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I didn't know this thread's reaching its autosage quota. A couple more updates, and I'll open a new thread. In the meantime, here's the long overdue update.
“Mom, can I ask you something?”
Not missing a beat from wiping Reverie’s face clean of salad dressing, Reimu turns around to see you. “Yes, dear. You can.”
“I know it’s kind of inappropriate, but who else knows Marisa beside you?”
Reimu gasps at the question, staring in disbelief at you before she laughs heartily. “Why, Alyssa, practically everyone knows your mother!”
“Mom, please be specific. I can’t learn all the names in one day, can I?”
“Ah, okay. Let’s see, uh, we’ve met Remilia and the household days ago, you’ve met Mima this morning and…” Mima flaps her eyelashes at you again. This causes Reimu to glare at your Great Aunt, who in turn sticks her tongue at her before she darts back into the cottage. “That Mima, never wants to learn to grow up. Anyway, I could tell you all the names, but I suggest you to go and meet Alice.”
“Yeah, Alice! She’s the best puppeteer around,” Kogasa answers instead of Reimu. “I always go to her place and play with the dolls. She’s really nice, though she can be cold sometimes. Oh, I almost forgot that she usually lives on her own.” Kogasa pauses in a sudden, and you can see hints of mischief in her eyes as she continues. “Usually.”
Cold, living in solitude but really a nice person? Sounds like the kind of person you’d like to visit. “Any idea where I can find her?” you ask.
“She lives deep in the forest. I’d advise you to bring a companion with you; the area is infested with wildlife and feral youkai,” Reimu explains. “Even if you do meet her, you have to do more than just simple greeting if you want to be invited into her home.”
“I’ve meet people similar to her, I can handle that, no worries,” you assure.
“That reminds me. Reika, aren’t you supposed to attend her lesson today?” Reimu asks your half-sister.
“But Mama, I don’t want to! You know I don’t like to study, right?” Reika goes mum when Reimu stares at her, causing the shrine maiden in training to throw her arms upward. “Oh, okay! Fine, I’ll go, but I’m taking Alyssa with me!”
All your objections are silenced by Sylvia’s death glare. You throw a dirty look at her, and she responds by punching you on the shoulder. You keep glowering, only to cause your wife to pout cutely. Sighing in defeat, you get on your feet and fetch your jacket. “Should I consider this as my first job in Gensokyo?” you ask.
“Hey! I’m not an object, and I don’t need an escort,” Reika complains.
“Yeah, sure, whatever,” you say dismissively. “Go on, I’ll walk with you. Besides, I’m in the mood to share you some tricks.” You abruptly stop when Reimu calls you. “Uh, what is it Mom?”
Reimu beckons you to approach her. You do, and she gives you a kiss on the forehead. “Take care of yourself, okay? You’re still new in Gensokyo, so don’t push yourself too much,” she says with a smile.
Still reeling from the kiss, you can only mutter a muffled “…yes, mom” and make a quick exit.
“It’s adventure time! Let’s go, everyone~”
Both you and Reika stare at Kogasa, and the umbrella girl lets out a rather timid giggle. “Can I tag along with you? I’m bored, and Miss Mima wouldn’t play with me. I wanted to play with the wombat too, but it was sleeping dead.”
“Can’t you do what a tsukumogami always does?” Reika asks. A tsukumo-what?
“I’ve had my quota today~” Kogasa answers. Her expression somewhat becomes dreamy, almost as if she has had ecstatic moments. “Three courses of meal a day~ three courses of surprise a day~ what a twist, what a twist~”
“What does this girl exactly do for a living?” you ask Reika in whispers.
“She surprises people, and that’s the whole purpose of her life. To be the best in the field,” Reika answers in whispers.
“Does that mean she’s a joker?” You can’t imagine Kogasa fooling people while wearing silly costume. Of course, you’re not talking about The Joker, because such comparison would be too morbid.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Alyssa,” Reika says.
“I’ve seen strange people before, but not like this,” you tell her.
“I am the bone of my umbrella, thrill is my body and wonder is my blood~” Kogasa continues her one-person singing, and what a nonsense song it is.
