Topic: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White  (Read 4209 times)

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Gappy

  • Oh...oh I was not ready for this.
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Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White
« on: February 26, 2012, 06:20:34 pm »
Author's Note: An attempt at making a nanowrimo fic safe for consumption. Please don't expect too much. Your head might explode. Please enjoy, if you can.

Rated T for strong language, racism (against youkai, humans, fairies, and pretty much anything that moves), graphic violence involving footballs and family jewels, substance abuse (mainly alcohol, tea and catnip), and other nasty things good little children shouldn't be reading.  Read at your own peril.

Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White

- Part 1 -
A Bittersweet Winter Sonata, A Youkai's Birth Shower, A Septette Dirge and Reincarnation of a Melody Lost in a Forgotten Mist

Special Thanks to Roukanken and RDJ for assisting with proofreading the prologue. Special Thanks to Anthony, Roukanken, Sakana and Serpentarius for proofreading Chapter 1.

'Here was justice unswerving yet compassionate - forcing knowledge of a crime by the pathetic witness of its simplest result. Here was desperate remorse, praying only for pardon before death....And as the bronzed guardian passed, I saw what I had never seen before, - what few men ever see, - what I shall probably never see again, - the tears of a Japanese policeman.'

- Lafcadio Hearn, September 15 1895-


Prologue - The Witch, the Kitten and the Cuckoo Clock

CRACK….Crash….tinkle…tinkle….plink…..plink….plink….

Tick…Tock….Tick….Tock….


My entire world suddenly spun rather violently. I felt my whole body lurch, jostled about by a mass of objects that weren't only harder than a certain Whiterock but heavier too. It was like a ride in a kappa washing machine with Lady Patchouli's tomes* for company.

Quote
*You can't deny that a lot of the things in her library are long overdue a wash and an airing, including her.

I opened my bleary eyes urgently. I would like to say I saw an unfamiliar ceiling but I found myself staring at an unfamiliar bird instead. A crude mechanical raven with a funny green bow that was industriously trying to peck my eyeballs out no less. No, no, get your own eyeball, you. 

Cuckoo...Cuckoo....Cuckoo....

I looked around wildly as I shoved the eyeball pecker out of my face and found myself trapped sideways in what looked like....a massive landslide of cuckoo clocks that had shored up against a big, solid western-style wooden door.

A sign on a wall facing the door said 'Abandon yer heads all ye who enter herein.'. Is this some sort of distastefully bad afterlife where all naughty crested ibises go after death? To spend an eternity with cuckoo clocks? They sure know how to make hell really horrid now. Well, I'm already inside, I think? I suppose I've already joined the cuckoos and abandoned all common sense and sanity by now, so can I please at least keep my head?

The door, slightly ajar, attempted to push up against the avalanche of cuckoo clocks. It was met by the sound of wood and metal and other squishy things snapping, smashing, cracking, tinkling and otherwise breaking. I winced with each sound, the paranoid in me wondering in horror if any of that was me.

"Cuckoo clocks? This is promising." The voice on the other side of the door commented.

Promising? You call this promising? How bad could things have been?

"At least she got over that thumbtack collecting phase." The voice commented to herself.

Oh, yes, I can see how this is better, especially from my point of view....even if my point if view currently involves a frog-shaped cuckoo clock that keeps on blowing raspberries at me, with a rather frantic-looking ice fairy strapped at the end of its tongue no less. 

Wait one moment, where am I and why am I trapped in a pile of cuckoo clocks? I don't tick and I'm not cuckoo. At least, not yet. And who is this person collecting thumbtacks and cuckoo clo-....oh...

A heavy dread fell on me like the weight of a shrinemaiden's debts. Oh no. I've been taken home. By that mad princess no less. 

"Hmmm....maybe a little discrete application of force will help...." The voice mused to herself.

N-no! Wait! Don't discrete-application-of-force me!

BOOM

CRASH…SMASH…CRACK….Crack…creak…tinkle…tinkle….plink…


A lot less tick-tocks. A lot less me.

Quote
OST: Yorokobi - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2ff4MNRjN8

I lay amongst the remains of something that was evidently made in Sweden judging from the proud, helpful little label on a smouldering bit of wood lying against my face. Well, wherever Sweden is, it has now been thoroughly unmade in Gensokyo.

I watched my discrete applier of force walk over the flattened door and across the scattered remains of many once-proud cuckoo clocks, quite obliviously overlooking my singed form on the floor. My usual severe allergic reaction towards all things dressed in red and white kicked in promptly, causing me to gag, hyperventilate and itch rather fiercely. But slowly other details registered, the first of which was that this person falls into the NOT-shrinemaiden category of people. A good start as far as I'm concerned. I relaxed a little.

A snow-white kitten pawed at a now homeless cuckoo by the door, sending it clattering into my face. It pattered its way up to me and gave me that typical head-cocked-to-one-side look of curiosity that kittens make whenever they are trying to decide whether something was a) food, b) litterbox, c) prospect for food, d) drugs, or e) dirt. No, I might be a crested ibis youkai but I'm not a cuckoo, I don't push catnip and I'm certainly not edible. And I've had enough crap too. Go away.

"Come here, Socrates." The kitten perked up his ears at his mistress' call and ran off. He leapt up her mistress' long, red, rather puffy skirt, clawing his way up her starched-white apron bow, disappeared behind a long, wavy  cascade of golden blonde hair, before finally coming to settle on the summit that was his mistress' rather massive red bow atop her head.

His mistress had paused in the middle of the room, casting a look of bright-eyed innocent curiosity around at the rows upon rows upon rows of random objects, mostly junk and curiosities, arrayed all around the circular wall of the room, all the way up to the lofty ceiling high above. Her gaze came to rest upon the large ornate fireplace to one side, upon which she stared until the firewood seemingly went up in flames in sheer embarrassment.

She gave the rest of the room a nod. As if obediently obeying an unspoken command, the room, very literally, got to work. A broomstick peeked out from its little corner and began to industriously sweep the wooden parquet floor. A dustpan crept along in the shadows of the broomstick, preying upon errant dirt. A feather duster seemed to summon up some forgotten ancestral feathery knowledge and took flight, dusting off the multitude of shelves. Books lying about on the tables and floors flapped away home to arrange themselves in their rightful places. The entire room came alive before my eyes, and all at a single nod from this mysterious girl.

I gave a little gasp as I myself began to float up into the air accompanied by the many cuckoo remains. Okay, wait, I'm not a feather duster, my wings aren't qualified in that regard. Or a book, I'm not standardized for any book shelf. Or....wait, no no no!

The cuckoo clocks all began to reform all around me....including on me. Wooden bits and pieces attempted to encase me but, failing that, simply settled for latching onto whatever bit of me they could reach, making for a rather disfigured cuckoo clock.

Brilliant. I really am considered a cuckoo as far as this room is concerned. Each restored clock was sent off to squeeze into any patch of wall not yet occupied by a painting, mural or dead animal. That's a good point, for the record, I'm not a dead animal either.

Alright, let's not have an identity crisis. I don't tick. I don't tell time. No, I wasn't made in Sweden. I have a trauma with mislabelling. Please stop that.

I decided it might be best for me to inconspicuously remain a part of the furniture until I could better understand what's going on, something that I had a feeling would take a while. And so I came to terms with my identity as a cuckoo clock....for now.

It wasn't long before I gathered that colour was as far as the similarities between this girl and the shrinemaiden went. Where the shrinemaiden is a lump of narrow-mindedness and laziness bound together by greed, this girl was where bright-eyed childish innocence collided with practical brutality and arrived at not only a rather turbulent coexistence but a mutually beneficial symbiosis.

She finally turned her attention to the large, ancient western desk at one end of the room, positioned before a massive curtained window, abutted by two tall shelves of books. There, in a tall, rather oversized chair, lounged a figure in a short, white under-kimono that showed off a little more leg than common sense*. A pair of white-gloved arms hung over the armrests, bare feet resting up on the worn leather-surfaced desk. Where the head should be was a long, silky stream of radiantly red hair pouring out from under an open book titled 'The Saigyouji Guide to Raising Pet Birds' for Pleasure and Profit'.

Quote
*Sorry, that was a redundant comment.

Quote
OST: Hurry, Starfish - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_xHISYL9AQ

"Good morning, Hime-chan~ You look bright and fluffy this morning~" She greeted the book as she approached.

Since when was 'fluffy' a compliment?

“Ah, Elle-chi-n, you are 27 seconds earlier than yesterday.” The book said in reply, in a muffled, lazy tone. “A fruitious fact, for We have just concockled a new youkai repealer blend that We simply must test intimately without decay.” One arm rose lazily to indicate a small alchemy pot atop the desk, the multi-coloured contents of which had long since overflowed and solidified around the sides.

Fruitious? Concockled? Repealer? And let's not get started on the use of 'intimate' and 'decay' there. The red hot iron words screeched like one of Kamishirasawa-sensei's chalks running across the chalkboard of my soul.

“Immediately without delay, you say?" The girl named Elle-chin-n' repeated in what must pass for sanity around here. You're telling me you understand her? You speak insane?

"Hmmm....Not repelling me, is it now?” 'Elle-chi-n' sighed, taking the pot, the crucible, contents and all, together, and tossing it into the reinforced refuse bin already inundated with all manner of the strange and wonderful…mostly strange.

“….We suppose not.” The book sighed, letting her arms flop back over her armrests. “Elle-chi, this observengeance inevitably leads to only one concussion….We believe We now have irrepuntable proof that you are not, by nature or birth, a youkai.”

“But I am~" Elle-chi~n giggled, "So there's really only one conclusion – you need more practice~” Elle-chi~n said as she climbed up onto the desk and pulled the red heavy western-style curtains apart, revealing a panoramic view of a snow-blanketed Gensokyo. "Why don't you try making it fluffy? That always works for me~" She suggested as bright, winter sunlight streamed into the room, tinged in a rather mysterious red.

“Aaargh, blasted sun, such ill-mannered disretard for the sanitary of one’s sweet repose.” The book said, in the same lazy drone. Wait one moment. If you can make logs burn and a room clear itself up with nothing more than a look, why are you opening the curtains yourself? By hand?

“Your laziness, you mean?” Ellen asked, securing the curtains to a set of rather ornate bronze curtain holders.

“And you, Elle-chi-n, such blatant disretard for the most pompiant art of eupessimisms.”

“Your excuses?” Elle-chi-n translated, crossing her arms and looking down at the book with loving disapproval from where she stood atop the desk.

“Pardon Us, a Princess has no want for exchooses. Her subjects, the composters, simply…accommodate Her…more difficult to understand endowments.” The self-proclaimed princess said dismissively.

“Your verbosity’s lacking today.” Elle-chin commented as she knelt down on the desk and leaned in close to the princess, raising the book of her face with all the care of a connoisseur, having found the caterpillar in her salad, raising the rest of the lettuce.

"And speaking of both lacking and endowments, you, my dear Elle-chi-n, are disintriguingly lacking in the endowment department as always." The self-proclaimed princess sighed. Elle-chi~n calmly took a moment to dislodge the pair of inappropriately placed hands as she continued on with her examination.

"Now, let's take a look at you...." Elle-chin inched in closer, "Hmmm....You've been out fighting again, haven't you, Hime-chan? Jeez, and what did we say about playing nice with the other children~?"

