What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Locations: Marisa Kirisame's House, Alice Margatroid's House, Kourindou, The Hakurei Shrine, Gate to Makai
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The Forest of Magic is a place brimming with energy and power. The dense trees and deep magic that permeates the forest makes it almost suffocating, but also seems to attract a number of youkai. The forest isn't travelled by many, and only the strange or the magical choose it as their home. The forest is home to two magical beings, the human magician Marisa Kirisame and the youkai puppeteer Alice Margatroid. Marisa's house seems to double as a shop, an Anything-Goes type of store, but whether or not she does any actual business is something of a mystery. Kourindou, owned by Rinnosuke, is another shop on the edge of the Forest of Magic near the human village, and is frequently visited by humans and youkai alike. The Hakurei Shrine, cared for by the shrine maiden Reimu Hakurei, also resides in a thinner area of the forest, near the great Hakurei border.

What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Hata no Kokoro » 28 Jul 2013 03:07

"You should smile more."

Kokoro wasn't sure where she had heard that from. Possibly a human in the village, but wherever she had heard it from, she had been paying it a lot of attention. Why should she smile more though? The person hadn't explained. They had just mentioned that and walked off. Was it really better to smile? She wasn't really sure. It brought with it that emotion, happiness, but not all the time. Sometimes people smiled because they were sad. Frowning, the girl reached her hand up and moved her mask aside, examining the face she found beneath. That frown she wore was, of course, not a smile, so...she ought to fix that.

A smile was presented to the pool of water she was kneeling beside, trees surrounding them, looking down the water's depths. It was...better than the smile, but it was forced, and far too exaggerated. Even if she wasn't used to these things called emotions, she did know a smile when she saw one. Her masks had often provided her with a smile on her face due to the emotions they gave off, and what she wore was not a smile...it was more like another mask rather than another emotion. Sighing, the girl closed her eyes. A happy memory, then? That ought to cause her to give a genuine smile, but what sorts of happy memories did she have? The only truly big incident that had happened had been when her 'hope' mask being found by that Koishi girl.

That hadn't been truly pleasant, yet...she had managed to make a friend or two. Maybe. Did the shrine maiden count as a friend because of that? Kokoro wasn't sure, but it had been pretty nice to find her own emotions. Just the thought of what she might discover in the future did cause her to smile a bit more, and...ah. "That's a smile." she stated to herself, nodding at the reflection. That smile she wore now was no fake, it was genuine. A little small perhaps though. She probably should work on that, but it did feel nice to smile. Perhaps that person who gave her that advice had had a point.
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Alice Margatroid » 01 Aug 2013 15:24

Kokoro's practice of basic humanoid expression had not happened unobserved, however. At that final comment about it being a smile, a rather cool voice rang out from behind. "I hadn't expected a mask to last long enough out here to turn into a tsukumogami." The voice was quickly followed by a number of small, wooden dolls in French peasant dresses fluttering around Kokoro trying to study the mysterious youkai. "You'd normally think that it would have broken or rotted away long before that."

Now the owner of the voice moved into sight as well, a skinny blond woman with an expression as cool as her voice, her most notable feature other than her expression the bound and locked book at her side. "So you're new to being a living creature, right? And trying to figure it all out." She didn't particularly want to teach a new youkai, but she couldn't quite help but remember her own daughters and how they had needed teaching too. The woman smiled slightly, not quite a warm smile but it still brightened her expression considerably compared to before. "So do you need some advice working it out?" Her voice too sounded less icy than it had before.
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Hata no Kokoro » 01 Aug 2013 17:59

...Unusual. Did this girl live in these woods, or was she just visiting? Kokoro wasn't sure, but the dolls were unusual. She looked at them with what she hoped was a curious expression. They sure seemed to be rather alive and all, but...they were dolls, so how was that possible? Briefly she let herself be distracted by that and studied the dolls, much like they were studying her, until the girl that had showed up spoke again, causing Kokoro to look away from the floating dolls and look back to Alice.

The dolls would have plenty to study, considering the masks floating around her as she stood up and brushed the dirt off her clothes. The woman was smiling too, although why, Kokoro wasn't sure. She didn't seem happy nor sad; could it be there was another reason to smile? At least there seemed to be some warmth to that voice now. "Very new. I'm...not quite sure what sorts of emotions I can experience. So advice would be much appreciated," she said with a small nod. Before, when relying on her masks, there had only been 66 of them, and she doubted there were only 66 emotions.

