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File 15431683027.jpg - (154.17KB, 781x718, waggy but not soggy.jpg) [iqdb]
63969 No. 63969
Kagerou crouched near the mermaid, trying to look as non-threatening as possible. Not exactly an easy feat when your nails are as sharp as claws. She brushed away the hair from her face and kept at a quieter, flatter tone in order not to upset the mermaid any further. “There’s no reason we can’t be nice to each other, right?” she started clumsily, not quite getting my advice. I held my tongue, as it were, for a while longer.

“I am nice to everyone,” the blue-haired girl mumbled and avoided eye contact. A more courageous person might have expressed their offense more starkly or, at least, been able to meet Kagerou’s gaze. But she was intimidated and unsure of what to say or do. In other words, she was unlikely to talk much and definitely wouldn’t share her secret.

“Part of being nice is trusting that the other person will also be nice,” the werewolf said, not really making a very logical case. She lacked the charisma and magnetism to get away with improvisation. Still, the way she said it was a marked improvement from earlier. She actually sounded empathetic, if not actually respectful of the mermaid’s mental state. “I’m not really good at making friends,” she confessed, making a little joke at her own expense, “and I think you just saw why. That wasn’t very endearing, was it?”

“It was scary,” the mermaid blurted out. Having said the first thought that crossed her mind, she seemed to get embarrassed by the admission and covered her mouth with her hands. She mumbled a quick apology, “sorry, that was rude of me.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Kagerou chuckled and was as unsubtle as could be, “honesty is also part of trust. And friendship.”

“Yes, we’re true friends because I freely tell you what I think all the time, wolfy” I said, because… well, I couldn’t really help myself. I knew she couldn’t say anything either or betray her emotions towards me—the mermaid would pick up on something that obvious. “Get to the point,” I told her, “you can keep lying about being an enlightened individual in front of the mirror later.”

I just didn’t want her to trip all over her own words. Without showing that she was serious, I didn’t think that the mermaid would listen to her.

It likely took her a lot of effort not to think something very rude at me. Kagerou continued to sell her pitch, “I’d like to be your friend and have something to give you as proof of that.”

“Really?” she asked, watching Kagerou’s hands carefully. Any skepticism she may have held dissipated as soon as she saw the glimmer of the dark metallic object. “Oh, what’s that?”

“It was something given to me as a sign of friendship,” Kagerou simplified, “and now I want to give it to you for the same reason.”

“I think Remilia would disagree that you’re her friend,” I said, once again being unable to help myself. Mistress and servant, sure. Badminton partners, also okay. Superior vampire and lowly, uncouth werewolf? Probably more along the lines of what she really thought. If Sakuya were around, I somehow doubted that she would tolerate someone like Kagerou so easily.

“It’s pretty cute,” the mermaid said, accepting the brooch without hesitation. She giggled, “look, it’s even got two really shiny red eyes. They’re little stones; I like the way they catch the light.”

“Yes, it is nice,” Kagerou nodded and smiled, “you can pin it to your clothes and wear it whenever you feel like it.”

“Thank you,” she said, looking more at ease. “But, um,” she quickly looked troubled again, “I don’t really have anything I can give you in return.”

“Oh, you don’t have to, it’s fine.”

Thankfully she didn’t lay it on too thick, saying something stupid like “that’s what friends are for”. That said, I felt like there was a good chance that the mermaid, with her puppy dog-like disposition, would have bit hook, line and sinker.

The mermaid reached around to a knocked over pile of flat stones. “Maybe you’d like one of these?” she asked expectently, holding out an otherwise unremarkable rock.

“It’s fine, really,” Kagerou rejected the offer diplomatically. “I’d just like to keep talking to my new friend, if that’s alright.”

“Oh, I’d be happy to,” the mermaid replied, playing with the curled ends of her hair.

Kagerou stood up, dusted off one end of the nearby bench and sat down. The mermaid wagged herself closer, only keeping the end of her tail partially submerged in water. “I’m working as the chief maid at the mansion,” Kagerou explained.

“That sounds like a lot of responsibility!” the mermaid interrupted with happy surprise, looking genuinely impressed. She supported her head on her hands and arms, having leaned forward on the rocky floor.

“It is a lot of work, yes,” the werewolf nodded, “and I have a lot of different duties.”

“So that’s why you’re wearing that cute uniform,” she said, “I almost didn’t recognize you!”

“It was dark last time as well,” Kagerou sighed, troubled by the memory, “and that reminds me—I didn’t really get your name after the… incident.”

“Wa~ka~sa~gi~hi~me” she enunciated every syllable with a lilt, not minding at all that they hadn’t introduced themselves yet.

“Ah, that’s right,” Kagerou frowned, “I’m sorry that I forgot it. You told me last time as well.”

“It’s fine!” Wakasagihime was quick to forgive, “I heard from the others that you felt really bad about everything. It’s normal to want to forgive a bad experience like that.”

“Others? Oh, yes,” the werewolf seemed to recall something, “I didn’t go to many meetings, but I did hear of a mermaid joining the group at some point.”

“I only went once myself,” the bubbly fish woman explained, “I don’t really like leaving the lake for too long. My skin gets all dry if I’m away from water.”

“Hm, I don’t like leaving my home much either,” Kagerou confessed, “though it’s for… other reasons. I’m Kagerou, by the way. Sorry for not introducing myself earlier.”

“I know your name, silly,” she shook her head happily from side to side, her fins wagging, “you told me last time as well.”

“I guess my memory isn’t very good, right?” Kagerou laughed at herself.

“It’s alright. I can do the remembering for the both of us, if you like. I don’t really talk to people that much so I try to remember as much about them as possible.”

“That’s fine with me,” Kagerou said, “but as I was saying… I’m working at the mansion. I just started, actually. And it’s part of my job to see that everything is normal. And, um, well, I was wondering what you were doing here.”

“Oh, you’re new?! That explains it!” Wakasagihime exclaimed like she had had a massive revelation. “Of course you’d be like that! You didn’t know I’d be here. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.”

“No, I shouldn’t have grabbed you in the first place and-”

“No, no no,” the mermaid sat up and waved her hand, “I thought you were scary and mean… and possibly hungry... but you were just worried about doing your job right. I understand!”

By this point any and all tension that may have been haunting their interaction had been thoroughly exorcised. The mermaid, once shy and reticent, wore her happy heart on her sleeve with a bright smile that, I had to admit, felt infectuous. It was difficult not to look at her earnest gaze and easygoing demeanor and not feel like all was right with the world. I wouldn’t call Kagerou listless by any means but, compared to Wakasagihime, she seemed about as lively as one of the statues in the garden.


Kagerou couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Wakasagihime continued, unprompted, “the previous maid lady once found me by the edge of the lake. She said she was going to make me into a good meal for her mistress and had a cold look in her eyes. I was scared to death! Luckily, the owner of the mansion isn’t as bad. She came out, looking for the maid, and saw that she was bothering me. She told her ‘stop messing around, Sakuya, we need to get going’ and the maid put away her knives right away.

“I was so thankful, that I offered to sing a song to her. She apparently really liked the offer but didn’t have time that day,” she continued to breathlessly explain, “so she came back another night and looked for me at the lake shore. It was the maid that found me, but that’s not that important, anyhow I sang to her. Even though she has those wings and scary eyes, they’re kind of like yours actually, she was nice to me. Said that I had a lovely voice and all, I remember getting all red-cheeked and she laughed and called her scary maid again. Only she wasn’t so scary once you got to know her. Said that I should come back a week later at night.

“I came back the next week and there was this statue of a mermaid, just like me, outside. Remilia, who is actually kind of cute herself when you think about it, made it just for me! She said that it was a sign of good luck to have a mermaid around and that I should feel free to come around whenever. I don’t really think that it’s nice she’s, em, so exposed but Remilia said that was just how art was and that it was beautiful. Also, she said that I could stay in this cave whenever I wanted and she put in the bench you’re on right now so that she could sit and hear me sing more. Isn’t that really nice? I really like her. Oh, and, um, she also asked me to keep an eye out for anything weird that turned up in the lake and let her know. Because we’re friends, though, I don’t mind helping out.”

“I see,” Kagerou struggled to digest the story. It wasn’t easy to follow, give the mermaid’s propensity to digress and let her voice get squeaky as she got more excited. “I suppose it’s fine that you’re here, then,” she at least got that takeaway right.

“Yes! I’m happy to be here!” she wagged her tail, splashing herself lightly with water. Thinking about it, her clothes must have been special as they didn’t seem to absorb any water. The drops simply ran off the fabric. “Would you like me to sing you a song?”

“Some other time, maybe,” Kagerou declined, “I’m just glad that we’ve cleared things up.”

