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File 132845836359.jpg - (269.99KB, 1102x1390, mortality.jpg) [iqdb]
33879 No. 33879
Chronograph, noun.

An instrument used to record time with great accuracy.

---

You watch the old man on his bed, wheezing his last words quietly,

“Time is a terrible thing, my apprentice. The threads of time are transient, tumultuous, terrifying. You should abandon this pointless endeavour before you lose what precious time you have left.”


---

As a human, your time in the world is limited. Enough to stay your course or to change your ways. And as a human, your time will come, if not today, perhaps tomorrow. Maybe even later.

Such is the fragility of human life.

The first thing that should come to mind is your name.

Ambrose.

A mental nudge reminds you to check yourself for anything that might be amiss.

You hastily pat yourself over. All your limbs are intact.

You are wearing relatively smart clothes; a white, collared shirt and a black waistcoat, with matching chinos and a pair of good leather shoes. You feel like you’re missing something important, however.

Patting your pockets down a second time, you can feel something papery...

There are two 5000 yen notes, as well as a message, written in a curious hand:

Climb to the top of the stairs, and you should see a shrine.
Place the notes into the offertory box in front of the shrine.
Ask the shrine maiden who comes out for sanctuary.

Yukari


It is then that you finally look around you. It is late afternoon, around half past three. You are in a clearing, surrounded with a dense forest, two paths leading away from it.

Immediately to your front is a small path which leads to a particularly long flight of stairs, heading up a remarkably steep hill. You estimate that it would take a somewhat considerable time to climb it. The message said that there should be a shrine up there.

To your back is a path leading deeper into the forest. It seems to be bustling with life, probably small animals at the moment. Looking up, you can see some pale, wispy smoke coming from deep within the forest. Most probably a house. You’re not quite sure of what else lies on that path.

You can hear some faint rustling around you, mingling with the whistling wind. You cannot quite make out the sound so well, but you think that if you listen closely enough, you could figure it out.

Time to think.

[] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.
[] Ignore this Yukari’s orders and start walking into the forest.
[] The rustling deserves your attention. Stay awhile, and listen.

---

This is the scripted introduction. We’ll break into the free-form section after the introduction finishes.

First to five wins.
Expand all images
>> No. 33880
[x] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

Why? Following mysterious orders for no good reason is a hobby of mine. Also, Reimu.

Welcome, I guess? I don't recognize your trip.
>> No. 33881
[x] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

You don't remember anything, but you have instructions to help you. Follow them, until you know more (aka until we know if that Gensokyo is dangerous)
>> No. 33882
[X] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

Amnesia The Dark Descent
>> No. 33883
>>33882
I should stream that game someday, just to make fun of you.
>> No. 33884
[X] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

Rustling noises are bad.
>> No. 33885
[X] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

Knowing nothing except that apparently there is a person in a shrine at the top of the stairs that you should give money to, the course of action is obvious.
>> No. 33886
[] Follow this Yukari’s orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

Because there's nothing else to do.
>> No. 33888
File 13284964237.jpg - (185.85KB, 832x539, 1.jpg) [iqdb]
33888
I forgot to do a personal introduction.

Hello, I am an NPC. I want to write. I am new to the site.

That is all.

---

Meta-Abilities Unlocked: Summary of Events [SUM], Player Inventory [INV]

---

[x] Follow this Yukari's orders and begin climbing up the stairs.

Whoever this Yukari is, she seems to know what she is doing and you decide that it is probably best to follow her instructions. Time to ascend to the promised land.

You begin your trek to the top of the hill, and almost as soon as you reach the foot of the stairs, the rustling noises stop abruptly.

---

Panting slightly as you reach the halfway point, you begin to realise that you are not the most physically inclined person.

---

After around 8 minutes, you finally clear the massive flight of stairs; you can see the promised building before you:

Beyond the archway, there is a large paved path, leading up to a small, weather-aged Japanese style shrine amidst the rough grass and wild flowers growing on the grounds around it.

Glancing down, you can see a few weeds peeking through the paved stones, swaying whimsically to the wind’s rhythm.

You feel slightly disappointed at the size of the building and the state of the grounds, particularly given that you were expecting something much more majestic after that 8 minute trek.

Walking towards the shrine, you notice that the area is bizarrely quiet and still, which to be frank is unusual for a religious place. Surely there would be more people, and more noise, what with the prayers and the sweeping of the grounds. This desolation just reeks of abandonment and disuse. Something does not feel right.

You stop just before the donation box, posted prominently before the shrine itself, a stalwart and thoroughly weathered sentinel to the empty shrine grounds. You peer into the mighty donation box...

And continue to be disappointed; there seems to be no money in there at all. Not even a single coin.

Digging through your pockets, you draw out the message and the two 5000 yen notes, before an unusual idea pops into your head.

10000 yen is a lot of money. You’re not even sure if the shrine itself is used, given the run-down state of the place, the lack of worshippers and the empty donation box. Perhaps... perhaps you could keep 5000 yen. Nobody would know.

Right?

[] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.
[] Yeah... nobody would notice. Put just 5000 yen in.
[] This scene seems fishy. Call out to any survivors occupants.

---

Chronograph will feature: flashback sequences, time-related confusion, potential derailment of scenarios and write-in options.

Mikos, maids, magicians, youkai and fairies should be warned that there may be light danmaku sequences and should prepare accordingly.
>> No. 33889
[x] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.

It's as plain as day what will win.
Oh well.
>> No. 33890
[X] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.

Let's not be a jerk.
>> No. 33891
[X] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.

Been too long since /shrine/ got me interested...

also Reimu
>> No. 33892
[] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.

Because everyone will do anything a person in an authority position says.
>> No. 33893
[c] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.

The OP picture intrigues me.
>> No. 33894
File 132851537062.jpg - (150.01KB, 850x850, reimusensestingling.jpg) [iqdb]
33894
[x] We have instructions. Put the full 10000 yen in the box.

You shake your head in disgust with yourself for even considering such thoughts, dropping both notes into the box.

“A donation.”

Jumping in shock, you realise that a young woman is standing right behind you. Where did she come from?

Her clothes are... interesting, to say the least. A wonderfully large red bow adorns the back of her head, coupled with a matching white and red sleeveless dress, with an oddly endearing yellow tie. Most interestingly, she wears her sleeves separately from her dress, which end in large bell bottoms, serving to partially conceal her hands.

She must be the shrine maiden.

Stepping beside you, she peers into the donation box with clear interest before reaching in with unladylike haste, taking the two notes out and begins to inspect them closely. She squints closely at the notes, biting her lip in a feverish panic.

Taking a deep breath to compose herself, she turns to you, frowning slightly,

“Okay, before you ask, no, we do not provide that particular service: that is just an unsubstantiated rumour going around. But I will be happy to accept this generous donation if you are still willing to give freely.”

“What particular service?”

She stares at you blankly. Something tells you that you’ve just stumbled onto a touchy issue.

“You mean you’re not here to try asking for that service?”

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

The woman wipes her forehead in relief,

“Well. Uh. Let’s forget about that, shall we?” she chuckles, quietly slipping the money somewhere in her dress, “N-now I suspect you’re here to ask for something, or is donating to a good cause all you wanted to do today?”

You scratch your head, and...

[] ... feel the urge to mention Yukari’s instructions and show the woman the note that she wrote.
[] ... feel the urge to ask more. Press her for details on ‘that particular service’.
[] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.
>> No. 33895
[x] "A Yukari said I could get sanctuary here..."
>> No. 33896
[] ... feel the urge to mention Yukari’s instructions and show the woman the note that she wrote.
>> No. 33897
[] ... feel the urge to ask more. Press her for details on ‘that particular service’.

Let’s follow Yukari’s instructions fully. Also, regarding your previous update, please use words instead of numbers for small quantities such as eight.
>> No. 33898
[x] "A Yukari said I could get sanctuary here..."

Seems to be sensible.
>> No. 33899
[x] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.

We're a nice guy so far. Let's keep on with the "nice guy" act.
>> No. 33900
[X] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.

May consider it a base for now until further instruction, if at all, as we don't know if Yukari wants her mentioned regarding the donation or even the letter to begin with.
>> No. 33901
>>33897

Apologies. I was writing fast and from notes. I will endeavour to avoid this in future.

---

Tallied votes so far:

[2] "A Yukari said I could get sanctuary here..."
[2] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.
[1] ... feel the urge to mention Yukari’s instructions and show the woman the note that she wrote
[1] ... feel the urge to ask more. Press her for details on ‘that particular service’.

---
>> No. 33902
[X] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.
>> No. 33903
[X] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.
>> No. 33904
[] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.
>> No. 33905
[O] ... feel the urge to mention Yukari’s instructions and show the woman the note that she wrote.
>> No. 33907
[x] ... stay silent about the note, but ask her if you could claim sanctuary at the shrine.

---

Now that you think about it, Yukari never mentioned that she needed to be mentioned.

"Actually, there is something I require."

The shrine maiden faces away,

"And what might that be?"

"Miss, I would like to formally request sanctuary at this shrine."

There is a silence, lasting for three, long seconds.

The shrine maiden begins looking more closely at you, hesitating as she stares at your head. After several more moments of careful deliberation, she nods once,

"That is acceptable, but may I ask why you require sanctuary?"

"I arrived here without understanding how and why I got here. A friendly person directed me towards the shrine and gave me some money to donate as recompense."

She smirks knowingly.

"And I suppose you don't remember a thing about your past?"

"Yes."

The shrine maiden shakes her head, chuckling to herself,

"We've been getting a lot of you outsiders in Gensokyo recently, though they seem to be getting along well with the locals. Fairly strange that you'd happen to arrive at this particular place."

"Like I said, a friendly person directed me to the shrine."

She begins walking in, waving for you to follow her,

"C'mon, let's get the paperwork done and get you sorted out."

Before she closes the sliding door, you take a quick look outside, and seem to see a small black portal of some kind, just about to close, almost... as if it winked at you.

It worries you slightly.

---

The rest of the interview with Reimu Hakurei, the head shrine maiden, goes along without too much further incident, and she kindly agrees to provide you with shelter whilst she makes inquiries into your circumstances. Within 10 minutes, the deal is done.

She leads you to an unused guest room, and tosses you a spare futon, telling you to stay put for a few minutes whilst she makes said inquiries, before shutting the door.

You set aside the futon and wait warmly.

After 23 minutes and 22 seconds of absolute boredom and monotony, you doze off on the ground, neglecting to use the much comfier futon.

You’re probably going to feel that later.

---
>> No. 33908
File 132858885659.jpg - (129.94KB, 850x959, thealley.jpg) [iqdb]
33908
Ambrose is nine years old, and he is having the most nerve-wracking day of his life.

The old man gazed into Ambrose's eyes,

"Were it anyone else, child, I would not have seen them. As it stands, you have been discovered, and fairly quickly too."

---

It has been a quiet existence for him, living with his very secretive parents. Their small apartment is cosy, but lonely, and they rarely received visitors. But the old man seemed to visit fairly often, talking with your parents of 'fond times' and 'the better days'. All the time, he would glance at you, and pause for thought.

Then, there was an argument, very late at night.

---

Ambrose shut his eyes as tightly as he could, but listened.

"I just want him to live a normal life!"
"The master wants him. It was inevitable, dear."
"You promised me!"
"I know."

There is a silence.

"... w-what will happen to him?"
"I don't know, dear, I'm afraid I don't know."

---

It was the next morning, when his parents told him to pack his things, go to the alley, and knock on that particular door.

It was not even 7.00 when he left the door.

---

The old man watches his face very closely.

"I say child, what do you think of, time?"

"Time?"

"Yes, time. Time that is shown on clocks. Do you know how to read a clock?"

"Okay, I guess."

"Hurm..."

The old man drew out a brass pocket watch, turning it over in his hand once, before handing it to Ambrose.

"Keep this watch for me, and I'll tell you a secret."

Ambrose took one long hard look at the pocket watch. It was 12.00, which was clearly wrong. He fiddles with the dial on top, and the clock's hands turn to 8.46 in the morning and the second hand starts ticking away.

"Ambrose."

He looks at the old man.

The old man grins, "I will make you into a magician. But first, tell me this:

What do you think time is?"

[] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."
[] "Something you can use to do things, of course!"
[] "The thing that a clock shows."

---

Any questions so far?
>> No. 33909
[x] "The thing that a clock shows."

Given how he has obeyed orders so far this seems like an IC response
>> No. 33910
[X] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."

What kid isn't curious, especially one who doesn't seem to mind strange folk such as the old man?
>> No. 33912
[X] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."
Time powers gogogo

>Author has lurked enough to make 10000-yen donation jokes.
A good sign.
>Author is intelligent enough to make 10000-yen donation jokes that don't suck
A better sign.
>> No. 33913
[X] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."

Does one always need a reason for a vote?
>> No. 33914
[X] "Time is one of the fundemental concepts that keep the universe together, alongside Space."

The Time-Space Continuem will be our plaything.
>> No. 33915
>>33913

No. Vote without stating a reason if you want, but placing some reasoning with your vote can sometimes sway other voters.

For better, or for worse.
>> No. 33916
[x] Time is a Cube.

There are four simultaneous 24 hour days that occur within a single 4 quadrant rotation of Earth, and to deny that is to live in educated stupidity.

[x] Time is an artificial concept, and we represent it with clocks. It is what the clock shows.
>> No. 33917
File 132861262019.jpg - (40.93KB, 460x345, KK---atkinson-clock-tower.jpg) [iqdb]
33917
[c] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."

>Any questions so far?

So who/what are we in this story? Timekeeper?
>> No. 33918
>>33917

In the present, you are Ambrose, a well dressed amnesiac man who has arrived by some means in Gensokyo.

In the past we are seeing, Ambrose was a young nine year old boy, who was accepted as a magician's apprentice by a Mysterious Old Master™.
>> No. 33919
[] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."

Because this feels like something a child would say.
>> No. 33920
>>33918
>Mysterious Old Master
>MOM
Oh you.
>> No. 33921
[x] "I'm not sure, but... I wanna find out."

---

Ambrose looked at the watch face, observing the steady, constant movement of the second hand.

Time. What was time?

Time was all sorts of things to him. It was the thing that kept the day going, the thing that people couldn't waste, the thing that people always needed more of.

But what was time, really?

"I'm not sure," he began, turning the watch over, several times, "But... I wanna find out. I-if that's okay with you, mister."

The old man laughed contentedly,

"Aha, you're a soul just like mine! I'm glad to see my old pupil has sent me such a curious mind. Come in, come in child. We have to talk about this inside, where it is safer."

---

After offering Ambrose a comfy place on the couch in the living room, the old man took his suitcase and told him to wait right there.

Ambrose looked around the room. Desks, tables and shelves dominated the space, all packed to the seams with books. Books of all shapes, sizes and colours, in all sorts of languages on the spine. And beside them, quills and inks and paper, so many things in this tiny room!

Ambrose fidgeted in his seat for a while. Relenting, he got up, quickly snatched a small book and took a good look at the cover:

A Study of Adv. Chronology and other such magics by Assai Deltories

Long title. He flipped open to the first page... and found it incomprehensible: symbols and glyphs and graphs and pictures and-

"I see you've tried to start quickly."

Ambrose slammed the book shut, trying to look as innocent as possible.

"It's okay child, I've made very sure to ward and seal all the books here. The most they will do is give you a mild headache. But I'm afraid you won't really understand anything in that book until you get a bit better with your magic."

The old man laughed, and with a click of his fingers, held a pocket watch of his own.

"Now, I do hope you are listening very closely Ambrose.

Magic is a very dangerous thing. Science, spirit and faith have their own dangers, but magic is something which is far more dangerous to people like us. Unlike science, which follows the rules of the universe, spirit, which follows the rules of the soul, and faith, which follows the rules of the gods, magic has rules which change."

"But, if the rules change all the time, then how are people supposed to follow them?"

"Aha, yes, you've caught onto that," the old man nods, "Yes, magic is very strange. For every type of magic, there is a different set of rules. Our job, as magicians, is to try and uncover those rules, and use them to do things. Wonderful and terrible things.

Let's start, with that watch you have. Tell me about it."

"It's a watch... and it's kinda brownish-gold sorta coloured. And it's 9.13 in the morning apparently."

"Basics, basics, yes. The watch is a watch. But more importantly, it is your focus. Every magician has a focus or two that they use to help them shape the magic around them. Without their focus, a magician is very slow with magic, unless they are very skilled. For our time magic, this magic watch is our focus."

"It's a magic watch?"

"Of course. You made it move. When you touched it, that watch made a link to you, and it is using your magic to run and keep time. As a time magician, you always need to know the time. If you didn't, well... you'd have to be very, very stupid to try casting any big spells. But more importantly."

The old man looked Ambrose in the eye again,

"This is very important, Ambrose. Never lose that watch. Even if you lose all your money, your house, your friends and family, never, ever lose that watch of yours."

---
>> No. 33922
You've all made it through the introduction. I'm not surprised you've picked to seek knowledge of time with your master. But knowledge can be very dangerous if used without wisdom.

Worse still is dogma, or knowledge which is held as absolute truth.

I'm also somewhat surprised you follow instructions so well. This makes part of my job easier.

I will write the next scene in an hour or so. Please feel free to ask any questions about the introduction, and I will do my best to answer.

Thank you for your patience so far.

---

Ambrose
Time Magician (Amnesiac)

[INV]

- Yukari's instructions, containing instructions to donate money to Reimu Hakurei and ask for sanctuary.

---
>> No. 33923
Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.
George Bernard Shaw (1896-1950)

---

My word, that hurt.

As you slowly struggle to sit up, you make a mental note to never sleep on a wooden floor again, if possible. Stretching to remove the kinks from your shoulders, you curse the futon and its lack of effort to make you confortable. (Even though it is your own damn fault.)

Still, that impromptu nap helped to clear your head a bit. Now that your mind is a bit clearer, you begin to examine the room around you.

On the ground, right next to you, there is a brass pocket watch and chain, and another message from Yukari:

I didn't want to disturb your sleep, but...
I bumped into this when I was travelling back home.
Please take better care of your possessions in the future.

Yukari


How kind of Yukari. You really must thank her someday.

As you pick up the pocket watch, you feel relieved. For what you do not know. Regardless, you very carefully attach the chain to your trousers, placing the watch into the pocket in your waistcoat.[Item added to INV: Brass pocket watch]

You also fold Yukari's message neatly, placing it into the other pocket. [Item added to INV: Yukari's admonishment]

You feel complete. Now if only you had a tie.

The rest of the room is generically Japanese; sliding door cupboard, a solid wooden dresser and a couple of shelves with assorted books and pieces of junk. Oh, and that blasted futon is still sitting in the corner, unused. (Bah.)

"RE~I~MU~? Are you awake today?"

There is someone calling out for your host. Hurm. It has been 12 minutes and 33 seconds since you fell asleep. It should be 4.23 in the afternoon, a fact confirmed by the pocket watch. Anyway, you probably should do something about that person. You also feel mildly curious about the shrine itself.

[] Go out and greet the person.
[] Go ahead and yell back.
[] Stay silent and wait for Reimu.
>> No. 33924
[c] Stay silent and wait for Reimu.
>> No. 33925
[x] Stay silent and wait for Reimu.

It is the polite thing to do. Clearly Ambrose is a gentleman because he has a pocket watch.
>> No. 33926
[X] Stay silent and wait for Reimu.

I'm wondering what would happen should we meet up with Sakuya?
>> No. 33927
[X] Go out and greet the person.

It may help to build connections during Ambrose's stay.
>> No. 33928
[x] Go out and greet the person.

You are a gentleman. You can't let someone wait, it would be rude and disrespectful.
Beside, I'm curious what kind of horror two watches maniac can release together.
>> No. 33929
[x] Stay silent and wait for Reimu.
>> No. 33930
[X] Stay silent and wait for Reimu.

Talking to what's probably Marisa, a thief, while our only possession worth stealing we were warned in a flashback to never let leave our person?

Yeah, I don't think so.
>> No. 33931
[x] Stay silent and wait for Reimu

Well. You suppose Reimu would have responded to the visitor by herself, and it normally wouldn't do for a guest to receive visitors themselves.

So you clam up and wait.

"Reimu? Ah geez, she's not in today," the voice continues, "She's usually around here, unless she's out somewhere fixing incidents..."

You can hear footsteps approaching the front door. My, these types of houses really let the sound through, don't they?

"I suppose I can wait for a bit ze~" the voice concludes.

Oh dear. Reimu has an unexpected guest in the house, who has just let herself in. Will she get on your case?

Unlikely, the stranger seems to be on first name terms with her. Probably a longish dress, based on the rustling and unhurried footsteps. Then again, she may be moving in a completely relaxed manner.

Pointless to speculate on shoes; she's probably taken them off before she got in.

Ze? An accent of some kind? You can't quite place it.

It is then that you realise that you have pressed yourself against the door, ear-first. Feeling rather exposed, you quietly set yourself down and await Reimu's return.

