Author Topic: Mercy of the Blossoming Self/Dual Strife/PoFV - Redux  (Read 3586 times)

Mercy of the Blossoming Self/Dual Strife/PoFV - Redux
« on: May 16, 2009, 03:58:57 AM »
Due to various reasons, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in my CtC story nowadays, so I figured I should take some time off from that. In the meantime, I decided to repost what I wrote when I was in my prime as a Touhou-fanfiction-person: My personal retellings of PCB, IN, and PoFV. I've done a little tweaking and made the characters' personalities in these a little more consistant with their characterization from later.
Enjoy.
---

Somewhere in a plane of existence, beyond that of the world of Gensokyo, a female figure, shrouded in darkness, looks up at a large, but withered, tree.
   
A second figure approaches the figure from behind, ?Looking at the Saigyou Ayakashi again, Yuyuko-sama??
   
?Oh. Youmu! Yes? I am??
   
?Among all the cherry blossoms that grow around here, I imagine the Saigyou Ayakashi would be the most magnificent. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to its potential??
   
There is a long silence. Finally, the first figure, Yuyuko, says, ?Perhaps we can change that itty bitty detail. Youmu, I have a BIG favor to ask of you.?
   
?Um... Whatever is it, Yuyuko-sama??
   
?Go to Gensokyo and gather its spring essence. Bring it back here so we can fully bloom the Saigyou Ayakashi!?
   
?Yuh-Yuyuko-sama??
   
?C?mon, Youmu! It?ll be pretty!?
   
?... ... ... Of-of course! I shall be on my way?? Youmu respectfully bows and walks out.
   
Yuyuko pauses and solemnly says to herself, unsure of what thoughts to dwell on ?It?s not so much that, but? I don?t even know myself? Yukari? Why this? Can?t you just?? Why do you insist???


                           
TOUHOU PROJECT 7: PERFECT CHERRY BLOSSOM

Episode 1: The Beginning (Reimu and Marisa's side)

Months later?


Winter is known as a fun time where kids make snowmen, make snow angels, have snowball fights, and generally have a fun time in the snow. On the other hand winter is also known for uncomfortably low temperatures, slippery ice, terrible blizzards, lack of vegetation, and constant need of heat. In summer, people wish for winter, and in winter, people wish for summer. One never appreciates the other until s/he has had far too much of one, and at this point in Gensokyo, the time of wishing for a warmer environment is higher than ever.
   
However, one season, though all too brief, balances all needs into a picture of paradise: Spring. Not too hot and not too cold. A great season for being outdoors in the gentle breeze. The season where the cherry blossoms bloom, ushering a sight of beauty beyond compare. The season that follows winter.
   
However, spring is all but a distant hope, as it still seems far away, but it?s the time when it should have arrived and presented itself in its full beauty. However, as of the present, Gensokyo still suffers from the cruelty of winter, and that cruelty is greater than ever, a paradox to what is expected of the current time of year.


At the top of a sizable flight of stone stairs lies the Hakurei Shrine, home of Gensokyo?s resident miko, Reimu Hakurei. It is a popular visiting spot for youkai around Gensokyo, recently, the former enemy of Gensokyo, Remilia Scarlet, has also taken a liking to visiting the shrine. However, in the fury of the elongated winter, hardly anyone, human or youkai, had had the motivation to step outdoors.
   
Reimu is the only miko in Gensokyo, but she rarely acts like one. Though surprisingly competent at her duties, she prefers a laid back lifestyle, like sleeping.
   
Inside the shrine, Reimu buries herself in the covers of her futon, trying to get some extra warmth in her poorly-heated shrine. However, this time, unlike all the other time, there?s so much heat, it?s almost abnormal, and she gets a good night?s sleep, as opposed to all those other nights where the cold kept her up.
   
Finally, with a pleasant feeling, she wakes up, whispering, ?What a good night? The weather must be improving?? There is a sudden gust of frigid wind outside, which seeps between the wooden planks of the shrine?s walls, freezing Reimu to the bone, ?Brrr? Or not. I guess it?s still the same. Damn?? She randomly glances at her pillow and notices that her long black hair, lying along it, is mixed in with just as many golden strands of hair, ?Huh? Has it gotten so cold that my hair is starting to lose color? This is terrible!? Reimu tries to move, but hits something soft.
   
?ZzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzz...? With that, there is a snoring noise, not belonging to Reimu, followed by a slightly disturbed snort, but goes back on track.
   
Her eyes scan the surroundings and see some things on the floor that she doesn?t recall: A heavy coat, a red scarf, snowshoes, a bamboo broomstick, a black dress with a white apron, and a pointed black hat. Reimu instantly recognizes the latter portion of these things, then looks into her futon, to see a peacefully sleeping face of a girl with long wavy blonde hair. Reimu?s post-awakening awareness comes flooding to a peak, and after a few seconds?
   
?AAAAAAAAaaaaAAAAAhhhhhhhh!? Reimu leaps out of bed.
   
The girl that was in bed with Reimu wakes up, mumbling, ?Mornin?, Reimu? Have a good sleep??
   
The girl is none other than Reimu?s longtime friend, Marisa Kirisame, a human witch. She?s extremely book-smart and a hard worker, unlike Reimu, who?s naturally competent at what she does, though she tends to lack common sense at times. She?s foul-mouthed and very intense when her adrenaline reaches its peak.
   
??Good sleep?" yells Reimu, ?What were you doing in bed with me? Uninvited, no less!?
   
Marisa responds, ?Don?t pretend that you didn?t like it, Reimu. You were tossing and turning until I got in and snuggled with you. You needed what I provided.?
   
Reimu, confused, asks, ?Wh-what??
   
?Another?s body heat,? answers Marisa, ?We share the heat from our bodies, giving each other warmth. People do this to survive in freezing waters. Same concept. Brilliant, eh??
   
Still aggravated, Reimu says, ?Brilliant, perhaps. Indecent, DEFINIELY!?
   
?Who the hell cares about decency? I did you a huge favor for you, helping you sleep through this cold, especially with what you are wearing!? says Marisa, pointing out Reimu?s choice of night clothes, a white nightgown with very thin fabric, ?What are you thinking? You should have worn something heavier than that!?
   
?This is all I have!? exclaims Reimu. Suddenly, another chilly draft passes through the shrine. Reimu covers her body with her arms.
   
?Ah! That?s cold!? yells Marisa, who moves sideway in the futon, making room, ?PLEASE! Come back to bed, Reimu!?
   
?I REFUSE!? There?s another draft, ?Brrr? Okay? I guess it beats this?? Reimu climbs in the futon with Marisa.
   
?Thank you!? says Marisa, ?You?re a true pal!?
   
?Why did you come here?? asks Reimu, ?Isn?t your house good enough??
   
?Of course it is!? says Marisa, ?It?s nice, warm, cozy, and a hell of a lot better insulated than this shrine!?
   
?So why come here, enter without being invited, and climb into bed with me??
   
