Kasen's Mansion, 3rd Floor, 1AM (I think),
Found a typewriter here. Funny, I didn't realize there were so many of these laying around at random places in Gensokyo. Well, this mystery isn't important. Yesterday, Nitori came through for us and powered up our flashing weapons. Yeah, hard to believe, but she somehow managed to make this armor thingy for Satori-chan's third eye that makes all her flashes and eye-beams insanely powerful, and for my camera, I have a kick-ass lock-on system on it, the flash is incredibly powerful, and I can also shoot beams like Satori. Up to ten of them. Will have to try those beams with new spell card I made. So yeah, we left Nitori's house, fought some kappa, kicked their asses with the new upgrades, then we started to climb up the mountain and things got as bad as they have been getting lately. First off, I hope you remember what Nitori said about us killing Hina, because she was right. Many monsters are now far more powerful than before, and uglier, so I guess these upgrades to our flashes were imperative. It's like one of those games from the outside world, seriously. One of those 'upgraded' monsters is the yamabiko girl that lives around here. We shot her with everything, even after Nitori had damaged her, and she still blew us off with ease. Oh, and just before that, Marisa appeared, and our kappa guide went bat-shit insane and ran off. So anyway, we ended up in the worst possible place to be. My home, the Tengu Village. Seeing it like that made me realize that I don't really hate the place as much as I thought. It hurt to see it that way; so quiet and empty. And I had to fight my old crow buddy there. He tried to kill us, so we had no choice, and it really hurt me to do that. Of course, everything out there wants to kill us, eat us, turn us. Anyway, we ended up in my house, all my clothes were destroyed, so I'll have to keep wearing these broken old things until we fix this... maybe. In my house we also found the letters 'L-A-N' written in blood, and Momiji. She... well the other tengu looked like freaks with half youkai, half animal bodies with splitting heads. She looked normal, and was whispering my name, but she attacked. She was one of them, and so was Tenma. Seems some tengu, like those two, didn't really mutate much, but whatever. We fought Tenma and his stupid brainless minions, and thanks to the help of the white wolves, we survived and escaped that place. And just in time too, because the second we killed the Lord, those zombie tengu started crawling out of everywhere, like disgusting roaches. The wolves covered our escape, and we ended up at the top of the mountain, or so I thought. The mountain has changed. The waterfall should have led us straight to the Moriya Shrine, but instead we ended up in this small patch of paradise protected by Kasen. She's a zombie though; she and her pets. Nitori told us she made some sort of magical barrier to protect a good chunk of the mountain, but she and the animals were already infected, and she told us that right before asking us to kill her. Seems the fight with Marisa damaged her machine and she was losing her brain. Good thing Satori noticed what was wrong and fixed the machine, so we might be seeing her again. So anyway, seems the hermit's barrier allowed Kasen herself to remain fully sentient, but at the same time made her a murderous undying loon. She almost did something very nasty to Satori-chan, but I stopped her. I must admit, those claws in my stomach hurt, but it was for a good cause, and I am already healed, so it's ok. Well, once the sun starts to rise and this mountain stops rumbling and mumbling, we'll start moving towards the Moriya Shrine again. We have to talk to the goddesses there, but Nitori did warn us that they might be zombies too... so yeah, we are now just gambling here. But we have to do it. They could be the help we need to reach that damned mansion and end this!
Aya takes the piece of paper from the typewriter and quickly glances over the words, then folds it twice and gets it inside her little storage cube, where it shrinks before being sucked into the open glowing circle, and thinks "I'll leave the crying thing a secret this time. Yeah."
She smiles after it closes up, raises an eyebrow while looking at the ceiling as though lost in thought, and asks herself "I wonder if anyone read the note I left at the hut by the village?"
The girl shrugs nonchalantly, stands up, and as she walks down the stairs she says to herself "eh, whatever. Even if they did, I'm sure none of them would care."
She reaches the second-floor room they are using to sleep in and immediately widens her eyes at the sight of Satori thrashing about inside her futon.
"Satori-chan?" whispers the tengu as she walks to her friend.
The purple-haired girl whimpers and clenches her eyes as though in great pain and Aya concernedly shouts "Satori-chan? Satori, what's wrong?"
The dreaming girl opens her mouth and sighs, then starts waving her right arm above herself why calling "Ko-Koishi! Mnh... Utsu-ho. Nnn-no!"
The reporter shakes her friend and calls "wake up! Satori, you're having a nightmare! Wake up!"
She pulls her hands away from her friend when the girl starts to scream and calls for help, then all of a sudden the satori turns on her belly and crawls out and away from the bedding while screams "Orin! Orin, don't-DON'T! Plea-!"
The black-haired reporter watches with shock at her friend as she moves around, half-covered by her blanket while moving around as though possessed.
Satori opens her eyes wide, springs on her seat and clenches her chest with her left hand while reaching forward with her right hand, then suddenly screams "NO, NO! AYAAAAAAAAA!"
The girl breathes through her mouth, desperately trying to keep up with her own heart while looking around the dimly lit room, then she spots her friend and the quick sensation of relief weakens her muscles and causes her to drop back on the floor with a thud.
Aya rapidly crawls to her friend and picks her up, resting her partner's head on her lap and asking "what was that? Satori-chan, what happened?"
"Bad dream," rapidly pants the girl while she looks around the room, apparently still unable to tell whether she's back in reality or still trapped inside her dream world.
Her heart quickly settles when she feels the tengu's hand combing the side of her head, then she gasps and says "Aya-chan! Y-you're alright! Oh thank goodness! Ju-it was just a bad dream."
The winged girl sighs as her own heart settles down, then hesitantly asks "um, ca-care to tell me about it? It, um, might help."
Satori nods as her erratic breathing continues, then shakingly says "I-I *gulp* saw them Aya-chan! M-my sister, Okuu... and Orin."
She glances around as if wondering if they'll just pop out of the ground while saying "the-they came out of nowhere. T-their eyes were glowing and they wanted to eat us. W-we ran, and ran as-as fast as we could. And then..."
She holds the crow girl by the back of her neck and whispers "she caught us! Orin got us, a-and then she killed you. She massacred you right before my very eyes."
A tear escapes the mind-reader and the reporter finds herself at a loss for words, then the purple-haired girl whispers "don't die Aya! Please don't let her kill you! I can't do this alone! If you die, I-I-I'll follow you! I'm too weak Aya-chan, so don't die!"
The proud tengu girl smiles as she expands her chest and says "what are you saying? I'm a youkai, a crow tengu! She can rip me to shreds Satori-chan, but I'll keep coming back!"
She gently pushes the purple-haired girl and settles her head on her lap, looks down at her friend with a warm smile and says "but she won't get to. You'll see. You and I will be just fine!"
"Really?" asks the mind-reader, making herself look like a frightened lost child.
Aya pounds her expanded chest with pride and says "of course! You and I are that strong and amazing! You said so yourself only a few hours ago, remember?"
Satori smiles, chuckles as a tear escapes her right eye, then says "yes. Yes, you are right. We are... that strong and amazing," and falls right back to sleep on the tengu's lap.
The black-haired girl stares at her friend, gently flicks the purple hair over her forehead, and then whispers "yeah. Strong and amazing."
Hours later, when it should be morning, yet looks like it's already nightfall because of the accursed brown clouds covering the sun, the mind-reader slowly opens her eyes.
She finds herself resting on the crow girl's lap, while said girl sleeps on her knees, snoring softly and looking so peaceful.
Satori smiles, slowly gets up so as not to wake her friend too abruptly, and once on her feet she stretches her arms, hip and legs, then places the covers of her own futon on her friend and quietly heads out of the room.
Minutes later, Aya wakes up, stretching her arms above her head and knocking the covers off her wings as she moans contently, then whispers "wow, even though I slept like that I still feel refreshed."
She twitches when she notices her friend is gone and feels a bit nervous at first, but calms down when she sees the cover on the floor behind herself and smiles.
Her smile vanishes when she looks out the round window and sees how the brown clouds seem to be getting thicker, and how they are making Gensokyo look like a never-ending night of hell.
She shakes her head to ignore this, thinking "we will deal with those soon," then gets on her feet and walks out of the room.
On the ground floor, inside the kitchen, the mind-reader wears her lime-green apron and pink flower bandana as she cooks a breakfast of rice and vegetables with a cucumber on the side.
"That Nitori even packed some cucumbers," admires the tengu reporter from the door, smiles as she walks inside and continues "that's a great gift coming from a kappa."
Satori giggles as she walks toward the table to serve the meal, and as she pours the rice and vegetables on the plates she asks "so, did all that really happen last night?"
Aya smiles, though looks sad while doing so, then the mind-reader bows elegantly and says "thank you very much for being there for me. I'm sorry I caused you so much trouble."
"No trouble," quickly says the reporter with a spoonful of rice in her mouth, then adds "besides, after *gulp* you helped me so much yesterday I believe doing this much for you shouldn't be any trouble at all."
The satori maiden giggles, and then says "oh, I'm sorry about the spoons. Seems Miss Kasen didn't have any chop-sticks around, and the stove and the table were so dusty too. I had to clean up a bit before cooking."
The tengu nods as she gulps down the food in her mouth again, then says "hermits don't really need to eat you know. I'm surprised she still had these plates and spoons lying around. Anyway, I don't mind."
The girl points with her thumb at the large room behind, and asks "that black wolf didn't give you any trouble, right?"
The mind-reader sighs and says "no. Actually, the ward is protecting the whole house. He was so persistent about coming inside though; I had to flash him to shut him up."
"Good," mutters the winged girl as she takes the next spoonful to her mouth, and after swallowing she says "well, once we're done here, we need to figure out where exactly we are. I mean, we should be at the top of the mountain, but we clearly aren't."
Satori nods and says "best course of action would be to... take that swamp's path we avoided yesterday. Maybe it will lead us to the Moriya Shrine."
Aya shakes her head and says "ayayaya, no, no, no. I don't think we need to backtrack. I think we can reach the shrine from here, but we cannot trust my memory of this mountain. It's changed."
The purple-haired girl stares at her partner with curiosity and interest while said girl explains "you see, we exited at the top of the waterfall, and it should have led us straight to the shrine, or at least very close to it."
"I understand," begins the satori youkai. "Nitori did mention the mountain was most dangerous at night, which could mean that..."
"The mountain changes itself during that time," finishes the small-winged girl, finishing her meal and patting her belly with satisfaction.
Satori finishes her rice as well, then picks up her cucumber just as Aya picks hers, and after taking a bite, the mind-reader blushes, giggles, then bashfully says "Aya-chan, quit that."
The tengu chuckles, and then says "well, I'm just saying. She could have."
