Author Notes: yfw I made this account in 2011 but only just now using it
So, I made a fanfic.
I'm an admin of both a large Type-Moon group (Type-Moon Multiverse) and PH's probably largest Touhou community. So the thought of writing a TouhouxTM fic has run by me many times already. It's only just now that I've come to actually write it.
R&R would be appreciated.
There will be some spelling errors here and there because Notepad doesn't have spellchecker, but there shouldn't be anything major.
The night of winter is typically a very quiet one indeed. The excitement of summer, the vibrance of spring, and the appetite of autumn are all magnanimously absent during the cold solstice of the frost. A sight of snow-covered grounds, starless night skies and dancing flakes are all that grace the view of one who would gaze outside.
Particularly, at the temple of Hakurei, a girl scarcely in her late teens stares absentmindedly at the fields freshly liberated of the heavy snow that earlier choked it.
Her shivers are rhythmic and her breaths took the form of heavy mist whenever she breathed out. Her thick coat lined with dense foxskin, heavy cotton scarf and wool mittens and socks did little to stop the permeating cold that pricked her lithe body like numerous needles.
"It's been five days like this already..." she mutters under labored breaths.
Indeed, five days of relentless blizzard is devastating the region. Regardless of one's preparations for the winter, the need to gather fuel to warm a home needs to be done every so often. Especially in a time when one needs to constantly labor in removing snow from the roof of their abodes, the need for warmth to recover from such is a dire necessity, or risk being crushed under frost and debris. Needless to say, temples and houses surrounded by trees such as this are quite fortunate as the wind and snow both are quite effectively tamed by the natural obstacles. Due to this, the temple has already become an evacuation center of sorts for those without much thought placed in the construction of their shelters. However unfortunately for the owner's nerves, the evacuees aren't exactly those of the same species as her.
"This would be a problem if anybody from the village comes to pay respects..."
... Although that kind of scenario was highly unlikely due to the calamity in prss.
In spite of that, her thoughts drift on what to use as an excuse. Whether it was an attempt at humor for herself or to distract herself from the current situation, she continues musing to herself when a voice snaps her out of her thoughts.
"Hey Reimu~! I finished shoveling the snow off the grounds. I placed them in containers just like you asked. And here's two of them to last the night."
The owner of the voice comes from a petite girl of barely five feet in height. At a glance, her fair features, pale skin, unkempt bright-auburn hair and with her body covered in a thick deerhide coat she gives the impression of a recently orphaned kid looking for a new home. But when one take's notice of the two large horns-each at least as long as one of her arms, growing out of the sides of her head and the two large barrels of freshly-collected snow she's carrying under each arm, that kind of impression falls apart in a rather impressive fashion.
"Yeah, thanks Suika. If we boil that we'd have enough fresh water for normal use for a day."
"I'll boil it now then."
"Ah, but man, ogres sure are handy to have around the house, huh."
The oni's laugh, though hearty, reeks of alcohol. Even from a few meters away, the scent's pervasiveness tickles. With the weather it's like being served cold sake through the nose.
"Then you better prepare some nice booze for tonight, Reimu!"
Declaring such, Suika teeters off towards the house. Now that she's moving, it's quite obvious to see that she already had some alcohol beforehand, as her steps were unsteady, her balance is off and her breathing is ragged. It's a sight to see her balance two large containers around herself while being half-drunk; a testament to the power between her arms.
After seeing the horned oni off to the house, Reimu places her gaze back to the desolation outside, hoping every second that things would calm down at least to the point where she could check on how the village downhill was faring. While she knows that there's not much need to involve herself with humans as the Hakurei shrine maiden, her human conscience cannot help but stain her thoughts with concern. After all, even if she lived alone for most of her life, there's still that sense of kinship between those of the same species. However little that is, it's a problem for one who is tasked in maintaining the status quo of the region, but in retrospect, it is probably the only thing that keeps her sane.
It's not like they're powerless about it. Not even close. Rather than not being able to do anything about it, it's more like they -shouldn't- do anything about it; at least that's what the gods who could remedy the situation had reasoned.
"If we had forcibly changed this great storm to one of calm, the repercussions in the future would effect to an even more dire situation than this one," excused the frog-footed goddess of the mountain. "It would have been a small matter if only a drizzle raised cause for concern, but this is a rather spirited blizzard. Putting this off might make the following one angrier."
