Topic: Fantastic Shrine Tales of Hidden Romance  (Read 3056 times)

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Blackraptor

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Fantastic Shrine Tales of Hidden Romance
« on: May 16, 2012, 11:38:28 am »
Okay...before I go and start with the story, I might as well tell you what this is and how this idea transpired.

This is the very first, and likely the only, official side-story to Be Careful What You Wish For. During the beginning of the Albion Arc, I introduced a certain original character to that story. That character is Touya Hakurei, the Shield of the Eastern Wonderland and the current representative of the Hakurei Clan.

He was simply created and introduced in order for me to show that the Hakurei clan is still alive and well and is still enforcing the spell card rules. I just threw in his quirk as an alleged reincarnation of Reimu as well as inheriting her laziness for kicks.

The story continued without much more from him until the middle of the Valliere homecoming arc. Specifically some time after I posted up the fourth interlude over at the thread for this at the Spacebattles forum.

A certain user there posted a short scene snip for the story since it seemed like a cool idea at the time and said that it was a way for him to say thanks for the story...while being rather tsundere about it too.

That scene was a short one about Cattleya waking up in Hakugyokurou and meeting with Yuyuko and an adult Youmu. Obviously, since she ended up there, that scene was a bad end that depicted the aftermath of Cattleya dying before Yuka and the gang could treat her illness.

The scene, while short, was well written and managed to time the mood whiplash between Yuyuko's sweet silliness to the realization that Cattleya had just passed away very well. However, with Spacebattles being Spacebattles, what set off the other posters and readers on the thread wasn't the scene itself. Instead, it was a offhanded teasing comment that Yuyuko made to Youmu when the woman didn't seem enthused about greeting Cattleya to Hakugyokurou. The comment was Yuyuko teasing Youmu about not to take out her frustrations on Cattleya just because she was part of Touya's harem comedy. Obviously, Youmu denied such allegations and it wasn't spoken of in the scene again.

The one who posted that scene, one Jomasten, stated that it was just a passing joke that seemed a bit funny at the time and didn't really think much of it. He just thought that it might have gotten the scene a few chuckles.

He had no idea what he had unleashed on the thread.

Posters immediately latched onto that comment by Yuyuko like a headcrab and ran with it. Soon afterward, several ideas and the like from other readers and posters popped up on how Touya could be in a harem comedy situation, who the members of said harem are, how said harem members developed their feelings for him and try to fall for them, and how he would handle such a situation. It consumed such a large number of posts on the thread that it surprised both me and Jomasten himself when he came back to the thread.

Obviously, we both just added more fuel to the raging inferno.

Further scene snips from him, myself, and Flere, along with more ideas from other posters eventually gave the concept so much ground that I finally decided to make it an official part of the Gensokyo of BCWYWF. The results of this on the main story can be seen on Chapter 24 of BCWYWF.

I don't really plan on making Touya a main part of the cast and his harem antics will only be touched upon or referenced lightly in the rest of the main story. That issue was the cause of a small debate on the Spacebattles thread because, while hilarious, Touya's circumstances didn't really contribute anything to a story about Louise and Yuka.

However, the ideas and scenes that the concept generated were just too much of a waste to just throw away so...I made this. This is a culmination of all the crazy that happened in that thread with Touya and the groundwork to his side-story. It wasn't easy to try to reason out a starting point to his story especially since his situation didn't really have any solid backdrop. This is based on the ideas and the snips that were contributed along with some of my own in order to make out a starting point for the story.

Further installations of this side story, if any, will be directly fueled by the Spacebattles thread for BCWYWF and I will just try to make everything coherent for publishing here. I stated before that I did not want to make any stories about Gensokyo directly in BCWYWF since dealing with all the in-between backstory and such to make things make sense there in relation to BCWYWF would be tantamount to writing a new story altogether.

Well...here is a new story altogether about my Yuka's Gensokyo. Heh.

Also, this story will be more heavy on the Touhou than it is on the Familiar of Zero. I still put it on the crossover section since it is a side-story to Be Careful What You Wish For, which is a crossover. So, yeah.

Disclaimer: Yeah...I blame Spacebattles for this.

...

Touya Hakurei's birth was a special moment for both his parents and the many 'friends of the family' that the Hakurei clan collected over the centuries. However, unknown to most residents in Gensokyo, Touya's birth held a very special meaning to one particular resident.

Yukari Yakumo, the Youkai of Borders, was the only one that noticed that the next heir to the Sacred Lot of Gensokyo was born exactly five-hundred years to the day when his now legendary ancestor Reimu Hakurei was born as well.

That observation by Yukari was the start of a series of events that eventually helped define the person that Touya became.

Touya grew up mostly being raised by both his parents and the resident Oni of the Hakurei clan, Suika Ibuki. After the debacle of Remilia Scarlet trying to relive the scarlet mist incident, Yukari made it very clear to everyone in Gensokyo to not interfere with Touya's growth until he was old enough to take care of himself. The reason why the Scarlet Devil redid the incident that she incited when she first arrived in Gensokyo was because a certain little bird spread around the rumor that Touya was the reincarnation of Reimu. That possibility of that being true was most enticing for the vampire since Touya would basically be a male Reimu.

That didn't work out too well for her because Touya's parents and Yukari put a stop to that very quickly. Even so, that did not stop the rumor from gaining ground especially since Yukari herself was much more protective and caring of the child than any other member of the Hakurei clan save for Reimu herself.

Thanks to Yukari's intervention, Touya's childhood was mostly normal...for a Hakurei anyway. Whenever his parents went off to take care of incidents, he always found himself being cared for by his 'Auntie Suika' or by the various other Gensokyo residents that his clan had befriended. Oddly enough, the ones who came by to visit Touya the most were Youmu Konpaku, Sakuya Izayoi, and Reisen Udongein Inaba.

Everyone always just played it off as the three women just treating the young boy as a little brother of sorts. Indeed, even when Touya himself asked Suika about it, the oni came to a similar conclusion.

...

"I'll be seeing you then, Touya. Don't give Suika a hard time." The Scarlet Devil's Maid bade farewell to the ten year old Touya Hakurei after looking after the boy for his parents.

"Okay! Take care Big Sister Sakuya!" The boy enthusiastically returned the gesture before going back into the shrine grounds after he lost sight of Sakuya. Touya found Suika lounging around the grounds with her trademark gourd that supplied her with an infinite amount of Oni-grade sake.

"Sup Touya~? Hic!" Suika greeted the boy when he walked up to her. The boy nodded back with a smile before sitting down on the ground next to her.

"Big Sister Sakuya came by again to check up on me. Miss Reisen and Miss Youmu checked up on me yesterday too. I wonder why they keep doing that whenever mom and dad are away? It isn't like I'm in any danger with you here at the shrine." Touya asked the oni with a tilted head. He was very appreciative of the gesture by the women for sure, but he couldn't quite grasp why they continued to do so. The boy obviously had the natural intuition of the Hakurei but he was also personally quick-witted and creative when it came to certain things. Unfortunately, for all his talent, he was also rather lazy...like a certain Shrine Maiden of Paradise once was.

"They're all just being good friends to you, is all! Hic~!" The Deva of the Mountain responded after taking a swig of her gourd.

"Friends?" Touya repeated the word that didn't feel all that familiar to him when being said in the same sentence with the names of those three. He more or less considered them like his Big Sisters or like his Auntie Suika since they were more or less there when he was growing up. In fact, they were there when his parents were growing up.

"Friends?" Touya repeated the word that didn't feel all that familiar to him when being said in the same sentence with the names of those three. He more or less considered them like his Big Sisters or like his Auntie Suika since they were more or less there when he was growing up. In fact, they were there when his parents were growing up.

Though, when he thought about it, they were more like friends to him than Rise Kochiya was. The nine year old girl and heir to the Moriya shrine worshipped Kanako Yasaka both literally -as her god- and figuratively -as her life model-. Because of that, the girl ended up enforcing the belief that Kanako was the best goddess ever. She has ended up bullying Touya on the several occasions whenever the two encounter each other during festivals or during visits. The young girl justified those moments as a way to show how superior the Moriya Shrine was to the Hakurei Shrine. The respective families just laughed it off as children playing around, though Kanako was honestly very proud of the girl's passion and dedication for her which quickly made her a favorite of the goddess. It did not really help that the Hakurei Shrine did not actually have a named deity or god to worship either...as far as anyone knew anyway.

"Yep! Friendship is one of the most important bonds that you will ever have! Hic~! So you better make sure that you always treat those three as your friends no matter what, alright? Hic~!" The oni responded before explaining what she thought was going on. Now, Oni such as Suika pride themselves in always telling the truth. They see lying as a personal insult and are more than willing to kick the ass of anyone who lies to them. Because of this fact, Touya always took Suika's words in face value because there was no reason for her to lie. Hence...

"Alright Auntie Suika! I'll make sure to treat them as my friends for the rest of my life!" The boy declared before sharing a high-five with Suika.

"That's my boy!" The oni responded before the two of them started laughing, completely unaware of the eventual ramifications of that statement.

Time passed and Touya began training in the art form of the magic and fighting style of the Hakurei clan. Those two things famously would either go hand in hand or one would dominate over the other and would result on that person's primary means of keeping the peace in Gensokyo. Reimu's mother, Reika Hakurei, had thrived practicing, revolutionizing, and perfecting the Hakurei Musou Tensei. On the other side of the coin, Touya's parents utilized the purifying, sealing, and protection magic that their family were also vey famous for.

Touya, once his parents started training him in the ways of their art, showed a very comprehensive proficiency in both aspects...once again giving credence to the idea that he was either the reincarnation of Reimu Hakurei or was a member of their family that was of comparable skill and power as her. Because of this, the future of the Hakurei clan seemed rather bright indeed.

Unfortunately, much like Reimu was in her teenage and early adult life, Touya was a very lazy guy. He had talent to spare but, since he didn't really have to work that hard to be able to become stronger, he never worked as hard as he could have to hone the talent he did have. Touya's parents didn't really approve of that but couldn't complain since his natural talent was enough to offset is lax approach in training.

Obviously, three women in particular did not take well to the growing boy's increasing laziness...regardless of how talented he was.

...

"Can we...take a...break...?" The thirteen year old Touya heaved, barely able to catch his breath, as he collapsed into a sitting position in front of his current foe and combat instructor. The teenager was wearing his customized Hakurei Priest Garb. The white-on-red ensemble looked like a standard priest's clothing but the sleeves were much shorter, reaching only halfway past his biceps. The reason why was because Touya had discovered a rather potent affinity toward close quarters combat using his fists and feet. This eventually developed into his own unique style of full contact magic attacks and defense but he never really refined any of it. He made them usable enough with his chosen style of combat...but to the more seasoned veterans of Gensokyo, his self-taught combat style felt half-baked.

Which was precisely why one Konpaku Youmu, the Half-Ghost Gardener of Hakugyokurou, decided to do something about it.

"What's wrong? We're only an hour into our spar. You usually last much longer than that." His opponent commented with a raised brow but maintained her air of calm elegance. A natural Yamato Nadeshiko so to speak...with swords. Over the centuries, the earnest if albeit shy swordswoman grew up into a prim and proper embodiment of Japanese etiquette. Youmu had traded in her old outfit for a more traditional looking white kimono with a red inner layer and a deep blue obi which was topped off by an evergreen haori. In addition, Youmu had replaced her black shoes with a traditional pair of sandals.

The kimono and haori combination was predictably adorned with a cherry blossom motif but was of a much lighter tone than Yuyuko's. The only piece of clothing that survived the makeover was Youmu's black ribbon that was now being used to tie the end of her now waist-length hime cut hair. Her trademark swords, the katana Roukanken and the wakizashi Hakurouken, were in their respective sheaths which were suspended in mid-air close behind Youmu thanks to a special enchantment on her obi. Touya merely gave out a tired sigh as Youmu's ghost half floated around him once before returning to the gardener's side.

"Give me a break Youmu-nee. I had to help Reisen-nee and Rumi-nee stop a bunch of upstart youkai from trying to invade the underground to overthrow Auntie Yuugi as the boss of the former streets of hell." The boy explained in a tired tone as he struggled to ge back to his feet. Seeing the honest fatigue that the boy was showing, Youmu could tell if someone was faking, the woman nodded to the boy and offered him a hand.

"Thanks." Touya accepted the gesture with a smile. Youmu couldn't help but frown when she noticed that the boy really was pulling himself up using her. It was like he didn't have any strength left to stand up on his own power anymore.

"It seems that at least your claim to a lack of energy is truthful. If that was the case, why didn't you just tell me earlier rather instead of continuing with our sparing as if nothing was wrong?" Youmu asked after helping the boy to his feet with a deepening frown. The woman knew that being upset of such a thing was unbecoming of someone like her, especially after all the work she had put into to become the woman she now was. However, it still stung at her feelings that Touya would hide something from her and act like nothing was going on. It was silly, it was juvenile, and Youmu didn't like having that kind of thought...but she couldn't help it...and she couldn't figure out why.

