Author Topic: Be Carefree  (Read 1535 times)

Be Carefree
« on: June 03, 2015, 12:29:41 AM »
So a week ago I decided to try my hand at writing something longer and of higher quality than the trash I call my school essays a Touhou fanfiction. And, just like every other person, I decided that Shinmyoumaru/Youmu would be great to write about. Yesterday I finished the first chapter of my story, and here you have it! It's on fanfiction.net, too: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11287428/1/Be-Carefree

Youmu barely features in this story (so far), though. The humor, however, may leave you in stitches.
...That was a terrible pun.

Please feel free to criticize me. In fact, if you have the time, I would really appreciate it if you explained what you didn't like or absolutely hated. Being a neophyte, I need any advice I can get.

Chapter 2 won't be coming for quite a while, though. Finals are painful. :(



Today was a wonderful day at the Hakurei Shrine.

Of course, given who lived in said shrine, "wonderful" didn't mean much. Pleasant weather, a decent amount of food, some donations...these were enough to put Reimu in a good mood.

It also helped that she didn't have to sweep the grounds of the shrine herself for a while. The newest resident of the shrine had promised to take care of that.

Reimu, sitting on the steps of the shrine, sipped her tea slowly and watched as Shinmyoumaru, having used a hastily constructed side hook to attach a broom to her bowl (Reimu supposed that using such a thing as a primary means of transportation did allow its user to know what could be done with it), flitted back and forth across the stone path, humming cheerfully as the leaves and other debris cleared in her unique contraption's wake. Though Reimu had originally been skeptical about the effectiveness of such an approach, the inchling had been insistent.

"It'll work, Miss Reimu!" she had said. "I promise I'll do a good job!"

Well, at least Reimu didn't have to do anything.

Shinmyoumaru, her duty done, unhooked the broom and flew over to join Reimu, who smiled and gestured to a tiny tea cup. Although she was still unsure why Remilia gifted a miniature tea set to her, it sure came in handy here.

Absentmindedly, Reimu reached over to pat Shinmyoumaru on the head, causing the tiny sword/needle-wielding warrior to mewl happily. Reimu let a smile cross her face. It was hard not to feel any sort of attachment to little Sukuna. Even I have to admit that...

Oh, right. I'm not in this story. Anyway.

"Will anyone come by today, Miss Reimu?"

Reimu shrugged. "Depends. It's hard to say; youkai drop by all the time for no reason. Not too many humans, though."

"Except Marisa." Shinmyoumaru frowned. "She's mean."

The shrine maiden failed to stifle a laugh. "Come on! She's not that bad. You're just mad at her because you lost to her."

"Am not!" The inchling pouted. "I'm mad because she shot a big laser at me even though it was already clear who'd win! She hurt me for fun!"

"Well, that's how it is. The winner gets to do what they want."

"That's not fair..."

"Really?"

Shinmyoumaru's response was a subdued grumble.

"Reimu!"

Reimu waved. "Hello, Youmu. Haven't seen you in a while...why are you here, anyway?"

The half-phantom gardener landed in front of the torii gate. In a serious monotone, she answered, "The Hakugyokurou cherry blossom festival, of course. You should know. We invite you every year."

Reimu blinked. "Oh yeah. Right. When is it, again?"

"In a week."

"Okay." Reimu looked down at Shinmyoumaru, who'd been silent this whole time. "Do you want to go?"

"Hm?" Shinmyoumaru looked up. Youmu squeaked; she hadn't even noticed the inchling's presence. "Okay! Hi Miss Youmu!"

"H...Hello." Youmu's face was noticeably flushed. In a voice not at all similar to her usual inflection, she added, "I really should be going, Reimu. Invite Marisa and Alice for me." She then took off quickly.

"Er..." Reimu stared at Youmu's rapidly shrinking silhouette in the distance. "Well, that was interesting."

"Who was that?" Shinmyoumaru asked, fascinated.

"She's Youmu Konpaku, gardener of Hakugyokurou, which is in the Netherworld. She's a nice person, but kinda... uh, what's the word? Na?ve. Why do you ask?"

"She has a sword!" Shinmyoumaru enthused gleefully. "I wanna fight her!"

Reimu snickered before quickly disguising her laugh as a cough. "Uh, I wouldn't do that. She's rather strong..."

"Which is why I should fight her."

An exasperated sigh was the shrine maiden's reply. "Well, I'm pretty sure she has stuff to do during the festival, so you'll have to find some other time..."

"Actually, I think the festival will be a perfect time," a voice whispered into Reimu's ear.

"Gah!" Reimu yelled, startling Shinmyoumaru. She turned to regard her surprise visitor with a look of indignation. "Yukari! What the hell!"

Said visitor, head sticking out from a gap, snickered. Reappearing seated next to Reimu, she asked playfully, "Can't I say hello to my favorite shrine maiden~? And her adorable new pet?"

"I'm not a pet!" Shinmyoumaru protested.

"But you're so cute! I just want to take you home with me~"

"Yukari, you're scaring her. Can't you act your age?"

"Hey!" Yukari pouted. "I'm younger than you!"

"You're not seventeen, Yukari. Everyone knows that."

"Your pet doesn't."

"Actually," Shinmyoumaru began, "aren't you the Great Youkai Sage? Some of my ancestor's stories are about you..."

"Dammit," Yukari grumbled. "But anyway! I can arrange for Ran to take over Youmu's duties. That way, little Shinmyoumaru here can get the duel she wants."

Reimu's eyebrow arched. "And why would you do this...?"

"Out of the goodness of my heart, of course! I would never have an ulterior motive, would I?"

"...Okay, one, that innocent stare looks extremely creepy on you, and two, you always have an ulterior motive. Come on, out with it."

"Fine." Yukari's expression shifted to a flat one. She looked into the distance, where Youmu had gone. "To put it simply, Youmu's developed this weird...mentality. I'm honestly not certain how she became this way... she seems to have resolved to distance herself from others and instead fully absorb herself in her training. She's preventing herself from having friends, basically, and Yuyuko's worried about how this behavior might affect her. We essentially want to force her to interact with others, and the festival is a great opportunity to do so."

"That doesn't sound like a good idea..."

"Really?" Yukari looked back at Reimu. "She reminds me of you, in a way. Obsessed with becoming stronger, refusing to form constructive relationships with others...I can't say you lived a very fulfilling life back then, Reimu."

Reimu looked solemn. "I'd rather not think of those days. I didn't know better, though; I was still little."

"For her species, Youmu is but an infant."