Their words were reasonable, and due to their own hardships in lasting through the snowstorm, the gods really had no reason to lie. Unfortunately, that meant there was no chance in averting the impending crisis upon the region. All anybody could do is wait it out and pray.
"... if only just prayer solved everything."
Unfitting of a shrine priestess, Reimu uttered these words under her wraps, soft enough that even the sharp ears of an oni woulnd't be able to pick it up. However...
"What's this I am hearing from a shrine maiden?"
A voice overflowing with haughty confidence and regal bearing pierced through the sounds of the tree-broke wind. It's owner, a diminutive devil with large, bat-like wings off her waist, and shining white fangs poking out of a condescending grin. In stark contrast to the former's thick and heavy garments of assorted animal hides, the visitor's only garbs consisted of a slightly thick white dress, white wool hat and black mittens, and a large fur coat hugging her small frame quite loosely. Her footwear can't be determined from a glance due to the length of the dress.
Despite being out in the snowstorm, her straight posture and solid foundation shows her resilience to any form of shivers. Indeed, even her wings, which should serve as a hindrance in trying to keep heat, instead keeps itself comfortable to the point where it fluttered every so often in tense anticipation.
"So, aren't you going to invite your guest in?"
"Freeloaders aren't guests, Remilia."
Said complaint was made with the demon's chest out, hands on the waist, and the face wearing a smug smile. Looking proud of herself for something that should not really be a compliment, the little devil seems satisfied with the brief exchange of greetings and mud.
Realizing that she really does not have the energy - both physically and psychologically, to deal with her uninvited friend, Reimu exhales deeply and starts for the house without saying anything else. And her friend, Remilia, taking this as a sign that she's now welcome into the temple out of the workings of her own mind, hops cheerfully along inside.
A quick glance at the kitchen tells Reimu of the current time; the rice is only just now being rinsed with the freshly-melted snow. This meant something entirely different from what the dark night-like sky tells.
"... It's not even evening yet..."
At such times of dire straits, it is often encouraged that groups attempt to try to lift up the spirits of each other to avoid falling into hopelessness. However little it matters to a group of individuals who, by themselves, can stave off disaster with their own hands, it is still a welcome habit out of empathy towards those who aren't so fortunate. And so these handful of seeming misfits exchange glasses of heated sake and chilled booze over small talk over the current predicament observed through the eyes of the more liberated ones; those able to walk the region despite the cold winds battering any constitution weaker than theirs.
"The Buddhists over at the outskirts seem to be doing just fine. Although they can't make use of their fields, they've already stored enough provisions to last them through this and then some."
Somewhat displeased by the monks' trouble-free situation, the first one to share, Remilia continues with her bi-daily report.
"The tengu of the mountain seems to be faring pretty badly, particularly those not of the mammal origins, since they're the hardheaded type and made their houses much like the humans in the village do. They've actually moved down the mountain near the Kappa settlement to get away from the heights where the blizzard fares stronger. Although, the others like the wolf tengu seem to be pretty comfortable, since they built their houses of stones and are used to the cold environs.
On the matter of the Bamboo Forest, the mansion inside has taken in as many of the surrounding inhabitants as they could and sealed the place in a manner like they did before they messed with the moon. It's currently unreachable, but it should also mean that it's perfectly safe... Well that concludes what I saw today."
Remilia finishes her report with a sour look on her face. The reason isn't so much as due to her own home being in peril as anybody would guess from seeing a similar face in such a calamity; her mansion is fine. In fact the reason why she's outside as a volunteer to scout the region is still a mystery; someone of her status and character did not seem to be the type to willingly extend a hand without any symbiotic relationship to be born out of the situation. However, as Remilia was doing Reimu a favor, the latter didn't have the luxury to ask her as to why.
"So, as expected, despite everyone having their own troubles, it seems only the humans' village is in a position where there's no other clear alternative for relief."
"That goes without saying. I doubt they will welcome aid from a youkai either. Humans are such stubborn creatures. You'd think they'd open up a bit more considering youkai frequent the village almost as regularly as anybody living on the outskirts do."
"At least the alcohol they make is nice."
"That's all you ever think about, huh, pipsqueak?"
"I don't need to hear that from someone the same size as me."
