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[-] Meet Sakuya's mistress.

You knew Sakuya would be back with her mistress, she'd promised as much. You also knew someone with the ability to stop time could show up quite literally out of nowhere. It would not be inaccurate to say you were dreading whatever it was she had in store for you, and yet when she showed up with several people in tow, you were focused enough on Satori that it still caught you off guard.

Which is all a longwinded way of saying, curse Sakuya's sudden yet inevitable arrival.

The moment the door cracks open, Satori pushes away from you, making a show of getting up and dusting herself off. For lack of a better idea, you do the same as you survey the people entering. You don't see the guard from earlier, but Sakuya ushers in a purple haired woman wearing what you're pretty sure are pink pajamas, and... a much younger vampire than you were expecting. With wings that could be best described as rainbow crystal windchimes, but that's surprisingly low on the weirdness scale these days.

You can see Satori tense up at the vampire's presence, but she gives the group a flat look and a nod. "Patchouli. I'm glad to see you've fully recovered from last time."

The purpled haired woman stares coldly back, and if her pale face and the bags under her eyes count as recovered, you'd hate to see what sick (injured?) was like. "Satori. I'd say I'm pleased to see you, but you're difficult to lie to."

As your captors take seats around a table in the center of the gazebo, Satori returns fire. "Not as difficult as usual. I take it I have you to thank for that?"

It's then that you place Patchouli's name, and you grimace as you remember the context. "Please tell me this isn't another grudge match with someone who broke into your house."

Sakuya looks amused, the vampire looks impatient, and Patchouli looks downright offended. "I take it she didn't mention her nuclear-powered pet preparing to lay waste to the surface?"

Satori doesn't give her a reaction. "You were amiable enough when I was investigating your near-murder. Granted, that may have been because you were comatose."

"It does make her a better conversationalist," Sakuya mused, earning a betrayed look from Patchouli.

"Enough!" The vampire slams her hands down on the table, driving them quite literally through the wooden surface, cracks spiderwebbing out through the point of impact. She scowls, and you feel a pulse of power through the magic sealing you as the table shatters, collapsing in-place to a pile of splinters. "You're wasting time!"

The vampire has the floor as she marches towards you through the remnant of the table. "Sakuya tells me you created the urban legends. Then fix this. Now!"

You swallow and step back, holding your hands in front of you appeasingly. A quick glance to the side reveals Satori is speechless, so you stammer out, "I, um... fix what? Your wings?"

In a split second, you know it was the wrong thing to say. Satori's eyes widen and the vampire looks absolutely furious. The maid blurs and you're knocked to the floor as she's now between you and the vampire. The vampire who is now holding a massive burning sword. "Flandre. He's not from Gensokyo. He doesn't know. And-"

"I know, I know, we need him. Don't worry, I won't kill him. I'm just going to... how would you put it?" She laughs maniacally as she brandishes the sword, tracing scorch marks on the walls and forcing Patchouli to duck. "Teach him some manners."

Sakuya remains unmoving. "He's human."

"So's Marisa. She lived."

"He's human without magic," Patchouli cut in. "And Eirin's remedies won't raise a corpse."

"And while I'm sure you could restrain yourself," Sakuya pauses and glances meaningfully backwards at you, "we can't afford any injuries if we're going to see Remilia."

As the murderously angry vampire grumbles and stabs her sword into the ground, you think frantically to yourself. You're sure Satori said Sakuya served a vampire named Remilia. Given this one's strength and the fact that Sakuya deferred to her, you were sure that was her... But the fact that she addressed this one as Flandre and talked about going to see Remilia means that you were mistaken. Which shouldn't be possible unless the time-stopping maid somehow has two vampire mistresses.

Satori steps in front of you and speaks up. "What is it that you want? I've gathered Remilia's urban legend went wrong, but we don't know the details."

Sakuya coughs meaningfully. "Patchouli?"

The mage sighs. "Remilia declared her intent to acquire an urban legend, ostensibly for more power. Shortly afterwards, she became more irritable, complaining of hunger, thirst, and bright light, among other things. Sakuya contacted Eirin to attempt treatment, but she was ineffective. After approximately one week Remilia attacked and attempted to drain Sakuya. The resulting brawl destroyed much of the mansion, and it was only with Flandre's help that we were able subdue her. Since then, Remilia has been uncontrollable. We believe the urban legend affecting her to have degraded her mental faculties, and that she is currently incapable of speech."

Oh. You don't... what can you even say to that? And perhaps more practically, what can you hope to do about it?

[-] Write-in.
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How was the Urban Legends issue resolved in canon? Because if it was by returning all the Occult Balls to the moon, I don't think we can do that. The alternative would be to kill the thing Remilia is using to bring about the urban legend. This could be a coffin, or her current body.
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I see. So it was Remilia that is being affected by the urban legend. Seeing the information presented so far, it is possible she might have just become a textbook Vampire but we might need more details.

Also, assuming our poker face is good enough, we might be able to negotiate/ lie for a more favorable situation considering how they think we know how to dispel it but we actually don't. We would need a plan of action first tho.

I'll consider negotiating but since we are in a precarious situation, I might double check what we know first lest we ended up with another Twei situation again.

I'll go for a delay tactic to gather more information until we can come up with a appropriate plan of action.

[X] Apologise about the wing comment? Compliment the sword?
- [X] Ask for more information about her conditions
- [X] Ask if they had any clue about how Remilia made her Urban Legend or what Legend she choose
- [X] Act like how a doctor would be asking his patient about his symptoms with the best poker face you can manage. Well, as best as you can with a trigger happy time-stopper, a hostile and fed-up mage and a Vampire that is angry and wants to kill you.

Just a thought. Consider this, we can potentially send Sakuya to get Nitori. Poor girl, lol.
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[x] Take us to her. To discern her urban legend, we need to know more.
Apologize to someone who currently holds us hostage and nearly killed most of our friends? I don't think so. If we're called to play doctor, it's time to play doctor, not more.
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[X] Apologise about the wing comment? Compliment the sword?
- [X] Ask for more information about her conditions
- [X] Ask if they had any clue about how Remilia made her Urban Legend or what Legend she choose
- [X] Act like how a doctor would be asking his patient about his symptoms with the best poker face you can manage. Well, as best as you can with a trigger happy time-stopper, a hostile and fed-up mage and a Vampire that is angry and wants to kill you.

Good write-in, says what I wanted to say better than I could.
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Why don't we add something about unsealing Satori's eye? Could be totally useful in diagnosing our 'patient'
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>>203284
In canon, it was never actually resolved, but remained ongoing and stayed as a new element of Gensokyo.
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Basically, I agree with being diplomatic for as long as it means keeping from harm. Frankly, fuck apologizing though.
It honestly shouldn't sound like an outlandish idea to unseal Satori's third eye - temporarily - to gather more information to perform a diagnosis on Remilia's condition if the suggestion is presented well. This could allow Satori a short respite and Greg an opportunity to figure something out about the magical seals put on them.
I doubt they'd let a illusionist magician have a access to his magics, so I won't ask the same for Greg.

>>203285 +1 (except for the apology portion)
[x] Suggest unsealing Satori's third eye as part of figuring out Remilia's condition
-[x] IF you can, observe the unsealing (and resealing) process, draw little attention to yourself
-[x] Subvovally Ask Satori to pay attention to the Patchouli's mind and the sealing process

Feeling bad about the last one but if there's something to figure out how the seals work the best bet are Satori's insights.
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>>203287 here changing vote to add unsealing Satori's third eye.
X] Apologise about the wing comment?
- [X] Ask for more information about her conditions
- [X] Ask if they had any clue about how Remilia made her Urban Legend or what Legend she choose
- [X] Act like how a doctor would be asking his patient about his symptoms with the best poker face you can manage. Well, as best as you can with a trigger happy time-stopper, a hostile and fed-up mage and a Vampire that is angry and wants to kill you.
-[x] Suggest unsealing Satori's third eye as part of figuring out Remilia's condition
-[x] IF you can, observe the unsealing (and resealing) process, draw little attention to yourself.
-[x] Suborally Ask Satori to pay attention to the Patchouli's mind and the sealing process
At first I thought that trying to read a very powerful and knowledgeable mage's mind would be a bad idea, but then I realized that Satori would read her mind anyways once her third eye was unsealed, because of how her ability works (having no control over whether or not to read someone's mind). We should still apologize though, just to be diplomatic. No need to go over the top though, just apologize for a thoughtless comment.
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>>203291
>>203290
I suggest not asking them to unseal her eye for the time being. It really obvious why they would do so in the first place as well as why we would want to do so.

If you guys want to free her, we both need a leverage and a very good argument and compromise for them to agree.

Also, I kind see it as starting negotiating already so its best to hold it first until we get more information. If it goes as well as possible, we might be able to convince them to some terms for our benefit while disguising it as helping them. Hell, Maybe we can get Alice to come over.



Since no one has a plan of action now, I'll suggest something.

Obviously, the first goal is to GTFO but honestly, how the fuck do you outrun a time-stopper. So the only way out would be to fix up Remilia and hope they are nice enough to let us go. If they are reasonable.

The second goal is to solve the mysteries of the Orbs so as to fulfill our two request (now third). The SDM is a godsent for this, with both Pachy here and without having to worry about a manhunt anytime soon.

The only problem with this is that we are in a very weak position. We are weighted down both with and as a hostage, no magical power and a lack of knowledge actually solve this problem. If SDM might figure out we don't actually know how to solve it and instead use us as bait to draw Sumi.

We need to bluff our way out (Like Greg, the balls on that man) but to do that, we need to negotiate onto a better standing ground and to do that, we need to get some more information and make some deduction. For example, if we point out Remilia's case seems abnormal and that we would need a second option from a fellow magician, we might be able to call Alice or get Patchy to help us without being found out that we know less than we let on.

Like maybe we can convince them to let us head out for whatever reason, but Sakuya accompanies us. Ya think Greg can be friends with her, being fellow magicians?

Also, gotta apologize yo. Doesn't hurt to be polite.
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>>203293
>Also, gotta apologize yo. Doesn't hurt to be polite.
It unironically does because it is they who have pulled a manhunt for us and put us here. It justifies their actions and makes everyone on our side look even more weak and incompetent than we are already - and that includes Alice, Sumi, Koishi, Satori and possibly more. So no, no apologies. Greg couldn't have possibly known that wings were a touchy subject, anyway.
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The whole ordeal puts Greg in the peculiar position where he potentially can keep secrets from Satori.
Playing a bizarre, long game of pretend, during which Greg gets in good graces with his captors at the cost of trust of his fellow captive until a platinum opportunity to break (one of) them out arises, is possible. He managed to successfully bluff Sakuya, who by all means should have known better, after all.

I keep saying 'to pretend'; I know actually getting in good graces with the SDM and becoming actually friendly with anyone that isn't Sakuya is a legitimate course of action that could transpire. One that could transpire for Greg, though hardly for me.
I just wouldn't ever want to be friendly let alone fraternise with the folks who had terrified a friend of mine when they had an opportunity to do things differently, their justification be damned.

I'm really undecided on what to do but one thing's for sure, I'm firmly on Satori's side during this ordeal. Whether it means making her time as bearable as possible or getting her out quickly by any means.

>>202623
>Right, what else? Well, what comes to mind for Satori is a general sense of tiredness. Not physically[...] 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
Well, that was mostly Koishi projecting.
>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.

Fuuuck man. This hit me again.
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>>203295
Alright than, in that case, we can look on to the other side of the spectrum.

We now know we can use it to bait her instead. If possible, we might be able to use it to rile her up and get her hyper focused on our illusions or as a distraction.
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>>203293
>>203291 here, I don't really expect them to accept, just doesn't hurt to try and if they shut the idea down, shrug and act as if it doesn't really matter.
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th
[x] Try to figure out more details about Remilia and her urban legend.
[x] Suggest unsealing Satori's third eye as part of figuring out Remilia's condition.

There's a lot to unpack in what Patchouli just said. In particular, the concept of urban legends turning youkai feral is terrifying and has some really horrible implications. But as much as you'd like to worry about the moral culpability side of things, having your life under direct threat has a wonderful way of concentrating the mind.

If you're going to make it out of this alive, you need to convince them that you have a concrete plan that ends with Remilia being fixed. Which means bluffing your way through the entire conversation. You have exactly one advantage here, and that's that they think you're an expert.

"Damn." Okay, that just slipped out. "Right, so the first order of business is figuring out just what Remilia's urban legend is."

"Maybe you don't get it," Flandre says, her words practically dripping murderous intent. "I don't want you to document my sister's urban legend, I want you to destroy it!"

You can't antagonize Flandre (she might actually just kill you), but you can't let her expect an easy or quick solution. So you put on your best poker face and stare her dead in the eyes. "Outright removing an urban legend is significantly more difficult than mitigating or altering one. Depending on what form Remilia's urban legend took, something like", your rack your brain for something plausible, "an offering of virgin's blood might put her back in control. If it has to be destroyed, then fine, but even then knowing what exactly what it is would be important."

That might have done the trick, Flandre is at least hesitating, but then Patchouli speaks up. "Do you think we haven't tried that? It's obviously vampiric in nature, given her enhanced weaknesses, but it doesn't match any of the classic descriptions."

No! You need more time and more information, so you have to undermine that somehow. "Classic descriptions? What, did you just reread your favorite vampire novels?"

It's a weak rebuttal at best, but Patchouli draws herself up, offended. Which is actually good. Sakuya and Flandre are the ones you need to sway, and Patchouli being offended makes it look like you have a point. "The Scarlet Devil Library contains more information about vampires than the rest of Gensokyo put together. And that's besides-"

"That's exactly your problem. A library." You lean forwards, channeling your best Sumi-brand smirk. "What makes you think some dusty old tome of folklore has anything to do with Remilia's urban legend? Urban legends are like all magic, they work off of belief! I would bet money that the people who know what's in those tomes could be counted on one hand, and that the people who actually care could be counted on one finger."

The mage is sputtering, and the vampire is looking irritated in her direction, but Sakuya is still very hard to read. "So what do you propose?"

You actually have an answer to that. "Satori. Remilia should at least have a good idea of her own urban legend, and even if she can't communicate it, we have a mind-reader on call right here."

"And unsealing your girlfriend has nothing to do with it."

Well, that was seen through in record time. "Not ten minutes ago you were telling me how you singlehandedly beat Satori, Sumireko, Reisen, and Marisa, at the same time. You can't possibly be worried she'll overpower you."

"And if unsealing Satori is unacceptable?"

Damn. You glance back at your friend, who's been watching the discussion with her own poker face. "In that case... it'll take longer, but the obvious choice is to send someone out to the human village. See what their stories about vampires are, and in particular if anything new has somehow come through from earth."

Sakuya regards you for a minute, then nods, and turns to the mage. "Miss Patchouli, are any of his claims false?"

The mage glares at you, and you can feel your heart skip a beat, but she sighs. "Hard to say. It's all plausible at least."

"Very well then. I believe his suggestions sensible, milady. What is your decision?"

The vampire blinks, looking over at the mage. "Patchy can turn the seal on and off, right?"

"Yes. The process is not instant, but it is simpler than most spellcards."

The vampire visibly thinks before swinging her fist downwards, and the complete lack of a table means it doesn't hit anything. She's disconcerted for a moment, then shakes it off and swings the fist into her palm instead. "Fine. Do it, then go get Meiling, and have her figure out the human village thing. Sakuya, get the parasol. We're going to visit my sister now."

You let out a breath you didn't realize you'd been holding. That went better than you'd expected, but you need a lot more to go right. You have a little time before you'll need to focus on Remilia, what next?

[-] Focus on these bindings. See if you can figure out how they work, and if there's any way for you or Satori to somehow circumvent them.
[-] Focus on the dynamics of your captors. This won't be the only time you need to talk your way out of a tight spot, and if you can metaphorically get in their heads, that'll only help in the future.
[-] Focus on the urban legend problem. You'll need to have some results to satisfy your captors, so you should really get a head start on that.

--ALSO--

[-] While her mind-reading is in play, is there anything in particular you want Satori to try and figure out? And for that matter, is there anything in particular you want to non-verbally tell her?
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[x] Focus on the urban legend

Seems it's best to comply for now, make them think you're a good boy before you can get the opportunity to get out in the occasion that you can't help after all.

[x] If things go bad and we'd need to escape, where could we go to?

A plan B in case of failure, there's no garantee that they'll let Greg and Satori go regardless of win or failure.
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[x] Focus on the urban legend problem. You'll need to have some results to satisfy your captors, so you should really get a head start on that.
-[x] Observe Remilia carefully when we see her. Chupacabras, famous blood-sucking creatures are said to look differently, but their distinctive feature is a row of spikes on their back and a lack of fur.

[x] While her mind-reading is in play, is there anything in particular you want Satori to try and figure out? And for that matter, is there anything in particular you want to non-verbally tell her?
-[x] Tell Satori to check if Remilia feels intense greed and/or hunger when she meets her. Those are symptoms of a Wendigo possession.
-[x] Tell Satori to keep calm, put on a poker face and observe the situation. There might be a way out and we need to see it before they decide to get rid of us, not after.

Play doctor, then play doctor well. But look out for an escape route.
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>Focus on these bindings. See if you can figure out how they work, and if there's any way for you or Satori to somehow circumvent them.
Has the potential of getting good intel on captors thanks to Satori and creating opportunities to flee at the risk of really falling out with the crew if caught.

>Focus on the dynamics of your captors. This won't be the only time you need to talk your way out of a tight spot, and if you can metaphorically get in their heads, that'll only help in the future.
Won't move things along much in any direction, but stalling for time may be what Greg needs to do.

>Focus on the urban legend problem. You'll need to have some results to satisfy your captors, so you should really get a head start on that.
Figuring Remilia's UL out may help figuring out what to do about Koishi later on.
I don't know what'll happen should he actually figure out, for a lack of a better word, a cure for Remilia. He sure as shit won't be let off scot-free. He could be delivered off as a gesture of appeasement or he could be kept to get Remilia an UL that actually favored her and/or used as bargaining chip in Gensokian youkai politics.
No idea what they'd do with Satori.

So...
[x] Focus on the bindings.
--ALSO--
Tell Satori...
[x] your plan.
[x] to look into the binding process.
[x] to figure out what they have in mind should Remilia's condition improve.

I'm figuring being of a focused mind will be a sort of comfort.



Dude's nailing his speech checks, holy shit. I wonder how far he could have bullshit his way through if the first person he met wouldn't have been the only one who can tell his bluffs indiscriminately.
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[x] Focus on the urban legend problem. You'll need to have some results to satisfy your captors, so you should really get a head start on that.
-[x] Observe Remilia carefully when we see her. Chupacabras, famous blood-sucking creatures are said to look differently, but their distinctive feature is a row of spikes on their back and a lack of fur.

[x] While her mind-reading is in play, is there anything in particular you want Satori to try and figure out? And for that matter, is there anything in particular you want to non-verbally tell her?
-[x] Tell Satori to check if Remilia feels intense greed and/or hunger when she meets her. Those are symptoms of a Wendigo possession.
-[x] Tell Satori to keep calm, put on a poker face and observe the situation. There might be a way out and we need to see it before they decide to get rid of us, not after.

I approve of this plan. We need to both figure out what's wrong with Remilia (so they don't try to kill us) and also figure out a way to escape (so they cant kill us once they don't need us). I also had an idea of a... slightly gruesome way to beat Sakuya. It would be to cause a very sudden, very large wound (IDK how) so that if she freezes everything except herself, she'll bleed out quickly. If she can freeze the area which is injured, then if we hit her in the thigh she still wont be able to move much at all. This is also disregarding the possibility that she cant use her ability while in great pain. This would be an extreme measure to take though, only to be used if it seems like they're going to kill us immediately.
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[X] Focus on the urban legend problem. You'll need to have some results to satisfy your captors, so you should really get a head start on that.

[x] While her mind-reading is in play, is there anything in particular you want Satori to try and figure out? And for that matter, is there anything in particular you want to non-verbally tell her?
-[X] Give her a thumbs-up
-[X] What ever the other anons are saying

>>203302
Orz. That went better than I thought it would. My bad

>>203307
The man is a stage magician. Still, the balls on him tho.

>>203308
Surprisingly, with our illusions, we might actually be more of a match against Sakuya than we think. The only problem would be the lack of spellcards and the ridiculous mind game we would have to play to outsmart her. That and we still have to go through an actual magician and a very pissed vampire after.
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>>203309 could we really outsmart her? I mean she has literally all the time in the world to figure our plan out. Doesn't mean I think my brute force plan would work though.
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>>203308
>defeating Sakuya
I'm of the mind of not thinking too much of that but if we were to go for that crapshoot, let's take cues from Reisen
>Reimu tricked her into a binding and hit her while she was trapped
>Marisa managed to seal off an entire hallway and blew the whole thing up

Both lured Sakuya into a trap she couldn't get herself out from, regardless of the amount of time she had.

Greg's current kit hardly allows for a similar feat, him missing seals and firepower. Also, I think the pyramid bracelet is still in Sumireko's possession. His is『A Kind of Magic』that requires careful planning and intrigue, gentility and suggestion.
Sakuya's the only one who's perfectly aware of the Mansion's layout since she's the one who expands its size with her time manipulation.
Her weakness lies in that familiarity.
To craft a convincing and subtle enough world of illusion (with the help of enchantments and mental magics) to keep Sakuya second guessing, keep her going in circles repeatedly, permanently. A tremendous task (and that's just to immobilise her), still one I see being more plausible than somehow giving her a gashing, debilitating wound.
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To be fair when I said would a knife in an artery would probably suffice, you're not staying standing for long with blood rushing out of you, nor was I suggesting that we try to do something like that, just was thinking of it as a last resort if all other methods were to fail, as she seems to be perfectly willing to apply deadly force. But yeah, your idea is better if we can set it up properly.
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>>203311
Ah, but for you see, this is only if she figures out the plan in the first place.

Jokes aside, Greg's kit does have a chance since Sakuya's power doesn't actually nullify/counters his by default and anyone that does has a fair chance to be bamboozled by illusions.

>>203312 makes a good point. No easy task but still possible unless we can somehow outwit her using a more manageable illusion output
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Greg is an illusionist. He makes illusions. That one time we had Reisen break them, not Sakuya. Patchouli can contest them with her spells and "maybe" see where we are by observing where is no air inside the mansion, but that's only if we're near her. That's it. So if we get both of our seals off, veil and just jump out the nearest window and leave, we win, so there is no need to overthink it.

As for actually defeating Sakuya, we only need to trick her with illusions when there are no people around that can interfere with them. There is no need to create an entire world of illusion when we can simply misdirect - that is where our strength is. Regardless, that is simply too far out ahead to think about.
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>>203315
>So if we get both of our seals off, veil and just jump out the nearest window and leave, we win, so there is no need to overthink it.

Meiling can still detect us on Mansion grounds due to her Qi-ability. If Sakuya isn't incapacitated at the time it effectively means infinite searching time, making a veil merely a nuisance all in all.
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>>203316
>Meiling can still detect us on Mansion grounds due to her Qi-ability.
Detect, sure, react, I'd wager no.
>If Sakuya isn't incapacitated at the time it effectively means infinite searching time, making a veil merely a nuisance all in all.
Her time for searching isn't infinite, just a lot more extended. Human brain can only remain awake for so long and keeping up sorcery while asleep is likely not possible - and that's the hard limit. The soft limit is how much time she can keep the world still - and none of us know that right now. If you give up and say "she can stop time forever she wins no matter what!!!!", then there would have been no battle scene earlier, she would just stop time and win. Limits to stopping time exist, therefore it's possible to abuse them and win.

However, again, it's really stupid to try to reason all this out while we're under lock, key and shackle. We can't even fight right now. It's best to think of what Remilia's UL is instead. If it's, say, not Chupacabra or a Wendigo, then what could it possibly be?
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>>203317
>Limits to stopping time exist, therefore it's possible to abuse them and win.
>However, again, it's really stupid to try to reason all this out while we're under lock, key and shackle
Agreed. Still enjoy bouncing ideas around and getting in on a back-and-forth.
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Unfortunately, I've fallen sick. It's not too bad, but update may be delayed for a few days, depending on how I feel going forwards.

Though I'm really enjoying the discussion regardless.
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Hope you get better soon m8. Don't be afraid to take a break when you need one.
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Get well soon Soul. We will be waiting warmly.
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[x] Focus on the urban legend problem. You'll need to have some results to satisfy your captors, so you should really get a head start on that.

For all your captors' apparent haste, it seems there's still some delays in getting things ready. Flandre is practically bouncing up and down with impatience, as you can see Sakuya flying up above, talking to the blue-haired girl on the floating rock. Is she another servant of the vampire?

"No," Satori said, offering you a quick head shake. "Tenshi is a celestial, and is known for being proud, spoiled, and powerful, in that order. I have no idea how they got her to cooperate."

It takes you a second to realize what just happened. Satori, are you back to normal?

"Yes. It's... well, I won't say pleasant," she shoots a meaningful glance at Flandre nearby and Sakuya in the distance, "but it's better than the alternative."

That's a relief. Although you're worried that you didn't even sense the binding being removed. Bindings are usually pretty showy things whenever they're applied or removed, so if this one can go on and off without fanfare, that implies that they're actually well crafted.

Satori gives you a grim nod. "That tracks. Patchouli is actually more skilled than her reputation would suggest, but is largely held back by health problems."

"Either talk out loud, or shut up!" Flandre yells, stomping a foot. "It's annoying!"

This is typically where you'd expect Satori to make a dry comment about Flandre's anger stemming from her fears and insecurities, but under the circumstances... A corner of her mouth curves upwards, but she nudges you. Yeah, better not to provoke the less-than-stable vampire. Well, there are more important things to talk about. And you can always aim for that one dialogue, two conversations trick. You've seen Satori pull it off in the past.

"So, do you have any idea of what to expect? With Remilia, I mean." With Koishi, you mean.

Satori looks thoughtful for a minute. "Not really, I haven't been able to pick up anything useful. Though I can't imagine she'd have let this happen if she had any idea what was going on."

As your friend speaks, you catch sight of her third eye - the paper binding is still around the eye, but has receded enough for the eye to actually see out. It makes intuitive sense, and while you're certain that's not how the binding functions, it's another sign that significant thought was put into it. Which means Patchouli really is good - significantly better than you, or they'd planned to capture you and Satori for some time now.

Neither prospect was particularly appealing, but you can't afford to focus on that right now. You had to figure out what you could about Remilia's urban legend before your captors called your bluff. You see Satori's eyes widen a bit at that, and shrug. "I'd have thought that went without saying. I guess urban legends are trickier than anyone thought."

"Obviously." Flandre grumbled. "Else we wouldn't need you."

That raises the very astute question of what will happen when they no longer need you, to which Satori does not offer a reply, but shifts in place slightly.

