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[X] Hang out with Meiling, chat.
-[X] Ask her about the farmer (and kappa) she saw. Maybe their perspective could reveal something.

Leaving Patchouli behind you, you walked over towards the tree where Meiling was lounging. You thought for sure you'd need to announce your presence with a cough or something, but she spoke without opening her eyes.

"So Patchy's banished you from her magical domain, huh?"

You shrugged. "She gave me the choice whether or not to stick around."

"Surprised you came over, then. Every magician around here seems to be all magic, all day. Or did she finally get under your skin?"

"The constant paranoia does get tiring," you said with a sigh, "But that wasn't it. I'll have every chance to look at whatever secondary binding she creates later. Actually having a chance to relax and talk has been much rarer the past few days."

"And you're spending that chance bugging me?"

"You're kind of the only person from the mansion I haven't really talked much with, so..."

One eye opened, the better to raise an eyebrow. "You've talked a lot with Flandre?"

"That I'm confident surviving talking with," you amended. "Out of curiosity, does she turn down the lethality for you guys, or-"

Meiling actually opened both eyes, giving you an aside glance. "If you're going to hang out, could you turn that off?"

"The illusion? I don't mind, but if someone comes-"

Meiling rolled her eyes. "Nobody's around for at least a mile, and having you look and sound like Koakuma is damned creepy."

"... says the youkai who shares a house with two vampires, a devil, and Sakuya."

"Right, so I know what I'm talking about."

You chuckled, stopping to consider it. If Meiling was capable at her job (and you had a feeling Sakuya wouldn't tolerate her otherwise), you could just take that at face value, so the odds of being seen were low. And even if you were seen, it's not like that would matter much. You'd kept a much lower profile than Sumi, so most of Gensokyo would just see you as some guy hanging out with Meiling. Besides, most of the youkai who knew your face and would do something about it could see through your illusions anyway. (And wasn't that a depressing thought?)

You pulled the ring off your finger, stashing it in a pocket as you looked over at Meiling. "As long as you're sure, I suppose Patchouli can't complain too much. Still, I'm surprised that this of all things is what bugs you."

With your disguise dropped, she finally turned to look at you. "It's cause you look like Koakuma. Having you look and sound like her is... off."

"Is there a problem with the disguise?" you asked.

"No, not that. Dead ringer, actually. It's just..." Meiling gestured aimlessly.

"... it's hard to be mean to the spitting image of your youkai kid sister?" you guessed, offering a slight smile.

Meiling snorted. "If anything, she'd be Patchy's kid sister. Please call her that, by the way."

You shook your head. "Maybe after this incident is behind us. But you were saying?"

"It's hard to describe. You look like her, you sound like her, but you don't really feel like her. Koakuma's always so innocent and earnest, you know?"

You tilted your head, frowning. "Not that I've known her long, but my read on her was more mischievous."

"There's a bit of that too, but it's more childlike." Meiling sighed. "That, and Patchouli clamps down on it most of the time. The only one who can get away with anything in the library is Marisa, and that's because-"

"She's shameless and has ridiculous firepower?" Meiling looked a little surprised, and you smiled. "Satori's told me a bit about her thefts, and let's just say her danmaku left an impression."

Meiling folded her arms and scowled. "Her breaking in gets me in trouble so often."

"If it makes you feel better, she's gotten me in more trouble in the past couple of days," you said, earning a chuckle. "But returning to the point, do I need to act differently to successfully pass as Koakuma?"

"It's that. That right there."

"I'm sorry?"

"Koakuma's very straightforwards, very bad at hiding things, wears her emotions on her sleeve. She's innocent to the point of being naive and distractable despite Patchy's best efforts. She's not focused and calculated. She doesn't direct conversations, she has no idea how to manipulate."

A touch of childlike behavior, then. That wouldn't be too hard to imitate if need be, but still. "Do I really seem manipulative?"

"Are you?"

That was just it, wasn't it? Most of what you'd said and done since coming to the mansion had been calculated. The right words could literally save Satori's life, or yours. Appearing trustworthy and getting the mansion's residents to believe you was vital. And if you knew what people wanted and could guess how they thought, it wasn't hard to work out what buttons to press for the desired result.

For instance, Sakuya was a servant, through and through. Completely dedicated to Remilia, but she'd respect similar dedication in someone else. Playing up your relationship with Satori, repeatedly putting her first above yourself, you knew that would win points with her. And so you did. You'd gained her sympathy, and if not her trust, at least her consideration and a little leeway.

It was manipulation, at least a little. Wasn't all persuasion, in the end? But what other choice was there? When words were your only weapon and lives hung in the balance, what could you do except wield them to the best of your ability?

So far, honesty had been the best policy with Sakuya and the others, so you could take refuge in that. But people prefer comforting lies to the truth. What would you do if Remilia's urban legend couldn't be fixed? Tell Sakuya and accept the consequences? Or lead them all on and bide time for an escape?

(That was another reason you appreciated Satori. You couldn't lie to her, and she would actively call you out if you tried.)

You weren't sure. But for that worst case, building trust would be useful either way. Whether to convince them that you'd done everything you could and survive... or for lying to their faces and running away. It wasn't the best way to think, but you couldn't not see it. And the stakes were too high not to consider it.

So... yes. The answer to Meiling's question was obviously yes. And she seemed to at least suspect that. But was it better to admit it, or maintain plausible deniability?

[-] Deflect the question with humor. "Yes, that's it exactly. This is all just part of the twenty-sixth step in my master plan."
[-] Be open about it. "I can be. I try not to be."
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[X] Be open about it. "I can be. I try not to be."
Better to be honest about it than not.
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Looks like Meiling is excellent at reading people.

It also makes me feel like she really, really cares about the other residents.

It even translated into Koakuma disguise tips. Made me feel a bit bad about considering using her. Almost feels like Meiling is giving us a taste of our own medicine.

I wonder if we can ask her about the fake Sumi she saw, maybe we could pick out some inconsistencies with the real one because we know her so well.

To be fair, we believe know she's a fake so there's no real need to confirm it to ourselves, either.

Anyway, it's best to be straight with her here, honesty has been our best strategy and it feels like she'd appreciate it.

Still, there is much irony in the fact we are considering what "the best" response here is in the first place. Proof in itself.

So, yeah.

You are who you are, Greg, but you need to know your worst side to know your best.

[X] Be open about it. "I can be. I try not to be."
-[X] Note the irony involved.

If nothing else, it find it an actually rather funny (if somewhat depressing) self-deprecating joke.

(And surprisingly candid.)
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- [X] Be open about it. "I can be. I try not to be."
- [X] "I mean for all you know, I could just be trying to get on you girls' good side now so I can stab you all in the back later."

(...Or something along the lines of that second part.)
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[x] "Yes, that's it exactly. This is all just part of the twenty-sixth step in my master plan to not be killed by the mansion's residents."
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- [X] Be open about it. "I can be. I try not to be."
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[X] Be open about it. "I can be. I try not to be."
-[X] Note the irony involved.
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[X] Be open about it.

You sighed. "I can be. I try not to be."

You glanced over to see Meiling's reaction, but the gate guard watched you impassively, letting the conversation lapse into silence. You knew this trick, it was an unspoken invitation for you to keep talking, to fill the silence, to try to justify yourself and give Meiling a better read on you as a person. It was more social savvy than you'd expected. Had the gate guard guarded prisoners before, perhaps? Or was she simply better socially than the mansion's other residents? Not enough information to tell just yet.

There were a couple ways to respond to such a ploy. One was to simply shut up and not play your interrogator's game. To cut your losses, accept however guilty you looked, and treat that as the end of the matter.

It was an option that was rarely taken. People hated feeling like they'd made a bad impression, and so they'd do whatever they could to try and justify it, explain how what they did was reasonable and not actually their fault. This usually resulted in them digging themselves in deeper than the dwarves in Moria.

Trying to talk your way out of this would be a mistake, and writing the conversation off as a lost cause wasn't much better. Which meant you needed to try to explain without trying to look like you were making excuses. A fine line to walk, but there was nothing better to try.

"How to put this... well, sometimes a conversation is like playing chess."

Meiling blinked, non-plussed, which was hardly a surprise given your weird metaphor. That was intentional. It gave you a little time to think things out, talk casually, and seem relatable before moving back to the matter at hand. "Each side has their own turn, whether to speak or to play, and each side has their own plan for how they want things to unfold, with whoever has the better plan usually winning. And on top of that, the moves you make influence what your opponent does. Sometimes it's a subtle dance that takes time until one side finally loses patience, and other times it's a question of who can go for the throat most effectively."

You could go a bit further. An accusation the other side had to respond to was putting them in check, for instance. But too much detail would be a distraction, and you did need to return to the point. "In particular, if you're good at the game, you can predict your opponent's moves. Not completely, they'll usually have multiple options and sometimes you'll get surprised, but you'll usually have a good idea of what they want to do, and how to stop them from doing it. And from there? You keep them off balance, force them to respond to your own threats, and just pile on the pressure until they crack and you get what you want."

You were never actually great at chess, funnily enough. Oh, you were good enough to beat casual players, but Sumireko just demolished you over and over again. You found it easier to read people than pawn structures.

"The thing is, once you get good at the game, once you start seeing the possible moves and how to manipulate your opponent... you can't just turn that ability off. You can ignore it, intentionally make bad moves, try to give them a chance, explain the position, do what you can to make the game fair and enjoyable for them too... or you could be cutthroat and press your advantage for all it's worth."

You shrugged. "The metaphor breaks down a bit there. Obviously there's no implied indictment for being too good at chess... except possibly in how much of your time you've wasted."

"Don't say that in front of the others." Meiling said, smirking slightly. "Patchouli and Remilia both play religiously. Sakuya would join in too, if only 'cause Remilia likes it."

"What can I say? Every self-proclaimed intellectual fancies themselves a chess master." you said wryly.
"But yes, I know how to manipulate people. I'd be shocked if Patchouli hadn't told you that much. Probably with a warning attached not to trust me. I won't pretend it's a skillset I acquired for good reasons, but it's one I have."

"Do you have this conversation a lot?" she asked, looking thoughtful.

"Only in the past couple of days. Let's just say recent events have made the question of trustworthiness extremely relevant, even with the various measures you've taken to... well, encourage honesty."

"In some ways that's the problem," Meiling said. "Someone that's trusted at knifepoint won't just play along once the knives are gone."

"Those knives are still pointed somewhere very important. We can talk like this because I trust Sakuya not to actually do anything without reason, but I have no illusions what will happen to Satori if I try anything." Ironically, it probably wouldn't be Sakuya. The maid was practical to the end, and killing Satori after your hypothetical escape wouldn't help Remilia. (Not that Sakuya would hesitate to kill if she had cause, but self-sabotaging vengeance wasn't enough of one.) Flandre would be the executioner if it came to that.

Meiling shrugged. "Then you're still at knife-point, just indirectly."

"True. Really though, even if Satori was free, escaping on my own isn't a realistic possibility. Patchouli being able to remotely lock down my magic through the binding shuts down just about every plan I might try. The best shot would be to provoke a fight between you two and someone strong, then sneak off in the confusion. Which would still leave me without magic, wearing a tracker, and with a vengeful Sakuya hunting for me."

"Are you trying to convince me I don't have to do my job?"

"Getting the guard to fall asleep is a classic part of any prison break," you said drily. "But no, I'm attempting something different. The best thing I can do for my own situation is to work with your group. My goal is to slowly win your trust through active cooperation, and convince you all that the knives aren't actually necessary."

She raised an eyebrow. "Really. You'll play nice, no strings attached."

"It's not the best precedent to set for any future youkai kidnapping rings after me, but that's a problem for future Greg."

Meiling didn't rise to the jab. "Yeah, no. When you hit someone and they try to get you to lower your guard, that means a sucker punch is coming."

"I'll admit that's an option too." You chuckled at Meiling's look of surprise. "What? I'm trying to be honest here. And it's not like you'd believe me if I pretended it wasn't. But we do actually share some common ground."

"Because..."

"Because Mamizou tricked, trapped and framed me and Sumireko both? Because Yukari's already put me through my own personal hell and expressed an interest in having me as her permanent magical slave? The same people that screwed Remilia also have it out for me. And it's not like I'd stand any chance against either of them. I can't even fly on my own!"

Meiling looked at me thoughtfully. Hesitated, glanced over towards Patchouli, still working away with magic. "Did you plan out this talk too?"

That surprised you. You were expecting some flavor of reflexive denial, or at least some reaction to the contents of what you'd just said. "Not really. Not more than I plan any conversation, at least. Why?"

"What you just said? It's like Remilia when she gets going. There's a fierceness to it, like killing intent but with words." The vampire's first line of defense looked you dead in the eye. "You either meant that or you're a bloody good actor. And one with charisma either way."

"Thank you, I think?"

Meiling continued, ignoring you. "And with a logical argument relating to your... thing. If you came up with all that off the cuff, that's more worrying."

"To be fair, unplanned doesn't mean unprepared. I figured there was a better than even chance I'd have to talk to you about my trustworthiness at some point. It wasn't why I came over to chat, but I'd been mentally rehearsing lines for that for the past hour." And you were sure you'd come up with better ones now that it was too late.

"Hm..." Meiling hummed, before shaking her head. "What were you here for then?"

The segue was clear, and it left you feeling a little frustrated. You'd have liked to talk a bit more, plead your case a little longer, and in particular gotten more of Meiling's thoughts on the matter. Instead you had the distinct feeling that she'd given you the obvious objections just to see what you'd say, and how you'd say it. Still, there was little choice but to move on.

[-] Ask what Gensokyo's like normally. It'd be nice to find out what the place is like outside of life-threatening incidents.
[-] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.
[-] Ask about the fake Sumireko Meiling had met.
[?] Write-in.
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[x] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.
the heck's up with that
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[X] Ask about the fake Sumireko Meiling had met.
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Alright, so let's run through these.

Option 1's probably useful for more general social ammo. Words are our weapon, and learning more about the place is the juiciest potential for applicable tidbits for dealing with general problems.

Option 2 isn't nearly as interesting to me. It's insight, and it might contain a nugget of something helpful, but it doesn't gain as much.
At the same time, that is also valuable in a way. I know we literally just talked about trying not to be manipulative, but because it isn't particularly useful, talking about it helps give an impression that we're not always trying to gain something out of a conversation. Of course, that's being manipulative to prove we're not being manipulative, which is a headache.

Option 3 is most useful for our specific problem of fake Sumi. Its value in knowledge is immediately and evidently apparent, and I don't need to say much. We know what we get if we ask about that.

Ignoring any tricksy write-ins that try to weave multiple options together, they all have benefits associated with them. No wrong answers, follow your heart.

[X] Ask what Gensokyo's like normally. It'd be nice to find out what the place is like outside of life-threatening incidents.
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[X] Ask what Gensokyo's like normally. It'd be nice to find out what the place is like outside of life-threatening incidents.
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Well, we tried.

Pretty much the expected response of her, but can't blame her for that. Not really, anyway.

>>205409 makes some fair points, but I quite strongly disagree with some of the implications/conclusions mentioned.

Asking about Gensokyo normality is basically small talk, it doesn't actually give us anything credible for the situation at hand.
The main reasons to talk about that is if we considered staying, which is not something I think Greg wants to talk about, or trying to butter up Meiling some more.
Making somebody think of happy memories or better times can improve their mood.
That doesn't sound like much, but for somebody like Greg putting somebody in that kind of mindspace makes it easier for him to be seen in a positive light.
But that'd be exactly the thing he just talked about. Manipulation.
This is a topic best left after everything is behind us.

Option 2 is actually very informative, and probably where I disagree the most with the aforementioned take.
Having a third party entirely unrelated to us experience the same effects could prove valuable insight into what the hell is going on with the village.
As we figured, the farmer being affected completely threw out the notion of it being attributed to "race".
Of course, we doubly confirmed that when we got Greg to see the same when we experimented with the binding just now.
Still, their account could be very useful.

Knowing more about fake Sumi doesn't actually prove anything to us, because we believe know that she wouldn't do something like this.
Nor does it really prove our innocence, because we can't actually do anything with that info aside from say she isn't like that.
Very trusted expert testimony, I'm sure.
Still, having the account could help us get closer to figuring out what's the deal with the impostor.
So far we've basically just assumed it's Mamizou, which while a decent guess, isn't entirely proven beyond a doubt.

I don't have any questions of my own to ask at this time, but I'll keep thinking of any write-in questions.

In short, I think following up on the human and the kappa might let us deal with the village quicker; but the Sumi info could help us solve the greater mystery, so we can ask that afterwards if there is time.
The small talk about Gensokyo can be left for now.

[X] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.
If there is time:
-[X] Ask about the fake Sumireko Meiling had met.
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[X] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.

>>205409
>>205411

After reading their thoughts for this vote, I feel this is the right way to go.
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[X] Ask about the fake Sumireko Meiling had met.
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[X] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.
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[X] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.
If there is time:
-[X] Ask about the fake Sumireko Meiling had met.
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[X] Ask about the human and kappa that had been through here.

"It's half curiosity, half 'maybe it's important.' What was up with the human and kappa that came through here?"

"Didn't I mention? The human's a farmer from outside the village, and was looking to bring his crops to market. The kappa had apparently run into him as he was looking and was helping search."

"Is that normal for the kappa?" you asked. You'd seen that they were at least friendly-ish with people, but you hadn't expected outright altruism.

"Not unless they're getting paid," Meiling said. "And you don't want to pay kappa rates if you don't have to."

"The occasional cucumber doesn't seem that steep a bribe."

Meiling shook her head. "They like cucumbers, but they're vicious at haggling. If you can get one to do something for just a cucumber, they probably wanted to do it anyway."

Hm. What did that mean for the one that had led your group to Nitori, then? She shouldn't have known who you or Sumi were, so did she have some reason to want Satori and Nitori to interact? "Do you bargain with them often? I'd have expected that to be more Sakuya's thing."

"For the mansion, yeah, but sometimes I buy things for myself."

Interesting. Something not available elsewhere if she was complaining about the price. So nothing mundane... and it was at least a little embarrassing if she was being vague about it. "Is that where you get your comics from?"

It was a shot in the dark, but with Meiling's sudden flinch it seems you scored. You chuckled. "Relax, it's not like I care. Though your poker face could use work."

"Can't lie to Sakuya anyway," she grumbled. "She'll just stop time and check."

"Regardless, the kappa and the human. What was their dynamic like?"

Meiling looked at you skeptically. "You think Jin's involved?"

"Interesting. You know him well enough to have a reaction to that."

''I'd 'react'," she said, and you could hear the air-quotes, "-the same if you claimed any random human was up to something like this."

It was a valid point, but she'd offered you an opportunity to be pedantic. "You believed I was involved easily enough."

"Come off it, you're not just some guy. You have magic, and you hang out with youkai."

"Oh, did we stop counting kappa as youkai?" Meiling looked irritated at that, and you smiled. "Plus, didn't you say you were pretty sure the guy had some power?"

"For crying out loud, he's a farmer."

You nodded. "A nice, innocent profession, like being a maid."

She sighed, putting a hand to her head. "Do you really think he's involved?"

"In all seriousness, probably not." you said. "If he was involved and trying to hide it, there'd be no reason for him to show his face here at all. And while it's possible the idea was for him to encounter someone else looking for the village, neither you nor some kappa seem like an important enough target to aim for. But with all of that said, the timing is a coincidence. A plausible one, but one still worth looking at."

Meiling rolled her eyes. "You sound like Patchy. Jin's not part of any of this."

You paused at that, considering. "Do you know him well enough to vouch for him?"

Meiling regarded you seriously and nodded. "Not particularly closely, but I've seen him fight and lose to Cirno. His abilities are martial, like mine, but significantly weaker, and he's reflexively honest. He's really just interested in building up his farm and working, though he gets along with the local youkai."

"How does that work out for him?" you asked, curious. "I thought youkai preyed on humans."

"Well enough. He's not strong, but neither are the small-fry, and he's good enough to fend them off. The stronger youkai consider him to be beneath attention, and he keeps his head low when they're around."

"Wouldn't owning a farm leave you pretty stationary? I could see why youkai wouldn't seek him out, but if a strong one stumbled across his land, it'd be tricky to escape notice."

Meiling shook her head. "It's not like that. Sure, if he pissed off Remilia, she could backhand him through a wall, but so long as he doesn't do anything stupid, he's a novelty. A small one, but she'd rather see what happens than squish him like a bug. Like..." she paused for a bit, then brightened. "It's one thing if he sinks by himself, but if he doesn't rock the boat, nobody's gonna throw him overboard."

"How would he sink if he was in the boat?" you asked, deadpan.

She gave an exasperated scoff and swatted you on the shoulder. "Don't be dense. You're worse than Patchy."

You chuckled, rubbing at where she'd hit; even playfully, the gatekeeper hit hard. "Questionable analogies aside, what about the kappa? This other 'Meiling'?"

The Meiling in front of you frowned. "I think that was some kind of joke. Jin made a big show of introducing the two of us, and was grinning pretty much the whole time. Plus the kappa was bright red and barely said a word."

This was a 'make mouth sound to indicate interest' moment. "Really?"

"And then after the introductions he got really into telling this story about how great she was and how they met when she saved a kid from some crazy youkai. He was getting pretty animated, and the kappa was practically shrinking into herself. I'm... pretty sure he was flirting, actually."

"You're kidding."

"No, really! Every time the kappa seemed to get ahold of herself, he'd stroke her hair, or call her 'Mei-mei', or wrap his arm around her shoulders, and she'd go bright red and clam up."

"It's... possible he might just be friendly and oblivious?" you ventured.

"The best one was when he started talking about how gentle she'd been with the kid and how she was going to be a great mom one day."

"And she just stood there and took it?"

"That one she smacked him for," Meiling admitted. "But for most of it... she didn't object or try to pull away or anything. Though he might pay for it later."

"Huh." you said, at a loss for anything more eloquent. "Wait, is it possible he was actually flirting with you?"

"What?!"

"I mean, what if he did pay for it, as a performance? Picture this, he makes some sort of deal with her before-hand, to praise someone named Meiling right in front of you, in the hopes of... I don't know, making you jealous? And then the kappa stays silent because that was the deal, even though it's terribly embarrassing."

Meiling looked absolutely bewildered for a second, before shaking her head. "No. No, he's more sensible than that."

"I guess you just randomly ran into the most love-stricken youkai of all time, then." You smirked. "With the same name as you."

