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Right as she said that, Sakuya threw open a door and a giant, completely filled bookcase that reached from the ground all the way to the twenty-foot-high ceiling blocked the view from the rest of the room. Alice, who was still holding Marisa tightly by the arm, and Cassandra stepped in while Sakuya excused herself to do her duties and shut the door behind them. The doll looked around and saw that the walls were lined with similar bookcases. As the three of them wandered about, Cassandra realized how this ridiculously large library was arranged. All the walls were lined with bookshelves and the center of the room was filled with rows and rows of even more bookshelves. All of them were completely full of books of all types.
"How are we supposed to find Patchouli in this huge maze of books?" asked the doll.
"Good question," said Marisa, "Usually when I'm here, my goal is to not find her."
"Isn't she usually sitting at a table somewhere in here just reading all day?" asked Alice, "I'm pretty sure if we wander around a bit, we'll run into her."
"If we split up-"
"I'm NOT letting go of you, Marisa."
"Whoever's making all that noise, either leave or be quiet. This is a library," said a voice that seemed to be coming from only a few rows down. Marisa and Alice looked at each other and shut up. The three of them made their way to where they thought they heard the voice from and indeed found who they were looking for. At the opposite end of the room from the entrance, there was a break in the pattern of bookshelves with just enough room for a small wooden desk that was piled with books. At the desk sat a purple haired someone wearing what looked a lot like a pink nightgown and nightcap. The cap had a yellow moon ornament attached to it that reflected what poor lighting there was in the library. This person was reading something by candlelight, but looked up as the trio approached. Her expression was indifferent and looked like she was perpetually bored with everything.
"Oh, it's you Marisa. Here to 'borrow' more books or are you actually going to return something?"
"If you can't tell, Patchouli, it's a little tough to borrow books when there's a crazy doll fanatic latched onto your right arm as well as an independent doll watching your every move so that you don't get them thrown out."
"Independent doll, you say? That explains the other missing book. Judging from what you said, I assume that it was successful? May I have that book back then?"
"Then I'm afraid that I'm not going to help you. That is why you're here, is it not?"
Cassandra whined in the high-pitched voice yet again, "Marisa! It's just a stupid book!"
"Actually," interrupted Alice, "I brought the book so it's not Marisa's say."
Marisa blew up at that, "Hey! I'm the one who acquired that book! What do you mean it's not my say?!"
"Obviously I mean I'm giving it to Patchouli anyway. What else are you going to do with it? Create an independent doll for yourself?" retorted Alice. She pulled the book out from some hidden place in her dress and placed it carefully on one of the large stacks of books on Patchouli's desk. Marisa groaned and looked really unhappy about the whole thing, but luckily, she didn't do anything else. Patchouli got to a good stopping point in her book and bookmarked it before closing it gently and setting it down. Alice got a glimpse of the title, A Therapist's Guide to Nonlinear Dynamics and Therapeutic Change, before Patchouli began talking with the same passive expression.
"My mind was set on not giving my help when I realized that you people wanted it, especially because Marisa was one of you. However, since this is actually the first time I've ever received something back from her, I've changed my mind. With some luck, this will also be a good incentive for her to return at some of the other books. So, please tell me exactly what needs my help."
"You're seriously going to help?" asked Marisa skeptically, "Just because of one lousy book? Maybe I will return some more books. But Alice, you owe me two things now!"
"You promised me something for helping you create the independent doll and now you used one of my books to get Patchouli to help. Two things."
Alice sighed and shook her head, "You know, Marisa? You're way too greedy for your own good..."
Patchouli watched as this little exchange went on, her inquiry on the situation ignored. She sat back down behind her desk and opened her book again saying off-handedly, "Well, if you're not going to say anything..."
Cassandra somehow climbed her way on the desk and stood on the book before Patchouli could really get back into it and stared at her. The librarian regarded the doll, still with the same bored expression. The two of them could still hear Alice and Marisa arguing about who owed how much, but ignored them as they started a small conversation of their own.
"I suppose it's safe to assume that you're the independent doll they spoke of."
"Yup, and I suppose it's safe to assume that you're the elemental magic user that I heard about."
"Most likely. Do you happen to know why they came here if it wasn't to take more of my books?"
"Actually, yeah I do. It involves me. Do you know how to control the balance of the elements in a soul?"
