Continuation of >>101333
Patchouli is now the unofficial mascot of GH. If this were a VN, she'd be the girl in the middle on the cover.
No, you don't hate her. She's sneaky, devious, and were it not for that duel she might still be trying to kill you, but she's not entirely bad. After you had won, when you were so worn out you couldn't even move on your own, she was the one who carried you back home, helped you to bed, and even watched over you while you rested; although that last one was just a little bit creepy. She could have just ditched you where you were, yet she didn't.
"I feel sorry for the poor girl, since I think she's never had a family of her own. If she wants to think of herself as my rival-sister thing, let her." As Patchouli merely stares at you silently in response, you resume speaking.
"Besides, I sort of... well, look, I'm not going to claim that human emotions always make the most sense, but I... I think I might be enjoying this. Just a little. Hell, when she's not trying to be an evil little monster, she can actually be kind of fun."
"Your definition of 'fun' seems questionable at best. Then again, some humans find it 'fun' to tie an elastic cord to their legs and jump off a bridge..." You chuckle in response to this, although her face doesn't exactly seem amused.
"I guess what I'm saying is I want to try to understand her, to see beyond the face she normally shows of herself. If I didn't at least try to do that much, and instead merely wrote her off as some dangerous monster who must be avoided, how would I be any different than anyone who acts the same towards Flandre?"
"Hm." Her movements slow and calculated as usual, she stands up from her desk, walking over to you with her feet barely touching the ground; seems the sickly magician finds hovering less taxing to her body. Considering the amount of mental energy it cost you to even tip over a glass just a little over a week ago, you wonder just how much power is hidden away within that frail body of hers. Descending to the floor yet again, she stops in front of you, looking you in the eye with an inquisitive expression. A slightly worrying feeling of deja vu washes over you.
"Indeed, I agree with you."
"Yes. Human emotions do not always make the most sense." Oh, she was referring to -that-...
"However... I suppose this is what fascinates me the most about -you-, as well."
"...What do you mean?"
She smiles at you with her eyes, even if the rest of her face is as expressionless as ever; it's still comforting, somehow.
"You do not make any sense either at times. You are still young and inexperienced in life, even by human standards; you should not have to endure such trials and situations. And yet, you accept what goes on around you, suppressing your fears and seeking to understand this strange land you find yourself in. There is either something very admirable about you, or something terribly wrong with you. Therefore..."
Ah. She's patting your head again...
"...I do hope you manage to stay alive and stick around; I would love to study you further, and to help you understand both Gensokyo and yourself better."
"There is nothing to be thankful for. I am merely stating my opinions."
"Oh, and about that thing between me and Remilia, well... The truth is, she made me promise not to tell anyone about it - remember, I said this before, didn't I? It's like when you asked me not to tell her I saw you in your, ah... condition, the other day. I, uh..."
"I understand. Now, you should rush back to class; the math lesson is about to begin any moment now."
For a moment, you swear you can hear the sound of rapid footsteps disappearing as you turn to the door, but dismiss it as nothing for now. You've got no time for that sort of thing right now.
Patchouli was right; you barely made it to the auditorium before the bell rang, panting tiredly and cursing yourself for not having lead a more athletic life (and for taking so freaking long to answer a goddamn simple question). Granted, dodging deadly demonic damsels daily does probably help build up some stamina over time; a hidden upside to Rumia's constant shenanigans? Trying to shake the image of you running in next week's sports day with a steak tied to your pants with Rumia gleefully chasing after you out of your head, you wander over to your seat and plop down with an unexpectedly loud yawn. And you've still got an appointment at Eientei today, too. What a drag...
"Hey, you okay? You're breathing awfully heavily..." Flandre expresses her concern for you, as she usually does whenever you look even the slightest bit out of the ordinary. Poor girl really does worry too much, doesn't she?
"Yeah, I'm good. Just tired from running over here; took a little too long to talk with the teacher, that's all." Technically, since you're not mentioning any names, this is not a lie; Flandre seems perfectly satisfied with this explanation as well, further supported by Keine arriving to the auditorium after you, surprisingly late. Flandre turns her gaze to the teacher, continuing to speak with genuine concern in her voice.
