NEWCOMERS

1 : Towers and Mistresses

Yare yare da ze!


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It's a beautiful summer sunrise in Gensokyo, the land of paradise and as if by the command of an art-loving higher power, several wispy clouds hover just in front of the sun, which looks magnificent rising from the east behind the Hakurei Shrine, large and red.

As the sun warms and spreads its blessing of light throughout the dark, cold land and its still-drowsy inhabitants, a shooting star streaks for a second over the Youkai Mountain; a blessing and a window for a fleeting wish for the more superstitious ones amongst us.

Near the foot of the Youkai Mountain and fed by its not-so-feeble river is the Misty Lake; a very large body of water that stretches from the Great Youkai Forest's outer fringes on the Youkai Mountain's lowland areas at the northern shores to the Forest of Magic and the Bamboo Forest of the Lost on the south-eastern and western shores. To the east and northeast are grasslands and a road leading east towards the Farms, Human Village and eventually, if one were to keep walking through it, the Hakurei Shrine.

The scarlet lake's not only the largest source of drinking water, but it is also the humans' and youkai's greatest source of seafood, with everything from snails to even several unique specie of algae-eating shark that both youkai and humans crave and honour as a delicacy. It's also more than large enough to support a large island, which is located a little ways towards the east from the exact centre.

On the island is a large western mansion coloured bright scarlet in over ninety percent of its outside surface area. It has a clock tower with a smaller, rarely-used observation tower on top of it.

That observation tower contains one room and one room only: a small, dusty study with small keyhole-shaped windows on the walls. The only way in and out of the study is a small trapdoor that leads to the clock tower's mechanism control room from where you can exit and enter either the mansion's rooftop or one of its upper floors. As for the observation room itself, there's a desk and chair near one of the windows and a small telescope mounted through it.

It is on the aforementioned chair that the charismatic lady of the mansion, Remilia Scarlet is seated on: one eye trained on the telescope, one hand on a brush and another on a piece of paper she has placed on the desk. On this piece of paper is a drawing so detailed that none would ever guess that such a masterpiece could possibly come from one with such aran childlike physique as her; indeed, Remilia Scarlet, who has ran the Scarlet Devil Mansion for over five hundred years, has the physique of a very young child.

She has crimson eyes and wavy shoulder-length indigo hair with a light-pink mob-cap with a large red ribbon running around the circumference of it sitting on her head. She wears a light-pink silk vest over a white frilly dress. She wears a matching skirt and has a large scarlet ribbon circling her waist and tied at her back. Her vest has a small opening on her back that shows part of her upper back and letting her full black wings through.

Her shoes are black in colour and her socks a cherry pink. And around her neck is a black metal necklace with a triangular crystal with an eerie scarlet inner glow and changes colour depending on which angle you observe it from.

She is stuck for eternity in her nine or ten-year old body for one never ages once one becomes a vampire. However, her mind and most of her personality has gone ahead and developed to maturity. The result is being with both the playful nature with the child and the refined grace and maturity of a lady, which she is. Having servants, she has a lot more free time and boredom than the usual wandering vampires and thus, has mastered more than one genre of art and type of magic, namely; sketching, painting, the violin, the harmonica and the culinary arts, illumination, basic fire magic and particle-based magic.

It is with help of her particle-based magic that she was able to create her sun-blocking scarlet mist over a decade back and got punished for it. Ever since then, she has almost never used any kind of magic for any purpose. She even learned how to create a sphere of darkness around her like a certain youkai, but has found it very inconvenient being unable to see her surroundings and went for a parasol instead. Thus, a regular day at the Scarlet Devil Mansion for Remilia would be running the mansion as a lady would do and randomly sketching or playing the violin in her free time. However, today is not a normal day.

She woke up at midnight and noticed a large silhouette on the lake that she has never seen before. She went to the observation tower and has stayed there since then, sketching what she could make out of the silhouette with her vampire eyes and her handy telescope, which she normally uses for stargazing.

What she has drawn is a vertically-inclined western mansion, very much opposite of her own, which is wider than it is tall, with its only tall point being the clock tower, which is around half the height of the mansion with its observation tower expansion, which is also half the height of the mansion. The drawing itself is so well done that even Michelangelo would turn green in envy; a shining example of over a hundred years of practice.

She looks over her sketch and frowns a bit. It's quite attractive to look at and quite stable in design, she admits. She wonders, however, on how such a massive building appears out of nowhere in one night so quietly- admittedly, her own mansion appeared out of nowhere and in one night, but teleporting such a huge structure did cause a massive magical shockwave back then; traces of it can still be seen in the trees near the Scarlet Devil Mansion. Unlike normal trees, they reverberate with a powerful energy that makes their leaves a waxy gold: having absorbed most of the magical shockwave back then, they have gained magical cores of their own and have been releasing energy since then.

