"Gah-mmpf!" The pain from the sheer load of information interrupted my flight, sending me face-first into the snow-laden forest floor. I get to my feet quickly, spitting out a mouthful of slush as I look for any unaccounted-for witnesses. "Gods, don't send so much info while I'm flying! You're lucky I was only a couple decimeters in the air!" I look at the meter-long behind me. Yukari's probably doing that annoying chuckle-softly-behind-her-fan thing now. Ugh, whatever..." I evaporate the snow off my dress and take to the air. "Why the hell did I never fireproof my other clothes?"
I continue on my way, ignoring the periodic pulse of Yukari's scrying, as I sort out the info. "Okay, so it's like the vertical parts in Salamander, but with a lot more bullets. The main incidents are covered in the main games, and the miko and the witch are the basic protagonists. You guys are pretty up to date on the incidents, too... Hey, we're here!"
I emerge into a small clearing in the forest, Alice's well-maintained house stationed at the edge of the flora. The front door is guarded by two dolls holding jousting lances, each one staring outward with their empty eyes. Figuring that stealth isn't really needed for a friendly visit, I whistle softly to test their abilities. Immediately, they turn their bodies in my direction. I decide to get down to business as I approach the guard dolls.
The moment I hover under the extended portion of the roof, the dolls ready their weapons, soulless eyes showing no emotion. "I wish to speak with Alice over urgent matters concerning Marisa's well-being," I announce bluntly. The sound of porcelain shattering comes from within the building, followed by rushed steps of increasing volume. After a second of silence, the door opens, revealing Alice with several dolls behind her and a book clutched tightly in her left arm. A forced calm demeanor is evident on her face; her fiery glare betrays the illusion.
"What happened to Marisa this time?" She says with little emotion, save for a slight sigh over the word "this".
"She is currently in stable condition at Eientei, where she is recovering from a five-story fall." The puppeteer's posture visibly relaxes, proceeding to put a hand to her forehead.
The dolls behind her begin floating off, dismissed. "Please refrain from alerting me about every little injury Marisa suffers."
I give her a look of disbelief. "Wait, that's a little injury to you?"
"You'd be surprised at how much she can take for a human," she says with a faint smile. "I assume you have another reason for being here."
I shake my head to realign my train of thought back onto its rails. "Yes, actually. Do you mind if we talk further inside?"
Alice nods and turns around, heading for the kitchen. I enter the building, a doll closing the door behind me. I follow her into the kitchen, where the scent of eggs is prominent. several dolls dart around, tending to various tasks. One carries a small bag full of the remains of a teacup. Alice's voice by the table grabs my attention. "I would imagine that you have something to do with Marisa's state if you chose to come here personally."
I take a seat on a small chair on the table. "Must be for a doll." I rub the back of my head sheepishly, still somewhat guilty over what happened. "Yeah, I kind of pissed her off at the shrine. I was arranging a prank on Cirno, you see, and I was getting some help."
A doll hands a cup full of tea to Alice and bows before flying away. "Those three meddlesome fairies, I assume?" She adds on, taking a sip.
"Yes. Anyway, Marisa stopped by, and she tried leading me away from them for some--"
"Despite their conflicts, Marisa sees the ice fairy as a more childish version of her," Alice explains, then motions for me to continue.
"Wait, how are Marisa and Cirno alike exactly?" I query.
The puppeteer takes another sip of tea before elaborating. "Marisa works very hard to be strong, often injuring herself in the process. I imagine Cirno acts similarly, correct?"
I nod in confirmation. "Very similarly. Getting back on track, she tried pointing me away from my goal. I called her out on it, we exchanged verbal blows, and she exploded and tried to kill me."
Alice interrupts me. "She's usually very playful when trading insults. What exactly did you say to set her off?"
I think back to an hour ago. "Let's see... she wrongly insulted my intelligence, I countered by insulting her breast size, she poked at my outfit--which I also came here to talk about, by the way, I called her manly, she wanted to start a fight, I accused her of stealing our argument and ask her what her parents would say--"
"That did it," Alice states firmly.
"Oh. Did something happen with her and her parents?"
She takes another sip. "Not my place to say. Continue."
I nod. "Before she could attack, Reimu intervened. Marisa said she'd get her revenge and flew off to warn Cirno and her gang."
A pair of dolls floated over, carrying a plate of scrambled eggs. They set it down in front of Alice, who thanked them. As the dolls headed off, she grabs a fork. "That would explain why she didn't come over this morning," she replies, poking a chunk of egg and putting it in her mouth.
Determining that Alice would not be talking much, I wrap up my tale. "I got the help from Sunny and the others, and we were on our way to the lake. When we got there, Marisa and Cirno ambushed us, along with her gang. We both got cocky during the fight and I went overboard and knocked her out of the sky. Remilia sent Sakuya to help take Marisa to Eientei, and I flew over here."
Alice finishes chewing her fifth bite and swallows. "You must be pretty strong to take on Marisa," she analyzes. "I don't think I ever got your name."
I stand up out of the chair to formally introduce myself. "I'm Hinotama, best fire-using fairy around." I stick out my hand in a friendly gesture, before retracting it once I remembered the size difference. Alice gives a smirk before taking another bite.
After a moment of eating it, she speaks. "You wished to have a more fitting outfit, mister Hinotama?"
I take to the air and meet her at eye level. "I was hoping for something less..."
"Girly?" she finishes. "Stop on by later today, I'll have it ready for you." She gets up, the dolls taking care of the leftover dishes and eggs, and begins walking towards the front door.
I hover in place for a moment before following. "Wait, don't you want some form of payment?"
"Your company is payment enough." She opens the door and gestures outside. As I exit, she continues. "You are an interesting fairy, Hinotama. I look forward to seeing you again." The door closes behind me as I collect myself. The "Marisa" and "clothes" issues out of the way, I draw my focus onto the "privacy-invading gap youkai" one.
"Okay, Legion. Now we have to deal with Yukari somehow. Though she doesn't show it, she's pretty damn smart; she'll piece things together eventually. Should we just go out and explain our situation to her, or just let her figure it out on her own? She's unpredictable, so anything could happen either way."
The next update, regardless of what you guys vote for, is where a major part of the story is introduced. Get ready.