Topic: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)  (Read 4163 times)

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Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« on: April 09, 2012, 05:12:54 pm »
This is the result of thinking too seriously about winged girls with silly hats. I mean, from where Flandre's wings even come? Why the hell can both Scarlet sisters use attacks named after the weapons of the norse gods? Why would western vampires travel half the world to settle among a mostly japanese population? While we know a correct answer for all these questions ("because ZUN thought that it would be cool."), the huge background stories hinted keep teasing us and providing material for speculative writing.

The story follows a rather experimental structure: Most of the time it's just a terse recapitulation, with a few key moments here and there becoming actual vignettes. I make a point of ruining dramatic tension most of the times by telling the end first and then explaining how things got there. I also introduce original characters to fill holes where they are needed.

The story is told by a guy who exists in the same reality as Gensokyo, but doesn't live inside it. He knows a lot of facts, but his knowledge is not perfect, something I'll use to dodge points I don't want to deal with. Because the author assumes he's writing for a familiar audience there's no "Remilia was a white haired loli vampire" redundant introductions or descriptions. He also writes informally and swears a lot, specially when getting carried away.

There will be digressions to provide context. Context is pretty much everything when trying to understand history, even the kind of history where youkai and witches are flying around casting spells. Things never happen in a vacuum: every being, including luminaries like Yukari or Remilia, can't avoid being influenced by their place and time.

Finally, let me know what you think of this experiment and if you want to read more. While it's true that I write this for my own amusement, the whole point of posting it online is to get feedback. No comments, no more posts.



Modern Children

People believed the silliest things back then, we like to think. Now, before we continue, a warning: I know you’re used to the “stories are books” metaphor, but think seriously here for a moment: this is not a book and there’s like 99.whatever% chances that you’re reading this online, on an internet equipped device. So lets use that: there will be a few links that I expect you to follow to understand the story. Got that? Still here? Good. Moving on.

So, people were such complete idiots back then. Case in point, check this list of absurd things they did in the 1500s: http://www.crystal-reflections.com/stories/story_75.htm

Hehe, how could people do such things like to sleep in the dirt, with maggots and such crawling among them? As the link says, probably with a Canadian accent: Amazing, eh?

But then, there’s also this: http://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/1500.asp

Uh... Status: False.

So, yeah, almost nothing on that list is actually true. In pretty much all cases, you’ll find that people in the 1500s were about as sensible as us. They didn’t knew so many scientific facts, but common sense is actually a thing that always existed. And even when they were just plain out wrong (no baths, Europe? wtf), they happened to have perfectly valid (for them) reasons.

Why am I saying this, you ask? You thought this would be something about Gensokyo and here we are talking about dirty farmers.

Well, I picked that hilariously bad link for a reason: A lot of amazing things really happened in the 1500s: Of particular interest for us, in 1503, at a small keep at Normandy, Remilia Scarlet was born. 10 years later, she was turned into a vampire. And if you advance these dates by 5 years, you’ll have Flandre’s birth and vampirization years instead.

Think now about all you know about vampires and how people reacted to them. About the fear and the superstition, about the pious church folk hunting the depraved blood-drinkers in an eternal fight between light and darkness. Thought about that? Good.

Now, where’s the snopes.com page to dismiss each one of these silly beliefs, born out of the same desire we have to think that we are smart and sensible now, but people from the past knew no better? Well bummer, there’s no such page, but you can just keep reading and learn a thing or two.

Europe in the XVI century was passing by such a series of deep transformations, that even the so celebrated XX century should sit down and put on some damn perspective glasses. I’ll mention just three things that rocked their world at that time:

1 - Very early into it, the protestant reformation split the unifying backbone of Europe (“hey, can we at least all agree that we obey the Pope? No? Well, damn.”) in two.

2 - Coming fresh from the former century, the Ottoman empire was expanding, eating european kingdoms from the east.

3 - Also fresh from the former century, an entire new continent had been discovered and was by then being actively explored.

Nowadays, when we talk about “the unknown”, it’s usually in a paranormal context. Back then, there was a tangible, physical unknown, sometimes just beyond the hills. The unknown could take the form of people who until very recently could even be jerks, but were at very least your brothers in faith, who then started believing a new lie / kept believing an old lie (depending on which side of the protestant fence you were) and are now hellbound souls.

Or maybe the unknown took the form of people that you knew all along that wanted you dead or converted to their moon religion, but who are now invading your lands and becoming your neighbors. Finally, the unknown could sometimes take the shape of the actual, honest to goodness knowledge that there was such a thing like an entire country in the americas ruled by priests who cut open the chest of living prisoners, take out their hearts and offer the still beating bloody things to their gods. Can you picture you living in such a world?

And really, those were three scary things that are also mundane and safe enough to be in our mainstream history books. Think about the crazy and mystical incidents happening then that we just don’t know about. This is a world where, at about the same time but in Gensokyo, Yukari Yakumo was actively calling more youkai to live in her realm. Things in reality were a bit stranger. And by a bit, I mean a lot.

Now, I don’t claim to know all the facts, but let’s put some two and two together here. Vampires greatly enjoy claiming some impossibly old and distinguished, even biblical ancestry. But factually, their legends only actually started gaining traction at about the same time that vampire bats and blood crazed Aztecs were found in the americas. And vampires started to make their names, coincidentally, on the very same places that were right next to, or even falling to, the Ottoman steamroller. I mean, people! Come on! I’m not saying that vampires were somehow created as supernatural weapons to fight the turks, but they totally were.

The nasty thing about the turks, that could call for a desperate measure like creating the freaking vampires is, well, Jinns. Jinns are totally a thing that exists, and if you think they work just as 1001 nights genies, check this quote:

Quote
"O ye assembly of JINNS and men! came there not UNTO you messengers FROM AMONGST YOU, setting forth unto you My Signs, and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?" They will say: "We bear witness against ourselves." It was the life of this world that deceived them. So against themselves will they bear witness that they rejected Faith. S. 6:130

What the prophet (blessed be his name) is saying in this Koran snipped, is that Allah is accepting a supernatural race in the community of the faithful. That’s some pretty world changing religion right there. Can you imagine a similar quote in the Bible? God telling men to preach to the ogres or elementals? Well, Europe couldn’t, either and when combined armies of men and jinn marching under the crescent banner started getting seriously close and personal to the center of Europe, somebody, somehow, did something (research is still ongoing) and then vampires were a thing too.

Which finally brings us back to Gensokyo's stuff. Vampirism was yet another modern thing being introduced in a century where just too much was happening. If they were created as weapons, as I believe, or as the result of some curse of God, as some other people believe, or if they were always there, or whatever, starts becoming pretty much irrelevant once you get down to facts and see that by the end of the XV and the start of the XVI century some people were becoming vampires in Europe. Quite a few of these people were being pushed into military leadership positions in the desperate wars against the Ottomans. Vlad Tepes was one of these, that everybody knows about today. The Scarlet baron was another one, but nobody knows him, and that is because people like success stories.

The Scarlet baron was not a happy man. Happiness for nobility back then was pretty much contingent to having sons to keep your family name and inherit your lands. The Scarlet baron was instead cursed with two daughters: Remilia, the eldest, was dark haired like him, and pretty much a tomboy, under the rather serious constraints put on her gender at the time. She enjoyed falconing, hunting, riding, the whole boyish deal. Sadly, a girl she was, so she’d come of age, marry someone and go away. Flandre, the youngest, was a sickly blonde girl,  very pretty and endearing, a bit more given to proper girly stuff like weaving and embroidery. Had Flandre been the eldest instead, she’d surely marry into a better family, and maybe link the baron’s genes into stronger blood, which was like a consolation prize, even if they didn’t even know about genes yet. Finally, to complete the sandwich of poop and fail that was the Scarlet baron’s life, Flandre’s birth took his wife’s life away, but that was seriously one of the actual, expected bad parts of living in the 1500s. People could not throw the baby out with the bath water, but each pregnancy and childbirth carried a 2% chance of death for the mother. Think about what that number represents. Life back then wasn’t so pants retarded as some stupid chain letters would like you to believe, but it sucked plently in its own merits.

Becoming a vampire was then a bright ray of hope for the baron’s life, even if each one of these words end sounding sarcastic. He who was never a strong man-at-arms could then easily throw men and horses around by the dozen, he could fly. He would never die, if he just played his hand conservatively and smartly.

Sadly, the Scarlet baron was a brash guy, and a bit on the dumb side. When he returned from the wars against the turks to recover from grievous wounds, with orders to vampirize his best knight, he went and infected his eldest daughter instead. Who was seriously 10 years old. Who can say why he did that? Remilia certainly wasn't the best knight, or even a knight for starters. I think he did it because she somehow convinced him.

The baron got reproached by his liege for that and when, 5 years later, he went and did it again with his other daughter, somebody decided that he was simply too dumb to be kept alive. Or undead, whatever.

Sadly, it wasn’t even the baron’s intention to vampirize Flandre at that age, repeating the mistake with Remilia. He had learned by direct observation that becoming a vampire freezes the human development and had decided to wait until Flandre was like 16 to do the right thing (well, the less wrong thing), but people, children specially, actually died like mayflies back then and we already established that Flandre was sickly. So, when she came down with a serious disease in 1518, the baron Scarlet saved her life by taking her life entirely away and giving her undeath instead.

Now, we also already established that, unlike the Hammer movies you may remember, Vampires actually had a place in XVI European society. The Very Important People actually running the show, be it from the inside of castles or cathedrals, could, usually, think rationally and at very least point the undead monstrosities to a direction where they’d do damage to their enemies and they would seriously sleep soundly with the knowledge that vampires were massacring people and drinking their blood. As far as it was heathen, non tax-payer blood, it was just the will and the wrath of God.

But even with all that being said, children vampires, girls at that, looked like a joke in bad taste. The baron Scarlet died a couple of months after he vampirized Flandre, and if a Witch hadn’t intervened, his daughters should have followed him to the underworld like, seconds later. Vampires, for all their might, have a number of seriously crippling weaknesses (people, another proof that they were engineered!) and for their first years (say, the first couple of centuries) just staying awake while the Sun is out requires an herculean willpower. Standing under that Sun, then, it’s just painful suicide.

So, what happened was that a strike force was sent to kill the Scarlets, during a bright sunny day. The baron awakened, very lethargic, alerted by his hounds howling madly. On the outside, shielded by the Sun, he could hear the hunters efficiently dispatching his guards. By his side, in their coffins, his daughters slept, oblivious. In his despair, he imagined he was seeing things (even in a world with elementals and ghosts, people still see things) when a section from a wall of his cellar/refurbished bedroom crumbled down, revealing a tunnel.

Realizing he had literally seconds to save his important things, the baron took his daughters and ran to this tunnel. He died midway, ironically destroyed by a vampire among the hunters (see, one of the things smart people notice is the usefulness of combined arms, specially when they can cover each other's weak points). Remilia and Flandre, awakened by then, fell on the ground with their dead father. They bared their fangs to the advancing vampire and would be unceremoniously killed just as quickly and efficiently if cutting jets of water hadn’t come from the darkness ahead and slayed the vampire vampire hunter.

“Run to me! Run!” called an elderly voice to the panicked Scarlet girls. They followed the voice and ended escaping unharmed, running under a patch of open sky that was suspiciously dark as the night. The hunters, worried about the that unexpected turn of events and not wanting to risk another death to god knows what, call off the pursue. Scared, kind of still hugging and covering each other with their large bat wings, the girls walked towards the voice and met a crone, a elderly woman, barely seen under layers and layers of dark clothing.

“You were saved by a witch!" said the hag. "Your only chance of living now is to obey me. Now follow!”

The witch pointed her crescent tipped staff to a point in the woods. The trees somehow parted there, revealing a path.
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Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 05:50:30 pm »
The second chapter is free so that you know I'm not joking around. Comments are seriously expected from this point on.

People who believe in silly conspiracy theories (unlike the serious conspiracies, like vampires being engineered weapons, people!) like to picture the world working in an impossibly well organized manner. They imagine things like The Omniscient Council Of Vagueness. You know, those shady, supremely all knowing and influential people, controlling absolutely everything. From the shadows. Now, those of you still reading who already tried to organize anything, and I mean ANYTHING, like a school fair, or an anime event, know that pretty much any actual planning disappears once the dirty, dirty reality touches it. Reality, the one we, Yukari and Reimu have to deal with, is a pretty chaotic thing that abhors planning. Maybe it’s a kind of Oni’s revenge, I dunno, I’m not a theologian.

The people who like to imagine, for instance, a masonic world conspiracy, would be well served by actually joining an order, even a not-secret-at-all order like the masonry and seeing how that stuff actually works. Everybody is working towards their own goals, or following their desires, or just acting stupidly for the hell of it, all the time, everywhere. It wasn’t different back in the XVI century, with regards to how occultists worked. There were some “orders”, many of them even church sponsored, and a few of them even consisting of those Very Important People running the show. But for every, ahem, anime event organizer trying to make people follow the damn schedule and cosplay in the right area, there were a dozen oblivious nimrods doing their own thing.

The Witch who saved the Scarlets was trying to cosplay where she damn pleased, event rules be damned. “Serious occult knowledge” is a thing that exists, but if you’re not already a demon, or say, a vampire, filtering what it works from what doesn’t work or it's a trap that’ll kill you and give your power to someone else is a task you probably don’t want to try. If you do, there’s still safer careers, like bomb disposal. The Witch had already amassed some quite impressive supernatural personal power by sheer luck and effort, having wasted the best decades of her life laboriously poring over grimoires to master elementalism. That she made it all outside any order was a pretty impressive thing, too.