“Me too, friend!”

Light conversation followed for some time afterwards. It was all very normal. Not what I would have expected an exchange between a mermaid and a werewolf to be like. Then again, I didn’t really know what to expect from either given that most people thought that they weren’t real. Putting my own prejudices aside, they talked about the lake, Kagerou’s job and the usual pleasantries that people rely upon during conversation.

Kagerou struggled to keep up with the mermaid’s positive and gushing energy. When she had had enough, she told her that it was late and that she would be turning in soon. It wasn’t that late considering that she worked for a vampire, Wakasagihime agreed that it was time to part ways, “gosh, I didn’t realize how tired I am, too. I’ll see you some other time.”

Flopping herself into the water, the mermaid disappeared quickly. She obviously was faster and more agile in the water than on land.

“I thought you were going to bother me about it,” Kagerou said to me.

“You were thinking about it, I sensed. No need to bring it up,” I told her.

“Yeah, but you’re annoying, Al.”

“Maybe, but I’m not stupid. And I can read the mood,” I said, “if you had told her that you needed one of her scales for a charm, even someone as trusting as her might take it the wrong way.”

“At least now I know where to look,” she said, blowing out the last candle that hadn’t melted down entirely yet and taking her leave.

“Go rest up,” I suggested, explaining,”you’ll probably be busy all day tomorrow. Doesn’t seem like Remilia is going to call on you again tonight.”

She agreed and returned to the mansion, enjoying the last of the cool night air while walking through the garden. Once inside, she climbed up to her room, undressed and flopped into bed. It had been a long day and I understood her desire to go to sleep right away. She was soon fast asleep, occasionally rolling over in her sleep or snoring lightly.

I went off into my own little world for the rest of the night. It was only around mid morning that I cared to check in on her again. A look of peaceful contentment was on her face. It looked like she would be out for some time yet if left to her own devices.

[] Wake her up. Remilia would be disappointed if the fairies aren’t cooking already.
[] Let her sleep in. There are more important things in life than babysitting fairies.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/26(Mon)13:30

142posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 64157
File 155604554810.jpg - (85.89KB, 725x1006, mkyuubooks.jpg) [iqdb]
The next morning saw a break in the streak of good weather. The day was damp and partially overcast; mist rolled in from the lake shore from time to time, ebbing and flowing much like the tide. By late morning, when Kagerou rolled out of bed, visibility was better and the soon was more confident about poking out through the clouds.

The maid was mostly in her element, having made a routine of inspections and chipping in to work wherever she was needed. Interactions with the fairies were blunter than normal, much to my delight. The staff, if given too much slack, was prone to inefficiency and outright shirking of work. A sullen fairy working was better than a carefree one breaking a vase. I couldn’t give myself too much credit, that said. Kagerou was simply in a crabbier mood than usual.

I held off from bringing the topic of Remilia up until early afternoon. For obvious reasons. Dogs were less fussy after a meal. That was just proven science. Acting on that empirical insight, I waited until Kagerou had finished her meal and was leaning back in her chair before engaging her. With peerless tact, I began, “Let’s do something a little different today.”

The tip of her ear twitched in a half-hearted way then flopped down in disinterest. I didn’t have to read her mind to know she could think of little but to laze around for a while. “Mrmm,” she groaned a belayed acknowledgement

“We’re often caught with our trousers down when it comes with these vampires, right?” my pitch continued.

“I’m wearing a skirt,” she interjected. It was difficult to tell whether that was meant to be a joke, a rejection of the premise or both. Maybe hostility tamped down by the weight of good food. That was likely the extent of her resistance in her current state.

“A cute one, sure,” I conceded, trying to keep on track, “point is, we’re at a disadvantage and they do whatever they want with us. Playing, lashing out, plying with drinks… doesn’t feel like we’re much in control, right?”

“Mrrrrrrmm,” that acknowledgement was more of a growl, her tongue rolling the ‘r’ sound hard.

“Yeah, I hear you. So I think you’d agree that we need to do something about it.”

“...” Kagerou folded her arms as if to say ‘you have my attention’.

My genius knew no bounds, I realized. “Knowing what you’re up against is the best way to end up victorious,” I thought back to maxims that were cliché but relevant. “Knowledge is power,” I said, “and we have a lot of it at our fingertips. Let’s take advantage of that.”

A wolf sedated by food still had sharp claws. “That sounds like it might work. But this better not be about your girlfriend,” she observed.

“It would be blissful if she were my lover,” I conceded. “But, no, that’s just a bonus. I really do think we’d do well to check out books.”

“If you say so,” she strained to raise an eyebrow, not too keen to fight about it. Then she confessed something that should have been more obvious to my enlightened mind, “I’m not too good at reading, though. Might take a while.”

A werewolf that lived by her lonesome outdoors probably hadn’t had the best access to education. There probably wasn’t anything beyond a simple school in Gensokyo and I doubted that most youkai bothered to learn to read and write. I’d keep that in mind when we encountered new people.

“Not a problem,” I said, “I’ll read for you. Open a book, flip pages every so often and I’ll take care of it. A little inefficient but it’ll work.

“If you say so,” she stifled a yawn, “might wash my face before going. Otherwise I’ll just fall asleep.”

She was slow get moving but I didn’t rush her. I didn’t want to jeopardize her mood or willingness to go along with my whim. We met a few fairies on our way to the library but Kagerou dismissed them with a quick glare, not wishing to get caught up with whatever petty thing they were worried about. Having arrived at the library, she made her way towards the center and the tables.

“If you see someone here, you should ask them for help,” I told her, knowing that the library’s catalog was too large for us to just be stumbling about. Even assuming a standard way of organizing most books, just getting our bearings around each section would eat up a silly amount of time.

“I’ll just find her and get this over with.”

“Going to sniff her out?” I couldn’t resist.

The reaction was thankfully muted, limited to a quick scowl. I didn’t plan on pushing my luck any farther so I just let her do whatever she wanted. Which, turned out, was pretty efficient. Call it a sixth sense or whatever but she was good at tracking people down. She found Patchouli near the center of the library, scanning a bookshelf with quick movements of her eyes.

“Did that book just say something?” Kagerou asked by way of greeting, meaning a dull brown tome that was in front of us that might have squeaked.

“It probably enjoys new faces,” Patchouli replied, unfazed. She continued to look at the bookshelf, only turning when she saw that what she was looking for wasn’t there. Without so much as giving a nod in our direction, she moved on to the adjacent series of books.

“Ask her for help,” I told Kagerou, “she probably doesn’t want to do small talk.”

“I was hoping you’d be kind enough to do me a favor,” Kagerou defaulted to formal politeness so mechanical it bordered on insincerity. “There is probably no one more knowledgeable about the library and its contents than you.”

“That seems likely,” Patchouli agreed.

“I’m looking for books about a specific subject.”

“Come to broaden your horizons? Commendable,” the magician said about as flatly as she normally spoke, making it debatable whether she was being sarcastic.

“Get to the point. Vampires.” I wanted to hurry things along in case the maid’s patience wore thin.

“So yes, I wish to learn more about the mistress and her sister. Her and her kind,” the last word rolled out slowly off of Kagerou’s mouth.

“I see,” Patchouli said, showing no signs that she cared why we wanted to read up on them.

“If I could just be shown a few books then...”

“She understands,” I said, “be patient.”

Kagerou shut up. It wasn’t too long before Patchouli found what she was looking for. The magician ran her index finger up a book’s spine almost whimsically before plucking it out from the bookshelf with a confident motion. From what I caught from the title it seemed to be something about astronomy. The moon or something. She started to walk away and Kagerou followed a few paces behind.

Patchouli placed the book down on a table and then gestured to a nearby trolley. The meaning was obvious and Kagerou began to push it after the magician once again started to take off. We navigated the aisles with purpose and went exactly to the right places right away. Patchouli would scarcely turn to face a shelf before plucking out a book or tome, handing it over to Kagerou who then put it on the trolley.

Even though we moved at a very relaxed pace, the magician’s knowledge of the library made short work of the task and gave us a large stack of books to read through.

“I think that’s enough,” I said, feeling that we’d be at it most of the rest of the day at this rate.

“I’ll read these ones first if you don’t mind,” Kagerou broke the silence.

“Enjoy,” Patchouli said and started to return to where she had left her own book.

We followed and Kagerou sat at a table and pulled a random book from the pile out. Patchouli sat nearby in a comfortable-looking armchair and opened her book, as if telling us that should we need help, she would be nearby.

“Do you want to try reading yourself?” I asked.

“I’ll read only if it seems interesting,” she whispered, “I’ll just turn the pages every once in a while unless you tell me to stop.”

“Alright, that works.”