"Do you have any theories about Remilia's urban legend?" Satori asks.

You're surprised Satori didn't realize you were bluffing right off the bat. You suppose it's the first time she's actually seen you do it (at least anywhere near that extent), and she was without the benefit of mind-reading at the time. But yes, if you were that confident in manipulating urban legends, you'd have told her about it up front. But you don't think honest uncertainty would have played well here, so you were doing your best to sound like an expert without actually being one. (Listening to teachers blather in school has given you a lot of first-hand experience of that phenomenon.)

"Yes, but the problem is that there's too many of them. Vampires are one of those things that are known all over the globe, and pretty much every single country has their own twist on them."

Of course, just by Flandre walking outside, during daytime, with nothing more than cloud cover and a parasol, she's defying something like two thirds of that 'lore'. It's also possible the urban legend has nothing to do with vampires and it's just driving Remilia insane in a different way.

"Yeah, yeah, my sister's very famous, descendent of Vlad Tepes and all that. If there's so many possibilities, how are you going to actually fix her?"

Time to make a long answer that boils down to 'do lots of research.' You make eye contact with the small vampire. "Figure out a list of Remilia's symptoms, compille a list of urban legends circulating in the human village, and basically cross-check until we've figured out which ones fit. Of course, if Satori's mind-reading finds a smoking gun, that could shortcut the process, but who knows if we'll be that lucky."

"You sound like Patchy with a project," Flandre grumbles, but doesn't pursue it further.

Phew. You wait tensely for a minute or so, but nobody says anything else, and you honestly need a break from managing the vampire's expectations, so you turn your mind to the problem at hand. Namely, urban legends, and how to get rid of one.

First, a quick review of what you know. Urban legends are the result of magical bleed-off from the occult balls. Basically, the surplus magic from the occult balls (not to mention all the ambient magic in Gensokyo) has to go somewhere, and magic likes stories. At the end of the day, an urban legend is just a story that took root in the public consciousness, so there's a lot of imagination and often times emotion behind them. Not very serious emotion, granted, but it's the same general mechanism for how gods and youkai are empowered by humanity's belief and fear. At the end of the day, the fear involved with people telling stories about oni, and the reactions from some spooky urban legend were very similar things.

That's an interesting point because youkai can change over time. It's more noticeable with gods, given that they take power directly from their believers, but when enough people believe a god has a specific power, they more or less do. These beliefs can change over time, due to specific events or frequently due to a slow change in culture, and often times the god will as well... though most never quite lose contact with their roots; the old stories still get told, just less frequently than the new ones.

And in particular, if people stop believing in gods or youkai, they fade away. Which leads to the potential followup - if you can somehow change or erase the actual story being told, the effects of the urban legend should disappear. Except once a piece of information becomes popular, you can't just make it disappear. Trying to suppress a story is downright counterproductive; people become curious about what you're hiding, and it spreads like wildfire. Changing the story seems more workable, but it still seems like a more long-term endeavor, and you doubt your captors will have the patience for that.

It's a pity Remilia's not human. The one thing you're pretty sure would destroy an urban legend would be using a modified sealing circle to cut the person off from magic entirely. It would take some time for the magic that's already attached to fade, but an urban legend without magic is just a story, nothing more. The problem is, a vampire without magic is just a corpse, which makes that suggestion just an elaborate form of suicide.

Anyway, these urban legends then attached themselves to various figures; some human, some youkai. The power and impact seems to vary a lot; Koishi's thing with Mary seemed more like a gimmick than anything serious, while Nitori's "Nessie" proved effective in her fight against Satori, and Remilia's sounds downright terrifying. Regardless, the key point seems to be that the urban legend fits the recipient somehow. To the point where when Nitori faked the whole thing with Nessie, she ended up receiving the real version of the urban legend later on. Which is an important point; starting an urban legend and acting it out could be a viable method to actually receive one.

Which in turn raises the question of whether the urban legend would migrate if there was a more fitting recipient. Hm. Theoretically, it makes sense, but there's some obvious practical difficulties there. The thing is, assuming the urban legend goes to whoever is most fitting (which you're not certain of, but feels like a decent assumption), actually receiving the urban legend would only make them fit it better, especially in cases like Remilia's where the story is strong enough to change the youkai's behavior.

Also, there's the not-so-minor point that even if you could pull it off, whoever else gets stuck with Remilia's urban legend would probably end up with the same going-insane problem. Which your captors might consider acceptable collateral damage, but you would not... not to mention by far the most likely substitute would be Flandre herself, which

In the end, you really hope there's some specific trick to Remilia's urban legend. None of the tactics for dealing with urban legends in general look all that reliable.

[-] To be continued.

((A bit of an info-dump on urban legends there at the end, but eh.))
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>>203323
>not to mention by far the most likely substitute would be Flandre herself, which
Which what?
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Which means I need to edit more carefully, apparently.

>>203324

>not to mention by far the most likely substitute would be Flandre herself, which she would have a pretty obvious problem with.
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Thanks for the update Soul! For what its worth, I think we needed that info-dump. We cant figure out how to solve the problem without any knowledge of how the problem works now can we?
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Ayy, thanks for the update Soul. And the useful info-dump summary, very useful insights in there. Still not stopping me from rereading the whole story again tho.
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Ayo, is there a possibility of setting up a telepathic link with Sumireko (whenever our magic binding is released) or is the reception (so to speak) contingent on distance?
Also I wonder if both people have to be magicians for a link to be set up... You don't have to be a mind reader to know what I'm thinking about here.
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[-] Onwards to the mansion itself.

Your increasingly depressing brainstorming session is interrupted by a voice from just behind your ear.

"Well, shall we get going then?"

You whirl around, catch a glimpse of something in your peripheral vision, and see Sakuya... standing a good ten feet away, giving you a polite smile while Flandre giggles.

You grit your teeth and smile back. This passive-aggressive crap was way more tolerable when it was your allies doing it, and it still got on your nerves then. Not that there's any point in calling her on it, you can't do anything, and everyone here knows it, so there's no reason to draw attention to it, but still...

Wait, what was the point of that? A small bit of pettiness just to annoy you? Or maybe something to amuse Flandre, take her mind off of things? Or is it just force of habit, with the maid showing off her time-stopping the way Sumireko parades her magic around?

You're not actually sure. Sakuya is damned hard to get a read on, which makes her hard to predict. Even aside from the point that someone who can stop time could change their mind about things completely in an eye-blink.

"If you're finished showing off," Satori addressed the maid, "you should unseal Greg before we enter the mansion."

Sakuya's levity was gone in an instant. "Unacceptable."

Satori gave her a piercing look. "You know Remilia's dangerous. It's why Flandre's out and about, it's half the reason you unsealed me, and it's the only reason you're willing to deal with Tenshi at all. Without his magic, Greg is merely a baseline human. And you need him to help Remilia."

"He is also an illusionist with reason to hate us. His skills will not be useful against Remilia, but could be dangerous if he attempts to sabotage us."

"Greg would never do that."

"Whether he would or would not is irrelevant, as he will not have the chance." The maid makes a sharp gesture, and Satori remains silent.

You appreciate the attempt, but you're not surprised at the outcome. While you wouldn't try to kill them, you'd at least be on the lookout for escape opportunities, and Sakuya seems relentlessly practical. You're not sure if it would work, but if she and the vampire were distracted enough, you could probably at least get you and Satori under a veil and outside before Sakuya realized, and the circle of harsh sunlight outside the mansion could very well cut off Flandre... at which point you'd at least have a chance. A slim one, perhaps, but enough that you're not surprised the maid would prevent the attempt.

"Are his illusions actually good?" Flandre asked, passing the parasol off to her maid.

Sakuya held it for the vampire, maintaining its position to keep her in the shade. "Good enough to escape from Marisa on their first encounter, and separate her from her mini-hakkero on the second." Seeing the vampire looked blank, Sakuya added, "The tool she uses for her master spark."

"Is he strong?"

"Not by himself. In a pure spellcard duel, he would lose to Meiling. But..."

Sakuya pauses, as if prompting an answer, and Flandre rolls her eyes. "I know how tactics work. I just don't need them."

"Haven't needed them yet."

"Show me something I can't destroy, and I'll throw tactics at it."

"Just remember we need him alive."

"Which is why I'd only destroy part of him," she says far too cheerfully. "I was thinking an ankle and a kneecap."

Sakuya sighs, and you take the chance to interrupt. "Can we get back to the part where this is extremely dangerous?"

"You know how the Scarlet sisters have a stable one and a dangerously insane one? That's kept locked in the basement so nobody dies?" Flandre keeps a far too cheerful smile as she stares you down. "Well, my sister and I swapped for the day."

Satori looks back and forth between them and sighs. "They expect Remilia to ambush us at some point inside the mansion."

"Indeed," Sakuya said. "Lady Flandre and I will keep milady at bay, but I suggest you come up with your diagnosis quickly."

And as the vampire leads the way towards the mansion, you're given no choice but to follow.

[-] Continue with Greg's perspective.
[-] Continue with Satori's perspective.

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

A meta choice this time. With the current circumstances, it makes no sense for the SDM crew to allow Greg access to his magic, but that also means he has very little agency at the moment. Would you rather stick with his PoV regardless, or switch to Satori for a bit more action as we get into the mansion?

Although, to be honest, I might switch back to Sumireko for a bit while I figure out what I'm doing with this end of the plot. We'll see how writing goes.
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[x] Continue with Greg's perspective.

If we REALLY wanted to leg it, we could score a technical foul by intentionally injuring ourselves during the encounter and spraying some blood on our captors - a small wound is even better. Sharks in the ocean like blood, after all. I don't think it's worth it though. We can get some valuable insights if we stick to the railroad - mostly because Remilia's fate hax shouldn't have stopped working.
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[-] Continue with Satori's perspective.
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[X] Continue with Satori's perspective.

Would be interesting for a change.
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[X] Continue with Satori's perspective.
I very much want to see this.
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[X] Continue with Satori's perspective.

Would be quite interesting to see her thoughts on everything that happened.
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[X] Continue with Satori's perspective.

It's always interesting watching for the contradictions between peoples' thoughts and their words. Sometimes entertaining, frequently depressing, but always informative. Because while there's a wide range of reasons for people to lie, from the inane to well-meaning to downright malicious, one thing that doesn't change is that thoughts are more honest than words. Even when they're trying to lie to themselves, some part of their mind recognizes what they're doing, and from an outside perspective, the truth is obvious.

Words, on the other hand... they're twisted, routinely. There's a phrase I once heard, though I don't remember where: 'With no more dishonesty than comes naturally to a human.' And that is an excellent summary of the average person's speech. It may still be within a stone's throw of the truth, but it's twisted. Not blatantly enough for their listeners to call on it, but it'll be altered to put them in a better light. Like when family members claim they hadn't visited because they were too busy, and both sides ignore the clear evidence that the relationship just wasn't important enough to bother.

It's one reason I reacted poorly when my ability to read minds was disabled, earlier. When you know most of what's spoken is a lie, and you know you're surrounded by enemies, being cut off from the truth is nerve-wracking. I'm aware there's other ways to figure out when people are lying, most notably through their body language, but that's not a skill I've ever needed to develop. I've been told (by Patchouli, in fact), that I rely too much on my ability. And with what's just happened, I can't deny it. But before today, I never expected to be without it. (And while the more morbid parts of my mind had imagined the scenario, I never expected to be able to care.)

Regardless, reading the minds currently available hadn't revealed as much as I would have hoped. It was clear that Sakuya had anticipated that we'd need to visit Remilia, and that my mind-reading abilities would be useful. (I didn't even need mind-reading to know that much; she gave in too readily, and Patchouli was already prepared to temporarily disable the binding.) In particular, she'd managed the situation such that neither her mind nor Flandre's would yield useful information. Sakuya's because of her discipline (Greg was significantly better than average at keeping his thoughts in order, at least when Koishi wasn't teasing him, but Sakuya put him to shame), and Flandre's because she didn't actually know relevant details. It is both novel and incredibly frustrating to have my mind-reading so thoroughly outmaneuvered by someone aside from my sister.

But with the four of us heading towards the mansion and what was sure to be an intense situation, Greg and I really did need all the information we could get. And the first step to getting information was asking the right questions. "Sakuya, what should we expect within the mansion?"

There was a small glimpse of a memory, of her throwing knives behind her as she flew through the mansion's halls, but she shook it off immediately. "Remilia's location within the mansion is unknown. Every time someone has entered the mansion, she has stalked and attempted to ambush them, with each confrontation occurring in a different area."

That would explain why the damage was so widespread.

"Most of the fairy maids have elected to stay inside," Sakuya continued, "as Remilia has shown little interest in them. While they are not particularly observant, they can give us Remilia's general location. From there, my ability should be able to pinpoint my mistress before she can set up an ambush."

After a moment's pause, I realized what was missing. There was no mention of using my ability to find Remilia. Did Sakuya not know? "Are you certain that will be enough?" I asked. "She's successfully ambushed you before."

Sakuya's face and tone remained impassive, but I caught the flash of irritation there... and more importantly, nothing about using my third eye to find the vampire. "Milady's speed and cunning caught me off guard. I had not expected her to retain that level of strategy after being afflicted by her urban legend. I will exercise extreme caution."

I can't quite get the details out of Sakuya... but Flandre's another matter. She's actually keeping up her own poker face (well, impatient scowl), but her thoughts are radiating amusement with an undercurrent of contempt. 'Extreme caution?' You were lucky Eirin was along for that visit, or I'd have had to turn you into a vampire. With a bit more focus I'm able to see just how Remilia had surprised the time-stopper; Sakuya had paused to open a door when Remilia's arm had broken through the wall to grab the maid by the throat.

"If she's that cunning, what's stopping her from escaping?" Greg asks.

I see where he's going with that, and it's a good leading question, but unfortunately, Sakuya realizes it. Her thoughts flash across several different ideas - Weather, the celestial, the barrier, Patchouli's- , then her eyes flash red and the train of thought switches tracks completely. "Milady is still a vampire, and still needs the protection of a building against sun and rain."

With the way the sun was beating down from overhead, that at least explained why Sakuya had sought out Tenshi, if not how she could stand the celestial. (Despite the far more important concerns in play, I will admit to envying Flandre for the parasol Sakuya was holding for her. It felt like midsummer, not late fall.)

Greg's next question caught pursued a completely different line of attack. "What about binding her? Could you employ a binding on Remilia like you've used on me and Satori?"

"We are not binding my sister!" Flandre snarled.

I'm glad you recognize how demeaning it is, Greg thought. His words were more diplomatic. "Wouldn't that be more dignified than constantly hunting her down in some feral youkai ambush game? It would make it easier to analyze any changes in Remilia's magic as well."

Flandre paused, and my third eye could see her indignation warring with practicality. Sakuya was more reserved, and a little non-plussed. "Remilia is not a mage."

Greg shrugged. "Her vampire essence then. Whatever the proper term is. The point is, if Patchouli can restrict it, that's already all the infrastructure you'd need to analyze it."

Interesting, but I don't think it works that way. Perhaps... Sakuya vanished for just an instant, leaving the parasol hovering in midair for the slightest moment, and was back to catch it before it even started falling. If I hadn't been already watching her, I wouldn't have seen it. "It's unfeasible. Miss Patchouli would be unable to restrict milady's essence in her current state."

Her current state? So would Patchouli have been able to do it before? What I wouldn't give for an explanation of why it wouldn't work. Hopefully Satori got something. "Ah. Have there been noticeable changes in Remilia's abilities? And for that matter, how else has she changed?"

This question was one Sakuya was already prepared for, as she didn't stop time to direct her thoughts. "She has ceased using danmaku entirely, instead using her vampiric strength and speed. To my knowledge, she has not displayed any new powers. I am unsure whether the urban legend has made her stronger-"

"It has." Flandre interrupted. "I'm still stronger, but she's harder to destroy than she would have been before."

There's a pause while everyone digests the unsettling implications before Sakuya continues. "Regardless. She is noticeably paler than before, and heals from wounds at a visible rate. We believe she would heal anything short of a fatal blow within minutes."

"But don't get any ideas," Flandre threatened. "Try anything, and I'll destroy you."

And on that cheerful note, we've arrived at the mansion's front door. Or rather, the gaping hole where the front door used to be. I looked forwards with my third eye, getting nothing but mental background noise from the fairies inside. I swallowed, my mouth dry. "Is there anything else we need to know?"

Sakuya nodded. "In her current state, Remilia's behavior resembles an ambush predator. In particular, do not show fear, or she will pursue and almost certainly catch you."

I closed my eyes (not the third one), concentrating. It was faint, but I was definitely getting something from down below... probably the basement, where Flandre had lived. I couldn't make out details at this distance, but there was a definite sense of hunger.

[-] Inform Flandre and Sakuya. If Remilia's half as dangerous now as she is normally, this is not the time to be messing around.
[-] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.
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[X] Inform Flandre and Sakuya. If Remilia's half as dangerous now as she is normally, this is not the time to be messing around.
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[X]Keep it to myself.

Let them deal with their own problems, bastards binded your mind-reading and have pretty rude so far
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[-] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.

I'm curious if this is a test as to whether Satori is trustworthy or not. Either way, I'm picking this. A small advantage, maybe.
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[X] Inform Flandre and Sakuya. If Remilia's half as dangerous now as she is normally, this is not the time to be messing around.
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[x] If binding her magic doesn’t work, what about binding her physically? Could you not just stop time, grab some really strong magically enhanced chains, and just hogtie her?

Call me a coward, but walking into the lair of an ambush predator without our magic to defend ourselves seems suicidal. Anything that will increase our chances of not dying should be explored. It would be easier to examine her if she was chained up too.

[x] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.
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[-] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.
Sakuya and Flandre can handle her. They just want us spooked. Don't give them that.
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[X] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.

Ok, to be fair, this one seems really obvious. Unless Satori can define or go into detail about what kind of hunger it is, other than the hunger for human flesh thing, than its not worth saying. Other than that, being a little petty.

So far the clues to Remilia becoming seems to be
- Something tougher than a vampire
- Still retains the hunger for human flesh
- Gone feral
- Prefers Ambushing

>In particular, do not show fear, or she will pursue and almost certainly catch you.
Wait, does this mean literally hunting via sensing fear kind with supernatural or the "not-worth-hunting" kind with wild. animals.

Also, I thing Sakuya is onto Greg.
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>>203366
Seems like a generic list of traits for the generic idea of 'a big scary unstoppable predator that hides in the dark'. A boogeyman, maybe (that'd tie into fear)? Or really just the generic idea of a man-eating predator manifested. Urban legends tend to be specific, so I'm just going to throw out Boogeyman (or some derivative)
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>>203367
Also: a tangential link at best from wikipedia
Still a shot in the dark
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[x] Inform Flandre and Sakuya. If Remilia's half as dangerous now as she is normally, this is not the time to be messing around.
Let's recognize that all that lies between Remilia and Walking stealth skill (stealth skill disabled) plus Mind reader (gets whooped by her sister all the time) are these two. If they lose, it's NOT fine, we can't cloak and evade anymore, we kinda die.
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>>203369
Agreed. Flandre's thoughts seem to indicate that the SDM crew are in over their heads and somewhat desperate. While this does mean there is a potential to pull a fast one on them, I'd rather not try it when there's a decent chance of it backfiring and killing us.

[x] Inform Flandre and Sakuya. If Remilia's half as dangerous now as she is normally, this is not the time to be messing around.
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[X] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.

Might as well keep the extent of her power secret.
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[X] Keep it to myself. They've done this before, and if they're not aware of it, there's no reason for me to volunteer information about my abilities.

In the end, I decide not to tell them. It's not like me to hide things. But I think Greg has the right idea. While I have no idea how detecting minds at range would prove useful against Sakuya, with a situation this desperate, any advantage is worth holding on to.

Besides, every moment we spend in the ruined mansion is another chance to learn, whether we're looking for answers regarding Remilia's urban legend, or cracks in the prison surrounding us. And I can tell we'd leave as soon as we've examined the vampire; Flandre is already looking forwards to being back outside.

And maybe, just maybe, I want my third eye to stay free for just a little longer. It's selfish of me, I know. But in a situation like this, I have few comforts, and the sensation of a familiar mind beside me is one.

This doesn't mean I'm blind to danger of the situation. My third eye keeps stealing glances towards the floor, towards that hunger on the edge of my range. There's something weird about it, but I can't place it, and I'm not sure I could describe it if I could. Assuming this is the same thing that drove Remilia mad, it can't just be a need for blood. Sakuya would have never let such a normal vampiric need go unfulfilled even under ordinary circumstances, let alone while her lady was suffering. It's possible something else broke her and this is just a symptom, but for me to feel it this strongly at this range, it must be overwhelming.

And so we stalked through the hallways. Sakuya in front, Flandre behind, the pair bracketing us in a peculiar cross between bodyguards and prison guards. Periodically, Sakuya would vanish, exploring through rooms and corridors in stopped time, only to come back and usher us forwards. Occasionally the fairies would get uppity and Flandre would casually blow them away. But those moments were few and far between, and the break in the tension was short-lived. Nobody spoke beyond the bare essentials, being too caught up in thought. Them in theirs, me in everyone's.

It's kind of funny, really. Having visited the Scarlet Devil Mansion before, back when I was investigating that vengeful spirit... the people holding me prisoner are ones I actually know. Not well, not really, but better than I know most people above ground. But looking at their reactions now, I don't think I know them at all.

Sakuya's mask is cracking. I wouldn't have known it without my ability, but that elegant, flawless, unflappable demeanor... I can see the seams. Her thoughts are less composed, she's stopping time to compose herself more frequently, and there's an undercurrent of fear that never really leaves her. And as we pass through the dining room, with the dinner table broken in two, the chandelier driven up through the ceiling, her control slips and I realize it's not just the proximity to Remilia. The mansion has literally been torn apart before her eyes. Sakuya's life, her very sense of purpose, she's tied it to serving the Scarlet Devil Mansion as a whole and Remilia in particular. And right now, both are on the verge of breaking.

Flandre... She looks like a chlid. She acts like a spoiled child. And yet, for all the fits she's thrown and all the threats she's made, it's always felt more like irritation than genuine anger. But now that we're here, now that there's real danger, she's blank. Terrifyingly so. It reminds me of Koishi, those moments when she reminds everyone that despite her innocent behavior, she's a powerful youkai. And in retrospect... how much of her behavior before was an act?

With or without danmaku, both of them are extremely dangerous, even by Gensokyo's standards. And yet, with a few choice words, I could hurt them. Not that it would help me, but Sakuya would go cold and merciless, Flandre would blow her top... or would it be the reverse? Regardless, right now, despite all their power, they're vulnerable. They know it. I see it. And if they remember anything about what I am, they know I see it.

I knew Remilia was the mansion's head. I didn't realize she was the mansion's heart.

Greg hasn't noticed. He's preoccupied, his mind racing through various urban legends as he scans the shadows, looking for any sign of the afflicted vampire. And I can't tell him. It's debatable whether it would be stockholm syndrome or just his natural tendencies, but he'd want to help. For real, not just buying time to save our lives. It's what he does. But he can't take any more burdens. I don't think he's strong enough for the ones I've already given him.

We pause at Remilia's bedroom, which, aside from a couple holes in the floor, is mostly intact. Sakuya vanishes to explore again, while Flandre simply waits, her hand gripping the doorframe. Greg picks up a picture that had fallen to the floor, looking at it. It's a modern version at odds with the old-fashioned decor, showing Flandre with an intense look of concentration, building a house of cards on top of a sleeping Meiling. Greg turns it over and I realized the other side has a picture too, this one of Flandre laughing as Meiling flees from knife danmaku.

I grab his shoulder and whisper. "Greg. No matter what happens, none of this was your fault."

He shakes his shoulders in a silent, mirthless laugh. Isn't it? It's my incident.

"Don't pretend you had the slightest inkling any of this would happen."

Greg's still staring at the photo. Do you think that matters to them?

Yes. If they thought he meant to hurt Remilia, he'd already be dead. But I know that's not what's bothering the idiot. And given who's nearby, I can't even make the argument that Remilia's at fault for getting such a malicious urban legend. So I squeeze his shoulder, uncomfortably aware that it's not enough, and that Flandre's watching us with an unblinking stare.

So Sakuya was right. He's not as heartless as that witch.

I'd forgotten, psychological analysis went both ways. It couldn't be a coincidence that we had a long pause just as Greg found that picture. I needed to give him something else to focus on. "How do you think Sumireko's doing?"

Flandre's gaze becomes noticeably more intense and Greg looked at me in alarm. Why would you bring her up in front of them?

"Come to think of it, I've actually got no idea what she'd be doing. There's too many possibilities." My tone went dry. "Probably recruiting allies through the power of friendship."

Flandre snorts at that, and Greg felt compelled to defend his friend. "She's not that bad." Satori, what are you doing?!

I gave him a smile I didn't feel. "Listen, Greg. She'll be fine. Gensokyo practically runs on the power of violence, and Sumireko's pretty good at it herself."

Greg was non-plussed, but that was okay. Confusion was better than depression here, and it would sound to Flandre like Greg was worried about his friend. Which, to be fair, he is, but he wasn't thinking about it before I brought her up.

Funnily enough, Sakuya came back shortly afterwards. I'm sure there's a perfectly non-suspicious explanation for that, though the maid's mind offered no clue either way.

Whether it was coincidence or something darker, the place Remilia was hiding was literally the last place we looked. But even still, it wasn't long before we started descending back towards the mansion's bottom. The sensation of hunger returned, and as we continued down the stairs to the basement, I finally started getting more detail.

It was like sensing an animal's mind. Rational thought wasn't present, being completely overruled by instinct and that sense of hunger. In some ways that was worse than a thinking monster. In some ways it was easier. Her senses were intense; I don't usually get anything beyond thoughts, but as I focused I could practically feel the floor she was stalking across, pacing in front of a vault-like room beyond.

Sakuya vanished and reappeared one last time, looking grim and tapping Flandre's shoulder.

The maid's voice was barely a whisper. To the point where I heard Sakuya subvocalizing more than I heard her actual voice. "She's here. Right outside your room."

And the moment Sakuya spoke, the perspective I got from Remilia spun dizzyingly as she took flight.

"Remilia knows! She's coming!"

There was a spike of pain and intense strain from the vampire and a shriek of tearing metal. Sakuya flickered and tackled Greg to the ground, right before the vault door was hurled through the wall.

It didn't hit us, due to coming out of the wall about a dozen feet behind us. That didn't prevent it from skipping across the ground, shattering a paving stone, tearing a chunk out of the ceiling, and ultimately colliding with the stairwell behind us. That bled off the last of its momentum, at the cost of absolutely obliterating one side of the stairs and blocking off most of the other.