Marisa proudly responds, ?Reimu, my friend, I come bearing news!?
   
?What is it??
   
?I have reason to believe our spring is elsewhere??
   
?That?s weird. Why do you think that??
   
?Last night, I stepped outside to sweep some damn snow off my front stairway, when something soft landed on my hand??
   
?Huh??
   
?A lively, pink, and healthy cherry blossom petal!?
   
Reimu blinks a couple times, ?Are you sure you weren?t imagining it? Maybe you want spring to arrive so much that you?re imagining the aspects of it in desperation.?
   
?Reimu, I already confirmed that I am not. I looked at it for a LONG time. I examined its texture, I smelled it, I left it on a table, left the room, then came back and it was still there! It was too real to be a figment of my imagination! I came here to show you, but??
   
?But??
   
?I guess the cold was too much for the little bud and it withered and died? Poor thing.?
   
?Why did you come here with that??
   
?Because this winter may be unnatural! It lasted far beyond when it was supposed to end. All the sudden, symbols of spring are falling into my hands? Besides, I can imagine it happening. Remember when Remilia covered Gensokyo in that mist. This could be similar??
   
?Are you saying Remilia is behind this??
   
?No. I see no reason for her to do so. The sun is still very much present in this weather and she?s probably suffering as much as we are, but something must be up with the prolonged season. I came here, hoping you would come along and help me investigate this.?
   
Reimu turns over, ?You think I?m always willing to get up and help out, don?t you??
   
?Dammit, I knew this was gonna be a pain in the ass... Are you just going to sleep on it and have me go out on my little lonesome?? An extra cold gust of wind blows through the shrine.
   
?Agh? I ahte this? Sure, I?ll help. Anything beats winter. Heck, maybe we can get an elongated spring while we?re at it.?
   
?Aw yeah! Now you?re talkin'!? Marisa gets up, out of the futon, making a determined pose in her heavy purple wool pajamas, ?We?re gonna head to the Forest of Magic and go from there!?
   
Reimu gets up and rolls up the futon, ?Sounds as good a plan as any, I guess? but first, let?s get dressed!?
   
?Okay!?
   
Reimu goes around a nearby corner and into the shrine?s restroom, where she keeps her usual clothes, as Marisa changes into the clothes she left lying around the shrine's floor. She and Marisa talk as they change. As Reimu brushes her hair, adds the braids on the sides of her face, and ties her hair back with a red ribbon, she asks Marisa, ?So Marisa, why the snowshoes, there? You have a broom, so why didn?t you use it??
   
Marisa, straightening her tangled hair with her hand and braiding the hair on one side of her face, says, ?You can fly like me, but I guess you don?t unless you gotta. Fine! It was pitch black out and there was a blizzard going on! Those things together are a pain in the ass to fly through! It was best off going it by foot!?
   
Reimu comments, as she sheds her nightgown and puts on her underwear, sarashi, and red shirt, ?You know? You could have waited until morning to come over!?
   
Marisa, shedding her pajamas and putting on her lingerie and black shirt, says, ?And prolong the winter any further? No thank you!? She puts on her skirt, saying mischivously, ?And your sweet, sweet body heat was too good to pass up!?
   
Reimu pauses and blushes as she puts on her skirt and tightens her belt, ?H-huh??
   
?Juuuuuuust kidding, though it was still nice?? laughs Marisa, putting on her hat.
   
?Ha! Ha! REAL amusing, Marisa,? says Reimu sarcastically, as she tightens her white sleeves below her shoulders.
   
Reimu walks out of the restroom, wraps a red scarf hanging nearby around her neck, a magical item that allows the wearer to maintain his or her bodily temperature. She retrieves her four-foot-long gohei leaning against the wall, and fetches several handfuls of spell cards, throwing needles, and ofuda from a compartment on the wall a few steps away.
   
Spell cards are the source of power among the more powerful denizens of Gensokyo, human and youkai alike. They contain power exclusive only those who have the necessary abilities, which are greatly variable among individuals, which is to say, in most cases, only a single individual can use a specific class of spell cards. For instance, Marisa cannot access the power of Reimu?s spell cards, and vice versa. Spell cards are activated by a declaration, which converts it to the energies needed to perform a specific ability. As for the abilities themselves, they vary greatly. Some directly grant power to the user, some enhance objects used by the user, some manipulate the user?s body into performing tasks beyond their conventional abilities, some open up a subspace, allowing for certain powers, etc. The effects are limited however. With some, the effects wear off after a single shot from the granted power, while others go continuously for several seconds, but in the case of either, the effects can be broken should the user?s concentration be disrupted, specifically from pain.
   
?Ready to go, Marisa??
   
Marisa picks up her broom, wraps her own red scarf around her neck, and checks her pockets for her spell cards, ?Am I ready to go? That's a silly question!?
   
They walk to the shrine?s front door and open it, only for a ton of snow to pour in from the outside and bury them. They dig through to the other side.

Marisa emerges from the snow, aggravated and groaning, "Dammit... This screwy season has a mind of its own, doesn't it??
   
Reimu emerges soon after, ?If so, it's not going to make life easy...?
   
?Yeah..." says Marisa, taking a few deep breaths, ?This snow wasn?t here when I arrived! It must have came afterward! That?s gotta be a record!?
   
Reimu looks around the shrine?s walkways, seeing the only major accumulation being at the door, apparently snow that the wind had pushed there. She takes a few steps and kicks something out from under the snow, a newspaper, ?Huh? Oh, today?s Bunbunmaru News?? She picks it up and reads it outloud, ??Hello, your daily reporter, Aya Shameimaru here! As I report from my warm quarters, do know that there will be a lot of accumulation today, especially?? Grrr? ?around the area where a certain clueless little miko lives. Have a nice day!?? Reimu chucks the paper as hard as she can and it tumbles down the side of the hill where the Hakurei Shrine stands, ?... and that bitch, Aya, sure isn't making life easier, either...? The tengu reporter, Aya, usually likes to poke fun at Reimu in every other newspaper she writes. As such, Reimu sees her as her unofficial arch nemesis. ?Saying more stupid things from whatever birdhouse she lives in! Shouldn?t she have migrated south anyway??
   
Marisa shrugs, ?Well, let?s bring on spring so Aya will have one less thing to make fun of you about??
   
Still frustrated, Reimu says, ?Yeah??
   
Reimu focuses, slowly levitates off the ground, and starts flying.
   
Marisa hops on top of her broom and takes to the air herself.
   
The two girls fly through the chilly skies, in the direction of the Forest of Magic and Marisa?s home, roughly 25 minutes away from Hakurei Shrine, as the crow flies.
   
?So?? begins Marisa, ?What are you gonna do when we get spring back??
   
?Sleep under a tree,? answers Reimu.
   
?A typical response from YOU!? laughs Marisa.
   
?What are YOU gonna do?? asks Reimu.
   
?Er? Read under a tree??
   
?Haha! A typical response from you too!?
   