"I don't think I've ever manipulated the elements in something intangible like that. Why?"
"Because I need to send my soul back to where it belongs in less than one hour or else my real body will die, but my soul seems to have been altered when those two summoned it to this doll. Someone informed me that my soul's elements were unbalanced and had to be fixed before it can be released from this doll."
Patchouli's expression changed ever so slightly, but it seemed that she was thinking now, trying to remember something. Absently, she closed the bookmarked book that Cassandra was still standing on, surprising the doll and forcing her to jump off rather quickly. The librarian stood up again and walked off in what seemed to be an arbitrary direction in the library. Cassandra was still on the desk and decided to sit down on one the edge facing the two still-arguing magicians. Their voices were getting pretty loud now and were even echoing around in the usually silent library. Soon, Patchouli came back with another book in her hands. As she passed the bickering two, she gave a cold disapproving glare before reassuming her usual passive face.
As she took her seat at her desk again, Cassandra stood up and went over to the end of the surface. Patchouli opened the book and placed it down in front of her, narrowly missing the doll. Cassandra was now between the edge of the desk closest to the elementalist and the edge of the book, still standing. The title of this book was The Anthology of Souls, a title that seemed vaguely familiar to Cassandra. Both the doll and librarian were reading the book but only one was getting anything out of it. As soon as Cassandra was done reading one paragraph, Patchouli was already turning the page and reading the next, apparently trying to find something in this book. Also, Patchouli was apparently not disturbed by the racket the two other magicians were causing but Cassandra certainly was. Eventually, Patchouli closed the book again and spoke to the doll again.
"I've found what I need to know. I've found out how the elements affect a human soul. Fire is the stubbornness of the soul, how tightly it clings to its current body. Water is the speed at which a soul flows through the world from one body to another. Wood is the speed at which the soul takes root in the body. Earth is the durability of the soul, how easily it perishes without a body. And finally, metal is the flexibility of the soul, what it can be attached to and still form a consciousness."
Cassandra tilted her head, resting it on her palm as she took it all in. As preposterous as it all sounded, it somehow rang true in her ears. Deducing what was imbalanced in her soul was easy then. She said to Patchouli, "Then, that means my soul has too much fire doesn't it? Reimu tried to exorcise my soul out but it clung to the doll and just knocked me out for a little while."
"I suppose so then," replied Patchouli, "But this doesn't change the fact that I have no experience in changing the balance in a soul."
"Can't you at least try?"
"We don't know what will happen if I fail. I may disrupt the balance further or even destroy your soul completely."
Cassandra considered this and gulped. Is it really worth risking my existence to get back to where I belong? she asked herself. Yet even asked she wondered this, she already knew the answer. There felt like a lump in her throat, if this doll even had a throat, but Cassandra forced herself to say, "I still want you to try."
"You are sure?"
This time she couldn't even speak. She nodded. Patchouli, still with that indifferent look, began her spell. Cassandra expected a bit more... chanting or something for a spell like this, but there were no incantations at all. Instead Patchouli closed her eyes and lifted her right hand palm forward, concentrating in spite of the argument still taking place in front of her desk. In a few seconds, a faint outline of a blue disk appeared at her outstretched palm and steadily grew brighter as more spiritual energy was concentrated there. Eventually the brilliance from the librarian's palm was bright enough to attract the attention of Marisa and Alice who finally stopped the argument that had apparently gone way off topic anyway. The blue disk of energy seemed to fade back and Cassandra thought that perhaps it had gone wrong before it had even started yet, but no. The disk wasn't fading, it was focusing. The light at Patchouli's palm expanded and the energy concentrated themselves into moving lines until it was quite apparent that it was a rotating magic circle made purely of bluish energy.
Marisa looked at that magic circle with disgust, mostly because the only times she saw it was when Patchouli was trying to chase her out with torrents of freezing water, disks of sharp metal, raging infernos, and the like. But this time, it was being used differently. The circle condensed itself into a tiny point of intense light which glowed so brightly that it was no longer possible to tell that it was blue. This tiny ball separated itself from Patchouli's hand and penetrated the doll into the place where its heart would have been. Cassandra gasped as it entered and felt something within her changing. It was an uncomfortable feeling, having her soul being altered in strange ways, but it didn't knock her out like Reimu's attempted exorcism had done. In a few moments, the unpleasant tingly sensation stopped and Patchouli opened her eyes again.
