Mai Fanfic Discussion
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Leebot
I'm starting off this thread as a place for readers of my fic, The Crimson Maiden, to talk about it with each other and speculate here. A few meta-hints from the author to start you off: -I'm intending for this to be a fair-play mystery. The characters won't hide any information from you about the case. In fact, you'll likely have more information than any one character. -I've put clues in the fic that are quite subtle. Some will take cross-referencing multiple chapters before a true clue emerges. -You can safely rule out any character that hasn't been mentioned in the fic so far. I might just chime in with some other meta-hints if a good discussion gets going. Just a little encouragement for you. ;)
4/23/2012 #1
DezoPenguin
Well, that's one very valuable meta-hint right there: we can start crossing off the Usual Suspects (*ahem* Tomoe, Nagi, Reito...). Mind you, there's a lot of wiggle room between "rule out any character that hasn't been mentioned" and "easy answers." Especially in a story where magic is explicitly involved in the universe (though it does seem to function in a Magic A Is Magic A kind of fashion, there's also lots that plays around the fringes): for example, the Crimson Maiden might be Dream Shizuru, for all we know! (And when you get right down to it, if there's a Dream Shizuru and Dream Natsuki, mightn't there also be a Dream Haruka, a Dream Mai, and the like?) Hopefully some of your other readers have keener minds than me and can start putting the pieces together... @_@
4/23/2012 #2
Leebot
Hehe, don't put yourself down! You have quite a keen mind. Also, one more meta-hint I forgot: -I won't lie to you in the narration, although characters may lie. Which is to say, you can trust the text, but not necessarily quotes from characters. So I say character X thinks Y, you can trust that I'm not lying to you. If I say they say Y, then it's possible they're lying.
4/24/2012 #3
DezoPenguin

Which is a good thing! Of course, there's a distinct difference between you not lying and you not using the truth to create a false impression...for example, consider John Dickson Carr's The Nine Wrong Answers, where a piece of narration was absolutely true...just not what it meant. (Actually, your post reminds me a lot of The Nine Wrong Answers...)

Actually, I will ask outright for a third meta-hint: Given that this story went on a two-year hiatus before you resumed it, have the identity, motive, and methods of the Crimson Maiden all remained the same from before? I only mention that from long experience of my own work where I've ended up putting a story down, then picking it up and making rather substantial changes to my originally imagined storyline.

4/24/2012 #4
Leebot

Hmm, well that's a bit complicated to answer. I certainly intend to keep everything consistent, and I have a good memory for this kind of thing, but it is possible that I slipped up somewhere. I did read over what I've written before I started writing again, so I don't think I've changed anything. The fundamentals are certainly unchanged: The Maiden's identity certainly hasn't changed, her core motivations are unchanged (though some details that don't contradict anything I've written may have changed). As for methods, the rules for how magic works have evolved a bit since I wrote the earlier parts (mostly the specifics of the duelspace spell), but I don't think it should affect the core mystery. Specifics of what the Maiden is doing and how she's doing it are basically the same as before.

Hope that made sense. ;)

4/24/2012 #5
DezoPenguin

Okay, time to start with the cast list as they're mentioned!

Erstin Ho, Mai Tokiha, Natsuki Kruger (1), Midori (3), Sara Gallagher, Irina Woods, Akane Soir, Mikoto Minagi, Miss Maria, Yukino Chrysant, Nao Zhang, Shizuru Viola, Chie, Aoi Senoh, Haruka Armitage (4), Aldric Kruger, Saeko Kruger (5), Shiho Huit, S (6), Shinso, the Oracle, Chloe, Adriana Massala (7), Shiro, Youko, Lena Sayers, Kazuya (8), Arika Sayers, Akira (9), Laura Bianchi

Chapter 1: The end sequence definitely states that a girl is masquerading as the Maiden and that she dueled Mai. I note that this does not necessarily mean that Mai's story of that duel is true, merely that *a* duel took place.

Chapter 2 reference by Natsuki: "She'd heard stories of what happened to a girl who angered the Crimson Maiden..." Here's another piece feeding into where my impression of the Maiden as a villain came from. It's interesting in going back through the story to find these little tidbits.

