Warning, heavy cursing ahead!

Date XO/XX Nitori's Security Room

When we left that hut at the village, we really, truly believed we'd be inside the Scarlet Devil Mansion already, knocking down that accursed cauldron and all its contents to the ground and taking Gensokyo back. Instead we are in the Kappa Village being tended by Nitori, who is also somewhat transformed, yet keeps her mind functional; though a bit unsteady; with the help of a machine she created herself. I knew she was smart before, but maybe her mutation made her smarter? I'm not trying to insult her or anything like that. Just wondering since her creations usually backfired. Anyway, the reason we ended up here. Well, we didn't have to swim the Misty Lake; something I wasn't looking forward to; because, to my relief, it was frozen. Completely frozen. Of course, we were attacked by monsters there, but of all the creatures we've faced so far, none have even come close to this little bitch (save for Hatate, who comes somewhat close). Cirno's mutation prevented our flashes from reaching her skin or eyes because she has a shell of ice. I could only see the ones on her eyes, but her skin looked normal; that is until she started pulling moves like Meiling, the Mansion's gate guard, and had these thick sheets of ice grow over her skin and clothes. Well, she used those things to literally kick our asses and send us flying away, and after we landed I lost all my hope. Not just the fairy, but a thick wall of ice surrounds the island where that mansion is, preventing us from reaching, and after I saw that I just broke. Not even with Satori there with me could I feel any hope left. And then something else happened. We started hearing Byakuren's voice. The charm on my chest started burning, but I couldn't reach for it, then my back started hurting me, my heart felt like it exploded, and then everything turned dark. Later I learned Satori took down a yuki-onna on her own. Don't tell her this, but I was very impressed by that! Um, well anyway, after I woke up, we got surrounded by white wolves. They didn't even give me time to look at my small wings (which are actually good for jumping higher and gliding) that grew when Byakuren did whatever is it that she did to me, and then Hatate came and ate a piece of the yuki-onna, whose name is Letty Whiterock, and gained the ability to breathe ICE! That BITCH! Well, as we fought them, those wolves and that Hatate led us toward Minoriko. We had fought her sister earlier, but damn, this virus thingy affect even the gods. This is not good news. Well, we had a tough battle, but what surprised us was the white wolves' leader! He talked to us through telepathy and promised us he or his brood would never attack us, and that they would help us, but he did warn us there were some that will attack us. We will be careful about those. Well, after we released that wolf we went on until we reached the river, where we came across Hina! Seriously, she really scared me, but instead of sending only curses after us, she summoned this mist that took the form of other creatures, even Hatate, and they would trap us while the curse goddess kicked us around. I thought we were dead, especially when she started shooting death curses at us. But we beat her in the end, and met Nitori, who was mad at us for killing Hina, and told us many monsters will now become stronger. I felt my stomach churn there. Anyway, here we are now, under Nitori's care. She's even doing something to help us, but... Well, she's very kind, as usual, but her mind is messed up, and sometimes will scream and curse at us for no reason. She also has these dummies dressed like Marisa and suddenly beats them up. It's scary, but at least it's not us.

Outside the room, Aya can hear when Nitori goes through another rampage, and though the door muffles her screamed curses, the sounds of the bodies getting maimed and beaten enters clearly.

Satori wakes up because of the sound and looks around the room desperately while half asleep, and when she sees her friend she asks "what's that noise?"

"It's alright," softly says the black-haired girl. "It's just Nitori again. Go to back to sleep. We're safe here."

The purple-haired girl smiles at her friend, then moans contently while placing her head back on the pillow and sighs "mmm, this air conditioner makes this room so comfortable."

As the mind-reader falls back to sleep, Aya smiles lightly and softly says "yes, it is. Maybe I'll ask her to make one for us when all of this is over."

Satori moans as she moves about her bed, smiling and nodding as though acknowledging her friend, then smacks her lips and falls completely asleep again.

The sounds from outside have stopped as well, so the tengu returns her attention to the typewriter once more.

Well, seeing as we can't go through that ice wall, Satori and I decided we'll go over it. With that said, I am a little frightened because to do so, we have to climb the Youkai Mountain. I didn't want to. I truly didn't, but we are left with no other choice. Who knows what we'll find. No, I actually know what we'll find, but I'm so afraid. Still... if we can manage to keep away from certain areas, I am sure we won't have come across the Tengu Village. I don't know what I'll do if I see... my home as a zombie-infested wasteland. I have to admit, I'm not really fond of that place or its people, but... at the same time I am, and just thinking of what I may see puts my nerves on edge. I hope we don't have to even glance over there, but something tells me that is just wishful thinking from my part. Marisa, if you truly understood what you have done to us, I may forgive you someday.

The next morning, the girls wake up and moan as they stretch their arms with content faces, then the mind-reading girl looks at the clock and yawns "ten in the morning."

Aya stretches a bit more and after another moan she contently says "man, this room is so nice and cool. I could sleep for another hour or so."

From the door Nitori angrily says "well you better not, Miss Tengu. We have a dangerous mountain to climb, so please get ready," then slips a pair of trays from a mechanical opening under the door and demands "once you're done eating, I'll give you your things and we can move. Now HURRY UP!"

The girls look at each other with a bit of surprise, then the kappa angrily says "and if you haven't taken a bath yet, then TOUGH LUCK! S-sorry, sorry. J-just please, hurry up."

Again, the girls share estranged glances, but decide it's best to just eat and move on, and as they enjoy some rice with a few cucumber slices the tengu reporter chuckles and says "good thing we took a bath before sleeping."

Satori nods as she crunches on another piece of cucumber, thinking "this combination is not that bad."

With a mouth full of rice, her friend replies "I know. Who knew cucumber could go so well with rice.

"You read my mind again! How did you do it?" exclaims the purple-haired girl, to which the reporter just stares back in confusion and shrugs.

Three minutes later, from within the room the girls knock on the door thrice, and then Shameimaru calls "we're coming out! Is everything in check out there?"

From outside, the little kappa shouts "yeah. I'm calm now," then the mind-reading youkai presses the open button on the door and are immediately outside.

Nitori stands in front of her large working tables with her hood down and a straight face, and before the girls ask, she pulls a strange round metal casing with a glass center and a tiny led bulb on the top.

She walks over to the purple-haired youkai girl and says "with this thing on you'll be able to flash and use a lot more power, thus getting more of those tracking beams to do their job as well, without spending that much of your own energy."

Satori allows the kappa to place the comfortably snug armoring to her third eye while the inventor continues "in short, with this around your third eye, it will allow you to use five-hundred percent of your power, but using only one percent."

"The drawback?" quickly asks the tengu girl.

The green-skinned kappa glares at her guest, and then says "using one-hundred percent of her power could cause the machine to break and leave her defenseless for, oh, about an hour or two."

Aya stares with disbelief in her eyes, but her partner calmly says "Don't worry. I'll just use one percent, and if that's not enough, I'll use the same as before."

"Which was?" asks the black-haired girl.

"Ten percent," replies the calm mind reader.

The armor clicks, the led bulb turns blue, then Nitori looks at the girl and says "Blue, yellow and red. Those are the three colors it has. When that little light turns yellow, that means you have a strong foe near you. You should use that ten percent then."

"And if it turns red?" asks the satori youkai.

"Then that means you either have Cold Death on your ass, or an army of zombies around you," casually replies the kappa.

She turns to Aya and pulls her old camera from under her black robe and says "I can't work on this. The spirits inside would eat me, so save them for an enemy, OTHER than Cold Death, that cannot die with flashes."

The greenish kappa is met with a raised eyebrow and a confused stare, then says "just trust me; you don't want to use that all willy-nilly. It's very important you save them for later. Will you save them?"

The reporter nods, then the inventor says "good. Now this."

She pulls the digital camera from another pocket in her robe and happily says "but this little baby is a true thing of beauty."

The camera now has a large lens similar to the tengu's old camera, but the flash bulb looks bigger and cleaner, and there's a blinking led bulb similar to Satori's eye armor just above the small digital screen on the back of the contraption.

The proud inventor grins with delight as she says "from now on you can also shoot those beams like your satori friend here, without the need of that spell card, though if you want more beams and power, then please use it."

She hands over the camera so that Aya can explore it on her hands, then continues "that lens will allow you to lock on to the enemies on the camera's screen and send those beams straight at them," and whispers "I suggest you aim for the eyes."

She walks over back to her working table and says "the eyes, whether sockets or orbs or whatever, is our weak spot. Shoot there and we'll drop quickly."

She raises her right hand and points to the air and says "oh, and don't worry about running out of space for your pictures. I linked the camera's memory to my secure computer with a wireless transmitter. I should be able to store every single photo you take here, and when you're done with this incident you'll have endless stories for your newspaper. Oh, and you CAN access them from the camera."

Nitori starts picking up papers and blueprints while saying "right then. Let's get moving now. If we start right now we can reach the mountaintop before dark."

"Wait a minute," exclaims Satori. "Where are our backpacks?"

The kappa grins vilely, a glint escapes her right eye under her darkened face, then sinisterly says "I thought you'd never ask~"

The girls slowly raise their defenses when the green kappa girl starts rummaging around papers and mumbling about how she loves beating the hell out of the Marisa dummies.

The inventor exclaims "a-ha! Got them!" then presents the girls with a pair of cubes small enough to fit in their pockets, and sounding like her old self she happily says "here you go."

Aya and Satori slowly calm down, then the confused tengu points at the cubes and asks "so, what are those?"

Nitori thrusts the cubes on to the mind-reader's hands, turns a glowering face at the reporter, then furiously says "I don't know what the hell they are, but they are helpful you dumbass!"

She holds her head and walks in a circle while saying "sorry, sorry, so sorry! It's this thing in my... HEAAAAD!"

The bipolar girl rushes for her bat, dashes straight at her tied-up Marisa-cosplaying zombies, then smashes the first one on the head, and while smashing the rest on the ribs she shouts "gods, dammit all, the fucking WITCH! Marisa! I'm going to KILL YOU! ARRRRRRGH!"

While she keeps beating on the zombies and staining her whole self with their blood, the tengu and satori maiden explore the cubes, then the small-winged girl presses a button, a circular opening expands on top and reveals a white light from within, then her miniaturized bottle of sake springs out of it and floats on to her hand, then grows to its full size.

"Whoa," exclaims the girl, "it's like a magical container of sorts!"

The mind-reader nods and says "I think I have a book about a spell like that back home."

The greenish kappa breathes hard through her mouth after she's done with her beat-up session, and then says "it's not magic. I found about eight of these one day and been using them to keep my tools. They can hold a looooooot of things in there and fit in your pocket! Figured you would need them, so I'm lending them to you."

Satori smiles at the kappa and sweetly says "that is so kind of you Miss Nitori. Thank you so much."

Nitori's entire personality becomes like her old sweet self after hearing that wonderful compliment, and cupping her hands under her chin she bubbly says "you are most welcome my friends! Now come, come! We must start our climb!"

The kappa girl hums a song as she happily walks to the door, then Aya glances at Satori to her left and thinks "you've just discovered how to keep us on her good side."

