[Interlude – Location: Bhava-Agra]
The Celestials pulled themselves back as soon as the first explosion was heard from within the palace of the heavens.
Worried voices could be heard across the entire mob of angels as smoke rose and covered the rooftops of the palace, clashing against the pure-white texture of their work. Despite their mutual agreement on how unsanctified, unrefined and barbaric it was, their voicing of their displeasure varied from horrified screams to paralyzed prayers, all in unanimous sanctimonious rebuke. The earth shook violently as more explosions followed in the first one's wake, and then their eyes saw the roof being torn with violence by a golden flash of light, being followed immediately after by the witch in pink and the Eldest Daughter of the Hinanawi.
Their aerial clash was a spectacle the celestials did not expect to see. The tomboy daughter and heir of the Hinanawi engaged in a barbaric brawl at breakneck speed against the Witch of Cinders, swinging her Sword of Hisou with such force that every brandish of her arms crushed the air around it and painted the sky scarlet like a particularly violent painter using forceful crimson strokes over a blue backdrop. Their voices ringed in the ears of their spectators as unnatural curses of violence and conflict, making the celestials whimper, intimidated. They never saw that girl swing her weapon that way, strike at someone that way. They did not know how to react.
Then, from the building, again, the figure of the man who followed Tenshi into heaven zipped upwards thanks to a stupendously powerful jump, being followed by a trail of smoke as if it was assisting him in his propulsion. The man crashed against the pink shield of the Witch, who visibly grimaced and shouted something incomprehensible at them, releasing another explosion of fire and ash, making the man plummet into the ground next to the mob of angels who jumped back in horror, watching him crash against the stones on his two feet, claw the earth to avoid being tossed backwards even further and stand up with nothing more than simple scorch marks on his skin. He stood up, looked at the audience and ran back to the fight as if nothing had happened, the crashing of weapons in the sky being the rhythm of the battle song they were now playing against each other.
The Celestials pulled themselves back once again. They were in a trance, unable to flee or leave the place. Just as they were watching a set of fireworks, of a veritably conditioned festival.
[Interlude – Over]
You know, I figured I'd be used to having things explode on my face, but I don't know why I keep forgetting that these are made by Chase, of all people. There's something about the napalm that she makes that just sticks to your skin. I can't explain what the hell it is, but it's bad freaking news and I'm glad I was lucky enough I wasn't hit by that full-force yet.
Tenshi is doing all the grunt work now, I need to get in there and help. But they are fighting in the damn skies! I can't fly! What the hell do I do? If I jump, Chase might as well just get me off her back again, and I'm against taking random free hits if I can avoid it. And I will, for all hell, avoid all of it. This is hardly my last set of things to do on my schedule today, damn it!
I could try manipulating the Ley Lines to see if I can get a boost but… that's out of the question. I'm not going to use an experimental thing like this on a fight like this if I don't know how to use it properly. I'll stick to what I know and what I can do. The best of what I can do, really.
Shinki "Well, then… Let's get on with it!"
My feet never stop moving as I run through the rocks and grass of the massive keystone that is Bhava-Agra. Tenshi seems to be purposefully pushing Chase away from the palace, which is a really good idea. The further away we get Chase away from there, the harder it'll get for her to absorb this place's magic through its Ley Lines. Still, that won't be enough…!
Once again, I concentrate the strength on my legs and ready another skyward lunge. I just need to wait for the right moment to reach Chase, that's all I need! Easier said than done, however…
She's really swinging that sword arm of hers with all she's got. While it looks like we're on the offensive, Tenshi's only attacking non-stop to prevent Chase from doing long-winded magic. We're not on the offensive at all, we're on pressure control! We need to find a weakness and hit on that quickly, otherwise we…
Oh, shit! She lost momentum!
Chase "Gotcha! Flame Swathe!"
I never saw pink flames before, but now that I did, I'd rather never have seen them! I gotta lunge, right…
Chase "Oh? This again?"
Right as she was swinging her hand to cast the spell, I intercepted it by slamming against her barrier again…
Not enough, though! She might as well just keep casting it on me, instead!
Tenshi "Shinki! To the ground, hurry!"
It's not going to work! It's…
Screw this, I hate your damn barriers, Chase!
I'm not going back to the ground, I'm going to claw your barrier out with my nails, if need be! …This is going to hurt!
Chase "…Why, you! Bomber Flare!"
Brace for impact!
FFFUUUCKK! THIS HURT! …But I didn't leave! I'm still here!