My ears ringing and my heart pounding, I glanced at where the vault door had come from and got a wave of satisfaction through the hunger. And abruptly, I realized that the feral youkai comparison was underestimating Remilia... or rather, whatever was controlling her. The miss was intentional, and that implied strategy. And if that was strategic... I looked at the damage to the stairway, looked at the still shaking ceiling, and went pale.

Too much damage. As Flandre charged through the hole and Sakuya summoned wave upon wave of knives, I grabbed Greg and flew away from the stairwell. Thankfully the Scarlet Devil Mansion was extremely well built.

It gave us time to get clear before the ceiling collapsed. Just barely.

After a terrifying moment from being blindsided by some rubble, we went from flying to falling, and I managed to turn it into a tumble into what looked like a wine cellar. Greg coughed from under me, trying to push me off. Satori-

"Stay here!" I yelled, jumping to my feet and looking back at the chaos. But what exactly should I do?

[-] I need to stay out of the way and be prepared to defend. I'm outclassed in this fight.
[-] I should focus on area denial. Shutting off part of the basement from Remilia is a safe way to contribute, and should give Greg a safer place to wait.
[-] With the thoughts around me, I can summon spellcards that imitate a number of vampire weaknesses. That should overcome the power difference, and could yield useful information for solving Remilia's urban legend.
[-] If I trap Remilia in a survival spellcard, that should give Sakuya and Flandre time to regroup.
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[x] I should focus on area denial. Shutting off part of the basement from Remilia is a safe way to contribute, and should give Greg a safer place to wait.
-[x] Use something fire-themed if possible.

>>203372
>Assuming this is the same thing that drove Remilia mad, it can't just be a need for blood. Sakuya would have never let such a normal vampiric need go unfulfilled even under ordinary circumstances, let alone while her lady was suffering. It's possible something else broke her and this is just a symptom, but for me to feel it this strongly at this range, it must be overwhelming.

>According to the legends, a Wendigo is created whenever a human resorts to cannibalism to survive. In the past, this occurred more often when Indians and settlers found themselves stranded in the bitter snows and ice of the north woods. Sometimes stranded for days, any survivors might have felt compelled to cannibalize the dead to survive. Other versions of the legend cite that humans who displayed extreme greed, gluttony, and excess might also be possessed by a Wendigo. Thus the myth served as a method of encouraging cooperation and moderation.

>The legend lends its name to the disputed modern medical term Wendigo psychosis. Some psychiatrists consider it a syndrome that creates an intense craving for human flesh and a fear of becoming a cannibal. Ironically, this psychosis occurs within people living around the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States. Wendigo psychosis usually develops in the winter in individuals who are isolated by heavy snow for long periods. The initial symptoms are poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Subsequently, the individual develops a delusion of being transformed into a Wendigo monster. People who have Wendigo psychosis increasingly see others around them a being edible. At the same time, they have an exaggerated fear of becoming cannibals.

>Native American versions of the creature spoke of a gigantic spirit over fifteen feet tall that had once been human but had been transformed into a creature by magic. Though all of the descriptions of the creature vary slightly, the Wendigo is generally said to have glowing eyes, long yellowed fangs, terrible claws, and overly long tongues. Sometimes they are described as having sallow, yellowish skin, and other times, they are covered with matted hair. The creature is said to have several skills and powers, including stealth, is a near-perfect hunter, knows and uses every inch of its territory, and can control the weather through dark magic. They are also portrayed as simultaneously gluttonous and emaciated from starvation.

Other than the skin color and not being supersized (from eating people), Wendigo possession fits. If it was a chupacabra, Sakuya would tell us something, anything about the spikes thing - and there'd be no reason for her to think like a predator since that's her home. Remilia's weaknesses are exaggerated because her weaknesses to silver weaponry and fire (ostensibly sunlight) are shared with Wendigo's. Wendigo's weaknesses are supposedly fire and it's frozen heart - though the latter's not going to be that useful. Maybe get Patchy to act on the former - or try to use an appropriate recollection?
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[x] I should focus on area denial. Shutting off part of the basement from Remilia is a safe way to contribute, and should give Greg a safer place to wait.
-[x] Use something fire-themed if possible.

Props to the guy above me, he did his research. As far as I can tell, it lines up quite well.
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>>203372
[x] I should focus on area denial. Shutting off part of the basement from Remilia is a safe way to contribute, and should give Greg a safer place to wait.
-[x] Use something fire-themed if possible.
Even if it's not specifically a wendigo, 'beasts hate fire' is universal unless you're dealing with hell cats, hell ravens and general hell-creatures.

>>203373
Nice! This feels more solid than my boogeyman idea. Though it does still feel very generic as far as monsters go (Remilia's symptoms, not wendigos).
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[x] I should focus on area denial. Shutting off part of the basement from Remilia is a safe way to contribute, and should give Greg a safer place to wait.
-[x] Use something fire-themed if possible.

Greg is such a softie. Great character 👍
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[x] I should focus on area denial. Shutting off part of the basement from Remilia is a safe way to contribute, and should give Greg a safer place to wait.
-[x] Use something fire-themed if possible.

For several crucial seconds, I had no idea what was going on. The remnants of the walls, along with clouds of dust and various danmaku left me without a visual, I could barely hear anything over the ringing in my ears, and even the thoughts I could make out were next to useless. Remilia was working by instinct, Flandre was caught off guard, and Sakuya was stopping time so much I couldn't finish reading one thought before she'd switched locations and tactics completely. And then there was a curse from Flandre, a cry of pain from Sakuya, and it was Remilia who burst through the smoke towards me, her form barely a blur.

Fortunately, I'd had a little time to think about what to use.

[Recollection - Taboo: "Lavatein"]
Flandre's fire sword was slow, and unwieldy, but the point was never the swing, it was the wave of danmaku that followed it. Remilia reacted by springing up off the floor, spreading her wings, and corkscrewing over towards the side, away from the swing. The second swing got ducked over, the danmaku afterwards got flown over, and Remilia was charging in before I could bring the sword around for a third attack.

I never had a hope of matching Remilia in close quarters even without the urban legend, but a cloud of knives materialized in front of the vampire, and her momentum carried her into it. Dripping blood from dozens of cuts, she aborted the attack and drew back with a snarl.

Wait, was that actually blood? The color was pale, barely standing out against Remilia's white skin. And speaking of the devil, Remilia herself looked... monstrous, but in an uncanny, fey sense. Her skin was several shades past pale, a stark white that reminded me more of marble than of a corpse. Despite her wounds, her bloodstained and shredded dress, and her predatory behavior, if you considered just her body in isolation, she looked she belonged on a magazine cover. If my eyes weren't playing tricks on me, she even looked a couple years older than she had before.

Which made it even more uncanny to see her hunched on all fours, nails digging into the floor with her wings spread behind her. It was as if someone had combined the body of a vampire, the physique of a model, and the soul of a tiger.

Sakuya reappeared on Remilia's other side, blood dripping from her forehead as she readied more knives. She swayed a little, but her mind was clear, and I could sense Flandre getting nearer. Apparently Remilia could too, as she didn't take the bait, making another dive for me around the knives. Sakuya swore, stopped time to get closer, and cut at Remilia, but only scored a line of blood down her side, and then the vampire was on me.

This should leave a mark.

[Recollection - Fire Sign: Agni Shrine]

At point blank range, the spellcard was effectively a solid cone of fire, and it enveloped Remilia. There was a shriek from the vampire, Pain, anger, determination, and then she burst through, descending on me like a bat out of hell.

I'd miscalculated. Remilia was never weak to fire, and the urban legend wasn't either. I had time for a sudden moment of terror and the monster was on me. Remilia grabbed me by the neck and slammed me into the wall. My arms reflexively grappled for my throat, but that was useless against her strength. Breathing heavily, bombarded by the sheer animalistic fury, I reached for another spellcard and Remilia promptly delivered a haymaker to my stomach. It would have set me to coughing if not for the compression of my windpipe.

As the vampire looked me in the eyes and I felt my strength drain away, it hit me. I might die here. I could actually die here.

And then Flandre came out of nowhere with her own flying tackle. Remilia might have had the strength to hold me with one hand, but she didn't have the leverage, and her hand took a layer of skin as Flandre flew her across the room and through yet another wall.

I took the golden opportunity to collapse on the floor as the brawl between vampires moved further away. I was shaking. Why was I shaking? I'd been in danger before. This wasn't new, it shouldn't have been new. But I was shaking. Sakuya flew to my side, glaring at me.

"Pull yourself together. Greg doesn't have time for you to fall apart."

My third eye looked backwards, felt his fear, and I got up. I still felt unsteady, but I looked the maid in the eyes and coughed, trying to find my voice. "Remilia. Enhanced vampire weakness... what?"

Sakuya sighed. "When my mistress first broke containment, I was not in the mansion at the time, and she quickly overwhelmed both Patchouli and Meiling. So Koakuma took a cross off the wall and charged her. My mistress is not normally weak to religious symbols, but the cross actually burned her, and she fled from Koakuma, giving them enough time to run to Flandre."

I didn't need my third eye to know the bad news. With the amount of trouble Remilia was giving us, that kind of magic bullet would have been a first resort. "But you haven't been able to make it work again."

[Forbidden Barrage - Starbow Break]

There was a yell from Flandre, a crash from several rooms over, and a shudder from the mansion. Sakuya grimaced, and I got a brief memory of fairy maids suicide bombing the maddened vampire with various holy symbol. Then she activated her ability and vanished, rejoining the fight.

I hung back for just a little longer. Not just to catch my breath (though that was no small concern), but to figure out my next move. Koishi was always better than me at adjusting on a whim; I much preferred being able to think out my moves and all the consequences. (And yet she still beats me at chess, typically without looking at the board. Somehow.) I was scanning through both Flandre's and Sakuya's minds, looking for something that would let me lock down the basement properly; something that would be a true barrier to even a vampire without potentially injuring my... well, ally was a strong word, but enemy of my enemy fit. At least for this battle.

And after a subjective eternity, I found it. Thank goodness Sakuya had fought Tenshi recently.

[Recollection - Heaven and Earth: Land that Oversees the Distant World Below]

I stabbed danmaku into the ground, and it spread out into a grid-like pattern, segmenting the ground into squares and hardening the resulting stone columns. Then I just needed to pull... like... so... and an entire line of stone pillars rose out of the ground on either side of me, adding much needed support to the ceiling and sectioning off the wine cellar I'd left Greg in. The only hole in the newly created pillar-wall was the ground where I was standing, giving a single point of access to defend.

Then the second half of the spellcard pattern kicked in, and I fired a spray of danmaku. This didn't actually serve any purpose at all (Remilia still being out of range), but there were limits to how much I could manipulate a spellcard, and adjusting the pillars to hit ceiling height and remain at ceiling height meant that I needed the bullet pattern to be as authentic as possible.

But this was okay, because the spellcard pattern repeats. I leapt forwards, flying down the space of the hallway I was in, and repeated the process, creating a new wall of pillars and sectioning off another chunk of the basement. This brought me close enough to see the battle again. Flandre was trying to engage Remilia in a straight up fight, while Sakuya harried the vampire in Gensokyo's deadliest game of cat and mouse. Every time Remilia either broke free of Flandre or gained the upper hand, Sakuya was there. Or perhaps more to the point, a knife at high speed was there, and Sakuya was somewhere else before Remilia could react.

As I created the third line of pillars, I realized their plan. There were restraints that Flandre remembered, from long before Gensokyo, and wearing Remilia down would reduce her strength enough for the chains to hold her. The elder vampire was healing from every cut and every bruise, but that energy was finite, and they'd outlasted Remilia before. Sakuya and Flandre fought with a grim determination; not panicked, though not practiced either, but coordinated enough to maintain the advantage.

With the fourth line of pillars, I realized that Remilia's emotions didn't fit. Pain and hunger were there, as they'd been since I first noticed her, but they were less intense than before, and there was no frustration. She threw Flandre to the ground, but a punch that would have broken bone merely shattered a flagstone, and she received several cuts for her efforts. And despite all that, despite Flandre returning a kick that made the elder vampire's knee buckle, the vampire didn't feel thwarted. There was only a rising sense of anticipation.

Despite my misgivings, I advanced one more time with a fifth line of pillars, now close enough for my spellcard's bullets to threaten Remilia. And then I finally realized what the vampire was going for.

"The lights!" I yelled. "She's going to-"

The moment I started speaking, Remilia moved with blurring speed. Grabbing a piece of rock from the floor, she feinted at Flandre and flung it at me. The maid moved instantly, deflecting it off a knife, but that was merely the distraction. Remilia flew up to the ceiling, yanking out the entire chandelier and throwing that at Flandre.

Flandre, having heard me yell about lights, promptly annihilated it with a blast of danmaku. And with the sole light source eliminated, the room was plunged into darkness.

[-] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.
[-] I'm already in a defensible position, and I've got spellcards that can light this up.
[-] I should focus on mind-reading. Remilia's already shown tactical thinking; I need to see if there's anything else I can gleam.
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[X] I should focus on mind-reading. Remilia's already shown tactical thinking; I need to see if there's anything else I can gleam.

Let's see if there's still a mind to read.
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[X] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.

Mind reading seems like a waste of time, given she's been doing it for a solid few walls of text now with nothing notable to gleam besides 'im hungry' and 'pain hurts'. That said, I don't see how 'mind reading' and 'getting out of the way of the overpowered undead + time wizards' are mutually exclusive given that Satori can hardly turn it off.

----

-white blood
-extreme hunger for flesh
-cold, predatory intellect and demeanour
-stark white skin and picturesque
-looks slightly older
-weak to holy symbols (enhanced vampire weakness)
-does not give a shit about fire
Ancient aliens...?

No seriously I'll have to think about this one. The white/pale blood throws me off a lot. I mean this could just be really simple vampire^2. the modern, urban legend of vampires compounding all of Remilia's abilities and instincts. Or it could be some obscure unseelie fae bullshit, but she doesn't seem playful and malicious enough for that.

Starting to wish we scouted the human village first.

Anyone have any good ideas? My wealth of mythological trivia, google and wikipedia fail me.
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[X] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.

>>203387
Good job summarizing it. The "weak to holy symbols (enhanced vampire weakness)" refuted the Wendigo theory, but I didn't see it at the time. What a blunder.

Anyhow, to solve this riddle, an answer probably needs to satisfy a certain amount of questions. I'm going to list them out here, in no particular order.

>What possessed Remilia to obtain this Urban Legend without telling everyone precise details about it?
>What led Remilia to be quiet about it for the few days that she was turning into this?
>Why did Remilia transform into this state? What was the mechanism involved? Usually an urban legend just coexists with the recipient; what went wrong this time?
>Why did Remilia acquire vampiric weaknesses alongside several strange attributes despite not having them?

For a practical example, should you take Wendigo theory, it fails to answer the first and the fourth question. For Chupacabra theory, while the first question could be answered with "it's a surprise", the second question can't be answered properly - she'd consult with someone, anyone if she was feeling strange.

Here's a definition of urban legends and some information about them.

>a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms

The story repeatedly tells us that UL's source of power is belief from humans.

>It was like sensing an animal's mind. Rational thought wasn't present, being completely overruled by instinct and that sense of hunger.

>Wait, was that actually blood? The color was pale, barely standing out against Remilia's white skin. And speaking of the devil, Remilia herself looked... monstrous, but in an uncanny, fey sense. Her skin was several shades past pale, a stark white that reminded me more of marble than of a corpse. Despite her wounds, her bloodstained and shredded dress, and her predatory behavior, if you considered just her body in isolation, she looked she belonged on a magazine cover. If my eyes weren't playing tricks on me, she even looked a couple years older than she had before.

>Which made it even more uncanny to see her hunched on all fours, nails digging into the floor with her wings spread behind her. It was as if someone had combined the body of a vampire, the physique of a model, and the soul of a tiger.

Here's a shot in the dark - Baobhan Sith, a type of fey vampire from Scottish legend. Try to use something with iron, pure iron and see if it works - Sakuya's knives should be made of silver, after all. But then again, if we score an iron weakness, it could also mean lycanthropy...

http://pandius.com/baobhans.html - this page from a DnD setting is the only thing that I could find that supports this theory. I fucking hate it. I have no idea why Remi would get taken over by fey, of all things and why she'd keep mum about it in the first place. White blood IS a bottleneck, but magical fey bullshit is an explanation.
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[X] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.

>>203388
Weakness to iron could explain why the cross Koakuma used against her worked but all the other holy symbols they used afterwards didn't. It was likely made of iron while all the other symbols weren't.
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>>203388
at the point that we're referencing DnD, I think we've truly reached the bottom of the barrel.

>>203389
>Weakness to iron could explain why the cross Koakuma used against her worked but all the other holy symbols they used afterwards didn't. It was likely made of iron while all the other symbols weren't.
Interesting theory. Sakuya's knives are silver, according to a wiki anyway, so this could be legit.
It's a bit of a stretch but no more than any of the other weird ass theories thrown out so far.
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[X] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.
Solid idea, as well as making sure that the only person that might have an idea how to take her out alive. I hope Greg has an idea now.

Looks like Wendigo was off the menu. Damn, I knew it was too easy.


>>203387
Nice good summing it up but there's a mistake there.

>Sakuya sighed. "When my mistress first broke containment, I was not in the mansion at the time, and she quickly overwhelmed both Patchouli and Meiling. So Koakuma took a cross off the wall and charged her. My mistress is not normally weak to religious symbols, but the cross actually burned her, and she fled from Koakuma, giving them enough time to run to Flandre."

>I didn't need my third eye to know the bad news. With the amount of trouble Remilia was giving us, that kind of magic bullet would have been a first resort. "But you haven't been able to make it work again."

It's not enhanced vampire weakness. It is what the SDM crew thought before the fight. Right now, it seems that she doesn't show any of the traditional Vamp weaknesses.

But the weakness to holy symbols is correct, but I am still skeptical about that. What Koa did was either something related to the cross itself or it could be the act of what she did. Heh, imagine her having God's protection.

Or she could be adopting to her weakness, making her stronger for every fight.

>>203388
That's a good choice, the only problem would be that Baobhan Sith are capable of shapeshifting. While I have a lack of knowledge of how they fight, Remilia fighting style doesn't seem to fight it yet
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So, here's a crazy theory for you. The youkai of Gensokyo can not prey on the humans in the human village, because there are not enough edible humans to go around, so instead the youkai spread stories about themselves in the village and feed off of the fear/faith that the villagers give off from hearing those stories. Urban Legends are what you get when a bunch of people start spreading stories around about something until the idea of that something starts to solidify in the public consciousness. What if Remilia went to the human village, gathered up all of the rumors and tales the villagers were spreading about herself, and used that as her urban legend. In other words, Remilia Scarlet's urban legend is "Remila Scarlet."

In the human village, Remila is known as a terrifyingly powerful vampire who attacks and sucks out the blood of anyone she comes in contact with, which explains where her hunger and aggression are coming from. She is also known as being a pale,charismatic beauty, which is why she appears older and more picturesque. The villagers know that she is a vampire, so many of them believe that she should be weak to holy crosses, but there are also several people in the village who believe that she isn't weak to crosses, causing her weakness to religious iconography to be inconsistent. The white blood might be because she is nobility, a "blue blood" if you will, and the uneducated simpletons of the human village got confused about it.

If this theory is true, then the reason her urban legend has taken control of her is because her urban legend IS her. Since Remilia is her own urban legend, she accidentally allowed herself to be reshaped by all the nasty rumors about her. Since the youkai of Gensokyo spread rumors about themselves being scary and dangerous throughout the village, most humans in the human village believe that youkai are horrible blood thirsty maneaters, thus Remilia became exactly that. Which means we can solve this problem by going to the village and spreading rumors about Remilia being a pathetic little weakling who talks big but is really just a loser. We can do that by having the residents of the mansion go to a bar to tell a bunch of funny embarrassing stories about Remilia. Basically, we need to charisma break Remilia.

[-] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.
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>>203392
This is what I had in the back of my mind when I was thinking 'vampire^2'. Cool theory!
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>>203392
While it's a nice theory, it:
1) Doesn't help us at all at the moment.
2) Remilia Scarlet isn't, if you excuse the expression, enough of a meme to make people care about her that much. It's possible that some copies of Bram Stoker's Dracula made it to Human Village's library, from which it got as popular as it did back here. Then fiction mixed in with the truth.

That would explain pale skin and maddened thirst for blood. That would NOT explain an absence of vampiric weakness. That would also NOT explain Remi thinking like a feral youkai instead of a sophisticated noblewoman. That's why I don't think vampire^2 is correct here.

Another problem is that fighting Remi under such condition would be a mistake in itself - no weaknesses, duh. You'd have to go into human village and forcibly eliminate the vampire novel fad before facing her.
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>>203392
Nice theory, but we wouldn't know for now until Meiling comes back. If she comes back.

>>203394 makes a good point but it might be more possible if the rumors of her includes her sister. Than somehow the villagers decided to combine the rumors of the two vampire sister as one big scary vampire instead.
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I had a thought about Koakuma and her burning Remilia with a cross. Maybe it is not the cross or what it is made of that hurt Remilia. Maybe the cross hurt her because Koakuma was scared and desperate, so she started praying that the cross would work. That's why it didn't work for the fairies. The fairies didn't pray while they were attacking Remilia with crosses because the fairies are immortal, and therefore they didn't have any reason to pray for their lives since they knew they would be fine no matter what Remilia did to them.
Maybe whatever Remilia's urban legend is is weak against prayer.

Try getting Greg to pray for Remilia not to kill him. With Greg's magic sealed, its not like he can do much else anyway.
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>>203396
I do not think that's what's going on. It was the cross that burned her, not a force of prayer. Weakness to iron is much more likely.
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>>203397
Urban legends, both theories are valid options until proven wrong.

Personally, I just think I would be funny if they won the fight by Greg holding out a cross shouting, "IN THE NAME OF GOD." Than Remilia just scuttles away. Imagine their reactions to that, lol.
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>>203392
> The white blood might be because she is nobility, a "blue blood" if you will, and the uneducated simpletons of the human village got confused about it.
That’s actually pretty understandable. 青い means blue, but can also refer to the same whitish-grey the skin becomes when a person goes pale or is recently deceased. If the urban legend gave a description of blue (青い) blood and pale (青い) skin, it could easily be misinterpreted to be referring to the same color (especially since there are multiple terms for both), and since Remi CLEARLY does not have blue skin, the obvious alternative in that case is that the blood is white. The blue-blood metaphor isn’t a thing in Japanese, after all, so they’d have no way of catching it.
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>>203397
When we first walked down into the basement, Remilia made her entrance by throwing the large metal vault door across the room at us. It is not mentioned what specific metal the vault door was made of, but many vault doors are at least partially made from iron or steel (steel is an alloy of iron). Remilia was not harmed by the vault door at all, so if it indeed was made of iron we can cross that potential weakness off the list of suspects.
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>>203388
>White blood IS a bottleneck
Not so, good sir. After some research it seems the fair folk traditionally had white blood. Well, in Irish mythology at least.
The actual bottleneck here is the monsterous demeanor. The baobhan sith were subtle. You wouldn’t realize anything was wrong until it was already too late.
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>The actual bottleneck here is the monsterous demeanor.
she has become Irish. case closed
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[X] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.

All I can say is I'm confused.
I have no idea what UL is affecting her, but I think that maybe the theory about faith in religious symbols may be correct. Remember, we're in Gensokyo, everything has a connection to faith. Urban Legends are essentially thing that are believed to be true, so if Koa did have faith that the cross would help, the faith itself might have been the reason it DID work.
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((For the record, all this speculation is awesome. In particular, >>203392 is a brilliant idea... not one I'd thought of myself, sadly, but I may steal it for another youkai if a good candidate arises.))

[-] Back way off. I need to make sure Remilia doesn't somehow double back towards Greg.

The sheer speed Remilia was moving with made her attacks difficult to avoid even with ample warning. I wouldn't stand a chance here in the dark, and I suspected Sakuya would have difficulty as well.

[Illusion World - The World]

Or she could have a spellcard with enough fireballs to light up the room regardless. Once she'd placed the first wave of knives, Remilia retreated through a wall, Flandre charged after her sister, and I flew back through the walls of pillars to check on Greg. (A convenient quirk of Tenshi's spellcard is that the pillars created by it are real stone that had been manipulated by the danmaku. Which meant they stayed put even after I'd ended the spellcard.)

He had, in fact, stayed put, but he looked pale, and despite the lack of visibility was staring intently in the direction of the conflict. I was actually having better luck keeping track of the battle than earlier; Sakuya was stopping time less and Remilia's thoughts seemed, if anything, more stable.

That said, my arrival did distract his focus, and he looked up as I landed in front of him.

"Satori! Are you alright?"

His initial impulse had been rushing forwards to grab me, but he'd restrained it. That didn't stop him from staring at the handprint Remilia had left on my neck. I looked away, suddenly self-conscious. "I'm fine, Greg. I was barely even in the battle."

He didn't respond, but I caught the self-recrimination in his thoughts and put a hand on his shoulder. "Sakuya can handle herself. You know that firsthand, and Flandre is even stronger."

Some of the tension left Greg as his shoulders slumped and he sighed. "I know, I know. It doesn't make it any easier to feel useless. How's the battle going?"

I turned around, refocusing my third eye towards the vampires. Apparently Remilia had managed to lead the other two on a merry chase through that corner of the basement, destroying lights as she went and culminating in luring Flandre into the explosion of the mansion's water heater. I wasn't sure where Sakuya had gone.

"As well as could be expected," I eventually said.

"Satori..."

"It's not the first time they've done this." It was the third, and the previous two had both required medical attention after the fact. "They came in here expecting a battle of attrition."

"They really think I'm going to be able to help her."

Distantly, I noted that Sakuya had shown up again, using one of Patchouli's fire-producing spellbooks as a lantern. "That is why they went to the trouble of kidnapping us, yes."

Greg looked troubled, shaking his head. "No, I mean, they wouldn't have gone through this," he gestured to the destruction, "on a whim. Even if they were prepared for a fight, they're still risking their own lives. Which means either they're desperate, or they expect this to help. To provide meaningful, actionable information."

He was wording it through a practical lens, but he'd been thinking about it in terms of obligation. At least until his mind caught up with that last sentence and he realized the logical consequences. He swallowed and turned to me. "Did you get anything useful off of Remilia?"

He wasn't sure. He had a few suspicions about her urban legend, but he wasn't sure. So I told him what I did pick up; the state of Remilia's mind, her physical changes and pale blood, and Sakuya's tale of Koakuma driving the vampire back.

He sucked in a breath at that last detail, his mind racing. After a particularly loud series of crashes died down, (A spellcard of Flandre's that bounced bullets off of walls. With the narrow quarters down here, it was proving quite effective, against both Remilia and the architecture.), he asked, "Koakuma. Is she strong?"