Marisa suggests, ?How about I read and you sleep under the SAME tree? The perfect unified consummation of our victory!?
   
?Sure thing,? says Reimu, ?But let?s focus more on the present. There?s only one clue, and it?s not even a very reliable one??
   
?But a clue, nonetheless,? Marisa reminds Reimu, ?That one little petal is the best lead we?ve got!?
   
?That?s true, Mari_?
   
KABOOM! There is a sudden loud noise in the distance, followed by a column of smoke. Reimu and Maris stop and hover, looking in the direction of the sounds and smoke. Marisa shrugs and say, ?Oh, it?s probably noth_?
   
KABOOM! KABOOM! KABOOM! More loud noises. ?Doesn?t sound like ?nothing??? says Reimu. The noises are coming from a distant village.
   
?I?ve passed that village before,? comments Marisa, ?I don?t think anyone lives there, but??
   
?I won?t sleep easy ignoring this,? says Reimu, ? Something is up. Who knows? It might have something to do with the winter. Let?s go!? She flies in the direction of the village.
   
Marisa shrugs, ?Whatever. If there are explosions, it?s bound to be fun. Count me it!? She follows Reimu.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 04:13:54 AM by Valesta »

Re: Mercy of the Blossoming Self/Dual Strife/PoFV - Redux
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2009, 04:12:14 AM »
As they approach and hover outside the village, the situation becomes clear. A swarm of fairies, at least a hundred of them, fly around the village, firing magical bullets. Every one is dressed the same: wearing a one-piece blue dress and a blue ribbon. They all seem to be of the lowest level of fairies, often viewed as just a cut above insects, as none of them have voices and their attacks aren?t very organized, but there are still a lot of them. Still, it?s rare for so many to be in one place, and for all of them to be exactly identical.
   
?Fairies?? asks Reimu, ?I?ve never seen anything like this!?
   
?Normally, I?d ignore this,? says Marisa, ?But first, a prolonged winter, and now a fairy attack of THIS magnitude. My gut feeling tells me something... I?d say it?s time to kick some ass!?
   
Reimu puts her hand over her forehead, "Ugh. Just what I thought you'd do. You never change. Oh well. Let?s split up and cover more ground!?
   
?Hell yeah!? yells Marisa, flying toward the cloud of fairies.
   
Reimu chooses another direction and does the same.
   
Marisa flies and dodges incoming shots from the fairies with relative ease, ?Ha! These things are easy, just like the others!? She fires random blasts of magic energy into a swarm of fairies. A few of the fairies burst, like balloons popping. From their remains, tiny pink objects, resembling sakura blossoms, only much smaller, fall to the ground. ?What the hell?? mutters Marisa, ?That?s unusual coming from a fairy, but it sure reminds me of something?? The battle between Marisa?s quality and the fairies? quantity rages on.
   
Elsewhere, Reimu?s situation with the fairies is just as good. A fairy flies in her path, extends her tiny arms, and fires a magical bullet. Reimu arches around it and throws a needle at the fairy, which bursts, and like the ones Marisa destroyed, tiny pink blossoms fall. Reimu flies over and scoops up the blossoms. Suddenly, a bunch of them fly into Reimu?s hand and condense into a small sphere of pink light. She puts it in her pocket, ?It?s strange and... promising, but I?ll look at it later? For now?? Three more fairies approach. As Reimu is about to toss her needles at them, a brown streak flies by, and the fairies burst into petals. ?Huh? What was th_? WHAM! Suddenly, there is a powerful impact in Reimu?s gut, ?GAAAKKKK!? The thing that hit her bounces off. It resembles a red ball of sorts. Reimu falls, lands on the roof of a nearby house, and tumbles before coming to a stop, ?Wh-what was that??
   
Suddenly, a high-pitched voice yells, ?MEOW! Take that villain! That will teach you to sick your mindless squad of fairies on MY town!? The figure comes into plain sight, curled into a ball. It uncurls and shows its full form to Reimu: A girl with short brown hair, wearing a red dress and green cap. More noticeable than that, however, is that she has two brown cat-like tails, white ribbons on each, cat ears, one with a round golden earring, her golden eyes also catlike, and red claws on her fingers.
   
Reimu demands, ?Who? and WHAT? are you? Well, a feline youkai, obviously. Why did you call me a villain??
   
The youkai hisses, ?Hssssss! I called you a villain because you are one! You lead your army of trained fairies to attack my town, nya! With my masters away, I, the nekomata, Chen, will drive you and your little flunkies out!?
   
?Hey, ?Chen!? I am not leading these fairies! I saw them attacking and decide to get rid of them! I?m on your side here! You must have seen me get rid of some fairies!?
   
?Despicable! You attack your own flunkies to cover your trickery, nya? You are the worst! However, I am too smart for you, nya! I can see through your deceit! You can?t fool me, nya!?
   
?Damn it?? mutters Reimu, ?It looks like you won?t listen to reason. Just get out of my way, catgirl, or I will MAKE you!?
   
?Nyahaha! You show your true colors, nya! Well then, try me! Hssssss!?
   
Chen curls up and starts rotating increasingly faster, gathering momentum, finally rocketing toward Reimu.
   
?Ah!? Reimu jumps up and takes to the sky, narrowly avoiding Chen, who crashes into the house instead. The building collapses in a geyser of splinters.
   
Chen flies out of the rubble, enraged, ?Darn it! I'm gonna make you rebuild that when I'm through, nya!?
   
?You brought that on yourself!? Reimu tosses a needle at Chen, who deflects it with her claws, then extends her hand and fires a medium sized magical bullet, which Reimu simply flies around. Chen follows up flying straight at Reimu and swiping with her claws, which Reimu dodges by rotating her body. Chen quickly turns, extends her arms, and fires a thin beam of red energy, which slams into Reimu before she can react, ?ACK!? She is sent reeling, but recovers fairly fast.
   
?Nyahaha! Gotcha!? Chen starts spinning sideways, with her hands extended. Moving in a fast and complex pattern, she fires a barrage of round shots at Reimu, who pulls an ofuda out of her pocket and holds it in front of her. It expands to a size larger than herself, creating a large two-dimensional shield. The shots harmlessly bounce off.
   
?That was kind of a surprise,? says Reimu, ?but you won?t take me like that!?
   
?Nya! Darn it!? Chen draws a spell card, ?Cat Monster!? The card turns into red energy, which flows into Chen?s hands, creating a crimson aura, ?CHEN!? The aura extends outward, through each of her fingers, then solidifies in the form of blades. Each of Chen?s fingers has claws the length of swords. ?Take this, nya!? Chen flies at Reimu, preparing to strike with her claws.
   
?Tch,? Reimu tosses an ofuda in front of Chen, which turns into a barrier.
   
?MEOW!? Chen swipes at the barrier with the claws, rending it to pieces. Reimu backs off  to a safe distance, but Chen starts to close in fast.
   
Reimu draws a spell card, ?Treasure Sign!? The card turns into a ring of red energy, which rotates around Reimu like a hula hoop, then disperses.
   