After taking a last bite of her cucumber, the satori maiden points at her friend while smiling, then says "you have a naughty, naughty mind Miss Tengu Reporter."
The girl flaps her wings while giggling, then narrows her left eye while asking "you washed them before serving them, didn't you?"
Komeiji blushes again, looks away from her friend, and then says "we-well yes, bu-but I wasn't thinking that. A... Aya-chan, quit it! I wasn't thinking about that! It's just the proper thing to do!"
Shameimaru smiles mischievously, and then says "sure it is. Especially when this kind of fruit is involved."
The purple-haired girl chuckles, then says "but it's a vegetable," then smiles smugly as she looks at her friend.
The girls continue to share as many laughs and giggles as they can before leaving the table to prepare themselves before leaving the safety of the mansion.
With all preparations complete, they walk down the front stairs past the dead zombie wolf, and just before they cross the gate the winged reporter says "Kasen's going to be pissed when she finds out she can't enter her own house."
While her friend laughs, the satori maiden scoffs and frowns, then says "hmph! Serves her right!"
As they walk through the small piece of paradise; the green and fertile path left, saved by Kasen's protections, they can't help but notice the many lacking elements from the real Gensokyo.
There aren't any fairies playing around, giggling amongst themselves, or plotting and getting in the way of travelers with a foolish prank that will surely fail.
There are no youkai running around, hunting for food or fighting for territory.
Instead there is an eerie silence, save for the howl of the unnatural winds coursing through the darkening brown clouds and the soft rattle of leaves when those winds fly down.
"This might look like home," begins Aya as she looks down to her feet, "but it's definitely not the Gensokyo I know. It's just too quiet."
Satori looks to her feet and glances around the dirt, as though looking for something to say, but then she notices how rapidly the little light shining down from the sky quickly dims, and now everything around them looks light nightfall.
She wraps her arms around herself and shivers a bit before saying "wh-what's up with this? It's so dark and cold all of a sudden."
The girls' eyes seem to glow a bit in the unnatural darkness; the little light that shines from the sky against their bodies and clothes looks dark blue, and now there is hissing coming from in front.
The tengu looks at her friend and nervously asks "d-did you hear that just now?"
From behind a tree to the left of the path jumps the dark figure of Hina Kagiyama, who raises her enlarged clawed hands above her head, opens her black mouth, oozing a viscous black slime through her small, sharp and jagged teeth, and roars ferociously at the two girls in front of her.
"What in blazes? I thought she was still dead!" exclaims the mind-reader as she lifts her armored third eye.
"Let's not question and shoot!" exclaims the winged reporter, and both girls immediately shower the zombie curse goddess with flashes.
The monster snarls and jumps back several feet, away from the flashes' range, then starts to roar and her own voice stars to warp as the black clouds from above enter her body through the crown of her head.
Her glowing aquamarine eyes turn dark purple, what little hair she has left turns black, her skin turns darker and starts dripping poisonous blood that sizzles when it touches the ground and dries it up, four massive spiked black tentacles grow from her back like a sick mockery of wings, and the greenish-red ooze from her open stomach flows like a flooding lake.
Both living girls' faces turn dark blue at the sight, but before either has the chance to comment, the upper tentacles from the zombie's back extends and falls toward the ground where the girls are.
They jump away to allow the large tendril to smash against the ground and leave a small crater underneath, then Aya screams "RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIFE!"
The LED lights on the girl's upgrades turn orange, and after noticing this Satori screams "she's insanely strong! Aya-chan, we need help!"
But they both know help won't come and look at each other with dread to this realization, and understand that they either run away, or somehow beat this monster before moving on.
They look over their shoulders to see if they are being chased, but to their surprise, Hina is nowhere in sight.
They stop with their flashing weapons raised while the tengu reporter asks "wh-where is she?"
Without their notice, a dark shadow crawls underneath their feet and gets behind them, then zombie Hina rises from the shadow in an instant and swings her claws.
Aya notices her in time to turn around and flashes the monster directly in the eyes, forcing her to flinch and stop her attack and giving her and her partner the chance to get away.
Hina recovers quickly enough and starts to spin around, and starts shooting curses in the form of tainted black charms before the girls can get too far.
Satori turns around and shoots a flash to destroy a few of the charms headed her way, then shouts "she's using danmkau! Aya-chan, she's using danmaku!"
The winged girl has had enough and takes her fan to do the same thing she did to stop her once before.
She ducks to avoid some of black charms, shoots a flash to undo several more, and then swings her fan to send a strong counterclockwise tornado to stop the spinning zombie.
The monster's spinning slowly stops and the girls cheer as they take attack positions, but zombie Hina quickly adapts to the tornado and starts spinning along with it, gaining intense momentum and merging with the tornado itself.
"No! She's pulling us back," shouts the mind-reader when the winds start sucking the girls toward the monster, who has taken the chance to spread her arms and swing those sharp tentacles around, and is cutting trees with one clean sweep with those extremities.
"Dammit," growls the tengu girl as she tries to pick up her wings. "I didn't think her rotting brain would remember this attack! BOOF!"
"AYA-CHAN!" screams the purple-haired youkai after her friend is smacked on the face with one of those stretched tentacles, but when she turns around to shoot a flash in hopes of stopping the tornado, she yelps after being struck by another tentacle.
Both girls are sent flying twenty feet away against the pulling winds before they finally hit the ground, then Hina stops spinning after hearing the pair of satisfying thuds, cracks a vile wide grin and licks her lips, then walks slowly after her prey.
Aya sits up, wincing and holding her left cheek while blood drips between her fingers from a deep gash caused by the strike.
She hears a loud and familiar moan and jumps on her feet, forgetting her own wound, and calls "Satori! What's wro-? S-SATORI!"
The purple-haired mind-reader lies on her back with her eyes open wide yet looking dull and empty as she convulses and whimpers in a desperate attempt to keep conscious.
Her face and hair are stained with the blood from the deep gash on her forehead, and though she tries to reach for it several times, desperate to sooth the throbbing, burning sensation, she convulses too fast to do anything other than whimper.
The tengu slides on her knees as she calls for her friend, who somehow manages to turn her blank eyes to the source of the voice and smile, then she starts gasping and chocking between whimpers, and her eyelids begin to close.
The reporter places her hand on her friend's chest and softly says "sleep. You'll be awake again soon," and as if waiting to hear those words, the satori maiden lets her eyes close up, her convulsing and whimpering slowly stop, and finally she allows herself to fall out of consciousness.
Aya stands up and faces Hina, touches her face and pokes the wound that has now become a black bruise, and gritting her teeth so hard she feels they're going to crack, she prepares her fan and her camera to attack the powerful monster.
Hina's thorny tentacles wriggle their way around and behind Aya while the girl keeps her eyes right on the zombie, rage and hatred evident from the fire in her eyes.
As the monster raises her elongated, thin, clawed hands, Shameimaru thinks "I need to keep this bitch away from Satori-chan while she rests. I'll need to be extra careful with her this time. Gods, how did she get so strong?"
Zombie Hina swings her hands and the winged girl swiftly swings her fan left and right, and shoots one group of red and blue bullets in rings after another while her camera locks on to the spinning doll without her actually aiming.
The spinning monster roars and bends backward after several explosions on the face, the tengu reporter raises her camera and notices all the beams have locked on to the inside of Hina's stomach, then rapidly says "whatever, as long as it hurts you! Digital Telescoping, Candid Flash!"
The semi-transparent rectangle appears between the girl and the zombie, and covers the monstrous girl entirely, then Aya presses the shutter and fifteen thick beams of pure light fly fast and mercilessly inside the zombie's stomach and expand on contact.
Zombie Hina screams so loud the reporter thinks she just hit the real Hina, but the monster adds roars and hisses to her scream, so the tengu takes the chance to shower her with flashes.
The zombie curse goddess retracts her tentacles and wraps her arms around her stomach while Aya hits her with one flash after another, and after several pictures are taken, the LED light turns yellow.
"Yeah! Take that you bitch! That's what you get for hurting Satori-chan!" excitedly shouts Shameimaru while pointing at the monstrous girl.
Hina roars, her tentacles extend again, and the quick crow girl finds herself using every bit of her agility to jump, dodge and move around like an acrobat in order to dodge the rapid swings from the spiked tendrils.
She's suddenly swatted away by the back of Hina's hand and sent flying against a tree, where she coughs after smashing her back against it, and after falling on her knees to recover, she thinks "good. This should keep us away from Satori. But now what? I only managed to weaken her a bit."
Aya jumps to the left, using her small wings to extend her jump, and avoids getting sliced in half by the zombie's claw, then flashes her face in mid-jump before landing and rolling on the ground.
Zombie Hina snarls and roars, frustration rising and turning her eyes red, then she starts spinning like a top, shooting black charms and swirling her arms and tentacles around herself, cutting the remaining trees in the area in half.
As the tengu girl runs away as fast as she can, she constantly turns around to shoot a flash at the incoming danmaku over her shoulder, thus buying herself some time to think.
She turns around one more time to deal with the next set of black charms, but gasps when she finds no signs of Hina or any of her attacks; not even the shadow she used before to get behind of her and her partner.
She looks all around; despair slowly rising and taking her senses when sound seems to leave the immediate area.
Finally, there is a rustle of leaves to the left and Shameimaru quickly turns and flashes a black blur, only to learn she's flashing a black wolf with an overgrown bladed, skinless tail.
The creature growls at her, but as if coming face to face with nothing important, the tengu scowls and says "shoo! Get the hell outta here!"
The wolf charges past the girl and cuts her entire left forearm before she notices he's moved, then snarls as the girl looks at the blood on her arm and slowly turns around with a frightened look on her face.
The zombie wolf bends down and jumps while Aya begins to lift her camera, then a beam of light enters through its open mouth, and the yelp of the creature is followed by the loud thud its body makes when it hits the ground.
Again, the surprised tengu turns around, then gasps and smiles before squealing "Satori-chan~! You're alright!"
Satori Komeiji leans against a nearby halved tree, breathing through her mouth while attempting to recover her strength; her face covered in blood from the wound on her forehead, which now looks like a black bump, yet she smiles as she waves at her friend.
Her smile suddenly turns to a frown and with a hoarse voice screams "behind!"
The reporter turns around just as zombie Hina breaks through the ground below her and wraps her tentacles all over her prey's body, missing wrapping the arms by a miraculous reaction from the girl.
"You annoying curse bitch! I'm so sick of you," shouts the winged girl through her teeth as the monster squeezes her with those jagged tentacles, drawing blood from her legs and hips and slurping after smelling the girl's blood.
Aya drops the camera and fan, grabs the zombie by the neck and squeezes hard, breaking through the skin and squeezing the vertebra directly, then speaks through her teeth "die! Just die already you fucking bitch!"
