Lost Track of the date. Right-side bedroom of Yuka's Hut.
And here I am again, typing my thoughts in a typewriter. As I type each key I can't help but wonder who's going to read these? And then I think of the Bunbunmaru, and believe the day will come when I will write another article for living, breathing, thinking people.
So many things happened in the Human Village. We cried like weak humans, got attacked several times by insane undead youkai, human zombies, and then there was Reimu. She took Kogasa's body and claimed it like a trophy, and when Satori and I tried getting her back, she sends the fairy trio against us, again, a bug and a night sparrow youkai zombies, spiders, Hatate, and I swear if she had a kitchen sink she would have thrown that as well. Hmm, that felt clichéd. Um, anyway, we found out Yuka Kazami, that insanely powerful flower youkai, is also alive and killing zombies left and right like some sort of fun sporting event. She ignored our pleas for help, insulted us, rubbed salt in our wounds (figuratively speaking), and she even went as far as to blame US for Kogasa's death. At least it felt like that, but that wasn't... well I did freeze when Hatate came along and, then- I froze again when that bitch came around yet again, but this time I recovered fast. She almost killed Satori-chan and seeing that just made my blood boil. I didn't care about anything other than killing the bitch again with my own two hands. Thankfully my friend was safe. Heh, it's funny, but I can't help but call her "Satori-chan" now. After what happened with Kogasa, I don't know, I think... maybe I'm getting attached to this girl. Just... I just hate seeing her so sad.
And speaking of her; I saw something I really didn't like. Satori-chan's eyes and face were spooky. She started saying I hated her, that she couldn't stand surface dwellers because we are all selfish. Um, she might be right, especially after reading that note from Eirin. Why couldn't she help us at the shrine? But still, what she said about me; that hurt. It's true, I learned to block my mind while thinking, but I didn't think she would take it as an offense to her. I don't hate her. I thought I did at first, but I'm slowly getting to know her and I just can't hate her. She's so kind and sweet and gentle. Ugh, that Yuka, calling her weak just because she is being herself and shoving that in her face like that! I've got a good mind to- no, wait, maybe Satori-chan was right. Maybe she's doing it forcefully, but when you think about Yuka is right. We need to get tougher. Ayayayaya! But we both love peace. It's not our fault we are who we are.
The door to the room opens and Satori's sweet voice rings as she sings "Aya-san~ it's almost time to-", but before the mind reader finishes speaking the edgy tengu takes her fan and buffets the girl with a powerful gust of wind that ironically knocks the air out of her friend.
The purple-haired girl is sent flying back through the open door, smashes the door to her own room open, then falls on her bed, bounces off and falls to the ground with a heavy thud.
"Satori-chan" shrieks the tengu reporter, who immediately gets off her bed and rushes to aid her friend, screaming "I'm so sorry! Satori, what did I do? I'm so sorry!"
Her friend remains on the floor, sobbing silently while holding her stomach.
Aya quickly holds her shoulders and gently lifts her up, whimpering "are you ok? Speak to me."
The satori youkai lifts her weary purple eyes and locks them on her partner's as she softly cries "why? What did I do this time? Why do you hate me so?"
"Nonono! I don't hate you! C-come on, read my mind! S-see for yourself!" desperately replies the black-haired girl as she gently sits her friend on the bed and tries to smile, though is far too unsettled to keep that smile steady.
The mind reader's eyes turn watery while she keeps them unblinking on Aya's and cries "why do you hate me so? What did I do?"
The tengu whispers "but I don't," and watches with teary eyes as her friend lies down on the bed on her side and hugs herself, repeating those same two questions over and over.
But she stops speaking and twitches when she feels her friend's warm hand settle on her head, and before she can turn around the feeling of bliss and relaxation fill her being when that hand starts moving slowly around her hair while the reporter whispers "I'm sorry about that. It was just a reaction. I don't hate you. Not anymore, I swear."
The purple-haired girl slowly drifts into sleep, and just before losing her consciousness to the overwhelming relaxation she smiles and whispers "I'm. glad."
The black-haired girl stares at her friend and at the torn right sleeve and thinks "huh, we both lost the right side of our shirts *giggle* Coincidence? Ah, but that's not as troublesome as her slippers. Those might fall off again."
Moments later, Aya is back in her room, using the typewriter while eating a rice ball made by Satori.
Oh man, I just attacked Satori-chan, and all she wanted to do was tell me dinner was ready. But I swear, it was just a reaction. Don't know why I thought one of those monsters from outside entered the house, but my reaction seemed like an attack and she though I hated her. That poor girl. I don't understand why, but I really hate seeing her like that, looking at me like I'm someone unworthy of trust. I'll show her. I'll do my best to show her I don't hate her. Heck, I don't mind her reading my thoughts anymore. I smile now, thinking back a few days when I was the one with an unsettled mind, in need of pep talks and someone to calm me down. It's ironic that now I must help the one that's been helping me cope with this damned situation when I don't know how. Well, I think I did ok just now, and between you and me, her hair is surprisingly soft. I think I want to do that again, but don't tell her.
This is the pure and honest Shameimaru Aya, age 17, with the truth always by my side. Um, I'm not really seventeen, but we'll just leave it at that.
And with those last letters printed on the piece of paper the tengu reporter takes the last bite off her rice ball, settles down on her bed, and even though she can hear moaning, hissing and laments of the many undead monsters outside, calmness claims her when she thinks "Satori's here with me. I'll be... alright," and she promptly falls asleep.
The next day, after having their lunches, the two girls exit the safety of the sturdy hut and walk back into the new world that is the undead and undying Gensokyo.
The tengu reporter looks fresh, and something about her seems different as even her alert eyes appear focused, but the satori youkai's eyes look stressed, and she keeps looking around herself as though in paranoia.
"Are you sure you're alright? We can stay another day if you want," comments the tengu while looking at the back of her friend.
Satori twitches subtly, hiding her stress with every ounce of will in her, yet speaks casually as she replies "no, I'm fine. The sooner we're done with all of this mess, the better it will be for the both of us."
She takes another step forward while Aya closes the door to the safe little home, and when said tengu looks at her friend again she finds the purple-haired girl frozen in place and shivering so hard she looks like she's hopping without actually getting off the ground.
"S-Satori-chan?" calls the concerned reporter.
The mind-reader turns her violently shivering head as far as she can to look at her tengu friend.
Her eyes are completely unfocused and her lips wriggle without pause as she somehow manages to whimper "I-i-it's M-Mari-Marisa."
Without questioning or hesitating, Shameimaru rushes toward Satori and picks her up like a doll, then swiftly hops backward and tackles open the door into the hut with her back and quickly shuts it.
She shushes the whimpering mind reader and blushes while rubbing her hair, but both faces quickly freeze with fright and dread when they feel the witch's magical presence.
Exactly three seconds after Aya takes Satori back into the hut, Marisa, flying on her broom only three inches off the ground, casually hovers toward the village down the very road the girls were about to take on foot.
The black and white stop when she sees the hut and hops off her broom to brazenly approach it; looking around herself and the area, obviously waiting for magical traps that never appear.
And there she is now, standing right in front of the door as if nothing is happening, the skeletal hairless witch with her two eyeballs floating in front of their exposed sockets.
The confident zombie witch literally cracks a smile and mutters to herself "easier than Alice's house," and proceeds to open the door.
Her bony hand with decayed brown skin clinging on by a miracle isn't even near the knob when a jolt of divine energy pushes her far away and disappears as quickly as it attacked.
Understandably upset, Marisa hops on her feet and shouts "what the HELL is that crappy shitty magical attack! HEY! YOU IN THERE! Come on out!"
She pauses for a moment to await a reply, but it never comes, so the witch quickly takes off her hat, revealing her bald brownish head, and rummages within it while threateningly saying "look, I just need to ask you something, now come on out or I'm leveling that damned dinky hut!"
The girls inside grow tense. The tengu raises her camera and puts on a brave face, while the satori holds her third eye, and though she has her brave face on, she can't stop from shivering hard and whimpering a bit.
Outside, Marisa holds her Hakkero and aims it with both hands toward the door of the hut.
Other than her straight lips, there is no indication of emotion on her face, but as she mutters her love spell it becomes clear she is irritated.
"Shit, she's already using her Master Spark. What do we do?" whispers the reporter.
Though frightened out of her wits, Satori manages to say "n-no choice. W-we-we must a-attack now!"
The Hakkero glows, the skeletal witch trembles with power, "LOVE COLORED," she begins declaring without hesitation in her voice.
And Hatate's loud scream comes all the way from the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, and saves the girls and the hut after Marisa's attention turns to it.
She immediately hops back on her broom and exclaims "they went back to the forest!", then takes flight straight toward Eientei while shouting "what the HELL is wrong with those two? Can't they stay in one place?"
Inside the hut the shaken tengu whispers "th-that's the first time in a while I am glad to hear Hatate's vengeful screaming."
The mind reader is taking one deep and desperate breath after another, and her only reply is a rapid nod and a dry-throat cough.
"I really think we should have stayed Satori," says the worried tengu as she tries to get her friend to look at her, moving around in circles around the girl while moving forward, "seriously, you need rest! I'm genuinely worried here!"
The purple-haired mind reader keeps looking down and moving her face away from the crow girl while softly saying "it's alright. It's like Miss Yuka said," and she finally raises her face, manages a stiff and pained smile while saying "I need to toughen up. I don't want to be a hindrance."
"WHAT?" shrieks Aya at the very same moment she grips the satori's shoulders, and when the girls' eyes are locked she exclaims "is that what this is about? Satori, if you need to toughen up, then what about ME?"
The disturbed mind reader remains silent as she stares back in shock, unable to read her friend's mind out of being so distraught.
Having her partner's attention the tengu continues "who the hell has been lifting my spirits this whole time? If it hadn't been for you I'd be mincemeat between Reimu's teeth back at Kourindou, or did you forget about that already?"
Satori's eyes widen as the memory of Kourindou runs through her mind, while her friend continues "I don't care about what that rude bitch said! I am me, you are you, she is she! There's no need to go out of our way to be someone else just to meet their expectations."
She loosens her grip on the girl and slowly drops to the ground on her seat while softly admitting "it's true, we do need to toughen up, but I won't change who I am just to please that woman, and you shouldn't either."
While staring into those red eyes and that serious face, the mind reader reads Aya's continued "Satori-chan don't change. Please don't change," then smiles when the faces of Orin and Okuu appear before her.
"I... I see. Sh-she's just like them. But I forget, she's a crow tengu. *Giggles* This is rather... refreshing to see."