"The exact opposite. Anyone you've met so far would beat her handily."

He nodded, having expected that. "So by all rights, Remilia should have slaughtered her."

Checking his thoughts, Greg was thinking of... books? "Yes. What are you getting at?"

"It sounds familiar. I swear I've read something like this, something similar. The hunger you mentioned... was there any sort of emotional component to it? If I'm remembering the story right, there were vampires that could feed off of a specific emotion, and I think they could induce it too."

I paused, trying to get ahold of Remilia's mind again to look at it in more depth. I grimaced. "It's too instinctual to tell, but I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary."

Greg didn't reply as he thought through possiblities. Maybe she doesn't actually have the ability? Or maybe it just doesn't work on any of the people here? Or it could be something that doesn't apply to a situation like this, I'm not sure if that type of vampire could really use it in combat. But how would that book have made it to Gensokyo in the first place? And can it even qualify as an urban legend? It's not from mythology, or even an old story, it's just plain old fantasy. If only there was a way to narrow it down- wait!

"Satori! I know you've got some variant on hypnosis, can you induce emotion?"

"Not directly. All I do is make you vividly recall a memory." And quite frankly, thank goodness for that. My ability was hated enough as it is.

"That could work. If my guess is right, a strong enough burst of the right emotion should draw Remilia like a beacon."

"Which emotion?"

He thought back for a moment and sighed. "I'm not sure. I'm certain they were negative ones, but I think there were several variants."

"Greg, are you seriously asking me to call up and look through your worst memories? I could just try to help you remember the book."

"I..." he hesitated, and I felt a stab of worry, "if I'm right, and this is what happened to Remilia, the book has to be around somewhere. But I think we need to know exactly what we're up against."

Greg didn't want to do it. He was scared, not of the memories themselves, but of what I would think of them. But he also thought it was for the best, not just because of the situation with Remilia, but so I would know. Which implied there was something he'd managed to avoid thinking of, that he was worried would change my opinion of him. Somehow I doubted there'd be anything that bad, not compared to what I've seen, but if I was wrong... did I really want to know?

And for that matter, what about the actual fight? Sakuya and Flandre seemed to have Remilia well in hand for the moment, but if I was going to concentrate on Greg's memories, I wouldn't be able to actually defend if the vampire did break free and come after us.

[-] Refuse. It's too dangerous to look through Greg's memories now.
[-] Only call up Greg's memories of this book.
[-] Look for less intense memories. It's more time consuming and less likely to work, but also less of a privacy violation... even if he's giving me permission.
[-] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.
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Remilia looking older, paler, and degenerating into an almost feral state may be a scarlet herring, here. Those are fairly typical signs of vampiric hunger.
What we should zero in on is the pale “blood”, the fact that she isn’t weaker from the hunger, and the hunger itself. Those attributes are the only unusual ones given her condition. If what we come up with matches the other changes, great, but we shouldn’t prioritize them.
We should also keep in mind the hunger need not be caused directly; if the urban legend did something like accelerate her metabolism, her light feeding wouldn’t be enough to satiate her anymore, and the effect would be the same.
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>>203406
I would just like to say I started writing this an hour ago
Anyways
>>203405
[-] Point out that it's too dangerous to look through Greg's memories now, but if he’s still insistent, no half-measures.
That Greg is willing to share in part for Satori’s own sake is proof enough that however bad his secrets are, the place his heart is NOW makes up for it.
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[X] Point out that it's too dangerous to look through Greg's memories now, but if he’s still insistent, no half-measures.
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[-] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.

DO IT. Just DO IT.
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[x] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.

fffFFFFUCK YOU
GO IN OR GO HOME

GO IN
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[x] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.
Always go for the exposition vote.
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[X] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.

Oh boy, the suspense is killing me.
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[X] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.

All or nothing, do or die, fortune favor the bold!
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>"It sounds familiar. I swear I've read something like this, something similar. The hunger you mentioned... was there any sort of emotional component to it? If I'm remembering the story right, there were vampires that could feed off of a specific emotion, and I think they could induce it too."

>I paused, trying to get ahold of Remilia's mind again to look at it in more depth. I grimaced. "It's too instinctual to tell, but I haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary."

>Greg didn't reply as he thought through possiblities. Maybe she doesn't actually have the ability? Or maybe it just doesn't work on any of the people here? Or it could be something that doesn't apply to a situation like this, I'm not sure if that type of vampire could really use it in combat. But how would that book have made it to Gensokyo in the first place? And can it even qualify as an urban legend? It's not from mythology, or even an old story, it's just plain old fantasy. If only there was a way to narrow it down- wait!

Five (monopoly) bucks says he thinks it's a power of Count Dracula from the book. Greg's plan is to recall something from his past that evokes immense, enormous fear - and that will magnet pull Remilia to his location.

Whether he has any plan of action at all after that is unknown. If he has none, Greg (who is shaking from terror like a fucking xcom rookie) and Satori (who looks to be a real fucking jobber combat wise) are gonna face Remilia 2v1 for a bit. It's pretty much a setup for having a nice loss. Therefore, gentlemen. There's no subvote, but even still. What should be Satori's plan once that happens, given that Greg is likely to be paralyzed?
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>>203414
>What should be Satori's plan once that happens, given that Greg is likely to be paralyzed?
Just make a cross symbol with her fingers. Remilia's got stronger stereotypical vampire weaknesses right now, remember?
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>>203415
Gee, why didn't they all make a cross with their fingers. That'd be an instant win.
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>>203414
>Count Dracula from the book
Doesn’t add up with the changes Remilia’s subjected to.
Dracula’s healing factor is no better than a human’s in terms of how cleanly or quickly it heals, just in what he’s capable of recovering from, and he has multiple powers Remilia doesn’t have, like the ability to turn into a black vapor to slip through cracks, weather manipulation, advanced hypnosis, telepathy, teleportation, and intangibility to conventional attacks. Of course, he loses these abilities in the daytime, but that’s another thing; Dracula’s weakness isn’t to day LIGHT, but to day TIME.
Holy imagery also didn’t directly harm him, it repelled him, and if he somehow touched any anyways it calmed his bloodlust.
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We should have brought a bag of mustard seeds to scatter on the ground. Vampires are compulsive counters of small objects
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>>203417
There’s also the retained fire resistance, Stoker’s vampires were fatally weak to fire.
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>>203417
>Dracula’s weakness isn’t to day LIGHT, but to day TIME.
>>203261
>You knew it was daytime by the ambient light, but the moment you're outside you're all but blinded.
It's daytime outside right now within the story.

>Holy imagery also didn’t directly harm him, it repelled him, and if he somehow touched any anyways it calmed his bloodlust.
It repelled Remilia here and she withdrew for a large amount of time. It's possible that back then, she regained control and that cause of her frenzy is simply uncontrollable bloodlust.

>>203419
Either weakness wasn't fatal enough or Remilia simply didn't inherit enough weakness traits.

>At point blank range, the spellcard was effectively a solid cone of fire, and it enveloped Remilia. There was a shriek from the vampire, Pain, anger, determination, and then she burst through, descending on me like a bat out of hell.

>I'd miscalculated. Remilia was never weak to fire, and the urban legend wasn't either.

All this means that Remilia never had a serious enough weakness to fire - but it was enough to make her flinch from it despite staying calm enough in her hunger to not reveal her intent to a mindreader. It also reveals that Satori's a jobber, but we knew that already.
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[X] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.
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[X] No half-measures. Let's find out the truth, about Remilia, and whatever Greg wants (or doesn't want) to show me.

I knew what the logical decision was. I also knew why we were both hesitating. Greg was worried that I'd see reason to hate him, or at the very least think worse of him. On my end, part of it was that I wasn't sure I wanted to know what he had done.

But when it comes to uncomfortable truths, it's better to know. It's what I've always said, it's what I've always believed. I have to hold to that. Even when it cuts both ways.

Because Greg was about to find out why people hate satori.

"Brace yourself." I warned Greg. "This won't be pleasant."

[Recollection - Terrifying Hypnotism]

Strictly speaking, the spellcard wasn't necessary, not on a cooperative subject. But it did help, and if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. So I modified the spellcard to leave a gap where Greg was standing, and let it run. And as he stared into my danmaku, I looked him in the eyes and waited until he'd started swaying.

"What are you afraid of?" I asked, softly.

Greg started to respond in a daze, and I shushed him. "Don't speak. What are you afraid of?"

Of failing everyone. Of dying. Of being useless. Of not having a purpose.

The first two thoughts were focused on the future. Things that might go wrong, not things that had gone wrong before. While the last two were more tentative, dragged out reluctantly. I closed my eyes. "Are you useful?"

Some. Memories of illusions cast, of helping in research. Not enough. Losing to Marisa, letting Sumireko come to Gensokyo, Koishi...

I had to focus. "Have you always been useful?"

No.

The answer was blunt, the mental equivalent of a brick wall. "Why not?"

I was stupid. Selfish. I didn't know what I was doing.

Usually memories come unbidden when someone's in this kind of trance, but these thoughts were alone, drawn out reluctantly. "Who did your selfishness hurt?"

I... I don't want to say.

A pulse of fear surged through me. This couldn't be worth it it would ruin my one friendship not to mention Remilia could be coming any second - I took a half-step back and took a deep breath, focusing on control. A mental defense. And one that hit Gregor as well, judging by how he was trembling. Did he plant this himself, to avoid thinking of the memory, or was it someone else?

"Who did your selfishness hurt?"

I... it... it's in the past!

Another pulse of fear, but I was prepared for it this time, and struck before it had even run its course. "You can't run from the past. Who did your selfishness hurt?"

The hypnosis struggled against the mental block, but a couple details snuck through. "What happened at school? Who was the new girl?"

The mental block was never meant to stand up to a determined assault. It had been weakened just by me pushing at it, and then damaged further by Greg trying to process my new questions. And when his subconscious got into play, connecting details, the hole in the block widened, and memories started leaking out in force

I could shatter it with one more good push. But that could overwhelm Greg, and if negative emotions did somehow attract Remilia, I wouldn't have the time to understand anything, just the first (and probably worst) impression.

"Greg. Where did it all start going wrong?"

His thoughts stabilized, going back to the near-emotionless answers of the trance. Early. Before I'd met Sumireko. The moment I discovered magic. I thought it meant I was special. More important.

I almost asked why that was bad, but Greg would give me an answer about pride. I needed to continue the train of thought. "And then?"

Nobody else believed me. Not my classmates, not my dad. I tried to get them to see things my way. And then I found out I could make them.

It was an accident, the first time. He'd broken into the teacher's desk, gotten caught, and was trying to convince her it was an innocent mistake... and suddenly she believed it. Not all of it, not about him being there for good reasons, but that he'd thought the drawer was jammed and broken the lock accidentally.

I would have thought it was a coincidence if not for the migraine.

"And then?"

I practiced with it. Figured out its limits, what it could work on. Kids were easier. Couldn't do much to adults, couldn't touch my dad at all. Couldn't change a firm opinion. I couldn't make true false or false true. But it could make true and false not important. It could make a firm no look like bullying, an innocent mistake into malice, a simple joke into a snide remark. All I needed were the right words to encourage those ideas.

And Greg had proven to be very good with his words just earlier today. "Why?", I asked, dreading the answer.

The first rule of a strategy game. Divide and conquer.

He'd been at the bottom. Not fast, not strong, not likable enough to be worth anyone's time, and that was before he'd made himself a laughingstock over "magic". But the same kids who could be petty towards him could be petty towards each other. The right push made one boy lose their temper, and a second nurture a grudge. The teacher was nudged to look up at exactly the right time to notice a passed note. An innocent joke was misheard as a racial slur, and so it went.

The clique of popular kids fractured, and Greg found each one individually, and asked them what happened. One decided he'd found an outlet to vent, because who was the loser going to tell? Another was enraged at how his former friend had betrayed his trust. A third decided that building up someone who was low on the totem pole would be a great way for her to rebuild her social circle. And in every conversation, the other person came away thinking Greg was a little smarter, cooler, or well informed than they had before.

It escalated from there. Every time I pushed on someone's mind, they were a little more receptive. The planted thoughts were a little stronger. And the more I got to know them, the better I could manipulate them.

It had taken six months for Greg to become one of the popular kids. Within a year, his classmates hung on his every word, and his teachers adored him.

Grades I didn't have to work for. Hanging out with whoever I wanted, doing whatever I wanted. I could ask any of them to borrow the newest game, or a bike, or whatever, and it would be mine, no questions asked. Give it a couple years and I could have picked any of the girls to be my girlfriend, and they'd have been overjoyed.

"Even Sumireko?"

No! No. We hadn't met yet. Thankfully. She transferred in the week after.

That was a relief, at least. But there was more than just shame there as he recalled the memories. "Were you happy?"

No. You'd think I would be. I'd thought I would be. But no. It was so empty.

Initially, he'd been separated from his classmates due to small, petty things. He'd figured out why, climbed to the top of his social ladder, and found he couldn't stop seeing his classmates as small, petty things. "What changed?"

A substitute teacher. Maribel.

Greg's thoughts were more hesitant now, and some emotion was leaking through. Whatever this was, it was the crux of the matter. "Show me."

The first lesson with Maribel (who looked oddly familiar) seemed normal. Greg had directed some of the class to act up, and had intended to seem the teacher's pet in contrast to the pranksters he'd directed. He'd been surprised when she asked him to see her after class, and shocked when she called him out on his magic, demanding to know why he was in his classmates heads.

Greg swallowed. I tried playing dumb, but she didn't buy it for a moment. Then I tried pushing on her, to convince her she'd made a mistake, and she noticed that too. She said she'd give me one chance to stop, to undo what I did.

He hadn't stopped, of course. He tried rallying the class against her, but - whatever else she was - Maribel was a good teacher. Her second class was smoother than the first, despite dodging a number of pranks and sending three students to the principal's office.

Greg hung his head. After class, she seemed disappointed at first. Muttered something about someone named Renko. And then she smiled, and told me that she was going to tear me down to my foundations.

Greg had a high opinion of his intelligence, and in all fairness, it was pretty good for his age. However, he'd been outwitting kids, with the advantage of magic. But Maribel was an adult, had a position of authority to work with, and could see exactly what he'd done.

Past assignments were called into question, and cheating was discovered. Classmates who hadn't spoken in months started comparing notes on old arguments. In just ten days, Maribel undid Greg's manipulation of the past twelve months. And then, and only then, did she use magic.

Greg started trembling, grabbing his arm to steady himself. A few days before the normal teacher was due to come back, she called me in after class. By then I hated her. Told her that she hadn't won, that she'd need to leave now and I was going to fix everything. That I'd learn more magic and get her back. But she told me she wasn't finished just yet. She... she somehow grabbed my magic and inverted it. Said it would make me understand what I did.

Oh, hell. Instead of Greg planting ideas in his classmates' minds, it was their thoughts that affected him. Right after his manipulations had been exposed to those same classmates. They hated him, and for eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, he heard exactly why.

The trance was breaking down. It required a clear mind to maintain.I was ready to give up after the second day. I... I found her after class, begged her to make it stop. She said it was too late, that she was leaving, that it would only stop once I made a real friend. Then she stepped through a gap and vanished.

Yukari?! Maribel was the spitting image of a younger Yukari, and with that power-

I recoiled backwards in horror, losing my grip on the trance entirely. There was a sharp spike in fear from Greg, and a sudden series of crashes from the other end of the basement.

It took me a second to yank my mind back to the present, remember what that was about, and realize that Remilia had suddenly broken free. I touched her mind and winced; she'd felt Greg's fear, gone mad, and was flying down the hallway, heading straight for us.

[-] Write-in.
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In response to some feedback about the update, there's a couple things I should clarify.

Greg was using plenty of mundane manipulation alongside his magical abilities when climbing the social ladder way back when, and that's the part Maribel used to expose him. I meant to work it in and subtly imply it during the summarization of memories, but it's too easily missed as-is, and I'm too late to edit the post. But yeah, now you know why he was acing all those speech checks earlier: Once upon a time, he had a lot of practice.
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[X] Use the memory you just looked at to gap Remilia somewhere
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[X] Use the memory you just looked at to gap Remilia somewhere

Goddamnit Mary! You can't just go around grabbing minors in their magical places!
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>>203422
>They hated him, and for eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, he heard exactly why.
I feel like the connection was deepened, here. Like, sure, in Greg’s case it was entirely deserved, but that sort of pain, justified or not, is something few people can comprehend. That he used that pain to grow as a person is just icing on the cake.
Anyways, eager to see how this development…develops.
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Greg's plan is likely to shove a crucifix into Remilia while paralyzed with fear and hope that it works. Given that she straight up homed in on him, it very likely will. Gapping Remi somewhere will accomplish exactly nothing once she's turned.

[x] Paralyze Remilia using recollection of Greg's fear.
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[X] Use the memory you just looked at to gap Remilia somewhere

I'm interested to see whether we can actually do this. Where would we send her tho?
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Sending feral Remi away through a gap the last thing we should do.
She's being contained in the Mansion by a combined effort of Tenshi and Patchouli and using a gap, which I doubt Satori has proper control of using, means risking freeing Remi from the Mansion grounds.
...
And fuck, if that wouldn't be an amazingly exciting plot development.
[X] Use the memory you just looked at to gap Remilia somewhere

In the heat battle... I guess now it's Satori's turn to do the stupid thing.
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>>203429
Maybe the same place vengeful spirits are jailed in The Palace of Earth Spirits? Best to put her in her own cell, though. This may create a safe way for us to observe her, too.
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>mind reader saw that one time someone disappeared into a portal
>somehow it means that we can banish Remi to shadow realm
wew
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>Satori using a gap
You guys DO realize she can only mimic the PATTERNS, right? Not powers? Otherwise she’d be invincible while using Deep Fog Labyrinth.
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>203428
Seconding this guy’s plan, the other write-in isn’t possible with Satori’s powers.
[x] Paralyze Remilia using recollection of Greg's fear.
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>>203433
So I've got an idea how to bridge the gap (heh) between votes and potential lore issues.
Say, an urban legend attached itself to Satori that would enable her to accomplish essentially the same thing as opening a gap.
The particular UL I have in mind is the 'yellow door, red door' game
https://www.creepypasta.com/red-door-yellow-door/
The gist of it: A guide puts the participant into a trance like state which enables them vividly visualise environments and, implicitly, cross spiritual divides. Common elements of these visualisations in current times include abandoned buildings and the eponymous colored doors. The 'game' finds its root origin in rituals common to shamanistic tribes.

So, basically, Satori would be able to manifest doors that go... somewhere.

(Since I know no hard lore how a UL finds its user we can bullshit something in as the votesstory demands)
Look, I find the idea of Satori accidentally letting loose a Vampire menace in an attempt to protect Greg too good of a story beat to pass up.
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>>203424
> Say, an urban legend attached itself to Satori that would enable her to accomplish essentially the same thing as opening a gap.
In that case we should go with one of the dozen paranormal vortex urban legends, or maybe the Montauk Project. Red Door, Yellow Door is more like a paranormal hypnotherapy test of courage, which… actually, yeah, on second thought it’s perfect for Satori and I’m willing to accept how it works getting fudged if it means she gets it.
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>>203435
This is me
Changing my vote to the other write in on the condition Satori manages it with the fudged interpretation of Red Door Yellow Door.
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>>203436
Pulling out a voter-decided UL and one-sidedly hoping for QM to implement it is equally stupid. I'll be waiting with popcorn for when Satori does something Greg-tier stupid next update and gets wrecked for it.
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>>203436
You want Satori to essentially pull a random urban legend out of her ass, logic and plot progression be damned, for the sole purpose of letting feral Remilia rampage throughout Gensokyo, potentially killing hundreds of innocent people, all while simultaneously putting us in an even worse position than we are already in now? Even if Satori does somehow randomly get this one specific urban legend at this one specific moment, and somehow use it to gap Remilia away despite the fact that Satori has no reason to try using her powers that way since she knows her powers don’t work like that, Remilia is the only thing preventing Flandre and Sakuya from killing us right now. We are the reason Remilia is like this in the first place, the only reason they haven’t killed us already is because they think we can fix what we did to Remilia. If we instead make the problem ten times worse by teleporting Remilia out of containment, Flandre is all but guaranteed to kill us on the spot. Are you trying to bad end us?

And even if your plan somehow works perfectly and doesn’t get us killed, you just gave Satori the power to teleport herself (and anything else she wants to) anywhere at any time she wants. Which means Satori can just teleport Greg back to the outside world, teleport around until she finds Sumeriko and do the same thing with her, and let us think up an urban legend for Koishi from the safety of our own home with zero risk. You have just solved the entire plot and ended the story in one fell swoop using essentially a Deus ex machina.

Hell, Satori can just open up a second portal to wherever she sent Remilia and bring Remilia back to the basement more or less instantly, thereby nullifying the entire point of this whole plot twist in the first place.
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>>203438
This is me
In light of >>203440, I retract my prior vote change.
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[x] Paralyze Remilia using recollection of Greg's fear.
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>>203440
>You want Satori to essentially pull a random urban legend out of her ass [...]
Yes.
There's been no foreshadowing, no implication of the possibility. Yes, it is an asspull. I'd make up some post hoc justification, like being near Sumi and Greg somehow made Satori more receptible for Urban Legends. I would be in childlike excitement were it to happen regardless of it all.
I am, admittedly, so enamored by the idea of Satori committing a grave mistake in good intentions that I went out of my way to try to make it possible it, yes.
>[...]letting feral Remilia rampage throughout Gensokyo[...]
I mean, how could I not? It's an escalation of stakes, it's drama, it's thematic - that's what I'm here for, that's why I like adventure, that's why I like this story.
A series innocent and/or well intentioned mistakes setting off an avalanche of issues. The struggle to set things right only to get caught up further in the spider's web. It's poetic.

>Are you trying to bad end us?
I do not see USiL as a narrative game with losing conditions or bad ends.
I see it as a story being written, the progression of it being molded by the choices of the participating readers.
I am, unironically, choosing my own adventure. Being part of a creative work in this way is something I relish.

>And even if your plan somehow works perfectly [...]
(concerning gapping Remilia back)
I'd imagine Remilia would only fall for it the first time given the (collectively shared) element of surprise.
Due to it being a panick response Satori wouldn't be aware of the location she sent Remilia to.
Or she would know but couldn't manage to manifest the door again/couldn't control the (exact) location they lead to because RDYD is a fickle UL.
Or she would know and be able but by the time they seek out the location Remi's long gone.
Or they would find her but how do you force a hyperaware feral vampire through a door it doesn't want to go through?
There are ways to work around this particular contrivance.
(SDM/Flandre retaliation)
Honestly, I'd bank on Soul figuring this one out. Or make it so Satori escapes with Greg (much to his dismay) using RDYD. Greg being without magic at his disposal as a result, mirroring the flashback, is that tinge of irony that makes the whole situation rich.
(deus ex machina)
Greg would be highly unwilling to leave things behind a smoldering mess while Sumi would be ecstatic about getting away ASAP - I see this as another opportunity to create friction in character interaction. I honestly doubt that at this point the plot would end and be resolved when the gang finds a way to get back home to the outside world.
All of that is going by the assumption that the UL would be capable of letting them cross the barrier in the first place - which is a thought I'm warming up to more and more.
At the point where everything has gone horribly and utterly wrong, you receive your ticket out - no catches - escaping any consequence.
Greg would be the guy to say no to that.
(Preempting the plot contrivance of letting them go back using RDYD)
Let's say they speculate/find out the UL remains attached to Satori only as long as Greg remains in Gensokyo (her being the guide, him being the participant of RDYD), as crossing the barrier could mean 'crossing a spiritual divide', possibly concluding the RDYD game and cutting off the mystic connection they have. Essentially make it a one-time one-way ticket out so the story can't end with a struggle-free miracle solution.

Last Word: Ultimately, should Soul come along and say that this is not where he wants to take the story or that the whole idea is too flimsy to work with, I'll say that that's a real shame and that I would have loved to see the story go there. And then I would be quiet about it.
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[x] Paralyze Remilia using recollection of Greg's fear.

If we are going to fuck everything up, I would like to request that we keep our ability to fuck everything up within the realm of established possibility, and not resort to pulling random plot twists out of our ass. Resorting to asspulls is generally considered to be bad writing.
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[x] Paralyze Remilia using recollection of Greg's fear.

I have no idea what the plan right now is, but while gapping Remilia sounds like a amazing idea, we should prob keep that particular trump card for later

Also, thanks for the chapter Soul.
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>>203443
I value the end result - an enjoyable, well-constructed work that I can justify re-reading more than something you relish. Pulling an Urban Legend out of voter's collective behinds on the spot and then trying to do mental backflips trying to justify how it doesn't solve a whole story might sound fun, but the end result is a mess. So if you choose your own adventure, I'll choose mine. That's what voting's for.
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[X] Use the memory you just looked at to gap Remilia somewhere

Even if it is an ass-pull, the amount of possibilities, drama, and thematic storytelling this could bring to the table is way too awesome for me to say no. Plus, I think Soul is a good enough writer to pull this off satisfyingly, even if he does have to nerf RDYD into oblivion.

Unless he doesn't want to take this route. In which case, I will also shut up.
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[x] You really shouldn’t have left this as a write-in.
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(One may imagine I added 'in my opinion' or 'to me' to every opinionated sentence)

>>203446
>I value the end result
I do too. (I wouldn't have been so enthusiastic about the idea behind the original gapping vote otherwise)
The whole thing just makes so much sense narratively. The story started out with - and to this point has been about - people committing mistakes attempting to set things right. It's been about Sumireko, who is trying to escape Gensokyo, about Kasen, Ran and everyone else, who were in on the scheme with the false occult ball, about Greg, who doggedly tries to fix everyone's problems, about Sakuya, who forcibly abducted him in order to cure her mistress, and about Satori, who tries to 'restore' her, in the matter likely uninformed, sister - and potentially about Satoti who failed to place her trust in Greg, letting loose a monster (sorry Remilia).
>trying to do mental backflips trying to justify how it doesn't solve a whole story might sound fun
I just don't see how it would solve the whole story.
Also, I retract my previous admission of it being an asspull. It does come out of left field, but I don't see how it absolutely can't make sense and definitively could not happen.
>but the end result is a mess
We can't presage this. We would have to see how it works out in writing.
>So if you choose your own adventure, I'll choose mine. That's what voting's for.
Amen to that brother.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing against you or anyone. I'm in favor of the vote for its potential - and I have faith in Soul to draw it out.
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>>203451
>I do too. [...]
>The whole thing just makes so much sense narratively. [...]
Giving Satori teleportation powers from a player vote just because that could happen because "it's exciting!" is a mistake and an asspull.
>I just don't see how it would solve the whole story.
see >>203440 ; Your extrapolations on that are only what-ifs.
>Also, I retract my previous admission of it being an asspull. It does come out of left field, but I don't see how it absolutely can't make sense and definitively could not happen.
It's an asspull because the problem that the story has pitched us right now (angry Remi 22C's towards us; What Do?) has been solved not using voter's brains or clever reasoning, but by pulling a potentially broken plot device straight out of a suggestion box just because it looked fun..

