. Obviously, as I had already deduced myself, it was Mystia the night sparrow." Sunny grins at you, smile sagging somewhat as she registers your look of confusion. "We've really gotta introduce you to more people, Hebe."

"Mystia's a friend of Cirno's, and an acquaintance of ours." Star explains. "She runs a food cart where she sells grilled lamprey, and occasionally this really great sake. I could show it to you sometime, if you want~" She bats her eyelashes at you.

”Sure, I wouldn’t mind the four of us taking a trip to the eel stand.” Luna chimes in, diverting your gaze.

“…That’s not exactly what I meant, Luna.” Star says, a bit more calmly than seems natural or genuine.

“I know what you meant.” Luna says bluntly, locking glaring eyes with Star, who jerks backwards as if slapped, betrayal in her eyes. Luna, for her part, shakes her head before turning quickly back to Sunny. “So, what happened after you saw Mystia fall?”

Sunny blinks a few times in confusion before light dawns. “After- oh, right.” The redhead squares her shoulders, eyes recapturing the faraway look as she immerses herself back in the memory.

“All right, so I’d just seen Mystia get shot down- yeah, it was shot, I didn’t mention it before but I’d been hearing danmaku fire, and lots of it, just before she fell. I turned around to see who’d been shooting, and Lily slammed right into me at top speed, knocked me down into the trunk of a really hard tree.

“Now, I already wasn’t in a great mood, but getting run down like that was the last straw, so I popped up again and started yelling at her, telling her to watch where she was going, throwing a bunch of insults at her, I don’t remember the specifics. She’d been heading away from me, but when I started that she turned around and came right back towards me, shouting even louder and with way worse words to boot, and spraying bullets everywhere.

“So, that knocked me down and battered me up pretty bad, and I thought that would be the end of it. But apparently I’d really touched a nerve or something with Lily, because she came down to me, cackling like crazy, and she had some tools with her. Those were a few ropes which she tied me up with, a gourd of sake that she poured over me, and a lighter which she used to set everything aflame. And not Spell Card-legal flames- real, horribly painful fire, and she just left me to burn up in it.

And…that’s it.” Sunny finishes underwhelmingly.

“You’re finally done?” Luna asks. “Good, so now I can say that this still sounds less likely than that fabrication Cirno told us about singlehandedly taking down Marisa.”

”Ugh…” Sunny glares at her blonde counterpart. "Darn it, Luna, why d'you have to doubt me so much about this?"

"I don't know, Sunny, it just really doesn't seem like the kind of thing that she'd do to anyone. I admit I only talked to her for a minute, but you can get the vibe really quickly that she's not that kind of person." Luna says.

"But she admitted to it! Even if it was a my word versus hers kind of thing, I'd think that I would be more believable, but both of us know she did it, so what's the problem?"

"She does have a point, Luna." you say with a shrug.

“Hmm...” You turn to the humming Star, finding the brunette tapping her chin with a finger. “I’m convinced that Sunny’s not making up the actual assault, but...are we sure that the culprit was really Lily?”

“Well, it was either Lily or someone that looked exactly like her, down to the embroidered pointy hat and dress-” Sunny trails off. “...Actually, come to think of it, I’m not sure about the color of her dress. This was at night, y’know, so I couldn’t make out shades that well, but she pretty much always wears pure white and her outfit this time seemed darker.”

“So…right, that might be an indication that it was someone else who attacked you.” you say, musing. “But even if another party had disguised themselves as Lily or similar, that still doesn’t necessarily explain how Lily would know about the event herself…or why she’d claim to be the one responsible.”

“Right, that’s a good point. I definitely wouldn’t do that.” Star says matter-of-factly.

“…No? You wouldn’t be willing to take blame onto yourself for a friend, even if it would help them out a lot?” you ask. “Because assuming this whole alternate attacker theory, that would seem like the most likely explanation.”

“Well, it would depend on the person and situation. But…no, generally not. Taking care of oneself should be a higher priority, in my opinion.” Star states.

…You can’t help but think that Luna’s mention of Star’s “escapes” from their pranks is taking on a rather disappointing meaning, now.

“Anyway, we’re here.” Luna says, drawing your attention to a pair of heavy-looking yew doors before you, each scribed with a dizzying number of strange symbols, each with its own unique shape and color. A small placard to the right of the doors reads VOILE LIBRARY.

“…Wait, I thought I was the one leading the way here.” you point out, slightly affronted.

“I know you thought that.” Luna smirks, sidestepping and allowing you access to the library’s entrance. “You can lead the way inside, how about tha-”

Before you can do so, however, the heavy doors slam out towards the two of you. A quick jump backwards prevents an unwanted blow to yourself, but Luna isn’t so lucky, the wooden edge clipping her mid-word and knocking her backwards onto her wings.

A short, redheaded- and really redheaded, tone closer to Meiling’s than Sunny’s- fairy maid lowers her leg from what appears to be a kicking position and emerges, muttering to herself. “Dangit, I know I saw her somewhere around here earlier…where did you go, Juniper?”

You blink, brain still processing the new arrival’s words, and greet her reflexively. “Um, hi there.” She knows Juniper?

“Yeah, hey, whatever.” The girl pushes past you unconcernedly, before halting and spinning back. “Say, I don’t suppose you’ve seen a particular maid anywhere around? Wavy dark hair, a tiny bit shorter than me? Talks like she’s the narrator of a movie about herself?”

“Um. Might have.” you say cautiously, sparing a glance towards the three behind you. Luna has picked herself up and is whispering with Sunny and Star, clearly having picked up the meaning behind this maid’s words. “What name would she be called by?”

“She’s Fennel, I’m Juniper.” the redhead responds glibly.

“…But you just were wondering aloud about where ‘Juniper’ went.” you argue, frowning.

“Huh? Oh, you heard that…I mean, no I didn’t. But, er, you’re right anyway, that was a slip of the tongue. I’m Fennel, she’s Juniper. Again, seen her anywhere?” ‘Fennel’ revises quickly.

“Uh, Hebe? Can you come here for a second?” Sunny calls, beckoning you back among them. Complying, you hear the familiar unnatural quiet associated with Luna’s use of her power.

“I say we get rid of her. One Juniper involved with us is already more than enough.” Sunny says immediately. “We’ll just tell her that we don’t have any idea who she’s talking about, and point her in the opposite direction.”

“Not that I don’t agree with the latter point, but let’s not be hasty here…” Star counters. “If we lead this Fennel girl to Juniper, we might be able to let her lead Juniper away from us too.”

“Uh…regardless of what we decide, you guys know that going silent and suddenly holding a private conversation, right after she asks about this, is bound to make us look pretty suspicious, right?” Luna points out.

“Apparently not.” you mutter, jabbing a finger in Fennel’s direction. The crimson-haired fairy is leaning idly against the wall, looking supremely unconcerned with your behavior.

You still should deal with her before you head into the library, though.

[ ] Convince Sunny that you should let Fennel tag along with you to meet Juniper.
-[ ] Because it might keep Juniper out of your hair.
-[ ] Because you could use a navigator once you leave the library.
-[ ] Because it’s the right thing to do.
[ ] Don’t mention your connection to Juniper, but let Fennel know that you saw her on the second floor.
[ ] Feign ignorance of both Juniper’s whereabouts and the girl in general, tell Fennel that you don’t have any idea what she’s talking about.
[ ] (Write-in.)
[x] Feign ignorance of both Juniper’s whereabouts and the girl in general, tell Fennel that you don’t have any idea what she’s talking about.
We ain't no snitch, see?
[x] Convince Sunny that you should let Fennel tag along with you to meet Juniper.
-[x] Because it might keep Juniper out of your hair.
-[x] Because you could use a navigator once you leave the library.

Lily Black... that explains the conflict of things.
[x] Convince Sunny that you should let Fennel tag along with you to meet Juniper.
-[x] Because it might keep Juniper out of your hair.
-[x] Because you have a burning urge to wash dishes.

Uhhh.. I kind of forgot about that whole washing dishes thing. This seems like a good excuse to meet up with the rest without arousing the three fairies' suspicion, after which we can all wash dishes together.

>chestnut gallery
Smiled. Like, slightly harder than I usually am while reading this story.
>betrayal in her eyes
Poor Star... Luna didn't start acting weird until she touched Hebe, I think? She should touch Sunny next. But she touched Dai and Cirno... but they're both Strong fairies, perhaps they could resist. ... And I just spent more time thinking about Cupid's arrow than anything substantial.
[X] Don't mention your connection to Juniper, but let Fennel know that you saw her on the second floor.
[x] Feign ignorance of both Juniper’s whereabouts and the girl in general, tell Fennel that you don’t have any idea what she’s talking about.

>She should touch Sunny next.
Why dose this make me want a Pimp-Ed picture of Hebe with a shit ton of fairies in her arms?
[x] Convince Sunny that you should let Fennel tag along with you to meet Juniper.
-[x] Because it might keep Juniper out of your hair.
-[x] Because it's the right thing to do.

So, are we assuming that Fennel's one of the friends Juniper mentioned as working in the mansion?
[X] Don't mention your connection to Juniper, but let Fennel know that you saw her on the second floor.

So, am I the only one that thinks that Sunny wasn't actually attacked by Lily White but rather Lily Black?
The update practically screamed that, yes. It could be a fakeout.
File 134713803982.png - (546.25KB, 583x496, stupid writefag self-indulgence.png) [iqdb]
Meant to call this last night, but I fell asleep first and then was busy earlier today.

Anyway, calling now for pragmatically justifying Fennel coming along.

You still have an hour or more before doing that job's really necessary.

Am I doing it right? Probably not, but that still took far too long, even if the idea was amusing.

If she isn't, Juniper might be in some trouble, eh?
File 134743883255.jpg - (158.02KB, 850x1375, fennel.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Convince Sunny that you should let Fennel tag along with you to meet Juniper.
-[x] Because it might keep Juniper out of your hair.

“Think I’m gonna have to go with Star on this one, Sunny.” you say.

“Really?” Luna asks, raising an eyebrow.

Really?” Star says a bit too enthusiastically, though she tones it down to a simple grin at your questioning glance.

“Wait, so you want to get Juniper away from us too?” Sunny asks doubtfully. “I kinda assumed that you’d be more against that- you know, being her friend and all.”

“Okay, so I don’t agree completely with what Star said.” you correct yourself. “But, well, I don’t see the harm in Juniper having another friend to occupy her attention, which I’m assuming Fennel here is-” You pause. “Actually, Luna, could you…?” You wave a hand vaguely at the invisible noise-field surrounding the four of you.

“Yeah, sure.” Luna’s thick blonde curls shake as she nods, and with a snap of her fingers the faint buzz of the mansion’s background noise returns to your ears.

You turn to the redhead separate from your group, currently leaning against the library doors. “Fennel, how do you know about Juniper, exactly? Are the two of you friends?”

“Huh?” The girl starts, looking up at you. Might have something to do with you being completely silent for the minute before that question. “Oh, Juniper and me? Yeah, we’ve been friends for lotsa years now, lived a few trees away from each other in the forest and hung out from there.”

“Right, thanks.” You turn back to your three friends, and a breath of Fennel’s is silenced mid-inhalation as Luna’s power manifests again.

“Anyway, back to what I was saying. It’s pretty obvious that you and Juniper don’t get along all that well, so… I wouldn’t exactly be happy if Fennel ended up taking her out of our hair, but it would probably be better for the mission. We have Lily to show us around the place, so Juniper- or Fennel herself, for that matter- wouldn’t really be necessary for that.”

“Well, I’m entirely fine with that.” Star says, smirking. “The sooner we get that girl firmly away from us, the sooner I can have you to myself~.” She punctuates her last word with a wink.

“Yes, obviously you’ll have her all alone to yourself. Except for Sunny, and Dai, and Cirno, and Lily still being here with you. And me, for that matter, but we don’t count, do we?” Luna says sweetly, fixing Star with a reproachful look.

