The Devil's Due
A Touhou Project fanfic written by Achariyth
Disclaimer: Touhou Project belongs to ZUN and Team Shanghai Alice. I own nothing, and I will remove this work of fiction from any site I can upon a request from ZUN or his legal representatives. I also request that any site that posts this work agree to do the same.
Bright was the day; cold was the fire extinguisher…
Marisa Kirisame screamed as she waved a black wand outside of her door. Thick white clouds hissed out of the witch's cottage, covering everything in a fine chemical snow. As the last cloud faded on the wind, she slammed the door, leaving Patchouli Knowledge and Koakuma standing on the porch. Both girls looked like slender snow women.
Patchouli coughed. "That went just about as expected." She took her hat off and patted it, sending powder into the air. "What's your problem?"
Koakuma huddled next to the librarian and shivered. "I look like an angel," the devil wailed. She flapped her wings, flinging showers of white everywhere.
"Watch it," Patchouli said, backing away from her servant. "Or else I'll find a halo with your name on it." The librarian rubbed at the back of her hand and frowned. "This isn't coming off."
The little devil grabbed Patchouli's collar. "This is your fault. You know what happens whenever you try to get your books back."
A window slid open. Koakuma ducked as a slipper sailed through the air and bounced off Patchouli's forehead. "Go away. Let me sleep," Marisa said.
The elementalist rubbed her forehead. "I want my books," she said, shaking her fist.
A thick wall of powder washed over the librarian and her servant. "And I want to go back to bed," Marisa said, leaning out her window. "You can have them back when I'm dead."
"You want me to wait sixty years for my books?" Patchouli said.
"There is a quicker way," Koakuma whispered.
"Hush," the librarian said, rolling her eyes. "I'm not leaving and you're not sleeping until I get what's mine."
The window slid shut, and a clamor like bowling balls falling down steps reverberated from the cottage. Marisa kicked her door open. In one hand, the witch held a leather codex with her name written on the cover in large letters. In the other hand, her elemental reactor glowed. "Wanna bet?"
"How do you like it when someone comes into your house uninvited for a change?" Patchouli said, planting her hands on her hips.
Koakuma barely pulled her mistress out of the Master Spark's way. The devil groaned as the librarian fell on top of her. Looking up, she sighed as she gazed into the elemental furnace's glow of doom.
"Go away. I have a hangover fit for two oni, and you're not helping. We can talk about this later," Marisa said, glowering as she stood over the tangled librarian and demon. "Otherwise-" the furnace's glow brightened.
Patchouli stood up, brushing at her skirt. Purple cloth streaked through the layer of white. "Very well. Come, Seraphim."
Koakuma ground her teeth as she followed her mistress out of the Forest of Magic.
Rivulets of water streamed down Koakuma's face, carrying shampoo into her eyes. She looked up at the showerhead, forcing her eyes open so that the water could rinse away the burning. Blinking, the devil stepped out of the spray and grabbed a thick handful of her long hair. Pulling it in front of her face, Koakuma hissed and reached for the shampoo bottle.
Her hair shone with the ethereal white gold of diffuse sunlight, as it once did long ago.
The little devil lathered her hair until bubbles covered her head in a thick beehive. She stepped back under the water, clenching her eyes as soap cascaded from her skin. The strawberry scent finally washed away, and Koakuma stepped out to check on her hair. Her hands shook and she flung the shampoo bottle across the shower.
Angel hair. How dare Marisa do this to her, bleaching her hair with the fire extinguisher? Koakuma did not agree with much in the Old Man's book, but even He knew that luxurious hair was a woman's glory. No proud devil wanted to look like those simpering love-freak do-gooder toadies that infested Heaven. Marisa didn't even known how many centuries of work it had taken Koakuma to get her hair a proper sinful scarlet when she ruined it with a shout and a spray of some kind of bleach. No, that little mortal meat sack was too wrapped up in her own little world and that book of hers to care what damage her actions had done to Koakuma's pride and vanity.
Koakuma smiled as she tilted her head. So that little thief had written a book of her own. Had anyone written their name in large script on any of Patchouli's books, the mistress would have ripped her apart. It would be rough justice, but justice nonetheless for Marisa to find out what it was like to have someone steal from her for a change. Certainly, His Infernal Majesty would forgive her this one little indiscretion. The little devil grinned, murmuring happily to herself as she imagined the look on the witch's face.
