Deep in the Magic Forest, Reimu's army started their advance. Before they could get very far, a group led by a certain familiar figure stood in their way. It was Alice Margatroid, the dollmaster.
Marisa: There ya are.
Reimu: Yep. Better knock on some wood.
Alice: Hmph, how rude. I'm not a ghost, you know.
Alice herself had skin so smooth and pale, that she seemed like a doll herself. With the right amount of light, she could have easily been mistaken for a ghost.
It'd have been better if it was a ghost anyway, they're easier 'ta deal with.
...That's not important anyway. These dolls shall be given life via my fingers...And you shall have a taste of the power they possess.
With a swift movement of the fingers, the group of dolls began to stir. Facing an army like this was certainly a new experience for Reimu's army.
Marisa, you will get an especially long lesson from them.
Hah, ya think the great Marisa Kirisame would ever lose to a buncha dolls? I'll blow 'em all away with my magic.
...You call what you do magic? Your haphazard attitude to the art always rubbed me the wrong way...and I'll take this chance to show you just how much!
I'll tie that line up with a ribbon and send it right back atcha!
Unfortunately for Reimu, the two of them were in their own world, and nothing an outsider could say would snap them out of it.
With the rest of our army set on development and recruitment for these turns, our five best fighters launch the assault on the Magic Forest Interior. At first, we are met by Shanghai and a squad of other dolls.
This was not too difficult of a battle, as expected. Good thing too, because it was going to get a lot harder from here on out, and we want as large of a margin of victory at the beginning to make the later battles less worrisome.
At our next skirmish, Alice Margatroid finally stepped in to handle things herself. While her dolls could fight independently of her, once they stood besides their master and creator, they took on a whole new life and gave us a serious fight.
BGM: Doll Judgment ~ Sengoku Arr. ~
Fighting four powered-up dolls, including both Shanghai and Hourai, on top of the Alice is no small task. They stand a very good chance of wiping the floor with us if we approach this haphazardly. However, I fought her on a Hard mode run just two days ago, so the strategies for this were fresh in my mind.
In the first battle, our faster ranged attackers like Marisa started by critically damaging Shanghai, baiting Hourai into casting Artful Sacrifice to heal her back up. The gambit worked, and Hourai wasted her spell too early, taking her out of the battle. Now that it was four against five, we stood a much better chance, and managed to take out all the dolls. Alice, though, was nigh unassailable, and was left alone during the fight.
Our last battle was a lot closer, though. This time Hourai wouldn't take the bait, and spent her turns attacking rather than healing. We lose Izou early, but manage to take down Shanghai quickly as well. Alice thankfully spent most of her turns attacking Marisa, who can resist long-range attacks easily, so her enormous attack power was wasted somewhat.
Wriggle's poison was actually of great significance in this fight, taking over 40 HP from its victims with each passing turn. We suffered heavy damage, as both Reimu and Marisa came close to death during the fight. However, the poison damage was enough to bring down the dolls, leaving only Alice standing in the end.
BGM: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Alice: Ooh...How could this be...
The dolls were vanquished, and Alice fell to her knees, defeated. Reimu and Marisa stood proudly in front of her.
Reimu: Too bad for you, but we're the winners.
Marisa: Yep yep.
Losing to Reimu is fine, but to YOU of all people...
Alice looked up with a glare at Marisa as she grumbled. Her eyes were not filled with hatred, nor with resentment. They displayed a mixture of several different, conflicting emotions.
Hoo boy...Guess you really hate me, huh?
...It's not about hatred. It's more about...regret.
Alice turned her eyes away from the two as she spoke. The sound of her words as she spoke seemed to indicate a different reason that she refused to say out loud.
After all, if I've lost to you, what does that make me after all this while?
...Y'know, why do you let it affect you so much? You're you, and I'm me. Ain't that fine the way it is?
That attitude of yours is so vexing!
Reimu had no clue what was going on, but she could sense a storm brewing at least. She tried to get in between and mediate...but it had the opposite effect.
C'mon, stop it you two. You're both magicians after all, you should learn to get along bet...
We ain't the same.
We're not the same at all!
Wha...Wait a second, what do you mean?
...Marisa and I may be magicians...but we're different.
Yeah. Cuz I'm a "human" magician.
...What's that supposed to mean?
There are two types of magicians. One type are "true" magicians, those who were magicians from birth. The other type is...
A human who becomes a magician...like her.
It was the first Reimu had heard of it. Or more accurately, she never delved too deep into the subject...so she thought everyone who used magic were considered magicians.
