This story's time-line links with that of Dear Friend from Sukima's end, and will also coincide with the next Sukima's (Icicle Sukima) timeline.
It's a quiet, and beautiful morning at the Hakurei Shrine, which sits on the eastern side of Gensokyo, on top of a tall mountain, where it's shrine maiden, Reimu Hakurei, protector and incident resolver of Gensokyo, watches over the border that separates the physical outside world, from the wondrous paradise of Gensokyo, where magic, faith and physical coexist in harmony; ...to a certain point.
The world of Gensokyo, though quite a seemingly peaceful paradise, it's full of many youkai that cause many incidents, making this world quite chaotic, which is quite fun for most of its residents.
The Hakurei Shrine; on its entrance towers a worn out, yet magnificent red gate, and to its left lies an extension for the Moriya Shrine, and behind it; or in front, if you want to get picky; rests an ever-lonely donation box, which has been getting more attention lately, surprisingly enough.
Inside of it, a few coins lie scattered, glistening with the bit of light that shines through the barred opening on top of the box.
To the left of the first shrine building, the main shrine, rests a beautiful hot spring, which erupted the day one stupid, crazy hell raven lost control of her powers and tried to turn the world into hell.
Father behind are the living quarters, where Reimu and Rika Onkamikami, the shrine's maid, eat, bathe, sleep, and share with the many uninvited guests, which are mostly youkai.
Quite counter-productive, seeing as they scare human worshipers away, even with Reimu and Rika keeping said 'guests' in check.
Surrounding the surprisingly large shrine are many trees, which are mostly currently pink, and flowers that are in full bloom thanks to the wondrous spring season, and a large lake behind the storage house of the shrine, where a large flying turtle called Genjii lives.
Also know that where there are trees, there are also bushes, where the naughty tend to hide in order to play pranks on others.
Right behind the shrine's living quarters, there is a large courtyard, where Rika, and on the extremely rare occasion, Reimu, train hard to improve their skills.
Plainly visible in the back of this courtyard is the shrine's storage house, and to the left of said storage house, nestled between some flowers and bushes, is a greenhouse, which is filled with flowers, vegetables, and medicinal herbs grown by Rika herself.
Resting on top of said greenhouse is a large red bird with white glowing eyes, a mid-sized pointy beak, wings with feathers even redder than the rest of her body, a small and messy red tail, and upon stretching, she reveals hints of white waves under her wings.
Her name is Suzaku, the Vermillion bird, and she is Rika's familiar, which has also become quick friends with the shrine's maid.
And so begins this peaceful morning in the Hakurei shrine.
The door to the greenhouse opens up, and Suzaku immediately takes a dive, and through her mind, she excitedly calls "master, good morning!"
She lands on the left shoulder of Rika Onkamikami, who gets a bit startled, but smiles after placing her light-blue eyes on the vermillion bird, then says "Suzaku, good morning. My, you seem to be in a good mood today."
Rika wears her kimono-style shrine maiden outfit, with her white, long-sleeved shirt, long red skirt with white waves on the bottom border of the skirt, which seems to trail back up to her waist where they disappear, wraps a large red ribbon around her waist, which enhances her womanly figure, and ties it as two bows over the front, a pair of black slippers, her sapphire yin-yang necklace around her neck, and her fiery-red scarf around her neck, which has the word 'The Will of Fire' written in kanji, separated by each end of said scarf.
Her long brown wavy hair, which reaches her lower back, rests against her small angelic wings, which she constantly flaps involuntarily, causing massive nosebleeds amongst her friends, though this fact remains a wonder to her, and although she is shorter than Reimu, she has a more defined body and ample chest; something Reimu herself dreads, but manages to ignore most of the time.
Rika scratches the top of Suzaku's head, making the bird tweet long and contently, then says "I need to train a bit, so please give me some room."
Suzaku suddenly opens her wings and stretches her neck up to the sky, lets out a beautiful, yet disappointingly short song, then flies down to the ground in front of Rika and excitedly says "master, let's have a small sparring match!"
Rika stares at Suzaku with surprise and remains silent, then places her hands on her waist, bends down, then asks "and how do you suggest we do that?"
Suzaku flaps her wings once, then replies "grant me some of your energy and allow me to transform."
Rika stares at the red bird with a neutral face, then says "that is not for playing around, you know that."
Suzaku stares back at Rika, then says "but we need to practice with it so we can have better control over it, right?"
Rika sighs, straightens back up, and while raising her eyes to the sky, she smiles and says "fine. You're right. We do need to practice."
After saying that, Rika lifts her arms to chest-height, points her relaxed open hands at Suzaku, closes her eyes, then focuses her energy.
After a second, Suzaku starts glowing, her body grows until it's the same height as Rika's, then takes a humanoid shape.
The glowing stops as suddenly as it started, and now, a girl with short red hair with a white stripe on the front, white, almost lavender eyes, wearing a simple short-sleeved red dress with white trims, and a pair of black slippers, now stands in the bird's place.
Rika smiles, then says "you're really cute, you know that?"
Suzaku blushes, then smiles and says "let's hurry. You know this won't last long."
Rika smiles back at the girl, pulls her small box-like Saboten Stock from her right pocket, pushes a small button on it, its top opens up, then two wooden swords the size of a pinkie fly right out of it and land on Rika's hand, growing to normal size when free from the beam.
Rika smiles as she hands one sword over to Suzaku, and the second she touches the sword's hilt, wooden clacks start echoing through the air.
While Rika and the humanoid Suzaku are busy with their training, they remain unaware of a few pair of eyes that glare at them, specifically toward Rika, from behind a thick concentration of foliage to the right of the courtyard.
The glaring eyes belong to Yumeko, Shinki's maid over at Pandemonium in Makai, Sara, the gate guard for Makai's entrance, Luize, the one in charge of the ever-popular Makai air tour, and a blonde incubus.
Yumeko wears her long red maid's dress with white apron over it, and a maid's headdress over her long blonde hair, which matches her yellow eyes.
Sara wears her dark-red dress with white scarf around her neck, short white sleeves over her shoulders, and flicks her pink hair with her fingers, while keeping her matching pink eyes on Rika.
Luize wears her usual white hat with purple ribbon over her blonde hair she ties into a bun, and stares at Yumeko with her narrow yellow eyes.
She wears a white dress tied around her waist by a purple belt, and has a purple sailor's scarf over her shoulders.
The incubus has a pair of yellow bat wings on his head, matching his long blonde hair, wears a tight red muscle shirt with an open back for his raven-black bat wings, a pair of blue jeans with a black belt, and a pair of black boots for good measure.
He points at Rika, and with a rough voice, he asks "that is HER? The pathetic meat-sack mother is so infatuated with? Screw this, I'm going over there and tainting the bitch!"
Before he can take a single step toward Rika, Yumeko grabs the man and pulls him down to sit on the ground, then angrily whispers "do NOT underestimate her, Hiro! She went one-on-one against that demon human and came back with just a few scratches! You waltz in there with those lustful intents, and you're as good as dead!"
Luize and Sara start hopping up and down, then Sara excitedly whispers "I can't believe this! Mom's here already!"
Luize growls inward, then says "look at the way she's staring at the human. Like she's proud of her, or something."
The incubus shrugs while asking "what the hell does she see in that girl?"
Yumeko snarls while looking at the small opening between the leaves of the bushes they are hiding behind, then says "I don't know, but it's really pissing me off. We don't need an outsider taking mom away from us."
The four jealous little children are completely unaware of the short blonde haired, green-eyed girl with one epic fashion sense smiling at them while waving her arms in front of herself toward them, and while on plain sight of them even.
Parsee Mizuhashi, the jealousy youkai that SHOULD be guarding the bridge between the subterranean and top-side worlds, wears a black shirt under a brown vest with purple borders that have a white string motif, a pair of white arm warmers, a pink sash for a belt, a blue and black skirt with red strings crisscrossed at the bottom, a pink scarf around her neck, pink socks, and a pair of black shoes.
As she smiles and collects and returns jealousy energies, she says to herself "oh, this is just delicious. So much jealousy! Oh, where have you been all my life?"
The four Makaians are too distracted by Shinki's presence; their beautiful goddess and mother smiles as she looks at the shrine maid with such light in her light-blue eyes.
Shinki stands next to the shrine's storage house, wearing her red robe over a pink shirt, and as she watches Rika with a motherly smile on her face, the wind blows on her slivery-blue hair, making it flutter in harmony with the gentle morning breeze, making even her side-ponytail sway in harmony.
Hiro sighs, then says "look, let's go home. We'll prepare something for mom... something that will make her forget about that girl! That way, we won't have to worry about her, ever again."
