In a rocky passage, a small group of people, some of them with their hands and legs restrained by stocks and chains respectively, marched on, being led by people dressed like policemen of the olden days.
"Are we there yet?" asked one of the restrained people, a black-haired girl with a pair of small horns on her head.
"That's the tenth time you've asked that, Seija…" replied the red-haired woman dressed in a reddish kimono in lead, police commissioner Kotohime.
"Getting annoyed?" asked the black-haired girl, Seija, with a smirk.
"And that makes you happy, right?" Kotohime asked her.
"Hmmm… Let me think… People don't like it when they get annoyed, and since I like it when people are annoyed, that makes me happy!" replied Seija.
"You like to make things complicated, don't you?" Kotohime asked her.
"You still don't know me? I'm an amanojaku, and I do things the reversed way or in ways people usually don't do. You can say that being complicated is a part of my nature!" replied Seija.
"Then your days of doing those things are drawing to an end!" Kotohime told her. "I hope you spend your time in prison by reflecting on the evil things you've done in your life!"
"Oh, trust me, I will be reflecting on them… Reflecting on how fun they are and how I can outdo them in the future! Heeheehee!" said Seija.
"Let's see you try to do something now that you won't be able to see real sunlight again!" Kotohime told her with a smirk.
The group eventually came to a large set of doors made of rock, and floating in the air in front of it was a brown and white yin-yang orb with red markings around it. It spoke in what sounded like a male and female voice speaking at once. "I am Shingyoku, guardian of the gate to the Demon World and Hell. All must give me a reason so that I will grant access to those places."
Many of the people in the group came here for the first time and therefore had never seen Shingyoku before, so they were surprised at the appearance of a talking yin-yang orb. Kotohime approached the large orb and said to it, "It's us from the Gensokyo Police Department. We are here to send some prisoners to Infernal Prison."
"Inferno? You make it sound like we're going to hell," said Seija.
"Because the prison is located close to hell," Kotohime told her. "Infernal Prison is where the worst prisoners of Gensokyo and the Demon World are imprisoned."
"You come here bringing prisoners to the place they deserve for their crimes," said Shingyoku. "Your access shall be granted." The orb then glowed with yellow light while floating forward, causing the set of doors to slowly open. Behind it, one could see a passage of glowing blue light that led to a fork at the end.
Kotohime and the accompanying policemen led the prisoners through the door and walked down the passage, taking the right turn at the fork when they came to it. After about a minute of walking down that path, they emerged at a place with a red sky. Before them, there was a large fortified building located on a mass of land surrounded by lava.
The building resembled a tower that was about five stories tall, and its design gave it a "hellish" appearance. Surrounding the building were tall walls that had spikes on top of them.
"Welcome to Infernal Prison," Kotohime told the prisoners while wiping sweat off her forehead. "This is where you will be spending the rest of your lives."
"Oooh! Nice-looking place! I think I'm going to have fun here!" said Seija with a smirk.
"I'm sure you'll have fun!" Kotohime told her with an "evil" smile.
The prisoners were led towards the set of iron gates that led into the prison ground. The gate guards consisted of a pair of oni wielding large spiked clubs. Kotohime explained to them the reason they came here, and then they nodded before pushing open the gates to give them access inside.
As the prisoners were moving past the oni, one of the latter looked at Seija and said to his partner, "Amanojaku… Never liked them! Feels good every time I see one getting sent here!"
"Oh really? I'll see to it that you feel the opposite once I'm here!" said Seija with a grin when she heard what he said.
"Ha! I'd like to see you try while you're getting tortured and also when behind bars!" the oni said to her.
"Get moving!" Kotohime told Seija without turning her head.
When they got to the front door of the prison, the two fairy guards there were about to give them access inside when suddenly a siren went off, surprising everyone. It was the siren warning people that a prisoner had escaped, so the guards hastily locked the door. All the windows of the building became shut by metal panels.
One of the fairy guards' communication device contacted her, saying, "Elis has escaped! She is on her way towards the front door! Keep the door secured!"
"Already did that!" she replied.
Even though every exit in the prison was sealed tightly, the fairy and the oni guards still got ready in case the prisoner managed to escape somehow. They could hear screaming, shouting, and things being destroyed coming from inside the building.
Kotohime had heard the name Elis before, but she wasn't exactly sure about what kind of person she was. If the sound she heard coming from inside the building was any indication, then this Elis was someone not to take lightly at all.