Don't give readers so much control over the story that they can now insert major plot devices on a whim of a vote.
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>>203452
imagine malding this hard over people wanting to do things
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>>203453
I rest my case
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>>203452
Agree with this
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>>203452
>Giving Satori teleportation powers from a player vote just because that could happen because "it's exciting!" is a mistake
How exactly? What makes it a mistake?
>and an asspull
That I'll concede. Okay see, to explain why changed my stance again; I looked up the exact definition of the word and I'll retract my retraction and admit again that what I'm advocating for actually is a contrived plot twist going by the wiktionary definition. (I swear, I'm not trying to look schizophrenic by going back and forth on this point like a pendulum).
>see >>203440 ; Your extrapolations on that are only what-ifs.
>pulling a potentially broken plot device straight out of a suggestion box
You're conversely assuming short of, if not the actual highest amount of utility the ability can provide and presenting that assumption as if it is the definite circumstance of the matter.
While being an immensely helpful tool to find Sumireko, portal creation (it basically is just that) won't resolve issues that are still driving the plot like the search to uncover the mystery behind the ULs.
Consider as well that throughout the whole story Sumireko has been capable of doing something nearly equivalent with her teleportation magic.

>It's an asspull because the problem that the story has pitched us right now (angry Remi 22C's towards us; What Do?) has been solved not using voter's brains or clever reasoning, but by pulling a potentially broken plot device straight out of a suggestion box just because it looked fun
Working under the presumption we're players participating in a narrative game with rules, solving problems within a limited choice framework would matter.
Instead I presume an audience-writer relationship in which the writer ultimately holds the power to reject or accept the desire the audience vocalises.
Consequently this begs the question what type of CYOA story USiL actually is in this case (which will be resolved (in part) once Soul decides whether or not to deem the vote valid).

>Don't give readers so much control over the story that they can now insert major plot devices on a whim of a vote.
I think another contentious point that revealed itself to me here is the amount of influence I indiviually would exert over the story's progression (were Soul to go along with my suggestion(s)) which clashes with the established quasi-democratic system of anonymous equal voting. Which kinda sucks, truth be told.
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[-] Use a memory of fear to stun Remilia.

My mind was stuck on Yukari and the implications of seeing the gap youkai in Greg's memories, so my first thought was to imitate her abilities by using a gap as a defense. And if I'd had one of her spellcards to work with, that might have actually been possible. But "Maribel" had never declared a spellcard in Greg's memories. And by the time I'd finished that thought, Remilia was almost on top of me.

She was in noticeably worse shape than before. She had a knife lodged in her leg, and one arm was hanging limp, but she was still a pissed off vampire. Which was bad, but nobody lasts for long in Gensokyo without at least some reflexes.

[Recollection - Terrible Souvenir]
It wasn't exactly a bomb, but being charged by a vampire wasn't exactly a bullet, and this spellcard was never designed to be dodged up close. First was a circle of lasers, carving up a good chunk of the cellar and shattering a number of wine bottles. Remilia managed to charge forwards inside them, while Greg dove for cover. This worked out just fine, as the next part of the spellcard was more focused:
A spreadshot of danmaku concentrated on the vampire at point-blank range. I'll admit to some satisfaction at the resulting scream.

Unfortunately, we'd been through this before. With one of Patchouli's spellcards instead of mine, but either way the result was the same; Remilia took the hits, screeched in pain and pressed onwards, plowing through the danmaku and grabbing me by the throat. Again. If I did get out of this and ran into Koishi later, the bruising was going to be difficult to explain.

But again, we'd been through this before. I'd had enough time to think of a reply.

[Memory Sign - Safe Haven]
The key difference between a bomb and a spellcard? The bomb is faster, and requires no concentration once started. The circle of orbs spun out and smacked Remilia before she could properly choke me, sending her skidding through the puddle of wine and into one of the wine racks. Right where Greg was hiding.

I didn't dare try a spellcard. With Greg that close, anything that would actually harm the vampire would vaporize him. But I had hit Remilia with hypnosis, however briefly, and I could try leveraging that.

"Remilia!" I yelled. "Your urban legend! What happened?!"

I wasn't sure if it would work, but I got a snatch of memory. She hadn't known. She thought she did, she expected the hunger, but she'd expected to be able to bear it. It had slowly intensified, but without an obvious cause, and when she'd collapsed, when Sakuya reacted with fear, there was a moment of horror before Remilia lost control. And the damage and loss of energy since then had only made things worse.

Sakuya had reappeared during the distraction, one arm bound up in a sling, the other grabbing Greg as she flew away. I stepped forwards, trying to keep the vampire's attention. "What was the urban legend? What did you expect?"

In lieu of answering, Remilia tore the wine rack free of the wall and threw it at me. I shot a spray of bullets at it, and the wine rack came apart mid-throw. I managed to shield my face before the shrapnel of wood, alcohol, and glass pelted me; the resulting cuts were painful, but not debilitating. Unfortunately, there is minimal wisdom in being a stationary target in a battle of this sort, and the cabinet Remilia threw next proved that I had chosen poorly.

The impact hurt a lot. The secondary collision when the cabinet crashed down on top of me and pinned me to the floor was worse, and my various cuts being literally soaked in alcohol was not helping.

Where were Sakuya and Flandre? At least Remilia wasn't pressing her advantage; she was doing something with the chandelier-

Then I got a glimpse of her thoughts and went pale. It would seemed I'd awakened just enough personality for the feral vampire to be vindictive. Remilia grabbed hold of the chandelier's chain, and snapped the link connecting it to the ceiling... before flying over me and dangling the mass of metal, glass, and a large number of lit candles over me.

I'd seen people burn to death. I needed a good spellcard, fast.

[-] [Recollection - Earth Sign: "Trilithon Shake"]
[-] [Recollection - Blazing Star Style Tag]
[-] [Recollection - Optics: "Hydro Camouflage"]
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((On the subject of the red door yellow door urban legend: it's not a bad idea, and I do actually like the idea of Remilia loose in Gensokyo to further escalate the situation. The doors being part of a trance thing even gives it a plausible connection to Satori. But the key problem is that it comes out of absolutely nowhere. While there's a fair bet that at least one of our protagonists manifests a useful urban legend at some point, there needs to be foreshadowing for something like that, otherwise it's just bad storytelling. Basically, there needs to be a plausible in-story mechanism for these things to actually happen, and right now we don't have that.

Though for the record, Satori paralyzing Remilia with fear doesn't work all that well either. For Satori to cause fear, it has to be in reaction to a memory she's drudged up, and that's not instant the way her mind-reading is; it's a function of hypnotism via one of her spellcards. Aside from that, she's stuck generating fear the same way everyone else is; and an out-of-control Remilia is not afraid of Satori.

In case you're wondering, the intended solution was to declare a spellcard. Satori had already set up a number of defensive walls via the recollection of Tenshi's spellcard earlier; something like a master spark could have threaded the needle and made approach almost impossible. Granted, Remilia would have then gone through the wall, or maybe the ceiling, but you'd have scored some additional damage and it'd have given Sakuya and Flandre time to catch up.))
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>>203458
[x] [Recollection - Blazing Star Style Tag]
too obvious? maybe.
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[X] [Recollection - Optics: "Hydro Camouflage"]
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[x] [Recollection - Blazing Star Style Tag]
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[x] [Recollection - Blazing Star Style Tag]

Everybody got the hell out of dodge. Same as we should be doing.
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[X] [Recollection - Optics: "Hydro Camouflage"]
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>>203459
>In case you're wondering, the intended solution was to declare a spellcard
Generally, if you have a solution in mind, you want to telegraph it. I would have phrased the option as something like “Write-in. (Declare a spellcard)” instead of JUST “Write-in.” Or, alternatively, preface the decision with a prompt to pick a spellcard to declare.
We grow up learning to solve problems where the information required to devise an informed solution is included in the framing. Remember that.
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>>203465

That's fair, but "intended solution" is more or less a stand-in for "What I thought you'd do and would have worked reasonably well." I prefer keeping the options as open-ended as possible, simply because you guys do surprise me from time to time, and I think the more out-of-the-box options are worth the occasional misfire. So long as whatever's proposed is a reasonable course of action, you're welcome to give it a shot.

But yeah, in cases where your actions are more tightly constrained, I'll give more guidance.
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[x] [Recollection - Blazing Star Style Tag]

There are few things that provoke an instinctive flight or fight reaction in a seasoned youkai. Fire is one of them. Unless your abilities center around controlling it, it will hurt you, and it's very painful. Which means I need to get the hell away before I find out just how closely a burning wine cellar can approximate Hell. (Or at least that portion of it Okuu's responsible for.) I grab the first movement related spellcard I can find, and I'm barely in time. The moment I activated the spellcard, Remilia dropped the chandelier, but at that point she's too late; I'm rocketing out the door before it hits the ground.

There's a moment of relief from Greg (and Sakuya, interestingly), a surge of anger from Remilia, and a truly impressive explosion behind me, but I don't have time to care. I'm still running. Piloting a rocket I can only vaguely control through narrow hallways in a half-destroyed basement, shooting off stars in all directions with a truly pissed off vampire behind me. I can feel the rage behind me, and every star or knife Remilia blows through only makes her more furious. She'd been toying with me because she thought I was trapped, and now that I'm not...

I keep accelerating, blazing through the walls of stone pillars I'd set up beforehand. (There's a cry of pain after the second one, and my third eye sees that Remilia had flown through a curtain of knives that weren't there a moment ago.) Thankfully all the openings were in a straight line, but there's a limit to how long an indoor hallway can be, and the only reason I make the turn at the end is because Sakuya set up still more knives in the shape of a large arrow.

The hallway I'm turning into is nowhere near as long, and I have just enough time to realize that before I hit the wall at the end.

Going through the wall bleeds off a considerable amount of my momentum and breaks the spellcard. Had it not been for Marisa's spellcard, the impact would have broken a lot more. However, Remilia was somehow still right behind me through all of this, including the wall.

There's a joke in there about being unable to get a break, but now is not the time.

Her fury has not decreased, and I feel a hand grab at my dress from behind, but I manage to regain control of my flight and spin away with nothing worse than ripped fabric. This leaves me facing Remilia, and whatever twisted elegance she had before is just gone; one of her elbows is bending the wrong way, her pink dress is absolutely covered in pale bloodstains, and her foot is literally on fire.

[Recollection -

Remilia swipes at me, and I manage to put up a block in time for her nails to tear through my arm instead of my face. This does not stop her knee from landing in my stomach, or the followup blow where she grabs my hair with her good arm and yanks me forwards into a headbutt. I reel back, stunned, as my legs kick uselessly. Remilia changes her grip, grabbing me by the throat instead.

[Memory Sign -

A second headbutt, and I'm seeing stars at this point. I grab at the arm holding me, but even if I could get leverage, I don't have the strength to make use of it. This doesn't stop Remilia from slamming me into the wall, and I feel something crack.

Remilia doesn't choke me out this time. She just holds me in place as her face looms closer. The terror is back now, and I can feel her surge of satisfaction as the cuts on her face heal and the vampire leans in. I flinch away as she opens her mouth wide, fangs glinting in the firelight-

Flandre's right cross snaps Remilia's head to the side before she can bite down, and and then she lays a hand on the arm choking me. Remilia's elbow shatters, bone fragments twisting their way through the skin, and I'm dropped to the floor. Sakuya catches me before I land, and I get a good view of the vampire sisters fighting. Flandre's in almost as bad shape as Remilia, with severe burns, several of her wing crystals missing, and what looks like half a spear sticking through her chest.

Despite that, it isn't close. Remilia shrieks and tries to lunge at me, but Flandre stops her by putting a hand through her sister's wing. Remilia's emotions change from anger to pain and tries to meet Flandre in a headbutt, but the younger sister takes it without flinching, and she grabs Remilia by the throat.

"You should have told me you wanted to play rough, sister. I don't like sharing my toys."

There's an absolutely savage joy coming from Flandre's thoughts, and some part of Remilia sees it, as she pulls and tries to get away, but Flandre headbutts Remilia this time. Once. Twice. Three times- and that's all I see before Sakuya flies me out of the room and deposits me next to Greg.

"Stay here if you value your life! I'll stop the mistress." Sakuya warns.

All the same, I can still feel Flandre's fury. It's different from Remilia's, being about the joy of battle itself instead of savaging your prey afterwards. This hasn't stopped Remilia's attitude from shifting to terror; like a wild animal that realized it stumbled into the lair of a larger predator. Sakuya is worried, but not panicked. She's had to calm down Flandre before, and she's trusting in the medicine she stole from Eirin to heal the various injuries. And Greg... I feel a new surge of fear from him, and when I try to move, the pain reminds me why. At least he's uninjured as he rushes over.

"Satori! Are you-", Greg moves to grab me, but the pain makes me flinch, and he freezes. "Please be okay. Please be okay."

[-] To be continued.
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Thanks for the update Soul!
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Great update as always. Keep it up 👍
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Update is coming some time this weekend. Apologies, but it's been a busy week.
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[-] Actually be okay.

Greg was this close to panicking. I hadn't expected to see it from him. He'd kept his cool in a variety of stressful situations, from being stranded in Gensokyo to running an extended bluff in front of our kidnappers, and even that one fight where he ended up all but bleeding out at Marisa's feet. He hadn't even been an active participant in this fight, but his mind was whirling with negative emotions, fear and doubt chief among them.

Shouldn't have pushed for Satori to look at my memories now; maybe later, when it was safe, or when we'd gotten away from here, or maybe even never because I saw the look on her face when she saw that last... and now she's hurt, because I was right and Remilia actually felt my fear or her fear, and now Satori's hurt, and-

"Greg." my voice was weak, and more than a little rough, "Greg, I'm alright."

"Satori..." Greg choked up for a second, but the fear I was feeling from him lessened. "You... have you seen yourself?"

I got an impression of how I looked, so I could see why he was worried. Between the bruising across my face and neck, the various tears in my dress and how parts of it were soaked and dripping red liquid (not blood, but the red wine that had been on the floor of the cellar), I looked worse than Greg had when he'd actually been beaten unconscious. But I could move under my own power, and I sat up to prove it. The painfulness of that movement was beside the point.

"I am, in fact, a youkai, Greg. Fights like this are hardly an unknown in this world." Of course, the spellcard system was invented to prevent fights like this, but that didn't change my nature. Or Remilia's, for that matter.

Greg didn't believe me. Oh, his emotions changed some; some of the fear shifted into pity, which was also unnecessary, but the core thought process of guilt and blaming himself was still there. "Still, if I hadn't-"

"-brought it up. I know. I agreed, remember?" I sighed, and that was a mistake, because it set me into a coughing fit, as I belatedly remembered both my general shortness of breath and the shots I'd taken to the torso. The amount of dust and grime that had been stirred up by the chaos didn't help matters, and it was several painful seconds later before I could focus well enough to resume my train of thought.

In the interim, Greg had started holding me, his arms providing support across my back and under the fold of my knees. It made me feel all the more conscious of myself, including the various aches and pains, but I didn't tell him to stop. Greg... He needed to feel needed, and I needed to tell him something, without the damned vampires listening. Besides, it wasn't uncomfortable, considering. Anyway, speaking of the devils, several rooms over, Flandre was cackling and Sakuya was casting spellcards, so this was the best chance to talk we were likely to get.

"Listen. No, listen." I put a finger to his lips, and he stopped trying to speak. "It is good that you showed me those memories, but we don't have much time to talk. I'm almost certain Maribel is actually Yukari."

There was a moment of pure confusion as Greg stopped short. There were a lot of things he'd feared I might say, and a couple he more realistically expected, but that had not been on the list. Fortunately, he was good at compartmentalizing, and his crash course on Gensokyo had included the basics on Yukari. After a moment to mentally switch gears and process it, I could see him drawing the connections. As such, I pre-empted his first question. "Yes, Ran was her servant. At Eientei. I don't know what the connection is, but it can't be a coincidence."

Satori, that, Greg thought with a grimace, incident with Maribel... It's a large part of why Sumi and I became friends in the first place.

Oh. Which meant Yukari had seen to it that the two creators of the urban legend incident not only met, but became friends. And come to think of it, hadn't they come up with the idea of the occult balls after seeing someone cross over between Gensokyo and earth?

"Greg, the youkai you saw back on earth, the one that led to you discovering Gensokyo. Did she look like Maribel? At all?"

Reading his mind only confirmed it. "Of course it was her. Which means..." I trailed off.

What exactly did it mean? Yukari only had a small handful of people that she was suspected to care about, and the only ones involved with this incident were the same busybodies who got involved with every incident. As for the others: Yuyuko, Suika, Chen, Ran, and Yukari herself... The only one of those involved at all was Ran, and the only clue of that I had was her showing up at Eientei. Which, theoretically, could be as innocent as her being in the area and Marisa asking her to assist. Not that anything ever was innocent with Yukari, but even still... if she did set up this incident, and that was looking increasingly likely, why was she sitting back and doing nothing about it?

Could it have been an accident? Just chance that Sumi and I saw her?

I shook my head. "Anyone else and I might believe it, but this is Yukari. If she's accidentally involved with a major incident, I'll eat Koishi's hat. The problem is, she doesn't seem to have actually done anything else, so I've got no idea what her goal is."

What about the obvious? Everyone else seems to want a specific effect out of getting the right urban legend. Maybe there's one in particular Yukari's after for herself?

I tilted my head, resting it on Greg's shoulder as I thought. It was plausible, but there was an obvious problem there. "She's arguably the most powerful and the most versatile youkai in Gensokyo. Could an urban legend actually do anything for her?"

Well, considering what Remilia's did to her, it's possible. Or maybe she wants the urban legend for someone else.

The thought sounded innocent, but I could feel Greg freeze, as the tension that had been gradually leaving returned in force.

Could it be an assassination attempt? What if the entire point of the incident was Remilia's urban legend? We were so focused on what urban legend she got, we never asked how she got it.

Or who she got it from. Because Greg was right, that was possible. And while I didn't know why Yukari would want Remilia dead, there were plausible explanations for that, and if this was a murder attempt, then Yukari's complete absence from this incident was her alibi. But that was extremely dangerous. Even aside from the dangers of accusing Yukari of attempted murder, or the backlash from the Scarlet Devil Mansion should we be wrong (or if they just didn't believe us)... what if it all proved true? Because while it wasn't proven officially, everyone knew Yukari was the one really behind the spellcard rules. And if she'd circumvented those rules to murder Remilia, even unsuccessfully, then those rules would break. Flandre and Sakuya would be out for blood, and others would be forced to respond in kind. Spellcards would become a thing of the past overnight.

I closed my eyes, concentrating on what I could pick up from Sakuya and Flandre. Their battle still seemed to be going strong, but how confident was I that they couldn't hear me? It didn't matter. I had to warn him before he said something that couldn't be taken back. I grabbed his shoulder to pull myself up, whispering directly into his ear.

"Do not voice that thought. Not unless you're certain, maybe not even then. It would be war."

But the story I remembered, the one that resembles Remilia's urban legend. It hasn't been forgotten, it's a popular novel. The series is still on best-seller lists. It hasn't faded into legend in any respect. It shouldn't be in Gensokyo. Not unless someone brought it here.

There were still innocent explanations, I reminded myself. Remilia could have sought it out, the degree of the urban legend could have been accidental, or we might be on the wrong track entirely. This didn't have to mean what we both suspected it meant. But if Greg was right, and that book could be found, it was proof. Final proof of what the urban legend was (assuming the story matched the vampire's symptoms), and evidence that someone with access to earth was involved. But we couldn't search on our own, and did we dare getting our captors to look for it?

The spellcard battle between Sakuya and Flandre was winding down. Whichever decision was going to be made, we had to make it now.

[-]Get Greg to describe the book to Sakuya in detail, ask her to look for it. If the incident really was cover for an assassination attempt, you need to know now.
[-]Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.
[-]Forget about this line of thought. You don't need the book, and the questions it would raise aren't worth the answers it might provide.
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Major plot decision ahead. Even though there are three options, there's really only just two.
1) Sic SDM directly on Yukari for a slight suspicion
2) Don't sic SDM directly on Yukari. Revealing Remilia's affliction will have no proof attached to it.

Put bluntly, option 1 isn't correct for a very simple reason - there are always clues to correct answers of choices like these presented in the story. Which means, a statement "Yukari used an urban legend as an assassination attempt against Remilia" must have a clue pointing to it earlier in the story for it to be correct. Which means she'd need to have a motive to remove SDM after taking the trouble of keeping them around for so long, since means and opportunity are obvious. There is no such clue.

Thus, this leaves us with option two. Our task right now isn't to obtain means of revenge or retaliation towards some distant, faraway foe, which might not even be the culprit. In all likelihood, Remi asked for a copy directly from Yukari, who then cheerfully tossed some more copies of it into village's library and/or Kourindou without thinking too hard about it. With that scenario, finding a book wouldn't prove a thing, but a mere possibility would be enough to get SDM to act like it's an NAP violation.
Our task right now is to cure Remilia then skedaddle the fuck outta there, nothing else. In the novel, Dracula was defeated by putting a knife in his heart (and decapitating him, but it's gruesome enough that we can probably skip this). Remilia is powerful enough that probably not even this will kill her - needs to be a stake. If SDM tries to kill us after we're done helping them and all hope seems lost, maybe THEN we can point them towards Yukari as a last-ditch measure. Not before.

[x] Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.

Simply confirm the existence of the book, just to make sure we're on the right track with our diagnosis. There is no need to even open it or dwell on it any further.
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[X]Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.
Sakuya's a little occupied at the moment.
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[X]Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.

Whoa, thats one hell of a revelation. Or misunderstanding.

This is getting more and more exciting.
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[X]Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.
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[x] Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.

Since Anon made a pretty smart analysis I've got no choice but to vote for this
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[X]Try to get a look at Remilia's library/bookshelf/wherever she might have kept the book. You might be able to get your answers without raising suspicion, at least not too much.

What would you do if you knew a secret that could start a war? For most people, even most youkai, it's merely a funny question. Too vague to be readily answered, to the point where the list of clarifying questions is longer than the list of actual answers, but it's an unlikely enough situation that the question is met with amusement.

Unless, of course, a satori is the one asking it. Then you get a lot of nervous looks, and the same questions, but asked more seriously. Koishi used to get a kick out of doing that, once upon a time. But all games aside, it is a question any satori needs to ask themselves. We learn secrets, just by being near people. People in power rarely get there without bloodying their hands, and I always know where the bodies are buried.

Most satori decide not to meddle, make a pretense of ignorance, and simply attempt to live in peace. Which is often a doomed attempt, but it's the best of a bad situation. Some try their hand at blackmail, aiming to take advantage and obtain power of their own. Their success varies, but the resulting hatred does not. A naive few make an attempt at justice, at proving that sunlight is the best disinfectant and the truth will set you free. Mostly it frees them from the mortal coil, but if they survive their first revolution, they're usually pretty jaded by the second.

As for my answer? There's a reason I live deep underground. No, when people have secrets they'll kill for, the only way for a satori to stay out of it is to stay far away from it. Sure, I was in the middle of this incident this time around, but it might not escalate. Cold-hearted as it was, the fact of the matter was, I had protection that Greg did not. As a resident of Gensokyo I fell under the protection of the spellcard rules, and quite aside from that, my death would upset enough powerful youkai to guarantee some level of revenge. But if the spellcard rules are discarded, the danger increases exponentially.

We need a look at that book, Greg thought. Do we have time to look before Sakuya comes back?

I hesitated, but a particularly loud series of crashes answered that question. While Flandre's laughter had softened from maniacal to overly-enthusiastic, it would seem there were at least a couple spellcards left in that duel.

Well then. I- I'm really sorry to ask this of you, but... can you fly?

We were asking questions that could potentially start a war, shortly after I'd dredged up his worst memories, and he was wasting time worrying about a little pain on my end? It... I probably should have expected it. And I was suddenly aware of just how closely he was holding me. I shifted, getting up. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine. But what if Sakuya finishes here and realizes we're gone?"

Greg got up as well, helping to lift me and put me back on my feet. There's options. We can tell her we wanted to get further away from the fight, or that we wanted to see if Remilia had any relevant reading material. But we should hurry.

He was right. We could decide what to do later, but regardless, it was better to know. "Fine then. Hang on."

Being a youkai does have its perks. Being able to still fly and carry a passenger after a fight like that with no more than moderate pain was one of them. And flying was, in fact, a necessity, considering that the stairway to ground level had been obliterated. We were fortunate that there was a way out of the basement at all, or our search would have ended before it began. The damage was less severe once we'd escaped the immediate battlefield, but all the same, the floors had a new set of holes in them, and in a couple of rooms were noticeably not level. Or in one case, missing entirely.

It's like a warzone.

"The mansion is lucky," I told him. "Most battlegrounds in Gensokyo don't have a time-stopping maid to repair the place afterwards."

Really? The building looks like it's due to be condemned.

Gregor wasn't wrong. Regardless of Sakuya's ability to stop time, obtaining the materials was still a problem, and I doubt she could attempt to repair the inside of the manor with Remilia in her current state. Which meant this wasn't sustainable, not for much longer. And when the mansion finally collapsed, any hope of non-lethally containing Remilia would go with it.

I shook my head. Greg would borrow enough of our captors' worries as it was. Now, if we were looking for a book that Remilia herself had presumably read, there were only really two sensible places to look. The Scarlet Devil Library, which noticeably had not been on the tour we were given, or Remilia's bedroom. Which we had visited earlier, but we hadn't looked inside for any real length of time.

It was unlikely we'd have time to visit both; even one was going to be pushing it.

[-] Check the library. The best place to look for a needle is in a stack of needles, after all, and even if it isn't there, it's a fair bet Greg could find something useful in a magical library.
[-] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.
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[X] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.

Thanks for the update. Chance are that the book is there, unless Remilia pulls a fast one on us and stored it in the library later on.
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[X] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.

I agree with the reasoning of the person above. Hopefully they won't be too pissed about the trespassing. Then again, Marisa does it all the time, should be fine, hopefully.
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Both options are valid because the problem with finding the book is that SDM residents (sans Remi) right now simply do not know the problem with it's presence. Patchy could know about it, Sakuya could know about it. Any resident could know that it exists. So it's a coinflip, a shot in the dark. Or it would be, if not for this specific excerpt. >>203303

>[...] Patchouli speaks up. "Do you think we haven't tried that? It's obviously vampiric in nature, given her enhanced weaknesses, but it doesn't match any of the classic descriptions."