But see, she wasn’t getting any younger with each passing day, and the immortality spell seemed to be always one step beyond her. With her health ruined and her life expectancy running down the drain, she did a very brave and stupid thing - she left the shadows where her ilk is best advised to remain and got her own vampires. Her plan was pretty much simple:

1 - Taking hold of some of these new flanged vampires
2 - Use their magical power to assist her own research
3 - Attain immortality
4 - PROFIT!

You may realize that for once, her plan actually had a pretty sensible step 3 there instead the expected ???. But then again, you may also point that once she had that plan, she also was about to, say, start her own anime event.



A few years passed. The crone didn’t die, but that had less to do with she finally having immortality figured out, and more to do with she being a lot more stubborn than her bent frame and toothless mouth would suggest. It was no exaggeration to say that by 1520 or so, the Witch and the two vampires were a family. You can seriously open the police or crime section of any news portal now and quickly find actual families, made of just regular humans, that are much more dysfunctional than that one. Still, theirs was not a tranquil household. Remilia and the witch discussed like, all the time, and Flandre mostly cried and complained of hunger (you’d be amazed by how much young youkai needs to eat). Their first days together were mostly a succession of death threats from both sides, until they could at least agree that there was something like a synergy between them. The Witch could create darkness and control weather. Just that already cut down the crippling vampire weaknesses by half. And the vampires turned things like “flying overnight to another country” or “breaking into heavily guarded, magically secluded libraries” from distant fantasies to challenging tactical games. And a game it was, at least for Remilia and Flandre. Their laughter and lively company somehow eased the pain of old age for the Witch. She wasn’t exactly sure of who was using who by that time, but she thought that it beat working alone by a wide margin.

Of course, the hunt for the missing daughters of baron Scarlet resumed, and it was rather severe on those first years. But this is other of those points where the behavior of the Very Important People in charge change from the standard villain behavior you’d expect on a story. An antagonist in a TV show may scream, for instance: “Confound those vampires, always foiling my attacks against their lives! I’ll expend all the resources at my disposal for nothing but their destruction!” This is even believable behavior, but in real life people only get into vendettas like this for personal reasons. The Scarlets, and even the Witch, hadn’t personally offended or hurt the VIPs or their families. They were being hunted for risk reduction reasons only. Like, you can’t accept freaky stuff like lone Witch with Cubs behind your lines if you’re busy trying to wage wars or expand. But if say, this trio of unlikely people manage to efficiently evade or even dispatch team after team of hunters you send after them (said hunters, remember, are not killing the actual enemies you have beyond your borders). Then... what? You send ever stronger hunter teams? You turn your entire country to the elimination of people that don’t even know you and that have proved time after time to have the ability to act smarter than your own guys? What would you do?

Yeah, I’d offer them a place in my army, too. Maybe even provide the spell of immortality to the Witch, and a country manor for their base of operations. Now, somebody please point these women to my enemies and let’s discuss other matters, please.



So, that busy century was busily lived by the vampires. Seriously, an entire book series of young adult novels could be written about the wacky adventures the Scarlet sisters (and Witch) had in the XVI century alone. Again, the actual supernatural scene of modern age Europe was much different from the “burn the monster!” thing, even if said burnings really happened. It worked more like this: There are zealots. People who actually, fervently, believe that beings like vampires, witches or protestants are better served on a bonfire. These people are tools, in the two senses. What you do, if you’re actually running a country, is to nurture these people in their monasteries or whatever, and then you also collect and nurture all the supernatural help you can get your hands into. You just take care to keep the zealots and The Munsters separated. Then when it comes the time to act, you point your zealots to your enemies’ witches, and your witches you keep safe doing magical research for you, etc.

Then again, real life isn’t an exact Age of Empires analogy, and sometimes freak accidents like a zealot reaching a position of power happen, and then it’s crazy town for everybody. See, Flandre used to have the same beautiful bat wings that Remilia still sports today. But then a sensible ruler died and somebody who by all rights should never be allowed even near a throne room actually went and sat in said throne. The next thing you know, is that the Scarlets were betrayed, Flandre was captured, taken to a church and tortured to give out the position of her sister. Said torture took days and left permanent scars in her body and mind.

Since this is a story told in retrospective, you know Flandre survives just fine, no sense in making a mistery here. When the cavalry (read: Remilia and the Witch) arrived to save Flandre, the tortured girl refused to be touched, exploded the vitrals of the by then ruined church and did an impromptu, crazed surgery on herself, melding metal and tinted glass on the burnt stumps of her former wings. Remilia and the Witch were horrorized, lots of tears were shed but the deed was done. When Flandre allowed others to touch her again, much time later, they noticed that those monstrous artificial wings somehow stopped being “artificial” in the mean time. Undeath goes on.

This is a good time to stop the quickly advancing backstory of the Scarlets to say how the girls were shaping up. Remilia was still a brunette by this point (the start of the XVII century). Flandre, who had just got her current appearance, become surly and violent. As in, she got macabre interests and started snapping and killing people she shouldn't, usually with some messy magical trick. See, while the vampire race has some standard expected powers, the way each vampire actually realizes them varies (some people could point that this is an argument against the truth that vampires were engineered, and to these people I say “screw you”). Remilia ended, by any reason, having a more “physical” side than her younger sister. Maybe it was because she was a tomboy when alive, maybe it’s just chance. Her modus operandi was usually dashing right into the midst of the “problem” and hacking it to pieces with her own hands. She had magic, but only of a very limited, focused kind: She could animate blood, turning it into a scarlet red burning energy. Remilia’s “magic spells” were pretty much just her third claw.

Flandre usually didn’t like to approach to kill, but she was never as predictable as her sister. Sometimes she did just that, and due to being a vampire, there was not much difference between Remilia’s precise cuts and Flandre’s clumsy, gleeful smacks. Both hit like a freight train anyways, who even cares? Of course, against things who could dodge that, Flandre was cunning enough to fly away, and pelt whatever needed killing with a dazzling and amazing variety of magical abuse. Flandre’s magic wasn’t just a claw. She could actually create things, transform things, make things look different or like nothing at all, and yeah, destroy things too, in ways that would leave her elder sister feeling jealous if Remilia didn’t think that fights where blood can’t spray on you were boring, anyway. So, in a sense, the sisters completed themselves. From the incident with the wings on, Flandre started focusing her magic through the crystals, even if it was the same old magic that used to leave by her hands.

Oh, and incidentally, it was Remilia’s likeness for ripping down people from close range so that she ended bathed in their blood that actually earned her the Scarlet Devil nickname. Sure, she’s really a light eater, but scarlet stains are rather less impressive than, well, scarlet everything.

What about the Witch? The Witch was by then a proper type II immortal, like the vampire sisters, even if she was forever stuck with her crone body. Now, some people would in that situation complain forever about lost youth and beauty, but she was a practical woman. She cared mostly about the acquisition of personal power, and would gladly do just that forever, learning more and more, power for the power’s sake. But nobody could deny that she had grown attached to the Scarlets. In a sense, she had (grand(grand))daughters.
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Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2012, 04:27:35 am »
Two days and nobody commented. T_T

Not even to say "shorten your damn paragraphs, you loquacious idiot!" or even its shorthand "TL;DR". It's a bit disheartening. But again, it's the mid of the week, and maybe most of you are too busy to say anything. In any case, I got another post here. It-It's not like I wrote it just for you or anything! I just had too many ideas last night and they would spoil if I didn't post them! Baka!

Now, I said that we were by the start of the XVII century, and something rather amazing happened then. This guy happened, go on and read a bit about what he did:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasekura_Tsunenaga

I’ll be rather blunt and say at once that two of the retainers of Tsunenaga in his expedition were no one else than a teenaged Konpaku Youki and an also teenaged Yakumo Ran. Who crossdressed as a guy for the entire trip. Funny times were had by Yukari and Yuyuko back in Gensokyo. Youki’s dad, Youma, was still around by then and guarded the ladies while the kids were away. To picture Youma, imagine pretty much the same large man his son Youki would become, but with “wild” instead “composed” written all over him. Youma was one of those huge samurai guys who yell “OSSHHAAA!!!” when striking. If that age of Gensokyo was made into an anime, Nobuyuki Hiyama could do his voice.

Well, the exact year then was 1615. The Scarlets resided properly in southern France, at their country manor near Saint Tropez. After the wings incident, they had stopped working directly for the Very Important People and were existing in a rather independent way. While the religious nutcase ultimately responsible for Flandre's wounds had been deposed and dealt with, the Witch used that betrayal as a pretext to cut the formal ties with the government. Those old risk reduction motives to hunt the Scarlets were dead by now, together with the people who had them in first place. For the new VIPs in power, those vampires were already an old and established house, who knew how to behave and could be trusted to deal with problems from time to time. They were even allowed their "eccentricities": Flandre had recently become unstable and the tradition of keeping her indoors had properly started by then, for her own good.

1615 was when the embassy of Hasekura Tsunenaga arrived in Saint Tropez and caused a social sensation. While the story so far seems like an endless succession of strife and war, let it be known that the europeans, Scarlets included, enjoyed some furious periods of peace from time to time. Remilia wanted to see the exotic foreigners, so she dragged the Witch to one of the parties held in their honor.

There they were immediately spotted by Youki and Ran. See, unlike what happened in Europe, which had been in a constant state of national strife, Japan was by then about to be unified in a shogunate. Peace, specially longtime peace, is deadly for the supernatural folk. It’s when it’s pretty much guaranteed that the humans will look to their strange bedfellows made in times o fnecessity, and decide that a world without man eating monsters is just safer. And that wasn't even the first time Japan would be in peace for a long while. The point is, the youkai of Japan were by then much better at hiding their natures than the ones in Europe (or, you know, we could totally TL;DR; this part by saying just "ninja"). Remilia seriously had Flandre cast a spell of invisibility on her wings, a small illusion on her eyes turning them brown again and called it a day. Seriously. To Japanese youkai noses, she smelled like the site of a massacre. But then again, nobody bathed in Europe at that time.

So, Vampire and Witch were “mingling” in the party for the japanese ambassadors, doing the mystical equivalent of dressing a gorilla in a tutu and expecting people believe you have a ballerina. Remilia knew how to “hold down her aura”, it was one of the few acts of magic out of MAIM KILL BURN she was capable to do by then. The Witch, who took pride in her own stealth, showed to the vampires how to control and subdue their auras and the girls had learned it. They were all so proud of each other then.

And then you have Youki and Ran looking incredulously to each other, like “Dude, are the humans here blind or anything? There are two youkai there, like, glowing.” (actual dialogue may vary, but they were teenagers).

So they dutifully reported their finding to their mistresses, who were in any case remote viewing the party and thinking pretty much the same thing about that disgusting lack of stealth. And Yukari said: “Arrange a meeting with them. I want to see them from close.”

Ran then approached the witch and vampire pair and this is another of those times were things work much better in cheap fiction than in reality: See, language barrier is a thing that exists, and it’s a bitch. Ran hesitated, threw some japanese at them, kind of expected the blank stares she received in return and then, by the amused chit chat between crone and brat, it suddenly dawned to her that if the smelly barbarians weren’t any good at stealth, they couldn't be any good at perception, either. Like, they were being fooled by her illusion of being a man. So, she got their immediate and lasting interest lifting just a bit of her magical veil, letting her tails appear, just outside the range of a normal human’s vision. “Come on, idiots. Even you can’t be that blind, right?” she probably thought.

Well, that act certainly caused some communication to occur. Witch and vampire opened their eyes widely, with the brat even baring her fangs. Youki moved to a support position behind Ran, just in case, because among the beasts, showing the teeth like that was usually the invitation for a fight. Then the witch opened her toothless mouth and spoke, carefully. Ran noticed she was trying different languages.

They finally got some actual dialogue when the Witch tried Portuguese. Ran knew some of that! It was an useful lingua franca by then, so they stumbled through the greetings and Ran said: “My mistress is great, uh... great magical monster (“youkai! what’s the damn word for youkai?!”) She desires meet you two.”

The witch conveyed the message to the vampire, who was by then staring intently to Ran. The fox wondered if they didn’t teach people here to avoid eye contact like that, unless it's a fight they want. She turned a bit to Youki and said that. Youki answered with something more practical, like: “You know, if we bring these two inside your house, you’ll have to spend years scrubbing the stink away.”

“Yeah, good point. Open place meeting it is, then.” answered Ran, who then noticed, with great alarm, that the old woman was suddenly babbling alone.

That the brat had disappeared from her views was cause for a freak out. That bat winged youkai had bared her fangs, she had stared into Ran as if she could bore a hole in her head. Of course she could be violent too, and right now, Fox and half-ghost were vulnerable, in a strange land, burdened by their disguises. She called into the shikigami link, fear in her thoughts:

“Lady Yukari. The... The small one disappeared.”

The answer came back, a hint of anger just below the surface: “No, Ran. She’s right before you. What she did, instead, was hypnotizing you. You’ll be punished later for lowering your guard like this.”

Ran turned to where the brat should be (the old woman and Youki could still obviouly see her, Ran noticed now) and concentrated, seriously angry now. One thing not immediately apparent to people who see the meek Ran of today, is how different that is from her natural state. Beast youkai as a whole have feral instincts, and kitsune are supposed to be right on the top of that food chain. Yukari took the taming of Ran as a proof of concept for her idea that youkai could congregate and survive in enclosed spaces. If she could do that with a Kitsune, then few other youkai would complain and say that it’d be impossible for them to behave.

But then, Ran left herself to be pulled into an impromptu clash of minds with that brat, and to her rising anger, she wasn’t winning. They couldn’t even trade a word, because the brat was so ignorant of idioms as she actually looked like, but their minds were fighting each other pretty much alright. An argument for how violence is the other universal language, maybe, but whenever Ran seemed to be about to break the control spell and see the brat again, Remilia would change the focus of her attack just a bit, in a way that Ran couldn’t understand, and then she disappeared completely again.