Hina's bones snap and her body immediately becomes ash, and the crow girl falls with the zombie's screaming head on her hands.
She throws away the head and quickly rummages for her fan and camera, and then the satori youkai stands by her side, clears her throat, and drily says "hurry. She's coming back."
The monster's head roars as it spins around, absorbing the endless misfortunes of the new undying Gensokyo to her, and slowly that dark mist takes the shape of a body under the severed head.
Before either girl can shoot a single flash, Hina Kagiyama makes herself a new body with the misfortunes from the undead world.
Her eyes remains glowing purple, but her hair has completely re-grown black, her new skin is purplish, and just a few seconds later, she summons another black mist and grows a blood-red and scarlet dress with a black swirl on the skirt.
Unnoticed by the girls is the fact that the little LED lights on their flashing weapons has now turned blue.
She smiles at the girls, wiggles her fingers at them, chuckles softly as she makes a very light smile for them, then launches straight at them, opening her black mouth and roaring as she aims to bite the tengu's neck.
Satori pushes her friend away and shoots several large bullets at the reborn girl's face, then flashes her eyes directly and makes her scream and drop on her back, then she kicks the zombie's stomach to send her flying further away.
The reborn zombie girl yelps after slamming against the floor on her face, but quickly pushes herself up with her arms and takes off, hovering a few feet above the ground and disappearing behind the thick foliage.
"After her!" declares the mind-reader, but she drops on her face after attempting to run, and Aya herself lies on her butt, panting hard as she attempts to recover from the hard fight.
"Let her. go. Satori-chan. We. will. get her. later," says the crow girl between pants.
The satori maiden sighs, struggles to turn over and sit up straight, then nods and softly says "yeah, you're right. I believe I need to rest a bit too."
She rubs her black forehead and winces, while the reporter slides herself next to her friend and sighs as she allows her body to relax.
An hour later, the girls finally continue their way to the Moriya Shrine, walking straight down the path where zombie Hina flew away through.
They have made it to the edge of the protected paradise and are hesitant to move on, but looking upon the path before them, the tengu says "well, I guess this is it. Back into that icky world."
The mind-reader sighs as she summons her own courage, then nods and says "ready when you are."
They jump on this new path heading left and up, then the mountain shakes slightly and a few vines and tentacles grow out of the ground on the path behind them.
Both girls sigh, knowing the dangers are still not over, however neither is backing down now, especially when the black-haired girl looks around and says "yeah, this is it. I believe this path should lead us to the Moriya Shrine."
There is a short pause, and then the purple-haired girl nods and says "I agree. Let's not assume anything yet and just move on."
And so they begin their march up the rising path that seems to go straight on forever, covered by those unnatural clouds in the distance.
Only minutes after beginning their walk, Aya starts feeling something odd on the ground and asks "hey, is the floor trembling?"
Satori looks around and says "m-maybe a quake?" then looks up and gasps and shouts "AMBUUUUUSH!"
From the top come several spiders with mouths on the abdomen, one of those mutant vampires with the fetus heads, a pack of white and black wovles, and countless greenish spirits and black zombie fairies.
The girls stand in place, the shock of the sight freezing them on the spot with fear and neither is able to even process the thought of moving.
The zombies and monsters run past the girls as though ignoring them, and then the tengu, after recovering from the initial shock, looks back and asks "what the heck just happened?"
"Aya-chan!" calls the satori maiden, letting her friend know they have five fairies and six of those spirits attacking them.
They immediately take their flashing weapons and shoot, downing two fairies and a spirit at once.
The rest roar and take their distance, save for a single fairy that goes straight at the reporter and tackles her from the side while trying and failing to take a bite.
The mind-reader flashes the black fairy to her death and quickly turns around to flash a spirit that got too close.
Even though she flashes it directly, the specter still raises a ghostly limb and grows a pair of claws.
Before it can strike, a beam from the tengu's camera strikes it right between the eyes, killing it, and the remaining three fairies sneaking behind the youkai girl.
The remaining four spirits moan and lament as they fly in circles around each other, going faster and faster until they merge as one, taking the shape of a skull-headed hooded figure with bone hands.
The girls stare unimpressed as the creature raises its bony arms to attack, then flash him simultaneously, making it howl then roar as it turns to a greenish cloud of smoke.
The girls look at each other and simultaneously ask "a roar?"
Behind where the spirit was is the monstrous Kyouko, covering her eyes and shaking her head furiously, and father up the road behind the zombie yamabiko is Hina, smiling at the girls.
Her skin seems to be losing its new glow and is drying up, yet she still looks a lot more lively than any zombie out there.
Zombie Kyouko recovers from the flash in the eyes and reminds the girls of her presence with a mighty roar that echoes far and wide.
She smashes her hulking fists against the ground, making a powerful tremor that immobilizes the girls for a moment, then rushes after them, snorting furiously with every move of her arms.
Aya grabs her partner by the waist and jumps as high as her little wings will allow her to, and shouts "flash her!"
Satori shoots beam after beam with her third eye, all landing straight onto the monster yamabiko's eyes, stopping her charge and making her roar as she rubs her whole face with that oversized right hand.
The monster recovers, aims her now-glowing yellow eyes up to the sky at the gliding girls, then takes a rapid breath of air and roars furiously at them, sending powerful sound waves that knock them right out of the sky.
They land behind the yamabiko zombie and watch with horror as her body expands while she takes in as much air as she can.
Aya flips on to her feet, takes her fan on hand, and as if knowing what to do, she swings it hard and sends a visible ball of wind at the monster and shouts "let's see how you like that, windbag!"
"Windbag? Seriously?" asks Satori with a disgusted look on her face.
Zombie Kyouko can't stop in time and inhales the ball of wind, her entire body expands fast and hard, and she falls on her sides and scratches her throat, tearing her own flesh in a desperate attempt to get all that extra air out of her system.
The tengu does not wait for that to happen, gets in close, and flashes the monster several times right on the face.
Kyouko's movements slow down, her body starts deflating on its own, and the girls sigh with relief after having defeated this large enemy at last.
The mind-reader gets closer, and somehow, watching those eyes close and that monster deflate while dying so slowly, pains her a great deal.
"Better if you don't look then," says the reporter, pulling her friend to herself and away from the yamabiko.
"Come on, we better get mov- what?"
Aya interrupts her own sentence when the deep-voiced monster starts to hum and whisper, and just as the last bit of air in her body exits through her mouth, she manages to say "kill master, please. No more monster, anger."
She expires, leaving the two living girls staring at her with pity and curiosity.
Satori sniffles, and then says "come on. Th-the more we linger, the more everyone suffers."
Aya is pulled away from the hulking monster, wondering if it was truly suffering, then she witnesses how some white tears roll down from underneath the monster's eyes, gasps and turns around, then takes quick steps to match her satori friend's walking speed.
She holds her chest as though trying to push her heavy heart up, then hears the laughs of zombie Hina and feels as fire ignites her heart once again.
The girls run up the path, hoping to reach zombie Hina and finish her off so their climb can be a little easier.
"Get out of our way!" shouts The tengu as the flashes a few black fairies to their deaths, their little bodies smashing against the ground and bursting in a sea of black blood and rotting guts, and continue the chase.
"There she is!" exclaims the mind-reader after taking out a spirit and noticing Hina flying up ahead from behind its body.
Aya notices the silhouette from the zombie, snarls, gets next to Satori, grabs her by the waist, and then runs with all her might.
"CAREFUL!" shouts the purple-haired girl as her tengu friend plows through fairies, spirits, and even smashes through a black wolf, breaking it in half with her sandal and leaving it howling as its blood and organs spill all over the ground.
The other zombies immediately rush toward the mess and start licking the blood and biting on the stringy pink organs.
She clicks her tongue after watching her target disappear through the brown clouds, but she continues onward.
"Wait, what are you doing?" asks the satori youkai with fright when she realizes her friend isn't stopping and keeps heading straight toward the sparking clouds.
She covers her face with her forearms as they pass through and can feel her whole body being lightly shocked by the yellow bolts, but other than that, the clouds feel just like the normal ones do; cool and soft to the touch.
She can feel when they stop, then the reporter says "dammit, she escaped again," then the mind-reader slowly uncovers her eyes.
In front of her and her friend lies a pond with yellow water, where dried lily pads float on, surrounded by grey dead trees, and adorned at the center with a destroyed small wooden shrine.
The pond of tainted water takes most of the terrain, leaving little room to move around without risk of falling into the water.
The purple-haired girl sighs and thinks "great. All this water and I can't wash this blood from my face because it's damned tainted."
Aya places the mind-reader on the ground and snarls, then says "The Giant Toad's Pond. She's hiding around here. Satori-chan, be on your guard. The toads were already dangerous enough when alive."
Satori nods as she glances up to the tengu, looking like a frightened lost child, and says "a-alright. I-I'll do my best."
The tengu turns around with a wicked smile and a drop of blood trickling down her nose while thinking "dammit, that was ADORABLE! Oh my goodness, I almost couldn't contain myself. Oh... Oh shit, she's reading my mind! Think of Hina! KILL HINA!"
It's too late, and the blushing purple-haired girl keeps looking away to hide her embarrassed face.
The winged girl flaps her wings once and says "um, so-sorry about that. L-lost my head for a second," in hopes to lessen the sudden awkward feeling, but it's not working so she just whispers "sorry."
The awkwardness is quickly cast away when a twig snaps somewhere near, and now tension rises as the girls press their backs against each other, finally noticing how much more comfortable it is without the backpacks, and raise their flashing weapons.
They can't see anything, even though the only hiding places would be behind the trees, and an ambush would be too hard to pull off because of the tiny gaps between the dead trunks.
"We move, now! Before something happens," whispers the tengu girl while she furiously glances all around.
The mind-reading girl nods hard twice, glances left and right, then they both begin a dash toward the center of the pond, making sure to keep away from the tainted waters.
They reach the next path leading to the right and out of the pond when Aya grabs Satori and pulls her down just before a pink spear flies above their heads and thrusts itself on a tree, missing their necks by a miracle.
It gets stuck on the tree, breaking its bark, and before it can retract, Shameimaru grabs it and pulls on it hard, revealing a large grey toad the size of a human child sticking on the trunk of another tree, making itself look invisible against it.
"Dammit, we're surrounded," curses the reporter when countless of those toads start revealing themselves and jumping off their trees.
The satori maiden stands looking around cautiously while raising her third eye, trying to count the many frogs surrounding them, but gives up after fifteen when the closest ones begin to move closer.
Aya grabs Satori by the shoulders and says "try not to fall."
