Topic: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - The Morning After (Deadline December 31st)  (Read 33758 times)

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Esifex

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Story Soundtracks
« Reply #60 on: August 08, 2012, 12:21:39 am »
...if I weren't so mixed up getting used to my new job I would've totally realized the deadline was approaching and gotten something proper hammered out.

WHOOOOPS

FinnKaenbyou

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Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Story Soundtracks (Results!)
« Reply #61 on: August 11, 2012, 05:45:57 pm »
Alright, the results are in, and they're unanimous.

Logos, making this a continuation of a previous story really hampered you here. Honestly having not read the previous story for a while, this entire piece was really difficult to understand. You also didn't seem to understand how the music prompts were meant to work - at one point you switch between three songs in the space of five lines. More than anything, it needs a bit of polishing to make it clearer.

In comparison Guy's story is much more coherent, and the music is used relatively effectively. Some plot issues - Rumia is difficult to root for because we have no reason to think she's in the right (especially when she starts murdering innocents), but given you took music from Nier I'm assuming that's what you were aiming for. :V

Congratulations, Guy. Enjoy your Wordsmith title.

Anyway! Next contest!



Challenge Topic: The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Now, before you come in at me with accusations of 'But Rou, we've already had a Job-Swap-Day contest', let me clarify that this is a bit different. This isn't a contest about characters imitating each other - it's a contest about you imitating another writer.

Consider it a toned down. lightened version of Ye Olde Story Swap. You can write any story or subject as long as it's Touhou-related, but the catch is that you have to write in the style of another author of your choice. It can either be another writer on the site, or a famous writer from out there in the big wide world (if you choose to do this, please offer a link to some sort of sample of their writing for the sake of judging). Stories will be marked on individual merit and on how well they imitate the target author.

Deadline: 12:00 BST, 25th August. Start plundering!

GuyYouMetOnline

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Story Soundtracks
« Reply #62 on: August 12, 2012, 01:53:45 am »
Holy shit, I finally won one. Yeah, there was only one other entry, which increases the chances, but still.

And yes, you're not necessarily supposed to support Rumia's actions. Most EX-Rumia portrayals I've seen portray her as unambiguously evil, usually with little or no explanation (most common reason: 'it's what she is', or variations on that). I don't like that, so I gave her a reason: the baseless hatred she's seen humans holding towards yuokai, and the constant actions they took against innocent youkai just for being youkai, built up until Kochiyo pushed her into acting. Doesn't excuse what she does, at least not in my opinion, but it does at least give her a reason for going over the edge.

So yes, it was deliberate. Although that isn't connected to me using music from NieR. I used Gods Bound By Rules because it's a f***ing awesome track.

LogosOfJ

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Story Soundtracks
« Reply #63 on: August 12, 2012, 03:12:05 am »
This prompt seems specifically designed for filtering out procrastinators... (THIS GUY!)

On a more serious (but no less self-absorbed note), what are some recommended mindsets for identifying and analyzing style? Though I can appreciate that different "small-scale" structures (sentence variety, rhythm and rhyme schemes, formatting) and "flavors" (word choice, emphasis, connotation) can add a great deal to stories, I have trouble distilling coherent styles out of works.

My main suspicion is that I will end up nominally imitating some writer with some habits similar to my own (verbosity, an aversion to dialogue, etc.) and end up with a result more similar to my previous works than the imitated writer. Therefore, I am asking about the conscious identification of style.

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LogosOfJ

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Story Soundtracks
« Reply #65 on: August 12, 2012, 04:32:52 am »
Quote
http://www.shrinemaiden.org/forum/index.php/topic,11100.msg871309.html#msg871309
Thanks, though I am not sure if this is what I asked for...

Minds: YGWYAF systems.

Amraphenson

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Story Soundtracks
« Reply #66 on: August 13, 2012, 06:14:23 am »
I rose from the haze of Gensokyo, shuddering, and glanced around in curiosity. Still within the border of reality and illusion, an unborn thing barely even a mile wide. It was silent. Completely silent. Save for myself, nothing moved. Bits of scenery, images of what could be, were all frozen in front of me like the shards of light in a child's kaleidoscope. Everything I had been forging up until that point had been at a blinding pace, testimony to my mastery over my power. There was only one possible explanation that everything was still now, that I had been taken from my work to address some other issue, right in the midst of my work.

"I see. You came." My voice came out a little weak, hours upon days upon weeks of misuse made apparent. Nothing a subtle manipulation wouldn't fix.

Footsteps, and the rolling of two slightly rusted wheels, sounded behind me, and the border grew hazier and hazier, as if viewed through a fogged glass. After a bit, it was too blurry to even see, and I closed my eyes merely to prevent an inevitable dizziness.

Then it cleared to an extent. I opened my eyes again and found myself in a different border entirely, standing on nothing and gazing at everything. My mind strained to categorize this place, this gap, and eventually came to an answer that caused shivers through every atom of my body and every shred of concept to my existance. There was nothing here but the border around me...

[BGM- Kid's Festival, Innocent Treasures]

...and a young man who did not look young at all, with black hair that was messily trimmed at the forefront of the brow. His eyes were a deep brown, hidden behind large glasses, and his dress was simple save for the moss green newsboy cap that rested upon his head; no man born had ever seemed quite so jovial as this person in front of me.

"You're used to me just messaging," he said. His voice was quiet, softspoken, but had the melodic step of one truly in tune with music. "I felt this was a suitable occasion for me to visit personally."

"Aren't you a little drunk to be bending the laws of time and space?" I whispered.

He laughed a little. It was a laugh that would've warmed the hearts of two warring countries and brought them together under the arms of whoever had voiced it. "I like what you did with it. Very you. I'm not a fan of the whole 'dream world' thing though, you may want to reconsider that."

I stared for a second and attempted to voice my thoughts, but they were as inscrutable to me at that time as they usually were to everyone else. He may have had a point. That was a bit of a tangent, probably a bad idea, and it was beginning to influence the rest of the composition. A reboot may be necessary...reuse some of the portions from the old, not all...I may just be making a big mistake with this all. I did everything to ensure I'd have the time to complete this, but in the process I may have damned a dear friend of mine.

I never wanted that for him. I...what had I done?

When I had spoken earlier, I wasn't joking. Not at all. This would be created, it would be there, and youkai everywhere would be safe...but this man in front of me, was he doomed in exchange? Had I forced myself to overlook the truth of the matter in a search for a 'greater good' that I had disillusioned myself with?

Normally, I would be safe in my self assurance, in the thought that my actions were all for a purpose greater than most could conceive.

I guess I'm not perfect.

The man facing me waited with the patience of a saint, apparently giving me my berth and time.

ZUN. How was he here? He had put the majority of his power against the rules of the world in order to hold it back, something even I could not do as a 'one with the power to the extent of manipulating borders.' Not many know of my power, less know of its limits, nigh none know of this man, and there was no one save for the two people within this very border that knew his limitations. I, at least, thought I knew his limitations. While I was the enigmatic man behind the curtain, he was the narrator. The creator. The janitor behind everything that kept things in check. He was not a 'man with the power to the extent of creating fantasies'. He was simply a 'man who creates fantasies.'

He was the quietest of all the big names, and in my mind that meant most dangerous. It was to my great fortune that he was allied to me.

We'd taken notice of each other eons ago, and in during one of my weakest moments he saved me. Empowered me. I'd done favors for him since, and he would occasionally send a slurred message or a case of beer. I was captivated with him, yet immensely annoyed, but I feared no one but him. He...was absolute. His power was beyond even mine. If I were to manipulate the 'border between myself and him', my mind would break from the simple task of perceiving it. Standing here, weakened as he was, I felt immensely mortal. I had always thought those who stood against the Rules would be crushed without mercy; to think this man had done so and maintained some form of existance, in addition to a portion of power, was astounding.

We were all right to be afraid of him.

"You...how?" I whispered again, extending a hand but fearful of actually touching him. "How did you...?"

"I had a dream."

I eyed him, not comprehending, and spoke with a fraction more volume. "What? I don't...I don't even..."

ZUN bowed his head an inch, just enough to hide his eyes and throw a glint into his glasses, and laughed. "I only ever had one power, Yukari. This was just another application."

I frown and shook my head. "I don't get it."

"Really now? I thought you did. Your project wouldn't be where it was unless you did."

For a moment, I stared. Then I placed my face into both palms and groaned. "Always. Always like this. With half-drunken rambles and cryptic riddles, even by my standards! Are you always like this? Is there a Rule in place that requires you to be so insufferable?"

"Maybe one or two. Possibly several more." He was very much amused. "I only wanted to see you one last time Yukari. That's all."

"Why? Why this then? Why not use that last breath to...I don't know, ensure some sort of reincarnation? Clearly, if you expended as much energy as I think you did to intrude upon a octuple-layered bounded field and create a personal avatar upon it, you could have done something...anything...but this..."

"I told you," ZUN said. "I just wanted to see my friend."

"...I didn't think you'd live. I didn't even believe you'd succeed, that it was even possible for someone to openly defy the Rules like that. Sure, I could bend them, even enough to the point where I could do this," I said back, gesturing to the beginnings of the realm I was creating. "But to give me time to do so...I never thought you'd win out, let alone survive it." My voice betrayed my disbelief, shaking as it was in the emptiness of the border, for at some point I had raised my voice beyond the ghost of a whisper I was using before. My tears betrayed my joy, flowing as they were into the fabric of his shirt, for at some point I had closed the distance and embraced him.

He laughed again, and I shivered as I felt him fade away. "I had a fantasy during that blinding moment, when it was just me versus the entirety of Reality itself...goodbye Yukari. Protect what we have sacrificed so much for. I'll be watching."

And then he was gone, as abruptly as he had appeared, and I was left crying into nothing with a half-made border still floating in front of me.

Maybe I was hallucinating. The haze of this border was still lingering, but I thought I saw something. A wisp of energy float away and out of sight.

I stared, gobsmacked and disbelieving, like I always was when faced with that insufferable man, and then I smiled cleanly and simply, without any enigmatic airs or hidden facets.

"Goodbye ZUN."

----
A creation of Gensokyo fic, in the style of Jim Butcher.
Sugoiiii~
[23:02] <~Iced> You have sown the seeds of your own destruction Amra.
[23:20] <Stuffman> enjoy your personally crafted hell Amra

Esifex

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - The Sincerest Form Of Flattery
« Reply #67 on: August 24, 2012, 03:13:17 am »
Orin skidded to a halt after finally finding her mistress. "Lady Satori! Okuu broke a pipe with her concrete boot thingy and now the basement is flooded! What're we supposed to do with all that water?"
Just then, Koishi dropped her subconcious cloak and brandished a series of tasteful swimsuits, with a gleam in her eye. "Isn't it obvious?"

Brought to you by the Rou Style, Flowing Tides school.  :derp:

ilu rou

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - The Sincerest Form Of Flattery
« Reply #68 on: August 25, 2012, 05:18:03 pm »
BOOP

That was me pressing the deadline button.

Wait warmly, etc.

FinnKaenbyou

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Right, so after a thorough and rigorous judging process we have decided that Esi's entry is sadly lacking in dolphin cameos. Sorry, Esi. :<

On that note, congrats, Amra! You have reminded me that one of these days I have to sit down with the Dresden Files. >_<

Right, so that challenge might have been a bit rough and complex, so hopefully this is a little easier:



Challenge Topic: Antithesis

Tired of Youmu being so simple-minded? Want to see Patchouli get outside for a change? Do you wish Shou could just hold onto her goddamn pagoda?

Well, fret no more! In this challenge, your job is to write a character as their direct opposite. Whether that means flipping their personality (Cirno the genius) or warping their morals (Nitori murdering humans) is your call, as long as it's clear you're flipping the character around somehow.

You can play this for laughs, or try to build a serious story around how this change happened and how people attempt to resolve it. Either way, most entertaining story wins.

Deadline is 12:00 BST, 9th September. !krow ot teG

Esifex

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Right, so after a thorough and rigorous judging process we have decided that Esi's entry is sadly lacking in dolphin cameos. Sorry, Esi. :<

AND I WAS SO SURE I WAS GONNA GET IT THIS TIME, DAMMIT

This prompt looks like fun, despite the absolutely terrifying picture.

Raikaria

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - The Sincerest Form Of Flattery
« Reply #71 on: August 26, 2012, 08:52:33 pm »
This sounds like one where I can take part in again :V

I gotta decide who to use first. And the Genre. A humorous story of a fairy being smart? A heartwarming tale of a kind Yuuka? Mind-bending Reisen rampages?

Of course what I'm gonna do won't be any of these.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 08:59:56 pm by Raikaria »


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Those two facts sum me up pretty well.

LogosOfJ

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #72 on: August 27, 2012, 06:56:31 am »
Edit as of 09/09/2012 20:35 BST: Added everything beyond "Of all law..."
Next time, I should ask if the deadline is noon or midnight.

What??? But.. But... There's still 8 minutes left on the pacific seaboard![s/]
Deadline: 12:00 BST, 25th August
Oops
(Technically, this might fit for the antithesis contest as well. Fanon was not quite clear about the star of this piece, but most gods associated with purification are considered at least neutral.)
Imitated: Lovecraft (idea drawn from this short: Nyarlathotep
Ending is also an Orwell quote reference

Ha. Ha.. Ha...

I am the last, and so I must speak... Yet how can I speak? How shall I make audible... How shall I bind that brilliance?

The beginning eludes me, as it shall elude many others; the disturbances began many months ago, but the speed at which they spread suggests an influence, buried, vast and ancient as the ocean, that, like the tides, appears to us only at times of relative strength. The spiritually-inclined such as myself were the first amoung humans to notice, though the ill-temper of Youkai foreshadowed our unrest an entire month advance. The fey and various other specimins of spirits showed hightened sensitivity to slights, both from the village and amoung themselves, and were more inclined to fighting, despite a general legarthy that characterized all other behaviors.

