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32416 No. 32416
[x] Enough time to go grab the prisoner, then.

“Right,” You say, “Let's go grab our invitation, then, and get on our way.”

Patchouli gives a nod. “Ah, yes. I imagine servants of that caliber are a rare find. Maybe we could use her for something.”

“A deal?” Marisa frowns, “Yeah, let's not do that.”

You shrug. “It might buy us a bit of surprise, at the very least. And hostages are excellent barriers against inaccurate attacks.”

“... that's true,” Marisa says, reluctantly. She stands up. “Well, I'll meet you guys near the front. I'll start clearing a path through the hoard so we can actually leave.”

“Alright,” You say, standing up as well. “Have fun.”

Marisa laughs. “Oh, definitely.”

The 'fetch the prisoner' group grows to include four koakuma by the time you reach the room with Patchouli. Opening the door, you find that, thankfully, Sakuya is still there. But... she seems to have gotten her ropes off, and is now sitting in a chair.

She gives you two quite the venomous smile when you enter, seemingly satisfied with her rope trick. “Good morning.”

It's enough to make you a bit paranoid, and you feel yourself already preparing a barrier in the back of your mind.

“I hope you do not mind,” She says, holding up the ropes, “They were rather uncomfortable, and made it difficult to get a good night's rest.”

The Koakuma look a little unnerved at this, as well, but Patchouli seems unphased. Still, though, it doesn't seem like she's going to attack. “We're heading off to see your master,” You say, “And you're coming with us. Stand up.”

She does so, although the way she hesitates before doing so – like she has a choice in the matter – also sets off some red flags. At this point you're pretty sure she's just trying to get under your skin, so you just ignore it.

You turn to Patchouli, and the cloud of koakuma. “You guys want to bind her hands for me? I'd ask for her feet, too, but I'd rather not carry her.”

Patchouli gives a nod to the koakuma. “R-right,” The say, jumping to work. Sakuya tries to hand them the rope, and they almost go for it, but you stop them. “Go find some more,” You say. They pause, nod, and go flying off in search of some different rope.

Sakuya nods, before pulling the rope in half. It's already been severely frayed. “Hmm. It's a shame you won't join us. Are you sure you won't reconsider? I'm sure we could negotiate for some less-fatal punishment.”

You honestly laugh. “How about you? Somehow, I don't think the Lady is going to be happy with you. You sure you don't want to join our side?”

“Absolutely,” She says, simply.

A sigh escapes your lips. “Well, whatever. Your funeral, I suppose.”

Not soon after, the koakuma show up with some fresh rope. Sakuya doesn't resist. In less than thirty seconds, they have her hands bound at least as tightly as they were yesterday. Although her escape still has you a little worried, you doubt she's going to be able to pull the same thing off without a night of work.

After getting that wrapped (and tied) up, you all head downstairs to the main entrance, perfectly on time. It's guarded and bolted as before, but there's definitely some noise going on outside.

“We're heading out,” You say to the guards.

“It'll be locked behind you,” They say, “Just so you know.”

“Yeah, that's fine. Hopefully you won't be needing that lock for much longer.”

With a bit of help from them, you slide the heavy wooden board blocking the entrance out of the way of one of the doors and slip outside. You go first, followed by Sakuya (and a cloud of koakuma – Patchouli thought having them watch the prisoner would be a good idea), with her followed by Patchouli.

Upon leaving, you find a veritable dust storm going on outside – a dust storm of dead vampires. You spot Marisa cruising around above the place on her broom, raining down luminous death on all the vampires scattered around. It seems to be quite windy today, and the building itself seems to do odd things to the air currents.

“Yo!” You hear her call out, before blasting another group. She flies down to join you. “You guys ready?”

“Yeah,” You say, “Want to keep flying air cover?”

“Cover? Just come up here,” Marisa motions. Patchouli goes to follow her, in her own lazy mode of flying, before you shake your head.

“Strong as a turtle,” You mutter, “And also agile as one. Come on, I can't fly.”

“Oh... right,” Marisa says, “I guess you could ride with me, but I don't have room for three.”

“I'll stay down here as well,” Patchouli says, “You can also act as our scout.”

“Got it,” Marisa says, “Let's do this.” She pauses for a moment. “You, uh... know where we're going, right?”

You nod. “It's pretty simple. East until we hit the river, then north.”

“Ok,” Marisa says, “Let's go!”

The trip up to the mansion itself is a... well, bloodbath would probably be correct if these things had blood. Marisa takes the lead, and any of the vampires that have enough sense to take cover end up obliterated by Patchouli. You don't have to do anything except walk – none of them even get close to touching your group.

Seems your estimate to get to the mansion was also pretty accurate. Thirteen minutes in, you come to the hill that you need to climb to reach the place. Fourteen minutes in, you reach the front door.

The mansion is just as you recall... from... the diviner's description. A giant, red-brick mansion with fake windows. You wouldn't be able to tell that from the road, but it's pretty obvious that they're just painted on when you're this close. It looks even more desolate with this scarlet mist swirling around.

“Damn,” Marisa remarks, “I didn't even realize that this thing was up here.”

“Of course,” Sakuya says, breaking her silence. “It has been here long enough that even the locals don't give it a second glance.”

[ ] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.
[ ] Start making for the back entrance, and towards the Lady. Walking through the front is stupid.
[ ] Option 1, but make for possible locations of the sister.
[ ] Option 2, but make for possible locations of the sister.
[ ] Other plans (write-in).

>> No. 32417
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.

We're not servants; thus, we should not use the servants' entrance.
>> No. 32418
[x] Option 1, but make for possible locations of the sister.
Sounds more wise.
>> No. 32419
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.
>> No. 32426
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.

A simple action is a good counterbalance to the insanely overcomplicated planning.
>> No. 32434
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.

No need for a complicated entrance plan. We are here to slaughter her and nothing more.

I was sorely tempted to make a silly write-in about busting in through the roof, though. At the very least, Lady Scarlet wouldn't expect it.
>> No. 32439
[x] Option 2, but make for possible locations of the sister.
>> No. 32443
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.
>> No. 32448
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.

Onwards, team!
>> No. 32467
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.

Hey, Klay?
Is this story going to only be about attacking the SDM and clearing out the mist, or are there other adventures/chapters/episodes planned with different plots?

The way it's being set up, it feels like you're intending to do the latter, but I don't think you ever said anything one way or the other.

>>32434
>I was sorely tempted to make a silly write-in about busting in through the roof, though. At the very least, Lady Scarlet wouldn't expect it.
I had the same thought. It's not that silly at all, honestly.
>> No. 32498
Called, update in a few hours or later tonight.

>>32467
I wonder, I wonder~
>> No. 32561
>>32467
Considering how many people can fly in this setting, the roof is probably guarded or at least strong enough to withstand a Master Spark or two.
>> No. 32683
[x] Break out the map, and head right in. Straight up to the Lady.

Almost by habit now, you reach into the correct pocket to produce the map. “Well, let's do this.”

The front door isn't locked. It probably doesn't need to be, you suppose, with the traps strewn about everywhere. You say the password that Sakuya gave to you, and walk past the indicated trap. There's a vague tingling sensation, but it does work.

“Just use them in order,” You say, turning around. Sakuya seems a little confused by your remark, until she glances at one of the augmented maps. There's a slight flicker in her smile as she's thwarted yet again.

The rest of the group also passes through safely, with Sakuya reluctantly using up one of your prepared passwords. The swarm of Koakuma are forced to stay outside for a moment, although Patchouli quickly does some summoning trickery to get them back.

“Sorry,” You say to the maid, “That one's not going to work either.”

That diviner... his description was remarkably accurate, you note, as your group moves inside. Everything is the right shade of red, and the various pieces of art scattered around are just as gaudy as he said.

“... we're truly going to walk right in,” Patchouli muses, “This should be interesting.”

Marisa laughs. “Damn right. Lead on,” She adds, giving you a pat on your back. Huh. You hadn't even noticed that you had stopped.

“... yeah,” You say, shaking off that sense of familiarity with this place. Don't worry about it. “Everyone, be on your guard.”

“We are not late, and the servants will not attack a guess unless otherwise ordered,” Sakuya says, “That is not currently necessary.”

You, at the very least, ignore her suggestion. “Servants?” You ask, preoccupying yourself with conversation. This most definitely isn't a stealth mission, so you suppose that's fine. “Do they jump out of the walls, or what? I don't see any.”

“... muldochs,” Patchouli quietly states, after looking around, “Small, ethereal fey. So yes, they could.”

“You have a fine eye,” the maid says, “The Lady is very fond of them. They do their jobs without being seen, like good servants should.”

The walk up to the second floor is long, but uneventful. You pass two traps along the way, and get to see more dimly lit halls decked out in scarlet tapestries and the like, but that's about all. The muldochs (or whatever, you can't see them) must be the only things roaming these halls, because this place almost feels abandon.

Eventually, you come to a set of impressive double doors. It's pretty obvious that this is where you were heading. All of the halls and carpets seem to lead here, merging before these two huge, solid pieces of wood. It's enough to give you pause.

“... you will have to let yourself in,” Sakuya says calmly. “The Lady is waiting.”

Both Marisa and Patchouli look to you, as you're in the lead.

“Alright, I'll get it,” You say, reaching out for the door. Vaguely, you consider having Marisa simply blow it open, but a bit of talk will at least get you inside the room.

The doors are... really heavy, and swing outward – odd for an interior room, but you guess it's fitting. You have to put your back into it, but you do manage to swing them open enough that you could walk through them.

Beyond the door, you find a throne room befitting of a lord. The stonework is dark, very dark, while the scarlet theme also persists. There's a chandelier, as one would expect, only not quite – it's actually a large crystal (or group of crystals, you aren't sure) suspended from the ceiling. It serves the same purpose, though, as it's giving off a peculiar red light. There's more standard lighting around the edges, though.

In the middle of the room is a large table, largely empty at the moment although it's easy to imagine a huge feast spread out on it.

And, of course, no throne room would be complete without someone seated upon the throne. You almost laugh when you see exactly WHO is seated upon the throne. The diviner told you she looked like a child, but...

“Enter.”

… and a childlike voice, to boot. Still, there's a sense of royalty to it. Her word has the feel of a command, and one you should follow. Well, you had intended to do that anyway. You step inside, with the others just slightly behind.

Huh. She seems to be eying Sakuya quite curiously. You wonde---

“Sakuya, close the door.”

“I cannot, m'lady.”

“Why not?”

“I am currently a prisoner, and as such my hands are bound.”

A flicker of anger crosses the Lady's face, but it gets suppressed fairly quickly. She turns to face you this time, instead. “Taking my servants prisoner? I thought you were members of the Guild, not barbarians.”

She pauses for a moment. “Although, I must say, that's quite the feat. It speaks towards your combat skills.”

“They are not interested in the deal, m'lady,” Sakuya says from the back. “They have come to kill you.”

“Barbarians,” Remilia scoffs, shifting a little in her chair. “I had some light snacks prepared, but I suppose barbarians would rather fight than talk. Shall we begin, then?”

She seems to be waiting for your response this time. This hardly seems like someone who calls up demons just to punch them in the face, but what do you know?

[ ] “You're right. Let's begin.”
[ ] A bit of pre-fight banter (or finger sandwiches) never hurt.
[ ] Whoa, whoa, wait a second. There's a deal to be had here... (write-in).
[ ] Something else (write-in).
================================================
... yeah, sorry about that "today" taking way too long. I have no excuse, and will try to keep my estimates more accurate from now on.
>> No. 32685
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”

Somethings a little off here, but I'm just too stupid to see it. Well, whatever. It wouldn't change the facts. Remilia has massacred, and sold these villagers souls for her own nefarious gains. She has quite some gall to call us barbarians. For these transgressions against humanity, she dies.
>> No. 32686
[x] A bit of pre-fight banter (or finger sandwiches) never hurt.
- [x] "Even barbarians enjoy cucumber & watercress sandwiches."
- [x] "Rather than 'barbarian' wouldn't 'assassin' have an air more befitting a target of your... stature?"
- [x] Introduce yourself & Patchouli by your guild names as Protectors. Introduce Marisa as a local liaison.
- [x] "Your note introduced you as the 'Lady of Skrad', but would you prefer 'Lady Scarlett' or maybe just 'Remilia'?"
- [x] Ask if her sister will be joining.
- [x] Inform the lady that the Guild will not make any deals with her because it does not acknowledge the legitimacy of her rule. Her presence has disrupted the local mining operations, so you are obligated to remove her.

Remember that you're not just on a personal vengeance mission, you're conducting official Guild business too, so at least pay it some lip service.

The name thing to maybe freak her or Sakuya a little, since not even the twins told us what it was.
>> No. 32690
x] A bit of pre-fight banter (or finger sandwiches) never hurt.
- [x] "Even barbarians enjoy cucumber & watercress sandwiches."
- [x] "Rather than 'barbarian' wouldn't 'assassin' have an air more befitting a target of your... stature?"
- [x] Introduce yourself & Patchouli by your guild names as Protectors. Introduce Marisa as a local liaison.
- [x] "Your note introduced you as the 'Lady of Skrad', but would you prefer 'Lady Scarlett' or maybe just 'Remilia'?"
- [x] Ask if her sister will be joining.
- [x] Inform the lady that the Guild will not make any deals with her because it does not acknowledge the legitimacy of her rule. Her presence has disrupted the local mining operations, so you are obligated to remove her.
>> No. 32693
>>32690
>>32686
Oh my god, please no
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
>> No. 32694
[x]>>32690
>> No. 32695
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
>> No. 32697
[x] A bit of pre-fight banter (or finger sandwiches) never hurt.