While thinking this the satori youkai places her hand on her friend's black hair and gently moves it up and down while saying "you're right. I'm sorry Miss Aya, I didn't mean to worry you. And though I do feel the need to rest, I believe we shoul-"
Both girls start feeling sleepy, and before the tengu can even ask what is going on, they realize too late that the decaying zombie nun, Ichirin Kumoi is standing only five feet away from them.
Her eyes are two white orbs, the skin on her face looks almost blackish, her hood covers her bald head, and on it is a large bloodstain that makes it look blackish-purple.
The right side of her upper lip has rotted off and the remaining flesh drips as though the skin is made of liquid, the left side of her shirt dangles around her ruined skirt, showing her ribs and what few organs remain inside of her, and her left leg is just a set of bones with some tendons clinging on it for movement.
The girls want to flash her, but like Akyuu, this girl emanates a soothing light and a calming mist, but unlike the Child of Mare, this one doesn't seem to be all too conscious about what she's doing, save for her obvious need to kill and feed.
She looks at the girls and moans as though lamenting, then raises her right hand and unleashes a set of claws with fresh blood on them.
Aya and Satori tense up for a second and try to escape, but the sweet scent of the mist penetrates their nostrils and in just seconds they fall to the ground with their eyes open, and watch at the ghoulish nun bends down by their sides.
The reporter wants to scream when that nun goes straight for her satori friend, but her body is too relaxed and all she can do is moan and grunt.
She summons as much strength as she can and raises her wobbly arm in an attempt to reach her friend, but just as her fingers touch Satori's exposed shoulder, everything turns pitch black.
Consciousness quickly returns to the reporter, or at least she thinks it's quickly.
She wiggles her fingers then moves her arms and legs, inspecting for loss of limbs, movement, or pain, but to her luck she shows none of those symptoms, though she does feel drowsy as hell.
"AH! Satori!" gasps the girl, immediately recovering herself fully, opening her eyes and sitting straight in a second on a comfortable bed.
"I'm here, I'm here!" quickly answers the girl to Aya's right, "I'm so glad you're alright. You had me worried. You wouldn't wake up no matter how many times I called you."
The mind-reader sounds refreshed and calm, and for some reason this overwhelms the black-haired girl enough to jump-hug the satori, placing her head on her friend's chest.
"M-M-Miss Aya, wha-what are you doing?"
The embarrassed girl tries to question what's happening, but the hugging tengu speaks before she can form words, "I was worried! That zombie went straight at you and I couldn't even move! I thought you were dead!"
Satori resigns to the hug and answers with a pat on the reporter's head, and softly says "it's alright, I'm fine. But more importantly," then looks around and asks "do you know where we are?"
Aya pulls her face away from her friend's chest and finally realizes they are inside a wooden room with a single round window too small for either of them to go through, two twin beds neatly sheeted and cleaned, though recently disturbed by the girls, a lamp on a small table drawer between the beds, their backpacks lying on the floor in front of the table, and a large scroll with a Sutra written on it, hanging on the wall in front of the beds.
"Oh shit," whispers the reporter as her mind slowly registers her surroundings, "we... we're in-"
"The Myouren Temple," finishes a sweet, but dry voice coming from the open door to the hallway.
Under the open doorway stands zombie Byakuren Hijiri, whose hair has lost all its sheen, but has retains its fullness.
Her eyes look like two large marbles with a yellow center stuck on a fleshy tube, which happen to cover the woman's eye sockets, her sleeves have been torn so her rotting right arm, which drips blood and other sickening smelly fluids, and her bony left arm lay bare.
The left side of her abdomen and waist seem to have been brutally ripped off, while the rest of her attire, though still there and is stained with blood and some inexplicable black goop, covers the rest of her body, which no longer possesses that curvy feminine look on the top.
Though her lips look dry with that decayed orangey-brown skin, she manages to smile sadly and say "I know, the look is no longer appealing to those like you who are still unaffected."
Aya and Satori swiftly jump out of the bed and land on the floor in brave fighting stances while holding their flashing weapons, then the tengu girl threateningly says "give us one very good reason why we shouldn't flash you to the death right now!"
The zombie monk retains her smile as she raises her right rotting hand and says "because my girls and I saved you from the Master, and you are currently safe from harm in this room."
The girls look around themselves and see three wards very similar to the ones Reimu gave them above the door, but these have the words written in violet instead of red.
Seeing as her two guests seem to be on edge still, the zombie monk sighs and reaches inside the room with her left hand, but she's immediately repelled by a bright holy light that burns her bony hand, yet she doesn't seem to acknowledge being burned at all.
Still looking suspiciously at their host, Shameimaru asks "and why are you helping us? Don't you want to eat us or kill us? Didn't you master command you all to kill us?"
Byakuren motions both hands asking the girls to settle down, and then says "please sit. It's a rather long explanation."
Saying that, the zombie monk drops on her knees, making a loud cracking sound along with the thud of her fall, then her lips crack as she straightens them and says "yes, it's true. The master has ordered you two to be terminated, however the order changed a little, as it seems you amuse her."
The estranged girls look at each other and Aya thinks "should we sit and listen to this?", to which Satori nods, then both girls sit on the bed again, yet each holds on to her weapon in case of an attack.
Meanwhile the zombie woman continues "but we no longer listen to the Master. We have decided to go our own way, and because I was allowed to keep my mind I have decided we will all help those in need, like you two."
She notices the suspicious yet surprised looks on the girls and blinks, something that sickens her guests when they see those two white orbs with yellow pupils being swallowed up by that worm-like skin, only to reemerge with a slimy green substance around them.
Ignoring their sickened looks, the zombie monk continues "right now we have saved a handful of humans and youkai who, like you, had been forced into the Master's game. In fact, right now we have some humans working in the kitchen, preparing your meals the way you would like them."
Right on cue, a pale and stiff human male with dark hair walks toward the monk, holding a tray with steaming food on a pair of plates and mugs filled with iced tea, and presents it to the zombie woman.
She picks it up and thanks the man for the hard work, but he does not respond and simply turns around, glancing over at the girls before leaving, then Satori flinches and holds her forehead.
"What's wrong?" asks Aya with concern, to which her friend just shakes her head and softly replies "uh, nothing. M-miss Byakuren, you were saying?"
The woman pushes the tray as far into the room as she can without getting zapped by her own wards and says "don't worry, I promise this food is fresh and healthy for two youkai as yourselves."
The girls look at the delicious-smelling plates of sliced fish and rice with seaweed topping adorning the meal, the two mugs with iced green tea, and the clean disposable chop-sticks ready to be picked.
Though still a bit doubtful, the girls pick the offered meal and silently decide to partake on it, not wanting to offend their host and cause any unwanted tension.
Both are quickly surprised by the amazing taste of the offered food, making Byakuren smile again when she notices.
As they eat, the zombie-looking monk says "I am glad it's to your liking," then continues "right, as I was saying, this place has become a sanctuary for those weary survivors. And like I mentioned before, they are few."
"The Master was furious with us and sent a legion of her best monsters to battle us, but we proved to be the strongest. They gave up and lefts us alone, and now we can freely help those in need. Now the survivors can live here in peace with us."
After gulping down the food in her mouth, Satori looks at Byakuren and asks "so, this place has both living and undead beings living together? How can you manage that without having casualties?"
The zombie monk closes her bulgy eyes again wile aiming her face to the floor and says "my people and I have found the means to suppress that need to eat living flesh, so don't you worry about that anymore. Just know you are safe here."
Zombie Byakuren then turns her now-slimy eyes to her left to look at zombie Ichirin, who just stands there without saying a single word.
Seems the barrier is legit, seeing as the girls don't feel the effects of the zombie nun's mist, even though they are this close to her.
"Ah, I understand," says the zombie woman as she stands back up with some difficulty, then looks at the girls with a smile and says "sorry ladies, I need to tend to some business. Please enjoy the rest of your meal. Oh, and you may wonder about, just don't get separated, and don't stray too far from your room. It is all I'll ask of you."
The girls share worried glances, yet the monk happily reassures them "oh, there's nothing to worry about. It's just best if you follow these rules. Now, come along Ichirin."
With that, zombie Byakuren leaves to the left, leaving Ichirin to close the door to the room.
She remains standing in the hallway, staring sadly at the girls, and then a goopy white tear rolls down her left cheek before she closes the sliding paper door and walks away after her master.
After the girls are sure they are alone they place their empty tea mugs on the tray and Aya demands "spill it. I know you know something."
Satori shakes her head and says "I'm sorry but I couldn't read Byakuren's mind. She's blocking me the same way you did."
The tengu girl looks away from her friend with a flat-look on her eyes and an embarrassed smile when she hears that truth delivered so bluntly.
"But that man," continues the satori maiden, not noticing her friend's distress as she holds her chin to think while saying "that moment he glanced at us, he screamed in my mind 'run away'. He sounded desperate."
"You don't have to tell me that twice," hurriedly says Shameimaru as she rushes toward the window, saying "there's something very odd about this place. And that Byakuren is giving me the creeps! She's being way too sweet."
She takes her fan, and even after Satori warns her not to, she swings it with all her might and shoots several red and blue bullets.
The mind reader shouts "hit the floor!" drops on the floor and lies down as flat as she can.
The tengu gasps when her bullets bounce off the wall and drops on the floor as fast as she can, narrowly missing the scorching blast of her own bullets.
Those bullets bounce back and forth inside the room over and over, until Satori manages to turn around and shoot a single bullet large enough to consume Aya's and end that dangerous game of pong.
Both girls pant as they recover from the scare, then the purple-haired girl turns her head to her friend and says "somehow, I knew this was going to happen."
The black-haired reporter chuckles, yet scowls as she says "you could have said that before I shot those."
The satori quietly stares at her partner, but prefers to keep quiet.
After having recovered most of their breath the girls sit up, then Aya says "well, instead of blasting that wall, let's just break it piece by piece and get out of here."
Satori nods, then stands up after the tengu to help her with the escape, but after approaching the window and getting a good look of their current location, both girls freeze in place and gag on their own tongues.
Though she takes a deep breath, the crow tengu can only whimper "but... we-we're-"
"Flying?" finishes whimpering the mind-reader as she and her friend gaze through the window and realizes they are only a few twenty feet away from touching the unnatural clouds with bolts that seem to be getting as thick as skin.
The girls are inside the flying Palanquin, which is anchored to the remains of the Myouren Temple, and is surrounded by a navy-blue magical mist that looks poisonous enough to kill even a youkai.