"Well, these sparring sessions have been the only times when I get to see you these days. With all the hectic stuff that has been going on lately, we barely get to see one another anymore..." He explained before giving out an awkward laugh and rubbing the back of my head.

"Just trying to imagine having to go through all that time without getting to see Youmu-nee just didn't feel right for me." Touya explained sheepishly. It was the honest truth though. The boy literally grew up with Sakuya, Youmu, and Reisen almost constantly around him and the thought of them drifting away as he got older was something that genuinely scared him. They were his closest and dearest friends and he never wanted to lose that.

"I...see. I now understand..." Youmu responded with a smile and a nod, her cheeks betraying only the slightest hint of a blush. The boy's gesture was an honestly heartwarming one and Youmu could feel the sincerity in his words. And somewhere deep down, Youmu could swear that she felt her heart flutter. The woman all but scoffed at the implication. After all, she and her two good friends practically raised the boy. The idea that feelings beyond that would ever develop for the boy...Youmu concluded that such a thing was impossible and shrugged off the notion.

"Well, we won't be able to do anything productive for the rest of our training time. If we try to push it, you'll just end up hurt and that won't help anyone. With that in mind, it is a wonderful afternoon so would you like to have some tea with Yuyuko-sama and I?" The swordswoman offered the boy with a warm smile. Touya immediately beamed at her words, his previous fatigue seemingly vanishing in an instant.

"Yeah! That'd be great!" He immediately responded like the boy that he still was. Youmu thought to herself at the time that this kind of thing was all she needed for now.

Yes...just seeing the boy's smiling face was enough...

...

"Is it this one?" The fifteen year old Touya Hakurei asked as he picked out a single jar filled with purple viscous liquid from a cabinet filled with other identical jars, albeit filled with other things.

"Not that one. Reisen, could you please give Touya a hand?" A girl with long black hime-cut hair responded while working on something with a mortar and pestle. The girl looked no older that Touya was, but both her eyes and presence implied great wisdom and knowledge from her. This was the truth since the young looking girl was in fact the immortal former princess of the Lunarian Empire and the basis of one of Japan's oldest and most well known legends. Touya was wrangled by Kaguya Houraisan while he was visiting the human village in order to help the former princess, now doctor, with a quest of great importance.

The Eternal Princess of the Moon recruited the Shield of the Eastern Wonderland to help her bake a cake for one Fujiwara no Mokou, the Phoenix of Gensokyo.

In the past few centuries, it had been common knowledge that the two immortal girls were in a special relationship with each other. However, those who have read the Gensokyo Chronicles or were just old enough to have actually been there at the time, Kaguya and Mokou were very bitter rivals who frequently tried to kill each other. With their ability to resurrect, one could imagine that their bouts would almost always end in a fatality...however temporary death was for them.

All the more ironic since there were unconfirmed rumors and accounts that suggest that Kaguya and Mokou used to be close friends during the time when Mokou was still mortal, around the time when the Legend of Kaguya-hime occurred.

It took the Lunarian Invasion of Gensokyo for them to finally go past their differences and eventually become friends, once more if the old rumor was true. It took another two-hundred years of denials and 'she's-not-my-girlfriend' statements before the two finally admitted that they shared feeling for one another that went beyond mere friendship. So it was that Mokou moved in with Kaguya at the eternal mansion of Eientei at the former princess' request. Even after Kaguya took over the clinic from Eirin, the decision initially had people questioning the wisdom and sanity of the Brain of the Moon, Mokou continued to serve as a guide to those unlucky enough to get lost in the thick of the Bamboo Forest of the...Lost.

Although that was, of course, ancient history.

"What? Oh, it should be that one." Reisen Udongein Inaba leaned closer to Touya before pointing at another jar...that had contents that looked exactly like the same stuff inside the jar Touya was holding.

"What? How can you even tell?" Touya voiced out as he took the other jar and held the two right next to each other. The color, texture, even the amount was the same between the two jars. Even Touya's rapidly developing intuition couldn't help him tell the difference between the contents of the two jars. Kaguya and Reisen looked at the two jars, then to each other, before turning back to Touya and shrugging.

"Experience." The two of them stated at the same time. The lunar rabbit took the correct jar from Touya's hand before walking over to where Kaguya was working and setting it on the table she was using. Reisen's attire never really changed that much as time passed. She was still wearing her standard lunarian rabbit suit but she traded in her miniskirt for a pair of black slacks, much to the distraught of young men everywhere in Gensokyo when it first became public. Other than that, Reisen looked no older that she was back when Reimu and Marisa were still around. That meant that she still looked like she was in her late teens as opposed to Kaguya and Mokou who looked like they were still in their mid-teens. Of course, both Kaguya and Mokou refused to change their outfits...at all...even after all this time. Immortals.

"Right. Why do you need all of that...stuff...if you're just going to bake a cake for Mokou?" Touya asked as he put the other jar back into the cabinet. It was then that the young man suddenly felt a surge of intent that he rarely experienced before, certainly nothing this intense either.

"Kukukukuku..." Kaguya Houraisan started giggling in a manner both unbecoming of a princess as well as being creepy in general.

"Ka-Kaguya-sama..." The lunar rabbit called out to her mistress even as she started to pant rather heavily while seemingly locked in her own thoughts. The princess did not seem to notice and simply continued to giggle and was even starting to drool as well. It was times like this that Reisen wasn't even sure who was worse to work under...Kaguya or Eirin?

"Oh yes, this isn't just an ordinary cake. Any idiot who can bake can make a cake. No...this is something different, something I've been working on for my precious little Moko-tan." Kaguya started to ramble on by herself while wiping the drool from her mouth. Touya had no idea what he should do or what his emotions were supposed to be. So he just stood there looking like a fairy looking straight at an oncoming Scarlet Weather Rhapsody of all Mankind.

"Yeees...by the time she's done with this cake, she will be an unstoppable force of lust that will not cease to ravage its closest target until complete exhaustion. I better remember to sound proof our room first...yes...we might be at it all night and even all morning or so if I'm lucky. Yes...eeeexcllent..." The princess continued to mutter to herself, completely uncaring if anyone heard her or not. At this point, both Reisen and Touya were as red as tomatoes at the blatant implications of what Kaguya was planning.

Reisen made a mental note to keep everyone else as far away from the cake or anything else Kaguya was personally cooking for Mokou. Touya, for his part, was blushing simply because of what Kaguya had said. Being a teenager, even someone as naturally dense as him could understand what Kaguya was planning. The teenager himself never really had such thoughts about anyone else, despite being in constant contact with a great many attractive women, either human or otherwise.

The reason why was because, like Reimu, Touya saw everyone in Gensokyo as equal. He never personally saw anyone as being more or less special than anyone else. On one hand, this let him gain friends at an impressive rate since he does not discriminate. On the other hand, this also meant that it was unlikely for him to simply single out someone as being more special to him than everyone else, meaning it is difficult for him to develop feelings for anyone that goes beyond friendship.

"T-T-Touya! Why on earth are you blushing like that? Just what are you thinking about?" Reisen suddenly changed target from Kaguya to Touya, much to the latter's surprise.

"Wh-wh-what are you talking about? I'm not thinking about anything, I swear!" Touya immediately went on the defense by denying such claims while holding both of his hands up hoping to enforce the gesture.

"Liar! If not, then why is your face all red huh?" Which did not work since Reisen called him on it. However, Touya wasn't even thinking about what Kaguya was planning on doing with Mokou. The real reason why he was blushing was simply because of the implication of such activities. Unfortunately, it wasn't like anyone, least of all Reisen, was about to believe him now. With diplomacy failing immediately, the young Hakurei priest decided to go on the attack instead.

"Well, you're blushing too! What are you thinking about then Reisen-nee?" The Inaba in question flinched at the accusation before wondering about that herself. She immediately blushed deeper...not because she imagined herself and Touya in a similar situation. Most certainly not! Such a thing would be absolutely unacceptable! She had helped take care of Touya when he was a baby for goodness sake! Just because he grew up into such a fine young man doesn't mean that-

"Ummm...are you okay Reisen-nee?" Touya asked worriedly when Reisen just continued to blush but did not respond to his words in any way.

"No! No no no no no nonononono!" Reisen suddenly yelled out in sheer panic before tackling Touya, knocking both of them out after hitting their heads on the wall. Kaguya was still too busy with her own fantasies to notice or care what just happened.

And Tewi? Tewi was just chilling outside and preparing for another series of betting that she was anticipating in the next few years. She already even knew who she was going to bet on to get Touya's heart.

The Inaba of the Earth grinned to herself as she waited for another big pay day. Nothing compared to the amount she got when Mokou and Kaguya finally got together, but an impressive pay day nonetheless.

...

"Is there something wrong? You've been quiet for quite some time?" The Perfect and Elegant Maid asked the sixteen year old Touya as they walked through the human village. It was late in the year and the first signs of snowfall were starting to show. The change in temperature prompted Sakuya to get some last minute shopping done for Remilia before most of the shops close down for the winter months. Touya had offered to help her in this task after she mentioned if offhandedly during one of her visits to the Hakurei Shrine. Sakuya accepted even though she could have done it by herself. Touya was there mostly to keep her company and a little extra help never hurt anyone.

"No...it's...nothing." Touya muttered. Sakuya raised a brow at his response. She had known the young man long enough to see that something was very clearly wrong. Besides, whenever someone says nothing, it was almost always guaranteed to be something.

"You know that you are a terrible liar, Touya. If it is anything that I can help with, you know better than anyone that I would do so in a heartbeat." Sakuya declared as they got near one of the shops the maid was planning on visiting. Touya knew that Sakuya was serious about what she said. She, Reisen, and Youmu had been the most constant thing in his entire life. They were always there for him. Always. Because of that, Touma treasured the three of them more that anything else in Gensokyo. However...

"No...this is something that..." The young man gave out a sigh before recomposing himself and giving out a half-hearted smile to Sakuya.

"This is just something that I need to work through...alone...I appreciate the offer though, I really do Sakuya-nee...err...I mean, Sakuya." Touya explained before slipping on the way he addressed the maid. It happened a few months ago but all three of them suddenly wanted him to drop the big sister honorific and just to call them with like one normally would another person. Touya was still trying to get used to it.

"...Understood. Just know that Youmu, Reisen, and I are always here for you." Sakuya let the matter drop but not until reminding Touya who he had to lean on if he needed support. The maid adjusted the yellow scarf that was wrapped around her neck before entering the shop. Like Reisen, Sakuya's attire and appearance had remained the same as it had always been. The only difference was that she now always wore a simple yellow scarf around her neck whenever she ventures outside the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

The scarf was a gift that Reimu gave her as a new years present. It was nothing expensive or special. It was simply a scarf to keep her warm with. It was also the only thing left that truly reminded her of her old friends. It had been long, so very long, since she last saw the red-white miko and the black-white witch. She misses them dearly but she knew that her fate was different than theirs and they would want nothing more than for her to live the life she wanted. Although, Sakuya was starting to worry about the scarf. After so much time, even the immaculate care she had given the scarf and the preservation spells that Patchouli had applied on it, the scarf was starting to show its age and break down little by little. Sakuya knew that there was nothing she could do about it, so she simply decided to enjoy the scarf for as long as she still could.

"I know that...it's just..." Touya trailed off and remained quiet through the rest of their stop in that store. Sakuya chose not to pry yet and purchased what she needed in that store instead.

Of course, doing so just let Touya wander back into his own thoughts. Thoughts of 'her'. The young Hakurei priest was no stranger when it came to the concept of love. He knew, intellectually, what love was, what it can do to and for someone, and he even knew that one could harness it into a coherent beam of destruction thanks to reading the legendary 'Grimoire of Marisa'. However, those were only things that he knew. As far as actually experiencing it, being in love, the concept was much harder for Touya to comprehend. That was until a few weeks ago though.

An incident happened in the middle of autumn that led him, Rise Kochiya, and Youmu Konpaku across the Sanzu River where they encountered the Yama of Paradise. Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, as the judge of the dead and the one in charge of sending the souls of the departed to heaven, hell, or reincarnation, was one of the most powerful and important entities in Gensokyo. Even Yukari herself tended to keep away from the Yama simply because she was far too important to the continued existence of Gensokyo to mess with. There was literally nothing to gain from antagonizing the judge and there was a lot to lose if anyone did mess with her.

Unfortunately, due to some misunderstandings, Shikieiki fought against the three of them in a danmaku battle. She managed to take down both Youmu and Rise, a testament to her power and skill, and had Touya on the ropes. That was when it happened. That was when Touya did something that changed his view of the Yama. That was when the incident took a turn for the...unexpected. He talked to her...and she responded. And they talked, and talked, and talked. They debated, they discussed, they bounced opinions and ideas off one another...and Touya enjoyed it. From the varied expressions that Shikieiki made during that time, it seemed that she enjoyed it as well.

In the end, that particular incident was resolved through dialogue rather than through danmaku, a first for Touya. It also caused a different reaction from the young man. He found that he liked talking to the yama. A lot. So he tried to do so again. He got scolded by Shikieiki because of it since she was an extremely busy person and simply did not have time for casual chatter.

