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File 140269154898.jpg - (159.79KB, 850x638, Gift of the Magi Update 1.jpg) [iqdb]
This is most certainly going to be rather unpleasant. Judging from the flurry of activity around the mansion today, it seems that Remilia is cooking up some new problematic event. The beginnings of a migraine begins to form in the back of your head as you consider what she might be planning, and worse, what part she’s called you out the library to play in it. Whatever it is, you can be sure you’d prefer to keep your hands clean of it.

“Patchy! Glad you could join us!” Remilia comes up behind you with a pat on the back, causing you to tense up reflexively.

“I wasn’t aware I had any option otherwise.”

“Oh don’t be like that. I’m just looking out for my friend, trying to get her to enjoy life a bit more.”

“You and I have very different ways of deriving enjoyment.”

“Oh, but variety is the spice of life, is it not?”

“So you’re saying you want to come read in the library?”

“Maybe something other time, tonight we have a party to attend.”

“You have a party to attend, I have books to read.”

“You can read those books another day.”

“And you’ll be hosting parties other days too.”

“It’s surprising you know that, since you never come.”

“You never let me forget, and I’ll not let you forget that I am a scholar first and a socialite never.”
You respond, and then letting your irritation get the better of you, add “Mine is the higher path.”

Remilia turns her head away from you, not letting you see her expression at your outburst, then walking away, her reply clear despite facing away from you.

“What is a book but a miserable pile of words. People are far more interesting than anything in your dumb library, not that you’d know.”

You’re not in the mood for more of this either, decide to return to the library.

Back in the quiet comfort of Voile, you find yourself more brooding than reading the book in your hands, a treatise on youkai social structures.

You’ve heard it many times before, that you shouldn’t stay in the library, that you should be around people more. Obviously, they don’t understand. That may be their happiness, and they might be satisfied with that, but yours is in your hands right now. Your books are all you need.

Thinking that, you are about to dive back into the treatise with renewed zeal when you are pulled back to reality with a start.

“Lady Patchouli.”

Sakuya’s voice comes from behind you, immediately followed by the magic sentries announcing her entrance into the library. That power of hers always makes you uncomfortable, and few things irritate you more than being interrupted while reading. The maid seems to delight in exploiting both facts.

“Yes, Miss Izayoi?”

“Mistress Remilia wanted me to inform you of some additional appetizing details of her party.”

You let out an exasperated sigh. Not this again.

“One of the guests will be a dealer of exotic and outside-world books.”

It’s likely a bluff. A book dealer wouldn’t run in the same circles as Remilia. She’s just trying to trick you into coming, for whatever scheme she has in the works. You would be interested in meeting a book dealer, but you can’t let her see that.

“Is that so? I doubt that they’ll have any books that I don’t already.”

“Mistress guessed that you would say that. Her response is that you have no way of knowing that until you ask.”

Ugh. Always a show off, isn’t she.

“Mistress also wanted me to inform you that there would be certain guests in attendance, certain scholars who you might want to meet.”

“That’s a cryptic piece of bait. I think she’s underestimating me if she thinks I’ll bite though.”

“Then its on to the next plan. If you come, milady swears that you’ll not hear a thing again about coming to her parties for a year. On the other hand, if you don’t...well she has a lot of interesting amusements she could host in the library itself from now on.”

And now we’re moving on to threats, letting her vampiric tendencies shine through. It’s probably pretty benign, but it does bring up a good point. Staying on Remilia’s good side will make your life much more comfortable.

“Tell Remilia that there’s nothing cute about making threats, but because she’s an old friend I’ll consider doing it for her. Go tell her that now.”

With that, Sakuya vanishes and you are left to your silence again. You start to get back into your book, but its a little dry and you weren’t terribly interested in it in the first place. With a small sigh, you close it and put it down, noticing with a start that Koakuma had been silently staring at you.


The small voice of your familiar slips out.

“Um…..Lady Patchouli?”

“I’m listening.”

You’ve learned to be calm and methodical in dealing with your familiar. It can be a bit irritating at times, but it’s better than if, for instance, she acted like a certain vampire.

“Uh, let’s see… I just had a little question, I mean a request. Something to ask of you.”

Another sigh escapes your lips involuntarily.

“Out with it, what do you want?”

At your prompting the words spill out of her in a jumbled and grammatically atrocious mess.

“Lady Remilia. She’s hosting a party tonight, you know? Did you know that? She is. And she invited me. Sakuya told me. But I’m your familiar, so I wanted to ask. No, I needed to ask you. If it’s okay, that is, if I can go. Can I?”

She stares at you plaintively, either in an attempt to persuade you or in an apologetic response to her previous outburst, while an acidic feeling starts to form in your stomach and the tightness of a new migraine begins in your head. Of course it’s this damn party again. The scowl on your face is apparently very obvious, as your familiar immediately cringes and begins to back peddle on her previous request, tripping over her words yet again.

“Um, it’s okay. Actually. I don’t mind. I mean, I don’t actually want to. I just had to ask. Because she invited me. But it’s fine if not. Not that it can’t be fine. You are the boss, so if you say fine, then it’s fine. Right? Sorry?”
You hold up your palm to stop her before her verbal spillage can continue. Taking a breath, and letting out another sigh, you collect your thoughts and calm yourself. There’s no point in taking out your frustrations on your familiar. You remember reading in Your Familiar and You the importance of maintaining a friendly and personal connection to higher order familiars in maintaining work efficiency for long term contractings. And this familiar, conversational skills aside, does her tasks well enough that you’d prefer to keep her for a while, rather than have her get unruly and have to find a replacement. According to the book, it is the small favors like this that make for a truly loyal, and therefore more productive familiar. By that logic it seems more prudent to just let her go. It’d only be for one night, but for some reason that you can’t quite seem to pin down, you dislike the idea.

[ ] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
[ ] Write-in for if you have strong feelings about what Patchouli should wear.
[ ] Make only a token appearance to satisfy Remilia.
[ ] In for a penny, in for a pound. Shove Remilia’s teasing in her face, be the life of the party.

[ ] Nope, staying in for the night.
[ ] Write-in for if you have strong feelings about what Patchouli should read about this evening.
[ ] But you’ll let your familiar attend.
[ ] You need her to stay in as well.

Rules Overview: Write-ins are great. I put a lot of value in the creativity of the community, so sometimes I’ll leave a space open for them. Other times I won’t explicitly do that, but Write-ins are always ok. That being said, I reserve the right to veto a write-in if it feels out of character, but hope to not have to utilize it.
[X] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.

Don't have a write in, but I'm interested in seeing where this goes.
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.

Okay. This for now.
Sorry for the shortened vote, on my phone. Anyways:

[X] Go to the party
-[X] Token appearance
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
[X] In for a penny, in for a pound. Shove Remilia’s teasing in her face, be the life of the party.
-[X] Wear the exact same thing she's planning to wear, except arrive before she does, being sure to coordinate with the help for a dramatic pause in the music as well as a spotlight following our first movements.

Nobody but NOBODY interrupts reading time. Chibi vampire needs to learn her place.
File 140269668235.jpg - (546.32KB, 700x700, 7ce3412e8de0955c5d12bff1c8e207bd.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
-[x] Write-in for if you have strong feelings about what Patchouli should wear.
Pic related, assuming this is a fancy sort of party. I don't imagine Remilia throwing dance parties.
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
[X] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
[X] Make only a token appearance to satisfy Remilia check out the books and scholars. If they're unimpressive, leave immediately whether remi is satisfied or not (Koa can stay as long as she likes, though).
[X] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
[X] Make only a token appearance to check out the books and scholars. If they're unimpressive, leave immediately whether remi is satisfied or not (Koa can stay as long as she likes, though).

This seems promising. Though you could work on separating some of those paragraphs, especially the one near the end.
[X] In for a penny, in for a pound. Shove Remilia’s teasing in her face, be the life of the party.
-[X] Wear the exact same thing she's planning to wear, except arrive before she does.
File 140271909310.png - (1.06MB, 1000x800, classy library.png) [iqdb]
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and ask Koakuma to be your date.
[x] Pic.
File 140287024277.jpg - (71.26KB, 960x540, suitably professional.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and allow Koakuma to go as well.
-[x] Make only a token appearance to check out the books and scholars. If they're unimpressive, leave immediately whether Remi is satisfied or not. (Koa can stay as long as she likes, though.)
-[x] Write-in for if you have strong feelings about what Patchouli should wear.

"A scholar first and a socialite never."
[x] Go to Remilia’s Party, and ask Koakuma to be your date. 
Got a few errands to run today, but afterwards I'll be finishing the update.

I gotta say, I really appreciate the voter turn-out. I hope I can match your enthusiasm for voting with mine for writing.

I also appreciate the Patchy in a dress pictures. Very inspiring.
File 140298057350.png - (312.18KB, 497x374, wait till mrcrabs finds out you're a toilet.png) [iqdb]
[X] In for a penny, in for a pound. Be the life of the party, and don't even be a jerk about it!
[ ] In for a penny, in for a pound. Shove Remilia’s teasing in her face, be the life of the party.

Either we spaghetti Alice, or we dazzle everyone. Regardless, this gunna be good.
File 140328904140.jpg - (282.88KB, 850x1213, Gift of the Magi Patchy Koakuma Dresses.jpg) [iqdb]
“Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains - daisy chains - of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between 'his,' 'her' or 'their' wish and yours.”
- Andy Warhol

Compromise isn’t weakness, or so you read in a book once. You’ve also read the opposite elsewhere, but those authors felt like the kind of people who had grossly imbalanced levels of tissue between their heads and their muscles, so you felt justified in disregarding their statements.

Despite your misgivings, you have to admit that it’ll likely be far easier in the long run if you just go along with Remilia tonight; satisfy her odd whimsy rather than face her full annoyance later. You’d like to think that you’re above being petty over backing down on a battle of wills like this, but you can’t deny a bit of frustration at the idea losing anything to that girl. Perhaps she’s rubbing off on you in all the wrong ways.

You are about to go back to reading your book when you remember that your familiar is still waiting for an answer from you. You had gotten distracted with your own decision and thoughts that you had forgotten to give her approval for the night off.

“I have no problem with you going.”

“Really? It’s totally okay?” she said excitedly. “Well, of course it’s okay, you just said it’s okay so why wouldn’t it be. I just didn’t expect you to say yes. Not that it’s a bad thing that you did. It just doesn’t feel like something you’d do because you don’t usually go to her parties, and we’re always so busy sorting the books, so I thought there was no way I’d ever have a chance to go.”

She pauses for a moment while she visibly pants lightly to catch her breath, while her thoughts seem to catch up with the mass of words she just put out, prompting her to launch into a second round of second-guessing words already spoken.

“But even if I never go I’d still be fine, if that’s what you wanted. Ah, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for you letting me go this time either, I’m really happy about that, but I’d still be happy if you wanted me to stay in the library with you instead.”

Her face matches the hue of her hair when she finishes her outburst, and she sinks into her chair with a hand over her mouth. Perhaps she has a respiratory illness as well? If speaking loudly is enough to wind her and make her red faced, that’s entirely possible. You mentally file away the idea of a future investigation into the matter. For the time being, it’s probably best to approach it with...what was the word Remilia used, back before she gave up on trying to teach you etiquette? That’s right. Tact. The tactful thing to do when someone accidentally makes a big scene is to carry on as if it didn’t happen, according to Remilia. You suppose if you are going to make it through tonight, you might as well brush up on your tactfulness while you can.

“Actually, I will be attending as well.”

Your familiar responds by peeking through the cracks in the fingers covering her eyes at you. Then, remembering she needs to respond, recollects her composure, as best as she ever can and attempts small talk.

“You’re going too? That’s pretty rare for you, isn’t it Lady Patchouli? What’s the occasion? C-c-could it be a date?”

“No. I’ve no interest in anything like that. There are supposedly certain guests who would be of interest to me as a scholar. Additionally, Remilia was particularly insistent this time, so it felt prudent to agree to her invitation.”

“I see… it’s about books then after all.”

“Of course it’s books. I’m always looking to expand the contents of Voile, and if that requires a bit of talking and deal-making, it’s a small price to pay.”

As for your familiar’s unexpected desire to go, you are more than a little bit mystified. Of course, the same could be said of a lot of things regarding this girl. To the extent of your knowledge, she’s never left the library outside of the few errands through the mansion that you’ve sent her. Then again, she’s a quiet, unobtrusive girl, and you certainly don’t keep tabs on her. She could probably have a whole other life outside of the library without your knowing. That idea bothers you for reasons you can’t seem to put into words.

The conversation peters out and the two of you settle down into another of your common and much appreciated silent moments, each reading your book of choice. Looking over yours across the table, you see that she has her head stuck in one of those romance stories, a new one from the outside world. You resist the urge to comment on her poor taste in literature. It was many many years ago, and you’d never admit it to anyone now, but you once also read every sappy romance story you could get your hands on. Then you grew up, and realized what a fool you were being. For now though, you decide to let your familiar continue unabated.

Looking over the cover of the book, you see a terrible cliche, a princess in a flowy dress being rescued by a blond knight, and It occurs to you that your current outfit, while comfortable and perfectly utilitarian for reading, might not qualify as proper party attire. You’re not sure why not, those gaudy and tight clothes look ridiculous and feel even worse to wear. However as the saying goes, when in Gensokyo, abandon things like common sense. Of course, that was another of those “fight first and think later”-types who said that, so it’s probably not worth listening to.

“Could you prepare a fitting outfit for me?”

A familiar head, or rather the head of your familiar pops up from behind her book as you call her to attention, and she immediately launches into a flurry of speech.

“An outfit? Did you have anything in mind? I could pick something nice out for you. Not that anything that you pick out wouldn’t be good but I just thought that since you don’t usually bother with fancy clothes, I could try to help. I don’t mean that you wouldn’t be able to, you just don’t want to, or maybe you do?”

It occurs to you that maybe asking her, who was just reading a book like that, to pick out suitable clothes might not end well. However, you certainly aren’t going to do it yourself, even if you did know where to start. Besides, even if you do end up wearing something outlandish as a result, you can use it to irritate Remilia.

“I leave it entirely up to you.”

“I’m on it!”

Your familiar zips off towards your bedroom quarters in the library, leaving you to appreciate the fact that she seems to have at least some knowledge and zeal. If it will keep Remilia off your case, it may pay off yet. It’s not like you even know what most of the bins that Remilia has sent to you even contain. Presumably clothes, but you already have enough of your own that you don’t need or want more. You sit back down with your book again for a few moments before your familiar sends you a magical note telling you that she’s got some clothes ready. You open up a portal to your room, where you are greeted by your familiar holding enough cloth to put all the merchants in Venice to shame.

“Okay, I’ve got some options lined up!”

The first option that you are presented with is some kind of lacy black thing that’s purpose seems to be to expose as much of the upper body as possible. You’re looking to show up, not show off, and thus give it the veto.

“Oh well, it was worth a shot.”

The next option she presents you with is reminiscent of the arabian dancers you often saw in your youth, with a light and airy lavender cloth sash to be wrapped around the upper body, and a long flat skirt of a similar color. You’re not sure why Remilia even had this, but you certainly won’t be baring your midriff tonight, so it’s no good as well, despite it’s nostalgic qualities.

“Not gonna show any skin at all, Lady Patchouli? I suppose that’s fine too, how about this?”

The third option is a flowing dress the color of pale light, almost white in fact, lavender. With just a stretch of the imagination, it could almost look like a wedding gown. Despite your family background, you don’t know or care much at all about fancy clothes, but you can definitely tell that it is of a high quality, though not gaudy like something Remilia would choose. Something about it just looks right, although logically you see the foolishness of wanting to have nice clothes and look pretty. The more you look at it, though, the less you find yourself thinking that, and the more you come to the conclusion that this shall be what you wear tonight.

“Do you know how to fit a dress? I doubt this one will fit me well.”

“Does that mean you like it? Yay! I do too. Of course, anything you like has to be the right choice, Lady Patchouli!”

“Yes, I think that it will be perfect for tonight. You did a good job, picking this out for me.”

“Thank you so much, Lady Patchouli. It really means a lot to hear you say that.” She clasps her hands together and looks at you warmly as she says that, catching you off guard as you try to figure out how to react.

“Well, it’s only the truth as I see it. Anyway, about that fitting?”

“Ah, right right. I’ll get on that right away, Lady Patchouli!”

While she gets to work preparing your outfit, you ask her where she learned about clothes and dress design, as she displays an obvious level of proficiency with it.

“Oh, I’ve read a lot of books about it, but this is actually my first time working with actual fabric. I hope I don’t mess it up too bad.”

You start to comment on how you doubt that, but you can’t really see any reason why she would lie about it.

“These books you read, they were from Voile?”

“Yep! There was a whole bunch of them. I read a lot during my break and came across them by chance.”

“I see.” You notice that she seems a lot more at ease talking while she is focused on working with something. The two of you settle back into the usual calm silence, until your familiar pipes up again.

“You said these were Lady Remilia’s old clothes, right?”

“Yes, they’re hand-me-downs from her. I don’t know why she got rid of this dress though, it doesn’t look like it’s ever been worn.”

“If I could fancy a guess as to why, I’d say it’s because it doesn’t fit her at all. In fact, it looks like it was made to fit you, Lady Patchouli, all these clothes do.”

Hmm. The plot thickens. These couldn’t be a brand new gift from Remilia, she would be much more flamboyant in their delivery if that were the case. They were brought in years ago by Sakuya without explanation after Remilia had bugged you about a party, so you assumed they were from her to encourage you to attend, but now that you think back to that, you’re beginning to wonder if there was more to it than just that. However, only knowing what you currently do, you can’t really reach any other conclusions yet. You shelve that for the time being, until you can ask Remilia about it again later. You adjust your bonnet contemplatively.

“Um, you aren’t planning on wearing that with the dress, are you Lady Patchouli?”

“My bonnet? I wasn’t planning on not wearing it.”

“No good, it’s definitely no good.”

“I always wear this.”

“Wearing a hat to this kind of a party is a serious faux pas, probably. Consider it a chance to let your hair down.”

“I always wear my hair down though.”

“It’s a figure of speech Lady Patchouli, and you know it.”

“Fine, I suppose if I’m changing out of my usual, I might as well do it completely.”

“Good, and looking at those ribbons you keep on your bonnet and hair, I just had a great idea. Why don’t we tie more onto your dress? I think it’d look really cute.”

“Cute? I don’t really have any sense for that, but if you say it’ll look nice, then go ahead.”

She grabs spare ribbons and makes idle conversation with you as she ties them on.

“Say, Lady Patchouli? Why do you always wear these ribbons? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without them on.”

“I usually just wear them to store enchantments that boost my ability to channel magic.”

“Well, you won’t need that tonight, unless you’re planning on getting into a fight. You aren’t, right?.”

“Well, I suppose that entirely depends on who the guests are and what kind of mood they put me in.”

“Just don’t damage your dress please.”

“Oh, it’ll only be damaged if I lose though.”

“Please don’t joke about that Lady Patchouli.” She pauses her handiwork to clap her hands together in a satisfied manner. “There we go, all done.”

“Alright, then I’ll be trying it on now.”

“Yep, go ahead.”

“....this is my room. I’ll be changing now.”

“Yep, go ahead. Wait, changing?”

“Yes. Leave.”

The only thing faster than your familiars departure from the room is the excuses she makes.

“Ah, so sorry Lady Patchouli. I got caught up in the clothes and things and I wasn’t thinking. Sorry!”

It’s not actually that big of a deal, but like a lot of things, she tends to make a big scene out of an ultimately small matter.

Now that you are alone in your room, you begin to change into your dress. Taking off your robe casualwear, you stop to consider yourself in the mirror for the first time in decades. All this foolishness with the party and the clothes must be getting to you, you’re even acting like Remilia now. After this night is over, maybe you should find some new project to work on, something to keep you from losing your way, to reaffirm yourself as a scholar. You berate yourself for so easily falling into her pace, for a moment just now, you were looking forward to this evening. You thought you were better than that. You’ll show her yet, though. You’ll go to her party, but you won’t lose yourself and what you care about most, either.

Turning the mirror around so that it faces the wall, you put the dress on, resisting the urge to move the mirror back to take a look. That’s not the kind of person you want to be, you decided that a long time ago.

As you finish putting on the dress, you hear your familiar’s voice from the other side of the door.

“Hey, Lady Patchouli? I was thinking, while we were trying on clothes, we could go for a ‘cool’ look. How do you feel about a pinstripe suit and tie?”

You get the feeling like this is just another chance for her to play dress up.


“Suit jacket?”


“Why not? I wear a vest and tie all the time. It looks nice, and we could be a matching pair~”

“A matching pair, huh?Does that mean you won’t be changing for the party?”

“Oh, I, uh, don’t really have any clothes other than my work uniforms…”

You’re the same way, you just have a few pairs of the same types of robes. Apparently it’s different for her though. From her tone of voice, even you can tell that she’s down about it. You don’t understand the kids these days.

You suppose that at this time, the only tactful thing to do would be to let her sample from the pile of clothes as well, and you have just the idea of what she should wear. As to why this is in a box of clothes that supposedly never belonged to Remilia, you’re really not sure. You’re curious, but you’ll save that for the further investigation that you already had planned for this box and it’s contents.

Okay, so this is only a partial update. Once I finish the rest of the update (the first part of actually being at the party), then there will be more heavily-story relevant voting. Thanks for waiting warmly.
In the meantime, while I finish that, mini-vote on what Koakuma should wear
[ ] Well then, what do you say to borrowing some of these clothes here?
- [ ] A dress that looks very similar to Remilia’s, albeit a larger size.
- [ ] Write-in.
[ ] What you always wear looks fine to me.

Additionally, I have two more rules to add.
Addendum #1. Don’t listen to any time estimates I make.
Addendum #2. Don’t listen to any update length estimates I make.
[x] Well then, what do you say to borrowing some of these clothes here?
- [x] A dress that looks very similar to Remilia’s, albeit a larger size.

I wish we'd gotten to vote on outfits. I would have definitely voted for going the other way around and matching Koa's suit.
File 140331079395.jpg - (476.50KB, 800x1131, c1ba16549e95d8512c8b363f12ba5bd0.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Well then, what do you say to borrowing some of these clothes here?
- [x] Write-in.

Pic related, though this could be rather similar to something Remilia might wear.
Koa in a suit might be nice too, but something tells me she'd rather be the one wearing the dress, judging by her interest in those romance novels.

You say that as if guys don't enjoy romance novels.

