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File 162260647164.jpg - (193.43KB, 811x898, external-content_duckduckgo.jpg) [iqdb]
202475
[x] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.

You give a mental shrug. If you don't ask now, you probably never will. "Does reading minds bother you?"

"If you haven't noticed, reading minds is essentially what defines me, and it's an incredible advantage. You can tell by how I haven't tried to close my third eye."

"Something can be useful, helpful, and overall a good thing, and still be incredibly frustrating at times." Like Sumireko, not that you were stupid enough to say that out loud.

"How many ways can I possibly signal that I don't want to have this conversation? I know you aren't this dense, Greg."

"For crying out loud. You're acting more off than Sumi is, and I'm worried about you."

"By pushing on a sensitive subject? That's a fascinating way of showing your concern."

"It's not that simple, just..." you stop, frustrated. It's that people tend to be more honest when they're off balance. The Satori you know is polite, dry, and witty, with the occasional burst of verbal savagery, and all that's well and good, but you're pretty sure she's burying her own feelings. She doesn't talk about herself, and if you press on it, she either goes clinical, in the same way a medical doctor would talk about a corpse, or she deflects, like she has now. You know she's deflecting, and because she's a mindreader, she knows you know she's deflecting, and she's still deflecting!

So yes, you're pushing. You're pushing bluntly to try and get her to open up, because what else is there to even do? You could try something subtle, but Satori would just read your mind for your motives and call you out on it.

"If you're going to carry on like that, could you go think somewhere else?"

"Sorry, is reading my thoughts bothering you?"

Satori is halfway to answering yes before she stops, apparently remembering your original question.

"Is this the part where you fold your arms, glare at me, and say nothing's wrong?"

She didn't say anything, but she had a gesture for you. She even changed how she was carrying Nitori to free up the hand for it.

You're a little tempted to laugh, but while she's adorable when irritated, that's very much not the goal here. "Satori, if you're really determined not to say anything, then I'll drop it. But talk to someone, alright?"

Satori sighs. "I understand where you're coming from. But I'm not so fragile I need comfort over every small problem. And for the time being, I would rather focus on our current goal."

It might even be true, but that's not the point. If you'll hide a small problem, you'll hide a big one. Satori gives you a level stare, mask firmly back in place, and it's your turn to sigh.

Judging by the scenery, you still have a little time before arriving in the bamboo forest.

[-] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.
[-] Check on Sumireko, see how she's doing with that backpack.
[-] Practice magic a little on your own.
[x] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.
[x] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.
[x] call for tewi
[X] Check on Sumireko, see how she's doing with that backpack
do NOT fire the rockets
[x] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.
Infodumps ahead
[x] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.
[x] Practice magic a little on your own.

>having shit handed to you
Where's the fun in that? It's about time Roach gets things done by himself.
[X] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.

Thanks for the new chapter. And for the Satori pic too.
[x] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.
[X] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.

I agree that we should try to do stuff on our own, but practicing new magic while flying sounds like a bad idea.
[-] Practice magic a little on your own.
If she wants to help us she'll give us pointers anyway.
File 162279105453.png - (48.71KB, 150x294, ForestFairy.png) [iqdb]
202493
[x] Ask Satori about what's up with your magic.

"Alright then, different topic." Satori gives you a level look, and you take a second to get your thoughts in order.

She doesn't bother waiting for that. "Are you sure it's not just life and death situations forcing you to your limit?"

You didn't think so. It's not just your magic being stronger, but the form of it was different. The first time you'd seen a spell card was about a week ago, and then you made one accidentally earlier this morning. And then a second one a little more intentionally afterwards.

"Interesting." Satori says, humming thoughtfully. "I can guess at part of the answer. When Yukari and a couple others created the spell card system, they twisted Gensokyo's magic. I couldn't begin to explain how they did it, but the effect is that if someone focuses all their magic on a single spell, it wants to become a spell card."

Wait, did she just say someone changed the entire world's magic? Of a world based around magic? How is that even possible?

"Yukari is arguably the single most powerful youkai in Gensokyo. Granted, a lot of Gensokyo's more powerful residents arrived after she set the system up, but I think the title is still hers. If she takes an interest in you, you're probably screwed."

Well then. Considering you and Sumi never saw or heard of this Yukari, hopefully she's undisturbed. The last thing you need is more enemies. "Anyway, what's the point to spell cards? Fancy names aside?"

"Gensokyo is a refuge for youkai. If they'd fought normally all this time, there wouldn't be anyone left alive. Which is why spell cards place restrictions on magic. There's other parts to it, but the most important one is that a spell card cannot cause lethal injury. But in return, they're actively aided by Gensokyo's magic. Spell cards are easier to cast and stronger than non-spells, especially since it takes conscious effort for a powerful attack not to become a spell card."

"Which would result in a spell-card user always having the edge over someone who didn't use one. Interesting setup," Sumireko commented.

You jerked, startled. You hadn't heard her approach. "Ow. Weren't you flying ahead?"

"Only until you tried to have a magical theory discussion without me." Sumi drifted in and patted your shoulder, the rotor spinning over her head coming uncomfortably close. "Speaking of which, I've cast plenty of magic since coming here, and not once has it formed a spell card on me. I've done imitations a couple times, both inside Gensokyo and out, but I've never felt the power boost you mentioned."

Come to think of it, weren't the youkai fighting Sumi back home using spell cards there too? Whereas you'd definitely felt the power boost from spell cards here, but not back home, and then Sumi didn't receive it at all. Ugh, it just didn't seem consistent.

Satori shrugged. "I wouldn't expect the spell card system to do anything outside of Gensokyo. As for why you trigger it but Sumireko doesn't, I'm not sure. I wonder..."

You are curious where she's going with that, but she doesn't finish the thought, and something else she said finally registered. "Wait, so everything being thrown at us is non-lethal? One of your spell cards vaporized a pond! How is that even-"

"Magic," Sumireko said.

She's grinning shamelessly. "Really."

"Tell me I'm wrong, I dare you."

"Wrong in the head, and every possible way except technically."

"Anyway," Satori coughed, "It's not perfect. A spell card won't kill you directly, but you could still die from a secondary effect, like collapsing a cave on someone. Or just use a spell card to incapacitate someone and kill them with a non-spell."

Oh. Of course you aren't that lucky. "So it doesn't stop murder at all. At most, it prevents accidental deaths."

"Maybe not even then in our case," Sumi pointed out. "I mean, we're both essentially foreign magic here in Gensokyo, so would the rules established in Gensokyo apply to us?"

"They're applying to my magic just fine." If only the local magic expert could verify that...

Satori shot you a flat look. "First off, I'm not an expert on magic. I have a basic understanding, but my ability to copy others' spell cards works off of the opponent's memories. Secondly..."

"Secondly?"

"Honestly, that was pretty much the end of that thought."

Sumireko laughed. "All that said, Greg might actually be okay. If he can tap into Gensokyo's magic enough to use the spell card system, he's probably eligible for its protection."

"You're remarkably chipper about this."

"It's not like anything's changed. Not to mention, if it comes to that, a clean death by giant laser might be kinder than being left to some youkai's tender mercies."

That's disturbing on multiple levels, actually. Partially because Sumi's not the type for black humor, but mostly because now you're imagining being left paralyzed as some werewolf slowly tears you into pieces. Which, considering current company, might have been Sumi's intention in the first place.

Satori looks back at Sumireko. "If you thought that would unsettle me, I've seen worse."

Oh dear. Those are fighting words. You wince as Sumireko smiles, saying, "But has anyone in Gensokyo seen Alien?"

Satori doesn't flinch, though you think she goes a shade paler. "I've seen real horrors, human. Imaginary ones don't compare."

Well, that claim is about to be tested. Sumireko has quite the library of horror movies, and Satori's about to be present for the theater of the mind there. Although Satori isn't defenseless, judging by her detailed recounting of seeing a shirikodama extracted. You, on the other hand, have better things to do, like flying ahead out of earshot.

Not because the conversation bothered you, mind, but because someone needs to keep a lookout.

Totally.

...

Yeah, you're pretty sure Sumi's going to give you grief for that later. The peace and quiet isn't really an improvement though, because the forest is almost too quiet. You can sort-of hear the conversation of your traveling companions behind you (despite your best efforts not to), but aside from that, nothing. No birds, no animals, not even a breeze. You look around, and to your surprise you do see an actual living creature, a fairy of some sort? It's perched in a tree watching you; Black dress, white apron, pink bow over blond hair and blue eyes. It's a small one, small enough that it's holding a shaving razor like a sword. You stare for a bit despite yourself, as the sight is damned odd, especially with how still it is.

[-] Just carry on. It's one small fairy.
[-] A couple danmaku bullets should scare it off. Also, it'd be nice to check that you can do that against a low caliber opponent.
[-] Throw an illusion at it, just in case. Make it think you're going in a different direction.
[X] Just carry on. It's one small fairy.

Looks like someone's in for a surprise.
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.

Might be nothing. Might be a fight. Better to prepare for the worst.
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.

That's no fairy. It's a Shanghai.
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.
[X] Throw an illusion at it, just in case. Make it think you're going in a different direction.

fuckin PRANKed
[X] Throw an illusion at it, just in case. Make it think you're going in a different direction.
Better safe than sorry, fairies are already more dangerous than you would think, best not to risk one that like to play with razors.
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.
aw FUCK AW FUCK AW F
[x] do a barrel roll
[X] Throw an illusion at it, just in case. Make it think you're going in a different direction.