That got a second moment of doubt from her, up until she spotted your grin. "You're just stirring the pot."

You laughed. "Consider that my petty vengeance for the photo."

"What photo?" someone asked.

The tone of voice was casual, but it wasn't Patchouli's.

Flinching, you turned around to see the newcomer. She wasn't one you had seen before, a silver-haired girl with a green skirt and a pair of sheathed swords, with a grey ghostly ball floating around her. You glanced back to the gate guard, who was looking on with wide eyes as she glanced between the intruder and your very not-disguised presence.

"Patchy's going to kill me," Meiling muttered. "Uh... hey, Youmu."

[-] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.
[-] Signal Patchouli to come over, just in case.
[?] Write-in?

((Sorry for the delay. Work was an absolute killer for the last week or so. Deadline is finally done though, so hopefully there will be more time to write now.))
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[x] Play it cool.
Problem, warrior?
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>>205417
I have a headache and took some painkillers for it and after seeing this post I for an instant genuinely believed to be back in 2010.

I'll get to voting once I'm off of it.
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[X] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.

We're not doing anything suspicious. Just loitering in a village-less patch of land where the village should be. The village disappears all the time, right?
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Hm, I'd rather have had their account of the village being gone rather than point fingers at the duo, but it's fair to treat any coincidence as intentional when investigating.

Also it got Meiling to loosen up a little so it's all good.

Youmu getting an eyeful of us is bad, but it's not actually our fault, so at least we can't get punished (too harshly) for this. I hope.

Anyway, Meiling has a terrible poker face.

This is our time to shine.

Get a read on this swordswoman.

The martial types tend to be honest and straightforward (just look at Meiling).

What we will have to get a feel for is whether she's more casual like Meiling or a more rigid, serious type.

Then we deescalate and play it down; cover for Meiling if we have to.

Show the gate guard what our charisma score is like when made use of.

[X] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.

Stay cool, boy (gal).
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[ඞ] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.
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> "Wait, is it possible he was actually flirting with you?"

Well would you look at that. Could our "Jin" possibly be trying to win the heart of our favorite Chinese gatekeeper?

Is he project his feelings towards Meiling on a similarly named kappa?

Did the kappa agree to this?

Did Jin force her into this?

Would Meiling reciprocate hypothetical feelings?

Will she finally receive a satisfying romantic subplot for the first time in a long time on this site?

Will she receive better treatment this year?

Will Greg finally be able to go back home with Sumireko?

Will Satori finally be free from this nightmare of an incident?

Will the true culprit be put in their place?

Will I ever stop asking questions which mostly have no relevance whatsoever to the plot?


Tune in nex- OK I'll shut up now.



Anyways...
[X] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.
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[-] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.

Go go Diplomancer Greg!!
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[X] Play it cool. Youmu doesn't seem to recognize you, at least.

At present Youmu was an unknown. Not least because you had no idea who she was. And that meant the question was how to fish for information without giving too much away.

"Oh, hey." You nodded to her. "How'd you sneak up on us, anyway? I know I had my back to you, but Meiling's usually pretty attentive."

"She is?" There was no hint of jest or mockery to the words. Youmu looked honestly puzzled.

"Come on, Youmu." The gate guard grumbled. "What were you doing, anyway?"

"I was just leaving the village." Youmu said, fingering the hilts of her swords. "Nothing special."

"Really?" you said, drawing the word out. "Did you know that people have been having trouble finding that exact same village recently?"

"Why? It's right there," she said, glancing behind her and then hesitating. "Wait, did Keine do something?"

It was almost disappointing. You were all prepared to be subtle and charismatic to figure out what Youmu knew, and then she just went and told you.

"Yeah. We know it's supposed to be here, but it looks like more forest. Greg here," Meiling jerked a thumb over at you, "is trying to help us actually find the place. Apparently he can see it sometimes too, some weird magic thing."

You barely avoided glaring at Meiling. What kind of opsec was that? What if Youmu had known your name but not your face?

"That is strange," Youmu agreed. "Sorry, I have no idea."

"Not even as to why Keine would have let you into the village?" you asked.

Youmu shrugged and you sighed. "What were you up to, anyway? Maybe it's related."

"I don't think so," Youmu said, biting her lip. "It was just an errand Lady Yuyuko asked of me."

You blinked, staring at the suddenly nervous youkai. "Youmu?"

"Yes?"

"Never play poker."

Her face was a study in relief and mild confusion. "Games of chance aren't my preference in any case, but why?"

You sighed and put a hand to your head. "Youmu, what did Yuyuko have you doing?"

She fingered her sword-hilts again, backing up as she stammered, "Just passing out some books and pamphlets to the humans... and talking to them a little bit."

Meiling's amused smile melted away as she turned to face the swordswoman. "Youmu, that sounds like a setup for an urban legend. Did Yukari put her up to this?"

"Isn't she asleep?"

"No! She showed up at the mansion and admitted to being behind what happened to Remilia!"

"Is there any reason to think she did beyond... you know, just her tendency to meddle in everything?" you asked.

"Oh!" Meiling hastened to explain. "So, uh, Yuyuko's the ghost princess of Hakugyokurou, and one of Yukari's friends. Youmu here is a half-phantom and her servant."

"Which makes this well within the realms of a potential Yukari plot." You groaned and addressed Youmu. "Is she involved?"

"I don't think so? She hasn't been by in a while, so I don't think Yuyuko's talked to her. I thought she was asleep."

"Yukari's gaps mean she could dodge you in an instant," Meiling said fiercely. "What was the story, Youmu?"

Youmu took another step back, stammering and waving her hands in front of her, "It's nothing bad, really! It... it's just... it had nothing to do with vampires or anything!"

You looked at Youmu, who was starting to go red in the face, and back to Meiling, who had tensed up and seemed a hair-trigger away from leaping at her. "Meiling. Could Youmu take you in a fight?"

"What? Well, with Patchy, I could-"

"That's what I thought. Wait a minute, please." You turned back to the swordswoman. She had to be aware Meiling was about five seconds from jumping her. Especially if she'd had any sort of training, and probably even without it; the gatekeeper wasn't exactly being subtle.

And yet... despite the fact that you could cut the tension with a knife, nothing in Youmu's words or body language indicated a willingness to fight. You glanced down at her swords - still sheathed, not in or near her hands. You stepped forwards, making eye contact as you spoke. "Youmu. Remilia's hurt badly. More so than you've probably been told, and she's getting worse."

Youmu's eyes went wide as you continued. "They're getting desperate. We've got some leads, that's why we're trying to get into the village, but nothing certain. I know you want to keep your lady's task private, but if there's any chance knowing more about it could help Remilia... please, Youmu."

You could see guilt, duty, and embarrassment holding a free-for-all across Youmu's psyche, but then she stiffened and nodded. "Alright. I'm out of the pamphlets, but I've got one book left. And... if it'll really help, I can demonstrate. Tell you what I had to tell the humans in the village."

Meiling relaxed noticeably. "Thanks, Youmu."

"That would help, thank you." you confirmed.

Youmu took some deep breaths, and then went ramrod straight, pulling a small book out from within her phantom-half and walking up to you and pressing it into your hands with a strangled. "Here."

You glanced down at the book, and promptly did a double take at the pocket New Testament she'd given you before staring back at Youmu in shock.

Now bright red, Youmu stammered out, "I-if you have a minute, I'd like to talk to you about the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

[-] To be continued.
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Just to address a potential concern: I'm fully aware that a lot of stories that attempt to include a message end up as poorly-disguised preaching and are significantly worse for it. (It is in fact, one of my primary gripes with both a lot of modern media and a lot of Christian media as well.) This should not be the case regarding Christianity's role in USiL. Without going into too much detail, let me just say that there are in-universe reasons behind all of this, and if I've done my job right, the eventual payoff should be compelling.
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Meiling being too honest as expected. It's endearing so it's fine.

Oh Youmu, you're so pure for somebody who is (not actually) half-dead.

My little missionary can't be this cute.

I can't say I was expecting proselytisation to happen today, but honestly I'm kinda interested to see where this'll go.

In a way, considering Greg's background this almost seems like fate.

I wonder how this "urban legend" spreading would affect things. I ain't too religious, myself.

Exorcism? Not like that doesn't exist already.

Anyway, I'm not concerned. I'm sure whatever you will cook up will turn out just fine.
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>"I-if you have a minute, I'd like to talk to you about the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Yuyuko wants to be resurrected?
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>christianity
Would you like to declare war on the following?
-Taoists
-Buddhists
-Native Gods (MoF crew)
-Reimu
-Human Village traditionalists
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I can confidently say this update got me good.

Wasn't there this thing about a Japanese Christian sect saying that Jesus after his resurrection went to Japan and did a whole bunch of stuff or something like that? I swear I heard snippets of a Ted Talk about that.



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shing%C5%8D,_Aomori

There we are. Skipping to the section about Jesus.

>Shingō village is the location of what is purported to be the resting place of Jesus, [...] and the residence of Jesus' last descendants, the family of Sajiro Sawaguchi.
>[...] Jesus Christ did not die on the cross at Golgotha. Instead, a man alleged to be his brother, Isukiri, took his place on the cross [...]
>[...] Jesus changed his name to Torai Tora Daitenku [...]
>[...] he fathered three children, all daughters.

Yeah, this still feels just as schizophrenic as the first time I heard about it. Now I wonder what Rumia is doing today...
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>>205429
>urban legends -> summoning christian divinities
yeah
yeah if I was Yukari this would merit shadowruns times one hundred
this is worse than lunarian invasion for them
...Greg can totally pull a wrecking ball if that's the case.
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>>205430
>Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome from 3 September 590 to his death.
>He is known for instituting the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the Gregorian mission, to convert the then largely pagan Anglo-Saxons to Christianity

Greg about to convert the infidels (Yōkai) of the pagan lands (Gensokyo) to Christianity (Christianity).

Shitposting aside, it's maybe plausible Yukari's plotting to revive her old friend Yuyuko (human).

>Her ability to is manipulate Death and the Souls of the Netherworld
>(Through the Urban Legend Incident) Yuyuko 'becomes' (is believed to be) part of the Sawaguchi bloodline, a direct descendant of Jesus
>She endured martyrdom by sealing the Sagyou Ayakashi making her eligible for sainthood
>? A miracle happens ?

As for why Greg's possibly significant in this...
>Canonization is a papal declaration that the Catholic faithful may venerate a particular deceased member of the church.
>Popes began making such decrees in the tenth century.
>Up to that point, the local bishops governed the veneration of holy men and women within their own dioceses; and there may have been, for any particular saint, no formal decree at all.

And he's about the closest thing to a bishop in Gensokyo. It's the first thing justifying Yukari's insistent interest in Greg I can point to that is more than him being a super special boy.
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Oh, yeah.

The resurrection.

Wow, I feel silly for no realising that angle.

Yeah, that is possible.

It would also have absolutely disastrous consequences regarding the Saigyou Ayakashi, but Greg wouldn't know about that anyway.

The Shingou thing would make it more plausible, because it shouldn't remove the body actually sealing the tree.

Anyway, as far as Greg('s current knowledge) is concerned I would say at least one of his first theories would be resurrection considering it involves a ghost.
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LMAO Youmu became a sterotypical door-to-door missionary like those old memes. She even said the line!

That aside, I dunno if I should feel like shit is hitting the fan even harder in the story now or if this is good progress for us.
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[X] Check Youmu's theology for urban legends.

It took a minute for Youmu's words to sink in. And you knew exactly when they had, because Meiling burst out laughing.

"It's not funny!" Youmu cried out. "Yuyuko told me to do it like this!"

"It really isn't," you chided Meiling.

"I know, but the way she said it- and it's Youmu" Meiling choked out, before dissolving into laughter again.

You sighed. "I apologize. For Meiling and Yuyuko both."

Youmu seemed puzzled, which you were beginning to categorize as her natural expression. "Why would you be sorry for Yuyuko?"

Deciding that it was better not to explain that there was a decent chance this was a Yukari plot involving you, you pivoted to the secondary explanation. "Sorry on your behalf, I mean. Being volunteered for something like that is difficult."

That got a nod of fellow-feeling from both Youmu and Meiling as you continued. "Regardless, could you give me the specifics of what you were telling the villagers?"

"Do I have to?" Youmu pleaded.

"I'm afraid so. The Bible contains a number of stories, and if this is meant to stir up an urban legend," which seemed quite likely at this point, "then I'll need to narrow down which."

The next few minutes were spent reviewing the youkai's preaching and Biblical knowledge. (And wasn't that a sentence for the record books?) Fortunately, Youmu's efforts had been entirely focused on the New Testament and the gospels in particular. (You were quietly relieved to discard the idea of an urban legend based off of Revelations.) And to your further surprise, Youmu's theology was more or less accurate. Not that you'd expect her to offer a cogent viewpoint on say... predestination versus free will, but she (or Yuyuko, perhaps) had put in the effort to where she could competently teach a Sunday School class. Despite Youmu's clear embarrassment over her assignment, she'd actually put together a reasonable summary of the gospel.

"I'm impressed," you admitted. "If we ever get a Bible study put together, you could probably help teach."

"Please no."

"Hang on," Meiling said. "How does all this sin and forgiveness stuff translate to an urban legend? Making people not feel guilty isn't much of a power."

You sighed. "Alright, one more time from the top. Sin is a catch-all term for every form of evil deed, also known as breaking God's law. As God is a holy and just God, He cannot abide sin, and the punishment is hell."

"Oh, like the yama?" Meiling asked. "Also, are we talking the Hell of Blazing Fires or the one with those blood pools?"

"Blazing fires, definitely," Youmu contributed.

"Oh. How's that work with Utsuho then?"

It pained you that those were meaningful questions from her perspective. It also struck you that trying to witness in Gensokyo would be a rather unique challenge. "Just so we're clear, heaven and hell as referred to in the Bible are completely different from any locations in Gensokyo that bear those names."

"But-"

"Just let me finish! The point is, because everyone has sinned, everyone is under judgement. We're all fallen, so nobody can possibly meet God's perfect standard. So in order to show mercy, God sent His Son Jesus, and the gospels are basically the story of what Jesus did. Jesus lived a perfect life and took that punishment for us, so that if we repent and follow Him, we might escape hell and get to heaven."

Meiling looked absolutely blank, and you suppressed another sigh. Maybe that was too much? You weren't sure you could really make it simpler.

"It's like if Sakuya took the punishment whenever you fell asleep at the gate, and you got rewarded as if you'd worked like Sakuya does," Youmu explained.

"That seems too good to be true," Meiling said. "Though hypothetically... I could nap as much as I wanted and nothing bad would happen?"

Youmu shook her head. "No. Your end of the deal would be to sincerely apologize for your dereliction of duty and doing your best to improve as a guard and stop falling asleep."

"But that defeats the point!" Meiling grumbled.

Did Youmu really just summarize justification and sanctification in a way that Meiling got it immediately? You looked over at the half-phantom with newfound respect. "Are you sure you don't want to teach a Bible study?"

"No! I mean yes, I'm sure!" the half-phantom said, blushing again.

You chuckled. "Regardless, you're right that the actual message of Christianity doesn't really translate to an urban legend. Both because the gospel is complex, and because forgiveness of sins is not a power magic can grant."

"So... what is it, then?" Youmu asked.

You glanced back at her. That had sounded like an honest question, not just her setting you up. With a mental shrug, you continued. "It's far more likely that an urban legend here would focus on a specific aspect of Jesus's ministry. Namely, His miracles."

"Hang on," Meiling said. "You said Jesus was God's Son, couldn't it be about that?"

You shook your head. "No. The magic just can't do it. A magical spell or ritual cannot create an effect stronger than the original power source, and urban legends are no exception. The power of God and Jesus is literally infinite, and the occult balls aren't. The best they could do would be imitating the subset of His power that's both highlighted in the gospels and actually seems feasible for magic. Which brings us back to His miracles."

"The first possibility is the most central of those miracles; the Resurrection. I'm not actually sure if an urban legend could raise the dead, but that is the kind of power Yukari might think worthwhile." You glanced at Youmu. "And it might also be of interest to your ghost princess."

"No, she wouldn't!" Youmu exclaimed.

"Wasn't that the whole point of stealing spring in the first place?" Meiling asked.

"She didn't know the body beneath the tree was hers." Youmu defended. "She promised!"

"Well, it is a possibility," you said, looking away. "Speaking of which, the other options would be the more common miracles Jesus did. The first category there is healing. The sick, the lame, the blind, paralyzed people, lepers... pretty much anything."

That got Meiling's attention immediately. "Could it work on Remilia?"

"Probably." you replied. "Remilia's urban legend isn't exactly a sickness, but what's its done to her should be healable. And while that's merely treating the symptoms, a repeatable low-cost solution would make the problem manageable."

It also had a real chance of working on Koishi. You left that unspoken for now.

Meiling stopped to consider that. "Is there a catch? That sounds almost too good to be true, and I don't see what Yukari gets out of it."

"Beyond the point that the actual urban legend might end up being something completely different? Not really. Miraculous healing is just unambiguously a good thing." Sure, there was probably some sort of monkey's paw story out there where cellular regeneration turned into super-cancer, but you wouldn't get any of that out of the Bible. "As for what Yukari gets out of it... I'm not sure. It's possible it's a peace offering, but that seems too simple."

"I would have gone with bargaining chip," Patchouli's voice rang out through your binding. "Sight to the blind? An urban legend that could heal Satori's sister might make you reconsider her offer."

... or one that could heal Remilia might tempt the mansion's crew to hand you over. You didn't think they'd trust Yukari enough for that, but it was a terrifying thought. "There are easier ways to commit suicide. Some prices are too high."

"Indeed." Patchouli said. "But you're correct to look for a catch. The end result of Yukari's scheme must be something more than fixing a problem the scheme caused."

"It is possible she's setting up more than one urban legend," you reflected, "but I agree."

"Wait, has Patchouli been listening this entire time?" Youmu asked, looking at your binding with curiosity.

"Just because I have work to do is no reason to leave them unsupervised," Patchouli said drily. "Which reminds me, I'll be speaking to Sakuya about this later, Meiling."

Meiling winced and you rolled your eyes. "To be fair, Youmu came out from behind Keine's effect. Meiling can't be blamed for not seeing her coming."

"The pair of you could have been more discrete." the mage replied. Which with you being undisguised... yeah, fair enough.

"Anyway, the last likely candidate for an urban legend from Youmu's ministry would be casting out demons." You said, blatantly changing the subject. "It's hard to say how widely that would apply. Depending on just how the urban legend takes hold, it could cover just demons or those species close to it, or possibly a majority of youkai."

"Casting out?" Meiling asked.

"Banishment," you supplied. "Possibly even commanding, considering that it happened through Jesus ordering the demons to leave."

"That's the possibility to be most worried about," Patchouli said. "Even in its most minimal form, it would amount to a significant amount of power over some of Gensokyo's more dangerous youkai."

"But why would Yukari need it?" Youmu asked. "She's already one of the most powerful youkai around."

It was a good question. "I don't think Yukari could get this for herself in any case. To get an urban legend, you need some similarity to the actual story. And while Jesus displayed miraculous power, His most notable characteristic is His love. The virtue kind of love, I mean. He acted self-sacrificingly for the benefit of others, even His enemies. It's pretty much the opposite of Yukari."

Meiling eyed you uneasily at that. "Didn't you say something similar about love to Satori?"

"You could at least pretend you hadn't listened to that!" You snapped at her, ignoring Youmu's curious look.

"It does touch on a relevant point," Patchouli said. "Considering you're likely the only actual Christian in Gensokyo, the obvious candidate for any of these urban legends is you."

She wasn't wrong. But was this a tremendous opportunity, or a trap you'd be walking into?

[-] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.
[-] Getting a healing urban legend could solve so much. Even if it's Yukari's plan, the benefits are worth shooting for.
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Fuck Yukari.

All my homies hate Yukari.

Yukari plots stink like hagdiapers.

Resurrection seems out, Banishment is possible, but Healing seems plausible.

But I feel like "healing" Remilia would just kill her.

As we'd also cure her vampirism. So she either dies immediately or turns human, neither is wanted. (Or maybe it is?)

It would fix a lot of other problems, but Fuck Yukari.

Do not trust Gap Hag. File restraining order against Gap Hag. Remove Gap Hag from premises.

[X] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.
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[X] Getting a healing urban legend could solve so much. Even if it's Yukari's plan, the benefits are worth shooting for.

Do it. For Satori. Become a martyr.
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[x] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.
No. Absolutely, completely and utterly NO. And there is actual reasoning for no this time!

1) We're completely not in control of conception of this urban legend. It could be anything. It could be Shingō village, it could be Saint Gregory, it could be evil Demon Dark Lord Xavier.
2) It's Yukari. The end goal of THIS mess is to have a facsimile, an imitation of Christianity's influence. Consider the thematical implications of what Greg and Sumi did within the story - Greg protected Sumi so far, got captured for her, looked on what the other side is currently like and is currently siding with them instead of working for himself. Sumi, on the other hand, had to win a fight with the god to live. At this rate, Seija will turn her into a terrorist. Within this story, Greg's love for his surroundings is genuine, so I argue that turning to fake love, an imitation is plain wrong.
3) Abovementioned religious war argument. If we commit, suddenly Taoists AND Buddhists are now hyper enemies. Possibly enemies to Sumi by association too!
4) We're not really desperate enough.
5) It's a distraction, get to Keine already.
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[X] Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.

Honestly, I'm not even sure that this is a Yukari plot (Not to say that it can't be) but even if there'd be incredible benefit to cultivating such a legend, I have one simple counterpoint:

Koishi's already going and trying to do one for us anyway, and it would be rude to pass on that. Have some manners.
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>Meiling eyed you uneasily at that. "Didn't you say something similar about love to Satori?"

Jesus Christ Meiling, do you air out your mistress' dirty laundry in public as well?

If I were to assume Yukari a megalomaniac, Banishment would be her ticket to the de-facto absolute rule of Gensokyo, assuming, again, that it'd work indiscriminately.
Greg being the most likely person to receive the particular powers of the Urban Legend would be a reason for Yukari to push him to become her shikigami.

[x] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.
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This is clearly a trap and you have more import concerns right now
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>>205439

> If I were to assume Yukari a megalomaniac

Honestly, I'm not sure I agree with this initial assumption. Like, yeah, she definitely wants to be powerful and respected and all, but I don't feel like she'd want/need a magical banishment ticket. If she wanted that, she might as well just gap people out of Gensokyo directly, no need for Greg.

