Topic: Absolution of the Requiem  (Read 9312 times)

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an unmatched sock

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Absolution of the Requiem
« on: March 10, 2013, 05:19:49 am »
Overview

   So, in a rush of inspiration and sleep deprivation, I decided to turn my eventual danmakufu game into a story. I say eventual because I want to have all elements (music, art, etc.) before I start programming so I don't have to use placeholders. Because that's just annoying and sometimes difficult to fix without spending a LOT of time going over stuff. So, to try and contain my anxiety over whether or not I can rely on people, I decided to make my ideas into a full-fledged story.

   Please note: Some characters are references. Some are directly from Touhou itself. Some are from my imagination (or borrowed from someone else's). Feel free to post questions if confusion arises, and if I deem it so, I shall answer them. Only reason I wouldn't would be if it gave away a major plot element. Oh, and you, the lovely audience, may be called upon to answer a question I may have for you all (pertaining to the story).

   Also, as I type this, I am listening to the only song I have at this point, the menu theme.

   My game is to be known as Touhou Kidonoyami ~ Requiem of Fallen Angel, and this adventure shall take the same name. I modified it in the thread name because this story will focus primarily on one storyline. As of right now, I have the game's story and concepts visualized and/or recorded, all characters chosen (Stage 2 midboss is an exception, it eludes me currently. I might skip it story-wise. Or use one of my current placeholders.) I most likely will not be naming chapters, and there could be frequent digressions, depending on the situation. As for the story that shall be here, I currently have the prologue and a detail about the ending.

   Since there are no visual aids at this time, you will have to use your imagination to see the characters I invented/borrowed and modified, so yeah. Sorry.

   Also, don't be afraid to comment and leave constructive criticism. I would appreciate it.

   Anyway, the prologue is in the next post. Get readin! It's good for you...I think.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 03:21:42 am by an unmatched sock »

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2013, 06:19:02 am »
   Edit 9/29/13:   After careful consideration, I have decided I did not like much of the prologue. It was my first time writing something like this, and now that I have developed a bit more, I decided that this is the one part of all of my writing thus far I would take back. So, I am hiding it. If you want to read it, go ahead, but otherwise, it's staying hidden. Sorry.

Prologue
Gathering of Darkness




   All was darkness. But not all was invisible. On a small plot of grass in this void sat a great palace, its towers gleaming like obsidian. Around the palace is shadow and mist, all that naturally exists in this gateway dimension, this Ingress. In fact, the small chunk of terrain looked downright strange in this plane between planes. Within the palace's grand hall, a single, ring-shaped point of light can be seen in the darkness, but it is a hollow light that casts neither glow nor warmth. It remained still, hovering over a tall, slim figure. This figure's back was turned to the entrance, but even without turning she knew what-or rather, who-was approaching.

   A shorter figure dressed all in gray was half-running down the hall, stopping and bowing within a few feet of the figure. The taller one turned her head slightly. "Get up," she commanded, simply acknowledging her.

   The gray-clad one stood back up as soon as she was ordered. "My lady, all preparations are made. We are ready to begin. Should I start shrouding the palace?"

   The taller figure turned back to the end of the hall, towards a massive, reinforced door that could have been part of the wall, as if expecting a response. The very shadows in the room seemed to approve of her secret question. "Good," she said when she finally decided to speak. "Are the residents of this world unsuspecting?"

   "Like the sun before summer rains, mate."

   The tall creature nodded and turned at this news, a slight smile playing across her lips for the first time that she can remember in a long, long time. Her single red eye almost seemed to glow in the shaded room, gazing right at the shorter girl before flicking back to the rest of the room. The gray one shuddered, still uneasy about the other only having one eye, since the white bandage-like patch over her other eye would indicate she used to have two. "Then let us begin." She raised her arms to her sides, her sleeves looking obviously long in comparison. "The unliving...to become living...let darkness see...let it accept my breath of life...and may I retain command over it."

   As she recited this sort of spell, it seemed as though the very shadows were being ripped from the room. The floor, walls, the shorter one's faint shadow, even three from herself. After she mentioned a breath of life, a mist began to pour from her mouth and flow about the room.

   Again, the shorter one felt uneased, but slightly amused (in a weird way) at this. After all, the other's main power was over life, not specifically through her breath. In reality, she just changed her blood's temperature to cool her body...or did she warm it? It was hard to remember. It was no more than a metaphor. She could do this without using her ability anyway, so this was merely for show. The gray one still didn't like it, though. If she can bring things to life...then theoretically she could- no, no...there's nothing to fear. She wouldn't do something so uncouth. Nevertheless, it still sent chills up her spine.

   Despite the mist being a metaphor, as it travelled past the blobs of darkness, it entered them. Their point of entry opened a large eye, revealing that the blobs' shapes were more eye than anything. In fact, they were completely eye. The tall one served as a sort of hive mind to which all of the pieces listened and obeyed. The three that originated from her were larger than the rest, and seemed to be more independent as well. They were distinguishable from the rest due to flower petal-like protrusions from the backs of them, one colored purple, one orange, and the third teal. These were the elite forms of the shadow creatures, just like the hundreds upon hundreds that now permeated the hall. Swiftly, they all turned and formed an orb around the tall figure, swirling at dizzying speeds, leaving small smoky trails behind them. From the orb could be heard a voice:

   "Go, Dark Matter! Rob this world of emotion, and leave naught but suffering in your wake! Cast down all opposition! Let none look to the sky with hope, nor another smile cross their faces! I want to feel the despair wash over this land!"

   At this command, the orb dissipated as the separate orbs left the palace and began circling it. The shorter figure procured two small, glowing wands from seemingly nowhere, and used those with broad sweeping motions like a conductor to generate clouds. These clouds mixed with the Dark Matter, creating pitch-black clouds that effectively obscured the palace from view, looking like a menacing, if not large, black cloud.

   Slowly, the palace began to rise into the air from so many forces trying to lift it at once. As it rose, the mist and darkness of the Ingress faded, and the beings within the palace found themselves greeted by the sun and hill country. The tall figure, now visibly clad primarily in white and red, looked towards the door behind her, and muttered a quick "Thank you" to it. The door didn't respond, but any darkness left in the dim room again seemed to approve. As the mist completely vanished, the sun was shining bright, and there were no other clouds in the sky. Slowly, and very high in the air, the obscured palace began to move forward, as if it were designed to do so.

   As they moved, the tall woman looked outside to take in the scenery. She just grimaced and looked away again. "Tch.They won't even know what they're about to lose...after all, if I can't be happy...
   ...

   Why should anyone else be?"

   Upon saying this, a single crimson tear streaked down her eye. She hated that she cried blood. She always has, even since she was alive. But back then, she had two eyes...but even then she wasn't happy...She wiped away her tear with her sleeve, which is enchanted to automatically eliminate bloodstains so that it didn't need to be tediously washed over and over again, since her tears were rather frequent. As she lowered her arm, her strange cape seemed to twitch all on its own.

   "I mustn't think that way. It's too late to stop anyhow, everything's already in motion. We will bring Gensokyo to its knees, one way or another. And when we do..." She closed her eye in pondering, bowing her head slightly. "...then what?"




And now, it is your turn, my lovely reader/s. This story cannot continue until we have who does what. As such, and this is where you come in...I will give you 5 choices. You can choose either one or two people to go on this journey. Note that your choice is limited to only the ones I assign. Your five choices are:

1. Reimu Hakurei - Obviously. What's an incident without Reimu getting simultaneously annoyed and involved?
2. Marisa Kirisame - Again, obviously. Everyone needs a little klepto witch in their stories, right? Maybe? I don't know.
3. Yuyuko Saigyouji - What? Not Youmu? Well, if you want to know, and want to see Yuyuko beat people up, then vote for her.
4. Satori Komeiji* - An Underground youkai above ground? Something must have happened. Creepy mind readers from hell should just stay there...unless they can help.
5. Koishi Komeiji* - This fruitcake? Maybe for laughs, but this is serious busine- Wait, she's already in the roster. Dammit Koishi.

(* means that these two characters cannot be paired. You can do, say, Reimu + Satori or Reimu + Koishi, but no Satori + Koishi.)

   So, you tell me who you want solving this crime disturbance mystery incident, and the story shall continue from that person's/group's perspective. Others may still show up, but after a certain point, it's just the one person / group of two. Remember, you don't have to pick two, you can vote for just one. I also wouldn't mind constructive criticism.

   So, bad things brought to you by horrible people. How will this be resolved? Stay tuned and vote to find out!

   Edit: After some thinking, here's what I decided. Vote for two of the listed characters, and then choose one of the two to be the main character. The secondary will leave the story after a set point. If not specified, then the first character selected will be considered the choice for main protagonist. Everything else still stands.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 02:35:34 am by an unmatched sock »

LaserTurtle

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 12:58:30 am »
I vote for Reimu and Satori. At least, that's what the RNG picked for me.

There was a secret here but then the author wanted me to hide it! No peeking! Also, sorry for only editing it now, author.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 10:25:11 pm by LaserTurtle »
Off The Rails [complete!] 1  2 - Sharks jumped: Somewhere between one and all of them
Talking to yourself isn't a sign of madness. Expecting a reply is.
Stare too long into the abyss and the abyss stares back, and then it gets awkward until one of you breaks eye contact.

TheTeff007

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2013, 02:45:20 pm »
I vote for Marisa and Koishi... you know, she invited her to her place... and stuff
Small Teaser of my upcoming project~

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 09:14:55 pm »
I could be making a mistake here, but Yuyuko and Koishi sounds like a strangely appealing choice.

... Should I be worried?
The only difference between good and bad is, that good feels more comfortable for all, while bad focuses on the individual's desires. Thus, good is widely spread badness. Every good person is also a bad person, but not vice-versa. Do you still want to be a good person?

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 04:45:46 am »
Well, while I wait for more votes, I have some shorts of the "during the incident with non-vital characters" section. As of right now, I have 3 shorts, and I may make some more, but it depends. One of them is a combination of two, since they will most likely be shorter anyway. I need those votes to continue, I like to know the public opinion on things like this. As it stands, here are the current votes:

Main Protagonist: Reimu - 1   Marisa - 1   Yuyuko - 1   Satori - 0   Koishi - 0
Secondary Protagonist: Reimu - 0   Marisa - 0   Yuyuko - 0   Satori - 1   Koishi - 2

It looks like Koishi will be the secondary protagonist at this point, while main is still up in the air. Remember, one vote for main, one for secondary, and the only pairing I will not allow is Satori and Koishi to go together. So what are you people waiting for? Cast them votes! And a thank-you to those who have voted already.



Chapter 0.5
Falling Gloom ~ Tales of the Miko, the Baka, the Neko, and the Devil
Part 1: Moriya Conspiracy?

   Her eyes snapped open, cold sweat dripping down her face and heavy breathing. She sat bolt upright, bringing a hand to her head. "What an odd nightmare..." she said, turning to look out of the window. It was still nighttime, nowhere near time to be awake, unless there was to be youkai exterminating. She had done so multiple times in the past few days, so that night was to rest. Her nightmare still troubled her, however. "Maybe Lady Kanako will know what it means..." She did a quick nod to reassure herself, then got up and proceeded to the actual shrine atop the mountain. "The shrine part of the shrine," she heard Suwako call it one day. She yawned and stretched as she walked, sleepiness all too apparent on her face.

   She approached the lake, ominous onbashira pillars still present, as always. Sitting upon the largest and lowest one was a woman dressed in red with a mirror ornament on her chest. Her hands were folded in front of her mouth, and she seemed to be concentrating. Sanae had seen this look before, often when she wanted to make an impression of a god with a lot on her mind, yet she will put it aside for those who visit. She would do this to Sanae quite a bit, pretending not to notice her come in just to mess with her. She thought this was one of those times. "Look, I know you're probably not going to pay attention right away, but please...this time it's important."

   Without moving any other part of her body, the goddess spoke. "Yes...go ahead. What's on your mind?" Her usual showmanship wasn't present. Come to think of it, was Kanako usually up at this time? Sanae couldn't entirely remember, she never thought to pay attention to it. I guess that since she's a god, she wouldn't necessarily need to sleep, but maybe even they delight in such a pleasure on occasion. Regardless, she was taken aback by Kanako's genuineness. "Um...normally, you don't listen right away. I know how you like to mess with me," Sanae retorted, a bit sarcastically and suspiciously.

   Kanako raised one hand toward her. "I know, but...well, let's just say, I'm a bit troubled right now."

   Now Sanae was curious, and managed to push aside her tiredness and even her urgent question. "What's troubling? There hasn't been anything wrong for a while. In fact, this has been the best early summer I've spent here!"

   The goddess chuckled. "You do realize we haven't been here more than maybe a year or two, right?"

   "Only a year or two? That doesn't seem right. It had to have been longer..."

   "Sanae, time is a strange thing. It's possible that I'm wrong and we were here longer, I don't have an exact time." Now Sanae knew that something was up. It's not normal for Kanako to admit even the possibility that she could be wrong. "But that's actually the problem. The weather's been too nice. I haven't sensed nor created any rain or winds, apart from a gentle breeze now and again for those hotter days. Usually early summer is supposed to be rainy to nourish plants and such, but there's been none..."

   Sanae could recognize how this could be a problem. "So...we might lose faith because plants and crops are dying of dehydration?"

   Kanako sat bolt upright, an indignant look on her face. "Goodness, no! If anything, they're happier than ever, they think I've figured out a way to rain their crops without an actual storm. Which means that moisture is coming from somewhere, but I don't know where. And to top it all off, " she added, leaning forward and pointing a finger at Sanae as if saying 'I figured out a major part of this mystery, but not quite yet.' "I can feel some sort of storm brewing...a BIG one. An unnatural one. We're in the calm phase. Youkai probably feel it and are deciding to enjoy it rather than cause major incident, which works out for everyone involved."

   The shrine maiden was more than a little confused. "So the crops are getting rain without rain...they're blaming you and as such are giving more faith...and the lack of storms means that an unnatural one will be arriving soon, since we've been due for one?"

   "Mmm, close. The unnatural storm has nothing to do with the lack of actual rain, but I can feel it. It's gonna be a huge storm. Suwako's a bit excited for it." Although it wasn't completely back, it was good to see that nothing was seriously wrong with Kanako, as her personality returned to normal. It might be the time of night, Sanae thought. She needs rest just like everyone else. At least now she understood why Kanako was troubled.

   The goddess returned to her pose from before, but this time resting her chin on her interlocked fingers. With a slight smile, she focused back on her...subject, i suppose you could say. "So tell me, what are you doing up this late at night?"

   Sanae had almost forgotten why she went to see Kanako. Any sense of elation at the thought of even more faith was suddenly brought to a halt as she was reminded. How could she forget something that important? Her face went serious as she began. She took a deep breath as sweat already began accumulating on her brow. "Well...it was a nightmare, my lady."

   Kanako gave a sarcastic look of sympathy. "Aww, did the big, bad shrine maiden get scawed of a wittle night terror?" She couldn't help but laugh at herself.

   Sanae turned a bit pink at this. "My lady, this is serious. I haven't been this freaked out since when I was really young and dreamt of being locked in a closet with man-eating produce..."

   Kanako raised an eyebrow. "What was this now?"

   Sanae only turned redder. She was starting to get irritated. "That's not important! Just listen to me! This is about you, Suwako...it's about US, alright?"

   Kanako's smile quickly faded. "Right...I'm sorry. Please continue."

   "So...I don't quite know where I was. It was dark...very dark...and misty. It looked like I was in some different world, like when I went to Makai with the Palanquin ship when it went to resurrect Byakuren. In the distance, the sky looked red, with black clouds all around it. I thought I saw something in the distance, some glowing point of light, and I started running towards it."

   "I don't quite see what this has to do with us," Kanako interrupted, slightly bored.

   "Please, just listen!" Sanae said, almost stomping the ground out of temper. "Anyway, so as I kept going, I heard a yell, so I picked up the pace, even though it didn't seem to move any faster. For some reason, I couldn't fly." This was a serious detail, since her ability to fly depended on her power to perform miracles, which was supplied by Kanako and Suwako, besides the faith she gathered for herself. She swallowed and continued, a few tears forming in her eyes as she formed the recollection. "As I got closer to the point of light, I saw three figures. It was you two, and some third person I had never seen before. One of you -I think it was Suwako- was on the ground, her back to me, and pulsing with some strange shadow-looking blemish on her skin and clothes. She...she wasn't moving. My gaze finally fell upon you two. The one was taller than you, with a halo over her head, and some strange-looking wings, even for youkai standards. Or was it a cape..."

   "Go on," urged Kanako, now fully drawn into the story. She didn't want any digressions, especially not about the finer points of cape identification.

   Sanae gulped again and continued. "She was dressed in white with red trim, her sleeves looking too long for her. The ground had signs of battle, but she didn't have a scratch on her. You were all bruised up. She...she had you...had you by the..." She made the motion of strangling at her own neck for effect. "You were struggling, but you couldn't break free of her one hand. Eventually, the same shadow seemed to overtake you, but you refused to lose consciousness. I tried to rush in to fight her off..." She was getting close to breaking down into tears. Reliving the nightmare was a much different experience than experiencing it the first time, she noticed.

   "Take your time, Sanae. There's no rush. Now, do you remember anything else about this attacker?"

   She shook her head. "No. That's all I can remember. Wait...I remember, as I ran up to her, she had a mask on...it had two small black dots for eyes and a red mouth that looked like some cross between a U and a V. But when she looked at me, someone...something...burst out from her shadow. It was this massive, pitch-black thing. It seemed feminine in shape, but its face was hideous, two bright, rust-colored eyes and a mouth with six fangs, three on each side. The thing also had six scythe-like blades coming off of some arms from within its cloak. They looked wickedly sharp. The cloak the creature was wearing seemed to blend in with the body, which just seemed to connect to the ground like a shadow. It also had two large, grotesque black wings, with bright green webbing. That's when the dream started to turn really bad." She took another deep breath. "The thing took a swing at me and missed, but while I was dodging, it moved over to your prone form. I guess the angelic creature dropped you. She stood you up somehow, then..." She started sobbing. "She wrapped her cloak firmly around you before you could respond, all six blades in the cloak as well, deep in. As I watched, since I couldn't turn away...she pulled each of her arms. The blades must have sliced right through you, like an iron maiden torture chamber...I heard you scream in pain, then fall silent. Blood dripped from the blades and the slots on her cloak, and she simply had a look of devilish pleasure from tearing you to pieces. Remembering that Suwako was still in danger, I turned, only to see the other creature take her by the arm. A strange rift opened behind them, and they disappeared into it. I was left alone with the demonic shadow. I wanted to run, to turn away, to get away."

   Kanako, eyes wide, suddenly got up and floated down to Sanae, who was staring at the ground, trying not to burst into tears. She embraced the poor girl. "Sanae, honey...stop. It was only a nightmare. It's obvious that it left an impact on you, but it was no more than a figment of your imagination."

   Sanae, instead of returning it, shoved Kanako away. "You...you don't even believe me! Kanako, I saw you die! You can't just shrug that off! You know I've had prophetic dreams in the past, after you made me shrine maiden."

   Kanako bit her lip. It's absurd. What could have the gall, let alone the means, to attack goddesses...and win? Besides, immortal beings such as gods can't die...right? Kanako's mind was still full of questions, but she didn't want to do any more to Sanae. "How about you just go get some rest? It'll be morning soon enough. Maybe you can relate it a bit better tomorrow, after you've had some more time to think it over?"

   Sanae wiped her eyes, and nodded. She was ushered out by Kanako, who closed the door behind her. As she walked back, she sighed. "That corresponds with Suwako's dream rather well. She was incapacitated, and remembered hearing me yell, Sanae scream, and then she gets dragged off...but she awoke in the same time frame Sanae did."

   "I know we've been accused of conspiracy in the past...but now it looks like someone conspires against us. Perhaps it would be best if, when that storm does arrive, that Sanae sit this one out. She has enough troubles already."

   She looked over the mountain side, watching the sun start to rise. She couldn't stifle a yawn if she tried. "I should probably get some sleep. After all, any day could be a big day here." She chuckled at a thought. "Well, at least it's more than that Hakurei girl could say. I bet she looks forward to incidents so she has something to do." She laughed a bit, but quickly enough her mind turned to sleep and the dreams she heard about.

You know, somehow I knew Koishi would wind up getting involved in the main story due to votes. I wonder how I knew...oh right. Dammit Koishi.
Also, it's all cool, LaserTurtle. Author (me) is not displeased with you.

TwilightsCall

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2013, 08:14:50 am »
Reimu/Koishi.


8D

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2013, 06:26:45 am »
Well, now it looks like the pairing will be Reimu and Koishi, but don't let that discourage you! If you REALLY want to see...uh...some other combo, then vote for it! I'm totally not desperate because the plot can't fully continue until I get your selections, and this totally isn't filler until then! Absolutely noooot~!

...

Anyway, next part!


Chapter 0.5
Falling Gloom ~ Tales of the Miko, the Baka, the Neko, and the Devil
Part 2: A Chill in Summer, Lost in the Breeze


   "Ahh, I love summer. Sometimes." A girl was floating in the lake, upon what looked like a miniature iceberg. "Only when it's not that hot out. Like today! It's just perfect." The ice was sculpted to be like a reclining chair, and she was laying back, arms behind her head, and one leg partially submerged in the lake, the other crossed over it. Feeling a bit off-balance, she whipped a hand around, and more ice formed on the side of the floe, balancing it again. She sighed, closing her eyes and smiling. "Got a busy schedule tomorrow," she mumbled to herself. "Gonna hang out with the rest of the gang. Hmm...Wriggle said something about how the games we play are gettin' kinda dull now. Our favorite game...tag...hah! As if that could get boring! What does she know? She doesn't even have good fashion sense!" She had to chuckle at her own joke. "But still..."

   Her train of thought was interrupted as she thought she heard a yelp from across the water. It wasn't Daiyousei... "She wouldn't be back yet. Her trips to the human village for random whatevers usually takes longer. Meh, not my problem," she thought out loud. "Now...gotta think of a new game...let's see...they said they don't like half of the danmaku games we play..." One could see the strain on the young girl's mind on her scrunched-up face. "Involving danmaku with tag wouldn't go over well, I'd think. I remember trying that, and flipping out and using Perfect Freeze when I got out." Suddenly her face lit up with inspiration, and she sat bolt upright. "Wait a minute...Perfect Freeze...tag...freeze..." She snapped her fingers in revelation, jumping to her feet with a slight flutter of her icicle-like wings. "Freeze Tag! Perfect! I am such a genius..."

   Immediately she snapped out of the sound of her patting her own back when another yelp - more like a scream - echoed out across the water. She turned and saw, to her chagrin, her three rivals in some sort of scuffle. Star, the one in blue, was already knocked out on the ground, and the scream seemed to come from Luna, the one in the yellowish-beige color. Strange...usually Luna's the first to get knocked out in their little fights. That was when she noticed a fourth in their group. She was tall and elegant, wearing mostly white with red. She seemed to be holding Luna by the leg, and fending off Sunny, the fairy in red, with her other arm. The strangest part was what looked to be a halo over the tall woman's head. Now curious, Cirno turned so she could get a good look at the scene, considering most of it was quite a ways off. She got on her tiptoes on the edge of the ice floe, shielding her eyes from the sun to try and get a better look. Suddenly, she heard "Let go of my friend, you big...big...JERK!"

   Cirno decided that, even if they were her rivals, she couldn't just watch fellow fairies get beaten up without demonstrating how strong they can be. It looked like those three weren't even putting up a fight! "If it's not one thing, it's another with that group. Troublemakers, that's what they are. Probably stole from the woman's bags, so it serves them right." Cirno couldn't convince herself of this. She knew something was up. As she got closer, the taller woman threw Luna in a perfect arc to hit Sunny and drop the three of them in a pile. Still infuriated, Sunny rose back into the air, and started gathering sunlight around her. In a bizarrely angry voice for the usually jovial fairy, she yelled "Sun Sign 'Aggressive Light'!" Flurries of danmaku began being hurled at the woman, in much greater intensity than Cirno remembered. Maybe because she was just watching them this time, instead of actually being the target. Of course, she was much smaller than the woman, so dodging was so much easier.

   That didn't stop her, though. With unbelievable grace in just a simple side-to-side dodge, she managed to not only weave through the danmaku, but emerge completely unscathed. Sunny just looked bewildered at her. The woman raised her arms laterally, and three orbs of shadow rose with them. Suddenly Cirno's eyes went wide. What the... Cirno thought, watching the shadows be converted to Dark Matter. Since when did shadows have eyes?! The woman waved both arms forward, and the three orbs moved at once, converging directly on Sunny, passing through her as if she were air, and staying rooted inside of her. She had a brief look of pain, before it subsided to lethargy and exhaustion. However, she stayed floating, determined to avenge her defeated friends. The woman raised her arms again, and this time they were shot out of her sleeves (or so it seemed), with the same effect, only a lot more this time. Sunny couldn't stand the barrage, and went down quickly.

   Now Cirno was moving even faster across the lake. I had to declare war on them in order to beat them all at once, and this woman just takes them all down that fast? Yeah right! Time to show her some REAL fairy power! It appeared as though her rivals being defeated didn't faze her, it was more a blow to her pride than anything. The woman turned to face Cirno as she flew over the lake. Now in clear sight, Cirno saw that the woman was wearing a white mask, with two small, black dots for eyes (How does she even see through those?) and a red mouth, shaped like a crescent with the open part facing upwards, but also pointed a bit, like an odd V. The woman raised two fingers, in a position she saw the bunny from the moon do once for danmaku, and she shot another shadow blob at her from her fingertips! Unfortunately, she was going too fast, and it hit directly. Now off-balance in mid-flight, she had no choice but to make an emergency landing in the dirt.

   Slightly irritated in being face-first in dirt, she hears the woman scoff at her and the sound of someone walking away. Scrambling back to her feet, Cirno boldly announces "Hey! I don't know who you think you are, but nobody just assaults fairies out of the blue like that!" This got the woman's attention, just like how Cirno wanted. "Well, except for maybe that shrine maiden...and that witch...and the other shrine maiden...but that's beside the point! We fairies are strong, and I'm obvious proof of it!" I mean, look at me! I am Cirno, the..."

   While she droned on, behind the mask a single eye rolled in irritation. This little girl is so full of herself. This should be easy. Finally fed up with her boasting, she interjects. "Look, I don't care who you are. I have a schedule to keep, and this doesn't involve you. It would be in your best interest to just stay out of my way." She turned to continue on her path.

   Cirno was now furious. She swooped back in front of the woman. "Did you just turn your back to me? Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, turns their back on me! You're lucky I don't just freeze you where you sta-"

   "Enough! I don't have time for this!" the woman interjected again. She raised her arms, like before, and a flood of Dark Matter flew from her hands. Luckily, Cirno was ready, and started dodging everywhere to avoid getting hit. She could tell getting hit with these things was bad, and she didn't want a first-hand experience with it. She returned fire with some of her own danmaku, beginning to force the woman on the defensive. One bullet managed to hit her on the red portion of her cape, which caused her to cry out in pain. Managing a smirk at finding what looked like her weak point, Cirno kept firing shots at her, trying to get her to dodge and knock her cape into a stray bullet. The woman managed to practically dance her way to having Cirno between her and the lake. "Begone, fairy!" came a yell from the woman. A few bolts of Dark Matter flew from her, and distracted Cirno long enough to get a good stream attacking her, a good three or four times how much infected Sunny. Completely in shock, Cirno was launched towards the lake, where she fell in with a large splash.

   The woman walked over to the lake to savor her victory, when suddenly the shape of a frozen lotus floats up on the water. It opens, and Cirno jumps out. "What, you thought that little attack would do me in? All ya did was surprise me!"

   The woman took a step nervously back. Impossible...that should have been enough to render the most devout spiritual creature under my power! How is she not even affected? I can sense it swarming her mind...or at least, what it can find of it...jeez, this girl must be a moron...

   Cirno folds her arms, a look of triumph smeared over her face. "Heh. I knew you weren't that strong. I am the strongest, after all." At this point, the word 'gloat' would be an understatement of the highest caliber.

   The woman regains her composure, and quickly thinks of a new plan. "Alright...I guess I'll just have to try more." With that, she snaps her fingers, and a couple dozen orbs appear around Cirno, cutting off any escape. After a few seconds, they all crowd in, holding her down, as the woman now used her entire form to spawn Dark Matter to plague the girl's mind. Cirno had to reel her head back from the attack, which felt only like dull thuds and the rush of wind. When it was over, and her captives also possessed her, she just looked around a bit, confused.

   The woman, confident that she had put down the fairy, had already begun to walk away. "Was that supposed to do something?" Her eye widened behind the mask, and she whipped around to see the fairy still there, as normal as ever. "I mean, I feel a little stiff, but otherwise I feel fine. Your attacks are weak. I'm going back to lounging."

   Thinking quickly, the woman raises her arm, turns her palm flat towards the ground, and moves it straight down. Cirno immediately plummets to the earth. Amazing...her intelligence must be so low that she isn't affected by the cognitive-dependent process alterations, yet her movement is completely restrained to my will...this will do as a suitable alternative. A good experiment. "I suppose coming here wasn't a complete waste of time after all," she muttered, only half-aware that she was speaking out loud.

   Cirno was infuriated again. "Who you calling pointless?"

   This time, the woman leaned down to Cirno's face. "You. You're pointless. A mere test dummy for more powerful creatures. You may be immortal, but you will amount to nothing. And, I put emphasis on the 'dummy' part of it. Your intelligence makes an inanimate rock look like a genius. Yet, that will only lead you to a fate worse than what was planned for you. You have no more free will, simply a free mind. Go ahead and wander about in your wonderland of blissful ignorance of which I envy you deeply."

   By this point, the poor ice fairy was completely lost. "I...um..."

   The woman held up her hand, and Cirno rose with it. "Save your breath." The wicked smile she put on under the mask could just be felt. "You're going to need as much of it as you can get" She then lifted her again telekinetically, wound up, and threw her back into the lake, Cirno screaming the entire way. With a chuckle, she turned and headed off into the forest to continue her war against positive emotion, with something new learned to aid her. She already seemed to be winning. Cirno, luckily, landed on her little ice floe. She could only hope that Dai would get back before the ice melted. Being paralyzed, she couldn't form a chilled breeze if she tried.



   The aforementioned woman was now wandering the Forest of Magic, without a single clue as to where she was going. "I told them not to leave without me. I know we have a schedule, but I'm the important part of the scheme. I just hope I can find them soon...being lost doesn't bode well."

   A fairy pulling back a branch suddenly let go, sending the tree limb on a direct collision course with the woman's face. She managed to duck in time, and in that same motion, she shot down the fairy with Dark Matter. "I just hope I can find somewhere soon, some sort of landmark." She sighed. "I hate being lost."

   Well, she wasn't lost, per se. She could sense the general direction of the cloud, and she knew her position relative to it, but otherwise, she had no idea where she was. She knew her destination, and simply wanted to reach it swiftly. That, and she really wasn't supposed to be off the cloud...but she didn't care. Nothing bad had happened, so she saw no need to confine herself. Besides, it is easier to spread Dark Matter in person than over long range, she found.

   As if on cue, she walked into a clearing, and before her was a huge mansion, in what she guessed was a traditional fashion. Certainly different from what she was used to when she was growing up, back when she was still alive...

   Her memories were cut short, as she notices a red thing curled on the ground just inside the mansion gates. She can tell it's a living thing, but she can't quite tell what it is. As she approaches, she can see some hair, brown hair, on one end of it...and two tails from the other? Looking more carefully, she sees two black ears on top of the brown hair...just who was this? She decided to go another step closer, not fully understanding why her heart was pounding, and her instincts were screaming out to her...but she still went closer, starting to conjure some Dark Matter just in case.

   As she approached, the ears moved up a little bit, on the sides of a green hat. The thing gave a long stretch, and slowly stood up, before stretching again like how a person would. The woman was in shock, oddly enough, at seeing this cat...person...thing just laying on the ground sleeping. Something was strange, though...She tried to take another step forward, accidentally scraping her foot against the ground, getting the girl's attention. The woman simply froze at her error.

   She slowly turned around in a very un-catlike way. Her face was soft and loving, even though they were meeting for the first time. She turned all the way around, directly facing the woman. Their eyes locked, the shorter one with a smile, the taller one breaking out in a sweat and twitching under her mask. I..I don't understand...why am I on the verge of panic? Alright...just stay calm...stay calm...

   The girl took a step forward, which prompted the woman to take a step back and gasp, hiding the arm creating Dark Matter. Her breathing escalated suddenly. Staycalmstaycalmstaycalm...stay...calm...don't let this thing control you...you're stronger than it...

   Then the girl did the most bizarre thing. She just made a little noise. "Nyah~." Short, sweet...rather adorable, actually...

   The woman's face was suddenly drenched in sweat. STAYCALMSTAYCALMSTAYCA- SCREW IT RUNAWAYANDPANICRUNAWAYANDPANICRUNAWAYANDPANIC!!!!!! The woman began screaming bloody murder, long and continuous, not even breaking to take a breath. The hand conjuring Dark Matter shot forward, pelting the area with high-speed bolts of the entity. She just wouldn't stop screaming, and eventually used her other arm to fire more. She was constantly backing up, and creating larger and larger spheres of Dark Matter to hurl. When she was almost to the treeline, she shot into the air, and yelled "Dark Matter 'Dark Star'!!!!!" A massive sphere of dark matter appeared over her head, growing larger and larger, until eventually she just threw it. It impacted the ground near where she thought the girl was, and she hit the ground running, quite literally, back the way she came.

   Back at the mansion, a door opened, and an elegant woman with nine fox tails emerged from it. "Cheeeen, where are you? I thought I heard a noi- HOLY..."

   All around the cat girl, there were craters, including a huge one that seemed to hit everywhere around her except for where she was. Upon hearing her master, the girl leaped effortlessly over the crater and ran to the fox, embracing her with a cry of "Ran-sama! We had a visitor! She saw me and ran off! I don't even know who she was, but she wore a mask! Her cape and halo were cool too!"

   Ran just stroked Chen's hair, and surveyed the damage. "Well, at least nothing was damaged. You're not hurt, are you Chen?" She shook her head no, a smile still on her face. "Good. Maybe you should come inside..."

   Chen looked up, confused. "But the weather's been so nice. Surely it won't rain, will it?"

   Ran looked up to the sky, watching a lone black cloud way off in the distance. "...Better safe than rained on."


I think I intended these two to be a bit shorter...oh well. Staying up late typing up stories tends to do that, I think.
Don't forget to vote for main protagonist and secondary protagonist! It's like election day all over again, but this time it's for people who you may actually like!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 02:46:43 am by an unmatched sock »

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 07:23:27 am »
Wow. There's usually at least one vote between posts of the story itself. Oh well, I expected there to be more opinions. Don't let that stop you, though, so vote!

Remember: Your choices are Reimu, Marisa, Yuyuko, Satori, and Koishi. First vote is for main protagonist, second vote is for peripheral protagonist.

Also note that this is the last opportunity you will have to vote: the next part is the main story!


Chapter 0.5
Falling Gloom ~ Tales of the Miko, the Baka, the Neko, and the Devil
Part 3: Heaven Eclipses Hell


   She slowly turned the crank, once, twice, five times, until it could not be turned anymore. After starting, a little tune was played, and the girl leaned back on her chair. The tune always soothed her. She looked out of the window, barred and high up on the wall, the sunset streaming in slightly. She loved the music box. It was a gift from her sister many years ago. It would always calm her down, and still does. She often stared wonderingly at the mechanisms inside, wondering how they worked just from turning one little handle on the side. Her favorite part was what happened when the catch on the top was released. In addition to being able to see more of the box, two little figures rose from the box, spinning and whirling. Their actions were opposite, yet similar. When one turned left, the other turned right. They would separate and perform on their own before meeting back in the middle to dance together before separating again, an endless whirl. The girl always thought the two figures to be her and her sister, doing a dance in the moonlight to the tune.

   She yawned contentedly. These were the moments in which she could just sit there and ponder in peace. She often thought of outside, meeting new people and finding new places, undiscovered or otherwise. In some ways she hated feeling cooped up. She never got to go outside. Well, that wasn't true. Her sister did take her outside once. Sure, the nice doll lady's house got burned down, but that wasn't entirely her fault. Even she knew not to just leave matches lying around! But still, no one ever visited her. Well, again, that's untrue. Although usually her visitors were just fairy maids who wound up down there. And they usually fled in terror upon seeing her. None of them ever wanted to play...She wanted to go out, be free, and do stuff. Sure, she was kept well entertained, but that didn't change much. Then again, her sister always told her that it was for her own good that she stays down here. Why would she lie? There had to be good reason. So, she dutifully stays put. Although, she could do with more visitors...the few they get never seem to want to see her.

   Just as that thought crossed her mind, she thought she saw something move down the closest corridor to her. Raising one eyebrow questioningly, she hopped up, stretching her wings, which she kept folded behind the chair. She walked cautiously down to the threshold and peered around the corner. Nothing was there. She scratched her head. "Strange...I thought for sure I saw something go down there." Still puzzled, she turned back to go back to the chair. The music box needed rewinding. However, further down the corridor on the opposite side, movement was seen again. This time she jogged towards that direction. She knew it led to a dead end, so she could ask this intruder what she was doing there. "I know I saw something this time," she said. She noticed that the blur looked like white and red. But the red was a different shade than the red her sister often wore, and the rest was white, not pink. As she rounded the bend, all she saw was hallway, with another hall branching off of the left further ahead. This hallways wasn't there before...it was installed to give the basement more room last summer. D'oh.

   After her moment of forgetfulness, she turned suddenly back around, trying to get another glimpse of the intruder. She was starting to feel a little nervous at some stranger barging into her house and creeping her out. It felt fun! This time, however, she didn't see the person. She decided that maybe if she waits near the music box, maybe it'll show up again. Maybe. That was when she noticed that she could hear the music box. That didn't make sense, it had already unwound. She raced back to the first hall, sliding a little as she entered it, seeing the tall figure standing in front of the table her music box was on. "Found you, hee hee!" she exclaimed. Almost immediately, her giggling cut short as she noticed something off about this woman. She was dressed all in white with bits of red, like how she was dressed in red with bits of white. The difference was that it looked more like a robe than her skirt. Her cape was also strange, but the most noteworthy thing to her right know was the gold ring over her head. She remembered hearing about things - angels, were they called? - that wore those. But they weren't supposed to be on earth, so why was this one here? And why was her back turned to her? Surely she was more interesting than her music box...although that was also interesting.

   Her exclamation actually did get the angel's attention, since she turned slightly. The girl was rapidly becoming annoyed with the woman for remaining so mysterious, so to try and alleviate the tension, she spoke first. "Well hello, I'm Flandre. What's your name?" She tried to be as friendly as possible.

   The woman didn't respond.

   Flandre had already begun moving to get a better view of the woman. Not getting a response made her angry and uneasy. Who was this stranger who just barges into other people's houses, and doesn't respond to a single question? How dare she have the gall to not talk! She got closer to her, and then realized that she was wearing a mask. Two small black dots for eyes, and a red mouth that looked somewhat like a V-shaped smile. The girl gasped, then immediately realized that that would seem rude. She had no reason to be rude to a guest...yet. So, she cleared her throat and tried again. "I said, my name's Flandre, what's your-"

   "Does it pain you?"

   Flandre was taken back by this sudden question. Caught unaware and not having an answer, she responded with a very genuine "Huh?"

   The angel turned to face her fully. "This. You're trapped in a room, locked here, unable to leave. Of the people you know, some only pretend to care about you, some flee in terror from you, and others flat out deny your existence. Does this not pain you?"

   The young girl was still at a loss for words. Trapped? No, she could leave when she wanted. She just does what her sister asks and stays put. She does care...and so does everyone else...right? Sure, the maids often avoid her, but no one has said she doesn't exist... meanwhile her mind was acting strange, as if it were warning her about something. It told her to run, get away, stop talking to this stranger. All she could think of to respond was an unsure "Umm..."

   The woman scoffed. "Obviously not. It was foolish of me to think you might have been able to understand." She turned as if to leave.

   "Wait!" Flandre didn't know why she called out. It went against what her mind had been yelling at her to do. She pushed those thoughts away. But just in case, she was ready to summon Laevateinn if the woman decided to attack her for some reason. "I'm just not sure what you mean."

   The woman turned back to fully face her. "Imagine. Imagine a world where you are free to move wherever you pleased. But nobody acknowledged your existence. No one knew, no one cared. No measurable space to confine, for the prison was the mind."

   Flandre tried to wrap her mind around the concept. Mostly only knowing this basement didn't help. "But surely there was someone out there who cared. There had to be someone..."

   "Not for me. Everyone either ignored me completely or made life worse. Just because I didn't even know who my parents were. Just because I was an orphan with no money to her name. Just because. Just because." Her voice sounded like she was on the brink of being angry or bursting into tears. "Every day of every year of my life, I was not noticed. No one noticed me gone."

   Flandre risked a couple of steps forward. "Well, I do have sympathy for you. I really do. But I just don't know how that is. I've got Remi, and Sakuya and Patchy and Meiling...and a bunch of other people.

   The angel turned away from her again. "Then you don't understand what it's like to be alone. To be truly alone. To be no greater value than zero." Now she sounded like she had lost, or was lost...she just sounded lost. Flandre was almost in tears for the woman. "I do not need your pity. Continue to fester in this hole in the ground." With that, she started walking back towards the entrance. The door slowly shut, and Flandre dropped to her knees, music box still clinking away at the tune. She sniffled. Her mind was doubling back on itself, questioning all she had known.

   Before the woman could take a few steps past the door, a cry of "Red the Nightless Castle!" was heard, and suddenly a cross of red energy appeared. She barely had time to dodge before a seething red-eyed, light-blue-haired girl in pink stepped forward. "What did you do to Flandre?" A maid in blue with silver hair followed close behind her.

   She looked at the two, and turned to walk away and ignore them. Suddenly, the maid appeared in front of her, cutting her off. "The mistress asked you a question. I suggest you answer it." Her voice was cold steel, but not without caring. The woman gave a short laugh, and brushed the maid aside. What she didn't see was the handful of knives the maid had drawn. Instead, a red spear punctured the wall in front of her, surprising even the maid. She simply said "Now you've gone and done it."

   The young girl cried out "What did you do?!" and willed the spear back to her hand.

   "Enlightenment. I taught her that she does not know what loneliness truly is." She turned to the panting girl. Behind the mask, she smirked. "And I told her of how you don't deserve her."

   This really got the girl angry. She threw the spear again, a perfect arc that would have skewered any living thing in the head, dashing its brains. The woman sidestepped and caught the spear. She saw the maid begin throwing knives at her, so she quickly dodged. The last few were deflected with the spear. This was a perfect distraction for the girl to rush forward, fangs bared, ready to battle. The angel, however, had another trick up her sleeve. She thrust her open hand behind her, and a rift opened. Odd mist began pouring out, and it looked pitch-black. She jumped in, and the rift closed. The girl began looking around, still wanting to tear her to pieces. Not only did this angel, a being known for its antagonistic views towards vampires, break into her house, but she even came in contact with Flandre without permission.

   Suddenly a voice boomed out from seemingly nowhere. "I assume you must be Remilia Scarlet, the self-proclaimed devil of Gensokyo. Yet, you lack perception." With that, Remilia heard a yelp, and turned to see the end of a few orbs of Dark Matter infusing themselves in her maid. She was down and out. Time was no longer on their side. The angel had said this without even batting an eye, and the rift behind her closed as if it never were. "I guarantee that Heaven has never been so prominent to you. Even though I'm the furthest thing from it."

   Remilia glared at her. "The last being I know from Heaven is a celestial who caused earthquakes. You two don't seem much alike."

   "Celestials? No, they're from a different Heaven. The one I hail from is all angels. I was sent back."

   "So what? Now you're out for revenge or something?"

   "Right. It was emotion that brought me back. I apparently had a lack of it. So, I'm using Dark Matter to steal it for my own use. Once I gather enough, I can just leave."

   "Then why attack us?"

   "Because. Your emotions..." as she spoke, the room turned darker. "...are the most pure. Devotion. The easiest emotion to harvest. I knew the only way to make it surface was to attack your home. The guard was put under easily. Sneaking in here was rather easy after I-"

   She was cut off as Remilia jumped her while she was talking. A few swift blows to the abdomen, followed by a slash across the face. As the angel turned to catch herself from her fall, the mask could be seen sliding across the floor. She lifted one hand to her now bare face as the young vampire advanced to continue her assault. The angel rose, and turned, one hand still to her face. Her left eye was covered with a white bandage. The other eye was strange: the sclera was red, the iris black, and the pupil was white. Her hand was to the left side of her face, and a single, glistening red drop started falling down the right side of her face. Now angry, darkness began to bubble around the angel. She lifted her hand off of her face, its expression changing from surprised to furious. She yelled and threw both hands forward, pelting the area with Dark Matter.

   Remilia was shocked momentarily upon seeing her adversary's face for the first time. She quickly dove around, dodging the Dark Matter flying haphazardly around her. She eventually returned fire, causing the angel to also have to dodge. Small victories, she told herself. Eventually she'll win.

   Between barrages, the woman could be heard shouting "Tell me, brat, how can you affect one whose fate is already sealed? You're powerless!"

   This baited Remilia enough. She pulled out a spellcard and read it, deciding not to use it. It didn't fit the situation. She then found the one she was looking for. "Scarlet Sign 'Scarlet Meister'!" As the blood-red bullets began pouring, the angel called a card of her own. "Dark Matter 'Miracle Matter'!" Dark matter swirled in her palms, and began to take shape. It formed a white icosahedron, with one eye like hers on each face. As the bullets in Remilia's initial shot came into contact with the substance, they merely boucned off and fizzled out of existence. She began firing wide arcs of normal Dark Matter, intending to cut off escape routes and end it.

   Remilia was being slowly surrounded, and while thinking quickly remembered that the angel dropped Gungnir. She willed it back to her, and wound up to throw it again. "You're so confident, you're nothing more than a freak! A zero!" She also intended to end this conflict. She released the spear, which flew forward, puncturing through the defense of Miracle Matter. She smirked, confident she won.

   As the spear passed through Miracle Matter, she too smirked. "Configuration: Ice Form!" she called. Miracle Matter then transformed into what looked like a giant ice cube. The spear froze instantly, and ice shards began to mix with the Dark Matter. Remilia, now being boxed in with ice fragments, and having lost her spear in a block of ice, could literally do nothing as Dark Matter infected her form. She could feel it in her mind, suppressing all charisma, joy, hope...only leaving sorrow and strife. She tried to force it to leave, but it was too strong. The ice shards stopped, but the Dark Matter continued. The stream was cut off, and Remilia landed on the ground, then fell over. The maid, now awakening, tries to rush to her mistess' aid. The angel, meanwhile, grabs her mask, and lets out another round of Dark Matter. They were aimed at the rest of the house, and they began passing through walls to seek their targets. "You're right. I am zero. I am nothing. And that's what makes me strong." She turned and left, walking out through the front door, the gate guard lying on the ground nearby.

   Inside of the mansion, a door opens, and a blonde girl steps out. She sees Remilia passed out, and rushes to her sister's side. Remilia put a hand to her sister's face, a last show of caring before she slipped entirely into the influence of Dark Matter. Her eyes looked hollow, and her skin and clothes were pulsing with shadow. Remilia's eyes closed, Flandre's became filled with tears. The maid, able to stand, picked up her fallen mistress, and carried her to her room for rest.


   Outside, the angel looks up at the sky, and sees a black cloud speeding towards the mansion. She flies up, still holding the mask. Upon reaching the cloud, the gate opens, and she walks to the end of the hall. "Hmph. I'm sure word will get out soon. Perhaps I didn't think the idea of personal Dark Matter usage through. Indirect possession from here will suffice for the rest of Gensokyo." And yet her thoughts turn back to Flandre. She sighs. "She's too young to truly know what it means to be alone. I too had a denial phase. But now she will know what it's like to truly be alone. After all...no one will know she's there anymore."

   By Remilia's bedside, Flandre sits near her. Sakuya enters with a cup of tea. Flandre speaks to break the silence. "How long you think it'll take for her to get better, Sakuya?" No response. "...Sakuya?" The maid sighs and turns to walk away. "Sakuya?!" She doesn't even turn around. "Don't you ignore me! Hey, get back here! SAKUYA!!" Flandre was in tears. Now one of the people she thought cared for her won't even recognize that she's there. And in her mind, all she could think of was the angel's words: 'Imagine a world where you are free to move wherever you pleased. But nobody acknowledged your existence. No one knew, no one cared. Of the people you know, some only pretend to care about you, some flee in terror from you, and others flat out deny your existence. Does this not pain you?'

   All she could see was that mask's smile.



I'm annoyed. Almost an hour of typing was lost just because I accidentally closed out of the tab when I tried opening a new one. How else are you supposed to look up how to spell "Laevateinn" without looking it up without losing your place? And now I had to retype everything I had.

Hatred.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 02:40:33 am by an unmatched sock »

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2013, 06:30:31 am »
Well, I guess that the current consensus stands, since I gave extended time. The votes were already tallied, and everyone already knew Reimu would be the main protagonist, with Koishi as the side protagonist! (Confetti and fanfare :toot:)

This will probably be the last commentary I shall type...From now on, unless a question is to be addressed, I will only be posting story.

I should mention, I plan little of the writing itself, most of it is improv. I just keep certain events in mind, and use those in whatever way I see fit. This can lead to a few errors. Don't be afraid to point them out (unless it's a minor spelling error or something.), and don't be afraid of giving constructive criticism! I'm pretty sure I'm not a very good writer anyway.

Anyway, without further ado, let us begin the true tale...


Chapter 1
Black Cloud in Clear Skies


   *pit* *pat* *pit* *pat*

   "Pacing's not helping either...ugh, what's wrong with me..." grumbled a young girl. Maybe it was her red-white outfit, with a red bow in her hair, but she didn't look much older than a teenager. She was walking around the front porch of her shrine, out of the sun, trying to determine why she felt like crap. She stopped, closed her eyes, and rubbed her temples. "Alright...focus...now, maybe this is food related, what did I eat recently?" She went over a mental checklist in her head of what she had eaten the day before. Nothing out of the ordinary, until dinner last night...She had gone to get grilled lamprey, she remembered. Although, if Mystia wanted to use lamprey as a weapon, she would have done so the first time against her, not out of the blue. She wasn't smart enough for that. No, it couldn't have been that...

   "Reimuuuuu!" A girlish, whining yell sliced through her thoughts. A girl who looked younger than the miko walked out of the shrine, remembering to turn sideways so her horns didn't get caught in the doorway for once. Wait, has she ever remembered to do that?! She walked up to Reimu, obviously distressed. "Reimu, my head hurts! I don't know why...Make it stop!"

   Her train of thought effectively gapped off the rails, she really had no choice but to listen to her. "Suika, you've had hangovers before. You usually just drink more sake, then fall asleep. Did you try that, or did you forget?"

   The little oni shook her head. "No, I tried that. That's what I've been doing for the past hour! It's only gotten worse!"

   "Well when was the last time you drank before that?"

   "Uh...I think it was only about three hours."

   Only three? She can usually last five, maybe six if she was heavily drunk before that...maybe some sake would help me feel better... "Are you sure? You have a habit of losing your sense of time...not that it really matters to you..." she added under her breath.

   "No, I'm sure it was three hours. After a-" She suddenly froze, and stood straight up, her arms rigidly at her sides. Reimu noticed this and rose an eyebrow curiously. Suika's eyes began drifting apart from each other like magnets with the same poles pointed towards each other. Still standing strangely still, she starts speaking in a monotone, robotic voice. "In three hours, one batch of sake in the maturation process is approximately between .00347 and .004623 percent mature." She shook her head, snapping herself out of her trance. She then grabbed her head and started shaking it again, a look of pain on her face. "Arrggghh! Make it stop make it stop make it STOP!!" As she yelled, she stomped on the ground, causing small tremors that slowly grew larger.

   Reimu had to fight to keep her balance as the ground began vibrating from Suika's little tantrum. She could hear the wooden boards creak and bend with every stomp. "Alright, alright! Just stop trying to break my shrine!" With small tears in her eyes and an expression of mental pain, Suika calmed down and slowly looked up at Reimu. She stammered a bit as she thought of a way to get Suika out of the shrine so she couldn't actually break anything, as futile as that could be, depending on the situation. "Alright, why don't you just go on top of the gate like I usually see you, sit in the sun and drink sake? That usually makes you feel better."

   Still holding her head, Suika nods once, and proceeds to the torii. About halfway there, her arms suddenly dropped again,  and Reimu could hear her spout "The density of sake is .98 grams per cubic centimeter. Since the density of water is 1 gram per cubic centimeter, one could theoretically make a raft out of sake, and if the two would merge, then the sake would float. It is 1.553 times less dense than packed dirt and 8.061 times less dense than steel." She stopped in her tracks, yelled in frustration, and punched the ground, creating a small crater, cracking the ground in all directions. She just walked on, and flew up on top of the torii as if nothing had happened. The top of a sake gourd could barely be seen from Reimu's angle.

   Reimu sighed. "And that's why I got you out of the shrine in a hurry." She decided against asking her for a bit of sake to make her feel better. But still, something couldn't be right, her intuition was telling her. Suika, becoming sober? That's less of a chance than getting that coin she found a few weeks ago back from Marisa. She also knew what this meant; whenever her intuition started going off, she would appear and tell her about something that she usually didn't want to hear. Well, two hers, actually. One was due any minute now. The other she could see inside already, sipping the tea she had prepared earlier. Reimu didn't even try to hide her disappointment as she walked in and sat down. "Of all people to be here, stealing my tea, when I'm not feeling well..."

   The other figure pulled the cup from her lips and fixed her hair. "Hey, it's better than her sneaking in here and getting it first, isn't it?"

   "I'm not sure which of you I'd rather be stuck with," she retorted bitterly, whether it was intentional or not.

   The woman made a tsk noise. "And to think you would have gotten used to me by now, since we've known each other for so long..."

   "Admit it, you're also affected." Reimu had enough of the side conversation.

   "Alright, yes. I am. I'm just better at putting on a false image than you, I guess. It's not hard to see what it is; the hard part is...well, figuring out what it is. Not even I know what they are. They just appeared, started to...what's the word I'm looking for..."

   Reimu was now getting annoyed. "Well? This could be serious, you know."

   The woman chuckled. "Well, for lack of a better word, they started infecting people. I could only see their darkness though, I couldn't tell you what they were, or what they looked like. Sort of like spirits, but almost a negative version of them."

   "So, vengeful spirits, then?"

   "Mmm, not exactly. They're evil, for certain, but not vengeful. They're not trying to all-out possess everything...but it's like some sort of mental plague." She put down the now-empty cup before rising and stretching. "Well, I had best be on my way. And so should you. Putting on this facade is giving me such a headache...a quick nap is in order, I believe. I'll just sleep it off..." As she departed deeper into the shrine, she could be heard complaining that "it's not like I do much else anyway..."

   Reimu shook her head before stepping outside. Although her intention was on leaving, her intuition told her to look left, and, lo and behold, a small dot was making its way to the shrine. It was approaching fast...very fast. She knew who it was even before it came into view. As she descended to hover a few feet off the ground, stopping on a dime, Reimu gave a very disapproving glare and simply said "Hello, Marisa."

   The teen witch, full of energy as always, jumped up so she was standing on her broom. "'Ey, Reimu! I'd ask how you've been, but I have some exciting news!"

   Reimu rolled her eyes, then got the feeling it would be happening a lot more in the near future. "What? Manage to finally steal a book from Voile without having to fight anyone?"

   "Well, erm, yes..." Marisa scratched the back of her head. "But that's not the exciting part! I tried the first spell I found, and I summoned-"

   "Summoned?! Marisa, if I go to your house and there's a Cthulhu running around, I flat-out refuse to help you. Go fight your own demons."

   Marisa cocked her head. "Uh...what the hell is a Cthulhu?"

   "Something Sanae told me about a while back. Some sort of demon of chaos. It apparently has a squid for a face."

   "Really?" Marisa pondered the possibilities of a squid-faced demon doing her work for her. She snapped back to why she was actually there. "Anyway, no, it's a book about some water spells and such. One of the few I can actually read. The first one I found was how to manipulate water into clouds and then into storms. I guess I'm a natural at water magic, ze! First try, I got a cloud up in the sky!

   "Uh-huh...right...Marisa, there hasn't been a cloud in the sky for weeks. Well, until this morning."

   "Yep! I made that cloud!"

   "And ever since that cloud rolled by, I've been feeling like crap. Headaches and such. I was about to go and see if I could find it."

   "Ah-ha! So you've seen it in action!"

   Reimu brandished her gohei, ready to beat the snot out of her friend. "What, you tried to make a cloud that would affect people's mental health?"

  "What? No, just listen! After I made the cloud, it zoomed off. I looked at some fairies, probably about to use danmaku to paint my walls with graffiti, and they suddenly just dropped, almost like they were dead! It kept happening further along the trail, affecting everyone! I thought it was great at first, like a new weapon to take down youkai with, but then I realized something."

   "I'm still stuck on the fact that you thought it was a good thing at all," Reimu muttered.

   Marisa ignored her and continued. "If it takes down all the youkai, then I won't have any to exterminate! That's no fun, ze! Now you get where I'm comin' from?"

   "I guess...but what are you doing here then?"

   "I tracked it all the way here. I need to take down my own creation." She assumed a false look of determination and sadness. "My own work of art must be snuffed out by its own creator...*sniff*...Well, " She dropped the act, and waved, before going back to her usual broom-riding posture. "See ya!" She kicked her heels against the broom twice, which then lurched and took off at ludicrous speeds.

   Reimu reached a hand after her, she wasn't done talking, but Marisa was too far away by this point. "She's not even going in the same direction that cloud was going in..." As she watched the small shape that was Marisa slowly become smaller and smaller, she felt a chill run down her spine, and a shadow fall upon her.

   "A cloud, you say~...?"

   Reimu slowly turned to face her next visitor. Although unusual, seeing this pink-haired blue-clad woman wasn't particularly disturbing...except this time, that is. She could sense her fury in place of what is usually her joviality. "Yuyuko."

   The ghost princess continued staring her down like she was the last dumpling in someone else's chopsticks. "I heard something about a cloud. I want answers."

   Reimu took a short step backwards; she had never seen Yuyuko like this! She had seen her get angry before, but this is more than that. This is a matter of dignity, or honor, or something... "Before that, I want to know something. What happened? You usually don't show up here alone."

   Yuyuko's gaze softened a little, and she turned away. Her anger was subsiding into disappointment and sadness. She turned back, looking even angrier. "That's private business, Reimu. Just tell me where it went, or so help me..."

   Reimu raised her hands in an effort to show she wasn't going to fight as she saw small glowing pink and blue butterflies swirling around her hands. "Look, I don't want a fight. I just want to know what happened. You don't look like you should be out and wandering."

   The butterflies slowly faded as Yuyuko closed her eyes. "...Alright. This cloud...there's something strange about it."

   Oh you don't say? she thought sarcastically. Instead, she chose the wiser, less likely to get her dead response. "How so?"

   "I think an angel lives in it."

   Reimu looked puzzled. "Um...an angel?" She shuddered subconsciously, remembering the first encounter she had with something angelic, deep in Makai...she still didn't like thinking about it. All those years ago...

   "Yes. You know, robed, has a halo and wings, that stuff."

   "Well how do you know?"

   The ghost paused. "It attacked us."

   "I though angels weren't malevolent, though?" She knew this couldn't be true, especially after her encounters, but she figured this would help get the story from Yuyuko.

   "Yes. Here, let me give you the scenario...It was only recently, I was walking outside in the gardens in Hakugyokorou, Youmu was off tending them nearby. I noticed, near the largest area of my favorite cherry trees, there was a lone figure. She wore a white robe with red trim, had a strangely shaped cape, and sleeves that looked too long for her arms, with red feathers attached to the sleeve with two blue beads. Over her head was a gold circlet, a halo. Her hair was mostly white, with red near the end of her hair. I was about to go over and introduce myself, when I saw her raise her right arm." She mimicked the action. "Suddenly, some of my trees lost many of their petals, and started drooping. I rushed over to her, and was about to ask what she thought she was doing, when a sudden shockwave knocked me back. My head was spinning for a few seconds, and I started hearing the sounds of combat. As I came to, I started to sit up, and saw Youmu attacking the stranger, who was shooting blobs of what looked like shadow from her hands. I knew Youmu could win, since even the speed of the blobs couldn't keep up with her. I took the time to notice that the stranger wore an odd mask, with two small, simple, black eyeholes, and an oddly shaped, pure red mouth. I saw her raise both hands..." Yuyuko paused again, bringing one hand up to her mouth to hide it. Reimu deduced that this was the part that had enraged Yuyuko. "She launched another volley, but it wasa feint. Youmu dodged, but in the opposite direction of me. The blobs made a sharp angle, and were about to overrun me, but Youmu jumped in to save me. Youmu was -sorry- She was flooded with them. She was fighting their influence, but even her willpower has limits. Eventually her entire form went pitch-black, before being unceremoniously dropped to the ground. She turned mostly back to normal, but small shadowy spots would appear all over her, even on her clothes. Then her ghost half, in her form, charged in to avenge its other half. However, without the human half, it isn't nearly as powerful. The angel caught the ghost half by the throat, and as the dark blobs were infecting it too, its borrowed eyes went wide in terror. I don't want to imagine what it saw or heard, being in direct contact, but it soon also passed out, with the same treatment. I rushed over to Youmu and held her in my arms. She was alive, but locked in an unconscious state. I looked up and, through the tears in my eyes, I saw the angel fly back through the portal, into a dark cloud, which then sped off in a different direction."

   Reimu didn't have a response. "Oh...well...I'm sorry...I guess..." For some reason, although this also aggravated her, she was unable to feel sympathy for Yuyuko. Something was cutting it off, somehow..."Look. You shouldn't have gone out for revenge so soon. You just left her there, didn't you? Just resting on the ground?" Yuyuko nodded, tears in her eyes. "I would suggest going back and taking her to Eientei. If anyone knows how to fix ailments, it's them. She needs you now more than ever. Just leave the cloud to me, I'll deal with it. Alright?" Yuyuko nodded again. "Okay then. Now go get her and take her to Eientei. Like I said, I'll deal with it."

