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    Default Touhou - Revolution in Retrospect (IC)


    The Hakurei Shrine, a dilapidated shrine far away from the Human Village.
    It's always bustling with non-human activity, as if it had become some kind of shelter for itinerant youkai.
    Naturally, humans don't visit a shrine with so many youkai.

    Normally, these tales have a way of starting in this remote, out of the way location.

    "Ah, what a bother," one would say. The weather was too cold. Or it was too misty. Or spirits were flying about everywhere.
    And then the shrine maiden would set forth on a journey, and the incident would be resolved.

    But this time... no such thing appears to be happening.

    Gensokyo is on a pivotal course for Change.

    It's more visible in some households over others, of course. "Change is not something that happens overnight," some wise sage once said.
    But in this case, the seeds that inspired that change could really have been said to come in the blink of an eye.

    Something is stirring in the air...


    Marisa, The Oriental Western Magician

    Seven Days Ago

    It was supposed to be a visit like any other day. "Oi~ Reimu~ I've come to play~" had become words that have become the daily norm for life in the shrine.

    "Oh, Marisa," spoke Reimu. She seemed unusually reticient and distracted. "I'm really sorry, but," her tone was a little clipped and rushed as she moved from one end of her shrine to another as if preparing for spring cleaning. "I'm rather busy cleaning right now. Could you please come back later?"


    She didn't seem to take 'no' for an answer, as if someone expecting a really important guest and could not spare even the time of day for a friend. She was obsessively digging through scrolls that had mounds of dust piled up high like it'd become a national treasure in some warehouse of hers. It was probably not that unusual for this kind of behaviour to pop up for the shrine maiden who goes at her own pace. But it was unusual, in hindsight, that the shrine maiden would tell such a bold-faced lie. She was a really bad liar.

    Something is afoot. And the best way to stir trouble up is to find her (unwitting) partner in crime...

    Alice, the Seven-Coloured Puppeteer

    "Shan- Hai-"

    The little doll pirouettes and did a resplendent curtsey, with mechanical precision. Behind her, five Hourai dolls followed suit and do a synchronised routine to back up their lead dancer. It just wasn't enough, was it? No matter how refined their movements, no matter how lifelike their gestures and transitions are... it was still missing something. Something integral.

    "It'd be difficult for you to imitate life without a soul," said the shrine maiden on one of her rare visits. Back then, it just sounded like the casual comment of an observer who didn't truly understand the fine crafts of dollmaking.

    Perhaps it was time to change tracks. The weather was fine, it certainly seems like it'd be a perfectly fine day for some other activity. A peaceful, quiet poring of tomes lent from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, with a cup of tea--

    --oh, no, nevermind. There was the ominous shadow of the black-white. What in Gensokyo could she possibly want?

    Meiling, the Colourful Rainbow Gatekeeper

    Speaking of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, the Misty Lake-side manor was in a bit of an uproar.

    It started with a midnight explosion that erupted through the lady's garden -- carefully maintained and kept by Meiling. An enormous upheaval of earth followed by a storm of colourful energies that could only have belonged to one such destructive, yet innocent individual.

    By the time everyone got together to form a response, Flandre Scarlet was gone. The seals that had been placed in the basement were all shredded. She left a cryptic note on her bedstand in plain view:

    'It's my fault. I have to take responsibility.
    Please don't come looking, onee-sama.
    '

    Nothing like this had ever happened before, and certainly not in 495 years of imprisonment. The first thing Remilia Scarlet wanted to do, of course, was to come looking. But it'd become apparent that there was too much to do, too much to organise behind the walls of the Mansion itself. So the task of searching for the Young Mistress fell on their chief representative to the outside... ah...

    ...

    Actually, the Head Maid hadn't returned from her trip to the Human Village either.

    "Meiling, go and find Sakuya and explain to her what happened," ordered the Mistress.

    Ah... such an unglamorous job... but at least the Village is nearby. It shouldn't be a problem to find Sakuya at one of the shops and then return and hopefully guard the ailing mansion, right? Hmm... it says here on the note that one of Sakuya's first stops was to purchase charcoal for fuel for the manor.

