It's early noon.

Komachi lies on the cold snow with her scythe to her right, and slowly, her eyes start to close.

Her eyelids feel heavier as her body relaxes on the cold snow, and even though she knows falling asleep on the snow would be a bad idea, she thinks "just... gonna rest my eyes and get up quickly before..."

She notices a beam of light in the sky heading toward the Sanzu River.

She immediately wakes up and grabs her scythe, glaring angrily at the beam of light and saying "how DARE you try to fly other the river! I'm going to have to teach you a... oh wait."

She focuses her eyes and notices the mask and cloak, then says "...it's one of the guards. I wonder what's he doing here?"

She shrugs and looks away, then says to herself "well, as long as he didn't see me, he won't report me to Shiki-sama!"

To her right, a strict girl's voice says "neglecting your duties again!?"

Terror fills Komachi's face as she looks toward the angry glowing eyes to her right and exclaims "Shi-Shiki-sama! I wasn't sleeping! I-I was just resting my eyes for a second, I swear!"

A golden sword strikes Komachi's head, leaving a large steaming lump on her head.

While she rubs her lump and pouts, Shikieiki says "I'll scold you later. We have some work to do in there."

Komachi's face fills with horror once again. She trembles and sweats as she asks "y-you mean... down there...?"

With a serious face, Shiki looks to the sky as the beam of light falls straight toward the river and says "yes. There's an intruder in there, and it's up to us to find him before somebody else does."

Komachi gulps and sounding frightened, she asks "who would be stupid enough to want to enter that place?" Shiki hides a small smile with her sword and says "an idiot in search of hope."

-

As soon as he puts on the mask, Ail flies from the farthest shores of the Sanzu River and heads toward it while flying higher and higher.

The moment he's right on top of the river, just like he expected, his power of flight stops working, so he falls straight on to the water.

As he falls, he wills himself to continue forward, then realizes he can still use small magical bursts to impulse himself, so he positions himself to fall on the water on his feet, and just before touching the water, the soles on his shoes expand and inflate a little.

Inside the mask he smiles as he thinks "Nitori. I wonder how long will THIS addition work?"

Using well-timed magical impulses and the inflated soles on his shoes, Ail skates on the water, heading straight to the patch of land at the other side.

He notices many strange arms, claws and tentacles reaching out to him, probably to drag him down with them.

He swerves, twirls and jumps over these obstacles as he gets closer to his goal, then all the obstacles just disappear underwater.

Ail knows this isn't good, and just as he suspected, something worse emerges from underwater.

A creature that looks like a mixture of a giant brown eel and a whale with whiskers around the mouth jumps over his head with its mouth wide open, bearing thousands of jagged teeth.

Ail ducks at the last possible second while pushing himself with another magical burst, avoiding the creature's mouth, it's body, then it's tail after using another quick magical impulse.

Land is just a few feet away from him; Ail tries to hurry before the creature tries to jump at him again.

To his dismay, the creature is right behind him, determined to take him down to the depths of the river with it, jumping high in the air and aiming to eat him, however, Ail has no intention of dying just yet, so in one last ditch effort, he jumps and impulses himself with a heavy magical burst, and as soon as he's clear from the river he realizes he can fly again, so without wasting another moment, he flies up and away from the shores, where the creature lands and strands itself.

After his shoes deflate, making a loud rude noise, Ail looks back as the monster wails sadly, unable to return to the river.

The creature's cry seems to affect him, making him feel depressed, so he turns around and lands close to the creature. He looks into the creature's three left side eyes, then nods.

As if understanding Ail's intentions, the creature rocks itself until it rocks hard enough to lift its body, then Ail concentrates and shoots a water ball twice his own size at the creature's belly, helping it roll back to the water.

After falling in, the creature sinks, causing Ail's heart to fill with despair. He thinks of going after it, but remembers that the moment he touches that water, he'll suffer a fate worse than death.

The creature pops its head out of the water away from the shore, giving Ail a much needed reassurance of it's well being, then as it swims away it sings a beautiful song that seems to soothe Ail and restore the energy he wasted when crossing the river.

Ail smiles under the mask, then quickly turns around and walks away.

-

After walking for 30 minutes, Ail finds himself in front of two very familiar large doors.

The building in front of him looks like a large white dome supported by dark-blue walls and surrounded by many gargoyle statues, all diligently watching over the surroundings.

Ail wastes no time in pushing open one of the doors, expecting to find Shikieiki staring down at him from her platform, but to his surprise, the courtroom is completely empty.

He walks toward Shiki's platform and looks to his left, and sees the stairs to heaven, then to his right, and sees his destination... the gate leading to the hole to Hell.

He takes a deep breath and quickly walks over, opens the gate, and stands next to the hole, closes his eyes, then lets himself drop in.

The moment he feels the overwhelming and suffocating heat of hell he opens his eyes and starts to fly.

The cloak wraps around his body, startling him as it does, then the sword the shadows gave him starts floating around him, surrounded by a golden aura.