The mind-reader nods, smiles, and as they begin following after the happy zombie-ish girl she whispers "she's still really unstable, so be careful around her."

They exit the house barely five seconds after their greenish kappa ally, but she's nowhere in sight.

"Nitori?" calls the tengu reporter, feeling great unease in her heart.

"M-maybe she's at the back of the house," comments the mind-reading youkai as she glances around, feeling frightful, and for good reasons.

The other zombie kappa have surrounded the girls, and just as they think of going back inside the house, the entry door closes up and beeps after locking up.

"Oh, you have got to be screwing with me," comments Aya in a low and flat tone.

"Get ready," commands Satori, and she and the small-winged crow girl prepare their upgraded flashing weapons.

The black-haired girl flaps her wings twice, grins, then she quickly takes the photo, followed by her satori friend, whom just shoots her flash as she usually would, and the combination of the two overpowered lights illuminate the entire village, making several kappa groan and whine to their deaths.

"Whoa! Nitori did an awesome job with these!" exclaims Shameimaru as she explores the digital camera once more.

The purple-haired Komeiji stares at her own armored third eye with surprise and says "and I only used about two percent of my power. That little girl really delivers."

The few of the surviving zombie kappa, a single humanoid female with empty eye-sockets and exposed ribs, that drips greenish-red blood from her hands, eyes and mouth, and several of the spike-shelled, thin limbed monsters with sharp beaks, some sporting jagged teeth inside those hard beaks, screech and roar as they crawl out of hiding and move toward the girls.

Some of those shelled kappa roll up like balls and summersault, gaining momentum in the air so that when they hit the ground they roll straight at the girls, threatening to maim them with those hard spikes.

"I got these," confidently says Satori as she aims her third eye at the attackers and shoots ten of those beams at them.

Those beams spread and wriggle in the air as they head straight at their targets, and all the zombie-brained monsters can think of doing is split up.

The beams go after each kappa, most in pairs, and the second they touch those rolling creatures they explode with a powerful light that kills the targets and any surrounding monsters nearby.

Meanwhile, Aya aims her camera around and can see yellow cursors locking on those she targets while touching the shutter, then the camera beeps twice softly after targeting ten.

The tengu flaps her wings as she grins with excitement, and says "this will be fun," then presses that shutter hard.

The bleeding humanoid kappa and her many shelled friends roar after they see the beams shoot right out of the camera's flash bulb and run straight after the reporter, raising their claws and snapping their teeth at her.

The monsters screech in pain when those beams touch their eyes, expand violently and send a second flash that kills several hidden kappa behind the nearby rocks.

Aya and Satori turn to face away from the front of the house, grin, then both flash one more time, killing the last two kappa with a single overpowered blast from their flashes.

"Man, we're so awesome! Nitori really came through," confidently declares the smiling reporter.

The cocky tengu yelps when a pair of black zombie fairies tackle her against the house.

The satori maiden worriedly calls "AYA-CHAN!", and then gasps when those fairies struggle against the girl as they try to take a bite out of her neck.

Her cheeks turn red as she frowns furiously at the offending creatures, summons some power to her third eye, then shouts "don't you dare harm her!"

The flash she shoots is so bright, the two fairies sizzle after being pushed away by the sheer force of the beam and land in a small pond.

"Are you alright?" asks the girl as she kneels next to Aya and dusts her exposed shoulder and chest, then truly worried asks "they didn't hurt you, right?"

"I'm ok," grunts the winged girl as she gets up, then looks at her friend, smiles, and says "guess I let my guard down. Um, thanks a lot Satori-chan."

"Man, you two are SLOW," shouts Nitori from behind a rock, far away from the front of the house.

Aya picks up her camera, scowls at the only remaining living kappa for the time being, then asks "hey, what was all that about? Were you planning on eating us after they killed us?"

The greenish girl walks out of hiding with her hood up and with a pair of sunglasses on her eyes as she says "I swear, I thought you were right behind me. Took me a while before I realized I was talking to myself."

"Somehow, I find that hard to believe, Miss Nitori," says Satori as she stares suspiciously at the hooded figure.

The kappa girl lowers her hood and removes her sunglasses, then seriously says "it's good that you don't trust me. It's hard to tell when I will turn on you, so do keep alert."

She turns sideways and fumbles with her hands under her robe as she says "no, I didn't plan an ambush, and even if I did, these kappa are too stupid to understand what that is to begin with."

Nitori lowers her head, raises her hood again, places her sunglasses on, then turns all the way and starts walking as she says "well, I won't force you to come with me, but I still want to help you. I also want my home back, believe it or not, and you two are the only ones that can do just that."

Aya and Satori gaze at each other with doubt, but swiftly erase that doubt and replace it with resolve, and without saying a word to each other, they nod and walk after the green-skinned girl, the tengu calling "wait. Nitori, we're sorry. We're coming with you."

They quickly regroup with the girl and slow their pace to match her own, and now make their way toward the foot of the mountain, to begin their climb to what should be their ticket into the Scarlet Mansion.

The three girls run their way up the river to reach the mountain, flashing the normal and black zombie fairies to their deaths with just one shot.

A small fox-like creature with half of its tail broken off, a sliced left eye bleeding orange goop, and missing several patches of skin, bounces off the trees and branches to catch up to the satori maiden, but the small-winged tengu smacks it on the face with her fan, shattering its snout, then flashes it at point-blank range, making it yelp as it dies.

"Man, these are awesome Nitori," exclaims Aya.

"Indeed," softly says Satori, who flashes a hissing black fairy that's missing half of her head and has her tiny black dried brain exposed, and as it splats on the ground she finishes "I'm not even trying to hit them hard and they die in one shot."

"GET BACK," screams the greenish semi-scaled kappa, who grabs both girls by the back of their shirts and pulls them behind a thick reddish tree.

She shushes the girls before they can speak and nervously whispers "don't let them see us!"

The girls suddenly feel the floor beneath them tremble along thundering thumps, a loud and deafening hiss, and loud flapping of wings.

They cover their mouths as they shiver and whimper uncontrollably when from the foot of the mountain comes a giant lizard-like monster and an equally gigantic zombie fairy.

The lizard has a giant head and a massive pair of clawed legs, its skin has uneven scales all over, its jagged teeth look like polished saws, the skin on its back seems to have been bitten off by something even bigger, and its bleeding intestines hang from its derriere, dragging a set of organs that look like stones.

The fairy has several strands of golden hair hanging from her rotting head, her left eye has been caved in, her right eye seems was recently pulled off and the socket continues to bleed profusely, her glassy sharp wings seem to slice the air itself, and her long, thin limbs sport bleeding thorns all over and are covered with the skins and organs of other creatures its maimed.

The two monstrous figures continue their way down the river, then Nitori finally speaks "dammit, that was far more power than I initially thought. You two are lucky I upgraded your flashers there."

"W-wh-what the hell were those things?" shakingly asks Aya with a bluish-tint around her nose.

Satori shivers as she tries to look around, grabs her partner and grips her tight in a safety embrace, then shakingly asks "tha-tha-those wouldn't b-be the u-u-u-up-?"

Not waiting for the girl to ask her question, the zombie-ish kappa nods and says "yup. And those are just two of the possible thousands that are roaming around. You two will need to be EXTRA careful from now on."

She grabs the tengu's shoulder and pulls her up, signaling her to move, and holding the mind-reader like a princess, the black-haired girl stands and starts running after Nitori, who continues "and don't think all show those kind of mutations. I bet those like Cold Death can hide their new forms and unleash them when they feel it's needed."

The girls look at each other and gulp, then the satori maiden says "th-thank goodness we have you to help," and then they stop running.

The small-winged reporter gently places her friend back on her own feet and all three look upon a small path near the waterfall at the foot of the mountain.

They continue gazing upward until they notice how the appearance of the mountain becomes darker as it gets closer to the unnatural brown clouds, and then Aya softly says "thi-... This isn't my home. It can't be."

The foliage that used to add a touch of beauty to the rocky terrains is gone, replaced by blood-splatters, oozing yellow substances that seem to come from the rocks themselves, moving vines and roots, and what look like lost lamenting spirits that cry as they hover next to the surface.

The kappa turns around lowers her hood, removes her sunglasses, and with a glowering face she softly says "no. This isn't our home anymore Miss Aya. This is now the home of monsters."

She turns around and begins walking toward the path leading up, pockets the sunglasses, and says "those clouds have also brought an unnatural and vengeful life to the mountain. Flashes, guns nor danmaku will work on it, but they can help slow down its attacks. Stay fucking SHARP!"

The girls look at each other, hoping for either one to say something encouraging, ignoring the repeated apologies from their zombie-like ally, but neither can say a word, and just follow after the robed girl.

Their way up the mountain is quiet and quick through the spiraling path, until they finally reach the end of it, and looking up the rocky climb Nitori says "well, this is where it's starts getting a little rough. Keep your flashers ready and keep alert. I believe it's about time for the crows to start waking up."

The mention of those creatures sets Aya into an alarmed state, and as she looks around with fright Satori places her warm hand on the nervous crow tengu's shoulder and says "come Aya-chan. The faster we do this, the better it will be for all of us."

The winged girl manages to look at her friend in the eyes, then walks over to the wall and looks up at the kappa, who is already a good way up, and grips a small ledge on the rock to begin her climb.

They all reach the next part of the road above of where it had stopped, and only took fifteen minutes to do so.

"Come! We only have two more climbs and it's smooth trails after that," eagerly says Nitori.

She takes the first step forward and stops with a quick gasp, to which the mind-reader asks "what's the matter Miss Nitori?"

The kappa girl pulls a large silver rifle with a red scope on top, kneels as she takes aim directly in front, and whispers "fucking shits from hell, I wasn't expecting her to be here! It's the yamabiko."

The girls immediately ready their flashing weapons and notice the yellow glow on the warning led bulbs and gulp.

In front of them is a massive frame with a heavily muscled body covered in fur with a hunched back, overstretched pink clothes, and walking around on its bulky arms like an orangutan.

On her head is a mop of green hair between two large floppy brown ears, her mouth is a hole with broken teeth beneath, which seem to have blown up from within, her chest and left arm are full of cuts, and though flesh seems to pour from within, no blood or liquids can be seen from them, and her right hand is twice the size of her head and has spike-like claws on the tips of the fingers.

Before the monstrous Kyouko Kasodani notices the girls, Nitori shoots her rifle and sends a glowing bullet at the monster that pierces the skin of her bulky back and explodes with a powerfully bright flash from beneath her skin, opening a new hole of dry flesh on the right side of her back.

The monstrous yamabiko roars in pain and jumps around as she tries to reach the hole on her back, then ignores it and turns her full attention on the girls, growling softly as she stares at her prey.

Before the other girls can complain about that sudden attack, the greenish kappa angrily says "she already saw us so shut the HELL up! But whatever, another shot from this baby and she's down for good! Ready your own weapons, just in case."

"Hey; the tengu and the satori! I finally found you," exclaims the annoyingly familiar voice of Marisa, who causes Nitori to looks to the witch and ignore the yamabiko monster.