Luize smiles, then exclaims "good idea! But what?"
Yumeko turns to her brethren and says "we'll figure something out. Come on! Let's tell the others."
They all nod in unison, then Sara, Luize and Hiro, the incubus, run straight back to the portal back to Makai.
Yumeko throws one more hateful glance at Rika, then follows after her brothers, all while Parsee frowns as she places her hands on her hips, and sounding ever disappointed, she says to herself "maaaan, and it was just starting to get good!"
Over at the courtyard's very center, Rika and Suzaku push their wooden swords against each other, keeping their eyes set on each other, then Rika slowly relaxes.
Feeling her master relaxing, Suzaku relaxes as well, drops the wooden sword on the ground, then starts glowing again.
As her body shrines, she telepathically says "we held out longer than yesterday, Rika-sama."
The glowing stops, and Suzaku recovers her true, bird form, so Rika bends down to pick up the exhausted vermillion bird while saying "I am quite amazed. You matched me so easily, and just after two training sessions."
Straightening up with Suzaku on her right shoulder, Rika swipes the swear off her forehead with the back of her left hand, then turns around over the sound of someone clapping softly.
Rika's eyes widen at the sight of Shinki, smiling at her as she walks over, saying "my, that was impressive, Rika. I'm so glad to see you're back in shape so quickly."
Shocked and surprised, Rika can only stare as she softly says "miss Shinki?"
Moments later, Rika has Shinki sitting next to a short table on a blue cushion inside the shrine's living quarters, or main 'house', so to speak.
While waiting for Rika to finish preparing breakfast, Shinki looks at her surroundings of the familiar shrine to pass the time.
Behind her, the doorway they used to enter remains with one of its many sliding doors open, letting in a cool breeze.
To her right, the wooden wall is adorned by a single open scroll written in a strange language, to the right of said scroll rests a wooden cabinet with seven drawers, and to the left of the scroll is a single sliding door, meant to be the main entrance.
The knobs on that cabinet are the same color of the cabinet and drawers, so it's kind of bland and easy to miss.
In front of her is the corridor leading to the individual rooms, and it seems it's lacking much light, as even though it's daytime, inside the corridor one could confuse the current time and think it's still dawn.
Above the doorway to the corridors hangs a well-polished wooden perch, where Suzaku is currently perching on, preening herself with a most content look on her face.
To her left, far away from the surprisingly large living room, is the kitchen.
It's quite ample, and has small cabinets under the two long brown counters, as well as having two more cabinets hanging on the wall beside the stove.
Further in are more sliding doors that lead straight to the courtyard on the back, but these doors remain closed for the moment.
She watches Rika with motherly eyes, as the maid places the prepared food on a tray that sits on the counter to her immediate right, and giggles when she notices how meticulous Rika is as she places each chopstick facing toward the rice bowls, making sure they are set perfectly.
Once she is satisfied with her work, Rika reaches for the mugs of tea, sets them to the right of each chopstick, firmly grabs the tray with both hands, and as soon as she lifts it up, she smiles at Shinki and says "thank you for your patience."
Shinki smiles back at Rika, and in a sweet tone of voice, she asks "Rika, sweetie, why did you go through all that trouble? I just came over to visit."
Rika walks over to the table and sets the tray in front of the goddess, and as she begins serving the plates, bowl and mugs full of reddish-colored tea, she smiles and says "well, it's breakfast time, and it would be rude to our guests if we get to eat, and she only gets to watch."
Shinki stares curiously at Rika, then asks "but isn't Reimu sleeping?"
From the room corridor's doorway, Reimu has her black bed-head hair standing unevenly all over her head, her left eye is narrowed, and she wears an oversized pink pajama that covers down to her ankles.
She yawns and stretches her right arm in the air while scratching her hip with her left hand, then sleepily says "good morning Rika. I see we have a guest. What bring you here, miss goddess?"
Shinki stares at Reimu with surprise, but quickly smiles, waves her right hand in the air, then says "good morning miss Reimu~!"
Right after Shinki finishes, Rika says "good morning, miss Reimu. Breakfast is served, so please come and enjoy."
Still groggy, Reimu stares back at the girls with distant eyes and a wriggled lip, lightly swaying left and right while rubbing her right eye with her right palm.
After breakfast, Shinki sits over the porch with her half-filled mug of tea on her hands, allowing her legs to hang down to the ground.
Reimu, who has finally woken up, wears her regular outfit with the white detached sleeves of hers, red vest over white sleeveless shirt, yellow ascot, that red skirt that reaches to her knees, pink socks, and her hair is now combed and adorned up by a large red bow with white waves around the borders, and has those strange red tube-things wrapped around her long sideburns.
She sits next to Shinki, then asks "are you really that worried about her?"
Shinki takes a slow, deep breath, and looking toward the trees, she asks "miss Reimu, whatever do you mean?"
Reimu smiles smugly, then says "come on, you didn't come over here just to say hi. You were worried about her."
Shinki chuckles nervously, but before she can answer, a very familiar girl's voice from the shrine's front loudly calls "good morning! Reimu, are you awake yet?"
A high-pitched girl's voice adds "we brought bread!", and a second high-pitched girl's voice adds "jeez, you're making us sound strange, Hourai."
Shinki giggles, then calls "Alice, Shanghai, Hourai, my sweeties, we're over here."
Reimu sighs in frustration and says "please, don't call them over yet. I want to enjoy this peace a bit longer."
Shinki looks back at Reimu with confusion and disbelief, then says "my, you sure are grumpy this morning."
An orange-eyed girl with short blonde hair adorned by a frilly pink headband, wearing a light-blue dress tied with a frilly pink sash around her waist, a white capelet over her shoulders, and a pair of boots, walks over to the goddess and the maiden, holding on to a large black book on her right hand.
Accompanying the girl are two miniature blue-eyed girls with long blond hair, one wearing a blue dress with a tiny white apron and a large red ribbon on her head, and the other, who is holding on to a small basket with bread inside, wears a red dress with a blood-red apron, and a red plastic flower on her head.
Reimu and Shinki stare back at the newly arrived gests, then Shinki smiles and says "Alice," the girl smiles back, "Shanghai," the blue-dressed miniature girl smiles and bows, "Hourai," the red-dressed miniature girl chuckles, "good morning! What a surprise to see you here!"
Alice stares back at Shinki with a bit of surprise on her face and replies "well, I could say the same, mom."
From inside the shrine, the curious Rika peeks her head and asks "my lady, do we have more visitors?", but before Reimu has time to reply, Rika feels two points of pressure on each side of her ribs, the floor under her feet seems to switch places and now seems to be under her back.
Confused, Rika recovers her knocked out breath, blinks twice, touches her ribs, then realizes there are two tiny girls clinging tightly to her, both shouting "RIKAAA~! Mom, it's Rika!"
Shanghai and Hourai lost control of their emotions, and have jumped on Rika, tackling her hard and sending her to the ground while rubbing their faces just below her breasts.
Still a bit shaken, Rika gently rubs the girls' little heads and asks "Shanghai, Hourai, is that you?"
From outside, Alice nervously says "I'm so sorry, Rika! Are you alright? Shanghai, Hourai, get off her!"
Rika manages to sit up straight, and with a smile on her face, she says "it's alright miss Alice, I do not mind one bit! B-beside... I..."
Rika lowers her face, her smile becomes pained, and in a lower tone of voice, Rika says "I owe these two, and you, miss Alice, an apology for what I did on the night of the eclipse. I... I almost-"
Before she can finish, Shanghai lets go of Rika's ribs and jumps to Rika's neck, knocking the maid down a second time while shouting "Rika does not need to apologize! She was not well!"
Hourai immediately adds "she wasn't being herself, and even so, she didn't hurt us! She saved us, right mama Alice?"
The puppeteer magician doesn't share the exact same feelings as her two little daughters, and feels even less inclined to say something kind when she remembers that night.
Rika stained in black, swinging her sword around like a wild animal and threatening the lives of anybody near her.
When Alice returns from her thoughts, she realizes Hourai is now flying right in front of her face, staring back at her with those strong and determined blue eyes.
Shinki giggles, then says "oh my, these children seem to love Rika quite a lot, don't they."
Alice sighs in defeat, and although she would love nothing more than to scold Rika just a bit, she swallows that desire and says "it's alright Rika-san. I understand you couldn't control yourself... so there's no need to apologize."
Rika smiles along with the cheers from the two tiny girls, then Shanghai gives Rika another tight hug around the neck and exclaims "Rika is a good girl!", and just like that, Rika's family sword turns colorful, it's blade turns light-blue, the hilt turns red, and the jewel on said hilt glows intensely blue twice, startling the two little girls.