Ail relaxes and realizes the cloak has become like part of his skin. He feels he can breathe a little easier, and the scorching heat of hell doesn't feel as bad anymore.

After relaxing, Ail takes a look around. The floors are dark and full of dirty-looking bones and skulls, and everywhere he looks, a stream of bright magma flows all around.

He watches as the spirits all moan and beg for water and something comfortable, maybe even some decent clothes, but a strange large and bulky horned creature bathed in flames surfaces from a crater and starts to strike them all with a fiery whip, then wraps a few of them with the whip itself and tosses them toward the stream of magma.

All of them burn in the scorching river, but they can't die. Ail shivers at the sight, then looks in front of him.

Ahead of him, an orange mist blocks his view, but from what little he can see, he knows there are many dangerous formations and obstacles ahead.

He takes a deep breath to relax, then flies straight forward.

-

Back at Gensokyo, at the Moriya Shrine.

Reimu is sitting next to Sanae and Budou as Sanae confidently says "look, I'm not saying it's fun to feel like you're dying from suffocation, but that blob hasn't returned, and I'm sure it won't return."

Concerned and irritated, Reimu replies "Sanae, these things keep coming back if you don't destroy them! Yours is probably just slow."

Sanae replies "you're worrying over nothing. Now, can someone tell me why Ail isn't with us right now?"

Budou twitches and Reimu drops her mug of tea. Sanae sweats and asks "what? What happened now? I-is he hurt? Come on, say something!"

Inside the shrine, Rika and Kanako overhear the conversation, then Kanako says "wait, wait, I'm gonna take a wild guess here. After going through hell and back, Ail forgot something along the way and now is going through hell again to recover that which he forgot, is that it?"

Rika flinches, Reimu twitches, and Budou panics and flies away toward Suwako after seeing Sanae's unsettling worry-rage-face.

Without thinking of the consequences, Sanae grabs Reimu by her shirt, lifts her up to her own face, and with glowing rage-filled eyes she shouts "what happened now!?"

Reimu sweats and hesitantly says "well... you see..."

Before she can answer, two blobs suddenly drop from the sky; one for Suwako, the other for Sanae.

Kanako and Rika are trapped outside the domes this time, however, they watch as another dome falls nearby, so they look at each other, then Rika shouts "my lady, if it's ok, we'll head out and help the tengu!"

From inside, Reimu shouts "you go ahead! I'm breaking this thing in just a moment anyway!"

Kanako shouts "Is Sanae doing alright!?" Reimu shouts back "not to worry you, but she was too agitated when this thing hit. Now STOP SHOUTING, you're breaking my concentration!"

Rika and Kanako look at each other, then Rika says "let's go help the tengu, then."

While they fly toward the tengu, Kanako looks suspiciously at Rika, and when Rika notices, she blushes and asks "wh-what is it miss Kanako?"

Kanako continues to stare suspiciously, then asks "Rika? Do you know your family name?"

Rika sighs and sadly says "no. I was found by some very special people. They saved me from dying... and that's all I can remember about my past."

Kanako drops the subject and says "I see. Sorry, I didn't mean to touch such a sensitive subject. Let's just help that tengu."

Rika nods, then says "yes. Lives are at stake!"

Again, Kanako looks at her suspiciously, then asks "ok, what do you know about Ail?"

-

Inside Sanae's black blob, Reimu sits in meditation while Sanae's face turns purple, her life slowly leaving as she tries to gasp for air.

Time is short, and Reimu knows this. She sweats while she breathes and meditates while holding on to a charm on her right hand, and her gohei on her left.

She quickly opens her eyes and expels air very suddenly, seemingly grunting and pushing forward with both hands while still holding the gohei and charm.

Several amulets fly all around her, shaping a circle in the air, and without breaking the formation, they stick to the black wall, shattering the black blob in an bright flash.

Sanae takes various deep breaths and coughs violently for some time. Reimu knows she'll be alright, so she rushes to the blob in which Suwako and Budou are in.

She shouts "BUDOU, SUWAKO!? Are you two alright in there!?"

From inside, Budou shouts "Hakurei sis! Big sister Suwako doesn't move. She's shivering a lot, but it's not even cold in here! What do I do!?"

Reimu shouts "first, you need to calm down..."

From inside the blob, a large spectral city surrounds Budou and Suwako, and every time nature tries to grow in this city, it's destroyed and removed by the foolish humans that disregard nature as being useful to them.

Suwako trembles and cries as she witness these events and repeats "but nature is there to provide for all... you fools *sob*"

Budou listens to Reimu as her voice faintly goes through the black orb's wall.

Budou takes a deep breath to calm herself down, then says "alright... I'm calm. Hakurei sis, how do I break this thing!?"

From outside, Reimu shouts "you have to find the wall and hit is hard with whatever you can!"

Sanae's voice adds "Budou... get your big sister out of there!"