He started thinking more about her day after day until he couldn't take it anymore and told Suika about it. The revelation was a surprise to him as much as it was for the oni.

Touya Hakurei had developed a crush of Shikieiki Yamaxanadu.

When Touya finally understood what those feelings were, he immediately asked help from Suika on what he could do about it. Particularly, how he can talk to Shikieiki again. Unfortunately for him, Suika told him...in all seriousness...to give up on the yama. Suika laid down every single reason why it wouldn't work out between them and Touya could not refute any of those points. He agreed with Suika's words and the oni's stand against lying only added to the credibility of her statements.

Thus, the young Hakurei's first love ended right before it even began. Hence, his current state.

"Touya!" The young man in question finally managed to snap out of his thoughts when Sakuya yelled out his name. He blinked and saw that she was already holding quite a number of bags.

"Ah..." He squeaked out when he realized that he had just basically left Sakuya to do all the work on her own while he just wallowed in his own misery, despite the fact that he tagged along in order to help her in the first place. They were already outside and it seemed like Sakuya was getting ready to go back to the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

"I'm...I'm sorry, Sakuya." Touya immediately apologized. Sakuya raised a brow before trying to adjust her scarf again.

"Is there something wrong with your scarf?" The young man asked worriedly.

"No...well, yes. My scarf is starting to wear down after so long. Thus, it is no longer as warm as it used to be." The maid admitted with a shrug.

"Why don't you just replace it then?" Touya asked with a blink of his eyes. Sakuya paused for a few moments, temporarily caught in the irony of Touya's question.

"This was...a gift from a dear friend. It is too precious for me to simply throw away. However, I do understand that even this would someday wear out." Sakuya explained with a hint of resignation in her voice. Touya closed his eyes and tried to recall something. Sakuya was about to get his attention when he suddenly opened his eyes again and ran back into the village.

"Wait there! I won't be long!" Touya yelled out even as he continued to run. Sakuya wasn't sure what to do but to wait, so she did. It took nearly half an hour but Touya managed to return with a small bag. Sakuya wasn't sure what he was playing and but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and waited to him to stop hyperventilating. The young man was finally able to recover and stood up straight again. Touya looked at Sakuya straight in the eye and handed her the paper bag he was holding.

"What is this for?" The maid asked. Instead of answering, Touya simply gestured at the bag in his right hand while asking to hold the bags Sakuya had with his left hand. The maid hummed at the gesture but trusted Touya all the same. She exchanged the bags in her hand with the paper bag that Touya had. She checked what was inside and nearly gasped.

"But this is...I mean...why..." Sakuya muttered as she pulled out the content of the paper bag. It was a yellow scarf. A scarf that was nearly identical to what she was wearing, the scarf that Reimu gave her lifetimes ago. In response, Touya took a deep breath before smiling.

"That scarf of yours is old but really important right? So you should just keep it somewhere safe and use that one instead. It's probably not as precious as the one you have right now, but it should be enough to keep you warm." Touya explained and Sakuya had no response but to ask him why again. The young man laughed awkwardly before rubbing the back of his head.

"It was thanks for waking me up. I was...mulling...well...sulking about something. It was something that bothered me so much that I just stopped caring about a lot of things. I didn't realize that I also stopped paying attention to one of the most important people in my life. This is thanks for being there for me...and an apology for acting like a jerk today." The young man responded with a warm smile. Sakuya could not help but smile back with a bit of a blush on her cheeks. She shook her head before walking up to Touya and giving him a hug.

"Thank you, Touya." Sakuya said while Touya returned her hug. They stayed like that for a moment longer before making their way back to the Scarlet Devil Mansion in comfortable silence.

"So...do you want to talk about it?" Sakuya asked, now wearing her new scarf. The one Reimu gave her was now stored in the bag that originally held her new one.

"Yeah...it's pretty embarrassing and silly when I think about it...but if you're willing to hear me out then..." Touya trailed off before recounting the events of the incident that past autumn and what came about because of it.

...

"There's nothing here..." The fifteen year old Touya Hakurei deadpanned as he surveyed the surroundings. He was dragged out here in early spring because someone alerted him to a potential incident that was occurring. The person who alerted him to that possible incident was the very person he was complaining to.

Whack!

"Ow!" And it was the very same person who smacked him on the upside of the head. That person had long mint green hair tied up into twintails. That person had green eyes and a perpetually offensive expression whenever Touya was nearby. That person was wearing the standard white on blue detached sleeve shrine maiden outfit of the Kochiya along with a frog symbol broach and a snake symbol choker. That person had a gohei in her right hand and had a set of prayer beads wrapped around her left hand. That person was Rise Kochiya...and Touya was wondering what possessed him to go along with her by himself. He could have at least asked a member of Seventh Heaven to help. Certainly Reisen or Cirno would have been eager to help him out.

"Are you saying that I was lying? You would dare imply that a servant of the Great Goddess Kanako Yasaka would stoop to something as stupid as deception?" Rise yelled at him while pointing her gohei at the young priest. Touya could have pointed out that Rise had tried to use deception to prove her superiority over him multiple times...but the young man's intuition reminded him that it would just lead to more unnecessary pain.

"I never said anything like that. I just said that there's nothing here. What even happened here that made you think that an incident was occurring?" Touya asked while rubbing the back of his head.

"There is something here. Just shut up and trust me." The green-head answered irritably before flying ahead of Touya. The young man sighed and just followed her. For all the grievances that Touya had against Rise, he couldn't deny that she always comes through when the going gets bad and he desperately needed a hand.

The scenery at Youkai Mountain it a lot different in spring than it was during autumn. The trademark falling leaves of maple trees were replaced with a vast unending sea of green. Touya had seen this place in spring before but it always gets to him just how big and how vast Youkai Mountain really was. Put simply, it was beautiful.

Touya followed Rise all over the mountain. They flew above the canopy of the many many trees that covered the mountain. They followed the river upstream and flew up the face of one of the largest waterfalls at the mountain. They flew high. They flew low. They went all over the place, scenery that Touya didn't even know existed like they did during spring. All in all, it was a rather breathtaking experience. Before he knew it, the sun was already setting and he was really getting hungry and tired. It seemed that Rise was the same as the shrine maiden landed near the edge of a cliff near the summit that overlooked the rest of Youkai Mountain, including the Moriya Shrine. Touya landed nearby and took a breath. He hadn't stayed in the air that long in quite a while but it was hard to feel bad about it considering what he got to see.

"Looks like whatever you saw before was gone." He pointed out as she walked up to stand beside Rise. He took in the beauty of Youkai Mountain from this angle and couldn't help but smile at the wonder. He turned back to Rise when he noticed that she didn't respond to him. Touya wondered if she was upset at something since she looked rather displeased at the moment.

"That's it? 'Looks like whatever you saw before was gone'? That was the only thing you cared about?" Rise yelled at him before shoving him with her shoulder. Touya yelped at the sudden 'attack' and nearly tripped over a piece of rock.

"What was that for?" Touya yelled back. As well as he and Rise could work together whenever the situation demanded it, the Moriya Shrine Maiden never really grew out of her habit of being mean to him whenever the opportunity presented itself. Touya couldn't even understand 'why' she seemed to always try to antagonize him. Unfortunately for him, that was the cause of many an argument between him and Rise. Most of which he found himself on the defensive simply because he didn't understand what the argument was even about.

"That was for being blind, dense, and inattentive! Be glad that I just rolled everything into one punishment." Rise answered with logic that was once again beyond Touya's reach. Touya looked around and grimaced. He couldn't understand it. Aside from the scenery, he couldn't pick up anything at all that would indicate that something untoward was happening at Youkai Mountain. Was Rise picking up something he couldn't? If so, what was it and why didn't she just share what she knew instead of leading him on a wild kedama chase then blaming him for not finding anything. He gave out a tired sigh...mainly because he really was tired...and hungry...and confused.

"Rise, you were the one who dragged me away from the shrine and started yelling at me to follow you because there was something going on at Youkai Mountain. I thought it was something really serious because you NEVER ask me for help when it came to trouble at Youkai Mountain because it was the Moriya Shrine's territory. So I followed you. I followed you, fully ready to go to town on any youkai, or god, or evil spirit, or whatever it was that even you couldn't take down in the place where you are at your strongest. Instead, we fly around all day with nothing to show for it and you blame me for not noticing anything. Well, I'm sorry. If you noticed something I couldn't, then please tell me what it is so we can just get this over with and go home. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I kept getting hit by you. I just want to go home and rest." Touya ranted out while pacing around with a troubled expression. He hated this. He hated it whenever he and Rise get into a fight or an argument. He hated it because he didn't want to argue or fight with Rise. He hated it more because he usually couldn't even comprehend why they were fighting in the first place. He looked back at Rise and saw that she had her head down and was trembling slightly. Touya set his jaw and took a few deep breaths. If worse comes to worse, it might come down to a danmaku battle between them...no matter how much Touya didn't want it to.

"Don't speak as if you know me that well..." Rise hissed at him with an angry expression. That was what the last straw for him. Touya gave out an audible sigh before roughly scratching his head with his right hand. He then looked straight at Rise and returned her glare. The shrine maiden could sense his hostile intent and prepared to defend herself. However, the attack never came. In fact the hostility that she sensed from the young Hakurei priest suddenly vanished. Touya's glare even changed into something akin to a hurt expression. Rise gulped since she wasn't used to Touya switching moods like that. The irony of that was lost to her sadly.

"Of course I know you that well, Rise. In case you've forgot, we grew up together." Touya calmly stated with the same expression. Rise blinked at him before recoiling at his words as if struck.

"I know your habits, your likes, your dislikes. I know that you're scared of spiders. I know that your favorite dish is tonkatsu that is practically swimming in sauce. I know that you hate having to memorize all those science books that the Kappa kept telling you to read up on. I know your danmaku patterns. I know your habits during a match. I know just how much faith and love you have for Yasaka-sama. I know how much you treasure Youkai Mountain and Gensokyo itself." Touya calmly stated with closed eyes and a much more relaxed expression. Rise stiffened at each point that Touya made, her face getting more and more red with each statement. The Moriya Shrine Maiden was utterly shocked at how much Touya knew her and she didn't know how she could even respond to that. She suddenly flinched when Touya finally opened his eyes and gave such a sad and longing expression that it very nearly broke Rise's heart to see.

"The only thing about you I can never understand is why you seem to dislike me so much..." Touya admitted before glancing away. That statement made Rise's mind completely freeze over. It wasn't fair! Why did he have to say those things with that kind of expression! Why does it look like she was the bad guy here?

"I just wanted to be your friend...even back when we were still kids..." Touya muttered in a resigned tone of voice, the way he said it just made Rise blush harder. She grit her teeth and clenched her fists. This wasn't like her at all! Kanako would have laughed at her for letting something like this get to her! She was better than this! With a growl that got Touya's attention, Rise stomped over to the edge of the cliff they were standing on before turning around and facing Touya. The young man was fully expecting another argument or a full on danmaku assault, but what he got was something completely different.

"It's your birthday tomorrow, right?" Rise asked him while folding her arms under her chest. Touya blinked a few times at the unexpected tangential question.

"Well...yeah. What does that have to do with anything?" Touya answered before asking a question of his own. Rise huffed at him before spreading her arms out wide.

"Behold! Is there no greater wonder to appreciate for your day of birth than the majesty of Youkai Mountain itself in spring?" Rise declared and asked him in a very boisterous manner. Touya could only gape at the girl and respond coherently in one possible way.

"What?" Touya asked, honestly lost with what Rise was trying to get across. The shrine maiden flinched before giving him an irritated expression again.

"Hello? Your birthday! I couldn't think of a present to give you this year so I just decided to have you behold the awe inspiring beauty of our mountain! Surely no other gift could compare to this!" Rise answered admitted her motive for bringing Touya all the way out there.

"Wait...so you did all this so I could see Youkai Mountain during the peak of spring...as a birthday present?" Touya asked in clarification, still unable to fully understand what it was that was happening at the moment.

"Of course! Couldn't you figure that out by yourself? That's why I said that you were blind, dense, and inattentive!" Rise snapped at him with a shake of her head.

"How could I have known? My birthday is tomorrow!" Touya immediately shot back. Rise flinched before making another displeased expression.

"That doesn't matter! You'd be too busy to come with me here tomorrow because of those three old hags!" Rise pointed out...while pointing at Touya with her gohei. It was Touya's turn to flinch after that statement. While it was true...

"Hey! No disrespecting Sakuya, Youmu and Reisen!" The Hakurei priest retorted immediately. Rise puffed up her cheeks in response.

"See! Those three will be occupying your time all day tomorrow and there'd be no chance for you to be able to truly appreciate the full beauty of Youkai Mountain!" Rise reasoned and Touya blinked since she was right. Since he didn't have a response to what Rise told him, their previously fiery argument suddenly dying down into cold silence.

"That's...that's right..." Touya managed to say out loud, his voice distant. His admission broke something within Rise that she was using to hold back a lot of things. And with that block broken...everything just flooded out.