We are pretty heavily injured, so better to take precautions even if they turn out to be not necessary.
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.
This is gonna be good.
[x] Throw an illusion at it, just in case. Make it think you're going in a different direction.
File 162296366844.png - (3.36MB, 2844x1515, %22Fairy%22WelcomingCommittee.png) [iqdb]
202509
[x] Just carry on. It’s one small fairy.
-[x] Maybe get a bit closer to your companions, just in case.

You considered tossing an illusion at it, but you decided against it; you don't have a lot of energy at the moment anyway, and it seems a little pointless when it's already seen you. You do cut your pace a little bit, flying slower and letting Sumi and Satori catch up, just a little. (Apparently it's Sumireko's turn; she's currently giving Satori a play-by-play of Silent Hill.) You're keeping an eye on the fairy all the while, and it's still just blankly staring at you as you fly past. No, really, the head is rotating, the rest of the body is entirely stationary, and it's just unblinkingly looking at you. However, it makes no move to follow, and you breathe a sigh of relief. You look back ahead, and- damnit, there's another one.

This one is half-hidden in a bush on the ground, and it looks a little different. Blue dress instead of black, dress a slightly different color, and this one's holding what looks like a tiny lance (where the heck did the fairy find that, anyway?) Again, it's staring at you, but is otherwise lifeless. Weren't fairies supposed to be these irrepressible fountains of annoyance, anyway?

It moves its head, looking not at you, but at something on your other side. You look over, and see yet another fairy. This one actually moves, flying from the ground up into the branches of a tree until the canopy hides it from view. You look back, and the previous fairy is also gone. Instead there's one with a red dress now. It's still staring at you.

Right, at this point you're worried it might be more than nerves. You fly back towards the other two, and Satori looks up at your approach, breaking off her story mid-narration.

"Satori, is there anyone here that would use fairies as spies?"

"Fairies? Not that I'm aware of. They're not strong, they're not smart, they're mostly not subtle, and they don't take orders well."

"There's been a few watching us just now right over there," you point out.

"I don't see anything."

Of course now they're gone. "Despite the cliche, they really were there a second ago."

Sumireko rolls her eyes. "Don't worry Greg, I'll protect you from the fairies."

Satori shook her head. "He's not communicating it well, but his concern is valid. What he observed is not standard behavior."

"What is it then?"

Satori closed her normal eyes and held up her third eye, letting it sweep back and forth. "Whatever it is, it's gone now. There's nothing that can think nearby."

"Um, Satori?"

One of the faeries from before (the first one with the razor) has flown up in front of your group, razor pointed directly at you.

Sumireko gave Satori an aside glance. "So these must be the type of fairies that don't think."

"That's not a fairy!"

The other two promptly flew out of cover, backing up the original 'fairy'. Which, now that you had a closer look at it... "Wait. Is that a doll?"

"Dolls, plural." Satori grimaced as more flew out of cover. "Heavily plural. Damn it, I forgot about Alice."

"You know whoever's behind this?" Sumi demanded.

"She helped Marisa break into my house the one time. Ugh, all I need now is to run into Patchouli and the day will be complete."

"Run into who?"

"Not the time!"

They're literally coming out of the woodwork now. Well, woods. There's now a dozen in sight, and they're moving to surround you.

"Can you sense whoever's controlling them?", you ask?

Satori shook her head. "No. Alice must not be in the vicinity."

Is that a good thing? Being able to sense the puppeteer's thoughts would be nice, but her being further away might make an escape easier. "What can the dolls do?"

"Shoot danmaku, mostly." Wait, who said that?

Satori flew up to the lead doll, saying, "Alice. I didn't realize you had audible communication through your dolls."

The doll snapped off a rough salute with its razor. "I've been working on it since the incident your pet caused. Mostly for puppet shows in the human village, but it has practical applications too."

"Look," Sumireko interrupted, "Are we going to have to fight you too? Freaking every youkai we've run into so far has wanted to fight, and I'm getting sick of it."

"Oh, not necessarily. We could always just have a polite conversation."

"Oh, well then, look at the time." Sumireko replied, flying forwards. "It's been an unforgettable experience, but we really ought to be going."

To your complete lack of surprise, the nearest set of dolls grouped up to bar her way. "Really?"

Sumi rolled her eyes. "Just checking. Fascinating way to hold a conversation."

"Would there be a conversation otherwise? I'd rather if you didn't run off while things were getting interesting."

First the thing with Nitori and now this. Does everyone in Gensokyo hold conversations at danmaku-point?! Glancing around, you realized that the numbers of the dolls were still increasing. Something around two dozen now, and there could very well be more on the way.

[-] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.
[?] Start the fight before more dolls show up. Write in a battle plan!
Just for the record, the talk option will only be chosen if it has more votes than all battle plan votes put together. Just in case there's a split on what battle plan to actually take.

A quick summary of the scenario to make planning easier:

You are still in the Forest of Magic. Trees, bushes, etc, and surrounded by about two dozen of Alice's dolls.

Gregor is using Sumireko's cape to (somewhat clumsily) fly around, has at least one broken rib, and is pretty tired.

Sumireko is using Nitori's helicopter-backpack to fly, and is surprisingly good with the thing. She's pretty much fine.

Satori is flying under her own power, and is carrying the still-unconscious Nitori. She's got a bunch of minor cuts and bruises, and is also fairly tired, but has no major injuries.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.
-[X] Try to convince her to fly and talk, or arrange a meeting later. You do have an unconscious kappa to bring Elentai, out of goodwill of course.

Also, Satori just jinxed us.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.
[x] Start the fight before more dolls show up. Write in a battle plan!
-[x] Alpha strike: apply an anti-gravity enchantment over the area to make movement of dolls sluggish. Satori gives us Nitori and helps Sumireko - light illusions won't be of much help against constructs and we're in no state for heavy ones. Sumireko uses TK to launch one doll into the group like a bowling ball.
--[x] The goal is to create an escape path, not to win. We can't fight all that well with Nitori and Roach. Check in with Satori to make sure we wouldn't run straight into Alice's house.

With a billion dolls, Alice can pretty much leverage us into doing what she wants. Talking is not a good option.
Alice probably has more knowledge than us of the surrounding area (She does live here after all).
[x] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.
-[x] Try to convince her to fly and talk, or arrange a meeting later. You do have an unconscious kappa to bring Eientei, out of goodwill of course.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.

>>202513
An... anti-gravity enchantment? On things that can fly under their own power? Wouldn't that just make them faster after they've acclimated?
>>202515
>You've done anti-gravity enchantments before. This is just a larger application of that.
>A runic circle forms around you, ten feet wide. The ground beneath the circle churns and breaks apart, the rocks shattering into fist-sized pieces before hurtling into the air. Coupled with the rubble Marisa's attacks had already produced, it's a pretty good spray, and you use Nitori's backpack-copter to zoom around the ground and re-fire the rubble as it falls to the ground.

It's disorienting and those are small dolls instead of rocks now, which means we get THEM to suddenly HURL INTO THE AIR with only a small circle's worth of warning. It would give us an initial edge to start a battle and would look absolutely amazing if it works. Not to mention, controls on those dolls must be precise and it would be anywhere from mildly inconveniencing to greatly distracting for Alice. It's AMAZING.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace

We've got wounded, Sumi isn't using her normal gear, Satori's probably tired from the earlier fight. Let's try not to fight. Meaning, do not let Satori or Sumi take the lead in the conversation.
[x] Start the fight before more dolls show up. Write in a battle plan!

Creating a magical mirage should be possible give the dolls rely on sight and hearing alone and Alice being too far away to detect localised magic.
Satori should help by creating a recollection, so the mirage may speak.
Let the illusion be theatric and spectacular as to distract from their escape. Since Greg likely will not be able to keep it up for long let it vanish with a bang by a magical flash of our enchanted item.
From then on it's mayhem.

[x] Illusionistic Recollection: Journey of a Magical Girl into another World
[x] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.

Hear her out first. And THEN we could probably try to fight/run.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.

First, diplomacy. And if that doesn't work, then warfare, but only then.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.

Both because I want to know what she has to say, and because we are on a bit of a time crunch, so even though we can probably defeat the dolls easily, that is time and energy we can't afford to waste right now.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.

Alice is usually reasonable.
[X] Let's hear her out. You're not sure how you'd fare in a fight right now, and even a chance at talking things out is a nice change of pace.

"Okay then! I'd be happy to actually talk something out for a change."

Sumireko rolls her eyes. "Greg, is threatening someone if they don't have a conversation a sign of good faith?"

"You have a point, but I think Satori's, uh, interaction with Nitori earlier already established that precedent."

Sumireko looked torn at that, and you took the moment to press telepathically. Sumi, please let me handle this. I know you're fine, but I don't think we're in any shape to fight right now.

You realize there's more dolls coming, right?

I AM AWARE OF THAT, THANK YOU. If you want to be helpful, start preparing a spell or something!

Satori interrupts, "Let's not get sidetracked by that right now."

The doll tilted its head, and Alice's voice sounded amused. "Is that what happened to the kappa? I'd assumed she'd finally sold a faulty product or something."

Satori shrugged. "If you can believe it, it was actually her refusal to sell me something."

The doll recoiled backwards, flailing its arms. Satori looked unimpressed. "That is the most overblown emoting of 'surprise' I've ever seen."

Alice's voice chimed in again. "From what I've heard about that kappa, it seems fitting. What exactly did you ask her for?"

"The same general thing you're about to ask of us."

Wait, you thought Alice wasn't close enough for Satori to read her mind.

