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173878 No. 173878
[-j-] Maybe just moving her to somewhere near Patchouli, so that it wouldn't be hard to find her if Meiling needs anything.

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"Well, would it be possible to change rooms?" An idea comes to mind as Meiling considers her offer, after she discards the slightest thought of asking if she could leave. The answer is not going to change, no matter how many times she asks. "I'm… Well, I'm in the middle of the mansion, as far as I can tell."

Before she can continue, Sakuya cuts Meiling off. "Actually, you are not at the center of my abode. It might not be that easy to understand, but you are wherever I care for you to be that particular day. That is if I have a purpose for you to be there. I do like to rearrange the house, so I suppose it may alter randomly."

"…Then it wouldn't be much of a problem?" Taking any chance she can get, Meiling decides to press her advantage. "I just was wondering if I could have a room near Patchouli. Someplace that I might find others more easily." Sakuya doesn't react at all except to give Meiling that same smile. "…I figured that your… maids are always working, and I wouldn't want to get in their way. And Patchouli is a guest of yours, isn't that right?"

She nods, her smile widening as she looks away. "That she is. Quite the intriguing one, I must admit. Clever in her own way, and possesses a certain… conviction that seems lacking in most humans. I always do enjoy watching her work." Clapping her hands, she turns back. "That sounds like a splendid idea, then. I shall go ahead and move you into her old chambers."

Meiling's eyes widen as she realizes what the girl has decided. "T-that won't be necessary, you know. I can just stay in the current room I am in. You are able to move the room, or at least you claimed—"

"Of course I can. But your solution solves the problem that I was having with your room. I had forgotten how much humans like you shed. Those little flakes of skin are everywhere, and they practically make me shiver with disgust." Even with her harsh words, her voice never wavers and the smile stays on her face. That alone belies her words more than any annoyance could. "Of course, it is not your fault, inferior as you are. With this solution, though, we shall solve things post haste."

"But what about Patchouli? I am sure she needs her room herself. She does have to sleep, after all." Sakuya doesn't answer, and doubt begins to creep into her mind. "…Doesn't she?"

"That she does, yes. However, instances are rather few and far between. She is rather absorbed with her work. Obsessed, you may say." Sakuya giggles a bit as she folds her hands over her front. "Quite curious indeed. I have yet to see another human so sickly yet so energetic as well. She is quite the fascinating guest."

"So you've said. But still, I'd rather not trouble her any. I don't mind being on my own. You could put me outside in a small hut for all I care. I just… Don't like not knowing where I am."

The smile on her face widens a bit, and Sakuya steps even closer to Meiling, getting a bit closer than is comfortable in the process. "But that is why I am here.. I will take care of you, if you will let me." One smooth hand reaches up and rubs against Meiling's cheek, causing goose bumps to pop up in the process. "Understand? Be a good guest and don't think too hard. It's my job to think for you, and to take care of you."

Silently, Meiling stares back and waits for Sakuya to remove the hand. Eventually it falls away, and thankfully she doesn't have to put up with being touched by the woman. Especially with a hand that contains no warmth. "…Well, I suppose that staying in Patchouli's room is fine, as long as she does not object. Does that make you happy?"

"Indeed." Taking a step away, Sakuya walks past Meiling, looking into the far reaches of the room as she strolls about. "It is quite annoying to look at your home and see small little flakes of skin littering everywhere. A particular annoyance that I might have, yes. But one does have to clean up after your guests, so it is a burden that I bear in order to make them happy." She twirls about as she turns back to Meiling. "Although, you aren't the worse offender, by far. My precious little maids can be annoying little sacks of flesh. They make such a stink if I have to punish them."

Grimacing quite a bit by now, Meiling forces herself to continue speaking. It'd be better to not let this woman get bored and start making even more changes to her arrangements in order to entertain her. "…Why would that be the case?" A few rather nasty visions come to mind as she envisions the various ways that she or others would react to being punished.

"Because, they stink so much on the inside, Meiling. Stink so much…" She sighs wistfully as begins to speak once more. "In their insides… They're not like you, you know. They're dead, merely alabaster corpses that somehow still manage to walk. And even as the shell is holding together, they are rotten on the inside." Smiling, she nearly claps her hands again as she continues to speak. "Although, that was partially rectified by my gift. It was just my initial payment to them, after all. Instead of the diseased and bloodied remains, they are now much healthier and more whole than they have been in centuries. Really, they should be happy."

"…That sounds rather disgusting." Granted, the two maids had certainly looked pale, and parts of them didn't look human. "But… How do they even stay alive? If their insides are melting away… I mean, I can't think of any way that someone could survive like that…"

"You really do not think outside of the box, do you?" Chuckling, Sakuya's voice darkens even as her smile widens. "They are not human. After all, what is so unnatural about excising a part of yourself that you no longer need? They do not need them anymore, so there is no need to let the inside of the body remain healthy. They are mere vain creatures that care only for their outside… Animals that have been graced with thought."

"And you let animals be your maids?" The words slip out faster than she can help it, and Meiling immediately freezes. No retort comes, though, and she relaxes a little bit before continuing. "No offense, but you did just say that they were. You seem more amused by her failing than pleased when she succeeds."

Smiling still, Sakuya strolls past Meiling once more as the stars that surround the two continue to sparkle. "A favored pet does bring pleasure when it succeeds, but there is quite a lot of enjoyment in seeing a proud and ignoble creature forced to act below its station and fight great creatures for your entertainment."

"Are you running a fight club, here? Or a gladiatorial arena?" Meiling is unable to keep her lips from turning up a bit in disgust. "A fight is best when both of the combatants are willing and desiring to combat."

"Whoever said I make them fight for my amusement?" She laughs a little bit as she pauses. Her lips quirk and her skirt suddenly flares before she quiets it. "Well, it is done. What possessions you had have been transferred. One of my maids is currently waiting to show you the way." Smiling, Sakuya kneels down and sits on what Meiling thinks is the ground. There is no definite end, though, and trying to figure it out makes her mind hurt and eyes water. "Although, I would most certainly appreciate it if you stayed here a little longer. We have not had time to look at the stars much, have we?"

[ ] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.
[ ] Go. Patchouli would probably explain it better, and be less biased as well.

No. 173879
Part One: >>166200
Part Two: >>167739
No. 173880
[x] Go. Patchouli would probably explain it better, and be less biased as well.

I suspect that the other option is going to make us lose some portion of our humanity and or sanity. The answer to 'please explain' is going to be 'why don't I show you' and then we get mind fucked by eldritch horrors.

On a related note we will need to take an offer of power at some point and give up some humanity especially since I get the feeling were going to try and save everyone again. This however is not the right offer to take in my opinion, assuming it even is one.
No. 173885
[x] Go. Patchouli would probably explain it better, and be less biased as well.

These 'stars' are starting to give me the creeps on this side of the fourth wall, too. Let's go, but at least say something first.
No. 173888
[ x] Go. Patchouli would probably explain it better, and be less biased as well.

Well that was informative. . .kinda. This Sakuya now qualifies as the world's scariest neat freak.

I think it's time to leave, those god knows what those stars will do to Meiling.
No. 173889
[x] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.

Not sure, but that may be her little way of telling her guest to stay put. Would this count as defiance? And would it anger or amuse her?
No. 173890
[x] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.

Sakuya said she would appreciate it if we stay. We should try and gain as much good will from our captor host as possible. It will make it much easier to escape our stay a lot more pleasant.
No. 173892
[x] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.

I think we should stay, though we need to be very careful, we might either get her to slip up, or more likely reward us with more information if we can get on her good side or amuse her. While I think Patchouli is more trustworthy, that doesn't mean we should trust her. She has her own goals. She's a powerful mage currently playing a game with a youkai. Until we know the nature of the game we don't know who we can trust.
No. 173893
[X] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.

Perhaps staying would be beneficial in its own way.
No. 173894
[x] Go. Patchouli would probably explain it better, and be less biased as well.

>>173890

I cannot agree with your reasoning for the simple reason that a number of readers had that line of thinking and was almost rewarded for their troubles with a Bad End. I say 'almost' because the author decided to be lenient that time, presumably on account of that being the first main crisis point.

Here's the backstory to that incident:

Alice implied that she would appreciate it if Lucas played with her in No Such Thing as Fairytales. We would've obliged her too, if it wasn't for Margatroid's direct intervention preventing Alice from turning him into another doll she can play with for the rest of eternity.

Clearly, trying to please youkai for the sake of getting into their good graces can easily backfire on us. For all we know, remaining in this room may warp Meiling's humanity to the point that it'll be impossible for her to think rationally, let alone escape. It's clear that Sakuya wants to do something more than just show off the properties of this room, and although I'm somewhat partial to obliging her myself, I wouldn't be surprised if staying in the room would result in undesirable repercussions and/or a Bad End. After all, we barely escaped a fate worse than death before only because the author was overly forgiving, considering the circumstances.

If my concerns are realized in the next update, then at the very least, I would like everybody to be aware of why it was inevitable. It would be nice if nothing unfortunate happens in the room, but knowing the sadistic tendencies of the author, that's probably not going to happen.
No. 173895
>>173894
Your not responding to my comments, but I understand where you're coming from. At the same time though we can't assume the situation is the same. After all we were able, to an extent, manipulate Wiggle and Sakuya is clearly more intelligent then Wiggle and Alice. Of course that does make her more dangerous which also gives more weight to your argument. At the same time though, if we leave we risk prompting a negative response.
Also while I'm hesitant to guess at her motive, I don't think she wants to harm us or change us at this point because I think we're supposed to remain human as part of the parameters of the game. It all comes back to the fact we lack knowledge about the game between Patchouli and Sakuya. I personally chose to stay because we can always quiz Patchouli later and I'm not sure she'll be happy that we've moved into her room. A risk I know, but right now our lack of information is dangerous.
No. 173896
>>173894

>>173895 has already explained my reasoning to some extent, but I'd like to add that we can't assume that each Youkai will react to a certain situation the same. Every Youkai has their own 'rules' as it were. The key to dealing with them is figuring out where their rules differ from that of an ordinary human. Keeping your host company plays to the rules of hospitality, which seems to be important to some extent for Sakuya. Keeping her company should be relatively safe, as it plays to our role of 'Guest' in Sakuya's little game. Or so I'm hoping anyway.

Forgive me if I'm a little incoherent, I haven't slept very well.
No. 173901
Having read all that, I'm changing my vote to:

[X] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.
No. 173903
Curious.

Well, I think that's enough time. Vote called; I don't want it changing back while I write the update.
No. 173905
>>173903

Oh, dear. That tone of voice can't be good...
No. 173910
[-k-] Stay. Maybe she'll explain what is going on, especially if Meiling prods enough.

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"I suppose that would be… fine." Sighing, Meiling walks over to the woman, taking care to not get too close to her. As Sakuya waits, Meiling tries to figure out how best to convince herself to sit on the endless void below her. In the end, she closes her eyes and decides to trust her sense of touch instead of her eyes.

Fortunately, there is solid ground beneath her, cold and smooth as polished stone. When she opens her eyes again, though, she sees nothing but the great void beyond, with the empty stars and the faint misting of dust clouds scattered as far as eternity. Her mind begins to hurt as she tries to make sense of the sight before her. It was no painting, nor a simulation. It merely was.

Through it all, Sakuya continues to keep that smile on her face as she watches Meiling. "Enjoying the sight? It is quite intriguing, I believe. Just makes me want to stare at forever, and realize how little space that even I have under my command."

"Really?" Glancing at the woman for but a moment, Meiling shrugs and turns back, staring at the small twinkling lights as she seemingly floats in the void. "I mean… it's quite a lot. It feels like I'm actually in space. …What is this place? This is something more than an image…"

"Perhaps." Sakuya squeezes her legs together. "It is not, isn't it? Truly, the glamour of such magic is quite seductive. Anything can truly become anything, and nothing is forbidden. It is primal and strong… There is nothing that stops one from merely taking what is desired."

Meiling looks down, trying to think of a response. As she only can come up with vertigo from looking at the endless depths below her, she closes her eyes once more. "Then why do you not take what you want from me? I know there is some reason that you have kept me around you this long."

"Can it not be because I simply desire a fresh guest? A new, if ignorant pair of eyes to look upon this fine world that I have created, a bubble inside a plane outside of time? I am quite proud of myself, and my creations. I cannot help but to show them off, and impress. Can you not understand?"

"I… do, I think." Certainly her home is quite impressive, if maddening enough to send an architect to a padded room. However, the longer she has been here, the greater the sense has become that something is wanted from her. After all, she does not have a choice on whether or not she should stay. "Although… You never answered my question from earlier. Or do you not want to tell me what this place is?"

Smiling, Sakuya looks over to you. "I would like you to figure it out. Tell me, little human, what lies before your eyes? Or is the sight so grand that your mind cannot comprehend it?"

Grumbling quite a bit, Meiling shakes her head. "Well, it's a field of stars… But not one I have ever seen before. The alignment is all off, and the constellations… They are not even close. Not even similar. And I have never been able to see these clouds in the sky before. …Were did you find such images to project? Or is this a painting of such skill it manages to come to life…?"

Laughing gaily, Sakuya leans back her head and chortles for a little while. "A painting? Truly, that is an idea. One of my maids could have conceivably done such a thing… But no. I am not one for the arts. They elude me, as much as I've tried to understand. Imitation is easy enough. And, after all, this is nothing but a memory."

"…You've seen this, then." Meiling's mind tries to work out exactly how she could have witnessed such a sight. "Have you… some telescope in this house of yours? An observatory to look out at the stars?"

"Not at all. I witnessed it myself." Her smile widens, and her eyes glint in the soft light. "It was when I was just created. I wished to discover how far I could go. How much time would bend to me. So I decided to walk. When I ran out of places to walk on your Earth, I walked in Gensokyo. And, eventually, I ran out of room to walk there. I could have gone to some lesser plane and continued my exercise, some primordial realm that had been created by a mad mage, but I decided against it."

"I merely stepped off of Gensokyo, and kept going."

Not knowing whether to laugh at the lie being spun for her or to just nod politely and encourage her on, Meiling doesn't move after the woman's declaration. However, as Sakuya's eyes flicker to Meiling's and begin to burn into them, she shakes her head and asks, "How? How could that even be possible? Don't you have to have air? Or food? Or water? There is no way that someone can simply walk into space…"

Elegantly shrugging, Sakuya glances away, a rather noticeable smirk on her face all the same. "Perhaps for a human. But we are… different. And time did not pass at all. I never would have grown hungry, or thirsty or tired. I eat because it pleases me, not because I need sustenance." After a few moments of silence, she finally decides to ask Meiling something. "So, what do your eyes thing of virgin space? Isn't it a feast that no meal could even attempt to match?"

"I… I suppose." Turning her eyes back to the vast expanse, Meiling looks at it. It's unusual… I mean, the stars are beautiful, in the night sky, but there are no patterns here. It is… wild, I suppose. It hurts to look at, but it's hard to take my eyes away from it." The longer she stares, the more difficult it is to look away. There is no end in front of her, nothing but the inky blackness to interrupt the sight.

"So true. It is beautiful, isn't it?" Meiling finally tears her eyes from the sight before looking to the woman sitting next to her. Sakuya is pointedly staring at the night sky, although something in her voice sounds off as she looks back. "Such passion in them. Emotions wild, unchained, and raw. Something so vast… And yet, you can't help but to reach out and touch it… and try and possess it."

Sighing, Meiling looks away. "That's all it comes down to, doesn't it? It's just like the vampires. You wanted them so bad, and you made them yours. And even this… it's the same thing."

"Perhaps it is." Smiling, Sakuya folds her hands. "I suppose I am compensating for that which I cannot make. But in the end, it is something I must have. Such beauty, in such a vast expanse… Something that only time can give, and time can take away." Blinking, she leaps to her feet, smoothly coming to her full height. "And time is now up. I must depart."

"What do you have to do now?" The urge to make some sarcastic comment is great, but Meiling holds her tongue. "You've been gone for days. And you've got your maids to take care of this place. What do you need to do?"

With one more shrug of the shoulders, Sakuya begins to walk toward the side of the room. "Quite a bit. More than you would expect. It has been longer than days for me, as well. Sometimes, one needs to watch time flow to adore its crystalline perfection when frozen. But first…" Smiling, she stands unmoving, staring at Meiling. Before the girl can start to be disturbed by the woman's unwavering gaze, the black depths start to fade away. A million lights are vanished in an instant as the giant magical diorama is pulled away. Not even five seconds later, a plain room of black and white is all that remains of the otherworldly sight. "I must clean up myself. Farewell for now, Meiling."

"Think about what I have shown you… and what you desire yourself."

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Five minutes later, Meiling finally climbs to her feet, having done enough thinking for herself. She tries to keep her mind calm and quiet as she pushes the encounter out of her mind. At the very least, the reappearance of the room proper makes it easier for her to make her way back to the door, although her legs are still quite unstable. She feels like a drunk with how much trouble she has wobbling to the nearest support.

A few minutes later, having decided that she is quite calm enough, Meiling opens the door. On the other side is the familiar sight of the white-haired maid and her implacable face. Silently she turns around and bids Meiling to follow after, a favor that the girl silently returns.

[ ] Ask her something. She has the opportunity.
-[ ] What?
[ ] Say nothing. Silence is quite appreciated by both parties right now.
No. 173913
[x] Say nothing. Silence is quite appreciated by both parties right now.

I must say, that went a lot better than I expected it to.

Unless this is only the beginning...
No. 173917
[x] Say nothing. Silence is quite appreciated by both parties right now.

Going with this because I don't want to anger Remilia. A little space might be good for both of us, though I hate to miss this chance to build trust between us. If someone can think of something clever I'm all for it. We need all the allies we can get. We need to be very careful here though, all our potential allies seem just as dangerous.

Remilia is a vampire who feeds on humans and can control fate to an extent. We don't want to trade one form of entrapment for another. Also with her, the risk of having to fight Sakuya, which we might not be able to avoid anyways, is greater.

Rumia might help us, but she also might eat us. This would also put us in clear conflict with Patchouli.

Patchouli is at least human,probably, for what that's worth. Of course she's also a powerful mage willing to torture other creatures in the name of research. She clearly has Sakuya's respect and she's there for a reason. From the prologue we know she's involved in a bet with Sakuya and until we know what the game is, we have no clue if we can trust her or not.

I'm not sure what to think of Flandre yet and I'm sure we'll meet others as time passes...or doesn't, whichever Sakuya prefers.

Just as side note, I find it interesting that Lucas, who has developed into a complex thinking and well spoken man capable of wading through nuanced situations, finds himself struggling with his bestial nature and constantly thrown into physical altercations.
Meiling on the other hand, while not dumb, appears to be much more straightforward and meek in conversation. Someone who may not have the best education and is much more comfortable in physical situations and fights from her rural upbringing. Yet she finds herself trapped inside and forced to solve the mystery of her situation and read the motives of those around her.
No. 173918
[X] Say nothing. Silence is quite appreciated by both parties right now.
No. 173974
[-l-] Say nothing. Silence is quite appreciated by both parties right now.

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What is there to say? Sakuya has told Meiling enough things to bother her mind. There's no need to try and pester Remilia for anything else that would add to the load on her mind. Besides, every time that Meiling has even tried to speak with her, she's managed to insult her. Better to just keep her mouth shut and not prove that she is a fool.

The walk is the same as before, but after being in that room for so long looking at the stars, the stark corridors of black and white are nearly comforting. There is no warmth in a single panel upon the walls, not one single strip of paper that would make it inviting. Still, the up and down and left and right is there, and Meiling draws an easier breath.

After a dozen turns and a few staircases, none of which twisted sideways meet up with a door sideways on the wall, Remilia leads Meiling to a large set of double doors whose frames are adorned with a rather intricate pattern that has a soft light shining within. While tempted to ask the vampire about it, Meiling bites her tongue and merely waits to see if Remilia stops in her tracks here, or if there is another destination to travel to.

"Holding your tongue, then?" Remilia casts her eyes upon Meiling as the maid pulls open the doors. "Perhaps the plebeians still are capable of learning." Her lips curl up just a bit as Meiling reacts with distaste. "Shush. I speak nothing aside from that which is true. You would do well to continue to listen, instead of speaking with ignorance."

Sighing, Meiling does nothing but shake her head as she follows behind the maid. The temptation to react is always there, but she is determined to not say anything unless it is worth it. There has been nothing needing description so far, and the room the two had just entered within hardly needs one.

After all, a series of bookshelves lining a singular path leading deep into the large chamber could only indicate a few different types of rooms. Seeing dozens of books on shelves that curiously seem quite empty, though, finally encourages her to speak. "Some sort of library, I suppose? Patchouli did mention that she was researching…" Meiling trails off as the sight of Rumia's body flashes into her mind, causing a little bit of bile to rise in her throat.

Remilia clucks her tongue in annoyance, although her disappointment is not as severe as it has been at times previously. "Not quite. This location is not a store of knowledge. It is a… depository of her trophies. A record of all of her conquests." Her eyes dart to the shelves as she continues to lead Meiling along, and the other glances at the objects stored on them. While hard to see in the dim light, there is a large assortment of other esoteric objects lining the shelves. From tapestries to gowns to various potpourri, the large shelves seemingly grow various precious treasures from within their dark depths. "There are hundreds of items in here. Some from Youkai, some from humans such as yourself. …There are a few items that have been purloined from my own home when she took us as her slaves."

Taking the chance to keep her speaking, Meiling finally responds to the maid instead of minding her tongue. "There are? May I ask why she would take them? Just as trophies?"

"I did say that, yes." Remilia's oddly young voice sounds almost mellow as her eyes dart among the shelves. "It is a reminder of what we were… Something wiped from our minds. So secure… One day, I will take advantage of that. And I will ruin her."

Meiling hums quietly, letting her continue to mutter about words that she has never heard more. Her tongue slips into foreign speech a few times, mentioning a variety of portraits and busts, along with a few heirlooms that had been taken among the various harsh, incomprehensible exclamations. Still, after a half-minute of ranting and walking along the shelves, which have by now transitioned from eclectic assortments of gorgeous antiques to the unmistakable gleam of blades to books once more. This time, the shelves are packed denser now, not showing a single bare inch of black wood.

Remilia manages to control herself as she forces her face back to the unnatural placidness that she forces herself to keep. "My… apologies. My temper still does get the better of me." Sighing forcefully, the maid shakes her head. "Still better than that of my sister. If I get my hands on Sakuya for changing her…" Her hands curl into a fist as her long nails nearly pierce her skin. "Enough. I shall not go that way once more."

A few steps later, the bookcases end, and a few tables appear in their stead. "This is where I leave you off. Patchouli can show you the rest of the way from here." She looks Meiling in the eye once more, judging the taller girl with a keen eye. The red depths pin the girl as some vestige of power attempts to loose itself of its own prison. The faintest of smiles grace Remilia's lips before she turns about and primly marches off.

Taking a deep breath, Meiling balls her own fists before exhaling voluminously. "I really hate this…" Grumbling under her breath, she looks down next to the tables littered with books and parchment, searching for the pale woman.

"Behind you." Meiling jumps and spins about to stare down at Patchouli, who managed to somehow sneak up on her without making a sound. "Do not be so surprised. I no longer need to support myself with feet, after all." Without a word, she floats back to the table and takes a seat in a chair, shuffling together a series of papers covered with black ink. "Why have you come here?"

"Sakuya… sent me." Sighing, Meiling looks down. "She asked me if there was anything I wanted, since she had not been that good to her guest. I just wanted a place that was closer to you, since you are the nicest one I've met. She decided I could move into your room."

"Did she, now?" Patchouli's voice remains emotionless as she puts a collection of papers together in one set before taking out five more sheets. "Amusing. I suppose that would be fine. I do not tend to use my quarters much at all. It is safer in here, anyways."

Frowning, Meiling tilts her head. "Is that so? Why would that be?" Patchouli doesn't answer her, and the girl just shakes her head. "Well, I suppose I'll just have to take your word for it. …May I at least ask what you are doing?"

"Drawing up new sheets for today's experimentation. Or at least my best estimation for the start of a new day. There is no sun to rise and set outside of this mansion, after all."

"…Oh." Considering how opaque the windows had been, there was no chance of seeing anything outside. "Then what creates all this light? There has to be something on the other side of the windows to make them glow."

"That there is." Shrugging, the girl begins write at the top of three of the papers. Meiling recognizes one of the designations. The other two, Subjects 33-F and 19-D, are new. "However, it is best to chalk that up to one of her powers. I wouldn't be surprised if she catches light in one location only to broadcast it just where she wants."

"Wonderful." The sarcasm is a little heavy, but considering the company, there is a little less concern. "So, more experiments, like the other day?" Frowning, she tries to peer at some of the other papers, but Patchouli pulls a cover page out and covers up the old reports.

Patchouli stands up a few seconds later, having finished making her marks. "Quite. It is curious what these creatures are gifted with. I can accomplish much of what they are capable of naturally, but there are drawbacks to my methods. Yet, there is none for them. It may take a few more decades, but the pieces are coming together well enough."

"But do you really have to do that to that one… girl? I can still smell… smell that…"

"Remember what I said before. Trust me when I say that the creature is dangerous. If it was at full health, it would do its best to eat you, even if it was in its right mind." Patchouli's lips thin a bit as she looks up at Meiling, gauging her as everyone else does. "Stay here for a while. There is plenty to do. Besides, I need to go inspect two new subjects that Sakuya brought in. I need to ascertain that they are healthy, and not otherwise… toyed with."

Nodding slightly, Meiling tries not to think of what that could be. "Well, why can't I stay? It's not like Rumia could have done anything to me."

"Subject 57-D, you mean." Rolling her eyes nearly unnoticeably, she stands up a bit straighter. "And they do pose a threat to one as weak as you. You stood up to a Fetch, but you would probably do worse against one of them." Shrugging, she turns about and starts to float away. "Perhaps not, but I only say what I know for sure. Would you risk your life over it?"

[ ] Meiling is a good girl. She can just wait where it is safe.
[ ] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[ ] 57-D (Rumia)
-[ ] 19-D
-[ ] 33-F
-[ ] One of the new subjects
No. 173975
[x] Meiling is a good girl. She can just wait where it is safe.

I'm gonna trust Patchouli's judgment here. After all, she has been... 'studying' these SCPs beings rather extensively, and knows what they're capable of.
Plus, it doesn't pay to risk it unless there's a good reason.
No. 173978
[X] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[X] 19-D

Perhaps we could gather allies if we risk it.
No. 173986
[x] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[x] One of the new subjects
-[x] Ask to follow Patchouli while she inspects them.


I suspect the two new subjects are going to be Tokiko and that doll Lucas left behind in the forest. Sakuya did say she had gone to get Meiling's clothing made but found that the regular place was gone so it means she was in the forest, saw that Alice was gone and probably found Tokiko and the doll wandering the area while she was there.
No. 173988
>>173975 here, changing my vote to match >>173986.

Sure, this may be a bit meta, but if those two are involved, that's good reason. And if we're going to investigate, we should stick with Patchouli for protection.
No. 173989
[x] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[x] One of the new subjects
-[x] Ask to follow Patchouli while she inspects them.

The theory is interesting and worth following.
It would be cool if the two stories meet.
No. 173991
[x] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[x] One of the new subjects
-[x] Ask to follow Patchouli while she inspects them.
No. 174007
[x] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[x] One of the new subjects
-[x] Ask to follow Patchouli while she inspects them.

Even if it's not Amsterdam and Tokiko, we're probably safer following Patchouli. Even if I'm really tempted to go talk to other subjects away from her.
No. 174008
[-m-] Nothing venture, nothing gained. Go inspect at least one of these… subjects.
-[-m-] One of the new subjects
-[-m-] Ask to follow Patchouli while she inspects them.

------------

"That's why I'm going to follow you." If there is one thing that Meiling doesn't want to do, it is to remain alone and waiting for something to happen. "After all, something could just as easily happen to me if I am left alone. Haven't you said that everyone in this place is a threat?"

"Something that to effect, yes." Nodding slightly, Patchouli pauses for just a moment as Meiling heads up to meet her. "Very well. I can accede to that. What protections I have built do not restrict movement, after all. Just do not leave my song for a great length of time."

Nodding slightly, Meiling sidles behind Patchouli and follows the floating girl as she heads to the side of the room. "Alright then. But what can they do that would rut me? You seem very worried, even considering that you have done… well, you have restrained them like Rumia?"

"Subject 57-D. It would better to not personify them. They are not people anymore, not as you see it." Patchouli glances back for a second before looking forward, floating to a set of doors that line the wall. "However, you would do better to be wary of the glamour. They have a magic that affects the very folds of reality. It is not something that I am capable of."

"Then what are you capable of?" Meiling looks down at Patchouli's floating feet before shaking her head. "You seem just as magical as them, if not more. You barely even walk. It doesn't seem that different, as far as I can tell."

Patchouli pauses in front of the doors and turns to face Meiling proper. "…You honestly can't tell at this point. Sakuya hides her true faces beneath a web of illusions, and you've yet to see any of them aside from that one darkling." Shaking her head once more, she folds her arms before reciting. "As to what they are capable of? That one darkling you've seen. As to the second, he is certainly a pain. A pale reflection of a devil, and every seductive power you might expect. I keep him sedated for the most part. The last is… incapable of harm directly. I have noticed that her subconscious is leaking into reality at times. It isn't developed or directed yet, although it is quite the curious little experiment."

Blinking, Meiling stares back, not quite knowing how to react. "…Is that all they are? I know that you said that Rumia does horrible things, but she was just a scared girl when I spoke to her. What if the others are the same?"

"I deal in absolutes. And some of their secrets are open to me. You see only the surface. And you have only been here for days, if such a thing existed in these dim halls." She turns about and floats toward the door at the end, shuffling her papers as she goes.

"If that's the case, then why doesn't anyone attempt to enlighten me of the difference?" Meiling tries to shove her hands into her pockets before realizing her current outfit lacks any. Annoyed even further, she grumbles and follows after Patchouli. "And I thought you were friendly for warning me of."

"Some truths are uncomfortable, Meiling." She glances back at the taller girl one last time. "And I wish to preserve at least some of your ignorance, so that you remain unblemished as long as possible. If you do not trust me, though, there is little I can do."

Patchouli's hand inches to the door as Meiling grumbles. "Sounds about like Sakuya. Maybe you do, but what is the difference, in the end? I'm just told to wait for orders and obey, and I'll be happy."

Slowly, she nods, and she closes her eyes for a second. "…That you are." Once the pale girl opens her eyes once more, she avoids Meiling's stare as she floats inside of the room. "Come if you must. Or go elsewhere."

Considering her options, Meiling decides to follow after. The room before is another of those large rooms, as far as she can tell, but a few crystals that Patchouli has summoned out of nowhere is lighting the place. "Funny… I had thought that this place was somewhere else."

"It is somewhere else. After all, the mistress of this mansion does like to move things around." Ignoring Meiling's presence otherwise, Patchouli stands motionless as another crystal floats out from under her robes. Sighing, she summons it to her palm before lifting up above her head. Seconds later, light fills the room and reveals the only subject within.

Sitting motionless on the grown is a red-haired doll, dressed up in tattered frills. Meiling just looks at it, not knowing if this was serious or not. "Are you sure this is one of your subjects, Patchouli? It looks like Sakuya went and found you a toy."

"Your sarcasm is not appreciated. And it is unwarranted. This is an elemental." Curiously enough, Patchouli floats onto the ground and begins walking. She seems to have no trouble in doing as such, and her posture straightens out as she puts her feet on the floor. "A type of Youkai that I've never had the chance to study in depth. Animated stone or water or wood that has its own sentient mind, one that is not instilled by a mage of some sort? Or is it merely as a sprit would be, and possesses the material within. Elusive, as are all answers within this realm."

Meiling just shakes her head and takes a few steps forward, skirting about the doll as she tiptoes. "Right. Well, it just looks like a doll to me… Although it'd be one of those in some expensive shop. Not like anything I had when I was young…"

"Well, it is a doll. And, in fact, she is aware. And she has been listening to every single word… Hasn't she?" Kneeling down, Patchouli stares at the motionless doll as she squats, with the former appearing nearly as wooden as the latter. "It would be better to just acknowledge it. There is no fooling me."

A few seconds pass as silence envelops the room, and Meiling cannot help but to hold her breath. A pin drop would shatter the stillness as if it were but glass. While she is extremely tempted to do that, Meiling holds her tongue and waits for Patchouli to do something.

The doll's eyes slowly open, revealing the glass eyes tinged with blue. Meiling nearly yelps, but chokes a bit with her lungs already full. The doll blankly looks forward, appearing as if the trigger to open the eyes was gummed up and it had finally slid free.

Slowly, though, the doll's neck begins to rotate, and it creaks loudly as it turns its emotionless face towards Meiling, inch by inch. Her skin crawls as the doll continues to rotate it, going past where a person's would have been able. Eventually, it finishes its slow rotation, and instead stares down Meiling with two unfeeling eyes.