"Ah, but... What about miss Kamishirasawa? She seems pretty tired today, too..."
"Ah, she just has a headache, don't worry about it... I'm sure she'll be just fine again next week. Right?" Flandre seems to be convinced as you shoot an encouraging smile in her direction, grinning back at you with an enthusiastic nod. Keine seems a little better than before, too; you're guessing she might have paid a visit to Eirin after you left her office. Wonder what's eating at the poor woman; Mokou's absence, or the stress of handling all these troublemakers around you? As you ponder these thoughts, the lesson gradually rolls on past. While most of the first-years are as troublesome as ever - such as the long-blue-haired girl whose hat you defiled the other day in a fit of insanity - Cirno's definitely made some progress when it comes to math, despite still making plenty of mistakes; her improvement seems enough to put a smile on Keine's face, and that makes you rather happy too. Good for her! And Flandre, too, for doing such a good job helping out her friend. Now if only she'd help you out with this stuff as well...
And there's the bell again.
...Well. Conveniently enough, Flandre called off club activities for the day because she wanted to see her sister home. What a kind and loving gesture, don't you think? And yet, here you are, standing in front of the school gate in front of the sisters, who are looking at you expectantly before saying any goodbyes. That's right, you had originally intended to tell them today, after school, right? Man, what a situation... Flandre is gazing at you with wide, oblivious eyes, wondering what you could possible have to tell her that had to wait until after school, whereas Remilia merely sends a somewhat tired and grumpy look in your general direction, leaning on her sister as if she needs the support to stand up; Flandre doesn't seem to mind.
"So," the elder sister speaks up after a moment of awkward silence and standing, "what was it you wanted to talk to us about? I'm... *yawn* ...too tired for nonsense today, Jin." Ugh, you're not sure whether you should be upset that even Remilia is calling you by that silly nickname, or pleased that she's still in a friendly enough mood to use nicknames at all. To buy yourself some time, you do the first thing that comes to your mind - you walk right up to the two vampire sisters and grab their hands, provoking a quiet squeak out of Flandre and a wide-eyed stare of surprise from Remilia.
"What are you-..."
"Remilia. Flandre. The reason I wanted to talk to you today was to ask..." Dramatic pause.
"...Can I move in with you two?"
"Eh?" they both exclaim in chorus.
"Well, sis, we have a lot of empty rooms, don't we?" Oh dear; Flandre seems to have fallen for it completely, actually seeming happy with the idea. Remilia, on the other hand, seems to have been taken completely off-guard, her tired state not helping her handle the situation any better.
"That would be highly inappropriate, would it not? And besides, your host family, and and and-..."
"Relax, I was joking!" The elder sister deflates visibly at this, whereas Flandre seems a little disappointed.
"You and your jokes... Was there anything you -really- wanted to talk about or not?"
"Well... I just wanted to let you two know, once again, how much I appreciate your friendship. I've said this before, but the way you two have offered me, an outside and complete stranger, such a warm welcome and hospitality, it's... Well, I can't even put it into words. You've made me feel welcome in Gensokyo, like I belong here, and I've only been here two weeks. I'm glad to have met and befriended the both of you. Thank you." Since this is essentially part of what you had planned to say to them after the reveal anyway, this is not a lie; Flandre's cheeks gradually turn a little pink as you continue speaking, whereas Remilia merely smirks at you in a somewhat condescending manner.
"Well now, you're making me sound like some sort of saint."
You return the smirk and continue.
"...And I was wondering whether or not it'd be okay for me to visit the mansion again this weekend."
"Hmph!" Remilia scoffs at you, in an obviously playful manner, her usual nature quickly returning to her, and her wings twitching lightly in mischievous excitement.