    Mokou, the Figure of the Person of Hourai

    "Mokou? Mokou, are you in there?"

    It didn't take long for Keine's two-toned blue hair to peek through the door and into the living room. She looked a bit pensive and worried... which, well, would describe many of her moods regarding any problem big or small in the village, actually. But there seemed to be something else in her tone and her body language.

    "Would you be able to do me a favour?" she asked, while folding up some towels and laundry. "I was wondering if you could head up to the Hakurei Shrine and check up on Reimu for me."

    Ah... that curious human that Mokou encountered, at around the time of the Imperishable Night incident. Since the end of the incident, she's been a customer time and time again -- mostly for charcoal, which she seems to need a fair number of given how high up and far away she lives away from the village. She has a curious personality. On the one hand, she professes to be a balancer between humans and youkai, here to exterminate troublemakers and resolve incidents. On the other... her reluctance to fight the night they met seems to run at odds to it.

    It's like someone who just can't be honest with themselves.

    "To be quite honest with you... I'm concerned," Keine expressed. "Reimu came to the house a couple of days ago..." A pause. "Well, to be direct, she asked me if I could help her with my power. I didn't really know what to tell her, but when I started to ask what she meant, she got flustered and ran off."

    She shook her head gently. But before she could speak any further, there was a knock on the door.

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    Default Re: Touhou - Revolution in Retrospect (IC)

    Mokou had been laying sprawled out on the floor. Even an immortal got bored some of the time, and this was such a time. Upon Keine's entry, the immortal maiden quickly rolled herself into an upright position and tried patting down her hair to try and look a bit presentable. She listened very attentively as Keine spoke, waiting until she was finished, but the door's interruption was a good enough point to speak for her. Getting up, Mokou started for the door.

    "If it's important enough for you to come out to my place, it needs to be done. I'll go check on her for you as soon as I can." Mokou took her time as she walked to the door, sliding it wide open once she reached it.
    Lovely Mokou avatar by Kurien.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merilan View Post
    Marisa, The Oriental Western Magician
    Seven Days Ago

    It was supposed to be a visit like any other day. "Oi~ Reimu~ I've come to play~" had become words that have become the daily norm for life in the shrine.

    "Oh, Marisa," spoke Reimu. She seemed unusually reticient and distracted. "I'm really sorry, but," her tone was a little clipped and rushed as she moved from one end of her shrine to another as if preparing for spring cleaning. "I'm rather busy cleaning right now. Could you please come back later?"


    She didn't seem to take 'no' for an answer, as if someone expecting a really important guest and could not spare even the time of day for a friend. She was obsessively digging through scrolls that had mounds of dust piled up high like it'd become a national treasure in some warehouse of hers. It was probably not that unusual for this kind of behaviour to pop up for the shrine maiden who goes at her own pace. But it was unusual, in hindsight, that the shrine maiden would tell such a bold-faced lie. She was a really bad liar.

    Something is afoot. And the best way to stir trouble up is to find her (unwitting) partner in crime...
    Investigation Commences!

    The wind had long ceased to really be an issue for the black-white magician, flitting to and fro Gensokyo as she pleased. Never once now did it force her eyes shut or blow her hat from her head, it was little more than a buffeting tunnel that served to remind Marisa that until it knocked her clean off that broom, she could always stand to go a little faster. And the journey across the Forest of Magic, that glimmering expanse of jade verdant, was never a long one to begin with. She could fly to Alice's house in her sleep, if she wanted, and may have actually done on at least one occasion.

    But that's neither here, nor there. Maybe Alice figured out that a visitor was on the way well before the knock at her door; clued in by the approaching sound of something high in the sky and... and deafeningly loud! Teacups, picture-frames and windows rattle as something like a long, drawn-out thunderclap with a healthy dose of Doppler effect roils past overhead. No onomatopoeia can do justice to the sound of a hakkero flyby, but the unnatural boom above Alice's house could only, in general belong to one jerkwad inconsiderate enough to scream past at her high-velocity best.