---

The voice warbles and hums at various pitches as the stranger makes her way around the shrine. She's singing. Not that badly as well.

You try to think. It has been 12 minutes since you hunkered down. The stranger seems to be making full use of the shrine and displays no intention of stopping.

Deciding to while the time away, you close your eyes.

"Hello."

Opening your eyes, the door of the room is now open, and a witch (you can tell, she's wearing the right hat and dress and everything,) is pointing a magical reactor of some kind at you. It is pulsating a gentle blue. Oh dear.

"Who are you and what did you do with Reimu?" she asks, careful to keep the device aimed at your head.

Magical reactor of octagonal shape, multiple elements, oriental style sealing technique with slight Fullminster-style modifications. High density output, variable power selection. Multiplies magical capacity of user greatly. She seems fairly strong, the output of that device must be phenomenal.

Defuse the situation.

"Good afternoon."

The witch's eye twitches, "H-hello."

"I believe Reimu Hakurei is out of the shrine at the moment. Would you like to take a seat and wait?"

Lowering the reactor, she begins scratching her head awkwardly.

"Ehehehe~ sorry. Just got kinda jumpy. Reimu's usually here,"

She hesitates.

"Hey, uh, d'ya realise you've got something on yer head? You're kinda reminding me of that maid."

Maid? This is urgent. You need to find a mirror.

"Do you know where a mirror is, by any chance?"

"Sure... it's just over in the next room."

You get up, flanked by the witch, and approach the mirror cautiously.

And you can see your face is normal, no scars, no distinguishing marks.

But... your hair is... white. Ghostly white.

[] "White."
[] "What."
[] "Of course."
>> No. 33932
[x] "Of course."


If I may suggest something, writefag: don't use "ze". That doesn't work. Modify Marisa's speech to make her sounds more like a boy, but don't use "ze". That only works in japanese.
>> No. 33933
[x] "White."

I hope we meet Sakuya soon. Should be interesting.
>> No. 33934
[x] "I don't quite see anything on my head..."
Write-in's are good, right?
>> No. 33935
[c] "What."

Oh ho.
>> No. 33936
[x] "What."

Odd Reimu took off without saying anything. Especially since she said she'd only be gone a few minutes.
>> No. 33937
[] "What."

Well, this somehow fits with my theory that messing with the time-space fabric messes your hair color.
>> No. 33938
[x] "Of course."

Sakuya probably has a connection with our old master
>> No. 33939
[X]"What."

Works for me~!
>> No. 33940
>>33932

I see. Found it difficult to immediately tell people it was Marisa besides that.

Useful advice. Thank you.
>> No. 33941
[X] "I don't quite see anything on my head..."
>> No. 33942
[x] “Of course.”

Even with amnesia, seeing ourselves in the mirror shouldn’t be surprising, these things are hard-wired deeper in the brain. And naturally, our hair color would appear unusual to other people.

I really hope it is like this because of the magic of time travel, not because of some grim time-travel related IRL medical condition like Werner syndrome.
>> No. 33943
It's been long enough, and there are 4 votes for [] "What."

Good enough.

---

[x] "What."

---

"What."

You don't think your hair was this colour before. You're pretty sure it was black. Yes, black hair, you had black hair before, you're sure of it. Damn and blast, you thought that it wouldn't go grey this early, you're only 22. Yes, 22 of course. It must be a side effect from the...

Side effect from what? You don't rememberdoyou remember if there were supposed to be side effects. It must be a direct consequence of something... Was it a botched spell? You know it was a spell right~ You're a magician. A magician. Y-yes, you're a magician- There was a book involved inthematter. and watches... You remember a thing, bloodwatches and blank-blankety-blank and sigils... Awhatwith something... wonderful... Something wonderful~. Something something something... it eludes you, damnit. A great big whatsit and thingies and doodads and spinning and lightwonderfullight-

Focus.

You clasp your forehead in exasperation, nursing a nasty headache.

"What the hell happened to me?"

"I suppose I'd like ta know as well," the witch says, "Speaking of which, I never got yer name,"

She takes off her hat and offers her hand, grinning widely,

"Marisa Kirisame, ordinary magician. Pleased ta meet ya!"

She holds a beautiful black witch's hat, with the usual white ribbon upon it, a signifier of obvious magical prowess. She wears the standard garb of a classical witch, a simple white dress with a long black skirt. Though there are some tiny modifications you can detect, such as the pink ribbon in her blonde hair, the unbuckled black shoes and the (rather unnecessary,) little white apron, you can simply attribute it to regional variations. You'll admit that it is rather cute on her. You wonder where her broom is.

More importantly though, she is a magician. A person who is capable of manipulating and using magic spells from the various schools of magic. You take her hand, and can immediately sense a great power. Not uniform, yet very malleable and controllable with a strong will.

"Are you by any chance, a black magician?" you guess, shaking her hand firmly,

"Right in one! How'd ya know?"

"Just a guestimation of sorts. My name is Ambrose. I am also a magician."

Her eyes light up with genuine excitement,

"Oh! Can I ask what kinda magic you practice?"

"Magical shielding, wards, seals, and other defensive magics," you say,

That felt very... practiced. You've said this before. But you are forgetting something. You pull out your watch-

"Hey~ that's a pretty swanky watch ya got there, real classy in fact," Marisa begins, edging closer for a better look.

"Marisa, stop harassing my guest."

It looks as though Reimu is back, standing in the hallway, carrying a small carrying bag of things. She looks positively unamused by Marisa's presence in the shrine.

The blonde immediately legs it over to Reimu, hugging her and chattering excitedly,

"Re~i~mu~! Where were ya, I was looking all over for ya!"

Reimu lifts her bag with some difficulty amidst the bearhug that Marisa gives her, "I was picking up some extra supplies for dinner tonight, because I have a guest."

Marisa whispers something to Reimu. Within seconds Reimu has slapped a slip of paper (a complex sealing charm,) onto Marisa's face, causing her to flail about in confusion for a moment. You think you can catch some trace of frustration on the shrine maiden's face, judging by the way her lip is quivering downwards.

"Now why would you think we're getting up to that Marisa?"

Marisa removes the charm, grinning a very unusual, knowing smile,

"I'm just saying, you're in a really good mood today, Reimu!"

---
>> No. 33944
---

[Much later.]

---

Marisa is so full of boundless energy, you conclude, and not simply magical energy, but emotional energy. The way she is so physical and loud, it amuses you to see her playing and chatting with the much more composed, quiet Reimu, who seems to bear it all with a straight face and a quick hand.

After a long, long afternoon trying to keep up with Marisa and Reimu's antics as the latter tried to prepare dinner, Marisa finally decides that it is time to leave. Outside on the path, Marisa bids the two of you farewell, kicking off the ground with her magic broom. She hovers for a moment,

"Hey Reimu, come over and play some time, okay? And bring Ambrose with ya, I wanna see him try something cool later at my place!"

Reimu merely sighs and waves at her once.

Waving one final time, Marisa lets out a carefree laugh, before jetting off into the forest below.

---

"God knows what's going on in that girl's head," Reimu begins, handing you a small bowl of rice, "I hope she didn't try to frisk you for anything valuable," Her eyes focus on the watch in your waistcoat pocket, "Where'd you get that watch?"

"Yukari returned it to me, just before Marisa came in."

"Oh."

Reimu continues to remain unamused. Maybe she and Yukari do not get along? Is Yukari her subordinate, or her boss? Questions, questions, but you have plenty of time to figure it out.

This rice and fish is simply rustic. It tastes very nice and fresh, and Reimu looks like she is really savouring the meal...

---

After helping her clean up, she invites you to join her outside, on the steps of the shrine.

The evening sky is divine, and from the top of this hill, you can see the sky very clearly. Something about the positions of the stars you can see does not seem very right. As odd as that seems to you, sitting outside feels rather nostalgic.

"So, Ambrose. What do you remember of your past?" Reimu asks, settling down on a suitable spot,

"I know I'm a magician. And I know I got here because of... something going on. Probably a spell misfire."

"I see." After some further thought, she continues, "Do you think you'll get your memories back anytime soon?"

"I hope so. I think I'm supposed to be doing something important."

"Hmm."

Not a word is spoken for a while after that, the two of you just enjoying the cooling breeze of the rapidly approaching evening.

You blink.

---

It is much darker, and you can see the full moon out in all of it's luminous glory. Beside you, Reimu is taking an impromptu nap against the column of the building, her head lolling back comfortably. She's probably going to feel that later. The reflected moonlight illuminates a deep frown on her otherwise gentle face.

You look at your watch. It is now 8.54 in the night.

Reimu slowly awakens from her slumber, tilting her neck experimentally. Sensing the sudden change in time, she begins brushing herself off and standing, "I'll be inside," she announces, "Don't sleep too late Ambrose, there may be lots of work you might have to get up to tomorrow."

And with a lifeless wave, she disappears into the shrine again, sliding the door shut behind her.

That nap from earlier did you some good. You still feel a bit restless, and the archway next to the stairs seems like a much breezier place.

Yes. A walk to the archway seems to be in order. Placing the watch back into its pocket, you calmly make your way towards the arch, tracing the cracks in the paving stones with your feet. As you watch the tips of your shoes passing over and around the cracks, you remember...

[] Watches
[] Books
[] Light
>> No. 33945
[] Light

"Watches" is the obvious answer, "books" is obviously related to magic, but "light" doesn't fit the pattern quite well with chronomancy, that makes it the most intriguing choice.
>> No. 33946
[x] Light.
>> No. 33947
[x] Watches

I know it's obvious, but I'm still interested.
>> No. 33948
[X] Books

Maybe a set of old books Ambrose might have often borrowed? Personal Notes of his own writ or instructor in a book format?
>> No. 33949
[x] Watches

Might as well learn more about our apparent specialty.
>> No. 33950
[x] Watches

Sure, light doesnt fit, but that's not a good reason to vote for it, you know.
>> No. 33951
IMO, all of the choices are connected to the mirror scene. There was a book, bloodwatches and light there. I voted for light because it felt nice, and people tend to long for and remember nice things.
>> No. 33952
[c] Light.
>> No. 33953
[x] Watches.
on a unrelated note i just got through watching a playthrough of Touhouvania 1&2 and i have to say, Sakuya went up a few levels of awesome in my books!
>> No. 33954
[x] Books

Somebody didn't do their magical ritual by the book.
>> No. 33955
[x] Watches.
>> No. 33956
[x] Watches.

---

Watches. You can remember watches...

---

Ambrose is 10 years old, and he is having important questions answered.

There were two people within that small study. Ambrose and his master were both at their desks. The white-haired old man is scrawling complicated notes into a thick journal, his hands moving deftly across the smooth pages. The black-haired young boy is fiddling with his pocket watch intently as he trawls through his study material.

"Master, does the Werner Matrix have three switchbacks or two?"

"Two. Three is too unstable, too much energy is rerouted."

"Master, I keep getting this sum wrong. I put in Deltories' number as it tells me but-"

"Did you remember to use van Toten's rule?"

"... oh."

Ambrose hesitated for a moment, his fingers drumming rhythmically against the casing of his watch.

"Master, why do time magicians use watches as their foci? Couldn't we just use wands like elementalists?"

The old man's hands stopped.

After a few minutes, he stood up and walked to the door, "Come Ambrose, let's go for a walk. Put on your coat."

---

It was getting late in the day.

Ambrose was watching his feet trail across the paving stones in the city park. A tap on his shoulder startled him. He looked up into his master's hazel eyes,

"Eyes up boy," the old man chided, "Magicians must perceive reality if they are to warp reality."

They continued quickly to a secluded spot in the park, just underneath a giant old tree. As soon as Ambrose caught up to him, the old man drew out his watch. Ambrose fumbled around in his pockets for a moment, before drawing his own watch out.

"Ambrose, to begin answering your question," the old man began, "Magicians all use foci to focus and channel their power more constructively, allowing for more efficient use of magic. What do magicians do?"

"They harness magical energy and use it to cause various effects upon the world."

"Good. But what do they do?"

Ambrose thinks for a moment. After several moments, he scratches his head nervously,

"I don't know?"

The old man smiled, "They perceive and they act upon their perceptions. In order to bend the laws of the world to our own cause, we must first be able to perceive. This is why elementalists are typically very powerful; their magic is the most easily perceptible to all."

"Perceptible?"

"When an elementalist magician uses fire, they can see the flame, feel the heat, hear the crackle of the fire itself. Fire is perceptible and knowable to all. But take time."

He holds his silver watch by the chain, letting it dangle freely in the cool evening air.

"Time is relative, yet absolute."

"Huh?"

"Feel for your heartbeat for a moment."

Ambrose does, holding his hand against his chest. He can feel the strong and steady beat of his heart against his chest.

"Now see the setting sun."

Ambrose does. The sun is dipping mournfully into the distance, its last few rays shouting their defiance of the night.

"How fast did your heart beat?"

"I... I'm not sure."

"Can you see exactly how fast the sun sets?"

"Not really right now, but it'll go down eventually."

The old man swings the silver dial back into his hand with a deft flick.

"Your heart beats with a steady rhythm, but it changes with exertion. You can see the sun setting, but only if you watch it for a long time. One person's relative second is longer than another's. And yet time is absolute in her constant march onwards. A second, if one standardises it, remains a second anywhere in the world.

We need our watches to tell the time.

Because time is an element which can only be perceived with precision using a watch. We can see the second hand moving, we can hear the ticks and tocks. We can trust our watches, for they move with regularity in an irregular world. We practice one of the most dangerous magics of all, where one second's difference, one instant could mean failure or success, and to put it to chance by relying on our heart and our heads..."

He shakes his head,

"We would be doomed to failure. And that, is why we use watches as foci."

Ambrose looked into the distance behind the old man, watching the rim of the moon just peeking out from the horizon, and he tilts his head, "But wouldn't badly made watches keep time very badly?"

The old man thinks for a moment, before bursting into laughter,

"Yes! Yes, yes, I see where you are going with that. A badly made watch ticks irregularly. But that is why we trust no one to make our watches but ourselves. There are ways of magically finding the time accurately without a watch, and we use those spells to craft our own watches. It is typically the mark of a great time magician to make their own watch. I would trust no one else but myself to make that watch of yours, for example. Someday, when you are a master, you will make your own watch, and a watch for your apprentice."

Ambrose turns his own watch over and over...

---

You inspect the casing on your watch more closely as you lean against the wooden archway.

Your name is engraved upon the back of the watch, somewhat worn and faded, with many tiny scratches upon the case. And in the middle of the watch you can see a small mark... It is a small crescent moon.

Something warm trickles down your face. As it reaches your mouth, you can feel the bitter taste of salt.

You wipe away the tears, for what or for whom, you are not quite sure of. But it feels right to cry.
>> No. 33958
File 132888751927.jpg - (441.11KB, 917x833, privatetalk.jpg) [iqdb]
33958
"My my. It's not every night I get to see a young man cry."

The voice startles you, and you look to your right,

A young woman is floating on a... gap in space. Tied with ribbons. Another blonde haired woman, with a long purple dress with white sleeves, holding a small fan. Her smile is as unusual as her purple irises, and she holds herself with great poise. You get the feeling she is not exactly normal.

"No need to be alarmed Ambrose," she continues, fanning herself demurely, "I'm a good friend of Reimu's and a well meaning acquaintance of yours. My name is Yukari, Yukari Yakumo."

So this is the Yukari who helped you. Somehow, this does not dispel your niggling suspicions.

"I-I'm sorry, you caught me at a strange time..."

"I see. Tell me, Ambrose, what just happened in your little world?"

"I... think I just remembered something about my past."

She nods in understanding, "A sad memory perhaps?"

"Not really sure. I just felt... like I lost someone important to me."

Yukari floats a little closer to you, "Do you mind if I take a look at your watch?"

You unhook the chain and hand over the watch to her, watching her handle it with slender, pale hands. She brushes the crystal face with a finger, watching the moonlight reflected upon it's unscarred surface.

She hands it back to you after a minute, and you again attach it securely to your person.

"It is a very nice watch. Sometimes, I wish there was a better watchmaker in Gensokyo, one who could make such elegant devices."

"It would be nice indeed," you agree, "But, if I recall correctly, wristwatches are getting quite popular nowadays."

Yukari giggles, "Like the ones I see the kappa sporting lately? How odd to see timepieces strapped to your arm. They lack, sophistication, though I do admit they are practical for such industrious people."

She is very close to you now, and you can almost feel her long hair brushing against your shoulders. She leans over to your ear, and whispers,

"I've come here to check on you Ambrose, and to make sure that your first night in Gensokyo is safe. It wouldn't do for you to get into further trouble now."

Further trouble?

"May I ask what kind of trouble I was in before?"

"... You were floating in my little patch of void, alone and unconscious. I don't usually get many visitors there, and I certainly didn't intend to let you die all over my space. It just wouldn't do. Imagine the bother my shikigami would give me if she saw a dead body floating around in my gaps."

"Was my hair white?"

"Of course it was," Yukari says, as she sinks into her gap a little, "Well, I'll be off then Ambrose. Please do take good care of yourself, and treat my shrine maiden respectfully. Good night."

And with that, she disappears into the gap, which seals itself completely.

Your new friends all seem to be very interesting. Casting your eyes back outwards, you begin to scan the horizon.

In the distance, you can see the light of a village, just beyond the forest of trees. You surmise that the path must lead to that village, and that Reimu walked over there to collect the groceries for tonight's meal. Above, you can see the face of the moon, gazing intently at you from her perch in the heavens. She moves minutely, making her way across the night sky.

It is now 9.43 PM. You conclude that tonight is over, and begin to make your way over to the shrine again. With one last glance at the stars outside, you shut the door quietly.

---

You remember to unroll the futon this time around.

Unhooking the watch from your trousers, you place it into the waistcoat, folding it as neatly as you can, before setting it aside. You lie down, resting your head on the pillow provided. Much comfier. (Screw the wooden floor.)

You shut your eyes.

What will you dream of?

[] The sun.
[] The moon.
[] Today.

What is a good time to wake up?

[] 6.00 AM
[] 7.00 AM
[] 8.00 AM
>> No. 33959
[X] The moon.
[X] 6.00 AM

The Moon just because.
And 6.00 AM. The sun rises around 6:30 AM. Maybe a time magician would be comfortable seeing the time of day start?
>> No. 33960
[X] The sun.
-[x] 6.00 AM

No matter what I wouldn't be able to sleep pass 6 am on a new day.

also chores
>> No. 33961
[x] Today.

Why not dream of cute Touhous? Additionally, we can pick up a detail we missed, or maybe remember something interesting that happened today before adventure start.

[x] 6:00 AM.

Eight hours of sleep is enough.
>> No. 33962
[x] The moon.

We've already touched upon the sun, and clearly we have for today, so why not the moon?
>> No. 33963
[x] The moon.

We've already touched upon the sun, and clearly we have for today, so why not the moon?
>> No. 33964
[] The moon.
[] 6.00 AM .

Because no particular reason.
>> No. 33965
[X] The moon.
[X] 6.00 AM
>> No. 33970
[X]The Moon
[X]7:00 AM

Just one more hour!
>> No. 33972
[X] The moon.
[X] 6.00 AM
>> No. 33975
[x] The moon.
[x] 6.00 AM.

---

You behold the raidant moon.

How can you live on the moon? What is the point of living, if you never die? Living for the sake of living?

Purity in simplicity. A magnificent, honest mind can't survive there. Their thoughts are just not pure enough.

Pure iron cannot match impure steel point for point. But alloyed steel is complex, entangled.

A silver watch with full moon markings, dangles by slim fingers to serve an elegant figure.

Black and white, white and black, with no grey in between. You stand in the black, but toe the white.

You are running towards the light of the door. You reach out-

---

You wake up at 6.00 AM on the dot. You find yourself sitting up, breathing frantically.

You wipe the sweat off your brow.

The door swung open. No, the door slid open, and Reimu peeks in, her face deadly serious.

"Oy, you're making a racket. Save it for when I'm asleep, please?"

---

A breakfast of simple rice and leftovers helps to wake you up.

"Are you planning to stay in Gensokyo, Ambrose?"

"Until I know exactly who I am and what I was supposed to be doing, yes."

Reimu watches your face impassively, "That makes good sense, though I'm not sure you would be comfortable sharing the shrine with me forever, right?"

Tapping the low table for attention, Reimu continues, "I suppose then, you'd want to visit the village and see if you could get someone to take you in on a more permanent basis, or build you a house sometime soon. Besides which, you should probably also go and familiarise yourself with Gensokyo as a whole. If you don't, that birdbrain Aya would probably have written a whole series of absolute trash about you by now, and everybody would be speculating on what kind of worthless scum you appear to be, shacking up with a lonesome shrine maiden."

"Wait, what? A series of-"

"Aya is a reporter," Reimu explains, waving at a small newspaper clipping stuck to a shelf, "A particularly notorious, birdbrained sensationalist rascal,"

Soul Survivors?! Bunbunmaru reports!

