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29412 No. 29412
The reporter arrived at exactly two o'clock, slipping through the door in between the two strokes of the grandfather clock in the hallway. An extraordinary feat in a world where time is told primarily by the sun, but I knew better than to be too impressed; in all likelihood, she had sneaked into the mansion earlier in the day and passed the time by terrorizing the maids.

"Good morning, Miss Remilia," she said with a small bow, her professional air ruined by that ever-present reckless grin of hers.

"Aya! Come in, have a seat," I said. Before I could gesture to the chair across the table from mine, though, she was already in it, moving from the door across the room so fast that not even a blur was visible. "Don't mind if I do," she said, cocky grin growing even wider. I suppressed a small gasp; even if she wasn't here to fight, her speed was still frightening, in a way.

Or would have been, had I not known someone much faster. "Sakuya," I called quietly, and she was at my shoulder before I had finished speaking.

"My Lady."

"Black tea, please," I said, and she set the tray in her hands on the table soundlessly; two delicate teacups, already full, and a small china teapot. Across from me, Aya's eyes widened ever so slightly as she took one and brought it to her lips.

I didn't need to look up at Sakuya to let her know she had done a good job, but I did anyway. "Thank you, Sakuya."

"My Lady," she replied with a low bow, and I felt her disappear as soon as I looked away.

As soon as she was gone, Aya let out a low whistle. "Even if you know it's a trick, it's still impressive." She sighed into her tea, then tilted her head back and finished the cup in one unrefined gulp. "I guess I can't beat the mistress of a mansion after all. How scary," she said, the smile never leaving her face.

"Oh? But you weren't here to fight me, were you?"

"You're the one who called me. Maybe your plan all along was to lure me into a trap," she said without a hint of sarcasm, refilling her teacup. "Besides, fighting and reporting aren't so different, really." That cocky grin of hers widened again; it looked more like she was baring her teeth at me now. "Chase the other person into a corner, then hit them where they're not expecting it and take them out in a single strike."

I tried to affect a more proper, shocked expression, but found I couldn't stop my own face from twisting into a smile to match hers. "Such a violent interviewing technique. I wonder if I'll survive."

"Only one way to find out," Aya replied, drawing a small notebook and pen from her breast pocket.

"As you say," I said, lacing my fingers together over my mouth. "Where should I begin, then, Miss Interviewer?"

"It's your story. Start where you think it should start."

"But you're the writer."

"I've never written a memoir before. My instincts are all off." She shrugged. "But when you write a newspaper article, you start with the most interesting part."

"The most interesting? That still leaves me a few choices." I sat back in my chair, hands cupping the ends of the armrests. "No matter. I'll just start with the first one."

---

Continued in next post.

>> No. 29413
The year was 1760, the location was Versailles, France, and the aristocracy was doing what they've always done best: consuming conspicuously. The Third Estate languished, with those lucky enough to avoid being sent into Prussia and shot or sailed towards England and drowned simply left to starve in the streets, and we ignored them, holding sumptuous feasts and making huge donations to the fine arts (without any expectation of return, of course; noblesse oblige was a harsh mistress). Of course, it was all a sham, and had been for decades already; the court's move to Versailles had turned it from a serious political entity to a band of fools in splendid clothes, and the few remaining nobles old enough to remember a time before lèse majesté was a hanging offense saw this and urged their half-wit children and grandchildren to fight the centralization of French power, for their own sake. I saw it, too; after all, I had been alive longer than even the oldest of these nobles, and Henry XIV was not the first brilliant king I had sworn fealty to. I, however, was far more interested in seeing what would happen next than trying to interfere, and so I sang and danced with the rest of them, and quietly made my preparations for when the power of the high-born would be no more.

But I digress.

To be specific, the location was a masquerade ball held in the Château de Versailles itself. Having come to Gensokyo, I no longer have any need to conceal what I am, but in those days, there was no class of event more suited for someone of my unique physiology. Reducing the size of my wings magically wasn't a strain, but hiding them under a garment never failed to be troublesome; here, though, I did neither, and not an eyebrow was raised. On the contrary, the men went to great pains to compliment my costume, my demeanor, and anything else they could think of. Once the novelty of that wore off, they would offer to introduce me to the men and women behind the various masks, and if meeting so many new people proved to be too taxing, of course they would be happy to show me to a more private room where the two of us could relax for a moment.

Not that I hadn't done my own part to help them along. At the time, I was a novelty to them; a female noble not by marriage, but by sole ownership of a sizable plot of land, and just entering marriageable age. Of course, I wouldn't have wished for such a life, not at the cost of my poor, dear father dying without a male heir as he did, leaving his land and title to me, his sole descendant; and me, at such a young age and saddled with such a responsibility with no gentleman in my life to take care of the business affairs... or so went the story. Naturally, there was no such father; the land had been in my possession for a hundred years, and after each tragic death I staged to hide my unaging body, I would arrange for a new family to gain control of it, a family that just happened to have a young daughter in the very likeness of the dearly departed...

But, again, I digress.

It was at the ball that I first met her. My escort for the moment seemed somewhat displeased that the valerian root he had slipped into my drink when he thought I wasn't looking hadn't taken effect, but he hid it well as we moved on to the next group of dear friends I just had to meet.

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Viscountess Remilia Scarlet." I dutifully curtsied on cue and extended a hand, and the men bowed and kissed it as their wives clapped politely and glared daggers at their husbands.

Except one.

She was a small woman, not much taller than me, and quite frail-looking, with thin, bony hands that seemed almost too small for her formal gloves and a pale complexion that seemed almost unnatural. Her costume, too, was far from the norm; where the trend amongst the room favored bright, cheery pastels and ornate frills and ornaments, hers was a relatively simple black dress, draped with strips of fabric in somber blues and purples, and atop her head was a pointed, black witches' hat left completely unadorned, without so much as a silver buckle. Her most interesting feature, though, was her hair; long and straight, it fell to around her waist, colored a rich purple that only the rarest dyes produced, and even at an event like this, it drew stares as unusual.

And below it all, below the senses of humans, was the slow, rhythmic beat of her heart. In a room full of delicate women, hearts aflutter after hearing the latest gossip, and bashful young men, blood racing with excitement at the prospect of meeting the apple of their eye, she was a bass drum, keeping the beat of the room with her own unchanging pulse.

"A pleasure and an honor, Lady Scarlet." I took a breath in and forced myself to pay attention to the man in front of me, the girl's husband, as he took his turn greeting me.

"The honor is all mine," I said with another half-curtsy. "It is truly bad form to ask such a thing at a masquerade, but could I convince you to give me your name?"

He gave it, of course, along with his titles and family history, but I wasn't listening; even outside of the girl's strange features, there was something different about her, something that showed in her every action, something that marked her as someone interesting.

"And this is your wife?" I asked once the man had finally finished his spiel.

"Ah, no. We're just old friends who decided to attend a social affair together for once." Stepping aside, he bowed slightly and indicated her with a flourish of his hands. "Lady Scarlet, Baroness--"

"Patchouli Knowledge. Charmed." Even her voice was unique; a dry whisper, barely audible above the noise of the party, but still charged with meaning, each flattened syllable a testament to how she really felt about her current situation.

Yes, this was a rare find; I would have to enjoy this for as long as possible.

"Miss Patchouli, is it? I don't believe we've met before," I said, moving in closer to her to cut her companion out of the conversation.

"No, we haven't. And it's Miss Knowledge, if you please."

Speaking so bluntly to someone of a higher rank than her? Unthinkable! Did she simply have no idea of the rumors that would spread, of the impact this would have on her standing among the court? No, she knew; every individual tone spoke volumes to her disdain for me and my ilk.

And still that heartbeat, steady as ever; a complete opposite to her unhealthy appearance. I took a slow breath out, willing myself not to lick my lips. "Miss Knowledge? How interesting, that we would both have English surnames. Tell me, do you speak any English?" I asked, the last sentence itself in English; just the sort of mistake to be expected from the foolish aristocrat she imagined me to be.

Her reaction, though, was neither frustration nor amusement. "I do," she replied, in English colored only slightly by a French accent, "though my accent is more noticeable than yours. In fact," she continued, switching back to French with a bite in her voice, "your English has no French accent at all. Where did you learn it?" she snapped.

Such forceful words! Where did this sudden hostility come from? Even if I had given myself away somehow, most ladies of the court would be more likely to faint on the spot than to challenge me. Of course, her question did present a small dilemma; I had learned English fifty years earlier during a stay in England after one of my staged deaths, but that explanation wouldn't do. Instead, I decided to give her a small test. "My tutor is a truly gifted native speaker. He was born in one of Britain's American colonies and raised to speak both English and French, so--"

"And yet your accent is Mainland British, not Colonial American." As expected, she passed the test effortlessly, and as she took a single step to bring herself near me, her violet eyes locked with mine, I wondered what might be the most interesting answer to the question she was about to ask.

"Who are you?" she hissed. "What are you?"
>> No. 29415
[ ] "What am I? I am but a young girl, no different than you, am I not?"
[ ] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
[ ] "Are you prepared to hear the answer to that question? The night is far darker than you might imagine."
[ ] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."

---

So it's another CYOA. Trying something a bit different here; in case you hadn't noticed, you'll be playing as Remilia, recounting her past exploits to Ayaya. Specifically, you'll be going through the stories of how each of the iconic SDM characters ended up at the SDM one by one, with a time skip after each 'chapter'. Despite the use of the first person past, bad ends are possible; in fact, several of the bad ends are in fact 'time paradox ends', where one of the SDM cast other than Remilia ends up dying.

As always, write-ins and multi-voting are welcome unless expressly forbidden for a particular choice. Your creativity sustains me.

One important point is that there are no routes here; that is, I'm not planning on writing any H scenes and there probably won't be as much plot branching as in a normal CYOA. Of course, that doesn't restrict you from romancing to your heart's content (after all, what's a vampire without their sex symbolism?), but that's not intended to be the focus here.

Finally, I have no idea what the update schedule is going to be on this. Underground LA in /others/ is still my main project, and I do intend for this to be smaller than your average CYOA, so I may try to do weekly updates. On the other hand, I came up with the idea for this and wrote most of this first update while I was struggling with a ULA update, so I might end up using this as a form of procrastination.

Hope you enjoy this.
>> No. 29418
[ ] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
>> No. 29424
Oho, this looks interesting.

As for my vote:

[X] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
>> No. 29427
>after all, what's a vampire without their sex symbolism?

Somewhat original.
>> No. 29428
[x] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[x] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"

This is a masquerade, and considering our 'costumed' appearance, this is perfectly acceptable, and also more likely to draw a true answer from her.
>> No. 29430
[X] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"

I like the overall idea, let's see how the story pans out.
>> No. 29431
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29431
[x] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[x] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
Viscountess Remilia Scarlet, eh? I like.
>> No. 29432
[+] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
[+] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[+] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"

>This is a masquerade, and considering our 'costumed' appearance, this is perfectly acceptable, and also more likely to draw a true answer from her.
I like this reasoning. Patchouli obviously is quick on the draw; no sense beating around the bush with her. Still, I think the Romanian adds a nice touch.

So, a first-hand history of Remilia's past? So be it. I look forward to very interesting things. Liking it already.
>> No. 29433
>So, a first-hand history of Remilia's past? So be it. I look forward to very interesting things. Liking it already.

Owen said exactly what i thought when i read the footnote. Remilia is one of the more interesting characters and going through her past in flashbacks could turn out to be a very interesting CYOA.
Overall SDM has the more interesting Stories after all.

[x] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[x] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
>> No. 29434
[X] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[X] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
>> No. 29436
[x] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
[x] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[x] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"

I like this.
>> No. 29441
[x] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
[x] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[x] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
>> No. 29446
[~] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
[z] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[e] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"

Interesting.
>> No. 29471
[x] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
[x] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[x] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"
Oh my, I wonder why I stopped reading SDM. Well, not making that mistake again.
>> No. 29488
>>29428 here.

Amending:
[x] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
>> No. 29573
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29573
[X] Speak your answer in Romanian to illustrate the point.
[X] "A descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. One who walks the night and preys on humanity. A vampire."
[X] "I could ask you the same thing. In fact, I believe I will. What are you, Patchouli Knowledge?"

"Is it not obvious?" Even under that piercing gaze, I couldn't help but step closer, bringing us so near to each other that our foreheads were nearly touching. "I am a descendant of Vlad III Tepes, son of the Dragon. I walk the night, and humans are my prey." I gave her a practiced smile, the tips of my fangs hiding just out of sight. "I am strigoi."

"Vampire," she spat without hesitation. For just an instant, the gaze wavered, eyes widening, and she took a step back, eying the wings that, until a second ago, were probably nothing more than costume to her.

As she moved, I took a step closer, giving her a stare of my own. "Very good," I said, clapping inaudibly. "Both English and Romanian, is it?"

She didn't respond, but neither did she step back, and still came that heartbeat, as strong and punctual as the chimes of a clock. Even if she didn't speak, her eyes told the story; the fear was there, no matter how much she tried to hide it, and so was the disgust at the realization she was talking to what amounted, in her mind, to a corpse. There was a difference, though, as I had hoped there would be; something that set her apart from the others I had told in my lifetime. As she scanned my body up and down, I saw not the trained eye of a fighter, looking for a weak point, nor a wariness born of panic, poised to dodge the first attack; it was the curiosity of a scholar, memorizing and storing all it saw, with regard only for what was most interesting. Not that unlike my own, I suppose.

"What gave me away?" I asked, though I already knew the answer from the direction of her stare.

"Your wings... are real." It wasn't a response to my question so much as a statement all its own; she didn't look me in the eye when she spoke, keeping her gaze fixed over my shoulder at my wings. I gave them a small flutter for her benefit, and her mouth fell open slightly. And... a twitch from her right hand, a small, unconscious motion towards me that any other observer would have overlooked. I had seen movements like that before, but never in such a situation as this.

Still, I knew what that meant. "They are. And yet you were the only one to notice, weren't you?" I brought a hand up, ever so slowly, and placed it gently on her shoulder. She flinched away reflexively, but her eyes stayed fixed, moving neither to my face nor to my hand. I began to move both my hand and my body, stepping closer to her yet again as I traced my fingers along the folds of her costume. Standing on my toes, I brought my face to the side of hers, stroking her cheek, as she stood still, caught in her trance.

"Would you like to touch them?"

A slap. She didn't hit particularly hard, but the sound still carried through the room well, and the noise of the party dropped away as all eyes turned to look at the spectacle we had become. They saw what I saw; Patchouli, hand still extended, gasping as though I had tried to drown her, eyes now reflecting nothing but hatred as she stared down at me. I didn't make the mistake of touching my cheek or frowning; that would have just made it all the more obvious for onlookers what had happened. Instead, I smiled, as broadly as I could manage, and crossed the distance between us again, touching her upper arms lightly with my hands. She stiffened, trying to pull away, but to no avail; holding her in place didn't use even a fraction of my strength.

"Oh, Miss Knowledge!" I said brightly, and laughed a little too loudly, dropping my refined air for a moment. From the corner of my eye, I saw some of the spectators look away, but others continued to watch. "Smile," I said, lowering my voice, "or people will think you slapped me."

"You entranced me," she hissed, ignoring me and redoubling her efforts to pull herself away.

I sighed. It didn't look like she had any interest in playing the game of social status; a reasonable choice, to be sure, but that made it all the more difficult for those who did to interact with her. There was no question if I had to choose between her and playing with the rest of the nobility, I would choose her.

But playing with both at once would be just another challenge for me, wouldn't it? I smiled and tried to meet her eyes again, but she tilted her head away, staring at a point on my forehead, right between my eyebrows.

"I did no such thing, nor do I plan to," I said lightly, "so you are welcome to stop avoiding my gaze." Naturally, she made no move to do anything of the sort, so I continued. "On the contrary, you seemed to have entranced yourself quite effectively." I laughed again, for the benefit of the onlookers too far away to hear what I had said, and released my grip on her arms. "But for you to know the meaning of that word, and the power of my eyes..."

"That's not all I know, vampire." And for the first time since I had met her, she smiled; a tight-lipped sneer with the corners of her mouth angled up in grim amusement, a smile that covered her fear. "Flowing water and the light of the sun will repel you. Destruction of your grave will prevent you from regenerating your wounds. A stake of aspen wood will immobilize you." Even as her fingers shook, she stepped toward me, and our eyes finally locked. "And then I will cut off your head, burn your body, and scatter the ashes at a crossroads."

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes! It was exactly how it should be! She was beyond anything I had hoped for! Even if her only talent was her capacity for knowledge, her bravado alone was magnificent!

If it was like this, I could play to the best of my ability; use every trick in the book. "And you think that will harm me?" I said sweetly, closing the distance between us yet again to whisper in her ear. "You shouldn't believe everything you read."

She gasped, and I felt her tense to move away again, but this was a different tension than before. Suddenly, I heard her steady heart take a second beat, and she clapped a hand to her mouth, bending slightly at the waist and coughing wetly into her glove. Consumption? I looked around, searching for a path to exit the ballroom, and her companion brushed past me, appearing from nowhere to come to her side. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and whispered something in her ear to which she nodded, and the two of them made their way swiftly through the parting crowd. I considered following after them for a moment, but discarded the idea; she deserved a moment to recover after our last exchange, and if she really was as sick as she seemed, poor judgement could lead her to try to expose me. Instead, I sunk into the background as the couple disappeared from sight, and the nobles that had watched them go began to chatter amongst themselves as to exactly what had happened.

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 29574
Eventually, I reentered the foreground of the party, but going back to the vapid nobles after Patchouli left was like switching from wine to grape juice. Still, somebody had to perform social maintenance, and with her gone, I whisked my way around the room, joining each conversation long enough to assure everyone that no, we hadn't been fighting, and of course she didn't slap me. Not all of them would buy it, of course, but it was enough to keep the rumors small enough that they wouldn't affect her status.

I hadn't been going for more than half an hour, though, before I detected the smell of blood, wafting up the main staircase. A single human, freshly spilled, and a female; not Patchouli's, and I hadn't cared enough to remember the smell of any of the other partygoers. Of course, none of the humans noticed; it was at least a floor below us, and by the strength of the smell, the bleeding wound clearly wasn't too large. Still, I made sure to start pushing my way across the ballroom slowly, accidentally brushing shoulders with as many people as I could; even back then, experience had taught me that having an alibi is even more important when you're innocent. As I walked, I kept my head tilted towards the stair, and I didn't have to wait long before one of the young nobles came rushing up the stairs, white as a ghost.

"M-murder! There's been a murder downstairs!" he shouted, and the crowd reacted predictably; the half running away from the announcement ran into the half racing down the stairs to see the body, and the room collapsed into an immediate tumult. I stayed out of its way, leaning against the wall near a window and wearing a somewhat panicked expression, just in case anyone happened to look at me, and wondered what to do now that the party was over.

[ ] I was in no particular hurry to see a corpse; I left the palace without seeing the body.
[ ] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
[ ] I wanted the first look at the body; I jumped out the ballroom window to bypass the crowd.
[ ] The smell of blood had made me hungry; I waited until the crowd had thinned, then picked off one of the stragglers for a quick snack.
-[ ] Optional: Specify gender.
>> No. 29577
[x] I was in no particular hurry to see a corpse; I left the palace without seeing the body.
Bah, who cares about a statistic.
>> No. 29578
[x] I wanted the first look at the body; I jumped out the ballroom window to bypass the crowd.
Well, we've got an alibi already, and being first on the scene might give us more of a chance to learn about what happened.
>> No. 29579
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.

A whodunnit? Are you detective enough to solve the mystery?
>> No. 29580
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
>> No. 29583
[+] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.

She can smell blood from that far away? Most intriguing.
>> No. 29584
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
>> No. 29586
[X] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
>> No. 29587
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
>> No. 29592
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
[x] Gender: Male (i assume you refer to the corpse's gender?)
>> No. 29593
>>29592
No, I think the option's about the gender of the 'straggler' we attack if we pick the last choice.
>> No. 29599
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.

Supuh-spy
>> No. 29816
[x] I played my role as best as I could, writing an update for the crowd and following GM down the path to legends.
>> No. 29840
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.

>>29592
>>29593
Just in case;
[x] Female.
>> No. 29845
[x] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.
>> No. 29854
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29854
>>29593 has it right. Just for the record, I don't truck with this concept of voting on anything other than the protagonist's actions or character which seems to have popped up in a few otherwise good CYOAs.

---

[X] I played my role as best as I could, melting into the crowd and following the brave ones down the stairs to look.

Before long, the crowd had sorted itself out, with most of the nobles having found a corner to huddle in while they waited for the police to arrive. Under different circumstances, I might have joined them; no human murderer posed any thread to me, of course, but defending myself in public would raise some uncomfortable questions. This time, however, I decided to examine the scene of the crime myself, reasoning that no sane criminal would try to strike twice at an event with this many people present.

The trip down the stairs was slow and uneventful; the whispers of the crowd told me that the corpse was lying at the foot of the staircase, and a macabre gapers' block slowed me to a near-halt. Even after I finally reached the bottom, there was little improvement; for all my many good qualities, my height is not one of them, and the crowd completely occluded the scene from all angles. I considered simply pushing my way through, but decided against it; I was still playing the status game, and it wouldn't do for a young lady to be so interested in such a violent spectacle.

After five minutes of standing on my toes in futility, though, I had had enough. I tugged on the sleeve of the man ahead of me, and he glanced down for a moment. Before he could look away, I trapped him, pushing enough magical energy into my gaze to prevent him from moving. He turned his whole body to face mine, eyes glazing over slightly. After allowing a moment for the connection to take hold, I gave him my command.

"Make way."

He turned without another word and started moving forward through the crowd, pushing past anyone in his way with a mumbled "'scuse me". I followed in his wake, folding in my wings to fit through the tunnel left behind by his passing. As I went, I recalled Patchouli's accusations, and couldn't help but chuckle to myself; she was a fool if she thought she could have broken free if I had entranced her.

The crime scene came into view in short order, and my temporary servant turned to me for further instructions. "Thank you. That will be all," I said, patting his arm lightly and breaking the connection between us. His eyes refocused, and he shook his head slightly, as though to clear it. "My pleasure," he said vaguely, and wandered back to where he had been standing, presumably trying to figure out what he had just been thanked for.

That taken care of, I returned my attention to the matter at hand. The body lay at the foot of the stairs, head turned to the side and sprawled out on its back. It could have been mistaken for someone who had drank too much and decided to take a nap on the floor, if not for the blood pooling around its head. A discarded mask, presumably belonging to the victim, sat a few feet away, but there were no signs that a struggle had taken place. Had the killer simply sneaked up behind her and stabbed her?