"See! How am I supposed to even give you a present when those three keep taking up you time? How can we become friends if the only time we ever spend around each other is during incidents or during formal visits between our families? I wanted to be your friend too you know! But how can I even do that when you keep giving your time and attention to those three all the time?" Rise snapped at Touya, pointing out things that the young man hadn't even considered before. Touya was at a loss. All this time, he had wanted to become friends with Rise but it turned out that he was partially to blame about the whole thing as well.

"Rise...I..." Touya managed to let out but Rise was already too upset at this point and scowled at him.

"If you're going to apologize, then forget it. If it took you this long to realize that, and only after I shoved it into your face, then there isn't any meaning to it." The young woman bitterly stated before turning away from him and preparing to fly away. Touya immediately moved and grabbed her wrist before she could leave.

"Wha-" Rise was fully ready to try to kick Touya's ass if he tried to stop her, and was just about to, but the young man's next words put a halt to that train of thought.

"Thank you!" Touya almost yelled out in a mildly desperate manner that made the young woman give pause.

"Thank you...for both this present and for making me realize how stupid I've been..." He repeated and elaborated on the point with an awkward smile. Rise did not move and just stood there staring at him.

"Youkai Mountain is beautiful, especially today. Even though I was trying to look for anything suspicious and out of the ordinary, I still couldn't help but admire just how amazing this place is. So thank you...thank you for showing this to me. It's a great birthday present." Touya stated with as much sincerity as he could possibly muster while giving Rise a warm smile filled with gratitude. The young woman in question suddenly blushed bright red before turning away from Touya.

"...you should have just said that in the first place...idiot..." Rise muttered to herself before giving out a sigh and turning back to Touya.

"Well, as long as you understand now. Anyway, I'm tired and hungry too so follow me back to the shrine. You should at least eat before heading back home." Rise said before freeing her wrist from Touya's grasp and flying off to the Moriya Shrine. Touya simply smiled and nodded before following her, making a mental note to spend more time with his friend from now on.

...

"So..." One Yukari Yakumo stated at the head of a long table inside an oddly dimly lit room. She eyes each and every one of the occupants of the table and smiled. They had each personally asked for this unexpected meeting and the border youkai just couldn't help but become excited as to what all of them were up to now. Gathered along with herself at the table were Remilia Scarlet, Yuyuko Saigyouji, Kanako Yasaka, Suwako Moriya, and Eirin Yagokoro via a gap that led to her chambers at the Lunarian Capital.

Yukari had been surprised when Ran suddenly woke her up in the middle of winter with a letter of request that was signed off by all of the women present there right now. Whatever it was they wanted, they seemed serious.

"Anyone want to explain why we are all gathered here when I could be sound asleep?" Yukari asked with a raised brow. Much like Yuuka Kazami, Shizuha Aki, and Minoriko Aki, Yukari liked to spend her winters unconscious and just wait for spring to pop up when it does. The five other people present there looked at each other before looking back to Yukari.

"We are here because we managed to strike an agreement with each other about a certain something. Our arrangements seemed to be fair for all of us until one of us pointed out a certain variable that could mess up the whole thing. You." Eirin was the one who finally spoke out. Yukari blinked at her words and the rather serious way she said them.

"You all aren't planning a major incident are you? Because if you are and it messes with Gensokyo's balance..." Yukari reminded them all in a warning tone of voice. Ever since the Lunarian Invasion of Gensokyo, Yukari had been much more serious when it comes to large scale incidents. If there ever came a time when someone was dumb enough to cause an incident that threatened the actual balance of the realm, then she would take care of it herself. There are very few things in Gensokyo more frightening than an angry Yukari Yakumo on a warpath.

"Don't be ridiculous. We wouldn't be stupid enough to try anything that would threaten the balance of Gensokyo. We live here, remember?" Remilia responded with a dismissive wave and a bored tone.

"Besides, if anything, what we're planning would be nothing if beneficial to Gensokyo in the long run." Kanako added with a confident smirk while settling into her trademark pose of propping up her cheek with her right hand.

"Okay, so what is this whole thing about then? And why did you need to include me with this if you are all in agreement to whatever it is and it won't harm Gensokyo?" Yukari acknowledged before asking them what they were up to again.

"The reason why is because it has everything to do with Touya Hakurei." Suwako cheerfully said with a laugh, making the other women there smile as well. Yukari, on the other hand, wasn't smiling. In fact, Yukari bristled the second the native god mentioned Touya's name. All that did was elicit a giggle from the only member of the assembly that hadn't spoken yet.

"Fufufufu...I told you all that Yukari is very protective of Touya-kun." Yuyuko pointed out lightheartedly. However, even the words of her best friend wasn't enough to settle Yukari down and the border youkai continued to narrow her eyes at all of them there.

"Oh relax, Yukari. We're not going to hurt Touya in any way shape or form. If I tried, Sakuya would never forgive me." Remilia casually responded with a shake of her head. Yukari blinked at the vampire's casual dismissal of her implied threat to them...but that wasn't the end of it.

"Youmu wouldn't forgive me either." Yuyuko added with a smile.

"Reisen wouldn't forgive me as well." Eirin continued with a tired sigh.

"Rise would also go ballistic if we tried anything to harm him." Suwako also stated before giving out a laugh.

"I wouldn't expect any lesser reaction from my favored miko if Touya's safety was ever threatened by anyone." Kanako enforced Suwako's words with her own while giving a sagely nod.

"What are you all getting at? What do they have...to...do...with...oh...OH!" Yukari suddenly trailed of before exclaiming her surprise when she finally pieced together what was going on. She looked at each of the other women there with wide eyes as they all smiled at her.

"No...wait. So your big plan is to have Touya choose amongst one of your charges to be his woman?" Yukari already knew the answer but decided to ask anyway.

"Tis only fair. All of them seem very fond of Touya and it was about time for Youmu to finally settle down and start a family." Yuyuko responded to Yukari like a mother.

"You assume incorrectly, Yuyuko. It is clear that Sakuya is much more suited for him." Remilia countered with a smug smile.

"Please. Reisen clearly wins when it comes to pure sex appeal. Touya won't be able to resist her for very long once she gets serious about it." Eirin pointed out confidently with her own smirk.

"Please, that rabbit doesn't have any use ASIDE from her sex appeal." Kanako said with a sneer. Suwako laughed at the jab and picked up the conversation.

"Besides, Rise is the obvious choice since she's fully human unlike the other girls. In addition, it gives the added bonus of finally uniting the Moriya and Hakurei Shrines." Suwako added slyly while staring straight at Yukari. The border youkai flinched at the goddess' words since she had been intending on uniting the two families for quite some time now. She never went through with it since each of the priests and shrine maidens of each family chose different spouses throughout the generations. If Rise Kochiya was willing to marry Touya...and if Touya could develop feelings for her as well...

"And that is the very reason why we are having this meeting...in order to bring out a fair consensus for this situation." Eirin interrupted Yukari's train of thought with her words.

"Indeed. With the situation as it is right now, Rise-chan has an unfair advantage over everyone else because of her being a human and her status as a shrine maiden. I can't stand by and let that take place without giving Youmu a chance at her own happiness." Yuyuko added with a more than a hint of determination in her voice.

"Agreed. I'm sure that Sakuya will gracefully respect Touya's choice for a partner but I'll be damned if I allow my head maid to bow out of this without a fight." Remilia added her own opinion while glaring at Kanako and Suwako.

"And I assume that you want Reisen to win Touya's heart?" Yukari postulated while looking at Eirin.

"She deserves a happy ending for all the hard work she has done under me and the work she has been doing under Kaguya. A loving husband should make her more than happy enough." The Lunarian answered with a nod and a smile.

"Okay. So, if I got this straight, you all want your own girl to end up as Touya's wife right? Where do I come in?" Yukari finally asked the critical question after confirming the intentions of the women there. They all looked at each other again before turning back to her and giving their own sly smiles.

"You don't." They all chorused at the same time, much to Yukari's surprise and confusion.

"What?" The border youkai voiced her confusion in the most elegant way possible.

"As it stands, each of our girls are on even footing with one another. However, the only one who could tip the scales drastically is you. Your words and influence hold significant weight to Touya, which is why whoever you favor will have the best chance of ending up with him in the end." Remilia pointed out. She couldn't use her fate manipulation since everyone else would call her out on it and that won't end well for anyone. Besides, with the way Sakuya's fate was now set up, she couldn't even do it if she tried.

"We want to to stay out of this whole thing. Full non-intervention policy. Neither act for nor against any of our girls. That is the fairest way we can go about this whole thing." Kanako got down to the reason why they asked Yukari there in the first place. The youkai in question raised a brow at her words and gave out a thoughtful hum.

"Not just with our girls either. We want you to promise us not to interfere when it comes to Touya-kun's love life with any girl here in Gensokyo." Yuyuko said in a serious tone that didn't feel right coming from the usually bubbly ghost.

"So you want me to step out of Touya's life because you are all scared of what I 'might' be able to do to influence him?" Yukari asked, a bit put off that the others would even think of suggesting such a thing to her.

"Nope. We just want you to promise that you won't interfere with Touya's love life with anyone here in Gensokyo. Otherwise, you can treat him the way you always do." Suwako clarified for Yukari. The border youkai considered the whole thing for several moments. She weighed the pros and cons of such an arrangement. Then she remembered something when it comes to Touya and smiled.

"Alright. I agree to those terms. I swear never to interfere with Touya Hakurei's romantic dealings with anyone here in Gensokyo." Yukari stated in a clear and concise manner, making sure that they all heard her declaration. They all smiled at her in approval, happy that one less variable was taken out of their respective plans for their girl.

Yukari didn't care though. She knew that any girl trying to get at Touya's heart will have a monumental task before her. After all, he has the same problem that Reimu had when it comes to dealing with other people. It took superhuman effort from 'that man' for Reimu to acknowledge him and finally fall in love with him. If Touya was anything like his ancestor, any girl would likely have to go through something of equal or greater effort for the boy to fall in love with her.

Regardless, it would be very interesting to witness. Definitely something for the Gensokyo Chronicles

Blackraptor

  • Furniture
  • The guy with the thing over there at the place
Re: Fantastic Shrine Tales of Hidden Romance
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 11:40:15 am »
My nemesis 'character limit' strikes again!

...

Little did any of them realize though, a certain event in early spring the following year had the potential to eventually unravel everything Remilia, Yuyuko, Eirin, Kanako and Suwako had planned...and the cause would be because of a completely unrelated person.

The threat to their plans would come from a certain youkai of flowers that will challenge Yukari to a match and get pulled into a strange portal that led to a strange world. That youkai's story would eventually affect and influence the events on the life of Touya Hakurei in ways that none of them would have ever anticipated.

Somewhere out there in the great expanse of the infinite cosmos...someone was laughing their ass off.

...

MOAR NOTES:

...

This is to address and to 'Word of God' how Sakuya is still alive even after five-hundred years even though I originally stated that she was supposed to have lived a normal human lifespan like Reimu, Marisa, and Sanae. Taking a cue from all the theories and suggestions in the Spacebattles thread, you can blame them for this too, I decided to use Remilia's fate manipulation to explain it. So here it is:

In the events of Imperishable Night, Remilia offered to turn Sakuya into a vampire in order to get around that little limitation that is known as the human life span so she can continue to serve under her indefinitely as the head maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Sakuya declined and stated that she was content in spending the rest of her natural life in the service of the Scarlet Devil. Remilia respected her wish and decided to let the matter drop. The problem was that Remilia didn't have as much control over her other power as she once believed. Deep down, Remilia really did not want to lose Sakuya to something as mundane as aging. Because of this, little by little, Remilia subconsciously started tweaking Sakuya's fate until it finally completely changed into something entirely different.

Everyone eventually caught on to the possibility that something was weird since Sakuya somehow stopped aging. The cause was eventually revealed thanks to some help from Patchouli, Yuyuko and Shikieiki.

To say that Eiki was not amused by what they found out was a severe understatement. It even ended up becoming an incident between her and Remilia in something that I'm too lazy to explain and flesh out.

Sakuya's new and current fate is as follows: Sakuya Izayoi is fated to continue to live in the way, means, and form that she wished so long as she retained the 'desire to live'.

That means that Remilia basically gave Sakuya the ability to become whatever the hell she wanted. If she wanted to become immortal, her fate will somehow make it happen. If she wanted to become a god, her fate will somehow make it happen. If she wanted to become the most powerful being in Gensokyo and rolfstomp Yukari and Dragon, her fate will somehow find a way to make it happen. She basically has a pass to potentially be a god-mode sue and no one can do anything about it except Sakuya herself.

Thankfully, Sakuya didn't have any desire to become any of those things. She was the happiest, most content, and desired above all else to simply continue to serve under Remilia as her maid. So that was exactly what she did. This means that Sakuya became functionally immortal so long as she wanted to continue on living.

...

This one is to address and to 'Word of God' how Youmu is still alive even after five-hundred years even though one could assume that half-ghosts aren't supposed to live that long.

The first thing I have to point out is that the actual life span of a half-ghost was never stated. Even Konpaku Youki's actual age was never revealed and it was implied or assumed that Youmu herself was already pushing eighty by the time Perfect Cherry Blossom happened.