"I know. I'm just saying you should let her figure all this out on your own. It's a part of growing up."

"Unfortunately, a part of growing up that she must skip. Unlike you when you were young, Youmu has responsibilities. She serves Lady Yuyuko and thus the Netherworld as a whole. I'm sure you can imagine the importance of such a duty. And also, she is quite impressionable and immature. You never had that problem." Yukari chuckled. "But Youmu really is still a child. It is dangerous for someone like her to bottle up her emotions and embrace solitude. We must convince her of the benefits of company before it's too late."

"Youmu's not immature, she's serious and formal all the time..."

"She is, yes, but that does not mean she is mature. I actually suspect that her aloof exterior hides a very kind and soft heart. Much like you."

Reimu blushed furiously. "Can you not flirt with me now!?"

"It's true! Right, Shinmyoumaru?"

"Mhm!" Shinmyoumaru nodded. "Plus she smells nice!"

Reimu slowly buried her face in her hands. "...Can we talk about Youmu, please? She's the one who needs help."

"Of course, my dear." Yukari giggled. "I wasn't lying. She really tries her best to be distant and detached. You were like that too; you still try to be, sometimes."

"That's a little unfair. Visitors drop by all the time now."

"And would you say that making these new friends has made you happier than you were before?"

After a moment of thought, Reimu nodded. "...Yeah. I see your point. You're worried that her current path will lead to loneliness in the future. I get it. But what does this have to do with Shinmyoumaru?"

"She has the best chance of befriending Youmu, of course."

"Me?" Shinmyoumaru looked surprised. "Why? She didn't even notice me!"

"Oh, but she did. You didn't notice her blushing? She found you absolutely adorable!"

"I'm not adorable! I'm probably older than she is!"

"But you're so tiny!"

"And tall people find me adorable because I'm short?" Shinmyoumaru was irate.

There was an awkward lull in the conversation before Reimu spoke up. "...Um, yes. I don't know why, though. It's probably in our nature."

Shinmyoumaru looked abashed. "Oh. I always thought everyone was making fun of me. But if that's all it is..." She stood up as tall as she could, a determined look on her face. "I'll do it! I'll fight her, and she and I will become the best friends in the whole world! Count on it!"

The effect of this bold declaration was completely ruined by Yukari's reaction, which was immediately hugging the inchling as tightly to her chest as possible. "Awwwwwww~! I'm definitely taking you home with me?"

"Yukari! Put her down!"



Yukari rubbed the sore spot on her head, a pout still on her face. "Meanie."

Reimu casually set her gohei down, Shinmyoumaru sitting on her lap. "So... back to what you were saying. Youmu has issues. You want Shinmyoumaru to get her to...open up, or whatever. I have no part in this, is that right?"

"Besides bringing Shinmyoumaru with you to the festival? No. Try to make sure that no one disturbs them, though, once the duel begins. I'll be keeping an eye on...other attendees."

"Any possible incidents?"

"Unlikely...though Seija's still out there somewhere." At this reminder, Shinmyoumaru drooped her head, ashamed. Yukari quickly continued, "It's not your fault, Shinmyoumaru. She tricked you. And if she tries anything at the festival..." Yukari's smile became ever so slightly sadistic. "I suppose I could bend the spell card rules just a little."

Reimu gulped. The only thing worse than Yukari when she wasn't being serious was Yukari when she was being serious.

"But let's not worry about that for now, shall we?" In no time at all, Yukari was back to happy/borderline ditzy. "You two enjoy your time there. Oh, Reimu, make sure to drink plenty of sake, too; we all want to see your dancing again?"

Shinmyoumaru looked up, suddenly paying full attention. "Her what?"

"Let's not bring that up," Reimu interrupted quickly. "Is there anything else we need to know?"

"Not much. Maybe come with me to the Netherworld tomorrow morning? I'm sure Yuyuko will want to see your pet."

"I'm not a pet!"

"Will do." Reimu reached for her gohei. "Now get out of here."

"Reimu! So unkind?"

Yukari quickly ducked into a gap as Reimu sent a Yin-Yang Orb flying at her. The shrine maiden sighed. Yukari was one of those friends that seemed to incite frustration more than any other emotion.

"...Miss Reimu?"

"Hm?"

"Why do they want to see your dancing?"

The sound of Reimu's forehead meeting her palm was followed by a groan.



"Reimu."

A grumble.

"Reimu, wake up."

"Miss Reimu! Miss Yukari's here!"

"...five more minutes..."

"Youmu just left for shopping duty. Yuyuko's expecting us."

"Miss Reimu!"

"...tired..."

"Reimu, get up or I'll make you."

"...make me..."

Reimu instantly regretted her challenge as several gallons of Antarctic water poured onto her face. With a shriek, she sat bolt upright, a simultaneously murderous and sleep-deprived expression directed at her most unwelcome morning guest.

"I'm going to f?" She coughed. "I'm going to kill you, Yukari!"

"Funny you say that," Yukari commented. "Since we're going to the Netherworld. Get dressed, now. We'll be waiting for you outside. Shinmyoumaru, come with me."

"Yes, Miss Yukari!"

After a few minutes and a handful of muttered choice words, Reimu stumbled out of the shrine in her normal miko garb, hair glistening and teeth chattering. "You motherf?"

"Language, Reimu!" Yukari looked shocked. "We're about to meet the queen of the Netherworld! Compose yourself!"

Before Reimu could deliver a reply, Yukari snapped her fingers, and the trio found themselves standing in front of Hakugyokurou, surrounded by the seemingly endless garden of cherry blossom trees. The smallest member of the group, having never been to Hakugyokurou, looked around in wonder.

"You should have shown her the front steps," Reimu said. Just to spite Yukari, she added, "Idiot."

"Time is of the essence. You know how far the steps are from the actual shrine. Not to mention how long it takes to walk up those steps. Plus, it's best for you and Shinmyoumaru not to stay out here for too long. It's rather chilly today...but then again, it's always somewhat cool here."

"Yukari! Reimu! You're here!"

A pink-haired woman waved enthusiastically at her visitors.

Yukari waved back. "Hello, Yuyuko! Sorry for being late. Reimu overslept as usual?"

"How would you know?" Reimu muttered.

"Do you really want to know the answer to that question?"

"...Never mind."

"Yukari knows everything about everyone, you know," Yuyuko piped up helpfully. "But anyway. Who is it, Yukari? Who's going to marry my sweet little Youmu~?"

"What?" Shinmyoumaru squeaked. "I'm going to marry her?"

Yuyuko looked around, confused. "Who was that?"

