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File 141014358032.jpg - (206.39KB, 850x600, Gifts of the Magi Thread 2.jpg) [iqdb]
60988 No. 60988
[ ] To Play with Human Shapes

BGM:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgzLwxuX154

Might as well start with the first one to catch you eye. You pick up the book with the title To Play with Human Shapes , and begin reading.

To play with dolls in human shapes is the closest I've ever come to others. There were, of course, my mother and the people who served her, those are people who are dear to me, but there was no one I could call a friend. Now, what I search for most is a person with who I can have the kind of closeness that I have thus far only read about.

You certainly hope that there is more to the story than this, as you have no interest in reading about someone complaining. However, as you continue, another set of text appears between the lines that you have already read.

To read stories is the closest I've come to living among others. There are, of course, those who live around me, but there is a gap between us that I long ago gave up trying to cross. Now, what I search for most is a satisfying life alone.

“And? Are you satisfied?”

You whirl around. It was the Yama who spoke to you.

“How did you......”

“As the judge of the dead, I hold the Cleansed Crystal Mirror, allowing me to divine the truth of the past. I've also enlisted the help of an old acquaintance from Hell to read the hearts of those around you, which you are now reading an excerpt from.”

“Awfully invasive, isn't it?”

“A standard lecture would be ignored, so I had to get a bit creative. As for my acquaintance, she can't control her power, but I'm using this as an example for her that it can be used to accomplish good deeds.”

“Unfortunately, you won't be accomplishing anything today. As I already said, I am fine being as I am now. The fault lies with those who can't understand or respect that I have my own way of living happily, one different from theirs.”

“I would not deny anyone their own path, so long as it led them to heaven. I merely asked you, are you satisfied with the way you've been living?”

Of course you are. “I am. The only things that I need to be happy are my books and my research.”

“It is a clever lie that you've convinced yourself of, but it is my job to see the truth beyond it.”

“It is no lie. As I said, you have no respect for my way of life.”

“It is you who are not respecting yourself. You feel that you must be satisfied with that, because that is all you allow yourself. To find justification for a life that you are not satisfied with, you feel you must drive yourself into an obsession with your research. To placate any desire to experience the world, you try to live vicariously through your books instead. To keep others away, you have allowed paranoia to be your shield against the world. You are, in truth, no more satisfied than a lonely girl is by playing with dolls. Such are the crimes you have committed upon yourself, but today I offer you a pardon, should you choose to accept it.”

How dare she. You feel a red rush of anger, and-
It takes all your logical capacities, coupled with the fact that you don't actually know what you would say, but you manage to not explode at her. Instead, you simply turn away and look down.

Shiki, in your silence, speaks up. “My apologies, perhaps I said too much too soon. I will take my leave for a while. At your convenience, I would suggest that you finish what you were reading.”

You don't watch her leave, but you know she's gone. A part of you wants to spite her by not reading it, but you know that it would be simply childish. Besides, in the absence of something to read, thinking about what she said frustrates you to no end. Taking a deep breath, you push the previous events to the back of your mind. Thinking logically, if this is truly taken from the heart of someone you know, then it could house some very useful information. Going by the title, this is likely from Alice. You remember your interaction with her from the previous night and scowl. First then, and now again with Shiki, you need to stop losing your calm like that. You need to stay this way so that people will leave you alone again. You open the book and begin reading again.

Although I don't have any friends right now, I know that if I go out and try to meet new people, I'll find someone who I fit well with; a person just for me. At least, that's the theory, but in practice, I'm not so sure. Everyone here in Gensokyo is so nice and friendly, but I'm not sure if any of them are someone who I can really be a close friend with. The problem is probably with me, since I can't match them in being social. When I try to talk with people, I just want to run away and hide. I wonder sometimes, what is wrong with me?

If this is to be believed, then it appears that you saw a glimpse of the real Alice at Remilia’s party. You certainly did get the feeling that she wasn’t comfortable at the party. Considering that, you feel a strange sense of companionship with her, although you know that you ought to consider her your rival. Damn this imprisonment, you don’t want this; you don’t want to know about anyone else. Your life is so much simpler, so much easier, when you can just ignore and avoid everyone else.

Again, another section of text has appeared in the white space. These secondary thoughts are vastly different from the original, so they are likely from another person, and you have a sneaking suspicion that these are in fact your own thoughts. It is certainly an odd feeling to be reading them yourself.

Although I live alone, I know that it's okay. I'll find my own way, a lifestyle that fits me. Ideally. I could live on my own, peaceful and uninterrupted; I would be happy that way, I think, but in practice my wish to be left alone is not respected. I chose solitude because dealing with people is difficult and unimportant. Being alone is easier, but everyone around me seems determined to not allow me my solitude. They don't understand that I'm not like them, and that I don't want to live like they do. The fault lies with them, I’m not the one who is wrong here.

Reading your own creed in words is a very bizarre experience. Although you agree with it and know it to be the only path that is good for you, you can’t help but feel dissatisfied when you read it. This is your chosen way, so why does it no longer feel right? You know only that you must continue to read, perhaps further in this text you will find the closure that you now seek.

I hope good things come from meeting new people. Recently, I’ve been somewhat stuck in my doll research, and I think it would be really nice if I could meet some fellow magicians. Maybe they would have some useful advice. Although, that might be a little bit selfish, but it’s not like I want to make friends so I could use them. Maybe I could help them too! But since I’m such a clutz I’d probably just get in their way. It’s not like I’m very good at magic, whenever I’m too weak, I have to rely on the grimoire I got from Mom. I live on my own now, so I feel like I have to move past that. In a sense, I suppose that’s why I care so much about my dolls. Since I’m a creation of Mom, a product of her magic, I’m not wholly unlike a doll myself, so I thought that if I were to learn more about dolls, I’d be able to understand more about myself as well. Maybe I’m mixing my work and philosophy too much here, and maybe in the end I’m just a stupid kid trying to follow in their parent’s footsteps, but I feel like I need to have some sort of goal to work towards.