However, in case that wasn't enough, someone in the Spacebattles thread offered an amusingly simple but plausible explanation to her current life span.

Hakugyokurou.

The poster suggested that the time inside the Tower of White Jade did not move forward as opposed to outside the Netherworld. So long as Youmu stays in there, she doesn't age simply because the relative time doesn't even move. That means that Youmu only ages whenever she leaves Hakugyokurou, and it makes sense. All throughout the events of the Windows Touhou Games starting with PCB, Youmu's looks never really changes. She was still half-human so you'd think that she was subject to some change at some point, but she doesn't.

The reason why she has lived for this long is because an incident happened that forced Yuyuko to shut the doors to the Netherworld for an indeterminate amount of time. It could have been because of the Lunarian Invasion, it could have been something else. Further exploration on what actually made Yuyuko shut the gates is something I cannot really elaborate right now. Youmu was stuck inside the land of the dead during this period and did not age at all but at that point, she had already aged quite a bit because of time spent in Gensokyo proper and already looked like she was in her mid-twenties. Fast forward to the timeline of this story and Be Careful What You Wish For and Yuyuko was finally able to open the gates again and Youmu was finally able to go back outside.

This theory implies that Youmu has a comparable life-span to a human, if a bit longer because of her half-ghost properties, but she is still very much mortal. Circumstances merely worked in a way that ensured that she would eventually be there by the time Touya was born.

...

This one is to address and to 'Word of God' how Reisen is still alive even after five-hundred years even though one could assume that Lunar Rabbits aren't supposed to live that long.

The answer to this is simple. A shady drug made by Eirin. Seriously.

Reisen was subject to Eirin's last creation in Gensokyo before the Lunarian Invasion hit and she was forced to return to the Moon to clean house. That creation was an experimental longevity potion that Eirin was working on. The potion was supposed to be able to stop aging but will not render the user immortal like the Hourai Elixir. Instead, it will just make someone stop aging but they could still die through means other than aging. Since it was still an experimental prototype, it was obvious that Reisen be the one to test it.

Surprisingly, it worked. Unfortunately, before Eirin could make the potion to remove its effects on Reisen...the Lunarian Invasion happened. Because of all that, the effect of the longevity potion was never removed from Reisen which was why she still looks young even after five-hundred years. Of course, since the potion was a prototype, Eirin said that the effects should fade away and Reisen will continue aging normally again...after five-hundred years. Huh, go figure.

As for the origin of Mokou and Kaguya's 'Childhood Scorned Friendship', that bit came from an arc of Touhou Rider Reimu. Read the 'Imperishable Differences' chapters, particularly the second part, for more information about my version of their backstory...mainly from Kaguya's perspective because at the time, there weren't many of those kinds of stories from her side...it was mostly Mokou's perspective on those stories so I decided to do something different.

...

In case no one caught wind of it yet...yes, the Lunarian Invasion of Gensokyo was a VERY big deal that had ramifications which shaped the Eastern Wonderland into what it is by the time Be Careful What You Wish For happened.

Will I ever expand on it and actually tell the story behind such a massive incident? Doubtful.

I originally thought up the concept of the invasion as the finale for a story I was developing that never became tangible. The concept revolved about 'that man' who managed to win Reimu's heart. Not only was that supposed to have been a straight Touhou character-driven romance story, it also went against a certain convention when it came to such stories. Instead of the man in question coming from the outside world, 'that man' would instead be a resident of the human village. He would have been around the same age as Reimu and Marisa and developed a great admiration to the shrine maiden as she continued to solve incident after incident and the story rolled from there.

Unfortunately, since he doesn't even have a name, the idea never got past the preliminary concept...ironically BECAUSE of Be Careful What You Wish For. That story, which didn't even have a title, was what I was supposed to work on alongside Touhou Rider Reimu.

However, exposure to Hill of Swords and the slew of Familiar of Zero crossover stories and concepts caused me to go in a different direction...a direction that was directly influenced by the 'Breaking of Louise' and the 'Breaking in Louise' threads of the Spacebattles Creative Writing Forums...the precursors to the current 'Summon a Familiar' threads in the same board. A sudden whim, a roll around Danbooru, a few pictures of Chikage's genderbent Yuka Kazami, and an afternoon with nothing to do later...Be Careful What You Wish For happened.

Yes, that is correct. My vision of genderbent Yuka is Chikage's Yuu-kun, and ONLY his version of genderbent Yuka. Google it and behold the delectable manliness of genderbent Yuuka Kazami. And yes, I will refer to the male version as 'Yuka' and refer to the female version as 'Yuuka'.

Blackraptor

  • Furniture
  • The guy with the thing over there at the place
Re: Fantastic Shrine Tales of Hidden Romance
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 11:41:27 am »
This update chapter is thanks to an idea by Spacebattles user wildredlifer. Original concept was thanks to him and I loved the idea so much that I decided to write it myself so here it be! Please enjoy!

...

There is an old saying that you have to learn to walk before you learn to run. This can be taken both literally or figuratively as a lesson all children have to learn at some point. Although, walking and running are only part of the things one had to learn if one was born into a certain family living in a certain Eastern Wonderland.

A five year old Touya Hakurei was currently seated in seiza position and waiting important instructions on how to do something everyone born into his family was expected to do. It was one of the first of many many mile stones that the boy will pass through his life.

He was here to learn how to fly.

"Eyes straight boy. This is your first day on flying lessons and I want you alert and listening to my instructions carefully." The gruff old voice of the giant flying turtle of the Hakurei clan said as he looked at the latest generation of the family he had served for centuries. Now, some would likely find it odd to receive teachings when it came to flight from a very old sentient talking turtle...but that's just how it was for the Hakurei clan of Gensokyo.

"Okay boy, I've taught every Hakurei how to fly reaching back to the venerable Lady Reika Hakurei when she could barely even walk. " The aged turtle stated with his words swelling pride at its accomplishments despite the gravelly quality of his voice. The boy did not really understand the gravity of the talking turtle's words and simply sat there like a good boy in the way his mother instructed him to.

"I have to admit though...you have a weird feel about you..." Genji muttered to himself as he narrowed his eyes at the young Hakurei boy.

"Is it something bad?" Touya finally spoke out for the first time since their apparent lesson started. The turtle blinked at him a few times and considered the question with a hum.

"Nothing bad...just something...familiar. Anyway, it's nothing that will hinder your lessons so let's get started on that." Genji said before adopting a more formal tone of voice, indicating that the day's lesson was about to begin in earnest. The boy noticed that as well and sat up straighter in response.

"Now, since you're already here, I assume that your parents already taught you some of the basics when it comes to using your family's magic, right?" Genji asked both to be sure that the child was ready for his lessons as well as a quick review in case his parents missed anything of if Touya just plain forgot some important things. The boy nodded in response before closing his eyes to better recall what his parents have already taught him.

"The most common and most used forms of the Hakurei Clan's magic are Sealing, Protective Barrier, and Purification spells. There are also several hand to hand martial techniques that have been passed down for generations. The most constant and most powerful of them is the Hakurei Musou Tensei, which takes full advantage of our natural attribute to call on Holy-class energies by way of calling upon the power of native gods." Touya answered clearly and concisely before opening his eyes and giving Genji a smile. The turtle hummed at the unexpected fluency that the boy had in speech.

"Now, explain all of that to me as if you are speaking with someone in the human village who knows nothing of magic." Genji suddenly said, making the boy blink at him a few times. An awkward silence passed between the two of them for several moments before the turtle gave out a sigh.

"You don't know how, do you?" The turtle asked as he palmed his face with his right front flipper while shaking his head.

"I just memorized what mom told me before." Touya admitted with a shrug.

"Fine then, what else did she teach you other than the background of your family's magic?" Genji changed his question in hopes that the boy would have learned something more practical instead. Touya nodded before beaming at the talking old turtle.

"I can magically charge up to five ofuda at once!" The boy stated proudly. Genji raised a figurative eyebrow at that statement.

"And none of the blew up?" He asked just to be sure. The boy shook his head before smiling at the reptile once more.

"Not until I made them blow up." Touya answered the old turtle.

"Five years old...not bad kid." Genji commended the boy with a nod, to which Touya gave an even bigger smile. The turtle had reason to commend him though. At that age, most Hakurei children could only charge one or two ofuda safely. There hasn't been a precedent of such a thing happening in the last few centuries...

...not since Reimu Hakurei...

"Ummm...are you okay Mister Genji?" Touya asked after the turtle became silent for a while. Said turtle gave the boy another once over after having those thoughts, that strange familiar feeling he was getting from the boy didn't help either.

"I'm alright kid...in any case, you should have more than enough control for our first lesson. Now, listen very carefully to my instructions." Genji shook off the strange feeling before giving an instructive lecture on the mechanics of being in the state of 'In Flight' as it were.

For a member of the Hakurei clan, flying was second nature to them since the power to 'float through the air' was something common to all of them after Reimu's time. Getting in the air was easy. Staying in the air without causing massive damage to one's self and to others is a completely different story.

"Got it kid? Just first relax and grasp your power gently before surrounding yourself with it." Genji instructed to a now standing Touya who adopted an open stance and had his eyes closed. The turtle let the boy focus on his instructions for a while and was rewarded with a soft yellow glow outlining his body.

"Good. Now, very very very gently lift yourself up with that power. Remember kid. Gently." Genji continued his instructions, making sure to emphasize the concept of 'gently' as much as possible. The boy nodded at his words and his expression relaxed right before...

"Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!" He shot straight up into the sky like a three-legged crow out of hell. The boy's scream quickly faded due to the speed of ascent and sheer vertical climb he subjected himself to. Genji sighed once more before preparing to go after the boy when a black and purple streak suddenly shot up after Touya from outside the shrine grounds. Genji made a thoughtful hum before giving a turtle equivalent of a shrug and simply waited for Touya and his savior to return.

A while later, one Reisen Udongein Inaba landed in front of Genji with a shaking Touya who looked absolutely terrified. The long-lived Lunar Rabbit cradled the child in her arms before giving the turtle an unamused look.

"He overcompensated for his weight. The kid must have a lot of power in him if he was able to do that while being 'gentle'." Genji explained with another turtle-shrug. Reisen didn't look happy about the explanation that was provided but the turtle expected as much from one of Touya's three nursemaids.

"Are you crazy! That was too dangerous! If I hadn't been there then-" Reisen's rant was cut short when the old turtle cut her off with a raised left flipper.

"I would have brought him back safe and sound. I've been doing this for centuries so I know what I'm doing and talking about. The kid's parents left him with me for his flying lesson just like his mom was when she was a kid. Now set him down and back off Bunny Hop." Genji stated in all seriousness, reminding the Inaba who exactly she was addressing.

"Even so..." Reisen moved to object once more, though with far less conviction in her voice.

"Look at it this way, if he can't even overcome something like flying, then he'll never be able to solve incidents once it becomes his time to be called on for them. Coddling him like a sick animal will just make him dependent on you three for everything." Genji added to be sure that he got his point across. Reisen winced at the last part since she knew intellectually that the old turtle was right. Reisen looked at the boy one more time, who was looking back at her with uncertainty, before sighing and setting him down. She absentmindedly straightened her suit and pants back to their usual immaculate form before rubbing Touya's head in a comforting manner. Thankfully, the boy responded and stopped trembling after a few moments of petting from the Inaba.

"Don't worry about him. The kid has a lot of power in him. That shot up in the air proves it. All we really need to work on is control..." The turtle pointed out before considering his words once more.

"...a lot of it." Genji added with a resolute nod.

...

For the next several weeks, Touya was left with Genji to continue his flying lessons. Progress was...slow and incremental. True to Genji's words, Touya had proven to possess an impressive amount of raw magical and spiritual power through the course of his lessons. Unfortunately, raw power was not an attribute that Genji's lessons have been trying to draw out. At all.

"Level yourself out kid. Flying upside down is not how you want to be while in the middle of Danmaku Battles." Genji instructed as both he and Touya floated a couple of hundred feet from the ground. The boy had finally managed to get into the air at a more reasonable rate and was now being instructed on the finer points of actual flight.

"I'm...trying..." Touya muttered with great effort as he tried to stop himself from effectively tumbling around in the air. The boy grunted and his power responded by making the yellow light outlining his body grow brighter. Genji hummed to himself as he thought on how best to deal with the situation. Touya had proven that, once he understands and learns something, he can do whatever he learned with little effort afterward. The main problem was getting him to learn a skill in the first place.

"Alright, just stop right there kid." Genji instructed just when the boy looked like he was about to pop a blood vessel. The boy followed his orders and relaxed. He was still upside down and his breathing was starting to get labored. Genji considered cutting the day's lesson short for a fresh start tomorrow considering that Touya simply wasn't picking up on his instructions. He was about to call it too when someone interrupted their training.

"Hooo~! So this is little Yuria's little boy~" One of the voices that Genji never wanted to hear while teaching a new Hakurei how to fly spoke out from a short distance away. Both he and the still upside down Touya turned to the source of the voice and saw none other than Yuuka Kazami smiling at the two of them. The flower youkai was wearing her trademark white blouse with a yellow ascot along with a red plaid vest and matching ankle length skirt and brown shoes.