Before the mind-reader even has the chance to learn of the plan, she is chucked over the trees and lands safely on a branch, holds on to the bit of trunk left on the top to hold her balance, then asks "hey, but what about you?"
When she looks down she watches as her friend unleashes small tornadoes all around with her fan, and sends toads flying in every direction, then sighs and starts shooting beams at random.
Surprisingly enough, each and every beam strikes a toad once on their soft bellies and finishes them off at once, and all quickly flop on their backs and wriggle their feet before dying.
On the ground, the reporter has made enough space around herself to start flashing the toads, and comments "for zombie toads, they look pretty normal!"
"Meaning, we better be extra careful," shouts the tree borne mind-reader.
Aya sends ten beams at ten separate toads, which flop on their backs after hit, then turns to face her friend and nods.
Soon after, the few remaining toads croak and drop on their backs, then Satori shouts "Aya-chan, something's happening to the frogs!" and thinks "hurry up and come up here please!"
As if reading her friend's thoughts, the crow tengu jumps up and lands on a branch on the tree next to the mind-reader's and looks down with interest.
The downed toads' stomachs start to jiggle and expand, their bodies begin to wriggle around or convulse violently, then their grey bellies burst, expelling a red mist.
From within the broken bodies crawl smaller toads, and these have a slimy reddish flesh that dangles by their visible bones, slimy red blood pours out of their muscles, their black eyes immediately fall off and burst on the ground, spewing an odd red slime that keeps taking over the ground as it spreads, and when they look up at the girls they open their jagged-toothed mouths and launch their tongues.
The girls yelp and flash the creatures from above, making them croak monstrously and forcing them to retract those tongues, but they repeat the attack as soon as they recover.
"Use the beams, it's the only way!" shouts Satori while charging her beams with as much light as possible.
The girls both shoot ten beams each and hit the slimy, bloody zombie toads between their heads, killing them at once, evident when the slimy blood they ooze stops flowing from their dead bodies.
Aya knocks out five more, pumps her fist in the air and exclaims "YEAH! Take that! You don't mess with these girls!"
The cheering stops quickly when something massive lands inside the water, causing the yellow liquid to overflow and spill, and as it runs its course it consumes the red slime and the many zombie toads around, sizzling as it burns them like acid.
The towering figure is none other than the Giant Toad himself, whom has grown to the size of two houses, its left eye is one large pulsating sack of puss, its back looks like a jagged-rock mountain side, and its underside and abdomen oozes a strange dark-bluish slime that looks stickier than zombie Yamame's webs.
The giant monster croaks so loud the girls are almost blown off the trees, but they stand their ground as they glower at the monster when they notice the figure on its head.
Zombie Hina, whose skin looks a little drier, yet retains some dark elegance to it, smile at the girls, places her hand on her belly and slightly bows, then sweetly says "girls good. Taste, yes?"
The monster croaks and opens its massive mouth, showing the same slimy substance the other toads where spilling everywhere, then shoots its massive stringy tongue straight at the girls.
They scream as they jump further away from each other, avoiding that massive tongue from smashing them along with the trees, and after balancing on the next branch Satori points at its left eye and shouts "hit it there!"
"How do you know?" shouts Aya, who jumps from branch to branch with great skill to avoid Hina's black charms.
The satori youkai shoots one beam at the pulsating sack of flesh that's the monster's left eye, where it expands and burns the fleshy sack, and the toad roars and hops back, causing the zombie on top to yelp out loud, then the girl looks to her friend and says "would you believe me if I told you it was just a lucky guess?"
The girls yelp again when the toad's massive tongue lunges straight at the tengu, while the mind-reader jumps away from black charms, having some trouble balancing on one branch before jumping to the next.
The giant monster opens its mouth again and Satori shoots her pink hearts straight at it, and as soon as they make contact and the frog flinches, Aya jumps from the branch she stands on, flaps the small wings to raise her body in mid-air to avoid zombie Hina's black charms, swings her fan to send a wind blade at the face of the woman, then glides toward a branch behind the monster.
Hina smiles, even though she yelps, when she side-steps the wind blade and allows it to strike the toad's head instead, which causes no damage to the monster.
The purple-haired girl shoots a thick beam at random, which causes the zombie to yelp when it hits, then screams as she jumps away from the monster's tongue, and quickly finds herself balancing on the last nearby tree in the sea of yellow water and shouts "um, need some help over here!" then shoots another slow beam as a defense.
The toad roars when the slow beam strikes its pulsating eye, causing it to explode.
It screeches as it scratches underneath the popped sack of flesh while it drains out greenish slimy blood, then the tengu girl glides besides its yellow right eye and flashes it before gliding toward her friend.
Zombie Hina screams "no! I lose again? No fair!" and the towering monster begins its fall forward.
Satori gulps when she sees the monster falling toward her and her gliding partner, waves her arms, edging the tengu to move faster, then gasps and shouts "LOOK OUT!"
The zombie curse goddess has jumped off the toad and is aiming to ram a boot on the reporter's back, but Shameimaru has other plans.
She swings her fan behind herself and gains more speed, catches her partner under her arms, then continues gliding toward the next set of trees away from the giant toad's reach.
Hina screams when the slimy underbelly of the monster sticks to her dress and traps her, and after the ground-trembling thwump, her screams become gurgled groans.
A few minutes after the toad has croaked and its body shrivels, the yellow waters from the pond drain away and the girls can, once again, place their feet on the ground.
The ground has been cleared of all the other toads and the only remaining slime blob is that from the burst sack of flesh from the giant monster's eye.
Beside the creature is the pitiable image of half of zombie Hina's crushed body, her blood spilling from what's left of her torso, her ears and her mouth.
She gurgles a laugh as the girls get closer, using her arms to move herself, manages to turn around, showing no signs of pain as she does, then smiles as she happily says "I lose again. Too bad. No more power. You getting good!"
"Save your compliments. We're gonna kill you anyway," spits Aya with a hateful scowl aimed at the bleeding zombie before her.
The zombie gurgles another laugh, then points at the sky and says "you two too late. You die soon. *Giggle* And when you do, this world become perfect!"
She begins to laugh again, spitting blood everywhere as she does, then Satori grimaces and shoots the first flash, followed by the tengu, who delivers the final blow.
They stare at the unmoving body of the spinning zombie, her smile and gleeful face frozen, then the mind-reader says "some want to stay monsters, other want us to succeed. Aya-chan, I don't understand anymore. Are we really doing the right thing?"
The reporter rubs her forehead, swiftly reaches for her friend's shoulder and pulls her close, then forces her along the continuing path while saying "we are. I know we are Satori-chan. We are getting our homes back and we will. Remember Kogasa, Yamame, Nitori, Reimu, even Mokou, Kaguya, and Yuka and Miss Secrecy Eirin."
There is a long pause between the two as they pick up the pace, then the tengu continues "the Scarlet Mansion is closer. We can't back down now, not after coming so far!"
The satori maiden thinks hard, remembers how they just went through the Tengu Village, then thinks "th-that's right. We have come a very long way, especially Aya! I almost forgot about that. Oh, I hope she doesn't hate me for doubting our goal like that!"
As they continue onward, walking through those vile clouds that shock them lightly, the purple-haired mind-reader sighs and says "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me so suddenly," earning herself a friendly tug from the winged reporter.
A whole hour past and the girls continue walking upward through the darkening brown clouds that continue to punish them with zaps from their yellow bolts.
Though the shocks are light, their bodies are starting to feel cold and numb, but they press on, both holding to each other's resolve to continue the march.
The next set of clouds become darker and more aggressive, the bolts are stronger and now the girls yelp with every shock, falling on one knee yet pushing themselves up, keeping an eye for each other in case one of them needs the extra support, and just like that, everything stops.
They now stand above the unnatural clouds that cover Gensokyo, on a stone path leading directly toward the Moriya Shrine's donation box.
Their frowns slowly turn to smile when they look around at yet another piece of paradise left intact, seemingly unaffected by the magical virus, however, before their excitement reaches their heads, both girls relax their faces and the winged reporter says "remember, there could still be some monsters around here too, just like Kasen's place."
The satori youkai nods, then they both raise their flashing weapons, surprised that their upgrades appear to be completely undamaged from the shocks.
The long path before them is surrounded by green and healthy grass, trees and bushes adorn the surrounding area, some placed in neat lines between white bricks, and the after-midday sun shines its warming light on the peaceful shrine.
The girls cautiously walk up to the shrine, turning their heads around everywhere in case of any sudden attacks, but they reach the donation box without any interruption, and so they relax a bit.
"Phew. So far so good. Maybe this place is clean after all," comments Aya as she fans herself with her hand.
Satori chuckles, breathes in the clean air, and then says "I can't pick up any rotting scents. This place might be truly monster-free after all."
"HALT! WHO GOES THERE!?"
The girls twitch and stiffen at the commands of a young girl's hissing voice and quickly raise their flashing weapons.
They both begin to shiver, but courageously look over the side of the building, looking for the source of the voice.
A green, white and blue blur jumps toward their location from the living quarters of the shrine and they both gasp and hide again from the zombie Sanae Kochiya.
Her green hair has lost some of its sheen, and its length is only enough to cover her head, making her look a bit tomboyish.
Her right sleeve is so stained with blood it almost looks black while the left retains some of its white color, her vest and skirt are also stained with some blood, and by the looks of its shape on the fabric, it seems that blood came from her mouth.
He skin is brown and dry, the left side of her face is so dry her eye socket looks like a hole, and all the white from her eyes has been replaced by dark blood, yet she retains her usual green iris.
She points at the girls with her gohei and demands "what is this? Why do I smell COOKIES IN MY SOCKS? Get out of the house and do the laundry! Now stop fooling around and get me my MP3 player!"
The crow and satori dare to peek one more time, then sigh with relief then they realize the shrine maiden has her back turned to them while she scolds the empty space in front of herself.
They also notice how the skin on the girl's back seems to have been ripped off by force from the waist up, and how she wears her vest under the flapping skin.
The girls get back into hiding, then Aya whispers "I think we better get out of here before she sees us."
Satori nods rapidly, and then whispers "let's go around back and see if we can spot the mansion from the edge there. If that girl's a zombie, the gods must also be zombies, or worse!"
While the girls whisper among each other they remain unaware of the monstrous green frog with glowing red eyes and massive fangs on its lower lips, or the purplish-white snake with black-oozing eyes and bleeding mouth hovering above them.
After deciding to move to the back of the shrine, the purple-haired girl shivers, turns to face her friend, then asks "um, Aya-chan, do you feel like something's watching us?"
Before the reporter can answer, the frog opens its mouth and swallows her whole, and before the mind-reader can call for her friend, the snake wraps her up entirely, then the two monsters zip right through the wall, taking the girls inside the main shrine with them.