You let a short calm breath. You want to believe this, that her motives are clear and pure. If it were true, it would make things so much simpler for you. You could just see to it that what she wants is taken care of, and then you could send her on her way and never have to deal with her again. Which would be good. It would let you return to your solitude, which what you want most. That phrase no longer sounds right like it used to in your head, no matter how many times you repeat it.

You distract yourself with the more pressing issue of whether or not the things you now experience can be believed. You have no reason to trust that any of this is true, but you also can’t think of any motive for the Yama to deceive you either. If she truly had good intent towards you, she would not have bothered you like this. Yet, she claims to have your interests in mind while acting against your will. Even assuming that was somehow the case, no one could genuinely care this much about the actions of another, and yet here she is. It is all a very irritatingly confounding issue to try to understand others, and you have found it is far simpler to not try.

Unfortunately, you have been stipped of that option, and to your own displeasure, it seems you have learned a bit more about Alice. This quest she has set out for herself with her dolls does make sense. The desire to understand oneself is a key part of being human, it seems, and you know from your research on human and youkai psychology that it is not uncommon for creatures with distinctly limited lifespans to, upon being freed of mortal constraints, experience a feeling of aimlessness and accompanying anxiety. Perhaps her interest in researching dolls is in reaction to those feelings?

Nothing good can come from outsiders. Recently, I have had quite a few intruders come and interrupt my work, and it has been quite disruptive in particular to my research on the philosopher’s stone, which requires a great deal of both time and secrecy. My familiar is the only one who I will permit to see my work and assist me; the many years together and the contract that binds us is insurance enough. This project has become my everything, my last word to say that there is at least one magician who has not given up the old arts. Without it I am nothing, so I must protect it with everything I can. I can’t afford to think about the costs to myself that may result, for this shall be my magnum opus, my life’s greatest work. The study of magic will not perish from the world silently. Such are my convictions to continue my work, to any end it may lead.

You turn the page to the next set of Alice’s thoughts. The only way you’ll be able to make progress in figuring out your situation is by going forward. If you completely reject everything she has you read, you’ll never be let out of here. The irony of that almost makes you chuckle. You’re locked in a place you’d prefer to never leave. Of course, your usual activities aren’t available to you at the moment, otherwise you’d be perfectly fine with staying in this “prison” forever. To get back to your research, you’ll need to convince the yama that you’ve repented, somehow.

There are two people, though, that I think I might be able to become good friends with. There's Marisa, who I first met around the time I became a youkai. She's a bright and cheerful person, and though she can be a bit abrasive at first, I know she's a good person at heart. Like others, she's a bit hard to be around at first, but I think that if I were to become closer to her, then I could become a bit more sociable too.

Why is it considered a good quality to be like Marisa? You’ve never understood that. Why is there this focus on a person’s social habits? The rest of the world holds you to her standard, but you’re fine not fitting that mold. She’s too immature to be using magic, and far too much so for you to stand being around her. The formal study of magic requires dedication to acquire Knowledge, yet she just steals whatever techniques she likes and seems to put no effort into anything. She’d get close to anyone if it makes it easier to commit theft.

There are two people, though, who seem particularly intent on removing me from the paradise I have made for myself in my library. The first is Remilia, who I met over a century ago and have had far too many dealings with for my liking. She was a lover once, at a time when I foolishly tried to be someone who I am not, but nowadays I am simply a tenant in her home. She claims that we are friends, but I know that she only calls someone friend when she needs something from them.

It’s odd, you realize, that you’ve lived with Remilia for so long and yet have so little to say about her. Perhaps it is because always hides herself behind a cloak of lies and deception. You thought that you knew the true Remilia during your time as lovers, but that too was merely yet another lie to her. Thinking back to that time is irritating, so you continue on to the next section of Alice’s thoughts.

The second person is Patchouli Knowledge. She's hard to interact with, and I can't understand what she's thinking most of the time. Remilia Scarlet was helping me to try to befriend her, but I'm not so sure if she has her best interests in mind. I sought out Patchouli because I heard she was like me, and that seems to be the case. Once I realized that, I decided that I would do my best to help her get through it, and maybe in the process I can change too. When I made that clear to her, though, it occurred to me that perhaps I'm being really selfish, dragging Patchouli into my business like this. She never asked for help, I just assumed.... I hope I didn’t mess things up with her. I do get the feeling that we could have been friends. Maybe we still can be; all I can do now is hope.

Friendship? In the end, she’s truly just looking for a companion? What a fool, she’s just like you were, centuries ago. A goodly honest fool, thinking that happiness is something you can find with other people. If a friend is what she wants, though, then why does she have her sights set on you? You’re not a friendly person, surely she would have more luck attempting to woo someone else. Or she could just do as you have and embrace the solitude.

A friend…

You shake off your distraction. You’re reading this for closure about your solitude, not to be tempted by foolish ideas. You will not be someone’s fool again.

The second person is Alice Margatroid. She has alternated between many titles in my mind, a threat first to my person, then to my research, and most recently it seems she has settled on targeting my sanity. I don't know how to deal with her, and I only just determined her true goal, which in of itself is far too puzzling to do much with currently. It seems that like, Remilia, she has decided that she is my friend, only she also has decided that she needs to win it rather than taking it for granted as Remilia does. Her desire to befriend me makes her dangerous, for she threatens the peaceful and singular existence I have created for myself. The offer sounds appealing at first, and there is a part of me that wants it to be true, but rationally it’s a risk I just can’t justify. There is no point in trying again, the result will be the same. I ought to save myself the heartache and never let this start. Even this intrusion into my world of one will not cause me to back down from my principles.

[ ] Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.
[ ] Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
[ ] Time is the longest distance between two places.
[ ] The moment you back down is the moment you lose.
[ ] Take a break from reading. Debate with the yama why it is better for you to be a shut-in.

--------------------------------------------
A whole new thread, full of opportunity. Feels like I’m really moving up in the world or something. Goodbye, 60556, we had good times together.