Ignoring Suika and Remilia's commotion, Reimu passes a glance at the current 'refugees' her temple is sheltering. Of note there are three fairies, and a youkai who wore masks. Other than that, she counts at least half a dozen more either lounging around or already asleep. In a situation like this, company's nice, but the constituents of such proves to be quite the problem in the event that someone discovers this and makes a fuss in the village.
The shrine maiden specializing in youkai extermination, sheltering youkai. Not a very pleasant thought if one cares about public image.
Then again, she can't exactly just kick them out. Or, rather than can't, she didn't want to. Anybody can argue that she's gotten too close to those she's supposed to get rid of, and regardless of any excuses she can make, it was true. As a matter of fact, the Hakurei are blessed by both their local god-a dragon, and a powerful youkai, one who resides between boundaries. So despite having abilities that are a bane towards them, it's also of youkai origins as well.
That, and because of personal reasons. She's bonded with every one of the refugees for a long time before this already. Just opening her mouth to respond with rejection caused her heart to feel like lead. It was not a pleasant feeling.
"Hey, are you listening, Reimu?"
"-Ah? Yeah, yeah..."
"So, what do you think?"
Reimu obviously can't answer Remilia's question with anything. Her thoughts were adrift and her mind is exhausted. Moving is a bother, and thinking, moreso.
"... I'm going outside for a bit."
"Outside? In this storm?"
"Yeah... I need to get some quiet... away from the freeloaders."
Seemingly as if both Remilia and Suika did not care much about the obvious anxiety Reimu was exhibiting, they both pout and let out a noise like a shrill 'boo'. Of course, Reimu ignores them easily and walks outside without saying anything else, leaving the two to continue arguing inside.
Immediately, upon stepping outside the house, Reimu's face gets painted with regret-and frostbite. Deciding against going back into the house due to fear of looking like an idiot, though, she continues trudging around the compound with her feet that kind of feels like they're heavier than her torso. Again, it was fortunate that the dense forestry around the grounds broke up the blizzard's winds, allowing her to roam with only barely a foot's thickness worth of snow to worry about.
Outside, Reimu feels a long-forgotten peace. Despite the winds chilling her to the marrows, and the snow's cold stabbing at her feet, walking through the dark nothing is nothing short of relaxing.
"... Though I could die from staying here for too long."
Reimu smiles at the thought while hugging her thick coat closer to her body. The shivering has started, but the heat she made while walking along with the alone time with the wind made it feel comfortable.
The howling winds also effectively drowned out the commotion inside her house.
Her thoughts start drifting off again. She remembers what happened a few days ago when she tried to help the villagers. During the first few days of the blizzard, a lot of the men decided that they would go out into the forest to obtain firewood while the snowstorm was still on its early stages. However, the storm abruptly grew worse and none of the men returned from their errand. As this report got to her ears, Reimu immediately stood up and headed to the door. She was stopped by Suika, who reminded her that it wasn't her duty to do so. Fair point, but even with simple sympathy, Suika's half-drunk eyes held a seriousness that bordered along the lines of violence. She was threatening Reimu to stay in her spectator's seat.
And the crushing pressure she felt from Suika's hands on her wrist reminded her of the vast difference in their power.
A day afterwards, Suika reported that she found the bodies of 17 men in the forest, circled around the burnt remains of what would have been the firewood they had gone out to gather. They didn't last long, since all they had gathered were softwood. Even without being there to see it herself, Reimu knew what the scene would have looked like.
But why did Suika stop her? Was it because of her lack of pity or empathy towards humans? Was it because she was worried about Reimu?
It wasn't anything she didn't know in the first place. Suika stopped her because she was the Hakurei Shrine Maiden.
And she can't help humans if youkai weren't involved
That is her role. To watch as disaster took hold of the region. Of course, she wasn't allowed to give assistance to youkai either; the fact that they were currently intruding on the hospitality of her temple as refugees was simply a matter of course and not of any voluntary initiative of her own. Which, considering that, begs the question: Why didn't any of the humans evacuate there? The best places to run to during a blizzard would be structurally-sound shelters where one is protected from the winds, like a cave. While a house is fit for such a purpose, the issue of collapse becomes the main problem. Refusing to adopt the mountain gods' "concrete", the houses at the village were constructed primarily out of lumber. That is plenty strong enough on most occasions providing one is able to clear the built-up snow from the roof every so often. However, in this case, due to the unrelenting storm, spending just a few minutes subject to the kind of wind that could threaten to sweep a man off his feet is suicide, especially if the protective garment used isn't strong or thick enough.