Besides that... the whole point of Gensokyo was to provide a place for fantasy to survive. All of the sages agreed with that basic premise enough to help make it, even if they are radically different in other ways.

TLDR: Youmu's right: People already think of her as a dreaded, powerful force, and she made this place for youkai, so she doesn't need it.
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[X] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.
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I’m not too sure on a couple of things here, as >>205441 said the whole casting out demons if it applied to Youkai, well Yukari already can do that without a urban legend, not to mention on a couple of things, firstly that the closest analogy to youkai wouldn’t be demons, but rather the Fae (though granted the villagers *might* be able to be convinced towards that as Greg stated and thus have the UL apply.)

But there’s also the fact that its been emphasized that Youmu has been pretty good at conveying things in a clear and understandable manner which means that the casting out demons miracle, even if made to apply to youkai, would probably only but created in the same manner, which means only working in cases of actual possession, which as far as I can recall only have a handful of actual example to be found in Gensokyo.

There’s vengeful spirits, which of the number that we know of (as in we, not characters in touhou.) the only one that is known for possessing people isn’t due for…5 or 6 incidents from this one?

There’s the perfect possession incident (which iirc someone posted might be what Yukari might be forming a powerful UL to head off…) which leads/ties to…

The Yorigami sisters, see above.

Then there’s a couple of interesting ones here…

First the dream souls, which is really only mainly a concern to a couple of people that have a certain magical malady (though I don’t recall where I saw that sooo I might be wrong about it, apologies if so.) which is basically how Sumi travels 2… or 3 people, one of which would be Sumireko following canon ULiL because of the events of the game (seeing her doppelganger in Gensokyo.)... and the second is Maribel and/or Yukari.

And then the more interesting example for our current circumstances, would be Shikigami.


So is Yuyuko helping Yukari here? Or is something going on like how apparently Ran (by Yukari’s own admission to Sumi.) is not obeying currently.

Also from what Yukari has been saying to Greg, specifically how “Being a good man is not in your nature. … I look forwards to when you break that facade and show your true self."” which means that if Greg somehow slots into this possible UL(s), its not in a good way… though he did note that Youmu evangelism definitively didn’t involve Revelations, which means that the/a Antichrist is off the table. Though what that would leave the Evil Greg that Yukari wants for her plans to fit into unknown for me… hm.

As for the vote? Well, I’m not sure this is a Yukari plot, and I have a suspicion that something has happened to Yukari (either she got Violet detector’d, or something else. And maybe both Ran and Yuyuko and trying something?) so…

[x] Getting a healing urban legend could solve so much. Even if it's Yukari's plan, the benefits are worth shooting for.
[x] jokingly invite Youmu to your father’s Bible study if she’s ever in the outside world.
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I'm not sure how devout Greg is in his faith, but isn't usurping the power of God considered a major sin in Christianity? Like "do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to Hell" kind of sin? Let me just refresh myself on the 10 commandments real quick.

1. Thou shalt not worship any God before Me.
2. Thou shalt not create false idols.
3. Thou shalt not take the Lords name in vain.

Yep, this rule is so important that the very first three are against this sort of thing. According to Greg's religion, assisting Yukari in turning himself into a Pseudo-Jesus would basically guarantee Greg a one way ticket to the deepest darkest pits of Hell.

And wouldn't that just be the cherry on top of Yukari's manipulation Sundae. Screw with Greg his entire life, manipulate him into bringing Urban Legends to life, coerce him into becoming her Shikigami mind slave by forcing him to agree to use an Urban Legend to become Pseudo-Jesus, then as soon as the Shikigami spirit punts Greg's soul out of Greg's body, laugh as Greg's soul immediately plunges straight to Hell to suffer for all eternity for blaspheming against God as Greg's final act in life. Then Yukari rules Gensokyo with an iron fist with the almost omnipotent power of the Pseudo-Christian-God as her slave.

Accepting this deal would fuck us over so thoroughly its not even funny.

[-] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.
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You all assume that Greg is the target. Considering it's Youmu that's doing the legwork for her Evangelism theology major, it's probably just her.
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>>205441
Not that I'm invested in the idea of a power-hungry Yukari, but there is a reason why my mind went to Banishment.
The Urband Legends have been exceedingly powerful in the niche they fulfill. Be it them amplifying existing powers (Mokou) or creating unwinnable scenarios (Yorigamis).
Most of the major power players have their ways to cross the barrier if need be; Kanako transported the whole shrine. The sages - and Reimu - all have their own gap-like instant travel capabilities as well. All the people who Yukari is would be able to exile by her own powers are largely insignificant.

The thing about Banishment would be Nuclear No Return Option. Easing off of the thought of Yukari desiring power alone; In her hands this can be used to absolutely ensure the continued existence of Gensokyo. Yukari already had to come up with whole campaigns to either humble or, if needed, eliminate out-of-line Yōkai.
Having that Red Button at her disposal would allow her to keep everyone in check with hardly any risk and no effort.
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Well, there's theories of this resulting in good and theories of this resulting in bad.
Frankly, to me it doesn't matter.
It's a Yukari plot and we have absolutely 0 reason or inclination to go along with anything she will ever cook up.
This might be bordering on an irrational, illogical and exclusively emotional response, especially considering Greg is always The Man with the Plan, but I'd say his trauma with Yukari/Maribel would go so deep to completely disregard anything coming from her.
It was life-defining for him, after all.
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the thing is, we aren't voting for whether this Urban legend will go forward, we're voting to see if we pay attention to it or try to ignore it. even, or maybe especially if this is a Yukari plot is all the more reason to get involved, because if it is something that Yukari cooked up that is going to bite ... son of a gun I know what Yuyuko is going for... more on that in a second. AHEM, if this is something that Yukari cooked up that is targeting us, or at the very least going to bite us, or Remilia's crew, or Sumireko, then sticking our nose in is better than getting blindsided by it later down the line.

now... Greg doesn't know enough about Yuyuko to see what miracle she is going for... but its kinda obvious now that I see it...

She's going for the "feeds thousands with a couple loaves of bread and fish" miracle!
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>>205447

the thing is that the only one that has said that this is a Yukari plot is Greg. so we don't know for sure if it actually is her plot or if Greg is being (understandably, though possibly still incorrectly) paranoid. it is quite possibly just a UL being set up to feed Yuyuko's hunger here. Furthermore in Greg's discussion with Satori he had the thought of using a part of what is pretty much the same UL as we ran into here to help Koishi ("opening the eyes of the blind")
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[X] This is clearly a Yukari plot. Better to lay low and avoid it entirely.

"This looks like bait," you said bluntly. "If this was actually intended to work to our benefit, why not just be up-front about it?"

"When is Yukari up-front about anything?" Youmu asked. "She enjoys pulling strings more than anyone."

"That is true," Patchouli said thoughtfully. "Using people is her standard behavior."

"Like that time Remilia went to the moon?" Meiling said, smiling slightly.

Youmu sighed. "Yuyuko refused to explain any of it to me until after we'd gotten back. And even then she kept saying that I should be able to figure it out myself!"

Patchouli scoffed. "You mean her sending four of Gensokyo's strongest to space, while organizing a separate trip for herself and her servant, all in the name of independently distracting both Watatsuki sisters so that Yuyuko could steal their alcohol? Surely even the dullest person could preemptively spot that."

You paused to parse that. "Maybe I'm just jaded, but that seems relatively straightforwards. At least compared to the current mess."

Everyone winced at that, but Patchouli looked thoughtful. "Youmu, what do you know about the current incident?"

"Not much," she said. "Yuyuko's kept me busy with the garden lately. It didn't even get to hear about urban legends until after she had me come out to... you know."

"Evangelize?" you finished. Youmu gave a tight nod, her face red.

"And even then she said not to bother with Sumireko and come straight back."

Meiling patted her on the shoulder. "Sounds to me like she tried to keep you out of it. At least, until now."

"That, or Yuyuko didn't want her questioning exactly why she'd been told to preach," you muttered.

Youmu winced at that and you mentally kicked yourself. That wasn't tactful. Patchouli carried onwards regardless. "That's the real question, isn't it? A possible solution has appeared, and you would argue for ignoring it?"

"Do you really want to test what a Christian urban legend would do to a vampire that styles herself the Scarlet Devil?" you asked. "Maybe it heals her, maybe it turns her human, maybe it vaporizes her."

"Don't you know your own religion?" Patchouli probed.

"Of course I do." you snapped back. "What I don't know is what the average Gensokyo dweller will believe, misunderstand, or outright make up about Christianity. From what she's said, Youmu has been pretty disicplined and on-message, but the problem with urban legends is that they can develop unpredictably. Remilia herself is proof enough of that!"

You started pacing, glaring back and forth between the three of them. "Left to develop on its own, I'd guess there's maybe... one chance in three you'd get the sort of healing urban legend you want? And that's assuming this isn't bait. What if Yukari's focused it around how Christians are supposed to be slaves to righteousness, and God's servants, and somehow ties that into a shikigami contract? Or worse, if she manages to pull that off with the 'slaves to sin' bit, which could theoretically get literally everyone?"

Patchouli looked at you levelly. "Is that a serious possibility?"

"I don't think Yukari would do something like that," Youmu ventured. Everyone turned to glare at her, but she stood her ground. "I know she plots a lot, but it's usually for Gensokyo... somehow."

You barely restrained yourself from snapping at her. She wasn't the enemy, and she didn't know. Patchouli looked to be gearing up for another cutting analysis, but it was Meiling who responded first. "Maybe. Hopefully, even! It'd make our lives a lot easier if she wasn't an enemy. But she's definitely up to something, and she already has a lot to answer for."

"I rather suspect Sakuya and the Scarlets will be asking those particular questions," Patchouli said. "But again. The... shikigami concept. Is that a serious possibility?"

"It's apocryphal," you said, sighing. "It's not the natural idea I'd expect anyone's mind to jump to, just my personal worst case scenario. Her getting everyone probably isn't possible; there's just not enough magical power for that. But enslaving me specifically could be, especially if I'm the one ending up with the urban legend."

"Is there a way to be certain?"

"Nothing's really certain with all of this. Talking to the villagers should give us a good idea of where it's heading, at least." You shrugged. "And it could still be something relatively innocent on Yuyuko's part, we can't forget that. But my gut says it isn't. I have a bad feeling this is bait, and I'm not sure how."

It actually reminded you of playing chess with Sumireko. Every so often she'd make an "obvious blunder", hanging a piece and inviting you to take it. And every time, taking the bait would let Sumi execute some tactic, ripping apart your position and guaranteeing your loss. Every time.

Patchouli nodded. "We'll defer to your intestinal expertise for now. Rushing blindly into one of Yukari's machinations is inviting trouble at the best of times."

"Wait, we're passing up on something that could help Remilia?" Meiling asked. "Just like that?"

"Meiling, if a talented fighter leaves an obvious hole in their defense and you try to take it, what happens?"

"There could still be an opening," she defended. "Their trap could be flawed as well."

"If you're skilled enough to see and analyze the trap in its entirety, possibly." Patchouli responded. "What happens to the novice?"

Meiling sighed. "They go down hard."

"Indeed. It may be we can take apart Yukari's trap later; but only once we're certain of its exact nature. For the time being, it's better to wait and analyze."

"If it's that dangerous, shouldn't we just stop the spread of Christianity?" Meiling asked. "Deny the urban legend altogether?"

"Bad idea!" you said hurriedly. "For a few reasons. First off, that could very well be the trap. Second, it wouldn't work; trying to hide something only makes people more interested what you're hiding. And thirdly, Christianity in particular is very resistant to such things. Historically speaking, attempts at suppression ended poorly."

And fourthly... laying low and not rushing into a trap was one thing, but trying to stop the spread of the actual gospel wasn't something you wanted to contemplate.

"Trying anything like that could get us associated with Christianity anyway, but as the side destined to burn in Hell," you continued. "I think we're better off taking a passive approach. Wait and see, then act."

Patchouli looked at you closely. "Perhaps that would be best for now. Though I'm not happy to have yet another factor to consider."

There's a bit more grumbling from Meiling, but she doesn't say anything. Youmu meanwhile looks... passively upset and still a little embarrassed. Which is more than reasonable, all things considered. If anything, she's taking it better than most people would, let alone most youkai.

You turn back to Patchouli and change the subject. "Anyway, given that you're over here, did you finish work on that, ah, magic altering device?"

"Indeed," the mage said, smiling. "Shall we test it out?"

[-] To be continued.
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[-] Patchouli's craftsmanship.

Patchouli was an experienced mage. You weren't really sure how old she was, but you were certain that she was an order of magnitude older than you, and probably had two orders more experience than you did. You'd seen the elegance of her rune setup in the bindings you and Satori already wore, as well as her ritual setup that she'd used to fight Yukari and cast her truth spell. And that one was probably temporary and hastily erected to boot.

Which is to say, it was something of a surprise when Patchouli's "magic altering device" looked like she'd used an old washcloth for scrap paper and then assaulted it with a spool of wire. A piece of scrap fabric, possibly from a cloth bandage or a strip of curtain formed the base. The one part of it that actually looked magical was a golden gem set in the center, polished to a shine. There were runes on it, you could see them, but rather than the elegant calligraphy you'd expected, they were significantly rougher, with a couple being smeared (or in one spot burned) away, and lines connecting them being done with wire or mud.

Speaking of which, Patchouli was using a couple of those wires to literally tie the patch into the binding you were already wearing and you looked at her uncertainly. "Just to be clear, what's the risk of magical unpleasantness here?"

"Less than you'd risk by walking through the village," she said.

"So... fifty-fifty?" Meiling said drily.

"This may surprise you, but I was unable to bring my entire workshop along." Patchouli replied. "It's fortunate I had the necessary tools on-hand."

"Where exactly did you carry them, anyway?" you asked. "Aside from the one book, you weren't- ow!"

You jerked back as Patchouli poked you with a wire, and the mage smirked. "I do intend to leave at least some of my magic secret."

"Oh, magic. I take it that means the book somehow doubles as stora-agh!"

You glared at the mage in question as a wire pricked you again. "Come on, really?"

"I'm not doing this out of pettiness," Patchouli said.

"Come on, that can't possibly be-", you were at least somewhat expecting it this time and gritted your teeth through it, "that serious a secret."

"It isn't," she said. "The patch needs to attune to your magic as well. And lacking a more sophisticated alternative, that means a small amount of blood."

Youmu looked a little lost. "Would it help if I used my swords?"

"That won't be necessary!" you yelled, before glaring at Patchouli. "Are you telling me I'm getting a mud-stained rag pressed up against a bleeding wound?"

She poked you again and you winced. "That's an exaggeration. It requires a few strategically-placed drops."

"Because bloodletting is such an exact science," you retorted.

"When you share a home with two vampires, it is."

"Except when she gets a nosebleed," Meiling chimed in.

Patchouli shot Meiling a dirty look, but the gate guard was utterly unrepentant.

But pinpricks and peanut gallery comments aside, you were soon outfitted with the second binding, with only a moderate amount of discomfort involved.

"Huh, that looks intricate," Youmu commented, peering at your original binding. "What exactly is all this meant to do?"

Patchouli and Meiling both hesitated at that. It would seem they hadn't bothered to plan out a cover story for your binding, given that you were supposed to be disguised the whole time. You could make something up easily enough, but... should you?

[-] Let Patchouli and Meiling figure it out. Neither of them strike you as natural liars, and you can hardly be blamed if Youmu has doubts about their answer.
[-] Actively cover for them. Youmu knowing your situation might not be to your advantage, and there's goodwill to be won here.
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[x] Actively cover for them. Youmu knowing your situation might not be to your advantage, and there's goodwill to be won here.
Hm.
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[x] Actively cover for them. Youmu knowing your situation might not be to your advantage, and there's goodwill to be won here.
jts time to FUCKING LIE here
there is no downside here, if she figures it out, it tells more than if she figures out that the other two lied
if she's clueless it's better to be in control
no downside
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[X] Let Patchouli and Meiling figure it out. Neither of them strike you as natural liars, and you can hardly be blamed if Youmu has doubts about their answer.

Time to take a piss.
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[-] Actively cover for them. Youmu knowing your situation might not be to your advantage, and there's goodwill to be won here.

I can see a future situation where Sumi arrives to rescue Greg, and he somehow already has them as full on allies, she's gonna be so exasperated and/or annoyed!
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[x] Actively cover for them. Youmu knowing your situation might not be to your advantage, and there's goodwill to be won here.

>>205599 I'd be careful about potentially misconstruing things. They're in this for Remilia, right? And Greg is pretty much at the mercy of that binding. They won't backstab him or anything drastic like that, but Greg is probably a means to an end. I dunno if I'd call them ally material.
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Not that this is a write-in, but the easy half-truth here is probably to say that the binding is designed to help Greg see the village and that Patchouli is doing an on-the-fly improvement.

A potential follow up response if Youmu asks questions is to begrudgingly admit to being an illusionist and say that the binding leverages that to work.

Technically the truth lol.
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Way too late to vote, and I would've voted for the winner anyway, but I wanted to comment on that choice and sorta forgot due to being busy.
So, I'll just do it now to get it out of my system.

>and there's goodwill to be won here.

Basically, I don't agree with this part at the end due to what it implies.
We've already committed to playing nice and helping, but implying we're going to cover for them here to farm goodwill is a bit of skewed priorities in my eyes.
I understand that Greg (and by extension, us anons as well) tends to consider the pros and cons of every action, but it also implies he's not being helpful just to help them out.
That's not necessarily bad, but it's a perfect example of what he was just talking about to Meiling; where it's him, even subconsciously or not, being manipulative.
Anyway, I just wanted to point it out, because while I'm sure he isn't entirely ignorant of this, it might be good for him to keep it in mind.
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[x] Actively cover for them. Youmu knowing your situation might not be to your advantage, and there's goodwill to be won here.

"It's basically a recording device," you said, tugging at your binding, "Ever since the urban legend incident started, my magic has felt different, even though I haven't got one."

It was a comment with a hook on the end. Patchouli and Meiling clearly saw it, but they just as clearly weren't sure what to do about it, while Youmu displayed no hesitation in taking the bait.

"So you are a magician then?" the half-phantom asked, idly scratching behind her ear.

And with that, Youmu had shown interest, even if just a casual one, in what you were saying. It would be more difficult and suspicious for the other two to redirect the conversation away from it, particularly since that made it your turn to speak in the conversation.

"That's being generous," you deflected, smiling. "I've got a couple spells, and I've read a bit more theory, but nothing on the scale Gensokyo finds interesting. But all the same, it is my magic, and I wanted to know what was going on with it. Patchouli's a mage, and I heard she was looking into anything and everything she could find out about urban legends."

You shrugged. "And from there, well, one thing led to another. I know she's looking into it for Remilia's sake, but I'm still very grateful for her help. Who knows what I'd be doing if Sakuya hadn't introduced us?"

The looks on Patchouli and Meiling's faces were priceless. Something that you were not about to draw attention to no matter how satisfying it was. Thankfully, Youmu had her back to them and hadn't noticed. "Is that how that happened?" she asked. "Most villagers are scared of the mansion's residents."

"To be fair, they're a little scary," you admitted. "But to be honest, I just ended up running into some youkai while I was outside the village. A fight broke out, and it was looking rough, but Sakuya was in the area, fought through them all, and got me back to the mansion in one piece."

"I'll admit, that seems rather lucky."

"Well, Tewi was involved, so I suspect my luck was out of the ordinary. But yes, after waking up at the mansion and finding out what had happened, well, what could I do but help out?"

"That's honorable of you, but from what I've heard this incident is getting dangerous. Are you sure?"

"I might be just a little uncertain," you admitted, "but there's no way I could just walk away at this point."

Youmu smiled and nodded approvingly. "I understand. I've found it difficult to let things be as well, even when my mistress has explicitly given me other instructions."

You nodded back, realizing you were rather enjoying this. There always had been a certain joy to spinning a good story, even when you'd been at your worst. Doing it now, where failure didn't mean death and the tale wasn't for petty or malicious ends was surprisingly refreshing. However, all good things must come to an end, and Patchouli had finally recovered from her surprise.

"I promise you, Greg's cooperation and the danger involved have been taken into account," the mage said, eyeing you warily.

"As if that was ever in doubt," you said, smiling at her before turning back to Youmu. "Patchy might act standoffish, but she's quite dependable... and a bit of a softie deep down."

"Marisa's said much the same," Youmu said thoughtfully. "I thought that might just be her unusual outlook at play, but it's good the two of you were able to hit it off."

Youmu was tactful enough not to say aloud that Patchouli could probably use more friends, or that she should get out more. But you didn't need to be Satori to know that's what she was thinking.

"By the way, just what have you heard about the incident?" Patchouli cut in almost desperately.

As changes of subject went, it was clumsy at best, and did a poor job of hiding the mage's embarrassment. However, Youmu was polite enough not to play along, so it did redirect the conversation to something less dangerous, and far more useful for Patchouli.

Youmu sighed. "Not much, really. Just what I heard at the incident resolvers' meeting yesterday."

And as the half-phantom detailed the Sumireko sightings of the past few days, you learned a few things as well.

"Wait. Sumireko's been where?!"

[-] To be continued.

((Happy Easter, guys! To celebrate, have a minor resurrection of the story.

No particular RL excuse this time, just me needing to work out my motivation and playing a few too many video games. On the plus side, Unicorn Overlord is proving to be excellent.))
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Happy easter!
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[-] Back to more important things.

Six places. Scarlet Devil Mansion, Hakugyokurou, Myouren Temple, Shining Needle Castle, the human village, and the Hakurei Shrine. Discounting the places you and Sumi had actually been, that left four fake sightings. Needless to say, everyone present was interested in interrogating politely asking Youmu for everything she knew about Sumireko's activities.

To both your and Patchouli's frustration, Youmu's lack of curiosity was not unique to the present conversation. With Yuyuko forbidding her to actively take part in the current incident, she'd hadn't gathered details on what "Sumireko" was doing beyond what she'd heard during this meeting yesterday, and nothing beyond that. She hadn't even heard about the brawl at Eientei!

Though considering what Sakuya or Flandre might do with a lead on Sumi's current location, it might be for the best. Even if them catching the imposter would solve a lot of problems.

