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202828
[-]Why are we even talking about this? We both agree Satori's our best bet for getting home, so we should concentrate on cracking the urban legend puzzle. If that doesn't pan out, then consider other options, but we shouldn't split our focus.

You're still a little off balance, from your injuries to dealing with Koishi and Satori to everything else going on in Gensokyo, but you do get where Sumi's coming from. It's a serious situation, one where she can't blast her way out through pure magical firepower, and she feels responsible for it. And she has a point in that what's best for the two of you would be to get home, regardless of how that's accomplished. You don't blame her for that, but at the same time, you can't agree. Satori needs your help, and you're her best if not only chance of fixing Koishi. What good is magical power if you can't make a difference with it?

But you won't make any headway with that argument against Sumi. She'd roll her eyes, call you an idealist, and point out that you've known Satori for less than twenty-four hours total. Which would all be true without doing anything to change your mind, and leave both of you arguing past each other. Fortunately, you don't need to have this fight now, because the right thing is also the strategic thing.

Sumi, keeping options open is one thing, but let's not risk plan A because you have to have a plan B.

Well, of course not. I'm not doing anything like that.

Really? Because as you may have noticed, Satori's a mind-reader.

Which is exactly why I went to these lengths to have this conversation in private.

Let me finish! She almost certainly knows you don't trust her, and while I don't think that actually bothers her, if you start making plans on how to escape Gensokyo while ignoring her sister, she would absolutely notice, and probably take it as a betrayal. And honestly, you think such a reaction would be justified, but let's stick to one can of worms at a time.

Sumi sounded exasperated. Gregor, give me some credit for intelligence. I'm not going to plan that sort of thing out in front of her.

That's just it, though. If you did make such a plan, all it would take is one stray thought to piss off our only ally. Or one of two allies, if counting Alice. You weren't really sure if she'd stick around for the long term. And let's face it, your mental discipline is alright, but it isn't that good. Nobody can avoid thinking about something like that forever.

Sumireko didn't respond immediately, and you took the chance to push another angle of argument. Not to mention, we both agree Satori's our best shot at getting home safely, so let's actually focus on that. And on that note, the solution to Satori's problem could help us too. If we can figure out how to get Satori the urban legend she wants, we'll be able to get ourselves any urban legend we want. And I know you've got a wishlist of ideas for that.

Sumi's silence turned thoughtful, and after a moment she smirked. Honestly, I kind of want to see what Koishi comes up with for you.

Please no.

Given her reaction on meeting you, I bet she does something connected to the Roach nickname.

That's disturbingly plausible. You're sure there's some sort of bug-based horror story out there. Something of your despair must have made it through the link, as Sumireko is giggling. She's trying to hide it, but that doesn't work too well when you're literally in her head.

After a minute or so she calms down. For real though, you've made your point. I agree Satori's our best bet for now, and I'm fine with focusing on the urban legend thing as long as it shows promise. Just don't get too attached, alright? I can't put my finger on it, but something about this entire Gensokyo trip feels wrong.

You can't really reassure her on that count, so you focus on her final statement. I'm not sure where you're going with that?

It feels like every single little thing has escalated far too quickly, but at the same time not? She hesitates. I mean, if the urban legend incident isn't really all that bad, if they're fine or even beneficial on average, then the reaction is too much; it doesn't make sense for this many people to be chasing after us. But if it is that bad, if urban legends are basically taking over and destroying youkai, then why the heck were Marisa and what's-her-name sandbagging against us?

Trying to take us alive? You're pretty sure a full-power Marisa would have killed you in short order. Maybe they want to force us to resolve the incident.

I don't know. Something about this whole thing still doesn't fit. I can't help but feel we're being played somehow.

You give her a mental shrug. Honestly, I don't see how the chaos we've been involved in could be anyone's master plan. Even aside from the insanity of someone trying to plan everything, what the heck would be the endgame?

Sumireko doesn't offer a response, and the conversation dies down. Eventually you prod her, thinking, Hey Sumi, if we're done talking about Satori and such, could you put the mental barrier down? I'd like to return to my own body now.

Oh, right! Sorry.

Sensation returns to you in a rush, and you abruptly realize that your body's position during that mental discussion had resulted in poor circulation.

Or to put it plainly, your legs were asleep, causing you to fall flat on your ass.

You doing alright down there, Greg?

You sigh and get up. Just basking in awe at your glorious presence. Or a really bad case of pins and needles.

Right. Well, while we're out here, we should actually test the cape.

Yeah, yeah, I've got you. You summon a couple weak streams of bullets, and Sumi starts dodging accordingly.

The testing itself is uneventful. You ramp up the bullets as much as you're able without going into any spellcards (you do still want to save energy), but as you'd hoped, the cape's actual controls were fine once reconnected, and your friend dodges everything with ease. So as things wind down and Sumireko finishes proving that you need better personal firepower, you consider the far more pressing question of what you're going to say to Satori.

[?] Write-in.
[X] Whats the tea sis?
[X] Want some tea sis?

Actually make tea too cause why not, drinking tea and talking is good
I'm thinking of two ways to go about this.
Either explain why you did the things you did, basically intellectually processing everything. This would be the usual go-to for Satori. It's what she receives easily.

The other is to lean into our own emotions, sharing them as they are, despite irrationality and illogicality. This is difficult and will be exasperating, but it's the thing that Satori needs to confront to grow out of herself and to get it.

I'm simply not sure whether we want to smooth the waters for the coming trip or if we actually want to keep going so she finally stops closing herself off from the world and starts to let people in.


Regardless of it all... Apologizing is a no-brainer. Tricky is to be specific about what to be apologetic for.
Invading on her personal space? Sure.
Going directly against her stated wishes? Absolutely.
Thinking what we think of her - regardless whether or not it was because of Koishi... I'm saying no.
Wanting to help her? Not referring to the Koishi situation, but wanting to help her. To stop wearing a mask, to stop keeping people at arm's length and to start being herself?
No.

Why the (former) heck are we so invested in this? As for me, I relate.
[X] Want some tea?

You could insert five paragraphs of self-indulgent monologue full of doubt and warm feelings or we can FINALLY PUT A BAND-AID ON IT
Point taken. VIscerally so :(

[x] Be a good lad and cheer the girl up over a cup of tea.
[x] Be a good lad and cheer the girl up over a cup of tea.
[x] Be a good lad and cheer the girl up over a cup of tea.
>>202839
Add
[x] Bring along the tiny Koishi
[x] Remember times Sumi cheered you up
[x] Be a good lad and cheer the girl up over a cup of tea.

With the cape-repair and testing finished, you all break for a quick lunch (courtesy of Alice), from which Satori is noticeably absent. Seeing an opportunity, you finish your meal quickly, and offer to deliver Satori's portion to her. Alice smiles in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, but her dolls prepare a tray, and she informs you that Satori's in the guest bedroom on the second floor. You're there now, armed with tea and grilled lamprey, but you're hesitating, trying to figure out just what you're going to say. Of course, apologizing is obvious, but there's a lot of directions that could go in after the initial 'sorry'.

"You do realize I can hear your thoughts from here, right?"

Also, you might be an idiot.

"Just come in before the food gets cold."

There's really nothing for it but to do as Satori bids you, so you open the door and head in with your precious cargo. Inside, Satori's standing over by the window, gazing out the window, with a handful of berries resting on the sill.

"Leave it over there, I'll get to it in a minute," Satori says, not even looking in your direction.

This doesn't really help your nervousness, but you put the tray on the end table and walked over towards Satori, who was focused on a pair of small birds perched on a tree just outside. You couldn't name what kinds they were, but one was blue and white, the other bright yellow with black wings, but both were watching her intently. After a moment's consideration, she took a pair of berries, tossing them out the window in slightly different directions. The birds took off instantly, each taking its berry of choice before flying off.

You honestly have no idea how to react to that. "So, were those magical birds of some sort?"

Satori chuckles, finally turning to you. "Even in Gensokyo, not everything is a harbinger of some mystic power. Those were perfectly normal birds."

Then why-

"Unlike people, animals are comfortable around me. They have nothing to hide, and enjoy having someone who understands them."

"Any animal?"

"Within reason. Not every species is smart enough to communicate, and with some the instincts are too strong for a person to be approachable. But for most of the ones you'd think of, yes."

"That's actually pretty cool," you say honestly. "But anyway, I did want to talk to you about something."

Satori sighs. "Ah, yes. The dreaded something."

"Believe it or not, everything scary is literally a 'something'."

"Greg, you know I know exactly where this is going. You've had variations of apologies running through your head for something like an hour now."

"Yes, I know you know I know." Or wait, should there be four know's in there? Satori's giving you a flat look, so you shake your head and move on. "But thoughts don't matter unless they translate into actions. I did a stupid thing, and I need to apologize for it."

She sat down on the bed, giving you a calculating look. "Is this apology for my sake or for yours?"

That stops you for a second. You can't deny that getting this over with and putting it behind you was a major motivating factor, but at the same time you never even considered that Satori might not want an apology. "If you really don't want me to apologize, then... I guess I won't? Though I would ask why."

"What's the point in saying something when I've heard every possible variation in your thoughts?"

"Knowing which of those variations I consider to be worth acting on. And quite frankly, even if both parties know something, it can still be worth saying." And then with a wry smile, you continue, "Or do you not plan to express your irritation at Koishi later?"

"I never get to plan out an encounter with my sister. When she shows up again, there will be more pressing problems than her past misbehavior. Even if she has to cause them herself." Satori sighed and sat down on the bed, crossing her legs and looking directly at you. "But very well. Say your piece, Gregor."

Alright then. You stay standing, folding your arms behind your back and meeting her gaze. "I'm sorry for kissing you like that. I didn't realize the spellcard would prevent me from casting an illusion, and at that point, kissing you was the only thing I could think of. Which I shouldn't have done, especially not after you warned me not to. So yes, I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

Satori raised an eyebrow. "Not going for anything in the way of self-justification?"

You sighed. "I considered it, but at the end of the day, I kissed you to get a reaction out of your sister. Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, there's no saving that."

Satori nodded, masking her expression, but doesn't respond. The silence drags out, and Satori turns her attention to her tea, grasping it in both hands and taking a sip. A long, slow, time-consuming sip. You bear the wait as best you can, doing your best not to fidget, or even think too impatiently. You're not really that good at it. In the end, Satori puts the cup down, and returns her attention to you, her expression still inscrutable.

"You know, in the Underground, there's an expression we use that applies to exactly this sort of situation."

"And that expression is?" you prompt.

She draws the moment out, leaning forwards before delivering the verdict: "It's probably Koishi's fault."

"What?"

Satori regards you calmly. "Greg, today has been a very trying day on several counts, but I'd be a fool not to recognize the role my sister played in things. All the teasing and subconscious prompting aside, she instigated the fight by trying to steal Alice's doll. Which reminds me, how are your ribs?"

"Numb," you respond, non-plussed. "Between the ice and the painkillers, I should be good to travel."

"Good. But as I was saying, your decision to kiss me was definitely provoked. So yes, I forgive you." Her expression turned wry. "And I take it you won't try anything like that again."

The relief actually hits then, and you trip over your words in your rush to reply. "That's good. I was worried- well, you seemed pretty upset earlier, and-"

Satori sighed. "Yes, I know. Like I said, it had been a long day. Don't worry about it."

"I won't." Or at least, you'd try not to within thinking distance of her. You knew you'd over-analyze this conversation the moment you were by yourself. "Anyway, we're going to head to Eientei once you've eaten. Sumi's cape is repaired, and Alice has her dolls armed and ready for action."

"Understood." She glances at the untouched meal. "I'll be down in a few minutes."

"Right. Thanks again, and sorry again. And just for the record, I promise I won't try to kiss you again," you say, turning to leave.

Unless she wants you to. You don't have the courage to say that part. You also know she heard it anyway. She doesn't reply, and you head downstairs to prepare for Eientei.

[x] To be continued.


------------ALSO-------------

If there's any last preparations you guys want to make before heading to Eientei, or any general strategizing for the trip there, now is the time to bring it up.
Who knew that the right response was the real-world equivalent of typing out "lel koishi" and rolling our face on a keyboard.

>If there's any last preparations you guys want to make before heading to Eientei, or any general strategizing for the trip there, now is the time to bring it up.
Bonk Sumi over the head. God knows she deserves it.
>Unless she wants you to. You don't have the courage to say that part. You also know she heard it anyway.
Oh no.

Anyways
[x] Get a book for Sumireko
[x] Fiddle around with puppet magic, just for fun.
---
[x] Get a yakitori stand owner to guide you
[x] Get a book for Sumeriko
[x] If there's a chessboard try and see if 3 minds united can beat a mindreader at chess.
[x] Get a book for Sumeriko
[x] If there's a chessboard try and see if 3 minds united can beat a mindreader at chess.
>>202847
>>202848
They are all going to leave for Eientei as soon as Satori is done eating. We don’t have time for a game of chess, especially considering the fact that a broken rib is not something that we should be ignoring. A broken rib is a serious injury, not something to procrastinate about in favor of board games.

[x] See if Alice will let you borrow a book for Sumeriko

Gotta read something in the hospital waiting room.
Not now but first chance we get.
[x] If there's a chessboard try and see if 3 minds united can beat a mindreader at chess.
Update delayed for a day; was behind on work for my actual job, and just didn't have the time to write.
No probs, totally understandable.
[x] On to Eientei!
[x] Borrow a book for Sumireko.

This was it. You were all equipped and ready to go. You had the sling, the icepack, and the newly repaired cape; Sumireko was wielding the backpack-copter, Alice had picked out a small army of dolls, and Satori... was just Satori. Regardless, you were finally on your way, and nothing was going to stop you... because as it turned out, the flight from Alice's house to the Bamboo Forest of the Lost was completely uneventful. You'd been half expecting to be jumped by Marisa, fairies, Reimu, or someone, but instead it was completely quiet and peaceful. Even though you were now well into the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, there was still no sign of any sort of hostiles, youkai or otherwise. Somehow.

"You've successfully escaped so far due to your competence with illusions," Satori pointed out. "It's not surprising the incident resolvers have no idea where you went."

"Yeah, fair enough," you say. Still, you can't shake the feeling that something was supposed to have gone wrong by now.

"We ran into both Alice and my sister in the Forest of Magic," Satori said. "That's already significantly more trouble than I expected."

It's a fair point. Koishi being Koishi is one thing, but the only reason Alice was on the lookout for you was that someone had sent her a warning...

"What do you think the odds are this Q. Nira tipped off someone in Eientei about us?"

Satori glanced up to where Alice was flying ahead, pathfinding with her dolls. "We've been through this already, Greg. It's possible, but it's a necessary risk. Fortunately, even if it has happened, the residents of Eientei are unlikely to care."

"Hm, maybe." Ahead you see Alice hold up a hand to signal a halt as she landed, closing her eyes in apparent concentration. The rest of you stop, though you elect to stay airborne. "No comment on anything, Sumi?"

She doesn't look up from her book. "Sorry, what was that?"

Well, at least she's finding it interesting. "Never mind," you say with a sigh.

You don't entirely blame her. Even with Alice using dolls to scout in every direction, you've ended up traveling in short bursts with long pauses. Sumireko had taken to reading the borrowed magic book during the first of those, and after the third pause without any action, had stopped putting it away for the short flights. At first you'd tried learning it with her, but Sumireko proved to have more natural talent for servant magic (you refuse to call it puppet magic), so you let her concentrate in peace. And with Alice completely concentrating on pathfinding, you were just idly spending time with Satori.

"Don't sound so disappointed."

You glance over in time to see her roll her eyes at you, and sigh. "I'm really just bored, Satori. I mean, I know this is vastly preferable to fighting every youkai in the land, but I do want to get to Eientei a little faster." And not just because the painkillers were starting to wear off.

"Boredom is something that won't happen much for you in Gensokyo. Cherish it while you can."

Hang on, don't Satori and Alice both spend most of their time alone or nearly so, full on introvert-style? Surely that can't be rivetingly interesting all the time.

"It's not. Hence why I said for you, and not in general." Satori smirked. "I have the luxury of going home and being bored at will."

"Damn," you said drily. "My jealousy knows no bounds."

And the conversation about died off at that. Another intermittent burst of social activity through the far lengthier waiting. You suppose it happens when the extrovert of the group is completely absorbed in a magic book. At least Alice agreed to lend you the thing.

Speaking of which, Alice seems to be getting closer to a decision. A handful of dolls have flown in from various directions, and she seems to be consulting with them? You're not really sure how that works; she's personally confirmed that the dolls don't have true sentience (heck, that's her entire goal from the urban legend incident), but she appears to be getting reports and giving orders the way a general would direct troops. Which would make the Koishi doll her attache, hovering around her at all times and even intercepting other dolls from time to time.

There's some amusing irony to the fact that the doll based off of Koishi is so eye-catching. Even now, it's pantomiming giving another doll a dressing-down, which the unfortunate target is just hovering there and taking, head bowed down. Up until the point where the Koishi doll finishes the silent lecture and shoes it away, before returning to its rightful place at Alice's shoulder.

And suddenly Alice brightens up, flying over to the rest of you. "Listen up, everyone. I've found it. I've got a trail of dolls leading there, and the rest are returning here now."

Sumireko slips the book into the backpack almost reluctantly, while you and Satori both are more visibly pleased. "Finally it's time," you mutter. "Sumi, did you get anything useful out of the book?"

"I'm good, but I'm not quite that fast. But give me an evening and I could have a puppet of my own dancing to my tune."

"Unnecessary," Satori states. "You already have Greg."

Sumireko cracks up, Alice hides a smile with the back of her hand, and you give Satori a flat look, which she is completely unbothered by. You sigh. "Alright, let's stick with the original plan..."

[-] Since Alice hasn't been identified as being part of the group, she should head in, get the medicine herself, and the rest of you can just wait out here and stay hidden. ((Switch to Alice PoV!))
[-] Safety in numbers. The four of you can just stick together, and that way you'll have enough firepower to deal with any possible threats.
[-] Let's leave Alice as an ace in the hole here. The rest of you can go in and get the medicine, and she'll wait out here. Having an ally nobody knows about is more important than having one more fighter available.
[x] Let's leave Alice as an ace in the hole here. The rest of you can go in and get the medicine, and she'll wait out here. Having an ally nobody knows about is more important than having one more fighter available.
[x] Safety in numbers. The four of you can just stick together, and that way you'll have enough firepower to deal with any possible threats.
let's not turn this into a B-rated horror movie where we get picked off one by one by those that know the forest better than we do
[x] Safety in numbers. The four of you can just stick together, and that way you'll have enough firepower to deal with any possible threats.

agreeded
>you refuse to call it puppet magic
Them's fighting words

[x] Let's leave Alice as an ace in the hole here. The rest of you can go in and get the medicine, and she'll wait out here. Having an ally nobody knows about is more important than having one more fighter available.

Deception, Trickery and surprises (and running away when needed).
[x] Let's leave Alice as an ace in the hole here. The rest of you can go in and get the medicine, and she'll wait out here. Having an ally nobody knows about is more important than having one more fighter available.
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202860
[x] Let's leave Alice as an ace in the hole here. The rest of you can go in and get the medicine, and she'll wait out here. Having an ally nobody knows about is more important than having one more fighter available.

The plan was simple. The three of you would head in, and obtain medical treatment. Meanwhile, Alice would wait outside. Within earshot, just on the off chance that you all ended up in combat and truly needed her help, but otherwise uninvolved. (There was, of course, the chance someone had spotted you all on the way here, but avoiding that was one of the reasons Alice's dolls had been scouting everywhere, and Satori hadn't detected anyone, so you figured you were good.)