"Y-yes…?" Seconds turn into minutes as the doll stares, and Meiling starts to back away. "Is there something you want from me?" The continued glare is unclean, unnatural, piercing farther than a real person's would. The feeling of wrongness continues to grow, even though Meiling continues to back away. Away from that glare. "Stop it, please…"

"Enough, Meiling. Snap out of it." Frowning, Patchouli resumes floating before placing herself between Meiling and the doll. "It is either trying to trick you, unsettle you, or place a glamour on you. After all, I had expected a mere Changeling. …Perhaps one that had gone all the way and changed over. I never expected a Youkai here as well. Where did Sakuya find you…"

The doll doesn't move at all, appearing just as motionless as before. "You might as well give up the act… We both know you're alive. Although, my fellow guest is no part of this. She merely wishes to observe, as far as I can read." Her head tilts to the side as Meiling watches from behind, not wanting to make eye contact with the horrid doll yet again. "Perhaps you would do well to assist us directly, instead of engaging in this pointless staring contest. It won't take me long until I can pry the secrets for you. Even if you are a Youkai who cannot speak."

The doll's arm twitches at the statement. "Exactly. It seems I must monologue in order to make your situation apparent. You are my subject, and you are here to help me probe the deeper mysteries of magic, whatever its form. This can go pleasantly if you cooperate… Or I can just force my desires upon you and make your decision for you. Have I made myself clear?"

An unseen movement by the doll later, and Meiling notices Patchouli settle to the ground once more. "Good. Cooperation is appreciated. But, now, you can begin to help even more by stripping. I must make a proper assessment of your construction. There are many details that cannot be overlooked, especially as I have yet to see a creature such as you."

"Is that really necessary, Patchouli?" Gulping a bit, Meiling steps forward and to the side, circling towards the door a bit quicker than she had anticipated she would. "It's… It's not like you can't tell what she is right now, can you?"

Sighing, Patchouli pinches her nose before glancing at Meiling. At the same time, the doll turns and faces Meiling as well, curiously not letting up from the earlier glare. "It is necessary. Besides, once my experimentation is complete, it will receive all of its personal belongings back." She turns back to the doll and watches for a moment, before a smirk crosses her face for just a second. "Isn't that right, Amsterdam?"

The head snaps back towards Patchouli, and the porcelain face shows emotion for the first time. Fear. "But you do not have to remain, Meiling. You may go out. I do need to set up and diagram it as soon as possible."

"Are you just going to ignore what I asked, Patchouli?"

"I didn't ignore it. And I have done this countless times. My methods are sound enough. Please do not distract me from my work any further, though. There is much to be done."

[ ] Just watch from afar. It's just a doll, after all. A creepy one, but a doll.
[ ] Leave
-[ ] Head back to the library and… do stuff.
-[ ] Visit one of the other, and hopefully more talkative, subjects.
--[ ] (which?)
[ ] Go and assist. A pair of hands would be helpful.

------------

Just curious, but are there any drawfags in the thread?
No. 174009
[x] Just watch from afar. It's just a doll, after all. A creepy one, but a doll.

We won't be getting anywhere by fleeing from everything that unsettles us, and there's likely no better way to learn about Patchouli than watching her work.

Silence is golden, though. Watch and don't comment. Sharing our thoughts on things never seems to get anything but being told to shut up and obey around here; best to keep them to ourselves unless we're certain of our course.
No. 174010
[x] Just watch from afar. It's just a doll, after all. A creepy one, but a doll.

Different rivers really do have different currents, even if they ultimately empty into the same ocean.
In other words, time's a bitch in this world.
No. 174015
[x] Just watch from afar. It's just a doll, after all. A creepy one, but a doll.


For now, we need to watch and learn. We still don't know much and nobody wants to teach us so we have to find things out on our own.
No. 174018
[X] Just watch from afar. It's just a doll, after all. A creepy one, but a doll.
No. 174032
[-n-] Just watch from afar. It's just a doll, after all. A creepy one, but a doll.

------------

Quietly, Meiling nods to herself and backs up, walking far enough to put some distance between her and the doll. While it may just be a doll, it's still a rather creepy one. There's no reason to get too close and risk any more injury.

Instead, she merely watches as Patchouli backs off herself, giving the doll space to move on her own. Her lips are pursed as she stares down the doll, and it appears for a moment that she is just as motionless as the other.

The standoff ends as the doll creaks to life, its motionless body silent as it crosses its legs and spins into the air. Once on its feet, it looks at Meiling for but a second before it turns towards Patchouli. It just stares at her, not moving an inch until the pale girl clears her throat. "Remember what I said? Strip. I need to take into account of your current form."

The doll's head slumps, covering its face with red hair in the process. It doesn't seem like she is doing anything at all, but Meiling notices that the tiny fingers of the girl are dancing along the torn ribbons that are binding its blue dress to its body. "…No way…" It's hard to tell from so far away, but the seams on the wrist are obvious enough. A doll is actually moving on its own.

Granted, Patchouli could be putting on a show for Meiling, especially considering she has already shown that she can levitate the crystals. That is, unless the crystals themselves are sentient and floating under their own power. Biting her lip, Meiling does her best to stop that line of thought in its tracks. If she keeps on questioning every single thing that is going on, she's going to go insane.

As the girl ruminates on what exactly is happening here, Amsterdam drops the ribbon and reaches back behind her neck to unbutton the neck of her dress. A few seconds later, she gingerly steps out of it and folds the clothing over itself. Hesitating for a moment, she removes her headdress as well, placing it on top of the dress.

Meiling blushes a bit and averts her eyes as the doll stands there, naked for the most part. Although there is nothing that looks real, there is just something wrong with the whole situation. The doll certainly does not look like a thing, now that has stopped being as stiff and possible. Although, there is a curious patch on her that is darker than the rest of her body. Not that Meiling took more than a quick gander at it.

"Good enough for now. Although, you will need to disrobe the rest of the way. I'm am curious how detailed you are, or if what shouldn't be seen is skimped on." Leaning down, she reaches for the pile of clothes. The doll meets Patchouli's eyes for a split second before it jumps up, thrusting the pile of clothes at the pale girl.

The mage's eyes widen a bit in shock as her hand darts upwards, moving far faster than Meiling could have expected from the frail looking girl. Patchouli manages to catch the pile of clothes in her hand, but a small package within manages to sink through her hand, and a blade pierces out the other side.

Still, she does not react strongly to the pain, only grunting as she holds her hand up. A light bursts between the two, and the doll is sent careening away through the air. "Lovely surprise…" Looking down, Patchouli grimaces as her good right hand gropes through the clothes, searching for the other end of the blade. "Funny that a doll would use—" Her eyes widen in realization as she yanks the blade from her hand. "Most amusing. So, it managed to escape… Or had its own Changelings manage to betray it? A more invasive search is needed." At that, she begins to wipe the blade on one of her robes as she walks forward, heading towards the doll.

Meiling still remains in place, although worry still clouds her decisions as she watches. Should she even intervene? She should be much more capable than Patchouli in a situation like this. "What is she?"

Patchouli ignores her as the doll struggles to its feet. Somehow, the doll manages to leap into the air and stay there, floating under its own means. Before it can dart forward and try to leap at Patchouli again, though, the pale girl holds her hand up and shakes her head. "Don't even bother. You apparently warrant more stringent treatment… Just like the rest." At that, the very wood of the walls seems to explode outward and wrap around the limbs of the small doll and rip it out of the air and against the wall. "It's a pity. I'll have to transfer you to an examination table later. Now, stay there for the moment. I must attend to this wound." Smiling just a bit, she turns on a dime and heads to the door, and Meiling.

"Are you sure you're alright after that? You were just stabbed!" Patchouli remains silent as she continues to head out, and Meiling just opens up the door to let her through. "Or are you just waiting to heal it up?"

The girl shoots Meiling a look before shutting the door, "I am capable of taking care of myself. Thank you for your concern." Her visage softens just slightly before she averts her eyes once more and begins looking at the knife. "Although, it is curious to find a Youkai carrying this so close to her body. How she managed to sneak in with this, I do not know."

"Could… Sakuya have made it easier for her to?" Tilting her head, Meiling looks at the knife. It isn't exceptionally long, and she could easily conceal it, but it would have been much more difficult for that doll. "I mean, if she is as bad as you say, and wants to amuse herself by watching our reactions…"

"She could have, yes." Patchouli accedes the point before examining it more closely. "Although, considering what she is fond of, I'm surprised she didn't keep it. I suppose this is mere cookware, and not a proper dagger. It would not be elegant enough for herself." Frowning, she traces the slight indentions in the handle. "Something strong once used this. Stronger than a human. Its old master, or one of its Changelings? Or something else…"

"You're asking the one who assuredly wouldn't know, Patchouli." Sighing, Meiling just looks down at the knife that the pale girl is tracing. Even now, she seems unconcerned for the gaping wound in her hand. "And what's so special about it? Special enough that you aren't bothering to get a bandage?"

The girl sighs deeply, seemingly irked by the amount she is being fussed over. "You do not need to be so concerned, as I have already said. I will be fine." She attempts to smile at Meiling a bit, although the expression seems forced from disuse. "Although… The concern is appreciated, at least for the sentiment. But you should not worry about a knife like this one hurting me.

Her lips thin as she lowers her head to examine the knife a bit more. "But there is nothing special about this knife, save for the fact that its blade is composed mostly of iron. A little bit of carbon, I believe, but mostly iron." Before Meiling can even ask, Patchouli answers the forthcoming question. "Iron is the bane of Youkai. For one to hold it so close to their body, even folded up in cloth, is absurdity in the highest degree. The doll is either insane, or treasures it more than is healthy. And considering that what I saw was hardly indicative of the former, I suspect the latter."

Meiling glances back at the door, looking to the place that the doll was tied up. She glances away a few seconds later, as just looking at the door calls to mind visions of the doll staring. Constantly. Down deep into her soul. "Y-yeah… But what do you mean by that? How did you know her name?"

"Its name. And I can pierce its mind a little bit. Not much at all, but I have some talent. I learned what I could due to the ongoing tests with Subject 33-F. They are not complete in the slightest, but I have learned a lot more since I began the exercises."

"…Right…" As if Meiling had enough to worry about right now. At least it's not Sakuya or Remilia that is capable of doing that. "Well, what's the point of the examinations, then? If you can just read their mind…"

"There's more to examinations than that. Currently, I am drawing up plans to test how independent each part of the elemental is." Patchouli taps the knife on the chin as she thinks. "The tests would be simple. I would record whatever magic connects one piece from another, and see how long the doll can keep itself together. The major pieces I could see responding at range, but would a finger still work? A fingertip? Is it different from other elementals? How exactly does its glamour function, and can it be replicated?"

Meiling shakes her head slowly as she watches Patchouli. "You're… You're not serious, are you? You're going to rip her part, just to see if she still works? That's…"

"It's not like it'll feel any pain, Meiling. After all, a doll is made to pop together in the first place. What harm is there in pulling it apart if you are only going to put the pieces back together later?" Shrugging, she lowers the knife and wraps it once more in the cloth. I must be off. I do need to find a safe place for this, and find the proper accoutrements for my current state. And I'll need more crystals… There are lots of parts…" At that, Patchouli starts to float off down the aisles, too lost in thought to even given a second's pause to what Meiling has in her mind.

[ ] Follow after her?
[ ] Just… go somewhere else in the library, or whatever it's called.
[ ] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[ ] Rumia didn't try to hurt her that one time. And it'd be nice to hear her side.
-[ ] 19-D may be the dangerous one, but is she lying?
-[ ] Or is that last one safe enough to speak with? 33-F?
-[ ] Meiling could just talk to the other new one. That is probably unrestrained. And not in a good mood. Just saying.
[ ] Obligatory Write-in Option

------------

No pic today. Wanted to get it up. And spare you the horror that is my attempting to draw Amsterdam. Maybe next time.
No. 174036
>>174032
I'm kinda lost with Patchouli's numbering, which is which again?
Rumia was 57-D, but which is Amsterdam and which is "the other new one"?
Were they 19-D and 33-F, or are those two more of Patchouli's test subjects?
No. 174040
>>174036
Amsterdam and the other have not been assigned numbers yet.
No. 174043
I haven't been this torn on a vote for a while. I want to keep following patch to confirm that the other new captive is Tokiko but the whole 'subconscious is leaking into reality' line has just piqued my curiosity. Anyone have any theories on who it could be, because I'm drawing a blank unless it's somehow Yukari.
No. 174045
[x] Follow after her.
Meiling obviously seems... interested, albeit in a horrified way. Which is ironic, considering her first reactions to Amsterdam.

>>174043
Hmm... You may be right. After all, it was noted in the last story that Koishi (I'm assuming) is sort of the 'Game Master' underground. With that possibility out of the way, the options are limited...
No. 174047
>>174045
Just some friendly advice.
No. 174048
...Argh. I really don't know what I want to vote for.
There's just too much to (over)think about in this situation that I get locked up and can't decide.
No. 174049
>>174047
...Oh. Holy. Crap. How could I miss that?
Not changing my vote, though, 'cause that'd be way too meta.
No. 174051
>>174049
Screw not being meta I can't resist.

[x] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[x] Or is that last one safe enough to speak with? 33-F?
No. 174052
>>174051
Good point. The author was kind enough to give it away, so...

Changing my vote after all.
[x] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[x] Or is that last one safe enough to speak with? 33-F?
No. 174053
You know, I'll be kind enough to say that's not what I meant. While voting is still going on. That was intended to be another reminder about assuming. Nothing meta intended.
No. 174054
>>174053

Well, since I can't make up my mind right now, I wish to place a vote against
[x] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[x] Or is that last one safe enough to speak with? 33-F?

This is just a placeholder vote to counter balance the recent misunderstandings in this voting session.
No. 174055
>>174053

In that case, I'm changing my vote back to >>174045.
And also making a note to pay more attention and apply logic instead of going with others' opinions... We've seen where that leads.
No. 174056
Eh, it's my fault as much as anything else. Should have been a bit clearer in the first place.

Not calling anything for a while, so it's not like there are any worries about the vote. At least not yet.
No. 174059
Well, damn. Now I really can't decide what to vote for.
Being warned about the consequenses of assumptions didn't really help my habit of overthinking and secondguessing myself.
No. 174061
Well, only one option out of the four to visit—barring write-ins—would result in a bad end. So be free to chose. At the same time, one of the four would produce a friend, albeit I use the definition loosely.

Gonna call it at midnight server time, unless it does end up being tied.
No. 174066
[x] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[x] Or is that last one safe enough to speak with? 33-F?

I wonder if it'll be one of the remaining EoSD characters? We have Koa, Cirno, and Dai left of that pot.
No. 174067
[X] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[X] Meiling could just talk to the other new one. That is probably unrestrained. And not in a good mood. Just saying.

Since nobody has discussed this yet from what I can tell, I'm going to throw my thoughts up in the following wall of text.

From what I gleaned from the previous story posts, Patchouli needed to penetrate the mind of the being called 33-F, which indicates that it probably cannot communicate in a conventional manner. Rumia could possibly be friendly to us, but considering her nature as a youkai and her accumulated torment from being tested on over a thousand times, she'll probably try to eat Meiling given the opportunity, especially when Rumia discovers that Meiling is a human. This should intuitively preclude her from being able to be friends or allied with Meiling, but in case we have to put this hypothesis to the test, at least we'll have the luxury of restarting the scenario. There is not enough information to draw any semblance of a conclusion about 19-D, but we do have a basis to presume that the other newcomer is also a changeling, since Rumia thought that Meiling was one of the 'new changelings'.

I'm expecting for my vote to get overridden the time of this being posted, but I can at least propose a theory as to how Pathouli's numbering system works. Although some systems can be quite complex, in this case, the presence of only 3 symbols, 2 of which are numbers, simplifies things. Since she appears to receive new subjects regularly in order to presumably replace the dozens that have already 'expired' from attrition, I surmise that the numbers merely indicate the order of arrival of a subject in a category. Since there is only one other symbol in the classification system, I assume that it represents the category. We know that there are two categories: D and F. Since we know Rumia is considered a 'D', Ds might indicate that the subjects of this category are youkai, while Fs could be Changelings, since those are the only two types of creatures which Pathouli would be interested in in this location that we know of. Obviously, this method could be entirely incorrect, which brings me to suggest a 'more' plausible mode of classification.

Pathchouli herself said in the first thread that the Scarlets are 5th generation creatures. If we consider that 'E' is the 5th letter of the alphabet, this suggests that Rumia is a 4th generation specimen, while F would indicate a 6th generation specimen. This in turn would be an interesting subject to look into, but Patchouli isn't going to freely speak about this.

These conclusions are fairly tentative, but I feel that they are well founded based on how the story has progressed thus far. Only the author can confirm if they are correct or erroneous, but I feel that we should try to consider them as long as they seem to be applicable.
No. 174068
>>174054

Withdrawing this vote for >>174067
No. 174069
Well I wasn't going to vote, but I'm decided to just cause I don't like the idea of going to see the new subject, probably Tokiko, alone.

Luminous has already stated that one of the four choices leads to a bad end, and while it's not necessarily that one, the whole "That is probably unrestrained. And not in a good mood. Just saying.", seems like a pretty solid hint that's the bad one. We've already seen Amsterdam is armed and willing to attack, and Tokiko, who last we saw doesn't speak English, is probably even more on edge.
We know the other subjects are restrained and Rumia is probably the safest to go visit because before she wasn't able to reach us, so as long as we don't free her we should be safe to just talk to her. Our previous interactions are why I think she's the most likely choice as the "friend".
33-D worries me because of his charming power, as long as he's actually sedated we should be fine, but if not, remember just because it's not a bad end doesn't mean it sets us on a good path.
33-F is interesting to me, but the whole bleeding over into reality worries me as the other possible bad end.

Not saying we shouldn't choose these, but, just throwing some thoughts out there before we make a rash decision.

Going to go the safe route because I'm not as sure about Meiling choices as I am Lucas choices, mostly because I have a better read on how he'll react in different situations. I trust him more under pressure.
[X] Follow after her?
Wouldn't mind exploration option though. It gives us a chance to get a feel for the area an search for clues to our situation and possible weapons/useful items.

As for the number/letter designation, didn't Patchouli say at one point the Rumia was a changeling, will have to double check cause I can't remember for sure, but I thought she did.
Of course for all we know "D" could just mean dangerous.
No. 174073
Whelp, that's enough confusion. I'm not going to say whether you're right or wrong; that verges upon [z] territory.

As it stands now, there are 2 for following, 2 for talking to mysterious newcomer, and 1 for and against 33-F. To establish precedent, I'm going to make that one count for 33-F as well. I don't want anything to devolve into a back and forth about what you don't want. Thus, a 3-way tie.

So, unless someone chooses to make a vote before I post, I am going to flip a few coins and choose what happens. Or, I can just pick the one bad end that you voted for and do it on top of the winner otherwise at the cost of a few letters, as that'd be walking right into a bad end instead of blindly stepping into one.

If anyone is averse to that, say something or hold your peace until after the next update. Or to shout at me just in case I got the count completely screwed up.

If you had voted for the option that would garner a friend, same deal would be given, albeit at a bit larger letter cost.
No. 174074
>>174073
Due to all the confusion, I object to that bad end thing. At least Lady Luck gives us a fighting chance.
No. 174075
So I was rereading this and I can't believe no one noticed this. The author explicitly states that 57-D and 19-D are both darklings, ergo the D stands for darkling. Working from that logic F stands for Fae meaning that 33-F is most likely either Cirno or Dae.

As for other theories I suspect that 19-D is Koakuma just because of the whole 'seduction' remark.

>>174067
I'm pretty sure when it was said that the Scarlets were 5th generation creatures it just meant they are 5 generations removed from Dracula.


It's probably to late for people to change their votes anyways but I thought I'd post this anyways.
No. 174076
I really felt like letting this slide by and pretending that this never happened, but I feel an obligation to clear up a few things.

>>174054, >>174067, and >>174068 are the same person. I failed to connect the vote withdrawal to the preceding post, and when I realized my mistake, I attempted to throw the vote withdrawal as a half-hearted attempt to rectify that.

Since this is messing up the voting process as I am apparently accounting for the entire 'visit the newcomer' and half of the 'Visit 33-F' sections, I want the writer to ignore my multi-voting after the first vote. This will return the vote count to the proper sum of 2 follow votes, 0 talking to mysterious newcomer, and 2 for talking with 33-F.

If necessary, I will delete all of my votes and repost the material sans votes before the next update. I sincerely apologize to both readers and writer for my mistake, and regret any consternation this causes.
No. 174078
>>174076
No problems. I'll just go ahead and flip. I'll save the surprise for which one wins for the post, which will be tomorrow at this rate.

Besides, shaking up the thread like this is always good, from time to time.
No. 174085
[-o-] Go talk to one of the subjects.
-[ -o-] Or is that last one safe enough to speak with? 33-F?

------------

"I wonder…" Frowning, Meiling turns back to the doors, staring at its blank edifice for a few seconds, debating on whether she should go back in. The thought of facing those unblinking eyes as they stare through her once more, though, is enough to disabuse her of the notion. "Maybe it'd be better to go and see one of the older… subjects. At least they'd be restrained. At least, I hope."

Turning towards the other doors, Meiling walks past them, searching for any label that would tell what, or who, is beyond the wooden portals. The first does not have a label, but the second she passes, the one in the very middle, does have a small placard at Meiling's neck. It takes her a moment to realize that it is so low because it is actually at Patchouli's eye level. "Huh. I guess the floating makes her taller than she looks."

She passes that door by and keeps walking, knowing that she doesn't want to risk whatever may be beyond that one. As she passes by the second, she notices the familiar number on the side. "I wonder… Is she even ok? Or is she still charred like that…" Meiling can't help but to shiver once more as she reluctantly leaves, knowing that there is little she can do but talk to her.

Instead, she stops at the very last door and puts her hand on the doorknob. After yet another moment's hesitation, she turns the handle, which easily unlatches and lets the door swing open. "…No lock? Or does she have some other method to keep it shut." Since that girl regularly tends to float around like a pale pink balloon, Meiling just shrugs the small detail off and steps in, making sure to shut the door behind her.

Now robbed of the light, she looks around as her eyes try to adjust to the dim room. Even without one of Patchouli's crystals, there is enough to see by, and at least tell the shape of the room beyond. Meiling looks to the center of the room, trying to find the table that the subject would be strapped to.

No matter how hard she looks, though, there is nothing in the center. No examination table, no rack, not even a post with a chain. Frowning, Meiling begins to look around as she bends slightly, raising her hands up just in case that whatever is here got loose.

Nothing happens. There is nothing moving at all. Yet, the longer that she stands still, Meiling hears a quiet sobbing in the background, a crying barely audible over her own beating heart.

It's enough to get the girl moving in the right direction. Wiping her dark hair out of her face, Meiling slowly walks towards the source of the sniffling, wanting to find whoever it is that is sobbing. The closer that she gets, the more that it sounds like a little girl crying in the background. A someone that is even tinier that Rumia. A young child. "What has Patchouli done…"

Eventually, a small form appears in the darkness, huddled against the far corner of the room. She, undoubtedly a she by now, is curled up into a ball and is pressing her face into her arms. Tepidly, Meiling begins to inch closer, trying to get a better look at the girl. The girl is a sight, and is yet another to have the odd hair coloring that Meiling is starting to take for granted. It appears to be of the darkest green, but considering how the room is flooded with darkness, it probably is much brighter.

Aside from that, though, she appears to be wearing a white blanket as she huddles against the corner. Meiling just gulps as she slowly approaches, wondering how in the world the girl can't hear her as she walks closer. Her soles are not soft, and they aren't silent by any stretch of the imagination.

"Erm… Hello, there?" Once within five feet of her, Meiling clears her throat and tries to get the girl's attention. "I just wanted to… meet… are you alright there? What are you crying about?" The sight of Rumia was shocking enough, and Meiling can hardly hide her concern for the little girl. "Is there anything I can…"

"Who is… Who's it?" Her voice barely leaks out as she opens her blank eyes, staring at nothing. "Something come to play with us? No, something comes to hurt us, again. Hurt in the head. Head hurts so much. Somuchsomuchsomuch…" She shivers and curls up further before twisting, nearly writhing. "Hurts so much… In the head. Must… cannot speak. Not speaking. Keep thoughts in headinhead for us us us."

As the small girl begins to thrash, the straps and buckles on the girl's blanket finally become apparent. Her arms are trapped in sleeves with no end as she hugs herself, only hugging herself. "For all that is holy… She's driven you mad‽"

The girl's head snaps up and looks above Meiling, and she looks up with blank, pale green eyes. "Not mad. We is not mad. She is the one mad! We just want to play… We don't want to hurt. So much hurt in the head. So much… She pokes and prods with fire and metal and earth. Her water never quenches, only parches. Parches us, dries us out, leaves us barren… Roots in my head. Our head. Her head. Still feel them. They still hurt still hurt hurt hur—"

The girl suddenly smiles and looks at Meiling as a bit of life returns to those dead eyes. "You is not her! You came to play with us? You wanted to play with us!" Before Meiling can even react, the girl leaps up on her feet. "Come this way! You can come play, yes! No hurt right now. Must do something. Must must come play, yesyesyes."

"Wait a second!" Meiling tries to grab the girl as she dashes off, but she easily slips through her fingers and disappears. Meiling turns about to follow, but she has to raise a hand to block the blinding light that is suddenly enveloping the room. "Wait a moment. Why is there light? Is Patchouli here?" Eventually her eyes adjust, and she realizes that she is no longer in the room, or at least the room as it was moments before.

Slowly, she takes a few steps forward onto the fresh earth as the wind whips at her hair, blowing the black strands every which way. "This is unreal… She created this? It's so… alive. Wait, where did she go?" Not having any apparent way out, she heads forward as the laughter of the girl echoes in the breeze.

Meiling keeps walking through a thicket of trees as she looks about for the girl. "Where'd you go? Who are you? Where is this?" She shouts out loud, hoping that the girl answers her and starts answering questions. Doubt starts to creep up even more as she dashes along, and she begins to wonder if this was even a good idea to begin with. "Where are you, little girl?"

"I'm not that little!" Meiling jumps as the voice shouts from three inches behind her. Once she spins about, the girl is standing there, now wearing a blue dress instead of a straitjacket. "Don't be like that! She likes to call us things like that. Subject. Subject. Subject subject subject! She never calls me girl."

"…I thought you were saying not to call you girl? Or just the little part?" Faintly bemused, Meiling shakes her head as she tries to get back on track. "Never mind that. I wanted to ask you something. What is going on here? Who are you?"

"We are just going to play, aren't we? You came to see me, and you are not hurting me now, are you? You must play with us! All of us!" She giggles madly as she dashes around, acting like the little child she appears to be. "Don't you wanna come and play here? It's much nicer than that old room. Much much nicer, I think! That room is so painful to look at… She makes it hurt us. Hurt us so so bad."

Meiling frowns as she watches the girl slowly come to a halt once again. "What do you mean it hurts? Miss…?"

"Ooohhhh. You're asking for our name? Our name my name, what is it?" She shrugs again. "Don't really know. Been so long. Used to be somewhere else. Called Yousei all the time. Youseiyouseiyouseiyouseiyousei. Never did like that much. Do you like it? No you don't. You have that sour adult look on your face again. Did we do something wrong? Are you going to hurt us?"

"I'm not going to hurt you…" Meiling sighs and kneels down. "But what did she do to you? What has Patchouli done?"

Curiously, the girl tilts her head while the ponytail on the side flips over. "Who is Patchouli?"

Of course she wouldn't know her name. In this state, it's fortunate that she remembers her own. "…The girl that hurts you so much. What does she do to you?"

"…I don't know. She just goes in here and hurts. We cannot view that room. We cannot think about that room. She keeps us in dreams all the times. Hurting dreams. Scary dreams. Maddening bewildering frightening bad bad bad dreams! Hurt so bad, tearing, ripping chomping down chomping down…" She slowly begins to delve into sobs once more.

Unable to help herself, Meiling reaches down and hugs the girl, trying to do something to ease the pain. As she does, she barely notices as the world about her begins to unravel, and the darkness begins to appear in the blue sky and beneath the dirt. "Stop worrying so much. She's not hurting you now, is she?" Frowning, she squeezes her once. "No hurting, right? Nothing hurts. Trust me."

"…Ok." She suddenly brightens, and the illusion snaps back into place once more. "Wanna go play with us, then? You are here not to hurt, so you are here to play?"

"Who is us, then?" Meiling can't help but to wonder as she pulls away and looks down. "I haven't seen anyone else since I've gotten here."

"She is special. She keeps me safe. Friend. Bestestest friend ever!" She suddenly leaps away from Meiling, grinning once more. "Secret. Even hurting lady doesn't know her. She knows a lot, but I keep her safe from her! Her from her." Giggling a bit, she darts behind a tree. "So, you wanna come and play hide and seek now, please? It'll be fun!"

The offer is tempting, but Meiling glances towards where she thinks the door once was. "But I need to go and talk to the hurting lady about what you said."

The girl stares at Meiling, and a chill descends in the air as the smile leaves her place. "You… don't wanna play? Not with us? Why not? Why not? Why NOT!" She suddenly shouts and shoves the tree over, causing it to fall over on the ground. "Bad! Bad person, then! Only two peoples! Us, and bad people! Us play, and bad people hurt!"

"Whoah, now! I wasn't going to do anything bad to you!" Meiling starts to back away from the suddenly angry girl. "Nothing is going to hurt you. I'm not going to, Yousei."

"They always say that…" She suddenly pauses, and the smile returns to the face. "Oh, well. I'm not going to do anything to you, though. I don't like hurting people. Not after people hurt me."

Gulping a bit, Meiling just nods as she takes a step back. "That's… good. So, you're going to let me go now?"

Again, the girl tilts her head innocently as her voice sweetly answers. "Well, now you've made her angry. And we are nice, but she doesn't get nicer fast. You have to deal with her now." As she finishes up, the chill intensifies in the middle of the forest, and Meiling bumps into something as she continues to back up.

Meiling's eyes widen and she tries to spin around to face whatever is there. Before she can even get halfway around, though, something large and heavy smashes her in the side, shattering half of her ribs and launching her into the ground. Pain explodes in her mind, but it doesn't last long, as whatever hit her the first time comes down upon her head as she lays on the ground, and she sees nothing but white.

DAI END A
No. 174086
>>174085

What.
No. 174088
>>174085

New conclusion get:

Patchouli's test subjects are all broken little girls who'll murder Meiling at the first given opportunity.

She wasn't kidding when she told us her subjects were dangerous.
No. 174089
Well at least this confirms my F = fae, D = darkling theory about Patchouli's naming scheme.
No. 174090
>>174089

Actually, the D is probably darkling, but if that's the case, the F should mean fairest. The characters usually refer to fae as youkai. Also we don't actually know for sure whose a youkai and which are changelings, but we do know both can be the various types. Patchouli seems to be experimenting with different types to be able to understand their nature, hence why she was so interested in Amsterdam, she hadn't studied an elemental yet. Also her tests on Rumia, had to do with her nature as a darkling, her reaction to light, so it would make since that the letters are what type they are. Why she's dong these experiments, I wouldn't want to guess yet.
No. 174093
>>174088
Meaning, perhaps, that the newest test subject wouldn't yet have had a chance to become broken and murderously psychotic?
No. 174095
>>174075
The other D-subject is referred to as male. Patchouli said "he has seductive powers", "he is kept sedated", so it can't be Koakuma, unless she has gotten a sex-change.

>>174088
I don't think ALL of them are as broken as Daiyousei, but it's clear that Patchouli hasn't been treating them well since they are, after all, not people to her. Just test subject.

>>174093
Possibly, but we also have to consider the fact that Fae and Darklings are generally not friendly towards humans to begin with.
If Daiyousei hadn't been broken, we'd probably ended up in a similar situation eventually anyway, but she'd just been a lot more subtle about it.

>>174073
Meta-exploitation theories ahoy!
>If you had voted for the option that would garner a friend, same deal would be given, albeit at a bit larger letter cost.
"If you had voted for" and "same deal would be given" implies that the friend option is one of the two we didn't choose. Meaning either Rumia or the as of yet unknown Devil.
If this is true, our chances of getting that friend are now at 50/50 since we know F is a bad end, and the implications of that statement means that the new subject is not the friend.
My guess would be Rumia since the other subject is kept sedated "most of the time" because his powers of seduction are troublesome even for Patchouli. Thus it's more likely than not that he is asleep if we go to check on him.
Finally, if (and this is a big if) Rumia is similar to most versions of her she probably has a rather simple and childish personality, so she would be easier to make friends with that a seductive devil in a drug-induced coma.
No. 174121
[x] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.
-[x] Greet her in Chinese.

Ah, Tokiko, how I have missed you.
No. 174122
[ x] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.