That was the first signal that they were not dealing with a plain regular youkai. Among the many powers of a vampire there is "mastery over the beasts of the night and the dead." and it's almost unfair how strong and flexible that is. The 100 years old Remilia had ensnared the 400 years old Ran, and while Remilia couldn't put the fox under her complete control, she could mess with her senses pretty well.

What finally turned the fox from that little war was the clammy hand of the Witch shaking her arm. This was when Yukari had to intervene and take direct control of Ran via the shikigami link, lest her kitsune started a killing spree. Yukari made sure her entrance was as painful for Ran as possible. She didn’t like to see her servant making such a bad impression. The Portuguese barely spoken by “Ran” became perfect classical Latin, and moreover, the hypnotism game ended at once, broken by a spell.

“Old woman, among us, touching like this is very offensive. Unhand me at once.” the fox said to the Witch, with a voice carrying much more authority.

That Yukari had, for all practical purposes, just entered that room in a bad mood, was immediately felt, not just by Youki, who whimpered, or by the Witch and Vampire, who took a step back, but by everybody else, who felt something bad like a chilling wind. That strange encounter of those four people of no apparent importance had attracted some curious glances, but after the entrance the people in the room turned their heads directly away from Yukari, deathly afraid. They would all forget that event later.

“I invite you foe a meeting in my kingdom, oh european magical beings. I desire to know more about you.”

“It’s not wise for us to acc...” started the Witch in a cautious Latin, but Remilia was having nothing of that. She rised her hand and said something to the old woman. They turned to each other. A world of unspoken communication passed between then. When they broke eye contact, the Witch turned to Ran/Yukari and said: “We accept your invitation. My friend requires that the meeting be in a closed place.”

“This is not possible.” Yukari said. She was in the room now, and could confirm that the feedback signals Ran was sending were every bit true: How people here stank. Considering her feelings about them, she concluded that it was pretty much the same accusation the moon people always levied against herself: Of being a dirty, impure beast. A small part of her felt some sympathy, but what she actually thought while the barbarians traded whispers was: “Maybe I should let those arrogant fools in the moon see these beasts here, and see if their opinion of me wouldn’t immediately improve.”

“Then that the encounter happens on a night of clear weather.” the Witch finally said.

“I'll arrange this. Thank you [for revealing two of your weaknesses], magician.” Yukari answered, keeping the part between brackets in Japanese.

Then Yukari cut the link and was back into Gensokyo. She went outside to breath some fresh air, wondering about where to host that encounter.
  • my Pixiv

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Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2012, 04:50:38 pm »
Eh, so nobody seems to care enough about this to comment. Whatever. I wrote more.

The encounter happened in the following night, once Yukari and Yuyuko arranged for a graceful gazebo to be constructed in the peninsula on the misty lake. Yeah, a japanese gazebo, get over it. That location was chosen for three important reasons:

1 - Scenic, to impress the barbarians
2 - open and windy, to minimize the damage their bad smell would cause
3 - surrounded by water, just in case.

Now Yukari isn’t an idiot, so she knew just “water” couldn’t be a weakness, because, sincerely, fuck the youkai with that kind of lame flaw. It had to be rain, or snow, or high winds, or dust, or frogs, or about 10 other forms of “weather that’s not clear.” but that just meant Yukari had to keep about 15 prepared spells to deal with the bat winged brat if she got out of control. A small part of Yukari actually expected that the girl did something stupid and had to be put out, because it was frankly disgusting to see youkai people living like that (so yeah, you can berate Yukari all you want, but go and actually try to keep an open mind when experiencing the kind of culture shock that was possible back then. Harder than it looks).

A bigger part of Yukari was fascinated, however. That uncouth brat had learned new tricks during the brief mind war with her Ran, the gap youkai was sure of that thanks to the shikigami link. Talent, raw talent was something Yukari knew how to recognize and appreciate, and wasn’t she the Youkai Sage? Wasn’t she, right now, inviting all youkai to live peacefully in her realm? If she could somehow, tame this other awesome beast, just as she had tamed Ran, how the respect she’d receive would increase…

Yukari was lost in this kind of power trip when Ran signaled through their link. She opened the gap before her servant and corrected her posture, to appear more relaxed in her seat than she actually was. Her plan for the encounter was simple:

1 - Project absolute force and security to awe the barbarians
2 - Win them over

If you remember the anime event metaphor for planning I used back then and compare Yukari’s and the Witch’s plans, you can learn something: See, Yukari is the polar inverse of “stupid”. And yet, most of the time, whenever possible in fact, her plans are the simplest possible. This, coming from a woman that can seriously make dozens of plans with dozens of steps and actually make all them succeed should tell something: Keep It Simple, baka!

Because even something simple like that can fail, as it indeed failed. There, I spoiled the ending again.

Out of the gap emerged Remilia and the Witch and this was when Yukari had the first surprise. The barbarians were clean. As in, they had bathed and perfumed themselves. Later she found that the they had asked Ran and Youki about how the japanese envoys could look so well groomed. The effect of a honest to goodness bath, with soapy water, as opposed to the wet clothes europeans seriously used back then, was astounding on a vampire. To be fair, so it was on the Witch too, but I already said that she looked like 120 years old and that she didn’t give a damn about beauty, anyway.

Remilia’s presence under the moonlight, as she stepped out of the gap, was already enough to make Yuyuko cover her mouth with the fan. It was not, unlike a few other vampires, that she sparkled (url not needed), or anything so crasssimple. It was a mental effect instead: looking to that girl under that moonlight, and there couldn’t be anything better, ever. Yukari caught the hint that Yuyuko, and Youma standing guard behind them, and Youki who had now emerged from the gap, were specially weak against that.

Then the vampire spread her wings fully and jumped, rising slowly to the air as if she weighted no more than a sakuracherry petal. For a moment even Yukari was about to fall for that. It was right then, when Yukari and Remilia’s eyes first met, with Remilia proudly gliding towards the gazebo, that the elder youkai noticed that her plan was a failure, and that all her power trips about taming the barbarian youkai came down, crashing and burning. Yukari knew right then that whatever the girl happened to be, that she was not a potential servant, but a potential rival.

“Well, whatever.” Yukari thought, changing plans, body language, everything. "If this impertinent brat wants a show, I'll give her one."

Yukari knew how to be subtle. The appreciation of muted and seemingly simple things is an entire part of japanese aesthetics, that she dominated well. But she also knew that Shibui and Wabi-sabi more often than not flied right over the heads of other youkai, and that's when the plain old overpowering display of force had its place. Gaps opened around the gazebo, not the nice, stable traveling gaps, but the crackling gaps, puking ultra-violet light, with white arms reaching out. Large demons emerged out of the gaps.

“Oh dear. Will there be killing, now? I had a lot of fun arranging this nice food spread, and you’ll just kill them?” said Yuyuko, a bit disappointed.

Youma, behind the ladies, clicked his mountain sized sword out of its sheath (a bit of exaggeration there, guys) and went into a half-kneeing position.

The Witch? The Witch did nothing but to narrow her eyes and hide her hands. That was pretty much what Yukari had come to expect from any magician, so she paid her no further notice. If things got as real as she by now hoped they did, Youki would cut her and the landscape behind her before she could chant a spell, anyway.

The Vampire? The vampire, by her turn, landed before Yukari, collected all her presence back to herself, folded her wings and did an elegant curtsy. The gap youkai noticed that the girl was already better at hiding her aura than she was on the day before.

“I want to hug this girl to death, Yukari, she’s just too cute.” said Yuyuko, leaning on her friend.

“As long as it ends with her death, I’m fine with it.” said Yukari, bowing down her head just a bit in response to Remilia’s greeting, never taking her eyes from the girl. Remilia had her own eyes lowered.

Since Remilia had backed down from that very first confrontation, Yukari's alert levels went down to a “not kill her right now” level, so she gaped the demons away and they made the introductions. Yukari introduced herself and Yuyuko first, being sure to indicate their “species” after the names: “I’m Yakumo Yukari, the Youkai Sage.” “This is my friend Saigyouji Yuyuko, princess of the ghosts.” etc.

The Witch translated that to the girl, who by her nods had already figured what was happening.

“I’m Remilia Scarlet, vampire, queen of the night.” she said in Latin, with a sweet childish voice.

Now, this is how language works: The girl had talked with the Witch beforehand, and quite obviously had memorized what to say. Yukari knew the tongue, so she got that the brat was named Remila and that she had just called herself a queen. So far, so good. Every other low-class youkai nobody calls him or herself king this, queen that, etc. Arrogance is pretty much a youkai trait. But the word “vampire” was still just a sound for Yukari. Moreover, she was pretty sure the girl had just used a French word inside a Latin phrase, confirming that she was before something new.

"You are welcome to my realm, oh magician and vampire." she said, bowing to the guests. And then, signaling to her servants: "Now, I provided for some entertainment, so let's enjoy the evening."

For some time then, those supernatural beings could at least pretend that they were actually in a peaceful meeting. Youki brought a low table for them to sit around. Ran provided silk cushions for the the barbarians who certainly didn’t know how to properly sit, as they had imagined and just confirmed: The old woman tried to crouch, found it uncomfortable, and had to be assisted by the kitsune to find a sitting position that was easy on her bones. The girl sat down with her legs together, to the side of her body, her wings folded around her flanks.

Yuyuko, world class hostess, played the shamisen and sang. The barbarians were at least educated enough to bring a gift: the old woman reached inside her many folds of clothing and pulled a tightly wrapped bundle, containing something with the apparent size and shape of a human baby. Yukari looked to the gift with a neutral expression, while Yuyuko looked puzzled. It wouldn't be the first time visiting youkai brought her food like that, but Yukari thought that gifts of food were almost always in bad taste.

Then Ran respectfully unwrapped the gift to find a bloated mandrake root. Exposed, the properly dug root could be seen seeping magic. That was a ... rather more thoughtful gift, Yukari imagined, as she thanked them.

Youki and Ran served the food - Yukari had Yuyuko prepare an elegant but conservative table fit for youkai nobility, so they were served with gracefully arranged, fine cuts of four different meats: human, boar, pheasant, salmon. Vegetarian miso soup too, just in case. Yukari knew from experience that any being that could at least eat meat wouldn’t have problems with at least one of those. It was in a sense a test to know more about them.

Remilia went right for the human flesh (man eater, just as us, noted Yukari) but passing her finger over it, she noticed it was completely dried of blood. With a disappointed face and a visible pout that made Yuyuko prod Yukari under the table (“Cuuuuute! She’s so cute, I’ll die again! Give her to me, Yukari!”) Remilia put the dry flesh on her mouth and started chewing down, anyway. The Witch went hungrily for the three other meats, and had a good serving of soup too. (“So, their old women are just like ours. Why is that old women are always good eaters, Yukari? Do you see me as a granny because I eat too much? Do you?”)

After they ate, the servants removed the table, Yuyuko took the shamisen again and Yukari forced some communication. The food choice test had just the previsible results, so it was time to find more about vampires, and figure at once the risks of dealing with one.

“What’s your relationship with that girl, magician?” she asked the Witch (during the introductions, the Witch said that she had a secret name that could not be spoken, which was totally acceptable for everybody there. She was, therefore, the “magician”).

The magician blushed. She seriously did that.

“That girl is, well, she’s my friend.”

It was “that girl” instead “this girl” because Remilia had taken out her shoes and ran to the water side. She was seemingly just playing there, skipping around, kicking water and picking stones, the very image of innocence.

Yukari said: “She’s … My insistent friend here tells me to say that your little friend is just too cute.” (now stop the prodding, Yuyuko. The little kid is that one, see? Not you.)

“That she is. Somehow, I think she’s getting prettier with the age.” said the witch.

Well, of course, stupid. Yukari thought, but not said. What do you take us for? Our power concentrates with age. Are european magicians that ignorant? Or wait, could it just be that you’re in awe of your vampire friend? Next question:

“You said age, right? Then, how old is she? I see that if she was a human, she’d be about 10, but with us magical beings there’s no way to know but asking.”

“Oh, she was indeed about 10 when she became a vampire (take note, vampires are something like magicians, that can start living as humans). Counting the years has become a bit pointless since I stopped aging (well again of course, stupid. Skip the obvious useless information you could have the decency of not mentioning to me, of all beings) but she’s a bit over a century old, now.”

Whoa. Seriously, whoa. (Not Yukari’s actual thoughts) “Two notes here: First and of no consequence: vampires, just as magicians, freeze their human growth once they become. Whatever.” The second bit of data was frankly bad news, through: “But this is really a brat, she’s just 100 years old. And yet, she’s already dangerous like this.”

“She said she was a vampire. What is a vampire, after all?”

The Witch hesitated. She and Remilia had had one of their discussions before coming to the encounter. The Witch wanted to operate on an obfuscation basis. Lie or hide everything not immediately evident, play it safe, learn everything we can, see if there’s treasure to be taken, get back safely.

Remilia, who had won the discussion (the Witch wondered when it was the last time she had actually won against the vampire) wanted to do pretty much the opposite. It was a bit cute, actually, that Remilia had basically the same plan as Yukari for the encounter:

1 - Overwhelm the japanese beings with my awesomeness
2 - win them over.

Well, that first step, the one about the overwhelming, had crumpled down pretty much completely once the blonde one had nonchalantly gated in like a dozen of huge devils to her side. So the fact was, Remilia also had changed her plans once she saw the cold, snarling reality. The vampire was up to something else now. What it was, the Witch didn’t know, since telepathy sadly wasn’t one of the powers every vampire got.

That put the Witch in a pinch: The original plan would go by candidly telling all the powers of a vampire, to convince the japanese that any kind of resistance was futile. But now? What to say? Remilia had backed down, so the Witch for once trusted her own “be quiet, stupid!” instincts and said:

“Oh, you see. In the new world, there lives some bats who feed on blood. Vampire bats. My friend is one of these, who awakened.”