?Yaa!? Chen swipes at Reimu, who backs away in the nick of time, as the energy claws rip through part of her skirt. After Chen?s attack, her defenses open wide enough to allow a reprisal from Reimu. She swings her gohei downward, knocking Chen to a lower altitude, ?MeOUCH!?
   
Reimu looks down at Chen and spreads her arms, ?Yin-Yang Scattering!? Four yin-yang orbs materialize around Reimu. She sends two orbs toward Chen. They start glowing with golden light.
   
?Ah!? Chen blocks the orbs with her energy claws. Reimu sends the latter two orbs down. The four come together and explode in a burst of white light. Chen falls to, and tumbles along, the ground.
   
Reimu lands shortly after and pulls some needles out of her pocket, ?Care to continue??
   
Chen cries, ?Hsss! If my master were around, nya, you wouldn?t have stood a chance!?
   
Reimu scoffs, ?You mean you?d have your master fight your battles FOR you? Can?t you make a better excuse??
   
Chen angrily says, ?No, if my master were AROUND, I?d have destroyed you!?
   
Reimu, still not understanding Chen?s words, says, ?Whatever. You could have avoided all of this you know. I have nothing to do with those fairies.?
   
Chen starts to fade into thin air, ?Rooowwww! Ran-sama?s gonna yell at me for this??
   
Reimu shrugs and floats back into the air, ?What an odd cat??
   
At the same time as Reimu?s battle with Chen, Marisa?s battle with the countless fairies rages on.
   
Two fairies fires shots at Marisa, who dodges them, via a barrel roll, then directs her arm at them and fires two quick shots of magic, destroying the fairies. Five fairies approach from the right, all conveniently lined up. Marisa extends her hand and a magical laser shoots out. She sweeps the laser through the fairies, taking them all out in one swoop, ?And screw you!? She flies to and lands on top of a watchtower on the outskirts of the ghost town, ?Shit! No matter how many I destroy, the situation never feels any different!? The fairies fly in Marisa?s direction. Marisa draws a spell card, ?It?s a damn waste to use these on low-level youkai like them, but they?re bound to wear me down if things continue like this?? She raises the spell card, ?Magic Sign!? Blue energy flows into Marisa?s broom. She hops on and the broom moves very fast toward the fairies, almost at supersonic speed, ?Stardust Reverie!? Star-shaped projectiles drop from the broomstick?s bristles in its wake. Marisa flies through the fairies, quickly flying around opposing fire. She projectiles disperse in various directions, tearing through the fairies. They all burst and the small petal-shaped objects drop to the ground.
   
Marisa does a U-turn and grabs one of the petals out of curiosity. As if responding to the retrieval of the petal, all the other petals fly into Marisa?s hand. Even though there are enough petal-shaped objects to fill an average bathtub, they all condense into a transparent pink ball, which comfortably fits into Marisa?s hand, ?Just? just what the hell is this? Why were those fairies holding it??
   
?HEEEEEEEY! MARISA!? Reimu?s voice echoes over the silence of the ghost town.
   
Marisa flies over to Reimu?s location. The two of them look around. ?I think that?s all of them,? says Reimu.
   
?Yeah,? says Marisa, ?I take it you held up as well as me??
   
?Well, it was a little strange,? explains Reimu, ?I was attacked by this cat-like youkai, who was also fighting the fairies, but she thought I was leading them. We got into a huge fight and I drove her off??
   
?Odd,? says Marisa, ?As for me, I got rid of all the fairies. They dropped some weird pink stuff?? She shows the pink ball to Reimu.
   
?I also got something like that,? says Reimu, though it?s not as big as yours. Do you have any idea what it is, Marisa? Have you read a book on it??
   
?This is a first for me,? says Marisa, ?but no, I haven?t!?
   
?They look like the petals that symbolize spring. Might this have something to do with it??
   
?Dunno. Maybe. I would have? AHEM? ?borrowed? a book from Patchouli regarding it if I knew this would happen. My gut feeling says it has something to do with it, though??
   
?This is promising,? says Reimu, ?but neither of us really know about this. Let?s just hang on to this stuff and head to the Forest of Magic, as we were.?
   
?Sure,? agrees Marisa.
   
Reimu and Marisa leave the ghost village, back en route to the Forest of Magic.

===
   
Meanwhile, in an unknown location, Chen mopes around, saying, ?I couldn?t do it, nya? I failed, nya? I?m too weak, nya? ARGH! Stupid old lady leading those stupid fairies to destroy the village! How will I explain this to Ran-sama and_?
   
?I see you are in rather high spirits, my loyal shikigami?? A deep, but womanly voice come from nowhere. Into view steps a girl with blonde hair, golden eyes, wearing a white hat and white and blue clothes. Like Chen, however, she also has animalistic features, namely the pointed ears under her hat, the clawed feet, and nine fox-like tails.
   
Chen tenses up, ?Ruh? Ran-sama! You?re back, nya??
   
?Yes, I?m back,? says Ran, ?Just what were you complaining about and why aren?t you keeping watch over Miyohiga??
   
?About that?? Chen explains, ?I WAS protecting the village, nya, but suddenly, it was invaded by a big swarm of fairies. I fought them off, nya, until I saw their leader!?
   
Ran raises an eyebrow, ??Leader???
   
?YEAH! This black-haired old lady! I?d say she was human, nya! She wore red and white clothes, nya! Her armpits were all exposed and??
   
?Hold on,? says Ran, ?You say a HUMAN led them??
   
?Yeah!?
   
?Says her or says you??
   
Chen freezes, ?Says? me??
   
Ran puts a hand on her forehead, ?Ah, my dearest Chen. Still so na?ve? Low-level fairies are not intelligent enough to follow orders from another. They just act on instinct, mindlessly doing what drives them. Did the human say anything??
   
?She said she was getting rid of the fairies, nya, and I didn?t believe her.?
   
?She was probably telling the truth. C?mon, let?s return to Miyohiga??
   
Ran and Chen warp back to the village, only to see that most of the buildings are still standing. Chen opens her mouth in surprise, ?All the fairies are? gone, nya??
   
Ran nods her head in satisfaction, ?Apparently. The mistress will be pleased.?
   
?About the mistress, nya, what?s with her? Why take spring and everything??
   
?She has been happier, but her depression has still lasted. What she has been trying to recover is only half there. This involves recovering the other half??
   
?Nya??

===
   
Reimu and Marisa enter the airspace of the Forest of Magic and start to descend. Throughout the forest, all is the very image of winter, as all the plants, except for the pine trees, are withered.

Along the way, two fairies, like the ones in the village appear.
   
?Dammit!? yells Marisa, ?More of them? Well at least it?s only two??
   
?Not a problem,? says Reimu, grabbing her needles.
   
Just as Reimu and Marisa are about to attack, however, the two fairies burst, and their petals fall to the snow-covered ground.
   
?Huh? I didn?t do anything,? says Marisa.
   