The kappa stands up, lowers her weapon, her eyes fill with so much blood she starts bleeding through them, her teeth become jagged, her mouth spreads wider as she snarls, then she opens her robe to reveal her naked body, and its entire left side is just some bones with dry bits of flesh somehow clinging on them, while the right is slightly covered in scales and black moss, and several small knives and guns are fitted inside pockets under the robe.

The zombie kappa screeches at the top of her lungs, snarls at the witch afterward, then shouts "KIRISAMEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

The black and white immortal zombie hovers on her broom twelve feet away from the mountain, glaring at the girls as she says "I've been looking everywhere for you t- Wait, that voice?"

Aya and Satori raise their flashing weapons at the witch, then remember the yamabiko monster, and can't seem to decide who to keep their sights on, then the black-haired crow shouts "g-get the hell out of here, you!"

"NO! THAT BITCH IS MINE!" furiously screams the kappa, to which Marisa nervously replies "oh shit! N-Nitori! Er, hey there girlfriend. Um, how's life treating 'ya?"

"YOU LYING BITCH! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" screams Nitori as she shoots bullets from her rifle and takes a small gun from her arsenal and shoots a massive laser from it.

The zombie girl sways left and right to dodge the attacks, and then literally cracks a smile as she asks "erm, you're not still mad at me about that little lie, right?"

The witch screams "OH SHIT!" as she takes a violent turn to avoid a second massive laser of pure white, then she takes off, away from the forest.

The half-skinned kappa screams "DON'T YOU DARE RUN AWAYYYYYYYY!", causing the mountain to tremble a bit with the echo of her own voice, then she jumps and slides down the rocky surface while shooting at the fleeing witch and screaming "COME BAAAAAAACK! YOUR NECK! I WANT YOUR FUCKING NEEEEEEECK!"

"WAIT! NITORIIII! You are our best frieeeeeend! COME BAAAAACK," desperately shouts Aya, but the kappa now has a mission priority, and ignores the calls from the tengu.

Satori frightfully calls "Aya-chan, we got a problem now!", as she points at the snarling muscular monster Kyouko.

The girls freeze when the monster starts moving slowly toward them, taking in as much air as possible from that hole on her mouth, expanding her body twice its size, then the reporter raises her camera and flashes her eyes, forcing her to scream and release all the stored air and writhe around while covering her eyes.

"Run! NOW!" commands the girl, and she and her purple-haired partner run past the roaring monster and move further inside the mountain.

Kyouko recovers, snarls while glowering at the girls, then runs after them both like a wild animal protecting its territory.

The girls aren't sure, but the deeper and higher they run up the mountain's trail, the more they feel as if the mountain itself is growling at them.

But they are more preoccupied about the giant monster chasing after them and still going strong after countless flashes and beams have been shot at her.

"Why won't she fall?" screams Aya after jumping over a puddle of yellow goop that flows from underneath a large grey rock.

Satori shoots several bullets at the rock, causing it to explode just as Kyouko is passing through, slowing her down with the viscous yellow substance from within, then shouts "just keep running until we can find some wider ground away from this edge to face her."

The ground beneath them starts moving on its own, the air around them vibrates with an incessant grumbling, and they watch in awe in front of them as some dark roots lift up large pieces of rock and start hammering the narrow path.

The black-haired tengu look up as those rocks are lifted off the ground and smashed again and again, then groans and says "for the love of- Rargh! Even the damned mountain's trying to kill us now!"

"Miss Nitori did warn us. We'll have to slow it's attacks down and keep moving," starts the mind-reader as she looks back at the monstrous Kyouko, who keeps struggling with the yellow goop as she tries to move forward, then finishes "we shoot and move! Shoot and move!"

They run close to the first hammering rock, and the reporter takes her fan from her belt and swings it hard, stopping it from falling with one of her tornadoes.

As they move forward, the mind-reader shoots several hearts at the second rock, forcing it against the third and tangling the roots for safe passage.

They reach the fourth rock right after it crashes down and the winged girl automatically flashes it, and again the whole area around the girls rumbles along with a growl and the fourth and fifth rocks rise up and stay still.

The girls run through and come across the last hammering rock, this one smashing the ground furiously without pause, so the purple-haired girl charges some magic in front of her palms above her head and some light in front of her third eye, then unleashes her bullets along a bright flash.

After the bullets and the flash hit the root, it releases the rock as it stiffens, then the girls run through and find a path leading within the mountain.

"This is it," comments Satori. "Let's get off the edge and prepare an ambush on that monster."

Aya nods, and they run into a wide valley to plan an attack, but then black-haired reporter stops, rapidly looks around, and then nervously asks "c-can you hear that?"

The satori maiden looks at her friend with curiosity, and before long she can hear cawing coming from the sky.

"I-... I-It's the crows," whimpers the tengu, and both girls look up at a black cloud in the sky and start shooting straight beams at it.

The undead crows, though winged, have lost the skin from around the necks and the feathers from their chests and abdomens.

Some have lost their eyes, which seems were pecked off, others seem to bleed through their beaks without stop and use that blood as projectiles aimed at the faces of the girls.

"Here they come," shouts Komeiji, and focuses on flashing the large group of blood-spitting, cawing birds and moving to avoid being touched by those projectiles.

Their flashes take down up to eight at a time, and yet it seems they are doing little to dwindle their numbers, and now the monstrous Kyouko roars from above the valley so loud, even the crows themselves lose their balance because of the sound waves.

"Oh shit," curses Aya, "it's the monster again!"

She fails to notice one of those blood projectiles headed straight at her, but Satori pushes her away and gets hit on her exposed shoulder instead.

The mind-reader's skin sizzles and she screams as she falls to the ground when that burning blood touches her bone in just a second.

As if knowing what to do, the tengu reporter shoots her flash at the blood-ball and it immediately turns to ashes, but leaves the satori's bone exposed and said girl crying in pain on the ground.

Aya grabs hold of her friend around the back and lifts her up, then shouts "it's ok! It's ok! I got 'cha! I'll get you out of here!"

She looks around, despair taking her as her mind-reading friend cries out loud from the pain, then whispers to herself "somehow. I'll save you."

The tengu starts flashing left and right, taking large groups of eight, and up to ten crows at once, finally dwindling their numbers, then one of the crows comes from behind and cuts her left shoulder with its talons, breaking off her remaining sleeve.

She winces in pain then glowers at her attacker, but her face swiftly changes when she realizes the one that got her is her old familiar.

It has grown twice its old size, its back is full of scratches and fungi, its wings have become razor-sharp, and its eyes glow scarlet as it turns to look at its old master with hatred.

"No," she whispers in disbelief, unable to grasp the truth of what she is seeing, and has forgotten about the other crows, the monstrous Kyouko, and even her crying friend holding on to her shoulders.

"WAIT!" calls the small-winged girl when the crows all leave, then she gasps when she realizes her mistake and turns to face the yamabiko, failing to find her up the mountain, but succeeding on finding her only seven feet away in front of her and her friend.

The monster's body is expanded, her eyes are glowing bright yellow, and before the tengu has a chance to think, the monster screams at the top of her lungs, sending a violent and powerful sound wave that sends both girls flying backward to deeper parts of the mountain.

After she stops screaming, Kyouko looks up at the girls and growls sadly as she watches them become smaller in the distance, then starts whimpering as she looks back down.

A tear of blood escapes her left eye and she raises her head up and shouts a sad "yahoooooowl!", then turns around and slowly makes her way back from where she came.

The girls fly backward for a whole minute before the winged girl starts thinking of a way to at least slow down, but both stop suddenly when their backs smash against a solid rocky wall.

They cough upon impact, Satori spitting a bit of blood and being unable to scream when that exposed singed shoulder bone touches the rock, and Aya almost dropping her camera, but managing to hold it tight against her stomach.

They begin to slide down and all their minds can do is wonder how long it will take for them to finally hit the bottom.

But the proud tengu will not take it, so she wraps her arm under the satori maiden's and kicks off the wall, then says to her whimpering friend "just hold on for a minute."

She spreads her small wings and starts gliding down toward a clean platform that rests next to the mountain wall they just kicked out of.

Shameimaru's face turns pale when she realizes where they are, but the whimpering of her friend steels her resolve, and with a twist of her back and her wings she begins a slow spiraling decent.

Unable to control the speed of their landing, the reporter alerts "brace yourself!" and when her feet touch the ground she and Komeiji tumble once and end up flat on their backs.

The mind-reader yelps loudly, and then sobs while holding her right arm as she attempts to assimilate with the pain, and Aya quickly gets on her feet and pockets her camera to rush and treat her friend.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry, that was too rough," whispers the black-haired girl as she kneels and fans her partner's shoulder to help ease her pain, and watches with amazement as that bone suddenly starts getting covered by tendons, muscles and veins.

"Even for a youkai," softly admires the reporter "this is amazing."

As soon as skin starts growing over the new shoulder, the satori maiden can feel as the pain subsides, then takes a deep breath, turns over to her side to spit out a bit of blood from her mouth, and then says "m-maybe it has to do w-with that virus thing."

Her friend remains quiet, so the mind-reading youkai decides to get on her knees and look around while asking "where are we?"

Behind her are a network of natural bridges on the mountain surface, some too narrow to tread safely, while in front of her stands a massive marble gate adorned with golden leaves and vines around the arcs, set against a massive whitish rock formation.

The right door has been blown off the top hinges, and hangs by a miracle with just two remaining hinges on the bottom, while the left door, white and adorned with black and gold symbols, remains open and intact to damage, save for a few splatters of blood near its bottom.

Satori covers her mouth when she gasps upon realizing where she is, then looks at her friend and softly says "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to-"

"It's alright," softly says Aya as she gazes upon those dreaded gates, and resigned to her fate she sighs.

She turns around to look at her friend with a sad and defeated smile, rips off the dangling useless left sleeve, and says "welcome... to the Tengu Village."

"Are you sure this is the only way?" asks the purple-haired girl as she and her friend walk through the large gates.

She can see it in the crow girl's eyes. She doesn't even want to look within, and yet is forcing herself to do so.

Satori grabs her friend's shoulder and pulls lightly, trying to make her stop to no avail, then says "look, we can just go down and climb again from the start. Please, you're suffering needlessly!"

Without turning around or stopping, the small-winged reporter softly replies "this is something we must do. If we do as you say, we might as well go back to Nitori's house. Don't worry about me and keep a sharp eye."


Hatate's now-familiar call rings close to where the girls are, and Aya smiles as she says "seems we're going to have to go through a few obstacles."

The satori youkai quickens her pace until she's right beside her friend, and now the grounded girls make their way toward the bridges meant for fledglings, pups that have yet to learn to fly, or flightless wolves, as rare as that may sound.

Though it's been centuries since those bridges have seen use, they have been well kept by the tengu.

A sturdy set of golden ropes holds secure a trail of solid wooden boards, polished to the point of having a reflection on their surface, and to the sides of every three or so boards stand metal black rods that string together another set of golden ropes, so tight and firm that make for both handrails and safety beams.