I designed the choices this time around to be a bit more complex. Anon doesn’t always like puzzles, and some of these do require a bit of background knowledge, especially the first one, so if you guys all complain then that ‘s a sign I made it needlessly complex, and I’ll try to remedy that with hints in that scenario.
126posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 61652
[X] Change is the way of the world, but no matter what, this will still be our library and our home.
[X] This time, your research exists to protect others, not as an excuse to cut yourself off from them.

We fight some changes, accept others
>> No. 61656
[X] Change is the way of the world, but no matter what, this will still be our library and our home.
[X] This time, your research exists to protect others, not as an excuse to cut yourself off from them.
>> No. 61661
[x] Change is the way of the world, but no matter what, this will still be our library and our home.
[x] Talk with Remilia, Re: Yuuka and Maids.

I'd like to know Remilia's thoughts on the situation.
>> No. 61674
Right, gonna call the voting now. Expect an update in a few hours, hopefully.

To clarify for future reference, when I'm doubling up on options, I'm counting votes for each set of options separately, and you don't have to vote for both sets of choices, since I realize that some sets of choices simply don't matter to some people.

Of course I try my best to make choices that are interesting and feel worth voting for, but I'd be a fool if I thought I could please everybody all the time.
>> No. 61709
File 141608610915.jpg - (427.28KB, 849x1201, Gift of the Magi Patchy Black Dress.jpg) [iqdb]
61709
[X] Change is the way of the world.
[X] Research.

“Change is the way of the world, but no matter what, this will still be our library and our home.”

“If you say that everything will work out, then I'll trust you, Patchouli.”

It would, perhaps, be better, if she were to trust in herself instead, but you can't deny that having someone relying on you isn't so bad either.

Perhaps if she were to no longer need you for everything, then she would change too? Maybe she will someday find people and things to love outside the library. That should be a happy idea, you know, but then where would that leave you?

“Say, Koakuma.”

“Yes, Patchouli?”

“...Never mind, It's nothing.”

There's no value in worrying about the future if it makes the present distasteful. For now, until she's ready to pursue a life of her own choosing, the only thing you can do is help her believe in herself.

“I'm going to be doing some research, but I don't think I'll need your help with it directly. Instead, I have another important job for you to do.”

“Anything you ask, I will do to the best of my ability.”

“Good. Now, what I want you to do is come and interrupt me if I start to push myself when you feel I should take a break.”

She seems hesitant, but is unwilling to voice her unease, so you reinforce that you meant what you said.

“I'm serious. You said you would do whatever you could, so what I want you to do is take care of me in that way.”

Her chest swells with purpose and new understanding of her mission. “Understood, I'll make sure to do exactly that, Patchouli.”

“Good.”

Now then, it's research time. Marisa should be asleep now, and Alice seems to have no intentions towards it, so there should be no harm in getting out the philosopher's stone. If you only work with the stone directly for a limited time, and spend the rest on theoretical work, you should be able to minimize the damaging effects of being close to the stone. Of course, if you could perfect it, then you could potentially remove it altogether. In the meantime, you'll just have to accept the small loss in time efficiency.

Since time might not be on your side, you decide to delay attempting to perfect the stone itself, and instead focus on other methods that will allow you to unleash more of it's power sooner. In the long term, these workaround methods would very likely be made obsolete by a perfected stone, but you'd prefer to have it in it's most usable state now, and you can perfect it later.

“Patchouli”

The basic principle is that the way you currently use it routes the power directly through yourself in an unrefined form, which imposes a limit of both usage time and quantity, based on how much your body can safely conduct.

“U-um, Patchouli”

Attaching the stone to a magical staff can reduce the damaging effect, but that in turn dampens the power enough to make it less than ideal.

“If it's a bad time, I can come back later...”

Someone seems to be calling your name. Normally you'd just ignore them, but you're feeling somewhat stuck in your research currently. There just doesn't seem to be any way to bypass the limit of your body when using the stone. It's frustrating, but neither venting nor acknowledging it will achieve anything anyway.

So, who is it that's calling for you? You look up from your book, to see Alice nearby, looking at you. “Sorry to interrupt your work, I just wanted to say that if you needed anything, I'm free to work as your assistant, if you want.”

“Is that all you wanted to say? I'm just doing some research, I'll send for you when I need help with an experiment.”

“There was one more thing, but if you're busy I won't bother you right now.”

“Just spit it out.”

“Oh, um, okay. While I was wandering around the library, I saw this giant doll, or maybe it would be better to call it a golem. Anyway, I was just kind of curious about it, so...”

Ah. The Elemental Goliath Doll (name subject to change). Since it was a useless creation, you had completely forgotten about it.

“It's just something I made on a whim a while back. I don't really care about it, so if you want to...”

You stop in mid-sentence as a sudden burst of inspiration hits you. That's it! Maybe. It's worth a shot. If your body can't handle the philosopher's stone, then maybe an artificial body can!

“Change of plans Alice. It's basically a doll, but right now it can only move when directly controlled, and even then it's slow and clumsy. Can you make it move on it's own like your dolls? Can you improve my design somehow?”

“Maybe? I don't really know, I haven't looked at it that closely or anything yet, so...”

“No maybes. I've seen your work with dolls, I know you can make it happen. If you have any questions, come ask me. I'll be designing a new heart for it, so prepare it's brain keeping in mind that it's current core is temporary. .”

“I-I'll get started right away.”

“Good, keep up that enthusiasm.”

Your hands are shaking and your heart is racing. It's been too long since your research has been this exhilarating, and you haven't even technically started it yet.

Fantastic.

You get to work figuring out how to repurpose the stone as an energy core. It's not exactly the intended purpose, but this should be doable. It might be difficult to maintain a stable current when dealing with this much power, but perhaps if you were to lean on the design for the electric resistor, the same concept could be applied here. It bothers you to use a human design when working with magic, but it would be foolish to ignore it's practicality for personal reasons.







You've got a basic framework for the crystalline structure that you'll be using as your mana resistor completed. It's a bit larger than you'd like, but you can always just increase the size of the doll.

At that time, Koakuma comes up to you, with a cup of tea.

“Your right, Koakuma. Now is a good time to take a break, isn't it?”