"We ran into a wall." The princess replied airily as Elle-chin raised a hand to the princess' face to get a better look.

"Must have been a very accurate wall to hit only your left eye alone. That's one amazing wall~" Elle-chin noted the rather dark bruise that now adorned the princess' eye.

"It shot lead bullets too."

"That's nice~ Were they fluffy?" She asked as she began applying an ointment of sorts to the princess' eye.

"Deadly."

"Best kind of fluffy~" Elle-chi~n blew softly on the ointment.

Was it just me or was this conversation not only one-sided but one-sided on both sides? Or, rather, one-sided on one side and fluffy-sided on the other?

Some more time passed uneventfully as the conversation devolved even further into incomprehensibility.

"Well, no other injuries, it seems." Elle-chin~n certified as she finally leaned back, satisfied with her thorough examination.
 
Wait, no, I'm sure I saw....

"Didn't you get shot last night?!" I suddenly blurted out before I could stop myself.

The two turned to look up at where I hung on the wall by the collar of my dress. "....oops..." I had both hands clasped over my mouth in horror at my own outburst.

"Ufufufufu~ Common pellets of lowly lead dare not breeches the sanitary of a Princess' prescience, let alone Her skin." The princess giggled softly as the fluffy person fastened the sash around her under-kimono.

Breeches sanitary what?

"Oh dear, you brought home another cuckoo?" The fluffy person came up to me and helped unhook the collar of my dress from the wall. "....now, Hime-chan, what did I tell you about bringing home junk? Especially the funny talking ones?"

I'm not junk. And what sort of junk talks?

"She's not junk. She's Tokiko." The princess corrected.

Except that wasn't correct.  What's a Tokiko? Seriously.

"Alright, what did I tell you about bringing home pets?" The fluffy person asked, patting the bits of wood off me. "And stuffing them with the rest of your collection as well?"

How is that better than 'junk'? I'm not a pet either. Get your eyes checked. And maybe your brain too.

"Well, you have Socrates. If you're allowed an infernally young kitten then We should at least be allowed a Tokiko." The princess replied, snapping the book lying on her chest shut; the book on raising pet birds. Ah, she's serious about the pet thing. I'm doomed.

So....I'm on the same level as that cat, am I? I looked up at said kitten perching atop his mistress' head. He promptly looked away. So, even the kitten doesn't think so.

"Umm....my name is..." I began.

"Tokiko." The princess filled in for me. Wait, that's not my name.

"Tokiko...san, is it? It's a pleasure to meet you, Tokiko-san~"

Wait a moment, who told you you get to name me? With something absurd like that no less?

"Though I think 'FuwaFuwaTama'* would be a nicer name." The Fluffy person said, not-so-helpfully.

Quote
*FuwaFuwaTama : Fluffy Fluffy Head

Waaaaaait a second! How is that a better name? No, no, can we stick with Tokiko? No, no, no, more importantly, why do you both insist I need a new name?

"No, she's Tokiko." The princess insisted.

Fine. Whatever, as long as it's not 'FuwaFuwaWhatever'.

"So you want to keep her?" The fluffy person asked.

Wait a moment. Why are you two still holding this conversation as if I'm not here? I can hear you, you know.

"Yes, We're peeping Tokiko." The princess said, in a final tone.

Looks like I don't get a say in anything at all. Also, peeping?

"Hmmm...." The fluffy person came up close to me and...wait, wait, what are you....? Hey, that's my face! Why are you squeezing and pulling my cheeks! Ouchouchouch! H-hey! That's my wings! N-not there! N-N-Not the feathers! They're delicate a-and carefully c-calibrated f-f-for f-f-fliiiiight! N-Noooooooooo!

"Hmmm...." Ellen murmured thoughtfully as she walked around the slowly vapourizing heap on the floor that was me. "Alright, she passes the standardized fluffy test. She is certifiably fluffy~"

Y-...Yay? Wh-what does that even mean? T-there's a s-standardized t-test of f-fluffiness? What? Why? How?

"My name is Ellen. Fluffy Ellen~" The fluffy person said in introduction. I see, so now I'm fluffy enough to be worthy of her name.

I'm sorry? Did you just describe yourself in terms of a texture? I'm not really surprised, but....

It took a while longer for me to learn that while Ellen was indeed cute and fluffy, it was in the same way lion cubs and baby tarantulas are cute and fluffy.

"So....Fluffy-san?" I ventured, managing a watery smile, just about suppressing what would be a rather embarrassing explosion of laughter. Now I know what that hell raven feels like on a bad day.

"Oh, no, my full name is Ellen Fuwafuwatama Aureus~"

"...." Seriously? "Fuwa...fuwatama-san?" I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't know that was your name. And I'm so sorry I couldn't manage a straight face. I truly am. I'm trying though. God knows I'm trying. I'm trying as hard as I can. This is me trying.

"Ellen's fine~" She waved off the family name formalities with a warm, fluffy smile. Oh no, I'm starting to think in terms of 'Fluffy' too. This fluffiness is contagious.

"And this is Socrates." Ellen went on, pointing at the kitty perching atop her bow, seemingly not noticing my suffering. "He's your sempai*"

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*Sempai: n. Senior fellow employee/student/worker at a place of work/study.

For the last time, I'm not a pet....oh, nobody's listening, are they? Fine, okay, the cat's my sempai.

"Take good care of your kouhai*, Socrates~" Ellen said, sweetly.

Quote
*Kouhai: n. Opposite of 'sempai'. The junior at a place of work or study.

Wait, is he sneering down on me? A kitten is looking down on me. This is worse than bullying!

"More importantly, you got shot, Hime-chan?" The girl asked. Did it take that long to register? Does information travel through your fluffy fluffy head at different speeds or something? How was my name more important than her getting shot?

Then I remembered this is the maniacal princess we're talking about, so....

"It was a long night. We wish a contaminient fastback could just explain it all, but...." The princess drew a deep breath, cleared her throat, before, "....we're too lazy." She sighed, flopping back into her chair. "Tokiko will give the explosion." She waved a hand airily at me.

Looks like my status has degraded further from pet to instrument of exposition now?

Ah, well....queue convenient flashback.

Quote
Prologue OST - FELT - Story - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndOHeK6FP1c
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 09:52:29 pm by Gappy »
Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White - A Nanowrimo Fic Made Readable!
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2012, 10:11:57 pm »
Interesting so far. A nitpick: cut out the footnotes. The ones expaining Japanese terms are pointless, because they're really common Japanese terms that the majority of people on this site know, and the other ones talking about how musty Patchouli's library is or other remarks don't really add anything to the story. Plus, since they're in the middle of the story, as opposed to off to the side like in novels or books, they're kind of distracting.

Anyways, this reads a lot like a Japanese light novel. It's not a bad thing, it just means that it's more dialogue heavy. However, the dialogue and narration was so full of non sequitors that I ended up sort of just skimming it, and not really paying attention before the banter stopped and something actually happened. The cold that I have right now doesn't help: I'll reread it again later.

Anyways, let's see what happens next.

Jett

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Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White - A Nanowrimo Fic Made Readable!
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2012, 03:46:23 am »
I have to say, this is a great deal better than most of the stories I have read before. I would especially like to give you props for maintaining a solid first-person point-of-view throughout the story. Many people find doing that difficult in some cases.

However, regarding Cult's comments, I don't believe that you should completely take out the footnotes from the story. I found them to be key in the telling of the story, which I can assume is your main goal, as well as provide readers with a greater scenery image and tone with the OSTs you have inserted. Perhaps if you can find a way to include the footnotes other than as quotes, then it would be more beneficial. I would also recommend looking into the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. He uses footnotes in a similar manner to better his story.

Of course, these are all merely suggestions. Whether or not you wish to follow them is your call. As Cult said before me, let's see what happens next.

"If I die, I forgive you. If I live, we shall see." - Spanish Proverb
  • Remnant Jett
Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White - A Nanowrimo Fic Made Readable!
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2012, 06:51:05 pm »
Yep the foot notes as quote boxes doesn't work..too distracting, makes it hard for me to read the story.
I have...a terrible need...shall I say the word?...of religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.
Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White - A Nanowrimo Fic Made Readable!
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2012, 11:03:21 pm »
"slowly vapourizing heap"

Is Tokkiko sublimating?

Also tokkiko is the name of a kind of bird.
I have...a terrible need...shall I say the word?...of religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.

Gappy

  • Oh...oh I was not ready for this.
  • It's only Logical....
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Mind The Gap
Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White - A Nanowrimo Fic Made Readable!
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2012, 09:41:21 pm »
Author's notes: I promise to reply to all the comments so far at the end of this chapter. But with regards to the footnotes, unfortunately the next 3 chapters have already been written that way. I'll see what I can do about chapter 2 and 3, but I don't quite have any ideas on a good alternative for them just yet. As for the translations for the Japanese words, I'm afraid not quite everyone on the forum is that familiar with all the words used. I try to use English equivalents whenever possible but whenever things don't translate so well or sound jarring in English I will use the original Japanese word and provide a translation note at the end of the paragraph as I have done so far. If you find the footnotes bothersome then I'm afraid you may have to just ignore them for now, at least for this one chapter.


火、灰、春来
琴上の死舞踊
戦場の姫


Fire, Ashes, Forth Spring
Death dances, upon the koto
Senjou no Hime (Princess of the Battlefield)

- Mononobe no Moriya -


Chapter 1 - MidWinter Night's Nightmare

Weather Forecast: 100% chance of clear crisp winter skies throughout Gensokyo.

Quote
OST: Dreamcatcher - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVAVp8yUNSw&feature=related

Frozen teeth gritted, numb eyelids narrowed, I battled on against the fierce headwind that constantly threatened an intimate and violent introduction to the frosty ground hiding in the pitch black darkness below. Not that anything, not even something as vast as the silent killer that is the floor of the Forest of Magic, needed much to hide that night. The darkness was thicker than a lunatic fairy swarm on a sugar high, enough to put that so-called youkai of darkness to shame. To make matters worse, it seems like the winter youkai's high on more than just sugar tonight.

I flailed about helplessly as yet another heavy gust of wind carrying w4 hat must have been an avalanche-worth of snow buffeted my little wings like an oni in a sake store.

For most youkai this would be, at best, turbulent weather for flight. For a crested ibis youkai like myself, it was nigh impossible. This was snow thicker than a certain ice fairy. You can't focus dodge through snow. You can't spellcard bomb through snow. Forget turbulence. Turbulence implied some semblance of flight actually happening. There was no flying happening here - I had as much airworthiness as a poor shrine talisman.

I clutched the sleeves of my gray rough-spun robe in a futile effort to thaw my frozen arms. Clear? Crisp? When I get my hands on that Tengu, I will personally teach her the meaning of crisp, as applied to foul fowls like her, perhaps with the personal help of my little friend, the leather-bound, iron-spined Absolutely  Holistic and Unadulterated Grand Dictionary of Exceedingly Explosive Expletives - Gensokyo Edition, with 150 page Youkai Appendix. That will teach her for whoring out the sanctity of the written word for her frivolous pursuit of literary prostitution.