“Well, maybe you don’t count for as much, for that matter,” Star smiles back at Luna, expression distinctly contrasting with her words. “But after all, I think that Hebe will be the one to decide that. Won’t you?” Star reaches an arm around your shoulders, giving you a squeeze.

“What? You glance from Star’s hand to her smiling face and back again. “I think that you both count for- that you’re both important, I guess. But I don’t really get just what I’m supposed to be deciding…”

“Oh, you will.” Star chimes, staring hard at Luna.
“Yes, I’m sure you will quite soon.” Luna agrees, eyes locked on Star’s own.

You really do enjoy this, then, don’t you?

And what do you mean by that?

You know. Seducing lovers away from their prior loyalties, without regard to how it would affect their own loved ones? Dangling a prize in front of unwary friends and watching them tear each other apart to get at it?

…You make it sound like I actively try to hurt people. But all I do is see that I receive the attention a woman of my status deserves, it’s not like-

“Luna, are you an’ Star just going to keep staring at each other like that, or can we, I dunno, actually tell this girl we’ll be bringing her along and start searching?” Sunny asks, tapping a foot impatiently on the ground.

“Yeah, yeah, all right Sunny.” Luna says, looking away from Star to slash a hand at her dampening curtain. “You want to do the honors, Hebe?”

You clear your throat. “All right, Fennel. The four of us do know Juniper, and we’d be willing to lead you to where she is-”

“Took ya long enough to decide that.” Fennel interrupts, rolling her eyes. “Whatever, lead the way, then.”

“No, I wasn’t finished. See, we have something else to take care of in the library right now, which we were already planning to do before you asked about Juniper. Now, if you come with us we’re still willing to lead you to your friend, but doing so will have to wait until later.” Whether “later” ends up meaning “after just a few minutes of searching here” or “not until you leave the library for dinner” can be decided…later.

“What, so I gotta just follow you around until you decide different? I literally just left the library, though, and it’s so boring.” Fennel complains.

“If you’d prefer to let us go and search the whole building for her yourself…” Sunny starts.

“Mm…nah, it’d be idiotic to try looking through this whole giant place. Fine, you got a deal, I’ll come with you.” Fennel turns in a half-circle to face the doors; with a grunt, she reaches up to grab both handles and heaves.

The old, solid doors slide open with a creaking rumble, and the four of you step past the entrance into the Voile Library. It’s huge, you observe immediately, eyes passing over dozens of tall wooden shelves as far as you can see in either direction, the whole area illuminated in a sort of half-light from windows on the ceiling above.

“Looks even better when it’s not in the middle of reconstruction…I wouldn’t mind coming back here to read sometime.” Luna says in hushed tones.

“Sometime other than the current time, though, we’ve got a search to do. Fairies of Light, move out!” Sunny orders, lifting off and flying forwards, quickly flanked by Star and Luna.

“…You’re just gonna fly straight in, then?” Fennel asks, backing away from your group ever so slightly. Hesitating, you slow down, staying closer to her than the others.

“Yeah, something wrong with that?” Sunny calls back over her shoulder as she advances.

“Aheh, no, of course not…well, you’ll see in a couple seconds anyway.”

“…What’s that supposed to mean-wah!” Sunny cries, as a buzzing sound fills the air and a radial pattern of green orbs sprays past her head. A glowing circle beneath Sunny’s feet fades away, and the girl’s menacing assailant emerges from the shelves: a hefty, dark, leather-jacketed…


“Did…did that book just shoot danmaku at us?” Luna asks incredulously, weakly lifting an arm to point.

“Apparently so, and not just the one…Heads up, three more there, there, and there.” Star responds, jabbing a finger at several similarly-sized tomes now levitating in mid-air, concentrating identical projectile patterns on herself and the other two. She lets out a small cry, likely more from surprise than pain, as an emerald marble grazes her cheek from behind: a look back reveals that the wall behind you is entirely covered in more books, with one space now visible about halfway up it.

“Okay, make that five total, one flanking us from behind. I’ll take the lone one to start, you guys manage the others.” Star spins around to lock her eyes on an assailant above your head, blue-rimmed star-shaped bullets pouring forth from her hands.

“Can’t you see them coming with your power, Star?” you ask, flying up to get a shot over the heads of Sunny and Luna, adding your own green and grey bullets to their own streams of orange and yellow spheres. This has the result of the opposing books shifting to include you in their targets, but you dodge their assault without much difficulty, the few near-misses glancing off you harmlessly.

“I could if they were alive, but these seem to just be regular ink-and-paper books, or as regular as can be considering what they’re capable of- now what are you laughing at?” Star asks, diverting her attention to the now visibly-snickering Fennel.

“Hehehe, nothing, just realizing that you guys are about as stupid as I thought. Don’t you know to avoid all the traps and guardians in this place?” Fennel asks, wearing an amused grin.

“These were not here when we last were!” Star defends herself, ducking away from the tome’s spread of bullets and focusing down her stream of tiny pentacles.

“Oh, please.” Fennel snorts. “Everyone knows these have been here practically since the mansion first came to Gensokyo. If you’re gonna lie, at least be less obvious about it, but it’s clear that you guys are new here.”

“Didn’t you just say there wasn’t anything wrong with going straight in, Fennel?” you ask, directing a sharp look down to the girl beside you. “If everyone knew about these attack-books, was that a less obvious lie of your own?”

“I might’ve fibbed a little, maybe.” she replies nonchalantly, “But it’s not like I could have really stopped you before you hit one, given how eager you all look.”

“I doubt that…well, maybe.” you admit. Sunny at least you could see as flying ahead regardless of this girl’s warnings. “That aside, though- how about what you told me about being Juniper’s friend? ‘Fibbing’, or the truth?”

“Oh, that? No, that really was me telling the truth, the two of us go way back,” Fennel quickly assures you. “…Honest,” she adds, practically an afterthought.

“Of course,” you mutter. Because she’s been setting such a good track record in that regard. Be wary of this one. Trusted friends and allies betraying you generally doesn’t happen without strong motivations and some considerable regret, but a near-stranger would lack those compunctions.

Fennel starts and whirls as a heavy thud comes from behind her, Star’s defeated opponent impacting the library floor, the starlight fairy not sparing it a glance before she turns to join you, Sunny, and Luna. “…Huh, even if you are new you’re pretty good at danmaku, looks like. A lot of us wouldn’t even be able to pierce the book-bouncers’ magical defenses.”

“Magical- well, I guess if the librarian animated these then she’d also want to protect them from harm. Were you planning on letting us know about those defenses, though?” Luna asks sharply.

“I assumed you’d notice when your bullets started bouncing off them, so then you’d want to run away quickly.”

“And, conveniently, take you where you want to go once we’d been scared away?” Sunny asks, frowning amidst her firing.

“Uh…no, I wouldn’t plan that, of course not.”

An exploding cluster of bullets from you propels one of the books into its shelf yards behind, whereupon it slides down to the ground, simultaneous blasts from Sunny and Star dealing the same fate to another. These aren’t remotely satisfying enemies to defeat. No challenge, no gain, nothing. What’s the point?

A scattering of tiny yellow diamonds with a rat-a-tat noise, and Luna huffs. “Well, I guess your nonexistent plan would have failed anyway, because these things really aren’t difficult to take down. Why doesn’t she enchant them to be better defended? Or if she wanted to make them really useful, shouldn’t she protect them against Mari- the witch’s Master Spark?” Luna asks, unharried as she draws the four remaining tomes’ attention away from the rest of you, flying in a lazy arc above and letting the green bullets stream past.

“One, I think making them more properly immune to bullets would be breaking the Spell Card rules. Two, nothing can protect against the witch’s Master Spark.” Fennel says flatly. “Not that Ms. Knowledge hasn’t tried, from what some of the library maids tell me, but that hasn’t led to anything but more burned books. She’s actually told all the books not to attack when the ‘black-white rat’ comes here, given that she isn’t exactly careful about what she hits with her laser, and Ms. Knowledge hates getting books crispy-fried way more than she hates having them stolen.”

“So why does she even-hah, yeah, book-burning time you little jerks!...Er, even still have these things?” Sunny asks, exulting as her fireballs drop your last two opponents- which do not, in fact burn, apparently at least defended against weaker fires. “Marisa is the only one that ever really breaks in here, right? But if she’s not going to use them on the important thief…”

“I’m not sure, but a couple girls I know who work here say it’s her equivalent of a Keep Out sign. Just, instead of having the words be there to be read by visitors, they deliver the message by shooting you down.“ Fennel explains, still contentedly hiding behind you in safety.

“Further proving that the old saying about wizards and subtlety is dead. Wrong.” Luna mutters.

“There’s separate maids for the library, then? I’m assuming you don’t work here yourself.” you ask, spraying a quick burst of pink bullets at one of the books that looks like it wants to get up again.

“Yeah, I’m just one of the general maids, like pretty much everyone here. The library ones have to both know how to read and be strong enough to put up at least a few seconds’ fight against the witch. And I never bothered learning to read, even if I’d qualify for the strength part.”

“Hypothetically speaking, does that mean you’d also be strong enough to match, say, one of the guardian books here?” Star asks as she flies back down to the floor, eyes flickering down briefly to a faintly glowing rectangle on the floor, a foot or less away from Fennel.

“What, these things? Uh…” A bead of sweat forms on Fennel’s forehead. “W-well, sure I could, like you said it’s not actually that hard to hurt ‘em. But, you four took all of them down, so it’s not like-” Whatever more she would have said is cut off by a bang, as several of Star’s bullets explode against the small of Fennel’s back and blast her forward, over the magical trigger. Fennel takes on a panicked look as four books come down to encircle her, and screams as they begin bombarding her with rotating green waves of danmaku.

Star observes her handiwork with a small, satisfied smile.

“…Was that really necessary?” you ask. Things don’t need to be necessary to be amusing, you know.

“Sure it was. I wanted to see if she was fibbing to us again.” Star snickers as Fennel’s panicked toss of bullets ricochets off one of the books and slams back into her face. “Oh, look at that, seems that she was. What a shame.”

“Well, she’ll know not to do it again at least.” Sunny observes, chuckling. “And come on, Hebe, look at her try to deal with them, it’s funny.”

It is a rather comical sight, you admit guiltily, watching Fennel dodge and jump frantically out of the way of bullets, making panicked attempts to fly out of the bullet waves only to have escape routes closed by more lime spheres. Still, you’re certain that watching this, or letting it happen at all, isn’t productive in the slightest.

With a deep breath, you close your eyes for a split second, focusing on the positions of the circling books around Fennel, and thrust out your hand towards them with a wordless shout. A stream of brown and tan spheroids flows forward, splitting into two and then branching off again into four separate jagged lines. Your central bullet cylinder’s “growth” stops just shy of Fennel, but the individual branches connect with each tome menacing her and continue their rapid extension out and down, slamming the books conclusively down into the floor.

“Aww, you’re no fun.” Star says lightheartedly, watching Fennel pick herself up and make her way woozily over towards you as your pattern dissipates.

Not that I have qualms with its effectiveness, but you don’t really need to use that danmaku technique, you know. I have ones that are actually mine which I could show you-
Ignore her, use whatever you want. Especially if what you want is to use that pattern, or the same kinds of bullets you have been.

“What the heck was that?” Fennel splutters into Star’s politely neutral face. “Those things almost killed me!”

“Gosh, really? And here I was so sure you could handle them,” Star smiles back at her. “Too bad that I didn’t have any way of knowing otherwise, isn’t it?”

The angered redhead responds with a hard shove to Star’s sternum, her hands’ brief glow and crackling indicating that the blow delivered bullets as well. Star stumbles backwards with a gasp, sitting down on a pentagram and cursing as five new books pop off the shelves to fly towards her.