She froze under the water. Did she just say the words "justice" and "forgiveness" like Michael himself? Next, she'd be talking about love and peace. And when she started talking about mercy, it was all over. She might as well start wearing a halo and a white robe. The little devil wailed. She did not want to be redeemed.
Koakuma burst out of the shower and into a decadent fluffy towel. "Must. Think. Evil. Thoughts," she repeated to herself.
Marisa groaned as she groped for a pillow on her bed. Her fingers pulled a pillowcase into her grasp, letting the witch cover her face with the soft bag of down. Full body pains, headaches, and unwanted visitors had scared away all hope of sleep, yet the witch kept tossing and turning. Maybe she'd get lucky and find rest. She'd certainly feel worse if she didn't. Besides, what would she do otherwise, clean her cottage?
Once upon a time, in between dances at a campfire revel, Alice performed a puppet play about a princess who could not sleep because she could feel a small pea hidden beneath her mattresses. Marisa had laughed at the puppeteer's show. Now the witch wasn't laughing. By the feel of it, someone had dumped an entire can of peas under Marisa's bed, each one small enough that she might as well claim an empress's crown. She blamed Alice. The puppeteer had clucked loud and long over how much Marisa had drank the night before. Even if Marisa's blonde rival had nothing to do with the witch's current discomfort, she still was the one who told that blasted story haunting Marisa's mind.
A gust of wind played across her skin. Marisa burrowed deeper into her blankets.
She should have never taunted Tenshi Hinanawi the night before. The danmaku had been lovely, full of magic and beauty, each cluster designed to impress as well as overwhelm. While the surrounding crowd chose Marisa as the winner in their spell card duel, the only way Marisa had soothed Tenshi's wrath was to share a drink or two. However, the Celestial's competitive streak required mug after mug and shot after shot before it could be quenched. Marisa had swayed her way home under the watchful eye of a guardian angel that had the poor manners to turn down her offer to tuck her into bed.
A vase fell, shattering against the floor. Marisa sat up, flinging away the pillow and her covers. The witch froze as she saw the platinum hair and wings. Was Tenshi no longer content to have nearly drunk Marisa to death that she had sent an angel to finish the job?
Two bat wing ears twitched on the figure's head as it picked something up from Marisa's nightstand. Marisa scooped up her elemental furnace from under her pillows. She found comfort in the soothing glow as she aimed her furnace towards the intruder…
Koakuma flew through the forest, looking back over her shoulder. She cried out, diving behind a thick oak as a dense cloud of danmaku flew past. Behind her, Marisa wove through the trees on her broom. While the combination of the witch's hat and nightgown bordered on the ridiculous, the intricate and devastating barrages were anything but.
The devil clung tight to her leather-bound prize as she burst out of the woods and across the Misty Lake. She skimmed the surface, fanning water behind her and drenching any fairies too slow to get out of her way. Turning erratically, Koakuma slalomed across the lake, eking out close calls as Marisa bracketed her path with lasers and shot. The devil grazed past a Master Spark as water gaze way to a field.
Koakuma looked up and smiled as she saw a familiar fence. Straining, she poured on speed lest Marisa wall off her freedom with shot. She saw a growing blur of red and green. "Look out!"
Meiling looked up to see Patchouli's assistant hurtling towards her, chased by clouds of blue and red. The gatekeeper leapt as the devil slid feet first under her skirts. Meiling landed and reached out, pulling Marisa off her broom by the witch's pajamas. Swatting glowing spell cards out of Marisa's hands, the gatekeeper asked, "What's going on?"
"That little thief-" Marisa said, kicking in the air. Meiling held her centimeters off the ground in a firm grip.
"Alleged, you mean," Meiling hissed. The Chinese girl's eyes narrowed.
Marisa reddened as Koakuma blew her a raspberry, still clutching the witch's book against her chest. "Fine, whatever. Do you allegedly mind allegedly asking her what she allegedly stole from me?"
Koakuma waved as she walked towards her freedom, only to bounce off the mansion's maid. "Sakuya," she said, scooting away.
"Is what she said true?" the elegant maid said. Steel danced in front of Koakuma's eyes. The devil nodded. "The Mistress is asleep, so Lady Patchouli will see to this, as I know she will want to. Come, Meiling, let's bring them both to the library."