"Qute a unique way to teach the boy how to fly old Leatherback. Is this a new style of flying or were you just bored and decided to tease the poor kid?" Yuuka asked with a sneering smile as she twirled her open parasol that was leaning on her right shoulder.

"Lay off, Tulip. The kid is just having trouble staying stable in the air." Genji explained with a shake of his head, not in the mood to deal with someone like Yuuka at the moment.

"Is that so~?" She responded while locking her crimson eyes right at the boy. Yuuka smiled even more when Touya started floating away from her after a moment.

"Hmmm...do you know of me, boy?" Yuuka asked with the same smile. Touya shook his head but continued to slowly float away from the flower youkai, something at the back of his mind kept telling him that this woman was incredibly powerful and dangerous.

"Do you fear me though?" She followed up before smirking when Touya immediately nodded in response. Genji was hoping that Yuuka would just get bored and leave. Past experience proved that Yuuka was rather finicky when it came to things that didn't really hold her interest.

"You have good intuition then..." She said before Touya felt something inside him practically scream at him to move. That was all it took for him to change his positioning and spin away from a bolt of magic...one that came from Yuuka's left forefinger.

"Hey!" Genji's protest fell on deaf ears as Yuuka continued to try to take potshots at Touya. The boy was rather terrified at the moment as he continued to desperately avoid the bolts of magic that Yuuka was firing at him. Unfortunately, panic and instability during flight did not go well together as demonstrated by Touya misjudging his evasion and ended up right in the path of one of Yuuka's magic bolts. The boy cringed and braced himself for pain but all he heard was the very familiar hum of a barrier being put up in front of him. He ventured to open his eyes and saw the stylized insignia of a Hakurei Barrier spell in front of him.

"Knock it off! You're gonna get the kid hurt!" Genji roared out from his left side with a voice he had never heard from the normally gruff but levelheaded turtle. The barrier was cast by Genji, since Touya had yet to learn the spell from his mother, so the boy was very grateful to his teacher for his intervention. The boy looked between the turtle and the youkai and saw Yuuka simply shrug at Genji.

"Just what are you playing at Kazami? You know damn well that the Yuria and Yukari would go on a rampage if anything happened to the kid because of you!" The old turtle yelled out at the flower youkai who didn't really seemed alarmed at all.

"Me? I was just fixing your stupid problem is all." She stated simply before pointing a dainty finger, the same one that was shooting at Touya, at the boy. Genji narrowed his eyes at her but turned to his charge all the same, his expression changing into one of surprise after realizing what Yuuka was talking about.

"What is it?" Touya asked in a mildly alarmed voice after both Genji and Yuuka just floated there while looking at him.

"You're flying, kid...flying right I mean." Genji answered. Touya blinked at him before looking down at himself and gasping.

"You're right! I'm not upside down anymore! I can fly right now!" The boy exclaimed while raising both of his arms up in joy and giving Genji a bright smile. The turtle returned the smile before wondering how such a thing even happened.

"How did I do this? I mean, nothing worked so far and I made sure to try to follow your instructions." Touya voiced Genji's concern while furrowing his brows in apparent confusion. The response came in the form of a laugh from the one who attacked him in the first place. Both he and Genji turned to the flower youkai and saw that she was giving both of them a confident smirk.

"You'd be surprised at how quickly one can learn something when they think that their life is on the line." The flower youkai stated before turning around and giving one last look back at them.

"Try to teach him in that manner next time. The boy seems to respond better and learn faster through his intuition rather than his intellect." She said in parting before flying away to a different part of Gensokyo. Touya and Genji simply stayed up in the air for a while before looking at each other.

"Well kid, looks like Tulip has a point." Genji conceded as he glanced back to where Yuuka flew off to.

"What do you mean by that?" The boy asked with a tilted head.

"What I mean is that it's easier for you to learn by experience rather that through instructions. Hence, you get to learn the ropes Hard Ball style." Genji explained with a ghost of a smile. Touya didn't really understand what he meant by Hard Ball but the tiny voice at the back of his head kept warning him that it wasn't something that he would end up enjoying.

...

"Aaahh! Get away! Get away! Get away!" Touya yelled out as he streaked across the clear blue sky while he desperately tried to lose his three pursuers. It had been a couple of months since his encounter with Yuuka Kazami and Genji had made good on his promise on taking a more Hard Ball approach to his flying lessons.

"Come back here you little pop tart!" The fairy of the sun, appropriately named Sunnymilk, called out after him as she and her compatriots continued to give chase to the boy.

The fairy in the lead had light blue eyes and short gold hair braided by the sides of her head. She was wearing a red and white colored dress and black shoes. Like her friends, the pair of wings on her back does not appear to actually be connected to her body.

"Don't let him get away!" The second of the three yelled out as she flew close behind their leader. She was the fairy of the moon, Lunachild. She had red eyes, curly blond hair, wears a mob cap that resembles that of Remilia Scarlet's. She was wearing a white one-piece skirt with black ribbons are tied on parts of her body. Like Sunnymilk, her wings did not seem to be directly connected to her actual body.

"Waaaiiit! Don't fly too fast!" The last of the pursuing fairies yelled out after the others as she struggled to keep up with everyone. This fairy was the fairy of starlight, Star Sapphire. She had eyes and long straight black hair. She was wearing a blue dress with a big blue ribbon on her head. As with her friends, her wings did not look like they were physically connected to her back. Due to the color and style of her hair, there was one time wherein the exiled Lunarian Princess, Kaguya Houraisan, attempted to dress up as Star Sapphire for kicks. Surprisingly, she managed to fool both Sunnymilk and Lunachild. It didn't really last after she was seen by one Fujiwara no Mokou. Although there have been unconfirmed rumors that she kept those clothes somewhere within the depths of the Eternal Mansion of Eientei.

Despite the centuries that passed, the three fairies never really changed or developed into anything else over time. Unlike the ice fairy Cirno, who did see a mild amount of physical growth through the centuries as her power grew, the three of them just stayed the same way they've always been.

"Stop chasing me!" Touya yelled out at the three fairies as he continued to weave through the air to avoid capture. Genji was observing the whole thing from a higher altitude and could not help but be amazed at the boy's progress. Thanks to the passing comment that Yuuka Kazami made and a change in the way he taught Touya how to move through the air, the young Hakurei was quickly learning how to fly like a member of his clan should.

"Is that really...little Touya?" A new voice suddenly caught the old turtle's attention. He turned to the newcomer and found the Perfect and Elegant Maid, Sakuya Izayoi, floating to his left.

"Pretty good huh? The kid couldn't even fly right side up until about a couple of months ago. Now, he's popping barrel rolls and other crazy maneuvers to keep those three from catching him." Genji pointed out how much the boy had come along in a matter of weeks. Sakuya nodded and did not comment on that subject any further, assuming that it was through the old turtle's instruction that Touya improved so well.

"Why does he seem so scared of getting caught by those three?" Sakuya asked as Touya continued to clearly be hell bent on keeping the three fairies as far away from him as possible.

"We had an agreement. If they can catch him within the next hour, then they can have Touya as their personal toy for the next two hours." Genji explained with a turtle-shrug.

"Oh my..." Sakuya muttered, likely realizing what such a stipulation would mean for the young boy.

"Yep. Last time it happened, they dressed him up in one of the frilliest things I have ever seen...then they had a tea party." He explained, earning a subdued giggle from the maid.

"Yes...that would be enough to motivate him to do his best to evade capture." Sakuya said in a lighthearted manner. Four streaks flew across the open skies of Gensokyo. It wasn't an actual Danmaku Battle so no projectiles were ever fired in the duration of the chase, but seeing Touya and the fairies fly through the air with the greatest of ease was still something too look at.

Touya still got caught several minutes later...by Star Sapphire. Again.

...

"Now that you have experience with flying around in free space, I want you to experience what it is like to fly around a more restricted setting." Genji started as he explained their current lesson plan amidst the countless number of cherry blossom trees that littered the netherworld of Gensokyo.

"Thank you again for letting us do this here in Hakugyokurou, Lady Yuyuko." Genji added as he turned to their host. The Princess of the Netherworld, Yuyuko Saigyouji, stood a short distance away along with her gardener, Youmu Konpaku.

"Ara~Ara~! Think nothing of it Genji. If it's to help little Touya-kun, then it's no trouble at all. Isn't that right, Youmu?" The bubbly ghost girl said with a smile before turning to her companion for the question.

"It certainly wouldn't do him any harm to practice here. It will be much safer than doing it elsewhere like the Forest of Magic or the Underground. At least here, we'll be able to keep an eye on him." Youmu answered in a perfectly elegant manner that wouldn't sound out of place coming from her good friend Sakuya.

"You mean that 'you' will be able to keep an eye on him~" Of course, Yuyuko could easily break through Youmu's Yamato Nadeshiko persona to expose some of her old shy self.

"I-I-I have no idea what you mean by that, Yuyuko-sama..." Youmu trailed off with a terribly weak denial. It wasn't really a secret that she and her two other friends, Reisen and Sakuya were extremely fond of Touya Hakurei ever since he was a baby. They were his unofficial godmothers and guardians, they sometimes even went out of their way to visit the child when they had free time. It was no small thing to say that the three of them really did love the boy in their own ways.

"Hmm...right. Anyway, here's what's what for today's lessons. Hey, are you listening kid?" Genji redirected the conversation back to the right track as he turned back to his charge. All three of them saw that Touya was already off the ground but was a little below the tree-line. The five year old was trying to catch some of the countless cherry blossom petals that were constantly floating around. It seemed like such a silly thing but the smile on the boy's face showed that he was indeed having fun with it.

"Knock it off kid. You can play later." Genji gently admonished with a bit of a smile.

"This place is great! Your house is amazing Youmu-nee!" Touya gushed as he floated over to Genji and the others and showed them quite a number of cherry blossom petals in his hands. Youmu was slightly taken aback by the boy's enthusiasm but could not help but return the smile she was radiating to everyone else.

"This is not my house Touya. I simply live here while serving Yuyuko-sama." Youmu clarified while gesturing to Yuyuko who was standing next to her. Touya turned to the ghost girl and Yuyuko merely smiled and waved at the boy.

"Why are you wearing pajamas in the morning?" The boy immediately asked after giving Yuyuko a once over.

"Touya!" Youmu yelled at the boy for his blatant disrespect of her mistress. Touya flinched and cowered at the sudden shift in Youmu's attitude.

"Wh-wh-why? Did I do something wrong?" The boy asked in a subdued voice. The worried expression he gave that matched his voice quickly made Youmu feel like she just kicked a puppy. That feeling was thankfully dealt with when she heard her mistress give out a laugh.

"Leave the boy be, Youmu. It is a legitimate question after all." Yuyuko came to the boy's rescue with an aptly timed response. Youmu hummed in weak protest but relented all the same since she didn't really like to scold Touya anyway. Yuyuko turned back to the boy and gave him an encouraging smile and a pat on the head.

"Don't worry too much about it. I am wearing my pajamas because I just had my nap before you and Genji arrived." Yuyuko explained to the boy as she continued to rub his head.

"Oh...that makes sense. Just make sure that you change into regular clothes later. Mom always says that I should wear the right clothes for the right situations...no matter how much I want to just stay in my pajamas. If I could do it, then so can you." Touya stated in all seriousness as that was a lesson that her mother drilled into his head early on. The boy knew very well how scary her mother can be since even his father, Auntie Suika, Big Sis Reisen, Big Sister Sakuya, and Youmu-nee were sometimes scared of her. Yuyuko gave the boy another giggle before nodding to him.

"I will be sure not to make the same mistake again then." Yuyuko said to the boy with a smile.

"Hey kid, we don't have all day. Let's get this started already." Genji reminded the boy. Yuyuko stepped back to allow Touya to walk back to his flight instructor to begin his lesson.

"Alright kid, listen up. Like I was saying earlier, the main point here is to learn how to fly while making sure to avoid crashing into obstacles that might get in your way." The old turtle started to outline his plan for the day. His student nodded at his words with both Yuyuko and Youmu watching from a short distance away.

"Today's lesson is simple. Just follow me and keep up, that's it." Genji stated simply with a nod to himself.

"That's it?" The boy asked with blinking eyes.

"Yep. Just make sure to stay below the tree line and fly as close to me as you can for as long as you can. This exercise is simple but you'll get smacked around by a bunch of trees if you don't pay attention. Got it?" The flying turtle clarified and earned a nod from his student. Genji then turned his attention to Yuyuko and Youmu.

"Yep. Just make sure to stay below the tree line and fly as close to me as you can for as long as you can. This exercise is simple but you'll get smacked around by a bunch of trees if you don't pay attention. Got it?" The flying turtle clarified and earned a nod from his student. Genji then turned his attention to Yuyuko and Youmu.