>No! You need more time and more information, so you have to undermine that somehow. "Classic descriptions? What, did you just reread your favorite vampire novels?"

>It's a weak rebuttal at best, but Patchouli draws herself up, offended.

This IMPLIES that Patchouli, master of the library hasn't correlated Remilia's condition to the book of our choice. Now, it's fiction, but if we imagine for a second that we're dealing with MAGICAL SPELLS that SHOOT MAGIC, you would presumably want to deal with magical tomes the same way an engineer would want to deal with manuals and technical documentary instead of sci-fi literature. And that reaction was because of that.

However, the quote implies that, if we assume that our theory is correct, if Remi did leave the book in the library, she did not make the connection between a book coming to a shelf on her library and Remilia's transformation. Meaning you could put explosive runes or some other car bomb in book form equivalent inside her library and nobody would notice. If that is seriously the case, they got a lot more problems than a vampire on the loose. And if Remi didn't ask for help all the time she was under duress of hunger, she probably wouldn't want to make a mistake.

Just to be frank, there's still a chance we fukken fail here, but it's a better bet than the other choice, so let the dice roll where they may.

[x] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.
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[x] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.

Here to show support \(^ᵕ̳^)/
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[x] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.
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[x] Check the library. The best place to look for a needle is in a stack of needles, after all, and even if it isn't there, it's a fair bet Greg could find something useful in a magical library.
Seija did nothing wrong.
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[x] Check Remilia's room. If Patchouli isn't aware of this mystery book, it's likely that it never made it to her library in the first place.

The library was tempting. There was a good chance the book was there, after all. Even if Remilia hadn't shown it to her servants, it's quite possible Sakuya or someone found it and just moved it to the library. But if that was the case, wouldn't she have at least looked through it? Sakuya is nothing if not diligent to the point of exhaustion. Any solution to this problem, by necessity, is something she either has not thought of or is incapable of carrying out.

Of course, it did cross my mind that being caught searching through magical archives with a magician by the people who magically bound us would have ended poorly. Greg may have been able to find something useful there, but he wouldn't have been focused on it, not really. Even now, he was thinking about all the damage that he had done to the mansion, as if it was something he was responsible for. Maybe I should have said something, but I didn't have the words, and I don't think he'd have believed them anyway. Usefulness of having an ally free aside, it made me wish Sumireko was here. I suspect she would have been able to distract him.

Instead, I flew to Remilia's room. The last time we'd stopped near the entrance, simply waiting, this time I flew right in.

A bedroom? Wait, not just any, it's Remilia's. But why- Greg shook his head, asking, "Satori, why are we here?"

I landed in the center of the room, putting Greg down. "Remilia has a love for drama. If she intended to keep something quiet, it was never worth talking about in the first place."

Yes, I'd say her urban legend is worth talking about. He looked around the room before turning back to me. "But she couldn't have thought this would happen. If Remilia had expected this, she'd have done something."

I kept my third eye on him, but otherwise I started looking through the furniture. Pulling open drawers, rifling through the dresses; anywhere that a book could possibly be hidden. "Of course. But if you're right and she had the book, she still expected to get an urban legend from it. And since the entire mansion doesn't know about it, that means it was going to be a surprise."

That makes sense, but it's not an observation you'd make about a stranger. "You know her," Greg said. "Knew her."

It was long before this incident, back when I was acting as a detective, but I had interacted with a good portion of Gensokyo, then, and Remilia had been more interesting than most. Genuine care for her subordinates, combined with a need to seem in control and a worry about looking foolish in front of Reimu. Worry for Patchouli, for Sakuya, for Meiling, but tinged with disappointment that the situation could not be resolved with danmaku, that it was too serious for her to invent a pretense to challenge the shrine maiden. Guilt for actually feeling that way in the first place, all buried under a mask that sipped tea and could make elegant small talk. An adult in touch with her inner child, or a child long used to acting as an adult? I wasn't sure.

"Only in passing," I said. "She enjoys meddling in Gensokyo's various incidents."

Case in point, Greg thought, his glance straying down towards the basement.

"Yes, well, it's usually not that serious." Though I considered myself fortunate that Sakuya played no part in stopping Utsuho that one time. I'd known the maid's reputation for ruthless efficiency well before experiencing it myself.

Greg was silent for a moment, trying to open the drawer of the end table by the bed and getting only a rattling noise. "This one's locked. Have you seen a key around?"

I shook my head, and Greg knelt down, peering into the keyhole. Looks mundane, and furniture locks are usually low security. I don't have any actual tools on me, but... "Satori, do you have a hairpin on you?"

I considered just blasting the lock with danmaku, but decided that would leave too much evidence and handed over the requested tool. Greg twisted the hairpin to snap it in half, inserting both pieces into the keyhole as he pushed them to opposite ends of the lock, holding one steady and wiggling the other.

Nothing on one, two is binding-

I couldn't help asking. "Why do you know how to do that?"

"Stage magic, remember? "Plus helping Sumi get into places we weren't supposed to. Greg shook his head, moving one of the hairpin pieces back to the front of the lock. "Could you let me concentrate? I'm not that practiced with this."

I shut up. One minute and three false starts later, the drawer was open, and we both looked inside with anticipation. I was disappointed. Papers. Some legal, some letters, what looked to be a diary, but everything yellowed with age. Nothing from this decade. Considering half of them were signed by a Scarlet that wasn't Remilia or Flandre, probably nothing from this century. While I have no doubt that Aya would find this fascinating, it wasn't what we were looking for.

Then Greg frowned, lifting up the drawer slightly before pulling it straight out of the end table.

I knew that drawer was too shallow. "Satori, in here!"

A hidden compartment, stored behind the drawer. And inside, a handful of much newer papers, and one book. Greg yanked out the book, hand trembling a little as we looked at it. This was it. The mysterious book from the outside world.

Small wonder Sakuya hadn't found it. For all her diligence, I doubt she'd thought to disassemble her lady's bedroom furniture. Now, what did we do with it?

[-] Put everything back and fly back downstairs. Sakuya and Flandre could finish their duel at any moment.
[-] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.
[-] Investigate thoroughly. I can't put my finger on it, but something still feels off.

((A couple links for ease of use.

The book: https://dresdenfiles.fandom.com/wiki/White_Night
A reference you may find useful: https://dresdenfiles.fandom.com/wiki/White_Court

Good luck.))
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[X] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.

Just because WE know what the book contains doesn't mean that Greg or Satori know what exactly is in the book. We should also figure out how she got it. Its quite possible she got it from Kourindou or just found it somewhere, but there could be more to it.

Disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about the Dresden Files nor do I know much about ULiL, take everything below with hefty skepticism.

As Far as I can see, there is no cure for vampires in the Dresden files, which means that you have to get rid of the source of the Urban Legend (AKA destroy the book). If that works, then we're good, but if The urban legend isn't destroyed with the book (because, ya know, the human village still believes in it) then we're gonna have to go on a propaganda campaign.

Also, is Greg the Lock Picking Lawyer?
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[-] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.

Greg should at least flip through the book to see if Remi annotated anything, or otherwise left a bookmark.

Greg definitely watches LPL
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[X] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.

>reference is a 2007 book
FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUCK OFFFFF

alright fine
>House Malvora vampires subsist on fear.
>Like the vampires of the other houses, the vampires of House Malvora have a weakness to the opposite of the emotion they feed on. Members of this house will, as stated by Jim Butcher, "get bad effects from real courage".
STEAL WINE
DRINK WINE (LIQUID COURAGE)
FFFFFF BREAK THE 999 BRACELET HOPE TO GOD WE DON'T BLOW UP
CAST VEIL IN ATTACK MODE
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>>203511
>>203512
Yes, that was a LockPickingLawyer reference. And no, Greg isn't the LPL; you can tell because it took him more than two seconds to open the lock.

>>203513
By the time I realized the amount of effort people were putting into guessing the urban legend, it was too late to change this particular plot point. Sorry for the misdirection on that one, but there was no way to reveal it without giving the mystery away.

Anyway, if you want the information from the Dresden Files relevant to this story, check out the spoiler tag below. Be aware that this is, in fact, a spoiler, so read through at your own risk.

White Court vampires, specifically the House Malvora ones, do match Remilia's symptoms very well. Pale complexion, pale blood, regeneration, increased speed and strength, along with no additional vampire weaknesses. In addition, the way they're hurt by true courage explains the Koakuma effect nicely. (The holy symbol had nothing to do with it. Koakuma charged into a fight where she was laughably outclassed to buy Patchouli a moment of time to get away. That was courage, and that burned Remilia badly enough to save Koakuma's life too.) However, there's one large flaw with this theory:

White Court vampires don't go feral. In point of fact, one of the longer running subplots of the series is how a specific white court vampire survives with very minimal feeding, never hurting anyone. They can lose control to their instincts, but they'd be back to normal either the moment they'd either fed, or once the target got away.

Greg's got his memory confused; feral vampires are a thing that happens in the book series, but importantly, it's with a different type of vampire that does not appear in that particular book. In short, this book is only a piece to the puzzle. It's a large piece, but there's something else going on.

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>>203514
in the future, I recommend not posting spoilers with things that characters within the story ought to say or do instead of putting lore tidbits directly from word of god
when people start to get mad (which includes me) that is your cue to start with ahaha.wav instead of responding because that's the only reasonable way of doing these things
incidentally, updates twice per week instead of once a week when
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>>203515
>in the future, I recommend not posting spoilers with things that characters within the story ought to say or do
>instead of putting lore tidbits directly from word of god, use alternatives
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>>203515
>Critiquing author on what details are finely put to story
>Asking for more updates
Pick one, anon.
[x] Investigate briefly.
Regardless of spoiler knowledge, I'd bet that Greg hadn't read that book in a while.
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>>203517
OP needs practice on laughing at people if requests are unreasonable
"updates when" is prime bait and opportunity for it I did nothing wrong
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[X] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.

Bet Greg's going to reread the whole book just for fun.

>>203514
I think it was executed flawlessly. When you look at it in hindsight, all the clues were there. The conversation with Patchy already states that the type of vampire was not a traditional one and Greg's clue states that it was from a more modern media. It also helps to set the tone for the story and fits with the consistency with what kind of urban legends we are dealing with now and clues us in with what to expect in the future.

It makes perfect sense that only an outsider can deal and solve these kinds of urban legends. I can't wait for what kinds of plans you have for this.

Thanks for the insight, never read Dredsen files so I would have never guessed it. Orz.
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[X] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.

Yeah I have nothing to say that my smarter peers have already not. But still here to show support
ヾ(*'▽'*)
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[-] Investigate briefly. I could check out those letters for anything important, and get Greg to look through the book and see if anything jogged his memory.

I felt down towards the basement and grimaced; if Sakuya was on to using Deflation World, there wasn't much time left in her duel against Flandre. Most people would take a minute to catch their breath, refocus, and finally realize Greg and I had left the vicinity, but Sakuya wasn't most people.

But I had to know. What all this had to do with Yukari, what could be done about Remilia's urban legend, and how such a specific effect had been produced. The risks didn't - okay, the risks did matter, but they were worth risking. This was important.

"Greg, look through the book! See if there's a bookmark, a plot twist, jogging your memory, anything!" I pulled out the letters and started looking at them.

And they were, in fact, letters. Correspondence addressed to Remilia. There were several from Suzunaan, politely stating that no, they had not received any new vampire-related literature since last time, please stop asking. A number from various sources about what looked like vampire-related urban legends. Byakuren had penned a letter about Vetala, while Miss Kamishirashawa (a schoolteacher, apparently?) had sent an essay covering Wendigoes, Chupacabras, and a couple other variants. Aya offered to keep an eye out in exchange for an interview with Flandre, Eirin said the very concept of lunar vampires was ridiculous, and Reimu threatened Remilia to stop causing trouble on pain of danmaku.

Clearly, she'd been busy. But by far the most interesting thing were the letters from Q. Nira.

To the mistress of the Scarlet Devil Mansion,

I too, have an interest in the Urban Legend incident, and I've noticed your inquiries around vampire-based urban legends. Like you, I've found that none of the existing urban legends quite fit what I require, and so I've gone searching further afield.

And while I have yet to find a certain answer, the search has given me ideas. And I know some of them would be of interest to you. For people believe what they have heard, even if that story differs substantially from the original tale.

So to work out the details, what exactly is it that you want, Remilia?

Simply leave your reply in a sealed envelope on the end table. It'll get to me.

Q. Nira


To Remilia Scarlet,

There's a couple stories that should be able to produce that effect. I believe this will work.

What I gain out of it is simple. Information. I will have only one opportunity to produce the urban legend I desire, leaving no room for mistakes. To be clear, I do believe that this method will work for your urban legend - there's a couple of stories related around manipulating emotions that should produce the effect you want - but I would rather be certain before I attempt anything with my servant.

Regarding my identity, I'll admit, it's a clever guess. Though if you'll want to find out the truth of it, you'll need to meet me in person. There are details to resolve, and this discussion is best done away from prying eyes, so I will meet you at midnight, in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. But if you wish for me to show, you'll come alone.

Q. Nira


It wasn't quite confirmation, but it was suggestive. Just once, I wish I'd had an answer that didn't raise more questions. Was Q. Nira the one that actually got Remilia her urban legend? Was the result a blunder made in good faith, or a trap the vampire fell into? For that matter, was Q. Nira an alias for Yukari? With what she said about picking up the envelope, she must have been able to infiltrate the Scarlet Devil Mansion undetected, and not many could escape Sakuya's eye.

"And what, exactly, are you doing?" This is getting tiresome.

I did not shriek, but it was a close call. I did gasp and drop the envelopes, which somehow managed to fall into my sleeves. Greg looked remarkably unaffected, despite us having been caught snooping. I knew he wasn't that calm - Can't let the tone be about wrongdoing, need to seem helpful, act as if the thought of sneaking around never even occurred to us - but he merely glanced up and turned a page in his book before speaking.

"Rereading my favorite vampire novels, actually."

Whatever Sakuya had expected, it wasn't that. The book? What?

"I know I mocked, uh..." Greg glanced up, thought, What was her name again?, shrugged, "your magician for just that, but Satori helped me jog my memory, and I remembered that there was a book from back home. One with vampires that were pale, with white blood, enhanced strength and speed, and none of the usual weaknesses. I suspected it might have made its way here, and I wanted to do something useful during all the danmaku, so I asked Satori to help me look for it. And, well..." Greg shut the book, holding it up for obvious display. "Anyway, did things go well with Flandre?"

"The mistress has calmed down, yes," Sakuya said as she took the book from Greg. It is from outside. Patchouli would have alerted me if they'd left the mansion or broken into the library, but I'd have remembered if something like this was stored in one of the secondary bookcases. I refuse to believe either of them could have smuggled this in, so... she looked over at the partially disassembled end table, Of course. Milady had a new hiding place. Why did she have to be clever about it now? The maid shook her head. "What exactly is this story?"

As Greg explained the details, something was bothering me about Sakuya's behavior, and I stopped to consider exactly what. She wasn't hiding her thoughts by stopping time. She wasn't using stopped time to respond instantly, or to read the book and letters in the course of a moment. And looking at the maid, her bearing was different from earlier. The perfect posture was still perfect, but it was a stiff, military perfect as opposed to the relaxed grace she normally moved with. The ever-present knife was being firmly gripped in one hand, instead of being twirled or seamlessly hidden. Her clothes were spotless, but it was a subtly different design from before; she must have switched to a fresh uniform. All of which meant... oh, of course. On the heels of fighting both Scarlet sisters, she had to be exhausted. She was doing her best to hide that because she was supposed to be the perfect elegant maid, but I suspected she couldn't quite live up to those titles right this minute.

In point of fact, I was pretty sure she didn't realize I'd accidentally hidden the pair of letters from Q. Nira. Which raised the question of what to do with this evidence.

[-] Come clean, show them to the maid now.
[-] Keep them hidden, decide what to do with them later.
[-] Get rid of the evidence. A carefully aimed danmaku bullet should annihilate them without ever being visible.

((I'm glad people are enjoying the story! For the record, I do want to get back to the twice weekly update schedule at some point, but I've come down with an unfortunate case of responsibility lately. Which isn't exactly a bad thing, if I'm honest, it's pretty good for me on a personal level, but it does mean I just don't have the same time for writing that I used to.

Though to be fair, that's been only half the issue. The other half is that the last few updates set actual important plot details in stone, and I really needed to stop, think things through, and make sure I wasn't painting myself into a corner. That at least shouldn't be as much of an issue going forwards; it's not really a spoiler to say that we've hit everything important you're going to find at the mansion, at least for now.

Speaking of which, this plot thread is going to wind down in a couple more updates. While I'm not sure on the exact number, a few more updates from now we should be done with the interior of the SDM, and it'll be time to refocus on Sumireko.))
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[X] Get rid of the evidence. A carefully aimed danmaku bullet should annihilate them without ever being visible.

How good is her memory? if she can remember this word for word the this, otherwise:

[X] Keep them hidden, decide what to do with them later.
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Ohoh, I have no idea about anything regarding Dersen files but the letter some juicy intel we can use.

>couple stories that should be able to produce that effect
Which to say that there are similar stories, and whose to say that that person didn't spread them around after Remilia got her book which eventually messed her desired urban legend effect on her on account of having multiple similar books around.

A follow-up action would be, as Meiling is doing, investigate the Human village, especially Suzunaan. Either that or Rinnosuke if it's viable in character.

>so I will meet you at midnight, in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost
This lead is a bit weak but it might be worth investigating around here. Maybe there might be some clues or eye witnesses.

>
What I gain out of it is simple. Information. I will have only one opportunity to produce the urban legend I desire, leaving no room for mistakes. To be clear, I do believe that this method will work for your urban legend - there's a couple of stories related around manipulating emotions that should produce the effect you want - but I would rather be certain before I attempt anything with my servant.
This letter gave us a name and their motivation. And a way we can use this to get us out.

Their mindset can be pushed from "Our fault" to "Her fault" by convincing Sakuya that Remilia for duped by her beneficiary because of "Just getting more information".

We just have to convince them that Q.Nira is the real culprit and the one that initialise the Urban legend and persuade them that the solution would be to find her and to "convince" her (and not us) to lift the urban legend spell.

Alternatively, we can also try to aim for a partnership by saying she could be the one that trapped us here and offering to help out. Nothing bring people together than having a common grudge.

If it works out well, we can get away scot free since we manged to redirect their wrath and objectives.

[X] Come clean, show them to the maid now.
-[X] Hit her fast and hard to keep her off balance (Metaphorically)
-[X] Trick her: Convince her that Q.Nira is the real culprit and that if they find her, they might be able to "convince" her to stop the Urban Legend. Oh, and that we are completely useless in finding her and should definitely let us go since we fulfilled our purpose.
-[-] Help her: Tell her about the clue in the letter and investigate them, put the hints together and help to either lift or mitigate the effects.

Sakuya's tired which means that we should have a higher chance of successfully negotiate things with her with one of the two ways, tricking her or helping her.

We can earnestly help them investigate Remilia's legend, break it legitimately and solve the mystery of Q.Nira since there is obviously alot more going on than what we see. That way, we can also find out how she did mange to make one and perhaps make more allies.

The other way would be to convince them to go o'gensokyo style and hunt our letter writer down while shrinking away from them. We don't have much of a stake with them or against Q.Nira and we can also continue investigating on our own pace.




If we get out, how about we spread a Urban Legend to turn Flandare's wings normal for petty reasons.
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no matter what, I don't think we can convince Sakuya to just let us go... but Its also probably easier to escape if we're "helping" them or if they're busy trying to find this Q.Nira person. So:
>>203531 here
changing my vote to
[X] Come clean, show them to the maid now.
-[X] Hit her fast and hard to keep her off balance (Metaphorically)
-[X] Trick her: Convince her that Q.Nira is the real culprit and that if they find her, they might be able to "convince" her to stop the Urban Legend. Oh, and that we are completely useless in finding her and should definitely let us go since we fulfilled our purpose.
[X] Help her: Tell her about the clue in the letter and investigate them, put the hints together and help to either lift or mitigate the effects.

Still don't think we have Cirno's chance in hell of being set free, but might as well try.
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[x] Come clean, show them to the maid now.
-[x] Carefully look for an opportunity to knock out Sakuya.

Should we reveal the letters later, people would think that they could be fabricated. Their effect - a clear proof of someone named Q. Nira's involvement would be void. Incidentally, it seems to be our one and maybe only chance to exploit the situation to our benefit. Taking Sakuya hostage could force our captors to undo the bindings, which with Sakuya's absence would let us pull off a desperate escape under the veil. I do not think we can help with any meaningful capacity from this point, we have a lot of promised obligations towards others in terms of urban legends - Alice, Sumi and Satori, Sumi could fukken die out there without our help and most importantly, within the story, it's still daytime.
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[x] Come clean, show them to the maid now.
-[x] Carefully look for an opportunity to knock out Sakuya.

I'd like to remind everyone at this time that Q. Nira is still very likely to be Yukari or at least mistaken for her. We can't directly shift blame toward Yukari in any way since, as stated previously, that would probably start a war. I'd rather not risk such things and only give the objective information.
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[X] Keep them hidden, decide what to do with them later.
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>Q. Nira
>Q is pronounced【キュー】in Japanese
>Kyuu Nira
>Yuukarin
Oh god, it’s worse than we thought.
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>>203537
Yeah, well, Q could also be pronounced as Kyu rather than Kyuu. That would make it Yukarin instead, which, given how the letters are supposed to be delivered straight from the desk is much more plausible.

sic the SDM on her do it do it do it
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>>203538
>Q could also be pronounced as Kyu rather than Kyuu
Q is pronounced /ˈkjuː/, with the u sound drawn out. This is represented in Japanese by drawing out the /u/ for an additional mora, usually romanized as either uu or ū.
Nobody pronounces Q with a short /u/ unless they’re specifically trying to disprove the statement “nobody pronounces Q with a short /u/.”
All that being said, obvious joke is evidently not obvious.
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Slight edit to the most popular vote
[X] Come clean, show them to the maid now.
-[X] Hit her fast and hard to keep her off balance (Metaphorically)
-[X] Convince her that Q.Nira is the real culprit behind Remillia's state and that if they find her, they might be able to "convince" her to stop the Urban Legend.
-[X] Mention that even though we are useless for this step, Greg has seems to have a genuine interest in helping Remilia (see the bit with the pictures), asking to leave, but give them a way to contact/consult with us. (via patchy magic).

It sets us free while still appearing diplomatic and cooperative, the authenticity is backed by satori's ability and probably Greg's reaction, and all they want from us is information, which we can give via magic book telephone.
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[X] Come clean, show them to the maid now.

The letters were real, but that wasn't a guarantee they'd be believed. Given how they implicated this Q. Nira in Remilia's urban legend, producing them later would be too convenient. Without proof that I hadn't faked them, they'd be considered fake. Especially without a convincing explanation for why I hid them.

But right here, right now, Sakuya believed us. Due to the timing, the battle with Remilia, and everything else, she'd accepted that we couldn't have faked this. In a sense, the awkwardness of the moment was what made it authentic. That said, there was no reason to make it look like I was hiding anything. I took a moment to kneel down, as if just picking up the letters in question.

"There's more," I said, producing the definitely-not-previously-hidden papers. "I didn't have time to read through all of these, but there was someone else in contact with Remilia. She used the alias Q. Nira, and claimed she could provide an urban legend."

Sakuya went very still. Greg's response was rather more reflexive. "Isn't that the same person who tried to sic Alice on us?"

Half a moment passed, and the letters were quite literally torn from my hand. Another half a moment and the maid was in Gregor's face, the papers crumpled in her fist. "Explain. Now."

Greg stumbled backwards, the words rushing out as he tried to get some space. "It was another letter! We were just in the woods, on the way to Eientei, and Alice found us and almost fought us! Q. Nira tried to get her to capture us!"

Sakuya didn't relent."Alice would not try to capture you and fail."

If the situation was less serious, I would have freely expressed my irritation at both that assessment and the situation in general. As it was, I took a moment to entertain the fantasy of knocking out Sakuya, but rejected it as unfeasible. "It didn't come to a fight," I said, gesturing for the maid's attention. "Greg realized she was more interested in getting her own urban legend than stopping the incident."

She... right. The puppeteer is more obsessed with dolls than Marisa with stealing things. The maid paused, glancing back towards me. "And you just got her one, that easily?"

There were a lot of potential sarcastic remarks to that, but my better judgement won out. "If getting the urban legend you wanted was that easy, I'd have fixed Koishi by now. And Remilia wouldn't have ended up with that."

"We agreed to work in that direction." Greg said. Don't provoke her, Satori! "Honestly, we'd barely even started. We were going to look into things in the human village after I got first aid from Eientei."

Sakuya did stop time after that, blurring back to a more respectable distance. Though with how turbulent her thoughts were, I don't think it helped much. "If Alice was working with you, why wasn't she at Eientei?"

Greg hesitated, torn between trying to minimize Alice's involvement and actually tell the truth. So I made the decision for him. "After the mess with Nitori, we thought laying low was a better bet." I said. "We had intended to hide Alice as an ace in the hole, both because she didn't want her involvement known, and to use her cottage as a fallback position."

Sakuya paused, considering it, and I decided to lay the bait. "We attempted to call her in once Marisa showed up, but she was attacked by Ran Yakumo."

And that got the maid's full attention. "Why would Yukari be involved?"

Some of Sakuya's usual focus had returned, and I wasn't able to get much from her mind. (As opposed to the rapidly escalating concern, worry, and what are you doing Satori from Greg.) But that didn't matter. I'd been able to read the most important thing, which was her uncertainty. She could believe Yukari was involved, (it was always a possibility, with any incident) but she wasn't sure of it.

And that was perfect. I didn't want to start a war, both because it could get us all killed, and I wasn't quite sure Yukari was actually the culprit. But without the smoking gun that was "Maribel", the evidence was merely suggestive, and I was more than willing to start an investigation. Anything that pointed Sakuya in another direction was worthwhile, because whether she realized it or not, she was on a timer. Regardless of what Alice or Sumireko were up to, it was only a matter of time before news of my kidnapping reached Koishi and the Underground. And if Sakuya didn't release me and Greg by the time my pets arrived, there wouldn't be a mansion left.

"I'm not sure," I told her. "Alice relayed that bit of information through a doll; I didn't see Ran myself, and I haven't seen Yukari at all. At this point, you have all the information we do."

The maid considered it for a moment, froze time to think about it, told us to wait here, and vanished.

[-] To be continued.
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Awesome update. Always hyped to see this. Gonna ask though are we nearing a POV switch?
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Actually, yes! I was going to write the next update from Sakuya's perspective. The rough plan is to get an idea of what the SDM crew is thinking and what they plan to do next, before switching back to Sumireko for a while.