For the first time in her life, Aya feels sick to her stomach while flying, and as she takes cautious steps away from the window she shakingly says "hahah. W-we're flying! We are very high in the sky, inside a temple!"
Satori gulps, turns away from the sickening window, and then says "Miss Aya, I am getting a really bad feeling about this. W-we have to escape."
"But how?" barks the crow girl.
The mind-reader is stumped, and as such she finds herself subconsciously going over to her bed and lying on her back on it while thinking.
The tengu sighs, knowing her friend is as stumped as she is, so she walks over to her bed and says "well, this place is protected, so might as well rest," then drops on her back on her bed and finishes "and the hot food isn't bad either. I quite enjoyed the fish."
Silence takes the room for a long time and the girls start falling asleep on the comfortable beds, then the purple-haired mind-reader breaks the silence by wondering "maybe if we find Byakuren we can ask her if she'll let us off. I-I mean, she's been very kind."
The black-haired girl springs on her seat on her bed and exclaims "but she gives me the creeps, and there's something funny about her."
Satori nods and softly says "I know, I don't really trust her," then her eyes intensify as she exclaims "but what other choice do we have?"
Aya stares flatly at her friend and grins mischievously, then says "we could, I dunno, find our way out of here, escape on our own, and NEVER look back," then looks away and dreamily adds "though the food was so good."
The mind reader face palms and thinks "she's definitely an animal. Always thinking with their stomachs," then takes her hand away from her face to look at the black-haired girl and says "fine then, let's get out of here while we can."
The tengu girl is already wearing her backpack and holds the second one up while showing a smile to her friend, then says "the sooner the better."
As soon as they exit the room they take the right path of the narrow corridor, contrary to where the zombies Byakuren and Ichirin went, hoping it's the way out, and praying in their minds it is also the safest.
They quickly find themselves a little lost inside a small but frustrating labyrinth of rooms, taking lefts, rights, going straight and having to backtrack when reaching dead-end rooms.
To their surprise every single room is equipped with beds, small table drawers and closets, and what's more, everything is incredibly spotless.
"Man, I wish my room was this clean," comments the tengu girl after passing through yet another single-bedded room.
"Well you really have no excuse for not cleaning it yourself," casually replies the satori youkai.
"Tch, read my mind girl! I'm too busy writing and printing my paper!" snaps the embarrassed reporter.
Satori covers her mouth with her hand as she giggles to herself, then says "right, right. You are a very busy girl."
As they walk past yet another room Aya proudly says "damned right," and as they head straight to the next door she confidently adds "and once we solve this incident I am going to write everything down, print the best pictures. I... I'll even write a whole article on how awesome you really are, so people will stop fearing you!"
She blushes after saying something as embarrassing as that, but that's what she truly means, and this tengu is obsessed with the truth and sees no reason to lie about it.
The mind-reader is also blushing, but decides to reserve any comments as they walk into the next room, this one adorned with a shelf and ornaments instead of a scroll.
"Dammit, another dead end," roars the crow girl in frustration, then quickly turns around and flatly says "come on, let's try that other door those three rooms ago."
That's when Satori notices the small green box on the left side of the bed with a note resting against it and asks "wait, what's that over there?"
Aya steps aside to allow her friend through while saying "um, m-maybe we shouldn't linger. I mean, we haven't seen a single person, or zombie, thank goodness, this whole time. M-might be a tra-"
"This is from Koishi!" exclaims the mind-reader while looking at the tengu and showing her the letter and exclaiming "she was here!"
Before the reporter can say anything else she reads the letter out loud.
After you, Orin and Okuu left it got very boring back at home, so I came after you.
I don't know where you guys went and searched EVERYWHERE and didn't find any of you, but I kept looking for you, and wouldn't you know it, all the humans and youkai up here are walking corpses.
Orin must be having the time of her LIFE.
Or maybe not. These things are dangerous, and even with my powers some of them see me and attack me without me doing anything to them. So rude.
Anyway, I somehow found you here after I flew up to the deck, but you were sleeping the whole time.
Seriously sis, three whole days of waiting, eating hot meals, taking warm baths, sleeping on a soft bed, and you still kept on sleeping.
Hey, I saw that tengu girl with you, but where are Orin and Okuu at?
Satori stops reading the letter to look at Aya and whispers "three days."
The black-haired girl with a quarter of a shirt missing gulps and says "best hurry so we can get out of here. Now I'm REALLY getting a bad feeling," then she starts looking around the room while her partner reads the rest of the letter.
But whatever. Maybe they went on to have their fun while you explored this new place; and you made a new friend, so that's good.
Now then, I am sure you must be jumping all around and dropping those stupid sandals of yours all over the place, so I left you a little gift here.
It's my boots sis! You can use them all you want, but I want them back as soon as you get back home.
Now, if we could do something about that eye of yours.
I'm telling you, you'd be so happy with that thing closed.
Um, anyway, I am not feeling so well, so I am going back home.
Please come back soon. It's so boring down there without you, and I don't like it up here anymore.
The purple-haired satori holds her sister's letter against her chest and takes a deep breath before turning to the green box and opening it to find Koishi's brown buckle boots in them.
Ignoring her tengu friend, who tinkers with the odd wooden ornaments on the only shelf on the room, she takes the boots with a heavy heart and promptly switches her sandals for them.
A perfect fit. She wiggles her toes inside their new covers and cries "l-look Miss Aya. N-no more slipping sandals. Heh heh."
The tengu smiles with sympathy for her friend and says "th-that's good. You, um, better thank your sister when we, er, see her," then she accidentally breaks the neck of what looks like a wooden horse made of cones.
An awkward silence takes the room, and before either girl can speak, the floor beneath them rumbles, and some heavy and loud clanks are heard coming from outside the rooms, then suddenly stop.
Satori quickly rushes to Aya, stuffs her sandals inside her friend's backpack and says "Koishi is out there! We've been here for at least three days! Who knows, maybe more," and manages to store her sister's letter in her own backpack.
The black-haired reporter is already opening the door back outside as she bravely says "right. We get the heck out of here and search for your sis-"
But before she can finish her sentence her satori friend pulls her shoulder and looks at her in the eyes.
There's no need to be a mind reader to tell what she wants to say.
The letter clearly says Koishi was feeling sick, and that can only mean one thing, but out of respect the tengu will neither say it nor think it, and just nods before exiting the room.
The girls go back the three rooms they went through before, but are surprised that instead of finding the room with a third door, they find themselves in the narrow corridor's far end.
On the dead-end wall to their right is a small black vent from where some faint voices can be heard, along with some soft whooshing; a possible way out.
"Sh-should we?" nervously asks Satori.
Aya gulps, wanting to turn away and find another way, but she sighs in defeat and says "it could be the way out my friend. We have no choice."
The mind-reader sighs and says "yeah, I thought the same. Um, have... your camera ready. I'm starting to get that dreadful feeling."
The tengu already holds the digital camera on her hand and smiles as she says "I was going to suggest just that."
Without saying another word the brave crow girl crawls into the dark vent, followed promptly by her satori friend, and moments after they are inside the opening to the vent closes on its own, thus forward is the only way to go for the nervous live girls.
They crawl forward for what feels like ten, maybe even fifteen minutes, and still the voices sound faint, though Aya thinks they are getting closer.
The only thing leading them through that dark vent is a small light at its end, and finally it has started to grow as they keep moving forward.
Finally, they reach the end of the vent, where the surface of the narrow trail is covered by a viscous substance.
"Eugh, what the hell is this?" questions the disgusted tengu girl as she looks at the black slime clinging on her hands and knees, visible thanks to the warm light entering through the vent's hole.
"Guh, I don't know," whispers Satori, "just hurry and get us out of here please."
The black-haired girl nods and rushes to the vent's exit, only to fall through a trap door and slide down a slimy fleshy surface into a dark balcony-like room, suppressing her desire to scream for some felt reason.
As she recovers herself and stands up, she notices her partner fell right behind her, but before either speaks the mind-reader shushes and points toward the nearest window, where the source of the voices from before comes from.
The floor and the walls on the large balcony are covered with a bumpy and fleshy substance that's covered in some sort of greenish slime and spews an odd and sticky fluid when punctured or stepped on hard, mostly evident on the spot where the girls fell on.
As Aya and Satori look down the window, they are shocked at the sight, and then cover their eyes as a man screams, gurgles and coughs along with a disturbing ripping sound, then silence once again.
Several floors below them are the zombies Byakuren, Minamitsu, Ichirin, and Nue, and in front of them are several humanoid figures chained by their wrists and ankles, stripped out of most of their clothes.
The massive room looks like a large stadium with a bloodstained platform in the middle and surrounded by the same fleshy surface as the balcony.
The majority of those chained figures have been recently killed, their skins ripped off while they were alive, obvious from the agonizing looks on their frozen faces, while some seem to be just about ready to wake up as zombies, twitching occasionally at times.
Minamitsu Murasa stands beside the zombie monk, her eyes have shrunk, the skin around them have taken over most of her ocular orbs, and now have a vile look to them.
Her head has a small hole where a mass of flesh can be seen pouring out, her shirt is now blackish-red from all the blood, her skin has turned grey and has shriveled up, yet remains slimy to the eyes.
Nue Houjuu sits on the backrest of a bench with her back turned to the girls, and has the whole right side of her body exposed, her rotting skin is covered with black fungus, her nails look dangerously sharp, the left side of her hair looks grey, and when she looks back and snarls at nothing in particular, the girls can see the right side of her face is nothing but a hole, while the left side remains functional.
Her eye is a blood-dripping red orb hanging from a brown and slimy skin-thread and dangles dangerously close to her long forked tongue, and only her right-side red blade-like wings remain on her back.
The girls watch in horror as zombie Byakuren finishes ripping the skin off a human male, who was just murdered with a wooden stake on the heart like some vampire.
The zombie monk sighs, then says "alright ladies, two more naughty guests and we'll have enough to lasts us a month," and after a giggle she adds "we won't have to kill any more survivors for THAT long!"
Her monstrous girls, save for Ichirin, all seem to cheer and raise their fists in the air in celebration, and then the chains that hold the last two humanoid beings move as though linked to a machine that just cannot be seen.
One is a single-horned male oni with blue skin whose horn seems to have been broken off recently and stabbed through his very own stomach, leaving him too weak and powerless to defend himself.
The other is a beautiful female vixen youkai who looks strong enough to fight, yet can't break free from her bindings, no matter how hard she tries.
Both have been stripped down, and the vixen uses her tail to cover her lower regions, though after looking at those that died before her, it has become obvious covering up is no longer a prime concern.