Travelling monks and exorcists driven by faith rather than the crass promise of coin were the first to note this fell trend. Some  close friends amoung them chose to travel together more often, as to ward off the apprehension of bodily harm, huddling close as if before a blast of winter. Sectarian debate became more frequent and heated, instigated by the more sensitive. Friendships, first across faiths and then between schools, became strained and then crumbled amidst multiplying suspicions and small cruelties. Those of the native faiths held that the earth itself whimpered with fear; though I did not agree with such characterization of the land, I accepted without question the sentiment. I personally half-suspected, half-wished that the unease was no more than an affliction amoung holy persons, one that would leave the hardy souls of the  common folk relatively unmolested.

Alas, my wishes went unrealized. I first noticed changes in the marketplace near my place of residence. Merchants of all walks of life agreed to a strict curfew, barring their doors at sunset. The once-lively square was muted, as buyers and sellers declined to haggle. A nervous, rather than ravenous, energy seemed to pervade all transactions. The air was thick with a sense of impending revelation, as if the magnitude of the incoming horror was great enough to demand that the world itself herald its arrival.

It was at that time of potential tumult and trepidation that that god arrived; at that time, no-one guessed its nature. We took its form, a priestess in the prime of its youth, to be but a mouthpiece. It travelled with ease at the head of an ever-growing entourage, stopping by every place of residence, from market to hermitage, first to preach, then to offer up spectacles that increased its fame even further.

The feats of this god involved copious amounts of paper and water. The first was conjured in vast quantities before and after demonstrations; the second was either painstakingly carried from nearby pumps in cups of paper or demanded from captive audiences. Both religion and deity spoke much of the nature of stories and divinity, but not once did the god speak of its own history or of its own place in the heavens. Men, from beggars to statesmen, advised each other to witness this god, and no-one who watched came out unchanged. Youths with more zeal than wisdom chose to throw themselves at the feet of this god of radiance regardless of their previous convictions; older persons would offer fealty in less obvious matters. Small shrines sprung up overnight, each dedicated in a way that honored no named god. White robes became more common outside of funerals. Less and less commerece occured during the night; persons treated daytime with the wariness shown to jealous lovers, as if afraid of angering the sun through undue enjoyment of the night sky.

A month after the introduction of this god, it had enough of a following to send heralds across this land. They were singular in many senses of the word; discrete and disinclined to company. Brilliant in mind and spirit, they were like stars to the sun of their god, and they similarly traversed the land umpreturbed by weather, assault, or terrain. Like their god, they spoke of stories and their structures and powers. However, the rest of their words and actions varied wildy; the only common theme was a largely succesful push to discredit current gods. A friend related to me how one demonstrated the construction of a device that predicted rain through variations in the weight of the air; after some insinuations, the herald convinced the villagers to test the power of a local rain god. A good number of villagers soon renounced this diety after witnessing its inability to prevent dry seasons. An acquaintance in a richer area reported to me how another such herald challenged a god of lightning: in the middle of a stormy autumn, the herald built a shed on a holy mountain. The god insisted that the herald leave. The herald refused, and outfitted the house with a pattern of iron on the next day. The god summoned a storm that lasted for three days and three nights, striking a total of 30 times, yet the herald emerged on the fourth day, hungry but otherwise no worse for wear.

My order was visited by a strange herald: a young girl in tattered clothes who carried a large, purple gourd and walked without fear in unhallowed places. She arrived unannounced, demanding to see our god. When told that our god was by definition uncontactable and ineffable, she laughed with menacing glee and asserted that our centuries of servitude were built on a mistake born either in the ravings of madmen or ancient rites of subjugation. She spoke of how she did not believe in gods, of how she instead elected to observe and acknowledge instead. One acolyte then declared his undying belief in the supreme power of our god, and all the acolytes as well as a smattering of priests loudly agreed. She then challenged them to jump off of a nearby sheer cliff as proof of that belief; no-one agreed. She left as suddenly as she came, declaring that her god would come later to force our acknowledgement before leaping off of the cliff and walking away.

We passed our days in a haze after that; it seemed as if it was just the next morning when that god, that horrible, inconcevibaly vast radiance, Hakurei arrived. It did not need to announce itself; we were compelled to wait for it. For us stubborn priests of the old faiths, it prepared for us a demonstration of great brilliance, that made our eyes water in but moments. Having noticed glints of metal and shuffling followers, I had the prescence of mind to denouce the light as a trick of mirrors, whereupon Hakurei dimmed, revealing a glowing woman in ceremonial garb, a vessel at odds with its deep laughter. We screamed that we were not afraid, but were driven out all the same by an apprehension of looming danger, with some even choosing the cliff over the indeterminate doom so clearly promised by that smiling visage.

I ran for what seemed to be an eternity, until the ground beneath me cracked like a dry riverbed. The entirety of the once-bustling farmland was parched, and a reddish sun of abnormal size dominated the sky. The monastery's mountain was still present, but I could not locate any of the complex's towers. I walked further until I was forced to my knees by a combination of exhaustion and some overwhelming force. My upturned face could only stare at the sun, that odd light that seared my eyes through my eyelids. I waited and waited for night, but the light did not wane throughout my attempts at meditation and then fitful sleep that lasted long enough for my fingernails to grow to three times the widths of my smallest finger. It was in that half-awake, heat-struck delirium that I was once again forced to behold that god, surrounded by those silent mirror-bearers, who looked towards it with reverence even as it regularly sundered mirror and holder with equal indifference, and cheered when it plucked the morning star (and evening star, for the two were one and the same) from the sky and ate it. Only then did I realize the full horror of Hakurei and its promised land. Plants and chattel would not survive, for they could not adore it; those that thought themselves free of it would not survive, as the god was the only possible source of sustenance; not even its heralds would survive; as they were too brilliant themselves, too close to peers to remain undevoured.

The only survivors would be those mirror bearers, those dull, insubstantial beings that only existed to allow Hakurei to bask in its own glory, those wretches to whom even the meanest power is infinitely beyond reach. And in the center of this benighted corpus Hakurei shall lie, forever smiling that faint smile, speaking of the story of its creation:

Of all law, only I shall remain.


Yukari Yakumo was vaguely discomforted, as she was for most of her life. As usual, the neccessity of her current name irked her, like a badly-made shoe. The additional unease was due to her most recent discovery.

The preserved letter was the chance fruit of a mountain walk; sheer chance delivered to her the confirmation of suspicions far darker than her most pessimistic estimates. For one, there were at least two surviving gods, one native and one invasive, that could elude, no, defy description, even by direct witnesses. Simply by existing, undescribable and unnameable objects distort the essential basis of most magic and ritual. Of many other dangers, these gods can enfoce oaths but cannot be bound by any form of contract against their will. Moreover, news of the old intruder, Hakurei was particularly worrying in its implied ability to spontaneously redirect or create reverance. She recalled the various crusades and purges, noting Hakurei's aptitude at producing murderous zeal, and shuddered.

Shudder was all that she did, though. The risk of total anihilation hung over all Youkai since the other ineffable god, now the God of Gensokyo, first declared the name of this land, and claimed power over its Borders. A being as weak as Yakumo, who must, like a human, scrape out a living through the exploitation of any lapse in the general stinginess of nature, cannot yet do anything.

Unlike her peers, Yukari was not one with nature; in that regard, even fairies were held in higher favor; they could at least fill their stomachs with the rich soil, while mightier beings dined on increasingly dangerous wildlife and the occasional human. The strongest of all made no distinction and snapped up all of the above easily.

Yukari ate human food, used human bookkeeping, and was outclassed by notable humans in spiritual power.

Her studies (with human magicians) progressed at an unsatisfactory rate; she could not wait to become mighty, as every day of weakness was inevitably a day lost. She slept only enough to function, and crammed her morning hours with the treatises of every school of sorcery accesible to those of human-like power. Afternoons were more of the same, with the occasional break, that was inevitably directed towards attempting to master her one power.

Yukari remembered, vaguely, her birth, that place populated by eyes and hands and maws, that emptiness that somehow was substantial enough to push her, to extrude her into the world, from a crack in a wooden post that appeared normal to all later investigation. When she was young, only 10 or so years, Yukari entertained the notion of being able to command that space, to use it to devour and terrify others. Now, in her second decade, she realizes the overreach of her fantasy; her power so far is only over small openings in physical matter, and an imprecice power at that, one easily overridden by the spiritual might of even acolytes of more powerful gods.

What Yukari enjoyed, however, was experimentation. She would find some phenomena and record its interactions, hypothesize, and test. Light behaved interestingly with apetures of proper dimensions, and various ailments and injuries can be induced through judicious opening and closing of gaps. On a less practical note, she enjoyed testing constructions, from trusses to odd mechanisms. Experimentation gave Yukari a faint sense of control, as well as a small but real increase in the ability to control her environment, that malestrom of gods and demons and peoples and nagure that threatened to swallow her.

Her love of observation grew to include a love of quantification, of measurement and calculation. Yet she hated herself for her growing need for them, as she did not need them to know that she did not have the time to wait, that every moment wondering was a moment not spent avoiding anihilation.

Still, she continued her hobby, and, on some indeterminate day, it proved invaluable.
Then again.

Then again.

And, from that day on, there was never enough time in a day. There were so many more things to do, so many new avenues to uncover, some of which will lead to power.

And thus Yukari labored in her days of weakness.

She was fortunate that her discovery did not come later.



Rumia, the Guarding Dark, wished to again spread her gifts among humanity, but was hesitant, as her influence, despite the best intentions of giver and recipient, tended to produce either tyrants or madmen. She decided first to spread her power amoungst her wards, so that none were made more or less mighty than another by her fiat. She then invited them to stand proudly and aspire at her side, not realizing that she had planted the seeds of her doom.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2012, 06:38:12 pm by LogosOfJ »

Raikaria

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #73 on: August 27, 2012, 11:27:15 am »
"Say, Kyouko, can you check up on the graveyard? The visitors haven't mentioned the karakasa attempting to surprise them recently." Byakuren asks the Yamabiko, who, as always, happily does as the temple head says.

Unsurprisingly, the karakasa is still in the graveyard. However, instead of her usual cheerful greeting and attempt to surprise Kyouko, as she does everyone, the karakasa just floats there, depressed.

"Is something wrong Kogasa?" the Yamabiko asks. While most of the inhabitants of the Myouren Temple simply put up with Kogasa's presence, Kyouko sees her as a friend, as they both greet people loudly and heartily, albeit, with different purposes.

"I've given up surprising people." the umbrella mumbles.

"What?"

"Every time I try and surprise someone it doesn't work out. Worse still, I get beaten up usually." Kogasa says sadly.

"So... you're just gonna give up?" Kyouko asks.

"Yes. What's the point if no-one is ever surprised and it only gets me beat up? It's got to the point that the mikos beat me up for asking for help."

Kogasa starts to float off, leaving Kyouko both worried and, ironically, surprised, having never seen Kogasa like this. The yamabiko decides to follow the karakasa, although staying out of her vision, and staying quiet.

She follows the karakasa out of the graveyard, as she starts to float towards the Scarlet Devil Mansion and the Misty Lake, a place she often flies about to surprise fairies and the sleeping gatekeeper. The simple minded fairies fly around the depressed umbrella, but are surprised when she doesn't react at all to them urging her to play. After all, when a fairy swarm do this, usually they end up being blasted, or the victim plays with them to shut them up.

Kyouko notices this, but doesn't say anything.

Kogasa keeps floating onwards, seemingly without a particular aim, heading towards the human village. Oftentimes she would follow a visitor to the temple home to surprise them, only to fail and be beaten up by Keine. However, she just flies right over, and, when Keine sees her and flies up after her, she stops, noticing Kogasa is making no attempt to enter the village as usual.

"That's surprising." Keine murmurers as Kyouko flies past.

The Yamabiko notices this, and decides maybe she can use this to help her friend, using her reflection of sound to send Keine's voice to Kogasa. Usually, on the rare occasion Kogasa hears these words, she reacts gleefully. This time, she just floats onwards, slowly and sadly, no reaction at all, except muttering "Don't pity me.".

Music can be heard, and Kyouko recalls the source. The melodies of the Primsriver Sisters, who can manipulate emotion with their music. Kyouko flies towards the source of the sound, and, as expected, sees the Sisters practicing.

"My friend is depressed and flying without aim. Can you do anything to pick up her spirits?" Kyouko asks.

The three sisters look at each other, before Lunasa replies: "None of us three can make feelings of happiness or euphoria specifically. We can trick her into feeling happy with Lyrica's Illusionary notes, or Merlin's maniac notes can risk it. I'd just make her sadder."

"Well, do you know what is in that direction? You three are probably the most well-traveled in Gensokyo." Kyouko asks the three poltergeists.

"In that direction is the Sanzu River, or, at least, Gensokyo's part of it. There is little but death there." Lunasa says.

"Well, we have to try then." Kyouko says, paniced. While she is not sure if a karakasa could actually die, being essentially an immaterial object, she didn't want to find out.

The sisters look at each other and nod, with Merlin and Lyrica taking the lead with their music, and Lunasa sitting back, knowing she would make things worse if she was involved. Kyouko uses her power to ensure the sound reaches the drifting karakasa, but she does not react. If anything, her pace towards the Sanzu River picks up.

"Well, you tried, thanks for that." Kyouko says, before bowing to the three sisters and flying off, ahead of Kogasa, and onwards until she reaches the riverbank.