With the mansion just barely in sight, you take a moment to thank your guide. "Thanks again for taking us all this way, Alice."

"Thank me by figuring out the urban legends," Alice said, though she smiled as she said it. "And by not starting another fight."

"I'm not the one starting any of these!"

The Koishi doll pointed to Satori and Sumireko. "It's called guilt by association."

"That hardly seems fair."

Satori didn't take her eyes off Eientei, saying, "Actually, considering the effects of the occult balls, you've indirectly started at least a hundred fights."

"Or maybe just being the mastermind," Alice corrected.

"If anything, I'm the mastermind," Sumi said. "Greg's just the lackey."

"Satori made that exact joke like thirty seconds ago," you complained.

Your supposed friend grinned at you. "Who's joking?"

"You realize that makes everything going on entirely your fault, right?"

Sumi considered that for a moment and shrugged. "It is an acceptable sacrifice in the name of magical science."

Alice gave her a dry look. "On second thought, thank me by keeping Sumireko in line."

"Hey!"

"If you're finished," Satori interrupted, "We should get going."

"Right. Satori, what am I looking at for illusion targets?"

"I'm sensing at least a dozen rabbits ahead."

Too many for any sort of mind manipulation to have a chance. You sigh and gather your concentration. "Of course. Light-bending it is, then. You're going to need to stay right by my side for me to keep this up."

It takes you a couple tries, but you manage to get a partial illusion over the three of you. You change up everyone's facial features slightly, hide Nitori's backpack, and swap your clothes to match the villagers you saw earlier. In another sense, keeping an illusion simultaneously cast over three people moving independently of one another is stretching your skill to its limit.

"Greg has the illusion stable, but only just." Satori turned to you. "Are you going to be able to hold it?"

"Yes. Just don't make any sudden movements, all right? Also, I'm not going to be able to cover sound while holding this, so be careful in front of anyone who might recognize your voice."

"Just like old times, huh?" Sumi smirked and started walking, calling back, "As long as we don't run into anyone who actually made the trip outside Gensokyo, we should be fine."

You and Satori follow, and as the bamboo opens up into a large clearing, the three of you get your first good look at Eientei. It was an enormous, old-fashioned Japanese mansion, managing to look both imposing and simple at the same time. Well, not simple, but restrained? Uncomplicated? The sloped roofs and wooden walls were clean, well-made, and well-maintained, but not adorned with anything fancy. Despite the mansion's enormous size (you can only see the front, and the forest's bamboo is hiding a lot of it), you get more of a sense of utility than luxury from it.

Speaking of which, a bamboo fence separates the mansion's grounds from the forest proper, though plenty of bamboo grows inside as well. Youkai rabbits are all over the place, whether milling about aimlessly, chatting animatedly, pounding mochi, or even racing around in a game of tag. There doesn't seem to be any particular order to the chaos, and you see Satori holding a hand to her head.

"I'm fine. Just a lot of noise."

"We need to find the actual pharmacy!" Sumi said, raising her voice to be heard. "Do we pull aside one of these rabbits, or..."

Satori grimaced. "I'm not sure, but I don't think they'll be helpful."

"You can't sense anything useful?"

Satori shook her head, pushing forwards. "It would be a needle in a haystack, if the haystack was loud and constantly reorganizing itself! Let's check the main building!"

The rabbits weren't so tightly packed to resemble a crowd, but they were very active, running back and forth across your path and forcing you to maneuver around a few groups of inconsiderate youkai. Which was both irritating and moderately painful from the jostling, but you were able to keep the illusion up as the three of you made it to the front door.

[x] To be continued...
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202866
The first thing you ran into noticed inside was a maid in the distance, talking with one of the youkai rabbits. As in literally, a young silver-haired woman wearing the classic french maid outfit. That itself didn't strike you as odd; maids and mansions go together like Sumireko and explosions. The fact that she was visibly injured and brandishing a knife was a little more unusual (not to mention disturbing), but that could just be a Gensokyo thing.

Then Satori stiffened and her grip on your arm tightened painfully, and you knew something was wrong. "Wait." she whispered. "Gregor, full veil, now."

"What-"

"Just do it!"

You don't ask any questions at that tone, swapping the disguise for a full veil (sound included in this one) while Sumireko looks over in puzzlement. "Seriously? It's just a maid."

Satori shot her a disdainful look. "And Reimu's just a shrine maiden. Sakuya is dangerous, and she's here about the urban legend incident. Now be quiet!"

Both of you shut up at that, and you creep closer to hear the actual conversation. The maid currently is currently holding the rabbit (which, with mild surprise you see is actually a boy) by an ear, who's fruitlessly trying to pull away.

"Ow! Stoppit!"

"I need to speak with Tewi," the maid said, completely calmly.

"I said I don't know where she is! She comes and goes whenever she wants! Go find Reisen or something!"

The maid lifted the rabbit ever so slightly, forcing him to stand on tiptoes, head awkwardly tilted into the grip. "The rabbit of good fortune, she's called. Granting luck to whoever sees her."

"You think she'll make you lucky for doing this?! You're nuts!"

"I make my own luck, rabbit. But as for you," she twirled the knife in her free hand, "you would be very lucky indeed if Tewi dropped by in the next few seconds."

"It's not like that at all," a new voice said.

Sakuya turned to look at the new arrival and smiled. "That's beside the point. You're here now."

So is that Tewi? In your peripheral vision you see Satori nod, so you take that as confirmation.

"Let him go already," Tewi says. "I am technically supposed to lead these rabbits, you know?"

"Of course. He's already served his purpose." Sakuya releases the unfortunate rabbit's ear, and he scampers off as fast as his legs will carry him.

"What do you want? Good luck won't help your master now, and Eirin already tried her hand at a remedy."

Sakuya stopped twirling her knife, standing up straight and glaring down at Tewi. "I am aware of that," she said. "You're going to do me a favor."

Tewi didn't immediately respond, and Sakuya continued. "You see, I had an absolutely fascinating conversation with Marisa earlier. Apparently, the perpetrators of the urban legend incident are in Gensokyo, and she managed to seriously injure one of them. Which of course, implies a need for medical treatment."

Oh no. "Now, I need to have a chat with these... lovely people," Sakuya's smile turned a few degrees sharper, "so you're going to let me know if anyone shows up."

"You realize I can't do that, right? A lot of people show up to Eientei for medical treatment."

"Well, I had to beat the details out of Marisa," Sakuya gestured to the burn on her side, "but I know exactly what you're looking for."

"The likely group is one man and two women, but one of them's an illusionist, so you can't trust that." Damn it. "However, the injury you're looking for is blunt trauma to the chest, consistent with a danmaku bullet." And that's something you can't disguise. Damn it.

Tewi shook her head. "Look, Reisen might feel compelled to help, but Eientei stays neutral in these kinds of incidents."

"Eientei may stay neutral, but you will not," Sakuya said, unperturbed.

"And why's that?"

"I'm not unreasonable. If there's a request you would ask of myself, Miss Patchouli, or Miss Meiling in trade, I will see it done."

"Anything?"

"Within reason."

Tewi hesitated for a gut-clenching moment, and sighed, looking down. "I can't. Eirin's gotten real big into doctor patient confidentiality lately, and I've pushed the line a little too much lately."

Sakuya's smile slipped. "It's unfortunate that you feel that way, but you will help me."

Tewi gave Sakuya a sidelong look. "Are you actually trying to threaten me? Here?"

Sakuya's eyes flashed red, and suddenly knives filled the air around Tewi. Not just a few either; at least a hundred knives, silver bladed and red handled were hovering in the air, all pointed at the rabbit youkai in a hemispherical ring of death.

Tewi put her hands on her hips and stared down the incoming barrage. "You won't. Kaguya would-"

Sakuya snapped her fingers, and Tewi's eyes widened. She started summoning bullets of her own just as the knives shot forwards and she disappeared into the middle of the storm of steel. You couldn't make heads or tails of what was happening inside that, but Tewi's bullets were getting fewer and fewer before vanishing entirely, and Sakuya (who'd been waiting calmly outside the knife-storm, though her eyes flickered red every so often) fixed her gaze on a specific point. The knives retreated for just a moment, long enough for you to see a glimpse of a shaking Tewi before charging in again. The first few waves were aimed around her instead of at her, grazing her on all sides, and just as the remainder were about to hit home, Sakuya's eyes flashed red again and the knives fell to the ground, motionless.

This did not mean Tewi was unscathed. The cowering rabbit's arms and sides were covered in small-to-medium sized cuts, and while nothing looked lethal, or even truly dangerous (aside from the threat of collective blood loss), that had to be painful. Not to mention terrifying.

"Only grazing wounds," Sakuya said conversationally. "How fortunate for you. But as I was saying, you're going to do me a favor."

Tewi got back to her feet, wincing. "So you're stronger than me. You're not stronger than my masters, and they won't stand for this."

"So what?" Sakuya said with a shrug. "If you want to run to the Lunarians after I have the culprits in hand, then fine. They'll express righteous anger, attempt to chastise me and Lady Remilia with danmaku, and we'll all laugh about it over tea afterwards. Perhaps I'll make some of those little carrot cakes you enjoy."

And then Sakuya's faked levity faded. "But make no mistake. If the culprits escape me because of you, I will kill you."

Suddenly Sakuya was behind Tewi, her knife gently massaging the rabbit's throat. "Am I understood?"

Tewi was shaking now, her eyes absolutely wide, and she nodded slightly.

Sakuya pulled the knife away from Tewi, who immediately pushed away from the maid, turning and shooting her a hateful glare. Sakuya took absolutely no notice and took out a book. "The pages of this book are removable and enchanted with tracking magic, courtesy of Miss Patchouli. When the culprits arrive, touch them with one of the pages, and I will handle the rest."

Sakuya tosses the book at Tewi, who lets it drop to the floor and stares at it. "There are other leads I need to investigate. Just do your part, rabbit, and you won't have anything to worry about. Oh, and you should probably sneak some medicine for yourself before the other residents notice your wounds."

The maid prepares to leave, as Tewi reluctantly picks up the book she left. You should really do something, quickly.

[-] Abandon ship. This is too dangerous, if Sakuya predicted your movements, others could too. You'll just have to do without medical treatment.
[-] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
[-] Use the veil to creep around Eientei, try to steal medicine without being noticed.
[-] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
[-] Use the element of surprise; attack Sakuya now.
[?] Write-in?
[X] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.

Thanks doc
[X] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
She might live on earth, but hopefully she's still a moonie where it counts, if a little more selective with what kegare she removes.
[-] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.

or. If the votes are falling into it.

[-] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.

I'm not too convinced on the former option being a good idea. As we're unsure of how much Eirin and Tewi actually are on terms of general relationships. Since iirc Eirin and co. are "intruding" on Tewi's domain, so they leave her be to her own devices.

Seems like it would be a coin-toss on whether she actually helps Tewi or not. Either she'd go "it's her problem." or she'd see it as an indirect attempt on the reputation of Eientei itself and act then. Which would benefit us.

Which is why if the votes shift, I'd go for talking with Tewi directly. That way we can hopefully gain access to the book itself and see what we can do with it. We already know it has a tracking spell on it. Maybe we can reverse-engineer it and b a c k t r a c e it as a method of keeping tabs on other characters. or Just disarm it. Or plant it on timed activation on a dummy target with a trap for Sakuya.
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.

I say Twei's luck is broken. The way I see it is that we would be discovered by her eventually and we would bring the issue up to Eirin even if we choose to not talk to her which would help her situation abit.

Lets talk to her, an enemy of an enemy is a potential friend after all.

Also, damn quite the waste for a perfect ambush, tho if the votes are close, I will switch.

The only thing I am worried about is Alice.
Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.

Not sure that's a good option since A- we aren't really affiliated with her yet. B- That'd imply trying to sneak past Tewi or just walking into Eientei right? and C- the odds she'll simply go "So if I tell the others where you are, then I'd have no more problems" with her cold logic.

So I'm voting for [x] Tewi's definitly helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, ask her if she's allright and if we may enter Eientei for medicine. (Asking her to mislead or trap Sakuya gives her the risk of being knifed again but eh why not).
[X] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate
"Just a maid", said the 'just a highschool girl' who threw Gensokyo into chaos by mere accident.

[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.

Call out for tewi Good fortune be on our side.
[X] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.

Ambushing Sakuya is the only way we'd have anything more than snowball's chance in hell of taking her down. Any pressure relieved is worth it.
>>202873
You know what? This is the one time this vote may actually work as a write-in.
Changing >>202872 to

[x] Call out to Tewi
[X] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
[X] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
-[x] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
Why not both?
>>202878 True. No reason we can't introduce ourselves to the rabbit and then tell the doc.

Add to>>202873 -[x] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
-[x] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
That Anon had a point. We can always approach Tewi and later tell Eirin what happened.
>>202870
Switching to
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
-[x] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.

Thanks for the idea Anon
No. 202876
Switching to
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
-[x] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.
updates when
Whenever the writer feels like it.

But same, I'm awaiting the next part warmly too.
[x] Tewi's definitely not helping willingly. Talk to her after Sakuya leaves, see if you can enlist her help in misleading the maid or drawing her into a trap.
[x] Find Eirin, tell her about Sakuya threatening her subordinate.

There'd been a lot of craziness since you'd come to Gensokyo. But despite everything from a laser-wielding kleptomaniac magician to a kappa controlling two Loch Ness Monsters, you hadn't really felt that danger. Sure, you'd been scared at times, in danger pretty frequently, and taken a fairly serious injury, but the whole adventure had felt more dangerous than deadly. There may have been monsters out to get you, but you were pretty sure they weren't going to kill you.

This was different. That maid just now, that was killing intent if you'd ever seen it. And it was directed at a bystander, just to get to you. You were more than a little shaken, and uncomfortably aware of your current injury, from Marisa toying with you earlier... and if Sakuya wasn't lying, she'd just beaten Marisa. A feat which seemed all too plausible; you weren't even sure what it was she just did with those knives. And while Sakuya hadn't necessarily indicated she planned to kill you, you were damn sure she wasn't inviting you over for tea.

But there wasn't time to dwell on that. Thankfully, Sakuya had no idea you were here, and looked to be relying on Tewi here to inform her. If you could subvert that and get Tewi on your side, you could either bait the maid into a trap, or maybe even avoid dealing with her altogether. Except her cooperation was being coerced via death threat, so you'd need to convince her you could keep her safe.

Also, you needed to actually be able to keep her safe, what with her being an innocent bystander in danger due to your presence. Kind of important, that. Except for that to work, you'd need to be able to beat Sakuya, which you were more than a little uncertain about.

You did at least have time to think about it. By unspoken agreement, the three of you were following Tewi under your veil as the rabbit snuck around Eientei. Which didn't stop Sumireko from expressing her own uncertainty with characteristic subtlety.

"Satori, who the hell was she? Why is there a demon-maid after us?"

"Sumi, my veil doesn't-"

"I'm muffling the sound, Greg," she cut you off.

Well, at least she hadn't overlooked that. Come to think of it, needing to cast that first was probably the only reason it'd taken her this long to speak up. Satori sighed. "That was Sakuya, chief maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Which is actually owned by the vampire Remilia Scarlet. I did not bring her up because I had no idea she would be here."

The idea of a youkai serving as a maid was an odd one. Let alone one who could teleport and summon knives like that.

"She's human, and that's not her ability. She stops time at will, and can move freely while time is stopped."

Sumi glared at her. "Please tell me that's a bad joke."

Satori met the look with an emotionless stare, and you could actually feel your heart sink. "Damn. Did you get anything useful from her?"

"Not that I couldn't have guessed from the conversation itself. Her mind was too disciplined."

"Of course it is." Sumi swore a few times, just from the pure principle of the thing. "What else? Superhuman strength? The ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

Satori held up a hand to stall the snark. "Just the standard flight, and she's as fragile as any human. If you can hit her, she will go down."

"Great, so we just have to land a solid hit on someone who can stop time."

"Which would mean taking her by surprise... and you know, we do have a means of baiting her," you said, gesturing to the book Tewi was holding.

Sumireko facepalmed. "Greg, that's literally the riskiest thing we could possibly do! Why on earth would we volunteer for a fight with the demon maid when we can just sneak around, avoid Tewi entirely, and get out? She all but said even know Eirin won't turn us in!"

"Sumi, you're thinking short-term. Sure, it might be easier to avoid Sakuya for now, but odds are she'd catch up eventually. And we've got Marisa and Kasen and all those others to worry about too! This is a chance to build up some goodwill with Tewi, and all of Eientei by proxy. And even aside from the point where they're supposed to be really powerful, I'd like to be on good terms with the people who can patch us up."

"Sanity check," Sumi stated. "Satori, would that even work?"

Satori shrugged. "I haven't met the Lunarians personally, but I would think so. The problem is defeating Sakuya. She's extremely dangerous, and from what I picked up, she's prepared to ignore the spellcard rules."

"We can get her the same way we dealt with Kasen. I'm the bait, you two stay veiled, and you hit Sakuya as hard as possible without any warning. If there's one thing illusions are really good at, it's creating opportunities for a cheap shot."

Sumi nodded thoughtfully. "It is how we've solved all of our problems so far."

Well, not quite all of them... you remember an incident involving a certain Koishi, and do your best to avoid blushing. Satori glances at you and sighs. "There's still that injury of yours, Greg. You really shouldn't provoke anything until it's healed."

Sumi nods more emphatically. "Agreed. We're pushing our luck enough as it is."

"I am completely okay with getting medical treatment first," you reassure them. "But to be clear, we're all onboard with trying to lure Sakuya into a trap?"

Satori nodded immediately, while Sumireko visibly thought about it for a long minute first. "It's dangerous, but I think that's par for the course now."

Well, that's consensus. But which one do you talk to first?

[-] Tewi. She's the one most directly affected, and she's right here.
[-] Eirin. This lets us get medical treatment directly, and also avoids the risk of Tewi just tagging us with the trackers in a panic.
[-] Kaguya. She's the one directly in charge, and she might be more sympathetic than Eirin.
Anyway, for the record, I'm glad people are eager for updates (no, seriously, it's great to see anons are engaged), but I'm afraid changes to my RL responsibilities mean my update schedule's going to be slowed down a bit. I can't pull the "Stay up until 4 AM to finish an update" trick any more, and that means they'll be a bit more spaced out, especially now that we're getting to more important decisions.

We'll see how it shakes out, but I'm currently aiming for updates twice a week.
[X] Kaguya. She's the one directly in charge, and she might be more sympathetic than Eirin.

Kaguya treats eintei like her family so naturally she would’nt be cool with the death threat plus shes less clinical than Eirin.

no probs man
[X] Call out to the white hare of Inaba. A courteous Invitation to good luck.

I invite good luck to you too, Author. Don't wreck yourself trying to get both obligations of daily life and story updates done in time.
Or at least don't push yourself too much.
[x] Eirin. This lets us get medical treatment directly, and also avoids the risk of Tewi just tagging us with the trackers in a panic.

Obligatory TASUKETE EIRIN~
My first instinct would go to be with Tewi, but >>202890 made a fine point. 'Guya it is.
[X] Kaguya. She's the one directly in charge, and she might be more sympathetic than Eirin.
I'm >>202892
I meant >>202889, not >>202890
Clicked the wrong number.
[x] Voting for Eirin first.

We know what Tewi was instructed to do by Sakuya and if her first reaction on seeing us after talking to Eirin is try to give us the book then it would become clear that she has no intent to help us out.

On the other hand if she hesitates or simply doesn't do it, then bam that makes her a bit more trustworthy.

Also Eirin is like the big facto boss of the whole building if I remember, she handles everything while the Princess though loved may not have any real authority in the place other than her status.