   As Yuyuko turned to leave, between sniffles she said "Make sure you blast that angel to hell."

   "I'll see what I can do."

   That was all the assurance Yuyuko needed. She took off, back towards the border that separates the dead from the living. With that, Reimu had but one more visitor to take care of...one she noticed was there, yet had no time to address since Marisa showed up. Even now, she could feel the slight tugging on her left sleeve, threatening to pull it down. "What is it, satori?"

   "It's Koishi."

   "Aren't you a satori, though?"

   "No, Satori is my sister."

   Reimu sighed, and shook her arm away from Koishi. She must have nudged her hat, because Koishi was fixing it as she walked in front of her. "Come to tell me of some problem in the underground, or what?"

   "Mm, no, we're doing fine. Well, Okuu and Orin are sick, and big sis is all in a huff. I thought it would be better if I just walked around up here for a bit."

   "So apparently this plague reaches down to the underground as well..." Reimu thought out loud. She happened to do that more when Koishi was around, she noticed. Not that she ever really noticed when Koishi was around.

   "I felt an awful lot of emotions n' stuff coming from the shrine, so I came here to investigate. Whatever's happened to everyone else, I seem to be immune to it~."

   "That's nice, Koishi, but I don't have time to play. I have important things to do. Important places to go."

   "Reeeeeaally?"

   Reimu's irritation was spiking again. "Yes."

   "Reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaally?

   "Yes."

   "Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaa-"

   "Yes, Koishi, this is really, really important! It's another incident, and I need to resolve it," she said through clenched teeth.

   "Well, I was just gonna invite you to come to the beach with me, but if you don't wanna..."

   Reimu brought a hand to her forehead, relieved that she finally got rid of...wait a minute..."Did you say...beach?"

   "Yep!" Koishi was just as radiant as ever. The...whatever it is must not be affecting her, just like she said.

   "...Take me there. Now." Because there aren't any beaches in Gensokyo.

   With a look of triumph, Koishi clapped a few times. "Yay! Come on, I know a shortcut~!"

   Reimu rolled her eyes once again, and started following the skipping Koishi. She wasn't sure, but she thought she could see small hearts rising out of Koishi. Hopefully she wouldn't accidentally use "Release of the Id" while she was skipping. Maneuvering past that and then "Inflated Superego" as she tries to take it all back is too much of a hassle, especially now. Koishi lifted off of the ground and entered the Forest of Magic. Reimu stopped in front of it, not feeling the same energy she usually feels from it. Something is definitely wrong, she thought. Koishi's head popped out from the treeline. "Come on, slowpoke~!" With a sigh, Reimu lifted off of the ground and followed her into the forest, on her guard for whatever might spring out at them.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 09:48:53 pm by an unmatched sock »

TheTeff007

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2013, 01:50:47 pm »
I quickly realized a faceplam after seeing that Marisa created the cloud that made everybody gloomy. Really, that was hilarious.

And Koishi~ she really sounds like it would sound canonically! Which is awesome. GJ, sock.
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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2013, 01:21:11 am »
In case anyone has become a fan of me (for some reason), this is an explanation.

I'm awaiting some requested...items before I continue with the story. In the end, it will make it easier for both you all and me. Namely, for visualization purposes. However, I want these to be ahead of the story, so soon I will be updating, but it might still take a bit.

Sorry if you've been expecting something new recently, and have been disappointed with the lack of updates. I haven't forgotten, don't you worry.

Feel free to critique what I have now to offer suggestions for the future, if you so desire.

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
  • Should I be concerned? I think I should be concern
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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2013, 05:42:51 am »
   Well dang, it's been a while. Sorry about my disappearance. First life and school and crap caught up, then I was hit with a severe case of laziness. Anyway, after far too long, time to keep the story rolling!

   Also, my last post is kinda obsolete as of now, since I will not be doing what I had previously decided to do. So, on with the story!

   As usual, feel free to comment and critique my work.


Chapter 2
Beware the Forest's Mushrooms


   "Koishiiii!" A call rang out through the forest, disrupting the calm atmosphere. "Koishiiiii!" It was the shrine maiden's voice, without a doubt. "Dammit, where is that girl? I should have known better than to follow her." Thinking back on it, Reimu realized it was a stupid idea to follow the girl who disappears when you don't look at her to a place that you don't even know where it is. She was also perplexed, since some fairies in the Forest of Magic were aggressively territorial, yet she hadn't run into a single fairy, nor any pranks they might have set up. She quickly turned her mind back to the more important task in front of her: finding the young satori, and perhaps hitting her a few times for running off like that. "No, no, hitting Koishi would be a bad idea. I know what she's capable of, but Satori would't forgive me for it. Thank god she's not around to hear me..."

   "To hear what?"

   The sudden voice making Reimu jump, she quickly turned to find Koishi right behind her, as if she were there the whole time. "By the way, why did you stop?"

   "Why did I stop?! You were...wait...but you...ARGH!" On normal days, Reimu would have hardly been able to put up with Koishi's antics. Today, she had very little tolerance, but she was her best lead on this incident. She took a deep breath, massaged her temples, and tried again calmly. "Koishi, you told me you were going to lead me to the beach. Remember?"

   "Yeah, but you started walking ahead of me, so I started following. I figured you knew the rest of the way~!" The satori didn't even begin to realize that she was at fault for this, let alone that she was annoying Reimu, which most youkai know is something they shouldn't do.

   Jeez, I'm glad she didn't just wander off on me... "Just, please, lead the way. I don't know how to get to the beach."

   "Well, maybe you should get someone to take you there~."

   Reimu had to stifle her anger yet again. Through clenched teeth, she could just barely manage to speak. "But you were the one who was lea-"

   "Hey! What's that?" she interrupted, pointing further to the left than they were originally going, which led off of the makeshift path Reimu was following.

   Reimu caught the movement just barely, but enough to recognize the small stature and general direction. No doubt about it, this was a fairy. Beating up a fairy or two will make me feel better...I hope... "Come on, Koishi. Let's go investigate."

   "Yaaay! Adventure!" Koishi yelled, immediately taking off after the fairy. Reimu knew better than to lag too far behind her like she did earlier. However, after a few twists and turns, she lost sight of Koishi again.

   "Dammit! Not again!" She slowed down, looking around for any sign of movement. When she saw what looked like the same fairy (although to her, a lot of fairies look the same), she took off after it, drawing her gohei and a few amulets. It's a shame I don't have Koishi, or at least her durability. Oh well, I might as well walk into this ambush prepared.... This time, she kept the fairy in sight. However, it must also have seen her, since it turned and started to spray danmaku at her. Very weak danmaku, but one aimed well enough that if Reimu kept flying straight, she'd be hit. A slight shift, and a homing amulet later, and the fairy was careening into a tree. Before she could react, though, another group of fairies burst out from the canopy and began firing upon her. These fairies were also not very powerful, and were brought down swiftly. As the last fairy fled the area, Reimu couldn't help but notice something. Usually, fairies have looks of happiness or determination. These looked annoyed, but not annoyed in an aggressive way. As if someone were talking to them, and they didn't want to talk back to them. "Very strange...even fairies were affected by the cloud." She surveyed the battlefield, seeing another fairy near a bent branch, but this one wasn't shot down...at least not by her.

   Reimu cautiously approached the fairy, which didn't move. Occasionally, it would twitch, or a dark spot would appear somewhere on its skin or clothes, but nothing that would suggest it was a trap. She tried to use her native shrine maiden abilities to see if she could figure something out about what was going on. What she got was surprising; she could pick up slight traces of something holy! She couldn't feel it from the other fairies, but this one in particular seemed more affected than the others. "This...whatever it is, is obviously some sort of dark power...but then how could it be holy at all?"

   "Why're we staring at this fairy?"

   Once again, Reimu was startled by the sudden interruption to her thoughts. "Koishi! Will you stop doing that! I swear, you're going to give me a heart attack..."

   "Aren't you, like, a teenager or somethin', though?" Koishi innocently asked.

   "That's the point, Koishi. Now, if you would please continue leading me to the beach..."

   "Ooh! The beach~! Good choice for destination!" In order to prevent herself from strangling Koishi, Reimu gripped her gohei to the point where she was sure it would break, and slapped her forehead. "Hee hee~! I know the way from here, so just follow me~!"

   "How does Satori put up with this girl..." Reimu muttered under her breath.

   Koishi's path was random, to say the least. She must have led Reimu throught at least three spider webs (direct-hit webs to the face, even) before they reached a clearing containing a strange house in the middle of the woods. "What? What're we doing at Alice's house?"

   Koishi turned to face her without stopping. "This is the way I always go~!" With that, she opened the door to Alice's house, and walked right in. Reimu stood transfixed in front of the door, sure she'd hear the sounds of dolls brandishing weapons and a subsequent battle. When she heard nothing, she tentatively opened the door. First enough to peer in, then enough to take a step, then enough to fully enter. The house was dark and seemingly deserted. Reimu could see mudprints where Koishi walked, so she just followed them. They took her through her dining room and into a hall, where all doors except one were closed. As Reimu passed the open door, she happened to glance into it...and saw Alice sitting on her bed, in only a bathrobe, her hair still damp, looking like she was having a doll clip her toenails. The doll also turned, as if she were also staring. The two just stared at each other in stunned silence before Alice made the doll drop the clippers and close the door.

   Face still red, she followed the footprints through a window next to the back door, and there Koishi was, sitting on a stump and humming. "Koishi, what the hell?! Do you always go through her house?!"

   "Didn't it get you a little...excited?" Koishi replied, her hat at the perfect angle to make her look ominous, as if she planned the whole thing.

   "Excited? What are you..." Reimu started, cutting herself off as she realized what the young youkai implied. "No no no no no! You're the one who led me through Alice's house in the first place, so this is all your fault!" As she yelled, she could feel her face get even hotter.

   Koishi simply giggled and leaped back to her feet. "Come on, it's just a short ways to go now~!

   Reimu had no choice but to keep following her, if she ever wanted to get anywhere. After a bit of wandering, they eventually found an area that seemed incredibly overgrown, even for the forest. Strange mushrooms and even more bizarre plants covered the ground, making a path almost impossible to find. Reimu decided after a vine wrapped around her leg to instead float about instead of walk. Koishi had been floating since they reentered the forest. Eventually, they found an area with less trees, but the ground was still covered with strange plants. Suddenly, Reimu thought she heard a noise coming from one of the nearby trees, and in her moment of distraction, she ran into something that refused to budge, but it turned out to be only Koishi, who had stopped. "Hmm...I don't remember being here before..."

   Reimu was about to completely lose it at that statement, but another noise stopped her as she was bringing her gohei down towards Koishi's head. She knew it was coming from behind one certain tree, so she took the chance and got closer while Koishi pondered where she was. "Hello?" No response. Suddenly, a cloud of purple danmaku flew out of the shrubs near the trees! Reimu was almost caught off guard, and barely managed to graze it.

   From the bush, a youkai stepped forth. "Intruders! Turn back now!" She was wearing a brown dress, with strange shoes with no soles, and a red spotted cape with a skull brooch holding it around her neck. But her most noticable feature was the spotted red cap she wore on her head, like a mushroom. As she walked out, she crossed her arms under her cape defiantly, determined to let none pass.

   Which was the perfect excuse for Reimu. With a devilish smirk, she pulled out a few more homing amulets. "Try it," was all she said.

   The mushroom girl scowled at this. "You will not pass, humans!" She then spread her arms, and dark purple clouds began forming around them. "Now perish in my toxins!"

   Reimu waited for her to make the first move, which didn't take long. Dark purple clouds and danmaku were sprayed, but there were significant gaps. She began throwing her amulets, which made quite a few satisfying hits in the first few volleys. A few more waves of this, and the mushroom girl couldn't take it anymore. She switched to waves of danmaku, followed with a swift purple orb launched at where she was when the wave should have hit. Reimu switched from her amulets to her needles, and was about to throw the first few when suddenly Koishi jumped between them. "Hey hey! I remember now, we're going the wrong way!"

   The mushroom girl stopped her assault, and Reimu spun around from the momentum she was going to put into throwing her needles. "I feel like I've been saying this phrase a lot, but dammit, Koishi! You don't just run headlong into a danmaku duel!" Indeed, Koishi took a few hits from stray danmaku, shown by a few marks on the back of her shirt, but those were already clearing up, and she didn't even seem to notice she was hit.

   "Uh-huh...Well, anyway, we need to go THAT way!" she practically yelled in Reimu's face, pointing directly behind her.

   "So wait, you two...aren't trying to go further into the forest?" The other two shook their heads. "Well, in that case, farewell, humans."

   "Hey! I'm no lousy human! I'm Koishi!"

   "Uh...What's a Koishi?"

   Ignoring her previous comment, Reimu added "She's a satori."

   "No, Satori is my sis-"

   "Anyway..." the girl interrupted, "I have no problems with you leaving the forest."

   "C'mon, Reimu~! This time we'll get out of here!" Koishi said, already bounding off.

   Reimu started to follow, but was stopped by a hand on her shoulder. "Oh, before you go...in that direction are a group of hills...and if you happen to run into one like me...well..." She seemed to be holding back something. "Just tell her...her sister hasn't forgotten her. Alright?"

   The shrine maiden nodded, then went after Koishi. Luckily, Koishi wasn't going too fast, but she seemed to be going on a much more direct route. Within about fifteen minutes, they exited the forest, and saw an expanse of hilly land before them. Reimu was both glad and a bit pained to be directly in the sun again, but at least there was a nice breeze, and the lack of the Forest of Magic's strange miasma made her feel better. Shielding her eyes with one hand, now envious of Koishi's hat, Reimu kept following her, both of them again walking. They came to a hill with an overlook on it, when Koishi suddenly stopped. "Hey Reimu...random thought. Do you think that if music is played here, the hill will...you know...come alive?"

   Reimu looked at her quizzically. "What on earth gave you that idea?"

   Koishi just shrugged, but didn't resume walking. "Someone's here~! Friends, yay~!"

   "What?! How'd you know I was here?" came a voice from under the plateau. "I can't even see you two..."

   "Hee hee~! I can read how desparate you are to make an impression on us~!"

   "Hmph!" With that, a girl rose up from the plateau. This one also wore a brown dress, but she was barefoot and wore a blue undershirt. There were a few patches sewn onto the dress, and the shirt was stitched up on one sleeve. On her lavender-colored hair sat another mushroom cap, but this one was brown with spots instead of red, and she looked quite a bit younger. She looked uncomfortable being near them. "Wh-what brings you to the lands of the Youkai Hunter?"

   The name sparked a memory in Reimu's mind, of the Bunbunmaru that Aya occasionally gave her for no reason except to advertise and try to make her subscribe to it. On one, a fairly recent one at that, it stated that a lot of minor youkai mysteriously disappeared, usually being found some time later in the hills, obviously dead. They blamed what was called the Youkai Hunter, someone who was not only tracking down and exterminating youkai, but utterly killing them. Despite how devastated she would have been if it had been one of her friends claimed by this so-called hunter, she didn't pay any mind to it then at all. Now, it makes sense, as she looks around and sees the occasional bone or carcass baking in the sun. "So...you're implying that you're this 'hunter' you speak of?"

   "Y-yes, I am. These youkai died by the Hunter's hands. That's me, Rima Kinoko!"

   "Because...you look like a mushroom."

   "Well, I am. That doesn't mean I can't be a killer!"

   "Alright, prove it!" Koishi mocked, speaking for the first time. "See if you can kill me and my friend here~!"

   "Koishi!!!" Reimu shot a very irritated glance at her.

   Rima seemed taken back as well, obviously not expecting them to want a demonstration. "Uuhhh...umm...alright, but you asked for it!"

   Reimu sighed, and pulled out her needles again. Koishi cracked her knuckles, and the cords from her third eye began fanning out a bit.

   "Hah!" Rima yelled, growing a line of mushrooms straight at the two. The mushrooms then sprang up from the ground and turned into danmaku, heading in the direction of their targets. Some of them just barely missed, as Reimu made only small movements to better control the flight path of the bullets. Koishi made a large sweeping motion, easily evading with room to spare. Reimu began throwing her needles, which Rima could only barely dodge, and Koishi added in a few heart-shaped bullets with intersecting paths in her direction. Rima happened to notice these, and went right between them, where they wouldn't hit. However, that landed her right in a stream of needles. Reimu smiled at the shroomgirl's misfortune, and kept up the assault. After a few more volleys, Rima shouted "That's it, I'm using a spellcard!"

   She actually seemed to grow it out of the ground, resting on a mushroom, which she picked and held over her head. "Mold Sign 'Spore Cloud'!" she yelled. She began throwing huge bubble-shaped bullets, with a bunch of smaller bullets inside of them. After a short time, the smaller bullets were released, and dispersed like a cloud of spores. This continued until the bullets got to the smallest they could be. However, the pattern wasn't that thick, and easily dodgable. Koishi was having no trouble sliding back and forth between bullets, while Reimu used the opportunity to get close to Rima.

   Rima's focus was on Koishi, wondering just how she was able to weave so flawlessly through bullets, when she caught a slight motion from her peripheral vision. When she turned, she saw the shrine maiden darting towards her. Panicking, she threw a wave of brown bullets at her, but Reimu squeezed through them and got right up to her. "Call off the spell, and let us pass. NOW!" she yelled, pointing her gohei at the shroomgirl's neck. "Do it, or so help me I'll make you hurt for a week!" Rima could only stare back at her wide-eyed, not knowing what to do.

   "Symbol 'All Ancestors Standing Beside Your Bed'!" Reimu heard from the side. Apparently Koishi decided to break this card with one of her own. As if Rima didn't have enough to worry about with a pissed-off shrine maiden threatening her, now a cascade of lasers is falling towards her! She was already stunned from Reimu's outburst, making her an easy target. A distinct sound of a spellcard breaking could be heard as Koishi's danmaku practically smothered the girl.

   Once Koishi finally stopped pelting her with danmaku, Reimu could see that the girl was on her front, trying to stand up. The most she could do was prop herself up on her elbows. Some hunter she was. But still...poor girl, beaten to a pulp. I only wanted to threaten her to make this go faster... The twinge of guilt slowly growing, and now noticing Koishi was next to her (apparently oblivious to Rima's state), Reimu quietly said "Come on, let's go." As they turned to go, Reimu could hear slight sniffling behind her. Eventually, she couldn't take the feeling of guilt, and turned back to her. Rima, now almost to her knees, turned to the shrine maiden. "Another mushroom girl told me...that if I found one like her, to tell you this: She hasn't forgotten you." Now that she said that, she did notice that Rima's eyes were almost exactly the same as the other mushroom girl's eyes.

   Rima didn't say anything to reply, she instead turned away from her, and began visibly sobbing. "S-sis..." could just barely be heard from her. Taking this as a cue to leave, Reimu turned to catch up with Koishi, her heart strings being tugged. However, she could almost feel something tugging them back, and remembered the cloud, and the reason why she was here in the first place. As she reached the top of the hill where Koishi was waiting, she looked out and saw Gensokyo's new river, which branched off of the main one from the Youkai Mountain. Again, this wasn't here before. "Well, we're almost there~!" It's as if Koishi didn't even remember the engagement she was just in, or what she had done. "Ready to go down the river?"

   Reimu nodded, and the strange duo continued on their way to the beach, Reimu's only lead in this incident, and where Koishi wanted to spend the day.

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2013, 07:56:48 am »


Chapter 3
Summer Eclipse


   Reimu couldn't help the slight guilt at the treatment of the mushroom girl. Which was unusual, she never felt guilty about any youkai attack. Maybe the guilt stemmed from the fact that she wasn't the one who won, and instead got a worse beating than she would have gotten normally, if she resisted. Although she could have acted on her threat, her intuition told her that she could easily be pushed around, so one threat could have been enough. Of course, now she'll never know.

   She took a sidelong glance at her hat-wearing, oblivious companion. How did she wind up getting stuck with Koishi on this trip? Oh, right. The beach. Which shouldn't exist. "Hey Koishi, just when are we supposed to get there? I would like it to at least be today."

   "Don't worry, we're getting close~!" came the reply.

   Reimu's arms drooped at her sides. "That's what you said back in the Fore- what the..." Her attention diverted to something else unnatural: on the largets hill's crest, there was a gaping hole. It had to be almost a quarter of a mile wide, and even longer on the other sides. It was probably a good sixty feet deep, or lower. It looked like the ground was simply torn away from the rest of the land. In fact, that's the exact place she's felt something strange from for months now. Every time she would pass through that spot, the air would seem to shimmer, and she would feel dizzy. "Koishi, could you follow me for a second?"

   The young satori swivelled around, and walked over to Reimu in stride. The pair proceeded up the hill, towards the hole. "Stay here," Reimu commanded, and took off from the ground. As she suspected, the strange feeling in the air wasn't there anymore. Whatever was once concealed in the hole, it's not there anymore, which raised Reimu's suspicions. She floated silently back to Koishi, and the two resumed their journey.

   After another good ten minutes of walking, Reimu was finally starting to feel the summer heat and the sun beating down on her head. Much to her delight, ahead was a winding river, which seemed to go right to where Koishi was taking her. "All we need to do now is follow this river! We'll be there in no time, like I told you~!"

   "For once, Koishi, I'm fine with this course we're going on."

   Koishi looked at Reimu, wondering what she meant by that, then shrugged it off and proceeded down toward the riverbank. Soon they were flying over the running waters, and Reimu was enjoying the feel of the water spraying on her face. Luckily, they weren't troubled by too many fairies, although the ones that favored hiding in the water and jumping out at them proceeded not only to be annoying, but to thoroughly soak both girls. Before long, Reimu was instead shivering, and longing for the sun to evaporate the moisture from her clothes. She suggested they sit on a clear part of the bank, and it was while they were waiting to dry off when Reimu looked back to check on how much progress they've made.

   "We haven't gone very far at all! I can stil see the hills from here! What the hell?!"

   "Well, when we're following the river," Koishi explained, wringing out one of her third eye cords (Wait...they can get waterlogged?), "obviously we follow its twists and turns. We've come a long way, if we were fish or something."

   "That doesn't mean...Wait." She turned towards the river, but saw nothing except the occasional fairy or the shadow of a fish. "Hmm...I thought I heard something. Anyway, let's just try to follow a straight course this time."

   Koishi nodded, and the two proceeded onward, but at a slower pace. They hadn't realized how tired they were until they took a rest. The fairies seemed to be attacking less and less, until they simply ceased. Reimu took out her gohei, on edge for what might be ahead. Upon asking, Koishi said the same thing as before, so Reimu had no idea how much longer they would be following this river. The silence was quickly making Reimu paranoid, especially since one can't exactly create conversation with Koishi unless you're prepared for absolutely any topic and a change of topic at the drop of a hat.

   "Baaa dum." Koishi broke the silence, with two ominous-sounding notes. Reimu raised an eyebrow at this, then focused on where they were going again. "Baaaa dum." Reimu shot another glance at Koishi, who caught it this time, but didn't respond to it. "Ba dum ba dum ba dum ba bum  ba dum ba dum ba dum ba bum" The ominous tune continued from Koishi, and it was making Reimu sweat.

   "Koishi, stop it. You're scaring me more than usual."

   This didn't stop the young youkai, who kept going, slowly crescendoing until Reimu started glancing around anxiously. "Koishi, seriously. Knock it off." UInbeknownst to them, a dark greyish-blue shape was beginning to rise silently from the surface behind them...

   "Koishi, I'm giving you 'til the count of three to stop that noise." The two had slowed down quite a bit since Koishi started.

   "One..."

   Koishi still didn't stop, and the nagging fear was pressing more into Reimu's mind.

   "Two..."

   Reimu could feel her grip tightening on her gohei as her hands turned clammy. Whatever weird mind power Koishi was using to creep her out wasn't funny anymore.

   "Thr-"

   "Ba da DAAAAAAA!!!" Koishi yelled, throwing a small line of danmaku at Reimu. While Reimu screamed and panic-dodged, Koishi started laughing hysterically, clutching at her sides. Reimu's face turned bright red, and Koishi finally calmed down enough to speak. "Ohh...Yo-You should have seen your fear! Ahh, that was hilarious~."

   "That wasn't funny, Koishi! You really had me thinking something was going to happen. Anyway, let's just go."

   "Ok, ok. To the beach, then. Your face was priceless..." Reimu rolled her eyes, glad for once that Koishi couldn't remember much of anything. But still, she couldn't get rid of that nagging, creepy feeling that seemed to be slithering upwards, trying to drag her down into the water, never to be seen agai-

   She shook her head to clear these thoughts out. Being this close to Koishi for this long has certainly had some negative side effects, she reasoned. I just want to get this incident over with...

   The two kept going, Reimu pulling ahead slightly, not even noticing Koishi falling behind. She heard a splash and looked back, only to not see Koishi anywhere. She instantly thought she was trying to scare her again, and stopped in mid-flight. "Alright, Koishi. You had your laugh. Now come out," she called. The young satori was nowhere to be seen, but that wasn't uncommon for her. Reimu sighed. "I'm not falling for it this time, Koishi. I know you're just trying to scare me again." She heard a splash off to her right, but she couldn't see what it was that made the noise. She floated absolutely still, trying to pick up any type of noise. Her intuition was screaming at her to get away from the water, but she ignored it.

   She heard another splash behind her, this one even larger than before. She turned to get a better look, but all she saw was a flash of red and blue-gray, and what looked like an odd fin, and the next thing she knew, she was underwater! Whatever had her had immense strength, and she wasn't used to underwater battles. It seemed to be pulling her away from her destination, and more frighteningly, the surface! Thinking quickly, she found a few needles, and proceeded to jab them into the creature's back. It writhed, and began swimming faster...and deeper. She pulled out a spellcard, her consciousness slipping fast. Her mind rang with its name: Spirit Sign "Fantasy Seal"!!! Multicolored orbs sprang to life from her form, and she felt whatever it was let go. The orbs all followed, condensing onto one point, and exploded.

   Despite this victory, she felt so far from the surface, and the air was escaping from her lungs quickly. She could feel herself starting to black out, when she felt another force help raise her. This filled her with hope, and the surface rushed to greet her. Once her head was back above water, she took the largest and most fulfilling gasp of air in her life, After she was breathing mostly normal again, she realized she wasn't treading water; something was holding her. She weakly turned her head, to see bright red hair and a pair of eyes that blended into the water behind a pair of goggles. She shifted her weight, and used the now-free hand to move the goggles off of her eyes, resting them on her forehead. "You alright there?" she asked, her voice not sweet, but not exactly rugged either. She looked like she was only a few years older than Reimu.

   "Uh...yeah..." Her mind still sorting out the fog of adrenaline, it stumbled on one crucial fact, and she felt a little more revitalized. "Hey, we need to get...out of the water! there's something...else here with us!" She punctuated this with a couple of coughs.

   "You're in no real condition to talk right now, let alone swim or walk. I'll take ya back to where I set up shop; I can explain myself when you're ready." Reimu thought she noticed something odd when the girl was talking, but put it off for now. A shop could mean food, and she felt really hungry right now for some reason. So, she nodded. The other girl smiled at her compliance. "Don't worry, I'll make sure to keep your head over the surface. We'll be there in no time."

   The last line sparked another memory in Reimu's mind. "Hey...you haven't happened to see a youkai with a wide-brimmed black hat around, have you?"

   She thought for a moment, slowing their pace so she could think. "Can't say I have, sorry."

   The next few minutes were a daze to Reimu, who still seemed to be in shock that she almost drowned, or worse, was dragged underwater by some youkai to be drowned and eaten. She could see in the distance what looked like a wooden stand, with some stools outside of the counter, under a small roof. It looked like a bar. "Well, here we are. One sec, and I'll hoist you back onto land...you go and take a seat. I'll be right with you." With obvious effort, she lifted Reimu out of the water so she would be sitting on the shore. She walked the rest of the way, while the other girl dove back beneath the river's surface. She walked over to the bar, which only had one person all the way down on the end, drinking out of a strange, swirly straw. Reimu noticed a hat, strange wires around her, and strangely long sleeves...

   "Koishi?!"

   The girl turned towards the one addressing her, then smiled and waved while still drinking. "Where the hell have you been?! All of a sudden you just vanished on me- AGAIN! I don't know what your problem is..." Reimu glanced at Koishi's sealed third eye. "Well, that's not entirely true," she quickly added, "but that's not the point!"

   Koishi finally stopped drinking, and set the glass on the counter. "Well, you see..."

   But before she could begin, she heard a splash from the river, which was awfully close to the counter, she now noticed. Out of the river stepped the same girl who carried her back to the stand, with bright red hair. Now, she could get a good look at what her savior truly looked like. She wore a plain white dress with a dark blue jacket overtop of it, which looked a little too big on her body, but the sleeves looked rather slim. From the angle, she could see what were probably red stripes across her back. Most peculiar, however, were her feet; when she stepped onto land, instead of feet were flippers, like she had seen for sale at Kourindou sometimes, except these looked...real. Now that she noticed it, her fingers had webbing between them that would make it easier for swimming...

   "Sorry that took so long. Just had to leave myself a reminder back home." She walked up to the counter, resting her elbows on it. Despite the flippers looking more awkward than actual feet, she seemed to have no problems walking with them. "So, what can I get ya, miss...?"

   "Reimu Hakurei. I'm surprised you haven't heard of me." That sounded much more pretentious than she meant, but she was still annoyed at Koishi for ditching her for a stupid drink.

   The woman seemed a bit shocked at this, and blinked a couple of times, as if not sure if her eyes were deceiving her or not. "You're the Reimu Hakurei? The shrine maiden? Wow, I guess you look a bit different when you're soaking wet underwater, huh?" With this joke, she smiled, and Reimu noticed her teeth were all sharp. Her gut was telling her that something was definitely wrong here, but this time she listened.

   "Yeah...so, what's your name? And what exactly were you doing that you could come to my rescue so quickly?"

   "Oh! Where are my manners. I'm Kuhai Hoshokusha, owner and proprietor and only employee of my humble business right here. This is a stand for drinks, mixed or otherwise." She pointed to a board with the names of various drinks and their ingredients listed. There were mixing suggestions under almost every entry. "What'll you have? First one's on the house. Oh, I need to get something, too, one sec."

   "Yeah, well, you still didn't answer my..." Reimu's voice trailed off as she saw what is probably Kuhai's most notable feature: the large shark fin on her back. "Hey!"

   Kuhai quickly stood up, holding a couple glasses and a container used for shaking drinks. "What?"

   Reimu was already in a battle stance, holding several amulets and her gohei. "You're that thing that grabbed me earlier! I hope you have good reason for it, or you're gonna pay!"

   Kuhai sighed, then set down everything she was holding. "I do have good reason. Predators have to eat, and human isn't exactly bottom-barrel food scraps. I rarely partake in human consumption, so I figured I could indulge. I've seen quite a few humans with the ability to fly, most from that human village. One was even dressed sorta like you."

   Reimu's already grim face only became angrier. "You haven't convinced me yet."

   "I only ever attack humans with little or no power. No sense in wasting my energy in a struggle. Usually I do what I was doing with you: pull them underwater and wait until they stop moving. When you stabbed me, I thought nothing of it. Some humans I've taken even had swords, and I still won. It was that spell card of yours that tipped me off that you were powerful. Even after taking the hit, I realized I had to get you back to the surface so you could live. I didn't realize my mistake could have been so...drastic, had I not realized, or if you didn't act fast enough. I am, truthfully, sorry about this." She was back to resting on the counter, making direct eye contact with Reimu.

   The shrine maiden lowered her weapons, buying the shark's story. "Alright. But how did you find Koishi?"

   "Oh, she's who you meant? Huh, strange that I forgot her...Anyway, I saw her flying around, going in the opposite direction from you, and offered for her to come here. She accepted, and I got her a drink, then went back out and found you. Oh yeah...first drink's already free, as a promotion. And both because you're the Hakurei maiden and I...y'know...almost killed you, you get another two free drinks. Redeemable anytime."

   Reimu practically grimaced at her business tactics. She also noticed that her right arm was down below the counter, not resting on it. Kuhai seemed to be focusing, as if waiting for something. "Everything alright there?"

   "Yeah, just wait...one...Ha!" the shark yelled. Reimu looked over the counter, only to see Kuhai's arm was stretching all the way from the counter to the river! In her hand was a fish, struggling out of the water, being pulled by her arm, until it assumed a normal length. Kuhai smiled at the fish, which had to be a good foot and a half long, before moving it closer to her mouth. Right before the bite, however, she caught Reimu staring at her. "Should I wait 'til you leave?"

   "Your arm..."

   "What about it?"

   "It went from here to the river..." Reimu pointed weakly at the water, unable to comprehend how her body could do that. She had seen youkai take beatings that would leave ordinary humans little more than pulp and ash, but never had she seen one with a rubber body.

   "Well, since I was denied one meal, I got another. Gods have to eat too..."

   "Wait wait wait, you're a god?"

   "Former god. I gradually kept losing faith, so now I guess I'm just a regular youkai, like her," she pointed at Koishi with the fish. "One legend was that I had red hair. Obviously, true. Another was that I was over fifty-five feet long. That's not true, but that's about the extent I could, say, stretch my arm or my torso. It would be uncomfortable, though.

   "Right...well, let's go, Koishi."

   "By the way, if you don't mind me askin', where were you two heading?"

   "We're going to the beach~!" Koishi said, the first thing she's spoken since they got there."

   "Beach, eh? Well, you two were going the wrong way. It's further east. You can still follow the sun, it hasn't reached the highest point yet."

   Reimu slowly turned to Koishi. "Wrong...way?!" To which Koishi laughed nervously and shrugged.

   "Well, we won't lose our way now, let's go!"

   "And don't forget to tell people about this place! I could use some more business!" Kuhai called after them.

   Reimu turned back shouting "Sure thing," only to be greeted with the sight of the shark swallowing the fish whole. She shuddered at the image, realizing that she could have been in the fish's place...and she silently thanked the gods that she was who she was.

   Proceeding the correct way down the river, the journey wasn't too boring with stray fairy attacks, but it wasn't exactly exciting, either. After about twenty minutes, she figured the sun's approximate location, and was baffled at how it could still be technically morning. Her worries about time were quickly washed away as they finally arrived at their destination. Koishi yelled in joy, and ran straight for the waves, running along their edge, splashing the water with every step. Reimu was completely absorbed by the sights of sparkling sand and water, the roar of the waves, the scent of the salt air...she was overcome. She had practically forgotten why she was there. "It's...beautiful."

   A sigh rang out next to her. "Isn't it? Just gorgeous~." Reimu jumped from the new arrival, a rather tropical-looking girl with a flower she's never seen behind her ear. Her hair and eyes were both teal, like the ocean. Yet, she had a gentle face, like the sun in the early morning. Her dress could be considered anything but tropical; it looked more like a dancer's dress than summer attire. She was also about as tall as Reimu. "Oh, sorry. Did I scare you? Everyone seems to be on edge ever since that cloud went by."

   "Cloud?" Reimu mused, trying to remember. "Cloud...Oh! That's right! It apparently went here, but...I have no idea where it went from here. Dang...so close and yet so far..."

   The girl giggled and started walking slowly forward, spinning gracefully a few times. The sunlight practically bounced off of her, making the scenery even more gorgeous. "By the way, I'm Yoake Ensosha. I don't think we've met. I'm what some people might call the "Embodiment of Summer", but I prefer being called the Pirouette of the Dawn. I guess I'm just a morning youkai, tee hee~!"

   Reimu thought that her behavior was just plain weird, that such a friendly youkai could exist without some sort of drawback. Yet, even with this girl's sunny disposition, she could feel something wrong...and whatever it was, it was approaching fast. She looked back and forth, but couldn't find Koishi. Only to realize she somehow got behind her, and started drawing hearts with eyes in them in the sand.

   "So," Yoake continued, "you said you wanted to know where the cloud went? Well...I can tell you~."

   "Really? Well, where is it? I really don't have time for games." She wanted to hurry this up; the longer she stayed, the worse she was starting to feel as whatever was ailing her was now acting up again, either from this girl's likable attitude, or whatever danger she could feel was coming up.

   "Ok then. It went..." But before she could finish, the ocean erupted, and one of the most bizarre things Reimu's ever seen came out of it. It looked like a big black orb, about one and a half times the size of her head, its surface constantly shifting. Behind it there was a ring of much smaller orbs, attached to its back like flower petals, which were turquoise in color. It had one huge eye, with what looked like two irises. The inner one was yellow, and the outer, which looked like the sun, was the same color as the petals. It looked between the three on the beach, before fixing its gaze on Yoake. As its eye settled on Reimu, she started feeling grumpier to the point of being sick. These things were connected somehow, but Reimu didn't get much of a chance to act on it. It charged directly at Yoake, who didn't even have time to respond with danmaku.

   Reimu expected to hear the noise of impact, but instead heard something far different. She heard Yoake scream, and then the creature phased into her. Yoake started struggling against something, and a dark aura could be seen around her. This closed on her, clinging to her skin and clothes, and slowly she stopped moving. Once the last bit of the visible aura vanished, she turned back to the other two. Koishi was watching around Reimu, who had drawn her amulets and gohei once again. Yoake's movements, at first very fluid and graceful, were now blocky and forceful, as if her body wasn't her own anymore. Her eyes opened, but now they were the same yellow as the orb's, and the pupils were horribly contracted.

   "Human and youkai. Your efforts are in vain, and you should turn back now, while you still have the chance." It sounded like Yoake, but the words were not her own. "I will show no mercy if you do not comply."

   Reimu was looking for an excuse to fight since she didn't get to actually duel Kuhai earlier. This was just what she needed. "Well, we don't want to comply. We have a counter offer, actually. You surrender, and take us to your boss, right now!"

   The possessed Yoake scowled, displeased that its warning wasn't heeded. "Then you shall perish on this beach, and we shall continue as planned!" With this, Yoake started making movements to send rings of danmaku out from her. It wasn't much, but it was enough to force the pair to move. Koishi used her one attack that launched curtains of bullets, with one blue bullet acting as a target marker, and Reimu launched her homing amulets. Within seconds, Yoake was forced to the defensive. She could only fire when she had the chance, which wasn't often. Even a borrowed form can only take so much punishment, though. So, Yoake tried to call a spellcard. The first one she pulled out was shot right out of her hand, so she backed off a bit to get more room for declaration.

   "Sunlight sign 'Burning Pirouette'!" After the card disappeared in a flash, Yoake began dancing a dance with many spins in it, slowly getting faster. With each complete revolution, a wave of triangular bullets was launched at the two. They had little problems dodging through the waves, but Yoake's constant movement was making it difficult to pin her down for a good strike that will call off the card. Koishi seemed to have an idea, though, as she cut off her attack and began getting closer to Yoake. Reimu had no idea what she was up to, and probably didn't want to know. Yoake seemed completely focused on Reimu, luckily.

   As Koishi got behind Yoake, she declared, of all cards, "Instinct 'Release of the Id'~!" Yoake's card was nullified, and heart-shaped bullets now began pouring out of Koishi in all directions. Reimu was smart enough to back out of its field of influence, but still kept a close eye on the two. From out of the cloud, she could hear Koishi yell "HUUUG!!" and start chasing the possessed summer youkai around.

   "You imbecile! Get away from me! I didn't know my mission would involve going up against you!" Yet, Yoake's natural grace enabled her to move between most of the bullets. Koishi chasing after her didn't do much to change the situation, and Yoake seemed desperate to not make contact. Reimu couldn't blame her, honestly. A few pained shrieks and playful yells later, the hearts finally began to disperse, as Koishi's spell runs out.

   Despite Yoake looking pretty beaten up already, she still wasn't giving up. She pulled out another spellcard, this time infused with shadows. "You will pay for causing me this indignity! Eclipse 'Cold Sun'!" This doesn't sound like one of Yoake's spells, Reimu thought, especially with the sudden spike of irritability she felt. This only happened whenever it felt like the other creature had more influence over Yoake's actions. As the card vanished, a shadow passed over the sun, causing the area to become much darker. From the eclipse, rings of sunlight started flying at Reimu and Koishi, focused more on Koishi this time. Black lightning started arcing from Yoake, which seemed very unnatural. Reimu took this opportunity to switch to her needles, flinging as many as she could.

   Slowly, Reimu worked Yoake's strength down until a distinct *SNAP* filled the air. The spell broken, the eclipse began vanishing, until everything was normal again. Yet still, Yoake wasn't done, she tried once more to hurl danmaku, only to be hit by another salvo of needles. Light began pouring out of the poor summer girl as she and the other creature were forcefully separated. Yoake was now unconscious on the ground, and the creature was speeding across the ocean. "Koishi, follow me! We're chasing after that thing!"

   Sure she had found a lead, Reimu began following the mysterious thing over the ocean, Koishi following close behind, excited to be on more of an adventure than she had expected. With any luck the thing will lead the duo right back to where it came from, which, as Reimu was assuming, would be that black cloud. It is time to put an end to this incident, once and for all!

I think I need to work on battles in story format. I don't think I did this one justice. I'll try harder next time. Feel free to comment, if you wish, as usual.

TheTeff007

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2013, 02:07:31 pm »
The entire scene with Kuhai just seemed hilarious when you picture it~

Great Job, as always
Small Teaser of my upcoming project~

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2013, 06:55:37 am »
I'm on a roll with these updates! But I should try to not lose sleep writing them.


Chapter 4
Gensokyo's Nonexistent Sea


   Turquoise danmaku and black lightning filled the air over the mysterious ocean, as Reimu and Koishi chased the strange shadowy creature over the waves. The pitch-black thing stood out against the bright blue of the sea, so it wasn't hard to keep track of, but it was strategic in its attacks. Instead of waves of bullets, it would shoot screens of them with lightning between them to try and block their vision. However, the screens weren't thick enough to deter the duo, who flew through them with ease.

   "Damn, this thing's fast!" Reimu cursed, trying to pick up the pace to keep up with it. Despite being able to see it easily, having to dodge every few seconds keeps putting precious distance between them. The occasional ocean fairy didn't help either, until she noticed that a few of them were jumping out of the water to ambush the shadow. In fact, it seemed to be having a harder time with the fairies than she did. She looked at where she thought Koishi was, but, once again, the satori was gone. Reimu rolled her eyes, focusing on the more important objective: finding where the shadow came from. She had turned just in time; an arc of black lightning was just about to hit her. After searching the waves for a bit, she found her quarry, and the chase was renewed.

   Reimu noticed that the further they went, the foggier it seemed to get, too. It was very slight at first, but it quickly built up to the point where she had to fly close to the thing to keep it in sight. It turned, its single eye focusing on Reimu, before shooting a much wider screen, intended to make her dodge. She did, and caught the tail end of it as it splashed into the ocean! "Oh no! No no no no!" She kept flying forward, hoping she would catch a glimpse of it again. She saw a shape ahead in the fog, and her eyes lit up. She hadn't lost it after all! She just had to keep going, and then she would eventually- "Koishi?!"

   Koishi turned, at first confused, then donning a bright smile replied with "Hiya, Reimu! When'd you get here?"

   Reimu held up her index finger in a gesture to wait a moment. She turned and flew about twenty feet away from Koishi, enough so she would still be able to see her through the fog, and yelled furiously. At the sky, the fog, the ocean, herself, just to vent. She flew back to Koishi, face downcast and arms hanging. Part of her wanted to just stop flying and fall into the ocean, but she knew that she had an incident to solve. She was about to motion to Koishi that they should move on, but Koishi was staring off into the fog again. "Hey Reimu, what's that over there?"

   At first, the shrine maiden couldn't see anything where Koishi was pointing. She squinted, and could see something very faint, off in the distance...perhaps a lantern? Her senses were on red-alert, the river shark still on her mind. She wouldn't be caught by surprise again, she reasoned, drawing her gohei. "This time, let's be a little more prepared," she mumbled, before taking out two little glowing orbs. She threw them to her sides, and they grew to double the size of her head, then stopped glowing to reveal their yin-yang pattern.

   "Ooh, these look neat! Have you always had them?" Koishi asked, obviously forgetting when they fought at the Moriya Shrine. Reimu was getting tired of Koishi much faster than earlier, perhaps because she was spending so much time with her. Koishi reached a finger forward to try and touch one, but Reimu slapped her hand away.

   The strange light was getting closer, and something was starting to become visible through the fog. Whatever it was, it had a short stature, and was holding the lantern above its head, by the looks of it. Reimu set her orbs to automatically shoot needles, before drawing some normal amulets herself, ready to beat back whoever was coming. Koishi kept looking at the orbs, before deciding she wanted familiars floating around her too. Two red hearts appeared at her sides, each with an eye in the middle of them. Unlike Reimu's yin-yang orbs, which hovered in place, Koishi's familiars were bouncing around an invisible sphere, much like a spell card of hers that Reimu would rather forget.

   The light kept approaching, until the figure was merely a silhouette. It stopped in front of them, then turned and started going in the other direction, but slowly. "C'mon Reimu, I think it wants us to follow it!"

   Reimu looked at Koishi in disbelief. "You do realize it's a trap, right? A mysterious light in the midst of thick fog? I think we should just keep going...whatever direction that might be in." She sighed. "It's a shame we lost sight of that blob-thing. By the way," she added, turning to Koishi. "Where did you wander off to while I was chasing tha-" Koishi was bounding off after the figure with the light. Reimu gave another exasperated sigh and a "Dammit, Koishi" before flying off after her to make sure she doesn't wander off too far. "I'm not sure why I'm going after her. I don't care for her anyway...I should just let her go off."

   So, she followed Koishi, but the light had all but disappeared. "Come out, come out, wherever you aaare~!" Koishi called to the fog.

   "Obviously, they're not going to respond."

   "Come on! We promise we won't hurt you~!"

   By now, the two had stopped, and Reimu folded her arms. "Well, I can't make that promise." A coil of mist brushed her leg, and she shook it off.

   "Hellooooooooo~!" Koishi called again.

   Reimu shook her head, and reached down to brush off another coil of mist. But this time, she felt something else, lightly grabbing onto her leg. Horrified, she looked down to see a blonde girl in a blue nightcap about to take a bite out of her calf! Reimu screamed in surprise, and bashed the girl in the head with her gohei. She didn't take the blow kindly, but she still got off her leg. She vanished back into the fog.

   "Does everything that lives underwater want to eat me or something?!"

   "Of course, Reimu! You're just so sweet, after all~!" Koishi prodded.

   "Shut up, Koishi."

   The mist was slowly receding, and the two noticed that the waves below them were becoming choppier, and the currents were swirling around one point, making the waves rotate. Out of the center of this wirlpool, the girl emerged again. It looked like she was wearing pajamas, the same dark blue as her cap, and one lock of hair hung in her face, shaped like a bolt of lightning. She held a staff made of what looked like driftwood, and a metal lantern hung on the end of it. Despite not being able to see the light's source, it was glowing brightly. Her eyes were a milky white, and looked glazed over. Reimu guessed that she was blind. That, and she was facing to the right of them. "Uh, we're over here."

   The girl seemed taken aback, then called out "I know that, but this is my good side." Reimu could see her mouth moving afterwards, probably grumbling about not looking in the right direction, she figured. Reimu had to chuckle at this. She's trying so hard to look cool. I've seen fairies that pull this sort of thing off better.

   She turned towards Reimu, and began throwing wave-shaped danmaku not just straight at her, but in a wide fan to try and cover most of her front. She didn't even seem to notice Koishi yet, who was floating just outside of the attack's range. "Hey, don't just fight her. I'm here too, ya know~!" At least, until then. Shinju spread the attack into two waves, some of them intersecting between Reimu and Koishi. Reimu was almost walled between two waves, but a small gap at the last moment provided her some relief. "Koishi, go further away from her so the attacks don't intersect!"

   All Reimu heard was an "Okeydokey!" before about half of the bullets flying at Reimu in regular intervals stopped. Koishi must have been close, she thought. Part of her wanted to go ballistic, take out all of her frustration on this girl, but she realized this would be a bad idea. She needed to save her strength. So, she let loose with hundreds of needles spawned from her yin-yang orbs. Not all of them hit their target, but enough did that she could tell that the girl was being pushed back. Suddenly, the waves stopped, so Reimu made her orbs stop firing.

   The girl was panting, obviously tired. "Hah...you surface dwellers are tough here, aren't ya? Well, let's see how you handle...umm...where'd I put it..." She began patting her dress, trying to find what Reimu could only guess was a spell card. Reimu had to double-take, however, as she saw a light come out of the lantern. It looked like a ghost from the Netherworld, except it was...well, glowing. "Shinju, are you sure you should be fighting them? You can't even remember where you keep your spell cards."

   The girl, apparently named Shinju, turned to the glow. "Well, great, Hikari. Now my secret weapon - you - is revealed. You could have stunned them with a flash before they would have even known you were in there!"

   The glow, named Hikari, sighed, despite not having any facial features. "You know I take it on myself to look after you. You're like an iron-headed little sister to me. Plus," she added, mumbling under her...um...breath? "You're my only means of moving around."

   "I heard that, you know. Anyway, what do you know? It's not like you know where my spells are." Shinju folded her arms and looked away, brimming with stubbornness.

   "Did you check under your hat?" Shinju's unseeing eyes shot open again, and she reached up, under her hat. She pulled out a few waterproof spellcards. If Hikari could have an I-told-you-so look, it would be even more noticable than her glow.

   Reimu waved to get their attention. "Uh, hello? You kinda don't just stop duels to argue." She smirked. "Allow me to demonstrate." Feeling creative, she began twirling her yin-yang orbs around, shooting spirals of needles than fanned outward instead of flying straight. Shinju didn't have to move too much, but she couldn't tell that, so she overcompensated multiple times. Annoyed, she held one card up to the lantern, and Hikari read it aloud for her. "Light sign 'Ephemeral Light Trail'! Wait, you're making me fight now?!"

   "Yes. I was going to use this card ANY!" She dodged, not even leaving enough room for a pinhead to fit between her and a bullet. "I was going to use it anyway. Now go!"

   Hikari sighed again, then split into three glowing orbs. Each began flying around, leaving behind small flashes that turned into bullets. Once they all surrounded Reimu, they left behind a ring of bullets. Lateral movement impossible, Reimu looked past them to see Shinju channeling a column of water filled with danmaku towards her. She slipped under the ring, and flew off before the water turned into a wall and slammed into where she used to be. "Hikari! Why aren't you using your ability?! Our abilities combined are key to this spell!"

   "Oh, right!" The three orbs coalesced into one again, and the area suddenly started to get darker. Hikari was plainly visible, but there was a rapidly growing sphere of darkness. Shinju was completely concealed, and so was Koishi. Reimu could barely see herself in this darkness, but Hikari was still clearly visible.

   With the light now reduced, Hikari split again, and tried to form a triangle around Reimu once more. Reimu figured she would do the same thing as last time, but this time the Hikaris formed a complete sphere around her. She took a risk, and dove between the end of a third and the next Hikari coming to close it, and barely managed to squeeze out in time. She listened for the sound of rushing water, and tried to use this to determine where to shoot, since her coordination was mixed up from not being able to see.

   She quickly figured the approximate location Shinju was, and let fly. From her left, she heard another noise, this time what sounded like a splash. She kept her orbs focused on where she thought Shinju might be, and started throwing amulets towards the splash. She heard sharp cries of pain from the amulets, so she must have hit! "Reimu, what are you doing?!" And, of course, she hit Koishi. She was surprised that her amulets were even having an effect on her. Oh well, serves her right for ditching her all those times. She knows she's not really this cold-hearted, but by this point and due to the cloud's influence, she didn't care.

   The Hikaris were about to close in again, when the light suddenly increased like a flash, leaving Reimu blinded for a bit, blinking and rubbing her eyes to get readjusted. There was only one Hikari now, and she looked confused, as did Shinju. Clearly, they had never had a spell break before. Hikari realized the situation first, and rushed to alert Shinju. "What do you mean they broke my spell card?! It's just fine, look...huh?" The card looked duller, as if it lost its magic, for it had indeed lost it for now. "What, I have to recharge it now? Pbbbth."

   "Seriously, Shinju, we should just leave. This won't end well, I can feel it."

   "You know, you're too cautious sometimes. It's good for times other than when I'm looking for prey. In other words, just stop talking!"

   "Hey Shinju," Reimu called, "Maybe you should listen to her. This is only going to end badly for you. And besides, I've already won. You're way too tired and weak to continue fighting me." She didn't quite know why she had to insult her, but it felt right. Which was wrong, and reminded her of her true task, and hatched a plan on how to end this fight. She dropped another small orb near her feet, which turned into another yin-yang.

   The blonde girl turned towards Reimu in shock. "How dare you call me weak?! It takes a lot of strength just to survive in these waters, and not only have I survived, but thrived!" Reimu smiled, she had her right where she wanted her. "If it weren't for Hikari holding me back, I bet I would be feasting on your flesh right now, surface-dweller! I could beat you by myself with one hand tied behi-" She was cut off as a large object hit her square in the chest. Slowly, the yin-yang orb flew back to Reimu, winding down after a spectacular kick that would leave any soccer star applauding. Shinju was sent careening out of the sky, skipping on the ocean's surface like a pebble twice before sinking. Hikari was still floating where Shinju used to be, and turned to presumably look at Reimu.

   "Look, I'm bad with directions, okay?" Hikari tried to explain. It sounded more like excuses to beg for her life. "I didn't know we were so close to the surface this time, and she said she smelled prey. I'm forced to tag along with her, you see? She has the lantern, and I can't be too far away from it for too long, and-"

   "Then shouldn't you get going?" Reimu interrupted, drawing her leg back for another kick. Hikari caught the hint. "Oh Shinju! Wait up!" She flew in the direction Shinju was launched towards, then disappeared under the water. The strange whirlpool current had finally ceased, but...

   "Ah crap, where are we?" Reimu looked in every direction, but couldn't see land anywhere. No clouds in the sky, no more waves in the sea, it was blue all around her, except for the sun.

   Koishi ignored Reimu and started floating off, leaving Reimu behind. She soon noticed, and chased after her. "And just where are you going?"

   "In the direction of the sun's rising. Why?"

   "Well, for one, I don't think you should be calling the shots, here. Did you even fight back there?"

   "Subconsciously, I made sure they'd lose. Nothing can stop us~!"

   Reimu wanted to retort bitterly, but she couldn't come up with anything. She had no way of knowing whether or not Koishi had manipulated Shinju's subconscious, Hikari's subconscious, or both, so she only had her word on it. Koishi had also gotten rid of her bouncing heart familiars, but Reimu kept her yin-yang orbs handy. She felt like she'd be needing them more than Koishi would need hers, anyway. Since she had no other directional leads either, she simply had to trust Koishi. So, she nodded, and gestured for Koishi to keep going. Koishi smiled, and resumed her course.

   Between spontaneous fairy attacks from the waves, Reimu would gaze into the water, curious as to what was below that surface. What kind of youkai live down there? How many could there be? Maybe she's ask Keine about oceanic youkai when she got back. After all, if anyone would know, it would be her, or maybe Murasa, or even Yukari. She imagined serpents that would wind around ships and drag them down, squid-like creatures that drag sailors one-by-one below the surface, demons who led ships off-course, never to be seen again...

   She was startled out of another imagined situation with one of her possibly made-up ocean youkai by another small swarm of fairies, led by one that wore blue and an odd hat, almost like Daiyousei, but more oceanic. She was about as strong, too, and the two finished the fairies fairly quickly. For about ten minutes, not another fairy attacked. The air seemed unnaturally still. Reimu was starting to get bored, but Koishi seemed fine just moving forward. Suddenly, she stopped, and Reimu almost bumped into her. "Something's not right," was all Koishi gave as an explanation.

   Reimu could feel it too, some strange disturbance, and it felt rather close. She could feel two, one seemed otherworldly and unfamiliar to her, while the other...

   "Oh you've gotta be kidding me." Reimu floated forward ahead of Koishi, a look of almost disgust plastered to her face. Why, out of absolutely anyone I know, did she have to show her face here?! "Come on out, I know you're there. I should've figured you'd have your nose in things again."

   The air changed from feeling dead to shimmering, as a purple slash appeared in mid-air. It widened into a grotesque, eye-filled smile, and the gap youkai herself, Yukari Yakumo, emerged. She yawned and stretched before addressing the ones in front of her. "Oh, hello, Reimu. Fancy meeting you way out here~. And you've brought along...um..."

   "Koishi. You know, the younger Komeiji."

   Yukari snapped her glove-covered fingers. "Right, her! I don't know how I could have-" She yawned again. "-forgotten her. Oh, excuse me. I'm a bit tired."

    "A bit?" Reimu asked as Yukari almost nodded off right in front of them. "You look like you haven't slept in days. That's unlike you." Although she sounded worried, her sarcasm was easily detectable.

   "Well, I haven't. I might as well get to the point, since I don't feel like being cryptic today." Reimu was surprised to hear this; she figured Yukari would take every opportunity to be mysterious. "I'm investigating a strange border fluctuation that involves this ocean, especially the ocean that lies out past here," she gestured behind her. She shielded her eyes with her hand. "My, it's bright today, isn't it," she changed the subject, opening a small gap behind her, bringing out her parasol to hover behind her.

   "Too tired to even hold your umbrella today, eh? Well, whatever this disturbance is, Koishi and I will gladly take over investigation. You should go home and get some sleep."

   "Hey, wait a minute..." Koishi interjected. "Reimu, didn't you say this ocean wasn't here before?" Reimu nodded, noting that Koishi actually remembered something for once. "Then wouldn't this whole ocean be considered a border thingy?"

   "For once, she has a point." Reimu pointed her gohei at Yukari accusingly. "What is up with this sudden ocean, Yukari?"

   Yukari raised her hands in a peaceful gesture, if anything to calm Reimu. "Although I would be suspect, it was not I who brought this ocean to Gensokyo. I can't say I disapprove of it, I feel as though underwater youkai would make a good addition to Gensokyo's populace. Plus, it gives a wider array of activities the Human Village can do. It's the best of both worlds. Even I'm not sure how the Great Hakurei Border was stretched to accomodate it. That's part of what I'm investigating."

   "Underwater youkai, huh? Yeah, I've been attacked and almost eaten by two of them today, not to mention all of the water fairies that've been attacking us."

   "Have you, now? Pray tell, what did they look like?"

   "Uh...one had a shark fin on her back and had red hair, and the other was blonde and wore dark blue pajamas...oh, and she carried a wooden staff with a lantern containing a living light."

   "Ah. Well, I've met Kuhai before. She's pretty good at what she does, I have to admit."

   "Attacking humans for no reason?" Reimu said bitterly.

   "No...well, I suppose, although I've never seen her in action. No, I meant her business. She makes some pretty bizarre drinks, but they somehow taste good. The second one I've only seen. If I'm correct, the 'living light' as you put it is a light spirit, or a phantom light. They would lead travelers and ships astray. I guess she was imprisoned in a lantern, and found by the other girl. I believe she's an anglerfish that was turned into a youkai, probably due to being in company with one for so long. I don't think that was the light spirit's true form, but the anglerfish girl and her seem inseperable."

   "You seem to know a lot about these youkai. Maybe another time we can discuss exactly what might be living down there." She looked down for emphasis, now realizing how high up the three were flying. She also saw a black and white figure floating on the surface, like a star...

   Yukari noticed Reimu's puzzling gaze towards the ocean, and looked herself. "Oh, right. Marisa showed up earlier. She tried to get past me, so I had to shoot her down. She hasn't moved since, but I know I didn't kill her~. It was her own fault, after all."

   "Huh...right..." Reimu was surprised Marisa even got this far, since she went in the completely wrong direction back at the shrine. She shook herself out of it, and back into the current situation. "Alright, now let us pass. I have important business that I believe is ahead, and you're not going to stop me. Come on, Koishi." As she tried to move forward, though, Yukari threw a wall of kunai-shaped bullets from her fan, succeeding in making them fall back.

   Yukari chuckled and began fanning herself. "I can still try. I'm sorry, but you're not getting..." Another yawn. "...Getting past me, Reimu."

   Yukari proceeded to open with some of her more favorite of kunai-danmaku patterns, sending Reimu immediately on the offensive. Although, the waves were a lot less dense than Reimu remembered (and oh, how she remembered them). Koishi made her usual sweeping motions to dodge, while Reimu kept her cool and made as little movement as possible while firing needles once again from her yin-yangs. She knew how to beat Yukari, since she had done it before, so she was confident she could do it again. If anything, it should be easier, but that didn't mean she could relax.

   After a short while, Yukari must have gotten bored, and decided to switch to a spell card, or so Reimu reasoned, since it seemed to happen far too quickly. She expected a card that she's seen before, but she wasn't entirely surprised when Yukari called out "Boundary 'Margin of Night and Day'!" It seems as though one of Yukari's favorite borders to mess with was also a spell card. Instantly, Yukari was encased in what looked like a block of night. When Reimu looked up, she could see stars over her, but the difference in light made it hard to see. Danmaku began flying from the shadows, some directly at her, some haphazardly. After a few seconds, she could hear Yukari snapping her fingers. The boundary shifted, and now the block of night was around Reimu! She could barely see the bullets heading for her, but somehow she could tell that they weren't nearly as dense. She simply had to remember the ones aiming right for her while keeping her eyes out for other stray danmaku. Her fingers snapped again, and this time it appeared on the side, and was slowly moving from left to right. The bullets increased intensity, leaving Reimu with less room to act, and the cloud of bullets around her kept condensing. However, the air around Yukari was starting to fizzle a bit, meaning the spell was almost broken. If the wall of night passed over her, she wouldn't be able to see any bullets around her. In between dodges, she threw amulets to try and speed it up, but the curtain of darkness passed over her anyway. Just as her vision faded, she closed her eyes, sure she would be hit by something. When she opened her eyes again, the spell had ended, and Yukari was shocked. "Th-there's no way that should have ended that quickly! How...wait..." They both looked behind her, and there was Koishi, with eight familiars all floating around her. Apparently she had been shooting Yukari in the back to try and help Reimu break the card.