The shouting became louder, an indication that it was getting close to the front door. "Don't worry; this door is so tough that even oni have problems trying to break through it," one of the fairy guards told Kotohime. "If oni can't break it down, not even a vampire like Elis can…
Before she could finish speaking, the metal panel sealing one of the windows near the front door burst away from its spot, and a purple bat with red eyes flew out at a fast speed, much to the surprise of everyone. "She escaped through the window!" shouted a voice from inside the building.
The oni guards got their weapons as the bat flew in their direction. Instead of heading for the exit, the bat went higher and attempted to fly over the wall surrounding the building. However, it crashed into an invisible barrier and got electrocuted by it before falling to the ground. When it hit the ground, it transformed into a blonde woman with purple eyes and a large pair of bat wings at her back.
"Bet you didn't see the force field coming, eh?" asked one of the oni. "Now get back to prison before you regret it!"
The woman glared at that oni for a second before rushing at him at an unexpectedly fast speed, slashing him across the face. The other oni swung his spiked club at the woman, but she got out of the way, and he ended up hitting his partner.
The woman appeared behind that oni and grabbed one of his horns before flinging him away. The oni who was accidentally hit in the face angrily swung down his club, but the woman dodged it and then reached her hand for the single horn on top of his head. She gripped it with a tremendous force, causing it to shatter. The oni cried in pain as strength drained from his body, and then the woman kicked him away in the face.
The front door of the prison building swung open, and several guards ran in her direction, carrying with them rifles. "Get her!" shouted the one in lead. "Don't let her get away! Kill her if you have to!"
The woman growled in frustration and then attempted to push open the iron gates leading out of the place. She was unable to open it, and she was forced to move out of the way when the guards fired at her.
Moving at a fast speed, the woman zipped around the place and easily took down several of the guards by slashing them with her claws. She also grabbed some and flung them away into others.
She was eventually shot in the shoulder, but she was able to shrug it off and then sped towards the one who shot her and bit him in the neck. The guard screamed as the woman drained him of his blood with such a speed that he shriveled in a matter of seconds, a sight that terrified the others.
After finishing her "meal," the woman turned to look at the others with an evil grin and said, "Much better!" When she spread her arms to the side, they all got into defensive stances. She swung both arms at the same time to fire a large amount of energy projectiles in the shape of spikes, and they went through the guards as smoothly as a knife through butter.
While this was going on, Kotohime and her group tried to keep their distance in order to not get involved. Rather than being shocked at what she was seeing, Seija had the kind of look that implied she was enjoying things.
The woman went on to kill the remaining guards, and when she was done, Kotohime, with her jutte pointing at her, shouted, "You're not going anywhere on my watch!"
The woman glared at her for a few seconds and then rushed in her direction at a fast speed in an attempt to claw her. Kotohime, thanks to having training in self-defense, was able to avoid her downward claw swipe in time by moving aside. Seija was standing behind Kotohime when this happened, and the woman ended up shattering the amanojaku's stocks.
The woman turned to Kotohime, who closed in on her and swung her jutte at her skillfully and in such a way that the former was unable to catch it. Even so, the latter was unable to hurt her.
Kotohime suddenly found herself flipped upside-down, and then she was slammed against the ground headfirst hard, passing out as a result. This surprised the woman, and then Seija called out to her. "That was me. Thanks for the help! These stocks were keeping me from using my powers." The amanojaku then reached out her hand to her. "What say the both of us try to get out of this place together? Something tells me we'll make a great chemistry!"
The woman glared at her for a few seconds and then said, "Grab onto my back."
"Nice of you to accept my offer!" said Seija happily as she jumped onto the woman's back.
"Hey! Take us along as well!" one of the prisoners brought here by Kotohime and her men said to the woman and Seija, but the former ignored them and flew for the gate, while the latter stuck out her tongue at them while flipping a bird.
"You're not getting away!" one of the oni guards angrily said to them with his club in his hand.
Pointing her hand at the oni, Seija used her power to make him spin in circles in the air multiple times before slamming him headfirst against the ground. The key to the gates that was strapped to his waist also fell off as a result, and the woman snatched it before it touched the ground and used it to unlock the gate.
More guards rushed out of the prison building to chase them. "Don't let them get away!"
Once the gate was opened, the woman flew outside as fast as she could with Seija on her back. None of the guards were able to catch up with her. The woman headed into the passage of blue light until she came across the door guarded by Shingyoku.
Shingyoku suddenly appeared in a flash of light before the door. "Oh right, there's still this thing we have to get through first," said Seija.