Maybe say hello with a bit of hand gesturing? I don't think speaking another language is going to help.

I'm using non-meta here: WE the readers might now if Tokiko speaks Chinese, but MEILING doesn't. Get it?
No. 174123
[x] Respond by waving hello.

>>174122
Tokiko doesn't speak Chinese, she speaks German, IIRC.
No. 174124
[x] Respond by waving hello.

When words don't work, some basic gestures should be ok.
No. 174126
>>174123

It was kinda directed at the voter who wanted to greet tokiko in chinese.
No. 174127
[x] Respond by waving hello.

That is some of the worst german I have seen in a story on here.
No. 174128
>>174127
Then please correct me. I am quite rusty, and I don't mind being critiqued!
No. 174129
>>174128

For "Hallo. Wie gehst du heute Tag?" it would be "Hallo. wie geht es ihnen heute?" This works both if she is adressing only Meling or both of them. Also its more formal if thats what you are going for because she uses "sie" to refer to Meling in the other sentence instead of the "du" here.

For the next part I assume you mean with Irsinn that Tokiko means that its weird that Meiling is surprised by the "Deckenstuhl", because Tokiko regards it as normal. In that case Unsinn would fit better, the Irsinn is correct but it just sounds weird. So it would be "Warum sind Sie so überrascht? Haben Sie noch nie einen Deckenstuhl gesehen? Unsinn." Deckenstuhl is pretty weird as well but I guess it works.

If you need more german in the future you can reach me over irc if you want. Not usually in the THP room but I hang around on quakenet with the nick WhattheHell.
No. 174130
>>174129
Thanks. I knew it wouldn't be the best. I had a few years, but those years were a long time ago. That, and I've probably corrupted a lot of what I do remember.

The next update is probably the only one that has more, as I didn't want to push it too far. I'll make sure to check first before I put it up. Although, would there be any better way to put it than Deckenstuhl?
No. 174131
>>174130
Not without changing the sentence. Deckenstuhl describes what it is while being a thing that doesnt really exit. You would still know what it means from the 2 words in it though, thats what makes it weird. Still works in my opinion but if you want to change it it would be "Warum sind Sie so überrascht? Haben Sie noch nie einen Stuhl an der Decke gesehen? Unsinn." I guess, since its chair on the ceiling instead of ceilingchair.
No. 174133
>>174131

Gotcha. I was actually going for the latter instead of the former, so we'l keep it as that. I'll make the corrections and repost the part when I get the next post done as well; I've already made the corrections in my permanent file.
No. 174134
>>174133
Isnt really that much of a problem man, I just imagine any non german having problems understanding it, especially when using a translator that fucks the sentences up even more.
No. 174156
[x] Respond by waving hello.
No. 174159
[x] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.
-[x] Wave and greet her in Chinese.

It's a hopeless cause by now, but I would like to see Tokiko's reaction upon being greeted with a third language. Yes, it doesn't accomplish much, but the act of simply waving does what is essentially the same thing- that is, nothing significant.

By the way, I have a feeling that terrible things are going to happen to Tokiko.

Fetuses and research never go well together.
No. 174160
[x] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.
-[x] Wave and greet her in Chinese.

You know, I have to wonder just what Begi might do with this vote? I really want to see him try and write in super broken Chinese, but I have to wonder how he would even go about it. Maybe just write it in italics or something?
No. 174165
[x] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.
-[x] Wave and greet her in Chinese.

>>174160 Probably at least Ballista speaks Chinese.

Wondering, why was Lucas able to read the script back in NSTAF?
No. 174185
>>174165
Because Youkai shenanigans.
Specifically, Wriggle.
No. 174190
[-o-] Follow after her?

------------

"I wonder…" Frowning, Meiling turns back to the doors, staring at its blank edifice for a few seconds, debating on whether she should go back in. The thought of facing those unblinking eyes as they stare through her once more, though, is enough to disabuse her of the notion. For a moment she considers going to visit one of the others as well, but something in the back of her mind tells her that doing so might really be a bad idea. "…Let's not do that, then. Just stay nice and safe with Patchouli. Well, relatively safe at least."

Her mind finally made up, Meiling turns back around and marches down the aisles in Patchouli's wake, eventually catching up to her as she is busy wrapping her hand. "I thought you were searching for more crystals for your experiments. …Don't you have some sort of magic that could easily heal those wounds of yours, though?"

Idly shaking her head as she finishes wrapping up, Patchouli turns back towards Meiling and deposits the bloody knife on the table. "Not so much. I am still human, and there are some things that can be healed naturally. And, suffice to say, I have never been that proficient with the alchemical arts."

"Well, I'm pretty sure a wound like that would need stitching up." Snorting, Meiling walks over to the girl, ignoring the look that is sent her way. "I've had to have my own skin sewn for lesser injuries when I sparred with people. It's not going to heal together on its own."

"I've already taken care of that, Meiling." Patchouli forces a smile on her face as she looks up at her. "It isn't pleasant, but I do know how to take care of myself over the decades that I've been working."

Meiling eyes her carefully as the girl floats up and away before pulling out one of the books that line the tables that she was working on. "You're kidding, aren't you? You barely look twenty-five years old. Unless you've been here since you were five…"

"Hardly. I have only been here approximately ten years by my estimate. Although, with the lack of correlation with Earth, and the very lackadaisical definition of time in this realm, it could have been any amount." She opens up the book and begins to flip through the pages. "However, do not bother asking about my history. What is past is past, and is no longer attainable. You should take that advice to heart."

"I've only been here five days, though. It shouldn't have been that long, even if time is different."

Patchouli pauses in the middle of turning a page and glances up. "A matter of perspective. It could have been five days, or it could have been five minutes. Or, instead, it could have been five years." She meets Meiling's eyes for a few seconds before speaking lowly and softly in the otherwise silent room. "Whatever that was left behind for you is gone, assuredly. You have been assumed dead, and at best are considered missing. What you had before is gone."

Meiling stares back at the girl for a few seconds before slumping in place. "Then what is the point, then? Even if I get out of here… What does it matter if I leave, and I have nowhere to go? No job to return to? No family…"

"Then you will be trapped here for centuries, or you will die. Those are essentially your options right now." Shrugging, Patchouli turns back to her book and marks the page after flipping a few more. "If you do nothing but let others make their decisions for you, you will remain here. If you work for yourself, and only yourself, the possibility of you returning to that world that has forgotten you is higher. Although, never have I seen one of the guests leave Sakuya's mansion on their own accord."

"Right… Right." Still a bit slumped over, Meiling does little more but watch Patchouli settle a few more books into the correct position before floating up to leave. "…Wait a moment. You have pretty much told me that I would be safe if I listened to you. Why are you now telling me the opposite?"

"…If you listen to me, you will remain safe. And, hopefully, you will remain human. Your mind will not be tainted with their presence. That is all."

Frowning, Meiling watches her as she floats off. "So, what is she trying to tell me, then? Ignore what she says? I'm not cut out for this kind of stuff…" Sighing, she gets up and follows after the magician. "And just when I thought she was a bad person in general, she goes and does something that may be nice."

Patchouli doesn't respond to her statements as she approaches the second blank door, even though there is no way she could have missed Meiling's worse. "I see you are still following me. I have no objections, but please remain behind until I have secured this new subject. I would hate to have any harm befall you." At that, she opens the door and heads within, summoning the crystal and lighting put the interior immediately.

However, as far as she searches, there is nothing that Meiling can see through the door. No creature likes strapped to a table or sitting huddled on the floor. Subconsciously, she checks the corners to see if anything has been hiding in the shadows, but her attempts are unsuccessful and she sees no creature lurking about.

"…Patchouli, are you sure there is something in here? I haven't seen anything at all. Is the… subject supposed to be invisible?" Even as she sees nothing lurking about the room, the scraping of wood on wood jars her to her senses, and she freezes in place. The sound was from above her head. Gulping a bit, Meiling looks up.

She meets the wide eyes of a pot-bellied girl that is staring back just as much. The moment she sees her, her smile widens, showing off sharp teeth and two sets of fangs. "Hallo. Wie gehst du heute?"

Meiling yelps a bit as she backs away, keeping her eyes on the three-winged creature the whole time. Even so, it never leaves its spot as it continues to sit on a chair that seems to be attached to the ceiling by its feet. "W-wha… how are…"

The girl rolls her eyes and keeps watching, her wide eyes not blinking even as Patchouli comes back. "Warum bits du so überrascht? Habst du noch nie eine Deckenstuhl gesehen? Unsinn." Chuckling, she continues to stare as Meiling tries to figure out what to say to the strange girl.

[ ] Back away and let Patchouli handle it.
[ ] Shut the door. Patchouli can cope, and Meiling doesn't want to let it out.
[ ] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.
[ ] THIS CHAIR

------------

I'm sorry about that last one. I couldn't help it.
Updated due to bad grammar.
No. 174191
[-p-] Respond… But with what? She can't understand a word she says.
-[-p-] Wave and greet her in Chinese

------------

"Xiàng nǐ wènhǎo." Meiling meets the girl’s eyes as she stares down from up above her. "Nǐ zài zuò shénme? Nǐ néng shuō wǒ lǐjiě de dōngxi ma?"

The girl blinks and tilts her head to the side as a grin spreads across her face. Curiously, the wing on top of her head, however that makes sense, is busy flapping back and forth like a dog's tail. "Nicht so verrückt. Oder doch? Ich bin ziemlich zurechnungsfähig. Du hingegen… nicht so sehr."

"Tā de kě'ài, yǐ mǎnzú nín." At least the girl does not seem quite so insistent as moments before. Perhaps, for some strange reason, she can understand the beauty of Meiling's native tongue just as well as that guttural growling. "Diǎntóu, rúguǒ nǐ néng lǐjiě wǒ zài shuō shénme."

Idly, the girl begins to nod as her two other wings slowly flutter. "Wem mache ich etwas vor? Sie ist verrückt. Ich kann einfach mein Buch lesen, oder? Nein, kann ich nicht." Crossing her arms over her chest, the winged girl begins to tap her chin. "Das ist wofür sie ist. Will ich einen Frosch…"

Curiously, she does seem to be responding, which is quite encouraging to Meiling. After all, she expected the girl to have no clue what is going on. But if she understands, she will not look a gift horse in the mouth. "Zhìshǎo nǐ néng gàosu wǒ nǐ de míngzì ma? Jiāng bù shēng gǎnjī."

"Ein Frosch, violin Frösche… Lecker. Mit diesel langen, weichen Beinen. So lecher." She blinks and suddenly stops speaking as she finds herself patting her clawed hands together. "Bah, Verlangen. Ich habe seltsame Verlangen."

"Suǒyǐ...... Nǐ de míngzì shì Frosch?" Sighing, Meiling just watches her as she subconsciously licks her lips. The girl's name is quite curious, after all, not to mention that it's nothing like she would have ever thought. Then again, she nearly hits herself in her stupidity. The language is in that person's language; of course it would be different! "Zhè tīng qǐlái xiāngdāng jīshù. Tā shì shénme, nǐ lèile ma? Huòzhě shì nín zhǐdìng de míngchēng ma?"

"Ich will seine Eier auf einem Tablett! Gebraten!" Snickering a little, the girl's demented grin starts to widen once more. "Gebraten Fröschinnereien schmeken gut, glaube ich. Es ist eine Weile her seitdem ich zuletzt etwas gegessen habe. Ich will viel Lebensmittel! Ich esse! Kapiert?"

"...... Yěxǔ wǒ bù míngbái, nǐ shíjì shang shì zài shuō shénme.." Frowning, Meiling glances to the side and sees what Patchouli has been doing this whole time.

Curiously enough, she is standing nearby, right behind the winged girl. While staring at it directly, never letting it make a wave of its hands without twitching her own, she has the oddest look on her face. "…Quite enough, I do say. Please desist with that old Chinese you are using, Meiling. This subject does not understand you one bit, from what she is saying.

Blinking owlishly, the winged girl bends over backwards, bending her neck far past the point where it would be comfortable so that she could look at Patchouli. "Ah, hallo! Bist du der Professor? Du hast eine akademisch Luft um du."

"That's quite enough of that. I am no professor, thank you very much." Looking back down, she sighs and stares at Meiling. It would be best for you to leave. I believe I must spend some time restraining this girl."

"Are you sure… I mean, she's pregnant from what I can tell." Frowning, Meiling looks back up. This time, the bird girl does not flip back over to stare at her, and instead keeps her eyes on Patchouli. "Would you experiment on her? It looks like she's past the first trimester, far as I can tell."

Frowning a bit, Patchouli glances away as she debates with herself. "…Beasts are quite common, but any changeling with child is a rare sight indeed. There are tests to run, but any attempt to abort the fetus, or experiments that would result in the same, would invalidate this unique opportunity."

"So there is something good in there…" Sighing, she looks up at the now motionless girl. "It wouldn't be right… I just wonder what happened to the father."

"Knowing changelings, it was probably taken unwillingly. Either in the dead of night, or extricated in a vulnerable moment." Grumbling, she looks up at the bird. "I know you can understand me now, as amusing as the earlier sight had been. It was a deal that you had made with another, wasn't it? Be it a changeling or a human… or even a youkai."

After a few moments of silence, during which the girl does not move one iota, she finally responds. "So war es. Ich have him ein Angebot gemacht das er nicht ablehnen konnte."

"Seems the fields are working properly, now." Sighs, Patchouli pulls another crystal out of her robe and sends it floating next to the one producing the light. "Annoyances. Sakuya should take care of those problems, but she loves her little misunderstandings." Looking back at Meiling, her voice rises once more. "Again, I ask you to leave. I need to restrain her properly, and you were disturbed by the last time."

"…It's no big deal." If she stays, she might be able to make sure she doesn't do anything too extreme. Patchouli seems to have enough of a conscious to not want to offend Meiling too much." You aren't going to—"

"Ich glaub mich tritt ein Pferd…" The girl finally reacts again, and nearly squawks as she spins about, turning to face Patchouli completely. "Ich kenne dich. Ich kenne dich!" Seconds later, she drops to the ground and opens her mouth to say something else.

Eyes widening at her words, Patchouli has decided she has had enough and immediately raises her hands. Wood shoots out of the floor and wraps about all six of the bird girl's limbs, and she immediately cries out. Meiling's ears twitch at the shrill cry, but Patchouli summons one more strip of wood to bind her mouth before it starts to hurt. "Begone, Meiling. You need not witness this." A second later, Meiling is lifted bodily into the wind and flung out the door, which immediately shuts the moment she clears the threshold.

"Oh… Oh dear. That is not… Ow." Rubbing her hip as she rises, Meiling just stares back at the door as a bruise starts to form. "What in the world was that about?"

------------

Light burns your eyes as you finally wake up, disturbed from your peaceful slumber as a pounding in your head replaces it. You groan a bit as you attempt to shake your head, but the resultant pain that pierces your skull encourages you to immediately stop and instead lay there as the throbbing continues.

"W-what happened to me?" Sighing, you slowly force your eyes open, hoping to see Marisa somewhere nearby. However, as your eyes adjust to the dim light of the room, one thing becomes readily apparent. This is not where you went to sleep the other day. "This ceiling is… unfamiliar. Where am I…"

"That alone is a story in and of itself, but it is mine to tell." You jump in place as you hear a man speak nearby, and you scurry away from the voice. You think you hear a tired sigh from his direction, but you are too busy grasping at the myriad covers of the bed you are apparently laying on to notice. "I am not going to hurt you, Miss Spanns, so you can desist with your mad scramble."

There isn't much more that you can scramble too, so you do that the moment that you hit a rock wall. "What are you d-doing in here, then…?" Shivering a bit, you glance around, the pain momentarily forgotten as you look for a way out. The best you can tell, you are either in someone's apartment or the study of a mad chemist. Perhaps both. "Where's Marisa? Did you kidnap me?"

The man rolls his yellow eyes as he sits in chair opposite of you, looking quite exasperated as you continue to cower in the corner. "Hardly. Sometimes I wonder why I do nice things for that girl." He shakes his head and motions to the desk. "I've done nothing against you, Margaret Spanns. I've silly watched over you while Marisa is… indisposed."

"Sure… Can you tell me who you are, then?" Your eyes continue to dart from side to side as you look for a way out. The door is nearby, but you'd have to go past him to get by. He's obviously larger, and you don't have any sort of weapon. That, and there's something unnatural about those yellow eyes. "Or are you allowed to do that? Did she tell you mine?"

"…Heh." He smiles a little before shrugging his shoulders. "She did not tell me your name, although she knows that no one needs to tell me their name. I cannot give you mine, but I swear on my name that I intend you no harm." Shrugging once more, he nods towards the table. You look towards it and see a stone bowl on the surface of the desk. Steam is rising from the top as if the contents within were boiling, or perhaps on fire. Surrounding it are various other containers that are leaking many unpleasant looking solutions. "She left that for you to take once you awoke. I'd suggest doing so."

[ ] Go ahead and drink it.
[ ] Refuse to do it.
[ ] Wait for Marisa to come back before doing anything.

------------

German edited by WhattheHell. Chinese is just put into google translate as it was taking long enough, and I didn't know where to start.

This one was quite the pain, with autocorrect going haywire.
No. 174192
[x] Go ahead and drink it.
We've already seen that Marisa and Maggie are... Well, they're on good terms with each other. I'm pretty sure we can trust this one.
No. 174194
[X] Wait for Marisa to come back before doing anything.

It seems a tad meta to trust him based solely on that, but I suppose we can hardly go against being biased towards accepting. After all, last she knew, wasn't she to not open that door to anyone but Marisa? He could very well be one of those Youkai that would be after us. Then again, it has been some time since that happened, and my memory isn't known to be the best. Perhaps we should... You know what, screw it, I think I'll just vote without using my meta knowledge~
No. 174195
[x] Wait for Marisa to come back before doing anything.

>Chinese is just put into google translate as it was taking long enough, and I didn't know where to start.
Sadly, Google Translate doesn't seem terribly inclined to translate it back.
No. 174196
[x] Wait for Marisa to come back before doing anything.

Let's just not drink any weird shroom concoctions for now. We can probably trust it, but it would be nicer to hear it from Marisa herself.
We can just make small talk with Rinnosuke until then. Like "where is this?" "How did you know my name if Marisa didn't tell you?" and "what did you mean by 'not needing to be told names'?", and any other of the probably dozens of questions she would have in this situation.
No. 174200
>>174195
Does it ever? I kept the original part anyways. Posting below.

Hello to you as well.
What are you doing up there? Can you speak something that I understand?
It's lovely to meet you as well.
Nod if you can understand what I am saying, please.
Could you at least tell me your name? It would be much appreciated.
So… your name is Frosch?
That sounds rather… odd. What is it that you are tired of? Or is that your given name?
…Perhaps I do not understand what you are actually saying…

No. 174201
[X] Wait for Marisa to come back before doing anything.

My mother told me never drink anything given by a stranger.
No. 174253
[-q-] Wait for Marisa to come back before doing anything.

------------

"I don't think I will." There is no way that you can trust him, no matter how nice he may sound. After all, it was the cloying words of a little girl that led you into your predicament in the first place. "I'm… going to wait for her, instead. I don't want to have anything else happen to me…"

"Suit yourself. Not like it's my pounding headache that is currently blinding me." Shrugging he leans back and closes my eyes. "That's better. I hate meeting new people. Always way too much to learn…"

Frowning, you glance at him, curious at what he means. After giving yourself a cursory check to make sure you are still dressed, you compose yourself as best as possible. "Why would that be? I've told you nothing. Unless there was… something… you were staring at while I was asleep."

The man groans a bit as you level the accusation at him. "Don't flatter yourself. I've had many better offers than you." He grins a bit as you wince just a bit. "Fortunately, you've no desire to steal my soul or my first born, so there are a few points in your favor."

"…You're a very strange man." He just nods absentmindedly and looks back to the door as his foot twitches impatiently. You sit there for a few minutes as you contemplate all that he said. He has said many things that have bothered you. If you are just going to wait here, you might as well try and get a few answers. "So, how did you know my name? Marisa… didn't tell you?"

"Of course she didn't. Just the same as how she didn't tell me her real name. And the same as she hasn't told you hers." He holds up a hand as you open your mouth, cutting you off before you can even interject. "She is not being untruthful to you, merely overly cautious. She herself needs to worry about falling too far into her current character. It'd be dangerous if she accepts such things in the heart…"

"Do you ever say something and mean it, or are you fond of empty words that are as substantial as fluff?" You just shake your head as you sit up a bit more, not as frightened as when you woke up. "At least Marisa meant something when she spoke to me, even thought she was predicated to merriment in her gay boasts."

The man snickers a bit for some reason that you cannot fathom. "Quite out of sorts, aren't you? Nevertheless, I meant quite what I said. It's hardly something for me to explain to you, after all. That is all dependent on that little witch that seems so fond of you."

"I bet she is…" Snorting, you glance at the concoction that is resting on the table. "I bet she's out sharpening her tools to cut me up. After all, witches are known for eating humans."

"Then she won't be eating you." The man smirks a bit as you stare at him, a little bit startled by his declaration. "It's obvious to those of us who know. You are closer to I than to her. However… It doesn't matter in the end. It's up to the one whose soul you share."

"Ok, that's enough. My soul is mine, and it certainly does not belong to anyone else. Whatever devilry that you, or even she, may be up to… that you will not take."

"It is not yours to give away." Sighing, he pinches his nose. "One moment you defend her, and the next you curse her as a witch. I should remove all of her potions so you don't accidentally light anything on fire. Such as her." Any amusement is gone as he leans forward and stares at you with those piercing yellow eyes of his. "However inconsistent your treatment of that girl is, let me make one thing clear. You are not who you once were. That much is easy for me to see… It is easier for me to see than any of the others."

Any bravado that may have built up in your speeches melts away as you scoot backwards, seeking to remove yourself from his presence once more. "What in the world are you talking about? Would you please explain, and stop… Stop dancing around everything?"

"It's quite simple. There is another sharing that soul. The one who originally possessed it, indeed. You are but a fragment, Margaret Spaans. An accident. That much is clear on the names I see written in your very being. Beautiful names, but… fragmented. The ink is sloppy and smudged. They are not clear and concise as his were."

"You've got to be joking… Aren't you?" Shivering, you do your best to avoid his stare. No matter where you look, you find you cannot bury your head in your breast and ignore him. Instead, you meet him, reluctantly. "I don't see how you can even say such things. Making such accusations. I'm… I'm not ghost. I can't be."

He shakes his head and leans back. "…That much, I can't say. You do not seem to act like the one the Prismrivers went to destroy. I can't tell you what you are, Margaret. I can only mention as to who you are. Names come to me very easily… I can read that which defines you… and that which binds you." He opens his mouth as if to say something else, but the doorknob turns and he blinks. "Ah. Marisa is back. I bid you farewell, Margaret Spaans." At that, he stands up and heads to the door as a familiar witch appears.

"Hey! Kourin! Already leaving?" Grinning as widely as always, Marisa slides by him as he makes his exit. "Aww, come on, it wasn't that bad, was it?" The man does not answer, and instead silently shuts the door behind him, leaving Marisa there staring at its blank facade. "…Or, just ignore me. That's about par for the course."

A moment later, she turns to you and waves. "Hi there again, Margaret. How ya doing out here? It's good to see you up and about instead of just snoozing like you were."

"…I suppose it is." Now that he is gone, you can at least get out of the corner you have crawled into. Without waiting any longer, you divest yourself of the blankets that were shielding you and climb off the top, standing up. The moment you do, though, your head splits and feels light, and you thrust your arms out in an attempt to grab something and steady yourself.

"Take it easy right there, Margaret." Fortunately, Marisa had been able to grab you by the arm before you collapsed back down. "You took a rather nasty hit on the head while you were out. I'd not make too many sudden movements for the moment."

Sighing, you turn your eyes back to the witch as you try and steady yourself. You glance back up at the ever grinning face of the girl and watch her for a moment, still unsure what to think. The girl had treated you right before, and hadn't done anything, witch or not. But then again, she managed to take you to here… wherever here is.

"Have I got something on my face?" Marisa tilts her head before wiping off her mouth and rubbing her nose vigorously. "Alright, I hadn't sneezed in a while, so I doubt anything's hanging out. Unless I did it while I was working and just forgot." Pausing, she turns around and looks at the counter. "…Nope. No sneezing. I'd have cleaned it up if I did."

"That does make me feel much better, thank you." Fussing a bit with your dress as she glances away, you wait for her to look back at you before speaking eye to eye. "I was just wondering how much I should trust you. You are a self-admitted witch, and yet you've been nothing but kind to me. However, I somehow end up here after going to sleep in that house. Perhaps you might wish to enlighten me as to how that occurred?"

The girl snorts looks away, wandering over to the table. "Now that is a bit of a long story, but I haven't done anything to you, have I? I don't mean to harm you…" She pauses and picks up the vessel with the curious liquid inside and carries it over. "Or has Kourin there got you all spooked? He does have a knack for scaring people that don't know what he is."

"Perhaps you could enlighten me then." Folding your hands demurely, you look back at here as you waver a little in place. She offers the jar first, but you decline it, wanting answers before drinking anything. "Tell me about him, and what he meant when he said that my soul was not my own."

You may have been predisposed to cast his words aside as those as a delirious lunatic, but when Marisa's smile vanishes and she pointedly glances away, you have to wonder if your suppositions were incorrect. "Now, that is a trouble tale to tell, pray tell." She forces the grin back on her face, but you do not respond, causing her to sigh. "Alright, not gonna laugh until I get down to the bottom of this, are you?"

"No, I am not."

"Fair enough." Shrugging, Marisa slams down the potion on the table before taking the seat Kourin had occupied moments before. "Kourin isn't human, as you might have guessed. He is one of those that has changed, you see. He was taken many years ago, similar to you. He was turned into a Changeling by his captor."

Frowning even deeper, you glance back at the door for a few moments. "He didn't seem too far off from one. The only thing truly unnatural about him was his eyes."

Marisa nods idly as she takes her hat off her head and hugs it to her stomach. "Quite. He's a decent bloke, all things considered. Although, I will point out that I never knew him before he was bound by Reimu. Akyuu hated the idea, as did the Prismrivers… but Felia managed to convince enough of them that they finally gave up and let him teach her how." You don't say anything as she mulls over what to say next. Marisa looks down, wanting you to respond, but you remain silent until she speaks once more. "Essentially, he is probably the most dangerous Changeling we have ever met. But one that was deemed too useful to go ahead and exterminate."

"What would be so dangerous about him, then?" There didn't seem to be anything particularly scary. You've seen far bulkier and intimidating men, and the only thing that managed to spook you were his eyes and his unerring knowledge. "Don't tell me he can delve into the depths of the mind or something…"

Snorting allowed, Marisa sits up a bit straighter, watching you closely. "A mind reader may be annoying, but at least it takes them time to delve into the depths. Instead, he just has a power to identify anything, or anyone, by simply glancing at them." Pausing, she holds up both of her hands lowers her voice, attempting to match his own. "He has been cursed with the knowledge of the beauty of names, and the terrible power that brings with it."

"…Well, that seems a bit underwhelming." Shrugging it off, you try to look at the good side of it, not that you can actually think of a bad side. "That actually sounds like something pleasant. Meeting a stranger for the first time and learning his name could make introductions smoother than they would otherwise be."

"One does not remember the other…" Marisa mutters under her breath before shaking her head. "It's more than that, Margaret. True Names, like those little fairytales of old. Would you tell one of them your whole complete name, and let them have power over you?"

Sighing, you pinch your nose. "I see. I suppose it is not too farfetched, considering the situation that I am in." Still, as important as that is, there is something else that is bothering you. "That man, this Kourin, he said that I shared my body with another. My soul with another. What would that mean? Am I possessed by some manner of devil, be it hellish or fae?"

The girl taps her lips for a second before sighing. "You were going to be told sooner or later." Marisa stands up suddenly, tossing her hat onto the ground before going over to that desk of hers. She kneels under it and looks through a pile of junk that had grown underneath from months of working. "Although, would you rather me tell you, or should I take the easy route and show you?"

[ ] Tell
[ ] Show
[ ] Neither
No. 174256
[X] Show

Might as well go the potentially flashier route.
No. 174258
[X] Show

Pictures worth a thousand words and all that.
No. 174259
[x] Show.
I mean, she'll find out eventually. Might as well get it over with when there's minimal animosity.
No. 174356
[x] Show.
No. 174358
[X] Tell, then show proof if necessary.

Showing what it means would probably be something like forcing Lucas to appear.
I mean, there is no other way of actually showing her what it means other than having her get into contact with Lucas.
Pictures, or magical illusions, or movies, or educational powerpoint presentations or whatever still means "telling" (but with visual aids), not "showing".

Let's not traumatize the poor girl without at least giving her a heads up first.
No. 174359
>>174358

I was thinking about the same thing when I voted before, but it never really came into my mind that having Marisa show Margaret would potentially be harmful to the latter's mind.

I've deleted my old vote for this one.

[X] Tell, then show proof if necessary.
No. 174360
I'll point out that I'm most of the way through the update. It should have been out yesterday, but some things got in the way.

Anywho, I'll take it into consideration. A little sad at the lack of faith in Marisa, thought.
No. 174366
>>174360
What lack of faith in Marisa? There's just nothing quite like seeing something personally to make you really believe it, instead of merely knowing that it's true.
No. 174372
[-r-] Show

------------

"The latter. Better to jump into the ocean than to slowly step in." You are better acquainted with the rivers of London, but the analogy is apt enough. "Although, what all would be involved with showing? I haven't noticed anything off about myself."

"You wouldn't have. If I am correct, his glamour is wrapping you up completely. Although, this one would be especially think. I have yet to see anything that would suggest you are anything but human." Marisa shrugs as she stands back up, holding a piece of used, bent iron pole in one of her hands. "This will do the job well enough, I hope. I'd rather not try and use magic to break the glamour, at least at first. Let's go with the methods we know."

Silently, you watch her as she comes close to you, gingerly gripping the long iron rod in one hand. She seems quite hesitant and is shuffling it about one hand, trying to not hold it too firmly. "You're not going to hit me in the head with that thing, are you? You're about to drop it on your own feet if you keep holding it that loosely."

"Right, right. I'm just trying to not look like I'm about to brain you." Marisa laughs nervously as she does tighten her grip. "After all, that's what gave you the welt on your head in the first place."

Well, I suppose that would explain the pounding of blood. It's a good thing there are no shooting pains, and all that would probably imply. "So, tell me, what exactly are you hoping to accomplish by waving a metal rod near me?"

"Like I said, I'm going to break the illusion. I could possibly use magic to do it, but if it is as thick as I imagine, side effects could include severe burning and death, among other things." Carefully, she lowers said rod towards your left hand, having it hover over your wrist.

There is nothing much that you feel, although after a few seconds your wrist begins to itch. You have to look down in order to ensure Marisa isn't simply rubbing your arm with the pole. "I don't think you're accomplishing anything other than making me itch with all the rust on the bar."

"Eh, well, I figured it'd be faster. I suppose we'll have to wait." Pausing, Marisa removes the bar and places it on the sheets next to you. "I nearly forgot to get this thing out." The girl reaches into her pack, tossing aside a few odds and ends and mushrooms as she digs for something. Eventually, she pulls a familiar piece of slate out of her bag before tossing the latter aside. "I need to record this. Once we get Rikako back into shape, I'm sure she'll want to go over all of this."

Frowning, you watch as she sets it down and hits a few strange buttons on its shiny surface, which seems to pull a series of jagged and smooth lines onto the display. "That thing still bothers me. What is the point of such a device? I have heard about clockwork engines which can calculate numbers, but that isn't what it is doing."

"Of course not. This is something I wanted to check up on, first. Wanted to make sure that you're still being read as human by the device." A few seconds later, Marisa taps it as the display levels out. "Well, not that the antenna is the best on this thing. You're close enough to read it well, even though these walls are built to keep them out."

"So, what does that mean…?"

Marisa snorts and reaches over for the bar. "It means that, as far as the device is concerned, you're human. Remember the blood test that I did?"

You nod gently as she lowers the rod once again. "Vaguely, yes. It seems like quite a while ago. …How long have I been asleep?"

"For quite a while. It's a few hours past noon. Reimu knocks people out good, but Changelings do heal fast." Shaking her head, Marisa once more applies iron to your wrist, and the itching sensation returns. "Most stubborn glamour that I've ever seen, that's for sure. If either of you were hostile, I'd prefer to blast it open."

"It is a good thing that I am not such a person." Although you did play the thief a few times with him when the two of you were children, you never could hurt anyone. You were raised better than that. "Although, I'm afraid that I cannot speak for this other, if he even exists."

"He does, don't doubt it. Unless I'm suffering from some massive hallucination and I used the wrong ingredient when I made that tracking potion…" Snickering, Marisa sighs and leans back. "Always hated doing it this way, though. Subtle is not my style."