For that matter, how had she died? I walked around the circle of onlookers, searching for the actual wound. Her head itself seemed to be fine, so it must not have been a blunt weapon; nothing on her face; was her costume--

And then I saw it. The wound. It was easy to miss; so small that it was hard to believe that even this amount of blood had come from it. And it was well concealed, too; with her head turned the way it was, her neck rested nearly flat against the floor. If I was correct in assuming nobody had moved her, then it was likely that nobody else had seen it yet. I turned to leave immediately, no longer caring who I pushed out of the way. True, I had an alibi, but it wouldn't be long before the police came and started taking note of who was here, and I didn't want to be here when that happened.

Not looking like I did, with my wings exposed, and not with a dead body with two neat little holes in its neck, right over the jugular vein.

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 29855
The funeral was on Sunday, and I attended it. I hadn't known the deceased, of course, and had no particular interest in the religion of the era, so there was little for me to do but stand around and look solemn. Still, it seemed appropriate, in light of what I was about to do.

'What I was about to do' came later, a few hours after the interment, when even the family had left to mourn in private. The sun was still up, thankfully, and the gravestones cast long shadows across the ground as I came to the doors of the mausoleum. The only lock was a simple chain with a padlock, and I didn't bother with ripping it off before opening the door and stepping inside.

The tomb already had that unique smell of the home of a dead body; the heavy smell of wet earth mixed with a little something extra. Then again, maybe it was just my imagination; this body wasn't going to be decomposing very quickly, after all. I moved to the side, allowing the fading light of the sun to shine onto the coffin, and stepped forward. The coffin was unsealed and swung open easily without creaking.

The body had scarcely changed at all from the night of the party; they had scrubbed away the blood, of course, but the hair and clothing were largely unchanged. I reached a hand out to its chin, pulling the head to one side, and confirmed once more what I already knew; the bite had neither healed nor festered, remaining as two circular puncture wounds. I felt along the vein for a pulse, but found none.

It was as I had feared. She had turned incompletely, becoming something neither human nor vampire; a thrall capable only of serving the vampire that had created her. At this point, the thing before me was little more than an automaton, a soulless machine for its sire to program.

The same sire who had killed a human in public, draining her of far more blood than was needed for a meal, and who, by the looks of it, had wanted a slave to make more attacks. He would have to be dealt with too, in time; until I discovered his identity, though, I could only counter his efforts. Reaching into my clothing, I removed the tools I had brought with me, a simple wooden stake and a plain hammer, and laid them by the side of the coffin. Clasping my hands, I began to speak a small prayer. It didn't have any particular effect that I knew of, but it never hurt to be thorough. Besides, surely the family would be glad to know someone was praying over their dead, even if it was one of the undead.

"Otĭče našĭ iže jesi na nebesĭchǔ. Da svętitǔ sę imę tvoje, da priide--"

"An incantation, vampire?"

The voice was unmistakable. I spun around to face Patchouli Knowledge, trying not to betray my surprise with my expression. How had she gotten this far without me noticing? Had I been that wrapped up in my task? "I see your mastery of languages doesn't extend to Church Slavonic," I said glibly, mind racing.

My cover didn't hold up against her, though. "I have my own methods of tricking your kind," she said, lips curving up for an instant before returning to their default frown. "Now, you will tell me everything," she said, hefting a weapon to her chest and...

...was that a crossbow? I had to stifle a giggle, despite the gravity of the situation. "Or you'll shoot?" I asked, shifting to lean against the casket. "You don't expect that relic of antiquity to work against me, do you?" I eyed her up and down lazily. Apart from the crossbow, I spotted a few poorly concealed knives; probably silver, by their sheen, but nothing particularly dangerous to me. More worrying was the level of magic I sensed; I couldn't determine its function without a more taxing examination, but all the weapons were covered in enchantments of a higher level than most magical items I had seen. It seemed Lady Knowledge knew of some very interesting things indeed.

"Pride goeth before destruction, vampire," she spat, and took a step forward. "You were there after I left. You had the opportunity to attack her." Her words were true, but there was something behind them, a mote of insecurity, a waver at the word 'opportunity'.

And I had a good idea of what had caused it. "But something's wrong, isn't it?" She took in a breath, and I knew I had hit the target.

"You asked around as to my whereabouts, and you found that I was in the ballroom the entire time." As I spoke, she lowered the crossbow slightly, devoting all her faculties to listening to me. "Even so, you were prepared to disregard it as some sort of infernal magic, and condemn me despite the evidence." I took a step away from the coffin and gestured at the stake and hammer I had left there. "But you see now that I came here to do the same thing that you intended to do, and your confidence in your conclusion has..." I took step towards her, and let the silence hang in the air for a moment before continuing. "...wavered." I grinned; a full one this time, leaving my fangs in plain sight. "Isn't that right?"

Patchouli stood dumbstruck at my monologue, weapon dangling limply from her hands. "You..." In an instant, her confusion turned to rage, and she leveled the crossbow at me again, fire in her gaze. "Lies!" She took another step towards me, and her finger twitched on the trigger. "You turned that girl!"

[ ] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
[ ] "And suppose that I did? Do you really intend to fight me?"
[ ] "That's right, and now I've been caught by the daring vampire hunter. Shall I tell you how I did it?"
>> No. 29856
[x] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
No sense walking out of this place covered in arrow punctures.
>> No. 29857
[x] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29858
[ ] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29860
[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29861
[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29862
[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29863
[+] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"

Another vampire besides Remilia.
Versailles, France.
France = French maids.

Sakuya Brando.

I’ll just let that red herring swim around in your mind for a while.
>> No. 29865
[x] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29866
[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29867
[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29868
[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"
>> No. 29869
[x] "That's right, and now I've been caught by the daring vampire hunter. Shall I tell you how I did it?"

Pissing against the tide.
>> No. 29870
[x] "Child, real vampires aren't the kinds of thing you'll be able to understand fully through amassing folklore and superstition, which is half the reason I expect you're here right now. Now shut up now and let me pray."
[x] "'The just man, though he die early, shall be at rest.
"'For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years;
"'Rather, understanding is the hoary crown of men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.
"'She who pleased God was loved; she who lived amongst sinners was transported--
"'Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert the mind or deceit beguile the soul.
"'For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right, and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind.
"'Having become perfect in a short while, she reached the fullness of a short career;
"'For her soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore He sped her out of the midst of wickedness.
"'But the people saw and they did not understand, nor did they take these words into account.
"'Those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with Him in love: Because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with the elect.
"'Yes the just man dead condemns the sinful who live, and youth swiftly completed condemns the many years of the wicked man grown old.
"'For they see the death of the wise man and do not understand what the Lord intended for him.'
"For these, and all of our failings, O Lord, your forgiveness we pray: In nomine Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen."

Wisdom of Solomon 4:1-11. In a language she can understand this time.
>> No. 29874
File 124561373760.jpg - (58.46KB , 609x466 , Sakuya Belmont.jpg ) [iqdb]
29874
>>29863

But everyone knows her last name is Belmont.
>> No. 29875
>>29874

"Belmont" was her mother's maiden name.
>> No. 29898
[ze] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"

Kind of wanting to vote for >>29870 as well, though.
>> No. 29899
>>29870

This
>> No. 29971
Aww, dead so soon, I rather liked this one.
>> No. 29972
>>29971
You don't read Glasnost's other story, do you?

Give him a month or two, he'll update again.
>> No. 29973
File 124633254569.jpg - (403.67KB , 696x1015 , 4.jpg ) [iqdb]
29973
>>29972
It hurts because it's true. Although in all fairness, I've never left you all hanging for an entire month. One problem, especially for a story in a historical setting like this, is that I get caught up in ridiculously trivial details. I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to conjugate Ottoman Turkish verbs before considering the fact that nobody's going to be able to tell the difference anyway.

---

[X] "You already know that's not true. Will you shoot me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"

"You already know that's not true," I said, stepping back over to the coffin. "There is another vampire, one that has just become active. Neither of us know who it is, but we both intend to fight it. It seems to me that there is a potential for collaboration here." I grinned. "Or are you going to kill me to make yourself feel better about not being able to find the real culprit?"

"Who said I need a reason to kill you, abomination?" she spat, tucking the bow to her shoulder and looking down it at me. I dropped my grin and tensed, readying myself to dodge; I hadn't read her as the type to make rash decisions, but she seemed serious enough now. Had I pushed her too far already?

We stared each other down for another moment before she looked away suddenly, lowering her weapon and pinching the bridge of her nose. "All this physical activity is bad for my temperament," she muttered to herself, stepping back towards the door. "Come out, you two," she called out into the twilight. "There's no fighting to be done."

And two men stepped into the room out of thin air.

No, that's not right; they came in through the door, but from where? Less than a second ago, I couldn't hear their hearts, couldn't smell their blood, but they must have been waiting right outside the door. Had I really just not noticed them? No, even now, with their bodies in plain sight, none of my senses seemed to work right on them; it was as though they were behind an invisible barrier. So was Patchouli, for that matter; it must have been how she managed to sneak up on me. So this was the level of their magic?

"Lady Scarlet! So you really are..." The older of the two men stepped towards me, gushing with excitement as... oh, it was him. The companion from the party. What was his name again? Oh well, it didn't really matter.

And it really didn't; he seemed more than content with just staring at me, wide-eyed. Even with my wings hidden, he clearly realized I wasn't human, and his response was something close to awe. Frowning, I looked over his shoulder at Patchouli. "And these gentlemen are...?"

"Michel, don't look in her eyes," Patchouli called sharply, tightening her grip on her weapon.

"He ain't," the shorter man, still standing next to Patchouli, said with a snicker.

That seemed to snap the gawker out of it, and he blinked and took a step back. "Pardon me, Lady Scarlet. We are--"

"We are running out of daylight," Patchouli interrupted. "Introductions can come later. Henri, go." She gestured at the man next to her, who nodded and stepped past his companion and me to the coffin, setting his crossbow on the floor and pulling a wooden stake and hammer from his cloak not unlike the one I had prepared. Patchouli moved after him, taking one of the silver knives in her hand and moving around to the opposite side of the coffin. The third member of the group took up a position at the head, laying his hands on the table, one on either side of the coffin.

I stepped away without being asked, allowing what little sunlight remained from outside to shine on the three of them. I had some doubts about allowing them to handle this, but they seemed to have some idea of what they were doing, and watching them would tell me something about who they were.

Or at least, I hoped they had some idea of what they were doing. Once they got into place, though, they just looked at each other for a for seconds, as though silently deciding who would be the first to move. The winner was apparently Patchouli, as she took the dagger in her hand and began carving something into the wood of the coffin in hurried strokes. As she did, the man at the head of the coffin began mumbling something, too quietly for me to make out. A prayer or an incantation? Either way, the two of them had no sooner started than I felt the unrefined power gather around them as they shaped their magic. Meanwhile, the third man prepared the stake, ripping the vampire's clothes aside immodestly to give himself access to the area above its heart and positioning the stake and hammer.

The three of them stayed like that for a few minutes as the sun continued to dip perilously low, and I watched the magic as it coalesced around the coffin. A... binding spell on the vampire? That was the basis, at least, but there were layers on top of it that I couldn't understand, and then more layers on top of those. It was more careful than I would have been about it, but they were humans, after all. More than anything, I was certain now; the fact that magic itself allowed me to exist gave me some skill with understanding the magic of others, but these three were far more skillful than me. I let my mind wander to thoughts of a battle, maybe with Patchouli, or even all three of them at once... could I win? I could hardly say I cared; just the thought of such a thing was exciting enough to push thoughts of my own safety out of my mind.

I came back to the real world as the activity of the group ceased, and they shared a glance with each other once again. Patchouli nodded, and the man with the hammer raised it above his head, bringing it down in a wide arc to collide with the stake--

"Eeaaaaaagh!" The vampire let out an earsplitting wail as the stake traveled through its heart in a single blow, pinning it to its coffin. Its eyes, open wide, were so bloodshot that they seemed completely red, and it reached out with clawed hands towards the people surrounding it.

Or, at least, it tried. As it moved, I felt the power of the binding spell spike, and the creature's arms were forced back to its sides, as though tied there by an invisible force. It increased its gyrations, thrashing its shoulders back and forth, but to no avail; it couldn't break the plane of the coffin, no matter the effort.

But the vampire's effort was only nullified by more effort from Patchouli. She had remained in the same position since the ritual had began; hands pressed flat against the table, eyes closed, and I saw beads of sweat form on her forehead as she pushed power into the binding spell. As she silently struggled, the other man took a silver knife in his hand, moving up to the vampire's head to finish the job. With a single thrust, he pierced her throat, and the screams died, replaced by a wet gurgling. The vampire continued to fight, though, screaming silently as it raged against the magic constraining it. The man withdrew the dagger and swung it down again when--

Something snapped. It was only for an instant, but the magic holding the creature broke. It capitalized on its freedom faster than any human was capable of moving, ripping itself free of the stake with a wet plop and knocking aside the dagger moving towards it. In the same motion, it swiped a clawed hand at the man holding it, sending him flying backwards with a splash of red. I ran towards it, ready to tackle it before it got anyone else, but I was too slow; it turned on Patchouli, whose eyes had shot open when the spell broke, and lunged.

"Stop!" the man at the head of the coffin screamed, brandishing a small stone in his hands, and the vampire's movements froze in midair as another burst of magic, about as strong as the original binding spell, bound it where it stood. Patchouli stared at it in midair for just as instant as it hung, straining futilely against its invisible bonds to reach her, then pointed a single finger at its chest and closed her eyes again.

"δύναμη."

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 29975
The monster's chest exploded in a rain of blood, the hole from its staking growing to cover its entire upper body as it flew backwards, slamming against the door. That still wasn't enough, though; I could hear its gurgling from the wound on its throat, and before anyone could attack it again, it pounced on the nearest prey: the body of the man who had staked it, still lying on the floor. I rushed to put myself between them, but it was already there, fanged mouth opened wide and ready to--

"DIE!" He... wasn't dead. Kicking at the vampire with both legs while still on his back, the man on the ground lunged backwards, grabbing his crossbow from where he had left it on the floor and firing without taking time to aim. The shot missed wide, but it didn't matter; as the vampire pushed the man's legs aside, the crossbow bolt curved in midair, coming back around to strike its target in the left shoulder, flinging it back against the wall again. It let out a low-pitched, gurgling cry, clawing at the bolt pinning it to the wall.

That was all the time I needed. Taking my own stake from the table in both hands, I jumped over the man on the ground in a single leap and, with all the force I could muster, shoved it through the vampire's forehead. There was no dying wail this time, just a sudden silence, and I kept pushing until I could feel myself hitting the stone of the mausoleum walls. I stopped, taking a moment to be sure, but there was no sign of movement; it was just a corpse hanging from a wall now. Except...

There. Ever so faintly, that gurgling sound, coming from the hole in the vampire's throat. Its chest, a ruined mess of meat, didn't move as it tried in vain to breathe, but I could see the muscles in its throat working, still trying to scream without vocal cords or a brain stem.

What... was this? For a newborn vampire to be this powerful... just who was its sire? Was he still passing energy to it somehow, even now? Or was he simply so powerful that his spawn have this kind of regenerative capabilities from birth? This was... terrifying.

Either way, I had to put an end to it, before it could heal itself enough to start fighting again. Grabbing the stake in the vampire's head with a hand, I readied enough magic for a simple spell and cast it with a single word.

".اﺣﺘﺮاق"

---

The flames spread quickly, and the whole body was consumed before too long, the foul smoke pouring out into what was now night. The four of us watched for a while, not moving from our positions, before a cough from Patchouli brought us back to reality.

"Let's move outside," the taller man -- Michel, was it? -- suggested, putting an arm over Patchouli's shoulders as he had that night at the party and leading her around the coffin and out the door. The shorter man nodded, and the four of us moved out into the graveyard.

"Is it--" Patchouli began, looking at me, only to be cut off by a series of wet, hacking coughs that forced her to the ground, clutching her chest.

"Is it dead?" the shorter man finished for her, sitting on the ground with his back against the mausoleum, crossbow at his side. I had seen him hit by the vampire, but he didn't seem to be injured now, and I couldn't smell any blood on him. Magical healing, or a barrier of some sort?

"Yes," I answered, looking up as the smoke from the corpse drifted into the night sky. "Definitely."

"Close--" Patchouli choked out, gasping for air. "Close the door. Smother the flames before the smoke attracts someone."

She had a good point. The chains on the door were already destroyed, but I swung the door shut and bent the handle in, forcing the metal through the door frame. It wasn't pretty, but it would serve to keep people out unless they broke down the door. With luck, nobody would ever set foot in this building again.

"That was fucked up," the shorter man said from behind me as the door slammed, slumping against the building.

"There are ladies present, Henri," Michel chided.

"That doesn't make it any less fucked up," he replied bluntly.

"We need to leave." Patchouli had apparently recovered, standing back up and speaking clearly. "Even with the smoke stopped, the authorities may have already been notified."

"So you're leaving me behind already? I don't even know your companions yet." I smirked. "Nor do I really know you, it seems."

"Don't follow us," she said sharply, glaring at me.

"Now, Patchouli, there's no need to be so cold," Michel said, turning to me. "Lady Scarlet, I'm afraid we must be going. Would you like to accompany us back to our... ah, headquarters for the moment to continue our discussion?"

[ ] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[ ] I declined his offer, inviting them back to my house instead. I didn't want to enter their home unprepared.
[ ] I declined his offer. I had other plans for the night; it was enough that they weren't going to get in the way of my investigations. (Write-in other plans)

And if you decide to go with them:

[ ] Write-in for what to talk about on the way, if anything.

---

I still feel like my fight scenes are somewhat lacking, and would welcome Anon's opinions and advice.
>> No. 29976
I was literally biting my nails during the fight scene.

Probably out of habit more than nervousness, but all the same, now you can claim it's just that good.

I liked it, though.
>> No. 29977
[x] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.

Yes, it could be a trap. No, Remilia wouldn't care if it were.

>[ ] Write-in for what to talk about on the way, if anything.

[x] Share anecdotes on fighting vampires... and vampire hunters.
>> No. 29978
[B] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
>> No. 29980
[x] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.

[x] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.

I liked the fight scene.
>> No. 29981
[x] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.

[x] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.
>> No. 29982
[x] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[x] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.
>> No. 29984
[x] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[x] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.
>> No. 29994
[x] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[x] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.
>> No. 30029
[O] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[O] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.
>> No. 30066
[ ] I declined his offer. I had other plans for the night; it was enough that they weren't going to get in the way of my investigations. I need to check on Flandre.
>> No. 30082
>>30066

FFFFFFFFFFF
Changing vote:

[x] I declined his offer. I had other plans for the night; it was enough that they weren't going to get in the way of my investigations. I need to check on Flandre.
>> No. 30083
[x] I declined his offer. I had other plans for the night; it was enough that they weren't going to get in the way of my investigations. I need to check on Flandre.
>> No. 30099
Flan hasn't even been mentioned, I don't think we need to worry about her yet.
>> No. 30101
[x] I declined his offer. I had other plans for the night; it was enough that they weren't going to get in the way of my investigations. I need to check on Flandre.
>> No. 30102
goddammit we don't have a little sister yet you spastics

who do you think is spawning these vampires?
>> No. 30105
[X] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[X] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires.

Uh, guys, this thing moves in "chapters," one for each character. Says so right at the end of the first post. This is Patchy's chapter - Flan comes in later, and given her nature, I wouldn't be surprised if she were saved for the finale.

No Flan yet. Her chapter will come.
>> No. 30322
File 124728180696.jpg - (561.93KB , 2645x2300 , 5.jpg ) [iqdb]
30322
>>30105 got the basics right; voting for interaction with Flandre is unlikely to be successful until the last chapter.

---

[X] I accepted his offer. I wanted to know more about them, after all, and seeing their headquarters was a good first step.
[X] Offer to share anecdotes on fighting vampires

"I would be delighted to," I said with a winning smile toward Patchouli, which she returned with a glare and a muttered curse. Oddly enough, though, she kept her objections to herself. Perhaps she didn't have the authority to argue Michel's decisions? The matter required further observation, and that was what I intended to do.

"Excellent!" Michel was almost comically overjoyed at my acceptance, clasping his hands together and nearly bouncing in place. "We'll head there right away!"

"We--" Patchouli interjected, raising her voice to a shout before catching herself. She remained silent for a moment, biting her lip as she thought over her words, and when she spoke again, it was in measured tones. "Not only are we to take this vampire at its word that it means us no harm, but we are to lead it to the location of all our defenses against it?"

"I don't get it." The other man, Henri, spoke up, standing from his position against the wall of the mausoleum. "You're the one who figured out that she couldn't have bitten the girl, and you saw what just happened in there. Why are you--"

"You'll forgive me if I don't rush to believe everything I see around a being capable of instantaneous magical illusions," she said sharply. "Besides, we know now that there's another vampire. Who's to say were's not being used as pawns in some perverse competition?"

"Lex parsimoniae, Patchouli," Michel said quietly, clearly reluctant to enter the argument. "You're bending the facts to suit your theory."

"This isn't a hypothetical situation, Michel!" Patchouli yelled, growing agitated. "We are her prey! Vampires survive by attacking humans!"

"And?" I asked, all heads turning to me as I finally entered the conversation. "Yes, I can sustain myself only through human blood, but I need not kill my host in order to feed. I have less reason to kill for my food than you do."

Patchouli's eyes widened slightly; the idea was clearly new to her. Not that surprising, considering where her education on vampirism must have come from; the old books were always couched in religion and would go to any length to malign its supposed enemies. I wouldn't have been surprised if she thought that I ate souls.

"And I'm to take your word as solemn truth?" she asked warily.

"I can show you firsthand if you'd like," I said, grinning wide enough to show my fangs.

My attempt at humor went unappreciated, though, and she scowled, backing away and shifting her crossbow in her hands, keeping it ready to fire while not actually pointing it at me. "Very well. I'll accept your presence on the condition that I will shoot you if I think you're going to attack someone."

"Patchouli!" Michel began, stricken, but I cut him off.

"A friend at gunpoint is a friend indeed," I said cheerfully. "I'll accept your condition, but only with one of my own."

"And that is?"

"Stop referring to me as 'it'. I think I qualify as a sapient being under any definition."

She lowered her bow for a moment, taken aback. "...I'll accept your condition," she finally managed. "...My apologies," she added, almost too quietly to be heard.

"Well, then, we're all set!" I said brightly, turning back to Michel. "Lead the way, if you would be so kind."

And the four of us went, winding our way through the streets of Versailles. In comparison, we must have looked rather strange; the sun had set, and it was time for respectable gentlemen and ladies to be back at home, reading the Bible to themselves with a nightcap of mineral water. Naturally, the streets were, if anything, getting more crowded as the less-than-respectable made their way out into the flickering light of the street lamps.