Regardless, what Youmu did recall was bad enough. Her own encounter was surprisingly mild, and Patchouli had already told you about the mansion's encounter, but finding out Sumi had been framed for a break-in and a haunting (of all the stupid things!) was... not ideal. Not to mention, this was only what happened yesterday! There were probably more fake Sumireko sightings that had happened in the meantime.

Not that it was likely to matter at this point. Sumireko's reputation was already at rock bottom, it wasn't like the imposter could make things much worse.

You sighed. These were all very important revelations that you'd have to discuss at length after Youmu was out of earshot. But all of this could be dangerously moot if you couldn't actually get into the human village.

And so, you stood there, reaching out with your magic towards where you knew Keine's illusion had to be as Patchouli slowly ramped up the power of the binding. It was... weird. If using your magic was like breathing, then the binding was like having a weight lying on your chest, steadily growing heavier. It wasn't stopping you, not quite, but just holding your magic out there was taking effort. Not painfully (Patchouli had been good to her word about turning the punishment off for this, and thank goodness for that), but it was awkwardly uncomfortable. Like exercising a muscle you never normally used.

The tricky part became finding a break-point where you could actually detect the illusion. With the first few attempts, the village went from completely invisible to obviously there with absolutely no in-between. The obvious next step was to shift the binding's effectiveness more slowly. Even magical detection had edge cases; there had to be a point where the illusion would waver.

And there was.

"There! Hold it right there!" you shouted, as Patchouli froze.

Keine's barrier shimmered in and out of existence. It was like an optical illusion, where if you tilted your head just right, the village was there, but any other way it wasn't. Except instead of tilting your head, you had to tilt history. If the exact right sequence of events had happened, then the village existed. Otherwise, it never had.

"Of course. Keine's a youkai of history, isn't she? That makes this empty forest something that might have been," you murmured.

Which meant one way of fixing the problem would be setting the village's history back in order. Now that you saw the weave, you might be able to force an idea into it, to ask reality itself what might have been. Doubtless this would be how Keine herself would approach the task, as it would fix the issue for good.

But you'd only get the real human village back by replicating the real history. Anything else would be just another what-if. It might be a village, it might even have humans in it, but it wouldn't be this village, that had heard of your urban legends. Fascinating, but not actually useful. Which meant that a direct reversal was only possible if you knew the true history and exactly how it had been altered. Keine would naturally be aware of both of those with her abilities, but you didn't have that advantage. As it turned out, if you didn't know your history, you were doomed to be unable to repeat it.

Alternatively, while Keine's ability seemed absolutely amazing, it was just trickery in the end. Rather than trying to beat her at her own game, you could just flip the metaphorical table and unravel the magic directly. The danger there was just how deep Keine's magic might go. The present could be viewed as a consequence of the past, and if tearing the magic up tore the past up, you might cause damage you could barely understand, let alone fix. Taking a destructive approach would almost certainly alert Keine, but it wasn't a full moon yet, and you were pretty sure Patchouli and Meiling could take her. The bigger question was what kind of backup she might have available, but if it came to that, Flandre was waiting back at the mansion.

There could also be a middle ground to walk here. Destabilizing the altered history would be easier and less destructive than trying to wreck it all in one go, and the thing about telling a story is that your story had to be consistent. The more it changed, the more details that were added and shuffled around, the easier it would be to poke holes in it. And a lie with holes getting poked in it has a remarkable tendency to collapse all at once.

Decisions, decisions.

[-] Try to fix the history.
[-] Try to destroy Keine's magic.
[-] Try to destabilize the altered history.
[?] Or is there a better idea?
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[X] Or is there a better idea?
- [X] First, let's slow the fuck down. Get as much information about the spell as we can before we do anything. We're not the only spellcaster here, after all, surely there's some insights Patchy can give.
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[X] Or is there a better idea?
- [X] First, let's slow the fuck down. Get as much information about the spell as we can before we do anything. We're not the only spellcaster here, after all, surely there's some insights Patchy can give.

outsource this to pachy, we're too eager to fuck things up today
FAR too eager
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[X] Or is there a better idea?
- [X] First, let's slow the fuck down. Get as much information about the spell as we can before we do anything. We're not the only spellcaster here, after all, surely there's some insights Patchy can give.

>>206174
It's only yokai nature, running its course.
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[X] Or is there a better idea?
- [X] First, let's slow the fuck down. Get as much information about the spell as we can before we do anything. We're not the only spellcaster here, after all, surely there's some insights Patchy can give.

Yeah this is a good call. Even if she has no major opinions on it the mere act of peer review and thinking it over is good when dealing with magical effects that you don't understand.
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[X] Or is there a better idea?
- [X] First, let's slow down. Get as much information about the spell as we can before we do anything. We're not the only spellcaster here, after all, surely there's some insights Patchy can give.

It was tempting to act. Your instincts were telling you that you could solve this, and more than that, that you should act immediately. Quite frankly, the thought of an illusion that you couldn't deal with was irritating on a level that reason had nothing to do with. And in all fairness, trusting your instincts had been working more often than not in Gensokyo.

But pride and a gut feeling had no business overriding your better judgement, so you took the time to explain to Patchouli what you were seeing.

"Before trying anything else, how much magic can you wield at it?" she asked.

"You've only got the binding around half strength," you said, "and Keine's effect feels like it relies more on finesse and being hard to interact with than brute force. I doubt I can flat out overwhelm it, but I can throw enough at it to disrupt it."

Patchouli bit her lip, staring intently at you. "Weave your magic into it. As much as you can, as tightly as you can. "

You pushed, but immediately encountered resistance, so you hesitated. "Just throwing magic in with no direction could be unpredictable," you warned. "It'll be a lot easier if I aim for a specific change."

"Why would that matter?" Meiling asked, and you nearly jumped. You'd half-forgotten the others were here.

"You know how electric circuits are rated for a specific voltage?"

"What?"

Right, wrong technology level. You racked your mind for a different example, but Patchouli beat you to the punch. "Filling a spell with energy can be thought of like filling a bowl with rice," she said. "The bowl is designed to accommodate only so much, and while you can fill it over the top, doing so requires careful balance. If you need a great deal more rice than the bowl accommodates, you should change the bowl."

"Please don't say it like that," Youmu said. "The last thing I need is for Yuyuko to try eating magic too."

Meiling chuckled at that, but Patchouli turned back to you. "Pick something obviously visible," she said. "An effect that will make it apparent just how far your magic spreads."

You glanced at her, hesitating. "What would-"

"A world where winter never left," Youmu said. "Where spring was stolen, and didn't come back."

"Really?" Meiling asked.

You were a little worried the concept of spring being stolen might be too esoteric, but it was enough. Keine's magic took to it readily, accepting it as something that might have happened. A chilling wind blew through as the leaves left on the trees around you started dropping. Reaching outwards from you and spreading forwards, frost coated the ground, first lightly, then accumulating into actual snow.

Breathing heavily, you envisioned the scenario in your mind. A winter that never ended, but only grew deeper. Where the snow coated the ground first in inches, then feet. As it deepened, the winter wonderland turned into a blizzard, then an arctic wasteland. Laden with snow, trees started to fall, uprooted from winds and the weight of snow.

Panting now, you dropped to a knee, trying to force out a little more, but that was as much as you could hold in one go.

Meiling stared at you. "Since when could you could do that?!"

"It's not real," Patchouli said. "The village beneath won't have even noticed."

"It could have been," Youmu said grimly.

You glanced at her. "Is... everything alright?"

The swordswoman shook her head. "Just a reminder that not all of Lady Yuyuko's plans are for the best."

Youmu turned to your group and offered a quick bow. "Given you seem to have the matter well in hand, I should depart. I need to discuss some things with my lady."

"For what it's worth, you've been helpful," Patchouli said, with a faint smile. "Good luck with her."

You were mostly focused trying to keep concentration on the magic you were holding, but you and Meiling offered your own goodbyes as Youmu left quickly.

"Was that anything I need to worry about?" you asked.

"No," Patchouli said. "At Yuyuko's bidding, Youmu helped cause an incident that would have resulted in this. Seeing the results clearly made her uncomfortable."

"I remember that," Meiling said. "Sakuya made her displeasure known, that's for sure."

"Regardless," Patchouli said, growing serious. "I'd estimate this winter has covered an area similar to the mansion's grounds. That should be more than sufficient."

"And no lions or wardrobes were involved," you muttered. "So now what?"

"Concentrate on holding your magic still," Patchouli commanded. "No matter what, hold it in place."

"Alright?" you said hesitantly. ""

You weren't really sure where she was going with this, but then the mage unsealed your binding. All at once, you felt your magic both try to surge forwards with additional power and unravel due to not feeling Keine's spell any more. Abruptly, you could feel the cold and the wind yourself, instead of just seeing that it was supposedly there, and the hazy image of the village vanished.

It was like trying to hold on to a spell-card. The spell of winter desperately wanted to break free, but you were holding on to it by the skin of your teeth, the magic unlocked from the binding pouring in to reinforce it even as Keine's magic slipped away from you.

But it wasn't going to be enough. You couldn't cause a storm like this normally, and even an illusion of this size would have been nearly impossible. It was only through Keine's magic you'd managed, and without it...

"I'm losing it!" you yelled.

Patchouli stepped up, laying a hand on your binding. "Then let's reverse course."

The binding reactivated, full force. More than full force; not only was your magic completely cut off, but the binding was dragging the spell back into it. Like an avalanche, the snow and ice flew towards you, compressing and melting into pure energy which poured back into the binding. Patchouli grimaced, and the binding grew hot around your arm as the flow continued, the surroundings blowing in an unseen gale as the winter faded into fall, your magic torn completely away.

The binding burned you like a hot iron, and you broke away from Patchouli with a wordless cry.

Tearing ineffectually at the damned thing you rounded on her and snarled, "What was that?! You said you turned the punishment off!"

Patchouli was shaking her own hand, and you got a glimpse of burns there as well. With a gesture, spheres of water formed around both her hand and your upper arm. You sighed in relief as the binding's heat dissipated into it, and some of the tension went out of the mage as well.

"I did," she said finally. That was a consequence of exceeding the binding's parameters. It was not designed to absorb already existing spells, and the addition of Keine's energy only exacerbated the situation."

Meiling looked past you. "Well, it worked."

Turning around, you could see the village again. Oh, of course. That was why Patchouli wanted your magic woven into Keine's spell. So that when she used the binding to absorb it, your magic and Keine's would be completely entangled, and breaking your illusion would break hers.

Patchouli nodded in satisfaction. "I thought so."

"Still, warn me next time," you grumbled. Though your much-abused arm aside, you felt pretty good, actually. Literally full of energy, considering what just happened.

Patchouli glanced at you. "Right. Before we proceed, I should contact Sakuya. Meiling, keep an eye on him, I won't be long."

You watched, non-plussed, as the mage flew off into the woods, calling back, "And for magic's sake, put the disguise back on!"

[-] To be continued.

((Well done. Somehow I'd overlooked consulting the 18 INT wizard right next to you, but it was a good call.))
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>>206212
Time to LARP as Koakuma again for our beloved Patchy-sama!
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>tfw when your write-in solves the entire problem for you
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{-} Patchouli takes a moment to call Sakuya.

One of the great things about being a centuries-old mage was that relatively few things surprised me. I knew every aspect of elemental magic backwards and forwards, and even for other magical topics, my expertise was considerable. There was a reason it was my library that Marisa was always trying to steal from.

As such, Greg's habit of causing a new revelation every time I talked to him was singularly irritating. As was the way that time and circumstances kept proving his theories correct. In fact, that was happening with such regularity that I strongly suspected outside influence in some form. Greg claims Yukari's involved? Yukari shows up in person and all but confirms it. He claims there's a Sumireko imposter? We run into Youmu, and she verifies that half of Gensokyo claims to have seen Sumireko in the same day. He claims that Keine exists, without explanation of how he remembers a youkai nobody else does. That, of all of them, should have been virtually impossible to prove! And yet the combination of Akyuu's history, the holes in my notes and memories, and now his magic interacting with this illusion have conclusively proven once again that his theory was correct.

The pattern leaves me ill at ease, even as each repetition gives me less rational reason to distrust him. There must be an angle here. I am certain I am being played somehow, and not necessarily by Greg. But no matter how I look at the facts, I cannot figure out how.

Though that assessment is suddenly premature, isn't it? Greg's performance just now, while impressive, also revealed a pair of very important facts. There was time enough for me to think on it before calling Sakuya. As well as to rest a moment. This trip had already featured more exertion than I put forth most weeks. It was fortunate that today was a good day with regards to my asthma.





In the end, I took just enough time to compose myself. Greg was already likely to wonder why I'd chosen to contact Sakuya in private, and while I was hardly obliged to answer, I saw no reason to encourage further speculation.

True to form, the moment I used my communication book, the maid picked up instantly. "Patchouli? Is there an issue?"

"Possibly. Are you alone?"

"With the exception of Satori, yes."

"Part of this development involves security concerns. Can you keep an eye on her from afar?"

Sakuya sighed. "Done. I take it this is important?"

"Yes, quadruply so. I'll start with the good news. We've found the human village, right where we expected."

"Good!" the maid said emphatically. "Has it been revealed to anyone who might look, or does it require one of your spells?"

"Keine's illusion has been completely broken," I replied. "And Greg's magic was critical to that effort. His magic interacted with hers in a way that mine simply could not."

Sakuya hesitated. "Is that related to his chosen specialization?"

"The difference is not one of quality, but of categorization," I said grimly. "Or to put it in layman's terms, his nature is different than any of ours."

"It has been a long day, Patchouli. Say what you mean."

"He's not human."

"What?"

Startling Sakuya was a rare occurrence, and in most circumstances, I'd take satisfaction in managing the feat. This was not most circumstances. "Indeed."

"Patchouli, your own binding identified him as human. He said he was human inside your truth spell. Satori thinks he's human. He has a family and attends a school in the outside world. He can't even fly under his own power. How could he possibly be anything else?"

"The binding is how I know he isn't!" I snapped. "Yes, he appears human, even to a detailed magical scan. And my binding calibrated to that, to block the magic of a human mage. And with my binding blocking that flow, letting only the barest trickle of his magic through, he was able to interface enough of Keine's spell to tear a hole the size of the mansion in it."

"Is it possible he's simply stronger than expected?"

"What he did was a competent spell by my standards," I said. "For a mere percent of his power to let him accomplish that, he would need to be stronger than Marisa, and substantially so. Which if anything would be worse."

"I take your point," Sakuya said. "Are you certain?"

"Completely."

"What type of youkai is he?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "He's displayed no particular youkai traits I can think of, and even more general traits such as aggression are lacking. He could also be one of the non-youkai supernatural species, such as a god, fairy, or Lunarian. At present, I'm not prepared to rule anything out."

"That's very little to work with. You truly don't have anything?"

"It is highly unlikely that Greg is an oni," I said drily.

Sakuya's response was equally deadpan. "Truly, it was this level of insight that earned your place at Remilia's side."

I rolled my eyes and continued. "Regardless, while I don't have any further information, I do have a theory regarding how his nature was hidden."

"Go on."

"The one thing I am certain about is that Yukari knows Greg's true species. In retrospect she was blatantly hinting at it with her comments about his 'true nature'. It also could explain her interest in him, though it remains to be seen whether that's due to his own power or his youkai parent."

"Parent, singular? You think he's half human?"

"It would explain a number of oddities. While the children of youkai and humans do eventually prove to be youkai, that is not immediately obvious from birth. It's a rare enough scenario for documentation to be scarce, but what is known is that the timing of their youkai nature emerging depends on both the strength of their bloodline and the level of ambient magic present."

"Which would have been scarce in the outside world," Sakuya mused.

"Quite. More to the point, you could think of it as the child traversing the boundary between human and youkai as they age."

The significance of that wasn't lost on her. "And Greg had an encounter with 'Maribel' years ago," she said darkly.

"Indeed. I think Yukari's intervention was to seal his youkai nature, so he would seem human when he got to Gensokyo."

"To what end?"

"Well, that's the question, isn't it?"

Sakuya sighed. "What's the worst case scenario?"

"The worst case would be if Yukari sealed away aspects of his memories and personality as well. Such an action could make him the perfect trojan horse, as all Yukari would need to do to regain his allegiance would be to undo the seal. Between Yukari offering herself as a target and Greg's continual flow of relevant, quickly proven, important information, it would be easy for them to manipulate us into a trap of their devising."

"So, essentially unchanged then?" Sakuya asked drily.

"Greg being a youkai with an unknown ability would be an extra detail to consider, but otherwise yes."

''Assuming he is not Yukari's thrall, what does this change?"

"The immediate concern is that the binding on him cannot be relied upon. What he was able to do with Keine's spell proves that much."

"Wasn't it effective before?"

I'd already worked out these consequences in detail. "Yes and no. The binding has three key properties. It detects the use of compatible magic, blocks it, and punishes the prisoner for attempting to use it. However, compatible magic in this case would be human magic, and his magic is not entirely human. As such, what the binding is recognizing and sealing is not the entire range of magic available to him."

"So if he were to fully turn into a youkai..."

"The binding would be a paperweight," I confirmed. "Even in his current state, the binding will not fully block his magic. It appears to, because his magic is still mostly human, and thus any attempt to cast would be detected, punished, and mostly blocked. But only mostly. If he possesses the necessary will and focus to push through the pain, it is plausible he could still cast minor workings."

"He's capable of that," Sakuya declared. "He charged Marisa while laughably outclassed and with a broken rib. His first action upon meeting me was to extort information regarding his friends by threatening suicide through the binding."

"Of course he is," I said with a sigh. Fortunately I hadn't turned the punishment aspect of the binding off until we'd needed to experiment with Keine's effect. He shouldn't have been able to cast anything of importance unnoticed.

"Can you fix it?"

"I'd need to create a fresh binding and tune it to his youkai half. Which, ironically, would require some cooperation from him, as I would need a clean sample of the youkai aspect to his magic. The greater problem is time. Another binding would require most of a day to create, and that's-"

"Time we can ill afford," Sakuya finished and sighed. "Do you think he hid this deliberately?"

"It is probable that he identified the hole in his binding's security and saw no reason to inform us of it," I replied. "As for him being a youkai..."

I leaned against one of the trees and sighed. "I don't think he has any idea. For him to have lied about that, he would need to be a malicious actor able to trump both Satori's ability and the truth spell I used. That would require convincingly faking both intent and memories down to the subconscious level. If he's capable of that, then nothing we know or learn can be trusted, and we have already lost."

"Furthermore, if Yukari's intention was to hide that he's a youkai, then him knowing about it would run counter to her purposes. Especially with Satori's presence."

"Agreed. I think the greatest danger is the same as it was before; that he's Yukari's unwitting pawn. The main difference is that we have an inkling as to how that may be the case now." In some ways it was almost a relief. I had been expecting the other shoe to drop for some time now, so seeing the outline in advance was not the worst outcome.

"How do you intend to proceed, then?"

{-} By investigating Keine's school.
{-} By paying a visit to Akyuu.
{-} By investigating the rumors spreading among the villagers.

--ALSO--

With multiple leads present in the human village, does it make sense to divide and conquer?

{-} No. It's simply too risky.
{-} Yes. Speed is paramount here.
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I was on the fence about going through with this little interlude, and that's because it addresses one of the story's major twists: What is Greg?

Ultimately, I decided to go ahead with it because a number of you (and Patchouli) had already figured out the first part of it: That whatever he is, Greg isn't just human. So, shoutouts to all the readers who called it and speculated about this ahead of time!

I'd originally planned for that reveal to come much later in the story, and the full reveal regarding his exact species won't be coming until significantly later. In fact, it's quite likely Greg won't find out about his "true nature" for some time. Patchouli may have figured it out, but she has no reason to tell him, both due to her security concerns and because she needs him focused on the task at hand. (Surprisingly, telling someone their humanity is an elaborate lie that was probably masterminded by the person they hate most is not conductive to keeping them focused.)

I do wish I'd been able to sneak in one more Greg/Satori conversation before this reveal, though. They haven't quite reached this point, but one barrier to a relationship Satori will/would bring up is that Greg has his life outside of Gensokyo to consider, and that even if he sets that aside, she'll outlive him by an order of magnitude. I'd also hoped to sneak in one more taunt from Yukari about how learning of Greg's true nature could cause Satori to reconsider her relationship status with him. These things may still in fact happen in-story, but they do lose some of their punch when you already know the twist.

Regardless, you guys did earn this knowledge... but USiL isn't out of secrets just yet. I'm curious if you'll figure the others out before the characters do.
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We need more information so...
[x] By paying a visit to Akyuu.

For the other choice:
[x] Yes. Speed is paramount here.
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{X} By investigating Keine's school.
{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.
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{X} By paying a visit to Akyuu.
{X} No. It's simply too risky.
It's best to have one piece of the puzzle over many. Splitting up just feels like a trap, and I'm not sure what we'd do if we lost Patchy or Meiling.

Now, onto speculation! We know about Greg's father, but do we know anything about his mother? Because I feel the most obvious thing to speculate is that Yukari is Greg's mother. I don't think this makes much sense and it'd be extremely elaborate and weird even for Yukari to have a half-youkai son, seal his memories of her, and have him raised in the outside world to come back to become what, a shikigami, a jesus-esque sacrifice? With Yukari positioning herself as God in this case? I don't think it's likely, but that's my first line of speculation.
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Hm, I wouldn't have minded being kept in the dark for a while longer.
To be fair, Patchouli would've without a doubt found out at this point, especially when we deferred to her instructions during the ritual.
But, eh, it's a decent enough moment for the reveal.

Now for the choices.
Going to Akyuu is most important, but Keine should probably be on the list if we can help it.
So, if we can, we go to the school next.

As for splitting up; yes, but with a caveat.
I think the most logical split would be for Patchouli + Greg (as Koakuma, probably) to head to Akyuu; and Meiling to investigate the rumors.
Patchouli and Greg are the best fit for knowing the questions that need to be asked, while also allowing Patchy to keep an eye on Greg.
Meiling is the social sort, so she can just talk to the regular villagers without too much problems; it's also more likely to be the task that takes the longest (if she decides to go through a larger part of the village), so that gives the Akyuu group time to maybe hit up Keine afterwards.

{X} By paying a visit to Akyuu.