A few seconds afterward, zombie Sanae jumps in front of the donation box and screams "a-ha! I found you! Why are you hiding with my cel phone? That is not beef stew you morons! It's just plain STEW! I'm going to kill you. Eh?"
She looks around with confusion, scratches the side of her head, then jumps toward the gate of the shrine and screams at nothing in particular "I HEARD YOU YOUKAI! Kanako said you'd come today! I am Sanae mother*****ing Kochiya! PREPARE TO GET SEALED!"
Inside the dark building, Aya and Satori huddle together in the middle of the dark room, shaken but completely unharmed.
The tengu stops her shaking and looks over toward the source of a mature young girl's voice as she says "we're sorry we had to do that, but we needed to hide you from Sanae, or she would have killed you on the spot."
An older woman's voice close to the other adds "if you don't believe us, look at those L-E-D lights on your devices."
Shameimaru obediently raises her camera and looks at the reddish-orange light LED bulb, then excitedly says "wait, those voices. Lady Yasaka and Lady Moriya? You two are alright after all!"
The translucent images of the goddesses reveal themselves to the girls, showing no signs of mutations; no dry skin, no popped eyes, no disgusting wounds, and no blood staining their dresses.
Suwako is still the child-like blonde goddess in a purple dress, and Kanako is still the well-endowed, mature looking woman with intense blue hair in a red dress.
The goddesses stare at the girls, smile, then simultaneously say "hello there girls."
Aya stomps her long platform on the floor and furiously says "don't you 'hello girls' us! Look at what you did to poor Satori-chan!"
Satori is still on the floor, hugging her knees while shivering violently and muttering "it's going to kill us, it's going to hurt, it's going to kill us both Aya-chan."
The translucent goddesses smile sheepishly as beads of sweat roll down their foreheads, then the goddess of war chuckles and says "er, sorry about that, but we need those appearances or Sanae won't recognize us."
"And if that happens, we'll both go 'poof' before we know it," finishes the little curse goddess.
The tengu girl embraces her friend and whispers "it's ok Satori-chan, it's Suwako and Kanako, and they're alright," then helps her mind-reading friend on her feet, where she finally looks at the goddesses, gasps and exclaims "the-they're not zombies! Aya-chan, they're not zom-bies?"
She notices the odd stares of disbelief from the three girls in the room and asks "um, what?"
The building's backdoor opens up, and from inside Suwako says "don't worry. Sanae no longer comes to the lake. Not since she turned into that."
The reporter and mind-reader walk outside while Kanako says "we can talk while you clean off all that blood and... whatever else you're stained with. After all, water is a divine body that washes and purifies."
Aya looks around and asks "hey, why can't we see you out here?" to which the straw-hatted girl replies "oh, that's right," then she and her older-looking friend become a little bit more visible, though still translucent.
The girls look around before beginning to strip, and while the mind-reader is already removing her white bra, she notices the large difference in bust size between her and her tengu friend, then bashfully blushes and turns around while removing her undergarment.
After taking their clothes off, the girls also notice the goddesses no longer have legs, but wispy tails like that of ghosts, so before entering the water Satori asks "and what happened to you two? Did the magic virus affect you as well?"
She notices the look of confusion on Aya's eyes and says "no, I can't read their thoughts. It's like there's nothing there to read."
The goddesses hesitate to answer, so the girls just shrug and get inside the beautiful glistening, crystalline water, though as soon as they do, the blonde girl tosses their clothes in with them.
"Hey, now we're going to have to wait hours for these to dry!" complaints the tengu reporter after taking her own pant off her face.
Suwako chuckles and says "don't worry, we can get them dry for you in a few minutes," then frowns and says "and yes, this virus has affected us, though in an indirect way."
The girls look at the saddened faces of their hosts as Kanako says "you see, with everyone turned into brainless monsters, there's nobody to gather faith from, save Sanae, whom somehow still acknowledge us, and now you two, which would explain why you can see us, even in this pitiable state."
The girls look at each other and decide to focus on cleaning themselves and their clothes, and as they do, they notice how the still waters seem to consume the washed and scraped off blood and slime; retaining its wonderful appearance.
Noticing their awe, the blond goddess says "a blessing I managed to place on these waters before the clouds got too close. Drink. You'll feel a whole lot better."
The girls quickly take a drink of the water and immediately feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and surprisingly enough, feel as though they've just had a full-course meal.
Before they can express their amazement, they look to the front of the shrine when they hear Sanae shouting "HA! Take THAT Marisa-san! You and your lies will NEVER touch the grace of THIS shrine! NOW GET ME MY CAKE BEFORE I CRY AGAIN! It's still in the oven."
They turn back to the goddesses and watch with amazement as they, even with those ghostly bodies, grab the amazingly clean clothes and hang them up to dry on a few branches.
"Hey, shouldn't you conserve some of your strength?" asks the concerned Komeiji, and Kanako turns around with a smile and says "how kind of you. No need to worry. We can still do this much."
A light breeze starts blowing through the clothes, then Aya notices the pink hearts on Satori's rose underwear and says "oh, I hadn't noticed those hearts there Satori-chan."
The mind-reader blushes and softly says "th-they faded a month after I bought them. They even turned white after the fifth wash. Um, please don't make fun of them."
The tengu giggles, then says "but they look so cute~! I won't make fun of them."
The blonde goddess chuckles and says "too bad the water only restores the fabric but not re-grow it. They will feel like new clothes, but the sleeves and holes..."
The blue-haired goddess sighs, and then asks "I'm sorry, we totally got sidetracked here. Um, I don't want to sound rude, but I am sure you two didn't risk your necks coming here for a bath, am I correct? What is it you want?"
Aya's face completely changes to house a very serious expression, then nods and immediately says "first know we are very grateful for your hospitality, but you are right, we didn't come here just for that."
The naked girls walk out of the water, their skins looking completely renewed after the bath as they sit on the grass to wait for their clothes to dry.
The tengu looks up at Yasaka and says "we need to get inside the Scarlet Devil Mansion from here because there's a huge ice wall all around it, and we can't fly thanks to Reimu and her charms."
Satori bows her head, and then says "it would be of great help, and you'd be helping us resolve this incident with the zombies and monsters."
Having gotten the goddesses' interest, the black-haired girl continues "you see, we recently found out it is Remilia who's controlling all these monsters, and we are sure she's keeping that cauldron Marisa used to make that potion in her mansion."
"We were asked by Miss Reimu to knock it down," continues the mind-reading youkai, "and she said knocking that cauldron down would end this mess for good."
"Yes, Sanae-chan also spoke of a cauldron when she came back that day," mumbles Suwako as she and her translucent friend hold their chins in thought.
Before they say more, Shameimaru continues "please, we have been through so much, and people keep saying we're the only ones that can stop all of this. All we need is a way to get into that mansion and kick that damned cauldron," then she starts sobbing as she finishes "we want our homes and friends back. Please, say that you can help somehow."
Satori stops comparing bust sizes when her friend starts to cry, sighs to prevent herself from crying as well, then says "maybe you can take these blasted anti-flight charms off our chests! Th-that would be of great help!"
The goddesses shake their said heads, and then Kanako says "these can only be removed by Reimu herself. She made them in the name of the Hakurei god, so there's nothing we can do."
"However," begins Suwako, quickly raising the girls' hopes, "we CAN help you get into the mansion, but to do that, you'll need to climb a little higher."
"Heaven?" questions the tengu girl after she cleans the tears off her face with the lake's water.
Kanako offers the girls their dried clothes back while saying "we can send you there directly and send a guide to take you to where you need to be so that you know where the mansion exactly is, and drop on it. However..."
Suwako gives the girl a very stern look and says "we do not know if heaven has been affected at all by this virus thingy. If you go up there, you will want to be well prepared for anything. And also, do not expect an elevator to the mansion. Tengu, you will have to carry your weight and that of your friend's while you descend. Are you two alright with that?"
Aya buttons her shirt as she nods, then Satori asks "so when can we set out?"
"Right now," replies the goddess of war with a simple gesture of her hand.
"But before you go," begins the goddess of nature and curses, "seeing as you're using those cubes to carry your stuff, please take some water of this lake with you. You might need its divine properties inside the mansion."
The girls nod, but before they ask where they can carry water, the little child-like goddess claps her hands twice and a small hole opens on the ground in front of the girls, and within it are twelve, brand new, empty bottles with caps.
After filling all the bottles to the top and dividing them into six for each, they start putting them inside the cubes while Kanako instructs "understand that once you are up there, you are on your own. And a word of warning: during the nights we see a lot of activity up there, so don't expect a warm welcome."
Suwako summons a small yellow butterfly that immediately flies on to Aya's left shoulder, then says "this little one will guide you to where you need to go. Once it turns red, that means it is directly on top of that mansion. I'm sorry, but you'll have to find a way to break through the clouds on your own."
Satori nods and says "we understand. Thank you for all the help you've given us."
Aya smiles and says "Lady Yasaka, Lady Moriya you can count on our faith forever, and after all this is done, I will make a party on the mountain in your honor!"
The mind-reader giggles, and then says "well, I'm not fond of loud festivities, but after this, I think I can make one party in the underground for you!"
The goddesses smile gleefully, then Kanako says "please make them on separate dates, and we'll bring some special sake!"
The four girls gasp when from behind them Sanae shouts "A-HA! I KNEW IT! YOUKAIIII! It's time for some youkai HUNTING!"
She takes flight and starts drawing a massive pentagram ten times her own size as she cackles like a maniac, then Kanako takes the bleeding snake form and shouts "I'll try to calm her down! Suwako, get these girls out of here, now!"
"Wait, we can help!" shouts the winged reporter, but a powerful updraft picks her and her partner up and rapidly flicks them toward heaven, while Suwako shouts "you focus on your task! Everyone is counting on you! Good luck, and not to sound like a bitch, but please hurry up!"
Before either of the girls can reply, the updraft becomes violent, and now they scream as they are shot up the rest of the mountain toward heaven, where who knows what may await them there.
The girls scream as they continue to be lunged up the sky well beyond past the mountain, and then they feel themselves slowing down until they eventually feel they will start falling.
Aya makes a split-second decision and grabs Satori before they begin their fall and glides toward a concentration of pink clouds.
The seals on their bodies begin to pull them down, burning their chests as punishment for their prolonged flight, but the tengu endures, wincing as she resists the pull and the burn, but the last magical pull is so strong, both girls plunge straight down.
The drop is short and the reporter falls on her face while her satori maiden friend rolls right out of her hands, but they soon find out they are now on the soft but solid grounds that are the clouds of heaven.
"We made it!" expresses the tengu, laughing as her anxiety swiftly becomes relief.