That write-in sucks, but I wanna talk with Remilia...
>> No. 32699
Trying SO HARD to be cool.
This write in made me cringe so hard I jerked my head, hit a wall and got a concussion and brain damage. I hope you're ready to take responsibility for this.
>> No. 32708
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
-[x] Keep an eye on Sakuya. Or a barrier.
>> No. 32715
[x] A bit of pre-fight banter (or finger sandwiches) never hurt.
>> No. 32718
>>32498
...Hey, don't dodge the question. I think it's a pretty reasonable request. If you don't know, and can't guarantee that what happened in the others won't happen here, then just say that. I'm not going to drop the story for something so minor as that.

After all, you're still writing now, and that makes me happy.
>> No. 32719
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
[x] Knock Sakuya out, ASAP. If she joins the fight, then you'll really be screwed.
-[x] Maybe get the flock of Koakuma to do it?
>> No. 32720
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
[x] Knock Sakuya out, ASAP. If she joins the fight, then you'll really be screwed.
-[x] Maybe get the flock of Koakuma to do it?
>> No. 32721
>>32719
Ugh. You really are barbarians.
>> No. 32726
[x] A bit of pre-fight banter (or finger sandwiches) never hurt.
- [x] "Even barbarians enjoy cucumber & watercress sandwiches."
- [x] "Rather than 'barbarian' wouldn't 'assassin' have an air more befitting a target of your... stature?"
- [x] Introduce yourself & Patchouli by your guild names as Protectors. Introduce Marisa as a local liaison.
- [x] "Your note introduced you as the 'Lady of Skrad', but would you prefer 'Lady Scarlett' or maybe just 'Remilia'?"
- [x] Ask if her sister will be joining.
- [x] Inform the lady that the Guild will not make any deals with her because it does not acknowledge the legitimacy of her rule. Her presence has disrupted the local mining operations, so you are obligated to remove her.
>> No. 32730
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
[x] Knock Sakuya out, ASAP. If she joins the fight, then you'll really be screwed.
-[x] Maybe get the flock of Koakuma to do it?
>> No. 32745
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”

Please for the love of GOD don't let that write-in pass. It's TERRIBLE.
>> No. 32763
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
[x] Knock Sakuya out, ASAP. If she joins the fight, then you'll really be screwed.
-[x] Maybe get the flock of Koakuma to do it?
>> No. 32768
How can Sakuya be a threat with her arms tied up?
>> No. 32769
>>32768
The most perfect and elegant maid will find a way!
>> No. 32784
>>32769
if she was perfect and elegent, she'd have beaten us as opposed to losing and being... interrogated by a bunch of koas.
>> No. 32787
>>32784
It was 2 on 1 and Jack somehow managed to slice time better than a pure chronomage. Calling shenanigans.
>> No. 32788
>>32787
Did you miss the repeated mentions of how terrible Jack was at actually entering those time streams, and how it was terribly taxing on him? Even two on one, it was a small miracle they managed to apprehend her.

It's a moot point, anyways, as it doesn't change our course of action at this point in time. It's going to take everything we have to take down Remilia alone, let alone a Remilia who is being aided by Sakuya. She needs to be taken out of this fight from the get-go.
>> No. 32790
>>32788
I forgot. It's been months.

We need to keep Sakuya conscious so she can add her amusing comments to the story. I really don't care whether we win the fight or not.
>> No. 32796
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”
[x] Knock Sakuya out, ASAP. If she joins the fight, then you'll really be screwed.
-[x] Maybe get the flock of Koakuma to do it?
>> No. 32800
>>32788
I doubt she'd get out of those bonds as if she was going to do so, she would have sooner.
>> No. 32802
>>32800
Has no one considered the entirely real possibility that Remilia will remove her bindings? We won't have time to spare securing the hostage while fighting her. A freed Sakuya would easily turn the tables provided she starts to lose.
>> No. 32803
>>32802
Even untied, she doesn't have her focus. She can't do shit to meaningfully affect the battle.
>> No. 32807
>>32803
You're right. I had forgotten that this story upheld that dumb focus shit. I wouldn't be so quick to count her out though. Even without timestops, she can still throw some knives and make herself a nuisance.
>> No. 32808
>>32807
... You think they took away her focus and let her keep knives?

And the focus shit is partially justified: Jack needs focuses for all sorts of things. Just part of the setting.
>> No. 32811
>>32808
Of course not. I'm fairly convinced Sakuya is properly unarmed right now. The problem comes from the fact that we are in her home territory. It's not too much of a stretch of imagination to believe she can easily acquire some knives around the place she lives in. Didn't Remilia even say she set up some light snacks right at the table?

This is all discounting any other possible skills Sakuya has. In this setting, I fear she is more than a one trick pony.
>> No. 32812
>>32811
Good. Surprises are interesting.

Time to tide-piss a bit.

[x] Whoa, whoa, wait a second. There's a deal to be had here... surrender or Sakuya dies.

You want her out of the picture so much? Let's at least get some use out of her.
>> No. 32815
>>32802
Doing so would distract her from us, which I doubt she'd be able to do easily, and those Koa tied her up GOOD.
>> No. 32895
I am covered in shit, and really can't see any time to work on this in the near future. I will be slowly scraping of the feces bit by bit, but it will take three or four weeks for me to be completely clean. There might be one or two updates in that time, but things are looking pretty bad. I'll let you know if that changes. Don't hold your breath, though. Sorry. I do promise that I'll come back to it once I am clean, for whatever my word is worth now.
>> No. 32899
>>32895
Waiting warmly~
>> No. 33500
Well, if anyone checks back this far, let me just say that I'll be free in about a week.
>> No. 33501
>>33500
But of course. Waiting warmly.
>> No. 33661
Called, update once I manage to piece together what I was doing from my notes (read: in a few days)
>> No. 33677
File 130378313167.jpg - (644.50KB , 578x1000 , 11804092.jpg ) [iqdb]
33677
Maybe if I post about waiting for the update, you'll feel motivated and write it faster.
>> No. 33695
>>33677
I had a final exam I forgot about early in the week. I-it's not like you had anything to do with this!
================================================
[x] “You're right. Let's begin.”

Might as well get this over with. “Yeah. Let's begin.”

Although you expect a dramatic opening attack at those words, nothing happens. No one moves, and a dead silence settles over the place. Then, Remilia speaks.

“Really?” She asks, sounding almost angry at your refusal. “This is your last chance. You can't beat me, stop being stupid.”

So much for being regal, you guess. Is she going to call you a poo-poo face next? Well, you guess it doesn't matter. Someone needs to attack first, and if she's just going to pout...

With a swift blow to the head, you knock the maid clean out. Hopefully. You don't exactly have time to check. She drops to the floor, for what you hope is the remainder of this fight. Then, with a discrete hand motion, you give the “begin” signal, throwing up your shield in the process.

Not a second later, with the Lady still trying to process what just happened, two huge waves of energy blow over the top of your head and towards the throne. There isn't even time for you to duck, but thankfully both mages have pretty good aim.

An explosion rocks the room, but an instant after those beams impact, your shield comes under attack from behind with tremendous force. Really, it's almost enough to knock you over. It's clear to you that this battle needs to end as quickly as possible.

Another blow, this time from the side. You give the motion to spread fire, but, looking back, both of them can't seem to track the Lady.

Thankfully, there's also a sign for this. Quickly, you give the “just shoot goddamnit” sign.

The room lights up again with indiscriminate fire, quite literally in Patchouli's case. You can't see what's going on at all, but your bubble is still under a fierce attack. The Lady is just way too goddamn fast.

Patchouli stops her fire for a moment. When you look back to see what's going on, you instead see a... well, 'cloud' would probably be a good term. A whole cloud of koakuma. Fodder? Moving the barrier at this point would just weaken it, so you just watch as said cloud spreads out.

The cloud manages to catch the Lady through some miracle – or whatever the demonic version of a miracle is. Patchouli fires first, and Marisa follows after deciding it's OK to simply blast all those familiars.

As the beams impact, there's a huge explosion... although, it's not from the beams. It seems to be from Remilia itself. A huge bubble of demonic energy blows everything – the koakuma, all three of you, even the shield – back against the far wall. The shock is enough to make you drop the shield.

The Lady lunges at you, but somehow, you manage to throw up another barrier – a much smaller, personal one – which causes her to rebound. She lunges again, this time at Patchouli. You manage to move it over to her in-time, but instead of impacting... she lands in front, and heads straight for Marisa.

At least, she tries. You blink, but what you're seeing isn't an illusion. Remilia seems to have stopped in mid-air, claws extended and aimed straight for Marisa's chest. All of the dust in the room, the small stones Remilia managed to kick up from her latest launch, the billowing clouds of dust... everything. It's all simply... stopped.

“What?” You ask no one in particular. It's all you can think to do.

“I don't know,” Patchouli answers, her voice definitely a bit shaken. “Time magic?”

The second thing you can think to do is move Marisa. Maybe this is some kind of miracle. You're not exactly into the divine, but maybe the Gods decided that Remilia needs to die. It's not unheard of. And, to do that, you'll need Marisa...

… but, she doesn't budge at all when you try. She's quite frozen in place, like everything else in this room. You can't move around Remilia, either.

“Seriously, what?” You ask, frustrated.

“If it is time magic,” Patchouli answers, “It's not the maid's doing.”

You look. No, it's not. It's hard to see, but she's definitely still lying on the floor in the middle of the room.

“It's not exactly time magic. We're simply in the gap between units of time.”

A third voice, one you've never heard before, answers from somewhere near the top of the room. You look up. A blond haired... what the hell? She looks human, like some noble dressed up for a play. Or maybe a walk in the park.

What she's sitting on, however, your mind can't even begin to understand. It's definitely not a bench. More like the absence of reality. If you try to look directly at it, your eyes immediately slink away. She most certainly isn't a human. You've never encountered anything like this, ever.

“Hello,” She says, waving, “How goes the battle?”

[ ] “Who the hell are you?”
[ ] “What the hell is going on?”
[ ] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”
[ ] “The last thing we need is another demon. Go away.”
[ ] Something else (write-in).
>> No. 33696
[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”

That was completely unexpected.
>> No. 33698
[x] “What the hell is going on?”

Shit was going just as planned before Yukari showed up. She better have a damn good explanation for this shit, or she's next on the list.
>> No. 33699
>>33698
Did we read the same fight? We were getting our asses kicked and Marisa was about to die.
>> No. 33700
[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”

We might as well be nice and honest as we do not to piss off Yukari.
>> No. 33702
[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”
>> No. 33703
[x] “Terrible, but thanks for asking”
>> No. 33712
[+] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”
>> No. 33713
[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”

At least we made Remi bomb.
>> No. 33715
[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?"
>> No. 33717
Oh man. Beamspam-beamspam-beamspam and then--

>“Hello,” She says, waving, “How goes the battle?”

They see me trollin'.

They hatin'.

[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”

She going to give us a choice between doing what she wants or letting Marisa get eviscerated.
>> No. 33718
Called, update tomorrow because I'm going to be without internet until then.
>> No. 33720
>>33718

Hooray!
>> No. 33744
[x] “Terrible. Why do you ask?”

“Terrible,” You answer, opting not to question her existence much “Why do you ask?”

She smiles. A normal looking smile, but somehow it makes your hair stand on end. “It would be better for me if you were to win. Would you like to make a deal?”

You shiver. It's one thing to make a decision with a pair of demons, but this woman... a huge unknown. You turn towards Patchouli.

Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have anything to offer.

“Maybe I should introduce myself first,” The woman says, lazily floating down towards your group from her current position. “I am Yukari Yakumo. Have you heard of me? I wish I didn't need to ask, but it seems like Gensokyo has all but forgotten me by now.”

You can't manage much more than a bewildered look. No, you've never heard of anyone like that. Patchouli, however... well, she seems almost frightened now.

“We may have been better off dying,” She says, with a quick glance to this Yukari woman, “This is... not good.”

“Oh,” Yukari laughs, now just a few yards away, “I see you have, my dear. Perhaps you could enlighten Jack for me?”

“... she was one of the founders of Aegis, and by proxy the Gensokyian empire,” Patchouli murmurs, “She was a youkai, the first said to have ever worked with a human. The Great Barrier was her doing. Although she has not been seen directly since them, there are always a few rumors about her appearing every time some major event happens in Gensokyo.”

Patchouli pauses for a moment. “She is said to be an expert of manipulating boundaries, but has taken it to such a level that it hardly matters. Anything that can be defined in terms of boundaries can be manipulated by her.”

“Very good,” Yukari says, “Very objective, as well. It's refreshing not to hear something like 'She uses Gensokyo as her own personal play-thing', or 'She takes pleasure in toying with mortals' lives'.”

“I feel as if that part will become self-evident,” Patchouli states, “You are never a good omen.”

The woman laughs. “That's better. It's just not the same otherwise. Oh, and I am not as powerful as you say. You make me out to be some sort of God.”

“To us,” Patchouli states, “You are close enough to one that we do not need to make the distinction.”

Yukari laughs again, but doesn't bother denying that one. That feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach just keeps growing. No, this is definitely not a good omen.

“I suppose you want to use Marisa as a bargaining chip,” You say, “That, or you've just got really good timing.”

“Ah yes, the deal,” Yukari says, sounding the tiniest bit bored. “You younger ones are always straight to business, aren't you? As for your friend, that's up to you. I find that it's more fair if I let the other party decide what they want, after I present what I want.”

“What do you want?” You ask.

“I don't want those souls going to the two demons you made a deal with,” She says, motioning to the red crystalline mass hanging from the ceiling of the room. “For that to happen, you need to both win this fight and break your contract with those two.”