The first text was a book of myths and legends. Kagerou wasn’t expecting me to be a fast reader and I had to tell her to pick up the pace when it came to turning the pages. Other than that, our arrangement went far smoother than I anticipated. Not having a body might have been an advantage as I felt… less restricted by not having eyes that needed to move around. I told her to skip a couple of chapters, only dwelling on a few illustrations that depicted the kind of folkloric creature that I was well acquainted with. Running water, garlic, sleeps in a coffin with the soil of their native land… all that stuff.

We went on to the next book soon enough. Esoteric lore. Vampires were only tangentially related. Most of the text regarded metaphysical concepts and its relevance seemed to be theories as to how something more than man, something preternatural, might with regard to their souls and place in the cosmos. I was intrigued by the implications. Kagerou, on the other hand, was incredibly bored by the text, flipping pages absentmindedly. Surely Patchouli must have expected something so dense and indirect to put her off?

I moved on after maybe a half hour, wishing I could read more but trying to keep my partner’s goodwill in place. We trudged on with this and that for some time more.

There was one book that caught Kagerou’s imagination. For all the wrong reasons. It was a love story featuring both vampires and werewolves and a love triangle with a human. The educational value was nil but my objections were drowned out by her insistence that she “just wanted to get to the end of the chapter.”

It took her too long to get away from the waste of time. She wasn’t lying about not being a strong reader either—she worked slowly down the page, stopping at unexpected characters to read then carefully, mouthing some of the more tricky words silently. She set aside the book even after all my nagging, intending to read it on her own time later. When she looked around again, Patchouli had been staring at her quietly with a slight smile on her lips. It wasn’t a look of happiness for showing something that they would enjoy. No, it was a mischievous apparition meant for someone else.

I coaxed the werewolf into reading one last thing before she called it quits. That was a stroke of good luck. While the book was clearly transcribed oral history, it featured a few “facts” that weren’t really common knowledge. It was told through a series of clearly autobigoraphical short stories. The very personal, often pornographic level of detail during these encounters convinced me that it was a book, in fact, written by a vampire. It wasn’t all just about blood lust. Seduction, manipulation and more seemed hardwired into their makeup. Getting others to fall for them was an orgasmic release. That would explain a lot about our employer. Though less about her sibling.

Kagerou wasn’t too amused, though the explicit descriptions of feelings when it came to feeding were titillating. If I had to extrapolate, I’d say that Remilia was bored. She lacked that feeling of satisfaction that came from conquest. Perhaps she had been spurned recently. Not by Kagerou, mind, but from someone she cared about.

The almost innocent cruelty described in once chapter reminded me of someone else. Fairies would be right to avoid all of that. Maybe it had been a mistake to reveal myself as I probably was a target of interest now. If only I had a body—it’d be easier to repel her. I was sure she’d come calling on Kagerou sometime soon. It was instinct.

Or maybe not. It was just one book. We hadn’t even made it halfway through the stack.

“Let’s take a break, Al,” Kagerou mumbled, tired of turning pages for me.

“Fine. We’ve learned enough for now.”

Patchouli had poured herself a cup of tea while we were reading. She savored her long sips, turning her attention to the book she was reading every now and again. I felt calm watching her, like just reading and sitting around was something that I loved to do in the past.

“Hey, wolfy,” I started, unable to help myself.

“Yes?” Kagerou frowned in a display of prescience.


“...ugh,” her displeasure wasn’t a ‘no’. I’d run with that.

[] Have a discussion about the books read and how they tied in to events here.
[] Try to get a more personalized opinion regarding these vampires from her.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2019/04/25(Thu)12:00

>> No. 64158
>intending to read it on her own time later
inb4 Kagerou later expects Remilia to start sparkling.

[x] Try to get a more personalized opinion regarding these vampires from her.

Even an opinion from Patchouli would be useful considering how long she's known Remilia.
>> No. 64159
[x] Try to get a more personalized opinion regarding these vampires from her.
Part of me wants to say she's either not that interested in gossiping about her employer(s), but it's worth a gamble.
>> No. 64160
[x] Try to get a more personalized opinion regarding these vampires from her.
>> No. 64161
[X] Have a discussion about the books read and how they tied in to events here.

Personal opinions might muddle the facts we're attempting to find out here. better to keep our investigation on vampire mating habits focused.
>> No. 64162
[X] Try to get a more personalized opinion regarding these vampires from her.

Might as well get more info since we're investigating.
>> No. 64163
File 155668317867.jpg - (772.31KB, 1102x1462, dress up.jpg) [iqdb]
I don't mean to be so quiet after the timer ends as it's usually my intention to update within the day. When that doesn't pan out I don't usually have a solid ETA and I'm unsure of what, if anything, to say here. Don't want to over or underestimate or get hopes up.

I'm striving for "soon" though, as in probably less than 24 hours, for whatever that's worth. So wait warmly.
>> No. 64164
File 155673503339.jpg - (96.55KB, 868x1228, a witch with books.jpg) [iqdb]
Kagerou approached Patchouli warily, making sure her every step was silent and swift. It wasn’t clear if she fancied herself prey or predator, the ambiguity of her body language came off as overall awkward. The magician didn’t react to the werewolf’s presence at all, looking utterly absorbed by whatever it was she was reading.

“Ahem,” Kagerou cleared her throat as one would expect. She still had ways to go on mastering the subtleties of the job.

“...yes?” Patchouli asked, not bothering to look away from her text.

“I’d like to ask you something,” the werewolf said, after some prodding from me.

“Don’t ask to ask, just ask.”

“Ah, yes,” Kagerou frowned, not taking kindly to being talked down to, “it’s about Lady Remilia.”

“Learned something interesting in the books I gave you?” Patchouli said, casually flipping a page. I strained to make out the words on the spine of the book. Something about ‘love through the ages’? That didn’t sound right. I wasn’t sure what language the words were in, only that I could sort of understand them if I made an effort.

“Behave,” I warned the maid, “she’s just going to have fun at your expense if you don’t stay on topic.”

The unsolicited advice didn’t jive well with her. Behind the polite smile that she showed the magician were the beginnings of a toothy scowl. “I actually wanted to know what you thought about her.”

“She’s been my friend for a long time,” Patchouli said, putting down the book and resting it against her chest. She looked up at Kagerou with clear, unwavering eyes, showing off a quiet sort of sincerity. It was for the best that I wasn’t the one doing the talking as I’d had found myself entranced by her dignified aura.

“I’m trying to figure out why she does some of the things she does,” Kagerou said cautiously but firmly. She wasn’t intimidated by the beautiful witch but she also had no reason to be more forceful.

“Then you should ask her,” Patchouli replied flatly.

“She can be difficult. It’s hard to know what she’s really feeling sometimes.”

“Then what do you expect from me?”

“I don’t know… insight?” Kagerou sighed. Without asking she pulled up a nearby chair and sat next to her, meeting the steady purple gaze with a firm one of her own. “I want to make sure that while I’m working here, I do things as efficiently as possible, without misunderstandings.”

“Misunderstandings are inevitable,” she offered, verging on the philosophical, “souls are not things that tend to mix freely.”

“Um, sure,” Kagerou shrugged, not caring to contest the point, “still, there’s things you’ve probably observed that can be helpful.”

“Yes, I have,” Patchouli nodded and took a final sip from her cup. She then offered a few observations of her own. “You do not seem to trust in your instincts much. A profound lack of self-confidence. Tempered by a desire for self-improvement. A curious youkai in that sense. It is why I’ve asked you to gather those ingredients for me.”

“...as a vehicle for self-improvement?” I asked. I got no answer.

“I’d still like to know about her, not me,” Kagerou strained to be polite. Though she wouldn’t admit it, I knew it was out of respect for me. What a good girl.

“I could say things but it would mean nothing unless you’re capable of understanding,” she said. Though it was a harsh statement at face value, I didn’t think it was meant to be condescending. “Keep true and one way or another you will have your answer,” she continued.

“Mmm, I don’t get what you’re saying,” Kagerou sighed, deciding it was a bad idea to ever talk to her.

“I think I might,” I told her.

“What about Flandre, then?” the maid brought up, unprompted.

“Honesty is always easier to deal with,” Patchouli ventured, “if she likes you, she will make it plain.”

“Man, I like her,” I sighed, wishing that Patchouli knew how I felt.

“...the bottom line here is that I should treat people like I always do, isn’t it?” It was Kagerou’s turn to sigh yet again. Her ears drooped down as she internalized that there would be no quick answers.

“May I tug at your tail?” the magician asked out of the blue.

“What? No!” Kagerou yipped, taking a indignant step back away from her.