"Your technique in dealing with vampires is quite well-refined," I said, by way of conversation, as we walked. "Have you had experience fighting them before?"

Michel shook his head. "All that we know of the subject comes from books. We'd all be grateful if you could share your experiences with us."

"I have little more experience than you, I'm afraid." That was the truth; knowledge of my own capabilities, gained through years of withstanding the attacks of others, gave me some understanding of vampire physiology, but it was rare that vampires fought each other to the death, and I had only killed one other of my kind. "And more of it comes from fighting against vampire hunters than does from fighting alongside them."

"How pleasant," Patchouli said in a deadpan from behind me. "Perhaps you can tell us where we stand to improve."

"You should have staked the head properly first," I said, ignoring her sarcasm. "A vampire without a brain loses its body's faculties. It can still move and sense things through magic alone, but it becomes much less of a threat. For a young vampire like that, it would have taken minutes to reconstitute itself."

"That can't be true." Her voice wasn't angry anymore; she was simply stating a fact. "If vampires relied on their organs for anything, then destroying their heart alone would kill them completely. Besides, the heart is the center of a vampire's regenerative capabilities. Destroy that and it can be harmed as easily as a human."

"Not so," I said, taking a small amount of pleasure from contradicting her. "Both the heart and the brain can control regeneration. A skilled vampire can use both at once on a conscious level to halve the amount of time it takes to recover from wounds, if they're both intact."

"That goes against all the research--"

"Not all the research is correct. Omissions and errors are made occasionally, are they not?" I laughed. "Especially when dealing with live and unwilling research subjects."

"If what you're saying is true," Patchouli said, frowning, "then there must be a strictly magical link between a vampire's extrasensory magic and its sensory organs." She brought a hand to her chin, deep in thought. "An anti-magic weapon capable of destroying that link -- no, altering it to produce false information! Even if its magical signature is highly individualized, unlikely as that may be, a scan capable of distinguishing the link based on prana usage -- it wouldn't even need a material component, with such a low energy intake, and..." Her voice trailed off into excited murmurs to herself. Just as well; I had lost her somewhere around 'magical signature' anyway.

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 30323
Before long, we arrived at what I took to be the entrance to the headquarters; a nondescript wooden door, at the bottom of a set of stairs in an alley of a side street. There was no keyhole in the door, but as we approached, I heard the sound of a heavy deadbolt opening, and the door swung open of its own accord before we reached it. "Lady Scarlet," Michel said with a flourish, holding the door open, "the headquarters of the Scarlet Veil."

The room looked more like an eccentric gentleman's private study than anything else. A floor of worked stone replaced the usual hardwood, and the only light came from the door we had just opened, but ahead of me were a set of plush easy chairs and a small table littered with books. All that was missing was a fireplace and a tea set to... no, that was there too, sitting on a smaller table against the back wall along with a small brazier.

To the right-hand side of the room were several shelves, about as tall as a man, crammed so full of books that it looked as though a careless touch could cause one to shoot out of the bookcase from the pressure. I couldn't read their titles from here, but I could sense their magic; at least a few of them must have been grimoires, books with enough magical energy to be considered magical items in their own right.

The power I sensed from them, however, was easily overwhelmed by the object on the opposite side of the room. Or, more appropriately, the objects; they seemed to be jewels, an array of about twenty crystals set in a geometric pattern into a simple piece of wood. I didn't recognize the particular pattern, but it was clearly a magic circle of some kind, and the crystals were responding to it, so full of energy that they glowed softly in the darkness.

"Ah!" Michel gasped suddenly, as though remembering something, after I had spent a moment surveying the room with stepping inside. "Please, come in!"

I held in a snicker. "That's very kind of you, but no vampire of any respectable age is bound by that taboo," I said, crossing the threshold and entering the room.

[ ] I went to the books first. I'm no magician, but all that knowledge in one place would attract anyone.
[ ] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
[ ] I went to the jewels first. A magical artifact with that much power was a once-in-a-lifetime find.
>> No. 30324
[O] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
>> No. 30325
[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
>> No. 30326
>"Ah!" Michel gasped suddenly, as though remembering something, after I had spent a moment surveying the room with stepping inside. "Please, come in!"

Cute.

[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.

We're a guest here, even if the place likely is named after the most notorious active vampire in the area.
>> No. 30334
[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
>> No. 30336
[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.

>>30326
The notorious Viscountess Remilia Scarlet? I doubt it.
>> No. 30337
{X} I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
>> No. 30338
[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.

Those jewels though.. hrmm...
>> No. 30357
[x] Tea time.
>> No. 30359
[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
>> No. 30399
[x] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.
>> No. 30580
updates?
>> No. 30585
File 124816159920.jpg - (315.12KB , 600x800 , 6.jpg ) [iqdb]
30585
[X] I went to the tea set first. If there was going to be serious discussion, I wanted it to be over tea.

I crossed between the bookshelves and the chairs to the back table, moving towards the tea set. As interesting as the rest of the room was, it was only a matter of time before we got down to business, and I intended to make the tea we had myself. The fashion among the nobles of late had been to pour the hot water before it reached a full boil and to measure the steeping time with an egg timer, with the end result being a flavorless, lukewarm swill that barely earned the right to be called tea.

Despite my desires, Michel made it to the back of the room before me and waved me away, filling the kettle with water. "You're a guest here, Lady Scarlet. Please, have a seat, and I'll take care of this."

"Nonsense," I said, snatching away a container of black tea before he could take it. As far as I could tell, he was exactly the type of person I didn't want doing this. "After what we've been through together, we're practically like friends already, are we not?"

But I was thwarted again as he grabbed the teapot itself. "Be that as it may, I would be remiss to force a lady to perform unnecessary work," he said with a polite smile that I'm sure he thought was charming. "Please, allow me."

This required drastic measures. "Ah, I don't intend to be a bother," I said in a small voice, looking away. "It's just that I have certain..." I paused for a moment, mouth open as though searching for the right word, allowing him a good look at my fangs and time to draw his own conclusions, whatever they may be. "...special tastes, as it were."

The only 'special taste' I had was one for strong tea, but he bought into my act. "Ah, of course, if you'd like to help, be my guest!" he blustered, avoiding eye contact as he passed the teapot back to me. I accepted it with a smile, measuring the tea into the teapot with a small spoon. Oddly enough, the water in the kettle had already boiled -- magical alterations to the brazier? -- and I filled the teapot.

"How manipulative." Patchouli's voice came from behind me, quiet enough that only I could hear. "Be careful not to add too much poison, or you'll get sick when you feed on them."

I turned to face her with an oblivious smile. "Would you like any sugar in your tea, Lady Knowledge?" I asked.

"I drink coffee." She took a container of beans from the table, poured them into a small mortar and pestle, and began grinding. "Don't worry," she said with a smile so small that it was nearly nonexistent. "I'm far too sickly to need poisoning."

"Baseless suspicions give you wrinkles, you know," I said with a frown, making a point of turning away from her and back to Michel. "This is quite a cozy area, isn't it?" I praised, looking out towards the room.

"We've done what we could," he said modestly. "The magic to control the living conditions can be cast anywhere, though. The real difficulty was finding a location close enough to our homes to make travel between the two comfortable."

I heard a small groan from behind me. "Yes, tell the vampire where I live," Patchouli muttered to herself.

"Have you had any difficulty keeping yourselves hidden?" I asked, suppressing a grin. I hadn't intended to dig for information with this conversation, but if it was going to be given so freely, it never hurt to be informed.

He shook his head. "The building above us is mostly empty, and we're far enough underground that very little sound or light escapes."

"How convenient. You must generate a great deal of both," I prompted, putting my hand on the table next to his and leaning in slightly.

"Some of us more than others," he said, with a fleeting glance across the room at Henri, who was examining the array of jewels I had noticed earlier. "Personally, I tend to favor magic requiring more finesse. Ah, the tea should be about--"

"A little while longer," I said, shooing his hand away as he reached for the teapot. "So what sort of magic uses finesse?"

"It's not really a sort of magic so much as a different way of looking at magic as a whole," he explained. "Take, for example, a spell to make a light source."

That was something I could do. "Like this?" I asked, producing a small ball of light above my open hand.

"Yes, exactly! Now--" He stopped speaking, reaching into his coat, and after a moment of searching, he removed a small metal object, about the size of a coin. "Here we are!" he said, handing it to me. "Now try the same spell, but pull the prana from this."

"Prana?"

"Yes, pra-- oh! Ah, the magical energy, I suppose," he said, realizing that his jargon had gone over my head. Another groan came from behind me, and Patchouli muttered something about oversimplification, but I ignored her, focusing my attention on the bauble I had just received. At a glance, I could have mistaken it for an coin: a silvered disc about an inch in diameter with words engraved around the edge. In place of the king's head, though, was a magic circle of some sort, filled with scribbles too small to make out. Shrugging, I repeated the light spell, drawing magic power from the coin and focusing on the space in front of me.

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 30586
"Ah!" This time, though, I barely had to put any energy into the spell at all before the sphere appeared, easily five times as bright as before. I cut the power and looked away, but it was too late; I could see an afterimage of the sphere even with my eyes closed, and little more after opening them.

"Lady Scarlet! Are you all right?" Michel's voice was closer than before, and I felt his hand on my shoulder.

"Fine, fine, just blinded myself a little," I said, blinking rapidly and shrugging his hand away, ignoring Patchouli's snickering from behind me.

"I'm sorry! I should have warned you! I didn't think that the effect would be that profound for a spell without--"

"I said it's fine," I repeated, smiling in Michel's general direction through the rapidly shrinking spots in my vision. "Just what was that?"

"The talisman acts as an amplifier of sorts," he said, taking a step back. "It decreases the energy requirements of the spell it feeds into. Using the same amount of power that you would put into the unamplified spell causes a increase in its output."

"So what happened just now was like going to pick something up, but misjudging how heavy it is and falling over," I said glibly.

"I, ah, suppose you could put it that way," he said, looking away in silence for a moment. "The, ah, the tea will get bitter if we leave it for too long, Lady Scarlet."

"That's how we'll know that it's tea," I said, pulling the pot out of his reach. "So this can amplify any spell?"

"That's the downside," he said, giving the teapot a longing gaze. "So far, I've only been able to make amplifiers for fairly specific classes of magic. Honestly, I'm surprised that the one you have worked so well for the spell you used."

"So what kind of spell was it made for?"

"I've been testing this one with a simple heating spell, since it lets me measure the exact improvement in efficiency with a thermometer." He sighed. "I would have thought that it would only work for other spells manipulating heat, but it seems my understanding is still incomplete."

"I've told you before, haven't I?" Patchouli spoke up again, this time loud enough for Michel to hear. "Any magic that alters a basic property of the components of its target will be amplified by that circle."

"Again with the indivisible component theory?" Before Michel had a chance to respond, Henri spoke up, walking back over from across the room and throwing himself into a chair. "Just write a book already, Patchouli," he said with a laugh.

"It may surprise you to learn that modern science has little regard for experimental evidence obtained through magic," Patchouli said, frowning.

"Heh." I had only the vaguest idea of what they were talking about, but this seemed to be some sort of long-standing argument between Patchouli and the others. Perhaps her constant displeasure wasn't reserved for me, after all. "At any rate, this is quite interesting," I said, handing the talisman back to Michel.

But he didn't take it, waving his hands in front of himself. "Ah, that's not necessary. I've got plenty, please, keep that one for yourself."

"Really?" I took another look at the coin, then shrugged and slipped it into my pocket. "Thank you. That's quite kind of you."

"Not at all."

"..."

"By the way, isn't the tea ready to--"

"No."

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 30587
After negotiations for the release of the tea had been concluded, the four of us settled around the small table, each of us taking one of the heavily padded reading chairs. A few uncomfortable moments passed as we sipped our drinks in silence, each side waiting for the other to begin. After I was satisfied that my tea was drinkable, I spoke, asking the question on everyone's mind.

"The Scarlet Veil, you said? Just who are you?"

"Just a group of people with the same hobby. The name makes us sound far more self-important than we are, I'm afraid," Michel said, speaking for the group. "We happened to encounter one another through various coincidences, and decided to form a... research group of sorts, somewhere where we could share our knowledge."

"Knowledge like how to kill a vampire," I said flatly.

"We study the occult." He leaned forward in his chair, lacing his fingers together. "As you've already seen, one of our main areas of study is magic itself, but the range of our studies is quite broad. Urban legends, old wives' tales, anything which the majority of society believes to be myth."

"Including vampires."

"A-among other things, yes. May I ask what it is you're getting at, Lady Scarlet?"

"It's just quite a coincidence, that's all. A vampire attack in Versailles, and a group with the knowledge and skills to hunt it springs up under my nose before I have time to do anything." My suspicion was largely feigned, of course; as unlikely as their appearance was, I considered it far more unlikely that they were already being manipulated by the vampire. More than anything, I wanted to see how they would respond to my unspoken accusations.

Patchouli responded predictably. "Less shocking of a coincidence than having another vampire 'spring up', I should think," she said sharply.

"Patchouli, please," Michel said softly, glancing over at her, and she fell silent, glowering. "Is there anything we cab do to prove to you that--"

"No more than there is something that I could do to prove myself to you." I leaned back in my chair, stretching my wings against the comfortable leather through the fabric of my clothes. "It seems that for the time being, we will simply be forced to trust each other."

"I can deal with that," Henri said, turning sideways in his chair and throwing his legs over the armrest. "So what's the actual plan here? What are we going to do?"

"Before that, why don't you tell me what you know about vampires?" I said. "I suspect there are gaps in your knowledge that need to be filled for you to be effective."

As if on cue, the two men looked to Patchouli. She signed, closing her eyes for a moment, then reopened them and spoke, as though reciting from a book.

"Vampires. Humanoid magical beings, classed as undead, made unique by their sole reliance on the blood of living humans for nourishment. Vampirism is transmitted through the vampire's bite, transforming victims not killed by blood loss into less powerful vampires subservient to their sire. It has proven difficult to catalog the full extent of their supernatural powers, but among them have been noted: superhuman strength, speed, and senses; limited forms of magical hypnotism and entrancement; shapeshifting, particularly into the form of animals; and regeneration from wounds inflicted by ordinary weapons. Their most dangerous ability, however, is their capacity to retain a form largely indistinguishable from that of a human, allowing them to blend in among their prey under certain circumstances." She looked up at me as she finished this sentence, and paused a moment to let her meaning sink in before continuing.

"As with most undead, their most severe weaknesses are to symbols of the circle of life that they disrupt. Of greatest utility to those wishing to trap a vampire is their strong aversion to sunlight, often necessitating complete nocturnality, and an inability to cross flowing water except at the slack or flood of the tide. Effective personal wards against a vampire include particularly verdant or noticeable plant life, such as garlic or roses, or symbols of religion, such as crucifixes. To kill a vampire, its heart and head must be pierced with an unworked material, and its head separated from its body, with additional assurance of death through burning of the body recommended."

Symbols of the circle of life? I had never thought about it that way, but it fit with my personal experiences well. Most of the other information was correct, too, at least in its main points. "Very good. I'll give you full marks for that answer," I said, grinning.

"Why, thank you." Patchouli smiled thinly at me. "Now it's your turn. What do you know that we do not?"

I paused for a minute, trying to decide where to begin. They already knew far more than I had expected; knowledge that had taken me hundreds of years to gain myself, and was more than enough to make them effective vampire hunters. Would it be safe to tell them weaknesses that even I was still susceptible to?

[ ] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
[ ] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.
>> No. 30588
[X] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.

I do quite trust Patchouli, despite her bravado. Unfortunately, I find her associates less trustworthy - Pache is an easy one to read, but her fellows not so much.
>> No. 30589
[X] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
>> No. 30591
[ ] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
But do give them something extra, so they know we are telling them something.
>> No. 30593
[X] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
>> No. 30595
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.

They're too bumbling to do anything against a vampire of our caliber even if they were completely informed. The put some pretty heavy trust in us already; I'd rather not send these men to die or allow them to become the other vampire's thralls.
>> No. 30597
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.
>> No. 30598
>>30595
Too bumbling? They handled that vampire better than we did.

[x] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
>> No. 30602
[x] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
>> No. 30603
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.

We need to show Patchy some trust if we're going to get any trust back.
>> No. 30605
>Would it be safe to tell them weaknesses that even I was still susceptible to?

How serious are these weaknesses? Are we handing them a musket or a nuke? Either way, it hardly seems fair to tell them everything unless they tell us about all their protective measures.
>> No. 30606
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.
>> No. 30607
[x] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
>> No. 30684
>>30605

'Protective measures?' They showed us, against that vampire which they could barely fend off, let alone kill. They're not very good; we could probably kill everyone in this room quite quickly. Humans generally become disabled when you rib their limbs off, die when you destroy their major organs, and Patchouli, the magician, even mistook plain charisma from our mesmerizing powers. Furthermore they invited us into their base and told them about themselves, after we had displayed great superiority over that newborn vampire, and have generally given us plenty of time to kill them if they thought we were an enemy.

I think a show of trust is appropriate, especially since some of them seem very much to want to trust us (Michel might be infatuated), while others, like Patch, have largely changed their attitude toward us.

And besides, if someone is going around and creating vampires without your knowledge, they could very well be as powerful as Remilia, or even more so. In that case, they'll really need that knowledge. This thing is a danger to us as well, you know.
>> No. 30688
[O] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.
>> No. 30689
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.

>>30684
>They showed us, against that vampire which they could barely fend off, let alone kill.
That wasn't on their home turf, though. Those jewels are kind of worrying.
>> No. 30696
[x] I held back a little of my knowledge on vampires. I still couldn't be sure that I wasn't going to have to fight these people myself later on.
>> No. 30697
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.
>> No. 30706
[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.
Trust++, and the fact that Remilia's still alive and retelling this story means Patchy and co aren't going to kill us or anything.
>> No. 30707
>>30706

Not so. See: >>29415
>> No. 30708
Hm. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time style bad endings, perhaps? Remi dies in her own recollection and goes "Wait, no, that's not what actually happened..."

Could be amusing.

[x] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.

Somehow, I'm still not feeling a particularly strong danger vibe here, though. Only three amateur vampire hunters, one of which, while admittedly a master magician, is asthmatic and clearly underestimating us (see the part where she mistakenly believes Remi to be using mind control), and another is a guy seemingly kept around for comic relief.

Also, they still got some things wrong, such as assuming Remilia is vulnerable to crucifixes. They'd just get themselves killed if they bought into too much of that folk tale mumbo-jumbo.
>> No. 30709
Calling it for full disclosure. Writing begins.
>> No. 30720
>>30709

hooray!
>> No. 30814
Ugh.

---

[X] I told them everything. Even if it made me less safe, it was best that they knew exactly what they were up against.

No, I would tell them everything. I still wasn't sure that they were completely friendly to me, but I was much more certain that the other vampire wouldn't be, and I couldn't allow them to fall into his clutches.

"Let's start with what you got wrong," I said. "Symbols of religion, as you put it, have no more effect on me than they do on anyone else." I crossed myself once for emphasis, getting a small frown from Michel. A staunch believer, or a staunch atheist? Oh, well. "I have no evidence that the type of vampire described in your books, the ones that gained their powers through congress with demons, exist today. Or have ever existed, for that matter."

"I see." Surprisingly, Patchouli ignored my small slight against her knowledge, absorbed in taking notes with a quill pen and paper that she procured from somewhere. "Continue."

"The idea of using the sun to restrict movement is flawed as well," I continued, getting into my role as an instructor. "The only time a vampire is completely immobilized by the sun is at high noon. At any other time, it may have to apply some of its energy to counteracting the sun's effects, but all its powers will still be available. Besides that, it has to be direct sunlight for the effect to be strongest. Even filtering the sunlight through a window is enough to weaken its power against vampires significantly." I hesitated briefly. "Not to say that the sun can't be an effective tool. On a cloudless day during the hour when the sun is highest, it's all I can manage to keep a human form if I'm outside, even with a parasol. Defending myself would be impossible."

Patchouli's note-taking briefly stopped, and she looked up at me with an odd expression, but said nothing.

Henri, however, didn't stay quiet. "You don't have to go that far," he said, taking his feet off of the table to lean closer to me. "You're giving up enough already, just telling us what you know in general."

"It's not meant as a show of faith," I said simply. "I can't be certain, but I suspect the new vampire is younger than me, which means he's probably also weaker. That means my weaknesses are his weaknesses, and that's something we can use to our benefit, but not unless I tell you everything I know."

There was no response to this, so I continued. "Finally, the most important information, a weakness you left off of your list. Pure, un-alloyed metals--"

"A careless omission," Patchouli interrupted. "Wounds created by a silver object can't be regenerated, correct?"

"Correct, but..." I held out a hand. "Let me see your knife for a moment."

Patchouli gave me a long, hard look, and I resisted the urge to remind her that a single knife wasn't going to make a difference if we fought. Eventually, though, she relented, retrieving a small dagger from her person and handing it to me, blade-first. "Thank you," I said with a smirk, flipping the grip into my hand flashily and examining the blade.

It felt... strange, just as I had noticed in the mausoleum. The metal was definitely pure silver; I could feel my skin tingle as I ran a finger across the flat of the blade. There was something wrong, though; I felt no danger from this weapon, none of the instinctive fear of one of the few materials capable of harming me. "What is this?" I asked, turning the blade over in my hands.

"You noticed?" Patchouli asked, surprised. "I made it myself. The outside is coated in a thin layer of silver, but the core of the blade remains unchanged. With the amount of silver needed for a single knife, I could coat dozens of cheaper blades."

"So the magicians haven't managed to transmute silver yet?" I teased. "More importantly, do you have any proof that these are effective?"

"I'm afraid we haven't had the occasion of an appropriate test subject." Patchouli said dryly. "If you're volunteering, though..." she added with a thin-lipped smile.

So smug... I couldn't resist the opportunity. "An excellent idea!" I said with a genuine smile, raising Patchouli's eyebrow. "Best to get this sort of thing over with quickly, isn't it?" I continued, standing and rolling up my left sleeve to expose my forearm. The two men shifted in their seats, unsure of whether this was safe or not, but I knew they were too slow to stop me either way. "After all, if you put it off..." Reaching my left hand forward, I moved the knife to the crook of my elbow.

"What are you--"

I drew the knife along my arm, cutting a straight line across my skin down to my wrist; deep enough to show, but not too deep, and carefully avoiding severing any important tendons.

"...it just hurts more in the end, right?" I said with a small laugh.