“Why?” You blurt out. “What could you possibly gain from that?”

She shakes her head. “You don't need to know that, dear. We could make that part of the deal, though, if you'd like.”

… you hate operating like this. Adapting to bad situations is fine, but it's difficult to adapt when so much is unknown. “You realize that that would kill me, right? Those two will rip me apart when they find out.”

“I do.” She nods, “That's probably a good thing for you to ask for as part of your reward.”

A God... right, she could probably do something like that without too much trouble. “How?”

A cruel laugh. “Don't get any funny ideas. I'll just buy them off with even more souls at a later date, like anyone else would.”

“What's special about these ones?”

“The timing,” She says, “If this was happening a week later, I wouldn't care. However, it can't happen right now. You can do whatever else you want with them.”

You turn to Patchouli. “Are contracts really worth so little?”

“Your punishment will still be fairly sever.” Patchouli answers. “However, unless you plan on trying to make another contract, you won't see most of the effects.”

“... I see. That's all, then?”

“That's all,” Yukari confirms. “What are your terms?”

“Hold it. What if we refuse?”

“... well, I suppose you'll probably just die,” Yukari says, motioning towards Remilia. “That vampire is quite out of your league.”

“You'll kill her for us?”

“No, no... you three need to win,” Yukari says, “I'd be breaking the rules if I just stepped in like that.”

It sure seems like she's stepping in, but maybe this... no, it won't help to think about it. This is all kinds of messed up.

[ ] Go with the devil you know. Refuse this nonsense.
[ ] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.
[ ] … you'll accept. This doesn't seem like a bad deal.
- [ ] Even if Yukari can't directly act, you'll need some kind of help with this fight.
- [ ] You need to know why. If something terrible is going on, you need to get that information back to The Guild.
- [ ] Marisa needs to live.
- [ ] Something else (write-in, may require more negotiation).
================================================
Just a reminder; I won't give you an option that leads to a bad end. Vote for what you would like.
>> No. 33745
[x] Go with the devil you know. Refuse this nonsense.

I refuse. We can't just let all of our planning and preparation go to waste like that! Things might not be going absolutely stellar at this point, but I have the utmost confidence that we can safely exterminate Remilia.

Instead of considering this shitty bargain, we should instead use this brief respite to enact a shield over Marisa, and let Patchy prepare whatever she's about to do. We can do this, we just need to keep faith.
>> No. 33746
[x] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.

If we're about to kill off Marisa, I'd like to see her talk one last time...
>> No. 33747
[YES] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.
>> No. 33748
[+] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.
This really shouldn't surprise her at all.
>> No. 33760
[x] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.

It's a good idea to include her.

And having pride does you no good if you're dead.
>> No. 33773
[x] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.

We could always betray her later. Unlike with the demons, there doesn't seem to be a formalized contract.

Or we could use her name to leverage a new contract out of the demons. As long as we're acting as intermediary for those souls Yukari still intends on paying, this really wouldn't be any different than a payment plan. A week isn't much of a wait.

It's not like we particularly want to give them the souls in the first place. Marisa certainly had issues, even though purportedly the souls would still be lost regardless.
>> No. 33775
[x] … you'll accept. This doesn't seem like a bad deal.
- [x] You need to know why. If something terrible is going on, you need to get that information back to The Guild.
>> No. 33781
[x] … you'll accept. This doesn't seem like a bad deal.
- [x] Even if Yukari can't directly act, you'll need some kind of help with this fight.
- [x] Marisa needs to live.

>>33773
Betraying Yukari? What could possibly go wrong.
>> No. 33782
Called, update later today
>> No. 33786
[x] You'll need to discuss this with everyone before deciding. Marisa included.

“Look,” You say, “I can't just decide for everyone. We'll need time to discuss this.”

“Certainly,” Yukari says, “Although I'd like it if you didn't take very long.”

“Marisa, too,” You add, looking towards your frozen friend. “She's part of this group too, you know.”

Yukari pauses for a moment. “I didn't think she would bring much but resistance to the deal. But, if you insist...”

Something, somewhere, shifts. You don't know what or where, but there's definitely the feeling of some kind of jolt. And, after it, you find a new sound added to the silence that has become your world – Marisa, breathing heavily. She's still got her eyes closed from the impending impact.

After a moment, she opens them uncertainly... taking a look around with a confused look on her face.

“Welcome to the gap between seconds,” You say, “or whatever.”

“What the hell?” Marisa manages to ask, “What's going on? Who's... whoa, what's up with her?”

Yukari laughs. “Well, I'd rather not go through all this again. Call me when you've decided.”

After saying that, she leans back into that... thing... that she's been sitting on, vanishing into it quite cleanly. Then, a half-second later, the thing consumes itself, and it's just you three left in the room.

“Looks like you're not the only one who doesn't want those demons to have the souls we contracted to them,” You say, shrugging. “We need to decide if---”

“Wait, start from the beginning,” Marisa says, cutting you off, “One second I've got a claw aimed at my throat, and the next I'm standing in some bizarro world where everything is frozen and freaky women are getting swallowed by... well, whatever the hell that was. I'm so confused right now.”

“Right, sorry,” You say, “From the beginning.”

You oblige, running through everything that's happened so far. It doesn't take too long to fill her in, and you can tell by the end of it that she's more bothered than you are by the whole thing.

“That's it?” She asks, after you get to the part where you said that you wanted Marisa inside this space.

“Yeah, that's it.”

“Thanks,” She says, “But this whole thing smells like shit. I say we tell her to get lost.”

“Huh?” You ask, a little stunned by the answer. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Marisa says, “If a youkai like that can't take care of something like this herself, there has to be something really fishy about the whole thing. I don't want to be a pawn in it.”

“Personally, I would rather not die just to spite a demigod,” Patchouli speaks up, “That seems foolish.”

“Who says we're going to die?” Marisa asks, “Even if we go back to where we were when this ends, that's a good thing. I've finally got a clear shot.”

“And no time to make it,” You say, letting out a grim laugh. “You're serious. You'd actually rather die than give this Yukari woman what she wants.”

Marisa sighs. “Look,” She explains, “She wouldn't even bother if this wasn't urgent. Apparently, those souls are worth a lot to someone.

“What if she is working towards a good goal?” Patchouli offers, “We can't know her motives, but that many souls being moved to Makai at once can only have bad or neutral effects. It's difficult to imagine what preventing it could cause.”

“You said that she's a bad omen,” Marisa counters, “I believe you. I mean, she's going to get even more souls from somewhere else to feed to these two. That means there's at least going to be one more disaster somewhere if we accept.”

“Perhaps those souls are already bound to such a fate. In her case, it's difficult to separate the cause from the effect,” Patchouli states, “Perhaps trouble appears whenever she does, or maybe she only appears when there is trouble.”

Marisa shrugs. “You guys wanted my opinion, so I'm giving it. None of the options are good here. What's she going to do to help us win this fight, anyway?”

“I, uh... never asked,” You admit. “Something indirect, though.”

“So, we'll be in the same situation.” Marisa points out. “Only we'll be working for this Yukari.”

“Well, part of the deal was that we'd get something we want in return.” You explain, “What would it take to make it worth it?”

“She needs to offer her story beforehand, and, if she still has a good reason, we need to make sure it's true. Never trust a strange youka--- sorry.”

She says that last bit with a glance towards Patchouli. “I understand,” Patchouli nods, “I do not trust her words either. However, I think her actions are just. I just cannot see any negative consequences from this, aside from Jack's standing in Makai.”

“Then why doesn't she just give us her story?” Marisa asks, “If it was a just reason, you'd think she'd just come out and say why, right?”

“When a creature becomes that old,” Patchouli states, “It becomes difficult to predict their motives or actions. She may not be giving it to us because she doesn't feel like it, or because she enjoys watching us argue. Or, maybe it's not something she can give freely.”

Marisa sighs, turning to you. “I guess. Look, do whatever you like. I'm not going to blame you if you take this.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” She nods, slowly. “If it was me, though, I wouldn't. She showed up now because we're more likely to accept, but we aren't dead yet. If that youkai comes back to bargain after the fight, she'll have less leverage. If not, good. I'd rather never see her again.”

[ ] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.
[ ] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.
>> No. 33787
[x] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.
>> No. 33788
[x] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.

I'm with Marisa on this. We have nothing to gain by accepting Yukari's help. I remain convinced we can take out Remilia through our own methods.
>> No. 33790
[X] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.
>> No. 33792
[ ] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.
>> No. 33795
[x] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.

Yukari likes Gensokyo, so whatever she is planning is surely for the greater good.
>> No. 33797
>>33795
What makes you think you're included in the greater good?
>> No. 33798
>>33797
We're part of the cost incurred to bring about the greater good. Close enough.
>> No. 33799
[x] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.

I do want to see how we'd manage this fight on our own, and this bargain is as shady as all get out--the potential benefits, the terms, the cost, her motives, everything. We resolved to not negotiate with Remilia, so I don't see this as being inconsistent. We justified dealing with the demon sisters in that the souls were already lost and totaled the same as she would feed them. There can be no rationalization for now getting them more.
>> No. 33802
[x] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.

It was along Marisa's plans to loop hole it anyways. And There's a big difference between teh vampire currently attacking us and the godlike being offering some help. If Yukari wanted to do us in or such, she wouldn't have stepped in at all.

But I'm sure Anon's classic hatred of Yukari would override the big picture. They would rather 'die just to spite a god like being' as Patchouli basically put it.
>> No. 33805
[ ] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.
>> No. 33807
[x] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.
>> No. 33808
[ ] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.
>> No. 33809
[+] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.
>> No. 33811
[x] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.
>> No. 33823
[x] Never trust.
>> No. 33858
[ ] Patchouli is right. Take the deal – assistance and information for breaking the demonic contract.

We are going to get reamed otherwise.
>> No. 33859
Sorry, I've been without internet for a few days.

Called, update later tonight.
>> No. 33869
[x] Never trust strange youkai, but if you have to do it on even footing. Marisa makes good points.

“... you know, there's something to that.”

“Hmph. We may not be dead yet,” Patchouli says, “But if you choose that option, I feel it won't be long until we are.”

“Better dead than a unwitting cog in some crazy scheme,” You shrug. “Right, Marisa?”

She seems honestly surprised, and laughs a bit. “What? I thought you were all about the best overall option, not the crazy ones.”

“I am. You made better points.”

Patchouli frowns slightly, “You would really risk all our lives on a hunch?”

“We already risked our lives,” You counter, “I'm just sticking with the risk we have, instead of throwing a bunch of unknown risk into the mix. Yukari's deal might be better in the short term, but the long term is too foggy to bank on.”

“... I see,” Patchouli responds. She seems uneasy, but doesn't push the issue further.

“So, you've decided?”

Once more, the woman in white appears above your group, riding that terrible whatever that she seems to be so fond of. You nod. “I'm afraid we're going to have to reject your deal,” You say, firmly. “At least, for now.”

“Ah... interesting,” She says. Then, with a straight face, she adds, “Perhaps I could make an offer to one of you two to kill him after the battle, to nullify the contract?”

Is... she serious? The still room somehow becomes even more still, with only the sound of breathing being heard now. You aren't really sure what to do. Marisa seems to be in a similar boat, while you can't read a thing off of that face of Patchouli's.

In a matter of moments, though, Yukari breaks the silence with a soft laugh. “You didn't think I was being serious, did you? I'm just having a bit of fun.” She pauses. “Well, if you want to make a deal before you release those souls, just ask. Now, get ready! This should be fun to watch.”

Something... changes. You blink, and find yourself once more placed in an awkward position on the floor. Back where you were, before that whole conversation occurred. Or didn't. You aren't really sure how working in the gaps between time works.

Before you can even worry about a barrier, A brilliant light flashes from off to your side. Marisa! She managed to get off one of her beams, and, judging by the scream, nail the Lady dead on. A satisfying sound.

Quickly, you all get back on your feet – fighting from the ground isn't a good way to do things. Thankfully, you've discussed this, too. Sort of. Everyone pushes the advantage – again, the entire room erupts in blasts of light. This time, though, you don't feel any blows against your shield. Not a thing. You give the order to stop firing.

“...hold it.”

There's enough dust and whatever flying around right now that you can't even see the maid anymore, much less the vampire. The initial blow probably knocked her clean across the room. Damn. Where is she? Is she down? Did that do i---

Suddenly, multiple red flashes split the air above you, and the four nearby pillars explode. A few very large pieces of stone bounce harmlessly off your shield, but it's not enough to bring it down.

The next blow, however, is. A bright red stream lances from the dust cloud, like some kind of gigantic spear, and crashes through your shield. It simply pops, like a finger poking a soap bubble. The change in pressure from the impact is actually enough to disorient you for a bit.

Everyone else, too, you guess, because shortly after the Lady simply crashes into Patchouli. That blow sends the poor mage flying backwards, unconscious or worse judging by her non-movements, into a nearby wall.

You do manage to get another barrier up, but those terrible red beams slice through it. One of them, this time, strikes Marisa head on. She drops as well. You, too, apperently – because the next thing you see is the Lady's face standing above yours, with a foot in your chest.

“I'm sick of you,” She says, tightening the pressure on your chest. “Die.”

Instead of feeling a foot through your chest, though, you just feel blind. Another surprise beam from Marisa, thank the gods. At least she's still in this, somehow. There's some pretty serious blood – it looks like the blow messed up her right arm pretty badly, but somehow she's still going. One more good blow. Just one more, you think. That's all you need.