"I want to have the Saigyou Ayakashi as the finish line for our exercise. Would that be okay?" He asked. The turtle knew that the cursed tree could potentially be rather dangerous but it also hasn't shown any sort of activity since Cirno and Lily Whiterock messed with it centuries ago. Yuyuko glanced up to the sky to contemplate the turtle's request but Youmu looked like she wasn't sure if that was a good idea.

"It should be alright so long as you make sure that Touya-kun doesn't start poking around at the tree. Besides, I'm sure that Youmu will make sure that he will be safe once you arrive there." The ghost answered with a smile before turning to her gardener for the last part. The ghostly gardener could not help but simply sigh since she knew her mistress' words to be true.

"You have my thanks." Genji gave a respectful bow before turning back to his charge.

"Alright kid. Let's get dangerous!" The turtle declared with a grin before shooting off into the trees.

"Hey!" Touya shouted before taking off after Genji. Yuyuko and Youmu simply stood there as they watched the turtle and the boy disappear through the countless cherry blossom trees there.

"Aren't you going after them?" The Ghost Princess asked her gardener and long-time friend with a tilted head. Youmu, ever composed, simply closed her eyes and shook her head.

"I am certain that Genji can keep him safe. I am certain that he will be fine so there is no reason for me to pursue." Youmu reasoned before nodding to herself in agreement to her own idea. Yuyuko gave a thoughtful hum before nodding.

"Suit yourself." She added with a shrug before flying off in the direction where Touya and Genji flew through. As per usual, the Princess of the Netherworld proved that she could easily break through Youmu's Yamato Nadeshiko side as the half-ghost quickly became flustered at her mistress' action.

"W-wait for me, Yuyuko-sama!" Youmu called after her mistress before following.

...

Dodging stationary obstacles during flight can either be ridiculously easy or obscenely difficult for someone. Depending on the kind of obstacles in question and how used one is to dodge them, it could either be one or the other or some form of combination between the two.

"Argh! Who put these trees here?" Touya pointlessly complained as he struggled to keep up with Genji. The boy never had to deal with flying through a dense forest full of trees at speed before. Normally he and Genji would simply fly over obstacles before landing at their destination or somewhere close by. He had never had to fly below the tree line and subsequently had to dodge tree trunks and branches because of it.

"How does Genji fly through all this?" The boy asked in frustration as he barely avoided slamming into a tree in his way. The boy could have sworn that the tree just suddenly jumped out in front of him or something. The constantly falling cherry blossom petals just made visibility even worse. Observing them on the ground as they fluttered in the air was wondrous and beautiful...but now they were just in the way and Touya was really starting to hate them because of it.

Despite all the difficulties though, Touya could still keep Genji within visual range. The boy wasn't sure if the turtle was having as much trouble flying there as much as he did or if he was just matching his pace so he could still keep up. All the same, he was happy that he could still even confirm that he could still see Genji through all of this.

"Guh!" Touya grunted before hissing in pain after he noticed a tree too late. He ended up panicking and trying to dodge it at once that he overcompensated for it and ended up slamming his back into a trunk of another nearby tree. He bounced off the aforementioned tree but recovered quickly enough to avoid hitting anything else. Touya ended up getting bounced around by cherry blossom trees a few more times but he managed to get through it with minimal pain. He was pretty sure that he was going to have to deal with a bunch of bruises, bumps, and scrapes, but nothing he hadn't had to deal with before. Touya continued to follow Genji through the forest and was starting to get the hang of flying through those obstacles. After a while though, he ended up looking up and was stunned by what he saw.

"Oh wow...how did I miss that?" He asked himself in awe and wonder of what he was looking at. In the distance he saw what looked like a gigantic tree...a dead one considering the lack of any leaves of flowers on its branches. It was also far larger than any other tree the boy had ever seen so far. Touya even thought that the Hakurei Shrine could probably fit on top of it because of the sheer size of the thing. He continued on and eventually realized that he was flying in the direction of the giant tree.

"Is Genji leading me there?" Touya asked himself even though he was fairly certain that the flying turtle was indeed had the giant tree in mind as their destination. The boy's intuition proved correct as he finally broke through the forest and into a large clearing with the giant tree taking the center. To provide perspective on just how big the tree was, the roots that broke out from the ground at the base of the tree were thicker than the trunks of the other trees.

"Wow...that is a very big tree." The boy stated the obvious as he tried to look up to try to see just how high it goes.

"Sure is kid. You're not hurt too bad are you?" Genji said from a short distance away.

"What is it...and why doesn't have any flowers?" Touya asked, completely ignoring Genji's question and his own minor injuries. The giant turtle gave out a 'hmph' when he saw that the boy was completely entranced by the tree.

"I wouldn't get too close kid. That there is the Saigyou Ayakashi, the real significant landmark in this place aside from Yuyuko's mansion." Genji warned as he introduced the boy to the one truly evil-aligned thing in Gensokyo.

"The Monster of Saigyou? That's a scary name for a tree..." Touya pointed out as he continued to stare at the tree. It was strange for the boy. He could feel the faint but constant malevolence that came from the tree but he could feel something else as well.

"Hey kid, what do you think you're doing?" His flight instructor's words snapped him from his thoughts. The boy blinked and turned to Genji who had a mildly worried look for a turtle. He then turned back to what he was doing and saw that he was in the air and was floating toward the Saigyou Ayakashi with his right hand reaching out to it.

"What..." The boy muttered when he realized what he almost did.

"Touya-kun!" Youmu's voice was the only warning he got before he suddenly felt himself getting hauled backwards by his shirt. The sensation only ended after he felt his backside hit the ground.

"Huh? Youmu-nee? What are you doing here?" Touya asked when he turned and saw Youmu holding onto the back of his shirt with both of her hands. Youmu's ghost half was darting around a short distance above them almost as if it was panicking. Though, Touya dismissed that possibility since he could never even imagine that the Perfect Japanese Maiden that was Youmu Konpaku would ever do something like panicking. Said Perfect Japanese Maiden schooled her expression back to its usual composed form a moment before Touya turned to her. Had the boy turned around as soon as his name was called out, he would have been treated to the sight of one of his 'Big Sisters' in full blown panic mode. Youmu was about to scold the boy for what he nearly did but was interrupted when Yuyuko materialized by her side.

"Youmu was simply worried about you Touya-kun~" The ghost answered with a smile.

"Yuyuko-sama!" The half-ghost protested as she helped the boy to his feet. The words that the gardener and her mistress exchanged after that were lost to Touya because he was still bothered by something that he still felt from the tree.

"Kid. You okay?" Genji called out to him. Touya turned to the turtle and gave out a weak nod.

"Yes...I'm alright." The boy responded blandly. The response prompted a curious expression on the turtle but he just shrugged it off since there didn't seem to be anything really wrong with him.

"Okay then. All in all, you did pretty well for your first time. You look like you got scuffed up a bit but that should stop after some more practice through this so..."Genji trailed off when she saw that his charge was once again staring at the Saigyou Ayakashi.

"Touya-kun? I something the matter?" Yuyuko noticed the boy's apparent trance as well and asked if something was wrong.

"I don't know...I...when I see this tree, it...feels..." The boy answered before turning to Yuyuko with a distraught expression.

"It feels so sad..." The boy finished before looking down on the ground while shaking his head. Touya wasn't even sure why he said what he did...it did not make sense to the boy. He then yelped in surprise when Yuyuko suddenly wrapped her arms around him from behind and embraced him.

"It's alright if you don't understand it right now." Yuyuko said in a soothing voice.

"There is a story behind that tree and I promise that Youmu and I will tell you all about it as soon as you are ready to hear it, alright?" The ghost girl offered the boy. Touya looked from the cushion provided by Yuyuko's chest and saw her smiling at him.

"Okay..." The boy answered with a nod and Yuyuko gave him one more smile before turning to Genji.

"Since Touya-kun's lessons are finished for the day, how about some tea?" She offered with the same smile. The turtle considered her words for a few moments as he glanced at his charge. Seeing that Touya was no longer staring at the tree and was merely waiting for his answer, Genji gave a nod and a smile.

"It would be an honor." The old turtle responded.

"Wonderful! Let's all head back then. Please lead the way Youmu~" Yuyuko clapped her hands in joy before asking her gardener to lead them all back to the mansion.

"At once, Yuyuko-sama." Youmu said with a bow before floating up, giving one more measured glance at Touya, and leading everyone back to Yuyuko's mansion.

Touya was silent throughout the flight back. He still wasn't sure why he felt what he did when he was looking at the Saigyou Ayakashi. However, since both Yuyuko and Youmu deemed that he was not ready to hear the story of the giant tree then he decided to just follow their lead and shut up about it. Although, something bothered him about it even more after he got back to the Hakurei Shrine that evening. He never noticed it while he was still in Hakugyokurou, but after he thought about it for a bit it wouldn't stop bothering him. Something that he wouldn't get an answer to for several more years to come...

Why did Yuyuko give off the same kind of feeling as the Saigyou Ayakashi?

...

"Alright kid. You've been through a lot this past year and I commend you for your effort...despite the fact that I've had to drag you out of bed a few times just to get you awake." Genji addressed his student in front of the main building of the Hakurei Shrine. Touya nodded before yawning and giving his flight instructor a tired look.

"That's because you keep waking me up so early in the morning. Can't we start these lessons after breakfast?" The boy complained even though he has already endured that kind of schedule for months now. Genji merely sighed and shook his head. The boy was starting to develop a lazy streak that was looking eerily similar to her old master's, Reimu Hakurei.

"Too late for that kid. This will be your final lesson and your final test." Genji stated seriously. The fact that the turtle said that this was to be their final day as student and teacher immediately woke the boy up.

"W-w-what? You won't be teaching me anymore?" Touya asked worriedly. This was something the boy was starting to develop as well. Whenever he becomes close to someone, he always wanted to have the assurance that they will always be there with him or at least be in touch with him. The notion that he may lose someone close to him was something that scared the boy greatly. This little personality quirk would eventually lead to his outlook that everyone in Gensokyo is equally important to him and no one is more emotionally important to him than anyone else.

"Don't you dare get all sappy on me kid. It's not like I'll disappear or anything. I'll still be around, I just won't be teaching you anymore since there is nothing left to teach...provided you pass my final exam." The turtle clarified before giving the boy a smirk at the last part. Touya gave out a gulp at what Genji said before asking the inevitable question...

"So, what's the final exam?" He asked, both curious and a but frightened at what his flight instructor might have in store for him.

"A simple follow the leader kind of thing. Just follow me around and stay close until I say that we're done. Keep up and you pass." Genji explained, laying out the conditions for Touya's final exam under him. After the conditions were clarified between the two of them, the next few minutes were spent warming up for the flight and soon both of them were at the main entrance of the shrine grounds.

"Ready?" The turtle asked the boy beside him. Touya closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening his eyes and nodding at his flight instructor.

"Alright! Let's get dangerous!" Genji declared before shooting out of the shrine entrance with Touya close behind. The boy expected Genji to fly up to the sky for some crazy aerial maneuvers but the turtle had other ideas.

"Remember kid, stay close!" Genji reminded the boy as they flew low, nearly grazing the steps that lead up to the Hakurei shrine. They continued to fly close to the ground even after getting to the bottom of the steps. Touya nearly even crashed into the ground at the end of the steps but managed to save it at the last moment.

Genji led Touya through the woods surrounding the shrine, the boy expertly dodging tree trunks, branches, bushes, and the occasional fairy that tried to get in the way. The obstacle course of trees ended and gave way to the Misty Lake. The mist in said Misty Lake gets pretty bad in the afternoons, but in the early mornings, it's even worse.

"Try to see if you can keep up in this mist." Genji's voice echoed from some distance in front of Touya. The boy couldn't see anything but mist all around but the path that Genji took was much more visible due to mist parting in the wake of the turtle's flight path. Of course, the window of visibility available was extremely limited and Touya only had a few seconds before the clear path he was seeing was once again engulfed in mist.

Touya was still able to keep up just fine thanks to the fact that there weren't any real obstructions in the lake aside from the mist. All he had to do was tail Genji and he should be fine. That was idea until he noticed that Genji's flight path suddenly ascended higher. The boy followed and...

"Clock!" yelled out before he jinked hard left, the direction Genji used, to avoid slamming right into the face of the Scarlet Devil Mansion's clock tower. The boy was able to overcome the initial shock and continued pursuit.

"Not bad..." Genji admitted to himself as he continued to lead the boy a few more times around the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Touya managed to keep up through all of it and the turtle decided that it was time to move on. He performed a textbook barrel roll, which Touya copied with little trouble, before going low once more. Genji knew that Touya could keep up with him in the mist so he wasn't worried about the boy getting lost. The turtle flew out of the lake, in a direction away from Youkai mountain, and decided to have a flight through the Forest of Magic.

The pair continued to fly close to the ground in relative comfort until they entered the Forest of Magic. Now, when Touya complained that his flight training always started pretty early in the morning, the boy was not kidding. The forest at large was rather quiet at the time because most of the denizens of the forest were still asleep or were only just waking up...then two idiots decided to fly low through the forest with enough speed to create enough noise to wake everyone up. Rudely awakened, the fairies and other such denizens of the Forest of Magic reacted in the most reasonable way possible.