    That ought to give the poor seamstress plenty of time to think of something to say. It's a good minute or so by the time Marisa finishes touching down, tosses her broom to one side and marches on up to the door to thump on it with her knuckles. "Hey. Hey! Alice! Open up, c'mon, it's me!"

    Yes, of course it is. Who else could it be?
    Last edited by Luceid; 2016-04-10 at 08:14 AM.

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    The little doll pirouettes and did a resplendent curtsey, with mechanical precision. Behind her, five Hourai dolls followed suit and do a synchronised routine to back up their lead dancer. It just wasn't enough, was it? No matter how refined their movements, no matter how lifelike their gestures and transitions are... it was still missing something. Something integral.
    Well... that was that, Alice supposed, watching the dolls' routine spin to a finale and halt. She hadn't needed to lift her hands from her lap throughout the performance - even the simplest of her dolls were able to recall and perform strings of actions these days - but she did so now, if only to applaud as the dolls did a simultaneous curtsey and then scattered to their usual tasks. It seemed the right thing to do, to at least allow a moment's pointless courtesy before she sagged back into her chair with a sigh.

    Dissatisfaction wasn't new to her - she had the occasional bad day just like anyone else, after all - but normally she could find a way to turn it into an excuse to study or tinker. Even then, her dolls were a precious, important thing, and she couldn't even begin to remember a time she'd ever been upset at them before... and yet, here she was, feeling almost betrayed as she glanced at the scattered and half-formed notes that covered her desk in unusually haphazard piles.

    "Aah..." the Magician finally sighs again, holding out a hand to allow Shanghai to lower daintily onto it as the other rubs lightly at her forehead. Her smile is rather rueful when it forms, knowing that the doll can't give any kind of answer to the question: "Really... whatever is wrong with me, I wonder? Though I suppose it's not like I know, either..." A sigh. Nothing for it, it seemed, but to take a break. "Shanghai, would you please fly to the Mansion and let them know I'm coming--"

    Teacups, picture-frames and windows rattle as something like a long, drawn-out thunderclap with a healthy dose of Doppler effect roils past overhead. No onomatopoeia can do justice to the sound of a hakkero flyby, but the unnatural boom above Alice's house could only, in general belong to one jerkwad inconsiderate enough to scream past at her high-velocity best.
    Suddenly, Alice's cottage is swarming into life around her, most of her dolls uwawawa-ing their way to steady ornaments, to catch cups, to... in one particularly vain case, immediately touch down on her desk to act as a paperweight. Shanghai lifts off from her hand the next moment, a patrol of her house (and a quick inventory) an automatic reaction to Marisa's arrival, leaving the now-scowling Magician to get to her feet and pace towards her front door, a little too frazzled to deal with the visit. "I don't want anything," is her initial statement, delivered deadpan through a crack in the door and with a glum look.
    Last edited by Stelas; 2016-04-10 at 06:49 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stelas View Post
    Well... that was that, Alice supposed, watching the dolls' routine spin to a finale and halt. She hadn't needed to lift her hands from her lap throughout the performance - even the simplest of her dolls were able to recall and perform strings of actions these days - but she did so now, if only to applaud as the dolls did a simultaneous curtsey and then scattered to their usual tasks. It seemed the right thing to do, to at least allow a moment's pointless courtesy before she sagged back into her chair with a sigh.

    Dissatisfaction wasn't new to her - she had the occasional bad day just like anyone else, after all - but normally she could find a way to turn it into an excuse to study or tinker. Even then, her dolls were a precious, important thing, and she couldn't even begin to remember a time she'd ever been upset at them before... and yet, here she was, feeling almost betrayed as she glanced at the scattered and half-formed notes that covered her desk in unusually haphazard piles.