Budou's face shows only determination now. She places her hands in front of herself and feels the wall, then shouts "mama, Hakurei sis! Stand back!"

Outside the blob, Sanae and Reimu look at each other with surprise, then a very familiar sound can be heard coming from inside the blob itself.

Reimu asks "is that a-"

Sanae hurriedly says "spell card... yes."

They continue to stare at each other, then both gasp and scream, jumping away just as a wave of green energy in the shape of a drill bursts right through the blob, obliterating it in the process, then disappearing quickly.

Sanae and Reimu quickly stand up and look toward where the blob was, finding Suwako sobbing on her knees, and a little further away is Budou, standing and casually waving at Reimu, then Sanae.

With a smile on her face, she triumphantly shouts "MAMA, Hakurei Sis! I did it! Look, I saved big sister!"

Reimu and Sanae exchange shocked looks across the shrine's courtyard, then they stare back at Budou in shock for a little while longer.

-

At the bottom of the waterfall, to the left side of the river, Aya tries to air-tackle the black blob that has Momiji trapped inside.

Rika and Kanako land close by, then Kanako asks "is she alone in there!?"

Aya ignores them and continues to air-tackle the blob, always getting bounced back until she tries one last time, giving it her all and some more, but only manages to hurt herself badly after bouncing back violently.

She falls on her back on the ground and grabs her right shoulder and screams for a moment, then stops as Rika kneels beside her and softly says "please calm down, miss Aya."

Aya says "Momiji's in there!"

Kanako asks again "is she alone in there?"

Aya recovers and manages to sit up, then says "n-no. The kappa was with her... Nitori. They were playing shogi when that thing landed right on top of them."

Rika whispers "good", then gets up and walks toward the blob, and after getting close enough she shouts "miss Nitori, can you hear me!?"

From inside, Nitori answers "yes, I can hear you! Who is this?"

Rika shouts "it's me, Rika. Miss Reimu's maid, but never mind that now!"

Kanako shouts "how is Momiji!?"

Inside the blob, Momiji is completely paralyzed, while specters of other tengu fly right through her, shouting many rude insults at her, then circle around her, shouting many more insults.

Nitori shouts "she's really cold, and she can't move! Also, I can't believe the tengu are so mean to each other."

Aya's specter sneers at Momiji while saying many horrible insults, making Nitori gasp and angrily say "oh my! That Aya's the WORST!"

From outside Aya shouts "HEY! What did I ever do to you!?"

Nitori looks confused as she asks "huh? How can you be out there when you're in here?"

Kanako shouts "never mind that!"

Rika continues "yes! Miss Nitori, you have to break this blob from the inside. Do you have anything you can use to break it's wall?"

Nitori smirks, her eyes glint, and from her backpack, several mechanical arms pop out, some with drills, some with iron balls, and two with a pair of hands holding wooden clubs.

With a glint on her eyes and a wide smirk on her face, Nitori chuckles and shouts "stand back!"

Outside, Rika and Kanako look at each other curiously, while Aya quickly flies away from the blob, shouting "oy~! Get away from there!"

Rika and Kanako look curiously at Aya, when the blob behind them explodes, sending them flying far away, while Nitori comes out of it, cackling like a maniac while swinging her tools wildly in the air.

Once she realizes she's already out, she looks disappointed and says "aww~ Was that all? Oh well, I had my fun."

Nitori smiles and pulls back all the tools she had unleashed, then looks around and notices Kanako and Rika, side by side on the snow with their eyes spinning as they moan.

Nitori shrugs, then looks behind her, then watches as Aya embraces Momiji and says "it's alright, I got you. Remember what I told you about those things. Don't worry, you are no less than anyone."

Nitori smiles again, then says to herself "now that's how it should be."

She pulls a camera from one of the pockets in her skirt, takes a couple of pictures of Aya and Momiji hugging one-another, then casually walks away while whistling a tune to herself.

-

In hell, Ail is being bombarded from all sides by countless spirits and monsters that simply have nothing else to do while waiting to be punished.

Ail struggles to avoid being hit by the powerful and fast bullets, but he's out of his league, and some dangerous obstacles prevent him from moving too much.

Luck from Shou's blessing on his bracelet is the reason he's still alive, as all the bullets that have grazed him only open a small tear on the cloak, but thanks to both of Shinki's blessings on the bracelet and on the cloak itself, each tear patches up in seconds, though Ail can feel as though his skin is being cooked every time there's a tear, but the Hakurei blessing on his bracelet quickly heals his skin.

Ail instinctively knows that using his own powers while inside hell will give him away, but the blessings from Suwako allows him to break some stalactites, getting rid of a few enemies from the air, and a few others from the ground, and Kanako's blessing allows him to blow away most of the flying enemies and some of the floating platforms.

Even with all these blessings helping him, he knows if this keeps up, he's going to attract unwanted attention, so he decides to swoop down to the ground and hide inside a small cave on a tall purple wall.