I kick myself away from her, but this time… This time I got you! I yank her down with me with Soul Echo as my massive summoned blue hands grab onto her and crush her barrier to pieces – now she's exactly where we want her!
I land on the ground with a thud, holding her above my head with both hands like I'm trying to crush her beneath the magic arms I created. Mokou managed to escape this a couple times, but I was grabbing with only one hand… Try two of them for size, explosive as they are!
Chase "Gah! What in the actual—"
Tenshi "Gotcha, you pink skank!"
In a display of forethought, Tenshi came down on us with incredible momentum, swinging the sword of Hisou at the Soul Echoes and hitting Chase by default.
Thanks to their nature, my Echoes exploded in a blue array of pure magic power as soon as they received the hit. The witch didn't escape this attack unharmed as she got flung forward like a ragdoll by the shockwave of the explosion which rattled every bone in my body, crashing against the grass and rolling on it for a while before jumping up again. She's got scorch marks! She's wounded. Finally, we're getting somewhere!
Tenshi "Tch! She's resistant. Shinki, are you okay?"
Good question, I just ate pink flak up there.
…I don't feel badly injured. Magic resistance is one thing, explosions are another, despite their magical nature… Especially if magic only caused the explosion, and wasn't exactly the explosion itself.
But I feel fine. I guess I got lucky.
Shinki "My leg's got a small cramp, but that's all there is."
I can see she's relieved to know I'm not as badly damaged as I should have been. …Well, now. Gotta press on our momentum, right?
Except Chase is already up and smiling again. She looks like she's enjoying this.
Chase "Oh my~! And here I thought this was going to be boring."
And here I thought you would do us a favor and shut the hell up.
Tenshi "And here I thought you would do us a favor and shut the hell up…"
Tenshi "…Phhf. So, what's the plan?"
Shinki "Hm. You're saying it, just like that?"
Tenshi "You always have a plan. Even if the plan is lying, it's still a plan. You always think of something, so what is it this time?"
Oh my, all this praise from the princess herself!
Guess I better put my big boy pants and fulfill expectations, then. I appreciate the confidence you have on me.
Let's see. She's directly linked to Bhava-Agra's Ley Lines. Taking her away from the core of the link isn't going to break it, it's going to blur it just a little. So we have to punch the link in its stupid face and destroy it by force…
…Doing that is easier than it sounds. All we have to do is scramble the flow of mana, right? So it doesn't go towards Chase, but everywhere else at once. If we do that, problem halfway solved.
Next would be to kick her ass. Now that's a bit harder to do.
Chase "You can't possible expect me to just sit here and let you think of something, can you?"
Tenshi "What are you doing right now, then? Taking in the sights?"
Shinki "Heaven IS a lovely place, after all. Might as well get some souvenirs, a postcard perhaps?"
Chase "How about a boyfriend instead?"
You keep falling for that taunt, damn it! Use your head!
Now there she is, chucking rocks at Chase and missing all of her throws.
Chase "Got to work on your accuracy, silly filly! THIS is how you Earth Spike someone!"
Damn it! I blocked it, but by a single inch the thing didn't hit me straight in my face!
Ooow, that hit my arm real bad… She's not using magic to hit me, but using magic to having things hit me instead! She knows! She freaking knows!
Tenshi "Shinki! Hey, I'm your target! Target me, ME!"
That's not gonna work!
I immediately spin around, kick the ground and zip across the field, avoiding pillars of earth rising from the ground to the best of my ability…!
Gh! This isn't cool at all…!
I can hear the ground shift and aim at me as I run through the grassy fields of heaven, with Chase flying overhead laughing maniacally and avoiding Tenshi's projectiles at the same time.
The noises the ground makes allow me to dodge the attacks by ear alone, but that's not good enough. I need some extra footing… And I better use this to my advantage.
Covering my left foot in a thick layer of magic armor, I jump towards one of the earth spikes and use it as a launching pad, throwing myself towards Chase without devoting too much effort into keeping myself shielded from harm!
She's not too impressed though. She still avoids me by going straight into the ground by taking a nosedive… yeah, I figured that me trying to get too close wasn't going to work. So, I better overextend my reach again…!
Or better yet, use this massive rock that Tenshi threw, obviously aiming at a previously aerial Chase but missed?
I swing myself to the side and grab the rock with Soul Echo, once again… and I use the movement I initiated to catapult the rock down – now covered in the paste of my magic throw powers…!
Damn, I love this power! Hahahahah!
I actually hit her again! Not square center, but I still landed a hit! I guess I should be thankful she's probably just screwing around, because something tells me she wants to break me in half, right now.