"I'm right here!" was the indignant reply. "Look down!"

"Oh?" Yuyuko stopped, fascinatedly staring at Shinmyoumaru, who slowly felt more and more uncomfortable.

"Um...is there something wrong?"

"You're so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!" For the second time in less than 1500 words, the poor inchling found herself face to face with a rather large bosom against her will.

"Help!" She cried to Reimu. "I can't breathe!"

"Yuyuko. Let her go."

Yuyuko pouted and hugged the inchling even more tightly. "No!"

"Yuyuko, dear, Reimu is very protective of her little pet. She might hurt you..."

"Oh, is this Reimu's pet?" Yuyuko placed said "pet" on the ground.

"I am Shinmyoumaru Sukuna, descendant of Issun-Boushi and last of the inchlings! And I am not a pet!"

"Is that needle of yours?"

"It's the Shining Needle Sword! It's the best sword you'll ever see in your li?I mean...uh..."

Yuyuko giggled happily. "It's alright. You're cute so I'll let it slide~" As Shinmyoumaru facepalmed, the queen whose tendencies were not befitting of her status turned to her longtime friend. "I'm assuming she and Youmu will fight at some point?"

Reimu and Shinmyoumaru stared. "How did you?"

Yukari nodded. "Indeed. Please inform Youmu that Ran will take over her duties for this year."

"Can Ran really handle everything by herself? She and Youmu usually split the cooking and still just barely make enough food for everyone on time."

"I hired two harvest goddesses for that. Besides, we all know that the food only even comes close to running out because of you." Yukari laughed. "You should eat less, or you'll get fat."

Yuyuko looked horrified. "No I won't! Eating is good for you! Uuu..." She began to tear up.

Shinmyoumaru, as one might expect, had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on. "...Miss Reimu?"

"Hm?"

"Is Miss Yuyuko really the queen of the Netherworld?"

"Yes I am!" Yuyuko responded cheerfully. "It's nice to meet you!"

"Yes..." Reimu sighed. "Yes she is. Look, let's go inside, shall we? It's a bit cold out here."

"Oh." Yuyuko suddenly remembered that they were, in fact, still outside, and that Hakugyokurou wasn't necessarily the warmest place in Gensokyo. "Sure. Follow me!"

As Yuyuko practically skipped back into the main building, Yukari trailing behind her with a smile, Reimu felt the need to clarify. "Yuyuko's not always airheaded. She can be cunning when she wants to be. Plus she's powerful; I mean, she can kill anyone and anything at will. Scary stuff."

"But why her? Couldn't whoever's in charge have picked someone else? Like Miss Yukari? Or another dead person?"

"First of all, making Yukari the queen of anywhere is not a good idea. As for another dead person..." Reimu's lips curled upward into a sad smile as she looked out into the distance at a massive cherry tree, the largest in Hakugyokurou's grounds. "Funny you mention that. It's not my place to say. Perhaps one day, not today, you should ask her about not only what she can do, but also why she does it."

"But?"

"Nope. I won't be answering any of your questions. Ask her yourself someday. Let's head inside. They're probably wondering where we are."

As it turns out, Reimu and Shinmyoumaru arrived at the sitting room just as Yukari finished talking to Yuyuko about the scheme. Or maybe the topic was something else beforehand. Maybe a completely unrelated scheme (everyone knew that Yukari always had too many of those running through her head). Only they would ever know, anyway.

"...I don't doubt that this plan will work. If Youmu really finds Shinmyoumaru that cute?which everyone does?" Yuyuko winked at the inchling, who had hopped onto the table next to a seated Reimu. "?then there should be no problem asking her to duel. There's just one problem."

"What, exactly?" Yukari inquired, though it seemed as though she already knew what the flaw was.

"You must realize that Shinmyoumaru will probably lose. You know how Youmu never holds back in combat; she is eager to prove herself at every opportunity. To whom, no one knows. Perhaps me. Perhaps Youki. Either way, if our little warrior here fails to put up even a decent fight, then?believe me?this so-called 'duel' will be over in a heartbeat."

"True," Yukari mused. "And chances are she'll never talk to Shinmyoumaru again. She detests people who overstep their bounds, and losing miserably in a duel requested by oneself would definitely earn her disdain. Bearing that in mind, Shinmyoumaru, do you still want to?"

"Of course I do!" Shinmyoumaru interrupted. "Who do you think I am!? I'm not afraid of losing!"

Yuyuko chuckled. "Well, that settles it. It's been nice to meet you, Shinmyoumaru! Come by again sometime, OK? I want to give you another hug~!"

Shinmyoumaru shuddered and inched (totally unintentional pun) a tiny bit farther away from her.



"Haaaaaaah!"

One slash.

"Take this!"

Reimu watched disbelievingly as Shinmyoumaru's tiny needle left a deep incision across yet another tree. Any doubts that she had about the diminutive swordswoman were pretty much gone by this point.

Marisa applauded as Shinmyoumaru, tired and sweating, collapsed next to Reimu, who offered her some more tea. "Wow! You're really strong!"

Shinmyoumaru gave her a dirty look that still looked endearing. "Get away from me."

"What?"

Reimu smirked. "She's mad because you used your Master Spark on her even though you were ahead. Really, Marisa, I thought better of you."

"Aw, come on. Seriously?" Marisa laughed. "It's part of incident solving. I do that to everyone."

"But she's little, Marisa. Come on. I can understand if you did that to Seija, but..."

"How was I supposed to know that Seija was the troublemaker? The Stage 6 boss has always been the main villain, and you know it!"

"Maybe the fact that she was the size of a human child and seemed to think she was tall should have tipped you off?"

"Enough!" Shinmyoumaru yelled. "All I want is some sort of apology, is that so wrong?"

"Maybe not...but I'm not giving one. I'm Marisa, after all!" As if that were solid logic. "What are you gonna do?"

"You...you..." Words could not describe how irritated Shinmyoumaru was. "You jerk! I demand a rematch! Right here, right now! I'll show you!"

The witch grinned. "You really think you can beat me? You're either really brave or really stupid. I'll prove it's the latter!"

"Well..." Reimu said, unsure what to think. "Today's a day of surprises, isn't it?"

"Indeed it is, my little Reimu~"

Reimu dropped her teacup.

"Yukari, I will shove my gohei so far up your?"



And let's end it right there :D
How was it? Nothing above mediocre, I would assume, but I'm quite proud of it.