Satori looks impressed as she gazes all round at the many houses built inside the rocks all over the mountain, all with large round windows for easy access in and out of the house, and on the bottom and on top of the several plateaus she sees more commonly built houses with their wooden doors in front an square windows around.

The girl marvels as the sight of the village and wishes to go sight-seeing, but before she can even joke about that, her tengu partner chokes.

Aya gulps and takes her camera on hand, then says "get ready. The crows are coming back. And once we reach the end of the bride, please be ready for an inevitable ambush."

Just as the girl said, a group of ten crows, led by Shameimaru's overgrown familiar, caw, screech and hiss as they make their way to the girls, and already they spit blood balls at them.

The mind-reader grunts and starts flashing mercilessly, clearing a few of those blood balls and knocking two faraway zombie crows, then pokes her tengu friend with her shoulder and says "run! I'll take care of them for you!"

But the reporter ignores the command and shoots a tornado at her old familiar, forcing it away from the bridge and preventing it from cutting the ropes with its wings, then shouts "like hell I'm going to abandon you! Come on, let's take them down! And don't let the big one near this bridge!"

The mind-reader can't help but smile happily after the crow-girl's declaration, and with that confident smile on her face she raises her armored third eye and shoots three fast beams that blast one zombie on impact, and chase after two fleeing zombie crows, catching them quickly.

"Nice one!" exclaims the living tengu girl, then aims her camera's lens around, locking on four crows, then shoots the homing beams just as they are three feet from drilling her face with their beaks.

Finally, only the leader remains, and this time it doesn't look like it's going to back away.

It turns around to face the girls directly and lets out a dark caw, threatening his targets in front, then flaps its wings to build up a gust of wind around itself and lunges straight at them.

Aya clicks her tongue and says "little bastard made a wind barrier," to which Satori taps her friend on the shoulder and bravely says "I blast it and you kill it."

There is no other choice and Shameimaru knows this, or her friend would have never even thought of suggesting that attack, so she nods, gulps her heart back down to her chest, then takes aim with her camera.

The satori maiden takes the front and starts shooting thin heart bullets as relentlessly as she can, and even with that bird shooting sound waves with its caws, the girl continues.

The sound waves hit her on the chest as though they were stones, and yet she remains steady, shooting those bullets and weakening the large zombie crow's barrier.

"NOW!" she shouts the second that barrier blows out, and though a little reluctant, the reporter swings her fan and sends several wind blades straight at the bird that cut its wings clean off.

Those wings keep zipping around on their own until one stabs itself on solid rock, and the other falls to the houses below, making a solid slashing sound when it lands.

The large crow falls on its back and growls as it struggles to get on its feet, and as soon as it gets up it hisses at the girls and bends down to jump at them.

A flash stops it from moving anymore and Aya shivers as she tries to keep her camera steady on her hands.

Satori gently takes the camera away and softly says "I'm sorry. I still can't shoot and flash fast enough. If I could, I would have done it."

The girl smiles as a few tears gather under her eyes, then slowly drops on her knees in front of her bleeding old friend and says "he was my best familiar. No news could ever escape our watchful eyes."

The purple-haired girl wants nothing more than to comfort her friend, but she cannot think of any proper words, and instead decides to show her support by placing her hand on the crow girl's shoulder.

She grabs her friend's hand with her own and flaps her small wings, and with a cracking voice she says "look at this place. So quiet and empty. Nobody's going in, or out of the houses, nobody's telling me off for doing what I want. The wolves aren't barking or howling down below, Hatate isn't here, trying to spy on me and get the news before me."

The black-haired reporter chuckles after that last statement and adds "but she does want to kill me now, doesn't she?"

Those accumulated tears start flowing down the living tengu's cheeks, and yet she continues to smile as she gently rubs the side of her old familiar's beak.

Satori drops on her knees and embraces her friend and softly says "let it out. Let it all out Shameimaru."

The reporter starts to sob and says "but I hated this place. Why am I crying? Why does it hurt?"

The mind-reader can't help but cry along and comb her friend's hair, and though sobbing she manages to say "I know, I know. I understand. Shh, shh, it's ok. I'm here with you."

Aya's words quickly become babbles and blubbering when her emotions finally flow out of her heart, and the two girls remain kneeling on the bridge, holding each other tightly and crying together, next to the unmoving body of the zombie crow.

Thoughts of Reimu, Yamame and Kogasa run through the girl's mind and a weight seems to add itself onto her back, though it's short-lived, for as the tears and sobs keep flowing, the weight keeps lifting.

The girls have made their way through the bridge, and are soon to reach the end.

Though the reporter continues to clear her throat to hide her sniffling, and constantly cleans off tears from her eyes with her forearms, the mind-reader can feel she's feeling better and lighter.

Sensing this, the satori maiden is no longer afraid of asking "so, what did you mean when you said inevitable ambush before the crows attacked?"

The black-winged girl stops just before setting her foot off the bridge and signals her friend to stop as well, then wipes another tear from her eye and says "the area up ahead is used to ambush intruders who wander in too deep inside the village. It's narrow and provides excellent cover. Keep your eyes very open for any sign of movement."

The mind-reader bows her head, and then calmly says "I see. They were quite ruthless before."

Aya suddenly turns and grabs her friend by the shoulders, then sternly and desperately says "don't let them separate us! Keep close to me at all times! Do! Not! Let them! Separate us!"

Satori looks into her friend's eyes and doesn't need to read her mind to see an inexplicable fear in them, so she silently nods and softly says "I'll stay close."

"Satori-chan, I'm serious!" shouts the black-haired girl as tears flow anew and she cries "I'll never forgive myself, or these bastards, if something happens to you! Never!"

The mind-reading youkai can now see it. A great fear coursing through the winged reporter's head of Satori herself being maimed by spears and swords from the other tengu's hands while battling them in a narrow path surrounded by rocks, and the chaos her reporter friend will unleash if something like that comes to happen.

Again, the satori maiden nods and more solidly says "I won't get separated from you. They won't get me."

No words or expressions of relief are made by the black-winged girl, but she releases her friend and takes that final step off the bridge.

It doesn't take long for the girls to reach the narrow path surrounded by large rocks that the mind-reader saw in her friend's mind, and that's where they stop moving.

"What is it?" whispers Satori.

Aya narrows her left eye as she glares around, takes her camera on her right hand and her fan on the left, then swings it to the front on her right and reveals two zombies hiding between some rocks in front.

The face on the tengu suggests she's regretting revealing those zombies, but regardless, she pulls Satori close to her and frightfully whispers "here they come. S-stay close."

The zombies in front of them are a pair of crow tengu, and their mutation has twisted their heritage.

Half of their face is that of their animal nature, while the other half retains the human form.

There crows have the womanly half of their faces seemingly intact, but the bird-like halves are too large to match and keep bleeding without stop, and the eyes are too large to remain in their socket, and dangle beside their beaks.

Both faces cannot sustain each other and constantly separate to show the brain of the host, splitting into several pieces that remain held by worm-like stems that grow from their spine, and then reassemble so that the heads close again.

These crow tengu with spears snarl and caw at the same time as they threaten the invaders, and show several spear wounds of their own on their half-human, half-birdlike bodies, bloody bite wounds on their shoulders and stomachs, and their wings, though oversized, are useless because of the blood and acid flowing all over their feathers.

"More on the back," whispers the satori maiden when a pair of zombie wolf tengu holding large scimitars, shields, and snarling and growling at the same time at the girls, walk out of the covers from the rocks.

Their heads, like the crows, are also split into human and animal from and separate often.

One has her human head intact, while the other has had her eyeball pushed in, and her human skin is completely covered in bloodied sword and spear wounds.

Both wolves have large bloodied claws on their animal sides, their human feet look thin, their tails have become longer, and their tail tips look like they have a bladed bone-tip sharp enough to pierce through armor.

The girls glance around as one more wolf and crow tengu reveal themselves clinging on the rocks to either side of the narrow road, snarling at their prey as they slowly move about.

The still-living tengu and satori maiden glower at their attackers and raise their upgraded weapons to prepare themselves for a battle the black-haired reporter believes might be their last battle together.

Satori shoots the first flash and sends a zombie wolf tengu jumping toward the rocks, but before Aya can shoot hers, the zombie crow tengu takes her fan and shoots a black tornado.

"Shit," curses the reporter, and she takes her friend by the back of her shirt and jumps as high as she can with the help of her small wings, and as they descends she shouts "shoot them now!"

The mind-reader charges her beams and shoots eight of them, which travel fast toward the wolves and one of the crows.

The zombie wolves use their shields to block the beams, but the three zombie crows aren't as lucky and get blasted straight in the eyes.

They scream and roar as their heads break apart and those worm-like stems holding their brain parts start wriggling around furiously, and all three drop and kick their weapons and fans away from themselves out of the apparent despair they are feeling.

The satori maiden smiles as she looks up to her friend, and after getting a return smile she says "we'll need to take those shield off those wolves' han-AIIEE!"

From behind, that zombie wolf tengu she had scared away before has tackled her right off Shameimaru's hands and sent her straight at its two waiting companions.

Before Aya can realize what exactly happened, she gasps as she watches as that wolf lands in front of her friend and all three raise their scimitars.

"SATORIIIIIIII," screams the desperate tengu girl when those blades lunge down on her screaming friend; that ring of metal cutting though fabric and soil repeating itself in her ears, and just as she lands she dashes toward the wolves.

A purplish blur strikes her from the side, grabs the back of her shirt and rips a chunk off of it in a failed attempt to hold the reporter, and when the black-haired girl lands on the ground, the one that tackled her growls "biiiitch!"

The living tengu doesn't care that Hatate is right next to her. All she wants is to reach those wolves and save Satori, or whatever may remain of her, then even the zombie Hatate has to stop and look over to that very spot her rival keeps staring at.

The zombie wolf tengu are blown away, sent howling to the air, their shields and swords flying elsewhere while those decaying bodies start their descent, and the satori maiden glowers around, dusting her skirt and admiring the new slit on the right, then threateningly says "you mangy mongrels can't hold a candle next to my dogs!"

"Satori!" excitedly calls Aya as she stands up, but reuniting will have to wait when she dodges a spear-claw from Hatate and turns her attention to her undead rival.

Her left eye, once again, is dangling next to her lips, while her dry right eye has been encased in clear ice, so the still-living tengu girl is guessing this bitch can still use ice attacks.

Aya raises her camera and flashes Hatate in the eyes, just like Nitori said, and the zombie shrieks and shakes her head, but quickly raises her arm, breaking off a dried string of muscles from her forearm, and swings with great force.

The black-haired reporter hops back and realizes she has two of the zombie crow tengu moving slowly toward her, and that their heads can no longer close entirely, giving them a more menacing look, but they no longer have their weapons and seem to be moving on instinct alone.

Grinning, Shameimaru takes her own fan on hand and shouts "Tornado! Indication to the Divine!" and sends those two zombies flying to the sky and get cut to pieces by the strong gales, then swiftly lunges at Hatate with a knee to the gut, and flashes her directly on the face before the spat blood can even drip near the zombie's chin.