   "Wow...thanks Koishi. I probably would have gotten hit if it weren't for you." Maybe she is useful after all...

   Koishi beamed, somehow creating another familiar to bounce with the others.

   Yukari simply clapped. "I'm impressed, thus far. Although, it'll take more than that to beat me, even now!"

   Before Reimu could think about what that meant, she pulled out another card. "This one here," referring to Koishi, "should be able to identify with this one. Understanding 'Barrier of Hate and Love'!" From each arm, a heart of either red or blue was shot, sending out either red knives or glowing blue spheres that would cross through gaps between each other. If two impacted, they turned into small white orbs. However, Reimu could tell that this was a toned-down version of one of her other spells, with an extra gimmick to make it slightly more difficult.

   These also shot behind her, forming the same kind of pattern against Koishi. All of her familiars were shooting spreads of blue tear-shaped bullets, while she maneuvered through the gaps in the attack. She was having a much easier time than Reimu, it seemed, but then she noticed that Koishi's bullets were being redirected into another salvo, making it stronger. Koishi's power over the subconscious was useless when turned into fuel to make an enemy's attack stronger. Reimu didn't even get a chance to try and shout for her to stop before she had to try and evade a forest of Yukari's bullets. She found that the "Hate" side of the attack, ironically enough, had less, yet faster projectiles to worry about, and so preferred to stay closer to there to have more room to dodge the slower "Love" bullets. After what felt like an eternity, that spell broke as well. Even if Yukari wanted to try to dodge, she seemed too focused on maintaining the spells to do so.

   "Hmph. Fine then. I didn't want to have to use this on you...especially since I'm so tired...but you leave me no choice." She then held up a bright violet spell card, one Reimu recognized well. It was her ultimate card: Danmaku Bounded Field. There was no mistaking it. "Yukari's Charade..." Reimu braced for one of the most difficulet, bizarre cards she's ever faced. Wait, did she just say charade? "'Somnolent Danmaku Field'!"

   "What? Wait, don't you have another card like that?" Reimu asked.

   Yukari glanced at her. "Yes, but I'm way to tired to use that. This will have to do." And then the spell card vanished. In its place was a purple vortex, which swirled in Yukari's hands. She held it close to her, and seemed to focus on it in her mind, shutting her eyes as she did so. Purple and blue arrowhead-shaped danmaku formed in rows, all pointed towards Yukari. Reimu knew the card well enough to stay clear of them, but she did notice a few differences. For one, Yukari wasn't making herself invincible, which was strange. Second, the bullets had definite gaps while they were still, which they didn't have in the more powerful spell. She looked past Yukari for the brief few moments the bullets weren't flying, to see Koishi also in the field. She waved to her, and pointed at Yukari. She seemed to get the message, and they both began firing upon the mysterious woman in the center of this danmaku vortex. Reimu was checking behind her every few seconds to make sure another wave of bullets wouldn't be striking her from the back.

   Despite the pair's best efforts, Yukari didn't want to go down just yet. She focused greatly on the vortex one last time, and a massive spiral of bullets was generated from it. As it began swirling inwards, though, Yukari could feel the spell breaking. Reimu and Koishi were running out of available evasion room, and the air around Yukari was visibly turning red and compressing from the energy trying to be released from the spell. The bullets were millimeters from impact...when they phased out of existence, and the characteristic pop was heard.

   In addition to being tired, Yukari now looked torn up, and finally said "Very good. I concede." And then added "Ugh, now I need to go change...my clothes are ruined..."

   "That's it? You're just giving up? That's unlike you, when it's something you want." Reimu could hardly believe that she not only just beat Yukari again, but she did it unscathed in the end.

   "Well, it's more of a...favor...that I'm here at all, but that's not important right now." She approached Reimu, her arm outstretched. "Here, take this." She dropped a spell card into Reimu's hand.

   "Boundary 'Balance of Motion and Stillness'? Why are you giving me this? I can't use it."

   "Think of it like a freebie, to use whenever you want," she said with a wink. "It's charged up enough for one use. I'm sure you'll need it, since your journey's far from over. Just make sure you use it when you're absolutely sure you'll need it."

   "I, um...thanks, I guess." Reimu was at a loss for words. She knew what this card could do, but she had no idea why she'd need it.

   "Hm hm...Oh, I should also mention. Further up from here is something even I can't stand. Beyond it is your destination." She grabbed Reimu's shoulder and sighed. "Good luck." With that, she covered her mouth with her fan and giggled, before falling backwards off of the gap she was sitting on. Another gap opened below her and practically swallowed her. A small, spooky hand came out of the smaller gap and closed the parasol before dragging it inside of the gap, which promptly sealed behind it.

   Reimu still didn't know what to say, but she knew what she had to do. "Hey Koishi, come here, will you?"

   Koishi left from playing with her familiars, and floated over to Reimu. "Yeeees~?"

   "There's something important I need you to do. Very, very important, and you can't forget, alright?"

   "Sure! I can help~!"

   "Good. You see the drifting girl down there?"

   "The one in black and white?"

   "That's her. I want you to take her home. She lives in the Forest of Magic. Can you do that?"

   "Of course I can~. Who do you think I am?"

   Reimu crossed her arms, arching an eyebrow. "What was it I just told you to do?"

   "Um..." Koishi seemed puzzled. "Get a scarecrow, paint it black and white, and leave it in the Forest of Magic?"

   "No. Close, but no. Take the girl drifiting in the waves back to her house in the Forest of Magic. Got it this time?"

   "Take the drifter back to her house in the forest. Got it~!"

   Reimu nodded, then turned to leave. Koishi looked confused again. "Wait, where are you going?"

   Reimu turned to look back. "I'm going to solve this incident. Make sure Marisa gets home safely."

   At first Koishi seemed sad, then gave one of her usual smiles before flying downwards to the magician bobbing in the waves. Reimu watched her until she got halfway, then proceeded to where Yukari directed. She took one last look at the card she got, then pocketed it. "I hope I won't have to use it...but if I will, then I'll probably be glad I have it." After focusing back on her directive, she could see what looked like a crack in the very air further ahead of her. As she approached, she could feel more of the presence she felt in the Forest of Magic from that fairy. Her flying slowed as she got closer, in awe of how large it was. It was definitely a rift in reality, a rift that should not exist, except in the darkest of places. She was leaving Gensokyo, if she entered this chasm into who knows where. Yet, Yukari said that her destination lies on the other side. After flying around and seeing nothing for miles, she took a deep breath. No Koishi was leaving her mind clearer, and her task was at hand: once in, there was no going back. Tentatively, she reached a hand into the blackness. When she withdrew it and found that it was still intact, she took a deep breath and plunged into the inky, misty shadows.



   "Stupid Yukari...with her stupid gap tricks...and stupid bullets..." She didn't know how long she had been floating, but she had been grumbling nonstop. Her broom was in her hand so it wouldn't drift away, and her mini-Hakkero was tucked under her shirt so she wouldn't lose it. The last thing she wanted to do was go diving for only her most prized possession. The witch felt cheated, and wanted another go against Yukari, who would not oblige. So, she tried to Master Spark her to provoke her into fighting. Instead, she opened a gap, caught the Spark, and then released it from another gap, using her own attack against her. This fried Marisa enough that she fell into the ocean, and stayed there since.

   That is, until she saw two other figures fly up to where Yukari was. She couldn't tell who was fighting from this far away, but the amount of needle-shaped danmaku she could see only led her to guess Reimu. However, she felt fine floating there, and just watched the fight until the sun rose too far into the sky for her to see without burning her retinas. She could hear the waves around her, and an occasional yell from above, as well as the strange noises caused by danmaku. Then everything went silent. The temptation to look was immense, but the feeling of the sun's heat was a good reminder to not open her eyes. A few minutes later, she started to feel like she was being watched.

   She couldn't shake the feeling, so she lifted her head out of the water to not look directly at the sun, when she realized that a shadow was blocking it. Her eyes opened to see a pair of legs floating over her stomach, with purple wires attached to them. She followed those up to the closed eye on her chest, then up further to see the face and hat which currently blocked the sun. "Well hi there~!"

   Marisa coughed to clear her throat. "Koishi? What...what are you doing here?"

   "Me and Reimu went on an adventure, and then we fought the lady up there, and she told me to...wait..." She brought a hand to her chin and looked down, puzzled. "What did she tell me to do again?"

   Marisa noticed that Koishi's perplexed gaze had focused right on her breasts. "Hey hey, no need to stare. You need to think, look elsewhere, just not at me, ze."

   Koishi looked back up at Marisa's face, then smiled. "That's right! I was to use you as a scarecrow in front of someone's house in the Forest of Magic~!" Koishi began clapping for herself. "Yaaay, I remembered!"

   "Wait, Reimu told you to do that?!"

   "Uh-huh! C'mon, let's go! I know a shortcut~!" Koishi yelled, grabbing Marisa's arm and pulling her out of the water behind her.

   "Waaaaait!" Marisa shouted, but Koishi didn't register it. She was being dragged along for the ride now, whether she liked it or not. Koishi had started describing the adventure she and Reimu went on, and Marisa sighed, trying to tune her out. "Hopefully this will be over quickly. I feel bad that Reimu had to deal with her, but I certainly didn't want to be in her shoes."

   "...And then we came upon the house of that doll lady. Reimu wanted the shortest way possible, which was through her house. I saw the whole thing. The girl had just gotten out of a bath when Reimu barged in..." Koishi began incorrectly recollecting, much to Marisa's curiosity and to Reimu's later dismay. As she was telling the tale, Marisa noticed they were going into some fog, and ahead of them was what looked like a light in the distance...

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
  • Should I be concerned? I think I should be concern
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Sock
Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2013, 06:43:39 am »
Dunno why I'm updating this, everyone's gonna be too busy with DDC to read this.


Chapter 5
Darkness Matters?


   A bed. A woman lay there, as if it were a coffin, and she was the body at the funeral. She was stark contrast to the darkness around her; her flesh was pale, and her robe white. The red designs and sigils not covered with a blanket seemed to glow from the white robes, as did the gold circlet that permanently hovered over her head, even horizontally. The darkness around her subtly moved, currents and eddies that were non-perceivable to the normal eye were all but clear in hers. In her lone, piercing red eye, fixed at some point on the ceiling or beyond. The darkness meant nothing to her. Nothing in this mortal plane meant anything.

   Except her memories. Her ambitions. These are no doubt what keep her rooted here against her will. The short time she ascended was the happiest she had ever been, alive or otherwise. That was an easy decision. What was the most crushing moment in her existence? That is a much harder question. Her life was difficult, her afterlife a blur. Whenever she pondered this question, her mind would always wander back to her earliest memories, or stories of them that she couldn't quite remember.

   Her mind wandered back, replaying each memory as if it were happening again...

   She was raised in an orphanage, told by the aged woman who ran the house that she was simply abandoned on the doorstep, in snow and cold that would have killed her had she not found her in time. Needless to say, she never knew her parents. The first few years of her life, she remembers, were easy and simple. She picked up concepts much faster than other infants that the orphanage woman raised, such as walking and talking. The other children would shy away from her due to her unnatural features, or so she figured. Most of the other children didn't have white hair and oddly colored eyes. She was different, and so was shunned. Her loneliness would lead her to tears, the same crimson tears she wept even today. The woman, unlike everyone else, took a shine to her. She treated her like her own grandchild. However, other adults didn't quite like her as much. None who arrived willing to adopt would take her, even if she met all qualifications. The main thing she was missing for months was a name.

   She began tapping her fingers together. She remembered that the woman gave her a name, but she couldn't quite place what the name was. Having a name was the best feeling she had at the time, since until then she was called "child", or, if it was the other kids, "weird girl", "red-eye", "freak", to name a few. As they got older, the names became more unique and demeaning. Even after taking a name, she still could not find a foster home, even though she liked the name. She brushed aside the mental block, and continued her reminiscence.

   When it was time for her to go to public school, she was excited. The woman gave her her very own backpack, a notebook, and a box of pencils. She promised she would work hard in her studies, and one day be "the smartest girl ever!". She felt foolish at this notion, she knew so little back then. The other students were skeptical at first, but after assurance from their teacher, they accepted her. She had a small circle of friends, and always made sure to keep herself and others in line with rules and the like. Her teacher always complimented her on her behavior in comparison to the other children. She earned some jealousy and the "teacher's pet" nickname, but she didn't mind. As far as she was concerned, she was liked, and happy. This continued for two more years, in which she would gradually gain more acceptance. She thought she could be normal, like everyone else.

   Upon her third year of schooling, the orphanage woman suddenly died in the middle of the night, a new moon, she recalls. She hadn't been ill, rather the opposite. Old age apparently caught up to her. This was the first time she had consciously discovered that she cried blood, as the tissues she wept into were soaked red in a manner of minutes. She went to the funeral, not entirely understanding that she was gone forever, or why she felt so sad and empty. That wouldn't become prevalent until a couple, both middle-aged, took over the orphanage. Since there were two of them, they could afford better food, clothing, and commodities, but it didn't fill the void, the woman was the closest thing to a mother she ever had. The couple didn't give her nearly as much attention as the other woman did, instead giving the other children extended play time while she was still working. She felt useful, at least, but she could feel the sadness in her heart weighing her down. Now, in the only place she knew as home, she felt alone. She watched the few who she made friends with at the orphanage leave with their new parents, witness new arrivals, and try to interact with those who remained.

   School was her happiest place, where her intelligence was accepted and her looks were disregarded. Until she reached the center grades. She had accepted and moved on from the woman's death, and only wanted friends around her to support her. Few at the orphanage would speak with her anyway, and she was very shy in school after that day. She grew her hair to the point where it kept falling over her left eye, obscuring it from certain angles. She was beginning to see the darkness in people, as more of her friends were suddenly staying away from her, to the point where she only had a few friends left. Although, she had somehow made plenty of enemies. Older children would poke fun at her for no reason, even some that were her age would join in. Younger kids would shy away and stare at her, as if she were an otherworldly being.

   The next year was the one that she was the most proud, yet ashamed of. Another child two years older than her had been constantly trying to provoke her. She ignored him, even when he would take her lunches or other stereotypical bullying moves. She could feel the anger boiling in her heart, compounding with the growing feeling of loneliness as more and more people kept ignoring her. She could count how many true friends she had on one hand with fingers to spare, and she happened to be with them on the day he was desperate for a reaction. He and his cronies were in the cafeteria, when they saw her walk in with her handful of friends. They sat down, and began talking about how their classes were going, and the older ones took new seats at the table behind them.

   They would throw food, call names, all at her. They commented on how she always wore white and red, how she doesn't even know who her parents are, and how her hair was that of an old person's. She calmly ate and chatted, they had done this before, and this time would be no different, she simply had to tell them off, like usu- "Leave her alone, you bullies! Can't you see you aren't even affecting her? Go pick on someone your own size." She turned to her right, as her now red-faced friend just finished scolding the boys behind them. She didn't know what to say, but she was thankful enough that she could feel her eyes tearing up. She hadn't cried in a long time, but she didn't want to start now, not in front of the last people she felt that she could talk with. She could feel herself smiling, though. Upon seeing this, her friend returned the smile with a "What are friends for?"

   At first, they were stunned, not expecting anyone else to stand up for her. She caught a glimpse of the group whispering to each other rather obviously, before the one broke into a snaggle-toothed grin. Thinking it was probably a stupid joke, she rolled her eyes and returned her focus to the sandwich in front of her, yet while keeping her ears trained on the group behind them. "You know, guys," she heard the leader say. "I heard the woman in the orphanage died because of that red-eyed freak over there." She dropped her sandwich in mid-bite, a sudden fury and disbelief replacing every thought in her brain.

   She stood up and turned. "That's a lie."

   "Oh no, the doctors who did the autos...a-tops..." He seemed to be having problems finding the correct word, looking physically perplexed as he tried to think of the word. "The thing that they do to find out why people die. They said it was because she was filled with so much sadness for this one little girl. A white-haired freak that had no one else to look out for her. She died overworked, trying to help her through some meaningless struggles."

   This filled her mind with doubts. She was happy before she died, how could she have had any sadness for her, any more than for the other orphans who don't know their parents? There was no way she alone could have caused her death. She wouldn't hurt anyone...I wouldn't hurt her...ever... And just what was meant by meaningless struggles? School was important, and she worked hard to keep her grades high, and the woman volunteered to help her out of her own will. Or did she think it was her duty to help her, and it drove her over the edge?

   "Yep." He sighed and leaned back a bit, a smug look plastered on his face. "The word is, she's a freeloader who practically bled her dry. Poor old bag, probably died without anyone to remember her..."

   "I remember. You better shut your mouth about her," she retorted.

   "Hmm...the description sounds a lot like you, now that I think of it. I should turn you in to the police for killing an old woman."

   "I didn't kill her!" Her fists were clenched, and all of her willpower was directed towards not lashing out at him."

   "Maybe they'll even give me a reward for turning in a murderer. I could be a hero! Bringing justice to evil sorts like yourself..."

   She felt something snap, breaking free in her chest, as if her heart were shattered and removed from her body. She stared at him wide-eyed, only able to mutter the word that abated her visible anger: "...Evil..."

   He smiled again, confident in his victory. He already had the perfect excuse for when she would run and tell a teacher. He felt like he was on top of the world. C'mon, cry, little baby!

   However, the exact opposite happened. She lunged with a bloodcurdling scream, hands grasping his neck, her eyes wild with rage. He fell to the ground, his lackeys rising simultaneously, unsure whether to get involved or go get help. Her friends did the same. Soon, a crowd of students had gathered and formed a ring around the two. She was trying to strangle him, but he was stronger, and managed to wrench her arms away enough to breathe. Seeing her initial attack was denied, she reared a fist back, and plummeted it down with strength unnatural for a girl her size and age. The first blow landed on his eye, the second on his nose, the third to the cheek. In a burst of adrenaline, he pushed her off of him and got back to his feet. She was riding a similar energy high, though, and quickly rushed back in for the attack, her hair flying behind her as she charged. Her face was streaked with scarlet, her fury opening her bloodied tear ducts. She shrieked and reared back for another punch, and he covered his face. Instead, it was a sharp blow to the gut, which made him lower his arms. Another blow to the side of his face and he was scrambling on the ground, finding it hard to stand. Breathing heavily, she reared back and spat on him to rub in his loss. She felt no joy in this victory, simply that she made a point. She turned to walk out of the lunchroom when his cracking voice could be heard behind her. "You think you're so tough, don't ya?! Yeah, well you're nothing! Y-You surprised me! You're a zero! A ZERO!!"

   She stopped and turned. Her hair had fallen over her left eye, completely obscuring it now, but its gaze could still be felt. He recoiled from the icy glare. "You're right. You can't even beat nothing. If I am zero, you are worthless. I should just get rid of you here. Everyone else would thank me for it."

   His face was turning red now, being beaten not only in a fight but by a girl was humiliating enough, now she was threatening his life? "Big talk from a big amount of nothing!"

   From that point on, her reputation changed. She wasn't the teacher's pet with the good grades anymore. She wasn't even seen as a hero for beating up a notorious bully single-handedly. She was now seen as a creature, a thing to be feared. The boy went to the school's nurse immediately, and explained what happened, not even omitting his taunting her into action. She was called down to the principal's office to explain just what happened from her point of view. As she spoke, she took note that her manner of speaking was now flat and empty, much like how she felt. Although he would also be disciplined for bullying, she was also given detention for beating a student. As per the school's regulations, she had to sign a form stating what she did, and present it to her legal guardians. When she received the paper, she signed it with only the word "Zero".

   The principal looked at the form, confused, then back at her. "This isn't your name, young lady."

   "The name I used to have died with the one who gave me it. I was called a zero. I find it accurate, and I choose it to be my name from now on. I am nothing more, nothing less."

   "You can't just change your name whenever you want. Please, sign your real name."

   "I already did sign with my true name."

   "Then sign with your 'former' name. Then go and wipe that glowing gel off of your face."

   She signed the paper, then went to the nearest restroom to see what the principal meant. Around her right eye, which wasn't at all obscured by her hair, were what looked like six glowing red slashes, all with equal distances between them, radiating out from that eye. On a whim, she tried to will them to fade away, and so they did. She didn't know what it meant, but she did know one thing: her life was now changed.

   For the next year, her social life and performance in school sharply declined. She lost all desire to try anymore. Her friends avoided her for what she had done, and everyone else thought her psychotic or even a demon. She resented them all, wishing she could just get them away from her. Teachers were wary of her, some even averting their eyes completely, and she had to be escorted around the building to make sure another incident doesn't happen. She was feared and isolated, and she hated them all for it. Tears ran down her face every day, but she never visibly cried. It was because of them that her life was in ruins that she must single-handedly rebuild. She grew jealous of the happiness of others, angry that she could not also indulge in simple conversation. Any attempt to be friendly resulted in the same fashion, no matter what: with her being by herself all over again.

   Finally, after two years, she decided she wanted a fresh start. High school was beginning, and she was going to a well-populated school. Its colors were white and red, and took students from many middle schools around the area. If she could just be friendly, she could start over, even get new friends and be...happy again. She could almost feel herself smile with the thought of possibly being happy again. Students were issued their uniforms, and classes began. She still referred to herself as Zero, but her tone was no longer emotionless, even if it was forced. No one knew her here. She found friends, ironically, during her lunch time, a rather diverse group. She slowly began to open up again, feeling as though she belonged.

   However, she still could not escape what she had done. Within a couple of weeks, a rumor was floating around the school of a demon who cried blood that would beat others out of spite. She had recognized it as being about her, but she simply ignored it and continued her attempts to socialize, actively avoiding those she recognized. Eventually, a prank began called the "demon test", which was any method to induce crying, to check for bloody tears. Although Zero's eyes were unique, they were never suspect, until now. One day in lunch, one of her friends decided they should all do it to each other for some teenage-stupidity reason or another. She tried to get out of it, until she was cornered with an accusation that it was her. Her only hope was for the bell to ring before it got to her turn. They started going around the table, spraying a bottle of water into their eyes, done by the person next to them who went previously. Finally it got to Zero, and she needed just a few more moments. The bell rang, Zero giving a sigh of relief, but it took the girl next to her off-guard, and she reflexively pulled the bottle's trigger.

   She opened her eyes to see the table and any passersby staring at her. She reached up...and instead of feling cold water, felt something thicker and warmer. She lifted her hand out, and saw the bloodstains on it from her tears. She looked aghast at the crowd, as if begging them to not leave her. Those who didn't start shuffling away stared, and the ones who left began talking to their friends. The girl next to her, distracted by the bell and the crowd, finally turned to see Zero's face and promptly screamed. "She's the demon!" Her outcry and failed attempt to get up and leave startled the others around her into action, all of them fleeing from her. She stood, reaching out to someone, anyone. The room was empty in a matter of seconds. For the first time in a long, long time, she collapsed onto the table, loud sobs filling the air.

   She didn't go to school for the next week, unsure what everyone's reaction would be to her. When she finally coaxed herself to return, she discovered that her fear was realized; most of her peers were going out of their way to stay away from her. Her friends abandoned her, her teachers refused to acknowledge her, and she was all but alone, once again. If despair was quicksand, she felt neck-deep in it. She simply did her work in school and went back to the orphanage she still hadn't left yet, but now she actively tried to push others away. Any who tried to interact with her were given a cold shoulder or an icy glance. If she interacted with less people, the chances that they could hurt her or she would hurt them would drastically decrease, or so she believed.

   The next year, however, she made a fatal error. A boy in her class, despite knowing who she was, tried to come in contact with her. He said that even if she was a demon after all, he wouldn't mind. She tried to push him away, but the more she tried to distance them, the faster he would run to close that distance. Eventually, she humored him, and went on a date with him. After they learned more about each other, she felt as though she might be able to connect with him, if he was willing to try as well. After that date, however, they rarely saw each other outside of school. They took every opportunity to be together in school, leading to them being late a few times to classes. Zero felt happier than ever, she finally found someone who actually cared for her, and she might actually care about him.

   After about a month, he seemed to be fatigued more than usual. He said his parents were giving him trouble and the work from classes picked up a bit, but it wouldn't stop them from seeing each other. She heard about how others weren't too fond of him dating the "demon", but he was adamant about liking her. She felt like she could truly open up to him, that perhaps she wasn't zero after all. He kept no secrets, and she didn't hesitate to talk around him. However, she held back on asking him one thing. One day, right after the final bell, she finally felt it to be the right time to ask. "Why don't you hide?"

   "Heh heh...excuse me?"

   "You heard me. Everyone else hides from me and ignores me due to my looks." She looked at her right hand, as if it were the most interesting thing to focus on. "It's why I have to be alone..." she muttered.

   "But you don't have to be alone," he responded, apparently having heard her. He turned her face to look directly at him and smiled at her. "You have me. That's one more than nothing."

   "But why do you stay? Everyone else would have left me by now."

   "Because..."

   Her memory began to fade. Her eye shot open with sudden realization that there were tears streaming down her face. These accursed tears. The room was just as dark as before. She always hated remembering this. It was their last conversation, after all. She wiped them away, even as more took their place.

   She wasn't sure how she had heard. He was found in a pile of garbage, multiple stab wounds to the chest, an X carved over his heart. Rumors were abound, the most popular that she was the killer, even if evidence proved the opposite. Some spoke of an all-women gang called the Crystal Girls, which she thought sounded more like a young girls' dance troupe than a vicious gang. Others said it was some kids in the school who feared for his life if he stayed with Zero. Regardless, he was apparently holding a note. It apologized, and said it was for his own good, that his soul not be damned by the creature.

   The creature.

   Not even seen as a demon anymore. Just as a creature. One whose fate was not to be determined by her own hands, but by others who claimed to be better. She seethed for retribution, but there was no point. It didn't matter. The last thing she had to make her happy was gone forever. Everything that had made her happy had been taken away from her eventually, and could only be replaced with suffering loneliness. So why even hang on to such petty emotions? She might as well forsake them.

   Two years later, she graduated, earning no honors, not even a mere mention. She felt more like a footnote. Upon graduation, she was evicted from the orphanage, told that once a child graduates from high school, her fate is her own, a policy she had never heard of before, and most certainly was not enacted upon others who were there. She willingly left, though. She could finally be truly alone, no one to pretend to care for her, no one to pretend to care for. She preferred the darkness of alleys compared to bright shelters for wanderers. Darkness was always there to comfort her from the heat, and blanket her at night.

   She applied to jobs and colleges, but even if she had the credentials, they found some excuse to not accept her, something she never understood. Now it seemed like fate was conspiring against her. This only helped her spiral further into loneliness, a pit that not even the longest rope could scrape the bottom, and she simply fell deeper. She learned how to be manipulative, and managed to convince a bartender to let her eat whatever scraps were left behind by his customers. She had a source of food, which she only tended to once a day, after dinner. She would also partake in leftover alcohol, which at first helped her forget her worries. The sickness afterwards hardly affected her.

   It was at this bar that she made another fatal error. She walked in, earlier than usual, scanning the tables for uneaten food. There were still customers, most of which took one glance and went back to what they were doing. One table of five, however, continued to watch. She walked up to the bartender, and gave him the usual price, which was only a few dollars that she happened to find (or 'liberate', or somehow scam from the unknowing). She walked to a table with a half-eaten BLT and multiple whiskey bottles, one of which was still over half full, and indulged herself.

   As she ate, she noticed the tallest woman in the group (at least, they all looked like women) go and talk to the barkeeper. They both simultaneously glanced at her, so she knew they were talking about her. She looked at the group, who were all dressed similarly. One with emerald-colored eyes was also staring at her, and met her gaze. She winked and seemed to giggle and blush a bit before turning away, something that made Zero raise an eyebrow. Did she know something that she didn't? As she looked at each of the four sitting at the table, the one closest to the door stood and walked outside, giving a sidelong glance at her. She was starting to feel uncomfortable, an odd sense of foreboding filled her. It was a kind of fear she had never felt before. She had only finished half of the remains of the sandwich, even though she drank what remained of the bottle. She got up to leave, taking the tray to the counter, ignoring the woman who was there.

   She turned to leave, catching what looked like the bartender nodding to the other woman. She looked once more at the table of three, the one girl still staring at her with a smile on her face. She looked back at the door, only to see the brown-haired woman who walked outside leaning on it. She wished she could just walk through her, but decided that the only way through was to try and convince her to move. "Pardon me, you seem to be blocking the door."

   She chuckled. "What 'bout it?"

   "I'm trying to leave. Please move out of the way." Despite living alone, she still remembered her manners, all the while mentally flogging her with harsh, demeaning words. She knew better, and held her tongue.

   "No dice, girl."

   Her eyes widened. How dare she be denied by this woman she never met before?! The foreboding feeling returned, and she could feel three presences behind her. Turning, she saw the blonde-haired girl who winked at her, who looked about the same height as her, another girl with black hair in a ponytail with a menacing air about her, and a third with a hat covering hair that looked dyed pink with her arms crossed. They all wore nearly the same outfit, with slight variations between each. "I'm just leaving. Don't mind me. No one else seems to have a problem doing so."

   "I'm afraid..." the pink-haired one spoke, not taking her gaze off of her, "...that you're not going anywhere." She reached into one pocket, unfolding her arms. Under where they just were was a brooch, half a green-blue, half purple, and shaped like a crystal.

   Despite her surprise, Zero managed to stifle a gasp. She didn't know the Crystal Girls were real, since she hadn't seen one yet. Yet, here were five of them, the pink-haired one looking rather important. And they were encircling her.

   "Heh...so this is the girlfriend of that kid we offed two years ago? Doesn't look like much." So they were responsible after all!

   "You...you're the ones who took him away..."

   The woman raised an eyebrow. "Yep, you're her alright. And, unfortunately..." She sighed, shifting her position to look more menacing. "You're a disturbance to the peace. We keep getting complaints about you. Ya don't seem too terrifying, though, 'cept for those eyes of yours. I wonder what they all saw in ya..."

   The blonde then leaned over and whispered something to the leader. She shot an irritated glance at her, then rolled her deep blue eyes. "Alright. Now, you've got a couple options. You can delay the inevitable, or you can embrace it. What's it gonna be?"

   "Delay." She didn't know why she chose that, but it seemed like the best option. She would rather have more time to figure out how she could get away. There was a larger gap between people near the closest wall, so if she could break into a sudden run, or distract all of them somehow, and get really, really lucky...then maybe she could get away.

   "Alright then. She's all yours, kid."

   Before Zero could decipher what was going on, the blonde had wrapped her in an uncomfortably close embrace, their bodies pressed against each other. Zero opened her mouth to protest, her face reddening at this sudden display. But before any words could escape, the blonde planted her lips firmly on Zero's. While the blonde was trying to lean into it, Zero was trying to lean away, to push her away, something. Yet, part of her finally felt...sated. A more intimate form of emotion, yet at the worst possible time. After a short, shocked moment, she finally released the white-haired girl, who stood there shocked at what happened, her face looking like it was blending in with her eyes. Her face felt numb, and her hands turned shaky. The whole ordeal lasted seconds, but to Zero it felt endless.

   The gravity of the situation quickly flooded back to her, and her teeth and trembling hands clenched at this indignity. Long had she awaited her first kiss, but not with a member of the group that took away the person she wanted to share that moment with, let alone another girl. Unparalleled anger rose within her, the only thing that she believed still held her fragmented heart together. She tried to charge at the offending party, but the tall woman had returned and gotten behind her. The brunette and her quickly each grabbed an arm to prevent her from attacking, when the three in front of her suddenly gasped. The pink haired one looked behind her, then back at the captive girl. "Your eye...humans aren't able to do that..."

   Although she knew what she meant, Zero was too focused on ripping apart the blonde girl to realize her eye had those six glowing marks around it. "So she's a special girl after all...some sort of mutation, maybe..."

   The leader regained her composure, and announced after clearing her throat that their task was at hand. "These sorts of freaks pop up now and again. To keep peace and happiness, she must be eradicated!"

   Still being held by the two others, she gradually stopped struggling. E...Eradicated?! No...I refuse to die here!

   And yet...what more can life do to me? Every chance it had, it denied my happiness. Perhaps in death there will be an end to this heartache.

   Or maybe I can still find it...as long as I live, I have hope that one day I can overcome these trials life's been throwing at me. She didn't know why she made that pledge, but she felt confident that she could overcome it.

   Seeing Zero's struggles stop, the leader motioned her two accomplices to let her go. "I knew there was a reason we targeted you, I just didn't know what at the time. Now that I do, it only makes it feel that much more justified." She sauntered up to zero, putting one hand under the shaking girl's chin to have their eyes meet. "Now, be a good girl, and this will all be over qui-"

   She was cut off by a swift uppercut that sent her reeling back onto a table. The black- and blonde-haired girls rushed to get her back up, while the tall one and the brunette tried to grab Zero again. This time, she expected it. She lunged to her left in a quarter-circle, so the brunette would be blocking the tall one to buy her a few precious moments. She feinted a blow to the side, and punched her straight in the face. She was pushed aside by the tall one, who was already in a fighting stance. She swung for Zero's face, but she managed to duck under it, and delivered yet another forceful blow, this time to the woman's right breast. As tender as it felt from the blow, she knew it must have been a weaker spot on her otherwise well-protected body. The tall woman got back up, and again tried to hit her. Yet, despite her reach, she couldn't manage to land a hit on Zero. She saw that with each advance, her stance was weakening, and dove for her legs. She spread her arms, hitting each kneecap, and forcing the woman to fall forward. A quick stomp to the spine kept her from getting back up.

   Suddenly, she felt arms wrap around her from behind; it was the blonde girl again. As she struggled, she could barely hear what she was trying to whisper. "Stop...trying...help...survive...gun..." was all she could hear through her fury. After a stroke of brilliance, she jumped backwards, taking the girl behind her by surprise, and her weight combined with the shock of sudden movement dazed her enough so Zero could get out of her embrace. She saw the pink-hair rubbing her jaw and glaring at her as she stood up, and returned it with comparable malice.

   The leader's expression quickly reversed, however, as Zero heard a click from her left. The blonde called out to warn her, but the sound was drowned out by the consequences of her not being fully aware of the situation.

   BANG

   Her shoulder arched back, as something small and fast ripped right through her clothes and into her shoulder. She could feel a dull pain start there, and shoot down her arm, and she covered it with her other hand. She looked at her hand. Blood covered her palm, somehow different than her tears, but she still knew it was hers. She looked up, at the black-haired woman. She was holding two identical pistols, gleaming in the low light of the bar. Realization struck like a falling tree; she had been shot. Anger flared up again, and she tried to charge forward. Another gunshot stopped that, this time in her lower-right abdomen. Then another forced her back even further. And another. And another.

   She didn't even have to check, she knew she was bleeding profusely. Her entire body throbbed as her recoils sent her backwards into the wall. One hit her just below her knee, and her entire leg buckled beneath her, and she collapsed, slumping against the wall. She was breathing heavily, a small amount of blood trickling out from her mouth, in addition to her tears. The most she could say was a few grunts, exhausted pants, and coughing. Her vision was starting to fail her, and she started losing feeling in her extremities. She didn't think she would die, but she would be horribly injured. She just had to blot out the pain...focus on surviving...

   The black-haired girl finally lowered her weapons, and the distinct sound of a knife being drawn came from the leader. It was very intricate, and from the hilt was a gold chain, with a crystal not unlike the one on her brooch: half was purple, half was a turquoise color. This crystal was whole, and only one piece, despite its unnatural coloring. The gang slowly drew around the bleeding girl, trying to bear the pain, her eye-marks still glowing brightly. She spun the knife so the blade faced down, and raised it above her head...

   Zero could hardly see what was going on, but she knew the group had gathered around her. She wished they would leave. She saw something glint in the light, and looked up to see what it was. What she saw was the leader holding something over her head for only a moment, before her arm began driving downwards. She expected the blow to land at her heart, and prepared for her end. However, she felt the stab not through her heart, but instead through her left eye. A sudden wrenching sensation flooded her body, and she couldn't help but scream in agony. The woman had just yanked her eye right out of its socket.

   Empty lids opened, but not an image could be seen through them. In one eye, all she could see was the white of her hair, and in the other, nothing but painful blackness. She could feel large amounts of blood being emptied from her open socket. This, combined with the wounds she already received, were overloading her nervous system. She couldn't keep back all of the pain, and she could feel consciousness slipping away. In some last bid to survive, she stood one last time, before the knife was once again driven into her, this time into her chest, puncturing her heart. This time, the knife was left there, and Zero could only take a few stumbling steps before falling on her knees, then to her side, forward enough so that she was leaning on the knife. Her life was flashing before her eyes. All she could see was endless suffering. Between memories, she could see nothing but darkness, which became more frequent...until that was all she saw.


   Her memories suddenly began cascading back to her, faster than she could sort through to make understandable. There was a field of red. Rusted coins. Scales. A bright light. A pit. A funeral. Then blank, as nothing of particular importance happened for a long time. Then, a hand, extended, inviting...

   Her eye snapped open at the feeling of being pushed lightly from behind. She had turned on her side without knowing it, so she must have fallen asleep. She flipped on her back and sat up, looking for whoever had the gall to intrude on her. Light was shining in from the doorway, illuminating the room, and before her was a fairy maid with bright red hair and oddly yellow eyes. "Yes, what is it?"

   "My queen, apologies for disturbing you, but this is important!" The maid's little arms were trembling, yet their motions were stiffer than usual.

   "Possession? You've returned early. Don't tell me the shrine maiden defeated you in such a short time single-handedly." She thought that her elite minions were more powerful than that, even if they are completely dependent on their powers...and obviously, her.

   The possessed fairy shook her head. "Although she did defeat me, unlike how we predicted, she wasn't alone!"

   "What?!" This made her sit straight up in her bed, and she started getting onto her feet. "Not alone...who else was with her?"

   The fairy seemed to struggle in remembering. Eventually it gave up and shrugged. "I can't remember. I do remember that the shrine maiden kept talking to someone while she chased me over the ocean..."

   "Chased you across the ocean?!" Her eye widened in fury, and the fairy instantly recoiled. "You didn't lead her here, did you?!"

   "N-no, my queen! I lost her in a strange fog, probably given off by some ocean youkai..." Upon seeing her sigh with relief, she felt brave enough to continue. "B-but she's probably on her way, still...and...I think we have only a few hours until she gets here."

   She sat back down on her bed in thought, before realizing the servant was still staring at her. "Get out of the maid, and let her get back to her duties."

   "As you wish, my queen." The fairy suddenly turned dumbstruck, her eyes going blank as the formerly invading consciousness left. A trail of darkness drifted from the small creature's back, slowly coalescing into a shadowy orb, as the fairy's eyes turned back into their normal brownish-red color. When the turquoise petals reformed and the eye opened on the shadow, the fairy, slightly smaller than the orb, dropped to the ground, still unconscious.

   She looked at the fairy, then up to her servant. "You could have at least dropped her outside. You know how I hate dealing with these things. Now return to a more manageable form."

   The eye blinked once in compliance, and shrank down to the size of the fairy's head, and flew over to its queen.

   She gently grabbed it with her thumb and forefinger, and brought it to a glass bowl. She opened the top, and released it into the bowl. She reverted its knowledge down to basic instincts, so it was no more intelligent than a fish, which it now acted like, lazily floating back and forth. She had nowhere else to keep them, and she didn't want to compromise their current forms. Recreating them would mean starting from scratch, and she didn't have time nor patience to do so. That dealt with, she turned to the fairy on the ground. She grabbed her by her wings, and simply dropped her outside of her door.

   With that ordeal over, she quickly calculated how much time she might have before the shrine maiden arrives, if she even makes it. But before she could do anything, she heard footsteps from the hallway, followed by knocking. "This better be important," she muttered, before opening the door.

   In the doorway was a girl with long, silver hair in a ponytail, and the same color eyes staring directly into her lone eye. "A report. The shrine maiden has breached the Ingress. I am resuming my post now, and will update with further developments."

   "Hmm. Do your best to drive her off. If that's not possible, then stall her for as long as possible. We still need time..."

   "Understood."

   The angel's eye narrowed skeptically. "If you're here, how do you expect to return to your post in enough time to cut off the shrine maiden?"

   The girl's mouth turned into a slight smile. "The form before you is an illusion. The information has been successfully relayed. With no more purpose, this illusion will fade and return. As previously stated, I shall update you with further developments as they occur. Have a good day, my lady." With that, she turned into a small orb of white light, and began drifting back down the hall where she first arrived.

   Good luck. Now finally free of distractions, she reentered her room, and closed the door. She sighed. Her memories could wait. She knew the shrine maiden was relentless, and would arrive sooner or later. As such, she had to look presentable for this inevitability. She opened another door in her room, this one leading to a private bathroom. She walked to the shower, and started the water. As it heated up, she disrobed. A luxury I could never truly appreciate in my life...but I can use it as much as I want now. She stepped under the water, letting it cleanse her body as steam rose. If her calculations were correct, she should be completely finished and waiting in the main hall for the maiden with plenty of time.

   Through a small gap between the curtain and the wall, she could see a white dome shape on the counter next to the sink, its small eyes gazing transfixed on the ceiling. Her mask. A false visage of happiness. It was always denied me. Why should I hunt for it? It's no more real than that mask. She looked down at the drain, the water swirling into it. In the end, darkness is all that matters.




There are some parts I find a tad...distasteful. I'm not sure why I wrote them. It just felt...right, for the situation. It's a lot darker than what has been happening thus far.

Feel free to tell me what you think. Criticism (especially of the constructive variety) is welcome.

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2013, 05:59:19 am »


Chapter 6
Beacon in the Eternal Night


   Reimu looked at the card Yukari gave her again. She still had no idea what she meant about anything after that battle. When was she to know when she'd absolutely need to use it? And what did she mean by "a place even she couldn't stand"? Sure, it was incredibly dark and misty, and the atmosphere felt completely alien to her, but it didn't seem that bad. The atmosphere somehow actually reminded her of Makai, except it didn't make her sick. She felt anxious, and it almost felt like her powers were somehow affected, but that was the extent of it.

   She paused and turned to look behind her. Through the mists and darkness, she could barely see the hole that led back to Gensokyo. If she didn't go completely straight, she'd never find her way back. This, too, felt like the first time she went into Makai. However, this place seemed completely devoid of life and landmarks. She almost missed Koishi. At least she'd have someone to talk to, even if it was yelling for abandoning her.

   Reimu stopped and looked about, trying to get her bearings. Yet, there was nothing but darkness as far as the eye could see, with nothing else but curling mist to catch her eye. No horizon, no ground below nor sky above, just an empty black void. Shuddering, Reimu pushed onward, further from the only light she could see, further into the inky fog.

   She found it odd that the air of this place was perfectly breathable. The mist seemed to be having no ill effects, and the air seemed perfectly fine, if maybe a bit stale. She wondered if anything even lived here, or if it was possible, in all of this emptiness.

   As she travelled, the mist only thickened. If she turned around, she wouldn't be able to see the entrance. She would have to rely on instinct and only go straight ahead. Still, the entire place was lifeless and eerily silent. Just to break it, and curious as to what may be out there, she cupped her hands to her mouth and shouted "HELLOOOOO!" Not even an echo greeted her. She sighed and trudged onward through the mist.

    After a while, the mist began to thin a bit. This comforted Reimu at first, until she saw something flit away out of the corner of her eye. If it was possible, it almost seemed to get darker in that strange place. Yet, no matter how dark it seemed to get, she could see herself perfectly. It's as if she was standing against a big black sheet of paper. She hadn't even noticed, until she lifted a hand to brush away some hair out of her face, and could see every detail of her hand as clear as if she were outside in the sun.

   Now, the strange shapes in the shadows had small multicolored lights on them, always a pair, like eyes. If she looked directly at them, they would disappear, but she could feel them all staring at her. The feeling of being surrounded worried Reimu, who was now really starting to wish for companionship. Soon, they gained small voices, and could be heard whispering in the dark. She held her gohei closer to her chest, unsure if any wards, spiritual or otherwise, would help her in this world. She looked at her sides, and sighed in relief that the two yin-yang orbs were still floating next to her. She decided her best bet was to move forward, and hope she got out of here soon.

   One figure, with purple eyes, seemed curious enough to not move away as Reimu approached, but it stayed outside of her field of vision nonetheless. "H-hello? Who's there?" The figure did not reply, but the purple glows went out and came back, reassuring Reimu that they were eyes. It seemed to move closer, staying at her eye level. Eventually, the mist parted, and a fairy floated before Reimu. This didn't look like an average fairy from Gensokyo, despite its fashion sense being accurate, and the similar wings. Her hair was the same color as her eyes, and she dressed all in black, with odd markings on her dress in different colors, much like the fairies of Makai. However, she had normal complexion for a fairy. Her expression was very distracted, as if focusing on a point far behind Reimu. She looked like she had experienced mental trauma.

   Reimu extended a hand and gave a half-hearted smile as a show of good will, confident that this wasn't a hostile fairy. Many other eyes began focusing on the two from the shadows. The fairy looked down at her hand, then back at her face. "You're...trapped...too?" she asked quietly, as if not used to speaking.

   "Trapped? Oh...uh, no...at least I hope not..."

   "Any who enter...are lost...you are not the first, nor will you probably be the last...to be consumed by darkness..." She floated up to Reimu, and put a tiny hand to her forehead. "Yet...you carry the darkness...given life..." She returned to where she was, and tilted her head to the side. "What...are you?

   Reimu was creeped out, to say the least. It's not often that fairies would approach her without fear, let alone speak with her. Her face hadn't changed at all during the conversation, and her voice sounded more like a whisper. And what was with all of this 'trapped' business, and 'darkness given life'? "Uh...I-I'm Reimu Hakurei, the shrine maiden of Gensokyo."

   The fairy's eyes widened instantly at her name. "R-Reimu...Hakurei?!" The other pairs of eyes began flying off, and the fairy in front of her flew back a few dozen feet before unleashing swirls of danmaku. Reimu managed to slip to her right just in time, as a pink sphere roared past her. She returned fire with needles from her orbs until the fairy went down, where it vanished into the darkness.

   "That's just weird. Non-hostile fairies don't usually suddenly attack like that...wait!" She turned every which way, but could find no trace of where she had come from, or what way she had to go. "Crap! No no no no no! I don't want to be trapped here! I don't want to become like these freakish fairies!" As she said that, she saw another pair of eyes drift away from her, towards where the fog looked especially thick. Without hesitation, she followed them, until the fairy revealed herself, a blue-eyed one, in a similar style of dress. She conjured three rings of energy spheres, then directed each ring to target Reimu one after the other. Although she didn't have to dodge far, another fairy performed the same attack, and then another, and then another, severely limiting her movement, as each one traveled faster than the last, while slower bullets peppered the air around her. As she brought the last one down, a green-eyed fairy began throwing kunai danmaku in a random spread in front of her. This one was tougher than the rest, but vanished as suddenly as it came for seemingly no reason.

   The mist was thick around Reimu know, who was constantly on the alert, in case one of these fairies were to try and take a bite of her. However, all of the fairies' eyes that peppered the shadows slowly vanished, until she was all alone again. She didn't feel anything for a while, until she could feel the presence of something...unnatural, even in this place. She could practically taste the curses on whatever it was, and felt like she had to brush her teeth. She looked around, her eyes darting every which way, trying to find the source of this cursed presence. Finally, it felt strongest directly in front of her. Yet, despite her squinting and trying to wave away the fog, she could see no more than a silhouette of the being.

   She was tempted to try and speak to it, since it looked more human than the fairies. Yet, the amount of curses it exuded were giving her reason to hold back. "I believe that it is customary for a visitor to introduce herself when intruding upon someone else's territory." The figure spoke quickly and flatly, and her voice echoed faintly.

   Although she heard her, Reimu was still rather skittish, and called back out to her "Who's there? I can't see you from here!"

   "Hmph. Perhaps you should train yourself to see in the dark. I can see you quite clearly." Her tone was almost bragging, yet she made no move, nor did she follow up with any other comment.

   Reimu could feel her anger flaring, or perhaps it was jealousy? All of her emotions were mixed up, probably from being with Koishi. "I can see perfectly fine in natural darkness! This place isn't natural!"

   The figure sighed. "I can assure you that this place is natural, but I will assist you in your visionary problems nonetheless." Reimu could see her (at least she thinks its a her by the way it sounds) lift her arms to her sides, and the fog cleared away, leaving nothing but darkness between them.

   Now that Reimu could see her clearly, she could probably figure out how much of a threat she is. Her shirt is silver, with red decorations on the front. The back of her sleeves went down to her wrists and ended in points, while the sleeve under her arm only went to a little past her elbow. She wore a gold skirt that was longer in the back than in the front, exposing her legs from the knees down in the front, concealed by brown leggings with a lighter brown crossed pattern that covered her feet, too. Her silver-colored hair extended down to her waist, some of it in a ponytail on an angle from the back of her head, and two locks of hair on the side of her head had decorations like hers, except the figure's decorations were dark blue. Her skin was pallid, yet somewhat metallic. Her eyes also had the silver color scheme. She seemed very robotic in expression, as if waiting so she could respond. Yet, Reimu couldn't get a good feel on how powerful she was. She could sense a lot of potential, but how much of it is realized?

   "So...who are you? And just where the hell am I?"

   She blinked once before opening her mouth, as if formulating the answer. "I am Tearfang. I am the spirit that resides in the sword which shares the same name."

   "So you're a tsukumogami?"

   "Accurate, but not exact. Although the sword and I are one and the same, and rely on each other to exist and have power, I have always resided within the sword. Passage into the realm you call Gensokyo awakened me. I can survive without being near the sword, and it can exist without me near. Full potential cannot be realized unless we are together," she explained.

   "Alright...I don't fully understand, but whatever. You never answered where we are."

   "Although not your original phrasing, no. We are in a dimension between dimensions, known as the Ingress. It can only be opened by the one who controls the rifts, unless that power is transferred to one the controller deems necessary to wield it. Its use is listed as classified information."

   "The one who controls the rifts...does that person live in that black cloud?"

   Tearfang visibly tensed. "H-how do you know of that?"

   "The cloud attacked us and made me feel like crap. I'm looking for the one responsible, and I'm gonna kick her ass once I find them."

   "Wait...you're...you're Reimu Hakurei, the red-white shrine maiden!"

   Reimu folded her arms and smiled crookedly. "The one and only. What's the matter? Scared?"

   Tearfang regained her composure, and returned a small, yet confident, smile. "Not a chance. And I'm not going to go into the actual statistics."

   "Tell ya what. If you just lead me out of this place, I'll let you slide with a less severe beating."

   The sword girl tilted her head confusedly. "You only wish to leave? Splendid. Follow me, and I will take you back to the rift you entered from." She began flying towards Reimu, off to her left.

   Reimu swung her gohei out, blocking Tearfang's path. "That's not what I meant. I meant to take me to your boss, the other end of this...Ingress, or whatever."

   "I'm afraid that would directly contradict the orders I was given." She turned to face Reimu. "So, I offer you an alternative: I will lead you back the way you came, and you can return to your dwelling."

   Reimu's arm didn't lower. "I like my offer better. So, lead the way, or get out of my way."

   Tearfang's eyes narrowed, a slight frown forming on her face. Without warning, she thrusted her hand forward, intending to point-blank Reimu with danmaku. Reimu managed to duck to her right as it sailed past her head. "Very well. I suppose I am forced to drive you off now, since you will not comply. Do know, however, that you have a minimum 57% chance of losing."

   "Oddly specific, but I'll take those odds." She barely finished the statement when arrowhead bullets began pouring from Tearfang's hands. This attack seemed more like suppression than an actual attack, and her intuition was only confirmed as Tearfang shot a line of knife danmaku directly at her, and another two lines at an angle, trying to catch her overcompensating. She didn't even have time to return fire yet, as another shower of arrowheads rained around her. Seeing a slight gap in her attack between the knives and the arrowheads, she charged her yin-yang orbs with powerful pink talismans, and let fly. Their spread wasn't terribly effective, but they made up for that by being stronger than, say, her homing amulets.

   Tearfang now had to dodge, and couldn't focus her line of knives directly at Reimu without adjusting her aim, which would give her a gap to slip through. As she pondered this, she suddenly felt sharp pain in her right arm as she accidentally flew into a stream of talismans. She grunted, irritated that she le herself get distracted by her own calculations. A minor wound like that would heal quickly, but she decided to cut her losses and attack immediately. She raised one arm slightly, and a glow appeared in her hand. It slowly turned into a white, phantasmal spell card. With the most emotion she's shown yet, she yells "Mirage Sword 'Impeccable Facade'!" The darkness around them transformed, showing strange images, figures and faces, that looked real but seemed fake.

   Reimu snapped herself out of the now-entrancing scenery as Tearfang charged at her from the left, holding an ornate, white sword. However, she was too fast, and Reimu didn't have enough time to react. She tried to move, but she saw the sword go clean through her. She closed her eyes, expecting her torso to disconnect from her legs at any moment. Yet, neither pain nor blood came to greet her. She looked to her sides, and saw a mist-like slash running through her on one side and leaving her on the other. Slowly, the slash moved from her, leaving Reimu both confused and relieved. Tearfang, still holding the white sword, waved her other arm out to her side, and the slash solidified to be the same color as the sword that created it. The slash slowly moved behind her, until it came to rest, and began firing kunai danmaku from the corners of the slash, aimed at her, and walls of oval-shaped danmaku rained from the body of the image. Before the bullets reached her, she swapped the talismans with homing amulets, so she could focus on dodging, and set her orbs to fire at Tearfang.

   She didn't care about dodging, she knew she was protected temporarily by the spell card, so she could focus on trying to bring down the miko in front of her. However, she could feel her hold on that slash slipping away, until it faded from view. Without hesitation, she spawned another, similar sword, crossed her arms in front of her, and charged forward. Reimu knew the swords would do nothing, but she didn't know if Tearfang would stop or tackle her, by the way she was barrelling at her. She tried strafing to the right, but Tearfang kept on target. When they were mere feet apart, Reimu instinctively threw her arms up in front of herself, bracing for Tearfang's impact. She heard the swords clang as they would have connected, but didn't feel the impact of Tearfang running through her. She opened her eyes, and saw no one in front of her. Suddenly, Tearfang appeared from behind her, floating back to her original spot, homing amulets still pelting her spell shield. This time, there were two slashes, in an X, running through her. These, just like the first one, started drifting towards her sides, meaning she would either have to get close to Tearfang, or try to run, neither of which she believed would work well. These slashes tried the same pattern, but this time, she was being assailed on two sides instead of just one. Yet, she had fought these types of attacks before, so they weren't too unfamiliar to her.

   Tearfang could feel the spell's shield weakening, and decided that she couldn't hold back any longer. She casually tossed the two swords into the air, which spun and hovered for a bit, before floating blade-down. With a slight motion and a sound like an unsheathing blade, each sword split into three separate ones, which encircled Reimu. This time, she ignored them, and tried to throw as many needles as she could to break the spell sooner. All six swords swung at the same time, with the same results. Reimu felt a bit light-headed when all six blades intersected in her abdomen, but that faded quickly as the six slashes arranged themselves into a hexagram and solidified, with her being the center. Tearfang waved both of her arms, and all of the slashes began focusing their fire on Reimu in the middle. Paranoid and dodging every which way, Reimu felt around for the card Yukari gave her, but she couldn't find it, at least not with all of this haphazard flying. She felt one arrowhead strike her leg, a stinging blow that quickly turned red. She winced in pain, then focused again on dodging and having her orbs shoot amulets. The small thuds from when each amulet struck the shield slowly grew louder as the shield decreased, until all bullets disappeared from Reimu's vision, and she halted her orbs from firing. Tearfang and the six swords were the only ones left.

   Tearfang looked aghast as Reimu hardly looked scratched from the battle. Granted, she was mostly unharmed as well, but that technique should have worked to scare her off. A sharp crack startled her from her wonderings, as the swords began breaking apart. Light shone from the illusional blades, and all six of them shattered simultaneously. Tearfang almost doubled over from the shock as it felt like most of her power was drained with the swords' shattering. She took one last look at Reimu, then turned and fled.

   Unlike most of the defeated fairies from earlier, Tearfang didn't eventually fade into the shadows, which made her easy to see for a long distance. With this realization, Reimu took off after her, the only lead to possible escape. Many fairies either fled from them or shot at her, ignoring Tearfang. Reimu mostly ignored the fairies, preferring to keep Tearfang in her sight than battle pointless fairies.

   Tearfang started slowing down, confident she lost the shrine maiden. "You're not getting away that easily!!" came from behind her, causing her to gasp and turn. Both confirmed and annoyed, Tearfang began adding her own danmaku to what the fairies were throwing at her. However, hers weren't attacks; they were cover with which she might be able to escape. Every time she looked behind her, though, Reimu was there, and getting closer. She picked up speed, and began charging a large burst of bullets. She looked behind her, and saw one last fairy try to barrage her with large green oval-shaped bullets, and acted. She stopped and raised her arms, throwing a mass of giant silver bubbles. Yet, as she looked ahead, there was a bright light, a beacon in the darkness. She cursed under her breath, took a moment to consider the irony, then darted to her right, hoping the shrine maiden might follow.

   After going around the silver spheres that sprang out of nowhere, Reimu peered ahead, not seeing Tearfang anymore, but instead seeing a glow in the distance. She caught movement in the corner of her eye, and turned to see Tearfang flying almost directly away from the light, occasionally glancing at her, as if begging her to follow. Reimu smirked, then proceeded with all haste towards the glow. As she got closer, she noted that it looked about the same size as the one she entered from, and she would have thought it was the same one, if it wasn't for the massive, swirling storm outside of it. If she were on the ground, she would have been jumping around for joy. She settled with a quick "Yes! Finally!" and a midair victory twirl, then resumed her course; her journey was rapidly ending.

   However, her intuition was telling her otherwise, and that she wasn't clear of danger yet. As the thought crossed her mind, she thought she heard a grunt of exertion behind her. Deciding to listen to her instincts, she turned in a quarter-circle, and saw a silvery blade pass right by her face, the arm and body of Tearfang following. The sword girl halted her movement, and turned back to face Reimu. There was something different about her, but she couldn't quite place what it was. Tearfang shook her arms slightly, and her hands became visible once again. Realization struck Reimu that somehow her sleeves had elongated about a foot past her fingertips, and became flexible swords attached to her hands. She hadn't realized that Tearfang could do this, but she did realize that she may have misjudged just what she was capable of.

   Tearfang looked ready for a fight, her fists clenched and her body angled challengingly. "Foolish girl. I led you in a complete circle. This is the rift from which you entered."

   Reimu's expression changed from surprise to skepticism quickly, and she folded her arms. "Really. A circle, huh? Then why are there clouds out there? The sky had been clear for days back in Gensokyo, and the sky was completely clear when I entered the Ingress. Now you're telling me a massive storm brewed in the short time I was here?" To her, it felt like hours, but there's no way it could have been.

   "Yes. Storms have a tendency to form rather instantaneously. As previously stated, this isn't where you thought it would lead. It merely leads back to where you started."

   Reimu thought for a moment, before remembering what could be a crucial piece of evidence. "If it is where I entered, then why are you blocking my progress?" She smiled smugly, figuring she cornered her.

   Tearfang opened her mouth to respond, when her eyes shot wide. She apparently hadn't been expecting this sort of question. Her eyes darted around, and she started stammering, trying to come up with a response.

   "So? You gonna let me pass, or wha-"

   "Silence!" she spat. "My directive was to allow no intruders to assault the palace, least of all the red-white Hakurei maiden! Your passage can only be assured with my defeat!" She shifted her stance, looking over her shoulder, ready for whatever Reimu might throw at her. Her sleeves also changed, forming the flexible blades that had almost sliced her head open.

   "Wait...palace? What palace?"

   Tearfang's eyes narrowed, and she looked away while pursing her lips. Probably annoyed at herself for giving away too much information. Without another word, she sprang forward, sending a flurry of knives with tiny bullet trails at Reimu. She expected this sort of sudden attack, and ducked to her right just as the knives flew by, and had plenty of room to spare. She set her orbs to fire needles, but Tearfang charged her again before she could even start shooting. It was the same pattern, which Reimu expected, but this time a circle of feather-like danmaku radiated from where Tearfang would have impacted with Reimu. She set the orbs to firing, then prepared for whatever Tearfang would have to throw at her.

   Tearfang was no fool, and decided that trying to fly straight through her shots would only result in her loss. She adopted a zig-zagging flight pattern to both confuse Reimu and get her in close. Reimu saw what she was doing, and constantly tried to readjust her aim, while preparing for her attack. When Tearfang got close, Reimu dodged to the side, and drew four large amulets. They swirled in the air near her, then set a course for Tearfang, constantly gaining speed. Luckily, she took flight from these amulets and started moving evasively. The amulets kept returning, and Tearfang was becoming annoyed with their tenacity. Reimu pushed her farther by shooting needles directly at her.

   With no other possible moves, Tearfang began flying in a wide arc, the amulets hot on her trail, managing to keep pace with her. The streams of needles were constantly popping up right in front of her, and it was only a matter of time before she would be hit. She charged towards Reimu one last time, but didn't bother charging any danmaku, since it was already following her. She swung wide to Reimu's left, leaving her confused. A few needles managed to hit their mark at such a close range, but Reimu was too focused on her. She could hear whirring behind her, and as she turned, she became very concerned. Her own amulets were flying directly at her, and she didn't have a chance to escape. She simply threw her arms up in front of her in an attempt to block them. All four directly hit their user, leaving a small cloud of smoke around Reimu. Although her own attacks wouldn't harm her as much, they still hurt.

   The cloud of smoke offered other possibilities, though. As it cleared, she could see Tearfang charging at her, and waited to fire, a huge gamble, considering how fast she was going. Once she was a few feet from the smoke cloud, Reimu unleashed a torrent of needles all focused at her. Off guard, Tearfang had no choice but to take a few hits before she could start defending herself. She began striking and chopping at the incoming needles with her sleeve blades, knocking them out of the air, and slowly advancing. Reimu had to admit, her form and speed were impressive. She might even be able to out-perform an oni in a fight, although brute force was definitely out of the question.