“Ah, now we’ve gotta deal with those ones too. Come on, Fennel, can’t you take a joke?” Sunny complains, before blinking and ducking an outpouring of bullets from the other girl’s hand, the waylaid red spheres continuing in flight to

“Wait, so…the normal books respond to individual threats too? Crap…” Luna observes, worried gaze now on the bookshelf, and trailing over the sheer number of books within close range of your attacks. “Um, guys, this could escalate really quickly and even more badly if we aren’t careful, can’t we all just calm down for a minute and-”

“Oh, thanks for the tip Luna, think I might follow Fennel’s lead then.” Sunny says, cracking her knuckles. “We just did see how good you are at dodging four books’ attacks, kid, let’s see how you do against another dozen!” She swipes her hand through the air, bullets coming out in a wide arc and bursting against the contents of several shelves, which come to life like their brethren and open fire on Sunny and Fennel both.

The air fills rapidly with clouds of bullets whirring and whizzing everywhere, salvos from your friends and foes alike flying about, many impacting harmlessly against the floor and shelves but a sizable amount hitting more books and further escalating things. The central shelves quickly empty almost completely, and you can hardly see anything in the resultant sea of emerald chaos, as you try to dodge and weather the worst of the assault. Or, for that matter, notice the source of a barely-audible clicking sound underneath the tumult.

It is noticeable, however, when the dozens of tomes abruptly cease their fire and halt in midair, the thousands of bullets cast by them petering out. Your flight slows to a halt, and you glance around. The other fairies have stopped shooting their own bullets, though everyone seems to have taken their fair share. Fennel looks practically dead on her feet, Luna in nearly as bad a condition and Sunny and Star only slightly better off. Everyone’s outfits are ripped and shredded nearly beyond recognition by the numerous bullets tearing through them, and you doubt that you’re in any better shape yourself.

“…Why’d it stop?” Sunny asks to no one, anyone. A light flashes from one of the shelves- it reminds you, fleetingly, of the flash when Dai used her Spell on Yuuka.

A rumbling begins emanating from your surroundings, and a woman’s voice fills the air, although from no discernible source. “Spellcard physically destroyed, contingent spell release imminent. Wood-Fire Sign: Seasonal Reorganization.”

“…Anyone know what that’s supposed to be?” you say aloud, voice carried upwards to the others’ midair vantage points.

“Well, it’s obviously a Spell Card- of the librarian’s, almost certainly- but I don’t get how or why you’d use a spell to reorganize-” Luna’s words are interrupted by a smack, as one of the books beside her accelerates without warning, clipping her face and flying down a hallway between two shelves.

“Ugh- what the heck?” The blonde grabs another accelerating book firmly in her hands, scanning its cover. “A Treatise on Western Metaphysical Evocations by G. Aarindarius, okay, so why is it flying past-[i[b]whoa![/i]/b]” Luna’s arms snap out straight as the book tugs sharply on them, and zips away, by all appearances physically pulling Luna with it at high speed.

“H-hey! Luna!” Sunny calls futilely after her, flying a few feet in the same direction before the rumbling from around you reaches a crescendo and every surrounding book launches off its perch, two stacks hitting Sunny around the shoulders and waist and carrying her off in a different direction, sweeping the fairy along in a tide of migrating ink and paper.

Veritable clouds of books follow suit, exiting this section of the library to fly off in one direction or another, never striking one another but not caring what else they carried with them. From the bottom shelves of the surrounding bookcases, there are also what looks to be several thousand heavy tomes imminently headed towards you.

“Hebe, get out of there!” Star calls to you, flying down with an arm outstretched before she is bodily intercepted by several flying books, quickly being swept away.

You crouch low, flattening yourself to the ground and ducking beneath the rushing of volumes above you. The air currents attempt to tug your wings up among them, but you strain and press them down to your back, not wanting to have a delicate part of your anatomy torn off by these low-altitude missles.

After a minute or more of remaining in that position, the exodus of books eventually stops, and the gale-force winds with them. Glancing around, you tentatively stand up again. The books from this section of the library all seem to have vanished, off to other areas within its depths.

…Okay, so it looks like that was the last of th-

A heavy, entirely too solid object smashes abruptly and viciously into the back of your skull, and you black out.
[ ] Dream.
[ ] Remember.
[ ] Converse.
If this update seems odd at all (which the last part, at least, probably does), I blame a fatigued state of mind during the entirety of its writing process.
[x] Remember.
Because I want plot, damnit, and I want it without having to listen to Mokou and Kaguya.
[x] Dream.

I rather like Mokou and almost-certainly-Kaguya, but I like Yuuka more. A dream-sequence would be a nice consolation prize if that hunch isn't correct.

I'm getting the feeling that I should be recognizing danmaku patterns, but I haven't played the games enough.
[x] Dream

Flying books. Flying books everywhere; incluind in your face~
[x] Remember.
How did I not see this? They must have done something stupid during their last battle, killed us, and when [Resurrection] triggered, trapped them inside of us. I would vote for Remember, but being amnesiac is more interesting for plot potential.

[X] Dream/Converse - Meet our voices face to face, and start to train at the speed of thought!
[X] Remember.

Ooh, what a nice tale this is! This caught my eye on a bored whim just now, and I read a bit expecting another cookie cutter story, but was very pleasantly surprised. As for the choice, there's certainly enough awesome stuff going on here in the present that dragging out the whole "whoooo amnesia, ~cryptic remarks~, I wonder who these mysterious voices could be" thing seems pretty unnecessary. As for how to make time... like your writing! Get yourself hyped for it, promote your own story to yourself. You want to see what happens next, right? You have to write it! Talk about the story with friends and other people, if you can and if that helps - if nothing else, you can find enthusiastic authors like Fell and HY on IRC, and ask them to read your story and discuss it.
[] Dream
[x] Dream.

>if nothing else, you can find enthusiastic authors like Fell and HY on IRC, and ask them to read your story and discuss it.

No offense to the writefag, but why exactly would they even be interested in doing that? In my experience IRC is for conversations on vidya and danbooru links, never really anything like stories. Plus asking someone to read your story would come off as rather desperate to me.
Calling for a dream scene, as opposed to your dream team or past pipe dreams.

It's still early enough in the day that, in my view, Yuuka would be out and about rather than in Mugenkan. Assuming you sleep later at any conventional sort of time, though, there will be a Yuuka option. Additionally, I haven't been too stringent with bullet pattern accuracy, though I will be working on that.

Nice to see a new reader; glad to see you're enjoying the story so far, thanks for your comments, praise, and advice. To respond to a couple things, I do (more or less) like my writing, or at least what I've worked out about the story so far. And I don't really have anyone to discuss the story with, I admit, but I suppose going on IRC more again could help with that (and/or finding someone to serve as an editor, which I've been meaning to do for a while).
I've actually just started reading this.

I like stories.
Welp. Inb4 everyone else starts asking HY to read their stories.
[X] Remember.
Kindly look to see whether a vote's been called before voting. Or at the very least, sage if the last post was three days previously.
>Sunny complains, before blinking and ducking an outpouring of bullets from the other girl’s hand, the waylaid red spheres continuing in flight to

There seems to be something missing here.
[x] Remember.
For anyone flocking to this upon seeing the bump- yes, it's a false alarm for an update right this moment, but there will be a genuine update within the next 8 hours. To >>54555: the vote was already called here >>54505, though I'll try to make it a bit clearer when I call in the future.

Dammit. Yes, that sentence was supposed to include a conclusion about the bookshelves' idle books being hit and their starting to attack in return, thus prompting Luna's comment.

And again, sorry for the eternal delays. I wish I had waited to call until "Remember" had won, that would have been a much easier update to write.
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[x] Dream.

There’s no conscious experience of waking up, or even falling asleep- but as you pass into unconsciousness, the darkness encroaching on your field of vision softens somehow- lightens, despite how paradoxical that seems. You can see far and clearly in this new darkness, cloaking eyelids no longer the barriers of your vision, though you couldn’t pick out any one change between your new sight and that of a moment’s ago.

You blink, and rub your eyes in an attempt to clear them, before pausing mid-gesture and dropping both hands back to your sides, deigning merely to continue looking around.

A bleak, black and overwhelmingly blank expanse surrounds you on all sides, with no features discernible beyond the void. You shuffle around in a half-turn to see more of the same, and shiver at the sensations on the soles of your bare feet. Glancing down for the first time, you realize that you’re standing on a featureless expanse of some golden-brown metal, smooth and cool to the touch, shifting ever so slightly under your movement.


Deciding to investigate further, you walk over towards the edge of this metal plain, reaching it and peering over. A long strip of the same material dips down and away into the distance, connecting to some elaborate centerpiece and reaching another arm out to a swinging circular disc- matching your own location, you realize.

There are several indistinct shapes- figures? on the other side, weighing it down below your vantage point. You can’t quite identify them from this distance, though…

“I wouldn’t bother trying to make sense of it,” an airy voice comes from behind you. You whirl about to face a smiling girl of golden eyes and hair, in a maid outfit similar to your own- a red ascot standing out from pink and blue frills. Your surprise seems to cause her some measure of amusement, though the dutiful expression she wears makes it difficult to gauge the extent of this.

Over the maid’s shoulder, there hovers another girl whose face is similar enough that for a moment you suspect your eyes of playing tricks on you- but reassuring differences pop out quickly. This second girl’s mouth is pursed in a stern line contrasting with her sister’s smile, and her hair holds a crimson bow where the first has a white headdress. The second girl’s pink and white dress lacks the same serving-girl air that her counterpart’s has, as well.

She’s also sporting an impressively elegant pair of feathery white wings, although the lack of movement from these indicates that they’re not what’s keeping her aloft. Looking on them makes you feel…diminished in some way, though you’re not sure why.

“Who are you?” you ask, surprise fading away to be replaced with curiosity. “I don’t recognize either of you- why are you in…my dream, is what I’m guessing this is?”

“My name is Mugetsu, and I’ll be your tour guide to the World of Dreams this fine evening.” The blue maid responds, dipping her head and tugging her dress’s hem in a small curtsy. “I’ll have to ask that you keep all limbs inside the perimeter of your dream-manifestation: it’s quite a long way down, after all.”

“Doubt that those spindly wings’ll be able to save you from falling, f’r that matter.” The winged girl adds on gruffly, rubbing her nose. Your mouth opens reflexively to defend yourself and the most important parts of your anatomy, but the sight gleaned from an instinctive glance backwards makes the retort wither and die in your mouth.

Your wings have changed. Their lime-green luster has been all but bleached away, and any hint of the darker traceries has vanished. Not only that, but the breadth and shape of your wings have shrunken and simplified, reducing the organs to a simple pair of single-segmented, too-pale transparent sheets. Compared to your normal wings, these look as if a stiff wind could blow them off.

…Your head feels oddly empty, as well, you note as an afterthought.

“And it’s not evening, sis, just so y’know. The kid here must’ve nodded off early, or had someone else do that for her.” Mugetsu’s sister continues, and you glance away from your back just in time to meet her eyes. “…Probably the latter, considerin’ how roughed up she’s looking.” she adds, floating sideways and gesturing at you with a circling hand.

“Ah, yes, you’re right, Gengetsu.” The maid nods, eyes darting from tear to tear in your clothing. “What happened to you, then? Ran afoul of some powerful youkai who defeated you in battle, and the stress of that made you faint?”

“Um, well. Actually, I got knocked out by a book.” you admit, rubbing your head as your two speaking partners’ expressions shift from “curiously inquisitive” to “incredulously disappointed”. They turn as one away from you, muttering.

“A book? Really? Come on, that’s like getting into a brawl with bombs n’ bullets and being knocked out by running into the other girl’s fist.”

“Well, she is a fairy, that level of weakness is hardly unprecedented among her kind.”