… no, it's finished. You can hardly see, but the lady is definitely pinned on the stump of one of those pillars she destroyed earlier. Pinned, writhing, and slowly burning. Marisa doesn't seem keen to let up any time soon, either. You slide out from under the beam, careful not to touch it, and stand up.

Marisa keeps it going for a good thirty seconds, before giving you a signal that she's about to drop it. Right. The Lady is still making noise, so it's possible she can still move. You'll need to be quick about this. You pull out a fairly large piece of a... broken barrel, you think. Something you picked up a long time ago, for situations like this.

You edge closer to the pillar. The beam stops quite suddenly, and, before the Lady can even drop, you stab. That's all there is to it. A stake, right between the ribs.

“Me, too.”

The Lady, or what part of her wasn't burned away by the beam, doesn't have time to respond. You let her fall to the ground. That's definitely that. You watch as her still smokey body turns the color of smoke, and dissolves into a pile of ash.

“Take that, bitch!” Marisa calls out from her somewhat undignified position on the floor. “Ow. Goddamn, this hurts.”

Quickly, you make your way over to her side. “You ok?”

“Fine enough,” She says, wincing. Looks like the blow shaved off a somewhat deep chunk near the top of her arm. Serious, but nothing you can't bandage. “Is Patchouli alright?” She yells out the next bit. “Hey, Patchouli?”

“Alive,” you hear another call out, from where she fell. You rush over, but she doesn't seem all that damaged. “I prepared a personal shield.”

“You looked like a goddamn ragdoll,” You laugh, “what was that all about?”

“Ah...” She sighs, “I was playing dead. I thought I could perhaps surprise her, but Marisa beat me to it.”

“Here,” You say, stretching out a hand to her, “The Lady is no more.”

Patchouli seems rather confused by the hand, and gets back to her feet on her own. “I see. Ah,” she notes, as you get close to the wounded Marisa, “Would you like me to bandage that? I have a few herbs handy that may help clotting.”

“No healing magic?” Marisa sighs, “Well, I guess that'll do. It's only a scratch, really.”

“More like a good sized wound,” You say, “Seriously. If that had been a few inches higher and to the left, you'd be toast.”

“Hmm. Mayb-- ow!”

“Hold still,” Patchouli scolds.

You don't come out exactly unscathed, either. Looks like you'll have a nice new scar on the back of your head to show off to people, and maybe one on your left leg depending on how it heals. Nothing deathly serious, but nothing to laugh at either.

“You know,” Marisa says, laughing, “That wasn't so bad. Hell, give me another few hours and we can go take out her sister.”

You aren't sure if she's serious or not, so you decide not to comment on it. Then, out of nowhere, Patchouli says something that brings you back to the task at hand.

“You will need to decide what to do with them,” She says, motioning towards the glowing red crystals hanging from the ceiling. “Our contract with the two demons dictates that you must free them as soon as you safely can. I believe this qualifies.”

[ ] Keep with your demonic contract.
[ ] See if that Yukari woman is still around. If she's still serious, you'll take the deal.
>> No. 33871
[x] Keep with your demonic contract.

Be a nice change to see some pc98's as the big bads.
>> No. 33872
[x] See if that Yukari woman is still around. If she's still serious, you'll take the deal.

Hopefully Marisa's injury isn't permament.
>> No. 33873
[x] Keep with your demonic contract.
>> No. 33875
[x] Keep with your demonic contract.

Hell yeah, motherfuckers. Job well done. Now we just need to go find Sakuya before we get assassinated. Flandre will probably have to wait till tomorrow.
>> No. 33876
[x] Keep with your demonic contract.

Let's not make MORE enemies, please.
>> No. 33879
It just occurred to me. We hold all the cards here. We should use our advantage.

[x] Ask Yukari to explain why she doesn't want the deal going through. Or else the deal goes through.

It's a bit premature to decide before knowing the consequences, yeah?
>> No. 33881
[x] Keep with your demonic contract.

She hasn't contacted us again, so I doubt she has anything to offer us. I think it's more important that we find Sakuya. She probably can't time stop effectively without her watch, but she knows the layout of the mansion and the location of traps, so it's very possible she might unleash the little sister while we're bargaining with Yukari.

Hopefully the mist is tied to Remilia, or the souls, or some magic seal that Patchouli can dispel, which would prevent the other vampire from going outside during the day.

If the inability to communicate outside Rokford was tied to Remilia's fate manipulation, killing her allows us to call in reinforcements. Like an army. Our job was to investigate, not occupy a city filled with hundreds of demons.
>> No. 33891
>>33881
Or she could be waiting to see if we change our mind.
>> No. 33894
>>33891
Or kill him. I wonder what the afterlife is like in this story~
>> No. 33895
>>33894

Klay said there's no Bad Ends in this story, so we'll probably be seeing it eventually.
>> No. 33902
Called. Update in a few hours.
>> No. 33903
[x] Keep with your demonic contract.

“Yeah, I guess it does,” You sigh, casting a heavy glance at the glowing red mass near the ceiling. Only slightly sarcastically, you add, “Keep Marisa from killing me, alright?”

Marisa glares at you. Yes... she might actually do it, given different circumstances. Not today, though, you don't think. If it was just the two of you here, though, that might be a different story.

“Sorry.”

You turn, and make your way towards the center of the room. The maid's still there; she's a bit dustier than she was before the battle, and it looks like the Lady sliced through her ropes while she was flying around trying to kill you. Looks like she's still out cold, though.

“Her, too,” You call out to Patchouli, “What should I be looking for?”

“Some sort of control mechanism,” Patchouli answers, “Probably similar in material to the mass on the ceiling.”

Right. You give her a nod, and take a look around. Now, if you were the Lady, where would you... ah, the throne. Definitely. You make your way over, kicking bits of debris out of the way as you go. The place seems to shake a little bit as you do, but... no, that has to be your legs. That fight took a lot out of you – at least, as far as energy goes.

The throne is... well, it's certainly not as impressive as it looks from the center of the room. The stairs, and the wall behind it seem to be designed to make it seem a lot taller than it is. In reality, it's kind of short for a grand throne. Somewhere between a step stool and a normal dining chair, although the stone and the leatherwork are really high quality.

And sure enough, just like you suspected, there's a bit of red stone stuck in the arm of the throne. Typical. Your legs shake again. Ugh. You really need to sit down, but... no, you take a seat on the steps in front instead. Killing someone only to disrespect them a few minutes later is a low blow.

In either case, you turn around and reach out for the red stone. It's warm to the touch, and glows a bit brighter when you make contact with it. “Now what?” You call out.

“Command it with your thoughts,” Patchouli says, “Hmm. Well, probably.”

How... ambiguous. Although you haven't worked with a device like this before, you have worked with ones that take mental commands. So, this should be a piece of cake. Only, when you try, you definitely feel resistance. Any thoughts related to commanding the thing have a hard time forming, almost like the device itself is denying them.

“Tough guy, huh?” You mutter, “Well, we'll see who's tougher.”

A mental battle, then. You're pretty sure that you'll lose, but hell, it's not like trying will cost you much. However, before you can set to work, another shake almost makes you fall over backwards. What the hell? It's the mansion that's shaking, not you.

“Did you guys feel that?”

“Yeah,” Marisa answers back, “Was that you?”

“No.”

Then, as if on cue, the center of the room simply erupts, spewing stone and dust all over the place. You get blasted with some of the lighter debris. Sakuya, though, seems to have vanished. Down the hole, if you had to guess.

“Sis!” A girl's voice calls out from the floor below. Then, a pause. “Oh no, oh no... yes, yes, yes. I got it. I can do that.”

… well, shit. Sounds like the family lunatic is here. And she's either taking orders from a voice in her head, or maybe someone else. Probably the former.

[ ] Make a beeline for the exit. You want to be as far away from what she can do as you can.
[ ] Set up for an ambush. It'll take a lot of luck, but according to your sources even you should be able to take her in physical combat if you're fast.
[ ] Try communicating. If you run, you'll just die tired.
[ ] Something else (write-in)
================================================
Well, I should be updating faster from now on. You'll want to check daily if you want to stay current.
>> No. 33904
[x] Set up for an ambush. It'll take a lot of luck, but according to your sources even you should be able to take her in physical combat if you're fast.
We can't leave without the souls. And a hunch tells me that Flandre is taking orders from Remilia... to revive her.
>> No. 33906
[x] Try communicating. If you run, you'll just die tired.

I bet Yukari is behind this.
>> No. 33907
>We can't leave without the souls.
We don't have to give the souls right away. We're supposed to give the souls after we can do so safely. With Flandre around, it isn't safe.

I'd say we can just run away and never come back, but that'd probably count as a loophole in the contract.
>> No. 33908
>>33907
If I'm correct and the voice inside Flan isn't Yukari, but Remilia, then we'd have to do this whole thing again if she's revived!
>> No. 33911
>You'll want to check daily if you want to stay current.

Hooray!

[x] Try communicating. If you run, you'll just die tired.

I'd prefer engaging her in conversation astrally at a distance, but if she really wants to kill us at this point she probably can no matter what we do. Plus if we run now, we'll lose for certain a hostage who could become very dangerous, given her zeal for Remilia and proclivity to murder first and talk later.

Maybe Remilia will be more accommodating now that she's dead. More dead. Or now that it's actually Yukari sending Flandre telepathic messages while posing as Remilia. Or whoever.
>> No. 33916
[x] Set up for an ambush. It'll take a lot of luck, but according to your sources even you should be able to take her in physical combat if you're fast.

Attempt diplomacy with an insane being? After we just killed her beloved sister? You have got to be joking. It's fight or flight here, and I am willing to bet she can run us down easily. This abomination needs to die.
>> No. 33918
>>33908
Even so, running away is still an option. We could ask Yukari for help. She allegedly only cares about the timing, so doing it later would keep everybody happy. Except Marisa.
>> No. 33919
File 130500078419.jpg - (143.28KB , 400x357 , 331da5d3101d6d26950cf5a7836d195f.jpg ) [iqdb]
33919
[x] Set up for an ambush. It'll take a lot of luck, but according to your sources even you should be able to take her in physical combat if you're fast.

Die, mons... uuh.
>> No. 33930
>>33907
Yeah, you need to make an effort towards making it safe to do so. Booking it and not coming back would be a breech of the contract. I mean, you could write it in if you really wanted to, but the results wouldn't be pretty.

Anyway, called, etc.
>> No. 33933
[x] Set up for an ambush. It'll take a lot of luck, but according to your sources even you should be able to take her in physical combat if you're fast.
[ ] Try communicating. If you run, you'll just die tired.
[ ] Something else (write-in)

Quickly, you give a command to hide, mouthing the word 'ambush' as you do so. This really isn't a bad situation to be in. She's probably about as strong as you are, according to your sources, if you ignore her rather destructive abilities. A good sneak attack would probably bring her down.

“So I... right. Ok. What? Make up your mind!”

Patchouli helps Marisa along to a nearby pillar, off to the side. You, on the other hand, decide to duck behind the throne. It'll be a little difficult to signal to the other group, but, hopefully, you shouldn't need to.

After a little while, you hear the sound of footsteps. Light ones, but only a pair you think. Yes, she's probably alone. She's muttering under her breath, too, although you're not sure about what.

“Tell them 'I'll do it myself'? Oh. I'll do it myself. You're sure? Ok.”

Suddenly, there's another explosion. This one, unlike the one before, fills the air with a strong stench, and the red lighting in the chamber suddenly grows dim. Sulfur and copper, if you had to place it. It vaguely reminds you of the mist blanketing the tow---

--- wait. Did she just...? You can't help yourself, and peek around the throne.

What you see is something straight out of a horror story. The crystal structure that was hanging from the ceiling has had it's center blown out and is... bleeding, for a lack of a better word. At least, that's what it looks like. Red ooze is pouring out of it like an open wound, splashing onto the floor and down the new hole like some sort of demonic drain. Which it kind of is, you guess.

Standing in the middle of it, of course, is the other Scarlett. It's almost like she doesn't notice the soul juice raining down on the left half of her body; instead, she's intently watching something near the edge of the room. Unmoving, like some kind of statue. A statue having a bucket of blood being poured over it's side.

Quickly, you turn back. The sight and smell is enough to make you nauseous, but you also don't want to be seen just yet. Damn. You think and think, but you can't come up with a good way to get near her. Unless she's so zoned out that she can't hear you running towards her, standing in the dead center of the room like that leaves her pretty shielded.

Eventually, though, you hear a giggle. “Huh? Oh, no no no. This? It's broken. Like sis. What? Make up your mind. It's broken, I can't--- STOP IT! I GET IT I GET IT I GET IT!”

After hearing a thud, you take another peek. She's sitting on the floor now, hands over her ears, rocking back and forth. Whimpering, it sounds like.

“... I get it I get it I get it I get it...”

It's enough to almost make you feel sorry for her. Although you're not sure what just happened...

[ ] … this looks like your chance. Strike.
[ ] … you need to sit tight. Provoking her now wouldn't end well.
>> No. 33935
[X] … you need to sit tight. Provoking her now wouldn't end well.

Damn it Yukari...
>> No. 33937
[x] … this looks like your chance. Strike.
>> No. 33938
[x] … this looks like your chance. Strike.

This is our greatest chance to quickly assassinate her. Her hearing is obstructed, and she is in her own little world right now. We can't afford to just wait around, as she'll recover and be back to her normally insane self by then.
>> No. 33942
[x] … you need to sit tight. Provoking her now wouldn't end well.

Something tells me we may not even have to fight her if we play it right. The whole thing was Remilia's doing, and the souls are fucked anyways, so it may not actually matter if she dies or not now.
>> No. 33943
[x] … this looks like your chance. Strike.

