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File 128511077821.jpg - (1.45MB, 1400x1720, Alice Above the Time Axis.jpg) [iqdb]
42620 No. 42620
“You are so beautiful…”

Dreamenddischarger [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDPJuAxZaOo ]

The strike is like lightning, a gleaming beam of moonlight aimed straight at her pale throat.

The wires twist, catching the rapier in mid air, but the blade is pulled back before it can be entangled.

“…the moon herself should be green with envy!”

You both step back, each staring the other down.

The pale moonlight casts her ethereal beauty with an eerie blue, but you can tell that is merely an illusion – with each of her movements, her silken cloak seems to ripple like liquid glass, shining with each color of the rainbow.

And you?

You are only yourself. A green-eyed girl dressed in white, a pale shadow amidst the hulking darkness.

But then…

You tighten your hold on your blade. That is a lie.

The girl before you is an iridescent rainbow, but you are every bit her equal.

Not an empty husk. Not a shadow left behind. But, instead…

…a white knight shining in the gloom.

The sum of all colors.

Alice.

“Who are you?”

“Oughtn’t you to know?” the girl asks. “Didn’t she tell you? Or has she even forgotten my name? It doesn’t matter, I’ll make her remember it!”

The wires tense and cut, but they fly past empty air, the razor sharp filament instead slicing a tree to splinters.

You’re too fast. The magic pulsing in your body, too strong.

You disappear, and then reappear, thrusting the rapier at the girl’s stomach in a storm of billowing white cloth.

There is a flash of blue, and an almost musical, ringing sound as your blade meets magic, the metal skidding against an awe-striking spell barrier.

“Remilia? You’re telling me, Remilia-“

“Remilia? What would that monster have to do with her… unless, of course… is she in league with her? Of course there wouldn’t be a dark power with which a vampire would not consort!”

The wires cut the empty air beside your neck, and sever only a single strand of blonde hair.

You jump back, landing amidst the flowers.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” You level the rapier at her again with a flourish. “And at any rate, you’re probably lying. Why wouldn’t you lie? Everything about you lies… all it takes is a blink to rip away the white skin and show the dark beast pulsing underneath!”

You don’t give her time to answer, powering your legs with magic as you plow through the bushes, heading straight for her. You avoid the wires as you go, their sharp edges tearing up the plants. Soon the two of you are surrounded by a storm of fresh petals.

The blade crashes against the barrier yet again, but you don’t stop, smashing your free hand into the magic wall with a pulse of violet energy.

The barrier doesn’t break, but a hideous scratching sound assaults your ears as the opposite spells clash, sending the girl tumbling backwards.

You press the advantage and strike forward, and a cruel smile takes over your lips as you bring your blade down to smash against the barrier again…

…but the girl isn’t there anymore, she’s as fast as you! With a twist, she avoids your strike, gets back on her feet, and swings her razor wires at your ankles. You stumble, barely avoiding the attack and leaving your guard open!

A clap of thunder, and the smell of charred hope. A pulse of blue magic the size of your head smashes against your stomach, knocking the wind out of your lungs and sending you hurtling through the air! Too dazed to right yourself, your back smashes against a tree with a harrowing crunch as the ancient oak groans under the impact.

You fall to the ground, and with great effort stagger up. Were it not for the reinforcement magic, your spine would have snapped like a twig.

“A beast,” the girl murmurs, drawing closer to you. Her expression is blank, her eyes dead. “A lie. Of course, for the longest time I’ve lived enshrouded in lies. How could I do otherwise, when I could not confront her? Yuuka Kazami!”

She throws you a hateful grimace, swinging a deft hand in your direction. You jump to the side, gasping in effort as the tree behind you is cleanly vivisected.

“…Kazami?” you whisper. “What are you talking about? It’s just you, and-“

“Shut up!” Again you barely avoid the wires as they tear through the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt. She’s no longer listening. “A lie… is she really watching that closely? Kazami… to use you against me… reproduced to the finest, most exquisite detail! She truly is a demon. Did she expect me to think you real? Does she believe me so easily fooled? But even the power of miracles can’t change the past. You died! I killed you!”

Dozens of wires reach out to catch you, a spider’s web of razor steel.

But you’re ready, this time. Pushing past the pain, you meet the attack head on, the magic rushing out into a crackling pentacled barrier that the metal merely bounces against.
The surge of power makes you fast, fast enough to close the distance before the girl can conjure up another barrier, fast enough to strike at her neck!

The girl sidesteps you, the blade missing by an inch and almost brushing against her cheek.

Another strike. This one meets the girl’s blue shield again, clashing against her magic.

“So you admit it, then!” you accuse her, glaring at her with nothing less than hatred. “You’re the one who erased my memories and left me to die in the snow.”

The girl shoves you back with her magic, making some distance between you both. A perplexed look flashes across her features. “What?”

“Don’t play dumb with me! You’re the one who did that, just as you’re the one behind the beasts in the forest! I can smell that magic, sense it around you, and you reek of it. The only question is why!”

Those last sentences give the girl pause. For a moment she looks tortured, as though another battle were raging inside of her.

“No,” she says finally. “No. The mistake was mine, perhaps, but the spread, the corruption… that was all her. That wasn’t my miracle, because there was no miracle to speak of! Because you…”

She pauses and stares at you, as though her green eyes could pierce the inside of your mind. “No…”

You shake your head. “I don’t know what you’re going on about, but I do know this – a girl’s memories were shattered, and she was left to die in the snow. That was me… or used to be. And someone had to have done it. And the entire trail of magic traces right back to you! So either way, you’re hiding a secret about what happened back there, and I’ll uncover it, even if I have to rip the knowledge from your corpse!”

You dash toward her, a shining white specter, your blade shining its murderous gleam as you bridge the distance in seconds and strike at her heart. The girl only barely dodges the blow, stumbling back, almost as if in a daze.

“Unless…” she shakes her head even as she conjures up her barrier, this time stronger than ever, absorbing blow after blow after blow, “unless… but there’s no way. Kazami is the only explanation for your being here. You have to be an illusion. I failed. I failed the miracle, and burnt the remains. You have to be an illusion!”

“I’m NOT an illusion!” You scream, and feel something snap inside you as you deliver your strongest attack yet, cracking the barrier and sending the girl stumbling back.

“You’re not…”

The girl meets your glare, and her green eyes are as full of strength and defiance as your own. “Then… who are you?”

“My name is Alice.”

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

[] Fear.

[] Melancholy.

[] Write-in.
Expand all images
>> No. 42624
Good afternoon!

In commemoration of having finished the first two acts, milady has prepared this small compendium of all the characters presently featured in this adventure. Memory is a fickle thing, after all, and as people fade in and out of the turbulence in the coming scenes, the few hints written here may refresh your memory and remind you that not all is at seems.

Read it and be grateful, then. If you're not, she will feed you to a pack of demons.

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

Alice Margatroid

The Seven-Coloured Rainbow Puppeteer. A master artificer in the field of magical animation, and slayer of the dream demons. Her shining threads can cut even through the strongest steel. Her symbol is a globe amaranth. In her heart, she holds the power to create miracles.

If you believe in me…

ALICE

Rosenkavalier

The Knight of the White Flower who has chosen to turn her hatred into strength. A fencer faster than any hurricane. Hers is steel that can never be cut, and can strike down even demons. Her symbol is a rue anemone. In her heart, she holds the power to [DATA CORRUPTED].

…I might believe in you.

Remilia Scarlet

The Scourge of Europe, the Scarlet Devil who once saved the world from her own sister at the cost of her blood. Her symbol is a red carnation. In her heart, she holds the power to manipulate the strands of probability.

Of her are whispered tales that describe her as either evil monster or angel of justice, but never both. Just what is she, one wonders?

Sakuya Izayoi

The Executioner who has slain a thousand demons. Her duty changed, she now serves Remilia. For the sake of the mistress she hates and loves, her skills will never rust. Her symbol is a lily flower under a branch of aconite. In her heart, she holds the power to stop time.

Patchouli Knowledge

The rogue archmage who once defeated the Mages’ Association and earned ownership of the Magic Library. She now devotes herself to study, but her magical ability remains unparalleled. Is, along with Remilia, ALICE’s only protector. Her symbol is an apple blossom. In her heart, she holds knowledge of each of the four steps of the Great Work.

Koa

The little devil chained by Patchouli during a botched ritual. Where an older demon would have sworn revenge, she is instead greatful to have been rescued in her childhood from certain hell, and gladly pledges herself to this great magician who will live for over a thousand years. Her symbol is a forget-me-not. In her heart, she holds the dark power of all her kin.

Hong Meiling

The martial arts master who once stared down a greater demon for the sake of Remilia. Serves the Scarlet Devil with less loyalty than Sakuya, but with none of the murderous remorse. Her symbol is a rainbow garland. In her heart, she holds the power to totally kick your ass with kung fu of a dragon's spark.

Yuuka Kazami

The Youkai of Flowers who has lived for over a thousand years. A force of nature that no one can control. Her symbol is a sunflower. In her hands, she holds the power to [DATA CORRUPTED] miracles.

Marisa Kirisame

The black witch who forsook her father and who has no mother. Though this mystery would not involve her, she has still chosen to enter the fray for the sake of Alice. Her symbol is a branch of witch hazel. Burnt into her left arm is the curse of the Orreries Sun.

Reimu Hakurei

The melancholic shrine maiden without a past. Though this mystery would not involve her, she has still chosen to enter the fray for the sake of Alice. Her symbol is a blossom of love lies bleeding. In her heart, she holds the power of the Hakurei blood.

Yukari Yakumo

The Youkai of Boundaries who has lived for over a thousand years and through nearly as many names.

Her symbol is a blue rose.

For the longest time she has explored the depths of cruelty, but of late she has become recalcitrant. Or so she claims. Can one who was such a monster even feel remorse?

Flandre Scarlet

The corpse of a vampire, which lies in the deepest cell in the darkest dungeon of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, skewered to a wall by a silver blade.

Has not moved in over four hundred and ninety five years.

Rot for your sins, jewel of my heart.

Elly

Nothing will be,

Just as nothing is now.

And to this deathly truth

We must always bow –

That to rot all things will fail,

And that Heaven is nothing but an old wives’ tale.

[DATA CORRUPTED].

>> No. 42625
[X] Melancholy.

Oh boy, oh boy oh boy!
>> No. 42626
[x] Melancholy.
>> No. 42627
[ø] Inquisitiveness

dem data corruption
>> No. 42628
[ø] Inquisitiveness

We want to know.
>> No. 42633
[X] Despair
>> No. 42635
Just to clear things up, guys: [x]>>42481 won. I called it about two days ago, dunno why some people kept voting.

Every other choice was meant to represent a character (you'll probably be able to guess which character went with which choice) intervening halfway through the battle.

However, since [x]>>42481 went with "a flower that represents Alice", it means that she'll wage the rest of the battle alone, so that choice won't affect only this update.

Likewise, if a choice seems cryptic instead of being spelled out, you can more or less be sure there's a chance that it'll have later repercussions.
>> No. 42641
>>42635
>went with "a flower that represents Alice", it means that she'll wage the rest of the battle alone
I wouldn't want it any other way really. It feels good knowing that ALICE has the power to fight on her own now...
Looking forward to the rest of the story... this is getting interesting.
[x]Inquisitiveness
-[x] Kindness
Only some who has received a helping hand after reaching rock bottom knows how much can it help. But only after her suspicions are cleared, obviously.
>> No. 42643
adding
[͋̏̾̾̃̆̈́҉͍͓̟ø̢̨̗̠̲̯͕̦͚̘̈̑̔̈́̐̍͐̊͘]̑̎ͫ̄ͧ̆҉̰͎̙ͅͅ -Kindness
to >>42627
>> No. 42644
>>42643
Get lost Zalgo.
>> No. 42647
[x]Inquisitiveness
-[x] Kindness
>> No. 42649
Good to see this continuing.

>Rosenkavalier
This sounds awfully familiar.

>curse of the Orreries Sun.
I think I just lost my lower jaw.

Hell, everything in >>42624 make me brick myself in the pants.

[c]Inquisitiveness
-[c] Kindness
>> No. 42694
Would have voted for the Koa choice as to remind Alice II that she isn't alone. That's the one thing I'm worried about with Alice II
>> No. 42747
[x] Despair
>> No. 42873
[x] Apprehension
>> No. 42899
[X] Melancholy.

I, good sir, have yet again shat bricks
>> No. 42918
[x]Inquisitiveness
-[x] Kindness

'You are (not) Alone.'
>> No. 42932
[x] Fear.

>However, since [x]>>42481 went with "a flower that represents Alice", it means that she'll wage the rest of the battle alone, so that choice won't affect only this update.
Oh jesus fuck, was that me? That sounds like something I would write. Goddammit. I thought it was just to choose a symbol for her.

>>42649
>>Rosenkavalier
>This sounds awfully familiar.

>>curse of the Orreries Sun.
>I think I just lost my lower jaw.
Okay, I don't get the point of either of these. Mind cluing me in as to why these are a big deal, or what their significance is? IIRC, the second one is Mima-related, but maybe I'm misremembering?
>> No. 43064
Writing this from an internet café.

There's been a lot of heavy rains where I live, and they knocked down a bunch of power cables near my block. No internet for at the very least the next week.

Just thought I'd let you guys know.

>(x)Inquisitiveness
>-(x)Kindness.

Called for this, since I don't know when I'll be able to check in again during the week, and I want to finish the update quickly.

>-(x)Kindness.

Yeah, sure, why not.

>“Even if she isn’t as monstrous as I might have seen her in the forest, even if she is as human as I am, if her actions are clearly evil, if her soul is as rotten and disgusting as what her presence made me feel… I can! And she would deserve it!”

>’I’ll get you. I can do it. I can definitely reach that goal. Remilia’s wrong. I can do it. I can end you, rip the secret of what’s happening from your corpse, and leave the world with one less source of filth. Wait for meeeeeee!’

>bernkastel.jpg
>> No. 43069
>>42932
If it is of any consolation, I was the one who made the write in about the Rue-anemone. And I have to say, I'm very pleased with the results.

Waiting warmly for the next update.
>> No. 43101
>>43064

>No internet for at the very least the next week.

Disregard that, the cable company doesn't suck as much cock as initially apparent. Internet's back on. Update... soonish.
>> No. 43201
>>43101
Hooray.jpg
>> No. 43974
>>43101
>Soonish
>> No. 43999
Waiting patiently for our favourite sinister white knight doppelganger to come back and kick ass.
>> No. 44024
Yeah, about update times. I'll admit I procrastinate a lot, but the sheer volume of the story is also to blame - the update's at 7,000 words and nowhere close to being finished. So bear with me, please.
>> No. 44027
>>44024
You're forgiven for being quite possibly the most epic of all.
>> No. 44028
File 128860846124.jpg - (141.58KB, 1600x1200, may the bear be with you.jpg) [iqdb]
44028
>>44024
>So bear with me, please.
>> No. 44051
File 128888461022.jpg - (369.41KB, 900x1271, alice armor doll army.jpg) [iqdb]
44051
I read this from start to finish on Fell's suggestion.

I have to say, this story is a fucking inspiration.

The characterization of not just ALICE and the cast she interacts with, but even incidentals like RZA 'Risa and Reimu and these ominous power players in the shadows like Yuuka and Yukari, it's all top-notch and immerses you in a very unique Gensokyo.

And all this leading up to one of the most compelling fight scenes I've ever read in a CYOA.
>> No. 44052
>>44051
You forgot to mention the fact that the music choices have, thus far, been absolutely spot-on in terms of mood and motif, and all of excellent quality.
>> No. 44062
>>44051
I'm always glad to point the way to something good.
>> No. 44139
>>44051

You know, this is where I should be modest and all, but I think that just this once, I am going to revel in my own giddily satisfied ego. Thank you, kind sir.

And now...
>> No. 44140
File 128981213211.png - (545.86KB, 1050x1350, Ink-bled Nightmare.png) [iqdb]
44140
The girl’s eyes widen in shock and horror, and her mouth opens and closes as though she were choking on her own breath. But then she shakes her head and steels herself, and her lips close into a pale, thin line. “Shanghai, Hourai,” she spits out, ”kill her!”

There is a flash of bright light, and it nearly blinds you, and you only just manage to jump away as you sense something approach you.

The girl is gone, hidden from sight, and two new presences have made themselves manifest.
Two looming shadows, then a rustle of cloth, black and red, pale skin and long blonde hair the same shade as yours and the girl’s.

“You’re not human.”

They do not answer, but draw their own blades, shining rapiers like your own. And in the glittering, emotionless beauty of their eyes, amber and blue, you don’t see even a spark of a soul.

You glare at them, green eyes narrowing dangerously.

“I see… so you’re her real creations. Something far beyond the beasts in the forest. But then… if you’re tainted with the same malice, why is it that behind the veil of hate I see…”

You leap forward just as they do, and your blades clash, charged with enough magic to tear through a mountain.

“…something of perfection?”

You disengage, striking under the black-clad one’s guard, but she blocks, and the crimson one lunges at your neck. Her blade meets empty air – you twist around, dodge the attack, and retaliate with a flurry of blows that would destroy any lesser enemy in an instant. And yet the girls block each strike with unfathomable precision, and their swords flash like lances of light when they smash against your own.