Remarkably, as if the indifference is only natural, any updates on the rising death toll from the village from either collapse or cold did not make Reimu feel anything discomforting. As far as she can remember, her best reaction was disappointment when she heard that a family and their pet dog were crushed by their two-storey house; and even at that she can't even say if her reaction was for the humans or for the dog.
Is she slowly losing her humanity? If so, then losing it during this catastrophe would be awfully convenient.
Reimu's musings while treading through the snow was a good distraction from the cold. With only the howling wind talking to her, she continues her aimless journey around sacred temple grounds. Her thoughts started to drift on other, less significant things. The inconsistent, in-comprehensive, erratic nature of her thinking further dulls her already slow and lumbering movements.
It didn't matter, though. She can afford this brief period of abandon. A shrine maiden's intuition wouldn't help much when you are only on guard against the strong winter winds. It's not like a bullet will just pop out of nowhere and hit her leg when she's off her guard, right?
Ignorance is bliss, they say.
-and she falls, unmoving.
A burning sensation replaced her senses.
She can't move her body. No, it's like her brain is turning every activity into fire. All, except her ability to feel pain.
Indescribable pain. It's like being cooked from inside out, but without the capacity to lose nervous function due to physical damage. Even thinking pained her.
Why am I down?
Her mind is burning
Why am I not cold?
Her heart and mind is on fire
-am I dead?
No, she can't be.
A pain that transcends imagination rushes through her body. Fearing death, the body moved of its own accord, thoughtlessly trying to resist. She can't feel her body; but nevertheless she needs to take a stand.
Her eyes open. The burning feeling intensifies to the point of making her regurgitate. But even that is replaced by the same searing pain.
-but she can see.
She's on her hands and knees, on the ground with the snow around her oblivious to her burning self. There are no burn marks on her. However...
There's a large spike, of around just a little less than a meter in length, and around five centimeters in radius, embedded on her right thigh. It was glowing with an eerie white glow; like a shining white light with a dark afterglow. Its form was like a giant toothpick with its end tapered into another sharp point. A lot of blood is coming out of the wound. She knows she needs to stop the bleeding soon, else she'll die from blood loss without ever feeling it.
Although, a question remains. Where did it come from? It did not look anything like she has seen before. Although, she might have seen it but as of now she does not have the luxury to attempt any deeper reminiscing due to the pain it follows. Whatever it is, it's the source of her predicament. She needs to get it out of her.
Ignoring her body's screams for rest, Reimu pulls her arms and torso off the snow-covered soil. She grabs the projectile's body as tightly as she can determine, and, lacking the strength to do it in one quick motion, painstakingly inches it out of her body.
Just from this she can see and feel the damage it has done. The huge initial resistance must mean that it had lodged itself into the bone. The ease of which she is able to remove it after being able to budge it a little means that it had ruined the flesh around it.
Can she even walk after this? With the spike gone, her thoughts slowly organizes themselves. And it just hit her with a new kind of feeling.
Then, she hears the sound of the wind breaking.
It's the kind of sound one hears when swinging around a stick, or when listening to the crow tengu taking off, or when firing an arrow from a bow.
... Yes, it was exactly that kind of sound.
-It is said that, in cases of impending death, adrenaline causes one to feel a distended sense of time. Like everything slowing down just so the dying could witness the last moments of his life just a bit longer than he would have; or perhaps that enabled one to reminisce his life in a brief moment of respite.
The projectile is of the same kind as earlier. The speed is roughly around the five times that of an arrow fired at full draw. The speed is so fast, in fact, that everything the arrow passed through that was unfortunate enough to be standing or near its way is demolished; trees and all. It's a bolt of the gods meant to smite its target with certainty.
And with an equal amount of certainty, Reimu knows; the arrow is headed straight to her head.
Then, her vision darkens.
... Was death as simple as that?
Not enough time passed to even ask that question, as the extremely loud sound of metallic impact shook the world. The sound was so loud that the ground beneath her shuddered. Then a sound akin to a large object traveling at high speed, like the sound Marisa's broom makes when she takes it to its limit, followed, resounding for a good five seconds until it slowly faded into obscurity.