That's why it's so annoying. You practice magic, you live in this Magic Forest, you even call yourself a magician, yet you still choose to remain a human.
I use magic, so I'm a magician. Ain't that good enough? Magic only has meaning if I, or anyone, makes use of it. That's what I think.
Hmph, you're just trying to hide your fear. You weren't prepared to bet it all on magic, so you went on the path of a human...or do you deny it?
Yeah, I do. I was born a human, so I'll find worth in life as a human. Magic's only a way to make people's lives easier, that's all. A means ain't the same as an objective. Magic ain't somethin' ya throw away your humanity for!
...Alice's hand flew through the air. It landed on Marisa's cheek, then remained in the air as Alice turned away. Marisa's head turned sideways from the force of the blow, and remained completely still.
...I've lost to you all. So I'm your prisoner now, yes? I'll leave the administrative things to you.
I'll be leaving then. I want to be alone for a while.
Alice then left wordlessly, walking deeper into the forest and towards her house. Marisa still had not moved an inch.
She's...such an idiot. But...I'm an even bigger idiot.
Marisa may not have meant it the way it sounded, but the impact of the words she carelessly spoke to Alice made her regret it immediately after. Reimu no longer knew what to say to them anymore.
Alice Margatroid was taken prisoner.
Shanghai Doll was taken prisoner.
Hourai Doll was taken prisoner.
String Doll became an ally.
The Road of Reconsideration. A lonely place, filled with amaryllis in full bloom. Humans, youkai, and even ghosts and spirits were rarely seen. And that was where Gensokyo's shinigami, Komachi Onozuka, stood. As the Sanzu River's ferrier, her job was to ferry spirits over to Higan. However, despite the constant presence of spirits in Gensokyo, she loved to take habitual breaks during times of heavy traffic.
Komachi: Whe-ew, it's good to take a breather every so often. After all it's so busy that I've barely been handling it. The atmosphere here is different at least.
So, she definitely wasn't slacking off...Although the way she acted definitely made it look like such. She was a master at relaxing, whether it was deserved or not.
It's quiet, but this silence is kinda deafening. Maybe I'll go to the Road Liminality, it's always bustling there. I wonder what shops are open today?
Whenever she was relaxing or doing things she enjoys, the thought of work completely disappeared from her mind. Just as she started heading for busier places, a voice called out to her from behind.
???: Lady Komachi~!
Ack! No no, you've got it wrong, I'm not slacking off...Hm?
She quickly turned around while blabbering only to find that the voice was not that of her superior, but a fluffy little ghost. She quickly dropped her guard.
Yeesh, don't scare me like that...Anyway, what did you call me for?
Ghost: Ah, yes. The Yama is calling for you, Lady Komachi. She wants you to see her immediately.
Gah...You're one of Lady Shiki's helpers? You're not gonna tell her about this, are you?
Er, I wasn't planning to...
Whew, okay. I wonder what she wants so suddenly though...A scolding, maybe...? If she's calling me to see her, then she must be angry...
Anyway, I've delivered the message...Oh, right. The Yama is waiting for you at Muenzuka.
Ehh, really? This is getting more and more mysterious.
It would be entirely normal for Eiki to be mad at her always leaving her post, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something different was afoot. She followed after the returning ghost, deep in thought.
...Muenzuka. A place surrounded by purple cherry blossom trees, created to release the deceased from their mindless wanderings. The purple cherry blossoms were flowing like tears from the trees. And standing beneath them...the Yama, Yamaxanadu Eiki Shiki awaited Komachi.
Eiki: Thank you for coming here, Komachi.
Komachi: It's no problem, but I was told to hurry here...what's the occasion?
Before I explain...You were slacking off again, were you not?
Ooh...N-No, I was just...
According to my helper, you were not present at the Sanzu River. Being away from your post of duty surely means you were slacking off.
That ghost and its big mouth...
Did you say something?
No, not at all. There are more important things to talk about anyway. If you came all the way here, that must mean that something major has occurred.
Take a look at this.
Eiki handed over a sealed envelope to Komachi. It was the same kind of envelope that Yukari had been distributing to all over Gensokyo. The actual contents of the letter, however, were remarkably different.
Whoa, a love letter? Ahaha, you sure have good taste, Lady Shiki!
Why would you think that this is a love letter?
Well, you asked to meet with me, and at this location...under a legendary tree...
...You appear to require an extremely harsh lecture.
Aww, I'm just kidding! Hmm...
The letter, while appropriately polite and detailed, was completely different from the others besides the opening "Dear so-and-so". Komachi finished reading the letter, then looked up at Eiki.