You step back. They’ve taken the advantage. Shanghai, an unforgiving gale, slashes at your legs, your chest, your throat, you block and Hourai stabs at every inch of flesh you expose, one good thrust and it will be over!

You tumble to the ground, avoid a strike from Shanghai that would have ripped through your jugular. Ignoring the pain of the impact, you strike out with a leg, and the magically reinforced white boot slams into Hourai, and she stumbles. You stand, ready to finish it, your rapier a silver flash in the gloom.

Shanghai blocks, saving her sister. The ring of your blade against hers is almost musical.
Where is the girl!? You cast out with your eyes even as you lash out with your blade again and again, unable to stop on pain of death. You slip, a thrust from Hourai narrowly misses anything of importance but the tip of her blade still digs into the soft flesh of your left thigh.

A scream of pain and rage escapes your throat as you leap back, a flash of violet magic bursting from your right hand into a crackling explosion, a desperate attempt to keep them away. It works; Hourai pauses and Shanghai jumps back… a second later and they would have been scrap meat.

And you’re bleeding, you’re bleeding, and your pure white dress is stained red once more. The girl. You have to find the girl. Your enemy is indefatigable; your enemy is beyond human.

Shanghai and Hourai strike in unison. You twist away from the blows, the magic powering your legs faster than even the cruel edge of their blades. And then, as you regain your footing for a new strike, you see her.

The girl, standing regally on the roof of the house, the moon shining above her like a silver halo, the bright, metallic threads going from her armored gloves to the two glittering knights who will kill you for daring to exist.

Your enemy is still mortal at its core.

Shanghai and Hourai charge at you, a flash of silver on one side, a spark of death on the other.

You meet them head on. The answer flashes before your eyes.

You remember Patchouli, when you first met her, the sweet smell of her hair and her purple eyes that looked like they could read your mind. What did she do, back then? It’s happened after that, too…

Identify the target. All the better if it’s in your sight.

Conceptualize the motion. Enter the gap, run the distance, and then…

There is a large crack of displaced air, and a lurching feeling in your stomach. You ignore it, find your footing, and strike.

The girl stifles a gasp and dodges to the side. The blade misses her neck but the edge slashes her upper arm, and blood stains her cloak.

“I should have expected something like that,” she mumbles, gathering her balance and facing you. Her green eyes are as cold as yours. “I wonder, did I… did Remilia’s wizard teach you it?”

“In a way,” you grin defiantly.

“Hm.” The girl snaps her fingers, and Shanghai and Hourai, who followed you, leap up and reach the rooftop in a single bound, right behind you! You sense it, lash out with your free hand, you know this, it’s the same principle by which the girl conjures her shield! Visualize, gather the energy, and force the world to accept the exchange!

A clap of thunder, a flash of death, and Shanghai and Hourai are driven back by a dozen stakes of crystallized energy, tall as them, which slam into the rooftop and encircle them, forming a makeshift prison.

Your hand pointing at her creations, you keep your eyes on the girl, expecting her to order her dolls to find a way around the obstacle.

But she does not move. In spite of the danger and of the blood that stains her left arm, she remains a statuesque vision of beauty under the moonlight, her green eyes never leaving your own.

The cold breeze of the night blows between the two of you, buffeting the ends of your white dress and her long blue cloak.

“Very well, then,” says she, extending her right arm. You ready your blade for the wires; they never come.

There is a crack of magic, and her metal gauntlets disappear from her small, pale hands. Then, a shimmering of the air, something taking form, being summoned…

A golden hilt, a blade that under the moon looks like liquid silver, and a rapier just like your own and the dolls’, glittering in her hand.

“I supposed it has to be like this, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” you answer, brandishing your own blade.

“Who are you,” mutters the girl, “where do you come from? I know, but those answers are impossible.”

“My name is Alice,” you say, utterly calm. “If I don’t know where I come from, I blame you for that in its entirety. All the evidence points to you; you even reek of the magic in the beasts of the forest. Right now, tonight, I can tell it’s different, lighter and more sweet. But,” you glare, eyes narrowing, “the underlying nature is the same.”

“Is it… Alice?” she asks, and a flash of sadness momentarily crosses her expression, “or are you letting your own hate blind you? Or am I the one who’s fooling herself?”

“Deny it, then.”

“Deny it?”

“Deny it,” you repeat, “deny that you’re a monster. Show me that I’m wrong.”

“How strange,” the girl raises a sharp eyebrow. “You’ve not wanted to give me the chance before.”

“You tried to kill me with as much hate as I had. But, in asking me what you have,” you retort, “haven’t you recognized that I’m not some figment of your imagination?”

“…yes.”

“So deny the rest, then.”

“You aren’t as bloodthirsty as you try to look, are you?” she asks. “But I can’t deny it. I can’t say what you want me to say.”

“So you’re admitting your guilt?” you denounce through clenched teeth. “Shattering my memories? The beasts in the forest? Is that what you’re saying… Alice Margatroid?”

“No,” says Alice. “It’s not. Rather… I can deny it. I can tell you what you want to hear, and speak every word as truth, and show you that I am not a villain, that I did not murder a girl by shattering her memories and leaving her to die in the snow. But I won’t, Alice.”

“Why!?”

She takes a deep breath. “I want to… I want to tell you. A part of me wants to see your soft lips part in horror and your blade fall from your hands as everything you think you know is challenged. But I won’t. You’re too beautiful… I won’t. I can’t muster that kind of cruelty; I’m not a monster like that vampire you serve. I won’t tell you, but you won’t listen any other way… I can’t.”

There is a pause as her words sink in. Then you speak.

“Then I’ll bleed the secret out of you.”

Her smile is small and sad. “I won’t let you. But go on, try. Seeing you fight is really…”

She strikes.

“…a thing of beauty!”

Her blade smashes against your own, and she is close, so close you can almost feel her breath, and her beauty tonight is such a sharp contrast to the mind-numbing pain you felt when you first met her that you have to hold back a shocked gasp. Still, you don’t lose your ground, but push her back, and with a grunt of effort shove magic past your hand and into your glittering blade, the radiant violet energy sure enough to plow through any defense as you thrust the sword at her chest! But this girl, Alice, has just as much power as you, and her green eyes just as much fire left in them, and with her own blade she smashes yours aside, and the opposing magics explode with a crack of thunder.

Leaping back on reinforced legs, you regain your bearings and attack, once, twice, thrice, she blocks each strike, her style just as perfect as your own, and a pulse of magic from her hand repels you as she lashes out at your legs. On sheer instinct you raise a thin barrier just in time to catch your balance and block another strike, this time aimed at your chest. You won’t lose! With a scream you strike back, a flurry of magically enhanced blows slicing through the air with trails of crackling energy. She blocks, but retreats a step with each massive blow! Twirling your blade in the air, you press the advantage and sneak past her guard, and the tip of your blade almost touches her stomach, only to miss - she twists around to avoid the strike, agile as a cat, and lashes out with a leg, her kick augmented with magic as her black boot slams against your injured thigh.

You shriek, tears welling up in your eyes at the pain, and though your leg is strengthened by so much magical energy it does not break, you stumble and fall, rolling away from her but not quickly enough! As you stand, the tip of her blade digs into your left calf, throwing you off balance. An opening is created, for Alice as you stumble, for you as she recovers from dealing the blow. Each of you takes it, and your swords crash against each other again as the two strikes meet.

’It… hurts…’

You pull back, standing on your bad leg in spite of the growing pain, so bad it makes you whimper. Clenching your teeth, you take a deep breath and stare the girl down. Alice’s chest rises and falls as she pants heavily, and the gash on her left shoulder is clearly uncomfortable. Still, she stands proud, facing you with determination.

Suddenly, the two of you realize that this will be the last assault.

You nod in understanding, ready yourself, then pour magic into your legs! With a yell that is half anger and half anguish, you cross the distance between you in a flash, and your blade lashes out just as Alice charges forward and attacks herself, the two glittering rapiers deflect each other, then meet again, again, again! You push onward, there has to be an opening, there, she lifts her arm just enough to see it, a hole in her guard; you shove her left arm away with your free hand, strike-

“Gwuh!?”

-and choke as a reinforced fist slams into your stomach with enough strength to break a boulder. You fall to your knees, the air driven out of your lungs. The pain is terrible, bad enough to make you want to cry out, but as your breath returns your screams are cut short by a hacking, uncontrollable cough full of blood.

“Damn it,” you choke out with a low moan. “Damn it…”

“You fell for that feint,” deadpans Alice, her rapier pointing at your throat. “You wouldn’t have, but your emotions got the best of you, and you didn’t think. That’s why you must never lose control of yourself.”

You look up, glaring at her.

In response, she withdraws her blade.

“What?” you rasp out, astonished.

“Go,” says she. “I’ve won this fight… but I won’t kill you.” Her expression softens, and she sighs. “Even when beaten you’re still so- I couldn’t kill you, Alice. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to kill you. Just go. Perhaps, some other time, we can talk…”
Your gaze runs over her, her exquisite features, her sad and sincere expression, her beautiful green eyes…

…and the rapier foolishly withdrawn too far away.

You smile.

“You complete idiot!

She reacts, but nothing could be quicker than you now! The burst of magic in your legs pushes past the pain, the injury, anything else, and your rapier is a white lance in the dark as it strikes, and finds flesh.

Alice screams; what a fool she was not to have seen this coming! Your blade slams into her shoulder, plowing through the muscle and coming out the other end a fresh crimson. But you don’t stop, you can’t stop. You fill your body with magical energy and bodily tackle her, your right fist slamming into her just as hard as she hit you, and the momentum throws the both of you forward, off the rooftop, into the air!

She slams into the ground, you on top of her. As she’s dazed from the blow, she can’t react when you pull yourself off her, ripping your rapier from her shoulder as you slam a kick into her prone form. She flies through the air and crashes into a tree with a shriek; you stumble back, gasping at your own pain.

“Honestly… honestly…” you giggle between pants, “I was… worried… back there. No idea how I’d get an opening in that position… but then… then you…”

You can’t help it. You really can’t help it. All the pent up anger and pain and utter fear burst out, and you let out one long and deeply satisfying cackle, crying as you do. “Did you… did you really… heheh, did you really think I was just going to give up, just like that?” You laugh again, a demented smile tugging at your lips. “Really? Really? Are you stupid, or something?” You gasp at that last sentence, the pain in your stomach unbearable. “It hurts,” you moan, “it hurts so much…” You clench your teeth, your gloved hand, stained with dirt, wipes away the tears running down your face. “Is it that bad? Is it that bad that I want to know? Damn it… why can’t anyone just… damn it!”

You bring your blade down, fully intent on ending the fight right there.

Alice, on her knees, meets your eyes, and then snaps her fingers with a sad smile.

You’re too slow.

A crack of displaced air, a rustle of colored cloth! You try to twist around, but your strength has left you, and your guard is open as Shanghai, teleported from nowhere, slams her knee straight into your groin.

You gasp, your vision blurring from the pain, and Hourai steps forward, slicing you across the stomach and kicking you away as you bleed.

You fall to the ground, moaning. You can barely see; everything hurts.

It’s over.

“No,” you sob, trying to push yourself up. You fail, and drop painfully onto the ground again. The barrier… how did they… when she knocked you down, perhaps? The wound in your stomach won’t stop bleeding. “No…”

“I’m sorry,” mutters Alice. She stands, but her back leans heavily against the tree she crashed into, and her left hand presses against the large wound on her right shoulder. Tears are running down her cheeks. “That was… quite cowardly of me, using them when you thought we were fighting a duel. But… I can’t die here, you understand me? I can’t ever let you kill me… I still have things to do…”

You try to say something; your breath fails you.

“…but then… so do you, no? So even if you hate me,” she clenches her teeth to ignore the pain, “I won’t… I won’t let you die, either.”

“How touching,” a third voice rings out.

What color remains in Alice’s face drains out from it, leaving her pallid. She gasps. “Kazami!? But… how…”

You turn your head to look.

“…who?”

She could not possibly be here. There is no way. She drips with the magic pounding through the girl’s veins, the same one that causes you revulsion because you know, somehow, that it is also your own. You could not have possibly missed her approach. And yet she stands before you, and Alice, that girl who shares your name, shakes with barely contained fear and hatred.

The pale woman’s grin is dark and predatory, and her almond-shaped eyes are cold, and black as coals.

“It’s been a long time, Margatroid.” With a soft giggle, she snaps her fingers, and the forest seems to shake with the sound of lumbering footsteps. Then, they appear behind her, dozens of the skeletal beasts you fought before, dripping black tar from head to toe.

You groan, and a sharp pain in your chest that has nothing to do with your other injuries begins to grow. Alice, too, brings a hand to her breast, grimacing. It’s the same sickening presence you felt that night, pushing against you, threatening to envelop you.

“All those faeries…” she mutters with a sad scowl. But then she composes herself, casting away her heartsick disgust in favor of cold indifference. “How did you get here?” she asks. “And why…”

“You did not notice my coming because I can reach anywhere into this territory using magic you don’t have the power to stop,” the woman cuts in, her voice soft and calm, “and the reason we meet again is because we never really parted from each other. You know these answers already. Are you really that much of a coward that you need me to validate your own weakness~?”

All the color drains from Alice’s face, and she answers nothing, merely clenching her left hand into a tight fist even as her right grips the handle of her blade with crushing strength. Like you, she still bleeds, and the warm red liquid seeps down her arms and drips down her fingers and onto her dress and boots. The woman takes notice of this, and slowly runs her tongue over her lips as though imagining the taste.

And you… you do not understand. Their words make no sense to you, but you know that somehow they concern you. And how could they not? If this girl, Alice, is tainted with the black magic you found in that clearing two weeks ago, then the woman is a vortex of it, dark power oozing from her every pore. But then… who is she?

You groan, scrunching up your face in an attempt to keep your vision from blurring into dark unconsciousness. The pain is too much; you can barely think.

“I’d been looking forward to you rejoining my little game, Alice,” says the woman with a sincere grin, “I thought it was clear enough that you’d spiked my interest again. And look, we have another participant, just as beautiful as you~.”

She turns to look at you, devouring you with her stare. You look away. You can’t meet those eyes. Not now.

“And shall I declare myself lucky?” she asks Alice, “It looks like you two have already tired yourselves out. There won’t be any need to convince you~. Or…”
She looks you over, again. “It seems too easy, though, finding you here, little one. Is Remilia plotting something, I wonder?” She gazes around, as though expecting the vampire to come out of the forest. After a second, she shrugs. “Oh, well. At any rate, if you two please…”

Alice sneers at the woman. Behind her, Shanghai and Hourai raise their blades. “I won’t go without a fight, Kazami. I’d sooner kill myself.”

When Alice utters those words of defiance you think you see the woman’s features twist into a mask of hideous rage… or was it just a shadow? It’s gone in less than a blink, and only her faint grin remains, undisturbed.

“Well, then~.” Spreading her arms grandiosely, the woman walks forward, and a dark, hateful magic begins to crackle around her right hand.

“No.”

In the distance, you hear the sound of breaking glass.

The woman only just steps back as lance of sheer blue light cuts in front of her, slamming into the ground and dissipating. It leaves a shimmering trail, as though the air itself had been destroyed in its wake.

“Not one step forward, Yuuka Kazami. Not a one, do you understand me?”

A tinkling sound envelops the area, like a dozen crystal bells ringing against each other, and the air ripples like water in a pond. She appears, first a transparent outline, then solid, unshakeable reality, a tall blonde woman in a silken violet gown, standing between the two of you and the dark-eyed woman.

“Yukari,” mutters the woman. Her tone is even, but the raw hatred behind it cuts even through the haze of your pain to make you shudder. “Yukari. I should have expected you. How silly of me.”

“Alice,” says Yukari, her voice soft and reassuring even though she does not lift her gaze away from her opponent, “I’m going to get you two out of here. I hope you did not think I’d forget my promise…”

She turns sideways, one hand slinging out a blast of blue magic to keep the other woman at bay, the other pointing in your direction as she casts some unknown spell.

For a second, you meet her eyes.
>> No. 44141
The sound of the rushing wind, and a sea of infinite blue.

You do not move, unable to do so and feeling nothing but pain, but are moved. By something… to somewhere else. And you can feel that girl who shares your name, Alice, moving with you.

But then, a break in the blue expanse. A splatter of red and black, a pair of dark hands wrapping around your waist, and a strange, mocking giggle you know all too well.

”Sorry to keep you waiting~!”
>> No. 44142
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“Complete translocation of such a large area,” states Yuuka Kazami as she raises a sharp eyebrow, gesturing at the empty clearing where the house and garden used to stand.

“Impressive.”

“I’d prepared all the magic beforehand. It was merely a matter of pressing the switch.”
“That explains why you don’t look tired. Good. For a moment I thought I’d perhaps

underestimated you. How silly.” She nods to herself. “So, preparing an escape route weeks beforehand. That is the fear I inspire within you~.”

“Not fear,” the golden eyed woman retorts, the strength of her stare and the calmness of her breath lending credence to her words. “Merely precaution. No matter what I have to do, I won’t let you get your hands on those girls. And… see? They’re gone, flung far from your reach.”