"Did it work?" asked Cassandra.
"I don't know," replied Patchouli, "The only way to tell is to try to separate your soul from your current body again."
"Back to Reimu's then!" exclaimed Marisa with a grin on her face, apparently already forgetting the huge fight she had just had with Alice, "We can have her perform another exorcism."
"Reimu's going to complain about setting it up again," remarked Alice, sighing. Under her breath she added, "And I'm still only giving you one thing."
As Cassandra thanked Patchouli for her efforts and as they got ready to leave the mansion for Reimu's again, the four of them heard the door open and the voice of a really young person call out into the library.
"Mariiiiisaaaaa~! I know I heard you! Let's play again!"
Alice had a look of disgust on her face as she listened to the voice.
"Oh, no... is that who I think it is?"
Patchouli looked up from the book that she had started reading again.
"It sounds like the mistress's little sister let herself out of her room again."
"Hey Patchouli, shouldn't you do something about her?" demanded Marisa, "I really don't feel like doing her type of playing right now."
The librarian shrugged and buried her face in the book again, "She's been more well-behaved lately so the mistress doesn't mind as much when she escapes from her room."
The head of a cute little fair-haired girl poked out from behind the closest bookshelf and lit up when she saw Marisa. Her eyes were a scary-looking red and when she smiled at finding the blond witch, she revealed teeth that looked suspiciously like fangs. Sitting on her head was a weird-looking poofy hat that was colored pink.
"Aha! Found you!" she declared as the rest of her body appeared from behind the bookcase and ran up to hug Marisa. As the girl wrapped her arms around the embarrassed witch, Cassandra took a good look at her. She was fairly short with a small frame and her body had definitely not even started the maturation process that came with age. She looked to be about ten or eleven years old. Her clothing were pretty simple, just a red dress that was exactly the same color has her eyes and a yellow bow that was tied around the pink collar of the dress. However, the most prominent feature of this girl was what was sticking out of her back.
What the heck are those? Wings? wondered Cassandra. Indeed they were wings, but they were the strangest looking wings that anyone or anything could possibly have. Each wing was comprised of just one black spindly protruberance with seven prisms each colored a different color of the rainbow. It looked doubtful that this person could fly with those wings. As the girl released Marisa from her arms, she inquired excitedly, "So why are you here today Marisa? Is it because you remember my birthday?"
"Uhhhh, yeah," replied the witch hesistantly, "Happy four hundred and ninety... sixth birthday?"
"Yay! You even remembered my age!" exclaimed the "young" girl. Then, she spotted the doll sitting on Patchouli's desk and pointed at it, asking, "Is that my present?"
Cassandra, who was up until now content on watching this play out by itself without her, hopped off of the desk and indignantly answered the hyperactive girl herself, "I am not your present! Who in the world are you anyway?"
"What do you mean who am I?" demanded the girl in the same indignant tone. She then said arrogantly, "I am Flandre Scarlet, the little sister of the vampiric mistress of this mansion."
Then, quite suddenly, Flandre's mood went into full reverse and her face lit up and became all excited again, "Wait a minute.. No way! The doll just talked!" She rushed over to the doll and picked up to examine it, very much in the same way that Alice did just two and a half hours ago. As expected, Cassandra started screaming again, "Hey! What are you...! Put me down you little brat!!!"
Having no success with persuading Flandre, the doll turned to the other three instead, "Patchouli? Alice? Marisa? Someone help me!!"
Patchouli looked up for a moment before continuing her reading, Alice looked away and pretended not to hear anything, and Marisa just looked on with sympathy. No one tried to interfere and Cassandra resigned to just shouting at Flandre again. Eventually, it seemed to get boring for the little sister and she sort of tossed the doll over her head where it landed head first on the ground.
"Ah, that's boring. All it does is yell at me."
"Ummm yeah," answered Alice, "So why don't we just leave it alone?"
"Hmmm... but it called me names, I want to sort of destroy it now."
Cassandra pulled herself up, muttering to herself, and looked up to see Flandre with an insane grin on her face standing over her. In one of her hands was something that looked like a spear that seemed to have come out of nowhere. It looked like it was made of fire.