"I know who you are and I will not allow you to leave this place!" said the yin-yang orb.
"Get out of my way!" the woman angrily shouted at it. She rushed at the orb and swung her claws at it, but the latter formed a barrier in front of itself for protection. The woman pulled back after her hand came in contact with the barrier and then growled in frustration before swinging her claws against the air to fire energy blades.
The energy blades were useless against the barrier. After the blades were gone, the barrier shattered, and each of the pieces became projectiles that shot at them both. The woman closed her wings in front of herself for a successful protection. After projectiles stopped being fired at them, the woman opened her wings, and Seija reached out her hand at the orb to make it spin uncontrollably while moving up and down fast, hitting the ceiling and the floor nonstop.
"Right! Do what a ball is supposed to do!" Seija said to it.
The woman rushed at the ball and slammed her hand against it, sending it into the set of doors and pushing them open and into the room behind.
The woman and Seija came out of the room and tried to escape through the tunnel at the back, but then the yin-yang orb glowed with red light, much to their surprise. The orb changed form while it continued to glow and eventually took the form of a red-haired woman with four horns coming out of the sides of her head, two on each side.
"Ooh! That's what I call a neat magic trick!" commented Seija.
"You will not leave here!" said the woman. She dashed at the blonde woman to throw a punch at her. The latter caught her fist, and then they both traded punches with each other furiously, but neither of them actually succeeding in hitting each other.
Since it was dangerous to continue holding onto the woman's back, Seija got off from her and moved back a bit before lifting a finger in front of herself to make arrow-shaped projectiles appear behind Shingyoku. Flicking her finger, she made the arrows fly at the unsuspecting Shingyoku, hitting her in the back and disrupting her fighting. The woman was able to punch her across the face hard as a result.
Shingyoku recovered fast and then covered herself in blue light. This time, she transformed in a black-haired man dressed like a priest of Japan's olden days.
"From a yin-yang orb into a woman and then into a man? Now I've seen everything…" commented Seija.
With his hands glowing with blue light, Shingyoku thrust his palms at the two, releasing a large amount of magical energy that sent them flying back at a fast speed into the passage of blue light.
The woman came to a skidding stop and growled angrily while looking at Shingyoku, and then she heard sound coming from behind. The guards from the prison were heading over to the place.
Shingyoku floated into the passage and said, "This is as far as you go! You will go back to prison, where you rightfully belong!"
"I'm not going back in there again!" the blonde woman angrily shouted.
"An evildoer like you has no other place to go other than prison! It is the most fitting place for you!" Shingyoku told her as his hands glowed with blue light again.
The blonde woman took out a wand that had a star-shaped tip, which glowed with yellow light. Shingyoku thrust his palms at her to fire the blast of magic at the same time she used the wand to fire a large zigzag beam. The attacks clashed with each other, and their firers attempted to overcome each other with their respective attacks.
As they put more power into their attacks, the latter became larger and larger. Eventually, the projectiles reached a point where they could no longer hold up against each other, and an unexpected explosion occurred, propelling both sides in opposite directions.
The explosion struck the passage of blue light and caused a hole to appear on one side. Seeing that hole as a possible escape route, the blonde woman and Seija flew through it. Seeing that the two had escaped through the hole, Shingyoku attempted to go after them, but the hole automatically mended itself at a fast speed, so he couldn't follow them.
"No…" he nervously said.
A rip appeared in the sky above a forest, and out of it came the woman and Seija. Shortly after they emerged, the rip mended itself by closing up and then disappearing. Not a trace of it was left at all.
"Well, that was quite an unexpected turn of events," said Seija. "I was wondering if we made the right decision in slipping into that place. Looks like it was the right decision after all!"
The woman shielded her face from the sun before heading for the trees below. This action made Seija curious, so she followed her and found her hiding under the trees' shade. "Can't handle the sun?" Seija asked her. "If I have to make a guess, I'd say you're a sun-fearing being that thrives in the dark… A vampire!"
The woman looked at her for a few seconds and then said, "Yeah, I'm a vampire. Anyway, where are we?"
"Dunno… Doesn't look like any place in Gensokyo I know," said Seija while looking around the place with one hand over her eyes. "I've been almost all over Gensokyo while on the run from the law, but I can honestly say that this is someplace new… Eh, whatever… We'll find out soon enough. By the way, I haven't introduced myself yet. I'm Seija Kijin, an amanojaku known throughout Gensokyo as the greatest and most dangerous troublemaker that place has ever known!"
