Chapter 1: Enter Shrine Maiden Reimu
It happened quickly, and without warning. Her life had been absolutely, positively, most definitely, turned entirely upside down. Perhaps it was fate mocking her ability as a shrine maiden, or perhaps it was her own fault that the situation had come this far over the six years she had been entrusted to her shrine. She smiled to herself, taking a light sip of her tea as she remembered.
Yes, perhaps it was fate that mocked her.
Or perhaps it was her own fault.
Either way, she couldn't care less.
She was exactly where she wanted to be at that very moment.
"Marisa!" she called.
The shrine maiden in training gritted her teeth at the pest of a servant. She had been sweeping the porch when the mutant turtle flew out of the shrine, shouting her name at the top of his lungs. She thought of disposing of him, but honestly, he was at least five times her size, and she was only twelve years old.
It wouldn't have been a very long, or even productive fight for that matter.
"What is it Genji?" Instead she bites her tongue, and speaks through her already gritted teeth.
"I think you should come see this," said the wizened turtle, "You are not going to like it."
She took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Does mother really have more chores for me already?"
The turtle looked ashamed of himself, floating in midair like that. He let his gaze drift to the side when he continued, "I am afraid it is far worse than that my lady."
With another reluctant sigh, Reimu let the broom fall to the ground and walked into the shrine, not speaking another word to the turtle behind her. When she cast aside the sliding door, she was surprised to find that neither of her parents were there to scold her. The main room, the kitchen, their bedroom, she checked them all in a span of mere minutes, yet they were nowhere to be found. She turned to Genji, who had been closely following her, "What is this?"
"Follow me," he said gently.
For the first time since they had built the shrine, Reimu listened to what Genji had to say, and followed him without gripe or protest. He led her back down the hallway,
to her own bedroom at the other end of the shrine. She opened the door slowly, not sure what to make of this situation. As she entered the room she noticed, for the first time since she had come from the porch, that the sun was setting. It cast an almost surreal orange in her bedroom, making everything look... melancholic almost. It was at that moment she knew what Genji had been so reluctant about, and her fears were confirmed when she glanced at her mattress, on it laid a piece of paper, a note, and next to it was an orb.
The Yin Yang orb.
It was about the size of her head, perfect for constantly crushing her face, as it had in her training.
As its name entailed, it was made after the image of the Yin Yang symbol.
Peace and chaos, light and dark, balance and disruption.
It represented, not good versus evil, but rather the fact that there would always be balance between the two.
She had learned of the symbol of Yin Yang when she was still a small child, stumbling over her own feet, barely able to hold her gohei.
It was at that moment that her world fell apart.
The glow of the Yin Yang orb did nothing to comfort her.
She did not read the note, she didn't have to, to know what it said.
Her parents had returned to the human world, entrusting her to the shrine as its new miko.
Reimu fell to her knees, her blank gaze falling on the accursed orb in front of her.
She didn't even feel the tears slide down her face, nor did she notice when Genji took his place beside her, attempting to comfort her.
It was sudden and violent when it happened.
The Yin Yang orb began to glow ever brighter, and Reimu awoke from her grief to notice that it was floating. The note her parents had left went flying out the window.
A storm took place in the center of her very room, gale winds rushing to and fro, knocking her to the ground as she attempted to stand.
Just as suddenly as the storm had happened, it stopped, and the Yin Yang orb fell back to the ground, rolling towards her small cabinet in the corner of the room.
"Get down!" Shouted Genji.
Reimu immediately fell to the ground face down, covering her head with her arms as she did so, and not a moment too soon.
The west wall of her bedroom was blown apart in the blink of an eye, then the east, and the north. Peeking through the cover of her arms with frightened eyes, Reimu witnessed the shrine being torn apart from the inside. Her family's belongings were lost to the sky in an instant, charms and kitchen ware were eaten by the forest.
The miko in training screamed bloody murder, wishing it would just stop.
With a final and decisive blast Hakurei shrine was annihilated.
Reimu's mouth was dry, her throat aching and sore from screaming. She felt a horrible stinging pain in her side, and when she reached down to touch it her eyes were stung with tears of pain.
Genji's shouts of worry did not fall on deaf ears.