Schneeless

  • I need to stop changing my name
Re: Be Carefree
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 06:28:47 PM »
I really like your story! It's fairly lighthearted and has a lot of funny moments. I also like the more serious parts of the story as well. A well written Chapter 1 in my opinion(way better than mine anyway xD).

I'm not really an experienced writer so I can't really provide you with much criticism, nor do I see anything terribly wrong at the moment. However, I'll be sure to edit my post if I do see something that bothers me.

With that being said, best of luck on the finals! Keep on writing, I'll be reading :).

Re: Be Carefree
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2015, 12:47:04 AM »
Sorry for taking so long! Here's Chapter 2. I don't expect it to be better than Chapter 1, but I hope you enjoy! And do let me know what critiques you have.



"Lady Yuyuko!" Youmu called out as she landed in front of Hakugyokurou, a large bag of groceries in each hand. "I have returned."

Instantly a blue and white (and pink) blur zoomed out of the shrine and embraced the gardener. "Welcome back, Youmu~! Did anything interesting happen?"

While before Youmu might have reacted strongly to this display of affection, this time she barely even flinched. "No, Lady Yuyuko. Please get off of me."

Yuyuko pouted. "It's been so long since you've hugged me back, Youmu. You really should relax a little more!"

"I will keep that in mind, Lady Yuyuko." Breaking herself free from her mistress, she stepped into the main building and put down her purchases.

"Oh, by the way, Yukari, Reimu, and her little friend dropped by just now." Yuyuko giggled happily. "She's so cute! I think we should ask Reimu if we can adopt her. Wouldn't that be nice, Youmu?"

"...Y-Yes, milady."

"Of course~! I'm glad you think the same way!" As Yuyuko floated off, humming cheerfully, Youmu sighed, relieved that her fierce blush remained unnoticed.

Why does thinking about her make me so embarrassed? She wondered, hugging her relatively cool ghost half in an attempt to, well, cool down her cheeks.

No. She couldn't let herself show weakness because of such a reason. Youki would never approve of such sentiments.

She had to develop more self-control. Soon.



Marisa stared down?quite literally?her minuscule opponent, a cocky grin on her face. "So, how many spellcards do you want? I didn't bring too many, since, y'know, I didn't expect someone to want to fight me?"

"Two."

"Two it is!" Marisa laughed. "Whenever you want, Reimu."

"Okay. Shinmyoumaru, are you ready?"

The brave fencer (Musashi) (no one is going to get this reference) nodded, eyes fixated on her much taller enemy. The Miracle Mallet, gleaming in the sunlight, was in her left hand. Truly David vs. Goliath.

"Then...begin!"

Marisa didn't even hesitate.

"Magic Space "Asteroid Belt"!"

To anyone unskilled at micrododging, the dense main pattern combined with smaller stars coming from the sides might burn a bomb or two, possibly even a life, but unfortunately for Marisa micrododging (if you know what I mean) was something Shinmyoumaru excelled at.

Marisa's smirk began to falter as the inchling nimbly flew over, under, and around each and every bullet about to hit her. The inching hadn't even fired a single bullet back; it was clear she simply intended to time the card out. Whether she was too focused on dodging or wishing to embarrass Marisa remains a mystery to everyone except herself.

"Oh my. Your little pet is quite talented."

Reimu, next to Yukari on the steps of the shrine, had the same opinion. "Yeah. That's not one of Marisa's easier spell cards, either. I don't think I've ever seen anyone deal with it so easily." Clearly she had never been on Youtube.

"She's using her small hitbox extremely effectively, I must say," Yukari noted. "Quite remarkable."

"...Her what?"

"Never mind."

At last, the trance ended and all of the stars dissipated, leaving Shinmyoumaru none the worse for wear. Marisa's pride, on the other hand, was taken, smashed, crumpled, dumped into an incinerator, and returned on a silver platter. With a garnish and some sauce on the side.

"So is it my turn? Or do you want to try again?"

Marisa scowled. "I'm not losing to you!" Pulling out another card, she declared, "Light Blast "Shoot the Moon"!"

Reimu smiled knowingly. "Marisa used this one against me a few days ago, and Shinmyoumaru was there to watch. This should be a cakewalk."

"It isn't a difficult attack, either," Yukari added. "It's just very different from her previous one. You can tell that Marisa's frustrated. She isn't used to being so badly humiliated by anyone in a one-on-one, even by you."

Shinmyoumaru narrowed her eyes. She did indeed remember how Reimu weaved in between the lasers. And indeed, she emulated her caretaker with little (I need to stop using this word) to no effort.

Anyone who's played Imperishable Night can imagine what happened. Marisa's flashy patterns, while pretty, proved useless against such an agile and hard-to-hit target. No finesse, win less.

"My turn!" Shinmyoumaru said gleefully, pulling out a tiny slip of paper. "Mallet "You Grow Bigger"!"

Marisa groaned, and Reimu, for the first time in the duel, felt pity for her. On the bright side, she was actually tall for, oh, about forty-five seconds or so. A welcome change.

"Oh dear." Yukari looked pleasantly surprised. "That's a clever idea. "

"It wasn't much better for me when I faced it for the first time," Reimu reminisced. "But Marisa hasn't learned that the pattern's almost the same every time. Which means?"

"Ow! Holy sh?" An audible noise could be heard as Marisa crashed into the ground and fell off her broom, which continued flying by itself until it crashed into the torii gate.

A pause.

"Yeah," Reimu finished. Amused, she stood up and strode over to Marisa, who lay on the ground in pain. "Well, it's over. Shinmyoumaru won. Now she gets to decide your fate."

"That was cheap..."

"Nuh-uh!" Shinmyoumaru hopped onto Marisa's face and pet her nose, laughing. "Now you have to say sorry!"

"You didn't play fair?"

"She technically did," Reimu interjected, trying desperately to hold her laughter in. "Loser has to accede to the winner's request, remember?"

Marisa grumbled. "If I brought Master Spark with me..."

"Oh, really now." Yukari grinned. "Stop acting so immature. You must be taught. Shinmyoumaru, here's what you should have her do..." As Marisa looked on, mouth agape, Yukari whispered into Shinmyoumaru's ear. The victorious warrior giggled mischievously.

Uh-oh.



"Charge forward!" Shinmyoumaru cried, jabbing a pressure point on Marisa's back with the Miracle Mallet.

"Ow! Don't do that!"

"You're too slow! We must be brave!"

Shinmyoumaru, ecstatic at the prospect of role playing a knight on horseback, had the poor witch serve as, of course, her horse. Crawling around on hands and knees, Marisa the trusty (somewhat) steed was beyond mortified at this point. Yukari had even tied a toy saddle to her back.