Reimu looks at the ground nearby to where the petals have fallen, and sees two knives sticking out of the ground, ?Huh? I know these knives!? She looks toward the sky and sees a familiar figure hovering above, ?Suh? SAKUYA??
   
Sakuya sighs and says, ?Oh, it?s you two. I should have known.?
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 04:15:44 AM by Valesta »

Re: Mercy of the Blossoming Self/Dual Strife/PoFV - Redux
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2009, 02:05:13 PM »
Episode 2: The Beginning (Sakuya's Side)

Scarlet Devil Mansion?
   
The structure that is a mansion in name, but a castle in appearance... The home of numerous Youkai, headed by the vampire, Remilia Scarlet... The location central to the recent epic struggle, where the very fate of Gensokyo was in the balance...
   
Months before, Remilia cast a red mist, covering Gensokyo, blocking the sun, for the purpose of allowing vampires to live during the day. However, that plan was thwarted by the efforts of a miko and witch.
   
In spite of the policies set throughout the mansion, its inhabitants generally lead fairly decent lives and is thoroughly maintained. However, all it takes is an elongated winter to make everything go haywire?

4:00AM?
   
In the mansion?s lobby, Sakuya Izayoi, the mansion?s head maid, and the sole human residing in an otherwise youkai-exclusive household, meets up with three other maids, all fairies, ?How is the food situation??
   
?No good!? answers one fairy, ?Because of the winter, we have no crops, and all of our vegetation-related rations are nearly spoiled or depleted!?
   
?Tch. I see?? mutters Sakuya in dismay, ?Why hasn?t winter ended? Our supplies only last for a few months, which is how long winter is supposed to be, but??
   
Another fairy reports, ?Um? I know you?re not gonna like this, Miss Sakuya, but the internal heating has started to fail in some areas??
   
Sakuya tenses up, ?Wha? what areas would those be? It better not be the??
   
Suddenly, the entire mansion shakes from a burst of power coming from the lower levels. Everyone tenses up and Sakuya completely freezes with her fears confirmed. The shaking dies down after a few seconds.
   
Sakuya orders, ?Do what you can about fixing the heating! The basement gets the first priority! Do everything you can to keep Miss Flandre pacified!?
   
?RIGHT AWAY!? The fairies frantically leave the lobby to carry out Sakuya?s orders. Fairy maids aren?t particularly hard workers, but when it comes to quelling Flandre?s wrath in any ways they can, they tend to be diligent. Flandre is Remilia?s younger sister. Despite being well-meaning and normally docile, she naturally has the tendency to go on a psychopathic rampage if upset by something, like the cold. For that reason, she is kept in the mansion?s basement, and is constantly spoiled to make sure she is perfectly content.
   
Sakuya runs a hand across her braided silver hair and pats a spot of dust off her blue outfit. She was once a vampire hunter, but when she targeted and battled Remilia, she was soundly defeated. However, Remilia proved to not be like most other vampire in the sense that she showed her mercy afterward, sparing her life and allowing her to serve Remilia as a maid, giving her the name she currently answers to. However, everything before her days as a hunter remains a complete blank. She says to herself that it no longer matters, but at the same time, she continues to wonder who she is. She possesses the ability to manipulate time in the sense that she can move freely through a frozen instant. From her point of view, it cannot be any longer than a few seconds, unless her power is enhanced via a spell card, not to mention that such an ability requires temendous energy. The simple fact that she has such a power, however, is a mystery in itself, as it is a top-level ability, beyond the capability of most youkai, much less a human. Where and how she gained her power is a much a mystery as her past, before becoming a hunter. With these in mind, she asks herself the question many without memories ask themselves, to the point that it is clich?, but an important question nonetheless: Who am I?
   
?Zzzzzzzzzzzz?? Sakuya?s thoughts are interrupted by the sound of someone snoring, coming from one of the lobby?s side rooms.
   
?What could that possibly be? It best not be one of the maids neglecting her duty?? Sakuya checks the side room, a guest room, and sees someone sleeping on one of the sofas, a girl with bright red hair, partially braided, like Sakuya?s, only longer, wearing a green Chinese-style dress, as well as a green hat with a gold star on it. She is the gatekeeper of Scarlet Devil Mansion, Hong Meiling. She is a youkai, like 99% of Scarlet Devil Mansion?s inhabitants. She is a practitioner of martial arts, and is capable to manipulate her chi in the form of powerful attacks.
   
?Meiling? Well, at least it?s not a maid? Still?? Sakuya lightly kicks the sofa, shaking it a bit, but not enough to wake up Meiling. ?Okay? Let?s try this, then?? Sakuya goes around to the back of the couch, squats down, grabs the bottom, and then puts all her weight into tipping it over. She dumps Meiling off the couch and she rolls across the floor, waking up.
   
?Owww? Who the hell did???
   
?Good morning,? says Sakuya in a deceptively sweet voice, ?Did you have a good sleep??
   
??Good sleep?? yells Meiling, ?Why?d you dump me off like that??
   
?Why?d YOU come inside?? asks Sakuya, with a smirk, talking back to Meiling, ?You?re supposed to be outside, guarding the gate!?
   
?You?re kidding, right?? asks Meiling, ?I?d like to see you stand through that for hours on end! I?d also like to see any would-be intruders go out in that!?
   
Sakuya realizes what Meiling is saying and says, ?True, you may be right. Fine then, guard the door, but don?t let anyone else catch you sleeping!?
   
?Thank you, Sakuya,? says Meiling in gratitude, ?You?re a lifesaver!?
   
?Lifesaver, huh?? mutters Sakuya, recalling her days as a vampire assassin. She walks out of the room.
   
Sakuya decides to pay a visit to Remilia herself. After heading to the highest level of the mansion, she knocks on the door to Remilia?s quarters, ?Remilia-sama, it?s me! May I come in??
   
?Yes, please do,? answers Remilia from the other side of the door.
   
Sakuya enters. Remilia?s room is the epitome of elegance. Everything is made of beautiful metals; Remilia?s bed is large with a canopy hanging over it, there are guest chairs with soft cushioning, a large fireplace, and a balcony, the doors to which are closed because of the weather. Remilia sits in one of the guest chairs, next to the lit fireplace, sipping a small cup of blood. Remilia Scarlet, AKA The Scarlet Devil, stands at a height of only five or so feet, has blue hair, and wears a pink dress and hat, but what distinguishes her the most is her fangs, claws, her crimson eyes, and the bat-like wings on her back. She looks between the ages of 12 and 14, but she is really over 500 years old. ?Welcome, Sakuya. How are things around the mansion??
   
Sakuya pauses and answers, ?Not so well, milady. The elongated winter has taken its toll on our supplies and the heating in some areas is starting to fail, such as that of Flandre?s room. That area is under repair as we speak.?
   
Remilia sips from her cup and says, ?I see. I should visit my sister later??
   
?That would be a wise decision, mistress.?
   
?Sakuya, could you please close the curtains to the balcony? The sun will rise before long.?
   
