The Shrine of Gensokyo
Original Work By Shanghai Alice
Presented by: wrathie
Chapter 1: Life in the Shrine
[Are you sure you want to drink this, Reimu?]
[Yes… After all, I am sick of this life…]
[Don't say that, Reimu… we, all of us will miss you…]
[… Thank you… Yukari…]
Smiling as I took the small bottle from Yukari, I closed my eyes and drank it whole even as Eirin's voice shouted it's warning to me.
[Reimu, if you drink this… it can't be reversed, no matter how much you wish it to be, it will never happen. It is like the Hourai Elixer, Reimu!]
I have made my decision, Eirin, everyone…
[Miss Shrine Maiden!!]
Hearing a voice call me from the front of the shrine, I hurried over to greet the worshipper, a little girl that I was familiar with and I smiled and waved warmly as I slipped on my slippers.
She is a regular visitor to the shrine and I quickly offered to do a Omikuji for her. I smiled as she excitedly took the slip of paper from the box I offered and as she has always done so, offered a small prayer to the spirits before she opened it up.
[Near-blessing, Miss Shrine Maiden…]
Seeing that she is disappointed, I placed a hand on her head before passing her a small sweet to cheer her up.
[Come now, the spirits won't be happy if you are so sad now, would they?]
[No, I guess not…]
Mumbling as she took the sweet from my hand, the little girl suddenly hugged me and whispered softly to me so only I could hear her.
The tiny frame that clutched me so tightly made me sigh as I patted her head again. I was used to little kids running here to confide things in me.
In their eyes, I was the Guardian Angel or Spirit that is living a few blocks away from their homes and it was my job to comfort them and to lead them towards the right path in life and to share their new experiences with.
I must say, although the number of believers in spirits has decreased, worshippers still come over to visit once in a while and I have my hands full dealing with small children who mob the shrine.
I do like their company too as a thirty year-old shrine maiden has really nothing to do in her free time.
The donations do keep me out of the red every month but as I receive government compensation every month, that is not much of an issue.
Oh, that's right. I have not introduced myself right…
My name is…
[Miss Shrine Maiden!!]
[Yes, yes Yuka… I am listening… so do you want me to keep the cat in the shrine for you?]
[Yes, please!! I promise I will come and visit her every day! I will bring her food to eat and play with her. If she is sick I will take her to the doctor!]
Begging me by burrowing her face into my chest, I giggled and pinched her little cheeks to gently ease her away from me.
As I said so, her little face lit up and I laughed again as I finished my sentence, which I was sure would render her speechless.
[can you bring her to me, Yuka?]
[Of- Of course!!]
Smiling as she ran down the steps that led to the Shrine, I waved goodbye to her before I looked up to the sky and patiently waited.
At such a carefree and peaceful Wednesday, I would prefer not to break the news. But an illusion is an illusion after all and it must end at a particular time…
Narrowing my eyes as the little girl ran up to me, I placed a hand on her head and whispered a small prayer to any passing spirits before she said anything.
[You found out, didn't you, Yuka?]
[… Miss… Miss Shrine Maiden…]
Clutching my top, I smiled bitterly as I bent down to embrace her in my arms. She was very light, too light to be natural and as I ran my fingers through her hair, I saw many small sparkling stuff appearing around her.
[Do not be afraid… look below you…]
Closing my eyes, I patted her back comfortingly as I recited the familiar prayer the previous Shrine Maiden had passed on to me.
[May the spirits bless this tiny spirit, from harm and from anything that tempt her innocent soul. Innocence like this should not be tainted… I beg of you… while the blood of the Hakurei Maiden still flows in me…]
As I chanted softly, her grip on me slowly felt weaker and weaker and I knew it was not due to her not clutching on me.
I could feel and see that she was afraid as her body was shivering very badly and tears were dropping from her eyes as she shook her head sadly from side to side.
[Look below you… alright…]
Finally, little Yuka grabbed enough courage and a sizeable chunk of my top to look down to her feet.