Byakuren walks to the vixen and sweetly says "ah, my beautiful little fox. I warned you several times to please not raid the kitchen. I am so sorry, but you will have to be punished."
The youkai girl grunts and roars after one final attempt to escape, then shouts "you're a FREAK! MAD FREAKS! Why did you strip me? Are you perverts too? LET ME GO SO I CAN KILL YOU, you sick BITCHES!"
A rusty anchor slams across the vixen's chest and abdomen, leaving a bloody gash so deep her broken bones lay bare to plain sight, thus killing the poor girl before Byakuren had the chance to punish her.
"Mini-chan~" sweetly sings the undead Youkhrist as she walks over to the zombie captain, and threateningly says "we do NOT kill guests until AFTER their punishment as been served. Did I make myself clear?"
That fiercely vile look on the zombie captain's face turns pitiful when the undead girl nervously shakes her head then quickly nods to fix her mistake.
The zombie monk cracks a smile and walks away, grabs the vixen by her shoulders, sinks her deceivingly harmless-looking claws into her skin, and in a swift move she pulls with all her might.
Aya and Satori both cover their mouths to suppress the yelps of fright as they drop to the squishy ground to look away from the horrifying sight, yet they can still hear the horrible ripping sound echo all over the large room.
Their eyes remain frozen wide in shock, though they suppressed their yelps they cannot help but breathe rapidly through their mouths, whimpering uncontrollably as they do so.
Down on the bloody room below zombie Byakuren sighs and mutters "more naughty guests wandering too far," then looks up at the fleshy balconies and commands "Shou, Nazrin, be a couple of good girls and subdue the tengu and the mind-reader. We're going to have to punish them too."
The girls on the high rooms stand up and look out the window, gazing with horror back at the girls from below who snarl and hiss back at them.
"We have to get the HELL OUT OF HERE!" shouts Satori.
"TOO LATE!" shouts Aya, jumping toward her friend and tackling her to the ground and avoiding a thin black object swung with precision and strength at their heads.
They quickly stand up with their flashing weapons on hand, several torches magically light up, and now they can see their attackers easily.
Shou Toramaru and Nazrin, who rides on her master's back both have dry and shriveled brown skins, glowing white orbs for eyes, feral faces, and both have their hair and clothes intact.
The zombie tiger youkai with a feral face roars as she rises on her legs, revealing a large hole that goes through her stomach and back, then drops back down on all four and snarls like a wild beast with sharp yellow fangs and long, sharp red claws.
To their surprise, the zombie mouse with the long and dangerously sharp front teeth isn't just riding on the tiger's back, but instead has merged on the girl, and holds her dowsing rods as one would hold a deadly weapon.
She screeches and snarls, then says "bad guests! Punish by MASTER!" while swinging her dowsing rods with dangerous precision and speed.
Aya presses the button on her camera and flashes the monsters before her, making them flinch and scratch their eyes, then she looks around and shouts "I don't see any exits!"
Satori takes her third eye and flashes the zombie girls with a powerful flash that allows her and her friend to see an open door right behind the monster, then shouts "she's guarding the way out!"
All the lights turn back off, leaving very limited visibility thanks to the lights from the room outside, however it's dark enough for the mutant youkai to hide.
"Wh-where is she?" nervously asks the tengu while looking around herself.
The satori youkai takes a few slow and quiet steps back on the fleshy ground, looking around herself and her partner for that monster, then ducks to avoid a black rod and flashes toward its source twice, and shouts "it's trying to get behind us!"
The monster roars and take several audible steps back, then their eyes start glowing red, giving away their position, though just barely.
The set of eyes stop moving on what appears to be the wall and just stays there, in clear view and unprotected from the girls' flashes.
Just as they are about to take this opportunity the girls stop, raise an eyebrow, then simultaneously ask "what's that?"
There is a strange fluttering sound getting closer rapidly, and the girls instinctively drop on their stomachs on that squishy fleshy floor to avoid one spinning dowsing rod flying in the air, aimed at their necks.
The black rod sticks on the fleshy wall behind the girls, and looking at it with surprise the tengu girls shouts "oh shit! We gotta take them out FAST!"
"I agree," exclaims Satori as she gets back up, "the others are on their way here! We have to hurry!"
Aya nods, bends her knees, then dashes toward the monsters, making sure she's as close as she can be before clicking that shutter and flashing the beasts, getting a perfectly centered shot out of that.
"Awesome, this one's front page quality for sure," happily cheers the reporter as she retreats from zombie Nazrin's reach.
"Don't get too overconfident! Remember what happens whenever that happens," warns the mind-reader as she starts moving forward.
Zombie Shou spots Satori moving toward her and jumps off the wall and rushes to her, roaring and baring her fangs and claws at her prey, aiming to claw her open with a single swing.
Seeing the attack coming before her friend, Aya rushes to her and takes a blinding photo of the monsters, forcing the zombie tiger to miss her mark and roar as she falls to the floor and skids her face on the fleshy floor, staining herself with the black fluid said flooring spews whenever harmed.
"Are you alright Satori?" hurriedly asks the worried bird, to which the purple-haired youkai nods and replies "thank you. I almost didn't see that coming."
Aya raises an eyebrow and says "um, sure you did. Now let's finish them off before they get back up!"
The girls run toward the monsters and flash them mercilessly, not allowing Shou to get back up or Nazrin to swing that remaining rod of hers, and after a tenth and final flash both zombies gurgle and stiffen, their eyes shut off, and blood from their mouths mixes with the black fluid that prevented their movement.
The two friends look at each other before looking at the zombies once more, then Aya takes off as the room lights up again, calling "come on! I'm sure Byakuren and her grunts are already waiting for us."
Satori stares at the monstrous mouse, takes the South and East rod from her stiff hands, then runs after her friend, calling back "hey, wait for me! And don't rush now! We need a plan!"
She easily catches up to the crow girl as she stands in place with her mouth agape, and says "oh my. This. is not good."
Aya looks at the mind-reader, closes her eyes and lets a whimper escape her, then cries "this is just no fair!"
The open door leads straight back to the room corridors, and though the girls knew they were going to have to run through the small maze once again, they never expected a spell would be placed there to confuse them.
The corridor itself seems to twist like a corkscrew, some rooms are upside down, others seems to be clinging on the walls, and the rest that seem to be normal also appear to hold nasty surprises within, evident when through the paper doors they can see fairies and other creatures moving about.
Both tengu and satori sigh simultaneously, then the mind-reader reluctantly says "come on. We don't have a choice, if we want to escape."
And so, without much of a choice, they move inside the twisted rooms in hopes to reach their freedom.
As the girls advance through the magically enhanced rooms and corridors, they are met with zombie fairies and humans, and a few mutated undead youkai.
"Where to?" shouts Aya, ducking to avoid a craw-swipe from a red human zombie.
Satori flashes the monster twice and finishes it off, swings the dowsing rod and cuts a zombie fairy in half, making her spill her innards all over the floor, then flashes the deceased being and says "it's tugging left now!"
So far, the dowsing rod has been helpful enough to keep them from going into dead-ends or avoid unnecessary confrontations, and though not a hundred percent trusting of it, they see no other choice than to follow where it's pulling to.
"I hope that thing's really leading us outside! And I think I need to delete a few photos from here again," shouts the tengu as she takes the photo of an odd creature that looks like a fleshy booger with eyeballs and a mouth that hangs from a hole on the wall.
The creature sizzles after being flashed and turns into a mass of goop, allowing the girls passage through the door toward the next corridor.
Though the girls are currently upside-down to them the floor feels normal, and as they move through the corckscerwing corridor they fail to feel any sense of displacement or loss of bearings.
"Over there! That door," declares the mind-reader as they get closer to a solid wooden door the same color as the rest of the wall, which only distinguishable trait is the golden knob on it.
Shameimaru grins wide and exclaims "that's it! It has to be the exit!"
Both girls scream when the walls beside the corridor bursts open, though Aya is quick enough to grab her friend and pull her to a stop.
"Phew, thank you," sighs Satori, to which her friend scornfully replies "don't thank me yet. We got company."
Blocking their path are two of those cat-like two-headed boars and a bulky zombie human with grey skin that spits purple ooze as it moans.
The girls prepare to fight, but before they even begin, "SHAMEIMARUUUU BIIIIIIIIITCH!" the terrifying scream of Hatate rings close, coming accompanied by the sound of cracking walls and crashing ornaments.
The reporter's eyes twitch along with her shoulders upon hearing that voice again, yet she still glowers as she looks around for the source of the voice with those fearful eyes and roars "that damned BITCH! She's still after me!"
"They're on the move," shouts Satori, and she and Aya quickly jump away from a tackle from that burly zombie at the same time they flash it, making it roar and back away.
Immediately after they touch the ground again they flash the oncoming clawed boars, which roar, moan and hiss as they continue their blind charge, crashing against each other when the girls move out of their way and allow them to continue their march.
Knowing they aren't down yet, Shameimaru turns around while Komeiji takes on the bulky zombie on her own.
The tengu flashes the monsters twice and they fall without making another sound, and then she remembers how they fake their own deaths from that experience in front of Alice's house.
She takes her fan and traps them both inside brief, but strong gust of wind, forcing them to squeal out of surprise, grins after outsmarting those creatures, then flashes them five more times until their bodies break apart into several bloody pieces on the floor.
"Augh! Some help please?" calls Satori after being pushed back on her butt after the burly zombie smacks her with the back of its large hand on the chest.
Aya gasps as she turns around, blindly rushes toward the creature, and jumps while aiming a geta to the face as she growls "don't you dare touch her, you fucking creep!"
The very second the platform of her sandal makes contact with the monster's caved nose the reporter takes several pictures, flashing it to its temporary death and disintegrating the viscous reddish-black poison that explodes from its now crushed-in face.
As shocked as she is, the satori maiden adds her own flash to her partner's while thinking "wait a minute, what just happened? Did Aya just come to save me? Not just out of fear of being alone, but because she... N-no, I must have thought that myself. She's a surface dweller."
The tengu reporter turns her neck to look at Satori and asks "are you alright? Did it hurt you?"
The purple-haired girl stares in shock, unable to believe this up-worlder crow is genuinely worried about her, yet she manages to nod and accepts her friend's helping hand even though still frozen with surprise.
After helping her mind-reading friend dust herself, the reporter points at the camouflaged door with her thumb, smiles and says "come on. It'll be better if Hatate doesn't find us."
After another absent-minded nod from Satori, the mind-reader and Aya move to the door, quickly open it up and enter it without a second thought.