Shanghai and Hourai take the ground to get closer to Rika's sword and cautiously explore it with their tiny eyes as though seeing something for the first time in the lives, though honestly, a glowing jewel on a changing sword isn't an every-day thing, even in Gensokyo.
Rika giggles at the adoring sight of the two cautiously curious girls, then says "my sword is telling us that you two think of me as a real friend. Thank you so much, Shanghai and Hourai."
Shinki now stands to Alice's left, and holds her hands together beside her right cheek while saying "aww, isn't this a sweet sight?"
Alice just turns the corner of her eyes towards her mother, while Reimu remains as calm as if nothing is happening.
The maiden opens her eyes wider, groans, places her left hand on her forehead, and as she rubs it, she says "and this peaceful moment is about to get ruined by one annoying regular."
Shinki and Alice both stare curiously at the maiden, then Shinki asks "whatever do you mean, miss Reimu?"
As if waiting for the question to be asked, there is a sudden, very loud thud that startles all currently present visitors; it comes from the large courtyard on the back of the shrine, accompanied by the very loud voice of a girl that calls "RIKAAAAAA! I came over to play today~!"
Reimu sighs as she covers her eyes with her right hand, and almost crying, she whispers to herself "why?"
From the back of the shrine comes a girl with red eyes and very long blue hair, wearing a black hat with peaches clinging on both side of said hat, a pink, short-sleeved dress with colorful frills at the bottom, a long blue skirt, and a pair of brown cross-laced boots.
She stares at the girls on the left-side entrance of the shrine's living quarters, tilts her head left with a curious look, then says "well, you actually have visitors other than Marisa, or me... or Mima... or Suika... or that annoying reporter... or that-"
Cutting her off, Reimu smiles as she loudly says "yes, yes, I get it. Since you can see I am busy here, you can go back home and return some other day."
Though keeping her friendly smile, a drop of swear rolls down Shinki's right cheek as she whispers "oh my, so hostile, so early in the morning."
Tenshi smiles, nods, then says "alright, I'll go straight inside and stay with Rika. Don't worry, I won't bother you are all today."
From the sky, a rather tomboyish, yet strangely feminine voice loudly says "that's a great idea! Leave the bothering of Reimu to me, ze!"
A single tear hangs under Reimu's right eye upon hearing her annoying friend's voice, and after face palming herself so hard it smacks loudly, Reimu whispers to herself "and now, my day is officially ruined."
Shinki kneels behind Reimu and rubs her shoulders, whispering "come on, it's alright miss Reimu. Just take it easy."
Flying on a bamboo broom above Alice, wearing a black witch's hat, a black vest with red borders over a short-sleeved white shirt, a black skirt with a brown apron that has a dark-brown 'M' on it, and a pair of white socks and black shoes, is Reimu's long-time friend, Marisa Kirisame, the Thieving, err... Ordinary Black Witch.
Her blonde hair, which reaches down to her back, flutters as she descends in front of Reimu, staring curiously at her friend with those yellow eyes of hers.
Upon landing, Marisa gets closer to the maiden, concernedly asking "hectic morning?"
Reimu raises her disturbingly smiling face at her friend, and in a failed attempt to sound friendly, making herself sound more threatening than anything, Reimu replies "there is just no peace in this place."
Marisa quickly jumps back, defensively raising her hands in front of her own chest, saying "whoa, whoa, I didn't come to pick a fight. Just came for a visit."
Reimu sighs in defeat, then calmly says "it's alright. I'm not mad. I just wish I could have a little more peace around here."
Marisa jumps behind Reimu, places her hands under the maiden's armpits, then playfully says "looks like someone needs some love."
Reimu replies with a gohei on Marisa's head, crumpling the witch's hat in the process, and through gritted teeth she says "you're really pushing it Kirisame."
From inside the shrine, Rika calls "my lady, please come inside. The guests are waiting for you."
When Reimu and Marisa look behind themselves, they realize that Tenshi, Shinki, Alice and her two little daughters are sitting around the small table with mugs of tea on their hands, and a tray of cookies and cakes on the table, which Tenshi keeps picking on at a rather rapid pace.
Later that day, Rika takes time to tend the plants in her greenhouse while Tenshi is with Alice, the tiny girls, and Reimu inside the hot spring, and Marisa is snooping around the shrine in her underwear, under the pretext of needing to use the bathroom, when in reality, she's looking for any spells she could steal... I mean, borrow.
Shinki takes this chance and follows after Rika, acting a bit suspicious, and just a tad bit jumpy, flinching when a gust of wind blows on a leaf, or a twig snaps.
Suzaku perches on top of the greenhouse once more, and noticing Shinki's behavior, she decides to speak directly into the goddess mind.
Shinki lets out a quick yelp when she hears Suzaku's voice in her mind, saying "you know you are supposed to keep your distance, goddess of Makai."
Shinki quickly finds Suzaku up on the greenhouse's roof, and stares determinedly at the bird, telepathically replying "I know, but can you blame me? That despicable man almost broke her, so don't expect me to just sit back and watch from the sidelines! I want to know if she's really alright, nothing more!"
Suzaku shifts her wings and tweets, then replies "she's fine, I can guarantee you that much, so please, don't push the matter."
Shinki's determined eyes lock themselves on the vermillion bird, and after a rather long pause, Suzaku bows her head and says "alright then. Just remember to keep your thoughts to yourself."
Shinki immediately smiles and nods, then Suzaku takes flight to the front of the shrine, but before she's past the living quarters, she dives down, and her dive is promptly accompanied by Marisa's scream of pain.
Shinki giggles at the sight, takes a deep breath, mentally prepares herself for her conversation with Rika, turns around, then screams when she realizes Rika is on the door, looking curiously at her.
The goddess starts breathing with effort, placing a hand on her chest after such scare, while Rika panics and holds Shinki's shoulder, desperately saying "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you like that! Are you ok?"
It doesn't take long for Shinki to recover herself, but Rika still sounds worried when asking "are you really alright, miss Shinki? Are you sure you don't need anything to drink?"
The girls are sitting beside each other over at the large lake behind the shrine with their legs picked up, so as not to get wet by the water, surrounded by soothing nature; bushy trees, soft wind, the music of nature, and the water surface is so clean, it glistens with the tiniest bit of light that may reflect on it.
Taking a deep breath, as though drinking from the soothing essence that rules this place, Shinki smiles again, as she always does, then looks at Rika and says "yes. Sorry about screaming in your face like that. I really wasn't expecting you there."
Rika looks down at the grass beside her legs and says "I'm sorry. I should have given you some warning."
Shinki's face turns a little more serious when she looks at Rika once more, grabs her chin with her left hand, and lifts her head so as to make eye contact.
With a strict, but motherly tone, she says "you are not at fault here, sweetie. Please don't be saddened over my own blunders. Now..."
She releases Rika's chin and turns away from Rika's slightly confused face, then says "I was wondering, Rika-san, after all that happened out here... how are you feeling?"
Rika smiles brightly, and quickly replies "I'm fine.", but Shinki is not satisfied with this answer.
The Makaian goddess turns a warm, but stern face at Rika, then says "Rika-ch... san, that man... he caused you a great deal of pain; you lost your temper several times because of him, and to my knowledge, a feat like that is nearly impossible. You are a kind and gentle soul, and that mad-man may have brought the worst in you to the surface. Rika, how are you feeling?"
Rika never breaks her eye contact with Shinki, and the more she listens to her, the more she feels as though she's talking to her own mother.
After listening intently to Shinki's words, she thinks for a moment, remembering the many times her mistress Reimu was in danger because of the man in the white cowboy hat, moments when all she wanted was to cut HIM to shreds and be over with it, a time when that same man threatened a child, that thought alone makes her heart ache as though rough wooden thorns are nailing themselves to it with every beat.
After recovering from her own, very fresh memories, Rika looks into Shinki's eyes with longing, the corners of her mouth drop as though carrying lead, then says "I can't remember his name anymore, but I still remember the grief he caused me. It still hurts, but thankfully, knowing that he is long gone relieves my heart, and I can feel it... healing. It's taking it's time, but-"
Unable to control herself, Shinki instinctively grabs Rika by her torso and wraps her arms around her, squeezing the shrine maid against herself and rubbing her back the same way a loving mother would do to comfort her hurt child.
Rika feels scared at first, but quickly winds down to simple embarrassment, and before she knows it, she feels as though she's in her mother's embrace, safe from all harm, all the pains of the world outside that hug unable to penetrate the warm light emanating from them; she closes her eyes, then returns the embrace with a lighter embrace of her own.