I admit I must come across as a seething ball of hate right now. Truthfully, the broiling heat within me was probably the only thing keeping me from freezing over in mid-flight. Fuelled by sheer frustration at the universe in general I flew on, drawn forwards by a flickering of light dancing in the darkness beyond, promising the safe sanctuary of home, the combined human-youkai village of Meiji. Home is where the heart is. It's also where the food and bed are. Home is...

....

....on fire?


I blinked.

I rubbed my eyes.

I even tried putting on my glasses, which was as useful as facepalming with a snowball - something I had a massive urge to do, by the way. Note to self - glasses need windshield wipers.

My vision was lamentably perfect, much too perfect perhaps, for the more I stared, the more real the flames became. My vision was right. The world was wrong.

As if to quite literally rub the fact in my face, another gust of wind did away with what little airworthiness my wings had left and handed me to the merciless hands of my archenemy - the ground. It was probably good that I had a mouthful of snow at the time. It would've been full of other things otherwise, words that would put the Holistic and Unadulterated Dictionary to shame....or put it in a better light, as the case may be.

For a moment I imagined how warm the corpses being taken under in that Kasha's cat-cart would be right about now. Then I realized one very important thing. I'm no corpse. Not yet. Not by a long shot.

I practically had to dig myself out of the rapidly-gathering snow that threatened to entomb me in a shallow grave of heat-softened snow and slush. The cold slush seared my wings until all sensation and any hope of anymore suicidal flying left me.

I coughed and spluttered as I shook snow off my clothes. Then something clattered onto the ground. Something gold, stained in dark crimson, gleamed ominously at me in the firelight.

Quote
OST:  Mirage Coordinator - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p85zQLOMlUY

The seal of the Royal Family....Princess Kotohime? Why would they be....?

No...the cloth the emblem was sewn onto.... I couldn't help but stifle a little gasp as dreaded familiarity struck. it was emblazoned with the insignia -

- 秘密歴史結社 -

The 'Gensokyo no Himitsu Rekishi Kessha', the so-called 'Secret-History Society of Gensokyo', otherwise known as the 'SSG'*. Almost entirely a misnomer in this day and age, as the only practice of history they are interested in is turning youkai into history. Very bloody and violent history.

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*Library Reference Code SSG-117-9-2-1a - Bunbunmaru Article Edition - 117th Season, Nagatsuki 2 - The Mysterious Truth about the Secret History Association. ( http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Bohemian_Archive_in_Japanese_Red/Keine )

I tightened my little fists around the blood-stained emblem. My mind raced. Those humans! It must have been those humans! Worse than fairies and their lunatic swarms, worse than tengu and their literary prostitution, worse than youkai and their absolute disregard for fellow air travellers! Nothing's worse than those....those....those [insert Aforementioned Dictionary entries here]!

No, more importantly, my house... My belongings.... The books I've worked day and night at that shut-in bookworm's library for... The computer shikigami I've been building over the past few years... And....and...

The Ireisen flowers! Oh dear gods left above....the Ireisen flowers!

No sooner had the thought gone through my head when my legs and frozen wings subconsciously launched me headlong through a fire-framed window into a world of reddened darkness that is my own house.

I flew straight into one of my bookcases on the other side, which, thankfully, was full of my collection of rare outside-world books, most of which were probably so artificial they had little to no actual paper in them to burn. I peeled myself off a volume titled 'Cosmopolitan'* just as I felt my stomach lurch. The bookcase teetered backwards, taking me down with it. I subconsciously clutched onto Ms. Louis Vuitton tightly as the prospect of being entombed by books rather than snow filled my mind. For the first time and what I thought would be the last time in my life I actually felt repulsed by books.

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* An outside-world series chronicling the many everyday troubles and exploits of the 'modern' woman, a very mysterious, promiscuous, yet somewhat relatable species of human.

The bookcase smashed through the burning wall behind, leaving a large gaping hole into my bedroom. Ash and cinders erupted into the air. I coughed and choked as I peered through the smoke into my cramped little bedroom, almost entirely alien to me now. My eyes fell upon the little planter atop my desk bearing the Ireisen shrub, perhaps the last fresh Ireisen in all of Gensokyo this season. I made a mad dash for it, and not a moment too soon, for at that very moment the ceiling too attempted to entomb me, crashing down violently on what remained of the bookcase. Farewell, Ms Louis Vuitton, Ms. Channel, and Ms. (or is it Mr.*) Zara.

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*Apparently it's all the same these days. Everyone wears both trousers and skirts in the outside world nowadays.

I watched myself extend a pair of shaky hands towards my little potted ireisen flower. I cradled it. It was already wilting in the heat. I carefully placed it in my robes and clutched it protectively. Somehow, one's life is simpler when one knows exactly how much one is really worth. In my case, for various reasons, my life is worth this one Ireisen flower.

I looked up at the other occupant of my desk, my half-completed computer, my shikigami*-to-be that never was. I caressed it rather subconsciously. Perhaps if I had never lost those books to that Red White....perhaps in another life....

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*Shikigami: n. A magic user's familiar or servant spirit

Goodbye....

I embraced the pristine white body of the computer, raised it into the air with what strength I had, and looked around at the burning shuttered windows on the other side of the room. With a heave I flung it through the air. The shuttered windows gave way under the combined  assault of 1024 kilohertz of processing power, 256 kilobyte RAM and 16 megabytes of memory. I followed quickly after, diving out through the burning frame, shielding my face with one hand, cradling the ireisen with the other. The windows, hardly designed for emergency exists, were definitely not designed to accommodate my wings, which scraped painfully across the burning lintels.

I crashed into a snow drift outside and found myself thankful for the snow for the first time that evening. I lay back in the snow,  cooling my singed wings. Out of the freezer and into the frying pan in minutes, instant fried wings, no fuss....no, there'll be no flying with these anytime soon. My chest heaved painfully, my breath coming out in ragged puffy clouds that dissipated into the storm. I clutched the small bulge in my robes that was the Ireisen leaves. They were there, safe and sound.

I looked around at my computer shikigami where it lay smashed, all its dark green and red innards spilled across the slush, rapidly gathering snow, like an autumn goddess being buried by the onslaught of winter. I couldn't help but choke back a little sob. Call me silly, but I had just sacrificed my life's work to escape alive with a mere flower.....

....if only it were just a mere flower though...I reminded myself that this was someone's life in my hands....

Something white and crinkled floated down with the snow and landed atop my forehead. I peeled it off my face and read it in the abundant firelight.  'Ambivalent Fortune.  Wish: You will make sacrifices. Missing thing: You will find it somewhere unexpected. Travel: Beware air travel. You will go far. Business: Beware layoffs but anticipate unexpected new prospects. Safety: Beware fire and falling objects. Meetings: You will meet and befriend many annoying people Love: Exciting discoveries await following hardships. Courtesy of the Hakurei Shrine. Price: 100 Yen'.

Well, won't be doing any air travelling. Found my flower in a burning house. Sacrificed my life's work. Dodged the fire and falling objects....which leaves.... Annoying people? Hardly have to aim for those in Gensokyo. exciting discoveries following hardships? Well, plenty of hardships already so far so nothing too exciting, please....

Well, thanks, Hakurei Shrine. Thank you, Red White.

I sighed, crumpling the piece of paper in one hand.

What a briliant idea! A human-youkai village, cheap affordable homes for anyone and everyone who cared to live in a perpetual Mexican standoff. Need some milk for breakfast? Go to your neighbour. Need a human for dinner? Go to your neighbour.

That mad fairy-hugger monk! All her talk about youkai-human tolerance, karmic balance, and cosmic skyscrapers... What in the blazes of old hell's name is a cosmic skyscraper anyway? Is it an euphemism for the utter insanity behind building this charade of a human-youkai village? Or is it the disaster zone that is her burned attempt at a perm? She must have fried her brains along with her hair!

I should never have bought into her mad speech...I should never have moved to this mad house of a -human-youkai village... I should never even have bothered leaving my nest at Rinnosuke's....

Something other than snow and death zoomed overhead in the darkness. A brief, almost imperceptible flash of light flitted through the air. Tengu....the rumour-mongering long-noses on wings were at work already. No, they won't help. This was just another news report for them. At best they'll just take their story and leave. At worst they'll kick the hornet's nest and watch what happens. I should make sure to leave before I make headlines or, worse, an obituary.

"Hop...Hop...little rabbit...far far is your lot...."

That's strange. I could have sworn I heard singing. I slowly peeled myself from the snow before it buried me again. Was that....just the wind...?

I caught a whiff of something other than choking fumes in the air. It was the unmistakable smell of humans. As if things couldn't get any worse....

I quickly got up and ran downwind through another street as quickly as stealth allowed. I folded my wings behind the handy little slits cut into the back of my roughspun robes, a little trick I learned from Mystia. I also pulled my hood up over my hair, obscuring my little horns and the red and blue crest of hair that adorned my otherwise snowy-blonde mane, securing the hood to my forelocks with a handy little hairpin. One moment, fearsome deadly youkai, the next, passably a frightened, lost human child. Well, never so much fearsome or deadly. Definitely frightened and lost. So not that big a change, really.

While I'm not sure what I'm up against, at the very least I know they're human. They're not known to harm human children....at least not normally...then again nothing so far has qualified as normal....

"...far far the homely hilltop..."

....especially that mysterious singing I think I'm hearing in the wind. Either that or I'm going mad, something not even I can rule out at that point.   

"Oh crap oh crap oh crapohcrapohcrapohcraaaaaap!" This time a voice I'm sure I'm not imagining. And it was coming straight at me. No, I don't want a share of your crap, whatever it may be. I attempted to do an about-face but unfortunately my face got caught in another rather violently.

We both fell backwards into the street. I was quick to shield my ireisen, curling my body into a ball around it as I rolled back onto my feet. I got a good look at my crap-obsessed assailant. Great, the crap turned out to be tengu crap. On foot too. Is it not enough that you make my life a literal bullet hell in the air without making it a living hell on earth? Where's my Absolutely Hollistic and Unadulterated Grand Dictionary when I need it?

I watched as she staggered onto her feet. Another figure, a human girl, was on the ground beside her. A conditioned reflex against all things dressed in red and white caused me to almost leap out of my feathers, but I relaxed somewhat on noting that, firstly, her mane was a long, straight, silky lavender tied into a rather generous top-knot ponytail, and, secondly, she was shivering and weak, barely able to stand. Alright, the latter is definitely not something to be relieved about, but in a situation like this, your mind really only works in shades of 'threat' and 'non-threat'.

The real threat, at least for now, was the Tengu. You never know with Tengu, especially the crow tengu such as this one. Everything about her, from her neat, crisp, light-pink standard-issue tengu reporter shirt, her smart mauve and black blazer and matching scarf, skirt and tights, to her auburn hair fashioned in the smartest of tengu haircuts, spelt trouble. Paparazzi trouble. You know it's real serious trouble when it's described in some foreign word.

The tengu staggered backwards, recoiling at the sight of me. "Oh no, no no nononono, not another one, oh god oh god ohgod....oh wait, this one's tiny." She stopped panicking long enough to notice me properly.

....yeah, I know. Thanks. You're no giant either, tengu person, and those ridiculous sandals on stilts and that jelly carton you have for a hat probably don't help either.

Hold on...this one looks familiar....the one who's been flying about flashing that strange outside-world device they call a mobile phone....what was her name again? Hatatatatata? Where do you put the brakes in a name like that? Well, at least she's one of the harmless ones, unless you're worried about your soul* being stolen by photographs.