They have now successfully escaped the twisted maze, but now they may be wanting to go back.
They are now inside a large storeroom, though it is empty save for the horrifying monster in the very center of said room.
A smelly, fleshy worm-like monster that drips its vile skin as though it's made of slime, wobbles and wriggles furiously, gurgling and blubbering as large tentacles rise from the base of its cylindrical body.
The hideous creature's slimy dripping flesh keeps rotting off and regenerating, the smell it emanate would knock a human unconscious, but what has Aya whimpering like a human child on the floor and cornering herself against the wall with a blue face, is the face of Momiji Inubashiri frowning sadly at her from the creatures body.
Her arms and legs are spread open, her back seems to have merged with the monster's skin, and as she looks at her tengu comrade she moans "whyyyyy did youuu abandon meeeeee? Youuuu betrayed us alllll."
"NO," screams the crow tengu, desperate and begging for this to stop.
Satori stands firmly in place, staring straight at the creature, then scowls.
She closes her eyes for a brief moment and opens them again, and then she sighs as she kneels beside her friend, covers her eyes with her own hand, and then softly says "Aya, it's me, Satori. Listen to me carefully. What you are seeing is not true."
Still disturbed, the reporter stammers before finally asking "what do you mean? M-Momiji! Th-the Tengu-!"
"Shh, shh, it's alright Miss Aya. That is no worm, nor a Tengu comrade of yours," softly says the mind-reading girl before getting closer to the black-haired girl's ear and whispering "that is a nue, the nue youkai you saw with Byakuren earlier. She's using your fears against you."
She slowly uncovers the tengu girl's eyes as she says "and now that you know and understand this, what do you see?"
And just like Satori said, instead of the horrid worm with Momiji as an adornment, on the center of the room is Nue Houjuu, glaring back with that replaced reddish left eye and snarling, trying to frighten the girls with another illusion, even though her own appearance is enough to unsettle them.
Aya slowly calms down enough to stop whimpering and stand, and after she recovers enough she whispers "th-that's a nasty trick. Tha-that bitch."
Helping her friend stand, Satori sighs again and says "let's take her down and move on. She doesn't seem that troublesome without her powers working."
The tengu reporter grins, even though still shivering she manages to stand on her own and lift her camera, and just as she's about to take the picture the door to their rights bursts open and the screaming zombie tengu, Hatate Himekaidou, walks into the room and hisses at the zombie nue.
The two zombies hiss and roar at each other, shooting glances at the staring living girls, as though arguing over them, and Aya Shameimaru, being the reporter she is, sees a great shot for her paper right there in front of her.
Before Satori can stop her the tengu reporter takes the photo and the purple-haired girl face palms, yet the reaction to the tengu's action is unexpectedly welcome.
Nue roars, Hatate shrieks, and before long the two zombie girls are at each other's necks, biting off pieces of each other, tearing at each other with their claws, and being extremely loud while at it.
As the blood and pieces of flesh fly around the room the living tengu girl grabs her satori friend's hand and runs around the room toward the door behind the nue, swiftly goes through it, and closes it.
After taking a few quick breaths Satori says "hah, these boots. certainly make a. a difference! They won't fall off."
Aya smiles, sighs loudly, then says "then let's be sure to thank you sister when we-," and she stops after realizing what she had just said.
Maybe she ignored the black-haired girl, or maybe the satori girl is faking it, but the purple-haired youkai looks around their surrounding as though not listening to her friend and says "looks like we're in the kitchen."
The reporter gasps when, aside from a few questionable mounds of rotting meat on a single table, she gazes upon fresh fruits, vegetables, sacks of rice, bottles of sake, boxes of tea leaves, and even a few plates of dessert cake and cookies placed on a large wooden counter.
After absorbing in the data or their surroundings the tengu girl sighs in delight and says "we're in heaven!"
The mind reader face-palms once again as she shakes her head, then sighs "ah, beasts and food. It's always about the food."
In a matter of minutes the girls have stuffed their backpacks with as much food as they can fit, and Aya, being a tengu, has drunk a whole bottle of sake by herself, and is trying to stuff a second bottle into her backpack, however the space is too limited and has to leave it.
"A pity we can't increase their size somehow," softly says Satori as she closes her backpack after taking one last bite off an apple.
There is a moment of pause as the girls reequip themselves with their newly-filled backpacks and smile at each other after glancing over one another.
After the satori youkai picks the dowsing rod from her side, she turns around and says "come on. We spent more than enough time in here and those monsters might-" she turns around to her friend when she sees doubtful thoughts crossing her mind and asks "what's the matter Miss Aya?"
"P-please call me Aya. We're friends after all," answers the black-haired girl, and after the mind-reader nods the tengu asks "you saw what I saw because of that nue, right? Satori, is that how you felt when I mentioned... her?"
The mind-reader turns around and softly says "let's get a move on," but just as she takes that first step, her tengu friend grabs her shoulder and demands "I must know!"
The sleeved-sleeveless mind-reader sighs, places her hand on her friend's without looking back and says "yes, it hurt almost as much, but Aya you must understand something."
She takes her friend's hand off and turns around to look at her as she continues "maybe it's because of that long sleep, but I have finally come to understand that we will not see our loved ones as long as we don't deal with this incident."
"It hurts, but I must accept the fact that Koishi and all those I care for have turned into those monsters, the same way you have accepted this as a fact, Mi-um, Aya."
The black-haired reporter looks down to hide her eyes as she says "I still don't want to believe that Satori-chan, but you are right. The way things are now, it's best we accept that fact. But I'm still so scared."
Komeiji smiles as she places her hand on her reporter friend's cheek and gently scratches the side of her ear, making the girl smile and moan in bliss, and thinks "te-heh, found this birdie's scratch point. Same as Okuu's. Ahh, this should calm her down."
The door to the front bursts open and the girls quickly jump into attack positions aiming their flashing weapons toward the source of the noise, but quickly raise an eyebrow in wonder, then the tengu says "you're that guy that brought us that delicious food earlier."
The man walks past the door and the girls like some sort of robot and heads straight to the cabinet to prepare the next meal, and though apparently stuck in his own world he speaks strongly and with urgency.
"You're out of the maze. Good. Now get the hell out of here before the captain finds you."
At first the girls think he is being rude, but quickly discard that thought and want to ask him to come with them, but as though reading their minds, while still working diligently like some android, he speaks again.
"Thank you for your kindness, but it's of no use. I am bound by a curse, and if for some reason that monk doesn't find me useful, she's going to burst my heart."
"Wh-what if we kill her? Can't you escape then?" concernedly asks Satori.
The man finally turns his head, acknowledging the girls for a second before returning to chopping vegetables, and then says "if she dies the majority of the still-living here will die along with her. Your kindness is inspiring, but I'm afraid it's misplaced. You are still free. You MUST get out while you still can!"
Aya takes a step closer to the man and asks "but isn't there anything we-?" but before she finishes the man raises his knife at her and threateningly says "if you don't leave in forty seconds I will have to raise the alarm, or she will kill me, do you understand?"
Both girls take one step away from the man, and after the tengu nods they both rush out the door he came through, and from the kitchen the man loudly says "may the spirits bless you for as long as they can."
As they run through the next corridor, this one dark and narrow and full of barrels and lumber on the sides, the black-haired reporter glances back at her partner and asks "if we can't kill Byakuren, how are we supposed to get out of here?"
The mind-reader shakes her head and loudly replies "that woman has really thought this through! We're going to have to do our best not to kill her, but..."
Without needing to read her friend's mind the crow girl scowls and says "yeah, I know. We might not have a choice in the end."
Aya and Satori both skid to a stop with terrified looks on their faces when they see Ichirin, standing only ten feet away, glowing faintly in the darkness.
"Oh shit, what do we do?" desperately asks the tengu.
The satori gulps and whispers "we can't let her get close. Aya, what should we do?"
The zombie girl stands in place, looking sadly at the girls as she moans softly, then she lifts her hands to waist-height and starts walking slowly toward them.
The crow reporter starts muttering under her breath as she hurriedly explores the digital camera while zombie Ichirin continues her march forward, moaning almost friendly-like and raising her hands as though welcoming the girls.
Aya cheers to herself, a spell card appears on her right hand, and then she looks back at Satori and says "if this doesn't work, I'm going to rush her. Wake me up if I fall."
Before the mind-reader can even question her friend, said tengu raises her spell card and declares "Digital Telescoping, Candid Flash!"
A large, semi-transparent rectangular frame appears before the lens of the digital camera, and as Aya tinkers with some buttons that frame stretches over toward Ichirin, and just as the frame covers the zombie girl, the tengu reporter takes the shot that sends a flash in the form of a beam that trails visibly through the space between the girls and the zombie.
The zombie girl can see the beam and understands what it means if it touches her, but instead of running or trying to dodge, she raises her arms in a welcoming manner, her lower lips shapes a smile, and she closes her eyes as the beam strikes her between the eyes and bursts with a powerful light.
When the light fades the girls stare in awe at the fallen body of the zombie, then Satori asks "did she... did she just do what I think I did?"
Feeling a little depressed, the tengu reporter gulps and softly says "we did her a favor, it seems."
There is a brief moment of pause and silence for Ichirin, then the girls take off once more, hoping to reach the ship's exit and a way down without having to confront Byakuren, for fear of those still alive left on board.
In order to conserve energy, the girls run slowly toward what they hope is the exit of the inside of this large ship, and after three minutes or so, they reach a door with a faint light glowing form outside it.
Since it's so dark in the corridor, the bit of light shining through that door seems blinding.
"This is it," eagerly says Aya as she reaches for the doorknob.
Satori holds her arm and asks "wait, do you hear that? It's coming from outside."
Powerful gusts of wind come accompanied by the sound of heavy droplets, as well as marching footsteps and lights blasts.
The tired reporter gulps before flatly saying "great. There seems to be a storm waiting for us out there, along with an undead army."
The satori maiden sighs, rubs her forehead, and then reluctantly says "well, we're going to have to fight. We, um, better get ready."
Aya is already deleting pictures from the digital camera as fast as she can, so Satori takes the chance to close her eyes, breathe and summon the courage and energy she's going to need when that door opens.
Resigned to their fate, the girls look at each other and nod when ready, then the black-haired crow girl opens the door.
Just as they expected, outside the ship's bowels, the skies are dark as a powerful storm keeps hitting the ship hard, and on the other side of the thick curtain of rain is a small army of undead monsters; humans, fairies, ghouls, and even tainted spirits.
