Chapter 5: Of The Gate Guard

As I watched Cirno sleeping off the shock of the water, I took the opportunity to think about what would have happened if I had lost to the little fairy in front of me.

She was egoistic, very confident and very arrogant. Calling herself the strongest tend to do things to people but what about me?

I call myself the Hakurei Shrine Maiden if not out of pride but of what?

A shrine maiden should never be proud and always should be humble.

I should be confident of my abilities and not be PROUD of my abilities as a Shrine Maiden.

I recalled the instant I was flying, the jubilant feeling of being free and riding the air like it was nothing. The first experience is always the best experience of all… if I could keep that feeling everything I fly, it would be terrific.



But that's not to be… the next time I fly I would probably be excited at most and eventually… I would be accustomed to it.

That is like my character, the first experience of being a Shrine Maiden will definitely be ecstatically great and I would be proud of myself.

For how long could I keep the enthusiasm up as the Shrine Maiden?

I wouldn't know for sure…



But as I look at Cirno, the Ice-fairy, I remembered the countless times she fired Icicle Fall at me, the same pattern and the same intensity.

She never gets sick of the move and she is very confident in the move all the time, even knowing how many times I had broken the pattern, she still uses it.

Perhaps I had made the wrong call in calling her arrogant.

Her innocence is something that I wouldn't have in a million years.



She's not proud or anything.

Well, she's definitely not the strongest of Gensokyo, yet anyway.

She's Cirno, the Ice-Fairy of the Lake and an adorable youkai Fairy that I know.

The world might not end without this little fairy, but at least there will be more color in it with her.

If I lost it will be up to this little fairy to save the world then…




[Are you awake?]


Looking up, I touched myself to see that I wasn't dead yet.


Looking at her, I hurriedly got up only to find that her hand was resting on my head and I pushed her hand away roughly.

[Cirno doesn't need your help!]

[You're energetic… I'm glad.]

That damn red-white, she will pay!!

Raising my hand, I stopped when I saw that she was not wearing much of her clothes and her clothes were hanging by a stick at the side.

[… Red-white is wet… and Cirno is…]

Touching myself, I found that much of my clothes were taken off too.


[… I'm sorry, they just looked wet so I dried them for you.]

Smiling, the red-white threw my clothes back to me and I put them on in a hurry.




Fluttering my wings, I circled around red-white to listen to her.

I had remembered that she had appeared before me in a split second and after that I had fallen down to the lake.

I could swim, but my body felt weak… too weak to swim.

[… because it would be wrong not to…]

[… Cirno won't die, Cirno is youkai!]

[What if you did…]

That stopped me as I watched the red-white leak in front of me.


[I'm sorry Cirno, I didn't mean to really hurt you… it just… it just happened.]

[… Cirno is not hurt, Cirno is the strongest!!]

[When you wanted to play with me, I did my best… so… so…]

[… Cirno ask Red-white again, why did Red-white save Cirno?]

[… I didn't want you to die, Cirno.]

[Cirno told Red-white, Cirno can't die!]

[… I don't want to take the risk…]

[… Red-white is the idiot!]

Laughing as I flew all around the red-white, I paused for a moment as the Red-white just shook her head and shouted at me.

[Cirno, you really are an idiot… wasting all my effort for you…]

As I looked at red-white, I had to turn away as it felt very uncomfortable as I looked at her. She was leaking and her face was red, something that I would never do.

[Stupid, Red-white! Cirno is the strongest! So don't leak anymore.

[It's call crying…]

[… Don't leak anymore, Red-white!! Cirno is the strongest!]

The red-white is really weird today as she suddenly started laughing and nodding her head.

[… yes, Cirno you are the strongest… in many ways.]

[See Red-white, Cirno is the strongest!]

[… Reimu.]


[Call me Reimu.]

[Red-white is Red-White.]

[Call me Reimu…]



Flying down to look at the red-white in the eye, I tried to look serious but I failed when I just sorta babbled to her.

[… R-Red-white is Red-white! Don't tell Cirno what to do!!]

[Call me Reimu, please, Cirno…]

[… Reimu…]

[Thank you, Cirno…]

Seeing the red-white smile made me happy for some reason and I found that I wasn't mad anymore.