There is little but a few flowers at the shore of the Sanzu, however, there are two other things. A boat, and, near it, a red-haired woman asleep.

"Wake up! You have to help! My friend is coming here and she's depressed and this place apparently has little but death and I don't want her to die!" Kyouko shouts, panicking.

The sleeping woman wakes up, opening one eye.

"You come here not to seek death, but to help someone?" she asks. "You are aware that you are talking to a Shinigami? Are you sure your friend is not coming to commit suicide? Depressed souls are often attracted here, if they know it or not, to die."

"She's just depressed because she is a karakasa that cannot surprise people." Kyouko says, getting more worried by the second.

"That sounds like a suicide, but being a karakasa... ah, who cares." the Shinigami says.

At this point the karakasa drifts by. The Shinigami looks at her with both eyes.

"Ah, it is not her time. I guess fate has brought her here for another purpose. However, be it her time or not, if she continues and attempts to cross the river she will certainly die."

"Well, you gotta help me then!" Kyouko says, before calling Kogasa over.

"Kogasa, have you ever seen this person before?"

"No...." the karakasa says.

"Well, then she can't take pity on you like you said Keine did. Go on, try and... you know what." Kyouko says, pleading to her freind.

"Boo." she says.

The Shinigami does not react.

"See. No-one is surprised by me. Now she's probably gonna beat me up too." Kogasa says, looking on the verge of tears.

This gets the redhead to react.

"Wait, people beat you up for trying to surprise them? That in itself is surprising! How could people be so cruel to beat up a cute karakasa that wants to play?"

"Yeah... they're mean." Kogasa says, before sniffing, "Wait... you're surprised?"

"Who wouldn't be about that cruelty?"

"Sadists. Shrine Maidens. Witches." Kogasa says.

"Shrine Maidens?! Now that is surprising, ain't they supposed to be kind? You know what, I'll tell my boss about this. Yep. She'll be surprised too, I can bet, surprised enough to pay them a visit." the shinigami says.

"You mean it? She'll really be surprised?" Kogasa says, looking a little happier.

"Oh yes. And the meanies will be susprised to see my boss too. They'll be even more surprised when they hear her mention you too. Think about how much surprise your actions will have given them!"

"You ain't lying... are you?" the karakasa asks, with puppy-dog eyes.

"If I was lyin' my boss would be here now lecturing me about lyin'."

"See Kogasa, you can surprise people! Keine wasn't taking pity on you either. That swarm of fairies were surprised too!" Kyouko says.

"I... can surprise people?" Kogasa asks.

"Yeah... even if you didn't mean to do so this time, you surprised a lot of people!"

Kogasa smiles again. "I wanna go home now... do you know the way? Those old people will wanna visit the graves and I can hide behind them and jump out and go BOO!"

---

Make the happy cheerful Kogasa that's  always attempting to surprise people but failing a depressed umbrella that's given up, but ironically surprising people by not surprising them. I think that counts as an antithesis, even if the story focuses more on Kyouko attempting to help her.


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Esifex

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #74 on: August 28, 2012, 02:51:42 am »
Awwww, poor Kogasa ;-;

danbo warning, be wary of nsfw ads

Although I like how you used her friendship with Kyouko, that was the cutest part.

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #75 on: August 29, 2012, 09:06:58 pm »
Awwww, poor Kogasa ;-;

danbo warning, be wary of nsfw ads

Although I like how you used her friendship with Kyouko, that was the cutest part.

I have never seen that before because I do not frequent Danbooru unless I'm specifically looking for a specific art to use for something because NSFW.

Still, yeah, it's painful to think of Kogasa sad. You know, because she's such a cheerful moe-blob and so innocent in her aim, but always fails but keeps tying anyway.


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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #76 on: August 29, 2012, 11:54:54 pm »
"Listen up!  The world is a wicked place full of sin!  And this is no more true than in our very own Gensokyo!  Crime is running rampant in the streets!  Purses are being snatched!  Houses are being burned for the insurance money!  Children are reading comic books off the stands without purchasing them!  This is truly a dark age!”  This sermon was coming from an older woman with purple hair that gradually turned to brown.  Her name was Byakuren looked up from the front of the church to an almost empty room.  There was an overly enthusiastic clapping coming from this weird pink cloud.  His name was Unzan and he was in the front pew.  Byakuren glared at the ceiling and it started to crack.

"WAAAAAHHH!" there was a crash as the ceiling caved in and three figures were sitting in the rubble.

"What the crap is wrong with you Byakuren!"  One of the figures stood up dusting herself off.  She was a tall girl with a lotus flower in her hair.  Not that she had to draw attention to her hair as it was bright orange with black stripes.  Her name was Shou.

"The climax was a little earlier than I expected, you can go now," The other girl was in a bed with a sheet pulled up around her.  Her hair was blue, but otherwise normal.  Her name was Ichirin. She patted this other guy on the ass as she shooed him out of the bed.

"Is that our Mailman?  I've been waiting on this month's Playb--Ahem!  I mean Scientific Magazine!"  Byakuren said with a stern face.

"Whatever you say," Shou said and grabbed a candy bar from the rubble and took a seat in one of the pews.

"This is the goddamned house of the Lord and that kind of language will not be tolerated.  Now tell me when the mailman came!" Byakuren said, bending over and glaring at Ichirin.

"You know, about two thirty like every day and then again about five minutes ago," she stood up.

"Put some goddamn clothes on!  Not everyone wants to see that!"  She picked up Unzan and threw him at her.

"I don't think so!" Ichirin pounded Unzan really hard on the head throwing him to the floor.

"Get a good look?" Shou said to Byakuren and tossed a candy wrapper in a growing pile beside her.

"Shut up Shou!  Now listen up!  The world is a wicked--"

"Skip that part," Ichirin said throwing on a hoodie.

"Yea we don't give a crap," Shou said with a large bowl of ice cream in her lap.

Byakuren was about to say something, but Unzan was struck by lightning and let out a pitiful wheeze and coughed up a piece of paper.

"Well, well, it looks like you two have mission!" Byakuren smirked and grabbed the piece of paper.  "Winter is coming."

"Ooh, was that the name of our mailman?" Ichirin asked.

"Goddamnit this is one of those internet meh mehs!"  She looked around.  "I've been on the internet you know."

"I bet you have," Shou smirked, "And it's pronounced 'meem.'"

"Is that so?  I did not know that," Byakuren stroked her chin and nodded.

"Can we go now?" Ichirin asked and started heading for the exit.

"I'm good here," Shou said with a dessert cart being wheeled in.

"What in creation's name is that?" Byakuren yelled at Shou.

"It's obviously a dessert cart," Shou said, "You can just leave it here."

"THIS IS A HOUSE OF THE LORD!"  Byakuren yelled at the top of her lungs.  "AND THEY DO NOT HAVE DESSERT CARTS!"  She picked up the dessert cart and threw it at the exit, blocking Ichirin's path.

"HEY!" they both yelled.  Byakuren took a deep breath.

"Now ladies, and I use that term because as a woman of the Lord I can't used words like skank and fatass, you were put under me for one reason and one reason only.  And it may come as a shock to both of you that is wasn't to eat you weight in sweets or lay as many man as possible.  You were put here to hunt youkai!"

"Hey, if being under you will get you off my back let's go," Ichirin said.

"You didn't hear a goddamn thing I said," her eyes norrowed, "let me simplify it for you.  Get your skank fatasses out there and hunt some goddamn youkai!" she yelled and booted the two out of the chruch.

"That's not how I was expecting my ass to take a pounding from her," Ichirin said rubbing her butt.  She looked over at Shou who was already up and headed into the city.  "Hey were are you going?  You're not actaually going to hunt youkai are you?"

"Hell no, I'm heading to that restraunt with chocolate fountain," Shou said without turning around.  Ichirin ran up to her.

"Hey is that the one with the cute waiter I slept with?" she asked.

"Probably, you might want to be more specific.  That only narrows it down to every restraunt we've been to."

"Well what are we waiting for, let's hurry it up."

* * *

Shou was setting by herself at the table with a large cup of hot cocoa in front of her.  Ichirin came up with a disapointed look on her face.

"So, how was your dessert?" Shou smirked.

"Aweful, his face was alright, but his body left a lot to be desired.  Why are they all wearing such large coats!" Ichirin yelled at the sky.  One of the waitresses heard this and ran up to her.

"We're sorry miss but there's something wrong with the AC," she bowed to them.

"As long as I have all the hot cocoa I can drink I don't give a crap how cold it is," she took the last sip of her drink and handed to the cup the waitress.

"Umm..." she started.

"What?" Shou's eyes narrowed.

"We hate to inform you but the cold air is getting stronger, the chocolate fountain is frozen over!" she exclaimed and bowed again.

"Tonight, hell freezes over!"  Someone said from the kitchen.  It was followed by screams and people running in the opposite direction.

"It's a fairy," or some varient they were screaming.  Sure enough a small fairy in a blue dress walked out.

"Allow me to break the ice. My name is Cirno. Learn it well. For it's the chilling sound of your doom."

"Hey you!  Did you make it this cold?" Ichirin asked the fairy.

"Yes! If I must suffer. Humanity will suffer with me! I shall repay them for sentencing me to a life without human comfort. I will blanket the city in endless winter! First, Gensokyo. And then!  The world!

"Hey, give me back the chocolate fountain!" Shou yelled.

"And the hunky men in shorts!" Ichirin yelled.

"That's not the problem here," the waitress said.

"Perfect freeze!" suddenly the waitress was incased in ice.

"Are fairies youkai?" Ichirin asked.

"Hm," Shou looked at the frozen waitress.  "I don't think so, but we might score some browning points with Byakuren if we defeat this one though."

"Oh wicked spirit born of a lost soul in limbo;
Receive judgment from the garb of the Holy Virgin;"

Ichirin took off her hoodie and it turned into a metal ring.

"Cleansed of worldly impurities;
Return to Heaven and Earth."

Shou took off her lotus flower and it turned into a spear.

“Repent!"

"Your bones will turn to ice! Your blood will freeze in my hands!" Cirno yelled and lunged at them.

"Ugh, Ichirin, you're not wearing a shirt again," Shou sighed and jabbed Cirno with her spear and threw her against the far wall.

"Don't be jealous.  You could look like this too if you stopped stuffing your face for two seconds," she grinned and threw the ring at Cirno who starting to get up.

“Ladies should be more elegant,” she said and jammed the spear into Cirno.

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."  PI-CHUUUUUUUUN  Cirno exploded into little pieces.

ALL CLEAR
Stage x1000 = 1000
Power x100 = 6900
Graze x10 = 0

Player = 20000
Bomb = 500000

Easy Rank x0.5
Total = 263950

"She was only worth two-hundred and fifty thousand points!  What a rip-off!" Ichirin yelled while putting her shirt back on.

"Fairies aren't youkai it seems," Shou said.  "At least it's warming up a little bit."  She looked around, it warmed up a little bit, but the chocolate was still frozen.  "Oh well, let's go."  She sighed and walked out the door.

* * *

“The waitress is fine by the way.  When she thawed she just had a cold and had to stay in bed a couple of days.  She was fired for missing work.  But that’s just the kind of world we live in.  No one is going to cut you some slack in a fairy comes in and freezes you and you catch a cold.  And it’s just as well, the new waitress they hired is cuter.  At the rate at which they hired her, they were probably looking for any excuse to fire someone.  The job market is rough out there and are you two even paying attention?”  Byakuren looked out into the pews.  “Shou, I told you houses of the Lord don’t have dessert carts!  And Ichirin you CAN NOT do that in here!  And I don’t mean because this is a house of the lord.  That is illegal in this state!  I have half a mind to report you to the cops!”

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #77 on: September 09, 2012, 11:02:14 am »
IT'S OVER!

keep cool, man. we be judgin'.

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #78 on: September 19, 2012, 05:46:01 pm »
Sorry for the delay in judging. Lots of people were busy so I needed some time to get a group together.

Anywho, we've looked through everything. Phlegeth, your entry seemed rather stream-of-consciousness, but it didn't really have the drama to it. It felt random and non-sequitur, and it was hard to make out the antithesis in the title.

The judges have compared Raikaria's story to a picture book, and it hits the topic a little cleaner than Phlegeth's does. Unfortunately it loses a little fluency as a result and it came across as a little disjointed.

Which leaves us with our winner, LogosOfJ. A few strange typos and a strange ending aside, this was easily the best written piece of the three. A great emulation of Lovecraft's style, an insightful drawing of how a cult is built and grown, and a scary outlook on what Reimu could be if she wanted it. Enjoy your Wordsmith title when Sakana comes back from Japan to give it to you. :V

Anyway, you've probably noticed a bit of a decrease in the number of entrants lately, so I'm thinking now's a good time to take a break for a month or two. Give authors time to recuperate and work on their own stuff rather than asking for new stuff every fortnight. Hopefully I'll still be able to run this amidst 3rd year uni work, but we'll have to wait and see. >.<

Raikaria

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #79 on: September 19, 2012, 06:48:20 pm »
Eh, I didn't expect to win anyway, I just felt it an interesting topic and an interesting way to go about it.

Still, I think everyone did well.


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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #80 on: August 08, 2013, 02:18:07 pm »
Shame, I came back here to reignite my writer's spirit, I feel like just freestyling with a couple of one-shots like this contest rather than my storylines.

So is this still alive or gone already?
Haunted by my thoughts, writing frees me from lingering fears.

(Intersecting lives)
Really? Your a cat now?
(I am Chen nyow!)

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Antithesis
« Reply #81 on: August 21, 2013, 02:56:07 pm »
Shame, I came back here to reignite my writer's spirit, I feel like just freestyling with a couple of one-shots like this contest rather than my storylines.