Chase "Why, you cheeky… This hand of yours is getting really ANNOYING!"
So she says as a flock of fire bombs swarm around her as her eyes flare with the brightest pink I've seen so far.
Tenshi immediately charges forward as I slowly begin to make my descent towards that little inferno, but her swings and stones do nothing to stop Chase from avoiding her and letting some of the flames stay behind as landmines.
Instead of making chase towards the pink witch, Tenshi rocketed upwards and avoided the explosions, stretching her left arm to me and preventing me from falling into that little death trap. Chase's still close to the ground, whizzing through the grass like a very angry, party-colored bird.
Shinki "Having flashbacks of Reimu's mom yet?"
Tenshi "I was thinking the same thing!"
So she says as she uses a newly-summoned keystone as footing and uses it as a spinning plate, making use of the swing to throw me as hard as she could towards Chase yet again. I think I've been a missile myself a couple times in this fight already!
Now you're close to the ground, missie!
I crashed against a barrier but it collapsed as quickly as it should have, considering. I use the momentum of the crash to somersault a bit over her head and swing my right foot like an axe, though she blocked the hit with a swing of magic she produced from her arms. I'm on the offensive, for real this time!
I don't waste my opportunity and immediately assault Chase with a flurry of punches designed to shatter all and every barrier she creates. She's stepping backwards like mad, flailing her arms if only to prevent me to dig through her defenses, and she's being unsuccessful. I slowly get closer and closer to her as my feet dig under the ground with every step, cracking the earth beneath me and pushing dust aside with every one of my blows.
I'm getting somewhere, now! I need to keep the pressure up…
Chase "Ungh! That's enough, ENOUGH!"
FUCK! She pushed me away with a blast of mana, again! It wasn't a spell, she used the Ley Lines' connection to her as fuel for this! I got careless…!
I immediately cover myself in full armor. I am screwed beyond help, now…! All I can do is endure the punish!
Tenshi "NOO! SHINKI!"
The flames she spouted from her fists hit me with the potency of a tank shell! My feet aren't touching the ground anymore…
I'm fighting my instinct to curl into a ball as hard as I can… here she comes again!
Chase "ISN'T THIS FUN, YOU LITTLE MONKEY?"
UUUURRKH…! I got hit I guess… six times, now? I'm being bashed around like I'm in a pinball machine!
She's barely touching me herself, but her spells do the brunt of the work with no mercy. I can't tell in which direction I'm being pushed at, but the altitude I can guess doesn't make me happy at all!
Here she comes, covered once again in pink flames like they are the armor she wears…!
And as she torpedoes in my direction, I can see the fury in her eyes. I have to endure this, I HAVE to…! Damn it!
Brace for impact!
Chase "FLAME SWATHE!"
…I… I made through it…
I could have Zeroed… I should have… Except that I can't. I need to save my strength, for…
…Save my strength.
I need to…
Chase "…Urgh! You are SO resistant! I can't believe you made it through, what kind of devil are you?"
The kind of devil that… has an angel as a saving grace…
Thank you, Tenshi. That keystone you threw before the impact… probably kept my legs attached to the rest of my body.
I'm still up. My armor also saved my life. I'm feeling sharp pains all over, but…
This reminds me of…
Of when Havoc crushed me in Hakugyokurou…
Tenshi "[Swordplay – Sword of Swagger]!"
I can listen to the sounds of the Sword of Hisou crashing against Chase yet again, this time almost on top of where the witch dive-bombed with me directly on the ground.
Chase "You again? Why don't you get lost already?"
I don't even need to raise my face to see Tenshi's dress violently sweeping in harmony with the rest of her body as she hammers her sword towards Chase as hard as she can. This spellcard, I saw it before… it's the definition of ungraceful, yet it does the job super well. She's pushing the witch back…
Chase "I don't know what kind of problem you have in that head of yours! Can't you see you're wasting your time?"
…I shove my foot under Tenshi's dress, raise a loose boulder from the ground and kick it in the general direction of her swings. That should do it.
Her uncontrollable swings turned the boulder into pebbles, ripping them in Chase's direction like tiny earth bullets. I can tell I surprised them both, but Tenshi's not stupid. She knows exactly what I did, and so she immediately ended the card with its final hit – a singular, overpowering horizontal cut that hit Chase straight in her pretty blonde face, pushing her away and saving my ass once again.
That was too close for comfort…!
Shinki "Thank you. That makes it what, four times?"
Tenshi "Three. Are you okay? That hit was super nasty-looking!"