Kazami’s eyes narrow dangerously, and the tar-covered monsters behind her shift restlessly, as though sensing a change in her will. “You think I won’t find them? You think you can stop me? Come now, there is nothing I cannot do. You are truly blind, witch, if you believe our power is still matched. It is not. It hasn’t been for years. All thanks to the girl you just spirited away.“

“Ah, but you’re wrong,” Yukari retorts with just the barest hint of a smile, “I know we’re not matched. You’re a monster, a beast that feeds upon the flesh of the weak and innocent. Your strength is greater because you have a thousand corpses carrying your weight. But I also know that all bones turn to dust, in the end~.”

Kazami’s grin widens ever so slightly, showing sharp, pointed teeth beneath the soft lips. “That winged witch taught you humility, didn’t she? How sad, how pathetic to see the mighty Youkai of Boundaries humbled so low she has to take refuge in the reeking, soiled shroud of righteousness. You know, I thought of waiting, perhaps until we could meet somewhere more suitably dramatic. The wheels have been set in motion, so you’re pretty much a walking corpse; it doesn’t really matter when I bury you. But,” she shakes her head, “I really just can’t stand the sight of you, anymore. I think I’ll just cripple you right now and hand you to my beasts. Who knows what they’ll do with you before they eat you~?”

The tar-covered monsters growl and bare their teeth, as though directly addressed.

Yukari just smiles.
>> No. 44143
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The scythe plows through the darkness, almost faster than sight, and for a second the cold steel seems to fill the girl’s blue eyes, a deadly phantasm that could cut through the moon.

Then she jumps, falling to the left, one hand slamming against the floor to keep her balance, the other one pulling her long black hair away from her face. The scythe misses by a wide margin, the blade cleaving through the air with an abominable wail.
Reimu stands, gathering her bearings and facing her opponent once more. That blow would have hacked her legs off.

“I don’t suppose you’re here to make a donation, are you?” she asks, her voice shaky. There is no feeling to her voice, nor do the words have any point other than letting her know that she’s still here, still breathing, still able to move.

Her assailant readjusts her grip on the scythe, the action hitching up her sleeves just enough to reveal even more of the ghastly black scars that, from her neck downwards, seem to worm their way up every inch of her deadly pale skin. “I am here to take you,” she repeats. It’s the only thing she’s said, no matter how the questions about her motives and origin were worded. “Please,” she adds, and surprise crosses Reimu’s features at hearing her finally say something else. “You are beautiful, so I do not wish to have to dispose of your limbs in order to make you comply.”

The girl’s large grey eyes widen a bit at those words even as the rest of her features remain undisturbed, as if they are the only part of her that can show even the tiniest hint of something like a soul.

Reimu clenches her teeth. Though the sealing needles she holds between her pale fingers are each almost as long as her forearm, they suddenly feel pitifully small.

The thing in front of her cannot be human. The blonde-haired girl in the long red dress is nothing but a mirage, a vision of beauty hiding a looming specter of rot. The black scars… the empty stare… the dark power… either the girl is but a walking corpse, or the closest thing one can come to such while still being alive – a puppet of warm flesh for a greater power, one whose will Reimu can feel pressing down on her own chest, surrounding every corner of the lightless, empty shrine.

“I’m sorry,” she says almost instinctively, her gaze running over the girl’s slender body, younger even than her, as she wonders just who she might have been. “I’m sorry you have to suffer so much. But even so… whatever it is you’re here to do... I won’t let you!”

She strikes, leaping to the left, farthest from the blade. The needles, glowing blue, leave her hand in a storm of iron, their path guided by magic – to her chest, her arms, her neck!
The girl swings her scythe again, quicker than thought, and again and again blocks the attacks, using the massive blade as a shield. Then, she twirls around and takes the offensive, running two steps towards Reimu and swinging down in a cut that would sever the maiden’s arm.

Reimu moves, and an explosion of sound blasts through the courtyard of the shrine as the gigantic scythe slams into a hastily constructed hexagonal barrier. It plows through the crackling magic as though the spell were made of paper, but the delay is enough! With a twist of her wrist, the needles fly from the floor straight back to Reimu’s hand, and the seals inscribed on the iron glow as though the metal were held up to a flame.
The girl turns, lifting her scythe for another blow. She pushes the blade up, exposing her pale, scarred neck.

Reimu prepares herself.

And the two opponents move.

The blade wails through the air, straight at the Shrine Maiden’s left leg. For less than a second Reimu delays, knowing she risks everything…
Then, an opening! She jumps, the blade missing her thigh so narrowly it rips the skirt of her dress. The needles glow blue once more; their form shifts, and, large as knives, they fly.

The girl’s grey eyes seem to fill Reimu’s world.

The iron meets flesh.

A long silence, followed by a loud crash as the girl drops her scythe, her mouth half open as she tries to look down at the long spikes of metal jammed into her neck, even as her blood flows like a river from her wounds and down her chest, then drips down, staining the ground forever.

Reimu clasps a hand over her stomach, her vision reeling as she fights the urge to vomit. Not just at the sight of the girl, gurgling as she chokes on the massive wound in her neck, but also at the blood – thick, viscous, and black as tar.

“What are you?” she murmurs, perhaps for the umpteenth time, but this time, her voice holds not just fear, but disgust, and a deep, burning sadness. She cannot tell how this girl came to be as she is now, but every part of her being rebels at the thought of such an existence being possible, never mind inflicted on an actual living being.

She breathes in a shallow, quivering breath, and steels herself to do what she’s never done before. Slowly, she reaches for the last needle in her pocket, a tiny piece of metal yet untransformed by magic.

“I’m so sorry-“

The girl moves.

Reimu screams, in surprise, then fear, then agony, as the monster in front of her rips the needles from her neck and throws them right back at her even as her wound gushes blood all over. The black-haired girl only just avoids the attack as she throws herself to the ground, but the impact of her fall is enough to make her frail body shudder in pain.
In front of her, the flow of the blonde girl’s blood finally begins to stop, and the muscle and skin over her neck make an audible, fleshy sound as they regenerate, sewing themselves together as though guided by an unseen hand. In a swift motion, the girl again picks up her scythe, then raises her left arm and snaps her fingers. A hellish chorus of wails and groans follow the sound.

Reimu stands up, shaky, now unarmed, and shivers in fright at what she sees – at least a dozen monsters, black skeletons with clawed hands, the same beasts she’d seen dead in the forest, crawling up the steps to the shrine, placing themselves in formation behind the girl.

Slowly, she realizes she’s going to die.

“I wonder… how will she make another?” she mumbles, then bites down hard on her lower lip, holding back a choked sob. Raising her head, small hands clenched into fists, she glares at the blonde girl. “Go on, then,” she says, her voice a hoarse, quavering whisper, “I won’t let you take me out of here alive. Go on.”

The girl readies her scythe once more.

“Dodge to the left!”

A wave of heat and light envelops the courtyard, followed by a cacophony of noise as magic fills the air, burning the beasts in a chorus of unearthly screams.

Kneeling on the ground, Reimu blinks, her vision blurred from the light but still able to discern a figure flying through the explosions, her billowing dress giving her the appearance of a gigantic black shadow.

“Marisa?”

The witch almost crash-lands in her haste to get to the ground; her hat falls off, and she almost stumbles over her broom even as she throws it several meters away.

She looks beyond her. All the beasts are dead, smoldering corpses strewn about the flagstones. The grey-eyed girl still stands, but her dress is almost destroyed; her body, bleeding all over, covered in large burns and deep, seething black wounds. Caught completely unawares, she stares at Marisa in what could be best described as wild-eyed fright.

The young witch gives her a cruel smirk, pointing at her opponent with her glowing miniature furnace, which still burns blue from the magic she just cast.

“Hey,” she says, her smile flashing all of her teeth, “how’s about you level up some more before trying again, you festering cunt?”

If the girl answers something, Reimu can’t hear it as the Hakkero explodes with a gigantic blast of magic that reduces everything several meters in front of it to dust.
Silence. After a few seconds, the smoke clears. Nothing is left of the girl.

Marisa lets out a long sigh, then turns around, face corpse-pale, eyes wide with fear.

“Reimu!” she screams, rushing up to the black-haired girl and placing her hands on her shoulders, “Reimu, are you alright? Is anything broken?”

“’Risa… I’m fine…”

“What was that? Damn it, you idiot, I don’t have a catch-phrase ready for your death-“

“I’m fine… stop shaking me, it hurts

“Oh.” Marisa stops, slowly letting her hands drop from Reimu’s shoulders. Their gazes meet, and Reimu notices that Marisa’s amber eyes are wet with tears.

“Weren’t you going on the other day about how you never cry?” she whispers, playful.

With a groan, Marisa throws her arms around Reimu, wrapping her in a tight hug. “I’m not crying, alright? It’s the bugs. Goddamn bugs in my eyes. Flying’s a bitch. I’ll give the broom a windshield or something…”

Reimu says nothing, but merely melts into the hug, resting her chin on Marisa’s shoulder even as her blue eyes remain fixed on the darkness up ahead.
>> No. 44146
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The house was an absolute wreckage – the movement of the spell had broken most of the windows and sent most of the furniture flying. The floor was strewn with splinters, shards of broken glass, liquids from the water she kept next to her desk to the death-cap juice she’d left fermenting on top of a shelf, and everything in between. She did not want to know the state of the upper floor, and neither could she – a flung recliner had collided with the stairs, collapsing the wooden steps.

Alice herself, finally out of energy, had ordered Hourai to stand watch outside and then toppled on top of a chair. The poor thing had lost a good chunk of its fourth leg, but could still support her weight. Slumped on her wobbling seat, she moaned at her own pain, and with one hand clung to the accursed, beloved relic that was her book. Having left it inside before the fight, when Yukari had warped her away she had for a single, agonizing second thought it lost. The woman, however, had somehow managed to spirit away not only Alice, but also her entire home – such was the strength of her magic.

“Shanghai,” the girl rasped out, eyes widening in surprise at how weak her voice sounded, “I’m thirsty… the plumbing got torn out, of course, no use in that… but I think we still have some juice in the pantry. From the oranges I picked two days ago. Be a dear and go see if the pitcher didn’t break.”

The doll, which had been standing nearby while waiting for orders, turned and headed for the kitchen in that slow, deliberate gait Alice’s creations usually had when she wasn’t physically controlling them. After about a minute, she returned holding a glass of orange juice. Alice took it, and drank the whole thing in just a few gulps, marveling at the sweetness.

Setting the glass down on the floor with a pained groan, Alice sunk back onto her seat, closing her eyes before opening them almost immediately after, her stare fixed onto the dark ceiling. She wanted to sleep; but she could not. Now that her head was feeling just a bit clearer, the heavy hand of worry was once more pressing down on her chest. How long had it been since she got here? At least some time, and Yukari still hadn’t come back… surely she hadn’t decided to keep fighting Kazami, not while surrounded inside the forest?
And then there was that girl…

She’d felt it, the black energy intruding into the fabric of the spell, taking her away. In spite of that, Alice had still searched frantically for the girl upon arriving, at least until the pain of her injuries had become unbearable and she’d had to crawl inside the house to tend to her wounds.

Fortunately, a couple of blood-replenishing potions had made it through the journey intact. After ingesting the foul-tasting concoctions, whose viscous consistency felt like it sapped all the moisture from her throat, she’d turned her own magic inwards, healing the broken rib the girl had left her with when she’d struck Alice and shoved her off the roof. After that, she’d almost fainted – her body could no longer take the strain of using magic. That meant that the large, painful wound on her shoulder would have to wait, so Alice had to make do with tearing off a large strip of cloth from her skirt and fashioning it into a crude bandage.

The girl, she realized now, would probably be even worse off than her. Her visible wounds had been just as bad as Alice’s own, and from the way she’d coughed blood almost to the point of vomiting, the internal damage she’d taken was probably terrible.
Still, it wasn’t as though she wouldn’t receive treatment.

After all, it was Remilia who had taken her. Her personality seeped into her magic, vicious and mocking, and it made her influence on Yukari’s spell unmistakable.

Alice frowned, feeling a horrified disgust rising from her chest to her throat. The thought of a monster like Remilia getting her bloodstained claws on that girl made her feel violated.

After all, the girl’s name was Alice.

That alone meant so much… For Alice, it made what she’d been trying to achieve that lonely night seem like nothing. It spoke of things frightful and terrible, but also of unspeakable wonder.

It meant that her magic…

The distant tinkling of dozens of bells snapped her out of her thoughts. The air shimmered, and the portal opened and then closed.

“You’re hurt…” Alice murmured without getting up.

Yukari walked closer to Alice, the lower half of her violet dress torn up and stained bright red with blood, visibly fighting to keep her expression neutral even though the obvious pain made her flinch with every step she took. “That is… of the least concern,” she muttered. “I’m quite sorry I’m late… I had something to take care of. The girl?”
She looked around the ruined house, gold eyes bright with worry, before giving Alice an inquisitive stare.

“Remilia,” Alice answered, despondent.

“I imagined as much.” Yukari sighed, then tried to move closer, before a false step on her bad leg nearly sent her stumbling. She stifled a shriek. Alice made to stand up, but the woman waved her off. “No… I can do it. If you’ll forgive my immodesty…”

With a grimace, Yukari lifted the lower half of her dress, revealing most of her legs. Alice flinched – the pale flesh of Yukari’s left thigh had been torn up, as though a mad butcher had taken a knife to it, and the wound oozed bright red blood, which dripped down her calf to the floor. Concentrating on the injury, Yukari took a deep, shaky breath, and Alice could feel her magic gathering, first in her chest, then down to her right hand. Biting hard on her lower lip, the woman traced the length of the wound with her fingers, the blue energy shining over her hand mixing with the crimson of her blood. Then, slowly, but speeding up with each second, the flesh began to knit together, and new skin and muscle began to grow over the laceration.

After a minute, her leg looked completely normal. The only sign of the soft white skin having ever been disturbed was the splattering of dried blood along her thigh, calf, and the floor.

“There we go,” she murmured with a relieved sigh, letting go of the fabric of her dress as she once more turned to look at Alice. “You’re still hurt?”

Alice nodded. “My shoulder. Shoulders. I got cut on my left shoulder… that’s minor, but my right shoulder got run through. I don’t think the joint’s broken, but the muscle got completely torn up. I don’t have any energy left to fix it.”

“May I?” asks Yukari.

Alice hesitated, but then accepted anyway. It was a tad too late to start refusing help.
With a weak smile, Yukari approached her and undid the makeshift bandage tied over Alice’s wound. The girl flinched, but said nothing, focusing on ignoring her pain as Yukari opened her blood-soaked white blouse and placed her hands to her wounds. Then, the magic began, pulling the broken flesh back together until the pale skin bore no signs of what had previously transpired.

“Thank you,” Alice murmured, voice still weak, once Yukari was finished. She moved her right arm experimentally, noticing with satisfaction how the pain had been replaced by little more than a dull soreness. But then her gaze hardened. “When you warned me that Remilia might be involved in all of this,” she began, somber, “you never told me that what she would have in store for me would be…”

“…that girl,” Yukari finished for her. “You would not have believed me,” she counters, “and I did not want to risk what little trust you’d vested in me.”

“Perhaps you were correct,” Alice assented, laboriously standing from the swaying chair. “But…” she placed her blood-stained Grimoire on top of her nearby half-broken work desk, small hands pressing down on the locked cover. She tensed, the pace of her breathing began to quicken. “Do you know… do you know what she… what it means to me…”

“I-“

“No, you do not!” She turned on Yukari, green eyes wide with unshakeable conviction. “You have lived for over a thousand years and seen more than I could hope to know about, but still you are bound to the rules of magic. Or is this not true?”
Yukari said nothing, but her silence was acquiescence enough.

“It is true,” Alice went on, “and it should have been true for me… but these two hands…” As she spoke, she lifted her hands up to her face, as though looking at them for the first time. “From the moment I bled over that cursed book… the power of miracles in my grasp…”

“You can make fire from air and a sword from iron, but you cannot make embers turn to diamonds and iron become gold. And yet, I…” She let her hands fall and clenched them into fists. “But at the most crucial moment, the magic would not come. Did I make a mistake? She defeated me, and took the grandest key straight out of the book, ripping its pages.” She grimaced, her features tightening as though a phantom pain had overcome her chest. “It hurt so much…”

“What is it that I forgot? I do not know. But I know it can be recovered. With the stolen pages or without them. I can feel it, throbbing inside of my chest whenever I feel like surrendering to despair.” Shanghai stood, immobile, not two steps away. Alice approached her, placing her hands on the doll’s shoulders. “Look at her, Yukari, so beautifully proportioned and utterly exquisite, every single part of her formed to fit an ideal of flawless beauty, to follow a passionate desire.”

She leaned forward, and placed a soft kiss upon the doll’s cold lips. Then, she turned to meet Yukari’s gaze once more. “Can you look at her, and tell me that she doesn’t make you believe, even if it is only for a second, that there is still a spark of a miracle in my soul – no, that is conceited, a spark of a miracle in the soul of every thinking being?”