Free of being forced to use them to exhibit an emotion, she was curious to see what new emotions she could find. "I'm not a tsukumogami though. No one ever threw me away. I just...am, I guess? These masks are all a part of me," she explained, unconcerned that she was mistaken for a tsukumogami again. It happened a lot, and with good reason too. She was very similar to one, after all. "Are these dolls of yours really...alive?" she suddenly asked, glancing at the small creatures again.
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Alice Margatroid » 01 Aug 2013 20:28

A closer look at Alice revealed unnaturally flawless skin, making her almost look like a larger version of her dolls. "I see. And I'm not sure I can tell what you can experience either. Most youkai have more or less human emotions, but often in ways that are strange a different compared to those of humans, but some are different and you might be one of them." Alice's smile faded, though her voice stayed as warm as before, a slight hint of something else creeping into it too. Just who was this girl and what was the matter with her emotions? "Although, if you aren't a mask tsukumogami, my guess would be that you're a menreiki. But I don't know enough to say whether your emotions would be notably different from those of humans if that's the case." She paused for a bit, calling her dolls back to maintain formation behind her. She could see Kokoro properly now and poking around like that would be rude. However, A single doll stayed behind to pat the bewildered girl's back.

After a short while she continued. "And in any case, emotions are like colors. Differences exist and are easy to tell, but they shade into each other, blend and can be hard to distinguish." She couldn't help but think about a certain black-white witch and all the various things she made her feel, often all at once. Or her daughters, for that matter. "Names for them are simply ways to try to create definition in it all and you will often feel different things at the same time." The smile returned, even as the last doll returned to join the swarm with the others. "So I wouldn't worry too much about learning what emotions there are and more about understanding what you feel means."

The final question on the other hand, shook her out of it, causing the smile to wither and after a short moment of an expression appearing to be somewhere between pride and irritation, her original cool expression returned. "No, they're simply tools to manage my tasks better than I could with my own hands. And experiments in how to animate inanimate objects."
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Hata no Kokoro » 01 Aug 2013 22:11

Kokoro was a little disappointed. The dolls had been distracting, true, but they had been fun and interesting. Well, not fun so much, but definitely interesting. She would like to spend more time looking at them, if only because they looked rather well made if they were indeed just experiments in getting inanimate things to move. "Hrm...so emotions blend together a lot, and sometimes you might experience a lot of them at the same time? Interesting...I didn't know that," Kokoro stated. She had thought she'd experienced such a thing before, of course, but back then she hadn't thought that multiple emotions could happen at the same time. That just didn't make a lot of sense to her.

The girl of masks frowned a little bit as she thought about this girl's other words as well. About how words like 'happiness' were just an attempt to put a definition on emotions, and that she shouldn't worry about figuring out what they were, but rather how she felt about them. It was...genuinely good advice. It was nice to know the name of the emotion she was feeling, true, but it didn't really hold much value if she didn't know how exactly she was feeling. Yes...this girl was right; how was she such an expert on emotions? Kokoro was genuinely curious, so she trodded forward a little bit and stopped in front of Alice, peering at her. There was something off about the other female, but what was it...?

Her eyes roamed all over the other girl's figure, taking in the dolls as well, before she hit upon it. "You look like a doll," she suddenly stated, eyes glancing towards Alice's face. Kokoro never would have reached that conclusion, either, were it not for the dolls hanging around Alice. But with them there, it was easy to see how much she resembled them. "Your skin. It's a bit..flawless, I guess. I think that's the word," the menreiki said, tilting her head a bit as she wondered where she was going with this, and...ah, that was an excellent question. "Are you a doll?" was the final thing she said.
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Alice Margatroid » 01 Aug 2013 22:31

Seeing Kokoro looking at the dolls a bit longer a few of them fluttered back over to her and folded their hands to bow politely, floating in the air before her. They didn't look around like before, just staying there to see how she reacted.

"They do. Of course, some like happiness and sadness are rarely present at the same time, but something can easily make you both embarrassed and happy at the same time for example." Despite her words, Alice didn't show many emotions herself, however. "And you can feel something different about different things at the same time. Like discomfort from hot weather, while also enjoying a block of yokan." It really was like talking to a child, even if it was about a rather odd topic that children would rarely ask about. Thinking about it, Alice's small smile returned. "But don't worry too much about it, if you're a young youkai you will probably learn it on its own easily enough. Especially if you talk to others and see how they act. Maybe reading stories or watching plays helps too."

The next set of comments on the other hand took Alice by surprise. It wasn't really something she thought about, even if the latest Child of Miare had described her as that. She shrugged. "No, I'm of flesh and blood. I just have smooth skin. If I'd actually been a doll you wouldn't have been in doubt. I guess people got the idea from the fact that I'm surrounded with dolls like this." She gestured to the dolls next to her, one of them puffing itself up like a kid wanting to show bravado in a game. "I'm a magician and a dollmaker."
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Hata no Kokoro » 02 Aug 2013 12:33

Very interesting. Kokoro wasn't sure what it was about the dolls that fascinated her so, but...hrm. Perhaps it was the way they hung around Alice like that? They reminded her very much of her own masks.