So is this still alive or gone already?
That is mighty kind of you, but the thing is, the WWC is a rather significant time investment for me and Sakana and whatever other judges we have available. Coming up with a new concept, writing the prompt, then reading every single fic that gets thrown at us, then evaluating the relative merits of each one... We're busy people IRL, and a time sink like that is hard work to maintain. Add to that, the same people joining in every single WWC, week in and week out, and you get what we've got now.

If someone was willing to take over that work, I know I at least would be glad to see the WWC continue. (Even though at the end it was less of a Weekly Writing Challenge than it was a Bi-Weekly Writing Challenge.) But for my part, I can't see myself revitalizing this challenge-- at least, not in its present form. If I were to bring it back (can't speak for Sakana), it'd be in the style of Fuck Yeah Character Development's prompts (left column, bottom row), or something along those lines. As it stands, those prompts are definitely worth a look-see if you want to try your hand at one-shots. In fact, I wouldn't be against randomly selecting one of those and posting it here to have random people respond to the prompt, though the judging would either be absent or completely up to you.

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #82 on: September 23, 2013, 11:18:33 pm »
So to give you an idea on how messed up I am right now, I was wondering if the NaNoWriMo thing had died off because I hadn't seen any comments on it on IRC or in the forums.  It was only ten minutes ago that I realized that's because there's a month called October in between September and November.  But I'm not going to let that stop me.

Anyway!  As others have heard in depth before, I'm not a real fan of NaNoWriMo.  While teaching people how to keep writing is a good thing, it's my belief that the second obstacle to writing isn't number of words, but in finishing a work.  While you need to start writing, at some point you also need to stop, edit, and publish the story.  And that's something a lot of fanfic writers are really really terrible at.  Even I'm hardly blameless here.

Thus:

MotK September/October Short Weeks!

Yeah not the same ring.  I know I know....

Anyway, the contest!  Your mission : submit a complete short story before October 6th!  No theme, no nothing!

Except

1 - Your entry must be less then 3000 words.  Not a single word more.
2 - Your entry must be a stand alone story.  Not a chapter or intro to another story.

And in the interests of brevity I shall stop here.  Good luck!
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #83 on: September 25, 2013, 03:05:47 pm »
While teaching people how to keep writing is a good thing, it's my belief that the second obstacle to writing isn't number of words, but in finishing a work.  While you need to start writing, at some point you also need to stop, edit, and publish the story.  And that's something a lot of fanfic writers are really really terrible at.
THESE ARE ALL LIES AND COMPLETELY UNTRUE ABOUT MYSELF

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #84 on: October 01, 2013, 02:37:14 am »
Just a reminder that you slackers have only a week left.

 :colbert:

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #85 on: October 01, 2013, 11:30:55 am »
[slaps fanfic down on the table and runs away at full speed] 2,923 words goodbye



The Human Village: a small oasis for non-youkai, non-ghost, and otherwise mundane citizens of Gensokyo.  A modest population of 573 sustains and protects itself in the valley grasslands, not without the help of a few harvest goddesses.  They live a modest lifestyle, and the dangers of the youkai that live beyond the fertile fields are no less ordinary the crops yielded at the end of the growing season.  Fall has come, and the good harvest was unprecedented.  The young Hieda no Akyuu, aged 19 years old, wrote invitations to the native gods of the land inviting them to a feast: “It is because of your good fortune that we will not fear going hungry in the winter.”

Yet, in this idyllic setting, something was lurking in the shadows...perhaps literally.

In the woods outside of town, a kappa sat on the riverbank, digging a stick into the soft earth.  Her rubber boots lay next to her as she dangled her feet in the river.  She thought the sensation of rushing water would be enough to sooth her, but it didn’t get rid of the lump in her throat or the butterflies in her stomach.

Kawashiro Nitori tapped the stick against the ground a few times and then tossed it into the river.  She hiked her backpack up and stepped away from the river with her mouth set in a thin line.

“I’m gonna do it,” she whispered.  “Today’s the day I do it.”

She pulled on her boots and stomped off into the underbrush.  It was a blustery day, but because the trees were such good windbreakers, Nitori was able to make her trek through the forest without incident.  When at last she emerged into the open, she found herself on the threshold of a great plain.  It was marked with the clear signs of human activity: tilled fields, and a town that would only take a few minutes to reach.  Nitori could have flown all the way if she wanted, but since humans traditionally walked everywhere, that’s what she was going to do.

She had hoped that her trek through the fields would go undisturbed, but there were still a few humans out, collecting the last of the harvest.  Nitori ducked behind bushels of wheat and made long dashes across the ground while peoples’ backs were turned.  A cow mooed at her and nearly made her jump out of her skin.  By the time she was at the village’s outskirts, she was out of breath and trembling.

“What a day for my optic camouflage to not be working,” she gasped.

Summing up her courage, she crept out from behind the barrel she was hiding behind, and stepped onto the village’s main road.  At once, all sorts of sounds, smells, and sights descended upon her senses and took her breath away.

The Harvest Festival was in full swing.  The streets were lined with stalls, selling fresh produce, wheat, and other goods.  Tents had been propped up to guard against the wind, the taunt canvas flapping in the autumn air.  And, oh, Nitori had not seen so many humans in one place in so long.  They created a cacophony of idle chatter that made the kappa’s ears ring.  She stood, dumbfounded, as people move around her.

Nitori, slowly feeling invigorated, ventured further into the town.  No matter where she went, there was someone selling something.  Women in yukata sat on benches under a tree, laughing and eating sweets.  Children were scooping for goldfish.  Music was playing somewhere in the distance.

“Hey, kappa.”

The voice of the red-white stopped Nitori cold.  She slowly turned around to see Gensokyo’s favorite shrine maiden, bundled up in a scarf and tapping her gohei against her shoulder.  Nitori noted with vague amusement that her other hand was holding a roasted sweet potato.

“Yeah?”  Nitori gripped the straps of her backpack.  She would have straightened up, but with her backpack being as big as it was, there was no way around her characteristic slouch.

“I saw you come in here.  Don’t even think about doing any funny business, you hear?”  Reimu shook her gohei at Nitori.  “I won’t hold back just because it’s the Harvest Festival.”

“Yeeees maaaa’aaaam,” Nitori said, exaggerating her words in mock submission.
 
Reimu glared at her.  “I’m being serious, here.”

Nitori watched and waited as Reimu walked off.  When the girl was far away enough, Nitori stuck out her tongue.

“Is she gone?”

Nitori nearly bit her tongue when she flinched in surprise.  A girl was leaning out from an alley a little ways behind the kappa, twiddling a pair of scissors in her left hand.  Another pair was in the pocket of her apron, which she was wearing over a long-sleeved blouse and skirt.

“Kamibayashi!  Don’t do that!” Nitori gasped.  The other youkai stepped out into the open and watched Reimu’s retreating figure.

“Isn’t her hair just so gorgeous and long?” Kamibayashi asked with a sigh.  “I really want to cut it.”

“I think she’d kill you,” Nitori said.  “Don’t tell me you got in here without her noticing, because if you did—“

Kamibayashi cut her off with a wave of her scissor-wielding hand.  Nitori stepped back.  “No, no.  She sees everything.  If she hadn’t, I would have cut her hair off by now.”

“And THEN you wouldn’t be talking to me,” Nitori added.  “Let’s split before someone overhears us talking about this.”

Kamibayashi looked left and right.  “Yeah, good idea.”

The two youkai joined arms and took off down the street.  They didn’t stop until they had reached the center of the village, where they were now climbing over the fence of the empty schoolyard.  Some of the village’s children had made it in their minds to count the playground equipment as a festival attraction, and decorated it with lanterns.  Nitori and Kamibayashi, if not for their unorthodox clothing, would have blended right in.

Kamibayashi plopped down on an empty swing.  “Hey, do you have anything you wanted to do here?”

Nitori, from where she was kneeling in the sandbox, shook her head. 

“No.  I just think humans are interesting,” she said a little too loudly.  A few kids nearby gave her a look, and she flushed.  “But, the Aki sisters are here, so I might as well say ‘hi’, right?”

That last part was made up on the spot.  It was true that the Aki sisters were here, just as they attended every Harvest Festival, but Nitori only knew them because they lived near the mountain.  She wasn’t close and personal with either of them.  Kamibayashi snipped at the air with her scissors as she swung back and forth.

“Oh, that’s nice,” was all she had to say.

“So what are you doing here?” Nitori asked, looking at Kamibayashi.

Kamibayashi returned the scissors to her apron.  “I’m glad you asked.  I need your help, actually.”

Nitori pointed to herself with her eyebrows raised.  “Me?”

“I’m looking for Misaki,” said Kamibayashi.  At the sight of Nitori’s confused expression, she explained further.  “You don’t know her?  She’s a three-tailed kitsune who’s also from the mountain.  According to my sources—“

“What sources?”

“Will you let me finished?  Anyway, my sources said she’s in the village right now.”

Kamibayashi glanced back at the children to make sure none of them were in hearing range.  Nitori put her chin on her knees and puffed out her cheeks.

“Why do you need to find her, anyway?”

Kamibayashi dug her heels into the ground, stopping herself on the swing.  “I need to ruin a wedding.”

“…Huh?”  Nitori stared with her jaw agape.

“It’s becaAAAHH!”

Nitori squawked and curled into a defensive position as a silver-haired woman appeared out of nowhere and headbutted Kamibayashi.  She fell off the swing and onto the ground, where she lay with her eyes spinning.

“You’re all trespassing!” Kamishirasawa Keine announced to the playground.  The human kids squealed and ran for the fence.  Nitori, too afraid to move, relied on her backpack for cover.

“And you two,” Keine said, looking back and forth at the youkai girls, “I don’t remember giving you permission to be here.”

Nitori peeked out from under her backpack.  “The red-white only said not to cause any ‘funny business’.”

“Well, it sounded like you were plotting something,” Keine said.

“W-we’re not!” Nitori insisted.

Kamibayashi, at that moment, was picking herself up from the ground.  Her scissors had fallen out of her apron and there was a sizeable lump on her forehead.

“Oh, geez…”  Kamibayashi groaned.  “Sensei?  Someone just attacked us.”

“That was her!” Nitori exclaimed, jolting upright.

“Anyway, you need to leave,” Keine said.  Nitori and Kamibayashi picked themselves up off the ground and hastened themselves away, as fast as they could while they were in shock or injured.

Just as they were reaching the exit, Kamibayashi turned around and called out to Keine.

“Is anyone getting married soon?!”

Keine gave her a suspicious, steady look.  Nitori kept walking, glancing back over her shoulder every few seconds.  Keine was smart and quick to draw conclusions, and Kamibayashi was not being discreet at all.  She probably knew what kind of youkai Kamibayashi was, and if she did…

“...Yes.  Yukida,” Keine said, and that was all she said.  Kamibayashi grinned and practically skipped the rest of the way out of the schoolyard.  Nitori followed close behind, now worried about the look on the schoolteacher’s face.

Kamibayashi, on the other hand, looked as giddy as an Oni did after Setsubun was over.  Once they had reentered the village crowds, she split off from Nitori to approach a stall vendor, a tall woman with long, white hair.

Nitori lingered in the background, watching the youkai cheerfully and recklessly asking for directions.  It seemed that, even in a village where humans outnumbered the two of them, it was okay to throw caution to the wind as long as the red-white wasn’t around.

She sniffed.  It was silly to be worried about the red-white like that.  Sure, she was the most dangerous person Nitori knew, but for all it was worth, she just looked like an ordinary teenage girl.  Surely she’d understand the poetry of why some loves could never be…and some such.

Among the whiffs of candied apples and charcoal in the air, Nitori smelled something that only a youkai could smell, and that was the scent of someone like her.

Nitori perked up and looked left and right.  What kind of youkai was so bad at disguising themselves?  And then it hit her: whoever it was didn’t need to be cautious with that sort of thing, because the number of youkai who frequented the Human Village could be counted on one hand.

Mustering up all the stealth she had, she inched over to Kamibayashi and poked her shoulder.

“There’s someone here,” she whispered.  Kamibayashi, who had just finished speaking to the vendor, raised her eyebrows.

“You mean…?”

“Yup.”

The two once again rushed off, following the strange aura.  Their search was not long, because within minutes, Kamibayashi had dragged Nitori behind a tree with her.  Nitori opened her mouth to protest, but a pair of scissors held up to her mouth like a shushing finger silenced her.

She followed Kamibayashi’s pointing finger to a couple walking along the street.  The man was young, with unevenly-cut hair and a confident-glint in his eyes.  He strode hand-in-hand with a young woman.  Her hair was long and thick, tied off at the end with a simple ribbon.  Her face was oval-shaped and thin, and her lips curved up in a smile.  Nitori was at once entranced.

The crowd around them screamed.  Kamibayashi had darted out from behind a tree towards the couple, a pair of scissors in each hand.  The man threw his arm out in front of the woman, but was met with Kamibayashi’s elbow digging into his side.  He fell to the ground as the woman stood frozen; her delicate features were alight with horror.

However, it was too late for her to run.  Kamibayashi was already behind her and slicing away her hair.  Once the last strand had been disconnected, she ran back to Nitori with the hair in her hands, crowing in triumph.

This whole scene took about seven seconds to play out.

Nitori stared, in complete awe at what had just happened.  The man was sitting on the ground in shock.  Disconcerted murmurs rippled through the crowd, and dozens of eyes trained themselves on Kamibayashi, who twined the hair between her fingers.

The woman stood in the center of it all, staring at the strands of left in her hands.  Her hair was now to her shoulders.

“You…”  Her hands trembled.  She glared at Kamibayashi.  “What have you done?!”

Kamibayashi’s smile fell.  “You’re making a mistake, Misaki.  These kinds of marriages never work out.”