"She isn't. It's an educated guess."

"Not to mention an easy one," Sumireko interrupted. "These aren't humans, they're youkai. This isn't about Nitori at all, it's the urban legend incident. And if she's not attacking us by default, she's interested in using the incident instead of stopping it."

The doll nods approvingly. "Your reasoning is solid."

"We're carrying an unconscious person and it counts as a minor curiosity. Fine then." you mutter.

Alice ignores you and continues. "There's a specific goal I've been working towards since becoming a magician: the creation of a living doll."

Sumireko raises a hand. "Hold up a second, isn't that just a tsukumogami? Make something durable, wait a hundred years, and it'll come to life?"

"Maybe she's looking for a method slightly less time consuming," you mutter.

The doll shakes its head. "It doesn't work that way. A tsukumogami becomes animated out of anger towards the being that threw it away. Both the method and the results are unacceptable."

The other dolls all nod approvingly, which is more than a little creepy. Sumi is unfazed. "So let Marisa steal one and have it be angry at her."

"Never." Even with completely static facial expressions, the dolls all bristle, brandishing their weapons.

You put yourself between the dolls and Sumi, with hands raised appeasingly. "Sorry about that. Marisa must have stolen all of Sumi's tasteful jokes."

Behind you you can hear Sumireko's retort get interrupted by a dull thump, and you glance back to see her knocked down to the ground. Thank you, Satori. "Anyway, you're aiming to get a specific urban legend then? One that can bring a doll to life?"

"Exactly."

Honestly, you can work with that. It's the same general request as Satori, but without the need to wrangle a probably-uncooperative Koishi. Plus, you've got a pretty good idea of what story you could use for Alice's urban legend. As you're considering your response, Sumi sends you a mental ping.

Hey Greg, if you toss me a veil, I can set up a proper ritual circle down here. Give me a few minutes and I can blow all these dolls sky high.

Or that's another option! You take a moment to consider.

[-] Honesty is the best policy, so just cooperate and tell her everything. Right now your goal is to just get out of here with minimal fuss.
[-] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
[-] Veil Sumireko and stall for time. Why risk trusting Alice when you can trust in the element of surprise and superior firepower?
[-] Ask to meet face to face. If Alice is dealing in good faith here, she should have no problems letting your mind-reader verify.
[X] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.

Emphasis on 'a little', I don't think she's the type to know about a relevant urban legend, or have enough social interactions to manipulate one, but I don't feel there's really much harm in asking. If she says no, go full honesty.

That said, I can't think of a 'living doll' urban legend that doesn't have them be murderous and full of negative emotions towards their owners. If you can think of one, great, but if all you've got is angry vengeance, be sure to preface any negotiations with that. Actually, now that I think about it, isn't Koishi's Mary-san an urban legend about a living, murderous doll?
[x] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.

I do think working together with Alice is the best option here, I don't think meeting her face to face immediately is. Far better to do negotiations with only her dolls around, when they'll be weaker and less numerous, than to just have her beat us up for Nitori without hearing us out..
[x] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
-[X} Veil Sumi and have her prepare her ritual, just in case.

I do like the idea of working with Alice, but I don't like how uneven our footing is. If negotiations fall through, we'll at least be able to make a (relatively) clean escape.
[x] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
-[X} Veil Sumi and have her prepare her ritual, just in case.

Speak softly and carry a big stick and all that jazz.
[X] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
-[X] Veil Sumi and have her prepare her ritual, just in case.
[x] Veil Sumireko and stall for time. Why risk trusting Alice when you can trust in the element of surprise and superior firepower?
[X] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
-[X] Veil Sumi and have her prepare her ritual, just in case.
[X] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
-[X] Veil Sumi and have her prepare her ritual, just in case.

Cloak AND dagger. Cloak and dagger!
File 162329668380.png - (263.65KB, 480x480, Th105Alice.png) [iqdb]
202541
[X] Negotiate a little. Your group being at doll-point aside, you do have the information she wants, and it's not unreasonable to ask for her help in return for yours.
-[X] Veil Sumi and have her prepare her ritual, just in case.

What was that one politician's saying? Speak softly and carry a big stick? And then preemptively bomb the hell out of them because you can? Come to think of it, maybe you shouldn't be using foreign policy as a guide to social situations. Whatever. Point being, it doesn't hurt to cover your bases.

Get the ritual prepped, you think, but we'll call that plan B. She might actually be reasonable.

How much do you want to bet on that?

I was thinking of betting your life, but we could try for lower stakes.

For the record, any friendly fire that results from this ritual is probably unintentional.

Right. With that settled, you concentrate on the veil. And you do mean concentrate; this needs to stay hidden from the puppeteer and all her various dolls, which means true light manipulation, not just putting an image in her mind. Well, here goes...

Turning your attention back to the actual audible conversation, you address the doll. "Sorry, moment of deja vu there. This whole situation is actually a lot like when we first met Satori."

"Really?" The doll tilts its head. "I'm actually letting you finish your sentences."

Do not laugh. Do not laugh, no matter how accurate that might be. "I meant the whole urban legend request. Satori wanted our help with one about Koishi, you want one about a doll."

Speaking of which, Satori glares at you. "In the future, I would prefer if you didn't publicize that."

"She's got a point. Most of Gensokyo would be upset at having another satori running around," Alice said. "Although it's easy enough to guess. It's not like there's anyone else she cares about."

"There's Orin and Okuu."

"Your counter-argument is that you get along with your own pets? The prosecution rests."

Ouch. You raise your voice a little. "Anyway, the point is, I'd like to make you the same offer I made Satori. Sumireko and I are kind of stranded here in Gensokyo at the moment, so we're willing to help with your urban legend if you can help us get home."

"A reasonable request, but I don't deal in false pretenses." You tense up, not sure where this is going. "To the best of my knowledge, the only way across the barrier is with the help of Mamizou or Yukari, and I have no influence with either youkai."

You relax at that. That's not even a problem. "Satori has that end of things covered, she's already said she knows a way. Basically, we'll figure out the urban legends, she'll figure out getting us back across the barrier, and we'd only ask you to help out with the execution. And possibly a place to hide while the rest of Gensokyo is looking for us."

"You're not nearly strong enough to sound that confident. Nevertheless..." the dolls stand to attention, and Satori perks up, "I find your terms acceptable."

Satori looks up. "You and Sumireko can relax. Alice just came into my range, she's not lying."

Alright. Can you cover up the ritual's evidence and I'll drop the veil?

Without magic, it's a few carvings in the dirt. Just drop it.

You comply just as Alice walks into view. Even without the context, you'd have guessed she was the puppeteer, as between her pale skin, sharp blue eyes, and blond hair, she has a striking resemblance to her dolls. She's actually quite pretty.

Satori glances over to you while she lands with Nitori. "Focus, Greg."

Alice gives the three of you a nod. "I'm sure Satori already filled you in, but regardless, I'm Alice Margatroid, magician and puppeteer."

Sumireko waves a hand. "Charmed. I'm Sumireko, that's Gregor, and you already know Satori something-or-other."

You don't have to be rude, Sumi.

Greg, you don't need to feel indebted to someone because they decided not to attack us.

Satori coughs meaningfully. "As delighted as you aren't by standing here in the middle of the forest, we could continue this conversation in the comfort of Alice's cottage."

Alice gives her a flat look. "Usually you wait for the host to actually invite you."

"You were about to. Since Greg has a broken rib and I'm carrying an unconscious kappa, I skipped the pleasantries."

Come to think of it, you'd almost forgotten about Nitori. If the cottage is a secure enough location, you could potentially question and release her before heading to Eientei.

"How secure is your cottage?", Sumi asks. "We've got quite a few people after us, so if we ran into anyone else..."

Alice gave a small smile. "My dolls make an excellent security system."

Satori tilted her head. "Which hasn't stopped Marisa from stealing... twenty? No, twenty-three books from her. And one doll, though that theft was very temporary."

Alice turned to Satori and said coldly, "Only when I'm not home. My range with my dolls is substantial, but not unlimited."

"I'm surprised she lived beyond the first theft," you comment idly. "Or is she just that strong?"

For the first time, Alice avoids meeting your gaze. "Well, she is sort of a friend and all-"

"Marisa is her main form of human interaction, so she considers the books an acceptable price to pay."

Alice is now glaring at Satori, who looks quietly satisfied. Seriously, does nobody in Gensokyo have normal friendships?

Sumi sighs. "Not that this isn't entertaining, but can we get going already?"

[-] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.
[-] Continue to Eientei.
[x] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.
-[x] Make some conversation with Alice.
[X] Detour to Alice's cottage, then continue to Eientei.

Have the conversation with Alice at her house, but don't wake the kappa.
[x] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.

It'd be rude not to take up the offer.

[x] Once there, inquire first aid - your rib's still broken and Satori is hurting some as well. Maybe Alice can help out with Nitori too?
[x] After that it's tea-time.
[x] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.
[x] Once there, inquire first aid - your rib's still broken and Satori is hurting some as well.
[x] After that it's tea-time.
[x] Continue to Eientei.

It doesn't seem like we'd be able to get anything useful out of this.
[x] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.
[x] Once there, inquire first aid - your rib's still broken and Satori is hurting some as well.
[x] After that it's tea-time.
[x] Double check your tea.
[X] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.