I think it's best to speak with the Huge Honcho now.
*Talk to Eirin first of all

Also don't worry Writer, just write whenever you feel like writing and let your real life set smooth sail.

We'd hate if you started seeing updates as an obligation and so lose inspiration if not interest in continuing (Since then it would become a chore in itself).

Take all the time you need and to an wonderful adventure.
counter point to https://www.touhou-project.com/th/res/202828.html#postform

if Kaguya wants something Eirin would get it.

But you are right for if this plan is to run smoothly, Eirin needs to be apart of it.
I see your point but one more thing: What do we know about Kaguya anyway?

She's only been namedropped by Tewi once, while she had also said that Eirin won't snitch on us.

So from my perspective it'd make more sense for Greg to go for that rather than use info he shouldn't already have about a person he never met.
The stated reasons to choose Kaguya are all meta-knowledge.
All the same, the Tewi vote is influenced by it too, so...? Voters can have any reason for their votes, from wanting the best outcome to acting like the character would. (In actuality I wanted to pick up from the Memes from thread 1)

In terms of story-writing, picking Kaguya can be chalked up to a hunch, be the result of a 'lucky' turn of events or whatever. Anything's plausible and we're likely to have success either way given who we are in the vincinity of right now.
>>202899
Addendum:
All that's to say, that OP gave us the option to choose it, so he's (likely) prepared to present reasons why Greg would do so in the story.
As an aside, the most engaging turns of the story were the results of the most sudden >>202615 and outlandish and controversial >>202652 votes, which yet managed to be explained by in-character reasoning and for in snugly in the flow of the plot.
This is all a reflection of the capabilitiy of Soul as writer. OP managing to make anon's choices make sense lets me make the choices I want, rather than feeling forced into anything as a voter.
Welp you got me there.

If that's how it works then I don't see any point in contesting against the Kaguya option since now it makes sense to me. (Just looked odd at first glance)

And naturally everyone is free to vote for who they want no doubt about that.

So I'll just wait and see what will happen now.
Also thanks for the clarifications.
[x] Call out to Tewi

[x] Call out to Tewi
[x] Call out to Tewi

you CANNOT stop this tidepiss
File 16282652819.jpg - (29.83KB, 480x480, Memes.jpg) [iqdb]
202903
>>202900
[...]fit in snugly in the flow[...]
[...]capability of Soul as a writer.

This is what I deserve for being a degenerate phoneposter.


>>202902
My man, my brother.
[X] Tewi. She's the one most directly affected, and she's right here.
By my count, that makes it a tie between Tewi and Eirin, with Kaguya one vote behind. Hoping to actually write some time tomorrow, so if there's not a tiebreaker by then I'll just pick one.
[X] Tewi. She's the one most directly affected, and she's right here.

Guess I'll break the tie then.
File 162849000127.jpg - (112.21KB, 800x800, Inaba_Tewi_full_925893.jpg) [iqdb]
202911
[X] Tewi. She's the one most directly affected, and she's right here.

The obvious candidate was Tewi, considering she was was the one Sakuya threatened, and she was right there. And the obvious way to contact her was by just dropping the veil and introducing yourself. But she seemed skittish (not surprising, she was literally a frightened rabbit!), and you didn't want to take the chance of her panicking and bolting, or worse, tagging you with that tracking spell gave her. So, you'd just stay hidden and send her a telepathic message, at least until you were sure she'd cooperate. And since you didn't want to risk managing telepathy and the veil while flying, that meant waiting for her to slow down.

This took a while, on account of Eientei being unreasonably huge. Tewi scampered across various corridors, mostly on foot but occasionally flying out a window or clearing, and keeping up with her ended up being a serious effort. If not for the rabbit's need for stealth, you probably couldn't have kept up, but as it was the repaired cape kept you within tracking range until she stopped in a side corridor. This area seemed almost exactly the same as all the other corridors you'd been down; tall windows with giant curtains veiling the afternoon sunlight, elegant wooden benches and desks placed at regular intervals, with the occasional vase, painting, or tapestry to break the monotony. The exception was the door Tewi was stopped in front of, which was solid steel, with an honest to goodness padlock on it. A lock which Tewi was currently picking. Seizing the moment, you landed by one of the windows, Satori and Sumireko close behind, and sent Tewi your elegantly crafted opening line.

Hey, Tewi. Can we talk?

Tewi yelped, jumped a foot in the air, and fired off a trio of danmaku bullets that just happened to go in your general direction. They weren't all that aimed, and you were able to noiselessly sidestep as the bullets crashed into the wall behind you. One hit the floor, one hit the wall, and one hit the bar holding the curtains, knocking it loose, causing the curtain to fall on top of you, and rendering your veil completely useless.

"That," you say, "is incredibly unfair." The fact that Satori and Sumi were not revealed by virtue of not standing in that particular spot doesn't exactly help your mood.

Tewi is staring intently at you, clutching the book tightly in one hand and pointing the other one at you like she's holding an invisible gun. Though considering how danmaku works, she kind of is. You drop your portion of the veil (keeping your friends hidden) and brush the curtain off of you, sighing. "I guess we're doing it this way then. Again, can we talk?"

"You're the one behind the urban legend incident." It wasn't a question.

"What gave it away," you ask drily. "The broken rib, the timing, or the part where I'm a guy?"

She relaxes slightly, but arm and book are both pointed threateningly in your direction. "The illusion, actually."

You nod. "Right, Sakuya did tell you about that." That gets a reaction out of Tewi, her eyes widening and her arms shaking a bit.

You're tempted to comfort her, tell her the urban legends were an accident, that you'd had no idea about Sakuya, and so on and so forth... but is that the right call here? It might be better to fake confidence instead.

[-]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
[-]Be confident. Above everything else, you need to convince her that you can deal with Sakuya. If that means playing up your own capabilities and resources, so be it.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.

Rabbits bolt when frightened, or something
Greg's a good lad so this is a natural choice.

[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.

Don't think Tewi would fall for our bullshitting anyways.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.

if we don't headpat her by the end of the day we're doing it wrong
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
-[x]But do so from a safe distance. Wouldn't want to get into page smacking distance.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
-[x]But do so from a safe distance. Wouldn't want to get into page smacking distance.

We're still patting the bun later.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
-[x]But do so from a safe distance. Wouldn't want to get into page smacking distance.
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
-[x]But do so from a safe distance. Wouldn't want to get into page smacking distance.
I'll be perfectly honest and admit that I am impatient and skittishly waiting for a - capital U - Update.
All the while I hope you are well and life is isn't kicking your butt too much. I'd really appreciate a short - lowercase u - update on how (or whether) things are coming along.

[x] Be empathetic. Ask OP how he's doing and wish him good tidings.
[x] Be empathetic. Ask OP how he's doing and wish him good tidings.

ahe
ehuehuehahehe
[x]Be empathetic. You need to calm down the frightened rabbit and convince her that you're not an enemy.
-[x]But do so from a safe distance. Wouldn't want to get into page smacking distance.

You aren't going to lie to Tewi. Partially because you're not confident you can lie effectively (Sumi and Satori both seem to have far better poker faces than you), but mostly because you don't want to trick the rabbit into helping you. Not when her life is potentially at stake. All that said, you're not going to be an idiot about it. You've got a little something at stake here too. Fortunately, being sincere doesn't mean you can't be persuasive.

"Tewi, I..." False start. You sigh, holding a hand to your head. "For the record, I am sorry. Urban legends were an accident. I never meant for anything like that whole thing with Sakuya to happen. Honestly, it was luck that I stumbled across her threatening you. I didn't exactly plan that."

Tewi relaxes slightly, but is still staring directly at you. "So what, are you turning yourself in?"

"Not quite, or at least not immediately," you say. "Don't get me wrong, I want to help, but I do have a vested interest in not dying."

"That doesn't work," Tewi said bluntly. "Sakuya made it very clear it's either you or me."

You can't help but glance down at the book she's holding, and hold up your hands placatingly. "Look Tewi, I'm not trying to hang you out to dry. Heck, even if I did manage to sneak around you or grab medical treatment somewhere else, I'd have to deal with Sakuya sooner or later. But why let her dictate the terms of engagement?"

Tewi looked you up and down, her gaze lingering on your sling. "The terms could include Sakuya being blindfolded, and she'd still kick your ass."

"In a fair fight, yes," you emphasize, "but who said anything about fighting fair? You're supposed to be this sneaky, right-place, right-time youkai, aren't you? Let's use that and ambush her!"

"And what happens afterwards?" Tewi challenged. "Even if you somehow beat her, Sakuya won't give up. And if I help you, she'll come after me."

You honestly weren't sure what to do about Sakuya long term. Short of killing her, you weren't sure what you could do. But you did have an answer to one of her concerns. "Only if she knows you helped me. If you, hypothetically, had only seen me after I got healed, and tagged me with one of those tracking pages after that, Sakuya comes running. And if, further hypothetically, I just happened to be ready for trouble anyway, with my allies nearby, well, that has nothing to do with you, right?"

Of course, your allies were already nearby. In point of fact, they were invisibly listening in on this very conversation, and you had a feeling Sumi would probably tell you how you should have handled it differently later.

"And if you lose?"

"Then that also wouldn't be your problem. But I've got some tricks planned."

Tewi gave you another long look, tucking the tracking book under one arm. She steps back a few paces, floating up into the air. "Prove it. If you think you can handle Sakuya, you should be able to deal with this."

Before you can object, Tewi shoots out an incredibly dense spiral of bullets that forms into a rough sphere. As they come outwards, they're braking into curved waves drifting in different directions. Better think fast.

[-] Deal with it legitimately. Fly through the danmaku like a normal Gensokyo resident would.
[-] Counter it with a spellcard. Even with all the recent practice, this looks like a tricky pattern, and you'd rather play it safe.
[-] Cheat blatantly. Let an illusion do the dodging while you hide under a veil and out of range.
[-] Cheat even more blatantly. Get Sumi or Satori to cast something impressive while veiled and you can pretend you did it.


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Apologies for the delay on updating! The good news is, I hit a pretty good milestone as far as my actual job goes, so I should be able to devote a bit more time to this now.
[X] Cheat even more blatantly. Get Sumi or Satori to cast something impressive while veiled and you can pretend you did it.
Doesn't matter how impossible something is if you arent there to be hit by it. This "ambush sakuya" plan sure is starting to sound a lot more like "kidnap every single person in gensokyo the same way you did nitori" though.
[X] Cheat even more blatantly. Get Sumi or Satori to cast something impressive while veiled and you can pretend you did it.
Calling, raising, going all-in or pulling (both) aces out of our sleeve?

I feel like calling. Tewi is already seriously considering going along with our plan, now she wants to be sure she won't get skinned once she actually does so.
Honestly, I'm just hoping we'll get lucky by being straightforward as we were when we met Alice (and this time it's not play at Tewi's ability) - even once after we get pelted by her danmaku.
I mean, an illusionist that won't use illusions though he has everything to lose? If not desperate, nor confident he must be plain stupid - and honest.

[x] Deal with it legitimately. Fly through the danmaku like a normal Gensokyo resident would.
[x] Cheat blatantly. Let an illusion do the dodging while you hide under a veil and out of range.
[X] Deal with it legitimately. Fly through the danmaku like a normal Gensokyo resident would.
[X] Cheat blatantly. Let an illusion do the dodging while you hide under a veil and out of range.

Might as well practice our "dodging" skills.
[-] Cheat even more blatantly. Get Sumi or Satori to cast something impressive while veiled and you can pretend you did it.
shine
[x] Cheat even more blatantly. Get Sumi or Satori to cast something impressive while veiled and you can pretend you did it.

Honest in discourse, dishonest in battle.
[x] Deal with it legitimately. Fly through the danmaku like a normal Gensokyo resident would.
-[x] Always be ready to cheat blatantly. Let an illusion do the dodging while you hide under a veil and out of range.
-[x] If your veil and the illusion somehow fails for who knows what reason, counter it with a spellcard. Maybe increase your intensity of your spellcard depending on how your situation is, over the course of the battle.
-[x] And finally, if you’re at the edge of losing your battle of wills and wits, always be ready to utilize your allies, Sumi or Satori, eating popcorn in the bushes over there and unintentionally becoming closer while watching your battle with Tewi gleefully.

First off, we want to show that we are willing to fight normally like everyone else. However, we also want to show that we are willing to use underhanded tricks to achieve victory or at least escape from our opponents and that we always have a fall back plan. That is, if Tewi even survives this long…

And finally: [̶x̶]̶ ̶B̶u̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶T̶e̶w̶i̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶c̶r̶e̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶a̶t̶t̶l̶e̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶n̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶h̶e̶r̶.̶
If only I could change my posts...
>>202944
Change "counter it with a spellcard" with "use a spellcard".
Im No. 202931I think
either way I voted for cheat blatantly and I’m changing to the above write-in.
>>202938 here
Changing to the write-in. I like this plan.
[X] Cheat blatantly. Let an illusion do the dodging while you hide under a veil and out of range.
File 162909583723.png - (2.61MB, 1350x1226, Screen Shot 2021-08-16 at 2_36_37 AM.png) [iqdb]
202949
Well, that's a pretty even split across playing fair, various forms of cheating, and starting fair before escalating to cheating, so...


[x] Start fair, resort to tricks as necessary.

You think you can handle this one. Those bullets are tightly packed, they're coming from multiple directions, and there's several waves coming in quick succession, but there's a key weakness you can exploit: Those subsequent waves are following the exact same path as the original. It's not about mobility or grace, it's about figuring out where a safe spot is and staying there.

That's still easier said than done, but you do get it done, and squeeze between the first few waves without getting hit. It's at this point where you remember you should probably be firing back, and you belatedly fire up a stream of your own bullets. Tewi doesn't particularly attempt to dodge, taking them head on as she continues firing.

It's not all quite the same; after the first set of waves, she fires a much looser spread of red bullets, but those are child's play to dodge, except oh wait they're overlapping. Damn! You fly backwards to keep pace with the wave for a good ten feet until you see a different safe spot, sliding into that one and dodging both sets of bullets at once.

Tewi doesn't look particularly impressed, but you've more or less got the hang of this pattern, and after a few repetitions of this, she breaks it off and starts something different.

It's the same general theme. Multi-colored circles of crisscrossing bullets that expand outwards while coming at you from different directions. Blue and red while they're still spinning in a circle, and green and purple once they're actually coming for you. Except now they're actually staggered, and there's much less of a break between waves. You take a moment to consider the dodging involved, take a second moment to remind yourself that yes, you've still got that broken rib, and a much smaller fraction of a moment to decide screw that.

Considering you're still maintaining the veil for Sumi and Satori, you're not really up to the precision you'd need to seamlessly disappear while summoning an illusion exactly where you were, continuing the exact motion you had been doing. So you cheat. (If illusions are already cheating, does this make it cheating at cheating?) You use a bright flash of light to blind Tewi for a moment, disguising it as you dismissing your the bullets you were firing. As you do so, you disappear under the veil, while an illusion of you materialize and starts dodging for you. Not only can you resort to the much easier mental illusion for this, the illusion's actions are almost automatic, as Tewi knows exactly how the attack can be dodged, and you don't have to figure that part out yourself.

Well, except for, you know, avoiding the attack yourself. Unfortunately, Tewi's spray of bullets is more or less omni-directional, so the only thing that'll actually trivialize it for you is either a barrier or distance. Fortunately for you, now that you're under the same veil again, you spot your friends having already opted for the former, as Sumi's conjured up one of those large interstate signs and is using it as a shield. It's a tight fit, as you're all pressed against the wall to make it less noticeable, but it'll work.

"How'd you hide the sign?" you ask Sumi as you squeeze behind the cover. "My veil wouldn't have covered a conjuration of that size."

"She can't answer," Satori said. "She has a harder time with illusions than you, especially because she's trying to make it look like the bullets are passing through as normal."

"But that would be the natural assumption?" you point out. It's much easier to make someone see what they expect to see, and Tewi no doubt would expect the attack to go through uninterrupted. Unless... "Sumi, you didn't light-craft this, did you?"

There's a moment of silence, and Satori eventually answers, "She claims she didn't want to risk someone else stumbling on the confrontation."

You can't help but grin. "Which is why you light craft to hide the sign, and then use a mental illusion to fix the bullets. Anyone who wanders across this would just focus on the fight anyway."

Sumi shoots you an irritated look, but you can tell she took the advice because she responds herself. "Stop looking smug. This wouldn't be a problem if you could actually diplomacy."

"Hey, she's shooting at me to test my skill, not to kill me. This counts as progress." At least, assuming your (rather dashing) illusion's dodging would convince her to work with you.

Satori shook her head. "It's not a test in the way you think. Tewi's not sure whether to work with you alone, get the Lunarians involved, or simply tag you and be done with it, so she's testing her luck."

A stray bullet was close to curving around the shield's edge, and Sumireko jerked it to the side to actually block it. "If she's playing games, she's pushing her luck alright," Sumireko muttered, adjusting the sign's angle slightly.

Satori shook her head. "She's not concentrating on the fight, she's exerting her power to give herself good luck."

You thought it was odd she hadn't declared a spellcard. You glance up at the rabbit, who has shifted into a third attack pattern, this one featuring fast waves of bullets between lasers. "What does good luck for her even mean in this situation?"

"I don't know," Satori said. "She doesn't have a single outcome in mind, and her power seems to work by instinct."

"Isn't it obvious?" Sumireko said, scowling in Tewi's general direction. "She wants to save her own skin. If Greg gets hit and she tags him, problem solved."

That was a sobering thought, even more so when Satori nodded. "That's one possibility," she said, "but not her only idea. For instance, she only intends to get the Lunarians involved if one of them stumbles across the scene here."

"Does she have any idea-"

"No. She thinks she's fighting the real you, and has no idea we're here," Satori confirmed.

"Then we could make our own luck," you suggest. "I stall things out here, and then we have one of you show up dramatically, or even bring in Eirin or Kaguya yourselves."

Sumi gave a sharp nod at that. "Let's go for shock and awe. We already know that works on her."

Somehow, you suspect that this is just going to end up as Sumireko's turn bullying the bunny. If it works it works, but even still...

Satori glances at you with a wry smile, and suddenly stiffens. "Wait. Someone's coming."

"Who?"

"I don't know yet. Two people, they've heard the danmaku, they're flying this way. The first is giving off worry, concern, some righteous anger, while the second", Satori gasps and staggers.

"Satori!" You grab her shoulders, giving her support, and she takes a few deep breaths.

"I'll be fine, but that was... I don't know what that was."

Sumi made a grab for your arm and attention. "Gregor! The fake you fighting Tewi is a mental illusion! Whoever's coming won't see it!"

Oh, damn. You should... what should you do here?

[?] Write-in. (Choose carefully on this one.)
Satori doesn't know who it is...
For what it's worth my guess is it's Reisen because of the normal thoughts of worry and anger and Eirin, since I'd imagine the thoughts of the brain of the moon are quite capable of making a mind reader flinch and stagger.
Though it could just as well be Kaguya with fresh memories of a fight with Mokou.

If I learned one thing from the mind reader's sister it's that suddenly appearing behind someone leaves a lasting impression

[x] Sneak behind the rabbit yokai, ruffle her hair, gently tell her to calm down because people are coming and be ready to dodge her panicked danmaku shots.
[x] Keep the ruse up from there, depending on who it is. (If they are affiliated with Eientei, stay. If not, make for a getaway - with Tewi) Be aided by telepathic advice and information from your magician and Satori friends.
Hey Lost Soul, could you please provide us the range of the number of seconds we have to make our choice before they embrace, pummel, obliterate, or fling us?