“Ooh...” Yukari nodded. That seemed adequate. Still...

“But... If these bats came from the new world, shouldn’t she be one of those painted indians that live there? Furthermore, didn’t you say right now that she lived as a human for 10 years?”

“The vampire bats have their special ways. My speciality are the inert elements of nature, not the living beings, so I can’t offer an explanation for this.”

Yukari couldn’t really argument with that. Yeah, it was essentially a reduction to “it’s magic, you can’t explain it!” but even Yukari couldn’t figure the laws that governed what kind of beasts or objects could awake into youkai. Some of them did, some didn’t, and there were all kinds of weird rules governing each case, so she said:

“Magic is surely mysterious, uh? So, what the vampire bats can do? And what the vampires they become can do?”

“They drink human blood to live and can evade the senses of their prey. They navigate perfectly in pure darkness. They’re strong as many man put together and faster than any of them. Indeed, they claim to be the rulers of night.”

Yeah, thanks for mentioning only the standard youkai powers and the things I already saw with my own eyes, magician. I see where this conversation is going. Yukari again thought. What she said was:

“Say, if they are beasts, we have something interesting here. My servant Ran is, pretty much as your friend, a beast that awakened. In her case, she was but a mere fox. Now, thanks to the mysteries of magic, mere foxes become very powerful awakened beasts, to the point that we call them the kings of beasts here.”

The witch narrowed her eyes. This time she was the one who could see where the conversation was going, and she didn’t like it one bit.

"My servant is little more than a kid, too, with just six tails. Your kid friend calls herself a queen and we have a young king here. It seems to me, that a little game is in order to settle the correct precedence."

Maybe the Witch just had used some secret communication, maybe it was just that Remilia had got bored of her play by the lake and came skipping to the gazebo. Yuyuko, who had got a nice serving of cute candid scenes while Remilia played by the lake could control herself better now. She properly covered her mouth with the fan and leaned on Yukari, saying: “The next girl I see that’s vaguely like Remilia, I’ll kill and keep to myself, got it?”

“Yes, my dear. Now prepare yourself, we’re about to see something good here.”

Remilia arrived and Yukari saw the witch explain tersely for her what had just transpired. The vampire tied her shoes looking very brightly to Yukari, then to Yuyuko, then to Ran. She beamed a smile that showed her fangs and nodded. The Witch turned to Yukari:

“She agreed to fight your servant. Now I wish to cast a spell and summon a weapon for her.”

“This is getting interesting, isn’t it?” chimed in Yuyuko, once Yukari translated that for her. “I thought most beasts had better natural weapons, anyway.”

Yukari didn’t bother to translate Yuyuko for the Witch, instead just arching her eyebrows in a rather universal, wordless “oh, really?”

“My friend has delicate hands. She requested a sword.” said the witch, chanting a spell.

The spell was quickly spoken, a well made incantation of the metal school, and it solidified into a Katzbalger, a style of one handed sword that some European warriors favored back then.

“If I may humbly request.” growled Youma “Me and my son would be pleased to examine the weapon.”

Remilia giggled at that and for once Yukari knew that that was a genuine expression of glee: The savage looking Youma provoked that all the time, first by just speaking, since most people tended to assume looking to him that he was too dumb for that. Second because he actually had a pretty polite manner of speech, at least around the ladies (among other samurais, it was back to OOOOSSSHHHAAAA time, through). That second fit of giggle got lost on translation, since Youma had spoken in plain Japanese, having figured, Yukari imagined, that by speaking slowly and clearly enough, the barbarians would understand him. Keep hoping, Youma!

Yukari at once translated the request, the foreigners acquiesced and handed the sword, pommel first, to the huge half ghost. He took the blade respectfully and examined it as carefully as if it was a masterpiece. It was reassuring to have warriors who took their tools seriously around.

“It’s a solid blade!” Youma spoke, handling it back to the Witch, who then passed it to the vampire. That was telling. Youma was a hardcore zen buddhist (indeed, he was a hardcore everything), without a grain of guile. He wouldn’t tell a lie, and he wouldn’t tell a bad thing about anything that could be used to kill a man - that would be just bad form. But he didn’t say “it’s a well made blade” or “it’s a exceedingly sharp, or balanced, or pointy, or anything else that really matters to an actual sword.” It was “a solid blade”, instead. A dense, swordlike slab of steel, deadly only in the hands of someone strong enough to make that cut.

Yukari turned to her servant: “Ran, the girl is very strong or fast, probably both, maybe more than you can deal with, so take care and don’t die.”

Ran listened to her mistress advice as if through thick headphones. Blood was pumping inside her head loud enough to deafen anything but the urges to kill, since Yukari had suggested the duel she had been wishing for since the hypnotism fiasco. The kitsune had worked herself into a killing frenzy aimed at the the little girl who took position a good 20 feet away from her and signalled that she was ready by a nearly universal “come!” gesture with the tip of the sword.

Before we continue, it should be noted how freaking seriously beasts take combat with other beasts. Awakened animals, beasts are both youkai and biology, and biology takes territorial or precedence disputes very, very seriously. Ran was itching to make the girl pay for the mind tricks from before, and on guard against it, so it wasn’t at all surprising for her that the vampire girl disappeared as soon as she signaled the duel’s start.

“Appear! Coward! This is a fight!” Ran shouted.

“Ran, behind you!!!”

Yeah, this time it wasn’t hypnotism. Remilia had moved faster than Ran could see and was about to decapitate the fox from behind. All shounen manga like that. Again, since this is background story and Ran exists, you don’t even have to fear for her. What happened in the minutes that followed was a pretty severe domination by Remilia, who wasn’t even fighting like she actually did when she was serious about killing. She kept her claws retracted, didn’t use magic and kept flying to a minimum once it was clear that Ran had troubles following. She just kept that swordlike slab moving so fast that it was but a whistling silvery blur, using nothing but her raw strength, and pushed the kitsune to brink of collapse with it. Ran fought with everything she had. She counter attacked with her claws, she tried to bite and grapple, she evoked fire magic and tried to burn or tie down the vampire, all to no avail. The kitsune better spells required some seconds to chant, seconds the vampire wasn’t giving.

Remilia didn’t win the fight because she “tired quickly” as the reliable combat narrator, the Witch, just explained. Vampire bats were like that, capable of real bursts of speed and power, but if the fight went for more than a few minutes, they’d expend all their reserves. So, by the end, Remilia let Ran take hold of her. Ran went immediately for the neck, claws ablaze, and Remilia immediately cried that she gave up, conceded, lost. The witch relayed this to Yukari, who relayed this to Ran and then relayed again, angrily, before the fox killed the girl. Really, you people who see how obedient Ran is nowadays...

Ran, by her turn, was a bit freaked out by having held Remilia’s neck firmly. Firmly here meaning “with the intention of tearing it apart with her supernatural claws.” By the time Yukari sent the second warning, Ran’s killing instinct had being substituted by a “what the hell am I holding here?!” weird feeling. In one moment she felt the girl's consciousness, in the next countless small minds compressed in the girl's shape, ready to dissolve and spread, then the just the girl again.

Remilia stood up and dusted off her dress, looking like a very contrite girl. Ran looked to her hand and to the girl, again and again.

Both vampire and fox returned to the group in silence, the winner having being clearly called out, but everybody was finding that a bit strange. The Witch said:

“Remilia will refrain to call herself the queen of night in deference to your fox.”

Yukari translated that for her group, not even bothering with adding her own thoughts to it.

“Maybe she will start calling herself the queen of jobbing, instead?” (to the ones still reading, indignant to see a Pro Wrestling term used with regards to events happening 500 years ago, be at ease. The world Yuyuko really used was one meaning essentially the same as jobbing, but with regards to the ritual shrine wrestling that would a bit later become Sumo. There. Immersion mantained)

Yukari was about to convey exactly that to words the barbarians could understand when Remilia did the surprising thing and pointed her sword to Youma: “When I’m rested, I want to fight the big man there.”

“Excuse me?” went Yukari. “You? Fighting Youma. And look, aren’t you tired, or wha-”

“If I may humbly state my opinion, the little girl, while in excellent physical form, is severely lacking in spirit. She has more to learn from my son.”

There, Youma went and spoke again. Yukari hadn't even bothered with translating that bizarre request, but the half-ghost correctly figured what it was by Remilia's body language.

And he was kind of going along with the girl’s wish. Or rather, he put his own twist on what was like, the sixth twist from that encounter? Yukari was getting tired of counting twists to decide who had the upper hand at any given moment. Couldn’t people act in a predictable manner, please?

“Sure then. Let Youki fight the vampire, if everybody wants to do that.” Yukari said, instead, first in Latin to the Witch, then in Japanese to her group.

“Oh my! My dear Youki will fight! Win, Youki, win!”

Youki stood up. To allow Remilia “to rest”, they gave her about 10 minutes (during which what actually happens? Yukari wanted to ask. But everybody was getting along so fine...)

Spoiling it again, that second duel went down like this: It was over in an instant, and Remilia lost it, fair and square, no jobbing that time.

See, it was a matter of wrong perceptions. Remilia’s second plan for the encounter, once the situation became an apparent death trap, was this: “I’ll pretend to be weak, but not as weak as to be laughed away. So I’ll lose to the mean looking monster girl there, and win against one of these soldiers here.” The keyword ruining Remilia’s plan was, of course, “soldier”. Youma and Youki weren’t soldiers. They ate soldiers (ashigaru) for breakfast. By that time, Remilia actually had a fair share of fights against supernatural beasts back in Europe, to the point that she felt safe enough to place herself in melee range with one and just show off for a bit. But she had zero experience against attacks against her willpower and self-worth, like the standard Samurai steely glare before a duel.

So at the second match's first second, when youki directed his razor sharp focused intent to kill to Remilia, the vampire found herself unable to move. Her self confidence broke down. That boy, still too young to shave, had a better stake at living that her, so she could as well do him a favor and let herself to be cut, so it’s suddenly not only shounen manga again, but one of those psychological chapters. Remilia dropped the sword, wrapped herself in her wings and started to cry.

That, incidentally, was what allowed her and the Witch to leave Gensokyo alive. Yukari had been bothered by all the holes in the “just a bat, lol” story, bothered that a foreign youkai could get that amazingly strong in just a century and was pretty much decided to play a safe hand and kill them right there, and then maybe make wards against vampires to avoid having them arriving on her land in the future.

But then she realized, that the vampire was but another example of what she kept seeing again and again from Europe. Something shiny and powerful on the outside, but hollow inside. “They don’t meditate, they don’t focus, they don’t nothing. She’s not dangerous, at all. How silly of me.”

So Yukari opened the gap back to Saint Tropez, and sent the barbarians back, but only after she and Yuyuko threw some condescending barbs at Remilia for breaking down like that. The vampire went home with a Buddhist rosary (hey, Youki had given it out of purely good will, with an earnest “use this to meditate, it improves your willpower!”) and a gourd of human blood, so that she didn’t pass out before reaching home, because she was obviously weak like that.



Remilia’s rage was terrible. Once she made sure there were no sensors watching her, she let out her magic power explosively, in scream of anger and frustration that materialized as a burning red cross, some 30 feet high. She threw herself on the ground and cried, she threw the gourd away (after drinking the contents, however). To sum up, she threw a tantrum, and a nasty one at that.

The Witch feared for Remilia’s stability, remembering what had happened with Flandre recently. She didn’t want to carry along two broken girls, that would be a bit unfair. But then, Remilia calmed down and sat on the ground, as a kid. She looked to the Witch.

“Do you love me?”

The Witch assured that yes, she loved her very much.

“Will you stay by my side, even if I do a ... a very dangerous thing?”

Trick question. Damn kids and their tricky, egoistical questions.

“I won’t let you do such a thing, my dear. You know, I can make it rain on you to keep you down.”

“But... But when a king or a queen wants to do something, this thing can never be wrong. Everybody follows them, even to war, even to death.”

Yeah, good point, that. You could say that by 1615, an argument for the divine right of kings had a kind of good inertia going for it. People in general wanted to believe that. But then again, Remilia was talking to a Witch and most magicians have a default response for this kind of reasoning:

“I do not serve anyone, Remi. My loyalty is for Knowledge only.”

“Knowledge only, and not a drop for your dear Remi?”

“Right. A drop of my loyalty for my dear Remi. And another drop for my dear Flandre, who I fear you’re not even thinking about now.”

“No, I think on my little sister all the time. First, I cannot let her see me slumped like this. I got to be the big sister.”

“Yeah, you get to be the big sister, which cannot happen if you die to stupid foreign monsters.”

“I won’t die to stupid foreign monsters. Instead, I’ll kill some of them, and rule over the rest.”

“Remilia...”

“I know what I’m talking about! See, these stones? They’re from there. I went to the water margin to pick them. I know you can attune to them and take us there...”

“Remilia! One more word about this, and I swear!”

“I said I know what I’m talking about! It’s not something for now! Ouch! Stop hitting me!”

“It’s not something for any time! They are dangerous, they have these mysterious powers, like the one the boy used on you.”

“I’ll never fall to that again.” said Remilia, easily grabbing the staff the Witch was using to bonk her in the head. She had spoken in a lower, calculated voice that was pretty much the opposite of the high pitched spoiled girl she was being since they arrived home. The Witch was for once at a loss for words and approached the vampire:

“Remilia...”

“No, stop. No, I don’t want a hug. Well okay, I want a hug, but listen: I see now what he did with me, and I’ll show it to you: I’ll learn that and paralyze people exactly like he did with me, and then you'll see and then you’ll believe in me!”

“My dear, I believe in you, it’s just that... There’s so many, so many things that can go wrong...”

“I don’t care! You’re smart, I believe in you, too! You’ll make it work! I know it’s not something for now. We’ll need like, twenty years to prepare ourselves.”