We would be getting Alice's assistance and it helps to be friendly with somebody who's knowledgable about magic.
[x] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.
-[x] Make some conversation with Alice.
[X] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa.
-[X] Ask Nitori to join you- after all, in Gensokyo defeat=friendship.
[X] Once there, inquire first aid - your rib's still broken and Satori is hurting some as well.
File 162345340642.jpg - (175.47KB, 840x510, AliceHouse.jpg) [iqdb]
202552
[x] Detour to Alice's cottage, question kappa, acquire first-aid, and tea-time. Especially the tea-time.

With the decision unanimous, you all head over to Alice's cottage in pretty short order. There's the usual snarking back and forth between the girls, but you're too tired to particularly care, and they more or less leave you out of it. Fortunately, it's a pretty short walk (or flight, in your case), and you all reach it with minimal incident.

Minimal because there was a scuffle in the distance between some of Alice's dolls and a fairy. When you asked, she said that particular fairy deserved exactly nine dolls to fight against. Well, whatever.

Alice's cottage itself is... well, quaint would be the word. White walls, a porch, a balcony, a chimney... a little area of order in the middle of the wilderness. Aside from the hexagonal tower on one side, it's almost exactly what comes to mind when you picture the American dream. All it needs is the 2.7 kids and the 1.3 cars.

Satori giggles, and you glance over at her, surprised. "I'm not sure which of those is less likely. On the one hand, this is Gensokyo, so getting a car is almost impossible. On the other hand, this is Alice..."

You're not really sure where she's going with that - well, it's obviously meant to be a slam on Alice, but she seems nice enough, so the joke just doesn't connect.

"Give it about thirty seconds."

About twenty seconds later, Alice lets you all through the front door, and you see what Satori was getting at.

Dolls, everywhere. There's a dozen of them in the kitchen, setting the table, making tea, bringing out various cookies and snack trays, along with a couple getting some bandages and other first-aid supplies. The living room is actually the doll repair station, with battle-damaged dolls getting fresh coats of paint, chipped surfaces filled in, and in some cases entire limbs replaced by another doll crew working in unison. Said doll-repair crew is also wearing tiny nurse outfits, because what the heck, why not? The, uh, waiting list of tiny ceramic patients vacate the couch, letting Satori drop the unconscious kappa onto it.

Sumireko also opens a closet by mistake while looking for the bathroom (before Alice informs her it's the second door on the left), and that too is completely packed with dolls. Other models that don't quite match the current set Alice is ordering about, but there's at least fifty in there, and all of them are pristine.

All the same, you aren't particularly bothered; it's just how magicians work. At it's core, magic is about forcing your will on reality, and that requires not just focus, but almost obsession. Anyone dedicated enough to overcome the barrier to initially start using magic is the kind of person who would devote years to it. The kind of person who would visit dozens of back alley bookshops in the hope of finding the one genuinely magical book among the scams. Or crawl over every inch of a mountain to find a few feathers from a tengu. And at the end of the day, a house reflects its owner.

"That fits Gensokyo's magicians surprisingly well," Satori mused. "Though it makes me wonder, what do your and Sumireko's homes look like, anyway?"

That, um... Sumireko's room was an encyclopedia for every sort of occult prop, while yours was pretty much a love letter to stage magic. Hey, it was something you latched on to before finding out about real magic, and it's still pretty relevant to your specialty in illusions. Also, it's something you can actually talk about to other people. Well, not without sounding like a nerd, but they think you're weird instead of crazy, which is a marginal improvement.

... you're just going to stop while you're behind on that one.

"Probably wise."

"Anyway," you said, grasping for a new subject, "I think the tea's almost ready."

"You're a little early," Alice said, over from where she was examining the kappa. "But we have plenty to talk about, so by all means, have a seat."

"Nitori is all right, isn't she?", you ask. At this point the kappa had been out for quite a while, and she had taken a blow to the head...

Alice shrugged. "She's got the beginnings of a nasty bruise on the back of her head, but she is a water-based youkai. Toss her in the bath and she'll probably be fine."

Satori raised a hand, "From what I've picked up of her thoughts, she's come close to waking up a couple times now. I've been using hypnosis to lull her back under when necessary. "

"You can do that?"

"You know those times when you wake up, and you're really groggy? Where it's easy to fall back asleep if nothing demands your attention, but suddenly remembering something important can jolt you awake?" Satori gives you a moment to remember, and nods. "It's like that. It's more suggestion than mind control, but it works for things like this."

"Huh."

"Why the heck are you surprised, Greg?" Sumi asked. "You can do the same thing!"

"Well, yes, but it's a lot rougher. It's wouldn't be lulling someone back to sleep, more... mentally hitting them over the head before they're fully awake." Or shotgunning them in the back of the head with a mental attack, but you're tactful enough not to phrase it that way. "I definitely wouldn't be confident in doing it without causing more damage."

"Speaking of damage, we..." Sumi paused. "Wait, no, that segue doesn't work. Whatever. Point is, we need to get Alice caught up on everything, and figure out our plan."

"It is a good time to compare notes." Alice said. "But maybe you'd rather do that over tea."

"That part goes without saying." Sumireko declared.

[...] To be continued.
[?] Is there anything in particular you want to bring up during the following conversation? Pretty much anything goes here, so long as it's something Greg would actually say. I'll work in as many reasonable suggestions as I can.
>>202552
[x] Mention the bracelet that we've mistakenly/brazenly/accidentally enchanted and ask what to identify what that is. Peer review!
[x] Mention the bracelet that we've mistakenly/brazenly/accidentally enchanted and ask what to identify what that is. Peer review!
Expect me to exploit open choice formats like this one

[x] Mention the bracelet that we've mistakenly/brazenly/accidentally enchanted and ask what to identify what that is. Peer review!
[x] Recollect the enchanting experience. How you were empowered by the ancient magic and how you would have lost yourself in it if it weren't for Sumireko.
[x] Also mention the Orb of Midnight spell you utilized against the person who then promptly broke your rib. In both instances it seemed more like magic is acting *through* you than that you are controlling it.
[x]"Will the spirits that I summoned come back to haunt me?" Tell Alice of the poem of the sorcerer's apprentice, maybe it pertains to you. What does she think of the old story?
[x]This may as well be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so go for broke. "My friend has been worrying about getting me back safely since we crossed over to Gensokyo. The fact that I got hurt pretty good adds to that. I want to make it up to her in any way I can, once... *if* we make it back. May I ask you for a book of magic? As a gift for her."

I have to tell it filled me with glee to see my tea-time vote to have been accepted so well.
Since it may well be that I can't have my cake and eat it too, I'll pick my favorites for you:
Tell Alice the story and ask for a book - hopefully it will make for a good look?

[x] The land of illusions is a wonderland, let go of your common sense and drink of the cup of tea in your hand!

It seems my first try to post this got swallowed up. I'll hope this time it goes better.
I may have gone overboard with the rhymes but I had fun with them.
I'm liking this story so far and I hope more dramatic tension evolves over time.
>>202555
Blessed post.
Having an anon with some creative drive in the thread usually makes for fun suggestions. Hopefully asking for a book isn’t to presumptuous of us.

[x] The land of illusions is a wonderland, let go of your common sense and drink of the cup of tea in your hand!
The tea is alright. That's not a knock on Alice or anything, you're just not much of a tea drinker. It would probably be perfect if you were British enough to appreciate it. You have some regardless, more for the normality it represents than for the flavor.

The little cookies and pastries served with it, on the other hand, were homemade, and delicious. Fresh out of the oven, too, which implies that Alice had the dolls working on them while you were on the way back. Who would have thought dolls were this good at baking?

Also, the last time you actually ate was before coming to Gensokyo. Which, given that was only the previous evening, basically means you just skipped breakfast, but all the same, you're happy to have something to fill your stomach. The fact that this is exactly the kind of breakfast you'd have if left to your own devices is just a bonus.

Sumireko is also attacking the refreshments with a hunger barely restrained by politeness, while Satori and Alice are more demurely sipping tea. As such, they're the ones carrying the initial part of the conversation, and you're happy to let Satori summarize your adventure since arriving at the Hakurei Shrine. Granted, the retelling is a little slanted (Satori was definitely struggling a bit more against Nitori than she let on to Alice), but not absurdly so, and it is interesting to hear the morning's battles from her perspective.

"And from there we decided to go to Eientei, on account of Gregor's broken rib. We ran into your dolls in the forest, and you know the rest from there," Satori concludes.

"I see. Which reminds me, here," Alice says, as a pair of dolls ferry an icepack over to you. "I should also have some spare fabric around here for a sling."

"For a broken rib?"

"You're supposed to immobilize the arm on the side of the break," she said.

Satori caught the question in your thoughts and explained, "Magicians aren't much sturdier than humans. Considering she lives alone in the forest, it makes sense for her to have a working knowledge of first aid."

Ah. You nod gratefully to Alice as the dolls wander off in search of fabric, and focus on the icepack. It's far colder than you'd expected (magic, probably), and you take a moment to wrap it in a couple napkins before applying it to your injured side. The chill takes affect almost immediately, and you can feel the pain ease as the nerves go numb.

"There's something I was wondering, actually," Sumireko said, idly grabbing another cookie. "How did you know it was us? I mean, nobody knew who Greg was or that Satori was with us until this morning, and we came here pretty much straight after that. You might have heard about me, but I'm not wearing my usual magician look, so it's unlikely you'd have recognized me from a secondhand description."

Satori immediately choked, coughing and taking a larger drink of tea to clear her throat. Slightly redfaced, she spoke. "Alice received a note detailing that I would be traveling with the perpetrator of the urban legend incident. Nobody should have known that. How?"