[CIrno is the strongest, Reimu! Cirno is!]

[… yes you are, Cirno… yes you are…]



Waving goodbye to Cirno, I watched for the wind and took off towards the mansion that was right in front of me.

Perhaps I can get some information from there?

As I did so, I experimented with my new found ability of being able to fly and I did a twirl and a loop around to see my control over flight.

[Woo hoo!~]

It worked perfectly and I was very pleased with my results which led to me accelerating my speed as the mansion gate became larger and larger.

All around me, a scarlet mist was gathering around and I prayed for safety among the spirits that were nearby.

[… there's the gate alright!]

Dodging a couple of small fairies that were swooping down at me, I flew close to the ground and came to a stop just a few feet away from the main doors.

The doors were impressively built with steel and it looked pretty much very sturdy as I slowly approached it.



[… is anyone there?]

Trying to muster as much confidence I had as I approached it, I hated to admit it but it was quite intimidating the way the mansion seemed to glow in the scarlet hue around it.


Screaming out loud, I waited for a response from the mansion and I immediately got one from a person that appeared casually from the side of the gigantic metal doors.

[… w-what is it… just as I was going to turn in to have a quick snack…]

Yawning, the door guard noticed me and I bowed politely to her.

[Good evening…]

[… R-Reimu?!]

Calling my name, the door guard ran closer to me and as she approached, I could make out her features more clearly.



She had crimson colored hair and was wearing something that was similar to a Chinese Qi pao that I had seen before, only it was green and it looked very much modified as she looked as if she was wearing a dress and a qi pao simultaneously.

Taking off her beret, the gate guard wiped away tears from her eyes before hugging me while I just stood there, stunned at her welcome.

[Reimu! You came back! I'm so glad to see you again!! You've grown too and you're so mature looking now, Look at you, you're the same height as me.]

[… erm… may I know your name?]

Patting her shoulder awkwardly, I waited for a moment and she hurriedly pulled herself away.

[Oh my gosh, what have I done? The mistress will be so mad at me for doing that…]

Sticking her tongue out, the girl took off her beret before bowing formally back to me.

[Welcome to the Scarlet Devil Mansion, I am Hong Mei… erm… you can call me China, Reimu…]

Stuttering half way, China paused nervously before she just sort of shrugged as she placed her hands on her hips.

[Well, Reimu… what brings you here? That's going to be the first thing you are going to tell me after such a long time? I didn't hear that you are coming back…]

Scotching my head at her friendliness, I bowed again to her before requesting that she continue.

[May I… enquire your name? You stopped half way…]

[M-My name?]



Looking at me as if I was crazy, the crimson colored gate guard pointed to herself once more and I nodded my head at her.

[Yes, your name please…]

[… My name is Hong Meiling.]

[Then, Ms Hong Meiling, may I request an audience with the Owner of the Mansion?]

[… You called my name?!]

[… yes I did, Miss Hong Meiling…]

I was surprised that calling her name made such a huge fuss as she fell to her knees and started crying out loud in joy.


[… Erm, Miss Hong Meiling?]



[Yes, yes of course Reimu. If it's you, the mistress will definitely let you in. But… you're weird today… oh wait.]

Tilting her head, Meiling paused for a second before she snapped her fingers together as if she had figured out something very important.

[That's right.. I had forgotten, Reimu do you know who I am, I am asking very seriously and I am not joking with you.]

Crossing her arms, Meiling stamped a foot on the floor before waiting for my reply.

What kind of reply would be the right answer?

I suppose definitely not the one I am about to answer her of course as Shrine Maiden's do not lie.



[No… I have a feeling that I had seen you before… but that is about it… I am sorry.]


She seemed kind of sad as I said that, her shoulders slumped but the smile on her face never wavered as she rubbed her nose for a bit.

[Well, I guess that should be expected, that stuff you drank was some potent stuff… Well, at least you're back home, that's what matters. Now… of course…]

Sensing the intent in her voice, I jumped back and drew a couple of amulets in alarm when she stamped her foot again, this time with more force.