“A fairly common response to being asked something uncomfortable,” Patchouli nodded, showing no interest on actually going through with the act. She picked up her book again, looked at the page and then closed it for good, choosing to place it on a small nearby table. Looking directly at her without flinching, Patchouli made another brazen claim, “if I were to comfort you and embrace you, I would not even need to ask. You would trust me enough to handle your sensitive areas with deftness.”


“Would you like me to embrace you?” she asked as her eyes narrowed. It took a few seconds but a smirk formed on her lips, one that unambiguously showed she was taking the piss out of the werewolf.

“...I don’t know why he likes you so much,” Kagerou muttered barely audibly, resentful of being the target of teasing.

“A kiss, then?” Patchouli did one better, offering with the same inscrutable gaze.

“...I’d die for that offer,” I said.

“You know, she offered more than that,” Kagerou said, revealing something that maybe she had been better off keeping to herself.

“There is nothing shameful about seeking companionship,” Patchouli divined the circumstances. “A werewolf may be more unusual than normal but that is a matter for adults to decide.”

“So am I your type?” Kagerou asked, making an odd attempt to force Patchouli to be on the back foot.

The magician was far too stoic to let herself be tripped up by something so banal. “No,” she countered, “and don’t think it is because of your particular affliction. Rubbing a hand over the hair of a lover is a good feeling. I simply prefer… ah, perhaps, this is the type of thing best said over drinks late at night.”

“How unexpectedly girlish of you,” Kagerou shrugged.

“Absolutely lovely, you mean,” I proffered the correct opinion.

Patchouli offered a silent and ambiguous smile in response. A perfect Mona Lisa. We weren’t going to get a clearer answer on Remilia from her anytime soon. Somehow that felt fine. I wondered if I could indulge myself just a little more.

[] Persuade Kagerou to use the rare opportunity to get to know her better.
[] She had gotten enough. Let the maid do as she pleased.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2019/05/03(Fri)12:20


Hey guys, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask something about the story. Mainly, how you feel about the pace. I’ve been slowing down things a bit partly because of lack of time to execute the plot as well as I’d like and partly because my approach to stories is generally laid back and I prefer to soak in the characters, locations and dynamics more. This does mean that things may drag and, while I’m not really doing filler, getting towards a conclusion takes longer.

So I’d like to know how you feel about all this and if you’d rather I’d skew more towards one thing or the other. It wouldn’t affect update frequency either end, I think, so don’t worry about that. If you have any other thoughts about the story and my writing, I’d also like to hear them. Doesn’t matter if it’s criticism, praise or just an observation (ie about how choices are worded). I’d like the feedback as it gives me more to work with going forward.
>> No. 64165
[x] Persuade Kagerou to use the rare opportunity to get to know her better.

I'm loving the pacing so far, these slow burn stories that focus on characters are exactly what I love. My only worry is that the story will die before it ends.

Also Kagerou is cute
>> No. 64166
[X] Persuade Kagerou to use the rare opportunity to get to know her better.

I'd prefer if you kept the pace slower. I like to take my time thinking about character motivations and stuff before voting. I also enjoy playing devil's advocate against bandwagons, and slower updates kinda helps facilitate that.
>> No. 64167
[x] Persuade Kagerou to use the rare opportunity to get to know her better.
I only see one choice, etc.

I don't think there's a lot I could say that the other anons haven't. Character dynamics and setting are both my jam, and they do take time to get lined up. You'll get no complaints from me on that end.

If there was any criticism to offer, I guess it'd be that sometimes it feels like the perspective character could just as well have been Kagerou. Mind, I'm not saying I dislike Al. He/she/they/Al plays his (just gonna stick with male pronouns) role by offering insight that'd be harder for the woofer to glean. Still, sometimes it feels like he's there to do little more than make the odd joke while Kagerou deals with somebody. It's hard to put my finger on, honestly. Maybe knowing more about Al's specific circumstances would put some of it in perspective.
>> No. 64168
[x] She had gotten enough. Let the maid do as she pleased.

Really liking the story so far. Great interactions between the characters, has a lighthearted atmosphere and still maintains a sense of mystery regarding the nature of Al.

I wouldn't mind you keeping a slower pace as long as there is at least some progression in an update. While I understand that following an overall plot may not be the point of this story, it would still be nice to see Kagerou and Al focus on a particular goal for the day/week. It feels as though Kagerou is just bounced all over the place with everything thrown at them. We've checked two items off the list for Patchouli's request and haven't gone back to it for a while, for instance.

Also, man Kagerou is a punching bag for every other character. It feels like whatever choice we make, she won't be happy with it. Not a complaint, just a comment.
>> No. 64169
[X] Persuade Kagerou to use the rare opportunity to get to know her better.

I see no real reason not to.
Story pacing feels alright to me. I don't have any issues with taking things slow and focusing on world-building.
>> No. 64170
[X] She had gotten enough. Let the maid do as she pleased.
Our bond with her is strained enough as is, no reason to push her when there's no real benefit. Well, no, more Patches is a strong benefit, but not an obligation.

As for the pacing, I read it for the interaction, so I don't mind slow and deliberate, but seeing things change is when I have the most fun so either way is fine.
>> No. 64171
File 155685028618.jpg - (226.67KB, 1200x1550, such fright much howl.jpg) [iqdb]
Thank you for the feedback so far. It's always great to hear from the readers and to try to understand what they're thinking and feeling. I'm glad that I haven't cocked things up thus far going from the general comments. I'm always worried that I might messing up because things that might be obvious to me might not be obvious to you and vice versa.

For future reference: feel free to say whatever is on your mind at any time. I do read every post and every comment. Not to mention, that the main thing that's kept me around THP over the years is the relationship between reader and writer in stories.

I'm going to answer a few more specific points while trying not to blather on too much. Don't take it personally if I don't answer each and every thing you guys have said otherwise this post would be a wall of text.

>My only worry is that the story will die before it ends.
Don't worry about that. So long as there's a healthy amount of voters and activity, I'll keep on writing. It's not a hard number and I'm not too hung up on a slow week or two.

I love playing devil's advocate as well. Don't worry about the update rate increasing or slowing too much though—I'll always try to give people time to vote and I'll write whenever I can.

>sometimes it feels like the perspective character could just as well have been Kagerou
I hear you and agree to an extent. It certainly is weird and sometimes incongruous. There's both good story and meta reasons why you're not just in control of Kagerou directly. I hope to make that clearer as the story goes on.

I haven't done as good of a job on execution as I would have liked when I was planning this story. Not to excuse it but there have been a lot of balls and story threads that I've had to juggle and introduce without overwhelming the reader. The SDM residents (Flan only just showed up and that required a few other things to happen first), some of Al's connections to things outside of being a stone, what the day-to-day work of being head maid was like and some of Kagerou's own motivations. Among a few other things. With a lot of things established, it probably won't be as ping-pong-y in the (immediate) future.

>It feels like whatever choice we make, she won't be happy with it
There's so much I want to say here that it's probably best that I keep back for now. Some of it directly ties in with what the other poster was saying about Al. But, well, werewolves are mysterious creatures and understanding their nature and harnessing their potential is well worth it.
>> No. 64172
File 155690742876.jpg - (274.57KB, 450x600, inquiring minds want to know.jpg) [iqdb]
“She’s being playful,” I told my hairy companion. Fairly obvious assessment if you were a magician connoisseur like myself. Kagerou, with her often impulsive judgments, could easily have mistaken the previous exchange for aloofness or, worse, condescension. I was already stretching her patience thin so it was important that I put in the work to keep her from turning fluffy tail and bolting.

Kagerou wavered. The tip of her ears twitched nearly imperceptibly, a sign that I had learned to keep an eye out for. She would rather go back to work and deal with fairies.

“It’s a chance to know more about your work environment and those in it,” I explained and immediately regretted. Appealing to her work ethic wasn’t the right call to make. No, I had to be more personal. “More importantly, it’s not every day you find a witch in a good mood. What’s the harm in getting to know her? Ask her a few things, I promise she won’t bite.”

“...” the maid wasn’t entirely convinced.

Patchouli was the master of silent pauses. She didn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable with the fact that Kagerou was seemingly spacing out nearby. Another type of person might have cleared her lovely throat or whiled away the time by picking up her book again. The magician seemed to be waiting to see what the werewolf would do without being too obvious or putting on the pressure.

“Do it for me? Please?” I had gone from persuasion to begging. And then to the usual bargaining, adding, “I promise to leave you alone any one time in the future if you do this. No preconditions or anything. I swear it.”

It wasn’t the most sound offer but I didn’t really have much else to offer without being able to interact with the rest of the world. Imaginary fingers crossed.

There was a developing answer from the maid. She curled her lips into a cheeky smile, one that knew full well how much grief she could cause me. It was a look commonly found in pets that knew how to wrangle treats from their owners. Little respect, full indulgence. At her mercy.