    "Aah..." the Magician finally sighs again, holding out a hand to allow Shanghai to lower daintily onto it as the other rubs lightly at her forehead. Her smile is rather rueful when it forms, knowing that the doll can't give any kind of answer to the question: "Really... whatever is wrong with me, I wonder? Though I suppose it's not like I know, either..." A sigh. Nothing for it, it seemed, but to take a break. "Shanghai, would you please fly to the Mansion and let them know I'm coming--"


    Suddenly, Alice's cottage is swarming into life around her, most of her dolls uwawawa-ing their way to steady ornaments, to catch cups, to... in one particularly vain case, immediately touch down on her desk to act as a paperweight. Shanghai lifts off from her hand the next moment, a patrol of her house (and a quick inventory) an automatic reaction to Marisa's arrival, leaving the now-scowling Magician to get to her feet and pace towards her front door, a little too frazzled to deal with the visit. "I don't want anything," is her initial statement, delivered deadpan through a crack in the door and with a glum look.
    The door to Alice's cute little cottage creaks open, and the outside world looks about as one could expect. The sky is blue, the sun is filtering through the trees in hazy little beams of pale gold, and a black dress is otherwise in the way of everything else. But more important than that is what it's wearer is holding. The only newspaper in Gensokyo is folded in half and all but being held before Alice's face. This is evidently pretty important.

    "Jeez, that's no way to greet your biggest fan." the magician barely misses a beat, her finger pointing to the headline before the more glum and shorter-haired of the two can retreat back into her home. "I never read this thing, either! But... uh..."

    Hakurei Shrine Maiden Missing!
    It's probably pretty tricky not to get an eyeful of the headline. It's probably tricker still not to get a little concerned about it, given how off-centre everything feels lately. After all, that's why this collector of fine hats is here.

    Maybe around this time, providing the door hasn't shut already, Marisa's begun to notice that the usual frustrated light doesn't seem to be as brightly prominent in Alice's eyes as usual. Her refusals usually involve an open door and a lot of animated pointing, this is a new twist on an old tale that she's not entirely used to. After all, nobody shuts her out! So, after letting a silence fill the air, holding that newspaper up all the while...

    "Hey, somethin' up? Can I come in?"
    Last edited by Luceid; 2016-04-10 at 08:16 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luceid View Post
    "Hey, somethin' up? Can I come in?"
    "Ah..." the dollmaster's eyebrows jump slightly upwards in a mild surprise; first because there's a newspaper thrust into her face, her eyes trying to focus automatically on the text, and second because the lowercase-m-magician is calling her out on her sulk. Automatically, her arms fold. "... I don't want a fan who tries to break all the plates in my house every time she visits!" she retorts the next moment with a huff of breath, before opening the door more fully to step out and immediately snag the newspaper in one hand without even asking for it. Carefully, because she is exactly the sort of person who will painstakingly make sure a fold isn't crinkled, she starts to scan the front page.

    "Besides, it's fine. I'm fine," she repeats, trying not to think of it as reminding herself; it takes her a beat to build up to it, but another huff of air signals her next statement. "I'm just having some bad luck with my research today. More importantly, isn't this just Reimu going at her own pace?" She's apparently not done with her grump just yet, because that's exactly how the question is delivered - but it's impossible to miss the furrow in her brow as she quickly reads down the tengu's column. She's not that stupid, after all.

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    Earlier...

    Meiling was the first to arrive when the explosion rocked her garden, the destruction of a noticeable section naturally leaving her in despair; not only was that her pride and joy uprooted and scattered, but the one night she got to sleep instead of watching the door for an evening, and something like this happened! Remilia was never going to let her take a night shift off, now. But, at the same time, Meiling couldn't be mad at the perpetrator, Lady Flandre. Especially when that note made her sound so upset. Meiling actually considered leaving her post to go find her distraught mistress...

    "Meiling, go and find Sakuya and explain to her what happened."

    Or...that...

    "R-Right away, ojou-sama! I'll find Miss Sakuya right away!"


    ...

