Captain Murasa stretched as she allowed the ship to return to automatic mode. It wasn't as fun as captaining the vessel personally, but it was very convenient when she needed to go somewhere else. Focusing slightly she dematerialized and sank through the decks quickly before she allowed herself to rematerialize inside the palanquin ship. She turned to the four passengers. "We've passed the barriers, so it's safe to be up top."
The small devil that had accompanied them this time was flying up to the deck as soon as she finished speaking. Her master only looked up briefly from her book before returning to her notes. The other magician smiled at the demons antics. Marisa, of course, just laughed.
Murasa looked over at Marisa and asked the question that had been on her mind ever since the extra passengers had embarked. "So, if you don't mind me asking, why are you bringing your friends over just now? It'll be harder to just fly over when we set this place up as a temple. Why not get more visits in earlier?"
Marisa's happy look vanished and she sort of shrugged. The girl with the dolls floating about her decided to answer instead, "Because we had to beat her in a duel to force her to let us come along."
"Well it's bad business to just let your customers have access to your supply." Marisa protested. "My magic shop would have made good money if I was the only one with Makai connections."
"What customers?" The bookish magician said from her corner. "Your shop has less then a 7.142 percent chance of being open. How would anyone know when you were actually working? You've 'sold' one magical work in the last 4 months."
Marisa just shrugged at the details. "It was an awesome one though. Right, Patchy?"
"It was... pretty good." Patchouli admitted.
"The idea of having to rely on your judgment for magical materials, however, is terrifying," said Alice. "Some of us use things other then mushrooms for our magical work." The doll master frowned. "I'm seriously low on wyvern scale."
Murasa watched the three banter back and forth. "Hm... It seems like your three get along well." She immediately was pierced with 3 cold stares. Looking for a quick out she continued, "Anyway, we're going to start descending soon, so this is your best chance to view the city from the air."
"Ah. Thank you captain," Alice said gracefully exiting the cabin and heading up the stairs. "Yep thanks for everything," Marisa chimed in as she strode out. Patchouli just gave a polite nod before floating up after the two.
As Murasa left to take the helm once again she wondered to herself what interesting things those three would get up to in Makai's capital.
And if Byakuren was the only sane magician in existence.
On the palanquin ship's deck Koakuma looked with delight down on the city. It was nothing compared to some of the cities of the outside world, but it was far more impressive then the tiny human village of Gensoukyo. It was also the place where Koakuma had been created and raised.
While the cities of humanity were bright with many lights this city was dark, only illuminated by deep red lanterns in a few places. The citizens of Makai didn't need much light to see. Besides, the entire city was illuminated by the frozen lands that stood between the capitol and the grim fortress of Pandemonium.
Of course this was also her first time looking down on the city. Nameless devils wouldn't dare draw the attention of the predators of this land by flying this high over the city. Even now, after studying with Patchouli for over 50 years, she would be unwilling to attempt such a feat alone.
The sound of footsteps behind her indicated the others had finally decided to join her. The little devil waved at the three. "Ah, over here!"
The three walked over towards the railing. Marisa placed her hands behind her head and stared out over the landscape. "Hey. This city is where we met, isn't it Alice?"
Alice frowned slightly. "Yes. Thanks for reminding me."
Koakuma blinked at the news. "Eh? You've been to Makai before, Marisa? I thought that Reimu was the one who caused that big mess."
Marisa laughed. "Well Reimu took what little credit there was, but yeah, I busted in here a while back. When Reimu, Alice and I were still kids."
"Not that long ago then," Patchouli commented.
"Actually I've been wondering how you learned about that," Alice asked. "You've been away for a while haven't you?"
Koa glanced at her master wondering if she should spill this particular bit of information. Patchouli merely coughed. "Well Patchouli-sama occasionally summons things from Makai, so we get some information out of there. It's mostly just rumors, but big events get mentioned."
"Eh? Then why are you here?" Marisa asked turning to Patchy. "You don't normally leave your library for this sort of thing. Why didn't you just summon something up?"
Patchouli buried her face in her book. "I had an experiment that couldn't be done from a distance. And going to and from Makai takes a lot more effort then summoning up a demon then banishing them." Alice and Marisa exchanged looks then turned to Koa to see if she could add something to that non answer. Koakuma just shrugged. She didn't have a clue herself. Patchouli was terrible about explaining herself, even to those who had been around her a long time.
The truth was Koakuma was just thrilled to have a chance to visit home. That it was 'work related' didn't really matter.
The glow from the icy fields dimmed as the palanquin ship slowly descended next to the city.
With a twitch of her fingers Alice sent Hourai to recover her purse. She was surprised at the number of pickpockets around, even if petty crimes were the source of some demons amusement. Admittedly the fact that she was being targeted meant no one had recognized her yet, which was a good thing. They also provided a nice boost to her funds, as she usually removed the pickpockets purse too.
She moved further into the bazaar to catch up with her companions. Marisa, of course, was wandering away from a herbalist's stand. She quickly pushed through the crowd to walk with Alice towards where Patchouli was buying souvenirs. Glancing down at the bags Marisa was holding Alice couldn't help but ask, "Aren't black angel mushrooms less effective if you didn't forage for them yourself?"
Marisa smiled as she absently tossed the bag up then caught it again. "Stealing is like foraging right?"
Alice shrugged. "I suppose." She idly wondered if her lack of concern over property rights was a sign she'd spent too much time around the other witch.
They arrived to see Patchouli finishing up her bargaining. Koakuma grabbed the bags while Patchouli handed over several small items to the happy looking demon running the stall. Alice immediately recognized them when the stall owner held them up to the light. "Diamonds?" Marisa asked incredulously. "Isn't that a little expensive for some travel souvenirs?"
"Diamonds are far less rare then people imagine," Patchouli stated calmly. "Especially in the outside world. In fact they can apparently just make them in the outside world these days."
Marisa whistled. "That's pretty cool. I wonder how they do that. I'd like to learn how to make diamonds."
"If you make too many they become common, which makes them cheap." Alice looked at Patchouli. "And wouldn't using synthetics weaken any spells used with it?"
Patchouli gave her a glance back. "Hardly. Diamonds are used because of their physical qualities mainly. And even if you are using it because it's rare, isn't a synthetic diamond incredibly rare here?"
"I suppose that's true." She couldn't help but glance at Marisa. "Currently."
Marisa shrugged. "It's not like anyone in Gensoukyo who can afford diamonds actually needs them. I might be able to trade Kourin for something, but that's always hit or miss."
The four travelers were heading into the fringe shopping areas, where the restaurants didn't overcharge for food and it was less crowded. "So what is this experiment you were planing on doing anyway? Is it something about the atmosphere or what?"
"Hey! It's you! That crazy witch!" Alice froze. She recognized that voice. This was bad.
Moving through the crowd were two familiar magicians. One was wearing the traditional black witch outfit with a large bow on the back, the other was wearing white and had small angel wings on her back.
Marisa, ever the diplomat, was quick to respond, "I'm not a crazy witch. I'm perfectly ordinary."
Yuki seemed unconvinced, for good reasons. "Ordinary witches don't deliberately fly towards bullets in order to look cooler when they dodge!"
Marisa shrugged and grinned. "Well I have to compete with Reimu somehow. Besides I tried giving up on grazing once and it just didn't feel right."
Alice tried to edge back away and blend into the crowd. She didn't want her presence to be widely known. It would cause complications, and she wanted this to be a quiet shopping trip. Fortunately she had an ally in Marisa's normal annoyingly cheery nature.
Alice sighed. This was very bad.