If this mansion was teleported in the same manner as the SDM (Scarlet Devil Mansion), then it would have caused a massive shockwave as well and that would have woken the still-sleeping Remilia. The vampire considers the possibility of the creation of a new and silent instant-teleportation spell, but discards it as impossible. If even personal-use teleportation spells create small magical disturbances, then it would be impossible to cast a spell to teleport a building as large as a mansion without creating any disturbance whatsoever.

She decides that it's time to investigate on this matter herself or rather, has decided. "Sakuya, please come here," she calls.

Her trusted elegant maid Izayoi Sakuya materialises behind her with a very characteristic muted popping sound. She uses time manipulation to get anywhere in the mansion in an instant and the reason why dirt or those that dirty the mansion don't last for more than a second on her watch… a black rat and several others being the only exceptions.

She has dark blue eyes, short silver hair, braided at the sideburns and decorated with green ribbons, a maid's headdress sitting on her hair. She wears an indigo vest over a puffy-sleeved shirt. She has a matching indigo above-the-knees short skirt with a frilly maid's apron on it, black shoes and black knee-length stockings.

"My lady," The maid says as she starts tilting her body forward towards a bow, but before she could do so, Remilia says "Stop!" in a sharp commanding tongue. "You may dispense of the pleasantries. How is the sun-block going along?"

Sakuya does as commanded, straightening up from her pseudo-bow and saying "It is done, my lady," she says. However, for a moment, curiosity takes over her and she asks "But, my lady, we all know that you cannot be harmed by the sun as long as-"

An invisible organ plays a dark, ominous piece out of nowhere as Remilia cuts off her head maid. "It's a secret, Sa~ku~ya~!", she says as she raises her right hand and lightning flashes in the suddenly-dark background.

Remilia jumps back a bit and lowers her right hand, and as she does so, the lighting returns to normal and the organ stops playing. The vampire places her pointer finger on her lower lip as she tilts her head to the side and bats one eye shut. "That was a close one~", she says with a soft, muted voice.

But maybe it was not really a "close one" but a "hit", as a flash of electricity visibly courses through Remilia and jumps to the floor, harmlessly dispersing there. As for Sakuya, she got hit as well; not "hit" as in "hit by lightning", but "hit" as in "hit by cuteness."

As sudden as a cobra strike, the supposedly elegant maid arcs her back and gushes a river of blood from her nose, unable to stand the immeasurable amount of cute-points that her mistress just let loose and falling over, hitting the ground audibly and lying in a pool of her own blood.

Remilia, having observed this scene many times already, knows just what triggered the time-stopping maid and decides to play a bit, acting innocent as she rushes towards the downed maid. "Sakuya~? What happened?", she asks, putting on a mask of worry while intentionally keeping her cute aura. The maid gushes some more blood, though not as much as before due to possible amnesi- err, anemia. Sorry chaps, but I'm just a narrator. I can't read the author's handwriting too well. Anyway, I digress.

The older scarlet grabs her maid by the shoulders and frantically shakes her back and forth, putting on a fake, but utterly realistic troubled tone. "A-are you alright, Sakuya? Answer me!"

Despite being shaken so hard that a normal human would have gone to The Netherworld by sheer force, Sakuya manages to raise her left hand and dizzily say "I'm AlRiIiIghT!"

Remilia fakes a relieved sigh and walks towards the trapdoor. When only her head can be seen through the floor, she turns to Sakuya, who has somehow recovered… Hey- don't ask me how that happened; I'm just an innocent narrator! Go ask the author if you will!

Anyway, it seems like we strayed a bit. As I said a while ago, she turns to Sakuya and, with one eye closed in a cute wink, she softly says "I'll be going to the library then. Take care, Sa~ku


Meanwhile, on the eastern shore of the scarlet lake, a band has just finished playing on a portable wooden stage. All around them is a crowd of cheering youkai, fairies and a few brave humans, impressed by their expertise.

It is a four-ma, err… four-person band consisted of the famous Prismriver ensemble collaborating with the enchanting singer Mystia Lorelei.

Mystia is a night-sparrow youkai with amber eyes, short pink hair and a pair of bony wings on her back. She wears a brownish-pink cap with white wings on the sides similar to her own, a brown dress with winged buttons, long sleeves with puffy collars, and ending in a short skirt with a frilly hem. She also wears thigh-length black stockings that allow only very little flesh to be exposed between it and her dress.* and for footwear, she has knee-length high-heeled cross-laced boots.

Her right hand is waving at the crowd as her left holds a microphone with a wing design similar to that on her cap.

