Author Topic: EXcuse plot (working title)  (Read 2168 times)

EXcuse plot (working title)
« on: August 25, 2011, 03:17:07 AM »
Title is an artifact. This fic is inspired by this webcomic by KimikoMuffin and the following Danbooru pool:

Let us begin....

Chapter 1: Immutable Cherry Blossom

It was a secret that would shake the very foundations of Gensokyo. Its disclosure threatened generations of hard-won peace. Upheaval would be inevitable; the aftermath would truly deserve the title of Revolution.

Reimu of Hakurei was bored with danmaku.

She had grown tired of the patterns thrown at her day in, day out. The only reliable source of surprises were Marisa Kirisame and *Stage 5 Bosses*. All the rest were so bland that Reimu yearned for the hazily-remembered days in which she could *bomb* opponents into submission with raw spiritual power. She was tired of how the spellcard rules not only dictated what she could do but also what she could think. Her intuition told her that her days of straddling the border of life and death for a living existed; but the links between such a life and the present were tenuous at best.

She had faced most of another incident. She was already chafing at its similarity to the earlier Scarlet Mist incident; the first three *Stages* were wastes of time, while the fourth was somehow relevant to the item of concern. The fifth *Stage* consisted of a zealously loyal servant, who would inevitably segue into a more powerful mistress.

Still, Reimu excelled at what she did. She wove through Youmu Konpaku's increasingly dense shots without trepidation, firing off wave after wave of amulets and ofuda all the while. Her movements were precise and measured, carrying her to safety while keeping her target within the firing arc of the amulets.

Reimu was not alone in her fight. Youmu was also being assailed by torrents of knives and magic missiles. Sakuya Iyazoi and Marisa had also set out to solve this incident.

Youmu, for her part, resisted the onslaught, a plethora of wards outright deflecting most incoming projectiles. Shots that bypassed this first layer were parried by her two blades.

However, Youmu, true to her post, stood her ground (in the air), moving to control the motion of the intruders instead of avoiding projectiles. She was like a rock in a waterfall; though seemingly impervious, her defenses were incrementally weathered away until her wards finally failed. With one last parry, Youmu turned and fled to her mistress.

Yuyuko Saigyouji stood at the base of the Saigyou Ayakashi. The ancient tree was surrounded by a sinister air of vitality, the unmistakable life found in the eyes of hungry tigers. Youmu emptied a final bag of glowing cherry petals into the tree's roots, where they were absorbed. After a pregnant pause, she turned to her mistress.

"Lady Yuyuko, more spring essence is necessary."

"Then we shall borrow some from our guests," responded Yuyuko, pulling out a spellcard.

Then, she took said spellcard and tore it in half.
Sakuya did not find the display unnerving as Reimu and Marisa did. Thus, she was caught off-guard by the unchecked tide of malice that roared into her mind following the local suspension of the Spell Card rules.

The powerful magic that followed could only be described as a wave of cold, merciless death. Sakuya noticed the fingers of her right hand curling in a parody of rigor mortis despite the continued beating of her heart; her left, on instinct, had already activated her stopwatch. Despite the cessation of time, the magic continued to operate, the ignored fire across her chest and face turning into an icy chill. Immediately, Sakuya tried to cut losses, but the hand that held the watch was already afflicted. Extrapolating from the rate of spread, Sakuya estimated three minutes before the magic would completely envelop her.

She inverted the settings of her stopwatch; though stilling the world was often more useful, the cessation of time within a small area was used often enough to warrant the inclusion of such a function. In a moment, she was on the ground, her body an immovable post in the flow of time.
Reimu choked back a cry of surprise when the tide of death washed over her barriers. She was expending energy at an alarming rate, feeling drained five seconds into the onslaught. Each ward she summoned was torn away almost instantaneously, doing almost nothing to staunch the advance of the chills that ran through her bones, a chill that left fingers unusable and arms sluggish.

Reimu instinctively knew but did not acknowledge that the chill was death, distilled into some exquisite liquor that seeped into her body and mind drop by drop, a late baptism for her first trip into the netherworld.

The chill seemed to slow as her arms stopped moving. Reimu's pulse slowed. Marisa's shoe fell to the ground far too slowly, and Reimu realized that she was somehow perceiving the world far faster than before. As her gaze returned to her hands, still frozen at some indeterminate point in the process of summoning amulets, she noticed strange threads dancing across her body, familiar despite their novelty.

This is the shape of this magic

The thought entered her mind unbidden but accompanied by an unshakable sense of certainty, as if she had uncovered this fact before and had tested it to her satisfaction.