“We’re not going anywhere.” said the Witch, but that sounded pretty much empty.

“You’re right, we’re not! We’re don't grow older, we grow stronger! So, let's stay here, and learn, and prepare. Now, let’s go home. I want to tell Flandre about the land we saw!”

That was pretty much the end of that discussion. Remilia was dead set on that idea, and as the Witch had just found out, some people, maybe by the Divine Right of the Kings, maybe by just stubbornness, could put an idea in their head and then move mountains, or even the entire world to get it.

Or maybe, you know, they could take possession of Gugnir, the spear of Odin, also called the Spear of Fate, that comes with power to move, well, fate itself. That was something that actually happened for Remilia, a bit later. Keep reading.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 05:08:46 pm by _cf »
  • my Pixiv

_cf

  • playing with training wheels
  • "Touhou" is japanese for "silly hats only"
Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 04:26:40 am »
Another day, another chapter. I want to have all this online at least until the point Yuugi appears, BEFORE Symposium of Post Mysticism hits the shelves. I'm certain that Yuugi's write-up will be much different than the one in my headcanon, so there are precious few days now for me to enjoy my Yuugi before she crumbles down before reality.

EDIT: I revised the text, adding dialogue to the part where Meiling joins the Scarlets and adding more Flandre. It's a bit hard to write about Flandre, almost as if she wanted to remain Unknown. Meiling, she suffers from some serious Yamcha syndrome. She's not incompetent, but sadly, her fate wasn't to be "Meiling, queen of faeries", but "Meiling, servant of vampires". Let's see if she can at least be happy with that. (she can)

From 1615 on, Remilia was a vampire with a long term objective: To arrive on Gensokyo, to rule over Gensokyo. While Yukari’s prejudiced view about her was kind of true, the elder youkai had left out of her analysis a deadly aspect of the european mindset: “Progress”.

See, in Europe if your enemy came over the hills attacking you with a never seen before weapon, you’d probably die, alright, but then your friends would learn about that weapon, create a defense for it and then go over those hills to avenge you. It’s a bit biased to say that this was an exclusively european thing, because by about the time this story was happening the Japanese were fighting their wars with Japanese made rifles that would make any german or english gun maker proud. But in the orient, there was this thing called “appeal to tradition” that had a seriously huge influence. As in, in Japan they would actually break all those rifles they made and go back to swords, because “that’s the way of our ancestors.” or some shit like that. You tried doing something like that in, say, one of the italian city-states or France and see how long you’d last.

Moreover, this is when I do the title drop. Remilia and Flandre were modern children. They were born during the enlightenment, where the general attitude was that man (or vampire) could learn from the past or research new things. Printed books were a thing then, and Remilia and Flandre made the Witch very happy when they started to bring many of those to their mansion. Books about everything, mainly because the girls could barely read and just stole them from homes and shops, so that the Witch could see what they had. They organized a library, and the Witch started to teaching the girls in a variety of subjects.

Remilia strengthened her mind and taught Flandre how to do the same. They learned to medidate, focusing inwards, and in the process unlocked a huge new mystical potential. Their house got richer and they started to slowly move their entire mansion eastwards. Long distance teleportation is totally a thing that can be done, but even if you have the kind of magical power available to vampires, taking an entire mansion with you will take decades, or centuries. By this point you could even posit that’s actually easier to physically tear down the mansion, put it into a ship or whatever, take it to the new place and rebuild it there. It’s not even easier, it’s exactly the same amount of work, only done in a different way. Both ways serve to different purposes. Just one of them let you arrive suddenly inside an enemy land, for instance.

Those of you wanting more canon touhou stuff must be tired of Witch this, Witch that. I mean, fuck original characters. Remilia has a witch, that’s called Patchouli, and here’s this old crone stealing the spotlight and uglyfing my Gensokyo. Well, the Witch has her purpose. See, at around the 1700s the Scarlets were then living in Russia, as part of their centuries old migration to the orient. They’re surviving just fine, still living entire series worth of action/adventure books, but what’s actually pertinent for us is that in that century, in Russia, the Witch found a burial site built by the ancient varangians (who were vikings who went to live in Russia, maybe even starting the country. Seriously).

Ancient burial sites, old stone circles, ruined temples and such have an eternal appeal to people like the Scarlets and Witch: They’re an important source of magic to steal and grow stronger. So it was looting time!

Inside, after killing some skeletons or something (hey, I don't have all the details, but this is what I expect from any dungeon), they found a cache of divine artifacts. I’m pretty sure that there were other stuff like hammers and cauldrons there too, but the items the girls actually touched were a rusty throwing spear and a crooked black wand that caught Flandre’s eye. Upon touching them, both spear and wand disintegrated, but not before hurting the girls’ hands. The Witch decided to call the looting expedition a day and retreated with both vampires in a tearful mood, complaining of something like cuts in their hands. That’s the reverse side of the appeal of old sites, of course: the ancient builders did things like the trap everything, all the time.

Remilia and Flandre got home, dropped the Witch on the ground just in time, and fell down, sick. Magically sick, as the Witch soon noticed. They felt into a dark nightmare filled slumber where they were being hounded by shadowy giant entities. This is a good point to say that the life in Europe for any other god other than the christian godheads was even shittier than the human’s lives. Having all their believers converted or killed somehow killed the other gods too. But then, gods have a part on them akin to memes: This is the part who spreads among followers or by preachers, and this part can totally continue to exist, in a dormant state, around their sacred sites or weapons, clinging to a life that they'll never have again, and knowing only how to spread.

All this technical talk is to say that Remilia and Flandre had been possessed by Odin and Loki. When I say "possessed" you may think that there were ghosts behind it, but’s not even that. The possessors were something like shells. Mindless, knowing only anger and despair, but still having quite a lot of divine power invested on them. The sickness were these shells attempting to mind control the girls and mold them into something that could attract worship for the aesir again. It was a sad and pathetic thing, actually, because that would never work, but the death of anything is sad, and it’s not different with religions.

Well, it turns out to be that possession is a mind attack, using fear to drill at your self worth until you surrender. Pretty much like the deathly glare of a samurai. Remilia and Flandre had trained to resist that. Once they were over the initial fear and shock, they turned that possession game over its head, found the divine shells in their nightmares, held them down and drained them, until there was nothing left. Youkai eat other beings to get stronger. Vampires do this explicitly. While you know more about the physical side of this phenomenon many times it’s a purely spiritual thing. Which the Scarlet sisters did. They attached themselves to the divine shells and absorbed their essences until they ceased to exist. That spiritual cat and rat game took nine days.

The Witch, who knew zero mind magic, never had a chance to communicate with the girls. It was a test of faith for her, to care for the two unconscious Scarlet sisters, who could only mumble and shiver. To her credit, she passed the test. Having locked and warded the mansion, she put each girl in her own coffin and waited, trying spell after spell to find one who could save her precious vampires.

At the end of those nine days the Witch noticed the dramatic rise on Remilia and Flandre's auras. Before she could cast something to understand what was happening, she saw the vampires awakening together and rising from their coffins. The girls looked around, in eerie silence, their eyes alight in a way the Witch had never seen before.

“Remilia? Flandre?” she called out, focusing her mystical eye to see what exactly was before her. The girls’ auras had changed, not only in intensity, but in quality.

The Witch's fears abated when the Scarlets yawned and stretched, hugged each other and then pulled her into a three person hug, giggling all the way. They were still the same girls. Still, they were more now, and they wanted to demonstrate right then:

“Gugnir...” called Remilia, raising her hand. Her blood magic aura flared more and more, as a shaft of blazing red light materialized from where her hand had been wounded. Waves of heat emanated from the shaft, who stabilized as a solid throwing spear of red light.

“Lævateinn!” called Flandre and huge fires emanated from her entire body. The Witch was an elementalist and adjusted her body to survive that, because otherwise she’d be incinerated together with everything else in that basement. Inside the terrible fires, a twisted black shape formed and coalesced into Loki’s sword.

On the following days, the girls tested their new weapons: Gugnir was a throwing spear that never missed and always sought the heart. Lævateinn became a huge, but weightless sword of pure raging fire. Both weapons seemed to complement each vampire favored fighting range. And these weapon uses weren't even the important part:

The important part was that the Scarlets got their “special abilities”. Flandre’s ability was the first one they figured out, and it was pretty fucking strong. Flandre started claiming she could see “eyes” on everything she concentrated on. It was then a matter of willing these eyes to come to her hand, where she had being wounded by Lævateinn, Once the eye arrived and touched that point, Flandre could “wound” it by closing her hand, at which point whatever or whoever originated the eye would, quite plainly, crumble down.

An inanimate thing hit by Flandre’s wounding wand (this is what Lævateinn means, by the way) would immediately fall apart along a myriad of cracks and gashes. Living beings crumbled by the same principle, but with them it was a rather messy sight, since there was always blood and organs kept under pressure inside them. Living beings exploded.

A defense for that? If something like that existed, they never figured it. Everything and everyone, up to and including elder vampires or devils they met, would be destroyed when Flandre closed her hand. There was a "time for activation", if you want to be really precise or is writing a Touhou RPG. The eye left its owner and flied to Flandre’s hand, a flight that took about one second for close things, and up to a few seconds for very distant things.

Remilia, by her turn, didn’t see eyes on things, but chains. Sadly for her, most attempts to do anything with them failed, becase the chains of all things and creatures were entangled. The chains, she knew intrinsically, were “fate”, but how can you use something like that? She couldn’t break them, she couldn’t move them, she couldn’t even understand what a particular display of chains meant, so no future reading for her. She felt cheated by that useless special ability.

She noticed with time, however, that she could do a few things with those chains, after all. She could bind things or people to her, or at least this is how she understood it. First Flandre, then the Witch, at moments where Remilia was relaxed and just enjoying her time with them, suddenly she’d see the chains of the other person entangling with her own. She started carrying the peebles from Gensokyo with her all the time, until one day, surely, she found them entangled to her. “This is proof that my wish will come true.” she thought.

If you go and read the vampire's entry at Hieda's book, you'll notice that among all their powers, there's not being "smarter". They are stronger and faster, but they solve logical problems pretty much like you and me. And Remilia wasn’t even the smart sister: In the hands of somebody with better brains, like uh, everybody else with a speaking role in this story so far, her ability would be world changing, in ways that would dwarf even her younger sisters’s ability. “Destroying everything” is a pretty much an ever-hostile and aggressive ability. Fate control, however could do that (“it’s the fate of this thing to be broken!”) and much more (“it’s the fate of this person to become my faithful servant!”) Seriously, Odin was the head god of his pantheon pretty much because he played everybody like that. Remilia however, couldn’t, and still can’t figure how to even disentangle the chains most of the time. A pity for her, but Gensokyo would be much less interesting with a spoiled and self centered vampire as its absolute queen. Therefore, good for us.

Time passes and by the 1800s the vampires had been living in Asia for sometime now. Asia was by then, quite frankly, a playground for the european colonial powers, and the Scarlets benefited extremely from that. You got immediate deference by just being white skinned, which is sad but it's a thing that happened anyway. To the Scarlets’ defense, they weren’t even racists themselves. They were, and are, pretty much insufferable vampire supremacists, but that is a given for about any supernatural being. Mos, if not all youkai, even the faeries and the bugs, believe deep down that they are the best thing in the game of life. With vampires it’s just a bit more grating because they have all that huge power to back up their claims of being better than you, but at least those sisters never cared about something so silly like human’s skin color.

The Scarlets' power kept increasing and concentrating as they aged, which is true for all youkai, but’s even truer for vampires. See, by the 1800s, Remilia and Flandre could already adjust their sleeping schedule as they wished and could even witstand direct sunlight for a time. If they took the care of bringing a feeble parasol, that time became “all the time.” Operating outside in the Sun wasn’t a problem for them anymore, as long as they dressed as any other high class girl of that age, carrying the expected fancy parasol. Some paranoid theorists may even claim that the cult of the pale skin was something started by vampires so that they could operate in open society. Whatever, I think that is kind of going too far.

Anyway, we were in the 1880s now and the Scarlet Devil Mansion, as their trusty manor house was called, was now existing in the French Concession, Shanghai, China. Remilia never got tired of making additions to their house, which by then had gained a rather incongruous clock tower. But why were they in Shanghai? Because that city had a nice balance of being open to Europeans, being big enough to have the magical supplies they needed, and being physically close to Gensokyo.

How close? Seriously, check this out.

Now, other interesting things were happening by the mid 1880s. France and China were at war, Japan was in full bloom after the Meiji Restoration and in Gensokyo, Yukari was worried enough by the radical embrace of modernity and the western ways on Japan that she decided to close Gensokyo for real this time. She was doing that by constructing a “solid” barrier around the soft barrier between reality and fantasy that she had been dutifully erecting for centuries. The works for the barrier were at a high point by then, and as part of that, Gensokyo was broadcasting a kind of “last call” for fantastic beings. The Scarlets and the Witch could feel that beacon, from beyond the East China Sea, pointing to their destination. Since private tutoring was common and widespread, they were by that time already pretty decent readers and speakers of mandarin and japanese. This was important, because Remilia was pretty determined to conquer Gensokyo once they were inside. The mansion was stocked with weapons and ammunitions, they had battle plans, Remilia was writing speeches to deliver to her new subjects.

Then, one day, while the Witch was away in a trip to the countryside to collect magical supplies, the Scarlet sisters were drugged and abducted by an occult order also headquartered at the French Concession.

Reality has this shocking way to make you remember that you’re not always the protagonist of the story of your life. Sometimes you’re the “sacrificial victim” at the story of a bunch of guys you never heard of before. It’s nasty like this, and the Scarlets had been somehow shielded from this ugly aspect of life by getting very very strong, to the point where only a bunch of power hungry, arrogant lunatics could think they had a chance. In any case, they acted upon that chance and caught the Scarlets unaware.