Chapter 6: S (probably Saeko Kruger, given the hints there) says that "someone" has concealed the Maiden's identity--not necessarily that the Maiden did it herself. Probably this was the roots of my thought that the Maiden was more than one person. Similarly, if someone else is helping the Maiden in a support role, it gives the Maiden access to extra magic, etc. Dream Shizuru's appearance (and her striking down the Maiden) reminds me of the "lucid dreaming" spell in the Maiden's second letter to Natsuki, suggesting that perhaps rather than letting the Maiden dream of Natsuki, it allowed the Maiden to project herself *into* Natsuki's dream and control it. [ah...this is confirmed in Sara's report in Ch. 11, at least that Natsuki said it was that kind of spell] Mai's story of Coral and Pearl is interesting, because it presents an origin story for the Maiden, but simultaneously it could be a lie: either S lied in telling it to Mai, or Mai is lying when she's telling it to the reader (since that section is in Mai's voice, not the narrator's)...

Chapter 9: The crib sheet on the magic system here...looks like a good resource to remember. Hmmm, Arika's notes *specifically state that Illusion magic can create false memories* which given the crap that Yukino's been through may shed some light on that. We already know that the Maiden has access to illusion magic in order to look like the Maiden, after all. For the end segment, I'm going to guess that "His Highness" is Takumi, as a parallel to his and Akira's roles in My-Otome...what I wonder is, what with the parallelisms to the My-HiME plot mentioned in Fuuka (and seriously, how much are these Shinsos like Crystal Princess Magic Battery Mashiro, anyway??), is the specific mention of Midori's name! Coincidence...or reincarnation...or something else... ??? Scary few paragraphs there, seriously.

Chapter 10: Where did Mai's mother get that stone from? Does it connect with the Fuuka disaster?

Chapter 11: The "Sisterhood of the Crimson Flame"...where did Yukino learn this name from? Chapter 14 tells us that she never connected to Haruka's computer, yet somehow thought she found evidence that Haruka was the Maiden...

Chapter 12: You know, there's absolutely nothing in this chapter to say that the Maiden actually laid a hand on Yukino. Yukino can't actually remember a thing about it, so it's entirely possible that the Maiden's past reputation and her own expectations have led her to believe what happened, but something else happened entirely. And since Yukino is (or was) a virgin--a point specifically made in this chapter--it's possible that she's ignorant of how she'd feel after sex, so she can't even use her own body's feelings as evidence (her thoughts are quite vague on this point).

Which brings me to my Chapter 14 wild-ass guess as to the Maiden's identity: It's Dream Shizuru and Dream Natsuki (or, more specifically, it's Dream Shizuru possessing Midori). My really wild theory construct is this: after the deaths of the My-HiME Natsuki and Shizuru, the dream incarnations went slightly crazy looking for each other, until they discovered Natsuki and Shizuru's reincarnations in this world, in Zipang in the 800s. In trying to "connect" with "themselves," they were the ones who brought about the instability of Fuuka's Shinso, which in turn began to infect the Fuuka students with their own memories of the HiME festival (this is why the Obsidian Lord's name came up...a name, significantly, that was mentioned only in one other place, by Dream Shizuru). Nao bringing the Shadow Spinel to Garderobe (I'm making another wild guess here, that the Shadow Spinel is itself connected to Fuuka) was the trigger that brought the Dream Selves there as well, and they are once again attempting to draw Shizuru and Natsuki together. The Crimson Maiden's purpose here is for the sake of driving the "real" Natsuki into the arms of the "real" Shizuru through her threats and emotional pressure (indeed, this may also be, as a peripheral matter, her motive towards manipulating Yukino). S's Coral/Pearl story about the Maiden's background matches nicely with Takumi's dug-up Fuuka record story of the Cobalt Wolf/Crimson Maiden duel, and if Fuuka used the same system then the Wolf could have been Pearl and the Maiden Coral, so the Maiden's origin story could be in the past. I'm choosing Midori as the Maiden's "vessel" (she herself being asleep at the time) based on her connection to Fuuka and her generally spastic nature. Completely off-the-wall, I know, but frankly it was too much fun not to come out and suggest it. ^_^

4/28/2012 #6
Linnara

Well, then I'll take my chances. My guess is that Shizuru is the Crimson Maiden. Not Dream Shizuru, but Viola Shizuru. That's why I think it may be true:

Chapter 2: "Crimson Maiden to Natsuki about dreams: It is no substitute for reality, but I do expect to quite enjoy myself with your counterpart in my dreams." Chapter 9 states: "Since meeting Natsuki, I've been having dreams about her..." Another spot of blood appeared below Shizuru's nose, but it was quickly sniffed back up. "Some of which were a bit... intimate." That makes her suspicious I would say.