Yukari looked at Alice with a sadness in her eyes that no matter how much she wanted to could not become pity – for indeed there was much to mourn for in the loss of the bright young girl she’d met so long ago, but nothing to pity about the dark puppeteer. “I could not deny it, Alice,” she finally said, her words soothing in sound but utterly sincere, “that is, after all, something I’ve always believed… in a twisted sort of way for most of my life, perhaps more purely now.”

“It’s almost as though she were really looking at you,” said Alice, cupping Shanghai’s face in her hands and staring straight into the doll’s amber eyes, “but once you force your mind past the sweet mirage of color, there is nothing but black. It’s so sad…” She placed her lips to the doll’s once more, as though expecting a reaction that would not come. Then, she let her arms drop, and slowly walked away until she stood once more at her work desk, watching the moonlight filter in through a broken window and shine upon her Grimoire. “All I wanted was to reach that spark as I had before, ignite the fire again, even if for just long enough to put a whisper of a soul inside eyes like those. But when I tried, it was so painful… and I thought I’d failed, but what I obtained was so much more than that…”

She turned around, smiling at Yukari with a mixture of sadness and hope. “Was it a sin? It wasn’t a sin, was it?”

For a long moment, the woman remained quiet, then, after taking a deep breath, she spoke. “Creating life is never a sin, Alice. Not in the way you did, at least.”

“And that is the word of the Youkai of Boundaries?”

“For what little it might be worth, yes,” Yukari answered.

“So it wasn’t a sin,” said Alice, “not the act, at least, and not the result. But the darker areas lie in-between. My lack of willpower prevented me from seeing the truth of the miracle I wrought, and meant I could not contain the putrefaction left over from the first step of the process, the black corrosion Kazami so easily took upon herself to add to her already massive vortex of rot. My fear and despair tainted everything… just like they always do. And besides the obvious they are the source of yet another sin – that girl is alive, beautifully, wonderfully alive, made of warm flesh and blood and the sweet allure of a soul. But… but… her name is Alice. You understand what that means, from what I told you, do you not?”

“It is painfully obvious,” said Yukari mournfully.

“If, perhaps, my memory had not been fixed on the end of that inanimate dream, then maybe she… but I could not think of anything else, no matter how much I tried…” Alice ran her hands over her face and let out a long, shuddering sigh. Then she frowned and shook her head. “Enough, enough of this,” she said to Yukari with a weak smile, “I’ll cry.”
Yukari’s eyes widened in honest surprise at the uncharacteristic admission, but she nodded, wanting nothing more than to keep the girl from being in more pain. “Yes… there are also some other things we should discuss. But this isn’t the place.” She offered a hand to Alice. “Would you come with me to my home? I can’t let you spend the night in this ruined house.”

“And the dolls?”

“I’ll take care to have them brought to you, don’t worry.”

Alice took her hand.
>> No. 44147
File 128981267055.jpg - (130.16KB, 480x640, To Darkly Ponder.jpg) [iqdb]
44147
Alice sat on the soft bed, trying her best not to fall sideways into well-deserved sleep. Yukari’s glimmering portal had deposited them in a dark, spacious room, leaving Yukari standing by the doorway but Alice lying right on top of a comfy, warm mattress.

There was a minute of silence, in which the two stared at each other, uneasy.

“We’re not done,” Alice finally said, frowning. “How did you get injured? I didn’t anticipate you coming to help me, but once you were there I didn’t think you’d stay and fight, either.”

A brief look of hurt passed over Yukari’s face at those first words, but was gone almost before Alice had a chance to register it, replaced by a beautiful, if altogether sad and forced, smile. “I do not believe Kazami capable of tracking my movements,” she said, “but just to be careful, I wanted to delay her long enough to be sure she’d have no time to even attempt tracking the spell before the remnants of the magic started to fade.”

“So you dueled with her?” asked Alice, dispassionate.

“Yes.” A tinge of cruelty seeped into Yukari’s smile. “When I figured I’d delayed her long enough, I left my guard open just a tad. She struck, falling into a… nasty trap. Let’s just say I bought us a day, or three.”

“Still, no matter how much damage she sustains, it’s like trying to push back the sea with a single hand,” murmured Alice, “At this stage of things, at that level of corruption she’s shown, only I…”

“…only you…?” Yukari’s voice was a hushed whisper, as though she dreaded Alice’s next words.

The girl shook her head. “Either way, you were wounded for my sake.” She stood up; the darkness of the room giving her beautiful green eyes a strange, haunting tint. “At first, I didn’t think you… I mean… thank you.”

Slowly, she reached out, and softly brushed her fingers on the back of Yukari’s hand. Then, just as quickly, she withdrew. “I still don’t understand, though,” she mumbles. “What happened later? You said you’d had something else to attend to.”

“Yes,” said Yukari. “Reimu. Specifically, I believed if Kazami had recently grown so bold, there might be a chance that she would see fit to eliminate the Shrine Maiden.”

“That would destroy the Territory,” said Alice. “But unlike with me… Gensokyo is no dream. That monster…”

“Her wish is not only to take you, Alice,” Yukari explained, “but to create chaos out of what once was order. You know as well as I do, that where her presence goes, so goes misery. The only reason she has not previously attempted to destroy the Barrier and probably everything several hundred miles beyond is that she knew there were others who would oppose her, myself among them. But now that her power’s grown to such an extent, she fears nothing.”

“Evil for evil’s sake,” Alice whispered. “A senseless thing reserved only for sentient beings. Interesting how she sees herself so far above human, but at the same time incarnates mankind’s greatest sins.”

“Such is the nature of beings like her.”

“And Reimu?” Alice clenched her fists. “She’s fine, right?”

“Of course,” answered Yukari, smiling again, this time more warmly. “As Kazami was busy with you and then myself, the strike on Reimu could only be carried out by her subordinates. I warned Marisa to aid Reimu and take her from the shrine – it’s not safe there, not anymore. Before coming to meet you, I merely checked if they didn’t require further assistance.”

“It’s still not safe, though!” Alice’s voice rose slightly in protest. “Even if she lives in the outer edge of the forest, Marisa is still too close to the initial corruption. Kazami could track them down.”

“I never said anything about Marisa taking Reimu to her home, Alice. Rather, I arranged for a way to bring them here – you’ll meet them tomorrow.”

Alice sighed, relieved. “Well, then…” She smiled wanly. “That’s better than I hoped.”
“I won’t let you down, Alice,” Yukari said, her voice warm and soothing. “Now, you need rest. I’ll have food and drink sent up here, and then you can sleep, alright?”

Nodding , Alice sat back down on the bed. “Yes… I do need some rest. But…” Her eyes narrowed, boring into Yukari’s with utter conviction. “We have to stop her, Yukari. I don’t care what Reimu or Marisa might choose to do to strike back – either way… I’ll meet her, and end her.”

“And either way, I won’t let you do it alone,” Yukari said, forcefully. “Now… rest. You need it. Goodbye…”

Saying nothing more, she turned to go, leaving Alice to brood.

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

"Something needs to be done, and quickly..."

[] "I don't care what Reimu and Marisa might do, or what Yukari might have them do. Beyond everything else that she might do, Kazami is my enemy. I must seek her out alone."

[] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

[] Write-in.
>> No. 44148
[X] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

And now we know better.

Who here wants to see Flandre and Yuuka have a go at it?
>> No. 44150
[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."
>> No. 44152
[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."
>> No. 44153
Holy shit.

That was awesome.

[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

This is everybody's problem now.
>> No. 44154
[X] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

This isn't the time to be a loner.
>> No. 44155
[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."
>> No. 44156
[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

Alice is a coward at heart. Trying to do everything by herself will go nowhere.

Is anyone else disappointed at Yuuka's motivations?. It makes me feel as if I were reading Owens story again. I have faith that she will not be such a one-dimensional character.
Also, Elly ;_;
>> No. 44157
[ø] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

You magnificent bastard. That was one of the best posts I've read on THP/TH-P.
>> No. 44159
[] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

>Who here wants to see Flandre and Yuuka have a go at it?

That would be awesome. But then again, this Flandre isn't like the other Flandres; instad of love for her sister, there is fear, and maybe even hate.
>> No. 44160
>>44148
I do!
and
[X] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."
>> No. 44161
>Is anyone else disappointed at Yuuka's motivations? It makes me feel as if I were reading Owens story again. I have faith that she will not be such a one-dimensional character.

I'm not. We don't know the whole story yet, but her conflict with Alice is supported in canon. It's not simply an entertainment for her; she's committed (and now lost, with Elly) significant resources in this move and has pissed off pretty much all the powers-that-be in Gensokyo whom we've been yet introduced to, and according to Yukari her aims would destroy Gensokyo, or at least the Border.

A big difference between Yuka and ASSM's Remilia is that she doesn't seem to have human pretensions. She's an ageless, ineffable, unstoppable monster. And that's not an uncommon portrayal.
>> No. 44169
[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."
>> No. 44171
File 129006140080.jpg - (21.14KB, 622x247, wagnerleavesthemallinthedustthough.jpg) [iqdb]
44171
>ten identical votes

>not even a write-in

>my fucking face

Okay, guys. I'll crack - the hell am I doing wrong, here? Am I being too cryptic with the characterizations, making what should be more or less complex choices look obvious? Am I not revealing enough plot per update, making the updates feel bloated rather than engaging? What is it.
>> No. 44172
File 129006632417.jpg - (132.19KB, 550x944, 1269018710422.jpg) [iqdb]
44172
>>44171
I am not sure i can follow you. Do you want more Write ins or discussion? Or are you cfonused that something stupid was choosen?
>> No. 44173
[x] "There can be no doubt that in the end it will just be me and her, but.... If Reimu and Marisa will attempt to counterattack, with Yukari's help and under her orders, all the better. I'll go with them. I can use them to fight Kazami's beasts and concentrate all of my attention on that demon."

So, somebody help me out here:
The reason Alice II thought she smelled the corrupting evil on Original Recipe Alice was because O.R. Alice still bears the lingering taint from when she got her ass whooped by Yuuka (who was actually the one responsible for the corruption), right?
>> No. 44174
>>44171
Well, I can't help but ask what >>44172 said.

I have a terrible inability to grasp the larger picture, sometimes, so I'm really not good at making write-ins for a story this grand.
>> No. 44175
>>44171
>Am I being too cryptic with the characterizations, making what should be more or less complex choices look obvious?

Yes. The vote presented boils down to 'fight Yuuka alone' or 'fight Yuuka with help.' The coalition building decision here is in keeping with the decision to approach Reimu a few updates back. Regardless of the characterization you're going with Alice, there has been an expressed interest in cooperation. The unanimous nature of the decision doesn't surprise me. The lack of a write-in is disappointing, true, but I'm hard pressed to figure out what we could accomplish with one at the moment. The decision at hand is whether to work with the others or not; outside of some ridiculously nuanced allocation of responsibilities, the decision is a binary one. Anything that doesn't address the current situation would feel like a frivolous diversion from the matter confronting us.

I'll go out on a limb and say that if you wanted more debate regarding the decision, you could have ended the update earlier and let Alice (us) decide her agenda rather than focusing in on the narrow topic of whether to accept aid or not regarding Yuuka.
>> No. 44176
>>44175
I agree with this anon.

I love your massive updates, but sometimes, using a series of short and quick updates might work better instead of progressing too far based on just one input choice.
>> No. 44177
>>44176
I disagree. Giving us a massive update with only a single choice in-between allows him to set character development and advance the plot further at his own discretion. Palingenesia was a great example of this.
>> No. 44178
>>44177

...didn't Palingenesia stall, never to return?

Because that's the feeling I'm getting with this. No, I'm not losing interest or anything like that (way too much effort invested for me to even vaguely consider dropping this), but the updates have become progressively harder to write, and I have noticed a drop in votes and discussion when comparing these last two threads to the first.

Having thought it over for a while before this, and now reading some of these responses, I'm starting to think that maybe the reason behind all of that it's much harder to keep a story fresh if it delivers a 10k-word update every month and a half than if it delivers a 1k word update every day or two.

So what I'm saying is that I'm willing to try a new approach and update more frequently, see if the change of pace benefits the story (it'd certainly benefit me as a writer, since I'd be writing more frequently). There's of course an obvious catch - as the choices will be infinitely more frequent, some of them won't have as much impact on the plot, but I'm fairly certain everyone is aware of this.
>> No. 44179
>>44178
>didn't Palingenesia stall, never to return
He accidentally deleted everything related to the story.

As for the rest, do what you wish. Writing this is an evolving process, right? If smaller updates work out great, more power to you. I am certain no one will complain about getting more to read.
>> No. 44180
>>44178
>There's of course an obvious catch - as the choices will be infinitely more frequent, some of them won't have as much impact on the plot, but I'm fairly certain everyone is aware of this.

You needn't worry about the effect an increased amount of voting options would have on the plot. While decisions may become a little more inconsequential to the over-arching story, being that much more involved will endear people to the story. I think 'invested' is the term. My only concern is what an increased amount of voting would do to your writing style and flow of the story. Part of the allure (particularly with the last few updates) of this story is that while the updates/voting opportunities are infrequent, the actual content is wonderful. New updates are detailed, visceral, emotional, and cram-packed with refreshing characterizations and ideas. It can afford to be as much because it doesn't involve anon mucking things up with decisions left and right. The fight between Alice and Alice was fantastic; an artful example of what makes the story shine. It was intense, revealing, and very mindful of some important details. In any other story, though, the fight would have been punctuated by at least three votes, one of which would have lent itself to not forgetting about Hourai and Shanghai.

If you're thinking of changing it up, be mindful of the control over the story you'd be granting to anonymous.
>> No. 44187
>>44180

Well, I do reserve the right to lengthen an update when we hit a major turning point. And of course, to remind anon not to metagame and to be mindful of characterization, not just about what's obvious (don't drug up Koa and go to town on her*), but also what's more subtle (ALICE at her worst can be terribly cruel and painfully short-sighted, and you should keep that in mind if you're voting in a scene that has her under lots of pressure).

Anyway. Let's try it. If it doesn't work, I can always go back to how it was.

*...now that's a side-story idea...
>> No. 44188
“…some severe internal damage. If I were a less capable magician this could have turned bleak.”

Your vision is entirely blurry, and you can barely make out the words you hear.

“How fortunate then, that you’re one of the greatest witches born in the past century, no, Patches~?”

But you can clearly see at least one thing in the haze – a pair of eyes coloured a magnificent crimson, fixing on you an unreadable stare.

Don’t call me that, I’ll hex you. And don’t try to distract me with flattery – why did you let her go?”

A pale hand, waved in a slow, delicate motion over your face.

Suddenly, you feel even more tired…

“Enough. Come with me…”
>> No. 44190
File 129019854662.jpg - (196.15KB, 600x800, Tea and One or Two Murders.jpg) [iqdb]
44190
Organ Opusculum in C Minor, No. 200,000,000 [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K03LLn6LpBY ]

“Tsk, tsk, completely pushed back,” says Remilia with a smirk, deftly having used her black rook to force your white queen to withdraw from what had looked like a strong check. You moan quietly, and inwardly curse your lack of foresight as you stare at the chessboard with despondency. “This does remind me of when I destroyed the British at Saint-Martin-de-Ré. They looked so brave, and then… whoops!” Remilia giggles, and uses the opening created to capture a knight of yours with one of her own. “Screaming like little girls because all their ships were on fire~.”

Patchouli, seated to your left, sets down her glass of brandy with an irritated harrumph. “The Duke of Buckingham was an incompetent, good at pleasing the court and seducing idiotic women, but at little else. His loss in such a battle was something to be expected.”

“See, Alice?” says Remilia, gesturing at the wizard. “English people are sore losers~.”

You blink, staring dumbfounded at the two of them. What are they even talking about?

“Alice, there’s a check at D4,” says Patchouli to Remilia’s suddenly horrified countenance, “move the bishop… good girl! Now, Remi, would you like to give up the knight or the rook, I wonder?” She gives the vampire a soft but uncharacteristically devious grin.

“…hate you…” mumbles Remilia, moving her knight between the bishop and the king with a grimace.

“Ah, thanks, Patchouli,” you giggle softly for a second before you stop, wincing at the pain in your stomach. Closing your eyes, you place a hand over your abdomen, crumpling the soft fabric of your recently repaired dress. “Ow…”

Patchouli frowns at this and stands up. She places a warm hand over your forehead, then runs it along your slender neck, and finally again over your midriff. Though you know she’s merely checking for abnormalities, you still blush beet red at her touch. “You don’t feel feverish… are you dizzy? Feeling weaker?”

“No, no, I’m fine,” you mumble nervously, “really. I’m just sore down there, is all.”
“Hmph,” Patchouli nods, but her purple eyes don’t leave you even as she sits back down.
“Well, I wish you were that nice to me when I get sick,” Remilia mocks her, taking a sip from her own glass of milky green absinthe as she does.

“You never get sick, Remi,” counters Patchouli. “And Alice can’t regenerate her injuries like you can, to start, and I’ll say that either way she’s a pleasant patient, she tells me just where it hurts and when I do something that makes her feel better, and leaves it at that. You, on the other hand, would abuse such a situation to have me and Sakuya shower you with unwarranted attention. After all, you forgot the meaning of pleasantness sometime during the seventeenth century.”