Alice shrugged as a doll went to clean up the spilled tea. "I have no idea. Someone managed to deliver that note last night without me or my dolls seeing them, as it was there when I woke this morning."

"It was probably Koishi", Sumireko said. "She did know you were with us, and she could get in here undetected."

"That could work," you mused, "But why?"

"'Why' is a difficult question to answer when it comes to my sister." Satori said. "I will say Koishi could have done it, but this doesn't seem like her style. Could I see the note?"

A doll ferried it over, and Satori grabbed it. "This isn't Koishi's handwriting, and it's signed by a 'Q. Nira'. Also, the note suggested Alice apprehend us, which isn't something Koishi would have written if she was trying to help us."

Sumireko started to speak, and Satori cut her off, "Nor is it something she would have written to prank me specifically. As silly as she acts, Koishi is more responsible than that."

"So who's this Nira?", you ask. And how would she (you don't know for sure, but let's face it, everyone important in Gensokyo is a she) have known you were here?

"I have no idea," Alice said. "I've never heard the name before. It was something I was hoping to ask you."

Satori grimaced. "I haven't heard of them either. It's either a new player, or someone's using an alias."

"But why bother signing it at all if you're hiding your identity?"

In the end, everyone just looks blankly at each other, and you sigh. The dolls come back with a strap of white fabric for a sling, and you let them bind up your left arm as you continue holding the icepack. After a minute, Sumireko brightens and speaks up. "Hold on a second, the note itself has a clue. It says, perpetrator, singular. I think whoever wrote this had no idea Greg was around-"

"Which means that they probably saw me vanish at the Hakurei shrine." Satori finished. "Though that doesn't tell me much; I'm pretty sure neither Reimu nor Kasen saw me disappear with you two, and I didn't sense anyone else around."

"So that leaves what, someone who's immune to your mind-reading?"

Satori sighed. "It could have been someone scrying on the location, or even just a youkai with keen eyesight watching from far away. There's a few different ways to get around my ability; Alice herself used one earlier."

"If it's someone trying to be a chessmaster, then they're not very good at it," you point out. "They were trying to get Alice to capture us, and instead she's working with us."

"Unless that was their real goal all along!" Sumireko declares mock-dramatically.

You facepalm as your friend laughs. "Down that path madness lies."

[...] To be continued.
>>202555

So, I'll absolutely be getting to some of the reader suggestions, particularly the list in this post here. That said, there's limits to how much I can write while keeping to my update schedule, and I figured I'd start with the plot-relevant stuff that was going to happen regardless.

Next update should at least touch on most of the reader suggestions.
>>202573 Thank you! Your update schedule has been frequent and consistent so far which is a great thing. Checking back and seeing the story update on the front page fills me with pleasant anticipation. I'll be waiting warmly!
>>202559 Now this puts a smile on my face. Thank you for the kind words!
[x] Mention the bracelet that we've mistakenly/brazenly/accidentally enchanted and ask what to identify what that is. Peer review!
[x] Recollect the enchanting experience. How you were empowered by the ancient magic and how you would have lost yourself in it if it weren't for Sumireko.
[x] Also mention the Orb of Midnight spell you utilized against the person who then promptly broke your rib. In both instances it seemed more like magic is acting *through* you than that you are controlling it.

The first part, peer review is nice, especially because Alice specializes in enchantment, so she is probably the best person to talk to about this. The second part, yeah once creative anon brought it up, we have had magic acting *through* us more, which is partly because Gensokyo has stronger magic, but it seems like there is something more than that going on. We could talk to any magician about that, but Alice is here and doesn't hate us, so...
Whoops, guess I should have refreshed my page first. Sorry for the vote after the releveant chapter.
>>202572
>Q. Nira
This is almost certainly Mamizou, or at least one of her lackey racoon dogs. The plan was implied to be Kasen's idea, after she talked with her.

Not that we would know at this point.
File 162382211520.jpg - (140.06KB, 782x441, SBND06Dollsrepairing.jpg) [iqdb]
202579
[x] Mention the bracelet that we've mistakenly/brazenly/accidentally enchanted and ask what to identify what that is. Peer review!
[x] Recollect the enchanting experience. How you were empowered by the ancient magic and how you would have lost yourself in it if it weren't for Sumireko.
[x] Also mention the Orb of Midnight spell you utilized against the person who then promptly broke your rib. In both instances it seemed more like magic is acting *through* you than that you are controlling it.


The impromptu tea party is dying down, half because everyone is now up to speed, and half because the remaining cookies have all mysteriously vanished. Sumireko's face contains evidence of this grievous crime, which she has sensibly gone to the bathroom to wash away. Sadly, your fellow jurors seem disinclined to convict in this blatant case of involuntary dessert-slaughter. Obviously you need to call her back to the stand as a witness. No wait, wrong order. You'd need to investigate the scene of the crime first, and catalogue the necessary evidence to force her to the witness stand.

Come to think of it, you wonder what Sumireko's breakdown animation would even look like.

Satori gives you a flat look. "Greg, in the outside world, do you take any sort of medication?"

"No?"

"Maybe you should."

"Huh. Your mind-reading doesn't pick up on context all that much, does it?"

"There is no context in which that train of thought makes sense."

You have got to get Satori a Phoenix Wright game. Which... would only be possible if you made it back home, in which case there'd be a lot of other higher-priority things to do, but all the same, she'd probably enjoy it.

She's eyeing you skeptically, and you consider the possibility that her tastes might simply be wrong. Actually no, that's not entirely fair, without having played them, you wouldn't really expect a game around being a defense attorney to be any good either.

Satori pushes back from the table and gets up, walking away and calling over her shoulder, "I'm going to check on Nitori".

You glance over to Alice. "I'm surprised you didn't have any comment on that."

Alice shrugged, reading a book that a doll held suspended for her. "It wasn't relevant to anything, so I didn't care."

"And also the book's interesting, I take it."

"Actually, this is extremely dry. But recursive slave spells are useful, and the techniques applicable to slave bullets often work with puppets."

"I didn't realize there were slaves in Gensokyo."

She responds without looking up, turning a page. "Different context. In danmaku, a slave is a nexus of energy used to fire bullets remotely."

That makes it click. "So then, puppets controlling puppets... a little singleminded, isn't it?"

"Few generalists achieve anything of note. If you're going to do something, do it well."

"All the same, I hope you have some grounding in other fields of magic. There's been some weird stuff about my magic I was hoping to ask you."

Alice looks up, and you take that as license to continue. "Back home, I had a pretty solid idea of what I was capable of. I was a steady, if not spectacular illusionist, with a couple of tricks for enchantment and telepathy. It wasn't the strongest magic, which, to be honest, I was a little jealous of Sumi for, but it was consistent. When I cast a spell, I knew exactly what it would do, and even chaotic reactions like spells colliding were something I could predict reasonably well."

Having an arm in a sling is surprisingly annoying, as it restricts the ways in which you can mostly-unconsciously fidget. You trace the edge of the cup with your other hand. "But here in Gensokyo, things just haven't made sense. I tried to enchant a bracelet through one of the occult balls, and it almost possessed me. The enchantment did go through, it's much stronger than my usual work, and I have no idea what it does. And then I accidentally tapped into the spellcard system while trying to blind Marisa with a sphere of darkness."

"It's hard to describe, but magic has gone from being this rigorous, science-like application of hard work and endless practice, to something almost intuitive." You summon a quick ball of darkness to demonstrate, and shoot it off to the ceiling where it dissolves harmlessly. "Like that right there. That was light manipulation, not a mental effect. The orb is easy enough, that's just a sphere that blocks light. Fine. But the dissipation shouldn't work that way. Splitting into dozens of small pieces and then having them blow away in a breeze? The manipulation to do that takes real effort. I can do it, but I should have needed to focus on it, to sweat over it like I was doing calculus in my head. Instead, it was entirely subconscious! I didn't even mean to make that happen, but it did because that's what I thought should happen. And that scares me."

Alice leaned forwards in her chair as the doll flew off with the book. "And why does your magic getting easier scare you? Particularly since you're in a situation where you need every scrap of power you can get?"

"Because there's no achievement without effort. Every single story I've read about a magician that takes a shortcut to power ends in tragedy. Usually via getting possessed by a demon or turning into something inhuman or something suitably dramatic. And now I'm in Gensokyo, a land of fantasy, with an incident where urban legends are coming to life and becoming part of people, and I have a sudden, completely unexplained power boost. So yes, I'm very worried about what could have caused this, and what might be the consequences of it."

"And you are, in fact, human?"

"Yes!"

"Interesting. It is possible for youkai to gain power after coming to Gensokyo, but that's mostly due to the outside world being hostile to fantasy. It's more of a return to their previous peak than any true upgrade in power, and the exceptions have clear explanations, such as the gods of the Moriya Shrine gaining more worshippers. Meanwhile, most humans who end up in Gensokyo show no powers of any sort. While there have been a couple of magicians who moved to Gensokyo, neither I nor Patchouli saw any substantial difference in our magic afterwards."

"So where does that leave me?"

"My first theory is that it's a side effect of the occult balls you and your friend created. Without spending more time analyzing them, I cannot know for certain, but it is the obvious anomaly here. Perhaps you already have an urban legend, and your power boost is a direct result of that."

"There's still holes in that, though," you point out. "There doesn't seem to be any obvious theme or story to this power boost, and I've been in Gensokyo for less than twenty-four hours. And almost nobody knew I was here until the last hour or so. I shouldn't have had time to get an urban legend."