[Even if I agree to let you in, it's not going to be for free. What'll be free is that I'll personally escort you to the mistress, if you win me…]

Taunting me by flexing her fingers in my general direction and asking me to make the first move, Meiling readied her stance and I was suddenly awash with new pieces in the jigsaw puzzle that was my past.

[Say China, what is the exercise that you do everyday?]

[It's Tai-chi, it makes the Qi flows better.]


Sitting beside me, I poured China a cup of tea and laughed when China accidentally spilled some of it as she screamed.

[Hot hot!!]

[Cat's tongue, China?]

[I'm Hong Meiling! Your tea is so hot!]



[… Danmaku again?]

[What else, Reimu? I might actually get to beat you this time…]

Grinning wryly, Meiling leapt on top of the Pair of Metal Doors before clapping her hands together in concentration.

[… Well, okay…]

Reluctantly, I nodded to Meiling and flew up to meet her face to face, me threading air and she threading metal.

[… A Single hit?]

[A Single hit. A limit of five spell cards.]

[Okay, you're on.]

Closing both our eyes, Meiling threw a coin in the air and we immediately understood what she meant.

The moment the coin hits the floor is the moment the match begins!


Meiling was the first person to respond to the coin hitting the floor and as I dived down below her, she twisted her body like a cocoon and slammed both her feet on the floor, causing a mini-earthquake to strike the earth and a big crater to appear just inches away from me.

[WOW!! That was close!!]

Patting my own chest as I skidded to a halt a few feet away from the impact, I dusted myself off before diving to the side as Meiling charged after me, her fist raised up in a combat stance.

[Take this!!]

Kicking up in the air after me, I was sure that I got out of the way when a rainbow colored swirl homed in after me, forcing me to do a backflip behind it.

[That's amazing, Meiling!]

With my back facing her, I pulled out a couple of ofudas and chanted softly to them before releasing them in the air.

[Hakurei Homing Amulet, go!]

Releasing a stream of it at once, I did another backflip to behind Meiling to watch her response.

As I expected, the ofuda's chased after Meiling relentlessly till Meiling kicked back at the whole stream with a well timed burst of danmaku.


Emitting 'chi' casually, Meiling knocked back all the bullets and responded in turn with a dazzling cloud of rainbow colored shurikens that converged all around me, trapping me in a circle.


[I got you now, Reimu!]

Calling out in glee as she landed on the ground, I just shrugged before raising a hand up and chanting.

[Reveal yourself, Sealing Amulet: Border!]

Light burst from the amulet I had casually placed below on her floor and it bursts around Meiling, trapping her in a self-imposed box.

Miss Meiling, with her seemingly lack of ability to fly was not supposed to be able to defend against that, but she did as she grinned at me.

[You're amazing as always, Reimu~ But not enough, I've been training! MOUNTAIN BREAKER!]

Balling her hand into a fist, Meiling swung mightily at the Border and smashed it like it was glass.




Silently impressed by the display, I was knocked back into the battle when the circling shurikens started coming at me and I hurriedly twitched my body in all directions to get out of the way.

It was like playing dodgeball and it took a fair bit of effort before I finally was rid of all those shurikens.

Soaring up into the sky, I shot a stream of needles on towards Meiling, who was concentrating her power on the ground.

[Not so fast, Reimu! Flower Sign: Gorgeous Sweet Flower!]

Calling out the spellcard, which I recognized almost immediately as it shone with the colors of the rainbow, a circle of white shots appeared around her in a shape of a flower and it rose to me as one.



[You're amazing as always, but it isn't enough, Meiling!]

As I danced all around the sky, dodging whatever that Meiling shot at me, my memories returned to me slowly about my encounter with Meiling.

[I am the Scarlet Mansion Door Guard, you shall not past! The many who have tried is countless and you shall be my next victim!]

She had first struck me as a cocky, arrogant person.




[Argh… you are truly powerful! Come… let me show you my true power!!]

As we played around in the evening sun, I realized that she was holding back all the time, all her feelings of being alone all the time.

She, who lives her life as a doorguard was confined to the post for all of eternity. Doomed not to have any friends, only to have her duty to keep her company.

Even the slight time she spends on her day off would undoubtedly be met with nothing to do.

[AHh! Forgive me, mistress!!]

She has dedicated her life to Remilia… scarlet?