There is a greyscale picture of a small girl with two swords, attempting to flee from the unseen cameraman. There is a look of absolute terror and confusion on her face as she runs through a busy street.

Hurm. Even from here, you can taste the tabloid press at work. You don't want your face splashed across the front page like that.

"She's probably already taken a couple of pictures yesterday, so she may already be spreading the word of your arrival," Reimu frowns, "Really, does she really have nothing better to do?"

Reimu fiddles with her sleeves for a moment, and you can see a couple more charms and seals stored within them.

"Alternatively, you could probably go to Marisa's or Alice's today, as both live in the Forest of Magic and both are good magicians. Marisa wanted to show you something or another. I don't know what, but knowing her, it's probably some odd mushroom she found or a book she stole from Patchy. Worst case scenario, she wants to duel you. Still, whatever she wants to show you, it must be important, because she invited you over personally. I think Alice is another good person to meet, given that she is one of the best tailors in Gensokyo," She waves at your attire, "I definitely think you'll need more clothes, you need to keep up appearances, particularly if you came in looking so handsome and refined, and I don't think other tailors could capture the charm of your current clothes. Don't want to give Aya any ideas either."

She thinks about it for a moment.

"You should also probably consider getting a hat and tie. Somehow, that outfit does not seem complete without a hat or tie."

You agree with the tie comment, but the hat? It would depend on the hat. You know there are a couple of good hats out there.

"Well, you'll probably need time to do whatever you need to do. Where do you plan on going first?"

"What do you plan on doing today?"

Reimu looks slightly surprised.

"... I actually planned on doing nothing much. Sweep the shrine, have a bit of a pray. Wait for that blasted head priest of mine to show up. See if anybody else stops by to hand in generous donations. Nothing much."

Her eyes suddenly dart to the ceiling.

"Actually, now that I think about it, I should follow you. Make sure Yukari doesn't get on my case for letting you get beat up or anything. So? Where d'ya want to go?"

[] "The village."
[] "The forest."
>> No. 33977
[x]Stay in the shrine
RAGE AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT BROTHER
>> No. 33978
[c] "The village."

Let's buy new clothes and a nice hat.
>> No. 33979
Well, there's not much point in setting up for permanent residence if we'll only be here for a day or two. (And it's not too unlikely that whatever we're here for will actually happen here, at the shrine...)

On the other hand, Reimu very clearly wants us the hell out of her shrine, ASAP.

[x] Ask if there's anyone in either location who could help you get your memory back.
- [x] If not... shrug, and defer to her judgement and preference on the matter.
- - [x] But inquire of Miss Hakurei if one might further impose upon her to act as one's second, should the need arise.
[x] Regardless of where we go, talk shop on the way: those seals of hers are excellent work.
>> No. 33980
[] "The forest."

Maybe another magician might know how to help.
>> No. 33981
[x] "The forest."

All the cool touhous live there.
>> No. 33982
[x] The village.

Let us adjust slowly, become a clockmaker, adopt Akyuu as our apprentice and live a simple, humble life with no regrets at the end.
>> No. 33984
[x] "The forest."

Gotta get clothes.
>> No. 33985
[x] "The forest."
We must obtain our hat.
>> No. 33986
[X] "The forest."

A hat? I already dread the next MC with a fedora... please, don't let it be a fedora this time...
>> No. 33987
If there's a vote, I'm gonna vote for hatless. White hair is rad enough.
>> No. 33988
File 13290044091.jpg - (34.72KB, 300x470, clock_king_.jpg) [iqdb]
33988
[x] "The forest."

>>33987

If we're going to talk about hats, I don't see why not a Bowler hat. It's not ostentatious looking and may even be fitting. If we're to avoid all hats altogether though then Ambrose may need to discover more of himself to see what is his "motif" aside with ties to Chronography.

Would that open the possibility of the protagonist going the way ofWilliam Tockman
>> No. 33989
[x] "The village."

Fedora are awesome. Take a fedora. And ties are cool. Cooler than bowties.
>> No. 33990
A panama hat might be an option (although it looks fedora-ish), the bowler hat is fine too and maybe a flat cap might work. It's funny that wikipedia says that "fedora" is a catch-it-all term for any male hat that has no name for its own.
>> No. 33992
[X] "The forest."
>> No. 33994
[x] "The forest."
- [x] Talk shop on the way: Those seals are excellent work.

---

The prospect of meeting two fellow magicians seems to be more appealing than going into the village.

"The forest. I think it'd be better to meet up with Marisa and Alice first."

Reimu bites her lip, "Right. Give me a moment to grab some things,"

---

Why is it that magicians always prefer solitude? And always within a forest, or somekind of twisty urban jungle, or a pocket dimension of some kind. Is it a natural tendency towards loneliness? It must be the magic. Magic is strong stuff, it doesn't interact well with others unless controlled.

You follow Reimu as you both walk down the (incredibly) long flight of stairs down the hill. She had excused herself earlier to fetch a staff of some kind, with tassels of paper on the end. Seems to be some kind of sealing/or exorcising staff. It seems to be very well used, judging by the slight dinks and scratches on the rod itself.

For a shrine maiden, she sure has a lot of interesting sealing and warding equipment.

"Reimu? May I ask a question?"

She barely slows down, but gives you a quick look. An affirmative by the looks of it.

"May I see one of those paper seals you carry around?"

Reimu digs into one of her sleeves with a free hand, retrieving a paper charm and hands it over to you.

You examine the simple paper charm. There is some simple red calligraphy surrounded by an equally simple red border. Looks simple enough. You turn it over.

This is possibly one of the most complex and powerful sealing charms you've seen for... a while. Several layers of sophisticated oriental-type magic suppression matrices, with a modification of the very reliable caster-directed duplex sealing system. This charm is very specifically tuned towards creatures of a supernatural bent, though the seal does not appear to be permanent; there is a distinct timed termination circle that is essential to the whole charm's structure. Should this be removed or omitted, the charm would simply be a piece of paper- Wait. H-how the hell did she place so many stabilisation and flight arrays on this thing?! What the hell is the firing range on this thing?! It's a bloody ticket-sized piece of paper for Merlin's sake, not a homing missile! And it's got a marvellously simple activation trigger as well, so any Tom, Dick or Harry with a jot of magic could use it. This is insane. A master-level enchantment, surely. Right?

"This is very a very... beautiful piece of work, Reimu," you begin, "Where did you learn to craft such charms?"

"It's just a simple sealing charm. Standard stuff every shrine maiden knows how to make."

You're not sure if that was a joke.

This charm would do some serious damage if used carelessly. This could potentially remove someone's ability to use magic for the next hour and cause them excruciating pain in the process.

This is ridiculously dangerous. You fire this at someone, they are toast. Very carefully sealed and thoroughly depowered toast.

"This is like, a master level charm. I've never seen anything like this before,"

Reimu shrugs, "You're a western mage, aren't you Ambrose? I heard that western mages don't usually do enchantment."

"It's not that we don't do enchantment, it's that we don't do enchantment on such a complex scale. We typically use personal sealing spells directly on the target, directed by ourselves."

"I suppose that makes sense," she concedes, "I don't hear many stories of western youkai being so threatening,"

"Youkai?"

"Sort of like, mostly mischievious mystical creatures. Fairies, oni, kappa, tengu... stuff like that."

You only have an inkling about fairies.

"What do they do to people?"

"Depends. In Gensokyo, I think only a couple of them still abduct and eat humans. The majority of them are just a bit rowdy at times. Oni are mostly okay, but they're strong and they really enjoy their alcohol; they can drink anybody else to the ground. They're not usually much of problem though, they're quite honest and straightforward.

The tengu are a secretive bunch, usually hanging around their mountain. Terrifically nosy bunch, always passing around rumours and other such nonsense. Really, they don't do much either. The exceptions would be that news reporter, but she's odd for a tengu, apparently.

Kappa are the most helpful bunch to be honest, they prefer to tinker and build some sort of fantastic machine. Just the other day, they built some kind of giant automaton, Hisoutensoku or something like that. I think they could do a lot for the village, if they could stop putting explosives into everything they make.

The fairies are just pests. I have a bunch of them behind the shrine. I don't know where they are right now though. Most of the time they are okay to be around, except for the occasional idiotic prank." She seems to tense up at the mention of idiotic, "There is this one very annoying blue fairy. But she is mostly a prankster who doesn't know how bad her jokes are. They tend to end in no one having the last laugh."

Matches up with what you know about fairies.

"And you say you need these charms to keep them in line?"

"Yeah. Anything less might as well be shooting blanks. Gensokyo's got a lot more ambient magic and faith around, so all sorts of mystical creatures get pretty strong here. You'd need the extra power."

"I see. Do you mind if I keep this charm for myself?"

She smirks at you, turning around and raising her sleeves so you can look inside-

"Go ahead, I have lots more of these,"

Good god. Hundreds and thousands of charms in there. How...

How bad is this forest of magic?

[Item added to INV: Hakurei Sealing Charm x1]

---
>> No. 33998
File 132902428246.jpg - (144.54KB, 800x600, forestofmagic.jpg) [iqdb]
33998
---

"So, could you tell me more about Marisa and Alice?"

Reimu thinks for a moment,

"Well, all three of us have known each other since... forever I guess. Marisa Kirisame usually introduces herself as an ordinary magician, which is a bit wrong. She's more of a thief if you go by the general opinion of Gensokyo. She's been living in the forest for quite a while, but I think she lived in the village when she was younger. Marisa's pretty strong as a magician, but most of her spells tend to go in the beamy, lasery types than anything constructive, so if you plan on asking her to fix your amnesia, she'd probably blow your brains out. Probably. She also experiments with mushrooms that grow in the forest."

She halts again, waving her arms frantically,

"N-no wait, that's not what I mean, she doesn't do mushrooms like that, she makes all sorts of weird potions and such from them. They all have very high magical content you see. She doesn't tend to eat them as they are."

Doesn't tend to? Hrmm.

"So she's an alchemist?"

"That's a rather sophisticated way of putting it,"

"And what about Alice?"

"Alice Margatroid is a magician who is skilled in the manipulation of dolls and puppets. She tends to make loads and loads of dolls and puppets. Pretty creepy for most of the people around here, so I suppose that's why she moved to the forest. Because of her skills, she's had lots of practice with sewing and craftmaking. If you want a dress or doll sewn, you go to her, though I doubt the villagers would trust her dolls to their children. She's pretty skilled at manipulating puppets remotely using her magic, no mean feat given that most of them have very sharp weapons, and she's also got a lot more general knowledge of magic than Marisa, so she'd be a good start to solving your memory problems."

A puppeteer. If the puppets are magically enchanted and autonomous, that seems to make her an enchanter of some repute.

"She sounds curious,"

Reimu's eyebrows twitch, "Curious how?"

"Are her dolls autonomous, by any chance?"

"Generally not, though I have a suspicion that at least two of them are alive. She tends to refer to them by name, so they should be easily figured out."

"Hurm. And you mentioned a Patchy earlier? Is she a magician by any chance?"

"Yep, she's a very strong magician as well. Patchouli Knowledge is probably one of the strongest magicians in Gensokyo, but she lives in the mansion on the other side of the Misty Lake, near Youkai Mountain. Normally, we'd fly there, but..."

"I can't fly."

"Yeah. You really should learn, it's a lot easier to fly around Gensokyo than walking, and it takes much less time."

So the shrine maiden can fly. Magical flight is something you should look into.

"In any case, walking there would take all day, and I don't exactly trust her mistress with you during the night, and I don't intend on staying at that mansion overnight."

"Mistress?"

"Remillia Scarlet is a vampire. Vampires tend to like human blood, especially magician's blood. I suspect that Patchy is way too sickly for Remi's liking, because she seems to be alive. At least... I think she is alive. You never really know with vampires. Patchouli would probably be the best source of information about general magic-related issues, but I don't think you'll be able to visit all three of them today. Most likely, you'll only be able to visit Alice and Marisa, because the human village is some distance away."

---

You two stop at a small fork in the path. The entire forest is mysteriously silent, which is unusual, given that not ten minutes ago you swear you could hear birds and probably some fairies giggling and playing.

Reimu taps her feet impatiently,

"Well, Marisa's house is to the left, and Alice's is to the right. Who do you want to see first?"

You look to the ground, thinking hard for a moment...

[] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.
[] The Ordinary Black Magician, Marisa Kirisame.

Wait... You feel as though you are being watched.

[] Let Reimu know.
[] Take out your watch.
[] Heck, do both.
[] "It's quiet..."

---

You know, William Tockman is someone I've never heard of before. Interesting reading on that fellow.

Also, does anybody know how to get in touch with the board mods to get rid of the preceding two posts? I messed up somewhere, and it is rather embarassing.
>> No. 33999
Okay, so I screwed up the posting somehow. I apologise for the inconvience.

This will be on a short hold whilst I try and sort this out.
>> No. 34000
Visit
[X] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.

[X] Inform Reimu+Grab watch
[X] "It's quiet..."
>> No. 34001
[X] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.

[X] Heck, do both.
[X] "It's quiet..."
>> No. 34002
>>33999
You see the checkboxes next to each post?

Check those you want to delete, and hit the delete button at the bottom right corner of the page. The password is based on your IP or something, and should be correct unless you're using a different machine or entered a specific password when you were posting.
>> No. 34003
[x] The Ordinary Black Magician, Marisa Kirisame.

[x] Heck, do both.
[x] "It's quiet..."

I'm gonna say it's the three fairies of light.
>> No. 34005
File 132903231352.png - (223.18KB, 282x408, Tempus_fugit.png) [iqdb]
34005
[X] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.
-[x] "it's quiet.."

>>33998
>William Tockman is someone I've never heard of before.

Aside from the big name villains William Tockman aka Temple Fugate (dohohoho) is one of those particular characters that just seem to stick out; someone that's not really a pastiche of any other minor or major character.
>> No. 34006
[X] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.

[x] Heck, do both.
[X] "It's quiet..."

We do need new clothes and Alice is more helpful than Marisa.
>> No. 34009
[x] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid.

[x] Heck, do both.


Time is already timeout.
>> No. 34010
Parts of this read like you're going down a dialogue tree. It's jarring.
>> No. 34011
File 132905360279.jpg - (169.28KB, 800x486, aliceshouse.jpg) [iqdb]
34011
[x] The Seven-Coloured Puppeteer, Alice Margatroid

[x] Heck, do both.
[x] "It's quiet..."

---

You slowly draw out your watch on instinct.

"Hey Reimu."

The shrine maiden stops, just ahead of you,

"Yeah Ambrose?"

"Don't you think this is strange?"

She looks around, scanning the treetops for movement, "You're right."

"It's way too quiet..." you begin, "Too quiet."

---

You both are standing there, watch and seals drawn. For a minute or two, there is near silence, as Reimu begins quietly chanting a prayer...

---

It has been three minutes now, and Reimu's arms are getting tired.

"Hey Ambrose, I don't think there's anything there," she breathes, lowering her staff,

You relax slightly. Well drat. You were fairly sure there was-

At the corner of your eye, you can see a shard of light travelling straight at you. In one smooth motion, you swing the watch towards the projectile, before letting the words come to your mouth:

"Bronze Buckler."

A nearby tree moans as a large burst of deflected energy flies into it, tearing into the bark. Instantly, Reimu lets loose a swarm of charms at the source of the magic, and you can hear hurried movement through the forest as they tear apart the trees. Satisfied that the threat is gone, Reimu spins towards you,

"You okay Ambrose?"

You lower the watch with a trembling hand, and a metallic shield drops with it, before dissipating harmlessly.

"Is this the usual greeting you get in the forest?"

"No. Pranks and tricks, at worse danmaku, but never offensive magic like that," she gazes at your watch, "Bronze buckler... that is a shielding spell, I assume?"

"Y-yes..."

"Useful skill to know," she says, placing a spare seal back into her sleeves. She examines the tree that was hit by the attacker, "Not in my Gensokyo..."

[Spell relearnt: Guard Shield - Bronze Buckler]

---

You both hurry along the right path into a small compound. There is a quaint white cottage there, and just outside, you can see a small figure in a maid's dress flying around the garden with a set of pruning shears, trying to get at errant tree branches. The maid figure turns to face you, before flying into the house via an open window.

As you both come closer into the compound, you become briefly aware of a simple bounded magical field surrounding the house. It probably is some form of early warning system for guests and the such, judging by it's blatant visibility to you.

Within moments, you are at the door, and before Reimu can knock, it opens.

"Good morning Reimu," the lady answers, "It's rather early for a visit, isn't it?"

"Let us in Alice, someone just tried to attack my guest," Reimu urges, pushing Alice into the house,

---

Alice Margatroid is a very normal looking person, which makes her a very unusual magician. She wears a simple blue dress, with a white shawl that conceals very short sleeves. Across her neck is a vibrant pink ribbon, with many frills. Glancing down, you can see that she is currently wearing very silky black socks that seem to go right up her dress. She is also a blonde, (my, you seem to be meeting a lot of blondes lately,) but her shorter hair is kept in close check by a red ribbon, threaded very carefully with more white frills.

All in all, very unusual for a magician.

"O-oh? Reimu, who is this?" she begins, "Your guest I presume?"

"Yes, and it seems as though he's become a target for some assailant," Reimu begins scanning the room's windows, directing you to stand just out of sight, "Alice, this is Ambrose,"

Alice curtsies, "A pleasure to meet you Ambrose. Alice Margatroid," she turns back to Reimu, "You say you've been attacked?"

"Yup, pretty close call as well. Luckily Ambrose here knows how to keep himself alive,"

"Not danmaku?"

"Pretty sure it was straight out offensive magic,"

Alice gestures towards a few shelves, and several dolls fly in from the other rooms, all dressed in dainty little maid outfits, and carrying all manners of dangerous and sharp implements. You're pretty sure you saw more than a couple of lances and shields amongst the crowd of knives and skewers.

"Ambrose, are you a magician by training?" Alice asks, as Reimu begins reinforcing the windows with several charms,

"Yes, but I'm currently having a bit of a problem remembering most of it."

Alice clicks her fingers, leading several dolls over to you, whereupon they circle defensively around you, shields raised as threateningly as possible,

"Troublesome, but you do remember a few spells, right?"

Just the one," you say, raising your pocketwatch, "A shield spell."

Alice briefly looks you over, "He really does remind me of Sakuya, Reimu,"

"Yeah, I thought so too," Reimu continues, satisfied at the number of charms attached to the supporting columns of the room. "To be honest though Alice, we came here to get his clothes sorted out."

Alice looks over you again, this time examining the you with much more scrutiny,

"Trousers, shirt, waistcoat... you really caught a charming one, Reimu,"

"Please," Reimu chides, continuing to stare through the windows.

---

After nearly 43 minutes, you all decide that the assailant (or assailants) don't plan on returning so quickly. Reimu collapses into a comfy chair and Alice motions for you to sit as well, which you do gratefully as the dolls stop their dizzying orbit around you and begin flying away.

"Geeze, why can't that Moriya girl deal with this stuff," Reimu moans, placing her staff onto the coffee table,

"It's because she is usually are involved in something else," Alice continues, signalling for the rest of her dolls to stand down.

As the legion of dolls begin to stream out of the living room, a single doll flies in, balancing a set of teacups very carefully on a small silver tray. It is wearing a much more complex dress than most of the other dolls, bearing a slightly more frilly dress and a large red bow keeping it's hair tied back. How cute.

"Thank you, Shanghai," Alice says accepting a cup from the doll, "Please, offer the guests some as well."

The doll hovers over to you, and stares at you with huge, beady doll eyes. It raises the tray at you, and you take the proffered cup,

"Thanks."

"Shanghai," the doll chirps, before floating over to Reimu, who takes the cup without as much grace.

Shanghai flies back towards Alice, settling down on her shoulder and continuing to stare at you.

"So, Mr Ambrose," Alice begins, picking up a small book and pen, "Reimu tells me you intended on getting more clothes sewn. Do you intend on keeping them in the same style, or do you have something else in mind?"

"I was hoping I'd get a couple more shirts and trousers. A similar waistcoat would be fine, but I don't need as many."

She nods, noting down your requirements as Shanghai flits off to the next room,

"I regret to tell you that I'm not so good with shoes, so you would probably want to go into the village to obtain any new footwear," she says, gesturing at you with the pencil, "I'll also need to know your sizes, so if you could please stand up?"

You stand up, and Shanghai returns with a roll of tape the size of her body and a companion, in similar attire.

"Shanghai, Hourai, if you please?"

----
>> No. 34012
"Pretty easily done, Reimu," Alice concludes as Shanghai and Hourai finish measuring you, "I suppose it's more of a matter of time then. I should be done with a shirt and a pair of trousers in two days."

Alice turns her attention to you again, "It's been a while since I met a new magician in Gensokyo, and a shield user as well," she gestures at the watch you have been fingering the whole time, "You really do remind me of Sakuya. She always carries around a watch, not too disimilar from your own."

Reimu finishes her third teacup, "If you didn't know better, you could say that there's some relation there,"

"Indeed. Reimu, have you seen Marisa lately?"