“How have you slept?” Patchouli proved the existence of a benevolent supreme deity with her timely intervention.

The sudden question took Kagerou aback. She blurted the first thing that came to mind, “Um, fine I guess?

“The people of this land are more used to straw than down, as is favored here,” she stated. I didn’t know where she was going with the conversation or what brought it on.

“I can sleep just about anywhere,” Kagerou admitted, “but I guess those beds are pretty soft.”

It took a whole lot of willpower not to make a comment about her snoring. Or that she was often splayed out indecently over the whole bed, taking up way more space than was proper. It was for the sake of conversation. For the sake of keeping her happy.

“Adaptable, eh?” Patchouli nodded, looking like a schoolmarm pleased with one of her students.

“Ask about her, ask about her,” I tried not to be too annoying.

“Oh, um, yes. How about you? Do you sleep well?” she asked. Not exactly what I meant. It didn’t matter if the magician had started it—it was still a weird followup question.

“Some nights better than others,” Patchouli said. “there are restless periods but the proper tea can go a long way in mollifying the worst of it.”

“Come to think of it, where is your room?” Kagerou asked. “I haven’t been around to clean nor have any of the fairies said anything.”

“I prefer it remain that way,” the magician stated flatly. She raised a hand to her mouth and coughed lightly before offering more of an explanation, “it is not a safe place for anyone who doesn’t know the first thing about magic.”

“I bet there’s all sorts of defensive wards and magical traps. Ooh, I know, maybe there’s cursed items. The sort of stuff that if you pick up you turn to stone because you’re not wearing a red carnation on your sleeve.” I just sort of vomited out what first came to mind. Probably smelled like magical poultices and exotic materials.

“I have a small workshop where I do the more hazardous work,” Patchouli said, as if reading my mind, “I suppose that the real danger is reading one of my special books I’ve left open. Trouble finds those who are eager to skip all the proper steps.”

Now that definitely sounded like something that was directed towards me. At least to the me in the story I told Flan about.

Kagerou seemed to buy the explanation. “I’ll make sure never to barge in,” she said, “but I have to admit that I am more curious about seeing your room now.”

“The brash wolf seeks new thrills?” she asked, clearly tickled by that line of thinking. A light smile formed on her lips, the sort one would get from imaging a clever scene in a novel.

“No, nothing like that,” Kagerou said, “I’m just wondering about your personal items. If you spend time in front of a mirror brushing your hair, perfuming yourself so as to not stink of weird magic stuff, or even if you have cute pajamas that you wear when you’re alone.”

Bless her lupine heart! Someone deserved a head pat and a treat. At minimum, a scratch behind the ears. Hell, I would kiss her if I could. She was asking all that for my benefit and my insatiable curiosity about Patchouli. I waited with bated breath for the answer.

“Perhaps I do,” Patchouli acted coy, “though I am not a particularly vain person. So I think. It is much more important to me to find something interesting to ponder about or a good book to read. I do not reject the types of things you have mentioned but they are secondary to my existence.”

“I guess I can see that,” Kagerou shrugged, “I bet you take care of most of the basics with magic, right? Only makes sense.”

“Magic is not something used on the slightest of whims. It is a tool with characteristics, limitations and a nature that can be understood. There is a lot of hard work and preparation that is required,” she gave a quick, stinging lesson to Kagerou.

The maid didn’t seem to mind. She didn’t really care about magic much in the first place. “Probably out of the question for me to learn anything, huh?”

“Yes,” Patchouli said with conviction.

“Just checking!” Kagerou laughed, “I know someone who would kill to learn just the tiniest of bits about your magic, so it’s funny to imagine them being jealous of me learning even just a tiny bit of it.”

“Even just shining a light or providing an infusion of life to a plant is no easy task,” she commented, looking at an empty seat at a nearby table, like someone else was supposed to be there.

“Oh yes, I should offer to make you tea, shouldn’t I?” Kagerou remembered she was a maid all of a sudden. Her more casual attitude contrasted to her earlier wary state. In her mind it was possible that she decided that Patchouli wasn’t a bad person, after all, just eccentric. Whether she would ever come to fully appreciate her marvelous nature was harder to tell. All I could say was that it maybe wouldn’t be such a struggle to get her to see her in the future. That was a solid win for me.

“No need,” Patchouli gripped her book tightly and stood up, “I’ll be taking a brief rest and will retire to my private apartments for the time being.”

“Alright then, thank you for your time,” the dutiful maid bowed politely but not formally in a spontaneous act.

“Do feel free to read more,” the magician pointed her chin at the pile we had left behind, “take them to your room if you like.”

“I might do that,” Kagerou said, clearly thinking only of the trashy book she was reading earlier. I’d have to remind her to take the others.

Patchouli looked up at the far-off ceiling, as if expecting something to be up there. Then she turned again to Kagerou and said, “Be on the lookout for what I’ve asked you to collect during your next excursion. There should be two of the items in the vicinity.”

“Huh?” Kagerou was dumbfounded. “I’m going somewhere?”

It seemed like she wasn’t done teasing. Looking over her shoulder, a self-assured smile was cast over her face. “Use your instincts and be a brave wolf. Ask your patron or her sister outright about the disturbance in the aether. The rest will be made clear to you immediately.”

Kagerou was struck even dumber. Patchouli used the opportunity to wish a polite farewell and then walked away as if all were right in the world. The maid returned to the books and picked up part of the pile. When her silence was finally broken, she asked incredulously, “do you really like women like that?”

“She is incredibly cool and cute, so, um, yeah?” I answered. She still had a ways to go; her heart and third eye needed to be open to the beauty and truth before her. “Thanks, by the way,” I said, “for everything.”

“We’re partners, right?” she shrugged, downplaying her actions, “only normal for me to spoil you a bit.”

“Hah, true enough.”

“Besides, you owe me one now,” she winked and laughed. No such thing as a free lunch, huh. Service with a smile wasn’t too bad, I had to admit.

“Yeah, I hear you. Want me to spell out what she meant just now?” I asked.

“Don’t even think this is the favor. ‘No preconditions’, remember? I get to choose.”

“Wouldn’t dream of cheating you of that,” I grumbled, secretly in a good mood. “This is just part of the job, helping you do your duties as well as you can.”

“Okay, good, so long as we’re in agreement,” she nodded triumphantly before heading back to her room.

There was no doubt that she’d be reading on her own time later that night, turning page after page of insipid slop and enjoying it all the same. I looked forward to spacing out and having some ‘me’ time.

It was my choice to make how to approach my sweet little vampiric mistress’ foul mood. Ask her directly, peek into her heart a bit and (probably) have to deal with some misplaced emotions. Fast, clean and bearable if one is prepared beforehand. Would still take some bravery. The alternative was to ask Flan, who probably didn’t know specifics but would know her sister well enough to hazard a guess. The downside of that was that I got the feeling that she’d want to get involved more directly. Which could be a whole different category of unpredictability. Either way, we’d have our answer and would apparently know where to go for our upcoming and inevitable trip.

[] Go directly to the turbulent source to obtain a clear answer.
[] Risk entanglements, a less accurate answer and the unknown to avoid moodiness.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2019/05/04(Sat)22:50

>> No. 64173
[x] Go directly to the turbulent source to obtain a clear answer.

On one hand I want to see more Flan, but on the other hand she's a bit of a wild card. Even the mere idea of inviting her to dinner was enough to enrage Remilia. I'd say we take it up to her directly rather than rely on a third party.
>> No. 64175
[X] Risk entanglements, a less accurate answer and the unknown to avoid moodiness.

One one hand I want to see more Remi, but on the other hand she's a bit of a closed book. Evidently she's keen on playing some kind of game to amuse herself rather than discuss her concerns directly. Getting some proverbial "ammo" from Flan can help us defuse the situation by allowing us to dance along to whatever tune Remi is trying to sing.
>> No. 64176
[x] Risk entanglements, a less accurate answer and the unknown to avoid moodiness.
>> No. 64177
[x] Go directly to the turbulent source to obtain a clear answer.
As much as I want to go for the gambling option, ripping the band-aid off seems like the better course. Just take the sting and get it over with.
>> No. 64178
[x] Go directly to the turbulent source to obtain a clear answer.

Get in there.
>> No. 64179
[x] Go directly to the turbulent source to obtain a clear answer.
>> No. 64180
[X] Go directly to the turbulent source to obtain a clear answer.

Guess we shouldn't involve Flan just yet.
>> No. 64181
There was still some before Remilia would be up and about. Kagerou evidently felt refreshed after our study break and tended to her duties with more zeal than usual. The fairy maids had less of a chance to slack off as my partner cracked the proverbial whip more than once. Weeds in the garden? Thoroughly eradicated. Fancy vampire attire stained with (hopefully) wine? Scrubbed clean. Fairies arguing over who nicked the last slice of cake? Foreheads flicked. In short, more work got done than was usual.