{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.
-{X} Patchouli + Greg to Akyuu; possibly Keine afterwards if there's time.
-{X} Meiling to investigate village rumors.
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There go my stocks in Greg's yet unnamed mother being of the Hieda (I didn't actually bet on it. (It was simply an Crack theory I had regarding Greg being able to remember things despite Keine's abilities)).
In regards to what Soul said imagine how scuffed it'd be keeping a relationship with Satori if that were the case.

Given he is pulling all the metaphorical strings and playing with people like puppets the obvious next person in line for the position of Greg's mother is Alice.

{x} By paying a visit to Akyuu.
{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.
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{X} By investigating Keine's school.
{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.

Getting some Dark Messiah of Might and Magic vibes here. Also, don't forget what we came here for.
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I don't think it ruins it as long as it's still a surprise to those characters when you do those scenes.
It's dramatic irony. They're still problems the characters will have to confront. The new question is when these things will become a problem, and if they'll just be dropped at literally the worst possible time (they will, of course).

⒳ By paying a visit to Akyuu.

⒳ Yes. Speed is paramount here.
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>What is Greg?
Speaking of this question, I think that there are only two leading answers to this question that we've been given hints on.
>Magician
Magicians are a species in Gensokyo. There are two kinds - those who become magicians and those who are born magicians. The latter need to cast a certain magic to stop aging.
We've been given enough clues about our predisposition to mundane trickery and deceit plus our affinity towards spells to suspect this path. Greg has love for magic - otherwise he would not practice it, or have it.
>Satori
Satori are known for their mind-reading (and everything that results from it). Greg had that kind of problem. His sealing was a way to protect him, and he's been doing "telepathic connections" over the course of the story completely naturally.

Which is it? Or maybe something else entirely? Only time will tell...
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I wonder if Greg is Youkai, or if he is one in the same way that Remilia is. I do note that the explanation post did not say Youkai, but rather “not Human”. (and Patchouli did also theorize some other groups.)

(though what is Youkai and what is not in Gensokyo is a little confusing, if Remilia is considered Youkai, then why are fairies not? The Fae and Youkai and practically eastern and western equivalents of each other! Heck, gensokyo fairies aren’t even a unified group despite seemingly being seen as such by gensokyo! We have elemental fairies such as Cirno and (maybe?) the Fairies of Light, Clownpiece is a Greek fairie of the underworld, and from context clues it sounds like most of the mook fairies are flower dryads…??? Heck the FoL could be considered having attributes to Dryads with what they are doing with the tree behind the Hakurei shrine.)

Heck there’s even more than youkai and Fae, there’s also Djinn (i.e. Genies), and several more that I don’t know about/ don’t know the name of. (including vampires, what category does the scarlet sisters fall under? The only thing I can think of would be ‘gothic horror monsters’ and that’s more a generic descriptor than a title…)

Also the line about half youkai becoming eventually youkai is a little interesting when Rinnosuke is considered as he is still half youkai. But I think he’s out of the village so not someone we will be likely running into.

I don’t think his mom would be Yukari… his abilities don’t match up at all, nothing to do with barriers, gaps, or what have you since this is more about mind manipulation and illusions. Ran would fit better really, (or other Kitsune, but that’s only in two aspects, many others are missing?) A greater Fae in the category of Titania, Oberon, Tyramour or the like would be where I would be considering.

huh, is that why Ran is going renegade?

{X} By paying a visit to Akyuu.

{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.
-{X} Patchouli + Greg to Akyuu; possibly Keine afterwards if there's time.
-{X} Meiling to investigate village rumors.
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{X} By investigating Keine's school.
{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.

Incredibly suspicious. Unless the answer is "she somehow got an urban legend that made her ability go haywire and suspiciously make us forget a very short and specific list of two people" she's up to something. Strike now before she can try something.
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>>206321
If Ran is Greg's mom that'd be the luckiest son of a gun in the world. Do you know how many people would kill to have Ran be their mom?
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Maybe a changeling? Fae bullshit
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If Ran is Greg’s mom, that’d mean Greg could develop kitsune traits and I’m pretty sure there’s a nonzero chance Satori would at least briefly go into Pokémon trainer mode.
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>"You've only got the binding around half strength," you said ... Patchouli bit her lip, staring intently at you.

>letting only the barest trickle of his magic through



he thought it was at 50%, from her reaction and talk with Sakuya, it sounds like it was more like .5%!
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{X} By paying a visit to Akyuu.
{X} Yes. Speed is paramount here.
-{X} Patchouli + Greg to Akyuu; possibly Keine afterwards if there's time.
-{X} Meiling to investigate village rumors.

"While I am aware of exactly how badly this is tempting fate, the situation warrants it. I intend to divide and conquer," I said.

I could almost hear Sakuya's grimace through the book. "That could be disastrous if someone like Reimu shows up. I know you said today was a good day, but-"

"Sakuya, what would Meiling and I together accomplish if pitted against Reimu Hakurei?"

The silence is telling. "Indeed. I may be able to force her to work for it, but if she or Marisa or Byakuren or Miko or any of the exceptionally strong youkai in the vicinity take an interest, they would have little trouble taking Greg off our hands. Our best hope is in keeping a lower profile. And having 'Koakuma' with me should raise fewer eyebrows than both her and Meiling."

"It's a valid strategy," Sakuya admitted. "Are you certain Greg will play along?"

"Certain? There's too many variables for me to claim that particular luxury. But I would be greatly surprised if Greg made a move while the consequences could still fall upon Satori."

For that matter, if he had intended to try something, Youmu would have been a good opportunity. The half-phantom was rigidly honorable, and Greg was clever enough to use that to his advantage. Not that much manipulation would be necessary, considering the facts of the situation, but I digress. That Greg had said nothing worse than some... friendly mild provocation was a good sign.

Sakuya thought for a moment before concurring. "You intend to send Meiling on her own, then?"

"She's friendly, she's extroverted, and she's good at striking up conversations about random topics when people should be working. Asking around about urban legends fits her perfectly."

"And yourself?"

"I intend to pay Akyuu a visit."

"Not Keine?" Sakuya asked sharply.

"Before you charge the lion in its den, it's wise to know what you're getting into," I replied. "The magic I wield may be considerable, but I have neither the raw power of a vampire, nor infinite time to consider my options. Furthermore, Akyuu wrote that Keine has 'close relationships with the Hieda family'. She is the best and possibly only source of information regarding what Keine might intend."

"If she's such a potent source of information, will our enemies have planned for that?"

I considered that for a moment. "The Child of Miare is not an unimportant role. Furthermore, her method of reincarnation requires careful preparation that Akyuu has not yet performed. Killing her would draw the wrath of several figures, not least of which would be Eiki. She's also fragile enough that danmaku in her presence could do her serious harm."

"Yukari has already guaranteed a substantial amount of wrath for herself," Sakuya said darkly. "What's a little more?"

"Save your anger for when it will be useful," I snapped. "Yukari schemes with an eye towards the long-term, and injuring or killing Akyuu would be long-term consequences. You run more of a risk of ambush than I."

After a brief silence, I heard a terse, "Your point is taken, but you run the greater danger. The youkai I meet are unlikely to be significant."

"Be careful with language like that, Sakuya. Someone might think you cared."

"Milady would be disappointed if I let you come to harm. She has always been fond of her charity cases."

Heh. "If your knives remain as sharp as your tongue, I suspect we'll do alright. Is your mission progressing as expected?"

"We are still en-route. No encounters of note, though it would seem someone set fire to the mountain."

I glanced up at that. "I don't see any smoke."

"Apologies, I meant figuratively. The tengu and the kappa both are highly active, though neither group has challenged me. Has there been any other news from your end?"

"Youmu had some general details regarding other Sumireko sightings. Nothing from today, and nothing earth shattering. I have yet to ask Greg about them, other concerns took priority."

"Understood. Final question, what about Satori?" Sakuya asked.

"What about her?"

"I am unsure how she will react to the thought that Greg isn't human, but she will react to it. And she will almost certainly find out eventually."

"Just leave her sealed for now," I snapped. "We can figure out a longer-term plan once we're all back at the mansion."

"Understood," the maid replied. "Godspeed, Patchouli, but be careful."

Even implying vulnerability or the possibility of failure meant that Sakuya was worried. And not without cause, but reflecting those worries would do no good.

"When am I not?" I said, projecting confidence. "I'll contact you once I have more information,"

I closed the book, took a deep breath, and flew back towards Meiling and Greg.

{-} To be continued.
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I do want to note now that Greg’s mother is named Tammy. The only thing I can think of is a possible connection for her is Tamamo-No-Mae, which would be a point towards him being half-kitsune.

Whether or not his mom is the actual Tamamo-No-Mae or Ran under an alias remains to be seen. I really hope and pray that Greg grows a tail and fix ears if it does turn out that he’s a half-kitsune.
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>>206389 Here
I meant fox ears. I hate autocorrect.
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>>206389

the lost bees story here had Tamamo no mae be who Ran was possessing (or however the whole shikigami thing works) so it could be both.
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Im gonna laugh my head off if the story finally confirms Greg is a half-youkai but leaves what kind ambiguous and then we immediately jumped to the right conclusion without any real additional evidence.
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>>206342
>>206357

though wouldn't that also mean that Chen is Greg's sister?

Wait, who was Satori and Sakuya going to grab?

.. uh oh.
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[-] Patchouli returns!

Patchouli took longer than you'd expected to come back, so you bided the time chatting with Meiling. She was still weirded out seeing you disguised as Koakuma, and hearing your own altered voice messed with you a little as well, so by mutual agreement the gate guard did most of the talking.

That suited you just fine. Hearing what it was like to live through some of Gensokyo's incidents was fascinating.

"So Sakuya had made it this personal point of pride that she'd keep the mansion's grounds tidy. Which in winter means keeping the snow shoveled, at least to where the porch is clear and there's a path from the mansion's front door to the gate."

"That had to be miserable," you remarked.

Meiling shook her head. "Less than you might think. It wasn't like we got more snow than we would during a normal winter, if you ignored the part where the calendar said April. The problem was that it wasn't melting. For most of the winter Patchy had been throwing around fire magic to melt it when it got too crazy, but she was down with a cold, and me and Sakuya don't have the right spellcards for that. And then we get this huge storm, dumping foot after foot of snow for days."

"And I take it Sakuya didn't want to get Remilia or Flandre involved?"

"Are you kidding? She'd eat her own knives before she'd ask her lady to help out with chores. So she just does it herself. Morning, afternoon, evening, she'd walk out into the snow, stop time, and there'd be a new walkway dug out, one that would stay visible for maybe an hour or two."

"She didn't make you help?" you asked.

"I had better things to do with my life," Meiling replied. "It wasn't guarding, it wasn't important, and it was a ridiculous amount of work. Even Remilia told her it was pointless, but she was being stubborn."

It's easy enough to visualize. You chuckle and Meiling continued her story. "Finally the snow gets so high that Sakuya has to dig out more than just the walkway or the sides will collapse. We're talking a good six feet of snow here. So in typical Sakuya fashion, she goes all-out. I'm just guarding the gate one evening, I turn around, and the entire mansion grounds are free of snow. The whole thing, even the mansion roof."

"She shoveled all of that in one timestop?" That had to be days of work, at least.

"I think she borrowed a fire spell from Patchy," Meiling speculated, "no way she could gotten all the snow clear like that otherwise. But yeah, it was crazy. She's sipping tea looking smug but tired, and when you can see that Sakuya's tired, she's about ready to drop."

"The girl turns in for the night, and proceeds to sleep a good twelve hours, right through the worst storm of the year. She does her morning routine, gets the house all cleaned up, and finally comes out with my meal at lunch-time..." Meiling pauses theatrically, "only to see another six feet of snow."

You knew it was coming, but her delivery was perfect, and you laughed all the same. "She must have been furious."

"She dropped the tray!" Meiling exclaimed. "She opens the front door, there's this look of shock and disbelief on her face, and the tray just slips off the hand she's balancing on. Food goes everywhere, the cup shatters, plate spins for a bit and falls flat, and Sakuya's just staring at the snow, not moving as her eye starts to twitch. They must have heard her scream all the way in the human village."

"And you just happened to be watching at that exact moment?"

"Oh, I was waiting for it," she confirmed, grinning. "The moment the storm hit, I knew her reaction was going to be good, and I was standing at attention facing the mansion the whole morning. And of course, within the hour, she's approached Remilia, saying that our supplies are running low and that she needs to go end the winter."

"So you're saying Youmu's incident got stopped-"

"-because Sakuya got sick of snow shoveling." Meiling finished. "We didn't give her too much grief over it, since everyone was sick of winter by then and Sakuya only really takes crap from Remilia anyway, but man. That's the angriest I've ever seen her get over something that wasn't deadly serious."

"Speaking of which, look who's back," you said as Patchouli flew back into view.

"There you are. I was starting to wonder if I should look for you." Meiling said. "What took so long?"

"There were some theories I needed to discuss with Sakuya," Patchouli replied.

"Ah." You nodded understandingly. "I'm guessing she had some thoughts on what Youmu's evangelism could mean?"

Patchouli froze, shook her fist ever so slightly, and let slip the quietest yet most emphatic swear you've heard.

"One moment," she said, sounding strangled. "It appears I need to call her back."

"Wait, how on earth could you forget that?" you asked, baffled. "What were you even talking about then?"



Patchouli's second call with Sakuya ends up being significantly shorter, and in a few minutes she's back to give you your marching orders. She also doesn't deign to inform you or Meiling what the first call was actually about. Considering how irritated and unsettled she seems, you suspect she had an asthma attack, but there's no reason to injure her pride by suggesting it. What else could distract her that badly?

Regardless, she's chosen to have Meiling finish her original assignment of listening around for rumors while you and her go to find Akyuu.

Outwardly, you just nod and agree, but privately, you're thrilled. If she's going to Akyuu first, she must intend to investigate Mamizou. And if you can prove that Mamizou exists and has been impersonating Sumireko, then you might actually be able to clear her name. Or at least, aside from the stuff the two of you actually did, like kidnapping Nitori and being reponsible for the Urban Legend incident in the first place.

Admittedly, that won't quite be the end of things; Remilia and Koishi still need to be fixed, and Yukari's going to have to be dealt with somehow, but for the first time since you've arrived in Gensokyo, it feels like you're getting close. Like things could just work out.

You should have known it wouldn't be that easy.

[-] To be continued.

((In all honesty, I completely forgot to include a line or two referencing Youmu's missionary work in the Sakuya/Patchouli dialogue just now, so Patchy's taking the blame here on my behalf.))
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>>206413
Loved this update
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Fair warning, next update is going to take a while. Not because it's going to be long in and of itself, but because actually getting into the village means I need to nail down exactly what all the people trying to resolve the incident have been up to this whole time, plus the particulars of certain schemes. It's the downside of writing an incident that stretches across all of Gensokyo. You need to figure out what all of Gensokyo has been up to.

No idea on the time frame that will take. It'll be done when it gets done.
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>>206552
Take all the time you need! I love grand stories because of how many moving bits and pieces there are, so I'm happy to wait so that you can arrange them properly.
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I've been sitting on these thoughts regarding the discussion of Greg's Youkai-hood for a while and now had the time to formulate them.
Maybe Greg's mother isn't Ran the Kitsune but rather the Shikigami?

During their run-In Miko noted it odd that his desire to serve was so strong. Note how along the way in Gensokyo Greg constantly chooses to aid people around him, almost to a compulsive degree. Contrast this to his time in school, during which everyone was basically faceless to him. Everyone except for Sumireko, who was the only one possessing magical power. Keep in mind the line that Greg's magic always worked better when he was with her.
Now this is me mostly joking but: In the hopes of attaining power, a shikigami's nature would instinctually lead it serve the most powerful and grand master it would know of.
And who fits the bill better than Jesus?
The Shikigami spirits implicitly seem to be more powerful than those they possess, at least in some regard.
It wouldn't make sense otherwise. Their purpose is to overwrite the will of the servant to compell them to obey. A shikigami'd servant should be able to break away from their servitude anytime then. A contract is only as binding to the degree it's actually enforcible after all.
If the Shikigami contract truly does nothing to influence the will of the servant, why go through the trouble and not choose to compell them to serve through charisma, a regular contract or good old blackmail then? The only thing that would make a shikigami special is the power-sharing aspect then.

So maybe all of this was Yukari's plan to cultivate an exceptionally strong shikigami. An exceptionally strong spirit to shackle exceptionally powerful Yokai. Or something else?
And she'll just up the stakes until he accedes.
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>>207544
So what you're saying is that, to youkai, Greg is submissive and breed-with-able?
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>>207609
that was horrible, get outta here
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>>207609
(1) Yes, I'd even go so far to say that it's his nature and (2) he would be to the degree his contractual obligations demand of him. And I think the Bible makes it a point to be fruitful.

In conclusion he'd make a fine househusband.
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>>207623
Makes sense. Greg is made to be the perfect husbando so Yukari can use him to seduce the (overwhelmingly female) strong youkai and humans.
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>>207677
He already got the mindreader, the one that's ostracized from society at large because that ability is apparently so dangerous to every other Yokai, wrapped around his finger. It actually must be part of her plan.
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>>207681
She played us like a damn fiddle!
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>>207677
Counterpoint: Maybe this was all a ploy for Yukari to finally get a husband so she hatched a plan to groom and marry her pet fox's son. Unfortunately he's gone and imprinted himself on Satori instead. Satori gets her own submissive kinda-vaguey-fox-boy househusband, and Yukari is left seething and wondering how she can spin this to "totally have been her plan all along". Sumireko I'm sure will probably have some choice opinions about this as well.

Joking aside, while I really like this theory and will back it, how does it work with Maribel? Shouldn't Greg's first interaction with Maribel have been significantly more positive than how it turned out? I'm honestly unsure how to square the Maribel stuff with this, or any theory really. If Yukari had a role in Greg's upbringing in some way prior to meeting him as Maribel, the Maribel interactions don't make too much sense, specifically what her goal would be with it.
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File 171418766331.png - (20.19KB, 645x467, Greg.png)
Greg
Hello thanks to recent speculation I would like to display my totally lore accurate USiL fanart, thank you for looking
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>>207689
I have to aknowledge that it doesn't quite fit, but I'll give it a try to give it reasons after the fact. Before his encounter with Maribel, Greg acted really manipulatively and all his connections to people were emotionally hollow. Why she specifically chose to remedy it the radical way, I can't give a perfect reason for; I'll just chalk up to time constraints. (It's not like she can be at multiple places at once unlike Hecatia.) Though considering he met Sumireko just the week after, this also must have been by design.
Leaning into the theory of cultivating a strong Shikigami, teaching him as the Magician Maribel isn't the right way to go about. He wouldn't devote himself fully and at the very best would be nearing (or equalling, if we're really generous) Yukari's own powers. She'd need to create true, deep devotion for a strong spirit.
Maybe traumatising him like this was the only way to actually truly kickstart Greg's faith and make him start developing real, human, emotional connections, since he likely would intellectually maneuver through things like therapy and keep on navigating life as he did in class.
Maybe it was purposefully setting things up so Greg would bond with Sumireko because of his trauma.
Their relationship is an obvious mirror to Maribel/Renko. Yukari, as Maribel, even namedropped Renko. And I mean... Greg is a blond.

I realise, this isn't really giving good, concrete reasoning but more like just sharing my thoughts.
>>207690
Patchouli is so unbelievably fucking hot, ong
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I mean, a simpler answer I feel is Greg started out as a 'wild' fox, and then was 'tamed' by Maribel at that meeting? Maybe she made him a shikigami then? Hell, that'd explain Ran going renegade easily too. She saw the son she left in the outside world got a spell cast on him and mama ran DID NOT APPROVE.
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How do you mean 'wild'? He's been with his father and 'started' human in the outside world.

To me this doesn't really track since Ran hasn't been shown to be aware of Greg (as in who Greg is) - yet.
I have never put this into words so far but in my mind, assuming Ran is Greg's mother, it was under Yukari's order. I imagine she sort of sealed or surpressed Ran's memory regarding, well, everything about him and her time in the outside world after the fact. All feasible due to the identity death - or rather identity coma - induced by the Shikigami Pact. I also assume that Yukari so far has been orchestrating everything so Ran under no circumstances comes in direct contact with him or learns particularities that could trigger her sealed memories.
It kind of makes sense then to make it an explicit order for her to not interact with Sumireko under any circumstances. It also makes sense for Yukari to pretend to not know about Greg initially and thus word the order like that. Ran otherwise rightfully would inquire about Sumireko's co-conspirator and Yukari would have to awkwardly withhold information towards Ran.
Confronting Sumireko would have meant either coming in direct contact with Greg if it was an early encounter or at very least a good chance of her namedropping him if it was after Eientei.


This would make Ran's motherly attachment to Chen take on a tragic tinge since it basically means it's a surfacing desire from her unconscious from the time when she actually was a mother.
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>>207701

I just mean that he wasn't a shikigami until that encounter with maribel. That's when his situation changed, wasn't it?

Thread be looking like an old-fashioned shitty scp article at this point.
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It might be possible that Maribel treated him so harshly due to how his magic was interacting with his 'nature', i.e. that it was exclusively used to get him out of trouble- and real trouble, at that, since it was noted not to have worked when he purposely got in trouble to activate it. By putting him in a situation he couldn't escape with his illusions, Greg learned to control his magic instead of using it on reflex. Though that does raise the question of why she wants him to be evil again...

Although I'm still not entirely sure 'what' Greg is, I can venture a guess as to why Yukari is interested in him: His mind powers, if they continue to increase, could let him (and therefore her) brainwash people. Good for maintaining order within Gensokyo, and potentially even returning magic to the outside world, if needed(since magic/youkai is powered by belief/fear). Could also be useful against the Lunarians, too.
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Who knows what Greg looks like outside of submissi
>>207699
Patchouli has lowkey been one of the funnest characters to see Greg interact with, their dynamic works well. I'm genuinely invested in seeing if Greg can manage to befriend Patchouli or if she'll be a perma-grump the whole story.
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>>207715
Her demeanor towards Greg will likely change after the big confrontation with the incident resolution team that's bound to be happening soon.

>king Arthur
Miss Saber Fate and Greg USiL crossover confirmed?
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MGHiedaMansionGarden
[-] The Hieda residence.

The human village was... surprisingly normal, all things considered. You'd expected some kind of reaction to the show of breaking through Keine's spell, or at least from the village being under it in the first place, but either the villagers didn't notice, or they brushed it off as standard youkai shenanigans.