"Never heard of you," said the woman. "Guess I've been in that infernal place for a really long time that I have almost no idea how things are at Gensokyo."
"Well, now you know!" Seija said to her. "What did you do to get yourself locked up there for such a long time?"
"Being a threat in the Demon World is all you need to know," the woman told her.
"So you're from the Demon World? Never been there before… They say the creeps there can be so creepy that even the folks at Gensokyo won't believe it!" said the amanojaku.
"I wouldn't know. I've never actually been to Gensokyo," said the woman. "I did meet some people from that place when they came to the Demon World."
"You should go there some time," Seija told her. "They've got some pretty interesting folks over there! There's this particular shrine maiden that I enjoy messing with! It's soooooo fun looking at her get frustrated every time she hears about me causing trouble!"
Hearing what she said, the woman glared at her and asked, "Shrine maiden? Would her name happen to be Reimu Hakurei?"
Surprised, Seija pointed at her and said, "Bingo! You cannot be any more correct than saying the name 'Reimu Hakurei,' my favorite person in Gensokyo! You know her?"
"Yes, because we fought each other a long time ago," replied the woman in a voice filled with frustration and rage.
"I bet you have quite a story to tell me regarding that!" said Seija. "By the way, I didn't quite catch your name. I heard one of the guards there mentioning it, but I didn't hear it properly. It was Alice or something, right?"
"Elis," the woman replied. "Elis the Innocence Devil."
beside the time
(vocal remix of The Positive and the Negative, by Seventh Heaven MAXION)
A Game2002 Production
All characters are owned by Team Shanghai Alice/ZUN
All notable OCs will be mentioned
"How long has it been since I left the outside world for this place?"
That was the question that went through Sanae's head as she watched a television talking about the latest products of the outside world.
She couldn't remember how long she had been in Gensokyo, but she was sure that it had been quite a while. Despite thinking about this question, it wasn't like she missed living in the outside world. In fact, she found herself enjoying her stay in Gensokyo more than there.
She was never really the kind of person to get excited by the latest fads in products and fashions out there, and she wasn't the most social person either. This was due to her family being religious people who worked at a shrine, and most people out there had no interest in religions nowadays, so they would sometime see the Kochiya family as being weird people for being so attached to what they believed were nonexistent. That was also the reason the goddess of her shrine, Kanako, moved the entire building to Gensokyo, so that the sky goddess would be able to have followers.
"I'm getting left behind by these things from the outside world," she thought as she watched the television. "Even with the latest things we have in possession that somehow came to this place, I still feel like I'm missing out a lot of things… Would be nice if I can go out there again…"
The last time she went to the outside world was during the incident where several of the inhabitants of the place were forcefully taken to an alternate universe where superheroes existed. She was excited when she found that she was in the outside world, and one not of her own universe so that she could see new things that couldn't be found in her own world. Now she felt like going to the outside world of her own universe.
Just as she was thinking about this, she heard Kanako calling out to her. "Sanae! We have guests here! Come and serve them!"
"Yes, Mistress Kanako!" replied the wind priestess as she got up to turn off the TV and then headed out of the room to serve the guests.
No sooner afterwards, Kanako, Suwako, and Sanae were sitting in the same room in front of the table, and on the other side were Kotohime, Yukari, and Shingyoku in her female form.
"So you're saying that you wish Sanae would assist in Shingyoku in her quest to go to the outside world to help capture the escaped convicts?" asked Kanako after hearing the whole story from Kotohime.
"Exactly," replied Kotohime.
"But why would you want our Sanae to go along?" asked Kanako.
"They escaped into the outside world?!" asked Reimu in shock after hearing from Kotohime what happened.
"That's what experts said after carefully investigating the passage linking between Gensokyo and hell," Kotohime told her. "As you can see, hell exists within a barrier similar to that of the Great Hakurei Barrier so that outsiders won't end up in it by digging through the ground, and the only way to access that place is through the tunnel created by magic accessed from Gensokyo.
"When Elis and Shingyoku's magic clashed, they created a powerful explosion of magic that caused a tear in the passage, and somehow, it created a warp that led to the outside world."
"I helped investigate this, so trust me in this," said Yukari, who was sitting next to Kotohime.
"So let me guess: you want me to go to the outside world, find those two, and bring them back here before they cause any trouble, right?" asked Reimu.
"Those two are residents of Gensokyo, at least one of them is, so we do not wish that the problems of our land bring any trouble to the outside world," said Kotohime.