The three of you continue walking down the path less travelled, talking and discussing about various topics. The conversation stops only when you arrive at a house deep in the forest. It’s of Western construction, similar to your current home, and from the looks of it it’s stood the test of time. “This is the place?” you ask as you observe the surrounding environment.
“Yeah, the one and only!” Kogasa approaches the door and knocks on it- forget that, she’s practically banging on it. You and Reika stare at the umbrella girl as she continues banging and kicking the door, until you hear it being opened from the inside. A woman walks out of the door and looks at front, and then focuses her attention on Kogasa.
“Surprise, Miss Alice! It’s a lovely afternoon, isn’t it?”
“Uh, Kogasa, I’m having a bit of-” She coughs and clears her throat; the tired look on her face suggests that she’s just woken up or something. “Come by another day, okay?”
“Aw, but I’m already here! Plus you’ve got visitors!” Kogasa waves at you to approach her. You shrug at her enthusiasm and follow her waving hand, until you’re at arm’s length from the woman.
“Good day, ma’am. I suppose we showed up at the wrong time. Are you alright?” you strike a conversation with the woman. Alice, if you can recall the name Kogasa said.
“I’m fine. It’s just the seasonal flu that got me.” She coughs once again, and this prompts you to take her back into the house. “Please! Don’t worry about me. I’m glad I have visitors, you see.”
“Just because you’re happy to see us, whatever the reason is, doesn’t mean you should get too excited. Don’t want the illness to get worse, do we?” you tell her.
“Like I said, I’m fine. I’m not like humans who need medication. The flu will go away after some times.” You stare at her deeply, causing her to fidget and then blush. “Y…you’re right. I shouldn’t get carried away. I’m sorry.”
“May I ask what happened, Miss Alice?” Reika asks as she helps you carrying Alice back to the couch.
Her head plops on the headrest, her throat letting out a somewhat pained groan as she pinches the bridge between her eyes. “I’ve been fixing Goliath for seven days straight without a rest-”
“Seven days!?” the three of you blurt out.
“Please let me finish first.” You, Reika and Kogasa sit around Alice, giving her a wide birth so that she doesn’t feel cornered. “I was going to finish the final tuning when I suddenly fell sick. I had to take a break from all the works, and I was getting ready to sleep when the three of you came in.”
“Did we interrupt your work? We’re sorry,” Kogasa apologizes and sulks afterward.
“Now, now, Kogasa.” Alice softly pats the umbrella girl’s head, making her giggle. “I was going to call it a day anyway. Good thing you came in, too, otherwise I’d have forgotten about the rest of the world.”
“Does that mean I can play with Shanghai and Hourai?” Before Alice can answer, Kogasa already leaps off the couch and ventures deep into the house; you can hear her singing Maria Mercedes, too.
“That girl, always coming here to play whenever she isn’t in her missions to surprise,” Alice muses. “Oh, I’m sorry! I forgot that I have guests! Oh, dear me, where have my manners gone to? Please, allow me to make you some tea.”
Reika quickly offers herself to prepare the meal. You look at her just as she’s standing up, and she winks at you before she heads to the kitchen. Now that you’re with Alice, you’re not sure of how to break the ice, and you wait for Alice to start the conversation instead.
…that’s when she hurls herself at you, without a warning. All words get stuck inside your throat as she hugs you very tightly, practically squeezing the air out of you. “You’ve come back! You have come back! My prayers have been answered, thank god!” she cries in delight.
“Uh, ma’am, you’re killing me.” Realizing she has erred, Alice releases you and apologizes furiously. “And I believe you’ve mistaken me for somebody else. The name is Alyssa. Transporter is what I do for a living.”
Instead of sulking, Alice’s face brightens. “Alyssa? Yes, of course! Now I remember! You’re Alyssa, her precious child! Oh, I’m terribly sorry for being forgetful. I…” She falls silent afterwards, and taking it as a cue you place your hands on her shoulders. She stiffens, and then slumps onto you, her head resting on your chest.
“…thank you for coming back.”
“Glad to hear that.” Seriously, you’re not, but to hell with that.
After a couple of minutes of cuddling, Alice pulls herself from you and sighs in relief, her fingers wiping tears off her eyes. “I was told by Yukari that you’d be coming home, and I have eagerly waited for the day to come.” You stay silent, letting her to continue with her story. “I can’t remember how many years had passed since you left to the outside world. Five? Ten? And to think that she wouldn’t let me look after you on her behalf, too…”
You feel a lump in your throat. You feel like you want to question Alice about your biological mother, but seeing her muttering Marisa’s name under her breath almost spitefully forces you to reconsider.