Chapter 3: "Mai: I got cocky, thought I'd figured out who she was. Tried an unmasking spell, but I was wrong..." Mai made a guess and failed. So it had to be someone Mai didn't anticipate or know at that time... that makes Shizuru still a possibility while decreasing the chance of the Maiden being someone Mai knows.

Chapter 4: "Eye color can be a pretty weak indicator of who the real person is, and you'd have to get a very good look to be able to make a positive identification." Knowing Shizuru... well, that would be a risk she could and would take. While fighting, it would prove very hard to tell if they are brown or red with the Maidens Theme being all about red and flames. It's possible she has more than one 'maintained features', like: "Other girls here have big breasts too. Shizuru, Haruka Armitage." It would make dispelling harder and maintaining the illusion easier. That means more concentration on the actual fight, since the Maiden doesn't use any Elements or Kiyohime.

Chapter 5: Shizuru meets Natsuki for the first time. It could as well be the Maiden coming to Natsuki in person, to see for herself the person who declined her 'invitation' twice. Especially Chapter 6 describes something fitting to Shizuru with the background story of the Crimson Maiden: She could have everyone, but chooses not to. The one she wanted she didn't get. Being a romantic (it was stated) Shizuru could've fallen for Natsuki even before they met. And from the time she and Natsuki were together, the Crimson Maiden stopped harassing her victim and moved on. Why? Well...

It gets interesting where Shizuru was on a date with Natsuki while strange things happened to Yukino. What if what Natsuki saw wasn't Shizuru? What if that was nothing at all? For all we know, Natsuki could've been deceived by Shizuru for the sake of getting off the list of suspects. I mean, Chapter 9 states: "Illusion: Faking out your opponent with false images, sounds, whatever really. Even false memories if you're really good, though that's completely evil if done on someone else" By Shizuru's logic not to harm Natsuki could as well mean to lead the investigation nowhere, preventing everyone from finding out about her. Natsuki never finding out is a safer bet than hoping for forgiveness.

That's it for now. I decided to go with an easy explanation at first, avoiding going into detail with my thoughts about the Maiden being more than one person (even being some sort of clandestine association) etc. 'Keep it small and simple' my former teacher once said. :-)

5/8/2012 #7
Leebot

Thanks for joining in, Linnara! I won't comment too much, but I will note that there's at least one thing you haven't taken into account relating to your suspicions (or at least, didn't mention taking into account). I'm not making any comment on how right you are or aren't, but just on the chain of logic, note.

One other meta-hint for everyone: The mystery will be solvable by someone in the story, and that person most likely won't have access to all the knowledge readers do. (Which then implies that not everything you know is critical for solving the mystery.)

5/8/2012 #8
Akira Sasaki

I'm tempted to say it's Miyu, just for the heck of it, but that itself seems too far-fetched seeing as she hasn't even been mentioned once in the story. Haha.

I've looked through the wiki list of characters a couple of times and still haven't been able to make up my mind. I'm leaning towards fellow Linnara's guess at the moment, but I have a feeling you are probably not going to make it that easy for us readers.

If it's truly a sisterhood, then Tomoe Shiho would make a pretty funny and scary combo.

For now, I'm just going to back up a bit and see the bigger picture.

5/15/2012 #9
DezoPenguin

Hey, Linnara, nice to see someone else joining the thread! _ Now I, myself, need to sort things out.

So, let's start with my deductions: (1) Garderobe is beginning to succumb to the same effect, or a variant thereof, that befell Fuuka in the past. That's not exactly Sherlock Holmes-level brilliance to conclude that at this point. _- (2) Whatever this...let's call it "influence"...is, it's connected to the HiME Festival and the defeat of the Obsidian Lord (which, technically, means that this isn't an AU My-Otome fic, it's a continuation-within-canon My-HiME fic!). (3) That somehow, some way, during the Fuuka incident, the initial infected person managed to sublimate the influence so that rather than being satisfied with battle between HiME "role-players," it instead turned that influence sexual. In fact, this explains a lot about the Crimson Maiden's actions: they combine *both* the desire for conflict *and* the desire for sex, and she's as much interested in a good fight being put up as she is in the end result. It also explains why people like Midori and Akane are behaving strangely in a sexual way.

(4) That the Crimson Maiden, whomever she is, is the equivalent of the "first girl" in the Fuuka legend in Chapter 16. That is, she was the first to succumb to the influence and is carrying out the HiME-based roleplay within Garderobe.