[X] >>60578
[x] >>60578
[X] >>60578

Well, my shipping goggles are now firmly locked into place for this story.
File 140400063636.jpg - (1.48MB, 2061x1159, Gift of the Magi SDM Party Clothes Finding Good Im.jpg) [iqdb]
That is a nice Koakuma pic. Good stuff, glad it won.
“Why don’t you wear this then? It seems like it would suit you.”

You pull out from the box a dress that is more scarlet than pink.

“S-Suit me? But this is Lady Remilia’s….”

“You said yourself that it can’t be hers. Beside, it was in the box, so it’s mine to give as I choose.”

“It’s such a pretty dress, there’s no way I can accept it..”

“I insist, red is more your color than mine.”

The only times you wear red, it’s entirely incidental, a result of a particularly poor day for your health.

“Well, if you’re sure it’s okay, then, um, I’d love to wear this.”

“It’s all yours, don’t take too long to get ready.”

You leave your room so that your familiar can get changed. While you wait, you pass the time with one of the books your familiar had read about clothing design. You don’t really see what about it interests her so much, but you don’t claim to understand the tastes of others. Still, it is pretty informative, as is to be expected of a book in Voile.

A few minutes into it, you hear the click of the door opening and look up to see your familiar come out in the dress. Despite your recent reading, you don’t yet have a good sense for whether it is good as an outfit from a technical viewpoint, but intuitively, you get the same sense that you got from your dress, that it is somehow very fitting. The outfit is entirely shades of red which compliment her features. You can’t shake the feeling that every article was made for her, although as a scholar you know better than to put any stock in feelings and hunches.

As she does a little twirl in the clothes, it occurs to you that she probably wants some sort of statement from you about her appearance. Is this kind of social expectation just a prelude for the rest of the night? Just thinking that already has a acidic pain pooling in your stomach and a tightening headache forming in the front of your skull. On the brightside, at this rate you’ll soon have your poor health as a very viable excuse for departing early.

“You look...nice?”

“You think so? Yay, I’m so happy.” Another twirl in place. Apparently she really wanted to hear that, the insincerity in your voice not managing to penetrate her optimism in the slightest.

“Ah, we’re going to be late if we don’t hurry up!” Your familiar sets off for the exit, and after a few moments to check to make sure your things are in order, you join her. You’ve got a very wary feeling about tonight, like you’re going somewhere dangerous very unprepared.

Oh, what a travesty that would be. Surely nothing in life could ever make up for being late for one of Remilia’s parties. Still, you can’t help but feel something you haven’t felt in quite a long time, a little flutter of nervous anxious excitement in your stomach. It sucks, and you curse Remilia idly in the back of your mind for putting you through this.

You depart from the library and float through the hallways to the ball room and dining areas that Remilia always uses for her parties. Floating a few meters in your wake now is your familiar, who makes no attempt to hide her excitement about the night’s events. Thankfully she’s not feeling compelled to share it with you, but her body language is enough to be mildly annoying, even though you know it’s not fair to push your irritation towards a certain vampire onto her.

Remilia always had a particular preoccupation with dancing, likely part of her aspirations of elegance and nobility. When you’ve asked her about it, you’ve always been given some bogus response about beauty and emotion and similar junk, but you and she both know that’s not a real answer. Nevertheless, you can be guaranteed that there will be dancing tonight, though the lack of suitable male partners here in Gensokyo might make the gendered dances a bit harder to pull off. Thankfully, you can, as always, use your illness to dodge her promptings, not that you would have had to worry about rebuffing any suitors even if you didn’t have such a convenient excuse.

No, wait, there was that one gentleman, the blonde one. A perfect gentleman, although you can’t remember his name anymore, if you ever knew it in the first place. He was such a perfectly upstanding gentleman, that when he saw a young quiet sick girl who had no one to dance with, his perfect gentlemanly conscience could not allow the night to continue with her alone. He matched your every refusal with his calm but determined insistence that he would dance with you in such a way that would not aggravate your illness. In the end, you relented, and true to his word, he led you through each dance, slowly and steadily, and for a moment, you were taken into his stride, and it felt like you were the only two people in the whole ballroom, dancing to only your own rhythm.

That was almost a century ago now, back when you were still a bit new to the mansion, before you could really understand that he was just using you to fulfill his own fantasies as the white knight that would ride in on his horse to save the sad maiden from her plight. He got his just deserts shortly afterwards in the onset of the Great War, when he and the cavalry division he led got mowed down by machine gun and artillery fire during a brave but ultimately foolish charge on a fortified position. At the time, like the fool that you were, you were totally distraught, but nowadays you’ve come to rather enjoy the irony of it. He died as he lived, chasing a silly chivalrous ideal that might not have ever truly existed in the first place, and you returned to your library, having learned what does and does not have true value in this world.

You arrive in front of the doors, and while you aren’t late, you definitely aren’t the first to arrive, judging from the sounds of activity coming from within. You feel a sudden tightness in your chest, and start to reconsider if this is such a good idea. Even if it will get Remilia off your back, you’ll have to deal with and be around people all night. Your headache is getting worse and you really want to turn around and leave now, but your familiar is here too, and you can’t show indecision, or worse, weakness, in front of a servant. Hopefully the noise will allow you to arrive without drawing too much attention to yourself. With a bit of luck and maybe some illusion magic, you might be able to go the whole night without serious irritations, and then you can return to the comfort of your library.

You open the door slowly and quietly, and notice a few things in short order. Firstly, there are a lot of people here, a lot more than you have had to deal with at once in quite a long time. Steeling yourself, you continue on. Secondly, to your surprise the old ballroom dancing accommodations are no longer set up, and instead the whole room is set up like a lounge.

You need to quickly find a group to mingle with so that you can blend in. You do a quick survey of your immediate options. Remilia is currently sitting next to the Hakurei shrine maiden and having an animated, albeit possibly one-sided, conversation with her. You should stop by to chat with Remilia at some point tonight for the obligatory banter and, more importantly, the identities of the people who she baited you here with. However, interrupting them right now might be a bit, what’s the word, uncouth? not to mention the possibility that it might give Remilia the incorrect impression that you are eager to chase her bait. Still, the sooner you could connect with a fellow intellectual, the better this night could go.

You do notice one person who is decidedly not an intellectual despite her seemingly endless appetite for books. You’re not actually sure if she even reads the books she steals from you; it’s hard to imagine that black-white ever sitting still long enough to get through a paragraph. For a moment you humor the idea of messing with her in retaliation for books stolen and quiet evenings in the library interrupted. You won’t be having a danmaku fight in this setting, but a little bit of well-placed magic on an unsuspecting rat could put her in an embarrassing situation and be most gratifying for you. Normally you would be above using your magic for such a base purpose, but as you see it, she’s long since fired the first shot in this war. On the other hand, this setting is far more suited to her, so perhaps it would be better to not fight this battle.

As you look around for other options, you notice that you are being watched. A magical servant, some kind of automaton made from a doll, is staring directly at you from across the room. When you make eye contact with it, or as close to eye contact as you can get with a doll, it turns around as if it wasn’t staring at you, and then flies away in a way that is obviously trying to be nonchalant, but fails horribly.You are about to give chase when you realize with a halt that doing so would turn all attention from it towards you. It’s a small thing, and in a futile effort to maintain subtlety, it’s holding back from a full speed retreat, so you might still be able to tail it while remaining incognito. Alternatively, you could put that on hold, do some more subtle investigating later, and for now just go meet Remilia or try to get back at the black white thief.

[ ] Follow the doll, you won’t be so easily spied upon.
[ ] For now, talk to Remilia for further directions around the party.
[ ] Rat trapping.
[ ] Wait, where did your familiar go?

We'll be at the party for quite a few choices, expect shorter, quicker, updates.
That being said, remember Addendum rules 1+2
[x] Wait, where did your familiar go?
Poor form to immediately bail on the person with whom you arrived.
Isn't poor form kind of what this Patchouli is all about? I say we let Koa have some space and meet some other characters.
[X] Follow the Doll.

Doll espionage gaems.
[x] Follow the doll, you won’t be so easily spied upon.

The plot marches ever forward! Don't let the precious plot threads get away!
[X] Follow the doll, you won't be so easily spied upon
[x] Wait, where did your familiar go?

Hopefully you don't vote as blindly as MokouAnon from that one story.

[X] Follow the doll, you won’t be so easily spied upon.
[X] Follow the doll, you won't be so easily spied upon
[x] For now, talk to Remilia for further directions around the party.
I have no idea who you're referring to, but I have no intention of doing so.

[X] Follow the doll, you won’t be so easily spied upon.

Hopefully Patchy can do so with some degree of subtlety.
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[X] Follow the Doll.

You sift your way through the guests to follow the automaton, with the magical incantation Sequor Sequi Secutus, a tracing spell, primed and on the tip of your lips in case the doll notices you and makes a sudden attempt at escape.

For now, you are taking the more subtle route, since the spell would undoubtedly be noticed by the dolls owner and put them on guard, if you noticing the doll hadn’t already.

There’s another magician in Gensokyo, or so you’ve heard. A human that turned herself into a youkai and now lives in the Forest of Magic and specializes in dolls. Another magician lurking around your library means trouble.

The black-white being here for the party makes sense, she’s more a social creature than a magician, but for a true magician to stroll into another’s domain reeks of ill intent.

Will she make an attempt on your library? Unlike the hoodlum thief, another real magician could break the arcane locks and steal your magical secrets, and would have the motivation to bring you harm to secure those secrets for herself.

You don’t have a taste for cloak and dagger intrigue outside of your hobby of recreationally reading mystery novels, but you do think you might now understand what Remilia sees in these parties. The people here let their guards down so easily. You can fool this aggressor into thinking that you too are letting the atmosphere get to you, and then she will reveal her true intentions when she sees weakness.

This kind of baiting strategy is certainly in line with what you gleaned from your reading of The Art of War, although you never expected to have to put it into practical application.

You now play a dangerous game, and therefore one you simply cannot walk into blind. If you are going to try to get close to this foe, you’ll have to think of a way to approach her casually. Now how do you do that? You don’t know anything about her beyond the fact that she works with dolls, and you’re not exactly a well-practiced conversationalist.

As you ponder the best way to approach her, you see the doll stop next to a girl who you assume is Alice Margatroid, the doll magician. Indeed, she is a girl who could easily be mistaken as a doll herself. She seems to be standing alone, but is craning her neck slightly and scanning the crowd as if searching for someone.

Seeing that she is starting to look in your direction, you turn away a moment too late and in the brief moment of eye contact, you see in her expression that she has found the prey she has been hunting, and begins moving towards you.

For a moment, you appreciate the irony in the similarity between your current situation and the one between you and her doll just prior, and briefly consider the possibility of adopting the same strategy as her doll did then and retreating full scale, before dismissing the idea. This is where the first battle of this war will be fought, and to show weakness now could be a fatal misstep.

You suppress your rising panic and do your best to calm your thinking. Before she arrives you need a plan of attack, a way to start a conversation that will give you the most information while surrendering the least, while still maintaining a cordial appearance to lower her guard.

The other alternative to a proactive offense would be to simply play defensive at first and let her do the uphill conversational work. While she’s tired, then she will show her weaknesses.

[ ] Offense from the outset, greet her first and begin conversation on your terms.
- [ ] Introduce yourself as a youkai scholar, avoiding mentioning anything detailed about your work with the arcane, attempt to get her to be forthcoming about herself. Know thine enemy.
- [ ] Ask about her work with dolls specifically.

[ ] Play defensive, let her lead the conversation at first.

[ ] Abort game, find a person to sit down and look deeply engrossed in a conversation with, she might give up if you look busy.
- [ ] Remilia and Reimu
- [ ] Marisa

A note about write-ins. A person, action, or a subject in a write-in might be invalid, i.e. a person isn’t attending the party, an action would be too out of character for Patchouli, or the write in is using meta-knowledge that Patchy doesn’t have and couldn’t guess. Feel free to ask clarifying questions about a setting if I haven’t made something clear. The worst that can happen is that we have a discussion about why a write-in might be invalid.

Or I’ll just take it as a compliment that you are voting for the options I provide, that’s fine by me too.

Also, I tried breaking up the paragraphs more this time. This better?
[x] Offense from the outset, greet her first and begin conversation on your terms.
- [x] Ask about her work with dolls specifically.
I doubt she's attending a party thrown by the Scarlet Devil and has yet to hear of the Unmoving Great Library.
Also, I didn't really have any problem with the larger paragraphs. If anything they might be a little TOO split-up now.
[X] Play defensive, let her lead the conversation at first.

Also yeah, it's much better.
To clarify about the introducing yourself option, you aren't trying to fool her, you are just deliberately avoiding talking about your work so as to not let anything slip, and trying to keep the conversation about her.

I can see how that would be misleading though.
[X] Play defensive, let her lead the conversation at first.
[x] Offense from the outset, greet her first and begin conversation on your terms.
- [x] Ask about her work with dolls specifically.
[x] Offense from the outset, greet her first and begin conversation on your terms.
- [x] Ask about her work with dolls specifically.

If we're trying to keep her on the back foot by talking first, we should try to get her to spill some details about her own work.
[X] Play defensive, let her lead the conversation at first.
[x] Offense from the outset, greet her first and begin conversation on your terms.
- [x] Ask about her work with dolls specifically.

Of course Patchy has read Sun Tzu, that should not surprise me at all.
I was very tempted to let the voting go on a little bit longer, cause it was close and because first impressions can have far-reaching effects.

However, I also want to start writing the update, so I'm calling it for [X] Asking about her dolls.
[x] Play defensive, let her lead the conversation at first.
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You need to ensure the safety of your library, thus you’ll have to be proactive. She’s coming at you with a mission in mind, so if she takes control of the conversation, it will be very difficult to not fall into her pace. From the very beginning, you will have to take the offensive to put her off balance. From there, an assault of further questions will keep the subject of the conversation fixated on her. You might be able to learn some very useful things about her, and more importantly, you will be seen as someone she knows, while all the important details about you and your work will be a mystery.

If she does end up being strong, and therefore a threat, which is entirely possible considering your health and more academic than militant focus of study, this will hopefully not allow her to notice, or at least not mark you as a person of interest for her. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. In the past, you’ve always ran. Better to pack up your notes, hold them tight to your bosom, and run to a new home than to risk it all.

The unfortunate truth that you all accepted when you came to Gensokyo is that there is no where else to run. You could try to escape back to the outside world, but that world without magic is now even less a home to you than a vampire’s mansion here. Your library and yourself, both composites of things forgotten by humans, but you'll not be so easily displaced here by this upstart. You will not go so softly into this good night. Tonight, you prove that Knowledge is real power.

Now for a plan. You’ve heard about this Alice Margatroid girl as part of Sakuya’s debriefing after the incident with the theft of the spring. An incident you were actually fond of in some ways, as the weather kept the usual pests away. It was Danmaku, but this Alice still lost to Sakuya. However, even Sakuya, who you doubt has the sense for such things despite her facade of perfect elegance, noticed that this Alice was holding back. You’ll need to find a way to assess her power, but the easiest way to go about that, a “friendly” duel, isn’t really appropriate for the situation, so you doubt she’d agree to one, not to mention the unintended effects it could have on your health.

Instead, you’ll have to learn about her magical techniques. Specifically, those dolls. Whether this is a hot, brief war, or one of slow and cold espionage between the two of you, she’ll likely be able to use them to her great advantage. Thus, it is paramount that you find their weaknesses and flaws now.

You can sense that she is getting close to you now, and so you turn around and close the rest of the distance yourself, hailing her from a bit farther away than is customary, and due to the distance, a bit louder too.

“Good evening, Miss Margatroid.”

A few heads turn in your direction for a few moments afterwards on account of the loud greeting, but such is the price you have to pay for seizing the initiative.

“My name precedes me? I’m honored, Miss Knowledge.”

“And mine as well. I’m something of a scholar on all things arcane, as you might have heard, and have been most interested as an academic in hearing about your famed doll magic.”

“You want to hear about my dolls? Really?”

Either she is a very good actor, or she is very enthused about this. However. there’s no way a magician would be so willing to divulge her secrets. Even if you were to butter her up with all the tricks you’ve picked up from Remilia, the chances of getting a foe to be intentionally forthcoming about their powers was statistically marginal. Or so you thought. The best you thought to do was distract her and maybe catch a slip-up.

There are two possible conclusions to draw from this. Either Alice Margatroid is not a normal magician, or she has no intention of actually telling you anything useful or accurate and this is a trap. Nevertheless, as long as you don’t fall into the trap, sniffing the bait out should be fine. It’s not like you can subtly pull out now anyway.

“Well, I am a scholar, and since I’ve never seen….Well what I mean is I’m always looking to learn more about foreign techniques.”

Fool that you are, you almost let slip a lack a knowledge, a sign of weakness. And it seems you might end up showing another, much more serious weakness too if you don’t play your cards right. The tension of the night and this encounter are already starting to take their toll on your health. The faint but distinct nausea, the dull but head-splitting migraines, the weakness in your limbs and, of course, the shortness of every breath that always precursors a coughing fit.

You’ll probably feel it tomorrow too if you push yourself for an extended time period tonight, but by your reckoning you can last through most of the evening without severe symptoms showing up, but your health is as fickle as the weather so you might need to excuse yourself early if it gets worse.

“......so I’d love to tell you about it, that is if you’re interested. Um, by the way, are you feeling okay? You’re looking a bit ill, Patchouli.”

Apparently she was talking while you were suppressing your illness from showing. You can’t help but notice that she’s switched to using your given name. This kind of quick familiarity makes you uncomfortable, but you’re more interested in covering up the extent to which your illness affects you.

“I’m fine, Miss Margatroid. Thank you for your concern though.”

“If you say so, but please, call me Alice.”

“I prefer to stay professional.”

“Well, as you wish. Shall we have a seat? I think I see a quiet corner over there where we can discuss our work uninterrupted.”

A quieter setting is fine by you, you don’t like the attention that you draw by mingling with others in the center of the party. Perhaps now is when she’ll show her real intentions in coming here.

The two of you make your way to the corner of the room, but are waylaid right before you reach your destination by Remilia, who makes herself known to you from behind with a pat on the back, at which you reflexively twitch forwards and tense up with a sharp intake of breath.

“What’s this? Trying to run away from my party, dear Patchy? And with one of my guests, at that. How very…..daring of you. “

“Unlike some people, I do not fancy such carnal pleasures as you imply. We are simply going to a quiet place to discuss our work with the arcane.”

“Is that what you kiddos are calling it these days? Well, even if that were the case, it doesn’t look like your body could hold up for that right now anyway Patchy.”

“I knew it, you were feeling ill before-” Alice attempts to get a word in edgewise, unsuccessfully, before she is cut off by Remilia.

“I understand your intentions, Miss Doll Maker, and I do commend you on being so thoughtful to our dearest bookworm. It’s a shame that they seem to be wasted on her.”

“I would appreciate it if you would not talk about me as if I am not present.”

“Oh, but you do it so often to others, I merely thought it just deserts. Although, it is also true that you easily blend into the background, so perhaps you would be better suited as furniture after all. I think a bookcase would be most fitting.”

“As if a single bookcase could never contain the sum of my knowledge. The only fitting vessel would be my grand library.”

Immediately after saying that, you realize that Alice is still with you. Damn. Thankfully, she seems to have been taken just as off balance by Remilia as you have, and is currently intently staring at her feet and might not have even noticed your slip-up at all.

It seems like, as long as Remilia is here, you’ll be at risk at falling into one of her traps. Worse, she seems intent on sabotaging any actual progress in this conversation, and thus delaying your opportunities to detach yourself for a moment of reprieve from this oppressively social atmosphere. Thus, you need to get Remila away from the two of you.

How to go about doing that is not so simple as that statement. In fact, you really have no idea at all how to disway Remilia once she has caught a scent and is on the hunt. She can sniff you most subterfuge from a mile away, as you learned many years ago. Instead it might be best to try to play her game and appeal to her sense of nobility and grace as a hostess.

“Remi, a good host ought to be more conscientious of your guests, right?”

“Ah, I see. You make a valid point, as is to be expected of Patchy. It seems I really am interrupting…..something, aren’t I? I’ll leave you to do that, but do try to not make a mess of it...”

“Not the kind of thing you seem intent on implying.”

“Whatever you say, Patchy, see you later.” She stops and looks down at the area around at your feet, adding “Extraneous actors should depart and give these two some privacy, right?” in a voice that didn’t feel like it was even trying to sound repentant.

You give her an inquisitive glance, but are only returned her usual smirk which betrays nothing.

“Ah, one last thing for the two of you. Don’t forget to use proper protection.”

With her acquisition of the last word, she walks off. A good thing, too, since you wouldn’t even start to justify that statement with a response. You should’ve known that she would pull something like that. She’ll act all pure and elegant when it’s convenient for her, but if you try to pin her down with it, she’ll simply change into whatever new form suits her best at the time. A true demon, if ever there was one.

You start to walk away before Remilia changes her mind, before noticing that Alice didn’t come with you. She’s back where you left her, with an expression on her face as if most of her mind was somewhere else. Remilia can have that effect on people, especially if it’s their first time dealing with her beyond her shell of perfect nobility.

You were once like Alice is now, a long time ago, before you learned how to deal with your vampiric host. You often forget the kinds of trouble that other people have with her. Even after all these years, you can’t claim to understand most of what she does. The trick, you’ve learned, is to stop trying to understand Remilia. Evidently, Alice is not currently choosing to do that, as she seems to still be trying to process the prior conversation.

You don’t have time for this, and you aren’t in the mood to try to get her attention with words while stifling a coughing fit that is welling up in your chest, instead choosing the quick but perhaps uncomfortable route and, after bracing yourself first, grabbing her hand in your own and leading her to the table.

She tenses up at first, but then settles into following you. She’s still looking at the ground, but you can tell her wits are collected again. With a start you realize that you just wasted a good opportunity to try to get some information out of her while she was distracted. You were acting just as foolish, but in a situation like this, you can’t afford to not take these opportunities.

Arriving at the table in the corner of the room, you lower yourself into a seat as Alice takes the one opposite it with a light sigh, speaking first and cutting off your attempts to get to the point of the conversation already.

“It feels good to be out of the thick of that. I don’t really go in for this kind of party setting when I can avoid it, you know? I can never seem to get comfortable around so many other people. ”

It seems like she does have some sense after all. A social gathering is no place for a magician, companions only distract and complicate things. Or is this also part of her ruse? There’s no way a sensible person would be so honest to a stranger. You certainly won’t be reciprocating, but nonetheless that is a hard statement to respond to. She seems to realize that too, and is about to apologize when you cut her off.

“I dislike noisy places, so here works for me better as well.”

“Good then, I’d hate to be forcing you into an uncomfortable situation then.”

Actually, this situation is still pretty uncomfortable too, but you hold your tongue.