“What!?” Remilia looks honestly offended. “I’m the nicest, most humble person I know! Alice, say something!”

“You’re a magnificent example of beauty, elegance, and grace, milady,” you tell her with complete sincerity.

“See Patchouli? I’m nice!” says Remilia with a broad grin.

“I said nothing about being nice, milady,” you cut in with a small smile, feeling particularly bold this morning.

Remilia stares at you for a bit, then looks away, making a face. You hold back a sigh – you were afraid she’d get mad.

“Well done, Alice,” Patchouli nods approvingly.

“Ah, such a show of ungratefulness, Patchouli, verbally assaulting me while drinking my alcohol. Oh, marble-hearted fiend…” Remilia pouts, but she’s clearly more amused than anything. “At any rate… isn’t it time we discussed what we got together to talk about in the first place? I’ll remind you, Patchouli, that the only reason Alice and I started playing was because you took your sweet time getting here~.”

You suppress a grimace. After pulling you from the battle, Remilia had left you in Patchouli’s hands, and the witch had worked her magic on you for what was left of the night and for the better part of the early morning. Even so, you’d been out like a light for at least a day, and weak and dizzy for most of another one. However, that had not stopped Remilia from summoning you and Patchouli to her chambers the moment you started feeling better.

“I was busy preparing several things,” says Patchouli, unfazed. “As per your request, no less. At any rate, shall we start now, or do you plan on finishing?” She looks at you and gestures at the chessboard.

“Um… I think I’d rather quit while I’m ahead,” you mumble. Truth be told, Remilia is massacring you. A cunning and ruthless opponent, she bases her game on feints and gambits, willingly throwing away her pieces to create openings in your ranks, which she then tears into without mercy.

“Oh.” Patchouli shrugs, but looks slightly disappointed. “I was hoping you’d let me assist you, Alice. It would be a true test of my skill, to defeat Remilia when crippled with your overwhelmingly disadvantageous position.”

“Er…”

“No, seriously, you play like you’re blind or something.” She smirks.

You glare, your cheeks heating up. “I’m trying, alright?”

Patchouli giggles, then shakes her head. “That was in jest, Alice, don’t take it so personally.”

“Alice just has a nasty temper, don’t you, dear?” Remilia cuts in. Taking her own decision, she snaps her fingers, and the marble chessboard vanishes from the table, returning perhaps to wherever she stores her things. “Oh, she’ll act calm and collected and nice, and then you do something she doesn’t like, just the tiniest thing, and she’ll look like she wants to break your neck~.”

You gape, briefly surprised before the words sink in and you clench your teeth in anger. “I don’t… I don’t do that,” you mumble, the grip your hands have on your knees tightening considerably.

The smile on Remilia’s face turns into a predatory smirk. “Really? This is just too cute-“
“Remi, enough,” Patchouli cuts in. “The same goes for you, Alice. Heaven knows Remilia is irritating, but being roused as easily as this by her is beyond childish.”

Remilia just harrumphs; but you, irritated, turn to glare bitterly at Patchouli.

She stares you down, completely calm, for what feels like an eternity. Then, at last, you give up, looking away with a grimace.

“Can we begin, now?” asks the witch, the smallest hint of exasperation creeping into her voice. “We’re not exactly in a position to squander time.”

“Time really is a limited resource, yes~.”

You look up. Sakuya.

She walks inside, closing the door behind her with a smile, and then gives Remilia a small, formal bow. “Milady,” she says, then turns to greet you with a nod, “Alice, Patchouli.”
You notice that, for the first time since you met her, Sakuya is not wearing her uniform, but rather a white blouse, black pants, and a pair of old knee-length boots. Wrapped over her body, perhaps for heat, is a tattered brown cloak. Her long silver hair, which besides her perpetual braids usually falls loose down her shoulders, is now tied back into a ponytail.

“I must truly apologize for my inelegance,” she begins, gesturing at herself as she walks to stand beside Remilia, who takes one look at her before pointing her to a seat, upon which the girl quickly settles on with a sigh of relief. “But my usual dress was simply far too conspicuous.”

“After the events that just occurred, I sent Sakuya to scout out several things,” Remilia explains, noticing the dumbfounded look you give Sakuya. “She got back just in time, too, how perfect~.”

“There’s little that’s perfect about all this, milady,” says Sakuya. “I visited the shrine – it’s empty, and most of the courtyard is destroyed. I suppose we can infer from that that the Shrine Maiden was attacked recently, perhaps the very same night Alice rushed out of the mansion...”

“Did you use the tracing crystals I gave you?” interjects Patchouli before you, slightly flustered, can speak.

“Yes. Yukari’s magic was present in the area – I can only assume she intervened.”

“I see…” mumbles Remilia, pensive.

You frown, feeling worried and utterly out of the loop. Yukari was the woman who intervened by keeping that monster away from you and your namesake, right? Then… what was she doing there afterwards? And this Shrine Maiden…

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

‘I’m not sure I understand…’

[] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.

[] This is maddening. Interrupt them, and ask Patchouli to give her briefing first.

[] Write-in.
>> No. 44192
[x] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.

Simply listening usually grants most of the explanations needed when you are confused about something.
>> No. 44193
[] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.
>> No. 44194
>updates

bisonyes.gif

[x] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.

Alice is impatient but not that impatient.
>> No. 44195
[X] This is maddening. Interrupt them, and ask Patchouli to give her briefing first.

Need a solid info base first.
>> No. 44196
>Interrupt them, and ask Patchouli to give her briefing first.
This would be asking for Remilia to give Alice a verbal smackdown.

[X] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.
>> No. 44197
[X] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.
>> No. 44198
[x] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.
>> No. 44199
[x] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.

Well, we do need more info.
>> No. 44200
[ø] This is maddening. Interrupt them, and ask Patchouli to give her briefing first.
>> No. 44201
[x] Stay quiet and let Sakuya keep on talking, ask for explanations later. This sounds important.
Info is good, almost as good as bifauxnen Sakuya.
>> No. 44205
File 129041907683.jpg - (542.53KB, 1280x808, A History of Scarlet.jpg) [iqdb]
44205
Frustrated, you try to speak, but a look from Patchouli silences you as she directs you with a small nod to look at Remilia. Seeing the vampire, you understand. For once, she shows no emotion, her eyes half-closed in thought as she listens intently to Sakuya. She’s plotting – this is important.

“Go on, Sakuya,” Remilia half-whispers.

“After that, I searched the forest thoroughly,” states Sakuya. “I found no beasts, only empty cocoons and several blasted clearings where the trees looked like they’d been eaten from the inside out. Marisa’s house is empty. As for Margatroid, her home is… gone. There’s a hole in the ground where it used to be.”

“What?” you gasp, unable to help yourself.

“Besides Margatroid’s and Kazami’s, there are absolutely massive remnants of Yukari’s magic all over the area,” says Sakuya, sparing you only a fleeting, unreadable look.

“She transported the entire home out of Kazami’s grasp as a precaution,” mumbles Remilia, and a small smile begins to draw itself across her lips, “truly, this has been a satisfying series of bold opening moves. Your final assessment, if you please.”

Sakuya turns to look at you briefly once more. You frown – though there is no hostility in her gaze, you don’t like the way her pale blue eyes scrutinize you.

“From what I’ve been able to gather,” she tells Remilia, “and from trying to make a sense of the mess of different magic signatures picked up by Patchouli’s crystals, we can form at least something that resembles an outline. Margatroid does… something, perhaps related with the problem with Alice’s memories.” You feel your breath catch in your chest. “Whatever it was, it had an unintended side effect that Kazami took advantage of. That much I can suppose, at least, from the crystal analysis – in the tainted clearings, Margatroid’s magical signature appears in copious quantities, but is quickly covered and replaced by Kazami’s. Kazami then attacks both Margatroid and Reimu, at which point Yukari intervenes, using Marisa to take Reimu to safety and personally appearing to remove Margatroid and Alice from Kazami’s attack. What I cannot possibly discern are Kazami’s motives.”

“I don’t even know half of those names,” you mumble, covering your face with your hands.

“Ah, confused, Alice~?” asks Remilia, “Yes, I do suppose your knowledge is… fragmented. Patchouli…”

“Alice holds basic knowledge about Gensokyo and the world we come from,” says the witch, “but due to the fragmentation of her memories she is not conversant in the deeper details, not even the ones that should be common knowledge. I was planning on instructing her, of course, but you’ll understand, Remi, that current events haven’t allowed for it.”

You grind your teeth. Though Patchouli said nothing wrong, you still absolutely despise it when people talk about you as though you weren’t there.

Remilia seems to take notice of this, and smiles at you, placing a hand under her chin as she stretches her massive wings and then relaxes them with a sigh. “Give her a lesson on that as soon as you have time,” she mutters. “As for you, Alice, you’ve already fought that dirty thief Marisa when she tried to loot books from the library, right~? Kazami is the woman who got the drop on you and Margatroid the other night, and Yukari, is of course, the lady who tried to take you away from there and keep you for herself. I’ll have to tell her that’s selfish~.

You feel yourself drawing back involuntary at that last sentence. Though Remilia’s expression does not change as she speaks of Yukari, there’s a slight but noticeable tightening of her body that sends a chill down your spine.

“I’ll elaborate on Reimu. As you know, Gensokyo is a magical Territory sealed off from the outside by a magical barrier, anchored, as all wards, to a link, in this case a somewhat weak but infinitely practical one – the eldest female descendant of the Hakurei family of Japanese priests. Kill the girl, and the barrier shatters to pieces. Now, that wouldn’t directly affect us besides the part where Patchouli would strangle me for making her move the mansion back to Europe, but it is of paramount importance for the myriad of inhabitants of Gensokyo who use the Great Barrier as protection, as well as, of course, for the territory creator, that the ward remain standing. That’s why Kazami attacking Reimu is quite an incredibly bold move.”

“A declaration of war,” interjects Patchouli. “In attacking the Shrine Maiden she disregards the dueling rules agreed on to protect her, incidentally also voiding them for herself.”

“She must be entirely confident in her own power, then,” muses Sakuya.

Remilia snorts. “I knew it would happen at some point. The duel rules are a sham made to protect that cowardly runt, Reimu, because she’s not a fifth of what her mother was.” For once, and to your surprise, you detect a flash of admiration in Remilia’s scarlet gaze. “Now that woman, so resourceful she almost defeated me in actual armed combat; she didn’t need protecting.”

“Kazami is that monstrous woman from the other night, right?” you ask, troubled. “What is she? I felt like I was going to be sick just looking at her, worse than the first time I saw the beasts. And why would she want to do all of this?”

Remilia’s expression darkens. “What is she, I wonder? Not human, and I don’t mean that in the poetic sense or,” she grins, placing a hand over her chest, “in my sense. No. You see, she holds a human body and revels in the very human desire of holding power, and when she cares to state her reasons they’re as could be produced by a human mind, albeit an entirely twisted one. But she holds monstrous power, and as you very well noted, reeks of…”

“Evil,” Sakuya cuts in, frowning sharply, “a demon from Hell.”

Remilia raises an eyebrow at this, a strangely knowing expression on her face. But it is Patchouli who clears her throat, drinks some more brandy, and then speaks, “Though Kazami’s actions might indicate otherwise, having cared for and raised a demon from Hell myself, from childhood to adolescence, I can tell you she’s probably not one.”

“That is entirely different,” says Sakuya, her voice slightly strained, “Koakuma wasn’t born evil, and she was raised far from evil. But Kazami, even if not literally, for all intents and purposes-“

“Either way,” Remilia cuts in, and the look she gives Sakuya is inordinately sharp, “it doesn’t really matter if she’s human or an incredibly intelligent species of flatworm~.” She giggles at her own joke. “What matters is that she has power, and is willing to use it. Against us, probably, as we make a very large target, and against Yukari, certainly, as from what little we’ve seen from the pattern of her actions over the years I always suspected Kazami wanted to undo the Great Barrier. The question is why – it’s not like it constrains her. After all, the Barrier is quite porous, when one has the means. Perhaps a personal vendetta? God knows I’d hang Yukari by her intestines!”

She laughs, but it’s more of a cackle, this time. Cruel and sharp. Both Sakuya and Patchouli smile subtly.
You blanch, realizing Remilia’s serious and the other two women are if not in mild agreement at least not in opposition. You recall the beautiful, sad-looking blonde woman who got between you and Kazami, and find yourself unable to link her to such dislike. “Who is Yukari, really?” you ask, intimidated, “And what’s she done to deserve that?”

Remilia grins, a far-off look in her crimson eyes as she reminisces. “I suppose the label of ‘witch’ might for all intents and purposes fit her, though it might not be accurate – ‘witch’ implies humanity and I’m not entirely sure she was born human, though she looks the part. As for what’s she’s done…”

She takes a sip of absinthe from her glass, her eyes brightening. “Why, she’s my old foe, Alice~! Older even than me, she’s wandered the world for God knows how many years, and often our paths crossed, and she was always on the wrong side, how annoying~. She was vicious, cruel, spitefully random in her actions, and perpetually getting in my way. She’d massacre Protestants one day and smuggle that hideous bastard John Calvin out of the Continent the next. She murdered, she tortured, and whenever we would meet, she would oppose me.”

“While I agree in denoting her as a monster, Remilia, from what you tell me you’re not exactly innocent when it comes to Protestants, yourself,” says Patchouli, impish.

“Hey~,” Remilia protests, making a face, “Huguenots don’t count. They’re like some sort of hybrid cross between a lamebrained monkey and a two-legged rat. I did the world a favor at La Rochelle~.”

“What.” You mumble, dumbfounded, as the two start giggling. Besides you, Sakuya looks only slightly less confused.

Remilia shakes her head. “Ah, don’t mind us, you two,” she says placidly, “it’s just that sometimes I do get carried away by the memories…”

You look beyond her, at the centuries-old portraits hanging on the wall, and shiver. For you, with a life without memory that started barely three weeks ago, such a thing is at the same time beautiful and unfathomable. Disquieted, you change the subject to something more immediately relevant. “Still, she didn’t seem any of those things when I saw her…”
“Who knows? She has indeed become far less aggressive and outwardly devious in recent times. But more than likely it’s all a ploy,” says Remilia, derisive, “trust me, I know her; she’s a good actress. But push her too far and the mask breaks quite quickly, like, oh, when I first arrived to this land.”

You frown, “What do you mean, milady?”

“Yukari is the one who first sealed off this Territory,” states Patchouli. “Presumably out of some altruistic idea of preserving an area of high magical concentration in its pristine state, but more than likely to serve one of her many plots – oh, don’t give me that look, Alice. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been at Remilia’s side since Queen Victoria, bless her great soul. This includes several times she’s clashed against Yukari.”

“At any rate, Yukari learned of milady’s coming, and of course decided to stop her,” Sakuya pipes up with an uncharacteristically broad grin. “She detected the most likely points of entry through which Patchouli could use magic to teleport the mansion through the Great Barrier, and quickly sealed them.”

“So…” continues Remilia…

“…I dug,” finishes Patchouli with a proud smile.

You gape. “I… don’t think I understand…”

“Oh, don’t be silly, dear, she didn’t dig with her hands!” Remilia laughs. “No, no, Patchouli teleported the mansion under the barrier. Ordinarily, this would have had a good chance of getting us encased under tons of solid rock, but a well timed magical explosion ensured that wasn’t the case~. Oh, oh…” Remilia rubs her pale hands together, her wings stretching widely as she positively quivers with joy. “You should have seen that whore Yukari’s face! Why, I don’t think I’d fooled anyone that badly since I tricked that imbecile Louis-Auguste into supporting the American Revolution~!”

With a loud cackle, Remilia punctuates this last sentence by downing the rest of her absinthe in one go, nodding to herself in utter satisfaction.
You smile in spite of yourself, but the memory of the blonde woman’s face quickly wipes the grin from your lips. “Why?” you ask softly.

“Why what?”

“Why did you choose to come here, milady?”

The glow of happiness disappears for a second from Remilia’s face, but is quickly replaced by another smirk, flashing each of her pointy white teeth. “You mean besides antagonizing Yukari?” she asks, “Well, truth be told, I was bored.”

“Bored?” you insist, brows knit.

Remilia shrugs. “After the last World War, the world just wasn’t the same. For once, there was peace that lasted decades, and thus no need for me to act as I did before, fighting wars and preventing catastrophes. I suppose you could say I wanted a change of scenery, in the face of all that.”

“Oh…”

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

She’s not telling you everything, but if she’s willing to talk without blowing you off there might be a chance to learn more.

[] Press her. This sounds important.

[]This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…

[]Write-in.
>> No. 44206
[x] Press her. This sounds important.

She's clearly hiding shit. This is a great time to pester her about it, because Sakuya and Patchy are here. She won't get too nasty, with them in close proximity.
>> No. 44207
[x] Press her. This sounds important.
>> No. 44208
[x] Appeal to her irresistible natural urge to boast.
>> No. 44209
[x] Press her. This sounds important.
>> No. 44210
[x] Press her. This sounds important.
>> No. 44211
My favorite story updates again! And so soon!