[All the spirits are welcoming and heralding your way…]
[But Miss Shrine Maiden…]
[Don't worry… everyone will be there… everyone will be with you… it is just a matter of time…]
Trying to stop the tears from flowing down my face as well, I slowly released her but it was the same as not releasing as I was clutching nothing but air in the first place.
My arms, which was supposed to be holding a little girl in place, was suddenly holding nothing after a bright flash of light illuminated my surroundings.
[… She's gone…]
Little Yuka has passed away after saving a small Kitten from certain death but she herself has apparently not know that had happened and she ran over to the Hakurei Shrine to tell me about her adventures.
The moment I touched her, my spiritual part of me told me that she was not alive and it was heartbreaking for me to send her away.
It was not the first time that I had done something like this as random spirits do travel to the shrine often.
It was a gift and a curse at the same time for me to be able to see the spirits.
Being a shrine maiden since the age of 16 and perhaps beyond, I was a talented Shrine Maiden as I was able to give fortunes that were remarkably accurate and I do like being a shrine maiden.
At certain times in my life, I was tempted to stop being a shrine maiden and to settle down to have a family like many girls my age, which is a full thirty in a few days, I always find a reason to continue to be one in the Hakurei Shrine.
My name is Hakurei Reimu and I have been serving in the Hakurei shrine ever since I was 16.
Any remnants of my life before that is lost due to amnesia, as I was told, I was found unconscious by my the Shrine Maidens in the shrine one day and gave me my name, Hakurei Reimu.
Hakurei after the Shrine and Reimu for Revelation.
Ever since that day, I have been dutifully serving the Hakurei shrine, cleaning up the surroundings, patching up the many leaks in the old shrine and taking over as head Maiden after the last of the Shrine Maidens left the shrine.
TO date, I am the 30th and final Hakurei Maiden if a new successor is not found. However, I am optimistic that a new successor will be found if I just wait long enough.
As I mentioned earlier, I am blessed with the ability to view spirits. At first I found it disturbing but I generally accepted it as a sign that the Hakurei shrine as passed on it's powers to me, giving me the abilities to see Spirits in the world around me.
There are fireflies spirit, flower spirits and even Nekomata that pop by from time to time.
I dare not say that I am familiar with those spirits, but I am certain that they exists and I could see them.
It is my job to guide the followers to pay respect to their loved ones after they have died and at times they return to visit them in the form of spirits. Although it is very rare, I at times have seen that happen and the family would thank me for my kind words.
The older, more skeptical generation would simply refuse to believe me while the younger ones will lap up everything.
It pains me to see that the spiritual belief is so lacking in current generations…
Training myself in the arts of building my spiritual powers is part of my daily rituals as well and I spent an average of an hour meditating and trying to strengthen my spiritual powers.
By being more with the world, coexisting with it, I was certain that I will reach a new height of strength inside of me as well.
It was an untested method, but I found that I could see spirits more easily then before and thus I am convinced that I was doing at least something right.
Balancing the account books is something that I must do on a regular basis as even a Shrine Maiden must eat to survive.
I am not very materialistic and even thou rice and miso makes up the bulk of the diet, tea is required to serve worshippers who come over to chat.
As the natsu-matsuri is approaching, that becomes more of a necessity as it is customary to hold a Festival at the foot of the Hakurei Shrine.
The people will chat and confide things with me, something that I am proud to say as it proves the people have faith and trust in a Shrine Maiden being locked up in the middle of nowhere.
True, the Hakurei Shrine is located at the top of a small hill and it is a tough climb up.
Still, the more faith the worshipper has, the lesser the burden one feels when one embarks on the trip up the shrine.
I myself do the trek once a week with no complains at all and yet, those younger generations whine about it every time they visit. It is such a disgrace…
Being nearly 30, I am sad to say that I do not yet have an engagement yet but that does not faze me at all. Being a shrine maiden takes the majority of my time here, leaving me with not time nor no energy to deal with other, more disturbing and distracting behavior.
Honestly, the teens and man these day are truly so crude and direct in their wants and needs.
Sighing as I watched as yet another group of teenage boys and girls appeared over the gates of the shrine, I grabbed my broom and started walk towards them, a smile still on my face that only barely twitched when one of them call out to me.