The still-living girls take a deep breath and take their fated steps forward, holding their flashing items on hand, Shameimaru surrounding her camera with a spell the makes it impermeable.
"Such naughty guests," says Byakuren from behind them, sitting on tops of the small roof above the door.
"And here I was, celebrating with the girls the fact that we had more than enough live flesh to sustain us for a while, and you go and wander where you should not have been."
"If you don't want to kill us," begins the tengu, who turns around and points at the zombie monk then shouts "then stop bothering us and let us go, you crazy bitch!"
"I'm afraid I can't do that," casually replies the woman, "because you're going to keep killing more undead brethren down there. You girls should not do those things. It's mean."
"Like HELL it is!" barks Satori, surprising even her partner.
"They don't belong down there! NONE OF YOU DO! Gensokyo is paradise for youkai and humans, not undead monsters that destroy everything and everyone!"
The purple-haired girl breathes furiously where she stands, shooting a very dirty glare at the zombie monk and obviously doing her best to suppress the urge to shoot her worst flash at the host's face.
The zombie Youkhrist sighs and shakes her head in disappointment, places her dripping right hand on her forehead and says "I see there is no reasoning with you; even if we were to promise you immortality at the price of your skin. A very cheap price mind you."
"Got to hell psycho bitch!" spits Aya.
The zombie woman stares down at her naughty guests, glares, then raises her left bony hand and says "Mini-chan, you may kill them."
A rusty anchor with sharpened edges falls between the girls, who yelp as they separate to avoid being killed and turn around to face the threat.
Zombie Minamitsu now hides behind the curtain of rain and minions that rush forth to kill the girls.
"So if we want to get to the captain," begins the tengu.
"We're going to have to mow down these numbers," finishes the mind-reader as she raises her third eye.
The first to get close enough are the zombie fairies, who fall fast and hard after one or two flashes from either living girl.
Those are quickly followed by the spirits, who take up to three flashes to take down, but flinch whenever flashed so it's no problem to the girls.
Next are the human zombies and the ghouls, and these, though very slow, take quite a lot to take down, and mixing in with their undead comrades Aya and Satori find themselves overwhelmed, yet not ready to give up.
The reporter dives on her stomach to avoid a human claw and a fairy bite and takes a shot that knocks down two fairies and forces a bleeding human zombie to back away from her.
The satori hops backward to avoid a tackle from a spirit, twirls right while moving back to avoid getting vomited by a ghoul, and when her back is against the wall from the entrance, she grins as she lifts her third eye and flashes, using her all.
After five ghouls fall and several spirits fizzle, zombie Byakuren, who remains watching from the small roof, concernedly calls "Murasa, you're needed!"
Before the zombie captain arrives Aya shouts "no choice! Flash-danmaku!"
Satori nods, she and her crow friend press their backs against each other, said crow pockets her camera and takes out her fan, and just as zombie Minamitsu appears above their heads with anchor on hand, they both unleash a hellish barrage of bullets made as bright as possible.
The countless monsters around them roar, screech and lament as the innumerable bullets explode on them with a powerful flash accompanying the usual blast.
The zombie captain can't back away on time and finds herself caught in the very center of the barrage of bullets, and her roar or pain is loud enough to rattle the wooden boards on the ship.
This roar comes accompanied by a second, more powerful roar that comes from around the ship, and when the girls look up at this new threat, they simultaneously say "oh no!"
Unzan is now a massive purple cloud of miasma, and other than his glowing purple eyes, everything about him looks the same as before.
Massive purple fists appear to the side of the ship and swiftly fly straight toward the girls, whom have no other choice than to stop their attack and jump for cover.
The thunderous sound the fists make when they make contact with each other scares the girls to scream, but as scared as they are they both stand up as quickly as they can and raise their flashing weapons.
Both are winded because of the concentrated bullets they were shooting just now.
The attack, though effective, consumes too much energy, and if the girls can't finish off their intended targets before having to stop, it meant they would be too tired to fight back for long.
"I wasn't expecting this!" shouts Aya at her friend, to which Satori shouts back "just a little more! Hold on a little longer!"
Several more fists appear beside the ship, and one is aimed straight at the satori youkai.
Noticing this, the speedy tengu rushes toward her friend and takes a picture of the fist, causing it to fizzle out and Unzan to roar out of pain.
After his other fists cause more thunder and the girls stop screaming, zombie Minamitsu rushes to said girls, accompanied by a curtain of droplet bullets and the few remaining zombies and spirits left active.
Aya and Satori quickly flash the oncoming attackers and manages to stop a few, but it's not enough, so they both run as fast as they can to look for cover.
The deck of the ship becomes an explosive mess when Unzan's fists mix with Minamitsu's attack, and now a thick cloud of smoke covers the entirety of the deck of the ship.
The smoke clears fast and Satori slowly stands up, clutching the black dowsing rod and using it for support and calling "Aya! Aya, are you alright? Speak to me!"
After the smoke clears, she is greeted by the sight of her tengu friend pinned down on the floor with a rusty anchor resting uncomfortably on her neck and the boot of the zombie captain pushing down on her right wrist, making her unable to move her camera.
Slowly, the remaining monsters get up, some with lost eyes and limbs, other with open torsos and broken bones, and all quickly turn their hateful glares at the satori.
To the right of the girl stands zombie Byakuren, who places her wet bony hand on the girl's bare right shoulder and says "I am going to make this very easy for you. Give up now, and you and your little friend can stay on this ship forever as our guests."
Satori looks distressed around herself; it's hopeless.
Aya is a push away from losing her head, and who knows what else, given the circumstances.
They are both surrounded by zombies, Unzan looks ready to strike at any moment, and any attempts to escape made by her will definitely end up in disaster.
The zombie monk loosens her grip on the mind-reader and says "I will sweeten the deal. We will kill your so-called friend here and rid you of her and her mistrust toward you."
Satori's light gasp makes Byakuren crack a smile and say "yes, I know all about it. Your younger sister read your subconscious minds while you slept. That girl over there hates you, just like all of those other surface dwellers. She blocks you so you can't read her heart, she uses you so she doesn't end up alone in this amazing new world. She will discard you when this is over Satori Komeiji."
Doubts about her crow tengu partner arise inside her mind.
It's true that the girl has been treating her like a very special friend, and has shown she truly cares about her well-being, but that has only been recently.
"What if this woman is right?" thinks the girl as she looks at her partner.
Aya whimpers "Satori," and wants to reach her friend, but the zombie captain prevents her from moving, then the satori maiden smiles.
"I can see it now. It's all clear," thinks the girl while looking around until she locks her eyes on zombie Minamitsu, then says "it's true that this girl has been giving me some grief with her selfishness, but..."
She turns around to take zombie Byakuren's arm off and keep her eyes on the monk, and continues "that was before, and this is now. Things have changed between us. So, I'm sorry but we'll have to decline your generous offer."
The monk's face cracks as she frowns, then says "I am so sorry to hear that. Well, I guess we'll just have to puni- What?"
Aya unleashes a battle cry as she swings her fan with her left arm and sends the zombie captain and a few other monsters flying several feet to the air and crash-landing on their heads, smashing them open on impact with the floor, and then jumps on her feet and starts running to the front of the deck.
Before the zombie monk can issue the command, Satori swings the black rod and smashes the "E" end of the black rod on her left temple, stabbing her and making her flinch, then turns around and flashes the single zombie fairy trying to stop her progress and quickly regroups with her friend away from the monsters and playfully says "trying to leave me behind I see."
The tengu stammers until she finally manages to say "I swear, I didn't! I just-"
Before she says any more she and the satori flash an incoming fist from Unzan, then resume their run, the mind-reader chuckling at the reporter's flustered face.
The girls run to the front of the deck as though their lives depended on it, flashing Unzan's fists whenever one gets too close, but as fast as they run they don't seem to be going anywhere.
At the end of a trail between the blood, guts, goop and bodies is Byakuren, muttering fast under her breath with that dowsing rod still lodged on her left temple.
"ARGH! That insane woman just won't let us go!" shouts Aya with frustration.
The girls stop their run as soon as Satori flashes two more fists from the Nyuudo and exclaims "no, we can't kill her! The survivors!"
"I know, I know," barks the furious reporter, who turns right to flash yet another fist and asks "then what should we do?"
"Use weak bullets. Should distract her long enough for us to reach that anchor chain," commands the mind-reader.
Just as the girls prepare to attack, Unzan's deafening and thunderous roar forces them to flinch and cover their ears, yet Aya fights the pain and shouts "SHOOT!" as loud as she possibly can in hopes that Satori hears her.
She does, and they both shoot fast bullets straight at the zombie monk.
The small waves hits the mark and Byakuren yelps and ducks for cover as the bullets explode around her, even knocking the black rod from her head.
It's their chance; the girls dash straight for that anchor, screaming as they do their best to avoid the Nyuudo's lasers and odd bullets, but not stopping, even for a second.
The edge is just three steps away when the tengu shouts "on three!"
"Three!" shouts the satori youkai, and both girls quickly hop over the rails and lands on the thick chains.
To their luck, the water from the storm hasn't made the chains slippery at all, so the first part of the descent is relatively easy for them, but as they go lower they realize the chain starts to angle and will eventually straighten, and just as the though crosses Aya, she and Satori find themselves clinging on to the chain for fear of a painful fall.
"Climb down, and FAST," exclaims the wingless crow girl, and now she and her partner climb down that chain as fast as they can without slipping.
The chain rattles and swings about violently, the two girls hold on tight to avoid falling, and when they look up they see a barrage of fists punching the chain and descending, followed by a set of fast lasers.
Satori gasps and shouts "let go," and she and Aya allow themselves to fall, even though they are still too high, and watch as a pair of fists crash right where they were a second before, making a thunderous noise and the chain jerk about violently.
The tengu manages to grab the chain during its swing and miraculously catches her mind-reading friend's wrist and pulls her along, saving both from what could have been a very painful crash-landing.
They continue their hurried descent down that chain until they look up and the purple-haired girl says "he stopped."
The reporter sighs with relief and says "I think they finally gave up! Now come on, you know what happens when we linger for too long."
The girl below the tengu nods and resumes the climb down to the ruined temple with haste, yet calm enough to avoid any unnecessary slipping.
Surprisingly enough, those long last minutes down the chain were uneventful, and after reaching the bottom they realize the state in which the Myouren Temple really is.
They are in the prayer room, and above it is the hole the anchor made when it crashed through.
The walls and the ceiling are covered with blood, some corners of the floors and walls seem to have been adorned with the guts of many unfortunate victims.