Their plan was, seriously now, this one:

1 - Taking hold of some of these powerful vampires
2 - Drain their vampire blood and life to fuel our nightmarish magitech steampunk transformation engine. (not the actual name)
3 - By the engine, attain immortal vampire life while keeping our own magical powers
4 - PROFIT!

I don’t want to sound sexist here, I’m a man after all, but there’s something inherently masculine about their plan that simply didn’t exist on the former, female created plans in this story. Whatever.

So while the Witch was away, these magicians drugged and beat the Scarlets, took them to the dungeons underneath their temple/headquarters, and giving a quick glance to the sisters, deduced correctly that Flandre had much more magical power stored in her body. The magicians carried the younger sister to her death at the transformation engine.

They left a beaten and weakened Remilia chained to the wall of the same cell that also hosted a beaten and famished Hong Meiling. It’s funny how this fate thing works.

Now, Meiling’s lot in life hadn’t been nice so far, and by that I mean that if her life story was made into movies, they would be from the drama/terror genre. She had lived a nice life once, a long long time ago, with other people like her, when she had trained and became an martial arts expert. The people like her liked to call themselves dragons, but if this means that they were actual bona fide serpentine reptiles, or if it was just the name of their tribe or family, or whatever, it never became clear. They were chinese youkai, very human like in appearance. While they were men eaters like most youkai are, they were even kind of respected and fit in their traditional country society.

But then, the foreigners arrived. If you’re still unclear about what “foreigners arriving” meant to China, check out these links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_Rebellion

I don’t even want to write about that here, that shit was depressing.

So, Meiling’s ancestral lands had been sold, her people killed or enslaved. The "dragons" rebelled and fought back and were betrayed, had their leaders executed, were enslaved again. The whole “lets pick on the chinaman!” deal that was somehow hilarious for Europeans and Japanese back then. By the 1880s, Meiling had been sold as a slave to this occult order. She did demeaning or dangerous tasks for them and in reward was beaten, starved and had her supernatural blood drained from time to time to test and develop the transformation engine.

Now, Meiling, you may say what you want about her laziness, or mediocre skills, or whatever, but when it comes to what it really counts she’s a pretty upstanding person. How would you react, if after decades of soul searing oppression and abuse at the hands of foreigners, you saw a defenseless foreign kid being chained in your cell? An obviously well groomed and healthy child, with the western face you already saw many times, on haughty children who bullied you mercilessly? Keep two things in mind when imagining your reaction:

1 - Youkai can and will eat other youkai just as easily as they eat humans, absorbing their powers in the process
2 - Meiling wasn’t even chained or anything. The magicians were so used to the complacency of their slave that they got careless and just locked her in that cell now.

What would you do? I don’t even know how I’d react, but Meiling broke Remilia’s chains and using her mastery of chi, she dispelled what she could of the drugs in Remilia's body, awakening the vampire. Remilia, regaining her bearings, noticed two things: First, she could feel Flandre’s aura weakening by the minute even deeper underground. Second, the drugs still on her body somehow made all the blood she had on her useless for her. She looked to her Gugnir summoning hand, and while she could feel the divine spear still with her, she wasn’t even sure she could direct and control it in that state.

Remilia then asked Meiling for some of her blood.

Meiling asked what for.

Remilia answered that it was to rescue her precious sister, and then to get revenge.

There’s something almost unfair about very charismatic people. I mean, Meiling had about zero reasons to believe in Remilia, and about infinite reasons to eat the girl while she was weak and then enact her own revenge. It was her right. But no, what she did instead was to offer her arm for Remilia to bite and suck.

Well, that branch of that occult order got extinct a bit afterwards. Remilia went down on them like a wrecking ball made of indignant anger. She burst into the ritual chamber, freed Flandre from the machine and then was pulled into a deadly fight with the head magician, who had already absorbed enough of Flandre's power to become a newly born vampire. That head magician at least made good of their plan's “step 3.” Rushing with vampire power augmented by his own magic, he matched and countered Remilia attacks and threw the girl around for a bit. Remilia was suddenly on the defensive, with Flandre still drained and groggy. It's possible that the head magician had laughed evilly by that point and told them that any resistance was futile. I'll assume he did just that, because it fits what the records say about him (he was an asshole).

Remilia reacted by flying up, as if fleeing. The power mad newly born vampire followed her. Crashing ceiling after ceiling, throwing huge magical attacks against Remilia, until they were out there in the sky. Right under the Sun.

As we established a few pages ago, vampires need a couple of centuries of power concentration to survive that. Remilia grabbed the head magician and didn’t let him flee back inside, both of them burning under the Sun, until he was nothing but ashes. Ashes that Remilia collected to feed Flandre so that her little sister got that power back.

While that was happening above, Meiling had her own little revenge snapping necks or kicking heads off in the ritual chamber below. With the other magicians dead, she did the same for Flandre than she had done for Remilia, purging what she could of the magical drugs so that Flandre could awake. Flandre, who unlike her elder sister was also a competent magician, barely felt the effects of being without her blood magic, so she immediately grabbed Meiling by the neck with beams of solid light and pulled the chinese girl's "eye" to her hand.

Flandre said: "Say anything, because you'll die anyway."

Meiling said "Your wings, they are rainbows, how wonderful."

The problem with doing good deeds is that Karma sometimes is instantaneous. Flandre was already murderously unstable by then, and she was pissed off. In that situation, she would kill anyone that was not Remilia or the Witch on sight, as a matter of principle. Remilia would even lament that useless death and maybe even pay a temple for a memorial service in honor to the nobody who had saved them and died due to unfortunate circumstances. It's cold, but part of being an immortal is that you learn to move on.

But then, Meiling somehow touched Flandre's heart and Flandre didn't kill her. Instead, she stood up, felt the nearby auras, and then directed those rainbow beams of solid light against everything that wasn't dead already. The drumming sound of countless beams falling with the strength to pierce the rock floor drowned the screams of the magicians who were just playing dead up to that point. Then there were just two beings alive in that place. She turned to Meiling:

"Can you fly? I'll break this entire place and you better get away, quickly."

"Uh, no. No, no I can't. I'm sorry." said a very terrified Meiling. She had fought and killed some of those magicians just now and was feeling great and light-headed for finally letting out the anger repressed for decades, but that was small fish compared with what those kids were doing. She needed to focus on the small and important things again:

"Y-Your sister, I think, she had to flee just now, don't you want to help her?"

"I feel her. She finished her killing already. Come, let's go and meet her."

Flandre said that and extended her arms to Meiling, exactly the gesture of a kid who wants to be picked up by an adult. Meiling took the vampire and held her, awed. Flandre hugged back and then effortlessly took off. As they carefully ascended, Flandre avoiding the falling debris and shafts of sunlight, Meiling noticed how the girl's rainbow wings made twinkling noises when beating, beautiful like wind chimes. She was at a complete lack of what to say:

"I'm, uh... Meiling. Hong Meiling."

"I'm Flandre Scarlet. Why are you not eating well? Why are you wounded like this?"

The circumstances of an encounter can change everything. Remilia was the nice sister, but it was Flandre who first took an interest on Meiling. They were finally on the sky, and Flandre immediately started to become smoke. She squinted against that horrible light and saw Remilia floating above, hands on her hips, waiting for her. The elder sister was losing matter to the Sun too, but never stopped grinning.

"There's my big sister. What a show-off. Cover me from the Sun, please." asked Flandre, twisting their places so that Meiling's back was against the Sun.

Remilia summoned Gugnir and said: "Let's destroy this house who dared to -"

She didn't have a chance to finish the theatrical talk. Flandre squeezed her hand and the entire house imploded at once.

"That was not fair..."

"It was! Now, to the shadows!"

The vampires landed in the shades of a nearby gothic cathedral. Flandre let Meiling hanging precariously from a gargoyle and jumped on Remilia, in a tight hug. Remilia's skin and hair was entirely covered in ashes. With the immediate danger over, the younger sister let her emotions take over and started to cry: "You let me behind, stupid sis. And look to you, all dirty!"

"Hu hu hu, Flan... I just took a dangerous enemy away from my kid sister to kill him as I pleased."

"But the Sun! You're stupid, you could die!"

"Have you forgot, Flan? Fate its mine to command. I wouldn't die until you came with ... Hey, that one is still alive. I'm glad." she pointed to Meiling.

"Her name is Hong Meiling. I want to keep her."

Remilia looked to Meiling, amused, then to her little sister. Flandre could and would act as immaturely as she wanted but Remilia, who had pretty much the same emotions inside, forced herself to act and talk in a more refined way for her little sister's sake. She extended her ash covered hand to Meiling:

"You, I asked for your blood and you gave it with your free will. I want to call you my friend."

"Call her Hong Meiling, it's her name!"

Meiling looked to those kids. Was that some kind of game for them? They were looking to her now: The blonde one looking tearful, childish and vulnerable now, a surreal vision when contrasted with the ruthless monster she had witnessed in the magicians' house. The other one, surreal for another reason: Her dignified pose and words being completely ruined by her being, again, completely covered by ashes.

Another feeling hit Meiling then: Those two pairs of red eyes, glowing in the shadows, were looking expectantly to her, waiting for her reaction. When it was the last time somebody treated her like that? She broke down, crying.

"Oh... sorry, I may have overwhelmed you..."

"It's not that, sis! She's hungry and wounded! Let's take her home."

And so it happened. The Scarlets took Meiling home with them, and cared for her. At home, they had yet another surprise. Once Remilia was safely inside, she became a cloud of bats and emitted a burst of her burning red aura, disintegrating all those ashes over her at once. When she returned to a humanoid shape, Flandre gasped and pointed to a golden mirror (there was no silver inside their house). Remilia looked to it to see a white haired vampire looking back to her.

"S-sister... your hair... The Sun, see what you done!"

"Oh... I... I like this!" said Remilia, by that point still unsure and just to calm down Flandre. With time, she actually came to love that new hair. It made her more eerie.

The Witch was livid when she returned and found out what happened. Unlike the Scarlets, she was a bit of a racist, and never did like Meiling. But then again, she was civil enough, and more condescending than mean. Meiling, by her strict Confucian upbringing, would never confront an elder anyway, and even found that having a crazed ugly hag nagging at her and calling her an incompetent good-for-nothing kind of endearing, anyway. Wasn’t that almost like having a mother in law? For the first time in decades, she was again among her own kind. Without a place to return, she asked to stay there. It’s a bit of a mean joke at her expense if you think about it, but Hong Meiling, just as Alice, was about to follow a trail that would take her to a fantastic land. From Shanghai. The year was Meiji 17.

A bit before the physical barrier around Gensokyo closed down the Scarlets did the final teleportation. They arrived precisely on the intended location, at the peninsula in the Misty Lake. The jump, assisted by the Witch’s elemental mastery, didn’t hurt the land, instead melding the mansion with the existing landscape. Trees moved away or closer to form gardens, stones flattened themselves and dug deeper in the soil to become the foundations. The mansion changed too, gaining stairs or wings to better adapt to the existing ground. By the end, it was as if an old french manor house (with a clock tower tacked on) had always existed at that japanese scenic countryside.

Meiling brought the tea. She was trying to not tremble, but she was pretty sure that the entire land had just changed below their feet. High Magic was still a mystery for her. In any case, the vampires and the old Witch seemed pleased.

The Witch peered outside the curtains: “Yes... We arrived safely, without incidents.”

“Like I said we would!” said Remilia, checking their arsenal again. She took a cavalry saber and pointed it up: “Let’s start conquering this place at once.”

EDIT: Text revised, see at the heading what changed!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2012, 04:20:11 pm by _cf »
  • my Pixiv

_cf

  • playing with training wheels
  • "Touhou" is japanese for "silly hats only"
Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 09:44:02 pm »
This is the climax of the story that has been developing so far and will be the last episode for a while.

I’d like that those of you still reading (good endurance there, folks!) opened your own personal copies of Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, under the Reimu Hakurei chapter and read the “Vampire Incident” heading again. Oh, is your copy away from you? (say, inside a store?) don’t worry, check out this link, I’ll wait:

http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Perfect_Memento_in_Strict_Sense/Reimu_Hakurei

Now, one thing that needs to be clear at once is that Hieda Akyuu is a historian living in a place without “freedom of press” laws. Seriously, go look on Gensokyo’s Constitution for a First Amendment or anything like that and you’ll be left wanting. Gensokyo isn’t even a democracy, it’s an absolutist monarchy, or a tyranny.

Which means that Akyuu’s work is heavily censored and edited. These changes have pretty much a single reason to exist: To make Yukari’s rule look better. And the editors (the Tengu mostly, Ran does the final revision) achieve Yukari’s exaltation by erasing or minimizing her blunders, making her own actions look better or wiser, and so on.

Don’t get me wrong here. Kim Ill Soon Yukari is not. She’s a rather reasonable woman, with a very hands off mindset. She has this small country she created with her own hands and magic and she leaves most of the population to their own devices, she doesn’t micro-manage, she doesn’t even collects excessive taxes. She gives a subtle pull here, a gentle push there, to keep the place steering to a nice direction. Seriously, most of you don’t live under a government as benevolent as the Gensokyans do, and yes, this is taking in account that the entire country is also a giant Venus Fly-Trap, pulling humans from all over the earth to serve as food. ICE_BURN.jpg.

Look, the point is: to say that what’s written under the “Vampire Incident” heading is an euphemism, is itself an euphemism. That thing was much, much worse. It was war. Wait, even war doesn’t convey the the scale of what happened. It was total war.

Total war is, thankfully, something left to the history books right now, ironically thanks to the nuclear arsenals. See, before humans got nukes, countries or factions felt they could go all out in a war, and win by doing the biggest possible damage to their adversaries first. This is very different from how war is fought nowadays, when we don’t even call it war anymore, usually. Now it’s a conflict, or “operations”, or an incident. The rules right now all point to doing the minimum possible damage to your adversary that will force him to concede.