My audience just watched, each of them in various states of shock, as the blood began to flow; a deep red, from one of the arteries that hadn't reached my extremities yet. Apparently, the blade did have some effect; the wound was closing, but not quickly enough to prevent the blood from escaping, as I had hoped it would. I silently cursed my carelessness; showing off was one thing, but bleeding all over somebody else's coffee table was rather rude. "Could I trouble someone for a damp towel?" I asked.

Michel only nodded, eyes locked on the wound, before vacating his chair in a hurry. As I cradled my arm, trying to avoid staining anything of importance, I studied the faces of the others. Patchouli was the mix of suspicion and disbelief that I had expected from her, with just a hint of awe mixed in from the small portion of her mind that allowed her to accept what she had just seen. Henri, on the other hand, looked significantly... well, creepier, with an odd grin plastered on his face. His heart was still racing, but that expression made me wonder whether it was with fear or... something else.

"Lady Scarlet." Michel reappeared, paler than ever, and avoiding looking in my direction as he proffered a small towel.
"Thank you," I said, taking it and wiping away the majority of the blood. The wound underneath had already completely closed, and I presented it to my audience. "And voilà!"

"...But wounds caused by pure silver can't be healed?" Patchouli finally managed.

"Even they heal, eventually, but it takes even more time than it would for a normal human to heal." I sat back down, rubbing away the last of the bloody residue from my arm. "Sorry, but I'm not going to show you that."

"...I see." Patchouli said shortly. "Thank you for the demonstration," she said with just a hint of a smile before returning her attention to furiously taking notes.

---

Continued in next post.
>> No. 30815
"U-unless you have anything else to say, Lady Scarlet," Michel says, still looking a little unwell, "we had hoped to discuss plans for finding the vampire before--"

"Finally!" Henri swung his feet off the table, leaning forward in his chair. "Okay, so here's how it is. The rumors have hit the streets hard, and the vampire connection is making people crazy. Garlic is sold out at ten times the usual price, and you can't swing a fish on the street without hitting someone selling a magic potion to make your blood taste bad."

"Idiots," Patchouli muttered under her breath.

"But the good news is that now, every death that anyone finds the slightest bit odd produces a rumor that the vampire's claimed another victim." Henri reached into his jacket, removing a small notepad. "Since the party, there have been three deaths over the past few days suspicious enough to cause rumors. The first two are a husband and wife, nobles both, dead in a locked room on the third floor of their mansion. According to my sources, the only way the murder could have gotten away was sprouting wings and flying out the window." He looked up to throw a meaningful look around the room, then turned the page of his notebook and continued.

"The third is a lamplighter, found dead on the street, looking like he had just fallen out of a building. Thing is, the only building near enough to where he was found is apparently the palatial mansion of Lord Something-or-other, not the kind of building a lamplighter just waltzes into. Sounds to me like a case of someone's secret lover from the rough side of town getting found and thrown out of a window--"

"Henri!" Michel rebuked sharply.

"--but that could still be interesting," Henri finished, unperturbed, with a devilish grin.

"Were any of these corpses bitten?" I asked.

"According to the rumors?" Henri asked with a chuckle. "All the corpses were found completely drained of blood, with a legion of mysterious men in black leaning over them who dissolved into bats and flew away when they were spotted." He shrugged. "Sorry, but you just can't get that much detail from a rumor and expect it to be reliable. If you want the real facts, you'll have to try to get them out of someone close to the incident, who might actually know them."

"What about the original attack?" I asked.

"The police files may prove useful for investigating the first attack," Patchouli said. "None of the people we talked to could give us any information about the activity of the victim prior to the attack or the identity of the attacker."

"How do we get them?" Michel asked.

"I'm open to suggestions. That don't involve robbing my fellow humans of their free will," she replied, shooting a dark look at me as I opened my mouth.

"Unless somebody has an in with the police, we'll probably have to steal them," Henri said. "Or a bribe, if any of you feel like putting up the money."

"What about getting more recent rumors?" Michel suggested. "Something could have already happened tonight, and a fresh crime gives us more information."

"We don't have to limit ourselves to just one option," I said. "With four of us, it may be better to split up."

"What do you suggest?" Patchouli asked.

[ ] Investigate the dead couple.
[ ] Investigate the dead lamplighter.
[ ] Try to get the police files for the first attack.
[ ] Canvas the streets for more recent information.
[ ] Write-in.

Choose as many or as few of the above as you please.

AND

[ ] How to split up? Write in which groups will perform which tasks. Keep in mind that Remilia's options for solitary investigation may be limited by the fact that she looks like a twelve year-old girl.

---

I retconned a small detail from the mausoleum scene, so if you noticed it, a) congratulations on being a careful reader, and b) it's not an error.
>> No. 30816
[x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30817
[x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30818
[x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30819
[~] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[z] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[e] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30820
[x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.

Works for me~!
>> No. 30821
Fffffinally.

[x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30822
[x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30823
x] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[x] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.
>> No. 30948
[x] Henri will try to get the writer files for the updates.
[x] Michel will canvas the boards for more recent updates.
[x] You and Patchouli will try to locate the updates directly. Pay a visit to the writer's home, after hours.
>> No. 30989
>>30948
|
V
>>29415
>>I have no idea what the update schedule is going to be on this. Underground LA in /others/ is still my main project, and I do intend for this to be smaller than your average CYOA, so I may try to do weekly updates. On the other hand, I came up with the idea for this and wrote most of this first update while I was struggling with a ULA update, so I might end up using this as a form of procrastination.

He'll post when he posts...
>> No. 31108
[B] Henri will try to get the writer files for the updates.
[B] Michel will canvas the boards for more recent updates.
[B] You and Patchouli will try to locate the updates directly. Pay a visit to the writer's home, after hours.
>> No. 31113
>>30989
He'll post when he posts, and we'll bugger him when he don't.
>> No. 31125
>>31113

Is the writer even aware of the recent change to touhou-project.com..?
>> No. 31126
>>31125

He is. Check his /underground/ story.
>> No. 31156
File 125238080075.jpg - (358.14KB , 1680x1050 , 7.jpg ) [iqdb]
31156
Okay, I'm done ignoring this for ULA now.

---

[X] Henri will try to get the police files for the attacks.
[X] Michel will canvas the streets for more recent information.
[X] You and Patchouli will try to locate the bodies directly. Pay a visit to the county morgue, after hours.

"We'll split up," I said, springing to my feet. "Henri, can you get to the police files tonight?"

"I guess so," he said, stretching his legs out before standing up himself. "It'll take a few hours of preparing, though."

"That's fine. Michel, see if you can find any new rumors from the streets."

"I, ah, suppose I can do that," Michel sputtered, clearly trying to refuse, "but I think that, ah, perhaps..."

"Want to switch with me?" Henri asked, smirking. "Go through the proper channels?"

"That would be best," Patchouli said shortly.

"If you agree, Lady Scarlet," Michel added.

"Whichever way is fine," I said, frowning to myself. "That leaves Patchouli and me to investigate the bodies."

"You mean the crime scenes," Patchouli corrected. "The bodies will have already been taken to the morgue by now."

"I mean the bodies. We shouldn't have too much trouble getting into the morgue, right?"

"Getting into--" Patchouli jumped from her chair, raising her voice, but cut herself off just as abruptly, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. "You intend to send the two of us against two vampires with the strength of the one in the morgue?" she asked, face a mask of calmness.

"When were the murders commited, Henri?" I asked, watching from the corner of my eye as she seethed at being ignored.

"Bodies were found yesterday morning. Last time the couple had been seen was 7:00 PM the night before," he replies, reading from his notes.

"Too soon for enough power to have transferred from the sire," I said, glancing at the clock; half past 10. "We've got at least... one or two good hours."

"One or..." Another near-shout from Patchouli, followed by another deep breath. "You won't be dissuaded, I take it?"

"Won't you come take a walk with me?" I asked, grinning just a little too widely. The light of the moon didn't reach this room, but I looked up towards where it would be in the sky anyway -- waxing gibbous, two days to the full moon. "It's a nice night out."

"...I'll get my coat."

---

I followed Patchouli as she made her way through a series of twisty back alleys that led to the city morgue. It seemed like a roundabout route, but it seems she had her reasons; my questions were met with a curt "This isn't the first time I've broken into the morgue," and I didn't press the issue.

Midway through the trip, Patchouli broke the silence that had fallen between us. "I expected you to be better at reading people than that," she said without turning to look at me.

"When? What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Trying to send Michel out to search for rumors."

"He's the one who suggested it," I countered. "I still don't know why he didn't want to."

Now she turned her head to look at me without stopping; a sort of half-smirk coupled with a squinting glare that seemed to ask if I was actually that stupid or just pretending. "Does he strike you as the type of person who would be at ease outside his protective bubble of nobility?"

Did he? I hadn't really paid much attention to his character; even after learning he was a magician, he was still far less interesting than Patchouli. Now that I though about it, though, he did seem somewhat more... genteel than his two companions, and he was certainly more at ease at the masquerade than Patchouli had been.

And it seemed that she resented that, if her tone was anything to go by. "Harsh words from one of his comrades," I said.

"He'd tell you the same thing," she said, turning away from me and continuing to walk forward. "The three of us each have a rather specialized skill set, both magically and practically. You would do well to understand them before giving any more orders."

"I'm surprised you said anything. I thought you were against my presence."

"It seems clear enough that you harbor some misguided desire to be the commander of the ramshackle hunting party we seem to have become." She let out a chuckle. "And it is even more clear that you are unaccustomed to getting anything that is not what you desire. If we're to be rid of you, I may as well aid you as I can."

"Right on all counts," I said, applauding softly. "But showing insight like that will only make it harder to be rid of me."

The look she shot me next didn't ask whether or not I was stupid, it presupposed it. "One hundred years old."

My age? "Older than that, child," I replied.

"No, no, for me," she said, looking away. "After I've lived that long, I'll find someone trustworthy and ask him to kill me, lest I end up becoming a nuisance like you."

This girl...! I clapped a hand over my mouth, bracing myself against a wall as I nearly doubled over with laughter. After another angry stare, Patchouli turned on her heel and walked away without a word. "I may just stick with you forever," I called, composing myself and running after her.

We walked for another minute or so before Patchouli stopped us, ducking behind a pile of garbage at the end of an alley. I recognized the back of the morgue building ahead of us, and scanned the area for guards and doors: just one of each, the former parked directly in front of the latter. There were a few windows on the second floor, but they seemed to be bolted shut, and breaking them and flying in would attract exactly the kind of attention that coming to the back door was meant to avoid.

I had ways of dealing with people, though. I stepped past Patchouli, walking around the trash towards the building, only to be stopped by a hand on my shoulder.

"Just what is your plan for getting past him?" she asked.

"Just the usual," I said with a grin, shrugging off the hand and taking another step away. Before I could get out of range, though, Patchouli lunged, snagging the back of my collar and pulling. I relented, falling backwards and crawling behind cover with her; ordinarily, I would have just let her pull and continued on, but I liked that dress. "Problem?" I asked, annoyed.

"I've told you once already that I refuse to be an accomplice to robbing a sentient being of his free will," Patchouli snapped.

"It's not like he's doing much with it," I complained, frowning and gesturing at the man, who was engaged in vigorously picking his nose.

"I've already prepared something a little more elegant, if you don't mind," she said, drawing something from a pocket of her coat. A stone? She brought it to her ear, closing her eyes as though to listen to it, then passed it to me. "Throw this over the stairs, by the side of the building," she ordered.

I examined the item briefly before I followed her direction. It was a stone, all right; oval-shaped and a little flat, like the kind you might find in a river. No mysterious glowing, neither hot nor cold to the touch, and not particularly heavy; everything you would expect from... well, a stone you found in a river. Disappointed, I wound up and threw it, landing it between the morgue building and its neighbor, out of sight around the corner and several meters away from the guard. He didn't notice it as it sailed past him; not surprising, given how dark it had become.

After a few seconds, though, I saw a light shining from where it had landed, flickering gently, as though from a torch or streetlight, and along with that came voices, quiet at first, then growing louder. Had the stone attracted people somehow?

The voices grew louder, with some raucous laughter and shouts mixed in, and the sound of shattering glass broke the relative silence of the night. I jumped, startled, and the night watchman did the same, bolting to his feet. "Who's over there?" he yelled towards the lights, stepping away from the door and raising his lantern. Another crash and more laughing voices, along with a loud "Fuck off!" and the watchman was off around the corner, drawing his nightstick from his belt.

"Quickly!" I turned back to Patchouli only to find that she had already left our hiding place, moving around the pile of garbage and towards the door in a near-run. I followed behind, making it to the door just before she did. "We have twenty seconds or so before the illusion wears off. Just let me... hah... pick the lock and..." Putting a hand on her knee to steady herself, Patchouli moved in front of the door, reaching into another pocket in search of some other tool.

"Elegance has a time and a place, and breaking into a building in the dead of night is neither." I motioned her away, grabbing the door handle, and twisted. The mechanism gave a soft pop as the lock inside broke, and the door swung open before us. "After you."

Patchouli glowered at me as she stepped inside, and I slipped in after her, shutting the door behind me. She really was out of it; her face was bright red, and she looked like she might fall down on the spot. I decided against saying anything about it, taking my time securing the door as she caught her breath. After a few seconds, she straightened up, making her way down the stairs and through a few hallways to an unmarked door in the basement. This really wasn't the first time she'd broken into the morgue.

The room was all you'd expect from an area designed to store bodies: a few simple tables, about waist-height, with medical instruments for embalming and preparing corpses arrayed about, and rows upon rows of drawers. This room alone easily held a hundred, covering two whole walls with squares, each of them a few feet on each side, just big enough to hold a person. Patchouli walked into the room with purpose, heading towards a thick book sitting on one of the tables, and opened it.

"Marcel and Simone Beauchamp... numbers 31 and 32."

"Thirty-one, thirty-one... ah!" There it was, a nondescript cabinet among nondescript cabinets, at about the level of my shoulders, the number "31" embossed in the wood. I beckoned Patchouli over, and she removed yet another trinket from her pocket as she walked, holding it in front of her like a charm (which it very well may have been).

"There's no need for that, you know. They shouldn't be awake yet."

"You can take your chances, and I'll take mine," she said. "Count down from three. Open the drawer on zero."

"Fine, fine," I said, rolling my eyes. "Three." I laid my left hand on the handle. "Two." Squeezed.

"One zero!" And pulled it open as quickly as I could, sending Patchouli jumping back towards the walls, brandishing her talisman protectively.

"Scaredy-cat," I said haughtily as Patchouli's face turned even redder than it had been before, lips pressing into a thin line. "I told you..." I looked down into the drawer.

Nothing. It was empty.

Damn it.

[ ] I left immediately. I couldn't risk a surprise attack, not when I had already severely misjudged my enemy.
[ ] I kept searching. It should be too soon for them to have turned; they must just be in another drawer, or another room, or something.
[ ] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
[ ] I got outside and into the air as fast as I could. If I had misjudged the time it took them to turn, they might already be in the city.
>> No. 31157
[X] I kept searching. It should be too soon for them to have turned; they must just be in another drawer, or another room, or something.

My reasoning behind this is that the misplacement of bodies taken in by morgue are not entirely rare.
>> No. 31161
[X] I kept searching. It should be too soon for them to have turned; they must just be in another drawer, or another room, or something.
>> No. 31162
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
>> No. 31163
[X] I kept searching. It should be too soon for them to have turned; they must just be in another drawer, or another room, or something.

>>31157

Especially all those years ago, yes?
>> No. 31169
[x] I kept searching. It should be too soon for them to have turned; they must just be in another drawer, or another room, or something.
>> No. 31170
[X] I kept searching. It should be too soon for them to have turned; they must just be in another drawer, or another room, or something.
>> No. 31173
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
>> No. 31174
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.

The guard was still alive, so at the very least we know they're still down here. Given that Remilia gave a margin of only an hour in which they could have turned, even a small mistake in the supposed timing of events could be critical. The presence of the guard also makes it unlikely someone stole the bodies, although I suppose he could have been bribed.
>> No. 31175
[O] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
>> No. 31176
>>31174
Or the culprit Jedi Vampire mind-tricked his/her way past the guard.

Regardless:
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
>> No. 31179
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
>> No. 31199
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.
>> No. 31210
[x] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.

And have Patchy keep searching.
>> No. 31330
File 125273250487.jpg - (108.88KB , 500x689 , 8.jpg ) [iqdb]
31330
[X] I got ready for a fight, barring all the doors and sweeping the room. They may have been awake, but they couldn't have gotten far.

"Patchouli, get to the front door and seal it shut," I ordered, looking up from the empty drawer. "Nothing powerful. We just need to know if they try to leave."

"How do you know they haven't already--"

"The dead bodies should hold their interest well enough to keep them here for a while. We may have missed them, but not by much."

"Understood," she said, taking off immediately for the door on the opposite side of the room. "Meet back here in two minutes," she called back before she disappeared up another set of stairs.

"Get the windows too!" I shouted after her before sprinting off myself, retracing the path to the back door we had entered the morgue through. As I ran, I gathered magical energy; there wasn't much in my arsenal that could even slow down a vampire, and what I had in mind required a lot of power.

So much, in fact, that I still didn't have enough by the time I reached the back door. I tensed my muscles involuntarily, fighting against the feeling of pressure against every inch of my body that accumulating that much energy brought to draw still more forth from my surroundings. No matter how I tried, though, the well seemed to have run dry; a building as full of death as this one was low on energy to start with, and Patchouli casting magic elsewhere couldn't have helped matters. I couldn't afford to wait, though; every second wasted was another second that the thralls had to break through one of the second-story windows, to get to the door before Patchouli and out onto the street, to attack her, or me, or worse. I needed more power, something that--

Michel's amplifier. He said he tested it on a heating spell, didn't he? I pulled the piece of metal from my pocket, drawing the small amount of energy it held into myself at the same time, and, closing my eyes and ignoring the feeling that I still didn't have enough energy, focused on the gap between the door and its frame and cast the spell. "!اﺣﺘﺮاق"

The spell took effect instantly, its fire burning brightly enough that I could see it through my eyelids, a thin column of piercing blue light. I pressed both hands against the door, ignoring the shrill hiss of evaporating water and the stench of melted skin as I held the door in place against the frame. After a few seconds, when I was sure the metal had melted, I cut the power to the spell, refocusing the leftover power to quickly cooling the molten pieces together, and grimaced as another plume of superheated steam hit my face. I could hear the night watchman shouting from the other side of the door, but he didn't matter anymore; the heat would keep him away for a while, and welding the door shut would keep him out until it broke. I knew a stopgap like this wouldn't stop even the newest of vampires, but it would stall them long enough for me to hear. Satisfied with my work, I removed my hands from the door, wincing slightly as the top layer of flesh peeled away, and turned on my heel and ran, negotiating the maze of hallways that led back to the room Patchouli and I had just left.

Or, rather, trying to negotiate the maze. Was it left or right at this branch? All the doors look exactly the same! Frustrated, I pulled the nearest door open and--

Stopped. This definitely wasn't the same room; it lacked the drawers along the walls and had no exit on the opposite side. It had more tables, too, each one occupied by a corpse in some state of dissection.

Except for one of the tables, where a second humanoid form, facing away from me, straddled one of the corpses, head bowed low as it tore into the dead flesh noisily with its teeth.

For a moment, I froze, unsure of what I was seeing. Consuming flesh to gain power was an thrall ability not shared by true vampires; I had little experience with it, and none that I wished to recall. This was definitely one of the new vampires, though, and by the looks of things, it had been too busy gorging to notice my entrance. This was my opportunity for a surprise attack; I was confident that I could beat both thralls in a fight, but that didn't mean I wanted to try. Stepping inside, I crept closer to the table, floating slightly to muffle my footfalls. Patchouli's knife was still in my pocket, I realized, and I withdrew it, ignoring the itch of the fake silver against my bare skin; it might not be much better than a normal knife in proper combat with a vampire, but if I moved fast, I could decapitate the thrall before it could react.

I was already practically right behind it; not quite within arms' reach, but close enough to pounce on it. Now that I was this close, I could make out a few features on the creature; this was the wife, if the bloodstained dress in tatters around her was any indication. She had probably been quite beautiful when she was alive, with the sort of figure that ordinary women had to wear corsets to achieve. Now, though...

I readied the knife and crouched, preparing to jump.

Before I could move, though, a weight came down on my back, nearly forcing me to the ground. I spun, swinging the knife in a wide arc, but it was too late; a flash of metal pierced my arm just above the elbow, and I lost all feeling in the limb instantly, the knife flying lazily from my limp fingers. I dodged backwards, narrowly avoiding a grabbing hand, and jumped, clearing two of the autopsy tables and landing feet-first on the third.

My arm -- didn't work. That was all I had time to figure out before the surprise attacker and the first vampire were on me again, making their own twin leaps over the tables, set to converge on my position. I dove left as they landed simultaneously, destroying the table as they fell. As they struggled to right themselves, I grabbed at the weapon still stuck in my right arm, hissing involuntarily as my fingers closed around it. I pulled it out with a quick jerk, looking down at it briefly: a surgical scalpel, one of the big ones; not more than a few inches in length, but pure silver.

It would have to do. I charged at my attackers, stabbing towards the nearest one's chest. The weapon was in my off hand, though, and it dodged, grabbing my arm and forcing me against the table. I tried to wrench it free, but the other vampire attacked first, slashing my face and neck with its claws.

But that type of damage meant nothing to me. I pulled myself away and, pivoting on my back leg, kicked low, snapping the attacking vampire's left leg at the knee. It went down like an unbalanced top, and I spun back around, hitting the vampire that had tried to trap me with a slash of my own claws. It stumbled backward, hissing and spraying blood from an arm that I had nearly severed. I could see it healing already, though, skin knitting itself together over regenerating muscle, and moved after it to press my advantage.

Or tried. My leg was trapped on something, though, and looking down, I saw what: the thrall I had kicked, grabbing my ankle with both hands and trying to pull its head near enough to bite me. I turned, lifting my other leg to stomp its head in, but before I could, the other vampire struck, a strike with its good arm to the back of my head that sent my off-balance form to the ground.

This wasn't a good place to be. I flailed my legs with as much strength as I could, hitting flesh a few times as I dragged myself backwards with my arm. As soon as I could, I jumped to my feet, retreating over the tables again.

This shouldn't be possible. As new as they were, they should barely be capable of following simple orders, but these thralls were coordinating their attacks as though they had fought together for years. Their regeneration powers were abnormal, too; the one whose leg I broke was already standing up, and the other one's arm had healed nearly as fast as the wounds to my face.