Inside the Voile Library, Patchouli Knowledge sat on her favorite chair like a queen holding court. Like Koakuma, her hair had suffered from the fire extinguisher's chemical brew, giving her tresses a metallic burnt rose sheen. Unlike her devilish assistant, Patchouli shrugged off the change.
She looked out over the top of a thick book and frowned. Meiling held Marisa still and steady, twisting the witch's arm whenever she got too out of line. Next to them, Sakuya stood behind a shuddering Koakuma.
"What am I to do?" Patchouli said, turning a page in an alchemical romance. Thick copper and bronze bracelets looped and shone around her wrists.
"She started it!" the devil and the witch said together.
Patchouli held up her hand. Marisa and Koakuma fell silent, assisted by their minders. She set down the romance and slid Marisa's book in front of her. "You've stolen enough from me that, by rights, I should hold onto this until you return my property."
"Hey, I stole that fair and square. You used dirty tricks," Marisa hissed. "I keep on telling you when you can have them back."
"Your search for immorality," Patchouli said, glaring. "Pardon me, I meant immortality, is one of Gensokyo's worst kept secrets. You are right, however, that one of my own caused this." Koakuma shrugged off her mistress's glare. "So I will be giving you your book back."
"After all she's done?" Koakuma shouted. "Besides, I stole that fair and square."
Patchouli opened the tome in front of her. Flipping pages, she nodded as she read. "I'm not done. Marisa, this is an impressive work. You should let us make copies for safekeeping."
The witch shrugged and smiled. "Sure. There's more to sell that way."
"Koakuma, you will make copies for a week. After that time, Marisa can get her book back."
The devil's face fell, and she dropped to her hands and knees as though power had left her. Her shoulders trembled as if she were sobbing.
"Serves you right," Marisa said, laughing.
The librarian held her hand up again. "Since we will be doing this service for you, let us talk compensation."
Koakuma's sobbing melted into laughter. Marisa frowned as she looked around the room. Meiling and Sakuya struggled to keep their faces stern.
"Fine," Marisa said.
"You will return one book of mine," Patchouli said, holding up a single finger.
"Don't you think you're getting the better-?"
"Two books." A second finger joined the first.
"I see. So the fix is in."
"Why stop there?"
Marisa opened her mouth, but Meiling twisted her arm once more. The gatekeeper shook her head. "Listen, for once." The witch closed her mouth and stared at the librarian.
Patchouli shook her head. "I could have gotten more if you had left her alone, Meiling. So, do we have a deal? Your book for four of mine."
"It's not like I have a choice," Marisa said, shaking her arm free. She spit in her palm and held it out towards Patchouli. The librarian recoiled from the witch's dripping hand. "This is how people down my way seal a deal," Marisa said, grinning.
Patchouli sighed and grabbed Marisa's hand gingerly, pumping it once before pulling it away. Wiping her hand on a purple handkerchief, she said, "We're agreed." She frowned and looked at Sakuya. "Is Koa alright?"
The devilish assistant laughed and laughed until tears streamed down her face.
Marisa flew outside the Scarlet Devil Mansion with a wry smile on her face. Sure, she had promised, under duress, to return four books in exchange for her grimoire, but a little deft finger work while everyone's backs were turned had fixed that. She flourished her ill-gotten gains and landed on the Gensokyo side of the mansion's fence.
With a smile, she ran her hand across the leather binding of the topmost book of the stack. Marisa looked forward to reading each of her new acquisitions; otherwise, there would be no fun in the theft. She opened the cover and rested her finger on a random page.
"'I want to use more magic,'" she read aloud, her face growing redder with each word. "'so that I'll eventually be known as a great witch. This book should help; if not, I'll just sell it. I'm sure I can get a high price." She quivered as she found the name of the writer.
The witch dropped the book and flipped open the next. Familiar spell card comment greeted her. The third revealed that stunning sketch of Suika's "Missing Purple Power" spell card that Marisa had drawn some weeks before. The witch didn't even have to open the last book to know it was hers. How could she have here in her hands four copies of a book Patchouli had sworn would take a week to copy? Unless-
Marisa spun towards the Scarlet Devil Mansion and shook her fist at the windows. "KOAKUMA!"
The golden-haired devil waved from the balcony and smiled.
The excerpt that Marisa read is a loose paraphrase from the actual "Grimoire of Marisa."
Thanks again to Kerreb17 for pre-reading and wading through all the typos.