You weren't about to complain about it, given how convenient that was for you, but it was kind of unnerving. Urban legends, Youmu's missionary work, Keine's concealment, whatever Yukari was up to... unimaginably important things were going on, and the people were completely oblivious. Perfectly receptive to whichever youkai was currently manipulating them.

You and Patchouli were drawing some looks (mostly thanks to the Koakuma disguise), but even then it was more idle curiosity than anything else.

"Don't stare," Patchouli nudged you. "A visit to the village isn't that unusual for us."

You glanced back at her, and restrained a mischievous smile. "Oh, but it's been so long since you've left your library! You know Sakuya's been telling you to get out more."

She glared at you. "She has not."

The Koakuma disguise was excellent at affecting earnest helpfulness. "Okay, she was telling me to try to get you out and about more! There's got to be someone here you'd enjoy hanging out with. You could even invite them over to the mansion!"

And now all the passerby who had been looking at the pair of you curiously suddenly had their attention anywhere else. How odd.

Patchy, meanwhile, had upgraded to scowling. "Don't be ridiculous."

"Come on, I'm sure someone in the village enjoys reading as much as you do," you chided. "Think about it! You could have your very own study buddy! Or maybe... boytoy?"

That shot caught Patchouli by surprise, and you got to see her sputtering for a second before a jolt through your binding informed you that might have been a step too far. You yelped and stumbled, only to have your arm caught by Patchouli as she yanked you up.

"Really?"

"A youkai's reputation is important," she hissed. "Kindly cease messing with mine."

"Isn't your reputation just 'magical bookworm'?" you whispered back. "Does anyone here know you beyond being someone from the mansion?"

"That does not give you the right to start rumors! Especially not now!"

"You do realize these people would have written it off as friendly teasing if you hadn't made a big deal of it, right?" you said, gesturing at the handful of passerby who were openly staring now.

Which, yeah, a whispered argument between a magician and a devil was going to draw at least some attention.

Patchouli turned her glare over to them and drew herself up icily. "Does anyone have a point they wish to express?"

She couldn't match Sakuya for intimidation, but with a group of ordinary humans, she didn't have to. All but one scattered immediately, with the last guy hesitating, looking like he was going to say something, before sheepishly getting on with his day.

"I'd have thought you'd be in a better mood what with finally getting into the village and all," you remarked.

Patchouli nearly snaps at you, visibly thinks better of it, and settles for a grumble. "There are far too many knives in the air to relax so soon."

"Perhaps, but at least a couple of them have landed safely. That's not nothing."

"It is negligible when more knives are launched immediately," she shot back. "And I would think you of all people would recognize the danger of uncontrolled rumors."

"That was literally textbook teasing," you said, but with rapidly lessening confidence, because Patchouli's defensiveness wasn't faked. You sighed. "I'm sorry. It really was meant as friendly banter."

"Really. Do you treat your friends that way?"

"It might be better to say my friend helped me that way," you admitted. "A certain magician did much the same for me back when I was hiding away from everything."

"It's difficult to imagine you hiding in a social context."

You shrugged. "People change. Why can't youkai? Didn't you insist on coming because you didn't want to stay in the library?"

Patchouli doesn't answer, and that's answer enough.



The rest of the trip to the Hieda household was made in... well, not comfortable silence, but at least not a tense one either. The villagers largely ignore you, being caught up in, of all things, discussing the Bible. And not just one or two groups, either, it seems like half the people you pass are discussing something relating to Scripture. It is technically possible this is natural - historically speaking, Christianity has absolutely exploded onto the scene when presented to a previously unexposed culture thanks to missionary work - but your bet is that Yukari is up to something. Even still, you get the urge to jump in and explain some of the finer points a couple times, but that's a bad idea for several reasons, not least for how weird it would look coming from Koakuma.

Regardless, Gensokyo's stronger residents seem like they're absent as well. You do see one pair of obvious youkai, a hooded blue-haired girl with rings trading spellcards with a grey-haired girl shooting plates, but there's a playful note to it you haven't seen much of lately, and the spellcards themselves seem easier than the brawls you've seen lately. Frankly, both of them seem like they're having fun, despite all the invective they're yelling back and forth. Is that what spellcard duels in Gensokyo are normally like? If you could fly under your own power, you could see yourself enjoying it. Maybe one day...

But on this particular day, you find yourself coming up on the Hieda house. Well, house is the wrong word for it, in all honesty it's a mansion, but you find yourself oddly reluctant to call it that. Sure, the place could fit half a dozen families comfortably, and comes with a garden large enough to feed them all, but it's a little underwhelming after seeing the Scarlet Devil Mansion and Eientei. You certainly couldn't have a full-scale spellcard duel in these hallways.

You shake your head. You're being a little silly. Of course a human's house in the human village wouldn't be designed for spellcard duels. Why would it be? You can't shake the feeling that there's another shoe about to drop, though. And yet... when Patchouli introduces herself at the door and asks to see Akyuu, the two of you are quickly let into a waiting room; sitting on cushions as you wait for the Child of Miare herself.

"Were things supposed to go this smoothly?" you asked.

Patchouli raised an eyebrow. "This trip to the village has already been significantly more complicated than normal. You expected more trouble?"

"Yes! You didn't?"

The mage tapped her fingers against her book. "The Child of Miare is a neutral party. Her only concern is recording the history of Gensokyo and its youkai, something that benefits all without favoring any one side. Attempting something here would have consequences, even for Yukari."

"Imposters, changed memories, hiding the village," you counted off the points on your fingers. "Everything Mamizou's done so far, her entire scheme - it's all relying on lies and misdirection. The truth, properly applied, can blow that up; especially if you have a neutral party to establish it. Us being able to prove what she's done is the last thing Mamizou can afford."

Patchouli turned to you, considering it. "If she's new to Gensokyo, she may not be aware of the Child of Miare's importance. Akyuu only ever observes incidents, it's plausible she was overlooked."

"Are you comfortable with assuming that an unknown mastermind just overlooked something this important?"

"Then perhaps the purpose of Keine's spell was to keep us away."

You shook your head. "Keine had to have felt her spell breaking. And even if she didn't, Yukari was probably spying on us somehow. And with a gap, she could always show up whenever she feels like it."

"Is there a reason you're only bringing this up now?" Patchouli snapped.

You shook your head. "Didn't think of it earlier. It just struck me that this is too easy. If I was Mamizou, I'd drop everything to deal with a threat like this. "

"A threat like what?" a new voice spoke up, and you turned to see her.

She was colorful, even by Gensokyo's standards. Purple hair, purple eyes, and her vest, sleeves, and skirt representing green, yellow and red, all in bright colors. She's also got a noticeable flower motif, between a hair ornament, the pattern on her sleeves, and a rather cloying perfume. Despite that, you got the impression of a lady, not a girl. While elegant, she was formal, walking serenely towards the pair of you as she gave a nod to Patchouli and took a seat of her own.

"Miss Knowledge. Is there anything I should be aware of?"

"Hieda no Akyuu", Patchouli returned the greeting. "It's a possibility my assistant has raised."

"And what would that be?" Akyuu asked politely.

"Yukari and possibly others are manipulating the incident," Patchouli replied. "In particular, Keine hid both the human village and the memory of her own existence, something particularly troubling given the human village's role in generating urban legends."

"And given that someone's going to great lengths to hide the truth," you cut in, "I was worried something might have happened to you."

Akyuu closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Upon opening them, she gave you a gentle smile. "I'm afraid I can't speak to Keine's actions. She has hidden the village before during past incidents, so this may have been an attempt to protect us."

You start to speak, but Akyuu raises a hand to forestall you. "I can set your mind at ease on one point, however. Nobody has done anything untoward against me or the Hieda household this incident."

You sighed. "That's a relief."

Akyuu giggled. "In point of fact, I've been catching up on my chronicling work all day; I'm actually rather glad for the distraction."

"It has been a tiring day for us all," Patchouli agreed. "So allow me to be brief. Have you heard of a youkai named Mamizou?"

Akyuu hesitated, looking back and forth between the pair of you. "I'm sorry, who?"

[?] Now what?
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>"I'm sorry, who?"
That's cute, now cut the bs, she's in one of your tomes.
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I think the issue is, she might be in one of Akyuu's tomes, but Greg and Patchouli wouldn't know that, since the Mansion only had the older ones. Also, Mamizou's UL is Men in Black, which couldn't erase memories in ULiL, but might be able to in USiL for one reason or another. I don't really know about a plan though, maybe ask about Tanuki/Bake-danuki in general, or give a description of Mamizou?
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Mamizou can disguise herself. How do we know Akyuu isn't Mamizou? Let's describe Mamizou and lightly explain that we're looking for this tanuki, but also try testing Akyuu subtly to make sure she's really Akyuu. Just stuff like "We've been really busy at the mansion preparing for the next party Remilia wants to hold. Goodness, how long has it been since the last one of ours you were able to attend? It was great, you were there, and so was Miss Patchouli! And who else...?" Though hopefully a bit more subtle and sleek like we'd expect from Greg. Hopefully Patchouli will pick up on what we're doing and be able to confirm if Akyuu is lining up the right details, or if she's a bit off. Even if she's not Mamizou in disguise, it's possible she was already tampered with in some way.

[X] Give a few more details about who Mamizou is, while subtly testing Akyuu's memory

Patchouli definitely wants a boytoy.
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>boytoy
degenerates, I will proceed as usual
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Frankly, I like the idea of testing Akyuu to make sure we're not being hit by the bluff here, but there's no reason to be subtle about it. It might annoy Patchy if we just take the initiative, but... better than letting a shapeshifter get away with shapeshifting.

[X] "She's a Tanuki that the world seems to have forgotten, and we were hoping your perfect memory would have resisted such things. Speaking of said memory, could you recite the article on Keine from Perfect Memento in Strict Sense off the top of your head?"
- [X] If she can indeed do as such, ask to review the rest of the chronicle for mention of Mamizou.
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>>207792
The subtle testing has a lot of merit. We can always pull the rug when things get serious.

I'm of the mind to go about it the Sumireko way though; the only difference between high school girl gossip and slander is just that the latter is actually prosecuted.
Imply we heard from Sumireko about that stupid, shoddy, stinky tanuki that tricked her. If there's one thing she hates, then it's not getting the better of Outsiders. If it is Mamizou getting her off-balance this way can open up some avenues of pro-verbal attack

[x] Give a few more details about who Mamizou is, while subtly testing Akyuu's memory.
- {x} Get continously more slanderous truthful slanderous with the descriptions of Mamizou.
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>>207796
You forgot old

Don't forget old
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>>207797
Another immense benefit I forgot to mention is that getting a visible rise out of Mamizou will be proving to Patchouli that the tanuki does in fact exist.

Witness the power harnessed from a high school girl~
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>>207796
Maybe I'm just not seeing it, but... what merit is there to the slow pull?

We came to Akyuu for definitive proof that Mamizou exists, either through the newer volumes of the chronicle or now possibly through catching her in disguise if we're not just getting paranoid over nothing.

1. If this is Akyuu, and we directly verify her, we're immediately clear to check the chronicle.

2. If this is Akyuu, and we spend time subtly testing this is Mamizou, we waste time and energy on the tests before we get to the rest of our goals, letting Keine prepare some retaliation.

3. If this is Mamizou, and we immediately catch her, we get into a fight but have proven her existence. We can now deal with and (hopefully) get some answers out of her.

4. If this is Mamizou, we take the subtle approach, she realizes what we're doing, and blows her cover, we're at 3 but have given Keine prep time.

5. If this is Mamizou, we're subtle, she realizes, but we don't catch her, we're at 2 but she's now extra suspicious and probably works against us to make verifying her existence harder.

6. If this is Mamizou, we're subtle, and she doesn't realize what we're doing and gives herself away... we're basically just at 2 except we now know that Mamizou has somehow replaced Akyuu, or at a slightly better 4 where we can ambush her.

In every option where we waste time dancing around the idea, we give Keine prep time to either alert the rest of the conspiracy or cook something up. Just immediately ask her to demonstrate her memory and be done with it.
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>>207799
The way I see it we're in an battle of optics of (1)authenticating Akyuu and (2)establishing Mamizou's existence to Patchouli (and any other possible hidden observers).
The way I see it, asking ?Akyuu for a recollection of Keine's entry achieves (1) but egging a possibly disguised Mamizou on is the twofer.
Akyuu can, justifiably, just refuse to let us get close at the chronicles regardless. It would be of the essence to keep them safe especially at a point in time in which there are apparently unrecorded shapeshifters out and about.

I'm not saying that they are both mutually exclusive courses of action though.
In fact I'd be in favor of asking ?Akyuu to recollect her entry for Keine, while asking clarifying questions that could trip someone lacking eidetic memory up and talk about Mamizou in unflattering terms.
>>207796 augmenting vote:
[x] Ask ?Akyuu for a recollection of Keine's entry
-[x] Ask questions in order to trip her up
[x] Talk about Mamizou
-{x} Channel the power of a high school girl
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Something i'm keeping in mind (not sure if its been mentioned and i just missed it reading the votes and discussion,) but Akyuu could also be lying. At least in the original timeline (aka the one sans greg.) Mamizou had been coordinating with the incident resolvers to trap Sumi. And Akyuu is neutral within gensokyo threat to the existance would not be covered, with Sumi represents. Now the fact that she's talking with Patchouli does weaken the point... But since we're asking about Mamizou it might be ringing alarm bells for Akyuu. (And i don't think the edition of the gensokyo chronicle that the SDM has is recent enough the have Mamizou so we might not be in a position to call her on it.)
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>>207806
Yes, one of the biggest problems Greg's been facing is the issue of the Gensokyo chronicle in the SDM library doesn't contain Mamizou, so he can't prove she exists to the rest of the cast.

>Akyuu lying
Could Patchouli cast another truth spell?
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>>207808
Think that it would take time.
And if we're right about Akyuu being Mamizou in disguise, she won't give us that time.
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>>207805
Forgive me, but after some thinking on this... I still don't get it.
We have three options here: Akyuu's been memory wiped, Akyuu's in on it, or Akyuu's actually Mamizou. Let's assume that these are all equally possible, for the sake of argument.

In the case of option 1: Once we know Akyuu is Akyuu, we can ask to review the chronicle on suspicion that she's been erased from memory. Either she lets us browse the more recent volumes, she does it herself, or worst case scenario we try to read it through application of violence. Assuming the effect causing Mamizou's nonexistence is the same as the one that hid Keine, these all prove the Tanuki exists.

In the case of option 2: She's already working against us anyways, so we can assume she'd refuse to let us see the Chronicle itself, and lie about the contents of she looked through herself. If she's working against us, there is no valuable information to be gained without the application of violence anyways, so why bother with the test? If she is working against us, we have bigger and more immediate problems to address.

If it's Mamizou... Immediately outing her confirms her existence faster than trying to provoke her into it.

If it's Mamizou, she can verify her own existence via direct interrogation.

If Akyuu's lying to us, we're being tricked and need to either take the info by force or get out of there immediately, not waste time making petty jabs.

If Akyuu's also a victim of the history eating, she'll either just show us the Chronicle (confirms Mamizou), look at the Chronicle herself and tell us (confirms Mamizou), we'll need to attack her and then to get to the chronicle (confirms Mamizou), or she doesn't show us and we give up (already enough of a time waste as-is.)

Is it a good idea to attack Akyuu in those two lines? No, not really, but we can decide that if we need to later.
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>>207808

Unfortunately, no. That was an incredibly niche spell which only worked in that dream state. Unless we can replicate the circumstances, I’m pretty sure we can’t get another truth spell in.

However, in regards to testing Akyuu(if that even is her real name)’s memory, one of the more discrete ways to do so would be by getting Patchy to reference something which happened the last time she met Akyuu.

After all, the two seem to recognise eachother and it’s apparently not uncommon for her and Koa to go into the human village.

> A visit to the village isn't that unusual for us.

Something simple like “Regarding our conversation last time, do you have an answer?” Or something similar.
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Doesn’t seem like there’s a consensus yet, so let’s make this an official vote.

[-] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
[-] Subtly test Akyuu’s memory.
[-] Ask to see the chronicle.

AND

(-) Explain what you know about Mamizou.
(-) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light.
(-) Downplay what you know about Mamizou.

This one might be important, so good luck. Also, write-ins are still allowed, I’m just summarizing the current ideas.
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My gut instinct is to avoid rushing into a fight if it could be avoided. The last time we thought we could just beat someone and interrogate them, it was with Nitori- which lead to the Marisa fight, getting injured and then Eientei. Frankly, I don't think Patchy could beat Mamizou in a spontaneous fight- (Mami could blow smoke in her face or something lol), and while Greg could turn the tides, a) there's no guarantee Patchouli would unbind him when her attention's divided and he could escape and b) for all Greg knows, she has a way to negate the illusions- he's already met 3 such people in as many days after all. Not to mention that it probably wouldn't stay confined to the house. We'd gain Meiling, but in turn have to fight Keine, likely grey hair and blue hair(a.k.a Futo and Ichirin) maybe even Youmu if she's still nearby enough to notice the commotion. Also, if this is really just Akyuu, it's best not to lay hands on her, considering Patchouli just said that not even Yukari could interfere with her without consequences. Being forceful also increases the chances that Mami/Akyuu realise it isn't actually Koakuma and so take the offensive. Being too pushy might cause Akyuu to not want to show us the Chronicle for what she can justify as reasonable suspicion. And yet...

[X] "She's a Tanuki that the world seems to have forgotten, and we were hoping your perfect memory would have resisted such things. Speaking of said memory, could you recite the article on Keine from Perfect Memento in Strict Sense off the top of your head?"
- [X] If she can indeed do as such, ask to review the rest of the chronicle for mention of Mamizou.

While it would be nice to avoid a fight, really, it might be best to just be direct about it; who knows what Keine is cooking up? And again, while Gensokyoans have certain rules in place for its citizens, we don't know what they might do to foreigners- so Akyuu may or may not be neutral towards Greg and Sumire specifically.
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[X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
(X) Explain what you know about Mamizou, but you don't have to be flattering about it.

Once we can rest our paranoia and be assured that we're not being tricked, we can then ask to see the Chronicle. Besides that, we can tell her all about how she tricked those two poor innocent outsiders, sell our side as the innocents, but we don't need to slander her- it'd come off as weird for Koakuma to do that.

Side note: We should be incredibly careful. We are wearing a disguise of another person, right in front of somebody with perfect memory. Just gotta be mindful of that.
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Spitballing here, but Greg usually is the goodcop while Sumireko is the Unibomber-I mean badcop. What if instead of painting Mamizou in an unflattering light we do the opposite? A flattering one?
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[x] Ask to see the chronicle.
(x) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light.
-[x] As much as possible, to the point of provocation. Include several glaring flaws in her description for her to point out.

Akyuu possesses perfect memory, which means that this one either lies or is Mamizou in disguise. We don't KNOW know it's in there.
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>>207795 here
Keeping my write-in vote as-is, but I figured I should word it in terms of the official vote. Consider this a different way of saying the same thing.

[X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
- [X] If she passes, ask to see the Chronicle. Otherwise, press her on the discrepancy.
(X) Downplay what you know about Mamizou

>>207837
We also literally have somebody erasing history. It's possible that her memory was hidden just as much as anybody else's. Not everyone gets powerscaled equally.
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This goes faaaar back to, I think, the first thread but Sumireko donned a Marisa-like disguise/costume complete with a blond magical hair recoloring after the Satori sponsored shopping trip. This happened before the battle against Nitori, so pretty early on.
The sixth thread had Patchouli and Greg comparing notes on the various appearances of (impostor!)Sumireko. There she is mentioned appearing "yesterday morning" before the SDM and having been described wearing her normal school uniform.

I'm bringing this up in case we can somehow use this to force a gotcha moment because I'm preeetty sure impostor!Sumireko's appearance at the SDM was after the Nitori battle.
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>>207853
I'm hoping for someone to figure out something better than this but this is what I got going.

I'm both >>207805 >>207796 (and >>207853), adjusting my vote (this is getting ridiculous) to Soul's formal format
[X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
{x} Review Sumireko's appearances with Akyuu; Time, location, looks.
-{x} In case of discrepancies; press her on them
(x) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light

In this order if possible.
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[X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
{x} Review Sumireko's appearances with Akyuu; Time, location, looks.
-{x} In case of discrepancies; press her on them
(x) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light
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[-] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.

(-) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light.

I wanted to discreetly try to test akyuu's memory, but bein disguised s Koakuma and "innocently" openly asking it could be viable...

also with Mamizou even if she's not pretending to be Akyuu, she could actually be disguised as something in the room. (or she could be elsewhere in town about to jump Meiling.) and she is somewhat of a careless shapeshifter ( when trying to influence Akyuu in FS Akyuu was spotting her ears and tail multiple times during the discussion!) so goading her might cause tells... it just might be from the painting on the wall rather than the person we're talking to...

though a "regular human" insulting a supernatural creature does not sound like the best of ideas... and yet I'm voting for it anyway... oh boy...

Patchouli is probably going 'Finally! he's wrong about something! and its going to jynx it and something happens like Kosuzu comes bursting in exclaiming something about Mamizou before Akyuu could warn her off or something.

I'm not sure if we should bring up Sumi into the discussion right about now, its not like that's been important to the villagers too much and information that there's multiple at the same place hasn't really gotten out yet (and why would Koakuma be really concerned with it?)
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>>207865
I think bringing Sumireko up is viable since it is part of the core issue of the incident being manipulated.
As far as everyone knows, finding and apprehending Sumireko is the key to resolving the ongoing incident. The fact that there is an impostor who is actively delaying the resolution of the incident is a hugely concerning issue. Keeping an incident as volatile as the Urban Legend Incident going is an unprecedented danger to the balance of Gensokyo. Imagine, after all, if Remilia were to escape the mansion...
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>>207853 Matter of fact looking at >>204969 Sumireko's appearance at the SDM did indeed definitely happen after the events at the human village.


>After your appearance in the human village [...]
>And Marisa had secondhand information from Sakuya that you had appeared at the Scarlet Devil Mansion

Additionally we know prior to Eientei we kept together as a group, so any and all appearances of Sumireko by herself are from the fake.
Greg can absolutely cook with this.
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First off, changing my vote to

X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
{x} Review Sumireko's appearances with Akyuu; Time, location, looks.
-{x} In case of discrepancies; press her on them
(x) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light

Secondly, re >>207877, we know that Sumi was probably at camp, but Greg wouldn't be able to give a specific time. The timeline was

Got woken up by Satori
Washed hair
Harassed by Kosihi
And then he sees Sumireko for the first time. We don't know if Satori woke us up at the crack of dawn, mid-morning or at like 11:00 AM. I think it depends on if Sakuya set out immediately. If she did, and she got to the village within minutes as Patchouli said she would, then we might be able to prove it wasn't her; Greg was shopping with her, then fighting alongside her and then on the road with her and Satori.