How long were you working for? It seems to be daytime again, which means that Remilia is probably asleep or heading there soon. She does stay up later into the day at times, but that's mostly for special events and shrine visits.

Walking over to the doll, it looks like a lot of work was done on it, but you don't see Alice anywhere. Well, her business is her own.

Now then, how should you spend your break time
[ ] If it's daytime, then Marisa should be Maidrisa. This should be good for a laugh.
[ ] Nothing says break-time quite like curling up on a couch with a good book, and you've got just the one in mind.
[ ] More Koa time.
[ ] A walk amongst the grounds could be a nice change of pace.
[ ] Write-in
>> No. 61710
[x] Nothing says break-time quite like curling up on a couch with a good book, and you've got just the one in mind.

What's in the booooooooook
>> No. 61712
[ ] More Koa time.
>> No. 61714
[x] Nothing says break-time quite like curling up on a couch with a good book, and you've got just the one in mind.
>> No. 61715
[X] If it's daytime, then Marisa should be Maidrisa. This should be good for a laugh.

It's a limited-time offer. Not every day one manages to put Marisa in a maid uniform.
>> No. 61718
[X] More Koa time.

Koa time is best time
>> No. 61722
[X] If it's daytime, then Marisa should be Maidrisa. This should be good for a laugh.
>> No. 61726
[X] More Koa time.

Yep. More koa
>> No. 61734
File 141629587572.jpg - (348.85KB, 850x637, Koakuma Admiration 2.jpg) [iqdb]
61734
[X] More Koa Time.

There's no better way to spend a break than with Koakuma. She's already here, so it's just a matter of inviting her.

“If you don't mind, I'd like to spend my break with you. Is that all right?”

“Of course, whatever you desire is fine, Lady Patchouli.”

That kind of answer bothers you, like she's only agreeing as a servant agrees to her master's wishes. It wasn't a command, and you

“I told you to stop with this 'Lady' business.”

“My apologies, Patchouli.”

In the past, when she was younger, she was still shy, but was outgoing enough around people she trusted, like yourself. She used to come up to you and excitedly tell you all about whatever book she was reading, or to show off some new magic spell she'd learned. It was a little awkward for you, but looking back, you really miss those days.

That Sakuya, though, is always hiding behind the professional attitude required by her job, and Koakuma was all too quick to pick up that unfortunate habit. She's always had a knack for and a predisposition towards mimicry, as you first noticed by how quickly she took to magic and reading when you started to teach her, but in this case it's had an inconvenient turn.

Perhaps you're also to blame though. Is her new attitude a method of protecting herself from your previous neglect? You'd prefer to think not, but you're not so foolish as to delude yourself in order to ignore unfortunate realities and personal blame.

Looking at it that way, it's entirely possible that she has grown resentful of you. It would be understandable, and by that logic, she only accommodates you now out of a servant's feelings of obligation. It's just speculation, but you can't get the possibility out of your head. n

Regardless, you've been put into a bothersome predicament where you seem to have lost touch with Koakuma, and as such are currently sitting in silence on the couch, trying to figure out what to talk about, as she quietly reads her book in the nearby chair.

Normally, a comfortable silence would be the ideal way to spend time with someone, but the silence
being not of your own choosing makes the situation far from comfortable.

Well, it's not much, but you do have an idea of how to break this silence. It was something you wanted to say before, but it was a bit embarrassing and definitely the kind of excessive speech that doesn't suit you at all, and so you kept your peace. In the meantime, though, you've been thinking that perhaps it would be better to say it after all. Yes, you should, ere goes.

“I've decided to add an additional clause to the task I gave you before. Anytime you're feeling lonely, or want me to spend time with you, I want you to make it known to me. You come before my research.”

Koakuma remains silent for a moment. This is not the response you were expecting. However, you've said what you wanted to say, now you just need to wait for a response.

“You know I appreciate you spending time with me, I really do. But as a servant, it would be wrong of me to make you feel the need to force yourself to do this. I'll be fine on my own, really.”

So that's it, then? You were afraid so, and were mentally preparing yourself for the possibility, but now that it's come to pass, you still can't help but feel shaken by it.

“I see. Then, I'll be resting in my room.”

You don't look back until you close and lock the door behind you. Laying down on your bed, your head is filled with thoughts you'd rather not have, and try as you may, you can't ignore them or distract yourself. After some time, you don't know how long, the sweet release of sleep overtakes and frees you.

***

Don't leave me too, Koa.

***

You wake up to a knock on your door. As you recollect the events that happened before you slept, you lose all motivation to get out of bed, much less deal with a visitor.

The knocking comes again, followed by a voice. “Patchy, can I come in for a bit?” Remilia? Why is she here?

“When Sakuya woke me up to tell me that Koa was bawling her eyes out, I figured it would be something like this. There's nothing I can do to help if you don't talk to me though.”

Koa was crying? You feel a tightness in your chest. It seems that once again you've hurt her. You really don't deserve her. The only thing you know for certain is that you don't want to hurt her anymore. You sit upright on the bed, and with a wave of your hand, the door unlocks with a click.

Remilia enters. “Sakuya is with Koakuma. Of course, since her people skills are a bit so-so, I also have the gatekeeper coming, since she gets along well with Koa.”

Does she? You didn't know. Of course you don't know, you don't know anything about Koakuma anymore.

In your silence, Remilia takes a seat next to you and continues speaking. “So, I have a general understanding, but can you fill me in on the details?”

“Koakuma doesn't need me anymore, and that's for the best. I've been terrible to her, after all.”

Remilia just stares at you, and then bursts into laughter. What? How can she be laughing now?

“That's a good joke, Patchy. You and her are as codependent as they come. Now, tell me, preferably verbatim, what happened between you and her. I get the feeling that you've made a big misunderstanding here. “

You relate your previous conversation to Remilia, who, after a moments deliberation, frowns at you. “You know, if you magician types weren't so dang fragile, I'd totally punch you.”

“What?”

“I read in a book that it's something that one does to a friend to bring them to their senses when they're being foolish.”

“What kind of insane book did you read that in?”