“So then, Miss Margatroid. What business did you have with me?”

“Oh, I had something of a favor to ask of you. I’ve heard from Ma- from a friend that you have a very large and well stocked library here. I’m always looking for more reference materials to help me in my research on autonomous dolls, and I was wondering if you might lend me a few relevant texts if you had any.”

Your initial reaction is one of nausea unrelated to your health. The thought of giving away your books reflexively repulses you in many ways simultaneously. She calls it borrowing, but a certain black-white thief has taught you all you need to know about how “borrowing” works here. Speaking of the thief, she seems to be friendly with this Alice, so this can only mean trouble.

However, thinking more rationally, you have to concede some merit in allowing her some books. If these books are truly all she wants, then it would be an easy way to reduce magician border tensions. The Caliph could have averted the sacking of Baghdad if he had just bowed down and gave tribute to the Mongols. Instead of a tribute however, you could work this as a trade. If you offer to pick out texts to exchange for copies of her current reference materials, you can keep her out of the library and also possibly glean some useful information from the copies you receive about her dolls.

The final option is to allow her limited, supervised access to the library. Obviously, you would never let her see anything except but what you wanted, but if you act very welcoming and go along completely with this act of opening up to her, she might also drop her guard. It’d also be a good opportunity to continue talking to her, and as much as you dislike excessive socialization, she seems to be prone to slip ups while talking, so you should put yourself in a position to take advantage of that.

[ ] Nope. No visitors. No lending. Staying in your library only.
[ ] Keep her out of the library by proposing a trade.
[ ] Allow her supervised access to your library.
[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.
[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.
[x] Keep her out of the library by proposing a trade.

I'm not exactly opposed to letting her in the library, but following Patchy's logic, we gain basically nothing out of letting her into the library. This way, she gets what she wants and we get useful Knowledge as well.
[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.

Alice and Patchy are equally socially incompetent. This is hilarious to read, in a way.
[x] Keep her out of the library by proposing a trade.

If we can cultivate a business relationship with her then we could learn more about her larcenous friend.

[x] Ask if there any other magicians in Gensokyo.

Here's hoping she's as much of a Byakuren fangirl here as she is in Eastern Starlight Romance.
One can barely interact with people and the other sees threats in furniture. This is hilarious indeed.
[x] Keep her out of the library by proposing a trade.
[x] Keep her out of the library by proposing a trade.
-[x] Request a sampling of her Knowledge; surely if she came with the intent, she's at least prepared a list of that which she already knows.
[x] Allow her supervised access to your library.

"Magician border tensions" is a fantastic phrase.
[x] Allow her supervised access to your library.
[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.

This story is fun to read.
[x] Keep her out of the library by proposing a trade.

Heck, maybe Alice could steal Patchy's books back from Marisa. Now that would be a great deal, give up a book, get a book back in return.

[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.
[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.

As others have said, this story is greatly enjoyable!
Access to the library wins. Update in a day or three. This next one *should* be pretty short.

Again, I'm loving all the votes and support. I have so much fun writing this, and it's great to hear that other people are enjoying it too.
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[X] Allow her supervised access to your library.

You feel as if you may well be inviting a tiger into your own home by allowing this, but on the other hand, you’ll be able to monitor her much easier this way.

“For a fellow scholar, my books are your books.”

“Really? Thank you so much. You don’t know how much of a relief it is to hear that. I heard….well nevermind.”

You can manage a solid guess as to what she heard about you, but you don’t care what anyone else thinks of you, especially not the ignorant masses.

“My library is open to you, on a set of conditions.”

“What? Conditions? Oh, I mean, of course. Whatever requirements you have, I can satisfy.”

“Good. These are just a few things I ask for to guarantee the safety of my library and those who use it. Firstly, you are never to venture alone into the shelves. The spatial expansion magic makes it something of a labyrinth for the uninitiated. My familiar will be your guide. Secondly, you are to tell me or in my absence my familiar of any books you use here, and you must ask for my express permission if you wish to borrow any of my books for use outside of the library. Finally, this library has a zero tolerance policy on all forms of larceny, pilfering, purloining and burglary. This includes conspiracy to commit any of the aforementioned crimes, and I do assign guilt by association, so I hope your “friend” can restrain her tendencies for your sake.”

“Marisa? But she steals from me too…”

“Some friend you’ve got there, but that’s not my problem.”

“I’ll...I’ll talk to her about it”

You have a hard time imagining her starting a conversation with anyone, but then again, she did seek you out rather insistently.

“Well then, I look forward to working with you. When you want to come to the library next, the password to tell the gatekeeper that you’re here on my invitation is ‘Knowledge is power.’ Until then, Miss Margatroid.”

“W-wait a moment. Um, I was also wondering if we could stay together tonight.”

In the back of your head, you can hear Remilia snickering, but you hold back from the kind of comment that you know she would make, were she here.

Alice on the other hand seems to have realized the unintended second meaning in her words, and seems to be trying to hide her beet red face between her arms and the table. You take this as a convenient chance to try to take your leave again. You take one step away from the table before her voice. muffled through her arms, stops you.

“Please don’t go. I’m not like that, please don’t hate me.”

It’s not a word of power, there’s nothing magically compelling in that phrase, and yet you halt your departure completely and sit back down with her. In her voice just then, you thought you heard something familiar, something filled with the kind of nostalgia you can’t let go of. Rationally, you know better than to let yourself get attached to anyone, especially a potential threat, but you can’t bring yourself to leave her.

So pitiful and vulnerable, she reminds you of yourself as a child, before you found your calling. You had no purpose, and no one but yourself. This dredges up a lot of uncomfortable memories for you, and you hate to see her like this, but you know you can’t leave her now. You’ve probably been around humans too much lately, their sentimentality has been rubbing off on your terribly.

Alice seems to have recomposed herself somewhat, but she’s still not meeting your gaze or speaking. While the two of you sit at the table silently, you consider your options from here.

It looks like Marisa is doing something flashy in the middle of the room, so the bar area in the corner is deserted right now, and you’ve heard that some people deal with this kind of thing better while a bit intoxicated. Alice certainly looks like she could use a drink.

On the other hand, it might be better for both of you to get out of this party setting completely. You could both probably relax more someplace quiet like the library.

Finally, there’s nothing inherently wrong with just staying here and talking idly until she calms down a bit. It’s still isolated and low-key, although there’s no guarantee that won’t change later.

[ ] Go with her to the bar. You will, of course, abstain for your health. Give her just enough to get her tipsy and she’ll start feeling better. Maybe.
[ ] Bring her back to the library. You’re both done with being around so many other people. Might be a trap though.
[ ] Stay here at this table with her. Keep the conversation grounded in your and her work and studies, don’t let it get personal.


Turns out, I lied and updated today. Lots of free time.
[X] Stay here at this table with her. Keep the conversation grounded in your and her work and studies, don’t let it get personal.

Really enjoying this, as many other anons have said. Glad to hear it's just as fun to write!
>“Please don’t go. I’m not like that, please don’t hate me.”

...Wow, this line. It hit me far harder than I expected. I kinda want to hug Alice and tell her that of course I don't hate her.

[X] Bring her back to the library. You’re both done with being around so many other people. Might be a trap though.
-Inform Koakuma
[X] Go with her to the bar. You will, of course, abstain for your health. Give her just enough to get her tipsy and she’ll start feeling better. Maybe.

Jeez Alice, why did you even come to the party if you have no friends there.
[x] Stay here at this table with her. Keep the conversation grounded in your and her work and studies, don’t let it get personal.
[x] Go with her to the bar. You will, of course, abstain for your health. Give her just enough to get her tipsy and she’ll start feeling better. Maybe.

Maybe not the best choice for getting Patches a friend, but probably the most entertaining.
[x] Bring her back to the library. You’re both done with being around so many other people. Might be a trap though.
-[x] Inform Koakuma, but let her know she can stay at the party if she wishes.

Minor modification of >>60630's vote, they should probably be counted together when votes are called.

Because I think this is the easiest path for Alice to gain Patchouli's trust. Also the quickest way to lose it if she makes a wrong move, but that's part of the fun!
[x] Go with her to the bar. You will, of course, abstain for your health. Give her just enough to get her tipsy and she’ll start feeling better. Maybe.

If she gets a little alcohol, she'll lower her defenses and we'll have the upper hand in negotiations. Once that happens, we can steer the conversation however we like.
And besides, what better way to make some friends than with alcohol? In the future, when they're both good friends, they'll look upon this day with a fond smile and a nostalgic shake of the head. "Those were the days."
[x] Go with her to the bar. You will, of course, abstain for your health. Give her just enough to get her tipsy and she’ll start feeling better. Maybe.

She could stand to loosen up some.
Calling it for [X] Drinks.

Enjoy the ZUN Route.
koa route
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[X] Drinks with Alice at the bar.

Well, if some of stories you’ve read are any indicator, then the easiest way to lighten the atmosphere and improve the mood is to get her a bit drunk. Plus, it’ll move the conversation past the events of a few moments ago. And Remilia says that you have no tact. You’ve got plenty, obviously. Even defusing this kind of situation is easy with the social powers of alcohol. Or so you’ve read. A scholar has no need for it, and so you don’t have any experience with it, but theory is just as valuable as practical experience.

“Say, Alice. What do you say to going to get some drinks? The bar doesn’t look too crowded right now.”


She lifts her head and you see a dangerous glimmer in her eyes. You’re getting the feeling that this might not end well. However before you can try to redirect her interests, she’s already up and ready to go. You join her and together walk to the bar.

“So, Patchouli, what’ll you be having? Normally I like white wines, but right now I’m the mood for something much...stronger.”

The emphasis she places on that last word worries you. Still, the eagerness which she speaks is a stark contrast to how she was just a moment before at the table, so much so that she feels like a completely different person.

“Oh, I think I’ll have my familiar bring me some red wine.” You say as you conjure up a piece of paper folded like a plane and containing a message, which you send on its way to find your familiar. The message reads: Bring a wine glass filled with the high strength symptom relief to the bar.

It’s a medication of your own design, which you use to reduce some of the more distracting effects of your poor health that would otherwise reduce your ability to function as a scholar. Essentially it simply reduces pain throughout the body, but can’t offset the physical effects such as weakness or tendencies towards anemia and asthma attacks. You often take it diluted in your tea to offset the bitter taste.

You arrive at your destination, and Alice immediately reaches over the counter and grabs herself a bottle of sake, which she pours into a shot glass and knocks back before refilling it. You’re starting to have second thoughts as to whether this was a good idea. To distract her, you ask her about her work.

“So, tell me a bit more about your work. Right now you’re working on an autonomous doll, right?”

Even more so than when you invited her to drinks, you see her face light up when you ask about her dolls. She must really care about her research. As a fellow scholar, you can appreciate that kind of dedication to one's work. However, you still aren’t in the clear. Could she have learned about your philosopher’s stone? It would certainly be very pertinent as a power source for her dolls. The magical seals in the library haven’t sent you an alerts about any trespassers. You were a fool to bring it out against Marisa that day when Flandre was acting out. It’s your most precious work, not something to be used lightly. Knowing her, all of Gensokyo probably knows about it by now. Is her game to be trying to get close to you to make an attempt on the stone then? You won’t let her exploit your sentimentality, if it comes to that.

“Yeah. The gist of it is, well it sounds a bit weird to say it like this, but I want to create life artificially. The dolls I have now, they can only follow orders. My best two, Shanghai and Hourai, can learn and adapt to a degree, but in the end they’re just doing that in the way I’ve told them too. It’s still artificial, and though they can fool even me sometimes, I know they’re not really alive.

After saying that she takes another shot and then looks down sadly at the glass in her hands before pouring another shot and knocking it back too. Is it because she sees her work as a failure? You don’t really understand that. Even if it’s not finished, she has a purpose, she has something to work towards as a scholar, so why does she look so sad like that now?

“I see.” Even though you don’t really.

A temporary interruption comes in as your familiar brings you the previously ordered drink.

“S-Sorry about the delay, Lady Patchouli. Lady Remilia and Sakuya intercepted and stalled me on my way here, saying something about privacy. I’m afraid I didn’t really understand what they were talking about.”

“Oh, I’m just having a little talk with a fellow Magician, and that girl is taking it the wrong way. Your tardiness is no problem. Thank you for bringing me this, you’re dismissed.”

Bowing, your familiar leaves you and returns to the party in the direction she came from.

As for Remilia...You hope she doesn’t come to bother you again. If she’s really so concerned with your “privacy”, then she’ll leave you alone, but past experience has taught you that Remilia has her own definition of things like privacy and personal space.

“So, that’s your familiar?” She stops to take another shot and refill it.”She seems useful.”

“She is. As a scholar, having an assistant is very convenient. Do you have a familiar of your own?”

“My dolls act like one. I don’t mind doing housework, but I’d rather work with magic, so I have them take care of it for me.”
Another shot and another refill. How many has she had so far? She’s looking a bit red faced.

“I see.” Having a multitude of automatons working in the library would be a welcome addition, but you wouldn’t trust anything made with the help of another magician. They’d likely implant some kind of hidden override spell to allow them to take control.

The conversation peters out as you have nothing else to add and Alice seems preoccupied with preparing her next shot, and you realize how simple it became to have such an ordinary conversation. Either she is quick on the rebound, or she’s been intentionally acting otherwise. She takes another shot and you have to consider the further possibility that perhaps alcohol is simply a good way to calm people down. More than calm, it appears that she has well entered the “tipsy” phase of alcohol consumption.

You take the opportunity to drink your medication. Since it’s bitter, you tilt it back and empty the glass all at once. Since you usually take it with your tea, you don’t taste it, but this time, more than being bitter, it leaves a sour burning feeling all the way down your throat and causes you to enter a minor coughing fit. That’s not right at all. Perhaps you're familiar mixed up the dosages, or brought the wrong medication? That doesn’t seem likely. Ah, it must have been Remilia. She must have put something in your drink when she stopped your familiar. You ought to give her a piece of your mind.

However, as you rise from your seat, the floor suddenly starts to move out from under you and you feel very disoriented. Suddenly, you realize you’re falling backwards and begin to panic, flailing your arms around wildly for a few moments before realizing you fell back into your seat at the bar. Maybe...maybe you shouldn’t be walking around right now. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, just sitting here right now.

“What’s this Patchy? You’re looking pretty drunk right now, and just from one glass. You’re a lightweight aren’t you?” She laughs lightly to herself, leaning back and almost falling out of the seat before catching herself.

You’d tell her not to call you that, but you can’t seem to stop chuckling at how she almost fell off her chair. Wait, you almost did too. You don’t feel drunk. She totally is though, so you tell her.

“If I’m drunk, then you’re, um, drunker.”

“Pshh, I’m totally sober. I’m good with booze, unlike you Patchy. I even had a few drinks as liquid courage before coming to find you, I mean seeing you, and I’m still feeling fine.”

“You’re such a liar, you almost just fell out of your seat.”

“I’m sober, and I’ll prove it. I challenge you to a drunking….a drinking game.”

Hah. You’ve got this in the bag, she’s had way more than you to drink already. As Sun Tzu wrote, numerical superiority does not provide an advantage unless the correct strategy is used. Wait, that doesn’t sound like it works. Well, you’ve totally got the advantage here, so the correct strategy is to exploit your numeric superiority. Truly, you are a master tactician.

“I accept your challenge. Pour those shots.”

You each take a shot in hand, with you fumbling yours and almost dropping it before regaining your grip at the last moment. You each tilt your glasses back, and you start to cough from how horrid it tastes going down. A minute or so of wheezing later though and you feel fine and ready for the next round.

“Um, Patchy? You don’t sound too good. Maybe we should call it quits.

[ ] Magicians don’t turn back!
[ ] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?
[x] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?
fuck off
[X] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?
[X] Whatever, magicians don’t turn back!
[x] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?

>you see a dangerous glimmer in her eyes.
Not good, she's trying to get us drunk to steal our magical secrets! She already succeeded on one point!
Keep your wits about you, Patchy! Getting drunk in front of a fellow Magician is bad enough, but getting sick and passing out would be even worse!
[x] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?

Not cool Remi. On the other hand, pretty funny.
[X] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?
[X] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?
[X] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?
File 140506371138.jpg - (110.46KB, 943x683, Gift of the Magi Patchy Alice in a Tree.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Why were we having a drinking game in the first place?

Your brush with a severe coughing fit sobers you up for a moment. Damage control time. No more drinking. It must be a trap, she wanted you to get drunk, that’s why she challenged you to a drinking game, and that’s why she brought you to the bar. No, wait..you brought her to the bar.

Right, back to your initial plan. Now that she’s drunk you can grill her about any actions she might take against the library. At least, you’re pretty sure that’s what the initial plan was.

“So, other than research material, what else have you come here for?”

“I’m…not sure I understand what you mean.”

“I’m asking if you have any...ulterior motives.”

On second thought, that could have been a bit more subtle.

“Patchy, are you coming on to me?”


“Oh, nevermind. My mistake.”

Well that plan failed.

“By the way, Patchy. You look nice in that dress. Ah, the same for your familiar too in hers. You know I…..oh, I guess I can’t say that can I?”


“Oh, nothing. I was just admiring the craftsmanship of your clothes.”

You’re feeling really sleepy now. But you don’t want to go to sleep yet. You’re just going to put your head down on the table to rest for a moment and close your eyes.

“You know, It’s getting late, I should probably be going.”

Going. Going to take your books? No. If you let her leave, she’ll take your books.

“Stay here with me, Alice.”

You slip into darkness. What’s this strange sensation on your cheek?

[ ] So bright out. What happened last night?
[ ] You’re not up for this yet. Back to sleep.
Tiny update? Tiny Update. Since it’s short and the next one will be too, I’m gonna call the votes in a little over 12+ hours, whenever I wake up next.

If you guys had chosen to continue the game, it would’ve ended up in you blacking out, and this update would have started where this one ends, the morning after. Bonus scene get, good work.
[x] So bright out. What happened last night?
Remi spiked your meds. Not cool, Remi.

Also, Koa route where?
[X] So bright out. What happened last night?
-[X] Why is Alice in my bed too?
[x] So bright out. What happened last night?

Remi will pay for this, mark my words
Looks like I'm not the only one with Koa shipping goggles on.

[X] So bright out. What happened last night?
[x] So bright out. What happened last night?
[x] Is her hair brown or purple?
[X] So bright out. What happened last night?
That makes at least three of us.

[X] So bright out. What happened last night?
You'll get your chance to try.

Since you're so interested, I'll give you a little hint about the Koa events. You'll need to figure out how to change the status quo of their relationship. They've been master and servant for a very long time, and nothing has happened yet.


Anyway, I'm calling it for
[X] So bright out. What happened last night?

You guys might want to be mindful of Patchy's health. You wouldn't miss a scene by sleeping in anyway, you'd just get some rest and a different scene.
>You guys might want to be mindful of Patchy's health.

If you actually want us to take this into account you need to be more explicit about it. Nothing in the choices given implied this, which was probably why the vote was so one-sided. If there's no reason given to stay asleep (like, for example, Patches apparently needing more sleep) there was no reason to vote for that.

Remember something that is obvious to you might not be obvious to your readers unless you beat them over the head with it.

As I saw it, the fact that she was hung-over and had a long night previously would be enough motivation to sleep in.

As a heads up, you're not currently in the health danger zone, I do try to give fair warning when you would be overexerting yourself, but Patchy is a bit grumpier without her beauty sleep, and I do think it would serve you guys well in general to be keeping Patchy's health in mind for certain future choices.
>You'll need to figure out how to change the status quo of their relationship.
Write-ins have a hard time against provided options. I'm not saying they never win, or even that they rarely win, just that the odds are somewhat stacked against them.

>You wouldn't miss a scene by sleeping in anyway
And how are we to know that? Sleeping in causes time to pass, time in which ~things~ might happen.

>hung over
Youkai. Magician. Obviously Patchy would be more susceptible than most non-humans, and obviously sleeping in would help mitigate the immediate effects, but time spent unconscious is time that could have been spent using magic to fix everything.

>late night
You never indicated what time the party took place, nor how long Patchy was in attendance.

>As a heads up
If we're dealing with mechanics more involved than 'vote for interesting things' you should probably say so before we need to take them into account, not after.
Never said they'd have to be write-ins, just that it would be something to keep in mind when selecting choices.

And as for the rest...Sorry?


By that I meant a certain magician with gradient hair. Her powers would be good with hangovers.
Who, Byakuren?
Maybe I just don't know the character well enough, but which of/how would her powers be helpful...?

Byakuren specializes in physical enhancement magic, the sort of thing that'd help with a hangover. I suspect she'd have a lot of practice on her followers.
Don't Buddhist monks swear off, or at least avoid heavy consumption of alcohol though?
Given that the story takes place soon after PCB, I would think Byakuren is a bit too busy doing nothing in Hokkai to get involved here.
I doubt Patchouli knows who Byakuren is, especially since as >>60679 said this seems to take place during a time where she's not really in the picture...

Also, according to the wiki her specialty is just "can use magic", not any specific type. Where does physical enhancement magic come from?

Mahayana Buddhism is lenient about what the laity can do, and Byakuren's followers booze it up regardless ("I also remember seeing them eating meat and drinking... " http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Part_3). Shou is a particularly heavy drinker (http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Shou_Toramaru#cite_ref-1).


>Where does physical enhancement magic come from?

"Her magic is a kind that enhances the physical might of the body." (http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Byakuren_Hijiri)
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[X] So bright out. What happened last night?

Your head hurts. It’s so bright. You don’t remember going to bed. Why is it so bright? What happened last night? Resisting the urge to simply roll over and go back to sleep, you will your body into motion, sitting up and seeing that the curtains on your window have been drawn open for the first time ever, and the overpowering brightness from before was from the sun reflecting off the snow outside your window. You get out of bed and stumble over to the curtains. As you close them, you notice a note left pinned onto the back of them.

It reads “Dearest Patchy. I had Sakuya open up your curtains, so that you could have the full hangover experience. You can thank me later, you’re welcome. - <3 Remilia.”

As you see the note, you start to remember the events of the previous night. That Remilia…she’s a demon through and through. You’re not amused by her jokes, however. You make a note to yourself to give her a stern talking to. You’re not really sure if that will accomplish anything, but it would be some nice stress relief to chew her out a bit in return for all the crap she’s put you through.

Then again, even just thinking about Remilia too much is giving you a headache. You instinctively grab for the pain relief powder and glass of water you keep on your bedside table. Usually you use it for the days when your health keeps you bedridden, but this is a special case. Right before you take it, you do a quick magical purity test to watch out for any “additives” that Remilia might have added to this batch as well. You take a small sip, and find that it does taste bad, but the usual bad. You really ought to be this cautious all the time, but you’ve let yourself grow soft during your seclusion in the library.