:-: ':' ="= \v/
':' ":" (-) <=>
:-: ':' ="= \v/
File 162916840417.png - (336.09KB, 640x360, Lets watch my favorite part again.png) [iqdb]
202952
Sakuya really didn't seem like she wanted anyone to know that she was threatening to kill Tewi. Lets make sure whoever is coming knows that Sakuya was threatening to kill Tewi.

[x]Let Sumeriko focus on veiling all of you, while you concentrate on swapping your mental illusion for a light and sound based one.
[x] When whoever is coming gets close, make your illusion self pull out a projector, and embrace your inner security camera by projecting an illusion of what you saw Sakuya doing to Tewi earlier on the wall.
-[x] Place special emphasis on Sakuya threatening to kill Tewi, by repeating it over and over in quick succession
-[x] Also throw in a projected illusion of how you were reasoning with and not threatening to kill Tewi

Judging by the fact that one of the people coming is exuding concern and worry, they are probably Tewi's friends. They probably won't be too thrilled about Sakuya threatening to kill Tewi. Any enemy of our enemy is a friend of ours.
Satori's range is pretty good, it's a long freaking corridor, and they aren't in sight yet. This is somewhat countered by the fact that Touhou flight is also pretty fast. I'd say you've got somewhere around 30 seconds to a minute. Plausible options include trying to run/hide, subduing Tewi, setting up some basic traps/spellcards, signaling Alice, or a very brief conversation.

Also, because first impressions could be important here, I should note that Tewi does still have those cuts from grazing Sakuya's spellcard.
>>202952
I love this.
[x]Let Sumeriko focus on veiling all of you, while you concentrate on swapping your mental illusion for a light and sound based one.
[x] When whoever is coming gets close, make your illusion self pull out a projector, and embrace your inner security camera by projecting an illusion of what you saw Sakuya doing to Tewi earlier on the wall.
-[x] Place special emphasis on Sakuya threatening to kill Tewi, by repeating it over and over in quick succession
-[x] Also throw in a projected illusion of how you were reasoning with and not threatening to kill Tewi
>Sumi made a grab for your arm and attention. "Gregor! The fake you fighting Tewi is a mental illusion! Whoever's coming won't see it!"

The one thing that you often ask yourself in things where tactics matter is - if Plan A sucks, do you go for Plan B, the most appealing alternative or just go through with it, damn the consequences? Right now, here are our choices, Plan A and Plan B:

1) Keep up the mental illusion and risk seeing anyone run outside.
2) Scramble for setting up traps and reacting to whoever will run at us.

#2 may look promising and desirable, but it's actually a trap. We're not here to defeat the rabbit, it's just a test to gauge how strong we are. Our aim is to pass it. Our first impression was already an empathetic one, so now to convince Tewi, we compensate with our ability. We are an illusionist. A being that deceives those weaker with illusions. That is us. Therefore, #1 is the better option!

But wait, how can we extract all the usefulness from #1? It's almost certain to follow the two that detected us running in and checking out what the deal is. One of those two is almost certainly Reisen/Kaguya, as Satori was unable to get in a read against them, and speaking from meta standpoint, the other is likely just Reisen, because Occam's razor says so - simplest explanation is best, after all. So we're going to make a fool out of her. She'll be caught firing bullets at thin air. We will confront Eirin/Kaguya, whichever it is that comes to her in good spirits after that and hope for the best.

[?] Write-in. (Choose carefully on this one.)
-[x] Lightly taunt Tewi to provoke her and show off. Once the other two enter, embarrass her, style over substance. Peanut gallery can help if it feels like it.
-[x] Prepare to discuss matters with masters of Eientei.
>>202955
Also, this is just my opinion, but the previous write-in is too reckless. We're sacrificing stability of our illusion and giving reins over to Sumi, who isn't even a majoring in Visual Bullshit right now. This cannot end well. If we use those strats in an actual fight, it'll end up really badly. Let's not risk it.
Since you have between 30 - 60 seconds, you may have enough time to ask a single question to Satori about who the first person is.

[x] "Hey Satori, who's the first person?" (Or somewhat along that line) [Wait a minute, you wouldn't even need to speak to Satori. She's a mind reader...]

Gathering information on who the first person is, will hopefully, help us deduce who the second person could be. It would probably only take a few seconds to visualize the question to Satori and for her to answer it.
>>202957
Seems pretty reasonable. I'll go with this if its allowed.
[x] "Hey Satori, who's the first person?" (Or somewhat along that line) [Wait a minute, you wouldn't even need to speak to Satori. She's a mind reader...]

If not allowed or a following action is allowed than,
[X] Step out and let Twei see you and the clone.
- [X] Ask for a time-out or at least tell her someone is coming.

If she wants to test our skill, than we might as well show her. Our allies can be kept as a trump card.
File 16292113814.jpg - (57.91KB, 626x425, Tewabbit.jpg) [iqdb]
202959
>>202950 here

I agree with the idea of >>202957 and the elaboration of the idea by >>202958.
Count me as an additional vote on this write-in.
[x] Ask Satori who the first person is.

A bunch of options run through your head, but it all depends on who the arrivals actually are. Is it the Lunarians? Reisen? Someone not from Eientei at all? Satori can't read the one mind, but maybe she could tell you about the other.

"Satori, who-"

"Checking." Satori cuts you off. You're left waiting for a few precious seconds before she grimaces. "Oh, hell. It's Marisa."

[?] React.

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

Mini-update, because that was a very good question to ask. Anyway, you've got around 30-40 seconds before they reach you, and maybe half of that before they can see you. On account of this new information, vote counts are now reset.
[?] React.
-[x] Lightly taunt Tewi to provoke her and show off. Once the other two enter, embarrass her, style over substance. Peanut gallery can help if it feels like it.
-[x] Prepare to discuss matters with masters of Eientei and a magical psycho.
-[x] Have the peanuts call Alice.

Doesn't really change anything except justifying an Alice interrupt.
[?] React.
-[x] Light taunting and styling.
-[x] If the other attendee is indeed an Eientei resident, swap the clone to Marisa's perspective. We want to gauge how much she wants us dead. (Also if we drop the image from Tewi she will be able to dodge potentially incoming psycho mage shots)
-[x] Bring Alice in and wind down for discussion. Why is Marisa in on the plan and what's the point.
-[x] IF the other person is bad news, we dip. Live to fight another day.

In all seriousness, being invisible where we are makes for the most advantageous position. We can leave if we want, or listen in and join if appropriate.
Oh shit, it's Marisa. Damn it Twei.

>>202962
I like part of your plan. I hope you don't mind me taking it.

[X] React.
- [X] Signal Twei to down the hall. Than openly show her the disappearing clone.
- [X] Swap the clone to Marisa's perspective. We want to gauge how much she wants us dead.
- [X] Prepare to book it, find the Doc.
[X] React.
- [X] Signal Twei to down the hall. Than openly show her the disappearing clone.
- [X] Swap the clone to Marisa's perspective. We want to gauge how much she wants us dead.
- [X] Prepare to book it, find the Doc.
Twei is a powerful opponent. We can't afford to hold back. Damn...
File 162929616528.png - (4.10KB, 64x80, dark_orb.png) [iqdb]
202966
I want to dark orb Marisa for the memes.

Anyways,
[X] React.
- [X] Signal Tewi to down the hall. Then openly show her the disappearing clone.
- [X] Swap the clone to Marisa's perspective. We want to gauge how much she wants us dead.
- [X] Prepare to book it, find the Doc.
Hold up everyone, Marisa doesn't know how Greg actually looks. As far as I know Sumi and Greg were disguised as human village type folks while battling Marisa (not really sure whether Satori had dropped her disguise during the fight with Nitori though).
This is why Sakuya said one man and two women rather than specifying it's Satori and two outside world magicians.

I don't know how to make this useful for the situation we're in now, maybe peeps smarter than me can work this out. It's worth pointing out, though.
>>202970
Rereading the updates in question, Greg seems to have dropped the illusion on all 3 of them when Satori asked him to in order to fight Nitori. And even if I misread and he did only drop the illusion on Satori, the pain from having his rib broken by Marisa forced Greg to drop all of his illusions instantly.

Marisa knows what we actually look like.
Enjoy your two new options:
Option 1:
Your first priority is to alert Tewi to Marisa’s incoming presence as fast as possible. So...
[x] R̶U̶S̶H̶ ̶B̶. Immediately zoom to where Tewi can see you (Preferably in front of her) while also making your clone disappear. I have complete confidence that Greg can shrug off some of Tewi’s bullets while also attempting to get her attention.
-[x] Once she has your attention, call a timeout sign (Does Tewi even know what a timeout sign is?) and immediately get to a position next to Tewi where you can talk to her without alerting Marisa and the other person to your presence through the sound of your voice. Maybe along these lines (While speaking as quickly, but at least somewhat coherently, as possible): “Hey Tewi, Marisa and another person is coming. Marisa doesn’t like us. We have to immediately move now.”
-[x] Go through the doors that you went through to get to the entrance and close them behind you as quickly as possible. Use your veils to make your exit flawlessly, without making any noise.

This is the escape option, but as it leads to a situation where you and your friends don’t get healed and where you are vulnerable enough for Tewi to put tracking magic on you. So here’s the other option:

Option 2:
"Well, I had to beat the details out of Marisa," Sakuya gestured to the burn on her side, "but I know exactly what you're looking for."
This right here is called a useful opportunity and one that can be exploited for our use in gaining Marisa as a possible ally (or for a temporary truce). However, you still want to tell Tewi to let her know that Marisa is coming.
[x] Immediately zoom to where Tewi can see you (Preferably in front of her) while also making your clone disappear.
-[x] Once she has your attention, call a timeout sign (Does Tewi even know what a timeout sign is?). Immediately get to a position next to Tewi where you can talk to her without alerting Marisa and the other person to your presence through the sound of your voice. Tell Tewi that Marisa and another person are coming in a few seconds and that we should immediately hide in a nearby area, while also gesturing to her to quickly follow you to where your allies are.
-[x] Put a veil on Tewi (while trying to lighten the load on Sumireko so she can actually speak) and tell Satori and Sumireko (through your mind) that they should introduce themselves to Tewi while you’re busy maintaining the veil. Also tell them that they should keep eyes on Marisa and the other person.
-[x] If the other person is someone who can see through the veil, s̶c̶r̶a̶m̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶F̶-̶3̶5̶ ̶f̶i̶g̶h̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶j̶e̶t̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶p̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶c̶e̶p̶t̶ attempt peace negotiations by trying to sway Marisa to make a temporary truce with you and your friends so she can later get revenge on Sakuya. Be on guard.
-[x] If the other person is Eirin, Kaguya or Reisen, allow Tewi the opportunity to reunite with them. Attempt peace negotiations with Marisa (for the same reasons listed in the other possibility).
>>202973
I always find SOMETHING WRONG after I submit a reply...
Change "as it leads" to "it leads".
>>202973
I also forgot to add that I vote for option 2.
Timeout sign: Illusion of a truce

Hehe.

>>202966 Here, I vote for option 2 of anon's elaborate plan.
[x] Signal Tewi to retreat down the hall. Then openly show her the disappearing clone.
[x] Swap the clone to Marisa's perspective. We want to gauge how much she wants us dead.

Right, so first order of business, stop hostilities with Tewi. That means getting her attention, which you decide to do in person. Her current attack is targeted at your illusion, so it's a simple matter to fly behind her, have the illusion give her a quick salute before vanishing, and then tapping her on the shoulder.

Her reaction's actually pretty good, but you don't have time to enjoy it.

"Tewi, Marisa's coming. Retreat down the hallway, I'll catch up with you later."

You don't wait for a response, ducking back under the veil and integrating Sumireko's makeshift's efforts into it. Well, technically not, it's easier to just expand your veil over hers and then tear hers down entirely, but the point is, you, your friends, and the hilariously out-of-place interstate sign are all completely covered by a light-based veil. Not your best work, but damn solid considering the time constraints.

And with that, Sumireko's freed up to prepare her own spells, Satori is focused on reading the member of the approaching duo whose mind she actually can read, and you double down on that by recreating the psychic illusion of yourself, for use on Marisa this time. Speak of the devil, here she comes now, with one of the rabbit youkai in tow. This one's significantly taller than the others, with red eyes, knee-length purple hair, oddly crumpled ears, and what looks like an honest to goodness school uniform, complete with tie and skirt.

She also has a gun. A white and gold gun with bunny ears on it. It's so unexpected that you can't help but do a double take. Who on earth made that, and why? Like, you get the idea of customizing a weapon, but just... why?

"Focus, Greg," Satori admonished. "That's Reisen."

Right. You snap out of it and focus on Marisa, who looks a little worse for wear. She's flying forwards with the same zeal as this morning, but her witch outfit is bloody and torn. You suspect knife wounds, which would make sense, considering. Though oddly enough, despite the clear signs of battle, you can't actually spot any wounds on her.

"I sent Alice a message," Sumireko said. "She'll be here in a few minutes."

You hope it won't be necessary, but at this point you know better. All the same, you create the illusion of yourself for Marisa's benefit. If she opens up with that laser on sight, you'd like to know that before she has a chance to find the real you.

Marisa stops dead on seeing you floating there, gripping her hat and pulling out her hexagon laser-thingy. "Where's Nitori?"

Illusion you gives her a shrug. "Home, presumably. Or raiding a cucumber farm or something. We already let her go, so she's wherever she wants to be."

Reisen puts a hand on Marisa's shoulder and the witch flinches. "And why should I believe you?"

"Oh. That's a signal," Satori said, nudging you. "Reisen's letting her know that what she's seeing isn't really there."

Right, that's one of the weaknesses of psychic illusions. Easy to snap someone out of it if there's more than one person around. Still, it works as a way to have a discussion. "Call her? Send her a message? Use the Gensokyo mystic hotline? Blow up a pond and see who shows up? I'm sure you've got plenty of options."

"None of which work right this second."

"You people have laser-shooting robots that imitate mythological beasts, but no phones?"

Marisa visibly thought about that for a second. "You know, I bet Kanako would love setting up something like that. Maybe I could talk them into it and borrow one."

Reisen looks around the hallway, and you shiver despite yourself as her eyes pass over your hiding place. At least Tewi seems to have made herself scarce. You shake your head, refocusing. "Well, Nitori's safe now. Problem solved, kappa safe, and we can all go our separate ways. Me for medical treatment, and you to steal something."

"As if." Marisa sounded amused. "Sure, hurting Nitori like that pissed me off, but I was gonna bring you in anyway."

"Oh. It's about the urban legend incident again."

"Hey, you put two and two together!"

"Why do you people care so much about that? Half the youkai I've met see urban legends as an opportunity, and the other half are already using one!"

"So? Just because there's some cool tricks to the incident doesn't mean you get away with causing it."

Beside you, Satori's staring intently at the witch. "Marisa's stalling for time. She's waiting on something, something to do with Reisen."

That's odd, and a little worrying, but you have reinforcements coming too, so you're happy to oblige. "They were a byproduct! We never even meant to cause urban legends in the first place!"

Marisa just laughs. "You think I don't know that? I'm a magician! More than that, I got my power the honest way, through hard work and research. You think I can't spot magical bleed-off when I see it?"

"Then why? Because someone's got to hang?"

"Oh, the urban legends are fun, but they're disrupting the status quo, and that's dangerous by itself. But don't get me wrong, that's not the real problem."

Reisen's still not doing much of anything, just looking back and forth with those glowing red eyes of hers. "...are you going to explain, or leave me to guess here?"

"The real problem's your occult balls. Reimu or Kasen could explain it better, but they're screwing with the barrier."

"Well, yes. Figuring out a way to get across the barrier was the entire point."

"And if you tunnel through a wall, you weaken it, see? Even more if you keep doing it over and over again."

Oh. That, uh, might be really bad. Or not much of a concern; you'd need to spend some time analyzing the occult balls and actually checking the equations. But it was time you weren't likely to get any time soon.

Reisen turned to Marisa and nodded once, and the witch smiled. "But enough about that. Just remember, you brought this on yourself, kid."

Satori's eyes widen, and she starts to say something, but it's too late. All at once the veil gets yanked out of your control, the invisibility stretching and splitting until it shatters entirely, revealing you and your friends to Marisa and Reisen.

[-] To be continued.
Ah geez, I think we went and encountered realistically everyone who can tear through our illusions that is below the power level of "unquestionably and unconditionally fucks your shit up".

Also: Battle Update incoming! LET’S FUCKING GOOOOOOO
Scramble time!
Holy shit Marisa, chill. Not everyone can be born in the literal magic land and have a OP ghost teacher to teach you all the basics, some of us have to scrape together the most basic of magical facts on the other side where magic is nothing but a myth.

Also, damn so this is the test that Twei set up for us. If we can take both of them down, we can most likely take Sakuya down.
But, damn, we are ironically going to leave the place with more injuries than we entered aren't we?
This looks like a rough fight; Marisa’s master spark may be easy to dodge but in this enclosed enviroment it won’t be easy to dodge and if Reisen’s gets involved, her eyes could do a number on us and stun us if she gets serious then well we get spark’ed…

they’re really quite a nasty combo in tight spaces such as these since you got to watch marisa for her trump card and can’t look at reisen.

lets just hope Reisen plays by the rules while we don’t.
>>202981
It's 3 on 2 (well, more like 2.5 on 2 given that we're mostly filling in a non-combat role) and we have reinforcements coming. It's not so bad that we need to break rules to win here.
Update coming some time this weekend, things have been busy.
hello where are updates
I was promised updates
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202992
[x] Here we go again!

For a brief moment, everyone freezes. Marisa is looking unquestionably smug, and Reisen's almost apologetic smile isn't making you feel any better. As for your friends, you can feel Sumireko's accusatory glare, though you're not sure whether it's aimed at you, Satori, or life in general. More concerningly, Satori's air of stoicism isn't holding. She's worried. But there isn't time to think about it.

[Full Illusion Wave - Mind Games]

Reisen starts by shooting out concentric rings of bullets, which looks easy enough to dodge, even for you... then you get a glimpse of red eyes and the rings duplicate, now coming at you from two different directions.

"Fly through one side!" Sumi yells out, breaking left and weaving through the rings over there.

The bullets are awkwardly placed for you to follow, so you fly to the right instead, and after a moment's hesitation Satori follows. There's another flash of red eyes and the rings split again, into three this time. Whatever pattern there is to it you've completely lost, but there's a small gap below you, and with the cape's flight assist you're just able to squeeze through.

[Love Sign - Wide Master]
Behind Reisen, the battlefield erupts in golden light as Marisa destroys a good twenty feet of wall with an enormous master spark blast. As the light fades you can see a blue and white spell circle shimmering in midair - Sumi must have been able to pull together some sort of shield at the last second. But again, you don't have time to spare to worry about her, as Reisen's spell card is firing towards you again this time with four circles.

The left? No, right, no- It's no good, you don't see a way through this one! You fly back as the bullet approaches until you've hit the wall, and at that point there's nothing else for it; you attempt to weave through the approaching rings, but you can't track all of them, and one of them hits you!

... where's the pain? You're pretty sure that hit you. You stop in confusion, and three more bullets pass right through where you're hovering.

A good thirty feet or so to your left, Satori stops dodging and glares at Reisen.

"The attack was fake?!"

Reisen nodded, and all the bullets she'd shot out vanished instantly. "Well spotted. Can you guess why that is?"

Behind her you can see Marisa chasing Sumi with a barrage of lasers and stars, which in itself is your answer. Damn. She's too far away for you to trap her with your orb spell, and you know Reisen won't just let you fly over to assist, but that doesn't leave you completely helpless.