“Yeah, but it’s pretty damn unprecedented among the people Yuuka takes interest in. Are we sure this is even the right fairy?”

“…It was a magic book.” you add on lamely, sweat beading on your forehead. Couldn’t they at least whisper if they’re going to talk about you like that?...You frown, the significance of Gengetsu’s words registering. “How do the two of you know Yuuka? And that she’s- interested in me, I suppose- for that matter?” you add, wondering just what the latter words mean. “I am Hebe, just so you know, in case there’s some other fairy Yuuka told you to watch out for.”

“Well, huh. Guess that answers that.” Gengetsu says, giving her sister a sidelong glance but not answering you further.

“No, not quite…but I’ll get to the rest in just a moment, sister.” Mugetsu cautions, eyes flickering from and to your own. “Yuuka paid my sister and myself a visit earlier today- she’s the only youkai who knows how to do so, crossing over into this world -”

“Not to mention that she knows how the whole dimension works better than my weak little sister, the one who created it in the first place-”

And, as I was saying…” Mugetsu snaps, voice rising for the first time. “Since Yuuka is, yes, knowledgeable about the ins and outs of our little world; nobody should be entering here without her permission- or ours, of course, but as we’d never give it that’s a moot point really.” She coughs delicately. “As such, if Yuuka had wanted you yourself to come here then she would have given you some…item granting means of access, some token of her power. And if you don’t have such an item on you…well, then we might have a problem.” Her eyes harden.

“Er.” You’re stumped, momentarily, trying to remember when Yuuka might have given you something like that- then realization strikes, and you rummage a hand quickly in your dress’s torn-up pocket. With a sigh of relief, you withdraw the cherry blossom you’d exchanged with Yuuka, transferred over to this outfit when you changed. “This is my best guess.”

Mugetsu scrutinizes the blossom for a second before nodding, and breathes a quiet sigh of her own. “Yes, that matches up with what Yuuka told me- good. I hadn’t really considered it likely that some random fairy had breached our defenses to enter here, but if that had happened it would be quite worrying.”

“If that was your best guess…didja have another guess for what Yuuka gave you, too?” Gengetsu asks.

“Well, she did kiss me…” you admit, rubbing your head. “But that didn’t seem as likely a method, especially because proving or demonstrating it to you would be kinda-”

“No, no, that actually seems exactly like the kind of thing Yuuka would do.” Gengetsu says, straight-faced. Well, mostly straight-faced, she’s not above cracking a smirk at the blush now rising on Mugetsu’s cheeks. “She knows how long Sis and I’ve been cooped up alone in here, so I wouldn’t put it past her to try and use you as a little present.”

…You’re glad you just went with the flower, all things considered. “If that was the case, it still wouldn’t seem like a great way of proving that she’d given me the power to come here. What, would you be supposed to read it off my lips?”

“You’d be surprised, actually: energy can be transferred through mere touches or greater acts of intimacy, and…” A pink tongue flicks out across Gengetsu’s lips. “…Well, Yuuka has had some rather extended visits with the two of us. I think we’ve both shared enough with her to be able to recognize her power on you, if ya catch my drift…”

“Regardless!” Mugetsu clears her throat loudly. “We’ve established that she is the one Yuuka sent here, and not an intruder, so-”

“You said that already, but do you really think someone could just find this place? Your own private world?” you cut in, drawing a scowl from the maid.

“It has happened before- with two far more skilled and powerful than yourself, but yes.” Mugetsu says crisply. “But Yuuka helped us seal the entry portal causing the last intrusion-”

“Damn that witch and miko- they cheated, I’m telling you, they must have, there’s no way they could’ve beaten my finishing move legitimately…”

“-which was necessary, because there are some people who are likely still hunting for us, but blocked from here. People who motivated me to create this dream haven in the first place.” Mugetsu continues, disregarding her sister’s mutterings.

“…Who were they?”

“Sis and I are from the moon, originally- it’s why we have these names, you know.” Gengetsu says idly, and for a moment you wonder if she even heard your question. “But we weren’t the only ones who wanted to live there, you see- we had some neighbors who wanted the place to themselves. Ridiculously powerful neighbors, who didn’t take no for an answer.”

“But that’s a story to be told another time, if ever- considering that right now, you’re fading.” Mugetsu

“What?” You blink.

“Fading. Vanishing. Disappearing. Departing.” Gengetsu rolls her eyes. “Waking up, from your incredibly short-lived book-induced coma. Even accounting for time flowing a bit differently in here…”

Looking down, you observe that your body is, indeed, turning distinctly more transparent. “Wait, wait, that’s it?” you ask. “I get shoved into this weird place, meet the two of you, then get thrown out again before I even find out why I’m supposed to be here? What gives?”

“You arrived here earlier than we expected- Yuuka was supposed to be with us in time to meet you, and she will be tonight. But she did tell me at least a part of why she wants you here- to deliver a warning.

Your life is in danger, Hebe.


You shake your head, denying Mugetsu’s words- what she’s saying is clearly impossible. You know that, something deep within you assures you of it.

“No, either you or she has to be mistaken about that, don’t you? There isn’t anything that could put my life in danger, real permanent danger, right?-”

Wrong.” Mugetsu’s unyielding tone leaves zero room for doubt. “Something has put you, genuinely, at risk of dying. I do not understand how, nor why, but Yuuka was clear on that point.”

“But-” you start, before the world pulls itself away from you, and your voice can no longer reach them. The red, white, yellow and blue of the girls coalesces into a all-encompassing grey, swiftly fading to black.

“…Good day, Hebe.”
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Your eyes creak open in the half-light of the library’s depths. With a groan, you prod absently at the tender back of your head- you can’t feel even a bump remaining from the impact prior to your stint of unconsciousness, and idly think that the natural healing Star mentioned must be responsible for that. Still hurts, though.

Another thought strikes you; twisting your neck around in a manner rather more quickly than is actually a good idea, you sigh in relief as your eyes take in the sight of your wings- restored to their normal glory. Unfortunately, this internal reassurance does little to alleviate the aching all along the outside of your head.

…A book. Defend successfully against kicks and punches, ridiculous chi attacks, enormous numbers of individual bullets and even some obscure disease, but a single blow from a ten-pound block of paper and we’re taken down in an instant.

Oh, will you shut up about it already? It’s not like either of us is even used to dealing with so many genuine dangers, and that caught all of us by surprise, not just me.

Yes, but you’re the only one who’d appointed herself to defense, correct? And honestly, that amount of carelessness- or is it weakness?- really sheds some light on why you lost.

That was a completely different situation, in too many ways to count…Look, if you come up with a way to concentrate every waking moment and maintain a perfect awareness of any and all threats, then feel free to tell me, but otherwise shut up.

Not helping matters, you reflect, is the painful racket now restored to the inside of your head.

Oh, well that’s nice. Yes, very well, I’ll be quiet.

Looking up, you find that your surroundings have changed noticeably- for one thing, thankfully the chaotic mess of books and bullets is no longer filling the air, but you’re also in a far more enclosed space than the library’s entrance hall- somewhere in the middle of two long rows of bookshelves, now once again neatly filled with their rightful inventories.

At a guess, you’d say that a second tempest of books (the forerunner of which unceremoniously knocked you out) came from another area of the library and carried you here. Wherever here is.

…Wait a second, what do you mean “restored”?

You scan the rows upon rows of books, quickly remembering that your goal here was to find something useful in the library. Just as quickly, you come to the conclusion that even if any of these tomes contained information that could help, the time needed to read through all of them would make any attempts horribly impractical. Best to just try and figure out where you are.

Wandering forward amongst the walls of paper and wood, your ears prick up as you hear some voices filtering through the cracks.

“…I swear, Koa, this is why when I tell you to deal with the racket up in the front of the library, it is imperative that you actually follow my orders.” You identify a soft, mostly toneless woman’s voice tinged with annoyance, sounding vaguely familiar.

“Look, neither of us knew there was any more of a problem than some maids, for the umpteenth time, forgetting about why they shouldn’t come in here and setting off your supervillain defense system. Which, according to your own words, would overwhelm any fairies and resolve situations without our needing to deal with them.” A higher, younger-sounding voice this time, sounding not so much annoyed as exasperated.

Attempting to pinpoint the location of the now nearby voices, you almost miss a discrepancy in the shelves beside you, but your eye is nevertheless caught by a small alcove. Upon seeing the small but noticeable gap in the rows of books, you crouch down and push them aside- revealing a roughly fairy-sized crawlspace, which you duck inside, pushing your head forward. On the far side of the shelf, through a far thinner gap between two books, you peer into a room with two women around a square wooden table.

“And it would have done that if a certain lazy, absentminded familiar hadn’t left one of my important Spell Cards laying around where anything could, and did, destroy it!” The first voice shouts (you identify it as belonging to the seated woman with long purple hair and paler raiments), slamming her book down onto the table. Oh, so that’s why you recognized her –this woman, the librarian’s voice is the same one that was projected everywhere a short while ago, prior to the “restructuring” spell. Can’t really blame you for forgetting that, given all that happened immediately afterward.

“…And incidentally, calling it that is rather insulting, Koa. Most fictional antagonists’ lairs have their fortifications critically flawed in some manner that allows a small group of generally inept and unqualified protagonists to enter, despite ostensibly being designed specifically to prevent such an incursion. My defenses are far too intelligently built to allow such a flaw.”

“Except for the flaw of being too weak to even slow Marisa down before she robs you blind.” You hear a heavy, resigned sigh, and the second girl walks around to the first’s side, leaning down onto the table beside her.

This has the side effect of orienting the second girl’s bewinged back and lower body towards your viewing spot. You’re provided with a close-up view of long black stockings clinging high up onto perfectly toned thighs, leaving two tanalizing areas of pale flesh bare. The bare skin reaches up to a round ass clad in tight black panties, exposed to you by her riding-up black dress, and all framed by cascading red hair.

You hear a low, appreciative whistle.

…After a moment of brief panic, within which neither of the two women before you react, you realize with mixed relief and annoyance that the one responsible for that whistle was inside your own head. Said someone was, likewise, responsible for the majority of those observations. Huhu. Guilty. I’d normally give you flak over that, but…wow.

“Patchy, it is not a big deal. Seriously. Winter’s practically done with, spring should be here in what, a few days? A week? Can’t your precious system deal with being a week ahead of time? You’ve got the whole damn layout of this place memorized anyway, any possible layout.” The girl wiggles as she speaks, showing you some intriguing gyrations.

“That’s not the point, Koa, the point is that you were the one responsible for leaving an important possession of mine in a vulnerable location, which led directly to unnecessary chaos and complications. Thus, once again, proving yourself irresponsible and incompetent , nearly to the level of the fairy maids themselves.” The lilac lady huffs. “…Ah, well. Bring me a fresh pot of tea, familiar. This batch has gone cold.”

“Yes, O great and powerful master. I live to serve.” The redhead grumbles, both sets of bat-wings beating as she flies off and around a shelf’s corner.

You passively note the “master” slouching forwards at the table, coughing and turning the pages of a book. Passively because your mind is suddenly full of chatter, and you grimace.

Goodness, who was that girl? I swear, what I wouldn’t have given for the freedom to reach out and take a squeeze just then…hey, do you suppose you could move a couple of these books? Just to make a space we could reach through, for when she comes back.

No, of course not. How do you think she’d react if I- um, hey, you. Other voice. Back me up here?

Sorry, but in this case I don’t think I can. To answer your question, she’d most likely react quite encouragingly if you did it right. I can show you how, too, just firmly cup both cheeks and-

Gah, no! There will be no ‘cupping’ of the librarian’s assistant! you think forcefully, rubbing your throbbing temples.

Hmph. What’s gotten into you? I thought we were making some progress with the other girls, and all of a sudden you’re being such a killjoy. Come on, you have to admit that the girl’s incredibly attractive, from an objective standpoint.