[Miss Reimu, what time do you knock off today~ We got beer!]
[… Dear Sir, A Shrine Maiden does not 'knock off' as you crudely put it.]
Hiding the menace in my voice, my eyes dangerously twinkled but the dense boy would not get it and probed further.
[Aww c'mon~ Even though you're quite older than our age, I am sure you would like to han-]
[May the spirits bless you, young lad.]
Still smiling, I slammed my foot on his sneakers and twisted it a few times for good measure, ignoring the twisted look of pain on his face.
[Now, I shall clean the yard of all the rubbish.]
Brandishing my broom, I chased the lot of hoodlums out of my yard before slamming the big metal door shut and hanging the sign that read: 'away, be right back'.
That is an ordeal I have to go through every single day and it breaks my heart very much so to see those energetic youth, corrupted by alcohol...
The many casual days that I spent alone in the Hakurei Shrine are all but plenty. The worshippers come in trickles and almost all in groups thus far and I would tend to them for at most a few minutes at a time.
It is not tiring but a boring job that I find myself doing for so many years. It is a wonder how did I even manage to hold this job up till now.
My parents were unknown to me and I was labeled an orphan the moment the Hakurei Shrine Maidens took me in. Over the years I had not made any effort to find my family as for all that I was concerned, I do not need them. Due to my status as an orphan, I was allowed to live my life in the Shrine, provided I do not run away with the donations and I do not get married, something I am very happy to abide with.
The same old routine of waking up, getting breakfast, sweeping the leaves, checking for leaks in the shrine, tidying up the courtyard and so forth was embedded into me.
If I did not follow the strict schedule, I would find myself uncomfortable to say the least. Neither do I admit I did not enjoy doing them nor do I not enjoy doing them.
It is a matter of habit; habit is a dangerous thing after all.
Sitting in the shrine's interior and in my private quarters, I clapped my hands together as I acknowledged the spirits around me before tucking into dinner, a simple fair consisting of steamed rice and miso soup, with some vegetables as a side dish.
Chewing slowly, I looked out at the night sky to see some small spirits drifting happily by and I resisted the urge to wave to them. They looked like little fairies, complete with wings and little wands on their hands but I know all too well that some of them are mean and nasty.
Once, I was bitten by one of them when I tried to pat it's head and I was warded into hospital for a bad fever that lasted the better part of two weeks. It was a horrible incident that I do not want to happen ever again.
There is the saying that the Hakurei Shrine is connected to another world, a world that I could only dream about and that that world's borders is guarded by the Hakurei Shrine Maiden.
Till now, I have not found any trace of that world that I was supposed to protect and I had all but forgotten about it, if not for the spirits that drift in and out of the Shrine.
The Hakurei shrine is the only place that I can sense spiritual power oozing out very easily and in large quantities. The worshippers here still believe in spirits, most probably thanks to me and I am very happy in doing my part.
Spirits are real and they do exist, it is a part of my life now.
[Miss Shrine Maiden!!]
Hearing a voice call for me, I hurriedly got up from my seat and pulled open the sliding doors to welcome yet another guest to the Shrine.
[Welcome to the Hakurei Shrine, I am Hakurei Reimu, the Shrine Maiden of the Shrine, how may I help you tonight?]
Smiling as I bowed to the new visitors, a young couple who was holding hands together.
[Miss Reimu, we would like to pray to the spirits for the well-being of our unborn baby… and so…]
[We know that it is late, but we were in town and hoped to do that before we leave…]
Looking at the young lady standing in front of me, I seemed to remember a friend that looked just like her.
Her face showing her disappointment, I hurriedly shook my head before inviting them in.
[J-Just out of curiosity… are you named Komachi… by any chance?]
Her red hair and the way her hair was tied, in two short ponytails at either side of her head reminded me of someone. The memory was hazy and I was certain it came from the time before I came to the shrine. The name did come quite easily to me but that was all.
The nagging feeling that I was forgetting something more important came to haunt me again.
[No, I am Mako…]
[well then, Miss Mako, I must be mistaken, come let us pray together…]
Guiding them to the spring near the shrine, I urged them to wash their hands before following me over to pray.