Sadly for Gensokyo, the Scarlets arrived by the end of the XIX century, and were having none of this “limited rules of engagement” shit. Their doctrine for waging total war was:

1 - target the enemy’s everything.
2 - there’s no step 2.

See, this is what makes it “total”. Before total war had emerged (curiously in the american civil war), there was this idea where you only targeted the enemy’s military personnel in the fields. So the armies went out, sought each other, fought, and once a country was out of armies, that country lost. What the total war theorists noticed was that you could make this process faster if you went right for the enemy cities and started messing with them, disrupting the enemy’s capability to even field an army in the first place. This was state of the art war when Gensokyo was sealed, and the vampires and their Witch came inside full of decent ideas on how to implement that.

By now, a problem of numbers must be forming in your head. I mean, all this talk of war this, total war that, and there are seriously less people in Remilia’s side than fingers in one hand. In fact, they had correctly assessed that Meiling would be a liability and ordered her to remain deep underground during the war, wearing charms to avoid detection, so the "fighting forces" were three beings. No matter how strong those beings were, their mindset for conquering a country should be more, say, "God of War" than "Call of Duty", right?

Right, if you ignore two of the vampire’s powers. First, they easily summon demons. So, one of the first things they did after they arrived was just that. And what kind of demon a 400 years old vampire could summon, you’d ask? Why, it’s a demon powerful enough to have his own personal listing into a yellow page of devils called the Lemegeton, or the Lesser Key of Salomon.

See, it’s this list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_demons_in_the_Ars_Goetia

This basically meant that both Remilia and Flandre could open that book, browse it to find a devil suitable to their tastes, and call him to their presences at once, without all that magical circle bull that human magicians have to worry about.

If you go to that list and read it, you’ll find the following disquieting bit of information below each of of them. Say, for instance:

Quote from: Ars Goetia
“Buer is, blah blah blah, having fifty legions of demons under his command.

You’ll find this info about how many legions each of them controls for about all of the goetic devils. And how many devils are in a legion? Why, it’s 666 devils. Devils, at least the western ones, are in love with that number.

Now, it’s not as simple as summoning a goetic devil and having him flood the battlefield with as many devils as to make even moving around hard. Each one of them is a busy businessman, and with demonology, just as with most magic, there’s the notion of equivalent trade, or payment. The devils will demand something for their troubles. With human sorcerers, this something is almost always the soul, since makai never stops needing new blood to grind. For vampires, however, that’s kind of out of the equation, since they’re already creatures bound to hell for starters. But quite unlike a human sorcerer, a vampire can, say, beat down the devil and force him to obey, so there’s always that way of arguing, too.

What actually happened in the end was that Remilia summoned Abigor and Flandre summoned Buer. They discussed at length and in the end each devil agreed to concede one of their legions for the war effort. The reward would be a foothold in that realm. They were pretty much interested on that since the Overlord of the part of Makai that was spiritually closer to Gensokyo was an enigmatic lady called Shinki. Shinki was famously and paradoxically easy-going demon god. Abigor and Buer would love to open local branches here to avoid the heavy taxation back home so they had a clear interest on helping. But not an interest so great as to take personal risks in the conflict, of course. So, while the Witch watched warily from behind a strong ward, the four great devils made their contract: 2 legions provided as an investment. In case of success, a foothold in the conquered Gensokyo. In case of failure, nothing. Abigor even tried to be bold and pushed for some compensation "like the soul of that redhead youkai there." (Meiling gulped down, hard), but then Flandre sighed really loud and started to lazily flex her hand. With the summoned devils suddenly very anxious to be back at home, the deal was signed.

So, the Scarlet’s faction number increased by 1,332 just like that, which is pretty much respectable, since this was more than all existing tengu and kappa living in Gensokyo, combined. It gets a bit less respectable once you learn that a legionary devil, or lesser devil, or koakuma, as they say in japanese, is a rather feeble fellow, not much different in terms of power than say, a night sparrow. But then, Remilia intended to use them as soldiers, so she gave them rifles, and armor, and ammunition. The Scarlets had had just 400 years of experience with fighting people with firearms. Artillery was a common worry for them. They were ready to share those worries with the locals.

Then Remilia used her second trick to get an army. She expanded her presence, pretty much like she did back then in her fateful encounter with Yukari, but then you add almost 300 years of power concentration to that.

That dominating presence was stronger now. It had stopped depending on seeing Remilia directly. Most of Gensokyo became aware of the vampires once they got hit by the “Come, and serve me!” charm that started to flow from the Misty Lake. Humans were left mosly untouched by the spell, but the “beings of night” fell like suckers. Natural bats and wolves, insect and bird youkais. They started to converge to the mansion.

It’s important to understand that the arrival of the vampires was the first serious shift of power that had happened in Gensokyo since the Onis left, many centuries ago. The tengu and the kappa, the two main supernatural races, sent cautious diplomats to the mansion to inquire about what the hell were those loud youkai. The Hakurei Shrine maiden got immediately involved.

Yukari, who had noticed the arrival pretty much when it happened, had detected the huge surge of yin power caused by the arrival of vampires and then a equally huge second surge, caused by the legions of hell materializing. She considered the forces at her disposal: Youma was dead but his son Youki had taken on the mantle of Yuyuko’s bodyguard. Youki was at his peak physical shape by that time. Ran had just grown her eighth tail and was much easier to control then. She had the Tengu and the Kappa armies. The Hakurei Shrine maiden was well trained. There was a fully grown, ancient Hakutaku guarding the human village. The Hakurei and the Hakutaku would die before saying that they served Yukari, but the fact was that they would fight for the same status quo. The prospects for squashing that pathetic invasion were excellent.

Then Remilia, seeing the tengu and the kappa out there in the open, turned her presence to full power, ensnaring the Tengu, who are born out of crows and wolves, to her will. Then she turned Tengu against the Kappa and send the devil armies out, to harass the entire country.

Yukari got angry, and went to the lake side. Her own personal power was nothing to ignore. First she tried to manipulate the border between land and water to capsize the entire mansion at once and be done with it. The land resisted her. Startled, she then manipulated the border between night and day to make sunlight descend concentrated. The land resisted her again. Turning her mystical sight she saw that the mansion was anchored to the reality of her realm, backed by an amount of power that she would take years to collect (poor Scarlets, who took centuries to do the same). Moreover, someone deep inside was tapping this power to actively detect and counter threats to the house.

It was a well thought out coordinated attack and Yukari there in the open was found by roaming mind controlled Tengu patrols. It didn't take long for her to see the familiar signals of short range teleportation, as devil troops arrived and started shooting at her. The devils, and their weapon were cheap enough that she saw through them and turned all them inside out. She gaped away, disgusted.

Deep down, inside the mansion, Flandre was channeling her entire magic power to the Witch. Who was doing nothing but detecting and countering mystical attacks. They had detected Yukari and hadn't the elder youkai departed suddenly. She'd be ambushed and possibly killed by Flandre.

Back in her own house, Yukari, Ran, and the handful of magicians she could count with summoned their own demons, and surely enough, that leveled up the field a bit. Yukari sent for Yuyuko and bitterly lamented not having Suika’s current adress or Yuugi’s friendship anymore. This was starting to look like a case for Onis.

The following days were pretty much a nightmare for Yukari and her forces. She had made a lot of plans for how to contain and deal with troublemaker youkai, but she had about zero military experience while the Scarlets had spent a good part of the the last hundreds of years getting just that. So, for a silly example, Remilia had instructed the flying devil corps to never stop and engage serious resistance, but to spread, evade, and attack elsewhere. The Tengu received the same instructions, that adapted amazingly well to their innate abilities. This proved to be exceedingly frustrating to Yukari. She, or Youki, or the lord Tenma of the Tengu, who resisted the control, or platoons of kappa, or the hakurei maiden, could easily crush down any of the devils, but they never got anything like a decisive victory. And even this was also part of Remilia’s plans. See, she was making a list of the strong enemies that she would personally eliminate. She had been inside the mansion all this time, just getting the reports.

The Hakurei Shrine Maiden was the first “strong enemy” to die. It wasn’t even a fair fight. By that time, Remilia already could dissolve in a countless flight of bats. She avoided the sealing barriers this way, avoided the direct damage needles and amulets by means of superior speed and ended the Shrine Maiden’s life by throwing the divine spear. Shit got real like this before spellcards.

At about that same time that Remilia was in her aerial dogfight against the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, Yukari took Yuyuko, Youki and Ran to strike directly at the mansion in a coordinated attack. The gap opened before the mansion’s doors and a large number of summoned devils emerged from it. While the devils killed the koakumas stationed there and secured the place, the main group emerged and looked around. They were standing into a place strongly warded against any elemental magic, but this didn’t worry Yukari too much. She and Ran a lot of other ways to hurt people, while Yuyuko and Youki’s were completely unaffected. She entered the mansion holding an active ward around her group. Ran followed, prepared to cast another ward if needed. An invisible Yuyuko and finally Youki followed, these two just looking for targets to kill.

Inside the mansion, as their summoned demons began to enter and flood the place, a small tunnel opened in a wall and from it came a deadly shower of metal spears (all stopped by Yukari’s ward) and a very powerful banishing spell, who sent all all the demons they had brought away. In fact, Yuyuko looked a bit stunned by that banishment attempt too, but at least she was still with them.

Yukari seized the initiative. Passing her active ward’s control to Ran, she forced that tunnel to remain open, and manipulating the border of here/there relative to it moved her group to the other end. Yuyuko opened her arms and surrounded the group with a dense swarm of death butterflies, who would both obfuscate them and harass any defenders.

The other exit from that tunnel was a room with bookshelves completely filling the four walls. Standing on the center of the room they saw the Witch they remembered from centuries ago, standing over a very elaborate protective circle. Behind her stood Flandre, who they never had seen before. What they said was an unknown kid, flanked by twin lines of rainbow colored crystals. There was something in the dim illumination of the room that dissolved Yuyuko’s butterflies at once.

One group looked to the other.

Yuyuko beckoned the Witch and killed her instantly. Youki drew his sword and in a single motion decapitated the unknown blonde girl and returned to the inside of their own ward. From the corners of the room, Flandre’s second body broke Youki, Flandre’s third body would had broken Yukari if the elder youkai didn’t have a very powerful amulet that broke in her stead and her fourth and final body disappeared in a spray of rainbow lights. The diminished attack group was seemingly alone in the room, covered in Youki’s blood.

Yuyuko then grabbed Yukari, Ran and Youki’s dissolving ghost half and took them to the netherworld, ending the raid. They looked to each other and before anyone could speak, fiirst one, then two, three and finally four powerful magical sensors opened in the netherworld’s sky and started looking for them. Yukari and Yuyuko then moved the entire netherworld away from Gensokyo (mystically speaking), sealing the realm, and the sensors closed.

Yukari was, in one word, afraid. She hated when the situation escaped her control like that. Everything she had researched about vampires in the former centuries didn’t suggest they could also be magicians of that caliber. And what’s more, that breaking power, what was that? Her strongest protective ward did nothing to stop it. Youki was one of the more resilient men Yukari knew, and he exploded like a nobody. The amulet that broke in Yukari’s place was an ancient safety measure that worked pretty much like a second life for her. It attracted all attacks directed to her, and had the same spiritual and physical defenses as the real Yukari. The amulet had broken as a cheap piece of argyle. That meant that Yukari herself could had broken like a cheap piece of youkai meat and she couldn’t deal with that kind of threat. She was forced to admit that Yuyuko’s retreat might have just saved all their lives.

Then she felt in her soul, that was linked to Gensokyo, the unmistakable sensation of loss caused by the Hakurei Shrine Maiden dying.

Youki ended up being saved by his sheer willpower. His phantom body was refusing to dissolve, hanging around Yuyuko. Yuyuko used her powers over death to stabilize him like that. With time, he healed, somewhat, and using the Konpaku body switch technique he returned to inhabit his human body. He would forever be left a shadow of his former self and was out of combat for the remaining of that war, anyway. He was reduced to a being who was one-quarter man, one-quarter phantom.

To compound on Gensokyo's troubles, something bad happens whenever a Hakurei Shine Maiden dies. Unlike some speculation you see floating around, this doesn’t mean “the end of Gensokyo”. It means, however, that Yukari must cheat and start to emanate the same kind of energy a Hakurei Shrine Maiden naturally emits, to keep the barrier from imploding. In practice, that means Yukari can’t use her most powerful magic for the time it takes to find another maiden and put her in place. Yukari and Ran can divide this burden, alright, but the burden is there. Ironically, with the Witch dead, the mansion was less defended and Yukari’s original plans to capsize it would have worked, but now that chunk of her power was being drained to keep Gensokyo intact.

Speaking of the Witch, Yukari asked Yuyuko to get hold of her soul for questioning. They were in desperate need for more information about their enemies and whenever Yuyuko invited someone to death, that one ended in her realm. The Ghost Princess, who had just finished stabilizing Youki, concentrated and searched.

“Yukari, I found her, but... come and watch.” said Yuyuko, extending her fan to her friend. Yukari touched the fan and they shared perceptions. They were seeing the shores of the Sanzu river, where the souls of the recently dead waited for the the shinigami ferrymen. There was quite a lot of souls there and more and more were arriving, noted Yukari with disgust, but that was not the remarkable thing. What was remarkable was that a soul among all them was bound by a red chain. The chain was pulling the soul away from the shores, back to the land of the living. That soul disappeared from their view.

“That was our magician.” said Yuyuko. Yukari already knew it. Remembering what they actually saw during their quick incursion into the vampire’s mansion, they had seen lots of those red chains, hanging ethereally from mostly everything. The Witch was bound by them, the blonde vampire, or vampires too. Seeing what the chains actually did was disheartening.