[x] This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…

I'd rather get to talking about Alice, proper. ALICE is understandable a little obsessed with her, and her battle to the death was punctuated with questions and ultimately interrupted by a greater evil. One that no one seems to really know anything about. Yukari's alliances and aims in the here and now are relatively clear, even if her history is spotty in the extreme. From what it sounds she's no worse than our current ally, Remilia, except maybe less openly cruel.

Patchouli can fill us in on the principals of Gensokyo later, and her appraisal of Yukari will likely be less coated in poison. However, Patch is reticent regarding Margatroid, presumably for ALICE's mental health, so we'll want to learn as much as we can about her from Remilia now; it's clear from her full moon visit with the dollmaker that they share a history. We have the benefit of others being present to check any flagrant manipulations of the truth. She was instrumental in driving the climatic Alice vs. ALICE fight, and we don't yet really know why she did it, except possibly boredom.
>> No. 44212
[x] This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…
>> No. 44213
[ø] This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…
>> No. 44215
[x] This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…

If those were the opening moves, I'm worried about how big a clusterfuck things are going to become when shit really gets underway.
>> No. 44216
[x] This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…
>>44215
A magnificent clusterfuck, that's what.
>> No. 44217
We're five for and five against Alice keeping her trap shut, but I want to write now, before it gets even more late and sleep wins out. See, I want to try for at least a 1k word update/day ratio, at least for these non-climactic periods of the story.

So I'm calling it and going for

>[x] This is stupid; you’re worrying about little details to ease your mind about Yukari, when there’s other things to talk about…

It's got the more convincing arguments behind it.
>> No. 44218
>>44217
>See, I want to try for at least a 1k word update/day ratio, at least for these non-climactic periods of the story.

This makes me very excited.
>> No. 44219
>>44217
I will fap in glee.

>It's got the more convincing arguments behind it.
I approve of this tie-breaking method.
>> No. 44241
OK, lots of bad decisions regarding my sleeping schedule and a whole host of real life problems sort of conspired to cause delays, but I'll do my best to pound out an update tomorrow, as what will happen next is important - the current mission statement is to extract as much character development as possible out of the SDM before Yukari's assault on Yuuka.
>> No. 44243
>>44241

Hooray!
>> No. 44280
File 129102295072.png - (923.13KB, 1500x1100, crimsonbelvedere.png) [iqdb]
44280
You meet Remilia’s scarlet gaze, and just from the way she looks at you, nevermind her flimsy excuse, you can tell she’s not telling you everything. However, there is no malice in her demeanor, no indication of trickery, however faint. You realize, inwardly surprised, that she’s not so much trying to hide anything as she simply does not want to talk about it for her own personal reasons.

You bite your lower lip, feeling somewhat ashamed that you had never even expected something like this altogether entirely human desire from Remilia. Not for the first time you wonder if your own prejudices, as well as Remilia’s own attitude, haven’t made you think of her in an entirely one-dimensional train of thought.

But, you ask yourself, if this merely a side-effect of her personality, or is there something deeper at work? After all, an enemy fooled into thinking of Remilia as nothing more than a perpetually mysterious schemer, disregarding the actual person beyond that, would be losing sight of many other important facets of an extremely dangerous foe.

“Well, now that everything else of importance has been discussed, I saw we proceed to what we’re here for. Sakuya, it’s a good thing you got here so quickly; I wouldn’t want to repeat myself later.” Patchouli speaks up, breaking your staring contest with Remilia.

You look away, and heat creeps up your cheeks once more. On the one hand, you feel embarrassed, as though you’d just been caught trying to pry into some sort of private secret. On the other, you’re frustrated at not getting the answer to your question.

“Shall I call Meiling?” Sakuya’s soft voice intrudes on your thoughts as she looks questioningly at Patchouli.

“I did that as I was leaving the library,” says the witch, “it’s just that she’s-“

“So sorry I’m late…” Meiling walks, or rather stumbles into the room with a tired sigh that sounds quite a bit like a stifled yawn. You idly notice that her braids are undone, and that she’s not wearing her cheongsam, the lack of her distinctive bright green dress leaving her in only a wrinkled white blouse and a pair of old gray pants. Her large blue eyes seem bloodshot. “I, uh… went back to sleep for a minute or ten.”

Sakuya clucks her tongue at this, but Remilia waves her off before she can start admonishing the woman. “It’s fine. I kept her up on watch all of last night, just in case, so it’s understandable if she’s tired.” She raises at critical eyebrow at Meiling. “Though you could have at least tried to make yourself a tad more presentable, China.”

“Hong Meiling to you, boss,” Meiling mumbles as she sits down next to you. As she does, she gives you a wink, and a smile, which you return.

Remilia snorts. “Milady.”

“That too,” says Meiling, sleepily rubbing at her eyes.

Remilia makes a face, muttering something about lost causes, but sinks back into her seat, lazily gesturing for Patchouli to begin. The witch nods, stands up, and reaches into the folds of her dress, extracting around half a dozen brightly colored crystals which she arranges on the center table in a diamond-shaped pattern. They float there softly, held aloft by her magic.

“I must declare that now is as good a time as any to take actions of our own,” she begins, her voice soft but hard, a small frown marring her features.

“Oh my,” Remilia’s eyes widen a bit as she smirks. “Didn’t you say the same thing right before you ran off to Wewelsburg and killed Himmler back in ’45? You make me shiver with excitement, Patchouli. Tell me more.”

“Himmler?” you ask, confused.

Patchouli grimaces. “Nevermind her, Alice, it’s just an anecdote from the war days. I’ll talk to you about all that later – we really need to go over what you know. As for the actual person; a waste of flesh. Barely even a proper duel.” She rolls her eyes in an uncharacteristic show of impatience. “Can we get on with this, Remilia?”

“Do go on~.”

Patchouli nods. “As we know, Kazami commandeered the corrupted faeries from the forest and took them elsewhere. All of them, if we go by Sakuya’s report. The question was where. I believe I’ve managed to answer that, using my own tracing magic and Remilia’s bat familiars to scout the area.”

She waves her hands over the crystals. They start to glow, and the light they emit begins to shift into a distinct image – a large complex, nearly as big as the Scarlet Mansion, overlooking a field of sunflowers.

Everybody leans in intently, and you note that everything resembling an entry-point to the building is marked in a bright red.

“Of course,” Patchouli continues, “the entire area is heavily blanketed in powerful concealment magic, so this is simply a general idea of what Kazami’s staging ground looks like.”

“Too many doors, too many windows,” murmurs Sakuya, eying the image critically. “I could sneak in while blind.”

“Couldn’t you say the same about here, though?” asks Meiling with a tiny smirk. “I mean sure, the whole deal with the large carved doors and all looks awesome, but…”

“Maybe,” says Sakuya, eyebrows raised, “but then again the ones defending this mansion are, well, us.”

“Yes,” Remilia claps her hands in satisfaction. “And that’s a lot of quality in one place. In an actual siege situation, this mansion’s defensive capabilities are formidable. Kazami couldn’t match that, short of her spontaneously figuring out how to be in several places at once.”

“Quantity has a quality all its own,” warns Patchouli, “Kazami can’t match us in personnel on a one on one basis – as an example, Alice, who was half-hallucinating at the time, managed to take down six of her beasts before being wounded, and then Meiling took out several more in a single blow. However, she can and indeed does heavily outnumber us, and that counts.”

“Wait,” you cut in, sharp brows knitting together as you realize what’s going on and your heart begins to pound in your chest, “All this talk… are you saying we should attack this place?”

Patchouli’s beautiful purple eyes soften a bit at your question, but Remilia interrupts her before she can speak. “Yes, Alice,” she says, curt, “moreover, she’s saying we should take advantage of Yukari’s own counterattack for our own ends, if you understand what I mean. Do you have an objection?”

You balk. That was blunt. But Remilia, for once, does not seem to be mocking you. Her stare is completely serious as she asks her question.

You clench your fists, the white fabric of your gloves tightening up.

It is quite a strange sensation, feeling your heart harden.

“No,” you state firmly, “none at all. It’s clear to me that there’s something going on between Margatroid and this Kazami woman. And I want to find out what Margatroid did to me, now more than ever. That’s all I care about. So it makes sense to follow her there. So… whatever you need me to do… I’ll do it.”

There is a pause. Everyone is looking at you, you realize with some concern, but even so you try to maintain your composure. Sakuya and Patchouli are unreadable. A flash of worry seems to cross Meiling’s face, but is quickly gone. And Remilia…

Remilia stares at you long and hard. After a few seconds, something starts to tug at the corners of her exquisite lips. First, a tiny grin forms. Then, a smile, which gradually widens to show each of her very sharply pointed white teeth. Then, a chortle, a laugh, a full blown cackle, her back arching as she rubs her hands together in satisfaction. “Alice… Alice,” she mutters once she stops to draw breath, and in her scarlet eyes you sense, to your own disturbed delight, a hint of pride. “How splendid. You won’t stop. You really won’t stop. You’re earning that scabbard, you beautiful girl.”

You look away, feeling an uncomfortably complex surge of emotions rising in your chest. “I’m only doing what I think is right,” you mumble.

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

But then there’s one thing I don’t understand about all of this. Yukari will help Margatroid strike back against Kazami. We use that as a distraction. I confront that girl again, and this Kazami woman’s plans get disrupted, hopefully for good, so I won’t have to put up with seeing those disgusting beasts one second longer. But then, Yukari…

Your eyes widen. Suddenly, it dawns on you.

[] Avoid the issue.

[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”

[] Write-in.
>> No. 44281
>>44280
I want to find out more about Yukari. Is she truly less evil now, than how Remilia describes her?

[ø] Avoid the issue.
-[ø] After the meeting, talk to Meiling and Koakuma about Yukari.
>> No. 44282
[x] Avoid the issue.
-[x] After the meeting, talk to Meiling and Koakuma about Yukari.
-[x] And after that, quality time with Koa.
-[x] ...Sweet, lovely Koa.
--[x] ...Mmmmm.

>>42649
>>curse of the Orreries Sun.
>I think I just lost my lower jaw.
I still don't get what the big deal is.
>> No. 44283
Oh, KW, I meant to say this before, but:

Congrats on making a Marisa who speaks in her normal genre-aware/fourth-wall-breaking way without actually making it seem weird, awkward, or actually break the fourth wall.
>“What was that? Damn it, you idiot, I don’t have a catch-phrase ready for your death-“
This made me giggle.
>> No. 44284
[x] Avoid the issue.
>> No. 44285
>“Yes,” Remilia claps her hands in satisfaction. “And that’s a lot of quality in one place. In an actual siege situation, this mansion’s defensive capabilities are formidable. Kazami couldn’t match that, short of her spontaneously figuring out how to be in several places at once.”

This is going to hurt.

[x] Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
>> No. 44286
[x] Avoid the issue.

I don't particularly care whether Remilia wishes to take out Yukari. We've cast our lot in with the Scarlet Devil, so we can't afford to ponder on what-ifs. If Remilia plans to take out The Phantasmal Sunshower, than she can go right ahead, as long as she doesn't interrupt our confrontation with Margatroid.
>> No. 44287
[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
>> No. 44288
>>44286
>The Phantasmal Sunshower
you just HAD to remind me of that, didn't you.
>> No. 44289
[x] Avoid the issue.
-[x] After the meeting, talk to Meiling and Koakuma about Yukari.
-[x] And after that, quality time with Koa.
>> No. 44292
[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”

This is something good to know and we won't really be antagonizing Remilia by asking something so simple.
>> No. 44301
[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
-[x] After the meeting, talk to Meiling and Koakuma about Yukari.
-[x] And after that, quality time with Koa.
>> No. 44302
[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”

It soudns important, you know.
>> No. 44309
File 129125383984.jpg - (160.14KB, 800x1000, idonotrequireyourmonocles.jpg) [iqdb]
44309
>"Alice Margatroid got away from you and Yuuka Kazami is trying to destroy Gensokyo!"


>people thinking about chatting up Koa
>> No. 44313
Always keep your priorities straight. Bag the chick THEN save the world. I mean if we save the world first then we only have the epilogue to get her.
>> No. 44315
>>44309

Let it never be said that anon has their priorities straight.
>> No. 44317
>>44313

Except it's not remotely in character.
>> No. 44318
>>44309
I was the guy who wrote the write in and I can assure you that my intention was not to just flirt with Koa. We know that Remilia and even Patchouli hve a strong sense of dislike towards Yukari, so I thought it was appropriate to ask the opinion of someone who might have a more objective view on whether or not Yukari scheming behind her apparent facade of good intentions. The same goes for why I made that write-in to also talk to Meiling.
>> No. 44319
>>44318
>a more objective view on whether or not Yukari scheming behind her apparent facade of good intentions
>Koakuma

You serious?
>> No. 44333
>>44319
She's just a servant, not someone who had to deal with Yukari to the point of forming an opinion. Also she could have been in a position to ease drop.

No shame in seeking a bit of comfort.
>> No. 44345
So I was going to write, but then I noticed it's currently a tie - ten votes, five for each option.

Anyone care to break it?
>> No. 44346
>>44301
I'm gonna go with this anon
[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
-[x] After the meeting, talk to Meiling and Koakuma about Yukari.
-[x] And after that, quality time with Koa.
>> No. 44349
[x]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
>> No. 44350
[]Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
>> No. 44352
>>44349
>>44350
I don't wanna be that guy, but please read the site rules before posting, or at least lurk around the boards for awhile.

1. Don't really put your email in the email field. Ignore for now if you're new
2. Leave the name field empty also, unless you're writing a story. Even then, it's common courtesy to still leave it empty

Go to the general discussion board and read the first thread there for more info. I'll delete this post at the request of anyone, and to still keep it a bit on topic, here's my vote.

[x] Lay it out in the open. “Besides Kazami… you’re hoping to knock Yukari out of the conflict in the same blow, right?”
>> No. 44361
>>44349
>>44350

Two namefags for the price of one. Truly a miracle of magic~.

But whatever. Called, writing.
>> No. 44368
As I understand it, the option was presented to choose whether to expound on a specific goal and motive for Remilia or simply to gloss over it as implicit and continue onward with the discussion. A change of scene or an end to the deliberations wasn't implied. So if the sub-votes aren't out of character, they're at the very least preemptive.

Circumstances might conspire between the then and the now to make locking-in a certain course of action disadvantageous, so that kind of write-in should be discouraged.

>>44361
>Called, writing.

Also, hooray!
>> No. 44370
>>44368

>all the first paragraph

My refined sir, let us brofist like men!
>> No. 44392
>>44317
Sorry, I forgot I was on the internet..I meant that somewhat sarcastically. I would have voted against it if I had not already voted.
>> No. 44401
Whelp, looks like my beat up old PC's power supply is starting to fail. Now, if I leave this unchecked, it's going to end up frying the motherboard, so I'm going to send it off for repairs.

On the down side, it means there's going to be a delay of about a week, maybe less, between today and whenever I post again.

But on the plus side, I'll make it up to you guys by making the most of the hiatus and writing a gigantic update.

See ya later.
>> No. 44402
>>44401
>On the down side, it means there's going to be a delay of about a week, maybe less, between today and whenever I post again.

Booray.
>But on the plus side, I'll make it up to you guys by making the most of the hiatus and writing a gigantic update.

Hooray!
>> No. 44461
impatiently waiting for the promised update.
>> No. 44463
>>44461

Then be prepared to wait, since I have a feeling that some pressing matters have reared themselfs. Also since Christmas is closing in on us, he has possibly decided to take some time off to spend with freinds and family and if thats the case think of it this way.

When he comes back it will be a glorious update that the gods themselfs will be amazed.
>> No. 44465
>>44463

A Palingenesia sized update?
>> No. 44466
>>44465
I'll fap to it if it's the case.
>> No. 44472
>>44465
>>44466
Probably not that large, but still.All we can do is wait till he come's back.
>> No. 44543
In case you're wondering, KW, yes, we still like the story and, yes, we'd love an update as a new year gift.
>> No. 44544
>>44543
very much this.
>> No. 44581
Get back to work writefag.
Sorry, not an update, but someone had to do it.
>> No. 44603
>>44581
Get back to writefag work.
>> No. 44656
File 129546908846.jpg - (35.03KB, 700x530, it\'s dead anon.jpg) [iqdb]
44656
over a month since KW said anything
>> No. 44671
>>44656

I'll wait forever, then.
>> No. 44752
Could KamikazeWraith please contact me on IRC please? This is pertaining to a request of his and working out minor details. Don't even have to join a channel, just /msg Zer00
>> No. 44759
I... could you... ignore that bit, please? I'm sorry, it's... I was definitely not in the right state of mind. In fact, I was as far from it as I could be without being ragingly drunk.

...gotta go now. I'll work things out here later this night.
>> No. 44760
>I'll work things out here later this night.

Hooray?
>> No. 44762
>>44759
Now you're making me curious. Anyways, glad to see that you're alive.
>> No. 44766
>>44760

Sage. Wouldn't want to bump this over stories that just got updated, right?

Now...

notmyblog.jpg, so I'll try to make it quick. Some time ago I started to become gravely dissatisfied with the way some things were going, primarily regarding my artistic pursuits (sumvabitch, it sounds so pretentious when I write it like that).