Shinki suddenly realizes what she did, but she doesn't care. To her, this child deserves this, she has earned this comfort, but even she knows all good things must end so as not to turn them stale and useless.
She gently pushes Rika away, and the maid doesn't seem to mind, and when Shinki looks at the relief in Rika's eyes, she can't help but smile as she says "I'm sorry. I... I don't know what came over me."
Rika blushes with embarrassment, realizing how she returned that hug with little hesitation, then turns to face down at the lake water, then says "I apologize. It's just, you... I mean... that is..."
The awkward moment is immediately brought to an abrupt stop when a black blur jumps on Shinki, shouting "MAMAAAA!", accompanied by a loud "omph" from Shinki herself.
Kneeling on top of Shinki, with her knees on Shinki's lap, and her hands on Shinki's arms, is a girl with short blonde hair and yellow eyes, wearing a black hat with a white ribbon, a black sleeveless jacket over a short-sleeved white shirt, a long black skirt that reaches to her ankles, white socks, and black shoes.
The girl could easily make a good Marisa double, but no world is ready for two Marisas, so it's a good thing she isn't.
Shinki blinks twice while looking at the girl's eyes, then scowls while smiling, then, in an ominously sweet voice, she asks "Yuki..., my dear, dear Yuki, how many times have I told you it's rude to jump on your mother, or anybody else, in that manner?"
The hyper, eager, happy face Yuki had disappears as soon as Shinki reaches into her right pocket, then the blonde girl jumps away from Shinki and crawls behind Rika for cover, then nervously screams "maa! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Please, not the pink charm!"
Confused in the matter, Rika blinks twice, then asks "um, did something happen?"
Shinki stands up, looking a little upset, but sounds calm as she says "it's alright. Anyway, I am sure Yuki has something very important to tell me if she came all the way out here looking for me."
With tears dangling under her now white-dot-eyes, Yuki trembles violently while hiding behind Rika, so the maid grabs the girl and sits her on her own lap, takes off Yuki's hat, then starts patting her head to calm her down.
In a soothing tone of voice, Rika says "come on miss Yuki, don't make your mother angry."
Yuki has calmed down to the point that she actually forgets she was scared of just a second ago, feeling Rika's hand as it brushes her head makes her feel safe, comfortable, and infinitely confused.
When she realizes what is going on, she blushes, spring up on her feet, and feeling incredibly embarrassed, she takes her own hat and pushes it hard on her head to try and cover her face, and says "um, th-thanks miss Ri-Um, mom, Yumeko and the guys want to show you something. W-we would like for you to come back home, i-if it's alright."
Shiki looks with confusion at her somewhat hyper daughter, then looks at Rika, as if asking for permission to go, then Rika giggles and says "this seems very important miss Shinki. Maybe you should go there."
Yuki nods in assent, and Shinki simply sighs long, recovers her usual smile, then says "alright, my child, let's go home. Um, miss Rika, are you going to be alright?"
Rika smiles back with her own natural smile, flaps her little wings, then says "thanks for your concern. I am truly grateful, but I am fine, really."
Shinki smiles, nods, then says "alright. Then I'll see you next time, ok? Come Yuki, sweetie. Let's go back home."
Yuki grins widely, taps Rika's shoulder, then says "thanks sis, you saved me from one bad scolding. I owe ya one.", then takes off to the air after Shinki.
Rika waves goodbye along with Shinki and Yuki, and once they are out of sight, she takes a deep breath and says "phew, that was a little embarrassing, but... so warm."
Genjii, the large bearded flying turtle, splashes out from under the water, startles Rika to the point of having her hair standing on its edges, then says "I'll say. Just like when Reimu used to give me those hugs of hers. Oh, how I miss those."
Still startled, Rika looks at the giant turtle, and nods her violently-shaking head.
Makai, Shinki's home, a world where the density would drive a weak-minded human or anything, insane.
The place has a certain beauty to it, but it is still a world of demons, and to come here unprepared, both spiritually, and physically, can be costly; you could end up depressed for the rest of your life, become a murderous lunatic, become unable to differentiate ally from enemy, or cause you an obsession with death.
Because of the dark nature of this world, light shines even brighter in here; ironic, when you think of this place as being 'hell'.
At the entrance of this world, which is a large swirling gate that looks like it has outer space inside of it, there is a beautiful, yet bleak patch of foliage, where some of the smaller demons reside, some tasking themselves with repelling would-be intruders.
Further forth is a large forest erected by Shinki herself, and with the help of Ail, they made that forest fertile and bright enough to give edible fruits, edible for both demons and non-demons.
Even further ahead is the newly rebuilt city, called simply 'The City of Makai'.
To the left of that forest is another bleak patch of land that seems to extend rather far, reaching the dark and fiery wasteland that is known as Hokkai, that dreaded place where Byakuren Hijiri was once sealed.
To the right of the fertile forest is another wasteland, however, foliage and bits of grass sprout here and there around the many dried rocks and seemingly barren soil.
Further ahead from the city, resting right-side of a dirt-road, is a massive lake, which is filled with creatures unimaginable, some ridiculously large, others as small as dumplings, and most are quite dangerous to anyone, though not to Shinki.
Resting to the north of the lake is one large castle adorned in the shape of various massive crystal stalagmites, though it has funny round and oval shapes on the many tips, possibly Shinki's request to keep her many children safe from cutting themselves on those.
The castle is called Pandemonium, and it's where Shinki, and a few of her children live, Yumeko, her maid, included amongst them.
Looking at her home from the sky, Shinki smiles, then looks to her right at Yuki and asks "so why did you summon me back? Everything seems to be alright."
Yuki grins widely and lifts her left hand with the peace sign, then says "you'll love it, mom!"
Shiki stare back at Yuki with a neutral expression, takes a deep breath, then follows her daughter into the city.
The City of Makai; once a destroyed and forgotten place, thanks to an unavoidable event where Shinki lost her control, now is a large and magnificent cement jungle full of beings to many different shapes and sizes.
Some look like humans with what WE would call deformities; with eyes out of place, or with just one eye, or having ridiculously long necks, turtle shells on their back, colored skins, with horns, and even some the size of children, but bearing large claws instead of fingers.
The rest do look more human-like, save for wings of all types sprouting from their heads and backs, and some having small black tails.
The city itself is a sight to behold.
The south entrance has various tall buildings that serve as homes for a few of the Makaians, the east is one large market place, where you can find anything you may want, except for a better TV reception, and actual caring service.
The west side is littered with random buildings for offices, arcades, restaurants, and a nursery, though don't be fooled, that nursery is something more lewd... but I'm not going into details there.
The north of the city might as well be something else on its own.
It's a completely out-of-place natural suburb, with small houses made from wood, the dirt, unpaved roads have formed because of so much use, trees spring out of place all over, but regardless of how it may look, the Makaians are happy with it, so who's to argue with them.
The very center of the city is one massive courtyard, adorned with cobblestone floors that, when looked upon from the sky, draw circles with triangles inside, which happen to have squares inside of them, and on the very center, there is a large cloth made from countless cloths that have been hurriedly sewn together, covering what looks like a large five-story statue.
Shinki's eyes lock on the large cloth, and with a worried and suspicious look on her face, she asks "Yuki, you kids didn't build another doomsday rocket... r-right?"
Yuki sweats and nervously says "oi, oi, oi, mom... Really, we promised never to speak of that fiasco again."
Shinki manages a very nervous smile as she chuckles and whispers "so much cake mix..."
Yuki chuckles loudly, then says "anyway mom, this is something I am SURE you will love! Come, lets land at that red platform."
Shinki looks down at the mentionend stand, set next to the covered... thing, then notices her name written there in bright white.
As she descends, she notices almost all her children have gathered around the cloth, and are all smiling back at her, and sounding moved, she says "oh, such beautiful smiles. What could all of this be, I wonder."
Yuki simply smiles as she helps her mother land exactly on the center of the stand. Once Shinki lands on that platform, Yuki fills her lungs with air, cups her hands around her mouth, then screams so loud "HEY SHE'S HERE, YOU STUPID DORKS", even Shinki has to cover her ears in fear she might lose her hearing.
There is a flash of light, and now Yuki lies on her stomach with a pained smile on her face, and a short sword stuck on her butt.
Yumeko stands just below the stand, dusting her hand with a look of scorn on her face, then says "yes, yes, we know. No need to be screaming like a raging banshee."
Shinki giggles nervously, then whispers "Yumeko, I think you went a little hard on her."