"Sumi, hold on!" you call out, summoning your own spell card.

[Light Sign - Rays of Dawn]
The sun appears behind you, with streams of bullets heading towards Marisa as the witch flies after your friend, but Reisen waves a hand and again there's that wave of pressure: all those bullets simply stop dead, the sun itself winking out.

"You cancelled my spell card," you stammer, shocked. "How?"

Reisen gave you another apologetic smile as Marisa chases Sumireko out of the hole in the hallway and out into the sky. "It's a common misconception that my ability is purely about insanity. In truth, my power is to manipulate wavelengths. Whether brainwaves, sound waves..."

Satori grimaced. "Or light waves. Now I get it. Separating us like this wasn't for Marisa's benefit."

Oh. That explained both the illusion earlier and the spellcard just now, given that everything about it was light-based. Which also meant Reisen was an opponent immune to both you and Satori's main abilities. It would have been really nice to know about this before-

"I had no idea she could do that!" Satori snaps. "I've only been to Eientei once before this, and I could read her mind then!"

"It would have been rude to hit with you with lunacy when you were a guest." Reisen says conversationally.

With lights flashing from the magicians dueling outside, you hope Satori has a plan. You do have some magic that's not illusion-based, but it's significantly weaker, and you know she's used to reading the mind of her opponent.

"We're not giving up. Not with the stakes what they are, and not when it's still two against one," Satori says, flying around to Reisen's opposite side. "I may not be able to read your mind, but there are other options."

[Recollection - Terrifying Hypnotism]
Oh, you've seen Satori use this spellcard before. It was the one she used on Nitori at the start, the one with the spiral of lasers. Given that it's fired in your general direction (what with Reisen being between the two of you), you can kind of see the hypnotizing effect this time around. Unfortunately, as an actual attack, it's no more effective this time than last time, as Reisen waits for the lasers to freeze and casually slips out of the way.

You add in your own spray of bullets from behind, but apparently your non-spell ability is still pretty weak; only a few of them actually clip Reisen, and even then the damage is minimal.

"I guess we're doing this then," Reisen says with a sigh, going into her own spellcard.

[Lunatic Gaze - Illusion Seeker]
Diagonal lines of bullets spawn in two directions; one heading towards you, the other towards Satori. Again, it looks simple enough, but then there's that flash of red eyes and they all just flicker in and out of existence, the entire mass sliding around horizontally before phasing back in and coming straight at you.

On her end, Satori continues her spellcard while dodging Reisen's, and as for you... you should really be doing something, but your usual tricks were no good here. The whole situation was reminding you of the first encounter with Nitori, and all the spellcards flung back and forth there, but it wasn't like you could imitate any of those, or any of Marisa's attacks in the fight afterwards. Although, thinking of that fight, there was at least one spellcard you'd managed that wasn't light-based... It was only really effective on Marisa because you'd blocked her view first, but maybe if you tweaked it a little...

[Enchantment sign - Natural Satellites]
You form the runic circle below you, and both wooden flooring and the dirt below are torn into chunks and start levitating. But this time instead of being launched aimlessly, they start orbiting you like a miniature solar system. Or perhaps asteroid belt would be a better term, considering the sheer number (and small size) of the projectiles in play. The orbits slowly spiral outwards, the projectiles getting further from you as they speed up and become less controllable, but a few tentative movements on your end reveal they're loosely tethered to you.

But the clever part about this is that the physical nature of your projectiles are trumping the energy bullets Reisen's using. The pattern to her spellcard is frankly baffling, and you can't dodge it, but that doesn't matter when anything getting near you is getting blocked by the debris swirling around you. So after building up enough of an active defense, you just hope for the best and fly straight at Reisen, trying to ram the rabbit with your projectile solar system. The bullet storm is much denser the closer you get to Reisen, but each piece of wood, rock or dirt can absorb several of her bullets before completely disintegrating, and it looks like your attack will last just long enough to actually work!

Reisen had most her attention on Satori (who'd been forced to cancel her own spellcard), and you're able to get pretty close before she actually glances back and sees you coming. Unfortunately, that means she's only in the outer edges of your spellcard, and she's able to dodge sideways along the edge without having to deal with the larger mass of projectiles at the center. That also keeps her in the center of her spellcard, which is rapidly depleting the materials that are both your attack and defense. Out of options, you're forced to back off, flying backwards to keep pace with the bullets Reisen's still firing - but Satori was still in the fight, and she finally nails the rabbit with a sequence her own bullets.

That cancels Reisen's spellcard and sends her flying back through the air, though she stabilizes before hitting anything.

"Tch! Sloppy of me."

[Indolence - Mind Stopper]
Reisen waves a hand, and a a total of... yes, it's actually twenty-four summoning circles appear. In sets of three, marking out the corners of a large box containing all three combatants. (Though from what you can see and hear, Sumi and Marisa are definitely still at it outside.) Each of these summoning circles then fire circles of bullets outwards, in what's truly an omni-directional attack. You glance over to Satori, who's looking at you intently, but you're not sure what you can actually do about this. You rack your brain for ideas, but nothing immediately comes to mind. Everything Nitori used was water-based, nothing to work with here, all of Marisa's laser stuff, no good, light-based, Reisen can counter that... no dolls like Alice would use, no way you can imitate anything Koishi did, damn, just no time!

Red eyes flicker again, freezing the circles of bullets just before they make contact, and you take the moment to fly through one of them, ending up in one corner of the box and buying you a little more time. Satori does the same on her end, gritting her teeth and starting up another spellcard.

[Recollection - Representation: Danmaku Paranoia]
Tiny kunai form a sphere around Reisen, and Satori shoots out the giant waves of slow-moving bullets. You recognize Koishi's spellcard, and that does explain why Satori was staring at you just now. But it's a bad choice. Reisen's spellcard doesn't require her to move, and she's easily able to make the small back-and-forth dodges to avoid the imitation of Koishi's attack. Thankfully, Satori's waves of bullets fade out before they would actually reach you.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Reisen's bullets. There's a consequence to flying to one corner of the box to stall for time. And that's the bullet circles from every other corner of the box are converging on your position at the same time. With nowhere to run.

It turns out Reisen's bullets are somewhat less powerful than Marisa's. This is more than made up for by the fact that you got hit by a lot more of them. Despite a panicked attempt at dodging, the next few seconds are a haze of pain punctuated by really sharp bursts of more pain, topped off by a slow fade towards unconsciousness.

No! You can't afford to fall unconscious, not now, not here. The cloak kicks in just before you'd hit the floor, and what would have been a painful impact becomes a cushioned one. Your head is swimming, and the only thing you can make out clearly is flashes of red eyes, but there's still a battle going on. And maybe, just maybe, there's something you can do.

[-] Play possum, give Satori spellcard memories for her to use in this fight.
[-] Illusions as distractions. Reisen has proven she can see through them and even dismiss them, but large colorful images right in front of her face should give her at least a moment's pause.
[-] Even now, the cape can do the heavy lifting for flight. Wait for Reisen to get distracted and make a break for it.
[x] Even now, the cape can do the heavy lifting for flight. Wait for Reisen to get distracted and make a break for it.

Rely on preparation for success! Our loss condition is Sumi getting whooped, not Reisen getting abused, so let's prevent that.
[x] Even now, the cape can do the heavy lifting for flight. Wait for Reisen to get distracted and make a break for it.
To help out Sumireko to be specific. And to Dark Orb Marisa again.

Reisen hard counters everything in our arsenal, except enchantments. Spontaneously coming up with a another spellcard utilising it from the brink of passing out seems unlikely.
Would Dark orb still work? Since it's creating a ball of essentially an absence of light.
If it is, could we try making an illusion base on the absence of light?

Basing it all on a hunch but she might be able to manipulate one type of wave at a time? If so, we might be able to beat her if we coordinate our attacks together.

But, eh. Nothing is as annoying as having light shone right on you.

[-] Illusions as distractions. Reisen has proven she can see through them and even dismiss them, but large colorful images right in front of her face should give her at least a moment's pause.
>>202995

It depends on how Greg conceived the spell. Is it a visuo-spatial manipulation of light so it appears dark? Is it the utilization of the concept of darkness? Is the Orb a bubble and its membrane filters out lightwaves?

Since he created the spell by intuition, he never had to figure out what exactly it is. Given his area of expertise it's likely just light manipulation, which means Reisen is able to dispel it, though she'd have to consciously do so it seems.

Reisen was capable of manipulating her own brainwaves, making Satori unable to read her thoughts, while she was dealing with Greg's light based spellcard at the same time.
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202997
Reisen's lunatic eyes work by manipulating light in order to make things happen. We have been manipulating light ever since we first got to Gensokyo. If Reisen can manipulate light like this, then there is no reason that we can't do the same thing. Turnabout is fair play after all.

[x] Steal Reisen's lunatic eyes by making an illusion of her eyes over your eyes (if that would block your vision, put the lunatic eyes on your forehead) to manipulate light the same way she does.
-[x] Use your stolen lunatic eyes to cancel out Reisen's canceling out of your illusions
-[x] think about your stolen lunatic eyes so that Satori can steal your stolen lunatic eyes, and have Satori cancel out Reisen's canceling out of your canceling.

Its 5 lunatic eyes against 2. Whoever Reisen isn't canceling cancels out Reisen's canceling. This allows us to use our illusions with impunity. Our lunatic eyes don't even have to be where our eyes are.
>>202996
Ah, I see. Thanks.

>>202995
Changing to
[x] Even now, the cape can do the heavy lifting for flight. Wait for Reisen to get distracted and make a break for it.

>>202996
I don't think that will work. Reisen seems to have a much better control than us seeing how she can take the veil from our control.
[x] Even now, the cape can do the heavy lifting for flight. Wait for Reisen to get distracted and make a break for it.
To help out Sumireko to be specific by Dark Orbing Marisa again.
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203001
[x] Even now, the cape can do the heavy lifting for flight. Wait for Reisen to get distracted and make a break for it.

Sometimes the hardest thing in life is not giving up. Even just laying where you'd fallen, it hurt. Your chest felt like you'd rolled in broken glass, each breath coming at the cost of stabbing pains. The rest of your body merely felt like it had lost a fight with a batting machine, as the main question there was less whether there'd be bruises and more whether there'd be any unbruised areas. Even now, you could feel the beginning of a headache, tempered by the soreness throughout your body that promised so much worse if you tried moving.

And you couldn't do anything to Reisen. You had one enchantment spellcard that had already worked better than expected, and she brushed it off. Maybe, on a wing and a prayer you could cobble together a second... but then what? Best case scenario, another minor hit, and then it's her turn to hit you and you end up in intensive care? Without illusions, you're next to useless.

As your vision comes back into focus, shuddering a little bit less with each shallow breath, you consider not getting up. It would be so easy to just keep laying there. Actually trying something promises to be difficult, it's certain to be painful, and it's unlikely that getting up would do anything anyway. Unconsciousness beckons, and the prospect of not worrying about anything is appealing.

But you can see flashes of stars and lasers outside. Satori dodging through rings of bullets here. You can see the strain the combat is putting on her... and imagine the same for Sumi. You sigh. There's a price to doing nothing, even if you'll only ever see it in the mirror. You wince, getting your feet under you and triggering the cape's levitation, letting it do the work of hauling you to your feet. There's a slight moment of pressure, as if someone had patted you on the back, and for just a moment you thought you heard a whisper-

"-ry. Good luck."

You look around, but you don't see anyone. Had you imagined it? Whatever, it doesn't matter right now. Resolve and second (third?) wind aside, none of it changes the facts. You can't do anything to Reisen. The only option left is to try for Marisa. Fortunately the rabbit's back is to you right now, dodging through a spellcard of Satori's. It's not one you've seen before, full of heart-shaped bullets tracing out sinusoidal lines - you wonder if it's one of Koishi's, or actually created by Satori herself. Reisen doesn't seem to be having too much trouble with it, but either way it's an opening.

With a mental apology to your friend, you grit your teeth and kick the cape into gear, gasping as the g-forces press against you, and clinging to cape and magic for dear life. (Well, dear consciousness anyway.) You can't risk going through the spellcard or attracting Reisen's attention, so you go for a curving path around the outside of the brawl. Thankfully Satori ramps up her attack at that exact moment, and you're free and clear through the hole in the wall.

Things aren't exactly calmer outside. Sumireko had apparently abandoned any concept of danmaku, and was doing her best to stay directly on top of Marisa. Sumi had one hand grabbing Marisa's arm, wrestling for control of the mini-hakkero, while the other made a chopping motion as a tree branch came hurtling in through telekinesis. Marisa slipped off her broom, hanging from it by the legs to dodge under the tree branch and pull Sumi off balance, and fired a quick blast from the mini-hakkero, the recoil pushing her back on and out of Sumi's grip. She then shifted her grip on the broom, swinging it around from the other side (and apparently NOT actually needing it to fly, which was blatantly unfair) and staggering Sumi, then kicking off and flying away.

Sumireko threw a spray of tarot cards at Marisa, forcing her to dodge and teleported, popping up behind the other witch as she summoned a roughly car-sized slab of pavement. She was too slow.

[Love Sign - Non-Directional Laser]
That's the same card that injured you in the first place! The same pattern of clockwise and counter-clockwise alternating lasers comes out, and Sumi has to abandon her attack and use the pavement as a shield, the lasers cutting deep grooves as they trace across the surface. Fortunately for Sumireko, this attack doesn't have anything that actually curves in from the sides or behind, so her shield does a good job of weathering the storm... up until Sumireko gathers her psychic power and shoves it forwards at speeds most cars would consider respectable.

Marisa's able to flat out disintegrate it with a drawn out blast from her mini-hakkero, but she had to abandon the spellcard to do it, and that's your opening.

[Illusion Sign - Orb of Midnight]

The magician vanishes inside the (more and more familiar) black sphere, and you hear a cry of "Come on, not again!"

There's a certain satisfaction to it, but no time to enjoy it. Sumireko looks like crap, with both her and the backpack she's wearing being scorched and lightly smoking, but the energy in her attacks and movements belies that. At least for now, she's fine, and she immediately notices that you... aren't.

"Greg! You're bleeding! What happened?"

You feel the top of your head and your hand comes away wet and sticky. You wince. "No time. Reisen no-sells my illusions, can't fight her. Need you to help Satori."

"Greg, you can't fight Marisa. I can barely fight her."

"I have a plan! Tick tock, Sumi! Go already!"

Sumi shoots you a doubtful look, but flies down to the building interior, charging another spell as she enters through the hole in the wall. You look back at the spellcard Marisa's trapped in and sigh. You don't have a plan. But at the very least, you should have a minute or so to come up with one...

[-]The instant you lose the spellcard, try for the veil and duplicate tactic. She might be expecting it, and you might be too out of it to actually pull it off, but it has worked on her before.
[-]Focus everything on maintaining the orb of midnight spellcard. A minute is a long time in a fight, and if you can hold it for an extra thirty second or so, maybe that's long enough for Alice to arrive, or for Sumi and Satori to defeat Reisen.
[-]You need a Hail Mary. Try for another spellcard, something utility based that'll keep Marisa distracted for as long as possible.
Damn, thanks for the update. Hopefully help comes soon enough, I don't think we are going to last long with that blood loss and a possible concussion.

[X]Focus everything on maintaining the orb of midnight spellcard. A minute is a long time in a fight, and if you can hold it for an extra thirty second or so, maybe that's long enough for Alice to arrive, or for Sumi and Satori to defeat Reisen.
Considering our limit here, this is the best choice, but considering our luck, I wouldn't be surprise if she managed to Masterspark us by aiming randomly.

More of a sudden thought than option.
[-] Ram her.
[X] Focus everything on maintaining the orb of midnight spellcard. A minute is a long time in a fight, and if you can hold it for an extra thirty second or so, maybe that's long enough for Alice to arrive, or for Sumi and Satori to defeat Reisen.
-[X] Think - or maybe mentally yell for Satori to disengage and help us when it's about to come down. If Alice joins the fight, she'll want to fight Reisen, who can't manipulate wavelengths of dolls instead of helping us not die with Marisa, who's likely used to fighting her by now.

The plan was swapping matchups all along! We can run support on Satori with illusions.
>The magician vanishes inside the (more and more familiar) black sphere, and you hear a cry of "Come on, not again!"
Magicians gotta have their staples~.

Tried my damndest to come up with a clever and smooth way out of the predicament. I got nothing, so bullshit it is. I got the kind of bullshit idea that involves the plot of a certain fairy tale, a witch's broom and the theft of a miniature magical furnace.
I kind of imagine Greg being the type of guy to abandon common sense when he's in place with no way out. That and I enjoy seeing you work these kinds of votes out.

[x]You need a Hail Mary. Try for another spellcard, something utility based that'll keep Marisa distracted for as long as possible.
(-[x] Pick Sumireko's effort back up; Take Marisa's mini-hakkero away.)
[X]Focus everything on maintaining the orb of midnight spellcard. A minute is a long time in a fight, and if you can hold it for an extra thirty second or so, maybe that's long enough for Alice to arrive, or for Sumi and Satori to defeat Reisen.

[X] Ram her.
(-[x] Pick Sumireko's effort back up; Take Marisa's mini-hakkero away.)

It’s hard to keep track of your possesions in the dark, raming her has a good chance of her losing grip on it and if we manage to get it we’d limit her firepower severly.
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203007
[x]Focus everything on maintaining the orb of midnight spellcard. A minute is a long time in a fight, and if you can hold it for an extra thirty second or so, maybe that's long enough for Alice to arrive, or for Sumi and Satori to defeat Reisen.
- [x] Pick Sumireko's effort back up; Take Marisa's mini-hakkero away.

There's a lot to be said for knowing your limits, and you could tell that you were reaching yours. Heck, you were probably pushing past them, which would be great if it didn't involve serious injury. Nevertheless, you focus everything you can on holding on to the spell. Marisa's throwing out bullets of her own from inside the dark orb, but while they're tracing around every which way, none of them actually came close enough to threaten you.

Holding on to a spellcard was... weird. At first it was almost free, as if the magic was self-sustaining, but you could feel pressure gradually building up as time went on. Come to think of it, wasn't this the first time you weren't actively forced to end one by the fight either knocking you out of the spellcard or otherwise making it useless? Regardless, it was still manageable for now, but every minute, even every second, the magic became a bit more unruly, a little harder to actually maintain. You knew this wouldn't actually take Marisa down, and so you were hoping to buy as much time as possible for your allies to turn the tables.

Which is why you were incredibly relieved when you saw a small green and yellow doll flying your way. This feeling of relief was sadly short-lived.

"There you are," Alice's voice came through the Koishi-doll. "Listen, I'm cut off!"

Oh no. You hadn't considered your enemies might have reinforcements too. If Marisa had brought along Kasen or Reimu... "By who?"

"Ran!"

You don't think you actually knew that name. Maybe she was a weaker youkai? "Who?"

"Ran Yakumo! Yukari's shikigami!"

You sucked in a breath through your teeth and rubbed at your eyes. "Yukari's the really powerful one, isn't she." Damn it! "Let me guess, you need help too?"

"Ran's not on Yukari's level, but she's still formidable. I'm not personally in trouble, but I can't beat her quickly. Especially since she's fighting defensively."

So this Ran was buying time for Marisa and Reisen to capture you. Great. Just great. You glance down at the building, but the battle down there was still going fierce. "I... I don't know how much longer we'll last. If Ran's not pressing you hard, can you spare some of your dolls from your fight?"

"Yes, but that's a rounding error against someone like Marisa."

There's a surge as the magic almost slips, and you wince. "Not for fighting. Spread them out, find Eirin or Kaguya!"