    As the dirt crunched under her feet, Meiling sighed, and thought as she walked. Flandre outright said that she didn't want Remilia to look for her. Naturally, she probably wouldn't respond well to Sakuya approaching her and just telling her to come back. Still, what else was there to do but try; she loved Flandre, dearly, and she had seen her starting to grow into a fine young woman, ever since that shrine maiden and that black and white witch started visiting, but it was still dangerous for her to leave the mansion unattended. For both herself AND for...well, everyone else. Finding Sakuya was imperative...well, finding them BOTH was imperative, but, sequences.

    When she arrived at the charcoal seller's door, she took a bit of comfort in how quickly someone rose to respond to her knock. Very respectful to customers and visitors, Meiling could definitely respect that. As the door slid open and Moku presented herself, Meiling offered a gracious bow.

    "Good day. I'm looking for my friend; did Miss Sakuya stop by here for charcoal, today? There's been an incident, and we need her back at the Mansion, quickly."

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    Team Malice

    The newspaper article is quite short, written in the tengu's now-familiar exuberant style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shameimaru Aya
    As of late, a lot of us have become used to having sakura-viewing parties and elaborate festivities at the Hakurei Shrine. But as of the last few days, the shrine maiden hasn't been spotted at the shrine at all! Where could she have gone? Even when I have knocked, or called out to her time and time again, there is no answer.

    It's quite curious for such a reclusive, hermit-like shrine maiden to have an extended leave of absence. Ah, I theorise that she might have a boyfriend! Romance blooms with the coming change in the air! Or, perhaps, she's the secret ringleader of an illegal substances cartel...?! Oh, the humanities! What craven depths can this one shrine maiden get up to...?!

    But... it's also possible that she could be in trouble. I mean, that is a possibility. So, everyone, if you do spot our favourite red-white party hostess, please let your nearest responsible friendly tengu reporter know!
    Team Mokoling

    It's the... ... ... who's... who is she, again?

    (Meiling, I'm compelling Like Trying to Drown a Fish and saying that it's not likely for our favourite charcoal seller to remember... or possibly even have met you. Get a Fate Point!)
    (Mokou, you may roll Contacts to see if you've ever seen her or know someone who's ever talked about her before. On a +2 or better, you know an inkling of this seemingly forgettable person.)

    Regardless of who this lady might be, Mokou knows Sakuya far better -- she comes all the time to purchase charcoal for the manor by the side of the Misty Lake. Not to mention they've also met during the Imperishable Night incident. She seems to feel like something was unresolved there, though...

    However, she hasn't come in over a week. She certainly hasn't come today to pick up her usual allotment either -- it's still sitting outside in the relative cold.

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    Mokou looked the figure in front of her up and down. She could make out it was a Chinese woman, but who. After a moment it came to her...

    "Oh, you're Chun-Li, right? I don't think I've heard Sakuya-san talk about you, though... Shouldn't you be hunting down some guy in a red hat?" Mokou's voice was very sincere, totally mistaking the woman in front of her's identity. "Sorry but, I'm really not one to give out my customer's actions to strangers."
    Lovely Mokou avatar by Kurien.

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    "I..." Well, that genuine but completely wrong confusion, that was a first... Meiling sighed, and put a hand on her chest. "Oh, no, my name is Hong Meiling. I work with Miss Sakuya at the Scarlet Devil Mansion." Slipping a childish giggle, Meiling lifted one of her red braids, presenting it to Moku. "I styled her hair like this once, and we've been matching, ever since!" Irrelevant, really...

    Meiling lowered her hand back to her chest, clenching it into a fist, pulling at her top. "But, I'm serious. I understand if we're strangers, but Miss Sakuya and I are not. There's been an incident, and I need to know if she has been here. Lady Remilia needs her urgently, so, if she's been here lately, or if she said where she'd be..."
    Last edited by CecilHoshino; 2016-04-11 at 04:53 PM.

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    Mokou rubbed the back of her neck as she thought on what Meiling had said. "With those muscular thighs, I could have sworn you were..." The immortal girl reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, pulling one from the pack and turning to her first guest.