Finishing off the rest of the glass, you are about to go out into the library proper when you realize you’re only wearing underclothes. Evidently, you are still a bit disoriented from last night. A shower sounds far more appealing than anything that could even possibly involve dealing with anyone else right now. You can still smell the alcohol on your breath and how you feel can best be described as simply gross.

You strip down and enter the warmth of the shower. You can see why, in the stories you’ve read, a shower is the preferred answer to a hangover. It feels like all the troubles of last night are washing away down the drain. You leave the shower feeling refreshed, and change into your standard robes before heading out of your room and into the library.

On one of the couches you keep in the library for reading in, is Alice, sleeping and looking decidedly unrefreshed. She’s still wearing the dress from last night. Why was she in here without you knowing? Did she try to go through your books while you were asleep? Perhaps she tried to steal something? But then why would she stay here afterwards? First of all, how did she get in without triggering your alarms?

“Oh, Lady Patchouli, you’re awake. A-are you feeling alright now?” Your familiar speaks softly as she enters your vision from the left, back in her usual work uniform.

“Yes, but my memory gets spotty on the later details, such as how and when I returned to the library. Care to fill me in?”

“Of course, Lady Patchouli. But, um, should we really be talking here so loudly. Miss Margatroid is sleeping over here.”

“Yes, she’s sleeping in my library, but I really do not care to accomodate every, or in fact, any drifter that finds their way in. Which reminds me, do you know how she got past the seals and entered the library?”

“Oh...Should I have not done that? I’m sorry Lady Patchouli! She was with you, so I thought I should bring her back to the library with you.”

Does she not understand the importance of defending the library from intruders? You start to feel very frustrated in how easily she let a possible enemy into your domain while you were incapacitated, but there’s no use venting those frustrations on her now. She obviously intended no harm. You will however need to give her a lecture at some point soon about the dangers that face you and your books, and specific instructions as to how “Miss Margatroid” should be dealt with while she is in the library.

“I understand your reasoning, and nothing bad came of it, so it’s fine. In the future, however, please do not casually let outsiders into Voile.”

“Understood! Thank you for your leniency, Lady Patchouli.”

“So as I understand it, you found Alice and I at the bar, and brought us back. We were both unconscious at the time?”

“No you were technically awake. Well, you were able to walk, so I just acted as your support.”

You have absolutely no memory of your familiar finding you, or anything beyond Alice saying something about your clothes. As it is, the whole second half of the evening feels more like a dream, or perhaps a nightmare, than actual events. Alcohol is a powerful and scary thing indeed. Speaking of clothes, though…

“So, when you brought me back to my room, I was fully clothed, correct.”

“Ah, um, that was me, sorry. I just thought you wouldn’t want to sleep in your dress.”

That’s rather presumptuous for a familar to assume. Although, truthfully you are glad that the dress wasn’t damaged. For reasons you can’t really put words to, it feels important to you.

“It’s fine. You did the right thing. It was just an inquiry of mine.

“Thank you for the praise, Lady Patchouli.”

“I have one final question. Is there anything else about the events of last night that I should know about?”

She looks a bit red faced and looks away, but doesn’t speak for a moment. This girl is a terrible liar, and evidently she knows that well enough to not try.

“Um, yes. Well it’s more something from this morning than last night, but you should probably take a look at todays Bunbunmaru.”

She picks up a newspaper from a nearby table and extends it towards you. Right, Bunbunmaru is the name of that tabloid. You pick it up and read the headline: “Breaking News: Scandalous Hook-up between Two Magicians!” The article continues: Patchouli Knowledge and Alice Margatroid were seen talking, drinking and then leaving together at the New Years Party of the esteemed Remilia Scarlet. The hostess had this to say, “Those two were obviously interested in each other. I think Alice makes a good pair for my dearest friend Patchy.” But this reporter wonders, could Miss Knowledge’s health condition turn this story of two love birds into a trajedy? Look forward to more info in the next update on this breaking news story.

You’re not happy about this. Apparently your illness is common knowledge. It is likely only their ignorance and illiteracy that keeps every resident of Gensokyo from even now battering down the door to your library to try to take advantage of a perceived weakness and take your books

As for the subject of her article, you really couldn’t care less, aside from the obvious fact that you don’t like being in any spotlight. You’re also annoyed by the implications of Remilia talking about you to the reporter, this reeks of another of her schemes.

Setting the tabloid aside, you consider what you want to do, now that you’re hangover has started to clear. As you currently see it, your options are as follows.

Firstly, Remilia went too far last night and she needs to know that you won’t be tolerating further pranks. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much you can do to stop her if she doesn’t want to stop, short of moving out of the mansion, but that is very simply not an option. You would never leave your books, and the idea of leaving the relative safety of your library to brave the harshness of gensokyo does not sound appealing at all.

Maybe an honest and straightforward appeal would get through to her. If she likes you enough to house you, maybe she’ll actually care enough to listen. Or maybe, as you expect, she just houses you here to have convenient access to a knowledgable person and as a recipient for her pranks, in which case it might just make her want to target you even more.

If showing weakness isn’t on the agenda, then you could give her the response that she undoubtedly wants, and then some more. She pranks you to get a rise out of you, and she’s succeeded. Even if it exactly what she wants, it might be satisfying to go all out and vent your frustrations on her directly.

If neither of those options seems like it would work, then your final option for dealing with Remilia is not to deal with her at all yet. You won’t forget what she’s done, but you’ll let the issue rest until you see your chance to strike later. She’ll see what it’s like to be pranked, and then maybe reconsider her actions towards you. Of course, this wouldn’t involve taking any action at the moment and would allow you to do something else now.

You also have the question as to what to do with Alice. While you could just set your famliar to watch her if you don’t want to deal with her right now, it might be best to wake her up, and then see to her departure, personally.

Speaking of your familiar, now is as good a time as any to be explaining to her in detail your policy with regards to Alice and future intruders. Better to do it sooner rather than too late.

[ ] Heartfelt appeal to Remilia. You’ve had enough, you don’t want to fight this war, let’s just hope she accepts your surrender.
[ ] If Remilia wants a piece of you, then she’ll get it with interest. You can’t beat her in a fight, but that won’t stop you from giving her a piece of your mind. At the very least, a bit of yelling at her will make you feel better.
[ ] As comfortable as your couch probably is for sleeping, Alice has her own bed at her own home. Move along, Miss Dollmaster, nap time is over.
[ ] Actually, it’d be best to give your familiar that lecture now while you have the chance.
[x] If Remilia wants a piece of you, then she’ll get it with interest. You can’t beat her in a fight, but that won’t stop you from giving her a piece of your mind. At the very least, a bit of yelling at her will make you feel better.

I feel it's important to encourage Remi to help Patchy get more magician tail in the future.
[x] Actually, it’d be best to give your familiar that lecture now while you have the chance.

Ignore Remilia, let Alice sleep. Let's get some ground rules settled with our familiar.
[x] Patchouli, you're a Magician. Capital M. Use magic to get your revenge, by enveloping the entire mansion in a field of Silence.
[x] Patchouli, you're a Magician. Capital M. Use magic to get your revenge, by enveloping the entire mansion in a field of Silence.
[x] As comfortable as your couch probably is for sleeping, Alice has her own bed at her own home. Move along, Miss Dollmaster, nap time is over.

And after that, we can prank the ever-living snot out of Remilia. She'll never expect to get beaten at her own game.
You know, I already had a plan involving casting a Silence spell on the library to void the noise from the party if you didn't go, so this write-in could be perfect chance to still use that. Very prescient, Anon.
[x] Patchouli, you're a Magician. Capital M. Use magic to get your revenge, by enveloping the entire mansion in a field of Silence.

I can get behind this
[x] Patchouli, you're a Magician. Capital M. Use magic to get your revenge, by enveloping the entire mansion in a field of Silence.

Wouldn't it be funnier to apply it to all of Gensokyo, then watch Reimu come wreck shop all over people who can't even defend themselves?
Calling it for the Silence spell.

Be quiet in the library. Now magically enforced.
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[x] Patchouli, you're a Magician. Capital M. Use magic to get your revenge, by enveloping the entire mansion in a field of Silence.

You’ve got the perfect idea of how to turn the tables on Remilia. There’s nothing that she loves more than the sound of her voice, so if you can show that you can take that away from her if she goes too far, for instance during her next party, she’ll likely reconsider her habit of pranking you.

How you’ll accomplish that will be a Silence enchantment, large enough to cover the entire mansion. Of course, you’ll have it configured to be easily disabled, since you can’t afford to not have access to your incantations, just in case of an emergency. It would be potentially possible to have the enchantment not affect your voice, in which case it would be a candidate for inclusion in your libraries defense systems, but you would first have to do quite a bit more research on the subject, since it is far from your specialty, not to mention the power requirements of having such a large enchantment primed and ready to activate at all times.

You set your familiar to work preparing the necessary magical circles and seals in a secluded room, while you go to the hidden chamber amongst the shelves in which you have hidden the Philosopher’s Stone. You reach the inconspicuous entrance in the reference section of the library, find the outdated esoteric mathematics book, and apply a touch of your magical signature to it to open up the gateway to the hidden room in which you store the stone. It’s more a crystalline prism than a stone, reflecting and refracting all light that enters it into a rainbow of color. It has a similar effect on magic, resonating with that of its owner to increase potency by magnitudes, to the point of being limited only in its user ability to correctly direct the power, as well as being able to separate a raw stream of mana into its highly refined subsidiary elements, which you, as an elementalist, utilize extensively in your research.

The creation and improvement of this stone is your life’s work and your greatest achievement. It’s not technically complete, but you doubt it will ever truly be. That is simply the nature of any study into the arcane. A tool improved can in turn be used to make a better tool. You honestly don’t know what exactly you are looking for in the end, or why you want it, but you do know that if you ever find it, you’ll know. For now, you simply oblige your intellectual curiosity at every chance you get.

Aside from the intellectual outlet, being a Magician does have its other perks. This situation being one. You didn’t study magic in order to use it for prank wars, but you won’t deny that it will be satisfying to be able to one-up Remilia. You pick up the stone and find it warm, as always, from the latent magical energy fields that surround and emanate from it.

Returning to the room you had your familiar set up the enchantment circle in, you see that she has just completed drawing out the final set of supporting seals. Of course, that level of dedication to efficiency in work is exactly what you would expect of a familiar of yours. Standing with the stone in your hands in the middle of the circle, you begin to channel your magic power through it to be amplified, then spread out through the lines of the circle as the whole pattern begins to glow a faint purple. You control the flow of the energy through the stone as the whole pattern is brought to a stable activated state. The enchantments effect is instantaneous, all noise within the library, and presumably the rest of the mansion as well, is canceled. Complete silence reigns supreme, and all is calm. You motion your familiar to bring over one of the small crystals that you keep charged with magical energy. Setting it inside the circle, you can now be secure in the fact that its power supply will be autonomously stable now.

With the enchantment now in effect, you can just wait here until Remilia comes to make terms for you to end it, terms that will include her realizing that her pranks are not without consequence. It’s a real shame that you didn’t get to see directly what mischief your spell might have caused, but that’s not why you did it, that would make you no better than her. You figure she’ll be here in a few minutes or less, and it would be very amusing to be nonchalantly reading a book as she enters. Plus, you couldn’t have it seem as if you were waiting for her. As soon as you think that, you realize that she’s been rubbing off on you terribly, for you to actually be concerned about things like that.

You open up a book to pass the time and definitely not to look busy and unconcerned for when she arrives. There is an eerie effect to complete silence, although you’d never admit it out loud, not that you could right now anyway. The absence of common noises, like footfalls and the turning of book pages, is unsettling. All you’ve ever wanted is a silent place to do your research uninterrupted and without the constant distractions and troublemaking people you have to deal with here, but now that you have true silence, you have to wonder, is it really what you want? You stay here because your books are here, but is that the only reason? Truthfully, you can’t really even imagine leaving and setting out on your own again. You’ve been here so long, and the world outside is so full of unknowns, that you’ve simply gotten used to the idea that the only thing for you to do is stay here.

Your musings are interrupted by the forceful opening of the library door. Remilia strides in, and you notice odd tears in her clothes. You don’t have time to consider their origin though, as she locks her unusually scarlet eyes on to you and moves forwards in a steady but methodical manner. You recognize her demeanor with a shiver, it’s the same as when her hunting instincts are in full swing. You feel yourself tense up involuntarily, feeling the dangerous intent coming off of her. As she approaches, you have to stop yourself from instinctively acting in self defense or fleeing. She’s predatory enough to not react well to either. You force yourself to look as calm and collected as possible as she advances on you.

Before she closes the distance, you could try to drop the silence enchantment and then bombard her with your entire arsenal at once. You already have a list of possible countermeasures to vampires, but you haven’t had a chance to field test them as extensively as you would like. Sun magic might be able to weaken her; flowing water could be impassible to her; Conjured silver weaponry might land lasting wounds, and as a final option that you hope to never have to use, a wooden stake.

However, you thought up those defenses only to subdue Flandre in a worst case scenario, and even then you don’t know if you would actually be able to go through with it. Although your magic has battle applications, you are uneasy about using it to hurt someone you know. In the end, you simply don’t have the guts to do anything except stand perfectly still and keep your legs from buckling as she walks up to you. She reaches you. Putting a hand up to your neck, she traces a single finger along your skin, writing out letters with her nail spelling out “End It.”

You get the picture, and you certainly aren’t going to push her when she’s like this. With a wave of your hand, you send the magical signal to end the enchantment.

“Don’t do that again.”, she says with a hiss. “I was reading a bedtime story to Flan. She doesn’t take well to things she doesn’t understand, like the sudden and complete absence of sound.”

In any other scenario, you’d fire back that you don’t take well to her pranks, but the words get caught in your throat, possibly because of her hand still grasping it.

Your familiar leaps out from among the shelves, saying “Leave Lady Patchouli alone!” and flinging a book that hits Remilia in the side of the head, causing her to turn her head with a snarl. Normally you wouldn’t condone the weaponization of your books, but you’ll make an exception just this once.

The distraction seems to snap Remilia from her rage-like trance, and noticing that her hand is still a grip away from throttling you, releases you. You back away, massaging your neck. The cold fury from before is already visibly draining from Remilia, but you still don’t trust being close to her. She watches your retreat for a silent moment, before turning away and leaving the library without another word.

You let out a long breath and sink down into your chair to let your heart rate stabilize and to keep your legs from falling out from under you. A sudden coughing fit tells you that the stress of the previous encounter seems to have triggered an attack of your illness. You dig into your pockets to find the sealed vial of medicine and drink it down, although at best it will only reduce your pain. Your familiar, recognizing your symptoms, goes off to prepare your usual pain and cough relieving tea.

Normally you would retire to the couch you keep in the library when your illness is worse like this, but with it occupied by your uninvited guest, you don’t have that option. Hopefully she slept through the previous encounter with Remilia and won’t be witness to your impending illness; It wouldn’t be good to show such weakness in front of a potential rival. Your fears are confirmed when you glance over in the direction of the couch to see Alice awake and standing silently by it.

When you make eye contact with her, she speaks up, “U-um. Are you alright, Miss Knowledge?”

So you’re back to Miss Knowledge? Good, but you’d prefer to be nothing at all to her.

“I’m fine. I’ll just be laying down for a moment.” Your sentence is punctuated by a cough as if your body is seeking to call you out on your lie.

“If you say so. I’ve heard about your illness, but it seems a lot worse in person.”

You move over to the couch and lie down. Alice pulls up a chair from your nearby desk to sit next to you.

“Is there a reason you’re sitting here, Miss Margatroid?”

“It’s, uh, bad to leave sick people alone, right?”

“That’s for fevers.” Two more coughs.

“Still, I wouldn’t feel right leaving while you were like this.”

Your illness prevents you from responding, which she takes as you conceding to her presence. You know why she’s staying, though. She wants to see your illness first hand to gauge your weakness. Not to mention, this would be the perfect time to attack you. She’s been allowed into the heart of your fortress, you are at your weakest, your familiar isn’t at your side, and Remilia wouldn’t come to your aid either. You’ve lost completely, and are powerless to stop her now. The question is only when she’ll make her move.

“Um, Miss Knowledge? You’re staring.”

Right, some people get uncomfortable from that. No, she’s just trying to distract you with that act of hers. You have to break eye contact due to another coughing fit.

“Oh, I see. You can’t talk because of your illness. Is there something you want?”

Peace and quiet. And tea. You shake your head to tell her that you don’t need anything from her.

“Okay. Well, if you do need something, then be sure to tell me.”

As she says that, she starts to scoot the chair so that she’s facing away from the couch and has her back turned to you.

You rasp out a “Why?”

She doesn’t turn around completely to respond, just enough for you to hear, but not enough to make eye contact.

“Oh, the chair. Sorry, it’s just a thing I do sometimes. I’m, uh, not very good at talking, you see. And looking people in the eye is, uh, sometimes…” she trails off.

“Anyway, I wanted to apologize for last night. Maybe we could have a fresh start? Also, we both had a lot to drink, so I was wondering how much you remember… Oh, but don’t push yourself to speak if you can’t right now.”

[ ] (lie) “I don’t remember much of anything beyond meeting you.”
[ ] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”
[ ] (lie) “I remember the whole night.”
[ ] Cough. Avoid the question. Information Warfare.

Major tonal shifts in the middle of the update? I have no idea what you’re talking about…
[X] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”
[X] Cough. Avoid the question. Information Warfare.

Seeing as how Patchouli is being rather paranoid cautious, I think she'd prefer to use the weakness she's already shown to avoid giving up another one.
[x] (lie) “I don’t remember much of anything beyond meeting you.”

With this, we can gauge how much she's willing to share about what we already know happened. We'll be able to tell if she's lying or being truthful about what we remember.
From that, when Alice goes on to talk about the things we actually don't remember, we can make an educated guess as to whether she's being truthful or not.
Besides, it's good practice to keep people underestimating you. All the better to take them by surprise in the end.
[x] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”
[x] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”

Not the most successful of pranks.
I'd say it accomplished plenty of things unintentionally, just perhaps not the original goal.
The original goal was to inconvenience Remilia as payback for inconveniencing Patchouli.
I'd say it was succesful that far at least, even if not in the way originally intended.
[x] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”
Couple of run-on sentences in that update.
Also, bit of an overreaction from Remilia, considering she spiked Patchy's medication with alcohol. That's just flat-out dangerous.

Good job on that by the way. Hopefully that'll teach those hooligans not to vote for fun things.

[X] Cough. Avoid the question. Information Warfare.
[x] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”

Considering Remilia had no problem spiking Patchy's medicine, I wish Patchouli had ground out, while Remilia was choking her that at least her prank didn't have the potential of killing people. Spiking medicine is fricken dangerous.
[X] “I don’t remember much beyond going to get drinks.”
Well it seems to have frightened Flandre enough to make her scratch Remi up something fierce. Panicked Flandre can certainly kill people.
Yeah, it could actually be the other way around: swapping (not spiking) Patchy's medicine for alcohol didn't really have any risk of hurting her since it just treated symptoms, while Patchy could have caused a major disaster by neglecting to exclude Flandre's room(s) from her spell.

It's fine for write-ins that ask Patchy to act cooler than she's capable of acting to backfire. She's got a problem with a capital P, and if we could just vote [x] Become Social it wouldn't be a very interesting story.

It's just like Alice's Life Sucks, and that's cool because ALS is great.
I don't see it that way. I think Remilia's prank was just as careless, and remilia had no way to know whether the results would be fine or not, same as what Patchouli did just now. Just so happens that this is how the cards fell.

Or not, cause there's always a damn bigger plan at hand, isn't there.
I'm calling the votes for telling her what you remember honestly. Espionage has a time and a place, but when you're coughing up a lung, you're simply not up for it.

My bad, my editor/proofreader was busy with rl stuff and I decided to just go ahead and post.

Remilia takes anything involving her sister very seriously. Other people, she'll play around with and prank pretty casually though. Not a good trait to have, but it's in her nature.

True. I'm realizing I didn't say that as clearly as I should have.

I hope this doesn't make people want to not vote for fun things, because fun things are fun to write.
I was trying to say that I hope you don't see this as a total loss or a punishment even though it didn't go all according to keikaku.

In hindsight, I saw that I had broken the rule of CYOAs that goes something to the tune of, don't punish your reader's decisions arbitrarily or for reasons they wouldn't reasonably be able to expect. I'll try not to do that as badly in the future.

It's true that in this case it wasn't medicine that was vital to Patchy's health, but it's still a very uncool thing for Remilia to do. I'd say they both did things they shouldn't have.

I do appreciate you recognizing the limits that you'll be acting within as Patchy. So far in general all the anons here seem to be doing a good job of staying in the character's mindset.
Also, not gonna lie, I enjoy Alice's Life (sucks) a lot, and it may or may not have been one of my inspirations to start this story.

Of course there's a wider plan at work, there's subterfuge afoot everywhere. Protect the library and expel any interlopers!

My sarcasm may have been a bit heavy handed, but it's good to see you understood what I was goin for.
Ehhh as long as you are not gloating about us being stupid it's okay.

Makes it feel like there is an actual world that doesn't revolve around us.
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[X] “I don’t remember much beyond getting drinks.”

You’re in no state to be attempting espionage, and would more likely be entrapped by her then glean any useful information. Besides, nothing of what you know and would tell her of last night was of any tactical usefulness. Thinking back to it,

You’re also not going to be able to speak, so between coughs you sift through your robes to fish out the notepad you use to save yourself the trouble of conjuring paper when you’re ill. Pressing your hand against the top sheet, you use your note taking spell to magically transcribe your message before tearing it off to give to Alice.

“Oh, I see. That’s a handy spell.”

Rather than handy, it’s elementary. It’s one of the first techniques most magicians learn, which leads you to suspect that she has not had a standard magician education, if anything can be called as such. Or perhaps she is merely attempting to convince you that she’s is a novice so you’ll let your guard down? She obviously has a high level of skill, to be able to manipulate her dolls like that.

She finishes reading your recollection of last night, noticeably cringing at one point. You simply gave an overview of the events as you remembered them, so perhaps she was embarrassed having her outburst from the night before brought up again. Embarrassment is, however, just a feeling, and you know that feelings have no place in a scholarly mind. With a scowl, you remember your own weakness towards her after that. You should purge yourself of such feelings before they cause trouble for you.

Your familiar should have returned with the tea by now. Could she have been waylaid by Alice’s doll? You haven’t seen it in a while. From now on, you’ll have to be sure to not let it out of your sight.