"Is that wise if you're fighting Reisen? She works for them."

"It can't make the situation any worse!"

A stray beam from Marisa comes particularly close and the Koishi doll recoils, looking at it warily. "You have a point. I'll try to locate them."

"Hurry." You're starting to lose the spellcard, and you bite your lip as a crazy thought occurs to you. "If I get Marisa's laser-shooter, can you keep it away from her?"

"The mini-hakkero? Well, yes, but I don't see how you-"

"Hold that thought."

One last check. Fighting down below still going strong. No rescue from the others, you've got maybe five seconds left on the spellcard before you lose it. This... could end really badly, but you might as well try.

You pulse the orb of darkness in and out for just a moment, getting a bead on Marisa's position and tell the cape to fly down. The acceleration is no easier to bear than earlier, and you feel the spell dissolving just as you break through the outer shell of darkness. Your head is pounding, you can feel blood trickling down the back of your neck, and your chest feels like you're being pushed along at knifepoint, but you continue diving. Marisa looks up, notices you, and a veil's beyond you at this point, so you go simple. A flash of light, blind her. You see her, tensing up to dodge, not sure which way. Have to guess. Curved right, she dodged right, guessed right.

Impact.

Something hit you hard in the legs, sending the world spinning as you went into a rough somersault. Despite that, your arms wrapped around something that you think was Marisa. You swing your arms down, sweeping aside her arms and knocking something aside before you get pushed away. You cry out as the world spins again, more violently this time, and there's nothing to do but pray you stop spinning before you hit something. Alternatively, you could scream, but you don't really have the breath for that.

That particular prayer wasn't answered. Too much momentum, not enough height. The cape does what it can, but you still hit a patch of grass and crumple.

"My hakkero! You-" Out of the corner of your eye you see Marisa flying down at you, hands glowing. You're having trouble processing it, but you know that's not good for you. You can't fight, probably can't get up, but maybe if you veil, make an illusion of yourself leaving...

You reach for the magic and almost throw up. It's no good. You've got nothing left.

Marisa lands right next to you, hesitates. The glow around one hand intensifies, the glow around the other fades, and she fires one single bullet.

It's one of her weakest ones, and it only hits you in the leg, but it's only through biting your tongue that you avoid screaming.

"Wait, that's the real you?" Her scowl softens fractionally and the glow around her other hand fades. "So you're really out of tricks. Should have figured when you went in for melee."

"It-" you cough, gasping for air. "it was worth a shot."

Marisa freezes, looking you over again. "You're either a wimp or a lunatic, and I'm not sure which. Just how injured are you?"

"Prb'bly a lot. Not a doctor. Not a youkai neither."

Marisa swore, approaching you and gingerly peeling the cape up. She bumps your ribs in the process, and this time you do scream.

"So much for doing this quietly. Maybe if Reisen can borrow some of Eirin's stock-" she pauses, looking closely at something. "Why is there a piece of paper stuck to your back?"

A piece of paper? That would mean-

A new presence appears, behind Marisa. "Do you need me to spell it out for you?"

No. No, this isn't fair!

The witch who could have killed you turns around, facing down the maid who just might.

"Sakuya."

[-] To be concluded.
You know this weird feeling, as if your stomach is being squeezed and twisted by an invisible hand. It's the feeling you get to experience when your idea of the world you had as a child starts to be replaced by a piece of reality.
That feeling got invoked here a little bit.

>To be concluded
>concluded
That's the worst send-off. Your friend goes 'I got a plan' and against all the reasonable doubts you have you still place your trust in them and let them do their thing... Ah gosh dangit.
Goddamnit. We didn't see the connection between the mysterious back patting person and the paper and now its going to kill us.

Holy fuck. Are we really that incompetent as players or is it just bad luck.

Hopefully Satori and Sumireko are having a much better time than we are.
>>203009
We tried to have a drawn-out fight against those people instead of fucking legging it when we could. I'd say we went wrong there.
Its okay everyone who starts an incident gets beaten up then we all talk over tea, its normal.
Though once Sakuya gets what she wants she might make an exception and actually kill us.
The problem isn't broken bones, getting captured or dying.
The problem is making Sumi sad.
>>203014
Sumi wouldn't be sad. She would simply go nuclear, that's all.
updates
when
>>203017
wywi
Update is currently in progress, but I'm having a rough time with this one. Hoping to get it finished in the next couple of days.
File 163156959474.jpg - (519.65KB, 1920x1080, 322662-anime-anime_girls-Touhou-Izayoi_Sakuya.jpg) [iqdb]
203022
[-] Maid versus magician

Sakuya looks completely different from when you saw her earlier. She still has the same general maid theme, but it's a different dress, this one brand new, and there's no sign of the wounds from earlier. She's holding a knife in one hand and a book in the other as she walks towards you, completely ignoring the tension in the air.

Marisa places herself between you and the maid, one hand on her broom, the other twitching at her side. "Sakuya, this isn't necessary. We're solving the incident."

"We're long past that, Marisa. Get out of the way."

The maid takes a step forwards, as a spread of knives fan out behind her. Marisa hops back on her broom, tucking her witch's hat down as she rose a foot or so off the ground. "Seriously! I've got the culprits dead to rights here! Give me a day or two and I'll have them and the occult balls out of Gensokyo!"

Wait, was that it? All of that drama, all the fighting and hiding and running away, and their grand plan was to just send you home? You were missing something. Either now, or ever since you arrived in Gensokyo.

"Insufficient." Sakuya said, rising into the air herself. "Even if you prove capable of delivering on that promise, it won't end the urban legends."

"Sure it will, who's the magician here? And what do you mean if?"

"Miss Patchouli's analysis was thorough," Sakuya said, ignoring that last complaint. "They're coming with me."

"You realize I'm gonna stop you, right?"

"You and what hakkero?"

Marisa freezes, looking across the grounds to where her weapon had fallen, and Sakuya smiles as it suddenly disappears and reappears in the maid's hand.

"Hey! That's mine!"

Sakuya shrugs, and the mini-hakkero vanishes as she does so. "Consider it borrowed on behalf of Miss Patchouli. She should be finished with it in... oh, sixty or seventy years."

"As if-"

[Illusion World - The World]

Apparently Sakuya was done with the conversation. Her spellcard started with lines of fireballs radiating out from her, and just as you started to wonder whether they were going to do anything interesting, they froze, abruptly changed direction, and spawned entire waves of knives out of nowhere, all coming towards Marisa. Which was unfortunate, given that you were only a little behind Marisa and mostly incapacitated.

Marisa was caught off guard, started to dodge, looked back, hesitated, and threw out a spellcard of her own.

[Magic Sign - Stardust Reverie]

This one was different from most of the other spellcards you'd seen, being a single wave of much larger stars and clearing out all the knives Sakuya had just thrown.

"What was that? I thought you wanted him alive!"

"I do. But the uncertainty forced you to spend a bomb on it."

Sakuya's spellcard turned out not to have been broken by the bomb, continuing to produce more fireballs, but this time Marisa flew around the edge of the bullet pattern, misdirecting the knives that spawned and sending them all shooting off into the air. Marisa was firing bullets of her own at the same time, a trio of streams of small stars that hemmed Sakuya in, hitting her on occasion and forcing her to dodge back and forth.

You couldn't really track it. Even with Marisa misleading most of the knives, there were still a ton headed in her general direction. About four or five times you thought she was history, only for her to somehow weave through gaps you hadn't spotted, or at the least didn't think she could get to. This back and forth continued for another couple of waves of fireballs, and you thought Marisa would pull through, but a knife finally clipped her on the shoulder, knocking her off balance and forcing her to bomb again to clear out the last wave.

"Really, Marisa, we've been through this once today already."

Marisa swore, rubbing her shoulder and glaring at the maid. "Screw this for a game of catch. You haven't seen all of my magic."

[Unsealed Magic - Open Universe]
Massive black and white orbs spiraled out from the witch, leaving behind trails of blue stars that themselves traced out a vaguely occult-looking star shape. And then the next wave pushed out those lines of stars, creating what was essentially a blast front of stars hurtling towards Sakuya. The maid simply hovered in place, waiting until the wave was almost on top of her, before abruptly flickering out and reappearing in front of the giant wave of bullets.

In the meantime, the maid was throwing her own knives at Marisa, which were impacting and yet not doing as much damage as they should. (As in, Marisa wasn't a bloody pincushion. Clearly there was something to this whole non-lethal danmaku thing.) All that said, they were still hitting, and Marisa's attack simply wasn't.

"Stopping time is cheating," the witch grumbled, ending the spellcard.

"Why not try using a master spark?" Sakuya asked, pausing her assault and spinning the mini-hakkero on a finger. "Isn't that your answer to everything?"

[Blazing Star Style Tag]
Marisa charged up for a second, and fired some sort of laser behind her. It was very large, very bright, and apparently very weak, judging by the lack of effect on the building. However, after a moment it became obvious that the laser itself wasn't the point, but rather the propulsion, as Marisa was quite literally rocketing back and forth over the battlefield. (Her ability to make turns at that speed was a complete mystery to you.) Once getting up to speed, she began tossing out stars behind her, which she then further pushed around with her wake.

Sakuya threw a few experimental knives at Marisa on one fly-by and sighed as they merely ricocheted off the blast front, before contemptuously dodging the attack.

"Stalling for time, Marisa? How tiresome."

Marisa shot her a grin as she rocketed past again. "Wait for it..."

It took a minute or so for you to realize what she meant, but as time went on and Sakuya had to dodge more and more frequently, it hit you. The stars Marisa was shooting out weren't disappearing, meaning the battlefield got more cluttered and more dangerous for the maid with each pass. Occasionally the maid would stop time to disappear from one location and reappear in a less cluttered area of the sky, but those areas were becoming few and far between, until finally-

[Time Sign - Dual Vanish]
All at once, every single star froze, burning out and disappearing. Marisa was still rocketing around on her broom, but with the number of projectiles reset, Sakuya easily timed out the rest of the spellcard.

"It's good to know you have more than one effective trick," Sakuya said. "Who'd you steal that one from?"

"Actually, that one was improvised," Marisa said, coasting to a stop. "I needed a weak spell for playing with Cirno."

"Adorable. Let me show you how I play with fairies."

[Maid Secret Skill - Killing Doll]
More knives. A lot more knives. This time around they were sent out in two waves of an extremely dense, but extremely simple pattern. You were waiting for the trick, and sure enough, most of them abruptly changed directions halfway to Marisa. And while there was a slight pause when they froze and turned around, you really weren't sure how anyone could track that many knives.

Marisa was managing, mostly. She was avoiding getting hit, but doing so by retreating away from the center of the pattern, and Sakuya moved closer after each repetition. It wasn't without cost for the maid though; Marisa was firing back, and her own shots were connecting. It was really a question of whether Sakuya would lose the spellcard, or run Marisa out of running room first, and though the strain on her face was evident, she did manage to corner the witch with one last spray of knives. With no room left to run and knives coming in from every direction, Marisa started up a spellcard to counter.

[Defense Sign - Magic Absorp-

[Last Word - Deflation World]
Time froze, and suddenly all the knives in the air... for lack of a better word, duplicated forwards. That is, where each knife was pointing, there was now a line of colorless, semi-substantial knives tracing out its path.

There was no chance to react, or defend, and it violated the rules of danmaku as you understood them. And maybe there was even a cost to that; as time unfroze both knives and spellcards disintegrated almost immediately, and the spellcard circle around Sakuya literally exploded.

But none of that changed the fact that no fewer than five of these lines had gone directly through Marisa. And judging by the way she was bleeding as she fell off her broom, it was very clear that the impact of those knives was very real.

[-] Hope you survive.
So, apparently I'm bad at estimating just how much is left in the story. Decided on posting this for now, the actual final update will probably come around the weekend.

Although, since I've left this on a cliffhanger for longer than I intended already...

What's coming is not a bad end, there's still plenty of this story left to go. However, it IS the end of part 1, and I intend to take something like a month's break or so while I get some RL stuff in order.
>>203023
Thanks for the update and don't worry, we will wait patiently.

Also,thank god. The "To be concluded" part got me worried.

Oh boy, Marisa's not handling this well. By the looks of it, we might get abducted by Sakuya. I just hope we don't get wrapped in another side-quest.
Update is in progress, but taking longer than I thought. Not particularly sure when it'll be done, but hopefully in a few days.
I will never forget the time when it took QM at least 13 straight days to figure out how to fuck us over properly and severely enough to make sure we didn't pick a fucking meme option twice in a row without fear of loss ever again - despite churning out updates before daily. And then go into hiatus!
>>203026
We will be waiting patiently.
Just caught up here after reading from the start. Nice story so far, hope it updates soon.

It would be pretty funny if we pull a hail mary with that interstate sign we been carrying earlier. Sakuya's knives can't fully penetrate metal, can they?
File 163246358170.jpg - (901.14KB, 1600x800, Sakuya-vs-Reisen.jpg) [iqdb]
203033
*Several minutes earlier*
[-] Be the mind reader

The moment Reisen scrambled my mind-reading, I knew we were in trouble. It's not because Reisen's particularly strong or anything. She can hold her own, and in Gensokyo, that means a lot more than it does anywhere else, but her ability to cause hallucinations - no, wavelength manipulation - is nothing special compared to the gods of the Moriya Shrine, the vampires of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, or even Okuu's nuclear energy.

No. The problem wasn't Reisen herself, it was the reason she would be with Marisa in the first place. Marisa, one of Gensokyo's primary incident resolvers, had sought out backup specifically to counter me and Gregor. In short, we were being taken seriously. Taken seriously by someone who had made a career of coming out on top against those gods, vampires, and atomic, scatterbrained bird-youkai. (Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to have Utsuho around. But I question Kanako's decision to trust her with god-level power. On a regular basis.)

I could tell Gregor and Sumireko didn't realize it. They thought their success so far was based on their own strength and ingenuity, and to be fair, that was no small part of it. But they aren't native to Gensokyo. They don't know that the stronger players play down to their opposition. To a being with incredible power, with few peers and fewer consequences, what's winning or losing, so long as the game remains interesting? An urban legend as an extra source of power? Why, that could be enjoyable! A quick visit to the outside world? An interesting diversion! A pair of self-taught magicians from outside? Small fry.

Despite that, I chose to engage instead of retreating. Which was risky at best and foolishness at worst, but I did have my reasons.

The first was the chance of bringing Alice in for reinforcements. Marisa's mind showed no awareness that we were working with Alice, and she's legitimately strong, even by Gensokyo's standards. Combined with my own power, it was enough to give the four of us reasonable chances of winning.

The second is that helping Koishi is a rare chance. I am not an expert on magic or youkai, and there's very few hard and fast rules with either, but one of the most consistent rules is this: To permanently change something, you have to be at least as strong as the thing you're changing. My sister is a youkai of significant power, stronger than me, and stronger than most of Gensokyo's inhabitants. The only youkai I am aware of who is both stronger than Koishi and may be able to heal her third eye is Yukari, and the less said of her the better.

But the final reason I was willing to risk this fight is that the danger was for show. While Marisa and Reisen had every chance of winning, and even inflicting injury in the process, there was never an intent to kill. From the beginning, the incident resolvers had intended to scare Sumireko, knock her around a bit, and (once the human was suitably terrified), send her back home and leave her in peace. I'd picked up those details from Reimu's mind at the beginning of the whole mess. And given that we were literally at Eientei, the chance of accidental lasting damage was as low as it could ever be.

Unfortunately, (at least until Alice arrived) none of that affected the chances of us actually winning the fight. It went about as well as could be expected. We had some good ideas and some missteps, and Gregor took another serious hit (thank goodness we were already at Eientei), but Sumireko and I were actually winning against Reisen. (It helped that Sumireko had both experience with fighting agaist illusions, and a much larger range of spellcard memories for me to use.) Greg was buying time against Marisa, and while Alice being delayed (by Yukari's shikigami no less!) was bad, we even had a chance to win without her. If we could finish off Reisen before Marisa did the same to Greg, the numbers advantage just might be enough.

And then everything went wrong.

Reisen's mind-scrambling interference prevented me from reading her (or looking too closely in her general direction), but I was at least able to keep a third eye on Greg's thoughts and condition. I could feel his worry and frantic calculation, how he was trying to keep a grip on the situation despite each new setback. That fear being suppressed by determination at the news of Alice being delayed, as he decided to try and grab the mini-hakkero. The pain, resignation, and defiance as he faced down Marisa, despite being severly injured, unable to move, unable to even cast. Even satisfaction, that he'd done what he could, and it might just be enough. And then it all crumbled into despair when Sakuya arrived.

Suddenly I could feel the despair, a stabbing pain in my chest just as clearly as he did, and I grabbed at my chest, breathing heavily as I lost my spellcard. My moment of distraction cost Sumireko dearly, as it gave Reisen time to focus on the magician and drive her back with a wave of bullets.

Satori, what are you doing?! I had her!

I backed off mentally, shaking my head as if that would help. "Sakuya! Sakuya's here!"

Sumireko snapped her head around to look at me, and she almost got hit by one of Reisen's bullets for it. "What? How?"

I reached out with my third eye again, doing my best not to look at the cloud of fear and anger that in Sumireko's mind or whatever-the-former-hell Reisen was doing. Fortunately, I was able to find Greg's mind quickly, and the answer was right on top of his thoughts. "Tewi. Tewi must have tagged Greg. Probably after Reisen knocked him down."

Sumireko swore, while Reisen paused her attack, visibly confused. The moon rabbit flew closer, asking, "What are you talking about? What does Tewi or Sakuya have to do with any of this?"

Oh, NOW she wants to talk. Sumireko tensed up, preparing to fly off. "Maybe if you actually listened before attacking people, you'd know!"

I didn't need to read the magician's mind to know what she was about to do. "Sumireko, wait! If you just rush in at Sakuya she'll tear you apart!"

"I don't see you suggesting anything!" And every strategy you have suggested has backfired!

"I'm trying to think!" Abruptly, the headache-inducing pressure from Reisen's direction stopped, and a glance in her direction revealed that her eyes had returned to normal.

"We don't have time for you to think! Greg's in danger!" And it's my- I mean your fault!

I wasn't sure which version of that thought was more accurate, and I didn't want to find out. At least without Reisen interfering, it was much easier for me to get a grip on the situation outside.

"We have a little time. Greg's alive, but out of the fight" - in too much pain to move would not go over well - "and Sakuya's fighting Marisa."

I turned to Reisen, who was letting me read her mind and had the obvious questions lined up at the front of it. Convenient. "In order - yes, a little, Sakuya threatened her, some magic of Patchouli's, and I'm not sure, but she's clearly confident."

Reisen tilted her head, considering. "And now for the big one. Why should I focus on Sakuya instead of you? The whole point was to bring an end to the urban legend incident."

No! She had a point, but she couldn't!

"You want a reason?" Sumireko demanded, staring the rabbit down. "The occult balls can crack a hole in Yukari's barrier. If you hold us up and Greg gets hurt for it, I'll find out what they can do to Eientei."

There was a tense pause at that, as the two stared each other down. I glanced at Sumireko's mind -only have the pyramids one on me right now, but if I break it here... "She's not bluffing," I said quietly.

Reisen sighed, brushing her hair back as she straightened up. It's like the first time meeting Marisa all over again. "Are you sure you're not from Gensokyo?"

"Completely," Sumireko snapped. "If I was, I'd be making empty threats."

"Don't fall for that! Sakuya won't be overconfident, she'll be deadly serious, and-" I stopped, realizing that one of the minds I'd been sensing had fallen unconscious. "-she beat Marisa already?"

"Come on!" Sumireko yelled, flying off. Come on Greg, just hold on.