    "Hey, Keine, you talk with Sakuya-san sometimes, right? Has she mentioned anything about working with a Jam Kuradoberi?"
    Last edited by Mokou-tan; 2016-04-11 at 04:43 AM.
    Lovely Mokou avatar by Kurien.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stelas View Post
    "Ah... ... I don't want a fan who tries to break all the plates in my house every time she visits!"
    Paper-holding hand soon emptied and retreating to the brim of an enormous hat for comfort, Marisa's eyes dart down and up as she watches Alice yank the news from her and give it a cursory scan. And while insinuating she's reckless, to boot! "... hmm~m..." she regards the Magician with almost comical skepticism, mouth twisting up into a sly grin at one corner. By virtue of being cute, Marisa is saved from it being a smirk. "You break one teacup in a new pair of shoes, and never hear the end of it. But I forgive ya," and she's already on her way into the cottage. The battle was lost as soon as the door was opened.

    "If it was just Reimu bein' Reimu, it wouldn't be a problem. But... hmm~m..." another pause for thought riddles the magician's train of thought, as she paces around her short-haired friend. At least her shoes are clean--the self-styled witch doesn't do much walking in the dirt, these days. "When's the last time you saw her? I couldn't even get the time of day outta her last time I dropped by! You'd think she stole half the vampire munchkin's library, heftin' all these big scrolls to and fro..."

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    Team Mokoling

    Keine blinks and finally comes outside, adjusting her peculiar pagoda-hat on her head. "Oh, aren't you..." She pauses for a moment -- but squints gently. "Ah, that's right. You're the gardener from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, aren't you? I recall taking Akyuu for a trip there to record the flowers that'd been growing there." She nods to Mokou and says, "She's Sakuya-san's companion, that much I know."

    Her name, though...

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    Mokou gave a light shrug as she put the cigarette in her mouth, stepping a bit further outside. With a snap, the cigarette was ignited and she took a short puff, looking at the bag intended for Sakuya.

    "Well, Keine says you check out. I hate to break it to you, but the maid hasn't stopped by yet. My perception of time is a bit off, but I'd say she hasn't been around for at least a week. It's not like her to be late. Maybe she fell prey to one of the White Rabbit's pranks on the way here?"
    Lovely Mokou avatar by Kurien.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luceid View Post
    "When's the last time you saw her? I couldn't even get the time of day outta her last time I dropped by! You'd think she stole half the vampire munchkin's library, heftin' all these big scrolls to and fro..."
    Alice sighs ever so slightly as Marisa barges her way in, but the dollmaster is nothing if not used to the magician's behaviour. It's a very Gensokyo thing, after all, blustering into other people's houses. The western-styled cottage is as warm and homely as ever, thanks to Alice rather liking her own specific brand of comforts, provided you don't mind all the dolls pottering around and occasionally peering with simulated interest at the pair walking into her living room. With a wave of one hand, a couple of them peel off from their assigned tasks to get to the traditional pastime of making tea for two, as Alice sits down in a chair by the fire while still rereading the short article.

    "... this is a lot of words to say very little. I suppose that would have been-- the last time you dragged me there to see her," she replies evasively after the pause, a little in the way of dissatisfaction creeping into her voice. How long had that been, anyway? She'd had her head stuck in books for-- days now. A hand goes to her forehead again as she sighs in a familar put-upon manner, trying badly to mask how pleasant a visit she'd found it at the time. "She didn't seem any different from normal, but... scrolls? That sounds more like Akyuu's business than hers, I should think."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stelas View Post
    "... this is a lot of words to say very little. I suppose that would have been-- the last time you dragged me there to see her," she replies evasively after the pause, a little in the way of dissatisfaction creeping into her voice. How long had that been, anyway? She'd had her head stuck in books for-- days now. A hand goes to her forehead again as she sighs in a familar put-upon manner, trying badly to mask how pleasant a visit she'd found it at the time. "She didn't seem any different from normal, but... scrolls? That sounds more like Akyuu's business than hers, I should think."
    Unlike a usual visit to the neighbouring cottage in the forest, this time, Marisa refrains from immediately making herself at home in a chair with both feet on the table. She remains standing for the moment and glances askance; a tiny doll returns her gaze with wide-eyed wonder like it always does. "Yep, sure does." there's not even an attempt to twist Alice's idea into a goofy take on things, though the magician does remove her hat and briefly fan herself with it. "I mean--I figured it was some kinda miko thing she'd been putting off for ages and ages, but now she's just up and gone! If nothin' else, it's not like her to leave the shrine empty."