They came at me again, jumping from two different angles. This time, though, I grabbed the table in front of me, swinging it up into them as hard as I could. It snapped along the short edge as the top half hit the husband, dropping him to the ground, and I thrusted the remainder towards the wife, catching her along the stomach as she landed.

Not an immobilizing injury. I stopped my momentum and swung back, my strike colliding with a punch that splintered the remainder of my makeshift weapon. No damage, but it sent the thrall staggering back, and I used the opening to rush in, punching through its chest in a single stroke.

It groaned and tried to grab me, but I wasn't done yet; at this range, I wouldn't miss it's heart with my next punch. I pulled my fist back, aiming carefully, and--

Staggered backwards, suddenly struck off-balance by a grazing attack from behind me. The other thrall! I turned and swung, hoping to stall it until I could finish the first o--

My arm was gone. My swing died midway, and I looked down dumbly at the severed limb. I barely even reacted as the first thrall's punch hit me full in the chest, sending me flying several feet backwards until I hit a wall. The impact shocked me back to consciousness, and a grim realization: I was losing this fight. I tried to stand, wobbling unsteadily under my unbalanced upper body, and readied a jump towards the door, but the wife was already there, pinning me with one hand against my throat and another through my stomach. As I flailed uselessly, trying to gain leverage despite having no working arms, I saw the husband approach, and understood how I had lost my arm: it had picked up Patchouli's knife, the fake silver one I had lost during my first attempt at attacking.

And now it was coming closer with it, preparing for a stab through my head. I closed my eyes, trying desperately to scrape together enough magic to dissolve into mist and escape--

"Royal Flare!"

And the sun appeared.

I squeezed my eyelids shut even more tightly, but it didn't matter; I could see everything as clearly as if they weren't there. I curled into a ball, falling to the ground as as my body was assaulted from all directions, and I could hear my skin crack and blister as the light burned it away. A death shriek came from both sides as the thralls suffered under the same light, and I watched for a moment as their silhouettes writhed in agony before even those were gone from my vision, everything a pure, blank white.

I don't know how long it lasted; the pain made every instant into an eternity in my mind. Nothing changed when it ended; the pain was still there, if not as immediate, and my eyes were still useless; at the time, I assumed I would be blind for the remainder of my existence. I could still hear sounds, and there were a few; the crunch of bones as my arm regrew itself, squeals from the vampires, something that could have been words. I ignored them, laying in silence.

As my whole body started to heal, though, my senses slowly returned to me; first touch, the sensation of my clothes on my skin, my hair against my face; then sight as the whiteness mercifully dimmed, and the vague silhouettes of objects became visible once again. Sound came back too, or at least, my desire to hear things did, and Patchouli's voice echoed in my ears.

"Remilia?"

"...th..." Even the skin inside my mouth was burned. "...are they dead?" I finally rasped, as Patchouli's form gradually began to coalesce in my vision.

"They are incapable of movement. More importantly, are you--"

"Kill them."

"...Understood." I felt her body against mine as she reached over me, pulling the silver scalpel from my severed hand, and then she stepped out of view. I tried to turn my head to follow her, sending a spike of pain through my body, and flopped uselessly onto my back. Still, I could tell my healing was working; my vision was still bleached white, but I could make out shapes and colors, and the ceiling gradually came into focus as I slowly stretched my charred limbs.

A severed head flew through the air above me, snapping me out of my pain-induced reverie, and I forced myself to move my body again, pulling myself onto my side with my fully-regenerated arm to look at Patchouli. I watched as she hefted the now-headless body of the female vampire onto one of the intact tables before moving to the male. It was recovering too, though slower than I was, and it reached out a scarred hand as Patchouli's footsteps approached, grasping blindly for her legs. She stepped inside its reach, lowering her heel on its elbow and bringing her weight down with a dull crunch. Its mouth flew open, trying to scream, but it only managed a dull whine before her other foot came down on its head, pinning it to the stone floor. She was wearing boots, I realized; the heavy kind that laborers wore in case someone dropped something heavy on their feet. Not suitable for a lady at all.

Of course, then again, sawing an undead monster's head off with a two-inch blade as it tries pathetically to bite your foot isn't particularly ladylike either; by the time she was finished a few minutes later, her hands were bloody all the way up to the wrist. She picked up the head by the hair, tossing it into the far corner of the room, same as she had done for the previous one. I finally managed to pull myself to a sitting position as Patchouli walked back over, kneeling next to me.

"We need to burn the bodies. Can you..." Patchouli stopped for a moment and looked aside, coughing wetly into her hand before continuing. "Can you stand?"

"I'm fine now." I brought my hand to my face, gritting my teeth as I brushed the now-dry layer of burnt skin off to reveal the new skin underneath. Everything still hurt, but it was pain from the undeveloped skin that hadn't completely regenerated, and I could ignore that. "Where can we do it?"

"The crematorium is down the hall," she said, stepping back as I stood up, bracing myself against the table briefly as my legs adjusted to being called to action. "I'll get the heads."

I grabbed the bodies, struggling to keep hold both of them with a single good arm, and the two of us marched down the hall. The crematorium was a simple brick room, and we tossed everything inside and lit a small fire, then made our way back to the back door. There were people outside, now, and the rhythmic beat of a battering ram sounded against the door I had welded shut.

"This is..." Patchouli brought a hand to her face, squeezing her eyes shut as though to block out the sound. "...problematic."

"Can you fly?" I asked, reaching a hand to my back and ripping a hole through my clothes big enough to fit my wings through. A shame; I really did like that dress.

"Under normal circumstances, perhaps. After what I..." She trailed off for a moment. "I won't be capable of spellcasting for several hours."

"Then grab on," I said, extending my hand to her. She reached out tentatively, hesitating for a moment, before taking my hand in hers, and I took off, flying up to one of the high windows and kicking it out. I let her pass through first, then crawled through myself, careful not to cut my wings on the broken glass, before taking her hand again and flying off. The crowd on the ground made a lot of noise, but I ignored them; they couldn't see who I was from this distance, and in the sky, I was fast enough to lose them in seconds. Besides, they were already worried about a vampire, right? One more rumor wouldn't make much difference.

Even the back alleys of the city were mostly empty at this time of night, and I managed to land near the Scarlet Veil building without being seen. Michel and Henri were still gone -- "probably back at their own houses by now," Patchouli muttered -- but the candles lit themselves as we entered, casting a warm glow over the room.

"So we learned nothing, in the end," she said, moving towards the basin in the back of the room.

"On the contrary." I collapsed into one of the chairs by the coffee table, yawning. "The sire has some method of transferring power to his thralls, outside those used by ordinary vampires. There's no other way that the ones we fought could have been that strong or smart."

"Unless their sire is simply much more powerful than you, and capable of transferring more power by sheer brute force," she said bluntly, dipping her hands in the water to rinse the blood off.

"I don't think that--"

"Or unless there is a method available to vampires that you are unaware of. Or if you are simply..." She trailed off, turning her head to the side for a moment and coughing. "...simply not telling..." More coughing. "...telling..." She brought a hand to her chest, bending over slightly as she continued coughing.

"Patchouli, are you--"

I cut myself short and ran to her as she fell to one knee, holding her stomach as she hacked into her palm. Her coughing fit was already abating, but I saw flecks of blood on her hand as she pulled it away from her face.

"...This is not unex--" She cut herself off, clapping her hand to her mouth, and I could hear her retch behind her fingers.

"You need a doctor," I said nervously, standing and backing away slowly, unsure of what to do. I didn't know where to find a doctor at this hour, having never needed one myself, and I didn't want to leave Patchouli alone, as dire as she looked.

"...No." My choice was made by Patchouli, speaking quietly as she grabbed the hem of my dress. "This is--" She stopped again, squeezing her eyes shut, before continuing. "...not unexpected. I will recover within the day." She rose to her feet, only to be forced back down by another wave of coughs. "...You may leave now." she managed, before doubling over in another fit.

"Leave?" Was she serious? Was there some reason she didn't want me here?

"You have... needs, do you not?" Another cough, another round of silent retching. "The sun will... rise again soon."

She had a point. There were only a few hours left until the sun rose, I was hungry, and my only source of food was back at my mansion. (My only source of food that didn't require hunting, that is.) Besides that, I wasn't sure how well I would stand up to sunlight after what I had just been through, and staying with Patchouli was likely to mean I would have to stay here for the day. Still...

[ ] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.
[ ] I went back home. She said she would be fine, and I needed to take care of myself.
>> No. 31331
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.
>> No. 31339
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.
>> No. 31343
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.
>> No. 31345
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.
>> No. 31346
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.
>> No. 31347
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.

there was another choice?
>> No. 31348
Why am I thinking that this new vampire is Dracula himself?
>> No. 31353
[ze] I went back home. She said she would be fine, and I needed to take care of myself.

>>31331
>>31339
>>31343
>>31345
>>31346
>>31347
Oho, why not weaken ourselves?

I swear there was a Remi shop of grinbitch, but I can't find it. And if there isn't, we're overdue for one.
>> No. 31357
X] I went back home. She said she would be fine, and I needed to take care of myself.

We`ve been stabbed, had our arm chopped off and gotten hit at point blank with the biggest meanest fire spell known to touhou. I think we`re entitled to some R&R.
>> No. 31358
>>31357
's only a flesh wound.
>> No. 31384
[x] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.

>We`ve been stabbed, had our arm chopped off and gotten hit at point blank with the biggest meanest fire spell known to touhou. I think we`re entitled to some R&R.

And choosing not to? That's love, man.
>> No. 31412
>>31384
I can't stress how retarded this idea is.
>> No. 31513
>>31412

I assure you that when Patchouli pays closer attention to how grievously wounded Remilia is, watching the wounds slowly and painfully heal over, she'll realize that this vampire is here not because it's trying to hurt her, but because it intends to protect her.

Furthermore, spending the entire day with Patchouli, and making no attempt to take her blood, even when she needs it most because of her wounds?

Patchouli may well lose her phobia of vampires entirely.
>> No. 31514
[x] "Now shut up and let me help you."
>> No. 31515
>>31514
のヮの
>> No. 31530
File 125348136515.png - (158.36KB , 600x600 , 9.png ) [iqdb]
31530
>>31514
Forget "Grue is HY," "Taisa is glasnost" is the new conspiracy theory. Except his updates are longer, better, and involve less waiting than mine. ;_;

---

[X] I stayed with her. I couldn't leave her while she was like this.

I'd be fine, I decided, kneeling back down at her side. I hadn't eaten for a few days, but it'd be a few days more before I really needed a meal, and Patchouli's situation looked more dire than my own.

Patchouli scowled at me as I leaned closer to her, wrapping my arm around her back. "You are not... needed here. This is--"

"I have no compelling reason to leave. Worry about yourself." I slowly pulled her to her feet as her coughing seemed to slow. "Is there anything I can do?"

"No," she replied bluntly, clutching a hand to her stomach as another coughing fit began. "There's nothing anyone can do." She pulled her hand away from her mouth, and I saw flecks of blood on her skin

Now that I thought about it, her symptoms were familiar to me. Her pale complexion, how easily she was fatigued back at the morgue, and now coughing up blood... all the signs pointed to tuberculosis; in an early stage, perhaps, if she was still able to stand, but incurable, and probably fatal within a few years, at least barring a miracle.

But making miracles is practically a magician's trade. For her to say that nothing could be done... was consumption really so severe a--

"Despite what you're thinking, it's not tuberculosis," she said, frowning at my thoughtful expression. "Fetch me a glass of water."

...Well, then. I followed her order, leaving her side and going to the sink. By the time I had returned, she had brought herself to her feet again, bracing herself against one of the chairs as she shakily walked towards me.

"Stay there!" I said, hastily filling the cup and rushing back before she could stagger any farther. "Just stay where you are! You don't need to push yourself."

"It's fine," she said, taking the glass of water from me with a shaky hand and drinking in short sips. "There's nothing to do but wait for it to pass."

"How long?"

"If I had to guess, five or..." She stopped herself short, taking another slow sip of water. "Five or six hours." She coughed weakly, standing up a little straighter. "I've never used such a high-output spell outside of a controlled--"

Her cough reappeared, violently enough to send her back to clutching her chest, and she wobbled precariously on unsteady legs. I rushed forward to catch her shoulders, holding her still as her shaking hands sent little splashes of water flying from her glass.

This was difficult to watch. "You're certain there's nothing I can do for you?" I asked gently as her coughs slowed.

"Yes," she wheezed, her arms dangling limply as she leaned into me. "There's no need for you to--"

Crash. The half-empty glass of water slipped from her fingers as her coughing started again, and she clutched my shoulder and bent double against me, choking on her own breath.

That was the final straw. I flexed my right arm, testing its range of motion; it still wasn't back to 100% after being wounded with silver, but I could move it well enough for what I planned to do. Bending my knees and slipping an arm free, I swept her legs out from under her, picking her up in a single motion. Her eyes went wide as both hands flew to her mouth, and for an awful moment, I thought she was going to throw up on me right there and then; fortunately, she managed to restrain herself, returning to another set of wracking coughs.

"P... put me down," she finally managed, glaring up at me as menacingly as she could while in my arms (which, incidentally, wasn't really very menacing at all).

"No," I said simply. "I'll be seeing you home. You need to rest, at the least, and I won't have you collapsing on the streets." She wasn't much bigger than me, and her weight was nothing against my strength, but I still had to shift myself to get us into a comfortable position for walking. "How do I get to your house?"

She frowned up at me for a long moment, and I thought back to earlier, when I was talking with Michel. Was she really still so suspicious that she wouldn't allow me to see where she lived?

"...Fine," she finally answered before reaching into a pocket and pulling out a small key. "Use this on the entryway door."

A key? There must be another way out through the back, I realized, and she wanted to lock the front door before we went. Satisfied, I opened the hand around her shoulders, and she dropped the key into it before we began walking again.

"You understand that I'm only allowing you to do this because I have no means with which to fight back," she muttered at me as we went, tucking her chin into her chest. "It's utterly demeaning." She was flushed bright red, I noticed, from some combination of fever and embarrassment, and her eyes didn't meet mine as she spoke.

So defiant! The urge to tease her was nearly unbearable, but I somehow managed to resist. "And I'm only doing this because I know you're in no condition to move of your own accord." We reached the door, and I twisted awkwardly to fit the key into the lock, bending forward over her as I twisted it with my fingers.

"Although I'll gladly do it for you again whenever you ask," I whispered before straightening back up and removing the key.

...I managed to resist for a while, anyway.

"You...!" She blushed even more deeply, and bit her lip so hard that I thought she might draw blood. "...vampire," she finished weakly, before collapsing into another coughing fit. I turned away from the door, but stayed still, giving her time to recover so she could tell me where the other exit was.

It was a long wait before she spoke again, though; her coughing seemed shallower now, but it went on for a long time. "Where..." she gasped, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Where are you going? Go through the door."

The door I had just locked? "And how am I supposed to do that?" I asked, turning back to the door and wiggling the knob for added effect. "I just..." To my surprise, the knob turned with no resistance, and the door swung open as soon as I let go, opening...

...Into a bedroom. Gone were the narrow stairs leading up into the alleyway and the cool night air that should have been behind this doorway; instead, I was standing directly across from a huge four-poster bed, covered in layers of blankets. Disbelieving, I stuck my head through the doorway, half-expecting the room to collapse into illusion; what I got instead was a whiff of lavender scent from inside and a good look at all four walls of what was most assuredly a ordinary room inside a ordinary building that could not possibly be behind this door. "How...?" I asked quietly.

"That would be 'magic'." Patchouli's voice carried just a hint of superiority. "Now, if you don't mind, I would like to go to bed."

Magic that could change where doors lead to? This was far beyond anything that I had ever seen, no matter how casually she spoke of it. I took a tentative step through the doorway, examining the room as I walked towards the bed.It was relatively plain, for a noblewoman; the bed had simple cotton covers and a single plain white pillow, with none of the adornments that a typical lady of the court might have. The walls were mostly bare, with a fully loaded bookcase on the wall to the right, next to a small writing desk and an uncomfortable-looking chair sitting under the window -- were we on the second floor?

I laid Patchouli on the bed as she began to cough again and stepped back, looking around for another glass of water or something to give her. As I did, though, she reached out herself, seizing a ornate jar from the nightstand with surprising speed and downing a teaspoon full of whatever was inside.

If anything, it seemed to make things worse; her coughing grew more violent immediately, and she sat up in bed, clutching her chest. "T..." she finally choked out after the fit had passed. "Turn around. I'm going to change into my nightclothes."

Turn around? By this point, the idea of taking my eyes off of her made me a little nervous; it sounded like she was actually going to choke sooner or later. Still, if she wasn't worried herself, it wouldn't make any difference how worried I was. "We're both ladies, you know," I said brightly, turning away from her and walking over to the window.

"And yet I find myself more uneasy about allowing you in here than I would a gentlemen," she shot back, moving about noisily behind me. I replied with a laugh, leaning myself heavily against her desk as I looked out onto the streets below.

I was tired. My body had recovered from the fight almost fully, but the soreness that came from breaking in a new set of muscles was still there in full force. Looking down from the window, I could see where the magic door had taken us; it would be a long walk from here, but... no, there wasn't any way I was making it there before the sun rose, I realized, looking to the rapidly brightening sky over the horizon. I was oversensitive after all I had done today; even through the window, I could feel the persistent pain of the sun's rays from just this level of light.

"You may turn around now," Patchouli said. She had already tucked herself under the covers up to her chin, and seeing her head alone visible against the backdrop of her huge bed made her look even smaller than she was. Sighing, I closed the window blinds, taking the chair from the writing desk and pulling it over by Patchouli's bedside.

"You're staying?" she asked as I sat down.

"Until the sun sets again, I'm afraid," I replied, leaning back against the hard wood of the chair, trying to make myself comfortable.

"I told you not to trouble yourself." She turned her back on me as she spoke, coughing slightly as she settled herself under the covers.

"I know." I yawned quietly, putting my feet up against the frame of the bed and resting my head on the chair's backrest.

"I could have gotten back by myself without any problem."

"I know."

"...I do appreciate the gesture, though."

"...Good night, Patchouli."

"Good night, Remilia."

Sleep came easily.

---

For the first time in a long while, I woke up to the warm light of the sun on my face.

The pleasure of nostalgia at such a feeling, however, was drowned out by the pain of sunburn on my exposed skin, and I pulled the covers over my head to let myself heal. As soon as I had, the overwhelming urge to simply allow myself to fall back to sleep hit, and I laid my head back down against the sheets for a moment, closing my eyes.

Even as I did, though, I could tell that something still wasn't right. Out of the sun, I felt much calmer, but there was still something else bothering me; a more intangible feeling, like the kind I got from being near silver. Moaning slightly, I forced myself to sit up, keeping myself under the covers as I did, and examine my situation.

This was Patchouli's bed, as far as I could tell; the sheets and blanket were the same, and her scent was all over the room. Patchouli herself, on the other hand, seemed to be absent; I couldn't hear her heart nearby. Had she put me in her bed? What time was it, anyway?

Crawling to the foot of the bed, I poked my head out from under the blankets, scanning the room for the source of my discomfort. I found it easily: a thin circle of small, pinkish-white flowers, scattered around the bed. I crawled out of bed, moving closer to examine them, but it only confirmed my original guess: garlic blossoms, mixed with some sort of barrier magic. Looking closer, there seemed to be something else mixed in as well; a coarse, off-white powder with a strangely familiar smell, almost like...

...bread. "Crumbled host?" I said aloud, giggling to myself; it seemed that Patchouli hadn't believed what I had said about symbols of religion having no effect on me.

Either way, though, it wasn't anything special. However long I had slept had apparently been long enough; I was still hungry, but I felt great otherwise, and breaking through this barrier didn't look like it would be any challenge at all. On the other hand, being in Patchouli's room without Patchouli present was an invitation to look around that I found hard to resist, and there were plenty of interesting things still inside the circle.

[ ] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.
[ ] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.
[ ] I broke through the barrier and left. I had no desire to stay, and something like this was an insult to my abilities.
- [ ] Where to? (Write-in)
>> No. 31531
[x] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.

Vampire needs rest badly.
>> No. 31532
[x] I broke through the barrier and left. I had no desire to stay, and something like this was an insult to my abilities.
[x]Back to the scarlet veil headquarters.
>> No. 31534
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.

Nosy~
>> No. 31536
[ ] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.

Might see something interesting.
>> No. 31537
[B] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.
>> No. 31538
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.

It'll be more fun to break through the barrier after she gets back.
>> No. 31539
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.

Yeah and it'd be funny if Remy found something interesting.
>> No. 31540
[x] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.
>> No. 31544
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.
>> No. 31547
[X] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.
>> No. 31576
[x] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.
>> No. 31589
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.
>> No. 31591
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.
>> No. 31597
[x] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.
>> No. 31602
[x] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.
>> No. 31608
File 125355831388.jpg - (306.38KB , 1113x1600 , 041_546ra.jpg ) [iqdb]
31608
I wonder what our meeting with sakuya is going to be like.
>> No. 31654
>>31608
I cannot describe how creepy that is.
>> No. 31737
File 125358064461.jpg - (61.27KB , 640x590 , NSFW Image.jpg ) [iqdb]
31737
>>31654
>> No. 31770
[x] I ignored the barrier and went back to sleep. Patchouli might have set it up for a good reason, and I didn't feel like bothering to break it.

Just because Remi must look adorable when she's sleeping.
>> No. 31772
>>31654

If you think that's bad, I'd love to see you react to the rest of that doujin segment. It gets way creepier.
>> No. 31867
>>31772
do want
>> No. 31871
>>31867
[MARTAL] 東方自慰合同本「一人幻想」
http://www.4shared.com/file/134080733/3e45c89e/
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=S1V5RB9Q
Enjoy!
>> No. 31906
File 125408968799.jpg - (47.71KB , 686x398 , garrosh.jpg ) [iqdb]
31906
>>31871
>Masturbation loop ruining the cocksucking scene
>> No. 31926
File 125419066131.png - (246.67KB , 813x849 , 10.png ) [iqdb]
31926
[X] I looked around the room from within the confines of the barrier. Best to play by her rules, if only to humor her.

I yawned again, tucking my head back under the covers. As tempting as it may have been, breaking Patchouli's barrier probably wouldn't make her any fonder of me. Besides, the circle included most of her room, and there were sure to be plenty of interesting things to do while I waited to be released.

First on the list, though, was getting rid of that sunlight. Grabbing a pillow to hold out to block the sun, I crawled out from under the blanket, wincing as the light from the open window hit my skin. Tucking my uncovered arms and face behind my makeshift shield, I made my way towards the window, reaching towards it and... stopping short as my feet reached the edge of the circle, a few feet away from the desk.