There was nothing else for it. I followed the magician, and after a moment's hesitation - My master's going to kill me for this - Reisen did as well.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
[-] Be the magician
Marisa was unconscious, a black, white, and increasingly red pile of stab wounds. Greg was also... not in good shape. I clenched my fists and took a deep breath. Couldn't focus on that now. Satori said he'd live, and I was going to trust that for now. (And if she was wrong, I'd burn that bridge when I came to it.) The real threat was the maid, flying above both of them. Who had severe burns covering one hand, that arm hanging limply at her side, but was idly twirling a knife in the other one, staring down at her handiwork.

"Sakuya!" I demanded, putting myself between the maid and Greg.

The maid paused, giving me an unpleasant smile. "And there's the full set. Excellent. I was worried I'd need to look for you."

"That's my line! I thought you'd run, like the sneak-attacking coward that you are."

"Fascinating words from someone who has been running since she arrived in Gensokyo."

I scowled. "What, instead of taking a marathon match against the greatest fighters in Gensokyo? I pick my battles, thanks."

"As I have picked this one."

"Do you want more fighting?" Reisen demanded, flying up. "Why rile her up?"

"Diplomacy's not going to work anyway," Satori said with a shrug. "She has no intention of backing down."

"Why not? She's outnumbered and injured", Reisen said, listing points off on her fingers. ", plus none of us are exactly pushovers. And on top of that, we haven't been exactly subtle. My-"

"Don't finish that thought," Satori warned. Her eyes widened. "Watch-

One moment she was there, the next Sakuya was behind Reisen, swinging a knife downwards.

"-out." Satori finished, belatedly.

Reisen dodged backwards into her, connecting with the maid and getting inside the swing, grabbing for her arm to throw her forwards, and then suddenly Reisen had ahold of a broom and Sakuya was behind her again, stabbing successfully this time as the rabbit cried out in pain. I conjured a few rocks and threw them at Sakuya experimentally, and suddenly she'd vanished again and was in front of Satori this time.

[Recollection - Scarlet Sign: Scarlet Meister]
Sakuya's eyes widened and she vanished just before a massive set of scarlet orbs and smaller bullets shot out from Satori. I didn't see her this time, and spun around, but my movement was arrested by someone holding onto the helicopter-backpack I was wearing. Putting two and two together, I conjured some more objects and spun them around me in a miniature debris tornado. I didn't hear a impact from Sakuya, but I did see a couple of knives go spinning past my face. She must have disappeared to somewhere else, but again, I didn't see her.

How on earth do you hit someone who can stop time and instantly be somewhere else? Anywhere else?

"She usually fights under spellcard rules," Satori said, looking around warily. "which limits that ability."

What, so without the rules she'd just rule Gesokyo?

"Outside of the spellcard rules, most strong youkai don't care about knives."

"That's great! I'm not immune to knives!"

"Eirin and Kaguya are," Reisen said, clutching her side. "Or at least, close enough."

"I'm aware of that," Sakuya said from behind me. "It's why I'm not letting you stall."

I spun around, saw a knife in my peripheral vision, threw up a barrier, and poured power into it as it turned out to be an entire hemisphere of knives, pushing them aside with raw force. A pain in my leg told me I hadn't gotten them all. I gasped, looking around to see where Sakuya had gone, and she was fighting Reisen again. The rabbit was better in actual hand to hand combat, reacting perfectly to each attempted stab or maneuver... but none of that mattered when Sakuya simply vanished out of the counterblow and punished Reisen for the attempt. To her credit, she realized this and started fighting defensively, but even then, every block was another cut, and Reisen had half a dozen new wounds by the time Satori forced the maid away with a spellcard.

Damnit, I needed a plan! Okay, think. Sakuya kept doing this teleporting trick where she'd pop up, attack someone in melee, then disappear before we could retaliate. But while Satori and I were getting occasional, one-off attacks, Reisen was taking the brunt of it, with Sakuya devoting much longer and extended skirmishes to the rabbit. Despite me being the one she wants, and her being on a time limit. Why?

"Reisen's the threat," Satori said, firing another spray of red danmaku as Sakuya popped in and out of the vicinity. "Her hallucinations could cause Sakuya to miss something if given time to build up, and she has an actual gun."

Which was why Sakuya was never giving her a clear shot. I missed Sakuya with a blast of psychic power, deflected another knife and considered. "Damn it, how did people beat her before? Ordinary, vulnerable-to-knives people?"

Satori hesitated, but it was Reisen that answered. "Reimu tricked her into a binding and hit her while she was trapped." The rabbit panted, shuddering a little in midair as she pulled a knife from her leg. "Marisa managed to seal off an entire hallway and blew the whole thing up."

Ugh. I couldn't replicate those feats, but maybe the ideas behind them would be workable. Some form of damage over time that couldn't be avoided at all, a checkmate situation where it didn't matter how she reacted, or a surprise attack that she couldn't react to. Well, there was no point to the first one - the battle already had a time limit what with immune-to-knives backup arriving, adding a second one was redundant. Nothing in my arsenal could actually checkmate someone who could stop time - even if I threw out some sort of massive explosion, Sakuya could just freeze time until she was outside the blast radius. So that left a sucker punch. But how? Most magic generally wasn't subtle, and that went double for hastily-rigged spells capable of incapcitation. Not to mention the maid had to know a mage of her own to use that tracking book trick. So what exactly did I have that her friend wouldn't?

... and the the answer came to me. This would take some setup, but I was there when Nitori used all those water spellcards. Any of them would do, the wider ranging the better.

Satori glanced doubtfully in my direction, and I shot her an irritated look. Just go with it already!

[Recollection - Torrential Downpour]

An absolute flood of water-based danmaku poured out, spinning in circles and spirals aroud Satori and forcing Reisen and I to make some evasive maneuvers of our own. The maid dodged it easily, of course- but then again, hitting her directly was never really an option. I dodged further into the storm, and started charging a massive globe of light.

"Behold, my ultimate attack!" I said, ducking out of the way of a bullet and desperately trying to keep a straight face. "The light that bound the seven demons of the far east!"

(I could see Satori shooting me an incredulous look, and knew I would be lucky to ever live this down. At least Greg looked to be unconscious.)

Sakuya was staring cooly at me from a distance - come on, take the bait - so I continued, pumping more energy into the sphere and continuing to improvise melodramatic lines.

The sphere of light was continuing to grow, and starting to become a real strain to control when finally the maid disappeared from sight and there was another pain in my side. This one was far more painful, far more dangerous, and there was a bloody knife sticking out of me... but that was the price to pay for the chance to strike back. Because the instant I got stabbed, I lost containment on that globe of "light". Or to be precise, the globe of electrical energy in a sea of water danmaku.

It discharged.

I'd never been electrocuted before. And judging by her reaction, I don't think Sakuya had ever been electrocuted before. I wasn't in position to follow up, (being too busy with compulsive convulsing), but I had allies.

"Reisen, now!"

There was a clap of thunder - several claps, and Sakuya was knocked back through the air plummeting down into the ground and splashing mud everywhere. For an instant, she seemed frozen, colors and spell circles glowing around her, and there was another burst of gunfire. The noise - it felt like my ears were bleeding.

There were sparks of light and Sakuya didn't flinch, sitting up and wiping mud from her dress, the spellcard circles moving with her.

Wait, those weren't my doing. Marisa was down, Greg was down, Satori didn't imitate spells in that way, so who? The question was answered an instant later as Sakuya got to her feet and I realized the spell circles, no, the spell barriers were being generated by a quintet of books circling the maid.

"Patchouli," said Satori, her eyes wide. "She's getting remote assistance from Patchouli."

"I tried not to use it," Sakuya said, still twitching on occasion as she flew back into the air. "I did not wish the fallout of my actions to bode poorly for her."

"If you leave now," I said, clutching my side, "We promise not to tell anyone."

She actually laughed at that. It was a demure, pleasant sound, like those little silver Christmas bells. Entirely unfitting for this psychopath.

"No," she said. "This ends now."

The barrier surrounding Sakuya vanished as the spell circles changed form, the books now open and facing in the same direction as the mage, glowing a reddish-orange with (quite literal) fire-power. Then the maid disappared from sight, and the books went with her. There was a sudden intense heat at my back, and I knew exactly what was about to happen.

Damn.

One explosion and a few seconds later I was flat on my back on the ground. I leaned my head up to look at the damage, saw that the back of my arm was well-done, and wasn't sure if I wanted to see what was done to my back. Surprisingly little pain. That actually made sense, this had to be at least third degree burns, and that implies nerve damage. The remaining small pieces of the backpack were raining down around me. (Honestly, I was surprised it had survived the electrocution.) I could fly without it, so it wasn't the biggest loss, but it made me a little sad. Which was weird, considering I was about to lose a whole lot more. I guess it hadn't sunk in yet.

The battle continued in the sky, but was now decidedly one-sided. Sakuya had been managing well enough just instantly appearing behind people with knives. Those magical books were both far more dangerous and far more varied, and Reisen fell in short order. Satori resorted to spamming spellcards to keep the maid away, and while there was some impressive elemental variety that I hadn't see before, it was only a matter of time, and not much of that.

And then a doll appeared.

"Sumireko! Hold on a little longer! I'm almost there, and I've got Eirin with me!"

Sakuya appeared out of nowhere, absolutely shattered the poor doll with a knife, and scowled. "It would seem I need to finish this now." She flickered, and a spell circle appeared around me. One of the books started glowing, and I braced myself for the worst, only for Sakuya and the books to be swallowed in a familiar black sphere. Fear and hope warred in me for a moment, and-

[Recollection - Orb of Midnight]
Oh. It's not Greg.

"Your gratitude is overwhelming," Satori said, one arm bracing the other as she focused on the spellcard. And then she dove to the side just before Sakuya came charging through it, the magic barrier from the books having been used to punch a hole in the orb. Sakuya stopped time, and appeared behind her before showing up in front of her. Apparently Satori had expected the first trick but not the second, and got stabbed in the old fashioned way, falling from the sky.

I could see Alice and the dolls on the horizon now, flying this way with someone I didn't recognize. But it was just a little too late.

Sakuya time-skipped over to where Greg was laying (which... was up against the wall out of the way of the fight? You're not sure when or how that happened.). Again the runic circle, again the book started glowing,

"No!" I cried, and the book vanished, along with Greg.

Wait. Vanished! No residue, no radiation, no smoking crater... I thought that magical signature seemed familiar, it was a teleport! He wasn't dead, just somewhere else. Probably the maid's home base. Which might be worse, but there was at least technically hope.

And then Sakuya was in front of me, preparing the exact same teleport circle, one more time. Except... despite lying in the mud, severely injured and borderline incapacitated, I wasn't completely magically drained. Teleporting was something I understood, at least well enough to mess with. I couldn't stop the spell... well, maybe I could, but if I did Sakuya would just knock me out and set it up again. But I could throw off the aim. Which would leave me helpless for the next youkai to wander along, but there wasn't time to think of anything else.

So, whatever gods are listening... please keep me and my friend safe. I'll do anything.

Then I gathered what was left of my magic and threw it into the teleport. Long distance, random direction.

My surroundings warped - in a very different way from usual, and I saw a red mansion for an instant before panicking and pushing that little bit more... and then the image shattered and my surroundings spun.

The last thing I saw before passing out was a glimpse of green hair.

End of Part One.
Woah cliffhanger. Glad you're still alive OP. Can't wait to see where the story tumbles down from here
Man, I picked the wrong week to come down with a cold. But at last, it's done! Also, I'm never declaring "to be concluded" in advance again. This could have been three updates, with choices.

Anyway, now that the end-of-part update is done, I'm going on hiatus for a while. My motivation definitely died out towards the end there, and real life commitments are still pressing, so I'm taking some time off from writing. How long remains to be seen, but my current guess is that I'll start part 2 some time in December. It will resume though. This story still has a long way to go before we even approach an ending.

In the meantime, there's always the possibility of intermission updates. Not guaranteeing anything, but we'll see how I feel about writing in a couple weeks. Or for that matter, if there's any questions you want to ask me about the story, now would be the time. (I'll try to answer anything that isn't too spoilery.)

Regardless, thanks for reading! I hope you're as invested in Gregor and co's journey as I am, and we'll be back to the action towards the end of the year.

Lost Soul out.
>>203033
Holy shit, Thanks for the the large conclusion.

So this is the end of act 1. GM LostSoul, thank you so far for continuing and running the story with us. I absolutely love your story and setting and hope to see more in the future. I hope to see you soon for Act 2.

Regarding questions, so far they only one I can think of now is what would have happened if we chose to go to Keine instead? Would we have gotten headbutted into unconsciousness instead?
>>203035
Got several questions I'm curious about, I'll list them off for convenience:

-Did the roach backstory come to you as you saw the vote or was it something that were coming around to eventually?
-What votes did you dislike/were fun/gave you trouble/inspired your writing? (Those are 4 different questions).
-Will the Koishi doll carry significance in changing Koishi's UL/restoring her emotions?
-Since it's likely too spoiler, I'll instead ask for a vague hint towards what Remilia's botched UL is.
-Will we see players from AoCF (No/Yes suffices)?
-It almost seemed to me like the rag-tag gang was going to collect enough stage bosses for Reimu to beat in common incident-resolution fashion. Did a similar thought ever cross your mind?
-Will Greg meet Wriggle? Possibly!
I am so happy to see a finish to this part 1. This read is so much fun in all of the interactions between all of the characters.

I will wait patiently for you to build up motivation in the story again, and know you will because this story is awesome.
>>203036
So, I tend to improvise a lot while writing. While there are some specific story beats I try to steer things towards, sometimes things can go completely off the rails because it made sense in the moment. (A good example of this is the Satori vs Nitori battle. I had no idea Satori was going to blow up the pond until I wrote the update.)

So with that in mind, all I can give you are some rough guidelines. Keine is generally friendly and all about helping humans, so she probably would have cooperated off the bat. Particularly since Sumireko hit it off with Mokou in canon, and you'd have had decent odds of seeing her there. Of course, it would't have been completely danger free, you'd probably have risked running into Miko or Byakuren due to still being in the general vicinity of the village.

Although now that I think about it, it's also very possible she would have been annoyed with you the moment she realized you were behind the incident. Creating/deleting history in an incident about urban legends sounds like an ability that would be very in-demand, and I could see her running herself ragged to make sure no overly harmful urban legends take root...

>>203037
In order then...

-) The roach thing was entirely spur of the moment from the vote. If you mean Gregor's backstory as a character, that's something I've actually got more concrete ideas on. Which, granted, didn't really come together until after the story started, but it's something I've been slowly building up in my head.

-) So, votes I disliked... I don't remember off the top of my head any examples, but I remember one or two times early on where there were "illusion of choice" votes where I figured the obvious choice was obvious and the others were merely there to make it look like there were options... and you guys promptly picked one of the other options. I learned pretty quickly to not offer an option unless I was actually prepared to write it. The other set of votes I ended up disliking were some of the relationship/drama stuff in Alice's house, but that's more my fault for bad pacing and letting it all drag out.
-) As for fun votes, my personal favorite was when you guys brought in Koishi for the doll enchantment. That directly led to a lot of shenanigans, and a bit more insight into Koishi as a character. And as a general rule of thumb, I tend to appreciate anything with a clever write-in.
-) The top vote that gave me trouble was definitely when everyone decided to kiss Satori for distracting Koishi. It had both massive support and was legitimately a good idea, so I couldn't ignore it, but Gregor just wasn't the kind of guy who would do that on a whim. It took me a few updates to actually set it up and justify it in-story, but I'm pretty happy with how it all came out. Aside from that, any time the story seems like it's stalling can be tricky to write; updates where it feels like nothing major happens are hard to work up motivation for.
-) Votes inspiring writing are mostly the same as the trouble/fun votes. As a general rule of thumb, I think what's fun to read is also fun to write, so any time the update promises to be interesting, I'm more motivated to tackle it. I do enjoy writing spellcard battles, there's a surprising amount of room for creativity there.

-) Regarding the Koishi doll meaningfully helping Koishi... it's hard to say. There is at least one viable way in which it could happen, and there's other viable ways that don't involve it at all.

-) I actually don't mind revealing this one, since it'll be shown within the first couple updates of part 2 anyway. Remilia's botched urban legend hasn't quite been finalized yet, but it'll almost certainly be something about vampires. Basically, it'll be something which does meaningfully increase her strength... but also actually inflicts those vampire weaknesses. Which, considering she's barely subject to any of the classic ones in canon, is a very bad deal for her.

-) Joon and Shion will show up if and only if the perfect possession incident makes it to the story. (Which is actually possible. The incident is fairly low-stakes by itself, but perfect possession could have interesting consequences for the story.) Yukari's definitely going to show up at some point. Tenshi is plausible, but also not important to anything in particular. Doremy has pretty good odds, considering her relevance to both the more serious aspect of the prefect possession incident and the whole business with LoLK.

-) Sort of, but not in the way you might think. If anything, I was worried I was making the party size too large. Greg/Satori/Sumireko have a pretty clear dynamic, and the there's Alice, who I'm having some trouble meaningfully differentiating from the other three. The odds of Reimu or one of the other incident resolvers actually just fighting through the party one at a time are extremely low, simply because Greg and Sumi have no incentive to fight like that. What Sakuya just did is the closest thing we're likely to get to an incident resolver fighting their way through the party in the classic game style.

-) It's quite possible. Heck, he deserves a fight against someone he can actually beat 1v1.
I had this theory for a while, but is roach some kind of shikigami/familiar?

we had some foreshadowing in the form of miko saying he was born be a follower but not quite, the ability to use spell cards and, finally, the somewhat direct involvement of Ran in the middle of a high stake fight.

it makes me think the idea is not unreasonable.
The story you've been writing has been a lovely adventure so far.

The wait inbetween updates has been one that felt reminiscent to the times of giddy and impatient anticipation of early childhood and an unabated rush of excitement of seeing the story on the top of the list of 'latest story updates' is telling of my engagement with it.
The nature of your approach gives it a whimsy I adore. The writing's simple and descriptive, which comes to be a strength in the action and tension filled sequences.

A good part of my engagement certainly comes from your update speed, for sure. It keeps the spark, that little part of my mind dedicated to the reading experience you're building aglow.
The choices are open, clear in their implication and strong in impact of plot progression. That seems to be the characteristic of a good cyoa in my mind.

I don't have a closing thought; just read the first sentence of this post again instead.
If we're doing shitty theories, mine is that pretty soon Roach's urban legend will kick in while inside the mansion - after all, Koishi has been doing her best for a while now. Invisible Man would turn the mansion segment into an unlikely MGS3-tier escape sequence alongside some nasty consequences down the line. Slender Man would make for a clutch trick with stunning things, but not actually helpful long-term - it's more of a better fit for Sakuya, now that I think of it. Vanishing Hitchhiker would let us see more of Gensokyo without getting tied down to the main party through the excuse of getting stuck with it.

Alternatively, we could see Satori's urban legend soon. Or playing it straight is fine too, as long as there is a proper pattern to things. Our party going nuclear would be a sight to see.
Oooh shitty theories, this I have to throw my hat into. For possible future Urban Legends, I think the Chupacabra fits Remi a bit with the whole blood-sucking thing. Jack the Ripper also fits pretty well with Sakuya. His killings and subsequent mutilations might line up with Sakuya "preparing" food for Remi and Flan. Although, personally I believe those two only drink/eat human blood and don't actually eat human meat since they're classy vampires and not plebeian zombies (no offense Yoshika).
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203115
{-} Check in on Sumireko

Some days I really don't feel like getting out of bed. Usually it's payback for burning the midnight oil. Despite my enjoyment of studying magic long past three in the morning, there's a certain amount of sleep my body does actually need. I've found out the hard way that arcane rituals to bypass that are a great way to crash even harder a day or two later. After a certain point, Greg declared war on that particular habit, via the absolutely infuriating ability of being bright and chipper while he paid me a visit at six in the morning. He was eventually successful, and I'll admit that moderating my sleep schedule is probably for the best. And if the smoke detector in his house just so happened to misfire in the middle of the night, nobody can prove it was me.