There's also the potential for an interlude chapter or two before the Sumireko switch. It hit me recently that I haven't shown any of the rest of Gensokyo's reaction to the Eientei fight, and Sakuya kicked a hornet's nest there.
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This is a really great ongoing thread and I love your portrayal of satori and the spell card system. You even got me to care about sumeriko which I was not expecting at all.
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>Anything that pointed Sakuya in another direction was worthwhile, because whether she realized it or not, she was on a timer. Regardless of what Alice or Sumireko were up to, it was only a matter of time before news of my kidnapping reached Koishi and the Underground. And if Sakuya didn't release me and Greg by the time my pets arrived, there wouldn't be a mansion left.

KKHTA arc confirmed
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Update is in progress. Work has been rough this week, so it'll be another day or two before it comes out.

That said, there will be an update for last week and one for this week. I'm not interested in going below one update per week.
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Waiting warmly
ヾ(*'▽'*)
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[x] What's Sakuya up to?

Nothing was ever simple. Simply finding out about Sumireko required several danmaku duels until I'd defeated someone who actually knew something. Then there was the simply infuriating first meeting, chasing down several false leads as to the witch's location, and the entire mess that was Eientei. (I was not looking forwards to the eventual confrontation with Eirin. I am certain she understands why I went to such lengths. I am equally certain that understanding does not imply forgiveness.)

And immediately afterwards, we found that even the incident's instigators could not quickly reverse an urban legend's effects, but their... testing or presence I'm not certain (there have been precious few straight answers lately) - but whatever it was made my mistress significantly more difficult to subdue than usual. Enough so for the younger mistress to lose control and require a duel of her own to avoid casualties.

And because all of that was not enough, Yukari may be involved.

It's par for the course, really. A maid's entire job is cleaning up messes. All the same, milady has really outdone herself this time.

I stopped by the basement first, letting the young mistress know that I'd found our prisoners, but needed to discuss the latest developments with Patchouli. Managing Flandre was difficult at the best of times, and while she did recognize the seriousness of the situation, she was in other ways still a child. Still, she ultimately agreed to escort them back out, and that would need to be good enough. Her cracked emotional crystals would need to be fixed, soon, but with her fury spent on our duel, the prisoners would be safe. Probably.

Flying through the mansion was slower than usual. A couple of rooms were on the verge of collapse, and the hallway to the western guest rooms had, in fact, caved in. Half the walls would need to be rebuilt, to say nothing of redoing the plumbing and wiring. As well as replacing the furniture... A brief detour allowed me to instruct the fairy maids regarding the removal of debris. It wasn't much, and wouldn't touch the worst of the problem, but it would still save me hours of time once it was time to repair the mansion.

That was not optimism, it was realism. A maid may fail to meet her lady's whims, but never her lady's needs.

Another minute of flight, and I was outside, shielding my eyes from the sun's glare. I saw Tenshi notice my exit and fly in to talk, and stopped time to consider my response. This was normally the time I'd use for carefully considering what the other person, but Tenshi was as predictable as she was spoiled. No, the pause was for me to keep hold of myself and avoid saying anything regrettable.

I'll admit, it was tempting to simply slip past in frozen time. But if the celestial did not receive her answers from me, she might try to get them from Flandre. And while half of Gensokyo would enjoy seeing whether the ability to destroy absolutely anything extended to Tenshi's attitude, milady would be upset if the mansion was completely destroyed.

"Sakuya!"

I allowed myself to sigh as the celestial swooped down. "Yes, Tenshi?"

"When are you going to actually fix your mansion? I knew I'd be slumming it down here regardless, but this is ridiculous!"

"I assure you, we're working as quickly as possible."

"Well, work faster! Living in a tent is beneath my dignity!"

"I am aware of your feelings on the matter. Know that your presence inspires everyone to go and work harder." Mostly the going part.

"Hmph. At least you're aware of the honor. Remember, it's only until that banquet in heaven is ready!" An honor I fully intended to give over to Milady as soon as she was healed. It was only fair.

Unfortunately, we needed Tenshi. As Patchouli had pointed out, her ability to manipulate the weather to sun or rain kept my mistress from fleeing in her berserk state, and her sheer power meant she was an additional line of defense. The logic was solid, and had worked so far. Despite that, I had yet to forgive her for the suggestion.

At least Tenshi didn't have any new complaints this time, which allowed me to make an excuse and leave. I elected to make the remainder of my journey in stopped time, ending in Patchouli's tent.

Well, tent was perhaps the wrong word. I'd started with the largest tent I could find, used space manipulation to double its size, Patchouli had then used a ritual to stabilize it, and we'd taken care to transport the most important books and the tools from the library. It was all done elegantly, efficiently, and perhaps most relevant to the point, recently.

But apparently that effort was no match for the librarian's inherent aura of clutter. Even with Koakuma flitting about, ordering the stacks of books, replacing candles, and generally cleaning... well, I almost wondered if Patchouli had created a spell for the sole purpose of generating dust. The only area approaching organization was the ritual circle in the center, (which admittedly was clean even by my standards), but aside from that... I sighed. More work to do, but... later.

Still, the important thing was the ritual circle itself. As I understood it, it was the same magic Patchouli had used to communicate with Marisa at range. Except instead of being keyed to a book, it was keyed to a certain pair of magical bindings.

"Miss Patchouli," I greeted her, landing heavily. "Did everything come through loud and clear?"

The mage arose from the middle of the circle, looking pale. Paler than usual. "Only half of their conversations," she said. "Satori was reading his mind for most of it. I suppose it figures. She's not even here and she's still annoying."

"I don't suppose there's a way to work detecting thoughts into the bindings?"

"Getting sound in there was already a coup, with all the other enchantments on them. Detecting thoughts... I'm not sure where I'd even start with that."

That wasn't an admission I'd expected from Patchy, and I stopped to actually look at her. She looked as tired as I felt, and she had been throwing around a fair bit of magic recently. "Patchy, is your asthma..."

"It isn't that. Satori thinks Yukari's behind everything."

That was the topic I wanted to talk about. It wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. "Is this because of her servant showing up at Eientei?"

"Hah!" The laugh was short, and bitter. "That's only the third or fourth most suspicious thing."

I sighed, sitting down in a chair. "You'd better give me the details."
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Nice pic, kek.

Thanks for the update!
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Thanks for the update Soul!
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>And if Sakuya didn't release me and Greg by the time my pets arrived, there wouldn't be a mansion left.
And then this would be a Touhou Manga.
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Alright, I'm officially declaring a hiatus. I've gotten a bit burned out on writing as of late, and it's better to officially say so and pause USiL than to let the update speed just die off like it's been doing. I'm not really sure when I'll actually get back to this, but I'm hoping a month or two off will recharge my writing batteries.

Until then.
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Stay healthy and rest up Soul, we will be waiting patiently for your return.
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Here’s hoping that this story returns now that it’s been a full month, hope your feeling better soul.
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Don't rush them, let them come back when they want, I'm happy to wait as long as the quality is the same.
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lurker waiting for next update
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I mean, sure, but what do you expect? this site's almost dead anyways. Heck, that CYOA on the reddit gets 10x the attention than anything on here
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>>203579
Why don't you go back to leddit and stay there, then, friend?
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? since when did I say I preferred it? I was just pointing it out.
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>>203581
Every one of you zoomers who comes in going "hurr durr dead site" aren't ever happy unless a place is full-on verbal diarrhea.
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Honestly, I might cross-post this to spacebattles or fanfiction.net. Haven't decided one way or another on it, but it's definitely an option, and would likely get the story a bit more attention.

But that's not really the point, now is it? Urban Student in Limbo will resume Saturday, June 10th.

(Honestly, I wanted to post an update now, and I did make some progress on it, but work has been killing me this past week, so I'm giving myself a bit of leeway room.)
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NICE, loving this story so far, look forward to seeing your work.
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[-]Back to Satori.

With Sakuya gone, the tension drained out of me. As did the adrenaline, the various aches and pains reminding me just how badly Remilia had kicked my ass. I didn't think anything was broken, but I wasn't sure I could fight Cirno right now, let alone anyone else. I groaned, staggering over to one of the chairs and sinking gingerly into it. Greg approached me, holding one arm in the other, looking hesitant. "Satori..."

Right. Greg had a lot of anxiousness and fear whirling around, so I couldn't rest just yet. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "Don't worry, Greg. Alice is barely involved. The only relevant knowledge she might have is why Ran attacked, and she's strong enough to hold her own against most of Gensokyo. Sakuya's not going to pick that fight for minimal gain."

Greg glanced around, but there was no sign of Flandre just yet. Sumi and I didn't know much more than that ourselves, but Sakuya tore Eientei apart getting to us. You weren't even a part of the incident, and she kidnapped you anyway!

"She at least had reasonable expectation to think you and Sumireko knew more. As for me... what's the expression? In for a penny, in for a pound? Sakuya had already done all that damage, she must have figured my ability would be useful."

That, or that I'd make a good hostage, but I wasn't bringing that up.

Greg shook his head. Maybe. It's just... these people are getting desperate, and for good reason!

"That's why I gave them the lead on Yukari."

"And Sakuya won't just go in guns blazing like she did with us?"

Part of me hoped she tried. "Yukari's too strong for that. In point of fact, she's probably the single most powerful youkai in Gensokyo. The Scarlet Devil Mansion working together might be able to take her."

"If she's that strong," why didn't we ask her for help? "what would be so bad about them fighting her?"

I sighed. Even aside from the unvoiced concern, how could I really explain this? "The problem isn't her strength, it's what Yukari represents. Officially, the spellcard rules were the work of the Hakruei shrine maiden. Unofficially, everyone heavily suspects Yukari was behind it all, and it's her power that keeps most of Gensokyo in line. If she's found to be violating those rules, especially if she did it to eliminate a rival, the spellcard rules go up in smoke."

By the lack of immediate reaction from Greg, I knew he didn't get it. And from his thoughts, he knew he didn't quite get it, but he was working through the implications. After a minute or so's pause, he finally gave up and asked, "Just how bad is it if Gensokyo loses the spellcard rules?"

"It wouldn't be that bad," Flandre said. "I might get to play with people more often."

I hadn't heard her approach. Which meant both that I was tired and not paying enough attention and... wait, how much did she hear? My heart stopped for an instant until I realized I was only getting idle curiosity from the vampire. (That and a visualization of her "playing" with Marisa, which I really didn't need to see.) I should have picked up on that instantly, come to think of it. Flandre was never the most controlled youkai, and if she'd overheard anything important, she'd just demand answers immediately.

Or kill us. With Flandre, that's always within the realm of possibility.

Greg gave Flandre an odd look. "Do you not have guests often? I've only been here a couple days, but it seems like everyone's up to fight at the drop of a hat."

"Remilia gets to have guests. I don't."

I covered a wince. Greg didn't actually know Flandre was usually locked in the basement. "Greg, as far as Gensokyo's concerned, you're an outsider, and that gives youkai leeway to play fast and loose with the spellcard rules. That brawl in the basement? That's what a fight between youkai would have looked like before. Without one side keeping the other alive because they're family."

Flandre paused, putting a hand to her mouth as she smirked. "Oh, the loser gets to live a little longer anyway. Patchy says most youkai prefer live prey."

Greg coughed, taking a step back and glancing away. "I see."

The vampire's smirk became fractionally more smug as she turned towards me. "Though I'm surprised you're so worried about the spellcard rules. Things would be better for you if they broke down."

"Me?" I stopped, read her mind, and frowned. "People wouldn't suddenly stop caring about their secrets just because there's real danger involved."

"Really? A lot of people just blurt out secrets when they're in real trouble. Personal ones, like 'I love you', or some such. Because at some point, the only secret that matters is who's going to eat who."

I shuddered, and turned my third eye away from the vampire. It took me a moment to find my voice. "If things got that bad, being hated wouldn't matter either."

Greg spoke up, sounding thoughtful. "Flandre, you don't seem to be bothered by Satori's mind-reading."

"Of course not. My sister would care, but I've got nothing to hide." The vampire laughed, but there was no humor in it. "Now come on. I'm going to find Sakuya, and you're coming with me."

That... wait. Sakuya had left the mansion to discuss things with Patchouli, and Flandre knew that. Which meant that this little mission to investigate Remilia was over, and my third eye was going to be sealed again. It was too soon! I still needed to talk with Greg about what he'd showed me, about his past, and I didn't want to navigate that minefield without seeing his thoughts. But there was no way we were going to have that conversation in front of Flandre, not in any detail. But... would we even get a chance to talk, afterwards?

[-]I should at least say something now, even if time is short.
[-]A quick reassurance isn't going to be enough. I need more time to talk with him.

((I seem to be bad at this whole scheduling updates thing. Oops.))
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[-]I should at least say something now, even if time is short.
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[x] A quick reassurance isn't going to be enough. I need more time to talk with him.
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[-]I should at least say something now, even if time is short,

made under the assumption that the other option is to delay the conversation and not to have it in greater depth
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Also, welcome back =)
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[-]I should at least say something now, even if time is short.

Return of the king
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Thanks, it's good to be back!

[-] Talk as much as time allows.

Flandre quite literally herded us out of the mansion. As in, her four of a kind spellcard was involved, and if either of us lagged behind, she started actually shooting bullets. Not many, and not seriously - it was a pattern more appropriate to a fairy maid than the younger Scarlet sister - but under the circumstances, it was intensely irritating.

At least she stopped the horseplay upon reaching the mansion's front entrance, reforming and grabbing an umbrella to shade herself from the sun. I took a couple of deep breaths and looked at Gregor. He was worried. He was thinking about the future, about whatever Sakuya was going to decide, whether he had a way to fix Remilia, and whether he could seem useful enough to stay the maid's hand (a part of me noted with approval that he'd realized Sakuya was the one truly in control, despite her nominal deference to Flandre). But that was only the surface. Despite it being an extremely valid reason to be worried, he was using that to distract himself.

What was the tack I should take here, anyway? Flandre was within hearing distance, so I couldn't bring up Maribel by name. For that matter, I couldn't talk about anything in Greg's memories in any detail, as it would raise questions the vampire would want me to answer. Maybe it would be better to wait until we were alone. Then... no. I was stalling. That wasn't like me.

"Greg. About what you showed me earlier..." With those words, I had his full attention, and I could practically feel the pit in his stomach. It was enough to make me second-guess myself, but at this point I was already committed. "Don't worry too much about it. I know you will, I know you're not proud of it, but I'm a satori. I see a lot of that sort of thing."

So that's it, then. It's just to be expected, Greg thought. I didn't wait for him to speak.

"To be blunt, yes. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and yours at least are not literal. I've seen much worse."

Because morality should absolutely be graded on a curve, he thought, not looking at me. I... what? Did he want it to be a problem? I was at something of a loss, and after an all-too-long moment, he spoke. "It's okay, you don't have to pretend. I... I saw your initial reaction."

The words didn't make sense. "Greg, what are you talking about?"

He didn't answer, but I saw his memory of showing me everything, of me taking a step back, my features frozen in shock and fear. I flinched. That... he wasn't lying, I was reading his mind, he couldn't be lying, but that's not what I did! The only time I reacted like that was... oh, hell. That was when I realized Maribel had to be Yukari, which was right at the end of going through Greg's memories. Which I couldn't explain in so many words in front of the bloody vampire!

"Greg, that wasn't about you. That was, you know," I bit my lip, trying to find the right words, "your teacher. She shouldn't have been there. And the fact that she was, and the things that she did were disturbing on multiple levels."

Greg hesitated, and I could feel his turmoil. He didn't believe me... or he wanted to, but was afraid to, somehow? And then the damn vampire interrupted. "What's all this about a teacher?"

I wasn't getting anything but idle curiosity from Flandre, but all the same, I had no idea how to safely answer that. Fortunately, Greg was still quick with his words. "Maribel was a substitute teacher I had for a while, years ago. She took issue with my behavior. Her discipline was unpleasant, but... " He sighed, sounding tired. "It was nothing I didn't deserve."

Because of course that's the part he would focus on. "Deserved? You were a child!"

"Don't tell me that I didn't know any better," he said. "Just don't."

"Fine! You were being a lying manipulative brat! Is that what you wanted to hear?" That shut him up for a minute, and I took a deep breath to steady myself. I was trying to be on his side, why was he making this so difficult? "People like to pretend children are innocent, and in some ways they might be, but they're also selfish, dishonest, and vicious. You of all people know this." He'd better, he'd lived that particular experience from both ends.

"Ooh," Flandres said, drawing the sound out as she looked on. "Should I be offended?"

I ignored her, grabbing Greg's wrists and forcing him to face me, even if he wouldn't look at me. "But we accept that, on some level, not because that kind of childish behavior is right, but because we expect the children to grow out of it. Which you did. Unless you're going to tell me you're the same person now that you were back then?"

That startled him enough to actually look at me. "No! No."

"Then quit spiraling over this. You can't obsess over your past mistakes. It'll destroy you."

He stopped, actually thinking about it. And eventually he sighed. "You sounded like Sumireko, just now."

There was only one appropriate response to that. "Then she's occasionally capable of wisdom."

That got a smile out of him, if a small one. She is right a lot, you know. Not as often as she likes to think, but... yeah. I know. It's just... I may have magically suppressed those memories, and when that broke, it kind of hit me all at once, all over again. And having to put on this act in front of Sakuya and co isn't helping.

I rubbed the bridge of my nose, sighing. "If that was the case, why did you ask me to look in the first place?"

"It was necessary. And to be honest, I thought I'd come to terms with it." Considering what I'd done, I don't think Maribel's reaction was entirely unwarranted. Things could have been a lot worse.

"Greg, I saw your memory of that 'discipline', and I'm uniquely qualified to tell you that it was cruel."

It wasn't quite a smile, but Greg looked thoughtful. "Heh. I suppose you would be."

He was thinking about what my statement and his experience implied about my mind-reading abilities, but I was content to leave him those trains of thought for now. It wasn't an immediate problem, and I could disabuse him of any incorrect notions later.

"Finally." Flandre said, rolling her eyes. "Are you two done?"

"I think so," Greg said, glancing at me. "Honestly, I'm surprised you let us talk this long."

"Oh, it wasn't for your sake," Sakuya said. Which startled me badly, because she simply hadn't been there an instant ago. "The conversation was worth listening to. After all, I've met Maribel, so I find it fascinating that she used to teach your friend."

[-] Find out what the fallout is going to be.
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UH OH, if she really knows who Maribel is, things are gonna get even more complicated.
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Oh.
Oh no
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>>203605
Honestly, it makes things easier for us if they think that Maribel = Yukari. It doesn't make things easier for them.
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>>203607

I'm pretty sure in this case Maribel *is* Yukari as Maribel from what i recall shouldn't even likely be born yet as she inherits the school club that Sumireko has created (and I think her friend is sumireko's descendant... I might be misremembering that bit though.)
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>>203608
it's magic I don't have to explain it
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yanno, despite the whole Yukari/Maribel thing going on with our character, I'm pretty sure its a red herring as far as the Q.nira plot goes, an unfortunate bit of a gambit pileup. instead its probably still on course for the canon culprits

after all, Remilia is the one who organized/was the face of the Lunar invasion. thus this attack on her is likely the fault of the Lunarians that in canon were the masterminds behind the occult balls and much of what was involved iirc.
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Man this quest is great and I'm happy to see it back. Btw if you really are thinking of cross-posting I recommend using Spacebattles over Fanfiction.net easier to vote that way.
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I really appreciate how the story keeps on moving.

One common pitfall of stories (specifically quests) inserting characters into canon scenarios is that they focus on the story that has already been told in the original work, regurgitating plot points, ultimately just becoming a retelling from another POV.
(Bonus points if it's an Isekai+Power Fantasy).

Pointing that out, since this story managed to avoid them. By tying aspects not featured in the original work into the plot that itself has changed meaningfully from by the introduction of new elements, yours becomes a work that for the most part can on its own.

On a personal note of appreciation, I like the focus on showcasing character's thought processes and analytical elucidation of their emotions in their interactions.
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skelly
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Yeah, this one's on me. Last week was a vacation for me (as in, actual paid time off from work), and I neglected to mention it here. Mostly because I thought I'd write during it anyway, but that ended up not happening.

Regardless, update is in progress, and should be out on Monday.
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wait for it
lol
lmao
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[-] Find out what the fallout is going to be.

With Sakuya's statement, it felt like time had stopped. Not that it actually had, Sakuya's power didn't extend to others, but there was nothing I could say to that. The resemblance between Maribel and Yukari was uncanny. Greg may have never met the gap youkai, but I had, and I'd seen his memories. It was plausible for him to miss the connection, but I had no excuse. And Sakuya knew this.

Greg was looking down at the ground, but he was still the one who responded first. "What did she do to you?"

What is he- ah. Traumatic memories. Of course. "Maribel's visit here was uneventful."

He exhaled and looked up, meeting Sakuya's gaze. "Then why is it important that I met her? The reason I asked Satori to look at those memories was to confirm that Remilia reacted to fear. It had nothing to do with urban legends or anything here."

It was a good bluff. A natural reaction, valid reasoning, and nothing he said was even false. Sakuya looked like she was going to believe it, and for a moment, I thought this was all going to blow over.

"They're lying. Satori explicitly told him that Maribel was Yukari. And not to say anything about it."

It was Patchouli's voice. She was standing at the entrance to one of the tents, with an unpleasant smile.

That's not good. Hopefully I can deny that. Greg hid a wince as best he could. "I'm sorry, who are you again? I know it started with a P, but all I can think of is purple."

The mage was unamused. "It's Patchouli Knowledge to you."

Well, that at least interrupted her momentum. "Ah, got it. And you managed to hear everything Satori's been saying from... how far away?"

"You were perfectly audible, if that's your concern." Patchouli's voice came from my third eye. Specifically, from the binding on my third eye. "I believe the modern language for the concept is 'being on speaker'."

Greg froze, and it took a minute for him to find his voice. "Then what are you looking to get out of this conversation? It can't be knowledge. If you've been listening to everything, then you already know."

"Is that really your biggest concern right now?" Sakuya asked.

No, I realized. The most immediate concern right now should have been Flandre's reaction, but she hadn't reacted. She hadn't even spoken. The vampire was putting up a poker face, trying not to react, but that merely hinted at what her mind confirmed: Flandre had already known. Her danmaku duel with Sakuya hadn't been faked, but it also wasn't as long as they'd pretended. While Greg and I had been investigating on our own, Sakuya had been coordinating their side of things, relaying Patchouli's spying and keeping Flandre in the loop.

"It's the only one I might be able to do something about," Greg replied, tugging at the magical binding around his wrist. "It's not like we can do anything except talk right now."

"That reminds me," Patchouli murmured, as she made a gesture.

Instantly, the binding around my third eye shifted, and my awareness of the others' thoughts was cut off. I gasped, staggering, and Greg was at my side, putting an arm around my back for support as he glared at the magician. "Why? This isn't necessary!"

The mage simply raised an eyebrow. "Are you really going to claim you won't try anything, even in the middle of being caught?"

"The only thing we were trying was not to start a war! Surely you can understand that, at least!"

"Or to look it another way," Patchouli countered, "you're hiding something worth starting a war over."

"You do remember how we were brought here, right? Satori wasn't even involved, she was just traveling with me, and you still kidnapped her! Are we seriously pretending you won't go after Yukari in full force?"

"You seem fairly invested in defending your former teacher," Sakuya noted.

Greg scowled. "That is not the case, and not the point. I saw you put Tewi at knife point, and you told me yourself about how you tore through Eientei. Are you going to do less to someone who actually might be involved?"

"We're a long way past 'might be'." Patchouli muttered. "Especially if she's also the letter writer."

"By all means, let's assume she is," Greg said. "Even then, the letters admit that she was experimenting with urban legends. Trying to get the method right before she tried it on her end. The only thing she's likely to know is the specifics of Remilia's urban legend, and you already have that! Starting that kind of fight would be pointless!"

"And again, you protect Yukari, while insisting otherwise."

I laughed, despite it all. "You're less intelligent than you pretend if that's your read on the situation. There is no love lost there."

Throughout the discussion, a certain vampire had been noticeably silent. And given how important Remilia was to her, it wasn't a matter of not caring or not paying attention. This was a case of someone without restraint trying to restrain herself, but that pressure was building up like a storm. It was only a matter of time before it broke.

"That's a lot of insolence for a captive," Flandre said. "Especially one who's lying and hiding things. It makes me think you're more trouble than you're worth."

Everyone stopped dead at that. "You still need us," Greg said. "You'd have killed me already if you didn't."

The vampire smiled, opening her mouth and running her tongue over her fangs. "Maybe, but do you need both legs? Does Satori need three eyes?"

Was it an idle threat? I wasn't sure. I was used to being sure. I gritted my teeth as Greg grabbed me a little tighter. "If you hurt her, I won't cooperate," he said. "And you can't fix your sister without me."

In the blink of an eye, Sakuya was between them. "It won't come to that," the maid said, throwing a meaningful look at Flandre.

The vampire wasn't fazed. "Are you sure, Sakuya? I thought you were going to do whatever was necessary. If you can't do it, I can."

"It won't be necessary," the maid repeated, with steel in both her eyes and voice. "If it was, I would do it, but it won't be."

The parasol Flandre was holding abruptly shuddered and tilted to the side, the metal of the handle twisting in her grip. Sunlight struck the little vampire and she snarled, wrenching the parasol back upright with enough force to completely snap the handle. Only pure vampiric reflex let her grab the umbrella by the stem, saving her from worse burns. She glared at the broken handle for a moment before returning her attention to Sakuya.

"Words," she spat, "Always words. She was weaker, just now. Remilia is running out of time."

"I am aware of that," Sakuya said.

"Really. Do you know how much time you've wasted talking instead of acting? Reputation this, future consequences that. You've got the culprits, right here, they're playing games with you, trying to hide things, and you're still just talking!"

Patchouli raised a hand, sounding tired. "Flandre, we've been over this. We needed information to-"

"Shut up!" Patchouli hit the dirt shortly before a spray of danmaku went through where she'd been standing. "You've done nothing. It's been weeks, and all you've got to show for it is a book! Oh yes, you've got leads, promises, places to look, whatever! Remilia isn't fixed. And you're still holding back."

Sakuya's knives were out as she hovered just above the ground, watching the vampire. "Whatever I do, milady will have to live with the consequences."

"But she'll get to live with them," Flandre said.

"She will live, I swear it," Sakuya said. "But I will not destroy her reputation for anything short of the last resort. You know how hard she worked to build it."