“I got it from your library. Anyway, you're an idiot.”

“Would you mind perhaps explaining your reasoning?” You're getting a bit annoyed now.

“You know as well I do that Koa doesn't have much confidence, but she really believes in and trusts you. So for you to be spending a bunch of time with her, by her logic, isn't due to her own value, but instead a kindness from you that she feels is wasted on herself. Basically, she feels unworthy.”

“Yes, she doesn't believe in herself much, but that doesn't change the fact that she surely hates me by now. How could she not, after all I've put her through?”

Remilia sighs. “It's easier to run away and think of the whole world as an enemy, isn't it? A very long time ago, I wasn't so different in that respect. But this time, I'm not going to let you do that to yourself, not with her. Trust isn't something easily earned, but I think she at least deserves for you to trust that she still cares about you as much as you care about her. I talked to her a bit before coming here, and you know what she said? 'I shouldn't have said that. I'm sure Patchouli hates me now.' So, are you going to let her continue to believe that?”

You need to make this right, but you can't help but have doubts “I want to fix things with her, but what if I hurt her again?”

“There are ups and downs in all kinds of relationships, but I'm sure the two of you will do just fine. Of course, since I'm a good friend of yours, I'll help you when I can. I am, after all, an expert in master/servant relations. Before we go sort things out with her, however, I think you should sort out your own thoughts.”

“Meaning?”

“What do you want your relationship with Koakuma to be.”

“I told you before, I think of her like family.”

“Yes, but you were also quite convinced that she hated you a moment ago. I just don't want you to continue to lie to yourself and end up making a decision you'll regret later. Say that she's just like family again, and I'll believe you and drop the subject, just think it over first, and make sure that's what you really want.”

[ ] Koa is my precious family.
[ ] Koa is important to me, and I want to be something more than just family to her.

-----------------------------
Yes, this is a route-lock choice.
>> No. 61735
[x] Koa is important to me, and I want to be something more than just family to her.

Not that it has any chance of winning.
>> No. 61736
[X] Koa is my precious family.
>> No. 61737
[x] Koa is important to me, and I want to be something more than just family to her.
>> No. 61738
[X] Koa is my precious family.
>> No. 61739
[x] Koa is my precious family.

Really tough choice, but to me, Koa and Patchy really have more of a familial bond, especially since Koa was essentially raised by Patchy.
>> No. 61740
[X] Koa is my precious family.

Feels more like family than a potential love interest to me.
>> No. 61741
[X] Koa is my precious family.
>> No. 61742
[x] Koa is important to me, and I want to be something more than just family to her.

Pissing into the tide once more.
>> No. 61745
File 141635543199.jpg - (366.68KB, 1000x770, 29650459_.jpg) [iqdb]
61745
[x] Koa is my precious family.

Sounds like she was like a daughter or little sister to Patchy, but that faded away as she got older and nothing filled the void. We need to reconnect as family, I don't see romance coming into it.

I'd like to see where things go with Alice, anyway.
>> No. 61746
[X] Koa is my precious family.
>> No. 61747
>>61745
Part of me wants to say Koa because Koa is love, but...
I think this Koa is familial love.

[X] Koa is my precious family.
All aboard the Alice train!
>> No. 61748
[X] Koa is my precious family.

The only choice.
>> No. 61752
[x] Koa is my precious family.
>> No. 61788
The update is in fact in progress. It just broke 2000 words, but it's still got a ways to go, so I don't want to jump ahead of myself with time estimates.

I don't know how free I'll be during Thanksgiving break, so I also want to give fair warning that my update speed might be affected. Hopefully not, but we'll just have to see.
>> No. 61797
File 14175764298.jpg - (132.92KB, 850x1062, Patchy Koakuma Snowy Library.jpg) [iqdb]
61797
[X] Koa is my precious family.

You get up, and move towards the door. As you exit the room, you turn back to Remilia for a moment. “Koa is my precious family.” It's the truth.

“So, you've found your answer? Fantastic. It seems I don't need to worry about that getting in the way of you and Alice after all. Just because I won't be pushing the two of you together anymore doesn't mean that I'm above a few nudges.” She lets out a smirk and follows you on your way out of the library, and moving to the front to guide you to the lounge that she left Koakuma in. Maybe someday Remilia will be able to say that she was just worried without trying to pass it off as one of her schemes, but it's fine this way too.

Of course, only a poor friend wouldn't play along, and a bit of playful banter will help to calm your nerves en route “Still on about that? I don't suppose I'll ever get to hear what it is that you were trying to accomplish by playing cupid, right? Surely the great Remilia had some higher agenda than simple matchmaking.”

She gives you a look that might be genuine surprise. “My, you didn't realize it yet? I thought for sure you had, in light of your recent actions.”

“My recent actions?”

“Well, in the end it's such a small affair that I'm sure you'd want to give me a punch if I told you.”

“Talking about that thing from the book again?”

She chuckles. “It is a little strange for me to have read a book that you haven't, isn't it?”

“It's been a while since I had time to read much fiction.” Too long perhaps.

“If you're interested, the name had something to do with seas and stars, but I wasn't terribly interested in that part of it. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend it.”

“I'll consider it.” More importantly than any of that, however, is clearing things up with Koakuma. While you were talking, you arrived at your destination.

“I take it you're ready?”

“Of course.” You already had your mind set on a course of action before you left the library.

“Then I'll give the two of you some privacy.” Remilia knocks once on the door, and a moment later, Sakuya and Meiling open the door and leave the room, joining Remilia in departure. It's good that they seem to have enough sense to respect that this will be a personal conversation, and interlopers are not welcome.

Taking a deep breath, you enter the room and see Koakuma sitting on one of the couches. Upon noticing your entrance, she starts to cover her tear-red eyes. Seeing her like this is painful, but more than anything now, it strengthens your resolve. You know what you have to do.

“Koakuma, I need to apologize to you.”

She starts to protest. “No, I should be the one to apologize!”

You hold up an open hand to interject. “I'll listen to any apologies you still feel the need to give, but first, may I just say a few things?”