Right after hiding, the shadow of two large yamas momentarily block out the light.

Ail peeks with his left eye and sees one tall and thin yama, dressed somewhat like Shikieiki, but the second one looks bulk, a little shorter than the first one, wears a navy-blue suit, and sports a large pair of red dragon wings.

Ail quickly hides when the bulky yama looks his way and with a gruff and deep voice he says "you ghouls better behave, or I'll give you all DOUBLE the punishment!"

The tall thin one, in a more elegant and calm tone of voice says "I swear, I thought I felt a living soul around here. Were you, by any chance, trying to have fun with our uninvited guest?"

None of the creatures speak, then the bulky yama's thunderous roar causes the entire area rumble and the spirits to run away, then he shouts "if I find anyone alive down here I'll make SURE to PERSONALLY take care of it!"

As they casually fly away, the tall yama calmly says "calm down. It's probably become ashes by now."

Ail waits inside the cave for quite a lot of time, making sure those yama are far away from where he is.

A pulsating energy that feels very familiar to him gets his attention, and as if in a trance, Ail exits the small cave and flies straight toward the source.

-

In Gensokyo, back at the Moriya Shrine, Sanae's scream of rage echoes all the way down to the village when she finds out about Ail.

She grabs Reimu by her shoulders, lifts her up on the air, and shakes her up violently as she shouts "why didn't you STOP HIM!?"

After being dropped, Reimu's world moves around a lot as she manages to say "I tried... but..."

Reimu finally recovers and says "the thing is, if he doesn't do this, we will all be affected by those blobs. Not just those whose shadows are dead."

Sanae drops to her knees, so before she can get up again, Budou, along with Phredia, jump on Sanae and embrace her tightly.

Budou says "mama, we have to trust papa Ail. I am sure he'll return."

Phredia rubs Sanae's cheek with her tiny hands, trying to comfort Sanae, who looks down to Budou and says "I'm sorry, Budou. I am sure this must hurt you too... and you, Reimu. I didn't mean to snap like that."

Rika and Kanako look at each other for a moment, then back at Sanae, then Rika says "he's got you and little miss Budou to return to. I'm sure that's why he wanted us to tell you the truth if you asked."

Sanae sighs loudly, then starts to rub Budou and Phredia's heads with her hands, then says "well, those two sha... I mean, angels, placed their blessings on him, right?"

Reimu nods, then says "but I would have never allowed him to go. What he's doing is a reckless and desperate attempt for peace of mind, and I don't like it."

From the shrine's porch, Suwako says "Reimu, don't forget that we all have our own paths to tread..."

While Suwako's voice echoes, the scene changes to that of Remilia, crouching on the floor and looking away from a spectral mirror that makes her look like an adult who decays quickly, then vanishes.

Suwako continues "you also mentioned these tests he must endure, Reimu. You should have expected something like this to happen, especially since it was the yama herself that told you about this."

Remilia looks up to the mirror again, then screams and tries to attack it, but the mirror moves away from her reach.

Suwako continues "besides, each and every one of us, even us gods, must go through these tests in life, even if they seem inhuman and just plain cruel."

Remilia finally summons the courage to chase the mirror and strike it with her claws, striking the blob's wall instead and breaking free.

She lets herself fall on her back on the floor and breathes in deeply, feeling relief in her.

The scene changes back to Suwako in the Moriya Shrine, just as Sakuya rushes to her mistress' side.

Suwako finishes saying "maybe this is part of that test. Maybe it wasn't really over. Maybe it'll continue until he learns the lesson he needs to learn. One encouraging thing about him..."

Everyone in the shrine stares silently at Suwako as she smiles at them and says "is that he's consciously taking on these tests without questioning them once. Or haven't you noticed?"

Aya and Momiji look at each other, then at Reimu, who says "I... guess you're right. Well, regardless of what Shiki said to me, Ail can count on me and all his friends, I don't care if I'm interfering or not!"

Sanae nods and says "and he knows he can count on me, and lady Yasaka and lady Moriya... when they are behaving."

The goddesses blush, but smile and nod, then Budou says "and I'll become even stronger and help papa much, much more. You'll see!"

Everyone in the shrine smile, but keep quiet.

-

Back in the depths of hell, Ail find himself floating above a great lake of magma.

In its center floats a white platform, and on that platform is the evil red spirit that once possessed Ail.

The spirit's deep and ominous voice echoes to Ail "welcome, little soul. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

The sword the shadows gave Ail positions itself right in front of Ail and points itself to the spirit.

He laughs and says "I see. So you figured it out. I am actually surprised. Tell me, did you like how all that power felt? How all that rage and hatred mixed inside of you, giving you STRENGTH, giving you POWER!"

Ail silently glares back to the spirit through his left eye, then thinks "the moment I touch this sword the yamas will learn of my presence here. Not only that, but I'm sure it'll melt. I need to get closer before I try anything."

Ail slowly flies closer to the spirit while it says "do you really believe I'll just let you reach me?"