Drat. I reached out, my hand a few inches over the line on the floor, and felt the invisible barrier wrap around my fingers, stinging my skin as it physically pushed me back within the boundary. The pain was nothing serious, and I could have reached the drawstring for the blinds without the coercive force of the magic pushing me back, but touching something on the other side would have broken the barrier, exactly what I was trying to avoid. Pulling my hand back out of the sun, I retreated to the shade of behind the bed to plan my next move.

Or, rather, to prepare my next move; if I couldn't reach it physically, that left magic, and magic meant gathering energy. Whatever spell Patchouli had cast on the circle made it difficult to gather from outside, though, and the space left was too narrow to provide very much; it took me a few minutes before I was ready. Once I was, I looked out from behind the bed, aiming a telekinesis spell at the blinds and pulling.

And missing my target by a wide margin, knocking a book off of the desk in the process. I cursed under my breath, trying again, and missed in the opposite direction, a small spiderweb crack forming in the window as the spell tried to pull the glass towards me. Another shot hit the leg of the desk, carving a notch into it and making the old wood groan with stress.

This was going nowhere; it seemed the circle had some way of interfering with my spells, too. I wasn't that good with magic in the first place, beyond simple spells like the ones that made fire and light, especially compared to Patchouli; if she had decided that she didn't want me casting spells through that barrier, it seemed unlikely that I could manage to get around it.

Hmph. Very well, then; if she wanted the window open, then she would have the window open, but she might find a few other things opened as well. I stood from behind the bed, still holdiing the pillow to shield myself, and took another look around the room for something interesting to get into. At first, nothing presented itself to me; Patchouli's room was rather bare, and with her bookshelf outside my reach on the same wall as the writing desk under the window, nearly all her furniture was accounted for.

She did have a nightstand, though, and I crawled back onto the bed, looking around for something interesting. My eyes immediately caught on the container she kept her cough medicine in; an ornate jar, made of finely painted porcelain, with the single word "Laudanum" engraved into the side; no medicine I'd ever heard of, but it didn't seem magical at all. I leaned over, peering down into the container, but the smell repelled me almost instantly, and I replaced the lid in a hurry and kept looking, pulling open the nightstand's drawer to look inside. A hairbrush, extra candles... aha!

Well, what had we here? A small book with a plain, brown cover and a simple binding without any frills, tucked against the back of the drawer. Completely ordinary, if not for the small latch and padlock over the edge opposite the spine, fastening the covers together.

"A diary?" Now this was interesting. I didn't bother searching for the key; Patchouli didn't seem like the type to go to the trouble of locking something, then leave the means of unlocking it lying around. I examined the enchantments on the lock, just for completeness, but to no avail; I could barely understand them, let alone try to remove them with any finesse.

I was far too irritated for finesse by this point, though. Gathering a small amount of energy and converting it directly to strength, I looped a finger between the bars of the padlock and pulled. The metal groaned loudly, bending at the point where the two parts of the lock met, before snapping entirely, dropping its broken pieces into my hand.

...No, not snapping, I realized; the lock had actually opened, and I was left holding the unlocked diary and the unbroken lock.

How interesting. I examined the device more closely, twisting it around a few times, before closing it again and trying to reopen it in the same way. Sure enough, it sprung open as soon as I applied enough physical force to start to bend the metal itself. Perhaps the magic couldn't defend from physical attacks, and it unlocked as a fail safe to prevent itself from being broken? It was a shame I couldn't figure out how to examine the spells on it any further.

Oh, well; either way, I had what I wanted now. Grinning ear to ear, I flipped open the book, skimming through the first few pages.

...Well, it wasn't a diary. At least, not in any traditional sense; though the pages were dates, there were none of the rambling monologues or pining over secret loves that I had hoped to find. Indeed, there weren't very many words at all; there were a few scribbles that looked like notes scrawled in the margin, but they were in a sharp, angular script I didn't recognize as belonging to any language. What filled the pages instead were shapes; circles, mostly, with a few triangles and stars mixed in, each one filled with other geometric constructions packed so close together that the pages had more black than white. Numbers, too; every angle and distance was marked with a number, like an architect's blueprints, and I spotted some hastily scrawled arithmetic done in the corners of a few pages.

More noticeable than anything, though, was the magical energy, flowing through the loops and bends of each structure like water through pipes. I was amazed I hadn't noticed this amount of power before; even with the dampening effect of the barrier around me, any of these circles could have produced a fairly major spell.

That was, of course, if you knew how to use it. The basic principle of a magic circle was altering the ambient magical energy to suit a particular sort of spell, increasing its utility for certain spells while making it useless for others. I remembered how to draw simple circles, but even those I had memorized by rote, and with only the barest understanding of the theory behind them, decoding the spells that these circles were intended to power was impossible for me. All I could tell was that whatever those spells were, they must have been amazingly complex; even the smallest among them filled half a page with dozens overlapping shapes, and the largest spread itself over two full pages, and must have had at least a thousand components. It was really quite amazing.

...and yet, somehow boring. Didn't this girl have any hobbies besides magic? Sighing, I flopped back onto the bed, laying on my back and holding the book over my head while riffling through the pages, hoping that something interesting would catch my eye.

Something interesting caught the bridge of my nose instead, though, falling from between the pages and hitting me smack in the face with enough force to sting.

"Oww..." I rubbed my nose, picking up the piece of paper that had fallen and holding it in front of my face. It was... a portrait? No, a reduction of a portrait; I could see the grid lines beneath it, probably penciled in by Patchouli herself. There were no colors, just pencil lines, and it wasn't finished, with the lower half of the grid still blank.

The part that was filled in showed four people, lined up before the typically drab background of a portrait setting, and I recognized Patchouli instantly, along with Michel and Henri on either end of the group. In the middle with Patchouli, though, was... who? I moved the piece of paper closer, squinting to make out its features from the tiny pencil lines. It was definitely a woman, with shoulder-length hair and huge, ostentatious earrings, big enough to see even in this smaller reproduction; rather full-figured, too, judging by her face and upper body. Anything more than that was--

"What are you doing?"

I lowered the paper, lifting my head off the bed to look at the source of the voice: a rather furious-looking Patchouli, standing at the foot of the bed, arms crossed.

Oops. I had intended to at least put everything away before she got back, but I suppose I must have been too distracted to hear her come in.

Well, the only way to act now was naturally. "Reading your diary," I said, returning my attention to the book.

Or, at least, to where the book was a second ago. When I looked up again, though, it was no longer in my hand; both it and the piece of paper with the portrait were back in Patchouli's hands. How... when did they move? Was that telekinesis, or pure teleportation? I didn't hear any incantation, and she was still standing on the other side of the barrier. Again, I found myself wondering just how far advanced Patchouli's magic must have been, compared to mine.

"Perhaps you really believe this is an appropriate way to react to hospitality?" she said acidly, snapping the book shut with a single hand.

"Hospitality? If I invited you into my home, I wouldn't lock you in your room," I said, gesturing to the magic circle on the floor.

She looked down for a moment before taking a small step forward, dragging the toe of her boot across the circle as she went, breaking it slightly. "I didn't want to have to track you down again if you left," she said, not looking at me as she strode to her nightstand and returned the book to its original location.

"A note telling me as much would have sufficed."

"Yes, because it's clear you hold my desires in high regard, compared to your own enjoyment." She turned back around without looking at me, walking back towards the door. "I'm going back to the Scarlet Veil now," she said without turning around. I jumped from the bed to follow her, crossing the newly broken circle with just a small shiver of revulsion at the garlic blossoms, and the two of us exited through her bedroom door.

...back into the Scarlet Veil's headquarters. I did a small double-take at the sudden change from wallpaper and sun streaming through the windows to the dark silence of the basement room. So that magic from last night worked in both directions? Simply amazing. I couldn't help but wonder how it worked on a magical level, even if I knew I wouldn't understand the explanation.

It didn't look like Patchouli wanted to hear anything out of me, though; she continued walking back to the center of the room, where the chairs sat, and removed a pile of papers from the table, throwing them into the chair I had used yesterday before throwing herself into her own chair rather heavily. "Those are the police files Michel found," she said shortly, before turning her attention to a few pieces of paper in her own lap on which she was writing.

My word. Had I really done enough to upset her that badly? I took my seat and glanced across the table at her impassive expression. Perhaps I should say something?

[ ] I apologized to Patchouli. Barrier or no barrier, I suppose I had violated her privacy a little too much.
[ ] I hadn't done anything that deserved this level of anger.

[ ] I examined the police files in silence. There was no use in trying to talk to Patchouli; not while she was like this.
[ ] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [ ] The other girl in the portrait.
- [ ] The police files.
- [ ] The magic she used on the doors.
- [ ] What she was writing.
- [ ] Her illness.
- [ ] Write-in.

---

Keep in mind that it's my convention to take the order of options on votes like this as an order of preference, and that an interruption midway through a conversation may result in only the top few options getting covered.
>> No. 31927
[x] I hadn't done anything that deserved this level of anger.
Remilia's prideful.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] Her illness.
- [x] The police files.
>> No. 31928
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Barrier or no barrier, I suppose I had violated her privacy a little too much.
[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.
- [x] The magic she used on the doors.
- [x] The other girl in the portrait.

I'm sure we're curious about who that lady is, and it's after the fact, and even though we're apologizing for the breech of privacy, we can't unsee certain things.

Too bad we didn't find a bra of hers; that'd be a nice moment of humor.
>> No. 31929
[x] I examined the police files in silence. There was no use in trying to talk to Patchouli; not while she was like this.
>> No. 31936
[X] I hadn't done anything that deserved this level of anger.

Never apologize. Death would be better. Still, though...

[X] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [X] First of all, thanking her for her help yesterday.
- [X] Who IS she, really? Certainly not just a simple girl dabbling in magic.
- [X] Her illness.

First time voter here. This story is fantastic, thanks for writing it.
>> No. 31938
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Barrier or no barrier, I suppose I had violated her privacy a little too much.
[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.
- [x] The magic she used on the doors.
- [x] The other girl in the portrait.
>> No. 31939
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Barrier or no barrier, I suppose I had violated her privacy a little too much.
[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.
- [x] The magic she used on the doors.
- [x] The other girl in the portrait.
>> No. 31940
>>31936
I second this post.
>> No. 31941
[B] I hadn't done anything that deserved this level of anger.
[B] I examined the police files in silence. There was no use in trying to talk to Patchouli; not while she was like this.
>> No. 31942
[X] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [X] The police files.
- [X] What she was writing.
>> No. 31949
[X] I hadn't done anything that deserved this level of anger.
[X] I examined the police files in silence. There was no use in trying to talk to Patchouli; not while she was like this.
>> No. 31954
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.
>> No. 31955
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.

I like this better
>> No. 31961
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.
>> No. 31963
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.
>> No. 31966
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] The police files.
- [x] Her illness.

>Never apologize. Death would be better.
Remi's prideful but pragmatic. She's not the type to let her ego get in the way of her goals.
>> No. 32009
[x] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.

[x] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [x] Her illness.
- [x] The other girl in the portrait.

Also a first-time voter (actually, completely new to this board) and very happy to have stumbled on this non-h, nicely written story. Staking out.
>> No. 32010
>>32009

Nice to see new people take interest, do take note in that this particular "writefag" has a tendency to take days or weeks to update this particular story.

in fact those goes for his other ones as well

Do try checking out some other stories in the variety of sections on THP; you may never know if you find something that catches your interests~!
>> No. 32012
>>32009

And do keep on voting in general; it helps things along regardless of how stacked or futile your choice is.
>> No. 32013
>>32012
Indeed, writefags have this weird fetish for wanting more and more votes, somewhat understandable too, since it's their only way of gauging interest in their stories. More people should probably check out the story suggestions thread on /th/, if only to have more readers for the more obscure stories.
>> No. 32014
>>32013
Well, not just votes; discussion in general helps to put a smile on the writefag's face, too.

Of course, the other extreme is coming back to some ~60-70 replies to the latest update overnight...
>> No. 32015
>>32014

Well I mean it, many writers might have to make due with 2-3 votes, a few getting disgruntled about it. (Not me though, I understand the problems and it beats getting 1 or no vote)

This isn't a problem for Glasnost, but then again, he updates once a month at quickest.

But for those who seek to update faster, it's a pain. And updating with 0-1 votes would defeat the point of making a CYOA.

And writefags do vote for other stories, just not using their trips (in the case a bad write in could be traced and such)

But I'm using mine as to point out things from a writefag's view.

One last note the seeming lack of votes in some stories are causing some ignorant anons to panic.

I do hope he updates this soon.
>> No. 32025
File 125507428281.png - (0.95MB , 800x932 , 11.png ) [iqdb]
32025
>>31936
>>31940
>>32009
Glad you like it.

>>32015
>he updates once a month at quickest.
Lies! Lies and slander! Okay, more like exaggerations and libel, but still.

---

[X] I apologized to Patchouli. Reluctantly, quietly, briefly, wasting as few words as possible on the whole ordeal. Like magic, apologies were something I wasn't terribly good with. Call it pride, call it whatever you like.
[X] I talked to Patchouli about...
- [X] The police files.
- [X] Her illness.

I scooped up the files from the chair and sat down, thumbing through them halfheartedly without actually reading them as I looked across the short table at Patchouli. She was absorbed in her writing task with an energy clearly born of anger, the tip of her quill pen flicking up and down like an angry insect. She raised her eyes to mine for an instant, only to lower them again, clench her jaw, and continue once she saw that I was watching her.

I sighed. If she was this angry, then conversation would be impossible, and while I had no desire to apologize for any and all perceived affronts to her delicate sensibilities, I had even less desire to bore myself dumb with paperwork.

"Patchouli," I said, setting the files in my lap. Best to get it over with quickly and with as little pain as possible, like pulling off a scab. "I would--"

"Yes?" she responded, cutting me off with a reproachful glare and a venomous response.

"I..." Of course, she wasn't going to make it easy for me, and I hadn't had any scabs to pull off for several hundred years. "I would like to apologize for my actions." My eyes drifted to the floor, avoiding Patchouli's gaze. I'd like to say it was a calculated action, undertaken to make her empathize with me, but that would be a lie. "I inexcusably violated your privacy, and it was wrong of me to do so."

"...I see." Her frown waned, giving way to a more neutral expression of consideration as she stared at me.

And stared. And stared. Before long, I found myself in a state of discomfort I hadn't experienced for quite some time, shifting anxiously under her gaze. Did she have anything else to say, or--

"You're forgiven," she said suddenly, giving a small cough and looking away. "Please don't do it again." And with that, she was back to her writing, quill pen scratching noisily against paper.

Or was she? I kept watching as her hand slowed, face lost in thought, and she opened her mouth several times as though to speak, only to close it again without saying anything. Eventually, her period of introspection passed, and she returned to her task for good, but her face still betrayed something on her mind.

I knew well enough how likely she was to appreciate my asking just what that something was, though, and kept silent. At least we were apparently on speaking terms now, I thought to myself, and, mind set at ease, I raised the police files to eye level again and began reading from the top of the page.

'The Paris Prefecture of Police, being allowed jurisdiction over the Versailles region of Yvelines under special dispensation of the Sûreté Nationale, arrived at the scene after being alerted by the Baroness of Houdement Her Lady...' Ugh. I encountered more than enough obsessive behavior over titles and dutiesin daily life to be forced to put up with it in my reading as well. I skimmed through the bulk of the document, trying to pick up the important details.

"The discoverers of the corpses were given one (1) small glass of brandy for the purpose of calming the nerves and..." Skip. ''Of greatest interest is the fact that arbitration over the validity of the victim's will at the scene was...' Greatest interest to whom, exactly? 'Witnesses described the baroness's jewelry as "opulent"...' Was this really a police report?

I had no patience for this drivel. "Have you already read this?" I asked Patchouli, holding the files up to her.

"Yes," she answered simply, without looking up from her writing.

"Care to summarize it for me?"

She sighed, finally looking up from her work to roll her eyes at me. "The Paris Prefecture of Police, being allowed jurisdiction over the Versailles region..."

I furrowed my brow, looking back down at the papers. This all sounded a little too familiar.

"..after being alerted by the Baroness of Houdement Her--"

"I said 'summarize', not 'repeat verbatim'." I frowned at her, sneaking another glance back down at the paper. "Did you memorize this entire thing?" I asked incredulously.

She paused, and a smile flashed past her lips for an instant. "No, no. I just remember it all."

"That's the same--"

"Marcel and Simone Beauchamp were found dead in their room, with their only obvious injury being a bite on the neck." Her eyes closed as she spoke, as though reciting from memory. "The only entrance to the room had to be broken down, being locked from the inside, and nobody was found hiding in the room." She coughed lightly, opening her eyes. "The window was unlocked and open, but deemed irrelevant, as it opens to a sheer drop of three stories, impossible to scale."

"For a human," I said. "So all we've learned is what we already knew, that the murderer was the vampire." I riffled through the stack of papers again. "What about the other one, the lamplighter? Is there anything in here about that in here?"

She took a breath out and closed her eyes again. "Alexandre Alphonse was found on the Rue d'Angiviller, skull crushed and virtually every long bone in his body broken, and with a bloody trail several meters long leading up to his body."

"A trail? Like footprints?"

Patchouli shook her head once. "Like a smear. The theory put forth in the report is that he was dragged by a horse." She leaned forward, setting her papers on the table, and I thought I saw a hint of excitement in her eyes as she opened them this time. "The discovery of an overcoat believed to belong to him, caught in a tree on the estate of a Count Lambinet, is still under investigation."

"The Lambinet mansion? That's--"

"Down the street, approximately one hundred meters away," she interrupted, tabling my question with a wave of her hand and continuing. "The police theory doesn't have a way to account for the pattern found in the trail, though. It has breaks, you see, gaps of up to two meters long between segments of the trail, apparently indicating that he was lifted from the road at various points!"

What was she so excited about? "And?"

"I've done the calculations, and the truth of the matter is simple." She hurriedly thumbed through a few of the papers from her stack until finding what she was looking for: a page full of equations, lettered in bright red ink, scattered around a simple diagram of a rough quarter arc marked with an X at both ends, which she spun around on the table and thrusted towards me. "An acceleration of approximately 20 meters per second, starting from the northern balcony on the second floor of the estate, hitting the tree on which the coat was found, then losing the remainder of his momentum against the street. It fits the data perfectly!"

"Acceleration..." My head spun; mathematics wasn't my strong suit, and the formulas she presented meant less than nothing to me, but what she was saying... "So he... jumped?"

"I expect that any human that could jump a city block could also manage to effect a landing," she said with a frown and a cough. "No, he was thrown the length of a block at roughly 70 kilometers per hour." She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, clearly satisfied by her conclusion. "No bite is recorded in the police files, but after finding this, I sent Henri to the morgue to check on him. It's there, but he hasn't regenerated, and the flesh around the bite's already putrefied. He wasn't turned, but he was bitten."

That was it? "So he was attacked as a meal, then the vampire got rid of him," I said with a shrug. "Does that give us any information that..." Isn't useless? "...will lead us to it?"

"All information appears useless until its use is found," she said sharply, seeing through my lukewarm attempt at politeness. "More importantly, that Newton's Principa has the power to deconstruct such a complicated system of forces is--"

"Whose principles?"

Patchouli's face fell, and I was treated once again to that disgusted squint she seemed to reserve for particularly stupid questions. "Never mind," she huffed, clearing her throat loudly before returning her papers to her lap and beginning to write again.

So much for that line of conversation. "Your cough seems to have improved," I said, setting the police files aside and leaning back in my own chair.

"I believe I told you several times that it would," she replied sharply, without looking up, in a tone that signaled the end of a conversation.

But my curiosity hadn't run out yet. She had ruled out tuberculosis as a possibility, but I couldn't think of any other diseases that could cause a coughing fit as violent as hers, but be gone by the next day. It seemed to be related to her magic, somehow, but that wasn't particularly surprising; the process of gathering and releasing magical energy tended to be rather hard on the physical components of the body, especially for those who were already weakened by some other illness.

Still, there was really no appropriate way to broach the topic of what someone you had known for no more than a few days was afflicted with, especially in those times, when nearly everything was a fatal disease.

I had no intention of letting decorum hold me back, though. "May I ask about--"

"You may not." Again, she looked up from her notes, not angry, this time, but... resolute, somehow, and spoke up again before I could. "My ailment manifests as temporary pulmonary and cardiac insufficiency. I am in no danger of dying from its symptoms, no matter how extreme they become, it is aggravated by my use of magic, cannot be transmitted to others, and cannot be cured." Her spiel finished, she looked away again. "That should answer all of your questions. I don't intend to discuss the matter any further."

Can't be cured or transmitted? "So is it a curse or something, then? What's it called?"

She sighed, bowing her head and pinching the bridge of her nose. "How long ago was it that you promised to respect my privacy?" she asked.

"How boring." I knew I was treading on thin ice, but when she tried to make herself sound so serious, it was impossible to resist teasing her a little. "If I guess right, will you tell me what it is?" I asked, a singsong lilt in my voice.

"What? Why would I--"

She cut herself short with a gasp and a smile rolled up into one expression, apparently pleased by some sudden realization. "Yes, just like the folk story from the east, isn't it? And the name you're after is much more common," she murmured, half to herself, a hint of a drawl entering her voice.

"Very well," she said, looking up at me with a smile in her eyes. "You may have three guesses, one per day, beginning today. I don't intend to wager my right to privacy without something in return, though."

"What did you have in mind?" I asked, my own expression shifting to mirror hers.

"If you can't guess my ailment in three tries, you'll be subject to me when deciding to stay or go." She shoved her papers off of her lab onto the table again, scooting her chair closer to me as she spoke. "When we end this business with the other vampire, if I tell you to leave and never darken my doorstep again, you will do so without complaint."

"And if I succeed?"

She laughed shortly and humorlessly; so smug I could almost feel it. "Should you guess correctly, heaven forbid, you will have gained the knowledge you seek, and you may pester me until the end of days without complaint from me. Are those terms acceptable?"

[ ] I accepted the offer.
[ ] I declined the off--

Hah. As if I would turn down such a brazen challenge.

"I'll accept your terms," I said with a wide grin, leaning forward and extending a hand over the table.

"I trust you'll honor our agreement, even if I don't sign it in blood?" she asked, returning a thin-lipped smile of her own as we shook on the deal.

"Naturally. No self-respecting demon would go back on her word." I leaned back slightly, stretching the muscles in my back and flaring my wings out behind me for effect.

"Now, then, as for my first guess..."

[ ] I made my first guess. I suspected it was a curse, and I knew enough of black magic to make an educated guess. (Write-in guess.)
[ ] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.