“Oh, of course, Patchouli. I'm sorry for interrupting you.”

She apologized again, but you aren't going to call it out, since you have something more important to say. First you sit next to her and say a little incantation, one that she was probably too young to remember the last time she heard it on the day that you contracted with her. She's grown a lot since then, so it's only fitting that she would outgrow that old contract as well.

“Alright, it's done. You're free”

“W-what?” She is understandably startled, but once you explain, you're sure she'll understand.

“I released you from your contract, I’m no longer your master-”

“You're getting rid of me? But I don't want to leave! I love this library, more than anything.”

It’s an understandable mistake for her to make. Perhaps if you had more of a way with words, you could have headed that off preemptively, but if you explain your intentions clearly, it should still work out.

“I'm not getting rid of you. If you want to stay, then stay. What I mean, is this is still your home. No matter what, you'll always be welcome here.”

“So, you don't hate me?”

Actions speak louder than words, apparently, so you extend your arms to give her a hug, and after a moments hesitation, she practically jumps into them. For the sake of clarity though, it'd probably be best to speak your thoughts as well. “I'm sorry for worrying you and making you cry. You're my precious family, I could never hate you, and because we're family, I want us to be equals, not master and servant. Okay?”

With her head practically buried in your chest, it's a bit difficult to hear her response, but you make out what sounds like an affirmative response, and coupled with some vigorous nodding on her part, you get the picture.

It's a bit embarrassing to admit this, but it doesn't feel right to hold it back either. “One more thing, Koakuma. Even though you're free now, I'm glad to hear that you want to stay here. I don't want to bind you to this place, but it's also true that the library wouldn't be as warm a place if you weren't here.”

She doesn't respond but instead just tightens the hug slightly in affirmation.

The two of you stay like that for a moment in silence, neither willing to break away. Normally you wouldn't like this kind of physical contact, but if it's Koa, then it's fine.

It's been a few minutes now. Perhaps you should say something to break the silence. You're not really sure what to say, but you suppose that anything will do. “I've just started on a new research project, but I'm not really sure what to name it, maybe you could help me come up with some ideas?”

There's no response, and you realize that she has fallen asleep on you. Well, anyone would be exhausted by all this drama, and she's already the type to work herself to exhaustion normally. As for yourself, you just woke up, but it seems you weren't asleep for long, and it wasn't exactly restful either, so following suit might just be a good idea. It's not like you could leave her while she was asleep after saying all that, or rather, you couldn't allow yourself to leave her.

You shift Koakuma gently so that you can both be more comfortable, making sure she doesn't wake up in the process. You consider disentangling yourself from her a bit more, but this way is more like how she used to be, so maybe, just for now, it's okay to stay like this.

***

Waking up, you feel a little bit stiff, and start to get up with a start when you feel the warmth of another person next to you, but upon recalling prior events and remembering that it's just Koa, you ease back down.

You probably foolishly woke her up doing that. This kind of closeness is still going to take a bit of getting used to.

Those fears, however, were unfounded, as it seems Koa was already awake.
“Good morning, Patchouli” She greets you with a smile. “Shall I prepare your morning tea?”

She starts to get up, but you pull her back. “It can wait a bit.” It's not something you'd ever admit it to anyone, but the idea of losing Koakuma scares you. Right now you're just being a bit overly possessive, but if it lets Koa know how important she is to you, then that's fine.

“...okay.” She returns the embrace.

At this time, you realize that there is another presence in the lounge. Sitting up and looking around, you see that Alice is here, in full maid regalia, dusting the shelves. When she sees you, she bows and apologizes, “Sorry to disturb you, I hope I'm not intruding on anything. Remilia told me that this room had to be cleaned right away.”

Remilia doesn't waste any time, it seems. “I don't really mind, but you can make up for the interruption by getting us both some tea. Use the blend from the library storeroom, and bring my medicine from there too.” You do kind of mind, but it's more Remilia's fault than hers. Besides, you've learned that Alice, like Koakuma, is the sort that doesn't seem to respond well to negativity.

She's about to leave, but you catch her attention. “Actually, make that three cups of tea.”

“Three cups?”

“Myself, Koakuma, and yourself. I'd like to talk some more about our research.”

“Is that alright? I mean, I am on the job right now, and the two of you are, well...”

“Well, Koakuma, do you mind?”

“It's fine by me. I also want to continue to assist your work in any way I can.” It's possible that she just said that to please you, but you want to believe in her to speak her mind.

“There you have it.

“Then, right away. Also, it might be out of place for me to say this, but I support the two of you. I mean, I also...well, never mind.” As she says that, she does a nervous quick walk out of the door.

And so the interloper leaves with a statement you don't quite understand. “You'll support the two of us?” You repeat it and look at Koakuma. “Do you have any idea what she meant by that?”

From her expression it seems that she's just as confused as you are. “No idea. Alice is kind of weird like that, but I think she's also a good person, so she was probably just trying to be nice, maybe?”

“I guess.” Now, where have you heard that phrase before? The context was....romance of some sort? But why would....oh, right. The hugging and sleeping on a couch together. Why does everyone automatically assume that, when it's far more logical to just see that she and I are just close family.

It seems that you'll need to correct the mistaken assumption of hers. Alternatively, a devious thought crosses your mind. If you let the mistake persist, it will throw an amusing wrench into Remilia's matchmaking. Perhaps you've been living with Remilia for too long, for it seems that you've grown a liking for her forms of amusement, or perhaps instead you are finally accustomed enough to counter her. The thought does bring a small smile to your face.

“Um, Patchouli, you said that you wanted us to be equals, so...can I say something?” It seems that Koakuma has something else on her mind.

“Go ahead, and you don’t need to ask permission anymore.”

“Right. Well, the thing is, I don't dislike it, but it feels a little odd to be getting hugged so much at my age...”

Hmm. Perhaps it was a bit too much, but going with the flow, it felt like the right thing to do at the time, and it certainly matched the familial affection that you've experienced through books. Looking back, however, you have to admit the poor logic of literary mimicry, as exaggeration is a staple in fiction. It's not like Liu Bei actually cried that much; going so far as to hug her might have been too much. Perhaps you were forcing yourself because you weren’t sure how else to express yourself. It’s true that it was out of your nature, but it’s also true that you wanted some way to show her that you cared. Interpersonal relationships really are tough.