[When we are done, perhaps we could name the unborn child as well?]
[Y-Yes! That would be a good idea!]
Another day, another day of tidying up the shrine but today was special. It was the day where I make my rounds down to the small town at the foot of the mountain.
Slipping on my slippers and adjusting my hakama pants, I said a small prayer to the spirits and to the greater spirit of the Hakurei shrine before going on my way.
The great iron doors that I had used to lock out the few offenders the day before came in handy once more as I securely slammed the door shut.
Despite my small frame, I was quite strong as from young I had carried heavy loads up the steps and after so many years, it seemed natural for my body to be stronger than the average shrine maiden.
I could literally fly up the steps now while carrying a few bags of rice in my arms.
[… It is a wonderful day…]
Deciding to take my time, I enjoyed the chirping of the birds and the smell of nature all around me as the town slowly came into view. Up from the steps, I could see the people stirring and getting about their business and that always made me feel just a tad lonely.
I am always alone and I had few, if any friends at all. That is perhaps expected of a Shrine Maiden, a test of one's perseverance and I passed admirably. Once, I had raised a small puppy at the shrine but it had run away after meeting a spirit that severely wounded it.
It seems that the Hakurei Shrine is only for the Hakurei Maiden after all.
A sudden gust of wind struck me and temporarily blinded me as a shower of cherry blossoms whirled around me. As if by magic, the flower storm whirled around me for a moment before being blown away again.
[… that seems familiar…]
The feeling of nostalgia struck me again for the second time in two days as I absentmindedly brushed away the blossoms that were left in the stray ends of my hair.
Previously, I had allowed my hair to grow almost to my knee in length but I decided suddenly and abruptly that having hair so long would only get in my way and I shortened it to just around my shoulders. I have beautiful hair, even if I am not fond of praising myself.
The only redeeming value in my looks would probably be my black and silky hair. In the past, where I was still young, I had a big ribbon tied on the back of my hair in a ponytail. I still do that now, but the ribbon is much smaller in size and while the removable sleeves, which I once wore for convenience is no longer in existence.
Having out-grown them, I changed to the recognized Miko outfit but with a small apron over it. Gone was the frills that came with my past and in with the more mature look.
Though at times I do agree that it did make me look like a stay-at-home wife…
[Hello, how are you this week?]
Beginning my rounds at the first house of the block, the new family in the block, a family named Spencer that spoke only English.
It was difficult for me as it was a foreign language that I rarely use in the shrine but it did come in handy as I was the few that could comprehend their words through their strong accent.
[We are fine, thank you for asking, Sister of the Shrine.]
[Erm. I am not a Sister, Mr Spencer, I am a Shrine Maiden…]
[Yes, yes I am so sorry… a Shrine maiden was it… I still am not certain about the customs of the Japanese people, Sister…]
[I-I said I am not a sister… I believe your wife is Japanese, she could fill you in…]
Inching slowly away from the door, my mood changed suddenly when his child, a little boy named Steven ran over and surprisingly spoke to me in perfect Japanese.
[… Ohayo, Steven-san. O-genki desu ka?]
[Hai, Genki desu, Miko-san wa?]
[Hai~ Geki desu. Asa-gohan tabe masuka?]
[Hai, tabemasu. Etou, Miko-san…]
The conversation dragged long and complicated till finally his mother, the only true Japanese hurried over and said that Steven and his father would like to visit the shrine one day and that she is very thankful for the Hakurei Shrine to make the family fit in with the community.
The rest of the families were well and thanked me for visiting them and asking about their health. I learnt that the weather has not been good lately and they were thinking of going up the shrine to hold a small praying session together.
I gladly say that I would help them with it but also recommended them to hang up some teru-bozu just to keep the bad weather at bay too before giving them a small charm to ward off bad-spirits and bad luck.
It was very well received in the town and before I was down with the rounds, I had to visit a small local bookstore to purchase some ink so I could write the charm myself in their homes.
Finishing yet another charm, I took a breather and a sip of green tea in the small tea-shop in the small town. The owner of the shop was a regular worshipper in the shrine and he had literally dragged me in to treat me to a new flavor of takoyaki that he had just rolled out.