In an instant, the spirit shoots various "Spear of Gungnir" straight at Ail, then unleashes "Knockout in 3 Steps" so fast, Ail is almost caught by some of the smaller bullets.

Ail continues to get closer, and the spirit fires Ran's "Wizard Fox Thoughts" and Patchouli's "Philosopher Stone", then takes the shape of Ail's silhouette.

Every single bullet veers away from Ail as he gets closer to the red spirit, who laughs just as Ail reaches him, then says "you won't be able to find my tail now, little soul."

Ail continues to glare with his left eye, then notices the shape the spirit took is just an illusion, and can see its tail right by the silhouette's translucent neck.

Just like Ail predicted, the second he touches the sword it melts down rapidly, but Ail slashes quickly enough to cut the spirit's tail with the broad bottom of the sword.

The spirit starts to scream loudly as its tail gets cut off and falls to the magma after bouncing off the platform, and Ail manages to let go of the swords just before the hilt melts in his hands.

All that's left of the sword is the triangular red gem that rested on its hilt.

The spirit falls on the platform and writhes around as if in pain.

Ail turns around and slowly flies away with the gem floating around him, surrounded in a yellow aura. The spirit begins to laugh, progressing to a loud cackle, then says "you may have cut the bond, but I'll never leave you, Ail. It may take me years, but I'll link to your fate AGAIN! I will turn your life and twist it into a living hell. Just wait and see!"

Ail lifts his right arm, signaling an uncaring farewell, then speeds up, anxious to get back to the surface.

After Ail leaves, a shadow looms over the evil red spirit.

A girl asks "why do you want to torment that soul so?"

The spirit answers "because it's fun for me. Seeing him and all those around him struggle needlessly is an amusement I can't get enough of."

Shikieiki floats in front of the spirit, shocking and surprising it, then says "you will no longer interfere with his life."

She draws a magical symbol in the air with her sword, while Komachi, who's behind the spirit, makes a triangle inside a large circle and some symbols, using the same magic as Shikieiki.

Scared, the spirit asks "w-what are you doing? NO! You can't!"

Raising her voice, Shikieiki says "a soul like yours doesn't deserve the chances YOU'VE been given. By the power invested in me, I, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu condemn you to an eternity frozen in time!"

After she says these words, both symbols glow light blue, and the spirit's voice is silenced.

The red spirit is now encased in a light blue crystal; a crystal similar to the one that had Agava imprisoned in the former hell.

Shiki strikes the crystal with her sword, sending it down to the depths of the magma lake.

As it sinks, sounding very concerned, Komachi says "Shiki-sama, you realize the trouble you'll get into once they find out about this!"

Shikieiki smiles lightly and says "all the proper paperwork has been filled. I got permission to do this, directly from the bosses themselves. We won't be seeing that spirit anymore."

Komachi smiles, feeling relieved after hearing that, then Shikieiki hurriedly says "come, we're not done yet!" Komachi smiles and says "right! Let's go!"

-

In Gensokyo, right after Ail cuts the tail off the spirit, the remaining black blobs break up, one by one.

Byakuren cries as she witnesses many spectral humans banding together and killing spectral youkai in front of her eyes, all to see her suffer.

Right after the orb brakes, she falls on her knees, and just before she falls to the ground completely, Minamitsu manages to reach her and grab her, keeping her torso up.

At Entei, Eirin and Reisen's orbs break at the same time, then both are helped by their friends, Tewi and Kaguya, to stand back up.

At the Garden of the Sun, Elly and Kurumi rapidly punch the black blob form the outside, calling out to Yuka.

The orb breaks apart, and kneeling in the center, covering her eyes with her left hand, while holding her parasol with her right, Yuka slowly stands up, then walks to her subordinates.

Elly asks "miss Yukarin, are you alright?"

Yuka wraps her arms around both girls, shocking Elly and frightening Kurumi, then says "I will be, very soon." then tightens her grip on them.

At Makai, Alice and Mai hold Shinki on her feet, and right after the blob breaks away, Yumeko runs to them and looking very concerned, she checks on Shinki.

At the Netherworld, Yuyuko's blob breaks, revealing Yuyuko shedding tears while standing still and staring at the sky.

Youmu rushes to her and asks "Yuyu-sama, are you alright!?"

Yuyuko turns her head to face Youmu, and with tears in her eyes, she smiles and nods.

At Mayohiga, Ran holds both Chen and Yukari and cries "I'm so sorry! Chen, Lady Yukari, I'm sorry~! I should have been there with you!"

Yukari looks a little shaken, but calmly says "Ran, it's ok... it's over now."

At the Human village, the large black blob that was consuming the town's center shatters away, and at the center, Kyo holds Maribel, while Luna holds Renko on her feet.

Keine and Medicine rush to them, asking worriedly about the girls' conditions.