"She just came by to play yesterday. Didn't stay for dinner though."

Alice thumbs through another book, "I thought so; there weren't as many exploding noises coming from her side of the forest yesterday."

Both Reimu's and your eyebrows shoot up,

"Explosions?" you ask,

"Mmhm, explosions. She's been very quiet recently. She's usually like that when she's on the verge of figuring out a new spell. I wonder sometimes," she looks at you, noting your interest, "Did she invite you over Ambrose?"

"Yes, she said she wanted me to try something cool."

Alice shakes her head, chuckling to herself,

"I see. I think Marisa will be pleased."

---

You are inside Alice's living room at the moment, seated on a small, cosy couch. Across, you can see Alice sitting on a couch of her own, with Shanghai happily perched on her shoulder. Reimu is sitting to your left, slumped in annoyance as she soothes her aching arms. Hourai is floating around your head, satisfied in her examination of your white hair.

You check your watch. It is 9.48 AM.

You've got plenty of time to visit Marisa and get back to the shrine before nighttime.

What will you do?

[] Write in

---

>>34010

I apologise. I am mostly only good with dialogue. Especially descriptive and action-packed paragraphs are not my forte.

Also, congratulations to everyone on surviving the first terribly obvious ambush. Dramatists everywhere would be proud.
>> No. 34013
>>34012
So there are bad ends if we don't pick the hints, hu?


[x] "So, you're a wizard? Except the dolls, are you good with spells?" If you see another wizard casting a spell, maybe something else will come to mind.

But, writefag, you shouldn't rely on write-ins too much. Try to give another options. Some of us are really bad with write-in, and they'll jump on the first offered choice, even if it's bad.
>> No. 34014
[X] "You keep mentioning this Sakuya, can you tell me more about her?"
>> No. 34015
[x] "So, you're a wizard? Except the dolls, are you good with spells?" If you see another wizard casting a spell, maybe something else will come to mind.
[X] "This dolls are really cute, are this your favourites?"
[X] "You keep mentioning this Sakuya, can you tell me more about her?"

This should be good, I hope.
>> No. 34016
> Also, congratulations to everyone on surviving the first terribly obvious ambush.

So there's more? Sure, I'm fine with getting more spells easily.

[X] "So, you're a wizard? Except the dolls, are you good with spells?" If you see another wizard casting a spell, maybe something else will come to mind.
[X] "This dolls are really cute, are this your favourites?"
[X] "You keep mentioning this Sakuya, can you tell me more about her?"
>> No. 34017
[X] "You keep mentioning this Sakuya, can you tell me more about her?"
>> No. 34018
[x] "This dolls are really cute, are this your favourites?"

Let’s make this write-in highbrow and sophisticated.

[x] “From what I’ve seen and heard so far, you gave me an impression of a very skilled magician. Automata control aside, what fields of magic have you mastered?”
[x] “Your craftsmanship is commendable. Building such a detailed doll is similar to building a clock, am I correct?”
[x] “You keep mentioning Sakuya. Can you tell me more about this person?"
>> No. 34019
File 132908330243.jpg - (121.42KB, 300x600, Gentleman.jpg) [iqdb]
34019
>>34013 here. Switching my vote to:
[x] “From what I’ve seen and heard so far, you gave me an impression of a very skilled magician. Automata control aside, what fields of magic have you mastered?”
[x] “Your craftsmanship is commendable. Building such a detailed doll is similar to building a clock, am I correct?”
[x] “You keep mentioning Sakuya. Can you tell me more about this person?"

Don't remember my other password, so can't erase my first vote.
>> No. 34020
[x] “From what I’ve seen and heard so far, you gave me an impression of a very skilled magician. Automata control aside, what fields of magic have you mastered?”
[x] “Your craftsmanship is commendable. Building such a detailed doll is similar to building a clock, am I correct?”
[x] “You keep mentioning Sakuya. Can you tell me more about this person?"

These choices are locked in.

I'll be back later to write more. IRL stuff is occuring. This requires my full attention
>> No. 34021
[x] “From what I’ve seen and heard so far, you gave me an impression of a very skilled magician. Automata control aside, what fields of magic have you mastered?”
[x] “Your craftsmanship is commendable. Building such a detailed doll is similar to building a clock, am I correct?”
[x] “You keep mentioning Sakuya. Can you tell me more about this person?"
>> No. 34026
[x] “From what I’ve seen and heard so far, you gave me an impression of a very skilled magician. Automata control aside, what fields of magic have you mastered?”
[x] “Your craftsmanship is commendable. Building such a detailed doll is similar to building a clock, am I correct?”
[x] “You keep mentioning Sakuya. Can you tell me more about this person?"

---

"From what I've seen and heard so far, Alice, you seem to be a very skilled magician. Besides the obvious field of automata control, what would happen to be your other specialities?"

Alice looks up from her book,

"Hum? Oh, apart from the puppeteering, I tend to work more on the practical side of conjuring and a spot of alchemy. It typically helps to keep the house and the dolls in order," she explains,

Hourai has now considered your head an excellent place to sit on, and is trying to ruffle it up as best she can.

"This one is rather cute," you say, trying to keep as still as possible, "Hourai, was it?"

"Hourai."

"Yes, that one is Hourai," Alice laughs, "Along with Shanghai, she's one of the more sophisticated dolls I have, though she does have some odd habits compared to Shanghai. I don't think she's ever tried to sit in Marisa's hair though. Is it a bother?"

Hourai is now nestled neatly in your hair, and her feet are tapping against your forehead.

"No, it's fine, I can think of worse things sticking in my hair."

"Hourai."

You put away your watch,

"So, tell me a bit more about what you specialise in."

Alice summons a doll into the room, briefly grasping at thin air. You can begin to see a razor thin line stretched between her fingers, a very unusual chain-linkage spell. Focusing more intensely, you can see several such spells extending from all of Alice's fingers to various areas of the house. You roughly count around twenty over such strings, an impressive feat.

"This is the extent of my puppeteering skill," she explains, "I have full control over many of the dolls in the house, and garden. Most of them are on simple, easily automated tasks, such as sweeping or trimming the garden. I can give more thorough control to a fewer dolls, allowing them to do more complex tasks, such as sewing or cooking."

She gestures towards Shanghai and Hourai,

"Shanghai and Hourai are two of my more successful experiments into greater automation. They are more or less capable of simple independent action, but they do sometimes need to be directed to do very complex tasks. And all of my dolls are capable of wielding weapons."

You hear various unsheathing noises, and many of the dolls around you, Hourai included, suddenly wield various polearms, knives and other such pointy instruments. Alice clicks her fingers again, and they all resume what they were doing, though Hourai however, keeps hold of a rather nasty looking razor,

"That ties in with my conjuring ability; I can conjure many weapons and shields, though only on a small scale, too small for practical use with full sized people, but otherwise excellent for dolls. I daresay I am one of the best conjurers in Gensokyo, bar Patchouli, though her conjuring tends towards the classical eastern elements."

You gesture towards a maid doll hovering nearby, doing nothing much in particular,

"May I examine one?"

Alice looks a bit worried, but she nods hesitantly. You should probably be careful. Reaching out with one hand, you tap the doll on the shoulder, and carefully guide her over to you. It stares at you with beady glass eyes.

The doll's dress and hair are immaculate, though slightly less detailed than Hourai or Shanghai. They do superficially resemble Alice. It is fully apparent in the shape of their face and the eye colour. They even wear a similar outfit to Alice; a blue dress with a pink ribbon tied around their neck and a simple white apron to finish the ensemble. However, they seem to have longer hair, tied back with a large red ribbon. The joints are hardly noticable as well, and they seem to move with great freedom in all directions.

Searching for magical traces, you can detect a beautifully simple manipulation spell, with a very small automation circle attached to it right along the spine of the doll. You think you can see the magical link connecting somewhere around the neck area. It is unusually weighty for its size. If they're wooden as you suspect, then...

"Are they filled with anything weighty? Iron fillings perhaps?"

"I tend to fill the regular ones with some of my own black powder mixture," she explains, calling the doll back to her, "A very stable compound of my own design, mind you. I don't fancy parts of my house blowing up just because one of them twitched the wrong way."

She examines the doll herself, straightening out the tiny ruffles in its dress with a mother's touch, before nudging it away to continue dusting the shelves,

"Crafting such a complex and detailed doll must be very time consuming work, similar to... clockmaking, to make a comparison."

Alice has finally put down the book, and crosses her legs as she faces you,

"I'd have to disagree there. Some dolls are much more complex than others. That said, there are some 'dolls' which I use that are much, much simpler than any of my other dolls. Similarly, some of my dolls are simply not functional," She gestures to a brown haired doll on one of the shelves, "That one for instance, is more of a show piece than anything else. Those exhibition dolls tend to be much more delicate than my standard complement, and I don't fill them with any sort of explosive material, nor do I enchant them in any way besides basic self-maintenance charms,"

She summons another doll into the room with a cup of water,

"It is more of a question of their overall purpose and direction, rather than any arbitrary ruling that all dolls must be complex or simple."

"I see."

---

By now, Reimu is half-way to sleep, and you can see Shanghai floating over to try and prop her head up.

You take out your watch, and examine the back casing again.

A simple crescent moon has been etched into the brass casing of the watch, and you can see your name, Ambrose, engraved with similar care in the simple script of your master's hand. A simple, functional timepiece that seems to be your master's calling card.

Sakuya. Both Alice and Reimu said that you resemble Sakuya.

"Alice, Reimu?"

Both women look at you,

"When you said I resembled Sakuya... who did you mean?"

Alice answers first,

"Well, we meant you were very similar to Sakuya Izayoi, head maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. A fanatically loyal, perfect and elegant maid, with the ability to manipulate time and a penchant for using razor sharp knives at her own discretion."

Time magic. She can use time magic. This begs investigation.

Reimu nods her agreement, "You have the same sort of hair colour as she does, you both dress well, you both have a thing for formality and politeness, and you both have fairly expensive looking pocket watches," she states, waving her sleeves in your general direction, "You know, it might pay for you to visit the mansion in the next few days. We could probably visit Patchy as well, try and see if she has any clue about your amnesia, or any sort of information about magic you might have. Kill a couple of birds with one stone."

Alice looks worriedly at Reimu, "You don't suppose he's related somehow?"

You flip your watch over to check the time. 10.49 AM.

---

There must be some relation between your amnesia and your magic. There has to be. You try to recall whatever you can of your youth. You can definitely remember your master’s lecture underneath the tree in the park. You are beginning to struggle as you try to go right past that moment...

It’s no good. Your attempts to remember are met with a blinding haze of mental pain. Massaging your temple, you begin to think of more recent events.

You were specifically targeted by the unseen assailant, but you instinctively cast Bronze Buckler to protect yourself. Instinctively cast... maybe?

You stand up with undignified haste, dislodging Hourai from your head most suddenly. She hovers in front of you, pouting in minute doll rage, before flying over to Alice and glaring at you from behind her head.

“I think I need some time outside,”

Reimu raises her half-finished cup of tea, “Run inside and warn us if you get attacked again. I don’t intend on scraping you off the ground after all that trouble.”

“Understood.”

---
>> No. 34027
---
It is a bright and sunny day in Gensokyo. The canopy of the forest does not reach over Alice’s cottage, and you can see a few clouds moving across the clear blue sky.

You draw out your watch, entering a rough ‘ready’ stance, like the one you took when you were ambushed. Slowly, you point the watch face so that it faces away from you, in a ‘shooting’ position, with your watch hand outstretched, and your free hand in a guarded position.

“Bronze Buckler.”

A brass coloured shield materialises near instantly in front of your watch. A directional, hand guided shield, designed to deflect and/or absorb incoming strikes of all kinds.

Wonderful. There seems to be some phantom weight, and you can feel some pressure on your arm to keep it up.

But this feels right.

You sweep your watch hand to the side in a smooth motion, letting the, getting a rough feel for the stance, and you let your body move as it feels for the right direction.

You soon pick up on a steady flow, sweeping your arm from side to side, beginning to draw the watch across your body in various defensive stances, and you can see how the shield is drawn to protect any part of your body at any given time.

Dismissing the shield itself is a bit clumsy; you try several casual flicks, as well as lowering your arm at a steep angle. It is only when it occurs to you that you merely need to dismiss it mentally, that it flickers away, nearly as quickly as it appeared the first time.

Beginning to get a better grasp of your shield, you begin assuming a pseudo-boxing stance, and begin cautiously jabbing with your watch hand, watching as your shield moves precisely as you flick outwards. The shield seems awkward for use as a weapon, for obvious reasons.

Yet, this feels correct. Somehow.

As you continue to flick your wrist and strike at a phantom target, letting your body move of its own accord, you feel your mind clearing. The movements and the strain seem to be almost effortless, and as you continue to swing your arms, you feel like....

---

... you could die of exhaustion at any moment.

Ambrose is 11 years old, and he is currently in a fortified training room, moving his arms around in slow, steady sequences.

“S-sir... can’t I stop for a break?” Ambrose asks, pausing mid-stance, “I’ve been doing this for two hours now.”

The old man taps his walking stick on the stone floor for attention.

“No. You will keep doing so until I am satisfied you are more familiar with those stances.”

Ambrose bites his lip, the sweat dripping off his brow,

“Are you sure I can’t use something... lighter than Bronze Buckler for this?” he asks, momentarily dropping his outstretched arm.

The old man raps him sharply on the head with his fingers,

“Your arm has dropped. Back to it.”

And with that, Ambrose relents, swinging his arm around his body for the umpteenth time in the past two hours.

---

Ambrose is stretching his exhausted arms behind his head, his watch carefully stowed away in his pocket. The old man hands him a bottle of water,

“Now what is the purpose of this exercise?” he asks,

The boy wipes his forehead with a free hand, considering his options. He quietly recites:

“You want me to learn these stances so that I can perform them as quickly and as intuitively as possible, thus better preparing me for any situation I may encounter.”

The old man nods, “Excellent. No pupil of mine will be accused of being vulnerable. I want to be able to see you use the Bronze Buckler from any angle, position or situation at any given time. I will accept no less of a pupil of mine.”

He checks his own watch,

“It’s 5.34 in the afternoon. Time for your studies.”

Ambrose groans, reaching into his pockets...

---

... you never remembered it being this tiring.

As you lie in a crumpled heap, exhausted from your mindless movement, you let your body recuperate as best it can. As you try and figure out what you’ve just remembered, you can feel a strange trembling in your watch hand.

Raising it up above you, you can see that your pocket watch has begun pulsing with a gentle light. You point the face at the blue sky above,

“... buckler?”

Something. You can remember it. It’s just, right there, at the tip of your tongue.

Brawler’s Buckler.”

The watch pulses violently, releasing a softball sized burst of energy, leaping about a hand’s width from the watch in a split second, before retracting almost as quickly.

Despite your body’s protests, you struggle to your feet again. Assuming the same pseudo-boxing pose, you painstakingly jab one last time with your watch, seeing the pulse of energy strike out with lightning speed.

Success.

[Spell relearnt: Battle Shield – Brawler’s Buckler]

“Hourai...”

“Shanghai!”

You glance over at the cottage, where you can see Shanghai and Hourai watching you from their perches on the windowsill. Hourai looks mildly amused, while Shanghai seems to be somewhat interested. Right behind them, Alice sticks her head out of the window, just above the dolls,

“Do you intend to continue, or do you want to have lunch now?” she asks,

You mentally figure the time... it should be around 11.34 AM.

“Lunch please.”

---

Alice has made sandwiches for all of you. As you pick up a triangle of mixed vegetables and meat, you get a subtle feeling that all is right with the world.

As you munch through a third sandwich, you feel vaguely comforted by the apparent familiarity of the foodstuff, whereas Reimu seems to nibble at them uninterestedly.

---
“I see you practice a more martial set of magics,” Alice notes as she rinses the dishes, “I’ve never quite seen a shield user fight in such a manner, but then again, there aren’t many shield users in Gensokyo. I would have thought you’d favour more of the projectile spells, like Patchouli.”

You shrug, collecting the glasses as best you can, trying not to aggravate your aching wrists,

“I suppose my master thought this was the best style of magic.”

“Indeed. And what an interesting master you must have had; that was unusually intense for a simple practice session,” Alice finishes, handing off another plate to a doll.

You check your watch again, wiping the slight layer of water on the face. It is now 12.43 PM.

It took you a while to walk through the forest, and that was before the threat of random attacks was factored in. Reimu appears to be in no hurry, and is currently lounging away in the living room, flicking through several of Alice’s books by herself.

Maybe...

[] ... you should head off to Marisa’s house. Thank Alice for being a gracious host and head over as soon as you can.
[] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.
[] ... Marisa can wait a while. Ask Alice if you could take a look at her study and workshop.
[] ... Marisa can wait a while. See if you can get some more information about Gensokyo from Reimu and Alice,
--[] Specify a question.

---

[About Flashbacks]

Flashbacks are always written in the third person, so you'll be able to more easily distinguish them from normal sequences.

You tend to learn something new or interesting in a flashback, though you can't really force them out. They'll come and go as they please.

If a flashback has decisions to be made, all choices are 100% guaranteed not to kill you, as that would result in an obvious time paradox.
>> No. 34028
[x] ... you should head off to Marisa’s house. Thank Alice for being a gracious host and head over as soon as you can.

>If a flashback has decisions to be made, all choices are 100% guaranteed not to kill you, as that would result in an obvious time paradox.
Yeah. We can't be sure about the rest of the cast, so be careful anyway.
>> No. 34029
[x] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.
>> No. 34031
[x] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.

Why not?
>> No. 34032
[x] ... you should head off to Marisa’s house. Thank Alice for being a gracious host and head over as soon as you can.

A bit off topic, but can we design our spells/influence what spells we relearn? “Reflective Buckler” (a barrier that would shift the time phase of the impacting spell and send it back in reverse) would prove useful.
>> No. 34033
[x] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.
>> No. 34035
[x] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.

Works for me~!
>> No. 34040
[x] ... you should head off to Marisa’s house. Thank Alice for being a gracious host and head over as soon as you can.
>> No. 34041
[x] ... you should head off to Marisa’s house. Thank Alice for being a gracious host and head over as soon as you can.
>> No. 34042
[X] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.
>> No. 34043
[c] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems somewhat bored.

I'm okay with this.
>> No. 34044
Is the writefag already getting tired of this story?
>> No. 34045
>>34044

Real life delays perhaps?

The writer with the Schizist(sp?) protagonist on /others/ had his laptop die on him so...
>> No. 34046
>>34044

Writefags do their best now and are preparing. Please wait warmly until it is ready.

---

[x] ... you should ask Reimu what she wants to do. She seems bored.

---

As you walk back into the living room, you try to look over Reimu's shoulder for a better glimpse of the book she seems so absorbed in.

Interestingly, the book appears to be some kind of dress catalogue. The current page seems to be extolling the... virtues of a healthy womanly figure, in what appears to be a traditional European ball gown, sewn with all the trimmings, in deep red silk. It occurs to you that, given some time, Reimu would probably look quite nice in such a dress.

You take the moment to quietly nudge Reimu on the shoulder, startling her as she tries to shut the book.

"Hey Reimu, I'm done helping out Alice with the clearing up. Have you got any other plans here?"

"Not really, no," she begins, sliding the book back into Alice's shelves, "Do you have anything else you want to do with Alice, maybe?"

"I don't think so. That was why I was asking you."

"W-well, I don't have any good ideas right now,"

"Neither do I."

As you both stand there, trying to rack your heads for an inkling of an idea, Alice pops her head into the room,

"I think it's a good time to go see if Marisa has woken up yet," she suggests, "She popped by very late last night, and asked if I could come over to help her sort out her house again."

Reimu rubs her forehead in exasperation, "Is she still not taking care of herself then, Alice?"

"I'm afraid so Reimu. She's been very excited about something lately, though she won't tell me what."

“I guess I should go and beat some sense into that thick head of hers,”

“That would be very much appreciated,” Alice smiles.

---


As you continue back into the forest, having thanked Alice for lunch, you quietly turn to Reimu,

"Does Marisa have problems taking care of herself?"

"Tch. Marisa is a bit careless when it comes to living. Most of the time, she's okay at keeping her house in order, but when she’s on the verge of figuring out something new, she just loses whatever self-control she has and lets the mess get the better of her. In a sense, I think that's why she tends to go visit people often."

Marisa's supposed carelessness strikes a chord somewhere in the back of your mind. You can vaguely remember how messy your own master's apartment was, with books and assorted magical tools scattered throughout the study and halls.

There must be some method in the madness for most magicians to survive, given their solitary nature.

You begin turning your attention to the surroundings, more vigilant to the threat of the assailant (or assailants,) coming for another go at you. The forest has returned to its vibrant, colourful state, the natural world in its finest capacity.

Beautiful flowers, of various shapes and sizes dot the path back to the fork, a touching detail you overlooked in favour of clumsy haste from earlier this morning. In the distance you can hear the playful giggles of minute fairies and the sounds of various animals as they graze and forage. All around you, you can sense the tingling of magical energy in the air. You can recall from a distant memory that magic breeds magic, and such a wonderfully energetic location is sure to generate some interesting magical properties in the local wildlife.