Another thought crosses your mind. Even though you said yourself that you wanted to be equals, you're still treating her like a child. It seems you still have a ways to go yourself.

“Right, I forget sometimes that you're no longer the little devil I found lurking amongst the shelves.”

“Even though I've been here for so long, I still don't feel mature like you or Lady Remilia.

Remilia being mature? That's a good joke. “If you're taking Remilia as an example, then you should know that she just acts that way. You could too, with a little practice, but I think you're fine the way you are now.”

“Maybe so. Lady Remilia said something similar during the party last year.”

“The party?” It's early Autumn now, and that was mid Winter, so it really has been almost a year now. Of course, you spent all of that time in this library doing research, so it's not like you had any need to mark the passing of days.

“Yeah, as soon as we arrived, Sakuya and Lady Remilia took me with them and accompanied me the whole night. I got to meet a lot of new people, which was a bit, well, scary, but it was also interesting. Gensokyo really is an amazing place, to have so many different youkai and humans in it.” She pauses a bit and gets a bit red faced. “Sorry, I'm talking too much about boring things aren't I?”

“Not at all, I'm interested in what you're interested in, I want to know more about you.” It's also interesting to put the pieces back together in hindsight. That was the night that you met Alice, so presumably Remilia wanted Koakuma to not get in the way. You'd be annoyed, but it seems like it was a good experience for Koa too, so it's probably fine. It seems there are some things that you can't do for Koa by yourself.

“I also wanted to spend the evening with you, Patchouli, but Lady Remilia said I should give you some space for the evening...”

Come to think of it, it doesn't seem that Koa knows about Remilia's matchmaking plan. It's not like you've been keeping it a secret from her, it just never came up. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to tell her now, but there's also no reason to do so. It's not like anything is actually going to happen between Alice and you.

“I wouldn't have minded...

[ ] ...Remilia only said that because she's trying to start some kind of romance between Alice and myself. Pretty silly, right?”
[ ] ...We're family after all.”
>> No. 61798
[x] ...Remilia only said that because she's trying to start some kind of romance between Alice and myself. Pretty silly, right?”

This seems more like something Patchy would do.
>> No. 61799
[X] ...We're family after all.”

I completely expect Alice to overhear what evef choice wins.
>> No. 61800
>>61799
You're probably right.

[X] ...We're family after all.”
>> No. 61804
But that's exactly why you should vote for the other option! It's perfectly Patchouli to detonate the drama bomb that way.
>> No. 61805
Since this is a coming back from hiatus update, and because it's right around finals, I'm going to be leaving this vote open for longer than usual. Voting is not closed until I post and say it's closed.

Good luck with finals everyone.
>> No. 61806
[x] ...Remilia only said that because she's trying to start some kind of romance between Alice and myself. Pretty silly, right?”
>> No. 61807
[x] ...Remilia only said that because she's trying to start some kind of romance between Alice and myself. Pretty silly, right?”
>> No. 61810
[x] ...We're family after all.”
>> No. 61819
[X] ...We're family after all.”
>> No. 61823
[x] ...Remilia only said that because she's trying to start some kind of romance between Alice and myself. Pretty silly, right?”
>> No. 61826
[x] We are family after all

It's good that she wants to beat Remi in her own game, but she shouldn't imitate the thing she hates about her the most (she was a victim of that habit of her -playing with people's feelings - too, no?)
>> No. 61841
Calling the voting now, finally getting around to writing. Update schedule over the holidays might be hectic, we'll have to play it by ear.
>> No. 61847
RL drama and holiday stuff is getting in the way, but writing is in the works, somewhere.

1300 words completed so far.
>> No. 61858
File 142163527117.jpg - (29.35KB, 223x310, PatchyDoll.jpg) [iqdb]
61858
“We’re family after all, it’s okay to have a little self confidence. As it so happened however, I got to meet an interesting person out of it.” Which in turn led you through quite a lot of trouble, but you don’t need to mention that, it’s not like it was her fault anyway. Regardless, in the end, it seems to have worked out. If she proves to be a useful research partner, then your troubles will have still been worth it.

“Miss Alice?”

“Correct. She has quite the aptitude for magic, so I think the opportunity to work with her will be fulfilling.”

At that point, a small knock comes from the door to announce an entrant, which you look up to see is Alice carrying in a tray of three cups of tea. She also seems to be somewhat red faced. It’s not really any of your business, but youkai can still get sick, and it’d be problematic if she were to overwork herself and cause a delay on your project. Therefore, as she puts tea on the table and sits down you decide to inquire. “Your face looks a bit flushed, are you feeling all right Alice?”

“Err, no, I’m fine, it’s nothing...I wasn’t listening or anything, I just kind of accidentally heard you talking as I was about to come in.” The implications of her possibly eavesdropping on you would be worrying, perhaps, if you were still unsure of her intentions, but from what you know of her, it either truly was an accident, or she was, in her usual awkward way, attempting to head off one misstep, in this case walking in at an inopportune time, only to step firmly into another.

“I take it then, that you now understand that you were mistaken about the nature of the relationship between Koakuma and myself?”

She lowers her head a bit further and gets a bit more red faced. It would be understandable for the cause to be embarrassment due to realizing her mistake.

“Yes, sorry for the mistake.”

“Well,I can see how you came to that conclusion, so it's fine. More importantly, however, is a bit of talk about the future of our joint research project.”

As the conversation returns to familiar territory for both of you, she becomes visibly more comfortable and relaxed, and the embarrassed blush on her face is replaced by an expression of sharp concentration. It’s a small but distinct show of determination that, as a fellow researcher, you’re glad to see.

She starts the discussion, “I have to admit, the scope of this project is larger than I’m used too, but I’m confident I can meet your expectations of me!” So she’s not only proactive, but confident too when it comes to working with doll magic. That, combined with the aptitude you’ve already noted from her, is very promising, and the magician you see in front of you now is almost a world apart from the stuttering nervous girl you’ve previously seen her as.