Meanwhile, Satori glowers furiously at the zombie wolves as they approach her like wild beasts, snarling and hissing at the same time from both faces.

She notices the third crow is stumbling her way, and she grins.

Thinking its prey is distracted, one of the wolves rushes toward the purple-haired girl and readies its beastly claw as it locks its human-like red eye on the satori's chest.

Komeiji flashes the monster just as it is three inches away, then drops on her back to let it continue its lunge and claw the wobbly crow instead, then flashes upward to scare off the other two wolves, quickly gets on her knees, then shoots three beams at the clawed crow and the wolf, ending their lives before they can recover.

She quickly raises a spell card, closes her eyes to think "thank you again, Koishi", and shouts "Recollection: DNA's Flaw!", and aims her sight between the two remaining wolves with their heads split and their brains flinging around.

Two pillars, one of green, and the other of pink hearts, rise from the ground between the monsters and start twisting around each other, and as they do the hearts break into pieces of bullets that immediately overwhelm the zombies.

The monsters howl as the bright bullets burn their undead skins, yet continue their march toward the girl, unaware that she is waiting for their bodies to mangle themselves through the bullets and finish them off.

Satori looks around; she can hear them snarling, howling and hissing, but she cannot see them through the bullets yet and starts getting anxious.

Finally a burned claw and a crispy human-like hand make it through the danmaku, followed promptly by the pair of rotting bodies, mangled by the bullets and dripping several kinds of fluids from the many new holes on their torso and faces, yet she shoots her flash without mercy.

The human faces screams, the wolf faces yelp, then the satori shoots a pair of beams that enter through the monsters' dual-mouths and expand once inside their stomachs, making them die after their abdomens burst with light.

Looking down at the bleeding bodies, the girl scowls and says "that's for breaking my skirt," then drops on her knees when her rapid-beating heart takes the rest of her breath away, and now she feels the pent-up anxiety take her whole body and weaken her.

"D-d-damned bastards. Th-those swords came to close," stutters the girl while she breathes erratically to recover herself and relax enough to stand up again, and then she hears her friend declaring her spell.

She raises her head and immediately relaxes when she sees the tengu girl is alright and doing well on her own, and feeling strong enough again she stands up and rushes toward her friend.

Aya pushes Hatate away with her fan and turns around the very moment her spell cancels.

The two zombie crow tengu fall hard on their backs, spilling acid and blood from their ruined wings, but before they can stand up the black-haired reporter stands above them, raises her camera, and her flash mixes with Satori's who stands behind her, unharmed and ready for more.

They smile at each other, relief lifting a great weight off both of their shoulders, and without having to speak, they both turn around and aim their flashing weapons at Hatate, but she's not there.

Instead, she is far from their reach, high above the rocks and snarling at the girls, and then screams her usual "BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!" before jumping off behind said rocks.

The girls stare at the rocks for a while, and then look at each other with shock, and still unable to believe their luck the small-winged girl asks "did she just run away?"

The girls have reached a small valley with a comfortably wide road, and judging by all the houses Satori guesses this would be the urban area of the village.

As they walk Aya continues to hold her friend's hand and refuses to let her go, and feeling a bit irked by this the mind-reader believes it is time for a talk.

She pulls on the tengu's hand to get her attention and begins "Aya, I need to-", but the black-haired girl screams "look out!" then pulls her friend behind herself and shoots a zombie crow tengu that jumped right out of a window three times with her flash.

The monster falls on its stomach, growling as it writhes on the ground and tries to get up, so the satori youkai steps forth, shoots her overpowered flash and finishes the job.

She turns around to scowl at her friend, whom is already offering her hand while shaking in place, and says "please stop this Shameimaru-san!"

"P-please, Satori-chan. Y-you have to stay close to me," argues the nervous reporter.

"No," replies the mind-reader, "you and underestimating me, treating me like a human child, and I am not comfortable being a burden to you!"

They stare at each other, the living tengu thinking of some way to convince her friend to do as she says, but before she has the chance, Komeiji bluntly points out "look, I've already proven I can take care of myself! I took on and beat four of those zombies while you dealt with Hatate and the two crow tengu!"

"Bu-ut I jus-just want you to be safe," shakingly cries the reporter.

Satori sighs, though smiles as she reaches for Aya and wraps her arm around her neck, then pulls her along while rubbing her cheek against the crow tengu's head and softly says "I'm a youkai too, and I understand you want to protect me, but do consider my feelings as well. I want to protect you too."

With those words, another weight seems to lift off the winged girl's shoulders, and now flaps her wings involuntarily as she smiles and cries "I'm sorry. I was-*sniffle* I was just so scared. So many things have happened, and you are the only one that's stayed with me from the start."

The satori maiden kisses the girl's head and says "and I promise, I'll stay with you until the end."

Tears of joy escape the girl as she straightens up, and when she opens her eyes she stops and gazes upon a lonely white house with a yellow roof securely placed against the mountainous rocks nearing the end of the urban valley.

The estranged mind-reader quickly reads her friend's heart and asks "your house?"

Aya nods as though doing so mechanically, then softly whispers "c-can we go in?"

"I'll come with you," quickly replies Satori, then, after letting go of the tengu, she follows after her into the house.

The door opens quietly, allowing the light to touch the dinner table besides the living room, which is littered with newspaper articles and old photos, and goes all the way onto the stove at the kitchen, where an empty metal pot stands in wait of use.

Gazing upon her house, the dumbstruck tengu whispers "it's just as I left it."

They walk inside; the purple-haired girl closing the door behind herself; then the reporter girl fakes a smile as she says "let's go to my room. Maybe there's a skirt and shirt that might fit you."

Whit those words, the mind-reading youkai takes a good look at her clothes and those of her friend, and believes it would be prudent to get a change of clothes after all, though secretly wishes it was her own.

While Aya continues walking further into her house, Satori stays behind to admire the stairs leading to a single balcony with a single large round open window on the wall.

A clack on the floor gets the girl's attention, and then from the room to the left of the corridor the winged girl shouts "what the hell happened here?"

The satori youkai speeds toward the room, asking "what's the matter?" but her question is quickly answered when she looks inside.

The rolled-up futon has been cut in half and it's stained with blood, the drawers and its lamp lie smashed on the floor, and the clothes within have been torn to small shreds all over the room.

The walls and some parts of the floor have been cut by something big and sharp, and when they look to the ceiling they gasp at the three spears stabbed on the wooden beams.

"It's like there was a battle in here," comments Satori as she looks around and starts noticing the splotches of blood on the ceiling and corners of the wall.

She squints her eyes and whispers "wait a moment," focusing on the seemingly random blood splotches, then suddenly gasps and exclaims "lan? Aya, it says 'lan' up there!"

The tengu reporter enters the room along with her friend to take a better look, bends her neck to look up while positioning herself on the right of the room, and as though acting subconsciously she raises her camera and takes a photo of the letters L-A-N written in blood on the ceiling.

"What could this mean?" whispers the black-haired girl, and then a loud clack by the door gets both girls' attention.

Under the doorway stands the stiff figure of Momiji Inubashiri, who whispers "Shameimaru? Aya? Not here?" while staring inside with those widely opened red eyes, unblinking and unmoving, as though frozen in complete shock.

Her skin looks dark, her silver hair droops lifelessly on her head, her left ear has been bitten off and continues to bleed, staining her hair and her shoulder, and a large tear on her skirt shows a deep cut with dried blood on her left leg.

"Momiji? M-Momiji, is that really you?" asks the hopeful reporter, wondering if she'll get some sort of response, but nothing.

She remains standing there, whispering the same words over and over, and while still standing she raises her tail.

"Aya," whispers the mind-reader, "let's flash her now or get out of here!"

"Wait," desperately whispers the girl. "What if she's alive? She doesn't have any odd mutations or-"

The white wolf girl drops on her hands and stands like a wild beast with her razor-sharp tail raised and aimed at the satori youkai, then her face turns feral, her gums start bleeding, and she furiously roars "AYA'S HOUSE! GET OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT!"

The girls cover their ears to block out the echoing howl from the zombie wolf, and then yelp as they jump away from each other to avoid Momiji's dash and tail whipping, which easily tears through bits of fabric from their shirts.

Shameimaru flashes the girl, causing her to yelp and whine in pain as she recovers, feeling a sting in her heart upon hearing her subordinate crying like a wounded animal, but regardless she steels herself to pick her friend by the arm and shouts "let's get out of here now!"

They exit the room, rush to the front door, and when the black-haired girl opens it up just slightly, she immediately shuts it again, and then three solid thumps are followed by a spear that breaks through the wood.

Aya pushes Satori toward the stairs and grunts "it's Lord Tenma and Lady Arile! RUN!"

"Why are you thinking about heart-panties?" asks the mind-reader, to which her friend desperately says "when they open that door we jump! Roll when you fall!"

They are already on the top balcony when the door in front breaks open, though right behind them is Momiji, grunting with each pant and spitting blood as she snarls at the intruders.

Several footsteps can be heard on the bottom floor, all headed straight to the stairs, so without hesitation the small-winged reporter and her mind-reading friend jump out the large round window.

They roll on the ground to lessen the impact and ends up sprawled when they stop, but the adrenalin rush helps them pick themselves up and start running just as those zombie tengu fly out the window in pursuit of them.

Aya's house is once again emptied, so zombie Momiji slowly walks down the stairs and closes the front door, and after she's done she looks around inside the house and howls so loud her voice echoes all the way to the top of the mountain and beyond.

The girls run for their lives as a multitude of zombie wolves and crows tengu chase after them, kicking up a thick cloud of dust that hides their numbers.

"There's the bridge!" shouts Shameimaru. "Head for the cave at the other side!"

Komeiji can see in her friend's mind how that bridge reaches a large building with round golden roofs on towers with pointy tips, and a large cave that rests to its right side.

She nods and shouts "be prepared to fight either way! I don't think they plan on letting us go!"

The reporter takes out her camera, and when only halfway across the bridge they watch as zombie crows spring from beneath on the left, growling with each caw to threaten their prey.

The girls turn and flash the birds, killing what looks like around twenty of them with that dual blast, but a good number of them still survive and look eager to attack.

They reach the end of the bridge, run fast past the large royal-looking building, and on the rocky plateau on the right they can see the cave.

Hatate crash-lands in front of the cave's entrance, quickly rises from her knees and clenches her fists against her chest while screaming "BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!", then spreads her arms to her sides at the very moment she summons her back-tentacles.

Before the girls can attack, she lunges those tentacles and leaves a small cut on Aya's bare left shoulder when said girl raises one leg, stands on the other and raises one wing to avoid the other tentacles.

The live tengu screams with fright "help!", then the glowering mind-reader reveals a spell card on her right hand and declares "you bitch! Recollection: Master Spark!"

Hatate screams like a banshee when that ridiculously fast, wide, white beam flies right out of the youkai's third eye and burns her up until the ice on her right melts and she's no longer moving.

The hated enemy falls on her back several feet away from the cave's entrance, and although she's stiff and dead, her tentacles keep flailing around.