My thoughts about Meiling came to an abrupt end as I fell from the sky, clutching my head in pain.

Seeing me in distress, Meiling broke from her attack and ran below me to catch me.

[Reimu! Are you alright?]

Catching me with her powerful arms, Meiling breathed a sigh of relief when I nodded my head and gingerly got back up to my feet.

[That doesn't count as I didn't strike you. Come on, let's continue! Nothing like a good warm up, eh, Reimu?]



The both of us were panting at this point of time, Meiling from excitement and of exerting her own strength for the moment but I was truly tired.

The battle was intense and I was not used to skipping about in the air, diving to avoid a new barrage while trying to hit Meiling all at the same time.

It was a losing affair… unless.

Readying her stance, Meiling was definitely caught off guard when I lunged at her, my fists aiming at the bottom half of her body.


Exclaiming as I revealed my strike as a feint, I attempted to strike her on the chest but she managed to block it with both her hands.

[That still smarts, Reimu! You can fight hand to hand? This shall be interesting!!]

Provoking her was part of my strategy as angered foes to tend to make many mistakes and I and her exchanged over fifty blows together.

Most of the time Meiling was much stronger in her strikes while I was more accurate. She however never misses a beat even when I stopped a strike that should have struck me and she would continue on to pummel me with never-ending strikes.

It was tiring to counter and launch the attacks with such repetition but I endured it all, ignoring the beads of sweat that were forming on my forehead.

Meiling too should be feeling the pressure as I parried her next strike, blocked her kick and attempted an elbow to her face all at the same time.




Trying to get me with a roundabout kick to my head, I ducked under the move and attempted to reposition my hands to flip her up.

[You are a hundred years too young, Reimu!]

Figures, she was more than a hundred years older than me and she stopped my attempt with a sliding movement that almost brought me to my knees if not for me quickly forcing my whole weight unto a hand for support.


In a stalemate, the both of us panted in unison until Meiling raised a thumbs-up to me.

[You're great Reimu. Even if it had been a while and you forgetting everything, you still are amazing. You can still dodge all of my danmaku and you learnt how to fight in par with me in Hand-to-Hand combat. You're amazing…]

[You as well, Miss Meiling…]

She was definitely praising me too vigorously, and I bowed to her politely only to see her bow back in return.

[… In return for you showing me your display of power, FEAR THIS!]

Clapping her hands together, Meiling's eyes turned scarlet for a second and I involuntarily took a step back.


Those eyes, they… they remind me of…

Remilia Scarlet!!

[Ultimate Flowery Sign: Finishing Mountain Breaker!]

In a split second, Meiling disappeared into mid-air and I could no longer see her, despite be looking all over the place.


Pulling out a couple of amulets, I hurriedly leapt up into the air and aimed the amulets on the ground, hoping to catch Meiling.

Unfortunately, that wasn't where Meiling was.


Appearing behind me in the air, Meiling grinned triumphantly while I just had to marvel at her technique.

She had not disappeared but in a matter of less than ten seconds had increased her speed to such a rate that my eyes could not keep up with her.

It must be a temporary maneuver as she was panting hard as her fist swung towards me and I was powerless to stop it.


In reflex, I raise my gohei to stop the first strike and Meiling knocked it away with nary a pause. The second strike came and I raised a small border by pulling out an Ofuda from my sleeve with my other hand.

She too knocked it away before the last strike barreled in.


There was a colorful explosion that rocked my vision and at the same time, sent me flying to the ground.


Laying dazed on the floor, I was shocked beyond words to find that I had felt no pain when the blow was struck and the only injury that I had sustained was due to me crashing to the ground.

I was lying in a crater that was larger than me and I breathed a sigh of relief at still being alive when I felt something cold on my stomach.




[Ow ow! That hurt, Reimu!]

Rubbing her head as she grinned at me, Cirno flew up before pointing a hand at Meiling, her wings fluttering dangerously fast as she did so.

[… What is this, neighbor? I thought you never leave your lake, Cirno?]

Looking politely confused, Meiling stopped for a moment as she glided gracefully back to air with Cirno in hot pursuit.

[I came to save Reimu! Reimu is weak! So Cirno, who is the strongest will save Reimu!]