I feel sorry for her, but that doesn't mean she isn't a dire threat to our existence.
>> No. 33945
[x] … you need to sit tight. Provoking her now wouldn't end well.

Nice mental image there.
>> No. 33947
Aaaaargh I don't know what to vote

And I'm worried about the leaking souls.
>> No. 33959
[x] … this looks like your chance. Strike.
>> No. 33960
Called, etc.
>> No. 33967
[x] … this looks like your chance. Strike.

… this looks like your chance. It would be better to put her out of her misery now, rather than wait until she's lucid again.

Turning back, you fish around in your coat for that stake, which... is still lying in a pile of ash. Right where you left it. Huh. You guess you'll have to make due. Pinning her to the ground, then having one of the others get you that stake should work. Or, maybe you could try to break her neck. Given a few days, of course, it would heal, but it would give you enough time to finish the job.

Once more, you peek around the throne.

“Hey, hey.”

There's a soft whisper next to your ear. You turn around to find a koakuma hovering there, a grin on her face.

“Patchy wants to know what we're gonna do.”

She's... always on the ball, isn't she. You guess that takes care of that. “Tell her she needs to stake the vampire after I pin her. I'll wait until you give her the message, then I'm going to go for it.”

“Got it~” The little devil nods, quickly heading for the ceiling and over. You watch it head behind the row of pillars that the other two made for, wait a few seconds, and then take a deep breath. Time to do this.

You move as quickly as you can without making more than a little noise, and end up going at a fast walk. The distance closes quickly, and the poor girl doesn't even seem to notice. In no time at all, you're up to that child, standing in about an inch of that foul liquid.

She's still muttering while curled up in a ball, so you're not exactly sure where to start. If this were a fair fight, you guess you'd start kicking, but... damn, something seems so wrong about that.

“... like a twig. Like the next thousand twigs. Why? I don't want to. Don't not want to. A circle? With a criss-cross and a curly q?”

Suddenly, she starts speaking clearly again. Clear words, you guess, although the meaning is still as muddy as ever. Well, you guess you need to do it now. With one swift motion you sweep her arms off of her ears, pin them back behind her head, and lift her up off the ground. It takes a bit of care to avoid her wings, but you manage not to cut yourself on them.

“Ah! W-what?!”

“Patchouli!”

Patchouli, gliding across the floor faster than you've ever seen, makes for the pile of ash. The little sister tries kicking you, but, with a hold like this, she can't do too much. Really, she's actually like a child.

“No, wait!” The younger sister cries out, “She's so angry, hotter than her home... I'll burn! I need to cool her down with a drink first!”

[ ] “What? Who?”
[ ] ... ignore it.
>> No. 33969
[X] “What? Who?”

More plot.
>> No. 33970
[x] ... ignore it.

Oh, now we're interested in talking? Bad idea.
>> No. 33971
[X] “What? Who?”
>> No. 33974
[x] ... ignore it.

This will bite us in the ass... but so will the other choice. I feel like I'm playing Dragon Age II here: I can only choose 'how' (and not 'if') things are gonna screw up.
>> No. 33975
[x] ... ignore it.
>> No. 33977
>>33974
Stop playing bad games
>> No. 33978
[x] ... ignore it.
>> No. 33980
[x] ... ignore it.

The blathering of an insane abomination will not sway me.
>> No. 33998
>“She's so angry, hotter than her home... I'll burn! I need to cool her down with a drink first!”

And we're the drink. Yeah, no.

[x] ... ignore it.
>> No. 34000
>>33998
aren't you assuming much?
>> No. 34001
[x] Ignore.
>> No. 34005
[x] ... ignore it.
>> No. 34009
Called, update in a few hours.
>> No. 34010
>>33977
I think it's more about storytelling in general: if a lunatic spouts some random nonsense just before you're about to take it down, it usually occurs that the nonsense was something VERY important and she just happened to become rational momentarily. Because of magic, I guess.
>> No. 34013
[x] ... ignore it.

You continue to hold on. A lapse in judgment here could be fatal. They say there's a fine border between insanity and possession, and who knows what sorts of forces you've managed to piss off here. At the very least, you bet those two demons aren't pleased.

“No! I-don't-want-to-die-yet!”

… you're going to need a long vacation after this.

Patchouli doesn't take very long to make it over towards you, being extra careful to stay out of Flandre's line of sight.

“Now?” She asks, coming up to your side. You give her a nod.

“No! The fires of Makai are noth---”

Patchouli moves around to the front to get a better angle. “Goodbye.”

Although you can't see it, you feel the impact. The lunatic stops raving, and, after a second or two, you feel her arms begin to soften. You let her go. Before she hits the floor, she's already become mostly gray, and in a few more second dissolves completely. The liquid coming from the ceiling carries her ashen remains along, ultimately ending up draining down to the lower floors through the hole that she made.

“... ugh,” You say, shaking your head. “Let's avoid doing that ever again.”

“Agreed.”

You let out a huge sigh. Aside from a bit of cleanup, then, that's mostly it. That cleanup needs to be done before you can rest, though, because it's still pressing.

“So,” You say, motioning to the liquid, “What's this?”

“Souls,” Patchouli says, “In a blood medium. At least, that would be my guess. I've personally never dealt in this sort of magic.”

Yep. You'll have nightmares about this. A river of blood containing the souls of an entire town isn't something pleasant to think about.

“How do I offer this in payment?”

She shrugs. “You don't. Containing and transferring are the main purposes of that crystal that she destroyed. We could construct another device, but the energy will have dissipated by the time we finish.”

“So... I guess that contract's broken, then.”

“... it will be an interesting proceeding,” Patchouli shrugs, “Technically, you didn't break it, so you should be fine. You may see a minor streak of bad luck, or some other minor thing if they manage to prove that you weren't trying hard enough to transfer them.”

“So this goes to some kind of demonic court or something?”

“That's correct,” Patchouli nods, “We don't have any say in the case, however, so you don't need to worry about it.”

“We still need to go after the maid.”

Marisa makes her way towards you. The bandage looks like it's doing a good job – she's not bleeding out all over the place any more, although she winces every time her arm moves.

“I guess she fell down that hole,” You say, motioning to the center of the room. “I think Patchouli and I can take care of it, though.”

“I... heh.” She laughs. “Yeah, I get it. I think I'll need someone to help me get back, though, even if we forget about the vampires.”

“I do not think those will be a problem,” Patchouli states, “Breaking the containment vessel for a soul-extracting spell usually ends said spell. The fog should be gone now, and the vampires turned to ash. The ones outside, at least. Still, perhaps we could leave the search to the koakuma.”

“Think so?”

“This smell is making me nauseous, to be frank,” Patchouli says, “And the residual energy is disturbing my thoughts.”

You agree with her on the first point, but not really the second. It must be a youkai thing, you guess.

“That won't be a problem for them? Or in general? Sounds dangerous.”

“Not really, no,” She answers, “They live in a world like this, until I summon them. This house may end up with a small demon infestation, however. You will not want to spend the night here after the energy dissipates.”

[ ] Fair points. You can leave the search to the koakuma.
[ ] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. It would be better if we both stayed.
[ ] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. You'll stay and look.
>> No. 34014
[x] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. You'll stay and look.

Alone time with Sakuya after killing her Mistress? Sign me up!
>> No. 34015
[ ] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. It would be better if we both stayed.

If we're gonna kill everyone, we better make sure to kill everyone
>> No. 34017
[x] Fair points. You can leave the search to the Koakuma.

Koakuma are very proficient. I trust them to safely retrieve the maid.
>> No. 34021
[x] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. It would be better if we both stayed.

We have her watch, so we'll be the one she comes after. I'd rather deal with her now than find our meal poisoned or get a knife between the ribs when we sleep. The koakuma are indeed capable, but there are likely many hiding places she knows about, and the muldochs might still be active, as well as any vampires still left inside.

It may not be wise to kill her, if possible. She's the only living witness who can speak for everything that went on here, and I'm sure the Guild and higher authorities will be very interested in how this all could happen, as well as to have someone to publicly pin all the blame on.
>> No. 34024
[x] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. It would be better if we both stayed.
>> No. 34026
[x] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. You'll stay and look.
[x] With a few koakuma.

Would be unfortunate if Sakuya managed to sneak up on nauseated Patchouli, so let's have her escort Marisa home.
>> No. 34029
[x] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. You'll stay and look.
[x] With a few koakuma.
[x]Offer her a deal.

Sakuya's free. Her masters are dead. That leaves her open for a job offer, we could strike a deal in exchange for her watch.
>> No. 34050
>“No! I-don't-want-to-die-yet!”

I feel kinda bad now. ;_;

And we probably missed some important info.
>> No. 34052
>>34050
Missed is such a negative word. I prefer postponed.
>> No. 34053
>>34050
Missed? Well, I'll just say this. If something really is important, you'll learn about it later. Don't worry too much about it.

Anyway, called via coinflip. Update in a few hours.
>> No. 34055
[x] … if Sakuya's awake, she could likely take out a few koakuma. You'll stay and look.

“Well, I guess it should be fine with just me and the koakuma,” You say, shrugging, “This stuff just stinks to me. Think you could help Marisa make it back?”

“Certainly,” Patchouli responds, “How many koakuma would you like?”

“As many as you can spare. I'd like to get this done quickly.”

“Give me a few moment.”

“You sure you'll be alright?” Marisa asks, “You look pretty beat yourself.”

You reach into your pocket for the maid's watch, pull it out, and dangle it for Marisa to see. “Without this she's pretty worthless. Well, I guess she's still pretty good with a knife, but she won't be stopping time or anything. I'm pretty sure I can manage a barrier to block a knife.”

“She can't keep spare watches or whatever?”

“Nah,” You say, “I don't think it works like that.”

“It doesn't,” Patchouli confirms, right before you feel a large gust of wind blow over you. You turn, and find a rather large group of koakuma. At least twice as large as the group that helped you in that fight with the Lady.

“Whoa,” You say, taken a bit aback by the sight. “Are these really all spares?”

“Yes.”

… you manage to stop yourself before you ask how that even works. That's enough demonic education today. “Alright. Koakuma!”

“Yeah?”

… at least, that's what you think they said. The whole group tries to respond at once, and they don't exactly have military-like discipline.

“Spread out. I want... I don't know, five of you to stick with me, though. We're looking for a maid, the only human one here. Subdue her, and come find me. Oh, try to be stealthy, and watch out for traps.”

“In the mansion, right?”

“That's right.”

“Ok!”

Like a swarm of bats leaving a cave, the group breaks apart and takes off in all different directions. All but five of them, of course.

Marisa laughs. “That was, uh...”

“That was fine, but try to avoid giving them commands that will obviously get them killed,” Patchouli says, “They are moderately expensive.”

You nod. “Sure, I'll bring them back in the same condition unless something crazy happens. Have a safe trip back.”

“Have a good hunt,” Marisa says, before turning towards Patchouli. “Ready?”

“Yes. Let's go.”

You watch the two of them head towards the door leaving the room, which the koakuma opened when they spread out, and depart. They'll be fine. You turn towards the giant hole in the center of the room and peer down.

It looks like it goes down straight to the basement, through all three floors. Although you don't see the maid, if she wasn't conscious at the time, well... she'd have a hard time surviving that. If the fall didn't kill her, drowning in the blood pool probably would.

“Could one of you check that pool down there for a body?” You ask, turning towards your five mobile sets of eyes. “First thing's first, I guess.”

A quick survey shows that no, she's not down there. You didn't think so. This woman... seems like someone who wouldn't die so easily. You pull out your map, and take a look.

[ ] Focus your search on areas near the hole. She probably hasn't gotten very far.
[ ] Focus your search on areas likely to have weapons. That would be her first stop.
[ ] Focus your search on the “secret” areas. If she's hiding, she'd be in one of those.

Search style:
[ ] Quick and loud
[ ] Slow and quiet
>> No. 34058
[x] Focus your search on areas near the hole. She probably hasn't gotten very far.
[x] Quick and loud
>> No. 34059
[ ] Focus your search on areas near the hole. She probably hasn't gotten very far.
[ ] Quick and loud
>> No. 34060
[x] Slow and quiet
[x] Focus your search on the “secret” areas. If she's hiding, she'd be in one of those.
It's doubtful that she'd just forget about her experience in the mansion in the middle of a crisis.
>> No. 34063
[x] Quick and loud
[ ] Focus your search on areas likely to have weapons. That would be her first stop.

Wait, why are we keeping the stopwatch with us? We should have just let Patchy take it further away from the mansion, and by extension the maid. It's not like we can use it, anyway.
>> No. 34065
[x] Focus your search on the “secret” areas. If she's hiding, she'd be in one of those.
[x] Quick and loud

If we're loud, she won't be looking out for the koakuma.
>> No. 34066
[x] Focus your search on areas near the hole. She probably hasn't gotten very far.
[x] Quick and loud

The maid is likely dealing with one bitch of a headache, if not a minor concussion. She'll be dazed and disoriented. Since not much time has passed since her disappearance, it only makes sense that she is still located somewhere in the vicinity.
>> No. 34073
Called, few hours, etc.
>> No. 34077
[x] Focus your search on areas near the hole. She probably hasn't gotten very far.
[x] Quick and loud

“Well, she can't have gone far,” You say, pulling out a pencil. Finding a non-bloody portion of the floor, you draw a big circle through the places where the hole ended up. Right. Well, she probably hasn't gotten very far. You'll focus on these areas.

The second floor doesn't yield much, but the first floor has a nice trail leading away from the hole. A bloody trail. Normally you'd say that she's wounded, but, well... no real way to tell that now, you guess. However, the path does seem smeared, so you'd guess there's something wrong with her leg. You just follow it, as quickly as you can.