Satori chuckles along with her friend while saying "heh, fo-for a moment there I thought we would plunge back down the mountain!"
"For a moment, so did I," replies her friend.
They slowly recover from their fright, the burning on their chests subsides, and slowly they begin to look around to absorb the state of their surroundings as they get on their feet.
Their faces show evidence of their hopes of a peaceful stroll around the clouds have just been thrashed.
The clouds have a strange and sickly pink color, though it's noon and that could be a reflection of the golden sky lights, the peach trees on the fields to their left have all withered, yet bare some sort of fruit that looks like a rotten beating heart with petrified eyeballs all over, and the atmosphere in this seemingly peaceful world is taken over by a gloomy bluish mist.
Before either girl can comment on their surroundings, the yellow butterfly on the tengu's shoulder takes off on its own, then stalls after getting almost six feet away from the girls.
Aya walks over to Satori and says "come on. Something in my gut tells me we should get out of here as fast as we can."
The mind reader nods, then she and the tengu walk after the butterfly, who resumes its flight as soon as she girls get close.
As the girls make their quiet walk through the clouds, both enjoy the warm rays of the sun making contact with their skins, and to them the sensation is that of having several unwanted tingles scraped off the skin.
Their thoughts become more positive, their smiles start coming more naturally, and after half an hour of absorbing sunrays into their skins, plus the refreshment from the bath in the blessed lake, has the girls feeling completely renewed and ready for what lies ahead.
After ten more minutes of walking by small black rock formations, the tengu girl sighs and asks "aren't we on top of the mansion already? Seriously, how far were we from it?"
"Remember, the butterfly will turn red when we have reached the spot," calmly says the satori youkai, who smiles and says "let's be a little patient. We are getting into that mansion after this, and all will be well again."
Aya smiles as she prepares to reply to her friend, but quickly frowns, grabs the mind-reader, then takes her behind one of the small rock formations to their right, quickly shushing her and pointing to the sky.
From the distance they observe as several angels come flying from above the blue mist, all bearing golden spears and cheering while playfully stabbing each other wherever they can.
Their wings are all stained in blood and missing many feathers, their robes are full of holes and littered with organs, possibly from themselves, and their eyes glow grey and show incredible malice, even though they smile angelically.
"Oh shit," whispers the tengu girl, "the virus got them too."
One of the females stops her bloody merriment to stare coldly at the rocks where the girls hide, then hisses at the others, causing them all to stop and stare.
The tengu girl can feel her heart getting cold and beating hard when she realizes they have been seen, so she takes her camera, fighting against her own nervousness, then thinks "I think they saw us, and I don't think they're friendly at all."
The purple-haired girl just nods in acknowledgement and raises her third eye, looking more steeled and determined to fight than her friend, a fact that surprises the winged girl.
To both their surprise, the angels just fly away, back from where they came from, though Aya manages to hear one of them whisper "inform the Lady of the invaders."
As soon as the tainted angels are out of sight both girls expel their held breath, Satori exposing her fright as she says "boy that was too close!"
Though still shaken, the reporter grins and says "and you looked so calm just now."
The mind-reader simply shakes her head, and then the tengu girl continues "well, I think I heard one of them telling the others to inform someone about us, so there's a big chance everyone knows we are here."
She lowers her tone as her face turns paler "which means we're going to have to fight our way out of here."
The girls pause for a moment, then let out a sigh of defeat, then reluctantly stand up and look ahead to see the magic butterfly waiting for them only seven feet away.
They walk away from the rock formation and from beneath the clouds a pair of angels rush upward with their spears held tight on their arms, and block the girls' progress.
The black-haired male angel scowls at the girls and says "this is our Lady's world; you trespassers are not welcome here!"
The brunette female angel hisses, then sinisterly says "now we're going to have to kill you where you stand!", then looks at the satori youkai and adds "your brain mass should work perfectly as my new helmet."
Aya raises her camera and she and her friend flash the angels right on the face, but all that does is make them raise an eyebrow in question.
"Wha? The flashes don't work?" exclaims the reporter, then the angels laugh as they hold their sides, then the female says "that won't work here, crow-RAHRGH!"
Several explosions force the angels away, then Satori slowly lowers her hands, looks at her friend's impressed face, then says "lucky guess! Now shoot!"
The two angels recover, snarl at the girls, and then point their spears at their hearts and lunge forward.
Aya pockets her camera and takes her fan, swings it once to stop the two angels with a swirling gust, and then Satori raises her hands again and shoots hearts and large orbs at the tainted angels' faces.
They merely grunt and continue their charge, though slowed down by the tengu's winds, so the girls roll out of their way and hit them both with more bullets on the back as they pass them by.
"Now this is MY kind of fighting!" exclaims the reporter while moving around and shooting mercilessly.
"I agree," says the mind-reader as she jumps around the attackers and showers them with small shard bullets, "it is much more natural for me as well."
The pair of angels growl as they turn around, cover their faces with their hands to block the bullets, and soon after their whole bodies glow and they explode in a beautiful light of sliver sparks and golden flakes.
With their enemies' bodies gone, the tengu reporter cheers and shouts "YE-HE-HEA! This is what we want back! Good 'ol danmaku fights without some blood-hungry monster trying to literally eat us alive!"
The mind-reading youkai doesn't seem so excited and continues staring at the spot where last the angels were, squinting her eyes as though analyzing the scene, then gasps and shouts "AYA-CHAN, LOOK OUT!"
She jumps straight to her friend and tackles her away from a silver chained spear, screaming after the blade cuts her calf instead of cutting through the crow tengu's heart.
As soon as they hit the ground Aya holds her friend, inspects the wound on her friend's leg, and just as she's about to sigh with relief from the wound being shallow, she shrieks as the sight that greets her next.
Where there once were two angels, now there's one monster with silver horns over a slimy fleshy head, its jagged teeth shine chrome, its eyes glow scarlet, its black bat-like wings flap and send gusts strong enough to push the girls, its front legs are thick and round and are covered by chrome gauntlets with razor-sharp claws, and its tail is a metal spearhead on a stretchy black tail with spinning gears.
When the monster laughs it sounds like both angels are laughing simultaneously, then it snarls at the girls and threateningly says "you actually dare defy the angels! Divine punishment will be cast on the both of you for such brazen misbehavior!"
The reporter grabs her friend and jumps away before the tail spear and claw-swipe reach them, and as both back away they manage to shower the creature with bullets.
It just laughs as the shots bounce off and fly elsewhere, and then raises its left leg and swipes while laughing and saying "mh-ha-ha-ha! Those tickle! Come on, shoot some more! We dare you!"
Aya grunts, hops away from the monster, then Satori starts to whimper and cries "my leg. It's burning!"
The girl's leg is turning purple as it swells up, and her winged partner gasps and mutters "godsdammit, that's poison," then holds the mind-reader like a princess and jumps away toward the butterfly.
She places the girl under the yellow sprite and asks "can you protect her?" though doesn't expect to hear a reply and prepares her camera once again.
The little butterfly happily says "I'll keep her safe. You take care of that thing," with her high-pitched voice, to which the shocked reporter squeals "you can talk?"
"No time for that! Its weakness is the wings! I just noticed that," quickly says the little sprite, then Shameimaru scowls and nods, then rolls away from the spear just before it thrusts into her back, leaving it to crash against a magical yellow wall.
The tail flicks against the wall and ends up stuck on the clouds for a moment, giving the girl the chance to test-flash the monster, and after the burst of light touches its wings, it roars and drops on its side.
Aya smiles sadly and says "well, back to the flashing," while locking beams on those strong-looking wings and moving away from the reach of the monster's claws.
The demon frees its tail from the deceivingly soft-looking clouds and stands up, but the winged girl clicks the button on the camera and ten thin white beams of light fly straight at the monster's wings.
It screeches loudly when the beams make contact and expand right on top of the skin of the wings; its death scream echoing far; and falls on its head, glows bright white, then it quickly splits back into two angels lying on their faces, unmoving with blood quickly dripping from what the reporter assumes is their faces.
With the angels downed so quickly, the crow girl walks over to her friend, taking her storage box from her pocket and getting a bottle of water from within.
The little butterfly edges on "hurry, she's really hurting," then flies away from above the mind-reader so that the black-haired girl can pour the water on the girl's swollen purple leg.
Satori moans as she holds her knee, looks up at her friend, then smiles as she asks "y-you think that will work?"
Aya just smiles and tilts the bottle for a moment, and almost as soon as the bit of water touches the girl's leg, it recovers its usual color, the swelling subsides, and the cut heals.
Surprised and no longer in pain, the mind-reader says "no wonder Miss Moriya wanted us to take the water with us. I'm definitely making a party for her after this!"
The tengu smiles, rubs her friend's head, then turns to look at the little yellow sprite and asks "so you can talk? Why didn't you say something before?"
"There was no need," casually replies the butterfly, then quickly takes the lead and urges "now come! More of them are sure to come! We need to hurry now!"
The girls quickly get on their feet, nod, then run after the speeding little yellow butterfly as it leads them closer to their destination.
For seven whole minutes the girls run through the vast kingdom that is heaven, chasing after the glowing guide, who eagerly says "we're almost there!"
On the distance ahead, the girls can see a large ruined city, where buildings stand half-destroyed, some ruined by blasts, some by what may have been blades, and the legendary radiance of the cities of heaven cannot be seen emanating from this one.
Instead, the destroyed buildings look dull grey, their walls are stained with blood and random organs stuck on the windows, the floors around the buildings look like everybody has been leaking their juices there, and the dark-grey wall that should be surrounding the city is just a pile of rubble making a circle around the buildings with its golden gates still upright for some reason.
Looking upon the destroyed city and seeing as how they are going directly to it, the tengu girl face palms then complains "aww, come on! Can't the mansion be elsewhere?"
"But it's very close now! Don't fall behind" replies the little yellow creature.
Satori shakes her head and says "just let it go Aya-chan. Perhaps it won't be as bad."
Several grey stones with a flat top, pointy bottom, and surrounded with sacred ropes and charms, fly straight down the path the girls took and keep getting closer to them, forcing them to move faster.
They yelp and stop, and then jump separate ways to avoid the next set of keystones when Iku Nagae drops from the sky surrounded in blue bolts of electricity, and blocks their path.
The left half of her face looks like the humanoid face of a green dragon, with a brown horn on the forehead, has scales around the red slitted eye, scales around the lips and on the nose, and though the right side looks as normal as it gets, it still looks feral, and matches the intense look of the dragon half.
Her attire remains a pink blouse with a long black skirt and a sash with scarlet frills around the edges, but on the back of her shirt some old bloodstains can be seen.
Iku looks up and coldly says "Lady Eldest Daughter, I have halted the intruder's progress!"