And now to the stuff I don't know:

(1) Is the "real world" identity of the Maiden merely being acted on by a nebulous force, or does this influence have a specific spiritual identity? For example, if I draw a comparison to My-HiME, is this similar to how within the Festival, everyone's emotions seemed to be enhanced and played upon, not merely by the actual stress of the situation or the manipulative effect of Nagi and Mashiro pushing people in different directions, but by some actual force that made most everyone act wildly over-the-top in different ways (see, eg: Nao, Shizuru, Shiho, to say nothing of the very literal mental influence the Obsidian Prince seemed to be able to exert over Mikoto).

(2) Does the Maiden even know she's the Maiden when she's, well, not being the Maiden? If it's spirit possession--and the spirit is a master of memory charms, as we're pretty convinced she is by now--could the possessing spirit be using such charms on her possessed self to make, say, Mai not even know she's the Maiden? This question is intriguing when compared to the cliffhanger ending of Chapter 18... Under those circumstances, *Yukino* could actually be the Crimson Maiden herself, with the duel scene being her own false memory!

(3) Or is it all a giant red herring? That is to say, could the dark forces, etc., be centering on Garderobe and *not* be what's happening with the Crimson Maiden? Agatha Christie always loved to layer in multiple crimes in her novels. Just because the influence is real and presents an emergency that needs to be dealt with doesn't necessarily mean that it's at all germane to what we're considering. That would be a kick in the head to my detective prowess!

(4) And, of course, the big question: who actually *is* the girl under the mask?? And if it's Shizuru, exactly how much groveling will it take for Natsuki to ever speak to her again? _-

I noted, incidentally, that when Natsuki was writing out her deductions in Chapter 18, she made a very interesting assumption: that memory charms do not work outside of Garderobe, and therefore Mai's co-worker and Natsuki and Shizuru's waitress could not be under magical influence. I'm not sure why that would be automatically true (though there may be a simple point mentioned in an earlier chapter to explain it, such as the extent of the Shinso's influence does not extend into Windbloom), but two things within the story itself counteract that assumption. First off, there's Nao's Shadow Spinel, which apparently was able to create a magical "hotspot" that moved around with it, letting Nao operate as the Oracle. Secondly, the Princess's possession experience--if real--suggests that the "influence" may be spreading beyond Garderobe, which in turn would mean that the Maiden might be able to use magic more freely than Natsuki suspects. Certainly, the Maiden's power level is considerably higher than her possessed self, unless Lena is the Maiden (she's got the power level and the, well, bustline for it, which makes me wonder why she hasn't even been *mentioned* as a suspect--and she was mentioned several times early in the story, so she's on the "restricted suspects" cast list). Haruka's alibi seems much more sound, simply because if she can mind-zap every single person in a meeting to believe whatever she wants them to believe, then the Maiden's powers stop being within the realm of "mystery story" and move into virtual reality warper (no, she can't change reality, but at that point literally everything that's happened in the fic could be a magical VR construct if she's that powerful at wide-range mind-screwing). So I'm inclined to cross her off the list for meta-story reasons.

I will note that if the Maiden turns out to be Miss Maria, I will probably injure myself from how hard I laugh.

5/15/2012 #10
Leebot

Heh, well it's an alternate universe in-story, but still alternate. :P

A few random notes/hints for people here, to thank you for participating:

1) Just so you don't think it's a retcon later, don't assume that legend about Fuuka is perfectly accurate. It was one person's (poetic) interpretation of what happened, not a scholarly work.

2) I did note previously in the fic (and imply in various places) that students can't use magic outside Garderobe, which includes most of Windbloom. Nao's hotspot is the only known exception to this. But what does it imply if Nao is the one casting memory charms?

3) As I mentioned previously, this will be solvable by someone in story, and quite soon. This implies that information that none of the investigators know isn't going to be needed to solve the mystery (though it may still be relevant).

5/16/2012 #11
Dragonmaster352

hey every onefirst of all I'm going to state a few of my assumptions

1) I believe the Crimson Maiden is related to the Carnival at Fuuka in some form or another, don't ask me how exactly because I don't know.