    Marisa also lazily scratches the back of one leg with the side of her shoe, while an adorable winged doll in the background dutifully stirs together a cup of tea. "And besides, where the heck could she even go? If she was just taking a trip somewhere, that sneaky Tengu would've sniffed it out."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mokou-tan View Post
    "I hate to break it to you, but the maid hasn't stopped by yet. My perception of time is a bit off, but I'd say she hasn't been around for at least a week. It's not like her to be late. Maybe she fell prey to one of the White Rabbit's pranks on the way here?"
    Now it was Meiling's turn to be confused. "White Rabbit...?" she repeats with a tilt of her head. "Aaah... Do you mean Miss Alice, the Magician?" It was a bit of a circuitous reference, but she remembered once telling Flandre the story of another Alice and her encounter with a white rabbit. Again, tangential...

    Meiling sighed, and scratched her cheek. "You're right, it's weird for her not to show up...this was to be her first stop, and she hasn't been gone from the mansion too long. She could've just gone to the village first, this time, but she's normally so particular about routine that skipping this week's charcoal pickup just seems off..." Many scenarios are now playing through Meiling's mind: was there actually a rabbit trap the maid slipped into? But she didn't see any on the way here, and it would be weird for Sakuya to spring one by accident. Or, did she already find Flandre? What if they ran into each other before Meiling left? Maybe she already took the young mistress home...but, Meiling couldn't dismiss the idea that their meeting "escalated." The Chinese girl let out a distressed huff, clenching harder to the fabric around her breast.

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    Keine gave it a bit of thought as well, a finger to her lip -- before frowning and being a little disrupted from her reverie. She snatches the cigarette from Mokou's hands to say, "Mokou, I thought you promised you wouldn't smoke."

    She looks to Meiling as she dabs the rolled tobacco up on the ground, saying, "I recall several of the shopkeepers in the village asking me if the maid from the mansion had been around, as well. So I'm sorry, I don't think your friend's been around..."

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    Mokou looked a bit surprised as her cigarette had been taken from her. She rubbed the back of her neck with a nervous chuckle.

    "Oh yeah, sorry... And no, I meant Tewi, not Alice. That rabbit's a real pain. Your friend's a tough lady, so I wouldn't worry too much. Anyway, I've got to make a trip up to the shrine." Mokou lightly tossed her pack of cigarettes to Meiling as she began her path towards the shrine. "Careful, they're nice, but bad for you."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luceid View Post
    Marisa also lazily scratches the back of one leg with the side of her shoe, while an adorable winged doll in the background dutifully stirs together a cup of tea. "And besides, where the heck could she even go? If she was just taking a trip somewhere, that sneaky Tengu would've sniffed it out."
    "... I suppose that's true..." the dollmistress sighs, offering the newspaper back with an uncertain shake of her head. Even if the shrine maiden had gone off to visit someone or look into an incident, it was usually possible to tell just from a cursory inspection; gossip of where she was and what she was doing - or who she was currently in a Spell Card battle with - was never exactly far behind. Of course, if Marisa wasn't throwing herself into a chair the moment she saw one, that could only mean one thing. Clues or not, the black-white magician obviously intended to race back out and search for anything she could find regardless, presumably dragging her along for the ride.

    "--but it's not like we have much in the way of leads to go on, if we want to look into it. Were you intending on just checking the shrine over?" Alice continues after a moment's thought, her tone a put-upon sort of sigh. On balance, she knew was probably easier to let herself be talked into going along; a check of the Hakurei shrine wouldn't exactly hurt anyone, and getting out of the house sounded... somewhat appealing after however her earlier train of thought.