The benches and chairs, and even the statue of The Buddha are smashed to pieces, leaving a large clearing in the center of the room, and along with the pitch-black darkness inside the walls of the ruins come sounds of movement.
"We're not out of this yet," sternly comments the tengu reporter as she raises her camera and takes slow steps backward, and continues "we have to find the exit to this place and get the hell out of here. The sooner the better."
Five mutated rabbit youkai moan as they crawl from under the broken benches in the darkness of the room, all having humanoid forms with grotesque growths around the arms or heads, some have yellow crusts surrounding their eyes, others have only one blood-red eye, some have missing chunks of flesh and muscle from where their innards spill, dripping blood and other fluids on the ground, and all share a left arm that's a massive hook-like claw.
Both living girls whimper and gulp, then Satori whispers "this just won't stop."
Right after she says that, a figure breaks through the remainder of the ceiling, breaking what was left of the roof in the process, and crushes one of the rabbits when it lands.
The smoke clears quickly to reveal zombie Nue glaring back at them with that hateful left eye dangling under her scowl.
What's left of her face is full of scratches, the rest of her dress has been torn and ripped from the abdomen and shoulders, her exposed body is now full of holes and spills coagulated blood like crazy, and yet she snarls to show her newly grown and sharpened fangs and bares her still sharp-looking claws on her left hand while pointing her rusted trident with her right.
Aya gulps, whimpers while staring at the zombie nue, then asks "wh-what do you think happened to Hatate?" and before Satori can even shrug, from the west comes the familiar scream "BIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!" to which Shameimaru sighs and says "great, she's ahead of us."
"This is not time for joking around," whispers the terrified mind-reader as she looks around at the remaining four mutant rabbit youkai and at zombie Nue, well aware that she and her friend are tired from the battle before, and how they are unable to escape this next fight.
The rabbits pounce straight at the mind-reader while Nue attempts to stab the tengu with her trident, as well as summon several snakes to block her from reaching her friend.
Satori grunts after falling on her butt, yet flashes the two rabbits pouncing her from the front, managing to burn their skins and cause them to crash against the other two rabbits from behind her.
She quickly stands on her feet and flashes the rabbits while they stand up, but lowers her guard, and one of the rabbits grips her left ankle and pulls her violently.
She yelps and screams while being flung in the air like some rag doll, shoots a single bullet at the mutant rabbit's wrists, and though she breaks free after the hand and arm separate she still flies fast and crashes head-first against the dark wall.
"Satori-chan!" calls Aya while moving her feet around with haste at the same time she flashes zombie Nue to no avail.
The undefined zombie youkai girl doesn't even blink when flashed and continues thrusting her trident at her target, almost succeeding in skewering her arm several times.
Meanwhile Satori groans as she stands up and rubs a bleeding spot on her head, but it's so dark she's not sure if it's blood or rainwater.
Whatever it is, it's hurting her as hell, and every time that wound throbs she feels as though the ground moves sideways.
Regardless of how she feels she looks at her partner and shouts "don't worry about me Aya, I'll be with you soon!"
She's not sure if she's lying or not, but she is sure she is feeling mighty irritated and wants to take her frustration out on those rabbits, but when she scans around for them she cannot see them.
She decides to go help her crow friend, but notices the ground moving and quickly realizes what it is.
"Grr! These monsters are a pain," angrily mutters the girl while looking for some platform to stand up on, but it's too late and the closest mutant rises from below her feet and pushes her to the air.
Aya turns around when the mind-reader screams, and shouts "Satori-chan! I'm comi-URGH!", but having forgotten about Nue she is stabbed on the left side of the chest with the trident, and shortly after three snakes jump on her right calf and knock her on her knee after biting.
The reporter grunts, grabs the trident from her end, then looks up at the zombie nue with defiance and threateningly says "you're going to pay for that, insufferable bitch!"
She flashes the snakes and turns them all to dust, quickly grips the trident tight with both hands and pulls it off, then uses all the strength on her left arm to lift the nue to the air and swing her around.
After she feels she's picked enough momentum she releases the trident and sends Nue flying backward and unable to stop.
The zombie smashes against the wall, cracking it a bit upon impact, then her own trident's back end impales her and prevents her from falling, trapping her on the wall for Aya to flash without pause.
At the same time Satori roars furiously.
She's being flung over and over in the air as the brain-dead rabbits keep popping from beneath her to try and take a bite, but just bounce her back up when they push her with their forearms instead.
Furious, the mind reader grunts as she turns around to face the ground, then shouts "stop. screwing. around. WITH ME!"
Her last words come as a primal scream and her third eye glows along with her own purple eyes, but instead of an overpowered flash, five bright beams fly out from in front of the third eye and spread around the room, burning through the skin of the rabbits and bursting with blinding light from within them, breaking them into pieces in the process.
The fifth light flies straight through Aya and goes inside the zombie nue.
The tengu reporter grins, zombie Nue frowns, and when the speedy tengu sees the light within the zombie expand, she sings "say cheese~" and takes one last photo of Nue's half-face before she explodes into several bits that scatter around the room, to which Aya exclaims "whoa! That was pretty awesome!"
She runs straight to her mid-reading friend, calling "Satori-chan! Satori-chan, that was awesome!"
The purple-haired girl grunts with every furious breath she takes, and when the black-haired reporter is close she furiously shouts "I am NOT a damned BEACH BALL! Blasted brainless rabbits could give OKUU a run for her money in stupidity!"
Surprised of seeing her friend so angry, the tengu lifts her arms defensively, yet smiles as she says "whoa, Satori-chan, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take that long."
Satori's expression changes completely as she rubs Aya's head and sweetly says "oh, I'm not angry at you Aya-chan," and her voice and expression switches to aggravated once more when she looks at the upper-half of a temporarily dead rabbit, places her hands on her waist and says "it's these stupid mongrels! I am not a TOY!"
Both girls yelp when the blood from the rabbits and the nue start to sizzle and fume, then the tengu hurriedly says "alright, let's get out of here while we can! I'm not liking the looks of this!"
Nervous, the mind-reader nods and nervously adds "r-right! Follow me, I think I figured the way out!"
With that, they slowly make their way through the darkness behind from where they fought, and find a ruined door where the bit of light from the outside shines like a beacon.
Quite happy of finally being so close to freedom, the girls rush forward and tackle the door open.
The girls' faces turn blue when fear, despair and disappointment all mix together inside their hearts.
The door they just tackled open leads straight to the doorstep of a large graveyard that rests at the back of the temple.
"A *gulp* a graveyard," flatly says the tengu.
"Of all the rotten luck," whispers the satori at the point of tears.
Aya holds her friend by the shoulders and softly says "we walk around this veranda until we reach the front. Now come on."
Stiff, but compliant, Satori allows her friend to lead her through the wooden path.
Maybe it's the sound of the rain falling on the rocks and the grass, or perhaps it's because they are together, but by the time they reach the second outer corner of the temple both girls are so relaxed they both feel as though they are back in their homes, drinking tea and reading a book.
Regardless, when they reach that corner they both tense up again and the crow girls whispers "I'll take a peek. If something happens, take off to wherever is safest."
The youkai girl nods, then her tengu friend slowly moves to that corner.
She slowly peeks her head until her eye can see the next bit of path, and when everything seems to be in place she peeks the rest of her head.
While Aya looks through the corner, from inside the walls of the dark temple, Satori swears she hears the scratching of claws, quickly thinking of Orin when that familiar sound reaches her ears.
Before she can comment on the sound the tengu reporter sighs and says "just like this one. It's clear, we can move. And even better, I see the exit."
The mind-reader hurriedly pushes her friend while saying "great. That's great. No come on! There's something chasing us and I rather we be FAR away from it as we can be."
Now pulling the pushy youkai girl, Aya nods and moves fast toward the stairs, and halfway through a girl from behind shouts "A-HA! I knew it!"
The jumpy duo turn around and start flashing the source of the voice, but to their great annoyance, the greiysh-blue haired girl smiles and poses, then asks "what's this? Am I going to be in the news?"
Aya stops taking pictures and casually says "ah, it's the Jiang Shi, Yoshika Miyako if I'm right," then places her arm on Satori to stop her from further tiring herself out with unneeded flashing.
Yoshika, who wears a blue hat, a red shirt, a black skirt, and has a red and white seal on her pale-skinned forehead, stares back at the girls with an annoying casual look.
The zombie girl smiles and says "that is correct. But this is odd. Lately I've only seen other zombies. When I smelled living beings, I just HAD to come and- oh, hi there. Say, did you see some live beings around- oh, never mind."
Understandably surprised out of their breaths, the girls stare on and on at the pale-skinned girl, until Satori finally asks "so, you're not one of those disgusting zombies?"
Yoshika stares casually and asks "um, what? I'm not a zombie? But I thought I was."
Aya snaps out of her own shock and exclaims "NO! We mean, um, ok, the zombies around here seem to have really stinky rotting skin, but yours looks great in comparison. How come you're not affected by the crazy spell virus thingy?"
"Ah, that," casually answers the Jiang Shi, then takes a hop away from the girls, miraculously not falling off the veranda's edge behind her and says "but I'm already a zombie, so I can't turn into a zombie again. At least that's what the tasty lady in red and blue said."
"Eirin," whisper the girls, and that's when they notice the many human and fairy zombies with their hands extended in the air and hopping around the temple grounds like Yoshika.
The proud zombie girl smiles and says "she also asked me to bite a few of them but not eat them, and now they look pretty funny. Strange though, they've been like that for days. Should have worn off by now."
The estranged girls stare at each other, then turn those confused gazes back at Yoshika, then Satori smiles as she nervously says "well, um, thanks for your hard work. You should find a lot more of those things inside, so why don't you go in there and have a look?"
Aya quickly adds "we left the backdoor open for you," then subtly pulls her mind-reading friend toward the stairs leading to freedom.
The Jiang Shi stares with a smile, and then suddenly says "oh, the backdoor is open! Great, I get to eat inside now! Thanks!"
She immediately hops away from the girls to go inside the dark temple, then the two still-living girls look at each other and without saying a single word they both rush straight to those stairs, not caring that it's raining so violently.
As they run down those stairs and the rain beats on them without mercy, both girls feel their tension rise, even though there's no visible reason for them to be so tense.
They silently agree on moving faster, and although tired they quicken their pace.
As soon as they touch the ground below, a pair of shadows appear above the girls, who instinctively drop on the ground with a scream, and when they turn around to flash whatever was behind them they are surprised to only see the dark raining sky and the giant ship above them.
"Heheh, I think we're starting to get paranoid again," chuckles the nervous tengu.