“So, you remember that from last night too, huh? To be honest, that’s the last thing I remember. Waking up in your library today, and realizing that you still stayed with me after that...it really meant a lot to me.”

You don’t really know how to respond to that. The silence that follows is only interrupted by occasional coughs from you.

After the short period of silence, you're familiar arrives with the tea before returning for some . You drink it down quickly, and soon enough the effect begins to dull the pain and reduce the severity of your coughing. Underneath your cup is a note, presumably from your familiar. “Ask her about her dolls.” That’s right, you shouldn’t get distracted from your original objective, and while you can’t do very much talking, it’s a perfect chance to have her explain more about her dolls.

“So, your dolls. What powers them?”

“I do?”

“What I mean is, what are you storing the power in?”

“The dolls?”

Your response is too long for you to say, so you transcribe it onto a slip of paper. “We’re talking about different things. I’m asking, what part of them you’re putting your magic in as a core.”

“No place in particular? I just, uh, form my magic into threads, and attach it them? To be honest, most of what I do is stuff I’ve just picked up by tinkering, so I was hoping that I could benefit with some by-the-book knowledge.”

So she just tinkered with magic and got this far? It’s definitely not impossible, Gensokyo already has it’s self-taught thieving rat as proof, but it does seem unlikely that she would get as far as becoming a youkai without serious academic study. You take another slip of paper to inquire.

“If you haven’t learned your magic from books, then where did you learn the method to become a youkai?”

“So, you’ve heard that I was a human once?”

“Most advanced youkai, including myself, can easily sense the strong human presence in your mannerisms and the way you carry yourself, but back to my original question.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you that. It’s a secret that it would be much better I keep.”

“I see. Then I’m afraid I cannot allow you to use this library.”

“Well, I guess if I have to, I can trust you more than most people, Patc-Miss Knowledge.”

A doll carries over a large black book, magically and physically nondescript aside from a large lock on the front, but you’ve learned to never judge a book by its cover. Often, the most powerful grimoires are those with the most mundane appearances, their true power hidden under seals and barriers.

“This is my Grimoire, a demon book which belonged to my mother before I read it and tried to use it’s power to expel some intruders from our lands. Unleashing its power had the side effect of turning me into a youkai, and so here I am today.”

“I see. May I ask for a demonstration?”

“Um, I don’t usually show others, but I suppose a little bit would be okay. I’m a bit nervous, so I might mess this up.”

She presses her hand against the book and the lock clicks open. Immediately tides of magical energy begin to flow out of the book through her. You can tell she’s focused, but her slightly timid nature still shines through.

“Hmm…Like this then, I guess?” She says as she sweeps her hand and the light behind her splits into a seven colored rainbow. “I don’t have any spell cards that use it, since back then was before the new hakurei rules were made, and I haven’t really used it since.”

“I think I get the gist of it. To be frank, I’m curious why you don’t use it more often, it seems to far outclass your dolls.”

“If I ever fought a duel I needed to win, then I suppose I would, but there’s nothing elegant about full power at every opportunity. Well, I guess that sounds a bit conceited, but I guess it’s also that I wouldn’t want to win by relying on some kind of tool.”

“So your dolls don’t count as tools then?”

“Ah, I guess you’ve got me there, but they feel more like partners than just tools. Kinda, well, creepy to say though, isn’t it?”

“I can’t speak to that.”

Another silent moment, before Alice abruptly stands up, saying “Goodness me, it’s gotten late already hasn’t it? It’s hard to tell because there aren’t many windows here, but if I don’t head back soon, I’d end up having to stay the night again, wouldn’t I?”

Since you don’t go outside, you don’t bother with the weather much, but it is true that travel in the winter is much worse at night, and you did sleep in, combined with the fact that the Winter Solstice happened recently. Alice is making sure she has all of her belongings, and then departs. You breath out a sigh of relief. If she didn’t take advantage of your weakness today, then it might be possible that she truly doesn’t have aggressive intentions towards you and your library, at the very least for as long as you allow her free access to the books she wants. If her wishes extend to access to your Philosopher’s Stone, then you will be forced into conflict, and observing her with that grimoire, she could be a real threat if it comes to that.

On the topic of the stone, you realize you left it in your enchantment chamber. What a foolish mistake. You’re feeling a lot better now, your attack didn’t turn as bad as it could have. Returning to where you left the stone, you pick it up and take it back to its hidden room before returning to your study.

You spend the rest of the evening until sleep overcomes you researching and preparing vampiric countermeasures and defenses. After recent events, you’ve realized just how much you’ve let your guard down, and exactly why that is so dangerous.

No story choices this update, because there is another big choice to be made.

That is to say, I’m unveiling a possible gimmick for this story, and you’ll be voting on whether to use it or not.

That gimmick being multiple characters whom you’ll follow and make choices for. Essentially, we’ll be Point of View switching to Alice for a day or two, unless this idea gets vetoed.

The story as I have it planned doesn’t absolutely need multiple points of view, but I think it would be enriched by it somewhat. And of course, if a majority at a later time decides they wants to change their mind on the results of this vote, that can easily be accommodated.

PoV Switch (temporarily of course) to Alice?
[ ] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.
[ ] No, one socially awkward magician is enough.

If you have any further reasons why or why not you think this is a good idea, or have any concerns, make sure to voice them in your post, it’ll be very useful feedback, since this is largely uncharted territory on this site as far as I know.
[x] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.

Sounds like you have an idea or two. I'm willing to at least give this a shot.
[x] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.

On the one hand, I really like this Patchouli, on the other, this sounds interesting.
[x] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.
[x] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.

Sounds like you have an idea or two. I'm willing to at least give this a shot.
[X] Pov switch time

Sounds like it could be neat; should be interesting to see how Alice thinks
[x] No, one socially awkward magician is enough.
I'm reading this story because it's about Patchy. If it stops being about Patchy and switches to one of the most overdone characters instead, I'll probably just stop reading it.
[X] No, one socially awkward magician is enough.

If you didn't plan this story having multiple POVs, you should probably just nix the idea. But if the POV switch is just a one-off, I would be okay with it.

>you're familiar

Be on the lookout for typos.
It's still focused on the Magi, for what it's worth. It's not like these two know too many other people beyond each other anyway.
I'm just branching out a bit to add some Alice-centric scenes.

Whatever the majority decides themselves, that's still what I'll go with. I'd hate to lose a reader over this but in the end it's your choice. Personally, I hope you choose to stay with us.
Way back in the early planning stages of this story, I flip flopped a lot between trying to do multiple PoVs and just sticking with one, and in the end it really can work either way.

I figure that as things currently stand, we'll just be trying out some Alice and then put the issue up for a reconsideration vote in addition to the plot vote at the end of the next update. Even as a one-off that we don't go back to, I think this would be a scene worth having.

>> typos
A shamefur dispray there, I mess those up way more than I'd like to admit.
[X] Pov switch
[x] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.

If the PoV switch enriches the story, then yes, I'm all for it.
Besides, temporarily following another character while Patchouli recovers is more interesting than just reading about her being sick. (That, or a timeskip.)

You're acting as if this will be a complete switch in protagonist instead of just one or two updates following someone else before going back to Patchouli.
The story is still in /sdm/, not /forest/.
[x] Yes, we get to mess around as two people instead of one.
>Even as a one-off that we don't go back to, I think this would be a scene worth having.

I'm anticipating either Alice being adorably happy at having made a friend or sinisterly happy at having successfully tricked Patchy into thinking she's not there to steal all her books.

Either one is good.
I'm assuming the first one, since the second would be a major shift in how she's been acting so far.
Patchouli may have been paranoid about it, but Alice hasn't shown anything other than poor social skills and an honest willingness to get along.
And that's the problem with split PoV's, you get the ability to meta-game from what the other character is thinking.

[X] No, one socially awkward magician is enough.
Yeah, I did consider that, but I'm not worried about it too much in this case. Not gonna deny that the potential to meta game is there, but in this kind of story, I don't see it being as tempting as in others, since its focus is more comic and character based rather than plot or actual intrigue, despite what Patchouli might believe. Of course, I could be wrong.
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As you leave the library, you let out a sigh of relief. You were convinced that you were slip up and say something stupid again. Before, you had the excuse of being drunk, but if you were to mess up again while sober, you’re not sure you’d be able to face Patchouli again.

Well, it probably wasn’t a good thing that you weren’t able to look her in the eye most of the time, but you still were able to talk to her fairly easily. Hopefully you and her will be able to become good friends. Since leaving home and moving to the Forest of Magic, you haven’t had a chance to meet many people, probably cause you’re so unsociable, but when you heard about Patchouli from Marisa, you got a feeling like you and she could hit it off well, not to mention the possibility that you might learn something from her library.

It’s not like you’re trying to befriend her for that reason, though. People who try to exploit their friends are unforgivable, or so you think, but truthfully you’re pretty sure that you and Patchouli aren’t friends just yet anyway. She did seem interested when you were talking about your dolls, but friends should mean something more than sharing an academic interest. Being friends is, well, you’re not entirely sure what to expect, but you’re sure that it will be fun. Apparently it’s all about things like going shopping together and talking about cute boys, but honestly neither of those things sounds very appealing to you. You make your own clothes, and as for boys, well you really just don’t have an interest. You’re more of an…indoors type of person after all, but so is Patchouli, so it should work out, right?

This mansion is actually pretty hard to navigate. You’ve been here before, on your business with Remilia, but this is your first time in the area of the library. You’re about to give up and retrace your steps to the library to ask for some directions, when you see none other than the mistress of the mansion herself, Remilia Scarlet, accompanied by her servant, Sakuya Izayoi.

“Ah, Lady Scarlet. I was just leaving.”

“No need to be so tense, my dear. I hope Patchy took care of you well.”

It's hard to imagine that the Remilia you saw in the library is the same person standing in front of you now. You cringe remembering what you saw occur between her and Patchouli earlier. You're an outsider here, so it might not be your place to pass judgment, but you do know that's not how friends should treat each other. You originally got the impression that those two were close friends, but now you're not so sure. The only thing you can say for certain is that you don't understand a single thing about the vampire in front of you.

“Yes, she's been good to me. She's, um, much nicer than you said she would be.”

“Is that how you see her? Well, it's a shame I don't get any of her good moods then.”

This is a bad idea and you're going to regret saying this, you just know it. However, you can't see two people who should be friends acting like they were and stay silent.

“Um, Um, Lady Scarlet, there's something I need to say.”

“Oh? Very well, go ahead.”

“Um, I think you should try to be nicer to Patchouli, then maybe she'd be nicer to you too.”

At the next moment, Sakuya is behind you with a knife to your throat. Is everyone in this mansion operating on hair triggers?!

“You dare to question milady's actions?”

“Now now, Sakuya. You'll scare off my guest like that. She wants to speak freely with me, and I'll allow it this time.”

“Understood. My apologies, milady.”

The knife is withdrawn from your throat, and you breathe out in relief. That was seriously scary. Is it common practice here to go about strangling people and waving knives around? You've heard about how common sense works in Gensokyo, but this goes far beyond the ordinary, even for here.

“As for you, Alice dear, I find it amusing that you still hold such childish ideals, and it would be even more amusing still to see you try to implement them, but my plans will go forward much more smoothly if you two are close, and so I'll give you a little hint: Integrate yourself into her everyday life, and then leave abruptly. Allow distance and loss to make the heart grow fonder. That is how you'll win her.”

You don't know how you feel about taking advice from someone who seems to be on bad terms with Patchouli, but you've already come this far with her help. However, that advice feels a little too, well, scheming. A friend made through intrigue wouldn't feel right at all. Actually, isn't there another larger problem with what she said?

“W-who said anything about the heart? I just want to be friends with her, not whatever it is you're imagining.”

“I was getting a little bit ahead of myself, wasn't I? Well, for something more topical...I figure you're the type who worries a lot about being in the way, right?”

“Well, I wouldn't want to bother Patchouli.”

“So I'm guessing you won't be coming very often so that you don't disturb her research, correct?”

“As I thought, I should leave her alone, shouldn't I?”

“You magician types are hopeless. Here's my advice: Anytime you think that, stop thinking that. Instead, come over here, or else you two will never get anywhere as friends.”

“I don't know...I want to be her friend, but I don't want to be an imposition.”

“Think about it this way. If you don't come back here, then not only will you spend all your time regretting your cowardice, but then you'll be leaving her all alone, and I can't see you being okay with that.”

She's right. You've dealt with loneliness in your life, and you can't stand the thought of anyone else having to. From what you've heard, Patchouli might not like a lot of company, and you understand that wish, probably a lot more than most people, but no one wants to be completely alone, so you should come here, for her sake.

“I'll keep that in mind, thank you for the advice.”

“You're welcome, Alice dear. Magicians sure are hard to work with, though. Sakuya, see to it that our guest doesn't get lost on her way out.”

With that, Remilia turns and walks off through the halfway in the direction opposite the one Sakuya leads you down. She doesn't speak at all, quite a noticeable contrast, from when you first met her during the recent Spring incident. Well, back then she was pretty flippant with throwing knives around too, but it being Danmaku, that was to be expected.

You reach the front door, and leave the mansion to step out into the cold of the winter evening. Of course, being a youkai and a magician now, it doesn't really affect you much. A bit of magic converted into warmth and spread around your body, and you can almost forget you're outdoors, but you prefer being just a little cold, sometimes. It helps you feel a little more human.

The winds start to pick up, so you have your dolls hold on to the edges of your clothes as you fly back so as to not be blown away. The travel time to your house is short, even in such inclement weather, and you make it back to your home and are pleased to see it isn’t dark and cold inside, despite you being gone for a full 24 hours. Yours dolls make sure that your home always feels homely.

You're glad to see that the dolls you set on maintenance duty have been doing a good job in your absence, though they are running low on magic. You reach over and place a hand on each of them in turn, feeling magic flow into and recharge them. Patchouli was talking about how you powered them, perhaps next time you see her you should ask to see if she has any recommendations on how to more efficiently store magic in them. She does seem to live up to her name as a Knowledgeable magician.

You feel glad thinking about the possibility of a friendship between the two of you, the possibility of finally finding a place you belong and no longer living on the lonely border between human and youkai.

For you, getting closer to Patchouli won’t be easy though. You ought to give a lot of thought to the advice Remilia gave you, although you're still not totally sure that you should follow it. After witnessing what you did in the library, you really don't know if you can believe that Remilia has Patchouli’s best interests in mind after all.

[ ] Tomorrow you should head back to the library. Running away will get you nowhere.
[ ] You should give her some space, you don't want to be a bother or a nuisance. Besides, you told her that you'd talk to Marisa about laying off the book thieving, and the earlier you do that, the better.
Next update is back to Patchouli PoV. I hope this was a fun and informative update, if you guys like it, we’ll have more Alice sprinkled in elsewhere.
[X] Tomorrow you should head back to the library. Running away will get you nowhere

Patchouli was right to be wary; Alice is such a master schemer that she can even hide her schemes from herself!
[x] You should give her some space, you don't want to be a bother or a nuisance. Besides, you told her that you'd talk to Marisa about laying off the book thieving, and the earlier you do that, the better.

Seemed like a fine switch. Didn't mind it. So long as it happens at appropriate times, where one character's perspective can be reasonably ended, then picked up later, I don't think many people would mind. The difference between PoV switches in the middle of exposition, or a fight versus switching after a particular arc or scene winds down, like here.
[x] You should give her some space, you don't want to be a bother or a nuisance. Besides, you told her that you'd talk to Marisa about laying off the book thieving, and the earlier you do that, the better.

I'm pretty much in the same frame of mind as the guy above me about POV switches.
[x] You should give her some space, you don't want to be a bother or a nuisance. Besides, you told her that you'd talk to Marisa about laying off the book thieving, and the earlier you do that, the better.
[x] Tomorrow you should head back to the library. Running away will get you nowhere.

We'll get Patchy to socialize. One way or the other.
[x] Tomorrow you should head back to the library. Running away will get you nowhere.

I feel like persistence is the option that will pay off the most, of these two.
[x] Tomorrow you should head back to the library. Running away will get you nowhere.
[x] Tomorrow you should head back to the library. Running away will get you nowhere.

This will get Patchouli used to the idea that Alice's visits are going to be a regular thing, and Alice should take this chance to get to know Patchouli to better apply Remilia's advice.
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You wake up feeling a bit ill. Certainly not as bad as anything yesterday between the hangover and the coughing fit, but also definitively precarious in your health. It won’t be a hindrance; you can be as mobile as you'll need to be to go about your day to day routine, and nothing today should force you to strain yourself, so it shouldn't be an issue. Today, like most days, seems like a good day for research.

Still, you're worried that your health might be in a slow but overall decline. The intensity of attacks hasn't gotten substantially worse, but the frequency has over the last few years. However, by your projections, you should still have more than enough time to finish your work on the Philosophers Stone, and after that is complete, nothing else will matter anymore.

Your morning begins with some herbal tea brewed by your familia. While you drink it, you browse your lists of relevant texts to determine which book you shall start the day with. Since you won't be up for heavy experimenting today, you'll be doing more theoretical work. Even when your body fails you, the mind shall remain always. The Unified Magical Wave Theorem has sections that further elaborate on the likely singular properties of each of the element that together form the raw streams of Mana. It is basic for Elementalist Magicians to be able to split the Mana stream and isolate any of the seven elements, but once isolated, they quickly become highly unstable. Thus, Elementalists always only split the stream of their Mana momentarily at the time of casting. With the Philosophers Stone, you have been able to keep the isolated elements stabilized temporarily, but if you were able to keep them stored in such a way that stay both isolated and stable for a long period of time, it would be a great opportunity for research. To your Knowledge, it would be the first time that the isolated elements have ever been the subject of research, due to the difficulty in keeping them separated.

Honestly, you think it's ridiculous that magic has been used for so long, and yet so many of the basic principles behind it remain a mystery. You've lived in the wrong time period, and you know it, although the same could be said of all of Gensokyo's residents. Your predecessors, the one's who now only live in the books they wrote, were making great strides in their magical research, but none ever went far enough, and no one except yourself has since tried to surpass then. In contrast to that magical renaissance, your era was one of utter magical stagnation. The few magicians that were still active were lazy, unimaginative, and content to merely mimic the old great ones. Every year, a few more would betray the magical covenant altogether and attempt to join into human society. It was by their own weakness that they could not hold true to their studies. By the time you came to Gensokyo, you were the only active magician that you knew of, although since magi don't get out and about much, it's difficult to get a clear census. At that time, you faced the truth that the study of magic might end with you, and that is why you must continue your work no matter what.

Pushing your memories of days gone by aside, you turn back to your work and find a relevant text about a theoretical method to counterbalance the destabilizing forces with the correct application of a very strong stable force. This was only a theory, since the stabilizing forces required at the time were beyond the capabilities of the researcher, but the mechanics behind it are sound, and with your Philosophers Stone, that power is within your hand. You press some important notes onto your notepad, and send your familiar to make some more tea.

You spend the morning one of the best ways any morning can be spent: planning out an experiment. From what you've read, you've reached a strong hypothesis as to the ideal crystalline structures that could achieve a constant resonance that would counteract and stabilize each of the separated elements. Of course, you'll be waiting to actually conduct the experiment until your health returns, and more importantly, you want to wait until you can be sure there will be no interlopers.

On the topic of interlopers, there seems to be three in the library at the moment.. In your forest of books, on the eastern edge of the fiction section, a devil walks flanked by a dog that is at times more wolf-like, and a magician who is at times more doll-like. There is a disturbance all throughout the library as your defenses are ignored and bypassed one by one by Remilia. You understand, it's always been her way of calling you out, and so set out to meet her. Stepping out from among the shelves and turning onto the aisles, you come face to face with the girl seeking you.

You stand there, silently glaring at her for a long silent moment. You both have a quarrel with the other, and yet you live under the same roof, and no one can so easily nerve themselves to attack a neighbor without warning, even a hated one. The silent standoff between you two continues, each ready to defend themselves should it come to that, but each also unwilling to be the first to engage, until your familiar catches up with you and reaches the scene, accidentally hitting against one of the large beech bookshelves in her rush and sending it off balance and about to fall on top of you and Remilia both. At the same time as you push it back with your magic, Remilia lightly rests her hand against it, and together you return the shelf to its normal position.
Silence reigns again as you and Remilia stare at each other. In your peripherals, you see Alice fidget nervously. Sakuya on the other hand, is expressionless and motionless. Then, Remilia breaks the silence. “Your neck. Is it alright?”

“It's fine now.”

“I see.”

Again, silence for a moment, until Remilia extends an open hand towards you. “This little feud of ours has gone on long enough, what do you say to a ceasefire.”

Before you have a chance to respond, the sound of the brick walls being busted resounds throughout the library. This can only mean one thing, the coming of a pestilence in the form of the thieving backwoods demi-witch Marisa. Your familiar immediately springs into action, her role in the libraries defenses being diversionary. She will buy you enough time to get a proper defense sortied.

You look at Remilia. “Perhaps a show of goodwill would make me more inclined to accept your cease-fire.”

“Sorry Patchy, you'll have to fight your own battles. In the meantime, do give some thought to my idea, and come find me once you're willing to accept it.”

Alice steps up. “Patchouli, I'm sorry that I haven't talked to Marisa yet. I'll rectify this mistake right now. Marisa can be reasoned with, and I'll negotiate with her on your behalf.”

[ ] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
[ ] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate using Danmaku rather than words.
[ ] You want something done, do it yourself. Go and try to teach Marisa a lesson.
[ ] Negotiating, is it? It's worth a shot, but you'll be doing it yourself.
[ ] Get the Philosophers Stone. Use its power to give Marisa some of her own medicine. Master Spark!

Also, a secondary vote.
[ ] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.
[ ] Ignore it. You know her game. She only wants to make sure you won’t meddle in any of her other plans for a while. She’ll only give you peace as long as she wants it, and the moment your guard is down and the opportunity is ripe, she’ll break her own treaty without a second thought. You’ll be continuing this war until the end.
war until the end.
I think I went a little overboard with the literary reference in this update, but I couldn’t resist.
[X] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
It doesn't seem like we've had much luck in the past, and we're not feeling too good today...

[X] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.
Even if it is a trap, I doubt Patchouli will believe that it's really true with how paranoid she is.
On the other hand, I don't think we can beat Remilia, so this should help for a while.
[x] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
[x] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.
[x] You want something done, do it yourself. Go and try to teach Marisa a lesson.
This is your library, defending it is your job and nobody else's. Also, from Patchouli's perspective, she has no idea if she can trust Alice to not be working with Marisa.

[x] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.
Even if it is temporary, having time to recover is necessary if you want to get experiments finished with.
[x] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
[x] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.
[X] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
[X] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.