Meanwhile, at the Moriya Shrine. Everybody seems more relaxed, all sharing casual conversation, when Budou suddenly stands up and shouts "Papa! He's coming home! Papa, I'm coming!"

Before anyone can even get close to her, she flies away, toward the Sanzu River at great speed, leaving everyone, even Phredia behind.

Sanae shouts "Budou, wait for us!" then flies after her with Phredia on her shoulder.

Without saying another word, everybody else lift to the air and follow after Budou. Everyone, except for Aya, who stays behind a little longer and takes a few pictures of the kitchen, saying "ooh, so many things from the outside world. This should make a GREAT story."

After that, she runs outside and flies after the large group.

-

Ail reaches Shikieiki's court room again, but to his dismay, when he pushes the gate open, Shikieiki looks at him and says "Komachi, he must be in this room somewhere."

Komachi frantically looks around and says "don't worry Shiki-sama, I'm on it. That intruder can't stay hidden from me!"

Ail sweats and thinks "can't they see me? Maybe it's the mask."

Shiki looks at Ail and loudly says "it would be BAD if the culprit heads out that DOOR."

While saying this, she signals Ail to head to the entrance with her eyes, then continues to say "but once he's outside those DOORS, he's free from any trouble, so don't let him get away."

Komachi moves away from the door while looking around the floor and says "yes, Shiki-sama! Don't you worry, your Komachi is here. He won't escape."

Ail smiles behind the mask, then quickly and quietly walks toward the exit, and leaves through the door, closing it immediately behind him.

Once he leaves, Shikieiki bangs hard on her desk and with an inevitable smile she says "darn it, he got away!"

Komachi smiles back and rubs the back of her head while saying "whoops. Sorry Shiki-sama!"

They stare at each other for some time, then both start to chuckle.

Outside, Ail continues the walk back to the river, which takes him another 30 minutes.

When he reaches the shore, he notices Komachi standing by in her boat and looking toward Gensokyo's shore.

She looks back at Ail and says "all aboard for Gensokyo. Last call."

Ail smiles behind his mask again and immediately walks over.

Komachi pushes the boat away from the shore and says "you know, you can take those off now."

Ail obediently takes off the mask and pulls the cloak open.

He smiles at Komachi and says "I feel so much lighter now."

Komachi smiles while rowing the boat, then a familiar song reaches both their ears.

Komachi smiles and says "it's thanking you for saving its life earlier."

Ail smiles some more and replies "well, I really couldn't leave it to die like that."

Komachi giggles and then sounding more serious she says "you took a great risk, but I'm glad you took it. I'm even happier that you managed to come back alive."

Ail sighs and says "honestly... I'm glad too."

-

When Komachi and Ail arrive to the shore, they are met with a surprise.

All of Ail's friends are waiting to welcome him back.

Budou, Reimu, Sanae, the goddesses, the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Entei, the Myouren Temple, and even Yuka, Elly and Kurumi.

Elly looks at Yuka and asks "so that's Ail?"

Komachi chuckles and immediately she and Ail disembark.

The first one to reach Ail is Budou, who excitedly shows Ail her first spell card while he holds her in his arm.

Ail looks shocked at her, then looks at Reimu, Sanae and the goddesses. They all shrug while smiling, then rush to him to give him one big group hug.

Night at the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

Everyone has gathered there to listen to Ail's tale, though he omits a few details, especially those concerning the two yamas he saw.

After finishing his story, everyone enjoys some party favors. Remilia and Flandre even try a singing act that ended with Flandre storming out of the stage right after Remilia calls her "tone-deaf".

After going to the bathroom, Aya re-enters the party room, where before she says anything, everyone stares at her and says "AYAYAYAYA~"

Aya's face turns blue, so she quietly walks back into the bathroom and shuts the door.

The party is about to end, when Ail takes the stage again and stares at all his old and new friends.

Everyone quiets down after noticing Ail on the stage, and after they sit down, Ail says "my friends. Thank you all so much. Thank you for being my friends, even though I cause so much trouble."

From the tables, Orin shouts "don't talk like that, bro!"

Everyone agrees and before he can realize it, he's shedding some tears while smiling at them.

Everyone gets quiet again, then Reimu softly asks "are you really going to do this?"

Budou hears Reimu and asks "do what? Hakurei sis...?"

Budou notices Sanae being comforted by the goddesses while looking sadly at Ail, then Budou asks "what's going on?"

Ail continues "as some of you may know, something terrible happened between me and 3 very dear friends. We exchanged some hurtful words, and we almost even killed each other."

Budou flies to the stage and looking worried she asks "papa, what's going on!?"

Ail kneels down to look at Budou's face, then hands a key to her and with a smile he says "Budou, I am so proud of you. You've become strong at such a young age, and you even got your own spell card now. I feel much better doing this, now that I know how strong you really are."

Budou gasps and says "the key to papa's house?"

Ail's voice cracks a little, but he manages to smile and say "I'm sorry Budou, but I'm leaving Gensokyo."