Ignoring Shinki, Yumeko smiles and loudly says "lady Shinki, in honor to you, and to show how much we care about you, we have built this for you...", then points her hands to the air at the large cloth-thing.
A green demon with green claws and wings for a body, a girl with short black hair, and wearing a long blood-red rag, that somewhat resembles Patchouli's own Koakuma in looks, and Mai, the snow witch with short light-blue wavy hair tied to a small ponytail with a red ribbon, light-blue eyes, small pink angel wings, and wearing a light-pink dress tied under her breasts with a red string, pull on three parts of the scary cloth.
Shinki looks up at the revealed structure with dread in her eyes, a gloomy shadow on her forehead, and a wriggled-lipped smile she's trying to maintain with all her godly might... but failing miserably at it.
Under the large, scary cloth is a massive statue of Shinki with a cold and stern look on her face, revealing her six pointy wings, and holding a strange pose, where she's placing her left hand on her waist, and pointing up at the sky with her right hand.
Shinki stammers at the sight, and thinking her mother is so happy, she's speechless, Yumeko's cheeks turn pink as she giggles, then says "you haven't seen anything yet. Look at THIS!"
Yumeko reveals a thick black remote with various colored buttons, then presses a red button.
Immediately after doing that, fire start bursting out of the statue's right fingertip, all six wing tips, the top of the head, and out the nose.
Shinki's face turns pale at the sight, she starts to shiver, then looks down at her children, all with eager, happy faces, waiting for their mother's reaction.
Shinki looks up at the flaming statue, then desperately thinks "oh dear goodness, this thing is horrifying! Ah, but I can't tell this to them! I'll break their fragile little hearts! I mean, they built this for me, but... it's so horrible! Oh, what to do, what should I say?"
Nervously, Yumeko looks up at Shinki, then asks "s-so, um... what do you think?"
Shinki looks back at her children with tears gangling from her white-disk eyes, nods a trembling head, and in an unconvincing nervous and disgusted tone of voice, she says "i-it's very... pretty. Th-th-thank you, my babies..."
The Makaians all cheer with excitement, while others cry out of joy, thinking their mother loved their questionable gift, when in truth, she would like nothing more than to have it torn down and turned to dust, then have the memory of it torn down and turned to dust... but she refuses to break their spirits, so she just waves and smiles, when she really wants to run away and hide.
And so, for three days, that's exactly what the goddess from Makai does, leaving as early in the morning as she possibly can to visit Rika, and returning as late in the night as she can, so as to avoid looking at that eye-sore of a statue.
The third morning, during her quiet escape from home, she glances at the statue, sweats with fear, then thinks "how can something made out of love be so frightening?"
As she asks this in her mind, the statue bursts a flare through its nose, making Shinki shiver and quicken her pace.
Unaware of what's behind her, the demonic goddess is being followed by five cloaked figures which said cloaks seem to blend with the bleak sky, making it almost impossible to be detected.
Being who she is, Shinki can still feel something is not right, so the figures constantly stop their chase and wait until Shinki is far away before resuming going after her.
They follow her trail all the way to Gensokyo; more exactly, the Hakurei Shrine's back entrance.
The five figures hide themselves behind the trees on the far back of the shrine, beside the storage house, making damned sure Shinki's not on to them, and finally, after the sun begin to rise in paradise, they notice the goddess perk up, then stand up to dust her seat and straighten her dress.
The kitchen doors slide open, and from inside, Rika smiles and says "miss Shinki, good morning."
Shinki chuckles and asks "good morning, Rika-san. Did you sleep well?"
The cloaked person that seems to be the leader snarls as Rika replies "well of course. My, you've been visiting so much lately. My lady and I are so honored by your devotion to the shrine."
Shinki giggles nervously, then says "um, no, no, it's not... well, never mind. I'm just feeling a little more comfortable here these days."
The cloaked leader roars softly and pulls the cloak off, revealing one rather enraged Pandemonium maid, Yumeko.
After the roar, Rika unsheathes her sword and calls "who's out there? Show yourself! I can feel you hiding behind the trees!"
Shinki smiles with a sweat drop hanging on her forehead, and says "oh my, maybe it's someone from Makai. Come on out darling, don't be shy!"
Yumeko looks behind herself, then the other three cloaked people turn to stare at the one cloaked person right behind Yumeko, making him sweat and look around nervously.
From the courtyard, Rika bravely gets closer to the trees to the right of the storage house and calls "come on out already! I promise not to harm you if you reveal yourself."
From between the trees, Yuki flies right out and straight toward Rika with her hood down, screaming with fright and with tears hanging under her eyes.
The shrine maid skillfully sheathes her sword and catches Yuki without harming the fire witch, all in half a second.
Looking quite confused and surprised, Rika helps the girl up on her feet and asks "Yuki, what were you doing? I almost cut you to pieces there!"
Shinki approaches the girls, then asks "Yuki, why are you jumping on people again?"
Agitated, Yuki tries to hide behind Rika while saying "wait, wait! It was Yumeko and Mai! I swear, they tossed me over here, hell knows why!"
Shinki tilts her head slightly to the right and places her hands on her hips while keeping her eyes on Yuki.
The with desperately calls "c-come on, you gotta believe me! Yumeko, Mai, Luize, Sara, come on out! C-Come on, mom's going to punish me for not doing something I'd normally do myself, but I really didn't do!"
The rustling of the trees and a soft whoosh from the wind is the only reply for the clearly frightened girl, but to her luck, Rika wraps an arm around her shoulders, places Yuki besides herself, then looks straight at Shinki and says "come on miss Shinki, she's sorry for what she did, and I don't mind, really."
Shinki stares back at Rika and Yuki for a few seconds, then suddenly smiles and says "alright. Yuki, you be thankful to miss Rika-san for not cutting you to shreds, apologize to her immediately, and I'll spare you the punishment."
Yuki smiles as grateful tears fill her eyes, then nods rapidly, causing the jewel on Rika's sword to glow bright blue.
In the small patch of land at the entrance to Makai, Yumeko jumps straight out of the gate and punches an innocent tree so hard, she makes a hole right through it, then snarls and growls while repeatedly stomping her left foot on the ground.
Mai, Luize and Sara follow after Yumeko, all with their hoods down, and right after touching the ground, Mai storms over to Yumeko, grabs her by the shoulders, then shakes her up violently, shouting "you retard, I wanted to see more!"
Yumeko grabs Mai back, shakes her up, and shouts "there's no need for more, snow witch!"
Luize narrows her eyes, and sounding a little sinister, she says "that Rika woman must have put a spell on mother!"
Sara clicks her tongue, then adds "highly unlikely. Mom's not that weak! If she's doing that, then it's because she's-"
Yumeko abruptly cuts Sara off, saying "don't say it!", her face twisted with rage, her eyes burning with hatred, scaring her sisters enough to make them take a few steps back.
Yumeko stares at her sisters' faces and notices their fright, so out of actual consideration for them, she takes a deep breath to calm down, closes her eyes, and more calmly says "that girl is not one of us. She doesn't have the right to have mother to herself."
The four girls turn their heads toward the gate when a familiar girl's voice says "you're going about this the wrong way, you jealous little pricks."
Alice Margatroid stands with her back resting against the wall to the side of the large gate back to Gensokyo with her arms crossed under her chest, and a stern look on her face.
Sara takes a breath of relief and whispers "it's just Alice...", then loudly asks "and how would you handle this?"
Yumeko takes a step toward the puppeteer magician, then asks "how can you be so calm about this? Shinki is your mother too!"
Alice pushes herself off the wall and walks over to Yumeko, then says "that girl is a sweetheart, and the moment you touch her, mom's going to spank you with her iron mace... or did you forget about that?"
Yumeko's face turns blue when she remembers her sore butt, then asks "th-th-that was... so what should we do?"
Alice sighs, then says "just ask mom to stay. She loves you so much, if you just ask her, she won't leave again. Just don't go doing something so stupid again. Not that I like her, but if you attack that Rika, I will defend her."
Yumeko twitches, but remains silent as Alice continues "Shanghai and Hourai love her too much, and even though she almost killed my girls, she did stop... and she's not so bad. Look, just leave her alone, don't pick on her, go all lovey-dovey on mom, and you should be fine."
Alice turns around, leaving the girls speechless, but just before she enters the gate, she turn around and says "oh, and keep Yuki out of the loop. She's already on Rika's side too, and you know how she gets when she thinks she's right about something."
Alice walks right into the gate and vanishes in a blue flash, leaving the other four girls to their thoughts.