"My second theory is that your magic is inherently tied to Gensokyo in some way. Which, considering you lived in the outside world, would require either a Gensokyo native as a parent, or some sort of formative encounter with one being the source of your magic."

You think back on your early life, and after a moment's hesitation, shook your head. "I don't think that's the case either. I'm pretty damn sure I'm human, and I didn't have any encounters with youkai until after my magic had manifested."

"Then I'm at a loss. Although, one thing that could shed more light on the situation is having you enchant with an occult ball again."

You're hesitant. "That could have ended really badly last time. If Sumi hadn't been there- hang on, where did she go, anyway?" She'd gone to the bathroom, but had been absent long enough you half-wondered if she'd fallen in. Or gotten engaged in some vicious battle with the rare and mythical toilet-youkai.

"She got sidetracked my library, browsing the magic books," Alice answered. "I don't mind her looking, but I'll have to make sure they're all put back before we leave."

"Ah. Anyway, my point is, it's dangerous. I'm still not sure what the bracelet I enchanted last time even does. Come to think of it, could you take a look at that?"

"Of course. But regarding the danger; we can and should do this properly. Both Sumireko and I can be on guard if something unexpected happens, while Satori can monitor your mind for any sign of danger."

[-] Experiment with an occult ball again. (Suggest an enchantment!)
[-] Decline. You'd rather not take risks here.
[X] Experiment with an occult ball again. (Suggest an enchantment!)
healing or shielding
[-] Experiment with an occult ball again. (Suggest an enchantment!)
-[x] Veil self (true light manipulation)
It doesn't matter if the duration is too short or if it's somehow too impractical to use since it's just an experiment and we might as well see if part of our main toolkit could end up as an enchantment. It's a good idea to try this while we have supervision.
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Veil self (true light manipulation)
[X] Experiment with an occult ball again. (Suggest an enchantment!)

shielding
Why are you just me? I’ve been playing Phoenix Wright with my brother for the first time over the past 2 weeks. References to the game feel like a bit of a non-sequitur to the story but surprisingly relevant to me personally.

[x] Experiment with the Occult ball again
Cape of flight or something similar.

Maybe a belt as those are harder to remove in combat.

We need to be mobile. Weve proven we can throw up illusions on the fly and even render Sumi invisible, but flight is a staple of Gensokyo and the only way we are flying is with an artifact. I’d rather it be something we made than a secondhand Kappapack.
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Hologram projector (Single item).

Lets go with something small, easy and familiar.
Heck, the hologram doesn't even need to be anything complex, just something simple like a cube since its an experiment.
If it works, we have can have a potential utility to work with in the future.
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Veil self (true light manipulation)
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Veil self (true light manipulation)

>"My second theory is that your magic is inherently tied to Gensokyo in some way. Which, considering you lived in the outside world, would require either a Gensokyo native as a parent, or some sort of formative encounter with one being the source of your magic."

Gensokyo is the Land of Illusions and an illusionist suddenly got a power boost once he entered it. Coincidence? I think not!
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Hologram projector: Light clone

Basically the same idea the anon above posited but have the light projection be able to physically interact with things.
We have an experienced mage to guide us, a mind reader to monitor us and a friend to help us out here in one place, so let's see if we can get something fancy done!
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Hologram projector: Light clone.
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Hologram projector: Light clone

I'm guessing we're gonna keep playing trickery/stealth which means we need two essentials.
We can already hide ourselves, so all we need now is something to distract others.
If possible, physical manipulation would also be nice.
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Hologram projector: Light clone
[x] Experiment with an occult ball again.
-[x] Hologram projector: Light Clone

The first order of business is to get everyone set up properly this time. You give Sumireko a quick explanation, along with some persuading that no, the extra safety precautions should be enough. Two magicians actively on watch, with Satori monitoring your thoughts for anything unusual. After a bit of discussion, you decide to do the experiment inside, with Alice watching from all sides with her dolls.

As Sumireko summons the occult ball and it drifts over to you, you start to feel uneasy about the whole thing. You're not sure if it's the potential danger, whether you've psyched yourself out with all the precautions, or if having that many dolls watching you is just a little creepy. Still, there's nothing else to do, so you focus...

... and realize you're an idiot.

"I just realized, we never picked an object to actually enchant."

Sumireko facepalms, while Satori mostly looks amused. "Damn it Greg, pick literally anything."

Alice, on the other hand, is not particularly amused. "The enchantment itself is the more important decision to make."

"I already have something in mind for that one. A triggerable illusion of the wearer. Light-cast, not the mental sort. You won't really be able to move it around, but..."

Sumireko raised an eyebrow. "That's incredibly complex for an off-the-cuff enchantment. Shouldn't you pick something simpler?"

"I mean, we've got a strong power source here. I might as well use it properly."

A doll flies over and hovers right in front of me. "Catch," Alice says, as it drops out of the air.

With one arm in a sling, you end up roughly batting it to the floor with your other hand. Oops. As you crouch down to grab it, you ask, "Are you sure about this, Alice?"

She nodded. "It'll give me a better read on whatever your enchantment effect actually does. And if the enchantment works as desired, having it on something I can remotely pilot will make it far more versatile."

"Also, she's blown up her own dolls with magical experimentation before," Satori said.

"What about cross-contamination?" Sumi asks. "The entire reason we're doing this is to figure out what's going on with Gregor's magic. Using one of Alice's dolls is just adding another variable to what's already a complicated equation."

"Shanghai is inactive. Whatever he casts won't interact with my magic unless he blows the doll up entirely."

"Right, I'll try to avoid that. Places everyone." You wait for everyone back off/tense up/psyche themselves out, and reach out to the occult ball.

You can feel the magic, but it's different this time. It doesn't readily answer your call, but pulls away, trying to flow in an entirely different direction. You pull at it anyway, and get a sense of sand and heat, but much fainter than before; you're struggling to hold on to it, the power is squirming and trying to get away. You increase the pressure, trying to force it into the doll you're holding, and Sumireko suddenly yelps.

You look up, startled, as Sumireko's shaking her hand and her dress is literally smoking. She gestures sharply, and the bracelet comes flying out of her pocket, clattering against the far wall and sizzling with power. As in, literally sizzling: Sumireko's dress has a burn mark, the floor is getting a burn mark, and you can see a ring of red skin where she'd tried to grab the bracelet.

"Sumi! Are you all right?"

Alice snaps her fingers, and a dolls flies over with an ice pack, which Sumireko grabs immediately. She lets out a sigh (sob?) of relief, and turns to you immediately. "Damn it! Ow! Roach, what did you do?!"

"I just tried to connect to the occult ball and grab its power like before! I hadn't even started the enchantment yet!"

In the background, a couple more fly in with a box which they use to bag the bracelet without actually touching it. Alice glances over to that, then back to you. "Was the magic resisting?"

"No, it was completely well-behaved with no unexpected side-effects at all!" Sumireko snarled.

"Yes, it... oh. Of course." You'd felt magic 'stuck' like that before, and it was typically when dealing with an item that was already enchantment. "Damn, I didn't think the magic was that tightly connected. I don't think I can run another enchantment off of this occult ball without destroying the bracelet."

Sumireko grimaced, clutching her burned hand. "So what, are we giving this up as a bad job?"

"We don't have to," Satori interrupted. "I did get an occult ball off of Nitori. We can use that."

You look up to see a second purple sphere floating over, surprised. "When were you going to tell us this again?"

Satori didn't quite meet your gaze. "We'd been running around almost constantly since that fight, and they vanish when not summoned. I'd forgotten about it."

"Whatever, we're still in business. False starts aside, let's do this." Then Satori's occult ball touches you, the magic comes out in a rush.

[...] To be continued.

(Short update this time. Been a busy couple of days, and the magical false start made a natural enough breaking point.)
Thanks for the update! I love the story and the direction it's taking so far.
Smart idea that the hologram enchant object is a doll, making controlling it easier.

We'll be waiting patiently for the next update.
>"There doesn't seem to be any obvious theme or story to this power boost, and I've been in Gensokyo for less than twenty-four hours. And almost nobody knew I was here until the last hour or so. I shouldn't have had time to get an urban legend."

Meanwhile Koishi's been going off of a singleminded (or no-minded? unconscious?) effort to get Gregor "Roach" Watanabe an urban legend that makes him a strong magician.
When it comes to urban legends, she's incredibly proficient. She beat Reimu in the popularity polls because of it after all!
File 162415957235.jpg - (34.13KB, 474x315, AMMS_591de661e88aa37e95f82338460a2c72.jpg) [iqdb]
202595
[x]Enchant the doll, with a fresh occult ball this time.

You get the vision immediately. Lines and curves of sand on the flat canvas of the desert. You look around in puzzlement, and your perspective suddenly shifts, flying up into the air, from which the segments of lines and curves come together to form shapes hundreds of feet long. Some are lines, spirals, and geometric shapes, but others are plants and animals. A spider, a hummingbird, a cactus. As you watch, they start shimmering, the sand within the lines rising up to form three-dimensional shapes matching their original drawings. Below you, the legs of the spider form and lift the massive main body out of the earth; a sand sculpture the size of a building.

Suddenly you're back on the ground, staring up at the massive sand creatures. They're not perfectly still; they're shifting back and forth, subtle tremors and shifts that would be consistent with breathing and waiting, but they're not going anywhere. There's no activity once they've risen, no sense of movement or awareness. It should be awe-inspiring, and yet oddly falls short. There's a wave of pressure, like sound that's so deep bass it's felt more than heard, and color leeches from the landscape into the sand creatures; different colors of sand and dirt flying up from the ground and spreading out across the surface of the sculptures. In moments, the creatures have gone from being mere shapes of golden sand to full color, and yet the creatures remain as lifeless as before.