   Reimu snapped out of her admiration when she noticed how close Tearfang was. If she cut off the attack and tried to escape, there'd be no hiding from Tearfang. No, fleeing wasn't an option. She did have another idea, however. As Tearfang entered melee range, Reimu threw another group of four large amulets. As they reached full size, Tearfang tried to halt her assault. Her hesitation caused her defense to lower, and the needles began striking her with full force. She finally managed to stop as the amulets moved forward, but she had nowhere to go. Reimu swooped out of the cloud as the four amulets once again exploded.

   Reimu dusted off her hands and was about to turn towards the gap when she heard from the smoke "Illusion sign 'Dance of Swords'!" Again the scenery changed, and the rift vanished from view. Her attention returned to Tearfang, who had surrounded herself with twelve swords of different colors as the smoke cleared. The swords were arranged chromatically, forming a circle around Tearfang. Reimu expected her to charge at her again, but instead she started a strange, exotic-looking dance. It was very graceful and flowing, and it seemed to influence the swords around her. They began clashing, twirling, all simultaneous with her movements. Reimu reminded herself that this was a duel, not a show, and looked around for what would be thrown at her. She noticed twelve spheres of energy around her in equal intervals just as they began firing swords at her. Something was wrong, though. Their aim wasn't exact, and the first twelve swords met in a circle around Reimu. It didn't give her much room to maneuver, but they soon dispersed, and another ring took its place. After what must have been the tenth ring, the outermost swords suddenly spun around and drove right at Reimu. She could tell that these were accurate, and jumped aside as they all struck where she just was. She had no idea why she kept turning off her orbs from firing, but she reset them to homing amulets as another ring of swords tried to impale her. These ones came close enough to her head that she could see a few black strands fall from where they cut through a small amount of hair.

   As the last group of swords passed by her, she looked at Tearfang, who was watching the spectacle and grimacing that she hadn't hit her yet. The homing amulets were doing much more damage to the spell shield this time than on her last spell, and she prepared for however Tearfang might try to upgrade the attack. She started her dance over again, and the same rifts opened. This time, as each sword clashed around Tearfang, bullets of the colors of the striking swords would rain out. This time, the encircling blades gave Reimu a little more room, which she saved for if a bullet were to fly in her direction. None did, and the last ring of swords was starting to fan out. Tearfang noticed this, and somehow stopped all non-sword bullets midflight. She commanded them to fly in Reimu's direction, causing her to have to take care while dodging the swords so she wouldn't fly into a stray sphere. As the last few swords and bullets passed, Tearfang's card broke again, with the same results as last time. All twelve swords shattered in a rainbow explosion, and Tearfang was left clutching at her sides and breathing heavily.

   "Had enough yet?" Reimu taunted.

   "I've made many miscalculations thus far...intimidation tactics don't work nearly as well as I'd hoped...and I've been splitting too much of my power..." She took a deep breath, and floated straight up again. Reimu could notice some slight tears in her skirt and on her shoulder, but it looked like hardly anything to worry about. "No more fooling around." She put her hands together and closed her eyes, as if praying, and where her sleeves touched, a white light was forming. It grew to about the size of her palm before floating in front of her. Her eyes shot open, and the light turned into another spell card. "Physical Manipulation 'Doppelganger'!"

   The spell card slowly mixed back with the light, and then began expanding. Four tendrils of light split from the main core, and another sphere formed on top. These solidified and took more defined shape, into arms, legs, and a head. Once it finished, the light slowly faded, and floating before Reimu...was another Reimu. This clone, however, looked far different from her. It had dark blue skin and white hair, and her outfit turned sky blue. Her sleeves and even the paper charms on her gohei were black. Reimu was looking at a negative version of herself. Every visible detail was correct. The clone floated there and stared at Reimu before turning to Tearfang. In an eerily similar, yet hollow voice to Reimu, it asked "Master, what is your command?"

   "Incapacitate the one who shares your image." She didn't even look at the clone to address it.

   The clone turned back to Reimu before drawing several black and blue ofuda amulets, the exact opposite of Reimu's. However, instead of going at the same speed, they flew like amulet danmaku, five talismans in a spread, and three spreads. It wasn't hard to dodge for Reimu, who retaliated by throwing her own amulets. After a brief exchange of fire, the clone faded out of existence, her eyes slowly closing as she started falling. Everything but the gohei vanished, and it tumbled down into the darkness. "...Was that really it?"

   Tearfang grunted in response. "No." She raised her arms again, and two Reimu clones sprang forth from nowhere. "I decided to spare you the theatrics and proceed directly to the fighting." These two had the same pattern of attack, but this time Tearfang threw in some silver and gold arrowhead bullets. Now facing what looked like a wall, Reimu had little time to set her orbs to fire homing amulets again. When she did, she saw that they were aiming for the clones, not Tearfang. She knew if she waited long enough, the spell would collapse on itself and end, but she didn't want to have to wait that long. Soon enough, those clones were also brought down, and they fell in similar fashion to the first. Reimu watched the gohei spin into the shadows, and shivered at the thought of falling all that way. She reset her orbs to fire pink talismans, and tried her best to focus only on Tearfang. Grimacing, Tearfang summoned five clones to all fire upon Reimu. Instead of simultaneously, however, they fired in succession, so Reimu had to keep moving to avoid getting hit. The unlucky clone in the middle was defeated, and Reimu could see Tearfang straining to keep the spell active and fire danmaku at the same time. In Reimu's small time of distraction, however, she let herself get hit again, this time on her right arm, by one of Tearfang's arrowhead bullets. Seconds afterward, the spell broke, and the clones all faded out of existence. Unlike the previous ones, these ones released mist, which completely shrouded Tearfang from view.

   As it billowed out, Reimu kept alert for any more bullets. Instead, she heard a shriek as Tearfang was charging ballistically at her, one arm poised to strike with her blade sleeve. As her hand started moving forward, Reimu ducked backwards, and purely by instinct kicked upward. Tearfang's arm grazed mere inches from her head, but her leg managed to connect to Tearfang's jaw, sending her flying backwards while Reimu performed a backflip. She brushed a stray hair from her face as Tearfang righted herself, one hand to her cheek. Even if she didn't look too angry, Reimu could tell she was seething. "Very well." She held one hand out, and in it was a silver spell card. "I didn't want to be forced to use this. Yet you leave me with no more alternatives. Executioner 'Blade of Judgment'!!!"

   The card flashed brilliantly before dispersing in a wide cloud of kunai bullets. Soon after, Tearfang slashed with her arm, and a wave of knives flew out. Another slash, and a wave of swords mixed with other blue bullets. Reimu couldn't see Tearfang past this barrage, and had to focus on weaving through them, charging her yin-yangs with homing amulets so she wouldn't have to aim. Once the fog of bullets cleared, Reimu looked up, and felt her heart sink. Above her was a massive sword, looking like the others, but easily larger than most trees. The point faced her, and Tearfang held it up with her arms over her head. She threw her arms at Reimu, and the sword followed suit, intent on crushing the shrine maiden.

   Reimu began panicking, and searching for a certain spell card. She hardly ever used it along with her homing amulets, but this was an exception. At last, she found it. She held it over her head and declared it: "Dream sign 'Evil Sealing Circle'!" From the card, two intersecting red and blue squares radiated out, and Reimu held her arms out to her sides. Once their outer edge hit the sword, the sword began dissolving, but Reimu could feel the circle lose strength. She poured her energy into the circle, and could see Tearfang was doing the same with the sword. Now it was just a battle of willpower. Glancing at the sword, Reimu could see that it was slowly shrinking, the danmaku in the blade being burned away by her spell card, but didn't give up. She wouldn't be able to outrun or avoid any of the blade where she was, and focusing on the circle meant she couldn't move. Eventually, the hilt of the sword began melting away, but Reimu couldn't keep the spell active any longer. She dropped her arms, and the circle vanished. She braced for impact, but it never came. She managed to sustain the card long enough for that sword to dissolve, but there was no way she could do it again, and the scenery hadn't changed, which meant Tearfang's card was still active. She remembered her orbs, and smiled inwardly. While she was busy, they kept firing. A glance at Tearfang proved her right; the spell was greatly weakened! She just had to keep fighting for just a short while longer, and she would win.

   What she didn't expect, however, was for Tearfang to split into two. Unlike Reimu's clone, both Tearfangs looked the same. The amulets flew as if confused, since both were equally distant from where Reimu was firing them, and they couldn't decide which one to hit. Now, each Tearfang was conjuring a massive sword, but they looked smaller than the original one. Reimu looked back and forth between them. Both had spell shields, so theoretically, damaging one would end the spell sooner. But what if it didn't? Could she take that chance? She looked at the swords, their shape finally becoming solid, and realized she had very little time. She gasped in epiphany, and flew right between each Tearfang. Her assumption was right; they were too busy calculating and focusing to realize her plan. The swords finished, the Tearfangs brought their arms down, and the swords flew towards Reimu's position. Just as she had planned.

   She darted to her left, back towards her original position. The swords didn't change trajectory, and now she was well outside of their range. Each Tearfang watched in horror as the other's sword was heading straight for them. As they collided, Reimu heard two perfectly similar pained yells from the two who were just hit. Reimu deactivated her yin-yangs, and noticed the scenery changing from its strange mirage-like state back to the misty darkness it used to be. The two Tearfangs floated where they last were, the swords vanishing as if they never existed. Both sword girls were hunched over, clutching one arm in the same manner as the other, even panting simultaneously. Slowly, they drifted together, and fused into one girl once again, her clothes in even worse condition than earlier. If she was on the ground, Reimu had no doubts she would have collapsed by now.

   Reimu wasn't in nearly as bad of a condition, but she certainly didn't feel as good as she did when she entered. Even still, she felt confident from another victory. "So, you ready to give up, or what?"

   Tearfang swallowed, and shook her head. "I never surrender. But I will concede, in accordance with my orders, and how these spell card duels function."

   Neither made another move. "So," Reimu said, clapping her hands together to help break the silence. "Why aren't you leading me yet?"

   "I cannot simply abandon my post. However, I can give you this information. That storm conceals what you seek. Your destination lies at the eye."

   "Awesome. I can just fly above it and..."

   "I'm afraid that's impossible. The storm is far too massive, and you will be lucky if you reach the eye by nightfall, if you survive the decreased air pressure and oxygen levels. Go under, and all manner of ill weather awaits you. Even I cannot predict what will happen."

   "So I have to go through the storm to get there quickly and safely." Reimu sighed. "Why can't, just once, this be a bit easier..."

   Despite her obvious pain, Tearfang managed a small laugh. "Now why would anything be easier? It would be more difficult to drive you away if the rest of your journey were to be simple."

   "You say that as if you've been watching and studying me. For a very long time."

   "I am unable to disclose this information to you. But I do have permission to tell you this; be thankful I am the only one here to stop you. Anyone else..." she gestured to the storm. "...and not even the hag with the gaps can save you then."

   That line again...implying Yukari's powerless here...at least I think she's referring to Yukari...but my powers are fine, so what does it mean? Reimu shook away her thoughts. Those weren't important right now. What was important was finding the culprit. She proceeded towards the rift, pausing only once to glance at Tearfang, who nodded, and exited the Ingress.

   The sun was blinding at first, emerging from the strange darkness. She looked back, and saw Tearfang rush off, probably to patch herself up and resume guarding. The rift looked completely unnatural, like someone took a patch of nighttime and sewed it haphazardly to the air. But, that was behind Reimu now. Her next destination was within the swirling mass of clouds ahead of her. As she watched it spin, she could see flashes of lightning illuminating the clouds. "At least Tearfang told the truth. Flying over this thing would take too long, and I imagine the storm would only be worse under the clouds. So, looks like I'm going through..." She picked a spot where the clouds opened slightly, as if expecting her. She steeled her resolve, and flew into the storm.


   Tearfang watched the shrine maiden pass back into Gensokyo with disdain. She would have stopped her, but somehow she was too powerful. Not many beings were more powerful than her that she had faced, but she couldn't find any error when replaying the memory of the battle. Everything was flawless and played by the rules. Was she just that powerful?

   Her musings were interrupted by a small orb drifting lazily towards her. Tearfang happened to glance at it and notice its proportionally large, single eye. It was no bigger than her palm, which she held out for it to rest on. It floated over her hand, and silently gazed at her, blinking once. Tearfang returned the stare, as if some form of telepathy. "Mistress wishes for me to return to the palace? A surprising order, considering her condition, but very well. Thank you for delivering this message." The orb nodded, and Tearfang returned the nod. "The message is appreciated, Dark Matter. I will depart at once." Tearfang glanced at the shrine maiden once more, who was looking back at her. She turned and flew towards the Ingress portal that led directly to the palace, far off to the right of the one before the storm.

   As she left, the Dark Matter stared at her. Once she was out of sight, it turned towards the storm, seeing the last of the shrine maiden be consumed by it. Silently, it flew through the rift, and followed her into the clouds...

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
  • Should I be concerned? I think I should be concern
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Sock
Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2013, 06:44:03 am »
Hey look, I'm not dead. I'm just very busy and the next update to the story probably won't be for a while. Oh well, life is life.


Chapter 7
Nocturne of a Grand Typhoon


   Reimu performed a midair roll to dodge an arc of black lightning from another strange dark eyeball-like creature. It looked like the creature with the turquoise eye and petal-like things, but they didn't have the protrusions the first one had. They also fought more like sentries than sentient beings, and weren't terribly strong. The fairies within the storm were tougher, but there were a lot more of those eyes. She had lost track of how many of each she had shot down recently. Whatever they are, they attacked me first, so if I even needed justification, I have it! she thought as she struck the orb with a needle directly in the eye. It dispersed, leaving no trace it was ever even there.

   Reimu wasn't sure how long she'd been in the swirling mass of clouds, but she at least knew she was going in the right way thanks to the direction the clouds were spinning in. Despite the hostility, she was much more comfortable here than in the Ingress. The main downsides that she could figure were the rain and dampness she felt, constantly watching out for lightning, the hostile creatures...

   "How is this better than the Ingress again?"

   In addition, whenever she saw an eye, she could feel herself start to go into a frenzy. It was too coincidental for there not to be a correlation between her crappy mood and these things. She would feel better every time she took one down, but more would always fill their place, and her attitude would only get worse the more of these eyes she saw. The fairies didn't affect her, but that didn't mean they weren't affected. She noted that these fairies also wore outfits like the ones in the Ingress, but these seemed more determined to drive off intruders, while the others were fighting seemingly out of self-defence.

   She ducked to escape under a barrage of bullets released from a cluster of fairies, when before her eyes, a fork of lightning crashed into two of them, rendering them unconscious and scattering the others. If she didn't keep moving, she might wind up getting fried like one of those fairies. She quickly shot down the remaining ones and continued forward.

   She flew unchallenged for a few minutes, giving her some time to wring out her sleeves, which were starting to become a hindrance with their weight. She was about to take off her hair ribbon to do the same thing when she felt like she was being watched. Now that I think about it, I've felt this since I left the Ingress... She turned around, and managed to catch a glimpse of another, smaller eye dart behind a small wall of clouds. Confused, Reimu floated over to its small shelter, holding a few amulets just in case. It glanced up at her, and Reimu noticed just how small it was. It wasn't even bigger than her hand. In a really strange sense, it was almost sort of...cute. Cautiously, she reached for it, but it sped off past her in the direction she was originally going.

   She decided against chasing after it, since she still didn't know what these things were. She turned to look back one last time, and took a deep breath. Her hair had been matted to her head from the rain, and she pushed a few loose strands out of her eyes. She turned back to continue in where she believed was the correct direction, and saw what must have been twenty of those eyes all staring at her. Not a single one blinked. None of them moved. All of them had to be at least her size. Reimu didn't dare move either. How...how did they all manage to sneak up on me like this? she wondered as she snapped out of her initial shock. Slowly, she flew towards the largest gap between them, trying to watch all of them simultaneously so none of them could try anything to catch her off guard.

   Yet, despite her diligence, a small group tried to rush her while her back was turned. Her yin-yangs were already set to fire homing amulets, so she didn't hesitate. The first few fell, then the next, but they couldn't fire everywhere at once. Reimu felt herself get struck in the back by something large, but it didn't burn like danmaku did. She reached behind her, but her hand met no resistance, only cold nothingness, even if it did block some of the rain. She brought her hand back in front of her, and saw it was pitch-black, which slowly faded back into its normal skin color.

   Did that thing just...charge at me? And where did it go? She looked around frantically, but saw nothing. Suddenly, she felt a searing pain in her skull, a headache that made her want to vomit and scream at the same time. It was like she was severely dehydrated, which wasn't possible. The thought of dehydration immediately led to thoughts of tea, and how she would rather be back at the shrine than out here in the middle of nowhere. It would be better at home, wouldn't it?

   Reimu's eyes widened. "Who's there?" No one answered her call. She looked around, and saw no one. Not even a fairy or an eye. I must be imagining things...

   Yes...I'm a wreck, aren't I? Maybe I should just go back home...

   "Gah!" Reimu yelped as her headache grew more intense. Whatever was causing it seemed linked to those strange thoughts that didn't seem like her own.

   I'll probably catch a cold out here in the rain. I'm sure the sword girl would be glad to lead us back to the other portal.

   ...Us?

   Silence. The strange suggestions ceased, and Reimu became suspicious.  Those thoughts were definitely not her own. When she thought to herself, she usually hears her voice, too. This one sounded...off, somehow. And that eye that disappeared...

   Maybe I should just go home.

   Yes. It is a good idea.

   Now why would I respond to myself in my own thoughts?

   Again, it became silent. Whatever it was, it wasn't too bright, but it still had some sort of telepathic hold on her. She couldn't bring herself to move forward, but moving back she was just fine.

   I thought so.

   Silence! the voice spat. It sounded completely different now, not even trying to masquerade as her thoughts anymore. I was tasked to drive you off, and that's what I will do! And there's nothing you can do to sto- Reimu felt a slight shock as the voice suddenly stopped talking. As it spoke, Reimu could form a mental image of one of the eyes, speaking to her through telepathy, since it had no mouth. Its hateful expression turned to one of surprise, then its eye narrowed. Wait...you're that red-white we were told was coming...

   Reimu audibly grimaced. WHY DOES EVERYONE CALL ME THAT?! she shouted mentally.

   She could see the eye wince in pain. Hey, no need to be that loud! I'm only doing what we were created to do. Influence weaker minds.

   Reimu could feel herself getting irritated as this thing refused to leave her alone. And now it has the audacity to call her mind weak? Well, if I'm so weak-minded, come fight me directly. I should lose, shouldn't I?

   Very well. This logic seems sound. Is our influence that bad at all? With that, Reimu saw a thin black mist come out of her shirt, through where her heart would be. It coalesced back into its orb-like form, and tried shooting a small wave of black pellet-shaped bullets. Reimu smiled and stepped aside as the bullets flew right past her. She drew two large amulets, and set them at the eye. Both impacted, creating a small explosion. Once the smoke cleared, there was not even a trace of the eye.

   Reimu dusted her hands off. "Too easy. I figured it wasn't that bright." A boom of thunder drowned out the sound of her back-patting, and she took the hint and proceeded. Her headache had gone away, and she felt so much better having dealt with that thing. It made her happy, in a way. A sort of mental oasis, quickly shrouded by black fog.

   Advancing quite a ways further with no resistance, Reimu found herself in a clearing, with one hole above her that let sunlight through. It's too small to be the eye of the storm, Reimu figured. A protrusion of clouds further ahead of her parted, revealing another person, which surprised Reimu. She didn't think anyone else besides fairies and those eyes would be in this raging typhoon. As Reimu got a closer look, she became more and more puzzled. She looked familiar, but...

   The girl waved an arm, and the rest of the clouds obscuring her vanished, revealing red hair, yellow and green clothes, and a baton in her left hand. Reimu gasped as she recognized who she was. It was a faint, distant memory...but she was sure of it. "No way...You're that youkai from the mountain, who tried to pass herself off as a human...Orange! That was your name!" As she said this, she noted several inconsistencies with her memory. For one, she originally found Orange on a mountain...why would she be so far out to sea? And since when were her eyes dichromatic? Her right eye was a sickly yellow color, while her left was the bright orange color she remembered.

   Orange seemed taken aback. "I...am surprised you recognized me. I did not expect to see you here, Red-Whi-"

   Reimu glared at her, as if daring her to finish. "However..." she said, changing the subject. "This doesn't seem like your kind of hangout. You do seem more powerful, though. Much more than...what did you call yourself when we met the first time? A 'stage one boss'?" Reimu folded her arms. "Just what does that mean?"

   Orange shrugged, and Reimu thought she saw another inconsistency with her shadow on the clouds behind her. Especially since light would be coming in from above them, not from her...

   "Anyway...you seem to be in the way. Again. If you learned anything from last time, you should just let me pass."

   Orange twirled her baton and assumed a fighting stance. "Nope. If you want to pass, you gotta beat me first." She swung the baton backwards, and Reimu thought she saw something dart out of the way of her arm right before it would strike. To test her intuition, she threw a lone amulet at where the thing would be exposed, with no danger of hitting Orange at all. The youkai swiftly deflected the amulet with her baton before realizing her mistake. She just guarded what was supposed to be empty air.

   Reimu grinned slyly and proceeded to bombard Orange with needles from her orbs. Orange retaliated with well-aimed barrages of plain white bullets. "Tch. Too easy," Reimu taunted as she effortlessly wove through the bullets. Orange smiled and spun her baton, which Reimu noted that she didn't do before. The bullets split, turning into clusters of tiny multicolored bullets that managed to almost encircle Reimu completely before they dispersed. However, Orange was definitely taking hits, while Reimu was dodging everything, not letting anything get closer than grazing distance. Orange lifted an arm, and white kunai began circling her. However, their spread was too thin, and Reimu easily slipped through them, managing to throw a few amulets that directly hit Orange, one between the eyes.

   Orange righted herself after the blow, and held aloft an unsurprisingly orange spell card. "Image sign 'False Being'!" Orange threw her baton into the air, which shot two orange orbs of light to her sides. Two translucent Oranges appeared next to her, and they began shooting red and orange danmaku. Halfway, they turned from normal danmaku into multiple different types of bullets, ranging from kunai to pellets and even stars. The real Orange's hair, strangely enough, turned blue. This made targeting her easier, but those false Oranges were now going off to her sides, continuing their barrage. After they almost tripled their distance from the real Orange, another two fakes were created, doubling the bullets Reimu had to dodge.

   Reimu looked up from where the enemy bullets were flying to see the distortion that meant the spell was about to break. However, in the distortion, a strange, large shape could be seen behind her. In her wonder, she almost let herself get skewered with a kunai. She jumped to her right, but the bullet still cut through her sleeve and struck her forearm, making Reimu shriek in pain. She didn't know why bullets were so painful to her, while it took dozens of hers for an enemy to feel something even out of a spell card, but by now she had simply come to accept it. Once she regained her composure, she resumed her assault, despite the addition of two more ghostlike Oranges.

   Mere seconds afterward, the duplicates all slumped over, as if run through with a blade. The real Orange's hair turned back to normal, but it didn't even look like she had a scratch. Reimu couldn't help but feel disappointed in herself for letting herself get hit right before the spell ended, but there was nothing she could do to change that. Her gaze shifted back to Orange, who was still floating there, transfixed. She dropped her baton, which fell through the clouds until it could not be seen. For a second, Reimu wondered if she went too hard on the poor girl before remembering that she was, indeed, a youkai. At least, that's what she thought, until the image of Orange in front of her became distorted with static and slowly faded out of existence. In her place was another giant eye, this one as big as Reimu's head, and it looked a lot more stable than the others she had seen. "Hey! You look like the one that possessed Yoake!" Upon saying this, she immediately made the connection between how the first orb changed Yoake's eyes yellow, and that the fake Orange had a yellow eye.

   Instead of turquoise petals and eye, this one was orange. Its choice of masquerade was fitting, to say the least, Reimu thought. The orb's eye narrowed, and it shot a bolt of black lightning laced with orange oval-shaped bullets before turning and flying off into the clouds. When Reimu looked to see where it went, it was already out of sight, but she knew the general direction it was travelling in. "I've gotta be halfway there by this point..." With no other options besides to give up, she once again flew into the clouds. These were darker, and the rain was heavier here. Within seconds, her clothes were soaked through again. The sudden gusts of wind causing goosebumps across Reimu's arms, she proceeded further ahead.

   Her first fairy encounter in this new storm was much stranger than earlier. These were flying in lines and formations, and their danmaku, consisting mostly of blue bullets of various shapes, left very little maneuvering room. An occasional shadow orb would create more problems, since they weren't as patterned as the fairies, and their shots were faster.

   Reimu sneezed, then had to focus once again as a torrent of large oblong cyan-colored bullets rained down on her. She darted left, into a different column of space, where the bullets weren't as dense. A bolt of lightning in her previous position followed by the loudest peal of thunder she ever heard made Reimu sigh in relief once her ears stopped ringing. The fairies before her scattered after the lightning struck. "What, these things live in the storm, but they can't handle a little lightning? That doesn't make sense," she said with a sniffle. She was starting to get annoyed at how heavy her clothes felt, but could do nothing about it. The wind felt like it was cutting right through her clothes, enough that Reimu was really wishing she had a blanket. An umbrella would just blow away in this storm. Reimu snickered at the thought of Kogasa being thrown haphazardly around in the storm.

   As she continued onward, a blonde fairy drifted out of the clouds, and stopped about fifty feet from where Reimu was floating. This was one of the larger fairies, with huge wings. She often saw them carrying larger flowers, like sunflowers. This one was also carrying a flower, a large black rose, which complimented her dress quite nicely, Reimu admitted. However, she also knew larger fairies were more powerful, and tended to be annoying to take down. She reset her yin-yangs for needles, and tried to score as many hits as possible before the fairy began firing. And yet, she couldn't finish it off before bright red energy balls began radiating from her in a clockwise motion. As Reimu maneuvered between them, the fairy switched directions, this time shooting orange bullets. The danmaku kept increasing speed as it ran through the rest of the spectrum: yellow, green, blue, then violet being the fastest. Finally, the fairy gave up, and tried to fly away, leaving tattered cloth and small amounts of blood in her wake. Reimu wasn't just going to let it get away, however; she threw a handful of amulets that spread out, then closed in, all striking the fairy at the same time. The fairy dropped, as so many had prior.

   Reimu didn't have to travel too far to face a very imposing wall of dark clouds. She had no doubt that beyond this was what she was trying so hard to find. The only deterrent was the amount of lightning that was surging through the wall. Before she could even begin figuring out what to do, she became aware of a figure passing through the clouds. It looked younger than her, and was clad in some sort of bluish-purple mantle to hide her body. Yet, Reimu could clearly see the ghostly tail behind her, which drifted to her left as she stopped. Behind her V-shaped visor, a bluish-purple eye and a yellow eye glinted with an almost protective malice.

   As she - at least, I think it's a she... - floated into view, Reimu could see that her tail wasn't the normal pale color that ghosts and spirits often took. Instead, it was pitch black, like her very spiky hair. Her cloak parted as Reimu assumed she was reaching for something, and noticed that she was wearing violet armor, over a traditional shirt that she couldn't quite identify under the armor. From within the cloak, she drew a lead-colored sword, and pointed it towards Reimu. However, she couldn't see her arms; she only had floating hands! She regarded Reimu with silence, but her body language wasn't that of someone who would let her pass.

   Reimu smirked and drew more amulets, waiting for the swordsgirl to make a move. "I can deal with silence. Just makes beating you that much faster," Reimu taunted.

   The girl took the bait, and charged at Reimu, snarling. The slash was easy to dodge, and the girl tried to rush back to where she was, making herself an easy target. All of the amulets Reimu threw hit home, even though they didn't seem to phase the girl one bit. Seeing that her charge attack didn't work, she held her sword straight up, and began charging blue lightning in it. Once it glowed, Reimu knew this would be devastating if she let it hit. The girl swung her sword in a wide arc, and multiple balls of energy flew out, burning right through the clouds. She swung again, releasing more waves of energy. Reimu used this opportunity to start unleashing her own danmaku, intent on beating her quickly and moving on. The girl, however, began weaving through Reimu's shots as her sword lost its glow. Once the remaining energy faded, Reimu would have a clear shot at the spirit, and she intended to make as much use of it as possible.

   The last energy orb vanished from her field of vision, and Reimu began focusing her fire onto the girl in front of her. She made few mistakes, but the ones she did make were rather...stupid, ones that Reimu knew she wouldn't have made. One needle managed to break the necklace the girl was wearing, gold with a purple jewel. It sailed below the clouds, probably never to be seen again. This angered the swordsgirl, who pointed her sword once again at Reimu. This time, a purple light gathered at the tip, and multiple purple lasers shot out, which spread out instead of moving in a straight line. Ugh...not curved lasers... From her dealings with recent youkai, Shou especially, Reimu had learned to hate curved lasers, and made sure to deal extra punishment to those who used them. Few of the lasers actually moved in her direction, but enough that she didn't feel safe sitting still. Once the laser barrage ended, Reimu looked up to see the girl charging at her again. Once she was close enough, Reimu casually sidestepped her and whacked her in the back of the head with her gohei. The girl didn't take too kindly to this, and as she backed up, her other disembodied hand drew a purple card from within her cloak. She held it and her sword aloft before softly speaking. "'Cloudbreaker'."

   Reimu tilted her head. Cloudbreaker? Is that the name of the spell? As if to answer her question, the warrior slashed through the clouds around her, which transformed into bullets of myriad colors. The constant slashing of clouds quickly cleared the area, but also filled it with an avalanche of danmaku. Reimu could hardly see in front of her to fire at the girl, and had to rely on only the otherworldly sound of her sword cutting through cloud to make bullets to determine her shot. There was no set pattern to the bullets' flight, but Reimu was starting to feel comfortable dodging around them and predicting which would be threats and which wouldn't. The girl, however, would always start on the left, then slash to the right. Reimu could tell the spell was weakening, as the bullets increased in volume. To her surprise, most of the bullets only came close to her, and she didn't have to dodge nearly as much as time went on. Soon enough, the spell broke, and the girl was left floating in front of her, exhausted. "Is that it?"

   The girl blinked and gave a half-smile. "You're...strong." Her voice was so soft that Reimu had to strain to hear her. She held up her sword in front of her, aiming directly at her own chest. Reimu's eyes widened, realizing the girl aimed to kill herself rather than be bested. She chuckled in response to Reimu's reaction. "But your emotions will only be your downfall. Heh heh...see ya." She stabbed herself right in the chest, but her face gave no reaction. Her skin began to darken and lose its defining features, until the cloak, armor, and sword all fell away, leaving a pitch-black mass in front of Reimu. It gathered itself into a sphere, only the size of her head, and grew multiple violet, petal-like things on its back, and an eye of the same color opened, staring blankly at Reimu. It turned and flew through the wall of clouds, never taking its eye off of Reimu. Once it was obscured, a hole opened in the clouds, leading through to a bright area. She instantly perked up at the thought of being back in warm sunlight, and shivered, remembering that she was soaked and still getting rained on.

   Without any more hesitation, she flew through the gap in the clouds, and into a giant, dark grey cylinder, the sun overhead and the ocean sparkling below. Reimu took a deep breath, elated that she finally found the eye of the storm. She basked in the sun's rays, letting them warm and dry her. As she wrung out her hair and clothes, she looked around.  She wasn't even halfway up the eye, but she certainly wasn't close to the ocean. It really would have taken too long to fly over the storm than go through it. She was glad she made the right choice, even though she didn't feel her best right now. As the thought crossed her mind, she sneezed, and decided it was time to continue.

   She began scanning the storm for any unnatural clouds that looked darker than usual. Right in the center of the eye, a lone black cloud sat silently and completely still. "It's about damn time. I didn't fly over some random ocean, into the midst of a weird dimension, and through a freaking hurricane just to find nothing. Time to end this." She took one more moment to bask in the sunlight and to take a deep breath, and proceeded towards the cloud with fervor. Her speed slowly decreased as she realized the cloud was further away than she thought...and also a lot larger! After a few minutes she was finally within a few feet of the cloud.

   Simply being near it made her head swim. She could feel emotional rollercoasters of sadness, fear, despair, hatred, and more rolling over her, enough that she had to float a short distance back or be overwhelmed. This might be harder than I thought...hmm...I could just charge in, try to barge through the clouds...but they seem so unnatural, they'll probably try to repel me somehow. What to do... She began flying slowly around the cloud, looking for anything out of the ordinary. "Come to think of it...didn't that girl mention something about a palace?" she wondered aloud.

   "Oi! Who's out there?!" Now startled out of her train of thought, Reimu drew her gohei and looked around for the source of the noise. She didn't see anyone or anything but the clouds around her. "Well? Ya gonna speak up, or am I gonna have to come out there?"

   "I'm here on business. Who're you?"

   "Business?" Slowly, a grey cloud floated down from over the black one. With the black cloud as a background, this cloud looked almost pure white. "That doesn't really answer my question. But, whatever. Anyway..." The clouds parted, and a woman floated out, not too much taller than Reimu. "G'day. Name's Izumi Wondjina. Now that you know me, who the devil are you?"

   "Reimu Hakurei. Original resident shrine maiden. Professional incident resolver. You should know why I'm here." She took the time during conversation to size Izumi up. She wore a bluish grey sleeveless dress under a rather fancy grey coat. The coat's sleeves look like they'd be hot in the summer, but she noticed the air got considerably moderate once she showed up. She wore light grey stockings that vanished under her dress, which might be considered fancy, yet indecent without them. White circles with two smaller black circles within them as if they were eyes ringed the base of her coat, looking like they had some significance. Her sky-blue eyes contrasted greatly with the grey feeling around her, and looked to have a mix of youthful vigor, wisdom of many years, and a sense of duty and caring. No doubt her light grey hair betrayed her true age, let alone her age to be determined by appearance. Yet the one detail that caught Reimu's eye the most was her headgear. Perched on top of her head, tilted slightly back, was a tornado-shaped hat, the base of its impact forming where the hat met her head. The more she looked at it, the more she was convinced the tornado was actually turning.

   Izumi sighed. "Yeah, we figured you'd be comin' here." Her voice had a slight accent to it, one unfamiliar to Reimu, although she's sure she had heard it before. "Good on ya for making it through all you've gone through to get here, though. Journey's more important than the destination, eh, mate?" Reimu raised an eyebrow in response. "Ah, well, 's a pity your journey's not over yet. See, I was told to guard this place, and whip up this typhoon. Best I've ever made, too. Might almost call it a perfect storm. Much easier and more fun maintaining this than making this thing fly around." She pointed her thumb over her shoulder, regarding the black cloud.

   Well, she's friendly enough. I guess that counts for something, Reimu thought to her self. "Uh, that's all fine and dandy, but I kinda need to get into that cloud. So, if you don't mind..."

   Izumi held up a hand. "'Fraid I can't let you do that, mate. Ya gotta get through me first if you wanna get in. That's why I guard." She broke into a smile. "But, if you come back in a couple days, visiting hours will be from two to three PM at five hundred yen," she joked.

   Reimu folded her arms and glared. "Right, and I'll be sure to wear the panda costume. No. Whatever, I'm going in." She passed Izumi, who dropped the smile and watched her pass. This'll just be too easy, Reimu thought once again. Right outside of the cloud, however, Reimu suddenly felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, and her intuition screamed at her to move. She jumped back just as a bolt of lightning crashed out of nowhere right where she was just floating. Or, maybe not.

   "Didn't I just say you couldn't get in without going through me?" Izumi was holding what looked like a maestro's baton in her right hand, but it was more jagged near where Izumi's hand was, and it glowed brightly. "Now, you gonna step back, or will I have to try and fry ya again?"

   "Well how was I supposed to know you could control lightning? I thought you were some sort of cloud youkai!" Reimu yelled, not sure why she felt so hostile.

   "Well perhaps if you had listened to my name, you would know. Wondjina. I'm a storm spirit, mate. High pressure, low pressure, heat waves, cold snaps, rain, sleet, snow, and everything in between. Not very often I cause disasters anymore, but certainly not impossible."

   Reimu mentally slapped a palm to her forehead. Right. Should have been able to tell by the tornado hat she had some sort of weather powers that weren't limited to just clouds. Instead, she almost got fried. She sighed at the thought of yet another fight. "I suppose now's the time I need to beat you up so I can get what I want."

   Izumi smiled defiantly. "We'll see about that. Oh, and sorry, this really is no way to treat a guest, I'm just following orders. No worries, eh, mate?" She raised the baton, gripping it between her thumb and first two fingers, holding it aloft and to the side. Clouds began to gather around them, heeding the call of their controller. Once a ring of clouds formed around them, Izumi began waving the baton in a simple rhythm, one Reimu could follow easily. Since the fight hadn't started yet, Reimu decided to take an extra precaution and draw another two yin-yang orbs along with the first two, four being most she can stabilize and control at a time without them bouncing anywhere. And with nothing solid around besides possibly the black cloud and something in the ocean, those orbs would be lost if she tried that technique.

   Keeping the rhythm, Izumi points to a cloud behind and to the right of Reimu. It emits a small boom of thunder, and it was then Reimu noticed she was hearing a lot of storm-like noises, but it almost sounded like an orchestra. However, she didn't get to listen for long, as the cloud shot a small stream of white feather-shaped bullets. Izumi does the same again, this time pointing her baton at another cloud directly to Reimu's left with the same result. Izumi closes her eyes and focuses for a second, her hand in the air, as if holding something, before she brings her hand down in a pulling motion. Her arms raise again, and the cacophany of storms begins anew, this time with a more vigorous tempo, and Izumi is motioning towards many different clouds, rapidly reducing Reimu's maneuvering room with rapid streams of bullets.

   Without wasting any more time, Reimu set her orbs to needles, all four trained on Izumi. With that much firepower, she didn't even have to focus on throwing anything and could focus primarily on dodging. The wind was really picking up around them now, its shrill whistle complimenting the deep booms of thunder. The clouds around them slowly dispersed as Izumi reached into her jacket pocket. "Rain sign 'Downpour'!" Upon declaration, the area became darker,  and many of the clouds around them turned into shapes that vaguely resembled instruments. Reimu was cut off from admiring the change of scenery as a massive gale of wind began pushing her to the side. She found that she could fight the wind and make headway, but if she stopped moving she would continue to be blown to her left. Izumi raised her baton again, and multitudes of clouds gathered behind her. She began conducting once again, and Reimu kept her eyes trained on her, even though she couldn't keep them open for too long due to the wind.

   At first, it was only a few bullets, but soon there were dozens upon dozens, all flying at her from the clouds in front of her. The worst part is that they were also being blown by the wind, so the dense bullets weren't even moving in a straight line. Soon enough, actual rain also began falling, soaking Reimu once again. She rolled her eyes. "I really don't want to have to put up with this. I've had enough rain in the past hour alone, I don't need it in the middle of a fight!" She began looking around for options, when suddenly the wind shifted direction, sending Reimu hurtling to her right, unfortunately into a rain bullet, and almost into another one. She felt it strike her thigh, and yelped in pain. She quickly righted herself and began fighting the wind again and dodging. While she was maneuvering, she drew three large amulets. She was primed to throw them when she could hear the sound of the spell finally weakening. Even if it didn't hurt her that much, Reimu was angry now, and let them fly. As soon as they started their flight, the card ended, and it became instantly brighter. The rain and the rain bullets both vanished, and Reimu got to see a very surprised storm spirit take the brunt of her amulets without a spell to shield her.

   There was a slight buzzing noise as the three amulets exploded, and the smoke cleared to show Izumi waving it away with her baton hand and coughing. "Really? A sneak attack right as soon as that spell ended? That just ain't fair." The smoke completely cleared, and Izumi held her baton aloft again, her other arm behind her back. "A'right then, no more Ms. Nice Wondjina. Looks like it's time to, as they say in the outside world, 'bring the rain'!" She held her other arm aloft in the same manner as the other, and Reimu noticed she was now holding another baton that looks similar to the first one. She brought them both down at the same time, and a bolt of lightning arced behind her.

   Reimu now realized her mistake, as now Izumi began pelting the area with yellow bullets, occasionally puncturing it with a lightning strike. Now Reimu had to especially keep on her toes, or one bolt of lightning would probably take her out of the sky. She noticed that a bolt would only be coming at her if she felt her hair stand on end, like earlier in front of the black cloud, which she now noticed was directly behind Izumi. She knew she wouldn't be able to just barge past her, so she had to keep fighting. As time went on, Reimu could feel the air also getting colder. If this meant anything like it did before her first spell, then her next one will have to do with the cold. Just as her teeth began chattering, Izumi drew another spellcard, holding it and a baton in one hand. "Maestro's Tempo 'Thunderous Whiteout in 6/4'!"

   Reimu had no idea what '6/4' meant, but she braced herself for whatever might come her way. She felt the wind begin blowing again, making the cold air combined with her damp clothing even colder. She resumed fighting the wind, resetting her orbs to homing amulets so she knew all of her shots would hit. Izumi gestured for what should be the first beat, and two lightning bolts crashed to Reimu's sides. She swung her arms out sideways, and two bolts came in from the sides. She did this once more out, then twice in, the lightning changing position slightly, just enough that Reimu couldn't sit still if she tried. She then raised her arms, and two more bolts arced in from behind her, once again walling her in. She knew she had a definite box, but it would be too easy if it were just this...

   As she thought this, she felt something cold land on her nose before dropping down the front of it. She risked looking up, and saw snowflakes begin falling. "Oh come on! It's summertime!" she exasperatedly yelled. As she yelled, small white danmaku began fluttering from Izumi's position, and it too was being blown by the wind. It was a lot slower than the rain from earlier, but with the limited space she had, she really had to keep her eyes out, especially after a flash ignites in front of her. Temporary blindness in a danmaku battle will only resolve poorly for the blind one...unless you're fighting Mystia.

   Izumi, now in a trance, couldn't even see how her attack was faring or how weak her spell could be getting. All she could do was keep the snow falling, perhaps she could chill the shrine maiden out of trying to attack them. She took a risk and broke her concentration slightly to see how she was faring, and nearly gasped and lost all concentration. Her spell shield was draining rapidly, and Reimu didn't even look scratched from the constant attack. In fact, she was counter attacking by throwing amulets to speed up the process. Within seconds, her attack was shut down, and the temperature quickly rose back closer to room temperature. Before she could even ask how Reimu didn't even get hit, a stray amulet struck her hand, causing one of her batons to start falling towards the ocean. "Oh, shit! No no no no no no no!" she yelled as she frantically dove after it.

   Reimu smirked as she saw an amulet hit Izumi's hand and force her to drop one of her lightning-causing batons. She watched it fall for a few seconds before registering that Izumi was diving after it. She followed, trying to reach the baton first.

   The Wondjina began creating warm updrafts to slow the descent of her precious baton, simultaneously creating a tailwind to help her move faster. She was muttering to herself out of concern, and didn't notice Reimu rapidly catching up to her. She reached her arm out, and grasped the point of the baton, and another hand caught the grip of the wand. "Hey! Let go!"

   Reimu shook her head, both of them still falling, and now trying to pull it out of the other's hold. "No way!" she yelled back.

   Izumi shrugged. "Suit yourself." Reimu's eyes narrowed suspiciously, before she felt her hand start to tingle. It quickly escalated and spread through her body until she could hear a slight crackling in her ears. She felt like every part of her was being stabbed with a needle by an amateur acupuncturist. Her vision swam and she started making strange sounds, made stranger by her teeth chattering again. She desperately wanted to let go, but her hand wouldn't listen to her. As fast as it started, the sensation ceased, and Reimu could finally let go. Her entire body was still tingling uncomfortably, and she was having problems staying afloat, let alone focused. Soon her head started to clear, and then she noticed a cool rain was falling on her, reviving her senses and fixing her now frazzled hair.

   The two managed a ceasefire until they resumed their positions at the cloud. "What, are you trying to kill me? You've got lightning flying everywhere and you're electrocuting me with that baton, and I'll probably get hypothermia or pneumonia from the cold and damp."

   "Oh, relax. The lightning's just really convincing danmaku. And I wouldn't just kill ya, unless I had good reason. With how dirty you've been fightin', though, I feel as though a bit of pain is justified."

   "And what's the big deal with getting me soaking wet with all of this rain?"

   "You're implying I wouldn't have dried you off after the battle. Weather ain't just rain, mate."

   "Fair enough." They finally resumed their original positions. Reimu cracked her neck and sighed. "Alright, now where were we?"

   Izumi cleared her throat, and reached into her other jacket pocket. "Like I said, weather ain't just rain." The air suddenly began heating up, and the sun's rays grew intense. "Heat Wave 'Parched Earth'!"

   The air almost immediately distorted from the sheer heat, and Reimu could feel it permeate through her damp clothing, drying it rapidly. She reset her yin-yang orbs to needles again, and kept her eyes trained on Izumi for what she would throw at her. Instead, she felt a strong blast of heat at her back, and then a half-circle of red energy orbs flew past her, her in a very fortunate gap between in the pattern. She turned, and saw a sphere of condensed heat, which radiated bright red bullets consistently. She turned back to Izumi to see her conducting again, and wondered how she didn't get tired or sweaty from this attack. She wiped her forehead, and moved slightly between two more bullets. This is too easy...what's she got pla- her thoughts were cut off as a stream of arrowhead-shaped bullets, ranging chromatically from red to yellow, like a ray of sunshine turned into danmaku, just like the beach girl from earlier...

   She maneuvered again through a wave, and turned to confirm her suspicions. From the sun above them, bright rays of danmaku were streaming down, adding to not only the brightness of the attack, but the difficulty and heat of it too. The angles of sunlight would block some paths through the heat wave behind her, so now she was assaulted on two sides. The heat waves were easy enough to slip through after a certain point, but the random rays of sunlight made dodging while maintaining accurate fire difficult. Two rays intersected right in front of Reimu, pinning her in place, and a bullet from a heat wave was moving in to strike. She began feeling around for spell cards, even the one Yukari gave her, which she had forgotten about until now. She couldn't find any in time, as the ball of energy slammed into her back. The blow combined with the oppressive heat forced her to stagger for a bit. The other blows she'd taken merely grazed too close and lightly hit; this one was direct, and she was foolish enough to just sit there and get hit.

   All of the bullets cleared, and Izumi looked on as Reimu tried to steady herself. "Ya all good? I can only hold off the danmaku for so long, you know." Reimu nodded, still hunched over slightly. She cracked her back, and Izumi nodded in return. "Right." The wave and streams of sunlight began anew, then disappeared right away. Confused, Izumi looked down at the spell card, which was a dull grey and orange, instead of its former vibrant colors, an obvious indicator that the magic in the card had run out. "Huh. Not every day someone times one of these out." She put it back in her pocket. "What 'bout you?"

   Although the heat had cleared, Reimu still ached from getting hit, and she could feel the sweat all over her body. "I actually preferred the rain. At least being damp from rain didn't make me feel...so...ew." She wiped more sweat from her brow, secretly grateful her sleeves were detached.

   Izumi grinned. "Well, I hope you've enjoyed my little show. But now, " she drew another card, this one a multitude of colors. "It's time for the grand finale! Extreme Weather 'Perfect Storm'!"

   As she declared it, Reimu could have sworn she saw Izumi's eyes glow a bright blue. Even more dramatic than before, Izumi raised her batons, and a swirling mass of clouds gathered above them, the sun gleaming in the eye of this miniature storm. The storm spirit once again resumed conducting, and Reimu instantly had to jump out of the way of a small lightning bolt. She didn't have much time to start shooting needles again, as all hell broke loose in the cloud. Alternating waves of heat and cold brought with them rain and snow bullets, the sun also shooting rays of sunlight again. Reimu almost panicked as a wall of dense danmaku fell almost right on top of her, and only with a short zig-zagging motion did she manage to escape it.

   The wind, now switching directions rapidly, at least helped Reimu cool off before she began frantically diving to escape lightning and sun rays and all sorts of weather. Izumi was staring blankly ahead as the weather kept wreaking havoc in front of her, yet her motions for which weather phenomenon should attack next were flawless and completely in beat. At her command, the rain began taking on the shape of music notes, the sun rays began appearing like quarter rests, even the wind began to flow in currents not unlike a music staff. The sky was her orchestra, and she was its master.

   Again, Reimu would have been left gawking at this display if only the bullets weren't aimed at her. There were so many ways this attack could be easier, but she was already in the thick of it, and had no choice but to deal with it or risk getting herself hurt. She pushed against the wind and narrowly dodged a bolt of lightning, yet by doing so cornered herself between two small snow-like bullets, the only bullets to have not changed into something that resembled music, not counting the lightning. She rose, both bullets scraping her shoes as she slipped between them. She felt surrounded, and then remembered she never reset her orbs. She didn't know why they automatically shut off after a spell or simple danmaku attack, probably as a defense mechanism so they didn't keep attacking after the battle had been won. Decisive victory is one thing; overkill is something to be expected of weak youkai.

   She ducked under another ray of sunlight and practically had to dance around the music rain. As she switched her orbs back on in a slower zone, she suddenly heard a "Hold still!" from Izumi. The temperature rapidly decreased, leaving Reimu shivering. This also solidified the rain into hail, which fell much faster, and the slow snowflake bullets all but vanished. She trained her orbs on Izumi's position, then flew out of the way of another bolt of lightning. She would be able to dodge most of this attack easily, even with the wind, if it weren't for that lightning.

   Although Reimu didn't even hear the spell shield break, all of the bullets in the area disappeared, leaving only Izumi and Reimu. The spirit looked around worried, then turned her attention back to Reimu. This time, her eyes were glowing bright blue as she glared at the shrine maiden. She spread her arms to her sides, and a great tornado began roaring around them, filled with danmaku, severely limiting Reimu's safe areas. She began conducting violently, and the full fury of the storm around them was unleashed, every kind of weather imaginable roaring around them.

   Reimu then noticed how most of the densest bullets were spawning further from Izumi this time. There were almost no bullets around her. Although it was sort of underhanded, she did have an idea on how to end this. After she twirled out of the way of the next lightning bolt, she charged forward. Izumi began dropping the bullets in a way to try and block Reimu's advance, trying to predict where she would be. As she approached, the sound of the spell weakening to its breaking point could be heard. Perfect.

   Lightning arced behind Izumi and thunder pealed around her, giving her a menacing appearance as her arms flailed to keep the storm matched with her. Two bolts flew from her batons, mixing into one large bolt as Reimu got too close.

   She almost expected this, and threw a large amulet up as a shield. It didn't hold, but it gave Reimu enough time to lunge over the bolt, crossing her right arm over to her left side as she did so. She got into point-blank range of Izumi, where she could easily cast one more lightning bolt and be done with the battle. Her batons were already crackling with another burst, but before she could even try to throw the bolts, Reimu brought her hand holding her gohei back across with a resounding thwok.

   The card instantly broke, and Izumi was hovering, doubled over, with more battle damage than Reimu noticed earlier. She turned back around, showing large red marks on her face. "Did...did you just try to bludgeon me with that thing?!"

   "It may seem like it, but I actually didn't. I can use my gohei to shoot danmaku that, at that range, could probably end most spell card durations in one hit. The main problem is getting close enough so they won't be able to dodge or counterattack."

   "I see...right. I was too focused on my card to try and maneuver around your attack." Despite the small tears in her eyes, she began smiling. The smile turned to laughter, until Reimu couldn't help but start smiling too. "I haven't had that much fun in a long time!"

   "I thought you said manipulating this storm was fun, though?"

   "Well, yeah, but that's as far as a bunch of clouds go. I mean getting into some sort of brawl and then losing, of all things! Well, against someone I figured I might stand a chance against."

   Reimu's expression shifted to a puzzled one. "Huh? What do you mean by that?"

   Izumi shook her head. "Oh no no, nothing against you, mate. It's just that...well, I seem to be too predictable for the others in the palace. Whenever we spar, it usually winds up with me losing, but that has helped me lose gracefully, I think." She looked down at her batons, one of which was broken on the end. "Gonna have to get this repaired..."

   "So, just what is this palace? First the girl in that dark, misty place accidentally said something about it, now you. So what's up with it?"

   "Well, figuring as you're already here, and I bet you want to get in, why keep secrets anymore. The cloud itself is a front. Just a disguise. Inside of it is a palace, where we began our...erm..."

   "Assault on Gensokyo?" Reimu finished sardonically.

   "That sounds a bit harsh, but...for lack of a better term, yes. Of course, I was necessary to provide the cloud-like disguise, but it was blackened by that substance you've run into numerous times now."

   "Substance?"

   "Yeah, the black blobs with the single eyes that fly around and shoot lightning. She calls them "Dark Matter". Basically living darkness. No one knows how she makes them come alive, or how she keeps them on such a tight leash. She's probably listening to our conversation right now using those things."

   "Uh...alright. So, you said you were guarding here. Since I beat you, you should probably unlock the door and let me in."

   "Well...funny thing about that, right there." She began scratching the back of her head, looking guilty. "I sorta...dropped the key while I was scouting about. The door was unlocked all this time. That's why I was so eager to go into combat. Believe me, ordinarily, I'm not this violent. If anything, I want to help others. I've grown up from my days causing inclement weather when I was in a foul mood. Catching people off-guard with a typhoon in the dry season, for instance. Maybe instead, I could teach people how to better prepare themselves in case of such an event." The two were approaching the black cloud by this point in the conversation, and slowed down.

   Reimu almost felt bad for the Wondjina. A good twenty lightning bolts away from almost. "Well, nothing's going to stop you from teaching, as long as you're not going to use it as a diversion to eat humans."

   Izumi was taken aback. "I don't know who you think I am, but I don't even like the taste of flesh, mate! Sure, I've tried human. Never liked it. I'll be perfectly under control."

   Reimu nodded and grinned. "In that case, just don't go doing anything to get me angry - or the other resident teacher of Gensokyo, for that matter. Unless you like having your skull feel like it's shattered for a week."

   Izumi raised an eyebrow. "Not sure what you mean, but alright. Well, you should probably get a move on, since I'm sure you're dying to fix this incident and go home."

   The thought of home, solid ground, and a nice, warm cup of tea reminded the miko that she had a job to do. She solemnly nodded, Izumi returning it with a soft, yet almost sad smile. She's not that bad after all. Maybe a bit talkative, but she means well. Probably the friendliest person I've seen today.

   Izumi lifted the baton that wasn't broken, and a hole appeared in the clouds, showing nothing but darkness, with what looked like the glint of a large, probably heavy gate at the front of a stone wall. The two silently flew into the hole, approaching the gate. As they reached it, Reimu turned back around. "Say, when you brought up that 'Dark Matter' or whatever, you kept referencing a 'she'. Just who are we talking about?"

   Izumi grasped the cold iron ring attached to the door, and began pulling it open. As soon as it was a large enough opening for Reimu, she stopped and peered around the door. "I thought you'd have figured it out by now. 'She' is the one known as a hollow angel, the one in charge of Gensokyo's new reign of despair, Jozero Kubomitenshi."


an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
  • Should I be concerned? I think I should be concern
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Sock
Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #19 on: December 25, 2013, 06:24:52 am »
So now that my first semester at college is finally done (still not sure why I chose engineering when I also like free time), I decided it was high time to finally post the next chapter. Now that it's over, I can write more. Hopefully I can get a lot done on the story during this time.
Also why does no one comment. I mean my writing can't be that great and I have no idea what people think about it. I can't improve without feedback!


Chapter 8
Final Requiem


   The door slammed shut behind her, leaving her alone once more in a massive, opulent hall. She couldn't even see the ceiling, it was so high above her, black marble columns stretching the entire height of the room. Torch sconces hovered on each pillar in each row, no flame present. The extra light was not needed, as there was enough coming through the stained glass windows that rested between each column, despite the place being hidden in a black cloud. Statues, hidden by the shadow of the window behind it, stood in proud poses down the hall, each side mirroring the other, creating a perfectly symmetrical hall. At ground level, doors were scattered about, leading to who knows where. The end of the hall wasn't even visible.

   Reimu took a deep breath and proceeded forward. The hall seemed mostly deserted, but Reimu kept her eyes and ears out. She would occasionally hear small scratching or shuffling noises, but they sounded muffled, as if it were through one of those doors. A few were ajar, one on her right wide open.

   As she began to peer into the door, she suddenly heard a loud snap and a yelp from above her. She looked straight up, and at first saw nothing. Rapidly, a massive golden chandelier fell from the darkness of the ceiling, right over her! She tensed up, as if watching to see what would happen, before suddenly hearing Hey genius, that thing's probably gonna cave your skull in without even a dent, and that's just head trauma. MOVE! She recognized the voice as her own thoughts, and snapped back to attention. She dove and rolled to the side, the chandelier crashing down right where she was. It had to be six times her size at least, she figured once she regained her senses.

   She stared at it, mouth agape, the thing that could have easily killed her. She didn't even notice the sudden rush of fairies of multiple sizes, hair colors, and styles of maid outfit fly out. They gathered around the large chain at the top of the lighting fixture, and as one began to pull it back up. A dozen fairies descended from above, one looking ashamed, probably the one who accidentally dropped it. They took their place in hoisting the thing, and Reimu simply watched as the creatures began making headway against gravity, slowly dragging it back to the ceiling.

   Reimu was startled out of her trance of staring at the fairies slowly pull the chandelier up as she felt something small tug on her sleeve. It was a fairy, one with bright red hair and brownish-red eyes. "Excuse me, but what business do you have here?" she asked in a small voice.

   Still somewhat bewildered, all the fairy got as a response was a "I...um...uh..."

   The fairy sighed and straightened a ruffle in her apron before turning back to the strangely dressed one in front of her. "Well? We are very busy preparing, and we don't have time for visitors today. Please state your business here before I have to force you out."

   Hearing the fairy's attitude and challenge brought Reimu back to her senses. "Is that so, huh? Well, I'm here because this place is involved in an incident. One that affects me personally. And by that I mean I feel like crap, and I would rather be home, but I need to solve it. As such, here I...I..." She sneezed, cutting off her sentence. Despite covering her mouth, the fairy still had to wipe away a little bit of sneeze that got on her. "Ugh. Sorry. Anyway, here I am."

   The fairy still looked irritated as she wiped her hands on a handkerchief. "Very well. Just please be on your way...and try not to sneeze on anything. It's hard enough to clean this whole place without you dirtying it, red-white."

   Reimu opened her mouth to tell her off, then reconsidered. If anything, this fairy just seemed to be doing her job, not being openly hostile. Plus, she didn't say that she couldn't go farther in. "I'll try not to. Thanks."

   The fairy began straightening her outfit again, and replied with a distracted "Yeah." Reimu walked past her, her orbs still following close behind. The fairy glanced at them, then went back to fixing her shirt. Suddenly, she froze as realization struck. "Wait...Wait a minute...that's the girl Her Highness said to not let in!!" She looked about frantically before flying through the nearest door, and pulling out a large gong on wheels into the middle of the hall. She hefted the mallet, and put her entire body's worth of force behind the swing.

   Reimu suddenly heard a loud crash behind her, and she wheeled around to see the fairy she just talked to recovering from the recoil of the swing. The fairy flew up a ways and cupped her hands around her mouth. "EVERYONE! SEAL THE DOORS! MAKE SURE THE HAKUREI MAIDEN DOES NOT REACH THE END OF THE HALL! MAKE SURE HER ONLY EXITS ARE FROM WHENCE SHE ENTERED, OR BY SHINIGAMI'S ESCORT!" Reimu was both impressed at the formerly quiet fairy's vocal range and a bit creeped out that a fairy would give a command to kill her if need be. Even though the spell card rules prevented death, making it an empty threat.

   Now on full alert, Reimu brought out her gohei once more, but all she could hear was the slamming and locking of doors. The sudden attack she expected never came, and she was alone in the hall. She began floating, confident that even if she couldn't see her enemy, she could dodge it. Nothing came out to greet her, so she continued further down, her senses on high alert. Nothing yet, so far. She considered herself lucky. After proceeding down a ways, she could see a few shapes in the distance, trying to hide behind a pillar. She shook her head before setting her orbs to fire homing amulets.

   "Hah!" Reimu turned, and leapt out of the way from an attack from behind, a shotgun burst of danmaku. The two unfortunate fairies weren't as lucky, and while one was overwhelmed with amulets, Reimu filled the other one with thrown needles. While she dealt with those two, another pair began firing rings of bullets, intending to catch her off guard after already being caught off guard. Another, larger fairy flew between them and began firing aimed kunai shots at her.

   Reimu performed a midair roll to escape two bullets trying to close in on her, and barely managed to graze past the kunai. "These fairies are almost too prepared..." She focused down the larger one, only to have two more fairies who also shot bullet rings replace her. With the volume of bullets doubled, Reimu moved to the middle to spread the amulet damage evenly. The inner two went down, and a few needles put the outer two down.

   The air finally cleared of danmaku, and Reimu pressed onward. The hall only got colder as she moved forward, until she could see her own breath. It was a deathly chill, and she could feel it already seep into her bones. A line of fairies flew ahead of her, firing rapid aimed shots, trying to force her into a wall. She knew this type of attack pattern like the back of her hand, and made only slight movements to counteract this maneuver. A large fairy with a rose, much like the one she saw outside, flew into view. Knowing a general idea of how long it takes fairies to respawn after dying meant this probably was the same one. Unlike last time, however, she shot small laser sections in a rotating pattern around her. As she did, another line of fairies tried to ambush her.

   Reimu flipped over a laser, unleashing a torrent of amulets at the large fairy, who hardly seemed fazed by the onslaught. Extra amulets took down the fairies behind her, though, so that was a plus. The fairy stopped firing, and simply floated there and watched Reimu fly past. She used all of her magic trying to keep her away, and Reimu couldn't take her down, so now she had to wait either for Reimu to shoot her down or for her magic to recharge. After Reimu passed, she flew to a door that was still ajar on the left, closing it behind her.

   Although the battle kept her moving, staying still made Reimu realize just how cold it had gotten in the hall. "It must have d-dropped twenty degrees or s-so..." She folded her arms, shivering, trying to keep herself warm. She was certain by now that she would catch a cold from all she's been through today. She breathed into her hands to keep them from going cold when she noticed the hall get considerably darker. She looked up and felt her heart sink.