I harbored no illusions that the boost in efficiency would only last as long as Kagerou was around to bully the flighty fairies. I was supportive of the chief maid’s actions and praised her for doing a good job. It wasn’t that often that we were of the same mind so I enjoyed it while it lasted. Plus, if I were to be brutally honest, I had ulterior motives for making sure she was in a good mood and felt at the top of her game. She wasn’t going to like what I had to say later.

Once the sun was down and she took her next break, I made my move. “We sure got a whole lot done today, don’t you think?”

“Somehow,” she agreed.

“Ready for what comes next?” I felt that dancing around the subject would just annoy her.

“You mean what your crush said?” she guessed correctly, “yeah, I’ve been thinking about that all afternoon.”

“Any thoughts?” I asked, just in case I didn’t have to sell her on it.

“Not really, other than it probably means that I have to go do something annoying again.”

“You’re taking this much better than I expected.”

Kagerou sighed and looked out a nearby window—from our vantage point in a corridor we could just barely make out the lake as a dark mass beyond the rear of the mansion. The mist had disappeared for good. She caught a partial reflection of herself in the glass, stared at her uniform and said, “It’s part of the job. Ignoring it would maybe make it worse later. I guess I never figured I’d be a babysitter when Sakuya explained things.”

“We’ve got to go see Remilia again,” I told her. “Quickest way to get a straight answer.”

“I know it is,” she shrugged, “I’m not the type to get answers from a book.”

“Think you can behave this time around? I know it’s hard...”

“I’ll do my best,” she said.

“That’s all I ask.”

We had agreed to wait until after Remilia ate to bring the subject up, figuring that a vampire on a full stomach was bound to be less cranky. There was no mention of the unpleasantness from either us or Remilia. Still, she looked sullen and ate quietly, only bothering to speak to give out orders. Not the most promising start.

After clearing the table and retiring to the drawing room, we followed and made our move. “Excuse me, Remilia?” Kagerou started meekly, “may we talk for a moment?”

“Save your apologies,” she said dismissively, waving her hand at us. She squatted down at one of her tables to look at her miniatures at eye level, adding, “I’ll call for you if I need your services later.”

“I wish to discuss something else,” Kagerou insisted, maintaining a dignified politeness for the moment. Good job, wolfy.

“I’m not in the mood for conversation,” Remilia said, not bothering to even look at Kagerou while she spoke.

“Be sensitive but direct,” I advised.

“Well, milady,” Kagerou tried hard to sell herself as the perfect elegant maid, “I am concerned about just that. Your mood isn’t what it usually is.”

“Yes and what of it?” Remilia was in a snit. She attempted to keep her composure by turning at another one of her models and hiding her face but I could see that we had touched a nerve as predicted.

Aether,” I said, immediately clarifying, “it’s in the air. Coloring everything she does. She needs to clear it.”

“I want to clear the air, help you feel better if I can,” Kagerou summarized clumsily.

“I’m not in the mood for a shag,” Remilia surprised us by saying something informal and vulgar. Kagerou was amused by her choice of word and I could tell she was having a hard time trying not to smirk.

“Focus,” I cautioned.

Kagerou took a deep breath and took a few steps closer to the vampire, standing to the edge of her field of view. “There is something that has been upsetting you and I wish to do something about it. I can’t do anything if you’re not honest with me.”

“I believe I’ve already told you not to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong, wolf.”

Milady”, she repeated the term again, still deferential but sharper rolling off her tongue, “I don’t want to overstep my boundaries if I can avoid it. I won’t insist on other subjects. But I see you as distressed and if there’s anything at all I can do, then I need to do it. It’s my duty.”

“Duty is it?” Remilia bolted up, nearly knocking over a figurine in her haste. She spun around to face Kagerou, her red eyes glowing with dangerous excitement. A chill went down my imaginary spine. “You’re a stand-in, someone with no ties to this place, hired to do the bare minimum until things return to order. A distraction!” she harangued, “a curiosity that’s meant to satisfy my whims! Your only duty is to amuse me. And you are not amusing me.”

Those last few words were like heated daggers with malicious intent behind them. To her credit, Kagerou did not flinch. Even though the vampire was worked up enough to spray spittle all over her uniform. It wasn’t that she was stoic or anything like it—I could feel emotions welling up inside of Kagerou—but she really was trying to keep herself together.

“We knew she might be like this, hang in there.” I cheered her on.

“I have a contract that says something different,” Kagerou countered, “but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that milady addresses the root of her problem. If I am really just here to amuse you, then let me amuse you by trying. Failure is probably what you would expect from a werewolf, anyhow, so there’s nothing to lose.”

Her anger still at a boil, Remilia only half-listened to reason, snapping, “trying at something you don’t understand will only make things worse. I’ve told that to Sakuya a million times and still she ventures out and tries. For what?”

“Is this about Sakuya then?”

“No!” Remilia shook her fist at Kagerou. It would have been funny if the murderous intent in her eyes didn’t feel so overwhelming. She chided, “Werewolves must really be a thick lot. You don’t understand at all.”

“Help me understand.”

“Enough of this!” Remilia swept her hand in a dramatic fashion and most of the light in the room was extinguished. Her eyes smoldered, glowing with with a most unnatural light. Though she was far shorter than Kagerou she seemed to loom large, a presence made intense by the energy she gave off and how the shadows mixed with her form. Even if I had a body, I didn’t think I could have run. I would have been anchored to the spot, overcome with fear.

“Trust your instincts,” I echoed Patchouli’s words, “be brave.”

I don’t think any of us expected what came next. The werewolf never broke eye contact and took a step closer. She grabbed the vampire by the collar and her other hand snapped faster than the blink of an eye.

“You hit me!” Remilia cried out, staggering back onto the table behind. She scrambled back on her feet in shock.

“Maybe if I gave something you something else to complain about you might feel better,” Kagerou said. She was angry as well but she channeled her feelings into purpose.

“You bitch! D-do you think I’m that petty?!” Remilia stuttered and rubbed her stung cheek with a mix of outrage and surprise.

Kagerou was relentless and did the unimaginable again. Another slap followed her mistress’ words.

“You hit me twice!” Remilia just couldn’t believe it, “even my father has never hit me before!”

“Milady needed to be reminded that she’s not always without fault,” Kagerou explained with a calm voice. Her heart was a jumbled mess of emotion barely kept in check by perhaps only because the reality of what she just did had not sunk in yet. The hand she had used to strike Remilia was hidden behind her back and shook uncontrollably.

“...” Remilia was at a loss for words. That made two of us. Even Kagerou didn’t seem to know what to do next. Oddly enough, the intense rage the vampire had felt didn’t immediately follow in retaliation. The corner of the eye on the side of her face that was struck watered—though I was unsure if out of pain, emotion or both. We may have well been incredibly close to death.

I struggled to think of what to tell Kagerou she should do. I was also shook.

[] Deescalate with a hug and apology for the extreme methods. Hopefully she better understands Kagerou’s caring feelings and sense of duty.
[] Refrain from anything that her pride may interpret as patronizing. Show her the firmness and cool necessary that would see her whims executed faithfully.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2019/05/06(Mon)13:30

>> No. 64182
[X] Refrain from anything that her pride may interpret as patronizing. Show her the firmness and cool necessary that would see her whims executed faithfully.
Definitely. A hug would definitely be patronizing here.
>> No. 64183
[X] Refrain from anything that her pride may interpret as patronizing. Show her the firmness and cool necessary that would see her whims executed faithfully.
>> No. 64184
[x] Refrain from anything that her pride may interpret as patronizing. Show her the firmness and cool necessary that would see her whims executed faithfully.
>> No. 64185
[x] Deescalate with a hug and apology for the extreme methods. Hopefully she better understands Kagerou’s caring feelings and sense of duty.

I think a simple show of affection would be better. Sure, she expects complete professionalism and elegance from her workers but that likely means that no one is able to give her any sort of comfort or care. This will catch her completely off guard.
>> No. 64187
[x] Deescalate with a hug and apology for the extreme methods. Hopefully she better understands Kagerou’s caring feelings and sense of duty.

Calm, cool, and collected is Sakuya's thing.
>> No. 64188
[X] Refrain from anything that her pride may interpret as patronizing. Show her the firmness and cool necessary that would see her whims executed faithfully.

Oh fuck
>> No. 64189
[X] Deescalate with a hug and apology for the extreme methods. Hopefully she better understands Kagerou’s caring feelings and sense of duty.