She reached out to touch a thread. Despite being almost completely paralyzed, she caught it and held it firmly.
Marisa knew that the spellcard rules were not absolute. Forays into passive magic drawing from the environment revealed a much more lenient set of rules that shared their spirit of the written rules. As long as measures to prevent permanent harm were taken, allegedly illegal techniques continued to draw ambient power instead of fading. A sufficiently powerful or clever Youkai could make a show of breaking the rules to intimidate without being stopped as long as the rules written into the flows of magic were obeyed.

Therefore, the suspension of the rules were tantamount to killing intent.

Marisa had her mini-hakkero readied since Youmu's defeat. The moment Yuyuko stopped talking, Marisa had begun her spell.

Yuyuko's wave of death was a freezing touch that corroded Marisa's wards and stiffened her extremities, but the output of the magical furnace seemed to warm her, vitalistic flame fighting back otherworldly chill.

However, Marisa's Master Spark could not be fired indefinitely. The limitations imposed to make it a legal card on paper meant that it could continuously fire for no more than 20 seconds at maximum output. As the spell began to fade, Marisa felt the cold spreading faster than before.

Marisa fired again, this time without a spellcard. A column of flame emerged from her hakkero, which she attempted to aim before realizing that her eyes had closed. Her eyelids did not respond, leaving her blind as her ears were assailed by the roar of the untamed flames of the hakkero, which she aimed in what she believed to be the general direction of her assailant.

The warmth of the spell spread inwards, permeating skin and flowing through Marisa's veins. She felt stronger with each heartbeat.

At some point, the warmth became uncomfortable. Nausea followed, and Marisa's eyes began to open. She was struck by a sense of emptiness, as if her mind was suddenly too small for its throne in her skull.

Suffice to say, she was changed.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 03:24:36 AM by LogosOfJ »

Re: EXcuse plot (working title)
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 03:29:39 AM »
Any particular image in the pool?

Anyway, liked the story. Can't wait for chapter 2.

One thing though; a sentence in the first section feels like it reads weirdly.  Namely, this one:
Quote from:  "LogosOfJ"
She was tired of how the spellcard rules not only dictated what she could do but also interfering in her thoughts.
The "interfering" doesn't feel like it's in the same tense as the rest of the sentence.

Re: EXcuse plot (working title)
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2012, 02:23:49 PM »
Thanks, acrowdofpeople. To answer your question, no, but I am partial to mazeran's work.

This may be edit-completed later.

Each chapter proper gets its own title. If this does not end up orphaned (an increasingly likely prospect), it will be a long-runner.

Yeah, I have no sense of scale and a pitiful sense of mathematics. Please point out any and all errors/implausible figures that bother you.
Ran Yakumo reclined in an overstuffed armchair, browsing a tome. A nearby table supported a queue of more books as well as a metal tree, which in turn  supported stacks of blank paper, arrays of writing implements, tables of citations, and the occasional sealed package. The queue continued past the edge of the table into what appeared to be cubbyholes in the walls. Small lamps lined walkways through a forest-like library interspersed with trees very similar to the one currently used by Ran.

A klaxon's wail pierced the peace. Ran struggled to her feet, each moment drowsier than the last. Like every past occurrence, this noise frightened her.
Fear was not a weakness. Fear was the careful companion of every warrior that drew upon all resources to find and identify dangers.
Until she knew Yukari, Ran knew no fear worth remembering. Not even the trepidation that would come and go during the toughest battles (of her bloody swathe across what would become legends) matched the icy caress of Yukari's amused eyes. The faint smile that answered her ultimatum was, in retrospect, Ran's first taste of what her teachers and subordinates alike must have felt for her.
Unlike most of Ran's previous duels, her fight with Yukari escalated from a standstill instead of beginning explosively. Yukari was competent in hand to hand, managing to make Ran's offensive difficult but not impossible. Later...
Ran's natural curiosity led her to dabbling in some human arts. At her mistress's behest, she would later conduct further study. The clearest, most succinct descriptor of that event that she retroactively applied was a metaphor:
A locust decided to eat a rose one day. The thorns hindered its attempt, but the locust succeeded. However, the falling flower was actually carnivorous and was in fact the avatar of the horrifying gardener who owned the rose.
Ran did not consider that one her best work. However, any attempt to describe Yukari is ultimately an attempt to define her. Attempting to bind with categories a manipulator of boundaries is analogous to drawing a chalk outline while blindfolded around a still-living professor armed with water and a box of chalk. There will be a result, albeit an unsatisfactory one.
The more recent analogy was unsettling; it was evidence of the contact of her mistress's mind. Considering the unusual amount of time between the initial drowsiness and waking from the constructed dream world, Ran surmised that Yukari had either left her immobilized or assumed direct control in order to make deployment easier.
Oh, good. I'm no longer narrating in third person. Time to get to work.
I awoke in a concrete room without doors. I examined my garb. My usual robe was gone, replaced by an imported ballistic vest. A brigandine (rather light, presumably aluminum alloy and Kevlar) and pants of similar material were respectively punctuated by thick gloves and boots.