   Staring back at her was a massive orb of Dark Matter, large enough that it obstructed the hall. Its piercing red eye had its gaze fixed on Reimu, regarding her coldly and silently. It blinked once, slowly. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something was different about this particular eye. She could see intelligence in the three with flower petals, but this one...this one was far beyond even all three of their capabilities combined. Faintly, she could pick up a strange energy that she hadn't felt in what felt like a long time...

   The eye narrowed, as if challenging her to pass. Reimu finally regained her senses, and reset her orbs to needles. If she was going to do any damage, she'd make the eye bleed. She could feel her emotions in turmoil now more than ever, but one thing was clear: kill this thing, and she could go home. No, wait, not kill. Danmaku was made to avoid killing. Just beating it senseless should be enough. She pointed her gohei at the orb. "So you're the leader of these things, then?"

   It blinked again, not moving from its spot.

   "I'll take that as a yes. Now, I'll give you two options. Call off your little Dark Matter things and let me be, or get ready to be beaten within an inch of your sorry life."

   The eye narrowed, and a slight breeze could be felt. Reimu couldn't help but think it was...laughing? At her? It backed up, and blinked once more, its eye narrowing. Thousands of smaller Dark Matters began flying out from all sides of it as it moved backwards, in no pattern Reimu could decipher.

   She began rolling and ascending to dodge the onslaught of darkness. She took a chance and glanced behind her, seeing the Dark Matter simply fade into nothingness a certain distance past her. They acted like bullets, even though they weren't. Reimu was finally directly above the giant eye, which hadn't even shrunk from releasing part of its own substance to attack her. She didn't even bother throwing any amulets or needles, preferring to let gravity do all of the hard work. The danmaku started impacting the incoming projectiles, collapsing them before they could even strike.

   As her danmaku finally made it to the main eye, Reimu thought she saw the entire orb fade, and inside was something bright white. Now curious along with angry, she decided to end this faster, and dropped a handful of large amulets. They didn't even need to start homing as they created an explosion directly on its eye. Reimu descended where she originally flew from, and sighed, confident the battle was over and she could move on. "Dark Matter 'Miracle Matter'!" Or, maybe not.

   Wait, was that a woman's voice?

   The smoke cleared, and the eye was still floating there, its gaze still transfixed on Reimu. From the eye itself, a small, glowing white orb came into view before morphing into an icosahedron. On each face was a single red eye, which stared endlessly. It began whirling at a strange angle, each face rotating past Reimu in a random, yet cycling order. Another flood of Dark Matter rained from the main eye, and the Miracle Matter began rotating around the main eye. As it circled, it would shift into random elements, releasing flurries of bullets of fire, ice, earth, and more. Reimu could hardly see past the dense barrage, and she had to remember that small movements would win. She fired blindly in front of her, and only when she heard strange tapping did she feel relieved. A small hole in the wave of bullets confirmed her suspicions; the Miracle Matter was invincible to her shots, but most were still hitting the giant eye.

   The eye...

   Maybe if I can hit it directly, it would end this card? she thought, squeezing through a cluster of Dark Matter and a few icicles. She dropped another yin-yang, and waited for another hole to open in the attack. The bullets let up slightly as an even larger wave was released, and Reimu took the chance. She reared back and let fly as the new wave descended upon her.

   She weaved left and right until she saw a fireball intersect with a small gap of Dark Matter. She tried to fly over it, only to be face-to-face with another Dark Matter orb that was moving faster than the rest. She braced for impact, but instead heard the card break, and she opened her eyes to see the giant eye closed, its entire form quivering as the orb Reimu kicked was returning to its smaller, easier-to-transport form. The eye opened fully, and then shattered like glass, scattering on the floor. Instead of dissipating, however, this eye imploded, leaving behind a dazzling white light that forced Reimu to shield her eyes. She slowly opened them, readjusting to the light. She could barely see a figure in it, and the shape of the still-whirling Miracle Matter. The figure gave a "Hmph" and began floating backwards.

   The glow from the figure gave away the wall in the back, and Reimu smirked; there was nowhere for the culprit to run now. Gripping her gohei tightly, she landed and began walking towards the glow.

   As she approached, the glow also descended to the ground, and Reimu had to cover her eyes again. "I've finally found you."

   The glow slowly faded, until Reimu could see who her adversary was. She was tall, and very pale. She seemed paler with her white robes and white hair, which curiously transitioned sharply to red near the ends of her hair. Her robes had plenty of red decorations and trim on them, including a tabard at her waist that held the image of a single vertical eye, with a red drop coming out of the lower corner. Her sleeves looked much longer than necessary, held on by threads attached to the shoulders of her robe. At the end of each sleeve are several red feathers. She also wore a mask, with two little black dots for eyes and a strange, almost V-shaped mouth. The rest of the mask is plain white. Behind her back is a cape, white near the top, and oddly shaped red further from her body. She also wore two necklaces, one a gold, intricate chain, the other a half-blue, half-purple crystal on a thin string. Something about her was...ethereal, but Reimu couldn't put her finger on it. It was probably due to the light she was radiating earlier. Miracle Matter was still floating next to her, but it was much smaller now.

   "Nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. I'll make you pay for what you did to Gensokyo."

   "For what I did to Gensokyo, or what I did to you?" the woman retorted. Reimu wondered if she had telepathy, since it didn't even look like she moved, even behind the mask. "In a way, it's telepathy. The Dark Matter within you is transmitting your thoughts directly to me. However, I am speaking to you physically, not mentally."

   "So you are the culprit, then! Get rid of this Dark Matter stuff and just leave peacefully, and I won't have to beat you up too badly."

   "You never did answer my question."

   "You asked a question?"

   "Yes. Are you here to punish me for what I did to Gensokyo, or what I did to you? I won't hide it. I am the cause of Gensokyo's newfound despair. Hiding it now would be pointless."

   "For what you did to Gensokyo, duh! I keep the peace around here, and right now you're disrupting it!"

   The woman chuckled drily. "That's not what your thoughts say."

   Reimu scowled. "What's that supposed to mean?"

   "What I mean is that your thoughts and recent memories show you only care for yourself. You just want to feel better, and you only want those who would be an annoyance in their current state to you to get better. You could care less about how the other half of Gensokyo feels about this. You're only looking out for yourself."

   "Don't compare me to someone selfish like you." Her scowl turned into anger, and she could feel a slight headache from the Dark Matter affecting her. "I don't go about doing as I please to entire populations because I feel like it."

   "And yet here you are, trying to convince me that 'your way' is better. I am simply sharing my gift of loneliness and gloom that has been a major part of my afterlife."

   Reimu's eyes narrowed skeptically. "Afterlife?" Practically before her eyes, the dots of what she's heard and been through connected. "That's right...I felt a holy energy back in the Forest of Magic, Yuyuko said she found an angel at her place that attacked her, and the girl outside told me about a hollow angel...it's you!"

   "Hmph. It took you long enough. Yes, I am the angel of which you speak. My duty is to eliminate happiness, since it has always been denied me."

   "Take off your mask. I want to see the holy face I'm going to be pummelling in." She pointed her gohei at the angel.

   "Are you sure?"

   "Of course. So help me, I'll gouge out one of your eyes if that's what it takes!" She could feel her fury peaking, the Dark Matter further stimulating it and a headache.

   At first the woman just stood there, then she started laughing, a full-bodied, ironic laugh, the complete opposite reaction Reimu expected. It sounded unearthly in and of itself, which unnerved her. "Stop laughing! This is serious!"

   The woman finally stopped, and stood back at her full height. "Of course it's deadly serious. But, if you insist..." She brought a hand out of her sleeve, and reached towards her mask.

   "What's that supposed to mean, 'deadly se-'" She abruptly cut herself off as the mask was removed. Behind it was a stern, unloving face with only one eye, its sclera red, iris black, and pupil white. The other eye, her left, was covered with a white bandage of sorts, neatly covering her eye without obstructing her eyebrow or cheek. "I...uh..."

   "-didn't expect me to have only one eye already? I figured as much," she finished for Reimu. "I am Jozero Kubomitenshi, ruler of Dark Matter, the one forsaken of joy and happiness." As she spoke, the three colored orbs of Dark Matter materialized around her, and floated about her in a similar state to Miracle Matter. "My drive in life and death is to eliminate that which was denied me."

   Reimu regained her composure, and felt her Dark Matter's influence intensify. "Yeah, but you forgot one thing in coming here. You messed with me. And doing that will only end poorly for you!"

   "So confident, even against one with the powers of heaven and darkness. I have known of you for a long time, Reimu Hakurei. Your relationship to the youkai of boundaries, the kleptomaniac witch, your incidents. How you can't live with youkai, but you can't live without them, either, despite the irony that an oni and an evil spirit freeload off of you. How you would much rather be home instead of solving an incident anyway, remaking the tea said evil spirit took from you earlier today." She smirked inwardly at Reimu's reaction. "That's right; we know all about you."

   Reimu was taken back by her words, which she thought had no claim until they involved Mima. That spirit's been a well-kept secret since before the Scarlet Mist incident, one that very few remember or have discovered. The only other two who actively knew of Mima were Marisa and Suika due to proximity. As far as she knew, not even Yukari knew about her, as unlikely as it would be. The other unnerving part was how she said 'we' in her last statement. "You know, you really shouldn't just spy on people without their knowledge. Even with their consent, it's still not great to do."

   "Says the shrine maiden who makes a living off of barging into people's houses and attacking them without taking a moment for any considerations."

   "I take plenty of considerations."

   "The only one you're justified in doing this is the underground incident with that idiotic, dangerous hell raven. Did the attack on the shrine atop the mountain have to result in conflict? Or how about the Buddhist saint sealed in Makai? Of course not. They were simply because you fear the unknown, and your response to fear is volence."

   As she spoke, Reimu could feel as if something was wrong. She looked over her soulder to see a lone orb of Dark Matter hurtling towards her. Automatically, she threw a needle and vaporised it. "Case and point," Jozero confirmed.

   "That's an exception, it was self-defense! Who just throws things at people behind their backs?"

   "But Dark Matter is still an unknown to you, is it not? It would have gone right through you. But that fact remained unknown. So, in your fear, you reacted with violence."

   "Anger is another thing that often results in violence, you know. And you sure know how to make someone angry. So, I give you one last chance: back down now, call off your weird shadow balls, and leave quietly, or things are about to get loud and ugly."

   Jozero chuckled again, this time in a much darker fashion. "Let me ask you something. Do you know how depressing it is to be the only one at your own funeral?" Her expression darkened further. "No? I thought not. Well, it is. Traumatizing, even. And I simply won't lie down after all the hardships I've faced to some selfish shrine maiden who claims to be an agent of the greater good." She unclipped her gold necklace, lifting it above her head and clipping it again. Before Reimu's eyes, the delicate chain shifted into a solid, shining circlet, which floated effortlessly over her head. She held her arms to her sides, tilting her head back, and her cape unfolded by itself into a pair of wings. These looked to be made of shapes instead of feathers, a white trapezoid-like shape near her back, three hexagons on each side from the innermost shape, and two red ovals floated a short distance off of each hexagon. The wings looked wholly unnatural in their shattered state as they slowly beat back and forth, not even needed for her to fly; they simply served as decoration. "All my life, I was not allowed to feel joy. I would have given everything for a genuine smile. A simple feeling of being around those who care about me...I was either too young to realize and didn't know what I had, or someone, somewhere conspired against me to eliminate any such possibility. Well, no more. I will not back down. This is my destiny. I shall return this world to zero, to nothing, for if I cannot feel even love, then no one else ever shall again!"

   A harmless wave of energy signalled the beginning of battle. Reimu immediately started with focused needles, and Jozero retaliated with constant streams of Dark Matter. The two shots hit in the middle, leaning in Reimu's favor. As the needles were about to overcome the stream, Jozero vaulted over it and Reimu, coming to rest behind her. She shot clusters of Dark Matter, forcing Reimu on the defensive. She immediately noticed that the other Dark Matters that were originally around her weren't with her anymore, and twisted to the side as an arc of black lightning nearly struck her in the back. Assaulted from two sides, she couldn't afford to waste effort, so she kept her attack focused on Jozero. It didn't even look like she was taking hits during this exchange.

   She was drifting constantly to her left, staying just out of the stream of needles. She made sure to spread her shots out, keeping them from gathering too much in one spot. However, she misjudged an angle, and almost ran into an arc of lightning from her familiars. In her hesitation, the needles caught up, and she could feel her power weaken slightly. Not enough that she felt pain, but enough that she knew she should retaliate with due force. She jumped back to her original location with her creations, and held aloft a white spell card with a red eye in the middle of it. "Hell sign 'Condemnation of the Righteous'!"

   The card released a phantasmal shell of Dark Matter that encased most of the hall. The floor vanished, and the outside of the orb was red with black clouds. Three black rings spun and whirled around the orb like a gyroscope, some sort of structure that kept it from collapsing. Whatever it was, Reimu knew she was in Jozero's world now, and she had no choice but to fight her way out of it.

   From behind her, white bullets were forming and travelling towards Jozero, who took a position higher than Reimu. They weren't moving too fast, but as they hit the top, they froze, turned red, and then fell even faster. "Got anything other than flanking attacks?" Reimu yelled as she rolled between bullets.

   "If you insist," the angel replied. Spheres of round, red bullets began emanating from her, forcing Reimu even further on the defensive. The card overall didn't seem that difficult, but Jozero was being tenacious, and the card wouldn't go down. Reimu ducked under a stray red bullet, and in doing so noticed Jozero charge a wave of large red bubbles to send with the wave of smaller ones. Reimu cursed when she saw them start flying, and tried to lay on more needles to make the card end. The wave seemed impassable, and Reimu couldn't pick out a good spot to slip through. As they neared, she panicked, and quickly reached for one of her spells. She found one, and quickly declared it: "Spirit sign 'Fantasy Seal -Blink-'".

   All bullets around them vanished, and Reimu used the opportunity to directly land spirit attacks on Jozero, creating small multicolored explosions with each hit. After a rapid barrage with one left for good measure, the smoke cleared, but the card was still active. Jozero looked around, as if expecting more, and seeing nothing, raised her arms again, creating another wall of bullets. Reimu began throwing amulets in haste, forgetting completely about her yin-yangs. However, she heard the spell break, and was instantly overcome with relief.

   Jozero scowled. "I figured you weren't as powerful as observations would suggest. You needed to use a spell to not only get rid of my shots, but also to practically break the card."

   "Hey, one of the rules of danmaku is that there must be a way through the pattern, no matter how difficult. That card is a violation!"

   "On the contrary. The large bubbles are easily avoidable. The actual bullet is quite a ways inside the bullet...so to speak. It is merely an intimidation tactic."

   Reimu hadn't even considered that possibility, she simply countered it with her own spell. She could find someone or something to blame later, but for right now,  she had to admit that Jozero knew how to play mind games. She just had to prove herself craftier and stronger.

   "However, that was but a taste." She held her arms out to her sides again, and Reimu thought she could see something glowing against her bandaged eye. The very air around them shuddered and shimmered. "My power is far greater than what little you have experienced." With that, six phantasmal slashes appeared behind her, and Reimu realized it looked the same as what was on her bandage. Red, blood-like bullets began pouring out of them randomly, putting Reimu on the defensive again. She reset her orbs to homing amulets, and began trying to weave through the bullets, staying in one place.

   As the attack continued, Reimu realized that Jozero was different from other incidents. Normally, the culprit was happy to be doing what they were doing, and fought her with a smile. Jozero had smiled once, a very sarcastic smile, and hasn't shown the slightest emotion except hate and scorn since. This battle was serious, and her failure could very well mean disaster for Gensokyo. She grit her teeth and pressed on, intent on, if anything, just defeating her and going home.

   Jozero cut off the barrage and held aloft another card "Forbidden Power 'Consumer of the Mind'!" Jozero brought her hands together, the card between them. A red glow appeared, and then a massive sphere of bullets was released. The bullets stopped in random intervals, and, before Reimu's eyes, vanished. From the end of each of the slashes around Jozero, a spread of three bullets was aimed for Reimu, the two on the sides of the aimed center bullet ensured that Reimu wouldn't be making too small of movements.

   Reimu had already forgotten the locations of most of the invisible bullets, and was running out of time to move. She leapt to her left, and stopped just short of an invisible bullet, close enough to feel its heat on her body. She noticed from this that the air was very cold, but her movements were keeping her warm. Was it evil spirits or regular ghosts that were very cold? I can't remember... Her musings were cut short by having to dodge again, almost slamming her face into a suspended bullet like a spider web in a doorway.

   Reimu observed how Jozero hadn't moved much since her first card, simply relying on bullet density to keep her at bay. Now, she seemed entirely focused on the card, and Reimu noted that the bullets all were a certain distance away from her. After another barrage, she took a chance and darted forward, managing to make her way through a path by sheer luck. As she approached, she flipped, aiming a kick directly at Jozero's ribs.

   Mere fractions of a second from contact, Jozero spun to the side, completely avoiding the attack and forcing Reimu to stop her forward acceleration. She couldn't stop in time, and managed to land foot-first on a bullet. Even through her shoes, it stung, and made her be thankful she could fly. She tried again, this time bringing her gohei back to smash it against her face. Jozero made no move, simply watching her with an empty look like before. She got closer and closer, and brought the gohei across, intending for a well-placed hit to end the card.

   Thwap! came the sound, but not the one she expected. Jozero had blocked her arm with her own, completely stopping it mid-swing. Glaring at her, she grabbed Reimu's arm and threw her to the side, directly into a pair of bullets in rapid succession. Soon after, Reimu's homing amulets ended the card, and Reimu struggled to rise to her feet. She was really starting to lose motivation, and home seemed like the best place to be right now. She could resolve the incident when she's good and ready.

   "Pathetic shrine maiden. It's hard to believe this is the defender of the land. I could have taken it over thrice by now, and you wouldn't have been able to touch me." Her words sparked a flame in Reimu, who charged back into the fight, keeping her amulets loaded to her yin-yangs. "How typical, using your anger to fuel your attacks. Mortals are the same now as they've always been..." Reimu grunted in annoyance, and began releasing larger amulets as well. After almost a dozen of them were flying, Jozero simply stood there defiantly. Right before they were to impact, Jozero held another card in her hand "Shattered Wings 'Crimson Flight'!" She folded her wings in front of her, and the amulets all struck the white of her wings, grinding down to nothing, causing a smoke-filled explosion as the amulets naturally detonated.

   Unable to see her adversary, Reimu began another assault with amulets. Surely she could weaken this card, since it was just declared. She moved forward, giving Jozero less room to maneuver. She was glad she did; right as she reached the edge of the smoke cloud, a large wall of red lasers shot to each of her sides, and would have hit her if she was any further back. The lasers extended outward, fanning the smoke away, and revealing Jozero. The lasers were in the same pattern as the outer shards of her wings, crossing and creating an impassable wall as they fanned out. Reimu had to fight the awe taking her over at the sight of the angel.

   With hardly any sign beforehand, Jozero rocketed forward, trying to tackle Reimu, her wings widening the zone of impact. Reimu dove to the side, barely escaping Jozero's manic charge that left small red danmaku feathers in its wake. Jozero managed to catch herself on a pillar, and proceeded to try attacking Reimu again. She bounced from pillar to pillar, leaving trails of feathers, which worried Reimu. It was easy enough to dodge Jozero's charge, but she rapidly had to start being cautious about her surroundings to avoid any danmaku around her. To top it all off, Jozero was outrunning her amulets, making this card take even longer than it needs to.

   The glow faded from Jozero's wings as she approached her original point, feathers finally stopping their fall. She floated silently, her hands together, and her wings folding in front of her. Slowly, the glow was recharging, and a small orb of red light could be seen at her wings. Eager to get rid of this card, Reimu swapped back to her needles, and charged closer to her. She weaved through whatever remaining feathers there were, and in doing so, managed to hit the red shapes of Jozero's left wing. As they struck, Jozero winced, and pulled her wing back slightly. Reimu gasped and threw another barrage of large amulets, this time aimed at her wings. They connected right before the lasers finished charging, and the card instantly ended. As the amulets exploded, she could hear Jozero wail in pain, followed by a crash as she hit the ground.

   Reimu landed to assess the damage. Some of the red segments on her wings were now missing, and a couple looked cracked. One was half broken. She counted four left on her right side, and two and a half on her left. Jozero rose, gritting her teeth and glaring at Reimu. She opened a black rift behind her, and stepped into it. As it closed, Reimu realized it was a portal to the Ingress. "So you control the rifts..." she muttered.

   "Only temporarily, unfortunately. It is rather useful," came a voice from nowhere. Reimu wheeled around, careful not to let her be caught off-guard again. "It should wear off in a day or two. But that's more than enough time I need."

   Reimu's intuition told her to look up, and she saw a large orb of Dark Matter hurtling toward her like a meteor. She barely jumped out of the way, landing on all fours before seeing the orb move towards her again. She scrambled to her feet, and flew out of its way again. "Time is never on the side of mortals. I never realized it until after my own mortality was at hand." The Dark Matter was relentless in its pursuit, dogging Reimu with no regard for crashing into anything. She fired needles behind her, trying to keep a good distance between them. "In death, I was given life anew, one to spend in paradise. Oh wait," she added sarcastically, "I never got to truly experience paradise.  Happiness was denied me yet again! Why?! Why am I not allowed to be happy?!" Reimu could hear the escalation in her voice, trying vainly to keep from breaking down crying.

   The blob chasing her finally vanished, and Reimu stopped to catch her breath. She turned back to where Jozero had disappeared, only to see her again holding a spell card. "I have had enough of this lifestyle! If I want to change, I must take action, and it starts by tearing you down, then your precious Gensokyo! Crystal Shards 'Superimposed Memories'!" she yelled, bringing her arms straight out to her sides again, the crystal on her necklace glowing brightly. This time glaring intently at Reimu, a small sphere of energy gathered in front of her, before drifting towards the exhausted miko, picking up speed. Halfway through its flight, it split into a dozen similar orbs, which slowed down around Reimu. At first she was confused, until she noticed the spheres were collapsing on themselves. Her eyes widened, and she jumped away as the spheres exploded. Jozero was shooting these constantly now that Reimu knew what they did, and they weren't too difficult to dodge.

   Jozero grimaced, and made a motion around the crystal she wore on her necklace. It began to glow even brighter, causing large, crystalline bullets to fly from behind her. It was always four at a time, but they were spaced so the explosive shots would be able to work best. Reimu looked and saw that she was only shooting one bullet at a time, and thought that a point-blank approach would work best. As she moved forward, the angel's halo radiated a ring of gold energy, which turned into a sphere, preventing Reimu from taking advantage of any safe areas closer to her. "Oh come on!" she yelled as she ducked past another barrage of explosions. If it weren't for the fast crystals constantly trying to impale her while she dodged explosions, this card wouldn't be that bad. Yet, she could feel an immense amount of energy in this card. She smiled inwardly, figuring this meant that this is her last card.

   With renewed vigor, she sidestepped an explosion and simultaneously turned the streaming crystals around, switching back to her powerful pink talismans, the second time she's used them since the Moriya incident, the first earlier that day. She got as close as she dared to the holy sphere around Jozero, and continued her defensive maneuvers. As they hit, she could swear she heard tearing from the other side occasionally. Just as she was relishing her victory, the holy sphere expanded, forcing Reimu back even further. Now in range of the explosions, she had to focus on pure dodging, hoping the card would end soon. The sphere quivered, and the bullets all suddenly vanished. The holy energy faded, and only the angel was left floating there.

   Reimu noticed just how broken she was now: her clothes were slightly torn, her right sleeve was almost completely detached and the left lost a few threads that held it to her robe. The base of her robe was frayed, and her wings looked more cracked now. Jozero was panting, before suddenly falling into a coughing fit. When her head lifted again, Reimu noticed a trickle of red down her cheek, coming from her eye. Despite what she had been through and what Jozero had done, let alone the glare she was getting, she almost felt sorry for her. "So, you giving up yet? I'm getting tired, and I really want this incident to be over with now. So make with the adhering to my demands and get rid of all this Dark Matter." Almost.

   Despite her apparent condition, Jozero managed to force a small laugh. "You really think...it's that easy?"

   "That's typically how these fights go. Loser agrees to the winner's wishes. And I don't lose."

   "You are foolish and arrogant. My power is absolute...and nothing will stand in my way. Now," she continued, standing back to her full height. "Face the wrath of the darkest powers of heaven! 'Greatest Divine Evil -Eternity Without Hope-'!!" She didn't even hold a card, but it was obviously a declaration.

   Reimu scrambled backwards as a massive explosion of bullets flared around Jozero. Her only path between very tight gaps, she rocketed through them, only to see the three colored Dark Matters whirling around Jozero, creating bullets of their respective colors, one slow wave following a quick wave, so the slow waves pile onto each other while the fast ones prevent Reimu from carefully maneuvering. She would also create a mock heart, broken in half, of red bullets, which would split into five tiny white bullets and spread out, adding to the flak Reimu had to dodge. She didn't even have time to start shooting at her.

   The three black rings in the sphere of Dark Matter they were in were rotating at insane speeds, cracked in some places. Reimu rolled through a wave of bullets from a broken heart, and barely squeezed through two waves of orange bullets before finding herself in a more comfortable position. She finally managed to set her orbs to needles before having to duck to her right to avoid another wave. She tried to move back to her left, but had to hesitate as a violet wave passed by, allowing another orange bullet to strike her in her hesitation, in the right arm. By now, that sleeve had been torn apart from battle damage, so Reimu chucked it to the side. She had more at home, and it would only interfere in its tattered state.

   Now fed up, Reimu felt around for another card, knowing that this spell wasn't even close to going down. She glanced at the title, and was overcome with gratitude that it had recharged. "Spirit sign 'Fantasy Seal -Concentrate-'!" A group of multicolored orbs sprang to life from her once more, incinerating bullets coming her way. They all flew forward, converging on where Jozero was. The bright light as they impacted forced Reimu to look away, and when she looked back, the three Dark Matters were nowhere to be found, and Jozero was lying on her back, her arms spread to her sides. She looked in even worse shape than before. Her halo had visibly cracked, some of the bottom of her robe was torn away, and her left sleeve was in shreds, but still wearable.

   "My power..." Reimu heard in her head, the voice of Jozero ringing clearly. "My visage...my darkness..." Her words cut into Reimu's thoughts, and she covered her ears in a futile attempt to stop it. "This is why I have to be alone." The headache cleared, and Reimu looked back at Jozero. "But I don't have to be alone..." Large black tendrils were flailing from her sleeves, five on each side. They twisted themselves into hands, which Jozero used to start rising again. This time she physically spoke: "If everyone suffers with me, then I won't be the only one!!!"

   She used the massive Dark Matter hands to propel herself at Reimu, rearing one arm back to try and punch her. Reimu had no doubt if this connected, she would be sore for a week. Jozero is beyond serious at this point: now she's desperate for victory. Reimu swerved out of the way of the fist, delivering a strong kick into Jozero's ribs like she planned to earlier. Jozero was sent reeling backwards as Reimu righted herself again. Once she regained equilibrium in her flight, she snarled at Reimu, and the shrine maiden noticed that more tears were streaming down her face, one dripping onto her robes. She was fairly certain it was blood by this point, which revolted her.

   Jozero flew at her again, this time open-palmed. Reimu jumped to the side, not bothering to counterattack, instead resetting her orbs to homing amulets. When she turned back to Jozero, she saw her tear out a huge chunk of a column and chuck it at her. She flew straight up, and Jozero flew to meet her. The slab met another column with a deafening crash, rubble spewing everywhere. She looked around, not seeing the angel anywhere. A yell from above her startled her back into the fight, only to see Jozero plummeting towards her, both fists above her head, intending to smash Reimu into the ground.

   Yet, her swing would probably only go so far, so if she got into a perfect position behind her...

   Her plan formulated, Reimu jumped back as Jozero brought the fists downward. Now behind her, Reimu let loose a barrage of larger amulets in succession. Jozero, realizing she missed, turned to see the ofuda racing towards her. Reimu saw the first directly strike her face, and the rest of her became buried in amulets before they all detonated, sending Jozero plummeting to the floor again.

   The environment they were sealed in was starting to become unstable, and Reimu was exhausted by now. "Just how much more can she take...before she goes down?" She looked back to see the unmoving form of Jozero, face down on the floor, shards of marble around her. "Good...stay down." She turned to leave, only to hear quiet laughter behind her. She wheeled around to see the angel starting to rise to her feet again...Wait, where are her feet?!

   She stared wide-eyed at her legs, most of which were exposed from the robe being torn. The slight amount she could see around her thigh was normal skin, but from the knee down, it was gradient to invisible. Her legs completely disappeared before they made it a quarter of the way down her shins. She was also noticing other details, as well. For one, her left arm had what she heard was called a 'tattoo' of a green, thorned vine wrapping around her arm, an eye on its end in her palm, completely offsetting her color scheme of white and red. The vine was faintly glowing, and looked like it lifted slightly off of her arm. The halo now had completely broken, but still floated above her head. Her wings had obvious cracks, and more segments were missing. She tore off the remaining shreds of the left arm's sleeve, leaving the mostly intact right sleeve, and threw it to the wall, where it slid onto the ground. Her laughing had become more manic, and she turned to reveal blood sliding down the entire right half of her face, and she simply laughed.

   She rose into the air again, power rippling around her, distorting the air around her. "She's gone insane...why won't she just go down and stay down?! Most people aren't this tenacious in the face of defeat, let alone once they get to the condition she's in!" She didn't have much time to dwell on these thoughts, however, as three green energy orbs began swirling around Jozero's left arm. They turned into three green lasers, twirling like a drill, white kunai bullets sprouting out of them like thorns before flying on their own path outwards. Although it was easy at first, Jozero waved her wings in front of her, scattering red feather danmaku in wide, dense arcs, leaving Reimu very little breathing room. The kunai finally passed, and the last of the arcs was about to fly past when Jozero moved her left arm in a slashing motion. A red laser spawned from nowhere, slicing right through the feathers and where Reimu just was. Because of the strange angles these lasers were being shot from, she had a difficult time guessing where they'd fly. One singed her ponytail, and she breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn't moved into it.

   She went to reset her orbs to homing amulets as Jozero began gather power for her next attack only to see that her orbs had been firing continuously since she tried to get into melee. It looked like parts of Jozero's wings and even skin were cracking drastically, and beams of light were shooting out of her. They didn't seem harmful, but Reimu was nonetheless worried. As they fought, Reimu could see eyes coming out of nowhere, watching the battle intensely. Behind Jozero were three of different colors, but in every direction was an eye staring at her or the angel, no doubt wondering who would win this battle.

   Another cactus-like drill flew from her arm, followed by a similar attack to the broken heart from earlier; this time, the heart's bullets flew off like birds, a couple staying behind to try and drop small bullets on Reimu. As she focused on avoiding them, Jozero began releasing large amounts of Dark Matter at ridiculous speeds. Reimu could see why, too: her form kept cracking, and more and more beams of light shone forth from her. The attack suddenly ceased, even though Jozero looked like she was still trying to fire. The beams slowly began consuming her, until, as one, they all went out, and the angel dropped to her knees.

   Jozero looked around, confused, and Reimu stared at her bewilderment, a smirk plastered on her face. "Told ya I'd win." Only now did she truly see how much Dark Matter had gathered to watch this fight. There must have been thousands upon thousands of eyes, switching their gazes between her and their ruler.

   Jozero, however, didn't look at all relieved. She looked at her left arm, and to her surprise, the tattoo began to fade. Reimu's arrogance shifted to concern as the panicked-looking angel stared at her now blank arm. Faintly, Reimu could hear a high-pitched ringing that seemed to be coming from nowhere. Jozero finally looked up, her expression begging for help. She extended her arm towards Reimu.

   The shrine maiden hesitated, unsure if this was a ploy to get her to lower her guard or not. She could barely make out that Jozero's arm was trembling, and it seemed to be getting worse. Filled with a sudden sense of compassion, she extended her own arm, and began walking towards her.

   Without warning, Jozero doubled over, gasping and clutching at her chest, and was then flung backwards by an unseeable force. The light returned, far more intense than before, completely bathing the angel and forcing Reimu to shield her eyes. She could hear a pained shriek from the glow, something that didn't usually happen with the people who cause incidents. Emitting light and randomly dispelling energy after their last attacks was one thing, panic and multiple explosions of light were completely different. I have seen people recover from worse, so I guess there should be nothing to worry about...

   Reimu could tell the glow was fading, but didn't uncover her eyes yet. Just as she was about to, she heard a small tink of something hitting the floor. She lowered her arm to see a half-broken halo bouncing off of the floor before stopping, resting on the ground. The only other signs that someone was in the room with Reimu were the amount of Dark Matter (who looked just as, if not more, shocked at this turn of events) and a half-shredded sleeve against the wall. Reimu stared at the halo for what felt like an eternity. Nothing dared move.

   Eventually, the orange-petaled Dark Matter advanced, moving towards the halo, looking as sad as a one-eyed ball of darkness could. The other two colored ones followed shortly after, and the entire host of the entity flew in closer to the remains of their leader. A sad hum filled the air, and Reimu couldn't help but feel guilty. She looked down at the ground to avoid any glances from the crowd, and saw a patch of darkness over her heart not unlike what she saw on that fairy in the Forest of Magic what felt like so long ago. Slowly, it left her body, coalescing back into the shape of the rest of them before joining in their mourning.

   I don't understand, though...The spell card system was designed so killing like this wouldn't happen...and can angels even die anyway? They're already technically dead, I think...what went wrong? We were still following the rules...or at least I was...ugh. If only she had only listened to me instead of trying to fight her way out...

   Her musings were interrupted as she felt like she was being watched. She turned to see the three colored Dark Matters glaring intensely at her. Slowly, the other orbs around them followed suit, and an angry buzzing filled the air, like of a swarm of bees, except they sounded much larger. The multitude of darkness began gathering around the multicolored ones, soon losing the physical shape they had. The cluster grew, until it dwarfed even the orb of Dark Matter that Jozero was in when she and Reimu met.

   Two long arms twisted out of the mass of darkness, the three eyes staying at the top, acting like a head. The body rounded itself, shaping itself like a snake, its arms now growing hands. Reimu braced herself as this new behemoth turned its gaze onto her. It emitted a loud hissing noise before trying to swipe at Reimu with one of its claws. She floated over it, setting her yin-yangs to needles. She at least knew their collective weak point was their eyes, so she had a clear target. She didn't want to be involved in any other fights, but she couldn't blame these things. It did seem as though she murdered their leader in cold blood.

   She tried circling to the side and gain altitude, firing needles the whole way. If I could just get to its three eyes, I might be able to take it down, too... The creature, however, could see what she was doing. It fired multiple blasts of black lightning, forcing Reimu on the defensive. As she dodged, a massive fist made contact with her back, and she could feel its force rattle her bones as she was sent flying. She felt herself hit the ground at the base of her spine, rolling backwards over her head. She bounced along the floor a few times before finally smashing into a wall, creating hairline cracks in it from the force. Reimu slowly peeled off of the wall, and moaned in pain. Her entire world was spinning, but she needed to concentrate, or this thing would probably kill her in its blind fury. Her vision finally stopped swimming, and she saw the beast charging her, and she shakily rose to her feet before lifting off of the ground again.

   Reimu ducked under a tail swipe from the creature, only to have to jump to her right to avoid another giant fist. She began zig-zagging between the pillars, hoping to put some distance between them. She heard a screech as the nightmarish beast was hurtling between the columns with ease, managing to gain ground. It climbed partway up a pillar, then leaped off. Reimu could feel that she wasn't moving as fast as she ought to, and her body seemed to be rebelling against her for forcing it to move after taking a blow like that. The creature brought both hands down, palms open, to try and swat at Reimu. She saw it coming, and tried to dodge out of the way. However, the beast managed to shift itself in midair slightly, bringing one of its hands down on top of Reimu, pinning her to the ground with a crash.

   Too dazed to think, let alone dodge, she could barely make out the sight of the creature rearing back a fist to smash her head. Well, this is bleak...no way out, and I don't think I could take another hit like that...I better be prepared... Just as it was about to bring its hand down and Reimu was in the midst of mentally calling one of her most powerful cards, a faint light shimmered to her right. The monster halted its attack, its attention diverted. Reimu tried to wriggle out of its grip, but to no avail. Slowly, the light increased, until Reimu couldn't handle the temptation and looked. Standing there, whole and untarnished, was Jozero, a white light still enveloping her. Slowly, she opened her lone eye, her formerly stone-cold gaze no longer prevalent.

   And she smiled, a lone, clear tear running down her cheek.

I was going to post this sooner, but not doing so helped me edit to make it better, and I decided to upload it now. Merry Christmas, dear readers.
 (I'll try and get you something better next year don't worry  :ohdear:)

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2014, 07:16:50 am »
And, at last, the epilogue. Hopefully you enjoyed the journey...


Chapter 9
Fare...Well?


   "Impossible..." was all she could mutter through her shock and pain. Through blurry vision, she could barely make out the image of the very creature she just thought she destroyed. "But...your halo is still over...huh?" She flipped her head to look over to where the broken halo used to be, but nothing was there, not even the faintest shimmer of light to prove it was there. She couldn't tell if the white sleeve on the wall was the one she threw to the side or hers.

   "Yes...believe it, Reimu. I have not left yet. However..." the angel turned away. "This may sound...cliche, or perhaps 'sappy', but...you have done it, by your own strength and willpower. You overcame my influence, and triumphed over an agent of heaven. Although I do not have the honor of being the first angel you have defeated, I am still honored that I lost to one such as you. You truly do deserve the title of Gensokyo's defender."

   "Uh, yeah...great." The massive creature was still pinning Reimu down, and she was focused almost entirely on not blacking out, and could hardly register her words.

   "I'm serious, you know. No ordinary human could hope to best me in combat, even danmaku. If it were not for you, this world would be plunged into my own darkness. Ugh, I'm disgusting myself with how annoyingly kind I'm being right now..." she chuckled at her musings. Another tear streaked down her cheek, and she casually wiped it away with a finger. She stopped herself before she threw the tear to the ground, and stared at it in awe. "It's...clear..."

   The creature's three eyes all turned to look at each other, a bizarre, if not rather comical, sight. Suddenly, Reimu felt a massive weight lift off of her chest, and she took a very gratifying gulp of air. She turned to see the entire host of Dark Matter swarm their revived queen, the colored ones first in line. Reimu heard the angel hit the ground and begin laughing as the horde completely surrounded her in a strange embrace. Slowly, Reimu stood to her feet, cracking her back as she rose. "Well, it was fun and all, but I need to get back home, and it's a long trip. So, have fun with your Dark Matter things, and don't try something like that again." As serious as she tried to make her tone, she couldn't help but feel happier. The Dark Matter not infesting her probably had something to do with that. As she began walking towards the door, a wall of the substance opened, showing Jozero sitting on the ground, surrounded by it.

   She walked past, awkwardly aware of the hundreds of eyes staring at her as she went. The last battle apparently brought her closer to the door than she thought, and she took a deep breath. Getting back wouldn't be easy, but it was still part of the journey. "Reimu..." She stopped, her hand barely brushing the handle, as she heard her name. She turned to see Jozero floating off of the ground, the rest of her Dark Matter flying behind her, save the three colored ones and Miracle Matter, which spun much less haphazardly. "Don't bother. Now that my plan failed, there's no need for the palace to be way out here anymore. We're bringing it back to the mainland. It would be much easier for you if you would stay until we make landfall."

   Reimu's skepticism quickly gave way to weariness, and she smiled. "That...would be great. Thanks."

   Jozero returned the smile, even if it was a bit weak. She probably hasn't exercised those muscles in a long time... "Wonderful." She snapped her fingers, and the orange and purple Dark Matters shifted into human-like forms again. "Illusion, you lead Reimu to the dining hall, and have her seated for tea. Transmutation, alert Izumi and Tearfang that we're heading back to land."

   "Yes, madam!" they chorused, the spirit-like one departing literally through the door, and the one with the image of Orange walking towards Reimu.

   "Illusion and Transmutation?"

   "Of course. What easier way to name them than by what they do?"

   "Hmm...but what about the teal one there?"

   "Oh, this one is Possession. It is unable to take full physical form like the other two, but it makes up for it by having more powerful danmaku in its natural state. It's able to completely dominate nearly anything's free will, but it won't do permanent damage. The summer youkai will be fine. Now, if you'll excuse me, I will be putting the tea on. I will join you in the dining hall shortly. Illusion, make Reimu feel welcome, and don't be afraid to make conversation."

   "Of course, my lady," the lips Reimu knew were hollow responded. The form of Orange turned back to Reimu before clasping her hand. Despite being just an illusion, her grip was surprisingly solid...and soft. "Right this way, Red-Whi-...er, Reimu Hakurei."

   "Uh-huh..." she replied. As she was being gently led, she watched Jozero turn to a different door, the entire company of Dark Matter following her like a cloud...no, more like ducklings following their mother, just not in a straight line.

   They went through what Reimu remembered as the third door on their left from the main hall, and entered a smaller corridor. In comparison, this hall felt cramped. Luckily, only two doors down was the large, opulent dining hall. One large buffet table dominated the center of the room, with many, many smaller tables scattered about. All were very fancily decorated, no expense spared. Illusion continued to lead Reimu down past the buffet table to a smaller, round table near another door. She pulled a chair out for Reimu, who accepted it kindly, even if it wasn't how she was used to sitting for tea. Illusion took a seat across the table, slightly to the right. She stared at Reimu blankly, her orders fulfilled until Reimu makes some sort of move or question.

   She had to admit, even the smaller tables were very fancy. Well-crafted crystalware glasses and utensils lined each eating area, a small candelabra illuminating the table in the center. The white tablecloths looked spotless, even the napkins folded into what looked like a lotus, on each plate. She looked around, noting that some tables, especially near the center, had flowers that apparently had no fragrance. Whether it was a bouquet or candles, each table looked like it was ready for either a very posh gala or a hundred romantic dates. Over the banquet table was a large, golden chandelier, smaller than the one that almost flattened her in the main hall. She hoped this one was locked in place, unlike the last one.

   Reimu turned back to find Illusion still staring at her. Before she had a chance to speak, Illusion quickly broke the silence. "Does the dining hall meet your specifications?"

   "Well, yeah...it's very nice in here. It's very...formal."

   "Very good. Her Highness put great care into designing the room."

   "Well, it's nice that Jozero can express herself somehow...never would have guessed it was interior decorating, though..."

   Illusion's fake head tilted to the side in confusion. "What do you mean? Lady Jozero is..."

   She was cut off as a noise punctured the otherwise complete stillness: the sound of Reimu's stomach growling. "Oh...right, I haven't eaten anything since this morning."

   "Would you like for me to order us some snacks?" Illusion offered.

   The sudden feeling of hunger intensified at the mention of snacks. "Yes, please! The faster, the better!"

   "Alright, one moment." She lifted a small bell off of the table, and rang it twice. Within seconds, a pair of fairy maids flew out of the door closest to them, floating right next to the table. "Bring our guest a sample platter. Hurry, before Lady Jozero returns." The two fairies bowed and flew into a door on the opposite wall. "They will be but a moment."

   "So...sample platter?" Although she had a hunch, she just wanted to clarify.

   "You've never had one? It's a tray of small portions of many different types of snacks, and you can try them to see which you like. I'm surprised you never have had one before..."

   "Well, I don't go out to eat much," Reimu admitted as the closest door opened again. Out came the two fairies from earlier, carrying a platter of many types of sweets. Some were still steaming, others looked chilled. A third fairy maid flew out and shuffled some plates around to make room for the tray. It had to be a quarter of the size of the table. Reimu stared at the plate, practically drooling over it. She couldn't recognize a single item before her, but they all looked so good...

   Illusion giggled. "Help yourself." Reimu looked back up with a "Whuh", not having heard her the first time. "I said go ahead, dig in. Let me know which you like so we know what to prepare if you should visit again in the future."

   Her eyes lit up as her abdomen pained her, as if asking what she was waiting for. Without another moment to spare, she grabbed a small, dark brown square, and bit into it. The flavor, the rich texture, the sheer sweetness that didn't overpower...if her eyes could glow, they would be lighting up the room right now. And this was only the beginning, there were so many different types of food she couldn't even identify. Even Youmu's sword would have a hard time cutting through her near nonexistent hesitation to keep going at them.

   "I trust the snacks are to your liking?" Reimu stopped eating, her face stuffed, and looked at her in silence. She went back to eating immediately. "I...suppose I will take that as a yes. Or you are hungrier than I thought."

   What felt like only moments later, all that was left on the tray were wax-paper cups and crumbs. Reimu wiped her mouth with her napkin. "Sorry about that. You...didn't want any, did you?" she said with a pang of guilt.

   Luckily, she shook her head. "I don't need to eat. It doesn't mean I can't, but I only do on special occasions. The tray was all for you anyway."

   "Heh...thanks." Not a moment later, a door further down the wall opened, and Jozero stepped out, followed by Possession balancing a tray with a teapot and several cups resting on it. The Dark Matter phased through the table, leaving the tray sitting perfectly on the other tray, and Jozero took the seat directly across from Reimu.

   She looked at the empty platter under the tea. "So, I trust that the snacks Illusion must have gotten you were to your liking?"

   Reimu nodded. "Some of the best desserts I've never had."

   Jozero hmmed as she poured the tea into the cups. The tea was still steaming as she handed one to Reimu with a small plate. "I know this isn't your traditional method of drinking and serving tea, and I do apologize for not meeting your custom. I've simply grown so used to this that it didn't even occur to me until I was already halfway done making it."

   Reimu gave the tea a sniff, then looked back up at Jozero. "It's no big deal. This is your house, after all, so I should be expected to follow your customs...even if they are a bit strange. So anyway, what kind of tea is this?"

   Jozero lowered her cup from taking a sip. "Oh, it's just a lemon and ginger tea. Caffeine-free."

   "Huh...not sure if I've ever had it before..." Reimu took a small sip. "Mm, it's good."

   "That's good. I thought about making one of the more strange teas we have, but I decided a simple one would do."

   "Jeez, this place must be stuffed to the gills with food, then..."

   "That's right," Illusion chimed in. "Her Highness takes great care to keep all pantries, refridgerators, and cupboards stocked with all sorts of-"

   "Oh hush, you," Jozero interrupted.

   Before their conversation could continue, the furthest door on the far wall opened. Reimu could hardly tell who it was, even by squinting, due to the low light in the hall. As the shape in approached, Reimu recognized it as the swordsgirl, whatever Jozero had called her. Or it... "Say Jozero, do those Dark Matters with colors have genders?"

   Jozero raised an eyebrow before turning to see her approaching. "Ah, I understand. Well, in a sense, no. If they were to die and dissipate, nothing would be left. They are literally made of dark matter. I just have the ability to bring them to life. However, because the forms they take or borrow are almost always female, I usually refer to one of them as a 'she', or by name."

   "So if one possesses, and the other creates illusions, what does the third one do?"

   "The third one, Transmutation, can change her form at will to look like anyone, but with the right eye being yellow. She can also take forms she's never seen before." She brought one hand to her chin, and seemed to look past Reimu. "The strangest thing is that the form she usually takes, the one of the sword-wielder, I never thought for her. That can only mean they have their own imaginations and thought patterns..." She snapped back to Reimu. "Oh, sorry. I began rambling. It's not too often I feel in the mood to talk to...well...anyone. And, unfortunately, I won't be like this forever."

   Reimu groaned. "Don't tell me you're going to try this whole incident again after we get back just because you'll feel like it then."

   Jozero shook her head. "No, don't worry. I have learned my lesson. I will leave Gensokyo at peace, as long as they leave me be as well. Friendly relations will only help." A disembodied hand tapped Jozero on the shoulder. "Ah! Transmutation, what was...oh, yes. I forgot you were there."

   "No worries, my queen," she said in her usual quiet voice. Her saying 'my queen' seemed to fit her swordsgirl form. "The task you requested is finished. Tearfang will return shortly, and Izumi is trying to get her bearings on where we need to go."

   "Very good. Come, sit with us." She motioned, and a smaller Dark Matter flew from behind her and pulled the chair out.

   "Yes, my lady." She sat in the chair, her ghostlike tail curling beneath it. The chair seemed slightly too tall for her.

   "So Jozero, how did you get like this, anyway?"

   Jozero lowered her cup, and her elite Dark Matters all turned to Reimu. "I'm sorry?"

   "You know, the whole darkness and depression and despair and the whole...how did you word it earlier...'If everyone suffers with me, then I won't be the only one' nonsense?"

   Jozero stared off for a while before chuckling. "That's not a story for right now, or for just one person to listen to. Remind me, and I will tell it another day. For now, I just want to relax and forget..."

   "Oh...alright." Reimu was at a loss for words, since there's hardly anyone in Gensokyo who wouldn't share their story outright, or someone else to share the story. She took another sip of tea and immediately had an idea. "Say, could you bring me some of those dark brown square things that are so delicious?"

   "You mean brownies?"

   "Uh...sure. Let's go with that."

   "Of course. You two," she said addressing her currently morphed servants. "Bring our guest another platter of brownies."

   "Yes, madam!" they responded, and both flew towards another random door.

   "Does each door just lead to a random place in this castle?" Reimu inquired, since no one has entered or exited from the same door more than once as far as she could remember.

   "Well, no. You see, the interior of the castle is-"

   She was cut off as the door closest to them burst open, and a girl with silver hair walked towards them. "Lady Jozero, I arrived as soon as...oh." She stopped when she saw Reimu sitting at the table with Jozero. "Greetings, red-white." Reimu could tell she was trying to be polite, but there were definite tones of distaste mixed in.

   "Tearfang. How did the patrolling the Ingress thing work out?"

   "You were the sole intruder. It was uneventful, except for a few upstart fairies who tried to escape using force when they saw the rift." Although it was hard to tell, her tone sounded sarcastic.

   "Now, Tearfang, no need to be rude to our guest," Jozero chimed. "She won fair and square, and like I just said, she is our guest."

   Tearfang turned towards the angel. "But, my lady, you can't be serious that-"

   "Enough, Tearfang."

   Reimu smiled wryly at Tearfang getting scolded, watching her pallid cheeks turn a slight shade of pink. Now that she was closer, she noticed that Tearfang's clothes looked like they still had the damage from when they fought earlier, except all physical wounds were healed.

   "But...but to allow her to be here for an extended length of time? You don't think she-"

   "I said enough, Tearfang." Jozero was clearly getting annoyed, especially in comparison to how Tearfang's expression and tone only changed in small amounts. "Now go and clean yourself up. I don't know why you're still in tatters when you even returned to the palace..."

   "I returned on an errand. I did not have time to change. And I still think that the shrine maiden would be better off-

   "Tearfang, I'm not going to turn this into a debacle. Just leave. Please."

   The sword girl opened her mouth to continue before shutting it again into a displeased frown. She turned and stalked down the hall through the door she just entered from in a huff. Reimu watched her go, and got to see her pull an illusionary sword out of nowhere and slice a random passerby fairy maid out of frustration. "Is she normally like that?"

   "No, not normally," Jozero sighed. "Usually only when she gets conflicting orders or flustered...or in this case both." Both girls laughed at this. "Nonetheless, I apologize for her disturbance." She reached for a brownie. "You don't mind, do you?"

   Reimu grabbed the teapot to pour herself another cup and shook her head. They continued in silence for another few minutes until yet another door opened. Jeez, each door is just a random hallway, isn't it... "Miss Jozero! Is it true that we're goin' back to...Reimu?" she called as she approached. "Bloody hell, you are alive! Not that I doubted ya, but she's not the type to lose easily."

   Reimu looked down at her slightly battle-damaged clothes. "Yeah, well, neither am I. And look who looks the worse for wear because of it."

   "Haha, yeah. Anyway, 's it true you want to head back to the mainland?"

   "Yes, Izumi. Why else would Transmutation tell you that?"

   "Well, I just wanted to make sure, since we're almost back to shore."

   Reimu nearly spit out her tea, but instead choked it down. "Ruh-really?" she responded, sputtering a bit. She regained her breath a bit before continuing. "That was fa-hast."

   "Don't strain yourself too hard, mate. Wouldn't want you to finally get back to land only to drown by tea above the ocean."

   "You certa-hainly have a strange sense of humor, don't...don't..." she punctuated her statement with another sneeze, a loud one that echoed through the room. "Ugh...don't you?"

   "Yeah...you might want to just go straight home and rest after this, mate. You've had a long day."

   "Yeah...rest sounds nice."

   "Izumi..." Jozero interrupted. "About when will we make landfall?"

   "Oh, right! Real soon, actually. The palace'll be on the ground in no time. I need to hurry back so we can land right. If you two take your time, we should be back before you make it back to the main hall. Well, I'll see ya in a bit." With that, she turned and walked right back from where she entered.

   "I wouldn't think such a huge structure would be able to fly this smoothly such a long distance. I didn't even notice when we started moving," Reimu commented.

   "That's true. It is a very stabilized fly. Well, if you're done, we should probably head back to the foyer."

   Reimu drank the last from her teacup and set it back on its little dish, nodding to Jozero. They both stood and walked towards the door they first entered from, the door unused by everyone else entering the room. The three colored Dark Matters drifted silently behind them. "Hey, what happened to that huge crowd of Dark Matter that followed you into the kitchen when you went to make the tea?"

   "Those? I willed them out of existence. They served no further purpose. These three and Miracle Matter are the only ones who aren't weak fighters, an obstacle, or used to infest people. So, I have no qualm with getting rid of them, since I can spawn new ones instantaneously."

   Reimu dwelled on that last statement for a bit before shrugging it off. "So, what is Miracle Matter anyway? It looks a lot like you, but...it's a shape, not a person."

   "Again, that is a story for another time. It...it's very dear to me, let's put it that way." Reimu decided to leave it at that, partially because she could see the open door at the end of the hall.

   They stepped back out into the sunlit main hall, watching small clouds drift by as the palace soared back to its original territory. As they watched, the clouds' movements slowed down, and then they began rising. Jozero turned to the shrine maiden and said "You might want to get off of the ground." They both began floating, and they could see the floor begin to rumble beneath them as the palace landed. The windows and the door rattling made Reimu begin to shake, until it finally stopped. Izumi opened the front doors from the outside, where Reimu saw grass, a river, hills, and trees further in the distance.

   She took a few weary steps towards the door. "Finally home..."

   "You sure you'll be fine on your way home?"

   "Yeah, I'll be fine...I'm just glad to be on solid ground again."

   "Alright, then. Take care, Reimu."

   She turned to see Jozero and her core Dark Matters in humanoid form, Izumi, and even a now-cleaned-up Tearfang watching her leave. She smiled and waved back at them. As she turned, she saw the beginnings of a red streak go down Jozero's face. Now's not the time to worry about that. Now's the time to go home. With that thought empowering her, she took a step out into the shining sunlight, the first step back towards her shrine.


   Not a single youkai challenged her on her way home. She thought she saw both mushroom youkai as she trekked from the hills to the forest, but they quickly dodged out of sight before she could truly tell. She saw a small group of fairies happily playing above the trees, and smiled. This was the Gensokyo she remembered, where fairies happily shot each other down with danmaku, not a despair-ridden land.

   She eventually reached the stairs leading to the familiar sight of the torii of her shrine. The light was gradually dimming as the sun set, and she rubbed her bare arm to try to keep it warm. She slowly began the climb, but stopped as she saw someone walk up and lean against the gate. They looked like they were tossing something up and down in one hand, waiting for something, causing Reimu to grimace. What now...I'm just getting back from an incident... With no other options, she continued up the stairs. Her suspicions quickly quieted when she noticed the figure was wearing an iconic pointy hat.

   "Evenin', Reimu. How was your little trip?" she asked, not even looking in her direction, her hat obscuring her eyes.

   "Marisa...thank god, I thought it was someone here to cause trouble."

   "Nah, the troublemaker just showed up, ze" she replied, obviously trying to be cryptic and cool. She was tossing her Hakkero up and down repeatedly, as if anxious about something.

   Reimu grew skeptical of her friend. "What's that supposed to mean? I've been gone all day solving this incident. And no one followed me here."

   "Riiiiight, 'incident-solving'. Tell me, Reimu..." She got up from leaning against the torii, now clutching the hakkero and looking the maiden straight in the eye. "Since when do you go through other peoples' houses when you solve incidents? They're usually outdoors or in huge, lofty buildings."

   Reimu racked her brain, trying to figure out what the witch was talking about. She was in that palace, in a typhoon, in that weird dimension thing, over the ocean, flying over a river, through the forest following...who? Wait, the forest... Her eyes went wide as the connection was made. "Oh, right. That."

   "Yeah, what's the deal with you just barging in on Alice right after she gets done bathing? Huh?"

   "What? How'd you hear about that? And it wasn't right after she was done, she had a towel on and was clipping her toenails..."

   "Sure, that's what you'd want your friend to think. I heard the whole story about how you snuck into Alice's house and walked in on her like that!" Her face was starting to turn red. "How could you do that, Reimu? It's just uncalled for."

   "Look, can we talk about this some other time? I'm really tired, and I don't feel like putting up with this right now." She turned to walk into her shrine, but was cut off by a short laser impacting the ground right in front of her. She whipped back around at Marisa, drawing her gohei. "What the hell?!"

   A small amount of smoke was clearing off of the hakkero, and Marisa looked sinister. "Wrong choice of words, 'buddy'."

   "How the hell was I supposed to know you had such a thing for Alice?! Don't get me wrong, I could still tell, but I didn't know you were this obsessive!"

   "I-it's not so much of a 'thing' as it is...look, I'm just gonna beat you up and go home about it, alright?" She hopped on her broom, and four magic familiars began rotating around her. "No hard feelings, k?"

   Reimu's weariness really set in. Just when she thought she was home free, now Marisa of all people wanted to fight her for a really silly reason. "Who even told you about that anyway?"

   Marisa began to reply, then looked around, puzzled. "I...don't remember. But whether or not it's true, I still have to take you down for i-"

   "MARISAAA!" yelled a voice from down the stairs. Floating up them was none other than Alice herself, gingerly holding her grimoire and her doll Shanghai following close behind her. "I had a feeling you'd be here...what're you doing?" She turned to Reimu. "And why are you so torn up?"

   "Incident."

   "Ah. I wasn't even aware one was going on...so that's why you went through my house...I guess..."

   "Ah-HA! I knew it! The only other witness has given me all the evidence I need!" She began charging her Hakkero with energy, causing it to glow. "Say your prayers Reimu! ...Y'know, unironically."

   "WAIT!" Alice shouted. "I'm sure she has good reason! It's not like she saw anything, it was just awkward!"

   "Y-Yeah!" Reimu stuttered, grateful Alice was on her side.

   "Oh great, now you're taking HER side over MINE now? Oh, this Master Spark is gonna feel soooo great...for me, that is."

   Well, crap.

   Reimu floated into the air, ready to fly for her life before she gets annihilated by Marisa's spark. Alice rose too, trying to soothe Marisa, who wasn't paying attention to her. All three of them stopped when they heard a stone bounce along the ground. They turned, and saw a youkai in a black hat walking towards them, probably just going to walk right past them without even a hello. All three slowly dropped to the ground as she approached.

   "Koishi?" Reimu was the first to speak.

   "Hey...that's right, it was Koishi who told me about you and Alice, ze..." Marisa said, turning to Reimu.

   "And now that I look at her, I remember that she's been sneaking around my house for the past few weeks now for some reason...I always find muddy footprints because of her...and here I thought it was Reimu, now..." Alice also commented, also turning to Reimu.

   "Yeah, she's the one who helped me with this incident by leading me to the beach...and through Alice's house."

   All three turned to Koishi and glared at her. "KOISHI!!!" they all yelled in unison.

   The absent-minded satori spun on her heel without breaking stride, and started running in the opposite direction. She looked over her shoulder to see Alice on one side, and Reimu on the other, and kept running. She was swiftly cut off by Marisa swooping in on her broom. Koishi skidded to a stop, and tried to run to her right, being cut off by Reimu. Alice completed the triangle, and the three circled around the girl menacingly. "Hee hee, you caught me~! Now you all run, and I get to corner you!"

   "Not this time, Koishi," Reimu replied.

   "You made a mistake involving Alice, let alone just sneaking around in general. Just 'cause no one can perceive you doesn't mean you can just throw away your conscience...or think you will get away with everything," Marisa continued.

   "And now you'll pay for getting mud on my carpet every week. As well as what you've done today."

   "Heh...uh, guys? This isn't funny...can't you just let me go with a warning or something~?"

   The three stopped circling and smirked at Koishi, all drawing spellcards. They all lifted them over their heads. The situation finally sinking in, all she could think of saying at this point is just "Aw, poop."

   "Divine Spirit 'Fantasy Seal -Blink-'!"

   "Magicannon 'Final Spark'!"

   "'Phantom of the Grand Guignol'!"

   "KYAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!" From near the shrine, a bright light shone forth, and a loud, pitiable shriek could be heard...


   The sun shone through the slot on the window, on Reimu's sleeping face. The light and warmth disrupting her sleeping conditions, she sat up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. As the world once again came into focus, she could hear the sounds of birds and cicadas outside, a warm draft blowing in. Reimu smiled and stood up, stretching the inactivity from her joints. "What a great morning. I feel so much better, too," she said to no one in particular. Slowly, she picked up a warm, delicious scent wafting from somewhere outside. "Must be breakfast time." As quickly as she could, she changed into a fresh, clean shrine maiden outfit, glad to finally have two sleeves again. She'll have to make a stop at the Human Village to get a replacement...hopefully an inexpensive one.

   She stepped onto the porch, remembering how she had just been pacing around, trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Now, nothing could be less right. The spot Suika had a little tantrum on was slightly depressed, but there wasn't much she could do about it. At least she fixed the stone outside. Wait...who's that? She just became aware of someone sitting on the torii gate, and oddly enough it wasn't Suika. Come to think of it, that's where that smell is coming from...

   She flew to the gate, coming up behind none other than the ghost princess, who turned and smiled at her in greeting. "Hello there, Reimu. Wonderful morning, isn't it?"

   "Uh...yeah..."

   "Maybe a bit warm for my tastes, but much better than the cold."

   "Right. So...why're you here?"