2) the Shinso is the same as in Mai-Otome meaning it is basicly Fumi (aka: F), based on the information provided by the story and quotes from Dream Shizuru

3) the Maiden is fully aware of her actions and who she is, based on the last part of the prologue and the letters written by her and her dialog

4) the only persons in the story that can really be excluded from any and all suspicions are the characters that made their first appearance after chapter 12: sakura sunset and Natsuki

second a list of questions that arose in my head

1) is it posible that the Crimson Maiden isn't actualy dueling herself but that the image observed by the victims is an illusion and that the Maiden herself is just hiding somewhere on the sideline observing, either inside or out of the duelspace

2) if the above is in fact the case, might that be enough for unmasking spells to fail

third some speculation (just some trails of thought not specificly my own)

1) the actual Maiden isn't on the suspect list (yet)

2) the Maiden is actualy one of the investigators

3) the "Sisterhood of the Crimson Flame" could imply the Maiden is actualy multiple people

and finaly my suspect

Fumi, meaning the Shinso either possessing a student (one or several of the characters or maybe even a random one), using some unknown technic or using one (or several) of the characters as some sort of relay for the distinctive features and/or magical power

5/16/2012 #12
Leebot

Oh yes, one more vague hint:

-There's one important clue which can only be found by cross-referencing a couple of points made in two different chapters. So you aren't searching blindly, I'll say that it somehow involves Yukino, and this clue might be easier for a character in the story to notice than for a reader.

5/16/2012 #13
Dragonmaster352

ok i've been doing some rereading and brainstorming

that and the clue that was so generously by Leebot-sama right above this led me to believe some important things

1) Nao has a chrush on Yukino (SHOCK) why do i think this? in chapter 3 Mikoto points out that Nao is watching their group and that it started just when Yukino joined them. now i know that alone isn't enough to base something like that on and it may look like it has nothing to do with the actual Crimson Maiden which leads me to number two

2) Yukino didn't duel the actual Crimson Maiden it was actually a copy-cat. You guessed it: Nao. stay with me now, as an illusionist Yukino isn't the strongest one of the group yet she was able to land not one but several blows to the "Maiden" who until then only got hit by Mai. that and the suggestion the Maiden has dueled a large number of students, it's logical to assume there must have been other illusionists, perhaps stronger or maybe even smarter than Yukino, that were not able to hit her. that still not being enough to provide conclusive evidence or relevance to all this leads me to number tree

3) at the end of chapter 11 Shizuru was very shocked when Haruka confronted her claiming she raped Yukino. WHY? there being little to no OOC-ness in the story, should she not have acted concerned or at least less shocked? BUT. what if she was in fact the "real" Crimson Maiden, would she not be shocked that some one copied her?

ok i know this is all a bit far fetched, but did Yukino and Natsuki check if the hand writing on there letters from the Crimson Maiden matched? or has there been any explanation to why Shizuru was so incredibly shocked or her choosing to help Yukino find out if anything happened, other than the convinient excuse of her being a "former" suspect? and if your still wondering about what happened to Yukino after the duel to cause her to stay. in accordance with previously stated points that was probably Nao confessing to Yukino and likely a long conversation after that.

while i know this is in contradiction with my previous speculation and statements, i consider this a plausible chain of thought. also this is easier to figure out by one of the characters and unlike a reader a character could actually compare handwriting also in accordance with the clue provided by Leebot-sama

needless to say i think this is an amazing story that without a doubt must be incredibly hard to write without giving too much clues.

5/17/2012 #14
Oaden

Nao's crush could very easily be Mai, I have 3 reasons for this. First, Yukino would attend the study break, 2: Mai joined the table the same time as natsuki, 3: leebot likes the pairing.

What this implies however, i don't know.

What is important however, is the clue that one person can figure it out knowing less than us. Meaning one character has a unique piece of intell (or a combination of intel) that the rest of the cast has no access to. Most information is shared instantly, So it would be something private or something embarrassing. for instance, no one but Natsuki seems to know about Nao's mother.

And of course, there is a spirit interested in yukino's virginity. That seems weird and relevant.

5/21/2012 #15
Leebot

...First, Yukino would attend the study break...

I'll comment on this point, just because it's one of those things the characters will all know, but which I didn't make very obvious in the fic. Check chapter 10 ("Crimson Snare," which is 11 with the site's numbering, since it numbers my prologue as 1). To quote a line from there:

Sara's eyes shot over to Irina nervously. Was she in on this as well? At least Mikoto seemed innocent of all this, judging by her look. Unfortunately, Natsuki and Yukino weren't around right now - Yukino had class this period, and Natsuki always had one excuse or another. They would have been able to back Mai up if they were here. They knew Mai as well as anyone, and she was sure they'd vouch for her.

If anyone has any other questions about information that the characters will know, but I didn't mention (or you can't remember me mentioning), feel free to ask.