The left side of Yumeko's lip lifts up, a glint escapes her right eye, and with a malevolent look on her face, she says "alright then, I'll all be so damned lovey-dovey on mom, she'll be saying 'Rika-who' before she knows it!"
Sara and Mai notice the frightening look on Yumeko's face, while Luize seems to be lost in her own thoughts, thinking of ways to be 'lovey-dovey' with Shinki... and her flushed face is a good sign that she's doing it wrong.
Meanwhile, over at the Hakurei Shrine, Alice sits on the shrine's porch with Reimu to her left, Tenshi to her right, and Shanghai and Hourai on her lap.
They are all watching as Youmu and Rika have a no-spell cards sparring match.
Although she seems to be placing all her attention on the match, Alice's thoughts dwell on early morning, thinking "I wonder if I did the right thing? Ugh, I don't even know if I'd really side with Rika. Sure, Shanghai and Hourai love her, but..."
On the other side of the courtyard, sitting on a wooden bench, are Yuki, Shinki, and Mima, a vengeful 'evil' spirit with long flowing green hair adorned with a blue wizard's hat that has a large white ribbon and a yellow sun, star and moon motif, green eyes, and wears a blue robe with white outlines, a large blue cape, and today she has a long blue skirt covering her normal, shoeless legs.
While Yuki and Mima cheer on the girls, Shinki places her full attention on Alice, noticing the distant look in the puppeteer's eyes.
In the center of the large courtyard, surrounded by a barrier, are Rika, who has her sword positioned defensively in front and across her face, and Suzaku, who is flying above Rika and her opponent.
Youmu Konpaku, the half-human half-ghost, has short silver hair adorned with a black bow, dark-blue eyes, wears a green vest with a ghost insignia over the right breast pocket, a short-sleeved white shirt underneath, a green skirt that has ghost insignias all around the lower borders of said skirt, a pair of black shoes, and has a large ghost following around herself wherever she may be.
Though Youmu looks fresh and ready for more, holding her short sword, Hakurouken, pointed at Rika, her clothes are torn and cut all over, while Rika only has a single cut on her skirt.
The girls eye each other without saying a word, then suddenly rush toward each other with swords raised.
Both swing sideways and clash their weapons together, sending light sparks flying all around, then Rika takes the chance and thrusts her blade forward, forcing Youmu to move her head slightly to the right to avoid the attack, but still has a few strand of hair cut off, though nothing to be alarmed about.
Youmu recovers and swings sideway up, forcing Rika to flip backward and raise her sword above her head defensively to block Youmu's jump attack.
Rika pushes the half-ghost away, rushes forward ahead of Youmu, then jumps with her sword aimed upward, but Youmu flips in mid-air and swings down hard, pushing Rika and her sword back down to the ground.
Rika rolls backward after touching the ground, while Youmu lands neatly on her feet, and immediately runs toward Rika for the attack.
Rika stops rolling and is in a bit of a daze, but manages to sweep her left leg over the floor just as Youmu is in range, making Youmu trip, then stands up and swing her sword in an arc down.
Youmu swings her sword up with enough force to deflect Rika's attack, and while Rika recovers from the push, Youmu takes the chance and kicks Rika's legs, making her tumble backward and fall on her seat.
Youmu flips back up, Rika elegantly pushes herself up on her feet by literally dancing with her hands on the floor, lifting her seat up, swinging her legs around until she is on her knees, then gets back up.
The girls look at each other once more, smile, then rush for the attack once more.
Both girls shout as they get closer to each other, holding their swords below and beside themselves, then rush through each other, swinging their blades in perfect synchronization, then stop several feet away from each other with their backs turned, holding their final stance.
Youmu is the first to straighten up, and with a smile on her face, she says "darn it, I still lack training...", then falls on her stomach to the ground.
Rika lowers her guard, sheathes her sword, turns around, smiles, then says "I won this ro-", but stops in mid-sentence and falls on her back with a goofy smile and swirly eyes.
Suzaku, though speaking through her mind, is heard by everyone present as she says "double knockout!"
Tenshi cups her hands over her mouth, booing at Suzaku and saying "cheat! That's a cheat! She stood longer!"
On the benches, Mima raises her left arm and cheers, while Yuki jumps on the bench and shouts "do it again! Do it again!"
Shinki looks up at Yuki, grabs her daughter by her skirt, pulls her back down, then says "sweetie, you have to calm down, alright."
Reimu walks over to the barrier, dispels it, walks over to, and stands between the fallen maid and half-ghost, then chuckles and says "you two should open a comedy act. That's the fifth draw already!"
Both Rika and Youmu moan as a reply, unable to get back on their feet out of exhaustion.
By now, Shinki has forgotten all about Alice's suspicious behavior, and smiles upon seeing her daughter cheering along Shanghai and Hourai.
Later that night, Shinki and Yuki return to Makai, and when they are flying over the suburbs, Yuki stops and says "take care, mom. I'm sleeping at home tonight."
Shinki giggles, nods, then says "don't go burning hay again like you did last time."
Yuki grins and flies down, shouting "that was just an experiment!"
Shinki watches her daughter enter through her own house's left window, then slowly shakes her head and asks herself "that Yuki. I wonder what's going on inside that mind of hers?"
She takes off toward Pandemonium, saying to herself "well, it's not like I want to try reading her mind again. Brrr, took me an hour to get back out."
Reaching her home, Shinki enters through the large gate on the front, and quickly feels something is wrong.
She looks around suspiciously, but shrugs it off and walks further inside.
After walking through a long glass corridor with three more corridors connecting to it from the left, possibly leading to other rooms or whatnot, Shinki arrives at the main hall, expecting to find an answer as to why she feels something is still out of place.
As expected of the main hall, it's adorned with various plants with beautiful purple flowers in hanging pots, though upon closer inspection, these tiny purple flowers have small but sharp jagged teeth, and their vines are like arms they use to catch their prey.
On the floor there is a long red carpet that ends just before the windowed wall in front of it, and at the other end of this carpet are a set of steps with a large glass chair on the top platform that looks like a throne, and to the left and right of this carpet are smaller chairs, bookshelves, and large wooden desks that seem out of place.
Above it all is a grand chandelier that holds about a hundred candles, though only a few are lit, giving the room a rather grim essence.
Shinki looks around the room, then calls "Yumekooo! Yumeko, where are you?"
Instead of Yumeko, Shinki is greeted by three fairy maids, that unlike Gensokyo's fairies, have gray skin and blood-red eyes.
The middle one has blonde wavy hair, the one to the left has long black hair tied to a ponytail, and the one behind them to the right, has blood-red short hair adorned with a single black pin to the left, and all three wear black maid uniforms.
Shinki stares at the fairies, but before she asks, the blonde fairy says "lady Shinki, we are sorry to inform you that miss Yumeko hasn't been feeling too well."
The black haired fairy adds "she's been locked up in her room and day, and refuses to open the door."
Sounding uninterested in the matter, the red haired fairy looks to her right, pouts, and says "she... I think I heard her crying. Well, whatever. She shot me with those swords of hers before I could even ask. Lucky there's a door!"
Shinki looks at the three fairies, one-by-one, then rushes straight toward the next door to the right of the main hall.
The fairies frown and look down to the ground, seemingly sobbing, but when Shinki closes the door, the three fairies smile, then the blond fairy says "she fell for it."
The red fairy chuckles, then says "Yumeko's plan is working great after all."
Meanwhile, Shinki flies over the next corridor, taking an immediate left, then a sudden right, then stops in front of a black door.
She knocks on it three times and calls "Yumeko, sweetie, it's Shinki! Open up!"
Silence rules for over a few seconds or so before the sounds of footsteps from the other side get closer to the door, followed by a click, then the door slowly opens.
Yumeko stands next to the door, and is wearing a long purple rag over herself, and Shinki gasps at the sight of her daughter's red puffy eyes, tear-covered cheeks, messy unkempt hair, and empty look on the maid's face.
Shinki excitedly asks "Yumeko, what happened? Did someone hurt you?"
She grabs Yumeko's face to get a better look, then quickly helps the maid over to her bed, asking "my poor dear, what's the matter? Please, say something!"
After sitting on her bed, Yumeko looks away, sniffles, then asks "why does mom avoid me? H-have I been bad to her? Why does she hate me?"
Shinki gasps, grabs Yumeko's shoulders, forces the maid to look at her, then embraces Yumeko on impulse, saying "I'd never hate you! Whatever gave you such a foolish idea?"
Yumeko sniffles and tries to smile, her plan is working better than she expected, she should be happy, but having her mother embrace her has awoken that sadness that's been filling her whenever she thinks Shinki loves Rika more than her, and unable to stop herself, Yumeko starts to cry out loud.