"Good work Iku," coldly replies an annoyingly arrogant voice from behind. "You continue to show me why you have EARNED the right to be on my side."
The girls turn around to look at Tenshi Hinanai, whom has long blue hair, red eyes, wears a white shirt with colorful frills on the bottom, a blue skirt, a pair of long brown cross-laced boots, and whose only visible, possible mutation, is a strange black vine that seems to be tattooed on the girl's right cheek that move around like a cluster of coiling snakes.
She takes a small brown stick on her hand, points one of its ends at the girls, and then asks "you two! What are you doing in MY lands?"
Aya and Satori share a look of disbelief, then the mind-reader hesitantly asks "um, your lands?"
"YES, MY LANDS! Are you deaf, or just fucking retarded?" screams the celestial, her hair coiling up and rising on its own as a red aura forms around her frame.
The girls flinch and swiftly make a move for their flashing weapons, but they manage to stay their hands, then the tengu gulps and loudly says "we're here to get to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. We can't reach it from the ground, so we're going to drop on it from here."
The satori maiden points at the red butterfly on top of the gate rubble and says "see? That little red thing there is telling us the mansion is right there, so all we have to do is dig through the clouds and-"
"ENOUGH! LIES!" screams the enraged celestial, and from her stick grows a reddish-orange scimitar the size of Momiji's sword, and she shouts "you are here to assassinate me and take my lands, but you won't get the chance! IKUUUU!"
The half-dragon roars like a beast and a massive blue bolt crashes between the girls, separating them further apart, then the oarfish youkai strikes herself with lightning and rushes after the crow girl with an electronically charged body.
Aya has to roll aside to avoid the tackle and get on her feet, then quickly reaches for her camera and flashes Iku three times before jumping further away, leaving the monster to fall on her side.
Meanwhile, the red butterfly calls "girls! GIRLS! Get over here! Over hereeee! It's safe here!"
The monster oarfish youkai shakes her head as she stands back up, then yelps when she gets struck on the back by several beams.
She turns around and snarls at the mind-reader, then waves her hands around and bombards the purple-haired girl with several orbs of lightning, lifts a spell card above her head, then shouts "Dragonfish, Swimming Oarfish Shot!"
"A SPELL CARD?" exclaim the girls at the same time, to which Tenshi laughs at and says "well duh you retards! Unlike you, we are all civilized up here. Now Iku, finish them!"
A massive lightning bolt crashes down on the dragon girl and separates into five electric orbs that spiral around Nagae, and then she rapidly floats over to the tengu reporter.
Aya takes her fan and swings, but is too late and the electric orbs make direct contact with her chest, making her blubber in an attempt to scream, then she is sent flying several feet backward toward the city.
Being so close to the ruined city of Bhava-Agra lets the tengu see the many actual zombies moaning while limping around, their eyes white and bulged out of their sockets, their mouths open as their blood flows from within, their skins hanging as though gravity has been pulling on them twice as hard, and their robes completely ruined.
The tengu girl feels numb, but still feels disgust as she gazes upon the angels, celestials and dragons limping about the city, some taking bites off the bodies found on the ground.
Meanwhile, Satori gasps and calls for her friend, but the dragon woman is already heading straight for her at full speed, and she now has to think of a plan before she is blasted with electricity.
She looks at the tainted celestial and stares, manages to read her heart for a brief moment, then raises a spell card and loudly declares "Recollection, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody of All Human Kind!"
"YOU THIEEEEEEF! That's MY spell card! Iku, KILL HER!" shouts the enraged celestial as she swings her massive sword around in a fit of rage.
A thick red mist forms around the satori maiden, which becomes a massive concentration of scarlet bullets, then a thin beam appears before the youkai girl and spins furiously in front of her.
Iku frowns, her fear evident in her eyes after her own spell cancels out, and then she tries to fly away, even with Tenshi screaming "what do you think you're doing? Get that spell thief and kill her!"
The oarfish won't have it, and after flipping a middle finger to the Lady, she aims to run away.
A tornado traps her in place just as Satori unleashes an immense scarlet beam, and she screams as her clothes and her skin burn away, while the massive blast continues its punishment without mercy, and is promptly accompanied by countless red orbs shortly after, adding more pain to the half-dragon's punishment.
After the beam stops, the oarfish youkai is left with just a bit of her sash intact, slightly covering her chest, and her skin drips to the ground like water, revealing rotting muscles and bones under a fake film of flesh.
She wobbles around as though looking for support before she falls again, but she's met with the furious Aya, who snarls as she holds her camera close to her face, then says "look on the bright side. We won't want to eat fish sticks this time, but only this time," then flashes Iku twice and leaves her body to drip more skin, which now mixes the her oozing blackish blood.
"NOOOOO! What have you done to my kniiiiiight!" screams Tenshi before Satori turns her attention toward the celestial.
Noticing this, the tainted celestial roars and shouts "you DARE shoot ME with my own spell?"
The mind-reader unleashes the attack in all its fury, the tengu prepares to finish off the remains of the celestial, yet the blue-haired girl remains, standing sideways with her sword lowered as the beam and the many orbs get closer to her.
She raises her sword at the very last second, veers the beam toward the sky, revealing and burning away twenty angels that were stealthily positioned above the battlefield's blue mist, then cackles before shouting "your puny powers can't compare to my own, you thief!"
The beam stops and Satori gasps, then looks to her friend and asks "um, sh-should we run?"
Aya scoffs, takes her fan on her left hand, her camera on her right, then whispers "we'll have take her down, or we won't be able to get to the mansion with her screwing us around."
Three of the five remaining angels in the sky dive toward the girls with their spears held tight, but as soon as they are on ground level there is a flash and a slashing sound and the bodies of the angels fall and roll on the ground while their heads roll over elsewhere.
Tenshi flicks the blood off her sword, looks up at the last two angels, who asks "Lady Tenshi, why?" then points at them and declares "these two invaders are MINE! If any one of you dares interfere I will have your LIVES!"
The tengu looks at her partner and thinks "but aren't angels, you know, already dead?"
The purple-haired girl stares back at her friend and says "we have been killing immortal zombies all over Gensokyo. It is not our place to question the celestial's methods."
"Damned right," says the blue-haired girl, getting the girls' attention while brandishing her sword, then points at them and says "now let's make this quick. I want to feast on your sweet-smelling flesh before noon!"
She grins, bearing her jagged teeth and blood-red gums at the invaders, who look at each other and simultaneously sigh "she's a zombie after all."
As they prepare for battle they remain unaware of their little guide, who desperately calls for them, but fails to get their attention every time.
Tenshi sprints forward, leaving several after-images behind herself, and before the still-living girls realize she's standing between them, the crazed celestial swings her sword.
She manages to cut their shoulders due to some miraculous reflex from their part, and growling with annoyance the blue-haired girl spins in place and kicks them both on the back as hard as she can, sending them sliding on their faces on the hard clouds.
Satori manages to roll on her side before finally stopping on her feet, while Aya pushes herself off the ground in mid-slide and flips and twirls back on her feet, facing the Celestial with her fan ready on hand.
The girls glance behind themselves and realize they are only inches away from several bleeding angel bodies, and notice how many have gouged eyes, dry skins under their bloodied robes, or a few jagged teeth on rotting gums.
They grimace at the sight, turn their faces toward each other, turn their attention toward the roaring celestial, then the winged girl raises a spell card and smirks.
The satori youkai takes her own spell card and she shouts "Recollection, Wind God Hidden Among the Tree Leaves!" at the same time as her friend shouts "Wind God, Wind God Hidden Among the Tree Leaves!"
Tenshi has to stop and marvel at the sight of two identical spell cards activating at once, where light-green shard bullets swirl and swivel around the girls and spread about in uneven triangle formations just as the pattern repeats itself.
The blue-haired girl sighs with delight and says "so beautiful. I...," then her marveled whisper becomes a whiny tantrum as she stomps on the clouds and shouts "I want that! I WANT THAT SPELL TOO! GIVE IT TO ME!"
Before she can make her next move, the zombie celestial is struck on the face, shoulders and stomach with the tiny burning bullets, and although tiny, the sheer number should be causing her great pain, but she only flinches the first three second out of surprise.
The tengu reporter notices this and shouts "increase the power! She's just shrugging it off!"
The mind-reader shouts "understood! Just be careful she doesn't get too- KYAH!"
Tenshi grabs the purple-haired girl by the shirt, pulls Satori's face against her own, grins and asks "too what? Close?" and then head-butts the girl, cancels the spell, and throws her several feet away toward the city.
The mind reader grunts and yelps as she rolls out of control and bumps against rocks from the destroyed gate, then finally stops when she slams upside down against a red wall, where her skirt drops down and exposes her tight black pants.
"SATORIII!" calls the black-haired tengu, canceling her spell and rushing toward her friend, noticing too late that the blue-haired celestial is already in front of her and swinging her sword.
A split second is all Aya needs to take out her fan and swing it fast enough to counter Tenshi's sword with a wind blade, then jumps back and shouts "get out of my way you annoying brat!"
The zombie celestial waves her finger left and right while clicking her tongue, then grins and says "that's no way to speak to the Lady of this land!"
The tengu reporter growls as she swings her fan at the zombie's face, then jumps away to avoid another sword swing.
Meanwhile, Satori recovers herself and sits upright, rubs her forehead while clenching her eyes shut in an attempt to settle her dizziness, then softly moans "oww, this is no good. I need to help Aya-chan."
"No, stay here! You will be safe," replies the familiar high-pitched voice of the little red butterfly.
The mind reader quickly realizes she is trapped inside a translucent red coned wall, and then demands "hey! Let me out of here! Aya needs my help!" while banging her fists against the magical wall.
The little butterfly pauses for a moment, then happily says "I'll call her so she can come too. In here is safe. You need to stay here!"
The mind-reader grabs her own purple hair and pulls on it while desperately asking "but what about that celestial? And how are we going to break through the clouds?"
The little red sprite-like being remains quiet, and then all of a sudden calls "miss tenguuuu! Please hurry up and come! You have to be here!"
Back at the battle, the winged girl continues matching the celestial's sword swings with her fan and creating wind blades to push the orange sword away.
The zombie celestial grunts with every swing, her patience thins, yet she manages to remain cool enough to think.
She feints a swing from the left, and the second the reporter swings her fan that way, the blue-haired zombie spins right and kicks the tengu's cheek with the talon of her boot.
The impact is solid and makes Aya spin in place, but she takes the momentum the impact gifts her, jumps, and lifts her leg to kick Tenshi on the temple and force her to back away, even though it's just two steps.