This would make an ideal place for a permanent home; you could probably set up a thriving workshop of your own here. Indeed, Marisa must be constantly making such bold and incredible progress in her studies in the forest. The sheer diversity of magical flora and fauna at the location would easily make any magician’s career, should they take the time to experiment and catalogue their potential uses.

It is no wonder Marisa is having sleepless nights. The thought of such industrious innovation excites you greatly as you and Reimu take the turn into Marisa’s side of the forest.

However, as you approach your destination, you are beginning to have some minor doubts as to the... overall safety of the area. The number of trees with disturbingly large burn marks and holes, the increasingly frequent charred stumps and half-vaporised rocks and the veritable carpet of fungi lining the path are starting to disturb you. Hopefully nothing bad has happened to Marisa.

Reimu however, takes it in stride, marching up the path authoratively into the clearing beyond. Seeing as she seems fairly confident, you follow straight after her, your hand on your watch, just for good measure.

Like Alice’s house, Marisa’s cottage is in the European style, being made out of solid brick and mortar and located just in the middle of the clearing. However, the other magician’s house was much less overgrown than this: you can see various thick vines creeping across the entire house and there are the occasional cracks in the walls that you think you can just about make out.

Reimu has already begun rapping at the door with undue force. As you come closer, you realise that the entire area around the house is simply thick with rich magical energy. Sensing no reaction from within, Reimu turns the doorknob and simply walks into the house.

---

As you wait for Reimu to find Marisa, wherever she may be sleeping, you begin examining her... well, you can’t quite call it a living room. It’s more of a dumping ground:

Piles and piles of books, in various shapes and sizes, gilded covers and ornate spines aplenty are strewn across any available surface. The shelves are no better, being home to a variety of odd bottles and vials of curious liquids and tints, odd leaves, the occasional untidy pile of notes and papers. Continuing to survey the damage, you take a glance at the low coffee table, just beside a ragged sofa, where you can see notched plates and cutlery underneath a frilly set of... oh.

Those appear to be her brassieres.

Hurm. Yes.

Her brassieres.

Turning your attention to anything other than the used undergarments, you can see more of her discarded clothing and other assorted knick knacks lying around the floor, posing an incredible tripping hazard to the unattentive, adding to the casual dangers of the various magical tomes scattered around the room, some of which are clearly glowing with impatient magical rage, demanding to relinquish their forbidden knowledge at the earliest convenience. Thankfully, at least Marisa's broomstick is propped up neatly against another bookshelf, along with her pointy witch’s hat perched on the handle. Broomsticks are notoriously twitchy when unattended and you feel that any sudden movement in this room could result in a catastrophic chain reaction of events.

This area is quite simply the aftermath of several days of a magician’s inattentiveness. It really does feel nostalgic though. You can hear some thumping, accompanied by a girlish scream, then some muffled reprimands. Reimu must have found Marisa.

You suppose you could do something while you wait for Marisa to get herself sorted.

[] Examine a book in one of the piles.
[] Walk around and explore Marisa’s place.
[] Try and clean up the room a tiny bit.
[] Follow the whimpers of apology to the source.

---

I apologise for the wait but again, RL affairs take immediate priority. Do you want more frequent status updates as compensation, perhaps?
>> No. 34047
[x] Examine a book in one of the piles.

>Do you want more frequent status updates as compensation, perhaps?
I'd rather not. Keep the non-stories update to a minimum, if possible. Fooling around is fine, but I don't want you to say "update soon", and then go "RL stuff, update reported".
>> No. 34048
[x] Examine a book in one of the piles.

Preferably a non-magical book that will not explode in our face. Preferably from a pile of non-magical books that don’t have the capacity for exploding when disturbed.

Regarding status updates: I second >>34047.
>> No. 34049
[] Examine a book in one of the piles.

Because intruding in someone's house is rude.
>> No. 34050
[x] Examine a book in one of the piles.

We need to practice our Perfect and Elegant Guest skills.
>> No. 34051
[X] Examine a book in one of the piles.

Would have picked "trying to clean up" but considering how the mess makes him nostalgic of his old maaster; he may see or understand the reasoning behind the mess better than any one else aside Marisa herself.
>> No. 34052
[x] Follow the whimpers of apology to the source.

From the tide's depths I piss at thee.
>> No. 34054
File 132937255928.jpg - (597.22KB, 820x1093, d4a461b2d6024d518411e1b915722a6f.jpg) [iqdb]
34054
> [] Try and clean up the room a tiny bit.

Because if we're going to be a rule-63'd Sakuya, we might as well go all out.

But seriously, just [x] EXAMINE BOOK. Preferably one we can glare into submission.
>> No. 34055
File 132940360859.jpg - (82.31KB, 563x328, RLindersGlossary.jpg) [iqdb]
34055
[x] Examine a book in one of the piles.

---

Seeing as there seems to be an abundance of perfectly good books in front of you, you decide to pick one at random and try your luck. You of course, avoid the obvious troublemakers, such as the aptly entitled Evard's Book of Summoning and An Abridged Demonstration of Phlogiston Manipulation.

Instead, your eyes drift to a rather plain looking book, the cover bound in plain black leather and functional gold lettering. But what attracts you more is the obvious thickness of the book; it is easily three times as thick as any of the other books in its pile, and the pages are clearly in good condition, probably due to a conservation charm or something similar, given that its current environment is likely to be highly corrosive and damaging to most books.

After shifting the smaller journals above it to a relatively empty spot, you get a better glimpse of the cover itself:

A Glossary of Various Magical Devices and Foci, 5th Edition,
Compiled by R. Linder


Turning to the front page, you can see in clear, loopy handwriting:

Property of Ms. Patchouli Knowledge,
Voile Archive


Hurm. You quickly pick up another book, and find that it too has the same inscription on the first page. And the next one. And the next one after that. In fact, after 30 seconds of such casual checks, you have a feeling that the majority of the books here are most likely horrendously overdue, or stolen. Actually, now that you think about it, they must be stolen. The sheer number of books in this room (and, you note with increasing alarm, the next one,) would most likely have decimated any magician's archive to a substantial degree. You feel as though you should have a word with Marisa about her kleptomania.

Disregarding that, you begin to sift through the Glossary's very long contents list, listing all manners of arcane artefacts and magical tools, most of them well known, some of them infamous and others... ignominious. In particular, Linder has taken the time to catalogue them according to type of artefact.

You quickly scan down the index of artefact categories, and see something interesting:

Watches, Clocks and Other Magical Timekeeping Devices

While this section appears small in comparison to the others above and below it, this looks interesting to examine nonetheless.

You sift through the mass of pages as best you can, slowly, but surely arriving closer at your destination. You are greeted by a rather plain diagram of a simple clockface, along with the aforementioned section title.

You turn the page, and are immediately rewarded with an incredibly comprehensive introduction to magical watches, most probably written by Linder himself:

While I myself have never been a particularly good man at keeping time, not to mention completely unable to begin the intriguing study of magical chronology, I am in the understanding that this field of magic is one of the most secretive in the current era, having an estimated 41 practitioners throughout both the western and eastern world.

From what little truth I can glean from heresay and investigation, chronologists specialise in the manipulation of time itself, a most potent and dangerous magic, useful for a variety of purposes, both mundane and mythical. There have been many stories regarding the founding of this field of magic, from being derived from the rituals of ancient cults of the moon, to the vicarious experimentation of bored watchmakers and mechanists.

But the most common story I am told by my reputable sources of information at the Spell-Archive of Greifswald, is that chronology stems from the illustrious work of a wonderfully obscured figure, Assai Deltories, a legendary master within the field, who made many magical advancements in technique and could be considered one of the founding figures of modern chronology.

But I digress. This section is dedicated to the mystical foci utilised by the magicians of the field of chronology, and other such devices used by other magicians. Once again, I have tried to include as much truthful detail as possible, but there may be factual errors as a result of ambiguities due to the artefacts in question being lost, hidden or destroyed.


Bravo, Mr Linder.

You begin examining the first few pages, packed to the brim with information and informative (well, mostly informative,) diagrams of pocket watches, sand-timers, sun dials and other such timekeeping devices, each of them with their own marvellous and distinct history, spanning several pages in some cases.

But, one entry in particular intrigues you. It has no sketch like the others and its entry is unusually short:

The Luna Dial
Also known as: the Lunar Dial, the Silver Dial

One of the most legendary artefacts of all chronology, the Luna Dial is probably one of the greatest time pieces in the history of mankind. Known to most non-practitioners as a fairly unusual myth, the Luna Dial is said to have abilities to ease the manipulation and direction of time, allowing any time magician the ability to more easily make time do as he wishes.

Details of the watch are scarce, owing primarily to its mysterious disappearance around the year 1873. From what few details I can source, the watch was said to have been made around 1830, with a bloody history of death, many magicians fighting for control of the time-piece. The last known owner, Johannes Ansgar, passed away in 1832, and his will makes no mention of the mythical pocket-watch.

I can also source no real description of the watch, and it seems an injustice to speculate on an artefact with such a history. Most details obsess on unearthly lustre of its casing, which was said to be a brilliant silver colour, hence its other name of the Silver Dial. There are some legends of it being made from unearthly materials, though I could never quite get any more details from those I ask.


Hurm. Easing the manipulation and direction of time? It must be heavily enchanted and designed to naturally monitor and manipulate time itself, no mean feat considering how resolute time is at keeping itself just so far away from reality.

Sounds fascinating.

A bleary moan startles you, and towards the hallway leading deeper into the cottage, Reimu drags a rather sleepy and confused Marisa into the room. She looks rather ragged, her hair bereft of her usual braided lock. Her white nightdress is unusually lacy... the lack of good, long sleep is obvious in her shambling footsteps.

It really is the stereotypical image of a magical student after a long, hard week of studying.

“Good afternoon Marisa. Did you have a long night?”

Marisa gives you a non-committal wheeze, scratching the back of her head absentmindedly as she tries to look for something of hers. Reimu helps Marisa over to the couch, clearing the small pile of clothes tossed hastily onto it,

Marisa takes a minute to shake herself awake,

“Man... when I said I wanted you guys over, I didn’t mean right the next day...”

She carefully prods at a small spot of... stuff on the table with her leg,

“Still haven’t cleaned up or anyfing...”

Reimu swats Marisa on the head with her sleeve, again sighing in exasperation,

“You don’t have to wait for Alice or me to come over to start trying to clear up you know,”

Marisa pouts quietly for a moment, before looking straight at you with hopeful eyes,

“So... Ambrose, didja come over to play or to work?”

[] “Work, mostly. I was interested in what you said were working on.”
[] “Well, you did say you wanted to let me try something cool, Marisa.”
[] “Actually, I was just sort of curious about your place. Looks cosy.”
[] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”
>> No. 34056
[] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

Sakuya Two: Butler-time Boogaloo
>> No. 34057
[] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

Well, she said she wanted to clean up.
>> No. 34058
[x] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

Because I imagine time-wizard as being obsessed by cleanliness.
>> No. 34059
>>34058
I'd believe that if Marisa's mess didn't remind Amrbose of his old master

>>34046
>This area is quite simply the aftermath of several days of a magician’s inattentiveness. It really does feel nostalgic though

Nonetheless, just because his master may have been haphazard with his possessions doesn't mean Ambrose picked up that habit, He very well may have tried to keep things in order in vain.

[x] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”
>> No. 34060
[x] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

And as for our reward for this heroic feat, we will politely ask Marisa to lend us the book about black tentacles clocks.
>> No. 34061
[x] “Well, you did say you wanted to let me try something cool, Marisa.”

Cleaning up is boooring...
>> No. 34063
[c] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

Of course.
>> No. 34064
[x] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

Who knows what we could find in all of that junk!
>> No. 34065
[x] “You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

---

“You know, whatever we plan on doing, I think it’d be better if we helped clear up, first.”

Marisa grumbles incoherently for a moment, before nodding in slight disappointment,

“Right... I guess we should get started then.”

As Reimu starts to tie Marisa’s hair back, you begin picking at the various piles of books lying around you...

---

[Much later...]

---

Quietly massaging your shoulders, you reflect upon the madness that drove you to attempt cleaning up a magician’s household mess. As you scan the room, you do agree that it was well worth the effort; the previously obscured floorboards are now slightly more visible, with many of the books in their (technically rightful) places on the shelves, their beautiful spines displayed enticingly and alphabetically, so that one may peruse them at leisure.

The low table is still somewhat grimy, but since all the dishes and assorted clutter has been lifted and dealt with, you can now see the interesting pattern of dried cup-rings dotting the table, forming a beautiful ellipse across the surface.

The vials and bottles have been successfully relocated to various cupboards and cabinets around the room, their contents definitely untouched and intact. It is somewhat surprising that there were no leaks or cracks in any of the vials, something which you can remember occurred distressingly often during your sessions with alchemy.

After quickly and efficiently removing all of Marisa’s discarded clothes from the room, Reimu has taken charge of the sweeping, having borrowed Marisa’s broomstick to conduct her patrol of the room, sweeping away the dust and trash to an unused corner of the room. She looks quite at peace as she sweeps in broad, well-practiced strokes.

Marisa is currently sifting through a small pile of sheets, checking her scribbling and notes as she begins stacking them on the remaining shelf space in some bizarre order of her own understanding. You think you can hear her muttering to herself about finding something she forgot about a long time ago.

You start speculating on how long this state of order will last here, given the unnatural haste Marisa seems to be ‘sorting’ at.

Checking your watch, you can see it is now 2.31 in the afternoon.

---

As you settle into a smaller chair, both Marisa and Reimu collapse into the couch. Marisa at least, has a slightly chipper and satisfied look on her face. The shrine maiden is as impassive as usual, bearing nothing more than a slight twitch in those lips of hers as Marisa stretches across the couch, nearly elbowing her in the nose.

“Thanks greatly guys,” Marisa says, leaning into Reimu slightly, “Really ‘preciate the help clearing up and all,”

Reimu pushes Marisa back to her side of the couch, “It’d be easier if you just cleaned up after yourself as you go along, you know,”

“I can’t help it Reimu, it’s just like a thing, like when I’m mixing up some potions, I forget to put away the mortar and beakers and everything, but then I’ll need it later anyway, a-and then I’d forget to put it away anyway because I forgot where it’d go and-“

“Stop trying to excuse your bad habits, and just do it once in a while,”

Marisa flashes you one of her best puppy impressions,

“C’mon Ambrose, don’t tell me you don’t do this sorta stuff sometimes too, right?”

You glance at Reimu, who is currently giving you a most lethal stare.

“I have to say that whilst I may be guilty of being slightly...” you struggle to find the words, “... disorganised at times, I’ve never quite let the mess get to this point. At least, not that I remember that many messy days.”

“Aww, Ambrose!” Marisa cries, tugging at her hair in spurious defeat. As she leans back into the sofa, you get a good glimpse at her. Her nightdress is more than ample coverage for her otherwise boyish figure, and her chest is definitely still developing. But her legs are quite well toned. Must be all the broomstick riding she does. One tends to get a lot of exercise when trying to wrangle a broomstick, or so you remember.

Like a coiled spring, Marisa leaps to her feet, letting out a cry of sudden insight. After telling you two to stay put whilst she went and got something, she dashes out of the room, back into the hallway and you can hear her thunderous footsteps as they clatter up a set of unseen stairs.

Reimu smirks, “Want to bet on what she’s bringing out? I’d bet ten yen it’s a potion.”

You carefully consider your chances. Running a basic mental inventory, you sit up.

“I’d bet something as well,” you begin, twiddling your thumbs, “But I’m afraid I’ve donated all of my money to you when I got here.”

The silence between you two permeates the room, even as Marisa’s fumbling can be heard from right above.

“Y-you gave me everything you had.”

“Yes, yes I did.”

Reimu’s face immediately returns to its usual, impassive state. Marisa lets out a squeal of success, and you can hear something loud and heavy crashing into the floor.

“I see...”

As Marisa storms back into the room, you can see that she is carrying a large box of what looks to be assorted junk. She unceremoniously dumps the contents onto the low table, and you can see all sorts of odd gears, various machine components and some obviously magical gubbins.

“Okay, okay. So I was strolling through the village the other day,” she begins, sifting through the pile of slightly rusty old scrap, “And I was taking a look at that weird stall the kappa have right by the village marketplace, and there was this box full of cool looking crap that they were trying to get rid of. So I was asking the kappa manning the stall what they did, and they told me that it was a box fulla old junk that got blown up earlier that day.”

She grins widely,

“So I asked em if I could take it off their hands, and they were like ‘Sure, why not.’ So I went ahead and brought the entire box over to Rinnosuke’s place. He told me that the stuff seemed to be mostly unidentifiable junk. But then he picked this one beauty up.”

She picks up a single, partially disassembled gear box. It appears to be part of a mechanism for some kind of machine...

“Rinnosuke picks up this box, and he tells me that this thing has some parts for some kind of alchemical engine.”

“You mean, like some kind of magic driven device, right?” you interject, taking a closer look at the gear box,

“Yeah! Just like that!” she says, shaking the box up even more. You think you saw a spring go flying out of it somewhere, “So he didn’t know what to do with it, and when I asked the kappa about it, they said that the girl who invented it said she didn’t want anything more to do with it.”

Reimu tilts her head in similar curiosity, “So why did you bring it out now?”

“Well~ I figured, since Ambrose looks to be a guy who’s good with his fingers, what with that wacky fiddling seemed ta be doing with his watch, I thought I’d let him have a go at trying to fix this some time,” Marisa says, as she dumps the gear system back into the box.

A complex gearing system for some sort of alchemical engine, partially destroyed and most definitely missing parts.

You quietly stand, picking up a single gear from the pile of junk. You walk over to the window, throwing the curtains open, and examine the lone gear against the sunlight streaming in.

You can make out markings, numerals and other various etchings on it. The teeth are still sharp and intact. You think you may indeed be able to work something out, if you had the time.

“I could probably figure something out,” you conclude, tossing the gear back with the others, giving Marisa your appraisal, “First, I’d need a proper workshop to get a better look at all of the components, the right tools to pick the thing apart and rebuild it, and as much time as I need to try and figure out what’s missing. But right now, I don’t think I could give it my best.”

Marisa laughs loudly, giving you a firm, friendly hug, which you return somewhat awkwardly,

“Thanks a lot Ambrose!”

---

After she clears away the remains of the alchemical engine, Marisa heads off to her bedroom to get dressed. Reimu is now surveying the room from her seat, wary of picking out a random book to while away the time, an understandable action, given the nature of the books around here.

You rub your fingers together, feeling the slight layer of old oil and rust, surreptitiously wiping them on Marisa’s couch. You immediately begin to regret that, and try to wipe the grime off the chair as best you can, only to be met with abject failure.

Regrets aside, you really can’t think of very much you can do, right off the bat:

[] Try to see if there is anything else good to read on the shelves.
[] Look at some of the things lying about the room, like...
--[] Marisa’s collection of odd magical devices on the shelves.
--[] Those vials and bottles of chemicals in the cupboard.
--[] Some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[] Strike up a conversation with Reimu.
[] Write in.
>> No. 34066
[x] Look at some of the things lying about the room, like...
--[x] Marisa’s collection of odd magical devices on the shelves.

She had the Kusanagi sword, you can probably find something worthwile. And maybe you'll manage to convince her into giving it to you, in exchange for your help.

That'll need a lot of diplomacy, but you can do it.
>> No. 34067
[x] Look at some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[x] Strike up conversation with Reimu.

Epic multitasking.
>> No. 34068
[x] Look at some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[x] Strike up conversation with Reimu.
>> No. 34069
[X] Look at Marisa’s collection of odd magical devices on the shelves.
--[x] Strike up a conversation with Reimu

learning more about said magical devices as well as developing a better understanding of either Reimu herself or Marisa through conversation would do good for Ambrose.
>> No. 34070
>Reimu’s face immediately returns to its usual, impassive state.
You forgot to mention what it changed to. I shouldn't have to infer, even if it is obvious.
>> No. 34071
[X] Look at Marisa’s collection of odd magical devices on the shelves.
-[X] Strike up a conversation with Reimu


>>34070

Reimu smirked a few lines above that. Pay more attention.
>> No. 34072
[x] Look at some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[x] Strike up conversation with Reimu.

>“Y-you gave me everything you had.”
Reimu route opened
>> No. 34073
[x] Look at some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[x] Strike up conversation with Reimu.

This seems fine
>> No. 34074
[c] Look at some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[c] Strike up conversation with Reimu.
>> No. 34075
[x] Look at some of those framed pictures on the wall.
[x] Strike up a conversation with Reimu.

---

The pictures on the wall of the room intrigue you slightly. As you begin pacing around the room aimlessly, you draw your attention to the first of several framed paintings and pictures, which seems to be a rather beautiful rendition of a grand mountain, shrouded in mist.