You can't help but snort as you force your hand down, resisting the urge to scratch your wrist. "I do not doubt that. After all, who else would walk up to a random passerby and announce that they are indeed a witch?"

Marisa tilts her head as she considers that question. "I could probably get Rika to do it if I wanted to. But it would be a bit cruel to trick her. That, and I'd rather not blow our cover for a childish prank." She snickers as she continues to wait. "Jokes are all well and good, but I'm not going to lose our home or our lives over one."

"I would never have thought. Your tendency to kid is rather outrageous."

"It's not that bad. And someone has to keep a good mood." She sighs once more before propping her head on one free fist. "I mean, with the Ninth Child always getting on my case about doing my job and not causing paradox with my magic, or with the Prismriver's becoming so serious after Harold died, the atmosphere is quite sullen. Felia and her sisters are a bit better, but that doesn't count when she goes off on some prediction or prophecy…" She suddenly blushes as she looks down. "Sorry. I'm going on a bit of a rant, aren't I?"

"It's fine. It's not like I know any of these people, but I have a feeling I'm going to have to deal with them." You glance towards the door, staring for a moment as you consider what to say. "That doesn't sound like very many. How many of you are here at all?"

Marisa blinks and sighs. "Alright, depressing conversation then. It's fewer than we used to have. With Akyuu, Reimu, and Kourin…" She silently holds out her fingers as she counts up the remainder. "The three of them, not to mention those other four… and Rika… There are maybe twelve of us that actually can do anything. Although, Kourin cannot do anything without permission from Reimu. Not that I blame him. If he gets in one of his depressive moods again, he might try and kill himself."

You jerk your eyes back to Marisa. "That man that was just in here? Why in the world would he want to do that?" He seemed prouder than that, and hardly one to take that easy way out. "Does it have to do about what you spoke of a few minutes ago? You mentioned that he was valuable, for some arcane reason."

"Pretty much. He's gotten better about it the longer he's been here. Reimu is a good person, and wouldn't abuse him or his powers, and even Akyuu is shrewd enough to not let her hate blind her." A small snicker escapes her mouth before she grins crookedly. "That is after she threw her temper tantrum."

"You speak about her as if she is just a little girl…" Marisa starts to snicker again, and you wonder what you have said that could be taken as humorous. "Should I simply stop speaking? Everything I say seems to be continuously misconstrued."

Marisa shakes her head even as she forces the laughter down. "Nothing. You'll just be surprised when you meet her, that's all."

"That is noted…" Looking down, you cannot help but to reach over and attempt to rub your wrist as the itch intensifies even more. Eve as you do, though, Marisa shoves your hand away. "I'm not supposed to touch it?"

"It's for the best. I'm not casting some sort of spell on you. I'm just trying to remove the glamour on the least offensive item. I don't exactly want to scare you to death."

Well, that is certainly good to know, although you know if any of this were true, that wouldn't still be the case. "I'm currently doing my best to ignore what you're saying. I'd rather not believe that I am not myself based on the words of a stranger and a witch."

Marisa looks up and smiles, although her eyes do not echo the emotion. "Trust me, I'd rather it not be true either. However, I saw you turn into your current form. You should consider yourself more fortunate than most others, though."

"I would ask why, but that is a question whose answer I probably do not want to know." The itching starts to get even worse, and you see your skin peeling away. "This is starting to hurt, Marisa…" You whimper a bit as your skin starts to shrivel and recede up your arm. "Oh dear…"

"Hold steady, Margaret." Marisa grabs and squeezes your hand with the one she has spared while she continues to hold it there. "Like I said, there are faster ways I could do this, but I don't want to risk injuring you. Just grit your teeth and bear it." She suddenly grows a cocky grin on your face. "Besides, you're a Brit, ain't ya? Where's that stiff upper lip that they're known for?"

You do not bother to respond as your skin seemingly begins to burn away, causing you to moan in pain. Somehow, you keep your eyes open through it all as it apparently melts before your eyes. The glass of the strange piece of mechanical slate seems to be going haywire. "P-please… Marisa…"

"Almost there… Just wait a bit… Ok!" Marisa yanks the piece of iron away and tosses it to the aside, rubbing her own hand as she does. "Damn thing gets hot enough from vibrating… Here you go."

You barely register her words as you stare at what is stuck on the end of your arm. Instead of white bone, which should have been expected considering the pain of the injuries, there is instead a wooden hand that is larger than your own. "This… This isn't… This can't be possible."

Marisa shoots you a sad smile before something distracts her. Nervously, she reaches out and traces a dark band around the base of the wrist, which has a circular band about it that appears to have been branded. "…sorry…" She takes a deep breath before looking back up at you. "It's real, Margaret, don't deny it."

"It can't be. By God, it can't be…" You slowly move your fingers up and down, and you see the overly large wooden fingers move as well. "A terrible witchcraft, a curse, devilry placed upon me. By all that is holy, please let this not be real."

"Asserting that it isn't there won't help, Margaret." Marisa grabs your chin and moves your head so that you are staring back at her instead of at the hand that shouldn't be attached to you. "That part is the least offensive part of him. Anything else, and it would have been much worse. But there is nothing wrong with you, Margaret. You are stuck in his head, that much I can tell. I don't know how or why, or even if it was on purpose… But we'll get you out of there. We'll find some way to make you real again. Just stay calm"

"How can I do that? How can I believe you?" Your head continues to shake as you try to erase what you have seen. "You said you had magic… You had mentioned things I couldn't believe. But I am… How can I be in someone else's skin?"

Marisa shakes her head and grabs that other hand. "It's the other way around, Margaret. You are the skin that is stuck on him. But we will find a way to get you off. Somehow. He even agreed to this. The other that is trapped in that head with you. Trust me."

"I… I can't trust a witch… Who says that this isn't some sort of magic that you are using to try and snare me as your servant. Some variant of wiles that will lead me into sinful choices…"

"Trust what you know, Margaret. I've done nothing but help you. I believe your story. If it wasn't for me, you'd be out there alone on the streets." Reaching forward, she grabs both of your hands, the latter of which has skin slowly growing back up the wood and covering it up once more. "And you don't want that. Things may have gotten better after you've been away for so long, but they are not much better. And a lost girl certainly won't be guaranteed safety."

She snorts and almost glances away, but Marisa keeps her eyes on yours even as she turns her head. "Besides, I want to help you. Let me help you, Margaret."

[ ] Very well… Please.
[ ] No. Don't. Just… Stop.
&
[ ] Show me the rest. I need… need to know.
[ ] That is enough. Just leave me be for now.
[ ] I think that is enough, but some company might be nice.
[ ] Let us go. I need something to distract me.
No. 174376
[x] Very well… Please.
[x] I think that is enough, but some company might be nice.

Maragret has little choice in the matter. Also, baby steps.
No. 174378
[X] Very well… Please.
&
[X] Show me the rest. I need… need to know.


Margaret is a brave girl. She should be able to handle it.
Especially when she's already prepared for it and has had a chance to steel herself.
No. 174383
>>174376

Going along with this.

Also, I was reading through NSTAF again, and I noticed that at the end,when Lucas fought Wriggle in the apartment, when he went through Margaret's memories, she mentioned someone named Luke. Is that supposed to mean anything, or was it a coincidence?
No. 174388
[x] Very well… Please...I'll trust you.
[x] Show me the rest. I need… need to know.
[x] Tell me more about this other.

I know it will be hard for her, Maggie's woken up in a strange world and doesn't know what's going on, but so far Marissa's done nothing, but try and help. It's time we repaid it with a little trust.

I think it's important to ask about Lucas. Marissa keeps mentioning this other, but hasn't given much details.

Also while she might be a little overwhelmed by the whole situation, and not quite sure what to make of it all, she'd probably want to dive into the truth. In my opinion she tends to make impulsive decisions, for good or ill, and when she sits backs and thinks about it, she doesn't act. At least that's my opinion.
Basically, if she doesn't force herself to face the truth now, I don't think she will until it's too late. Better now in a relatively safe environment.
No. 174389
[x] Very well… Please.
[x] I think that is enough, but some company might be nice.
[x] Tell me more about this other.
No. 174394
[x] Very well… Please...I'll trust you.
[x] Show me the rest. I need… need to know.
[x] Tell me more about this other.

>>174388
I agree with your comment. Besides, ignorance doesn't mean that Maggie's true nature will go away, so we might as well face it directly under these conditions.
No. 174401
>>174388

This is my vote, but after thinking about it a little more I think we might want to ask about Lucas first, something along the lines of
[x] Show me the rest. I need… need to know, but first tell me a little more about this "other".

I think if she can identify with Lucas as a person and understands her connection to him, it'll help soften the blow. I admit to an extent I'm gambling on Maggie's inner strength. This is a lot to take in for her, but from the glimpses we've seen of her past, as well as how she she acted as Margatroid...well I hate to assume, but I have faith in her.

I'm cool with either version of my vote though, if people like the original better.
No. 174449
[x] Very well… Please.
[x] I think that is enough, but some company might be nice.
[x] Tell me more about this other.
No. 174556
[-s-] Very well… Please.
[-s-] I think that is enough, but some company might be nice.
[-s-] Tell me more about this other.

------------

"I don't have much of the choice, so it seems. Although, would you even let me go if I asked you to?" At her silence, you just nod to yourself. "I had figured as much. Although, there's not a lot to go for if I leave."

Marisa nods as well as she finally turns away. "Everyone has a choice, Margaret. Even if the choice is, quite honestly, a bunch of crap, it's still a choice." A smile does come over her face, one that is a lot more honest than some of the others she had worn previously. "No matter. I'll do my best to help you. I made a deal with him, after all. He's a good sort, though… The only one that I've ever met myself."

You do have to wonder how sure she is of such things, and what kind of person that he might be. Naturally, you could ask her to go farther and get rid of that magic, whatever it might be, from your body. However, the thought of shedding even more sends a shiver down your spine. Everything about the situation simply feels wrong. You don't want to expose any more, especially seeing what little you have. The thought of being no more than a doll, and a male one at that, is certainly an unpleasant one. "Marisa, if you could… could you move that away from me? I don't want to see any more."

She nods to herself and takes the rod away, glancing at it for a second before idly tossing it back in the pile from which it came. "It's no problem. There's no need to send you into shock, or keep it exposed." Even as she says that, Marisa glances toward her slate as your hand returns to normal. You can't help but to notice that the oddly angular designs that were dancing across it slowly calm and return to a normal pulse.

At least her motives aren't completely altruistic. That alone makes you calm down a bit more. "I'm glad that I am proving to be an interesting subject, at least."

"Heh… That you are. 'Course, it would be better if Rikako was still sane enough to interpret this. She'd make the best use of it." Shrugging, she grabs the slate and slips it into the bag, being much more gentle than with the rod of iron. "It's a pity… Trapped in that glamour. Not that it's worst for us. Rika's got it the worst…"

There is no real way that you can respond to that declaration. Although you hardly know her, you still sympathize with her. "She should count herself lucky, at least. She has yet to lose her family, from what I understand."

"Worse than that. But, it's not really my story to tell much about. You'll have to ask her for the full details." Marisa's voice is gravely once more before she brightens again. "So, are you going to stay here the whole time? Or should I go ahead and start attempting to find some way to extract you from his body?"

"…Do you have an idea of how to start?" Marisa's sheepish glance tells you everything, and you can't help but to huff. "I had suspected as much. I would suggest we not do that, then. I'd much rather go out. Not like I will accomplish much by sitting down here."

Still chuckling to herself, Marisa nods. "Right. Well, you don't want to go out here. As much as you might try and acquaint yourself with the changes in the times, the culture shock would be much greater than you'd imagine."

Where in the world have they taken you? The place you woke up initially seemed normal enough, if strange in the oddest of ways. "Should I ask where I've been taken? Or am I in some odd hamlet in the middle of nowhere that is filled with your kind?"

"Hardly. We're a world away from where you were last time. In one sense of the word, at least." Sighing, Marisa stands up and heads over past the desk before beginning to scrounge around in another pile. "As for what I'll be able to do, I've yet to find anything. The only location I haven't yet scoured are these old alchemical texts of mine. I didn't remember anything in there, but I might be lucky enough to find a recipe buried in these musty pages."

As you watch her toss book after book out of yet another pile, you smile just a little bit. "Some sort of evil brew, I assume. Is it as foul looking as that concoction you made attempt to feed me?"

"Well, if you consider witchcraft evil, yes. But in the end, these are most forgotten, not good or bad. All the old alchemists died out. There is a good deal of power in even the most basic of objects, although I've found that I am quite partaken of mushrooms."

"Good thing it isn't toads, or I'd wonder if you were hiding warts." As you think about it, you are quite curious. What if this girl is not showing her true face as well? As soon as the thought arises, though, you smack it down. You've hardly the need to start doubting her again. She has been honest and respectful, if too joking. You've met slimier people in your father's shop as customers, even if they put on debonair trappings to disguise their disdainful opinions. "I'm surprised you haven't brought it up again."

"You weren't interested in drinking it. I wasn't going to ask again until you brought it up. No reason to shove it down your throat." Marisa chuckles as she emerges from the pile with yet another book. The pages from within flutter to the ground while she looks toward you. "Do you want it now? It'll take care of that nasty blow to your head. It's going to keep pounding for a while at least."

The bed creaks as you try to rise and grab it once more, but Marisa stops you before you suffer a bout of pain once more. "Hold on, now. I'll get it." Dropping the disintegrating book into the pile that she had thrown all the others upon, the witch heads to the table and grabs the steaming cup of something. "Now, pinch your nose. I make good concoctions. That doesn't mean they taste good."

Once you gaze inside the vessel, you are glad to see that there is nothing bubbling inside. "I have yet to find any medicine that does taste good, so such a declaration does not surprise me at all." Gingerly taking the cup in one hand, you pinch your nose and toss it back in one gulp.

"Where'd you learn that? Not seen many girls that could do that." As much as you'd like to debate the particulars as to where you learned to drink, the burning heat that is filling your head currently preoccupies you. Whatever dull ache might have been there soon disappears as a fire lights inside your head and spreads into every single crevice in your brain cavity.

It isn't enough to make you scream out in pain, instead causing you to curl up on the bed. You barely feel the hand on your shoulder as you double over and cradle your head in your hands. After about a minute of this pain, it slowly recedes, letting you breathe out a sigh of relief. "That… That was quite the experience. What exactly did you do…?"

"Like I said, I am fond of mushrooms. Many of them are poisonous, but prepared the right way, they are beneficial." You finally feel her squeeze your shoulder before letting go, taking the vessel with her. "Don't worry about it, though. You should be clear. And if your nose was stuffy, it'll all be cleared up now, that I can't guarantee."

"Here I was thinking you were peddling in snake oil." Snorting, you stand up, and this time you finally are able to stay up without pain in your head. "That worked fast though. I'd have expected to be bedridden for days."

"If it were up to Akyuu, you would be. And chained at that. Good thing that he is my prisoner, and I can treat him how I like." Marisa sits down on the pile of books and starts to dig again. "And thus, I am treating you as I can. Not that I blame her. After so many lives, you would get quite cautious."

"Quite." Now she raises the prospect of the one who owns your body, or so she says, you find yourself growing curious. After all, since you can't see what body is supposedly lurking under your skin, you might as well ask Marisa about him. "So, what can you tell me about him? You've spoken quite a lot about him, but you haven't said much specific about him, Marisa."

Marisa glances back up at you before turning back down to her work. "Figured that I'd wait as well. There's no need to rush you by ramming all the information I can down your throat, after all."

A small smile slips on your face as you calmly fold your hands over each other again. "Truly, that is good. After all, I would normally read or listen to learn something new. That must be a strange potion that you've concocted."

It takes a moment for the girl to begin snickering. "You're a strange one, Margaret. And that's a lot coming from me."

"I had understood as much. One must find their cheer when they can."

"…That they must." Marisa sighs before beginning to recount what she knows. "First of all, he is a Changeling, but nothing like Kourin earlier. He is bestial, and he would be frightening to someone who is ignorant."

Frowning, you glance back down at your hand. "I did not see that. I saw a limb made of wood, but nothing truly frightening. Merely shocking."

"Consider that he had that limb removed. His other is clawed. You might compare it to a harpy, if you want a mental image to compare it with." You've never seen a drawing, but you've heard enough to understand where she is going. "He no longer has fair, and instead is covered with feathers as a replacement. No ears, as birds hardly have ears. He doesn't have a beak, but that grin of his is unsettling. I have yet to examine it, but I'm sure something changed in his jaw."

Holding up her right hand, Marisa taps the end of her fingers. "His one remaining hand has claws on the end of his fingertips, all of which seem to be both strong and sharp. On his back, he has wings that do allow him to fly, although I'm not sure if he has hollow bones or not. I'm not keen on the idea to crack them open."

At least now you know why she elected to show you the one hand. "That sounds quite agreeable. If he had a broken leg, I wouldn't be surprised if I had one as well." Still, there has to be more to it, unless he is some dumb brute of a monster and was easily tricked. "There is more to the story, though?"

"Isn't there always?" Marisa sighs once more and leans back on the pile, staring towards the ceiling in the process. "He's still sane, far and beyond any of the others I've found. Of the ones that I've exterminated that were not by that point wild emotions and madness, they were pointedly attacking other humans for pleasure and power. They had easily succumbed to the power that can be had as something inhuman. He did not desire to do that. He wanted to go back, and to save someone else. A friend of his."

"I can think of someone like that…" It did not help that he was dead, but a similar devoting could perhaps explain his loyalty. "Was this someone close to him?"

"Relatively close. He did smile when he was explaining himself. However, it seems to be the thought of leaving them behind while he himself escaped was too much." Marisa begins tracing a finger in the air, as she stares at some design that no one else can see. "He's smart, smarter than I am, for sure. Then again, that doesn't take much in this place. Most of those here are smarter than me."

That seems rather hard to believe, considering the sheer amount of books in here that are well used, not to mention what little you've seen. "How is that possible? It isn't as if you are dumb. I don't know of any chemist that could create a cure as effective as that one was, painful as it were."

Snorting out loud, Marisa turns her eyes to you for a second. "I work at what I'm good at. I may be talented, but this is the result of years of effort. And I'm still lagging behind those who have greater gifts than I." A second later, she goes back to tracing the ceiling once more. "In the end, he is just a man, but one that has a fire burning inside of him. He wants to do something other than feel sorry for himself. He has to go rescue his friends out of the prison that is that world. I'd say that he's a good person. Although, considering how he was staring at Rika's equipment on the ride back, I think he is displaced somewhat in time as well."

"That is… somewhat comforting, actually." Perhaps he is from a time similar to your own. Even if not, you could find some common ground, being lost so far in time. "Isn't there anything else that you could tell me?"

"Probably. But I do have to look this up. I'll probably have to knick a few books from Akyuu as well. As much of an annoyance that she can be, she does make lovely records. There might be enough knowledge hidden inside of them that I could reconstruct a spell or potion…"

As much as you do not want to prevent her from working, there's still more that you need to find out. "Well, what am I to do, then? Shall I wait here for you to complete your work?"

"You don't have to. It's going to take a long time. This is not something that you do off the cuff, after all." Marisa stops messing with her drawing and turns back down to root through her books. "If you want to hear more about him, go talk to Rika. I'm sure that she'll be happy to explain. Just don't be afraid to get greasy in the process."

"I'll take that into account." Even as you glance towards the door, another question comes to mind. "If he, and by association, I, am so disliked by those others that live here, why am I allowed to wander wherever I may please?"

"Because he is bound. I don't think it is necessary, but it makes everyone else feel safer." You turn towards her in alarm, but she waves you off. "Don't worry about it. You haven't even flinched at the slightest order that I've given, so I doubt that you can be commanded by the spell."

Disturbing the thought may be, you shake it off again. She has been waiting on you this entire time, not the other way around. Internally, you have to repeat the mantra once more, remembering to trust her for now. "That is relieving to hear. So, where might I find this girl?"

"Take the elevator down to the lowest level. That or the stairs. Always thought the elevators were a good idea, even if some people shun them." Marisa sniggers as she pulls yet another book out, taking a glance at it before tossing it onto the stack. "Look for the girl with pigtails. She does stand out."

[ ] Stay here. Maybe you can make yourself useful.
[ ] An elevator? You've never ridden one before.
-[ ] You'll figure it out on your own.
-[ ] Ask her to come and show you.
[ ] Just wander wherever. If you go out of bounds, they'll let you know.

------------

Decided to go the route that would have kept Margaret in control. You are right in saying she is a strong girl, but she is not yet Margatroid.
No. 174565
[x] An elevator? You've never ridden one before.
-[x] You'll figure it out on your own.

Let's go up and down a few times in the elevator.
It's not as if an elevator is hard to understand and we could throw a quick glance at each floor while looking for Rika, so we get a general picture of what this place is like.

I wouldn't actually compare Margaret being a strong girl to being Margatroid.
After she becomes Margatroid, she's just different. It's not that she's strong, per se, more that she lacks human weakness.
(Kind of like that thing about how "being brave" doesn't mean you don't get scared, it just means that you still do what you must even though you're absolutely terrified.)
No. 174570
[x] An elevator? You've never ridden one before.
-[x] Ask her to come and show you.

I think we should go, Rika can tell us more about Lucas and could probably use the company. I'm ok with going on our own, but does Margaret know how to use an elevator? Marisa guiding us at least to the elevator could help us avoid misunderstandings if we run into anyone, though unless it's Akyu I doubt we'll have issues, and even then we might not.

Either way I think we should head straight there, don't think Margaret would be comfortable playing around too much.

I voted for the other choice, but it makes sense. I don't know if strength is the right word, Margatroid would be more accepting of the unknown, whereas Maggie would probably be overwhelmed by it all. Probably for the best, this let's her learn more about her situation and allows us to get to know her better.
No. 174572
>>174570
Voting along these lines.
No. 174587
>>174570
Eh, it's not as if it's that hard to figure out how an elevator works.
Even if she's never used a modern elevator before it's not as if the concept of elevators is new, just the design.
Besides, since her reaction was "I've never been in one before" rather than "what's an ell-uh-vey-tor?", I would assume she's at least passingly familiar with them.
No. 174596
>>174587

Yeah I figure that's probably the case, I just like to try and avoid confusion and misunderstandings whenever possible, they usually don't work in our favor. As I said I'm fine with Margaret going by herself, but at the very least we should ask where the elevator is. We don't know much about the layout of the floor we're on and I'd rather not wander places we're not supposed to be.
Also keep in mind Marisa tends to underestimate other people's reactions.
No. 174606
Well, I'll go ahead and call it there. No guarantee that it'll come out tonight, though. The different isn't too great, though.
No. 174672
[-t-] An elevator? You've never ridden one before.
-[-t-] Ask her to come and show you.

------------

"That she might be, but I've never used the device you've spoken of." You primly stand there as you watch the witch monkey about with her pile of books. "That, and I have no idea how your abode here is arrayed. A little help might be appreciated."

"You don't have to be so frigid. You could have just asked for a little bit of help." Marisa chuckles as she straightens up, leaning backward as she stretches out. You can't help but to wince as her back pops loudly, even though she lets out a large sigh of relief. "Alright, I'll come. Just be careful. I've already told everyone that you are here, so you won't get questions about why you are here."

Nodding, you step to the side, letting her walk by. "I understand. Although, if that is the case, wouldn't it be wiser to keep an eye on me the whole time? You've already said that not all would be friendly."

"They're not going to try anything. That much I know." Marisa gives you a look before opening the door and walking out. "But enough about that. If there's trouble, just come here. And if you can't, I'll find out soon enough. I'm not going to lock you in the room just to keep you safe." After you head out and after her, she turns to the left and leads you down a long stone hall. "But never mind that. Let me just tell you how to get back here. If you want to find the elevator, just look for that which is out of place."

Glancing about, an amusing thought comes to mind as you stare down the long stone walls. "I'm quite sure that this whole place is anachronistic. The sewers under London are in better shape than this."

Marisa shoots you yet another look, this time curious. "When were you in the sewers? You don't seem the kind to be rooting about and hiding underground."

"I was friend with one of the disaffected youth that lurked on the streets. I learnt a lot in those times." Smiling a bit, you walk past her, not intending to continue that conversation right now. "But this elevator? Wherever might that be?"

"Right this way. But you're going to have to share the story sometime." She snickers to herself before catching up and passing you, leading you pass a few doors. "There's not much up here. This is the main level, with the entrance down the next hall to our right. It's something that Akyuu put together along time ago. With how long she's been around, she's had the time to dig out these old magma chambers."

"That is a comforting thought. You are living in a volcano." Well, you suppose there could be worse places to live. At least the fires do not burn eternal there. "I presume it would be safe to say that there is little chance of it erupting?"

The witch chortles once more as she walks along, passing the corridor in question. "Well, if it does, we have measures. And we're not dumb enough to stay here if it gets too much for the magic and rock to hold back."

"A witch with sense. Will wonders never cease." Even as you talk, you finally notice that one odd patch that Marisa had mentioned earlier. Two metal doors with a light with no flame lights up the area instead of the more common braziers. "I suppose this is the location, then. How do I call it?" You don't wait for her to answer as you spot a small panel with two buttons nearby. "I suppose that this would be the method?"

Immediately, she answers you by pressing the lower button. "That it is. Just press the button and it'll come for you. It's relatively simple. That is, unless Rika has made any improvements since the last I was in." A few seconds after she finishes speaking, you hear a thump of machinery and the ten-foot tall doors slide open, revealing an enormous metal platform that is quite bare. "…Doesn't look like it. I know one time she tried to increase the speed by switching out the motor for something with a bit more power."

You barely listen as you step onto the platform tepidly, testing your weight on it. However, for once something is what it seems and the platform holds you easily, not even swaying under the pressure. Even so, you can't help but to feel an odd weight on your shoulders. No matter where your eyes dart, though, you do not see a reason for that to be the case. "Well, this didn't go too poorly, all things considered."

"They don't tend to. Of course, throw a wrench in any plan and it goes straight into the toilet." Marisa reaches around to the inside, eventually finding a rather large handle on the inside. "Now, just throw it to the bottom to get down there, and if you want to get here, put it up about midway up. Simple, see?"

"I suppose I do." As you inspect the lever, you notice a few painted lines beside the lever, next to its track. However, there's no other indication of what floor is what. "You do not label where you are traveling with this machine?"

"Not really. We all know where we're going. It's not like it's going to help much if we're attacked, but it could slow things down for a few seconds." Marisa shrugs once more before grabbing her lever and slowly pulling it down. "Damn bastard is stuck a bit. Always bugging me."

Wordlessly, you reach over and grab it as well. However, the moment your hands touch the metal, you feel a burn through your hand and you immediately yank it away. "Great. I suppose that I should have realized that, considering the last reaction I had to metal." You look at your palm to see if it looks burned, but any pinkness slowly fades from your normal pale skin.

Marisa just nods as she sighs and steps in. "I have to keep that in mind better than I have. It's too easy to put it out of mind… There's nothing particularly off about you." She grabs the handle with both hands, and it eventually shoves down. "There we go. Just caught on a sliver of metal, probably." She dances out of the door as it begins to close you in the cage. "Now, I'll get to work. Just come up soon enough. Rika will help you up if you do need it in the end."

"Thank you much, Marisa." You nod politely as the weight bears down on your shoulders and the doors bang shut, the noise echoing loudly as the cage shudders and slowly descends into the ground. Even as you do, you can't help but to dart your head about towards every nook and cranny. Everything is that same metal plate, nothing more than that. You do not see anything that could be indicative of some sort of witchcraft, no runes or gleaming stones whirling with power. Even so, there is some unimaginable power beating down on your head.

The longer you stay, the more your head moves about, and you need to get off of this ride. You need to get out of this cage, and you need to get out now.

By the time you hear the doors clatter and slide open, you find yourself clutching your head, and you can't remember much before. Even so, you don't care about as you suddenly notice the slim opening of the widening portal. You dart forward, ignoring the frostiness of your breath as you dash from safety. You have to get away from that metal cage. You can't remember the last time you've needed to do s̢ǫ̸̛m͏̢͘eţ̴̷h҉i͢n͘g͡ ́so҉ ̛͜͝b҉a͢͢͡d.

You stand outside of the metal cage, panting heavily as you watch it slowly slide all the way open. That presence weighing you down slowly dissipates, and you find that you can finally relax some. Slowly, your chest stops heaving and your breathing eases up. "I… That was… What in all that is holy… Such a horrible presence. Was there something cursed within?" Even as you try to find an explanation, you simply remember the effect the metal had upon you earlier. "Could it be that simple?"

"Isn't it always?" You nearly jump as you spin about, looking for the source of the voice. A second later, you look down and find the source, staring up at you with oddly wide eyes. "You needn't be surprised. I've been waiting for you."

"Why would you?" The small girl barely looks to be over the age of twelve, and she sounds every bit of her age. Not to mention she was wearing something that appeared to be pajamas. "Are you looking for someone”?

"You might say that." She blinks again and tilts her head, continuing to stare. "…You shouldn't be so afraid. No one on this level will do you any harm."

"…Right." While you don't want to snap at the girl, you can't help but be a bit irritated considering what you had just gone through. "Is there something you need, then?"

She shakes her head at that, but even as she does, she never blinks. "No, nothing more. I have nothing more to say to this side of you." At that, the girl steps forward and onto the elevator. At least, she attempts to. Before she puts her foot down, she hops to the side. "You might wish to be careful in the future. Your glamour is leaking on the floor."

You can't see anything of the sort inside the elevator. The only thing that is out of place is a rather shiny spot on the otherwise grungy and worn floor. However, the door closes before you can get a good glimpse of it, leaving you unable to do anything but sigh. "That is spiffy. A rather odd child… What am I to encounter next?"

Turning about, you finally realize the massive chamber you are in. Looking opposite of the elevator, you see a line of massive mechanical monstrosities, the smallest of which is heads above your own. A good number of them appear to be in states of disrepair, with parts littered everywhere the eye can see. To your right is a set of stairs that leads to a hallway that runs a few feet above and to the right of the large chamber. There seems to be one room halfway down the enormous cavern that is extended into the main chamber, and is supported by a plethora of iron struts.

To your left, the cavern continues even farther, even as the roof closes in. The ceiling alone reminds you that you are within a natural chamber, not one that is manmade. However, the floor is as flat as the Thames is damp, so some serious work has been performed upon it.

Nonetheless, you hear a few clangs of metal hitting metal echoing throughout the chamber. At the very least, something is down here. You just hope that one of these metal monstrosities do not come to life and start after you.

[ ] Go straight ahead towards the end of the row.
[ ] Go up the stairs to the right and down the hall.
[ ] Go left and explore the depths of the cavern.
No. 174691
[x] Go up the stairs to the right and down the hall.

Gee, I wonder who we'll find here...[/sarcasm]
No. 174692
[x] Go straight ahead towards the end of the row.

Just looking around.
No. 174710
[X] Go left and explore the depths of the cavern.

Seems that the beast wants out.
No. 174713
Well that was odd, this thread wasn't showing up for me until I posted that sage vote in the other.

WELP.

[X] Go left and explore the depths of the cavern.
No. 174893
[x] Go straight ahead towards the end of the row.

Hopefully we'll be able to pinpoint the source of the sound by moving around.
No. 174933
[x] Go straight ahead towards the end of the row.
No. 175704
[-u-] Go straight ahead towards the end of the row.

------------

Well, you might as well stay straightforward in your attempts. If you descend into that mess of machinery, there's no telling what you may discover. You calmly step forward as you walk down the avenue before you, casting your eyes around as you walk.

The initial impression of the vast expanses may have lead you to believe that the cavern was mostly empty, but the debris that litters the floor as you walk forward easily dispels any thoughts in that regard. Along the side are a few workbenches with scores of wrenches of various shapes and sizes. Of the assortment are a few that are easily larger than your leg, and were seemingly forged to handle bolts that are exceedingly large. "At this rate, I'm going to ask where they received the money for this. They have enough materials here to furnish a well-supplied machinist's shop. Or perhaps a dozen…"

Still, there's no one to answer those thoughts as you continue on down the cave, falling into a rut that was carved by some large piece of metal. You shudder to think what might have caused it, even if the answer is clearly sitting to your left. Determined, you raise your head and move forward, listening to the clangs of iron that resound in the chamber.

You eventually find the source of them as you reach the end and nearly trip over a collection of sprockets and chain scattered about the floor. Another of the large metal vehicles is lifted into the air on a floating platform without a single support at all. On the floor nearby is a large drill head, which curiously has a few holes at the tip along with a few hoses along its base. Shrugging it off as yet another marvel that you do not quite understand, you slink around the vehicle as the sounds get louder and louder.

On the backside of the vehicle is rather short girl messing with the vehicle, hammering away all the while as you approach. Her wearing of trousers does manage to surprise you a little, but no more than the fact that she is working on something this large. "Pardon me, miss, but where is your supervisor? I was told to come down here to get a few answers."