…I don't know yet, but…
Shinki "I'm fine. I finally had the idea for the Coup, by the way… There's just a single, pretty big problem about it."
I can't see your face from this angle, but I think you know what I mean… I think?
Tenshi "…And that is?"
I thought wrong.
Shinki "And therein lies it."
The witch herself. I think she's finally done with our shit.
Chase "Hah! …Well, what the hell is this? Hahah! I am really angry! …Oh boy, I am really angry right now. What the hell was that? A rock? Are you serious? Is that really how you're going to fight me, throwing rocks and dust at me and expecting me to fold?"
Shit. I think that's what we can expect if we poke the bear for too long…
Tenshi "Tsc. That plan of yours, can you execute it?"
Shinki "Not me, not at all. It's kind of all on you."
You twitched. I guess you realized how tough this is going to be.
I raise myself off the ground to a kneeling position. Not as hard as I thought was going to be, though! I guess the pain was more from the shock…
…Urgh. Nope! That was my joints! Holy shit, those were all of my joints.
Chase "…Well, if you really think that rocks and dust are enough to push me back, maybe I'm not being clear enough with you idiots."
…! This feeling…
Tenshi "Hm? What is she doing…?"
Shinki "TENSHI! How many spellcards can you use in a row?"
Tenshi "W-What? I don't—"
No! What the hell she's doing? This is insane!
Chase "MAYBE I'M NOT BEING CLEAR ENOUGH WITH YOU! SO WHY DON'T I FIX THIS, RIGHT NOW?"
What the hell is this dampness in the air? Is this concentrated mana?
How the hell are you doing this? I don't care if you're using the Ley Lines of Bhava-Agra to do this, anyone that channels this much power through their bodies to cast spells shouldn't even be capable of rational thought!
…Everything is losing its color, even! It's like she's sucking it all in…!
Shinki "Listen, Tenshi! This is all I got! Do you hear me? We need to go all out right now, or we're fucked! Gensokyo can't handle another giant scar crossing its entirety!"
I can tell you're listening to me now.
I can feel the air shift and twist like it's some kind of awful joke with a missing punchline. All of the mana around us… It's concentrating on Chase like a pressurized singularity; she's not joking right now. She's going all out!
Chase "ARE YOU TAKING ME SERIOUSLY, NOW? DO YOU WANT ME TO DESTROY THIS STUPID PEBBLE YOU CALL HEAVEN TO MAKE MY DAMN POINT?"
We need to attack first! We have to!
Shit! We don't have a choice, I have to zero, right now!
Tenshi "Shinki, don't!"
Shinki "WHAT? Are you crazy? I…"
Tenshi "Trust me! I can do this!"
I DON"T LIKE THIS AT ALL!
…! Kh! Think! I need to think! I…
God damn it… I don't know what to do!
Use your head and think. That's your greatest strength.
Tenshi "Shinki, are you there?"
Shinki "…Yeah. Sorry about that! I got a little carried away."
All this magic before us… I can't distinguish between any colors now. The ground's rumbling, the magic in the air is so dense that a common human being with no training could probably light a fire by causing friction on his thumb with the index finger and saying Shazam.
I don't know what Chase's going to do. Obviously a spell of some kind. Tenshi wants to stop it herself…
I stand up. There is nothing more I can do. Tenshi cannot stop this herself, I cannot stop it myself, not without Zeroing. And even if I do that, nothing's stopping Chase from doing this spell again when I'm done.
So, we need to fight fire with fire. Magic with magic.
My hands land on Tenshi's shoulders. It's been a while since I did this, but…
Tenshi "W-What are you-!"
I jam my own magic inside her as hard as I can.
Just like I did with Youmu on the gardens of the Netherworld, my power flows from my hands and find shelter in Tenshi's own powers. If I don't have enough to keep doing that, I'll steal from Bhava-Agra's Ley Lines! If I can't do it normally, I'll use Leywalking and do it all over again! This power WILL flow through me, and into HER.
I can't stop Chase. But Tenshi can. If I'm not the DPS, I'm the one with the buffs!
So I'll buff the shit out of you! Because this is our best chance! The best chance we fucking have!
Tenshi "You…! Gh! Shinki, this is…!"
Shinki "Go for it. You and I – let's give her hell on heaven."
I can see the determination in your face. Let's do this, Tenshi!
Chase "HAHAHAH! YOU WANT TO BUTT HEADS WITH ME? FINE! BRING IT ON, YOU SOW! LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT REAL POWER IS LIKE!"