   Yuyuko turned to look back over the landscape. "Am I not allowed to get a good view of the living world while enjoying breakfast?" She punctuated her question by taking a dumpling out of a basket on her lap and popping it in her mouth. "Yum." She looked up to catch Reimu staring at the food. "Want some?"

   "Huh? Oh, no, no thanks. I'm sure I have something in the shrine to eat for breakfast." Besides, I know how you are when it comes to food... she added silently.

   "Oh, nonsense. Here, I brought a second pair of chopsticks. Dig in~."

   At first Reimu didn't know how to respond. Generosity with food wasn't exactly Yuyuko's strong suit. But on the other hand, those dumplings did look rather good..."Alright, since you offered."

   The two ate and stared out at the landscape, seeing the occasional youkai or fairy pop above the treetops, and small flashes of danmaku peppering the forest. It looked like there was a larger scuffle happening on what looked like the path to the forest...but the combatants looked equally skilled in danmaku, it seemed. "Oh, what happened to Youmu, by the way?" Reimu asked while taking a bite of another dumpling.

   "Feel free to help yourself to as many dumplings as you wish~."

   Reimu looked sidelong at her guest. "Uh...you're avoiding the question."

   "Hmm? You asked a question?"

   "Yes, I did. I asked how Youmu is doing. I'm assuming you got her to Eientei just fine?"

   Yuyuko's expression turned distant and wistful, putting a slight chill into the atmosphere. "Y-yes, I got her to Eientei."

   Reimu was getting worried and impatient with Yuyuko not answering her question. "Alright, but how is she doing? Just tell me."

   "Whom are we talking about again?"

   "Youmu!" she nearly yelled, grabbing another dumpling.

   "Oh...yes. Youmu." She closed her eyes, finally giving in to Reimu's prodding. A chilled breeze blew past them as she took a deep breath. "She...passed on. Her face was so...so peaceful when I went to see her, and the doctor at Eientei was so...dignified, when she told me, as if she practiced this sort of thing. I guess you sort of have to be, when it comes to this sort of thing. I remember her leading me into the room she was in...and..." Yuyuko sniffled, a tear running down her cheek.

   Reimu spat out the half-chewed dumpling. "Wh-wha-WHAT?! Youmu's...gone?! As in one-hundred percent, not the fifty she was before?" She turned to Yuyuko, only to see her barely able to hold back a smile. "You...That wasn't funny. You, of all people, joking about death...it's just twisted."

   "Yes, Youmu was in a state very close to death. She had no control over even her vitals. As soon as I felt something strange far to the east, the darkness that plagued her left, and her breaths became stable and normal, her heart rate and so on. She's still resting, as half-alive as ever. I was on my way to bring her home when I decided to stop here for breakfast. That strange feeling...it felt like what happens when a ghost is about to enter Nirvana, but someone interrupts it, except it felt...much more painful. Like a prison was temporarily broken." She turned to Reimu. "You wouldn't happen to know about that, would you?"

   Reimu thought for a bit, but all she could think of was Jozero after she beat her. "As a matter of fact...yes. It was me sending that angel to hell, like you asked me to do."

   Yuyuko looked aghast. "What?! Why on earth would you send an angel to hell? Whenever they do something, they have to have a reason for it."

   "Yeah, well, her reason sucked. So I beat her up for it. She vanished in a white light, and all her little...things, servants or whatever, banded together to try and kill me because of it. Then she came back before I was pummeled."

   "You know, you shouldn't joke about the afterlife. Angels, hell, ghosts and the like are very serious business, unlike life."

   "Life and death are pretty serious, too, you know, and you joked about them."

   "Yes, but talking of affecting the afterlife like that makes you sound like you think you're a Yama, which'll get you in trouble with a real one."

   Reimu started to respond, but stopped. Yuyuko's strange logic made sense for once, and the argument was distracting her from the scenery. So, she shrugged and took another dumpling from the basket. As she brought it up, she felt resistance. She looked, and Yuyuko's chopsticks were also around it. "Uh...Yuyuko?"

   "Now I know you aren't trying to take the last dumpling out of your guest's chopsticks, are you?"

   "Um...but I had it first?" It sounded more like a question than a complaint. Yuyuko just stared at her, shifting her gaze to the dumpling and back, her face rigid. "Oh, fine." Yuyuko began smiling once again as she brought the liberated dumpling to her mouth.

   "Just to let you know, Reimu...the angel didn't seem too bad. I think she was just misguided. Hopefully her defeat will make her realize she could do so much more. Although, it will be impossible for her to reconcile at the moment. She will get her opportunity...but someone needs to show her a path to the light first, instead of the embrace of darkness." The shrine maiden just looked at her for a moment, not sure what she meant. "Oh, poo." she said, looking down at the basket. "I was going to save some of these for Youmu...oh well. I'm sure she's already fed and ready to come home. And if not...well, I'm sure the hospital has a food court we can stop at~." She got up, hanging the basket on her forearm. "We might have to stop there anyway~." Without another word, she lifted off of the gate and flew towards the Bamboo Forest.

   Reimu stood up as well, and turned to go back inside, when she saw Suika running for the door, her path wobbling slightly. Reimu was about to call out to her when, in her drunken stupor, she forgot to watch her horns and got stuck on the doorway, falling flat on her back. Reimu chuckled as she got back up and carefully sidled out of the door to make sure she didn't repeat that mistake. "Reimu! Reimu!"

   "Yes, what is it, Suika?" She was still laughing at her display. It had been a long time since she ran full speed into the door. "And make sure you watch those horns. They like to get caught in doors, I hear."

   "Ha, ha, so funny. Anyway. when's the partyyyy~? Sake ain't gonna drink itself!"

   "And thank the gods your gourd is infinite, or the planet would probably be dry by now."

   "Oh, stop being silly. So when is it? Huh?"

   "It's tonight. You did drop the sparse invites in the Underground to the right people, right?"

   "Of course! Who do you think I am?"

   "Suika the Forgetful Drunkard," Reimu joked.

   "Watch it, even drunk I can still throw a mean left hook!" She began shadow boxing to prove her point, almost losing her balance on the second swing.

   "Yeah, yeah, just save your energy. You'll probably need it. We don't need you passing out on us in the middle of a party. Especially after the last time, when you were three times your size and passed out, blocking the entire middle of the room. We had to use you as a table, since you fell on - and broke - the actual table."

   "Hey, that was a stressful day. I told you I had to fight a bean fairy that day!"

   "Keep telling yourself that, and maybe eventually I'll believe it."

   "Heh, you and your sarcasm. One of these days, I tell ya..." she rambled as she meandered to the gate. She gave an uppercut to the air. "Pow! Right in the face! No, wait...I messed that up...uh..." She stopped and thought about it, before ending it with a resounding "Meh." followed by a flying leap to the gate. A sake gourd could barely be seen above the red beams.

   The party...after-Incident parties became more popular after the Moriya incident. Although, they usually take place at the culprit's home, not the solver's. Then again, that palace was way too drab and unhappy for a party. It would have to be painted or decorated first. That reminds me, there's still a lot to prepare for...

   An "OIIII! REIMU!" startled her out of her planning as the easily-recognizable witch sped up and landed right next to her, Alice in tow. "Big night tonight! Alice, show her what we brought."

   Alice smiled and pulled out a large bag. "We got it from Kourindou. I had to pay, since a certain someone tried to hide it under her hat."

   "Hey, it woulda worked if you didn't give it away."

   "Your hat doesn't stand straight up, stupid! It bends about halfway!"

   "...Hold on a sec." Marisa jumped off her broom, and ran to the pond nearby the shrine, an old-looking turtle looking up at her before going back to sleep. "AW, CRAP!" could be heard from the witch.

   The pair chuckled at Marisa's antics before focusing back on Alice's bag. "Anyway, Kourin showed us a short moving picture from the Outside World of a party, and they had these strange bottles..." she said as she drew one from the bag. There appeared to be multiple. "Basically, when one wants to start the party, they shake the bottle and jam their thumb under the cork at the mouth of the bottle, prying it open. With any luck, the cork will fly off, and it's supposed to be good luck or something to be hit by the cork after it goes flying. It's apparently alcoholic, even though I haven't tried any. He called it "Champion", for some reason. I guess because they use it at victory parties."

   "All right, neat. Well, you should probably take it with you, last thing we need is Suika drinking it all before the party even starts." Marisa had rejoined them, muttering about her hat being dysfunctional and Alice being right. "Why does it need to be at my shrine anyway? Couldn't it be at Alice's house? Or even the Moriya shrine? They're both bigger than my shrine." And cleaning up after everyone is such a drag...

   "You know how difficult it is to get up the Youkai Mountain, even with Tengu permission, ze."

   "And my house is off-limits to many people. Not that it apparently matters much anymore," she added quietly.

   "Yeah...well, you guys should get going. I've got preparations to make for tonight."

   "Alright, Reirei. Don't work too hard, you hear? But I don't want this to be a half-assed party, either."

   "Yeah, shut up, Marisa. Since when have I disappointed you? Tanabata is always a fun time here, for example."

   "Festivals may be parties, but not every party is a festival. Anyway, see ya! Come on, Alice."

   "Take care, Reimu. See you tonight!" Alice called as the two whisked away on Marisa's broom.

   "Stay safe, you two!" she called after them. She turned back to her shrine and took a deep breath. Once they were gone, Reimu went over a mental checklist of what she needed. She was set on food, no decorations were needed, and everyone who she wanted to be there was given an invitation. Drinks...usually Suika handled that. Yet, perhaps it was her sudden taste for foreign food from the palace the other day, but she wanted something a little more...unique, for this one. Specialty drinks...

   Her eyes lit up as realization hit her. "That shark at the river! She ran a drink stand! Oh, wait..." Her excitement was rapidly being quelled by reason. "That stand didn't exactly look mobile...and it's too short of notice for her to pack up and haul everything here...hmm..." She turned to the gate, barely able to see the oni perched on top of it. "Suika can carry large things...maybe she could do something..."

   Her mind made up, she flew to the top of the gate. The young oni opened one eye upside down, her face showing only the slightest signs of intoxication. "'Sup, Reimu?"

   "Hey Suika, mind coming with me to help with something?"

   She rolled onto her stomach, still only keeping one eye open. "Ehh...but the sun's so nice today...

   "It's about alcohol."

    "In that case, whaddya need help with?"

   Reimu beckoned, and headed towards the forest. "I'll explain on the way there."


   Reimu shielded her eyes with her hand, barely able to see the stand from atop the hill she stood on. Suika was busy gaping at the giant, dark palace that was inexplicably there. "There it is, Suika. That's the stand down there, by the river."

   Suika peered over the hill, looking like a mole was coming out of it. "That little thing? Ah, that'll be easy."

   "Just remember what I told you."

   "Yeah yeah, I got it. How long's that castle been there?"

   Reimu tried to respond, when she realized she didn't know for sure. "I dunno. At least a year or two, I think. Anyway, I'm off."

   "Kay," Suika responded, still gazing at the structure. "I wonder how long it took to build it..."

   Without a word, Reimu approached the wooden bar-like stand, and saw the owner reading the newest issue of the Bunbunmaru and drinking an unnervingly red smoothie. Boy, she must get hardly any business at all...I just wonder if anyone even knows she's over here...well, this'll help both of our problems. She stepped up to the seat farthest on the left and waited.

   Although it took a minute, Kuhai finally glanced over and noticed she had a customer. "Oh, hey. Sorry 'bout that. Celebrity gossip's interesting, ya know?"

   "Actually, I wouldn't. I don't get that piece of garbage newspaper."

   The river shark chuckled before setting down her glass and the paper. "Yeah, well, it helps pass the time. Gotta say, you're the first recurring customer I've had in a while. Even though you didn't really buy anything last time. So, what can I get ya?"

   Reimu smirked. "I require your services."

   Kuhai's business-friendly smile dropped. "Um...excuse me?"

   "And your stand."

   "Okay, what are you talking about, since it's obviously not what I thought you meant?"

   The shrine maiden leaned on the counter. "I'll make it brief. After an incident, usually there's a small party to celebrate yet another incident solved. And, well, this one will be a bit lacking in refreshments. So, I require your services and stand to provide these. Am I going too fast for you?"

   "Not at all, I completely understand the language of business opportunity." She smiled as she turned and began packing a cooler with different glasses and loose ingredients. "So, when's this party, anyway?" she asked as she grabbed a basket of limes.

   "Tonight."

   Kuhai stumbled, losing a couple of fruit. "Tuh-tuh-tonight?! There's no way I can pack up in time!" she stuttered as she frantically began picking the limes back up.

   Reimu stood back up, stretching her arms. "Ah, that's not a problem."

   "What're you gonna do, carry the stand all by yourself?" Kuhai retorted sarcastically.

   "No, I have someone to do that for me." She turned and cupped her hands to her mouth. "HEY, SUIKA!!"

   "...Suika?" she repeated. "What's a suika?" Suddenly she started hearing the hanging glasses rattling. She stepped toward the counter to peer under the roof, and she dropped the basket of fruit. "Is that...is that a GIANT?!"

   The massive form of the normally small oni trudged forth, hardly leaving a footprint in the earth. She probably rivalled the castle in height right now.

   "No, that's Suika. She's an oni who manipulates density."

   "Oh, don't tell me...she's gonna carry the whole stand, isn't she?"

   "That's the plan. Oh, you might want to get all of your loose items together or secure them. No guarantees all of your stuff will make it otherwise."

   "Yeah, I get your point," she replied, and began packing as many things that she couldn't secure into the multiple coolers scattered around, securing them under the front of the counter. She'll have to carry about four glasses, since she ran out of room. She hopped over the counter and began securing the bar stools to the counter. Once the last one was locked, she grabbed the glasses and sat on the middle stool. "Uh...all set...I think..."

   Reimu nodded, and flew up to the oni awaiting directions. "Alright Suika, I want the stand to get back home in one piece. Last thing I need is to pay for repairs to her little business. Plus, if you don't break it, I'll spend one of the free drinks she owes me to get you a specialty of your choice."

   Suika saluted, and bent down, gingerly plucking the stand from the ground and placing it on her other palm. Reimu flew up to the stand to join Kuhai, who was looking around bewildered. "What, you never flown this high before?"

   "This high?! I can barely get above the treetops, normally! This is incredible!" She then made the mistake of looking down, past her dangling feet, and her hands visibly tensed on the glasses she was holding. "Ooh, and now I'm scared. And a bit woozy."

   "Don't worry, you'll get used to it. Took me a while to get over anything that had to do with heights. And I kinda needed to for the Cherry Blossom incident. Even for this incident. It's just something you get used to."

   Kuhai laughed nervously. "I'm not sure I want to get used to this. I like land...and water."

   After a few minutes of Suika stomping across the Forest of Magic, they were in sight of the shrine. "We're almost there. Any place you would rather be set up at?"

   "If you have any bodies of water, it would be great for my stand to be there. I'm not a fan of being away from water for so long. If there's fish, I promise I won't eat 'em. Unless you say I can," she added with a sharp, toothy grin.

   Reimu rolled her eyes before instructing Suika to set her down in front of the pond. The giant little oni nodded, and carefully set down the stand, letting it drop into place so the open back was to the pond. Kuhai jumped down and began rearranging everything to her liking, her arms stretching from the coolers so she didn't have to run back and forth. Suika finally shrank to a manageable size.

   "Everything all good, Kuhai?"

   "Yes ma'am, everything survived. Thanks for the li-" She turned to see a turtle staring inquisitively at her. "Well hi there..." She turned back to Reimu. "Uh, who's that?"

   "Hm? Oh, that's Genjii. He used to help me out before I could fly on my own. Yo, Gramps!" she yelled, waving at him.

   Kuhai kept hauling things around, eventually picking up the same basket of limes from before."Genjii? Hmm. Not the name I would have given a pet turtle, but to each their own, I suppose..."

   "Now who're you calling a pet turtle?"

   "GACK!" Kuhai yelped, dropping the limes yet again. "Okay...didn't expect it to talk."

   "Genjii, this is Kuhai. I met her on my way to solving the incident that just happened. She's going to be providing drinks for the guests for tonight."

   "Ah, another incident solved, just as a Hakurei maiden is ought to do. Good work. What'd you fight this time?"

   "I'll tell ya later, I've got some more setting up to do. Oh, Kuhai, don't eat the fish or the turtle either. I wouldn't advise the frogs, either."

   "Yeah, gotcha," she halfheartedly replied as she reached into the cooler to shift things around. "Ah crap, a glass broke...I'll have to stop at Kourindou at some point and see if he has another one..."

   "Alright, I'll leave you to it. C'mon, Suika. We should check to see what food there'll be tonight." The oni nodded and silently followed, only grunting once when she forgot to turn to not hit the door.

   "So, your name is Kuhai, eh?"

   "Yep. Kuhai Hoshokusha. I used to be a god, until my faith dropped to almost nothing. The only thing keeping me still kicking is the business. It's a good enough alternative to faith."

   "A shark god...not very many of those."

   "How 'bout you? I've never heard of a turtle god. Or are you the avatar of the god of this shrine or something?"

   Genjii laughed. "Oh, no, I'm just an old man who helps the Hakurei line. When the next one comes around, I'll spring back into action to teach them. As for Reimu, she's fine on her own now, so I'm taking a well-deserved rest," he said, smiling.

   Kuhai couldn't help but return the smile as she took count of her supplies. She had more than enough, which meant the stand was all set up and ready for tonight. "Well, I'm sure you must have a ton of stories, and since the stand's all set up, I've got nothing but time." She hopped into the pond, surprised at how deep it actually was, and found a rock to sit on. "So, go ahead. You must be dying to talk to someone."

   The old turtle shifted into a more comfortable position. "Well, as a matter of fact, I do have a few tales to tell...I might as well start at the beginning. I call this one 'The Story of the Eastern Wonderland'...

   Reimu closed the window, having heard enough. She knew the tale all too well, so she didn't need to hear it again. It was the most talkative she's seen Genjii in a long time. "Well, an old man and a god could probably rival each other in stories. Luckily, the party isn't about past stories, but rather the creation of a new one." She surveyed the grounds, noting Kuhai's stand, the plates of food she and Suika already assembled and the rest that could be thrown together at a moment's noticed, and chuckled. "Looks like tonight's gonna be a long night." She hadn't said those words in a long time, and she grinned as nostalgia flooded her.

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2014, 07:22:11 am »
   POP!

   "Did I do that right?"

   "Look, the bottle's foaming!"

   "Is the bottle supposed to foam? Wouldn't that decrease the amount of the drink in it?"

   "What a waste..."

   "No, it's supposed to do that, I think."

   "Oh god, my eye! The cork's in my eye!"

   Reimu stood up and waved down her guests' conversation. "Hello, everyone. Thank you all for coming to another after-Incident party." She waited for the applause to die down. "Now, this one was a bit strange, since the incident was very subtle to begin with, and hardly anyone knows who the offending party is..."

   "I do!" yelled Cirno from the back. "Some weird lady attacked Sunny, Luna, Star, and me! Dai came back in the nick of time before I would have sunk into the lake and drowned!" she practically screamed as Daiyousei tried to calm her down.

   "...The point is that it's all over now, and Gensokyo is safe from despair."

   "So? Despair is natural, and it's not a permanent thing," an unidentifiable voice called from somewhere.

   "Well, yes, but this kind of despair would have left us all depressed forever. Speaking of the incident, I don't see them here...I thought for sure they'd come..." The members of the crowd began looking at their neighbors for unfamiliar faces with no luck. "Well, the party will just have to begin without them. Now, since the Champion bottle has been shot, let the feasting and good times...begin!"

   A cheer rose from the crowd, and the chatter level rose back up, higher than before. Reimu went to join the table set up with her friends, and there was a line at Kuhai's stand, waiting for different types of drinks. The poor shark was in a rush, taking repeated sips of her refilled deep-red smoothie to keep her energy up. The Prismrivers showed up unexpectedly, providing a nice musical atmosphere to keep the party going.

   "So let me get this straight," Alice said, holding up her arms in a 'hold it' position, pausing Reimu's retelling of the incident. "Gensokyo goes from being landlocked to suddenly having a beautiful beach and an ocean all in the course of one day?"

   "Yep. Marisa can vouch for that too. Right, Mari?" Reimu said, turning to the magician.

   "Uhhh? Eh, yeh...or somethin'...I dunno..."

   "Um...Marisa? You all right?"

   "Yeh, I'm *urp* fine. I just orde-...ordar...uh, got a drink from the shark lady over there...called it a Tengu Buster or somfin'..." she drunkily moaned.

   "Tengu Buster?! Marisa, that thing's probably got enough alcohol to kill someone if they were to finish it! No wonder you're already drunk off your ass!" Alice accused.

   "Oh, thanks for remindin' me, I'm only...like...halfway done." She reached for the glass on the table with a very beige-looking liquid in it, different than the plain sake Reimu was drinking at the moment. After four failed attempts to grab the glass, she just waved her hand at it. "Ahhhh, forget it, I'll get it later...hey Reimu, anyone ever tell you you look nice?"

    "I...um...thanks?"

   "Oh Marisa...what am I going to do with you..." Alice sighed, before suddenly feeling a weight pressing down on her head. Unnerved, she looked up to see another girl with teal hair leaning on her. "Um...hello..."

   "Oh, this is Yoake Ensosha. She lives somewhere near the beach. She's...a summer person, let's say."

   "No, I'm a summer youkai," she countered.

   "Yeah. She got possessed and I had to fight her."

   Yoake's smile faded immediately. "That's what happened to me? I got possessed? No wonder why I woke up all beat up...and here I thought you just knocked me out for fun while I wasn't paying attention. But," she added, the sunny smile returning. "That's all in the past. And I couldn't bear to miss a summer night party!" She rose from Alice's head, meandering around to the side of the table, when she saw Marisa. "Uh, is she alright?"

   "She drank a bit much." THUD. "Okay, she drank a lot."

   "Hey...where'd the table go..." groaned a voice from below.

   "Ah...that explains it. She really should know her limits. Ooh!" she exclaimed as the Prismrivers began playing a different song. "I love this one! Merlin has a trumpet solo later on, it's the perfect place for impromptu!"

   "Impromptu? As in...?" Alice asked.

   "Yoake loves dancing," Reimu replied, prompting an 'Ah' from Alice.

   "That I do. I prefer it in the morning, but I can't resist good music. As for you," she said, directed to Alice. "You look like you need a bit of pep in your step." Alice looked around, then pointed a finger at herself. "Yes, you. I bet you haven't danced in a long time." Yoake jumped to her feet, her orange dress fluttering beneath her, before grabbing Alice by the arms.

   "Uh...I-I'm not sure...I never was really good at dancing..."

   "Well, I'll lead, you follow, so it's easier on you. Dancing's easy!"

   "Well...I'm j-just not sure if I..."

   "Oh c'mon, it'll be fun!" Yoake said, before pulling Alice towards the crowd of dancing people.

   "I still don't know if I- ACK! Reimu! Help me! I'm being abducted by a dancer!"

   Reimu chuckled at the sight of the youkai being dragged away against her will and turned as she heard Marisa's hand slam on the table. "I'm good, I'm good...where'd Ali go?"

   "She was forcibly dragged against her will to dance with a youkai she's never met before."

   "...I bet she'll have fun. Dunno why she didn't ask me, though; I'm a great dancer. Watch this..." She let go of the table and started trying to move her arms and legs. It failed, and Marisa landed on her backside again. "Huh...how'd I get down here?"

   "Marisa, you might just want to stay down there. You'll be less likely to be hurt."

   "Hey, I don't need any of your advice, Patchyyyy...and if you don't shut up, I won't return those...pots n' pans...in the morning..." She landed on her back, breathing softly.

   Reimu shook her head and stood up to go find other company. She could see Satori and Koishi at one table, Suika, Yuugi, and an uncomfortable-looking Parsee sitting at Kuhai's bar, Yuyuko and Youmu seated with Tenshi and another Celestial at another table, the Myouren Temple group at another...she just couldn't decide. As she was scanning the crowd, she saw a glow from the rear of the crowd, moving in her direction. Slowly, it thinned out, and she could see none other than Jozero, Illusion, Transmutation, Izumi, and oddly enough the mushroom girl, Rima, with them. As they got closer, she could see the mushroom's eyes were a sickly yellow, so she assumed it was Possession in control of her. They all seemed to be hovering around Jozero, who looked about meekly. She was obviously uncomfortable around crowds, even though no one took notice to the newcomers.

   Reimu got up and moved to the new group. Well, she would have, if Marisa hadn't clamped onto her leg. "Nice broomstick...can't wait tah...tah take it out fer a spin..." she said drunkily.

   The small group had already approached her by the time she vigorously shook Marisa off of her. Jozero bowed as she approached, the Dark Matters and Rima following suit. Izumi waved, smiling. Reimu returned each greeting in kind. "So, where's the sixth?"

   "Sixth?" Jozero looked confused.

   "Yeah, the sword girl."

   "Ah, yes. She had an errand to run, she'll join us as soon as she-"

   "-arrives?" Tearfang floated up from behind them, the same expressionless face as before. "Greetings, Lady Jozero, Izumi. My apologies for my tardiness." She turned to look sidelong at Reimu. "Red-white."

   "Tearfang, show her some respect. She's allowed us to visit her shrine out of her own good will. She could very well have hosted this gathering without us."

   Tearfang began to speak, but instead chose to keep silent. After a moment, she turned to face the angel. "Your logic is sound," was the only recognition Jozero got.

   "Good. Now do me a favor and don't harass people while we're here."

   Tearfang hmphed and walked over to the bar. Jozero sighed. "What am I going to do with that girl..."

   "She seems like quite a handful sometimes," Reimu chimed.

   "You don't know the half of it."

   "Well, anyway, feel free to look around. There's food, music, drinks, probably games somewhere..."

   "Thank you. Dark Matters, enjoy yourselves. You are not tethered to me tonight."

   "Yes, my queen," they all responded simultaneously before looking at each other and then walking off into the crowd. Jozero watched them go, smiled at Reimu, then walked into the crowd herself, towards the food.

   "Uh, Reimu?" She turned to see the weather spirit standing before her. "Ahh, do you happen to know if one Keine Kamashirasawa is here tonight?"

   "Keine? Uh...let's see..." Reimu scanned the crowd until she saw white hair with a white and red bow, and next to it a strange blue hat. "I think she's over there," she said, pointing.

   "Great! Thanks, mate. I'll be sure to enjoy the festivities!" she called as she darted in that direction.

   She was about to depart into the crowd when she heard a faint moan from back at the table. She turned to see a groggy Marisa leaning heavily on it. "Reimuuuu~...where's my Hakkeroooo~? I need to fry a fish, and the monkeys ran off with the door agaaaain...Oh, here it is...now how did it go again? Oh right...Maaasteeer Spaa - *hic* - aark! ...where's the light?" Reimu sighed and sagged her shoulders. She didn't expect her night to be babysitting Marisa so she doesn't drunkenly Spark her shrine...again. She walked over and plucked the Hakkero from her friend's hand. About a minute later, she could hear "Heyyyy...the gnomes finally got me...where'd my Hakkero go now?" Reimu sat next to her as she futilely pawed at the ground to try and find it. She knew one thing; when Marisa was over this, she was going to have one hell of a hangover. She just had to make sure she didn't hurt herself or others until it wore off.


   "Mm...I might have to find some of this for home. Yakitori is pretty good..." The angel had grabbed one of almost everything on a plate, trying everything at once to find out what she liked. She quickly finished the rest of the yakitori she had, and looked around her plate. "What to have next...Let's try...one of these dumplings," she narrated to no one in particular.

   As she brought it to her mouth, a small red shard of crystal-like danmaku shot it right out of her fingers. She looked over where it came from, only to see the Scarlet Devil pointing at her with two fingers and her maid further down the table. With all the charm, elegance, and sassiness of a spoiled princess, the vampire sauntered over to the angel, who had set down her plate and kept a wary eye on her. "It's been a while, Heaven-spawn."

   "I...suppose it has. I can't say I'm terribly surprised to see you here, especially since it's night..."

   "I believe we have some unfinished business," she said, cracking her knuckles. The maid checked her pocket watch idly, as if keeping to some sort of schedule. "Sakuya, if you please."

   "Yes, mistress," was all Jozero heard before she and Remilia were suddenly out behind the shrine, where there were less people. A few younger youkai were playing back there, and they scattered at the sudden intrusion.

   Jozero took a moment to get her bearings and try to figure out what happened. Remilia chuckled. "I see you don't know how you got there. Well, Sakuya can stop time. She did so, and moved both of us back here." The maid nodded and drew three knives from seemingly nowhere, but Remilia raised her hand in a halting motion. "Sakuya, go enjoy the party. This is personal, and I will take care of it. Besides, the odds don't need to be stacked more in my favor," she said, sneering.

   Sakuya glanced at the vampire, then withdrew her knives, bowed, and vanished once more, leaving the two alone in the dark behind the shrine. Remilia stepped forward, cracking her neck and stretching her wings. "I'm surprised you're not hiding your face anymore. Not that it mattered back at my manor," she said, glaring.

   Jozero, at first bewildered, returned the glare. "Why hide my face when the world will find me anyway? Darkness used to be what mattered, but now I'm beginning to see where I was wrong. I know it won't mean anything right now, but I do apologize for the trouble I caused you."

   "Yeah, yeah," she said, the beginnings of a fanged smile forming. "Now, enough talk. Fight me!" she yelled, charging forward, a red orb charging in her hand.

   Shrugging, Jozero replied "If you so desire." She then charged as well, enveloping her hand in red-tinged holy energy.

   Remilia's smile couldn't help but widen at her challenge being met with due force "Looks like tonight's going to be a fun night," she muttered as the two simultaneously brought their fists forward...


   "Pardon me, but would you happen to be Keine Kamashirasawa?"

   The half-beast set down her beverage, turning to face the voice that just addressed her. Behind her was a girl in a long coat with face-like designs near the bottom of it, with grey hair and sky-blue eyes, and a tornado-shaped hat. She raised an eyebrow skeptically, and replied "I am. And you are...?"

   "A-Ah, yes, pardon me. My name is Izumi Wondjina. I'm...new 'round 'ere."

   "Oh, are you an enrolling student? You don't...exactly look like you're schooling age..."

   "Ehh, that's because I'm not a student. However, my question is related to that." Keine raised an eyebrow, which Izumi took as a sign to keep going. "You see...you see, I really want to teach people. Music, weather, and the like, my specialties."

   "You seem awfully nervous. And is a party really the best time for a job interview?"

   "Well, I figured that, since we both were here, it would be convenient for us. I at least wanted to meet you and ask."

   Keine hmmed and tapped her chin thoughtfully, sizing up this potential employee. She wasn't terribly fond of being the sole teacher, but it did keep her busy, if stretched a bit. On the other hand, she shouldn't just entrust children under the care of someone she doesn't know. On the other hand, she didn't know too much about playing music, or about the weather...and if her twister hat had any indication, she would probably be a good candidate.

   Izumi shuffled a bit, nervous and a bit impatient at Keine's silence. "Ehm, if it helps, I have credentials."

   "You do? Well, let's see them." Keine said, holding a hand out.

   Izumi looked down at her hand, then back up at her, before finally realizing what was going on. She reached into her jacket, and pulled out a small stack of papers, slightly ruffled. Keine took them and began scanning over them. After about a minute, she couldn't handle waiting anymore. "Well?"

   "Hmm...this certainly looks great...fantastic, even...but..."

   Izumi could feel herself start to sweat, and she tried to force herself to calm down. Being recruited for the incident was less troublesome than this...

   Keine turned the pages around to show them to Izumi. "I'm not very good at reading music."

   "Oh, you- Wait what?!" she yelled, snatching the papers out of her hand. It was an unfinished piece that she carries around when she leaves the palace, just in case she gets hit by inspiration. She had grabbed this instead of her information, and she began frantically searching her jacket. "Oh, bugger, where is it..."

   Keine shook her head and got up to walk away without another word. Izumi pulled out another stack of papers, checking to make sure they were the correct ones, before trying to hand them to empty air. She could see the blue woman walking off into the crowd, and began following her, maneuvering through people to keep going. "Miss Keine, wait, please!"

   At first ignoring her, she turned to see the poor girl run into someone and lose her grip on her papers, which began scattering. She rolled her eyes and turned to fully face her. "And this is why I walked away. You're obviously unprepared. Or at the very least clumsy. I just don't think teaching is right for you."

   "What? B-but...I...I'm a victim of circumstance! Just give me a chance, please!"

   "I'm sorry." She turned to walk away as Izumi finally gathered her papers again and stood up.

   She started after her, then stopped herself. She decided it was time to swallow her pride and just go. "Keine! Stop!" Silence. She didn't lose sight of her, but it was more difficult to keep up with her, and she was getting annoyed. "Keine!!"

   The were-hakutaku kept walking, ignoring her pleas. After she heard her name be yelled twice more, she went silent. Finally given up, I see... As the thought crossed her mind, she felt something strange in the air, and stopped her movement. As she did, the sensation stopped as well. She kept walking, and soon enough she felt oddly tingly. She looked up to see a single cloud over her, and the realization struck her like a bolt of lightning. Luckily for her, she dodged out of the way of the real bolt, back towards Izumi.

   She turned to see her clutching her papers in one hand, and in the other is a lightning-shaped baton. "Now that I've gotten your attention, let me just tell ya something, mate."  she said, closing the distance, still keeping her baton aloft. "I'm fine if you simply don't like me. At least give me a chance to show you that I mean well enough." She thrust her papers into Keine's torso, making sure she had a hold of them before letting go. All of her former nervousness and niceness had given way to annoyance. "I feel that teaching could be a passion for me, and I would love to educate Gensokyo in the art of music. I don't care if I have to teach some other courses on the side and abide by strict teaching curriculum, I'll do it."

   "I already said no. Besides the fact that you're dangerous, such as you trying to fry me just now-"

   "Oh come on! That would have hardly hurt you at all if it actually hit. Real lightning wouldn't have missed, and it would have been much larger."

   "Regardless. I distrust youkai as a rule, and you are without a doubt a youkai. I can't risk having an unknown youkai freely enter the village and have direct contact with children. I'd never forgive myself if I'd let that happen."

   "...Oh. Oh, that is rich. The half-beast says she distrusts youkai and doesn't want them in the village. Guess what? You're part youkai. You tend to go a bit crazy during the full moon. I'd sooner trust myself to look after kids than risk someone like you around! Oh, and by the way, I have tasted human before, and I find it disgusting. And yes, I know I'm unknown, but that's why I wanted to see you today rather than try to find a village you can just hide like it was nothing to begin with! That way, I wouldn't be unknown anymore. So if you're going to be biased, go right ahead, but I still want to teach. Even if I have to open my own school." She felt like she could just explode with anger and break down crying, but she held herself together throughout her tirade.

   Keine closed the stack of papers she had been reading through while Izumi lectured her, and smiled wrily. "Izumi Wondjina, congratulations. I never thought I'd meet someone else who had such a devotion to education. You also had the guts to stand up to me, even after I had declined you twice. Your arguments are forceful and your methods of grabbing attention creative. Your dislike of the taste of human is only a boon in your favor, although it does leave me to wonder what you actually eat..."

   Izumi looked dumbfounded, unsure how to react. She blinked and cleared her throat before trying to speak. "So..."

   "So, it means I'll give you a shot to prove yourself. I'll see you on Monday," she said, smiling and bowing slightly. "...Miss Wondjina."

   Izumi's agape mouth slowly turned into a large smile, and she grabbed Keine's hand with both of hers and firmly shook it. It's all she could do from simply tackle-hugging her. "Oh, thank you, Miss Keine! I swear, I won't let you or any of the tykes down!"

   "Yeah, alright, I believe you. Uh..." She tried to break free, but Izumi was too locked onto her hand. "You can let go now, please."

   "Oh, right, um...sorry," she said, dropping her arm. "So, ah...Monday, then?"

   "Yes, preferably before the sun is up so I can show you around the school. Now, loosen up and enjoy the party."

  "Yes, ma'am!" Izumi said, watching Keine walk back towards her table. Someone had taken her spot, a fairy by the looks of it. The two started arguing, and as she watched, Keine grabbed the fairy's head before bringing her own down on it. The fairy dropped to the ground, and the teacher didn't even have a scratch. Izumi winced at the thought of making her unhappy. "Monday, first thing in the morning." She smiled and walked back into the crowd, neatly tucking her papers back into her jacket. As she walked, her face became more and more puzzled. "Monday...hmm...isn't something going on around then that I'm part of?" She shrugged, still elated at her new job position.

   As she moved, she could feel the air pressure changing, and she looked to the northwest. A wall of clouds was steadily approaching, hardly visible with the waning crescent moonlight. "A storm? Huh...no doubt people'll accuse me of that. Well, better enjoy the party while it's still outdoors," she said, resuming her journey to the food table.


   "...Shaken. On the rocks," Tearfang called out, as if she rehearsed exactly what she wanted.

   "Alright, just gimme a sec..." called the exhausted Kuhai. She was busy washing another glass, one that had just been returned. The two oni and their friend were still there, and constantly barking out drink orders.

   Tearfang sighed and took a seat, glancing at the odd trio across the bar from her. The two with horns were drinking like there was no tomorrow, but the third one with the pointed ears looked ready to hurl, pass out, or both. No doubt she didn't want to be there at all, but rather was dragged along. She could feel her green eyes drilling into her whenever she looked at her, as if trying to curse her simply with a glare. Not that it would do much if she did curse me anyway.

   "Here's your drink, sorry for the wait." The one oni yelled something, and Kuhai sighed in exhaustion. "Yeah, yeah, another round of Tengu Busters, comin' up. Just gimme a second."

   Tearfang nodded and passed her some money for the drink. Low alcohol content, of course. She needed to keep her wits as sharp as her sleeves. After quietly sitting and sipping her drink for a while, eventually she could feel the odd sensation of being watched get closer. She slowly turned to see the green-eyed one sitting uncomfortably close to her. "Y' got nice, flowing hair...don'tcha..." she drunkenly mumbled.

   Tearfang didn't stop her rhythm of drinking, but she didn't respond.

   "Makes me...jealous. How come I dun got any nice hair? 'S not fair..."

   "I appreciate your compliment, but I must ask you to please move. You're invading my personal space," Tearfang said flatly.

   "Oh, sorrrry, your majesty," she taunted. "I din't realize we had *hic* had royalty among us. Meanwhile I'm sstuck over there with those drunk idiots...I mean, lookat 'em." She gestured behind her, almost falling out of her seat. Tearfang noted that the other two didn't look nearly as bad as this girl did.

   "Miss, I believe you are too heavily inebriated. I advise finding somewhere to lie down and rest."

   "Well, you know what I think 'bout your advice?" she rambled before swatting Tearfang's drink out of her hand and behind the counter. Kuhai dove after the glass, carefully inspecting it for cracks or chips. The two oni stopped their conversation and looked on in concern. "Y'know what else I'm jealous of? Th' sky, trees, those two, and especially you right now. Ya look so fancy in your pretty little get-up, I bet you attract allllll the attention to ya and yer proper walkin' and nice hair and tight ass..."

   Tearfang turned her full attention to the girl, now annoyed and slightly embarrassed. "Miss, I'm going to have to ask you to please step away from me. I have no issues with using force. It would be better if you departed calmly."

   "Better, huh? Better for you, maybe! But guess what? I'll still be whoopdy-freakin' jealous of ya!" Her gestures as she talked were highly exaggerated. Her one eyelid was drooped noticably lower than the other. She stood up, her gait bent as she had to find her balance. "Well? Ya gonna force me or - *hic* what?"

   Tearfang could feel her fists clenching, and calmed herself until she could focus on just tapping one finger. "I will give you one final warning. Cease your threats, or I-" She was cut off as the girl reared back and cleaned Tearfang's clock, sending her sprawling on the ground.

   The girl laughed, hardly able to stand. "I knew it! I knew you were just a pretty face! An' I'm jealous of pretty faces!" She tried to run forward to land another hit, but Tearfang had already rolled to the side and sprang to her feet, readying for her. The girl redirected herself, rearing another fist back. With one swift motion, Tearfang blocked her punch, upset her already unstable balance, and threw her flat on her back.

   The girl shakily stood back up as Tearfang readied herself again. A small crowd had gathered to watch, and Kuhai took a rest as the oni were too engrossed in the fight to bother ordering more alcohol. She charged again, running in a zig-zagging motion. Tearfang noted with a hint of sorrow that this probably wasn't intentional. This time, Tearfang knocked the blow to the side and followed with a few short jabs to her ribs and a push with her palm that sent the girl teetering back.

   As she steadied herself, she reached into her pocket, and pulled out a sickly green spellcard. "Malice Sign 'Midnight Anathema Ritual'!" The world around them began turning various shades of green, and Tearfang braced herself. However, it was unnecessary. The danmaku was erratic, and not a single shot even came close to hitting her. After one barrage, the card collapsed.

   Tearfang looked around, and saw nothing, even though the girl looked like she was still trying to concentrate on the spell, two fingers from each hand on her forehead above her closed eyes. Tearfang took this opportunity and darted forward. A swift kick to the abdomen, followed by an uppercut, and a roundhouse kick to drop her. The crowd made noises of pity, and the girl fell like a stone. Tearfang picked her up by her collar, extending one of her blades to her neck. As she did, she almost swore she felt a slight breeze brush past her. Tea...fa... Wait, what was that?

   The girl regained what could be described as consciousness, and looked into the sword girl's silver eyes. For a while, neither said anything. The breeze was picking up around both of them, from the northwest. Retur...me...Tear... Tearfang's gaze slowly began to look through the girl she was holding, even as she heard murmurs from the crowd about a storm. And was that a voice she was hear- Return to me...Tearfang...

   Tearfang snapped out of her trance, glaring at the girl. However, her mind was toward the command she just received. Now? Of all times...and I just finished running an errand for her...this is a different matter that can be dealt with after I eliminate this girl and actually enjoy myself he-

It's time.

   Her eyes widened, not expecting this sudden addition. Regaining her composure, she unceremoniously dropped the girl, muttering "Never again," to her as she turned and stalked off. She looked back to see the tall blonde and short ginger-haired horned girls rush over to her as she lay there. Once Tearfang reached the bottom of the shrine stairs, she broke into a run. She hardly entered the forest when a peal of thunder echoed around her. "I only hope I can get there before the storm arrives..." she mumbled, looking up at the sky only to confirm she wouldn't make it before the storm hit. She felt a small drop hit her forehead, and quickened her pace. Never before had she felt so urgent to run. Yet, if this was truly what she calculated the message meant...

   She grit her teeth and pushed herself to run as fast as she physically could.


   The three Dark Matters huddled close to each other, looking around the crowd nervously. The one with the guise of Orange spoke first. "W-what do we do now? Transmutation, you're always good with plans! Think of something!"

   The swordsgirl looked the most nervous out of all of them. "I...I don't know. There's so many people...being around so many of our kind, I thought we'd be fine when Lady Jozero let us go."

   "Well, do something, Transmutation!" yelled the possessed mushroom girl.

   "Shut up, Possession! I'm thinking! And besides, you're controlling the mind of a youkai. You figure out what they normally do!"

   "I tried! This girl's a loner, and many of her memories are locked away!"

   "Oh great, the situation's hopeless."

   "Illusion, don't be such a downer. We'll figure something out...uh...anyone hungry?" offered Transmutation. The other two shook their heads. "Okay...uh...dancing?" Another negative response. "Well we must figure something out...I don't plan on standing around here all night."

   "Lady Jozero, where are you..."

   "Hello, there."

   The sudden fourth voice made all three Dark Matters cry out in surprise and slowly turn to the new intrusion. Behind them stood not one, but four other girls, around the same height as Transmutation and Rima's body. In the back was a blonde girl in black, spreading her arms out to her sides. In front of her, side by side, were a brown bird and a green-haired bug, and in the front was a fairy dressed in blue with a blue ribbon, her fists planted on her hips, trying to look tough. "You guys look like you're lost."

   "...Who is this?" whispered Transmutation, leaning in toward her companions.

   "I have no idea, but the blue one doesn't look too smart...neither does the blonde in the back..."

   "Is the bug a boy or a girl?" Illusion and Transmutation turned to look, and then back. Both of them shrugged.

   "Well? Ya gonna answer? I'm bored just waiting here," whined the blue one.

   "Y-yes, we know nearly no one attending this party."

   "Well, you're in luck! I, Cirno, welcome you to join us for fun and games!" She turned to the tallest of the three. "Eeeeexcept for you. You're too old. No adults allowed!"

   Illusion looked at her form confused, then simply shrugged. She then began shrinking, the image of her actually looking younger as she matched the ages of everyone else present. The bird looked on in wonder. "How did you do that?!"

   She looked around, her companions silently urging her to come up with something. "Uhh...uh...I can manipulate my age?"

   The group looked puzzled, and Transmutation had to restrain from slapping her forehead. "Seems logical to me," concluded Cirno. "Anyway, my friends here are Wriggle, the bug, Mystia, the bird, and Rumia, the...um..."

   "Crucified saint~!" she called out, before spinning around.

   "Hey, watch it!" cried the one known as Wriggle as the other almost backhanded her with her spin.

   Transmutation floated forward, one hand resting on her sword in her cloak, just in case. "Nice to meet you. We're, uh..." She looked around frantically, trying to swiftly translate the names their master called them into what sounded like names, even if it was only a loose synonym. "The one with, ah, age manipulation is Sakkaku, I am, uh..." She scanned the area around them again, thankful her visor helped obscure her eyes. "I'm...Kasei! That's it, Kasei...and this third one is-"

   "We're already acquainted with Rima," commented Mystia. "Glad to see she finally managed to stop hiding by herself and being a loner."

   "Er, yes. Rima." She looked at Possession, who turned back to her and shrugged.

   "Although," began Wriggle, rubbing her chin. "I don't remember her eyes being that color..."

   "You don't?! Uh, it's because...ah..." Possession was struggling to try and come up with an answer. "Uh...iiit's...it's nighttime! That's it. Due to differences between the moon and sunlight, the, ah...photoreceptors in my eyes change from my normal eye color to...ahem...yellow." She wiped her forehead, wiping her sweat on her dress.

   The group all exchanged a look, then returned to the smaller group standing nervously before them. "Alright, I'll buy that." Wriggle nodded. "But...why is it somehow the same color as the one eye of your friends...and how come it's only their right eyes that are yellow like both of yours?"

   "Ah, shut up, Wriggle." Cirno interjected. "The point is, now we know each other, and now we're friends! As such, you listen to me. Now, who wants to try this new game I figured out?"

   This elicited some groans from the group, and one cheer from the one in the back. The Dark Matters exchanged confused glances. "But Cirno, the last game we played sucked!" commented Mystia.

   "Yeah, you sent me to Eientei with a nasty case of frostburn! The doctor said I was lucky to keep my fingers, toes, and antennae! Your danmaku games always end with me being hurt!" Wriggle whined.

   "Hey! It's not my fault you can't dodge my Icicle Fall spell! And I was going easy on you, too!"

   Wriggle looked indignant. "It was not! You definitely used a more powerful spell than that!"

   Cirno waved the comment away, leaving Wriggle fuming. "Anyway, this isn't even a danmaku game. I made up a new game called Freeze Tag!"

   "Freeze Tag?" the entire company inquired at once, some more enthusiastic than others.

   "Let me explain. It starts out with a countdown, like hide-and-seek. Except when someone is found, they run, and 'it' has to tag them. When she does, the person tagged is frozen and cannot move. If someone else touches them, then they get unfrozen and have to run and find a new spot to hide." She tapped a finger to her lips, thinking for a bit. "Oh, and no trying to find Sunny, Luna, or Star to help you. That would be cheating. Alright?"

   Cirno's group muttered approvals, while the Dark Matters began discussing strategy. They turned and expressed their approval as well. "Great! Alright, so who wants to be 'it' first?"

   "I bet wriggle does~!" commented Rumia.

   "Eh? What's that supposed to mean?"

   "Gender ambiguity!" she yelled this time.

   "Whaa?! Why you- I'm a girl, you halfwit!"

   "Whaaaaa~? Really~?"

   "It doesn't matter!" interrupted Transmutation. "If it will help solve this conundrum, I volunteer to be...as you said...'it', for this activity."

   "Transmu...er, Kasei, you can't! We already formulated-"

   "Create a new plan while I count." She turned to Cirno. "Is this fair?"

   "Sure is! Now, you go over the-" As she spoke, suddenly an earth-shaking explosion erupted with a plume of smoke from behind the shrine, followed by a distant crack of thunder. The loud noises caused a lot of conversations to become silent and scattering several fairies from panic, Cirno among them.

   "Oh jeez, not again...why is she so scared of thunder?" said Wriggle.

   "I don't know, but this is just like when the Scarlet lady, her maid, and the one in white appeared behind the shrine while we were playing..."

   Illusion stepped forward. "One in white? Was she tall and had strange wings?"

   Mystia nodded. "Also had a gold circle over her head."

   "Lady Jozero! Guys, we need to go help her!"

   "I'm sure she is fine, even against them both." assured Possession.

   "I would rather see it with my own eyes. Let's go," Transmutation urged. With that, all three began flying around the shrine to help their master.

   "Hey, wait! Why is Rima going with you?"

   "It doesn't matter, Mystia. Let's just find Cirno and get her back to her house before she accidentally gets herself in trouble...again. You remember how lecture-y Daiyousei was when she found Cirno stuck in the middle of the lake, unable to move and barely floating on the surface. I know fairies are immortal, but no one wants to drown."

   "Yeah, you're right. Now, where would she hide here at the shrine..."


   Reimu sighed as she slapped Marisa's hand away from her drink for what must have been the fiftieth time. "But Reimuuuu...my head hurts and I need to make it go away..."

   "Then maybe next time you'll learn not to guzzle half of an unknown drink and be ignorant of the consequences."

   "But Reimuuuuuuuuuuu...Hangovers suuuuck..." Marisa moaned, her head resting on the table.

   Reimu couldn't remember a time when Marisa couldn't handle whatever she drank, let alone be in this bad of a condition. Frankly, she would have rathered that than babysit her. At least she was getting over it. "Then why not learn to drink in moderation instead?"

   "Because...I dunno...but I need to not be hung over so I can find the thief who stole my Hakkero!" she moaned. "And where'd Alice go, anyway?"

   "I told you, she left a while ago."

   "Yeah, but where?"

   "I don't know, some youkai grabbed her."

   "Could you go find her for me?"

   "No. I need to make sure you stay out of trouble." She slapped her hand away again. "And make sure you keep your hands both off of that drink and to yourself."

   "Please~?"

   Reimu rolled her eyes and set down her sake. As she did so, she grabbed Marisa's glass, dumping it onto the ground nearby. "Don't worry Marisa, that was just my drink," she lied. After seeing Marisa give a thumbs-up while still face-down on the table, she proceeded to where the Prismrivers were performing. As she approached, she could hear strange, foreign music playing, led by Merlin, who was blaring away at her trumpet. A small crowd had gathered in a circle, and Reimu pushed through. She rubbed her eyes, unsure if what she was seeing was real.

   In the center, with a spotlight shining down made of a very weak, widely fanned-out laser being emitted from a doll, were Alice and the summer youkai, Yoake. Yoake had the largest grin on her face and was laughing as she was spun and practically thrown about. Alice, on the other hand, had the other youkai's hibiscus in her teeth, and was leading their dance with supreme grace and dexterity, a romantic sort of aloofness in her eyes. It definitely wasn't a dance Reimu knew, and she wondered when Alice learned to do any of this; she looked like she was an expert. As the music grew louder, Reimu saw Alice hoist the smaller youkai above her head by her stomach, and Yoake laughed as she spread her arms out like a bird as she was held aloft. In one swift motion, Alice brought her backwards to land on her feet and spun, catching her hands and continuing where they left off. As the song ended, they finished with one last twirl and a dip, both panting as Alice supported Yoake, both staring into each others' eyes. As the clapping subsided and the crowd trailed off, Reimu approached the two as Alice was making sure her partner's balance was on, handing her the flower back.

   "Well well, I never knew you had it in you, Alice." After waiting for the puppeteer to jump and address her, she continued. "Since when could you dance like that? I've never seen you be that...fluid, even when you perform with your dolls.

   "W-well, it's nothing, really. I mean, it just comes naturally...I always loved dancing when I was a little girl, and, well...I put that grace into my art. With the dolls." She grabbed her arm, turning red from embarrassment. "I-I think I might be a bit rusty, though..."

   "Rusty?! You? Please!" cried Yoake, still panting. "It's really, really hard for me to find other people with half as much talent as you! I'm surprised you didn't put your magic into that! My advice? Give up the dolls and pick up dancing. You're a natural! I'm sorry I misjudged you at first. Anytime you want to go again, just come find me~!" the dancer said as she walked off towards the drink stand. There appeared to be something going on there. Reimu was sure the one was Parsee, but the other didn't look too familiar. Before she could figure out who it was, Parsee reared back and threw a haymaker at the girl, knocking her out of her seat. People began obscuring the view, so she turned her attention back to Alice.

   "So, how's Marisa holding out?" Alice asked, if anything to change the subject.

   "Hungover as hell. I dumped out her drink before I came here so she doesn't do anything stupid. I've never seen her so bad, honestly."

   "Hmm...she's not usually the type to get hung over. Then again, booze with the name of 'Tengu Buster' can't possibly be low alcohol content. Speaking of drinks, how long has that shark been running a drink business? I've never heard of it, and I figured it would be pretty well-known..."

   "Yeah, I can practically recite every bar in Gensokyo." The two shared a laugh. "Although, I have no idea. She makes it sound like she's been doing this for a while. Although, location is everything. She loves to be near water, and I guess she staked a claim at the river that runs through the hills."

   "Speaking of which, how did that happen? There never used to be a river that ran that way, directly into what is now an ocean."

   Reimu thought for a bit. "You know, I don't know. I never asked. I guess it just didn't occur to me. I still don't know how the ocean got there, either. My guess is Yukari. I actually fought her out over the sea, before I went into the Ingress. She went on about some sort of border malfunction, and I thought that meant either that rift I found or she was trying to fix the border around where the ocean appeared."

   "But wouldn't that somehow affect the Great Hakurei Barrier? I never thought it could stretch to accomodate even a chunk of ocean, let alone any new land at all."

   "Well, that's...huh. That might actually be a problem. I haven't sensed any shifts in the barrier at all, which is mainly why that ocean was a surprise to me, since I didn't feel any sort of movement in it. That might rule out Yukari, then. If she meddled with it, I don't doubt I would have been able to sense it, especially something of that scale. I'll investigate it...but probably tomorrow."

   "So probably in three days or so, since you won't feel like it after the party..." Alice muttered under her breath.

   "What was that?"

   "Er, nothing. Investigating that would probably...huh?" She looked around Reimu. "Marisa? What happened to you?"

   "Hey Alice, Reimu." She handed a brown object to Alice, which is when Reimu noticed that she was slightly burnt. "Reimu, remember when you told me not to do anything stupid?"

   "Uh...no...did you?"

   "Well, in my hungover state, I decided to see if I could read some of Alice's Grimoire to get rid of it." She turned back to Alice, looking directly at the book. "Damn thing electrocuted me when I tried to pry open the lock."

   Alice snatched the book from Marisa's hand. "Well, duh, Marisa! I keep it well-protected for a reason! Why would you even try to open my Grimoire?"

   "I just said to try and calm down this raging hangover. And can you please not talk so loud?"

   "Sorry. You should know that by now, though."

   The trio began walking back to their table, Alice supporting Marisa, who was constantly groaning and complaining. "Ugh, shut up! Reimu, I'm going to see if Eirin is here. Maybe she brought some of that anti-hangover medicine I'm pretty sure she has."

   Reimu nodded as the two walked off. Now she was back to her original conundrum; where should she sit, since she was now alone. Before she could contemplate it, she heard a massive explosion behind her, in the direction of the shrine. She whipped around, seeing the plume of smoke from behind it. As it erupted, she wheeled around again to hear a crack of thunder, and noticed a wall of storm clouds gathering. Cursing under her breath, she ran to catch up to Alice, seeing Tearfang wander down the stairs away from the party. She put it out of her mind. "Alice, once you deal with Marisa, go and let everyone know a storm's coming. Those who want to stay should head inside. Otherwise, head home before it starts raining. It doesn't look like a small storm."

   "Sure thing, Reimu. Eirin's right over here with Kaguya and Reisen, so I'll get on it soon."

   The shrine maiden nodded and turned back to the shrine to see three shapes speeding off behind the shrine. She recognized the black ghostly tail and spiky hair of the one, and figured out the other two from there. "Jozero!" she spat, before flying around to the backside of the shrine.


   "Destiny 'Miserable Fate'!"

   Jozero flew fluidly and calmly through the barrage of scarlet chains as they wrapped all around her, trying to fly through her. As the last chain vanished, Jozero smirked at the young vampire. "I have long since learned to deal with my own miserable fate. That card was worthless against me."

   Remilia folded her arms, waiting patiently for Jozero to retaliate, matching her smirk. "Well? I'm waiting...unless you're giving up already, that is, ufufu~."

   "I don't intend on accepting defeat this time. Although, had I used Dark Matter how I did before, I would have already won. But that's not fun. This is much more fun..." She drew one of her own cards. "Heaven sign 'Perfect Halo'!" The card in her hands turned into a small gold ring before breaking into three beams of light and vanishing. They reappeared around Remilia, reforming a large halo around her. She tried to move upwards, but the ring only followed her. From the three points where the beams connected, gold bullets began firing at her. Remilia wasn't used to having to make such miniscule movements to dodge, but it wasn't that difficult. As time went on, the beams changed color through the spectrum, as did the bullets flying at her. This was also marked by an increase in their density and speed. Soon the vampire found maneuvering around these bullets to be annoying, as the halo finally turned red and stopped changing colors. Then, the halo shattered, creating small shards of danmaku that scattered around.

   Before she could react, another halo appeared around her. She knew she would have to break the card, so she created some bat-like familiars to fire continuously at her adversary before dodging a thicker onslaught of bullets in the halo. Jozero tried to shoot down the familiars, but too many of their attacks got through, and she couldn't focus on defense and maintaining the card. It didn't take long for the halo to prematurely shut down as the card broke. "So, it looks like your attacks aren't much of a match for me, either~. Holy magic doesn't affect me, like crosses. Like this!" she taunted, throwing a series of red crosses that sped past Jozero and looped around to try and get her in the back.

   Having had enough, Jozero raised her arms forward, throwing a stream of Dark Matter at the vampire. She cut off the stream, and manipulated it to constantly be trying to ram into her, while she shot small red rings of danmaku. Remilia countered by creating smaller versions of her Gungnir and throwing them, as well as emitting small red bullets to try and cloud the air. Both expertly dodged each others' shots, thinking of a plan. Without warning, Remilia charged in, creating crystalline scarlet knives in her hand as she flew. Once she was point blank, she released her attack, but Jozero created a shield of Dark Matter to block the attack. As the first one hit, however, it struck the shield's eye, dissipating it immediately, and leaving the angel completely exposed to the barrage. She rode the impact, flying backwards a ways, prompting Remilia to try and close in again. As she was halfway, the stream of Dark Matter rushed her from the side, directly impacting and sending her flying into the shrine wall. Jozero flinched as the crash sounded, and Remilia slowly began peeling herself off of the wall.

   Jozero ignored her for the moment, keeping her ears out for any sign that they might have disturbed someone. The wall didn't look terribly damaged, if at all. It was somewhat hard to see in the darkness when there is no danmaku lighting the air, and the moon retreated behind clouds. "Midnight King 'Dracula Cradle'!" She turned back to see the vampire charging at her, bathed in scarlet energy. Instead of fleeing, however, she decided on a different course of action. She drew a spell of her own, nodding to herself when she confirmed it was the right one. "Shattered Wings 'Crimson Flight'!" she declared, not even bothering to charge her wings with the flashy laser wall; that was completely aesthetic and for danmaku purposes. She needed impact damage, so with her wings a glaring bright red, she too rocketed toward her enemy. Remilia's wide grin slowly shrank as the two neared each other, until they collided, the force of their impact instantly breaking both spells and creating a large amount of smoke.

   As the smoke cleared, Remilia slowly drifted lower, except in the form of a bat. She switched at the last second to nullify whatever damage the angel could have done, and it worked spectacularly, as far as she could tell. The smoke cleared enough so she could see a wispy, white, ghostly figure in front of her. The wings, halo, and lone eye were the same, but her entire body had become like human-shaped mist, shaped to have a body, head, arms, and a ghostly tail. Remilia shifted back into her normal vampire form, and Jozero condensed into her angelic form. The two glared at each other, but soon enough Remilia's mouth began twitching, and Jozero's followed suit. Immediately after, both were laughing. "How did you know I was going to change into a bat to avoid whatever damage you'd do?"

   "I didn't. I planned all along to try this, and simply shift into my intangible form directly before impact. I expected you to take the full force, not change yourself as well."

   "Looks like we both underestimated each other," admitted the vampire, extending a hand. Jozero looked at it and back to her face before smiling and accepting the handshake. "I guess we'll call this a draw?"

   "I suppose we ca-"

   "MY LADY!" shouted four voices simultaneously. The two turned to the side of the shrine to see Remilia's maid and three shorter girls all sprinting around.

   "Sakuya?"

   "You three?"

   The group ran to their respective masters, inquiring them about the fight and what the explosion was.

   "Mistress, are you hurt? Do you require my aid or perhaps tea? You shouldn't push yourself to fight, in case her holy magic actually works on you..."

   "Sakuya, relax. I told you I could handle it myself. And no, holy magic doesn't affect me, like I said."

   "Lady Jozero! We rushed over as soon as we saw the explosion! Do you need help? We can give you the advantage of numbers."

   "I appreciate the concern, but it was unnecessary. The fight's over now. And...um, Illusion? Why are you much shorter now? I thought you liked your tall form."

   The young-looking Orange impostor gazed down at her form before looking back up. "It was to befriend the group led by the ice fairy, since she said 'no adults allowed', and I looked oldest. Besides, I kinda like being a similar size to my sis-, er, these two."