Satori rushes to Aya and inspects the fast-healing wound on her friend's shoulder while asking "are you alright?"

The crow girl nods and says "you picked up on that spell fast," but before she can point out their time-wasting, the girls are already surrounded by a multitude of zombie crow and wolf tengu, and undead crows flying above a single tengu with a red, long nosed mask on his face.

"T-Tenma," nervously whispers the reporter before pointing at the tengu leading the attack.

The masked tengu removes his mask and reveals himself to his prey, then hisses "master. pissed OFF! WE KILL!"

Just like Momiji, Tenma has no visible mutation, no rotting skin, his eyes look red, his long black beard looks full and glossy, as per normal, but unlike the white wolf he has a large hole on his stomach that stains his elegant black and white armored kimono with his own blood, and he has grown a skeletal wing on the left that looks like the sharp and bony remains of a dragon's wing.

He shapes an X in the air with his hands then points at the girls, but before the half-faced monsters can attack, from the plateau behind them a wolf howls loudly to the air, getting a response from Momiji back at Aya's house, then an entire pack of white zombie wolves jump down to attack the zombie tengu.

As they do, their leader roars as he barks, while telepathically shouting "take one each, but do not touch the living flesh or I'll have you for dinner instead!"

He looks at the girls, bows his head, and then says "FIGHT! We are not afraid of death! Fight and live, so that we may see each other again, saviors!"

The girls stare around themselves with surprise and watch as the white wolves snarl and roar, the crow tengu screech and kick, the wolf tengu snarl and claw, and how the wolf leader himself expands his body and summons his tentacles, then jumps off the mountain to take on a zombie crow tengu and Arile on his own.

The zombie tengu Shameimaru insulted once, wears a mask on the side of her head with a long nose with a purple tip, her golden hair is stained with blood, and her kimono, though elegant, is broken everywhere, exposing her bare rotting skin.

Now Aya and Satori have Tenma, the crows, some crow tengu and two wolf tengu to deal with.

Both girls have already prepared their beams of light, and just as the tengu leader roars the command, they shoot those beams without second thoughts.

Many zombie crows fall fast, leaving only three behind, while the resistant tengu continue their march forward, even after being hit by the beams.

"Satori! Stay close!" shouts the small-winged girl as she begins moving toward Tenma.

The mind-reader reads her friend's thoughts before complaining unnecessarily and sees the desired plan, then grins as she takes her friend's immediate side while raising her armored third eye.

A zombie crow and wolf tengu rush straight at the girls with their weapons aimed at their faces, but the girls sway toward each other to avoid the blades, then scowl while flashing the monsters straight on the faces, making them roar and screech as their heads split after they fall to the ground, then flash them again to finish the job, leaving two split-headed corpses pouring blood and who-knows-what other kind of fluid on the patch of brown grass.

Next come the three remaining zombie crows and a male crow tengu, and while the crows dive to split the girls apart, the tengu goes with his spear straight at the purple-haired girl to attempt a jump-lunge.

Satori screams when she sees the attack coming and manages to roll away in time, then the zombie tengu gets slammed by a bleeding white wolf that's just been kicked out of the battlefield and its body shatters on top of the zombie when they hit the ground.

Aya calls "Satori! Need help!" then ducks to avoid flying spears that come from the battle behind and watches as these thrust themselves on the heads of the crow and the wolf tengu in front and smiles.

She quickly rolls away from her spot and avoids the sharp beaks of the zombie crows, who fail a dive attack and remains trapped by their beaks on the ground.

The black-winged girl takes the chance and immediately flashes the birds before they can escape, and once they are dead she stands up and rushes to reunite with her friend.

The girls quickly reunite, and then Satori exclaims "this is insane! It's like a war here!"

"I know," exclaims the tengu reporter, "but if we finish Tenma, maybe the other tengu will leave us alone!"

In front of them, the two tengu pull the spears off their heads and are joined by two more crow tengu, blocking the way to zombie Tenma, and quickly rush to attack with the weapons on hand.

Aya quickly flashes them to stop their advance, flashes them a second time in the eyes to blind them, then, after charging up, Satori unleashes a powerful flash that burns the remaining skin on their bodies to dust, leaving a pile of bones with blood-stained clothes to fall on the ground with several clacks.

"We did it!" celebrates the mind-reader, but then she realizes her friend is glowering around and asks "what is it?"

On the background, spears break through flesh, tengu scream, shriek and hiss, wolves howl in pain, roar and snarl, and Shameimaru growls with frustration.

The purple-haired girl stares with concern at her friend and asks "what's the matter?"

"Tenma has this annoying cloaking ability, but he needs to generate enough wind," begins the girl, before she roars and says "rah! But with all this racket I can't hear it! I can't tell where he is!"

At that very moment a small-but-strong tornado appears under the girls' feet and springs them off the ground.

They land on their chins but quickly get up, and then Aya screams "dammit, he's going to make us fall off!"

Satori closes her eyes and focuses on her friend's mind, and all of a sudden the sound of the battle behind her becomes mute for the tengu.

The black-haired girl gasps with surprise, but before she can ask the satori maiden says "it's alright. I am muting the battle so you can focus on finding that man. Hurry!"

Shameimaru focuses her hearing and immediately picks up a faint whooshing slightly above her, then takes her fan and swings it with all her might, cutting Tenma's cloaking winds with a wind blade and forcing him on to the ground, where he immediately unsheathes a small Japanese sword from underneath his kimono and runs forth.

The girls split to allow the zombie to pass them through, but Tenma manages to swing at the purple-haired girl and cuts her back.

Satori yelps and falls on her stomach as she tries to hold her back and the zombie immediately rushes toward her, but Aya jumps on his back and pulls him away from her friend, then shouts "dammit! This bastard still acts as tough as ever! Satori, are you alright?"

"I'll be alright," grunts the youkai girl as she pushes herself up, then looks toward the zombie tengu and exclaims "he's coming back!"

Zombie Tenma is already back on his feet and running toward Aya, but the reporter is quick and shoots three flashes at the zombie's face before he gets too close.

The monster tengu drops his weapon to cover his eyes and the living tengu kicks him on the ribs to send him away, however the zombie tengu grabs her leg and lifts her up with ease, then throws her away without expending any effort.

Satori stands up, and before she realizes it she finds herself grappling hands with zombie Tenma, and is already loosing.

She whimpers as she tries to push back, but despite all her efforts she keeps being pushed over to the edge.

She watches with horror as the bodies of the dead zombie crows roll over the edge and fall, and in a desperate attempt to survive she starts shooting one flash after another in rapid succession, but the zombie tengu continues pushing back.

She grunts and clenches her eyes, chokes as she hesitates to call, but when she feels her talon nearing that cliff she calls "A... AYA-CHAN! HELP!"

Shameimaru's bullets explode on Tenma's back, taking his attention away from the mind-reader and back on to her.

The satori maiden takes the chance to run away from the edge of the mountain and stands on the side with her third eye ready to flash.

The zombie seems aware of being surrounded, but focuses mainly on the tengu in front of him, then points at her and says "even if we dead, you still tengu! You must obey and kill intruder!"

Aya's reply is a swing from her fan and a wind blade Tenma easily dispels with a swift swing from his own fan, and then he roars at the offending girl and starts spitting dried balls of blood mixed with a greenish goop, staining his beard as he does.

He rushes toward her but she shoots the accumulated beams she's been secretly preparing from her camera, and they all go straight into his eyes.

He screams and writhes around while holding his face, yet as soon as he stops screaming he reaches for Shameimaru.

Satori shoots several large orbs of energy at the zombie tengu, and then flashes him several times before shooting him again and knocking him to the ground.

The reporter takes the chance, swings her fan around herself with an elegant dance, gathering glowing energy around her wind, she raises her fan to raise the gathered energy above her head, then she cries as she whispers "go order some other psycho tengu around," and she throws the saw-like energy at his stomach.

He groans as the energy cuts through him with ease, then both living girls aim their flashing weapons and finish him off before the blade stops.

The girls yelp when they feel something thin warp itself around their waist, but before they get too scared that familiar voice telepathically says "GO! Get out of here while you can!"

As the large white wolf carries the girls over to the cave they gasp with horror at the sight of countless zombie tengu, some mutated, some still looking normal, flying from below the mountains and from the urban valley, all snarling, roaring and moaning as they move forward.

They can hear Momiji howling once more, and then the white wolf places the girls inside the cave and says "now go! We'll hold them off here! Be on your guard though! Up ahead are black wolves and some tengu guards!"

"B-bu-but what about you?" nervously asks Aya, asking herself in her mind if she's crazy for being concerned over a zombie's well-being.

The wolf seems to grin, then turns around to face the innumerable opponents, then says "when you, er, fix this whole incident, please thank that white wolf that called us here. And don't worry; my vow will stand, even after I lose my new thinking mind. I swear on my pride. Now go. We will meet again!"

Satori grabs her friend's arm, pulls her toward the cave, then says "no, you're not crazy. You just have that big a heart. Now come, we have to escape."

And so, the girls run into the cave, and though already far within, they can hear the battle going on outside.

For a moment they actually think of going back and helping, but they know they would be a hindrance in a battle of zombies versus zombies, and so decided to move on to the exit of the cave.

After a long and uneventful trek in the cave, Aya and Satori exit through a hidden passage to the left of the waterfall at the top of the mountain at noon.

Their breaths are immediately stolen when they gaze upon massive patches where trees once used to be, and are now replaced by moving vines and small lamenting spirits.

The road is surrounded by a sickly-yellow swamp that matches the smell of a thousand rotting youkai corpses, and the air gives off an eerie sensation that the mountain itself is aware of their presence.

The unnatural clouds seem to come down as well, and spend a time of leisure above the bubbling swamps, zapping anything that might come up, which happen to look like the screaming skeletons of humans doomed to drown in slimy muck forever.

"Ugh! What the hell is this?" asks the tengu girl, holding her mouth and nose with her hand to block the smell, though is unsuccessful.

The mind-reading girl lies on her stomach on a tall rock on the side, coughing as she spits the last of the contents of her stomach, then moans "auuu, we have to get out of here before it gets dark."

The tengu girl shrieks when she sees her friend sick like that, and then grabs the girl and jumps on to the next level of the rocks, where the clean waters of the rapids flow.

To their luck, the waters are not tainted, and there aren't any fish near, so the purple-haired girl takes the chance to clean her face and recover, then the winged girl suggest "why don't we follow these waters instead? I don't think we'll be able to survive those swamps anyway."

Satori nods, looks around at the many tentacles and rising vines surrounding the water, then says "it's still dangerous, but it's better than staying down there."

Aya nods, wraps her friend's arm around her neck, and helps her on to her feet and says "let's go. I think I know where this will take us."

Their silent walk near the rapid waters is surprisingly peaceful, and it appears the rising vines and tentacles will keep to themselves, which feels kind of odd.

Before the winged girl makes the comment, the satori youkai places her hand on her friend's lips and shakes her head, then the tengu thinks "what? What's the matter? These things seem peaceful enough."