... because that's how illusion works, isn't it? If you took a picture, or saw it only for an instant, an illusion fools you into believing it's the real thing. But there is no guiding mind here; this is just undirected magic with the guideline to make an image, and the templates of the Nazca Lines. And without direction, without the conscious mind of a caster, a still image is all you can get.

Right! In the end, each occult ball is just a conduit to a nexus of earth's latent magic. And while it has a sense of personality and temperament, there's no true imagination there. When you ask the magic from the Nazca Lines to make an image, this is what it comes up with, because that's history the landmark was created from!

But just a random image isn't enough for what you need. It has to be a specific one; that of the caster. Which means you need to give the magic more specific direction. Kneeling down in the sand, you draw out a rough sketch of a human, and as you do, the scale changes; you grow and the world beneath you shrinks, until you're towering above the sand sculptures, with they and the Nazca Lines beneath them scaled to the same size as your drawing.

You finish tracing out the human shape, your finger completing the circle for the head, but the sand refuses to rise. It's vibrating around and inside your drawing, humming with potential, but it hasn't activated, not quite. It isn't the same thing as with Sumi's occult ball; the magic isn't resisting you. It seems willing enough, but it isn't sure what to actually do. The drawing you've produced isn't enough form for the magic to animate. Is it your focus? A limit of the occult balls, or perhaps of this world wonder in particular? Or maybe you're just a really crap artist.

And then you realize, you've broken the first rule of illusion magic. A psychic illusion can afford to be vague, as the target's subconscious mind will fill in the details. But the magic swirling around you doesn't have a consciousness; it only has the general idea of what a human shape is. You're asking for the image of a particular person, but you aren't giving it enough information to do that, because you haven't specified which person. Should the illusion be of you, Sumireko, Satori, or Alice? You aren't sure, and if you don't know, how could the magic possibly know?

You hesitate. There has to be a way to provide that information later on; to optimize the illusion to "human-shaped" and then pick which human when you actually cast it. The way you structure your own illusions proves that. But you don't know enough about enchantment or the occult balls to be certain of pulling that off here.

And given what just happened with Sumireko's bracelet, you can't be sure that you'll get a second chance at this enchantment.

[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person. [Choose a person]
[x] Just go for it. Take your best guess and try to make the enchantment a general-purpose illusion.
[x] Let the magic go. Better to consult with your fellow magicians, take some time to study, and get a better enchantment later.
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person.
[Nitori]
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person. [Reimu]
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person.
[Nitori]
Just so it’s clear, you’re picking which person the enchanted item would make an illusion of. I’d assumed you’d pick a party member, but if you really want an illusion of Nitori for some reason, you can do that.
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person. [Satori]
GIB MOAR SATORI ROUTE POINTS also satori were totally aliums with floating mind reader eyeballs just trust us
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person.
[Nitori]

Had half a mind to pick Reimu just to induce a tie, but the sooner the vote is made the sooner the story can continue so go Nitori!
Wait never mind! indeed let's go for Satori.

Ignore the prevouis Nitori vote, Satori all the way!

[Satori]
[x] Let the magic go. Better to consult with your fellow magicians, take some time to study, and get a better enchantment later.

This is interesting. Seeing how this is more of a experiment than an actual enchanting, we should stop now and discuss what we experience so far and how to properly make our desired enchantment seeing how we have a mind-reader and a puppeteer magician to draw knowledge from.

Also, why Nitori? I mean, I get that its her occult ball but wouldn't it be better to have the clone be someone else from our party that joined with their consent?
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person.
[Alice]

With the added benefit of possibly pranking Marisa, I find the Idea of one of her puppets being able to project an image of her endearing by itself.
I'm changing my vote from Nitori to
[Alice]
based on the reasons in the comment above.
[x] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person.
[Nitori]

We kidnaped Nitori they’ll be looking for her.
We can use that for all kinds of trickery.
If I gathered this correctly, with Nitori votes being so fickle so far, we're at a three way tie between Nitori, Satori and Alice and a single madman advocating for a Reimu hologram.
[X] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person. [Reimu]

*two madmen
[X] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person. [Reimu]
So, I think voting is currently at

[3] Reimu
[2] Nitori
[2] Satori
[2] Alice

I'll probably give it until this evening before I start writing.
>Reimu

excuse me what
>>202604
Alright, I give in.

Changing vote to:
[Alice]
May as well do so myself.

Changing vote from Satori to Alice

That'll give her a fighting chance against Reimu
>>202605 here, and

Oh my God, how could I could I not have been thinking about this way sooner? I absolutely HATE to be one to throw this voting session for ANOTHER Loop, but this idea is too good to be quiet about and pass up even in a situation like this.

We have an enchanted object capable of conjuring up the image of a specific person. At any time. And we can call it back to make it dissappear. At any time.
You know whose characteristics and behaviors that PERFECTLY mimics? Always at he back of your mind yet never able to grasp her presence.
[x] Until I'm right here.

So, yes to the dismay of of every one who sacrificed their interest in favor of my original vote - even to my own dismay - I change my vote!
[X] We may end up wanting this tool immediately, and we'll find more occult balls eventually. Let's just go ahead and tie the illusion to a specific person. [Reimu]
An illusion of Reimu will be interesting...
No update tonight; pretty bad headache. Will hopefully get back to it tomorrow.
>>202615
That's actually a really good idea. Sorry for making the voting even more of a mess.

[x] Until I'm right here.
>>202618
Thirded.
[x] Until I'm right here.
Don't know what [X] Until I'm right there
means but may as we-OOOOOH I get it now

Changing my vote from Alice to [X] Until I'm right there.

Fourthed
I voted for nitori changing it to
[x] Until I'm right here.
I seriously hope OP realizes what a declaration of war on Koishi that vote is and how FUN things can get as a result, but also let's do it
Changing >>202600 to
[x] Until I'm right here.
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202623
[x]Until I'm right here

Come to think of it, why make an illusion of someone in your group at all? Sure, that could be a valuable tool in just about any fight, but the best use of illusions was to play with someone's expectations. A caster obscuring their own location was the obvious one, but that wasn't what had saved you against Marisa. Instead, what if you had an illusion of someone that was hard to find anyway? Who you would never see coming, who was unpredictable enough to do almost anything, and strong enough to be a real threat to even the toughest youkai? Someone who, considering who you were traveling with, people would almost expect to be around anyway? Heck, she might even be around right now!

Brilliant! Not to mention, having a Koishi illusion could actually be helpful outside of combat. The thing is, Koishi was... hard to remember. If not for Satori's presence, you weren't sure you'd even remember she existed. Granted, that was kind of her thing, and she probably liked it that way, but it did mean you had a hard time remembering what she looked like. Which, given that an illusion needed a clear image of the subject, would be tricky.

Thankfully, you had a good family resemblance to take advantage of. You return to your drawing in the sand, and add in the satori's third eye, connecting it to the head and the wrists with strings. Not straight there, but loose and with plenty of slack, throwing a loop in one of them for good measure. After a moment's contemplation, the loop is indented to look more like a heart.

Right, what else? Well, what comes to mind for Satori is a general sense of tiredness. Not physically, she's done as much danmaku as any of you, but more emotionally. Like, the world's rough and ruthless, and she's faced it for a long time. She hasn't given up, she hasn't stopped fighting, but she is tired of it, tired of reading minds in general. Tired of cruel youkai and petty humans, of liars and perverts, of false friends who say one thing while meaning another, and are stupid enough to try it directly in front of a mind-reader. Of seeing the hateful words that people don't say, and responding to the truth with more hatred.

But that's not all there is to her. You've seen how much she cares for her sister; the deal she's made with you to help Koishi proves it. She's also really bad at hiding things from her sister... right, that bit of interaction you saw between the two earlier showed that. Satori really does worry about Koishi, even if the younger sister doesn't seem to realize it. Well, she probably realizes it. Heh, power and youkai abilities aside, Koishi's like an innocent child, and Satori the worried older sister. Or maybe Koishi's more an innocent-seeming child that's actually an endless troublemaker. You're not really sure. Really. Anyway, the point is, Satori seems drained because she cares. For Koishi, for her pets, for you and Sumireko, even for other people she comes across. Her words are blunt and sometimes biting, but they're always true, and usually helpful. She may hurt feelings, but by trying to expose lies, or offering constructive criticism. She may act distant and unapproachable, but you're certain she cares more than she lets on. Like the way she helped you comfort Sumi with the little shopping trip! It was behind the scenes, she downplayed it and never even let Sumireko know about it, but it was meaningful to your friend, and you found the gesture touching.

... speaking of which, Satori, if you're picking up on this, sorry if this is uncomfortable or embarrassing, but you do need a good sense of the subject to make an illusion, and this was the best idea you had, so... just bear with it, you guess. And you'll agree to never bring it up if she doesn't.

Actually, you should totally ask her out.

... and now your brain is trying to embarrass you. That is absolutely not the thing to think about while Satori's reading your mind, even though it would be romantic- No! Not now. Focus on the illusion. You need to concentrate on a clear picture of Satori to get it through to the Occult Ball, to give it the clearest possible impression of her, both in body and mind. Yes, a clear picture of Satori. You can see her now, with a fire in her eyes, putting a finger to your lips to stop what you were going to say, before whispering, 'I know you want to kiss me.'