The girl drops a large wrench as she nearly jumps in shock. "Who was that? Didn't sound like Marisa…" Ducking her head, the girl looks up at you from under her contraption. "Who're you? I was expecting someone to come, but I've no idea who you are."

"Margaret Spaans." Folding your hands calmly, you wait for her to completely extract herself and put away the wrench she had dropped. "I was told to speak with you about the one that I am said to possess."

"Ohh… I see." For a moment the girl cuts her eyes at you before springing back to her feet, having deposited her wrench into the pile. "So you're the one in him. I had hoped that…" She shakes her head as she steadies herself, tossing her pigtails to the sides as she does. "Never mind. Stop acting like that, Rika…"

"Not quite the reaction I was expecting, to be honest." You can't expect everyone to welcome you with open arms. Considering what Marisa had said, though… "Go ahead and tell me what is bothering you. I didn't think I had done anything particularly offensive as of yet."

The girl shakes her head again as she stuffs her hands in her pockets, slumping her shoulders a bit as she does. "Nah, nothing you done. Just was really hoping to see someone else." Rika looks back at you curiously, staring at you. "Is he… awake in there at all? Or is he just snoozing in the back of your head?"

You study her face for a few seconds as you remain quiet, trying to hear anything that may be there. However, silence is all that you hear in your head. "Thankfully, I do not have any voices in my head. Considering the problems that I have had so far, I must consider myself blessed for that gift."

"Oh well." She shakes her head before glancing back at the vehicle she had been working on before you arrived. Her mouth thins as she eyes a sheet of metal that had buckled at some time previous, looking rather annoyed. "So, who sent you down here, then? And why talk to me?"

"Marisa certainly said that you would know more about the one that I am inhabiting. …The thought is certainly morbid, although I can't help but to admit that I am curious. What kind of man, or monster, do I happen to share a body with?"

Rika glances back at you curiously as she goes up to the vehicle and starts to inspect it. "Well… He did talk quite a lot. I get the feeling that he wanted someone to vent to. Anyone. Not that I minded him talking about it. What happened was rather gruesome. I'd hate to be any of the ones that went through the ordeal he did. Especially that sparrow girl…" Rika shivers a bit before looking back to her tools. "It's kind of shocking how much he went through. And he hasn't mentioned it yet, but he seems to be displaced as well."

"From what volume originally? Through some time, like I was, or from his home?"

"Well, time. He kept on staring at the parts on my tank. Seemed familiar with them, so he wasn't shoved too far in the time stream. But I can tell that much." She bites her lip a bit she hesitates, lost too much in thought to really choose anything to use. "Granted, my sister's creations are far beyond mine in sophistication. So, it would be without question that he would be far more perplexed by them, even so."

"…So, you are the one who created all of these things?" Shaking her head, you can't help to glance at them, somewhat in disbelief. "I have trouble believing that to be the case. How could you even lift all of these things? Or have enough money to afford to purchase steel this size?" You pause momentarily as you glance around curiously. "I would not be surprised at this point if I discovered a foundry in the middle of this cavern."

"Nothing of the sort. It’s rather easy to find iron and steel going cheap. …Raw iron, not quite as much." She shakes her head before glancing away. "Although, sister was the one who earned all the money when we were on our own. Nobody wants the things that I'm building."

She shakes her head once more. "Well, it's not something quite that complicated. I can tell you real quickly before—" You hear a small click in the background, and Rika trails off before stiffening. "Oh dear, sister has gotten out again. I need to, oh dear, do I have enough put away…" Rika frets for a few seconds, dancing about in place as she thinks. "Wait here, real quick. You probably shouldn't come. I don't want her to be bothered by anything. Now, if you'll excuse me…" The girl wearing pants drops everything and dashed out between the large contraptions."

You just shake your head as you cross your arms. "At this rate I'm going to believe that I'm cursed. Is everything going to fall apart when I show up?"

[ ] Chase after her. You really want to know what's going on.
[ ] Keep your distance and observe. You did it plenty of times when young.
[ ] Wait here. There has to be a good reason.

Alright, hiatus has gone on long enough. Let's get this story rolling again.
No. 175705
[ ] Keep your distance and observe. You did it plenty of times when young.

Jeeze what kind of life did this child lead to have well practiced eavesdropping and lock-picking.
No. 175707
[x] Keep your distance and observe. You did it plenty of times when young.
No. 175732
[X] Keep your distance and observe. You did it plenty of times when young.


>>175705
She did associate a lot with a young man of questionable moral fibre.
No. 175754
[X] Wait here. There has to be a good reason.

It might be beneficial to err on the side of caution under these circumstances rather than ignore Rika's suggestion and possibly screw up the situation. True, we may miss out on finding out what Rika's sister is like, but we ought to remember what Luminous likes to do when we simply take the initiative without considering any potential outcomes. From what I understand, the author would only lightly penalize calculated risks when we have little idea what will happen next, but when we're in a blatantly dangerous position like this one... well, I personally would be surprised if we get off that easily.
No. 175756
[X] Wait here. There has to be a good reason.
No. 175765
[ x] Wait here. There has to be a good reason.

Erring on the side of caution, this time.

Also no worries on the haitus, stories have started back from longer.
No. 175774
[x] Wait here. There has to be a good reason.

Huzzah! It lives!
No. 175785
[X] Keep your distance and observe. You did it plenty of times when young.

I agree that this seems like something she might do in such a situation. Besides, it's a chance to see Rika's sister!
No. 175877
[-v-] Wait here. There has to be a good reason.

------------

No matter whether you are cursed or not, you are not going to follow after the girl. There is some reason for her disturbed demeanor. So, instead of venturing after her, you merely fold your hands and wait patiently. There is no chair to sit and wait upon, unfortunately. You'll just have to make do with standing.

After a minute ticks by, during which you idly examine the contraption that the girl was working on, you hear a muffled voice echo through the cavern.

"…get out this… Come on… sister, let's go back in…"

You frown and turn towards the source of the sound as you subconsciously tread towards the nearest cover. It's been years, but your footsteps fade away into nothing as if you were slinking through the streets with him once more. "Stop that. I've got… something else to worry about now."

It takes some effort to keep yourself from going after them, but you remain where you are, far away from all the commotion. Seconds tick by, and you hear a furious whispering far out in the distance. Your ears strain to hear what they are saying. Unfortunately, they do rise once more, shattering the silence with the din of two ornery geese.

"What is all this here? These things… you say I made those, Rika? That's not possible. There's no way that these mechanisms could even work."

"That's because you don't remember, sister. You've been… You've been sick. Please, just come with me and we can put you back in your room."

"I feel perfectly fine. No part of my body is hampered, although my scalp is rather cold. I am not fatigued. The only thing that is wrong is the notion that I was involved in the construction of these abominations."

You hear feet shuffle, and the unfamiliar girl gives a small shout. "Please, Rikako. Just calm on down. At least do it for me. Just let me back in that room…"

After a few more shuffles, you hear what sounds like a low growl. "Why are you locking me away? I'm fine. You're not attempting to protect yourself from anything that may be wrong…" The silence hangs on for a few seconds, and what small breeze might have blown in this cavern stills in the thick quiet. "There is something you wish to hide from me. What have you done that you are so ashamed of Rika? Let me through! I'm… I'll figure it out. Let… Let go of me!"

Flesh smacks flesh, and you through the scuffle of meaty swats you hear Rika's voice rise. "Please, sister, just come back with me. I'll take care of you. Just let me take care of you."

"I'm the one that takes care of you, Rika. You're still so young… Who will do it if not me? Who…" All you hear is your breath as the sisters stop speaking once more. You're still quite tempted to find your way through this maze of machinery and make sure Rika's alright. Something in her panicked voice is really worrying you. "…I remember now. It was that self-described witch, wasn't it?"

"Rikako, please, that doesn't matter—"

"Of course it matters! Consorting with such riffraff… You know that there is no such thing as magic! Why do you allow them to fill your heads with such nonsense?"

"Sister, quiet down, please. You're getting excit—"

"I'm not excited, I'm angry! Why are you allowing them to… Oh, I see. You've been infected. I'm not the one sick! Or maybe I am. But you are the one sick as well!" Yelping echoes across the hall, followed by high, tinny laughter. "I'll help you, sister! Trust me. I've always taken care of you."

Rika yelps once more as her voices starts to gurgle. "S-sis. P-p-eas…" Whatever else she is saying is drowned out as she starts to noisily gasp for air.

Before you realize it, your body is running forward towards the source of the commotion. You barely even feel your arms moving for the first few seconds as your feet carry you across the floor like a woman possessed. You don't even stop to consider it as you consciously head towards the echoing gargles. There's little time to consider leaving and hiding. It's not like there's anyone left alive to bail you out of bad situations anymore. No one left to get Dolly for you.

"Not now… this isn't the time…" While a fire was lit beneath you, your mind is still clouded as you wander through the corridors. Rika begins to quiet the longer she chokes, and you hear once last cry as you round another massive piece of machinery. A body slumps onto the rock as you turn the corner, and you begin to slow down, trying to quiet your steps.

Finally, you reach the far wall of the cave, and you find the two girls after quickly looking about. Rika is standing upright, panting as she stares down at an immobile form below her. She doesn't move as you walk towards her, and her breath hitches as she tries to reclaim it.

Impaled in the body below her is a small glass tube of some sort, which stands proudly on its naked stomach. You try to ignore the blush that threatens your ears before it is washed away by the sight of the straight jacket that the woman had managed to wrangle out of. "Is this… What—"

"No. Just… Be quiet. Please." Silently, the girl removes the small vial, revealing a long, thick needle. Wordlessly, she tosses it to the side and grabs the girl, slowly pulling her arms back across her chest and tying down every strap that dangles from the dirtied coat. Once done, she caresses the bald head for a moment before grabbing her feet and begins to drag, doing her best to pull the larger woman back past where you had emerged.

Without asking if she needs help, you reach down and grab the mad girl's shoulders and attempt to pick her up. You've not a gurney to use, but the girl is so light and frail that it doesn't take much to pick her up once both you and Rika work to do so.

She looks up and shoots a look that may have been a smile, but is too hard to tell either way. As you carry her sister's body to an open door down the hall, you notice that her neck is bright red, and there are still a few indentions on both of the sides. While you are sorely tempted to ask, you bid patient and continue to carry her in.

Once inside, your eyes focus on the bed in the center of the room, one that has even more straps fastened to the sides. A few more thoughts come to mind before you quash them. Still remaining silent, you help her onto the bed and let Rika fasten her to the slab of a bed.

The room itself is mostly featureless, although there is a small workbench with plenty of tools. Of those lying out, one in particular looks like it could have been used to pick the lock. A cursory glance at the door reveals that there is no way she could have opened it from the inside. There are a few mementos sitting on the desk as well, including a few pictures, along with a small golden cage.

While questions abound, you can wait for Rika to finish strapping her sister onto the bed before spouting off about them. As she steps away, Rika starts to shake a bit as she heads towards the door. You wait for her outside of the door as she closes the multitude of locks that line the edge, finally ending with the doorknob itself. "…I can't do this."

Gently, you set a hand on her shoulder. The girl sniffs a bit, and her voice grows wet and thick. "I can't keep doing this. That… That's not my sister. Not when she gets… What can I do?" Although you shush the young girl as she visibly shakes in place and sobs, you can do nothing to stall the onslaught of tears. "I can’t keep taking care of her… What if they make me leave? What if they make us leave? I'd have to commit her… I can't… I'd have to take care of her. But who'd take care of me…?"

The child starts to bawl once more, and you step forward and hold her tightly. Whatever you needed from her, it can wait a bit longer. Long enough to make her feel better, at least.

------------

The past few days since Meiling had encountered the new arrivals had been fraught with attention from Sakuya, as she sought to have Meiling accompany her all of the time. The disturbing girl never desired much from Meiling, yet she seemed determined to be in her presence as much as possible. Fortunately, they had been restrained to chance meetings in the library as Meiling searched for something that could help her get out of there and the common requests to join her for meals.

One blessing she maintained was that Sakuya had never asked her back to that room once more.

Still, in the moments she had free, Meiling did venture forth and explore the library. Patchouli did not seem to mind much, as long as she stayed out of the way and did not intrude upon the doors to the captives. While tempted to check and see what the others were like, Meiling tamped down the curiosity and continued to soldier on with her other efforts.

However, all that she found in the depository seemed to be trophies or books too old for her to read. The majority of the books were in a language she couldn't understand. One in particular managed to give her a horrible headache that nearly knocked her out.

In the times she ventured out of the borrowed bedroom and the attached depository, Remilia had shown up to ensure she did not venture too far out of the way. While not as annoyed as she had been, the winged girl was constantly curt, and Meiling could not tell whether she was hiding something from her or if Sakuya had forbidden access to a few areas.

Ever since that first day, though, she had not seen either of the blonde girls, be it the maid or the one tortured terribly. Closing yet another worthless book detailing the lives of someone dead centuries, Meiling eyes the door at the end of the depository. "Should I…?"

[ ] What should she do?

------------

Started writing before the last vote. Erred on the side that didn't leave Margaret injured.
No. 175889
[X] Go talk to Patchouli. Maybe you can learn more about her test subjects or what she knows about magic.

I was worried that going along with Rika's request would lead to another Mystia incident (I'm surprised nobody mentioned what could've happened), but even though I have a feeling we missed something, the end result was fairly satisfactory.

As for the current vote option, I was thinking that we have at least two practical options to take. Asking Patchouli how her research is going is one, while talking to her about the nature of magic and supernatural creatures like Sakuya and Remilia is technically another. I thought about having Meiling ask for training... but I'm not sure just exactly what should she train for.

Right now, Meiling knows next to nothing about her situation other than the fact that 1. She's the latest 'guest of honor' of Sakuya, 2. All of her predecessors have experienced a miserable fate, 3. Patchouli is keeping secrets from Meiling in an attempt to keep her mind unsullied, 4. Everybody in the SDM can kill Meiling on a whim, and 5. She has virtually nothing to lose by trying to find out more about the situation, since it is heavily implied that Meiling is going to die in some horrible manner soon.

tl;dr conclusion: We need to get more actionable information more about our situation, and since it's clear Meiling is on the fantastical equivalent of death row, she might as well talk to the one person who appears to know what is going on in this crapsack world.
No. 175897
>>175889 Going along with this.
Eapecially since we've already seen Meiling get bad-ended.
No. 175913
[X] Go talk to Patchouli. Maybe you can learn more about her test subjects or what she knows about magic.

I agree that it would be best to avoid another bad ending, although I do have to wonder if the last of the prisoners would even pose a threat. Not all prisoners are the same. After all, do remember that the first one we checked on didn't bad end us.
No. 175915
>>175913

Rumia has been experimented on to the point that she is virtually crippled in the fullest extent of the word, and we have to also consider that she was restrained by materials Patchouli was certain would prevent her from harming anybody else, barring the fact that some fool might place their body parts into her mouth.

A certain changeling once said not to make presumptions, and it is true that I could be blatantly wrong, and Rumia is actually a sweet-hearted Fae/changeling who just wants a decent meal in the form of a cow or a human. However, given the precedent we have to consider, bad ends tend to happen whenever we let down our guard around Fae, especially fae we had barely known on a personal level for less than an hour. The point of this spiel is that in the end, we can only afford to assume that anybody can turn on us in a heartbeat, and that we, our friends, or anybody whom we sympathize with can die at any given moment in the story. I'm not saying that my level of paranoia is the right way to approach this story; lack of trust and indecision can also lead to heart-wrenching events when our decisions end up killing people if we cannot do the right thing by ourselves. It should be our goal to save as many decent people as possible, and basing our decisions off of what could happen next, along with what we want to happen, will hopefully prevent the easily foreseeable deaths.

I just want to make this run better than No Such Thing as Fairytales. 2/4 in the form of Amsterdam and Tokiko is pretty miserable, but even though nobody has died yet, it'll be gut wrenching if we end up having more Mystias because of or in spite of our caution.
No. 176174
[-w-] Go talk to Patchouli. Maybe you can learn more about her test subjects or what she knows about magic.

------------

They'll be time to tempt fate and wander about the outside later. Perhaps Patchouli might be more useful than she has been recently. "She's not gotten mad at me yet, so at least I haven't ticked her off, yet. Or am I just lucky and she's good at controlling her temper?"

Whatever her reasons, maybe the pale woman would be more willing to volunteer answers to you now. That would be a welcome reprove from the constant anxious waiting that Meiling has had to go through. Heading back through the bookshelves, she approaches the workstation that Patchouli used in lieu of private quarters.

Fortunately, the search did not take long, and Meiling finds the woman sitting exactly where she had expected: her head deep in a book while one hand scribbles furiously upon a piece of paper. "What is it that you need, Meiling? There has not been any intrusion recently, even by the lady of this mansion. Is something disturbing you?"

Shaking her head, Meiling takes a seat opposite her. "Nothing in particular, truly… Well, nothing aside from the obvious." Frowning just a little bit, she looks about, idly wondering where the woman sleeps. There is no cot rolled out, nor even a single blanket, whether it be fluffy or flat. "I just had to speak to someone about getting out of here. There's no way out that I can see, and I've been looking for days now."

"There are ways out, but Lady Izayoi will hardly show you them without receiving something in return." Patchouli raises her head to look Meiling in the eye; the latter wonders if she always looked this tired. "And nothing will she take save for that you will not give, which brings us back to square one."

"Can you not teach me of a way out, then? You seem capable of quite a lot of magic." Snorting, Meiling shakes her head and looks down at the papers littering the table. "What can I do otherwise? I snapped that thing's arm, and it didn't even bother. If I can't do that to it, what could I do against her?"

Those weary eyes close as the aged woman lets out a heaving sigh. "I would hazard a guess that she is frailer than you would suspect. She has built up that aura on purpose, you know. She may be a poor facsimile of a noblewoman, but she attempts to copy them in all fashions. Such is the nature of the Youkai, after all." Patchouli shakes her head once more and turns back to her books. "As for teaching you, that would not be possible. Think of all that could happen if I were to do that."

Frowning, Meiling continues to look down as she thinks, ignoring the scribbling on the paper. "Well, if she knew why I was asking to learn… She wouldn't like that, I imagine."

"Quite. She does know you're trying to escape. Why wouldn't you?" She crosses her arms and puts them on the table before setting her head on her hands. "However, if you acted so blatantly, and attempt to copy me… Well, I believe I could think of numerous things. I might even be forced to spar against you at some point, just for her amusement." Seeing Meiling's wince, she nods. "Indeed. I wouldn't look forward to killing you."

A shiver goes down Meiling's spine, but she manages to force her head back up and look at Patchouli. "You… you wouldn't, would you?"

The woman sighs and closes her eyes. "No matter. You need to play to your strengths. She values that which is unique. She wouldn't stop you from exploring on your own, save for that which she still wishes to surprise you with."

"So any place that she allows me to go to will be full of surprises? It almost sounds like I'm just one small piece on her game board." Frowning, Meiling looks away, still trying to force down the remarks Patchouli had just made. "There are others in this mansion, maybe? More than the ones that I have met?"

"Almost certainly. She would never show her full hand, after all. You'd be lucky to even know if the deck she was playing with had suites you'd be familiar with, or something else. After all, with all the time on her hands, she could have another mansion inside this one that she is seeing to. That creature would not surprise me in the slightest with such actions." Patchouli shakes her head as she goes back to her work. "No matter what, though, be glad that she has not fully opened her arms. While the side of her that you see is most certainly fake, it is also most certainly the most human part. I'm not sure your mind would manage to remain whole if she bares all."

Meiling just nods as she stands up. "Well, I'm going to do something. I cannot simply wait on my haunches. And I can only practice so much…" She trails off as she looks down the rows once more. "If I find a way out. A sliver of hope, a plan, even some secret that she doesn't want out, will you help me?"

Patchouli turns her eyes up to Meiling, and she shakes her head as she puts the papers down once more. "Any secret you discover she intended, and any sliver of hope is planted so she can reap its terrible fruit. And I would be surprised if you could outthink her."

"That's not what I asked. Would you help me?" Meiling leans over the table towards the frail woman, looking down at her forehead. "You've helped me this whole time, and have probably kept me from sticking my foot in my mouth, but I need help here. If I did have a plan…" Meiling trails off as she watches the girl pointedly avoid her face. "Or would you go against me?"

"…I'm not a good person, Meiling. I do what I decide is best. …I thought you would have understood that by now."

"If you weren't good, you wouldn't have helped me. Would you?" Meiling shrugs as she turns around. "Or is everything you do only to help yourself?"

"I never said that." Patchouli looks up and stares Meiling in the eyes. A sudden weight falls on the taller girl's shoulders, and she is forced to back away from the solemn gaze. "Please, you must go on. If Lady Izayoi discerns that our arrangement has become unpleasant, she may arrange for you to move again. That alone might be to your detriment."

Having been forced a few feet from the table, Meiling glances down at the table and every which way, seeking out the runes that Patchouli had spoken of. "Didn't you say that this place was safe from her?"

The pale girl merely shakes her head before returning to work. "No place is, and safety is relative and depends on pleasing the host. Quarrel does not assuage her desires, but surprises might." At that, she goes back to her work, continuing to scribble runic script and sketches on the parchment.

[ ] Continue to talk to her. Try and convince her to help.
[ ] Go seek out a maid, if they do not answer a call.
[ ] Attempt to search this room for something. Perhaps the fifth search will not result in a splitting headache.
[ ] Talk to one of the subjects again. Maybe she can find an ally.
No. 176197
[x] Continue to talk to her.

Even if we can't fully convince her, maybe we can at least try to get a little more info?
No. 176207
[X] Continue to talk to her. Try and convince her to help.
No. 176209
[-x-] Continue to talk to her. Try and convince her to help.

------------

Still, there must be something more that she can tell Meiling. Timidly, she steps forward once more. "There must be something useful that you can tell me. Something that could be helpful. Is there not even a book you could point out to me?"

"What may help me would help me and me alone. Even knowledge is subjective in this realm. What may be a raging river to me would be a drop of rain to you." Patchouli fixes Meiling with her stare once more, and her lips fall into a frown. "That much I had hoped I had made obvious. I guarantee safety as much as I can, but you can do better by finding yourself within her graces. Must I reiterate those points?"

"You don't have to. I'm just searching for anything that could be concrete. I'm tired of running around in circles searching for answers."

Patchouli snorts and turns back to her work. "Then perhaps you should walk in a straight line, or take a turn other than left. You are not locked in a steeplechase. The obstacles are tougher, but the track is hardly round. And I can hardly give you some sort of weapon to easily allow your egress from this mansion. And if I could, where would you go? We are hardly in our realm."

The thought of pointing out the obvious, and telling Patchouli that she would either ask for help or figure it out as she gets there, certainly does cross her mind. Meiling does manage to hold her tongue. "…Perhaps you might give me some sort of instruction on what should I do, then? Who should I seek out? Is it safe to speak to the subjects?"

She eyes Meiling for a second before shaking her head. "…I inspected them all last an hour ago, and reapplied all their restraints. They are tenacious, and do tend to escape from time to time. However, you know how I feel about doing as such. Just be as careful in earshot of them as you would be around the Lady." At that, she lowers her head and continues to write. "Now, I need to finish this. I have been slacking off on experiments as of late. I had too many new things to document."

[ ] Continue to poke and prod her. Even literally.
[ ] Go seek out a maid, if they do not answer a call. (Specify who)
[ ] Attempt to search this room for something. Perhaps the fifth search will not result in a splitting headache.
[ ] Talk to one of the subjects again. Maybe she can find an ally. (Specify who)
[ ] Write-in
No. 176211
[X] Talk to one of the subjects again. Maybe she can find an ally.
-[X] The last remaining one.

Surely now is the optimal time to do as such; we have even been told that they should be restrained where as it was in question before. It may be now or never. Will we let this chance slip through our hands? An unknown could be a good thing. They could perhaps give us help in a way that another could not. Or maybe not. In the end, it's better to at least see what all options are while we have the chance.
No. 176215
I'm going with >>176211

Maybe it's because I'm crazy tired right now, but this seems like a good idea.
No. 176216
[X] Talk to one of the subjects again. Maybe she can find an ally.
-[X] The last remaining one.


>>176211
Sounds like a good enough plan to me.
No. 176234
[-y-] Talk to one of the subjects again. Maybe she can find an ally.
-[-y-] The last remaining one.

------------

Meiling turns about and heads to the side of her room, nearing the doors that she had not been to in days. Patchouli won't be any more help to her, at least at the moment. No matter what the subject may say, there isn't much hope that Meiling will find anything to have Patchouli change her mind and assist her directly.

It doesn't take long for Meiling to leave behind the miffed magician and find the doors on the side of the room once more. Curiously enough, they aren't in the same order as before. 19-D and 57-D are still next to each other, but a new one is placed between the two and 33-F. That one door is labeled 1-ED. The last door, left of the others, has 208-B on its placard. "I guess she finally got around to giving them numbers…"

The sight of it still rubs Meiling wrong, but she shoves it off as she approaches the second door, and one of the two left that she has not been two. Taking a deep breath, she reaches forward and opens the door. "Shouldn't she be putting locks on these?"

Darkness is all that she can see inside, just like all the others. "What I would give for a flashlight right here…" Frowning, she glances about and looks from the outside. "Gonna leave this open. Don't want to end up running into something else that is just wrong…" After propping the door open, she heads in, taking another look once she steps aside and lets the light case across the floor.

Now that her shadow isn't in the way of seeing, Meiling finally notices the pedestal in the middle of the floor. "This is familiar…" Carefully she heads forward as her eyes adjust to the light of the room, just as she had to do the last time. In the center of the room, and upon that same pedestal, is yet another form. Fortunately, it seems to be in better condition, even if she can see no skin on it at all.

"Who's there? I can hear you walking…" A low and thick warble seeps out of the darkness, and Meiling stops in her tracks as she stares at the shifting form. "I hear something'… Can't be that bitch. She likes to float way too. Damn head's probably full of hot air to do somethin' like that."

"It's just someone who wants to talk." Meiling holds her hands up as she takes a step forward, heading further into the darkness. "That was all…"

Dry laughter echoes out from the same place, and an unamused voice responds. "Of course it is. Let's see… are you another of that woman's guests that have been swindled to assist? I can barely tell now… You're tall enough. What are ya doing in here, bub? Is she taking another reading?"

Whoever, or whatever, is talking, it is certainly another female. Perhaps that other subject she hasn't seen is the male. "No, I'm not here for anything. Patchouli actually told me I shouldn't be in here?"

"Did she now? That alone is really odd for the bitch. Sure she isn't feeling under the weather? Are you her personal assistant, fetching her books and tea so she doesn't waste her precious little fingers doing anything else?" The person in the dark continues to chortle as she talks. "Wouldn't surprise me. Although, you sure you're not a guy? You're taller than skanks tend to be."

Meiling crosses her arms as she stares down the woman. "I didn't come in here to argue, or to take that sort of thing."

"Poor little baby. Do I need to need to use nice pretty language and dress it up in a nice pretty bow as well?" The woman snorts and jerks forward, sending red strands of hair to fly forward and shine in the light. "Too bad. If you're a girl, you're a big one now. Crybabies just die faster, although they are more amusing to watch."

"Will you stop that? I'm looking for someone to help. I need to get out of here, and I'm at a loss for what to do."

The woman snickers again as she settles down on the table, even as her shadowed face levels towards Meiling. "Well, the fastest way out of here, if you're a human, is to die. Although, that won't happen until the Youkai or the bitch want you to, trust me. They're probably watching you right now to make sure you don't get any ideas…"

"I don't want to do that! I want to get out of here and live! Are you so adverse to the idea?"

"Nah, I'm just not a naive idiot like you. I'm stuck in this sea of estrogen just like you, and I can't even take satisfaction for it. The damn Youkai that did this to me made sure of that. Course, at least he was better than the bitch."

Meiling just stares at the figure for a few seconds, almost wondering if she's spinning such a tale, or if she's actually telling the truth. "Would you be serious? I don't know what happened to you, but if there's anyway at all that you could help…"

"Sure. Turn that Youkai into a guy. Or the bitch. Then I could maybe do something. 'Sides, that's the only thing I can do now. At least I'm stronger than I used to be, even if I'm scrawny."

"…Fine, I'll ask. What are you supposed to be?"

The woman's grin is almost visible as the dim light reflects off white teeth. "Simple. I'm the Devil, missy. And you should know that I could have a good time with you, if you just let me out of this contraption…"

"…No." Meiling shakes her head once more as she watches her. "You're a little Devil if I've ever seen one. You are shorter than me. Besides, I've got other things to worry about now than one of the subjects trying to get me to do something like that."

The figure shrugs in the darkness, something Meiling can barely tell with her eyes. "Felt like trying. Figured that a tall freak like you would have a hard time. Most men hate being looked down on." She snickers a bit before grinning. "So, have you finished your talking yet? I'm not gonna help some lucky bitch like you, unless I know it’s worth my while. That'd only earn me a fate worse than death. It's so much harder to kill a Changeling than a human, after all. That bitch certainly knows it, too."

Meiling twitches and takes a step forward. "You are such a… I don't know how to say. Are you that determined to tick me off?"

"I piss everyone off. I have to find some way to amuse myself. Besides, if I have something that needs saying, you might as well say it to my face. Like you really mean it, you human freak."

[ ] She needs it, and she's restrained. Give her a piece of her mind.
[ ] There's better things that Meiling could be doing other than shouting down a strange woman.
-[ ] What else?
No. 176238
[x] She needs it, and she's restrained. Give her a piece of her mind.
She could use the entertainment, I bet.
No. 176244
>>176234
[x] (without anger) "Why are you so determined to turn pity into contempt?"
- [x] When she goes off at us, don't react. Just look sad.

If we must cut, let us cut well, and cleanly.
No. 176269
[x] (without anger) "Why are you so determined to turn pity into contempt?"
- [x] When she goes off at us, don't react. Just look sad.

Calling her out seems like it could work. She literally asked for it, after all.
No. 176293
[x] (without anger) "Why are you so determined to turn pity into contempt?"
- [x] When she goes off at us, don't react. Just look sad.

Why not see about some surgical strikes? We could really stab at the problem. Let's see just what this might do to her fragile mind.
No. 176318
[x] (without anger) "Why are you so determined to turn pity into contempt?"
- [x] When she goes off at us, don't react. Just look sad.


Sounds interesting. Let's do it.
No. 176424
[-z-] (without anger) "Why are you so determined to turn pity into contempt?"
-[-z-] When she goes off at us, don't react. Just look sad.

------------

"So, I'm a freak?" Shaking her head, Meiling closes her eyes and takes a deep breath in order to find her center of calm. "If that happens to be the case, what kind of human wouldn't be one? I can only see someone that has been hurt by others. I find that I feel sad, just as I have felt when I saw the others kept here. They are lost souls, and have been violated in ways that I can and cannot understand. Why are you attempting to turn empathy into hatred, and pity into contempt?"

The shadowed form in the room stares for a few moments, and you think you can see her puffing up in irritation. "Why would I want to be pitied? I ain't some broad off the street that just wants to be taken in. I am the strong one. I don't desire nor need any pity from you, especially someone who is still so naive. Are you so dumb as to feel sorry for any of those others out there? They are mad and murderous at best. The others are just rabid animals that need to be put down."

Meiling opens her eyes and takes a deep breath before looking at the dim form. "You've seen others, then? I had thought that you would be stuck in here. Patchouli doesn't seem like she would let you out of here."

"That bitch keeps me under lock and key. I'm much too dangerous, but I'm too interesting to put out of my misery as well. I had enough of being violated before that white-haired demon took me away, only to become some mad witch's experiment. I'm surprised she hasn't tried grafting old rotting limbs on me just to see if they'd work."

While trying to remain expressionless, Meiling can't help but to snicker a bit at the thought. "She seems much too meticulous to do such a thing. She may be hiding something, but she must have a reason for everything she does."

The figure snorts as it attempts to sit up, straining at the shackles in the process. "Oh, I bet. I don't know how many times she's intentionally triggered these thrice-damned abilities to see what I can do, or what I'm capable. All in the name of magic… All in the name of learning something new. Fucking bitch. Have you ever been cut open and watching as someone prods around in your guts?"

"I can't say that I have…"

"Count yourself lucky that you haven't been educated by that bitch. Hell, maybe she's getting you ready for such a thing. Might even wanna turn you into one of us. Have you thought about why she lets you come in here?"

Silence hangs in the air for one moment before Meiling crosses her arms, taking a deep breath as she replies. "She said that she doesn't want to make the decisions for me. It would be more dangerous for myself if she did."

"Really? Or does she actually want you to come in here?" The woman laughs a bit and leans further forward, and Meiling notices that white smile cutting through the dark. "Maybe she wants you to turn into Changeling. That would make her oh so happy, wouldn't it? Then she'd have yet another subject to experiment on. I wonder what you could do… And what you would be forced to do."