5/21/2012 #16
ZonaRose

Okay, I guess it's time I put my two cents worth in here. I know in my reviews I've been throwing around a lot of different characters, including ones that have not been mentioned. But here's my hypothesis on the situation. After careful consideration of the above conversations. I'm starting to think that it is more than just one person. Yes, but I'm thinking it may be all of them with maybe the exception of Ms. Maria or Natsuki.

Why?

Here is the reasoning for my above statement; what if the spirit that is possessing the girls or women, if the faculty have been also possessed is a man. The Obsidian Lord was very much into manipulating in the original series so who's to say that he isn't the one also coming to this dimension or universe to manipulate these girls like he tried to do in the other one. That would explain the tenacity of the Crimson Maiden. I also think he's using different girls, so that the true identity of the Crimson Maiden stays secret. But the other spirits from his own dimension or universe are starting to cause problems. So I think he may end up stepping things up a bit. What I would be worried about is if he ends up possessing one person and not letting go of that person. Which would result in a conflict with Natsuki if it ends up being Shizuru that he's possessing at the time.

Now, I do believe there was a copycat episode of the Crimson Maiden and that was the one with Yukino in it. As it has been speculated she did not lose her virginity to the Crimson Maiden. Which is caused me to be suspicious that that was a copycat not the real thing.

Okay now you can all pick this apart, if you want to, but this is what I think is going on, especially with the Princess being in contact with her old self from the other dimension or universe being mentioned in the last chapter.

5/21/2012 #17
Oaden

I have played with the idea but it seems to be countered by the prologue.

This left the Maiden with the task to pick out a new opponent who might be worthy of her. It had seemed hopeless at first, until she overheard an offhand comment about a certain girl. Mai had been complaining about an antisocial girl who she'd nevertheless befriended, and she'd let it slip that this girl was actually something of a prodigy in battle. Recognizing the referenced girl as a particularly delectable morsel she'd spotted a number of times while they were both studying privately in the library, the Maiden made her choice.

This is from the PoV of the maiden, a person that was privately studying in the library at the same time Natsuki did. If he possessed, he would have to do so for longer periods of time to actually start studying in the library.

5/22/2012 #18
DezoPenguin

I wonder about the technical definition of the way illusion glamour works...because I'm suddenly wondering about Robes. The prologue specifically refers to a Robe being worn, and if the "one true aspect" being preserved can be extended to something the person is wearing (such as, if Yukino wore a red dress, then used an illusion on herself so that it looked like Haruka was wearing the same dress, that kind of thing), then I am suddenly reminded that in My-Otome canon, the Galactica Marine's Robe in fact incorporates a mask. *squints at Sara*

Leebot's comment that one clue would be easier for the characters to pick up on than us is quite intriguing, since it suggests that something about our perspective is getting in the way: either the characters' familiarity with the setting would lead them to know something easily that we'd have to pick up on from one or two passing references in the text, or instead that the tropes of mystery writing are being used against us. :)

One thing I wonder about is the "Coral and Pearl" story about the Maiden's origins. I suggested earlier that this might refer to their Fuuka incarnations, but if it's the literal truth then it might go a number of ways, but in any case it would imply a case of two characters tied together somehow. (For example, the story works perfectly if Shizuru is Pearl and Tomoe Coral, with Tomoe trying to carry out her obsession with Shizuru and getting turned down after getting beaten, and then becoming the Crimson Maiden to try and, essentially, replace her onee-sama figure. The catch there is that Tomoe is not in fact *in* this story (except as a likely candidate for the one-off reference "T" as the girl who intentionally lost to the Maiden). Midori and Youko also fit. This is where Nao definitely *doesn't* fit, simply because she's a complete loner; the idea of her having a powerful crush on someone else leaves my head shaking--she can't be Coral (she might be Pearl in the story, though, but again that's pretty OOC for Nao...honestly, the entire idea of Nao *liking* the quality of the *fight* and holding to principles, even twisted principles, of "fair play" is just not Nao-like at all, which ultimately is why I can't see Nao as being the Crimson Maiden unless her personality is being completely drowned by an external force). Another point is that if half the Coral and Pearl pair is the Maiden, the *other* half may well recognize that, and might have been the one to set everything up with Yukino in order to try to reveal the Maiden indirectly although she was being blocked from revealing it directly.

(I also wish there was some was to point to Anh being in this story somewhere. Now *there's* someone I could see as the Maiden without any trouble at all, and she's even got the bustline for it. Chie's another option there, though a very dark-horse candidate...)