But the other, alternative issue is that Sakuya could have theoretically gone down to the village and then gone around searching for a while before finding Marisa. Greg would want to narrow the window on how long after the Human Village fight Sakuya Vs Marisa happened. Failing that, establishing when Sakuya was first seen Vs when we were could be helpful. Patchouli isn't really going to give us the benefit of the doubt- she knows that Greg can be a manipulator and also she needs to justify putting Marisa in the hospital, pissing off Eientei, kidnapping and everything she's done to Satori. Greg will want to be ironclad, especially if we fail to establish the existence of Mamizou.
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-{X} Before going too far, a classic bluff; say one of you have a spell that can reliably reveal tanuki in disguise by making their real ears pop up, and insist on casting it in the house. Watch to see if anyone reacts, or tries to check.
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>>207878 The sequence of events you are mentioning are from before the gang even first set foot into the village. What I was referring to was after that.
And we actually have a timeframe for after the battle with Nitori here >>202435
>"Don't give me that! You were out for an hour after fainting in the middle of combat!"

>>207791
You alluded to it here (and I totally glossed over it), but what if Mamizou used the neuralyzer on the real Akyuu - and it worked for real? She could have been fed any information Mamizou wanted her to believe and Akyuu would earnestly do so. In the story Greg has obviously no clue about this, so only verifying what Akyuu's saying could actually lead to a dead end.
But the chronicles are an absolute, untouchable fixed point to Gensokyo's history. And even if the real Akyuu herself legitimately has no knowledge of Mamizou anymore, she absolutely has to believe what her own chronicles state; They're literally her purpose.

It's just about how to convince her to let us look at them...

I was about to change my vote for the fourth time now... I'm just going to add the already formulated sub-point instead.
- [X] If she passes, ask to see the Chronicle. Otherwise, press her on the discrepancy.

This is such a replay of the doll enchantment back-and-forth.
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Alright, what are we thinking about this;

[X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
- [X] If she passes, ask to see the Chronicle. Otherwise, press her on the discrepancy.
{x} Review Sumireko's appearances with Akyuu; Time, location, looks.
-{x} In case of discrepancies; press her on them
(x) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light

Directly testing possibly lets us out an imposter right away. Seeing the chronicle could also let us potentially find her right away. Asking about the imposter Sumireko might let us figure out if the real one had an alibi for the SDM visit. And slandering Mamizou is, in addition to being fun, a last ditch effort to expose her if she's present, or poison the well against her if she isn't.
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>>207881
I'm thinking this is good. Proving Mamizou's existence and involvement is a good trade-off for blowing the disguise.
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>>207855 here.
Change my vite to:
[X] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
- [X] If she passes, ask to see the Chronicle. Otherwise, press her on the discrepancy.
{x} Review Sumireko's appearances with Akyuu; Time, location, looks.
-{x} In case of discrepancies; press her on them
(x) Paint Mamizou in a heavily unflattering light
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In case new write-ins are still being counted:

Add to >>207854
[x] Explain your own confusion at how you - Koakuma - are the only person of the SDM who remembered Keine and Mamizou.
-[x] State that Keine's existence was proven by checking the Chronicle we have in the library which is the reason why you would like to check further chronicles for mention of the tanuki.

This then slots into (pretending to) hurriedly trying to test if Akyuu is the real Akyuu, playing off of Koakuma being an earnest if slightly airheaded assistant - because the impostor would totally pretend to not know the impostor! This should lower the initial suspicion that may otherwise arise by testing Akyuu outright.
This then slots into the discussion about the Sumireko impostor, during which is established that an impostor in fact exists and is prolonging the incident.
This then slots into slandering Mamizou, poising Akyuu against her - which is huge - and/or insulting a disguised Mamizou in her face - which is based.

If asked: ""We"" "think" the reason as for why Koakuma is the one who remembered them is that she techniqually is not a Gensokyan. This also lays a false lead by implying Sumireko and Greg could also possibly remember Mamizou, since this is technically the truth for both of them as well.
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I agree with >>207927. It's a good way to not break character as Koakuma too too much.
(I'm >>207881 for quick reference)
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I feel like all of this tries to minmax the IQ points of our response from 120 to 220, but in actuality will end up underflowing it to 20
settle down, it's probably gonna be alright if we don't textwall at her
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>>207929 Nonono, but see, if we underflow we end up sounding like a complete noob who has no idea how to deceive someone... and that will just sell the Koakuma disguise so it'll wrap us back around to genius again!
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>>207929
I mean, if that's what's going to happen I'll be fine with it as long it's makes sense story wise and makes for an engaging read.
To me it's also just fun to game these scenarios out to the ultimate degree possible. What would be the counterplay to Mamizou turning herself into the Gensokyo chronicle that should have her entry?

The only thing that's giving me real grief is the thought that I'm making Soul's life as a writer difficult with these late additions but as far as I am aware he hasn't expressed the sentiment so far. In fact more often than not, he seems to be rolling pretty well with them.

>>207930
We're already capable of manipulating the boundary between Idiot and Genius. No wonder Yukari has chosen Greg as her future hu-- I- I mean, shikigami.
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>>207931
>Greg as her future hu--
oi stop it, she's beyond marriageable age already
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>>207932
Sadly true.
She integer underflowed to be forever 17 years of age for eternity and thus is legally prohibited from marrying as stated under the Civil Union Act, 2006.
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Hey, if this blows up, it blows up. We'll just have to hold the L, live and learn, c'est la vie etc.

Also if Yukari does get with Greg, wouldn't that be husband husbandry
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I didn't put it into my vote, but I had a similar idea to >>207927 vote, soo

>>207865 here, adding to my vote:

[x] Explain your own confusion at how you - Koakuma - are the only person of the SDM who remembered Keine and Mamizou.
-[x] State that Keine's existence was proven by checking the Chronicle we have in the library which is the reason why you would like to check further chronicles for mention of the tanuki.

on a side note, Patchouli's note about othe youkai not attempting something with the Child of Miare also applies to us, we don't have too much room on pressing Akyuu here.
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Please stop joking about Yukari grooming Greg to be her husband. Satori wouldn't be able to handle such heartbreak.
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>>207947
>Satori!Nuclear bad end
>Satori!Nuclear good end
not sure which I'd prefer
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Nuclear Dream
>>207948
Definitely good end
We know normal end already includes movie nights with Satori.
Satori!Nuclear Good End includes obgligatory is the 2.7 kids and the 1.3 cars that come with the Nuclear (heh) Family - and the 68.4 pets that are already included in Chireiden. And if we achieve all the optional objectives we'll even be able to afford a misty lakeside summer home to enjoy free afternoon tea.
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>>207931

>Mamizou turning herself into the Gensokyo chronicle
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>>207982 This is true art. I just wanted to appreciate that. And the fact that this is the first pickle Rick I've seen in 2+ years.


>>207953 This ending talk makes me think. Greg is a youkai, so there's a good chance that he just stays in Gensokyo, lives in his GF's crib( a.k.a the Palace of the Earth Spirits). But if he stays, will Sumi? Hina's already said to her
>If you end up staying in Gensokyo, just visit from time to time. That's enough.

So the possibility is open. Granted, there's a good chance it might just be like the game where Sumireko lives in the outside world but comes and visits in her dreams. Especially given she hates everyone in Gensokyo with the exceptions of Hina, Greg, Mary and Alice(kinda). I'm just thinking of the impact having her best friend stay might have.
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e7a9b6b846783704371ec8abdd8a7ac3
[-] Directly test Akyuu’s memory.
--- [-] Plus a lot of write-ins.

"Mamizou? Big tanuki boss, pretty strong, acts like an old lady?" you asked, your heart sinking. "Directly responsible for tricking Sumireko into Gensokyo, plus some other stuff?"

Akyuu shook her head. "There's no such youkai in Gensokyo. Where did you hear all of this?"

"Everywhere!" you cried out, letting a little distress leak into Koakuma's voice. "Mamizou and Keine were just youkai that people knew, and then all of a sudden nobody remembered but me! I didn't even realize at first, but Sakuya and Patchouli and the others just stopped talking about them, like they never existed! If it wasn't for your chronicle, I wouldn't have even been able to show Keine was real!"

Patchouli gave you that sidelong glance that let you know she was a little disturbed, but Akyuu seemed to buy it, rubbing her eyes. "It's all right. Whatever's really going on here, I'm sure nobody blames you."

"But Remilia's in a bad spot, and we need to figure out her urban legend, or..." you trailed off. Faking tears wasn't natural for you, but you managed to choke up a little.

"I'm not sure what else I can tell you," Akyuu said, looking markedly uncomfortable. "Keine is real, obviously enough, and she's done these sorts of history tricks before. Perhaps this is some sort of false trail laid by the real culprit?"

"The real culprit behind what, exactly?" Patchouli asked.

Akyuu smiled. "This promises to be a long conversation, and I suspect we've all had a long day. Would you care for some tea?"




Patchouli accepted, you declined, and Akyuu rang for a servant and asked for them to bring some of whatever new blend she was drinking. You'd have found the distraction irritating if you didn't need the time to think.

Akyuu denying Mamizou's existence was a nasty shock, but you'd been bracing for something to go wrong, and now you at least knew what it was. Mamizou officially did not exist, according to the authority whose writings proved Keine's existence... and for that matter, who appeared to be personally aware that Keine still existed.

Admittedly, there were still a few possibilities. Akyuu might simply be lying, or there might be some magical subtlety that let her remember Keine but not Mamizou. Without knowing for sure why you remembered both, you couldn't state with complete confidence that it was impossible to recall only one.

But your gut was telling you this wasn't some innocent misunderstanding. Mamizou got to Akyuu first, possibly before you even arrived in Gensokyo. And if that was the case, then this was bad. Both for what it meant for the scale of Mamizou's plan, and for the almost-sorta-kidna trust you were building with Patchouli. She'd been fighting the idea of you being trustworthy, suspecting you of running some kind of scheme pretty much every step of the way! You couldn't afford to be wrong now, especially not when you weren't actually wrong!

The good news was, if you were right and Mamizou was impersonating Akyuu, there was a simple way to prove that. You just had to pick your moment. And in the meantime, there was no harm in figuring out whatever it was she wanted you to think.

The moment Akyuu finished speaking to the servant, Patchouli resumed the conversation. "So. What scheme do you think is at play?"

"I wasn't part of the incident resolvers meeting earlier, but I've kept my ears open," she replied, sitting back down. "There have been nine Sumireko sightings so far, encountering nearly every major group in Gensokyo and featuring vastly different levels of both skill and malice."

Wait, that was your argument. Why was she making it for you?

"This is enough for all of the major incident resolvers to actively search for her, and yet, she hasn't been caught." Akyuu continued. "And while everyone's hunting for her, something alarmed Keine badly enough for her to hide both the village and her own existence."

Patchouli's eyes narrowed. "What are you suggesting?"

"Obviously someone's working with her." Akyuu said.

Patchouli glanced over at you. "I can verify that much," she said cautiously. "When Sakuya found her at Eientei, Satori and a few other youkai were there. But Sumireko's allies have been rather firmly accounted for."

"Not just them," Akyuu said. "The force arranged against Sumireko is substantial. No matter how powerful her allies are, it is unlikely they could simultaneously stand against Reimu, Marisa, Byakuren, Miko, and Kasen... to say nothing of your own mansion's forces. No, for her to remain at large in spite of everyone's efforts requires most of Gensokyo's youkai to be actively misdirected. I believe someone organizing the hunt is secretly sabotaging it."

"You have a suspect in mind," Patchouli stated flatly.

"I do," Akyuu confirmed. "A notorious trickster youkai, one of significant power, who's actually present in Gensokyo. One who might gain significantly from the proper urban legend, who's been actively involved in planning the response, and yet who has not encountered Sumireko directly."

"Yukari," Patchouli muttered darkly.

Akyuu glanced at her in surprise. "What? No. Isn't she asleep?"

"No. She made a personal visit to the mansion a few hours ago, where she all but admitted culpability in Remilia's plight."

"That is new information," Akyuu admitted, biting her lip. "Though maybe I shouldn't be surprised..."

"You clearly had someone else in mind," Patchouli pointed out. "If not Yukari, then who?"

"Well, my dramatic reveal has been ruined," Akyuu pouted slightly, "but... her shikigami. The nine-tailed kitsune, Ran Yakumo."

[-] To be continued.

((This is going to take multiple updates to get through everything, but here's the first piece.))
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>Would you care for some tea?
>Patchouli accepted, you declined,
ehehhehehehhhhhh
Well then.
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>wondering about mamizou
>first thing 'akyuu' does is slag Ran, a kitsune

HMMMMMMMMM....
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>put the heat off of you
>pin the blame on the kitsune
>also paint them as not to be trusted
Typical Tanuki behavior this is totally not racial profiling

Good thing we're here to spin our own narrative establish the truth in its place. We'll uncover their inferior dastardly scheme and insult unveil the stupid sinister Raccoon hag boss as she deserves to be as she deserves to be.

For this is our part to play as a trusted trustworthy trusty Konsultant.
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>>207997
>A notorious trickster youkai, one of significant power, who's actually present in Gensokyo
OK yeah this is definitely suspect as hell. The first part though more from a meta perspective. Yeah, Ran is super smart, but characterizing her as a trickster seems wildly off, especially a "notorious" one. If anything, Ran is usually the one getting tricked (See Silent Sinner). And the "who's actually present in Gensokyo" line is so clearly dripping, now I'm pretty certain Akyuu is Mamizou, or working on her behalf.
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Double-checked Ran's PMiSS article. Needless to say that she's portrayed VERY differently in the PMiSS.

In fact, at one point Akyuu explicitly assures readers that Ran sneaking around is no reason for concern, because she's probably just making sure the barrier's intact. And then talks about how warm her tails are. Which is VERY different from how she portrays Yukari, which doesn't avoid pointing out her being a nuisance.

I know we're late to do write-ins, but what's the chances that known bookworms like Patchouli and Koakuma wouldn't have read the chronicle article on Ran? Especially when one of their own has fought the kitsune? Better yet, what's the chances we couldn't insist that the chronicle on ran's way different from this portrayal?
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>Implying that Ran can act without Yukari's approval.
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Ran can act without Yukari's say so. She's just weaker when doing so. There was even an Aya interview where Yukari was beating Ran due to not following orders. So Akyuu should be aware of that, at least.

>>208004 I think Patchouli might get a brainwave depending on how well she knows Ran. Also from the fact that Ran fought against Alice at Eientei, making Greg+ Sumi's capture by Reisen + Marisa more likely.
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yeah, ya dun goof'd there Mamizou, I wasn't sure if you were pretending to be Akyuu or just had her working with you... with this bit trying to pin the blame of Ran, yeah that's you.

pretty sure that the copy of the Chronicle that the SDM has would've had the Ran article in it, and Patchouli did just look through it so there is a decent chance that she did just see Ran's entry and can see the bull being given right now... though I can see why Mami might've slipped up, scratch that, "Kaokuma" mentioned the chronicle and thus "Akyuu" should know that the entry for Ran sounds different than what she just described... so I suppose she could pass it off as one of the inaccuracies that are there on request of the entrants in question... but now Patchouli should be suspicious (and probably annoyed that right after it looked like Greg was finally wrong about something she's being forced to consider he might be in fact right in it.
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>Akyuu rang for a servant and asked for them to bring some of whatever new blend she was drinking
>new blend
Ehehehehh

>>208004
>the chronicle article on Ran
>Akyuu giggled. "In point of fact, I've been catching up on my chronicling work all day; I'm actually rather glad for the distraction."
Ehehehhaah...

If this is going where I'm imblying it is going then Mamizou is on her way to make everyone her enemy.
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>>208023
Total tanuki death?
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>>208024
It's what Mami deserves for messing with Mama
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>>208024
Personally, my one hope for this series to see happen is for, the moment Sumireko finally sees Mamizou face-to-face, is for Sumireko to punch her right in the face, not even bother to ask her any questions or such beforehand, just go right for a right-hook. Greg obviously wouldn't, but I think Sumireko is angry, determined, and impulsive enough to do that. And the payoff for that moment after all this buildup would be sweet.

Though one thing I'm curious about, do we think Mamizou is working with Yukari, doing her own thing, or kinda-working with Yukari but planning on doing her own thing?
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>>208026
Let's look at both of them are up to and apparently want to do

Yukari's actions/agenda
> Bait Sumireko + Greg into Gensokyo, prompting them into the UL incident
> Keep Greg and Sumireko alive
> Let the urban incident continue so that the Occult Balls grow in power
>Eventually, create a UL of her own
>Turn Greg into a Shikigami

Mamizou's agenda/actions
>Transform into Sumireko at various places
>Pick fights with(specifically/especially) the SDM + Moriyas
>Increase the odds that Sumireko will be captured/killed if found
>But also, bemuse and befuddle (most) of the incident resolvers to make her less likely to be found.
> Hide her existence (possibly with Keine)
> (Maybe) pretend to be Akyuu. As a second layer of cover-up.

I think the main argument for it is that if Reimu/Kasen/Miko/Byakuren caught Sumireko, they would take her down non-lethally and force her to end the incident. So Yukari would want to prevent that. Also, that Mamizou, on day 2, got from the Netherworld to the SDM to the Shining Needle Castle to Myouren Temple all before the incident resolver meeting, which seems to have happened at noonish. That speaks to spacetime manipulation, and therefore, Yukari. And that, like Greg mentioned, the timing for the SDM encounter in particular was near perfect, speaking to someone having kept an eye on Greg + Sumi(like Yukari was). so I think, they at least have some sort of agreement.

The first thing sticking in my craw is Sussireko/Mamizou stabbing Sanae. That might have been Mami going rogue; again, it meant that Sumireko was fairly likely to have straight up gotten killed, which (seemingly) runs counter to Yukari's goals.

The second thing is, why would Mamizou want this incident to go on? She was one of the people who helped stop Sumireko in the OTL. Yukari could have promised her something, but I can't really think of what.
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On second thought, ignore that last part. It's Yukari, she could have promised anything short of the moon. Still, given Mamizou's pride I don't think she'd let herself be ordered around, so it'd be more of a loose coalition than a strict pact.
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I'm pretty sure Mamizou is still working with who she was in canon, namely Kasen, and together working with the incident resolvers... their plan has just gone FUBAR (or rather a lot more FUBAR than it had in canon.)

and while Mamizou might've been one of the duplicates we've heard of, I don't think she is all of them. I'm pretty sure we're dealing with Sumireiko's Urban Legend of the Doppelganger... and maybe even also her Dream Self at the same time.

I think Mamizou is really panicking here, their plan to scare Sumi into not coming back started off alright, Satori joining them probably was a complication, but nothing too concerning... aaaaaannnddd then Eintei happened, Marisa was stabbed by Sakyua. those involved with the village quickly put together the idea to hide the village to ride out whatever is happening... and then that gets undone in something in the neighbourhood of only a day (and they probably missed out on Sanae being stabbed which would've only had them lock up even faster!)

and the more I look at what is being claimed here by "Akyuu" the worse it gets. Ran wasn't removed from everyone's memory, which means that not only would the SDM remember Sakuya's report of Ran from the PCB incident, not to mention all the times she (either with or without Yukari) was at one of hte many drinking parties at the Hakurei Shrine. (not to mention the SSiB resolution party in which the Yakumo's celebrated with everyone at the Scarlet Devil Mansion itself! Yeah Mamizou messed up here in a scramble to pin the blame on someone (and using the opportunity to take a swipe at a Kitsune which she is wont to do.)
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>>208000
>>208001
>>208002
>>208014
>>208023
>>208024
>>208025
>>208026
>>208043
SAY IT TO MY FACE FUCKER NOT ONLINE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS STUPID VILLAGE FUCKIN SHITS
BUNCHA RUSE FALLIN DUPE BUYIN CREW LACKIN SOUP STIRRIN SMALLBALLS ALL UP IN THIS THREAD
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>>208074
counterargument: racoon soup
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There she is - the source of all my problems
>>208065
>Doppelganger
Afaik the doppelganger only 'becomes active' when Sumireko's sleeping (and only when Sumireko returned to the outside?) I mean it's possible, but even then, the doppelganger shouldn't be doing things that real Sumi wouldn't do, considering they share the same consciousness.

>Dream Self
Perfect Possessions have yet to happen; she can't otherwise escape the dream realm unassisted.
I could potentially imagine Yukari gapping Dream Sumireko out. Doremy should have enough distractions going on with the entirety of the lunar population squatting there that Yukari can whisk Dream!Sumireko away. And Dream!Sumireko is a bit of a troublemaker for sure.

I'm guessing we'll get confirmation once we switch back to Sumireko's POV.
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>>208082
Yeah if we're talking like that, then we're not taking into account Time Travelled Sumireko, Time Travelled Greg, Nue, Mamizou (forma de Desperado), Mamizou (forma de Yukarin Shikigamin), Yukarin and Fairy Jobber Squad. Pretty sure those are our usual suspects, Dick, and we need to go down the list.
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>>208083
You made me bring out the tier list.
I wonder when Youmu!Black makes her appearance.
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>>208084
I don't know. But what I do know is that Reimu azul, Marisa blanca and Sakuya (Juego acabado) will appear in 40 episodes.
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Yall have some many theories for accomplices, but couldn't they just be other tanuki? Mamizou is their matriarch, after all.
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>>208084
How effective is princesa Perezosa (destruidor de testículos) against tanuki?
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She's fairly good, especially with the synergy with Abuela Berenjena.