"I'm not sure if I'm the right person for this job…" said Reimu. "First, the only time I went to the outside world was when dealing with that outsider named Usami, and I didn't really go anywhere other than fighting her in the air of the general location I showed up in."
"I thought you've been to the outside world long enough when you went to alternate universes?" asked Kotohime.
"Those are not the same universes, so I don't think my experiences there apply here…" Reimu told her. "Also, you know my presence in Gensokyo is important for holding up the Great Hakurei Barrier, so I can't leave this place. Yes, I know the barrier can exist without me for at least a month, but I'd rather play it safe and not risk doing something that would affect it…"
"You do have a point," said Yukari. "If we want to send someone to the outside world, then it should be someone who has good knowledge of that place. I know I do, but… you know what they say about superiors working behind the scenes and sending out the people below them to do the job. Plus, I don't see this as something so serious that I need to do things myself."
"More like you're finding an excuse to not get yourself out of your bed…" grumbled Reimu. "And when did I start working for you?"
"Anyway, I think it is better to find someone who is well versed with the outside world to do this job," said Yukari, ignoring what Reimu said.
"Who do you have in mind?" Kotohime asked her.
"I'm sure I know the right candidate for this job," replied the demon of boundaries.
END OF FLASHBACK
"The tanuki from the Myouren Temple doesn't look like someone who is willing to help with this sort of thing, so we decided that the best candidate is Sanae," Yukari explained to the folks at the Moriya Shrine. "With her knowledge of the outside world and her sense of justice, I'm sure she'll be able to help Shingyoku capture those two convicts."
"But Sanae has been away from the outside world for a while now! Her knowledge of that place probably won't be able to help her due to how much things have changed out there!" claimed Kanako.
"I'll go!" said Sanae with sparkly eyes. "I am more than happy to work with Shingyouku in capturing those two captives!"
"Sanae?! Are you sure you want to go to the outside world?" It's dangerous!" Kanako told her.
"I helped resolved incidents in Gensokyo before, so this is just another incident for me to solve. It's nothing big!" said Sanae. In reality, she wanted to use this as an opportunity to go back to the outside world to have fun.
"Let her go, Kanako," Suwako told her. "She's all grown up. You can't hold her back like a child all the time. If she can go to the moon and come back unscratched, I'm sure she can go to the outside world and back unscratched as well."
"Pleae let me go, Mistress Kanako!" Sanae begged the sky goddess. "I will do everything I can to capture those two villains! The outside world is where I was born and grew up, and even if I don't live there anymore, I will not allow people to mess up the place of my birth! Please! I want to go."
"Please let her go," Kotohime told Kanako. "She looks determined, so I'm sure she will be of help."
"Well, if you really insist on going, fine…" said Kanako with a sigh. "You did go to the moon and back unscratched, and you've been to the outside world not very long ago too, albeit not our own. I'm sure you'll do fine out there."
"All right! Thank you, Mistress Kanako!" Sanae happily said to her, and then she turned to Yukari. "When do we go?"
"I've been keeping an eye on news of the outside world, and so far, there have been no reports of them causing trouble," said Yukari. "Since it doesn't look like we have to be in a rush just yet, we'll go tomorrow morning."
"All right! I can't wait!" said Sanae with enthusiasm.
That night, Shingyoku stayed at the Moriya Shrine. Rather than being inside the building itself, she was in front of it, in her female form.
Sanae looked at her from the front door for a few seconds and then approached her to ask, "Are you sure you don't want to come inside?"
"It's all right," she replied. "I am a gatekeeper, so I have to stay outside to keep watch of this building."
"You don't have to force yourself to do this all the time," Sanae told her. "It's not like you're guarding an incredibly important place. Well, Mistress Kanako sees it as being important, since it is her shrine after all… What I mean is… since you're not guarding your usual place, you do not have to burden yourself in doing what you always do. Now that you're somewhere else, you should take your time to relax and have fun!"
"I appreciate your concern, but I am more used to doing my job all the time. For as long as I can remember, this has been the only thing I have been doing," Shingyoku told her.
"Have you ever been anywhere else other than keeping watch of the entrance to the Demon World and Hell?" Sanae asked her.
"Never," replied the gatekeeper.
"Wow… Then you must have never seen anything out there and know very little…" Sanae told her.
"Information wind up at where I am every once in a while to keep me notified of what is happening out there," Shingyoku told her. "It is true, however, that I have never experienced any of the things I've read and seen myself."