"First you butter me up with praise and compliments, then you ask to leech off my hospitality yet again! Ah well, I suppose it can't be helped, can it? Not tonight, though... I'm too tired to be a proper hostess." You nod in agreement, and you say your goodbyes, the sisters heading off towards the mansion side by side; you hear the rhythmic sound of footsteps from behind you once the two fade into the distance, turning around to see Keine approaching you with a warm smile on her face, her dress gently flowing in the wind that picks up all of a sudden, prompting you to keep your hat from flying off and causing your scarf to billow in the gale. She seems to be feeling fine by now; while her face still shows signs of a general lack of sleep, she at least seems cheerful and energetic yet again.
"I'm sorry for eavesdropping... But I am glad to hear you're getting along so well with the sisters. You've grown rather close with those two over these two weeks, haven't you?"
"Yeah, I guess so... Ah, will we be heading to Eientei now?"
"In a moment. We're still waiting for-... Ah, there she is." Keine waves to Reisen, coming out of the schoolhouse and seeming as overworked as ever, before tossing her a set of keys so she can lock up the doors. Hm, did you ever return the set of keys she gave you the other day.."
"Well then, shall we be off?"
The Bamboo Forest of the Lost. This is the second time you've set foot in this seemingly boundless thicket, and yet it still looks all the same to you no matter where you look, thick stalks shooting up into the sky in random patterns from the ground in all directions. It's a miracle how both Reisen and Keine seem to know exactly where they're going, every single step perfectly familiar with the terrain, whereas you're stumbling here and there on rocks and foliage. The former you can understand - she lives in this mad forest, after all - but what about Keine? She must pay frequent visits to Mokou to be this familiar with the place. Thinking back to your last visit to Eientei, you can't help but glance about, jolting in mild panic whenever you think you see a strangely-colored pair of glowing eyes flicker in the distance; or were those fireflies?
"Hey, um, miss Kamishirasawa..? Is it safe for us to just walk through here like this? The sun's already getting low, and the wildlife here-..."
"Ah, don't worry, I'll... Ah." She pauses for a moment, pondering how to say whatever it is that she intended to tell you.
"Well, I should probably tell you that I'm also a 'guardian' of sorts, of the village. Don't worry; if any of the beasts get too brave, I'll take care of them and protect you. Alright?" Although you couldn't possibly imagine this kind and motherly woman ever getting physically violent with anyone, whether man or beast, something about the encouraging smile on her face urges you to trust her completely; you nod in response, gathering up your willpower to stay calm and focused on the task at hand - convincing Kaguya to come to school. Soon enough, your trek through the forest is at an end, and you find yourselves before the door to the House of Eternity itself once more. Reisen kindly lets you in, saving you the trouble of knocking and negotiation your entry.
Of course, it wouldn't possibly be this simple, now would it?
"Absolutely not. I already told you, the princess has no need to be taught in a classroom setting; my tutelage is sufficient for her lifestyle." Eirin stands before you, arms crossed in defiance, staring down a rather frustrated-looking Keine; the tension in the air is high, and Reisen decides to excuse herself for the moment, a nervous smile dancing across her face before she rushes off. You've never seen Keine look this upset before.
"Her lifestyle, you say? And do you honestly think sitting at home all day, being pampered like this is a fitting lifestyle for a young woman? She needs to get out, learn to socialize, get a proper education, and-..."
"Why? Who are -you- to decide that her lifestyle is wrong, hmm? Aren't you being just a little bit pretentious, barging into our home and demanding we change our ways like this?" Eirin's harsh words seem to hit the mark, causing Keine to involuntarily take a step backwards, glaring at the silver-haired woman silently for a brief moment. Before you can decide whether you should butt in or keep quiet like a good boy, the situation is defused by the sound of sliding doors, as the topic of the conversation, herself, casually walks into the room, a bored expression on her face as her impossibly long dark hair flows behind her.
"Princess? Why are you-..."
"Miss Houraisan, we're here to-..."
"Yes, yes, I heard you through the walls... You two were quite loud in your arguing. Eirin, isn't it irresponsible of you to wake me up like that?" A scolding smirk is sent in Eirin's direction, who promptly bows while muttering a quiet apology to her princess.