A pair of black zombie wolves, drooling slimy blood, with the skin on their heads missing, showing their yellowish skulls, glowing red eyes, thin black torsos with black, bloodstained fur, and having long clawed fingers on their front legs, jump from the rocks from the direction of the swamp and snarl as they rush toward their meal.

In just one second the noisy wolves are trapped by the tentacles, which stretch them until their spines break, then one of the nearest stems smash the center of the bodies, spilling the tainted blood of the zombie beasts on their base as though for nourishment, then toss the bodies back toward the swamp, where they'll probably mend again.

After seeing that, the shocked tengu sweats and thinks "silent it is. Let's get the heck outta here!" and so she silently speeds away with her friend walking on her own beside her.

After continuing upstream, the girls are left dumbstruck at the sight before them.

Trees and bushes, green and moist, and without a single sign of any kind of mutation on any of them.

"What the heck?" asks Aya as she looks around, and when she looks at Satori and sees the same confused look, she asks "did... we die back there?"

The mind-reader shrugs and shakes her head, glances around, then looks at the road behind them and says "no, we're not dead. Look at this."

Right behind them, just one step away, the plants are all dead and the vile stems rise again, while in front of them stands a beautiful paradise that once was their real Gensokyo.

"Thi-this is incredible!" exclaims the reporter, taking photos of the odd division between hell and paradise, then adds "it's like some part of Gensokyo is immune to this crap, like us!"

"No," says a familiar voice from behind.

The girls turn around, gasp with surprise, and simultaneously exclaim "Nitori! You're alright!"

The zombie kappa walks on her hands and knees between a few small rocks, panting as though just having run a marathon, but regardless of her fatigue she explains "before she got infected, the hermit that lives around here cast some sort of spell and blocked the magical virus, though she was still too late. She was already infected, and transformed after a while. And so did her pets."

As if not listening to her, Satori concernedly asks "Nitori, what's wrong?"

"Yeah, what's the matter with you?" asks Aya and she and the mind-reader walk over to help.

"STAND BACK YOU STUPID BITCHES!" screams the greenish kappa, who covers her mouth and repeats "sorry! So sorry! I-it's just that..."

Her face becomes dark, her mouth opens on its own and she bares those jagged teeth again as she furiously says "that fucking BITCH Marisa beat me hard and got away! No-now my machine broke, a-and I'm starting to lose myself."

The girls want to say something and stop Nitori from going on, but the kappa continues "so I want to ask you a favor."

"No! Nitori, no! We've already-" argues the tengu.

"Shut the GODDAMNED HELL UP and LISTEN!" screams the green-skinned girl, cutting the reporter's sentence off.

She places her hand on her left ear as she grimaces in pain, then says "you two MUST get to the Shrine of the Moriya. There you should try and talk to the gods, if they aren't zombies. They probably know how you can get to the mansion without b-... BREAKING YOUR GODDAMNED RETARDED HEADS WHEN YOU FALL!"

The robed girl clenches her left ear and whimpers as she slowly recovers herself, and then says "now please, do me a favor and flash me in the eyes. Once should do."

"Please, there must be another way," pleas Satori as she looks with pity at the girl.

Nitori shakes her head, smiles, and then says "I swear, when you guys fix all of this I'm going to install an air conditioner in your houses for being such good friends. Now please, I don't want to be one of them. Finish me."

The girls hesitate, unable to decide whether to fulfill the girl's request, or just try and save her, but as soon as her smile turns to a vile frown and her eyes start to glow red, the mind-reader shoots the flash and the helpful kappa instantly falls into the darkness of her temporary death.

Aya gulps to suppress her desires to start sobbing, while Satori is unable to hold herself back as easily.

They walk out of the small paradise to inspect the greenish girl, and then the sobbing mind-reader points her hand toward Nitori's left ear and says "th-that's where that machine she talked about is. In there."

"That Marisa," angrily begins the tengu, who kneels to the left of the body and starts pulling said device out and continues "next chance I get, I'm going to give her what she deserves!"

She pulls out a long, thin silver rod with blood on the tip, stares at it for a while, then comments "wow, *sniffle* this thing went through to her brain... maybe."

The satori maiden bends closer to inspect the tiny rod, squints her eyes a she takes an even closer look, then gulps her sobbing away and whispers "wait a minute. This isn't broken. It just seems loose."

Aya watches with surprise as her friend takes the machine, twists it until it makes a very light click, then opens her eyes wide with amazement when Komeiji says "there. It should work fine now."

The tengu girl steps aside while her friend places the little rod back inside the zombie's head, and then asks "wait, how did you know?"

The mind-reader turns a gleeful smile to her friend, then casually says "it was in her mind just before she... Well, it was there, and I noticed something different on the device from that memory, and so I adjusted it so that it looked the same again."

Shameimaru raises an eyebrow and comments "but I didn't notice any difference from then to now."

She earns a friendly rub on the head while her partner says "come, we better start moving. We'll need to reach this Moriya Shrine before it gets dark."

And with a nod of assent, the black-haired reporter stands up, and she and her mind-reading friend go back inside the small paradise, leaving Nitori's body where it was, away from the tentacles and hidden from sight.

It's getting dark, and the girls find themselves lost in the small paradise as they speed through dirt roads in search of the Moriya Shrine.

"I thought. you knew. this place. Aya-chan," complains Satori between pants.

The girls stop their run to take a breather, then the winged girl looks up at the darkening sky and says "I'm sorry, I used to fly there all the time so I can't recognize the way from down here. I don't even know where we are right now."

As it gets darker the rumblings of the Youkai Mountain get more and more violent, and now an odd dark chanting takes the entire atmosphere, and soon after the girls huddle up after plants around them start moving and rustling violently.

"W-w-we need to find somewhere to hide," nervously says the reporter, wrapping her wings around herself as though looking for cover.

"Too late," exclaims the purple-haired girl as she points behind at a small group of animal zombies that have cut their escape route.

Tiny birds with holes on their chests, a massive two-headed serpent with its left head missing the left eye and the right head sporting a large dragon-like crest on its head, and a small hairless wolf with bleeding bite wounds all over the neck, a hole on its back that spews black goop like several miniature geysers, and its fur has been replaced by spikes that are covered with intestines and eyeballs from other victims.

The monsters hiss at the girls, then screech when they get a face-full of light, and though the birds die immediately, the snake and small wolf recover and chase after the fleeing girls.

They run fast down the road, unknowingly heading straight toward a large mansion hidden in the trees, however their progress is slowed when the mountains rumble, a dark chanting resumes louder, and a powerful gust of wind pushes them back.

"DON'T STOP!" shouts Aya over the sound of the wind. "KEEP GOING!"

Their run is now a crawling walk when those winds become as strong as those of a typhoon, but being an experience tengu, Shameimaru takes her fan, waves it elegantly in the air, and now she and the mind-reader are moving fast once again.

"GOOD ONE!" shouts Satori. "Now let's keep mo-"

As if knowing of their uselessness, the countering winds stop blowing against the girls, but before they can celebrate, a pair of black wolves, one with a dangling eye that looks like a black rock, and the other with blades for paws, and a mutated white wolf tengu jump from behind some bushes and rush toward the girls.

The tengu and satori flash the attackers and stop the black wolves, but the zombie wolf tengu continues her march, even though seemingly blind, and with a mad bark from the wolf-side face she unsheathes and swings a thin Japanese sword and just barely misses the girls' necks.

"Holy CRAP!" screams the reporter as she straightens back up and shoots bullet rings at the wolf tengu, then says "that was WAY too close!"

The zombie tengu jumps backward twice before flipping like an acrobat away from the bullets, but as she retreats, the black zombie wolves move in for the attack.

They snarl and bare their poisonous jagged yellow teeth when they open their mouths wider than their own heads, but all they get is several heart bullets that explode in their throats.

Though they close their mouths they move about like blurs, unfazed by the new bleeding holes on their throats, but seem to change their strategy to claw the girls instead.

Aya shoots a flash at the stone-eyed wolf flying toward her friend, killing it with the shot and exclaiming "you keep away from her, stoned fleabag!"

Satori shoots a string of heart bullets at the reporter, but the hearts suddenly spread around the black-haired girl and regroup behind her, blasting the zombie tengu's sword and shield away and damaging its faces with the blast recoil.

She looks nervously at her friend and says "s-sorry, I had to work fast."

"DUCK!" shouts the black-haired girl, and her mind-reading friend crouches down as the girl thrusts her fan forward and strikes the second black wolf on the snout and flashes it, saving her friend from a claw on the back of the head.

The tengu smiles as she helps her partner up, and then says "just one more to go."

Satori looks past her friend, grins, then mouths the words "b-e-h-i-n-d y-o-u."

Aya glances as far back to her left as she can, narrows her eyes, then swiftly turns around and she and her partner dual-flash the brain-flailing zombie tengu to its immediate death.

Just as they are about to celebrate, the short-winged girl grabs her friend and pulls her away, allowing the small spike-bodied wolf to fly past them and stick itself on to a tree.

"Oh dear, we forgot about these guys," comments the satori maiden as she stands up.

Shameimaru quickly stands and flashes the spiked wolf's underbelly, taking advantage of its predicament and finishing it off, then turns sideways to face the large two-headed snake that threatens her partner with furious hisses.

She quickly summons a powerful updraft with her fan to stop the blinding-fast lunge from the snake, saving the mind-reader, flashing the creature several times and forcing it to back away.

It makes a sudden turn and whips its tail on the ground, lifting pebbles and stones from the ground and flicking them at the girls.

Komeiji shoots several hearts to do away with the larger rocks, but the pebbles and small rocks make it through, cutting her and her friend's foreheads and shoulders with their sharp edges, yet neither even flinch.

"Shoot both heads," exclaims Aya as the snake turns around again, but both are surprised when the snakes open their mouths and roar as they crawl right out of their skins.

Their bones crawls out of their mouths all the way down to their necks, the vertebra grows sharp spikes, and their fangs grow twice their size before the bones turn purple and start dripping poison from all the tips.

The skeletal snake raises itself to look more intimidating, but a quick flash from Satori forces it back down, then Aya shouts "don't get too close! That stuff looks very dangerous!" and shoots a homing beam as one of the vertebra.

The monster lunges blindingly fast again, and the girls find themselves flying backward after the recoil of the monster smashing the ground hits them hard.

Once flat on their backs, the tengu girl yelps with pain and holds her right leg, where the mind-reading youkai can see a purplish cut on the knee.

She rushes over to her winged friend and subconsciously flashes the poison away, then quickly stands up to glare at the towering bony monster and starts summoning power, whispering "fifteen percent should teach you to behave."

The snake lunges straight at Satori, but the girl unleashes the flash, lighting up a ridiculously large area and killing not only the snake, but other zombie birds and mice that were hiding behind trees and bushes as they waited to ambush the girls.

The girl turns around to her friend as she stands up, then says "I just saw a large building up ahead. Let's go there and stay there until morning."

Aya nods, and they both rush off toward the Japanese mansion in the nearby distance.

In just a few minutes the girls reach the gates of a large three-story Japanese-style mansion, but to their dismay, on the base of the mansion stands zombie Kasen Ibara and many of her little pets.