Pausing once more, Meiling glances to do as her mind whirls into action. "She wouldn't… That isn't what she would do. She has helped me too many times for her to simply force me into such a position."

"Would she, now? She keeps me locked up on a rack in the middle of this room. There isn't even any light for me to see with. What did I do to deserve this?"

"…Now you're trying to engender pity." Meiling stares back at the girl as the former's expression hardens. "Being quite the hypocrite, aren't you? Weren't you too good for the pity?"

"I'm not trying to make you pity me! I'm trying to make you realize what that bitch is going to do!" The girl snarls a bit as she slumps back, stewing as she can do little more but stare at Meiling. "Damn broad doesn't even realize good help when she hears it."

"Weren't you the one that said I wouldn't be getting any help from you?" Meiling takes a step forward, making sure to stay out of reach of any reaching hands. The form is still barely visible, with only the sheen of red hair noticeable even as she barely makes out the frown. "You certainly do live up to that name you gave to yourself. You're just trying to make me second-guess myself. What do I have to gain by going against Patchouli, save for making someone who is eternally unhappy a little satisfied?"

"You really are naive. Hrmpf. Guess I shouldn't have bothered." Snorting, the figure shrugs and looks down. "Might as well hurry onto your fate. Go ahead and walk on to that fate. You'll just die with that worthless belief."

"Again, you are trying to make me angry." Meiling shakes her head as she looks down at her. "It isn't going to work. I have to have control of myself for my job. You say nothing that he wouldn't."

The woman eyes Meiling closely as she starts to respond. "Really? A job that you won't have since you've been missing for who knows how long? Do they complain about you being overly optimistic? The world doesn't work that way, no matter how much you hope it does. Frankly, you're starting to sound like one of them chinks talking about all of your control of yourself and how you're not gonna be made angry."

"…What did you say?" Fists ball as Meiling automatically reacts to the slur. A second later, the woman grins, and Meiling knows she shouldn't have given her any ground. "Don't even think of saying it again."

"Too bad, already have, come again later." She snickers as she stares up. "Gotta know where to put the pressure. After all, you're lucky enough to be human. All that means is that you have weaknesses, and ones that I can find." The grin gets wider as she lays there, shaking in silent laughter. "So go on, ya slant-eyed freak. Go and tell me how you're so much better than me."

"I'm not going to bother with that. Fine. I'll leave you be. And you can rot here while Patchouli does whatever she wants with you." She stomps even closer, wanting to look the woman in the eyes. "You'll be left alone, and you'll have to deal with this all by yourself. I tried, but this is a waste of time."

Once Meiling is over the woman, and close enough to see her, the latter grins as she stares back with black, vacant eyes. "Good. I was hoping you'd get mad. Now I've got a bint right where I want her."

Barely a second later, the light goes out in the room, blinding Meiling where she stands. She jumps in place as it vanishes, and she starts to back away from the woman. Before she gets too far, something wraps around her wrist and tightens, pulling her back.

Without even thinking, Meiling yanks the hand back while grabbing on the offending protrusion. Whatever it is, it's not a hand, even if it is lukewarm. "Don't even think about it!" She gives the limb a hard yank to break any bones that would be in it.

"It's not going to be so easy! I've been waiting a long time. Gonna make you suffer like I have…" The woman's laugh echoes from a few feet in front of Meiling. The voice hasn't moved at all from where it had been previously, giving her a small margin of relief as she continues to pull on the limb. "Go ahead and struggle. You can't do anything, but it makes it more fun."

Meiling just grunts as she grabs the lukewarm arm and pulls on it some more, trying to get it to give. Failing that once more, she grits her teeth and twists it hard while jerking away. The woman screams in pain as Meiling feels flesh give, and she rips the rest of it out. "You think that I would just stand here and take it?"

"That's what I get for going easy on you. Always the annoying bitches…" Even as Meiling detaches the remnants of the arm, another lashes out. This time it is a hand grabs her by the wrist, firmly latching on and pulling her in. "I can make it hurt just as much. I'm stronger than you, you bint, even with these tiny muscles that were ruined."

[ ] Kick somewhere. If she is loose, use an option unhindered.
[ ] Punch. Rearrange that disturbing face.
[ ] Grapple. Turn the strength against her.
[ ] Call for Patchouli.
No. 176427
[X] Punch! Kick! It's all in the mind!


I think it's probably best to go for strikes and kicks in this situation.
If Koakuma is close enough to grab Meiling's wrist we know she's within range, and since she can't dodge around too much without letting go the attacks are easier to hit with too.
And unlike the Fetch, Koakuma has shown that she can feel pain. Meaning she can be incapacitated by a serious enough injury.

I think grappling could probably work in better circumstances, but Meiling is currently blind while we have to assume that Koakuma can see.
Trying to get close and grapple when you can't see the opponent's attacks coming is a bad idea. She can easily just grab Meiling and lock her down without much trouble.
Avoiding counter-grapples is about getting out of it before your opponent has actually caught you. Once you're held it's a lot more troublesome to escape.
And if you can't tell that the attack is coming until you feel the arm (or leg, or other, more exotic, limb) the time you have to react to it is so short that even when you have drilled your reflexes for it, you are likely to get caught anyway.
No. 176428
[X]If you wanna test me, I'm sure you'll find...

It's time to use THAT.
No. 176429
[x]That all the things I'll teach ya is sure to beat ya,

He sure doesn't sound like he's singing this but thems the lyrics
No. 176431
[X] Punch! Kick! It's all in the mind!
No. 176440
[x]Kick

Though there is the concern that this will just highlight another limb to be grabbed for the purposes of the narrative, I'm partial to something that strikes a wider area.

Then again, having a foot not on the ground might be terribad, since its been implied this girl has had numerous limb additions. If we have a hand and a foot grabbed, I'm not sure what Meiling can do.
No. 176442
>>176440

So basically what you're saying is; "kick to the limit, in order to get her?"
No. 176443
>>176442

I have never felt more ashamed of not having played that game. Especially since: yes, that does accurately portray the idea, we should kick but make an effort at not exceeding what we can recover from.
No. 176446
>>176443
That is the general idea for a proper kick, anyway.
Any attack that you can't recover from is a bad idea. That doesn't mean you have to hold back, though. Most attacks taught in martial arts are based on the idea that you want to hit your opponent with maximum force and minimum retaliation.
No. 176450
>>176446

Most opponents haven't implied a possibility of more than four limbs, while in the dark where the martial artist cant see them.
No. 176451
>>176450
wrong field, sorry for bumping.
No. 176457
Well, one vote is to kick, two votes to invoke memes, and two more that I'm not quite sure what they mean. So, I suppose I'll wait a little bit longer before taking finalizing the vote.
No. 176460
>>176457
Just for clarification. Being the one who wrote the first "Punch! Kick!" vote, I just meant it as punching and kicking rather than grappling and I explained my reasoning in the post.
You can count mine as a vote for "Kick" if you want.
No. 176465
>>176460
I understand what you mean. I was being a bit too sarcastic there; that was my bad. I'll do that and count them together, but I'll wait til tomorrow before calling, all the same.

I usually try not to use memes, especially using them straight. Subverting is more interesting. Just merely pointing out that the choices were not accidental.
No. 176467
>>176465

Meiling's gonna get her ass handed to her, isn't she?
No. 176470
>>176467

Its Luminous. If Meiling isn't about to get creamed, there is going to be some other point of soul crushing despair, like somehow shattering Koa's skull with our shin and then learning all the reasons we should have just put up with her shit.
No. 176472
>>176470
Heh.
No. 176476
>>176457

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eZcV1UuUzI
No. 176485
[X] Kick!! Take advantage of her immobility
No. 176491
I'll go ahead and count both.

[-a+1-] Kick somewhere. If she is loose, use an option unhindered.
[-a+1-] Punch. Rearrange that disturbing face.

------------

There isn't any point in responding. That much Meiling is certain of. The only thing that needs to be done is instructing the woman assaulting her of just how capable she is. Without waiting one more second, Meiling lashes out and grabs the hand holding her and squeezes.

Knuckles pop as the woman lets out of growl of pain. "Dammit, now… Just give up!" The grip on Meiling gets tighter for a few seconds, but it lightens after constant pressure on its fingers.

Yet another limb reaches out of the dark and makes an attempt to corral Meiling. Meiling gives one more twist before reaching for the limb and slapping it away before it can get a firm enough grip. She pauses for just a second as she pulls her right arm out of the woman's hand, gauging just what to attack next.

The decision is made, and Meiling lashes out as the woman gathers her wits. It takes a moment to find a leg in the darkness, but the woman remains trussed up on that platform. Meiling counts her fortunes under her breath before leaving herself vulnerable as she raises a leg. A limb grabs her arm once more, but it is not enough to stymie the blow already in progress.

The howl of pain echoes in the dark room as Meiling brings her foot down on the woman's kneecap. Bones crack at the force of the impact as tendons snap apart with a rifle's report, and the only thing saving the joint from hyperextending is the platform she is strapped to.

Without pausing for a second, Meiling reaches up and grabs the limb on her left arm and rips it off. This time she takes the time to remove the potential threat, and she twists this limb the same as the first.

"Bitch! Just… Just you wait. I'm gonna…" The woman spits out curses as she tries to fight through the pain. The darkness is broken only by the angry gleam in her eyes, which are focused upon Meiling. A snarl leaves her lips as she strains at her bonds, and Meiling hears stone cracking as she attempts to break them. A true hiss follows soon after, leaving lips washed with the filth of her tongue.

Through all the slurs and threats heading her way, Meiling makes her way closer once more. After all the noise, from so close, her ears are starting to ring, drowning out the infernal din of the so-called devil. The short reprieve granted to the woman ends as Meiling gropes for an arm in the darkness. After finding it, Meiling grabs hard and twists, dislocating it without further ado.

Meiling sees the woman howl in pain once more, but she does not hear the scream, nor does she hear the snap of one of the bonds. Out of the corner of her eye, she notices a blur of motion and whirs about to stop it. Claws flash as they lash gashes on her cheek, and for a moment the blood blinds her.

Compared to the pain that fake put her in, though, a few cuts on her face are not enough to stop her. Meiling grabs her arm with a vice-like grip of her own and dashes about, pulling the arm back to its original resting place. The woman flexes her arm and begins to pull it back. Meiling decides to commit fully to the attack, and grabs it with her other hand and yanks it against the stone, far past where it should bend.

Snap.

The arrival of two more limbs are not able to save two bones in that woman's arm from being broken in twain. Flush off her victory, she yanks the next two off of her arm before pulling them as well. However, the slippery limbs slide out of her grip, leaving her with those two lurking in the darkness.

As the ringing leaves her ears, though, Meiling notices that the girl's breathing has become ragged and short. She can't see it, but she knows that the chest is heaving as the woman tries to deal with all the pain inflicted in such a short time. While flush with success, it is not time to rest. She follows the arm back up and reaches for the head.

Curiously, she finds two more limbs strapped down, only one of which is attached to the body. Both have large membranes extending down, and the larger one has a claw on it that Meiling discovers, to her detriment. The woman lashes out with it the moment she feels Meiling's hand on yet another part of her body, and she manages to puncture her palm.

"What… what are you?" The girl barely manages to breathe out the question as she turns her head towards Meiling. The intense glare remains within those eyes, even as power slips through her fingers. It is a glare that is silently met by Meiling. During all this, Meiling feels for her head and finds that second limb once more. Without any hesitation, she pulls the head over by the fragile protrusion as she balls up a bloody hand.

Nothing is said as a quick jab is applied to the side of her head. Seeing that fails to do the job, one and then another soon follow, striking right below the earlobe. Finally, after those attempts, the girl's eyes close.

Meiling stands there for a second before pulling away, reaching for the arm and checking for tension. After a few tense seconds, she steps away, quickly backing up to get away from the woman. No matter how hard she strains her ears, she hears no movement. There is no shuffle of cloth and flesh against stone, nor the angry and aggrieved breath of a woman beaten down.

"…I got lucky there. She must be a brute. Went straight to grab on and subdue…" A thought flickers through her mind about what her intentions might have been, but Meiling chases them out as she turns to her right and heads to the wall that has the exit upon it. "Not that I was much better. Maybe I should have listened to her…"

Meiling bites her tongue as she feels along the wall with her left hand. The aching in her punctured right hand becomes more and more painful with each passing second while her face burns. Meiling just clenches her jaw and feels about for the wooden portal, and finds it and its handle a few seconds later.

Without waiting, she turns the knob and pulls it out. The light from the outside is harsh to her eyes, and she can't help but squint and wince in response. "So you decided to go see one anyways."

Meiling cranes her neck and looks down, seeing that Patchouli is, for once, standing in front of her instead of floating. "That was impressive, considering you beat up on a darkling chained to a tablet and at a range best desirable to you. However, you were in her element, so credit where it is due." Without waiting any longer, she shuffles backward to get out of Meiling's way.

A glow appears on the door's handle and it slams shut the moment Meiling is clear. She ignores the noise as she stares down at the diminutive girl. "I didn't expect you to come and help. Or wear you inspecting something for your documentation, and we just had a happy coincidence?"

Patchouli snorts as she rises into the air. "Amusing. At least you did not bother to toss out one-liners during your altercation. Still, I suppose sarcasm is a bit warranted." Her eyes shift to the side as she glances towards the door. "I grew concerned during your altercation. I became aware that he was taking aggressive actions. And I moved to intervene if necessary."

"…I thought you didn't want to help me." Meiling continues to judge the girl even as she floats higher. "Or was it you didn't want to assist me?"

"I do keep tabs on my subjects at all times. I tell you that warning as there are some things I would be unable to interfere with once events are set in motion. Then again, there are some that I could." Patchouli shrugs shortly, still looking at the door. "Events proceeded to end up in your favor, so I did not interfere."

"Even if you could call it that, why didn't you do something? Or was this… some sort of test?"

Patchouli snorts aloud as she puts a hand under the outer layer of her dress and begins to search about. "I did not ask you to go in any of the rooms. If anything, you desired to test yourself. Although, what was it that you needed to prove?" Before Meiling has the chance to respond, Patchouli pulls out a red ribbon from her dress and floats forward. "Be still, though. You are bleeding all over the floor."

"…Thanks?" Bemused, Meiling watches as Patchouli wraps the wound up. "I can clean it up and wrap it, although this wound won't heal on its own."

"I am sure that the lady of this mansion will intervene, sooner or later. However, considering her tendencies, along with the two vampires under her control along with a multitude of other man-eating creatures in this house… I'd rather not have blood sprayed everywhere in the process.

A firm tie and a wince later, Meiling looks at her injured hand. The crimson of the blood stains the bright red fabric, but fortunately all is absorbed. "Thanks…" She continues to watch as Patchouli's frail hand trails off before removing another, wider, piece of fabric. "But I'm going to need something. I'm missing a lot of… everything."

"You are fortunate that his thumb went between the bones." Patchouli hands a handkerchief to Meiling before wiping her hands off. That'll do for now. I'll go and acquire some more fabric along with a solution to clean out those hands. Be fortunate that he is ignorant of how to spread his affliction. Not that you accepted the curse."

"…Are you sure that he is a guy?" Meiling uses the proffered kerchief to wipe off her face. "That woman hardly looked it, and I was able to see enough right there…"

"He once was one, before he became as he is now. In his heart and mind, he still acts as he did. …Although I would hardly wish for anyone to become as that, his transformation had no small amount of irony." She snorts as she turns about. "He was hardly a good person; I will admit I took a little satisfaction in seeing him punished." At that, she floats off, heading towards her former room.

As she floats out, something clicks in Meiling's head. "Wait a sec… Patchouli!"

"I will be back soon. Don't go anywhere."

"But…" As she fades out of view, Meiling slumps a bit in place. "But… Didn't she say…"

[ ] Stay here. She'll be back soon. Hopefully with sewing equipment.
[ ] You're sure you've seen some fabric somewhere. Maybe there is something you can create a better makeshift bandage.
[ ] Surely Remilia can control herself. Isn't this the situation that maids were made for?
&
[ ] Keep the lengths of fabric once replaced.
[ ] Give them back to Patchouli.
No. 176498
[X] Stay here. She'll be back soon. Hopefully with sewing equipment.
[X] Give them back to Patchouli.


We should at least offer to give it back, it's the polite thing to do.

Also
>Surely Remilia can control herself.
Yes, let's go talk to a vampire in a pretty dark setting: "Excuse me, I seem to be bleeding everywhere. Do you mind helping me tend to my open wounds?"
Since the Youkai are basically Fae from Changeling the Lost, that would make Remilia and Flandre vampires from VtM (or at least nWoD). Vampires that can go feral when deprived of blood, and I wouldn't bet on them being so well fed that they wouldn't bite down on a snack someone is waving in front of their face.


Also, as a side note... Something I just thought of. If they are (equivalent to) vampires from the WoD setting, that would mean that in order to be true vampire sisters the would have to be of the same Clan. Of course they could have been born sisters and Embraced by different Kindred but here's an interesting theory that just popped into my head:
They're both Malkavian.
Yes, I know that Remilia seems more like a Ventrue, but here's the thing..
Malkavians aren't all "fishmalks" (lolsorandumb crazy), they're just all mentally deranged in some way.
Flandre is clearly psychotic, the very image of an obvious Malkavian, but Remilia on the other hand has megalomania/delusions of grandeur and possibly also narcissism.
Much more subtle, but still equally "Malked in the head".

Just a fun theory.
No. 176504
[X] Stay here. She'll be back soon. Hopefully with sewing equipment.
[X] Give them back to Patchouli.

Pretty much for the same reasons as the first guy. Specifically tracking down a vampire to help with out open bleeding wounds sounds like a Darwin Award in progress. Given we are in the 'home' of a very focused magic user and... scientist? I'm not confident any fabric we happen to come across either isn't some irreplaceable delicate piece of research, or some piece of research that will dig itself into our wounds and wrest control of our body till we hat dance to death.
No. 176511
[X] Stay here. She'll be back soon. Hopefully with sewing equipment.
[X] Give them back to Patchouli.
No. 176589
[-b+1-] Stay here. She'll be back soon. Hopefully with sewing equipment.
[-b+1-] Give them back to Patchouli.

------------

"…That woman confuses me." Meiling lets out a large sigh before heading for the nearest seat. There is no need to go searching about right now. It isn't like some bandage was kept as a battle trophy, and she isn't going to tear apart one of those tapestries to use as one instead. Meiling hardly knows what those are, and now isn't the time to be exploring.

Instead, she takes a seat and waits patiently, picking at her pained hand. "I don't think I can use sew this one up. And by the state of this place… I doubt she has degradable thread. This is going to hurt…" Biting her lip, she tries to ignore the ghost pains in her hand at the though of needles piercing her skin. "Not much more I can do than that, although I shouldn't be using this hand until it heals up…"

Granted, if she has to deal with a similar situation, she won't be that lucky. There's nothing else to do aside from dabbing her cheek with the bloodstained handkerchief while cradling her other hand. The red ribbon covering the larger wound has turned scarlet, and Meiling can feel blood trying to eek its way out. The kerchief soon finds itself holding back the hand's ichor as well.

Eventually, after waiting, Patchouli comes floating back towards the table while carrying a small bag. She turns a gimlet eye towards the one hand before shaking her head. "That wound would stop bleeding soon. The handkerchief will suffice for now." As she speaks, she drops the bag on the table before floating about to her. "Let me see it. I'll treat it."

"I can manage it by myself. I've had to fix wounds before…"

"I will get it." Patchouli brooks no argument as she takes Meiling's hand and begins to unwrap the ribbon. "You will have plenty more to deal with, not to mention the pain. Cleaning it alone is not going to be fun; all I have is alcohol for that."

While she winces at the though, Meiling just sighs and closes her eyes so Patchouli can continue with her work. "Fine… Not like I'm going to stop you. Is there a reason you're insisting on doing this?"

"Aside from the fact that it is easier, and I probably know more about a human's body? None in particular." Patchouli doesn't even flinch as she removes the ribbon and looks inside the wound. "I have to be aware of a human's body so that I can tell what is different in the other subjects I examine."

"It always seems to come back to that…" Meiling watches as Patchouli folds up the ribbon and hands it to her. "Why are you giving this back to me?"

"You should keep it. It is your blood, after all."

Meiling just shrugs her off. "I don't need it, though, do I? It's not like you're going to do anything unseemly with it. Are you?"

Patchouli blinks and looks her in the eyes. "…I sometimes do not understand why you have such an enduring trust in me. You know that options always remain open. I'll keep it safe from any other unscrupulous actors, though." At that, she takes the ribbon and sets it in the handkerchief before folding it up and placing them both within.

"Looking at it, you're lucky that an artery wasn't severed, much less a tendon or bone." Patchouli gives Meiling another look before she removes a clean towel and hands it to Meiling. "Here. You will need this to bite down on. This is going to hurt quite a bit."

"Right…" Meiling doesn't need anymore prompting before taking the proffered towel and putting it on the down. Once set, she closes her eyes and clenches her teeth, waiting for the ensuing torment.

------------

After thirty minutes of agonizing needlework, Meiling finally spits out the towel, which has nearly been shorn in three in the meantime. "Finally… I thought that would never end…"

"Be careful what you say. You wouldn't want others to hear such comments." Patchouli takes up the bloodied instruments and places them in the same bag, wiping her hands off with another towel as she speaks. "You should not go searching through the subject's rooms again, especially with a wound like that. You'll be begging the unscrupulous ones to try and consume you."

"Of course…" She hadn't been planning on doing so at the moment. "I'm not that dumb. Still, why couldn't you just use some sort of magic to heal? If you were insisting on doing it…"

She shakes her head before dropping everything dirty inside the bag. "Some things even I am not as skilled at. Do consider that my subjects have their own healing factor to account into equations. I simply have no need for them… And there are many other things to work on."

"What if you get injured?"

"If I am? I'll probably end up dying. Wounded animals are pounced upon by hungry, rabid beasts, after all." Patchouli shakes her head once more before freezing. "Someone has just entered. It isn't Sakuya; I can't hear her from here. It must be one of the maids." She turns her head sharply to the bag. "…I will need to dispose of this. They tend to be restrained even when they're hungry, but so much in the open will probably trigger the beasts."

Meiling glances at her bandaged hand as Patchouli floats up. "I guess I need to leave, then. Don't want to tempt them either."

Patchouli nods idly as she grabs the bag and floats up. "That would not be an unwise supposition. Head somewhere safe. Whomever it is, they won't follow into some rooms." Without any more explanation, Patchouli heads back the way she came, flying with a little bit more urgency than before.

[ ] Stay here for a bit. Meiling doesn't have open wounds visible.
[ ] Go back to your room. They can't come in, can they?
[ ] Head into a subject's room. No one would follow in.
[ ] Follow after Patchouli.
[ ] Search for Sakuya
[ ] Obligatory Write-in Option

------------

Don't forget the z vote. Not necessary to use now; just wanted to remind.
No. 176593
[x] Go back to your room. They can't come in, can they?

Exploring got Meiling hurt. It's time to take things easy for a while, while the wound heals.
No. 176600
Although our current situation demands that we find a safe spot from what appears to be a maid, we can't assume our next destination will be resident proof. I've decided that most of these 'choices' are actually bad end bait.

>Stay here for a bit
No need to explain the naivety in this choice.

>Go back to your room. They can't come in, can they?
>>173549 suggests otherwise.

>Head into a subject's room. No one would follow in.
Human goes in, nobody comes out...

>Follow after Patchouli.
The fact that she didn't tell us to follow her indicates that we would be a severe liability to her purposes at best, assuming that she even bothers to protect us. We need to fend for ourselves here.

>Search for Sakuya
She would probably consider our choice to ask a blood sucking vampire for protection amusingly idiotic before sucking Meiling dry, if we even manage to find her.

tl;dr- The choices Luminous gave us are probably Bad End bait. We do not have any idea what rooms are considered 'maid proof', and wandering around is probably going to end poorly when Meiling gets trapped and/or falls through the innumerable holes in the ground. I personally believe we should try to find the room with the wonders of the universe again; it's one of the few places that I am sure the likes of Remilia and Flandre can't enter. The only problem is, how can Meiling find that room? I'm reserving my vote until others do so.
No. 176604
>>176600

>She would probably consider our choice to ask a blood sucking vampire for protection amusingly idiotic before sucking Meiling dry, if we even manage to find her

I think you're getting Remilia and Sakuya confused with each other. Sakuya is our host, the Youkai. Remilia is the vampire (and the maid).
No. 176610
[x] Go back to your room. They can't come in, can they?
-[x] If one does come in, politely ask to be left alone.

This should be good protection...
No. 176613
I was sort of choosing between our room and finding Sakuya because the other options feel like lead-ins to BAD ENDS as >>176600 pointed out, but in the end...
[X] Go back to your room.


>Our room
Sure, Remilia entered our room earlier but she had a reason to. Normally vampires have this whole "cannot enter a home without permission" thing going on and we can at least hope that applies to our room and she was just given permission by Sakuya last time. And we're not openly bleeding at this point so she should be able to restrain herself long enough to back off and calm down if push comes to shove.
Flandre... Let's hope she's not coming to see us specifically, and is just wandering through.
Less chance of meeting her, because I'm not sure I'd like to trust her self-control. (Inb4 it's Flandre and she's looking for us because Luminous, like all authors, only derides sustenance from our delicious tears.)

>Finding Sakuya
We can't find her, she finds us.
Meiling is only here for her amusement and wouldn't it be terribly amusing to watch Meiling run around looking for her, with a hungry vampire (or two) in tow, like some sort of twisted Scooby Doo episode where the monster is actually real?
No. 176615
>>176613
Actually, they are quite delicious, although I wouldn't call them sustaining. Much better is the filling satisfaction of vindication topped with the sweet taste of victory. Despair is a garnish that makes the other flavors brighter and bolder.

...I think that metaphor has been mixed quite enough, though.
No. 176616
>>176615

Um... You're starting to sound like some kind of Youkai yourself there... Anything we should know?
No. 176619
>>176616

Well, that might explain why he's skilled at writing dark things. You can typically write what you know far easier than what you don't...
No. 176631
>>176619

Luminous is actually Rumia manifest in our world. You know what that means.

Half Life 3 confirmed.

[X] Find Sakuya

Heading back to the room sounds like the bore the host option, which sounds like a bad idea.
No. 176632
>>176631

We need a ribbon for him, I guess; there's no way he's sealed if he's talking like that.
No. 176634
>>176631
This really makes sense. Just look at their names.
Rumia = 'Lumia' in Engrish.
Lumia? Luminous?

Headcanon totally accepted.
No. 176635
A creature of the darkness and ruled by everlasting hunger? One that hunts the unsuspecting, feasting on their bodies as they flee through an unending darkness created by its hands? If such thoughts make you feel better when you sleep at night, then go ahead and believe them.

Hiding is much better done in plain sight instead of clouded in shadows or surrounded by a sheen of light. Why should I bother to maintain a distance and take on a visage when I can smile right to your face and you still are afraid?

A manic devotion to so quaint a notion
does me no favors in entertaining my neighbors.
Just stay for a while and don't fail to smile
as I put on a show; don't think me a foe.
I do mean the best so just take a rest;
please don't run away, stay around so I can play.
I'm sure that such methods, although loud and abrasive,
will teach you the maddening beauty of notes oh so brown.

And if perform to my optimum potential you'll never see my hand as manic madness steals your mind as you cower from the benevolent if frightful instead of the quaint and delightful.

Never trust a poltergeist.
No. 176637
>>176635

This is getting very interesting...
No. 176640
>>176634

I believe it is actually taking refuge in audacious irony. What better title for a youkai of darkness than an adjective describing the light production levels of an object?

Negative Luminosity could still mathematically be expressed in lumens. We best take care.

'ere, the OP's grow hungry. Their slavering fangs glint in the dark.
No. 176670
[-c+1-] Go back to your room. They can't come in, can they?

------------

There's nothing that Meiling can do aside from seeking safety herself. There's no indication, as always, as to where the host's room could possibly be, and any route out of the library would lead towards the entrance, no matter what. She shakes her head and quickly marches her way to her room, knowing that safety would be best sought there and nowhere else.

"I hope Patchouli knows what she's doing… Or is she putting me through a test?" The traitorous thought stalls her part of the way towards her target, but she doesn't let it take root yet. "Worry about it later… Where is the entrance to that room?" There's no reason that she should be worried, but Meiling can't help as her feet jerk forward just a little bit faster as a dozen other worries creep into her mind.

Fortunately, if certainly unsurprisingly, the door remains just where it was when Meiling left it earlier this morning. As she grabs onto it and opens up, the air grows just a bit heavier. While she looks back to see if anyone is there, no one can be found. Meiling shrugs it off and heads inside, locking the door once within the confines of the room.

Wordlessly, she locks the door and trundles back toward the bed, staring at the entrance carefully as she does. "I wish that swung in… Maybe I could barricade it then." Even as she speaks to herself, she finds herself looking about for anything that could be used to tie the door down or otherwise wedge it.

"Does it matter? If they are as strong as I think they are…" Meiling sighs and sits down on the edge of the bed even as she tries to quell her beating heart. I shouldn't be so afraid. I've met both of them. Remilia was loud, but she wouldn't try to hurt me… At least now. The other one…" Meiling's lips thin as she remembers the last time she met the blonde maid. "Right. That didn't go well. And I was injured the last time, too."

Without warning, the doorbell shakes as someone tries to turn it. It continues to shake for a few seconds before becoming still, and a fevered knock hits the door. As the door shakes, a breathy voice softly sounds over it. "Hong… Miss Hong… I know you're here… Will you open up for me?"

Meiling's eyes widen as she recognizes the voice. Her fears are easily confirmed as she stands and watches the door. "Flandre… Why do you want in here?"

"There is something you have that I need. Need so badly. Won't hurt at all if you just let me have a little bit. A little sip, a little tick in a little pinky finger…" She knocks once more before it stills. "You can trust me on that one, Miss Hong. You know you can."

"I… I'm afraid I can't do that." Meiling balls her hands a bit before exhaling and taking a step closer, turning to minimize her profile as she does. "I trust Patchouli more than you, and I have a feeling you'll hurt me."

"You're already hurt. Dying inside, a little bit by a little bit. Can't do nothing, can't do anything. What's a little more on top of that, if it even happens?" The handle rattles again as someone leans on the door. "Every moment hurts for me… More now. More to remember. Remember what she did for so long. Can't I have… a little to make it hurt less?"

Meiling stares at a door for a moment as her stance falters just a little. She ends up with a staring contest with the door, debating whether she should. A little sob story is not going to be enough, though. "I'm sorry, but I don't want to end up worse than I am now. I still have my mind. I don't want to lose it or my life…"

"The Beast knew you'd say that. And I am ready to take it."

Once more the door shakes, but this time more violently. The hinges visibly rattle as the frame begins to bend from the force being placed upon it. Having nowhere else to go, Meiling attempts once more to calm herself in face of the danger that will soon be walking through the door.

A few seconds later the handle shatters and is ripped out of the door. A small, clawed hand reaches forward and pulls it back. It wobbles as it slides back, and the blonde form of the maid is revealed. She snarls a bit as deep cesspools called eyes meet Meiling's. A second later and she is charging straight at Meiling, moving very quickly on the stubby legs.

Without even thinking, Meiling strikes quickly, aiming a palm at the girl's chest. The impact knocks the girl back a few feet, but Flandre manages to stay on her feet. At the same time Meiling pulls her arm back to her chest at the sheer pain even that strike sent up her arm. "What are you? You felt like a damn brick wall!"

She just grins and runs forward once more, barely even fazed by the attack. "I am thirsty!" Another attempt to bum rush Meiling ends with the same result, but Meiling is now cradling both of her arms against her chest. Flandre stares up at the girl one more time before dashing forward again. This time she raises a hand as she leaps toward Meiling's face, preparing to slash at her as she attacks.

The raised palm meets Flandre's own face, knocking the vampire down to the ground with her own force. Meiling can only stare as the vampire sprawls onto the floor and begins to mutter. "Damned beast. What does that gain? Nothing gain, nothing kept, only spending not even a rain check. Stop it. We are better."

"No we are not. We are worse. We hear each other, feel each other, know each other smell each other." Flandre tilts her head back and laughs out loud, and Meiling swears that the paper on the walls peels back from the shrill cackle. "Monster, mad monster. You remember, don't you Flandre? You remember now, Oracle crazed by her blood."

"We remember… but we don't… What use? Kill and we hurt, eat and we hurt, do nothing we hurt. We kill and we eat… do nothing." Her head snaps back down as her wings quiver gently on her back. "Do nothing. Best of ways. Try it Flandre."

Flandre snorts loudly and pounds the ground. "Deny deny no no no is all we hear. Mad, but we know we are mad. You deny you are what you are? Filthy sack of rotted flesh! That brain has turned to ushy mush!"