"Oh, okay…" said Sanae while wondering what she meant when information somehow ended up at where she was. "Well, I look forward to working with you tomorrow. I'm sure we'll get along with each other!"
"I gladly accept your request in aiding me in this mission," Shingyoku told her. "I allowed the convicts to escape, so I feel that is my responsibility to make up for it by capturing them myself."
"Don't burden yourself too much," Sanae told her. "People have limits to what they can do, so you shouldn't feel too bad and blame yourself for your failure. Anyway, we'll see each other tomorrow! Good night!"
"Sleep well, Miss Sanae," Shinyoku told her.
"Who can it be during this time of the day at a place like this?" a middle-aged woman said as she went over to open the door after hearing a knocking on it. She opened the door and found Elis standing out there, looking frail and on the verge of tears. "Yes? How may I help you?"
"I'm a traveler, and I can't find a place to lodge for the night," said the vampire in a voice that made people want to take pity on her. "I lost my supplies to bandits… Is it all right if you… let me stay here for the night?"
Because of her sad look, the woman felt pity for her. "You look like you really do need shelter. All right; come on in! Please make yourself feel at home!"
"Thank you very much!" said Elis cheerfully. After going inside, Elis looked around the place while asking, "Does anyone else live here with you?"
"No, I live by myself," the woman told her while closing and locking the door.
"Won't you get bored or feel unsafe living all by yourself out in the countryside?" Elis asked her.
"I have neighbors who keep me company, and nothing bad has happened around here for a long time, so there's really nothing to be afraid of," said the woman as she turned around, and she noticed Elis's wings, which were folded together in a way that it couldn't be seen from the front. "That's quite a costume you've got there!"
"Oh, you're referring to my wings?" asked Elis as she turned around. "Looks cool, don't they? Would you believe it if I tell you that they are real and I am a vampire?"
The woman laughed and then said, "Haha! You're a funny one!"
Elis also laughed and then said, "Yeah, I can be a funny person at times! But seriously, though…" Without a warning, the vampire moved towards the woman at a fast speed and caught her by the neck before she could react. "I am a genuine vampire, and I will prove it to you!" Then she bit the woman in the neck and drained her blood, while the latter screamed in pain and terror.
After her prey had shriveled up, Elis dropped the dead woman onto the floor and dusted her hands before heading over to the door to open it, and Seija was standing out there. "Innocence Devil… You really are a pro at making yourself look sweet and innocent!" said the amanojaku as she came into the house.
"Thanks for the compliment!" Elis said while striking a "cute" pose of closing one eye and placing a sideways victory sign over the open eye.
Seija looked at the woman's corpse and kicked it. "So… whatcha gonna do with this? I'm sure it'll smell if you leave it around here."
"Just throw it somewhere where people won't find it so easily," said Elis.
"I'll leave that to you, then," said Seija as she walked past her with her hands at the back of her head. "I'm going to go and make the both of us comfortable around here until we've decided on what to do and where to go next."
"Do you have any ideas?" Elis asked her as she lifted the dead woman over her body. "I'm sure you know about the outside world more than me."
"Not much, actually," said Seija. "I do know how things work out here to some extent, though. I'm sure I'll figure out something. I'm more accustomed to causing trouble in a place I'm familiar with, but now that I'm in the outside world, I might as well make the best of it and show the folks out here something they may have never witnessed before!''
"And what might that be?" asked Elis.
Seija grinned and replied, "Let's just say I'm going to turn their world upside-down. Heeheehee!"
The next morning, Kanako, Suwako, Shingyoku, Kotohime, and Yukari were outside the Moriya Shrine. "Are you done yet, Sanae?" Kanako called out into the building. "We're all waiting for you!"
"Coming!" replied Sanae's voice from inside. A few seconds later, the wind priestess came out, wearing a casual-looking dress and carrying a green backpack on her back.
"What's with that getup…?" asked Suwako.
"We're going to the outside world, so I have to get dressed up in a way that makes me blend in! Shrine maidens are uncommon out there nowadays, so I have to wear something that won't make people stare at me."
"She has a point," said Yukari, and then she looked at Shingyoku. "You'll have to not only change your outfit, but also do something about your horns."
"The only way I can make my horns disappear is by changing into my male form," said Shingyoku. "If I must, I will stay in that form as long as I am out there."
"That's a solution. As for a different outfit…" said Yukari while placing her fingers underneath her chin. "I think I know a good place to get you something to wear."