Flandre was the one to break eye contact first. "She always did care about the stupidest things. Fine. One more chance. Fix her by the full moon, or I'll do things my way. And just so we're clear-"

There was a sudden rush of wind and I stumbled, because Greg was no longer holding me up. After a moment of disorientation, I realized this was because Flandre was holding him up, twenty feet in the air. The remains of her parasol discarded, the vampire's skin was quite literally smoking in the sunlight as she brought Greg's face up to hers and snarled. "Whether the urban legend crap is your fault, your friend's, or Yukari's, I don't care. If you lie to me again, I'll take an eye. And if Remilia dies, so do you. You, Satori, and that other friend of yours running around. No words, no excuses. Am I understood?"

Struggling in the grip of the literally-burning-up vampire, Greg nodded frantically, and Flandre threw him without warning. Sakuya caught him before he could crash into the ground, while Flandre flew into the cover of a tent at speeds that were probably still sub-sonic.

As the maid put Greg down, the resulting silence was awkward, to say the least. Sakuya was the one who finally broke it. "We should discuss this in more detail elsewhere. Come with me."

[-] Write-in.
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QM is holding out on us in terms of listing viable choices, so let's review.

[ ] Follow Sakuya. Figure out how much time we have before the full moon. Try to solve the mystery with whatever clues, bits and pieces we've been given. Review what we have.
[ ] Satori: SNAP. Greg was just handled like a frisbee, we're nowhere close to our goal of fixing Koishi and our captors seem to think that Greg is some kind of puppet master. Then they have the nerve to play good cop bad cop on a mind reader. After helping find Remilia's letters AND trying to avert a blunder. They wanted us to stop lying? They're on the clock twice over. Start helping.
[ ] Examine surroundings first. There might be a chance to talk to others or observe the outside mansion proper - or what's left of it.

[x] Satori: SNAP. Greg was just handled like a frisbee, we're nowhere close to our goal of fixing Koishi and our captors seem to think that Greg is some kind of puppet master. Then they have the nerve to play good cop bad cop on a mind reader. After helping find Remilia's letters AND trying to avert a blunder. They wanted us to stop lying? They're on the clock twice over. Start helping.

The choice to meekly follow Sakuya is just as valid, perhaps even more so. However, I'm in the mood for FUN today and Satori has more than enough reasons to blow up IC right now.
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[x] Satori: SNAP. Greg was just handled like a frisbee, we're nowhere close to our goal of fixing Koishi and our captors seem to think that Greg is some kind of puppet master. Then they have the nerve to play good cop bad cop on a mind reader. After helping find Remilia's letters AND trying to avert a blunder. They wanted us to stop lying? They're on the clock twice over. Start helping.

I wanna see satori snap. glad to have you back btw
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We should probably warn(threaten) them about Satori's pets. Wouldn't want the Scarlet Mansion to become an irradiated wasteland now do we ;). I do feel kinda bad for them but can they really expect us to be able to solve this while we're stuck here hmmmm.
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I have a different write-in mind, but it is dependent on if Satori has any knowledge at all of the events of SSiB. If she does then the mention of "moon" might prompt her to deduce Lunarian involvement (especially since Remilia invaded the moon) but since I don't know if she has that info I'll wait to change my vote to something regarding that when/if that is clarified.

Instead, how about this one:

[x] Reimu interrupt: it doesn’t take much intuition to follow where one of the targets the shrine maiden is after when he is snatched in broad daylight… though since a certain someone (not naming names…) used time hax powers to shank a certain ordinary magician… Well, the Reimu showing up might be the one that reminds people exactly why the Spellcard rules are a thing.
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As funny as it would be to have Reimu show up out of nowhere, we will have to to leave that to the GM. Also, welcome back Soul.

Whoa, there is a lot to unpack here.

Clam down there people, we already have more than enough to work around/with them.
From the looks of it, the SDM crew are really desperate but while they have the same goal, they do have different concerns.
Flandere, like usual, is disconnected and largely unconcern about the outside world and more importantly, the consequence.
Sakuya and Pachy, on the other hand, are not only worried about Remilia but also her reputation and the possible consequence that follow it. Sakuya threatening Twei was most likely a very safe move on her part due to many factors. They most likey would be alot more nicer if they weren't already to desperate, stress and frustrated.
We can use these facts to, well, not pick a side, but try to get on their good side. Kinda like Stockholm Syndrome but reverse.

Also, it seems that the time factor is Remilia starving to death. Fortunately, since we already know her Urban Legend, we can feed her. We might want to prioritize that since it would calm the crew down, alot.
The problem is that there is three ways to feed her, so we would need to ask them how they were feeding her before we came to cut down the list.

Most likely that the problem about Remilia is that, while she did become a White Court vampire, which House and their feeding method, however, was left up to luck or combined into an unholy amalgamation.

The only thing I have confused is what we are lying about and whether if it's just a misunderstanding.

[X] Walk and Talk. Patchy can hear us anyways
- [X] Check on Greg
- [X] Ask Greg about what he knows from that book

The possible plans I have so far:
- Convince them to unseal Satori eye in order to get more information about Remilia's condition from his memories (while being a cheeky fuck about it) or hypnotizes him in order to get him to remember more clearly.
- Get the internet because if there is anything that has more then enough information to help Remilia, it's there.
- Feeding Remilia
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> [x] Satori: SNAP. Greg was just handled like a frisbee, we're nowhere close to our goal of fixing Koishi and our captors seem to think that Greg is some kind of puppet master. Then they have the nerve to play good cop bad cop on a mind reader. After helping find Remilia's letters AND trying to avert a blunder. They wanted us to stop lying? They're on the clock twice over. Start helping.

Oh ya, I completely forgot about Koishi.

Since we know roughly that modern fiction can be turned into Urban Legends, the first part of that solution would be finding a suitable one for her, be it whichever medium. I suspect that the urban legend works like Nitori's, as long as there is a sufficient about of people who believe, it would com true. Surprisingly easy considering the internet.
I have to rely on you guys tho, not very cultured so I don't have any ideas for Koishi's UL.

The second part would be initializing it. Not a problem, once we finish with SDM, we would already have a rough idea how.
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[X] Walk and Talk. Patchy can hear us anyways
- [X] Check on Greg
- [X] Ask Greg about what he knows from that book
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Koishi's Third Eye
>>203624
>I have to rely on you guys tho, not very cultured so I don't have any ideas for Koishi's UL.

How about the illuminati? They can sneak into anywhere and spy on people undetected (just like Koishi). Their primary color is green and their symbol is an eye in a place it should not be (just like Koishi). Their eye never blinks or closes for it is always alert and watching (just like Koi... oh wait. Problem solved!)

Koishi's eye might turn into a triangle because of this urban legend, but it'll be open.
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I should probably mention that Koishi already has an urban legend. Just like in the games, she has the urban legend via Miss Mary. That's part of what makes the problem tricky; you either need to give someone else (i.e. Greg/Satori/Sumireko) an urban legend that can fix Koishi from the outside, or you'd need to find a way to transfer Koishi's current urban legend away (which, at the current time, is largely theoretical).
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>>203626
>Illuminati
It's all fun and games until you realize that they are an organisation and you have to deal with the consequences of multiple Koishis running around everywhere.

>>203627
My bad, I really did forget about her. Orz
Well, for the latter part, we can figure it out using Remilia.
Say, it is possible to tweak a UL right? For example, changing part of an UL irl for it to effect the holder of that UL.
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>>203628
That would be telling. Yes.

Anyway, update is in progress; it took me a while to figure out what tack to approach this one from. Hoping to get it out in another day or two.
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[x] Satori has had enough of this.

I followed Sakuya in almost a daze. My state of mind... I must have had one. That's almost all I could say about it. My head was pounding with a dull throb, reinforced by an ache in my chest and a stabbing sensation whenever I turned the wrong way, in turn accented by the pain of a dozen smaller cuts. For that matter, my dress was a loss, between a number of tears, and being practically dyed red (mostly from wine, though there were some genuine bloodstains in there as well). And yet, none of it seemed entirely real. It hurt, but it was a distant sort of hurt, almost as if it was a bad dream.

Part of it was my third eye being sealed. Being able to see other peoples' thoughts, even when I'm trying not to look, is simply normal. Whatever's going on, someone is thinking about, and the more important the event, the more urgent the thoughts. Even when I'm seeking solitude, there's usually something, whether person, youkai, or animal, within the edges of my range, acting as a sort of mental background noise. Not being able to hear anything at all only ever happens in dreams. Before today, at least.

Thankfully, Greg was handling the conversation. From the sounds of it, he was telling them everything, which... whatever, Patchouli probably knew it all anyway. She liked to act like she did, anyway. Regardless, Greg was looking back in my direction every so often, typically with his brow furrowed, or a small frown, or biting his lip. Was I supposed to participate in the conversation? Without mind reading, nothing I could say was likely to help. Even with it, I hadn't been able to convince them. Yes, Greg was better off without me here.

I gave myself a nod, my chest tight.

Sakuya, simply moved on, as if Flandre's actions were best addressed by completely ignoring them. Heh, of course she would. The maid had a purpose, and anything that did not serve the purpose would be discarded. What did it matter that active cooperation had been met with death threats? So long as Remilia was served by it, she'd care little if Greg and I became collateral damage. As such, our concerns didn't even register. It was almost funny she was pretending to be the reasonable one.

Not that Patchouli was any better. Even now, she was watching me suspiciously. Which was stupid. With my magic sealed, what was I going to do, punch her? I giggled, the high pitched sound echoing around the area.

Greg and Sakuya paused their conversation to glance back at me, while Patchouli simply glared harder. "You find something about this amusing?"

I met her gaze and gave her a bright smile. "Just the thought of punching you. It's a pleasant fantasy."

"What?"

It wasn't that implausible, really. Even if I didn't get a chance later, Koishi was more than capable, and she was bribable. My smile grew wider. "Would you be more annoyed by a bloody nose, or a black eye?"

Patchouli took a step back, looking away and muttering, "And here I thought it was the mind reading that made you unpleasant."

I don't think I was supposed to have heard that. "Then that was foolish of you. Would taking away your magic fix your personality?"

"You're throwing stones from a glass house, Satori. I'm not the one who hides underground."

I could have let it go there. In all honesty, I could have let it go at any point. But with the way I'd been treated... well, if she was going to hate me anyway, I might as well deserve it.

"They think of you a cripple. Remilia, Sakuya, even Meiling. They do consider you a friend, so they'll never admit it, but in the back of everyone's mind, you're one asthma attack away from losing to Cirno. Which is why Remilia only ever asks you to tutor Flandre and research. It's why Sakuya went to Eientei alone, why Meiling was the one sent to the human village. It's why even now, when every minute matters, with multiple leads to follow and even Sakuya being unable to be in every place at once, she's going to ask you to be mission control. Because outside of your library, you're a liability."

"You underestimate me if you think that's the limit of my skill."

"Your skill isn't the problem. Your health is." I paused, noted her tightening her fists, and went for the kill. "Remi still remembers the old days. Before the philosopher's stone, before the mansion, when she actually felt like a child and you were just a young mage with a dream. She thinks back to those times, the adventures you had together, and she's wistful, even nostalgic. And then she's saddened, because she knows it will never happen again. Because if she tried, if she badgered you into setting out on a new adventure, you'd get halfway to the Moriya shrine before collapsing."

In point of fact, Patchouli had collapsed en-route to the mountain shrine once, on a new year's visit. She'd half-forgotten about it, but the incident had been on Kanako's mind during one of her checkups on Utsuho's nuclear reactor. "That's the difference between us. I might hide away, but when the need strikes, when the people I care about are at risk, I can come out. I can explore, I can investigate, I can fight. In short, I can do something about it. You can't."

It would take more than that to break a youkai, even a bundle of neuroses like Patchouli. Still, I got the satisfaction of seeing her flinch, and then there was a maid in the way.

"That's enough", Sakuya said.

"Or what, you'll stab me? Seal away my third eye? Leave me to the tender mercies of a half-mad vampire?" I stepped forwards, flinging my arms wide open in demonstration. "You've played your hand already, because you've already done all of those things!"

The maid raised an eyebrow. "You've stripped the context from all those events."

"Because it's the same context! Because it was necessary. No matter whether it's kidnapping, assault, or breaking the spellcard rules Gensokyo was founded on, if it has the slightest chance of helping your mistress, you'll do it, and damn the consequences!"

"I'm glad we understand each other. Is this the part where you try to get to me? Throw my thoughts and fears back into my face?"

I laughed, just a bit harder than the situation warranted. "There wouldn't be a point. Oh, I could talk about how your coworkers resent your work ethic, or bring up the slippery slope of doing what's necessary, but that won't bother you, will it? You've already thought over those things, and you decided you didn't care, that being the perfect maid was more important." That had been said bitterly, the next bit was more thoughtful. "No, if I want to bother you, I need to surprise you with something you don't know. Or rather, something that you should have known, but didn't consider."

Sakuya stood her ground. "By all means, don't keep me in suspense."

Well, if she was going to keep laying down the gauntlet... "When we were fighting Remilia, I got a look at her mind. Her urban legend didn't overwhelm her all at once, it built up over time. Your mistress was suffering in silence, and you didn't notice. You didn't notice! If you had, if you'd just paid attention to the one person your entire life revolves around, none of this would have been necessary! You'd have caught this, weeks ago! Remilia would have been able to just tell you what she was going for with the urban legend, and the investigations you're only just now starting would already be done! There'd have been no need to actually kidnap anyone, let alone people with their own, extremely time-sensitive problems that already have to deal with running from all the incident resolvers!"

I'd been advancing on Sakuya as I spoke, but now Greg was in the way, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Satori-"

I knocked his arm away and rounded on him. "Don't 'Satori' me! Do you have any idea how long I've waited for a chance like this? How rare it is to find an incident strong enough to affect Koishi, and yet malleable enough not to be a disaster? It should have been simple! Once the situation had escalated enough, I was going to find a story that correlates with healing, or maybe emotions, spread it as a rumor, and wait for it to manifest! It should have taken one trip to a library! And I haven't even started! Because her- her self-destructive whatever-the-cost crusade!"

I'd turned towards Sakuya at the end there, but Greg grabbed both of my shoulders now, turning me back to face him. "We'll figure it out. I promise."

I glared at him, but it was getting hard to see, and I couldn't focus. "And... and even aside from that, none of this was even necessary! She could have just asked, and you'd have helped, because you're you, and now...", the energy just drained out of me, "...now there won't be time, because Reimu's going to catch up. She's going to figure it out, and she'll come, and she'll fight, and win, like she always does, and there won't be time, and... and..."

Greg wrapped his arms around me, pulling me close. "It's going to be okay, Satori. It's going to be okay."

I wrapped my arms around him and wept.

End of Part 2A.
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Good to have this update done. And more generally, good to have this section of the story finally done. The hostage dynamic was interesting at first, but it's definitely worn out its welcome.

Anyway, I want to give a shoutout to the anons who suggested having Satori snap. Considering this has been her worst day in years, it's well-deserved, and I can't think of a better way to end this section of the story.

((For the record, what I was aiming for there was Satori being in shock and then lashing out, hopefully that came through.))

Regardless, next update it's back to Sumireko, and we'll stick with her until her end of things hits a similar break-point.
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>>203631
here's your crown, your majesty
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My god Satori that beatdown was intense. Guess we don't need Okuu and Rin considering she already burned them with flames more intense than that of Hell's. On a more serious note I think this is some much needed catharsis. Like for real just say the word and Greg would have been jumping to help out :/ instead they went for burning bridges. WELL HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM FLAMES HUH! Also excited to get back to the somewhat more sedate adventures with Sumi. It would be kinda funny if we met up with the Pets and decided to do operation jailbreak.
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imagine going through a fight for your life in a hidden lunarian mansion alone that demands nothing short of perfection and then still pulling a win
imagine having to face your possessed mistress in combat just to get a better chance to cure her and then your other mistress snaps and then you have to fight her too, just to calm her down
imagine your captors still having the guts to hide things after that
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I'm super curious what this would have looked like from Greg's POV. One moment he's talking with Sakuya, and then Satori giggles. Sure he had been worried about her up to that point since she wasn't talking at all, but then Satori just starts verbally smacking down Sakuya and Patchy.
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__kochiya_sanae_and_usami_sumireko_touhou_drawn_by
I'm stoked to see the build-up to the cockroach home invasion.
Outside world girl squad is a go.
I wonder how you'll handle the dynamics between the two and the rest of the Moriyas.
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Holy shit Soul, we asked for Satori to snap, not for a double homicide.

I loved this update, cant wait for what happens next.
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Miniature vacation through the fourth of July. Will resume writing work on the 5th, update might come then, or a couple days afterwards.
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Just a quick reminder for everyone, we last saw Sumireko in >>203238. Since it's been a while, let's get a quick summary.

-) Sumireko woke up in Hina's house, because the pestilence goddess found her after her blind teleport.
-) Sumireko's wounds have been bandaged, but she's still pretty injured. Specifically, a pair of knife wounds to the leg and to her side, along with burns all along her back. The burns are serious but not painful (nerve damage), the stab wounds are very painful, and she's currently using levitation to get around. Note that Sumireko doesn't have the flight cape, as Greg was the one wearing it at the time of Eientei.
-) Sumireko tried to pose as a local from the human village. It didn't really work.
-) Hina took an interest in part because of Sumireko's bad luck. It has been confirmed that this is at least partially Tewi's fault, but that there's another source to it.
-) The Koishi doll is with Sumi. She's been given the name Mary, and seems to be just a bit more capable than previously expected. She is also adorable.
-) Hina had asked one of the kappa to come over with more magical medicine. Consistent with the above-mentioned bad luck, that kappa turned out to be Nitori. The initial confrontation was tense, and narrowly avoided being explosive.
-) After the initial tension was resolved, Sumireko realized that Nitori is bribable with technology.

And with all of that out of the way...

{x} Hypothetically speaking, someone who collected seven occult balls would be able to make a shopping trip back on Earth. One that could collect a lot more for a tinkering kappa to play with than just a single phone. (Which, of course, would be expensive, but Greg has a credit card, right?) If I can sell Nitori on the idea, then I might be able to get some more active assistance out of her...

"Nitori, have you ever been to, uh," wait, did Gensokyo people even have a word for Earth proper? "anywhere outside of Gensokyo?"

The kappa didn't look up from the disassembled phone. "We usually just call it the outside world. And no."

"Would you believe me if I told you almost everyone had a phone like this?"

That got the kappa to look up. "You're messing with me."

"Well, not as nice as mine." I gave her a cheeky smile. "If you get the power back on, check out the contacts list. Everyone on there is someone I know personally, with their own phone."

Nitori raised an eyebrow. "And you're just going to offer me all of them."

"Hah! No. We can cut a deal, but not one that involves me robbing everyone I know. The point I was making is that the real world has a lot of technology. And if I can get home, I can get you a lot more than just one phone."

I was a little reluctant to actually offer that. The phone was obviously tempting for the kappa, it might just be enough to buy her silence, and it's usually a bad idea to mortgage the future to pay for the present. But if I was being practical, there wasn't really a choice. If I didn't get some help now, there was a very real risk neither Greg nor I would have a future. Which is really a long way of saying that Greg's budget was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

Look, I'd do it myself, but my credit card's maxed out, okay? And if he wants a lower budget rescue, he can try not getting captured next time!

Nitori had been talking while I'd been zoned out. "-won't work. Even if you don't get yourself killed, you'd just bail the moment you actually got home."

I shrugged."Yes, absolutely. But I can't. The occult balls aren't set up that way. They'd take me home for an hour, but then they'd slingshot me right back. You have to have seen someone use them by now."

"Sure, but you made them. You could always just change how they work. Or make it so nobody else can use them properly."

"Like you did with the backpack?" The comment was reflexive, but Hina sent me a disapproving glare, the distilled essence of a put-upon mother to a child that damn well knew better. It was actually pretty effective, and I shrank back a little.

To be fair, Nitori wasn't entirely wrong. I did have some failsafes on the occult balls, in case things went really wrong and I had to dismantle them in a hurry. Unfortunately, I'd been concerned about security, not modularity. I could summon them, or disperse them entirely, but the first one would draw every youkai in Gensokyo right to me, and the latter would simply deprive me of a useful tool and power source. That said, I wasn't about to tell Nitori I could do any of that.

"Yes, and making them took weeks," I told her. One week for each of the thirteen balls, in point of fact. "If I could change them that easily, I wouldn't need you, I'd be gone already."

Nitori leaned in, sticking her elbows on the table. "What's the catch?"

"If I'm giving you extra, I want your help. Gadgets, battling, guiding me around. Your full cooperation, in other words."

"Even if you kidnap another kappa?"

"Do I look like Satori?"

A corner of her mouth tilted upwards. "That's still a lot to ask for, and I've got my reputation to think about here."

"Oh, for crying out loud. We're going to your mountain gods first. If they don't have a problem with it, you'll be fine. You'll be better than fine, you'll have plausible deniability."

"It's not as if the Moriya Shrine is behind half the inciden-" Nitori started laughing. "Yeah, no, I can't even finish that. Sure, that could work. How much technology are we talking about?"

It was then that I made a mistake. "We can figure that out. What are you interested in?"

The kappa gave me a wide grin. "Let's figure that out! Your major types of technology are phones and computers, right?"

I shrugged and dug myself deeper. "There's also game systems and tablets."

The kappa's grin turned shark-like. "Excellent. Could you go over the major brands, differences, and versions for each, starting with the phones?"

That was when I realized my mistake It turned out, the kappa was a negotiation demon, to the point where I nearly asked if the Moriya Shrine had a marketplace god or something. After I'd gone through every model of phone I could think of, the kappa simply moved on to computers, interrogating me for every laptop and desktop build there was. It was about halfway through the tablets that Hina excused herself, going to make coffee. Mary dozed off, which was impressive for a doll that can't actually sleep.

It was only through long practice honed through geography classes that I was able to keep any sense of time amidst the boredom, but it was at least an hour and a half later when we settled on three computers, three phones, and a tablet. With all devices of the same type being different brands, and at least one desktop PC. Quite frankly, I might just have to rob the computer lab.

"If we're finished haggling over details," Hina interrupted, "perhaps we could handle Sumireko's medical treatment now?"

"Yes!" I ground out. "Please."

Nitori paused. "That's another thing-"

The misfortune goddess raised an eyebrow. "The medical treatment I already paid for. That I know for a fact you won't be too put out by using here."

The kappa backed down, looking thoughtful, but it was my turn to interrupt. "Real quick, what's involved here?"

"Authentic kappa miracle salve!" Nitori declared, whipping out a small plastic bottle. "It fixes you faster and cheaper than the Eientei stuff!"

"No." I said. "If it's better, cheaper, and more available than Eientei, they'd be out of business. What's the catch?"

The kappa gave me a bright smile. "You know humans, they're picky."

I glanced to the side, where Mary had backed away slightly. I glanced to the other side, where Hina gave me a small shrug. "It's unpleasant. But it really does work, and it'll mean less misfortune in the long run."

I sighed. "Fine. Let's get this over with."

"Alright," the kappa said, skipping over to my side. "I'll need you to lean over the table like so, and remove any clothes or bandages in contact with your injuries."

With a little help from Hina, and somewhat more in the way of misgivings, I unwrapped my banddages, partially undid my top, and stretched out as instructed.

Then Nitori opened the bottle, and I was hit by the smell: a mixture of cucumbers that had been thrown out, and cucumbers that had been shat out. Mary flew clear into the other room, and as I was reeling, I belatedly realized that Hina had already made herself scarce. And then Nitori smeared the substance all over my back. Wherever the salve touched, it did an admirable job of emulating the pleasant feel of pins and needles. I gasped and tried to push myself up, but the kappa's hands held me down, digging into those pins and needles like sandpaper. I almost blasted the kappa clear through the wall, but somehow restrained myself, and then one of Nitori's hands spread the "medicine" to my stab wounds. I swore, trying to scratch at it, but it itched all the way down to the bone, and Nitori caught my hand anyway. She then spread some of the salve on that, and- look, you get the idea.

Fifteen minutes later, I'd been rebandaged and thoroughly treated. I'd managed to resist the urge to kill my tormentor, and while the pain had gone away, I was giving the cruder parts of my vocabularity a real workout.

I also still smelled like a kappa's toilet, in case you were wondering. It was then that Hina came back into the room, though still a healthy distance away. "Less misfortune?" I hissed at her. "Are you sure that's a cure and not a torture device?"

Hina gave me a sympathetic look. "In the long run."

Nitori gave me a pat on the back, drawing a snarl from me. "Give that an hour, and you'll be good as new!"

I eloquently informed her just where she could shove that cheer.

Anyway, I had some time to myself. Quite literally, as nobody wanted to be in the same room. In order to avoid planning Nitori's murder, I decided to throw myself into a little magical research... but what?

[-] A pure danmaku spellcard. If I want to be diplomatic, I might have to play the game as intended, and I need at least a little practice there.
[-] Non-danmaku trickery. On second thought, trying to beat Gensokyo at its own game is a fool's bet. Pure spell-craft will be more effective, and I can come up with at least a few sneaky ways to incapacitate someone.
[-] Some way to leverage the occult balls. I do have some unique advantages with them, and with the way I designed the balls, I should have another one available soon.
[-] A last resort trump card. Greg had been getting on me for that trick with his consciousness. But that was only the finished half of that spell.
[-] Something incredibly lethal. If I see Sakuya again, I want to be able to put her in the ground.
[-] Write-in? (You have a fair bit of leeway here, but keep in mind more complicated ideas could take more than one research section to give you a usable spell.)
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hope author had a happy america day

[-] Something incredibly lethal. If I see Sakuya again, I want to be able to put her in the ground.

Extreme escalation seems in the spirit of America
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[X] Non-danmaku trickery. On second thought, trying to beat Gensokyo at its own game is a fool's bet. Pure spell-craft will be more effective, and I can come up with at least a few sneaky ways to incapacitate someone.

As satisfying as it would be to start blasting up mofo's 'Murica style, making lethal enemies out of the entirety of Gensokyo is a great way to get yo ass clapped.
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[-] A pure danmaku spellcard. If I want to be diplomatic, I might have to play the game as intended, and I need at least a little practice there.
Lets play to (our) sumeriko's strength, and make sure we can beat almost anyone in a pure 1v1, with the possible end goal of getting an occult ball.
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[-] A pure danmaku spellcard. If I want to be diplomatic, I might have to play the game as intended, and I need at least a little practice there.
-[-] Manage to plan Nitori's murder anyway.
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[x] A pure danmaku spellcard. If I want to be diplomatic, I might have to play the game as intended, and I need at least a little practice there.
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[X] Ask Hina for some help/advice in making a spellcard. She is a goddess of misfortune isn't she? A little luck manipulation goes a long way.
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[x] A pure danmaku spellcard. If I want to be diplomatic, I might have to play the game as intended, and I need at least a little practice there.
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