She was surrounded by the rubble of the shrine, the pain in her side growing ever sharper. Her leg was trapped under one of the fallen roof beams. Genji approached her carefully, nudging the beam from her legs. "Oh no," he muttered to himself.
Reimu had been injured.
The left side off her ribs was bleeding profusely.
For the first time in many years Genji panicked.
"Reimu, you're injured!"
She reached down to touch her laceration once more, then hissed and decided against such an action. She didn't know why all of this was happening to her. Was this to be her final test as a shrine maiden in training? She thought back to all those times when she would lazily skip over her training and go play with the animals in the forest.
She regretted nothing more at that moment.
Perhaps if she had trained harder, she would have been better prepared.
"I'm sorry Genji," she whispered, smiling softly at the old turtle and petting his head. "I should have concentrated on my training more."
"Oh isn't that sweet? A touching moment before your death."
Reimu's vision was blurry, and she could not tell who had spoken, but Genji could see the woman well enough.
Long, flowing blue hair, and four white wings on her back. She smiled down at the two warmly as she floated above the remains of the shrine, almost as if she had given herself credit for the touching moment she spoke of. The turtle immediately knew that this was the person responsible for Hakurei's destruction.
"Who are you?" It was a loaded question, and one that such a culprit was not required to answer, considering as she had the upper hand.
"My name is Sariel." Genji opened his mouth to speak and the woman held out her hand, "Yes, THAT Sariel. It just so happens that this little girl's ticket has been drawn,
it's time for her to go."
Genji glared, "What could the angel of death want with a girl such as Reimu? She had just barely become the shrine's caretaker, and now you would tear that from her grasp?!"
"Oh happily, it is my job after all," she said with a grin. "Ta ta now, don't forget to say your goodbyes!"
With a flash of light the angel had disappeared, leaving Genji in the middle of a destroyed shrine, floating over a little girl as she lay on her death bed. This was not the way he pictured his contract with the Hakurei family ending. There had to be some way he could save Reimu!
The turtle floated down to Reimu, who only smiled softly. Twelve years old... far too young to have her life cut short, even if the angel of death had declared it be so.
"What is it Reimu?"
"You all taught me, that even in Gensokyo, a place where the strange is cast out of society, there is a place for good men and women, people who would not stand by while something like this happened to them." She coughed lightly. "Unless I leave my physical body, I will die."
She lifted her finger shakily, pointing at the Yin Yang orb, buried under rubble a few yards away. "I need the Yin Yang orb," she said softly, "I need to go after her."
Genji took a deep breath, "I understand."
As he retrieved the Yin Yang orb and brought it to the dying girl, he couldn't help but remember her first steps at that moment, how proud both her parents were when she had simply walked to the other side of the room. At that time he had not understood why they had been so happy for the girl, or even why it was such an accomplishment in the first place. Walking was a simple human function, and nothing to be proud of.
As he gave her the Yin Yang orb, he felt that he finally understood why they were so proud of their little girl.
The orb began to let off a blinding light, and Genji was blown back by a concussive magical force. He regained his bearings and watched in awe what occured before him.
Reimu had departed from the physical plane of existence. Her body was left sleeping soundly, almost in a coma. Slightly transparent, the shrine maiden floated above herself,
holding the Yin Yang orb under her left arm, and her gohei in her right hand.
At that moment he understood why her parents had been so proud of her on that day, for he felt the very same.
Defiance seeped from her very presence.
And he was confident that she was ready for her final test as a shrine maiden in training.
"SHINGYOKU! Hear me, spirit who guards the gateway to the underworld!"
It was then that the Earth began to shake, and the glow from the Yin Yang orb began to subside.
The Reimu who floated above her own body was not dressed in the garbs of everyday life at the shrine. She was dressed in her own robes now, cut off at the shoulders, her sleeves were tied to her arms on their own. She descended back to the ground, driving her gohei into the dirt below her feet, "I seek audience!"
It was then that the sky seemed to split from itself.
Genji was left awestruck.
The gate guardian Shingyoku descended from the very heavens themselves.
The two beings, also one, known as Shingyoku.
A female and a male both, dressed in sacred robes, holding each others hands as they approached the remains of the Hakurei shrine.
Yes, in one single afternoon, one small moment, Reimu Hakurei's life had been turned upside down.