Suffice to say, I got caught up in the whole "talentless hack syndrome" thing were you despise yourself for being a talentless hack and hope for new ideas to revitalize you, only to ignore any hint of innovation you come up with on the basis that it can't possibly be good because you're a talentless hack.

So, I spent a while inside this self-pitying circle-jerk, and during that time, I took a while to re-read some of this story.

And I fucking hated it all. Fuck. Hell, even now you still won't be able to convince me that the first thread and a half weren't gigantic, badly written clusterfucks, because they were.

So, full of raeg and disgust and other assorted feelings that invoke heat and repulsion, I decided to damn it all on a whim and tried to delete this story. I didn't particularly care anymore.

In that vein, I deleted the first and second threads (I sure hope nobody feels like re-reading...) and moved to delete this thread.

But I couldn't. No, I didn't have an epiphany or something equally trite. I simply didn't have the password.

Yes, this entire story was saved because I'm an idiot who forgot to set a password on the OP.

The request >>44752 is talking about was basically me going "FUUUU-" and asking for this thread to be wiped off the face of the board.

Fortunately, that didn't happen. (In fact now that I think of it, it's 3:00 AM where I live, but I suppose I should swing by IRC tomorrow to thank him for not listening to me and killing it on the spot.)

Anyways. The thread didn't get killed and I had time to cool myself down and realize I was being an idiot about a lot of things - particularly Alice. No matter how terribly written some parts of it may be, the fact is that I've spent a year and 108,000 words on it, and I owe it to myself to finish the story. I can't leave it to rot, and certainly not when there's only one more act left after this one.

So what I'm trying to say is yes, I'll finish, and yes, I'll update soon. How soon, I don't know, because I haven't written anything since November... but soon.

tl; dr: story still alive, updates soonish.
>> No. 44767
>>44766
Waiting warmly, now and forever.
>> No. 44768
>>44766
Fuck yeah. While reading the first thread I kept wondering why the fuck I was reading this. I feel so vindicated right now.

Still, it managed to become sort of interesting. Frankly I'd prefer if you started a new story, but whatever.
>> No. 44769
>>44766
Oh man, that's certainly some angst right there. While I'm not saying that the story is perfect, it's still got many good points going for it, and hating it like that sounds just weird. And if you hate it so much, why not at least take a positive attitude and consider it practice. Even if the story is not perfect, surely you've gained experience writing it and are a better writer for it. Take it easy, you'll probably come to like the story later, especially if you finish it. That way you won't run into the "god damn I have so many unfinished things" shit heap.
>> No. 44770
>>44766
For a first try this is going very well, not even SDM LA was perfect, contrary to popular belief. When you finish this, you could apply all you learned to the next story.

But bouts of angst aren't unusual to writefags as it's a common thing.
>> No. 44771
Any chance to still be able to read what was on the first two threads?
>> No. 44772
>And I fucking hated it all. Fuck. Hell, even now you still won't be able to convince me that the first thread and a half weren't gigantic, badly written clusterfucks, because they were.

It always feels like that to review anything I've written, no matter how well received. Know you're not alone in this.

>tl; dr: story still alive, updates soonish.

Hooray!
>> No. 44773
>>44771

The archives should have them.
>> No. 44774
>>44773
Perhaps you meant to say "will have them"? Once it updates anyway.
>> No. 44775
>>44774
Um, no. I think you misread something.
>> No. 44776
>>44774
>>44775
>I deleted the first and second threads (I sure hope nobody feels like re-reading...)
>I sure hope nobody feels like re-reading

Durr hurr how do I read. Unless some random person saved the threads, they are gone. I have no idea if the administration will eventually upload them, or whether or not he even has them, but if not, you're fucked.
>> No. 44778
That what I was afraid of and why I asked in the first place...

So, gotta ask the obvious question now: Did anyone save them?
>> No. 44781
>>44778

Here, I uploaded my .txt's files. Sorry, you will have to do with this, since I usually take much longer to save the whole page and text files are much lighter and convenient to read in my 7 years old cell phone.

http://www.mediafire.com/?ixr50c51cohvni4

That reminds me, I need to save a bunch of threads of various stories again.
>> No. 44782
I've taken the liberty of restoring the previous threads. The quickest way to get the staff's attention is via IRC. It's pretty much just 3 of us and I can't humanly follow the happenings in every thread in every board of the site.

KW, I had hoped to talk to you before potentially deleting this, it's good you changed your mind nonetheless. I can empathize and if you ever feel down about writing, I would not mind lending my ear. I'm sure there are many others who feel the same way.
>> No. 44786
>>44782

You can do this? Wow, I thought that once a thread is gone or deleted, it can't ever come back. You are awesome Teruyo, for many reasons.
>> No. 44789
>>44782
Good 'ole Teruyo, we'd be lost without you.
>> No. 44821
I hope things continue to improve for you, KW, because I love every last motherfucking inch of this story.
>> No. 44926
File 129973929627.jpg - (253.91KB, 573x700, alice stalker.jpg) [iqdb]
44926
Hello~!

KW?

Hello?

I tried knocking on your door, but it must be too thick; after a few minutes, my knuckles started to bleed. The buzzer must not be working either, because I pressed it until the plastic molding cracked. I left you all those voicemails, but your phone always seems to be out of service for some reason.

I know you're home because I saw the light on! Just open the door!

You know you can't hide in there forever. I can wait, and wait, and wait...
>> No. 44932
File 129981940041.jpg - (257.03KB, 618x800, bernkastel.jpg) [iqdb]
44932
>>44926
>> No. 44934
File 129991590236.jpg - (191.69KB, 780x575, 89b2f22c34bd3fb8d916de4742e8e63e.jpg) [iqdb]
44934
>>44932
>> No. 45004
Update this week.
>> No. 45011
>>45004
fuckyear.jpg
>> No. 45027
>>45004

Hooray!
>> No. 45048
>>45004

'This week' is fast slipping away, KW.
>> No. 45116
Are you alive?
>> No. 45136
I am alive, and this update is not as long as I would have liked, but I'm not about to start padding.
>> No. 45137
File 130248032453.jpg - (210.78KB, 566x800, 3b95323f1ac8e87ef66e13a892490478.jpg) [iqdb]
45137
You raise your head to meet Remilia’s gaze, but her scarlet eyes are, as always inscrutable; unwilling to give you even a hint, any way to make sense of what you’re hearing.

You can see it playing out in your head. Kazami wreaks havoc. Yukari steps in to stop her. As they fight, unaware, Remilia slays them from the shadows. It is magnificent.

It also makes your stomach churn. Kazami you can understand; even the scant minutes you spent in her company left you certain that she is… aberrant. More thing than woman.

But Yukari? What had she done? Of her all you can remember are her eyes, more gold than amber and more amber than gold, pleading for your safety as she stepped between you and the beast. You have difficulty imagining her as evil, and thus difficulty thinking that she should be punished.

A sharp, bitter pain stabs your chest, and the absurdity of it all almost makes you laugh. You’re a hypocrite, now aren’t you?

The haunting beauty of Alice Margatroid still makes your heart flutter, and makes a part of you refuse to believe that she could be as evil as you insist she must be.

And yet, you have sworn to kill her. You will kill her.

This was much the same, was it not?

“You’re staring again, Alice~.”

You look away, cheeks flushed. “I wasn’t…”

Remilia laughs, fanning herself with a pale hand in mock embarrassment. “Hey, it’s fine if you want to look~,” she mocks you. “ Hey, what do you think, Sakuya? I’d say I’m so pretty you could stare at me in wonder all day long, wouldn’t you agree?”

“In astonishment, milady,” Sakuya deadpans her praise. “I admit, even after all these years, I remain in awe.”
Remilia frowns, lips twisting in displeasure. “That doesn’t sound very honest. Meiling, Sakuya’s being annoying. Tell me I’m pretty.”

“You blow me outta the water, boss,” says Meiling, winking at you with a smile, “like, if I stare at you for too long, my face gets redder than my hair.”

“That’s nice… I suppose. Thank-“

“When I look at you, I think stuff that would’ve made my father disown me~…”

“That’s enough, Meiling.” Remilia’s eyebrow twitches dangerously.

You blink. “…make your father disown you?”

“For such a worldly man, he was rather on the conservative side. Anyway, boss, you get my engine going so hard I’ll… uh…”

“Explode?” offers Sakuya, raising an eyebrow.

“Combust sounds more elegant,” Patchouli speaks up, eyes on her glass of brandy.

“You’re all going to die painful deaths,” mumbles Remilia, grinding her sharp teeth.

There’s actually a tinge of red on Remilia’s cheeks; something you’d thought impossible. You can’t help it; at her expression, your green eyes twinkle and a dangerously loud giggle escapes your lips. You try to cover your mouth, but it’s too late.

“Alice…” Remilia draws out every letter of your name, as though she were chewing on it.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” you say, raising your hands in a pacifying gesture, “er… for what it’s worth, milady, you really are quite pretty.” You smile sheepishly.

Remilia’s gaze softens at this. “I really am, aren’t I?” She smirks. “Hey, they’ve written poems about me, you know~…”

“I thought we had a plan to discuss in detail?” Patchouli asks, loudly, purple eyes fixed on the ceiling.

That wipes the smile off your face. You feel a chill in the room, crawling over your skin.

Remilia nods. “Yes, of course. We musn’t get sidetracked. Sakuya, fetch me some snuff. Patchouli, the maps, if you please…”
>> No. 45138
File 130248036212.jpg - (905.50KB, 1500x1286, 672c32480fd7cb221a43fa7cc53b4512c1091ea6.jpg) [iqdb]
45138
“She harvests mushrooms. Like you, ‘Risa,” said Reimu, eying a cracked, half broken shelf that rested against a wall. By some miracle, the reagents Alice had stored there had remained intact.

“Ooh, she’s got Jack-O-Lantern! Do want!” Marisa reached out to grab a jar full of a bright orange mushroom, but a withering glare from Reimu stopped her. “Oh, yeeesh.”

“I think she’s got enough on her plate to be worrying about you stealing from her, don’t you think?” Reimu said softly, brushing her jet black hair with a pale hand. “For that matter, so do we.”

Marisa sighed, looking away from the mushrooms. “I suppose,” she said. “Still…” A mischievous smile tugged on her lips. “I wonder if she has some Destroying Angels. That shit will make you shit your guts out of your mouth. Out of your mouth, Reimu-“

“’Risa!” In an uncharacteristic show of emotion, Reimu balled up a tiny fist and punched Marisa in the shoulder, half-smiling, half-grimacing. The witch yelled in mock pain, rubbing her shoulder. “Marisa, that’s…”

“Disgusting,” a third voice rang out. The two girls turned to watch Alice emerge from a nearby room. Her bright green eyes gazed over them without a hint of warmth. “…but true, I suppose.”

“Alice,” Reimu said, her voice weakening, “we-“

“Don’t waste your pity on me,” Alice cut her off, “whatever I went through, it’s obvious you didn’t exactly fare much better.” She walked up to Reimu and lightly squeezed her arm.

“Hey, what about me?” asked Marisa, frowning as she tugged on her solitary braid, “I was involved in not one but several broom related accidents! And bugs in my eyes! Where’s my workers’ comp? Capitalist fat cats!”

Reimu blinked. “Your what with what?”

“Rinnosuke handed me a book called the Communist Ma-

The air shimmered, and Marisa grew quiet as Yukari walked out of her portal.

“What non-sense,” said she, adjusting the silken folds of her violet dress. “Remind me to hand you some Rosseau later on, Marisa. A narcissistic madman, but a very, very intelligent one. Good morning, Reimu… Alice.”

“Yukari,” said Alice in acknowledgment, “I think… well, we’re all here.”

A sepulchral silence fell over the room as it dawned on them that it was time.

Yukari nodded. “Very well. All of you, follow me…”
>> No. 45139
“…somehow I never saw that being there.”

The field of sunflowers seemed to stretch out to infinity in a solid yellow expanse. But this time, it was different. A massive structure, larger than a house – a palace would perhaps be the word to describe it, rose from the earth, its massive wooden doors, carved with flowers and seals, rising ominously above the four onlookers.

“It’s even bigger than…” Reimu swallowed in disgust, “…than that woman’s… how couldn’t I see this before?”

“I’m using magic to aid your sight,” said Yukari as both Reimu and Marisa gaped at the enormous house. “The protections are strong, of course… but it’s nothing my power cannot bypass.”

“Really?” asked Alice, her voice strained as her green eyes fixed themselves on the doors, one hand holding her blood-splattered book in a death grip, the other closed in a fist so strongly held that her skin was starting to bleed. “I thought Remilia could keep you out.”

“It’s the difference between cutting open a lock and smashing a door with a hammer,” said Yukari. “I can be prevented from the former, but I’ve yet to find anyone who could keep me from forcing a fight.”

“Winning one, though…” murmured Marisa, her breathing shallow.

“Losing isn’t an option.” Alice’s hand tightened even more over her book. “It never was. I’m- we can’t afford it. What she can do…”

“Kazami is a nigh-invicible opponent, head on, for anyone but me,” Yukari swiftly cut in, “so I will be the one to face her. What you three must ensure is the weakening of her power and the cleansing of her abominations. I’ve surveyed this place extensively. To sustain the corrupted faeries, she is using the power of a… magical catalyst. Destroying that should kill most of them. After that… I can finish her.”

Alice turned to look at Yukari, holding her gaze with a cold stare, unreadable to their other two companions, but quite plain for the golden-eyed woman. Still, Alice said nothing, and after a minute looked away.

Yukari bit her lower lip. Of course, if the girl refused to go through with her plan and face Kazami herself… then it was a matter of getting to Kazami first. She could not let Alice die. Not after all she’d already allowed to happen. She looked at Alice’s hand that held the Grimoire. The stolen material must already be corrupted beyond imagining. She could only hope that the girl would have the courage to realize that.

Reimu’s gaze ran over her companions, and she extracted three sealing needles from the pocket of her dress, the metal expanding until they were as long as her forearm. “I… want to go home and cry myself to sleep.”

Marisa adjusted her hat with a sigh. “Don’t we all. Though my version involves more red mushrooms, I’ll admit.”

Yukari smiled weakly. “Wanting peace is no sign of cowardice. In this, you’re wiser than me… it took me many long years to realize that.”

Alice remained quiet.
>> No. 45140
File 130248040343.png - (431.08KB, 850x600, f00485d3f37ad3d4c4b38.png) [iqdb]
45140
Your blade cuts through the darkness, finding flesh and black blood amid a shower of broken glass. The beasts screech, extending their nigh-formless bodies as they raise their claws, each as big as one of your arms, for a renewed attack.

Your head throbs, and your vision threatens to cloud over at the sight of them. There is something in them, something about the black blood that tears at the inside of your heart, something of…

“Alice!” Meiling’s voice rings out, and you turn to smash your blade against the swinging claws of another monster, with enough force to make your arm tremble. The thing wails at your face and claws at you with its feet, but your right hand grabs its skull and crushes it in a pulse of magic.

The thing falls dead to the floor.

“Disgusting,” you mumble, your white gloves now colored a deep black. “Disgusting.”

“I think that’s all of them in this room,” says Meiling, kicking one of the corpses with a bemused expression.
Behind you, Sakuya sheathes a bloodstained knife and tightens her cloak over her body. She brings up one of Patchouli’s crystals to her mouth and speaks into it. “We’re in, milady, and wishing we had an actual radio. I don’t know which part of this thing I’m supposed to speak into.”

”We can hear you just fine, girl, don’t worry,” Patchouli’s soft voice floats out of the crystal, ”You’re on the first floor of the mansion. I’m picking up a massive power reading three floors up, like a strong enchantment. You-”

”That’s what Kazami’s using to power the spell that keeps her beasts moving. Get up there and destroy it.” Remilia cuts in. Her breathing sounds ragged, as though she’s having trouble containing her anticipation.

”How did you-“

”Just trust me. Hey~. Hey, Alice~, how are you feeling? Ready to puke yet~?”

Making a face, you raise a foot, pressing the sole of your white boot on top of a corpse’s head. Then, you push magic into your leg, crushing the thing with a very audible crunch.

Meiling brings a hand to her mouth, stifling a giggle. Sakuya smiles. “That’s her answer, milady.”

”What a lovely girl,” Remilia drawls, then her tone goes deadly serious. ”Now get moving. We’ll stay in contact. And whatever you do, avoid Kazami. That’s Yukari’s job to get her intestines ripped out while killing her, not ours.”

”And remember,” says Patchouli, ”This crystal is a teleporter. If for whatever reason you fail, use it. I’m an archmage, but even I can’t stitch you together if you come back in pieces.”

“We won’t fail,” says Sakuya. “Over and out. Follow me.”

Sakuya runs out of the dark hall you burst into and into a hallway lit by glittering chandeliers. You shiver – everything about the place is unsettling, the walls and floors, carved with golden flowers, look as though they’ve been hewn from the same midnight-black stone.

“I want a word with the architect,” Meiling mutters behind you as the three of you run down the hallways.
“He’s probably dead or a demon,” Sakuya says, unsheathing a knife, “or both.”