Rinnosuke was seated behind his counter, reading a newspaper from the outside world he somehow managed to get his hand on. When he heard footsteps, he lowered the newspaper and looked at the entrance to see Yukari and her group coming in. "Welcome, Yukari!"
"How's business?" Yukari asked him.
"Can't say I'm making any profit…" replied Rinnosuke. "I'm sure you should know that by now."
"Well, if you are more willing to actually sell your products, perhaps you'll make more money," Yukari told him. "Moving your shop to a more populated place is also an idea."
"Are those the only solutions you can come up with?" Rinnosuke asked her. "I have my ways of doing things, and I don't really intend to change them."
"That mindset of yours will never make you earn big bucks," Yukari told him. "Anyway, I'm not here to talk to you about that. You should be glad that I'm here to buy something, assuming that you are willing to sell them."
"Look around, then," said Rinnosuke while pointing his hand around the place. "Not sure if there is anything here that interests you. Seeing how you've brought other people along, I assume that you're actually here to get them something, right?"
"Indeed," said Yukari. "I'm here to look for some men's clothing."
"Men's clothing? That's not something I hear coming from you every day," said Rinnosuke, and then he looked at Shingyoku. "It's for him, right? Who is he?"
"I am Shingyoku, guardian of the gate to the Demon World and hell," replied the gatekeeper. "I have failed my duty by allowing two dangerous convicts to escape into the outside world. Therefore, it is my responsibility to find them and bring them back here."
"The gatekeeper of those two places? I've heard about you," said Rinnosuke. "I've heard rumors of you capable of altering your appearance to suit your liking or something like that, is that right?"
"Yes, I am capable of changing between three different forms at will," replied Shingyoku. "Each form has its own strong points that suit different situations."
"If that really is true, then I would like to see for myself what you are capable of!" said Rinnosuke with interest while rubbing his chin.
"I would appreciate it if we don't waste time and get down to business…" Yukari told him with a hint of impatience in her tone.
"If it will satisfy you and make you cooperate with us, then I am willing," said Shingyoku before covering himself in light and then transforming into his female form.
"Oh, I see!" said Rinnosuke.
Shingyoku then changed into her yin-yang orb form before changing back into her male form. "I am capable of changing between three different forms. My male form is skilled in the usage of magical and spiritual powers, my female form is suitable for close-range combats, and my yin-yang form specializes in creating barriers."
"Each form with its own capability! Interesting! All right; you have satisfied me!" said Rinnosuke. "You need clothing in order to blend into the outside world, right? It's definitely true that you need a change of clothing, because from what I've seen on printed medias of that place, your attire will make you stand out too much and attract unnecessary attention. I'll see what I can provide you with, so if you would please follow me!"
Rinnosuke told Shingyoku to follow him to another part of the building, while the girls waited for them to return.
They girls waited for several minutes, to the point where they became impatient. "What's taking him so long…?" asked Kotohime.
"Sorry to keep you waiting!" said the voice of Rinnosuke from the other room. He came back out with Shingyoku behind him, and the latter was wearing a gray suit and a pair of matching color trousers. "What do you think?"
"Formal dressing, eh? He looks like he'll make a fine businessman in that getup!" said Yukari, looking pleased with what she saw. "What do you think, Shingyoku?"
The gatekeeper said, "I am unfamiliar with the clothing of the outside world. If this is the kind of clothing they wear and will help me blend in, then it is all right with me."
"I think he looks neat!" commented Kanako. "That suit sure suits him nicely!"
"Perhaps more casual clothing will do better?" asked Sanae.
"I did try it on him, but I don't really find it suitable on him," Rinnosuke told her. "I finally settled for one that is formal-looking, and I think he looks great!"
"Well, if you say so…" said Sanae. "By the way, do you think we should get him women's clothing as well? You'll never know when he needs it."
"Will that really be necessary?" Kotohime asked her. "I thought he was going to be in his male form most of the time."
"It wouldn't hurt to be prepared! You have women's clothes, do you?" Sanae asked Rinnosuke.
"Yeah, I do have some," replied the shopkeeper. "They're in the same room."
"Then I'll pick one for him!" said Sanae as she went over to Shingyoku to drag him back into the other room.
"We don't have time to waste…" Yukari told the wind priestess, but the latter didn't listen to her and started looking for women's clothing to give to Shingyoku.
"This one looks good! Nah, let's try this one instead. This looks great!" said Sanae while looking through Rinnosuke's catalogue of women's clothing.