---

It should go without saying that there will be no baiting-and-switching with regard to Patchouli's challenge; if you happen to guess correctly right here and now, I'll roll with it, no matter how badly it messes up my plan for this subplot.
>> No. 32027
>"My ailment manifests as temporary pulmonary and cardiac insufficiency. I am in no danger of dying from its symptoms, no matter how extreme they become, it is aggravated by my use of magic, cannot be transmitted to others, and cannot be cured."
>"And the name you're after is much more common."
[x] I made my first guess. I suspected it was a curse, and I knew enough of black magic to make an educated guess.
-- [x] Asthma (bronchial/cardiac)
Despite the 'curse' comments, I just can't see how it can be anything else. Patchouli's EoSD profile even says she was born with asthma, and the symptoms seem to match up.

If it's not asthma & is actually a curse of some sort, I have no idea what it could be.
>> No. 32028
Hm. The only thing that comes to mind is Undine's Curse, but I doubt that's correct. Its symptoms are similar to those Patchouli exhibits, there's the obvious connection in the name, and it was most commonly exhibited and studied in France... but similar is not the same, and it's actually a mundane ailment that can very well be lethal. Still, it would seem to be the obvious guess should we wish for Remi to hazard one right away.

I don't think we want to, though. Attempting to research and make educated guesses will probably impress Patchouli even if we ultimately fail to find the answer - maybe even more than if we were to pop out with the correct answer right now. I'm not much into the whole black magic deal, though, so if anyone else happens to have a copy of The Big Wiccan Book of Historical European Witchcraft, get to lookin.
>> No. 32029
[x] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.
>> No. 32034
[x] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.

>>32028
>if anyone else happens to have a copy of The Big Wiccan Book of Historical European Witchcraft, get to lookin

I'm on it!
>> No. 32035
[x] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.
>> No. 32036
[x] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.
>> No. 32037
[x] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.
>> No. 32039
[ℤℯ] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.

My money's on asthma, too. But yeah, let's wait.
>> No. 32062
She's asthmatic and anemic, officially, I believe...
>> No. 32095
>implying he'll actually use those because its obvious
>> No. 32132
File 125582386687.jpg - (954.49KB , 1465x2000 , 0a921bb25a1dcb47dfcf5f4c5cfe90ce.jpg ) [iqdb]
32132
Remilia is not pleased with the rate of updates.
>> No. 32137
File 125592155474.jpg - (149.29KB , 650x750 , 12.jpg ) [iqdb]
32137
I don't think I'm capable of writing small updates anymore. I started this one yesterday thinking it'd be 1000 words and done, and here I am the next day at double that size with the end finally visible on the horizon.

>>32132
I can think of worse ways to die.

>>32062
Yeah, I'm not using those, but I do prefer to stick to canon when feasible, so I'll explain why I'm not in this case.
Asthma, in its present medical definition, is more like a symptom than a disease, considering its unclear causes and high comorbidity with other respiratory diseases. Incidentally, I see now that "pulmonary insufficiency" actually refers to a heart problem; what I seem to have meant was "bronchial insufficiency," which covers the definition of asthma for most purposes. Remember, folks, I'm not a doctor, I just play one on THP.
Anemia, as it turns out, doesn't appear in any of ZUN's profiles of her, so it may not actually be canon, but I honestly wouldn't really feel too bad about ignoring it either way, given its overuse by the lazier of Japanese authors who don't want to bother coming up with a real disease for their token ill girl to have. Seriously, there are at least a dozen different types, and very few of them cause only the symptoms "inability to exert yourself" and "moe." And while I'm on my soapbox, you can't properly "feel a little anemic," unless you have some superhuman ability to count the number of blood cells in your body at any given time; feeling "lightheaded," "dizzy," or "weak" are all acceptable alternatives.
...So yeah.

---

[X] I decided to wait to make my guess. There might be time for research later in the day.

"...I think I'll make it later today," I said. If I had the whole day, I intended to make use of it; even if I didn't get a chance to do any research, just watching Patchouli may give me more clues.

"As you wish," Patchouli said, the smallest of laughs in her voice. "Of course, you're welcome to make use of my library, if you find you need some help. I'm sure the answer is somewhere in there," she continued, her superior smile growing even wider as she gestured with one arm to the shelves behind her.

Tch. She really was quite self-assured, wasn't she? Still, I knew she wouldn't have made the offer unless she thought that I would be unable to win either way, and as much as it rankled my pride to admit it, she was probably right. Anyone with the slightest familiarity with the practice of medicine in those times could see how rapidly things were changing, with the teachings of Galen that had persisted for over a millennium having nearly vanished, and it was only beginning to become clear how little man truly knew about himself. And to add centuries of magical arcana, painstakingly kept secret by their discoverers, if her disease was magical in nature...

"How generous of you. I believe I will accept that offer," I said with a tight smile, standing from my chair and walking past her to the low bookshelves across the room. It seemed that it might become necessary to cut the Gordian knot and find out what I needed to know through other means if I intended to win this little challenge. Surely Michel and Henri knew what her ailment was, and might be willing to share that information? I stored the idea in the back of my mind as a last resort as I stood before the closest of the bookcases.

The books themselves were surprisingly well-maintained, considering their number; four large bookshelves, each holding at least a hundred books. There were a few more weathered tomes slipped in among them, but none were falling apart, and it didn't look like there was even much dust on them. Several of them, I noticed, had even been re-bound, the crisp leather of their cover clashing with the yellowed pages inside. What was lacking, however, was any semblance of organization; "On Agrippa's Philosophy of the Occult" was right next to "Zoroaster and the Gathas", and some books were turned sideways to fit into the limited shelf space.

Ah, well; it's not as though I knew what I was looking for, anyway. I looked down the shelf, pulling out the occasional book that caught my interest. Liber Juratus... could be an interesting read, if I could force myself to look past the stifling adherence to Christian magic and its dogmas. Grimorium Verum... new age trash. I had seen this one floating around for the past few decades, marketed as more of Solomon's magic, despite its inability to get even the most basic of facts correct. "Alibeck the Egyptian," indeed. Galdrabók... in the original Icelandic? Just how many languages did Patchouli know? Malleus Maleficarum... now this held promise, especially if Patchouli was the victim of a curse. I pulled it from the shelf, skipping over the first chapter (endless blathering about a proof that witches exist) and landing roughly in the middle of the book.

"Of the Method by which they can Inflict Every Sort of Infirmity, generally Ills of the Graver Kind..." Perfect. I closed the book, using my finger to mark the page, and continued down the stacks, looking for a few more to take back to the comfortable chair near Patchouli and read.

I didn't make it to the end of the shelf, though, before I smelled it; the unmistakable scent of blood, ever so faint, coming from somewhere outside. At first, I put it out of my mind; not every single street fight was of any interest to me, after all. The smell only got closer, though, and before long, I could hear footsteps attached to it, running down the stairs outside the door.

"Patchouli!" I hissed, jumping to the top of the bookcase in a single leap and focusing my attention down on the door, preparing to dive on anyone that burst through.

"Wha--" she began, raising her voice, but I motioned for silence, gesturing towards the door, and she got the message, rising from her chair and moving behind another bookcase. The footsteps continued, loud enough that even Patchouli must have been able to hear them, and I could make out labored breathing along with them. The sounds paused for a moment at the door, and I relaxed at the sound of the lock unlatching before the door swung open.

"Michel!" Patchouli ran to him as he staggered into the room, looking as though he had just gotten into a fight. The blood, it seemed, was coming from his arm, seeping through the light jacket he had wrapped around it, and he favored his right leg heavily, lurching unsteadily with every step forward.. I jumped down from the bookcase and pulled a chair over to him as Patchouli sat him down.

"The..." He tried to speak, only to stop short, still catching his breath from the run he had apparently taken to get here. "The vampire... in town..."

He had appeared?! "What? Where?!" I asked frantically, resisting the urge to shake him by the shoulders.

"It..." He gave another heaving gasp, and turned his attention to his arm, slowly unwrapping its makeshift bandage, and I relented, my eyes following his to the wound on his arm. Patchouli gasped as he uncovered it, nearly turning away, and I bit my lip, trying to ignore the overpowering scent of blood as I examined the wound. It was surprisingly clean, for what it was; a spot on his forearm, near the elbow, that was simply missing, as though the flesh had been scooped out with a spoon.

"It bit me..." he finally managed, the look in his eyes begging me to tell him this wasn't happening.

Fortunately, it really wasn't happening; at least, not as he understood it. "A vampire wouldn't take this much flesh," I said, covering the wound with the wound again. "This is a thrall's bite. Patchouli, get some water and bandages," I said, and she moved immediately, rushing towards the sink in the back.

"Michel, where did this happen?" I asked, locking eyes with him as I struggled to keep the urgency out of my voice. If the vampire we were hunting was secure enough in his strength to allow his thralls to attack humans in broad daylight on city streets, the situation was already much worse than I could have ever anticipated.

"At...the crossroads in the Grand... the grauh..." His breathing was getting ever quicker now, and his face was deathly pale.

"Patchouli!" I shouted across the room, pressing the now-damp cloth of the jacket against his wound to slow the blood flow.

"Grand Parc... There were two of them... Tried to hold them off..." he continued, his head lolling back against the chair as his eyes turned glassy. "Then the smiths came at them with hammers from the forge..."

Patchouli reappeared at his side with a wet cloth, and I moved aside, pulling the jacket with me to give her access to the wound. She carried a glass of water with her as well, which she pressed into his free hand. "Drink," she commanded, raising the glass to his lips, and watched as he did before returning her attention to his arm, wrapping a length of cloth around his arm.

Michel gulped down the water greedily, letting it splash out of the cup onto his face, and he finished the entire cup before continuing. "They escaped down Allee de Fontenay... Too fast to follow..."

"Northeast..." I let out a gasp as the information came together in my mind. "They're heading for Paris?!" Was the vampire staging a full-out attack? "We have to stop them before they reach it!" I said, rising from my position by the chair and moving towards the door.

"No." Patchouli didn't raise her eyes from her work bandaging as she spoke. "We still don't know why this happened, or how strong our enemy is. This attack is bait, trying to draw us into an ambush under the pretenses of favorable conditions for our side."

"If it's an ambush, we'll escape from it!" I was shouting now, beside myself with pent-up energy and fear of the enemy I found myself facing. "This is another chance to destroy the vampire's servants! Are you just going to let them keep killing people?"

"Yes," she snapped, looking up at me, "under the circumstances, I will, and so will you. Do you know what time it is?" She tied a rough knot in the bandage, ripping the loose end off between her fingers. "One o'clock in the afternoon! I may be able to call Henri for backup, but it will make little difference if you will be unable to fight!" Now she stood, too, hands grasping the arm of the chair as she leaned over Michel to shout at me. "The only hope we have of winning a fight at this time is in avoiding the sun and traveling directly to where the thralls are retreating to, and our only hope of determing that is by knowing why they attacked! Now, do you know that or not?!"

"No, I don't!" I shouted back, no longer in control of what I was saying. "Thralls attacking people in broad daylight..." I squeezed my eyes shut, racking my brain for any reasonable explanation and coming up blank. "If the vampire can afford to allow them to do that, then his power must be..." I bit my lip, supressing a shudder. "...beyond anything we can hope to combat."

"I see," Patchouli said evenly. "Then we will assume that is not the case. Now, why else might thralls attack humans?"

What? Was she just trying to ignore the truth? "I told you, there are no other possibilities! We can't afford to waste time with--"

"I am not wasting time. I am trying to think." She raised her voice to a snap with her last word, staring into my eyes with enough force to make me shrink backwards involuntarily for a moment. "Now, be calm and answer my questions. What are the possible reasons a thrall might attack a human?"

"If..." I bit my tongue hard enough to hurt, willing myself to follow her instructions. "If their sire commanded them, or if they needed energy. That's it," I said. "But they can also get energy from their sire, so there's no reason for them to--"

"So they can gain energy through attacking humans," Patchouli repeated, cutting me off, "and they don't have to be ordered to do so. Is there any reason that their master wouldn't provide them with enough energy?"

"No," I said firmly. "They're more like animals than humans. Remove the reward of an energy supply, and they wouldn't follow commands any more."

"I see," she said, still oddly calm. "So if their master was weakened somehow, making it impossible for him to provide them with energy, might they decide to disregard his orders and attack humans?"

"I..." Was that possible? "I've never seen it, but... I suppose it could happen," I said. "But why would they move on Paris if they were weakened?

"Michel, were the thralls injured at all in the fight?" she asked, crouching down next to his chair.

"They..." Michel was as pale as ever, and he still looked a little dazed, but his breathing seemed to have stabilized, and his answer came quickly. "One of the smiths managed to catch one in the arm, I think."

"See?" she said, looking back up at me. "With their source of energy removed, they couldn't regenerate, and the humans they were attacking were able to strike back," she said. "They aren't advancing on Paris, they're escaping towards it. And why do you suppose that is?" she asked, a hint of a smile on her lips.

"...Their sire is in the northeast," I said, finally understanding her train of thought. "But if he's not feeding them energy anymore, then they have no better means of locating him than we do. All this tells us is that the vampire was in the northeast when their connection broke."

"Precisely!" she said, pounding a fist into her open palm. "Once the connection broke, the vampire must have realized that we could follow the thralls back to him, and made his escape to the west."

West? "How do you know which direction he--"

"The Seine blocks him on the north and the east, and trying to move southeast around it would be too risky in broad daylight. The forests to the west would provide him both cover and small populations of humans as prey." She was up and walking now, brushing past me towards the door. "Even if the theory is wrong, any ambush he's prepared would be in the obvious location to the east."

"If he's that far north, we won't be able to catch up to him," I said, turning to face her.

"Yes, we will," she said, shrugging a light coat on and throwing open the door, sending the midday sun streaming into the room. "Let's go."

[ ] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[ ] I stopped her. We were better off...
- [ ] ...following the thralls east. Their movements were the only ones we could be certain of; everything else was supposition.
- [ ] ...going to the scene of the attack. It was best to play it safe for now, and analyze incidents after the fact.
- [ ] ...staying where we were. The vampire had already outsmarted us once; I didn't want to rush headlong into a trap.
- [ ] Write-in.
>> No. 32138
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.

I love genius detective Patchouli, by the way.
>> No. 32139
>>32137
>I don't think I'm capable of writing small updates anymore.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
>> No. 32140
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
>> No. 32141
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
>> No. 32142
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.

Large update, happiness, woo~ Patche in her element is excellent.
>> No. 32143
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.

...But... isn't it just an hour after high noon?

I didn't think Remi took well to sunlight.

>>32137
>And while I'm on my soapbox, you can't properly "feel a little anemic," unless you have some superhuman ability to count the number of blood cells in your body at any given time; feeling "lightheaded," "dizzy," or "weak" are all acceptable alternatives.
THANK YOU.
Goddamn, I hate that phrase.
>> No. 32144
[X] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.

Patchy, you have my... vote.
>> No. 32145
>>32143
Oh, good point. Wasn't the reason for not rushing off because Remilia doesn't do well in sunlight? And then she...wants to rush off. While there's sunlight. Uh?
>> No. 32146
>>32145
>The only hope we have of winning a fight at this time is in avoiding the sun and traveling directly to where the thralls are retreating to
The problem seems to be the time spent traipsing around looking for them, not fighting in the sun itself. Perhaps we're going to get teleported or something?
>> No. 32150
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
>> No. 32151
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
>> No. 32152
>not fighting in the sun itself
Why do I think of something that would make most people yell "FUCK YEAH!" rather than what you might be thinking. You know, somewhere along the lines of "punch out the sun" and "fight with utsuho".
>> No. 32154
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[x] What about Michel?
>> No. 32162
>>32154
>[x] What about Michel?

Adding this to my vote, which I can't seem to delete. Blarg.
>> No. 32163
File 125602083228.jpg - (133.44KB , 376x229 , notsureifpropertranslation.jpg ) [iqdb]
32163
>> No. 32164
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[x] ...after grabbing a parasol from the umbrella stand near the door, of course. A lady needs her shade.
[x] What about Michel? Didn't Patchouli just say she could contact Henri?
>> No. 32165
>>32143 , changing my vote to:

[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[x] ...after grabbing a parasol from the umbrella stand near the door, of course. A lady needs her shade.
[x] What about Michel? Didn't Patchouli just say she could contact Henri?

...since I can't delete my old one.
>> No. 32166
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[x] ...after grabbing a parasol from the umbrella stand near the door, of course. A lady needs her shade.
[x] What about Michel? Didn't Patchouli just say she could contact Henri?
>> No. 32167
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[x] ...after grabbing a parasol from the umbrella stand near the door, of course. A lady needs her shade.
[x] What about Michel? Didn't Patchouli just say she could contact Henri?
>> No. 32172
Changing vote to this too.
[x] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[x] ...after grabbing a parasol from the umbrella stand near the door, of course. A lady needs her shade.
[x] What about Michel? Didn't Patchouli just say she could contact Henri?
>> No. 32215
File 125670959227.jpg - (110.37KB , 750x750 , 13.jpg ) [iqdb]
32215
>>32163
>notsureifpropertranslation.jpg
It is, it's got 貧血 and everything, I just didn't notice it. Still, considering it's not mentioned in Perfect Memento, Bohemian Archive, Grimoire of Marisa, or any of her game profiles, I'd chalk that one up to "lol ZUN".

>>32138
>genius detective Patchouli
That reminds me; I'm somewhat disappointed that nobody called me out on my lame stealth joke in the update before last. For completeness' sake:
>"...and the truth of the matter is simple."
>lettered in bright red ink
>Remilia saying "useless"
コウモリのなく頃に -- Legend of the Purple Witch

---

[X] I went along with her. Her logic seemed sound, and if everything went right, this was a chance to strike back at the vampire himself.
[X] ...after grabbing a parasol from the umbrella stand near the door, of course. A lady needs her shade.
[X] What about Michel? Didn't Patchouli just say she could contact Henri?

I had no objections, and with the irrational fear that had come from overestimating the vampire rapidly disappearing, I found myself itching to go, to take the offensive for once in this fight. As I approached the door, though, another wheezing gasp from Michel gave me pause. Was he really going to be all right, left by himself like this? The thrall's bite wasn't particularly dangerous, even for a human, but he had lost a considerable amount of blood.

"Patchouli, is there anything we can do for Michel?" I asked, squinting as I came into direct sunlight. That familiar stinging sensation was as powerful as ever; not as strong as the noonday sun, but I still wouldn't be at full power in a outdoor fight.

"I'm going to alert Henri," she said. "All that's necessary at this point is someone to monitor his blood loss."

"No..." Michel's voice croaked from across the room, and both of us turned to him. He was sitting up now, elbows on his knees to prop himself up, and one hand pressing his bandage to his arm. "Tell him to go with you two."

"I will do no such thing," Patchouli replied dispassionately, without looking up from buttoning her jacket. "In your condition, going into shock unattended would be fatal."

"Then I won't." He smiled; an expression that looked more worrisome than reassuring in his current state, what with the sweat pouring down his forehead and his pale complexion. "You've disregarded your health for lesser reasons and in greater ways, have you not?"

"Idiot," she shot back, a hint of anger creeping into her voice. "You know I'm in no danger of dying as a result of--" She paused, cutting her rant off abruptly and shooting a quick look at me. "You know my situation is different," she concluded weakly.

"You're going to be in more danger than I am now, trying to attack this vampire," he said, lowering his head and running a hand through his hair before looking back up at Patchouli. "You said it yourself, didn't you? This is no longer a theoretical situation."

She stayed silent for a moment, staring across the room at him.

"Please, Patchouli. I don't want you to get hurt." It sounded more like he was begging, now, and I could even see tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

Another moment of silence.

"Very well." She gave a small 'hmph', turning on her heel and walking out the door without another word to him. "Come, Remilia."

"'Come, Remilia'? I'm not your servant," I said indignantly, rushing after her, only to stop again as I crossed the threshold and the sun began to beat down on me in earnest, searing my neck and wings now along with--

Wait. Wings.

It seemed going out was going to prove problematic in a variety of ways. I turned, reaching back through the doorway, and grabbed a jacket from the rack and a parasol from the stand by the door. As I turned away to head up the stairs after Patchouli, I caught one last glimpse of Michel's face; still clearly in pain and deadly pale, but wearing a thin smile now, eyes closed as he slumped back against the chair.

He really was concerned, wasn't he? How touching. I made a mental note to tease Patchouli about it later, opening the parasol over my head as I ascended the short stone staircase that led up to the street outside. By the time I reached the top, she had already rounded the corner of the building, heading towards the main street, and I hastily threw the jacket over my back, covering my wings and upper body as I struggled to catch up with her.

"Where exactly are we headed?" I asked, meeting her just before the door to the building's first floor.

"Roof," she said shortly, throwing this door open and walking inside. We made our way to the stairs, catching a few glances from confused occupants (just what did this building hold, anyway?), and took them all the way up, past three floors. Patchouli, I noticed, took the stairs two at a time, and wasn't even out of breath when we reached the top; clearly, whatever had ailed her really had improved. She unlocked the heavy metal door with a slender key and pushed it open, sending it clanging against the brickwork as she strode out onto the roof.

I made my way out more cautiously, taking the time to wrap myself more completely in the jacket. It was a man's jacket I had snagged, I realized, big enough to reach my knees, and I made do by tying the arms in a knot around my neck, giving me a sort of makeshift cape that covered my wings. Not particularly stylish, but it would do. I stepped out onto the roof, angling the parasol over my head, and walked to the center of the roof, where Patchouli had dropped to her hands and knees, carefully examining the floor for...

"What, exactly, are you looking for?" I asked, standing over her as she ran her hands over the flat stone tiles that covered the roof. She made no attempt to respond, though, instead counting aloud as her hands swept across the tiles.

"Fourteen, fifteen... here." Finally settling on a location, she dug her fingers into the crack between two of the tiles, prying one up and lying it on its back off to the side, revealing what was underneath: another magic circle, the same style as the ones I had seen in her diary.

So this was how she planned to beat the vampire to the forests? "And what does this--"

"Transmit," she interrupted, ignoring me and speaking into... what was that? There hadn't been anything there a second ago, but now, sticking up from a different tile on the roof, adjacent to the other magic circle, was a short metal rod, glinting in the sunlight. Following it down to its base, I saw a simple circle, drawn in white chalk; apparently by Patchouli, as she held a piece of drawing chalk in her hand. That circle wasn't nearly complicated enough to produce this. Was the entire roof of this building filled with tucked-away magic?