“That’s-“ you stop, green eyes wide, suddenly feeling your stomach lurch. “…I felt something. I think they’re close.”
Meiling frowns, but Sakuya nods, pointing at a massive pair of ebony doors rising in front of you at the end of the hallway. “I can sense them too!”

The doors shake, and a chorus of wails rings out from the other side.

Meiling grits her teeth and tightens her fists. “Well, I can hear them, for what it’s worth.”

The doors shake again.

“They’re bolted,” you whisper, feeling your chest tighten, “but if they break through there’s no way we can hold them in this space…”

“She’s right, Sakuya,” says Meiling, “I mean, yeah, I have superpowers and all, but we should probably find another way in.”

The doors shake again, this time with enough force to shake the plaster along the ceiling and make their hinges bend.
Sakuya’s steel blue eyes cloud over. “There’s no time,” she murmurs, “absolutely no time at all.” Reaching into her cloak, she withdraws three glass flasks, each full with a clear glittering liquid and topped with a golden cross. Even from a distance, they pulse with magic. “Have either of you two sworn oaths of allegiance to Satan, of late?”

You blink, momentarily surprised. “What? No, what kind of question is-“

“Good!”

Sakuya brings the flasks close to her mouth, breathing out a torrent of whispered Latin. The liquid in the flasks begins to glow a bright white.

“Sakuya,” Meiling yells, “the doors!”

There is one final smashing sound, and the doors break open just as Sakuya lifts and throws the flasks. Twenty beasts pour in just in time to be hit by them. The flasks break and a flash of white light blasts through the room, along with a shockwave loud of enough to nearly lift your skirt and almost stun you.

The beasts screech, then fall, slamming on top of each other as an otherworldly white fire, hot as the Sun , runs over their flesh and turns them to cinders.

Sakuya grins. “My father taught me that,” she says. The knives in her hand flash with magic and lengthen into wicked blades nearly as long as her forearm. “There’s more of them up ahead,” she says and sprints forward, boots echoing on the stone floor, “let’s go!”

“Funny,” says Meiling as her fists glow with magical energy, “my father taught me French and how to be racist to Arabs.”

You push some more magic into your rapier, the metal humming with pent-up destructive force. You don’t have a father.
>> No. 45141
File 130248042182.jpg - (160.62KB, 708x1000, e85044eadd210ad80d71e0fe9df9f27fffcd5d16.jpg) [iqdb]
45141
A massive blast of magic slams against the ornate front doors, showering splinters on the howling battalion of rotting flesh and bone. A thousand howls echo across the chamber, sharp claws smashing against the stone.

“Hoo, boy, we’re outnumbered, we’re outnumbered-!”

“I am never outnumbered!”

A shimmering blaze of magic shakes the chamber, and a storm of deadly metal and glittering silk as colourful as a rainbow smashes against the beasts.

“Shanghai, Russia, Hourai, London!”

In the center of it all stands Alice, green eyes blazing, her long blue cloak buffeted by the shockwaves of her own magic, armored gloves clicking softly as she pulls on the magic wire.

Marisa and Reimu rush toward her, fending off attacks as they move. Soon, they, Alice, and her dolls form a strange sphere, a circle of light amidst an unending sea of wailing darkness.

“It was never over,” Alice murmurs to herself, eyes shifting between the beasts and the gigantic staircase leading to the next floor. “You should have killed me, Kazami. You really should have killed me…!”
>> No. 45142
[] Alice
[] ALICE
>> No. 45143
File 130248051341.jpg - (1.25MB, 1444x1610, 93b41a0f55ef74119501d3c19127d5c2.jpg) [iqdb]
45143
Scorpion Entrails [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-5JlUoVuYc ]

“More tea?” the woman’s dark brown hair briefly shimmered green as she moved to pour the contents of the kettle on her guest’s empty cup. When she was done, the other woman smiled and took a lengthy sip.

“Thank you, my friend~. You know, I always did love plums~.” Setting her cup down, she toyed with a lock of long blonde hair, fixing her fanged grin on the other woman. “They’re the best~.”

“Dried plum tea truly is excellent, yes,” said Yuuka Kazami, matching Flandre’s smile with her own.

“And even better when enjoyed in company~. And in such a fine place, too~. In this territory, this shadow body feels almost like the real thing, how magnificent~.” Flandre took another sip of tea, then looked down, under the table. Her grin twisted into a disdainful sneer. Raising her right foot, she stomped down hard on something, and a pained wail rang through the dark chamber.

Kazami looked down herself, her smile broadening as she saw the young girl roll away, out of the table and into full view. She was completely naked, clothed only in the black scars that ran over her pale white skin. The girl made no effort to stand. Her breathing ragged and shallow, her grey eyes stared dully at the floor.

“Elly~, you’re back again, and so quickly, too. Are they getting tired of you?”

“Tired of her?” asked Flandre, lips parting as her ruby red eyes widened in fake surprise, “What bad taste! Look at her, just like a doll~. She’s delicious; I know I could never get tired of her.”

Kazami shrugged. “Oh, be easy on them. You can’t expect simple monsters from hell to have our refined taste~.”

Flandre giggled softly, then stood up and grabbed Elly by the chin, hoisting her up until she almost at eye level, her arms, bereft of strength, dangling uselessly at her side, her legs only just touching the floor. With her free hand, Flandre ran her fingers through the girl’s long blonde hair, and then shamelessly over her naked body. “Hey~,” she asked, baring all of her knife-like teeth, “hey~, how does it feel? How does it feel to be devoured by demons, over and over again?”

The girl gave out a low moan. “Please…”

Kazami’s smile grew as large and threatening as Flandre’s, who observed Elly with mock wonderment. “Pleaseeee?” she asked, “Please what, girl?”

“Please…” Elly’s soft lips parted tenderly several times without sound until she finally found the strength to speak an entire sentence, “Please don’t hurt me… anymore.”

There was a short silence. Then, Flandre started to laugh, a slow giggle at first, then rising into a loud, shrieking cackle as she drew Elly closer to her, pressing her naked body against herself. Kazami, too, laughed, and their laughter mixed into a wailing cacophony of disdain.

“Ah… ah…,” Flandre took a deep breath to control herself, then placed her nose close to Elly’s neck, “Hm… you smell wonderful… hey~. Hey~, I’m going to do something that feels reaaaaally good, ok? Be a good girl and don’t struggle, ok?”

“N- no!“

With one last cackle, Flandre opened her mouth wide and sunk her fangs into Elly’s neck, her hands roaming freely over the girl’s body. Black blood started to dribble past Flandre’s lips and down her chin and neck as she moaned in ecstatic gluttony. Elly’s breathing sped up, her eyes nearly rolling back into her head, her body losing what strength it had left.

“Ah!” After a long time, Flandre finally let go of her with a satisfied sigh, and Elly fell to the floor, unconscious. “That was… ah… so good…”

Smiling, the vampire shamelessly wiped her chin with a hand and then began to lick her own fingers. “So good… what… what do you feed her with?”

“Oh,” said Kazami after another sip of tea, “you know, a soul here, another soul there… it’s all her, really~.”

“Well,” said Flandre, rubbing her hands together in glee, “if you keep feeding me this way, I might just be able to set myself free~.”

“And then will you tear down my hateful barrier, hm?” asked Kazami.

Flandre tapped a long nail against the table. “Oh~, maybe~. But then I might just decide you look tasty~. Who knows~?”

Kazami shrugs, her coal-black eyes glinting with mirth. “Oh, either way, it’ll be fun for me. Hell on earth always is~.”

A loud noise echoes in the distance, and Kazami stands up. “My, it looks like the rest of my visitors arrived early~.”

Flandre nods, then starts melting back into the shadows. “This should be fun to watch~. Hehe, after four-hundred-and-ninety-five years watching myself rot, this is just a real treat~!”

She disappears into the floor with a final cackle that echoes across the chamber long after she’s gone.

“What an interesting game~,” Kazami murmurs. “Get up now, Elly, we have work to do~.”
>> No. 45144
File 130248990686.png - (19.18KB, 400x400, 1298779409978.png) [iqdb]
45144
>“My father taught me that,”
>“Funny,” says Meiling as her fists glow with magical energy, “my father taught me French and how to be racist to Arabs.”
I laughed more than I should have. Probably. By the by... another cliffhanger? Goddammit. Still, good to see you alive and (by the looks of this update) well.
>> No. 45145
[x] ALICE
>> No. 45146
File 130249128975.jpg - (174.43KB, 572x800, next scene.jpg) [iqdb]
45146
[x] ALICE
>> No. 45147
[x] Alice

We're building up to our finale on round one with Kazami. This is Alice's attempt to put things right, her time to shine, as it were. ALICE doesn't have as much vested into this, and can wait.
>> No. 45148
Right, it looks like she'll be dealing with Flandre.

[X] Alice
>> No. 45150
[x] ALICE
>> No. 45151
[x] Alice
>> No. 45152
[x] Alice
>> No. 45153
Holy updates Batman. There is so much awesome here that it's hard to pick out particulars. Especially did not expect Flandre.
>> No. 45154
[X] Alice

I was wondering what role Flandre was truly playing in the plot, but I really didn't expect thius.
>> No. 45155
[x] Alice

I think we'll see her fight her way inside with her friends, with ALICE and her comrades meeting the SDM crew appearing as the antagonists. ALICE should seem a plain villain, driven by empty vengeance, so I'm interested in Alice's thoughts on that as she attempts to dole out her out retribution.

Marisa/Reimu vs. China/Sakuya?
Yukari vs. Kazam?
Remilia vs. Flandre?
ALICE, Alice, Elly 3-way battle?

There's just so much potential here.
>> No. 45156
>>45155
nah that'd be too cliched, and knowing Yukari, she is most likely counting on ALICE's efforts
>> No. 45157
>>45156
I had the impression Yukari wasn't privy to all the details on ALICE. I thought she was flying sorta under the radar, being under The Devils protection and all. This Yukari doesn't give off the impression of a manipulative know it all.
>> No. 45158
Great update.

[ø] ALiCE'S EMOTiON
[ø]Alice
>> No. 45159
[x] Alice
>> No. 45160
>>45157
>I had the impression Yukari wasn't privy to all the details on ALICE. I thought she was flying sorta under the radar, being under The Devils protection and all. This Yukari doesn't give off the impression of a manipulative know it all.

Yeah. Her attitude toward Alice seems very apologetic for her involvement in the fate of her father in Romania 1939, so I think it's likely she would try to resolve the ALICE issue in the way that would benefit Alice the most, which would ostensibly be forcing them to reconcile. ALICE's fate as an individual may not play into her consideration at all.

Remilia on the other hand has been fostering ALICE's resentment, seemingly to her own entertainment, and there was that episode where she visited Alice to either warn her or taunt. If there's anyone guilty of being a manipulative know-it-all, it's Remi, though I'm uncertain how much of that isn't just an act. Patchouli at least gave the excuse that she was keeping ALICE's mental health in mind by withholding information.
>> No. 45161
>>45160
I don't buy it. Remilia has been portrayed in an increasingly negative light since this stories conception. While I'm loath to play into the obvious, (Yukari=good and Remilia=Evilz,) it really does seem to be shaping up this way. I pray I am proven wrong, as that conclusion is just too anticlimactic.
>> No. 45162
[x] ALICE

>>45160
Say what you will about Remilia, but Alice certainly didn't help herself on the matter. She's going to have to admit she seriously screwed up with her failed ritual if you want any hope of reconciliation.

>>45161
Is Yukari clearly so good? I do not think so. On this matter, I shall trust the red carnation over the blue rose.
>> No. 45165
Nothing is clear with Yukari and Remilia, but at least they're not pure evil.
>> No. 45168
Yuka and Flandre on the other hand...
>> No. 45171
[x] LIVE, DAMMIT!
>> No. 45177
How, Kamikaze? How do you manage to be so consistently epic?
>> No. 45178
>>45177

Magic.
>> No. 45179
>>45177
He's actually trying to be epic? Most writers here aren't.
>> No. 45182
> Alice
>> No. 45186
>>45179

Story takes place over large differences in time and place.
Large cast of characters.
Conflict that concerns the fate of many.
Strong sense of destiny driving events.
Protagonist has heroic qualities.

Yeah. I'd say it's 'epic'.
>> No. 45188
[x] Alice

Why must you always make me terrified of choosing an option to vote for, KW?
>> No. 45314
Don't lose your momentum, KW!
>> No. 45428
updates?
>> No. 45491
>>45428

Writing a novella to try out Amazon's Kindle store Direct Publish feature*. Will probably be done in a month or two, and then Alice updates can resume.

*yeah, yeah, self-publishing never works, etc. But I figure if I can get some ten people crazy enough to buy something I wrote, that's still ten dollars I didn't have before, right? And even if no one buys it, I'd have written a novel, which is its own reward, right? And this is starting to sound eerily like I'm justifying all of this to myself, right? I think I'll shut up now.
>> No. 45492
>>45491
>ten people
>ten dollars

Is the profit really that low? That's a little sad, somehow. Anyways, this two month wait will be nothing in the face of your last hiatus. Like always, I will be waiting warmly.
>> No. 45493
>>45491
>Writing a novella to try out Amazon's Kindle store Direct Publish feature*. Will probably be done in a month or two, and then Alice updates can resume.

Glad you're being productive.

Online publishing is better than vanity publishing at any rate.
>> No. 45534
I was recommended this story some time ago, and it's taken me until a week and some change ago to read it. Having finally caught up, I want to tell you that it's been a fucking trip, for lack of a better term. Aside from being immensely enjoyable, this story has humbled me greatly and served as an inspiration to improve my own writing. You've taken what I had accepted as an old, stale setting and breathed life into it. You've taken my standards and polished them into ideals. You've made me realize how much more I could be doing.

Whether you accept people's praise is up to you, but regardless of how you feel about your story you should know that it's done more than just sit around being read. Thank you.

That said, I'd love to read your other work, but I don't have a kindle or anything of the sort. Is there an alternative method by which I might be allowed to throw my money at you, or am I out of luck?
>> No. 45630
>>45534
>I was recommended this story some time ago
I recommend this story almost every time someone asks about stories to read, so I hope you're one of the people I sent this way.
>> No. 45703
>>45491
>Will probably be done in a month or two, and then Alice updates can resume.

Should we expect updates to resume July or August?

No pressure.
>> No. 46052
/r/ status update, good sir.

Even if you have nothing to show for it.
>> No. 46074
>>46052

You guys sort of... uh, voted for the wrong choice. Not that I'm saying there *was* a wrong choice, it's just my notes on Alice's backstory are a convoluted mess and all of a sudden I'm not sure with whether I want to go with what I've written or not, so it's taking me some time to think through it. But it's sort of hard, not going with it, seeing as the past 100k words have had it as a basic assumption and I'm getting a headache here, dammit.

Yes. No. Ugh.
>> No. 46097
>I'm getting a headache here, dammit.

Hooray!
>> No. 46098
>>46074
Is this the sort of dilemma you'd be willing or able to discuss with someone? Because if it means getting back to regular updates, I will discuss the shit out of it.
>> No. 46106
>it's just my notes on Alice's backstory are a convoluted mess and all of a sudden I'm not sure with whether I want to go with what I've written or not

I know that feel.

>But it's sort of hard, not going with it, seeing as the past 100k words have had it as a basic assumption

Readers generally act favorably to a tweest. These things seem a lot less silly when you're not working with full information. A blatant retcon on the other hand may get you torches and pitchforks.

But yeah, in the vein of >>46098, if you haven't visited IRC, they seem to have helped some writers work through their ideas.

Personally, continuous browsing on Pixiv helps with my own blocks.
>> No. 46231
If maybe someone who follows this uses IRC, the first two threads were supposed to be restored, but I can only see the first post in each; there are working links to get the first 100 posts, and the last 50 posts, but not the entire threads.

Same issue with the story downloader.
>> No. 46244
>>46231

Oh, yeah, this. Worst case scenario, if my stupidity made the threads unrecoverable, I'll upload the original .docx to Mediafire and post a link.

Update coming in a week, or so. I will fill myself with pathosdesirecocaine energy and hammer it out. It will either be the best I have written yet, or an immense clusterfuck. Either way, you guys will remember it.
>> No. 46252
File 131480400414.jpg - (6.83KB, 200x191, hooray!.jpg) [iqdb]
46252
>Update coming in a week, or so.

Hooray! goes in every field
>> No. 46345
Been a week. Just checking in, making sure you're alive. No pressure.

I will FedEx you that cocaine if need be.
>> No. 49731
Why did I have to read this... Now I can only hope you finish it.

Godspeed, my friend.
>> No. 49974
I enter and leave a mental institution with the hopes this would be updated. At least work at it. Please.
>> No. 51454
File 132980260630.jpg - (99.40KB, 800x525, bombing_of_bucharest_world_war_ii.jpg) [iqdb]
51454
I'm not giving up on this.

Exploring Alice's past as the 'Little Girl of Bucharest' was just so damn brilliant. I have to see the end of it, else I'll never be able to write my own.

Is there any hope, those of you that frequent IRC?
>> No. 51455
>>51454
Give up, my good friend. This is THP after all.
>> No. 54466
For those of you that don't bother checking /sdm/ periodically, KW is back.

New thread here (even though this one's not in autosage, but whatever):
>>54444
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