Tenshi "There is nothing else I would rather do!"
I clench my teeth as hard as I can. This is it. It needs to work, it HAS to work!
Tenshi "[Earth Sign – Sword of Unletting Soil]!"
[Interlude – Location: The Floating Castle]
Kaguya "This was the third one! Well done, Mokou!"
Mokou "…How about you actually let me destroy one before you congratulate me on something? Are you making fun of me?"
Kaguya "Making fun of you, why would I ever do such a thing? You rescued me! That would have been most unkind of me to do so, don't you think?"
The white-haired eternal phoenix grumbled under her breath as she slapped some of the ashes created by the destruction of another one of the focus stones located inside the castle created by Morrigan and Bijou.
Truly, she was impressed by how happy and excited Kaguya was. Being released from capture would put anyone is a good mood, truly, but she was gleeful about paying them back for all the problems she was put through. Considering their position inside the castle, Mokou accepted the idea in stride.
And true enough, Kaguya knew a great deal about this place. She explained in detail how the castle shifted and twisted itself on purpose in order to confuse and trap invaders. This place was carefully constructed using the reactor in the Hell of Blazing Fires and the Chireiden, something she herself wondered aloud many times if the residents of the Deep Roads would mind rebuilding it all eventually.
Kaguya "I sure hope so. It would be relatively heart breaking if they thought this place could go back to where it came from. I can't even recognize it as being from Hell anymore."
Mokou "You've been down there too long…"
Since the reactor was broken to smithereens thanks to a massive earthquake, the Chimaera had to be exceedingly creative when making a different power supply for their fortress. Something this grand and complex had to have multiple power sources feeding a main battery, and she conveniently called those "Focus Stones".
Kaguya "She's not the best at naming things; not at all. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said I was not impressed by her ability to create things. Don't you think so, Mokou?"
Mokou "Who cares? We're here to break this castle down, not admire its architecture."
Kaguya "Why, that is an exceedingly rude thing to say. Someone put hours of effort into making this place! Can't you at least appreciate that?"
Mokou "Someone took hours of effort into making a grilled sandwich I ate in three seconds. I fail to see your point."
Kaguya "Wasn't it a delicious sandwich, however? There is value on that what there was effort!"
Mokou "I doubt any kind of good effort was put into taking hours in making a single damn sandwich."
Kaguya "This castle isn't edible, Mokou! I think you're confused."
Mokou "And I think you're annoying me! Keep your eyes on the target, Kaguya!"
Kaguya "I am, though! See that passage? It's going to shift in two seconds!"
True to form, so it did. The massive, chestnut-colored pillars of the castle shifted and twisted like an interchangeable jigsaw, rattling the ground in a metallic buzz that sounded like a gigantic monsters' growl, which probably echoed to everyone fighting outside. The phoenix's eyes widened in response, with the raven-haired bamboo-cutter princess running on her tiptoes towards a slowly gaping entrance that would inevitably close in just a couple moments.
Kaguya "What are you waiting for? This way, this way!"
Mokou "How the hell you know where to go? You were a prisoner in this place!"
Kaguya "A lady has her ways~!"
Mokou, once again, grumbled under her breath thanks to the sidelined response. Not wasting any time, she kicked the ground and jumped down the hole by the princess' side, landing on yet another exceedingly large circular room with a massive glowing light in the center. True enough, that was yet another one of those weird stones.
Mokou "How the hell do you even do that…?"
Kaguya "I think you should keep your eyes on the target right now, Mokou! You know what there is in this room!"
Mokou "Yeah yeah… No rest for the wicked, I suppose."
And with those lines, the stone rocked in place as it was suddenly raised by a mound on the ground that soon took the shape of a monster. Similar to the golems of the Kappa, the stone that now was a golem the size of an elephant shifted clumsily for a while before lunging straight at Mokou, who immediately proceeded to pelt the monster from a distance, flying above it, trying to stay away from its massive range. Kaguya, on the other hand, didn't even flinch, completely ignored by the monster due to its instant attraction to the bright, crimson flames.
Kaguya "Hours of effort, Mokou! Do you see what I mean?"
Mokou "Yeah, very funny! You are hilarious, Houraisan Kaguya!"
Laughing under her sleeve, the moon princess pulled the jeweled branch of Hourai from within - courtesy and retrieval from Mokou herself upon her release – and waved it like a magic wand toward the golem, immediately calling attention to herself and declaring a spell card of her own:
Kaguya "[Divine Treasure – Hourai Jewel, Dreamlike Paradise]!"