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*and possibly chastity, marriage prospects and your entire life....

"Oh no...no no no...are you lost too?" She cradled her forehead, looking between me and the young human girl on the ground, who was panting quietly, her face flushed in pain with what looked like a rather serious fever. "Look, they've got the village surrounded. We're running for the river. There's a boat there I saw while flying by earlier. Come with us. We can try and find your mom and dad there, alright?" She said, in the sickliest most childish tone possible, an effort that showed in the pained smile on her face.

I almost didn't register what she said for I was more preoccupied with the smell of fresh blood and searching for its source. Then it struck me then why she wasn't in the air. One of her wings was bent in an unnatural way, gleaming darkly in the firelight with the sticky sheen of blood. She had cuts and scrapes all across her body and clothes from what may have been a rather violent crash landing.

.....what in the seven hells could move fast enough to harm a tengu in flight, perhaps the fastest living being in Gensokyo, in the dark no less....?

I couldn't help but shiver at the thought of something like that existing.

"...hot, the pot, the hunter's stew...foo foo foo...."

That mysterious disembodied singing I keep on hearing in the wind, almost in my own head, didn't help the shivering. Whatever it was, it was getting louder, if only by a measure of whispers. Which meant it was getting closer....

And then I heard something else, something scrambled incomprehensibly in the wind. Whatever they were, their smell preceded them. More humans. This time unwashed humans. Oh dear...

"Oy, anything over there?!" The wind changed and carried the strange voices straight towards me. My mind came crashing against my heart coming up the other way up my throat.

Really Humans?

"Nah, everything's burned away. I think this is all the good stuff anyway."

"Not a bad haul....for petty farmers. Looks like even simple farmers make it good these days."

"Speakin' of the mud-dwellers, where are they? Haven't found a single one."

"Haven't seen any. Looks like somebody tipped'em off."

"Beh...was lookin' forwards to having a go at the pretty ones..."

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OST: World End Dominator  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAKkw71ff3U&feature=related

What's left of my heart froze over mid-jump, a feat that would have left even the frog-bully ice fairy jealous. A maddened thought went through my head faster than a tengu in a bathhouse.

There is only one thing worse than unwashed humans - looter unwashed humans. I turned to beat a hasty retreat. I knew that if I didn't, the next thing to go through my head would be, at best, a boot.

"Come come come, Meira, get up, we're almost there." The tengu had bent down to help up the feverish girl. "C'mon c'mon c'monc'mon..." She whispered into the air in general as she nodded at me to run on ahead. "It'll be faster if I carry her. You lead the way. Go go go go go."

I didn't need asking twice. Or thrice. Or five times, at that. 

I ran. I ran as fast as I dared through the blinding, choking smoke. The furious flames licked at my frozen heels. The fierce, sharp storm of ice stabbed at my frigid face. On I raced, slipping and sliding through ice, slush and ash. The snow, the ice, the crackling wood, all threatened to betray much-coveted stealth.

"...chop! Pop! Fluff, tail, in the pot, hot hot!" I barely paid the incorporeal singing anymore heed, though my mind faintly registered that it was getting perceptibly louder...and closer...

I turned a corner and the darkness gave away to light! Fiery light! A row of burning shacks stood before me, a wall of inferno that painted the night sky itself crimson. As Plato put it, out of the frying pan and into the fire! I wrapped my patchwork scarf around my face in a desperate attempt to afford my cracking lungs something more than fumes. Frantic, I looked around. It can't end here. It just can't.

That's when I saw a large patch of black a short distance down a row of burning shacks. The river! River means water! Water means no fire! My fevered mind screamed the obvious at me.

Then I saw the boat. It was just setting off from the small wooden jetty just a little further upstream.

Someone standing astern the boat shouted something towards me, absolutely incomprehensible amidst the storm's fury. The sound of a kappa motor engine barely made itself heard over the howling wind as the boat began to pick up speed.

Heart and lungs on fire, breath breaking, eyes awash, I rushed forth, forgoing any attempt at stealth. I skid and slid down the runny mix of snow and ash leading down towards the water's edge, towards the approaching boat, towards the proffered hand, gesturing for me to hurry. Human, Youkai, whatever! Just save me!

Just then, I saw them, out of the corner of my eye, as they rounded a corner down a side-street. It was them. The looters, massive, swarthy, ugly human men. They shouted, pointing at both me and the boat.

"Take her!" The tengu shouted from behind, shoving the sickly girl at me. I almost fell over under the force of her weight, but somehow I managed to staggeringly keep my balance.

"Meira, little girl, go for the boat! The boat!" She shouted at us as she rushed into the side-street towards the looters. "Crapcrapcrapcrap, Hatate, Hatate, Hatate this isn't your job, never get involved, never never never....arrrrgh! Whatever! I challenge you by the spellcard rules!" I heard her declare.

BANG

A thunderous crack echoed behind me, followed by the dull thud of a body crashing into the ground. I didn't hear the tengu declare the rest of her spellcard. I did, however, hear her wail in agony. They took down a tengu? A tengu?!

A rather loud, impractical side of me screamed with concern for the tengu, demanding I turn back.

BANG

Another deafening crack reverberated through the night. It cut the Tengu's scream short, as well as the screaming in my own head. Roaring silence conquered all.

I didn't stop to even look back. My cold, calculating side did its job, and morbid as it sounds, three dead was worse than one. Cold, cruel mathematics won.

We just about managed to reach the shallows, our feet clumsily splashing across the bitterly cold darkness. Freezing knives drove themselves deep into my ankles. But we...well, I, strode on, dragging the girl with me.

That was when the wooden quay high up next to me chose that exact moment to give way to the flames consuming it inside and out. I could barely let out a breath of panic as it loomed above me, threatening a swift, hot, and rather flat death. No! Please no! Not like this!

And I did the inconceivable.

I thrust the sickly human girl out of the way of the collapsing mass. A human. That Tengu's altruism is really contagious.

Fairy poop! Why oh why must literary conventions play themselves out when most inconvenient? And why must I be a martyr to them?!

Something heavy winded me and sent me straight into the icy shallows, pinning me down against the frosty mud.

The rumbling went on for what felt like a long while. I didn't dare breathe or look. But I managed to gather this much, I wasn't dead...which meant I'm alive...for the time being. Whether it was fortune or misfortune would be decided shortly...

"foo, chew, rabbit's foot, pull pull ahooo!" The singing sailed on deathly winds, sounding both distant and close at the same time from where I lay half-submerged.

I attempted to move my rapidly numbing limbs. I had movement in every way but up. I reached out and managed to make out the massive plank of smouldering wood holding my petit frame down against the deadening frost of the river bank. I took in my first breath as I strained against it, but to no avail.

I looked around. The roar of the boat's kappa motor intensified as the boat picked up speed. The boat passed before my very eyes. So close...so close... My hands foolishly stretched out, as if they might be able to grasp the boat, my escape, my freedom.

The figure standing astern turned, presumably to face the helmsman. She shouted something, seemingly in anger. But the boat raced on, the helmsman obviously panicked at the appearance of the pursuers.

Then, to my great surprise, the person standing astern leapt off the boat and into the frigid, dark currents, to the cries of dismay of those aboard. But the boat ran on, regardless, as the figure waded towards me.

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OST: Venari Strigas - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8ZUxYTK3F0&feature=related

WHOOMPH

The sky lit up above the both of us, me and the wading figure, illuminating the face of the figure before me and my own. She froze. I saw her clearly for the very first and last time, a fair, young woman in a light-coloured hakama*, gi** and haori***. Her long, flowing hair, a very dark hue of velvety lilac, melted into the billowing darkness of the storm.

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*hakama: n. a traditional Japanese ankle-length pleated parted skirt, often worn as casual wear, but also worn by samurai and martial artists, particularly kendoists.

**gi: n. a traditional simple Japanese top with broad sleeves, fastened with a simple sash. Also commonly worn by martial artists.

*** haori: n. A traditional Japanese sleeveless jacket, reminiscent of a kimono, quite often worn by officers and warriors.

We both looked up just in time to see a ball of fiendish light trail fire and smoke through the air, arching over us from the river bank, letting out an air-rending roar. It flew, much to our mutual horror, straight into the boat. It exploded into a fat, red ball of flame, blasting doomed bodies overboard, consuming the rest onboard.

The flames that devoured the ship lit up the dark rapids like a vengeful new sunset. I gazed upon it with terror. I have never laid eyes upon anything so terrible. Nothing, not even the most devastating danmaku, lays waste to innocents in such a wanton manner.

I looked around, peering back for the source, expecting the arrival of some sick, twisted magic wielder. But to my surprise I found naught but the looters, one of whom was wielding a barrel-like contraption mounted upon his broad shoulders, still bearing the smoky evidence of its recent firing. They were laughing, jeering, celebrating in their massacre.

"You're all under arrest!" The girl before me declared, rearing back one hand, readying what looked like a jutte* "By the chartered law of Meiji village and by order of princess Ko......"

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*Jutte: n. a two-pronged 'police' blade designed to catch the opponent's blade

BANG

The loud, sharp sound cut through her sentence, her voice, the very night sky. It seemingly tore through her body too. Her frail-looking figure spun around doll-like, long sleeves waving through the air, before her body crashed heavily into the shallow water just in front of me.

Her face, half-sunken beneath the frozen muddy shallows, peered up at me, eyes wide open in shock and horror, lips trembling. As I watched, her face drained of colour. She took a soft, rattling intake of breath, but it was hollow, with a soft gurgle of water...or...worse...some other fluid. The few inches of deep black water between us turned incarnadine.

Still, she heaved, attempting to raise her body out of the frozen waters stained with her own lifeblood, on one hand and her jutte. Water poured down from her waterlogged clothes and hair as she swayed precariously on her knees mere inches from my face.

She plunged her hands into the frost-ridden mud on either side of me, dug her nails under the wooden debris pinning me into the mud, before letting out a soft, but firm breath of exertion as she hauled my encumberance off me

BANG

The dark crimson water surged up against my face as she fell bodily into the shallows once more. Her face twitched, contorted into a rictus of silent agony, with no breath to scream. And yet she strove to raise one weak, trembling hand towards me. "Run." She mouthed as her lips started to turn a pale blue. "Run."

BANG

Her body jolted violently once more, her face twisted out of my sight. I couldn't help but muffle a squeaky gasp of horror. But before I could search for signs of life, the sound of splashes rapidly approaching demanded my attention a little more urgently.

I spun myself around in the shallows, upsetting what little flotsam and jetsam still burdened my body. I saw one of the men, perhaps the biggest and ugliest, approach as he tossed a smoking curved object over to one of his companions while pulling another similar object from his belt and lighting its end.

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OST: Prove Yourself - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rcGFjrB3Ww&feature=related

"D-D-D-on't come any closer!" I squeaked, a little too high-pitched than I would have liked, as I scrabbled backwards, slipping and sliding across the mud. Then my feet came to rest against the still warm body of the jutte girl. I gritted my teeth and, against my nature, spread my hands out defensively, as if it'd do something, anything, to shield the jutte human girl.

"Oooh, lookee here, we've got ourselves another girl!" The man slowed in his tracks, raising the object up close to his face, the little flame on its end lighting his unsightly mug. I found the source of his lisp. A massive scar ran down his face, through one blind eye, right through the corner of both lips.