“Hey, wait a second!”  Everyone turned to see the man standing up, rubbing his side.  “What’s going on?  ‘These kinds of marriages’?”

That must have been Yukida, Nitori concluded.  The woman looked at him, panic-striken.

“Hold on, now, you don’t mean…” came a voice from the crowd.

“You know what kind of youkai that thing is, right?”  This question was indicating Kamibayashi, who was acting like she didn’t hear them.

The woman’s large brown eyes filled with tears, and at once she began to change.  Her previously black hair became white-blonde, and a pair of tall fox ears popped on her head.  Three sleek, white-tipped tails appeared behind her.

Nitori thought Yukida’s eyes were going to explode out of his head.

“Huh?  What the hell?!” he half-shouted to no one in particular.  The tears in Misaki’s eyes overflowed and spilled down her cheeks.

“Kiri, you idiot!  I hate you!” she sobbed.  She pushed past the crowd, covering her face and remaining dignity with one arm as she fled the scene.  The humans gave her wide berth, and a few even screamed again.  A little to Nitori’s disappointment, Yukida didn’t give chase.

Kiri threw her arms in the air.  “We did it!  Nitori, we—“

“Ahem.”

The only sounds that came from the crowd now were a few sighs of relief, but that was the last emotion Nitori experienced when a hand clamped down on her shoulder.  She dared look behind her and saw—of course—the red-white.  With her other hand she tapped her gohei against her shoulder and shot a nasty look at Kamibayashi, who stopped celebrating to hold the severed hair and scissors in her arms protectively.

“What the hell did I just tell you guys?” Reimu said.  As she spoke, the stall vendor Kamibayashi was speaking to earlier jogged onto the premises and started dispersing the crowd with mutters of “nothing to see here folks” and “move along now, Hakurei at work”.

Kamibayashi gulped.  “Um.  We were just…”

“We were preventing a marriage between a youkai and a human!” Nitori blurted out.  Nitori to the rescue.

Reimu let go of the kappa’s shoulder and folded her arms.  “All I see you two doing is terrorizing the villagers!”

“I-it’s true!  She ran off just now, but there was a kitsune here,” Kamibayashi chimed in.  “We were helping them.”

Reimu made a “tch” sound.  “You’re a kami-kiri youkai, right?”

Kamibayashi nodded.  Reimu returned the nod with a stern look.

“Okay.  If I ever see you in the village again, I’m gonna exterminate you,” Reimu said, waving her gohei at them.  “Both of you.”

“You don’t even live in the village, how are you going to catch us?” Nitori asked.

It was an innocent question, but in hindsight, it was a very stupid thing for Nitori to say.  Ten minutes and a faceful of danmaku later, Nitori and Kamibayashi were sitting on a hay bale on the outskirts of the village.  As Kamibayashi cooed sadly at her scorched scissors, Nitori rubbed an ofuda stuck on her hand and fumed in a quiet sort of way.

She thought about how much she was looking forward to today, and how she should be angry at Kamibayashi.  After all, if it wasn’t for her, she wouldn’t have been kicked out.  But then Nitori thought about the expression Misaki had when she was yelling at them, and felt a little sad herself.

“Sorry about this,” Kamibayashi said, out of the blue.

“About what?” Nitori asked, although she knew.

“For messing up your night.”

“Oh, that?”  Nitori leaned back on the hay bale.  “You really did.  I was gonna have a great time and check out all the stalls but then I got caught up in this big mess.”

Kamibayashi let out a long sigh and slid to the ground, where she looked up at the night sky.  The lights of the Human Village were not enough to silence the stars.

“How do you feel?”

“…Kinda bad,” Kamibayashi said.  “But mostly about Misaki.  I thought we were friends.”

Nitori snorted.  “You’re the one who cut off her hair.”

“But she said she hated me.”

A moment of silence followed, but Nitori didn’t think it was awkward.

After the moment had passed, Nitori said, “She was probably just mad, and scared that she was surrounded by all those humans.  I think I understand how she feels.”

“You really think so?”

“Yeah.  Tonight was pretty awful, but she’ll feel better.”

Kamibayashi gave Nitori a small, sad smile.

“Thanks man.”

She stood up and took off across the fields.  Nitori watched her leave.  Once she was out of sight, she laid back on the hay bale and decided to watch the sky for a little while longer.

☆My Tumblr☆
[21:12] <OneLoveOnePurvis> *Black as hell and bitter as love. That is coffee.*
[17:42] <Amra> Himiko's one of the people that's really cute but sometimes art shifts into like hard jojo-style
[17:42] <Amra> as she does something out of character
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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #86 on: October 02, 2013, 01:20:13 am »
I'm not going to lie, I was getting pretty scared as the word count for this story climbed up and up in the bottom left of my screen...

2,999 words!



Autumn’s Elegy



Shizuha walked sullenly down some lonely dirt path.  She didn’t know where it started, or where it was going, but she was far from caring about such things.

Autumn was well underway.  The air still held a lingering warmth, but the temperature had begun its slow descent, and in a few weeks it would be unquestionably cold.  The leaves had almost finished turning, and the few people in Gensokyo that lived off the land were eagerly awaiting the fruits of their last year’s worth of labor in the coming harvest.

Unfortunately, not everyone could get excited about the most colourful of seasons, and this was a truth that, today especially, was weighing heavily on Shizuha’s shoulders.

Looking up at the clear sky overhead, Shizuha heaved a sigh as she slowly continued down the path to nowhere.  Normally, this would be the time of greatest excitement for her – even if Autumn made up a quarter of the year, that didn’t necessarily mean she was working for a quarter of the year.  After all, for someone like her, it took almost no time at all to finish painting the leaves.  She did what she could to drag the work out, but it still ended far too quickly for her tastes.

After that, all she had to do was make the leaves fall.  To take all the careful work she had done, the masterpiece of nature she had created, and scatter it across the ground so that any random person could trample over it with their dirty feet.

While she didn’t particularly like that part of her job, it wasn’t what had her down.  She had long ago accepted the fact that this was the way things were, and complaining about it would do nothing but cause trouble for her, for her sister, and most of all for the people who relied on her to do her job.

And that is where her bad mood was coming from.

She was a goddess.  A manifestation of the faith of the common person.  They needed Autumn, and she was there to satisfy that need.  They relied on her, and her greatest joy in life was fulfilling her role as a goddess of Autumn.  This is what she had believed her entire life, yet recently, she had had that belief called into question.

”What? There are two goddesses of Autumn? What for?”

“One to bring the season, one to bring the harvest, right?”

“Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the Autumn leaves, but wouldn’t it be great if there was only one goddess?  The harvest is fantastic, but in all honesty I could do without the rest of it.”

“Hey, that’s a pretty disrespectful thing to say.  I’m sure they both work very hard.”

“But it’s true, isn’t it?”

“Being true doesn’t stop it from being disrespectful.”


“Wouldn’t it be great…” Shizuha whispered to herself, “…if there was only one goddess?”

In truth, they were nobodies.  Just two random men from the human village, chatting idly.  They had no influence, no power, and of course no relation to her.  Yet, these were the people she worked for.  Every year, she poured her heart into her work for the sake of these people.

Yet…they didn’t even want her to be there.

They may have been nobodies, but that didn’t mean they were the only ones who thought that way.  Even she was starting to think that way.

After all, what did she do?  She painted leaves and made them fall.  Sure, it looked nice for a while, but then it just got in everyone’s way.  A giant mess that covered all of Gensokyo, and the one who caused the whole thing was the one person who didn’t help to clean any of it up.

Wouldn’t it be better…if that never happened?

Wouldn’t everyone be happier…if she just didn’t exist?

Deep down, she knew pursuing thoughts like this was pointless.  The best she would be able to accomplish is to make herself unhappy.  She had a job to do, and regardless of what anyone thought, she had to do it.  But the fact she had been working so hard trying to make people happy, and then found out that people would rather she didn’t exist…it was difficult to get it out of her head.

And so she found herself, once again, envying her little sister.  Minoriko Aki, symbol of Abundance and Wealth, goddess of the harvest.  Every year, she was invited to the human village to bless their crops and join in on the festivities, and there wasn’t a soul alive that disliked her.  Not only did the people consider her necessary, she was necessary – she was the one responsible for putting food on the table for all of those living in Gensokyo.  And her blessings weren’t even limited to Autumn – while she only needed to literally go and bless the harvest then, the food that grew would feed the people who harvested it all year long. 

She was necessary, she was loved.  And no one ever wished she was gone.

Shizuha laughed derisively at herself.  Compared to her sister, who was she? Shizuha Aki, Symbol of Loneliness and Death.  She painted the Autumn leaves, then caused trouble for everybody by scattering them all over the ground.  And here she was, walking alone on some nameless path, hated by everybody – just like her title.

Of course, it wasn’t like she held it against her sister.  And surely, she had hardships of her own.  But there was one difference between them that, no matter what excuses she made, could never be reconciled.

The people loved Minoriko.  And the people wished that Shizuha didn’t exist.

Shizuha suddenly stumbled.  Having spent so long staring at the sky, it was a wonder she hadn’t done so earlier, to be honest.   Barely managing to catch herself, she turned around to find the cause, and her eyes quickly fell upon a recently overturned rock in the path.  It was barely larger than her fist, but it had been stuck in the ground fairly solidly, making her trip as her foot ran into it.

Calmly, Shizuha walked up beside the rock.  Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and attempted to calm herself.  All of this self-deriding thinking was driving her mood into darker and darker territory.  Even something small, like tripping over a rock, frustrated her so much that she felt like she might come to tears.

With a war cry-like shout, Shizuha kicked the upturned rock with all her might.  The pathetic stone stood no chance, and was instantly sent flying dozens of feet into the distance.

Shizuha looked up triumphantly to see how far the rock had gone, but found her search quickly impeded.  The rock, after departing from the narrow path that was its home, flew deep into row upon row of sunflowers.  With no small amount of surprise, Shizuha finally decided to find out where she was.

Apparently, without realizing it, she had walked all the way to the Garden of the Sun.  She wasn’t inside it, but the path she was walking on ran across its border, and even from where she was she could easily make out the countless rows of sunflowers growing off into the distance.  Though the rock was instantly obscured from view, it had just as quickly vanished from her thoughts.

Was it envy? Hate? Frustration? Something inside Shizuha started welling up.  The small amount of frustration she had managed to relieve with her moment of violence against the stone was quickly overwhelmed by a much greater feeling, something dark and spiteful, that she couldn’t quite put a name to.

As she walked, worrying about her place in life, worrying about whether her contribution was worthwhile, worrying constantly over the conversation she overheard saying everyone would be better off without her…as these thoughts swirled around in her heart, of all the places to end up, she found herself at the Garden of the Sun.

The Garden of the Sun, a field of countless sunflowers.  The one place in Gensokyo that was free from the cycle of seasons that gripped the rest of the world.  No matter what day, what time, or what weather, these sunflowers bravely stood facing the sun.  They feared nothing of Winter’s fatal snow, nor did they care of Spring’s promise of new life.  Summer, the territory reserved for them, passed by meaninglessly for them.  No matter what the season, still these sunflowers grew, earning this place the name it rightfully deserved.

Of course, the same went for Autumn.  As if in defiance of the circle of life itself, these flowers stretched ever upwards during the time set aside for all plants to wither and die.

As Shizuha was contemplating the value of her existence, she managed to end up in the one place that proved she was completely unnecessary.

See? Without your Autumn, see what beauty we can achieve?  Without your curse, see how happy we are – and how happy the people who come here are?

Wouldn’t it be better if you just didn’t exist?

Deep down, she knew the only one saying these things was her.  She knew that it was all in her head, that these sunflowers didn’t even know she existed, that the whole situation was just random chance.  But all of it happening at once was just too much, and in seconds, she snapped.

Slowly, she approached the edge of the sunflower field.  Her face more blank than impassive, she stopped five steps away, her dark feelings from earlier rapidly turning to quiet fury.

She was a goddess.  What kind of insolence did it take for mere flowers to mock her?  She slowly began gathering her power about her. Enough to kill a single plant, to drop the leaves of an entire tree, to lay waste to a small patch of land…upwards and upwards her power grew.

She would show everyone in Gensokyo that no one – no one – was safe from the passing seasons.  As silly as she knew it sounded, she would prove herself to be superior to the Garden of the Sun.  And she wouldn’t rest until every single flower here withered and died.  These flowers would taste divine punishment.

Feeling herself brimming with the same power that made her hated, she raised her arm and pointed at the offending sunflowers.  She was beyond caring how much it would take to destroy this place – if she couldn’t do it all at once, she had no problems doing it over and over.  No matter what it took, she would teach all of Gensokyo what it meant to scorn the Goddess of Turning Leaves.

Just as she was about to release her power upon the field of sunflowers…she saw a rustling in the plants.  She paused for a brief moment, and in that time, a woman stepped out from among the sunflowers.

“My, my, what do we have here?”  The stranger spoke with a gentle smile, a parasol resting on her shoulder shading her face.  Her red eyes and green hair showed that she was most definitely a youkai of some sort, but other than that, Shizuha knew nothing about her.

Her train of thought broken by the appearance of the stranger, she dropped her arm and released the power she had built up.  Her anger and rage that had been overflowing just moments before vanished in a heartbeat, replaced by a depressed listlessness. She couldn’t help but laugh at herself, having her resolve blown away completely by such a simple distraction.  Giving the stranger a tired glance, Shizuha made to leave.

It was silly of her to take her anger out on these flowers. They were just flowers, after all.  The only thing she could accomplish by killing them is to make the people who enjoyed them unhappy.  And if there was one thing she didn’t need, it was for people to dislike her for even more reasons.