Mokou "Are you really going to play along with an old attack like this, Kaguya?"
Kaguya "If I'm going to fight, at least I'll make it a beautiful fight! Stay up there, Mokou! We'll bring this one down together!"
And with this cry, the immortal phoenix charged down on the golem while covered in flames, preparing herself for a superheated dive overhead.
Mokou "Way ahead of you, princess!"
[Interlude – Over]
[Interlude – Location: Battlefield]
The only sounds that echoed in the air was that of yells.
Alice could hardly process her thoughts, so she didn't attempt to. She couldn't move too much because of the clutter of actions around her, so she didn't bother. Listening to anything in specific was too hard of a task, so she stopped listening altogether.
All she could do was fight. Take one step, take a swing. Wiggle her hands enough, shake her wrist, twist her knuckle, have the dolls swing, thrust and launch spells, step forward once again. Dodge, weave, weave and block.
It was all a synchronized dance of iron, wax and carbon. Her eyes were focused so intently on every single one of her actions that they had lost all shine and brightness. There was no space for that in this field.
With one pull from her hands, her dolls would respond like an angry wave of steelbound wax. With a push, the wave would proceed on their dance. With a swing from her hips, she would position herself enough so that the dance could continue, and the Tengu would sweep in from above, raining bombs of wind on the Skeletons, dwindling their numbers enough so that Alice and the humans wouldn't be overwhelmed.
And it worked for a while.
For quite some time now, however, Dukes of the Dead started coming out of the giant hole in Muenzuka. While not numerous in the slightest, each one of them caused enough problems to the warriors at the battlefield for them to be a massive hurdle.
It started to become problematic. Each Duke managed to punch through a small barrage of dolls very easily, and Alice felt the strings loosen on her fingers as a result. She eventually found no other solution but to pull back and rebuild her Batallion, but doing so would leave the humans exposed. Hardy as the humans might be, a Duke of the Dead was no simple matter, and even the Tengu's bombardment posed no actual threat to their charge. Staggering them was one thing, slaying them was something else entirely.
She clenched her teeth. They were going to lose if this continued. She needed to step up her game; everyone else was doing that already. If she didn't bring something new to the table, things would go from bad to worse, and losing was the least of the things Alice wanted to.
She needed to help and hold this line, after all.
With a quick swipe at the book in front of her, Alice chanted spells at a speed she wasn't even sure would register as valid when casting her spells. Regardless, she couldn't hold back on anything right now. Lives were at stake, and she wouldn't let her own fault be the cause of their loss!
Alice "[Testing – Goliath Doll]!"
With a singular, massive charge, the giant doll materialized from the grimoire with a raging gust of wind, ripping through enemy lines like a titan. The humans cheered in harmony as the massive doll kept its stride as far as it could before colliding against the inevitable Duke of the Dead, allowing Alice to stall it with a creature that matched its size. Still, it was just one doll against at least thirty of those creatures, it wasn't enough!
She felt her feet sink into the dirt as she gritted her teeth in anger. Of course that wasn't going to do anything! What was she thinking? All she could do was hold one of the enemies in place, that wouldn't do! She needed more! More of the Goliath…
But she couldn't muster it, she only had the one. Even the magicite on her ear wouldn't allow her to create an exact copy of the doll she had now put forth. It was enough to stabilize it, having its volatile nature not come into play at a critical moment, but it was still only a test spell card! A singular attempt! She held herself back on purpose, again!
She felt her hair stick to the back of her neck as sweat rolled down her skin. As enemies pushed and attacked, as their formation was pushed back. They were delaying the inevitable, and morale began to dwindle. Some humans pulled back, others tried to take on the lead only to be pushed back by the wave of undead. The Tengu's assault was the most effective thing besides Alice in terms of keeping back the swarm of undead, otherwise they were all focusing on the undead titans in order to make them stay at a distance from the puppet master. They were, sadly, not being able to. As powerful as they were, what do you do when the enemy can shrug off your attacks as if it was nothing? What do you do when the most powerful force on the field can't punch through the enemies' shield?
Alice felt herself cringe at those thoughts. They couldn't lose! Not like this… They couldn't lose ground anymore! Not a single quarter of ground! They needed to persevere! They HAD to!
And then the ground shook.
Alice didn't know what caused the shock, neither the noise. The noise came from above, and it made the ground shake. What was that? Everyone in the battlefield noticed it, and everyone asked aloud what the shock was. The Seven-Colored Puppeteer gave it a quick thought, and knew exactly what it was.