The satori's reply is a stiff glance and a shivering nod, and then both girls stand up to be faced with a new danger.
In front of them are a couple of blurs, one large and the other relatively small, and yet both possess a faint glint that can't mean anything good for them.
The girls take warning shots at these blurs, but nothing changes, and now it seems they will have to turn back to that dark Myouren Temple.
Not wanting to turn around, Aya takes her fan and shouts "I'm not turning tail like some sparrow!" and swings that weapon of hers, sending a small but quick tornado at the blurs.
She succeeds in stopping the two creatures before they touch the visible wind gusts, and take a good look at their new attackers.
It's a pair of pitch-black nekomata, one in youkai form, the other in its cat form.
The humanoid is a female with long greyish-black hair, greenish eyes that continuously cry blood that mixes with the rainwater, her arms and hands are thin and long, her bony joints are visible through the tight dry skin, and her hunched backbone has sharp spikes on each vertebra.
The oversized cat youkai has raven-black fur where there's fur left, the top of its head looks like it's been scraped off, its eyes are two exposed grey orbs, the left side of its torso has a large hole where its remaining ribs poke out, and its left tail is completely rotten and has just enough skin to patch a few bits of the cylindrical bones.
Both nekomata hiss and roar like wild beasts, contorting those feral faces, both showing their elongated fangs and their perfectly sharpened claws, then launch straight at the girls.
Aya and Satori both grunt as they drop on their backs to avoid those sharp claws and flash the feral zombie cats, which roar and quickly run away.
The mind-reader quickly stands up to look at the two cats attacking them, then sighs with great relief and exclaims "it's not Orin! Oh thank the spirits!"
"They're coming back," declares Aya as she shoots another flash at the youkai cat.
Satori nods and sways left to avoid the black cat, then flashes it and shouts "they're fast but not very strong! Let's finish them and be off!"
Seems the nekomata understood what the purple-haired girl just said because they are now shooting deathly glares at the girls while keeping at a distance.
The live girls rush at the cats, catching them both by surprise, and all the zombies can do is screech before getting flashed on the faces and kicked on the stomachs against the surrounding wooden gate walls.
After one last flash the two cats twitch in mid air and smash into a bloody pulp of guts and bones against the walls, and though not proud of what she just did the satori maiden cheers weakly to join her tengu friend in celebration of a quick victory.
But that celebration is short lived, and both girls now find themselves in the grip of one revived zombie Nue, who has replaced her arms with that of the mutant rabbits, thin, long and oversized with just bits of grey fur on them.
Her left leg is also part of another mutant rabbit, but this one is just a bunch of muscles rotting away and dripping fleshy fluids that mix with the rainwater.
The zombie's face now has her normal left half with the bloody eye dangling under the socket, and a bloody right half made of two mutant rabbits, giving her a total of three red glowing eyes, but the rabbit's mouth is no good and just hangs agape while her left side roars normally.
She pulls the girls closer to her and first takes a bite off Aya's right arm, then takes another off Satori's right shoulder, then roars furiously at the ship above and starts smashing the girls alternately on the ground with her new powerful arms.
After being sure the girls are too weak to fight back she mercilessly throws both against the same wooden wall they just slammed the cats against, and where both of them hit so hard their weakened bodies almost break to pieces on impact.
The poor girls grimace and squirm slowly as the pain in their bodies sends several uncomfortable jolts back and forth, while from the distance Yoshika happily calls "wait! Wait, I'm still famished!"
Zombie Nue ignores the Jiang Shi and turns to snarl at the girls, reaches for both once again, squeezes both hard when she wraps her fingers around them, and just as both girls give up, that painful grip leaves both.
Aya grimaces again and breathes through her teeth, then moans "why the breasts dammit?"
When she looks to Satori and sees her in that state; one eye half-open and the other apparently lost, and not moving an inch, she moans as though crying and slowly moves toward her friend.
Meanwhile, zombie Nue and all her perfectly moving joints is no match for the powerful jaw of the Jiang Shi.
Yoshika has taken a bite of the left arm and though shaken, beaten, slammed and clawed, refuses to let go while contently saying "mm-mmm tashtes good! Rabbitsh ish dewisious!"
The abomination of a zombie screeches and screams as her new limbs are quickly devoured by another zombie, and now lies on the ground as one large lump of bleeding meat with half a head after Yoshika rips the rabbit-half of her face off with her teeth and devours it quite contently.
Nue frowns sadly at the state in which she was left in, however the frown disappears and is replaced by a flat expression, then she manages to balance herself on her own limbless torso and starts hopping around, just like the many zombie fairies, humans and odd mutations that start jumping out of the temple with their hands, if any, raised in front.
Aya has managed to sit up against the wall, spitting out blood and smiling at the Jiang Shi before groaning "you. work fast girl."
Yoshika turns her blood-covered face to the tengu girl, smiles, then says "hey, hey, I found a lot of tasty things in there. Some were not so tasty... and you know what? You look familiar."
The tengu reporter chuckles, spitting out the blood cursing her tongue, then says "yes, we are your friends, and you promised you would never eat us."
The zombie girl stares at the two girls on the ground, the rain cleaning her off the blood from her lips as she says "um, I did say that, didn't I? Then I'm going back in there. There are lots and lots of more tasty tings in there. Just wanted the rabbit."
She looks around as though having lost something, then exclaims "hey, where did the rabbit go? Argh, it went back inside! Sorry Miss and Miss, but I have to go! Rabbit is a rare delicacy! Bye!"
As she hops away Aya manages to stand up, though just barely, spits out one last blood goop from her mouth, then bends down to pick Satori while whispering "c-come on Satori-chan. I don't want to die here."
The purple-haired girl is a bit of a bloody mess, and as the crow tengu picks her up she softly whispers "sorry. so-sorry."
As Aya struggles to straighten up with her new load she grunts "what. are you talking. about?" and after straightening up and taking a relaxing breath, she adds "she broke a few of your ribs, so please try not to move so much."
And so she starts to make her way away from the temple's grounds with the satori maiden on her arms.
Her pace is very slow thanks to the damaged state her body is in, but of the two she is the only one that can even move, and so she slowly makes it to the outskirts of the Myouren Temple.
Above them, watching from the ship's deck, zombie Byakuren glares with contempt at the girls, and her energy seems to unsettle the few remaining zombies on her ship.
Zombie Minamitsu, who now has an even larger hole on her head she can't possibly cover, walks over to the zombie monk and moans.
The woman looks at her subordinate with a scornful scowl and says "no, forget about those fools. They refused the undying salvation and chose to face oblivion at the hands of the Master. She will set the two idiots straight!"
Calming down the zombie woman sighs and says "leave Nue down there. We have lost her to the Jiang Shi, but don't lose heart! Captain Murasa, set course! Destination, the next souls in need of salvation!"
With that, the zombie captain with her exposed bleeding brain salutes the monk, then the ship starts moving around in circles, its anchor still caught in the walls of the ruined temple, while zombie Byakuren stands firmly at the front of the deck, posing as though looking at the horizon with those popped-out eyes, when she's just looking at Gensokyo go round and round beneath her.
Even though reluctant to do so, Aya returns to the seemingly small hut near the Human Village, knowing she's going to need a bed and as many comforts as she can get, including medical supplies.
She manages to open the door and take Satori to her room, and sets her as gently as possible on that bed while carefully removing that stuffed backpack.
The heavy rains has cleaned most of the blood off the girls and their clothes, but they are still wet and in pain.
The mind-reader whimpers when those jolts of pain course through her body, but she's so weak she's unable to complain about it.
The tengu quickly takes off to close the front door and turn the lights back on, using quick bullets on the prepared oil lamps on the walls.
After the house is ready she weakly makes her way back to her friend and softly says "alright, I'm going to have to take these wet clothes off so you don't catch a cold. Wouldn't want that, right?"
As she reaches for that yellow heart-shaped button on her friend's shirt, Satori grips her friend's wrists, barely opens her tear-filled eyes, then cries "I'm so sorry. Such. a burden. I'll get. stronger. Forgive me."
Aya stares dumbstruck at her friend before smiling.
She places her hand on that soft and wet purple hair and softly says "I told you, it's alright. I'm not angry at all. I'm just happy you are alive. Besides, that mutated bitch caught us both by surprise, so stop blaming yourself."
Satori's breathing settles, a smile escapes her weak lips, and after gazing back at her friend she falls asleep with that smile stuck on her.
The black-haired reporter can't help but smile back and whisper "whomever this master is, we will make her pay for every single tear we shed and every single injury we lived through," then rubs her friend's hair and thinks "tee-he-he! Her hair is so soft. I'm really liking this. Ah, good thing she's asleep or I'd never hear the end of this."
Later that night, while the rain continues pounding on the ground outside, the girl's clothes are hung to dry on some strings hung around the walls and the ceiling of the hut.
The blood has been cleaned off the torn shirts, skirts and underwear, but the holes and tears can't be fixed, at least not by the reporter, who doesn't know much about sewing.
Inside her room, Aya covers herself with her bed's small blanket while looking through her digital camera, deleting unwanted photos and storing special ones inside the camera's main memory.
As she goes from picture to picture she comes across the pictures of those letters written in blood on the wall at Akyuu's mansion.
She skips through that and resumes deleting old unwanted photos, and then comes across the picture of Eientei's bloody wall letters.
She stares suspiciously at the pictures as the camera blips repeatedly as she goes back and forth between pictures, then she gasps and her covers slip off, revealing a nasty bruise on top of her left breast.
To be continued...
Characters, spell cards and scenarios belong to ZUN -Team Shanghai Alice-
Aya's "Digital Telescoping, Candid Flash" spell card was derived from "Telescoping, Candid Shot"
SEP 2 2011
I really enjoyed writing this chapter a lot, even if I DID make Byakuren and Nue into zombie villains. Heck, the whole UFO cast are now zombies, darn it! And know that I was NOT expecting to add Koishi just yet, but her participation made the story flow so perfectly, even if it was an indirect participation. As for Yoshika, I WAS wondering how to add her, and how would she be affected, if at all, by the virus-like spell, and I must admit that at first I was just gonna scrap the idea and NOT add any TD cast, but now... well I really enjoyed Yoshika's interaction. Poor Nue though. Oh, and that last bit of "fan-service" was intentional for two reasons. One, 'cause it's fan-service, and two, so we can all see the damage that girl has endured. Ah well, until next chapter. And no, Hatate's not stopping any time soon. Oh, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time fans MIGHT have noticed a small element from that game integrated in this chapter.