I knew that Yukari had access to a wide variety of "outside" equipment, so the absence of a bomb suit informed me that she did not foresee me facing explosive- or explosion- armed foes. The brigandine hinted at an enemy attacking through a large number of small, fast, material weapons or projectiles.

A helmet with a tinted-visor dropped out of the air and landed on my head. A cursory test with flame magic confirmed filtering of frequencies in and above UV range.

Of course, the array of non-magical armor hinted at a situation where I would be unable to spare enough magic for general and anti-physical protection. This left three main possibilities:

1) Antimagical environment: Self-explanatory. This would likely be a preemptive strike in an area outside of Gensokyo proper, considering the difficulties in neutralizing the background magical emission from the Great Barrier. An "active" antimagical field maintained by one or a number of casters would be vulnerable to Yukari's abilities and hence can be easily eliminated without my involvement.

2) High magical flux environment: Too much magic (more correctly, too much magical activity) can interfere with casting and maintaining spells. Though I am powerful enough to cast in situations that would permanently disable most Youkai, there are plenty of areas within Yukari's sphere of influence where relying on any form of magic will be less than ideal. However, the provided armor only has general magic-resisting wards as opposed to specialized plate-by-plate etchings, so this too is unlikely.

3) Magic-seeking opponents: Most magical or otherwise spell-capable beings have some method of sensing spells. Sensing other spell-capable beings that are not currently casting is more challenging but still trivial. Sensing other spell-capable beings not currently casting while avoiding detection by said spell-capable beings is in comparison extraordinarily difficult; the most reliable method relies on arrays of delicate equipment and rapid calculation (usually dedicated to shikigami) while the second most reliable method requires decades if not centuries of training and can permanently cripple spellcasting ability. However, passive magical sensors capable of communication can enable long-range (tens of kilometers, as insisted by Yukari) bombardment by allies.
However, these two methods can be defeated by limiting the magical presence of potential targets. Unfortunately, spellcasting itself is dependent on the ability to radiate and/or affect ambient magic, so said methods will also reduce the magic ability of the concealed being.
Some magical lifeforms with no or rudimentary intelligence seek out magic by instinct; these "pranatrophic" (a term I suspect Yukari fabricated) forms of life can be used as ad-hoc sensors. Pranatrophs can also be weaponized; as their complexity renders them difficult to dispatch, they can be used as hardened homing projectiles.

As I considered the possible scenarios, I browsed the armory. The only provided weapon was a chainsaw.

Not just any chainsaw, mind you. This rear-handled battery-operated implement was heavily enchanted, from its magic-resisting guide bar to its supernaturally-effective vibration dampening system. Each tungsten carbide tooth and chain link was magically reinforced. The teeth were etched with charms; the pattern was a repeating sequence of anti-regeneration, magical turbulence, keenness, aura-carrying (likely unused in this instance) and self-cleaning spells. The provided "batteries" were assemblies of capacitors and piezoelectric lightning foci. Erring on the side of caution, I pocketed five such cells as well as some less-efficient pyro- and thermo- electric units. In the meantime, unseen hands adorned me with a number of pouches. A cursory examination revealed imported incendiary grenades as well as Yukari's more recent inventions: her Mk. 3 fuel-air grenade (Mk. 1 was a mundane flour-based, while Mk. 2 used magic to create what was effectively a 32-liter sphere of gasoline-air mix. Mk. 3 returned to the 1st's non-magical specifications). The combination brought the phrase "slash and burn" to mind.

There was only one reasonable conclusion:

A tree attack.
A countdown flickered in the corner of the visor. The ground shifts from concrete to earth. I raise my armament while scanning my surroundings.

To my great surprise, I am not immediately menaced by malevolent shrubbery. Moreover, the magical background is odd; instead of the warmth that usually accompanies (among other things) overgrown magical life, there is a subtle chill.

A passing spirit informs me that I have been placed in the realm of the dead.

The chill intensifies for a moment; the sensation can only evoke death. A moment later, I sense a torrent of life magic; an intense pulse of IR radiation warms my tails.

I turn, and see a radiant column stretching across the horizon instead of a sun. A gnarled, leafless tree looms to my left, near a very familiar mansion.

A tree attack in Hakugyokurou.

And I begin to run.