He loomed. I know I've heard the word used plenty but this was the first time I ever saw someone properly loom. This one's a professional loomer.

"Whaddya know, it's a youkai. And she's defending a human....awww...isn't that sweet, boys?" One-eye pointed out the obvious, much to the amusement of his companions. From their forced laughter I gather one-eye's their boss. "Youkai's more than fair game! Get her!"

One of the men, a massive, hulking figure with arms the size of tree trunks, lunged forwards, grasping me by my forearm. Treetrunks pulled me bodily out of the water by my arm, almost tearing off my sleeve. Frosty water cascaded down my roughspun tunic. I could practically feel them turn to icicles as the stormy winds had their way with them. But hypothermia was the last thing on my mind.

The main thing occupying my mind was......is that....? I caught a glimpse of a gleaming object on Treetrunk's arm. It was a golden crest. Wait....Princess Kotohime's royal crest? So they really are.....

I gritted my teeth as I thrust a hand deep inside my robes and pulled out my one last literal trump card. "I-I h-hereby invoke the s-spellcard rules!" I declared, squeakily, holding up my one and only spellcard, a little more defensively than I liked. In his surprise at having the small, iridescent gold-lined card shoved in his face, Treetrunks let go of  his hold on me, allowing me to stagger backwards across the shallows.

To my absolute puzzlement, they burst into laughter.

"Nobody plays by those rules anymore, youkai girl." One-eye laughed. "The Hakurei maiden is no more, and so are her youkai-loving spellcard rules." He leered down at me, levelling the mouth of the fire-bearing object at my face. Turns out he's a professional leerer too. "Nobody needs them anymore. Now that we have these, WE are the rules, youkai. You see this? This is 'Teppo'. It kills filthy youkai like you and your youkai-hugger friends."

My terror trebled. I've read about them. 'Teppo', firearms, projectile-firing instruments, product of the outside world's heretical science, faster than danmaku, deadlier than magic. Forget grazing, you can dodge a Teppo bullet as much as you can dodge a Tengu photoshoot. It is the perfect anti-magic weapon.

....Assuming the magic user on the receiving end was human. Physical bullets have  as much lasting effect on the spirit-based body of a youkai as math lessons on that ice fairy. But they probably didn't know that. Which meant I have the advantage. All I had to do was...

"And if you think for a minute that it's like those old iron pitchforks we tried on your kind before, you're wrong. These are enchanted bullets, see? Means it shreds your youkai spirit as much as your flesh, see? Tried and tested. Killed meself 9 of your kind tonight with this."

....well, that's inconvenient. I hope you at least spared the other 9 your smug speech.

"Want to see what's faster? Me gun or your magic?" The man challenged. "Haven't worked with these much, see. A've got lousy aim, so first shot may or may not kill ya straight. Tell ya what, come quietly and ya can go out quick like." This earned him sniggers all around. "Or resist and ya might end up goin' out hard."

I honestly didn't intend on letting him monologue on, but I really was at a loss at what to do. I glanced behind me and saw, out of the corner of my eye, the sickly human girl and the jutte girl lying in the shallows.

This much at least was clear.

It was do or die.

I somehow knew this was going to be useless but I had nothing to lose. I whispered urgently to my card, "Declare....".

But as much as I futilely tried to deny it, the man was right. Magic is slow. His firearm is fast.

"Hard it is!" The gun clicked. The flame sparked. A sharp hiss filled the air. I shut my eyes. My life didn't flash before my eyes. I suspect it's because I never had much of a life to begin with. Regrets, regrets....Well, nothing wasted...

"Crest Sign - Mid-Winter Night's Sonata!" I cried out, raising my spellcard up high into the wind.

BANG

The crack of the firearm drowned out the storm. Silence ruled. My body obeyed. I didn't breathe. I dared do nothing. Whatever I do next would confirm my death.

Or so I thought.

Sound returned. One-eye was screaming in agony. I cautiously opened my eyes. The familiar, bright, bluish white light of my spell flooded my eyes. I shielded my eyes and drew breath. I was still alive.

Then I spotted the reason. One-eye was on the ground, kicking his legs at....at the jutte girl who had saved me earlier....who had saved me again. She had her arms around his legs, holding on against his blind kicking.

The other men were swaying about, blinded, by the multitude of bright glowing floating orbs that defied both gravity and the storm.

Yes, that was my one and only spellcard, and all it was capable of doing is summoning stationary glowing orbs of light. We can discuss the difficultly level later.

I scrabbled backwards, somehow raising myself onto my trembling feet. I was about to run when I caught a glimpse of the jutte girl. She's alive! 3 holes in her body and she's still alive! I gritted my teeth. She's human! She's human! But even then, she's a human who saved my life!

I turned and made a lunge for her, dodging the blinded men, grabbing her arms. I prised them off of the man's legs roughly. I swung her onto my back as best as I can and half-carried, half-dragged, her away. I stopped just long enough to grab the sickly human girl's hand with my one free hand, swinging it over my shoulders, and dragged her up onto her trembling feet.

Considering relative sizes, I can confidently say I now know how Atlas feels on a bad day. Now let's see if Atlas can do his job while dodging comets.

I dragged them both in the only direction open to us, back up into the burning village. I slipped and slid up the slope, my new burdens crushing upon my tiny frame.

She, the jutte girl, was barely breathing. I felt her chest heave, but nothing but soft, quiet, rattling gasps with no air in them passed her lips. I felt her warmth seeping into my clothes, drenching my back with sickly sticky heat. She's going to die! We're going to die! My mind went on and on, but I ignored it in sheer denial. No way it's ending here!

Quote
OST - Creator of Worlds - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kZg2znMEq8&feature=fvst

But just a few steps in and convention struck once more in the form of one of the shacks collapsing right in our path. The wreckage creaked and roared, flickering and licking its flames at us, as if sneering at us. Right, okay, I give! I admit you're right! We're going to die! It's ending here!

....was what I would have thought. Death was a difficult thing to ignore when it was staring you in the face. But even so, one voice was all it took to dislodge it.

"...not...over...." a voice whispered in my ear. The jutte girl. She could barely breath, and yet she still tried to encourage me. "...live..."

I did the only thing I could think of doing.

I prayed.

Gods! Dragons! Spirits of Gensokyo! Whoever is still airborne up there! If you'll deliver me in this hour of need, I'll do whatever you ask!

Funny how the world works. The gods agreed to grant my wish and granted me with a gift, a blessing. At the same time, however....they decided to curse me thereafter.

My answer came, halting the men in their tracks. It could have been a crack of thunder, a hundred birds taking flight into the storm, or even, you know, a straightforward verbal reply of 'hey you!' from the heavens.

But no. It had to be the disconcerting singing again.

"Hop...Hop...little rabbit...far far is your lot...." The men and I turned as one towards a strange, unfittingly cheerful tune that eerily rose and fell with the ghastly wind.

"...far far the homely hilltop..." The disembodied voice went on, scattered about by the wailing wind around us,

"...hot, the pot, the hunter's stew...foo foo foo...." The voice echoed, died, and was alive, all about, surrounding us.

"...chop! Pop! Fluff, tail, in the pot, hot hot!" A disfigured shadow fell across us all, shimmering madly in the deathly blaze.

"foo, chew, rabbit's foot, pull pull ahooo~" A shadow rose up, outlined against the dark red sky, up above a burning shack. "Head, heart~ Belly and parts~ Red, red, pull apart~"

The sound of fabric whipping against the wind filled the air as the figure dropped down to the earth . A bare pair of feet landed lightly on the snow with as much sound as a kitten's footpads, just as the shack collapsed violently behind her, filling the air with smouldering ash and embers.

The flickering, dancing light fell on her for the first time, revealing the strange songstress in all her maddened glory. " ....how do you hop now...little rabbit~ ...dying~ ........dying~ ..........~flop~ ..." She breathed the last word with barely a whisper, with evident relish.

Clad in fiercest red, clothed in purest white, the figure before me gleamed ferociously in the firelight. Her thick crimson kimono thundered in the wind behind her like a vengeful blood god, slung around her shoulders like a cape. Beneath it, shimmering red in the firelight, was a pure white kimono, fastened about her slight body by a blood-red sash.

Another human. It never rains, but it pours. In Red-White no less. My nerves. My poor nerves.

"Ah, what fortune doth these flickerescent lights bring," The mysterious apparition gestured up at the light orbs from my spell floating above, before twirling and snapping a hand at us, "...but We, to this most fortuouspicious gathering of the concerned..." She looked at us, before glancing out in the direction of the looters, cocking her head to one side in curiosity and amusement, "and the concerning..."

Worse. It pours most verbose. In a heavy accent reminiscent of the traditional courtier maidens of old no less. Except....Flickerescent? Fortuouspicious? Excuse me, but did you just eat a dictionary backwards?

"My my my, but is it not a little too violacious for a sausage factory pride parade?" She asked, taking a casual step towards us. Her long, fiery burgundy hair, the very red of dying stars and dying soldiers, rose up with the wind, billowing like a flame in its own right.

Violacious? Did you shred that dictionary before you ate it?

"It's not a parade!" I cried out the obvious in exasperation.

"But you do not defuse being a sausage then." The newcomer raised an eyebrow adorning eyes as sharp and bright as burning rubies forming in the depths of the earth's core. 

Defuse? Defuse?! ....Too....much...nonsense....can't...take...it...

"I'm no sausage either!" I wailed a plea for sanity hopelessly.

"Who are you and what do you want?" One-eye demanded, finally recovering from the shock of so mad a presentation.

"Pardon Our rather uncouth intruference," The newcomer cleared her throat. Please, please tell me you've cleared all those affronts to decent vocabulary as well. " ....but We fear We must digest...nay, demanned, that you not lay your odious hands on what is a prized part of Our collection."

Intruference? Digest? Demanned?! Somewhere, a dictionary died. Painfully.

Wait, what collection?

"Watcha talking about? What collection?" One-eye voiced my question for me.

"This cute little youkai-chan, of course." The redhead walked up to me and placed a hand on my shoulder, finding space in between my two burdens.

"...Her?" 4 fingers pointed at me. I winced.

Me?

"Indeed. This is Our Tokiko" The redhead nodded, with a rather mad smile.

Wait a sec, Toki-who?

"Toki-what?" One-eye blinked, the effort of comprehension contorting his face beyond what the scar has already achieved.

"Our Tokiko." The redhead sighed in irritation.

Hey, was that an attempt at an insult or something? Cause it's working.

"Please, being a vulgar sausage is no exchoose for deafness." The newcomer chastised the sausa-....I mean, men. "You are before a princess of the Imperial family. You should conduct yourself approprificaciously. Now, prostate yourself and beg for forfitness!"

Prostate...forfitness....Something inside me fell into the hell of blazing fires and never came back.

"'Ere', boss....me thinks she's makin' fun of'us." Another one of the men, this one tall, lean, and as pointy as a stalagmite, and about as rugged and ugly as one too, said.

"Yeah, I reckon she reckons she's smarter than us, boss." Treetrunks helped.

"Yeah, boss, yeah." Stalagmite echoed.