“And what would a goddess of Autumn be doing here, in the one place in Gensokyo Autumn doesn’t reach, I wonder?” The stranger spoke gently.

“Oh, nothing,” Shizuha responded sarcastically with a bitter smile, “Just looking for ways to make even more people hate me.”

The stranger frowned.  “That is an…odd hobby, to say the least.  But more than that, what makes you think people hate you in the first place?  Gods and goddess’ of the seasons are typically fairly popular, especially among the humans.”

“Yeah, that would be my sister you’re thinking of,” she replied bitterly, “all I do is make people upset.  I play around painting leaves for a while before killing them and causing trouble for people.  I’m…” Shizuha choked slightly as she spoke, “…just useless…”

Her confession was followed by an awkward silence.  Realizing what she had said – and to a complete stranger, no less – she quickly turned to her with an apologetic smile.

“Sorry, that was…kind of weird of me.  I’m having a bit of a bad day, don’t pay any mind to me.”  Even if that was how she actually felt, there was no reason for her to bother this stranger, who had likely just come to enjoy some flowers, with her personal problems.

The stranger replied, her face looking somewhat amused.  “Well, it’s your problem if you feel that way, but please…” her face changed expressions, and Shizuha couldn’t quite tell what thoughts were stirring beneath it. “…don’t underestimate the power of the turning leaves.”

Shizuha blinked in surprise.  Underestimate? “What do you mean?  What possible power could there be in a bunch of leaves changing colour?”  Though still pessimistic, she couldn’t help but feel somewhat intrigued by this stranger’s opinion. Nor could she help but feeling a little strange trying to argue that her job was pointless while a stranger tried to argue the opposite.

The stranger closed her eyes and thought for a moment, twirling the parasol on her shoulder.  “Every year, every Spring, all sorts of plants begin to grow.  After the long winter, they push their way out of the ground, determined to become beautiful flowers.  Every Summer, they reach the apex of their beauty, shining vibrantly, showing themselves off to the world.  Every Winter, harsh colds and heavy snows wipe away every last vestige of their existence.  Everything ends, until the next Spring, when a new generation of plants take their place.”

“But between Summer and Winter, there’s an important step missing.  What purpose, in this whole cycle, does Autumn serve?  Is it just a time of suffering for the natural world, leading up to Winter?”

The stranger paused to look at Shizuha’s expression.  Shizuha, who was frowning and looking at the ground in front of her feet, seemed to be struggling to answer the question that had been asked.

“Not only does Autumn serve a purpose,” the stranger continued, “it could be considered the most important link in the cycle.  For it is Autumn that warns of the coming Winter, it is the turning of the leaves that signal that the end is near.”

“As the temperature begins to fall, as the leaves begin to turn, as the weaker plants begin to wither, the rest of nature sees this happen and takes action.  When the bell of Autumn rings, the plants that know they can’t survive the coming cold begin to drop their seeds.  They begin to prepare for the next Spring, and knowing that they will not see it themselves, do everything in their power to ensure their children do.”

“The trees see their own leaves turn, and know that it is time to sleep.  They rest for the winter, knowing that if they were to try and stay awake, they would surely freeze to death.  Yes, without the warning that is Autumn, the plants would die, the trees would freeze, and the entire natural world would be driven to extinction…in not but a single year.”

Shizuha’s eyes were wide with shock.  She had never even considered what it would mean to have lost Autumn, and here, her first time contemplating it, she was being told directly how losing Autumn would mean global extinction.  The difference between her expectations and the apparent reality were so large, she was having trouble coming to terms with it.

“The harvest is all well and good,” the stranger spoke over her shoulder as she turned, “but don’t forget that even that wouldn’t happen if the leaves never turned.”  With that, the stranger disappeared into the flowers with a small wave of her hand, leaving Shizuha alone.

She must have been exaggerating.  This thought pervaded her mind as she tried to grasp what the stranger had said to her.  Surely, the cycle of nature wasn’t so fragile that something like the leaves forgetting to change colours would destroy the whole thing.  And yet, the more she thought, whether it was logical or not, the more what she had said made sense.

And that meant…maybe, just maybe…that she was necessary.

That even her sister would be lost without her.

That the people of Gensokyo needed her to do her job more than anyone else.

That she wasn’t useless.

The last line echoed through her mind over and over, slowly melting away the coldness in her heart.  Once again, she mocked her own childishness, that a single person’s words could sway her mood so easily, but as she turned to continue her walk along the path, she still couldn’t help but give, finally, a genuine smile.

Even if the people of the human village didn’t like her, they needed her more than they could ever realize.  And that meant that she had a job to do.

Walking down the nameless path once more, Shizuha said a silent thank you to the stone that had tripped her earlier, for bringing her into contact with that green-haired stranger…

…never realizing that that same stone was now resting conspicuously right where that same stranger had stood while they were talking.

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #87 on: October 02, 2013, 06:35:49 am »
Wonder if I should put a disclaimer along the lines of WARNING EXTREME FANON AHEAD or some junk.
Final Word Count: 2971



Donation for Oni

Yatsugatake, a mountain known for a couple of things: the home of the goddess Iwanagahime and being slightly larger in the past.  The oni have taken a liking to the mountain and have called it their home as well.  On this bright morning three particular oni have gathered on the cliff.  They appear to be holding an important forum.  Onis are a strong race and they like to fight and party and have a good time.  And these three are in high standing with the oni, so an important meeting between the three could very well shape the course of history for this land.

“I like beer!”  The short one with long brown hair and two large brown horns pretruding from the side of her head proclaimed and took a swing from her purple gourd.

“We know, Suika,” the medium sized one with short pink hair sighed. 

“Kasen,” the very tall one with long blond hair and large red horn wrapped her arm around Kasen, “You've got to lighting up girl!  Look out there!”  She waved her free arm across the horizon, “breathe in this fresh mountain air!”  She took a huge breath and exhaled.  “It's great to be alive!”

“You say that now, Yuugi” someone said from behind them.  They turned around and saw a woman about the same size as Kasen and with green wavy hair. 

“Ah, Yuuka, how are you going to ruin being alive this time?” Yuugi smirked at her.

“Oh not me, the humans.  I was walking around the human village earlier--”

“Oh dear lord,” Kasen started rubbing the bridge between her eyes.

“I.  WAS.  WALKING.  AROUND.   THE.  HUMAN.  VILLAGE.  EARLIER!” Yuuka repeated while glaring at Kasen, “and noticed a new building at the far end.  There were a lot of people there.  I was naturally curious so I starting asking the people.”

“You asked?” Kasen cocked an eyebrow.

“Yes, it took a couple of hits but I finally got an answer.  It turned out to be a shrine.”

“Yes, humans like those things.  They turn to a higher power because they lack the strength to do something themselves,” Kasen said.

“Are you done with your social commentary, because this shrine had something in it.  You see these people were lining up to but metal in a wooden box.  After hitting a couple of people I found out that it's a magical wish granting box and that metal stuff was Yang or Yin or something.  I don't care, you put enough of that stuff in it and a shrine maiden comes out and grants your wish.”

“Why are you telling us all of this?” Kasen asked.

“I stole the box,” Yuuka moved out of the way and sure enough there was a box behind her.

“Box!  More beer!”  Suika shouted at the box.

“You have to put Yin in it,” Yuugi said.

“I ain't putting jack in it til I get my beer!” Suika yelled.

“Well, have fun,” Yuuka said and walked off.

Kasen groaned.

“What are you groaning about?” Yuugi asked.

“Just trying to figure who to blame for ruining 'being alive' when the humans come to take back the box.”

“BEER!” Suika shouted at the box.

“Hand me my dish,” Yuugi smiled gently.  Kasen went inside the mountain and came back a few moments later with a red dish.  “Suika come here with your gourd.”  Suika walked over and handed Yuugi her guord and Kasen gave her the red dish.  “We don't need that box for more beer,” Yuugi said and poured sake from the gourd onto the dish.  “Like Kasen said we solve our own problems.”  She handed the dish Suika.  “No use in waiting for shrine maiden that ain't gonna come.”

“Damn this mountain is big!” they heard a voice from over the cliff.  They all peered over the edge and a red and white blur flew past them.  It looked down at them and stopped.  She floated back down to eye level with the oni.  She had long black hair with bangs parted down the middle that framed her face.  “I'm the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, have you seen a green haired--” she stopped talking and looked straight at the box.  “There it is!”

“Did you bring beer?” Suika asked.

“In one ear and out the other,” Kasen shook her head.

“I did bring beer,” she responded.  “When I heard my box got taken here, I figured I'd better bring some.  I heard there were Tengu and Oni up here, so I came prepared.”  She pulled a container out of thin air.  “I'll give you this if you give me my box back.”

“Where did that come from?” Kasen asked.

“Shrine Maiden magic?” she responded.

“You don't sound so sure."

“I brought you beer so give me my box back.”

“Are you making demands of an oni?” Yuugi stepped toward the shrine maided.  She was a whole two heads taller.

“I'm offering a trade,” she held out an empty hand.  “What, where did it go!?”

“This is some good stuff!” Suika yelled.

“Suika!” Yuugi yelled.  “We do not steal!”

“We traded.  I got my beer, she can have her box,” Suika laughed.

“You are the worst negotiator ever,” Kasen sighed.  “I guess being oni of our words, we're letting her take the box.”

“Yea,” Yuugi sighed, “You can take your box.”

“What?” the shrine maiden stood there, shocked.

“I was hoping for a fight, but things turned out this way,” Yuugi shrugged.  “We'll fight later.  I want to see what a shrine maiden is capable off.”

“This was all very anti-clamatic,” the shrine maiden picked up the box and flew down the mountain.

“Later?” Kasen asked.

“Tomorrow is later,” Yuugi grinned excitedly.

* * *

It was later afternoon by the time the shrine maiden made to her shrine.  All the people were gone.  She placed the box at the entrance to the shrine.

“You're back earlier then I expected,” a voice said from inside the shrine.  The shrine maiden looked up and a tall blond woman in a long white dress seemingly appeared from the shadows.  “And you're in one piece.”

“How do you keep appearing out of nowhere like that?” she asked.

“That's none of your concern, Mima” she said and looked over the box.  “How did you get this back?”

“They took the trade, surprisingly,” she said.

“No tricks?” she looked up.

“No, they were pretty straight foreword.”

“I meant from you, Miss 'Hakurei Shrine Maiden,'” she said with air quotes.

“I am the Hakurei Shrine Maiden,” she responded with a sheepish grin.  “Look I even put the paper things on my stick,” she held up her wand with a moon adorned on top and zigzap paper tied underneath it.

“Shide,” the woman responded.  “And that doesn't make you a shrine maiden.  You're just a squatter.”

“This shrine was empty when I found it,” she responded.  “And I called dibs.”

“Dibs?”  She shook her head, “doesn't matter.  People will start to question your heritage if you don't use the Hakurei Heirloom.”

“What are you talking about?  I use the Heirloom all the time.  I just went and got it back from the oni.”

“The donation box isn't the Hakurei Heirloom!” she sighed, “I was talking about the Yin-Yang orbs.  If you are going to take the mantle of Hakurei you need to use them to fight youkai.”

“Yea about that, why?” she leaned against the box.

“Why what?” the woman looked down at her.

“Why fight youkai.  What have they done to me?”

“That's not an attitude a shrine maiden should have.  And you fight them because the attack people.”

“Not for fun though.  Well except for that one this morning who went around smacking people in the back of the head yelling, 'WHERE AM I?'”  she stopped and grinned to herself remembering the absurdity of it. 

“Look I'm saying I eat cows and stuff but I don't see them plotting against me.  And every instance of a Youkai attack has been instigated by us humans.  If we leave them alone and don't encroach on their hunting grounds they'll leave us alone.”

“Again, that is a very dangerous attitude.”

“Maybe that priestess from a while back was right,” Mima stood up and looked at the woman in the eyes.

“And look how that turned out for her,” the woman warned once again.

“They were Buddhist,” she shrugged, “they follow someone who looked a person who eats babies and thought to himself, now there's a goddess of parenthood.”

“Well in any case, I'll be leaving now,” she said and disappeared back into the shadows of the shrine.  Mima ran inside and looked around.

“Damn,” she said looking at the ground.  “I'm going to figure out how she does that.”

* * *

It was the next afternoon.  Mima was outside the shrine sweeping.  She looked back at the Yin-Yang orb on the inside and shook her head.  “If it is the Hakurei heirloom and I'm not a Hakurei then what's the point,” she thought to herself.  She heard footsteps up ahead and looked up.  There were four shadows looming in the distance.  Two of normal height, one small one, and a really tall one.    The small one had two horns too.  One of the medium ones looked like she was carrying a parasol.  She walked over to the box and placed the broom down and picked up her wand.  The four shadows approached her.  Three of them stopped, but the tallest kept walking.

“Heya,” she waved her hand.  “How you doing?”

“I'm...good?” she was very confused.

“Good, good,” Yuugi said.  She extended her hand out.  Mima looked at it and then at Yuugi with a very confused look on her face.  “Right sorry, I don't know how to do this properly.  I have come to challenge you to a duel.”

“A duel,” she gripped her wand.

“Yes, I feel that we both feel that we were robbed of a proper fight yesterday, by forces outside of our control,” she looked back a Suika who was otherwise preoccupied with a butterfly flying around the shrine.

“What is with you?  This is not what you were like yesterday,” still with the confused face.

“Yea, you're right,” Yuugi pounded her fist into her palm.  “I want to fight a shrine maiden.”

“Well,” Mima grinned and waved her arm at the empty shrine, “take your pick.”

“There's just you,” Yuugi responded.

“But there's four of you.”