[… t-thank you… Cirno…]

I was touched that she came to save me but the way she puts it seem so wrong after I just defeated her with a single strike. But I am not about to complain as she did save my life from being ended prematurely by Meiling.

[Reimu is too weak, so Cirno will take over now!]


Struggling to stop her, I tried to grab her hand but she flew out of reach and grinned confidently at Meiling.


W-wait… Meiling is not rainbow…







Gods, this could go on forever…

As the two of them squabbled, I took the opportunity to rest and to concentrate on what had happened. Just earlier, Meiling was so fast that I could barely hear her, the sounds of her foot hitting the ground was not even heard before she appeared behind me.

Amazing stuff…

Cirno was amazing too. She had approached like a bullet and had raised a barrier of ice in front of me and Meiling's punch in a matter of seconds to dampen the blow.

Closing my eyes, I prayed for Cirno's safety from where I was, helpless and powerless in the dirt as Cirno shouted at Meiling.


She really is an innocent child and as I watched, a brain wave came to me.

[Well, it will boost her confidence so it'll be fine…]

Smiling to myself, I raised a few charms in the air and chanted to them softly.


[Listen to my call, spirits that are bound to the lake. The ice fairy of the lake requires your help. I am not that selfish to ask you all to personally come to aid, rather, I would myself be off her aid. So, hear my humble request… grant my strength, even if it is temporary to be given to the strength of Cirno, the Ice Fairy…]


As I chanted, the charms flew from my arm and circled straight towards Cirno.

[… Let them be her wings, her strength and her shield… let her be the strongest as she wants to be… Christening Shikigami!]

Christening it in more ways than one, I closed my eyes and focused on helping Cirno the best way I can, by boosting her powers with my own.

[This is my first spell card while Meiling has used three, the odds are with us.]


As the amulets circled around her, I could sense Cirno's thoughts and as I had expected, they were pure and direct. She wanted to get this over and done with and she dived straight like a bullet for Meiling.



Dodging the first dive by Cirno, Meiling was surprised when Cirno did an about turn and crashed into her headfirst, knocking her wind out.

I suppose that is considered a single hit but Meiling certainly did not think so as she recovered quickly from the blow to launch another straight fist at Cirno.

Cirno, being Cirno didn't bother to dodge it and instead grabbed it with her tiny hands and surprisingly stopped it.

[Cirno is the strongest and Cirno has a hard head!]

Grinning now as my power mingled with her, Cirno kicked at Meiling's gut and even as she blocked every one of them, it quickly became clear that Cirno was stronger than I am and she drove Meiling back to a corner by raw strength alone.


Just as Cirno and I thought we had Meiling on the ropes, Meiling responded viciously by dodging behind a feint kick and smashing Cirno's right hand to bits.

[I believe I WIN!]

Pumping a hand in the air, I was about to give in too when Cirno's words just brought me back to the fight.

[Cirno is tough! Cirno is the strongest!]

With the amulets still circling around her, her hand reformed itself by freezing water droplets around and she flexed her arm to show that it was working.


Flicking a finger, Cirno launched the simple icicle barrage at Meiling and I sighed too when she grazed them without breaking a sweat.

[You're weak, Cirno!]


Blocking a strike from Meiling with her hands, Cirno smashed her head into Meiling's chest again and she faltered back, giving Cirno a second chance.

Not that she needed it.



The amulets circling around her gave her a boost spiritually and mentally as I could control to some extent the influx of her unstable power and control over ice. Her body is stronger and her attacks more accurate due to my power being mingled with her.

I am like a shikigami to her, a boost to her abilities even though I am not present in form to help her.

I took her and Cirno by surprised when I made the falling icicles broke into smaller needles behind her and shot back at Meiling in a dazzling criss-crossing movement.


Noticing too late, Meiling declared another spell-card, her fourth in an attempt to break out of the trap.

[Extreme Color: Colorful light chaotic Dance!]

Spinning herself in a circle and spreading danmaku all around her, Meiling repelled all the circles but she did not stop Cirno's Last attack, which was simultaneously launched by me and her.





As the both of us called out the spells, it bring out total tally to five and that could have been much better to end it with a big bang, or in this case, a big freeze.