No. …Maybe. How do I know you’re not just messing with my head?

I assure you, in a case like this, there’s no need to. Oh, she’s back!

Your eyes flick up to the crack again as the redheaded servant returns, smiling to herself as she carries a tray in front of her chest, and slides the tray across the table, white pot atop it sloshing. “One fresh pot of tea, master. I guarantee that this one hasn’t gone cold.” Her lips flicker upwards. “Mind if I go and investigate things elsewhere? I’ll see if any of our intruding perpetrators are still in the library.”

“Hmm? Oh, yes, go ahead.” The librarian waves a hand absently, turning another page of her book. The redhead carefully pours a steaming cup of tea and sets it down, head-wings twitching, before she flies out of your sight. Aww.

The purple-clad librarian hums quietly to herself, flipping pages and raising the teacup to her mouth half-consciously, taking a relaxed gulp- before she freezes up, fingers clenching around the cup, which she lowers slowly back to the tabletop, hand trembling- no, her whole body’s trembling now, book and teacup both rattling against the table.

…What is she-

With a heaving roar- or perhaps a roaring heave- a wave of fire spews forth from the librarian’s mouth, engulfing the table before her and igniting the dry wood with a roar. The teapot bursts with a ringing crack, its contents spilling out into the flames and exploding into another fireball, teacup doing the same in miniature.

The book clatters to the ground unharmed, as the librarian doubles over, still retching flames everywhere, and you duck back into your crevice as a stray burst over the floor singes your nose.

…Um. Did the assistant just-

It would seem so. Little firebrand, isn’t she?

The pyromaniac, or the dragon wannabe?


A thick stream of water pours out over the scene before you, throwing up a hissing cloud of steam. It obscures all sight of the room, but you can hear the librarian coughing as the steam dissipates.

“Ugh, what-koff, koff- what is… W-what did you put in this? Sulfur? Bat guano? Koakuma, you disrespectful little harlot, when I get my hands on you- well, you’ll regret pulling this on a Tuesday, I mark you that...” the lilac librarian calls, as she spins about searching her surroundings.

“Ring of Agni, Saint Elmo’s Pillar, Lava Cromlech…let’s do an experiment about fire’s purifying effects on demons, shall we?” Coughing out a last puff of smoke, the librarian propels herself up and out of your sight.

And what we learn today is that you should never assume that there is only one pyromaniac in any given setting.

Day’s still young; I nominate the girl who’s made fires that last an eternity.

Hey, I don’t do it wantonly.

I’m a little more concerned with getting caught on fire myself. How likely do you think that this little hideaway is findable-

“Oh damn, Patchy’s mad.” You jump, or begin to before slamming your head into wood paneling, as you hear the batty girl’s voice from a moment ago, and whirl to see her crouched a few inches away from you. Where did she come from?

It seems you’ve found your way into a hiding place of hers, and her startled gasp which makes that gorgeous chest of hers move quite interestingly no, stoppit indicates that this is news to her as well. “Whoa, what’re you doing in- actually, never mind that. Keep quiet, would you? I don’t think Patchy’ll care unduly about roasting a maid if she finds one here with me.”

Those words don’t exactly endear you to the idea of staying here- you flinch as a bang and whoosh of flame sound out, accompanied by a shouted curse- but moving out into the open seems likely to be even worse, so you comply with a nod and whisper. “Looks like you practically roasted her mouth and throat, yourself.”

The girl chuckles. “Oh, so you saw that? Heheheh, classic. She should really know better than to store her spell ingredients with her teas, almost makes things too easy.” She shakes her head, snickering quietly. “Anyway, I’m called Koakuma while on this plane, or Koa for short, but I’m sure you’ve known that for a while.” Koa says, last words half a question.

“…Well, no, actually. I only started working here recently.” you admit, glossing over exactly how recent that was. You don’t seem very little at all is another thought that occurs to you, but one you refrain from voicing.

“Uh huh. I’m guessing you were one of the girls responsible for that mess up front, then?” Koa asks, eyes travelling over your shredded maid dress- you get the distinct sense that she can see everything available, despite the near-darkness of this enclosed space. “Well, looks like Patchy’s anti-intruder ‘superior firepower’ idea worked, then, at least on you- although not as well as we thought, most everyone else would’ve outright died.”

…You decide to just assume that one was accidental. “Doesn’t sound like you think that would be any big loss. Dying’s still going to hurt, though, even for fairies like us.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t care overly much about most fairies like you. Pretty much all the maids avoid me, bunch of rumor-mongering brats. Always going on about how ooh, the big scary succubus is going to eat their souls if she touches them the wrong way. And I don’t think most of them even know what they mean by that!”

“…Wait a second, you eat souls?” you ask, backing away in the approximate square inch of space you have remaining. Ugh, I knew it was too good to be true.

“No! Well, not any more. …Not much anymore, at least.” she amends twice under your askance look. “See, for whatever arbitrary reason, Mo- er, Shinki, the one who created me and Makai’s other succubi, and demons in general, created us so that sleeping with men drains their souls, but not women. We’re not really sure why, but it’s probably because she was trying to enforce heteronormativity– she made incubi among us too, after all, though it’s not like anyone ever hears of them.”

“Er, wouldn’t she be trying to enforce the behavior that she didn’t link with soul-eating?” you ask. “Just seems to me like that would make more sense.” Don’t count on that. Demons don’t think like you or I, atrocities hold a different place in their system of morality.

“Well, she…I…huh.” Koa puts a hand to her chin, drumming her fingers in thought. “That’s a good point, actually. Even though she was the demon realm’s overlord, Mom never seemed too keen on any of the more devilish stuff we got up to.” …Of course, the demonic races are hugely varied and constrained within their own dimension, so being wholly familiar with all of them is nearly impossible. Still can’t just say you were wrong, huh?

Oblivious to your inner dialogue, Koa continues with her reminiscing. “She was always all ‘Elis, sweetie, wouldn’t you prefer some fresh-baked cupcakes to those human hearts?’ or ‘Sara, I’m glad you’re having fun bashing the trespassers’ heads together, but you can let a few of them live if you want to,’ or…well, you get the picture.”

“You kept going out and doing those things, though?” you ask, shuddering slightly at the mental images conjured up by your brain at Koa’s descriptions. Wait a second, how is that even happening? I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen any dismembered human bodies before. Maybe you haven’t, no…

“Hey, I am a succubus, it’s kind of in my nature. The youkai actually eat humans, due to theirs, y’know. At least I give my victims a happier ending, right?” Her lip curls up in a grin. Oh, that’s in rather bad taste, but…huhuhu. Pun not intended, I hope.

“But Patchy has made me stop since eating humans has gotten less common, so I haven’t actually had an outlet for those urges in the last few years- there’s no men here in the mansion, obviously. And since Patchy won’t let me screw her herself, I’ve been trying to channel my pent-up energy into screwing with her instead, to keep from dying of boredom working here.”

“And she hasn’t thought to…make you stop working here, if that’s how you act?” you ask, eyebrows raised. “By whatever mean’s necessary, doesn’t seem to me like she’d have many qualms with the more unethical methods.

“Aw, Patchy’s not that bad, she just really acts on it when she’s pissed. And no, she can’t fire me, or do anything too bad to me. I have a hundred year contract, after all.” Koa shrugs.

“And that’s all that’s needed to protect you?”

“It is when it’s a genuine devil’s contract, signed in the blood of the summoner and not to be broken lest the wrath of Shinki, Queen of Makai, descend upon the lawless magician!” Koa proclaims, eyes glowing crimson as her voice takes on an ominous tone, before she sighs and droops, head-wings fluttering sadly.

“…Course, that’s a bit of a double-edged sword, given that it means I’m stuck with her too if I don’t want to face the infernal grounding of a lifetime. And just my luck, I got summoned by what has to be the only wizard in existence who isn’t an enormous pervert. I could deal with the normal kind- even the ones with the really weird kinks would run out of stamina within minutes, it’s practically a rule with the feeble bastards, and that’d still be more than enough to keep ‘em wrapped around my finger. But Patchy?” Koa shakes her head wearily.

“Patchy, Patchy, Patchy…she just won't open up to me, no matter what I try. I can’t find anything to get her interested- this form, a MILF form, a loli form- and I really thought that last one might work, considering her and Remi, but no. Reverse trap, shota trap, genuine male forms, futanari, inanimate objects- long story,” she adds at your stare.

“Not to mention any and every fetish or kink known to mankind, womankind, and succubuskind, and trust me, there’s things in that last category that would make your brain explode if you heard them. Hell, that itself’s one of the milder ones, but trying it didn’t get me anywhere except an order to clean the rug extra thoroughly once I reformed. And, after decades of work trying all of that, guess what I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing.”

Koa slams a fist into the shelf’s floor, then slumps backwards against the wall, sighing. “I can’t think of anything except that she’s a complete asexual, but- but then why would she summon a godsdamned succubus in the first place?”

You had some…difficulty, to say the least, following all of that, so you just nod, doing your best to ignore the subvocal snickering now filling your mind.

Koa gives you a sideways glance and sighs. “…Aah, dammit, I’m sorry. I really don’t know why I’m ranting to you about... well, any of this really, it’s not like you’re exactly the ideal audience. You’re just a fairy, not like you’d be interested in even the most normal of this stuff, right?”

That’s quite a loaded question, with several influences pushing at your response– not the least of which is your pressing awareness that Koa’s body is still very close by your own.
[ ] Moving on to the next topic:
-[ ] "So, what's to stop me from calling out to your master and telling her that you're hiding here?"
-[ ] “I guess, yeah. Tell me more about working here?”
-[ ] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”
-[ ] "The ways you’ve been messing with your master sound tame. If she’s going to get all uppity about you misplacing her Spell Cards, you should get rid of some much more valuable possession and see how she reacts to that.”
[ ] …You’ll get to the above questions, but before you do:
-[ ] “I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?”
-[ ] “And what would you say if I was interested, for that matter?”
-[ ] Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.
This update once again proving why I shouldn’t write late at night.

Koa’s question was originally going to read “any of this stuff”, but then I realized that might lead some very strange places which I’m not going to explore further than as a joke. So yeah.
-[x] “And what would you say if I was interested, for that matter?”
Or curious, rather.
Also, if you keep giving us pervert options we'll never get anywhere with the plot.
Not that that's a problem or anything.
[x] …You’ll get to the above questions, but before you do:
-[x] “I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?”

Yes. This is the best source for love advice. This succubus right here. The other options expressing interest are obviously voice-inspired. Considering the dream warning... I believe personality rewriting is a serious danger. That seems to be the only thing that could really threaten Hebe.

But that's a minor consideration. Succubus. Love. Advice.
[x] …You’ll get to the above questions, but before you do:
-[x] “I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?”

Wait, so canonically Reimu and Marisa beat GENGETSU RAPE TIME?
Holy shit.
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>Also, if you keep giving us pervert options we'll never get anywhere with the plot.
Uh, yeah. Something which I'm realizing that I didn't make clear at all in the voting options: If you choose an option from the second voting cluster, you are also supposed to pick an option from the first cluster of four questions, which will be brought up in-scene after the second group (assuming a "…You’ll get to the above questions, but before you do" choice is a part of more than half the total votes). The goal of this is, in fact, being capable of advancing the plot in the next scene in addition to giving you a chance to have fun with Koa, but the former part is supposed to be voted towards.

So, the choices should actually look something more like:

Not intended to be optional group:
[ ] Moving on to the next topic:
-[ ] "So, what's to stop me from calling out to your master and telling her that you're hiding here?"
-[ ] “I guess, yeah. Tell me more about working here?”
-[ ] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”
-[ ] "The ways you’ve been messing with your master sound tame. If she’s going to get all uppity about you misplacing her Spell Cards, you should get rid of some much more valuable possession and see how she reacts to that.”