“Four?” Yuugi turned around.  Yuuka was smiling and waving.

“Where did you come from?” Yuugi asked.

“My house.”

“She's been following us since we left the mountain,” Kasen explained.

“Well the more the merrier,” Yuugi said and turned back around.

“Speak for yourself!”  Mima exclaimed.

“Don't worry, it's just going to be us in this duel,” Yuugi turned back around to Kasen.  “Watch her,” she pointed at Yuuka who was twirling her parasol.

Mima took a stance and held out the wand in front of her.  Yuugi cracked her neck and raised her fist in front of her.

“Let's go!” Mima shouted and waved her wand in front of her.  She produced a star and flew at Yuugi.  She grinned and ran right into it without flinching.

“Is that all you've got!” she yelled and kept running.

Yuugi threw her arm back to punch, Mima swung her wand again and made a wind to blow Yuugi away.  However, Yuugi was too heavy and it redirected and blew Mima back.  The effect was the same and she dodged the punched.  Yuugi's fist hit the ground and the floor cracked.

“Yuugi!”  Kasen yelled from the sidelines.  “Shrine maiden or not, she's just a human.  Tone it back a little!”

“Tone it back?” Yuugi jutted her thumb at Kasen.  “Can you believe that?”

Mima was shaking and sweating all over, “I don't want to die,” she reponded.

“Right,” Yuugi sighed.  “Toning it down.”

She once again jumped at Mima.  Mima was too frazzled to move and Yuugi hit her with a leg sweep and knocked her on her back.  Mima looked up at her attacker, paniced.

“Is this a shrine maiden?” Yuugi asked.  She gripped her fist and went to punch Mima.  She swung her wand to make a wind to push her away.  “Not this time,” Yuugi opened her fist and grabbed Mima by the leg and lifted her above her head.  “Now this has been anti-clamatic,” she sighed and threw Mima into the shrine.  “Why would anyone come to you to make their wishes come true.  They should come to me!”  Yuugi gave a hearty laugh.  And started walking away.

“I'm bored,” Suika said and when Yuugi got to them.

“That wasn't much of a fight, I agree,” Yuugi said.

“I didn't get a chance to liven it up any,” Yuuka grinned.

“No one wants that,” Kasen said.  The four all started walking away. 

As they neared the gate, Yuugi got hit in the back of the head with something.  They turned around and looked at the ground and saw a Yin-Yang ball rolling back to the shrine.  They looked up at the shrine to she the girl standing there panting and covered in blood.  She took off running and Yuugi had a huge smile on her face.

“THIS IS MORE LIKE IT!”  She yelled and lunged back into battle.

Mima reached the Orb and kicked it with the inside of her foot, or more precisely it was repelled by the inside of her foot and went flying at Yuugi.  She went to catch it, but it repelled her and knocked her back.  She skidded back on one of her knees.  The Orb went flying back towards Mima who used her wind to redirect it around her and back at Yuugi.

Yuugi looked up at the incoming Orb and went to punch it.  However, she was so preoccupied with the orb she wasn't watching Mima come up behind it and use her palm to repel it down at the ground.  Yuugi's punch missed and the Orb bounced up and smacked Yuugi in the jaw.  It hit her with such force it knocked her off the ground.  She flew and landed on her back.  Yuugi stood up and shook her head and looked at her opponent.  She was limping on the leg she used to kicked orb and her palm was bright pink.  But she wasn't backing down.  Yuugi grinned, not because her opponent was injured; but because she still fighting, giving it her all. 

The Orb was falling back to the ground.  Panting, Mima looked up and braced herself.  She looked at Yuugi who was grinning back at her.  The met eyes and both knew that this was it.  Mima leaned back and Yuugi pushed off with feet and lunged.  Mima put all her force into her head as it hit the orb it flew forward and hit Yuugi dead on and she hit ground.  Mima's head was pounding, she was panting, but she stood her ground and watched Yuugi.  She stood and shook her head again and looked at Mima.  She didn't show any signs of damage.  Then Mima collapsed.

* * *

“You humans are crazy,” Mima heard a voice and looked around.  There was a slight breeze and the curtains in the distance fluttered.  She recognized them, she was in the bedroom of the shrine.  She looked around and saw Yuugi standing above her with a huge smile and a palm extended.  She took it and Yuugi lifted her out of bed.

“Geez, you have like no self-preservation instinct at all, do you?” Mima turned around and the woman appeard from the shadows.  “And you used the Orb all wrong too by the way.”

“I know you, you're that Yakumo witch,” Yuugi said.

“Don't even get me started with you,” she glared at Yuugi.

“Come on, you want to go!” Yuugi grinned.  “I've tried to size you up every time I run into you, but I can't get a good read on you.  So let's fight.”

“Maybe later, I don't feel like it,” she looked at Mima, “I feel a headache coming on.”

“HEY IS THAT A TURTLE!” there was a shout from the front yard.

They all went outside to see what the shouting was about.  They saw Suika with a huge smile.  “I'm going to eat that!” she pointed at the large turtle in the grass.  “BOX!  One soup pot!”  She turned and looked at Mima with an expectant face.

“No,” she responded.

“Aww,” she looked so disappointed.  For second and then her face lit up, “I have to put in it first!”  She ran over to the Orb, but of course it was repelled by her and started rolling away.  And Suika just went ahead chasing it.

“Hey,” Yuuka yelled at Mima.  “We're guest, aren't shrine maidens suppose to entertain their guests.”

“I guess,” Mima sighed, “I'll go get some tea going or something.”

“I want turtle soup,” Yuuka said and looked at the turtle.

“You're not eating my turtle!” Mima yelled.

And thus in the shadow of the mountain that used to cast a larger shadow another peaceful day ended.

capt. h

  • Only sane townie
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #88 on: October 03, 2013, 03:49:56 pm »
This was a hard challenge for a couple reasons. One, I had trouble coming up with a plot, and two, I wasn't sure what a satisfactory ending would be.

I believe I found a place where I can end it with everyone being satisfied. Also, 1083 words.


**********************************

It was a peaceful, sunny day in the sunflower field. Or it would be, if I were not being disturbed by cat hell spawn. “Well, well,” I say, gritting my teeth. “Aren’t you a brave kitty. What’s your name?”

“Rin Kaenbyou, ma’am. And I take it you’re Miss Yuuka Kazami, master of flowers and genocide?”

“One and the same,” I reply, politely but firmly. “It’s so rare for fertilizer to come willingly, you know, what makes you so foolish today?”

“Well, I had some time off, and I’m a huge fan of your work, you see, will you sign my remains?” the cat asks, pulling a skull and a pen out of her wheelbarrow.

“I suppose I can give a last request,” I say, signing the thing’s forehead and handing it back to the cat.

“EEEEEEE, thank you thank you thank you,” Rin says, squealing as I point my umbrella at her.

“Goodbye,” I say, aiming my umbrella slightly upwards so as to miss the sunflowers. With a flash of light, I obliterate all in the path of my umbrella, and peace returns to the field.

“That. Is. So. Cool!” the cat squeals.

Looks like I was mistaken. I turn around to face the girl. Fast and annoying. She will be troublesome.

The girl goes on, “Is that how you wipe cities off the map?”

“No, it’s too small for that, at best I’d take out a small village. Now cities, on the other hand,” I say, as every sunflower in my field turns to the cat. “Well, I am a gardener, and cities are weeds.”

Every sunflower in my field lunges out of the ground towards the cat, who weaves around the rapidly ascending stalks as she throws herself to the sky. “You really are as amazing as they say, I can’t get near you at all like this!”

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to touch the girl either. This is why I hate cats, they have no problem cheating death eight times in a row.

“If you’d be so kind as to stop moving, I’d love to show your how my roses get their lovely red hue,” I say.

“Ooooo, you use blood too. It’s got a great hue,” the cat yells, rapidly retreating from my flowers, “Back home we only use it on the walls.”

I snap, and my flowers return back to earth, losing the massive size they gained to chase the cat.

“Alright girl,” I smirk, “You’ve got my attention. Where is this home of yours?”

“It’s the Palace of the Earth Spirits.”

“And who are you,” I continue.

“Ah, well, I’m Rin Kaenbyou,” the girl starts before I cut her off.

“Yes, that’s your name, but who are you?”

“Well, I suppose I’m the girl responsible for feeding bodies to the fires of hell. Somebody’s got to keep the furnace fueled.”

“Ah,” I say, “Well, you may be the big-shot in hell, but up here, let’s just say you do not want to cross me.”

“Cross you?” Rin says. “No, no, no, you’ve got me all wrong. I happy just meeting you!”

“That is a surprise,” I say, “But I’m afraid I’m only good at making bodies, not disposing of them.”

“True, but you are the best at making bodies!” Orin says. “Your record back in 1944 has never been beaten. You’re a living legend!”

“And yet you still come to me,” I say.

“Of course.” Rin says. “You’re the last big name left.”

“I am?” I say, a little shocked.

“The big killers are all dead. The world isn’t as twisted as it used to be. Sure, their spirits live on, and I love talking to those guys. Henry and Genghis can be a real riot sometimes,” the cat explains. “But you, you have one thing they lack - You’re still alive. You’re still raking up bodies. And you’re still the best at it.”

I look at the girl. I say, “Alright, I’ll amuse you. What do you want to know?”

“Well, the big stuff,” Rin says, clutching her signed skull. “How many. Your methods. And why.”

“Well, the number depends on who you include,” I smirk. “Sure, I killed millions of humans, but what about livestock foolish enough to eat my flowers? Deer who trample them, wolves who dig them up, there are billions of creatures I have decided needed my help to cease acting inappropriately, usually by ceasing their functions completely.”

“Ah,” Rin says, pulling out a notebook from her wheelbarrow as she begins to take notes. “And what about the youkai?”

“Youkai foolishly think they count more than humans, and both think I care about them more than worms. I couldn’t begin to distinguish them from that tally, but then again, why would you? And I suppose you think you’re somehow above my judgment as well?”

“Oh no,” Rin says, “I’m just good at running. So now, how do you do it?”

Glancing at the roots at the girl’s feet, I admit this girl would make an interesting flower. “Well, I suppose that depends on my mood. I mean, some days you want to do a little gardening, some days you want to blast the weeds away, and some days, you want to rip the heads off the fertilizer. Of course, it’s even easier if you’re subtle; I’ve poisoned my share of water supplies. And then there are days when I just let civilization grow. Cultivate. Spread. What fun is gardening without letting it become a challenge?”

“Ooooo, I think I’m starting to get you,” Rin says. “And the why is starting to look obvious. Wait, lemme guess, you love your garden more than anything, and kill anyone who gets in the way of it?”

“Close girl. The flowers are my friends. Fauna are their butcher. And I am their caretaker,” I say, as the roots slowly work their way around the ignorant girl’s legs. I walk up to the girl, pointing my umbrella at her throat. “And since the weed stands before me, let me pluck you now.”

A flash explodes from the tip of my umbrella. I look down, seeing the girl lying under me, the roots cut. I point my left index finger at her, and another flash explodes, this time from my free hand.

“Oooo boy, that must be a dual spark!” Rin says from behind me again. “Whelp, gotta get back to work sis! So, I’ll be seeing ya?”

I smirk, clapping twice. “You, I think I’ll cultivate you.”
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 05:32:01 am by capt. h »

Joveus Molai

  • Bear the Word, and the Word will bear you.
  • *
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Blood Spider
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - Immortal Phoenix
« Reply #89 on: October 03, 2013, 05:32:39 pm »
This one is dedicated to two people. To Rurouni, because I remember her lamenting on the PSL IRC once about how so many Touhou fan works focus on romance, but so few care about other relationships like friendship--this story is to help balance the statistics a bit. And to Roukanken, because I wanted to I wanted to write a Touhou thing that involved the ocean somehow. Alas, this was the best I could come up with. :negative: If it weren't for the 3k word limit, there would have been so much more *~Ocean~* it was gonna be crazy, with gratuitous Sango cameos and everything

Speaking of the word limit: this one clocks in at EXACTLY 3000 words, including the title.

**********

The Taste of Friendship

It should have been perfect.

Indeed, it was perfect—almost. Sakuya had outdone herself this time, in honor of her mistress's birthday celebration. The food was delectable, the decorations sublime, the band a splendid choice. For once, the fairy maids worked diligently at their duties, and the gate guard had kept out the riff-raff. The guests were having an excellent time, she could tell, and half of their time was spent marveling at the party instead of enjoying it.

But there was one thing missing. One single little thing, which soured everything else.

“Sakuya,” said Remilia Scarlet as she kept up her false smile, continuing to play the gracious host. The eternally scarlet young moon, mistress of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, lounged at the head of a great marble table she'd set out for the occasion. The silver-haired maid bent low, placing her ear next to her mistress's mouth.

“Sakuya,” muttered Remilia. “Why isn't Patchouli here yet?”

If the chief maid were anyone else, she might have swallowed nervously, casting glances this way and that, perhaps wring her hands. But Sakuya Izayoi was not called Perfect and Elegant for nothing.

“Mistress,” said the maid, as she pretended to busy herself adding more food to Remilia's plate, “As I said before, Madame Patchouli is currently preoccupied with other matters. She said that she would join the party as soon as possible, and in the event she misses it to wish you a most wonderful birthday—”

“Yes, yes,” hissed Remilia. The fake smile never left her face, but the silvered spoon in her hand creaked in her grip. A nearby guest gave her an odd look. “But why isn't she here?”

The maid shook her head, smoothly replacing the dented spoon with another. “She did not say, mistress, only that it was a project of utmost importance.”