Around and behind her are the three Prismriver sisters. To the left is Merlin Prismriver, the trumpeter of the band. She has slightly-wavy sky-coloured hair, matching eyes and wears a white vest with black trims and light-blue round jewel-like buttons over a white long-sleeved shirt. She wears a pencil skirt matching the vest in hue and red velvet-lined black shoes. Her head is adorned by a hat by the shape of a birthday cake of the same shade as her clothes and with a pointy tip that hosts a blue sun decoration at the top.

To the opposite side of Mystia from Merlin is the keyboardist Lyrica Prismriver, who has amber eyes and matching short brown hair and wears a costume identical to that of Merlin, except that her theme is red and green instead of white and light blue, as is the case of Merlin. The artefact adorning her hat is different as well; a yellow shooting star.

Further away from Merlin is the violinist Lunasa Prismriver, whose costume seems to be an inverse of Merlin's, being black with white outlines, her buttons red and the decoration on her hat being a crescent moon.

Their instruments float around each of their owners, save Mystia, of course, whose microphone is not enchanted or an instrument in the first place. Lunasa's violin is supposed to be of such high quality that even the best Stradivarius would sound like an ordinary mass-produced violin in comparison. Merlin's keyboard is supposed to be able to play any kind of noise that it has been exposed to, including but not limited to other musical instruments, percussion, and even the pitter-patter of little footsteps. As for Merlin's trumpet, it's… well, a trumpet. Better than most other trumpets, but just a trumpet nevertheless. To say that she got the short end of the stick speaks true to her. As for Mystia's microphone, while not an enchanted instrument, it is the best of the best the kappa have created so far, with a never-ending source of power and its own built-in loudspeaker and an anti-feedback mechanism that can make even the best of OUR creations die in shame.

The night sparrow raises the microphone to her mouth and says "And now, for our next song…"

She is suddenly interrupted when a window the observation tower of the SDM bursts open, earning the attention of all the youkai and humans gathered, the four performers included.

As they turn to the source of the noise, from it flies a certain elegant maid by the name of Izayoi Sakuya, flying over their heads and propelled by a massive nosebleed of hers in the same manner as twin-ion-engines do so with a certain kind of spaceship in a certain movie.

Just before she goes out of sight, she manages to be heard as she shouts out "No Regrets!", and with that, she becomes a single point of light in the distance, who I, the narrator, thinks very much resembles how a certain trio always end up at the end of the day.

A few seconds after the maid disappears, her nosebleed starts raining on the crowd, which is now composed entirely of youkai and faeries for some strange reason.

"Blood?" wonders the four performers as they watch the red liquid staining their clothes. Then, suddenly, they get a flash of inspiration. The Prismriver Sisters suddenly start playing an upbeat disco beat without waiting for cue. Mystia apparently knows what to do as well and starts singing her heart out; "It's blood! Halleluiah, it's raining blood! Chin-chin!"*


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

Broken Down 2012:06:20;水曜日;UTC+8

Written by: Zurocha, the Blood-Tea-Lovin' Vampire of Ragnarök

Assists: None

Special Credits: TakerFoxx, for making his MUSGWREE (Mega Ultimate Super Great Wonderful Well-Written Enjoyable Epic) Fic. You could say that his story is a source of inspiration as well. For those who haven't read Imperfect Metamorphosis, please do so. It's the best, I assure you.


AUTHOR NOTES

Please note that I have broken down the first two chapters into six smaller and easier-to-read ones after having done a rewrite of the first chapter. These chapters are made with "seams" and if you cut along those seams, you get perfect smaller chapters (Though sometimes, you'll need to stitch it up a bit.)

The second arc, which should have started in chapter four in the original version, along with chapter three will not be broken down like so, as the seams starting there on are much harder to find. Also, chapter Twelve (Now Sixteen or Eighteen, I think) will be large at 9K+words. I'll try to limit it to 9K-14K if possible.

My updates will also slow as I share the same laptop with my mother, who is a teacher and uses it for writing tests, etc., After all, school has started and that, with my mother's usage of the laptop added into the equation, gives me around a two or three-hour window (four at most) to write/compose/download/etc., so I deeply apologise. It's not as if my lack of updates during summer was bad enough…. Ah, *kowtows* Sorry~

Oh, and I trashed centre-alignment in favour of left-alignment.


FOOT-NOTES, ETC.

*Zettai Ryuuki. I think a lot of Eiki Shiki fans have seen art of her in Zettai Ryuuki-ish costumes.

*Chi (blood) rhymes with Chin-chin, I think… a bit. Just barely. Hangs around at 10%. Not at all. Yup, it doesn't rhyme. Besides, I don't think that the Japanese grammatical system allows the subject at the end of the sentence/phrase… though I might be wrong.