Yeah, let's negotiate. I'd rather see a friendly Marisa than the "shameless thief that doesn't know when to stop" variety.

Ceasefire is nice too. Besides, nobody said Patchy can't keep a lookout for any of Remi's plans, just in case.
[X] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
[x] Ignore it
X] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
In this state of health, fighting her would nt work out to well. And, as fun as using the philosophers stone to blast her with a Mastery Sparku would be, one victory would not be worth it when Marisa is going to aim to steal it from now on. And, if Alice wants to prove herself to Patchy, what better chance then now?

[X] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.
I doubt Remilia is too terribly worried of Patchouli ruining things... though an agitated Flandre is not ideal. Unles we spark her interest again, I doubt we'll get more then token attempts.

On a side note, if there is some evidence to Patchouli's health becoming worse, (or she's just a bit of a pessimist in that regard) maybe Aya will get her tragic love story~
[X] Ask Alice to try to go negotiate.
Time for her to prove her uses
[x] Ignore it
A peace offering without an actual offering? Please.
[X] Negotiating, is it? It's worth a shot, but you'll be doing it yourself.
[X] A ceasefire? Perfect. All you want is her out of your business anyway.

A little work on Patchy part here could set the table for some returned books, instead of more fighting.
Gonna have an update out in a few hours. Mostly posting this to keep myself from putting it off again.
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[X] Ask Alice to negotiate.
[X] Accept the ceasefire.

If she wants to try to save you the trouble, then you see no reason to stop her. Of course, if it comes down to it, you're still prepared to do some rat hunting yourself. You did consider asking her to use force, since that would give you a chance to observe her fighting style, but scrapped that idea. If she does intends to fight you after all, then she wouldn't show her full strength in front of you now anyway. What's more important is that your books are protected, so you might as well let her try to get rid of the pest for you.

“Go ahead and try.”

“Alright, I won't let you down.” She begins to fly over in the direction of Marisa and your familiar, and you follow. As the rat turns to face her, she pauses as she recognizes Alice. Good, that's a start.

“Sorry Marisa, but I can't let you pilfer Patchouli's books.”

“I ain't pilfering nothing. I just thought it's a shame that they're locked in here with no one to read them, so I give em a new home. What's it to you anyway?” After saying that, the rat gives a very obvious wink to Alice. Could they really be cohorts in a scheme after all? No way. No one, not even this black-white, would be that stupidly obvious about it.

“That is...um.....because she was nice to me and is helping me with my research...”

“Is that it? Sounds a bit fishy there, like there might be something more here, if you catch my drift.”

“Um...Um....Patchouli is my f-friend! O-or maybe she will be soon!”

She glances over to you, presumably to gauge your reaction. Does she think that she can trigger some kind of emotional attachment from you to be exploited? You're not so weak as to fall prey to that. Since you need to respond somehow, you keeping your face stoic and return her glance as if there was nothing of note in what she said at all.

“Well said, Alice! But, you know, we're friends too, yeah? It's not like I'm doing anything wrong. I'm just borrowing for a bit, she can have em back after I'm gone.” She's just like all your old peers, or maybe worse. Just doing magic for a few laughs and a bit of convenience, and not even having enough dedication to her study of magic to extend her life for it.

“If all you want is to study them, then instead of stealing, why don't you come here to read?”

“Well, if Patchy....”


No. Not a chance. You'll never open up your library to her type. She's just like all those peers of yours from long ago. Once the novelty is gone, she'll drop magic and move on to whatever suits her fancy next. Despicable. You won’t tolerate her attitude in your library.

“Aw shucks, your so mean Patchy. If you're gonna be like that, then I just have to liberate your books from you. But, not today, as a favor to my friend Alice. 'Sides, I've already got plenty of reading materials for a while from swinging by her house on the way here.”

“Marisa, have you been going through my books without permission again!” That might be the most expressive side of Alice that you've seen yet.

“I'm just borrowing a few, and some food. I'll give 'em back once I'm done. Consider it payment for that favor.” And with that, Marisa speeds out of the library. She did give her word that she wouldn’t bother you today, but who would trust a thief not to steal? You send your familiar to make sure that the black-white is truly leaving.

“You keep food at your house?”

“Of course I....oh, I see what you mean. Honestly I forget sometimes that being a magician means I don't need to eat. Old habits die hard, I guess.”

“I see. Incidentally, I take it you are here because you wanted to do some research. So, tell me, what is it that you are currently wanting to research regarding your dolls? I have had my familiar pull a few relevant texts from the shelves, but if we knew exactly what their current shortcomings are, it would make the whole process much smoother.”

That was probably not as subtle as it should have been. Hopefully she didn't catch that all you want is to know their weaknesses.

“Actually, more than a research topic, first I had a question that you might be able to answer directly, if you don't mind, that is.”

“Go ahead. We'll see if I can answer it after I hear I it.”

“Yesterday, you mentioned something about the way that I store power in the dolls. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for how to more efficiently go about that.”

You've got her now. This is it, your perfect chance for subterfuge. You'll work with her on her dolls and design into them a hidden weakness.

“Your current method of imbuing the entire doll with a spread of magical power seems highly inefficient. If you were to only imbue a core with a high concentration of magic, and then spread that magic out as needed to the rest of the doll via select conduits, like how veins flow blood through a body, you can greatly increase both storage capacity and usage efficiency.”

While this will improve her dolls, it will also leave them open to sabotage. The crystals you will give her as magical cores will be ones that will react to a certain uncommon wave frequency of magic. You can send out a magical signal of that frequency as a type of sleeping override. With just a well placed wave of magic on that select frequency, the cores can be told to shut down the doll or overload and explode violently. The moment she attacks you, you'll be able to eliminate her entire retinue.

This is a solid first step towards having sufficient countermeasures against Alice. Still, you hope it does not come to that. Destroying a fellow magician, even in defense of your secrets, is an unsettling concept. Perhaps, in some other scenario, she could have been a useful assistant. Being a magician however, she is simply too dangerous to trust. “I understand, that seems like a major improvement to my designs thus far. Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of Knowledge about magical cores.”

“I figured as much, but you really ought to be learned in a multitude of magical styles if you have a serious academic interest in magic. Nevertheless, I don't mind supplying you with the materials you require, and a brief overview of the theory behind it.”

“You will? Thank you so much, Patchouli.”

“It's always a pleasure to help a fellow scholar.” You wonder what it would be like to say those words sincerely.

“I mean it, you've been nothing but good to me. I wish there was something I could do to make it up to you.”

“Then, would you indulge my curiosity a bit about the mechanisms at work within your dolls? They seem to be able to process instructions at a much higher level than any other automata I've seen.”

It's probably alright to allow your lack of Knowledge to show a small bit if it will allow you to also possibly shore up that weakness, and you'd be lying to yourself if you didn't admit at least a certain level of scholarly curiosity.

“Their ability to understand and carry out my wishes is the pride and joy of my research thus far, but I'm a bit ashamed to say that it's not a very elaborate method that I use. When I form my magic into the strands that I talked about before, I can etch little sets of basic commands into them, and then I use other strands to string together those basic commands into more complex tasks, and so on until the whole of their intended behavior is constructed.”

“So, you've built up their entire set of actions that way? That must have taken a lot of time and effort.”

“Well, I only have to assemble each string from scratch like that once, and from then on it's just a matter of using magic to replicate something that already exists.”

“Still, I can see the high level of dedication that it requires. The process intrigues me as a scholar; perhaps I shall try to make one of my own.” If you end up going through with this, you might glean some useful information, and what's more, it lets you gauge her reaction to another magician moving in and threatening the security of her researched secrets. Normally you dislike prolonged eye contact with others, but this time it's crucial to your attempts to get a read on her. However, you see not a single hint of anything except a likely false front of happiness. Either she's a very good actor, or far too unguarded around other magicians.

“Really? I'd love to help you with that.”

“Then, while you are working with the cores, I'll be examining yours dolls to reverse engineer the process.”

“Wouldn't it be easier for me to just explain it.”

“As a scholar, I would prefer to try to figure it out myself.”

“Sure, whatever you want. Oh, but first, if it's not an imposition, can you give me that overview? I'm really out of my depth otherwise.”

“Very well, let's begin.” You bring Alice up to speed on the basic theorems behind your work on crystalline magic resonance. You're pleased to see that she is an attentive listener and seems to have a knack for understanding magical concepts. By the time you finish your explanation of how to route power through the crystals, you both suddenly realize that it is deep in the middle of the night.

“It's getting pretty late, Patchouli. Sorry that I never left you time to look at my dolls like you asked, so I'll leave one here for you to study at your leisure and head home...is it okay if I come back tomorrow?”

Your going to have questions for her about her dolls after you look over it tonight.

“Yes, come back tomorrow.”

“Thanks for wanting me back. Oh, but before I leave, I have one request. My sense of direction is, uh, a little bad. Can I have some directions to the front door of the mansion?”

[ ] Write down the directions for her, but send your familiar after her covertly to make sure she reaches the front door without detour.
[ ] Send your familiar with her as an escort.
[ ] Escort her yourself. It'll let you ask a few questions before you settle in for some doll research.


The effects of your acceptance of the ceasefire haven't come into play yet because you haven't dealt with Remilia since the proposal.

Funny how easily “I'll post in a few hours” becomes “I'll post in 24 hours.”
This is why Rule Amendments #1 and #2 are in place.

This reasoning is why the Master Spark option was scratched out. Also, Patchy wouldn't try a brand new technique that would have an unknown strain on her body unless it was an absolute emergency.
[X] Yuri Option

in all seriousness,
[X] Write down the directions for her, but send your familiar after her covertly to make sure she reaches the front door without detour.
[X] Write down the directions for her, but send your familiar after her covertly to make sure she reaches the front door without detour.

Yes, leaving a potential spy with us, then asking directions to the door? How suspicious. Lets not take risks. Ha. Haha. Silly, she'd never do anything untrustworthy, hahaOR WOULD SHE?
[x] Send your familiar with her as an escort.

In case Remilia tries to get up to silly business.
[x] Escort her yourself. It'll let you ask a few questions before you settle in for some doll research.
[X] Send your familiar with her as an escort.
[X] Escort her yourself. It'll let you ask a few questions before you settle in for some doll research.

This way Patchy can both get some more info, and potentially encounter a wild Remilia in it's natural habitat. To inform her of our agreement, of course.
[X] Have Koa take care of doll in meantime, in the guise of protection until you get back. To make sure it's not swiped, of course. It's valuable Intel, and thus liable to be taken by any number of people.
[x] Send your familiar with her as an escort.

I can imagine sending them together will allow them to have a little 'girl talk' to talk about Patchouli.

All this scheming and mistrust is very 'youkai' of Patchouli.
[x] Send your familiar with her as an escort.
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[X] Send your familiar with her as an escort.

“It'll be easier to just have my familiar see you out.”

“Well, if it's not an imposition...”

“None at all.” You send for your familiar with a memo telling her to escort Alice to the front door and be on the lookout for suspicious activity from her. A moment later, she arrives at your desk and in a hushed tone of voice whispers “I'm sorry Lady Patchouli, but, um, I haven't received the updated map of the mansion recently.” You certainly have no need to know it either.

Alice is watching you with a curious look, presumably because you told her that you would show her the way out yet are currently not doing so. To answer the question she is silently asking, you tell her “The use of spatial distortions makes the exact layout of the mansion subject to periodic mutation, so I am currently divining the route.”

To be more specific, you're enchanting a piece of paper to do the divining for you. At your touch, the ink spreads out on the page and forms the current floor plan of the mansion. Content with your work, you hand the finished product to your familiar, who gives it a quick look over before turning towards the exit of the library and motioning for Alice to follow her.

Once Alice has left the library, you turn to the doll she left behind for you and cast a binding spell, just in case It has the same outward appearance as the other dolls she showed you, but it likely was specifically chosen by her to do some espionage onto you. You'd like to think that it was merely a kind gesture on her part, but such things do not truly exist outside of fiction. As you already know, it would be better to keep up your assumption that she has ill intentions towards you, so that you don't lose sight of the threat that she poses and leave yourself vulnerable. She hasn't taken advantage of you while you were at your weakest, but that just lessens the likelihood that she means you direct harm. It would be nice if it weren't the case, but at the end of the day, everyone wants something, and she's here because it'll further her goals in some way. As long as you're clueless as to what her agenda is, you're going to be at a disadvantage in any encounter.

For the time being however, over thinking it will get you nowhere, so instead you might as well start experimenting with the doll she left. First, you simply fluctuate the flow of magic through it to see the path it takes, to get a general feel for the inner workings. As Alice said, the cloth weaved with strings of a magicians magic inside becomes a suitable conduit for magical power. You still prefer your methods of using crystals and rays of airborne magic, but after further testing you have to concede that for making magical constructs, this cloth does seem ideal.

As a researcher, you feel the bitter taste of being outshone. Looking at it now, the theories behind it are obvious, and that's why it's so frustrating that you weren't able to think of it on your own. You can say it's simply the price of being so single minded in your research on the philosopher's stone, but that's just an excuse and you know it.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to branch out your study a bit after all. After all, the completed philosopher's stone could be used as a power source for some very powerful constructs. Further thought on the subject is, however, delayed by the high speed return of your familiar, who, in the loudest voice you've ever heard her speak in, blurts out. “Alice. Remilia. Treachery.”

A trap? You might not have time for a full debriefing, but it looks like no one followed her back. “Slow down and explain.”

"Okay" she says, visibly trying to calm down. After a brief pause she continues.

"Well see I was escorting Alice and then Lady Remilia came by and then they both tried to invite me into some sort of scheme about you. She didn't say exactly what she was planning but she said it was for your own good and that you needed to change how you lived but of course I could tell that was a lie 'cause if she had your best interests in mind then it wouldn't have to be a secret, right? And besides, there's no way that the way you are could be wrong.” She pauses to take a deep breath before continuing. “I told her no but she kept asking me so I ran back here to tell you because I knew you'd need to know about it and it was important.”

What a fool you were, thinking for even a moment that Alice would be any different! You don't know what Alice's exact angle is, and Remilia probably treats this as another twisted game, but it's one you won't be playing. It's long past time for you to set a more permanent foreign policy for your library. As you see it, you have two options from here on out.

Your first option is to stay on the defensive. You're in a position where you can win this war by default if no attack can be made. A massive barrier, powered by the philosopher's stone, could be your ultimate defense. Isolation has after all, always been your salvation.

Unfortunately, a war of attrition would have its downsides, even for you, and a castle under siege is not unlike a prison. Perhaps you could instead win with a decisive early victory. With the power of the philosopher's stone, you could muster a suitable visual show of force, enough to make her think twice about picking a fight with you. If she decides to back down, then you've won, and if not, at least you'll be going in prepared and forewarned.

[ ] Defense.
[ ] Offense.

Kudos to my editor for getting me over writer's block, and sorry for the long wait for such a short update.
[X] Offense.
[X] Defense.

If my chinese cartoon are to be believed, Alice should quickly discover that only the power of friendship can shatter the impenetrable barrier of the the philosopher's stone.
[x] Defense.
This seems like the more 'Patchouli' option.

Don't feel bad about taking a while to update, just don't quit writing and to the editor, keep up the good work.
File 140783870818.jpg - (130.75KB, 850x1189, Moon Prism Power.jpg) [iqdb]
That kind of plot is reserved for the other kind of magic using girl, I believe.
[x] Defense.

Let's see what she has planned, then respond.
I see koakuma has spent too long around her master.
[x] Defense.
[X] Defense.

I think Patchouli is more suited for a defensive style anyway.
[X] You must know what you're up against. Send your familiar to determine their plans. Have her accept their proposition, if need be.

This is probably invalid, and otherwise bound to fail, but I might as well try.
[x] Offense.

While Patchy certainly has the power to keep Remi and Alice out - particularly with the Philosopher's Stone - there is no way to win this battle from such a tactic, only prolong it indefinitely.

If the wall eventually comes down, we're essentially right back where we started, only with our trump card played. If it stay up forever, then we're still sitting in a great big section of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, which is just terribly awkward for everyone involved. And also likely to provoke attention, either from other rival magicians, help brought in by Remilia, or any of various easily-bored residents of Gensokyo.

No, defense will simply delay the battle until our enemies are capable of reaching us. Better to strike on our terms, and make sure this conflict ends swiftly - one way or another.
As a write-in it's valid, but it's a bit late for it to get much traction. In the future, if you want to be quicker on the response, might I suggest using the RSS feed? It's shared across all of sdm, but still handy. Also recommending it for a selfish reason: The faster you guys see the update and vote, the faster I can write.

As Patchy currently sees it, if she can prolong it indefinitely, that is victory in this scenario.

The question, is of course, can it be prolonged indefinitely.

Also, I should have the update out in a few hours. Shameless hype gathering, etc.
File 140800041911.jpg - (48.95KB, 1280x1024, Patchouli Locked Library.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Defense.

You've decided. The best answer to your problem with outside interference is to block off the outside altogether. Fetching the philosopher's stone from its vault, you have your familiar draw out the large chalk diagram. This will be on par with the magic you used to bring the mansion into Gensokyo in one piece, although you did have Sakuya's assistance for that. Still, you're fairly certain that you can pull this off without incident.

The chalk work is complete, and the stone is prepared. You repeat the incantation “Carcer” and feel the magic spread out through the library across pylons placed by your familiar until it reaches the perimeter and forms a semi-solid shield. Any thing trying to pass through will be repelled. Forcefully. There's also a small alarm perimeter that you've set up

Some time after finishing the seal on the library, you hear the alarm go off. Walking to where it was triggered you see Alice using the note taking spell on a piece of paper, which she then holds up for you to see through the barrier. It reads: I'm sorry. I won't bother you here anymore. If you ever decide you want to see me again, you're always welcome at my house.

She's trying to bait you out, but you won't fall for it. It is surprisingly that she didn't even try to attack your barrier, but no matter. With this, you've won the war without firing a single shot. And yet, it feels somehow very hollow, and you can't get over this sense of nervousness. Perhaps because you've only ran away from a problem again instead of dealing with it. But, you have to admit that running away fits you more anyway, and it wasn't your problem in the first place. Alice is the one to blame, she came and forced you to do this. Thinking that doesn't make you feel any better though.

The best thing to do when you're feeling like this is research. You can clear your head of all unnecessary thoughts and focus on what is truly important. Regarding what to research, there is always further research to be done on the stone, but it might also be fruitful to consider the area of magical constructs more closely than you have before. You can't stand the thought of simply copying another magician's success, and that's why you'll be aiming to be the one that leaves her in the dust this time. You refuse to be anything less than unparalleled in all Knowledge.

With that in mind, you get to work.

It is always a bit slow at first, picking up a new subject, but you are able to reverse the processes used to create the doll Alice left, and speed up your own research. Your familiar suits your needs as an intelligent aide, leaving you the freedom to focus solely on the raw strength. You also won't be using Alice's magic cloth, if you wish to surpass her in this field then you'll need to do it by your own strength, elemental magic.

Each limb is made of a different element. One arm of fire, and the other water. A leg of wood and the other earth. The torso is metallic, and the head a fusion of the sun and the moon elements, although you did note that there was some unexplained interference with your use of the moon. After you resolve that, you'll have to return to this to add some finishing touches.

Although you don't know how long you've been working, it's probably been a while, but today you've finished the body, minus the moon element of course. You can control it directly, but there's not a bit of autonomous capability in it, yet. You've tuned the magic receptors that you use to control it to only accept you as an operator, it'd be pretty bad to have this used against you, after all. For the same reason, you've also implanted it with the same self-destruct trigger crystal core type that you gave to Alice.

As you stand back and admire your handiwork, your familiar, who had been dutifully assisting you throughout the project, asks, “Lady Patchouli. I have a question, is that alright?”

You nod.

“What is this for?”

That's a pretty valid question, actually. You'd gotten so worked up about doing this project, that you hadn't really thought about that. Mostly it was to expand your knowledge on the subject, and of course also to reclaim your pride as a magician after being shown up by Alice. But now that you're done, you're not really sure what to do with it. It probably wouldn't be very good at Danmaku, dodging isn't exactly it's forte, especially since it has to be controlled directly. If there was to be a fight that didn't use Danmaku, the offenders would get punished by the shrine maiden, but as a measure of private security in that event, it could be somewhat useful. Maybe you could try to incorporate it into a spell card? But you could achieve the same effect better by just using the elements yourself instead of channeling them through the construct.

All in all, it seems you've created a pretty useless thing here, although it certainly does look impressive. Actually, that might just be it's sole redeeming feature. If you put this as a centerpiece in the library, it might discourage intruders, although with your barrier in effect, that's not really an issue either.

“It's a guard, in a certain sense.”

You should probably get back to your work on the philosopher's stone, this has been an edifying but in the end pointless venture. As you go to get the stone, however, the alarm that you set around the barrier is triggered. You go to the edge of the library to investigate.

You see on the other side of the barrier that the shrine maiden has come, and at her side, seemingly arguing with her is Alice. Reimu is bad news for any troublemaker, but you're a law abiding citizen of Gensokyo, she should have no reason to bother you. And yet she places a hand on the barrier and in a flash of light, shatters it.

You know Reimu well enough to know that she's far too powerful for you to ever want to get on her bad side, but she's also a reasonable human. Whatever she's here for, you're innocent, and as long as you can prove that, then this can be resolved peacefully. If not, then it's a good thing she's a strong advocate for non-lethal combat.

“Alright, I'm coming out. I surrender.” You say as you walk forwards with yours hands up.

“That's not how incident resolution works. Right now is where we have a Danmaku duel, you're not supposed to give up on your scheme until after you lose.”

“If it's a predeclared fact that I'm going to lose then why bother with the duel?”

“Because that's how the system works. Considering your name, you seem pretty lacking in basic Gensokyo Knowledge. If you're going to go so far as to hide the moon, don't give up so easily when push comes to shove.”

“The moon? I haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about.”

“No need to be coy, I'll just shoot the answer out of you anyway. So, tell me where you're hiding it in here.”

“Wasn't I in the process of surrendering already? Are you going to accept my surrender now or not? Regardless, I have no idea what you're talking about.”

Suddenly, a rift in air seems to appear between you. You've heard about the person who controls these gaps, that's she's more of a schemer even than Remilia, and that she enjoys small pranks far more than a person in her age group should.

From the gap, comes a voice. “I told you, Reimu, this is not the girl you're looking for. Besides, your plan to just call random fairies bosses and shoot them down was flawed from its conception.”

“Dang, it really would've made incident resolution simpler. What if I only do that for the first three? They're never related anyway?”

“Sorry Reimu, you said it yourself. Incident resolution has to follow all the steps.”