Near the summit of the mountain, you can see several columns of wispy white smoke. The mountain is accompanied by a majestic waterfall, where you can see a minute rainbow streaking through the spray of water. You think you can make out a slight haze around the horizon...

The next frame is a small black and white photograph of what looks to be a younger, shorter haired Marisa in long, flowing apprentice robes, posing next to what appears to be an older woman, with much longer hair and an very characteristic pointy hat and mantle. They appear to be very close, and Marisa is giving a very wide grin to the camera, whilst the other woman is merely smiling demurely.

Marisa appears to have started training from a fairly young age as well. You wonder...

“Hey, Reimu?”

Reimu turns to face you, “Yes?”

“How long has Marisa been practicing magic for?”

It takes Reimu a moment to remember, “I think it was... maybe around ten years old? Hmm... It’s actually been a really long time since I first met her. Why do you ask?”

You point at the smiling woman,

“I was just wondering who that is. Do you recognise her, by any chance?”

Reimu doesn’t bother to get up, but squints as best she can at the photograph.

“I think that’s... Mima. Yeah, the hat certainly matches,” she mutters, suddenly looking quite nostalgic, “I remember trying to seal her up back a long time ago, when I only had those old Yin-Yang orbs. It was such a pain trying to get them to hit anything...”

“How long have you been a shrine maiden then, Reimu?”

“Oh... uh, I think it was... was it since...”

She seems to be thinking quite hard about her answer, tapping her head steadily as she tries to recall correctly,

“Definitely since I was around... nine... so that would make it... this year, about ten years.”

Wow. The sheer dedication one would have to give to be a shrine maiden impresses you. It reminds you of your own apprenticeship to your old master in so many ways.

“Were you always maintaining the shrine on your own?”

“No. The old man was around for a while- I mean the head priest of course,” she says, correcting herself instinctively, “He stopped making his usual visits after about a year or so. I think he was always going off to go get drunk or something. But in any case, he stopped visiting a long time ago, and it’s really just been me in the shrine.” She looks worried for a moment, "I hope he didn't stumble outside or anything while he was drunk."

“I see.”

You continue examining the next picture: another monochrome photograph of an older man, wearing a more traditional Japanese style robe. The man is wearing glasses and has a very serious, focused face, and you think his hair is greying, due to the way it seems so pale in the black and white photo. He appears to be posing in front of some kind of store front, with many interesting looking devices in the background.

“Who’s that?” you ask, pointing at the picture,

“Oh, that’s Rinnosuke Morichika. He’s a half-youkai who runs a small antiques shop just around the edge of the forest, more or less between the village and the shrine. The store deals in all sorts of things, especially things from the outside, but I don’t think anyone really visits it much.”

“He looks quite serious.”

Reimu chuckles to herself, “Oh, Rinnosuke’s a great guy, but he’s just a bit unfortunate in his choice of business. I heard he left another job to try setting up his store.”

“Hurm. I suppose he’s one of those types who choose to pursue their dreams with all their energy, right?”

“Yes, I guess you could say that,” she concedes, watching your little tour with renewed interest,

There is a set of newspaper clippings, with various other photographs, along with such incredibly thrilling and inappropriate headlines, in surprisingly large font.

There is a picture of Marisa flying on her broomstick towards an unknown destination, with the tag:

Reporter struck down by notorious witch on the prowl!

I was recently ambushed by the notorious black-white witch whilst investigating the current strange behaviour of flowering plants. I wonder what her role in this incident was?


Another picture of Marisa, this time streaking into a large window on her broomstick, presumably into a mansion of some kind:

Succeeded in taking a picture of Crime Scene of Midsummer’s Perpetual Burglar

Ever since the Red-Mist incident ended last month, there has been a surprising number of successive break-ins...


Hurm. Marisa does seem to be rather infamous in Gensokyo.

“Is this more of Aya’s work?” you ask,

“Yup, looks like it. I think that was an article from very far back.”

“Is the newspaper it came from any good?”

Reimu sighs, “I highly doubt that the Bunbunmaru Newspaper is particularly complimentary to anyone, especially given the rampant speculation Aya puts into it. You’ve probably been painted as some sort of creepy pervert, with undoubtedly sinister plans for Gensokyo as a whole.”

“Really?”

“Give it a while,” she suggests, “People don’t bother to read much; they mostly just skim over the paper’s headlines for a rough estimation of the current situation. They don’t really follow Aya’s line of thinking.”

You hope you’re not being given suspicious motives and looks at the moment. You should probably talk to Aya herself about that some time. The thought of having your face on the front page without your consent worries you.

You turn your attention back to the newspaper clippings:

There is a picture of Alice with an impressively large mallet, pounding some kind of straw doll into a tree bark, with what looks like Shanghai also (adorably) doing the same. Alice seems to have a particularly... determined face as she swings the mallet back.

Large number of Straw Effigies found in Forest behind Shrine

The act of affixing human-shaped dolls to trees in a hard-to-find place is an ancient ritual. It was a surprise to see it being practiced in modern times...


You point at the picture with some clear scepticism, “I suppose then, Alice doesn’t have a very good public image as well?”

“Huh? Oh... that article. I don’t think anyone actually bothered reading that particular one. I wonder if those dolls are still there though...”

---

Seeing as you’ve run out of framed images, you decide to return to your seat. Reimu seems to be in much better spirits now, and you can make out a slight smile on her face,

You surmise that it is now around 3.29 in the afternoon, and Marisa is still nowhere to be seen.

“I wonder how much longer Marisa is going to take.”

Reimu shrugs, leaning her head on the couch, “Who knows? Marisa is really predictable in her unpredictability, so she’ll probably turn in sometime soon if she hasn't gotten distracted by something.”

“Predictable in her unpredictability?”

“Yeah, it’s like, she’s probably going to do something rash, stupid and unpredictable if you provoke her, but at least you know for certain she’s going to do something like that.”

The concepts of chaotic mechanisms and strange attractors begin coming to mind as Reimu explains. The idea of predictable chaos and emerging order from said chaos has never really been your strong suit, but you take her explanation in stride. It is then of course, that Marisa decides to return, fully dressed up and brandishing her wonderfully dangerous magical reactor around with wanton disregard for personal safety.

“Okay! I’m back. So, what didcha guys get up to?”

“Nothing much, just looking at a couple of those pictures,” you say, gesturing at the back wall,

“Yup, same here really,” Reimu adds, “He’s just been speculating on all of Aya’s scatterbrained articles.”

Marisa pouts, “That harpy sure doesn’t paint a flattering image of fair young maidens.”

“Tell that to the lady herself, maybe she’ll get the picture,”

“But I don’t want my picture taken again,” Marisa replies, returning to her place next to Reimu, “And I sure as heck don’t want to give her an interview for that half-baked paper of hers, cuz she’ll just spin another pack of nonsense about me stealing things,”

"Suit yourself," Reimu concedes, that wry smile once again fading to neutrality.

Marisa turns to you,

“So. Ambrose, dya wanna go outside and practice a little bit?”

“Practice?”

She looks particularly fired up now,

“Yeah, practice! We’ll see how good you are at playing danmaku!”

Reimu waves at Marisa in caution, frowning slightly, “Oy, be gentle with my guest; he was ambushed by some person earlier this morning, when we were walking over to Alice’s.”

Marisa laughs theatrically, “Don’t worry about it Reimu! I’m just taking him outside the house, show him a little bit of danmaku, nothing serious.”

Reimu looks unconvinced.

“I promise I won’t bang him up thaaaat much,” Marisa pleads, leaning up against her, “No sparks or cards, just plain ol’ danmaku, honest!”

Reimu relents with a magnificent sigh, “Well, if it’s okay with Ambrose...”

[] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
[] You’re actually getting a bit tired now, what with all the practice and the cleaning up,

[] “What is this, danmaku, you all keep on mentioning?”
[] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.
>> No. 34076
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
[x] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.

Block all the bullets. That's how danmaku works, right? Catch as many bullets as possible?
>> No. 34077
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
[x] “What is this, danmaku, you all keep on mentioning?”
>> No. 34078
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
[x] “What is this, danmaku, you all keep on mentioning?”

Now I imagine ambrose fighting like captain america, throwing shields like boomerangs.
>> No. 34079
[X] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
-[x] “What is this, danmaku, you all keep on mentioning?”

Works for me~!
>> No. 34080
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order.
[x] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.

We figured out on our own what wards and spellstrings Alice was using. It is better to rely on our own instincts for this, it may jolt our memory.
>> No. 34081
File 132960904269.jpg - (238.45KB, 1100x800, 9898d5d15501f767235e7da01196e0ff.jpg) [iqdb]
34081
>I think he was always going off to go get drunk or something.

Is that you, ZUN?

[c] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order.
[c] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.
>> No. 34082
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
[x] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.
>> No. 34083
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order.
[x] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.

>>34081
Ha! Didn't catch that one.
>> No. 34084
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order.
[x] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.

Why didn't I think of it? ZUN is from Gensokyo! This how he made the games, because he saw the whole incident.
>> No. 34085
File 132965177315.jpg - (239.79KB, 680x1000, FanZun.jpg) [iqdb]
34085
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order,
[x] “What is this, danmaku, you all keep on mentioning?”

Let's boogie, boogey man!
>> No. 34091
File 132973706991.jpg - (93.14KB, 850x660, marisaslittlefriend.jpg) [iqdb]
34091
[x] Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order.
[x] You’re sure you can pick up on whatever danmaku is just fine.

---

Sure, another round of practice and sparring with a fellow magician seems to be in order.

You stand up, “It would be a pleasure to spar with a fellow wizard,”

Marisa giggles excitedly as she leads you outside the cottage.

---

Marisa guides you right over by a very large tree, (which you notice, has a very prominent circular hole burnt into it,) before walking some distance away to the opposite side of the clearing. As she takes her place, you glance at Reimu, who has decided to prop herself against the doorway of the cottage, somewhat decided as to the outcome of the event, which you suspect includes you failing in some manner. Despite this, you wave at her briefly, which she entertains with her own little wave.

“So I heard from Reimu you can’t fly just yet,” Marisa shouts, waving at you from the other side, "I’m gonna give myself a handicap and stay on the ground, in one spot. Just try and get to me, alright?”

Well, this looks like a good old magician's duel to you. You nod once, trying your best to remember what the duelling protocols were...

Standard duelling protocol dictates that magicians begin engagement at a minimum range of around 10 metres, so as to give their opponent adequate time to react to their initial volley of spells, in the name of fair play. Distance after the first volley is irrelevant, and it is up to the dueller’s own discretion to either close in or back off as necessary.

You are about 10 or so metres away from Marisa. Brawler's Buckler has a very short range, but you can sprint the distance to close in.

Seconds were available, but due to the rather short numbers of magicians in the world, it was usually frowned upon to have them fight on. Instead, they would be responsible for taking the injured (or dead) parties off the field, and treating the remaining parties if they had injuries.

Well, Reimu is here. She seems very capable.

Conditions to win? Usually first blood, and sometimes even until one party is unable to fight any longer. Occasionally, there was the duel which only ended when one party yielded. Only very rarely were there were cases of duelling to the death.

You highly doubt there is going to be a fight to the death.

“First blood?” you ask.

Marisa looks somewhat confused, but nods anyway, “Sure, sure, first to get hit,” she looks at Reimu, “Hey Reimu, wouldja count down for us?”

Reimu takes a deep breath, “Are you ready, Ambrose?”

“Ready at the get go.”

Reimu raises her left arm, “On three then,”

Marisa tenses up, clutching her magical reactor. Even from here, you can sense the sudden output of raw power as it crackles to life with an electrifying yellow glow. You draw your own watch out, unhooking it with a deft movement. You hold it before you, watching the reflection of the sun play out on the crystal face.

It is now 3.32.19 PM.

“One.”

You both lean forward imperceptibly, presenting a smaller target to the other. You can feel the casing of the watch warm up as your body heat seeps into it. The forest has become quiet once more, and you think you can make out a few curious eyes peeking out from the nearby treetops.

You can sense the whole world opening up before you, a wealth of perception surging into your mind as the adrenaline in your system begins working its own chemical magic. You can feel the minute movement of your watch ticking away steadily, oblivious to the way the world around you has stopped.

3.32.20 PM

“Two.”

You watch Marisa’s face, shift slowly from pure excitement to intense focus, her lips moving minutely as she begins incanting. You can barely make out what she is saying. Her arm is about to swivel outwards towards you, bringing the reactor to bear.

You begin to take your guard stance, raising your arms in front of you protectively. You catch one last glimpse of the crystal watch face.

3.32.21 PM

“Three.”

And all at once

Reimu’s arm drops, the white sleeves flowing downwards gently in the cool forest breeze.

Marisa disappears in a flash of magical energy, as a magnificent cloud of stars and magic missiles await you.

It suddenly occurs to you, that you do not in fact, know what danmaku actually are.

Don’t panic.

Focus.


There is always a pattern to any magical spell, always a windup or indicator of intention. There is no such thing as a spell with no wind-up or warning, and even the most skilled magicians must show some kind of intent in order to cast their spells.

Observe closely.

Marisa appears to be gleefully letting off several hundred magical bullets, stars and assorted magical missiles at you. Judging by their magical trace signature, they are incredibly dense and powerful, probably able to cause immense physical pain when they strike. Thankfully, they appear to be unguided, and are following a rather beautiful trajectory, forming a somewhat unusual pattern...

There is a pattern to her spell. You must exploit this.


You quickly switch out of that familiar pseudo-boxing stance, weaving to the right just degrees before being struck by a searing star, and you begin running at Marisa,

More bullets and stars block your way.

“Brass Buckler!”

The shield flickers to life as you sweep it into a magical bullet. The shield flickers again, disappearing as it deflects the bullet, sending it veering off at an angle into the treetops, displacing a few fairies as they flee in confusion, whilst your arm recoils as a matter of reactive physics coming into play.

The buckler is only good for one hit per casting. This is no good. You had counted on it being able to survive much more.

Your movements are somewhat heavy. You probably shouldn’t have practiced so hard earlier.

In a rough manner of speaking, Marisa is much more rested than you. Her magic spells are exceedingly overwhelming in nature, and she shows no intention of letting up her barrage.

You can feel your arm beginning to ache again.

You need to close in quickly and end this fast.

Shield to your left.


Another bullet is deflected off course by your trusty shield as you approach ever closer to the black magician. She grins wider, beginning to fire a series of larger projectiles directly into your path.

As you raise your miniature shield towards the first such projectile, it collapses completely under the sheer power of the bullet, forcing you to skid underneath it on your knees, withdrawing your hand as it painfully absorbs the shock of the projectile forcing itself through. Your arm is burning now, the muscles beginning to stretch beyond normal limits, as you twist your torso in order to burn off the excess momentum.

The barrage merely intensifies in both quality and quantity as you approach closer. Such a strong, straightforward attack.

Even the gaps in the curtain of projectiles are getting smaller.

Back on your feet and continue sprinting at her.

You’ve only one option now. Your only choice is to dodge faster.

To the right.


You watch as a star nearly grazes your forehead, sidestepping it blithely as yet another projectile streaks past your back, nicking the edge of your waistcoat.

You are so close to her now, almost within arm’s reach. She is beginning to look mildly shocked by your sudden proximity.

Her reactor is pointed at a slight angle to you. Grazing could be possible, but highly risky.

Direction of shots is mostly forward oriented, with little spread in any direction.

Her legs are slightly apart in modified Pointer stance, giving her a more stable position to fire from.

The reactor is pulsing off steadily, releasing a quick, steady stream of magical projectiles.

You have one last chance to move before the next pulse occurs, but you're incredibly exhausted by the effort of weaving and darting now, and your legs feel like they’re ready to collapse at any moment.


[] With a sharp jab, force your aching arm to strike directly at Marisa, as quickly as you can with Brawler’s Buckler to catch her off guard as she gawks at your presence.
[] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.
[] Dive to the ground as fast as you are able, sliding underneath Marisa's skirt to get behind her, leaving her in a daze, then strike her unguarded back with Brawler’s Buckler.
[] Stand your ground here and cast Bronze Buckler one last time, to try and surprise her by deflecting her projectiles at back at her.
[] No other viable options remain. You are sure to get hit. There is only one choice: Jump straight into her arms, effectively tackling her to the ground in desperation.
[] You’ve done it now, boy. Drop to the ground on your face in excruciating pain, as your body and mind finally give out to exhaustion.
>> No. 34092
[x] Dive to the ground as fast as you are able, sliding underneath Marisa's skirt to get behind her, leaving her in a daze, then strike her unguarded back with Brawler’s Buckler.

Seems like the flashiest. I like it.
>> No. 34093
[x] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.

It would be improper for a gentleman to go under a ladies skirt
>> No. 34094
[x] Drop to your knees, cover your head with left arm and use your right to strike her with Brawler’s Buckler
>> No. 34095
[x] No other viable options remain. You are sure to get hit. There is only one choice: Jump straight into her arms, effectively tackling her to the ground in desperation.

Who wants a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUG!
>> No. 34096
[x] Dive to the ground as fast as you are able, sliding underneath Marisa's skirt to get behind her, leaving her in a daze, then strike her unguarded back with Brawler’s Buckler.
>> No. 34098
[] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.
>> No. 34099
[x] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.

Tempted to go with the anemia option.
>> No. 34100
[X] Dive to the ground as fast as you are able, sliding underneath Marisa's skirt to get behind her, leaving her in a daze, then strike her unguarded back with Brawler’s Buckler.

Works for me~!
>> No. 34101
[x] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.
The other option WILL get us labeled a pervert.
>> No. 34103
File 132978534731.png - (2.22KB, 300x200, 1329704119412.png) [iqdb]
34103
>>34101
>The other option WILL get us labeled a pervert.

I hope you're not actually serious with that line of thinking.
>> No. 34104
[c] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.
>> No. 34105
[x] Dive to the ground as fast as you are able, sliding underneath Marisa's skirt to get behind her, leaving her in a daze, then strike her unguarded back with Brawler’s Buckler.
>> No. 34106
[x] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.
>> No. 34108
[] Blindly dart to the side with all your strength, grazing any projectiles and flanking her immediately, causing her to hesitate in confusion before striking her exposed sides with Brawler’s Buckler.

---

A head on attack would be inadvisable. It is simply a matter of her twitching her hand to the side.

You will be hit.

Your shield will only deflect one shot before dissipating, and the angle is too great to reflect the spell back.

You will be hit.

Desperation is the last resort. But there are other options.

Your only chance is to get either behind her or to her flanks.

Leaping above her is out of the question, as your legs are far too useless at this point.

Sliding below her skirt is an option, given that there is enough distance between the legs to slip through. However, risks of potential post-spar beatings, should you take this course of action, seem high.

Thus, leap to the side, out of direct line of fire.

As falling, engage shield to protect sternum from stray star, deflecting into Marisa’s face.

As she stumbles backwards to avoid star, roll into crouching position for strike.

Strike to the lower torso, sending her flying.


===

Pichuu~n

===

Your breathing is ragged, and your body aches all over as you slowly collapse into a small heap, face first. As your fingers twitch gently, feeling the cooling afternoon grass under them, you can taste the leafy matter as you struggle to get air into your body.

There is a series of sharp prods at your back.

Rolling over as slowly as you can, you can see Reimu kneeling over you, tasselled staff in hand, a most curious twitch in her eyebrow,

“You don’t really know how to play danmaku, do you?”

“... n-no... buh... but I wuh... w-won, right?”

She helps you to sit up, directing your attention to a hatless Marisa, who is currently struggling to stand up as she too, breathes hard and heavy. You can’t lift your arms, and your legs stubbornly refuse to budge as searing pain burns across your entire consciousness. Marisa slowly stumbles over to where she stood, just moments ago. She bends down very carefully, as to not aggravate her chest, to pick up her hat.

You both meet each other’s eyes. Marisa speaks up first,

“That was, pretty painful,” she manages, nursing her bruised ribs with a genuine smile, “You’re pretty... okay at this.”

“Lots of spells. Never felt under more pressure myself,” you reply,

The silence between you three is deafening, interspersed with some whispers and giggles from the forest canopy as Marisa plonks herself down next to you and Reimu.

Reimu slaps you on the head with her sleeve,

“What am I going to do with you two idiots?” she sighs,

You try and get a glimpse of your watch.

It is now 3.32.58 PM.

---

You feel incredibly drained from today, and as Reimu drags you into the cottage, you quietly muse on your small victory against Marisa. It was exhilarating. You feel so alive. Although your body despairs at the foolishness of your actions, you can’t help but smile as you feel the beating of your heart, the dull twinge in your chest and the slowly steadying breaths you take.

Reimu dumps you into a chair to recover, telling you to stay put as she helps Marisa with her bruise. You are all too happy to oblige her, watching as Marisa trots off to her room again, throwing her hat onto the table as she begins humming a cheerful little ditty.

Your eyes begin drooping...

---

“... A strong man carries a shield to protect him and strikes down his enemies in one blow. A stronger man carries a shield to protect others and needs only to strike once, if at all.”