They all started shooting Danmaku at the offending individuals.

Genji had dealt with much worse during his active duty assisting Reimu in her early years as a full-time Hakurei Shrine Maiden, so the old coot merely took the whole thing in stride. After all, the Danmaku that was being thrown at him and Touya at the time was nothing compared to what Evil Eye Sigma or what Mugetsu and Gengetsu put him and Reimu through back in the day.

"Aaaahh! Please stop shooting!" Sadly, Touya did not have the experience that his instructor had. The boy's pleas fell on deaf ears as they continued to be pelted with various types of Danmaku. Touya had never actually gone through any real training when it came to dodging projectiles but, like flying, such a thing was already part of his bloodline. The instinct and intuition of the Hakurei clan was enough for the boy to get by without getting hurt despite the constant barrage. Both the turtle and the boy managed to clear the unfocused and uncoordinated assault after a several more seconds when Genji finally pulled up past the canopy and into the open skies.

"Finally!" Touya exclaimed in relief as he took a deep breath of fresh air, thankful that he wouldn't get shot at anymore and the air didn't smell like burnt magic.

"You okay kid?" Genji casually asked. Touya briefly noted that the turtle didn't have a scratch on him...he wasn't even scuffed at all. Of course, noting that his flight instructor was virtually unharmed by what they went through reminded the boy of the entire ordeal.

"Why did you do that!" The boy yelled out even as he started following Genji again. The turtle was going at a much more casual pace that before both so Touya can rest as well as to let Genji decide where to go next.

"All part of the test kid. If you can't even handle that then you won't last long once your mom actually gives you Danmaku lessons." Genji explained as he looked around for a good place to go next.

"Even so..." Touya trailed off. He knew that Danmaku battles were going to be something he will eventually have to learn but it didn't really change the fact that the experience scared him.

"Don't worry about it too much kid. Remember, just keep following me. That is the only thing that should be on your mind." Genji reminded his charge before he went into a steep dive after deciding their next course of action. Touya gave out an exasperated sigh before following the turtle.

"Pay attention and stay close. Last thing I need is you getting lost here, got it?" The turtle said before flying low once more with Touya right behind him. The boy gulped when he realized where they were going. He had heard stories about the Bamboo Forest of the Lost from his parents, his three Big Sisters, his Auntie Suika, and 'Miss' Yukari. Touya wasn't sure why the border youkai insisted to be addressed with a 'Miss', something about being nothing more than an eligible young woman of seventeen or other.

"Hii!" Touya squeaked as he started jinking left and right on a near constant basis in order to avoid hitting any of the bamboo in his way. He couldn't even follow Genji's flight path anymore because he was too busy dodging. All he could hope to do at that point was to keep track of the turtle and just keep up.

That trial proved much more challenging than the boy had originally anticipated. The bamboo were much more numerous than regular trees as well as being harder to individually see while flying at speed.

"Owowowowowow!" The boy repeated while rubbing his right shoulder after one bamboo plant came out of nowhere and hit him while he wasn't looking. He continued to struggle throughout the flight and the boy was just wishing at that point for Genji to grow tired of this place and move on somewhere else.

That was when the shooting started.

"Aaahh! Why?" Touya yelled out in complaint as he suddenly found himself dodging Danmaku fired by the random fairies that lived in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost. Much like in the Forest of Magic, the fairies that lived in that place were also startled by the sudden intrusion of Genji and Touya so early in the morning. The boy was scared out of his wits but still managed to avoid the worst of what the angry-angry fairies were throwing at him. That did not mean that he was unscathed though as he quickly sported new nicks, bruises, and singes on his clothes on top of what he already accumulated in the Forest of Magic. He was so focused on dodging and keeping up with Genji that he didn't even know or care which directions they were going. All he wanted was to be able to survive all that crazy and go home.

Once more, Genji seemed to arbitrarily decide to pull up just when Touya felt that he could take any more. The boy felt relieved and angered at the same time when he did so. Relieved at the fact that the current torture was already over and angered that the turtle didn't lead them out of the Bamboo Forest sooner.

"Still up for some more kid?" Genji asked as he looked back to his charge. Touya looked back with an expression that showed fear, anger, annoyance, and great weariness. An overall rather complex expression for a child to try to show so it simply crumbled into a teary-eyed and red-faced pout.

"Can I say 'no'?" The boy asked between sniffles.

"Of course you can..." The turtle responded with a nod. Touya's eyes betrayed surprise and hope at his instructor's words and was about to confirm it when...

"...but it's not like we'll stop even if you say so." The old turtle added with another turtle-shrug. Hope dashed, Touya adopted an expression akin to one whose soul had just drifted away from their body for one reason or another. Noticing the obviously visible distress on his charge's expression, Genji drifted closer to the boy before placing his right flipper on his head.

"Relax kid, we're almost done. I have one last place I want us to fly through and that'll be it. Stick with it a bit longer and you pass." Genji said as he rubbed the boy's hair with his flipper. It was a less than soothing gesture for Touya considering he was being petted by a large scaly flipper. The boy sniffled a few more times as he rubbed his eyes to get rid of the tears.

"Okay...I'm ready." Touya declared with a nod and one more sniffle.

"Alright, keep close kid." Genji reminded the boy as he turned from him before flying off. Touya gave out one last sniff before going after the turtle. The subsequent flight was much more peaceful and relaxing for the boy since they were high up in the clear skies without any obstacles or anyone shooting Danmaku at them. The two of them passed over the Misty Lake once more, the mist wasn't as bad at that time of day and one could even clearly see the Scarlet Devil Mansion now. Touya wasn't sure where Genji was leading him to until they finally went past the lake and continued on to a nearby mountain.

"First time seeing Youkai Mountain kid?" Genji asked the boy behind him as they drew nearer to said mountain.

"First time this close." The boy admitted as he looked up to try to see just how big the mountain really was.

"Well get ready because you're about to get a lot closer." Genji advised before rolling into a dive to once again fly down low near the face of the mountain. Touya took a deep breath before copying the roll his instructor did and descending.

Touya noted that the forest that covered the large moutain was not as dense as the last two forests that they flew through. Much to the boy's relief, that meant that there were much less obstructions in their way. However, despite Genji's assurance that this was the last place they needed to fly through for his final exam, he still felt the definite need to keep his head on a swivel in case the fairies that lived in the mountain decided to start shooting them. As with that old saying that his Youmu-nee told him once: 'If it happens twice, it will happen three times'. The old turtle seemed to either notice it or expected it since he turned his head back to his charge before addressing the boy's worry.

"If you're worried about getting shot at, then don't. It should already mid morning so we won't be disturbing anyone's sleep anymore. Relax kid, I chose Youkai Mountain as the last stop just so you can wind down while still getting some practice in." Genji explained before waiting for a response. Touya's expression became that of relief and exaltation to whatever a five-year old boy of the Hakurei Clan prays to.

"Remember to stay close kid. You're almost there." Genji reminded before speeding up a bit.

"Right!" Touya replied with far more enthusiasm than he had all day. The old turtle chucked at the sudden mood swing before deciding to finally wrap things up. As they flew, Touya couldn't help but notice just how peaceful the mountain was. Of course, wildlife and youkai are all over the place...it was called Youkai Mountain after all. However, the boy still felt that the entire mountain itself exuded the feeling of peace and contentment for some reason.

"You know about Youkai Mountain right kid?" Genji suddenly asked.

"It's a mountain full of youkai right? From the stories mom told me, they are supposed to be mostly Kappa and Tengu." Touya answered, recalling the old bedtime stories that his mother used to tell him about their realm.

"Good. It's also under the protection and is home to a pair of gods." Genji added. Touya blinked before realizing to a degree where the odd benevolence he barely kept feeling everywhere was coming from.

"Two gods? Are they married or related? I don't think that they're rival gods since the mountain doesn't look damaged from a fight..." Touya asked in clarification before speculating as to how more than one god can claim one place at the same time without conflict.

"Wrong on both guesses kid. They used to be rivals but they set aside their differences in favor of working together to mutual prosperity." The turtle's words made the boy even more curious about those gods. Former rival gods working together for the benefit of both?

"How does that work?" Touya asked in honest curiosity. From what he knew, native gods subsisted on the faith imparted to them by their worshipers. If two unrelated gods occupied the same place, then they would have to split the faith between them. Less faith meant that they would become weaker and might even run the risk of disappearing if they didn't have enough faith.

"Ask them yourself. The Moriya Shrine is our last stop after all." Genji provided and indeed Touya could make out a set of Torii Gates off in the distance. They were following a river upstream and Touya assumed that there would be a shrine somewhere near the top of the mountain.

...

"There you have it kid. Say hello to the Moriya Shrine." Genji declared after the two of them flew close enough to the shrine to make it out with the naked eye.

"The Moriya Shrine..." Touya repeated with a mutter. It looked like it was around as big as his family's shrine and it even resembled it as well. The only real visible difference was that the Hakurei Shrine was situated on top of a hill while the Moriya Shrine was located at the side of a mountain.

"De-wha?" The boy blurted out when he suddenly saw two very familiar figures standing around the shrine grounds.

"Heeey~! Touyaaa~! Genjiii~!" One of the two figures yelled out as she waved at them with her left hand while holding onto her gourd with her right hand.

"Auntie Suika! Big Sister Sakuya!" Touya exclaimed in genuine surprise, not really expecting both Suika and Sakuya to be at their final destination.

"Well done, Touya. Are you hurt?" The Maid of the Scarlet Devil asked the boy after he touched down at the Moriya Shrine. Genji opted to continue to float as to prevent anyone stepping or tripping on the old turtle.

"I'm fine! More importantly, what are you and Auntie Suika doing here?" The boy responded before he frowned when Sakuya walked up to him, pulled out a white handkerchief, and proceeded to wipe his face with it.

"Your mother asked Suika and eye to keep an eye out for you and Genji." Sakuya responded with a slightly bitter voice and an equally displeased expression. The boy wasn't sure why one of her Three Big Sisters seemed mad about something and he started blinking because of it. Suika noticed that and decided to answer it by giving out a bark of a laugh.

"Sakuya is just mad because she got kicked out of the kitchen after she arrived late." The Oni explained before taking a healthy swig of her sake gourd. Taking great offense to how Suika worded the reason for her apparent mood, Sakuya gave the Oni a narrowed glare before turning back to Touya.

"It was not my fault that I arrived here last. The Young Mistress insisted that we have out morning tea brewing lesson before I left." Sakuya explained as she continued to wipe the accumulated sweat and dirt that the boy had built up during the course of their morning flight.

The Perfect and Elegant Maid had been teaching one Flandre Scarlet how to make her and her sister's favorite blend of tea. The younger Scarlet sister initiated the request because of a seemingly innocent conversation between her and Sakuya about her work. A few days later and the one of the most potentially destructive denizens of the realm suddenly appeared in front of a shocked Remilia and Sakuya fully dressed in a standard maid uniform that the mansion's fairy maids use. After the Scarlet Devil finally recovered from the shock of seeing her sister in that state of dress, she immediately demanded to know how Flandre got the maid outfit and why she was wearing it. Flandre responded by quickly latching onto Sakuya for protection and declaring that she 'asked one of the maids nicely' for a spare uniform. When Remilia once again asked her sister 'why' she was even wearing such a thing, Flandre immediately looked up at Sakuya with sparkling eyes and declared wholeheartedly that she wanted to become a maid when she grew up.

Needless to say, Remilia was not particularly happy about it at the time.

"Wait, why did Big Sister Sakuya get kicked out of the kitchen for being late?" Touya asked the supposedly obvious question with a tilted head. Sakuya once more adopted a bitter expression before looking away and sighing.

"Too many cooks in the kitchen already..." The maid muttered with thinly veiled annoyance. Instead of clarifying the situation, Sakuya's words just made it worse for the boy to grasp the context of what was going on.

"Too many cooks?" Touya repeated the words in question form. Suika, who was simply enjoying the scene and was just taking occasional chugs from her gourd, was about to speak up when another person made themselves known. They all turned to the sounds of heavy footfalls and saw that they came from a relatively small girl that was around Touya's age. The boy was so focused on the girl that he didn't notice his parents, Youmu, Reisen, and several other people walking behind the girl.

Said girl was wearing a tiny white on blue shrine maiden outfit that was similar to what her mother wore but had different colors. She had long green hair that was tied up into twintails and had a frog symbol broach and a snake symbol choker. Said girl was also wearing a frown as she walked up and stood right in front of Touya. The boy was confused and a bit intimidated at the sudden appearance of a strange girl that looked like she was really upset.

"Ummm...can I-" The boy was cut off when the girl kicked him in the shin, making Touya collapse to the ground in pain.

"That is for ruining my breakfast and lunch!" The girl shouted at the boy in all her righteous fury. There was a whoop of approval from the distance along with the sound of Sakuya asking him if he was fine. He didn't really notice as only Genji's voice was the only thing he really comprehended.

"Happy Birthday kid." The old turtle stated with a chuckle and Touya wasn't really sure if he should be happy about it or not.

...
 

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