“Regardless, what makes you think she's not the one? I did get that anonymous tip in the donation box to come here after all, and she's certainly acting suspicious.”

“Misdirection. She's been locked up in her library, so she couldn't be the culprit. Additionally, I doubt it would be any youkai. We have a special connection with the moon you see. That connection is why it's imperative that you take this incident seriously this time.”

“Understood, understood. Since you seem to know where to go, you point out the bad guys and I'll blast them.”

“I wouldn't have it any other way.”

“Good good. But before we go, there's a little deal I want to make with you.” She turns back in your direction.

“I do hope it's a deal that doesn't involve you busting your way through my library again.”

“Here's the deal. Since I had to go out of my way on a false positive, how about you make it up to me by joining Marisa and Alice when they go out tonight. Even better would be convincing her not to, but I'm pretty sure that's impossible, so just go and make sure she stays out of trouble and doesn't get hurt, okay?”

“Somehow, I don't think this deal plays to my favor very much.”

“Well, it's not really my style to make people deals that they can't refuse, but I would still appreciate it if you did this for me. In return, I'll try to talk to Marisa about going lighter on the burglary.”

“I don't suppose you could just make her stop it altogether?”

“I can't do the impossible any more than you can. Oh, and one last piece of advice before I go. Putting up barriers won't get you any friends.”

With that, she flies out as quickly as she came in, leaving you to ponder the “deal” she offered you. You also ponder where Alice could be, as she seemed to have disappeared from sight after the barrier broke.

[ ] Accept the offer.
-[ ] Look for Alice in the SDM first.
-[ ] Go to the Forest of Magic. They both live there, right?

[ ] Decline the offer. Set up the barrier again.

Write-ins should be considered valid unless I say otherwise.
Faster updates are always good!

[X] Accept
- [X] Scry for Alice in the SDM First
-- [X] If she's not there, go to the Forest of Magic. They both live there, right?
Do we really want Patches to remain as she is?

[x] Accept the offer.
-[x] Look for Alice in the SDM first.

Ploot hook ho!
[X] Accept
- [X] Look for Alice in the SDM First
-- [X] If she's not there, go to the Forest of Magic. They both live there, right?
[X] Accept
- [X] Look for Alice in the SDM First
-- [X] If she's not there, go to the Forest of Magic. They both live there, right?

So.. We're at Imperishable Night now? Huh.
[x] Accept the offer.
-[x] Look for Alice in the SDM first.

What does Remilia think she's doing, exactly?
[X] Accept
- [X] Look for Alice in the SDM First

>What does Remilia think she's doing, exactly?

Probably the time-honoured tradition of bouncing idea's off the wall barrier until something sticks.

[x] Accept
- [x] Look for Alice in the SDM First
-- [x] If she's not there, go to the Forest of Magic. They both live there, right?
I still think she's just fucking with us. She might be doing it with our best interest in mind as well, but in the end it's probably just as much whatever seems funny at the time. This is Prankmaster Remilia after all.
[x] Accept the offer.
-[x] Stop by the shrine and pick up the note. Getting a clue as to who set you up is more important than the moon incident.
File 140816496043.jpg - (258.39KB, 850x771, Gift of the Magi Patchy Remilia Outside.jpg) [iqdb]
It can't hurt to ingratiate yourself with the shrine maiden. Besides, you're pretty irate yourself that someone stole the moon, and with it a seventh of your magical arsenal, and if you want to see it retrieved properly, then you're going to have to do it by your own hand to some extent, no doubt.

First things first, you go to check on the condition of the Philosopher's stone. It might have been damaged when the shrine maiden shattered your barrier. To your relief, you find it to have suffered no harm. You suppose, in a way, that is a testament to Reimu's skill as a miko, as well as a reflection on her whole approach towards incident resolution. From what you've heard, Gensokyo in the past has not been so peaceful, and you're simply glad that the authority of the current miko has made the place as stable as it currently is.

Your next order of business is to find Alice. You very much dislike the idea of her wandering unsupervised anywhere near your library. You send a note to your familiar to be on the lookout for her. From a quick scry of your library and the absence of any of your security systems being disrupted or activated. It is however possible that she is elsewhere in the mansion. Perhaps, if you're lucky, you might be able to catch Alice and Remilia scheming.

You still have no idea what they were even hoping to accomplish. Alice presumably wanted something magical in nature, but as for Remilia, you're really not sure. She's far stronger than you when she's serious, so anything she wanted, she could just take and there wouldn't be much you could about it, but on the other side of that coin, there's very little that you work with that would be of any interest to her at all.

You float through the mansion proper for the first time since the party, but find no trace of Alice or any trace of her magic that would suggest she stayed any longer than Reimu did. Presumably, she returned to her home, which if you remember correctly is in the Forest of Magic, same as Marisa. You realize the sun is already setting. If they're heading out at night, then you'll have to leave soon if you want to have a chance to meet up with them in the Forest before they leave.

You begin to head back to the library to get ready to leave, but are halted by Remilia.

“Going somewhere, Patchy?”

“Business trip.”

“I see, sounds serious. I'd better not delay you, right? But you know, it's already pretty late. They might have already left without you.”

“How do you know about that?”

“Don't underestimate my information gathering networks”

“Good for you, now get out of my way, I've got an appointment to meet.”

“That you do, but I have to worry about my good friend here, just a little bit. Will she really be okay all on her own outside? These are the thoughts currently troubling me, you see.”

“Your 'concern' is noted, and ignored. I can handle myself just fine, thank you very much.”

“It's how I show my love.”

“You can keep that kind of love to yourself.”

“Heheh, that response never gets old. Consider this tidbit, dear friend. I happen to know where your fellow magi are going to be searching tonight, and plan on heading there myself. The moon is, after all, close to my heart as well. If you'd like, you could tag along until we rendezvous with them, and I might even let slip what Alice and I were planning on the way. You're curious, I know. So, what do you say? Shall we go loudly into this good night together again, for auld lang syne?”

That was then, this is now. If she thinks she can bring up the past as a bargaining chip, she's got another thing coming. Still, it might be good to take her up on her offer just to make sure you don't miss those two. As for whether this fits into some plan of hers, honestly you probably don't care, as long as it doesn't bother you. You've long since given up trying to understand her.

“Isn't it a bit uncouth for a noblewoman of France to be speaking in Scottish?”

“We shared a common disdain for England once. Regardless, what's your answer?”

[ ] Go with Remilia, for now.
[ ] Proceed alone.
[x] Go with Remilia, for now.

We could get some valuable intelligence.
[X] Go with Remilia, for now
[ ] Go with Remilia, for now.
[x] Go with Remilia, for now.

I'm really curious for a prolonged interaction between these two. For all that they're supposed to be friends, Patchy sure thinks of Remi as a hostile being. When you're thinking about whether your friend will come into your room and take your shit, you have to wonder whether that's a friend at all. Granted, it might just be because they're both not human, but even Alice made this observation earlier in the story, that this isn't how friends treat each other.
Not that I'm advocating renouncing Patchy's friendship, but I want to see what makes them friends, because they seem more like bad roommates than actual friends.
And for what it's worth, I'm actually quite fond of both Patchy and Remilia, so it makes me sad to see them so passively hostile toward each other.
I can't believe I missed 3 updates. Like, maaaaaaaaaan.
[X] Go with Remilia, for now.
Considering a 1/7 of her arsenal is gone, 3 people look more intimidating then 1 sickly magi.
I admit, I am interested in seeing some prolonged interactions between the two. This seems to be a very Mutual Use sort of 'frriendship', or a shadow of what it may have been in the distant past.
>Inquire as to who sent the letter.
Because knowing who went for the Nuclear(Well, at least until Utsuho appears) option would solve some curiosity. Plus we'll know who thinks sicing the trigger happy, but reasonable, shrine maiden on us, and what for.
File 140844120831.jpg - (367.24KB, 620x877, A Long Night; A Fun Night.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] Go with Remilia.

“Alright, I shall accompany you tonight”, you say with a sigh.

She flashes you a curved grin, the kind that gives you a full view of her fangs. “I'm so glad you've made room in your busy schedule for me.”

“Anything for an old friend, as you would say.”

“I'm so touched that you know me so well. Very well, let's not waste a second more. Sakuya?”

The maid appears suddenly at Remilia's side.

“My preparations are complete, I'm sorry for the delay.”

“No, it's no problem at all. I should like to thank you for the delay, as it gave me time to talk with Patchouli. She will be joining us”, She says with a grin.

“As you wish, Milady.”

“Good. Our destination is the bamboo forest of the lost. Until we reach there, Sakuya, you're in charge of screening out the weak foes. Let's go.”

The three of you set off at a brisk pace. The sun has set and Sakuya, as per the plan, eagerly goes about subjugating any fairy that gets in your way, leaving you and Remilia nothing to do currently except continue on. You take the time to think about what kind of research you will do when you get back. Remilia, apparently, doesn't find your silence stimulating enough as she interrupts your thoughts.

“It's a nice night out tonight, don't you think? Aside from that gaudy fake moon in the sky, of course.”

“I don't really know.”

“Yes, I suppose you'd need a reference book to make a comparison, wouldn't you?” she replies, her smirk barely visible in the dim moonlight.

“I chose to join you for this, don't make me regret it so quickly with insults towards my way of life.”

“I never said there was anything wrong with liking books. Which reminds me, I'd like to borrow the next one in that series, if you have it.”

“Talk to my familiar, she'd know.” If you remember correctly, she's recently started reading it as well.

“When you moved in and saw the library, you said you'd read every book in it. How's that been coming along lately?”

“I haven't had much of a chance to read for leisure lately, my work as a magician takes priority. The constant distractions that come from outside the library haven't given me much free time either.”

“Well, there's no rush. We live in Gensokyo, the land of eternity, now. Our whole lives are free time.” She pauses for a moment, before continuing. “But you know, an eternity can be deceptive. If you don't watch out for it, it can all pass by in the blink of an eye.”

“Is there a particular reason you're reminding me of this?” Most of what she says is just idle chatter, but you get the feeling she’s actually trying to be serious for once.

“Oh, none at all. I'm just talking to myself.” she replies, a slight grin barely revealing her fangs.

“You know, if you're this bored, why don't you go shoot some fairies or whatever it may be that entertains you.” you reply, irritated at yourself for your prior curiosity. You should have known better than to think Remilia of all people would take anything seriously.

“As one gets older, one starts to appreciate the more refined things in life. I'm simply enjoying the sight of the fireflies. There are quite a lot of them out tonight.”

As she says that, Sakuya finishes a final round of Danmaku against a particularly resilient firefly youkai.

“That comment is totally unfitting for the situation, you know. And you’ve been at for a while, but should I even dare to ask why you’re putting on the mature and refined lady act?”

“Well you see Patchy, since we're expecting company tonight, I'm just practicing a bit.”

“I see.”

“Still, you bring up a valid point. There's no point in wasting all my good manners on you.” You feel like you should be offended by that, but it is true that you really don't care about things like manners anyway.

In your silence, Remilia continues unabated. “So, as my friend, I feel it is your duty to allow me to act as I please around you until we meet tonight's guests.”

No matter what you say, in the end she'll just be doing whatever she wants anyway, so you just nod.

“Alrighty. First thing's first. I think a little bit of girl talk is in order. How are things going between you and Alice?”

“I should be the one asking you how things are going for that scheme between you and Alice.”

“I did say that I'd explain that to you, didn't I? Well, truthfully, on a wonderful imperishable night such as this, I am indeed having a hard time not letting the truth slip out. Since it's such a beautiful night out tonight, I'll tell you that there's actually at least two schemes at work here. There is Alice's, which I hesitate to call a scheme in the first place, and then there is my own personal agenda, which I will very readily call a scheme. Perhaps, if I were to see the real moon tonight, that would convince me to tell you about Alice's plan, but for now, you only get to hear about mine, specifically, the part which concerns you. The rest would be, I'm afraid, very uninteresting for you.”

You’ve had enough of her prattling. She’s already pulled you along with her on this trip; you don’t need to put up with this as well. “Enough mincing words Remilia. If you're going to tell me, then be quick about it.”

“Being terse with others will get you nowhere in life, Patchy.”, she says disapprovingly. “But fine, I'll skip the rest and head straight to the big reveal, as a special treat for you. The end goal of my scheme is...to start the fires of romance between Alice and you!”

She said that like it was some big reveal, but does she really expect you to believe that’s all she has planned? “I already knew that you were trying to do that. Also there's no way that I'll believe that that is your real agenda.”

“Why not? Manipulating fate is already my hobby, and while I might be using string that is more scarlet than red, it's the same basic principle.”

“Well, however you try to accomplish tat, I doubt you'll find much success. I can testify that for any real magician, magic is far more important than love.”

“Oh, I'm well aware of that from past experience, Patchy.”

“Just to clarify for myself, this love plan of yours, it doesn't have any connection to what happened between us about a century ago, correct?”

“Oh, that. No worries there, Patchy. We've been over this before, but that's ancient history now. A strictly physical relationship, we were both just doing a bit of exploring and experimenting because we were confused and mistook friendship for something more. Now let’s not mention that again, if Alice were to hear about it, she might get a tad jealous. Although, maybe that kind of development could be nice as well.”

“You’re trying to set us up, but does she even see me like that? As I see it, we’re still rivals.”

“No, not yet, but my schemes are deeper than the oceans. Look forward to the next development.”

“Your plan won’t suceed.”

“Love is the weed of the heart, Patchy. It’ll spring up no matter how you try to avoid it. On the other hand, even weeds can’t grow from stones.”

“I do have a heart, it’s simply devoted to my work and I have no need of it elsewhere.”

“I suppose I’ll just have to see what I can do to change that.” She turns to you with a predatory grin. “Although, thinking back to that time does remind me, I would someday like another taste of magician's blood. How about this? If you neglect Alice for too much longer, then I'll swoop down and eat her up myself, if you know what I mean.”

“I have no lack of Knowledge regarding your appetite, but won't Reimu be sad if you start cheating on her?”

“She doesn't see me like that and you know it.”

Something occurs to you. “So, is that why you're trying to show off a mature side of yourself?”

“No, that's just my hobby. Sometimes even I like to act my age, after all.”

“Perhaps if you did it more, you'd outgrow the body of a child?” Only a child would love pranks as much as she does, after all. Maybe if you can get her to move past it, you can enjoy a respite from her games. You won't be holding out much hope for that, though.

“About that, I'm quite young at heart, you see, and as a natural consequence, my physique matches myself too well for the common person to appreciate.”

“It'd be a real shame if Reimu were to reject you based on your appearance.”

“Why do you keep mentioning her, by the way?”

“Well, you're the kind of person who wants anything they can't have.”

“Not holding back for social niceties, as always. You're certainly a lot different now than the cute bookworm I thought I was inviting in so long ago.”

“And you're certainly not the noble young lady you acted like then either.”

“It's not my fault that my looks can be deceiving.”

“Oh? I was under the impression that you thrived on deception.”

“There is no denying that.”

The conversation peters out, as you notice that there seems to be something affecting your vision. You can still see, but the light of the fake moon seems to have dimmed, or perhaps your eyes are playing tricks on you. You can just barely hear the tune of a bird song, but only birds of ill portent would fly at night. You can make out the figure of Sakuya in a Danmaku duel with some sort of winged creature, the source of that song you heard and likely the blindness as well. She seems to be having some trouble, only able to rely on her human senses to combat this unnatural blindness.

[ ] Throw in some supporting Danmaku yourself.
-[ ] Royal Flare Low Level.
-[ ] Agni Shrine
-[ ] You don't need aspellcard for this.
[ ] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle this herself.
[ ] Suggest to Remilia that she assist her servant.

All Danmaku option votes will be counted together. If you have an opinion regarding which type of Danmkau you want used, but don’t want to vote for that unless Danmaku wins in general, be sure to specify what that is along with your first vote choice.

If you think Danmaku choices should be counted separately, say so, and if a majority agrees then we’ll switch to that.
[X] Suggest to Remilia that she assist her servant.
Does chibi vampire feel responsible for us going Hikki?

[X] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle this herself.

Let's not overreact and look like a fool. If Sakuya needs backup, Remilia will step in. Besides, do want more Remilia Patchouli dialogue.

>>That filename.
OP, you're having a lot of fun with this, aren't you.
[x] Suggest to Remilia that she assist her servant.
[X] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle this herself.

>needing help with a stage 2 boss

You just went full casual.
[X] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle this herself.
[X] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle this herself.

You never go full casual.
Technical difficulties. It'll be an easy fix with the right tools, but I just moved into the dorms and don't have those tools on hand.

Which brings me to the second thing I need to say. Fall term is starting, and thus I can't guarantee the same update speed. I will be trying, of course, but I felt like I should give fair warning.

As a side note, no outspoken response to the reveal in the last update? I will admit it was poorly foreshadowed, and perhaps something of a let down, but for the latter party, let me assure you that there is still more to be revealed.
I don't really feel as though the last update changed anything in the whole clueless Patchy, Lonely Alice and Troll Remilia dynamic we started out with.
Well, it's something I saw through before we even met Alice so it wasn't really that shocking of a reveal in my case.
[X] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle this herself.

So that's what she wants, or claims to want. It was kinda surprising, though she more or less said it right to Alice's face.
I'm wondering on the Why, as well. With the hinting at eternity being able to go by in the blink of an eye, I wonder if some sinister fate's coming.... or having her magician and another together somehow benefits her. Maybe she just wants Alice to move in full time so she can entertain Flandre with puppet shows and the like?
Remilia playing matchmaker wasn't really the reveal I was referring to...

Well...I reread the update, and the only other thing that surprised me is the fact that Sakuya apperantly sucks at danmaku.
>>“Oh, that. No worries there, Patchy. We've been over this before, but that's ancient history now. A strictly physical relationship, we were both just doing a bit of exploring and experimenting because we were confused and mistook friendship for something more. Now let’s not mention that again, if Alice were to hear about it, she might get a tad jealous. Although, maybe that kind of development could be nice as well.”

What do you suppose this relationship entails?
Did Patchouli let Remilia drink her blood? Was it sexual? Was Yuri once in the air?

Personally, I only have speculation at best, and will be holding my guess until we hear more. Remilia being an old lover of some sort would explain the pseudo-closeness, but I honestly can't imagine this Patchouli being anyone's lover.
[X] Yuri option

All day every day

If you reread the section you quoted, you will find that Remilia detailed exactly what that relationship entailed, thus there's no need for speculation.
I got the impression that it was entirely one-sided on Remilia's part, and her use of "we" is a blatant lie to cover her dignity.
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[ ] Continue talking with Remilia, Sakuya can handle herself.

Sakuya is a capable maid, and while you aren't as blasé as Remilia about Danmaku and other forms of fighting, you know she shouldn't have trouble with small fry such as these. You turn back to Remilia, who hasn't seemed to notice, or perhaps simply does not care that her servant is presently engaging an enemy.

Having given it sufficient thought to make a reasonable argument to yourself that you have adequately considered the scenario tactically, you conclude that you don't particularly care either. Remilia seems to be in a good mood, and while you know that anything she doesn't want to slip out won't, her whimsy might gain you a few valuable tidbits of information about the parts of Gensokyo that exist outside your library. It is frustrating to have to dance to her game, but letting yourself get prideful about stupid things like this would make you no better than her. You do have to admit, that on the few rare times the two of you have gotten along enough to work together on something, her personal abilities did compliment yours very nicely, though knowing the intolerably smug look she'd get on her face hearing it means that you'd never admit it out loud.

“Speaking of days gone by, it wasn't too long ago that we used to go out like this every night. Partners in crime, an unstoppable duo. Your brains and strategy, my brawn and dashing good looks, it felt like we could take on the world.”

Those nights are now but a memory of the distant past, though not so dim a memory for you to start falsifying the facts of them, unlike a certain child.

“You're exaggerating, Remilia, and I believe also stealing lines from certain books as well.”

“It's not theft if you take a bunch at once from different places.”

“No, it definitely still is, and you’re starting to sound like a certain rat I’ve been having problems with as of late. Besides, what're you feigning nostalgia for, you've already got a replacement for whatever nighttime activity you may desire.” You nod towards Sakuya, who seems to be doing fine, although her motions are somewhat erratic and lack her usual finesse.

“Oh my, feeling a little jealous, Patchy? Alice would be in tears if she heard you.”

“Exceedingly doubtful, and that's not the case regardless. I was just noting that a certain someone seems to be having a lot of trouble letting go of the past.”

“Talking about yourself, Patchy?”

“No, just a pesky little mosquito.”

“You say some pretty mean things.” She laughs off your jibe, “As I recall, however, I wasn't the one who ran away and locked myself in a library afterward.”

There have been many times in your life that you have chosen to back down and run away. Running away from conflict has generally served you best. At that time, you were not running away. You simply woke up from the silly little dream you had been living, and got your priorities back on track.

“I did not run away, I merely reaffirmed my dedication to what I truly care about, my research.”

“Whatever you say, Patchy, but know that there's always life outside your library, but you'll only get to see it if you leave.”

The life she chose is out here, but yours is still waiting for you in your libraries vault. She can lecture all she likes about the benefits of her path, but you've already made your decision, and you've had your fill of talking with Remilia.

“Where's the rendezvous point with the other two?”

“Just outside of the human village.”

“Is that wise?” Humans are not very accepting of non-humans.

“Things are a little bit different here in Gensokyo, Patchy. Besides,I want to do a little bit of refueling. It does take a lot of energy to reach the moon, or so I've heard.”

“Well, blood is hardly the best medium for energy.”

Sakuya seems to have finished things on her end. She approaches you and Remilia with a deep bow. “I'm sorry, Milady, for the delay. Slowing down the flow of time has been somewhat taxing for me, my deepest apologies. Primarily, it is affecting my ability to make small and precise dodges.”

“Is that so? That’s fine, I was just thinking I wanted a piece of the action anyway. I'll take care of the complex dodging, you just keep acting as my screen. I'll be very annoyed if you make me fight anyone too weak though, Sakuya.”

With that, you set off in the direction of the human village, apparently. You've never been, but Remilia says it's in the direction you're heading.

You were already nearby, but when you arrive, you find that there is neither humans nor a village here. Instead, a lone human stands in your way, wearing blue and a hat that looks very much like an ornamental box.

She speaks to your group. “Begone devils.”

To which Sakuya responds, “I'm a human, actually.”

“You've served me for so long, can you really be called human anymore?” retorts Remilia.

“All of you, stop fighting.” Comes another voice, one that you recognize but can't put a name to. You realize that voice belonged to Alice, as she walks out from amongst the shadows of the surrounding woodland. “Ah, Patchouli. I wasn’t expecting you here.”