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    Meiling yelped as she juggled the cigarettes tossed her way, before setting them down on the floor behind the door. "Hey, now, I don't smoke, either!" she insisted. She rose to her feet, and looked towards Keine. "So the villagers haven't seen her, either? That's...oh dear, how bizarre..."

    Mokou's mention of the shrine definitely caught Meiling's ear, though. "Shrine...ah, yes! Perhaps she made a stop towards the Hakurei Shrine! Lady Remilia often invites her over, so she's a friend of the manor..."

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    Keine follows behind the two not long after, carrying a bundle that she'd carried to Mokou's house in turn. It's likely a number of items of hers that she'll repair and then bring back on her next trip. "I'll come with you two as far as the human village, but that sounds like a good idea," she expresses to Meiling with a gentle smile.

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    "Ah, thank you very much," Meiling says with a bow. Although, on reflection, she's not quite sure what she's thanking Keine for... "Maybe we'll see her there, but, when I head to the Hakurei Shrine, if you see Miss Sakuya in the village, could you tell her...to head back to the Mansion, quickly?

    Best not to drag these two into Flandre's disappearance just yet, even in just relaying a message.

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    Mokou slows a bit until Keine is right next to her and matches her pace.

    "You know, I can carry some of that for you, Keine." The immortal maiden held out her arms to accept some of her friend's burden. It wasn't that she thought Keine couldn't handle it, but that she wanted to do it for Keine.
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    Keine smiles gently, brushing some of her hair back to hand her one of the bags. "Ah, thank you. And, of course, Miss Hong," she nods to Meiling, "I'll tell her if I encounter her."

    The trip through the Bamboo Forest of the Lost was quite short, all told - with Mokou guiding the other two, they didn't even encounter a single inaba. Which might, in and out of itself, be slightly peculiar... but not that much - they're not a terribly outgoing bunch if they aren't playing pranks on the lost, after all.

    Pretty soon, the three are back on the path on open plains towards the Human Village.

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    As Meiling follows behind Mokou and Keine, the Chinese girl let her eyes wander about the forest. She can see why the bamboo forest might be a maze, and warrant the "of the Lost" moniker. She also keeps her eyes open for any Lunarians...but they're a no show. Meiling wonders if she could write them off as far as "reasons Sakuya-san's missing."

    "If they come from the moon, why would they be out during the day, anyway..." she idly wonders.

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    Mokou carries the bag with great care, which is a bit strange due to her normal attitude.

    "She'll turn up eventually. Though, if you need help badly enough... Nah, forget it. She'll turn up for sure." It almost sounded like Mokou was about to offer her aid, and honestly, she was until she decided it wouldn't be any of her business.
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    Keine does look on with a quiet frown. She's the sort to worry on end, that's for certain. "Honestly, whatever is going on? First there's Reimu, and now Sakuya appears to not have made her rounds either."

    It's rather true that something felt different in the air -- both Mokou and Meiling could feel it. It's subtle, but noticeable at the same time -- just little things at first, like the way the breeze would blow through the bamboo trees in the Forest of the Lost; then, the way the amount of sunlight that would filter through into the manor. Meiling's noticed some of her flowers needing more sheltering as of late. Things are happening to break one's routine...

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    Meiling frowns. A very deep, troubled frown. "I don't like it. Miss Sakuya is never one to break routine. It's against her character, and given her abilities I don't think she ever actually has to worry about breaking routine." She looks to the sky, past the roof of the bamboo forest, and squints. "...It seemed brighter at the mansion..." she mutters. "Does it look bright out, today, to you two?"

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    Mokou looks up to the sky and lets out a bit of a sigh.

    "The air feels strange and the breeze sounds different in the forest. I don't know about the sun, it's always seemed too bright to me." Mokou slowly looked around, making sure nothing was going to pop up and surprise the group. "It's easier to hunt the predatory Youkai at night, anyway."
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