It doesn't lead very far. The trail heads under a door two rooms down from the hole, into what you guess is a spare bedroom. She didn't even bother to close the door all the way. You give it a good push open, and find your target... leaning up against a bed.

“Ah... you.”

Her gaze is weak, and her words strained. And you can see where that trail came from – a piece of timber looks to have lodged itself in her calf. She must have landed right on the edge of the hole, which was quite rough. It's amazing she's alive at all, really.

She looks to be in the middle of making some crude bandages from a rather ordinary knife and some of the sheets that were previously on the bed. She follows your gaze to the knife, and smiles a sad little smile.

“Don't worry,” She sighs, “It's not balanced for throwing.”

“Hey, hey, we fou--- oh, you found her, too.”

Another koakuma comes flying down the hallway. You guess they didn't really have to do much to subdue her – she's fairly incapacitated as it is. Looking a bit closer you notice another two hovering just above the bed, keeping watch. They both give you a thumbs up and a smile.

“They are both dead, I take it? These two won't tell me anything,” Sakuya asks, plainly. Even now, she doesn't seem to have any emotions. It's very bizarre, seeing someone so calm as their entire world falls around them.

You nod. “Yes.”

She looks to the knife again. “Then, I suppose I shall take my leave as well.”

It takes you a moment to realize what she means. It comes to you in a flash, though, as she raises her knife. She intends to follow her master until the end, even if it's into death.

[ ] … look away. You can allow her this, at least.
[ ] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.
[ ] You can't allow that. You have enough blood on your hands today.
>> No. 34078
[x] You can't allow that. You have enough blood on your hands today.

No. Just no.
>> No. 34079
[x] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.

Job comes first. Plus she might be useful later.
>> No. 34081
[x] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.
>> No. 34084
[x] … look away. You can allow her this, at least.

Ugh. This whole update made me feel bad. I feel like a total jackass for slaughtering her masters now. I just can't be coldblooded enough to force her to live any more, valuable witness or no. After all the shit we put her through, she deserves to have this last selfish act.
>> No. 34085
[x] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.

Not completely unsympathetic, but we're not going to hike all the way back to Rokford without a material witness.
>> No. 34088
>>34084
That's dumb.
Are you forgetting the whole slaughtered village? She served a MASS MURDERER unquestioningly, with full knowledge of her actions. There's no feeling sorry for someone like that, and they don't 'deserve' shit, except for life-long misery, maybe.


[x] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.
>> No. 34089
[x] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.
>> No. 34090
>>34088
[x] You can't allow that. You have enough blood on your hands today.

Perhaps Remilia had a good reason for her actions? We'll never know. barbarians
>> No. 34094
>>34090
Whatever the case, sometimes villains are people too, not just souless monsters.
>> No. 34096
[x] You can't allow that. You have enough blood on your hands today.
Taking the easy way out, uh?
>> No. 34098
>>34094

Too bad you guys voted for killing Flandre then, huh.
>> No. 34109
Called.
>> No. 34112
[x] You can't allow that. She's a valuable witness to this whole thing.

“Stop her!” You call out to the two nearby koakuma who, amazingly, are paying perfect attention. They realize what you mean immediately. Quickly, one of them reaches for the arm while the other reaches for the hand and, with a bit of force, retrieves the knife from it.

The maid makes a desperate bid to get the knife back, but the little devils are just too fast. After a few moments, she gives up, and sighs. “Why?”

“We still need you to act as a witness, to explain what you know about this whole incident,” You say, “Really, we know next to nothing about what happened here. After that, you can do as you like.”

She looks down, “... I suppose I have no choice in that case. The Lady deserves more than speculation in the official records.”

“Now,” You say, “We need to do something about that leg. It won't do for you to bleed out.”

“There is a medical room on the second floor,” She notes, “I could properly treat it myself there.”

“I don't suppose there's an elevator in this place, is there?” You ask, pulling out your map once more. Ah, this must be the room she was talking about. 'Md.'. It's almost directly above this one, but the stairs are at the far end of the hall.

“I'm afraid not,” She says, “It was a project we hadn't gotten around to.”

“Well, I suppose I can probably get you up there regardless. Come on.”

She doesn't seem thrilled with the idea, but offers no complaints. You carefully help her stand, and she wraps her arm around your shoulder. It's slow going, and it takes more than a few minutes to figure out how to even attempt the stairs, but eventually the two of you reach the room.

You know that it's a medical room, but you weren't expecting something so... fully equipped. This room is quite a bit better than even your normal doctor's place. She directs you to set her down on the bed, and you do so. As for yourself, you take a seat on one of the nearby chairs.

After removing the huge splinter, she ends up directing the koakuma to get what she needs. You're not very good at this. Herbs to cleanse the wound, herbs to help with clotting, herbs to help with the pain... you don't even recognize half of these – you wonder if they're not local remedies. Or poisons, you guess, but you think her earlier remark was sincere. The Lady would probably come back to life just to fix things herself if she only ended up with a paragraph in the mission file.

The fact that Sakuya can do all this more-or-less on her own is rather amazing as well, you think. Operating on another is much different from operating on one's self. After the treatment, she wraps the whole wound in gauze and leans back, seemingly satisfied with her work.

“Feeling better?”

“No,” She says, bluntly, “But the wound will heal.”

That's what you meant, but you suppose she's got other things on her mind at the moment. It almost feels like you should be the one apologizing here, but... that's not right, is it? They incurred the wrath of the Guild, so this is how it needs to be.

“It's not my place as a prisoner to ask, but what tricks did you use?” She asks, after a short pause.

“Playing dead, mainly,” You say, thinking back. Adding the part about Yukari crosses your mind, but that feels so unreal now. Like it never happened. And, even if it did, it didn't really offer you any kind of advantage. “Really, I'm amazed we won. That was definitely the most difficult fight I've ever been in.”

“... good,” She says, before letting out a huge yawn. “Ah, the medication is beginning to work.”

“Sedatives?”

She gives you a sluggish nod, before lying down to get comfortable. “As well as treatment for a mild concussion. I should be awake in a few hours.”

Before you can say any more, she closes her eyes. That must be some pretty strong stuff – this woman can take a two story drop and have her leg impaled, but just a bit of some herb is enough to knock her out.

Unsure of what to do, you sort of absentmindedly explore the medical room. Curiously, you come across one of those wheeled chairs that you've seen from time to time. If you wanted to leave now, you suppose it wouldn't be too much of a chore to get her back... once you made it past the stairs, of course.

[ ] That's a good idea, actually. You'd rather not spend any more time here than you have to.
[ ] Just wait around for a bit. A few hours isn't much.
[ ] She seems like she'll cooperate, but she's been known to omit important information before. Do a bit of exploration, and see if you can't find anything.
>> No. 34114
[x] That's a good idea, actually. You'd rather not spend any more time here than you have to.

While I'm sure this place is filled with really cool stuff, I don't want to make the others worry.
>> No. 34118
[x] She seems like she'll cooperate, but she's been known to omit important information before. Do a bit of exploration, and see if you can't find anything.

You know that "ignore it" option a few votes back? Now is when we get to find out.
>> No. 34119
[x] She seems like she'll cooperate, but she's been known to omit important information before. Do a bit of exploration, and see if you can't find anything.

It sure is weird that we know so much about this mansion... almost as if we were a diviner, but that's silly.
>> No. 34123
[x] She seems like she'll cooperate, but she's been known to omit important information before. Do a bit of exploration, and see if you can't find anything.

Woohoo! Time to loot the place, taking all the valuables before the guild appropriates it all.
>> No. 34124
[x] That's a good idea, actually. You'd rather not spend any more time here than you have to.
>> No. 34133
[X] She seems like she'll cooperate, but she's been known to omit important information before. Do a bit of exploration, and see if you can't find anything.
>> No. 34164
From now on, just consider the vote called at this time daily.
>> No. 34169
>>34164

Hooray!
>> No. 34171
[x] She seems like she'll cooperate, but she's been known to omit important information before. Do a bit of exploration, and see if you can't find anything.

… well, you guess taking a look around the rest of the mansion wouldn't be a bad idea, either. Something isn't sitting well with you, and it'll be a while before the Guild bothers to send out an investigation team, you think. And, obviously, Sakuya isn't going to tell you everything. You think she'll be honest, but omission isn't exactly lying.

You have the three koakuma that found the maid stay in the room, have one of your personal escorts call off the rest of the search, and pull out your map. Now, where to begin?

The first thing that jumps out at you is a study on the next floor, just down the hall from the throne room. You'll check there first. It seems like a logical place to keep notes.

Getting there isn't much trouble. Aside from the smell, at this end of the mansion, you'd hardly know that anything was amiss. That smell, though... ugh. That's going to stick with you for a while, both literally and figuratively.

The study itself is quite tidy. Two bookcases on either side of a desk, a few maps lining the wall... fairly typical, too. You set towards checking the books first.

The first one contains nothing out of the ordinary. Most of the books don't even deal with magic; they're classics, from works of fiction to some of the more famous works in philosophy. She wasn't kidding when she called you a barbarian, you guess – if she'd really read all this, that's certainly her right.

The next side is what you were actually looking for. Grimoires, and a lot of them. You...

… hah, you could probably learn a few new arts from these. You don't think you even recognize half these books. The bottom row catches your eye, as most of the titles seem to have a blood theme. Blood magic, you'd guess.

Although it's not exactly prohibited to practice that as a Guild member, it's not really practical. You just don't come across large quantities of blood legally.

With some of these books, you get the feeling that it's probably better not to ask where they came from. Even the words on the spine seem to be written in blood, and you'd rather not think about where the parchment came from.

You switch your focus to the desk next. The top has nothing interesting on it – just some writing material. The first drawer, nothing. The second... well, nothing interesting. Looks like some legal documents or... oh. Nevermind. This is interesting.

It's a document laying out plans for a new Rokford, from what you can tell. Just skimming the thing, you notices that there's a section for a governing body, a plan for a city takeover of the local smelting/mining industry... huh. Is this serious? Oh. 'How to gain acceptance into the empire'. It is serious, isn't it?

It looks like this wasn't a threat to other cities. She had planned to use the vampires as a way to defend her assets only, and the mineral wealth as bargaining tool. Really? It's almost laughable. Was this Lady really that disconnected from the real world? It might have worked if this was some alternate reality where there was no centralized army, and...

'The strategy hinges on being able to hold out until the assault succeeds. It should take roughly a week for her to gather the necessary forces and create enough distractions to attempt it. If we can last that long, it's almost impossible to think of the Imperial army ever being a threat to this town. A bit of a gambit, I admit, but the risks are well worth it. It'll be terribly exciting to see if we can succeed.'

… huh. Looks like she had an answer for that, too. That's all she writes on that bit, a tiny footnote near the end of the section. You see no other mention of 'her' or this 'assault', but she seems to have banked everything on it. Or... no, that's probably not the right phrase for someone who deals in fate. She was sure it would happen, but uncertain if she could hold out for that time.

You think you'll keep this one with you. Some of the language is a bit archaic and hard to read – although you guess that's understandable for someone so old. Patchouli could probably glean more from it than you can. Carefully, you roll it up and place it inside an inner pocket in your coat.

Below that document, there's a contract. You recognize the names on this one; it looks like this was her contract with the demons. It's a single page, so you decide to read through it as well. Nothing really out of the ordinary about this one.

Hey.

You hear a voice, but, unsure of where it came from, you look around. The koakuma seem wholly bored, and pique up when you do.

“You guys hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“... nevermind.”

Hey.

“That.” You say, hearing it again.

“What?” One asks again, “It's sooo quiet.”

The basement. Go.

“What the hell? Why?” You ask, without much thought.

Just do it. It's important.

There's a few possibilities here. First of all, you could be going crazy. The fumes are getting to you, maybe in more ways than one. That's certainly possible. Still, this feels more... real. You guess everyone who hears voices says that, though, so it's not really a good measure of sanity.

The koakuma seem to be amused by the whole thing, in either case. “'Cause it is. You losing it, guy?”

“Maybe,” You mutter. Hmm. You wonder if it'll just go away if you ignore it. It's going to be a pain if you need to deal with a ranting spirit during your entire investigation.

Don't make me drag you down here.

[ ] Well, you guess you could investigate. It should be fine.
[ ] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.
[ ] … grab the maid. You're leaving.
>> No. 34172
[x] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.
>> No. 34173
[X] Well, you guess you could investigate. It should be fine.

Following the voices in our head? What could possibly go wrong?
>> No. 34174
[x] Well, you guess you could investigate. It should be fine.

This seems legit. In any case, she's probably serious about dragging us down there, and I'd rather go voluntarily. It's like those finger-trap things, resist and you'll never get free.
>> No. 34175
>Don't make me drag you down here.

I don't think it can.

[x] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.

The voice should at least identify itself before we willfully walk into its deathtrap.
>> No. 34176
[X] Who is this?
>> No. 34181
>>34176
Throw this in before >“What the hell? Why?”
======================================
"Who is this?"

You wouldn't know me. Come, quickly.

... well, it's not exactly an introduction. Probably correct, though.
>> No. 34182
Since they're in the basement, it's probably something to do with the souls. Either collecting them for Makai or freeing them.

I really think we should go down there before the souls expire or whatever.
>> No. 34185
[x] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.

We're not done investigating, and this wraith has no real power, else it wouldn't bother asking.
>> No. 34187
[x] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.

Might as well regroup with patchouli, come back with her in tow and check out the basement then.
>> No. 34188
[x] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.
>> No. 34189
[x] Well, you guess you could investigate. It should be fine.