Budou tosses the key at his face and flaps her wings furiously, while all the other guests, even Remilia and Flandre look at him with a disappointed and surprised expression.

Byakuren shouts "Ail, don't do this!"

Budou hyperventilates, then lightly punches Ail various times on the chest, saying "papa, that is a MEAN JOKE!"

She starts to cry and shouts "that's not funny, papa!"

Ail sighs and forces Budou on to his arms, calming her down a little, but still, she cries.

Reimu looks away, spotting Marisa sneaking around the other rooms in the mansion. She wants to go to her friend, but Marisa quickly vanishes into another room.

-

Budou continues to cry on Ail's shoulder, so Kyo takes this opportunity to say "dammit Ail, what sort of hare-brained scheme are you up to now!? How can you do that to Budou like that!?"

Ail stands up and says "know this. I will not be gone forever. Just long enough!"

Remilia flies closer and furiously shouts "long enough for WHAT!?"

Ail calmly says "long enough to find out where I truly belong."

Remilia and everyone in the room quiet down, and even Budou stops crying.

Ail salutes his friends and says "until our next meeting everyone! Farewell."

Ail grabs the key to his house and places it on Budou's pocket, then climbs down the stage, immediately heading straight to Reimu's table, where Kyo, Reimu and Sanae wait for him.

Kyo glares angrily at Ail and says "I should PUMMEL you where you stand, Ail!"

Ail sits Budou and Reimu's lap, then pulls out two simple-looking golden whistles.

He hands one to Reimu and the other to Budou, then whispers "if you ever need to contact me for whatever reasons, blow on these. Once you do, give me 30-40 seconds, but I'll be here."

Budou sobs and asks "you won't abandon me, right?"

Ail brushes the side of Budou's hair and says "NEVER! I would NEVER abandon you. I promised to take care of you, Budou, and to that promise I will hold. But right now, I need to do this, and knowing how well you're taking care of yourself tells me it's the right moment to do so."

Reimu pats Budou's head after she sobs again, then Ail says "Kyo, Reimu, Budou, and Sanae. I swear to you all, I will return, but... I just don't know when. Now, only the 4 of you know about these whistles. Don't tell anyone! Not the goddesses, not Luna, not even my own mother if she comes to visit."

All quietly nod, Budou sniffling as the rubs her nose with her sleeve.

Phredia flies from under Budou's hair and gives Ail a light hug on the shoulder. Ail pats her little head and says "you keep Budou safe, you hear?"

Phredia nods, then heads back to Budou to help comfort her.

Ail stands up straight and opens a gap to his mother's house behind himself, then looks back at all his friends.

Now, even the two goddesses have tears in their eyes. Ail takes a deep breath and says "farewell everyone. I will certainly miss you while I'm gone."

Before he leaves, Sanae summons up the courage to give Ail a tight hug, then with a cracked voice she says "you take care and come back soon."

As soon as they let go, Budou flies to Ail and give him yet another hug and says "you come back, like you promised! You come back and very soon, alright papa!"

Ail replies "I will. I give you all my promise."

After gently placing Budou on the flor, he enters through the gap, then turns around and says "you take care of the house while I'm gone, ok Budou!? Take care."

The gap closes up and slowly disappears.

Budou drops on her knees and starts to cry again, then Sanae and Reimu both kneel down beside her and gently rub her head.

Outside the mansion, Kimi, Kali, Letty, Daiyousei and Cirno watch the events of the party.

Cirno's tears fall non-stop, turning into tiny ice cubes before landing on the snow-covered ground below.

Cirno asks Letty "why... why am I crying? I'm the strongest, I shouldn't be crying."

Daiyousei pats Cirno's head while Letty answers "even the strongest can cry, Cirno. Those tears you shed aren't those of weakness, but of love for your friends... which is strange for a fairy."

Cirno smiles while rubbing her eyes, then says "then I truly must be the strongest!"

Beside Kimi, S-Suwako materializes with a smile on her face as she stares at Cirno. Kimi looks at her for a moment, then bows her head.

At the outside world, at Ayalina's house.

Ail knocks on the door a few times before he hears his mother saying in a sweet tone of voice "this better be an emergency~ or there's going to be one~!"

When she opens the door and sees Ail standing there, she gasps and exclaims "AIL!? What's the matter!? Why are you here!? What happened!?"

Ail smiles casually and asks "mom... can I stay here for a couple of days?"

-

2 MONTHS LATER

Noon at the Hakurei Shrine.

Rika stands beside Yukari, then bows to Reimu and with a smile she says "remember miss Reimu, I should be gone only 3 days! If anything should arise I'll let miss Yukari know so she can tell you."

Reimu smiles back, but doesn't reply.

Rika smiles again and grabs her mistress' hands and says "I won't leave you, miss Reimu. I will come back! I promise."

Reimu's eyes turn watery and a small tear escapes her left eye, then says "alright. You do what you need to do, Rika. I'll await for your return."