The way it felt assures Reimu that she's still alive. If she could still feel scared, it must mean that she's still alive.
"A... ou... ay?"
The deafening chorus of noise earlier has made her hearing unreliable.
"Oi! Are you okay?!"
The shout of a stranger, the loudness of which almost rivals the earlier chaos, slaps Reimu's entire body out of its stupor.
"We need to go! I can't fight that thing. Not now."
There's a person standing in front of her, which explains her obstructed vision.
If Reimu has to describe him, or her in one word, it would have to be "warrior".
There is not a single inch of the person's body visible from what he was wearing. The pale silver of what seems to be metallic armor contrasts with its brilliant crimson highlights. the person's entire body is covered with it, with especially large pauldrons and waist guards. The silver entirety makes the entity look at peace with the snow around them. On the warrior's hand, a sword is brandished. It's a sword that to Reimu, looks more dazzling than the silver of the warrior's armor. If Reimu had to compare it with the greatest of the treasures stored in her shrine, the Yin-Yang Orb, it would be like comparing rubble to a cut diamond the size of a man's head, with the Yin-Yang Orb taking the unfortunate role of the former.
-And the helmet. Silver, like everything else, and covered the person's entire head. Fitting with the sharp overall appearance of the body armor, the helmet has two large horns protruding off its sides, giving the bearer a look of a demon. The helmet itself seems to be fused with the chestpiece, as there's no visible joint between the two pieces, making Reimu wonder how this person turns his head.
The silver figure moves with a speed that was too fast for Reimu to even catch, despite her proficient dynamic vision. And at that moment, another loud sound of steel clashing similar to the previous one destroys the previously awe-inspiring memory. The wind generated by the projectile being deflected is enough to even clear the snow around them; almost enough to throw Reimu into the air.
"Tch! Damnit! That was way stronger than the last one"
The silver-clad figure curses and mutters under his helmet. As if to compliment the previous remark, the shoulders carrying the burden of armor heaves from the exhaustion. The hands holding the sword were shaking from the impact's trauma. It's obvious that they wouldn't be able to survive another.
Then, a thought comes to Reimu. It's not exactly a pleasant thought, but the matter at hand forces her to speak up without considering her choices.
"Leave me! You have no obligation to save me!"
She'd laugh if she could at herself. Of course, a complete stranger has nothing to gain by saving her. And besides, she could have just escaped by her own abilities... but for some reason, she can't. Rather, she knows she couldn't. If she flew, there were 99 in 100 chances that she'd be shot down. The speed of that projectile would make her top speed look like a crawl.
So the best option was to let her die. It's obvious that the arrows were targeted at her. If her savior stayed, both of them will die.
"Nope, can't do that. Can't go around showing a weakness of the sort here."
The figure in silver denies without hesitation. Although Reimu should be grateful for it, it feels like the knight's intention behind saving her isn't out of a sense of justice or the like. Considering her previous statement, it's more like it was an attempt at proving something; probably the strength of that sword or the knight's own.
"Here comes another!"
Another impact, this time visibly and audibly more powerful than the last one, which was supposedly even stronger than the first. The sound made Reimu drop to her head and cover her ears in a futile attempt to block the sound. It still shattered her eardrums, and put her in a state of shell shock. The ground has given in to the force between the impact and the knight's greaves, creating a shallow crater centered around Reimu's defender.
"Hahhh! I'm dry!"
The knight lost her strength after defending Reimu from three projectiles. She's now only up on her feet by propping herself up using her sword. The thought of the sword being used as a walking stick slightly gives Reimu an unsure feeling, but she quickly shakes it off her mind.
The earlier impact had Reimu feeling extremely dizzy. As if to torment her further, the pain from the wound on her leg started to announce its presence-by stabbing at her nerves with a sharp, persistent pain.
"Hey, you! You wanna die?"
Reimu can't hear her savior's voice. Her ears are still ringing.
"I'm sorry to say, but if we don't do something soon, I'll leave you on the next shot."
She can make out a few words through her ruined ear. The knight was saying they won't survive.
"So, since I have no mana left, I have a proposal."
The sound of the wind breaking.
Despite her ears not working, the sound of her death cleanly reaches her ears.
It's the last arrow, bearing enough force that it made the air miles ahead of it split; a bolt that could kill even the air in front of it.
Death was certain.
"Do you want to be my Master?"