The amulets that I had sent out as a boost to Cirno now glowed with an eerie white light before they bursts into small orbs that were colored red, green and blue before circling around Meiling.

Likewise, some of them turned into icicles that formed around Meiling, trapping and cornering her.

Glowing white, Cirno raised her hands and punched straight at Meiling's guts as she got slammed all around by the orbs I had used and the icicles were freezing any portion of the body that came in contact with it.



The punch connected true and she was slammed into the walls surrounding the gate. Before she could cry out in pain thou, the surrounding air started to freeze around Meiling.


As Meiling cried out in horror, I just prayed for her to forgive me as she was frozen into a large ice monument the second later.

[I am the strongest!]

Proudly sticking out her chest, I hated to admit it but Cirno really looks like she might be strongest with her raw power over ice.

Even thou it took a bit of assistance from me, Cirno's raw talent in using ice as a weapon are pretty deadly as it took care of Meiling so effortlessly if not without finesse.

After she struck a pose to me, Cirno flew back and pulled me back to my feet, laughing as she did so.

[Reimu is weak! Cirno is strong! If Cirno did not come to save Reimu, Reimu would be dead.]

[No doubt about that, Cirno…]

Walking towards the hole in the wall that held Meiling, I apologetically clapped my hands together and bowed towards the frozen Meiling before starting to chip at the monument slowly and carefully with a rock I had found on the ground.

[What is Reimu doing?]

Tilting her head, Cirno flew around me even as I broke the ice slowly and painfully.

[I'm chipping the ice, Cirno.]

Patiently explaining to her, I winced when I cut my hand with a sharp corner of the stone and I sighed to myself and Cirno.

[Cirno, you shouldn't have frozen Meiling into a large snowball…]

Looking at Meiling, I had to stifle a giggle as I saw the pose in which Meiling was frozen. It was absolutely hilarious as she had a look of utter disbelief as she crossed her arms and sorta resembled a cross between a chicken taking flight and a girl having her photographs taken without permission.

It was really too hilarious to pass up but I pinched myself to stop myself from laughing.

[Rule of the Shrine Maiden: Do not poke fun at other's Misfortune]

Lowering my head, I prayed for forgiveness from the Spirits before continuing my tasks to get Meiling out of the Ice.

[I'm sorry Meiling… Cirno did too good a job this time… I'll get you out in no time!]

[Reimu, the Rainbow-colored girl will attack Reimu again! Cirno will protect Reimu as Reimu is weak and Cirno is strong but Cirno thinks it is stupid for Reimu to let her out!]

Turning to Cirno, I reprimanded her like I would to a small child as I continued to chip at the ice-block.

[Look Cirno, I know you coming to save me is very commendable. In fact, I owe me life to Cirno, Thank you for saving me Cirno.]

[HMPH! Cirno always saves her friends!!]



Puffing her chest out again, Cirno blushed when I patted her head and her small ice body seemed to shrink a little in disappointment when I continued to speak, chipping away as I did so.

[But, this is too far. Miss Meiling and I agreed to have a danmaku battle and the first person to strike wins. Although Cirno interceded into the battle, you struck her twice. Once when you hit her with your head…]

My voice trailing off when I was reminded of the sight, I shook my head and vigorously continued to smash at the Gigantic Meiling Snowball while trying hard not to laugh at that particular sight.

[And the other when you punched her in the stomach. So one for me and one for you.]

Pulling her fingers, I suddenly struck her on her head as a punishment, something which Cirno must not be expecting as tears started to form around her eyes.


Losing her train of thought, Cirno sobbed as she sank to her knees and I watched on as tears from her eyes froze up and became ice-crystals on her cheeks.

[… Cirno. You must be more responsible.]

[… R-Responsible?]

[Yes, you must be more responsible, Cirno. You could have killed Meiling there when you froze her in the block. Cirno, even if you are the strongest, you must keep from using your powers too much.]

Patting her head comfortingly, I gave Cirno a little hug before persuading her to stand in front of the Frozen Meiling and bowing with her in apology.

[C-Cirno is sorry, rainbow colored-girl…]

[… We are sorry, Miss Meiling.]

Author's Notes: AH LIFE. NO TIME!