Were they really not alive, as Alice had said? They sure seemed to be rather aware of things if that was really the case, so much so that they almost felt alive. But of course, Alice had made them, right? She would know whether or not they were alive, and surely there was no reason to lie to her about it. There was nothing she could really do with that information. "I see....that makes a lot of sense," she nodded her head. Alice's words reminded her she had experienced things like that before. For instance, being out in bad weather, and therefore feeling discomfort, but still happy from, at the least, briefly conversing with others she passed by. Yes, what the blonde before her had said made a lot more sense than she had initially thought. It was confusing, all of this. One minute she thought herself correct, the next she didn't because of some simple examples.

"A magician and dollmaker...so, have you been making dolls for a long time?" she was genuinely curious as her gaze wandered onto the doll that had puffed herself up. A glance was sent the way of Alice before her curious gaze turned back to the doll. It was really difficult to believe they weren't alive...they seemed to be full of personality. Was that just Alice trying to trick her and play games with her? By making them seem alive? "We never told each other our names. I'm Kokoro." the girl stated as she, slowly and gently, poked the puffed up doll's stomach.
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Alice Margatroid » 07 Aug 2013 15:18

When poked in the stomach, the puffed up doll bent over like a person hit the stomach would, lowering its head and shaking a fist in anger as it recovered, even if its expression remained unchanged. The latter was most likely due to the fact that its face was simply carved and painted.

"Yes. Ever since moving to Gensokyo. They're for experiments." Even if she'd developed a certain fondness for the things over time, they were still ultimately for her experiments. Even if she wasn't quite sure she could ever achieve more than she already had, the yama had suggested that Shinki too used ordinary souls from the cycle of transmigration, after all. "However, I also use them for simple things like puppetry when there are festivals in the village, helping around the house or gifts. They also make excellent tools in a duel."

The poked doll calmed down from before, flying over to take a seat on Kokoro's shoulder. "You're right. I'm Alice Margatroid."
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Patchouli Knowledge » 08 Aug 2013 02:50

At that moment, another individual wandered to where Alice and Kokoro were having their conversation. It was a frail-looking girl with long, violet hair, her figure covered in loose, flowing robes and a striped dress. Like the dollmaker, she too carried a book with her, but the most distinguishing accessory she had was the crescent moon affixed to the nightcap on her head.

It seemed as if this newcomer was quite familiar with Alice, turning towards the blonde, short-haired magician after a moment's glance. "Well, this is quite interesting. I thought you would be home, as usual." she says to Alice, before glancing towards Kokoro. "I hope that I'm not interrupting anything private?"
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Hata no Kokoro » 10 Aug 2013 00:50

...Oh, had she angered the doll? She hadn't meant to do that, she had just been curious and thought poking the tiny little doll might make it...she wasn't sure. Ticklish, maybe? Hopefully the little dear wasn't hurt too much by that tiny little poke; it hadn't been too hard of a one, and surely this girl wouldn't make dolls THAT fragile, right? Not when those danmaku battles seemed to be a daily thing. "So...experiments? What are you trying to do with them?" Kokoro questioned of her, unable to help but ask. Then again, what else would dolls be used as experiments for other than to try and make them alive? And yet they weren't alive...how interesting.

Before she could say anything else, the doll seemed to recover, and Kokoro smiled a little as she glanced at the little thing on her shoulder. "Alice Margatroid...I look forward to being your friend. Or...acquaintance," she stated, her gaze still on the doll. Even if it wasn't alive...it sure seemed to be, so much so that she couldn't help herself. "To you, my apologies for poking you like that." she addressed the doll. Before anything else could happen, another woman showed up; that was a rather unusual cap, wasn't it? "I don't think you are...I don't think this can be private since we're in a place like this. What's your name?"
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Alice Margatroid » 12 Aug 2013 20:00

When asked about the nature of her experiments, Alice's expression grew notably more prideful. "I'm trying to bring them to life. Not just animate them, but create something as genuinely alive as any tsukumogami." She gestured to the dolls around her. "Not that these are really experiments for that anymore, now they're just tools and signs of my mundane craft of dollmaking and puppetry. My experiments have gone beyond that, creating my daughters who are currently studying at Myouren Temple." She fell silent, for once uncertain about how to discuss them as they related to her general studies as the thought occurred to her that it would pretty easily come off as if she was dismissing them if she explained why she wasn't satisfied and that wasn't a thought she wanted to dwell too much on.

Instead she latched on to the arrival of Patchouli. "Shouldn't I be the one to ask that? I'm a known figure in the village and I don't have any maids or gate guards who can fetch things for me either." She shrugged, no real emotional response showing on her face. "But, no, you're not interrupting. I just ran into Kokoro trying to train smiling and got curious."