The skin on the left side of Kasen's face has been ripped off and left to dangle by her neck leaving her bones exposed, her eyes look like sick purple orbs, her hair looks grey and dirty, her outfit is missing the front plate and her white shirt, leaving her sarashi and her greenish skin exposed, a hole on her hips where the tips of her ribs and coaxial bones can be seen, and her right hand is a wispy purple ghostly image surrounded by a floating swirling bandage.

Among her pets is a giant eyeless eagle with its beak spread open exposing a pair of slimy brownish-pink gums with tiny jagged teeth, and the lower half of its body has been ripped off, leaving it as a downed bird needing to use its wings to look up.

Aya and Satori look around at the small animals, the large bird, and their zombie master, then the tengu girl thinks "should we escape?"

The mind-reading youkai shakes her head and softly says "it's almost nightfall. If we run away from here the mountain will claim our lives."

"So, you killed my baby dragon," begins Kasen, speaking normally, though sounding a bit dark with every pronunciation.

"Wait, that snake was a dragon?" asks the black-haired reporter.

The zombie hermit points at the girls with her left hand and says "you will pay very dearly for that."

She covers her face with her hand and looks away while a pair of flashes strike several times, and listens as all her little pets; the birds, the little snakes, the wolves, pups and cats, all shriek and die; and as soon as the attacks stop she swings her hand violently and screams "you disgusting bitches! How dare you kill my pets! I'LL KILL YOU!"

Aya snorts with disgust and says "figures. The giant bird and the damned zombie girl are still alive."

Satori stares flatly at her friend and says "show a little more compassion to the animals. You are one."

Kasen growls and stomps her right foot furiously, then points her spectral right hand and commands "KILL!", then the giant eagle flaps its wings once and takes flight, aiming it's slimy mouth at the black-haired reporter's neck.

Both girls split, and the crow girl shouts "I'll be with you shortly!" then chases after the eagle.

The mind-reader shouts back "be careful! And make sure it's not faking death!" then turns to face the zombie girl, who stands in a fighting position five feet away.

The right side of Kasen's lips show a vile smile as she glares at her opponent, then says "I know damn-well how weak you are. You have no hope against me without your friend to back you up, even with that flashing eye."

Satori stares coldly, and then softly says "for a zombie, your brain function sure is in top condition, for the most part."

The zombie girl frowns and says "I'm a hermit. Not a zombie," then lunges forth with a flying kick.

The purple-haired girl grunts when she drops to the ground to avoid losing her head to that kick, then quickly gets up and flashes the back of zombie Kasen, however it appears the damage is very minimal.

Meanwhile, Aya uses her small wings to leap high in the air, barely reaching the top of the trees, as she attempts to lock-on on the giant bird's eye sockets and dodge its surprisingly fast and relentless dives at the same time.

She growls when she misses the beams and flash again, then stretches her wings to start gliding, in hopes the giant eagle will attack her directly on the front.

The bird takes the bait and roars as it opens the slimy gums to take a bite while flying straight at the tengu.

The small-winged girl flashes the beast, making it screech in pain, then smacks its head with her geta sandal's platform to send it crashing to the ground, then lets herself drop to chase after it.

At the other side, Satori yelps and whimpers while narrowly dodging zombie Kasen's fast attacks and flashing the girl without causing much apparent damage.

She looks at her attacker's right hand before rolling left to dodge a roundhouse kick, and thinks "why isn't she using that hand? I'm not liking this. I have to finish this quick."

She looks at her armored third eye and notices the yellow glowing led light, then sighs to suppress the terror she's feeling in her heart and starts using more power with each flash.

At that moment, on the other side of the road, Shameimaru pants as she runs away from the giant bird after it started using its own guts as feet to run after her, allowing it to focus on shooting acidic spit-balls with deadly accuracy.

The tengu girl jumps behind a tree a second before being touched by one of the acid balls, takes a few seconds to calm her heart, then raises her camera and jumps out of hiding.

She yelps out loud when the monster takes a surprise bite from her left wrist, but even with the pain she manages to flash it right inside the eye-socket, then kicks it off of her and scrunches up when that slimy fluid starts burning her skin.

Aya growls; angry at herself for not being more careful, and pissed at the bird for being so damned annoying.

She ignores the sizzling sting and runs after it, and just as it flips on to its makeshift feet, it finds itself at the wrong end of the many bullets of one angry crow tengu.

"You disgusting piece of shit! Die so I can go back to Satori!" screams the girl as she burns new holes on the giant zombie bird's body, and after she's satisfied she showers the beast with several flashes, hitting it even after it stops moving, then stops the relentless attack.

She stares angrily at the monster, kicks it to make sure it's dead, then runs straight to her friend's side, shaking off the blood from her wrist while it begins to heal.

Meanwhile, the mind-reading youkai pants hard while she flashes and dodges more of zombie Kasen's quick attacks, but while that zombie girl keeps attacking without showing signs of fatigue, the satori is feeling exhausted.

The hermit chuckles while sending kicks and punches at her opponent and says "that's the problem with pissy danmaku. It's just plain useless crap when one is attacked from short range."

She smiles when Satori yelps after being brushed on the cheek by a punch, but quickly frowns when the next flash from that third eye seems to make her twitch.

The zombie grabs the satori's neck, then pushes her against a tree, lifts her wispy right hand, then the floating bandages around it stretch and coil themselves around her victim's head, her arms, her third eye, then her legs, forcing them to spread and trapping her against the tree.

Kasen chuckles playfully as she holds the living girl's exhausted and terrified face, then says "u-hu-hu~. That last shot made me feel all tingly. Congratulations, you bitch. For that, I'm going to make you hurt over and over before I start devouring your flesh. And just so you don't get any funny ideas..."

That purple wispy hand of the girl rises on its own, then lunges straight into the purple-haired girl's neck and immediately paralyzes her body and cuts her breath.

Komeiji can feel how just enough oxygen to keep her alive travels into her lungs, but even so the feeling hurts her, and the unnatural paralysis also serves to send jolts of pain straight into her very bones, yet she cannot scream.

What's worst, now she sees what zombie Kasen is aiming to do, especially when her left shoe is broken by five sharp nails, and how the zombie hermit seems to be winding back.

"Oh, don't worry," mockingly begins the hermit, then she chuckles and says "the first kick to the nether regions never hurts as much as the third, the fourth, or the fifth."

She winds her leg as she runs forth, she throws the kick will every ounce of strength in her, and the satisfying thud should have made her smile, however she finds herself frowning.

Aya managed to jump in at the very last second and saved Satori from a very cruel punishment, however the tengu now has three new bleeding holes on her stomach, yet with the pain she feels as she grunts she still manages to shoot a few flashes at the hermit's eyes.

The black-haired reporter quickly stands up, and while Kasen groans and screams as she holds her face, the living girl kicks that left hand away and flashes the monster several more time.

The zombie hermit rolls on her back and quickly starts to crawl away from her attacker, but Shameimaru is not willing to let her go, and to her own undead dismay, her own bandages tug her back when she runs out of space.

She tries to summon her bandages back as desperately fast as possible, but even after the mind-reader falls it is too late, and the tengu reporter is still on top of her.

She tries to sweep-kick the winged girl but the crow girl jumps and flashes the zombie.

Zombie Kasen finally submits when her body starts convulsing involuntarily and she starts vomiting a thick purple substance, and looking up at the black-haired girl she grins and says "w-well played."

One final flash finishes the monster, and zombie Kasen Ibara falls on top of her own purple vomit to her temporary death.

Without saying a word, Aya turns around, kneels beside her friend and massages her throat and chest, helping her to relax and breath, then whispers "it's alright. She was one of those tough ones. It's not your fault."

The mind-reader moans when she tries to cry, but quickly relaxes when her friend smiles at her and gives her a light embrace before helping her on to her feet.

That night, inside the mansion, Aya kneels besides the fully recovered Satori against a wall on the empty floor of one of the many rooms in the mansion.

They smile when they find a futon inside each of those inventory cubes Nitori gave them, and while they unroll them the mind-reader says "it's nice to have met someone as thoughtful as Miss Nitori."

The black-haired girl moves her wings, then looks at the ward at the entrance of the room and sadly says "yeah. She's pretty cool."

Before she knows what happened, Aya finds herself in a warm embrace from her friend, who says "it was so hard for you, seeing your home the way it is. But you are so strong Aya-chan. If it had been me I think I would have broken from the start."

The black-haired girl's eyes water as she thinks back on all she has seen since they started the climb up the mountain, and then she lets a loud sob escape.

Satori tightens her embrace, placing her friend's head on her shoulder and softly says "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up, but I don't want you to hold that inside either. Let it out, like on the bridge."

Momiji, Tenma, Hatate, those tengu she knew, and her house, the village, the green mountain she used to love so much, added to the memories of Reimu's death, Yamame's sacrifice, and Kogasa's bravery, all those images seem to suddenly pile up on her, and all she can do is cry to let it all out her system.

Even with the pain she feels, she is grateful to Satori, for being there for her, but cannot express her words and feels guilty, so the mind-reader combs her head and softly says "it's alright, you don't have to say it. You're welcome."

And so, the girls remain in that room for the night, where the poor tengu girl who though she hated her home, finds herself crying over the loss of that very place, and those people she used to take for granted when they were there.

Meanwhile, the south-eastern side of the frozen Misty Lake looks like a giant Swiss cheese under a laser show.

Yuka lands between two of the holes, panting heavily while holding her semi-exposed chest, slaps the bits of ice clinging on her clothes, then looks forward and smiles as she says "well, every since that boost you got, you have become more and more fun to play with little fairy."

Across the large hole in front of her stands Cold Death, staring at her attacker with those frozen eyes while flapping her massive wings and repeating "SSSTRONGHEEEEEESSSSST," for the nth time.

The flower youkai grimaces and flaps her hand in front of her nose, then says "jeez, find another catch-phrase. That one's getting old."

She takes to the sky and says "I hit you with everything I had over ten times and here you are; still wanting more. I'm going to take a little rest now, so please wait for my return, you fun little zombie girl. 'Kay? Bye~"

Zombie Cirno just looks up and blinks twice while watching as Yuka flies away.

She ignores the escaped trophy and looks around her ruined kingdom.

Her eyes glow red beneath the ice, but soon dim down and she raises her arms, creating new coats of ice over the water without any effort, and then relaxes.

She looks to the sky again to where the flower master was, slowly blinks once, then turns around to return to her massive ice wall to resume her rest.

To be continued...

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

Arile was created by Willie G.R. (similarities strictly coincidental)

SEP 22 2011

Written by

Willie G.R.


Man, what a long chapter. So full of battles and battles, and then more battles. Sadly, I wanted to put more into this chapter, but it cannot be. Next chapter might end up being a lot shorter, but hey, as long as the story flows well, it should be no problem. Ah well, I'll get off your case now. Oh, and originally, the battle at the Tengu village was supposed to be against Lady Arile, but I didn't want to give an OC that much attention, so I switched her for Lord Tenma. And with that said, I hope you enjoyed this long chapter.