   Jozero was about to dismiss them when she caught herself. "Did you almost just say...your sisters?" Illusion looked slightly ashamed before slowly nodding yes. "Illusion...you can think of them as your sisters. Of course, we'll need to find a more suitable body than the mushroom youkai for Possession, but that's not hard. Now, go back to enjoying yourselves."

   The three smiled and ran off, Transmutation turning as if to say something. She stopped, and simply waved back before rejoining the other two Dark Matters. "What are you, their mother or something?" quipped Remilia, looking interested in how Jozero would respond.

   Without turning to face her, Jozero replied "Yes...in a way, I am. I created them, and they listen to me...they were originally going to be servants...but the more I see them gain independence..." She wiped a red tear from her eye. "It's just so sad to know that, with just a thought, I can make it as if they never existed...they're not even remotely alive, yet they have sentience..."

   Remilia stalked around to Jozero's right side to witness another red streak fall down her face. "Is...is that blood?"

   "Hmm? Yes, I've been afflicted my entire life and afterlife with tears of blood. It's a curse, but I've grown to live with it." She turned to see a hungry look in the young demon lord's eye. "I assure you, my tears are not for eating."

   "I'll be the judge of that," she retorted, floating up and wiping the tear from the angel's face, and delicately licking the blood off of her finger. Her eyes widened. "I don't know if it's because it's angel blood or some other thing, but your tears are delicious." She turned back to face Jozero, her arms trembling. "I'll completely forgive our whole ordeal from my manor with you meeting with Flandre and everything if you just let me have more..."

   "You sound more desperate than bargaining right now, and I thought that was already water under the bridge...but very well. I suppose I could do so. But only a few times. Others at the palace wouldn't be happy if I moved out to sate a vampire's needs."

   "Deal. Come by in, say, three days' time. During the day."

   "I will be there."

   "What the hell is going on back here?!"

   The two turned to see a very angry shrine maiden stomping towards them, gohei in hand. "I turn my back for one goddamned second and youkai invade my backyard and start tearing it up! Just look at this mess!" She gestured to the surrounding field, even parts of the shrine, that were charred or otherwise somehow damaged by their fight, most likely on their final impact. The two exchanged glances before Reimu continued her tirade. "I spent all this time cleaning up everything, for this?! It's one thing when the younger youkai mess around back here, but you two should know better! I can sort of expect this from Remilia, but you, Jozero? What the hell?"

   "Uh...well, you see, I-"

   "Reimu, don't worry. I was simply getting a bit of vengeance for when she attacked my mansion," Remilia explained. "Right before you showed up, we agreed on terms that would end our little feud. Sakuya and her three little...whatevers showed up afterwards. Don't worry, I'll have Sakuya clean this up for you," she finished coyly, prompting a sigh from her maid.

   However, Reimu was still fuming, her eye twitching ever so slightly. "Um, Remilia? Why does she look so angry, and why do I sense fear?"

   The vampire turned and gave a halfhearted smile. "Well...I just hope you have a high pain tolerance. Let's leave it at that." She turned back to see her fate stomping towards them, her arm holding her gohei trembling. "So I guess that's a 'no' on having Sakuya clean this up, then?"

   Reimu held up a spellcard so both angel and devil could see it. "Divine Arts 'Omnidirectional Demon Binding Circle'!"

   "I guess not then."

   "Be merciful," muttered Jozero.

   Before the horrified gazes of Jozero's elite Dark Matter and the unflinching gaze of Sakuya Izayoi, the air lit up red once more, a much more blinding crimson than even when Jozero and Remilia were duelling. As the danmaku spread, fully engulfing them, the four outside had to retreat to the front of the shrine or else be caught in the attack as well. They hated leaving their respective mistresses alone to face Reimu, but there was nothing that could be done at this point. Once they reached the front of the shrine again, they noticed two crowds: one leaving, and one entering the shrine itself. The group decided they should be inside waiting for the two, and discovered why after hearing another crack of thunder and feeling tiny raindrops.

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2014, 07:23:43 am »
   After a few minutes, the back door to the shrine opened. In walked Reimu, who looked annoyed and triumphant, and the two who were punished. Curiously, they didn't even look scratched. Both had deadpan expressions, but that seemed about it.

   The guests had severely thinned out; all that remained were Reimu, Marisa, Alice, Remilia and Sakuya, Jozero and her Dark Matter, Izumi, Yuyuko and Youmu, Kaguya and Eirin, Suika, Tenshi, Satori and Koishi, and Aya. Marisa and Alice were chatting, the former looking much better than before. Before long, Reimu heard the door close again, and Kuhai walked in, her skin and jacket glistening with rainwater. After shaking a bit off, she noticed Reimu and began to make her way over. "So, uh...I guess the party's over," she said, the storm making its appearance noted. "When are you gonna have the oni take my stand back to the river?"

   "Now's not exactly the time for that. The night is still young. C'mon, you hardly got any actual partying in so far. Although, I think we're just chatting right now." As they approached the living room, they could hear the tail end of a story from Kaguya.

   "...And just as she thought she was going to win, I trapped her with my cowrie shell. With nowhere to run, I drew the knife I had concealed, and easily secured victory by killing the damned bird."

   "Yeah, yeah, Kaguya. Got any stories about you fighting anyone other than Mokou?" Marisa quipped, leaning back on her chair. She definitely was back to her old self.

   "W-well, yes..." She hid her mouth as she looked away, embarrassed. "...but I've already told you all those stories..."

   "It's alright, Your Highness," assured Eirin. "Maybe the next battle will be noteworthy, or something different will happen."

   "Highness?" Jozero turned to the pair. "You're a queen?"

   "No, no. Just a princess," Eirin corrected.

   "Yes. Kaguya Houraisan, princess of the Lunar Capitol, in the flesh."

   "Impressive. Although, space is much more than this world, let alone its moon..."

   "What are you implying?"

   "Hmm? Nothing. Just that the moon is such a small territory."

   "Well, no, just the Capitol. The rest of the moon is uncolonized."

   "Have you never thought of expansion?"

   "Well, of course not. We of the Moon see no need to-"

   "Actually," Kaguya cut off her aide. "Yes, we did once think about expanding our borders. However, we decided against it for the sake of secrecy. Slowly the thoughts of expansion died out, though."

   "Seeing as how this Lunar Capitol values secrecy, I suppose they wouldn't allow tourism, then? I would like to see it for myself someday."

   "Sadly, no. They will try everything to keep people out. We're...well, they are very reclusive," she corrected.

   "A shame."

   "So, Jozero," Reimu intruded, "I see you've already met some people."

   "Only these two thus far. I haven't been able to introduce myself to the others yet."

   "Well, I might as well do that. Jozero, this is Marisa," she said, motioning to the witch, holding a dish of sake, which Reimu and Alice were relieved about.

   She motioned it in her direction. "Consider yourself lucky. I was just heading to your place myself, and I don't go easy on people like Reimu does."

   "If that means you go all out, then wouldn't that make Reimu the stronger one of you two?" replied Jozero, a slight smirk making its way onto her face.

   "Uh...er, no...I just deal out more punishment. I could beat Reimu with one hand tied behind my-"

   "Care to wager on that?" interrupted Reimu with a challenging grin.

   "Ehhh...whatever." She went back to her drink, dropping the conversation there.

   "Anyway, there is Alice," the blonde puppeteer nodded and smiled, Jozero returning the gesture. "That is Suika," The oni raised her gourd at the mention of her name. "You already know Sakuya and Young Miss Charisma Trumpet."

   "Scarlet, thank you."

   "Sure, Remi."

   "Hey! Don't use a pet name like that as an introduction!"

   Reimu turned to face the vampire. "And why not, Rem-rem?"

   "Because I- UGGGH!" Her face was starting to turn red. "You'll pay for this indignity, Hakurei!" She sat back down, muttering about public relations regarding properness of names and different methods of running someone through with a spear.

   "Moving on," Reimu said, chuckling. "These are-"

   "Yuyuko and Youmu. I know. They were the first to be hit when the incident started."

   "Oh~? Ah yes, it is you! I could hardly recognize you without your mask."

   "You gave us quite a scare when you suddenly attacked us, you know? Yuyuko thought I might become full ghost."

   "Oh, shush, Youmu. I never said such a thing."

   The half-ghost turned to her mistress. "W-what?! But you told me that you said-"

   "Nevermind what I said before. I had utmost confidence you'd return to your normal self~." Youmu tried to retaliate, until she remembered it was useless. She just sighed and took another sip of her drink.

   As she set her drink down, she got the angel's attention again. "If you don't mind me asking, why do you wear that mask?"

   Jozero paused, and Reimu thought she was about to shed tears, which could stain her floors. Luckily, no blood flowed. "People fear me for what I am. If I wear a smile, then will people appreciate me? And not fear me?" Another pause. "At least, that used to be my philosophy. I see the folly of it now, I should not try to mask who I am. Does that satisfy your question?"

   Youmu nodded in response. A few brows of the guests were furrowed as they contemplated her words, especially the vampire and her maid.

   "So anyway," Reimu continued, interrupting everyone's train of thought. "You've already met Eirin and Kaguya...I'm kinda surprised Sanae and her gods aren't here...so next is Tenshi, the one with peaches on her hat." The Celestial waved behind her. "Huh...you know, you both come from Heaven, yet Tenshi is no angel, yet you're no Celestial..."

   "Multiple types of Heaven, Reimu," Tenshi called over her shoulder. "She's from a different part where everyone's specifically an angel. Essentially the same, but with several differences. It's like a dialect, except a lot more noticeable."

   "Right...up next is Aya-"

   "Pure and Honest Shameimaru, Tengu reporter for the Bunbunmaru~! Now, miss...Jozero, was it? I do have a few questions regarding your little incident you caused..." She whipped out a pen and notepad, and began writing. "Is it true that this strange substance you control is actually a leaderless alien life-form that looks to you for guidance, but you only use them for your own personal gain, even sending them to their deaths for your own glory?"

   Jozero's head was spinning from how fast she spat out that question. "Uh...um...could you repeat that?"

   "Playing coy, eh? This report's going to be gold~!" she said, frantically writing notes.

   "Aya, please conduct this interview after the party. And I won't be asking again."

   "Alright, just one more question. Is that halo actually holy energy, or is it precious metals you stole, smelted together, and then implemented alien technology to have it float?"

   "I beg your pardon?!"

   "Aya!"

   "Okay, okay..." The tengu shrank back to her seat, still writing notes.

   Reimu leaned in to the angel. "Just watch yourself around her...and make sure your windows and doors are closed and locked while you're changing." Jozero glanced at the camera sitting on the table beside the reporter, and looked up at Reimu with a disbelieving expression. Reimu just nodded. "So anyway, these two are Satori and Koishi, from the Palace of the Earth Spirits in Old Hell."

   "Hmm...good to finally meet you. Your little...pets...caused quite a ruckus for me. I was really close to coming up to the surface to deal with you myself." said the pink one, looking very dignified, while still looking like she was straining to do something. Jozero looked down and met the gaze of the little button with cords on it, realizing it was an eye. Satori checked to see what the angel was looking at, then looked back up. "Yes, this is a third eye. As my name suggests, I am a satori. My third eye reads your heart. My sister, Koishi, sealed hers away, so she can no longer read minds. But now, she can manipulate the subconscious."

   "Your sister sealed hers? Forgive me, but that sounds ungrateful. She already had two, a third would be a blessing, yet she only threw it away. And yet my other eye was taken from me, so I am left with only one. Once again, pardon my jealousy, but that seems like a very selfish thing from my perspective." As she spoke, Reimu wondered how Satori wasn't finishing her sentences for her.

   "Mmm...when you say it like that, it would seem that way..." With that, she beckoned Reimu over, leaning closer to her. "Something's wrong, Reimu...I can't read her mind. It's like a steel trap wrapped in darkness. I could pry away at it, but I fear to do so and have her figure it out...I've never seen someone able to block my ability before."

   "Well, her powers involve mind control," the shrine maiden began, "so it would make sense that-"

   "-she'd be immune to it? I suppose it would make sense...but I can definitely see something else there, that isn't just her..."

   Reimu simply shrugged and went back to Jozero. Well, that's everybody. Everyone, these are Jozero Kubomitenshi," she gestured to the angel, who sheepishly waved, "Izumi Wondjina," The storm spirit nodded, giving a pleasant smile that made the weather outside seem not as noticeable. "And these three are Transmutation, Illusion, and Possession, but Possession is currently using the body of a mushroom youkai for some reason."

   "Convenience," Jozero answered.

   "Right...so with that, let the sake flow!" At this, cheers went up from those attending, the largest from the oni. Multiple separate conversations rose up, and the room quickly lost all sentiments of quiet.

   "Whoa whoa, what about me?" called another voice from the doorway, drying her hair. "Oh, Reimu, I hope you don't mind, but I used one of your towels to dry my jacket and, obviously, my hair."

   "Just as long as it doesn't have that fishy stench later." She turned back to the assembled crowd. "This is Kuhai Hoshokusha, the one you saw tending the bar outside. She's a former shark god."

   "Thank you. I brought in some drinks from my stand, too, so just ask me when you want one. They're on the house."

   "Hell yeah!" shouted the oni, raising her gourd.

   "Okay, slight fix then. Let the drinks flow!" she said, resulting in yet another round of cheers.

   "Oh, Reimu, before everyone gets drunk..." Jozero procured a white envelope from her sleeves, sealed with a large wax seal, with the shape of an eye stamped in it. "Here. An invitation."

   "Invitation?" She accepted the envelope and opened it. The seal easily gave way, and she pulled out the paper, unfolding it, flipping it to the front so she could read it. "'Dear Reimu Hakurei, I would like to take this opportunity to say I truly apologize for my atrocious behavior in causing this incident. As such, I cordially invite you to...' What's this crossed out section?" It looked like a name of something, the top of a capital C and A most visible.

   "Unimportant. I made a slight error. Just keep reading."

   "...Alright. 'I cordially invite you to,' crossed out section, 'return to the palace in four nights from this night, the night of the party. I would advise arriving at sunset. See you then, Jozero Kubomitenshi'." She folded the letter again, thinking of what she may have to do then. Nothing came to mind. "Yeah, sure. I'll come. A bit strange that it's the night of the new moon, but whatever."

   "It's the nearest night I have available. And wonderful," she added, smiling. "I shall see you then." With that, she strolled over to her Dark Matters, who were at the table listening to a better story being told by Suika. Reimu retreated to her room, placing the letter on the nightstand so she wouldn't forget.



   Footsteps, water droplets, and annoyed grumbles were the only sounds echoing through the deserted, torchlight halls. No other living things were in sight but one, who sprinted down the hall as if her life depended on it. She approached the end of it, sufficiently illuminated by the torches, where light from the windows would not reach. A lone handprint could be seen in its center, at eye level. The girl placed her hand on it, and shot one silver bullet of danmaku from it. Silver veins glowed on the ebony stone, looking like a mix of runes and circuits. After each individual vein glowed, they all gradually gained the silver shine again, before turning bright green, and going out. Slowly, the door unlatched, and with a great lurch, swung inward, revealing an even larger hall, a point of green light visible at the end.

   She tensed; the unnatural aura that permeated the door was gone, and now an unrestrained feeling of power was pulsing through the hall. It feels especially strong today, she noted mentally. Without another thought, she dashed forward, deeper into the castle. Her earlier fears were for nothing; no one had discovered this room before everything was ready. And now it finally was...

   The green light at the end of the hall came into focus, a bright green gem that hovered, twirling in place. Behind it was a large, intricate sculpture that melded into the wall. It depicted battles, often of small, fearful creatures against massive, merciless beasts. At its center was the crystal, and below it was an obsidian-colored throne. At first glance, it seemed empty, but as she neared, a silhouette slowly became visible apart from the throne under it. She stopped at the first step of seven before the throne, and kneeled deeply. "M-my apologies for my tardiness, Your Highness..."

   At first, there was nothing but cold silence. Then, the entire miasma of the room seemed to shift as two bright green, detailless spots appeared on the silhouette: the eyes. "Think nothing of it, Tearfang. I understand you wanting to enjoy yourself at a party. But now...something far greater, that has been in motion since we first arrived, is finally about to take place..."

   "Of course, Mistress. Our ultimate goal."

   Another silence. "My ultimate goal, you mean. I've been plotting this for far longer than you've had true sentience. Back when you mindlessly obeyed my every command."

   Tearfang flinched. "Y-yes, my apologies for speaking out of turn, M-Mistress..."

   The shadowy figure lifted one hand, causing Tearfang to recede even further. She opened her eyes to see that it was a reassuring gesture, not a violent one. "Honestly, Tearfang. Why do you treat me as if I am violent?"

   "W-well, this is a stressful time...and analysis shows that an increase in stress results in an increase in negative tendencies, such as violence...so I am making attempts to not increase stress levels..."

   "It may be a stressful time, indeed. But it will also be a glorious time. And this is the easy part...although, I am offering one chance...if they accept, it will be even easier."

   "A-Are you sure that's wise, Mistress? You saw how easily Jozero was defeated, and-"

   "Jozero was supposed to be defeated, and the palace returned to land so I don't have to split my efforts across too large of an area. If Jozero had succeeded anyway, then I would have been surprised."

   "Speaking of surprise, isn't that our main attack method? Now that the palace is back, how will we still have an advantage?"

   "Simple. As far as any of them know, Jozero owns this palace, and her incident was already resolved. I do not need much more time. I shall own this world...or I shall destroy it trying." Tearfang gulped nervously as darkness seemed to cling to the throne around the silhouette. "Failure is not an option. You know this."

   The sword girl bit her lip, trying to decide whether or not to speak. "W-well...what are your orders?"

   "Stay here at the palace. If anyone begins fighting their way up to here, alert me. Immediately. Do you understand?"

   Tearfang gave a distracted nod as she continued to contemplate. "My lady...?" The silhouette raised an eyebrow, a hardly visible motion in the dim light, only signified by her one eye opening slightly more. "Deepest apologies for questioning your decrees, but...what if...what if I...I mean, we...don't want...to attack Gensokyo?" she finally managed to say. As much as they might have managed to start on the wrong foot, Tearfang still liked Gensokyo for what it was.

   The silhouette's eyes narrowed significantly. "If I were a more cruel ruler, I would consider that notion treason." This caused the sword girl to cringe, but the shadow only laughed. "Similarly, if I were a more cruel ruler, I would threaten you more often. Yet seeing you fear me for no true reason...it's funny. Plus, if I threaten you more often, you would get used to it. I've explained this before...usually you don't forget things that easily."

   Tearfang began to calm down enough to consider a response. "Yes...I believe it to be stre-" She was startled as another peal of thunder sounded, cutting her off. The rain could be heard constantly tapping on the windows, constantly picking up. If the walls weren't thick, the sound would be deafening. "...Stress," she finished.

   "Tearfang, you need to relax. You should return to your quarters and rest tonight. No getting up for anything, unless I declare otherwise. But before that..." The silhouette slumped down in its throne slightly, as if exhausted. "All of my efforts have left me famished. Be a dear and get me a snack, would you?"

   The silver-haired girl stood to her feet abruptly, concern vanishing from her features as she stood at attention. "Of course. What sort?"

   The silhouette raised a hand to where its chin would be, pondering. "Something with the older leftover youkai. It needs to be used before it expires."

   "Mistress, I'm afraid we are out of usable meat. You ate a majority of it to keep your strength up for these times, remember? And slowly we ran out. Turns out a few fairy maids actually like it. After researching, I discovered they also do not know what it is. The only similar edible food left over is simply youkai jerky."

   The shadow made a sound of disgust before sinking further into her seat. "It'll do. Surprise me with a beverage, as long as it isn't alcoholic. Tomorrow, go hunt down and bring a youkai or two in so we can resupply, and make sure they're not the types to be seen frequently. I may be stuck here, but I am slowly regaining strength with every passing night. I'll have you do the execution honors."

   "Possible hunting targets have been previously confirmed, I shall choose two from the list created to keep track of them. I will return momentarily, my lady." She turned and marched into the immediate door on her left, making sure to close it behind her.

   As the door clicked shut, the figure upon the throne templed her slender, pointed fingers, tapping them together. "Mm, no still can't get up yet. It'll take a day or two for that," she mused. "Soon enough, Gensokyo will be in my grasp...I only hope that they can see reason without resorting to battle. I wonder why I am allowing the choice...last time I gave a choice, things didn't go too well...no, I must think of the future. The past serves to give lessons, the future is for application. If this place cannot see things my way, I have no problem with alternative methods of acquisition. After all..." She leaned as far back as she could in her chair, laughing quietly, as another lightning flash illuminated the room, followed by foreboding thunder. "...I am invincible."

   And she laughed, only pausing when Tearfang returned with a tray of youkai jerky and a glass of juice. And she continued to laugh, the darkness pulsating as she did.

   And she laughed.

   And laughed.

   
...but who could do without a little extra in their lives?

Stay tuned! (Even if it may take a while...)

Also, I had to break this chapter up since it apparently is too large for the word limit, clocking at over 22000 words! Definitely the most I've ever written for anything.

And I'm not done yet, either~!
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 01:03:34 am by an unmatched sock »

LaserTurtle

  • Master of the lurk
  • *sips tea*
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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2014, 01:45:23 pm »
So I've been lurking the forums again, but enough about me.

Caught up with this story and I'd have to say I enjoyed it a lot! Especially the party scene, that was entertaining. Props to you, Sock, for writing it!

ooh boy! Extra boss time!
Off The Rails [complete!] 1  2 - Sharks jumped: Somewhere between one and all of them
Talking to yourself isn't a sign of madness. Expecting a reply is.
Stare too long into the abyss and the abyss stares back, and then it gets awkward until one of you breaks eye contact.

Stifled Voices

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2014, 09:39:36 pm »
I'm wondering, is Jozero a foreigner to both Gensokyo and Japan?


P.S. Yes, MoTK, I'm sure I will reply to a thread abandoned for 14 days!

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2014, 02:04:40 am »
Yes, Jozero is foreign to Gensokyo. As for Japan...well, she's not from our world, but she is from Earth. She might be from an alternate Japan, but...who knows? She is definitely not from Gensokyo, though. More of her backstory will be explained eventually. College isn't letting me have much time to work on this, unfortunately. But, I refuse to abandon this!

Stifled Voices

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  • I try to speak, but I can't...
  • Nickname: The Monster Within
Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2014, 02:14:58 am »
I assumed she's a westerner (brownies schmrownies). Silly me.

P.s. What if she came from an alternate universe, and ended up in this one?

an unmatched sock

  • Um...what's this?
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  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Sock
Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2014, 03:41:44 am »
Jeez, I haven't had much time for this. But, like I said, I refuse to abandon the story.


Chapter 10
Unending Death


  "And just what do you have to say for yourself?"

  "Uh, I'm a victim of circumstance, ze?"

  "Wrong answer, Marisa. Come on, I'm taking you to the Lady."

  With that, the gate guard hoisted the witch, bound by magic handcuffs, over her shoulder. The two, followed by a purple librarian looking all but smug, proceeded down scarlet-colored carpeting to the veranda, where their mistress was enjoying the outside air. It was cloudy, so all the better.

  "Come on, Patchy~...I was gonna ask this time!"

  "You used that excuse the past four times you were caught. I've kept track. No more 'favors', no mercy. This is a matter Remilia needs to have a say in."

  "Patch, don't you think you're being a bit harsh on her? Obviously, you must have something she wants, if she keeps coming back..." she says, smirking slightly.

  The librarian turned away, not looking Meiling in the eyes. "Whatever she wants, it's most likely my books. And I refuse what you're insinuating. So there."

  "I dunno about that..."

  "Hey hey, don't I get a say in this?! I just wanted the books, ze!"

  "Silence, you two. We're nearly there," Patchouli interrupted. Within a few meters, Meiling used her free hand to open the veranda, and both of them gasped in surprise.

  "What? China, flip me around!"

  The guard shook herself out of her shock and glared at Marisa over her shoulder. "Say my name right, and maybe," she said, tightening her grip around the girl's waist.

  "Ack! Alright, Meiling! Meiling! There! Now let me see!"

  The guard bent Marisa over to her other shoulder, still cuffed, to see their mistress, her maid, the shrine maiden, and oddly enough an angel chatting over tea. "Huh? Reimu, what're you doing here?"

  "Hmm? Oh, hello Marisa. Jozero invited me to hear out her life's story, since I was curious about it back at the party, while she had her scheduled meeting with Remilia." She glanced at her two companions. "I'd ask what you're doing here too, if it weren't painfully obvious."

  "Remilia, we're sorry to bother you, but this is the fifth time we've actually caught Marisa. She requires disciplining...and her house needs to be raided to find my books," Patchouli stated flatly.

  The scarlet devil gazed sidelong at them, before shutting her eyes and nodding. "Sakuya," she said, snapping her fingers twice. With a slight bow, the maid vanished, and returned with a few extra chairs from the other tables. "Won't you three join us? Sakuya, we'll need more tea."

  Patchouli's jaw hung slack as Meiling strode forward, planting Marisa in one chair and seating herself in another. "But...but Remilia...didn't you just hear what I-"

  "I did, but I want you to have a seat. Oh, I should introduce you to our guest. This is Jozero Kubomitenshi, the one who attacked us the other day. She's now fulfilling her debt to me, and I decided to have her share her story with me after Reimu showed up."

  The angel smiled meekly and waved. "She is correct. I just finished telling them my life up to the moment I died. You showed up at...practically a perfect time, if you care to listen," the woman said, casually reaching for her tea.

  Her arms hanging limply, the librarian rolled her eyes at her friend's strange whimsy, and took the remaining seat while Sakuya poured more tea.

  "Aww, I missed out on your life before you died? I bet you were a real swinger, eh, ze?"

  The angel's smile dropped as she turned to the witch. "No."

  "Calm down, it was just a joke...jeez."

  "Brief synopsis," Reimu began, "she doesn't know her family, the only person who cared for her died when she was young, she was bullied, found out she was 'special' in some way with glowing marks around her eyes, and seen as a freak. Her boyfriend in...what'd you call it? High school? Anyway, he was murdered for just being near her. She couldn't find a job or any more education, wound up at the wrong place at the wrong time, got her eye cut out, and was shot to death."

  "Damn. Here's some advice; when they shoot, you move. 'S what I do, and it works every time."

  "Didn't work out so well during the Imperishable Night," Reimu retorted.

  "That's because you cheat. Somehow. And you had Yukari with you. The odds were stacked against me from the start."

  Remilia raised an eyebrow. "Is this the great youkai exterminator Marisa Kirisame making excuses in the presence of youkai for why she lost? Patchy, I think you grabbed the wrong girl."

  "H-Hey! Shut up! The night had gone on for like ten hours before they showed up! Humans get tired..."

  "More excuses?!" the vampire mistress said, feigning surprise. "Goodness, if this is Marisa, she must be gravely ill! Better get a blood sample, make sure she's alright~."

  "Okay, now you're just being creepy. So what happened after she failed to dodge?"

  The angel set her teacup down and took a deep breath. "I was just getting to that. Now, what happened next...there was darkness, then bright light...then things started to turn grey. I could feel myself opening my eyes...well, eye, but I didn't realize it quite yet...and feeling grass and the stalks of flowers all around me..."


  The woman sat straight upwards, slowly rising to her feet. All around her were beautiful flowers, all of them red, with green beneath them. Above her, a grey sky with few clouds rested dismally, the sun seemingly fixated in one point. In the distance in front of her were trees, endless fields of these flowers to either of her sides. Where...am I? She could find no landmarks she could remember...she could barely remember anything, actually. Who am I? Vague images drifted in and out of her mind, but nothing stayed as a concrete memory. She stood transfixed, a pillar of white above a sea of red, before she felt a hand tug at her shoulder.

  "Hey, who're yo- oh Enma..." she said, recoiling slightly out of surprise as the woman turned around. She cleared her throat, adjusting the wicked-looking scythe over her shoulder. "So, uh...who're you?"

  Before responding, she took in the entire visage before her. The girl was slightly shorter than she was, wearing a dark blue dress with a white undershirt. At her...belt? It was a peculiar sort of belt, under her chest instead of at her waist...and the chest seemed to be a focal point all its own. Clearing the thought from her head, she focused on the belt again. There was a gold coin with a hole in it, tied around the belt with a string. Her red hair had two ponytails tied with red beads, and pinkish-red eyes. "Your eyes...they are...different," she said, her voice feeling distant and not her own.

  "Erm...I could say the same about you, except...well, you might wanna look for yourself. C'mon, I'll take you to the river."

  "...River?" she muttered, following the strange girl with the scythe. "If I may ask...judging by that scythe...are you some sort of reaper?"

  "Mm, you could say that. Specifically, I am a shinigami. I ferry people across the Sanzu River. I'm not terribly surprised you don't recognize me for what I am...black cowls were so last millenium. I for one was happy when the dress code changed."

  "Shinigami? Sanzu River? I am unfamiliar with these."

  At this, she stopped, the woman stopping afterwards. She slowly turned, looking confused and a bit skeptical. "...how don't you know of them? Aren't you from Gensokyo?" The woman just shook her head, and the girl's eyes went wide. "Hoo boy...I know that sometimes they get a bit mixed up, but it's been years since an outsider's managed to get under Lady Shiki's jurisdiction...anyway, shall we keep going?"

  Within minutes, the two stopped at a river, the opposite bank not even in view. The girl waved her scythe over the surface of the water, which stood still and flat, even while the rest of the water was moved by the very slight breeze. The woman walked to the river and gazed in, and froze. She could almost remember what she looked like right before...something happened...but it wasn't like this. Below her was a tall, elegant woman, with long white hair that ended in red. A white robe parted slightly, showing the smallest bit of cleavage, which she knew did not exist prior. But the most shocking was the white bandage over her left eye, as if it were injured. Experimentally, she poked at it, and felt no resistance, even though she knew her eyelids were open on that eye. It was gone.

  The memory flooded back, of her last stand...the gunshots...the knife. Oh god, the knife. The feeling of her eye being wrenched out, her vision darkening...she felt overwhelmed, and she dropped to her knees on the riverbank. "I...I'm dead...aren't I?"

  "'Fraid so. At least you didn't have to wait until you heard it from the Yama. It's always better when they realize they're dead by themselves..."

  "But...why do I only have one eye? I'd think in the afterlife I would have two...why only one?"

  "I...wish I could tell you. Sorry," she replied, compassion in her eyes.

  The woman took a deep breath, and stood again. "Well, you are the guidance of souls...so lead me to wherever you may."

  "Eh, yeah...thing is, even in death, not everything is free. Passage across the Sanzu requires a little...toll, if you will. You do have money on you, right?" she said.

  The woman thought, before looking at the robe she was wearing. It was plain white, parted slightly in the middle, and felt a bit short on her, only going to right below her knees. She noticed two pockets on either side, and fished in them for whatever might be inside. She heard the unmistakable rattle of coins, before drawing them from her pocket. She opened her hand to see two worn, rusted coins. On each was a face she recognized, but she couldn't place who they were. Silently, she handed them to the shinigami, who eyed them cautiously. "I do not know why they are like that."

  "I...honestly don't either...rusted coins are rare. Well, toll payment is toll payment. Just a little down the bank is the ferry. C'mon, I'll take you over. And let me be the first to say, welcome to Higan."

  The two proceeded down to the bank, to a short dock with a wooden boat on it. It looked like maybe four adults and the shinigami could fit on the boat, and that probably exceeded the weight limit...if that even existed here. The two boarded, and the girl used her scythe to shove off of the platform, then used it to paddle out a short ways before letting the current take them. "By the way, my name is Komachi Onozuka, shinigami of Shikieiki Yamaxanadu of Higan, in charge of judging the dead of Gensokyo. Do you happen to remember your name?"

  The woman, currently sitting at the bow facing backwards, shook her head.

  "Oh, well, that's a shame...but don't worry, not everyone remembers the name they were given. So, don't feel too bad about i-"

  "I was never given a name."

  "...What do you mean? Everyone has a name."

  "Yes. But I had to find mine. I was called Zero, for I was nothing. In the eyes of my peers, my elders, and all others, I was called nothing. So, I took the name Zero." Komachi had no response for this, despite trying to search for one. "Yet, being dead...I suppose I am less than nothing anymore. I do not know how I should feel about that."

  "Right...so, the coins you gave me...these must have been special people. One's an old woman, the other's a young man..."

  "Yes. Both of them were already dead. I recall the old woman...she was my caretaker at the orphanage I lived at. I never knew my parents. She died when I was young. To this day I don't know how. The other...we were in a relationship during schooling. He was the only one who didn't avoid or ignore me, despite how my physical form stopped aging. It lasted for weeks, I believe, before he was found, dead. Murdered. I dislike thinking about it."

  "Wow. That kinda explains the rust...deceased loved ones usually are rusted. But, cheer up, I have a good feeling about where you'll end up," she said, the same comforting lie she always told her passengers. In truth she really didn't know.

  "I appreciate it, but this is merely business for you. Once I'm on the other side, I'll just be another soul you will most likely never see again. The only reason you're truly talking to me right now is because you are bored. You'd probably rather be sleeping on the riverbank than be here right now."

  "Heh, well, I can't exactly deny it...can't confirm it, either, since I don't want to be lectured about laziness...again..."

  Seeing no reaction, Komachi dipped her scythe into the river again, changing the distance of the river to be in sight. "Ah, look, we approach shore. Make sure all robes, souls, smuggled food, and loose ends are secured to your person or tied up before disembarking~."

  Silently, Zero climbed out of the boat onto shore. "I see a path outlined by those red flowers, and what looks like a lamppost ahead. Should I follow it?" Komachi nodded, and pushed the boat off of the bank, waving goodbye. Choosing to ignore her, Zero approached the lamppost, and out of the fog behind it a door appeared. She opened it into a well-lit, official-looking room, where what looked like a young girl with green hair and an unusual hat sat at a desk, a set of scales on the right, and a book before her. "I presume you are the one known as Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, as the ferrywoman told me?"

  The Yama nodded, her hands folded on the book. "You are correct. This is where you shall be judged, and your afterlife will be chosen. Please, step to the center of the room," she said, as she rose from her chair, grabbing a stick with characters unknown to Zero inscribed upon it. She heeded the Yama's instruction, who stood now in front of the desk, holding the stick before her, the top point obscuring her mouth. The Yama closed her eyes, and a black and white orb appeared from Zero's chest, which split into two objects; a small, white feather, and a larger, black stone. "These are your deeds in life. Evil deeds shall weigh the rock, good shall weigh the feather. Your judgment depends on which object outweighs the other." Zero nodded, her face remaining stoic.

  The scales slowly rose from the table, coming to rest in between the two. The Yama's eyes closed before grabbing the feather and placing it upon one scale. She then grabbed the smooth stone and placed it upon the other scale. At first, nothing happened, until the Yama raised the rod over her, bowing her head. Slowly, the scales shifted, but nothing was tipped in the balance. Slowly, the scales shifted toward the feather, and Zero looked on in hope. They rocked back and forth, until a soft click was heard. The feather was lower than the stone on the scales.

  The Yama opened her eyes, ready to congratulate her, but as she did, she gasped and visibly tensed.  The feather was half black, and part of the stone was bleached white. The colors were balanced on each side, but the feather was without a doubt heavier. As they both swirled with color, a small red spot appeared on each that grew outward, eventually encompassing the entirety of both objects, leaving them blood-red. "What...what is this..." was all she could find to say.

  "What? What's the matter?" Zero inquired, worried.

  "I...I've never...seen this happen before...w-well, my word was for the feather to outweigh the stone, which it did...by that rule, your judgment is signified that you are sentenced for heaven...but something's not right..."

  "...Did you say...Heaven?"

  "I did, yes. Hold on..." She went back to her chair, and opened the book, propping it up so only she could see inside of it. She could see pages flipping back and forth, but the Yama simply set it down and sighed. "Well, a judgment is final, so...be off to Heaven, then." As she spoke this, the entire room faded into a clear sky, no trace of the room remaining.

  Zero looked about, marvelling at the clouds below her feet, the palace before her, and angels playing about on shining wings. A quick check confirmed that she, too, had wings. She smiled and tested them, floating off of the clouds beneath her, admiring each glossy white feather. She soared over to what looked like a clothing shop, and picked out a slim robe with short sleeves that reached down below her feet. It even came with detachable long sleeves for chillier weather. Although the mirror revealed to her that, even in heaven, she still had only one eye, she didn't care anymore. Her afterlife was to be carefree, no one to tell her that she is worth nothing, a zero.

  She left the store and flew to a plaza filled with all sorts of different angels. Here she was sure to find a friend. She landed, and proceeded toward a small group that had white hair, much like hers.

  As she approached, she couldn't help but begin to feel...heavy. She didn't understand it, but it didn't stop her. That is, until she felt like something was holding onto her legs. When she tried to move, but couldn't, others began noticing. A few came up to her and tried to help, but suddenly the sky grew darker. The angels scattered in a panic, leaving her crying out for help from anyone. Another white-haired angel ran up to her and tried to help pull her out of the cloud she was slowly sinking in. Once it reached her waist, she could feel tears welling up in her eyes, and a streak of warmth running down her face. The angel trying to help her froze, her eyes wide. Her grip slackened, even as Zero tried to get her to snap out of her sudden trance.

  With little resistance anymore, she slipped through the clouds into the inky blackness below, the hole she fell through rapidly closing. She felt a sharp, stabbing pain in her back as she heard a loud crash, seeing pieces of her wings float above her as she fell. Through the pain, she brought one wing forward. It looked more geometric, made of floating, featherless shards. Three hexagons, six blood-red ovals, and a strange, curved gem-like shape as their base on each side. Her halo still floated above her head, but it didn't feel like it meant anything to her anymore. It didn't feel like anything of hers mattered anymore. Her chance at ultimate happiness was, once again, dashed, by forces that willed her misfortune.

  She had been cast out of heaven.

  Blood-red tears still falling, she resigned herself to whatever fate decided next. She reawoke to the pale face and terror-stricken eyes of the Yama, witnessing the blood-eyed angel materialize out of thin air. She seemed to be at a loss for words. "...I was...revoked?" was all she could muster.

  "...I'm afraid so, Yama...I do not blame you for this...it would be foolish to do so...I wish it weren't like this. But I have been sent back." She turned to the door. "I will be leaving. I do not expect to see you again."

  "But...judgments are final...why was it overturned..."

  She didn't answer as she stalked out of the door, slowly making her way back to the riverbank, her eye still weeping. She stopped on the bank and waited. Soon enough, a boat came into the horizon, carrying the shinigami and what looked like two souls. Komachi's calm face was rapidly replaced by worry as they neared the bank, seeing the woman she just ferried across returned, with a halo and strange wings. The souls disembarked, and the angel climbed aboard the vessel. Wordlessly, Komachi pushed off, the other side of the river already in sight.

  "...The hell happened? I just ferried you across..."

  "Heaven decided it didn't want me. I was rejected by the one place said to accept anyone," she replied, continuously staring off of the bow, towards the opposite shore. "I am truly nothing, if the afterlife won't even keep me. Nothing reborn into nothing. Zero is dead and gone. My new name shall be in the language you speak, and I somehow know. Japanese. From now on...I shall be called Jozero Kubomitenshi. For nothing compounded with nothing is still nothing."

  "Jozero...but what will you do once we get back? I can't just send you back to the world of the living..."

  "You won't need to. I can handle that."

  Within minutes, the two returned to the original riverbank, where another soul stood waiting, grasping several shining coins. Without a word, Jozero approached the soul, apparently of a man, and took the coins from his hand. She squeezed them, and dropped them at his feet, pitch black, somehow altered. The soul quickly tried to retrieve the coins while Jozero strolled back to where she first arrived, in the field of red. Her memories of life flooded back to her, every gruesome detail, as she returned. Her mind fixated on that restaurant where she breathed her last. Channeling the power she could feel flowing through her, she slowly faded into a white spirit, which drifted into the ground.


  The bartender was busy mopping the ground where the leader of that gang was knocked senseless into the table, spilling everything. He'd have to close tomorrow to make sure he could get rid of that cadaver. He hated when that group stalked their prey into his bar. It was always such a messy cleanup. They could never do it clean and simple. "Well, at least they pay me handsomely to keep quiet, heh heh."

  As he pushed shards of broken glass into a small pile, he suddenly had to raise an arm to shield his eyes as a bright light illuminated the room. The glow died down, and he lowered his arm to see a white, wispy apparition with a halo and strange wings floating there. It appeared humanoid in shape, with a head, body, and arms, but it instead had a white, ghostly tail for legs. Its single eye focused on him, narrowing slightly. He let out a scream, and tried to run, but the figure flew over to him before he could escape.


  "Did we really have to off her?"

  "Yeah, you know how it is. You really had that much of a thing for her?"

  "Well, yeah...she was adorable..."

  "So are plenty of animals that would kill you without batting an eye."

  "Whatever. I'm not going to keep a dead body. I'm surprised sis didn't try to get any of her bullets out of her, though."

  "Tch. You saw how much blood she had. Those shots are ruined."

  "Still, don't you think it rude that some people just left before cleanup? The poor barkeep..."

  "We pay him to do this. The back room is only ours to hide out at while he does it."

  "I still say you guys should have let me keep her..."

  "Girl, your hormones are crazy. I know you're young, but sooner or later someone will find you and they won't be someone we're aiming fo-"

  "Shh, shh! ...Listen..."

  ...

  "I don't hear anything..."

  "Exactly."

  Any conversation was cut off as a scream cut through the air, even through the door, which was quickly silenced and replaced with a strange wheezing noise. The four girls ran back into the main bar room to see a spectral figure holding the bartender by the neck, looking like it was wrenching something out of his chest. With a sickening crunch, his eyes rolled back into his head, and the figure retracted its hand before turning slowly to face the four.

  "Wh-what is that thing?!"

  "Geoffrey?! Holy shit, he's dead!"

  It turned, full attention on the four, as its body condensed into a more human shape, seeming to hold physical parameters now instead of being vague and smoky. "You...where is the fifth...your leader?"

  "A-At home..." came the reply, of the young blonde.

  "I remember...the knife...with the crystal on it..." the figure said, its eye narrowing menacingly.

  "No way...that can't be that girl..." said the tall brunette, glancing at the body in the corner, exactly how she was when she died.

  Without warning, the spectre flew forward, knocking three of them aside, and reached for the tall one. Grasping her by the neck, she reached her other hand through her chest. She was feeling around for...something. At last, she had found it: the woman's own soul, with it she could patch a new form for her and release the rest. After a lengthy and painful extraction, she dropped the lifeless woman to the ground.

  The crack of gunfire and the feeling of dull thuds on her still-forming body drew her attention to the girl with the black ponytail. She silently drifted over, looking like she was dressed in a strange robe, before batting both firearms out of her hands. Her soul was taken from range, an even more painful experience. It was because of her that she had lost her strength to continue fighting for her survival, so she deserved to suffer. She watched as the other woman escaped, leaving the blonde cowering on the ground, tears streaming from her eyes. Silently, she floated over to her, using the black-haired girl to give her clothing detail. However, she instead lifted the girl in her arms.

  The blonde slowly turned, snivelling, too frightened to try and fight back. "Do not fret, little one...you were my only advocate. You do not deserve suffering as the others do."

  "A-are you g-going to...to..."

  "Trust in me...it will not be painful." With that, she drew her ghostly fingers over the girl's eyes, closing them for the last time. Her body immediately stopped shivering and relaxed before going limp in her arms. She used this one to create flesh, so she almost looked alive. Now she needed one last thing to fully anchor herself here...and to complete her revenge. She calmly strode out of the door, closing it behind her, and proceeded down the road to where the memories of the other girls stated their leader was at.


  She had just finished squirming her way into a nightgown, having already washed the makeup off of her face. "Another freak taken down, daughter still thinks your the best, husband coming home tonight~...today's been such a good day. Well, I better get ready for when he gets ho-" Her monologue was cut short as she heard a noise from the hallway. "Oh you're kidding me...it's too late for a six-year old to be up...what could she want?" She walked out of her room, grabbing a pistol from her desk just in case it wasn't her daughter. Seeing nothing, she continued to her daughter's room.

  The only lights in the room were from a nightlight in the corner of the room...and from a glowing circlet over the head of a woman she'd never seen before. She held her daughter by the hand, and looked like she was about to go elsewhere. "Mommy, the angel said it's time for me to go," the girl said, sounding half asleep.

  "No, sweetie, don't say such a thing. As for you, bitch, I don't know who you think you are, but nobody sneaks into my house and touches my daughter without my say-so! Hands where I can see them!"

  Silence.

  "I said, hands in the air! Now!"

  Still silence.

  "I'm warning you, if you don't let go of my daughter right now, so help me God, I will drop you right here and now!"

  "You don't recognize me."

  "Of course I don't! I can hardly see your face! And take off that stupid novelty halo!"

  "Novelty? Did you not hear your daughter?"

  "You're a freak, not an angel! That's it, you have until the count of three or else I'll shoot! One...Two...Thr-"

  The light suddenly intensified from the halo, cutting her off from actually firing. As the glow settled, she could finally see the intruder, a shock of fear running down her spine. "I used to be nothing, Zero. Your destruction of my old form has left me new, yet empty. I am now Jozero."

  "Yeah, you're a zero alright!" she yelled as she pulled the trigger. Yet, not a single bullet made a mark on her.

  "You took my life for your own reasons. Now, I shall take what's rightfully mine. Your life...your daughter's...and your husband will be all alone. One such as you does not deserve life nor love. Where there is happiness, there is mourning. Your passing shall forever be a reminder to him of that."

  Nervously, she looked down to her daughter, before dropping the gun. Jozero almost smiled maliciously, but instead brought an arm up as the woman charged at her, shrieking. Her punch missed, and Jozero batted her away with her free arm. She let go of the girl, and effortlessly drifted toward the woman, who jumped back up to continue the fight. Before she could reach her, Jozero grasped her by the neck and slammed her into the wall behind her. "I have experienced the pain of being cast out of Heaven itself. I wish no more than hell upon you. It would be merciful," she muttered, before lifting her other hand, turning incorporeal and becoming pure white.

  She made sure she went slow, the light dimming around them. The little girl curled up in the corner, watching her mother perish before her eyes to this strange angel. The process was long and painful, and finally ended with the woman's skin grey and her eyes glazed over. She slumped over as Jozero released her. Without a thought, the girl rushed to her mother, hugging her and trying to wake her up.

  Jozero, solidifying the new soul to patch her form, watched the girl with a mix of sadness and dark pride. "If you weren't guilty by association, I might have mercy on you. However...it will be quick." Silently, she placed a hand on the back of the girl's head, and her sobbing slowly stopped, cuddling her mother. At last, she completed her form, feeling solid and almost alive again. She couldn't replace the hollowness in her heart, but she had gotten her revenge...for what?

  What was the point? All it did was revive her. She took innocent lives for practically no reason. They took one life, and she took seven, leaving their loved ones to mourn. She felt a strange satisfaction in this, but also still felt hollow. As she wandered back to the bar, her mind buzzed with these thoughts. She reentered the bar, hardly lit by the few lights that were on earlier that day. She grabbed her body, extracting the knife from her former chest. As she wrenched it out, she could feel a slight pain in her heart, and felt a tear form in her eye. She plucked the crystal off of the knife, attaching it to a string to be a necklace. It would serve as a trophy, as would the blade, which she concealed.

  After taking a deep breath, she gingerly lifted her old body in her arms, its only eye gazing emptily past her dead form. She could feel her tears pooling, and she wandered out of the restaurant, her wings folded behind her. There was a park she would always visit before, and one spot with a ring of beautiful white flowers. She didn't fear being seen out on the streets, even carrying a body that looked suspiciously like she did.

  She shortly reached the very same garden of flowers, as silent as when she used to lay there to clear her head. Now, it would serve as a final resting place for her former life. Using abilities she didn't even know she had, she dug out a small hole, and laid her body there. She took two sticks and tied them in the shape of a cross, placing it right behind where her head lies. She dropped to her knees and wept.


  "...Years passed, and I eventually discovered my power over Dark Matter. Late at night, I awoke to an eye staring back at me. After a momentary panic, I found that the orb responded to me. After much experimentation, I found out what Dark Matter could do, and created the three elite versions of Dark Matter...Possession, Illusion, and Transmutation...or, as they have called themselves," she explained, looking out at the three young-looking youkai wandering by, one with a black spirit-like tail, another looking like a fairy with a turquoise dress, "Shihai, Sakkaku, and Kasei."

  "Damn. Your life sucks...I really have no other comment besides that," commented Reimu, the first to speak.

  "Cast out of heaven...I was not aware it was possible. I almost feel bad," Remilia remarked. "But I probably won't get to know such a thing."

  "Ehh...Yeah..."

  "Marisa?" Reimu turned to see the witch using what looked like a magic hairpin to pick her cuffs. With a soft click, the cuffs vanished.

  "Hah! See ya later, Patchy! Thank you for the tea, Remi." With that, she jumped to her feet and sprinted down the hall, moving back to the library to grab her broom.

  "Get back here, you witch!!" Patchouli yelled, charging after her, not making it very far before she doubled over, wheezing. Meiling sighed and began jogging down the hall after Marisa, leaving the librarian to catch her breath.

  "Hmm...well, Jozero, that just leaves one question. How did you wind up in Gensokyo in the first place?" Reimu asked, starting to get up.

  Jozero paused in the midst of pushing her chair in, as she was already standing. "You will find out tomorrow. Remembering these things is rather taxing to me. I have repayed my debt to Remilia, so I am adjourning to the Citadel. I hope to see you tomorrow, Reimu."

  The angel lifted off of the ground, flying around the veranda, back towards the sea and the hills where the palace sat, her three servants trailing behind her. "Hopefully you won't show up unprepared," she muttered to no one in particular. "She is not known for mercy at the hands of those who would stop her. And I owe her too much to refuse her will...Please be prepared, Reimu Hakurei."

Short, but it continues from where Chapter 5 left off.

I have no idea when I will be able and willing to start writing again, but I keep the same promise: I will not abandon this story!

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2014, 06:16:04 am »


Chapter 11
Girl of the Unlimited Void


   Reimu gazed at the horizon, the sun slowly shrinking to the west. "Well, the invitation said to 'wait until sunset', so here I am. This is the correct night...I hope she didn't forget." As she pondered aloud, the sun continued to fall until only a sliver remained. As it too set, she turned to face the palace once more. As she watched, starting at the highest point travelling down, torches were lit, illuminating the castle. If anything, it seemed to be a convenience, since the walls were dark anyway. However, with the torches there, someone flying around without being able to see would be able to tell the difference between the torches and empty air, and could avoid hitting it. "So, is the door going to automatically open, or what?"

   The air started to get chilled, and Reimu was beginning to get frustrated waiting. As the last ray of daylight faded, she felt something odd emanate from the palace itself. Before her eyes, each flame shifted from the comforting, familiar orange to a sickly, unnerving bright green. "Okay...that's unusual. It's probably a trick being played by a fairy or one of her Dark Matter things. I'm just wondering what's taking so long to let me in-"

   As if she spoke some secret phrase, the main door slowly creaked open for her. She cautiously stepped in, surprised to see the exact opposite of what happened the first time she arrived. This time, the main hall was filled with fairy maids performing a wide variety of different tasks, every door was open, and the noise was stifling. Reimu wandered in, taking in the sight of so many busy fairies, even having to dodge a few as they darted about, until a familiar face blocked her path. "Oh, hey, it's you. From before," she said, addressing the red-haired, red-eyed fairy she met when she first entered the palace.

   "No! Nonononono! You, Red-white, leave! Now! We don't have time for your antics! We are beyond busy!" she spurted, trying her hardest to push Reimu back towards the door. "No time for visitors! Go home!"

   "What does that mean?"

   "It's not important, just go!" she yelled, tugging at Reimu's shirt collar to try and pull her back out of the door. It looked like she was straining herself, almost.

   "Calm down, calm down. Who're you to give me orders anyway?"

   "The chief fairy maid, duh! Now I don't have time to deal with you..."

   "Chief maid, eh?" Reimu mused, ignoring the fairy's diatribe. "Huh. Sakuya would have a fit if she found out fairies were operating practically by themselves..." She noted a group of them carrying a bag that looked to be near overflowing with garbage, one below it to keep it from ripping, and three above simply to hoist it. "...let alone efficiently."

   "...so if you wouldn't mind just leaving before I have to go report this to the mistress and waste time, that would be great." she finished, still trying to move the shrine maiden.

   "Oh, speaking of which, I actually have an invitation that says I can be here." She yanked out the envelope for emphasis. "I don't think you want to anger your superiors by not allowing me in, do you~?"

   The fairy paused, floating up to Reimu's eye level. By now, a small crowd of maids began assembling around the two, none daring to move. "I-Invitation? Let me see tha-"

   Reimu snapped the envelope shut, pulling it out of the fairy's reach, shaking her finger. "Ah-ah-ah, no touching the invitation. Just let me through and everything will be fine."

   The chief maid's face began turning red as she grit her teeth. "No! We were given explicit orders to not let a single person in here tonight! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!" she screamed, causing Reimu to take a step back. "Now get out!" she finished, pointing a finger at the door and panting.

   The shrine maiden turned to the door, then back to the maid. Crossing her arms, she said simply "No."

   Yelling in fury, the maid took to the air and threw a large cloud of danmaku, larger than Reimu would have thought remotely possible, even for a clearly high-ranking fairy. "Everyone! New orders! End this girl!! Defense protocol Epsilon-7 X!" she shouted, and all of the fairies quickly finished whatever task they were doing and began shutting doors and taking positions down the hallway.

   "Well, missy, you picked the wrong day to mess with me! I've beaten your fairies before, and I'll do it again!" Reimu taunted, drawing her gohei and summoning two yin-yang familiars.

   With another shriek, the maid charged, a large gust of wind following her, pushing Reimu back slightly, and she began shooting columns of tiny white bullets. Reimu effortlessly weaved between them, retaliating with homing amulets, a determined grin upon her face. The wind stopped, and the fairy maid stopped her charge. She made a swirl-like motion with her hands, and the wind began flying in the opposite direction, focused on her. Reimu floated lazily to the left as a small bullet managed to clip her hair, and she realized the bullets from before were now flying in from behind her. The gusts stopped, and the fairy was bracing to rush forward again, but Reimu stopped her in her tracks with a few well-thrown pink talismans.

   The maid dropped to the ground, twitching slightly, as Reimu shook her head. "Don't you people do anything except for flanking attacks?" she asked idly, not expecting an answer. Without another word, she proceeded further, at a faster rate than before.

   Entire formations of fairy maids were flying between the columns in the hall, making themselves easy targets when they tried to attack. However, Reimu soon discovered that each new fairy was tougher than the last, even though they all shot the same pattern of danmaku, five simple streams of ordinary bullets aimed at random angles. She soon found herself almost in a crossfire, so she retreated, keeping the bullets close, but not uncomfortably. As the last maid flew off, two larger maids dropped from the ceiling, unleashing vortexes of multicolored kunai bullets. A third flew from behind a column and assisted by creating rings of energy spheres, rotating in alternate directions. She would have had no problem with the kunai, even if they were fast, but the new fairy made the danmaku much harder to predict. "Spirit sign 'Fantasy Seal -Spread-'!" Reimu declared, now irritated. Large, multicolored orbs sprang from her person, the largest luckily falling over the fairies. As the spheres detonated, they took the fairies with them.

   "Damn, I'm going to need to ration these...this is usually the point where I don't have much time to recharge these myself." she muttered, looking at the now powered-down card in her hand before pocketing it again. She proceeded onward, felling fairies before they even had time to fire their danmaku. "This is just too easy...weird. Oh hey, this is where I fought Jozero..." She looked around at the clean hall, recognizing a shred of a sleeve against the wall. She gazed at the columns, and noticed not a single one looked scratched. "That's strange...I wouldn't think they'd be completely repaired, especially since she tore out a chunk of one to throw at me. Yet they look as if they haven't been touched...but then why wasn't the sleeve picked up?" She walked over to it, and recognized it as her own sleeve, not Jozero's. It looked beyond repair, nearly split right down the middle in several places, and the rest was simply tatters. "That explains why this didn't vanish when she came back. But not why it's still here..."

   She grabbed the sleeve, sure she could use it for something, before proceeding further. As she kept walking, it occurred to her that the wall that was previously here was gone now, as was the deathly chill in the air. She looked to the walls where there was a break in the columns, and saw lines on the doors faintly glow green for a short time before dimming again. She floated closer, and could see the hinges on the sides nearest the wall, and further inspection revealed a hand-shaped depression in the center of the door. She put her hand to it, but it was obviously meant for someone else's. Shrugging, she went back to the center of the hall and kept walking.

   As she walked, she suddenly became aware of footsteps echoing down the hall. She stopped, and soon after she did, the other noise stopped as well. Something's not right... She tried to take another step forward, but as she did, a sword fell directly in front of her foot, blocking her path. She drew her gohei and looked around, finally seeing Tearfang descend in front of her. She landed softly, and with a motion willed the sword out of existence. "Ah, Tearfang. Hasn't anyone told you not to randomly attack guests?"

   "You are no guest here tonight, Hakurei. I demand you leave this instant. That threshold was one you should not have passed." Although she was already in a fighting stance, Reimu could notice her breathing harder than usual, as if she had to run to get there to stop her. "You have one chance. Turn and leave, or this will be unfortunate."

   "You people sure know how to roll out the welcome wagon. But sure, why the hell not," she said, summoning another two familiars to aid her. "I still owe you something for not only actually hitting me in the Ingress, but for cutting the party early. You need to relax more."

   "Rest is for the weak," she retorted, a shadow falling on her face as she drew her sleeve-blades. "If you won't leave, I'll cut you down and shovel your remains out of the window for the mushroom youkai!"

   "Fat chance!" she challenged, before Tearfang charged her, blade poised to strike. Reimu easily sidestepped it, and smashed one of her familiars into Tearfang, pushing her back into a column. She sprang up the column, readying multiple illusionary swords, and charged again. This time, each blade ground against Reimu's familiars, and she tried to punch Reimu, without her sleeve-blades. The shrine maiden caught the punch, and the other, and the two remained deadlocked, staring daggers at each other. Reimu broke her glare first, replacing it with a confident smile. "Dream sign 'Duplex Barrier'!"

   Tearfang's eyes widened as two interlocking, bright red square barriers emanated from Reimu, trapping her inside and shattering her swords. Besides the shock of her illusions being destroyed, now she was being bathed in pure barrier danmaku. The barrier didn't last long, but Tearfang was thrown across the hall as a result. She rose back into the air, creating a spellcard, and plunging the hall into her illusionary world again. "Curse 'Cycle of Death'!"

   She thrust her hand forward, and a wall of sword bullets appeared and began falling towards Reimu. The gaps in the danmaku were obvious, but Tearfang threw another, different wave at her. As she began weaving through the second wave, she saw the first wave appear behind her again and proceed at a quicker rate than the first time. Oh great, it's one of those spells that keeps going until the danmaku runs out of power... Deciding to go on the defensive, Reimu brought all of her yin-yangs closer to herself, and only made miniscule movements, a skill she developed that helps for these types of spells where sudden action is not needed.

   The walls never became a thick cloud, and the spell broke easily. Tearfang snarled, drawing another spellcard and three illusion swords. "Nightmare 'Death's Delusion'!" She waved one of her arms, raising her other upward, as the three swords took position around Reimu. She brought her arm down, and the three swords flew on a direct course toward Reimu, who refused to budge. This looks just like that other card she used. I bet I won't feel a thi- Her thoughts were cut short by a sharp pain in her abdomen. She looked down to see the three swords lodged within her, and her vision began thinning. Wh- what?! No! This is against the rules of danmaku... Eventually, her vision faded to black, and she began to feel light-headed. It..It can't end like this...wait, how can I even keep focusing on my own thoughts like this if I'm dying...?

   Cautiously, she opened one eye, and only saw an illusional slash running through her. She breathed a sigh of relief, still feeling her arms trembling; it truly felt like she was about to die. The three trails moved out of her and began rotating at incredible speeds around her, releasing random barrages of bullets, as Tearfang's swords began shooting other sword bullets into the mix.

   Effectively trapped, Reimu relied on her intuition to tell her when to move, and focused entirely on ending this card. The bullets were forming thick clouds around her, and she was finding space very limited. Seeing a sword puncture through a wall of bullets near where she just was, she threw two larger amulets, hoping they could end the card. As she heard them make contact, the slashing trails and all bullets instantly vanished, and Reimu got to see Tearfang's three swords explode, just like back in the Ingress. However, unlike last time, Tearfang only clutched her stomach momentarily, before getting back up and glaring angrily at her. "Why won't you just leave already?!" she yelled, drawing one last spell. "Legendary Sword 'Divine Protection'!"

   As the card faded, a sphere of bright blue energy formed around her. Two copies of Tearfang flew from it, taking positions closer to Reimu. Wordlessly, they both created a blue sphere, which quickly began shooting bullets of the same color at a very rapid rate. She had no idea which copy was correct, so she divided her focus between the two. They remained stationary, but Reimu had to keep moving to avoid the incessant flood of danmaku, constantly looking between the two for which bullets have the possibility of striking her. The periodic flashes the copies gave off didn't help, either. Ducking between two bullets trying to converge on her, another flash was given off as she looked directly at the Tearfang on her left. Blinking a few times to regain her vision, she didn't see one stray bullet soar into her abdomen, knocking her back a few meters. Ignoring the stinging sensation, she readied four amulets in each hand, throwing them at either copy.

   They struck directly, but the bullets were still flowing strong. Soon enough, however, Reimu could hear the spell weakening, and the bullets began turning red and flying even faster. Narrowly flipping over a small cluster of bullets, the card broke, and the two Tearfangs were thrust back into one body. Without skipping a beat, the sword girl flew towards the shrine maiden, her fist clenched and a blade drawn, screaming in a murderous fury. Unlike the first time, Reimu readied herself. I really hate to do this...but if there is one thing I know that can stop anything, and this really does need to stop... As she neared her quarry, Reimu ducked slightly to the side, more in line with the front of Tearfang's body. She batted Tearfang's arm away, and brought her leg upwards, striking directly into the sword girl's groin.