5/22/2012 #19
Oaden

The behaviour of the maiden really doesn't match any of the suspects. Nao spends her nights working to pay of her mother but also runs a elaborate ruse to mess with girls? Midori seems far to impulsive for the careful planning, haruka is possibly the worst match, to brash, to honest, far to direct. Shizuru to busy with Natsuki, and why continue to pursue her and ruin the relationship with Natsuki?

I suggest something causes someone to act out of character, the Maiden only strikes at night, so maybe a every elaborate method of sleepwalking?

Anyway, have you noticed that Yukino informed no one that she landed a hit on the crimson maiden?

5/23/2012 #20
DezoPenguin

Okay, since we get one guess (and believe me, I'm definitely guessing at this point; my Sherlock-Holmesian attempts to sort the wheat of important information from the chaff of red herrings is failing miserably; I'm adrift on a sea of theories) per day, let me begin with the person who's been the Most Obvious Suspect since somewhere around the Prologue, Shizuru Viola.

Obviously, she has the magical power (as a high-ranked Crystal student) to be the Maiden, and her red eyes could serve as the one intact feature under the glamour (and in terms of the internal logic of the setting wouldn't be a dead giveaway since the Maiden's entire color scheme is bright red).

Psychologically speaking, the Shizuru that we know from her romance with Natsuki's romance does not fit with the Maiden's behavior. Yet I am prompted to remember when I first reviewed one of Leebot's earlier fics, "Oneesama," where I observed that Shizuru-the-Pearl's overtly sexually-harassing Natsuki on their first meeting out of character and he kindly pointed me to the Drama CD track where he'd extracted that particular scene from canon and was developing and expanding on it for the fic (I rather thought he was being kind in not calling me eighty kinds of dumbass for saying he was being OOC when he was in fact taking from canon!). So it's not at all impossible to consider that a pre-Natsuki Shizuru might show exactly that kind of behavior towards girls that she was interested in (especially if her tendencies towards sexual aggressiveness were being enhanced by the dark influences that seem to be revisiting Garderobe from Fuuka), and from a personality standpoint she's exactly the kind of person who would relish a challenge, the whole pursuit-and-capture routine. Moreover, when we consider the likely involvement of a spirit and the rampant use of memory charms in what's going on, it's entirely possible that Shizuru does not even know she is the Maiden. It's even possible that Shizuru cast a memory charm on herself to destroy her own memory of *being* the Maiden because she had a weak moment, considering it a shameful secret to hide and wanting to conceal her guilt (in which case it's the spirit that's continuing as the Maiden).

The major hitch in the Shizuru-as-Maiden theory is that she is alibied for the Yukino duel. When, however, we consider the multiple uses of memory charms that Yukino was undergoing during that day, and the fact that when all was said and done Yukino was not touched by the Maiden, the answer comes: Yukino never fought the Crimson Maiden. Everything was, in fact, illusion--indeed, the "Maiden" that distracted Irina was possibly cast *by Yukino* under the influence of the charm. Basically, if the false memory was set up in Yukino to believe that Haruka was the Maiden, she would then go through a wide variety of actions to help Haruka...and then wake up after the alleged duel having no idea what *really* went on. Meanwhile, Shizuru would be happily out on her date with Natsuki, firmly alibied.

The identity of the spirit assisting Shizuru in her actions is up in the air, ranging from Dream Natsuki (unlikely, if we are to believe what Dream Shizuru said to Natsuki in Chapter 18 (19 in this site's posting)) to the Obsidian Prince (which, well...we certainly know how the Obsidian Prince has yanked on Shizuru's chain in the past, since My-HiME is part of this continuity), to someone or something I haven't yet thought of. But I'm sure that regardless of the Maiden's identity, that it'll take several chapters before the issue of the greater problem lurking behind her manifestation is wrapped up.

So, that's Guess #1. Since I'm not too confident in it (and since, honestly, Shizuru being the Maiden would be the least satisfying result possible), I'll be sure to have more theories between now and the end of the month!

5/24/2012 #21
Oaden

Then i will add my daily guess and go for.... Midori

While she is currently hitting on Youko, their relationship is not established. She got the Hair, she ain't got the alibi and as i've just noticed. She avoids using her handwriting. She claims this is due to poor penmanship, but for the purpose of this guess, I'm calling that a lie to cover up so no one notices the similarities. Despite her natural behavior she used to be her teacher and i can imagine her telling Natsuki she needs to let go more.

As for the spell that blocks people and spirit from talking about it, i think she is cooperating with nao and uses her gem for that purpose, if Nao still known this with all the memory charms going on i don't know. Naturally even if she knew, it is unlikely she would risk her precious memento.