Behind Alice, Marisa ambles out of the woods with her hands full of recently picked mushrooms. “Yo, teach, they're with us, so would you mind letting them through? I'd hate to have to blast ya again.”

The person in the odd hat sighs, looking defeated. “Very well then, just don't harm the village.”

“No one's going any further.” Another voice? This encounter seems to have suddenly gotten very crowded. Reimu flies out in front of your group, blocking your path.“This incident is my business, don't interfere.”

“Oh? As youkai and creatures of the night, I'd say that this is more our domain than yours.”

“I'd rather not waste the night bandying words with you. Back down now, all of you, or I will have to use force.”

“Actually there's not much to worry about with regards to time, my lovely servant has already made this night eternal.”

“So that was your doing as well? No chance that I'll let that pass without a fight.”

“I'd have it no other way, Reimu, I do have a score to settle with you, after all. Unfortunately I also have the business of retrieving the moon to get to.” She heaves a dramatic sigh. “What a tough decision indeed.” She suddenly turns to you and grins, her fangs gleaming brightly even in the dim light of the false moon. “But tough decisions are why I keep my cute little bookworm around. So then, Patchy, what's the strategy going to be?”

Is what she says, but you have no doubt that whatever you say will be meaningless. In the end, she’ll just keep doing whatever she wants anyway.

“I'll trust whatever decision you make, Patchouli.” Alice says stiffly. Trust is an easy thing to speak about, but you know there can be no real trust between rivals.

You don’t like the direction this is heading in.

Marisa shrugs, adding “I'm always up for a chance to go mono e mono with Reimu, but you seem like you know what you're doing Patchy, so I'll let you decide.”

“There you have it Patchy, what’s the plan going to be?” Remilia says with a snicker.


[ ] Let Remilia have her rematch with Reimu. Proceed with Alice and Marisa.
[ ] Let Marisa go one on one against Reimu. Proceed with the other three.
[ ] 5 versus 1 might even out the odds in your favor. Maybe. Hopefully.
[ ] 5 versus 1 might even out the odds in your favor. Maybe. Hopefully.

Doesn't really seem Patchy's style, though. So instead:
[X] Let Remilia have her rematch with Reimu. Proceed with Alice and Marisa.

I think we've dealt with Remilia enough for the time being, and we should still hear Alice's side of things; who knows if Remi is to be believed on the scheme, after all
[x] Let Remilia have her rematch with Reimu. Proceed with Alice and Marisa.
[x] Let Remilia have her rematch with Reimu. Proceed with Alice and Marisa.

I think trying to fight Reimu wouldn't turn out so well. Remember that Reimu paired up with Yukari. Also remember that the ghost team fought Marisa during IN. I can just see this snowballing into a full out war and taking far too much time if this turns into an all of stage 4 all at once clusterfuck. Even if leaving on our own leads too a fight with the ghost team, that'll still be a lot easier than having to deal with assists from Yukari and trying to keep coordinated enough that we don't just take ourselves out with friendly fire.

And Patchouli herself pretty much implied that she'd rather avoid conflict if possible, which this would accomplish.
[x] Let Remilia have her rematch with Reimu. Proceed with Alice and Marisa.

This Remilia is really annoying. Let's ditch her while she's fighting.
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"Remilia, take care of Reimu. The rest of us will go ahead."

“My pleasure. I trust that you can find your way without me, Patchy?”

“Of course.” You can feel the power of the moon, albeit only slightly, and it is definitely coming from the bamboo forest on the outskirts of the village.

Reimu only sighs. "You ought to just make things easier on yourself and just give up. Yukari, can you stop them for me?"

How could you forget the gap youkai? She could be a huge problem for you on her own as well. You don't see her, but she can teleport with her gaps apparently. Where will she show up, where is she now? You're at a disadvantage not knowing, but making a careless move out of fear would be worse.

"Um, Yukari? Did you hear me? Did you fall asleep again or something?" Reimu calls out into the darkness.

Are they trying to get you to lower your guard, lure you into a false sense of safety before they strike? This is certainly a formidable team.

Marisa starts laughing. Did she seriously fall for it? It'd be better not to correct her though. Perhaps you can act fooled as well to draw the gap youkai out of hiding. When she comes, you'll be ready for her, or at least as ready as you can ever be. You start to pool mana in your hands discreetly, and keep the incantations on the tips of your lips.

Reimu, on the other hand, looks like she is getting increasingly frustrated. She's really getting into this act. “Goddamnit Yukari!”

Marisa turns to you. “What's the hold up Patchy? Yukari is a no show, so let's go ahead.”

“But it might be a trap.”

“Hahaha, I don't think so. Danmaku is all about being straightforward with your feelings, even Yukari wouldn't resort to tricks. Or more like, she wouldn't feel like she would need too.”

“That sounds more like your personal philosophy than a universal one.”

“I don't really know what you mean, but this night isn't actually eternal, so we ought to get a move on.”

Remilia chimes in. “You heard her, Patchy. Leave this one to me and go ahead. I'll catch up with you once I'm finished here.” She then adds, a moment later, “I've always wanted to say that. Now then,” She turns back to Reimu, “It looks like it's going to be a very long night tonight. What do you say we have some fun together? Young Demon Lord!”

Remilia activates her first spell card. It's a barrier type that she uses to keep her prey from escaping, but you understand why she's using it now. She's keeping the Shrine Maiden inside the barrier with her to give you time to get away. A sound tactical move, though for someone as old as she is, you shouldn't be surprised.

On your side of the barrier is Sakuya. “Milady, please allow me to assist you.”

“Sorry Sakuya, this one is one-on-one, and you'd be dead weight here anyway.”

It's true, Sakuya would just get in Remilia's way here. Additionally, since Sakuya is the one slowing down the night, she needs to be protected.

“Then, at least allow me to stay by your side here Mistress.”

“As the head of the house of Scarlet, I order you to stay with those other three.”

“As you wish, so shall it be, Milady.”

The four of you turn and depart into the bamboo forest that lies at the edge of the human village. It really is like a maze, and it has a certain uneasy sense to it. Although you have studied eastern magics and culture for so many years, you still sometimes wish to return to your homeland along the Mediterranean.

You look over at the others, to gauge their reactions to this place. Marisa is, predictably, still the same usual ball of excess energy as usual. She seems to be a bit impatient with your pace, but the fault is with her for not being able to settle down and match the steady pace you've set.

Sakuya is expressionless as always. She seems as wary as someone in this situation should be. A bit of nervous tension is good for Danmaku. The only times you've ever seen her lose her composure has been around Remilia, but the poor girl doesn't seem to know that she's only being toyed around with. Indeed, even now, she keeps making not so subtle glances back in the direction you came from.

Is occurs to you that Alice hasn't spoken much, but you've noticed that for her to be quiet during group conversations is more or less the norm. She is, however, fidgeting nervously quite a lot. What could be making her so nervous? Does she have something planned? Whatever her goal is, you feel you can say with a certain degree of certainty that it doesn't involve directly harming you. If she had wanted to do that, she has had numerous very good opportunities already that she hasn't taken. When you were drunk, sleeping, or ill. All those times you were vulnerable, but she didn't strike. In all likelihood, her plans for you involve stealing the philosopher's stone, but of course you didn't bring it out from the vault tonight. This is not something worth risking your years of research for.

The precious few moments of silence you had are rudely disrupted by, of course, Marisa. “Yo, guys, what's with the silence? We're solving an incident, not attending a funeral here!”

“We're quiet because we're taking care of business, not just doing this for fun, unlike some people.” You take the opportunity to tell Marisa off.

“That makes it sound like a chore. You guys need to loosen up a bit more.”

Surprisingly, Alice is the one who speaks next. “Um, can't we all just get along a bit for the time being?”

You're not gonna let that pass. “That's a good joke, but Marisa and I are antithesis existences. We get along by avoiding each other.”

“Aw, that's mean Patchy. All you've got to do is lighten up a little bit.”

“I can just as easily 'lighten up' as you can sit still and be quiet.”

“Hey, I can be quiet when I need to be.”

“Oh yeah? Then let's put that to the test. A game, if you will.”

She's so competitive, this is an easy checkmate. “You're on, what's the game?”

“The game is you being quiet for the rest of the evening.”

“Hey! That's not a fun game at all, Patchy.”

Ignoring Marisa, you turn back to Alice. “As I said. Antithesis existences.”

“R-really? Cause it felt like you were g-getting along well just then.”

“You might want to reevaluate your definition of that.”

“M-maybe so.”

The conversation is put to rest by a commotion and the arrival of two ghastly figures that you don't recognize. Sakuya, you notice, bristles upon seeing them, whereas Marisa flies ahead, saying “Don't worry, I've got this one.” before yelling at the new arrivals. “Move and I'll shoot!” And then a second later “No, wait, I messed that up. I mean, shoot and then I'll move.”

“What?” The shorter of the two new arrivals speaks.

“Basically, I'm challenging you two to a Danmaku duel, cause you're obviously the cause of this incident.”

What exactly does Marisa think she's doing here? Obviously these two are not the culprits, the trace of the stolen moon leads elsewhere.

“Nono, we're here to solve the incident. Why would we even steal the moon in the first place?”

The taller of the two speaks up. “Hey, Youmu, do you think the moon tastes like cheese? I think we ought to add it to the dragon platter once we find it.”

“Ah hah! I knew you two were the culprits.” Marisa exclaims. “Well basically I'm mostly just bummed that Reimu got there before I did last time, so I'm taking this opportunity now.”

What an incredibly selfish reason. Alice seems to have similar concerns. “Marisa, I asked you to help me solve this incident; don't tell me you're gonna leave when we're so close.”

“Sorry, Alice, but I see this chance in front of me, and I just gotta take it. ‘Sides, it doesn't feel right, beating Reimu like this. I want to overcome her on my own.”

Once again, she's managed to successfully mix up her personal philosophies with more pressing issues at hand. “Marisa, we want to get the moon back. If you don't care about that, why are you even here?”

“Gee Patchy, I thought you'd be a bit happier about your antithesis staying behind.”

That's true. You too let your personal distaste for Marisa's actions override your dislike for company. You've been around her too much evidently, she's rubbing off on you terribly.

Suddenly, Sakuya appears behind and slightly to your right, and says quietly. “Lady Patchouli, if you will allow a selfish request, I also have some unfinished business with these two.”

You don’t want to divide your forces further, but you’re wary about letting Marisa leave your sight while you’re this far away from your library. Perhaps it would be fine to let Sakuya stay to keep an eye on her?

[ ] Allow Sakuya to stay.
[ ] Don't allow Sakuya to stay.
[X] Allow Sakuya to stay
Wasn't the whole reason Sakuya extended the night so they wouldn't miss a flower viewing even the next day? Why is she going through so much trouble for a dumb reason like that.

[X] Don't allow Sakuya to stay.

Cuz she needs to be protected.
[X] Allow Sakuya to stay
-[X] "Have fun with the half ghost"

Patchouli needs to start changing at some point.
In a few updates, there will be a major event. It should be noted though that what type of change occurs is still to be decided upon based on your choices.

Coincidentally, it might involve flower viewing.

No worries, though, I won't be dragging you through every incident.
[x] Allow Sakuya to stay.

I-it's not like she wants to be alone with Alice or anything.
[X] Allow Sakuya to stay.

And so, Marisa and Sakuya versus Youmu and Yuyuko.
Will they be alright without focus movement?
[X] Allow Sakuya to stay.

Good thing Yuyuko won't just off them. Sakuya can maintain the night while fighting a half-baked gardener, I'm sure.
And throwing the done a bone means we can either Patch up (Hey-oh!) with Alice. Well, her patch up with Patchouli.
And a BIG change coming up? That's got me pretty excited already.
As for the reveal you meant a couple updates ago, I feel silly now, apologies. Their previous 'relationship' has me wondering on the actuality of patchy history, given we've gotten snippets every so often. A lot of mystery as to how she became how she is.
>And I hope I am not the only one who finds the idea of a vampire and a young magician, having some 'hilarious' adventures as creatures of the night are want to do, funny.
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[X] Allow Sakuya to stay behind.

“Sakuya, stay here with Marisa, and keep an eye on her. I'd be very displeased to come back from this to find that she had taken the opportunity to 'borrow' anything from my library while I'm away.”

“Understood, Lady Patchouli, and I appreciate your allowance of this selfish request of mine.”

Marisa, of course, feels the need to make a statement. “Hey, what kinda partner do you think I am?”

“I don't.”

“In that case, I'll be helping myself to your books later.”

Sakuya removes a knife from her thigh strap. “I gave Lady Patchouli my word that I would not allow it.”

“No worries, chief maid, there's plenty of me to go around.”

The ghastly duo seem to be trying to use this opportunity to sneak past Marisa, but she whirls around to face them. “First things first though, I'm taking care of you two. Sakuya, want to team up here, or do I get to hog all the fun?”

“Lady Remilia would be displeased if our expedition were to be outshone by another. For the purpose of preventing that, my knives are yours to command.” She even ends that with a small bow.

“That 's a bit too stuffy of a speech, but I can tell your heart is in the right place. Let's get it on!”

Well, that settles that. With Sakuya around, your books should be safe, and so should Marisa. Probably at least enough to appease Reimu. Best not to waste time here though, and you'll be glad to be away from Marisa's love of incessant conversation. You're a bit apprehensive about having your forces split up this much, but you don't really have many other options.

Alice follows you silently as you make your way through the bamboo forest. It would be a very nice and calming silence, if it weren't for the tangible sense of anxiety emanating from her. It's making you feel uptight just being around her, and after a short while you get the sense that rather than diminishing, it's actually growing. If something has her distracted, she won't be able to keep up with her half of the fighting in the upcoming battles. You halt in your flight and turn around to confront her about it.

“What is it?”

“Ah!” She seems very startled suddenly, before recovering enough to respond. “I'm sorry, what did you say?”

“I can tell you're nervous. I'm asking why.”

“Oh, I'm fine. Quite alright. T-thanks for the concern though.”

You don't claim to be good at small talk, nor are you Sherlock Holmes or an attorney who can sniff out a false truth at 50 paces, but you can tell that's a blatant lie. The fact that she isn't being truthful with you is to be expected from a rival, but certainly no less worrying.

“That's a lie. You've got something other than Danmaku on your mind, and I don't want you distracted in a fight.”

A short sigh. “So you noticed, huh?” It'd be pretty hard to not notice, even for you. “I was just wondering if you had really forgiven me, or if you were just here with us because Reimu or Remilia forced you to.”

What's with this business about forgiveness? Why would you forgive a rival? What kind of rival asks for forgiveness in the first place? It's long overdue for you to clarify exactly what the relationship between the two of you will be.

“Allow me to be very clear with you here Alice. I see you as a rival. For tonight, our interests align, but after tonight” For a moment, you make eye contact, and the sadness in her eyes makes you choke on your words, but you have to finish this. You can't let her get any closer, can't let anyone worm their way into your heart. The only person you can really trust is yourself, and anyone who tries to get close to you is a threat to the order of your world of one. “After tonight, I don't want to see you again.”

Silence reigns. A sharp intake of breath, then a shaky exhale, followed by a slow but steady swelling of the chest. You can't take your eyes off the ground, but it needed to be said. She was a threat. She forced you to say that. You had no choice, you tell yourself

“N-no! The one thing I won't do is leave you alone. I promised myself that I would save you from your loneliness.”

What? Who is she to act like some kind of hero? You don't need saving, you chose yourself to lock yourself away. You don't need the outside world, you don't need companions, and you certainly don't need another hero. “I don't need saving. Please, just leave me alone.”

“I refuse. I've decided that I've got to be strong here. I won't back down this time.”

You don't understand. Why is she like this? This has to be some trap. Why won't she let you live your peaceful life in solitude? “I'll make you stay away.”

“I won't fight you, b-but I'll keep coming back. N-no matter how long it takes. That's what I've decided. No one deserves to be left all alone.”

“I chose to be alone.”

“T-then I'll change your mind! I’ll show you what you’re missing out on.”

Your mind's a mess right now, your hands are trembling, and you're feeling totally overwhelmed and confused. Why would anyone go to such lengths for you? You don't understand. So you do what you do best. You run away.

You don't look back. You don't turn back. Running away is the only thing you can do. After a while, you notice that there is a strange red tinge to your vision, and you hear a voice. “You've already driven yourself half crazy, this will be an easy one.” Suddenly a pair of bright red ovals appear in the center of your vision, staying there even when you turn your head or close your eyes. Those red eyes...Remilia? No, her eyes are more like...

“Hey, Patchy, doesn't it feel wrong, being with me? I've got a body like this, and my eyes look so… inhuman.”

“You say that, but I'm younger than you, so shouldn't you be the one feeling odd? Besides, I like your eyes. They're like roses.”

“Aww, thanks Patchy. Say, tonight, I want to become even closer to you.”

“You mean, you want to do that? I don't really know...”

“Please, Patchy? I really want it. It'll only hurt at first.”

You remember the overpowering redness of her eyes at that time.

You wake up with a start, and find yourself looking into Remilia's rose red eyes. You instinctively put a hand to your neck.

To your right, there's some flashing lights, but you can't make out any distinct details, and you can feel wind rushing by your face. You're flying? No, you're being carried through the air?

“Guess we gave you a bit more than you could handle, huh Patchy? That's okay. Reimu's taking care of the incident, I'm taking you back to the mansion.”

As you fall back into darkness, you remember...

“Isn't it dangerous to be flying like this, Remi? I'm quite a bit bigger than you...”

“We fly solo all the time, this isn't that different. Don't worry, I've got a good grip.”

“Hey, watch where you touching me.”

“It's not my fault, you're just full of fun places to touch. How's your asthma?”

“Doing better. Thanks for this.”

“My pleasure. It's not every day I get to fly with such a beautiful girl in my arms. Carrying you like this reminds me of a prince and his princess, or maybe a bride and groom. How's that sound?”

“I don't think you'd look very good in a tux, or shining armor either for that matter.”

You remember thinking that maybe being close to someone wouldn't be so bad after all.

You wake up in your bed, but something feels wrong. That feeling of strangeness doesn't leave you as walk through the library.You try to summon your familiar to you, but there’s no response. It seems your magic can’t reach her. Something is definitely wrong here. As you walk by the exit of the library, you do a double take. The doorway is gone, replaced by a solid wall. You approach it, trying to detect what kind of illusion might be in place.

“It's no illusion.”

You whirl around to find a short green haired girl, although she seems to carry herself like a grown woman, who is carrying a metal rod and has a very elaborate hat.

“This is what you wanted, right? A world all to your own?”

“Who’re you?”

“Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, a judge of the dead. You're still alive, don’t worry. I just like to do some of my work a bit proactively, while my clientele still have a chance to repent.”

“Is that what you're here for? To try to change the way I live?”

“No, not at all. You’ll be making that decision for yourself, but before you do, I want to remind you that your choices affect more than yourself.”

“I live alone.”

“No one is an island.”

“I try.”

“Oh, I'm well aware, but maybe you ought to consider changing that. Might I suggest a little bit of reading? As I'm sure you're aware, a good book can take you to other worlds, put you in others shoes, and let you experience things you might never have a chance to otherwise.”

She gestures towards a set of books at your reading desk. You know very well how books work. It doesn't look like you have much of a choice, other than what to read.

[ ] To Play with Human Shapes.
[ ] To Be by Your Side.
[ ] To Have an Eternal Rival
[ ] To Have Blood on Your Hands.
[ ] To Be Fair and Equal in all Things.
[ ] To Serve unto Death.
[ ] To Hide from the World and Never be Found
How this will work: You won't get to read every book, but you won't be limited to just one either. There will be multiple stages of book reading here, and the list of available books may grow or shrink without warning. Also as a heads up, I'm going to be gone all weekend and Monday, so the next update won't be until Tuesday or Wednesday.
Remilia could be a real charmer when she wanted to be.

[x] To Play with Human Shapes.

Might as well start at the beginning.
[X] To Play with Human Shapes

Alice time, gogogo!
[X] To Hide from the World and Never be Found
Why is Patchy's desire to be alone being treated like a bad thing? I mean...I understand the whole "no person is an island thing", but forcing someone to intetact with others without regard to their consent or preference is not the right way to go about this. If I was Patchy, the amount of annoyance I would feel towords this whole situation would be nothing short of profound. Alice, Remilia, and the Yama should all be ashamed of themselves.
She, like most people with a social issue, is rejecting what she doesn't understand. An uninformed choice is no choice at all.

[x] To Be by Your Side.
Not so bad eh?
This will be discussed at length, particularly in further interactions with certain characters. I'm personally really looking forward to that. When is it more important to act to someone's benefit, rather than their wishes? Each character has their own definition of when that is okay.
It is certainly a drastic set of actions they've each chosen to taken, but Patchy's also taken a few radical actions of her own.
[x] To Be by Your Side.

So, it feels like something happened with Remilia that drove Patchouli into herself. Perhaps Remi feels guilty now?
[X] To Hide from the World and Never be Found
[X] To Have an Eternal Rival
[X] To Play with Human Shapes.
[X] To Hide from the World and Never be Found

To me, this feels like a good starting point.
It's where Patchouli is at, currently, and she should understand herself before trying to understand others.

It's not as if someone asked her to decide whether or not she wants to be among people without knowing what "people" are like.
She's a youkai, meaning she's (at least) hundreds of years old.
I think she understands more than well enough to make an informed decision.

This is more to make her reflect and I think the others hope that it will make her realize she might have come to the wrong conclusion.
[X] To Hide from the World and Never be Found.
[X] To Play with Human Shapes.

If Patchouli's so paranoid of Alice, why not find out what she wants?

>It's where Patchouli is at, currently, and she should understand herself before trying to understand others.
Except the whole point of this choice is to get someone else's point of view. I'm pretty sure the "Hide from the World" choice is Flandre.
I don't know, I don't think Flandre is hiding from the world by choice, so much as being hidden by Remilia.

While the author can of course do what they want, I feel like Patchouli is actively hiding (and running) from, well, everything at this point, so it's more likely to be her.

Then again, the way this is set up it might not have Patchouli as a choice, in which case...
yeah, Flandre would be the only logical choice there.
[X] To Play with Human Shapes.
[X] To Play with Human Shapes.
I want to know why Alice wishes to give life to her dolls.
I am still alive, I'm just putting a lot of work into this next update.

It's a pretty big one by by standards thus far anyway, and also an important one so I feel like I have to get it perfect. Hope you're all looking forward to it despite the wait. I loved the voter turnout last time, which is why it feels especially bad that this one has been delayed.

Ideally I'll be posting sometime today but I don't want to make promises if I'm not sure I can keep them.
New thread. Same Patchy? Maybe not.
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