?At once,? Sakuya walks to the balcony and closes the thick curtains over the fronts of the glass doors. The mansion has very few windows, as vampires like Remilia and Flandre cannot survive in sunlight, but the windows that the mansion does have are well covered for that same reason.
   
Remilia says, ?This winter is getting to be a real pain. How much longer is spring going to wait??
   
?Not much longer, I hope,? says Sakuya, ?If this goes on much longer, we will be in trouble??
   
?I see. Thank you, Sakuya,? says Remilia, dismissing Sakuya.
   
?You?re welcome, milady,? replies Sakuya, taking her leave.

Sakuya heads to the top of one of the mansion?s towers. She watches the sun rise from one of the windows, an unexpected sight, considering the blizzard from a couple hours before. Sunlight spreads across the land and surrounding lake and reflects off the snow and ice. No matter what the situation, such a sight is beautiful, but Sakuya had long since lost appreciation of it. She grits her teeth in frustration, ?Damn... How much longer? I can?t enjoy this anymore! Because of this season, everything is falling apart! Spring should be here by now! Why isn?t it? It?s always come so much earlier!? She takes a few deep breaths and calmly says, ?Perhaps I can get some words of wisdom regarding this predicament to put my mind at ease?? She leaves the tower, briefly stops by the kitchen to pour a cup of tea, and then heads to the mansion?s library.
   
The library of Scarlet Devil Mansion is one of the largest information sources in Gensokyo. The only problem is that it has so many bookshelves, it practically forms a maze, so Sakuya must always fly to navigate the room successfully. The edges of the large room are comprised of extra large bookshelves. So large, stairways are necessary to allow those with no talent for flying to access them. In the far back of the dimly lit library is the person Sakuya is looking for, a youkai named Patchouli Knowledge, reclined in a chair, next to a small round table, reading one of the many books kept in the library. She wears nightclothes, specifically a white nightgown and nightcap with a crescent-shaped brooch attached. She has long violet hair, maintained by blue ribbons, and skin almost as white as the snow outside. Being both anemic and asthmatic, there is very little Patchouli can do, activity-wise, so she spends the vast majority of her time reading about various things. As such, she is also knowledgeable in the art of magic, making her one of the most powerful witches in Gensokyo, albeit the least outgoing, only defeated once before by another witch, Marisa Kirisame, though it ended close and Patchouli really hasn?t fought many people anyway.
   
Standing close by to Patchouli is her long red-haired assistant, with black clothes and bat-like wings on the sides of her head.
   
?Good morning, Patchouli,? greets Sakuya, placing the cup of tea she poured onto the table.
   
?Thank you,? replies Patchouli in a moderately high-toned, yet monotonous, voice, ?How is the weather? Is it spring yet??
   
?Actually, that is something I wanted to talk to you about. It?s still winter and it is worse than ever??
   
Patchouli sighs and says, ?This has dragged on far too long to be natural??
   
?Huh? What do you mean??
   
?AHHHH! HELP!? Before Patchouli can answer, a high-pitched scream, obviously coming from a fairy echoes from outside the library. Two fairy maids fly into the library. One of them frantically yells, ?Miss Sakuya! Why are you here? The mansion has been infiltrated by a swarm of wild fairies!?
   
?What?? exclaim Sakuya and Patchouli in unison.
   
The other fairy says, ?The mistress and Meiling have held most of them off, but the rest that escaped are headed this way! You?d better get ready for_? Before the fairies can continue, they are silenced by a pair of magical bullets and burst. Roughly twenty fairies, all dressed in one-piece blue dresses and ribbons fly into the library.
   
Fairies that work as maids differ from the wild fairies in the sense that they are of a higher level of intelligence. Wild fairies lack the ability to think or speak, and are driven by instinct. In this way, they are considerably more dangerous than maid fairies, which are the same in terms of power, but have consciences.
   
?Shoot?? mutters Sakuya, pulling a knife out from under her belt, ?This doesn?t happen everyday!?
   
Patchouli lazily hops to her feet and turns to her assistant, ?Koakuma. Please lower the shelves. I do not want any tomes to be harmed by this invasion.?
   
?Yes, Miss Knowledge!? The assistant, Koakuma walks to a nearby lever, sticking out of the floor, and kicks it. All the bookshelves, besides the side ones, sink into the floor, via a mechanism below the library, which Patchouli requested to protect the books. Without the bookshelves, the library is more spacious than a school gymnasium, and there is nothing to make the current inhabitant of the library hold back.
   
Patchouli draws a spell card, ?Fire Sign.? The card converts into red energy that radiates through Patchouli?s body, ?Agni Shine.? Patchoul spreads her arms and a fire storm brews in the library?s upper levels, destroying all but two of the fairies before it clears. Tiny pink objects, resembling miniature cherry blossom petals, flutter to the floor.
   
Sakuya flies straight at one of the remaining fairies and cuts it in half with a wide-arc slash of her knife. Afterward, she tosses the same knife at the last fairy, destroying it. Her attention switches to the petal-like things the fairies dropped. She picks one up, the the rest gather in her hand, forming a glowing pink orb, ?Huh? Just? what is this??
   
Two fairy maids fly into the room, both carrying slightly larger orbs. One says, ?These? thingamajigs formed from some weird things that fell from the fairies that the mistress and Meiling destroyed. They requested that we take them to Patchouli to have them analyzed.?
   
Patchouli pauses and says, ?Very well. Give them to Sakuya.?
   
Sakuya accepts the orbs from the fairies, who leave the room afterward.
   
?Do you have any idea of what they are?? asks Sakuya to Patchouli.
   
?I think I might,? answers Patchouli, ?Please escort me to the flower garden.?
   
Sakuya protests, ?You can?t go outside. It may be hazardous to your health.?
   
?I will be fine,? says Patchouli, ?I don?t plan to be out there long. There is something I must experiment with.?
   
?Very well,? says Sakuya, ?Come with me.?
   
As they walk through the halls, Sakuya asks, ?So what do you think of these orb-things??
   
Patchouli says, ?I think they might be related to why we?ve had such a long winter.?
   
?What? How??
   
?There have been various theories regarding seasons. Some say that it depends on the planet?s axis at a certain time during the year; others say it?s the natural alteration of weather and vegetation? However, one of the more likely explanations I have read about involves the ?essence? of seasons??
   
??Essence???
   
?Gensokyo?s seasons are comprised of an essence that manifests itself at a certain time of year and matures. It first comes to be in spring, reaches full maturity in summer, dies down in autumn, and completely dies and starts to regenerate in winter, which brings us back to spring. Without that essence, the only state the world can exist in is that of winter. What I believe has happened is that the essence has been stolen somehow.?
   
?Huh? You mean to say that someone ?stole? spring??
   
?I know it sounds absurd from your less-educated point-of-view, but yes. In a way, the essence has a mind of its own and takes on a form in time of need.?
   
?Would that be these orbs??
   