"These two have come to seek an audience with you; should I send them away?" Eirin certainly seems like a completely different person when things concern Kaguya; harsh and adamant. Keine scowls in her general direction, already preparing to argue her case should the two of you be told to leave, and yet... Kaguya covers her mouth with a hand in an overly long sleeve, chuckling to herself quietly, amusement plain in her voice, as if this whole situation were some sort of game to her. Well, perhaps it is? Who knows what goes on in that girl's head, after all...
"No. Let them stay. In fact, I'm willing to grant an audience..."
"...Do not interrupt, Eirin. As I was saying - no, as I declare - I hereby grant an audience to... him." A delicate pale finger emerges from the sleeve, pointing directly at you, Kaguya's dark eyes narrowing slightly as the corners of her mouth curl upwards. You're not sure you like the implications of that facial expression.
"But-..." Eirin and Keine utter in unison, but are cut off by Kaguya once again.
"No buts, Eirin. Do feed the boy and show him to my resting room once he's finished, will you?"
"Yes, princess." Eirin bows to Kaguya, who's already turned around to leave the room, before turning to face you, a mild look of concern on her face; you're hoping she doesn't start thinking poorly of you because of this situation. Hell, you didn't even say a word there!
Food sounds nice, though...
"Thank you for the meal," you say timidly after finishing your food. It was rather good, really, though not particularly filling. The meal went by in near complete silence, Keine grudgingly accepting the offer herself, Eirin sitting with you two and half-heartedly allowing herself to eat as well. You briefly wonder where Reisen has gone to, before Eirin sets down her chopsticks, gazing at youin a hesitant manner. She really doesn't want to let you talk to Kaguya about this, does she?
"Well. I guess it's time for you to follow me, then. Miss Kamishirasawa, if you would kindly wait here..." Keine doesn't dignify Eirin with a response, merely nodding once and remaining seated as you stand up. Must be some bad history between Keine and the Eientei residents. In any case, Eirin leads you down the stretching halls-... Wait, this is oddly familiar. Except, well, these hallways are straight and impossibly long, whereas the Scarlet Devil mansion's halls crisscross and make seemingly random turns in odd directions like a maze, only to end with a dead end or an inexplicable staircase. At a seemingly random point, she turns and opens another sliding door, letting you into a small room between two such doors.
"Remember. Be polite. Be respectful. Be-..." She sighs softly, rubbing her temples in a tired manner, before turning her eyes to you again.
"Look, just don't say or do anything stupid, alright?"
"Er, alright... I'll do my best." She nods in response, closing the door between you two; you hear her footsteps head back down the direction you came from, before becoming inaudible. Turning around, you inhale deeply and steel yourself for the upcoming negotiations, before opening the door; you're greeted with the sight of Kaguya, sitting on a rather extravagant chair of sorts, her legs crossed under her skirt, and leaning her head on her hand, a sly grin on her face as she watches you awkwardly bow and formally introduce yourself.
"Ah, but I haven't told you to speak yet, have I? Tut-tut... No manners to speak of." Crap...
"But I'm willing to overlook it. After all..." She leans forward in her seat, eyes like those of a predator, fixed on you intently.
"...I can tell you're going to amuse me. So, you wish for me to attend your little highschool, do you? I wonder how persuasive you can be... What could you offer me, Kaguya Houraisan, that I don't already have? Or can you sway me with your words? Or would you beg me like a pathetic little word, grovel in the dirt, lick my feet? Huhuhu~" She pauses to giggle to herself, already thoroughly amused by mocking you.
"Or... perhaps you could attempt a little test of character, hmm?"
"I wonder... Could you possibly complete my five impossible requests?" The grin on her face spreads wider, and she leans back in her seat, waiting for your response.
 Five impossible requests? Bring 'em on! Nothing is impossible.
 Beg, grovel, lick her feet.
 Stick to the original plan - play on the obvious rivalry Kaguya appears to have with Mokou to compel her to attend school.