"Uhhh, Flandre," she heard Marisa saying, "Maybe you shouldn't overreact so much..."
The vampire girl raised the fiery weapon up over her head and the doll ran off screaming.
Cassandra made a run for the door to the hallway but found that Flandre had closed the door behind her when she had entered. However, when she looked behind her she didn't see the psycho girl and breathed a sigh of relief. The relief didn't last very long. Suddenly, crazed laughter sounded from above the doll, and she looked up to see Flandre diving at her with the spear. Somehow she was able to get the thought in, Wow, those really are wings, before she realized that she was in danger and ran off at full speed again. Cassandra somehow found her way back to Marisa, Alice, and Patchouli who still refused to do anything. As she ran by, she heard Alice say, "Sorry, but we value our lives..."
"Weeeeeeeee! This is fun!" shouted Flandre, "Why don't we finish this?!"
As the doll made its way around the library fearfully, she found herself in a narrow corridor formed by two long bookcases on either side. As she ran down it, Flandre appeared on the side she was running towards, causing her to skid to a stop and promptly turn around to run in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, two more Flandres were coming down the corridor from that end and one more was swooping around above.
What the... There's no way to escape!
All four clones smirked as they noticed Cassandra's consternation. In unison, all four of them giggled and spoke in a single voice, "How do you like my Four of a Kind spellcard? Not much I guess. Well, nice meeting ya."
All four of them threw their fire spears at the doll who screamed as they came into contact with her from four different directions.
Thousands of miles away, a girl woke up with beads of sweat running down her forehead. Her pink covers were disheveled from her sudden jerking as she sat up after waking up from a frightening dream. To her side, on her little bedstand, a radio clock was alerting her to the new school day.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The teenage girl rubbed the sleep out of her blue eyes and pushed the dream to the back of her mind. It was the first day of school after winter break, she had more important things to worry about. She glanced at her clock with one eye as she yawned, still rubbing the other in a lame attempt to feel more awake. It displayed three numbers, 7:42.
"No way! I'm gonna be late to first period!"
Quickly she dressed herself in a randomly picked yellow t-shirt and jeans and threw a yellow sweatshirt over herself before rushing into the bathroom to do whatever it is that girls do before going to school. It was 7:56 when she flew out the door and sped off to school in her car, skipping breakfast. The bell rang as she was hurrying up the second flight of stairs to the third floor where her English class was. She groaned and slowed down, slowly trudging up the remaining steps. As she opened the door to the classroom, thirty pairs of eyes turned to watch the late student walk in. The teacher smiled pleasantly while taking out a slip of paper and filling it in and at the same time saying, "Well Cassandra, this seems to be your second tardy. Why are you late this time?"
"Sorry Mrs. Kalluia, I overslept," she replied as she sat down at her desk.
A witch, a doll maker, a librarian, and a vampire stood over a small crater in a library where a doll had been just a few moments ago. The witch squatted down to take a look and saw nothing that resembled a part of a doll remaining. Standing back up, she cocked an eyebrow at the vampire, "Was that really necessary Flandre?"
"Not really," replied Flandre, looking rather pleased with herself, "But it sure was fun!"
Alice looked sullenly at the crater, her masterpiece nowhere to be seen.
"That doll took a long time to make... and I was hoping to reuse it when we got that soul out."
"Is that all you're thinking about?" asked Marisa, "Don't you wonder what happened to Cassandra?"
Patchouli stopped reading the book that she had brought along again and said indifferently, "Most likely her soul was released when the doll was destroyed. She's probably back in her own body now."
"Are you sure?"
"I said most likely. Can you leave now? I'd like to continue reading in peace."
Flandre immediately ran out of the library screaming, "Yay! I'm going to help big sis with correcting the doorguard!"
Alice could still hear the crazy little girl yelling from somewhere on the second floor as she walked out of the mansion still dragging Marisa by the arm. Once they passed the gates, she finally let go and declared, "Come on Marisa. Let's go back to my place and make a new independent doll!"
"Heh, you're still not going to give up after that huge mess?"
"Of course not! And this time it'll work for sure!"
"Yeah that's what you said last time, but I'll help anyway."
"On the account of the usual?"
"Of course! You now owe me three things Alice!"
Marisa smirked and Alice grinned back and with that the two friend flew off to that little house full of dolls in the woods to work on their next strange little project.
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