(Seems like the type of scenario one would find in a Touhou H-doujin. Not that I would know.)

Reimu had given up on keeping composure a long time ago and was rolling on the ground, stomach in agony but mind in overdrive.

...Honestly, I should have just used the word "laugh."

Yukari's smile was hidden behind her fan. Surreptitiously, she brought out an iPhone and snapped a picture. Aya, camera already in hand, did so as well?

Wait what.

"Hello, Aya." Yukari didn't even turn to look at the crow that just dropped by. She didn't need to, of course.

"Hey. Not to intrude, but..." Aya gestured toward the inchling. "What happened?"

Yukari chuckled. "Marisa lost a spell card duel. This is the result."

"I...see." Aya quickly jotted down what was presumably a travesty of the truth in her notebook. "And?"

"That's Shinmyoumaru Sukuna, an inchling. The last one of her kind, I believe."

"You're always the best one to interview." Aya grinned. "Thanks."

"You're quite welcome. And please make sure to deliver as many copies of this next issue around as possible. I think it'll be best if people find out about this quickly."

"Won't it ruin Marisa's name?"

"Not too badly. Humans and youkai should fear her less, but she will still be held in high esteem. Besides, it was about time something embarrassing happened to her. Even Reimu had that drunk dancing episode?"

"Oh yeah, that. Hehe. That was hilarious. Of course, I made sure to spread the word."

"Yes, you did well."

"Aya, get the hell out of here." Reimu, face flushed and still breathing heavily, shooed Aya away (while still lying down?she hadn't quite recovered yet).

"Now why would I?" Aya smirked. "It's not often that Marisa loses. Plus, Shinmyoumaru is?"

"Charming? Cuddly?" Yukari giggled.

"Exactly! And?"

"Cut it out, you two. You know what, Aya, take as many pictures as you want. I think Marisa has to keep this up for..." Reimu furrowed her brow. "...ten or so minutes?"

"Eleven minutes and thirty-two seconds precisely, my dear Reimu," Yukari informed her.

"I didn't ask you," Reimu muttered. "But yeah, that."

The conversation stopped briefly as Marisa let out another cry of pain, her blush even more apparent than before.

"By the way, how did Marisa lose?" Aya inquired, genuinely curious. "Shinmyoumaru can't be that good, can she? I know she's small, but?"

"It was a two-card duel," Yukari stated blandly, "and she timed out both of Marisa's attacks without retaliation. Then she took out Marisa with her first card."

Aya gaped. "So a perfect victory? Over Marisa?"

"Yes."

"Holy crap."

"Precisely my reaction."

"Marisa was trying, too," Reimu commented. "She started with Asteroid Belt. But Shinmyoumaru's too little and too quick."

"You might want to stick around," Yukari added. "She's preparing to duel Youmu at the upcoming festival in Hakugyokurou. She is impressively agile and strong."

"Does Youmu know?"

"No. Make sure it stays that way. Go ahead and describe Shinmyoumaru's fighting capability, but don't mention why she's training."

Aya scribbled some more notes. "You got it. Is anything else off-limits? Like, personal history, that kind of thing?"

"No. You're free to include whatever else you want."

"Nice. I'll ask some more questions after..." Aya gestured to the thrashing, surreal spectacle that she was currently witnessing. "...that. By the way, how are Ran and Momi getting along?"

"Quite nicely. Ran spends much of her free time playing dai shogi with her. Excellent idea on your part, by the way. I must say, I did not expect them to hit it off so well."

"I didn't either...I just thought, y'know, foxes and wolves...?"

"I expected no less from your intuition, Aya." Yukari chuckled, causing the crow tengu to pout.

It was then that Yukari noticed Reimu staring oddly at the two youkai. "...Have the two of you always been such great friends?" the shrine maiden asked, suspicious.

Aya smiled. "You have no idea."



Once again the party found themselves seated in front of the shrine's entrance. Except for Marisa, that is, who lay sprawled across the steps. Red-faced and breathing heavily, she gratefully accepted the glass of ice water that Reimu handed her.

"She's pretty good," Marisa admitted.

"Maybe you'll learn some humility now." Reimu chuckled. "Poor you."

"Well, not unless other people find out?" Marisa stopped and turned to Aya, whom she'd just noticed, in horror. The reporter saluted, notebook and pen on her lap in plain sight. "'Sup."

Marisa slowly pulled her hat over her eyes and wept for her dead reputation.

Shinmyoumaru, after hopping off of her temporary ride, climbed onto Reimu's leg and promptly curled up and fell asleep, a blissful expression on her face. The sight was heartwarming and, uh, most definitely did not bring a silly smile to my face while imagining it.

"Aww." Aya took yet another photograph. "How lovely. You're like her mother, Reimu."

Reimu glared at her. "Shut it."

"I can see where she got her aggressive nature from."

"Shut. Up."

"Hmph. Fine." Turning to Yukari, she asked, "So, mind telling me exactly why our brave samurai here is going to clash with Miss Too-Uptight?"

"Exactly that reason. Youmu needs to become more social for her own good. As such, she needs to be more friendly and approachable. We think that a little casual swordplay will let her get used to interacting with others quite nicely."

"Hold on, she's actually dueling Youmu!?"

"Yes."

"As in, with swords? Not spell cards?"

"Yes."

"Wow." Aya actually looked the tiniest bit worried. "Are you guys really sure she can?"

"I personally chose her for the task," Yukari affirmed. "Surely that should tell you all you need to know."

Reimu nodded, gleaming with pride. "Absolutely. Just watch her. When she wakes up, that is."

"Alright. I was planning to, anyway, since I have to write an article and all...speaking of which, Reimu, how'd you meet Shinmyoumaru?"

"This is going in your paper, right?" Aya nodded in response. Reimu continued, "She was responsible for the recent tsukumogami incident. You know how Seija wanted to 'overthrow the social order' or something? She manipulated Shinmyoumaru into helping her by telling her some stupid story about how the inchlings were oppressed."

"What's she like?"

"She's cute?" Yukari began.

"Cut the crap, Yukari," Reimu interrupted. "Sorry, Aya. Anyway, she's very childish, as you might have expected. Immature and idealistic. But she's very nice and tries to act like an adult, which is...uh..."

"Hopelessly adorable?" Aya remarked nonchalantly. "Got it."

"That's not what I?" Reimu sighed. "You know what, fine."

"There's no shame in admitting that you can appreciate the finer things in life. Now, anything else?"