Wow, that was, uh, direct indeed. Well, since we did that...

Honestly torn about this one, but anons before me made good points about calm and professional being more Sakuya's thing than Kagerou's.
>> No. 64190
>Calm, cool, and collected is Sakuya's thing.
Hmm, mmmrrmm

I think that's about true, sure enough. Fuck it, I'll go with the risk
>>64182 here, changing vote to
[x] Deescalate with a hug and apology for the extreme methods. Hopefully she better understands Kagerou’s caring feelings and sense of duty.
>> No. 64191
File 155744332626.png - (490.48KB, 750x650, single fanged vampire.png) [iqdb]
Sorry, I've been dealing with a lot of unpleasantness the last couple of days. I'll try to have an update out for tomorrow.
>> No. 64192
File 155796082720.jpg - (1.76MB, 2880x4176, melancholia on a stage.jpg) [iqdb]
The nature of my bond with Kagerou remained a mystery. We joked, sparred, and commiserated among other things regularly. I couldn’t begin to explain why we understood one another at certain times and at other times we were completely at odds. One thing was clear, however: no words were needed at the moment.

Uncertainty and reprehension transformed into something cautious, something optimistic and gentler. There was no time for debate or, really, for anything that approached rationality. The monstrous vampire was intimidating, certainly. Her eyes continued to bare down with unflinching intensity at us.

And yet.

There was also something else there; disguised by outrage and other explosive emotions. Remilia wasn’t so tough. She lashed out because she was uncertain, because she was in pain. It was a gut feeling. One that my fluffy companion and I shared. This belief was hope and a counterpoint to the feeling that our lives might come to a gruesome end that night.

So she moved, determined but gently, towards the vampire. It was a motion made so as to avoid provoking a skittish wild animal to bolt. By the time the distance between them had vanished, it was too late for Remilia to step back or to attack—she was firmly embraced by the werewolf.

“I’m sorry,” Kagerou said, her voice a barely audible whisper. She held the vampire tight, coupling the latter’s small frame close as if she were an upset child. Whatever differences in status between master and servant may have previously existed were entirely erased in the heartfelt moment.

“...guh!” Remilia made an unintelligible noise, muffled by the fact that her face was buried in Kagerou’s shoulder and chest. She didn’t struggle against the hug but still seemed surprised by the turn of events. Her own shoulders trembled for a moment and something warm could be felt staining the maid’s uniform.

“I didn’t mean to overstep my bounds...” Kagerou tried to explain before checking herself. She realized that it wasn’t really a moment for words as she continued to hold the deflated vampire close. After a few more wordless moments she let go and offered Remilia a smile, adding, “would you like me to prepare milady some tea to help her calm her nerves?”

Remilia looked back up at her, her face red and eyes moist. “I-I am calm!” she exclaimed pathetically, convincing no one. “I’m simply out of breath!” she said, wiping her eyes and adding with childish stubbornness, “yes, you must be mistaken. I’m as calm as a person can be.”

“I must be imagining things,” Kagerou agreed, sparing her the agony of putting her mistress on the spot some more. She tilted her face slightly to the side, a symbolic way of letting the emotional vampire regain her composure. “All the same, I think I’ll go make some tea for myself. I’ll bring it up and milady can decide if she’s thirsty when I do.”

“...” Remilia said nothing. There was a mutual shame that had been shared. But that wasn’t all bad, since there was a good chance that it was underscored by greater understanding by both of them.

As soon as Kagerou left the room, I let out a sigh. We had come close to dying, so it was only natural to take a moment to decompress. “We’re not dead,” I said idly, noting that my companion’s shoulders were impossibly stiff as she moved.

“We aren’t,” she said, not in the mood to talk. I could respect that. We both got why certain things were done and why other things were left unsaid. That we were on the same page was all that mattered.

The fairies sure could read the mood. They quieted down as soon as Kagerou came into the kitchen area, intimidated by the fey aura the werewolf projected. No one got in our way or even offered to help as she made the tea, apparently deciding that the risks of ticking Kagerou off outweighed any punishment stemming from dereliction of duty. I avoided any deeper reflection by wishing I had a means of startling them just for the fun of it. Telekinesis would have been the sure ticket.

Kagerou carried the tray back to Remilia quietly, lost in her own thoughts. When she arrived, she found that her mistress was slumped in one of the more comfortable chairs, staring out into space. She didn’t bother to turn to acknowledge our presence, looking almost doll-like in her pose. Kagerou poured out a cup of tea for herself and sat down nearby.

“I’ll have the tea,” Remilia broke the silence soon after Kagerou’s first sip. The maid got up and performed her duty, setting down the cup on a small table nearby. It was only after she had sat back down quietly that Remilia reached for it. She held it close to her face for a few moments, taking in the aroma of the brew before tasting it. “It’s a little bitter for my tastes,” she said.

“My apologies, the water must have been too hot.”

“It’s fine.”



Things didn’t feel tense as such. It was more akin to a pair of children being told to go stand in the naughty corner after a fight; afterwards they both felt stupid and mostly deflated. It was far more probable that neither Kagerou nor Remilia knew what to say next to break the awkward impasse. Somehow, it felt unlikely that someone would come in with ice cream and make them forget all about their troubles.

This continued for some time. Tea was drunk and cups silently refilled.

Remilia cracked first. “I’m a vampire!” she shouted all of a sudden before heaving and letting out a world-weary sigh. The reminder was mostly for herself, it felt like. Kagerou’s ear’s perked cautiously. “You’re my servant and have no right to know the troubles of either my mind or heart!” she exploded again. But unlike earlier, where she stared us down, she remained seated and her intended audience seemed to be herself again. “Things are complicated! The things that need to be said will be said… I suppose… when it’s time or when I feel like it. That said...”


“That said...” Remilia repeated, her voice quietening, “I suppose that my charisma inspires devotion. Yes, that’s certainly always been true. And I cannot fault well-intentioned caring. As annoying as it might be… at times.”

Remilia cleared her throat and paused. She was sounding more like her old self again.

Kagerou regained the confidence to say something, only adding after a gentle sigh of her own, “Remilia...”

“Werewolves are troublesome creatures!” Remilia exclaimed, making sure her face was completely turned away from the maid. She was fooling no one with what she was trying to hide with the bluster. “Yes, that hound-like desire to do your duty can be a blessing. So I’ll entrust you with one thing… on the off chance that… at any rate, pay a visit to the Hakurei shrine! Consider it a t-test, yes that’s what it’ll be! A trial to prove your sincerity.”

“What’s at the shrine?” Kagerou asked.

“The shrine maiden of course!”


“And do you want to prove yourself capable or have me micromanage every little thing that you do? Hell’s bells, woman!” the vampire protested a little too much.

Having regained belief in her own magnanimity, Remilia didn’t want to be called out on her behavior again.

“Of course...” Kagerou held back a sigh, “I’ll take care of it.”

“Good, good. You may have the rest of the evening off, I wish to spend some time alone,” the vampire waved a hand dismissively, trying to pretend that her pride hadn’t been wounded by the perforating emotional exposure.

“If you’ll excuse me then,” Kagerou left Remilia to her own thoughts. Just as she left, the vampire turned to look at her, watching her leave with the tea tray in tow. The moist eyes were gone, replaced with something like self-doubt. But it only lasted a moment and she quickly restored her guard.

“I guess that’s our trip then?” I said after Kagerou closed the door and began walking down the corridor.

“Seems so,” Kagerou said flatly, not sounding too enthused.

“Vampires, am I right? Weirdos the lot of them,” I tried to lighten the mood.

“They sure are.”

“Probably best to just relax for tonight. It’s been a long day,” I suggested.

“Definitely,” she said, lost in her own thoughts.

I didn’t want to push her any harder, it had been a long day. If she needed some time to herself, to collect her thoughts, then that was fine by me. I stayed quiet as she handed off the tray to a random fairy and then returned to her room. She took her sweet time in the bath, enjoying the hot soak while I thought about this and that. Afterwards, she went straight to bed and skipped reading any more of that dreadful book.

It was as good of a time as any to make a report. I’d cover the obvious, sure, but there was something like a nagging thought that I felt compelled to address. I knew that Sakuya would know what I was getting at. She would give me another piece to the puzzle.

[] The choice of books at the library, the topic of magic and Patchouli’s attitude wasn’t just a coincidence.
[] A normally cocksure vampire had to be troubled by much more than just a shrine maiden, right?