“I chose to work with you because I believe that you are capable and trustworthy. I look forward to accomplishing great things together.”

Perhaps it’s time to reciprocate that show of dedication. If you’re going to trust her enough to work with her, then you might as well go all the way. Keeping secrets would only hinder the project. “As I previously told you, I am working on the core of the doll, but I didn’t specify exactly what that core was. I’ve already put a great deal of work into creating a philosopher’s stone, albeit a currently incomplete one, and I believe that even in it’s current form it should work well as a power source and core for the doll.”

“I thought the philosopher’s stone was just a myth, but to think that one might be used in a doll I work on…” She’s obviously amazed, any proper magician would be. There’s no value in pride and hubris, but you can’t help but feel a satisfied smile coming over your face as your work is appreciated. “Is there some reason then why you want to use a doll instead of harnessing its power directly?”

“You are correct in that line of thought. The limitations of my body prevent me from safely harnessing it’s true potential, so I propose that a doll worked on by you would be a suitable vessel instead. My request of you is this: Make whatever changes are necessary to the existing shell, and prepare it to function in battle. This will be our trump card.”

She is understandably taken aback somewhat by that declaration, but recovers and reaffirms, “I’ll do my best!”

“If there’s anything I can do to help, just say the word.” Koakuma had been silent, as she usually is when company is around, until that moment.

“I would appreciate it if you were to assist Alice and myself by compiling and organizing our notes and assisting us in other capacities as necessary. Collaborative work is not something either of us are used to, and if this is to work out, the details of our individual efforts will need to be properly recorded, organized, and shared with the other. That is where you come in Koakuma. I look forward to your help.”

She gives a small salute. “I’ll do my best too!” Then, realizing what she did, embarrassedly lowers her hand and looks down. “Sorry, I kind of accidentally...it’s from a book.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” You were young once too, mimicking sayings that you read in books.

A knock comes from the door, followed by the appearance of the gate guard. What is she doing here?

“Lady Patchouli, there’s a letter for you that was delivered to the gate.”

“A letter? From who?”

“I don’t know. I say delivered, but it’s more like it fell from the sky and landed on my head, so I don’t know who it’s from. It has your name on it though.”

Suspicious. Very suspicious. You can’t sense any kind of magical enchantment on the letter, but there is a distinct unknown power lingering on it. It’s doesn’t seem dangerous intrinsically, but one should always be wary when facing the unknown.

Forming a protective magical barrier over your fingertips, you take it gingerly from her, break the wax seal, and scan over the contents. The author is simply stated as “A fellow lover of books.”, and the gist of it’s contents is an invitation to begin a correspondence via letters.

Basically, a pen pal then? You don’t have any practical experience with these kind of arrangements, but you have encountered them in stories. A way to correspond with another regularly without having to meet them; you can certainly see the value there. On the other hand, the fact that they wish to stay anonymous doesn’t do much to promote trust in them. There’s no return address, just a note that any reply should simply be written on the opposite side of the page. A decision on whether to respond can be put off for the moment, since you have more pressing affairs in the form of your project.

Meiling looks at Alice, “Aren’t you on the clock right now? It’s not really any concern of mine, but the head maid will be mad if she sees you like this.”

You were the one who said that it was fine, so you should reiterate that. Besides, Sakuya no doubt is aware of Remilia’s support of you and Alice, and wouldn’t give you trouble. “It’s fine. I appreciate you delivering this letter to me, but I doubt the head maid would, so I’ll repeat your warning back to you, Ms. Gate Guard.”

“Good thinking Lady Patchouli. I’ll be off then.”

Alice looks a bit uncomfortable. “I should probably be working as well, it doesn’t feel right for me to skip out on work like this.”

Well, she is a duty-minded person, perhaps you should humor her, as long as she gets the work done that you need from her. On the other hand, she is definitely the kind who would overwork herself to complete everything that was asked of her. What an inconveniently good natured person.

[ ] You need Alice full time, menial labor should be left to fairies and Marisa.
[ ] As long as the work you need from her gets done, she can do as she wishes on her off time.

Also, vote on a name for the doll if you want.
[ ] Write-ins only. I might come to regret this, but anything is valid.

The name doesn’t necessarily have to be something that Patchouli would come up with, I’ve got a few options I can use for it to be suggested from various other sources later, as elaborated on in the spoiler below, that does indeed contain minor spoilers for the next update.
Marisa will be returning with Nitori in tow in the next update, so between those two, Alice, Koa, Patchy and Remilia, we should have enough options for the source of whatever name is decided upon.
>> No. 61859
[x] As long as the work you need from her gets done, she can do as she wishes on her off time.

No need to be a control freak.

I feel that the name of the doll should come from either Patchouli or Alice, and not anyone else. I haven't come up with a suitably meaningful name, but I'm certain there's one out there.
>> No. 61861
[x] As long as the work you need from her gets done, she can do as she wishes on her off time.
>> No. 61862
[x] As long as the work you need from her gets done, she can do as she wishes on her off time.

[x] Akamai
>> No. 61863
[X] As long as the work you need from her gets done, she can do as she wishes on her off time.

[X] Leonotis

I can't have been the only one thinking it.
>> No. 61864
[X] As long as the work you need from her gets done, she can do as she wishes on her off time.

[x] Muse
Seihou train?
>> No. 61887
I'm not going to make a blog post about it, but I have a lot of things going on in my life right now. I would like to find time for this story again, but realistically my update schedule will be somewhere between highly sporadic and non-existant until the end of the school term at least.

I don't want to officially announce a hiatus, because I might find the time some weekend to throw an update or two in, but functionally that's the way it's going to be.
>> No. 61904
>>61887
Damn shame, I was quite enjoying this
Hope you find your way back here eventually; it's always sad to see another story end unfinished
>> No. 61905
>>61904
I'd like to, but things are just a little hectic in my life at the moment, and there's things I need to stabilize and sort out before I can let myself return to other projects.
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