"She's stubborn as all hell. If she wants to do something no one's ever going to stop her from at least trying. She trusts me, though, so she usually listens to me."

"Why? As you mentioned, Seija misled her about her race's downfall and tricked her into antagonizing most of Gensokyo. How do you think you gained her trust after that?"

Reimu pondered this question for some time. "...You know, I actually have no idea. But, like I said, she's basically a kid. Maybe she's just too innocent for her own good."

"She is, trust me. How strong is she?"

"Like I said, you'll have to see for yourself."

"I plan to."

"In that case, like I said, you'll have to wait until she's in the mood." Reimu paused. "Actually, you'll be waiting for a while, since it's lunchtime. I'd ask if you all wanted to join me, but then again...I already know the answer to that question, don't I?"



It was once again a wonderful day at the Hakurei Shrine.

The cool breeze was quite refreshing, and the beautifully brilliant, natural colors of the landscape would awe any urban (or even suburban) dweller. Or make them scream Photoshop.

A magical sight indeed.

But of course, the group of friends/frenemies had long since accustomed themselves to the stunning scenery, and were fascinated for a very different reason.

Aya was suitably impressed. "Damn. I can almost feel the power of that sewing needle."

"Don't let her hear you say that," Reimu warned, though Shinmyoumaru was far too absorbed in arboricide to even notice that such slander had been uttered.

The poor tree never stood a chance, its trunk completely mutilated by the Shining Needle Sword. That's right, sword. Not needle.

"Hah!" the inchling shouted, tearing through her imaginary opponent's arm.

Another quick movement, and said opponent's thigh had a gruesome gash.

She hopped to a not-yet-maimed tree and launched herself off of it, slicing through the invisible enemy's?

Oh.

Uh...

Er...

Let's not go there.

With a final flourish, she sheathed her sword and hopped back over to Reimu, who smiled and pet her on the head affectionately. "Well?"

"All I can say is, my next article is going to be amazing." Aya closed her notebook and stood up. "I'd better start on it. It won't write itself!"

Shinmyoumaru waved enthusiastically. "Bye Miss Aya! You're really cool! Your panties look pretty, too?where'd you get them?"

As Aya went beet red, Marisa burst out laughing, and Reimu facepalmed, Yukari discreetly slipped into a gap, departing without anyone noticing.

What a life.



...So, as it turns out, I'm not going to have any more free time until mid-July. Or something. Sorry! To compensate, here are some ideas for what's coming up.

(No guarantees that any of these scenes will stay the same. Or even make it in.)




"Alice?" Reimu asked.

There was no response.

"...Alice?"

"Mhm?"

"You've been staring at her for a long time."

"Oh. I hadn't noticed." Her dazed expression suggested that she still hadn't.

Shinmyoumaru looked worried. "Miss Alice, are you okay?"

"I'm perfectly fine." Alice wiped her nose with her hand, which now had a red smear on it. "I don't suppose I could borrow you for a few days?"



"My dagger is longer than that needle you call a sword," Sakuya stated flatly. "I'm unsure in which dimension you believed you stood a chance, but if it was this one..." A blade seemed to materialize out of thin air. "I'm afraid you're quite mistaken."

"Your words don't scare me!" was the shrill reply. "I can win, and I know it!"

Sakuya sighed and looked to her right. "Mistress, is this necessary?"

"Of course it is," Remilia replied. "After all, it was the request of none other than our dear Reimu."

"Get your hands off of me, you perverted ten-year-old."



Sanae's reaction was fairly predictable. Kanako's facepalm was truly magnificent, however.

"Yep." Suwako nodded. "They're pretty much always like that."



"Before you even speak, no, you can't play with my third eye. Would you touch anyone else's eye?"

"But it's cool!" Shinmyoumaru protested.

"Why, thank you." Satori smiled warmly. "It's been a long time since anyone ever considered it to be anything other than evil." Before Shinmyoumaru could utter a word, she added, "But you're still not allowed to play with it."

"Aww."

Re: Be Carefree
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2015, 02:47:31 AM »
Shinmyoumaru awoke to loud disharmony in the Hakurei Shrine. Not that such a disturbance was uncommon.

"...C'mon! I just want to take her to visit 'em!"

"Marisa, you can't expect me to believe?"

"No, seriously, who's gonna hurt her? You know Alice and Patchy, and Cirno stands no chance against her, let alone me with her."

"What about Remilia?"

"You're, like, the only person who has a problem with Remilia."

"You would too if she tried to seduce you despite looking young enough to be my daughter!" Reimu snapped.

"Yours and hers?" Marisa asked teasingly.

"...I am going to hurt you, Marisa."

Marisa shrugged. "I was just kidding, anyway. But still. Why won't you let me show her around?"

"I'm just worried something will happen to her."

"You're always worried. Relax! Nothing's gonna happen."

"Are you suggesting I'm paranoid? With friends like you, how can I not be worried?" Reimu eyed Marisa suspiciously. "Come to think of it, what have you even been up to lately? Just because I haven't been on your case doesn't mean?"

"Whoa whoa whoa!" Marisa interrupted. "See, this is exactly what I'm talking about! You're way too?er, protective. Unless she makes Flandre angry or something I'm fairly certain she'll be fine."

"...I guess." Reimu sighed. "Look, just try not to get in any trouble. She's already awake, by the way, just around the corner. You want to call her over?"

"Eep!" the eavesdropper squeaked. "I'm sorry!"

"Don't be," Reimu said. "You want to eat something before you go?"

"I'm taking her to Alice's place and the Scarlet Devil Mansion. We can get food at one or the other, if not both."

Reimu scowled. "She's not shameless like you, Marisa."

"Hey, free food is free food! Everyone loves free stuff. And food."

As a high school student, I can confirm that this statement is truth itself.

"Even you, Reimu."

As a Touhou fan, I can confirm that this statement is also true.

Shinmyoumaru raised her hand. "Miss Reimu, who's Miss Alice and Miss Patchy? And how are they related to Marisa?"

"Hey, no 'Miss' for me?" Marisa pouted. "That's unfair."

"That's because you're a big meanie," Shinmyoumaru explained matter-of-factly.

Reimu nodded. "Agreed." Marisa promptly flipped her off.

"Alice is Marisa's neighbor and good friend. They're both magicians, but Alice acts like a proper lady. Imagine a kind and serious Marisa."

Shinmyoumaru looked up at her hopelessly. "I can't."

"Are you serious?" Marisa exploded, and Reimu burst into laughter. And flames. Wait, no. Never mind that last bit.