“Anyway! Good god, you’ve all grown up!” There’s that cheerful expression again. She must be really good in masking her misery. “The last time I saw you, you were a baby! Now look at you, you’ve even had some of her looks! Although…” Her eyes start wandering up and down your person, meticulously examining each inch of it.
“You should change your clothes. This doesn’t suit you.”
And she just has to criticize your fashion taste.
“For your information, ma’am, my outfit isn’t just for show,” you explain. “My profession as a transporter requires me to wear something that would allow easy manoeuvrability while crossing busy streets.”
“Yes, I transport things for a living. You name it: painting, takeaway meal, backpacks children accidentally left at school.” You take a look around the interior. Rows and rows of dolls are arranged neatly on shelves, all identical to each other, all looking at you. You don’t feel like being watched by lifeless objects….
“She’s also a free runner,” Reika fills in the answer as she returns from the kitchen. She sits down beside you and passes the teacup to you and Alice. “And free runners don’t wear skirt while climbing and jumping off buildings. Right, Alyssa?”
“Ah, that explains the attire- wait. What.” She does a double-take and stares at you. “You’re trying to tell me that your job includes jumping off buildings? That’s too dangerous!”
“All a part of my daily life,” you answer casually. “And yes, we’re discouraged from wearing skirt or fancy dresses. They tend to get into our way. Though that didn’t stop some from trying anyway.”
“But you could’ve killed yourself! Hadn’t you thought of finding a safer job?” She sounds concerned. Very concerned, like a mother would to her child. Heh, just like when Grandma objected your decision to become a traceuse.
“I had, and I tried, but they just didn’t click with me.” It’s your turn to do a double-take and pout. “I mean, look! Why are we suddenly discussing about my job? Aren’t we supposed to, you know, sit down and talk?”
“But that’s what we’re doing right now!” Alice complains cheerfully. She calms down afterwards, although her smile doesn’t wear down a bit. In fact, it doesn’t even falter at all.
This is getting a bit too uncomfortable.
“Oh, shouldn’t both of you introduce to each other?” Reika asks. Thank god your half-sister is with you.
“Of course.” Alice coughs a couple of time and begins her introduction. “My name is Alice Margatroid, the seven-coloured puppeteer. I’m Reimu’s close friend, and as you might have guessed, I’m also your mother’s close friend. In fact, the three of us have been close to each other for a very long time. Pleased to meet you, Alyssa.”
“Pleasure’s all mine, Miss Alice.”
“Oh, please. Drop the suffix. There’s no need to be formal with me,” Alice says dismissively.
“Well, excuse me. I’ve been here for less than a week. Can’t expect me to learn of everybody’s name in a day, can I?” you ask.
“Oh my, such a sharp tongue you possess. I wonder, from whom you have learned to sharpen your wit, hmm?” Alice smiles.
Your ears start burning red. “Stop that. You’re embarrassing me.” Even more so, considering that you and Alice greeted each other barely a minute ago.
“Ah, you’re similar to your mother. Very fun to tease, very easy to get embarrassed,” Alice sings. “Oh, I did remember telling Reika stories about how Marisa would act every time she and I were together. Maybe I should tell Alyssa everything about it today~”
A fish out of the water. That’s how you feel right now.
Change the channel Pick another topic!
[ ] Ask Alice about her occupation.
[ ] Ask Alice about the creepy dolls.
No, they’re not! It’s just you who are overly paranoid, Alyssa.
[ ] Ask Alice about your biological mother and their relationship.
[ ] Share stories about your Parkour shenanigans.
[ ] Share stories about your “quality” time with your
mute waifu family.
[ ] Stay quiet and let Alice finish her story. You’re a good child, right?
[ ] Stealthily walk away and wander around the house.
[ ] Find Kogasa and play with her.
[ ] Write-in options? Write-in options.
[ ] SATA is a useless writefag. He should stop moping around and update more often.
Well, then. Sorry for the delay as usual, again. Please bear with this writefag while he’s preparing.