At the same time, the doll just waved its hand as if to say the poking was nothing, making itself more at ease on the menreiki's shoulder. "Don't worry about it, it can't feel anything. I just made it do that to be the proper reaction and show my skill in controlling the dolls. They only do what I make them do."
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Patchouli Knowledge » 17 Aug 2013 17:34

At the words of the unfamiliar girl with the masks, Patchouli glances about the surroundings, then returns her attention to the others after being addressed by Alice. She gives a dry-humored smile towards Kokoro, "True enough to some extent, though a forest, particularly this one, affords enough seclusion. In any case, my name is Patchouli Knowledge. My residence is the Scarlet Devil Mansion, which happens to be right beside the Misty Lake." She briefly gazes in the dollmaker's direction, "Alice here has sometimes worked with me a few times on matters related to our common art of spellcasting."

The magician from the Scarlet Devil Mansion then turned towards Alice again, and chuckled a bit towards her. "You know my habits quite well. Usually I would be staying home and letting Koakuma do errands for me. Today is different, though... I sensed something interesting in this direction. I wanted to feel it up close for myself. So far, I am not disappointed. It feels unusually good to call upon the power of Wood here today."

She then looks back to Kokoro. "Training to smile? Well, that explains why you were beside that pool, then." Patchouli thoughtfully raises one hand to her chin. "For what particular reason were you practicing, though?"
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Hata no Kokoro » 20 Aug 2013 18:17

"Your daughters?" Kokoro asked almost immediately, confused. Did she mean literal daughters, or were some of her dolls at this temple? And...if that were the case, how were they being controlled? It was tough for the girl with masks to believe that she could control them from all the way out here, wherever this temple was; it seemed like something you'd need to be close to the dolls to do. And if she meant literal daughters...well, there was no way she meant that, right? The girl didn't look old at all, and...well okay, to be fair, that was no measure of if one could have a child.

A lot of youkai seemed to look rather young in spite of their actual age. She was probably one of the few that was both actually young and looked young, it didn't seem to be a common combination. "...I've never heard of either of those places," Kokoro stopped thinking about what Alice had meant by speaking to Patchouli. The Scarlet Devil Mansion, the Misty Lake...neither place was familiar to her, but then again, was that really a surprise? She hadn't gone travelling about Gensokyo while searching for her hope mask, after all. The mansion sounded like it was rather menacing though, if its name was anything to go by.

"Does a devil really live there?" she questioned of the purple-haired girl. Of course...wasn't it rude to ask a question without answering the question that had been posed to you first? Oh definitely it was. "Hrm...anyway. I was doing it because I was told I should smile more, I suppose. I don't smile a lot." was her rather bland explanation.
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Alice Margatroid » 23 Aug 2013 15:01

"Right, my daughters. Through experimentation, I learned the skill of binding souls to specially prepared doll, creating tsukumogami. The result were the Shanghai and Hourai lines of dolls being brought to life, so what would they be if not my daughters?" Alice smiled slightly, a bit of actual warmth crept into both her voice and her smile as she talked about the living dolls. "They're studying at Myouren Temple to learn what they need to survive as small youkai. I could teach them magic, but the abbess is an accomplished magician herself as well as quite capable of teaching them physical skills."

It was then that Patchouli cut in, mentioning what she had sensed from the forest. "Oh? Do you mean you sensed Kokoro or that there is an elemental imbalance in the wood? I'm more trained in animation and spiritual magic than elemental, so I can easily imagine that I would miss it if there was an elemental imbalance. It could still be useful for me, especially one based around the element of wood, given the material of my dolls." And as much as she hated to admit it, Patchouli was quite likely the greatest magician in Gensokyo, with a few possible exceptions among ancient youkai, so it was perfectly possible for her to detect things that she couldn't herself.

"It's the home of the vampire known as the Scarlet Devil, Remilia Scarlet, her sister Flandre Scarlet, Patchouli and their servants. It is near the forest, by a fairy-infested lake that's always covered in mist. Vampires are a form of demons, so you could say that a real devil lives there."
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Re: What's Behind a Mask? [Open]

Postby Patchouli Knowledge » 24 Aug 2013 12:05

Patchouli looked at Kokoro and Alice, listening to both of them. She then nodded the former after receiving a response to her question, then at Alice for explaining more about the Scarlet Devil Mansion itself. She says to Kokoro, "What Alice says is quite correct. I am not the only one who lives in that mansion, and in fact, it is Remilia who owns it, not myself. I have been most fortunate, however, to have benefited from her hospitality for several decades already."

The elemental magician then paused, looking Kokoro up and down before turning to Alice again. "Hmm... couldn't say that she was the cause of the feeling that I had sensed, it would likely be something else somewhere deeper in this forest. Still, she herself seems to be rather associated with Wood, probably due to the masks." Patchouli then smiled a bit in amusement, "Not only that, but her curiosity, particularly at learning how to smile... again aligned with wood, but transitioning a bit towards the happiness of Fire?"
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