?I don?t know yet. That?s why we must reach the flower garden??
   
Within minutes, Sakuya and Patchouli arrive in the mansion?s courtyard. Normally, there is a beautiful bed of flowers here, but right now, they are all withered and buried under snow. The cold is hard on Patchouli, as she lacks adequate winter clothes, but she endures.
   
Patchouli asks, ?Sakuya, could you please dust some of the snow off one of the flowers??
   
?Yes?? Sakuya squats down at the edge of where the flowers are supposed to be, picks the snow off of a withered flower, and tosses it to the side.
   
?Thank you. Excuse me please?? Sakuya moves to the side as Patchouli steps in her place, ?Could I have the small orb please??
   
?Of course,? Sakuya hands ?her? orb to Patchouli, who drops it on the withered flower. Before touching the flower, the orb splits into its original petal form which effortlessly sinks into the ground. Within seconds, the flower starts to regain color and springs back to life. A few blades of green grass also sprout up. The snow around that area quickly melts.
   
Patchouli holds her hand around the area of the flower, ?It?s warm. A pocket of spring surrounded by winter.? Sakuya does the same. Sure enough, the temperature around the revived flower, as well as upward, is warm, but not overly hot, like spring. ?It?s exactly as I thought??
   
?So is this that ?essence? you were talking about??
   
?Indeed. All signs indicate that it is. However?? Suddenly, the warmth disappears and the flower and grass wither once again, ?Without more essence to sustain it, the results are only temporary. A small amount of spring essence has limited effects on its own. As I stated earlier, the essence of spring presents itself in a physical form when it is in need, so, with its identity proven, I can positively say that spring was indeed stolen from us. Let us go back inside, Sakuya.?
   
After a few seconds of hesitation, Sakuya replies, ?Yes??
   
They return indoors and walk back in the direction of the library. After thinking it over, Sakuya asks, ?Patchouli! Who would want to steal spring??
   
Patchouli calmly answers with her own question, ?Why do you ask me this all the sudden??
   
?I?m going!? declares Sakuya, ?I?m not waiting for someone else to figure out what?s going on and take back spring! I know the situation, and I am going to fix things around here! I want our season back, and I will save everyone in this mansion! Winter must not last any longer! Tell me, Patchouli! Give me some leads! Who would want to take spring away??
   
?Such determination,? says Patchouli in a slightly impressed tone, ?I honestly do not know for certain, but there is a youkai who goes by the name, Letty Whiterock. She is an apparition that only appears during the winter, and sleeps during the other seasons. I imagine she?s one of the few people who cares for this current predicament. I?d say she is one possible suspect.?
   
?Very well,? says Sakuya, ?Where can I find this ?Letty???
   
?She is often found in the Forest of Magic.?
   
?Okay!? confirms Sakuya, ?I?m off then! I will come back with a much warmer season!?
   
Patchouli cracks a slight smile and says, ?Good luck.? Sakuya runs ahead.
   
Dashing through the mansion?s corridors, Sakuya pulls another one of the essences out of her pocket and thinks to herself, I must find more essence like this! This is the key to recovering spring!
   
She finally arrives at the lobby, where she grabs a red scarf off a coat hanger, and heads to the door, where Meiling stands.
   
?Are you going somewhere?? asks Meiling.
   
?Yes,? answers Sakuya, ?I have learned about winter?s disappearance and I am going to investigate. You are in charge of protecting the mistress while I am away.?
   
?Sure thing!? replies Meiling, ?Good luck out there!?
   
?Thank you!? Sakuya opens the door and takes to the sky.

Re: Mercy of the Blossoming Self/Dual Strife/PoFV - Redux
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2009, 02:17:20 PM »
Sakuya flies off the island, over the frozen water, and arrives at the Forest of Magic, after a 25 minute flight. She looks down on the beautiful, but depressing forest of withered plants and says to herself, ?I wonder where in this forest Letty Whiterock is? The information Patchouli gave me isn?t solid, but I have nothing else to rely on right now. I just have to go with what I was informed?? Sakuya flies deeper into the forest at a lower altitude to get a better view. Finally, she enters a clearing and looks around, ?Blast? She?s not here either! This is a big forest, so I can?t rule out the possibility of Letty being here, but??
   
?Huh? You?re looking for Letty? Just what do you want?? A high-pitched voice, bordering on annoying, is heard from above. A small girl with short aqua hair and transparent light-blue wings, wearing a blue dress and green hair ribbon, slowly descends.
   
Sakuya glances up at her, ?Well, well, finally someone in this desolate forest. And your name is???
   
?CIRNO!? yells the girl. Sakuya had never met Cirno before, but Reimu and Marisa have, on their way over the lake to Scarlet Devil Mansion. She is among the higher level fairies, an ice fairy, but still weak in the eyes of many, although that does not stem from a lack of power. Cirno severely lacks in intelligence. Even though she is smarter than many low-level fairies, her brainpower is not up to the standard of most people and causes her to do a lot of stupid things. However, if she were smarter, she?d easily be one of the most powerful fairies in Gensokyo. Even so, some of her abilities are advanced enough that even some of the stronger inhabitants of Gensokyo can have problems.
   
?Right... so ?Cirno,? do you know where I can find Letty??
   
?What do you want with her? I don?t like what you?re up to!?
   
?You don?t even KNOW what I am up to!?
   
?It doesn?t matter! I say you?re up to no good, so you ARE up to no good!?
   
?? What is your problem? I just want to know if she stole spring.?
   
Cirno gasps and yells, ?I knew it! You want to end winter and take Letty away from me! Damn it, I won?t let you! Letty is up ahead, making a blizzard, but you?ll see her over my dead body!? She draws a spell card, ?Ice Sign!? Cirno?s body glows with blue energy. She flies high above Sakuya and extends her arms down at her, ?Icicle Fall!? Cirno?s blue energy flows outward from her entire body, materializing icicles around her, which fall like rain. However, the area directly below Cirno, where Sakuya hovers, is completely untouched by the rain of ice, only the area around it.
   
Sakuya observes the situation, shrugs, and asks, ?Um? What are you hoping to accomplish with this??
   
Cirno cackles and says, ?Everyone know the best way to do things is to circle around your enemy and attack from behind, but now, you can?t get around me! I am so smart!?
   
?Unbelievable?? mumbles Sakuya, grabbing one of her knives. She holds it by the hilt and tosses it upward. The knife slams hilt-first into Cirno?s forehead, where a large bump forms.
   
?Ugh? Ow? That hurt?? Cirno tumbles down from the sky and hits the ground in a daze, ?Uhhhhhh??
   
Sakuya turns and says, ??Make sure you opponent doesn?t attack from behind,? huh? Your strategy was sound, but your execution was way off. Still, you just might make it in the world. Let this be a valuable lesson to you. Now if you?ll excuse me, I have to find Letty?? She walks away, ??Making a blizzard,? huh? Why do I have a bad feeling about this???
   