"And Patchouli?that's her real name?is also a magician. She's pretty old and even more serious?"

"You mean boring?" Marisa interrupted.

"?yes, at times, than Alice. She's a bookworm and hardly ever even leaves her library, let alone the Scarlet Devil Mansion."

Shinmyoumaru shuddered. "That scary mansion near the lake? I've always stayed away."

"Sakuya works there, you know," Marisa informed her. "You remember her, right?"

"She was scary too," the inchling whimpered, undoubtedly traumatized by her previous encounter with the maid. Which undoubtedly featured knives. Lots and lots of knives. Not to mention Sakuya's cold demeanor probably intimidated Shinmyoumaru more than a little.

Reimu shrugged. "That's just how she is. She's pretty fair, though. She won't hurt you for no reason." Before Marisa could interject, she added, "That's because you steal Patchouli's books."

"I just borrow them!"

"But Miss Reimu said you never return them!" Shinmyoumaru countered. "How is that any different from stealing?"

"I'll return them when I die! Humans don't live nearly as long as youkai, anyway."

"Shouldn't you be leaving soon? I do want Shinmyoumaru back within a reasonable amount of time."

"Like...how long?"

"I trust your judgment," Reimu said. "Though I'll probably end up regretting it. Now go."



When Shinmyoumaru reached the Forest of Magic and nearly collapsed from the noxious air, she knew today would not be a good day.

Then again, what did she expect? The forboding treeline wasn't exactly the most welcoming sight in the world, after all, and probably should have tipped her off. The monstrous size of the mushrooms would also have been a pretty good indicator.

She found it hard to believe that Marisa could survive in such a place and almost felt pity for her were it not for two facts: one, Marisa was clearly healthy and happy, and two, she was despicable.

"Here." Marisa took her hat off. "You can ride on my head if you want. I'm pretty sure this thing blocks the spores, or at least most of them."

Eyeing the accessory suspiciously, Shinmyoumaru ultimately determined that Marisa's intentions, just this once, were good. Hopping up and nestling herself in the witch's hair, she muttered a grudging "thank you" before Marisa donned her signature hat once again.

"You okay in there?"

All Marisa heard in reply was a muffled "I guess."

Within a few minutes, Shinmyoumaru felt Marisa stop and heard her knock on a wooden surface, most likely a door. "Yo! Alice!"

A few seconds later, the door opened and a voice answered, "I heard your footsteps?there's no need to be so loud. Come on in."

It was easy to tell by the relative flatness of the terrain that Marisa had just entered Alice's house. A quick drop indicated that she'd just sat down. "I assume you're here for food, since otherwise you would simply break in and steal my property." Alice's voice, contrary to her teasing words, betrayed no emotion.

"I come to your house for other reasons, too! Like research!"

"Yes, but our research sessions usually involve a meal or two and always end with your newest attempt to sneak off with my personal belongings."

Marisa sighed. "Damn. You got me. But today's special! I brought someone with me today!"

"It seems so. I can detect an invisible presence in the air." Alice snorted. "You would never bring someone with you."

"Sure I would! Uh...have you visited Reimu recently?"

"No."

"Damn. Well..." Marisa removed her hat, and Shinmyoumaru blinked in surprise at the sudden exposure to sunlight. "Meet Shinmyoumaru! She's Reimu's new...uh, guest? Staying indefinitely."

The girl/giant that stood before her had attire somewhat similar to Marisa's. Sort of. Not really. Well, similarly nontraditional at least. The frilly pink ribbons around her neck and waist complemented her elegant blue and white dress quite nicely. I suppose you could say that her red headband was the cherry on top.

Sorry.

What really caught Shinmyoumaru's eye, though, was the doll floating by Alice's side. Its beady blue eyes stared at Shinmyoumaru, unblinking, as if judging her. Like Marisa, it/she (the doll looked extremely lifelike) wore a black dress and white apron, and her (Shinmyoumaru determined that the doll, though artificial, seemed animate enough) blonde hair added to the resemblance. The red bows on its head and dress completed the ensemble nicely.

Wow. This Alice lady really was talented!

"Hi, Miss Alice!" A pause. "...Miss Alice?"

"Alice?" Marisa asked.

There was no response.

"...Alice?"

"Mhm?"

"You've been staring at her for a long time."

"Oh. I hadn't noticed." Her dazed expression suggested that she still hadn't.

Shinmyoumaru looked worried. "Miss Alice, are you okay?"

"I'm perfectly fine." Alice wiped her nose with her hand, which now had a red smear on it. After a few seconds, she reaffirmed, "Yes. I'm fine." Whether to her guests or to herself, no one could say.

"...Right," Marisa said, clearly skeptical. "Of course you are. But whatever. Isn't she the cutest thing ever?"

"Yes, indeed she is." By now Alice had recovered from her initial...reaction. "But that doesn't explain why you brought her here, does it?"

"Oh, right. I'm taking Shinmyoumaru on a tour today, see? Letting her get to know people."

"And by 'tour', you mean this house and Patchouli's library, correct?"

Marisa sputtered. "Wha?bu?how did you know!?"

"I know you all too well, Marisa." Alice looked to Shinmyoumaru. "Marisa is a creature of habit. Every day, she comes here and then goes to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. And generally, she returns home with more than a few stolen belongings..."

"Yeah, yeah, you said that already," Marisa grumbled. "Got anything to eat?"



Breakfast with Alice was quite quaint. Specifically, the lady of the house stayed at the table for the whole time, as it seemed her dolls were even capable of tasks such as thinly dicing vegetables. If she didn't know Alice was controlling them, Shinmyoumaru would have sworn they were actual youkai.

That one doll never left Alice's side, though. Huh. Odd. What was its importance, exactly?

"Miss Alice?"

"Yes?"

Shinmyoumaru pointed at the doll, who seemed surprised, looking to Alice and pointing at herself. "Who's that?"

"Oh!" Alice smiled. "She's Shanghai. I'm quite proud of her. She's actually both rational and sentient to an extent...as long as I'm feeding her energy. She isn't self-sufficient just yet."

As Alice spoke, Shanghai, pen in hand, wrote "Hello" on a napkin in possibly the neatest handwriting Shinmyoumaru had ever seen. Her elegant penmanship was a work of art in itself.

Noticing the inchling's interest, Alice mentioned, "According to Yukari, this style originated from the outside world. Its name is Times New Roman."

"It's really pretty!" Shinmyoumaru gushed. "She's really cool!"

"See, Marisa? Dolls are truly wonderful. I can only wonder why you don't share our fascination."