   Feeling a mixture of satisfaction and pity, she watched Tearfang's expression change dramatically as she plummeted to the ground, curled up in pain. She slowly rose to her elbows, her arms trembling, before turning herself to look with a tear-strewn, malicious gaze at the shrine maiden. "How...cruel..." was all she could muster before turning into a ball of white light and flying further ahead.

   "Huh. Good to know that it works. But still, it does make me feel bad that I had to resort to that... no one likes getting kicked down there." Suddenly feeling self-conscious, Reimu shivered the feeling away and focused on proceeding down the much larger hall. Fairies had more time to get to advantageous positions, but that meant they also were exposed for longer. Dark Matter also began peppering the air, acting more like sentries than malevolent creatures.

   As she proceeded, she began to see a bright green light emanating from up ahead. The columns of fairies intensified, until the last ones fell. For a short distance, none challenged her, and she soon arrived at the end of the hall. Landing, she couldn't help but give an appreciative whistle, standing a good thirty meters from the bottom stair in a series of steps leading up to a jet-black throne. At what would have been the height of what she guessed the top of her shrine would be floated a bright green gem, slowly rotating in a slight indentation in the wall, several other crystals floating about in similar sconces. The similarity of these crystals' colors to the flames of the torches was both uncanny and eerie. The wall around the throne was decorated with strange symbols and figures, most of which looked to be in battle. But what was probably the most unnerving detail of all was that the main throne, black as obsidian...was empty. "Really? No, I mean...really?! All of this build-up, and no-one's even here to meet me?"

   As if on cue, a white ball of light emerged from above, changing into the form of an absolutely livid Tearfang once again. "Shrine maiden, I tell you once more; leave this place now, you are not welcome!"

   "Aww, here for another beating? C'mon, I'm two for two, so maybe third time's the charm~!"

   "First of all, that last battle ended dishonorably. What you did was very close to cheating. I could have easily tried that on you when we first met. I could have tried it on you back there. And yet you were the first to strike. You should be ashamed to call yourself anything close to a fighter."

   "I don't fight youkai for sport, I beat them up for sport. I just wanted to go further, but you really don't like giving up until you can't move."

   "Second," she continued, ignoring her adversary. "It truly is important that you leave. You don't know what you're getting yourself into. I'm trying to drive you away for your own protection."

   Reimu's challenging smirk slowly dropped as her eyes narrowed. "For my own protection? From what?"

   "I...I can't tell you. Just trust me, you need to leave immedia-"

   "Tearfang, what is going on?"

   The sudden intrusion of a third voice startled Reimu, but not nearly as badly as Tearfang, who froze in place, her face turning from an almost pleading anger to fear. For a while, no one said anything. "Well? I'm waiting, Tearfang." The voice came from behind Tearfang, and to the left, close to a door. Near it was a young woman, from the silhouette Reimu could see through the darkness. "...That is an order, Tearfang."

   Shuddering back into reality, Tearfang looked once more at the shrine maiden, uttering a "Leave now...please!" before marching to the silhouette. Unable to hear their conversation, Reimu took note of as much as possible of the girl. From her neck down, she looked like a cylinder with a dome on top, interrupted by one arm poking out, holding a mug of something steaming. Her hair looked medium-length, flowing around her shoulders. Wavy. A pair of green, seemingly glowing eyes were set annoyed in the figure's face. The figure sighed and shook her head, then spoke something to Tearfang, motioning her head back towards the throne. Although Tearfang at first resisted, a stern glare set the sword girl to the left side of the throne, where she stood at attention, arms behind her back. She gave one final pleading glance to the shrine maiden as the figure slowly approached the throne, setting the mug down on its arm.

   "I must apologize for Tearfang's behavior. She was acting out of orders." She turned to look disapprovingly of the silver-haired girl, who shrank away slightly. "Isn't that right?"

   "Y-yes, Mistress..."

   "Mistress? You mean this isn't Jozero's castle?"

   The woman chuckled, bringing one arm up from her shroud to her mouth. "Oh heavens no. This palace is mine. Allow me to introduce myself. I am known as Constance Adumbrate, or among my people as the Grand Shadow Princess, daughter of the Emperor of a similar title. And this is my home away from home, Citadel Adumbrate. Excuse me for a second while I make myself a bit more comfortable..." She flared her shroud, which turned out to be a large cape, outward, revealing her true appearance as she sat nonchalantly on the throne behind her. The cape's inside was the same bright green as the crytals, the flames...and the girl's odd, detailless eyes, even. She was dressed in a manner that could be called casually regal, a lighter grey than the pure shadow that seemed to cling to her face and exposed limbs. A devilish smile on her lips, she crossed her legs and leaned on the same arm of the throne as her drink. "You know, I had a much more...dramatic introduction planned, but because Tearfang did not follow my commands, it was all for naught as I was retrieving myself some coffee when you arrived. Oh well, not everything goes as planned, I suppose."

   "Wait, you're royalty? Great...as if we need any more princesses around here..."

   "Oh? Other princesses...you mean the vampire who acts as spoiled as one and the one from the Moon? Well, it could be worse, I suppose. After all, there could be more. However, I doubt any of their abilities compare to mine," she said, bringing the mug up to take a drink from it without actually moving her arms.

   "Also, what are you? Some sort of talking silhouette?"

   Unamused, Constance set down her drink, and snapped her fingers. Slowly, the shadowy skin on her body began shifting to a paler color, changing to an almost perfect flesh color. Her eyes even gained normal details instead of being a solid color. However, two bands encompassing her wrists and most of her forearms, not to mention most of her legs and feet, remained pitch-black. "Better? And to answer your question, I am what other species call a Shadowed. Powerful creatures of darkness who inhabit a far-off world in a parallel dimension to the one outside of this pocket dimension Gensokyo sits in. Would you believe most people I tell that to don't normally believe me the first time? Some people even had the gall to roll their eyes at me."

   "Yes, it is better. As for what you are, well...Gensokyo has some weird youkai, but if what you say is true, you might take the cake. Then again, Jozero's story might compare in interest level...speaking of which, where is she?"

   "Jozero? She's probably resting in her room. Why, may I ask?"

   "Sleeping? Tch...she was the one who invited me to come here in the first place."

   "She is the one who let you intrude? Hmm...but why tonight, she knows what's going to happen..." The princess closed her eyes and shook her head, sighing. "Oh, Zerotsu...what am I going to do with you..."

   "Yeah, I am curious, what is this big mystery eve- Zerotsu?"

   "Yes, Zerotsu. The first time she signed her name, I saw it written as a zero and a two, so I figured her name was Zerotsu. She's been correcting me ever since. It's adorable, really."

   "Right...so what is supposed to be happening tonight? It's a New Moon, so any magical stuff is going to be hampered."

   "Did I not tell you? My race is composed of shadows. As such, we draw power from them. This night is supposed to be a moonless, starless midnight, and that hour approaches fast. I shall be at my strongest, and none shall be able to stand against me!"

   Reimu took a step forward, her hand adjusting its grip on her gohei. "'None shall stand against you'? I personally don't like the sound of that. It sounds like you're up to something."

   Constance turned her gaze downward, shifting her position to appear more imposing, her grin widening, revealing many stark white fang-like teeth. "You mean you haven't figured it out yet? My palace being a base of operations, the door to here being sealed, Jozero failing in her mission to create strife in Gensokyo, the palace's floating out to sea...how do you think my cohorts managed to get here to Gensokyo anyway, let alone an entire chunk of what you call the 'outside world's' ocean?" Reimu's face lit up as she began connecting the dots. "Yes, Reimu. The one responsible for Gensokyo's new slice of sea, the wave of depression, and almost subjecting the land to a perfect storm...is none other than I. And that was merely the beginning! Tonight, what I have been waiting for will finally occur...at the peak of my power, I will rend a hole to the Ingress right through the weakened dimensional fabric of Gensokyo - you didn't think all of these breaking-into's and breaking-out of's that the past few incidents have been wouldn't be detrimental to Gensokyo, did you? - and I shall conquer this land in my name!"

   "Okay, you're going a bit far, there. Normally people who want to start incidents have small reasons for it that blow out of proportion. Yours, however, are almost frighteningly in proportion. Everything's too carefully planned out. The last incident with this sort of drastic outcome was from that insane birdbrain in the Hell of Blazing Fires. I almost wish I was sorry, but I have to take you down now. Unless you just want to give up and leave, save yourself the trouble."

   The Shadowed girl could only laugh as she rose from her throne, lifting slightly into the air, her cape fluttering behind her. "I sense a challenge from you, shrine maiden. I already know of your formidable strength with dealing with youkai. However, I am no youkai...in fact, I go so far as to eliminate them for their generalization I suppose I technically fall under."

   "Eliminate? Oh!" She snapped her fingers, a moment of realization cutting through the tension. "That's right, there was supposedly a youkai hunter who lived around here. That's not..."

   "Me? It is, indeed. I tried human once. I didn't like it. I accidentally killed a youkai masquerading as a human and didn't realize it until after the first bite. However, one bite got me hooked. The best part is, each youkai has a unique flavor. No two I've tried have tasted the same, even prepared the exact same ways. If you'd like, I could perhaps share a recipe or two, between fellow hunters."

   "Okay, no. I find youkai annoying as much as the next guy, but you can't just go around killing them!"

   "And why not? It's not like I pick off important ones. I just go after the ones who infest pathways and general nuisances. Some humans have even hired me to take out a youkai or two. Not personally, but a note to the Youkai Hunter can be a sigh of relief for them later. I'm doing a service to Gensokyo and its human population. Publicity is key to a political victory. Youkai will fall under my sway in time, but the humans who will pass down legends before the elder youkai pass on are what I will live on through."

   "The balance between youkai and human is very...precarious, I guess. So now I have to beat you for threatening Gensokyo's natural order in multiple ways. I'd rather not have to, but it's getting rapidly to the point where I must!"

   Constance shook her head, her smile still present. "If you so insist. I don't intend to go easy...but I have already devoted so much of my power into this scheme already. I should still have enough to eliminate you, though, and have plenty to spare. Now..." She extended her hands to her sides, and orbs of darkness enveloped them. From the shadows in her left hand, a long, silvery blade formed, and from her right, four glowing orbs in a pyramid shape, the three below being red, yellow, and blue, while the top one is green, took shape, connected by small beams of light matching the color of at least one orb. The three that made the base orbited her wrist, while the green one floated over her hand, which looked like it was holding it delicately. The sword looked far too large for her to hold with one hand, yet she seemed to hold it effortlessly. "Tearfang, if you would..."

   "Yes, Lady Constance." was her only reply, as she jumped into the air, forming into a ball of light again, before flying into the blade itself, making it glow a sickly, dull metallic color.

   "I should give a brief explanation before we begin. This," she said, hoisting the sword, "is Tearfang's true form, the sword which is her namesake. From this cursed blade, the youkai sword spirit was born upon my first entrance into Gensokyo. She has been my servant since, even more than just as a sword. These," she pushed her right hand outward, "are the physical manifestations I can give to some of my powers. I call them my Loci. The red is the Locus Inferno, the yellow Locus Dynamo, the blue Locus Brumal, and the green one is the Locus Aeterna. Ah, but you don't really know what powers I possess, do you?"

   "It doesn't matter what powers you have, I'll beat the shadow right out of you! No one threatens Gensokyo on my watch!"

   A shadow falling over the left side of her face, Constance gave a convincing evil laugh and floated further upward. "Then let this be the duel that shall decide the fate of the world you hold so near and dear!" Without even waiting for Reimu to lift off of the ground, she swung her blade and blasted the ground where she stood with multicolored danmaku of all shapes and forms. Reimu leapt to her side as the powerful surge of danmaku impacted with the ground. She brought her sword back to swing again as Reimu let her needles fly from her familiars. This time, she dove to the right at a blinding pace, and swung three times in succession, forcing Reimu to make large movements to avoid the torrent of bullets.

   Readjusting her aim to the princess's new position, the girl vanished from sight again, only for her to be on the opposite side of the hall, repeating the pattern. "How the hell do you move so fast?!"

   "Easy. Light travels at an immensely fast pace, but when the lights go out, shadows rush to fill that gap. Thus, the speed of darkness is faster than the speed of light. Utilizing that, depending on how bright a room is, I can travel so fast I would be literally everywhere. Which is partially why I keep my Citadel so dark. Answer your question?"

   "Uh...yeah, I guess."

   "Good." With that, she swung her blade again, but this time she held her right hand forward as well, sending waves of fire from the Locus Inferno to accompany the original danmaku.

   "I'm sure you also have a damn good explanation for why you can shoot fire, but I could care less right now!" Reimu shouted as she rolled around incoming danmaku waves.

   "Indeed I do. Without light, there is cold. With light, there is heat. So, using an extension of the power of shadow manipulation, I can make temperatures rise and fall. Fall down into freezing depths, rise into blistering heights. A quick enough rise can even create electricity," she added, shooting a large fork of lightning from the end of her blade.

   Squeezing between two large bullets, Reimu had to quickly turn herself so the lightning wouldn't hit her. As she regained her focus, she rapidly backpedalled to stay out of the way of the next wave of bullets, only to back into a column. Forced onto it, she could only afford to make small movements while on the pillar to avoid being struck. As the cloud vanished, she could see Constance barrelling up to her, her fist reared back and an evil smile plastered on her face. Hardly thinking rationally, Reimu rolled to the side of the pillar and used her motion to gain leverage and float behind her foe. As she looked, the pillar had nearly caved in where Constance's fist made contact, cracks spreading all the way to the floor. That punch would have left me a smear...I guess that makes close combat not an option, since I don't like being paste...

   Still smiling, Constance brushed rubble from her shoulders before having to list to the side to avoid Reimu's incoming fire. She drew her blade from a small rift in the Ingress, then swung, releasing another wave of danmaku. Halfway in its trajectory, however, Constance waved her hand, and the bullets vanished, leaving a confused shrine maiden still firing at her. "This is dull. It's a good thing I decided to brush up on Gensokyo's history, or else I wouldn't have made any spellcards for myself, and then I would definitely be in a pickle. Well, what better time to test them than right now..." She snapped her fingers within her Loci, and they generated a black spellcard with what looked like an orange eye in the center of it. "Ingress 'Multidimensional Assault'!"

   With a wave of her hand and a piercing, rending sound, six rifts opened around her, forming a pitch-black cube in reality. Reimu raised an eyebrow at her foe's spontaneous retreat, before the noise returned louder this time, forcing her to cover her ears. When the noise stopped, she opened her eyes and looked around, seeing a similar cube of reality around her, the Ingress beyond it. Ahead of her, in a much smaller cube, was Constance, floating lazily. "Before you ask, the Ingress is indeed mine, I simply let Jozero borrow a bit of my power to open these rifts. To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure how I managed to do a successful lending of my abilities without being present...but I suppose that isn't important now, especially since these spellcards don't last very long at all, in accordance to the rules..." Constance turned to the side, holding one palm out. A large wave of silvery bullets slowly expanded out of it, before vanishing into the side of her cube as she turned to another side to repeat the process.

   Reimu tilted her head curiously, unsure where the danmaku was going. Slowly, a wall of bullets passed right before her, missing their mark, but effectively reminding Reimu she was in a fight, not a show. She gave a quick thank-you to the gods of luck before throwing homing amulets at her foe. However, they didn't teleport like Constance's bullets did, and instead flew on a straight course through the inky mists. The shrine maiden was quickly feeling overwhelmed as bullet waves were intersecting from every face of the cube. She tried to fly out of the cube, but only wound up feeling disoriented as she reappeared on the opposite side of the field, quickly having to duck back to avoid her adversary's relentless attack. She barely made it out of being split into four pieces by interlacing bullets when she could finally hear the spellcard weaken, the dull thuds echoing through the cube. She chucked four large amulets, confident they would end the card faster.

   Constance fired another wave directly upwards, turning her attention back to Reimu so she could see how much she was struggling. Her smile dimmed as the four amulets closed in. As they neared, however, she swung her sword wide, cutting through all four amulets, and leaving a distraught Reimu staring as the spell continued and her attack detonated harmlessly. "It'll take more than that to beat me-" Snap. "Oh. Well, what do you know, you managed to do it."

   Panting, Reimu regained her equilibrium as the rest of reality faded in. "Well, what did you expect?"

   The princess, reclining in midair, brought a hand to her chin. "I can't say I expected anything, this is my first actual battle where my opponent wasn't knocked out immediately. You do show...promise," she said, floating over to the shrine maiden, her gohei raised. "Come now, why so alarmed? All I have is a proposition for you."

   Deepening her scowl, Reimu kept her eyes on the floating girl before her. "I'm just going to go ahead and say no, your proposition is probably garbage anyway. I don't make deals with villains."

   "Oh, come now, don't be like that...although I do admit I do fit in with quite a few villainous stereotypes. Although that's mostly for show right now. This, however, is an offer you simply cannot refuse. Someone of your power and status...Defender of Gensokyo...should surely be on the winning team, no? Well, why not be a part of the winning team?" Constance floated closer, maneuvering to be upright, her hands behind her back. "Join me, Reimu. For too long you've been ignored. The defender of the land should not be impoverished, constantly pestered by those you could live without."

   "I-I'm not impoverished! Donations have been kinda slow, lately, though..."

   Constance's honeyed smile dropped slightly. "Yes, your oh-so-overflowing donations, that normally come rolling in like a blizzard in winter. If you ally with me, you won't ever have to worry about money again. You could live as luxuriously as you wanted. You have the world, fame, and recognition to gain, and nothing to lose...you simply must pledge your allegiance to the Empire...to me." She stuck one hand forward, leering down at her. "Just say yes..."

   Reimu could feel her worries melting away with Constance's words. No responsibility, just luxury. Gensokyo would recognize her for her status and for solving incidents. She would be in league with someone who seemed insanely powerful. And yet, her intuition was tugging her back into reality. This girl was, without a doubt, insanely powerful, and probably just plain insane. Who's to say she wouldn't turn her back when the time presented itself? She is the daughter of darkness personified, how could one like that be trusted? Her conflict of interest only deepened as she felt herself reach out her own hand, Constance's pearly fangs glistening as she did so. Then, one thought changed the entire situation: She wants Gensokyo, not you.

   Shaking her head, her willpower returned, and she gave a determined "No!" and threw a few red and white amulets at the Shadowed before her. She merely batted them away and backed up, giving themselves distance between them. "You're a liar, only out for your own benefit! I hardly know you, and you're asking me to give you my undivided trust? You don't want me on your side, you just want no opposition to your taking over Gensokyo! I bet not even Yukari would ally herself with you, even for a sweetened deal in her favor!"

   Constance's smile quickly soured upon Reimu calling her bluff. "You know not what you say, Reimu. And oh, is there much you don't know. Your ignorance will be your own downfall, little girl." Holding her Loci out to her side, the very air around her seemed to shimmer, and her cape began fluttering violently behind her. "When this is over, you can't say I never tried to end this peacefully. This battle will be a work of art, us two the duelling painters intent on our image being the most prevalent! Now, unleash the darkness of your heart, and try to compare with unlimited power!!!" She held her right hand upward, the four Loci swirling around her wrist. From them, spirals of danmaku fanned outward, creating a brilliant multicolored display that quickly encompassed the entire hall.

   Keeping her homing amulets set, Reimu drops another orb and kicks it into a column, making it bounce around at high speed. While her amulets struck home, Constance was sufficiently distracted with keeping track of the orb for Reimu to close in. She noticed that when the princess wasn't focusing, the danmaku had a static pattern, which enabled her to get close without her really noticing. Finally getting into a rhythm, Reimu began influencing the orb herself, until it went on a straight path towards her foe. She took the bait, cutting off the danmaku to bat the orb away with her sword. Before she could resume firing, Reimu teleported the short distance between them and landed a strong diving kick into the princess's chest, relishing the look of surprise on her face as she was flung towards the ground, the force of which causing small cracks in the stone.

   Much to Reimu's chagrin, though not surprise, Constance rose from the ground. "I'm surprised I fell for a mediocre trick like that. Remind me to ask you how you can teleport short distances like that la-" She was cut off as the orb she swatted away early returned with a vengeance into the back of her skull.

   Smirking, Reimu willed the spare orb out of existence. "Whether or not you think it's mediocre, it still works. I gotta pull all the stops out on this one."

   Rubbing her head, Constance flew upwards, looking considerably less happy. "Luck appears to be on your side for now. But luck is expendable. Skill is permanent. Just how long will yours last?" She drew another spell, and black mists began coalescing in the hall. "Cosmos 'Nebula Umbra'!"

   From the card, a wall of black fog poured out, masking the entire arena in darkness. Slowly, Reimu could see small white, glowing orbs spreading out, like tiny stars. As one passed close by, the heat tipped her off that these were, indeed, danmaku. Static, taking into account how they were slowing to a crawl. Turning her attention back to where Constance was, Reimu carefully jumped to her left as Constance darted forward, creating an explosion of danmaku where the shrine maiden was previously. Glad she picked a relatively clear area, she twisted around the dense clusters of star-like bullets , barely dodging the princess as she once again dove straight at her before disappearing into the fog.

   Hearing the explosion of danmaku in a slightly shorter frame of time, Reimu looked at her familiars, still shooting homing amulets. Despite not being able to see her, the amulets were still hitting their mark, and she could keep track of where her foe was as she weaved her way through clusters of stars. Without a sound, Reimu ducked under another charge, and its rebound. It felt too easy. Taking hold of eight larger amulets, she flung them into the air, and they began sailing into the fog with the rest of the amulets.

   Reimu listened intently, at first hearing another impact. She didn't know how fast, or in what direction, Constance was moving, but eventually they would catch up. She couldn't help but smile as she heard Constance give a surprised cry and the card immediately end.

   The fog immediately cleared, but a large cloud of smoke remained a short distance from Reimu. She could hear coughing as the cloud subsided, and the image of Constance wheezing into her arm and waving the smoke away with the other made Reimu much happier. "Okay, okay, time-out," Constance called. "What I know is that your danmaku rules say that all danmaku has to be avoidable, right?" Reimu nodded. "Okay. So, how is it fair that you can use amulets that can HOME IN on your target, no matter how much danmaku is in the air, or how deplorable visibility is?"

   The miko looked between her familiars. "Um...that's a good question. Nobody's really called me out on it, though, so I don't care."

   "Yeah, um, no. I'm not alright with this. One of the people who helped make these damn rules, and she is the one who gets the loophole?" Constance crossed her arms. "Seriously? That's low-brow politicking right there. If anything, I'd have expected your witch friend to be the one to break a 'No Undodgeable Danmaku' rule before you."

   "Oh, like you're one to talk. You're a princess, you're clearly evil, and you would so have tried that if I didn't do it first!"

   "There's a difference between bullets that lock on to your position, and bullets that actively follow you around. The latter is all sorts of unfair. It's not that hard of a concept to grasp."

   "You're the one boasting about 'unlimited power', so why don't you just use some of that then? That sounds completely fair in any fight."

   "Don't get your panties in a bunch, it's a hyperbole. I'm trying to put on a good show, and you're busy cheating and throwing me off-character!"

   "How am I the one throwing off your little charade?! You're the one who called the timeout, you could have just ignored it and kept fighting!"

   "I expected a fair fight, not homing bullcrap! Have you seen me once, ONE TIME, use methods like that up to now? No. Yet you resort to it almost right away. Even if you manage to win, I'd be surprised if you have a reputation left. At least I have a code of honor."

   "I use homing amulets quite a bit, thank you very much. Like I said, no one has complained until now, so don't go saying I'm-"

   "Whatever, we're supposed to be fighting. Now, give me a moment, I need to gather my composure..."

   "Don't you just cut me off like that!" Constance didn't respond, she simply turned her back to Reimu and brought a hand to her temples. "Hey! Turn around!"

   Expressing disgust, Constance turned back to face her. "Fine. You want to just go back to the fighting? FINE! Have it your way!" she yelled, taking off into the air again and throwing pitch-black knives at all angles, most of them bouncing across the room, dissipating as they strike something the second time. "I was having fun with this, but you've gone and ruined it!"

   Jeez, what a big baby, Reimu thought as she tried to get back into the air while dodging the bouncing knives. "I didn't ruin anything, you're the one trying to start trouble here," she replied, resetting her orbs to needles and letting fly.

   "Do you even know how much work and planning I've put into this entire fight? Years of studying, rehearsing, preparing, all going down the drain like so much filthy water! This is the first time I've tried to follow a different system of fighting than I'm used to, and after painstaking editing to how I fight, how my powers are used, and how I can keep the battle fair, the native of the world I arrive at is the one to break the rules! What sort of example are you setting?" She continued to tirade, not once stopping her barrage of knives.

   "One where peace is enforced, and that the Hakurei line is still strong!" she shouted, declaring a spell to dissipate the bullets, sending bright, multicolored orbs at Constance. "My ancestors have kept the peace in Gensokyo long before you showed up, and we'll continue to do the same long after we're gone!"

   Constance drew her blade, slashing away the danmaku flying directly at her. "We shall see about that. Shadow sign 'Bind in Darkness'!"

   Upon declaring her card, her skin changed color to a pitch black, her eyes becoming detailless until they were but bright green spots, her teeth the only other visible point on her body. If it weren't for the inside of her cape being the same color as her eyes, she would seem to lose all depth. "Let me teach you something else about me, Reimu. Mainly, about this cape. It is a separate article of clothing, but science has allowed it to be comprised of compounds close enough to our skin so we can use it as an extension of ourselves. Observe..." After a short period of focusing, her cape began twisting itself into two bat-like wings, the webbing retaining the green, while the rest stayed black. With a flap, she propelled herself into the air, before turning them back to a cape. "However, that's not what I need for this card. I can also do this..." The cape split into four segments, twisting into long, conical shapes, before pointing over her and at Reimu. "This card allows me to coat these tendrils in danmaku. Getting caught will be, assuredly, painful...and it doesn't stop there..."

   Already wary, Reimu floated backwards slightly as Constance snapped her fingers. From the ground and around every visible surface, pitch-black tendrils began writhing and reaching upwards, just like the four on Constance's back. "Neat trick, but I don't see how good of a card this is. It seems very...simple."

   "Then let's change that, shall we?" she asked, before slowly drifting towards the shrine maiden, radiating shadowy bullets as the tendrils reached toward her adversary, her malevolent smirk unchanging.

   Raising an eyebrow, Reimu simply backed away, letting her own danmaku fly, bouncing off of Constance harmlessly due to the spell shield from the card. She glanced behind her to see the yawning expanse of the corridor, danmaku tendrils wreathing every surface. So, if I just avoid getting too close to a column, I should be fine. Looking back, however, Constance was right in her face, the tendrils at her back starting to try and wrap around her.

   Reimu dropped swiftly, confident not to be caught, but the lower two tendrils managed to catch her arms before she could completely escape, and the other two wrapped around her body, pinning her arms in place, before lifting her upside down in front of her foe. "Too slow," Constance breathed, before the shrine maiden could feel the danmaku infusing the tendrils begin to sting. She grit her teeth, trying her best not to scream in pain. A glancing blow is one thing, but constant application was a completely different pain. After what felt like an eternity, she felt the tendrils lift her again, before throwing her to the ground. "This is why you do not take your eyes off of your opponent, as you already demonstrated with your yin-yang orb earlier."

   Her entire body throbbing, Reimu slowly rose to her feet and back into the air. Despite the pain she had felt, her clothes only had minor scorch marks on them. Not even dignifying Constance with a response, she summoned her familiars again, and began raining needles upon her foe.

   However, instead of dodging, she merely crossed her arms. "Lesson two: always pay attention to your environment, as well." As she said this, Reimu could feel her intuition roaring at her to fly upward, and she noticed that the danmaku tendrils that used to coat the ground were sprouting up again, and they'd be within her reach in seconds. She could never make it in time, unless...

   "Dream sign 'Duplex Barrier'!" she called, as two interlocking barriers began carving through her enemy's attack like a scythe through weeds. With the tendrils down for now, she rose back into the air and threw four talismans as hard as she could.

   The princess knew she was losing her grip on this card and her movement was still limited, but the shield should be able to absorb any blow right now anyhow, so she wasn't too worried. Until, as the first one struck, she heard the sound of her spell breaking. She hardly had time to reel back in shock as the remaining talismans slammed into her with impressive force, throwing her against one column only to bounce off of it, then the ground, before hitting another column and dropping to the floor.

   Despite being through space travel and hurtling through the Ingress at blinding speeds, the blow still left Constance's head spinning. As she cleared it, she looked up to see Reimu diving towards her with an energy-infused kick, which hit home before she could do anything to resist it. Now having to gather her bearings again, she could hardly make out through the ringing in her ears "And stay down, if you know what's good for you," before she heard footsteps walking away from her.

   Holding back the urge to spit on the girl, Reimu simply turned and began stalking away, one arm braced across her midsection. Before she even took three steps, a void opened before her, and Constance stepped out, oddly enough looking none the worse for wear, although she did look considerably more human than the last card, only small patches being covered in shadow, like before. "Did I say you could leave?"

   "No, but I'm going anyway. We're done here, and you're beaten." She pushed Constance out of the way, and kept walking.

   "Then you are admitting defeat. I am not out of spell cards, and this duel is not over. Not that it matters to me if you are a coward." This made Reimu stop in her tracks before slowly turning to her adversary. "You heard me."

   "I am not a coward."

   "You're certainly acting like one. Leaving now is admitting defeat, and time is running out for you. If you leave, you'll be handing Gensokyo to me."

   Silently, Reimu turned to fully face Constance. She threw a few amulets into the air, specifically around the princess, and began muttering under her breath, her one hand positioned as if in prayer. Seemingly finished, she held her gohei straight out and said "Evil-Sealing Circle." The amulets began connecting with thin, bright lines, until each was connected to form a shell around Constance.

   "This...this is no spell card."

   "You are royalty, right? Well, you're royally pissing me off. I'm no coward, and I will end you right now if I need to. Do not goad me into a fight that I know you can't possibly win." She lowered her gohei slightly, and the amulets closed in with it, hardly being held back from collapsing in on itself.

   "Hmm. It appears I have underestimated you, Reimu." With that, she drew Tearfang and her loci, before using the Ingress to teleport outside of the circle, as Reimu tried collapsing it on her, leaving a massive cloud of smoke. "Are you sure you would not rather simply join me instead of wasting both of our time fighting?"

   "Why? Are you scared of a human, Your Overconfidentness?"

   "A pity, that you cannot simply see things in a much simpler fashion. Everyone would benefit. This is your last opportunity."

   "I'll never give Gensokyo to a freak like you willingly!"

   Shifting her loci so the red one floated above the others, the smoke finally finished dissipating. "Then you will hand it to me as your bones break and you feel your very life draining from your miserable body!" She raised her hand, and great columns of fire began shooting from her red orb, occasionally punctuated by a wave of silvery bullets from her blade.

   Reimu immediately went on the defensive again, maneuvering between the pillars of flame and around the tertiary attacks. As she flew, she could feel the temperature in the room rising, until she could feel the sweat running down her face and making the rest of her feel uncomfortable. She kept up her onslaught, as Constance didn't seem to be moving much, if at all. She could see the red Locus growing, though, and made sure she was ready for anything.

   The attack suddenly cut off, but the temperature was still stifling. "Locus Inferno 'Supernova'!" she declared, a card becoming briefly visible in the Locus. As it faded out, the orb moved in front of Constance's chest, as the other three began orbiting her torso. Letting her sword drift next to her, she held out both hands, focusing on the locus, which glowed brighter than the other three. From the orb, a sheet of flame coiled out and wrapped around her, becoming a large ball of flame that expanded rapidly, turning from white to red, before slowly shrinking and scattering fire in all directions.

   Reimu carefully sidestepped the initial burst, before a more patterned rotation of fire began emanating from the miniature sun before her, Constance somehow visible in its core the entire time. The fire, in the meantime, seemed odd to her. It felt like it had the intensity of the Yatagarasu in Hell she fought recently, but with far less mayhem, almost like the precision of the human phoenix from the Imperishable Night incident. This is a deadly combo...if she just wanted to win from the beginning, why didn't she try this? It's too damn hot...and it feels like it's only getting warmer...

   As she watched, she confirmed her suspicion that the sun was indeed growing as more fire was being thrown from it, the exact opposite of what one would expect. Soon the intensity of the blazes peaked, and the sun stopped growing. Reimu had a good idea of the pattern by now: three trails of fire in a circle rotating counterclockwise, three running clockwise, alternating columns that could easily pin her in a small space if she wasn't careful, and sporadic fireballs that flew with no rhyme or reason. However, they didn't seem to radiate heat any more than she could feel from the room, which was making her start to feel ill, as if she had been sitting in the sun on a very hot day. Yet, if she lost focus, she would wind up fried.

   Whenever she could, Reimu would steal a glance at Constance in the star, seeing her Locus Inferno glowing brighter and brighter as the sun's surface began to shake in a manner akin to boiling. And yet, through the haze entering her mind, she was sure she could hear the spell weakening. She just had to last a little longer...Wait, why's it getting chillier in here...and is the sun shrinking now?!

   Before her eyes, the fireballs ceased, maintaining a tight orbit around the star, which decreased in size, before Constance spread her arms wide, and the fire rushed out, quickly expanding far beyond the star's former diameter. Noting that the star wasn't stopping, Reimu turned and dashed away from the exploding star. So this is what she meant by supernova! She could feel the heat catching up to her, even though she was pushing herself to go as fast as possible. Taking a chance to look behind her, it looked like the sun had consumed the entire hall behind her, and was still devouring the space she was trying to quickly leave behind. Wracking her brain, she couldn't think of a single spellcard she owned that could save her from the encroaching wall of fire.

   The heat had once again reached stifling levels, and Reimu could feel herself becoming fatigued and slowing ever so gradually. She could hardly feel her legs, and the heat only kept rising. Gotta keep going...gotta keep moving...can't let fire...catch me... she thought, hardly able to even focus on her thoughts and keep her eyes open at the same time. At long last, the heat stopped rising, and Reimu could feel the cold air begin to cool her limbs down. Soon enough her thoughts were clear again, and she checked to see if she was still in one piece. The soles of her shoes looked like they melted off, and her socks felt singed, but nothing seemed missing, much to her gratitude.

   "Ah ah ah, no time for resting now. We're nowhere near finished," she heard from in front of her as her intuition tuned her in to move out of the way. As she did, she opened her eyes, not even realizing she had them closed, and saw the end of a bolt of lightning fly past her. Half expecting to see the storm spirit, she turned to see the princess again, this time with the golden Locus above the other three, her Locus Inferno looking noticeably smaller than the other three now. The blade was still floating by her side, and she seemed to be directing multiple forks of lightning with her free hand as she spawned more with this Locus. Unlike the fire columns, the lightning was far more erratic, curving and moving much faster.

   "Please...five minutes, that last card...was rough," Reimu managed between gasps of air and maneuvering past lightning bolts.

   "You give no chance to avoid danmaku, and I give no chance for you to rest. I think this is perfectly fair."

   "You're still on that? Grow up, it's in the past now! I haven't used a single homing amulet against you since."

   "Is that you trying to prove a point to me, or did you realize I was right?"

   "That's not the point! At least have better control of the temperature of your danmaku if you're going to throw another attack at me right away!"

   "Like you just said, that's not the point of the attack. It is meant to fatigue so lightning seems like a much more impossible obstacle, especially given its speed. Although, I have found a much more...creative...use for it," she said, cutting off the barrage and growing the yellow orb like the red one before it. However, this time she held Tearfang in her free hand, and held the locus out, towards Reimu. From behind her, what must have been hundreds of lightning bolts flew into Tearfang, guided through Constance's form and into her hand holding the card. "Locus Dynamo 'Gamma Spark'!"
« Last Edit: July 03, 2014, 06:28:55 pm by an unmatched sock »

an unmatched sock

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Re: Absolution of the Requiem
« Reply #29 on: July 03, 2014, 06:31:27 pm »
   Spark?! As she watched, she could definitely see a glowing orb appearing in her foe's hand, slowly growing. She looked back and forth, trying to find somewhere to hide, only to see desolation from the previous card. Most of the columns near the center of the miniature supernova were melted away, the damage lessening the closer to her the card got, reminding her of the hell raven's lack of self-control. Her eyes lit up as she remembered from that very incident a trick Yukari had taught her before she went down against her will to the Underground. She grabbed a familiar and waited.

   Constance swung her sword, changing her posture so she held the sword to the side as the lightning stopped, the Locus Dynamo almost too bright to look at, while the other three began whirling faster around it. With a triumphant cry, Constance let loose its power, and Reimu shattered her familiar, sacrificing it to float out of reality temporarily, something that would ordinarily take either drastic measures or a lot of concentration and preparation time to do. She darted to the left as a beam that makes Marisa's Master Spark look puny cut through the air. Even only anchored to reality, she could still feel the heat radiating from the beam. As she exited it, she could see walls of danmaku flying out between the beam and a cone of lasers. Moving past it were faster walls of smaller danmaku, with a thinner laser cone surrounding that. Outside of this cone, there was nothing. Knowing she didn't have much time left until she phased back into reality, she positioned herself directly behind Constance, dropping a new yin-yang orb. She couldn't replace her familiar just yet, but she still had other tricks.

   The beam finally stopped, and smoke could be seen from Constance's hand. "Heh, too easy. Twisting electricity and compacting it into a beam of gamma rays...and that was unfocused, too, not to mention lowered to danmaku standards. I'm not surprised that she was obliterated, though."

   Feeling herself snap back into the material, she reared back and kicked the orb with all of her might while shouting "Surprise!" Constance turned, her hand still smoking and her eyes widening as the orb slammed into her chest, sending her plummeting to the ground yet again with a sickening crunch, leaving thin cracks in the ground around the impact.

   "You slimy little...how did you avoid that?!" Constance cried, tearing herself from the ground, pure malice plastered across her face.

   "Trade secret. I'll just say a good acquaintance taught me how to do that. What's with you ripping off someone else's card, anyway?"

   "I observed your witch friend and the flower youkai who made the spell first. The witch's was weak, and it didn't feel like the youkai's was at full potential. So, I decided to try and make my own using my own power source. For a first official test, I'd call it a success." She finally stood up, and brushed herself off. Still, she didn't look like the battle was taking a toll on her. "Also, are you going to keep throwing me into things? You're putting an awful lot of force behind your attacks. It's irritating."

   "Really? I'll just have to keep it up, then."

   "Oh, by the way. Another rule of combat; don't get too caught up in the banter." She raised her arm again, and Reimu saw the same white light in her hands and dashed to the side as another Spark ripped the very air behind her. The second cone fanned out and trapped her, with waves of danmaku between them. Being in the physical plane for this blast, she could feel the heat from the beam, but it didn't feel as bad as before. "I must be used to it, then," she reasoned as she carefully maneuvered in the small gaps between the relentless, large, oval-shaped bullets between the beams.

   She saw her chance as the spark began to drop, as Constance was trying to ready another. She threw two large amulets wide to her right and left before using her knowledge of boundaries to teleport directly over Constance's head. She brought a handful of needles down, which she batted away with her bare hand before cutting two amulets while the others struck home. "You're making me cross by not just standing still and letting me hit you. Your attacks are growing weaker, and I haven't even started!" Constance boasted, trying to cut at Reimu, who backed out of the way and threw a blue border in front of her. "Now you're trying a defensive approach? This will be too easy."

   As Constance started to drift forward, her blade held high to cut at the border while her Locus charged for another attack, Reimu couldn't help but start grinning. "So, Miss High, Dark, and Mighty, didn't you notice something different yet?" She paused, waiting for Constance's attention to be focused on her. "Remember what my amulets normally do when they strike?"

   The princess thought for a second before her eyes went wide, and the shrine maiden commanded the amulets, still stuck to her back, to detonate. The force of the explosion knocked Constance into the barrier, which began shocking her with spiritual power, which she didn't seem to have resistance to. Letting out a horrid shriek, the border did not let her go until it expended its power and faded away, leaving Constance staggered, but still airborne, her flesh turned mostly to shadow and trying to mend itself. The disguise was now patchwork at best, parts of her legs and arms staying pitch-black, as well as half of her face, the shadowy half not even showing a pupil in its eye. Looking down, Reimu saw what Constance was ignoring, despite it being her spell: the Locus was still charging power for another Spark, but Constance wasn't releasing it, making it wobble around, dangerously unstable. Meanwhile, Constance tried to dash at Reimu once again. "Clever, but that won't stop me! I will not rest until you are begging for mer-"

   Another explosion shook the palace, along with the sound of a breaking spellcard. The initial shockwave knocked Reimu back a few feet, but ultimately didn't come into contact with her. Lightning crackled in the leftover cloud, and Constance had her Loci shift so the blue one was at the top. Without missing a beat, Constance held it high and shouted "Locus Brumal 'Comet Borealis'!"

   Instantly, the temperature plummeted to near freezing, the sudden temperature change shattering many windows in the hall, stained glass showering outside and revealing the night to them. Reimu could feel the change immediately, folding her arms as her teeth chattered. Her foe, however, looked unchanged as ice began freezing to her, forming a massive spiked shell, at least as large as the star she had formed earlier. The ball of ice then moved, seemingly on its own, leaving bright multicolored bullets in its wake. After a short time, these bullets moved from their frozen state to try and rain down onto the shivering maiden.

   Reimu threw a few needles at the makeshift comet, seeming to not do anything but stick to it, which then froze to the comet. She crossed her arms, teleporting out of the ice chunk's way before it smashed into her. She watched it collide high on a column attached only to the ceiling, flying through it as if it were nothing, causing the rest of the pillar to collapse into rubble. She decided that she needed concussive force in order to do anything, and switched to her pink talismans before ducking through the aurora-like wave of bullets coming at her.

   The talismans, although not creating more ice like her needles did, seemed to be largely ineffective unless they were focused on one spot. Yet, she was finding her maneuverability weakened from the cold, her joints still aching from the temperature shift. The comet whizzed past her again, close enough that Reimu could see part of one of her needles sticking out of it and could have grabbed it. Yeah, if I wanted my arm ripped from its socket, she thought bitterly. Continuing her assault, making sure the comet passed as close as possible so she could focus on chipping it away in one spot, she was finding room to maneuver decreasing as the aurora enclosed around her.

   The comet, suffering from deep gouges from Reimu's attacks, did not slow at all. If anything, it only became faster. Taking a gamble, Reimu threw a wall of large talismans, like when she knocked Constance back earlier. They all struck the comet, shards of ice flying off, revealing Constance in its slightly hollow core. Drawing another group of talismans, she tried to line herself up with the shattered portion, and let fly as the comet was about to make impact. Three of the four struck Constance, doing no visible damage, while one created another hole in it on the other side. Instead of flying away, though, Reimu tucked her arms in as close to her body as possible, and dove into the hole in the comet, passing right past Constance and exiting the other side completely unscathed. She didn't even get to see her reaction to this maneuver.

   Not even giving herself enough time to pat herself on the back, Reimu immediately spun around and threw everything she could that wasn't a spell or her yin-yang orb at the comet, which had already turned and was returning. Despite the furious spin the comet had now, plenty of her attacks were finding their mark in the icy shell. She flew around the comet, only to collide back-first into a bullet in the aurora trail. The sudden burning sensation distracting her from both the cold and the battle, she looked back up to see the comet racing towards her.

   Unable to correctly re-coordinate herself, the comet - luckily a flat portion of it, not a spike of ice - slammed into her, sticking her to its surface before flinging her into the rubble of a column. The world feeling like it was spinning around her, she could hardly register her familiars still firing at her foe, signalling her position. Opening her eyes and focusing through the blur, she could see a blue sphere about to become quite well acquainted with her body.

   "Shit."

   The only thing her brain could piece together before the comet made direct impact, shattering along with the card, her familiars dropping to the ground, motionless. Constance landed shortly after, having thrown the comet at the shrine maiden. "I told you, human. I really didn't want to have to go this far, but at least now it's over." Watching the familiars turn grey and slowly become transparent as they faded out of existence, Constance couldn't help but smile in victory. Somewhere beneath the pile of ice and stone was the self-proclaimed defender of Gensokyo, and her only true opposition. She turned away, grasping Tearfang out of the air, before feeling something stirring behind her.

   "No...Impossible!"

   She wheeled around to see her supposedly vanquished foe using her danmaku to clear the debris off of her, her outfit severely damaged, yet not to the point of being too revealing. Her knuckles gripped around her gohei were white from the intensity of her grasp, and Constance, for what might be the first time, could feel fear welling in her heart. "It can't be...no ordinary human should be able to survive such an impact! Your familiars even ceased to exist! You should be dead!"

   "Well guess what, bitch. I'm not. And now I'm not going to hold back. You brought this on yourself, just so you know."

   Recomposing herself, Constance adjusted her grip on her sword and took a deep breath. "No holding back. I won't object to this." With that, she held her Loci up to her chest, condensing them into a tight orbit around the green Locus. "Locus Aeterna 'Controller's Birthright'." She then squeezed her hand shut, the Loci shattering in her hand, the mist left over being rapidly drawn into her. A sphere of darkness enveloped all of her except for her eyes, before settling back into a humanoid shape again, the flesh-like color fading in once more until she looked like how she did before the battle began. Unlike then, however, hate and malice are the only emotions visible in her eyes. Her cape fluttering behind her from the sheer power radiating from her, she twirled her sword in her hand before assuming a battle-ready position. "You want a memorable fight? I will not disappoint you. If you are hoping for a fight you can win, then I am sorry, but you will be disappointed. But don't worry, the disappointment will be short-lived. Now, do me a favor and just lay down and die, Hakurei."

   Reimu did not respond, but for simply holding her gohei out to her side, the charms fanning forward from it as amulets began forming between them. "Hakurei Technique 'Omni-Sealing Blade'!" she called out, as the charms finished making the shape of a large sword, the charms and seals finishing the blade's substance. She gripped her newfound sword in her hands, getting a feel for it.

   Eyes wide, Constance's stance drooped. "How long has she been able to...this girl is far beyond ordinary. It is a shame I must eviscerate you!" she yelled, getting over her initial shock and charging forward, blade at the ready. Reimu responded in kind, and the blades of curses and seals collided, blasting back light, loose rubble. Only as the shockwave began to settle down did Constance notice the shrine maiden's sleeves were gone. She broke the contact, before trying to swing upward to knock the sword out of Reimu's hands, but Reimu managed to stop her attack from making any progress. Other similar attacks had similar results, and Reimu wasn't reacting in any way other than gritting her teeth and fighting on. "You...are skilled with the blade?!"

   "No, I'm not. I've rarely tried using a sword, but my intuition and experience from my bloodline give me an unbeatable advantage," she cried, retaliating every single blow and even dealing a few herself.

   The two kept performing this deadly dance, a new shockwave arising every time the swords collided, until a sharp cracking sound could be heard. It only worsened as the fight went on, Constance somehow unable to touch Reimu while sustaining several blows herself. "Why...can't...I...hit you?! This blade is supposed to have infallible accura-..."

   Mistress...please stop...painful... Finally looking at the sword, they could both see cracks running the blade's length, the seals overpowering the curses within Tearfang, breaking it apart. Seeing an opportunity, Reimu tried jabbing her sword, only for Constance to parry it aside, causing an audible shout of pain from the sword itself. Constance jumped back and threw the sword, clanging on the ground beside a downed pillar. Shortly after, Tearfang's spirit form materialized from the blade before collapsing to the ground unconscious, the cracks in the blade mirrored on her body.

   Reimu turned to see a furious Constance bearing down upon her. "Look at what you've done, you human filth! Tearfang was just a servant, she didn't deserve you sealing her curses and hurting her!" Ducking out of the way, Reimu could hear the crunch of stone beneath Constance's fist. She tried bringing her sword down on her, but Constance slapped it out of her hand faster than she could react. She watched her gohei spin across the hall, the seals falling out of it since it was not in her hands anymore.

   The fight was now on the ground, Constance flitting about at insane speeds, practically forsaking ranged attacks barring an occasional burst of fire, lightning, or trying to freeze Reimu in place. The shrine maiden was now entirely on the defensive, hardly able to dodge, let alone block any of the incoming attacks. She drew some needles, placing them between her fingers like claws, and tried to retaliate.

   The Shadowed had no problems dodging her blows, and seemed to be biding her time for Reimu to get tired of trying to hit her, or so she assumed. Every punch was to her body, and each time she turned out of the way in the blink of an eye just as it was about to land. After the third one, Constance brought her elbow down on Reimu's arm, and a sharp pain shot up to her shoulder. She had no doubt her bone was at best fractured, if not broken, but all she could feel was adrenaline as she kept trying to strike. Yet, after more failed attempts, Constance struck her in the back, sending her skidding forward on her stomach. As she came to rest, a purple piece of paper slid into her narrowed field of view. She picked it up and looked at it; it was the card Yukari gave her! She had completely forgotten about it. Rising to her feet, she turned to see Constance briskly walking towards her. Once she was right next to her, about to strike once again, Reimu jumped forward and wheeled around, trying to throw a handful of needles, only for them to stop in midair...and her arm to stop moving. She couldn't move any part of her body except for her face and hands, apparently, and she strained against her invisible shackles.

   "Fool. I control shadows, and a human body is but a shell for them. You are entirely under my control." She lowered her arm, and Reimu felt her knees begin to buckle beneath her until she collapsed, unable to stay on her feet. Despite trying to mentally yank at her body, she couldn't move anything except for her hands, which she was thankful for. As she snapped back to attention to see where Constance was, she felt a finger below her chin, lifting it to look into the eyes of the Grand Shadow Princess. "Any last words before I end this permanently?" she asked, wreathing her other hand in fire.

   "Actually, yes." Reimu flipped the spellcard from where she had it pinched, hidden behind her palm. "Boundary 'Balance of Motion and Stillness'!" she declared, before suddenly Constance was being blown back by seemingly nothing. It looked like high winds were whipping around Constance, while it was eerily silent around her. She rose back to her feet while holding the card up, barely able to keep it stable enough to work.

   She was running out of options, and definitely out of time. How long have I been here, anyway? Checking to see that Constance was struggling to make headway, Reimu chanced a look out of one of the shattered windows. The sky was a very, very dark blue, but not completely dark, which indicated the incoming dawn. She wasn't entirely sure how she could have been occupied by a danmaku battle all night, but the evidence was clear. Looking back at Constance, it looked like she was trying to anchor herself down. Good, that gives me a bit of time...so fighting her hand-to-hand won't work, she's just too fast. Danmaku is out of the question, she's not particularly fond of it, especially now that Tearfang's partially broken...how am I supposed to beat her? I can hardly move, this spell is taking up too much energy, but I need to do something! She doesn't seem to be able to be tired, but she has to be...maybe if I can hurt her enough in a short amount of time, it might do something. But how?

   While still racking her brain trying to think of solutions, she noticed Constance holding up what looked like a shield made of her Loci, blocking the wind that was pushing her back. She eventually managed to make it to the small circle of silence around Reimu, where she dropped the shield. "The end," was all she said, rearing back a fist wreathed in white-hot flames. Reimu tried breaking the card, and felt it snap and the paper she had in her hand fade away, but it was too late to try to dodge. She looked up, ready to accept her fate due to her inability to act.

   No. This is not the end.

   As the blow should have landed, her punch met nothing but empty air, despite Reimu still standing before her. The shrine maiden could feel something in her mind click, a defense mechanism she's only rarely had to use. The air began filling with amulets, and colored orbs began bouncing around the cloud made of them. Her mind was in a fog, but a single name stood out, and she felt herself speak without her consciously telling herself to: "Fantasy Nature."

   Bewilderment on her face, Constance tried using her elemental prowess on the opaque form in front of her, managing to only break a few amulets, releasing more colored orbs. As one, they all began swirling around Reimu, who held her arms to her sides, glowing brightly as the rising sun began to shine into the palace, directly onto the shrine maiden. All of the amulets turned to her enemy, and began launching rapidly at her. Constance could feel the amulets' relentless sting, and threw her Loci before her to be a shield once again, pouring her power into it to outlast this attack. She could feel herself being pushed back, but other than the shield, she was helpless.

   To make matters worse for her, the colored orbs began streaming into her Loci, and she could feel the shield weakening. Pumping more and more energy into the shield, she took a difficult step forward, then another. She could feel sweat dripping down her face, her cape threatening to tear away from her neck, and her human disguise flickering. Whoever survived this attack would be the winner, and she knew she would win. The shield will hold. She is invincible...

   Right?

   As if to answer her question, she looked up to see Reimu charging her Yin-Yang orb, seeing it glow bright red, before she reared back and kicked it.

   The orb ground against the shield for mere seconds before it shattered like glass, continuing in its trajectory. Constance held her hands forward, her clawed fingers creating showers of sparks as the orb spun against them. Whatever it was made of, it felt like it was searing her hands as the sparks flew and it spun faster and faster. She could feel her feet also grinding against the ground as she was pushed back rapidly. Then, from some fluke of fate or miscalculation, the orb spun under her hands and crashed into her stomach, lifting her from the ground and slamming her into the wall, creating a crater in her shape in the wall. As the orb finally stopped and bounced off to return to its master, Constance looked up. The glow of the shrine maiden was so far away, and the orb pushed her all the way back this far. She was now in the wall beside her throne, a point that had seemed so far away during the battle.

   She knew she had to hurry and pry herself from the wall if she hoped to get back to Reimu before she got away. She managed to get one arm free before she looked up to see an avalanche of amulets and four intertwining streams of colorful orbs aiming for her.

   The impact was soundless. Reimu was drifting forward, still emitting the power of the Hakurei line, and the light was focused onto one point in the wall. No shrieks of agony, no cries of victory, no retaliations. The projectiles were the only motion in the entire hall. The shrine maiden could feel her last-ditch effort slowing, and gradually lowered her arms. The streams of bullets decreased until hardly anything was being shot, and Reimu could feel the chilled breeze of reality returning, and her eyes adjusting to the darkness of the room. The light finally faded, and Reimu's eyes half-shut, and she could feel woozy from using Fantasy Nature.

   The shifting of rubble came next, as the princess was slowly pushing herself out of the wall. She landed on her feet, her dress and cape in tatters. Reimu didn't look too well off either; in addition to her sleeves being removed previously, now her top was also gone, leaving only bandages wrapped across her chest. Her skirt was damaged, but still intact. She would be glad later that she had spare outfits, but for now, she was simply relishing the victory, while mentally trying to prepare herself for whatever Constance was going to do next.

   The princess finally managed to pry herself from her wall, and landed on her feet, her face somewhere between pained and livid. Reimu tried to make a more imposing stance, but she felt as though she could hardly stand. However, she noted that Constance's face was quickly changing to laughing, her human disguise still visible without any shadow to be seen. As she was laughing, she fell forward, not even catching herself. "That...was the most fun I have had in a long, long time," she said, turning herself so she could look at Reimu from the floor.

   "Fun? You...you call that fun? You were trying to kill me!"

   "Well, we needed some sort of stakes, didn't we? Gensokyo on the line was perfect. I thought for sure when the comet struck you the second time you were finished."

   "The comet was, in the end, danmaku. It hurt, yes...a lot...but I survived. Even I was surprised. I'm pretty sure...that I have quite a few injuries, thanks to you."

   "Yeah, well, I was trying to win. I just don't get it, though. I am invincible. I feel pain, but I should not have been able to be defeated so...easily. How did you manage to do it?"

   "Gensokyo is a land of beliefs. You believed you were invincible; I believed I would win. Clearly my belief was stronger. And I would suggest you not do this again. Ever. Especially not soon. I need to rest...badly..."

   "Don't worry, I need to as well. I kinda can't get up off of the ground right now, actually. The most I can do with my body is retain consciousness and speak. I can hardly feel anything from the neck down."

   "Lady Constance? Are you alright?"

   The two turned - as best they could - to the third voice, of Jozero coming from a door she was softly latching closed. "Ah, Zerotsu. I need to have a word with you, please."

   "Of course, my lady. And please don't call me by that name..."

   "Why exactly did you invite the Hakurei maiden here?"

   "Did you know I was going to have to fight this lunatic? It does feel strangely like a setup."

   The angel sighed. "Yes, my inviting you here now was on purpose. I knew you were powerful, and Constance looks for powerful challengers. If I did not, Gensokyo would have been beset. Did you tell her the plan, Constance?" She turned to the window, at the light starting to stream in. "Oh, look; the sun is rising."

   Now it was Constance's turn to sigh. "I believe I did, but to reiterate: This night...or rather, last night...on the night of a new moon, when my dark powers were at their greatest, I was going to open a great rift to the Ingress in the sky. From there, the section of my father's armada of ships that I took could then fire upon the surface, or the mere threat of them would result in Gensokyo's surrender. I was originally going to wait until the rift was opened to ask for the land's surrender, and then suddenly you show up, unbeknownst to me..." She turned to look at Tearfang, still unconscious by the broken pillar.

   "Our being here," Jozero continued, "was a large, elaborate ruse by Constance to take over Gensokyo. Bringing the ocean, my sowing despair, the perfect storm Izumi created, and even my defeat and our return to the hills were factors evaluated. I...suppose I have...grown fond...of being here in Gensokyo. Enough that I didn't want it to be conquered so...unjustly. So I staged your arrival here to stop Constance from achieving her goal. And for that," she turned to her leader. "I wholeheartedly apologize for this treason. If Reimu failed, I would have had no reason to believe Gensokyo would be worth anything. So now, I would advise we simply integrate."

   "What?!" Reimu sputtered, nearly coughing as the aches from the fight were starting to set in.

   "Oh, yeah. After tonight, there's no way I'd be able to move any of us out of here. You're going to be stuck with us for quite a while~," Constance confirmed. "Now, if you would please get out of my palace, I think both of us deserve a bit of respite after last night. And I want to go have a little chat with Yukari...that was certainly one of her spells you used right there."

   "You know Yukari?"

   "Yes. We met a while ago, and due to...circumstances...she owes my family what we call a Hundred Favors. We can ask from her whatever we want, and she has to comply or else we are allowed to simply kill her. That's how I got her to guard that one rift to the Ingress. The Favors only work for me or blood relatives, though. It's complicated. Yukari and I are a much more even match than we are."

   "So you're saying I'm stronger?" Reimu asked, a slight smirk appearing despite her injuries.

   "Not by a longshot. I'd chalk this up to luck, but whatever. Just...please leave."

   "Yeah...hopefully next time we see each other it won't...you know..."

   "Suck?"

   "Yeah. Well, bye..." With that, Reimu lifted off of the ground, floating back to the entrance as the sun continued to rise.

   "Jozero?"

   "Yes, Constance?"

   "Have your pseudo-daughters take Tearfang to her chambers. You can assist me to mine."

   "Of course." She clapped her hands, and her three elite Dark Matters appeared before them. "Take Tearfang up to her room. Carefully, please." The three nodded, and Jozero turned to the princess, still lying on the ground. Draping one of her arms over her shoulders, she rose off of the ground and carried her to the door beside the throne.

   "Oh, and Zerotsu?"

   "Hmm?"

   "Once I can move my limbs again, I'm going to kick your ass for bringing her here without permission."

   "Understood. It's good to see you're not taking your defeat too hard."

   "Who are you kidding? I'm livid right now. I'm just in too much pain to focus on that. Gensokyo is safe, and I wouldn't dare attack Reimu again until she's ready. Plus, I feel as though I need to go and fix her injuries. Her arm is definitely broken in multiple places, burns, a few broken ribs, slight internal bleeding...I haven't faced that much of a challenge since I would spar with my family...these people are extraordinarily powerful."

   Jozero sighed as she opened the ornate doors to the opulent bedroom that belonged to her master. "Good to see some things don't change with you. At least your heart is in the right place."

   "If I can't win by force, I'll just have to make myself so well-liked that I'll practically rule Gensokyo anyway. It will be much less - Just set me on my bed, and I'll be fine - violent, for sure. Publicity can be stronger than the sword."

   "Is there anything I could get for you while you're incapacitated?"

   "No, I'll be fine. But still...who knows, maybe we could be friends...the shrine maiden and I, that is. I'll stop over at her shrine in a few hours, when I can move again. She'll probably still be asleep, but whatever. You can go now, Jozero."

   "Yes, Constance." She bowed and left, closing the door behind her.

   Constance took a deep breath, clenching and unclenching her hands. "Well, Reimu...you did it. I don't know how. Frankly I don't care. But you did it. As convoluted as I thought my plan was...you still managed to turn it on its head and beat me to the punch. I'd applaud, if I could. Gensokyo is safe, all thanks to you. As usual, I suppose. I do wonder how this would have played out if one of your friends was solving the incident instead of you...oh well. That's something we'll never know, I guess. I know I'll long outlive you and many generations after you...but hopefully your comparatively short life will be as fulfilling as you can make it. Heh...listen to me, talking to myself. Well, good night, Reimu Hakurei."


   Pit...pat...pit...pat...

   In a small, homely shrine in the woods, a girl in tattered clothes wobbles inside, lights turning off and the blinds closing in a bedroom. A new outfit can be dealt with tomorrow.

   Belief is the nature of fantasy. In Gensokyo, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred enough that a small belief could have lasting repercussions. It could condemn a civilization to attack, or save the world. But for now, Reimu believes that a well-deserved rest is the most important thing in the world right now.


And with this, the main story is over!! (Sorry that it took a couple of days for the second half, the approximately three people who read it. I forgot there's a character limit and to check after it was posted. Oops!)

Thank you to all who read and supported me, despite my taking long breaks between chapters.

It's no novel, like some others have written (Dolphin Rider Koishi, Gensokyo My Beloved, to name a couple of prominent titles/personal favorites), but I think it tells enough of a story for an amateur writer.

Updates will still happen, seeing as this is technically set between UFO and TD, and there's a bit of catching up to do between then and the present.

Don't fret, though. I do have other things planned, a few shorts and even another adventure (although it will most likely be shorter than this one) and a spinoff of this one.

As always, feedback is appreciated, so feel free.

To the people in charge, I would request this not to be closed and filed away, as I will use this thread to write new things, such as the aforementioned shorts.

I know you all probably read this phrase a lot, but I feel as though now that the Absolution of the Requiem has finally ended...

See you next Phantasm!
« Last Edit: August 03, 2014, 03:27:04 am by an unmatched sock »
 

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