A sigh escaped Remilia's lips as she waved her maid away. A part of her cursed Patchouli's skewed priorities, muttering how it was so like the magician to value a silly project over the single most important day of the year: her birthday. But another part doubted the former. Surely, it argued, surely her dearest friend wouldn't abandon her on her own birthday. Not like this. Not to her best friend.

“A few more hours,” thought Remilia as she swirled a glass of blood-red wine in her hand. “Just a few more hours, and she'll be here.” For now, she amused herself by coming up with snide remarks she'd say to her tardy friend when she finally joined the celebrations.

“'About time you showed up'? No, too bland. 'Oh, my dear friend Patchouli, did you flood the Library again?' Hmm, that's laying it on too thick. How about...”

------

As the hours passed, irritation became worry. Worry then became paranoia, and from paranoia came rage.

The food had been set aside by then, making way for Gensokyo's favorite party activity: drinking. The guests cheered as the maids brought out aged sake and grape wine. But at the head of the table, Remilia glowered at everything and nothing.

A person on her left—Yuuka Kazami—noticed her seething. “Are you alright?” asked the flower youkai.

“It's nothing,” snapped Remilia. She continued to loudly drum her fingers on the table. Yuuka raised an eyebrow and continued drinking.

“What is she doing?” thought Remilia. She stopped drumming her fingers and closed them tightly into a fist, as though she were choking the life out of someone. “Where is that stupid shut-in and why isn't she here?”

Across the table, the guests let out a roar. Fujiwara no Mokou and Kaguya Houraisan had just started a drinking contest, apparently, and the guests were cheering their favorite contestant on. Remilia wanted to throw her glass at them, to get them to shut up and leave her to stew in her anger in silence.

Sakuya,” growled Remilia as she turned to her maid. The maid merely shook her head in reply.

“She'll pay for this.” The glass in her hand groaned in protest as her grip on it tightened. Spiderweb-cracks appeared its surface. “After this is over I will go down there myself and burn every single one of her worthless books and make her watch, I swear...”

The guests around her were beginning to take notice now. The squeal of tortured glass could be heard over the merrymaking and carousing. They shot each other glances, muttering amongst themselves and pointing at the furious vampire.

“Is...is she alright?”

“What's got her panties in a twist?”

“...Youmu, take cover.”

“Huh? Milady, what are you talking about—”

Down the table, the immortals' drinking contest was heating up. They were on the sixth cup of sake, and Kaguya was starting to sway a little. Sensing weakness, Mokou loudly and roundly lambasted her opponent, crowing that a fairy could outdrink the pampered princess. It must have struck a nerve, as Kaguya responded by tossing her cup to the side in a rage.

As luck would have it, the cup happened to fly straight at Remilia's face.

Guests later claimed that the cup seemed to move in slow motion, spinning end over end as it flew down the table, spraying droplets of alcohol as centrifugal force flung the remnants of drink away. It was remarkable, they said, how it flew right for the vampire's nose.

When the cup finally hit its target, something broke, and it was not the cup.

Remilia gave the chinaware one long look before her turning her gaze to the stock-silent guests.

“Get out.”

Some blinked in surprise or to clear away the heady effects of the wine. Others looked around in confusion, unsure as to what to do.

“Mistress...” said Sakuya as she stepped forward. But it was far too late for damage control.

“I said, get. Out.”

They responded with questions, requests for clarification, even protests. “Come on, Remilia, we've only just started—”

“I SAID GET OUT!”

She stood up, so abruptly that her chair went flying backwards. Before it could land, she slammed a fist down on the exquisite marble table, splitting the whole thing in half with a resounding *CRACK*. Cries of shock quickly turned to moans of outrage as guests were splattered with snacks and spilled alcohol.

“GET OUT!” Remilia screamed. “ALL OF YOU! GET OUT! GET OUT!”

Some of those present—minor youkai, the fairy maids—all but fled in terror, scrambling through the mansion's door. The rest complained about their booze-soaked clothing as they shuffled their way out. Some threw the vampire looks of concern, others threw her curses. She cared for none of them.

Remilia stood there, breathing harshly through clenched teeth, glaring at the disgruntled guests until the last one closed the door behind her.

Silenced reigned for a full minute. Eventually, Remilia Scarlet stalked off without a word.

Sakuya gazed for a moment at her mistress's retreating figure. She wanted to ask if there was anything she could get her, but she knew better.

“Everyone,” she said to the few fairy maids still present. Her voice was utterly calm, as though Remilia's outburst had never happened. “Let's get this cleaned up. I want half of you mopping up the floor and the rest of you to pick up the table pieces. Hurry up now, no time for dallying.”

As the maids started tidying the ruined dining hall, she made her way around the mansion, stopping time to now and then to hasten to process. It was a good idea, she considered, to let everyone know to stay out of the library for the evening.

After all, it would be terribly inconvenient to have someone messily die tonight.

---------

Remilia stomped her way through her mansion's corridors, leaving deep gouges in the carpet as she went. Every once in a while, she paused to punch a hole in a wall, or grab a painting and smash it into splinters.

“I'm going to kill her. No, that'd be too easy. I'm going brain her repeatedly with the biggest damn book I can find. Over and over and over again. How dare she, it's the most important day of the year how dare she how dare she—”

But a part of her, buried under the layers of rage and calculated plots for revenge, wondered one question: why?

What was so important to Patchouli that she didn't come to the party? Remilia had secured a certain bottle of wine for tonight—a particular decades-old vintage from the outside world. Remilia Scarlet, proud as she was, was not one to beg so easily, and it was hard, asking that thrice-damned gap youkai to acquire that particular wine bottle.

A pity—the bottle was likely shattered now, along with the table that held it.

Doubts began to creep into her head as she continued down the winding hallways. She had the sense that they were starting to get...distant of late. They saw each other less and less since about  a year ago, when Patchouli helped that black-white thief with some sort of adventure into the Underground Hell—a few weeks after that, the doll magician started to frequently visit the Library, as well. Perhaps...perhaps Patchouli desired the company of fellow magicians more now? After all, though Remilia had dabbled in the arcane arts and could cast a cantrip or two, she was still nowhere near the level needed to hold a conversation with her friend. Perhaps what Patchouli truly wanted was a colleague. “Something I can't give her,” noted Remilia bitterly.

She was struck with a pang of jealousy even as she denied feeling such. “What, me? Remilia Scarlet, the Eternal Crimson Moon, jealous? How petty, how...mortal. It's beneath me, and if she no longer wants my company then I'm perfectly fine with that.” A cruel sneer lighted her face. “In fact, if she wants to be with those other magicians so much, I won't stop her. I'll even have her move out of the mansion. The Library's hers, but the mansion it's in is mine. Yes, that will make her see, that will make her pay...”

---------------

At last, Remilia reached the entrance to the Library. The great oak doors, intricately carved with runes and warding signs, loomed above her. She stared at the doors for a moment, then kicked them open, breaking them apart with ease.

A figure rushed towards her as she stomped past the ruined door. “Intruder alert! Intrud—huh? Oh, it's you, Mistress Remilia. I thought you were Miss Kirisame for a moment.” Through the settling dust, Remilia saw the crimson-haired devil bow low.

“Forgive me, Mistress Remilia,” said Koakuma, “but Mistress Patchouli is not be disturbed. I must ask you to—”

“Koakuma,” said Remilia in a voice that could have frozen water solid. “Take me to Patchy. Right now.”

Koakuma put on her friendliest, most polite smile. “I'm terribly sorry, mistress, but—urk.”

The librarian found herself face-to-face with the vampire. Remilia had grabbed Koakuma's collar and yanked her down to head level, her grip like iron and her eyes entirely blood-red. And perhaps it was Koakuma's imagination, but Remilia's fangs seemed doubly sharp tonight.

“Koakuma. Take me to Patchy. Right now. Or I will send you screaming back to Makai with my claws.”

Koakuma tried to swallow, but grip on her collar kept that from working. “M-m-mistress, please...” Remilia tossed the librarian aside, sending her sprawling into a bookshelf.

A voice called out from behind a shelf. “There's no need to bully my librarian, Remi. I'm right here.”

Remilia turned. A figure dressed in voluminous lilac robes stood before her, a weathered tome in her hand: Patchouli Knowledge, the One-Week Magician, owner of the Library, and Remilia's best friend.

The vampire's eyes narrowed. “Ah. Hello, Patchy.”

----------

“You didn't come to the party”.

If Remilia's voice were any flatter, Patchouli could have turned it into a book page. Remilia glared across a circular table at her friend. They were surrounded by piles and piles of tomes, while stories-tall shelves loomed over them.

“Yes,” said Patchouli. If she felt afraid or guilty, she did not show either.

“Why.”

Patchouli continued to return the glare with her own dispassionate gaze. “I was busy.”

“Oh yes,” said Remilia, scoffing. “The Unmoving Great Library is too busy to get her scrawny bum out off her chair for the most important day of the year, her friend's birthday. Not even a hello, or a happy birthday wish.”

“I'm not that scrawny,” said Patchouli, “Sakuya has insisted that I eat at least three square meals a day and she's been quite successful in that rega—”

“Oh shut up,” hissed Remilia. “Was it that much to ask, Patchy? To come upstairs just once, one day out of the year? What are you working on, anyway?”

The magician continued to stare for a moment before replying, “I can't say.”

“And why not?

“Because it's nothing that concerns you.”

“Fine,” snarled Remilia. “Whatever, I don't care anymore.” She stood up, knocking the chair back. “If your stupid research is that much more important than me, then fine. But I want you and this giant waste of space you call a library out of my mansion. Shack up with Marisa or something, I just want you to get out.” She began to walk away.

“...Remi...”

“I'll send Sakuya down here to help you get things packed up. I considered burning all your books to save time, but now I don't care anymore.”

“Remi.”

She continued, “Should I ship them to the doll-magician's place instead? At least hers is a bit tidier—”

Remi.

“JUST ONE DAY, PATCHY!” Remilia spun around, screaming. She was biting her lower lip, her hands were balled up in fists. Tears threatened to spill down her red, red eyes. “Just one day! One! But you weren't there. Because these,” she grabbed a random booked and waved it in front of Patchouli's face, “were so much more important than me.” The book made a loud *CLAP* as Remilia tossed it into a pile of its fellows.

Patchouli glanced at the flung book, then back at Remilia. A long moment later, she said,

“Your birthday present.”

Remilia blinked. “What?”

A sigh. “I was working on your birthday present. That's why I wasn't at the party. I would have finished it earlier, but I underestimated the undertaking.”

“...what...” said Remilia softly, “I...why didn't you tell me about it?”

“I wanted it to be a surprise,” shrugged Patchouli. “Besides, you're, what, four-hundred and fifty years old now? I didn't think missing one birthday party would be such a deal.” Her eyes lowered, in what seemed like regret. “It seems I was mistaken. My apologies.”

Silence.

Several seconds later, Remilia spoke.

“What...what is it? The birthday present, I mean.”

The magician's eyes brightened. “Well, thanks to the Hakurei Barrier, travel between Gensokyo and the outside world is difficult without certain...provisions. So instead, I...borrowed a portions of land in Makai. By combining Western Elementalism with some Wu Xing theory, I was able to shape the unreality of Makai into something of my liking. A rather clever bit of arcane engineering, if I may be so bold.” She snapped her fingers, and a magical portal opened before Remilia.

Remilia's jaw dropped, her eyes bulging. “It's...”

“Indeed. Sinclair's Bay, off the coast of Scotland. Your favorite beach, as I recall. I...I remember you saying you missed the ocean ever since we came to Gensokyo.”

“You knew,” said Remilia, her voice soft. She stared at the magician.

Patchouli nodded in reply, and turned to look at the portal, her handiwork. “Yes. I had to recruit Marisa and Alice for assistance—which is why they'd been visiting so frequently lately—and I'll miss my copy of Liber Logaeth, but—oof.” An impact in the small of her back staggered her. She looked down to see Remilia's arms wrapped around her waist.

Patchouli gently placed a hand on her friend's, and glanced over her shoulder. “Remi?”

I'm sorry, Patchy,” said a muffled voice. “And thanks.

“Say it again?” said Patchouli, with a slight smile. “I couldn't hear you.”

“I said I'm sorry, and thanks.”

“I still didn't get it. You'll have to repeat—”

“Oh shuddup.”

They stood there in the Library, enjoying the sound of each other's laughter.

--------

Later, Remilia found herself before a black-watered ocean, under a crimson moon. Soft, cold sand flowed around her feet, further cooled by the lapping waves.

“Hmm,” said a voice beside her. “The consistency of the sand is a bit off. I'll have to fix this when we get back.” Patchouli stood alongside Remilia, gazing thoughtfully at the pale sand.

Remilia made a slight smirk. “Hmm, losing your touch, Patchy? Though I rather like what you did with the moon.”

Patchouli snorted in response. “You try crafting the physical laws governing a trillion particles of sand. And thank you.”

They watched in silence for a minute, at the fairy maids frolicking in the shallow water, while Flandre went about battling a colossal summoned leviathan in the background. Remilia had decided this was a good opportunity to let the poor girl out for a change.

“Ah, I have something for you too,” said Remilia. She clicked her fingers, and Sakuya brought up a pair of wine glasses and a particular bottle.

“1970 Merlot wine?” said Patchouli, blinking. “From the outside? Oh my.”

Remilia smiled as the maid poured them a measure each. “I asked the gap hag for a...favor. I thought I broke the bottle earlier at the party, but it somehow survived. Luck, I suppose. Or fate?”

The magician blinked again, and Remilia witnessed a rarity that night: a true, full-blown smile from Patchouli. “Thank you, Remi.”

Remilia raised her glass. “To friendship!”

Patchouli raised hers in kind. “To friendship.”

It tasted honey-sweet.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 05:46:42 pm by Joveus Molai »
 

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