“We better call for some help, right now.” said Yuyuko. Yukari nodded.

First Yuyuko went to the Ministry of What’s Right and What’s Wrong and asked for celestial assistance. Shikieiki, Yama of Paradise, took out a file from one of the countless drawers that lined one of the walls of her office. She opened the file and showed it to Yuyuko.

“Not only we do not intervene as a first principle, anyway, but the war is also karma for the lunar invasion. The youkai of Gensokyo killed and destroyed quite a lot on the moon. Now the scales have turned.”

“Oh dear, it’s not the moon people behind this, is it? Yukari hates them.”

“It’s not, they forgot about it a long time ago. So the revenge duties fell on other beings with strong links to the Moon.”

Yuyuko shook her head. “This is so merciless...”

The Yama returned the file to the drawer and looked to Yuyuko, with a disappointed expression. Shikieiki liked her, and from time to time she nagged the ghost, saying that Yuyuko should start walking with better companies. The Yama said: “Everybody on the wrong side of nature’s laws considers them merciless. This is justice. It’s just how it works. Now leave, please. War means a lot of souls to judge.”

So, yeah. the yama could be cold like this. But the heavens were always a cold place and Yukari didn’t like to deal with them. She sent for hell instead. Lord Tenma with a bunch of freed Tengu together with Lord Ooki from the Kappa and his guildmasters went down the hole to the Oni capital and prostrated themselves before Yuugi, supplicating for their former masters to come and save them. Yuugi spat on the ground and called all them a bunch of cowards, but two days later she came to the surface. She came out of the caverns wearing a wide straw basket hat to hide her horn and face, and covered her entire body with a heavy black cloak. From the distance, where Yukari safely stood, Yuugi looked like a black tower. Of death.

Yukari asked: “What’s up with her?”

“It’s... Lady Yuugi said that it’d be shameful for the Oni to be seen on the surface after they promised to leave. So she wearing a disguise.” said Tenma, floating besides her.

The reason, Yukari wondered, was that Yuugi hated to be seen helping her. Oni don’t lie, alright, but they’re well capable to saying lesser truths.

With Yuugi on the field, the war ended. Simple like that, you just don’t win against Yuugi if she’s in a serious mood and not trying to balance a sake cup, because her power is, you can go and check it if you don’t believe me, “the control of supernatural phenomena.”

And what does it means, to “control supernatural phenomena”? It means plainly that Yuugi can look to anything supernatural, like demons running amok, say “no. you don’t.” and then the demons get to return to hell and shut up. Just as Flandre’s ability, it doesn’t allow resistance. Unlike Flandre’s ability, there’s not even the time needed to pull the eyes to her hand. Yuugi wishes it and bam, you can’t fly, you can’t cast spells, you can only do the things your body would do if it wasn’t infused with supernatural power. When she landed alone before the Scarlet Devil Mansion, the first attacks came from inside the house: Gugnir dissolved before touching her body and her eye couldn’t be pulled because she had surrounded herself with a “nope, you can’t.” field. It’s unfair like that. The vampires, unfazed, came out to personally fight that masked giant.

“Now, Yuugi, remove their power and kill them!” called Yukari. Of course, Yukari was seeing the fight from the other shore of the misty lake, with the help of a plain mundane spyglass. When Yuugi was willing to use her power, Yukari wisely didn’t send her own supernatural distractions. She was just cheering, for once.

What Yuugi saw then, were two young oni girls flying to her, using some rather advanced means of obfuscation. The white haired one had spread her conscience over a huge cloud of bats, with the winged human body in their midst being just a convenient decoy: any part of that cloud could become the main body at a moment. The other girl, it was actually occupying four bodies, three of them superimposed ethereally, ready to sucker punch the first one who managed to take a body down. The fourth body was hidden somewhere deep inside the mansion, in a sealed room with the corpse of a old woman, one of the bats from the huge swarm and … well, two rather plain red haired youkai women. Who was Yuugi to understand the works of her enemies, anyway?

Yuugi had that kind of instant and complete knowledge because anything done supernaturally was fair game for her. Yukari would go crazy if she ever suspected how far Yuugi’s power went. The bit Yukari knew about it was already enough to make her complain about how the universe was unfair when distributing abilities.

Yuugi felt pity for these western onis, who had decided that something strange was around the giant’s body and decided to work around it: Flandre imploded a huge chunk of ground below Yuugi (nope, Yuugi’s own supernatural powers keep working just fine, so the elder Oni just kept floating) while Remilia uprooted an entire tree and threw it against her. Yuugi smiled: The tree, incoming fast by pure Newtonian physics, had to be physically avoided, lest her disguise be ripped. Yuugi dodged it.

“What an eager pair of onis we have here.” she thought. “If we had this kind of goal-oriented kids with us in the past instead of, I dunno, Suika, then we’d have a real alternative to Yukari’s plans.”

Yuugi was bitter, in great part because she was perfectly sober then. She hated being sober. She couldn’t be drunk to use her powers with that kind of implacable precision. She decided to end it quickly so that she could return to her booze. She concentrated and suddenly Remilia and Flandre in the sky were back to having one body each, using wings that couldn’t generate enough lift to keep them afloat. Or you know, in Flandre’s case, any lift at all. They felt to the ground, breaking their feet, knees and hands in the process. Gravity is a bitch like that.

The vampires couldn’t begin to understand what had happened with them, amidst the piercing pain and shock. Or rather, they understood it, rather well in fact, as “we lost!”. All the powers they took as granted for those 400 years had been suddenly taken away. The black clad giant that landed before them was the very image of the implacable headsman. “Hu hu hu...“ chuckled Remila, gritting her teeth with the pain “see, Flandre, death itself comes to take us.”

“We will kill it first!”

Yuugi raised her arms: “Surrender, it’s over.”

Flandre reached a cute pouch on her dress and retrieved a revolver. It was a bit silly for a vampire to carry a revolver, but Flandre loved to play with tools of murder and usually had one or a dozen with her. Remilia had just a proper cavalry saber in a pretty scabbard by her side (“hey, I’m a general in a war, of course I get to wear a saber!”). Flandre held the gun clumsly and unloaded it on Yuugi, while Remilia bared her fangs and dared the giant to come closer, sword pointed at her. Since their hands were still broken, Yuugi wasn’t even sure of how they could be holding or firing those weapons. Surely it couldn’t be anything supernatural, because Yuugi was supressing them.

Thinking better, Yuugi knew very well what was that. It was guts. The blonde kid threw the gun at her and was looking for stones to pick and throw now.

“Fucking stylish, you two.” grumbled Yuugi. Two of the bullets clumsly fired had actually hit her, one in her leg, other in her neck. The bullets, hopeless outmatched by Oni skin, stung nevertheless. Yuugi brought her hands together in a clap, at full speed. That caused a sonic boom, and while Yuugi couldn’t even explain how exactly that happened, she knew damn well the results. People dropped down. The Scarlet sisters dropped down. The war was over, for reals this time.

Yuugi took the girls in her arms, releasing a bit of her supression so that their supernatural regeneration could pick up and save their lives. With her large shoulders she also shielded them from Yukari, who had just exited from a gap behind her.

“Outstanding work, Yuugi! Just how expected from an Oni, now, give me these -”

“No, Yukari. The girls will live.”

Then, right then, another war could have started, because if there was something that enraged Yukari was having her plans denied like that. But Yukari was after all the youkai sage, and she wasn’t falling for it. She was tired, she was holding the entire Gensokyo barrier on her shoulders, and the personal opinions of Yuugi notwithstanding, she needed that Oni, what had just happened was proof of that. So she gave up at once. “The girls will live, of course.”

“I mean it, Yukari!” Shouted Yuugi, who was always on the defensive against another treachery. Besides, the Oni queen was feeling old. Being sober sucks. To be young and fearless, to spit in death’s face like those two little shits had just done, it was an aesthetic ideal for Oni. Yuugi had her eyes wet with nostalgia, ”We were just like them one day, too!”

“Yes, Yuugi, I remember it. I’ll see that they are taken inside their house and taken care of. They’ll suffer no harm.”

Lord Tenma landed. He had been busy coordinating the safe recovery of his people and the start of the relief works. He said:

“Lady Yuugi, I bow down to your unmatched might. When will we be executing these two foreign bats?”

“What’s wrong with you guys?! I said, nobody is harming them. Did we became so tame in this ‘land of fantasy’ that we’ll start following human laws now? Since when is taking the power by force a crime for us?!”

“Whenever the coup fails, lady Yuugi. We do not tolerate failures.” Tenma said. Yukari facefanned, which is when she rested the fan against her forehead. Sometimes, Tenma had a mouth about as large as his nose was long. One of these days, he would surely get killed for it, she thought. But thankfully, it wasn't that day. Yuugi just shrugged off and said:

“Sure then, anybody who defeats me can do whatever they want these kids. I won’t even care, because I’ll be dead.”

And that’s was how the Vampire Incident really happened and ended. Here, this paragraph of Akyuu’s account is uncensored, but you’d never guess what else happened without all the omitted context:

Quote from: Hieda Akyuu
“In the end, the vampire was defeated through the efforts of the most powerful youkai, and a settlement was reached through a contract that placed a number of prohibitions on the vampire's activities.”

There’s a couple of details omitted in my own account, besides the huge amount of one vs. one shounen manga style battles that marked the war. Seriously, Momiji vs. Nitori, Ran vs. Aya, Mystia vs. Rumia, you name it. The people from the House of Eternity saw the conflict with a detached lack of interest, but even they had to fight to guard their secrecy.

For an example of fight I left out, when Yukari sent Ran to the human village to ask the Hakutaku to erase the ugliest details of what had just transpired, they found the beast in his death bed. The Hakutaku had examined the history of the invaders, decided that the focal point was in Remilia and then he ambushed and attacked her in her dreams, trying to eat her entire story and erase her from the world. Remilia broke his devouring encasement by throwing Gugnir after the Hakutaku’s own fate, killing him from the inside. Furthermore, she told him something before leaving that put him at ease. He died peacefully leaving a young daughter behind, saying that no matter who won that war, Gensokyo and his daughter would be left in good hands. That comment alone left Yukari sulking for months.

Another very small detail left out was that one of the 1,332 koakumas legionaries had grown attached to the Witch. That one was a bit of a coward, which made her life as a legionary of Abigor very difficult. So the Scarlets bought her and kept her doing internal work. That koakuma (they never bothered with finding a proper name for her) was inconsolable after the Witch’s death, it was a bit of a heart-breaker. It was a temporary heart-breaker through, because the Witch came back as Patchouli. (pfw this total non-surprise is finally spelled out)

Given Remilia’s egoistical nature, she had unconsciously bound the fate of all her close friends to her. The Witch’s soul, then, orbited back to the world of the living, where it was remade as a fresh youkai magician. Patchouli awakened a few months after the war had ended, fully formed, in the forest of magic. Her first thought, even before “Who am I?” was “My books, where are my books?” She left the forest and walked to the mansion, where she was received as if everybody there were waiting just for her. The reincarnation robbed her of all her memories, but her personality was left mostly intact. The knowledge of magic and the same feelings she had for the people from the mansion came back naturally for her. Other people could gloat and rejoice to finally have a beautiful and young looking body, but she still didn’t care for those things.

That's it for now, next is the XX century, who saw the arrival of Sakuya, and then finally the events we see on the games.

The idea for this story came from Yukari's thoughts about Remilia, from the fifth chapter of Cage in Lunatic Runagate, which I quote here:
Quote from: Yukari
They had spent months to create their shabby rocket and spent more than ten days in a miserable, cramped space to go to the moon.

It was idiotic. If all that is needed to go to the moon, it is possible to do so in an instant. This is Gensokyo; one need not imitate the magic of the outside world here.

But I already knew that the vampire and her cohorts would not agree with my plan.

Those vampires have the spirit that I've forgotten. The feeling that the humans outside have begun to forget about and the feeling that shikigami whose thoughts centered around efficiency despised.

-The fun that would come from travelling in a miserable, shabby rocket. Anything gained through the shortest method has no meaning to it. It was the spirit of enjoying hard work.

Long-living humans and youkai often forgot that mindset, but that vampire and the others still had a powerful desire for it. That was why they neglected to go to the moon using my powers and insisted on going to the moon by their own hand.
I think I'll wait for Symposium of Post Mysticism to be out, so that I can revise this chapter, before I continue to the part where Sakuya appears. I also need to figure how to deal with Sakuya.
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nintendonut888

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Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2012, 10:02:18 pm »
Tsk tsk, it's kind of sad to see a story like this written without a single comment.

So, I wasn't really sure what to think of the idea at first. It's a strange frame, to have a non-specific guy ramble about the Scarlets for hours, but you certainly carried it well. The events were all kind of convoluted, but you clearly have thought this out well, and it shows. Hope to see you continue this at some point.
nintendonut888: Hey Baity. I beat the high score for Sanae B hard on the score.dat you sent me. X3
Baity: For a moment, I thought you broke 1.1billion. Upon looking at my score.dat, I can assume that you destroyed the score that is my failed (first!) 1cc attempt on my first day of playing. Congratulations.

[19:42] <Sapz> I think that's the only time I've ever seen a suicide bullet shoot its own suicide bullet

Aba Matindesu!

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Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2012, 08:17:39 am »
I was waiting for this to get updated, actually. /lurksmoar


teets mi hao 2 2hu teets mi teets mi hao 2 2hu

_cf

  • playing with training wheels
  • "Touhou" is japanese for "silly hats only"
Re: Modern Children (a background for the Scarlet sisters)
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2012, 03:58:12 pm »
Hey, it's nice to see people commenting on this after so long. Since I got no feedback, I had shelved this idea. The good part is that SoPM is out and translated and there's not a word about how Yuugi's power actually works, so my view about her still stands!
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