Rika giggles and smiles angelically, then says "wait for me, miss Reimu. I will be back. That's a promise I make to you."

Yukari stares at Rika from over her fan and says "well, shall we?"

Rika smiles and places her hand in front of her chest and with a light bow she says "let's!"

Before entering the gap she turns around and says "miss Reimu, miss Sanae, little miss Budou, miss Mima, lady Shiki, and miss Komachi! I'll see you all soon. Take care!"

Form inside the shrine everyone stares at Rika and wave their hands while saying "see you soon!" Budou adds "take care!"

Rika bows one more time, then jumps inside the gap, followed quickly by Yukari, who waves at Reimu and says "I'll be back shortly", then disappears into her gap along with Rika.

With a heavy heart, Reimu goes back inside the shrine, and already she feels something's missing.

Budou flaps her wings, knocking Phredia off them, and says "miss Reimu, please don't feel sad now! You promised to help me get stronger and we haven't done anything yet!"

Reimu lazily walks to the kotatsu and lets her whole torso drop down on the table as she kneels beside it.

Sanae, showing some sympathy, says to Reimu "don't feel so bad, miss Reimu. It's only for a few days."

Shiki adds "miss Reimu, you shouldn't let things like these weigh you down."

Reimu sighs and says "Ail leaves Gensokyo, and barely two months pass and Rika has to leave too. Shiki, why is everyone leaving?"

Shikieiki says "so that they may return stronger than they were before, miss Reimu."

Budou flaps her wings again, however Phredia flies away before being blown away again.

Budou pokes Reimu's hip and says "miss Reimu, come on, I need to get stronger too!"

Reimu asks "but why did they have to leave?"

Shiki replies "it's just another road in life. They'll be back, and I guarantee, when they do you won't even recognize them."

Budou thinks for a moment and asks "is that a good thing?"

Shiki smiles and says "in this case, it will be."

From the door, Kyo says "don't worry about your training, Budou. I'll take care of that, if it's alright with you."

Budou exclaims "large brother!"

Kyo twitches and says to himself "again with the large!"

He walks over to Reimu and Sanae, then says to them "you two listen to the yama. She knows what she's saying!"

Reimu chuckles and says "yeah... I guess you're right. We'll just have to be patient. Right Sanae?"

Sanae smiles and says "of course, miss Reimu! In fact, we should prepare a party for when they return!"

Kyo shouts "now you're talking!"

Mima opens a bottle of sake and says "why not party now!?"

Kyo replies "ALRIGHT!"

From outside, the sound of sake being poured can be heard, then Mima saying "let's drink until we can't drink anymore, hunk!"

From the village, Luna screams "KYO~~!", causing a powerful rumble that reaches the shrine.

Kyo asks Mima "you did that on purpose, didn't you?"

-

2 MORE MONTHS LATER

Spring has come.

The snowstorms are over, and trees are starting to recover their leaves.

At the Garden of the Sun, Yuka casually walks by the flowerbed that used to have the colossal blue flower Ail had revived for her.

She stops in front of it and when she takes a closer look she curiously asks herself "huh? What's this? You're growing back after all?"

That very same flower that died the day Ail battled the goddesses is growing once more, this time with blue and white petals.

Yuka kneels down and gently passes a finger on one of the white petals, noticing immediately how much softer they are, compared to the blue petals.

She stands up, looks to the sky, then says "and it begins once again."

At the Forest of Magic, there is a whistling sound that echoes all around the forest.

After some time, in the center of a small clearing, a gap violently opens up, violet bolts flying around as Ail falls through the gap and lands on the ground on his back.

He's full of cuts, wounds and bruises and looks very frightened.

He slowly stands on his feet and looks around, and sounding scared and confused he says "I... I know this place."

From behind, an arm covered only by a small puffy white sleeve by the shoulder places itself on Ail's shoulder, making him flinch and jump away.

A familiar voice says "whoa, calm down. It's just me! Marisa, ze."

Ail narrows his eyes to focus his sight and asks "Ma... Marisa?"

-

One Random Sukima

The End

Characters, spell cards and scenario belong to ZUN -Team Shanghai Alice-

Ail, Budou, Phredia, Agava, Kyo, Luna, Ayalina, Kimi & Kali were created by Willie G.R.

Rika was created by Snapshot2010

JAN 28 2010

Written by

Willie G.R.


A/N:

Ok, so I told a little fib when I said it was over before, but you're not mad, right? And with this, I open the curtains for my next Sukima. I wonder if I write too much? Are my chapters too long, or are they alright the way they are? Well, I can say I like them. I REALLY enjoyed writing them. Oh, as for little Budou's spell card... well I'm not letting you know it's name yet, or how it works. Just know she's growing up, although a little too fast. Well, she DOES want to help her papa more, and the messes he gets into are not to be taken lightly. Ah well, for those who read these last words, thank you for reading, and I truly hope you have enjoyed the read. Take care everyone. See you next Sukima.