I see...What're you going to do?
I shall participate.
Eiki's declaration made Komachi yelp out in shock.
Did I say something that was particularly surprising?
Er, well, it's just that...Hearing you wanting to participate in this kind of event is...not what I expected.
Perhaps you may be mistaken, but I will not be participating for the sake of playing.
What are you joining it for, then?
The winner will have any wish they have granted. So I will be able to make the others listen to what I have to say. Honestly, all I am doing is trying to prevent them from going to hell...Yet everyone always looks so unpleasent when I visit.
No one really likes to hear a lecture about what they're doing wrong, I think.
Closing one's ears to lecturing is a problem in itself. I shall take a temporary pause from my work to engage in a tour of Yama service.
Geez, you're really passionate about your work.
It is more appropriate to say that you are halfhearted about yours. Anyway, I shall be counting on you as well.
Ehh? I'll be joining in too?
Of course. You are my subordinate after all. Or do you have any objections?
No no, not at all, I'll be happy to.
...You are thinking of the ability to slack off on your main work right now, are you not?
I-I'm not thinking about that, really!
Would you like to say that again in front of my Cleansed Crystal Mirror? ...I shall overlook that for now. Do make sure you continue your ferrying properly.
Ehhh!? I can't do both things at the same time, I only have one body!
I have given you an order! You usually spend most of your time playing around anyway, so do shape up and work hard for once.
And so, the Highest Judge of Paradise, Yamaxanadu Eiki Shiki and the helmswoman of the Sanzu River, Komachi Onozuka formed a new army.
"Higan Guard" has been formed.
Road of Reconsideration placed under control of the Higan Guard.
Muenzuka placed under control of the Higan Guard.
Marisa: Alright, it's been a long time, but the Kirisame Magic Shop's finally openin' its doors once again! Whaddaya need? Payment first, of course.
Reimu: There isn't really anything I want.
Don't be so hasty, at least take a look, won't ya? Nothin' to lose there. There's lots of things 'round here that'll make battles a whole lot easier.
Then just hand it over.
Oh c'mon, it wasn't easy to gather all this stuff. I ran 'round here and there, takin' whatever I could find...
Sure sounds like it was.
Sorry, but I gotta levy some labour costs, ya know? Anyway, if ya have time, come take a look.
Actions Available: 2
Cost to Develop: 24 RES
Cost to Develop: 18 RES
Faintly Dark Path
Cost to Develop: 21 RES
Magic Forest Entrance
Cost to Develop: 12 RES
Magic Forest Border
Cost to Develop: 12 RES
Magic Forest Interior
cost to Develop: 9 RES
Army: Human Village Corps
General: Keine Kamishirasawa (leader)
Road of Reconsideration
Army: Higan Guard
General: Komachi Onozuka
Army: Higan Guard
General: Shikieiki Yamaxanadu (leader)
Special Events Available:
Declare War: Human Village Corps
9 NEG is required to declare war.
Declare War: Higan Guard
10 NEG is required to declare war.
Alice - Excellent stats with no major weaknesses, great ability if fighting alongside dolls.
Special: Doll Manipulation, increases the stats of doll allies.
6 NEG is required for recruitment. (Partial recruitment completed.)
Shanghai - Great melee stats, but poor at far range.
Special: Dolls War, a special melee attack that does good damage and may lower the target's speed.
9 NEG is required for recruitment.
Hourai - Average stats, but has a powerful 1-shot healing spell.
Special: Artful Sacrifice, restores a large amount of HP to all allies in exchange for most of the user's HP and remaining turns. Amount healed depends on current HP.
9 NEG is required for recruitment.
Each item for sale right now is an equipment that raises a particular stat by 1 point (3 points in the case of the Talisman). Only one of each item is currently in stock. Purchasing something will cost us 1 action, but you can purchase as many items as you wish with that 1 action.
I will update this section whenever new stock arrives (usually after defeating another army).
We've got lots of options now. Both the Human Village and the Higan Guard are currently neutral with us, so we can choose which one to attack first. We can also sit tight for a while if you think we should take the reprieve to develop territories, purchase items, and recruit prisoners.
One more thing to keep in mind: in battle, Characters can get stat bonuses or penalties (represented by the blue and orange arrows) when working with or fighting against certain other characters. Right now, Marisa and Alice have some negative feelings between them, so using them together in battle will weaken the both of them. Just a warning. There is an optional event later on in the game that can fix this, though.
It's something to keep in mind in general, as almost everyone has characters they'd rather work with and ones they can't stand. I try to take it into consideration when picking who to use, but I don't always mind it.