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2019/05/17(Fri)13:10

>> No. 64193
[X] A normally cocksure vampire had to be troubled by much more than just a shrine maiden, right?
>> No. 64194
[X] A normally cocksure vampire had to be troubled by much more than just a shrine maiden, right?
>> No. 64195
[x] The choice of books at the library, the topic of magic and Patchouli’s attitude wasn’t just a coincidence.
Since we'll likely be going Reimu-ways regardless of the outcome of this vote, we might as well get some context spoon-fed to us.
>> No. 64196
What do you know, all that time reading Not!Twilight may have actually taught Kagerou how to deal with vampires.

[x] The choice of books at the library, the topic of magic and Patchouli’s attitude wasn’t just a coincidence.

I agree with >>64195
>> No. 64197
[X] A normally cocksure vampire had to be troubled by much more than just a shrine maiden, right?

Flan Flan Time~u?
>> No. 64198
[x] The choice of books at the library, the topic of magic and Patchouli’s attitude wasn’t just a coincidence.

How many clues do we need? Well, we're anon so... more than what we have
>> No. 64200
Coin flip: heads!
>> No. 64201
Unlike the last few times I spoke with her, I found Sakuya to be completely alone. I could feel the warmth of a fire nearby and the occasional cracking of logs of wood perforated the otherwise absolute background silence.

It was odd how I never really seemed to catch her off guard. As soon as I tried to make contact, she replied, almost as if she had been waiting for me. I reported the usual, providing ample details on how the household was fairing. Whether she really cared or not about the fairy’s performance was secondary—I felt compelled to be as thorough as possible.

“Is that all?” she asked, not out of impatience but to make sure. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Least of all what she made of how I presented myself. Did that even matter? I felt that it did. Somehow.

“I was curious about something. Maybe you’d be able to help,” I said, feeling awfully self-conscious.

“Oh?” I could feel an eyebrow arching inquisitively on her end. I couldn’t quite see it, but it felt as real as the fact that she was staring out a window at a snow-filled landscape. The moon was new in the sky and her gaze gravitated towards the sliver of light.

I described our encounter with Patchouli, “There was an obvious purpose to her choice of books. It wasn’t for Kagerou’s sake. It couldn’t have been for my sake either...”

“People misunderstand her often, can you imagine?” Sakuya approached the topic somewhat obliquely. “It’s easy to forget that people are complicated, especially those who don’t make a habit of saying everything that they feel. Like me… well, how I feel isn’t that important right now.”

“I think it might be important,” I interrupted. Sure, I didn’t know her that well. To me she was just a voice on the other side of a spotty telephone line. Yeah, I know she had braided hair, that she often smiled when talking to me and that… well, I guess I knew nothing. All supposition.

“Maybe if I had a drink, I might be more willing to talk about my innermost thoughts,” she laughed softly, sounding darkly angelic. The road to perdition began right there. “Let’s stick to the topic, alright? Patchouli is not a very subtle person. Sure, she might present things in a delicate way but her lessons are always blunt. Just ask Lady Remilia or that guard.”

“So, I am right in trying to overthink things?”

“If I said, ‘I love you’, would you overthink that?” she asking something daring.

“I’d like to know why, at the very least,” I countered.

Would you?” she asked, shaking her head. She swirled the end of one of her braids with her index finger, unbundling some of her hair. “It’s the kind of things that people just accept.”

“I don’t get it. So I should just accept that she’s interested in me?”

I’m interested in you,” Sakuya said.




“Is it professional? Is it something else? This isn’t really the time or the way to talk about it,” Sakuya said, offering a lazy shrug. I could just barely make out her expression… it was something… playful? Or was that just what I wanted to imagine. All I knew for certain was that her hand was awfully soft. And that I’d give just about anything to hold it again.

Wait, ‘[/i]again[/i]’?

“I don’t get it at all,” I said.

“If she shared books with you, there’s a purpose in that. If I tell you that I love you, you better believe there’s a purpose in that,” she ‘explained’.

“...I just think that I’m being made fun of. Both you and Patchy. Your way of torturing me.”

“Maybe,” she admitted, “but maybe that’s a form of justice?”

“Justice for what?” I asked, feeling that the point of the conversation was like water escaping between my closed fist.

“Life,” she answered helpfully, “light? Love? Crimes and punishment?”

“All I know is that I wish I could see you,” I said, “I think I’d understand better if I could see your face.”

“That makes two of us,” she said, slumping into her chair.

“When will you be back?” I asked all of a sudden. I knew that I wouldn’t get a clearer answer unless she had nowhere to run to. If she were just within arm’s reach, if only I could hold her hand and tell her..!

“Tell me what?” she read my thoughts. I must have said more than I thought I did.

“...I don't know,” I said, “something. Something important.”

“Sounds like you’re full of yourself,” she said.

“Yeah, I know.”

“Sleep well,” she said, sighing.

“I don’t sleep,” I replied.

“I know,” she said grimly, before cutting off our dialog. Though I felt I could reach out and talk to her if I really wanted to, I knew better than to force it. I hadn’t really learned anything. Well, not the obvious thing that I had asked about. I knew that I’d spend the next few hours trying to make heads or tails of what just happened.

The problem with being a know-it-all was that when you didn’t know-it-quite-all, you went around in circles, trying to convince yourself that you’re still atop of things. Yes, there were obvious answers. None of them meshed well with my conception of how things should be, though. I tried to not overthink things for the rest of the night, mostly unsuccessfully. All I could really determine for sure was that I’d be better off in a proper body.

Kagerou slept like a wolf untroubled by the realities of the world. When conciseness reared its inevitable head, she was slow to wake. She lied to herself and lay in bed for a half hour after her eyes first opened, fighting a battle with her pillow to see if she could sleep once again. I was quiet all the while, strangely contented to watch her twitch and spasm, cover her head and even grumble as she went through the motions. Once she let out an exaggerated yawn and sat up, the game was truly over.

“Looking forward to our trip?” I asked.

“I guess,” she caught her breath in her hand and gave it the sniff test. Not too fresh, judging by the scowl. She was in no rush to get ready. It was only after she took her sweet time freshening up and getting dressed that she showed some semblance of excitement. “Let’s get going,” she said mostly to herself in front of the mirror.

I sort of felt like talking about Sakuya with her, but I got the feeling that she wouldn’t quite understand. It was lonely being a disembodied hunk of rock, pretty colors notwithstanding. Talking about Remilia or Patchouli didn’t seem like good ideas either, so I was quiet for the most part.

The werewolf took a small bag with her, swinging by the kitchen to take foodstuffs for the trip. It was more than enough for a small picnic. I thought that the shrine was close by but clearly Kagerou thought that it might turn into something of an extended leave of absence. The fairies were nosy, asking her where she’d go. They all wanted sweets from the human village and barely covered up the fact with questions about her well-being. Kagerou remained professional, telling them to keep to their duties and that she would be back soon.

The gate guard was happy to see her and greeted her warmly. “Out on business, eh?” she asked, working off of Kagerou’s determined look.

“Yes, I’ll be back soon,” Kagerou replied absentmindedly, offering only a cursory smile.

“Have a good one!” the guard said, beaming brightly at the maid. She crossed her arms and nodded with satisfaction, looking on at the road ahead that Kagerou would have to cover. It was a bright and sunny day. A little warm but not too bad for an extended walk.

It was almost a shame to spend a day like that hard at work.

[] Find out if Kagerou has a plan. Not that we have any idea what we’re supposed to do.
[] Plans are for losers. Encourage her to make the most of her time away from the mansion.

Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2019/05/19(Sun)14:00

>> No. 64202
[x] Plans are for losers. Encourage her to make the most of her time away from the mansion.

You know what? It's time for some R&R. Based on everything we've been through, I think we've earned it. It doesn't mean we're not gonna take the job seriously, just... taking our time doing it.
>> No. 64203
[x] Find out if Kagerou has a plan. Not that we have any idea what we’re supposed to do.
I mean, we could also maybe possibly kinda try to be on the lookout for those other things Patchy wanted???
>> No. 64204
[X] Find out if Kagerou has a plan. Not that we have any idea what we’re supposed to do.

Step 1: Get Flandre to blow up the moon
Step 2: Raymoo comes over
Step 3: ?????
Step 4: Babysitting vampire grandkids.
>> No. 64205
[X] Find out if Kagerou has a plan. Not that we have any idea what we’re supposed to do.

Step one, go visit the shrine maiden.
Step two, ????.
Step three, PROFIT!
Just gotta get a few details right, that's all.
>> No. 64206
[x] Plans are for losers. Encourage her to make the most of her time away from the mansion.
>> No. 64207
[x] Plans are for losers. Encourage her to make the most of her time away from the mansion.
>> No. 64209
Coin flip: tails!
>> No. 64210
File 155831141541.jpg - (580.52KB, 762x1255, spring flows.jpg) [iqdb]
I wasn't able to write at all, mostly because I was sick but also other things. I'll try for sometime in the next 24 hours, no promises.
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