Shinki opens her eyes wide, rage slowly boiling from the pit of her stomach up to the crown of her head, and trying to sound as calm as she can, the goddess asks "Yumeko, my child, who the hell made you cry like this? Who filled your head with such ideas? You tell me right now and I'll-"
Before Shinki can finish her sentence, Yumeko lets out a loud sob, and through a cracking voice, she asks "why haven't I seen you these days? What did I do to you? Please, don't leave me mom! I want to see you, be with you, but if you are gone..."
Shinki's body tenses up, she realizes now what has Yumeko so upset.
She closes her eyes and spreads her consciousness over the city, then gasps and thinks "how could I be so blind as to not notice my own children's suffering over my absence? Every single one of them is so upset... even Yuki seems to be missing me. Kind of odd, seeing as she's been with me, but still..."
Through her cracking voice, like a desperate child, Yumeko cries "don't go mama! S-stay with me! Please, stay home!"
Without her realizing it, Shinki has her hand over Yumeko's head and is gently brushing her hair with her fingers, feeling as though Yumeko is her little baby girl once more, and she's comforting her child after she woke up from a bad dream.
Quickly returning from her memories, Shinki closes her eyes, kisses the left temple of Yumeko's head, then whispers "don't worry my child, I'll stay home with you. There, there, let all those tears flow. Mama will take them all, just like she did before."
Yumeko's emotions overwhelm her again and she starts to cry again, only this time is out of happiness, and after a sob, she whimpers "thank you mom... Thank you."
Her plan has worked, Shinki has promised to stay home, at least for one day... probably.
Now, Yumeko must find a way to make her forget about Rika, but for now, all she wants is to enjoy this warm moment with her goddess and mother, though it doesn't last long.
Before Yumeko realizes it, she has relaxed considerably, and has fallen asleep on Shinki's hug, but that doesn't stop Shinki from holding her child in her arms a little longer.
The next morning, Yumeko wakes up alone on her bed, and realizes it's quite late.
Well, for HER it's actually late, but for most of us, waking up at six in the morning is a task.
She gasps with fright when she realizes Shinki is nowhere in sight, so she spring out of bed and runs straight to the great hall in her small, silky-white pajamas, skidding on her feet when turning each corner.
She reaches the main hall, bursts through the door, then desperately calls "lady Shinki?"
From the large seat at the back of the room, Shinki's sweet voice calms the agitated, and almost naked maid when she says "oh my, Yumeko, calm down. I'm here, child."
Yumeko looks at Shinki, sitting on the large seat with a cup of tea on her right hand, and an ice-melting motherly smile on her face.
The maid smiles back, sighs with relief, then says "lady Shinki, good morning. P-please forgive me, I overslept."
Shinki giggles, narrows her left eye, then says "Yumeko, my sweet child, calm down already. It's alright, it's not like your mother can't cook by herself. Breakfast is ready, so after you change into something more appropriate, you may dig in."
Yumeko stares back at Shinki, smiling the same way she did back when she was younger, then her smile turns into a frown when she realizes the dim light from the window is making her pajamas seem almost transparent.
Yumeko's face turns beet red, she scrunches up and crosses her arms over her chest, chuckles nervously, then says "umm, I'll go change. F-forgive me, I shouldn't have shown you such indecent sight."
With an angelic smile on her face, her always-standing strand of hair standing on its tip this time, and a bit of blood dripping down her left nostril, Shinki says "oh please, don't be sorry. I'm not offended in the slightest."
In Gensokyo, at the Hakurei Shrine, a girl with long red hair, red eyes, bat wings on her head and back, and wearing a black suit vest over a long-sleeved white shirt, a long black skirt, short white socks and black shoes, flies over to the front entrance to the main shrine, holding on to a book with blue covers, looking a little bit lost, but determined to find what she's looking for.
The girl takes a deep breath, but only a peep escapes her mouth, so she takes another deep breath and calls "R-Rika-onee-chan? A-are you there?"
The girl nervously looks around as she asks herself "w-was this really the place? Oh, I should have come with Patchouli-sama last time... if this is the right shrine, I mean."
From the back of the shrine's living quarters, Rika's sweet voice seems to dance along with the wind as she calls back "hello, is someone there?"
The little girl relaxes upon hearing the voice, and almost immediately spots Rika peeking her head from beside the larger building.
The little girl rushes over to Rika and wraps her arms around the maid's waist, excitedly saying "yes! I did it! This is the place! Thank goodness, Rika-onee-chan, I didn't get lost!"
Rika looks a bit surprised at first, but quickly recovers and pats the girl on the head, saying "Koakuma, little sis, what are you doing here?"
Koakuma releases Rika, looks up at her and smiles, presents the book, then says "Patchouli-sama was thinking of returning this book to you soon, but she didn't, so I picked it up myself when I learned it was yours and came over to bring it back. Patchouli-sama was against it, but she's not my boss, so I came anyway. Um, err, wait."
Rika smiles nervously and is about to state the obvious fact that she and Patchouli have a contract, but Koakuma quickly says "well, I can think for myself anyway, it's not like she completely owns me."
Rika giggles, accepts the book, and while rubbing the crown of Koakuma's head, she says "you are a naughty little sister, but I guess there's no actual harm done. Oh?"
Rika notices Koakuma's head wings are flapping like crazy, her cheeks are pink, she's cupping both hands together over her chest, and is now pushing her head up so that Rika's hand stays firmly in place.
Rika giggles and continues scratching Koakuma's head, and says "he-he-heh, I guess you can be a good girl when you want to."
Koakuma starts enjoying herself so much, she start to whimper contently, and doesn't care she can't control herself, then she suddenly feels a nasty shock on the back of her head, twitches, then frowns and straightens up.
Surprised, Rika asks "Koa-chan, what happened?"
Koakuma pouts as she looks at Rika and says "she's summoning me back. I'm sorry onee-chan, but I have to go now."
Rika smiles and chuckles, then says "thank you for returning my book, little sister.", then bends down and kisses the little demon's cheeks, making her yelp, then melt down with a blushing face and a goofy wriggled smile.
Feeling elated, Koakuma takes flight, and is unaware that she is doing so without flapping her back wings.
She turns her torso, waves at Rika, and dizzily says "th-thank you, Rika-onee-chan... P-please come and... and visit... tee-hee-hee."
Rika stares at Koakuma with a bit of worry in her eyes, then asks herself "I wonder if she'll be alright?"
Later that day, Rika finishes serving breakfast; an omelet with various vegetables mixed in with the eggs, a bowl of rice, strangely glowing meat buns, and of course, tea.
She giggles to herself after setting the food on the table, then says to herself "that book had that recipe I wanted to try out. I'm so glad Koa-chan brought it back. I'm sure my lady will love it."
Reimu walks out of the corridor, already dressed, combed, and quite alert, and when she lays eyes on the glowing meat bun, she smiles and asks "breakfast with a bang?"
Rika smiles, points a finger to the ceiling, then says "a bang of flavor, my lady. Please, try it out and let me know how you like it."
From her perch in front of the rooms corridor, Suzaku whistles excitedly and telepathically exclaims "this is so good! It's like eating dango, only, I'm not! Yumm~!", then pecks a bite out of the meat bun on her right claw.
Reimu stares at the vermillion bird for a moment, shrugs, grabs her own meat bun, then says "oh well, thank you for this meal!"
She takes a quick bite off the bun, and immediately squeals contently as the sweet flavor of sweet dumplings dance harmoniously with the soft texture of the bun.
After she swallows, Reimu cries as she exclaims "this is amazing! Tastes like the sweetest dumplings in existence! I-it's perfect!"
Before she takes the next bite, Reimu turns her eyes over to Rika over at the kitchen, then turns her head as she asks "Rika, where are you going?"
Over in the kitchen, Rika places six of those meat buns inside a black basket she has lined with a blue and white checkered cloth, then leaves three more out on a tray.
She turns to her mistress and smiles as she says "these are very special. I use a bit of magic for the glow and taste. You see, with the spell on this book, I can make some foods taste like the individual's favorite food."
Reimu stares back with a neutral face, then says "that's all good and stuff, but..."
Rika giggles, making her wings flutter, and Reimu blush, then says "I'm sorry my lady. I'm going to take these over to miss Shinki. She didn't come today, so, with your permission, I'd like to deliver these to her myself."
Reimu recovers her natural face immediately, then looking a bit confused, she says "a-alright, you can go. Just don't linger there for too long. Come straight back once you are done."