With the discipline and presence of mind of a trained magician, you whip up a wind, the sand battering away at you. Grains of sand tear away at every inch of exposed flesh, and would probably have done terrible things to your eyes if they had not been shut when you'd started it. Ow. Like, really terrible. More painful than that, even. You keep the sand at high-tempo for a minute, and take a couple of deep breaths (shielded by a hand, of course. The sand might be all in your mind, but sand coating the inside of your throat inside your mind is... ugh), doing your best to clear your mind and get back to normal. After a few minutes without those strange thoughts intruding, and praying Satori believes you when you think this isn't normal for you, you get to work.

With Satori's presence fully in your mind's eye, the sand shifts and starts building her figure. The pink slippers, the thin legs, the rose-patterned skirt. A third eye forms, connecting to the wrists that have materialized out of the torso, as the body builds upwards to form the head. It worked. Even without the eyes open, even without the colors present, it's still recognizably Satori, and you pump a fist in satisfaction.

Now... how do you get from that to Koishi? Aside from the obvious point of her third eye being shut, you start with the general color scheme. Where Satori went for blue and pink, Koishi used yellow and green, and both her colors and expression were livelier. Where Satori's eyes were often flat, betraying a look of anxiousness or exasperation, Koishi's would be fully open, whether with interest, excitement, or curiosity, she'd always be doing something. Wandering around without fear, because after all, what could possibly scare her? Even aside from her substantial-even-for-Gensokyo strength, it's not like anyone could deliberately target her. And you can't forget the hat!

As you think these things, you make the changes to the Satori-sculpture in front of you, but that's just it. Somehow, some way, it's still recognizably Satori. With a few changes, certainly; the colors shifted, the eye shut, maybe looking happy about her new hat, but it's still Satori. You wrack your brains trying to remember more about her sister, and changing details like moving the veins to her ankles, the pattern of the buttons, the style of the shoes, but it's still not Koishi. Not quite. You can feel the magic trying to change back to Satori fully, and sigh. What now? Turn around and think about it for a minute. Maybe something will come to you.
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202624
((If this is the first post you saw via clicking the update link, scroll up! This one's a double update.))

As Gregor takes the subconscious suggestion and turns around, I finish wiping the sand out of my eyes. With my help, Gregor's gotten about as close to the idea of me as anyone outside the underground ever could, but apparently that's not enough. I look at the mindlessly grinning sculpture that resembles me, and can't help but smirk a bit. On the one hand, it's annoying to have to think this deeply, to go back over some old wounds. On the other hand, if he's really going to try for an image of me, maybe it's for the best that it have a little depth to it.

I'm not a magician. Never have been. That said, you can't be a mind-reader without picking up a few things, and even though that was many years ago, I do remember a few things. And one of them is that magic is mostly about intent. Oh, there's rituals, there's materials, spell circles and all that, but it's really about forcing your will on reality. You just need to have the balls to say 'This is how things should be!' and making the world believe you.

That's why Gregor can't do this. He might have a decent read on my sister (a little idealized, but it's sweet), but he doesn't know me, not well enough to make the magic imitate me. But I'm uniquely qualified for this one.

I fly up to the sand satori, circling it as I feel what it represents. Oh, Gregor got some of it right. Fearlessness? There's precious little that scares me these days. Excitement, well, I've enjoyed playing around with the Urban Legend incident, particularly with Miss Mary. Curiosity? Yeah, that's one of the primary things driving me these days. I looked for the Moriya Shrine because what they did with Okuu was interesting. I fought Reimu and Marisa because they were interesting. I kept Kokoro's mask because it was interesting. I've been following Satori since she left the underground because it was interesting. And also to keep her out of trouble, but she'll never be convinced I'm the one of us who's better off.

And the reason for that ties into the main thing Gregor's missing. The surface of the fake Koishi is almost entirely correct. The appearance is spot on, and the surface feelings, the ones I still feel now, are more or less there.
But this Koishi is flat. It's in three dimensions, but it's still as flat as my sister's sense of humor. It can't represent me without having a reason to behave as I did.

So I fly up to the fake Koishi, grab the veins connecting to the third eye, and tear them out of her head. Sand spurts from the wound like blood, and the fake reacts, writhing in pain and looking at me with tears in her eyes. I bear the gaze calmly, dropping the veins as her third eye shuts for the last time, and hold up mine to show her. I untie the coils from around my waist, showing her the severed ends of my third eye, and her gaze fills with fear and confusion. Then I fly into the sand, hiding deep within the sand-Koishi's body, and I remember.

I'd say I'm sorry, but my sister would tell me off for lying. You know how she is.


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

In an instant, I'm back in Alice's house. I let go of the occult ball thoughtfully as Gregor stumbles back from it, looking startled. It seems none of the others noticed I was here. Not sure whether that's useful or just sad. It's kind of a pity fixing the fake-me took so long; if I'd gotten back earlier, I'm sure I could have caught Satori blushing. She's so easily flustered if you know which buttons to press, and Gregor's 'unusual thoughts' would have pressed the former hell out of 'em. Wait, that phone I took off of what's-her-name does video, doesn't it? Damn. Opportunity wasted.

Anyway, Gregor's giving them the play-by-play on what happened while he was under. Nothing I didn't already know, considering the occult ball connected us mind-to-mind for a bit. Getting the old satori experience there was unexpected and a bit uncomfortable, but he's nice enough that it wasn't too bad. Of course, if he wasn't nice, and he was interested in my sister, he'd have to die, so lucky people all around. Pity it's not winter, or I'd be getting out the mistletoe. It's been so long since I had a chance to tease sis like this.

I mostly ignore their conversation, up until the point where Alice draws their attention to the doll. It worked, no doubt about that! Not only did the enchantment take, but the doll itself changed! Its clothes are now yellow and green, and the hair is now a really pale green like mine used to be! Now that's interesting... and I want it.

[-] Steal from the doll-rich and give to the doll-poor!
[-] Engage stealth mode! Wait until they're not all looking at the doll, then abscond with it!
[-] Satori's gonna know I was here. Better make a show of saying hi and bye. I can circle back around for the mini-me later.

[X] Satori's gonna know I was here. Better make a show of saying hi and bye. I can circle back around for the mini-me later.
Huh, a new tripcode. ...with the same security code thingy. How does that even work?

Anyways, Koshi Quest is a go! so time to just type whatever comes to mind. Which is well, chaos.

I wonder what it would take to get Gregor to disguise himself as a girl? I mean, duh how else would he ever even stand a chance at danmaku. This is Touhou after all, the entire world is set up so that cute girls can shoot pretty lights at each other.

Now, Gregor already has the spell card system trying to force him to comply by changing his magic, so there's no real reason not to go along with the flow. Besides Unzan has already proven you can have male characters show up in the games and even be relevant, so long as there is still a cute girl standing there as a hitbox.

So Gregor either has to tag team with Sumireko, or find a way to count as a cute girl himself. I would say that's just common sense, but we all know that doesn't exist in Gensokyo.

Oh right, the vote.

[X] Steal from the doll-rich and give to the doll-poor!

Oh, and just so everyone knows, the next update will be from Gregor's perspective again.

Feel free to let me know whether that news comes as a relief or a massive disappointment. :P
[x] Steal from the doll-rich and give to the doll-poor!

SEVERE AMOUNTS OF !!!FUN!!! INBOUND
>>202627
My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.

I hope you are happy.
>>202629
don't listen to this guy, he's allergic to !!!FUN!!! and probably votes incorrectly every single time
[X] Engage stealth mode! Wait until they're not all looking at the doll, then abscond with it!

>>202629
Man up, I also wish it wasn't koishi, but im not gonna let it detract from my enjoyment, satori is a major character, and koishi is a major plot point, it was gonna happen eventually.
>>202631
don't listen to this guy either, he's allergic to irony and probably votes incorrectly every single time
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" That's my thoughts and feelings summarized.
I love this update, this is so exciting! And so many questions!

What will the magicians gather from this enchantment? We had an intrusive participant in the process!
Did Greg take note of the revelation that Koishi not merely closed but cut off her third eye? You can wake someone asleep but making the blind see is considered a miracle!
Is Koishi just innocently teasing her sister or is she not quite so innocently pushing her towards something?
And what will Greg take from this mind-altering experience of mind-sharing?

Each revelation comes at the cost of two new mysteries and each resolution at the cost of a new problem. And this is what keeps us going forward.

But now I will devote my mind to more pressing matters at hand: the Koishi doll!

Without her help, the enchantment would not have worked out as Greg wanted it to. It's just as much his work as it was mine. So it should belong to both of them. So it's only fair to share. That's right! So it's only fair to [x] steal from the doll-rich and give to the doll-poor!
Mr Dolly will be my friend, he will keep me company when I'm alone.

[X] Satori's gonna know I was here. Better make a show of saying hi and bye. I can circle back around for the mini-me later.

You can't just *steal* a doll, you have to seduce it, and that takes time.
>>202633
don't listen to this guy either, he's high
[X] Steal from the doll-rich and give to the doll-poor!

>>202627
I'm loving both Gregor and Koishi. Never before have I felt such a mix disappointment and relief.
Thank you, you glorious bastard.
>>202635
I like how its >>202633 you called high and not the anon who thinks you can seduce inanimate objects.
>>202637
how rude, that's just being ambitious
File 162445893350.png - (554.04KB, 1200x1400, oh dear.png) [iqdb]
202639
>>202638
RI don't think that's a healthy attitude to have Anon.
[X] Engage stealth mode! Wait until they're not all looking at the doll, then abscond with it!
[X] Steal from the doll-rich and give to the doll-poor!
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