Optional group:
( ) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-( ) “I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?”
-( ) “And what would you say if I was interested, for that matter?”
-( ) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

So, if >>54566, >>54567, and >>54568 could repost votes to this effect, it would be appreciated. Sorry about that.

I see no flaws at all in this methodology.

Witch and shrine maiden are imba, nerf pl0x But I have no idea about what's actually canon.
[ ] "The ways you’ve been messing with your master sound tame. If she’s going to get all uppity about you misplacing her Spell Cards, you should get rid of some much more valuable possession and see how she reacts to that.”

Optional group:
( ) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-( ) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

There is nothing rong with this plan. The artifact is something extremely valuable, so encoraging Koa to do be more mischievious could help the mission. Of course, some bonding with her would be necessary, in order to facilitate her involvement to help us, and for that, certain initiative is optimal.
Oh okay.

(x) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-(x) “I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?”

[x] Moving on to the next topic:
-[x] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”

Taking the blame seems like a nice, safe non-voice option that'll get us in good with Koakuma. Probably shit for the mission, but... eh. I've got higher priorities.
-[ ] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”
-( ) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

Kissing her can only do good. It's not like Hebe is actually taken and she's too oblivious of the other fairies, anyway. It would be a good experience for her, and for the lucky fairies later on.

Besides, it's Koa, damnit, and she in need! Please let's make the little devil happy, even if just a bit. Doesn't need the full act, of course, but she will still appreciate it, I'm sure of it.
] Moving on to the next topic:
-[ ] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”

I think we should try to help Koa out, it is the right thing to do! I just hope The warning about us dieing wasn't about Patchy.

() …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-() “I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?”

It's good to talk about this sort of thing with someone who isn't involved, isn't it?
[x] Moving on to the next topic:
-[x] "She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?"

(x) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-(x) "And what would you say if I was interested, for that matter?"
Because everyone else has been less than clear on these matters.

>-( ) "I might be, actually, but I’m kind of…taken at the moment. Could you maybe give me some advice?"
...Does Hebe even know about monogamy?

>-( ) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.
This seems way too influenced by a certain voice.

There isn't an official word on anything to do with Mugetsu and Gengetsu, but since canon Reimu and Marisa are awfully trigger-happy and "Gengetsu Rape Time" only appears if you try to wait out Gengetsu's last pattern, it seems unlikely that any hypothetical canon Gengetsu even got the chance to use it.
>...Does Hebe even know about monogamy?
She knows others are oddly possessive of her. Close enough? I'm sure Koakuma can explain anything that's confusing her.
>Close enough?

Um, no. Nothing to do with monogamy, in this case. In fact, she's closer to the polygamy than anything else. Plus, she has no idea that the fairies' behavior might be linked to romantic and/or sexual issues either.

To be honest, now that I think of it, the "already taken" option sounds really off. Just not right, you know, given how Hebe is ignorant of her situation.

Regarding monogamy, you're probably right. You did forget, however, about the connection between "being taken" and the "possessiveness" of the other fairies. But then again, even that isn't much.

As you said, she is rather ignorant of what's going on. Just because the other fairies are somewhat possessive of her, that doesn' mean she belongs to any of them. Hebe has not made any move on them, nor does she know of what's really happening. She's still free as a fairy bird.

And, yeah, the option does feel weird. If she doesn't know of what the others truly feel, how can she connect that with Koa's sexual frustrations?
I agree that the idea of being "already taken" really doesn't seem like one Hebe could come up with on her own, given how oblivious she's been to the fairies' attention. We could blame italics for the idea, but she also seems more supporting of polygamy than anything, even if she might eventually want Hebe to get with Star or another fairy. And at the moment she's probably too distracted by Koa to come to this kind of decision, instead of the one >>54577 pointed out. Could be spoilers's idea too, except she probably wouldn't want to be taken by anyone. But hey, if spoilers is Mokou then she did manage to be friends with Keine, so maybe.

...Do we know if the voices can collaborate with Hebe on a choice, come to a compromise?

Make out with Koakuma and have her help with the mission? Sounds perfect!


I was under the impression that italics was up for no one in particular, interested in anyone's, or rather, everyone's ass. She will dive heads first for a chance at making an harem.

[ ] Moving on to the next topic:
-[ ] "The ways you’ve been messing with your master sound tame. If she’s going to get all uppity about you misplacing her Spell Cards, you should get rid of some much more valuable possession and see how she reacts to that.”

Optional group:
( ) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-( ) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

Fairy Maid in Gensokyo: The Return. This is in no way an indirect request for a certain someone to write again a certain story, though I wouldn't object to that really happening.
[x] Moving on to the next topic:
-[x] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”

[x] …You’ll get to the above questions, but before you do:
-(x) "And what would you say if I was interested, for that matter?"
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My selection?

-[X] "The ways you’ve been messing with your master sound tame. If she’s going to get all uppity about you misplacing her Spell Cards, you should get rid of some much more valuable possession and see how she reacts to that.”
[X] …You’ll get to the above questions, but before you do:
-[X] Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.
I'm >>54566
[x] Moving on to the next topic:
-[x] "So, what's to stop me from calling out to your master and telling her that you're hiding here?"
(x) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-(x) “And what would you say if I was interested, for that matter?”
[x] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”

(x) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

I like both of these. Let's help Koa out, with both her problems.
[x] Moving on to the next topic:
-[x] “She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?”
Optional group:
(x) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-(x) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

I only see one choice here.
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All right, calling it now for a "nonverbal response" followed by the suggestion of taking the blame for Koa.

I can't say I'm surprised about the former part winning, although I wasn't nearly as expectant of the latter. Guess a lot of you have soft spots for the little devil. No, I'm not going to be doing a full-on replication of Fairy Maid in Gensokyo's Koa relationship. You'll need to work very hard for a chance at anything like that.

And no, Hebe does not, personally, know about the concept of monogamy. Kudos to those of you who picked up on that, but despite how odd the option might have seemed there was/would have been a (in my mind) valid justification.
>You'll need to work very hard for a chance at anything like that

With hard work, comes great rewards. I accept this challenge.
Real life's been keeping me very busy, but I should have an update ready for you guys in the next couple days.

(For anyone following such things, I'll be working on the updates as a higher priority than work for the writing contest.)
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[x] Moving on to the next topic:
-[x] "She’s mad because you put something in her tea, right? Would she be as angry with you if you tried claiming that I’d prepared it wrong?"
(x) …You’ll ask her about more mission-related topics, but before you do:
-(x) Don’t answer in words, but give her a response with your mouth nonetheless.

Interested, Koa says. A mere fairy wouldn’t be interested in the types of...behaviors she’s suggesting, is the clear implication of her words. And you can glean an idea of just what she means by that: the reactions of your mental compatriots, not to mention those of your body at Koa’s sight and words, are quire reminiscent of your encounter earlier with a certain flower youkai.

Well, apart from the instinctive terror, vocal distrust, and wary hesitation which meeting Yuuka resulted in first.

Although, that last one might not be completely inapplicable; you have a rather strong gut feeling that Koa should be correct, but…


Despite the persistent sense of –not quite wrongness, but at least strangeness- that such thoughts are conjuring up in your mind, there is another contingent which is curious enough to push away your reservations; whatever its cause may be.

Oh? That’s…you know what, forget what I was suggesting a moment ago, maybe this isn’t such a good idea-

No, you’re resolved on this course of action, now. Damn it. Memories of your experience with Yuuka are still swirling in your mind- the feeling of your mouth pressed to hers, that satisfying warmness- you think you want to try them with this girl, too.

Eeexcellent. In that case, let me give you a piece of advice on going about this: actions speak louder than words~.

You lean forward in the small space, reaching a hand forward to gently cup Koa’s chin and turn her towards you.

Even in the darkness, you can see surprise registering in the little devil’s eyes. “Eh? What are you-?”

That’s all Koa manages to get out before your lips envelop hers, tongue sliding in to cut off her question.

“Mm…” The sound comes unbidden from your lips as your tongue slides under hers- she tastes good, and you push yourself forward onto Koa: arms encircling her back and thighs straddling her own. Your chest presses against her own soft bosom, as your tongue seeks further inward.

Koa’s making her own muffled sounds, now- high-pitched “mmph”s of disbelief at first, but those swiftly settle down into throaty purrs, as her soft tongue lashes, wraps around your own.

…Is that it? Well, I’d expected a bit more from a succubus, but I suppose-

Koa’s arms grasp your back in a vicelike grip, squeezing you tight against her as she moans deeply into your mouth. Her hands paw at you, running across the back of your dress and grasping for purchase. You shiver, her fingers trailing over the numerous bullet-torn holes in the fabric and grabbing against your bare skin, dress barely keeping her hands off of your bare skin.


You stiffen at the sound, noting that Koa’s hands have stopped moving on your back. She isn’t going to-

She is, apparently. With one swift movement, Koa tears the already tattered dress right off your body and casts it aside, leaving you clad in nothing but your underwear. You shiver, then yelp softly as Koa pins you down, purring.

Her hands are everywhere on you, now- arms, back, shoulders, legs, brushing and caressing every inch of bare skin she can reach-

“Mmph!” Your eyes widen, and you let out another yelp into Koa’s tongue as her hand grabs at your butt: seems she’s not limiting herself to the uncovered skin, as she helps herself to your body. A second hand worming its way between your chests confirms this, cupping your left breast and squeezing gently, once, twice.

You can’t hold back a gasp at that, and Koa chuckles into your mouth, tongue exploring it thoroughly just as her hands do the rest of your body. Her tongue pins down your own, but you fight back, hooking it around the devil’s longer tongue and tasting her more thoroughly. Your own hands shift upwards to her round buttocks, each grasping a soft cheek and squeezing.

The devil-girl hums appreciatively at that, and gives your own rump another pinch. You shiver as one finger of hers dips under the band of your panties, naughtily sliding down the cleft of your buttocks before pulling out again.

Koa breaks the kiss from a moment, panting as she looks down at you. Her eyes are glazed over with uncontrolled arousal, and centered squarely on you as her target. “Too long…” she murmurs, swaying back and forth. “Far, far too long since I could do even this much with anyone else. Have to do it properly, can’t do that in this little space, no…”

Her arm blurs over your head, and there’s a deafening slam followed by several thuds. Light pours in, just for a moment, and you catch a glimpse Koa’s wild eyes before she pulls your mouth back to hers and pounces, propelling you out of your chamber and onto softer carpet.

You wince, wings crumpling underneath you, and push Koa half off of you as you turn before she catches your hand in her own, brings her fingers down to caress your wings, transforming pain into pleasure with just a few simple strokes. There’s a small space within your torsos now, and someone guides your hand up to her heavy breasts, palm pressing down on them.

You can feel a stiff point through her blouse, and your fingers encircle it, pinching and squeezing, hard. Koa growls at that, and pulls you up into a sitting position, pressing your back against something thin and very much solid. Distracting you from that, however, is the newfound feeling of Koa’s hands’ ministrations through your thin bra, and the heightened feeling in the sensitive centers of your breasts, pressing outward against the succubus’s dexterous fingers. You can sense your heart beating a mile a minute, and know that Koa feels the same, is all too aware of the effect she’s having on you.

Her warm lips pull off yours, tongue teasingly remaining inside for a last second of caressing, though it remains on your outer lips. You make a small, disappointed noise as Koa’s hands leave your chest and span your waist, but that swiftly turns to a moan as the succubus slowly hoists your body upwards, keeping her slick tongue pressed against your skin- licking over your chin, down and over your neck.

Koa’s tongue tickles your neck in a wonderfully frustrating way, and you sigh out as she lifts you further, tongue trailing down past your shoulders as she plunks you down onto the tabletop- oh, that must have been what you were sitting against. She licks- hnn- down between your breasts, tongue mercilessly sliding up and down your cleavage. The devil-girl’s not done, though- her tongue slides under your bra to lick and prod at your erect nipples, and a loud, primal moan rips itself from your throat, whole body shaking.