Shameimaru then takes a spell card on hand and shouts "Wind Sign, Wind of the Tengu Path!" and with a quick flash of her fan she shoots a powerful cyclone that pushes the sturdy celestial six feet away.
Even while her opponent blocks, the living girl takes the chance and shoots several flashes at the blue-haired girl, but all she gains from that is Tenshi's cackle.
The celestial moves left, leaving an after-image of herself cackling, which Aya flashes several more times, then grabs the reporter by the collar of her shirt and head-butts the girl so hard, the thud is heard all the way over to where Satori is desperately banging on that magical wall.
Hinanai grins vilely as the girl before she moans weakly while barely holding to her fan an camera, and says "that was a very nice trick, but now here is mine."
She turns to face the satori maiden in hopes that she will see how her friend dies, tosses the tengu up, then a spell card floats in front of her chest as she declares "Swordplay, Sword of Swagger!"
The reporter only has time to cross her arms in front of her face and pray the camera and fan survive the attack before she is punished by several sword swings that are to come.
It feels like a whole minute has passed before the final strike sends her flying straight toward the city, and she grunts when her head breaks one of the remaining bits of standing stone left from the destroyed wall, and yelps when her left wing is struck against an uneven pile of rubble, then she finally skids inside the red cone where Satori catches her before she crashes against the magical wall.
From outside, Tenshi cheers "oh yeah, who's the most kickass celestial! I AM!"
Aya quickly wakes up on her friend's arms, looks around with fright, and then the mind-reader says "it's alright! She's still boasting over there!"
"My wounds," comments the reporter as she explores her head and wing and doesn't feel any pain from them.
"I told you," begins the high-pitched voiced butterfly, "in here is good for you! Stay and you will be alright! Trust me!"
The girls look up at the fluttering creature, then turn their attention on Tenshi, who now stands in front of them, asking "and what the heck kind of contraption is this?"
She pokes the red cone with her sword, hits it with one full-powered swing, then scoffs and says "wow, what a pathetic device. It trapped its owners, but now..." she takes a deep breath and screams "I CANNOT FUCKING KILL YOU EITHER!"
The girls look around, wondering what sort of twist fate has felled upon them now that they are trapped inside a red cone with a pretty strong maniacal zombie walking around them, outside said cone.
The zombie celestial snaps her finger and smiles, and then happily says "that's it! I'll open a hole and make you fall to your deaths! I'm such an amazing genius, I scare myself!"
She stabs the sword on the rubble, thrusts it through to the clouds, then runs around the cone as she cuts a perfect circle around it.
Just before she cuts the last two inches, she stops, looks at the girls and waves at them with a smile, then sings "have a nice fall ladies~ Please die in dignified positions~" then jerks her whole body with force and cuts the last bit of cloud.
She cackles triumphantly while the girls scream as they fall to their deaths, or so she believes.
Unknown to the self-absorbed zombie celestial, the girls are heading straight down toward their desired goal, the Scarlet Devil mansion.
Aya and Satori find themselves trapped inside the magical wall as they fall straight on top of the Scarlet Mansion's roof.
They believe they are safe inside the healing light, but then the little butterfly says "I'm sorry, but this is as far as I can go," and the girls feel a jolt of panic throb right out of their hearts.
The red butterfly begins to flicker as she says "Miss Shameimaru, Miss Komeiji, it's been an honor. And Miss Shameimaru, your wings should be fine, so you can glide down safely the rest of the way."
With that, the little sprite flickers faster until she disappears, her wall vanishes with her, and the clouds underneath the girls immediately dissipate.
Aya quickly grabs Satori princess style and stretches her small black wings, then begins a spiral glide downward, however, as she does, she and her partner notice many large keystones falling in a constricting spiral next to them.
"Ugh! That bitch. She's not so stupid after all," comments the tengu girl after looking up at the top keystone; the largest of them all, then comments "but she still has an awful aim."
"What are we going to do?" asks the mind-reader, then she gasps when the tengu reporter grins, then she exclaims "please be careful!"
"Everything will be all right," replies the winged girl, then she glides over to the nearest keystone and lands, prevents the anti-flight charm from activate, then cheers "two humans with one stone!"
With the satori youkai safely on hands, Shameimaru runs to the edge of the stone, flaps her wings, then jumps up to the next one and runs to its edge and jumps up to the next.
She continues this odd run up to the next stone and the next, until she finally reaches the largest one.
The SDM is only a few feet away and most of the keystones have already fallen in front of the gates.
Aya tightens her grip on her friend and shouts "before this thing lands I'm setting off toward the lake. With all this racket I'm sure somebody inside must have raised an alert by now."
Satori wraps her arms around the tengu's neck, clenches her eyes shut, then says "okay! I'm ready then!"
The crow girl jumps off the massive keystone roughly a second before it impacts the ground, then glides away toward a cluster of dead trees near the ice wall.
The second her feet touch the ground she leaps to the left to hide behind those trees, and she and the mind-reader sit on the ground with their backs pressed against the wall of tree trunks and wait before peeking through the side.
As they wait, they start noticing a few things, like how far the Youkai Mountain really is from the mansion's island, and soon realize throwing themselves from it would have been a very bad idea, even with Aya's wings.
They also notice how the ice wall prevents the wind from reaching those shores, but how the gusts above it make a frightening whooshing howl as they force their way to the center, where the dark and eerie red mansion stands.
After several minutes of waiting, Aya finally peeks her head all the way, then pulls herself back and whispers "well that's odd. I was sure that at least the gate guard would have come to investigate by now."
After reading her friend's mind, Satori stands up to peek her head from the other side of the tree cluster, then whispers "I don't see any fairy maids either. And look, it's like this place has been abandoned."
The tengu braves exposing herself and hops away from hiding to get a better look at the mansion.
The architecture looks gloomier than before. Its few, dark windows are so full of grime and dust, it is visible even to the mind-reader from that distance.
The bricks are covered with fungi around some corners, and large cobwebs adorn the higher parts of the building, covering even the door on the clock tower balcony that leads into the building.
Noticing this, the reporter sighs and says "well, guess falling over here instead of the roof was a better idea after all."
The walls surrounding the Scarlet Mansion are stained with many blood splatters from within and outside, and there is a large chunk of wall missing to the right of the rusty gate.
"I don't see anyone sleeping there either Aya-chan," comments Satori after her friend realizes the mansion's gate guard is missing from her post.
The girls look at each other and nod, then they brave getting closer while the tengu girl comments "this all seems so weird. No fairies around here, nobody sleeping by the gate, and everything is so quiet."
The more they approach the mansion, the more they can see inside of it, even with the dark clouds blocking out most of the light, and having memories of the place the reporter sighs and says "this is so very wrong, even for this place. Not even a candlestick is lit inside."
Before Satori can comment, she notices there is a shadow moving around one same spot on the garden, then watches as the shadow splits apart into several thin wriggling tendrils, and shakingly says "I-I-I think there's something in there."
Aya scoffs, and then says "probably a mutated rose bush or zombie lilies. The vampire had an amazing garden before this messy incident, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's now one huge hungry monster wanting to eat us, or something like that."
They now stand in front of the closed gate and stare at the ominous architecture, and for a second they believe it is going to come to life and eat them in one gulp, but it just stands there, silent, eerie, and infinitely unwelcoming.
They look to their lefts at the hole on the wall, and immediately notice a small hut made out of wood and from the missing bricks from the wall, and simultaneously exclaim "whoa! Another hut."
As soon as they approach it, the tengu lifts the golden ring on the door and takes a thick piece of paper from beneath it, opens it, and reads it.
If you are reading this, that means that after that fun little ice fairy kicked my butt a second time, I got mad and flew over the wall and raised hell over here. Ok, so I haven't really done that yet, but I will. As fun as that girl was, she still left a sour taste in my mouth. I might take it out on you, seeing as I followed you here after reading your letter and quickly figure out you are not here. You two are getting a spanking. Ah, but what am I saying? You probably got your cute necks in some sort of life-and-death mess, right?
Now, I went ahead into the mansion to see how things are and give you a little heads-up before you go inside. This might, or might not happen. It all depends on my mood at the time. Now then, there is one thing that I'm sure of, and that's the fact that if it's getting late, getting inside the mansion (particularly for you two), is far too dangerous. Don't give me those faces and think about it. That cute loli vampire was a pain in the ass before, and more-so during the nights. Imagine how strong she is now that she's mutated into who-knows-what. Oh, don't worry, I'll refrain from killing too many zombie maids while you sleep, eat and rest, or whatever it is you two do when you are together in an enclosed space while waiting for morning. Oh, and even though it's so quiet out here, don't forget to place one of those ward things in there. You never know what might happen.
Yours truly, Yuka Kazami.
PS: That lovely portrait of myself in the living room is very dear to me. Be a pair of good dear girls and clean the dust off of it in the morning for me. If you don't, something bad could happen.
She girls shiver, their faces turn blue, and then both take a long and deep breath before opening the door, fearful of disobeying Yuka's endearing commands.
The inside is an exact replica of the old hut, save for the kitchen and living room being made of the bloodstained bricks from the mansion's wall and looking a little more spacious.
The rest is made out of wood, and both rooms have a small typewriter beside the small sheeted beds.
Satori giggles and says "can't help but wonder where she gets such clean sheets from."
Aya sighs as she looks out the small window above the kitchen cabinet to admire the darkening sky and places a ward near the doorway, wincing after it shocks her hand yet again, and as she pockets her little storage cube she says "well, it's getting late for real, so I guess we stay here and rest for tomorrow."
She turns a straight gaze at her friend and says "come morning we finally end this! We walk through those doors, kick undead asses, knock that godsdamned cauldron, and we finally get Gensokyo back!"
The mind-reader nods, her face steels, and placing a fist on her chest she bravely says "I am ready Aya-chan!"
They silently gaze at each other, their eyes filling with steeled resolve and determination, then Shameimaru raises her eyes and holds her chin in though, then comments "say, this may sound odd, but I felt kinda weird without having Hatate chasing after us today."
"BIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH~!" echoes the call of the incredibly stubborn zombie tengu, and the girls' faces turn pale.
Komeiji stares flatly at her nervous friend, blinks once as she leans closer, then casually says "you just had to invoke her, didn't you?"
To be continued...
Characters, spell cards and scenarios belong to ZUN -Team Shanghai Alice-
OCT 1 2011
And so we reach the SDM, at last! I wonder what kinds of horrors await the girls in the seemingly peaceful mansion. Ok, so I do know, but I'm not telling. I also wonder what exactly will happen after they kick that cauldron. Ok, I also know that, but I'm not telling. What I can tell you is that next chapter should be a little more frightening than action themed (which seems is what I have been doing in these past chapters.) Ah well, thanks for reading this far. Hope you are enjoying the fic.