"But wait, lads, she says she's da princess....we coulda gettin ta big trouble like." The last of the men, who I will designate 'gorilla' for reasons that I leave up to your imagination, spoke up. "I think she wants....eehh....our prostates?"

The men, as one, paused. You could almost hear the rusty gears work.

"....what's a prostate?" Treetrunks asked.

"Me thinks it's part of our wieners." Give stalagmite a medal. There's at least half a brain in this bunch.

The men, as one, winced at the thought.

"....n-no....not that...a-anything but that...." Gorilla muttered.

"Ere, boys, I know who she is." One-eye, spark of intelligence, spoke up.

"Who?" The men, as one, asked.

"Yer that wandering odd jobs girl, Nantoka-hime*, the one so weak and useless ya canna' even pull a radish fer a handful-a-yen. Yet calls 'erself a princess."

Quote
*Nantoka = 'something/somebody/whatever.

Hime = Princess

"Please, We insist on proper derminology,  We are but a 'civil serpent'." The princess replied.

"No, really?! Ya that 'princess' girl?!"

"No great use in a fight, are ya?"

"At least she's as good lookin' as they say, eh?"

"Eh, I could think up better uses for her. Heck, I might even pay."

Nantoka-hime sighed once more, this time a sigh of pity. "We must apolarize to the sausages of the world. To consider you sausages would be an insalt to decent sausages everywhere."

"Yeah, we've heard about you, 'princess'" One eye chuckled disgustingly, "Yer the mad girl with the funny weak arms. That's all ye are."

Quote
OST: Numquam Vincar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO7S59IsYgA&feature=related

"Funny, you say?" The mad princess smiled mysteriously as she took yet another step towards the men. Their laughter died away almost instantly. "That's all We are, you say?" As she walked past me, I noticed for the first time that she wasn't really as tall as she seemed...in fact she was only somewhat taller than me....

She raised one gloved hand up into the air, extending an index finger, before levelling it at the men. They all staggered back, seemingly subconsciously. "Well then....shall we see how funny it is after We shoot you?" She grinned, slowly stepping closer and closer.

"Eenie. Meenie. Miny." She swung her index finger between the four men. Their gaze followed the tip of her finger, as if hypnotized. "....MO." She finished as she stepped up until she was mere inches away from One-eye.

Wait, you ludicrously oblivious human redhead with a dictionary stuck up your rear end, what are you….?

“Watch out you idiot!” I summarized my thoughts as politely as I could.

As if in panic, One-eye lashed out with a wild right hook. The princess took the hit straight to her face, but, and I may have imagined it, she had turned her body and her face away at the last moment in what may have been an attempt to dampen the force.

She spun backwards, staggering, her long, red kimono sleeves billowing after her. But there was order to her chaos. Her wide, circular steps were carefully coordinated swordsman's katas*, designed to soften blows and maintain balance. Her staggering spinning was almost a graceful dance.

Quote
*Kata: n. A choreographed set of movements often found in Japanese martial arts (amongst other things). Often refers specifically to footwork.

"Quick, gimme that!" One-eye scrabbled for a gun from Stalagmite. His right hand, still shaking uncontrollably from the punch, could barely hold it steady as he lit the flame. He swore through his teeth as he burned his left hand with the flame in his hurry.

"Bang~<3" The swirling princess trilled, stepping out of her spin and aiming her finger at the boss.

BANG....

The crack of the pistol echoed the late princess' playful 'bang'.

"ARRGH!" The boss staggered backwards, his firearm clattering to the floor, still smoking, as the self-proclaimed princess too fell, lifeless, onto the ground. One-eye swore and swore and swore some more as he cradled his bleeding right hand. The other men swarmed around him with concern.

Nobody else noticed. I did. A rock clattered harmlessly onto the ground next to me. She  kicked it. She actually kicked it while spinning about earlier. She not only hit her target, the man's trigger finger, squarely, she did so with little to no visibility and in the middle of a storm! And she  kicked it with enough force to injure a full-grown man! But did she do so in time? From the looks of things....

"Is she dead?!" One-eye roared, spitting into the storm. "Dammit, she better ain't, cause that'd be too fast! I wanna make her pay! Slowly!"

"D-...did'cha see that?" Gorilla muttered as the men slowly inched towards the princess' body, each doing taking their time, making sure they were no faster than their mates.

"Aye, she fired something from her finger she did...." Stalagmite nodded.

"Was no magic that, it was too fast!" Treetrunks said, worriedly. "Boss said magic'd be slow, right? With 'em inchantations and stuff?"

"She looks dead, boss." Gorilla observed as they formed a fearful little semi-circle around the princess' body.

No...not another dead body...

Just as the boss lumbered into the circle, newly-lit firearm akimbo in his left hand, it happened. It happened extremely quickly. And it happened painfully. Very, very painfully. With frightening surgical precision that rivals the RedWhite's accuracy in  homing in on moving currency, she rammed her feet into that part of the men's anatomy that probably thereafter ceased to be part thereof.

The deadliness of her strike was compounded by the speed of her feet which, much to the men's misfortune, put even the BlackWhite's missile broomstick to shame.

And she delivered them rapidly, with both feet, in quick succession, so fast that not only did all 4 men receive a fair share, they all received a painfully sizeable amount, one that not even my avian eyes could capture. I think I can safely put the estimate in the dozens, if only to be merciful.

The resurrected princess flipped backwards onto her feet and landed neatly in the snow. I may have imagined it but I may have perceived a faint hiss and a small trace of water vapour rise up from the snow about her bare yet pristine feet.

She straightened up gracefully and, flicking her 'shooting' hand in a snap motion, raised her finger to her lips and blew the tip tenderly.

The men folded over softly, settling into the melting snow, onto their knees, singing in high-pitched voices. They sank so low the snow melted into puddles about their defeated masculinity.

"Oh dear dear dear....you've evoked a Princess to reveal her ankles....We hope you're all ready to take rezombility~" She giggled, hiding her grin behind her long, flowing kimono sleeves. "Oh, my my my, but you've all been so prematernally demascutrated. Your manliness is perhaps so much in doubt that We can safely say there is no cause for unnecesseriously imposed rezombilities, wouldn't you agree?"

She demasculinated a thesaurus too, just for good measure.

She wasn't dead. She made that clear. Loud and clear. Painfully too. And if there was anything this girl ever taught me since, it was to never make the mistake of assuming so.

One-eye's firearm clattered harmlessly onto the snow, the little flame dying out with a faint hiss.

"For Us?" She held the sleeve of her kimono in one hand gracefully while reaching down for the dropped firearm. "Why, the lowly dog learns to pliss so quickly, we are pleased~"

"N-not s-so faaaaaaaaast..." One-eye wheezed squeakily, raising the one hand not occupied with nursing his crown jewels up towards the princess. But he was cut short by a foot stomping him into the snow from behind.

"You...yoouuuuu....you haven't forgotten about meeee, right...? Riiiiiiiight?" The foot's owner dug her heels into the man's head, making him gargle on snow. The crap-obsessed tengu had returned, and, if not with a vengeance, then at least with the zeal to kick at downed foes.

She was holding one shoulder tenderly, bandaged tightly with her scarf, as she went around kicking each of the men over and over. "That's for my wings! This one's for my arm! My writing arm, mind you! And this one's for my spirit camera! And this one's because I can! You hear that?! Because. I. CAN! Hah! What was that? Can't hear yoooou! Here, have a sandal sandwich! And another! And another!"

"Ooooh, you're here, backup-chan~" The princess greeted the excited tengu cheerfully.

"You told me I'd get to kick, kick, kick their butts in!" The tengu complained, doing just that anyway, stomping up and down repeatedly on both Stalagmite and Gorilla.

"If We expired." The princess corrected. You realize you're so off you're probably way past that?

"Chances of that happening?" The tengu asked, panting a little from the exercise as she tap-danced across all four downed men.

"Conchivalrously high." The princess nodded over at the riverside where more men had gathered, attracted by the gunshots and lights. They pointed up the street towards us, crying out. Hey, don't look at me. I don't make a habit of kicking people in the 'nads.

There were at least a dozen, and, as prolific a castrator our princess is, I doubt she can demasculinate that many. Not when they're all armed with all manner of cold hard, edged steel.

"Oh, seriously?" The Tengu paused in her tap-dance. "....oh serious flying photogenic crap....what do we do?"

"Princesses don't 'do'. The World simply 'allows'." The princess declared, spinning around and....what did you kick the rubble of that shack you rode down earlier for? H-hey, what's that creaking noise? I looked up and saw the shack's ceiling rumble ominously before giving way and crashing down into the smouldering floor below. A cloud of dust and ash burst up into the air in its wake, rushing towards us like an angry wraith.

She pulled out of her spin, grabbed the Tengu and the sickly human girl by their arms and gave them both a shove into the billowing smoke. She then grabbed hold of the jutte girl on my back and swung her onto her own.

With a massive, maddened grin she took hold of my hand and tugged me towards....the cloud of smoke and dust? Wait, wait, "We're going to crash!" I voiced my concern as eloquently as possible.

I gasped as we ran on and ended up choking and gasping on dust. Before I knew it, I tore through the blanket of smoke and dust, eyes watering. We were running. There was nothing in our way. We were sailing up the ruins, following the tengu who had the sickly human girl in tow. I looked beneath me. A rather convenient sloping walkway of sorts had formed from collapsed roof. No, she couldn't have thought this far....

As we reached the charred skeleton of the rooftop the princess spun around and gave a protruding beam a sharp little kick. The entire rooftop began to wobble violently, just as the men below attempted to clamber over the rubble after us while coughing and gagging through all the smoke. Without looking back she pushed both me and the tengu off the disintegrating roof into....wait...did you just...

Oh, you did.

HiYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! HELPHElphelphelpmeeeeeee.....!

Murderer! You monster! I turned around to make my anger at our betrayal known to our psychotic murderer when I found that she too had leapt after us, jutte girl in tow. Oh, so you're just suicidal. That's just fine then.

....

NO IT ISN'T! Why'd you have to take us with you?! I don't want to die yet! I haven't even claimed this month's bloomer expenses from Lady Patchouli! Speaking of bloomers, why aren't you wearing any in this breeze?! We're doomed! We're so doooomed!

I watched as what remained of the ruined shack above us avalanched atop the gathered men.

Wait, above us?

Oh, it was on a high ledge and we have sailed right over it. So we're falling just a little more than 1 floor. Bad news.

Now should I look down and hope for good news?

A new shape loomed up below us. It was the village storage house. And it was approaching fast. I don't think it was designed for crash landings. I don't think we were designed for that either. I think there's a flaw in this plan.

As unlikely as it seemed, we missed it, only narrowly grazing it. But then we had to contend with something even bigger approaching even faster - the ground. We braced ourselves. We prayed. There was little else to do in this rather brief flight.

However, surprisingly and fortunately, the snow yielded beneath us. Even more fortunately, we landed in something soft. Unfortunately, however, we landed on something soft.

Ewww.

On second thought....

Eww eww EWW.

If this was part of your plan, princess, your plan stinks. Literally. And if the stink doesn't kill you, I will.

"Okay, tell me you knew there was going to be a crap heap underneath that snow. Tell me this now or I will kill you. I will, I really will." The tengu demanded through a mouthful of....stuff.

"One finds an h-arse in a barn, a miko in a shrine, a tengu in cra-...a scandal and excretory matter in a compost heap, is this not so?" The princess replied.