"Find the coordinates for the forest on the m-- Henri! Are you there?" She cut herself off midway, shouting into what I gathered was the receiver a communication device of some sort, which was now pulsing with a bright red light from within. After waiting for a reply for a few moments to no visible effect, she scowled, gripping the device again and speaking into it. "Record. On the map!" she added sharply towards me, turning away from the device and jabbing a finger towards the discarded tile she had removed from the roofing. I didn't see anything resembling a map, though, unless--

"Oh." Looking closer, I realized what she meant; the map was there, etched messily into the underside of the tile she had removed. I reached out, brushing some unidentifiable muck off the surface, and picked it up, holding it close to my face and trying to work out what area it depicted. Versailles was clearly marked in the center, and there were numbers along the left and bottom of the map, but they didn't seem to correspond to distances in any units I knew of, and there weren't very many other landmarks that I could make sense of.

As I searched for something marking the forests we intended to travel to, Patchouli spoke up again behind me, talking into her transmitter. "Henri, there's been another vampire attack. Michel is injured, but stable. We believe the vampire is on the run. Remilia and I are attempting an ambush using the translocation circle. Come as soon as possible. Stop. What are the coordinates?"

Stop? Ah, that last line was directed at me. So the numbers were coordinates? "27 on the left, and, ah... negative 11 on the bottom," I read off, pointing to a blob that seemed to correspond to the forest in Louveciennes, south of the squiggle that was the Seine and east of Paris, directly through the path Patchouli had said the vampire would take. She leaned over the map, apparently checking my work (what was the point of asking me to look, if she intended to check for herself?), before altering the magic circle, drawing two pairs of interlocking squares on the left side of the mish-mash of shapes (I could only guess as to how that corresponded to what I had said), then surrounding the entire thing with another circle.

"Prepare yourself," she said shortly, placing her hand flat against the ground, fingers touching the edge of the outermost circle. Before she even finished speaking, I felt it activate; a burst of magic, strong enough to make me gasp. I felt it fly past me, engulfing my body in the blink of an eye, and sensed a barrier form on the edges of the roof as the magic spread to fill the area around us. And then...

Whiteness. A brilliant light, easily as bright as Patchouli's spell in the morgue, seeming to encompass the whole world; it was as though the sun had exploded right before my eyes. I was blind for the second time in as many days, and my hearing and sense of touch soon followed, disabled by the strange wave of magic that washed over my whole being; between my fingers, over my body, over my eyes and mouth. This time, though, everything else was missing; no burning heat from the source of the light, none of the pain of my skin being burned off, just a pure whiteness that blocked out my senses and cradled me in a bubble of nothingness. I couldn't even sense Patchouli anymore, and I tried to reach towards where she should have been, but I felt only more empty space.

This was... pleasant, actually. The panic I should have been feeling at being cut off from my senses simply didn't come; instead, I found my muscles relaxing, going along for the ride. The sensation of the magic shift around me was actually quite calming, now that I was used to it; like flying, but without having to hold yourself up in the air.

And then, as suddenly as it began, it ended, and the real world returned in a rush, the sudden influx of sensation sending me staggering backwards, blinking rapidly in the light of day and trying to regain my bearings.

We were... in the forest. Not just what passed for forest around the city, either; this was pure nature, with trees so dense that the sun only barely broke through the canopy. The sounds and smells of living beings carpeted every blade of grass under my feet, covering every rock and climbing every tree. I could even see a few of them, if I looked hard enough into the sea of green surrounding me; beady eyes, poking out from their hiding places, wondering what new intruders had just appeared.

"I should really come to places like this more often," I said to myself, turning a small circle in place as I looked into the trees.

"Yes, I'm sure it's lovely," Patchouli said, interrupting my reverie with a cough and a scowl. "However, we have more pressing matters to attend to."

"Hm." She was right; I would have plenty of time to enjoy the sights after the vampire was caught. "What's your plan?" I asked, unwrapping the jacket around my back and discarding it on the ground.

"If we detect his location within the forest, we'll have the opportunity to arrange ourselves and set up traps. I'll need time to prepare a detection spell with a wide enough area of effect to serve us in an ambush, though," she said, crouching to the earth again and brushing away nature's debris, clearing a space on the forest floor and going to work with her chalk again. "You'll need to guard the perimeter in the meantime, within a radius of a few hundred meters. Can you function well in this sunlight?"

"'Function'? I'm not a machine any more than I am a servant," I chided mockingly, putting my hands on my hips and turning my head away with a 'hmph'.

"My humblest apologies," she said dryly, rolling her eyes. "Now, please answer my question."

"I'll be fine," I said, hovering slightly for effect. "More than well enough to destroy a vampire on the run, too weak to control his thralls."

"The same thralls that nearly overpowered you yesterday?" she said, frowning. "If you see the vampire or his thralls, don't engage them. With luck, Henri will arrive within the next several minutes. Fighting together is preferable to fighting separately."

"I was taken off guard yesterday," I shot back. "I won't make the same mistake again."

"I see," she said flatly, fixing me with a blank gaze for a moment longer before returning to drawing her circle. "I have no power over your actions. Exercise judgment."

"I intend to," I said, more coldly than I had intended to, taking off to the east into the forest without looking back. I weaved through the dense forest, dodging trees and picking up speed steadily, until I was far enough away that I could no longer see the clearing that we had landed in.

...How foolish. Had I really just let her little barb sink so deeply? "To lose one's composure over a matter of pride is the first sign of vainglory, Remilia," I said aloud, closing my eyes and sighing to myself.

Well, no sense lingering on one's mistakes. I made a note of the direction I had come from as I ascended, rising up to several meters above the forest floor, and began to fly a wide circle around Patchouli's location, tuning my senses for signs of the vampire. The sun stung, and I had to devote more energy than I would have liked to keeping myself from burning up or evaporating away, but improving my vantage point for sweeping the area was worth the inconvenience.

It turned out, though, that I smelled the thralls before I saw or heard them; the unnatural scent of stale blood and half-preserved flesh was like a beacon, when surrounded by all this life. I stopped in place, sinking back down to the forest floor, and tried to concentrate on them; I couldn't tell how many there were, but there was definitely more than one, and they were heading this way from the east on a path that would take them almost directly through where Patchouli was, just as we had expected. I couldn't sense a vampire with them, though -- were they a scout team of some sort? More rogues, no longer fed by their sire and fleeing towards humanity in search of food? Perhaps the vampire had some way of concealing his presence, like Michel and Henri had at the mausoleum?

Either way, something had to be done. I decided to...

[ ] ...take them out immediately, no matter how taxing it proved. I couldn't risk cutting corners, not after what happened during last night's fight.
[ ] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.
[ ] ...get back to Patchouli, inform her, and see if Henri had arrived. If the vampire wasn't with these thralls, then she might have located him somewhere else in the forest.

---

So since all the cool kids in /th/ are doing it, I'd like to solicit some constructive criticism about my writing. Before you rage about insecure writefags, I understand that not all Anon feel qualified to give said advice, and that your votes and comments are votes of confidence that you like this story; rest assured that I like this story too, and I've had no problems achieving my own personal 'minimum quality standard' in my writing. I would, however, like to improve, and there are several writers on THP alone who I think are better than I am, to say nothing of writers in the world at large. Something like >>/th/100670 is the sort of thing I'm looking for here.

And to head off the 'update more' comments: I'm currently shooting for 3 days between updates, which means 6 days between MoaV updates; let me try to get that schedule down pat before increasing speed.
>> No. 32216
>>32215

Maybe he didn't mention it elsewhere because the character herself said it? It isn't very wise to disregard in game text, as that's how misconceptions and inconsistencies tend happen.

I really do appreciate that you at least do research, though. Unlike an alarming number of writers who don't even seem to have a basic grasp of canon events and character personalities.
>> No. 32217
[x] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.
Vote of confidence then. Don't worry buddy, as much as your bi-monthly update waits can sometimes annoy, the actual updates are always worth it.
>> No. 32218
[x] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.

If it was night, I'd say go all out, but Remy's at a disadvantage in daylight.
>> No. 32219
[x] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.

>>32217
I agree.
General flaws in this story are difficult to find.
>> No. 32220
[+] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.

Remi can always backtrack to kill the thralls that Patchouli's traps catch. Best to thin the herd out, so that she won't be overcome by force of numbers.
>> No. 32226
[x] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.
>> No. 32232
[x] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.

>>32217
They don't annoy, they frustrate. He has one of the best stories on /underground/ and the slow updates are killing me...
>> No. 32252
[x] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.
>> No. 32270
Just had a thought that might be relevant to the thread.

http://touhou.wikia.com/wiki/Perfect_Memento:_Encyclopedia:_Sorcerer

"Characteristics

One who was become possessed by magic, such that the person's body itself is powered by magic; this type of youkai is known as a magician.

Magical research is their occupation and they spend their days thinking about new magic.

Among youkai, they are the closest to humans.

There are two types of magicians: those who were born as magicians and humans who became magicians.

At the point when they become complete magicians, their growth (aging) stops.

Magicians by birth can use magic from the beginning; like humans, they grow, age, and have a limited lifespan.

Then, when they learn Shachuu [literally, "abandoning temper"] magic, they become long-lived, complete magicians."

Emphasis mine.
The first part might have to do with Patchouli's growing frailty. She's relying on magic to keep her alive, so at this stage, using magics that are too powerful might kill her.

The second part, I think, might have something to do with her attitude in this story vs. her more laid-back persona in the games.
>> No. 32276
[x]...take them out immediately, no matter how taxing it proved. I couldn't risk cutting corners, not after what happened during last night's fight.

Maybe it's paranoia, but I'm worried about Patchouli since her condition seems to come without notice and I keep remembering that 'time paradox end' possibility.

As for the story, it's excellent. You don't have gratuitous scenes and the characters -act like themselves-, so it's all good. I honestly can't find something to complain about, especially if you're going to start updating sooner.
>> No. 32290
File 125714659519.jpg - (480.03KB , 1410x1600 , 14.jpg ) [iqdb]
32290
>constructive criticism
...Sigh.
Seriously, though, I appreciate your positive comments more than you know, and hope to continue writing something enjoyable to read. My request remains open, though, if anyone thinks of something that they dislike about this story.

---

[X] ...isolate and destroy them one by one. It would give them more time to move towards Patchouli, but I didn't want to spend more energy than I had to fighting underlings.

I sniffed the air again, gathering as much information as I could to judge my odds of success if I simply attacked them head on. There weren't many, certainly less than a dozen, and I was sure I would win either way; surprise was on my side, and in a setting as full of life as a forest, using magic would be much easier than it had been at the morgue.

It would sap a great deal of my energy, though, and that wasn't a risk I could afford to take with another vampire potentially waiting to attack. No, I would have to be more methodical about this. It wasn't as though they were going to reach Patchouli very quickly anyway, at the rate they were going; all I had to lose was time. I took to the air again, circling around them and looking for an appropriate spot to make my ambush.

Before long, I spotted what I was looking for; a cluster of trees, all split from the same massive trunk, a few meters wide at its base, and not too far from the path the group would pass through in a few minutes. I landed in the lower branches, making sure they would conceal me well enough to those below, then dropped to the ground and waited.

The thralls arrived shortly thereafter, and I got my first real look at them as they shambled clumsily through the underbrush. There were six... no, seven in total, four men and three women, all preserved in the unsettling state of suspended decomposition that all thralls were subject to; their clothes, in disrepair at best and literally torn to shreds at worst, were those of lower-class villagers, probably from one of the smaller towns on the river. From their behavior, it didn't look like they were particularly starved for energy, and I didn't see any signs that they had eaten anything, either. Maybe the sire had managed to hold onto enough energy to keep a few of them loyal?

Now was the tricky part: separating one thrall from the group. With normal thralls, distracting one enough to make it forget what it was doing wasn't difficult, but if my encounter in the morgue was anything to go by, these thralls had retained much more of their human intelligence than any I had encountered before, and simple tactics might be much less reliable.

I didn't have any other ideas, though, other than engaging the entire group, so simple is what it would have to be. Scooping up a small stone from the forest floor, I took aim at the thrall closest to me and threw, hitting it square in the back with enough force to knock it off balance. It spun around almost immediately, yellowed eyes scanning for the source of the attack, and I stayed in place, allowing it just a glimpse of me before jumping back up into my hiding spot.

The seconds of waiting, unable to see the group of thralls through my own cover, put my nerves on edge; would this work, or would it simply ignore what it had seen? Or, worse yet, would it alert its entire group and bring them to investigate? I could always fly away if the situation turned bad, but that would only make the next attack harder.

That aside, the mere thought of being forced to retreat for the second time by mere thralls was humiliating enough to--

There! The thrall finally ambled into view directly beneath me, searching with the clumsiness of an automaton for the attacker it had seen. I began preparing for a disabling strike, gathering energy into my claws, and waited for the perfect time to strike, making sure that my target was still alone.

It came ten or fifteen seconds later, as the thrall, stymied by the wall of plant life in front of it, came to a stop and examined its surroundings one last time before making an about face and returning to meet up with its group again.

As it took the first step away from the tree, I dropped, turning the energy I had stored into pure strength as I slashed downward.

The thrall's head collapsed like a deflated balloon as my claws went through its skull, carving deep, thin gashes from the crown of its head down along its spine to the small of its back. Its nervous system destroyed, its legs buckled instantly, sending it falling to the dirt in a heap with a small thump.

Success. It tried to push itself up with its arms, body moving through magic alone now, but I moved in, dropping my knee on its shoulder and slashing its head free of its neck with another magically augmented slash. It fell limp now, and I paused above it for a moment, listening for the sound of its heart, before thrusting a hand into its chest, destroying the organ myself.

A deep breath out. I looked up, scanning the area for signs that I had alerted any of the other thralls, and saw none; the rest of the group had already moved on, fast enough that they were already out of view, and I couldn't detect anything else dangerous in the area.

Now for the cleanup. With the head and heart separated and destroyed, the thrall couldn't regenerate and would decompose in a matter of hours; the only issue now was keeping the parts separate and immobile until then. I broke the body's arms and legs as quickly as I could, then scooped up the ruined remains of the head, tossing it into the tree that I had hidden in (and hoping silently that nobody decided to venture too deep into the forest until the bodies were gone).

My work finished, I took off into the air again, catching up to the band of thralls and looking for a good location for my second ambush. As I flew, I held my hands in front of me, stained in the thrall's blood. Before I could stop myself, I brought a finger to my lips, licking the drying blood off the tip.

"Ugh!" And almost immediately spitting it back out, wiping my hands off on my (already ruined, I noted sadly) dress. I should have known better; thralls use too much energy themselves to leave any in their own blood, and the taste was like rotten milk compared to fresh blood from living humans. Still, it helped my hunger slightly, if only by killing my appetite. I would have to feed once we returned to the city, I reminded myself as I spotted a good location and angled back down towards the ground to land.

---

Two thralls later, I was bored out of my mind. Shooting fish in a barrel may be easy, but it's not particularly enjoyable, and these creatures would have envied the intellect of fish; the remainder of the band had simply continued plodding onward, showing no signs that they had noticed their comrades being picked off one by one.

They did, however, seem to have some instinct that kept them moving as a group, and with their numbers reduced, they were significantly faster. At this rate, they were going to reach Patchouli before I could get rid of them.

Thnk. I descended on the fourth thrall soundlessly, quickly decapitating it. This one had a bit more life in it that the others, nearly managing to flip onto its back, and I took special care immobilizing it. As I went to dispose of the head, though, I heard something; a sound like a tree falling from a fair distance away back in the direction the thralls had come from, loud enough to startle the birds, and accompanied by a sudden gust of wind whipping through the trees.

What was that? I rose into the air, up to where the branches of the trees grew thinner, and looked back in the direction that I had come from. I still couldn't see anything dangerous, but the animals seemed quite nervous, bounding away from the area as fast as they could. Some sort of predator? No, no animal I knew of could knock down a tree on its own. Unless some humans had started an ill-timed logging operation, this was--

BOOM. The trees shook as the sound resounded again, and this time, I saw a geyser of dust explode into the air, not more than a mile away from me.

This was serious. I flew even farther up now, above the canopy and into direct sunlight, keeping my head pointed away from the sun and using my wings to shade myself as best as I could. Looking down into the forest, I focused my eyes, searching along the line formed by the first two explosions for any sign of their cause.

Before I could see anything, though, the third one came, closer still than the first two. From this far above, I could see that it was centered around where I had destroyed the third thrall; was the attacker following the trail I had left? In fact, the other two explosions seemed to be the same, with the center of destruction around where the first and second thralls were--

Oh, no.

Finally connecting the dots, I looked down in horror at the head of the fourth thrall, still clutched tight in my right hand. The flesh was... melting, dripping like wax down the side of the head, and I could see a light from within its skull, growing brighter by the instant.

"Damn it!" I screamed, throwing the head away from me and flying as fast as I could in the opposite direction, hoping to get away before the--

Explosion. A blast of superheated air hit my wings as the head detonated, and I tumbled head over heels through the sky, disoriented by the overwhelming sound. I couldn't tell which was was up or down, and I nearly ran into the tip of a particularly tall tree before I managed to right myself, pulling myself straight up into the sky and far away from the obstacles.

Patchouli was in danger. I went farther up, trying to ignore what had become severe pain from the sun against my back, and tried to work out where the explosion had thrown me to.

There! I found the clearing she had set herself up in, and the thralls shortly thereafter; they hadn't reached her yet, but it would only be a matter of seconds now. I went into a dive, gathering all the magical energy I could muster into my entire body as I accelerated towards the earth, trying to judge the best location to land from over a hundred meters up. The thralls had broken into a run, I realized, moving faster than I had seen them move yet, as though they were racing to reach Patchouli before I could. Patchouli herself, on the other hand, seemed to have no idea what was going on; she was standing, at least, her work probably disturbed by the sound of the explosions, but she was looking in the opposite direction, apparently unaware of what was about to happen.

I increased speed, pushing my burning wings even harder as I shot towards the edge of the clearing. There wasn't going to be any time for a landing, I realized, not with the thralls nearly upon her and me still as far up as I was.

"Patchouli!" I screamed, letting a bit of magical energy enter my voice to overcome the force of the wind tearing past me, and she looked up, her expression turning to one of shock as she realized what she was seeing.

One hundred meters. I looked away from her and back to my target, making one last change in flight direction before throwing on the brakes, slowing my descend as much as I could in such a short distance. Sixty meters. The first of the thralls broke through the tree line into Patchouli's clearing, bounding towards her as she finally realized the danger she was in. Thirty meters. Patchouli threw her hands over her head, realizing what was about to happen an instant before the thrall did.

Impact.

I released all the energy I had gathered at once, powering through the thrall's body with enough force to literally go through it, reducing its body to little more than dust before hitting the ground below. Both my arms, held protectively in front of my head, snapped instantly, and I ate a fair handful of dirt as the ground put an abrupt stop to my kinetic energy and I bounced along the earth's surface, a new bone breaking with every landing.

I finally reached the edge of the clearing, a large tree breaking my momentum (and one of my wings), and I struggled to my feet as soon as my legs started working, spitting out a mouthful of blood and hurriedly regenerating my eyes. My suicide attack had provided a distraction as well as an offensive, but the other two thralls were already through the cloud of dust, bearing down on Patchouli rapidly, and I could see one of them beginning to glow from within, just as the last one had. I crouched, preparing to jump again, but I heard a snap and felt a spike of pain as my half-formed leg cracked at the ankle, sending me to one knee.

"Stay back!" I heard Patchouli shout, looking over to me as she backed away from the thralls.

[ ] I could make it.
- [ ] I tackled the first thrall, trying to get it away from the clearing by whatever means possible.
- [ ] I went after the second thrall, trying to take it out quickly before it started to explode, too.
- [ ] I grabbed Patchouli, trying to get her as far away from the blast as possible.
[ ] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
>> No. 32291
[ℤℯ] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.

Battered, busted, broken, and bruised. Take it away, Patchy.
>> No. 32292
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
>> No. 32293
>My request remains open, though, if anyone thinks of something that they dislike about this story.

Well, i have some, but those fall more under the catgeory lol opinion rather than knowledge about writing and stories.

[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way
>> No. 32294
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[x] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.

I wonder, are obvious things like this being left out in the hopes that we'll write them in?
>> No. 32295
[x] I went after the second thrall, trying to take it out quickly before it started to explode, too.

Wanted to be all heroic and grab Patchouli, but this might ironically end up interrupting any attack of her own that she might attempt.

But hey, as long as we still have energy to move, we should at least tackle the currently-detonating suicide zombie away; Patchouli can take care of the other one, or flee, whichever she has in mind at the time. Better than risking her getting caught in the blast radius. Besides, even if she thinks she knows best, it's a little hard to trust the judgment of a person who gets crippling coughing fits out of nowhere randomly, in a life-threatening situation.

It's not like it'd kill us, right?
>> No. 32296
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.

Have faith in Patchouli
>> No. 32297
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
>> No. 32299
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[x] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.
>> No. 32300
[X] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
>> No. 32302
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
>> No. 32303
>>32299
>>32294
I ( >>32291 ) was wondering about this, too. I kind of hoped/assumed it was a given, but if not, consider my vote to have that added onto it.
>> No. 32305
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[x] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.

>But my curiosity hadn't run out yet. She had ruled out tuberculosis as a possibility, but I couldn't think of any other diseases that could cause a coughing fit as violent as hers, but be gone by the next day. It seemed to be related to her magic, somehow, but that wasn't particularly surprising; the process of gathering and releasing magical energy tended to be rather hard on the physical components of the body, especially for those who were already weakened by some other illness.

>Still, there was really no appropriate way to broach the topic of what someone you had known for no more than a few days was afflicted with, especially in those times, when nearly everything was a fatal disease.

>"You may not." Again, she looked up from her notes, not angry, this time, but... resolute, somehow, and spoke up again before I could. "My ailment manifests as temporary pulmonary and cardiac insufficiency. I am in no danger of dying from its symptoms, no matter how extreme they become, it is aggravated by my use of magic, cannot be transmitted to others, and cannot be cured." Her spiel finished, she looked away again. "That should answer all of your questions. I don't intend to discuss the matter any further."

Cardiac & pulmonary dysfunction with symptoms only apparent during exertion? Minimal risk of life-threatening complications? Symptoms are managed by aversion to stressors and laudanum (tincture of opium, a cough suppressant & sedative)?

Could be mitral valve prolapse? Back then though, it would probably just be called a 'benign heart murmur'.
>> No. 32311
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[x] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.

Ohh, things are getting more exciting. Hang in there, Patche.
>> No. 32336
[B] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[B] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.
>> No. 32364
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[x] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.
>> No. 32383
[x] I had to leave it to Patchouli. I was still too injured to do anything but get in the way.
[x] Well, there was one thing I could do: quickly warn her of the source of the explosions.
>> No. 32418
New thread at >>32398.

Sage for saging an autosaged thread.