She looked back. Bhava-Agra, the heaven above Gensokyo, was going back to the clouds. Every single piece of cloud around it was pushed back by a tremendous force, and the people in the ground felt it. Heaven stopped descending. Instead, it started to come back the way it came.
She immediately felt her spirits reinvigorate. Like she had taken in doses of concentrated energy shots directly into her veins, she felt the rush of adrenaline and hope fill her again. Shinki and Tenshi succeeded! They won their battle! Heaven was going back to its original position again!
As if her fatigue didn't even exist in the first place, Alice turned her attention back to the battle. As hopeless as it was, she felt herself incapable of doubting herself anymore. Her grimoires were open – they were being used. What's stopping her from using them again? And again?
She didn't even give it a second thought. She shoved her left hand on the book and ordered, without any trace of doubt in her voice:
Alice "[Army Sign – Second Batallion]!"
And with that, another ridiculously large swarm of dolls pierced the air and rained blows down on the undead army, with the puppet master behind them holding two books as if they were shields, her eyes flaring so brightly that one could see them across the fields of battle.
Another warcy. The humans started to push back as well, the Tengu found themselves trying even harder. This battle was not over, not if they had anything to say about it!
[Interlude – Over]
Unstoppable Force, meet Immovable Object…!
My plan worked! It actually worked! Tenshi's spellcard really, actually did what I planned it to do all along! Chase doesn't have a connection to Bhava-Agra's Ley Lines anymore!
By shoving all the power I was dumping into her through a single spellcard on the ground like that, we basically created an earthquake on the Lines themselves. All that mana crashing against each other – Chase and Ours – it's everywhere now. It's not going towards her anymore. We basically transferred the coursing water from River A to River B; in the blink of an eye.
Or should I say, in the clash of Earth and Fire. That was horrifying…!
Tenshi's breathing heavily right in front of me, but she's going to be fine. Chase… She also is. I'm not full of breath, either… I can hardly even feel my arms.
But it's done. DONE. We severed the connection. Heaven should be fine, now! …All that's missing is…
Chase "…You did it again."
The witch herself.
If not for the absolutely shocking pink of her dress and the blonde hair, I wouldn't be able to see her through the dust and sand in the air. All the rocks around us shielded ourselves from Ragnarok really well, but it hardly had the time to be unleashed full force, did it?
Chase "You made me lose a lot of magic again. This makes it three times you've won. This is infuriating."
Shinki "I didn't win shit. Give my partner the credit she deserves."
Chase "Sure, whatever. Blue hair is all the rage these days, no one wants blondes anymore."
…The hell you saying?
Chase "The air here in this rock sure is thin. I'm… out of breath…! Hah! …I hate the color of this grass. I wish I could walk on snow again, despite… I don't like cold too much…"
…Eh? She's all over the place, right now.
Tenshi "What's… Cough! What's wrong with her? She's not right in the head."
Chase "Reminds me of my sister… She died, though. Everyone that caused it died. I was too powerful. You know how boring it is when you become too powerful? Winning all the time feels pretty good, though."
Shinki "Though you lost? What does that even mean, I wonder?"
Chase "Means you're an anomaly, I guess? I hate this… I don't understand what's going on. I should win, but I didn't? Aren't I too powerful? If I am, then why didn't I win?"
Tenshi and I trade looks. She's going down the deep end, I think we should…
Chase "Maybe I didn't try hard enough."
She's… she's drawing magic again.
Shinki "Chase! That the hell are you doing?"
Chase "I'm trying harder. …I don't like fruit, but vegetables are nice. I didn't eat meat in a while… Didn't drink anything either."
It's just a little, but that's still unbelievable! I can't believe this woman, what the hell IS she?
Tenshi "Ah! W-What is this? What's going on?"
I don't know. The Ley Lines are still normal, but…
…! OH, NO!
Shinki "CHASE! STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING! QUIT IT!"
Chase "I am the most powerful witch ever."
Tsc! She's not listening to me at all…!
Tenshi "What's happening? What is this wind? I thought we had won!"
Shinki "…Okay. Calm down! …I wasn't expecting her to be able to use more magic, exhausted as she is… But it's fine! This isn't her! It's Bhava-Agra."
I can tell you're curious. You're—
Tenshi "WHAT IS THIS?"
Don't panic! …I better explain to her what's going on!
Shinki "Listen! Ley Lines, despite being rivers that flow somewhere, are also a lake. An ocean, right? It's everywhere, just like air, It flows somewhere, like the wind! So, in order for it to stay everywhere, it can't –not- exist! So, for example, while Zero removes the magic from an area around me, as soon as it goes away, magic immediately fills the area again! Does that make sense?"