Sakuya advances deeper into the forest. The temperature gradually becomes colder, the further she goes. Finally, she reaches an area with strong frigid winds blowing snow around, like a miniature blizzard. ?I? guess this is it?? Sakuya covers her body with her arms in a vain attempt to remain warm. Despite that, in a burst of energy, she yells, ?You're here, aren't you? SHOW YOURSELF, LETTY WHITEROCK!?
   
The temperature increases slightly as the wind stops. Out of thin air, a figure materializes: A girl with light-violet hair, wearing a white hat, and purple and white clothes, ?Wow~ How lively! So? what do you need with me??
   
?So you?re Letty Whiterock. Are you responsible for spring?s disappearance??
   
?Why would I be??
   
?You only exist in Gensokyo during the winter, right? That makes you a suspect to me.?
   
?A long winter? Sounds fun! However, I have no idea how to do such a thing??
   
Sakuya pulls a ball of spring essence out of her pocket, ?Does this ring any bells??
   
?I haven?t the foggiest idea what that is.?
   
Sakuya returns the essence to her pocket, ?Hm? I will accept that you are telling me the truth? for now. You don?t seem to be lying, but count on me coming back if I learn otherwise??
   
?Just what are you after, asking me these questions?? asks Letty.
   
?I intend to end this winter and bring spring.? Sakuya turns and starts to walk away.
   
?I see,? says Letty, ?However, I, for one, enjoy being here longer. And so?? Letty raises her hand and materializes a spear of ice in the air. She sends it flying in Sakuya?s direction, which narrowly misses her head. Sakuya stops in her tracks and turns around ?? I will NOT let you go and do that. Winter will not end if I have anything to say about it!?
   
Sakuya draws a knife, ?DON?T cross me, Whiterock!? She tosses it and Letty narrowly dodges. Sakuya backs away, opening the distance between herself and Letty.
   
?Don?t be angry, Miss Maid! You want spring, I want winter! It?s simply a matter of who wants what more!? Letty spreads her arms, and all around her, small blades of ice, resembling snowflakes, materialize. They fly at Sakuya rapidly, one by one.
   
?Tch.? Sakuya quickly flies, dodging the blades. She prepares to tosses a knife at Letty, who creates a gust of cold wind, which blows into Sakuya?s eyes, throwing off her aim. She takes cover from the remaining blades by hiding behind a nearby tree. After the blades, Sakuya bolts out from her cover and tosses three knives.
   
?Heh,? Letty creates another gust of frigid wind, which throws the knives off course. She extends her arms, and sends a flurry of icy bullets in Sakuya?s direction.
   
Sakuya pauses time long enough for her to get out of the bullets? path.
   
Letty draws a spell card, ?Cold Sign!? The card turns into white ring of energy, which quickly disperses, ?COLD SNAP!? Suddenly, the already-low temperature acutely drops.
   
Sakuya drops her knives and staggers back as she covers her body with her arms, shivering, ?What? is this???
   
?Cold Snap!? answers Letty, ?Didn?t you hear me say it? I lower the temperature so much that the poor victim, namely you, will freeze up like a statue!?
   
?Damn it?? Sakuya tries to reach down for her knives, only to notice that her joints are becoming stiff. She wasn?t exaggerating! In a matter of seconds, I won?t be able to move at all! Suddenly, Sakuya recalls the effects of the spring essence that Patchouli demonstrated. That?s it! Using her remaining mobility, Sakuya reaches into her pocket and pulls out an orb of spring essence. This had better work! She drops the orb and it sinks into the ground, like it was absorbed. Suddenly, she is surrounded by a comforting amount of warmth. Her body once again moves freely and the snow at her feet melts, sprouting grass in the invisible pillar of spring.
   
Letty gasps and asks, ?Wh-what?s that??
   
?The power of spring!? answers Sakuya, ?I guess it?s only befitting that it overcomes the winter!?
   
Letty?s expression turns from confident to worried, ?Um??
   
?You can?t stop until your spell card?s effects wear off, right? Well then, allow me MY spell card!? Sakuya draws a spell card, ?Illusion Sign!? The card vanishes and countless knives materialize around Sakuya.
   
?Ahhh!?
   
Sakuya points her finger at Letty, ?KILLING DOLL!? The knives speed toward Letty like missiles and tear through her.
   
?Argh!? The effects from the Cold Snap break, returning the temperature to normal, just as the effects from the spring essence Sakuya used wear off. Letty, with white mist pouring out of her wounds, slumps to her knees.
   
Sakuya glares at Letty coldly, ?Had enough??
   
?Ugh? yes??
   
Sakuya turns her back, ?Then I will be on my way. Don?t even think of trying to stop me this time. Sakuya takes a couple steps then pauses, ?It?s not that I don?t understand you, Letty, but many people are suffering because of this winter. Because of that, it?s important to get it back.?
   
?I see?? replies Letty.
   
?Even if spring returns, it doesn?t mean there won?t be another winter. It?s just as eternal as any other season.? With that, Sakuya takes to the sky.
   
Letty sits on the ground and says to herself, ??Eternal,? huh??
   
?I saw all that!? Cirno approaches Letty, ?I know you could have done much more than that! Why did you stop where you did??
   
Letty answers, ?I wanted to try to preserve this winter, but even if I stopped her, someone else in Gensokyo would have still risen to the occasion, I?m sure. The winter that is happening now is not natural, and I really should only represent a TRUE winter. Spring must come, as nature dictates??
   
Tears roll down Cirno?s cheeks, ?NO! I don?t want you to go! I want to play with you forever and ever!?
   
Letty humbly smiles and says, ?Cirno, as a youkai, you have a long life ahead of you... hundreds of years, in fact. That means you will live for hundreds of winters, and I will be there to play with you for each and every one. I will always come back to you.?
   
?Letty??
   
Letty rises to her feet, ?C?mon, Cirno. Let?s go and make the most of the rest of this winter!?
   
Cirno smiles happily, ?Yeah!?

==
   
Elsewhere, above the Forest of Magic, Sakuya flies and thinks out loud, ?So Letty wasn?t behind spring?s disappearance? but who else could have done this? Who else could have benefited from stealing spring? I should return to the mansion and ask Patchouli for more leads??
   
After a few minutes of flying, Sakuya sees two figures flying below: Blue-clad fairies, like the ones that invaded Scarlet Devil Mansion. ?Hm? More of them... Well, I?d might as well take whatever essence they?re carrying?? Sakuya draws two knives and tosses them, cutting through the fairies with perfect accuracy. The essence flutters to the ground.
   
However, two other figure emerge from the cover of the forest?s trees. After a few seconds of observation, Sakuya recognizes them as Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame.
   
Marisa says in a confused tone, ?Huh? I didn?t do anything??
   
Reimu looks in the direction of Sakuya?s knives, sticking out of the ground, ?Huh? I know these knives?? She turns and looks skyward, straight at Sakuya, ?Suh? SAKUYA??
   
Sakuya sighs and says, ?Oh, it?s you two. I should have known.?