Rika nods with a smile, then Reimu points at the three glowing meat buns on the tray, then Rika quickly says "oh, those are for Tenshi, miss Marisa, and unless you'd like another helping, then the third one goes to whomever you may wish, my lady."
Reimu smiles very naturally, a smile Rika simply loves laying eyes on, then asks "before you go, what do these meat buns taste like to you?"
The question his Rika hard, her cheeks turn a bit reddish, she places both hands on her cheeks, she flutters her wings very rapidly, then smiles sweetly and contently as she says "m-my lady's peach pies, of course! Nothing else compares to the taste of those delectable treats!"
Rika's smile quickly vanishes when she notices Reimu and Suzaku both have blood dripping from their left nostrils, then panics and asks "my-my lady, Suzu-chan, what's wrong? Are you alright?"
Both girl and bird nod slowly at the same time, and Reimu smiles as she says "oh, everything is PERFECT, no doubt about that."
Meanwhile, at the study room over at Pandemonium in Makai, which sits at the end of the second corridor to the left of the entrance corridor, Yumeko, Luize, Mai and Shinki are having a quiet study time together, although Yumeko is there mostly to make sure Shinki doesn't need anything from her, so she's really paying no real attention to her book... not even the cover, which reads "How to please her when she's cold."
Mai and Luize glance over to Yumeko's book and quietly chuckle among themselves, having a quite un-ladylike conversation through whispers.
Although this study is quite impressive, it lacks many, many more books before it can even compare to the Scarlet Devil Mansion's own library.
Meanwhile, two bookshelves over to the left, Sara and Yuki are quietly looking over a single book and drawing magical runes on an old piece of paper spread out on the ground.
Yuki is about to draw one last rune, when very suddenly, Shinki gasps and exclaims "oh dear, Rika just came through the gate."
Saying this triggers and inexplicable surge of hatred inside Sara, Mai, Luize, and especially Yumeko, whose eyes are widely open, her iris are the size of a single dot, and she fails to hide the murderous intent she's feeling at the moment.
Before Shinki even gets up from her seat, the other girls stand up, and Yumeko says "mother, allow us the honor of greeting her for you. Please, wait here."
As the girls exit the room, Shiki says "be gentle with her. She's not like Reimu after all."
Yuki springs right out of hiding, and goes after her sisters, shouting "yay, Rika's here! Maybe she can help me with this pink-negating spell!"
The door closes shut, Shinki looks around the solitary room, then says to herself "no wonder she was so quiet."
While Yumeko leads the party of girls to 'meet' with Rika, she loudly says "that bitch! How dare she? After all we had to do to get mother back, she comes to steal her away! We'll show her, right girls?"
The other girls cheer, then Yumeko asks "and what about Yuki?"
Mai holds on to the unconscious Yuki by her waist, looking quite agitated while saying "the idiot's taken care of. She won't get in the way."
Yumeko looks forward and says "I'm sorry Yuki, but you let what little brain you have in there be washed by that... thing!"
As they overfly the city, Yumeko stops, looks at the terrifying statue of their mother, which they still think is magnificent, then sneers as she says "wait, girls, I have a plan."
The other four girls stare at Yumeko's back, then follow after the maid as she descends down the city streets.
Meanwhile, holding on to the black basket, its contents covered with the blue and white checkered cloth, Rika flies over the forest raised by Shinki and Ail, takes a deep breath, then says "well, this place isn't as bad as miss Reimu said. Wait, I better keep my guard up. Makai might be waiting for me to lower my guard, and... a-hah, I knew it."
Just as she readies herself for an ambush, dark-skinned fairies, one-eyed blue bats, and green-winged eyeballs rise from beneath the trees and start shooting at the maid furiously.
Rika smiles, then says "alright, I rarely use my own bullets, so this is going to be a bit of practice for me."
After finishing her sentence, Rika lifts her right arm, and form it, yellow and pink petal-shaped bullets fly in a spread formation in front of Rika, making eight straight lines that seem to fan out the farther they fly, and while dodging the daggers, bullets and curses the tiny creatures shoot at her, she knocks down most, if not all of the creatures, repeating "I'm sorry, I'm just defending myself. Please move. Sorry again."
She mows through the little creatures with such ease, it's the little beings, aren't even putting any effort at all, then very suddenly, the few remaining creatures dive back down to hide in the trees, then Rika says to herself "oh, miss Reimu told me about this. Someone big is coming this way."
Sure enough, a large bald and muscular ogre with red skin, covering himself with a simple brown cloth around his waist, bearing large claws and talons, and holding on to a massive mallet, flies straight at Rika, already raising his weapon high above his head.
Rika smiles confidently, carefully times her movement, then moves left at the very last second, making the ogre drop his mallet down to the forest after missing her.
The ogre roars furiously, then shouts "I'll get you yet!", and starts shooting rather powerful red beams from his fingertips at Rika.
The shrine maid sways through each beam with some effort, especially when the monster starts wiggling his fingers around, but she manages to keep away from harm and get close to him.
She smirks, raises both hands, letting the basket hang from her left arm, then says "I'm really sorry about this sir, but I need to get these to miss Shinki."
The monster roars furiously, then shouts "you're not taking mother away!"
Rika narrows her right eye, but focuses her energy on her hands and shoots a powerful pink beam that hits the ogre on the stomach so hard, it knocks the air right out of his body, and just after a few seconds, the monster explodes and falls straight down to the forest, making a loud thud upon hitting the ground.
Rika stops and looks down at the creature, his red skin visible through the many gaps between the trees' leaves, then says to herself "take his mother? Maybe he confused me with someone else. Heh-heh, there's no way I'm taking Shinki with me."
Giggling at the thought, Rika flies away toward the city.
Reaching the City of Makai, Rika realizes she is lost, so she decides to walk through in order to find if someone would be willing to help her, but that idea is already taking a huge step backward.
The city is eerily empty, currently populated only by whooshing gusts of wind, and flying pieces of paper that rip right off the walls.
As she walks through, she shyly calls "he-hello? I-is anybody here? I-I'm looking for Pandemonium."
As expected, there is no answer, so Rika decides to lift off the ground and fly a few inches above the ground, hoping to attract someone's attention, or just speed her way through the city.
Now there are bullets coming at her out of nowhere, and she has little room to dodge in, but all she cares about is protecting her basket and its content from harm, so she uses her own body as a shield from the bullets.
Lucky for her, the bullets aren't really that strong, or she'd be in trouble.
She stops flying and runs through a narrow street between two large five-story buildings, then the bullets just stop.
Rika is still running, her heart racing, a chill taking over her limbs, but she's determined to take that basket to Shinki, so she pushes on.
Panting heavily, Rika rushes toward the center of the city, thinking "good, the shooting stopped, and there's open air ahead. I can take off once I'm there and look for Pandemonium myself."
Rika suddenly skids to a stop, then jumps back, avoiding a rain of bullets and explosive kunai that explode right in front of her feet.
Squinting her eyes, Rika focuses on a large mass in front of her, then looks up at the large statue of Shinki, which is spewing dark fire from its nose and wing-tips without stop.
She gasps with surprise at the sight, takes two steps back, then looks back down to the mass of Makaians in front of her when Yumeko says "well, well, if it isn't the little thief! Come to steal our mother, did you? Well, YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!"
Rika looks over at Yumeko, Mai, Luize and Sara, and notices they, and all the other Makaians behind them are concentrating their magic in their hands, and all seem to be ready to draw blood.
Meanwhile, Shinki flies out of Pandemonium, saying to herself "I know Yumeko said she'd greet Rika, but I think it'd be better if I go and greet her myself. He-he, they'll be surprised for sure."
She grins mischievously, then says "I might even embarrass Yumeko in front of Rika with a cheeky-kiss. U-fu-fu, I can't wait."
To be continued...
Characters, Spell Cards and Scenarios belong to ZUN -Team Shanghai Alice-
Ail was created by Willie G.R.
Rika Onkamikami and Suzaku the Vermillion bird was created by Snapshot 2010
JAN 11 2011
Original Story by Snapshot 2010
Alright, this story is another of Snapshot's intended arcs for Rika's past, and like last time, it's going to be fully written by me, following his guidelines. As such, this entire first chapter was my own doing, but the next will follow said guidelines. Now, I was wondering, what do you think of this rather descriptive style of writing? I might be using it for my future fictions. Well, somehow, I don't think many will comment on it, or maybe you will, who knows. If it's meant to be or not, well, we'll see along the way. Oh, and for those waiting for the next chapter of the "Almost Pirates" fic, don't worry, I started on the 4th chapter and am going to hurry it. It was hard coming up with ideas for the next chapter, but I digress, this isn't the Pirates fic. Take care.