Tenshi "NOW'S NOT THE TIME FOR A LECTURE! YOU ARE TOO CALM ABOUT THIS!"
It's a tornado! I'm sure you experienced those before!
Shinki "DID IT MAKE SENSE, TENSHI?"
Tenshi "…Yeah, I guess? What's the point of that, now?"
Shinki "This is what results of it happening at a really large scale! Just like when you throw rocks at a lake, magic quickly ripples itself in, back to normality! But if you force magic to come back to the center even faster, what do you think is going to happen, genius?"
I can see you realized what this is!
Tenshi "So this is magic simply coming back?"
Shinki "It's gonna be a real storm up here in heaven if I don't stop it soon!"
Tenshi "You can stop it? Without putting yourself in danger?"
…I think so.
Shinki "It'll throw me somewhere, though! I can only hope it won't be back to the ground."
Tenshi "I'll catch you!"
That was quick!
Shinki "Are you sure? Because…"
Tenshi "I'm sure! …I'll catch you. You can stop it, right? Then do it! I trust in you to do it, trust in me to rescue you when you get flown away!"
I guess there's no point in delaying it any further, then.
Very well. I give her a quick nod and let myself go from her grasp.
Whoa! I got sucked in super fast!
Well! Nothing for me to do now but to calm the vortex down. This is the second time I've seen this happen… first time ever was when I was really young. Can't even bother thinking about it now.
The homunculus gotta do what he's gotta do.
GRKH! The hardest part is probably keeping my head on my shoulders as I am thrown off the epicenter of this thing!
I'll feel this on my neck for a really long time! I really will!
It's really hard to tell how far from Bhava-Agra I've been thrown when I'm spinning this quickly...! I can tell it's pretty far, though!
Chase "…What? What happened?"
We were catapulted far away from Bhava-Agra. I made sure to grab you before we were thrown; I am not letting you go away after all you have done.
I can see lucidity in your eyes. Did you come back to your senses?
Chase "Kh! Stop resisting me, you damn monkey! Why do you keep making me look like a fool?"
Shinki "Is this really what you think I'm doing? For fighting back the obvious idiot setting fires everywhere? I'm not making you look like a fool, I'm helping my friends stop you!"
Chase "Great job you did! Look at this world! Look at what I did to it! Aren't you amazed? I am so powerful I scare myself sometimes, hahahah!"
You are a wretched creature, Chase.
Chase " Whatever. You have something of mine, loverboy, and I want it back."
I'm not doing it.
Chase "GIVE IT BACK!"
I summon Soul Echo one more time and I spin around the air as I do it.
I grab Chase with it, and throw her down to the ground, way below us, as hard as I possibly can in my state…!
Chase "GIVE IT BAAAAACK~!"
I don't want to hear your voice again.
If I'm lucky, I won't have to.
Oh! And here's my knight!
I stretch my arm towards her and grab her hand as she flies by on a keystone. No drama, no hardship, nothing. Just like that.
We're done here. Mission accomplished.
Tenshi "You… You threw her? Are you sure of what you did?"
Shinki "I don't know. Chase is a mess of a person, we can't allow someone like that to just roam around Gensokyo, no matter how. I did what I had to do."
Tenshi "...You make a lot of scary and tough decisions sometimes, you know? Ever think about sharing those with others?"
Of course I have. That's why I'm holding your hand right now.
And even though I might not be sure if I made the right decision or not, I have to make one regardless.
A bad decision is better than no decision… Or so the saying goes?
Sometimes I can't help but think that the saying is really annoying the hell out of me, though.
[Interlude – Location: Ragnarok Scar]
As the pink witch fell on the scar with a loud, magically-enhanced thud, her entire body ached with frustration and defeat.
She cursed aloud and sat clumsily on the ashes of her own making. Gritting her own teeth, she found her mind blank with all the thoughts that coursed through it with the speed of an out-of-control bull. She wasn't sure if she was thinking too much, or not at all.
She wasn't sure on how long she stayed there. But as she eventually looked up, she felt the scent of flowers. All around her. Right next to her.
The plaid dress that her eyes fell over danced at the wind, and as she rose her face to meet the dress' owner, she found a smile upon her.
A sigh. Suddenly, a laugh. Chase laughed. She couldn't stand. Couldn't even do anything else. And as she laughed, so did the youkai before her.
The laughter echoed through the fields of flowers, accompanied by the sounds of fireworks exploding in the skies.
[Interlude – Over]