Koa pulls her head up from your chest and licks her lips, grinning lasciviously at you. She comes in for another kiss, pushing herself between your spread legs, arms encircling you once again as-

“Are the two of you quite done?”

Koa’s body goes rigid against you, and her mouth pulls away from yours with a wet pop. Her flushed cheeks drain of color as she looks up, and you warily follow her gaze, panting deeply.

The frowning, narrow-eyed figure of the librarian meets your eyes, looking down on the two of you with an expression of withering disdain.

“P…Patchy.” Koa stutters out, heavy breaths quelled quickly. “I, er, heard you calling for me. Was everything all right…?”

“Do not attempt to play the fool with me, Koakuma, regardless of how well you may fit the role.” Patchouli snaps. Her eyes linger on your intertwined figures. “Ah, were the two of you not finished? I assure you, there’s no need to stop on my account. I’m sure I can distract myself– continue with my book, you know.”

She gestures to the sodden heap of paper on the tabletop’s other end, cover scorched a crispy brown-black.

“Relax with a cup of tea.” Utterly straight-faced, Patchouli picks up the browned handle of her teacup: the largest piece remaining of the object. Uninterestedly, she turns the handle over in her hand before tossing it over a shoulder.

“Oh dear, it would seem I’m all out of alternative activities. What a shame, all there’s left to do is discipline my familiar.” A Spell Card appears in her hand.

Koa blanches.

Patchouli’s gaze turns to you. “Maid, I suggest that you extricate yourself from Koakuma, post haste. I find it highly unlikely that your body will withstand the heat of concentrated lava.” She twirls her spellcard between two fingers, granting you a brief view of inscribed red and orange flame.

“In fairness, I find it equally unlikely that my assistant will be sufficiently resilient. However, she should at least remain conscious for a longer period of time, and…” A small, cruel smirk creases the librarian’s mouth, and you shiver. “And I am confident Remi will cede to my judgement about the time required to fix her.”

Koa’s facial expression doesn’t change, but her body begins trembling beneath you, and her arms pull you a bit tighter to her chest, as if seeking comfort. As you glance down to meet her gaze, however, the little devil gulps and slowly releases her hold on you, letting you hop off the table, turning to face Patchouli as she squeezes her eyes shut.

Well, that’s a shame. It’s her own fault though, getting greedy and coming out into the open like this, so let’s leave while we can.

One might argue that by helping cause the initial disturbance, and inciting her to leave the hiding location, this is our fault as well. Still, I agree that the best course of action is letting the mage dole out her punishment upon the succubus, no need to get involved ourselves.

“Was…there something wrong with the tea I brewed for you, Miss Patchouli?” you ask carefully, locking gazes with her.

…No, no, I said let the succubus take her punishment. I most emphatically did not say idiotically divert the powerful mage’s anger towards yourself, seeing as I am neither a masochist nor suicidal.

Patchouli’s eyes widen, and her attention shifts from looking past you to at you. “…Excuse me?” she asks, lowering her spellcard just a fraction. “Could you repeat that? I could have sworn that you were claiming responsibility for the catastrophic brew Koakuma delivered to me.”

“Er…well, I don’t know about catastrophic, but I did make it.” you respond, attempting to channel as much timidity into your voice as possible– it’s not that difficult, given the glare she’s leveling at you.

“I was just minding my own business when she flew up behind me all of a sudden- shoved a teapot into my hands and ordered me to make you some tea, said she didn’t want to deal with it. I was scared of what she might do if I disobeyed, so I just flew to the storage room and mixed in things from the first few containers I saw.” You put on an uncertain expression, which is to say that you let some of your uncertainty about this lie show. “Was that not a good idea?”

The librarian sighs, bringing her tome up to smack her temples with a soft thud. “Hardly. I don’t suppose you happened to mix ingredients from the shelves labeled ‘Aromatics’ and ‘Magical Components’?”

“I..might have.” you slowly ‘admit’, mentally rejoicing as she groans. She bought it! Looks like, but we’re going to be “buying it” any second if you don’t apologize fast. “U-um, I’m really sorry if that did something bad, Miss Patchouli. I’m not used to making tea, it was always the other girls that took care of-”

“Yes, yes, I’ve heard it a thousand times.” Patchouli interrupts with a roll of the eyes, waving a hand to cut you off. “Not your area of expertise, unfamilarized with the basic household tasks you’re employed here for, et cetera, et cetera. Fairies will be fairies, I suppose.”

She frowns abruptly, and looks suspiciously at you. “One moment…Did you not say that you were scared into following Koa’s instructions for the tea-brewing? Because personally, I cannot say that I observed any fear from you during your…fraternizations, a moment ago.”

Oh. Those. “Um, well…” No, wait a second, you can work with this- you recall the reason Koa stated for those maids’ beliefs, all you need to do is try and act like one of them. Now, how exactly to pull that off…

“W-well, I was afraid that she was gonna eat my soul, of course! All it was supposed to take was her…touching me…” You let your voice trail off, looking down at yourself with widening eyes. “Wahh!” You leap away from Koa, putting both arms out in a warding gesture. “Ah, oh no, did I let her do that to me without noticing? She just said she wanted to thank me for doing her work, then she leaned towards me and…umm, the rest isn’t that clear.” You try and affect an embarrassed expression, but you’re not sure how successful-

Here y’go. You start, the remembered sensations of Koa’s touches suddenly front and center in your mind, and feel heat rushing to your cheeks. That’ll work. “B-but, but…how am I supposed to tell if she took my soul? I don’t feel any different! At least I don’t think I do, but maybe I couldn’t tell if she did, because of what else she did? Ah!” You jab a finger towards Koa, who raises an eyebrow. “I don’t know if you took my soul, but you did take my clothes, y-you evil demon-succubus-person!” Laying it on a bit thick, aren’t you…?

“Oh! I know, I know! That must be how you took it! After all, you obviously took away my dress and shoes, and everyone knows that the bottom of your shoe’s called the sole. You must be even creepier than I thought, if you feed on something that disgusting. But that’s not important- give me back my shoes, or I’m gonna reach down your throat and take ‘em myself!” You take an “angry” step forward towards Koa, who’s now staring at you with enough incredulity to fell a tree.

“All right, that’s quite enough of that nonsense.” the librarian orders, and you quickly step back away from Koa. I think you overdid it. A lot. Normal fairies aren’t quite that foolish, you must realize. “Just the work of another fatuous fairy, why am I even surprised at this point,” Patchouli mutters. …Except in this woman’s mind, apparently. And yours, I suppose? Odd, you should know better... You give Koa a quick, reassuring nod, and a measure of confusion disappears from her face as Patchouli clears her throat with a cough.

“Well, Koakuma, it appears that I was misunderstanding the intent behind my inflammatory beverage. I suppose this nullifies the need to discipline you for willfully attacking me.” Patchouli places her spellcard back between two pages of her book, closing it.

“Um…Oh, does it?” Koa asks, gathering herself together and standing up. “Well, er, I’m glad you realized that this was all just a misunderstanding. No harm done, really-”

“I wasn’t finished.” Patchouli cuts in, smacking Koa with her heavy book and knocking her back to the floor. “That, at least, is due you for giving any responsibility to a maid like this: one who could be identified as dangerously incompetent within a few seconds of conversation, and did in fact endanger my health.”

“Oww…” Koa whines as she gets back up, rubbing the side of her head. “Okay, fine, I probably deserved that, but-”

“Emerald City.” A pillar of green crystal roars up a scant few inches behind you, and you flinch away as it slams Koa in the chin, throwing her back onto the table with a crack. Patchouli flies up and over you, looking down on her groaning familiar.

“And stop molesting the maids! Really, Koa, after all the times you’ve assured me that the stories they tell are unsubstantiated rumors, you had to go and do this? What, you finally realized that I am capable of fending off your advances, so you decided to take advantage of this girl’s naiveté and subhuman mental faculties, and pressured her into allowing your ravagings?”

Koa, for her part, manages to look duly indignant through her pains, as Patchouli’s tirade continues. You feel the odd urge to whistle innocently.

“I’m aware that you have numerous… impulses befitting a young adult of your race, but could you at least attempt to take them out on more receptive targets? Perhaps the gatekeeper, she is otherwise largely unimportant.”

Koa’s still for a moment, before she nods, grinning. “More receptive. Yeah, okay Patchy, I think I can work with that.” She flashes the grin towards you for a moment, but Patchouli seems not to notice.

That’s not a bad sign at all.

“See that you do, then. For now, fetch this girl some clothes to replace the ones you tore off her. In the meantime, I’ll be attempting to restart my study- you can restore that book tomorrow, there are plenty of others I can use for reference in this experiment. Let’s see, Aumar’s Reflections should be around here somewhere…”

Already moving on to her next task, the muttering librarian flies away down a corridor, leaving you alone with Koa.

The succubus peers after her departing master for a few seconds, before sighing, apparently judging Patchouli to be out of earshot. “Haah. Thanks for that, you saved me from a lot of pain just now.”

“No problem. I’d been planning to suggest it to you privately, but I got a bit distracted before that could really-”


“Be brought up- what?” You blink, caught off-guard by Koa’s question. “What do you mean, ‘why’?”

“Patchy could’ve turned on you as easily as me. It was pretty obvious, too, what with the mood she was in: both of us saw that. I just don’t get why you’d stick your neck out for me like that. Nobody ever does that.” She looks at you, shrugging confusedly.

“Well, I…I don’t know why I did it, exactly.” you admit. I blame temporary brain damage. “I just wanted to help you out, I guess. Seeing you that scared, even though you were trying to hide it…I don’t know, I couldn’t leave you like that.”

Koa looks at you silently for a long moment. Then she smiles gently, steps forward and envelopes you in a hug. “Kindness like that’ll get you killed someday. But…thank you, Hebe. Nice to know someone cares.”

You match Koa’s embrace with your own arms- Hey, I’m finally getting the hang of this. -for a moment, before she pulls back and looks at you suspiciously. “Wait a second, that isn’t the reason you wanted to make out with me, is it? Just because you felt sorry for me after my whining?”

“Would you really care that much if it was?” You retort, smirking.

“Of course I…well…actually, I guess I’d probably just take what I could get.” Koa admits reluctantly, glancing away from you. “Humph, shows me right for expecting a genuine libido out of a fairy…”

“Hey, I didn’t actually say that was the reason.” you point out. Koa blinks, turning back to you. “I mean, wanting to help you out with that might’ve been a factor, sure. But I wanted to try it for my own sake, too. You’re very pretty, you know.”

“I’ve been told that.” Koa smiles, more than a hint of pride showing behind it. “But, hmm, if that’s really the case…what would you think about coming to see me again? Tonight, maybe. My bedroom here has much comfier places than the library floor, and I guarantee we wouldn’t have Patchouli intruding~.”

“Um…” Do it, you won’t get another opportunity like this. Don’t do it, that’s far too fast, and I really don’t think it’s what’s best for you. “I’m not quite sure if-”

“Well, that’s probably jumping the gun a bit, actually.” Koa speaks over you, shaking her head. “You were obviously pretty inexperienced, there…keeping things slower than my normal MO should be fine.”

Something about that rankles you a bit. “What do you mean, ‘obviously’?”

“Oh, you know. Clearly following much more than leading, tongue was flapping around, touches were more than a bit clumsy…I could go on. You weren’t bad, exactly, I’m just saying there’s room for improvement, but we could work on that together.”

I think we’re out of practice. Maybe you are, but the parts she did enjoy were certainly my doing.“Well, that…I don’t think I’d mind that, actually.” You frown as something she said strikes you…you’re fairly certain nobody else so far would describe your touch as clumsy.