"Shut… Please shut. Up up up. Want silence, please. Let Flandre her just Flandre, and not Flandres." She sniffs for a few seconds before letting out a scream that is loud enough to extinguish the ever-present light in the room.

Meiling can only stand there and stare as the girl continues to wrestle with herself. Nervously she backs up towards the door, wanting to get near the exit in case Flandre tries to attack again. If the girl can hear Meiling moving around, she doesn't show it as she continues to writhe on the ground.

Before Meiling can leave, though, Flandre's head shoots up and she looks straight at the taller woman. "Please… Could you… Would you give me… A little? Poured in a cup or a dish or even on the floor would eat the wood just to have please. I need something."

"Which one of you is it speaking, then?" Meiling watches her eyes, remembering what happened the first time she was attacked. They are still wide and shaking even as they dart around. "You've attacked me twice… You may need something, but you keep on trying to hurt me, no matter what you say…"

"Flandres know. You shouldn't trust her. Me. Us all of us not at all. But we need a bit… Not much just a sip. If you say no… Flandre will run away so Flandre can't come back and hurt before others who stop Flandre are back." The maid stares up with pleading eyes, and they shine and shake as Meiling levels her own steady glance in return.

[ ] She'll keep on chasing her. Go ahead.
[ ] Make sure that Flandre is the one who does it. Not Flandre, or Flandre, or Flandre.
[ ] Don't bother giving any to her. Send her away.
[ ] Leave yourself and just run until you find someone. Hopefully Sakuya.
No. 176671
[x] Make sure that Flandre is the one who does it. Not Flandre, or Flandre, or Flandre. Not the beast
[x] Have her promise it's who she says and only a sip.
[x] Have her turn away and put a some in a container.

I don't know if it's the right decision, but I don't want to just send her away. I don't think we should just give in though, I remember what happened last time, but I also feel that if there was some way we could help Flandre, not only could she be a powerful ally, but it could help with Remilia. It is dangerous though because of how unstable she is, but I feel like sympathy is one of Meiling's strengths. Patchouli said to play to our strengths...
The last one is assuming there's some sort of container or rag we could use for the blood in the room.
No. 176674
[x] Have her turn away and put a some in a container.

>>176671
If we need a rag, there are lots of things to use.
Worst case scenario we can tear a bit of bedsheet or something.

I'm really torn about what to do, though. It feels like a catch 22. Showing a vampire that you're willing to part with some blood is generally a bad idea, but she's also clearly going more insane than usual and there's a risk that she'll actually go berserk and attack us if we leave her.
Ah fuck it. Let's hope her Humanity is still high enough.
No. 176676
A nitpick - Hong is her family name, not her given name. Untranslated, Chinese (and Japanese) are family name-given name (Hong Meiling, Hakurei Reimu), but only Japanese has the quirk that when translated, name order is reversed (Hong Meiling, Reimu Hakurei).

Anyways, looks like I was wrong about her room being even halfway safe. Although given the story tone, anywhere else would have had a dangerous encounter too. It probably amounted to picking who the encounter is. There is something to be said for not actively jumping into danger, however.

I'm thinking something in the vein of
[x] Call for Remilia, maybe she can help restrain or calm Flandre down.


Because I'm thinking giving Flandre blood sounds like a really, really bad idea. Even if through an intermediary container is a tiny bit less bad - even if she doesn't see it, she'd still smell it - would she even be able to restrain herself in front of fresh blood?

It's a gigantic gamble - maybe giving blood would make Flandre an ally or even just satisfy her enough she goes away. However, given her shaky self-control, I think it much more likely that doing so would move Meiling from the 'prey' category, to 'food', with Meiling getting drained dry.
No. 176682
>>176676
To be fair, you determined how long until the encounter was made; only 2 options would have Meiling not encountering her. One was a guaranteed bad end, and another could have been one. Think of which Flandre you might have met if you hadn't retreated and bought more time.

It always comes down to time, doesn't it?
No. 176684
[x] Make sure that Flandre is the one who does it. Not Flandre, or Flandre, or Flandre. Not the beast
[x] Have her promise it's who she says and only a sip.
[x] Have her turn away and put a some in a container.

Not sure what to do here, but this seems like the safest bet.

Also, it's a lot harder to figure out what to do when we're dealing with someone who can't form a coherent sentence, and has split personalities with the same exact name as her.
No. 176693
This is the part where we find out this is one of those settings where freely given blood can be used to exert limited control over a person or track them over any distance or boundary. Either that or we find out the blood didn't go to Flandre, Flandre, or the beast, but instead it went to Flandre, who now has a yandere crush.
No. 176698
>>176693

And knowing the author, it'd probably be the former with some really bad twist to make our lives miserable.
No. 176730
[-d+1-] Make sure that Flandre is the one who does it. Not Flandre, Flandre, or Flandre. Not the beast.
[-d+1-] Have her promise it's who she says and only a sip.
[-d+1-] Have her turn away and put some in a container.

------------

"I'll let you have a little, but there are going to be a few conditions before I even unwrap my wound." Flandre's face actually brightens at Meiling's words, no matter how cautious and tepid they are. "First, I need to make sure that it's you who is going to drink my blood. Will you at least promise me that?"

"Flandre… That is who, you mean? Flandre won't come out for now… Flandre thinks so." The girl's eyes cast themselves, and they gain a red sheen to them as she shakes. "No… Not able to promise. Want to promise, but Flandre and Flandre wouldn't want to. They break promise to bits. Smaller than mind so many pieces why won't they stay… Stay…" She takes a deep breath as a tear rolls down her cheek. "Why do this? Was happy and m-mad before. So cruel both time and blood… Stole…"

Meiling tries to resist the urge to step forward and console the girl. Even if Flandre is crying red rivers down her cheeks, she can't afford to be sympathetic. "Well, you were talking about them. What about that beast in your mind? The one you keep muttering about?"

She sniffles again and looks up at Meiling, hugging herself as she does. "It… It is just hungry. It is louder when others… Flandre and Flandre. Not as loud, not so loud quiet with me. Flandre can ignore it though."

"Err… Thanks. I think I got it." It's the best explanation she is going to get from the vampire; considering her state, Meiling decides not to press for answers. "Now, take a few steps away. I need to find something to put the… blood in. I'm sure there is a cup around here somewhere."

Before she can turn around and look, Flandre speaks up. "Be quick… Be quick if you do. Need to feed, but can wait. Feed that way, and too slow, and water it would be like. Nothing vital no essence no meaning to feeding. Must drink… but drink quickly."

"Well, let me find something first. Then I'll try to be quick." Meiling sighs in relief as she steps away from the girl, although she does her best not to let the blonde see it. "Now where are the cups around here…" Considering who used the bedroom before her, she figures that there must be something useful around her.

Still, most of the shelves are bare, devoid of any object of use. A few decorations remain scattered, but few of Patchouli's scant possessions seem to be here. "Maybe she put them somewhere else. I could have sworn…" Grumbling, she ignores the line of thought and instead delves through a few more drawers. Soon enough, she finds an old tray. The dainty design belongs with that of a tea set, but any glasses or pots are long gone.

Somewhat worryingly, the only thing out of place is how dusty it seems to be.

"That will work, well enough well enough. Would eat a piece of cloth, if had to…" Flandre hops a bit closer, leaping from foot to foot in her anticipation. "Quickly, very quickly, Flandre… Flandre needs some. Not Flandre. Flandre isn't going to drink anything… Maybe Flandre won't be able to keep Flandre from coming out."

"Please calm down… You'll just end up confusing me if you keep speaking so much." Meiling backs up again and places the tray on the table. Somewhat reluctantly, she removes the bandage from her hand. "Can't believe I'm doing this… You know how weird this is?"

"…Not so weird. Merely more direct. Lots eat human blood. Lots eat those that eat human blood. Humans eat those who eat those who eat human blood… But no one eats us. Good. Repugnant toxic deadly cursed blood all we have full of life fuller of death filled with terrible ramifications to those who even sniff smell see hear touch taste…"

Meiling blocks out the mad girl as she holds her hand above the tray. The wound is still ugly, and is sewn together quite crudely. The only thing that could be said is that she cannot see through all the way to the other side. Shaking her head, Meiling reaches up and begins to squeeze her hand, forcing blood out of the once-gushing wound.

"…No matter stop it cursed just shut up shut up up please shut—" Flandre becomes stiff as a board as the first drop falls from Meiling's hands into the tray. The air grows heavy again and Meiling starts to sweat from the sheer pressure of Flandre's stare.

Meiling mutters under her breath as she tries to eek out just a few more drops. "C'mon don't jump me don't jump me just wait and keep your promise…" Still, she can't get more than a small puddle on the platter before the blood begins to slow. "That's all I can get… Just go ahead and drink. From the tray. Just the tray." At that, she backs up and moves away from the platter, wrapping her hand once more in a bandage.

It doesn't take long at all before Flandre leaps where Meiling had stood just seconds before. She raises the tray up to her lips before turning it up, attempting to suck every drop down. Meiling looks away as the vampire drinks off the tray, as that is a sight she does not wish to see at all.

The cracking of china soon follows frenzied sucking, and Flandre eventually casts the platter to the floor. One side has been bitten off, and it seems to have been split in two in her eagerness. All that Meiling can hear is the crunching of the china as Flandre finishes chewing it up and swallowing. She remains standing there for a few seconds, her back towards Meiling as the other watches on from as far as she can be.

Meiling is afraid to say anything that might rile her. Thirty seconds after she finishes, Flandre raises an arm to wipe her mouth off before turning to look up at Meiling. She looks the same as before, save for two eyes which are wide and wrong.

"Thank you, Miss Hong…"

"You're… welcome?" Meiling gulps as she stares back, transfixed. "Are you done and happy?" At her silence, Meiling tries to fall back and prepare to fight once more, even though she knows it would be futile. "Do you want more, Flandre?"

"I am not Flandre. Flandre is asleep right now, along with the other two." She smiles as she turns all the way around and walks up to Meiling. No matter what the taller woman tries, she can't pull her eyes away. "I am Flandre."

"R-right…" Meiling prepares to swing, hoping to take her out quickly if she makes a move towards her. "What do you want then, Flandre? Here to tell me how foolish I was?"

Flandre smiles, and the face now clear of madness bears an eerie similarity to her sister's. "I'll leave that to the mage. She will certainly lecture you, as she doesn't want you interacting with us."

That is not the reply that Meiling expected. "What now? What does… Does everything want something from me? Do they all plan to use me?"

"Of course. They all plan to use you, just as you planned to use others to escape. Such plans are foolish, though. There is no escape save that of the embrace of death. It is an escape that only one other in this mansion can have."

"…Patchouli, then. She's human like I am… Right?" Meiling tilts her head and tries to look away. Still, she cannot turn her eyes. "Why are you telling me this? Why aren't you still mad?"

"We are mad. The madness you know will soon reclaim us, and you will have to face another. But madness takes all kinds. It grants vision that the sane could never understand. …And sometimes it synchronizes in a manner that you will, to your eternal regret, will never understand." Flandre smiles wider, revealing her sharp teeth. "Trapped in an abyss no man could cross; you have no hope to escape this place."

Meiling swears she hears a thud as her heart drops in her chest. "You… Why.. Why would you say that? Even if it's true… Why are you telling me? Should I just… just give up?"

"I said not that. Time is your foe. Space and time. No matter if you hide yourself in the darkness or take refuge in the stale light, you cannot escape in the end. All you can do is wait." She tilts her head as she stares at Meiling. "She is busy. Busier than normal. Something frightens her. Something excites her. Something major is to happen. She knows not, but it will come."

"…When, then? How long do I have to wait?"

"Time has no meaning. Maybe an hour, maybe an eternity. It does come, though. It comes reaching out, claiming that which is not its as its own." Flandre chuckles darkly at the thought. "Something is changing… And change to the unchanging is quite stimulating."

Frowning, Meiling bites her lip. "You know what you are asking of me… At times, I feel like I'm risking death everyday. How can I survive an eternity?"

"You cannot. Keep surviving, and wait until the vulnerability appears. …Then again, do I need to say that?" The vampire's eyes widen and she breaks eye contact, looking over her shoulder. Meiling nearly falls into the wall as the spell is snapped. "Time's up. You shouldn't see me again, Miss Hong. Do not trust us… It would truly be mad to do such a thing." Without anymore of an explanation, Flandre falls over as a marionette would.

"Why must every explanation be cut short?" While tears of frustration threaten to well in her eyes, Meiling kneels down near the vampire, being careful to not touch her as she does. "What are you… What is going on here?"

"That is a good question." Meiling snaps her head up and pales moments later as she sees one person whom she did not want right now. "Has my maid been disruptive once more, my dear guest?"

Immediately, Meiling shakes her head. "Not… Not at all! She just… Well, she just had an episode. Accidentally bashed the door down. But she didn't hurt me."

Sakuya sighs a bit even as her lips curl. "Truly? Well, you would be fortunate. They know that this is a safe haven for you. I am going to have to punish her most thoroughly for this transgression." At that, she steps forward, reaching out for Flandre's body that is lying right in front of Meiling.

[ ] Stop her.
[ ] Let her go.
No. 176731
[ x] Stop her.

Shit, both choices seem like bad ideas, but Flandre didn't hurt us.

Also, I have to wonder, how far into the story are we? The whole arc with the mansion is starting to drag a little.
No. 176732
>>176731
This is the last vote before heading back to Lucas, Marisa and co. Stuff should start happening soon. Soon being relative, as always.
No. 176733
[X] Stop her.

Be polite about it though. It won't help neither Flandre nor Meiling if we manage to piss off Sakuya right now.

Even though I'm pretty sure both Flandre and Remilia are probably used to it by now, "punish most thoroughly" does not sound good coming from a Youkai.
So yeah. Let's try to stop her.
Flandre mostly just wanted to talk to us, she just knocked a bit too hard on the door because of her little "episode".


>>176732
That sounds nice. I like Meiling as a character a lot but as >>176731 said, her plot is dragging it's feet a little.
No. 176734
[X] Stop her.

I want to help Flandre, but agree we need to be careful and polite.
No. 176744
>>176734

[x] Stop her.

After all, while Flandre and Flandre were hardly coherent, and the beast is a jerk. Flandre was a rather interesting conversation partner.
No. 176746
[x] Stop her.

Well, that was a thing.
No. 176899
[-e+1-] Stop her.

------------

"Wait a second." Meiling lowers herself a little bit to cover up Flandre, although she makes sure not to touch Sakuya in the process. "It's fine… There really is no need. She just knocked a bit too hard. There's no problem. I'll help fix everything up, so there is really nothing to worry about it. No need to punish her."

Sakuya stops and turns to look at Meiling. "Why are you so insistent? I only am aiming to take care of you, after all. I would hate for a delicate guest to be injured…" Her eyes trail down towards Meiling's hand after remaining on her face for a few seconds. "Something that has already happened. It seems I must be heading and reprimanding the one responsible for that as well."

Meiling nods hurriedly, just wanting her to move on and leave them be. "That one would be… alright. Sure, that's good. But we have no problem here. You don't need to do anything to Flandre."

"You are confusing, you are aware. I failed by allowing my maid to get so close. After all, you are my guest. And my maid did go after you. There are some things that need to be done."

Meiling shakes her head again. "It's really… It's really not necessary." Seeing as her current approach isn't working, she bows her head and looks down. "You've already done quite a lot for me. Just because there has been one small incident doesn't mean you have to go so far out of the way to try and remedy wrongs."

Sakuya shakes her head before smiling. "So that is your worry. You are a good guest. But a host must be gracious foremost. And I cannot have my protection fail. You will be kept safe and comfortable, just as a guest should be."

The vampire stirs a bit in her arms, and Meiling looks at her face. Her eyes flutter open and two red orbs look up towards Meiling. "I am sure you can do such a thing without punishing her. Just let her off with a warning."

"I know how to treat those who work for me. I ask you not to worry. I will have to consider whether or not you should be permitted to access certain parts of the manor. I've already seen that my other guest is reluctant to keep you safe." Her eyes flash a bit as she leans down. "We will discuss these options later. For now, though, stay in here." At that, she reaches out and takes the vampire's arm in her hand and vanishes before Meiling's eyes, leaving her staring at an intact door.

Glancing about, she notices that everything else seems to be in place. A cursory look at her hand reveals that it is good as new as well. "…I hope I made the right choice. I guess… I'll have to be more cautious."

------------

Waking had been an intriguing experience, as always, but this time you found yourself staring into the grinning face of a familiar blonde woman. Threats and promises to obliterate you did not follow that smile, and so you were able to rest easy and not fight for your life upon waking yet again.

Still, Marisa did not leave you long to say much before giving a cursory recitation of what the lady in your head had been up to. No amount of cajoling could get a detailed account from her, as she kept on telling you to go to Rika and ask anything in particular.

You cannot explain the small snicker she let out as she told you that, though.

Fortunately, when Marisa kicked you out of her room in order to work, the girl was there to explain everything to you. It was somewhat odd hearing about a girl driven so mad, much less another that you saw die before your eyes. From her account you find more confirmation that it is not the same woman. She may look like her and speak like her, but she isn't the ally you could depend on. It's a pity, but at least you have one piece of her left around, if you can manage to be separated.

As to her sister, you wish you could do something, but you don't know what you can do. All that you have besides claws and feathers is that disturbing song of yours; only one would be of any use at all. And through it all you feel as if you're missing something, even if you can't quite place it.

Still, there is something that you need to do before you even formulate a plan. Your belly aches for food. And so, an eager girl ends up leading you to a small dining hall on the same floor. The room itself is rather cozy, and you see Harmon sitting at the end along with his little sister. The former is messing with his papers as he lazily sips at a cup while the latter snoozes against a stone wall. Neither of them notices you as you head inside.

You do your best to remain unnoticed and keep your voice down, as you hardly want to cause a scene as before. "…Rika, where would I find anything here to eat?"

"Right over here." The overenthusiastic girl does notice and keeps her voice down as well. "Just here in the cabinet. Let me find something…" She heads over to the cabinet and searches through it, coming back with a few packets. While they are covered with moonspeak, you can figure out what they are. "We don't exactly have much…"

"It's fine." The beast inside of you certainly won't be happy about the lack of meat, but you'll make do. Besides, it will be very nice to eat a meal as a civilized human would. "Just go ahead. I'll wait." She just nods and begins preparing it, sticking a pot onto an ancient stove after filling it with water from a nearby jug. You almost step in to help, but you recognize what the pot is made out of. "…Everyone is real prepared here, aren't they? If it was just that easy to find some of that back in her cave…"

Rika just nods and looks at it. "I suppose so. Everything up here is ancient. You can have it a—" She stops as she lets out a loud yawn that belies her size. "Sorry. Just… Just a bit tired. Been up for… for…" She tilts her head as she rubs her eyes. "I don't know how long. Had a cat nap after she left… I think. Not sure. Mind's a bit fuzzy."

"You should go down, then. I can manage here…" Any shuffling of papers has long ceased, and you can feel the eyes on your head. "Are the bowls here something I can hold, at least?"

"Yeah, they are. Some utensils, although I think they're actually made for cooking, not eating." She shrugs a bit as she reaches in the various cabinets. "I think… There we are. Serving spoon, but it'll work."

"Thanks." You put them next to the pot as the wood in the old stove keeps burning. "I'll be fine for now; you go on ahead."

She gives you an odd look as she stretches again, her earlier chattiness fading. "Are you sure? I know you don't want to touch that."

"I'll get some cloth to use. I can wrap it around the handle if I need to." You shrug and jerk your head towards the door. "Go ahead and get some rest."

She smiles a little bit before heading to the door. "…Alright then. Thanks… I'll do that." Rika sighs a bit before heading out on her own, leaving you alone with the antagonistic man.

You don't bother looking at him, though, until the food is done and edible. By the time you glance towards him, he is staring pointedly at his papers, not moving a muscle as his jaw clenches. There's nothing that you can do to calm him, so you leave him be and finish putting your food together in the bowl before taking a seat as far from them as you can.

Eating with the spoon is awkward, as it is much too large for you to use. You could try and use your dominant hand, but your claws would snap it too easily. Instead, you simply do your best and awkwardly eat the food.

"…I'm surprised you're not using your hands for that." You perk up a bit and glance at the man sitting a ways away from you. "You certainly aren't built for using those anymore."

"I wanted to eat something, that's all. And I'd rather not encourage the primal urges in the back of my head anymore than necessary." You shoot him a look before continuing to eat. "Besides, I'm leaving as soon as I can. I'm not going to be bothering either you or your sister. …There's nothing to gain."

"Good. And if you do manage to hurt her…" He takes a deep breath before looking down at his work. "Bah. Not like I can do anything except die."

You just shake your head at that. "Be glad that you're still human. You're lucky enough to know what's going on and not suffer from some curse."

He glares at you from the corner of his eye. "Right. I'm lucky to know what's going on and to have family out there dying or at risk of having worse happen. I'll remember to count that among my blessings."

Again, you are tempted to shake your head. There are quite a few things you could say in return, but right now you decide to leave matters be. You lower your head and continue to eat. As you consume of your current meal, you hear the door open and shut. Someone enters the room, but they go no farther into it and instead stand right behind you. Seconds drag on, and after half a minute you've had enough of the staring.

[ ] "Boo."
[ ] Shake your wings. Get them to move on.
[ ] "Yup. They're feathers. crazy, eh?"
[ ] "Is there some way that I can help you?"
[ ] Obligatory Write-in Option.
No. 176919
[x] "Yup. They're feathers. crazy, eh?"

Whatever, man.

Anyway, possibility for the yet-unasked z-question: IS there anything Lucas can do for Rikako, or should we just forget about that line of inquiry?
No. 176920
[x] "Is there some way that I can help you?"

Best to be diplomatic around here. Any trust is good when we don't have very much.
No. 176938
[x] "Yup. They're feathers. crazy, eh?"

Their reaction to a youkai going groooooovy man would be amusing, plus it makes us more relatable and more human.
No. 176939
[X] "Yup. They're feathers. crazy, eh?"
No. 176941
[X] "Take a seat. Surely my feathers can't be so interesting that you want to stand behind them forever."
-[X] If the arrival doesn't take up your offer, stand up and face them.

Given that Harmon isn't reacting whatsoever to this newcomer, there shouldn't be a threat to our current well-being. However, I am sure it isn't sound to allow a potential threat to remain directly in our blind spot, so Lucas has to either get the stranger to move or make sure he's ready to respond to any malicious intent. Marisa and Rika should have already greeted us, so that means Rinnosuke, Reimu, Akyuu, or another member of the organization wants to confront Lucas and has a less than gracious attitude towards him. Either way, we need to get the newcomer away from our back.

>>176938
How many other youkai/changelings had that very idea? Trying to show that we have 'retained' our humor isn't going to mean very much to people who know that we could be ready to backstab them at any moment. Actions, not words, will gain their trust due to the fact that the latter has no weight among Fae or their ilk when made out of oath.
No. 176946
Oh, here's an idea for the z question!
While I don't expect him to give everything away right away, some hint as to how we can get Lucas and Margaret separate would be nice. Even a nudge in the right direction.
No. 176959
>>176920
It's a nice thought, except for the part where you're a youkai attempting to offer a gift.

[x] "Yup. They're feathers. Crazy, eh?"
No. 176966
Mmmmk then.
No. 176972
>>176959

I'm not sure about how trying to be courteous can be construed as a gift. What would we be giving besides a little respect, which is clearly something we are not in a position to withhold? Additionally, Lucas is a changeling, not a youkai. These terms are interchangeable to some degree; I insist that for this occasion all parties currently understand that youkai are treacherous sweet-talking monstrosities trying to get you to lower your guard before brutally murdering you, while changelings like Lucas are different in that they have varying amounts of morality and sanity to restrain their actions.

Of course, the sentiment behind your statement is quite clear. It's just that the assumption that the other humans have written off Lucas as a manipulative incorrigible monster goes contrary to what Reimu and Marisa have established, since they would've simply executed us if they had any suspicion Lucas would try to turn on them. Assuming that the person behind Lucas knows that he's been cleared by Marisa and Reimu, the arrival shouldn't be so paranoid that he or she would instantly take a respectful inquiry as a subversive attempt to lower their guard.

tl;dr conclusion: Even though Lucas is officially a potential time bomb, the person behind him shouldn't be so paranoid as to assume that any action on his part has some malicious undertone. Unless said person is Akyuu in her paranoid killer ninja mode, in which case your point is entirely justified.

Also, kudos on your part for capitalizing crazy.
No. 176983
>>176972

>I'm not sure about how trying to be courteous can be construed as a gift.

>"Is there some way that I can help you?"


You're offering to help them. First rule when dealing with the Fae; If they're offering to help you, then there's a catch. You may not know what it is, and it might never affect you but there is always a catch. Maybe everyone who is "helped" by them is forced to reciprocate. Maybe they have an ulterior motive. Maybe they're trying to curry favour. Who knows? It all depends on the Fae in question. The only thing guaranteed is that there is a price. Which leads to the second rule when dealing with the Fae; Never accept an offer from the Fae without considering all the possible ramifications. Even then, don't do so unless you have no other options.

...Or that's what our Fae hunting friends think anyway. To be fair, it's not that far from the truth. Mythologically speaking, the Fae are known for tricking people into making agreements and deals without the poor dupe even realising.
No. 177041
I too vote for our Z to be to know if there is anything we can do for Rikako.
No. 177053
[-f+1-] "Yup. They're feathers. crazy, eh?"

------------

Without bothering to glance back, you just shrug your shoulders and flick your wings at whoever it is. "Yup, they're feathers. It's crazy, eh? Never would expect to see them on someone's back."

"I do try to resist admiring the plumage of an animal that will try and kill us sooner or later." Even if you did not recognize the voice, its source was much shorter than any others in the cave. "What are you doing in here anyways? Shouldn't that thrice-maddened witch be keeping an eye on you?"

Silently, you roll your eyes as you continue to eat. "I think that should be obvious enough. I was hungry, and I just came down here to eat. Or does it look like I'm doing something else?"

The girl stirs for a moment before grabbing your arm and holding it in place with her firm grip. "Is that so? I highly doubt that was the case. Whatever you are, you are certainly doing nothing as simple as eating. You are planning and formulating in the back of that mind, and you are waiting for the opportune moment and when we are weak and at a disadvantage."

It takes a bit of effort to keep your claw from squeezing shut in frustration. As annoyed as you might be by her actions, you're not going to risk doing anything that could be directly construed as hostile. "I am not doing that. I just wanted to eat something like a human, and Harmon here started speaking. I have done nothing else since sending Rika to sleep."

She twists your arm a bit more, and you finally turn about to face Akyuu. "What did you do to her? She may be annoying and naive, but I will not risk yet another creature that we will have to put down inside of this hideout."

"Relax… It's just as I said. She needed sleep, so I told her to go and get it. It's as simple as that… Nothing underhanded."

"So you say. So you say." She snorts and gives your arm a shake before letting go. Without giving you anymore heed, she marches over to Harmon and looks up at the sitting man. "Now, you said you had the outlines on the last incident written up? I need to review them before adding them to the archives."

He issues an exasperated sigh before reaching for the papers. "I was just looking over it. I could only do so much off of Reimu's recitation. She seemed too distracted to do much more than give a base description of the changelings."

"She did take care of them. They shouldn't be coming back at that level of corruption." Frowning, she takes the papers and reads through them. Something bugs Akyuu, though, and her eyebrow twitches. "What did I tell you about typing these up instead of inscribing them? They aren't worth nearly as much if typed by brass instead of being written by hand."

"I am only so fast. And my calligraphy, for lack of a more accurate term, hardly meets your standard. You're going to rewrite it all anyways." The girl nods to herself idly as she pages through the papers. "Why do you even have me bother?"

"You spot things I don't see, just as the reverse is true. I can recognize that much. A new point of view is something that only humans are skilled at…" She cuts her eyes to you at the remark. "Stubborn Youkai just cling to a single idea until it becomes and obsession, after all."

"Would you please stop it? I'm just trying to eat in peace. Not in annoyance, or in scheming or conniving or anything else." Huffing, you grab your bowl and head over to deposit it in the sink.

Papers ruffle once more, and Akyuu's finger trails down. "And the illustrations… If there was time or place for it, I'd be tempted to have a tutor come down here and teach you how to draw correctly. At least your guides are accurate…" She pauses for a second before snorting. "Although, I'm rather sure that this oni wasn't an even fifteen feet tall."

Harmon rolls his eyes and throws up his arms. "How would you know? You weren't there. I merely extrapolated based on the description of the tunnel that it ran through."

"You did, but the tunnel it traversed was for rails. Your report said that it only bowed its head, and didn't need to hunch over. The maximum height is fourteen and three quarters feet. That, and you have a nasty habit of confusing total height with height plus horn."

"…Now you're just being pedantic. If you want them to be more accurate, you should do them yourself. Maybe you could get Reimu to talk more than a few words at a time." Grumbling, he hands over the rest of the papers as Akyuu looks at them.

For lack of any specific direction, you go ahead and turn to leave and get away from this girl. Your wing twitches as you start to head out, and you feel someone tugging at you weakly.

Looking down, you see a familiar face with a head of green hair. "…Are you a bad angel?"

"Huh?" You quickly glance towards the other two. However, both still continue to sit and bicker, and neither pay any mind to the missing child. "…I can't say that I am."

"Well, bigger brother said that you are bad person. That if I wasn't a good girl you would come down and eat me and grind my bones for bread." Coyly, she tilts her head to the side, staring at you. "But why do you have angel wings when bigger brother says you're so bad?"

"Things aren't always so simple. A bad woman… did stuff to me. She gave me wings just because she felt like doing it." How can you explain the horrible things to a child? "And the bad woman just wanted something pretty in a cage."

Layla's eyes alight and she claps her hands. "Oh! So that's why they're pretty. …But if that woman was bad, how are you bad as well?"

You glance at Harmon one more time before answering her. "I think your brother is just afraid, and wants to protect you more than anything. …I can hardly blame him for doing that."

As you speak of him, Harmon finally notices whom you are conversing with. "What… Layla, get away from that thing!" Yet again, he leaps out of his chair and runs forward to grab hold of his sister, pulling her back even as he lifts her into his arms. During the whole sequence you stay completely still save for your eyes. "What did I tell you? Do not go near it!"

"But he's been nice to me. Why should I? Bigger sister said I shouldn't ignore others so much…" The little girl looks back at you with her large eyes. "He doesn't look so bad…"

"Listen to your brother. There are lots of things that are bad that look just the opposite. And he just wants to keep you safe." You can't help to feel a little amused as his face twists in consternation. However, you don't want to wait around and see if either of them have more harsh words for you. Silently, you head out the door and leave them be for now.

[ ] Head to see if Marisa has anything.
[ ] Go down to the floor you entered the hideout on.
[ ] Try and find an exit to the above ground.
[ ] Search about for someone. (specify)
[ ] Wander about the levels and try and learn the layout.

Was waiting to see if you would make another choice. Missed out on Akyuu + there. Anywho, if you're voting for z, just do it on this next one. Just want to confirm.
No. 177054
[X] Wander about the levels and try and learn the layout.

Random encounter is a go!


I'm still thinking of what to ask as a z question, since there's nothing right now that jumps out at me as something I really need to ask.
If anyone has any ideas, I'll probably go along with one of those.
No. 177055
[x] Head to see if Marisa has anything.
At least we know (for lack of a better word around here) that Marisa isn't hostile.

Also, fuck you, Akyuu. You are the most aggravating little bitch I've ever seen.
No. 177056
>>177041
I too vote for our Z to be to know if there is anything we can do for Rikako.

You said to repost, and I did.
No. 177057
[x] Wander about the levels and try and learn the layout.
No. 177096
[-g+1-] Wander about the levels and try to learn the layout.

------------

There's no need for you to stay here. This place is strange, and you've yet to explore it thoroughly. Seeking out an exit would probably end up with Akyuu becoming even more suspicious of you. However, with her temperament, that is likely to happen no matter what route you take, or so it seems.

At the very least, she does not pursue you after the scene moments ago.

Shrugging, you begin to wander down the halls slowly, searching for every branch and door that leads away from it. There are plenty of the former, but not very many of the latter. Every corridor you find is straight and leads off into the darkness. Curiously, the side branches seem to become smaller and more cramped the farther down one would go.

Picking the first one of the branches proves fruitless, as the hall ends up facing a rock wall. "So, this place was never finished… That, or they only carve out what they need. …I suppose there are only a few people down here." Curiously, you drag your claw against the face of rock at the end of the hall, and the black stone gives way just as easily as you remembered. "Nothing special here, really. At least the walls aren't hazardous to me…"

Turning back, you proceed down another small branch and find a door at the end of it. The handle is made out of an all too familiar material, and you have to bundle up the hem of your shirt so that you can even open it up. The room is dark inside, but you can see little more than supplies and dried food. For a few seconds you wonder about going inside and rooting about, but you instead close the door. There's nothing in particular you need to search for yet.