Ambrose is 11 years old, and has woken up, just in time to catch his master’s speech in a lecture theatre,

“I hardly think that any wizard, warlock or magician can get by with using just lasers and fireballs. This destructive, highly aggressive style of magical combat is untenable for today’s increasingly complex world. As our numbers dwindle, we must cease our needless squabbles and begin trying to open a peaceful dialogue-“

“You are still suggesting we talk to them, Alders?!” a voice cuts in, “The Pan-Asiatic Magic Association is making audacious movements into Eastern Europe, and month by month, they gain a foothold in the region. They refuse to negotiate and we must answer!”

A chorus of excitable people all nod to themselves, murmuring their agreement,

Ambrose’s master merely shakes his head in exasperation,

“Gerhardt, you know that is not true. Just last week, I was able to meet with a much respected sensei of theirs, and he agreed in principle to end the violence. Why, he even complained of the way your 'envoys' assaulted his-“

“LIES!”

The chamber explodes into commotion as a younger man rises from his seat, a thin cane pointed squarely at Master Alders, crackling menacingly as he begins to shout his counterpoints back to the old man. Alders has merely drawn his watch, holding it up to face Gerhardt, composed and quiet as he listens intently, ready to pick out the truth as it appears.

Ambrose quietly pockets his own watch, deciding to slip out of the chambers to wait out the maelstrom of magical politics, sneaking through the crowd of magicians as they stand, enraptured at the battle of wits within.

---

Having made his escape from the debating chambers of the small college building, he pauses for a moment, his eyes darting between two sets of gigantic wooden doors, one set at each end of the corridor. Deciding to head to the closer one, he is rewarded with the sight of a beautiful, well maintained park as he pushes the oaken doors apart.

After finding a suitable bench, Ambrose removes his blazer and waistcoat, hanging them on the back rest. Checking around him, he makes sure there is ample space, before he begins moving through the motions of blocking with his watch, letting his mind wander again.

By now, he has practiced for several months, and the improvement in his technique is obvious in the way his arms jitter less than before, flowing smoothly from stance to stance as he shuffles slowly across the manicured lawn. His even, measured breath does not stutter as his wrist flicks outward, a small pulse of energy striking out.

A gentle cough interrupts him, and he turns mid-sweep.

There is a girl standing before him. About his height, clad in apprentice robes, her slim face framed by short brown hair. She leans in closer, before prodding him in the chest.

“Your legwork is sloppy.”

“What.”

She points at the grass underneath his shoes. If you looked hard enough, you could see the faint impression of patterned heels.

“You’re putting too much weight on your feet, and you’re dragging yourself across the grass.”

She moves a short distance away from him, pulling her skirt up slightly, so that he could see her feet gliding noiselessly across the lawn.

Ambrose watches intently for the next thirty minutes as the girl demonstrates her way, carefully explaining it as best she could. Soon, he is trying to emulate her, stumbling slightly as his feet struggle to adapt to the subtle new movement.

“I see,” he concludes, raising the balls of his feet experimentally, “It’s in the ankles, you say?”

“Mmhm.”

The two of them stare at each other for a while, before Ambrose offers his hand,

“I forgot to introduce myself, Ambrose.”

The girl takes his hand, shaking it firmly,

“Elsa.”

An unfamiliar voice calls out, “I see you two ‘ave met on good terms.”

The two children jump slightly, as both Master Alders and another old man make their way towards them, their lively discussion now abandoned in favour of the two children.

“Master, I didn’t hear you coming,” Ambrose says, standing to attention, “Is your speech over?”

“Cool yer heels lad,” the unfamiliar man begins, doffing his flat cap at the boy, “Your teachy here just finished ‘is speech to the assembly. Good ol’ Gerhardt loves ta hear ‘imself though, sa I don’t fink we’ll get anywhere today.”

“Ambrose, this is Master Walker,” Alders says, waving a hand cordially at his companion, “And you’ve met Elsa, I see.”

Elsa curtsies to Alders, before quickly rejoining her master.

Alders checks his watch, before giving a small groan of annoyance, “I’m afraid Boyce, there is no time for a proper introduction. It’s a great pity.”

“No matter Ald. We’ve got time next week. Pop on by if you could.”

“Very well. Ambrose, get your coat and jacket, we must head back.”

As the two older men shake hands, Ambrose wanders over to the bench, replacing his waistcoat and blazer, before running off after Master Alders he leaves at a brisk pace through the park, whilst Elsa and her master return into the stone building behind.

He quickly takes a look back, and sees Elsa waving at him at the door of the building.

He waves back, before chasing after his master once again...

---

“Hey. Hey, Ambrose. Wake up.”

You blink half-heartedly, feeling the stiffness in your shoulders and legs as you stretch. But that is nothing, compared to the urgent throbbing in your head.

Reimu is tapping her feet to a slow, steady beat as she waits for you to sit up.

“C’mon, it’s past 5 o’clock. We should be heading back soon.”

You check your watch. It is indeed past five o’clock.

5.02 in the afternoon to be precise. Wow.

---

As Reimu drags you out of the cottage, Marisa waves goodbye from her doorway,

“Come back soon, okay Reimu? Oh, and bring Ambrose over as well, I want a rematch next time!”

You feel slightly dizzy at the moment, unable to make a coherent reply.

Reimu just sighs, guiding you back to the path out of the forest as the two of you begin making your way back to the shrine. She looks a bit... frustrated right now, and you are increasingly aware of the way she seems very tense. Did something happen whilst you were asleep?

You feel like saying something...

[] “Long day?”
[] “Is something the matter, Reimu?”
[] “So, what did you two get up to while I was asleep?”
[] “I think I may have overdone it today...”
[] ... you think silence would be best, actually.
>> No. 34109
[x] “Is something the matter, Reimu? You seem tense.”
>> No. 34110
[x] “I think I may have overdone it today...”

If we question Reimu directly, she is likely to evade and bottle up her feelings.
>> No. 34111
[x] ... you think silence would be best, actually.

Yeah, we're totally not going to be ambushed again. That's not a thing that's going to happen, and Reimu isn't tense in anticipation.
>> No. 34112
[X] “I think I may have overdone it today...”

At least Ambrose is willing to acknowledge whether he's overstepped his limits versus some one who'd most likely deflect such notions.
>> No. 34113
[X] “I think I may have overdone it today...”
>> No. 34114
[x] “So, what did you two get up to while I was asleep?”

Why not?
>> No. 34115
[X] “Long day?”

Simple and vague's just fine for a start.
>> No. 34116
[X] “I think I may have overdone it today...”
>> No. 34117
[X] “I think I may have overdone it today...”
>> No. 34118
[c] “I think I may have overdone it today...”
- [c] And apologize.
>> No. 34119
[x] “I think I may have overdone it today...”

---

It must have been something, you figure. Perhaps it was you?

If you’ve upset your host somehow, then it is imperative that you own up.

“I think I may have overdone it today...” you say.

Reimu doesn’t stop, continuing down the forest path as she pointedly tries to ignore you. But you can hear her grumbling slightly to herself, before she tosses something small and card-like to you,

As you catch the object, you begin to examine it.

It is a blank card of some kind, but a simple series of framing mechanisms and reusable magic seals seems to relay to you its purpose as some kind of spell storage medium. You decide to give it a tiny pulse of magic, just to see what happens.

The card fizzles slightly, and a golden border begins forming on the card. Reimu is suddenly in your face, that frustrated frown coming to the fore again,

“Hold it right there. You could at least not do anything else drastic until we get back,” she says, “That will be your first spell card, and that’s only blank one I have right now, so-”

“Spell card? You mean to say, you can store spells for use in one of these-”

She slaps her forehead in frustration,“J-just listen to me for a second. Please?”

You listen, very intently as Reimu walks off a short way, pointing back at the cottage in the distance,

“You just had a danmaku duel without the danmaku. Now, normally, that would be a massive breach of the rules, and I would have had to beat some of those rules into that thick magician head of yours. While you've been sleeping, Marisa’s been spending the past half-hour nursing what I suspect to be a very bad blow to the chest from your little punching spell, and I’ve had to see whether it’s serious enough to bother the doctor over. Luckily for you she’s fine, but she’s got a nasty bruise and was a bit winded.”

You look away from her, unable to conceal your increasingly guilty grimace. You really screwed up somewhere along the way. As you think more closely about it, you know exactly why she’s upset:

You are her acquaintance and guest, and she is hosting you for an indeterminate period of time.

You have hurt a close friend of hers accidentally in what was meant to be a friendly spar.

You didn’t even know how to duel correctly here.

You really should have thought about asking what danmaku was when you could.

As you start examining your shoes with great intensity, unwilling to meet Reimu’s stern face, you can see her feet tapping impatiently. Expectantly. The next 30 seconds is a waiting game as you try and figure out how to defuse the situation.

You decide to bite the bullet. Recalling what little you can about eastern traditions, you begin bowing in as apologetic a manner you can muster.

“I’m sorry Reimu. I’m sorry for hurting Marisa, and I’m sorry for not asking about danmaku when I could.”

She stops tapping her feet. As you straighten out for the last time, you see that Reimu has begun shaking her head, though you can see a minute smirk developing as she begins examining you again. She circles around you once, before forcing your back down about forty-five degrees.

“If you’re going to do that,” she begins, her voice marginally more composed, “Please learn to do it right... but I guess it’s the thought that counts here. You are excused, this time.”

Satisfied with your apology, she gestures for you to walk with her.

As you catch up to her, she continues talking,

“As I was saying, that is a spell card, one of the most important parts of the duelling system set up in Gensokyo, specifically designed to protect the participants of any duel from injuries such as that. You really should wait until we get back to the shrine, and I can explain more about what needs to be done, okay?”

You nod sheepishly, pocketing the half-finished spell card.

[Item added to INV: Half-completed spell card.]

As you put the card away, you sneak a quick look at your pocket watch.

5.16 PM

---

You quietly watch the sunset from the steps of the shrine, observing the daystar slowly dive under the horizon once again. Across the land, you can see so many pinpricks of warm, yellow light as Gensokyo begins it's preparations for night-time.

You turn your attention to the mountains in the distance, just beyond the village. True to the painting in Marisa’s cottage, there seem to be columns of wispy smoke near the summit, though you cannot quite make out any waterfalls from this angle.

You raise your pocket watch to the sky, catching the last few rays of the sun against the crystal face.

It is now 7.31 PM.

It is deeply moving to see the sun set. There seems to be a... sort of closure from watching the day end and the night begin. You think that tonight, the moon will be as luminous and as graceful as it was yesterday.

Your thoughts turn towards your hasty behaviour this afternoon.

Something felt so, right about sparring with Marisa. Like, you’ve done this before. But your carelessness showed today, when you hurt her by accident. You can’t help but get the feeling that you are not normally so gung-ho in your affairs, and you still can picture Reimu’s frustrated, slim features as she reprimanded you. You are thankful that she forgave you in the end.

Still, no matter what you do, you need to move on.

As you stand up, you can briefly make out a miniscule tear in space blink at you in the distance. You decide to humour it and wave. It disappears as quickly as it came by, and you are sure Yukari is giggling to herself somewhere.

---

As you listen to her instructing you on the proper conduct of danmaku duels, you can ascertain that Reimu is much calmer now. She's already changed into her sleeping clothes, being late enough as it is, which makes you deeply aware of the ill-fitting size of the apparel you have borrowed from the missing head priest.

Reimu spreads a small collection of cards onto the low table as you watch. Each of them bears a distinctive picture, a beautiful series of shapes in elegant patterns against a thin, golden border. All of these cards seem rather muted in nature, but they seem to radiate intense surety of purpose.

She shuffles them back into a small, neat pile, stowing them back into her sleeves with practiced ease.

“These are spell cards. Each spell card contains a series of magical spells which will create a complex pattern of magical or spiritual projectiles which will stun, and then knockout the opponent if they touch them,”

Reimu draws a single card again, allowing you to examine it more carefully,

“Danmaku duelling is meant to be a beautiful, exciting affair, in which the nature of the duellers is revealed to the other. There is no art in random patterns of oddly shaped bullets, nor is there any elegance in simply flooding the field in projectiles. To be successful at danmaku duelling, one must be refined, swift and precise.

Each card is to be designed with the utmost care. Every card you make will be a part of you, whether you like it or not.”

She points at your partially completed card, tracing the half-completed golden border with great care,

“Did you have anything particular in mind for your first spell card, Ambrose?”

“Anything in mind?”

She rests her head on her arm, watching you pick up your card again,

“Yes, anything at all... like numbers, or watches. People get inspiration for their spell cards from all sorts of things, like the changing of the seasons, or the movement of the stars.”

Reimu gestures towards your card,

"What are you thinking about right now?"

[] You think about the pure, radiant moon...
[] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...
[] You think about stout, sturdy shields...
[] You think you need more time to think...
>> No. 34120
[X] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...

It's good that Ambrose does not allow himself to dwell heavily for his oversight on how dueling works around Gensokyo; especially after learning Marisa may be feeling that hit for a while. Learning and allowing himself to improve rather than stagnate or worse is even better in this case; so it doesn't happen again.

Time may march on regardless but that doesn't mean Ambrose can't pace himself with the constant flow of time.

No need to rush head long into things but not allowing stagnation to take place either.
>> No. 34121
[X] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...
>> No. 34122
[x] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...

Ah oops, sorry Marisa.
>> No. 34123
[x] You think about stout, sturdy shields...

We will have to learn a lot by trial and error, so survival first. The constant, steady flow of time is not going to help us much if we botch our first flying attempt.
>> No. 34124
[] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...

He's always checking that watch of his, so this is the logical answer.
>> No. 34125
>>34123
i don't know, Ambrose had to react swiftly and on the fly against Marisa's pace with her barrage of magic missiles and stars; left him a tired wreck despite technically winning. Perhaps a spell card to deal with it, even if temporarily, may help warm him up to more strenuous duels.

Going through the paces man.
>> No. 34126
I was hoping to avoid the standard danmaku lecture...

[x] You think you need more time to think...

Spellcard that slows down time. Fuck yeah.
>> No. 34127
>>34126

I thought that literally mean he's sitting on making his card now until he's decided on what exactly he wants it to be.
>> No. 34128
>>34127
It might mean that, too. But I think it means literally giving himself more time to think with a spellcard. Time magic is cool like that.
>> No. 34129
>>34128

Wouldn't it be redundant then with the second option referring to the flow of time? It may not be Za Warudo but it still seems to imply speed of time. Maybe it makes dodging danmaku more manageable for a while as he doles out his shots at a brisker speed.
>> No. 34130
>>34129
Why would that be redundant? The second option seems more like a streaming-based spellcard to me. Cause time is like a river~
>> No. 34131
>>34130
Fair enough, though I still can't help but think the fourth option is really just Ambrose sitting on making his first card at the moment.

Clarification from the author would be nice.
>> No. 34132
[X] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...

Works for me~!
>> No. 34133
[x] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...

The sand of time is something that you simply can't avoid, as it reflects your own mortality.
You can't help but feel fascinated as you observe the yellow dust taking your life away, turning you into a corpse, into bones, and finally into nothing.
>> No. 34135
>>34131

I like discussion about the story.

Essentially, both the 2nd and 4th choices are time-related cards, focusing on different aspects of time.

I apologise for the ambiguity in choices, but it was thematically appropriate at the time.

Also, "[x] You think about the constant, steady flow of time..."

Will write soon.
>> No. 34136
[x] You think about the constant, steady flow of time...

---

You think about the constant, steady flow of time. The time which never stops moving, the time that keeps the world in order, a flowing rhythm that never abates.

You think about time that constructs and maintains alike, the ticking of a pianist’s metronome and the beating of your fleshy heart and mortal body.

Time that destroys all; renders mountains to dust, brings kingdoms to their knees, sends the most ferocious beasts into myths of ages past.

As you continue musing over the peculiarities of time, the card begins hissing, magical forces gathering their wits about them as you pour your heart and soul into the card.

You close your eyes and picture kingdoms of clockwork mechanisms... ghostly quiet in their never ending revolution. Spinning gears and spring-loaded cores drive onwards, never forgetting their true purpose, watching as time flows by with a purpose.

You can see the centre of it all from here, a single wonderful light, where all becomes white, lost in the haze beyond. But in the shade of your gearing, you stand firm in your movement, orbiting, watching, waiting for the moment.

Reimu is watching the illustration take form with great caution, as the magic brings forth a phantasmal picture, etched from the myriad truths that you ponder.

In a single, fleeting instant, you realise something profound:

You cannot stop time forever. But you certainly can keep moving forward.

The room is filled with a bright flash, and the card springs to life. You open your eyes.

For a brief moment, you behold dizzying paths of bullets, spinning along the fields of green, sweeping all those before it in a slow, never ending waltz, bringing the inevitable end of all things with it as it revolves around the opponent.

The card that rests in your hand pulses with a vibrant desire, seeking and knowing in equal amounts. The face of the card is filled with an image of a series of perfect clockwork mechanisms.

The two of you breathe out for the first time in minutes. Reimu smiles serenely as she gets up, brushing off the dust from her nightwear,

“And you’re done in one, good job. I’ll be heading off to sleep now,” she points meaningfully at you, “I don’t suggest trying it out right now. You need to rest as well, and I still have to teach you how to use your card properly. Good night.”

She disappears deeper into the shrine, dragging the sliding door shut behind her.

You raise the card, and give it a name.

[Spell card acquired: [Time Sign]: Jewelled Movement]

---

Time bothers you greatly.

As you lie alone beneath the covers of the futon, you begin thinking deeply about how you got here. What you can remember is sparse, and the thoughts of anything beyond those moments plague your mind with sharp reminders to stay the hell away.

What happened to you? Why did you arrive here, in Gensokyo?

You can’t sleep. Not with this on your mind.

You snatch your pocket watch and spell card from the neatly folded pile of clothes.

---

Outside, perched on Reimu’s donation box, you watch as the moon rides through the night sky, her silent face looking down upon Gensokyo.

You try and remember what you can...

You were nine when you were apprenticed to Master Alders, and told you would become a time magician.

You were ten when he gave you that short lecture on the use of watches as a focus.

You were eleven when you recall his lessons on the use of the Bronze Buckler, his speech to the assembly of magicians, and Elsa...

“Who is Elsa?”

As you say her name, you can feel some lingering regret and confusion stirring. This is not helping your current state of mind, you decide, immediately resorting to fiddling with your watch in an attempt to clear your mind.

The brass pocket watch observes patiently as you twist and turn the crown, to no avail as the hands refuse to move to your whims. You absentmindedly remember that all magical watches are sealed against outside interference once they were started, and only stopped when they ran out of magic or they were opened up. Your master was an impressive watchmaker, you conclude, once again tracing your fingers across the engravings, marring an otherwise featureless back casing.

The forest around the shrine is calm, the cool night breeze hardly stirring the branches tonight. As you potter around the grounds aimlessly, you note that there is actually nothing much of interest around the shrine. There seems to be a small building, (probably a small store,) just behind the shrine itself. You don’t think it would be a good idea to go in and see if you don’t have permission.

Reimu mentioned that there were supposed to be a small group of fairies living somewhere around here. The darkness does not help in trying to locate their abode, which would most likely be one of the myriad trees in the back, and you don’t feel like stumbling around in the dark to try and disturb fairies, particularly since they do have a habit of playing mischief on such foolish people.

You turn around, and head back into the shrine.

---

[] Dream about...
---[] the moon.
---[] the sun.
---[] today.
---[] magic.

What is a good time to wake up?

[] 6.00 AM
[] 7.00 AM
[] 8.00 AM

---

Hint:

What time you choose to wake up at has a few benefits and consequences.

Waking up early allows you to do more during the day, and can potentially help you access rare opportunities. However, waking up early also means you get less sleep which can sap your overall energy for the day, and less dream-time.

On the other hand, waking up later means you can get more rest and more dream-time. However, not all dreams are nice ones, and you may get less chances to do things during the day.

Good night, sleep tight.

>> No. 34137
[x] The Sun.
[x] 7.00 AM
>> No. 34138
[c] The Sun.
[c] 6.00 AM

>Elsa
I'm curious.
>> No. 34139
[x] the moon.
[x] 6.00 AM
Keep at it
>> No. 34140
[x] the moon.
[x] 6.00 AM

Rest and sanity are for the weak.
>> No. 34142
[x] the moon.
[x] 6.00 AM
>> No. 34143
[X] the Moon.
-[x] 7:00

Works for me~!
>> No. 34144
[x] the stars.
[x] 8.00 AM

I hate gears. Determinism can fuck off.
>> No. 34145
[X] the Moon.
-[x] 7:00
>> No. 34146
[x] the moon.
[x] 6.00 AM
>> No. 34147
File 133003614470.jpg - (12.78KB, 449x319, Hartmann.jpg) [iqdb]
34147
[x] Dream about...
---[x] the moon.