“About that last flaw you said…well, a couple friends of mine, other fairies, said some things to suggest that my touching them, or vice versa, feels-” Abnormally good. “Abnormally good. Did you not feel anything like that, or…?” That really doesn’t seem like an accurate way of putting it. How would you know? You haven’t gone through anything of the sort in thousands of years. Neither have you, to my knowledge…

“Well, no- you are rather nice to hold, but I wouldn’t say I felt anything abnormal.” …Really? Perhaps it’s that she just don’t have much room left to be affected, considering how her nature is already. But no, that doesn’t seem right, all living beings should be capable…

“Huh…Maybe it’s because you’re not a fairy,” you mutter.

“Could be.” Koa nods.

I asked the snowdrops who, or what, had made them grow, and they were happy to tell me that it had been a little fairy with a pleasurable touch. “Or a plant,” you add half-consciously.

“I…what?” Koa looks at you askance. “Hey, that whole crazy clothes-shoe-soul thing earlier was an act, right?”

“Huh? Um, yes, yes it was. Sorry, thinking out loud for a second there.”

“Okaaay…” Koa’s skeptical look doesn’t change.

“Look, it makes more sense than it sounds like, all right?” you insist. “I’ll explain…or maybe show you what I meant by that, later. Tonight, perhaps?” You give her a mischievous smile.

Koa’s expression shifts into a knowing smirk. “Heh. Sure, I’d like that, we can play around with this magic touch of yours. But, I might want to try it again for myself, first…” The succubus leans in towards you, lips pursed.

Koakuma…” You flinch as Patchouli’s voice comes warningly from behind her assistant. When did she get back over here?

“Erk.” Koa jumps away from you, one hand behind her head as she smiles uncertainly at her unamused master. “So, right! New clothes! I’ll be, er, right back with those, get you one of my outfits for a smaller form. Just give me a minute…”

Patchouli watches as Koa hastily flutters away. “Hmph. No self-control at all, that girl…” She floats past you, settling down in her armchair with a sigh and flipping open her book.

[i[Psst. You should probably agree with that.[/i] Oh. “Um, right! I guess she almost caught me again. Thanks for stopping her, though,” you say brightly.

The librarian gives no sign of having heard you, merely turning silently to another page.

Maybe she really didn’t hear you. “So, um, you’re pretty sure that I’m all right, with the whole soul issue, right? I mean, I’m just asking because it sounds like a big deal, but you’re smart enough to know if it really is a big deal, and-”

“Why are you still here?” The words come muffled, tonelessly over the top of her book.

Er…“I’m sorry?”

“I would hope I have enabled you to resolve your differences with Koakuma, now that she has left. Given the short attention span possessed by most fairies, and the tendency for this to correlate with general intellectual ability, I estimate that you should become bored and wander off nearby within a minute. I’ll have to send Koakuma to find you, I suppose, but it can’t be helped-” She erupts in a bout of coughing, smothering the sound in one lilac sleeve.

“Um.” You stare at the magician’s paroxysms, at a bit of a loss for words. Seems that little act of yours had more repercussions than you thought. “I don’t think I’d mind staying here, though, if you wouldn’t mind talking a little...”

“Given the distraction you currently pose, as well as the results of your staggering incompetence in managing my tea, I see no reason to encourage anything of the sort.” She turns another page. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am busy doing research for the planning of a new magical creation, and will be engaged as such for the remaining half hour before dinnertime.”

That’s rather...blunt, isn’t it.

Magical creation. Why does that sound familiar...Oh, right, that’s why you’re here in the first place, isn’t it? To try and find another of this woman’s magical creations. You suppose your friends, wherever they are in this place, are working on that even now- you should probably do the same yourself.

You find it unlikely that Patchouli will be especially helpful in this regard, though.
[ ] Well, you can’t let her keep thinking of you that badly. Show off your powers a little- if you want to find one magical project, perhaps the first step is making her view you as another.
[ ] If she’s written you off to the point of ignoring you, her loss. That just means you can take a look around without arousing suspicion, it’s what she expects anyway.
[ ] Getting information out of her directly would work best, but you’d need some lead-in to a conversation. Take a peek at what she’s reading, then ask her about it- she might be willing to discuss that.

( ) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
-( ) No, on second thought, Dai mentioned it too just before you split up, didn’t she. She and Cirno should have it under control, so you can investigate here.
Think I might have gone a bit too far with the first part of this one. (Not by THP’s standards, obviously, but for the scope of the story/character interactions I’d been planning.) Well, we'll see how/if I come to regret that. My temporary excuse: distracted by the succubus.
[x] If she’s written you off to the point of ignoring you, her loss. That just means you can take a look around without arousing suspicion, it’s what she expects anyway.
Patchy is the last person we want to tip off. Overly possessive of her trinkets and all that.
Let's just make sure our wanderings appear aimless. And no reading!

(x) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
... did she?

Also, yes, clearly Koakuma's fault.
But she's definitely knowledgeable on the subject, so we might be able to gain something from actually discussing it with her, rather than through, uh, 'demonstration'.
>thousands of years
Uh. Mokou and Kaguya are only one thousand old. I think. Canon is hard. and it might not be them, joy

[x] Getting information out of her directly would work best, but you’d need some lead-in to a conversation. Take a peek at what she’s reading, then ask her about it- she might be willing to discuss that.

(x) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?

Yeah, we might gain Patchy's suspicion, but that sounds more fun than wandering around anyway. High risk, high reward, you know? Plus I'd like to impress Patchy just a little.
>My temporary excuse: distracted by the succubus.
Everyone, in-story and out, was distracted by the succubus. This doesn't bode well for Hebe's fairy admirers...
[x] If she’s written you off to the point of ignoring you, her loss. That just means you can take a look around without arousing suspicion, it’s what she expects anyway.

(x) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
-(x) No, on second thought, Dai mentioned it too just before you split up, didn’t she. She and Cirno should have it under control, so you can investigate here.

Dang it it was getting good too before Patchouli decided to butt in. No one minded the distraction what so ever.
For everyone that doesn't want to bother looking back: >>54257's where Sakuya gives us the job. There's a little talk about it afterwards, Dai mentions that Sakuya might kick us out if we don't do it right.

>>54453's where Dai says (to herself? I can't really tell):
>"Not like there's any job downstairs which we've already been assigned by Sakuya or anything, is there..."

Yeah, I think we can leave this to her and Cirno. Dai's basically the only fairy with common sense, after all.

[X] Getting information out of her directly would work best, but you’d need some lead-in to a conversation. Take a peek at what she’s reading, then ask her about it- she might be willing to discuss that.

(X) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
-(X) No, on second thought, Dai mentioned it too just before you split up, didn’t she. She and Cirno should have it under control, so you can investigate here.
Isn't sticking her with the task to hang around the library more a dick move? In more ways than one?
[ ] Getting information out of her directly would work best, but you’d need some lead-in to a conversation. Take a peek at what she’s reading, then ask her about it- she might be willing to discuss that.
( ) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
-( ) No, on second thought, Dai mentioned it too just before you split up, didn’t she. She and Cirno should have it under control, so you can investigate here.

Everything went better than the expected.
I don't know, it's basically just prioritizing. We're letting the girls who are actually familiar with chores take care of them, and taking advantage of our being in a good position to search.
Plus even if she does see it as a dick move, Dai's a lot less likely to react badly to that than one of the Three Fairies. Unless she has another breakdown or something over it, but that'd be really stupid.

>before dropping her voice to a barely-audible mutter, which doesn't seem to be addressed to you at all.
Huh, it does seem like she's talking to herself for that part. I don't see what this would help, though...Dai has a headvoice theory again, anyone?
[X] Getting information out of her directly would work best, but you'd need some lead-in to a conversation. Take a peek at what she's reading, then ask her about it - she might be willing to discuss that.
-(X) ...wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn't the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?

I think our prime priorities should be:
a) divert attention away from the Three Fairies. They are invisible and can search more freely than we can.
b) attempt to gain information discreetly from Patchy and Koa. Abort if it they seem to find us suspicious.
c) get back to the kitchens before Sakuya checks in and look like we've been doing work. Maybe even do some washing for half an hour so some fairies see us and can back us up. We want to maintain our good name so we'll get into places we otherwise wouldn't, and use ourselves as a trump card if need be.
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>This whole update.

Now, to the vote.

[x] Getting information out of her directly would work best, but you’d need some lead-in to a conversation. Take a peek at what she’s reading, then ask her about it- she might be willing to discuss that.
(x) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?

We get to choose both again, right? The (x) doesn't overrule the [x]?
[x] If she’s written you off to the point of ignoring you, her loss. That just means you can take a look around without arousing suspicion, it’s what she expects anyway.

(x) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
-(x) No, on second thought, Dai mentioned it too just before you split up, didn’t she. She and Cirno should have it under control, so you can investigate here.
>We get to choose both again, right? The (x) doesn't overrule the [x]?
I can't think of any other reason he'd use the two seperate types of brackets.
A: Didn't they get split up just like us by the writefag fiat book swarm? So only Sunny would be searching invisibly. Which actually makes it more important that we divert attention from them, I guess.
B: Agree, except we might not need to be discreet with Koa. Pretty sure we just earned some major points with her.
C: I don't know how much a good reputation would protect us, actually, but we should do the job regardless. I'm for coming back to the library later if we can, because Koa, so we can do more searching then.
Am I the only one who wants to drop by Koa's room later on to finish her lesson?
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Vote's currently tied up between addressing your job with Sakuya and letting Dai/Cirno take care of it. So, a tiebreaker for that would be appreciated (the action in regards to Patchouli isn't going to be changed from its current state, I don't think).

Nobody's expressed having any problems with the Koa scene, that's probably a good thing. Even with confirmation bias as a possible factor, that's still about what I expected.

To address several comments at once: there will most likely be an option to come visit Koa this night/evening, and you'll have some freedom of choice as to how you spend your time with her (discussion/asking for advice is one option, yes.) There will be other things that you might want to address in the night, though, at least one of which you've already been told.

Thanks, but you might want to look over those posts a bit more closely...

Always good to see some planning/strategizing.

Release the hounds Oh, wait, you liked it.
And yes, I'll be using the two types of brackets as a way of showing two choice groups, for both this and future posts.
Well, okay.

(X) …Wait a second, what was that Patchouli said about dinner? Didn’t the head maid give you a job to do before that happened?
That'll do. Calling now, update should be sometime this weekend. Working on finishing up a couple other writing pieces at the moment.
Of course you aren't. Can't you read the atmosphere?

Between Hebe's admirers and possibly standing up Yuuka, it's a dramabomb waiting to happen. It'll be great.
or a fairy orgy + 1 'not so little' devil, which i'm perfectly fine with.
Okay, so obviously this update's production is taking an annoyingly long time (as with all of the "recent" ones, sorry about this), but I just wanted to check in and let you all know I aten't dead. You know, assuming you hadn't seen any of my posts for the contest.

Just for the record, even with the hassles real life is putting me through, this would have been up over this past weekend. However, I realized that the only way I could end it at that point would be with a BS pointless choice, the kind of which I'm distinctly opposed to using on principle. (Yes, despite appearances more or less every choice so far has been a significant one. The results of which have yet to play out, in many cases.)

Hopefully I'll have an actual update post before anyone sees this one, but given my track record I wouldn't hold your breaths. It is in the works, though.
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Countdown to Hebe losing complete control of her body thanks to people voting directly against her wishes. She's even got a speech-color already. Unassuming format change, or harrowing omen of things to come?

Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. I'm pro-harrowing.
That post number is'nt ominous at all.
Why? Why must you do this to us? Have we wronged you in some way?
Still alive, Viridian?

How is it going, Viridian? Are still there, somewhere?
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The shame bug got him, I think. Nasty things.
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i still miss this
Another great story to add to TH's unfinished story graveyard.
RIP in peace.
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