Thanking him, I took a small taste before saying that it was good and the smile that he gave me made me a little embarrassed. The energy that he possesses really took me by surprise and before I knew it, I was tasting yet another of his new creations, a cream-filled bun.
By the third course, I had caught on to his actions and I quickly rejected him, saying that my duties at the shrine were more important. Although he seemed disappointed, he did not persist and only asked me to stay for a small drink of tea which I gladly accepted.
[Thank you for your tea, Mr Hiroshi.]
[Not at all, Miss Miko… I am glad that you graced me with your presence.]
[You are flattering me, Mr Hiroshi…]
Beating a hasty retreat, I hurriedly finished my rounds and hurried back up the shrine, running up the three hundred or so steps within five minutes.
I was panting by the time I was back at the shrine and when I pulled the doors open, the wonderful feeling of being back at home never felt better.
Sitting at my usual spot in front of the porch, I meditated as I tried to reach towards the spiritual side of me that was located in the perfect circle within my own turmoil and confusion.
It was so hard to reach but when I do, the feeling of peace that I obtained could tide me through many days of frustration and could even overcome hunger, even if it is not healthy.
Being a shrine maiden, one's strong character counts and I am sure I am of Strong character as my spiritual prowess cannot be underestimated. Few would be inclined to say that they could truly see spirits but I could.
Whether that is something to boast about is not yet known but I am proud of my ability. It makes me believe that I am a true heir to the Hakurei Line, which I am not…
Still, it is something that I treasure very much and something that I would not give up.
Creations of Amulets and ofudas and charms are part and parcel of my job. Amulets and Ofudas are used mainly against spirits, to protect against them, to attack them, to banish them and to create seals and borders.
It can only be used spiritually if one's spirit is willing to believe in it. I for one, am sure that my Amulets do ward off spirits and has the ability to create seals and borders on spiritual objects.
Charms are small objects that are blessed either with a spirit's borrowed power, which is channeled through me, the Shrine Maiden or from another Holy object. Charms can bring good luck, ward off the bad luck and many other mundane blessings that people like to wish for.
[I should do some more Charms…]
Promising myself to start work tomorrow, I opened my eyes and stretched to prepare myself for another part of my Shrine Maiden training, the physical part of it.
As they all say, one must strengthen the body as well as the mind and I practice tai-ji chuan, a form of martial arts that uses one's movements to render the opponent's attacks useless to oneself.
The saying goes: 'To counter the strong with the weak' and that is very true with Tai-ji chuan, which uses one's gentle strokes to protect one's weak points while using the opponent's best effort against them.
The gentle strikes and blocks that renders the other party unable to maneuver is a favorite for me as I do not like violence unless it is regarding my duty as a Shrine Maiden.
I first picked it up when I learnt of the term: Tai-chi from my senior in the shrine, she described it with so much detail and eagerness that I found myself wanting to learn as well.
I seem to remember someone who showed me Tai-chi before but the name and the face escaped me…
The graceful strikes that did not seem to hold much power but when one experiences the other end of the strike, you will come to understand the term: Beautiful but deadly.
Tai-chi can be christened to be the same as dancing as well as both practitioners have the same at ease look about them when they practice their art-form.
At times of the festivals that take place in the shrine, I lead the older generation in their tai-chi exercise whenever I could and has even been taught a few moves by those veterans.
With age come experience and I am confident that any one who dares rob the Hakurei shrine shall be severely punished by me.
Other training such as archery and festival dancing are part of my daily routine as well but only on specific days of the week. I have yet to achieve a hundred percent accuracy rate with moving objects but I can hit a target 5 yards from me even if it is moving.
Such traditional skills are being lost down the ages and I teach the children of the town archery to while away my time. It brings me closer to the towns people as well and I am very pleased to note that every one of them are growing up to be fine, young girls and boys…
I hope you do not mind the OOC-ness of Reimu here, it is a shocker but it alls come to light later.
This story is complete and it'll very much depend on how willing I am to update this in , which is very lacking =D
R&R is always appreciated