What is a good time to wake up?
[x] 6.00 AM


A man cannot reach the moon. A man's dream is to reach the moon.
A wizard cannot reach the moon, but he can run after it.
And waking up early is the key to a good day.
>> No. 34149
[X] the moon
[X] 7.00 AM

Just picked this up. Loving it so far.
>> No. 34150
[x] Dream about the moon.
[x] 6.00 AM.

---

You behold the luminous moon. Sterile. Distant. Dead.

As you trace her pace, you can see the stars flickering by, blinking into non-existance as they burn out into oblivion and beyond.

You raise your watch, shielded from the blinding radiance of the light, your arms heavy under its immense pressure. They hold, but barely.

Familiar faces cloud your mind; sword and spear block your path. She stands before them. Turns to you, smiling a bloody grimace.

Running through crowded alleys at night, darting between mobs of faceless people, you search for something, something you may never find.

A silver watch, wielded by elegant hands, twists and tears at time itself; never wanting, never knowing, only being.

Separation. Silence. Solitude. Dichromatic butterflies elude your grasp.

Faster, stronger, you speed towards destination unknown, kicking and screaming. You brace for impact, but as you peek out, you can see the light...

You reach out-

---

Lose not yourself in a far off time, seize the moment that is thine.
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)


---

You've reached out, arm outstretched as you grasp at air. You are still lying on your back, heart racing, chest heaving. Your throat is dry, parched, as you blink away the fragments of sleep. You rub your eyes, still yearning for the respite that was denied.

"You sure don't sleep well,"

Reimu is once again standing at the door, vaguely concerned at your pitifully obvious discomfort. She paces in, standing over you as you begin wiping away the sweat from your brow. Still dressed in her nightwear, she observes you as you hurriedly attempt to get up.

"Are you going to be okay?" she asks.

"Y-yeah... yeah I'll be fine. Thanks."

She looks doubful, brushing away a strand of dark brown hair from her eyes. But she nods once, leaving you alone to your own devices, reminding you that she is preparing breakfast.

After she leaves, shutting the door behind her, you race to your watch.

It is now 6.02 in the morning.

---

After borrowing another set of (slightly smaller) clothes from the head priest, an oddly patterned floral shirt, with a set of good trousers you wander into the main room, where Reimu has already set down a simple, nutritious breakfast. After you slowly make your way through the meal and help clear up, you join Reimu, dressed again in her usual attire, at the low table, where she is sketching a rough map of the village for you,

"I think it would be a good idea to go to the village today," Reimu suggests, pointing at a row of squares just outside the main road, "You should first introduce yourself to Keine, who works at the local schoolhouse; she knows a good deal about the village and how to get things done around there."

She then moves to a single square, just outside of the main village proper, straddling the path between the forest and the village,

"This is Rinnosuke's place, Kourindou. As I mentioned before, he specialises in things from the outside, but he also has some experience as a craftsman of magical devices, and probably stocks some unusual magic items. He'd probably be excited to meet someone new from the outside, what with his particular fascination."

She then points at a large open space in the village,

"This is the market square, lots of nice little stalls and businesses set up shop around here. It's worth getting to know some of the people around town, make connections with shopkeepers and people like that. I'd also think it's a pretty good idea to dispel any strange notions going around, what with Aya having free reign to spread whatever nonsense she wanted in the last two days."

You can see a rather oddly shaped building around the outskirts of the village,

"What's that building there?" you ask, tapping the footprint,

Reimu tilts her head, "Well, that's the Myouren Temple. It's a recently established temple that caters to Buddhists, whether they're youkai or human. They're pretty accomodating, as long as you don't try and steal anything particularly shiny, or try to attack anybody there," she comments, thoughtfully tapping the map, "In any case, they're there to visit, if you're of a Buddhist temperament today."

She leans back a bit, pushing the map towards you,

"So?"

[] Ask more about... (Specify)
[] Start heading off to... (Specify)
[] How about some danmaku practice?

---

You must select either the second or third choice as well, if you choose to ask a question. You may ask one relevant question of Reimu. You don't need to ask anything if you don't feel it is necessary.

The second and third choices are mutually exclusive. You may only select one choice between the two of them, in addition to the first choice, if you have a question.
>> No. 34151
[X] Ask more about...
-Reimu's impressions of the village and its inhabitants
[X] Start heading off to...
-Kourindou

Your dialogue style seems very Morrowind-esque.
Just an observation.
>> No. 34152
[X] Ask more about Reimu's impressions of the village and its inhabitants
-[x] Start heading off to see Keine

Ambrose may want to at least make a good first impression for the Village considering how often he might pass through.
>> No. 34153
[x] How about some danmaku practice?

Let's get tired and sweaty before hitting the town.
>> No. 34154
[X] Ask more about Reimu's impressions of the village and its inhabitants
-[x] Start heading off to see Keine
>> No. 34155
[x] Ask more about flight and other means of more convenient transportation (horses, carts, unicycles, magic carpet rent service…)
[x] How about some completely safe, friendly and educational danmaku practice?

We need to learn how to properly activate spell cards. To accidentally kill someone on our third day in Gensokyo would be bad form, and we can’t look silly in front of our potential assassin.
>> No. 34156
[x] Ask more about flight.
[x] How about some danmaku practice?

Flying would be nice. Danmaku would also be nice.
>> No. 34157
[x] Ask more about flight.

[X] Start heading off to...
-Keine
>> No. 34159
[x] Ask more about flight.
[x] How about some danmaku practice?

So, uh, that fight with Marisa left her injured and us exhausted. Let's try doing that less.
>> No. 34167
Based on:

[3] Ask more about Reimu’s impressions...
[4] Ask more about flight.

[4] How about some danmaku practice?
[3] Head off to see Keine
[1] Head off to Kourindou

Now writing:

[x] Ask more about flight.
[x] How about some danmaku practice?

---

You push the map aside for a moment,

“Actually, I think I’d rather get some practice in with duelling. I wouldn’t want to proceed elsewhere without a better idea of how the system works,”

The tips of Reimu’s lips twitch upwards as she stands,

“Alright then, I’ll go get my things. I’ll meet you outside in the yard.”

---

Outside, the sun is just rising into the early morning sky. It has been a cloudless morning so far.

As you twist and turn the spell card in your other hand, watching the way the gears seem to come alive in your mind, you quickly check your watch. It is 6.43, and Reimu has been fetching her things for quite a while. In the distance, near the auxiliary building, you think you can hear some rummaging, which helps to confirm your suspicions of it being a storehouse of some kind.

You decide that warming up while you wait is a good idea.

You go through the motions, feeling the familiar rituals come to mind easily as you stretch and bend. Though you’ve tried your best, the clothes you’ve borrowed from the head priest are still a mite off size, so you’ve tried to compensate by tucking in the shirt and rolling up the sleeves as far as you could.

Mid-way through your ankle stretches, Reimu finally appears, wielding her trusty tasselled staff, as well as an oddly oversized pair of orbs, which float serenely around her in a manner not too dissimilar from orbiting slave spells, used to boost a person’s magical output. They seem to be patterned in the shape of the yin-yang symbols that you would periodically see emblazoned on some oriental charms.

Reimu herself looks like she’s been mentally preparing herself for the session, and the way she frowns suggests more of an attempt to be taken seriously rather than actual unhappiness. You draw your spell card and watch,

“Right. First things first Ambrose,” she begins, rapping one of the orbs, “We need to get you to shoot some kind of bullet. No point teaching you how to use a spell card if you can’t even cast bullets properly, so you can put that away for now.”

Reluctantly, you slip the card back into one of your pockets, before focusing on the task at hand:

If you recall correctly, bullets, such as the ones Marisa was using yesterday were dense, magically concentrated magical projectiles that travelled at a slow pace, which were used to stun, and then knock out any targets hit. Her own power was phenomenal, which went some ways to explain how many of them she fired at once.

The scholarly part of you is particularly excited at the prospect of learning new magic.

This should be interesting.

---

For the next ten minutes, Reimu variously reminds you of the rules behind ‘playing danmaku’, before attempting to teach you how to cast a simple bullet.

Together, you spend half an hour attempting to work out how to cast a bullet, given that your first few attempts ended in absolutely nothing happening at all. Eventually, with some careful calibration, you manage to launch a few disc-shaped projectiles at one of the orbs that Reimu is floating around as a target.

Disappointingly however, those projectiles simply bounce off, and apparently have little to no effect, hardly moving the orb at all.

Reimu is shouting encouragement at you from across the yard, arms crossed,“Ambrose, you’re getting better,” she says, striding over to you, trying to determine what exactly seems to be your problem, “Usually, magicians tend to be very good at magic spells of all kinds, especially shooting spells. What exactly did your master teach you?”

You certainly can’t recall being taught much more beyond shields and defensive wards. And any knowledge of time spells seems to be hidden away for the moment. This is very frustrating, as your shield expertise seems to be directly affecting your ability to use magical projectiles.

As you catch your breath for a moment, you think very carefully about how this could work out. You breathe in very slowly and deliberately, trying to calm your heartbeat...

You have a remarkable proficiency for shields. This in turn is counterweighed by your near inability to create and sustain projectile spells.

Perhaps you should try to cast projectiles in the same manner as you would a shield. Like your Brawler’s Buckler for example...

Begin with a solid foundation of triple-layered shielding circles, accompanied by the usual hardening matrices and reinforcement arrays. Follow that up with a series of accelerator bridges, constraining their movement using Willis seals. Apply a simple release trigger and return mechanism, and you’ve got a basic Brawler’s Buckler.

Now, if you begin modifying that...

If you reduce the spell’s overall speed by removing some of the spell bridges, without compromising the seals...

Reduce the size of the projectiles from softball size to marble size, saving a good deal of magical energy, which can be recycled elsewhere...

Remove the hardening effect and apply the stunning matrices as Reimu specified earlier...

Change the maintenance circle to allow the spell to rapidly cycle into a new spell instead of maintaining and reinforcing the current spell.

In theory, this should develop a pseudo-projectile spell with some soft shielding characteristics. The spell framework will be much more malleable, and should provide a harder impact at some cost of penetrative capability...


“Ambrose?”

You look up, unconsciously suppressing a deep frown. Reimu is right next to you, leaning over to see how you were doing.

“You alright there Ambrose?”

“I was just thinking about how to go about this.”

Reimu looks absolutely puzzled as you slowly assume the familiar boxing stance. She warily sends the yin-yang orb away, and prompts you to have a go at it.

With calculated force, you craft the new, marble-sized projectiles from your watch before firing them off in rapid sequence, sending them flying into the orb with considerably more power, knocking the orb back some ways.

“H-hey! That’s pretty good!” Reimu comments, “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up,”

---

Soon, you progress beyond simple shooting while standing still, to moving around and shooting. However, try as you might, you still haven’t quite gotten enough experience with the new shooting spell to be able to cast it on the move as you would your shields.

As you stretch your aching arms out after another round of practice, Reimu appraises your performance,

“I think you’re still fumbling with your watch whenever you have to shoot, and although the power is there, your rate of fire is still a bit low for a full length duel, so I’d think you’d have to rely on outlasting your opponent’s spell card.

Given how tired you seem to be from running and dodging all the time, and by how easily Marisa’s bullets broke your shields, I think you’d have to improve your dodging or the strength of your shields to even attempt outlasting your opponent.”

She pauses for a moment, trying to think carefully as she scratches her head,

“On the other hand, I’d say your footwork is pretty good; you have a solid grasp of grazing your opponent’s shots, even if you can’t keep it up for too long. Your ability to pick up new techniques is also quite good, so I think you’ll get better pretty soon. You might just make a good dueller eventually.”

She nods with a definite finality, crossing her arms again.

The curious part of you is begging to ask a question, so you decide to get Reimu’s attention as you pocket your watch for the first time in a around half an hour,

“Reimu, I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit on flight.”

She does a double take, the confused look in her eyes quickly replaced by intense contemplation.

“Could you explain what you mean?” she asks,

“I meant as in, could you teach me how to fly?”

After some more thinking, she sadly shakes her head, “I’m afraid magical flight is something that is very different for everybody. Before I learnt how to fly, I used to have a companion who helped me along, but I learnt how to fly on my own very soon after that.”

“Would you say it is very hard to fly magically?”

“No, I don’t think it would be very hard,” she replies, her heels floating just slightly above the ground, “Gensokyo is so full of magical energy, so it’s pretty easy to fly if you know how to manipulate the magic around you.”

You can’t help but watch her slow, carefree hovering, trying to figure out how she does it before she simply drops back down. From what you have observed, you can determine that a series of entrapment matrices are used to capture some of the latent-

Click click “Hey Ambrose,”

You snap back to reality, where Reimu is sniggering at your overly serious face,

“Don’t worry too much about it; you’ve got plenty of time to figure it out later,” she says, “What time is it anyway?”

You pull out your watch,

“Seven... seven fifty-three by my watch.”

“Hmm... We’ve still got enough time to make it to the village before lunch,” she says, recalling her yin-yang orbs, “What say we clear up and try to head into the village before it gets too late?”

Sounds like a plan.

---

There'll be plenty of time to talk on the way, but first:

Where to?

[] Keine’s schoolhouse.
[] Kourindou.
[] The market square.
[] Myouren Temple.
>> No. 34169
[x] Myouren Temple.

Byakuren is love.
>> No. 34170
[x] Kourindou.

"Hello there fellow companion! Allow me present myself- OH MY GOD THAT WATCH IS BROKEN!"
>> No. 34171
[x] Keine’s schoolhouse.

We need to find out about local customs and obscure social practices first.
>> No. 34172
[X] Keine’s schoolhouse.

Keine may help in the long run

Not to mention Ambrose doesn't have any money to either spend or donate to the Market and Myouren Temple respectively
>> No. 34173
[X] Keine’s schoolhouse.
>> No. 34174
[] Keine’s schoolhouse.

Cool, shield-danmaku. So, the bullets have hit-boxes?
>> No. 34175
[X] Myouren Temple.

Probably not going to win. I can still dream though.
>> No. 34176
[X] Keine’s schoolhouse.

Gather information before charging in. Applies to virtually every endeavor.
>> No. 34177
[x] Kourindou

Rinnosuke's a pretty cool guy.
>> No. 34178
[X] Keine’s schoolhouse.

Works for me~!
>> No. 34179
[X] Keine’s schoolhouse.
>> No. 34180
[x] Keine’s schoolhouse.
>> No. 34184
[x] Keine’s schoolhouse.

---

“We should probably head over to the schoolhouse first,” you begin, “I’ll need to see if there’s anything I should know about the village as a whole before I plan on doing anything else.”

Reimu nods, recalling her orbs, “Okay then, we’ll get going just after I put this stuff away,”

---

“So, how long would it take to get to the village by flight?” you ask, trailing just behind Reimu,

“Huh?” Reimu gives you a blank look as the two of you proceed down the long, open road.

You glance back at the forest behind you, and briefly point at the hill you both descended from,

“I mean, it’s much faster to travel to the village by flight, given that you could cover much more ground in a shorter period of time, correct?”

“Pretty much, yes,” she replies, keeping an eye out towards the surroundings.

Thankfully, the ground is quite open, so it would be easier to spot someone coming straight at you. Unfortunately, the two of you could probably be seen from miles away, which does not help, considering that you understand that some magic spells have an incredibly long range. Still, in most cases you would have ample warning of an attack.

But you also note that Reimu has not answered the question, so you prompt her.

She sighs, shrugging at you, “To be fair, I’ve never really paid much attention to how long it would take. I don’t make too many trips between home and the village, so I wouldn’t really know,”

“I see.”

---

The two of you continue walking for a while longer, and you have already begun to fiddle with your pocket watch. As you twist and turn the crown in experimental fashion, Reimu seems preoccupied with something on her mind.

Without making eye contact, she asks,

“Who is Elsa?”

You’ve stopped in your tracks, mouth slightly open. Once again, those feelings of confusion spring to the front of your mind, stronger than ever. The brown haired girl, who taught you how to move your feet. You know that she was your friend, at the very least... w-was she?

“W-who?”

“I heard you mumbling the name in your sleep,” Reimu adds, slightly more wary,

It... eludes you. The feelings you are having right now irk you greatly. Knowing without knowing how, or why. The fact is, you know you botched upsomewhereright? You can’t think straightabout trrrr she went and-

For a brief moment, you think you can see those blank, grey eyes again.

“I don’t... know exactly,” you conclude, your voice slightly distant.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” she asks, edging closer.

You clasp your forehead, feeling the aching slowly subside into nothingness. Blinking away the sights, you sheepishly smile at Reimu.

“I’ll be fine. It’ll all come back sometime, I’m sure of it.”

She looks reluctant to believe you, but decides against aggravating the issue further.

---

It is 8.45m and you are closing in on the village boundaries.

Just beyond the defensive palisade, you can make out many, many roofs and can hear the busy citizens within, going about their daily business. The path you’ve followed leads to a small gate, where a pair of simple uniformed men stands watch over the entrance.

As the two of you approach closer, the smaller man prods the larger man back to attention with the shaft of his spear,

“Ey, ey! Taro, take a look,” he urges,

The other man shakes himself back awake,

“Wha? Whus goin’ on Jiro?”

“Check it, it’s the Hakurei girl. She’s brought the head priest along,”

“Mmm?”

Taro takes a closer look at the two of you, waiting in front of the gate,

“Naaaw, it ain’t the head priest. I don’t reckon the old man is that pale. Looks kinda western, actually.”

“Really?”

The two of them stand there, observing you and Reimu with additional scrutiny. It is a curious stalemate, with the two men trying to remember what they were supposed to be doing, whilst Reimu merely looks on in boredom.

Jiro breaks from his exhaustive contemplation, finally standing at the ready,

“Ah, yes. Good morning there, Miss Hakurei. What can we do for you today then?”

Reimu waves at you, “I’ve brought an outsider to see Keine,”

“Anotha one, huh?” Jiro chuckles to himself, moving to open the gate for the two of you, “Yea yea, sure thing Miss Hakurei, go right on in. You know where the school is.”

As you and Reimu pass the gate, moving on, you can still hear Jiro, muttering to himself,

“Hakurei, always the same cold shoulder as usu-”

“I think she can still hear you Jiro,” Taro suggests, pulling the gate shut again.

Reimu seems to be moving slightly faster now.

---

Reimu seems to be rushing with indecent haste, urging you along the street towards a large, central building. You barely have enough time to look around, before she has dragged you into the schoolhouse and told you to wait for her in the main hallway, promptly leaving to try and find Keine. You turn around, beholding the sight of the hall:

It is rather empty in here right now. Around you, there are a few low shelves, filled with various shoes, papers and other odd, children-sized objects. It seems to be quite sparsely decorated, the walls strangely devoid of any colour or informational displays, as most schools are wont to have.

You shuck off your shoes, looking for somewhere to place them, deciding on a deserted shelve nearest to the door. Just wait huh?

Fidgeting slightly as you rock on your heels, you think you can make out the sounds of education, a woman giving clear, concise instructions. The minute sound of chalk scratching against a blackboard can be faintly heard under your breath.

It is intriguing. It seems to be coming from the hallway that Reimu disappeared into, though she is nowhere to be seen. The door seems to be slightly ajar though.

Maybe Keine and Reimu are inside one of the rooms?

[] Head towards the sound of knowledge.
[] Just wait for Reimu to get back.

---

I apologise for the sparse update.
>> No. 34185
[x] Just wait for Reimu to get back.
-[x] Look at the village through a window.
>> No. 34186
[x] Head towards the sound of knowledge.

Interesting thing or boring, safe thing?
>> No. 34187
[x] Head towards the sound of knowledge.

What's a mage without a little curiosity?
>> No. 34188
[x] Head towards the sound of knowledge.

Knowledge. Delicious, attractive knowledge.
>> No. 34189
[X] Head towards the sound of knowledge.

Knowledge? OH NOM NOM NOM NOM
>> No. 34190
[x] Head towards the sound of knowledge.
>> No. 34192
File 133058548483.png - (13.58KB, 384x193, 242.png) [iqdb]
34192
[X] Head towards the sound of knowledge.
>> No. 34193
[X] Head towards the sound of knowledge.

On a completely unrelated note that I feel like mentioning, I just ran into a shiny graveler in pokemon pearl. It exploded right away.
>> No. 34196
Congratulations on your first thread that reached bump limit.
>> No. 34197
[X] Just wait for Reimu to get back.

Eh I know the other choice will win but more importantly.

>Reimu seems to be moving slightly faster now.

>Reimu seems to be rushing with indecent haste

Why, unless she felt some one/thing itching for an opportunity to strike at least Ambrose down dead I can't think of any real reason for the rushing aside maybe some masked disdain for the village?
>> No. 34198
[X] Just wait for Reimu to get back.
>> No. 34199
>>34197
Gee, I wonder. One of them was attempting to talk behind her back while she was in earshot.
>> No. 34201
>>34199

That's just it though, sure wanting to leave the vagrants at the main gate is one thing but throughout a larger portion of the village?
>> No. 34205
[X] Just wait for Reimu to get back.
Fighting against the tide here.
>> No. 34219
>>34206

New thread.
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