Less frequently, it's a function of magical exhaustion. Back on earth, we tried a lot of experiments before the occult balls. A spell has to be at least close to viable before it'll do anything aside from just dissipating harmlessly, but that doesn't stop the attempt from tiring you out. It also didn't stop us from committing negligent arson the one time. (Though considering what was lurking within that particular building, it was for the best.) The point is, there is a price to pay for flagrantly rewriting reality. It's why most of my magic is supported by as many magical props and tools as I can come up with; it stops me from feeling like death warmed over the following day.

And sometimes, it's a function of discouragement. There are days where it feels like none of it really matters. That it'll never make any difference no matter what I do, so why bother? Upwards of ninety-nine percent of the population would think me insane for talking about magic, (eccentric if they feel like being diplomatic about it), and no amount of proof will get around how everyone knows magic isn't real. I could literally fly across a room while conjuring fireballs, and all I'd get were compliments on a really neat magic trick. Finding out about Gensokyo helped out with that, but there were still times where crafting the occult balls, bridging the dimensional gap... it just felt too big. If Greg wasn't always there, always interested, always ready to push forwards and figure out how this ancient wonder could function as an occult ball... I don't know if I'd have ever finished it. And even then, I whether it'd really be worth it, whether we'd actually find any sort of interesting youkai.

And as I blearily came back to consciousness, I missed the days when those were my worst problems. Find interesting youkai. What the hell was I thinking? I was probably dead. I was almost certainly as good as dead, and I gave it even odds that Greg was already dead. I shifted uncomfortably at the thought, and was hit with immediate regret as my abused body reminded me of what I'd put it through. Nothing unexpected, just stabbing pain from, you know, the stab wounds. And the third degree burns. Oh, and probably some lingering effects from electrocuting myself, but it was hard to separate that from everything else. Everything hurt. I opened my eyes to try and see where I was, groaning as I tilted my head to look around.

I was in a bed. Normally people would expect to wake up on one, but the fact that I actually did meant someone had found me. And hadn't decided to kill me immediately, so that probably made me the lucky one. (Or depending on exactly who or what found me, extremely unlucky. A fate worse than death wasn't off the table yet.) It was an actual, normal, non-hospital bed, which ruled out Eientei, and... most of the other locations I'd seen, honestly. The room looked like it was meant to be brightly colored, but the only lighting was the ambient light from the window, a dim greyness that was only barely enough to make out details. The furniture was standard bedroom fare; an end table by the bed, a shelf attached to one wall, and a mirror above a dresser on the other wall. They were well made, wooden and polished, but the mirror had several cracks running along its surface, as did the window. I couldn't see much with the curtains drawn, but I could tell there was a dark forest outside.

But the most noticeable thing were the dolls. They weren't like Alice's dolls, those were both larger and finely crafted, while these were clearly homemade, small things of paper paired up in what honestly looked like a birds nest. They covered every available surface except the end table, and a pile of them on the floor next to the end table revealed what happened there. So, someone new then. Maybe someone who knew Alice, given the doll thing? Though even if this was another doll-using magician, similar abilities did not mean they'd automatically be friendly. Marisa alone was proof of that.

Damn that witch! If she hadn't shown up when she did, then none of this would have happened! Greg would have gotten the local magic medicine, and we'd be on to hunting for the next clue to urban legends, one step closer to getting out of this nightmare! Not to mention Marisa was the one who injured Greg in the first place, and told that psychotic maid what to look for! Or if Tewi hadn't ratted us out, Marisa wouldn't have been a problem either! Or... or that tankui who tricked us and trapped us here in the first place! Of all the stupid, idiotic, gullible things to fall for... I pounded a fist against the bed ineffectually and took a moment to... well, rant. Not out loud, of course, I'm not that foolish, but I needed a minute to go over all the ways all the dwellers of Gensokyo had screwed me and Greg over, and assign the blame accordingly. For all the stupid ways stupid youkai were stupidly hostile over stupid urban legends, and now we were going to die stupid deaths in this horrible little pocket dimension!

The rage burned out after a minute or so. No matter how I thought about it, it all came back to the occult balls, and whose fault was that? I wiped at my eyes. This wasn't going to help. It wasn't even cathartic, beyond the part where I wondered if maybe I deserved to feel miserable. I... I needed something to go right. I was still alive, somehow, but I was going to need help. First to patch up all of my injuries, and then to rescue Greg. And probably Satori too.

The fact that I wasn't under lock and key meant that whoever had found me probably wasn't malicious. Or maybe just that they hadn't realized who I was. Still, I had to start somewhere, and this was the obvious step. Gingerly I pulled myself up to a sitting position, doing my best not to cry out, and after a couple of deep breaths, maneuvered my legs out over the edge of the bed. For a moment I considered just waiting here until whoever-it-was came to check on me, but in the end I hesitantly lowered myself down.

Of course, the moment I actually tried to stand, pain shot through the leg Sakuya had stabbed, and only a death grip on the bedpost stopped me from falling to the floor with a cry.

I suppose that counted as a new reason not to get out of bed. I took a moment to reconsider how I wanted to proceed...

((While the main points of the next update for this branch will be the same regardless, this choice will set the general tone for how Sumireko attempts to function around her injuries.))

{-} Proceed carefully, avoid aggravating the injury - Return to the bed, wait for your mysterious benefactor to show.
{-} Fight through the pain, do what needs to be done - Use the furniture and walls for leverage, stagger around and find whoever lives here.
{-} Try to bypass the problem with clever use of magic - Hypothetically, you should have enough magic to fly, and that would not require putting weight on anything...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And we're back! I won't make any promises on update speed just yet, but I'd like to get back to the fast update schedule. We'll see how it goes, I guess.

More to the point, since we split the party, we're also splitting the narrative. I've decided to keep it all in the same thread, but from here on out, updates are going to alternate between Greg and Sumireko. It's not a hard and fast rule (depending on where things go, I may commit to Greg or Sumi for multiple updates in a row), but that's the plan. For ease of keeping track, please use {} for Sumireko-branch choices and [] for Greg-branch choices.

Anyway, points to anyone who's figured out which Touhou found Sumireko. If you've paid close attention, there's just enough information to tell.
It's Hina, isn't it. That's literally bad luck. Time to get the hell out of dodge.
{-} Try to bypass the problem with clever use of magic - Hypothetically, you should have enough magic to fly, and that would not require putting weight on anything...
We need to know how much magic we have so we can blast/trick our way out of here.
{-} Return to the bed, wait for your mysterious benefactor to show.

Take it easy Sumeriko, you can strain yourself after making sure that Hina isn't going to hurt you or anything like that. Do try something minor like lifting an object to see if that's possible rather than risking failing to fly and hurt yourself even more.
{x} Proceed carefully, avoid aggravating the injury - Return to the bed, wait for your mysterious benefactor to show.

Before this particular update I was guessing she appeared before Sanae. The damaged interiors and the paper dolls rule that out.
{-} Try to bypass the problem with clever use of magic - Hypothetically, you should have enough magic to fly, and that would not require putting weight on anything...
{X} Try to bypass the problem with clever use of magic - Hypothetically, you should have enough magic to fly, and that would not require putting weight on anything...

After everything that happened, I think that she might be the best character to appear next.

Also, Welcome back Soul. Glad to see you again!
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[-] Check in with Gregor.

You woke up in a bed. Normally this would be the expected state of affairs, but... you have the oddest sense of deja vu for a moment, and shake off that train of thought. The point is, you're alive, and you feel nowhere near as terrible as you'd expected. You feel sore, sure, but it's more of a bruised and tired sore than a broken bones one. You put a hand to your chest, feeling the bandages there and pushing slightly... which results in a little pain, but nothing like what a broken rib should have produced.

You'd been healed! Which meant...

"So you're finally awake." It wasn't a voice you were familiar with.

You weren't quite sure if she was a youkai, but this being Gensokyo, it was a fair guess. She had a green dress and hat, using white as a secondary color around the shoulders and waist. Long red hair came down to her waist, most of it hanging free, bracketed by braids coming down towards her chest. She was standing, arms crossed, scowling at you.

Probably security of some sort. That would explain why she was irritated; guards tended to angry when stuff they were guarding got destroyed, and considering you were in the general proximity of a lot of danmaku lately, it's not entirely unfair for her to blame you. And considering you woke up in a small tent, as opposed to an actual building, there might have been a lot of destruction. But that's not your first concern.

"Are Sumireko and Satori okay? And Alice too, for that matter?"

She rolls her eyes. "Nobody died, if that's what you're worried about."

You breathe a sigh of relief. "Good. Sorry for all the trouble."

"Sorry?" she looked incredulous. "Sorry!? Do you think that covers it?"

"We never meant to draw Sakuya to your doorstep!" you explain hurriedly. The guard pauses, expression unreadable, and you take the chance to elaborate. "We didn't come here to exploit urban legends or drag you into the incident, I swear!"

"What?"

"Satori explained about Eientei's neutrality and all that. We were just trying to get treatment for my broken rib," you glance down at the mostly-healed injury, "thanks for that, by the way - we had no idea Sakuya would even be there. I'm guessing Reisen and the others managed to drive her off?"

The guard still looks upset, though you're not entirely sure why - did someone else get seriously hurt in the conflict? However, after a moment the guard gives you a tight smile.

"Yeah, close enough. Sumireko definitely gave Sakuya some trouble."

"Yeah, sounds like her. I hope she didn't do anything drastic." You wouldn't put it past her to try to strong-arm things, especially with Marisa trying to arrest you, but hopefully Satori was able to keep her in check.

"Yeah, drastic. That's a good way to put it."

Oh boy. You sigh and look away. "We're in trouble, aren't we?"

"Not from Eientei." You look up, and her expression is bordering on smug. "Tell you what, the boss is going to want to speak to you personally. You stay right here, I'll send her in."

The guard starts walking away, and you call out, "Thanks, Miss...?"

She hesitates for a moment, but does answer. "Meiling."

The name sounds familiar, but you can't place it. Meiling exits the tent, and you hear laughter as she walks away.

[-] To be continued.
So many updates at on Thp today...I'm a happy anon

Can't wait to see how much trouble Gregor is gonna be in, poor lad is gonna be walked over by Remilia.

Either way, thanks for the update writer! and I shall await the next part eagerly
Thanks Soul. Misunderstanding Greg is hilarious.

Haven't seen the spoiler for what is happening in SDM but he's going to offer his help again isn't he?
{X} Proceed carefully, avoid aggravating the injury - Return to the bed, wait for your mysterious benefactor to show.

This story is amazing. Please keep up the good work.
{x} Try to bypass the problem with clever use of magic - Hypothetically, you should have enough magic to fly, and that would not require putting weight on anything...
ayy! The story continues! I wonder who Sumireko is with? Poor Gregor though, misunderstanding a situation so badly.
Update in the next day or two; I've had to catch up on work after Thanksgiving.
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203158
{x} Try to bypass the problem with clever use of magic... but carefully.

Sometimes, people tell me I need to face reality.

What those people don't know is that I can tell reality to shut up and sit down. Oh, it's not easy, and I do have to be careful about breaking all the laws of physics, but what's the point of being a brilliant magician if you can't solve your problems with magic?

So walking's a bad idea because of my leg injury. Fine. I could just fly, but then I need to worry about details like landing. Not to mention precision flight indoors is difficult at the best of times. I did have a cape for that, but Greg was currently holding on... well, had been holding on to it. He'd better still have it, or he was going to make the new one.

However, sometimes less is more, and in this case, the "less" is actually less power. The stab wound is in my left calf, which means the upper-half of that leg can support me just fine... and in particular, if I use a little TK (telekinesis) to hold up my leg via the thigh, that lets me stand without putting any pressure on the actual wound.

Creating the rune was simple enough. Sakuya had been kind enough to provide me with easy access to my own blood, and while someone had bandaged the wounds for me (another point for the good Samaritan theory), it was child's play to bypass that. And while poking at my own wounds is another entry in the questionable life decisions column, that let me draw runes for mana storage and levitation on my stocking. Large, unwieldy, messy runes, but they did the job. Thankfully my skirt was long enough to hide the evidence, at least as long as I stayed upright. Being covered in blood is bad enough, but having blood drawn on you in a pattern is one of those things that gets you uninvited from tea parties and other polite events.

That said, the rune worked like a charm, and I could feel the magic taking effect. Hesitantly, I slipped my legs off the bed again, and this time my bad leg stopped a few inches off the floor, the magic pushing up on my leg above the knee. That worked. Felt weird as all get out, but it worked.

Walking, on the other hand, was a little trickier. While I could move my magically-supported leg, I couldn't use it to actually push myself forwards without changing the enchantment. Which meant to actually walk forwards, I had to step with my good leg, pivot around on my good leg to bring my magically supported leg back in front, and then step forwards with the good leg again. In the end, it more or less looked like I was hobbling along, trying my best not to move my injured leg.

Whatever. I wouldn't want to try my luck fighting like this, but it got me to the door without falling down, so I was counting it as a win. I took a deep breath, reached out for the door handle, and immediately had the breath knocked out of me as someone suddenly opened the door from the other side.

My luck being what it was, I was in the direct path of said door. And the doorknob was aligned perfectly with the other stab wound in my side. And while the door wasn't slammed open the way I sometimes (okay, usually) did, it was opened quickly enough to make contact.

I let out a pained gasp, backed up reflexively, and knocked my head on the shelf. I put down my foot for balance, forgot that the magically supported leg was NOT playing with friction, lost my balance, and toppled to the floor in a heap.

That didn't knock me unconscious or anything, but it was bloody painful. I put a hand to feel the bump on the back of my head, realized it came away wet, and growled, "Of all the stupid-"

"Oh, I'm so sorry! I felt misfortune moving around up here and came to check, but- I'm so sorry!"

Hearing that apologetic voice, my anger bled away... though to where is yet to be determined, with the current state of my body, there were multiple options for that! If you couldn't tell, irritation remained. It was, in fact, tempered with the good sense that I shouldn't swear or cast magic at the person-slash-youkai who had found me while unconscious.

The woman in question looked human, but given her hair was bright green, I was going with youkai. That, or punk rocker in a teenage rebel phase, but between the way she sounded motherly and had her hands clasped while she did a demure little 'oh no!' gasp... yeah, definitely youkai. She had on a red dress that was much darker towards the midsection and white frills at the bottom. Interestingly, I'm pretty sure the pattern separating the darker and lighter reds was designed after the Mandelbrot set, as were the frills on the bottom. She wore sensible black boots, and had a red ribbon both wrapped around one arm and tied in her hair. There was also a green spiral on her dress, the color matching her hair. I'm... not really sure what that was about.

I sighed. "Well, you made me stop moving, so good job on that."

"You shouldn't be moving in the first place!"

I gritted my teeth. "Yes, well, if it's all the same to you, could we have this discussion in a setting that involves chairs?"

"Oh, sorry! I mean, of course!"

The woman bent down to pull me up and I let her do the work of pulling me to my feet, which she did rather effortlessly. So... more than human strength, check. She gestured for me to sit on the bed, and after a moment's thought, I did.

"So, I'm guessing you're the one who found me?"

"Yes. I was down at the river collecting nagashi-bina dolls when you simply appeared out of nowhere."

"Collecting... aren't those dolls used to ward off bad luck? As in, literally trap it and send it floating away?"

She seemed surprised at the question. "Well, yes. As a pestilence god, I can store and manipulate misfortune."

Hmm... that might just be an explanation. I leaned forwards, intent. "So when you were collecting misfortune and I, ah, appeared out of nowhere... was I particularly unlucky?"

She looked troubled, but nodded. "Yes. Like few others I'd ever seen."

And with that, it clicked. Tewi. I was certain I'd heard something about that rabbit giving good luck, and if she could give good luck, I'd bet money she could take it away. That furry little backstabber! Quite literally, if it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all.

The goddess looked even more troubled when I burst out laughing. Granted, that probably wasn't the average person's reaction to being told, by a goddess of bad luck, that they had some of the worst luck she'd ever seen. I considered trying to explain that it was almost certainly blind teleporting with massive amounts of bad luck that drew me here, a result that paradoxically counted as good luck... and decided that, incidental helpfulness aside, she didn't need to know all that. "Sorry, sorry. It's just.. oh, nevermind. I don't think I got your name?"

The worried look never left her face, but she accepted the change of subject. "Hina. Hina Kagiyama."

It hit me right after I asked that that I'd need to give her a name, and what-with my current circumstances and all that, I was much better off using a fake one. "Well, extreme bad luck aside, it's nice to meet you. I'm Renko Hearn."

I am not good at making up names. Look, it's important not to hesitate if you're going to lie, and that was the first thing that popped into my head.

Thankfully, Hina didn't seem to notice as she gave me a nod. "Well, Renko, I don't mean to pry, but the misfortune surrounding you is," she shuddered, "awful. What happened to you?"

{-} Tell her you had a run-in with Tewi. If she knows the source of the bad luck, maybe she can counter it, and the last thing you need is another disadvantage.
{-} Tell her you were attacked by an unknown youkai. You're much better off not leaving a trail if at all possible, and it'd be just your luck for Marisa or someone to track you down here.
{-} Write-in?

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

Congrats to the anon who figured out it was Hina! The cracked mirror and nagashi-bina dolls (along with that glimpse of green hair from the end of part 1) were meant to be the clues there.

Anyway, in point of fact, Sanae was the original plan, and who I had in mind when I wrote the end to part 1... but if Sumireko woke up at the Moriya shrine, you'd be laughably outgunned by the various gods there. And while that could be an interesting place to take the story, it felt too much like a railroad for me, especially since the other half of the story already features Greg being captured by the SDM. So I rethought the idea, and realized that Hina made a surprising degree of sense, thanks to Tewi's shenanigans. I'm pretty pleased with how it's playing out so far.
{X} Tell her you had a run-in with Tewi. If she knows the source of the bad luck, maybe she can counter it, and the last thing you need is another disadvantage.
{X} Tell her you had a run-in with Tewi. If she knows the source of the bad luck, maybe she can counter it, and the last thing you need is another disadvantage.

Thanks for the chapter.

Teleporting right to Hina after the fight with Twei. Can't say if that is lucky or unlucky but either way, it is quite the coincidence.

Also, it nice to see the contrast between Greg's and Sumireko's POV.
{X} Tell her you had a run-in with Tewi. If she knows the source of the bad luck, maybe she can counter it, and the last thing you need is another disadvantage.
Why did we trust them rabbits man
{x}Write-In Maybe it's a continous sequence of unfortunate events, maybe it's an urban legend - who knows? Since you left your home you had at the least one encounter for each day in which you escaped disaster by a hair's breadth - which is the truth while it's ommiting a few certain details.
{x}Write-In Maybe you crossed paths with someone and it cursed you with misfortune or you crossed someone and they took away your good luck? Is there a way to look into this?

Should get the best of both worlds relative anonymity and possible treatment against the misfortune
That Mokou story got me into making more ambitious write-ins
{X} Tell her you had a run-in with Tewi. If she knows the source of the bad luck, maybe she can counter it, and the last thing you need is another disadvantage.

Hey, it is Hina! Glad to see one of my favorite characters here. Thanks for the chapter
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