Marisa stuck her tongue out in defiance. "I'm not a little girl like you two."

"Says the overzealous baby in her Halloween costume."

Damn. Apply Eirin to burned area.

"Oh! The food's done." A few dolls carried in a large tray loaded with delicious-looking food. "Enjoy."

Though no less palatable than traditional Japanese cuisine, Alice's European fare was unsurprisingly foreign (bad joke #13275676) to Shinmyoumaru's taste buds. Omelettes? Waffles? What were those?

Speaking of the latter, Shinmyoumaru watched in awe as Marisa wolfed down her third one and served herself another. Alice, whose plate was fruit-laden, laughed at the voracious devourer of all things. "At least you don't eat much. I don't think I could have made enough food for two Marisas."

"Miss Reimu says that a lot too. Hey, Miss Alice?"

"What is it?"

"How do you know Marisa?"

"How do I know Marisa?" Alice looked at the person in question, thoughtful. Marisa, mouth stuffed with food, had nothing to offer. "We're...childhood friends, so to speak. And later we ended up as neighbors. Curious how fate works."

"She was cooler as a kid," Marisa commented offhandedly, her food (thankfully) no longer hindering her ability to enunciate each word clearly. Though let's be honest, Marisa was always somewhat lacking in that department.

"You're still a kid."

"Am not."

"Yes you are."

"Am not!"

"Point taken." Alice chuckled at Marisa's momentary confusion. "But in all honesty, our relationship is quite...complicated."

All of this banter seemed familiar. Wait...

"You mean like Miss Reimu and Miss Yukari?" Shinmyoumaru inquired. "They like to argue a lot too."

Alice and Marisa looked at each other. "...You can be Yukari," both said simultaneously.

"You're the annoying one. You're more similar to her," Alice contended.

"But you're always plotting something secretly! I swear, you'll become just like her in a century or two. Minus the gaps."

Suddenly, a (guess what word goes here) appeared right above them and a head stuck out. "What's so bad about little old me~?" Yukari sniffled. "So mean..."

Alice could only sigh, and Shinmyoumaru wasn't part of the conversation. Lacking replies, they turned to Marisa for a witty response.

"You got the 'old' part right," she retorted.

"My, so rude!" The gap youkai grinned. "And not even giving your true motive for bringing Shinmyoumaru here? Quite deceptive, my dear Marisa."

Shinmyoumaru gaped at Marisa, surprised. "Wait, what? I thought this was just a tour!"

"It?" Marisa shifted uncomfortably. "It was! Honest! She's lying!"

Yukari giggled, retreating back to who knows where.

"Now that I think about it..." Alice reflected. "You would never bring someone with you just to show them around. Especially not here. You clearly have an ulterior motive, and I'd like to know what it is."

"W-well...it's not really an ulterior motive. I woulda told you eventually."

Marisa then explained the circumstances of Shinmyoumaru's upcoming duel with Youmu, clearly none too pleased with the arrangement.

"I think Yukari kinda overestimates Shinmyoumaru, y'know? Youmu's really strong, and I don't think she's ready to face her. So I brought her here for, well, help."

Understandably, the proud little warrior was affronted. "Well, I think I'm ready, so?"

"Calm down for a minute." Alice looked askance at the increasingly distressed witch. "What do you mean, 'help'?"

"Help to win!" Marisa exclaimed, as though what she meant was completely obvious. "Like, practice, spells, techniques, anything to make sure she doesn't get her ass kicked!"

Alice's expression did not change. "You think Shinmyoumaru can use spells to defeat Youmu."

"...Well, no. It kinda just slipped out. When you're a magician, you use that word a lot."

"I never said your point wasn't valid. Some spells could come in handy, though most of them will have to come from Patchouli. I could probably do some minor enchantments to ensure she doesn't get injured too badly, though." Hearing a knock on the door, she dismissed Shanghai from the room. "She'll go see who it is. But back to Shinmyoumaru. Practice, you say? Now that is something I can offer that Patchouli can't."

"She needs it, too. She hasn't really been challenged yet. So she has to, um, prove herself."

Shinmyoumaru looked confused. "But didn't I?"

"Just a moment, you two." Alice beckoned Shanghai to her side once again. In the doll's arms was?

"Oh." Marisa paled. "Is that?"

"The Bunbunmaru?" Alice quirked her eyebrow. "Yes, it is. Is there a problem?"

"Actually, y?"

"Not at all!" Shinmyoumaru interjected, a sweet smile on her face.

"Excellent."

And Alice began to read...



"So?" Alice shook uncontrollably with laughter. "What was that about proving herself?"

"That wasn't a fair duel," Marisa grumbled. "If she was my size I'd beat her no problem."

"But I'm not, so ha!"

"No, you aren't." Alice ruffled Marisa's hair teasingly. "She really is a wonderful horse, though."

Shinmyoumaru nodded. "Yep. Everyone had fun watching her, too. Except her, I guess."

Even Shanghai's head was buried in her hands. Though she couldn't voice her opinion, one could infer what it was.

"Aya even took pictures." Alice's expression was one of pure delight. "These are definitely going on my wall."

"I hate both of you."

"Oh, shush. I'm not even teasing you. Well, too much. Imagine what Patchouli'll do to you."

Marisa froze.

"Oh, f?"

"Mhm."

"Patchy doesn't need more dirt on me!" a disconsolate Marisa cried.

"We can never have enough dirt on you, Marisa."

"Not helping!"

"But this episode of yours is quite beneficial," Alice assured her dejected companion. "It tells us that Shinmyoumaru here is already quite agile, and probably also quite strong. She can't take a hit, which wasn't a problem during her bout with you?"

"It's gonna be a huge problem against Youmu, though."

"Precisely. Hm..." Alice's brow furrowed. "You two should head to the Scarlet Devil Mansion and then come back. I think I'll have something by then. And, of course, I would be more than happy to help you train."

"Mind if we come back after lunch?"

"Implying that they willingly serve you lunch."

"Well, I mean, I don't force them to make me food. So, kinda."

Alice sighed. "I will never understand why you freeload so alarmingly often."

Shinmyoumaru nodded. "Yep. Miss Reimu says that too."

"Both of you can shut up now."



Can you say "hella late"? Sorry guys.

I had no clue what I was doing this entire chapter. Alice isn't a character I know how to, well, characterize. In the end I settled for lots of scathing wit. Reminds me of me.

And I didn't know how I should portray Marisa and Alice. (MariAli isn't my thing.) So I went for the standard "frenemies" stuff. Not sure if it's any good.