5/24/2012 #22
DezoPenguin

Today's Guess #2 isn't likely to get me very far, because even if I'm right Kyzano already did the job of enumerating the evidence against Shiho in her review, posted before this post, so I'd lose out even if today's guess is right. ;

In addition to those points, I'll note that Shiho is the one character in the series for whom the hair could actually be disguised. It was noted by Yukino in chapter 4(3) that if the Maiden was using her hair as the "maintained feature," the additional illusion on it for flamelike movement would cause the illusion to be dispelled (which point the characters seem to have forgotten about, if they're running around suspecting Nao and Midori because of their red hair). But Shiho...well, do we all remember back in My-HiME where, although it was played for comedy, Shiho's tentacle-hair would actually start coming to life and grabbing people? (For example, ep. 26, after Mai gets the triple-confession, we can see Shiho's hair attempting to strangle Tate.) If Leebot's taking this literally, then pink-haired spiral girl could be using her hair as her maintained feature by pulling out her hairbands and letting it fall loose and do its thing. And as the top channeler, Shiho would be routinely throwing her mind out into the spirit world where the Obsidian Lord could grab ahold of it. Kyzano already noted Shiho's unusual sleep schedule as well as her obsessive personality and lack of an identifiable Element (heck, HiME Shiho's element was her flute, and Otome Shiho's a voodoo doll, neither of which seem the kind of thing to be pulled out in a one-on-one duel, but both of which emphasize "control and manipulation" as a theme for her powers).

5/25/2012 #23
DezoPenguin

Oh, one other point. While I noted in my review yesterday that I was firmly convinced that the possessing spirit was male, I neglected to consider a point: rather than the Obsidian Prince, it might be that the spirit in question is Nagi. Not only is he a manipulator and deceiver by nature, but his albino appearance gives him red eyes (okay, pink), so that he could be possessing the Maiden (see: how Shizuru started to look like S in Chapter 15(14)) and then using the eyes for an illusion.

Lastly, back to the topic of Shiho, I reference one line from S in that same chapter: "It was twisted, but S had a frightening sense that it would only be worse were it untwisted." Now, that might be a reference to how in the Fuuka legend they managed to redirect the Obsidian Prince's attentions from battle and death to sex (i.e. "twisting" its motivations), but it might also refer to how it was bound to the Maiden, and in that case, could "twisted" be an oblique reference to "spirals"? ;)

5/25/2012 #24
Leebot

A couple notes:

Yukino wasn't being perfectly clear with her comment about the additional illusion: That would only break the illusion if hairstyle were the maintained feature, not if hair color were the maintained feature. My bad for not making that clear enough.

Another my bad: I didn't fully reread the fic after my hiatus from it, which resulted with a retcon with who Mai thought the Maiden was. Chapter 3 mentioned that she thought it was Chie, but I "revealed" later that it was Anh. This isn't meant to be a deliberate discrepancy in her story, but rather a mistake on my part - I'd forgotten about that, and I didn't fully reread what I'd written before continuing the fic. For consistency, I'll snip out that part of the conversation from Chapter three, though leave it in the author's notes in case anyone wonders what has happened to it.

5/25/2012 #25
DezoPenguin

Ahh, so that explains why the characters didn't make a point of it; they followed the meaning of the explanation properly.

5/25/2012 #26
DezoPenguin

Back from a little Memorial Day Weekend family vacation for my wife's birthday, I shall make Guess #3: Mikoto. I've already discussed this a bit earlier, but basically this boils down to the fact that in My-HiME, Mikoto served as the Obsidian Prince's minion, being mentally influenced in a similar way to how I believe the Crimson Maiden is being influenced. That forms a natural connection between the two which might make Mikoto the first person who might succumb to the Prince's influence. Moreover, it's certainly within Mikoto's personality to enjoy a good fight (and, frankly, not to be interested in the sex at all), and the fact that her battle with Mai was the height of her enjoyment certainly suits Mikoto right down to a T. Also, she's a member of the study group, so she certainly would be able to be drawn to Natsuki.

There's two big objections to Mikoto as the Maiden, though: I have no idea what her "retained feature" in the Maiden's illusion could be, and she completely does not fit the "Pearl and Coral" origin story told by S; there's no way at all Mikoto could be Coral, and even being Pearl is a little OOC for her; I can see her as the Maiden under the influence of the sexualized HiME influence, but not having...well, honestly, *any* interest in sexual D&S games, not even the momentary way Pearl succumbed, on her own.

5/28/2012 #27
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