"That makes se-...wait, what did you say about us tengu? You know what, I will kill you anyway!"

"We are almost out of the pillage." The princess noted, looking around, as she fished the sickly human girl out of the muck. "About one more cho*, perhaps."

Quote
*Cho: n. traditional Japanese unit of distance, equivalent to about 110 meters

"All the exits were guarded by men when I flew in though, seriously." The tengu pointed out.

"Then we will wait out this cheese." The princess said.

"...." The tengu seemed to consider this for a moment, before asking, "You mean 'siege'?"

"That's what We said. Please do pay egestion."

Quote
OST: Epitaph - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yECO8mInSIU&feature=related

I didn't register most of this as my attention was focused entirely on the jutte girl. "Help...." I croaked, as I felt tears well up from places I didn't know I had. "Please help...." I pleaded, holding the human girl tight, gazing down through burning tears the girl's pale, drained face. "She's dying...." I cried the obvious. "She's dying...."

"Come, let's take her in there, out of the storm." The Tengu said, pointing up at the storage house.

"She won't make it." The self-proclaimed princess said bluntly as we escaped the fury of the storm and barred the door behind us.

"You can't say that!" I felt a hot lump rise up in my freezing throat. Hot tears seared my frigid face. "She will make it!" I cried in denial, emotion overpowering all.

"Both lungs punctuated. Snashed collar bone, zooshed subclavian heartery and vanities. Blood rurging into lung cavity. She's both bleeding and drowning in her own blood. It is a miracle she is still alive." The princess assessed with infuriating calm, lowering the girl onto a soft pile of hay in a corner.

I knew it. I knew she was right. But I didn't want her to be. I didn't want it to be this way. I denied every bit of it with all my heart.

"I-...I don't...I don't even know who you are!" I cried, holding onto the poor girl's blood-soaked gi. Looking back, it sounds like the silliest statement of the obvious. But my gratitude, my frustration, my grief and anger.... "Why....?! Why did you....?!"

"Your last wish, please." The princess said, softly, kneeling by the stricken girl, cradling her head gently as she lowered her face close to hers. "We shall listen."

The girl breathed, "You....the rurouni*....?"

Quote
*Rurouni: n. Colloq. wandering masterless servant

"....Yes, that is We." The princess affirmed.

The dying girl coughed weakly in one final effort to speak.  "...Take this...." She weakly raised her hand, trembling hard with the exertion of her one last wordly wish. In it, grasped tightly with every last bit of resolve she possessed, was her jutte, her blade of office. "Carry...on...my burden......... protect...everyone.... protect.. Genso.....kyo...."

Gappy

  • Oh...oh I was not ready for this.
  • It's only Logical....
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Mind The Gap
Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White - A Nanowrimo Fic Made Readable!
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 09:52:12 pm »
The dying girl coughed weakly in one final effort to speak.  "...Take this...." She weakly raised her hand, trembling hard with the exertion of her one last wordly wish. In it, grasped tightly with every last bit of resolve she possessed, was her jutte, her blade of office. "Carry...on...my burden......... protect...everyone.... protect.. Genso.....kyo...."

"Your burden is Ours. Rest now." The princess nodded, grasping the young girl's hand and taking hold of her jutte. "Go home now. Home awaits." She said softly, stroking the girl's hair with her other hand. "...rest well...." She whispered soothingly as she embraced the dying girl.

"T-Tell...." The dying girl gasped, "Tell....m-my little sister....Meira..." She wheezed into the princess' ear, "W-w-wherever she....is....I....I love her....always..." She whispered her last breath.

"Y-your sister...M-M-Meira?! H-hey, lady! Y-your sister is here! She's right here!" I cried, clutching her, mortified of letting her go lest she slip away. "Hey! Meira! Say something! Say something to your sister!" I grasped the sickly human girl and shook her. "H-Hey...d-don't go! D-D-Don't g-go yet!" I pleaded through hot, painful tears. But to no avail.

"Tokiko." The princess laid a hand on my shoulder.

"No! Don't go!" I persisted, crying. If she died here...if she died in this cold, musty storage house in some god-forsaken village for saving me...worthless little me...without even saying goodbye to her little sister.... I couldn't forgive the world. I couldn't forgive myself. I couldn't forgive anything. Ever.

"Tokiko, she's passed." The princess said, softly, but firmly.

"You idiot! *sob* Why was that stupid jutte more important than saying goodbye to your sister?!" I screamed, all in one painful breath. I was screaming at a stranger for dying. I wasn't making any sense. The world wasn't making any sense. Nothing made sense.

I cried. I cried for the first time in years. I cried for a stranger, a human. I cried for one of the bravest souls I had ever met. One whose name I didn't even know. 

Silence fell. The storm howled around us, cold, indifferent, cruel. The dim darkness within the storage house barely stirred. Time marched on regardless. Oppressive reality forced upon us the surreal notion - that one of us is now no more.

Some time must have passed. I don't know how much. Not enough, not for me. The words hung in the air but were left unsaid. We were next. The tengu had said that the village was surrounded. The boat was sunk. We're trapped.

"Not burning...this building isn't burning...why?" The silence was punctuated by the princess who had begun muttering to herself as she paced up and down the walls, feeling each panel of wood as if deliriously searching for something.

"That's a good thing." The Tengu replied, sounding offhanded, from where she was tending the sickly human gi-....Meira, her name is Meira, that human girl's name is Meira...

""Yes, no, it is, but good is bad. Good is bad. Not wet. Not wet. Not wet....dry. This is dry." The princess muttered, mostly to herself, as she felt the walls.

"Wet things doesn't burn, silly." The tengu chided. "....sigh...shouldn't have bothered getting out of bed for this...."

"No, wet burns....wet burns when it's oil-wet."

"You mean....that explains why the village burned despite the storm..."

"Hime knows....Hime knows....The village was soaked, ready to fry, but not this storage....it's dry...dry...because...because..."

"It's empty."

"No, because it was full. Full....full...not hungry...full of food...lots of food." The princess seemed almost in a trance, lost in her own world. It was bad enough that she seemed lost in reality.

"There are three remaining sacks up there." Sure enough, 3 sacks of what looked like flour hung suspended by a chord from a pulley in the ceiling.

"Not enough....not even to feed the birds....Hime sees....they stole it....they stole it all...."

"You mean they stole the food? But there were tons...how would mere looters make away with that much food in the middle of a fire, in the middle of a storm no less?"

"....they weren't looters....they came equipped...fire and steel....with numbers...in darkest night...killed everybody....no survivors...."

The words hung in the air. Then...what are we?

"We need to leave here soon. There might be more of them." The tengu said, as if to evade the thought. "And we might lose another if we don't get help for this girl soon."

Just then, something bright lit up the patch of sky visible through an open hatch in the roof. It was a sparkling white light, sailing up through the storm, trailing bright white smoke. "Speaking of which, that looks like a signal. There WILL be more of them."

"Hmmm?" The princess ceased rocking back and forth in the dark. "Oh, yes, indeed. let us make waste." And her heavy traditional courtesan accent returned, complete with dictionary-rape. "Surprised to see a tengu getting involuted in all this mess."

"Too late for that now." The tengu shrugged, with a rather nervous smile. Wait, you understand what she was saying? How could you get to 'involve' from 'involute'? Are you some sort of superhuman?

"We concurinate with you."

"What do we do, though? We're trapped in this village."

"Come, don't be a pessimist. Only real optometrists win the day." The princess said, taking a casual look at our surroundings.

Something banged against the door violently.

"What should we do to be real optomatotricks then?" The Tengu raised, a little more urgently, as she hefted Meira onto her good shoulder.

Something banged on the door again. Harder.

"I mean, really quickly, really really quickly." The Tengu stressed.

"They would have all abandoned their encirclification to conpurge here in this storage house." The princess said, calmly. "Now, please do get ready to...."

Quote
OST: Higuma - Strawberry Crisis - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lQc4ROhLOw

The bar on the door burst apart explosively. The doors to the storage house burst open at that very moment, revealing One-eye, towering amidst the storm like a really pissed elder god. He strode into the storage house with at least a dozen and a half other men at his heels, including Stalagmite, Treetrunk and Gorilla, all of whom look like the incarnations of the lesser horsemen of Ugly, Smelly, Inbred and Disinherited. They (rather foolishly) shut the door behind them, trapping us in. Little did they realize that they had, in fact, trapped themselves with us.

This time I felt no fear. Only seething anger, boiling rage, and a fierce will to inflict as much pain as I could before death, either his or mine. However, the princess was ahead of me.

Around this point my memory of what happened became, for want of a better word, fuzzy. Try as I might, I had trouble recalling enough detail to recount what happened.

One-eye stopped short as he saw the princess stride up the length of the storage house, straight at him, looking the very picture of effortless confidence. She loomed. Properly loomed, tall and proud. Her presence flooded the room, now seemingly small and claustrophobic under the oppressive, almost choking gravity of her person.

He took a subconscious step back, driving fear into his men. They knew their boss had fallen to a young girl, this girl, who had shot him with something faster than magic, faster than the boss' gun, with nothing but her bare hands. And like all good underlings they understood the simple law that - when the boss is scared, the fairy poop had not only hit the windmill, it was spiralling back with a vengeance like an unstoppable drill of misfortune.

The darkness within the storage house seemed to thicken perceptibly. The men only brought 5 lamps with them, something they began to regret. All of the lamps flickered ominously, threatening to die out.

"You know, that girl you shot just died. She passed in Our arms. We are...most...upset." The princess said, her voice level, her mad grin in place. "Do you know what perspires when We are most upset?"

"W-Who are you?!" One-eye managed to demand, in a last ditch attempt to rally up control.

"Us?" The princess giggled, raising a sleeve up to her lips demurely...or perhaps mock-demurely? "Doth the lowly rabbit dare ask of the hunter her name?" She asked, taking another step towards the men. They staggered backwards in fear.

"Doth the noblewoman deign grace the base dirt she walks upon with the honour of her identity?" She raised one hand into the air. The men seemed to shrink as one.

"Well, We suppose We may demean ourselves enough to impart upon your repugnlient souls the comfort of knowing...." She spun and  levelled the hand at the men, extending her index finger at them, raising her thumb back, mimicking the firearm again. The men gazed at her finger, as if enthralled, locked in fear. "....that it is by the beautifulest hands of the Maniacal Princess Kotohime that you shall all be unpatched forthhaste!"

The lamps flared up once more, bathing the self-proclaimed maniacal princess with a fiendish new glow, casting dancing alien shadows behind her.

"P-Princess K-K-Koto-...."

"N-no....t-they told us princess Kotohime is...."

"Lies! She's just the mad little odd jobs girl, men! She lies!"

"By the power infested in Us by duly constipated authorities, We hereby fudge thee all pretty of high traitoreason, bla bla bla capitalist finishment bla bla bla~" She took another step forwards, "In short, off with your heads~ arms and legs~ eyes and vile jelly too~<3" She giggled, unsettlingly, once more.

"Get her! Kill her! GO!" One-eye roared.

"Bang~<3" She said, winking an eye at them. Her maddened, confident grin was the last thing the men saw, I saw, for all 5 of the lamps the men carried smashed and went out at that exact moment.