After several minutes, Sanae came back out of the room with Shingyoku in her female form, wearing a pink dress similar to Yukari's purple dress. "Look! This is the one I picked for her! I think she looks great in it!" Sanae told the others.
"If you ask me, I think it would be better if she wear the female counterpart of her male form's attire," suggested Rinnosuke.
"Do you guys want to go to the outside world or not?!" asked Kotohime in frustration. "While you people are busy picking clothes, those two are probably committing crime all over the place already!"
Because of Kotohime's rage and the realization that they really shouldn't be wasting their time doing this, Sanae and Kotohime decided that they really should be going. The latter changed into her male form, which had the suit on.
"Thanks for the help!" Yukari said to Rinnosuke while paying for the clothes. "Keep the change."
"Glad to be of help!" said the shopkeeper as he gladly accepted the cash. "Oh, by the way, you should look at the newspaper. Something tells me it will help you in some way." He handed over the newspaper he was reading to them and showed them the article he wanted to talk about. "See this? I'm sure this is something that doesn't usually happen in the outside world."
The girls read through the article, which talked about the dead body of a woman that was shriveled up and found hidden in a field of tall grass. This baffled people as to what could have caused this.
"This is definitely the work of Elis," said Yukari. "She's a vampire, so unless there's another vampire out there, it's definitely her who did this."
"Then we must hurry before they cause more harm to innocent people," suggested Shingyoku.
"Right, we should," agreed Yukari.
After thanking Rinnosuke for the clothes, the group went outside the building. "How are we going to get in contact with you when we're outside?" asked Sanae.
"Actually… I have no idea on how you should contact me to bring you back here as well…" said Yukari. "Let's just say I'll keep an eye on things and show up when I think I'm needed."
"You didn't actually plan this out, did you…?" Kanako asked her.
"To be fair, something like this has never happened before," said Kotohime, "so we don't exactly know how to deal with this…"
"Anyway, just look around for possible places where they could have gone to," Yukari told Sanae and Shingyoku. "They're likely to make headlines, so pay attention to the news to find out where they might be. Also, try to avoid causing too much attention with your abilities. As you know, most people out there are unaware of the existence of supernatural and magical things, so if they see what you're capable of, it's sure to cause a ruckus."
"Don't worry; I won't cause a ruckus!" said Sanae.
"You have my word in this matter," said Shingyoku. "I will refrain myself from taking unnecessary actions."
"Then we'll head over to where the dead body is found and see if we can find out anything," said Yukari. "I'll accompany you for a bit before leaving things to you." After saying that, the demon opened up a gap next to herself, and Sanae said good-bye to Kanako before entering it with the demon of boundaries and Shingyoku.
"Take care! Don't get yourself into serious trouble!" Kanako told her. After the gap closed, the goddess said, "I still can't keep myself from worrying that something bad might happen to Sanae…"
"You're worrying too much," Kotohime told her. "She helped resolved incidents here before and made it back in one piece. She should be able to deal with this just the same."
"I still get worried about her when she went around solving incidents here," Kanako told her. "But I guess you're right; I am worrying too much. Sanae's all grown up now, so I'm sure she can handle things herself!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Here's the next installment in my Touhou series, the previous one being White World! As you can see, I'm doing something that nobody else seem to have done before by making a story that stars the obscure and almost forgotten Shingyoku, the first boss of the Touhou series.
Because there's really no information on Shingyoku other than him/her being the gatekeeper of the paths to the Demon World and hell, I had to come up with things for her. Here, I am portraying him/her as a serious and obedient person, but who knows? Perhaps his/her personality will undergo character development and change.
Elis is another character who has pretty much no information on, so I had to come up with things for her as well. Since she is officially known the Innocence Devil, I thought making her an expert in looking innocent is a fitting portrayal for her.
Demon World is what I'm going to call Makai from now on in the series, even though I used the latter in my previous stories. It's just a name change for a location that won't be visited or mentioned often, so it's not like I made a major retcon. The reason for this change is due to "Demon World" being the term that most localizations use for "Makai," such as in Disgaea. I never really found Japanese terms that can't be found in English dictionaries to "blend" well with English terms, so I try to use English translations and equivalents as much as possible.
Let's hope I didn't miss out anything else I want to say, such as mentioning that I also own those yukkuri abuser celebrity OCs in my previous story Strive for Easiness: An Easy Epilogue and the fact that some of those abuse scenes are inspired by pictures I saw on the Internet... That story has been updated with those notes in case you didn't see my Twitter.