Ignoring it now would just make trouble later for somebody.
>> No. 34191
[x] Well, you guess you could investigate. It should be fine.
I don't think we can ignore plot poitns forever.
>> No. 34200
[x] Just ignore it. The only thing in the basement is that pool, and Patchouli said it wasn't dangerous.

You chuckle. Well, if it wants you that bad, it'll need to do just that. Until then, you think you'll just ignore it. Patchouli said it should be fine, and you'd rather stay away from that smell unless you have a good reason.

Last chance, Jack.

“Sorry,” You say to the air, “I try not to deal in unknowns if I don't need to.”

A part of you expects something dramatic to happen. Books to start flying off the shelves, the koakuma to start attacking, your hair to light on fire... something. But, nothing happens. Somewhat disappointing, but you guess it was only bluffing.

Worthless.

Although it only 'speaks' the word once, it echos around your head with growing intensity. First, it's almost a whisper, but it's soon closer to a roar. Loud enough to block out most of your thoughts, at least, like a very rude neighbor. Or maybe a crying child.

“I get it,” You mutter, “Shut up.”

'I get it'. You think back to the very end of that fight, with Flandre curled up on the floor. A coincidence, you wonder? Since 'worthless' doesn't seem intent on stopping anytime soon, you use a bit of energy to remove the thought from your mind. If there's one thing you're good at, it's that.

“Maybe you should go outside?” One of the koakuma asks.

You shake your head, returning to the task at hand. “It's just some pissed off spirit. I'm fine, really.”

“Ok. Want me to beat you up if you start carving stuff in your arm?”

The other koakuma laugh at the thought, and you can't help but join in. “Sure, go for it.”

Going through the other drawers in the desk doesn't yield anything interesting. Mansion finances, you guess. Looks like the Lady already had her fingers in a few smaller local industries before this thing began, and had quite the account at the local bank. The Guild will be pretty happy to see that, since the law dictates that it's theirs now. Although, you suppose most of it will go towards rebuilding Rokford after all this.

Well, there's not much else of interest in here, so you pull out your map again and look for something else interesting. On the first floor, it looks like, there's a large 'lib.', a library you guess. You might as well head there next.

That voice doesn't bother you again on your way down., If you had to guess, you'd say it'll leave you alone for now. Maybe it'll try to con Sakuya into whatever it wants when she wakes up, but it'll be easy enough for the koakuma up there to prevent that.

Upon opening the door to the place, you find that it seems much larger than it looks on the map. The Guild is going to be very happy with this place. Hell, they probably would have made a deal with the Lady just to get access to all this. There's probably around... no, it's difficult to estimate when the numbers are this high. There's twenty bookcases spread out through the room, though; and, they're all full.

This room looks like a nice place to sit and sip alcohol. There's a fireplace on one wall, with an elaborate (and quite comfortable) chair facing it. Typical. There's a large panting of a man you don't recognize hanging above the fireplace, along with various beast heads hanging along the walls. Many of them don't look like earthly beasts, either.

Taking a look at the titles...

“Heh. Of course.”

The first one you land on is 'On Makai, and Demonic Society'. It catches your eye, because it's the only one that's upside down in the entire bookcase. You think you hear a faint laugh, but nothing nearly as strong as before.

Aside from that, nothing really catches your eye other than a lot of these seem incredibly old. A few of the volumes look like they might crumple to dust if you touched them. A good find, certainly, but who knows if there's anything important here.

You pull out the map again. Taking a look at it, the rest of the labled rooms look to be more for utility than information. Kitchens (there are no less than three), a workshop, things like that. 'B. storage', though, catches your eye.

… on second thought, though, maybe you don't want to go there. Nothing else really catches your eye. Still, this plan was a damn good find.

For a reason unknown to you, you also decide to take 'On Makai' with you. It's not that large; you could probably finish it in two days if you decided to work at it. And, since it's pretty clear at this point that you could use more knowledge in the field, it doesn't seem like a bad idea. When you pull out the book, however, something else falls to the floor.

A page? No, it's already folded. Unfolded, it's a magic circle or rune of some kind about three feet across. You definitely don't recognize it, either.

Well, this seems like something you might want to keep, in either case. You fold it up and place it in the back cover of the book, like it was before, and take the book with you. To where, though? Although that searching took a while, you've still got some time to kill.

[ ] Basement. Might as well.
[ ] Medical room. You can start to work on that book.
[ ] Outside. Get some fresh air.
===============================================
>>34191
Again, don't worry too much about that. You can do as you like - that's why I gave the option.
>> No. 34201
[x] Basement. Might as well.
>> No. 34202
[x] Basement. Might as well.

If she's a vampire, it's not unreasonable to expect that the Lady might have living prisoners.
>> No. 34203
[x] Basement. Might as well.
On our own terms
>> No. 34205
[x] Medical room. You can start to work on that book.

Hah, we're probably going to get hit with bad luck now. Should be fun.
>> No. 34206
[x] Basement. Might as well.

Man, something about Klaymen's stories just attract "[x] Ignore plot." votes. Granted, it was sort of justified in SCIENCE, and here with Flandre acting as an unknown element, but it's still a little disheartening.
>> No. 34207
[x] Medical room. You can start to work on that book.
>> No. 34208
>>34206
I'd rather have plot crash down on my head than get it from the exposition fairy. Surprises are fun!
>> No. 34209
[x] Medical room. You can start to work on that book.

Going to the basement would be like giving up.
>> No. 34210
>>34206
Yeah and it's pretty stupid. It's almost as if this was a /th/ story.
>> No. 34211
[+] Basement. Might as well.
>> No. 34213
>>34208
As long as no one complains down the line about how we were left in the dark.
>> No. 34214
[x] Basement. Might as well.

… well, you guess you could check out the basement now. It's not like you have anything more pressing to do now. Pulling out your map, you find the furthest staircase from the hole that you can and take that one. Wading through a pool of soul-infused blood probably isn't a good idea, but you doubt that it's spread through the entire basement.

The basement itself, you see when you get down there, is definitely not ment for guests. It's got stone walls and a stone floor, the humidity seems a little high.

The first room that you enter seems to be completely clean. Filled with that stench, but clean. After rounding a corner, you see why – although there's a thin stream of the stuff cutting through the room, it ends at a grate in the floor. You can't really see this place needing to worry about basement flooding, being on a hill, but the drainage system seems to be build in regardless.

...which means that all of this is probably getting dumped into the nearby river. You guess there's no major population centers downstream, so it's not a big deal, but it's still a little unsettling.

Most of the doors down here are fairly heavy, and seem to be well sealed. The closer you get to the hole, the more blood you notice running under the doors. You decide not to open the ones that are gushing, for obvious reasons. Still, you seem to be able to get around well enough. You can gain access to all but one hallway, and thus three rooms.

All in all, the basement itself is very uninteresting. It seems to be used mostly for storage. Wood, coal, and various pieces of furniture. It looks like it would be pretty feasable for the Lady to change the look of the place on a whim. There's at least three or four complete dining sets here, among other things. Lots of paintings and statues as well.

And, oddly enough, no raving spirits. Maybe that was your last chance, it's last chance, or some combination of the two. You're still a little curious, but a sizable part of you would rather not meet the same fate as that infamous cat.

Something interesting does catch your eye as you wander the halls, however. Chalked on the outside wall of one of the blocked off rooms is a circle. It seems rather crude, almost like a sidewalk drawing, so you doubt a magician drew it.

Still, it seems to radiate... something. There's a bit of power here, regardless of how crude it looks. Maybe it's a summoning circle? You really have no idea, but it reminds you a bit of the one that Patchouli set up for you yesterday. That same sort of feeling, the uneasiness that comes from looking at something demonic.

“Disembodied voice, is that you?” You ask, a little playfully. “I heard you wanted something. What was it?”

One of the koakuma lets out a low whistle. “Baaaad idea.”

… you get the idea that this thing hates you, and everything you stand for. It feels like Marisa's staring you down all over again, after making that deal she hated so much.

“What?” You ask, “Not polite enough? That whole worthless thing was kind of rude, too.”

“H-hey,” One of them asks, giving a little tug on your coat. “Can we leave?”

“What's wrong?” You ask. “I don't think it can do anything.”

“N...no, really,” Another one adds, “We should leave. Like, now.”

There's a loud groan, a crack, and the sound of rushing liquid. Quickly, you look down the hallway towards the direction of the sound. There seems to be a wall of blood rushing towards you, a little over waist high if you had to guess.

“Shit!”

There's a nearby door you opened to get here, and you can just duck behind that, and nothing else nearby that you can stand on. It's going to be tight, but if you run you think you can make it without too much trouble.

Test your luck (choose one):
[ ] Luck(1)
[ ] Luck(2)
[ ] Luck(3)
================================================
>>34205
Only with a 67% chance.
>> No. 34216
[x] 2
>> No. 34217
>>34213
If that happens, I'm the only one at fault. As I said before, none of you should worry about "missing" something forever because you choose one of my options. You're blazing a path, not trying to follow one... if that makes any sense. If it's truly important, I'll do my best to make sure you don't miss it.
>> No. 34218
[x] Luck(1)

I hear part of a song when I read "Luck 1" so I'm going with that.

and speaking of failing as a writer, this sort of choice is not a very good choice at all. could you really not think of anything better?
>> No. 34220
>>34218
I could explain why, but it's a stupid reason because I'm tired and not exactly making sense. Felt it was better to cut it here than to go on today.
>> No. 34221
[x]Luck(3)

No option to shield? Perhaps he's more tired then he appears.
>> No. 34222
[+] Luck(2)
I would've thought some of the koakuma could've just given him a lift.
>> No. 34223
[x] Luck(2)
I asked a pseudo random number generator. It said 1.89..., so here goes.
>> No. 34224
[x] Luck(2)
>> No. 34225
[x] Luck (2)
>> No. 34238
>Only with a 67% chance.

How witty.
>> No. 34247
Sorry, things are happening. I'll have the update later tonight.
>> No. 34252
[x] Luck(2)

And you probably would have made it, too. But, as luck would have it, there's a slippery spot in possibly the worst location you've ever seen. You try to quickly turn to head through the door, but your foot slips out from under you... and you take a nasty spill, landing on the floor with a bang. You land on your arm, but the momentum causes you to end up on your back. There's a nice crunching sound to accompany it, and you're sure you just broke something inside your coat. Nothing toxic, you hope.

You try to scramble to your feet, but, before you can, you're already... floating? No, looks like the koakuma have grabbed hold of the back of your jacket, lifting you up.

“Gotcha!”

The river goes rolling by, a foot or so below you. You manage to fight off the urge to vomit, at least. Really, this smell is going to haunt you for years. Still, at least your safe. These little demons really are handy, aren---

“Oh, crap!”

Something happens. You don't have time to analyze it, really, but one side of you drops and, after sliding out of your coat, the rest of your body follows. Straight into the warm river below.

… and then, the next thing you know, you're lying on your back. Dry, and on a cot. Quickly, you sit up. Your brain is having a hard time with this. This doesn't make any sense – how, what...?

“You're awake! Wait here.”

There's a koakuma nearby, but not for long. It makes for the exit to the room.

“Wai---”

And completely ignores you, leaving you alone.

“Nevermind.”

You give yourself a good look over. No obvious injuries that you can see, although your head feels a little funny. Not... aching, just off.

This room looks a lot like you're back in the bank, actually. Your coat is hanging near the door, but your hat is nowhere to be found. That, and you're pretty sure that you don't own any clothes like this. They'd be good for the back country, you guess, but you usually fancy something lighter.

You were told to wait here, so you do that. In a few minutes, the door opens again.

“Hey,” Marisa says. She looks better than she did when she left the mansion. Looks like she has a real bandage now. Patchouli's also with her. “How are you feeling?”

“Confused,” You say, “Why am I not swimming in a river of blood?”

She laughs. “I guess you were for a while. You don't remember anything?”

“... what? No, last thing I remember is falling.”

“Not even the runes?”

“Runes?”

“They were quite impressive,” Patchouli answers. “Somehow, you managed to fulfill your contract with those two demons, at least partially.”

“Hold on,” You say, shaking your head. “From the beginning. What happened?”

“I slipped,” The koakuma answers, “Then you slipped. We saved your coat, though!”

“So, I fell into... that?”

“Uh-huh. We got you out real quick and set you down. Then, she started using your mouth, so... we went and got Patchy.”

“Using my what?”

“You were possessed,” Patchouli clarifies, “By a lesser demon of the noble line. If I had to guess, she used the blood as a conduit to take over your body.”

Although you can't remember it yourself, it really doesn't strike you as wrong. “Huh. I thought that the blood was safe?”

“In small amounts, it is,” Patchouli says, giving a light shrug. “I didn't think you were going to go for a swim.”

“What happened then?”

“By the time I arrived,” Patchouli continues, “She had drawn runes along a quarter of the basement ceiling. It refused to tell me what they were for, and I have never seen anything like them, so we had a brief fight and I brought you back here. You've been asleep since then.”

“Uh... thanks,” You say, not even really bothering to take this at this point. “What time is it? Where's Sakuya?”

“It's evening, and we brought the maid back here.”

You nod. A few of the pieces fall into place, and you come up with another question to ask. “Wait. You didn't know what the runes did? No idea at all?”

“I have some theories,” Patchouli says, “But nothing concrete. I think they may have been a bid to extract the soul energy from the blood medium.”

Back to the souls, again. This is definitely something you're going to want to the Guild diviners to look into when you get back to the capital. “Did it work?”

“Partially,” Patchouli says, “At least, the energy in the medium was about 15% lower than it should have been.”

“You destroyed the runes when you got there, right?” You ask.