I was ready for it this time. And I saw it. She had dropped five rocks from her other sleeve and kicked them up in 5 different directions all at once. It happened so fast those paying attention to her outstretched hand never noticed it. All 5 met their marks, the lamps in the men's hands, perfectly.

"Get them!" One-eye barked hoarsely as the lamps flickered and died. Darkness descended, and with it, chaos. There was a rumble of activity as men industriously ran into each other, smashing each other's noses in.

We flocked around the princess almost instinctively. I had secured the poor girl's dead body to my own with the sash of my robes. I wasn't leaving her. Not alone.

"We bit you all good nit~" The princess said as she grasped my arms and wrapped them about her neck, winding the long sleeve of her kimono around my shoulders and biting the end in her mouth, securing me. The tengu had Meira clutched tightly in one arm and the princess in another, bracing herself against the pain of her injured shoulder.

In the ebbing light the princess grasped a rope leading up into the darkness of the ceiling where the pulley was, wrapped it tightly about herself, and gave its wooden anchor a sharp kick, smashing it apart.

Suddenly, I felt my stomach give away as the ground left us down below, disappearing into the darkness, as the rope hauled the mysterious flying princess into the air, taking everyone with her. I felt a rush of air...

...and then nothing as we bounced about in midair. about a yard above the ground. The flour sacks hung stationary in the air, failing to follow through with the theatrics.

"....err....are you all maychance somewhat hyperobesified....?" The princess asked as we hung a little awkwardly amidst the chaos.

"Not me. Seriously, fess up, which one of you's fat." The tengu demanded.

....Did you just call me fat? Me?

"Can't flick what you are!" The princess said cheerfully.

In the low light I barely managed to make out the princess swinging forwards and kicking out at one of the approaching thugs. She caught him in the jewels (again) and proceeded to run up his body, planting kicks all over him, before kicking off his head, sending him flying back bodily into his fellow thugs.

Using the momentum she swung us towards the wall, using a few more heads as footholds to kick off as she gathered more speed. She hit the wall running, dragging us through the air while hanging onto the creaking rope.

"Himeyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" The princess cried as she ran up the wall with us in tow. I held on for dear life. We rose higher and higher as the flour sacks on the other end gathered momentum and plummeted towards the ground. I watched them smash down into a pile of wooden beams by the door. Flour billowed forth from the ruptured sacks like a vengeful nyuudou on muscle steroids, rapidly filling the room with a suffocating cloud. An avalanche of wooden beams buried the doors below, effectively locking it shut.

Using the momentum from the rise we swung far across the room, straight towards a boarded-up window high up above the door. "Nothing obstetrics a princess' way!" My mysterious flight companion claimed as she swung her legs forwards, straight into the doomed wooden boards. One moment there were boards. Next there were none, and we sailed out into the open storm, angry flour billowing out behind us.

I barely spotted a few men down below banging upon the doors in vain. They may have heard the window explode up above but the cloud of flour and storming snow combined made for more than adequate camouflage. We sailed through the air, undetected, before landing quite quietly in a soft snow drift a good distance away from the storage house. Lucky for us the dark cover of the forest was but a leap away.

"You're....you're going to tell me you planned that. You planned it all, right? All of it, right? Cause...cause if you just gambled....gambled with my life...I'll....I'll...I'll do nasty, real nasty things to you, okay? Okay?" The tengu rambled woozily as the princess pulled her out of the snow by her legs.

"We need to hurry." I cautioned, spitting out snow for the umpteenth time that night. "They'll come after us if we hang around too long."

“Oh no, they won’t be….not anytime soon, at any rate.” The princess said, full of certainty as she offered me a hand. Her lack of concern concerned me greatly.

“We didn’t even lock the door. Those bits of wood won't hold them forever. We need to get out of here!” I hissed, sputtering out more snow.

“Oh, We shall agree with your digestion to make haste in our egressifying.” She nodded, though her smile suggested it wasn’t the thugs she was worried about.

“What do you mean they won’t be…?” I asked as we recovered Meira and her late elder sister and began to very cautiously make our way into the forest.

“Elementarisome.” The princess began, with a smug smile that I didn't like one bit - in fact, one I would come to hate for the rest of my life. “You may have notificated that their leader is a smoker.”

“No, and…what does that have to do wi-…” I began, not even trying to decipher what 'Elementarisome' means.

“Smokers advertisificate their sinful pleasures to the world in the form of yellowish staining characteristiful of tobacco upon their fingers, especiareffickily their index finger and nails. He must thusfore carry upon his person flints to light his pipe, with which he lights his gun too."

"...What are you rambling about now?" Can you please at least speak HUMAN?

“Now suppositoring one's lamp has gone out in a darkened space, what would the prudish do?" She asked, turning to face the storage house as the men gathered about outside took notice of us for the first time. 

“Light it.” Okay, I'll pretend I understand her for now.

“And what would happen should one light one’s lamp in air beriddled with flour?” She asked as the men finally made up their decision to rush us.

“….”

….Fourth floor…Twenty seventh column….forty eighth row…seventh shelf…library code VL- KAM-110 – Records of Great Fires in Gensokyo….by Kamishirasawa Keine….Year 118 great bamboo forest fire of….Year 119 great bamboo forest fire of….Year 120 grea-….Year 121 explosion of the Suzurawa wheat flour mill….cause – flour sack accident outside an open  kitchen door...

“…you’d get a…” I gasped in realization as curiosity’s confounding grip got the better of me. I looked around just in time to see the princess outlined against a blinding spark of light that lit up the night like the birth of a new sun, consuming the storage house whole. The entire night rushed away under the onslaught of the blaze of light that devoured the horizon. It washed over us all, a force so overwhelming it threatened to blow us apart.

and....

KABOOOOOOOOOOOM

The world spun round and round as we were picked up off our feet and thrown high up into the air. And then, just as suddenly, the world faded out.

As I blacked out, mad maniacal laughter filled my ears, thronged my head, and echoed in the deepest recesses of my soul as I drifted off. Well, at least I was finally treated to my life flashing before my eyes.

Well, one bit of it.

Quote
ED Song: Bump of Chicken - Lostman - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdOiWn20NGs

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM


Thank you for reading this far! Now, the comments....

Interesting so far. A nitpick: cut out the footnotes. The ones expaining Japanese terms are pointless, because they're really common Japanese terms that the majority of people on this site know, and the other ones talking about how musty Patchouli's library is or other remarks don't really add anything to the story. Plus, since they're in the middle of the story, as opposed to off to the side like in novels or books, they're kind of distracting.

Anyways, this reads a lot like a Japanese light novel. It's not a bad thing, it just means that it's more dialogue heavy. However, the dialogue and narration was so full of non sequitors that I ended up sort of just skimming it, and not really paying attention before the banter stopped and something actually happened. The cold that I have right now doesn't help: I'll reread it again later.

Anyways, let's see what happens next.

Thanks for your comment!

As mentioned, not everyone are familiar with all the Japanese terms I use in this fic, all of which I use as sparingly as possible. I avoid using them whenever a good English equivalent is available. With regards to the stuff that don't add to the story...well....I suppose you're free to skip them. I just personally enjoy putting them in. It's sort of a me thing. XD

But I see your concern about them distracting. I'll try and think up an alternative way of doing the translations. If anyone has any ideas, I'd be grateful.

Ah, you noticed the style. Yes, I'm quite fond of Japanese light novels and I do enjoy that style of dialogue-driven story-telling. This is one of my latest attempts at emulating that in English.

I'm sorry to hear about your cold though. Hope you get better soon. Please do rest, drink and eat plenty!

I have to say, this is a great deal better than most of the stories I have read before. I would especially like to give you props for maintaining a solid first-person point-of-view throughout the story. Many people find doing that difficult in some cases.

However, regarding Cult's comments, I don't believe that you should completely take out the footnotes from the story. I found them to be key in the telling of the story, which I can assume is your main goal, as well as provide readers with a greater scenery image and tone with the OSTs you have inserted. Perhaps if you can find a way to include the footnotes other than as quotes, then it would be more beneficial. I would also recommend looking into the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. He uses footnotes in a similar manner to better his story.

Of course, these are all merely suggestions. Whether or not you wish to follow them is your call. As Cult said before me, let's see what happens next.

Thanks for your comment!

I appreciate the compliment too. Many thanks.

I'm glad you found the footnotes a useful feature. I didn't want to use them as actual footnotes as that would involve the reader scrolling up and down the page. As you can see, chapter 1 is massive and is a killer on the scroll-bar. Imagine scrolling up and down for the footnotes on that. Egads!

I sort of borrowed the style from Terry Pratchett myself. I really do enjoy his little footnotes. I should definitely take up your recommendation and read Jonathan Stroud at some point. I'm sure it'd be interesting to see his use of footnotes.

Yep the foot notes as quote boxes doesn't work..too distracting, makes it hard for me to read the story.
"slowly vapourizing heap"

Is Tokkiko sublimating?

Also tokkiko is the name of a kind of bird.

Thanks for your comments! With regards to the footnotes, please read above.

You make Tokiko sound like a block of dry ice. But I guess she is sort of cold in the beginning, isn't she?

As for Tokiko's name, I decided to leave her real name unknown and use her fandom nickname to refer to her. According to the touhou wiki her name derives from 朱鷺 meaning 'Crested Ibis' and 子 meaning 'child'.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 10:18:38 pm by Gappy »

OkashiiKisei

  • Still working on the Grimoire
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Re: Maniacal Justice in Bloody Red White
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2012, 05:49:12 pm »
That was a great read. I'm enjoying this story so far, and giddy to know how it will continue~ The songs really help set the mood as well, as they enhanced the already very powerful emotions of the fic.
My only gripe is that Tokiko complains too much about matters, but never does anything about it. This is especially prominent in the first chapter. Tokiko mentally complains about Kotohime and Ellen calling her by a wrong name and treating her like a pet, but she doesn't say anything to them about it. She could at least say her real name or tell them she isn't to be treated liker a pet. Tokiko acts like a victim but she doesn't even try to help her own situation. This is thankfully less so in chapter 2 and 3, where odds are more genuinely against her and she stands up for herself more.

I am confused about a few matters:
- Guns are apparently faster than spells. I can see this being the case with spellcards and larger spells, but what about normal bullets and non-cards? Reimu and Marisa don't have to prepare anything to fire their standard bullets, and they seem to be as fast and efficient as regular bullets. Couldn't Tokiko and/or Kotohime just turn off the 'safety' on their magic and fire lasers at the humans? Hatate could even use her Tengu fan to blow out the fires (though with all the oil that might still be difficult) and blast the humans away, and even on land she should be able to travel at great speeds.
- Though there is a strong, frigid wind ravaging the area and both Hatate's and Tokiko's wings are incapable of flying due to damage and cold, can't they still use magic to at least float? Hell, Kotohime can fly without wings in PoDD. Instead of falling in the compost heap, the lot of them could have used magic to slowly float down to the ground.
- Byakuren is apparently freed from her imprisonment, so the story takes place after UFO. But Meira is a child here, while she appeared to be an adult in SoeW. How does that work? Did SoeW!Meira have kids and named her youngest child after herself? Very odd.

I would appreciate it if these matters were cleared up. Other than that, keep up the good work Gappy~
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 05:51:00 pm by OkashiiKisei »
 

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