>>208086 Good point the lackeys are often kind of a non factor so they're easy to forget
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>>208082

in canon she only did, and if that is the case then the Sumi here is the doppelganger... I think, and Sumi is actually knocked out back in the real world, (not sure how that worked during the initial Urban legend incident or if the dream travelling syndrome only kicked it afterwards)

but this isn't Canon and who knows that Greg's Prescence and Yukari's plans for him have changed how things go, it might be that what she's done has caused the full effect of the Doppelganger (i.e. the evil Twin.) to manifest a separate conciousness from Sumi and do evil twin things to mess with her real self. and wasn't the perfect possession incident an extension of the Urban Legend incident? (and Violet Detector ended up an extension of the side effects of the Perfect Possesion Incident?) so with the other alterations that have happened they might be kicking off faster than originally, and this ends up biting seems like everyone in the resulting gambit dogpile.
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You're absolutely right that we shouldn't be thinking strictly about canon(Yukari wasn't involved in ULiL where here she very much is, same for the SDM. And of course from meeting Kasen, Reimu + Satori onwards the story completely diverged)

Thing is, I feel like a dream/imposter Sumireko would've already gotten caught or killed. They probably would have picked a fight with someone like Yuuka(who the real Sumireko would underestimate) and got pasted. Not to mention, I feel like getting to Hakugyokurou would be hard if you didn't know the way there, which would support the imposter being a native. I guess you could argue that Yukari is mission control, but it would be easier to find Mamizou or another Tanuki or illusionist/shapeshifter who would be a known factor.
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>>208147

unless the doppelganger was manifesting as Sumi's Urban Legend (which in AoCF was her urban legend power) and since Remilia has demonstrated that the Urban Legend does not necessarily act beneficially to the holder. the Doppel Sumi might only be manifesting occasionally and is not active/present most of the time (so when the second Sumi appeared in front of Aya (after the real Sumi teleported into the river to get away) wasn't teleporting in herself, but rather the Urban Legend was activating. (which brings to mind that we still don't know what she said to Aya as Sumi seems to have missed the when Hayate mentioned it while Sumi was illusioned as Koishi.) it might also explain what was going on with Shimmy, as the Doppel was manifesting and de-manifesting throughout the time.

Now not necessarily all of the sightings would be the doppel and/or dream sumi and 1 or 2 of them could be someone disguised as them, though only the early ones of them as from what info we have Mamizou has been hiding in the Village since it was hidden away, which means she definitely wasn't the Sumi that stabbed Sanae as things that Yukari and the SDM crew that the Village and the memory of Kiene and Mamizou had already been erased.
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>>208223 Hmm, you might have a point. Sussireko was at Moriya Shrine/Youkai Mountain about 2-4ish hours ago and at the underground about an hour ago, as of the Tea Party. The Tea Party would have happened sometime during the walk to the village (Greg could see the storm from the Suwako fight when he stepped out). So it would be a pretty tight window for Mamizou to get back. 'Akyuu' intermittently disappearing and re-appearing could also be kind of suspicious. There's also ample opportunity for Sumireko to get a UL- she had Kasen's occult orb overnight and until Eientei. And the Yukari recruitment attempt/fight might have been at around the same time as the stabbing of Sanae. But that's not 100%.

Even still though, it's technically still possible for Mamizou to do it if Yukari really is aiding her. Instantaneous teleportation and nigh-undetectable surveillance can do that. Really, it depends on whether Yukari is as laissez-faire as she says she's being.

Good catch on the Aya thing btw. Judging by her comments in the Tea Party, it seems that Sussireko gave the impression of wanting to upset the status quo. That's consistent with a dream Sumireko whose general anger at Gensokyo turned into a Seija. But could also be slander from Mamizou.
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Apologies for the radio silence the past couple of weeks; the combination of a work deadline and a sibling getting married have left me with a lot less writing time than usual. That said, it's all about to be done, so starting Sunday I can get back to writing.

Hopefully that means an update before the weekend is over, but either way, it should soon be back to business as usual.
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>>208249

>turned into a Seija

>upset the status quo

...would there be any perspective items that could disguise someone else in gensokyo as another person? could Seija have been the one to stab Sanae and then turned around and attempted to recruit a now cornered Sumi?
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>>208365
Certainly none that I could think of, there's not really anyone with a focus on enchanting in canon(maybe Rinnosuke with the mini-hakkero?) and in this it's mostly been Greg and Patchouli. It's not impossible that Seija got her hands on and enchanter, but they would need to specialise on illusions or shape shifting; but that's mainly the Tanuki, who like her as much as the rest of Gensokyo does.

>>208312 good to hear you'll be back! Congratulations to your sibling on the wedding.
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>>208372
we know she has some source of enchanted items from 14.3 (Impossible Spell Card.) Nothing that disguises, but that wouldn't help during a spell card duel and so its possible that she might be able to get items she didn't use from ISC.

there is also the Foxes that have a somewhat muted presence in Gensokyo. Aside from Ran, there's the one that disguised herself as Marisa a couple of times around Reimu and the student at the village school.

I just don't see the Sanae-Stabber sussireiko being Mamizou, she started this incident off working with Kasen (though not without some scheming within that.), who has said to Yukari's face that she in fact opposes Yukari. Mamizou hasn't had much contact with Yukari or and inclination of working with her. on top of all that, despite her goading and mocking of Reimu at times she doesn't seem to be one that would throw everything out of order doing a false flag stabbing. (almost the opposite, going as far as to threaten Miyoi to get out of the village to keep things stable... though that might've been actually just to pressure her to let her have some booze in the village...)
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[-] Ask more questions.

"It can't possibly be Ran!" you protested. "Shikigami don't work that way!"

"And you're an expert on shikigami?" Akyuu asked, giving you a sideways glance.

"It was one of the options back when Lady Patchouli first summoned me," you lied. "I'm thankful that she didn't pick it."

"Really, now?" Akyuu said, clearly probing.

That lie had earned you a sideways glance from Patchy, but thankfully she went with it. "It was never more than a last-resort threat. The final punishment, if all else failed. Regardless, you can rest assured my assistant and I know the basics. And from what I'm aware of, Ran can be considered a tool at Yukari's service."

Akyuu nodded. "And I presume you recall the rebellion of tools that happened recently?"

Patchouli paused, her gaze sharpening. "Sakuya made no mention of any Yakumo involvement for that incident. Have you found otherwise?"

Akyuu shook her head. "Nothing so direct. I don't think Seija or the Miracle Mallet had the necessary power to completely usurp Yukari's control in any case. But it could have been the first crack in the wall, and it would explain Ran's behavior."

"Go on," Patchouli said.

"Ran has been insisting to everyone who asked that Yukari is currently asleep and not to be disturbed, which is apparently false. Her being an active participant in the incident is equally unusual, as is that she's the only one of the would-be incident resolvers who hasn't personally encountered Sumireko by now."

"Couldn't that all be explained by Yukari being sneaky?" you asked. "We already know she's up to something; she could just be giving Ran orders."

"That's possible," Akyuu said with a nod, "but there's one more thing. The urban legends. You know better than anyone that they can significantly alter a youkai's behavior, even to the point of losing control of themselves. The right urban legend could give one that control back."

"But there'd need to be an appropriate story," you protested. "People would need to know about it, and that's something you have to lay the groundwork for."

"Indeed!" Akyuu said, smiling triumphantly. "A youkai intending such a plot would have to spend a significant amount of time in the human village spreading the story they wanted. And while most of the incident resolvers have been searching every which way, Ran has mostly coordinated efforts from the village."

Patchouli frowned. "It's an interesting idea, but this is all still largely theoretical. Has Ran herself actually done anything?"

"Nothing direct, aside from the urban legend."

Patchouli swore. "Akyuu. Forget the reveal, and make your damned point!"

Akyuu grew serious, staring the mage down. "I overheard some villagers talking about it a couple hours ago. How the Spring Snow incident was actually Yukari's attempt to steal the seasonal magic of Gensokyo, and how she was on the verge of succeeding when her shikigami turned against her and stopped her."

Hadn't Akyuu said she was working inside all day? You nearly objected, stopped to think about it for a moment, and finally shook your head. "That story is absurd on several levels."

Patchouli looked grim. "Yes, but it's not as if the villagers would know that. And if that method works, it opens up an entirely new possibility."

Akyuu caught the implication and shook her head. "I'm afraid I haven't heard anything specifically about Remilia or the Scarlet Mist incident. I'd have led with it if I had."

"One more thing to look at, then," Patchouli grumbled. "Actual magic has fewer possibilities than this incident."





The tea arrived just then, signaling a break in the conversation by unspoken agreement. You got up to help pour, but the servant girl waved you off, placing down the tea set and quickly pouring three cups. As she passed them out, you made the executive decision to leave yours untouched, watching the others. Akyuu took her time adding in milk and a generous dose of honey, sipping daintily at hers with every sign of enjoyment. Patchouli didn't bother, grabbing her cup in both hands and draining it in one go.

Akyuu blinked. "Did you even taste it?"

"Enough," Patchouli said, rubbing her eyes. "It is good, for the record."

The servant girl poured the mage another cup, which she proceeded to drink at a somewhat slower rate. Akyuu was about halfway through her cup when Patchouli finished that one, seeming a bit more focused now.

"There's still a point that needs clarification," she said, setting her teacup aside. "Even assuming Seija's rebellion affected Ran, and that she's manufacturing the urban legend you heard in an attempt to break free, that strikes me as a Yakumo family matter."

Akyuu coughed mid-sip. "Come again?"

"Yukari, under the alias Q. Nira, is directly responsible for Remilia's current state. She all but admitted as much before directly engaging half the mansion. If her shikigami wishes to rebel against her, then I wish her luck."

"But she's the one prolonging the incident," Akyuu protested. "The cause of the fake Sumireko sightings, making Keine hide the village, everything!"

Patchouli glanced over at you. "Whether Sumireko escapes or is captured is irrelevant to Remilia's urban legend. Granted, I'm sure Reimu would take an interest, but-"

"You don't understand!" Akyuu yelled.

Red in the face, the Child of Miare took a deep breath, drinking some of her tea before facing Patchouli seriously. "Ran Yakumo getting freed would be an extremely bad thing. Do you have any idea who she was before being bound?"

Patchouli poured herself a third cup of tea before settling back in her seat. "I'm listening."

"She was a wicked, ancient youkai of the worst sort," Akyuu said, scowling. "One who answered courtesy with insult and insult with atrocity. A seductress who corrupted men to worm her way into the seat of power, and used it for rampant bloodshed. A monster who loved getting her own claws dirty, but who spilled more blood through deceit than a hundred vampires could through combat."

You stared at her, taken aback. "This is personal for you."

"One of my reincarnations lived through her reign of terror, so yes." Akyuu drained the rest of her cup before continuing. "Rumor and fearmongering turned pranks into wicked schemes, and hunting into sadistic terrorism. The human's healthy fear of the unknown was poisoned into terror and hatred. In areas where the local youkai were quiet or in hiding, she'd simply don a disguise and slaughter a few people herself. And with the stage set, she ordered her army to retaliate. Those youkai that fought back were slaughtered, and those who retreated were pursued. Hunted down. She tried to genocide three species of youkai in Sado alone!"

"If Ran did all that, shouldn't we have heard of her?" you asked. You and Sumi had done a lot of research on youkai before coming to Gensokyo, and you suspected Patchouli knew at least as much.

"She had a different name back then," Akyuu explained. "Before becoming Ran Yakumo, she was originally known as Tamamo-no-Mae."

[-] To be continued.


((I couldn't believe how quickly you guys called this particular detail.))
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Alright, who called the Tammy connection?
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That was (half) me, someone noted that greg's mother was tammy and i recalled that Lost Bee's had Ran's body being Tomamo.

And to think that my connecting Ran's rebellion with Greg's parentage had been an idle thought! XD
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There have been too many mentions of tea drinking this update to not seem suspicious.
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Yanno, for someone who is leery of most Youkai, "Akyuu" account of Tomamo's reign focuses rather curiously on the Youkai over the Humans.

I mean come on Patchy! she's let slip things that you should know aren't true, are you seeing how much more rope she can add to the noose?
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Yeah, I'd normally expect someone talking about Tamomo to focus on the whole trying to take over Japan thing rather than trying to cause genocide in Sado.
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Also, Tamomo used her powers to exaggerate small infractions into massive wrongs. Just like Greg in his manipulative era. so that's another piece of evidence for the Ranmama theory.
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What if Ran being the Tamamo is just another urban legend?!
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>She tried to genocide three species of youkai in Sado alone!"

Wouldn’t Akyuu consider that to be a good thing? At the time this would have occurred, humans and youkai were natural enemies. Three extinct youkai species means three less things trying to kill humanity. That would only benefit the very human Akyuu.

Tanooki Akyuu would have a rough go of it though.
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Especially if the tanuki in question is a Futatsuiwa from Sado.

Now that I think about it, Greg won't know that Mamizou is from Sado, but he might know that there was a big tanuki boss there: Danzaboro-danuki. So he might know Sado would be a special place to them.
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>>208378
Maybe the tea is making Patchouli more... pliable to some tall and bushy tales.
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It's interesting how Akyuu (supposed to be a human) seems to be focusing on what Ran supposedly did to youkai rather than what she did to humans. Almost as if Akyuu isn't actually Akyuu.
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I agree it's suspicious but I've been mulling on this since the update. Isn't it possible she's just... playing up the bits that she thinks we would actually care about? The only humans Patchouli probably even cares about are Sakuya and the other incident resolvers. She'd be more likely to care if she heard about bad stuff happening to Youkai than humans, no?
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[-]What's in a name?

You were vaguely aware of Tamamo-no-mae's existence, but not much more than that. To the extent you did think about her, she was just another creature out of mythology, like the Minotaur, or the White Rabbit of Inaba. You didn't particularly trust the legends to be close to whatever happened back then, and so the name just didn't concern you.

What did concern you was Patchouli's spit-take and subsequent coughing fit. She recognized the name, and it wasn't good news.

As the servant girl passed the Akyuu a napkin, you watched the mage worriedly. "Are you alright?"

It took a few seconds for Patchouli's coughing to die down. "I've heard the name," she said, grimacing. "That... Akyuu's right, her getting free would definitely have consequences."

"Is Tamamo that bad?"

Patchouli barely seemed to hear you, murmuring to herself. "The timeline shouldn't be possible, but this is Yukari. But if then that's the case, why would she-"

"Uh, Patchy?"

The mage glanced at you and shook her head. "Never mind."

Having dried herself off, Akyuu glanced over. "Have you figured something out?"

"Just an idea," she said guardedly. "It would explain some of Yukari's actions, but I need to think it over first."

Akyuu looked disappointed at that, but you were quietly relieved. With how antagonistic you were with Yukari, that indicated that Patchouli was at least a little suspicious of Akyuu. It'd make things easier. "Do you think Tamamo's someone who needs to be stopped?"

"It's uncertain," Patchouli said slowly. "If she's still like Akyuu described, then yes, but a lot of Gensokyo's youkai were once just as bloodthirsty. Even the friendlier ones, such as the Moriya Shrine, have their darker side. It depends on how different the Ran of today is from the Tamamo of old. "

"But that difference is entirely due to Yukari's control!" Akyuu insisted.

Patchouli glanced at you with a wry smile. "People change. Why can't youkai?"

You weren't expecting Patchouli to repeat your sentiment. Not this soon, and not in this context. If anything, it felt like she was softly defending the kitsune... perhaps whatever prior knowledge Patchouli had of her wasn't all bad? But then why the initial reaction? You were pretty sure you'd missed something, but you could always ask about it later.

For now the mage continued on. "Still, on the whole, this is likely good news."

"How so?" Akyuu asked, looking troubled.

The mage smiled. "Sakuya's already looking to have a conversation with Ran. Whatever schemes she's involved in, we'll soon find out."

Akyuu nodded, biting her lip. "Hopefully."

There was a moment of silence at that, and you utilized it to change the subject. "If we're done with Ran's stuff, can we get back to Keine?"

"Agreed," Patchouli said. "Important as this might be, we've strayed from the point."

Akyuu sighed. "It's the least I can do after you heard me out. What do you want to know?"

"Well, I was thinking..." you paused for effect, "Patchouli, you brought the Gensokyo Chronicle, right? The volume we used to figure things out?"

"Yes?" she asked, pulling out the tome.

"With all the confusion going on, I thought we should double-check all our information! Sorry to be a bother Akyuu, but could you recite Keine's article real quick?" you asked, smiling innocently.

She covered it well, but you were looking for it, so you saw the flinch, and your smile got just a bit wider. Got her. Akyuu brushed her hair back. "If I'm doing this, do you want the official copy of the chronicle to compare as well?"

The question was addressed to Patchouli, and you silently willed her to say no, don't give her a chance to pull anything- "This should be fine. If your recollection matches my copy, we'll know neither has been tampered with."

"Fine then." Akyuu closed her eyes, affecting a look of intense concentration. "Keine Kamishirawa. Ability, power to consume history in human form, power to create history in beast form. Danger level is low, human friendship level is high."

She'd started a bit before Patchouli was properly ready, so the mage hurriedly paged through the book to Keine's entry.

"Main activity area is the human village." Akyuu cleared her throat. "Keine Kamishirawa is a therianthrope, a were-hakutaku with the ability to manipulate history."

Patchouli looked up. "That's not-" and started coughing.

"Patchy?"

"She'll be fine," Akyuu said. "She just shouldn't have drank so many leaves."

You glance down at your teacup, and while it's still full, the contents have changed. Leaves. Not tea leaves, plain old tree leaves.

"Since you called me on it, I suppose I should cut to the chase," not-Akyuu said, flying into the air. "You'll have to tell me how you remembered, later."

[Humans are Nice!]

[-] To be continued.
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The tea brewing in this story just progressively gets worse and worse. From a pleasant time with crumpets, to a tense confrontation, to a hostage situation with a brew of assorted herbs to foliage chucked in hot water. What's next?
No wonder Yukari started drinking coffee.

And Patchy just chugged down disguised leaves. Didn't she remark that the tea tasted well? Does the transformation of leaves affect their taste... or is she just a glutton who doesn't actually savour their tea? Maybe she lost her sense of taste due to magical experiments with poisonous substances?
Remilia, if she were of sound mind, would laugh and cry at the lack of sophistication of one of her own.

Anyway, things are ramping up in the village!
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Something tells me that Patchouli just joined team Ranmama

Of course now she has a buncha leaves in her stomach so shes a touch busy.
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Uh oh. Humans are Nice! is Mamizou's spell alright... from impossible Spell Card. Greg's gonna have to hope his durability has gone up, otherwise this is gonna leave him looking like the glass bones guy from SpongeBob.

Speaking of leaves though, what's the over/under on Patchouli having an asthma attack from the funny tea?
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>Greg's gonna have to hope his durability has gone up, otherwise this is gonna leave him looking like the glass bones guy from SpongeBob.
I think we just hope we get our handcuff-style alarm system disabled in time to haul patchy + invis out
don't do DIY artillery inside a building kids
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That's the optimal play, but I don't think she'll manage to do that while she's still coughing up a canopy. She might pull herself together in time to avoid getting jumped by Ichirin/Futo/Keine/whoever else is nearby though.
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oh THAT'S a Spellcard! I did not realize what Humans are nice was about!

also Mamizou, did you really just blow up Akyuu's mansion? come on, I can really see even at this point (especially having taken a glance at Mami's profile on the touhou wiki.) Akyuu willingly letting you stand in, but if you blow her mansion apart that might not remain the case!

also, pretty sure the assistant is another Tanuki.

>>208482 I don't think it would be an asthma attack, I'd see it more like she's suddenly trying not to vomit from her stomach suddenly having a far different material in her stomach than had been there before, especially since it would be something all that digestible. it should be blocking her windpipe, especially since she had a couple of seconds while looking throught the chronicle where she wasn't drinking.

whelp, its an Spellcard from ISC, but taking a look at it, doesn't look like a really ridiculous one like some of the other spellcards from the game are.
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>>208500 I was thinking that the leaves might be slightly toxic, and the stress on her being(mildly) poisoned could cause an attack. Not a doctor though, so I'm not really sure of what would cause asthma attack.

Also, I know this isn't a voting chapter, so feel free to ignore this but

[X] toss a teacup at the fake Akyuu
I think it would be funny. And fit the guy who shone a light in Marisa's eyes just cuz he could.
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[Basic Projectile: Teacup Toss]
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>>208516
>>208517
We may not have the best martial artist on hand, but we do have fine china!
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I know we probably aren't going to have votes which I'm fine with, but I can't resist
[X] Ask Mamizou "Can't we just settle this over a pint?"
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hey, does Patchouli still have the mini-Hakkero? she might be able to surprise Mami with it even through her coughing, , would be rather interesting for the magician to steal a spellcard back from Marisa, though I realize it probably wouldn't work in reverse, still would be funny to have a sudden Master Spark (might even help in the follow up of "who blew up Akyuu's mansion" by blaming Marisa. XD )
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Perhaps the same could be said about all religions
Everyone's already mentioning what they want Greg to do in a hypothetical vote so I'm gonna throw in my own harebrainchild: Since Greg's overcharged on magic thanks to absorbing Keine's veil/illusion, going for a gambit and telling Patchouli to unseal us (as in Koakuma), then proceeding to throw illusion magic around at abandon showing some sort of nighmarishly demonic, constantly shifting "true form" of the 'Little Devil' while making for a getaway with the magicican, and probably leaving the tanuki traumatised.
Not that I think things will unfold in a way that this is actually feasible.

>>208517
And not to forget the Phantasm Version
[Miserable Secret: What is a man?]
(Frankly quite fitting for Greg)
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...huh, a little off topic, but I was looking back on the older threads... Mary is Shanghai. that's the non-koishi personality that Sumi ran into while interacting with the doll in the crate.

and also building on my post of >>208525.

Rather than Master Spark, which despite having the Mini-Hakkero Patchouli might not manage to use due to some sort of spell card rule or other, there is also non-directional laser which as it is originally her spell, Patchouli can cast too, and hey, it counts as a bomb right? [Humans are nice!] might not be as ridiculous as some of ISC's other cards, but having a surprise bomb that Patchouli might be able to use even as potentially compromised as she is thanks to the mini-hakkero (I think... she's a 18 INT wizard, she can probably figure out how to hijack and still fuelled magical foci.) would be helpful.
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Boomed
Patchouli: [Love Sign: Non-directional Laser!]
Greg, standing right next to her:

But more seriously, a bomb would probably clear up a wave or two of that SC. Which might give those two enough time to veil up and run. With Greg's luck though, I half expect IDK, Kagerou to show up and invalidate his veil up smelling his location.

I'd say stealing Marisa's hakkero was pretty messed up considering she got it from her uncle/brother figure but team SDM has been full ends-justify-the-means in this story, so that's kind of a moot point.
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