“No. The structure of the runes suggested that they were active, not passive. Their work had already been completed, so I left them there to study.”

“That... sounds like it's alright.” Hell, it's not like you have any real idea if it is or not. She definitely knows more than you about this sort of thing. “What happened to the demon?”

“I assume it fled,” Patchouli says. Noticing your uneasiness about that, she adds, “No, not physically. It probably returned to Makai.”

Hmm. You set to sorting all this out in your head, which ends up leading into silence. So, whatever it was, it needed you to draw a bunch of runes all over the place. What the hell was it doing in the basement anyway? What's the relation here? If you throw that Yukari woman into the mix... something else is definitely going on here.

“Oh,” You say, suddenly remembering the study, “Could someone grab my coat?”

“Huh?” Marisa asks, turning to the thing. “Sure. Why?”

She hands it over, and... oh, good. You pull out the plan that you found in the office, and hand it to Patchouli. “I thought Patchouli might want to see this.”

Patchouli takes it and looks it over for a moment. “... ah, interesting find.”

“What is it?” Marisa asks, peeking over Patchouli's shoulder.

“The Lady's plans for Rokford,” You say, “It sounds like there was another agent at work here, but I'm not exactly sure. And it sounded like someone, somewhere was planning to make some serious trouble for the Empire. She thought that she wouldn't even need to deal with the army, because they'd be tied up elsewhere.”

Patchouli immediately flips to the back page, and begins reading.

Marisa sighs. “I bet that one woman is behind this.”

You... immediately know who she's talking about, but shake your head. “Makai wanted those souls for something. I can't piece everything together yet, but wouldn't having more souls make an assault easier for demons? I think she was probably working with whatever I ran into in the basement, at least in some way.”

“... yeah, good point,” Marisa frowns. “So we've got even more bad guys, only we don't know what they're going to do.”

Patchouli mutters something, and then stops looking at the paper. “This last passage is ambiguous, as you noted. Maybe our prisoner could enlighten us.”

“Might as well see if she'll offer it,” You say. “If not, I could probably come up with something tomorrow.”

“That may not be such a good idea,” Patchouli says, “With your contract broken as it was, the sister demons are free to harass you on any astral jaunts. At least, for a while.”

“... really,” You say, sighing, “Hum. Maybe it would be faster to head back to the capital, but I guess it's a stretch to call that fast..”

“Speaking of that,” Marisa says, “Some of the guys went down to the train station today, and it turns out there's actually a train still there. Kourin says they should have it working tomorrow, since I guess the vampires beat it up a bit.”

“The telegraphs working yet?”

She shakes her head. “We're not sure what's going on there.”

“Damn,” You say, “The thing that worries me is that it sounded like wherever this assault was going to happen, it would be soon. It's no good if we get to the Guild to figure out where, and it's already gone down. Oh, right!”

You remember the other bit of loot that you got, and pull out the book. From the book, you remove the circle. “Could we use this for anything? Maybe we could call the demon back and give it the what-for.”

Patchouli takes this, too, and carefully unfolds it. Then, she lets out a small laugh. “If this was the same circle you saw in the basement, certainly. Although, it may be a little complicated.”

“Still doesn't help us get it there any faster, though” You say, sighing. The gears in your head turn, trying to think of something you might need to ask for later.

[ ] Further questions? (write-in)
[ ] Continue.
===============================================
If I didn't cover something you wanted to know, do a write-in.
>> No. 34253
Let's see, we got possessed, drew some runes, then our possesser fled before we were recovered. Yeah, I got nothing.

[x] Continue.
>> No. 34255
[x] Continue.
>> No. 34256
[x] Continue

I kinda want some more exotic magic books, but it'd be a pain to go back there just for loot.
>> No. 34258
Got sidetracked. Consider saturday's update skipped. I'll have something tomorrow, and I'll be back to normal updates.
>> No. 34267
>>34258

Hooray!
>> No. 34269
I guess that "something" is not quite what you were looking for, though. I'm trying to come up with a way to make the space between point A and point B interesting, so I'm going to take a few days off to do some writing in my planning document, instead of the story document.

I should be good to go by Wednesday. Expect an update then. Sorry for the additional delay, but I think it's necessary.
>> No. 34287
As long as the story doesn't suffer, I guess you can take your time. We kind of finished an arc anyway, no?
>> No. 34297
[x] Didn't I break something...?
>> No. 34311
>>34297
Oh, right. Changing my vote to this:
[x] Didn't I break something...?
>> No. 34312
[X] Didn't I break something...?
>> No. 34323
[x] Continue.

“... well,” You continue, swinging your legs out of bed. You can worry about that in a little bit. “Let's go deal with Sakuya, shall we?”

“Very well,” Patchouli says, “Would you like my assistance again?”

“We might not need it,” You say, “She seems pretty... I don't know. Broken. Still, I guess you could come along.”

“What do you plan to do with her, anyway?” Marisa asks, “Bring her back to the capital to sit in prison for the rest of her life?”

“It's the Guild's decision, really,” You say, shrugging. “Who knows what they'll do?”

“Well, I'll let you guys take care of this,” Marisa says, “Since there's nothing to defend against any more, everyone's heading down to the local pub to get drunk.”

“You're just breaking in?” You laugh, imagining that sight.

“Nah,” She says, laughing with you, “The owner's been helping defend this place.”

“Maybe I'll join you guys later, then,” You say. Not the best option, certainly, but maybe lifting your spirits for a change would be good. After getting your shoes and coat on, you turn to Patchouli. “Let's go.”

“Certainly,” She says, “I'll be behind you.”

“Actually,” You say, “You lead. I don't know where I'm going.”

She seems to have the layout of this place down pretty well. Personally, you're not sure if you'd be able to make it back to the room you just left.

This place definitely seems more empty than it did this morning. More relaxed, too. You think you even catch a smile on one of the guard's faces as you pass through the main hall. A part of you wonders how many other people survived this. There's probably at least a few other pockets of resistance, like this one, scattered throughout the city.

It's going to take some serious effort to get this place back up and running, but you think they'll make it.

On the way, you remember something. Didn't something smash when you hit the ground, back in the mansion? You feel around the various pockets on that side of your coat, and find the culprit. Thankfully, it was nothing important or volatile. Just a small trinket you use sometimes.

“She's in here,” Patchouli finally says, coming to a stop in front of a door on the upper floor of the place. Not the same one as before, since you can see that one down the hall from here.

“We're coming in,” You say, after knocking on the door. Then, after a few moments pass, you open it.

The office itself is almost identical to the one that you had her in last night. They're probably all like this, you guess. Sakuya's sitting near the window, staring outside. It doesn't look like they bothered to tie her up or anything, and the door wasn't locked... there are a few koakuma guarding her, though. Patchouli must have figured that that was enough.

Sakuya doesn't turn to greet you or anything, and instead keeps staring out that window. You move closer, to try and see what she's looking at, but there isn't much out there. The sun has already set, but it's not quite dark yet.

Ah... actually, you do see some people leaving. And, that hat... that must be the group Marisa was talking about going with.

[ ] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate.”
[ ] “... I have a few questions.”
[ ] Write-in (Because I'm not sure if you want to take a different tone.)
>> No. 34324
[x] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate.”

I want to see angry, lively Sakuya, not broken and listless Sakuya.
>> No. 34326
>Just a small trinket you use sometimes.
Well, shit.

[x] “... I have a few questions.”
>> No. 34328
[x] “... I have a few questions.”

All business, all the time.
>> No. 34329
[ ] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate, and I have a few questions.”
>> No. 34330
[x] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate making it through this.”
>> No. 34349
>On the way, you remember something. Didn't something smash when you hit the ground, back in the mansion? You feel around the various pockets on that side of your coat, and find the culprit. Thankfully, it was nothing important or volatile. Just a small trinket you use sometimes.

The watch I guess.

[x] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate.”
>> No. 34356
Goddamn. The watch.
Goddamnit.

[x] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate making it through this.”
-[x] If trinket_broken=Watch
printf("Hey Sakuya, can you fix this?\nPlease?");
End if
>> No. 34359
[x] “... I have a few questions.”

>>34323
>lifting your spirits

I see what you did there.
>> No. 34361
[x] “... I have a few questions.”
>> No. 34367
[x] “They're headed to the bar to celebrate.”

“They're headed to the bar,” You say, commenting on the crowd. “There's a celebration tonight.”

“... hmm,” She says, not bothering to look back. “Celebrating their victory?”

“Celebrating being alive is more likely, I'd guess,” You say, shrugging. “Aside from Marisa, I don't think any of them knew what was going on. They just knew everything went to hell, and they needed to survive.”

Sakuya gives a small nod, still watching the crowd. “We hadn't delivered our announcement yet. What do they do?”

“What, at the bar?” You ask, not really understanding the question.

“Yes.”

“Get drunk,” You say with a laugh, “and do drunken things. Probably a lot of bad singing and cards, if this town's reputation holds.”

“I... see.”

Thinking about it, you realize that she's probably never even been to a good bar. How does one end up as a maid in a place like that, of all things? Well, maybe you'll ask later. It's going to be a long train ride back, whenever you decide to go.

There's a bit of silence, and it seems like no one has anything more to say, so you decide to move on to the next order of business. “Well, if you don't mind, there's a few things I'd like to ask you about the basement, and the Lady's plan in general. Oh, and... do you still have that circle, Patchouli?”

“No,” She says, “But I can reproduce it quickly.”

“Do that. Anyway,” You continue, “From what I found, it looks like the Lady was banking on an assault of some kind to distract the imperial army. Do you know anything about that?”

Sakuya turns, now. “Ah... then, you found that.”

“If by that you mean the rather beefy document in the second floor study, then yes,” You say, “What can you tell me about it?”

She gives an elegant, affirmative nod. “I suppose I can tell you. There's not much you can do, now. Soon, the capital will come under siege.”

You laugh. The thought is just insane. “Really. By who?”

“The forces of Makai,” She says, “And whoever else they manage to make a deal with. We were just one of many that took it.”

You think back to the document you found. Distractions. That... would explain all the youkai activity recently. Seems like everyone you knew was either off or going off on a mission of some kind before you left. Well, not quite, but it was the busiest you'd seen the place in a long while.

“So, you did this... as part of a mass baiting scheme?”

“The Lady did this because she thought it would be amusing,” Sakuya clarifies, “Agents from Makai just provided the idea, and the opportunity.”

“And the Barrier? Or even entering our realm?”

“They've found a way around all that,” Sakuya says, “Although I am not aware of the specifics.”

You pause, and let that idea sink in. In times of serious crisis, the imperial army has been known to leave the capital completely undefended. The Great Barrier is impenetrable. They only garrison in the city because it's convenient, not out of necessity. Even if they were inside the city walls, no one would expect an attack on the capital. The surprise element alone would be enough to turn it into a slaughter.

“This... is distressing,” Patchouli says, not sounding distressed at all. She also hands you a small copy of the circle you asked her to draw. “The Barrier should be perfect, but some have speculated that there must be a flaw somewhere. Here.”

You take the circle, and show it to Sakuya. “Does this look familiar?”

“Luize,” She says, almost immediately, “Our contact. Where did you find this?”

“During my search,” You say, leaving it vague. She probably doesn't need to know that you ended up possessed by the demon. “Anything else?”

“I wasn't a part of those meetings,” Sakuya says, “I have never even seen her.”

You bring your hand to your head. This whole thing is giving you a headache. Whatever this demon wanted with those souls, it can't be good. You were inches from giving a demonic army ten thousand human souls to toy with.

… but, that Yukari woman stopped you. Or had a hand in it, anyway, if you had to guess. Flandre was actually the one who broke the device, but she definitely wasn't acting on her own will. Then, that demon... probably tried to get her to do what it had you try to do. Sort of a salvage operation.

Sakuya remains silent, not really showing emotion one way or another. Does she even realize what all of this means? There are around a million people in Aegis. To think that she participated in this, in their deaths... it makes you angry.

[ ] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.
[ ] Yes, quite angry. What a terrible woman.
===============================================
Sorry for the delay. Yesterday seemed to be distraction day, so I was unable to finish it. I'll probably be distraction free for a while.

In case you're confused as to the vote choice, I called it at >>34349

Also, for anyone nervous about the trinket, it really isn't important at all. I thought it would add flavor, but I guess it only added worry. Nothing will come of it.

Also, Jack isn't in any sort of casting mode right now. He dropped his shield mage shtick back in the study, when he noticed the books of different schools. I'll try to be less subtle about that in the future.
>> No. 34368
[x] Yes, quite angry. What a terrible woman.

She has to have known what would happen. She must understand all the repercussions of the Ladies dealings with Makai. That she doesn't give a shit, and couldn't care less about the upcoming slaughter at the capitol is pretty terrible.
>> No. 34369
[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.

Yes, tell Sakuya exactly how bad her Lady was. That'll get a rise out of her.

pretty sure it won't win though
>> No. 34370
[x] Do you realize what this means?

If he doesn't really know something he just ask for it, no?
Also a diviner would be really useful right now...
>> No. 34371
You don't blame the dog, you blame its master. Though, the fact doesn't preclude you from putting it down if it becomes dangerous.

[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.
>> No. 34372
[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.
>> No. 34374
[+] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.
>> No. 34375
[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.
>> No. 34377
[x] Yes, quite angry. What a terrible woman.
>> No. 34380
[x] Yes, quite angry. What a terrible woman.
>> No. 34381
[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.
>> No. 34398
[x] But, she had no choice. The Lady is at fault here.

I'm actually hoping to recruit Sakuya to the party.
>> No. 34399
>>34398
See
>>34389
You are a little late to the party.