The other small shafts on this level all seem to be the same, with none of the others having any doors on them. You eventually give up searching through them, and try instead to map out the main level as best you can. From what you remember, Marisa's room is never the far side and on the opposite end of the door you used to enter this level. The elevator is near the center, along with the only electrical lights on this floor. The kitchen that you had eaten in is near the elevator as well, closer to the stairs than Marisa's room.

This whole time, you have not heard another person enter the hall. Ears you may be lacking, but your hearing is much better than it used to be. "Well, I don't know what those other rooms lead to… I shouldn't be busting in. I don't want to run into Akyuu in one of them."

"Why does it matter? It didn't stop you before."

You spin around as the voice whispers in your ear. No matter where you look, though, nothing is there. "Just great… Am I hearing things, or is it something…" Cautiously, you back out into the main hallway and start to head down it.

Flames flicker in the nearest brazier as a sudden gust dims the light. "Don't you remember what you did? You didn't care then."

"…Hearing voices. I am not hearing voices." You hear nothing and see nothing no matter where you look. No matter how hard you stare at the roughhewn rock walls, you find nothing but slabs of stone. The only breathing that you hear is your own, and there are no footsteps anywhere. "Alright, is this Margaret finally speaking up? I doubt I would be that fortunate…"

No one responds to your comments, and you start heading down the hall again. The wind in the underground, enclosed room picks up once more, and more of the braziers are blown out. "Where are you going…? Somewhere safe? You're not going to get away from me. You never will. Just stop running."

The all-too-familiar whispering voice is enough to unnerve you, even though you can't find the source. "You won't take me, you know. You can't. I put you down… Twice I've gotten rid of you. You won't come back. You can't."

"You should know there are plenty of things I can do. But go ahead and try to keep running…" The wind blows again and you spin around, looking for laughter you swear that you hear. Not wanting to waste any more time, you just ignore the voice and head towards the nearest door. A quick and painful wrench is all you need to open it, and you slam it shut behind you.

The voice does not follow you in, and all the lights inside the current chamber stay on. You stay position your earhole against the door and listen for anything — or anyone — that might be on the other side. You wait for a minute and still nothing happens. "Just… Just imagining things…" Finally, you slump to the floor and look at the room you are in.

At least, you try to before you get whacked in the head with a stick. "Next time knock, Youkai. You might have caught me in a position where I would have to kill you." The impact is hardly as strong as it was before, and you manage to see something other than stars after a few seconds. "Although, what seems to be bothering you? You're as pale as Akyuu's backside. Did you happen to see a ghost, Changed Changeling?"

Hovering just over your head is Reimu's face as she grins at you. "I… well, I hope it's just a ghost. I'd the to imagine if she was still alive…"

"…Ah…" Reimu stands straight up as the grin slides off. "I see. What happened to frighten you so much?"

"Wind in the corridor blew out all of the flames. And I just kept hearing voices. I wasn't going to stay around, and whatever it was didn't follow me through."

"Hrm…" Without paying you any heed, she leans forward and opens the door, looking around outside as she does. "The lamps are burning, so that raises a few possibilities…" She closes the door again before locking it. "How practiced are you with your glamour?"

Blinking, you tilt your head to the side. "Not at all. I know that my voice is probably produced by it, but I have never actively used it explicitly save for when I sing a brown note."

At the mention of your horrid song her eyes narrow. "So, none. Marisa mentioned how short of time you were in during her report. Which would explain a few things…" She backs away for a second before heading over to the mat on the ground. "That Youkai may have survived and followed you here. They are incredibly tough to kill. They rarely die on the first attempt. And the less they are burdened by the boundaries of reality, the harder it is to finish the job."

"That is hardly encouraging. I had hoped…" You trail off, not wanting to voice the thought. "Do you really think that's the case, though?"

"It could be of many cases. Maybe it's a ghost, maybe it's the Youkai, maybe it's your own tormented mind expecting something and thus you see it." She sighs a bit as she rolls up her mat. "Although, you could simply be manifesting it through a power all your own, one that you don't know how to control."

"…Margaret?"

"Somewhat, but yes. You've got one appearing, so why not another?" She takes the mat and puts it in the corner before standing up and dusting herself off. "Then again, it could all be in your mind. Some sleep would help out."

Snorting, you cross your arms and look up at the girl. "It would… Although when I get it, someone else wakes up. That can't help, can it?"

"I wouldn't know." Reimu glances at the mirror for a second before shaking her head. "Marisa will figure something out. Akyuu could help if she wanted to. She won't until you prove that you're not a threat to anyone here, though. Even then, I am not sure she would do anything…"

You glance back at the door once more, making sure nothing is coming through. Satisfied, you stand up and face her eye to eye. "Why would she be able to? Is it something to do with her being the Ninth Child or some such story?"

Reimu nods as she idly spins her gohei in her hand. "That it is. Although, she's seen far more than any of us. I can tell you're not a threat, but that's because I'm confident in… my powers. She is in a young body and is still weak."

"I'm surprised. I didn't think you'd trust me enough to say that."

"I don't. I trust Marisa, and I know I could put you down if necessary." She shrugs as you wince. "Simple truth. It's a bit ugly, but it's the business we're in. You're just lucky you're still sane enough, at least for now."

"Is there no other Changeling that is as sane as I? From the sound of it, the lot of you have never saved one aside from that man that Marisa talked about."

Reimu gives you a curious look before nodding. "Right… You didn't meet Kourin. He may still be alive, but it's not like he wanted to be. He realized what he was capable of, and just wanted to escape it all." She shrugs and looks past you for a few seconds. "Besides, it's not like you're the first that I've tried to take in. You're Marisa's first, though."

"…And? What would the difference be?"

"I've seen the others go bad. You can try so hard to stay human, but those parts of you just slip through your fingers. …It's something Marisa needs to learn, so I won't interfere as long as you remain a non-threat. If you start obsessing too much, or talking under your breath, or creating mental images to run rampant, I might have to take action."

"…Noted. And punishment for accidentally breaking into your room?"

"I'll have to think about it." She grins a bit before laughing. "'Sides, I don't have a shrine anymore, so even if I was interested in eliciting prayers, I wouldn't bother."

[ ] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
-[ ] Should you ask for a blessing?
[ ] She's more reasonable than Akyuu. Ask her about her deal, and how she's still alive.
[ ] That's the second time you've mentioned obsessions. Are they the ones obsessed?
[ ] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?

I'll take the z vote before the next post goes up. Should give you enough time to recast them after I asked for them.
No. 177098
[x] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.

So... Reimu says she doesn't have a shrine anymore. Gensokyo in this setting is f'ed up like crazy, and nothing like canon. What if the two facts are related?
Sorry, just my train of thought derailing. Move along.
No. 177100
[X] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
and if we have time to talk about more than that:
[X] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?


Something to take our mind off the terrible thought that we may be "haunted" by Wriggle.
I'm thinking of asking for a blessing, but I'm wondering how religious he is. Would he be interested in it because he believes a bit of divine protection would help, or would he just consider it a "you never know, just in case" kind of thing?
Depending on that the scene would change quite a bit from the inclusion of the vote. (And how seriously Reimu would take it too, obviously. At least it's safe to assume that she's more of a believer than the average person even if she might not be too offended by someone who does not believe as much.)
It might also be worth asking about how to properly kill Youkai, in case it turns out that Wriggle is still alive.


As for the z question, I guess I'd want to ask something about Meiling's situation because there's a lot more unknowns there at the moment but I don't know what, specifically, I want to ask about...
No. 177111
[X] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
and if we have time to talk about more than that:
[X] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?
No. 177129
[X] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
and if we have time to talk about more than that:
[X] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?
[x] If the mood is still good ask for a blessing.

This is good mix of choices, as much as I want to pick all of them, it allows us to possibly learn a little bit more about Reimu and hopefully gives us more information about killing youkai. While we know it from previous [z] questions, we need Lucas to find out in character.

As to the [z] question, while it would be nice to know if we can help Rikako, I agree with the previous poster, that we really do need to start focusing some of these on Meiling.
[z] What can you tell us about Meiling.
Just kind of looking for a basic bio and personality information, whatever you can give us. Just want to get a better feel for her and her skills. Education? What kind of martial arts does she know? Does she have any weapons training? Stuff along those lines.
No. 177224
[X] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
and if we have time to talk about more than that:
[X] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?
[x] If the mood is still good ask for a blessing.
No. 177225
[X] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
and if we have time to talk about more than that:
[X] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?
[x] If the mood is still good ask for a blessing.
No. 177231
[x] Meiling

Alrighty, let's get down to brass tacks then. Meiling is an immigrant from the northern provinces in China. She is from a small town without much connections to the outside world. She began growing to her impressive stature early, and as a result began training in the physical arts earlier.

Her education is rather minimal, but she had adapted to a different language after moving to her new home within two years. She learned a northern-style art in her home (not going to pick one in particular, as I do not know them well enough to even begin to show the nuances. If you all want to debate on it, have fun! She is a main character, and not pure npc)

She had a major disagreement with her father which lead to her leaving and seeking her fortunes elsewhere. After a failure to leave via the normal channels, she left the country on foot and sought her way to greener pastures via ship.

She can't quite be called a master, as she is much too young to master the internal arts and the manipulation of qi. However, she was enthusiastic about teaching others what she knew, just as she was determined to prove her father wrong.

However, she couldn't get the building space to start training, and she didn't have the credentials that most would take, so she ended up taking low-tier jobs, sending her spiraling further and further into depression as excitement turned into apathy.

tl;dr, her dreams were crushed, all the exertion seemed to be wasted, and she was rendered prime picking for a Youkai to come and steal her away.


Anywho, that's enough. Update tomorrow. Have a Meiling today.
No. 177259
[-h-] Ask her about the shrine while she's in a good mood. Need fewer… temperamental allies.
[-h-] …How does she kill Youkai anyways? And how can she ensure… ensure that they stay?
[-h-] If the mood is still good ask for a blessing.

------------

"Now, what was that? You used to work at a shrine of sorts?" At her nod, you turn your head to look at the door before resting on it. "What is all that about? I know you aren't wearing what I would consider normal clothes, but I didn't think there was much more to it than you being a mage."

Reimu shakes her head before looking away. "This was a long time ago. I never actually had the opportunity to act as a maiden to my shrine. It was destroyed when I was shorter than this stick here." She snorts as she twirls it around, staring at the paper on its end as it traces white circles through the air. "Now, I wear this outfit for all the reasons that Marisa wears her outfit when she is on the job."

It doesn't take long for you to think back on all the reasons she had told you for wearing that thing. "Does this have to do with deal about casualty, and not wanting to cause a paradox?"

"Pretty much." Reimu grins a bit before wandering back into her room, messing with her dresser drawer. "After all, you would just happen to believe a random person is capable of incredible actions? Or would little tokens of good fortune be more likely to work if they came from the hands of a shrine maiden?" She sighs and closes the drawer. "They don't usually work, but sometimes they end up doing. Unfortunately, I can't create miracles. Not the kind that most people need."

"Did you expect yourself to be able to do such a thing?" You snort a bit and look down, staring at your own hands. "It was a miracle that I escaped, but it took a lot of luck to even get this far. And I've still got to go back to the other side and find the others, somehow."

"You'd be lucky to survive on the other side. I'd ask why you still keep pursuing that dream, but I know the answer to that one." The next drawer slides open as she continues looking about. "But it's more of a sense of duty than anything else… I spend so much time working to kill those monsters that no one else can see. A part of me just wants to be appreciated for it."

You can't help but to give her an odd look as you watch her dig through the drawers. "Aren't you opening up a bit too much? You don't seem the type that would do that. Marisa doesn't care, and Rika…"

"Rika is naive. Good girl, but naive. And like I said, if you became trouble, you wouldn't be a problem. I just felt like I needed a sounding board. You don't have blonde hair or a witch's hat, but you'll do for now."

"…Thanks, I think." Snorting, you look over to the side and stare at the wall. "Marisa said you were the best one. Why keep on doing all of this work? What’s to stop you from just opening up another shrine of your own?"

As you query her, Reimu picks a pair of socks out of the drawer and sniffs them. She visibly recoils and tosses them to the side as she mutters to herself. "Must have forgotten to wash everything after that time…" She shivers before looking up. "Well, frankly, this is all I really do. I could go back and just sit in the shrine, occasionally diving the will of the spirits to those who still believe. More often, I would just be gawked at by tourists and others who are asleep to magic."

She grins as she continues to work through the drawer, removing more and more pieces of clothing from inside. "Of course, more people will believe me when I am exorcising dangerous spirits when I'm in garb, so it all wins in the end."

You eye a few of the discarded articles, noting a few are quite a bit different than what she has on. "So, what are the t-shirts about? You don't look like the type who would like heavy metal."

"That's if I have to go to the west. Ghost hunters can get in just about anywhere nowadays, although I'd rather just sneak in and not bother with permission."

"…Right." You're not quite sure when that became so widespread, but you'll take her word for it. "So, you kill Youkai, right? How do you make sure that they stay dead?"

"It's a difficult process to be sure. In the end, though, you'll never be able to ensure Youkai are dead. They've lost too much of a contact with reality to even be able to die properly, as they aren't technically alive as we know it."

You frown a bit and look back towards the door. Thoughts of Wriggle and her death flash through your mind along with the visions you keep on receiving. "Last I checked, she bled as easily as I did once I managed to cut her. Then I chopped her up until little bits and burned the body…"

Reimu smiles a bit as she finally looks toward you. "And if you had the chance, you would have taken her ashes and scattered them to the four winds so that the seven seas could swallow them up. Very thorough, at least; I'll give you that much." She chuckles as she reaches for a small book encased in leather. "However, there are ways to beat them back. Physically destroying them is one thing, one that I am apt at. However, if you want to be thoroughly rid of them, you would have to entrap them and ruin their spirit."

"…Wriggle had another Youkai in the bottom of her lair. She was something out of this world… had the face and body of a woman, but she was an enormous growth of a plant. Inside her were the… bodies? Souls? Something of Wriggle's previous pets." You shiver at the reminder. "She claimed to have… consumed her at one point? I'm honestly not sure at this point. A lot happened in a short amount of time."

The former shrine maiden hums to herself as she begins to put the clean clothes back in the drawer. Somewhat to your amusement, there is a small pile still out on her mat. "Must have been a strong Youkai before she was attacked if she was able to remain so strong after an ordeal like that. Then again, things are always relative. Was that Youkai aware when you met her?"

"If she was, it was in a sense I would be unaware of. It just… was. A great monstrosity of roots and seeds."

"Attempting to be poetic?" Reimu snorts to herself as she looks down. "It was either sealed in some manner, however you want to call it, or it was drained of its power." You begin to nod, and she smiles grimly. "There you go. That's my best explanation."

"Lovely. If Wriggle is gone… Well, that won't be our problem, hopefully. I doubt Tokiko or Amsterdam went back to the burrow." Sighing, you begin to just watch her as she continues to work. "If they did, they would have to have had a good reason. We'll just have to see." The room grows silent for a few seconds, and Reimu continues to work on her clothes. "So, how do you end up sealing them so they don't cause a problem?"

"I use cards for the most part. Establishing circles that will seal the Youkai in place so I can do my best to exorcise, banish, or seal them. Whatever is necessary, as each situation is a special case. Although, Youkai are hardly what we deal around with here. Changelings, for the most part, tend to be mortal enough that they stay dead. Most of our problems have to deal with those that are Changed, anyways."

You tilt your head to the side as you watch, and you eventually nod to her. "Wriggle only came out at the very end, and the only thing I had to deal with before that was that doppelganger."

The door shuts as Reimu finally finishes sorting through everything. "Precisely. They sometimes find amusement by letting those they change escape so they can watch their antics. They only step into this world themselves, typically, to take advantage of an opportunity or to jealously guard that which they claim for themselves. They all are horrific perversions ruling little fiefdoms in their home."

"And who is the one getting poetic, now?" You manage to get her to chuckle ruefully. "Seems that I will have to look more closely at such things later on. If she is still alive, I'd rather make sure I could put her down and make sure she stays."

"Might want to see what exactly you can do. And although it's a horrible idea, you might want to try working on that glamour of yours. At least you should be able to cover up those arms and wings. It'd make it easier for you to pass by unnoticed, at the least."

"It's not like there's anyone I could ask… but thanks. I'll take it into consideration." Sighing, you continue to watch as she works. "So, what's with the book? You keeping your true name hidden in the bottom of a drawer so I don't find it out?"

Reimu immediately shoots you a look and rolls her eyes. "It's hardly anything of the sort. I may not be a historian at heart like our dear short leader, but I do have to keep track of things myself."

"Have to?" You tilt your head to the side. "You giving it to them later?"

"No. I just prefer to do this."

"Alright." Reimu turns towards the door, and you get the feeling that you might have outstayed your welcome. "Before you kick me out, would you perhaps do something for me?"

The stick in her hand twirls before she crosses her arms. "Sure, I'll bite. Has Marisa done something inappropriate that I need to hit her in the head for?"

"No…?" Shrugging the remark off, you bite your tongue as you try to get the question out of your mouth. "If you didn't mind, would you give me a blessing? I'd like to have all the help I could get."

A consternated look is all you receive. A few seconds pass and Reimu sighs. "Listen. Just ask me one question. Are you religious at all, or are you just asking this because you felt it'd be something nice to have?"

"The latter. I never was very hopeful for my immediate future. How could I have any for after I died?"

Reimu bites her tongue and looks at you for a few seconds. Eventually, she starts shaking her head. "I'll have to decline, in that case. If you really don't have any faith, there is no point at all in me granting a blessing of any type." She shrugs again and looks away. "Besides, even if you did, it wouldn't work, odds on."

"Why not? Former or not, why wouldn't it?" It takes you a moment to realize you're taking a belief in such things for granted. "Assume for a moment that I believe in such things. I'm finding out it can't hurt to do that."

"Because the god of my shrine is dead." Her eyes snap back up, and the traces of goodwill earlier are gone. "The shrine was attacked, and the priests were driven out. Most were killed, some worse. I was lucky enough to get away, where a woman managed to guide me to a place that I could hide."

Your wings snap to attention as you automatically take a step back from the woman. "Right, I understand now. But a passerby?"

"She never told me her name. Maybe it was providence that night. I certainly do not know." Reimu shakes her head. "But it does not really matter. Would a non-believing foreigner really desire the blessing of a dead god, or are you going let that oni lie drunk and sleeping?"

[ ] Her point has been made. Drop it.
[ ] Go ahead and ask. Maybe she can make you believe.
&
[ ] Leave her alone. Perhaps you've struck a nerve.
[ ] Attempt to console her. There's no reason to leave an injury to fester.
[ ] Just say a few words, nothing more. This wound has healed as best it can.
[ ] Write-in
No. 177260
[x] Her point has been made. Drop it.
-[x] Just say a few words, nothing more. This wound has healed as best it can.

Well, that infodump didn't turn out so hot for us.
No. 177264
[x] Her point has been made. Drop it.
-[x] Just say a few words, nothing more. This wound has healed as best it can.


And that's why I was reluctant to ask for a blessing unless he was actually a believer.
Well, it worked out okay not too terrible in the end, at least.

I imagined Gods to be more durable than that, though, but I guess that's just a western view. All western mythologies have Gods that are superhuman, even the ones that aren't the Abrahamic almighty, all-knowing God.
The Greek pantheon, the Nordic æsir, and so on. All of them were mighty enough that it took other gods, or creatures of similar power to kill them.
Just seems strange that a God would be killed by the destruction of a shrine, especially when the "high priestess", so to speak, is still around.
No. 177265
>>177264
Actually, it almost seems suspicious.
Maybe I'm just paranoid (or downright stupid), but I don't think Reimu being out of a shrine/deity and her current occupation are unrelated... In a deeper sense than 'Oh, it's plausible this way.'
No. 177271
>>177264

The way gods (or rather kami, which translates better as spirit than god anyway) generally work in Shinto teachings is that they reside in and express themselves through objects that represent them. These repositories are known as "Shintai" or "body of the kami". The most important role of a shrine is to house and protect it's Shintai and the kami residing in it. In the case of the Hakurei God, it's shintai would primarily be the Ying-Yang Orbs as well as Reimu's gohei to a lesser extent. It may also reside in the Hakurei bloodline but that's just my theory and I have no idea whether or not that's truly the case.

In summary, the best way to "kill", or at least sever it's connection with the mortal plane, the Hakurei God would be to destroy the Ying-Yang Orbs, kill it's attendants and burn the shrine to the ground. Even then, what Reimu said about about having to ruin a Youkai's spirit to kill it would probably would apply just as much to it as to them.

Have a few relevant links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goshintai
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/540851/shintai


>Reimu bites her tongue and looks at you for a few seconds. Eventually, she starts shaking her head. "I'll have to decline, in that case. If you really don't have any faith, there is no point at all in me granting a blessing of any type." She shrugs again and looks away. "Besides, even if you did, it wouldn't work, odds on.

Silly Reimu, you should know better than anyone that if you don't believe it'll work then it won't. And if your god's only attendant no longer believes in it, well what do you think that might mean? I want to make a write-in telling her that believing her god is dead isn't really helping the matter, but I can't think of a way to phrase it without provoking her so I'll leave the second choice blank for now.

[x] Go ahead and ask. Maybe she can make you believe.

After all, you just need to have a little faith. If you don't bother, of course it won't work!
No. 177272
>>177271

>>177260 here, changing the first part of my vote to match this... Because it makes sense.

Of course, we shouldn't press the issue too much, not while Reimu doesn't see a need to murder us.
No. 177273
[x]"In fairness I didn't believe in fairy tales and magic until recently. I'm not going to claim I know much about religion, especially yours. I'm also not trying to say your wrong and I'm sorry for your loss, but if youkai don't really die...then I doubt Gods do either. Magic, miracles, glamours...it's all just about faith, beliefs, and a bit of reality. Why would religion be any different. So...yes I would, and I'd be grateful, hope is precious after all, but I won't force the issue."


Maybe a little sappy, but sums up my thoughts on the issue.
No. 177274
[x]"In fairness I didn't believe in fairy tales and magic until recently. I'm not going to claim I know much about religion, especially yours. I'm also not trying to say your wrong and I'm sorry for your loss, but if youkai don't really die...then I doubt Gods do either. Magic, miracles, glamours...it's all just about faith, beliefs, and a bit of reality. Why would religion be any different. So...yes I would, and I'd be grateful, hope is precious after all, but I won't force the issue."

Fucking this. This situation isn't going to get any better by us being humble or meek. Drag this situation kicking and screaming to victory.
No. 177279
[x]"In fairness I didn't believe in fairy tales and magic until recently. I'm not going to claim I know much about religion, especially yours. I'm also not trying to say your wrong and I'm sorry for your loss, but if youkai don't really die...then I doubt Gods do either. Magic, miracles, glamours...it's all just about faith, beliefs, and a bit of reality. Why would religion be any different. So...yes I would, and I'd be grateful, hope is precious after all, but I won't force the issue."

I like this vote. Probably the best we can hope for when it comes to this road.
No. 177282
[x] "In fairness, I didn't believe in fairy tales and magic until recently. Why would religion be any different? .. I don't know much about any religion, especially not yours. I'm also not trying to say you're wrong, and I am sorry for your loss; but if youkai don't really die... well, then maybe gods don't, either. So yes, I would, and I'd be grateful — hope is precious, after all — but I won't force the issue."

Some slight changes, because I'm not convinced that most magic here has much to do with belief. For one thing, if it did, the title of this story would be a lot less ironic and a lot more literal.

(Also, spelling and punctuation errors.)
No. 177283
>>177282
>(Also, spelling and punctuation errors.)
And then I go and put two periods in an ellipsis, and I can't delete the post. FUCK ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING WITH SUPERGLUE FOR LUBE.
No. 177284
>>177271
I knew the eastern religions were more animistic in nature, but I couldn't be bothered to look it up more closely right then.
I was also thinking about sort of making that into a write-in, to suggest that he should try and encourage her a bit.
But I couldn't get it to sound the way I wanted it to, so I just left it as a general musing instead.

But yeah, something like >>177279.
No. 177295
>>177282

As the original writer of the write in I like this modification. It's a little less confrontational and more sympathetic while still getting the key points across.
I do disagree about belief though, while I don't think it's the only aspect needed for magic, I do think it's important. If you look at how Lucas was able to pierce the barrier and wake up, it was his belief that the other world was real. I think it's belief in his abilities that will allow Lucas to utilize his glamor and eventually help pierce the barrier into Gensokyo. It may not be all he needs, but I do think it's part of it.
Also I think belief plays a role in how magic works, at least indirectly. Marisa's belief in her magic allows her to use magic, but it's the population's disbelief that makes it so dangerous. This is why when she uses it in public places it can lead to paradox and can kill her, because she's doing the impossible, at least as far as the world is concerned, where as if she were casting her magic in gensokyo, this wouldn't happen because will and belief are made real. Now I think both are real, which seems to be the whole reason Lucas was able to pierce the barrier in the first place, but they're like two sides of the same coin.
No. 177296
>>177282

>>177260 and >>177272 here, changing my vote (again...) for this.

People keep coming up with good points and write-ins!
No. 177346
[-i-] "In fairness, I didn't believe in fairy tales and magic until recently. Why would religion be any different? … I don't know much about any religion, especially not yours. I'm also not trying to say you're wrong, and I am sorry for your loss; but if youkai don't really die... well, then maybe gods don't, either. So yes, I would, and I'd be grateful — hope is precious, after all — but I won't force the issue."

------------

"…In all fairness? I don't think I should." While your hackles are raised and you hear the baser parts of you screaming either to flee or attack, your spine stiffens enough for you to stand your ground. "Aren't you being a bit unfair to yourself? Have you already given up on that god that you said lived in your shrine?"

Reimu shoots you another glare, but she does not step towards you. "I don't think you know what you speak of. Stop talking about what happened as if you think you know."

While you are hesitant to do so, you raise a hand and shake your head, attempting to dispel her of the notion. "No, I don't mean something like that. I don't have any clue what happened… I can only share what I know." Snorting, you look down at yourself. "Take it this way. I didn't believe in fairy tales or magic or heroes or anything like that. It was something ridiculous, something that only children could believe in. I was forced to open my eyes and see what I had denied."

"Are you going somewhere with this?" Reimu taps her foot on the ground as she waits for you to keep going. "I have a feeling I know where you are going with this. You might as well spit it out."

"…Sure?" You return her look with a confused one of your own. It is rather mystifying why she is being so confrontational now. "I just wanted to point out that I am sorry that you went though that. To have your home and your family, much less your god, destroyed in front of your eyes… I cannot say I've seen anything that could compare."

"No, you haven't. That much I'll agree on." Her stick smacks on her palm once before she folds her arms. Her expression does soften a bit as she glances down. "Although, I've never had to change as you did. At least I am still with my facilities, without the urges that you would have."

"I'll see how bad they are. I've survived a short time. I will see how much longer I can." Sighing, you look back up at her as your wings droop down. "Just… Well, I'm not going to say that you are wrong. Just, if you say a Youkai of all things cannot be killed, at least not easily and thoroughly… Why would you say with such conviction that the god that you worshipped is dead without even a chance of it resurrecting?"

During the entirety of your little speech to her, Reimu continues to look away. Even when she finally responds, she does not look at you. "Sometimes I wish I could borrow the boundless optimism that you and Marisa have. Some things just can't come true, especially after what I've seen."

"Then it will never change." Seeking an opportunity to strike, you step forward and attack her weak point. "If you've given up on it, if you've stopped believing, then it will never come true. If you relegate yourself to being the shrine maiden without a shrine, you'll never earn it back. Do not expect that god of yours, wherever it might be, to come back if you do not at least try to believe in it."

Reimu hardly twitches as she grips her stick even tighter. "I have my reasons. As easy as it is to fling insults at me, you should understand why I'd take them." Reimu sighs and finally meets your eyes. "Now, I'll ask you to leave. There are things that I'll need to be doing, and not all is as pleasant as laundry."

"I suppose the blessing is out of the question then."

"…I can hardly call on the spirit of the kami to protect you anymore. I'll see what I can do, although my options are limited." She waves her hand forcefully, backing you up farther. "Now, need I help you?"

"I'll manage. …Thanks. Didn't mean to make you angrier." Again, Reimu waves you off, and you turn to open the door. Spotting the handle as you reach for it, you halt yourself and sheepishly ask her, "Could I possibly borrow a sock or something? I need to open the door…"

Soon, you are on the outside of the room and looking at the closed door in front of you. "What is with that girl… I had thought Akyuu would be a problem. She's hiding something. Just what in the world could it be…" Try as you might, neither shaking your head nor staring at the door provides any more answers.

"She merely does not wish to tell you why she is certain. Perhaps she is unable to communicate it. There is a litany of possibilities."

Feathers fly as you spring up and spin about, looking for the source of the voice. Try as you might, you find nobody at first glance. Once you look down, you finally spot a girl with blue hair staring up at you, her eyes unblinking. "What in the world… Who are you?"

"I am Felia. I am glad to finally meet you again." She smiles at you, although those deep pits of eyes never waver from her stare. "I am sorry your conversation did not end up going as well as you had hoped. By now, I imagine that you would be expecting such things."

"I suppose you might say that." You can't bring yourself to look away; instead, you return her steady gaze. "But who are you? What are you doing here…? You're young. Not as young as Layla…"

"Luckier than her, in some ways. She will be orphaned, so to speak, in a week's time. I will die before my sisters. That much I can tell. I find myself glad that I will not be the one dealing with the loss… And my sisters will be the stronger for it." The smile widens a bit, becoming creepier as the innocence fades. "The paths are not yet set in stone, but the concrete settles in its channel all the same. There is no way to deviate from them."

It takes you a moment to realize that your fist is balling up, as you and the beast agree on something. This girl is off. "What are you supposed to be, then? A soothsayer?"

"Originally, and currently, in a manner of speaking. However, I come to speak to you. I have waited for you to awaken."

"…Go on, then." For once you have someone coming to give you answers.

She nods her head, somehow maintaining eye contact even though her chin touches her chest. "The witching hour draws close. You will have until dawn."

Frowning, you lean closer to the girl, making sure that you hear every single word that she says. "So, is there something going to happen here that will preclude me staying here?"

"Perhaps. What happens is unclear. The when, however, is crystalline. You have until then." She pauses a second before looking away for the first time in an eternity. "Respite can be found underground, as stagnant light drives no foul creature into the shadows."

"Alright, now you're just being cryptic. Is there anything more concrete that you can say?" Grumbling, you glance up and down the hallway. "Or are you just pulling my leg by making up so many words at my expense?"

"My time is short. I don't have enough to joke around." She nods at you again before her smile shrinks back into something decidedly less frightening. "I may perhaps see you again. It is doubtful that it will be while I am on this Earth." At that, she turns about and heads down the hall, making her way towards the staircase at the end.

"…Is there anyone actually normal in this place? At least Marisa and Rika act like normal people." Sighing, you watch the retreating girl. "Felia! Is there anything else? Or are you just going to walk off without explaining?"

The girl stops in her tracts and spins about, her blue hair whipping at her face as she does. "There is nothing that I can explain. I see little, just enough. Words and ideas, not pictures and paragraphs. Some words I have more of than others. This, however… This is all that I have." At that, she turns back around and heads toward the stairs.

"Terrific…" Eventually the girl disappears. "Fantastic. Well, at least I've got something to do now besides wandering about aimlessly. …Something tells me I'll miss the peace and quiet…"

[ ] Find Marisa. You need to tell her.
[ ] Search for Rika. See what she knows.
[ ] Attempt to find Akyuu and tell her.
[ ] Tell Reimu- Probably best to leave her be.
[ ] Continue to go exploring, and search for someone on the way.
[ ] Go see if you can do anything for Rikako, while you have time.
No. 177352
[X] Find Marisa.

While I would like to talk to Akyuu about this, it sounds like it could be terribly important, she wouldn't believe us anyway.

At best we can tell Marisa about it and she can pass the message on.
No. 177357
[X] Find Marisa.

Damn, I thought we could go full-on Phoenix Wright with that.
But it's almost like there's black Psyche-Locks involved...
Alright, I'll stop with the Ace Attorney references now.
No. 177358
[x] Find Marisa

This seems like the obvious choice. Other then Rika, Marisa's the one we're most comfortable with. I'd also like to tell Akyuu, but it's probably be better if we go through Marisa first. The last two options are tempting, but might not be good ideas at the moment.
Warn Marisa first.
I am tempted to try and use our glamor on the way there though. Maybe try and make Lucas look like he did before as an experiment. Might want to wait till we're at Marisa's room first though.
No. 177360
>>177357
That would be appreciated, as I've never played those games before. Wouldn't know what you're trying to say there.
Wrong color.
No. 177362
>>177360
Gotcha.
Though I chose black for an AA reason: they literally 'lock' a secret away from the person keeping it, like selective amnesia.
No. 177429
>>177427